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

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    Actors George Clooney (L-R) and Don Cheadle and The Sentry co-founder John Prendergast discuss The Sentry's investigation into the ongoing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, U.S. September 12, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Actors George Clooney (L-R) and Don Cheadle and The Sentry co-founder John Prendergast discuss The Sentry’s investigation into the ongoing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, U.S. September 12, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    South Sudan’s president on Saturday condemned a human rights group report that alleges he and other top members of the government have profited from the country’s three-year civil war that has killed thousands of citizens.

    The group, The Sentry, which was co-founded by actor George Clooney, accused South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir of enriching himself and several members of the military and government. His rival, Riek Machar, the former deputy president, was also implicated in the report, which was released earlier this week after a two-year investigation. Both denied the charges.

    The investigation looked at the finances of arms dealers, construction firms and investors, according to Reuters. The report included images of mansions and luxury vehicles in South Sudan and around the world said to be owned by Kiir and other senior officials.

    South Sudan President Salva Kiir (C) explains to U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power (R) the effects of recent fighting during a visit by the United Nations Security Council, delegation at the Presidential Palace in the capital of Juba, September 4, 2016. Photo By Jok Solomun/Reuters

    South Sudan President Salva Kiir (C) explains to U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power (R) the effects of recent fighting during a visit by the United Nations Security Council, delegation at the Presidential Palace in the capital of Juba, September 4, 2016. Kiir on Saturday denied allegations of corruption in a report. Photo By Jok Solomun/Reuters

    A spokesperson for Kiir said in a statement the allegations, “jeopardize the pursuit of peace and stability in my country where mutual distrust and a lack of authority are key factors of violence.”

    “We will make sure that each of those allegations are challenged with a counter forensic and legal analysis of the shortcomings of this report,” said Ateny Wek Ateny, the spokesman.

    South Sudan became the newest country in the world in 2011 but erupted in a civil war in 2013 in a conflict cut along tribal lines between the Dinka and the Nuer.

    According to advocacy group Human Rights Watch, at least 2.2 million people have been displaced by the conflicts and tens of thousands have been killed.

    The post South Sudan leader denies getting rich off civil war appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A pipe bomb placed in a trash can exploded in New Jersey on Saturday near thousands of runners who had gathered for the start of a 5K race to raise money for military members.

    The bomb went off at approximately 9:35 a.m. along the Jersey Shore in Seaside Park, according to a statement released by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. The third annual Semper Five run was subsequently cancelled.

    “The start of the run was delayed, which thankfully avoided a large number of runners in the area,” the statement read.

    The device was put in a plastic garbage can before it exploded. Authorities put the area on lockdown as police conducted a search. No injuries were reported.

    The post Pipe bomb explodes near New Jersey charity run for military members appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., August 31, 2016.   REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., August 31, 2016. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters


    With each scripted speech, shift in policy and attempt to whitewash his past behavior, Donald Trump is brazenly betting that voters now settling on their choice for president are willing to shove aside all that came before his late-in-the-campaign recalibration.

    It’s a deeply uncertain proposition given Trump’s staggeringly negative standing with most Americans. Polls show more than half believe the Republican nominee is unqualified to be president, and is biased against women and minorities.

    But his strategy doesn’t require moving huge segments of the electorate.

    Seven weeks from the Nov. 8 election and with absentee ballots already available in a few states, Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton are fighting for a small sliver of undecided voters who, in many cases, simply can’t stomach either.

    “What these candidates are trying to convince the voters of is, ‘I’m not as bad as the other one,'” said Neil Newhouse, a Republican pollster.

    In recent weeks, Trump’s attempts to make that case have sometimes left him looking like a candidate with little resemblance to the one who stunned the Republican Party during the primaries.

    He now largely reads speeches off teleprompters despite casting aspersions on other politicians for relying on the devices. He’s rolled out proposals on policies in which he’s shown no previous interest, including child care and paid family leave. And he’s made overtures to minorities, including blacks and Hispanics, groups with whom he has minimal support.

    Trump’s latest attempt to persuade voters that he’s the lesser of two evils came Friday, when he abruptly reversed course on his lie that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

    Trump’s role as chief promoter of the conspiracy theory about the nation’s first black president has left him with almost no support among African-Americans and has turned off moderates who bristle at its racist undertones.

    Trump’s newfound acceptance of Obama’s birthplace seems unlikely to sway many of those voters. He offered no apology for pushing the falsehood for years and instead said the rumors originated with Clinton, another inaccurate claim.

    “Despite what his campaign strategists told him to say today, I think he still believes that the president wasn’t born in America,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a former Obama adviser who was tasked with releasing the president’s long-form birth certificate to reporters in 2011.

    Clinton advisers say their data show no fundamental shift in the public’s perception of Trump, despite preference polls that are tightening nationally and in some battleground states. They believe a summer spent blasting the airwaves with television ads highlighting Trump’s bellicose behavior and questionable business practices, as well as a series of sharply critical speeches from Clinton, have largely cemented voters’ negative view of the real estate mogul and made it impossible for his pivot to take hold.

    “Trump has been defined,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. She said that’s particularly true among women, who “think he’s the worst date they’ve ever been on.”

    A recent Quinnipiac poll showed 59 percent of likely voters believe the way Trump talks “appeals to bigotry.” Among likely women voters, 62 percent held that view.

    Clinton’s strategy has echoes of the approach Obama used to define Mitt Romney in 2012. Obama’s campaign spent the summer pummeling the Republican challenger with negative ads painting him as a cold-hearted businessman with little regard for middle-class Americans.

    Romney was hamstrung by his inability to access general election money until after the GOP convention in late August, and had few ways to defend himself and never recovered.

    Obama also had a distinct advantage over Clinton: His own favorability rating was solid, making him an appealing alternative for voters turned off by Democrats’ portrayal of Romney.

    Clinton doesn’t have that same reservoir of goodwill and her standing with voters is as shaky as Trump’s, though her chief weakness is trustworthiness.

    Trump aides have long believed voters’ doubts about Clinton created an opening for the Republican, if he could control his worst political impulses. He showed no ability to do that throughout the summer, but was finally persuaded by a new team of advisers who presented him with plummeting polls and a stark warning that he was on the path to defeat.

    Aides say the tightening polls have validated the new approach in Trump’s eyes. He also has benefited from a rough patch for Clinton, including her campaign’s secretive handling of her recent pneumonia diagnosis and a steady drip of revelations about her use of a private email system at the State Department.

    Whit Ayers, a Republican pollster who worked for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign, said the narrowing appears to be more a reflection of Clinton’s troubles than a sign that Trump is improving his standing with the public.

    “It’s hard to believe that impressions of 15 months are just going to go away because the candidate says, nevermind,” said Ayers, calling the public’s assessment of Trump “burned in.”

    If some voters are willing to be persuaded, there’s no certainty Trump can stay on the more measured, policy-focused path his aides have devised. His belated acceptance of Obama’s birthplace was vintage Trump, a media circus that he also used as a branding opportunity for his new hotel in Washington.

    And hours later, Trump appeared to slip off the teleprompter during a speech in Miami when he said Clinton’s Secret Service agents should be stripped of their firearms.

    In an aside that Clinton’s campaign blasted as out of bounds, and the sort of flippant comment his own team has tried to wring from his routine, Trump said, “Let’s see what happens to her.”

    The post Trump glosses over past actions, hopes voters do same appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    altschool

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: A group of private schools started only three years ago by technology industry entrepreneurs has designs on reinventing the way children learn in the United States by using data to personalize education.

    The school system, called “AltSchool,” now operates eight small private schools — six in the San Francisco Bay Area and two in New York — with ambitious plans to eventually license its program and proprietary software to other private — and public — schools across the country. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Joanne Jennings has our story, which is part of American Graduate Day, a public media initiative to address the high school dropout crisis.

    EMILY GREENBERG: What’s that I hear?

    STUDENT: It’s Mission Impossible.

    EMILY GREENBERG: Oh my gosh, we must be in for a real treat.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Emily Greenberg is introducing her students to “Passion Projects” at AltSchool’s newest location in downtown San Francisco.

    EMILY GREENBERG: We’re thinking of passion projects about something I’ve always wanted to know about, but I kind of never got the time to figure that thing out and here’s your time.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: In Greenberg’s class, student proposals range from learning Spanish to building a go-kart.

    EMILY GREENBERG: You’ll need to learn about go-karting. You are going to need materials.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: The mission of this network of private, for profit schools is to personalize the educational experience, in part, by letting these kindergarten through 8th grade students decide 20 percent of their schedule.

    EMILY GREENBERG: So it’s the idea that 20 percent of their week, or their time, will be spent doing something that’s really personally meaningful to them. It may not fit into, necessarily, our core academic growth, but it’s something that’s truly meaningful to them as a person. It really fits into that personalized whole-child thinking.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: The concept of 20 percent time originated at Google, where AltSchool’s founders once worked. In its early days, google gave employees one day a week to pursue whatever they wanted, passion projects that resulted in products like Gmail.

    EMILY GREENBERG: We’ve done a lot of research into how that might fit into our classroom, and what it might look like at AltSchool.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: The philosophy of AltSchool is to avoid a one size fits all approach to education. Let students choose more of what they do in school, program a “playlist” of lessons responsive to student interests, collect data on how students learn by monitoring their computer use and performance in class, and track progress to give teachers quantitative feedback. The concept came into focus for 35-year-old AltSchool Founder Max Ventilla when he and his wife started to look at pre-schools for their daughter.

    At the time, he was in charge of “personalization” at Google, developing those user profiles based on how you use the internet, which websites you visit, and what terms you search for.

    MAX VENTILLA: As a parent, with my wife, thinking about when my daughter was two, kinda what would she do during the elementary school years, and not necessarily finding those schools that we thought would prepare our daughter, who’s very different than us, for the very different kinda life she will lead. The kind of school that I wanted is actually something that the teams that I’ve always been part of might be able to support. Not just for one school, but for many, many schools in the long run.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Ventilla, whose daughter started AltSchool this year, believes applying Google’s user profile techniques to create learner profiles can improve student performance. So, AltSchool draws inferences about its students the same way Google does, by collecting their data.

    MAX VENTILLA: It’s the same in an education context. The idea that, as you start to have this deep understanding of who a child is, and what a child does, you’re able to start to make inferences and suggestions and say, ‘similar students pursuing objectives like that were really well served by this kind of experience.’ Maybe that’s something that, as a student, or as a teacher for that student, you might want to consider.

    INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY EMPLOYEE: Something that you need to know is that I can definitely see, and so can your teachers, I can see everything you do on your Chromebooks.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Even elementary school students are told every keystroke on their laptops used in class is monitored. Teachers analyze how students answer questions and interact to better understand how each child is learning and then they use that information to customize what they give students to read. Even current event articles on the website “Newsela.”

    EMILY GREENBERG: And this will be how you find an article that I just assigned to you based on your reading level.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: By using the information collected, teachers create so-called “Playlist Cards” — a customized lesson plan for each individual student. Emily Dahm heads two AltSchools.

    EMILY DAHM: Behind the scenes, teachers are creating units made up of these cards. A lot of what the kids end up doing is off the screen. A playlist card might ask a student to play a game or build something, and then they’re going back to that playlist card to document their work.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Last spring, PBS’s “Nova” captured middle school student Juan Martin using his playlist to apply a math lesson about ratios to designing a model home.

    JUAN MARTIN: Well, right now, I have this playlist about being mindful of my scale.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Through a combination of online and in-person interactions with his teacher, Martin realized that one inch in his model could represent five feet at full scale. The lesson, which is preserved digitally, can be useful to other students in the future.

    EMILY DAHM: Our technology enables educators to create curriculum and also capture data about students that can be shared with other educators. An educator might create a unit which can be used by another educator, and that educator might improve upon it and then use it again with their kids. That’s just not something that can be done easily without this technology.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: AltSchool teachers also get feedback from these cameras and microphones hanging in every classroom, recording every lesson.

    EMILY GREENBERG: And it’s great to be able to review and think, “How could I have done that in a better way, or in a more effective way,” or “Next time, when I deliver this mini-lesson, maybe I’ll use a different tool next time,” or “That student looked super off-task, how can I help that student.”

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Alt school eighth grader Janice Demings says she was wary of the cameras at first.

    JANICE DEMINGS: Everyone was like so freaked about the cameras, like, “Oh, my god! They’re spying on us and they have like a whole spy team.” We started a petition to get rid of the cameras just for fun, and now I feel that the cameras are a very beneficial thing because the cameras are here to track how we’re growing as a class, how we’re growing in our interactions.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Only teachers have access to the video, and AltSchool says it follows strict guidelines that forbid sharing it. AltSchool also says it encrypts all the data, which is retained on secure servers. Mark Eisner is the father of 8th-grader Emma.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: One of the ways personalization is possible is by collecting a lot of information about your daughter and the other kids here. How do you feel about that?

    MARK EISNER: I feel fine about it. They do need to collect information and data to make good decisions and I think that’s fine. I mean it’s all oriented toward teaching and you know refining the overall educational model they are trying to do.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Since opening in 2013, AltSchool says its students have scored above national averages in standardized tests but declined to share any scores. A report last year from the Gates Foundation and the Rand Corporation looked at 11-thousand students in 62 schools with the personalized learning approach. It found those students “made gains in mathematics and reading that were significantly greater” than their peers in regular schools.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: For example, during the past two school years, they gained 11 percentile points in math tests. Larry Cuban is a former teacher, public school administrator, and Stanford School of Education Professor. He warns that past efforts to individualize instruction have fallen short of expectations.

    LARRY CUBAN: I’m allergic to over-promising. I’m allergic to exaggeration, because I’ve been in schools for a large part of my life, and I still go to schools. What I want is realistic, evidence-based kinds of things that know the history of these efforts and why they flop before, so you can have a much smarter approach to reforming schools, to improve what goes on in classrooms.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Next year AltSchool plans to open its first school in Chicago and another in New York. And expand further by partnering with other private schools. Eventually, the goal is to license its software to public schools, a potential money maker that’s helped attract 133 million dollars in funding from investors.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: Why should they invest in Alt school? What kind of return are they going to get on their investment?

    MAX VENTILA: They are looking over the very long term. So they are saying, “If this is successful in 15 years, then it can achieve a kind of critical mass. The beauty of that is, it costs a lot to build the first one, but then it’s very, very cheap to build the 2nd one, and the thousandth one, and 10 thousandth one.

    JOANNE JENNINGS: With an annual tuition starting at 26-thousand dollars, relatively small class sizes, and only 450 students enrolled in its eight AltSchools. Larry Cuban is skeptical the methods honed here can be easily applied to large public schools with the greatest needs.

    LARRY CUBAN: That does not make it an easy model for altering or transforming public schools which have a different demography, both in students and teachers. When you have a public school system, in this case of 50 million kids, 3 million teachers, you have a great deal of variation.

    MAX VENTILLA: I think you need to start with an idealized environment if you’re trying to do something really transformatively different. How do you end up in an education future where the people with resources are actually getting the same experience that people with far less resources have? I just have this naïve belief that technology is an essential ingredient in that.

    The post Can a Silicon Valley start-up transform education? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event in Wilmington, Ohio, U.S., September 1, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTX2NSU0

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event in Wilmington, Ohio, U.S., September 1, 2016. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    HOUSTON — Donald Trump, who has made a hardline stance on immigration a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, asserted Saturday that “not one more American life should be given up in the name of open borders.”

    “All across this country, dining room tables have an empty seat because the government abandoned its duty and has not enforced its basic laws,” Trump told a gathering of the Remembrance Project, a group founded to remember those killed by people living illegally in the U.S. and to press for tougher laws. “This has to end. This will end if I become president.”

    Two dozen members of the organization sat behind Trump as he spoke, and several told their stories, often gruesome, of how their loved ones lost their lives. Trump has appeared with members of the group several times, including during the speech to lay out his immigration policy in Arizona last month. He vowed to continue to “shine a national spotlight” on their work.

    “Politicians ignore your cries but I never will,” Trump said.

    Maria Espinoza, founder of the group and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, praised Trump’s advocacy. But the Houston-based group has come under scrutiny for some of its pronouncements, including Espinoza’s false assertion that immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally kill 25 Americans a day.

    Trump has long talked tough on immigration, deriding Mexico as a source of rapists and criminals in his campaign kick-off speech last year and vowing to build an impenetrable wall on the nation’s southern border. He is not proposing a pathway to legal status for people living in the country illegally but has backed away from his call for the mass deportation of millions of people who have not committed crimes beyond their immigration offenses. But he also ruled out what he dismissed as “amnesty,” saying those who want to live legally in the U.S. will need to leave and head to the back of the line in their home countries.

    Trump was also slated to attend a fundraiser in Oklahoma and his campaign indicated that he may make an appearance in Norman at the Oklahoma-Ohio St. football game or at a reception nearby. But arrangements were not made for the reporters who travel with Trump from city to city to follow him to Oklahoma. Trump also planned a rally in the battleground state of Colorado on Saturday night.

    Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, released a two-page letter from his doctor Saturday vouching for his “excellent” health, summarizing his medical history and results of a July physical exam. Pence, 57, released the letter after Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, also provided some details of their medical history. The health of the candidates has become an issue since Clinton stumbled at a 9/11 memorial event and revealed afterward that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia.

    Pence’s doctor disclosed that Pence had basal cell carcinomas — skin cancer — removed from his face in 2002 and 2010. He also had surgery in August 2015 to repair a hernia. The doctor said the only medication Pence takes is Claritin for seasonal allergies, he does not smoke or drink alcohol, has diet-controlled heartburn and exercises four times a week.

    Associated Press writer Scott Bauer contributed to this report from Florida.

    The post Trump says ‘open borders’ cost lives and ‘this will end’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad flash victory signs as they stand at a military complex, after they recaptured areas in southwestern Aleppo on Sunday that rebels had seized last month, Syria, in this handout picture provided by SANA on September 5, 2016. On Saturday, Russia accused U.S.-led airstrikes of targeting Syrian troops. SANA/Handout via Reuters

    Forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad flash victory signs as they stand at a military complex, after they recaptured areas in southwestern Aleppo on Sunday that rebels had seized last month, Syria, in this handout picture provided by SANA on September 5, 2016. On Saturday, Russia accused U.S.-led airstrikes of targeting Syrian troops. SANA/Handout via Reuters

    U.S. military officials said they halted airstrikes Saturday against what were thought to be Islamic State targets in Syria after Russia claimed they killed dozens of Syrian soldiers.

    The announcement comes five days after a ceasefire between forces loyal to the Syrian government and rebel factions, brokered between the U.S. and Russia, took effect. Russia claims the airstrikes killed at least 62 Syrian soldiers, who were said to be hunkered down inside a military base surrounded by Islamic State fighters.

    In a written statement, U.S. Central Command said it stopped the airstrikes outside the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa as soon as Russian officials informed them that “it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military.”

    “The location of the strike is in an area the coalition has struck in the past,” the statement read. “Syria is a complex situation with various military forces and militias in close proximity but coalition forces would not intentionally strike a known Syria military unit.”

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

    The post U.S. halts airstrikes in Syria after Russia says they targeted soldiers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Brooke McGowen said the legacy of Occupy Wall Street exists within protest movements of the last five years. "Whether it’s Black Lives Matter, or whether it’s helping people who are being foreclosed on, there are a lot of things that it became," she said. Photo by Corinne Segal

    Brooke McGowen said the legacy of Occupy Wall Street exists within protest movements of the last five years. “Whether it’s Black Lives Matter, or whether it’s helping people who are being foreclosed on, there are a lot of things that it became,” she said. Photo by Corinne Segal

    Becky Wartell was living in Portland, Maine and applying for jobs when she heard the first rumblings of Occupy Wall Street.

    Her story mirrors many others who gathered in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan on Saturday, exactly five years after the protests began, reuniting with old friends and describing how a small encampment spread to cities across the country.

    In 2011, after staying in Zuccotti Park for several days, Wartell expanded her trip to a week — and for the next five months, continued to commute back and forth from Maine, even when she took a job in Portland. “In the moment, I was like, ‘I have to be there. This is big. This is important,'” she said.

    Becky Wartell came to Occupy Wall Street in 2011 from Portland, Maine, expecting to stay two or three days. She ended up staying a week, and in the weeks that followed would commute regularly between Zuccotti Park and her job in Portland. Occupy allowed people of many different backgrounds and beliefs to converge, she said. "Even when we disagreed, we were open to listening to each other," she said.

    Becky Wartell came to Occupy Wall Street in 2011 from Portland, Maine, expecting to stay two or three days. She ended up staying a week, and in the weeks that followed would commute regularly between Zuccotti Park and her job in Portland. Occupy allowed people of many different backgrounds and beliefs to converge, she said. “Even when we disagreed, we were open to listening to each other,” she said.

    Zuccotti Park became a space where activists from a range of different causes could converge to share ideas, as most of them claimed the common cause of protesting corruption on Wall Street. Critics asked why Occupy could not settle on a list of explicit demands and actionable goals for the movement — protesters answered that the purpose of the movement was not to make demands, but empower a range of communities.

    The encampment ended in November 2011, when police cleared the camp and arrested more than 200 people. But by that time, offshoots had appeared in dozens of other cities, including Boston, Oakland, Portland, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., Toronto, London and elsewhere.

    We asked people who gathered there today what legacy Occupy Wall Street left on social issues, politics and activism. Here’s what they said.

    Sumumba Sobokwe said that protest movements, including Black Lives Matter and protests against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, use methods of protest that developed within Occupy Wall Street. "The inspiration of Occupy -- how we do mic checks, how we conduct meetings, how we do actions -- all of that came out of Occupy Wall Street," he said. "People won’t give us proper credit, they think that we’re dead, but you can see that there are people here. We’ve inspired that." Photo by Corinne Segal

    Sumumba Sobokwe said that protest movements, including Black Lives Matter and protests against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, use methods of protest that developed within Occupy Wall Street. “The inspiration of Occupy — how we do mic checks, how we conduct meetings, how we do actions — all of that came out of Occupy Wall Street,” he said. “People won’t give us proper credit, they think that we’re dead, but you can see that there are people here. We’ve inspired that.” Photo by Corinne Segal

    Heather Hurwitz is a post-doctoral fellow at Barnard College, where her research focuses on Occupy Wall Street, feminism and gender. "Occupy is something that I think about every day. In part because it is my research, and also because Occupy has been the largest outpouring of people for economic change and democratic change that our country has seen over the last five years," she said. "It’s part of a global wave of protest. There’s the Arab Spring, the Indignados movement in Spain, the uprisings of Chilean students, so I see myself as part of the global wave for democracy. We didn’t have that before Occupy." Photo by Corinne Segal

    Heather Hurwitz is a post-doctoral fellow at Barnard College, where her research focuses on Occupy Wall Street, feminism and gender. “Occupy is something that I think about every day. In part because it is my research, and also because Occupy has been the largest outpouring of people for economic change and democratic change that our country has seen over the last five years,” she said. “It’s part of a global wave of protest. There’s the Arab Spring, the Indignados movement in Spain, the uprisings of Chilean students, so I see myself as part of the global wave for democracy. We didn’t have that before Occupy.” Photo by Corinne Segal

    Donna Stein, who protested at Occupy Wall Street in 2011, drew a line between those events and this year's presidential election. "So many people go politicized or re-politicized because of Occupy and saw hope because of Occupy that Photo by Corinne Segal

    Donna Stein, who protested at Occupy Wall Street in 2011, drew a line between those events and this year’s presidential election. “So many people go politicized or re-politicized because of Occupy and saw hope because of Occupy that it lives on, whether it has that name or not,” she said. Photo by Corinne Segal

    Milo Gonzales said he saw Occupy Wall Street as part of a global wave of protest in 2011. "Occupation spread throughout the country and the world, and people started having conversations all across the globe," he said. Photo by Corinne Segal

    Milo Gonzales said he saw Occupy Wall Street as part of a global wave of protest in 2011. “Occupation spread throughout the country and the world, and people started having conversations all across the globe,” he said. Photo by Corinne Segal

    Eco Lake helps operate a farm in Wassaic, New York, which he said became a hub for community organizing in the years following Occupy. "The magic of Occupy, the reason it was viral and contagious, the reason people were so energized and empowered is that no matter what your cause was, no matter which social problem you’ve been subjected to, you are part of the 99 percent. It was that empowering umbrella that actually included everyone and empowered everyone to see themselves as part of a culture that is actually not in denial, not complicit and otherwise disempowered, to change the world," he said. Photo by Corinne Segal

    Eco Lake helps operate a farm in Wassaic, New York, which he said became a hub for community organizing in the years following Occupy. “The magic of Occupy, the reason it was viral and contagious, the reason people were so energized and empowered is that no matter what your cause was, no matter which social problem you’ve been subjected to, you are part of the 99 percent. It was that empowering umbrella,” he said. Photo by Corinne Segal

    Sati Choudhury said Occupy Wall Street inspired many of the same people who supported Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential primary. "It energized a lot of young people and most importantly you can see Bernie Sanders picked up the main things behind what Occupy Wall Street was talking about," he said.

    Sati Choudhury said Occupy Wall Street inspired many of the same people who supported Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential primary. “It energized a lot of young people and most importantly you can see Bernie Sanders picked up the main things behind what Occupy Wall Street was talking about,” he said.

    Mimes gather in Zuccotti Park on Sept. 17, 2016, the fifth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Photo by Corinne Segal

    Mimes gather in Zuccotti Park on Sept. 17, 2016, the fifth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Photo by Corinne Segal

    Signs appear in Zuccotti Park on Sept. 17, 2016, on the fifth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Photo by Corinne Segal

    Signs appear in Zuccotti Park on Sept. 17, 2016, on the fifth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Photo by Corinne Segal

    The post New Yorkers revisit Occupy Wall Street on its fifth anniversary appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A bird flies near a torn Syrian national flag in the city of Qamishli, Syria April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Rodi Said      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX2B1F4

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    HARI SREENIVASAN:  In Syria, where a five-day-old cease fire brokered by Russia and the United States is on shaky ground.  Russia claimed today U.S.-led air strikes on a government military base surrounded by Islamic State militants killed at least 62 Syrian soldiers.

    In a written statement, U.S. Central Command acknowledged it halted the air strike in eastern Syria, near the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, immediately after being told by Russian officials that Syrian forces were being targeted by accident.  CentCom said its coalition forces, quote, “would not intentionally strike a known Syrian military unit.”

    Meanwhile, convoys of aid supplies for Aleppo and other besieged areas remain stalled, with United Nations officials blaming the Syrian government for blocking access.

    For more on the situation, I’m joined via Skype from Beirut by “Washington Post” correspondent Liz Sly.

    Liz, given the information that’s coming out this afternoon, what does this do to the truce that’s been in place for the last week?

    LIZ SLY:  Well, it doesn’t do very much for it at all.  We know that the truce was already not going very well at all.  Lot of things that were supposed to happen, didn’t happen, such as delivery of aid to needy civilians.  There has been lots of fighting along the front lines.

    And now, we have this allegation that the Americans have bombed and killed 60 Syrian soldiers, and they’re kind of admitting that they probably did do it.  So, this is going to send tensions sky high and make things only much more complicated than they already were.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: At this point, does President Bashar al-Assad, accept the U.S.’ contention that this was an accident, that this inadvertent, or does he go forward and say, this is an act of war?

    LIZ SLY: Well, I’m not sure that President Assad was very keen on this truce to begin with.  I don’t think he was too keen on the Americans and Russians teaming up to do military activity in Syria at all.  So, this definitely bolsters his position that this was not a good truce, this is not a good cease-fire, it’s not a good time for ceasefire.

    Now, the Russians are taking a different tact.  The Russians are saying this proves that the Americans have to coordinate with us.

    Now, the Americans do say they did coordinate with the Russians.  They said they did happen to tell the Russians that they did plan to bomb this position, and that the Russians knew they were going to bomb this position.  But — so we don’t really know what happened here, but whatever it was, it’s a giant mess.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You mentioned this earlier — the humanitarian aid that was supposed to get through.  That was one of first phases of the truce.  What was the — what was the progress on that this week?

    LIZ SLY:  There’s been no progress at all.  The aid hasn’t gone into any of the communities at all because the Syrian government has refused to give permission for it to cross the border to enter the city it’s supposed to enter.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  And there was also supposed to be military cooperation by the U.S. and the Russians.  Unfortunately, we’re seeing that that was not the case, that these two clearly hadn’t coordinated, at least in the site of this incident this afternoon.

    LIZ SLY: Well, the military coordination was supposed to follow seven days of calm during which aid flowed unimpeded to the neediest civilians.  Now, there has been relative calm, although fighting has continued on the front lines, but the aid has not flowed.  So Americans are saying the truce hasn’t worked yet.  The Russians are accusing the Americans of not having disentangled the fighters they wanted to disentangle, and now as we see we have this new situation where it does look like some kind of ghastly accident, or whatever you want to call it — act of war– which is what the other side will almost certainly say — has occurred to just blow it all up before it really began.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: “Washington Post” correspondent Liz Sly joining us from Beirut tonight — thanks so much.

    LIZ SLY:  Thank you.

    The post Russia claims U.S. airstrikes killed Syrian troops appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Nearly 1,000 state police and National Guard will be deployed to New York City after an explosion that injured 29 people on Saturday night, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference on Sunday.

    The explosion, which occurred in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, was likely “intentional,” but there was no immediate evidence it was connected to terrorism, said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

    Speaking at a press conference in the neighborhood on Saturday, de Blasio also said the injuries were significant – cuts and burns – but that none were life-threatening. One person sustained a puncture wound, said New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill.

    The blast on the street shook nearby apartment buildings and shattered glass. Law enforcement said they had surveillance video of the explosion but revealed few details. They said that it happened outside 131 West 23st Street around 8:30 p.m. EDT and that the cause was still undetermined. Authorities ruled out a natural gas explosion.

    Police cleared the area and hauled away a secondary device, which appeared to be a pressure cooker attached to wires and a cellphone, a law enforcement official who requested anonymity told the Associated Press.

    “Whatever the intention here, New Yorkers will not be intimidated,” de Blasio said.

    Earlier on Saturday morning a pipe bomb exploded near the start of a 5K race along the Jersey Shore in Seaside Park to benefit military soldiers. No injuries were reported.

    De Blasio said investigators did not immediately see any connection.

    President Barack Obama’s office said he was briefed on the matter.

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    A New York City firefighter uses a wheeled stretcher to carry supplies near the site of an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, U.S.  September 17, 2016.  REUTERS/Stephanie Keith - RTSO81F

    A New York City firefighter uses a wheeled stretcher to carry supplies near the site of an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, on Sept. 17, 2016. Photo by Stephanie Keith/Reuters

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Donald Trump appeared to pre-empt New York City officials when he declared Saturday evening that a “bomb went off” in New York City before officials had released details.

    “I must tell you that just before I got off the plane a bomb went off in New York and nobody knows what’s going on,” Trump said, minutes after stepping off his plane during a rally at an airport hangar in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

    He continued: “But boy we are living in a time — we better get very tough, folks. We better get very, very tough. It’s a terrible thing that’s going on in our world, in our country and we are going to get tough and smart and vigilant.”

    The Republican presidential nominee made the comments around 9:10 p.m., shortly after the explosion in Manhattan’s crowded Chelsea neighborhood and as emergency officials were responding to the blast.

    READ NEXT: Dozens injured after explosion in NYC

    Local authorities have said they believed the explosion, which injured 29, was an “intentional act,” but declined to answer questions about the cause at a news conference that began about two hours after Trump spoke.

    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said then that it was “too early to determine specifically what the incident was caused by” and that the investigation was still underway.

    A spokeswoman for Trump did not respond to an email asking whether Trump was briefed about the incident before taking the stage.

    Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, sought to present a more cautious response, underscoring the difference between the two candidates’ styles.

    Clinton was briefed on the incidents shortly after her speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner in Washington.

    After landing in suburban New York City, Clinton told reporters she had been briefed “about the bombings in New York and New Jersey and the attacks in Minnesota.” She said, “we need to do everything we can to support our first responders — also to pray for the victims. We have to let this investigation unfold.”

    Clinton was referring to a pipe bomb that exploded in a New Jersey shore town and reports of a shooting and the stabbings of eight people at a Minnesota mall.

    Clinton, asked about Trump’s saying that a “bomb” had gone off in New York, said it was “important to know the facts about any incident like this,” adding, “I think it’s always wiser to wait until you have information before making conclusions, because we are just in the beginning stages of trying to determine what happened.”

    This report was written by Jonathan Lemire and Ken Thomas of the Associated Press. Thomas reported from White Plains, New York. Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report from Washington.

    The post Trump, Clinton respond to New York City explosion appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 46th annual Legislative Conference Phoenix Awards Dinner in Washington, September 17, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas  - RTSO7VL

    U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 46th annual Legislative Conference Phoenix Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 17, 2016. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Saturday night he will take it as a “personal insult” if the African-American community fails to turn out for the presidential election and encouraged black voters to support Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

    Obama delivered his final keynote address to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, symbolically passing the torch to the person he hopes will succeed him next year. Clinton, his former secretary of state, was honored for becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major party.

    Obama said his name may not be on the ballot, but issues of importance to the black community were, including justice, good schools and ending mass incarceration.

    “I will consider it a personal insult, an insult to my legacy if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election,” Obama said with a stern look and booming passion. “You want to give me a good send-off, go vote.”

    In her own pitch to African-Americans at the same dinner, Clinton implored the crowd to help protect Obama’s legacy, warning of a “dangerous and divisive vision” that could come from Republican opponent Donald Trump.

    Obama joked about the “birther” issue long promoted and now dismissed by Trump, telling his audience that there’s an extra spring in his step now that the “whole birther thing is over.” But his main message was about voter turnout among blacks.

    He turned quite serious when speaking about voting. He said Republicans have actively added barriers to voting by closing polling places mostly in minority communities, cutting early voting and imposing more voter ID requirements. He called the efforts a national scandal, but even if all restrictions on voting were eliminated, African-Americans would still have one of the lowest voting rates.

    “That’s not good. That is on us,” Obama said. He then told the crowd if they wanted to give Michelle Obama and him a good send-off, “don’t just watch us walk off into the sunset, now. Get people registered to vote.”

    Obama also sought to blunt Trump’s recent efforts to reach out to black voters, saying Trump at one point in the race had said there’s never been a worse time to be a black person.

    “I mean, he missed that whole civics lesson about slavery and Jim Crow, but we’ve got a museum for him to visit,” Obama said, a reference to next week’s opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. “We will educate him.”

    Obama may have been referring to an ABC interview with Trump in 2015 when he asserted the nation’s first black president had done “nothing” for African-Americans. “They are worse now than just about ever,” he said.

    Clinton gave a shorter address. She did not mention Trump by name but showered the president with praise and said the upcoming election would be a pivotal choice for the country.

    “It’s not about golf course promotions or birth certificates. It comes down to who will fight for the forgotten, who will invest in our children and who will really have your back in the White House,” Clinton said.

    “We need ideas not insults, real plans to help struggling Americans in communities that have been left out and left behind, not prejudice and paranoia. We can’t let Barack Obama’s legacy fall into the hands of someone who doesn’t understand that, whose dangerous and divisive vision for our country will drag us backwards,” she said.

    The gala featuring nearly four dozen black members of Congress underscored Clinton’s need for a large turnout of black voters against Trump. In a tight presidential race, Clinton is hoping that African-Americans turn out like they did for Obama’s two victories when they comprised 13 percent of the electorate.

    Black voters were among Clinton’s most loyal supporters during the Democratic primaries, powering her to a series of wins in the South that helped her build a delegate lead against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

    The dinner included warnings about a Trump presidency. Retiring Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who was honored for his service, said of the GOP nominee, “His hatred and his bigotry has pulled the rug off and the sheet off the Republican Party so we can see it for what it is.”

    The gathering came a day after Trump reversed himself on his long-held and false view that Obama was not born in the United States. He acknowledged that Obama was born in America, but then incorrectly suggested that Clinton had started the conspiracy theory during the 2008 presidential contest.

    At the dinner, Clinton said of Obama: “Mr. President, not only do we know you are an American, you are a great American.”

    The post Obama says if African-Americans do not vote, it will be a ‘personal insult’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man dressed as a security guard slashed nine people with a knife at a Minnesota mall Saturday night before he was shot dead by an off-duty police officer, authorities said.

    Islamic State-linked media called the assailant a “soldier of the Islamic State,” the Associated Press reported Sunday. Police said the attacker, who has yet to be identified, made a reference to Allah and asked one person if they were Muslim during the assault.

    The attack occurred around 8:00 p.m. EDT in Crossroads Center, a mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, about 65 miles north of Minneapolis. None of the injuries were life-threatening, St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson said in a press conference early Sunday.

    Anderson said the motive for the stabbings was unclear and did not call it an act of terrorism.

    Witnesses described hearing several rounds of gunfire, causing people nearby to scatter and run. The mall remained on lockdown Sunday morning.

    “We will be diligent and get to the bottom of this,” Anderson said at the press conference. “Starting tomorrow, things won’t be the same here.”

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    Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton holds a rally at West Philadelphia High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania August 16, 2016.  REUTERS/Mark Makela - RTX2LBMU

    Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton holds a rally at West Philadelphia High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania August 16, 2016. Photo by Mark Makela/Reuters

    PHILADELPHIA — Hillary Clinton’s campaign is aggressively outworking Donald Trump in battleground Pennsylvania, a state the billionaire businessman can scarcely afford to lose and still hope to become president.

    Despite polling well in Pennsylvania throughout the summer, Clinton’s team is nevertheless bearing down in a state her party has carried in six straight elections. They are ratcheting up advertising and dispatching their top supporters to Pennsylvania, from Bill Clinton to Joe Biden to last week’s visit from President Barack Obama.

    “We’ve got to fight for this thing,” Obama thundered at a rally in Philadelphia last Tuesday. “I need you to work as hard for Hillary as you did for me. I need you to knock on doors. I need you to make phone calls. You’ve got to talk to your friends, including your Republican friends.”

    At a minimum, an energized Pennsylvania campaign is a balm for Clinton as she weathers a dip in national polls and dips in the swing states of Florida and Ohio. But with roughly seven weeks until Election Day, Trump’s scattershot approach to the state also puts his White House prospects in jeopardy.

    “There is no Trump turnout organization, and you can’t construct one” in the time remaining, said former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell.

    For Trump, nearly any route to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House includes Pennsylvania’s 20 votes. With Clinton’s edge in Colorado and Virginia, and her competitive standing in North Carolina, Trump could potentially win vote-rich Florida and Ohio, as well as competitive Iowa and New Hampshire, and still fall short of the White House unless he can capture Pennsylvania, too.

    [Watch Video]

    Clinton’s strategy is focused firmly on the eastern part of the state. Obama won 85 percent of the vote in Philadelphia in 2012, and Clinton has her sights set on coming as close as she can to his performance there while also outperforming Obama in the four suburban counties bordering the city.

    Almost 2 million votes, or fully one-third of the 5.67 million presidential votes cast in the state in 2012, came from Philadelphia plus Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. It’s a region replete with moderate Republicans struggling with the decision about whether to support Trump.

    Obama sought them out last week as he contrasted Trump’s criticism of the nation’s path with Ronald Reagan’s “vision of freedom.” The message echoes a Clinton television spot airing in the Philadelphia area featuring Romney and Republican U.S. senators blasting Trump as unqualified for the Oval Office.

    That ad is part of Clinton’s deep edge over Trump on television in the state. Her campaign and outside groups helping her have spent about $14 million on general election TV and radio ads through this week, according to Kantar Media’s political ad tracker.

    That’s more than triple the advertising investment Trump and his allies made in the same time period.

    One possible result of the advertising gulf is stalled support for Trump among college-educated Republicans who live in the four counties around Philadelphia. In Montgomery County, for example, nearly half of adults have college degrees compared to 26 percent statewide.

    “Part of the problem he faces is he has built this wall with the college-educated voters,” Republican pollster Ed Goeas said. “As much as he’s doing better in other parts of Pennsylvania, when you talk about the suburbs, he’s struggling to reach normal Republican levels.”

    That leaves Trump needing to overperform in Pennsylvania’s rural areas and working-class cities in the western part of the state. But while Trump’s running mate Mike Pence was in Scranton on Wednesday, the same day Trump’s son Donald Jr. was in Pittsburgh, each of Trump’s own three visits in the past month have been to Philadelphia or nearby.

    Those visits were all small-scale campaign events, not one of the signature blockbuster rallies that make for Trump’s chief organizing tool. And as he has in other states, the New Yorker has ceded the vast majority of his get-out-the-vote efforts to the Republican National Committee.

    The committee touts, as it does in all the targeted presidential states, a statewide staff dedicated to registering new voters and swaying undecided ones. But even they admit Trump faces a “challenge” putting Pennsylvania into the GOP column.

    “We have always known it would be a battle in Pennsylvania,” said RNC spokesman Rick Gorka.

    At Obama’s Tuesday speech, meanwhile, 100 Clinton staff members combed the crowd, armed with clipboards and smart phones, signing up volunteers to make phone calls on Saturday. They found 750, said Clinton’s Pennsylvania director, Corey Dukes.

    That’s in addition to hundreds of neighborhood-level leaders and campus teams at Pennsylvania’s legion of colleges and universities, including six in Philadelphia alone. Dukes said the campaign had just signed up its first Asian and Pacific Islander coalition. It’s a smaller than those in the battleground states of Virginia and Colorado, he said, but it’s one more group signed on to deliver votes.

    Clinton herself is scheduled to headline a Philadelphia campaign event Monday aimed at mobilizing young adults.

    “We slice it pretty thin,” Dukes said. “Everything we do is to support getting bodies to our offices to commit to action.”

    Taken together, Rendell said, the conditions are right for Clinton to amass a margin in Philadelphia and the suburbs that’s too big for Trump to top elsewhere.

    “If you do the math, there aren’t enough votes in the rest of the state,” Rendell said.

    The post Clinton outdoing Trump in Pennsylvania, a must-win state appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo courtesy of Mallorie Dunn

    Mallorie Dunn’s clothing line Smart Glamour aims to be inclusive of all types of women’s bodies. Photo courtesy of Mallorie Dunn

    Fashion designer Mallorie Dunn wants to make clothing for women of all sizes.

    Dunn, the founder and designer of clothing line Smart Glamour, said this is not a common mission in the industry. With Smart Glamour — which she described as a “body-positive clothing line of customizable, ethically made clothing” — she hopes to counter unrealistic body standards that she said pervade media portrayals of women.

    According to research from Washington State University assistant professor Deborah Christel, the average U.S. woman wears between a size 16 to 18, Bloomberg reported. And as New York Fashion Week began on Sept. 8, Project Runway co-host Tim Gunn wrote in the Washington Post that designers have failed to make clothes that fit the bodies of many U.S. women.

    Fashion designer Mallorie Dunn. Photo courtesy of Mallorie Dunn

    Fashion designer Mallorie Dunn. Photo courtesy of Mallorie Dunn

    “I love the American fashion industry, but it has a lot of problems, and one of them is the baffling way it has turned its back on plus-size women,” he wrote. “It’s a puzzling conundrum.”

    We spoke to Dunn about her line and what the future holds for accepting more diverse bodies in the fashion industry.

    What initially inspired you to create Smart Glamour?

    I’ve been doing fashion and making clothing for over 15 years now. I went to college for it, and then I worked in corporate fashion design for a while. And then I left corporate design because I didn’t feel very creatively fulfilled or too happy with fast fashion in general.

    I noticed the extreme pattern of adult women feeling super self-conscious about their bodies and having a really hard time shopping. And it was really frustrating to me because I would get together with a group of women, specifically, although this definitely happens to all people, and it would just kind of spiral down. One person would say something negative about themselves and then somebody else would jump on, and it would just go and go into this downward spiral. And it was just really frustrating, because we have a lot more amazing things to bring, to offer to the world and bring to the table, and yet we’re all focusing on our images, and specifically in a negative way.

    So I wanted to think about why that happens. And the two incredibly generalized reasons that I came up with was, one, that the way that women are presented, in media and in ads and in movies and TV, is just really inaccurate. I live in New York City and I sit on the subway, and what I see in daily life is not what I see reflected back at me. And I’m a thin, white woman, so I can’t even imagine being anything other than a thin, white woman and just not seeing yourself anywhere. It’s insane.

    The second thing is that it’s just really tough to find women’s clothing that fits well, women’s clothing for all bodies. The average size women in America actually just went up. It used to be 14, now it’s between a 16 and an 18, and yet 97 percent of clothing brands stop at an XL. It makes absolutely no sense.

    So I decided to solve all of these things by creating clothing that is for everybody and is actually for everybody, because it’s customizable. We have such a giant size range of XS through 6X, but we’re not even really capped by that because you can get something custom-made to your measurements and it doesn’t even matter what size you are.

    Photo courtesy of Mallorie Dunn

    Photo courtesy of Mallorie Dunn

    What was the #ImFlattered campaign, and what were some of the reactions to it?

    If you look up “flattering clothing,” you find all these articles of like, “10 ways to flatter your body,” “you should wear this,” which is all just nonsense. Who are you really doing that for? Why do we need to look smaller? Why do we need to hide parts of our bodies so that other people are more comfortable? Clothes and happiness in general should be for yourself, not for others.

    So I posted on my personal Facebook just asking people the [last] time that somebody told you, “Oh, you should wear this because,” etc. And I just got flooded with responses of people from all different ages, all different shapes and sizes. Literally everyone had a story about the time that somebody said, “You really shouldn’t wear that because,” blank.

    I decided to collect a group of [women]. I made them clothes that showed off the thing that they’re “not supposed to do.” Not supposed to show their arms? I made them sleeveless. Too old to wear something fitting and short? I made her something fitting and short. And then I have them hold up signs with what people told them.

    Photo courtesy of Mallorie Dunn

    Photo courtesy of Mallorie Dunn

    Why do you think people feel the need to comment on other people’s bodies?

    It’s because they’re insecure themselves. All day every day, we’re being bombarded by advertisements telling us that we’re not good enough, so we need to buy these things and try to reach whatever goal it may be. And once we reach that, then maybe we’ll be happy. Which a lot of people have realized that that’s really not the way that it works.

    When people who are very insecure or who haven’t come to terms with who they are yet see other people who are breaking those rules — who are saying, “Well I’m fat and I’m happy,” or, “I’m disabled and I’m sexy,” or, “I’m things that society tells us not to be” — it’s frustrating to people who don’t feel good about themselves, because they see someone else succeeding at it and breaking the rules that they’re trying so hard to follow.

    What are some of the reactions you get from women who wear your clothing? How does that make you feel?

    I had a popup store in New York City last year. I had a woman come in who was 40 years old and never wore short sleeves or sleeveless anything in her life because she’s been told she should hide her arms. And she was like, “I feel like this is a place where I can step out of that box. This is a safe space.”

    I have two sisters, but one of them is plus size, and she’s older than me, and I never really thought about this company in direct correlation to her and what it might do for her. It just didn’t cross my mind. And then she started buying things from me, and it just kind of spiraled into this wonderful thing where I make almost all of her clothes.

    And her confidence has grown. The kinds of things that she chooses to buy has changed. She bought her first two-piece bathing suit; now she owns, like, six. It’s changed everything about her. And when I did the popup last year, she came to the store for an event. She was like, “Mal, walking down the street and coming to your store was such a different physical emotional reaction that I was not expecting to have, because I used to walk down these streets, and I used to see all of these boutiques that as a plus-size woman I can’t shop in. And now I’m walking down the same street however many years later and I’m coming upon your store, and I know that I can get anything I want in here.”

    Photo courtesy of Mallorie Dunn

    Photo courtesy of Mallorie Dunn

    Have you heard any criticisms of Smart Glamour?

    I definitely get hatred and trolls on articles in media, who just find a picture of a fat woman and want to be mean. It’s not necessarily about my clothing brand, it’s [that] I’m showing pictures of people that don’t seem attractive [to them]. Because my clothing brand is not just your average clothing brand – it’s also a space for education and empowerment and confidence – I feel like it is my responsibility to not only heavily moderate those kind of comments, but when I get comments like that from other women specifically that aren’t outright hateful, but that are very shrouded in, “Well, I’m plus-size too, and I would never wear that,” I try to have a conversation with them. I try to say, you know, “I really encourage you to ask yourself why you’re feeling that way and where that’s coming from.”

    Photo courtesy of Mallorie Dunn

    Photo courtesy of Mallorie Dunn

    Do you think all-inclusive women’s clothing will ever become the norm in the fashion industry?

    I hope so. There’s a lot of very small baby steps happening. I have a really difficult time applauding giant companies when they take baby steps, because I’m one person and I’m managing to do it. When people ask, “Why don’t other designers do this?,” it’s just because they don’t want to.

    There have been a couple designers who just had some plus-sized models mixed in with their other straight-size models and just not even made a thing about it, which is wonderful, and I hope that continues, but I also hope that they then actually put those actions into practice and are making clothes for those bodies.

    Photo courtesy of Mallorie Dunn

    Photo courtesy of Mallorie Dunn

    Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

    The post Clothing designer Mallorie Dunn on the rise of body-positive fashion appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Ground crew hold U.S. and Cuban flags near a recently landed JetBlue aeroplane, the first commercial scheduled flight between the United States and Cuba in more than 50 years, at the Abel Santamaria International Airport in Santa Clara, Cuba, August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX2NQB5

    Ground crew hold U.S. and Cuban flags near a recently landed JetBlue aeroplane, the first commercial scheduled flight between the United States and Cuba in more than 50 years, at the Abel Santamaria International Airport in Santa Clara, Cuba, Aug. 31, 2016. Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

    MIAMI — Francis Suarez comes from a long line of civic and political leaders who have formed the Republican bedrock in south Florida’s Cuban community for a half-century. Yet the 38-year-old Miami city commissioner hasn’t decided whether he will vote for his party’s presidential nominee.

    And he’s not alone. Many Cuban-Americans express solidarity with other Latin-Americans who see Donald Trump as anti-Hispanic. Still others hear in Trump’s nationalistic populism echoes of the government strongmen they once fled.

    “There are aspects of Trump that appeal to parts of the Cuban-American culture: strong leadership, the ability and willingness to say bold things,” says Suarez, the son of a former Miami mayor and a potential chief executive himself. The concern, Suarez says, comes when Trump’s boorishness, bullying and slapdash policy pronouncements “cross the line from bold to wild, unpredictable.”

    How those misgivings influence the votes of hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans could tilt the nation’s most populous presidential battleground state and, depending on circumstances elsewhere, determine whether Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton wins the election.

    Roberto Rodriguez Tejera, a well-known Spanish-language radio and television host in Miami, says he won’t endorse Trump or Clinton, arguing neither has engaged in genuine, personal outreach to average Cuban and other Hispanic voters. But Tejera asks his audiences to compare Trump’s assertions that “I am your voice” and “I alone can solve” societal ills to the initial appeals of authoritarian rulers like Cuba’s Fidel Castro and the late Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

    “It goes well beyond immigration to the very nature of our Latin-American problem,” Tejera said in an interview. “Many of us remember how it starts. It starts with questioning institutions. Then you destroy institutions — you being the only person in the world who can save the nation from collapse.”

    Fernand Amandi, a Democratic south Florida pollster, estimates the Cuban-American vote could approach 8 percent of the 8 million-plus ballots cast in Florida in November. Amandi said Cuban-Americans are “the only Hispanic group in the country” to support Trump over Clinton in preference polling, but not by a margin victorious Republican nominees have managed.

    Trump aides note support from some elected officials and volunteers within the Cuban-American community, but Trump adviser Karen Giorno said his strategy ultimately considers Cuban-Americans as it does anyone else: “They are worried about safety and security. They are worried about the economy. They are worried about drugs on the street. They are worried about the same things other Americans are worried about.”

    [Watch Video]

    Suarez, the Miami commissioner, applauds that approach, but he says it doesn’t account for some Cubans-Americans who are thinking of themselves, for the first time in presidential politics, as aligned with immigrants from Mexico and the nations of Central and South America — a collective class of people who have never enjoyed Cubans’ favored immigration status.

    “Some Cubans don’t consider themselves Hispanic,” says Amandi, the Democratic pollster. But now, says Republican pollster Dario Moreno, Trump has made immigration a “symbolic issue” that penetrates the Cuban psyche. “Anti-immigration rhetoric is taken as anti-Hispanic,” Moreno said, “and you see that even among the old Cubans” who were the first to arrive in Florida as refugees after Castro came to power in 1959.

    Clinton certainly sees an opening. In the last week, she launched an advertising blitz featuring the endorsement of Carlos Gutierrez, a Cuban-American Republican and commerce secretary for President George W. Bush. Speaking in Spanish, Gutierrez calls Trump dangerous and says: “For me, it’s country first, and then party.”

    One of the GOP’s top financiers, health-care billionaire Mike Fernandez, recently called Trump an “abysmally unfit candidate” and endorsed Clinton.

    Other prominent Republicans — Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — have said they will not support Trump, though they’ve stopped short of endorsing Clinton.

    Tejera, the broadcaster, says heavyweights like Gutierrez and Fernandez “won’t move one vote,” but their public backing of a Democratic nominee is a striking development in Cuban-American politics.

    For decades, the equation was simple: U.S. politicians of all persuasions blasted the Castro government and supported the trade embargo first imposed under President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat. Despite mostly bipartisan agreement, initial Cuban arrivals to the U.S. aligned overwhelmingly with Republicans, largely out of anger at Kennedy’s handling of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion intended to topple Castro in 1961. Yet many in that generation have died or are old, and their children and grandchildren, along with more recent Cuban immigrants, aren’t as hard line or simply don’t vote exclusively on “the Cuba question.”

    “We’re starting to see them think and vote like everybody else, not be driven by a single issue,” says Moreno, the Republican pollster and a professor at Miami’s Florida International University.

    Exit polls in the 2012 election found Cuban-Americans essentially split between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, less than a decade after George W. Bush won the Cuban vote overwhelmingly. Obama has since normalized diplomatic relations with Havana, traveled to the island for a state visit and called on Congress to lift the trade embargo.

    Clinton has forcefully ratified Obama’s stance. Until last week, Trump effectively endorsed it, as well, with vague qualifiers that he’d get “a better deal” than Obama. Yet on Friday in Miami, he reversed himself, embracing the hard-liners’ longstanding views and promising to roll back Obama’s actions unless the Castro government expanded political freedoms on the island.

    Rudy Fernandez, 43, who spent almost a decade working at the Republican National Committee and in the White House under George W. Bush, doesn’t mention Cuba when explaining why he will choose between Clinton and Libertarian Gary Johnson. Rather, he argues that Trump has been “deeply divisive” and adds a common GOP establishment critique that the billionaire “is not a Republican … not a conservative” and “lacks the temperament required for the job.”

    To be clear, Clinton doesn’t have a lock on Cuban-American votes Trump may lose. Amandi notes that Clinton’s Spanish-language media presence began months later than Obama’s general election efforts.

    Tejera dismissed Clinton’s south Florida outreach as “meeting with the usual Democratic officials and donors” and perhaps the highest-profile Republicans who can’t abide Trump.

    Then there’s Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s re-election campaign. Moreno described Rubio, the son of Cuban refugees, as a “role model in the Cuban-American community the way Barack Obama is in the African-American community.” Rubio trounced Trump in Miami-Dade County in the March presidential primary, despite Trump’s easy statewide win.

    Brian Ballard, a top Florida lobbyist in Tallahassee and a Trump fundraiser, predicted Rubio will attract Cuban-Americans who will then vote for Trump, even though he mocked the senator earlier this year as “Little Marco.”

    Back at Miami City Hall, Suarez says that’s possible, but he argued Cuban-American Republicans are just as likely to see Rubio as an easy out: They can abandon Trump and still call themselves party loyalists, like always.

    “A presidential election of this magnitude,” Suarez said, “the electorate is going to make up its mind all on its own.”

    The post In Florida, a shifting Cuban vote could be the difference appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a Pledging Conference in Support of Iraq, co-hosted by the United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, Kuwait, and the Netherlands at the State Department in Washington, U.S., July 20, 2016.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTSIWIQ

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a Pledging Conference in Support of Iraq, co-hosted by the United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, Kuwait, and the Netherlands at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on July 20, 2016. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    NEW YORK — The United States, Japan and South Korea are roundly condemning North Korea’s recent nuclear test and calling for tough new measures to further isolate the communist state.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers said Sunday that the North Korean test earlier this month would not go unanswered. The test was North Korea’s fifth and, along with recent missile launches, has been widely criticized as destabilizing to regional and international security.

    Kerry and the foreign ministers met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

    The post U.S., Japan, South Korea condemn nuclear test by North Korea appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S., September 17, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTSO7VY

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S., September 17, 2016. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s most prominent supporters insisted Sunday that he’s put the burden of “birtherism” behind him with his concession that President Barack Obama was born in the United States. But like their candidate, they tried to blame Hillary Clinton’s campaign and rejected any notion that Trump’s political identity is founded on five years of peddling the false rumor that Obama was born elsewhere.

    “It’s over,” said Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

    But saying Trump’s admission of the error was behind him — as two sitting governors and several other Trump supporters did across the Sunday talks shows— doesn’t necessarily make it true. The issue is nearly certain to come up during Trump and Clinton’s first debate, Sept. 26.

    The episode reflects Trump’s penchant for spreading unsubstantiated claims when he stands to gain from them and his refusal to apologize or take responsibility when he’s been wrong. That operating style did not stop the billionaire developer from vanquishing 16 Republican challengers and capturing the GOP nomination. But in a one-on-one battle with Clinton, it can add up to a character questions with three debates and mere weeks to go before the Nov. 8 elections.

    Recent polls suggest Trump may have benefited in recent weeks by his own newfound discipline and Clinton’s missteps. She called half of Trump’s supporters “deplorables” — then apologized for saying “half” — only to fall ill with pneumonia and wobble during an abrupt exit from this year’s 9/11 memorial ceremony. For hours, Clinton’s campaign obfuscated about what was wrong with her. It was the worst stretch of her campaign, and during it, a newly confident Trump for the first time in several weeks began to veer off his written remarks.

    After scripted well wishes for her recovery, he returned to questioning her stamina as she prepared to resume campaigning last week. “You think Hillary would be able to stand up here for an hour and do this?” he asked at a rally. “I don’t think so.”

    [Watch Video]

    And on Friday, he made his usual sarcastic call for Hillary Clinton’s Secret Service agents to be stripped of their firearms, then added an aside to his rally remarks: “Let’s see what happens to her.”

    An uproar ensued over what Clinton supporters said was Trump’s newest suggestion of violence against her. On Sunday, Pence called that interpretation “absolute nonsense,” adding on ABC that Trump was only suggesting Clinton has been protected by gun-toting security guards for decades. Pence said Trump’s point was that “she’d change her attitude about the right to keep and bear arms” if she didn’t have a security detail. In fact, Clinton has not challenged the constitutional right to bear arms, despite calling for some stronger gun control measures.

    Clinton’s campaign on Sunday largely let Trump’s stands-ins on TV splash around in the morass of “birtherism” while it grappled with her critical challenge: winning young voters who don’t trust her and whose support has waned in recent weeks. Running mate Tim Kaine argued there are five “litmus test” issues that show the former secretary of state, not Trump, stands with millennials. The issues, he said, are climate science, women’s health, LGBT equality, immigration and college affordability.

    But Trump’s high-profile supporters weren’t focused on issues. One by one, they argued Trump didn’t start the birther fable, that he’s the victim of a biased media and that people don’t care about the birther issue, anyway.

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s heading up Trump’s transition team and has long said Obama was born in the U.S., insisted on CNN that “the birther issue is a done issue.”

    He blamed a Clinton aide for saying that Clinton herself pushed questions about Obama’s birthplace during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. But that aide, Clinton’s 2008 campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, told CNN that a volunteer county coordinator in Iowa forwarded an email that promoted the debunked theory. She said she apologized to Obama’s campaign chief, made clear “this is not coming from us” and Clinton dismissed the coordinator when she learned about the matter.

    Meantime there’s plenty of evidence that Trump, beginning in 2011, became the chief promoter of “birtherism” as he considered running for president in 2012.

    Christie asserted Trump had not pushed the issue: “It wasn’t like he was talking about it on a regular basis.”

    But in August 2012, in just one example of Trump bringing the subject up, he tweeted: “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud.”

    As recently as January, Trump sounded skeptical on whether he now believed the president was a natural-born citizen eligible under the Constitution to be president.

    “Who knows? Who cares right now? We’re talking about something else, OK?” Trump said in a CNN interview. “I mean, I have my own theory on Obama.” On Friday, he finally acknowledged: “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.”

    The post Trump supporters struggle to sideline ‘birther’ issue appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Patient sitting on hospital bed waiting for surgery looking out window

    Psychiatric beds have been a disappearing resource for suicidal patients in recent years. Photo via Getty Images

    On an evening in Boston in 2013, Brie Bullinger Durant, scared that she would hurt herself, checked into an emergency room.

    Durant, who grew up in the area, managed her depression and anxiety for years with therapy and medication. But on this night, she was having intense thoughts of suicide and turned to the ER for help.

    A doctor asked her question after question, and she felt nervous over seeming numb and withdrawn. She kept thinking: please don’t send me home.

    “I felt like I was going to answer the questions, and they would see me and see how composed I was, and think, ‘Oh, she’s okay, we’re going to send her home.’ That was probably my biggest fear,” she said.

    “We closed thousands of beds and we didn’t cure mental health. The problem didn’t go away.” — David Mattodeo, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems

    Health workers and lawmakers are working to accommodate patients like Durant as America endures a suicide surge, with suicide deaths rising from 29,000 people to 43,000 people between 1999 and 2014. Some have tried to increase the number of psychiatric beds available to suicidal patients, a disappearing resource in recent years that forces patients like Durant to wait longs hours for care. Meanwhile, others are assessing whether the hospital is even the right place to start considering treatment.

    In recent decades, “We closed thousands of beds and we didn’t cure mental health,” David Mattodeo, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems, said. “The problem didn’t go away.”

    Legislation aimed at making psychiatric beds more accessible have collected bipartisan support. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, which was introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), passed the in the House in July with a nearly-unanimous vote of 422-2. It proposes each state create an online database of psychiatric beds with real-time information about what beds are available. Right now, not all state databases are updated constantly, which can hinder placement, Scott Dziengelski, legislative director for Murphy, said.

    This bill would amend a long-standing exclusion that prohibited most people on Medicaid from receiving coverage for inpatient treatment. This could help expand the amount of people on Medicaid with access to psychiatric beds, Dziengelski said.

    Another bill — the Mental Health Reform Act — also aims to expand Medicaid coverage for people staying in psychiatric facilities, co-sponsors Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) wrote in The Hill. The bill has not yet received a vote in the Senate or the House.

    The number of psychiatric beds has decreased in recent years. Graphic by Lisa Overton

    The number of psychiatric beds has decreased in recent years. Graphic by Lisa Overton

    Where are all the psychiatric beds?

    Despite her fear, hospital workers did not send Durant home, but they did say she had to wait for a vacant bed. The wait took overnight, which is not an uncommon situation. She continued her treatment after she left the hospital; today, she wants to help others by sharing her story.

    But patients at imminent risk for suicide can find themselves waiting at the hospital for hours, or even days, for a psychiatric bed.

    “The waiting time to get a bed for a psychiatric patient across the country is a lot longer than for any other medical condition,” Mark Covall, president and CEO of the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems, said.

    In the last 50 years, the number of psychiatric beds throughout the country has decreased, and funding for community initiatives and other non-hospital care for mental health patients has remained scarce.

    Until recently, the bulk of mental health patients were treated in state hospitals. In 1955 there were 340 state psychiatric beds available among every 100,000 people, according to a report by the Treatment Advocacy Center. By 2005, this number had fallen to at most 17 beds per 100,000 — a 95 percent drop, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Many factors are responsible for the drop. During the 1950s, the development of antipsychotic drugs like chlorpromazine made for a quicker turnaround of patients from the hospital. At the same time, shocking conditions at state institutions — such as Philadelphia’s Bayberry hospital, where a former worker told NPR “rows of men were strapped and shackled to their bed frames” — were turning public opinion.

    Politicians began shaping policy around these changing opinions by focusing on mental health services based inside the community instead of hospital accommodations. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy announced a major push to create more community services to hinder hospitalization.

    During the 1960s, federal programs like Medicaid and Social Security began, allocating money to people with psychiatric disorders who were living in the community. But it meant people who still ended up in state hospitals would lose their access to federal funds when they arrived. This move left states with a cost-cutting option: discharge those patients to the community so they could receive federal aid. This policy “effectively shifted the cost of their care from the state to the federal government,” according to the Treatment Advocacy Center report.

    “The state started to close down these beds, [but] the infrastructure that was really required to provide the necessary tier of services in the community never really materialized to the degree that it was envisioned,” Covall said. “You ended up with lots of people who were de-institutionalized, but didn’t really have the services that they needed.”

    There is wide variation in the availability of psychiatric beds by state, according to data from 2007 provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    According to that data, Mississippi has the highest number of beds for its residents, with 72 for every 100,000 people (not including the District of Columbia, where there are 173 beds per 100,000 adults). Nebraska has 54 beds per 100,000 people, Delaware has 49, Wyoming has approximately 49, and New York and South Dakota with approximately 40 also rank fairly high on that list.

    As suicides have increased in the U.S., the number of psychiatric beds available has decreased. Graphic by Lisa Overton

    As suicides have increased in the U.S., the number of psychiatric beds available has decreased. Graphic by Lisa Overton

    How serious is the lack of beds?

    A 2009 study, co-authored by Jangho Yoon, Assistant Professor at the College of Public Health and Human Services at Oregon State University, and epidemiologist Tim A. Bruckner, Associate Professor of Public Health University of California-Irvine, found that a decrease in public psychiatric beds increased suicide rates. (That study looked at state-level data in the U.S. from 1982 to 1998.)

    Mattodeo represents 44 hospitals in Massachusetts that provide mental health or substance abuse services. He said among those hospitals, average wait time for a bed, regardless of the reason, generally ranges from eight to 10 hours. In some cases, it can take days to find a placement, and some people — those who have stabilized at the emergency department — go home to wait.

    This wait time can influence whether a patient receives treatment when they most acutely need it, according to Yoon and Bruckner’s study. A lack of available beds could also lead people to “self-medicate their symptoms,” the study said.

    Without an adequate number of psychiatric beds, people in need are ending up on the street or in jail, Dziengelski said. “These individuals that used to be treated in psychiatric hospitals are winding up in county jails. They’re institutionalized,” he said.

    Meanwhile, the demand for beds is increasing, Mattodeo said. He added that several factors are responsible, including the destigmatization of conversations around mental health in the last few years. Another, he said, is the expansion of insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act to as many as 20 million additional people, according to one government estimate.

    But others argue more beds might not stem the problem.

    “We, almost everywhere, have enough hospital beds,” Mike Hogan, who served as New York State Commissioner of Mental Health from 2007 to 2012, said. “We don’t have enough crisis care, we don’t have enough structured post-hospital care.”

    Despite action by lawmakers to make up for the disparity, psychiatric beds are supposed to be the last resort in a large-scale failure of comprehensive mental health services, Hogan said.

    “There is absolutely no doubt that most people, including many smart people in the field, believe that there aren’t enough psychiatric hospital beds. And because they believe that, they jump to a belief that says that this must be one of the reasons that suicide is going up,” Hogan said.

    Hogan helped develop the “Zero Suicide” approach to suicidal care, a model of comprehensive care for suicidal patients. The model calls for engaging the broader community of a patient — including researchers, lawmakers, family and clinicians — to treat suicidality.

    “Very few places have comprehensive crisis systems. And because no one has seen one, they think it must be the hospital,” Hogan said.

    Melanie Saltzman contributed reporting. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

    The post Why do suicidal patients wait hours for a hospital bed? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A worker carries a container of grapes on his head at a vineyard at Napa Valley winery Cakebread Cellars, during the wine harvest season in Rutherford, California September 12, 2008. Photo taken September 12, 2008.  REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES) - RTR21XFD

    A worker carries a container of grapes on his head at a vineyard at Napa Valley winery Cakebread Cellars, during the wine harvest season in Rutherford, California September 12, 2008. Photo taken September 12, 2008. Photo by Robert Galbraith/Reuters

    Blocking farm workers from a federal right to organize unions would guarantee, “a continuance of virtual slavery until the day of revolt,” a New York politician warned his colleagues during a hearing in the 1930s.

    Eighty years later, with Mexicans having largely replaced black Americans in the fields, farm workers lack the federal rights afforded to most laborers — even as they face some of the toughest working conditions in the country.

    In several states, efforts to expand these rights are moving forward. California passed an historic law on Monday entitling them to the same overtime pay as most others, while New York faces a lawsuit for excluding farm workers from a right to organize and also a Senate bill that would change that. But the bulk of farm workers in the U.S. remain excluded from freedoms outlined in the National Labor Relations Act from 1935 and the Fair and Labor Standards Act from 1938 — exceptions said to be written by politicians who represented Southern plantation owners.

    “The entire agricultural industry’s greatest subsidy is the lack of protection for agricultural workers,” said Margaret Gray, who interviewed 160 farm workers in New York’s Hudson Valley for her book, “Labor and the Locavore: The Making of a Comprehensive Food Ethic.”

    “The system was dependent on the exploitation of slaves. That legacy carries through and directly affects farm workers,” she said.

    The decision to exclude farm workers from certain labor protections was established during the New Deal Era.

    The workers — who were almost exclusively black — were never included in the discussions, nor did representatives mention race. But New York Rep. Vito Marcantonio was the principal voice of dissent, saying they should be able to organize against “the most outrageous exploitation in America.”

    “A continuance of these conditions is preparing the way for a desperate revolt,” Marcantonio said.

    Despite Marcantonio’s efforts, the National Labor Relations Act passed. Another politician later said farm workers were excluded from the rights because the act would not have gone through the Senate “with such a disproportionate representation of rural people.”

    Farm workers pick eggplant in the early morning fog on a farm in Rancho Santa Fe, California United States August 31, 2016.    REUTERS/Mike Blake  - RTX2NQI4

    Farm workers pick eggplant in the early morning fog on a farm in Rancho Santa Fe, California United States August 31, 2016. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    California, with a $54 billion agricultural industry and about 417,000 workers, has by far the most productive farms in the nation. It has led the country in addressing these disparities, most recently with a bill that will expand when farm workers are entitled to better overtime pay.

    On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1066, which in 2019 will start phasing in new rules to provide overtime pay for more than eight hours of work a day, or 40 hours a week. It will lower the current 10-hour-day threshold by half an hour each year until it reaches the new standard by 2022.

    During his first year in office in 1975, Brown had also signed a landmark agreement that gave farm workers the right to organize.

    But farm workers in many other states are still trapped in conditions that were outlawed for most others in the 1930s.

    The agriculture industry was and continues to be one of the most dangerous in the private sector. In 2011, 570 of them died, which is seven times the rate of the national average among workers in private industries. They often support families off meager wages and live in isolation during seasonal work. And since many are undocumented, they often live in fear that any grievances could get them deported, said Gray.

    “It almost replaces the need for racism, because there’s a new fear-based system by the state if you’re undocumented,” Gray said.

    Law Professor Juan Perea of Loyola University Chicago traced the origins of these laws for the Ohio State Law Journal in 2011.

    “The original, Southern desire to preserve an exploited, economically deprived non-white agricultural labor force pinned to the bottom of the social and economic hierarchy continues to manifest itself full force,” Perea told the NewsHour. “The only difference today is now it’s brown and black people.”

    An agricultural worker survey in 2010 under the U.S. Department of Labor revealed that 75 percent of farm workers in the nation were born in Mexico and 53 percent of respondents were undocumented, making statistics often difficult to acquire. The U.S. Department of Agriculture states that there were more than 1 million of farm workers in 2012, making up less than 1 percent of the waged workers in the country “and continue to be one of the most economically disadvantaged groups.

    The New York Civil Liberties Union echoes Perea’s sentiment in a civil suit against New York that it filed in May. It states that a worker at one of New York’s biggest dairy farms was fired for meeting with people who help farm workers organize to talk about getting English classes and gloves to protect the workers from dangerous chemicals.

    The lawsuit says the retribution was a violation of the New York State Constitution, which guarantees that “employees shall have the right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing.”

    Excluding farm workers from rights guaranteed in the state constitution is a “racist, holdover policy from Jim Crow,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman recently said. “It’s something that feels absolutely obvious now but was hiding in plain sight before.”

    New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Governor Andrew Cuomo agreed that it was unconstitutional, announcing the administration would not defend the act in court.

    Now the New York Farm Bureau, comprised of farm owners who feel they have been abandoned by the government, is attempting to intervene and preserve the exclusion, “because the interest of its members will not be represented.”

    Gray pointed out an irony in this: the bureau is only able to intercede because of farm owners’ right to organize.

    “When you look at something like the New York state Farm Bureau, it’s a multi-million dollar organization that has probably a dozen lobbyists,” she said. “The organizations that represent farm workers, they’re struggling financially and with resources.”

    But she said that empowering farm workers with the same civil rights as most other laborers could be a hard hit to the farm owners’ bottom lines, which are already depleted by the rising costs of resources and competition from other countries. Any proposed changes are always met with mountains of resistance, she said.

    “Leave it to New York City politicians to get it all wrong about agriculture and family farmers,” Assemblyman Marc Butler (R,C-Newport) wrote in a statement in response to Cuomo. “Gov. Cuomo and others like him have done much to vilify the family farmer.”

    Which may be why Brown signed the overtime legislation without providing comment. A spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times that he is letting the signature speak for itself.

    His decision was commended by the U.S. Department of Labor, which is the arbiter of the wage bill that excludes farm workers. In a follow-up email, a spokesperson said that Congress wrote the federal statute that the department is tasked with enforcing.

    The National Labor Relations Board, which enforces the federal act that protects employees who want to organize, said the same thing — unless Congress changes America’s slave-era agricultural worker rules, it’s not part of the board’s job to protect them.

    “We enforce legislation as it is enacted,” said the board’s spokeswoman Jessica Kahanek in an email.

    The post When labor laws left farm workers behind — and vulnerable to abuse appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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