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

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    Shortwave is a podcast. That you listen to. With your ears.

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Concern has been growing about possible cyber-manipulation of the U.S. election since revelations in June that the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Committee’s data had been stolen.

    U.S. intelligence official pointed the finger at Russian-government-linked hackers, though wouldn’t say so publicly. Separately, Illinois and Arizona’s voter registration databases were penetrated in June, forcing them to temporarily shut down.

    This week, FBI Director James Comey told Congress there had been new attempts to penetrate many more state voter databases.

    Margaret Warner has been looking into this and joins me now.

    So, what’s the real danger to the elections if voter registration databases are being hacked?

    MARGARET WARNER: Hari, on one hand, it could be strictly criminal. People want to get addresses, home phone numbers, e-mails, and use it for criminal purposes.

    And many states have had to deal with that in the past. But the other danger is that that information can be used to selectively used to manipulate the vote on Election Day.

    For example, send out e-mails to voters in certain districts, perhaps minority districts, and, oh, your registration place has been changed, your voting place has been changed. And this has been done often by phone. It’s an old, old trick. Or to simply to delete them from the database, so when they get there, there is incredible confusion.

    So, as a senior homeland security official told me this afternoon, the other danger that really worries us is that just the news of these hacks undermined American voters’ view of the credibility of the U.S. election system. And there are certainly foreign powers who would like to do that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, let’s talk about those foreign powers.

    Do the U.S. officials believe that the Russians are behind this or any of the other hacks that have been related so far?

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes.

    First of all, they established that they were behind the hacks you mentioned earlier, the DNC and the DCCC, and that there are two sort of outfits, what is called Fancy Bear — it’s a nickname — and one is Cozy Bear.

    One is linked to the old KGB called the GRU and one is linked to military intelligence. And I was told by cyber-experts who have been involved in these investigations that these voter database hacks are the work of so-called Fancy Bear, which is the one side to Russian military intelligence.

    This is the same outfit that, in Ukraine, in Ukrainian elections two years ago, penetrated the database of the Ukrainian election authorities and tried to switch the actual plate that showed who was winning where. They didn’t succeed, but the fake plate that showed someone else won did end up on Russian TV in Russia.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: That’s almost like a Dewey wins sign.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes, exactly.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson said this morning that by design almost, or at least by reality, 9,000 different precincts that we have, they don’t all use the same system, don’t have the same databases, so there is not a direct threat in manipulating the overall result.

    MARGARET WARNER: He’s actually right about that. It’s a crazy system and, as he said, 9,000 different precincts.

    But there is an Internet connection at some point, when most of them report to the central commission. Well, that can always be checked back. The other vulnerability, though, is some states still use voter touch-screen machines that leave no paper audit trail.

    So,, like in swing state like Pennsylvania, which this is true, in Philadelphia, there is no paper trail, whereas, in Bucks County, there is. So if someone who were really smart, picked swing districts in swing states and put malware in the computer, you know, the voting machines, to go off that day and change every third Clinton vote for Trump or vice versa, it would be impossible to go back later and check.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What’s the government doing about this, considering we’re 39 days away?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, not as much as many cyber-security experts would like.

    What Jeh Johnson, the secretary of homeland security, did do right after — right in midsummer, was call all the secretaries of state, had a big conference call, and say, look, there is a big danger out there. One, we want you to — and we’re ready to help.

    He sent out a lot of new standards. He said you have to be sure to close all your open doors. A lot of these precincts just don’t have the manpower or the money to do it right. And we will give you technical help.

    I was told this afternoon that 18 to 20 of the states have actually asked for and received nightly what’s called cyber-election screening, where they basically run through the system and then they alert, the federal government does, Homeland Security does, and then says to Iowa, you know, by the way, we discovered something funny, you need to patch this.

    That said, that doesn’t fix the election machines themselves. So, what they didn’t do, the federal government chose not to do is declare a part of critical infrastructure. That would have given the federal government the ability to go really in and set up standards and also send a message to Russia that this is really a no-no and this is considered grounds for retaliation.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Margaret Warner, thanks so much.

    MARGARET WARNER: My pleasure, Hari.

    The post Could hackers compromise November election results? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    journey2

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: But first: the harrowing story of Nigerian women fleeing to Europe for a better life, but finding themselves trapped into a life of prostitution.

    The latest figures from the International Organization for Migration estimate that 80 percent of all Nigerian women that make it across the Mediterranean to Italy are forced into the sex trade.

    At its heart are female traffickers who enslave women to extort tens of thousands of dollars.

    From Italy, special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Asti in Northern Italy prides itself as the capital of the country’s sparkling wine industry.

    But there’s another side to this city. It’s home to African women rescued after being trafficked as prostitutes. Like so many compatriots, 26-year-old Blessing Ighodaro was seeking a better life in Europe. The mother of three arrived in Italy from Nigeria in June after being deceived.

    BLESSING IGHODARO, Italy: The story I was told in Nigeria before I come to this place, that if I come to this place, I can have a job of cleaning. Italian women, I can help them to be cleaning the house, taking care of their children.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: After a hellish journey to Libya across the Sahara Desert, Blessing was put in a rubber dinghy and almost drowned in similar circumstances to the 21 women who died in this boat in July.

    BLESSING IGHODARO: When the water is here, when I stand up, I was — the water is in my place here. Oh, God, my children, my family, I don’t want to lose my life like this. It’s like that. I was frightened. There was ton of water on my body, water on my face, pressing me down.

    I was the first person which they rescued after the children, because I’m already unconscious. I don’t have any strength, nothing, nothing.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: These images are of the aftermath of the July disaster, in which 21 African women died. If the latest statistics are applied, at least 16 of the victims were facing a life of prostitution on European streets.

    In death, they were spared in one respect, spared the pressure faced by Blessing as the Nigerian trafficker, or madam, tried to extort the 35,000 euros or nearly $40,000 she claimed was owing for the journey to Europe.

    BLESSING IGHODARO: I should put on some sexy clothes. I go out there, look for money. You know you have to. You have family. You need to pay me my bill, which you take an oath for. And let me warn you. Never you tell anyone that this madam brought you here. That is the oath I take.

    There is a night, which normally I sleep. I say, God, what am I going to do? I can’t even feed myself. Nothing. Nothing. I don’t even know where to go. Where will I stay ?

    So, I decided to put on my sexy clothes. And I go out there. The first day, I have 120 euro. And I was very — say, 120 euro, is that how I’m going to pay 35,000 euro?

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But Blessing heard about a program in Asti to help sex trafficking victims break free from the madam. She abandoned the streets, despite the intimidation.

    BLESSING IGHODARO: If I didn’t pay her the money, that is where she’s going to hurt my family. And if I can’t pay her the money, she has no business with my family.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But you haven’t paid her the money, have you?

    BLESSING IGHODARO: No, no, no, no. I won’t pay.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Eighteen-year-old Cynthia tells a similar story of false promises and being forced into prostitution. Like Blessing, she broke with help from Princess Inyang Okokon. Princess was rescued from the sex trade, and is now dedicated to thwarting the madams.

    PRINCESS INYANG OKOKON, Activist: At Turin, they sold me to one madam. She bought me. I was the first girl of this woman. And she was a young woman like me. When I got there, I realized that it was prostitution.

    I need to do. I didn’t do the job. They took me to the place of work. I waited almost a week. I couldn’t do it. I was crying, telling God, is this the job you sent me to come and do?

    CYNTHIA, Italy: They took me to street junction. That is where I would be doing road work. And this was not what she told me that I would be doing. She said that that is the work that she is doing here, that that is work I have to do.

    She was like threatening me that I’m not out on there streets, I should also be thinking about my family at home, that she would harm them. She would do all sorts of things.

    I said, no, that I cannot do it. She said OK. Since I’m a very stubborn girl, she knows what she will do to me.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The victims of this potentially deadly trade are usually naive, ill-educated, or poor. The trafficking networks especially prey on women from the African countryside.

    PRINCESS INYANG OKOKON: They are operators, like young boys, goes into the rural areas, goes into the families that knows maybe their parents are sick, goes into the families that lack money to train their children, and goes into the areas that they have people that are weak.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Although four out of every five women rescued in the Western Mediterranean end up in the sex trade, Princess believes the Italian mafia is not guilty in this case.

    PRINCESS INYANG OKOKON: Nigerians, Ghanaians are involved, but Italian mafia are not really involved in this prostitution criminal event.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Although their prime intention is saving lives, the reality for organizations rescuing migrants from drowning is that they have inadvertently become a key link in the transport chain supplying prostitutes to Europe.

    According to Princess, the women are terrorized into compliance by black magic or juju.

    PRINCESS INYANG OKOKON: These rituals is normally done by the juju masters in Nigeria. They use some things like the heart of some animals to make these rituals.

    Being that the women are poor, from poor family, they will entice to threaten them, tell them swear an oath that if you arrive and you don’t pay me, the oath will kill you or your family or your sisters or your brothers, your children.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: One of the most significant factors about the ever expanding migrant crisis is the disproportionately large number of single young men making the crossing to Europe.

    Now, these Nigerian madams, have unwittingly, or on purpose, found that this is a group that’s going to make them a lot of money, because all of the rescued girls that we have spoken to have indicated that the majority of their clients are African or from countries where Arabic is spoken, like Morocco, and there are very few Italians.

    The problem is their clientele is poor, the prices are low, which means that the girls have to work extra hard to pay back their debt.

    To hear a different perspective from provincial Asti, we have come to prosperous Milan, a magnet for African migrants, where Europe’s reality kicks in. Many people find themselves living in the open here because neighboring countries like France, Switzerland and Austria have tightened up their border controls.

    Fabio Di Giacomo works for the International Organization for Migration.

    FABIO DI GIACOMO, International Organization for Migration: The request for these girls comes not from migrants, but from local people in Italy and in Europe. These girls used to arrive to Italy and to work in Italy as prostitutes, but, as a matter of fact, we have noticed in the past few months that some of these women are actually continuing their journey to France, Austria, Spain, and Germany.

    This is modern slavery. These girls are forced to face terrible abuses and violence in the countries of origin, in the country of transit. But they don’t even know the kind of abuse they are going to be forced to face here in Europe. It’s something that should be tackled as soon as possible. It’s a modern plague.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: And the perpetrators aren’t concerned about the age of their victims.

    WOMAN: The girl is 14 years, but she told us she’s 17. You know the way she speak, you know that she is a baby. So the madam brought her to walk in the streets, and luckily enough, she gets in touch with us and we save her.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Onome Efanadju is 17 years old. She came to Italy last year and worked as a prostitute for two months before being rescued.

    She’s now a catering trainee at an Italian company offering dozens of women skills to pursue a better life.

    ONOME EFANADJU, Italy: You girls in Nigeria, in case someone wants to take you, there’s no good job in — there’s no work in Europe. They are only deceiving us to come to Europe. All they do is to bring you here and to sell your body, so you better think twice before you come to Europe.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: This shows the psychological pressure to which the women are subjected. After ignoring repeated messages from the Nigerian madam who trafficked her, Blessing answers her phone.

    WOMAN: This woman is now angry that she got a good life here and she forgot the debts that she’s supposed to go and work in the streets and pay her debt.

    I feel bad. What am I am doing to myself? What is this? I will be crying, sometimes, two days, three days. I can’t eat. I can’t do anything else. And she will be calling me to bring money. “You don’t want to pay me. I will be waiting for your money. I will be doing this.”

    So, she will be calling me for money. My body is shaking. I’m worried.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The personal tragedies are never-ending.

    Gloria, a 32-year-old hairdresser, was lured to Europe under false pretenses, and as a result, has lost touch with her three young children.

    GLORIA, Italy: Three years, and I have never seen them. There’s nothing I can do. I can’t disappear there. I’m not a witch. I have to see my children. I don’t have anybody to help me. If I had the choice, I would go for me to see my children.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The trade appears to be self-perpetuating. Many of the madams are themselves former victims of trafficking.

    PRINCESS INYANG OKOKON: They know the horrible things they met in the street. That means they purposely take another human to face the same calamity they faced. That is my anger. If you were a slave, don’t put another person to be a slave after you.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Unfortunately for Northern Italy’s street walkers, Princess’ rescue organization is running out of money and has failed to secure future funding. So, the chances of escaping are reduced, and thousands more women are expected.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Malcolm Brabant in Asti, Northern Italy.

    The post Sex trafficking of African migrants in Europe is a ‘modern plague’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Edgar Flores-Villalobos (CQ), 18, fills out a form for a scholarship as seniors at Garfield High School in Los Angeles fill out FASFA forms in the counseling center on January 13, 2012. Govenor Jerry Brown is proposing to raise the minimum GPA to qualify for Cal Grants, a key part of the financial aid package for most low-income students. Flores would like to attend Cal State LA and study criminal justice.  (Photo by Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: For high school seniors around the country and their families, it’s the season to think about college applications and costs. A key to all of it, of course, is, what kind of financial aid can they receive? It’s even more crucial for low- and middle-income students who may be leaving thousands of potential dollars on the table each year.

    Starting this weekend, there are important changes for a student filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA.

    For one thing, they will be able to fill it out months earlier, in the hopes of getting information as they try to choose a school.

    Let’s fill in the picture.

    Kim Cook is the executive director of the National College Access Network, which works closely on these issues.

    So, first, what’s the significance of what’s happening this weekend?

    KIM COOK, Executive Director, National College Access Network: It’s tremendous.

    Right now, over 1.4 million students left $2.7 billion in financial aid on the table by not completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. So, these changes that will make the form earlier and easier for students are significant in helping many of those low-income students access the money they need to attend college.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And one of the significant complaints was how complex it was, how much information they needed. Now apparently there is a connection between your previous tax filing that you can sort of autopopulate online.

    KIM COOK: There is, so that’s called the Internal Revenue Service data retrieval tool in lingo.

    What’s significant about these changes that are coming online tomorrow are that more students can more easily transfer that tax information because it’s currently available tax data. In the past, we asked students to transfer the date that really wasn’t available until tax filing deadlines.

    But now we’re going back another year to make it more available and easier for students to populate the forms with that income information that is sometimes hard to find.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, there is also that gap between when you found out if a school wanted you or not and then another couple of weeks or months to figure out what kind of financial aid you were going to get from them.

    KIM COOK: Exactly.

    So, because of the filing times that used to be in January, financial aid offices were under the gun to get award applications out to students, so that they could make informed decisions about what kind of aid was available at each particular school, and where they could afford and make that college choice.

    More importantly, on the front end, there was a crunch that we asked students to think about which colleges they would apply or go to before they had any sense of their aid eligibility, never mind what they will have now, which is a commitment of federal student aid on the front end, as early as October now, as they go into their college search and application time.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, this was part of the general disincentive over kind of the burdens of trying to get in, I don’t know how much money I’m going to get, I don’t who is going to accept me, and kind of one competing with the other.

    KIM COOK: Right. Right.

    So, now we’re giving students an early commitment of at least their federal aid, so a low-income student who receives a Pell Grant and subsidized loans could have up to $11,500 of a commitment as they look around and, A, make the important decision that college is affordable and something for me, and, B, where to go, that I have a commitment of money in my pocket to make this possible.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what happens if the colleges just decide to move all of their deadlines up? There’s been some concern, especially for low- and middle-income households, that a deadline creep actually adds a lot of pressure and decreases the amount of completed applications.

    KIM COOK: We’re watching carefully in this first year, because that is a concern, that students could have a real crunch to push what used to be a longer process and truncate that process of admissions and financial aid into the same three months.

    The good news is, regardless of how that does play out this year, the May 1 commitment date holds steady. So, students could have that information earlier, but they can’t be pressured to commit to an aid package before May 1.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, you said in the beginning, but it’s kind of staggering to think about $2 billion left on the table.

    How many students start this process and don’t finish?

    KIM COOK: We’re still trying to get some of that data.

    Right now, we know how many students don’t complete. So, 45 — only 45 percent of high school seniors complete a FAFSA by their high school graduation. Some continue to complete it after high school graduation as well. But that’s still a staggering number, when you consider that the FAFSA is the ultimate predictor of whether a student will go on to enroll in college, with 90 percent of those completing a FAFSA enrolling in college.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And it’s also interesting that there are multiple things. It’s not just family income that figures out what kind of aid you get.

    KIM COOK: Right.

    So, income obviously plays a significant role, but the number in college, whether your family qualifies for other federal means-tested benefits, where you go to college, so, many, many factors factor in. The key message that we want to get across and is part of a national FAFSA completion campaign that NCAN is kicking off called Form Your Future, is that this is your first step to going to college.

    All students should complete the FAFSA and get the money for which they’re eligible.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And even whether the type of household that you’re in, what kind of siblings, if you have other siblings in school, are all factors.

    KIM COOK: Exactly. Exactly. Number in household, number in college, all of those factors come into play.

    So, we don’t want any students to rule themselves out. We want all students to complete that FAFSA to get that money that has been left on the table.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Kim Cook, thanks so much.

    KIM COOK: Thank you.

    The post FAFSA makes changes, hoping more students will utilize funds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The flag-draped coffin of former Israeli President Shimon Peres is carried by an honour guard at the start of his funeral ceremony at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTSQ60B

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Thousands gathered in Jerusalem today, as Israel laid to rest one of its founding fathers.

    Shimon Peres, the 93-year-old former president and prime minister, died on Wednesday.

    William Brangham has our report on the funeral.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The funeral service for Shimon Peres drew delegations from 75 countries, and even temporarily united adversaries. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shook hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife.

    The casket was carried in, a military rabbi sang traditional prayers, and Netanyahu spoke in praise of his longtime political rival.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel (through translator): He brought arguments from the left. I brought arguments from the right. Eventually, like two tired boxers, we stopped arguing.

    I saw in his eyes and I think he saw in mine that the determination emanates from deep self-persuasion and devotion to the cause, securing the country’s future.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Netanyahu has taken a hard line on dealing with the Palestinians, while Peres was Israel’s leading proponent of conciliation. But the prime minister, speaking in English, hailed the Nobel Peace Prize winner as a visionary.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Shimon lived a life of purpose. He soared to incredible heights. He swept so many with his vision and his hope. He was a great man of Israel. He was a great man of the world.

    Israel grieves for him. The world grieves for him. But we find hope in his legacy, as does the world.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The failed search for peace in the region dominated the eulogies. Former President Bill Clinton was in office when Peres negotiated the 1993 Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.

    BILL CLINTON, Former President of the United States: He started off life as Israel’s brightest student, became its best teacher, and ended up its biggest dreamer.

    So, for the rest of our lives, whenever the good we seek to do hits a stone wall, or the hand of friendship we extend meets only a cold stare, in his honor, I ask that we remember Shimon Peres’ luminous smile and imagine.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: President Obama has sought in vain a final Middle East settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. He called for building on the foundation that Peres laid.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We gather here in the knowledge that Shimon never saw his dream of peace fulfilled. The region is going through a chaotic time. Threats are ever-present. And yet he didn’t stop dreaming and he didn’t stop working.

    The last of the founding generation is now gone. Shimon accomplished enough things in life for 1,000 men, but he understood that it is better to live to the very end of his time on Earth with a longing not for the past, but for the dreams that have not yet come true, an Israel that is secure in a just and lasting peace with its neighbors.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: After the service, a military honor guard carried Peres’ casket to its burial site, and he was laid to rest before a crowd of family, friends and world leaders.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m William Brangham.

    The post Delegations from 75 countries pay tribute to Shimon Peres appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FILE PHOTO: Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore faces the media after being removed from office in Montgomery, Alabama, U.S. November 13, 2003.  REUTERS/Bob Ealum/File Photo - RTSQ8X0

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    HARI SREENIVASAN:  In the day’s other news:  A disciplinary court in Alabama suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore over gay marriage.  The panel found he encouraged probate judges to deny marriage licenses for same-sex couples.  The U.S. Supreme Court had said there is a fundamental right to marry.  Moore is suspended for the remainder of his elected term through 2019.  After that, he will be too old to run again, under state law.

    Federal investigators in Hoboken, New Jersey, have recovered one of the two black box recorders from a wrecked commuter train.  The train smashed through a barrier and into a station waiting area yesterday.  One person was killed and more than 100 were hurt.  The recorders should have data on the train’s speed, braking and other conditions in the moments before the crash.

    The United Nations appealed today for a new truce in the Syrian city of Aleppo.  But heavy fighting continued, and Syrian and Russian airstrikes blasted more of the city into ruins.

    We have a report from Alex Thomson of Independent Television News.

    ALEX THOMSON:  In rebel-held East Aleppo, the agony continues.  It can’t be independently verified, but he says Russian jets dropped a thermobaric bomb.  Six were killed, six injured, six missing, another airstrike in the besieged east of the city, desperate to get out from this.  But hands are all the rescuers have.

    Finally, he’s out, more or less intact.

    RICK BRENNAN, World Health Organization:  The situation really is unfathomable.  According to health officials there, there’ve been 338 deaths in the last couple of weeks due to the bombardment, including 106 children.

    ALEX THOMSON:  South, to the countryside near Damascus itself, where people held a street protest in solidarity with those in Aleppo, burning the Russian flag.  The posters say Putin is a war criminal.  In the grinding violence of Syria, street action like this, where the revolution began, looks almost quaint six years on.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  The New York Times reports Secretary of State John Kerry voiced frustration over the Obama administration’s approach to Syria speaking on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last week,  Kerry said he advocated for more military action, but lost that argument.

    In the Philippines, outspoken President Rodrigo Duterte drew new criticism today for comparing his war on drugs to Adolf Hitler’s extermination of Jews.  Since Duterte took office in July, more than 3,000 suspected dealers and users have been killed, often vigilante-style.  But he suggested that’s just the beginning.

    PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE, Philippines:  Now there is three million, what is it, three million drug addicts.  There are.  I would be happy to slaughter them.  At least, if Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have me.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  The World Jewish Congress, the government of Germany, and others condemned the remark.

    Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft ended its historic mission to a comet today.  Ground controllers crashed the probe after surveying the surface up close for two years.  Animation showed Rosetta flying closer and closer before its final collision.  It had collected vast amounts of data, and even sent a lander to the comet’s surface in 2014.

    There’s new guidance on Zika for couples planning pregnancy.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now say men who’ve been exposed to the virus should wait six months, instead of eight weeks.  It also warns against travel to 11 additional Southeast Asian countries where Zika is present.  That includes Thailand, which today confirmed its first cases of birth defects caused by Zika.

    Banks and energy stocks led Wall Street higher today.  The Dow Jones industrial average gained 164 points to close at one 18308.  The Nasdaq rose nearly 43 points, and the S&P 500 added 17.

    And several governors in Japan have joined a campaign for men to shoulder the burden of child care and housework, literally.  A new video shows them wearing 16-pound vests to simulate being seven months pregnant.  After grocery shopping, hoofing up stairs and folding laundry, one says he finally understands what his wife put up with.  In Japan, women do five times the housework that men do.

    The post News Wrap: Alabama chief justice suspended for preventing same-sex marriage licenses appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump lays a bouquet of flowers at the grave of former U.S. president Gerald Ford and his wife Betty Ford at the Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S. September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTSQ9GC

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    HARI SREENIVASAN:  The presidential campaign erupted with new broadsides today.  Donald Trump unloaded on a critic who made headlines against him this week, and Hillary Clinton fired back, all of this with the candidates about to enter the final full month before Election Day.

    Donald Trump’s campaign day began long before he got to President Gerald Ford’s tomb in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Early this morning, he unleashing a storm of tweets against Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe winner.  Trump had once mocked her weight gain, and Clinton raised the issue in Monday’s debate.

    Today, the Republican nominee charged Machado once starred in a sex tape, and the Clinton campaign helped her gain U.S. citizenship.  That came a day after Trump raised former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment scandal.

    Machado called the charges cheap lies and said on Instagram: “The Republican candidate insists on discrediting and demoralizing a woman.”

    The Clinton campaign called the allegations unhinged.

    The candidate herself had an answer to Trump’s charges at an afternoon rally in Coral Springs, Florida.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee:  I mean, really, who gets up at 3:00 in the morning to engage in a Twitter attack against a former Miss Universe?  I mean, he hurled as many insults as he could.  I have said it before, and I will say it again:  A man who can be provoked by a tweet should not be anywhere near the nuclear codes.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  Meanwhile, a Washington Post report found Trump’s charitable foundation has never had the required certification from the state of New York.  That means the group has not submitted to annual audits.  If the state attorney general finds the law was broken, he could go to court to make the foundation return money it raised.

    Also today, for the first time ever, USA Today rendered judgment on a presidential race.  It branded Trump erratic, ill-equipped to be commander in chief and a serial liar, but didn’t directly endorse Clinton.

    Several traditionally Republican newspapers have also come out against Trump this week.  The Trump campaign is trying to fight back, with this new TV ad.

    HILLARY CLINTON:  Why aren’t I 50 points ahead, you might ask.

    NARRATOR:  Maybe it’s because the director of the FBI said you lied about your e-mails.

    JAMES COMEY, FBI Director:  There was classified material e-mailed.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  Later today, he rallied supporters in Novi, Michigan.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee:  When you cast that ballot, just picture a Wall Street boardroom filled with the special interests who have bleeding your country and your city and everyplace else, and imagine the look on their faces when you tell them, you’re fired, fired.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  Away from the charges and countercharges, Clinton today unveiled her new national service reserve plan in a speech in Fort Pierce, Florida.

    HILLARY CLINTON:  I didn’t want this campaign to end without talking about it, because it means a lot to me.  I’m trying to end the campaign focusing on issues that are really close to my heart, and this is one of them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  The end of the campaign comes in 39 days.

    The post Trump alleges former Miss Universe starred in sex tape appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reacts as reporters yell questions to him after he stated that he believes President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. at a campaign event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reacts as reporters yell questions to him after he stated that he believes President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. at a campaign event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    NEW YORK — Donald Trump’s five-day feud with a former beauty queen is only the latest example of his insistence on airing and re-airing his grievances no matter the political cost.

    The Republican nominee’s brash, confrontational style has thrilled his millions of supporters, who have cheered the celebrity businessman’s tenacity and thirst for verbal combat. He bragged in the early weeks of his campaign last year, “When people treat me unfairly, I don’t let them forget it.”

    Critics say that stubborn refusal to back down is born of a thin skin and overwhelming pride — and it gets him into political trouble again and again. He repeatedly brings up perceived slights, breathing new life into damaging storylines, instead of making the politically savvy calculation to move on.

    Other feuds that have dogged his campaign:

    Alicia Machado

    The 1996 Miss Universe winner has been at the center of the campaign since Democrat Hillary Clinton noted in this week’s debate that Trump had ridiculed the Venezuela-born actress for gaining weight and dubbed her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.”

    Trump fumed on stage and the next morning, in an interview, said that Machado’s “massive” weight gain had been “a real problem” for the pageant, which he then owned. As Machado did a series of interviews attacking Trump, the celebrity businessman and his allies hit back, prolonging the story’s lifespan.

    [Watch Video]

    And then Trump took to social media before dawn Friday to unleash a tweetstorm on Machado, saying she had a “terrible” past that a “duped” Clinton had overlooked before holding her up “as an ‘angel'” in the first presidential debate. He also accused the Democrat’s campaign of helping her get U.S. citizenship but offered no proof.

    “Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?” read a missive from Trump posted on his verified Twitter account at 5:30 a.m.

    Clinton later Friday ripped Trump, calling the series of posts “unhinged, even for him.”

    Family of Capt. Humayun Khan

    Khizr and Ghazala Khan, a Muslim-American family whose son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed while serving in Iraq in 2004, became one of the most dramatic moments at July’s Democratic National Convention.

    Khzir Khan denounced the candidate’s plan to temporarily ban Muslim immigrants from entering the United States, accused Trump of sacrificing “nothing and no one” and produced his pocket copy of the Constitution while suggesting Trump had never read it.

    Trump hit back in an interview days later — he implied that the soldier’s mother stood silently alongside her husband during the speech because her religion restricted her from speaking — and then returned to it on social media.

    “Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over T.V. doing the same – Nice!” he tweeted.

    The back-and-forth between the nominee and the Khans rapidly escalated, prompting several top Republicans and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a nonprofit service organization with 1.7 million members, to denounce Trump, whose poll numbers soon sank.

    Judge Gonzalo Curiel

    In May, Trump said that the federal judge presiding over a lawsuit brought by former Trump University students had an “absolute conflict” in handling the case because he is “of Mexican heritage.”

    Trump, who at the time was the presumptive Republican nominee, claimed that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel — he was born in Indiana — had “an inherent conflict of interest” because Trump plans to build a wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

    Trump’s comments were condemned by Democrats and Republicans alike. House Speaker Paul Ryan described what Trump said as the “textbook definition of a racist comment.”

    The episode lingered for days, and while Trump eventually released a statement saying his comments were being “misconstrued,” he did not apologize or suggest that Curiel was treating him fairly.

    Trump University is the target of two lawsuits in San Diego and one in New York that accuse the business of fleecing students with unfulfilled promises to teach secrets of success in real estate.

    Pastor in Flint, Michigan

    Trump earlier this month visited Flint, where he intended to further his recent pitch to African-American voters while highlighting how the federal government had failed the impoverished city. But in a speech to a traditionally African-American church, he was cut off, chastised and then heckled after he began to attack Clinton.

    “Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us for what we’ve done in Flint, not give a political speech,” said the Rev. Faith Green Timmons, the pastor of the Bethel United Methodist Church.

    The Republican nominee stopped, then said: “OK, that’s good. Then I’m going to go back to Flint” and its water crisis that had sickened its citizens.

    But Trump went after the pastor the next morning during a “Fox and Friends” interview. He claimed that the pastor was “a nervous mess” and accused her of having a political agenda while insisting that he thought “something was up.”

    Ted Cruz

    A day after accepting the Republican presidential nomination at his party’s convention, Trump suddenly pivoted back to the GOP primaries, choosing to re-litigate a pair of months-old battles with rival Ted Cruz.

    In what should have been a feel-good victory lap the morning after his thundering acceptance speech, Trump instead defended his decision to retweet an unflattering photo of Cruz’s wife, Heidi, and returned to wondering about possible links between Cruz’s father and President John F. Kennedy’s assassin.

    “All I did was point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast,” Trump said in front of a group of bewildered supporters in Cleveland. “Did anybody ever deny that was the father? They’re not saying, ‘Oh, that wasn’t really my father.’ It was a little hard to do. It looked like him.” Actually, Cruz had ridiculed the idea as “nuts.”

    He also declared that, two days after Cruz was loudly booed at the Republican National Convention for not endorsing the new nominee, he would never accept the Texas senator’s backing.

    Last week, Cruz said he would support Trump.

    The post Trump’s habit of fuming over slights comes at political cost appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Brian Snyder/REUTERS

    Nurses prepare influenza vaccine injections during a flu shot clinic at Dorchester House, a health care clinic, in Boston, Massachusetts, on Jan. 12, 2013. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    For the past eight years, flu shots around the world have contained a virus that was retrieved from a sick person in California in the spring of 2009, in the earliest days of the H1N1 — or swine flu — pandemic.

    No more.

    This week, the World Health Organization recommended that flu vaccine manufacturers swap out the component that is based on that virus with an updated version. It is uncommon for a flu virus to remain in the vaccine for such an extended period as the current one.

    “A/California had a good run,” Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an influenza epidemiologist at the British Columbia Center for Disease Control in Vancouver, said of the virus that is being discarded.

    The change, which will first come into effect in the flu shots for the 2017 Southern Hemisphere winter, is good news. It’s an indication that advances in flu science — particularly relating to monitoring small changes in viruses and figuring out how that evolution dictates who and how many people might get sick in a flu season — may be helping scientists fine-tune flu-fighting strategy.

    Flu vaccines work by exposing the immune system to proteins on the exterior of influenza viruses that have been rendered harmless. The vaccines tell the immune system to be ready to mount an offensive if it encounters the specified invaders. The immune system then produces stores of protective ammunition — antibodies — it can use to fight off infection.

    The latest change was made, experts say, because it had become apparent that a portion of people — some people between the ages of about 30 and late middle-age — were not getting as much protection from the part of the flu shot that is supposed to guard against infection with a family of influenza A viruses called H1N1.

    Normally, healthy adults generate the best response to vaccines. But in the past couple of seasons, that hasn’t been the case for the H1N1 component. Paradoxically, though, children and older adults were still developing good levels of antibodies to H1N1 after getting vaccinated.

    The virus being replaced is called — wait for it — A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus. The lay translation: It is an influenza A virus of the H1N1 family that emerged in the 2009 pandemic. It was recovered in California that spring, when the first illnesses linked to the new virus were spotted.

    On the advice of flu experts from around the globe who met in Geneva this week, the WHO is recommending the virus be changed to a virus from the same family retrieved from a patient in Michigan in 2015.

    The change should mean better protection for the segment of the population that wasn’t getting as much benefit from the California virus, without diminishing the protection the vaccine offers children and the elderly, said Jacqueline Katz, deputy director of the influenza division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

    Katz is a member of the WHO’s influenza strain selection committee, which meets twice a year to analyze which flu viruses are circulating around the globe and recommend which should be targeted by the Southern and Northern hemisphere vaccines.

    One of the things that is interesting here is that a change is being made to try to fix a problem facing only a portion of the people who get flu vaccine. Typically decisions about strains that should go into flu vaccine are made from one-size-fits-all point of view.

    “We don’t make age-based vaccine strain decisions. So if the vaccine isn’t protecting well the non-elderly adults, but seems to function OK in the young, what do you do with that information?” Skowronski said last week, discussing the challenge the WHO’s strain selection committee would face.

    The science that led up to the decision is also noteworthy. Scientists are now able to monitor the effectiveness of the vaccine in closer detail than in the past, and to see how it performs in different age groups and by virus.

    For several years after the 2009 pandemic, the H1N1 component of the vaccine performed strongly. But in 2013, some of the people studying the vaccine’s effectiveness started to notice the H1N1 part of the vaccine was still working well in the young and the old, but not as well in other adults. What was going on?

    When laboratories like those at the CDC look to see if changes in flu viruses will help them evade vaccine protection, they generally do the work in ferrets, the time-honored stand-in for humans in flu research.

    Naive ferrets — animals never before exposed to flu — are vaccinated against a strain like H1N1. Then their blood is exposed to a new version of that virus. If antibodies in the blood surge to quell the virus, the vaccine still works. If they don’t, it’s time to update the virus in the vaccine.

    In this case though, the ferret experiments didn’t show a diminished antibody response. It was only when labs started doing the test on blood samples from vaccinated people — and blood from people of different ages — that the problem started coming into focus.

    “If you do that same experiment and instead of using ferret antibodies if you use antibodies from humans that actually received the 2009 vaccine, what you find is that there’s a significant number of [vaccinated] middle-aged people that … fail to react to the strain that’s actually circulating,” said Scott Hensley, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Work that Hensley and his colleagues have been doing may explain what’s going on here.

    People in early adulthood and middle age were born in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. And for some of them, the first H1N1 virus their immune systems saw was a virus that emerged in 1977 and circulated until about 1985, Hensley said.

    It was a distant relative of the current H1N1 viruses, from a branch of the family that disappeared when the pandemic H1N1, which had been a swine influenza virus, started spreading among people in 2009. Despite the shared name, the viruses were pretty different — so much so that many immune systems didn’t recognize the new version.

    But a small part of the virus looked a lot like the corresponding section of H1N1 viruses that circulated from about 1977 to about 1985, Hensley said.

    The immune systems of people whose first H1N1 exposure was during that period likely recognized the new H1N1, which acted like a booster shot, increasing their antibodies to H1N1 viruses.

    That early advantage disappeared, though, in 2013, when H1N1 viruses evolved a bit and lost that segment, Hensley said. Suddenly, people who had this immunological profile didn’t have the right type of antibodies to fight H1N1 viruses anymore.

    Updating the H1N1 component in the vaccine should solve their problem, said Hensley, who stressed the WHO should be applauded for recognizing the dilemma and making the change.

    While this should help Southern Hemisphere residents during their next flu season, what about those of us in the Northern Hemisphere who are currently getting flu shots in advance of the coming winter? The vaccine here doesn’t include the update. Does that mean we will face a higher risk of contracting the flu this winter?

    In theory, perhaps. But last winter H1N1 viruses were dominant, causing most of the flu cases that occurred. That could mean this family will lay low this season.

    “We had such a big H1N1 season last year I doubt we’ll have a very robust season this year,” the CDC’s Katz said.

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Sept. 30, 2016. Find the original story here.

    The post The flu vaccine is set to get a makeover appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Protesters block an intersection temporarily as people march to protest the death of Alfred Olango, who was shot by El Cajon police on Tuesday, after the release of two video tapes of the shooting in El Cajon, California, U.S. September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon - RTSQAPY

    Protesters block an intersection temporarily as people march to protest the death of Alfred Olango, who was shot by El Cajon police on Tuesday, after the release of two video tapes of the shooting in El Cajon, California, U.S. September 30, 2016. Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Reuters

    Police released videos Friday showing an officer fatally shooting Alfred Olango, an unarmed black man, in El Cajon, California.

    The videos — one from a cell phone, and another from a surveillance camera at a nearby taco shop — show the encounter between Olango and police from a distance. Officials released them in what they said was an effort to prevent “misinformation,” but critics say the videos do not clarify what led to the shooting.

    “We didn’t want to waste time,” El Cajon Chief of Police Jeff Davis said at a news conference on Friday. “At the end of the day, it was important to put this out to the community.”

    The video shows Olango moving back and forth in a parking lot. An officer walks toward Olango, and the two weave across the parking lot together several times as a second officer arrives. Then, an officer discharges his weapon and four shots are heard as Olango falls to the ground.

    El Cajon police said in a statement on Tuesday that they responded to a report of a man who was “not acting like himself” and walking through traffic. Olango’s sister told police that he was unarmed and mentally ill, The New York Times reported.

    According to the police statement, Olango refused an officer’s orders to remove his hand from his pocket, prompting the officer to draw his gun. Another officer then arrived with a Taser. The first officer discharged his weapon after “the subject rapidly drew an object from his front pants pocket, placed both hands together and extended them rapidly toward the officer taking up what appeared to be a shooting stance,” the statement said.

    Police officers Richard Gonsalves, who shot Olango, and Josh McDaniels, who fired his Taser, are on administrative leave.

    The shooting led to protests in El Cajon, which is located approximately 13 miles from San Diego. Protests continued on Friday night after the videos were released and a march was planned for Saturday.

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

    In August, San Diego County officials released a policy meant to govern the release of videos that show officer-involved shootings. It states that law enforcement will share those videos “whenever possible, as soon as it’s appropriate to do so.”

    The policy has exceptions: videos will not be released “until the district attorney has reviewed the shooting and presented its findings to the law enforcement agency involved,” or if criminal charges have been filed, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

    The post Police release video of El Cajon officer shooting unarmed black man appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump delivers remarks at the Shale Insight energy conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. September 22, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTSOZRV

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump delivers remarks at the Shale Insight energy conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on September 22, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump suggests in a videotaped deposition released Friday that his presidential campaign could boost business at his hotels and increase the value of his personal brand.

    District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Brian Holeman ordered the release of Trump’s deposition from June following requests filed by news organizations. Though a transcript of Trump’s testimony was previously filed publicly, the Republican presidential nominee’s lawyers asked the judge to seal the video. Holeman refused.

    Trump’s company sued Geoffrey Zakarian last year when the restaurateur withdrew from his lease to open a high-end eatery in the new Trump International Hotel in Washington after the candidate characterized Mexicans as being criminals, drug dealers and rapists.

    Trump testified he didn’t think his widely criticized comments were harmful because he went on to beat a roster of “highly respected” candidates, including senators and governors. to win the GOP presidential primary.

    “So it’s not like, you know, like I’ve said anything that could be so bad,” Trump said. “Because if I said something that was so bad, they wouldn’t have had me go through all of these people and win all of these primary races.”

    [Watch Video]

    Zakarian followed suit after Spanish-American chef José Andrés withdrew from his deal to open a different restaurant in the luxury hotel, citing Trump’s derogatory comments.

    Trump sued both for breach of contract, seeking damages and lost rent in excess of $10 million from each.

    Trump said the men pulled out because “they thought I made statements that were inflammatory in some form,” but added that he was surprised they withdrew. He said he thought the men had made a big mistake, and he expected his Washington hotel to be a great success.

    Trump disputed media reports that occupancy at his hotels slumped after he announced his presidential bid last year, saying business had been steady or even better at his resort properties.

    He specifically cited the example of his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

    “The manager told me recently, he said, ‘Boy this is the best — it is actually the best year we’ve ever had a Mar-a-Lago,'” Trump recounted, adding that the manager attributed the uptick in business to the campaign.

    Trump said it was difficult to put a precise value on his personal brand, but said his company had previously commissioned a study that put the worth of the Trump name as being in excess of $2 billion.

    Asked to predict how his presidential bid would affect the value of his properties, Trump said time will tell — especially depending on whether he wins in November.

    “We’re going to know in five months, right?” Trump said in June. “But it’s been, you know, it’s been a lot of wins. We’ve beaten a lot of people. And I think people like that. So I think … it will be great for the building in question.”

    The post Trump suggests campaign could be good for his hotels appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    For this week's Shortwave podcast, P.J. Tobia breaks down the multibillion dollar private surveillance industry. Photo by REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

    The head of the Homeland Security Department said no “manipulation” of data has been found in state election systems. Photo by REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

    WASHINGTON — Hackers have made their way into state election systems “in a few cases,” but the federal government hasn’t found “any manipulation” so far of voting information, the Homeland Security secretary said Saturday.

    Twenty-one states have contacted the agency for help in safeguarding their election systems, and Jeh Johnson is urging additional requests for cybersecurity assistance.

    “We hope to see more,” Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement.

    A department official told The Associated Press on Friday that hackers have targeted the voter registration systems of more than 20 states in recent months. The official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the subject and spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was unclear whether the hackers were foreign or domestic.

    As the Nov. 8 vote nears, there are heightened concerns that foreign hackers might undermine voter confidence in the integrity of U.S. elections. Federal officials and many cybersecurity experts have said it would be nearly impossible for hackers to alter an election’s outcome because election systems are decentralized and generally not connected to the internet.

    “We must remain vigilant and continue to address these challenges head on,” Johnson said. “These challenges aren’t just in the future. They are here today,” Johnson said.

    The FBI last month warned state officials of the need to improve their election security after hackers targeted systems in Illinois and Arizona. FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers this past week that the FBI is looking “very, very hard” at Russian hackers who may try to disrupt the U.S. election.

    Johnson said that in recent months, “malicious cyberactors have been scanning a large number of state systems, which could be a preamble to attempted intrusions. In a few cases, we have determined that malicious actors gained access to state voting-related systems. However, we are not aware at this time of any manipulation of data.”

    He gave no specifics.

    The FBI held a conference call on Friday with the local officials who run elections in Florida, according to a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Ken Detzner. A person who was on that call said authorities had seen evidence of someone probing a local elections website. The person was not authorized to publicly discuss the call and spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Hackers also tried to mine data from the Arizona and Illinois voter registration systems, according to Kay Stimson, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Secretaries of State. She said in Arizona a hacker tried to probe voter registration data, but never infiltrated the system, while in Illinois hackers got into the system, but didn’t manipulate any data.

    Associated Press writer Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this report.

    The post Official says no ‘manipulation’ of data seen in election hacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Airstrikes targeted a hospital and other rebel-controlled areas in and around the Syrian city of Aleppo on Saturday. Pictured, here are people looking at the sky fearing an airstrike in the rebel-held al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTSPQEM

    Airstrikes targeted a hospital and other rebel-controlled areas in and around the Syrian city of Aleppo on Saturday. Pictured, here are people looking at the sky fearing an airstrike in the rebel-held al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, September 27, 2016. Photo By Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

    Barrel bombs struck on Saturday the Syrian city of Aleppo’s largest hospital, which is held by rebel forces, killing one man and wounding several more people, according to a group monitoring the war.

    The Syrian Observatory on Human Rights, a British-based watchdog, said it was one of four hospitals targeted. Two more hospitals were also bombed on Wednesday along with dozens of other targets.

    On Saturday, Russian airstrikes also hit areas controlled by rebel forces north of the city while Syrian government troops on the ground shelled Aleppo’s old quarter, Reuters reported.

    “They are shelling the old city heavily after another failed attempt to gain ground,” one rebel fighter said. “They have lost several fighters and we are steadfast.”

    Russia also cautioned the U.S. against counter-attacking Syrian government troops, stating such assaults would result in “terrible, tectonic consequences” across the Middle East, according to the Associated Press.

    The escalation in fighting comes three weeks after a short-lived ceasefire was brokered by the U.S. and Russia and after more than five years of a bloody civil war in Syria.

    The United Nations said on Friday that there are now less than 30 doctors operating in Aleppo and the World Health Organization noted that only eight hospitals are “partially functioning” in a city where more than 270,000 people live amid intense fighting.

    “There has been a reduction in the number of health workers able to stay at their posts, and those who did are exhausted, drained physically and emotionally,” Dr. Rick Brennan of the WHO said.

    The post Airstrikes target largest hospital in Aleppo, rebel-held territory in Syria appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A firefighter carries away a painting from San Lorenzo e Flaviano church following an earthquake in San Lorenzo, central Italy, August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi - RTX2N7AS

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: The Lazio region around Rome, is one of Italy’s most picturesque — a place where even the smallest mountain villages can be the home of a medieval church and priceless artwork. It’s also one of the country’s most seismically active regions.

    A powerful earthquake here in August caused at least 4-and-half-billion dollars in damage, according to Italy’s prime minister. Many ancient structures collapsed, and 297 people died.

    The worst loss of life and damage occurred in Amatrice, celebrated as the town of 100 churches, where the clock in the 16th century bell tower stands frozen in time: 3:36am…the moment the earthquake struck.

    Italian relief workers still flood the earthquake zone in and around Amatrice, home to more than  4-thousand people.

    Some help the residents return to their homes, or if a structure is deemed unsafe, retrieve personal items like clothes, documents, and family portraits.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: So they think all of the people in this town are never going to come back, because it’s going to take 15 to 20 years to rebuild everything, and by that point they are not going to want to live here anyway because they’re afraid of another earthquake happening.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Other relief workers are part of an elite team, including police and firefighters, on an urgent mission to save the area’s cultural heritage.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: They go door to door examining buildings and taking photographs to quickly and methodically account for thousands of works of art in churches, museums and public buildings.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: So this is a list of everything that they’re saving. They go in and check on the art to see that it’s still there. To see that it’s in good shape.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Captain Lanfranco Disibio is with the Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale, better known as the Art Squad. Set up in the 1960s to battle art and antiques fraud, its role expanded into earthquake crisis response. The Art Squad was on the ground in Amatrice on day one.

    CAPTAIN LANFRANCO DISIBIO (translated from Italian): Naturally, the first priority was to save human lives. Our work to save artwork begins once we know that all the people in a specific area have been saved or accounted for. Apart from their intrinsic historic and artistic value, it’s important to save artwork that has an important devotional value to the people in the area that was badly hit. It’s important to preserve such works to one day bring them back to their original churches.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: The process typically starts with the Vigili Del Fuoco, the fire and rescue service, whose members have the training and skills necessary to enter earthquake-damaged buildings still at risk from continuing aftershocks. Ciro Bolognese is one of their structural engineers. He explained one of their most complicated tasks so far — using drones and robots from a research project called TRADR, funded by the European Union — to record this video inside two of Amatrice’s most important churches, both partially collapsed.

    CIRO BOLOGNESE: We have a clearer idea of what’s inside the church, even if we haven’t gone inside the church.”

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Inside the Church of Sant’Agostino, they could see paintings still hanging on the walls — exposed to the elements. The video helped firefighters decide on the safest way to remove them.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: A few days later firemen were lowered into the church on ropes to carefully lift out the paintings, now being stored with other rescued objects in a nearby warehouse.

    Some art is much harder to save: for instance, these wall paintings, or frescos, in Amatrice’s other large church, the Basilica of San Francesco. The video shows parts of them have crumbled to the ground.

    Bolognese says these images will be used to make three-dimensional models to help the Culture Ministry come up with a plan to save these structures.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Is the work you are doing urgent?”

    CIRO BOLOGNESE: Yes. It’s urgent because we have to stop the movement of the church. Otherwise, with the aftershocks, other parts could collapse, and we want to avoid that.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Wow. So this is a fresco that’s inside of the apse of the church of St Francis.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Brunella Fratoddi is a curator at the Municipal Museum of Amatrice. She’s living in a tent and trailer in her garden now, because she’s not sure if her house is secure.

    Fratoddi took these photos of the museum, which like most of the town’s historic center, was heavily damaged.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: It’s a painting..,One of the most important that they were able to rescue from the museum of Amatrice. The Art Squad was able to save a lot, but not all of the art inside.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY:  Okay, she hopes this fresco is still there inside the museum because it was on the wall of the museum and she doesn’t know how well it stood up during the earthquake.

    How does it make you feel to see the art ruined and at risk?”

    BRUNELLA FRATODDI, MUNICIPAL MUSEUM OF AMATRICE  (translated from Italian): It cuts straight to the heart. It feels awful knowing that some things I’ll never see again, and that the town will never be the same again. I hope we can rebuild and retrieve our heritage.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: And that’s exactly what Italy’s government has vowed…to rebuild Amatrice and the other towns just as they were before…even using the same stones whenever possible. Sergio Pirozzi is Amatrice’s mayor, who was widely quoted the day the earthquake hit saying, “Half the town is gone.” Today, he’s looking to the future with optimism.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Can the town be reborn?

    MAYOR SERGIO PIROZZI, AMATRICE  (translated from Italian): Sure. Just as it was before. I’m hoping, counting on this.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Take L’Aquila, about an hour away. An earthquake in 2009 devastated this medieval city. Today, its center remains a construction zone with hundreds of buildings still being rebuilt, amid funding setbacks and allegations of corruption.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: So every piece of plywood has some piece of art being protected from the elements.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: At this church in L’Aquila, a fire brigade engineer showed us some of the techniques used to stabilize the building — like this metal arch bolted inside the apse of the church. These fixes were supposed to be temporary, but they’ve been in place for seven years. The church still has no roof. Back in Amatrice, the lessons learned in L’Aquila will be applied to structures like Sant’ Agostino.

     CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Can this be made more earthquake resistant so that if a similar earthquake happens in the future it doesn’t happen again?

    CIRO BOLOGNESE: Yes. When we repair this church using actual national code for buildings, it will be repaired using materials but also providing the reinforced structures.”

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: But many Italians are skeptical, and point to a pair of buildings in Amatrice.

    The first is the police headquarters. Following the L’Aquila quake in 2009, it was reinforced to make it more quake resistant. The grey paint and crosses at the top show where steel bars were put in to support the walls. The building is damaged but still standing.

    The second building is across the street — this elementary school — which was supposed to have been reinforced, too, but almost completely collapsed. Had the quake struck during the school day, instead of 3 o’clock in the morning, more than 200 children of Amatrice could have been at risk.

    Italian authorities are investigating why it and so many other buildings were not more quake resistant.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Certain buildings fell down that perhaps shouldn’t have, such as the school. What kind of assurances will people have that this kind of thing won’t happen again if they come back?

    SERGIO PIROZZI (translated from Italian): Unlike the US, Italy’s history goes back more than 1,000 years. But it’s not so much a question of age. It’s about how much money is available. If you study things for a moment, there’s a substantial difference between improvement and conforming to code. Conforming to code costs a lot of money. Just improving a building costs less money.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: I asked the mayor, in the future, will you implement just improvements or will you conform to code?

    SERGIO PIROZZI (translated from Italian): It depends on how much the State wants to spend. Reconstruction will happen according to the right resources available. With the right resources, you can do something. If you don’t have the right resources, you can’t.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Before reconstruction begins, the Art Squad needs to finish its job. So far, it’s been able to save about 300 paintings, sculptures, and other artworks, but there are still hundreds they haven’t reached yet or accounted for in the area.

    Sometimes local people need to be reassured that the art taken away for safekeeping will not be lost or forgotten, and eventually will be returned, like this church caretaker.  Who’s going to look after it, he asks?

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: For museum curator Brunella Fratoddi, restoring the art treasures is the key to bringing back tourists and the people who called Amatrice home.

    BRUNELLA FRATODDI  (translated from Italian): Amatrice was voted one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. Its art could be a stimulus to rebuild this city as it was.

    The post Saving treasured art after Italy’s major earthquake appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A protester demonstrates against the Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. September 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Andrew Cullen - RTX2OVHV

    A protester demonstrates against the Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on Sept. 9, 2016. Photo by Andrew Cullen/Reuters

    Hundreds of miles from the North Dakota pipeline protests that garnered headlines earlier this month, a woman in Iowa stood in her soy bean field, trying to block industrial mowers about to cut down her crops.

    In North Dakota, the Standing Rock Sioux have argued that a portion of the Dakota Access oil pipeline would threaten their drinking water and their sacred lands, and their protests prompted the federal government to halt construction on that segment earlier this month. In Iowa, Cyndy Coppola and other residents have sued their state government for allowing Dakota Access to seize their farmland for the pipeline, which would cut through Iowa on its way from North Dakota to Illinois.

    Pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to transport oil and gas, and it isn’t possible to meet the nation’s demand for fuel using rail or road alone. But as more oil and gas pipelines crisscross the country, environmental and energy lawyers say protests against them are becoming increasingly common.

    “I just stood in front of them,” said Coppola, 68. “I was so angry. I was like, ‘Run over me, I don’t care.’ ”

    Landowners like Coppola are challenging pipeline companies’ use of eminent domain to take their land. Environmental advocates worried about pipeline leaks have been putting more pressure on state officials to put restrictions on the projects, or block them entirely. And state lawmakers have gotten involved, with Republicans saying they want to protect personal property rights and Democrats saying they want to protect water sources and the environment.

    Georgia and South Carolina passed laws this year that temporarily ban pipeline companies from using eminent domain. Residents there had concerns similar to those in Iowa regarding a proposed pipeline that would have carried petroleum from South Carolina to Florida.

    New York in April withheld a required water quality certificate from a pipeline that would have pumped gas from Pennsylvania to New York. And cities and towns in New Jersey have passed laws and resolutions in an attempt to stop a company from building two parallel pipelines running there from New York.

    The yearslong national debate over whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline may have contributed to the general opposition to new pipelines, as people began to associate pipelines with climate change, said Bob Hogfoss, an attorney who represents pipeline companies.

    Environmentalists said the proposed 1,200-mile Keystone XL pipeline would have dramatically increased carbon emissions and President Barack Obama eventually rejected it.

    Pipeline leaks only add to concerns. This month, up to 336,000 gallons of refined gasoline spilled from a pipeline in Alabama, killing plants and wildlife and worrying locals that the gasoline would contaminate a nearby river. Environmentalists argue the sheer quantity of oil or gas being transported by pipelines and a lack of oversight have the potential to do more damage than trains or trucks.

    “We now have these pipelines upstream from millions of people’s drinking water,” said Tonya Bonitatibus, an advocate for Savannah Riverkeeper, an environmental nonprofit in Georgia. “And in the long run it’s not if it’s going to leak. It’s when it’s going to leak.”

    Taking Land

    The approval process for pipelines varies, depending on what they will transport and whether a pipeline system crosses state lines. Pipelines that transport oil, as well as pipelines that transport oil or natural gas within a single state, are approved by that state. Pipelines transporting natural gas across state lines must be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

    The commission approved 35 major natural gas pipelines last year, tied with 2007 for the most of any year for which data is available.

    States rarely block proposals for new oil pipelines, although in recent years some have beefed up safety rules.

    Yet questions are arising in multiple states over whether private companies have the right to use eminent domain, the power to take land for a public purpose with just compensation, for projects that are sometimes unregulated by the state. Eminent domain laws for pipelines vary by state. In many states, pipeline companies must get approval from the state before using eminent domain.

    In Kentucky last year, the Court of Appeals ruled that eminent domain can only be used by pipeline companies if the pipelines are regulated by the state’s Public Service Commission.

    Farmers in Iowa argue that the Dakota Access pipeline doesn’t meet any public need, because it carries oil across the state without supplying oil to it, and thus the state shouldn’t have granted the pipeline company eminent domain powers.

    The Iowa Public Utilities Board in March voted to approve the use of eminent domain, writing that the pipeline would carry crude oil more safely than the alternatives, and that the construction and operation of the pipeline would bring jobs and other economic benefits.

    So far, Coppola said her family has spent at least $25,000 trying to fight the board’s decision. Meanwhile, the company building the pipeline agreed to pay the family $8,500 for four of its 80 acres, and moved forward with the project, building and burying the pipeline across part of the farm.

    Protecting Land and Water

    The resistance in Iowa, Georgia and South Carolina centered on eminent domain, but the fights started in part because landowners were worried about what the pipelines would do to their property and the environment. The nutrient-rich soil in Iowa is a rare commodity, Coppola said.

    “Once the land is disrupted, even if they put it back it won’t be the same for a hundred years where they dug under it,” Coppola said. “And if there is a leak it will be thousands of years before the land is as productive as it is now.”

    The pipeline that faced resistance in Georgia and South Carolina would have run through conservation land and crossed five major rivers and numerous tributaries and creeks in Georgia, potentially harming habitats and the ecosystem, according to the Georgia Conservancy, a local nonprofit. The group also argued that there was no need for additional fuel in coastal Georgia, where the pipeline was to be built.

    When Kinder Morgan, the company building the pipeline, first started approaching property owners, it “started a real ruckus,” said Georgia state Rep. Bill Hitchens, a Republican.

    Hearing the concerns, the state denied Kinder Morgan the right to use eminent domain. “There was no real benefit to Georgia,” Hitchens said.

    Hitchens supported the new Georgia law that put the use of eminent domain for pipelines on hold for a year. A similar law in South Carolina did the same thing, for three years. Legislative commissions in both states are using the time to consider if and how to change the law permanently.

    Meanwhile, landowners in the states now recognize that they have the power to speak up against eminent domain for this use, said Bonitatibus of Savannah Riverkeeper.

    Federal ‘Rubber Stamp’

    When it comes to natural gas projects crossing state lines, states have long relied on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure the safety of proposed projects.

    But environmental attorneys, such as Alex Bomstein, of the Clean Air Council, say the commission has become a rubber stamp for pipeline projects.

    Earlier this month, in a letter to the U.S. Congress, 180 environmental, energy and community planning organizations from 35 states called for a change to the Natural Gas Act, which gives the commission the authority to approve pipeline requests.

    The coalition argues that the federal agency is abusing its approval power, “resulting in uncontrolled and irresponsible proliferation of unneeded natural gas pipelines.” State and local governments should be given more power to address eminent domain and environmental concerns related to the projects, the coalition says.

    Pipeline projects should be subject to all environmental and community protection laws, just as all other industries are, said Maya van Rossum, leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and a co-signer of the letter to Congress.

    As part of the commission’s approval process, states may have one tool to block projects: withholding a certificate stating that the project meets water quality standards. But lawyers representing energy companies and environmental groups disagree on whether states can do this, given the current law that gives the federal government the final say on natural gas pipeline approvals.

    In a rare move, a New York state agency in April denied a water quality certificate for a 124-mile project that would have run through the state from northeastern Pennsylvania, saying the pipeline company failed to prove that the project would not harm the 250 streams it crosses in the state.

    The decision is “important and powerful and it is demonstrating to states across the nation that they do have the capacity to say no, and they should embrace that authority,” van Rossum said.

    Meeting Demand

    Energy companies say the new pipelines are needed to transport oil and gas from new places. The use of hydraulic fracturing, which has given companies access to oil and gas deposits that used to be out of reach, has increased production across the country, from California to Pennsylvania. Trains and trucks are often used to get the oil from these new sources to refineries where the oil is processed, and transporting it by pipeline would be much more efficient.

    Since the Keystone XL debate, every pipeline project seems to be meeting the same resistance that project did, and the opposition threatens the economy, said Martin Durbin, executive director for market development of the American Petroleum Institute, at an event for the energy industry in April.

    “We have to have this infrastructure in order to achieve and realize all of the benefits from an economic growth standpoint, from an emissions reduction standpoint, and to continue to grow on the U.S. role as a global energy leader,” he said.

    Both Durbin and Melissa Ruiz, spokeswoman for Kinder Morgan, the largest oil and gas pipeline company in the U.S., said the energy industry and the government need to do a better job of educating the public about how safe and important the pipelines are.

    “There are always going to be people who say not in my backyard,” Ruiz said, “but I think that’s the reality that holds true on everything.”

    This story first appeared on Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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    Photo by PhotoAlto/Odilon Dimier via Getty Images

    Photo by PhotoAlto/Odilon Dimier via Getty Images

    For the first time in the United States, bees have been placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

    Seven yellow-faced bee species that were once abundant in their native home of Hawaii, were declared endangered on Friday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Associated Press reported.

    Those species have been devastated by “habitat loss, wildfires and the invasion of non-native plants and insects,” according to The Guardian.

    The federal protection of the bees will “allow authorities to implement recovery programs, access funding and limit their harm from outside sources,” according to the AP.

    These species of bees are essential to the islands’ produce. In general, bees add billions of dollars to U.S. agriculture each year, according to Reuters. Many indigenous Hawaiian plant species could go extinct if the native species of bees were to totally disappear from the islands.

    Sarina Jepson, endangered species program director at Portland-based conservation organization the Xerces Society, told the AP that the bees are threatened by “feral pigs, invasive ants, loss of native habitat due to invasive plants, fire, as well as development, especially in some for the coastal areas.”

    Entomologist Karl Magnacca, who has worked with Xerces and operates chiefly in Hawaii, told the AP that the organization had worked on efforts to declare the bee species endangered for nearly 10 years.

    The placement of the Hawaiian bees on the endangered species list occurs just a week after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed adding the rusty patched bumble bee to the list, according to Reuters. The rusty patched bumble bee is a key pollinator that once swarmed the upper Midwest and Northeastern U.S. It is also the first wild bee species in the continental U.S. to be proposed for official federal protection.

    Officials also added three other native Hawaiian animal species to the list: the band-rumped storm-petrel, the orangeblack Hawaiian damselfly and the anchialine pool shrimp, according to the AP.

     

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    Children display ribbon cut-outs tied to balloons during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign to mark World AIDS Day in Kolkata December 1, 2014. The world has finally reached "the beginning of the end" of the AIDS pandemic that has infected and killed millions in the past 30 years, according to a leading campaign group fighting HIV. United Nations data show that in 2013, 35 million people were living with HIV, 2.1 million people were newly infected with the virus and some 1.5 million people died of AIDS. By far the greatest part of the HIV/AIDS burden is in sub-Saharan Africa. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri (INDIA - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY) - RTR4G8WJ

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:  This week, Oxford University researchers released a study that may point to new treatments for people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.  The study looked at young children in South Africa with HIV and found that 10 percent of them never develop symptoms of AIDS.

    To discuss the implications of this study, I’m joined via Skype from Oxford, England, by Philip Goulder, a professor of pediatrics at Oxford University, who led the research team.

    So, Professor, what do these children have that’s special?  How is it they don’t go from HIV to AIDS?

    PHILIP GOULDER, OXFORD UNIVERSITY:  Well, the interesting thing about these children is that, as you say, they don’t progress to the disease through childhood.  And children in general with HIV progress much more rapidly than adults, something like 60 percent without treatment would die in the first two and a half years.

    So, this is quite an unexpected finding.  And we initially looked to see whether this was to do with the immune responses against the virus.  And in fact, although they do make quite strong immune responses against the virus, this wasn’t the reason they didn’t progress.  But the reason was that they, in spite of having a lot of virus onboard, their immune activation levels are relatively low.  So in some senses, they tend to ignore the virus, and as a result, they don’t get any disease from it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  That’s the opposite of what an adult body would do, right?  I mean, it would try to — our body would attack as much as possible, and you’re saying the sort of the peace versus the war might be better in these cases?

    PHILIP GOULDER:  Exactly so.  The immune system has a very difficult job on its hands, because if you make too weak a response, you run the risk of being killed by a foreign invader, and if you make too strong a response, then the immune response causes a disease on its own account.  So, finding that perfect middle line is a very difficult thing for the immune response and, obviously, the immune system has to deal with all sorts of different pathogens and handle those.  And HIV is just one particular virus that it has to deal with.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Will these children be safe the rest of their lives?  Will they not develop AIDS?

    PHILIP GOULDER:  We think some of them, as they transition from childhood into adolescents and adulthood, actually do start to make the sort of immune responses that are characteristic of adults.  In other words they start to try and fight with the virus.  And although that tends to bring the virus down, unfortunately, the bad side is that the immune system gets more and more activated, and actually, they progress more rapidly.

    On the other hand, there are still some who can reach adulthood and still remain nonprogressors.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Tell us, what does this teach us, what does this teach medicine or even the pharmaceutical industry?  Do we change our strategy or our approach?  Do we try to build different kinds of drugs in the future that tries to mimic what these children are doing naturally?

    PHILIP GOULDER:  I think so.  I think we can actually learn a lot from what children can teach us in the different way that they approach dealing with foreign pathogens like HIV, and in this instance, obviously, antiretroviral therapy is the mainstay of treatment for the people with HIV, and, you know, the prognosis for people with HIV has been transformed by antiretroviral therapy.

    That being said, the immune response of people with HIV doesn’t return to normal, even with successful treatment.  So, there is still a need per new approaches to try to bring the immune system back to normal so that people with HIV, even on treatment, don’t run risk of so-called non-AIDS-associated diseases like cancers and cardiovascular disease, to which they’re at risk.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Philip Goulder, professor the pediatrics at Oxford University — thanks so much for joining us.

    PHILIP GOULDER:  Thank you.

    The post Oxford study could point to new treatments for HIV appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally in Canton, Ohio, U.S., September 14, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTSNSRV

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: When it comes to the race for the White House, Ohio has always been a bellwether. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio. No Democrat since John F. Kennedy has become president without winning Ohio.

    But this year, the stakes may not be as high. To help us understand why, I’m joined from Washington by “New York Times” reporter Jonathan Martin.

    Jonathan, there was — I remember a documentary back in 2006, you know, chronicling “as goes Ohio, so goes the nation.” What’s happening this year? Why is this different?

    JONATHAN MARTIN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It’s different because of two big factors. Number one is the sort of changing nature of the Democratic Party. It is now built on a coalition that includes less working class white voters and more what’s been called a coalition of the ascendant — younger voters, non-white voters, female voters and it’s more — it’s more affluent now.

    And Ohio is a traditional Rust Belt state. And that’s the other piece of it. The demographics of Ohio are more forbidding for Democrats given their current nature today. So, if you’re Hillary Clinton, you’re going to compete in Ohio — she’s not going to pull out of there. In fact, she’s going back next week. But it’s not essential.

    So, it’s just not the sort of quintessential battleground state it has been in years passed because the bottom line is she doesn’t need it to get the necessary 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And Donald Trump has also started campaigning as one of his main platforms that he always hits at the campaign speeches is trade, and that was traditionally something you used to hear from labor and the left.

    JONATHAN MARTIN: Right. And that’s sort of tied to the demographic piece of this story is that Ohio, because it’s more of a — you know, white, blue-collar state, is very, you know, easy to go in there if you’re a Republican and run on the trade issue. Look, Mitt Romney four years ago, sort of a classic Chamber of Commerce Republican, had a difficult time making inroads in some of those communities like Youngstown, Warren, Toledo, the kind of traditional heartlands of the state.

    Here you’ve got Trump who is going in there running to the left of AFL/CIO on trade, and also, you know, hammering the immigration issue. And the combination of those issues in communities like Youngstown and Warren is very powerful. And it gives traditional Democrats there cover to vote for the Republican.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And as you mentioned, it’s not nearly as representative of the rest of the country, and that’s a much longer term change.

    JONATHAN MARTIN:  That’s exactly right. You know, the country is becoming less white. And, obviously, there’s a certain baseline of education levels in this country. In Ohio, it’s whiter and it’s less educated than the country at large. So, it doesn’t quite reflect the America of 2016.

    This is something, by the way, that Ohio political veterans, they don’t deny this. It’s not easy because they have gotten use to basking in the political spotlight every four years, but they’re cognizant of the fact that Ohio is not, you know, the sort of same reflection of the country that it was 30 years ago.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. National political correspondent for “The New York Times,” Jonathan Martin, joining us from Washington today — thanks so much.

    JONATHAN MARTIN:  Thank you.

    The post Is Ohio less important in this year’s election? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as he accepts the nomination during the final session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 21, 2016. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as he accepts the nomination during the final session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 21, 2016. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s business losses in 1995 were so large that they could have allowed him to avoid paying federal income taxes for as many as 18 years, according to records obtained by The New York Times.

    In a story published online late Saturday, the Times said it anonymously received the first pages of Trump’s 1995 state income tax filings in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The filings show a net loss of $915,729,293 in federal taxable income for the year.

    That Trump was losing money during the early to mid-1990s — a period marked by bankruptcies and poor business decisions — was already well established. But the records obtained by the Times show losses of such a magnitude that they potentially allowed Trump to avoid paying taxes for years, possibly until the end of the last decade.

    Trump’s campaign released a statement on Saturday lashing out at the Times for publishing the records and accused the newspaper of working to benefit the Republican nominee’s presidential rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    “The New York Times, like establishment media in general, is an extension of the Clinton campaign, the Democratic Party and their global special interests,” the campaign said, calling Trump “a highly skilled businessman who has a fiduciary responsibility to his business, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required.”

    The statement added that Trump had paid “hundreds of millions” of dollars in other kinds of taxes over the years.

    Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, used the Times story to needle Trump about not releasing his tax returns and contending during his first debate with Clinton that not paying federal income taxes would show he was “smart.”

    Mook said in a statement that Trump apparently avoided paying taxes for two decades “while tens of millions of working families paid theirs. He calls that ‘smart.'” Mook added: “Now that the gig is up, why doesn’t he go ahead and release his returns to show us all how ‘smart’ he really is?”

    Since 1976, every major party presidential nominee has released tax returns. Clinton has publicly released nearly 40 years’ worth, and Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, has released 10 years of his tax returns.

    But after initially saying that he would make his returns public during the course of his campaign, Trump switched course, citing what he said were years of ongoing IRS audits and the advice of his attorneys to keep them private as those audits proceed.

    Former IRS officials have expressed skepticism that anyone would be audited so frequently. And IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, when was asked at a House committee hearing on Sept. 21 whether people under IRS audit are free to release their returns or IRS letters informing them they are being audited, said they are.

    In its story, the Times said the three pages of documents were mailed last month to a Times reporter who had written about Trump’s finances. A postmark indicated they had been sent from New York City and the return address claimed the envelope had been sent from Trump Tower, the newspaper said.

    Trump’s campaign did not directly address the authenticity of the excerpts from Trump’s tax filings. Former Trump accountant Jack Mitnick, whose name appears as Trump’s tax preparer of the filings, confirmed their authenticity, the newspaper reported.

    On the campaign trail, Trump continued to veer from scripted economic arguments to personal attacks on Clinton.

    At a rally Saturday night, Trump questioned Clinton’s loyalty to her husband, adding an explosive personal charge against his Democratic opponent to a turbulent week when he repeatedly veered off script.

    “Hillary Clinton’s only loyalty is to her financial contributors and to herself,” Trump told thousands gathered in Manheim, Pennsylvania. “I don’t think she’s even loyal to Bill if you want to know the truth … Why should she be, right? Why should she be?”

    Trump also seized on a leaked recording from a Clinton fundraiser in February, where she expressed empathy for young voters who were siding with her primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, saying that for people who don’t see any economic opportunities, the idea that “you could be part of a political revolution is pretty appealing.” The hacked recording was published Tuesday by the Washington Free Beacon

    Clinton called them “children of the Great Recession” and added: “And they are living in their parents’ basement. They feel that they got their education and the jobs that are available to them are not at all what they envisioned for themselves.”

    Trump sought to turn her words into a new pitch for Sanders supporters, although Sanders himself has endorsed Clinton and denounced Trump. The businessman contended Saturday that the audio shows Clinton “demeaning and mocking Bernie Sanders and all of his supporters” and added: “To sum up, Hillary Clinton thinks Bernie Sanders supporters are hopeless and ignorant basement dwellers.”

    Jeff Horwitz of the Associated Press wrote this report. Associated Press writers Steve Peoples in Manheim, Pennsylvania, and Catherine Lucey in White Plains, New York contributed to this report.

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    U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton gestures to the crowd at a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S. September 27, 2016.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RTSPQ8J

    U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton gestures to the crowd at a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Sept. 27, 2016. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    RALEIGH, N.C. — Republican Donald Trump can do little to stop Democrat Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency if she carries North Carolina, where their close race reflects the national liabilities of both candidates.

    Trump is struggling with conservative Democrats, especially women in the big and booming suburbs of Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, who’ve long been part of the GOP’s winning formula in North Carolina.

    Clinton has her own worries: Younger voters who helped Barack Obama win the state in 2008 and come close in 2012 are far more hesitant to back her.

    In a scenario playing out across the most contested states, Clinton’s pursuit of new supporters is aided by a huge, data-driven ground force in North Carolina, while Trump is sticking with his come-what-may plan.

    “Both candidates have problems here,” said Paul Shumaker, an adviser to U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., who is seeking re-election. “But I think the Clinton people are more attuned about fixing their problems than Trump’s are.”

    Polls suggest North Carolina, Ohio and Florida are among the most competitive states expected to decide the final steps on the path to the 270 electoral votes required to win the White House.

    In all but one of the past nine presidential elections, the Republican nominee has taken North Carolina. Clinton’s apparent strength in once reliably Republican Virginia and swing state Colorado may mean a perilously narrow route to an electoral majority for Trump.

    If Clinton captures North Carolina, Trump would have to carry perennially tight Ohio and Florida, plus Democrat-leaning Pennsylvania, and sweep less populous close states that appear increasingly out of reach.

    Shumaker says GOP support for Trump is lower than usual in North Carolina, as estimated in private GOP and public polling. 2012 nominee Mitt Romney received more than 90 percent of the GOP vote in North Carolina, according to exit polls; Trump appears markedly short of that.

    Trump promised to win over conservative Democrats, who are common in Cary, a suburb of roomy brick homes and newer retail developments west of Raleigh.

    Such a voter is Sunday Petrov, who is grudgingly backing Clinton. “It’s more like I’m voting against Trump,” she said. “What bothers me most is his disrespect for Hispanics, for Muslims, his unprofessional demeanor.”

    Trump has little outreach aimed at specific voter groups in North Carolina; Clinton does. She needs it with younger people, with whom her polling margins pale next to Obama’s in 2008 and 2012.

    After last Monday’s debate with Trump, she pleaded her case during a rally at Wake Tech Community College. The election, she said, “is more about the future of young people and children than it’s ever been,” and she talked about her plan for government-subsidized, tuition-free college. Later in the week, Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, visited Asheville and Greenville, stopping at Eastern Carolina University to focus on college debt.

    “North Carolina feels like Virginia in 2012,” said Dan Kanninen, the Clinton campaign’s top adviser in the state.

    Obama won Virginia in 2008 and 2012, after 10 consecutive GOP victories there, by attracting younger, ethnically diverse and more educated adults, especially those flowing into northern Virginia’s tech and defense sectors.

    Clinton is putting that same strategy to work in North Carolina. Universities, high-tech companies such as Cisco Systems and the financial sector, including Fidelity Investments, have attracted thousands of young professionals to the Raleigh area alone since 2012.

    In the past four years, North Carolina has added roughly 300,000 voters, mostly in metropolitan areas that account for half of the state’s vote. They are predominantly college-educated, which is good news for Clinton in a close race.

    “Trump’s biggest problem is college-educated whites,” said Republican strategist Michael Luethy, who charts legislative races. “If he solves his problem there, he wins. Easier said than done.”

    Perhaps the biggest unknown heading into the Nov. 8 election is whether African-Americans will turn out for Clinton at near the historic levels they twice did for Obama, the first black president.

    Clinton dominates Trump among African-Americans, who make up 22 percent of North Carolina’s voters, the biggest share of any of battleground state. Trump has done little to turn around long-standing support for Democrats by black voters.

    Clinton has organizers on or near campuses of the state’s 12 historically black colleges and universities.

    Moreover, early-voting restrictions enacted in 2013 by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled Legislature and GOP Gov. Pat McCrory were overturned after being ruled discriminatory toward black voters.

    McCrory is up for re-election in November and trails Democrat Roy Cooper in a rare case where a down-ballot race could generate turnout for the presidential campaign.

    “I think Democratic intensity on that issue — the attempt at voter suppression — is going to keep African-American turnout at the levels we’ve had lately,” said Ken Eudy, a Democratic campaign strategist.

    Shumaker, the GOP senator’s aide, said that may be enough to lift Clinton in a close race.

    “It’s going to come down to the wire,” he said. “And we’re a 2-point state.”

    The post Clinton could put away Trump by carrying North Carolina appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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

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

    As controversy about the pricing of EpiPens reverberates from Capitol Hill to school districts across the country, one recurring complaint from consumers is that the high cost is magnified because the drug expires quickly, forcing users to regularly bear the cost of replacing the medicine that saves lives in the event of a severe allergic reaction.

    So what exactly determines its longevity? It turns out storage and distribution can play as important a role in the drug’s shelf life as the chemical compounds.

    The EpiPen works by injecting into the body the drug epinephrine. That causes a series of physiological changes, including tightening blood vessels and opening airways.

    Epinephrine is a generic medication and not very costly, but the drug maker Mylan has a patent on the design of the auto injector that is the key element of the EpiPen. That injector allows users to administer the medication more quickly than other options on the market. Under that patent, the company has progressively raised the cost of the drug since 2007 to about $600 for a pack of two today.

    Since the medicine generally expires every year, the cost to replace EpiPens adds up fairly quickly, especially for consumers who do not have insurance or have high-deductible plans in which they must spend money out of pocket before the coverage kicks in.

    “This is just a lifesaving medicine,” said Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “You can’t let it expire.”

    Environment plays a role the in the EpiPen’s lifespan. The medicine can be stored in areas fluctuating between 59 and 86 degrees, but it should not be exposed to extreme heat or cold. Mylan also advises users to protect the drug from light and not store it in a glove compartment.

    According to Julie Knell, director of specialty communications at Mylan, the EpiPen expires every 12 to 18 months, but that period includes the time it takes to distribute the product and reach the patient’s hands.

    Glatter said that is similar to the time that hospitals keep vials of epinephrine in stock, too.

    Aside from the active ingredient, the EpiPen solution also contains fillers needed to help stabilize the drug. These compounds also break down over time, affecting the drug’s potency. Glatter said EpiPen users should look out for cloudiness or small pieces of matter in the liquid, as that indicates degradation.

    Still, he pointed out that a study in 2000 found EpiPens can remain without apparent signs of deterioration for up to 90 months — seven and a half years — after the expiration date.

    While he strongly discourages patients from allowing their EpiPens to expire, Glatter said using an expired one is better than none at all.

    “They’re willing to take a chance, unfortunately,” he said.

    Glatter said he’s seen a rise in people holding onto expired EpiPens because they cannot afford a new dose. And according on FDA standards, no other drug on the market is as effective.

    Despite its dominance, consumers can purchase a cheaper alternative that contains the same medication: Adrenaclick’s generic option. That product lasts 18 months — the maximum length of time for the EpiPen — and can withstand the same temperatures as its competitor. Both the generic and EpiPen auto-injectors are designed with a viewing window to check the solution for cloudiness and particle matter.

    Unlike the EpiPen, the generic auto-injector requires the user to remove an endcap before injecting the epinephrine. The alternative also stands out from its brand name competitor with its price tag: $395 for a two-pack.

    Under intense scrutiny, Mylan announced several initiatives to reduce the cost of EpiPens for its users. Among them is the release of their own generic version, which, according to the company’s website, will be identical to their brand name drug at half the cost. In addition, the manufacturer will provide a direct-ship option, which allows consumers to buy the product directly from the company.

    Mylan’s announcement drew sharp criticism last week at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, with many members claiming the company would profit more from the generic drug than the brand name drug because it cut costs by eliminating the distributor. Mylan CEO Heather Bresch adamantly denied the accusations.

    In addition, Bresch also announced the company is “day’s away” from submitting a proposal to the FDA for an EpiPen that expires every 24 months, double the shelf life of the current product.

    Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can view the original report on its website.

    The post The need to replace EpiPens regularly adds to concerns about cost appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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