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

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    Members of the audience cheer as they listen to speakers at a union rally for higher minimum wages in New York, January 4, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson - RTX210MI

    Members of the audience cheer as they listen to speakers at a union rally for higher minimum wages in New York, January 4, 2016. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    DENVER — Congress’ inaction on the $7.25 hourly minimum wage is again playing out on state ballots, with voters in four states considering an increase and another considering wages for the youngest workers, even though the states already exceed the federal. In some cases voters are also deciding whether to add sick-leave policies to help the working poor.

    The ballot proposals in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington come two years after voters in five other states passed minimum-wage hikes. South Dakota voters are taking a second crack at wages, two years after raising them to $8.50 an hour.

    Is it a slam dunk that this year’s measures will pass, too? Maybe. Even the classic opponents to a higher minimum wage — restaurant associations and small-business groups — are running muted campaigns to oppose the wage measures.

    “It almost always passes when it gets on the ballot,” said Jerold Waltman, a political scientist at Baylor University who has written extensively about minimum wage and politics.

    “Most Americans have a fundamental sense of fairness, that if you work, you ought to make enough to make a living wage on. Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on this.”

    Four of the wage measures are only slightly different. Arizona, Colorado and Maine are considering phased-in $12 hourly minimum wages by 2020. In Washington state, where the minimum wage is $9.47 an hour, voters are considering a higher minimum wage, $13.50 an hour by 2020. The measures in Arizona and Washington also require employers to give paid sick leave.

    Voters in South Dakota are looking at the minimum wage for the second time in as many years. They will consider a so-called “referred law” to overturn a state law passed in reaction to a 2014 vote raising the minimum to $8.50, with the wage pegged to inflation.

    South Dakota lawmakers lowered the minimum wage to $7.50 for workers under 18, with no inflation adjustment for those youngest workers. The ballot measure asks voters to choose between keeping lawmakers’ approach to younger workers, or requiring higher wages for all working teens.

    The campaigns are talking about folks like Mayra Pride in Colorado, a 25-year old mother of three. Born and raised in Denver, Pride and her husband are considering moving after the birth of a fourth child because they can’t make ends meet on his pay for landscaping and construction jobs.

    “It’s not close to enough,” Pride said after a recent shopping trip to a discount store that sells cheap toiletries and paper goods. “We pay over $1,000 a month rent. That basically eats it all up. We can’t afford anything else sometimes.”

    Opponents of the wage campaigns are trying a nuanced approach, opposing not higher wages but how the measures are worded.

    In Colorado and Washington, for example, the opposing campaigns are arguing that minimum wages should be lower in rural, lower-cost areas.

    “It’s not the cities, the big businesses that are going to suffer,” said Tyler Sandberg of Colorado’s wage opposition campaign, called Keep Colorado Working. “A big corporation in Denver is going to be treated the same as a small mom-and-pop business” in a small town, he said.

    In Maine, opponents are also talking about a provision in that state related to restaurant servers and other tipped employees. The measure would gradually repeal a law permitting an employer to take a tip credit toward its minimum wage obligation for tipped employees.

    “We believe it is time the minimum wage in Maine does need to go up, but it needs to be something and more reasonable and sustainable for small employers,” said Peter Gore of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, which says the wage should be $10 an hour, with a continued tip credit.

    Labor unions support the wage hikes and want South Dakota voters to reject the law lowering wages for workers under 18. In many states they have enlisted clergy members and other advocates for the poor to their side.

    “The ballot measures are part of a much bigger picture and a much larger message from workers that they can’t get by on the minimum wage,” said Laura Huizar, staff attorney for the National Employment Law Project, which favors raising the wages.

    What’s less clear is whether minimum-wage ballot measures raise voter turnout overall, or change the prospects for one party or another.

    “It certainly doesn’t hurt turnout, but if you take surveys, even a vast majority of Republicans support raising the minimum wage,” Waltman said.

    And the growing list of states that have raised wages from the $7.25 federal minimum, in effect since 2009, don’t translate into national change, he said.

    “If I’m a congressman from Alabama, what do I care that Colorado just raised the minimum wage? These state campaigns don’t have much influence on Congress,” Waltman said.

    The post Five more states vote on minimum wage as federal wage stalls appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S Republican Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence looks at the crowd during a campaign event at the Des Moines Area Community College in Newton, Iowa, U.S October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Scott Morgan - RTSRUBN

    U.S Republican Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence looks at the crowd during a campaign event at the Des Moines Area Community College in Newton, Iowa, on Oct. 11, 2016. Photo by Scott Morgan/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Mike Pence said Sunday he and Donald Trump will abide by “the will of the American people” on Election Day, and suggested that Trump’s claim of a “rigged” election stems from his belief the media is ganging up on him.

    “We will absolutely accept the results of the election,” Pence said in television interviews. He said Trump’s complaint, articulated from the campaign stage and across Twitter but without evidence, reflects fatigue with “the obvious bias in the national media. That’s where the sense of a rigged election goes here.”

    Not long after Pence said that, Trump partly undermined his comments.

    “The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary – but also at many polling places,” Trump tweeted. “SAD.”

    Pence’s words were the latest attempt by Trump’s surrogates to attempt to explain that some things the GOP presidential nominee has said and tweeted are not what he meant.

    Much of that cleanup duty has fallen to Pence little more than three weeks before the Nov. 8 vote. Trump is struggling to change the focus away from mounting accusations that he sexually assaulted women in ways similar to what he is recorded describing on recently released video. Trump says all of the accusations are fabricated.

    Several of Trump’s unfounded claims — such as the one Saturday that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was on drugs at the most recent debate and his call for drug testing before the next — also overshadowed the release over the weekend of more emails hacked from accounts of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

    Some showed the campaign worrying whether Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., might endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders in the party’s primary, and wrestling with how to respond to revelations about Clinton’s private email use. Another subject: lining up materials to respond to fresh accusations from a woman accused Bill Clinton of raping her decades ago. The former president denied the accusation, which was never adjudicated by a criminal court.

    Amid the intensity, Trump reiterated this weekend that a conspiracy is responsible for the FBI declining to prosecute Clinton for mingling private and official business on a homebrew email server so that she might compete in a fraudulent election.

    “Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted and should be in jail. Instead she is running for president in what looks like a rigged election,” Trump tweeted to his 12 million followers on Saturday.

    Threatening to jail a political opponent and fueling public distrust of a popular election — to explain his loss, should that happen — was a striking breach of faith in American democracy. He has repeatedly claimed, without offering evidence, that election fraud is a serious problem and encouraged his mostly white supporters to “go and watch” polling places in certain areas to make sure things are “on the up and up.”

    It was left to Pence and another Trump surrogate, former New York City Rudy Giuliani, to explain on national television what their own candidate meant.

    “When he talks about a rigged election, he’s not talking about the fact that it’s going to be rigged at the polls,” Giuliani said. “”What he’s talking about is that 80 percent to 85 percent of the media is against him.”

    Pence, at a campaign event last Tuesday, waved away a woman’s call for a revolution if Clinton wins. By Sunday he was saying explicitly: “We’ll accept the will of the American people.”

    The Indiana governor also distanced himself from Trump on a pair of other issues.

    Pence acknowledged that evidence points to Russia being behind the hacking of Democratic emails. “I think there’s more and more evidence that implicates Russia and there should be serious consequences,” he said.

    He also refused to join Trump’s call for Clinton to be drug tested before Wednesday’s third and final presidential debate.

    He vice presidential nominee was asked whether he, like Trump, wants Clinton drug tested.

    “All I know for sure is that Donald Trump is going to be ready for the debate on Wednesday night,” Pence replied.

    Pence appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and “Fox News Sunday.” Giuliani was on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

    The post Pence says GOP ticket will ‘absolutely’ accept election outcome appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A boy walks past damaged buildings in the northern Syrian rebel-held town of al-Waqf, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi - RTSRHI2

    A boy walks past damaged buildings in the northern Syrian rebel-held town of al-Waqf, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria, October 9, 2016. Photo by Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

    LONDON — The United States and Britain on Sunday acknowledged the Western world’s weak support for any military action against Syria’s government as they sought ways to pressure President Bashar Assad and his chief backer, Russia, to halt a deadly offensive in Aleppo. They tried to present it as a possibility, nevertheless.

    After a meeting of 11 governments opposing Assad’s rule, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson each insisted all options were on the table. But their stark explanations about the danger of resorting to military force appeared to rule out such a move.

    The result was a somewhat schizophrenic threat that was unlikely to scare Assad’s government or Russia as they move to crush the last rebel-held areas of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.

    “When a great power is involved in a fight like this, as Russia has chosen to be by going there and then putting its missiles in place in order to threaten people against military action, it raises the stakes of confrontation,” Kerry said after the meeting in London.

    He said no one should be “lighting a fire” under a larger sectarian war in the Middle East or one drawing in superpowers against one another.

    Johnson said Britain wanted to “ratchet up” pressure on Assad, Russia and Iran.

    “No option is, in principle, off the table,” he told reporters.

    [Watch Video]

    Quickly expanding his answer, he added: “Be in no doubt that these so-called military options are extremely difficult and there is, to put it mildly, a lack of political appetite in most European capitals and certainly in the West for that kind of solution at present.”

    “So we’ve got to work with the tools we have,” he said. “The tools we have are diplomatic.”

    The gathering in London came amid mounting international frustration with the 5½ year conflict, which has killed as many as a half-million people, sparked Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II and enabled Islamic State militants to emerge as a global terror threat.

    Kerry on Saturday launched a new diplomatic process with what he described as the major international players in the war — the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. The renewed effort replaces last month’s U.S.-Russian cease-fire, which collapsed within days, and Washington’s now-abandoned talks with Moscow on a military partnership against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida militants.

    Sunday’s gathering included America’s Arab allies from the meeting a day earlier along with European countries that were left out. Not everyone sounded convinced about Kerry’s effort.

    “There is no step forward for a cease-fire,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said.

    Even the U.S. has expressed skepticism about the chances for a diplomatic agreement with Assad’s military supporters, Russia and Iran.

    But President Barack Obama doesn’t seem likely to approve an American military intervention before leaving office. He has consistently rejected such action against Assad, including three years ago when the Syrian leader crossed Obama’s “red line” by using chemical weapons.

    Kerry tried to keep the threat alive Sunday.

    “Let me make it clear,” he said. “President Obama has not taken any options off the table at this point in time. So we’ll see where we are in the next few days in the context of the discussions we’re having.”

    Just a moment earlier, however, Kerry implied the opposite.

    He emphasized that the U.S. and its partners must exhaust diplomatic possibilities, even if the situation in Syria becomes more dire. “Now, some people ask what happens to Aleppo if it were to fall,” Kerry said. “Well, the Russians should understand, and Assad needs to understand, that that does not end the war. This war cannot end without a political solution.

    “So even if Aleppo were to fall, even if they have utterly destroyed it, which they are doing, that will not change the fundamental equation in this war because other countries will continue to support opposition, and they will continue to create more terrorists and Syria will be the victim in the end, as well as the region.”

    Kerry said the U.S. and its partners were “discussing using every mechanism available to us” to stop the fighting.

    “But I haven’t seen a big appetite in Europe of people to go to war,” he said, echoing Johnson. “I don’t see the parliaments of European countries ready to declare war. I don’t see a lot of countries deciding that that’s the better solution here.”

    “It’s easy to say, ‘Where’s the action?’ But what is the action?” he asked. “I have a lot of people who have a lot of trouble defining that.”

    The post U.S., UK say support is weak for military action against Syria appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A recruiter holds an application form at a job fair organized by the New Hampshire Employment Security agency in Salem, New Hampshire December 17, 2008. The U.S. unemployment rate hit 6.7 percent in November, the highest since 1993, as employers axed more than half a million jobs, the most since 1974. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES) REUTERS - RTR22WXI

    Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    Making Sense/NBER logo

    Each month, the NBER Digest summarizes several recent NBER working papers. These papers have not been peer-reviewed, but are circulated by their authors for comment and discussion. With the NBER’s blessing, Making Sen$e is pleased to feature these summaries regularly on our page.

    The following summary was written by the NBER and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Making Sen$e.

    A person who can’t get a job upon release from prison is more likely to break the law again. But employers don’t want to hire ex-offenders — particularly those released recently — because as a group, they are less prepared for work life, in worse health and more likely to misbehave than non-offenders. One proposed way to help ex-offenders find employment and thereby reduce recidivism is “ban the box” legislation that forbids employers from including a criminal-record check box on job applications. Because blacks and Hispanics are significantly more likely than whites to be incarcerated during their lifetimes, some ban-the-box proponents claim that this legislation will also reduce racial disparities in employment.

    A new paper concludes that ban-the-box policies actually reduce work opportunities for young, low-skilled black and Hispanic men with clean records.

    That may not happen, however. In “Does ‘Ban the Box’ Help or Hurt Low-Skilled Workers? Statistical Discrimination and Employment Outcomes When Criminal Histories Are Hidden,” Jennifer L. Doleac and Benjamin Hansen conclude that ban-the-box policies actually reduce work opportunities for young, low-skilled black and Hispanic men with clean records.

    “Advocates for these policies seem to think that in the absence of information, employers will assume the best about all job applicants,” the researchers write. “This is often not the case.” Instead, they report that employers who want to avoid hiring recently incarcerated individuals appear to adopt a strategy of statistical discrimination when denied data about applicants’ criminal records: They curtail their interviewing of candidates in demographic groups that contain the greatest numbers of recently released ex-offenders — young, low-skilled, non-college-educated black and Hispanic men.

    READ MORE: Banning ‘the box’ to give ex-convicts a better chance at finding a job

    Ban the box

    The researchers analyze individual-level data from the monthly U.S. Current Population Survey from 2004 to 2014 to explore the impact of state and local ban-the-box policies on the probability of employment for black and Hispanic men between the ages of 25 and 34 without college degrees. Using variation in when different jurisdictions adopted ban-the-box laws to measure employment effects, they conclude that ban-the-box legislation reduced the probability of employment by 5.1 percent among black men and 2.9 percent among Hispanic men.

    Ban the box reduced black men’s employment probabilities by 7.4 percent in the Northeast, 7.5 percent in the Midwest and 8.8 percent in the West.

    The size of the ban-the-box effect was smaller in areas of the country where these groups constituted a larger share of the population (the South for blacks, the West for Hispanics) and larger elsewhere. Ban the box reduced black men’s employment probabilities by 7.4 percent in the Northeast, 7.5 percent in the Midwest and 8.8 percent in the West; similar, albeit lesser, effects were seen for Hispanic men in the Northeast, Midwest and South.

    “These results suggest that the larger the black or Hispanic population, the less likely employers are to use race/ethnicity as a proxy for criminality,” the researchers write. The effect also increased when unemployment rates were high. Employment probabilities increased significantly under ban the box for highly educated black women and for older, low-skilled black men. Positive but statistically insignificant effects were also seen for whites.

    READ MORE: Are ex-cons being unfairly barred from jobs? ‘Ban the Box’ proponents say yes

    These results are consistent with numerous other studies that have examined the effects of limiting employers’ information about employees. “Policymakers cannot simply wish away employers’ concerns about hiring those with criminal records,” the researchers conclude. “Policies that directly address those concerns — for instance, by providing more information about job applicants with records, or improving the average ex-offender’s job-readiness — could have greater benefits without the unintended consequences found here.”

    — Deborah Kreuze, National Bureau of Economic Research

    The post How ‘ban the box’ policies unintentionally cause discrimination against these workers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listens to former Vice President Al Gore talk about climate change at a rally at Miami-Dade College in Miami, Florida. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Hillary Clinton’s campaign is ramping up spending in several key swing states in the final weeks of the presidential election. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced plans on Monday to ramp up spending in key battleground states and focus more resources on down-ballot races in an effort to score a decisive, across-the-board victory in November.

    The campaign is launching a new $6 million direct mail and digital advertising blitz in the swing states of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire, campaign manager Robby Mook said on Monday.

    If Clinton carries most of those states, it would all but block Donald Trump’s path to reaching the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.

    The spending is part of a larger coordinated effort to help Democrats running for the House, Senate and state and local office, Mook said.

    The main swing states are also home to several competitive Senate elections that could decide the balance of power in the upper chamber of Congress.

    “Donald Trump is becoming more unhinged by the day, and that is increasing prospects for Democrats further down the ballot,” Mook said on a conference call with reporters.

    At the same time, the Clinton campaign is also investing more money in several traditionally conservative states that could be in play this election.

    The campaign will invest more than $2 million on television and online advertising in Arizona, a red state where polls show a tight race for the presidency.

    Top Clinton surrogates are also being dispatched to the state this week. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is making a campaign stop in the state on Tuesday, followed by an appearance by Chelsea Clinton on Wednesday and First Lady Michelle Obama on Thursday.

    Arizona has only voted for a Democratic presidential nominee once in the last 10 elections. But Democrats believe the state could swing left if Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and his feud with Republican leaders, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, turns off enough moderate and Republican voters.

    Donald Trump claims he's inspiring "millions" of new voters. Whether or not he's the reason, the numbers are clear: Republican turnout is up 58 percent so far this year compared to this point in the 2012 primaries. Photo by Sam Mircovich/Reuters

    Trump supporters at a campaign rally in Tuscon, Arizona in March. The Clinton campaign is competing in the traditionally red state this cycle. Photo by Sam Mircovich/Reuters

    The Clinton campaign sees an “opportunity” to win Arizona, Mook said, but he acknowledged that the effort could come up short. “We do think it’s an uphill climb,” he said.

    Mook did not mention Georgia, another deeply conservative state that appeared to be within Clinton’s reach earlier this year. With the investment in Arizona, it seems clear that the campaign is choosing to focus more of its resources in that state than in Georgia.

    Mook said the campaign is also investing an additional $1 million in Indiana and Missouri, two other conservative states where Clinton is polling unusually well for a Democrat this late in the race.

    The spending reflects a cautious approach in the final weeks of the race: attempting to secure victories in the battleground states Clinton needs to win the White House, and also targeting a select group of Republican states in an effort to expand the electoral map.

    Down the stretch, the campaign’s “primary mission” will be finding a way to reach 270 Electoral College votes, not picking up wins in deep-red states, Mook said.

    Mook also said the campaign is expecting record turnout this election, based on data from early voting underway in several states across the country. High voter turnout could hurt Trump, especially if a large percentage of minority voters and moderates back Clinton.

    National polls show Clinton with a steady lead over Trump with just 22 days left before Election Day. In a sign of Trump’s growing struggles, an aide said last week that the campaign was pulling out of Virginia, a key swing state that Republicans had hoped to win this cycle.

    The Trump campaign is now pouring most of its resources into four battleground states: Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Top Trump advisers have insisted the campaign is not ceding any ground in the remaining weeks.

    In an interview with PBS NewsHour last week, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, said the campaign was targeting “a variety of states that Obama carried twice.” Conway added, “the goal for us is to increase the number of Republicans who are supporting Mr. Trump.”

    The post Clinton ramps up spending in swing states in final campaign stretch appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    An ariel view of Mar-a-Lago, where Donald Trump has held many of his biggest political events since launching his campaign. Photo by John Roca/NY Daily News/Getty Images

    An ariel view of Mar-a-Lago, where Donald Trump has held many of his biggest political events since launching his campaign. Photo by John Roca/NY Daily News/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — A staple of Palm Beach’s high-end philanthropy circuit, the Mar-a-Lago Club boasts rich history, an 800-seat ballroom and ocean views. But some major charities and fundraisers are now concerned with a different feature: the property’s owner, Donald Trump.

    Following the leak of Trump boasting about grabbing women by their genitals and allegations that he inappropriately touched women — in two instances at Mar-a-Lago — the Susan G. Komen Foundation is leaning toward finding a new location for its Perfect Pink Party on Jan. 14, a million-dollar breast cancer fundraiser it booked a year ago.

    The charity has no position on Trump, the GOP presidential nominee, but wants to keep its event separate from “controversies unrelated to our mission,” said Andrea Rader, a spokeswoman for the organization. The group won’t make a final decision about whether to abandon its deposit until after October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

    But, Rader said, “those are things that have to be discussed.”

    Event planners who spoke with the AP forecast trouble ahead for the high-end party space.

    “There’s a cloud over Mar-a-Lago,” said Lynne Goldberg of Boca Entertainment, Inc., a party planner who has overseen numerous weddings and fundraisers at the venue, including a 2014 gala for the March of Dimes. She stressed her opinion had nothing to do with politics.

    “There’s a cloud over Mar-a-Lago,” said Lynne Goldberg of Boca Entertainment, Inc. “The last thing you want is for someone to say, oh my God, how could she hold an event there?”
    “The sad part is that the venue is so beautiful — it’s considered the ultimate to hold an event in. What we want to do as event planners is to make everyone happy. The last thing you want is for someone to say, oh my God, how could she hold an event there?” she said.

    Margaret Holman, who runs the fundraising consulting firm Holman Consulting, said charities would have to focus on the fact that they had already signed contracts with Mar-a-Lago and put down deposits. But behind the scenes, she said: “People are going to take this to the full board and let them air their full concerns. Charities who have already engaged are between a rock and a hard place.”

    Those large, nonrefundable deposits may minimize any rush for the exits this year.

    The Palm Beach Habilitation Center, which serves the disabled community, said it won’t break its contract for a Feb. 20 fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago — but president Tina Philips said the party’s organizers would be mindful of Trump’s controversies going forward.

    “I can assure you that will be a big consideration when we discuss it next year,” Philips said.

    The Cleveland Clinic and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute also said they are committed to this year’s events.

    The Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society has held its annual gala for about 500 people at the Mar-a-Lago for several years now, and it’s holding its next one there in January.

    “All this was set in stone for quite some time,” said zoo spokeswoman Naki Carter, adding about the impending party, “It’s crunch time.”

    Longer term, Holman said, charities that continue renting out Mar-a-Lago could rub donors the wrong way.

    “I can understand Susan G. Komen wanting to switch out,” said Tracey Wiseman, a nonprofit management and fundraising consultant. “If I were the president or CEO, I’d be considering another location where I’d have neutrality. And there is not neutrality in Mar-a-Lago.”

    Since the beginning of the campaign, what effect Trump’s bombastic political style will have on his brand-heavy business interests has been unclear. Macy’s, Nascar and NBC cut ties with Trump early after his comments disparaging Mexican immigrants, but Trump has said his brand is hotter than ever.

    The Trump Organization referred calls on the subject of Mar-a-Lago events bookings to an outside public relations agency, which declined to comment. Nonprofit skittishness poses a risk to Donald Trump’s business interests: a single fundraiser can bring the club more than $300,000. For large, high-end events in Palm Beach, there isn’t much choice. Aside from the Trump resort, only the luxury hotel The Breakers can hold more than 500 people.

    Not everyone who spoke to AP was concerned.

    “This will be our 17th annual Women of Grace luncheon,” said Lisa Kronhaus, spokeswoman for the nonprofit Bethesda Health, Inc., which operates hospitals in Florida. She said she had heard no concerns from members to date, and said the controversies around Trump would probably not affect her organization’s choice of Mar-a-Lago in the future.

    The post Charities reconsider holding fundraisers at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Children cheer as a Peshmerga military convoy rolls towards eastern Mosul. Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Getty Images

    Children cheer as a Peshmerga military convoy rolls towards eastern Mosul. Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — More is riding on the battle for Mosul than the recapture of the Islamic State’s main stronghold in northern Iraq. Also on the line is the Obama administration’s theory that the extremists can be defeated in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere without American ground troops doing the fighting.

    For more than two years, the administration has stuck to its argument that the only path to a sustained victory over the Islamic State group is for locals, not Americans or other outsiders, to bear the main responsibility for the fighting and for governing after the extremists are removed.

    President Barack Obama has taken a lot of political heat for that approach, which critics say has allowed IS to expand its international reach and influence.

    The viability of Obama’s strategy has been widely doubted. In May 2015, after months of U.S. bombings in Iraq and while in the midst of Americans training and advising Iraqi ground troops, the Iraqis lost the city of Ramadi. Defense Secretary Ash Carter publicly said he doubted the Iraqis’ will to fight. Since then, the U.S. support role has grown and the Iraqi security forces have managed to retake key parts of western and northern Iraq, including Ramadi.

    Mosul is different, not least because it is the place where Islamic State leaders in 2014 announced their intent to create an Islamic-run state after taking a large swath of Iraq and Syria in a lightning surge.

    White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Monday called Mosul a new measure of Obama’s strategy.

    “And I think the president would be the first to acknowledge that this is a significant test,” he said, given the size of the city and its importance to IS. “Dislodging them from the city would be a significant strategic gain,” Earnest said.

    U.S. airpower played a key role in the run-up to the fight for Mosul by taking out Islamic State defenses, cash resources, supply routes and some of the group’s leaders. The U.S. is now providing air cover as Iraqi security forces and members of the Kurdish militia begin their attempt to retake the city over the next several weeks. American advisers are working with Iraqi troops, but the outcome will be determined largely by the Iraqis.

    For more than two years, the administration has stuck to its argument that the only path to a sustained victory over the Islamic State group is for locals, not Americans or other outsiders, to bear the main responsibility for the fighting and for governing after the extremists are removed.
    Mosul may answer the question: If the Islamic State loses a crown jewel of its so-called caliphate, will that be a decisive and sustainable victory for Iraq? Or will Baghdad once again falter, allowing sectarian and political divisions to destabilize the country and permit a return of extremists?

    That likely won’t be known before Obama’s successor takes office. The next president also will inherit the broader problem of Syria — not just the IS presence there, including in its self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa, but also the civil war with its complications involving Russia, Iran and Turkey.

    Iraq remains deeply divided, and the grievances among the country’s Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish populations that allowed IS to rise to power in the first place have not been resolved. Even if the Mosul campaign is successful militarily, there is a risk of violence erupting again in the form of revenge killings or clashes between groups once allied against a common enemy.

    Seth Jones, a defense and security expert at the RAND Corp., says the combat phase of the battle for Mosul, while difficult, will be “much easier” than the aftermath.

    “I think there’s a strong possibility that a lot of the political grievances actually get accentuated,” he said in an interview Friday.

    David Petraeus, the former Army general who commanded U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq in 2007-2008, calls the Obama approach in Iraq and Syria “a new way of fighting.”

    “It’s much more sustainable in terms of blood and treasure than obviously having our forces have to do it,” Petraeus, who also served as Obama’s CIA director, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

    Obama began sending small numbers of U.S. military advisers to Iraq in the summer of 2014, after the Islamic State had swept into Mosul and also captured much of western Iraq, including cities like Ramadi and Fallujah where American ground troops had spilled much blood before all U.S. troops left Iraq in 2011. The rise of IS in Iraq was a stinging blow to Obama, whom critics accused of giving up hard-fought gains.

    He initially insisted there would be no U.S. “boots on the ground,” but he authorized a gradual expansion of the U.S. training and advising effort to complement a U.S.-led coalition air campaign. He was supported in his cautious, go-slow approach by his top military adviser at the time, Gen. Martin Dempsey, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when IS moved into Iraq and when Obama began returning U.S. advisers to Baghdad.

    Dempsey counselled patience. Give the Iraqis time to heal their internal divisions and fight their own battles, he argued. Resist the temptation to grab control of the contest against the Islamic State. Dempsey believed an enduring victory would require a unified Iraq supported by neighbors.

    “If we were to take control of this campaign, I mean literally seize control of the campaign, then there’s no doubt in my mind we would probably defeat ISIL on, let’s say, a faster timeline,” but it would not last, he said in June 2015. “Maybe ISIL goes away, maybe they’re defeated militarily, and two years from now another group with another name and another ideology … will just be back,” he said.

    In the Obama view, Iraq is more likely to regain, and retain, control of its territory if it is not relying on U.S. troops to do the fighting. Mosul is the biggest test of that theory.

    The post Mission to take Mosul will test Obama’s controversial plan to fight ISIS appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A girl plays as she cools off in a sprinkler system installed inside a playground during a hot summer day in New York, July 17, 2013. Temperatures in New York City, the nation's biggest metropolitan area, soared into the upper 90s Fahrenheit for a third straight day on Wednesday and the National Weather Service issued heat advisories for dozens of northeastern cities and surrounding areas in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and upstate New York. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT) - RTX11PUQ

    A girl plays as she cools off at a playground during a hot summer day in New York. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    Editor’s Note: Monday on the PBS NewsHour, special correspondent Sarah Varney explores how U.S. health experts have adopted a practice from Africa in which ordinary citizens are trained as community health workers.

    On several days this summer, Victor Sanchez’s apartment in upper Manhattan got so sweltering hot by 2 p.m. that he had to step outside for relief, despite outdoor temperatures being in the 90s. The glass on his windows was searing to the touch.

    “I get dizzy; it’s hard to focus,” Sanchez said. During the most recent heat wave, he said his apartment exceeded 100 degrees and stayed typically in the high 90s through the night.

    Gabriel Bencosme, a Harlem resident, said the hottest room in her apartment is her children’s bedroom. They are 5 and 7 years old.

    “My daughter avoids the top bunk because of heat,” Bencosme said. “Instead she sleeps on an air mattress on the floor.”

    Emergency rooms have seen an increase in visits from public housing residents in New York City’s lower-income areas, with the highest rates of hospitalization for heat-related illness occurring during record-breaking heat waves. In 2013, Harlem residents visited emergency rooms twice as much as New Yorkers in other boroughs.

    In 2015, the most dangerous place to be during a heat wave was a non-mobile home, with little or no air conditioning, according to the National Weather Service. Columbia University scientists predict by 2020, New York City could see a 20 percent rise in heat-related deaths. By 2050, that number could rise to 90 percent.

    More than 9,000 Americans have died from heat-related causes since 1979, more people than have been killed by any other type of weather event.

    Heat can have deadly consequences. More than 9,000 Americans have died from heat-related causes since 1979, more people than have been killed by any other type of weather event, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

    But despite complaints, few studies exist on how hot people’s apartments become, especially in public housing. In 2013, the Department of Health reviewed medical examiner records for 48 recorded hyperthermia deaths. Forty-one of these cases involved people who were overcome by heat in their homes, and 36 noted evidence of cardiovascular disease. Of the 26 whose records were attainable, 23 lacked any air conditioning.  

    Jennifer Vanos, a professor at Texas Tech University who studies heat-related health issues, said high temperatures can cause a myriad of ailments, including dizziness, fatigue, dehydration, headaches and lethargy. The worst cases can result in a heat stroke, causing people to pass out and sometimes die.

    The problem of heat stress extends beyond New York City. In Tucson, mercury peaked at 115 degrees Fahrenheit in June, and temperatures in Phoenix reached 118.

    But a new citizen health initiative, the Harlem Heat Project, is trying to help the low-income residents who are most affected by the scorching summer heat. Sophisticated sensors, developed and prototyped by public radio broadcaster WNYC, that measure heat and humidity are placed inside 50 homes. These sensors take a snapshot of “feel-like” heat levels every 15 minutes.

    The project partners include WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a nonprofit advocacy group, and ISeeChange, a community climate and weather journal.

    “When I was on the 18th floor, that was bad,” said WNYC reporter Sarah Gonzalez, who helped distribute the sensors. “Everyone has all these tricks and fans placed in particular directions.”

    Participants stick the small sensor in the room where they spend the most time. Data is collected every two weeks by the attached SIM card. Those without computers mail SIM cards in envelopes. The devices record what floor the data came from and the direction of the sun.

    Harlem Heat Project’s mission is simple, to publish scientific information tenants didn’t know before.

    “When people have ongoing health issues, heat oftentimes will exacerbate those,”  Vanos said. “This includes cardiovascular illness, respiratory illness such as asthma, or they may be on medications that affect their body’s ability to thermoregulate and keep salt and water levels in balance.”

    Even though air conditioning is overused in some Manhattan neighborhoods, individual units are rare in public housing. What’s more, two of the hottest recordings tracked to date by WNYC sensors came from public housing tenants.

    “Until we can fully capture the role heat plays in deaths and hospital visits, people are not going to view it as a health problem,” Gonzalez said.


    The post The deadly threat of a sweltering apartment appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Chris Santiago's debut collection of poetry is "Tula", published by Milkweed Editions. Photo by Joanna Demkiewicz.

    Chris Santiago’s debut collection of poetry is “Tula,” published by Milkweed Editions. Photo by Joanna Demkiewicz.

    Chris Santiago is the son of Filipino immigrants, so it’s only natural that his first published collection of poems would be called “Tula,” the Filipino word for ‘poem.’ Except that the language of his parents is not so natural for Santiago; while his father spoke Tagalog, the official language of the Philippines, and his mother spoke a different dialect, he speaks neither.

    “I didn’t acquire either language, so if I’m at an airport and overhear Tagalog, it reminds me of home, but I’m not able to parse the language. I don’t even know enough grammar to know when one word ends and another begins. So it’s comforting in one sense when I hear it, but it’s alienating, too.”

    The poems in “Tula” wrestle with that tension: of being both inside and outside the language and the culture of the Philippines. Santiago is very much a product of America, but he wants to tell the stories of his parents’ homeland. Several poems are about his uncles who fought against the Ferdinand Marcos regime. One was imprisoned, the other was killed by soldiers. His poem “The Silverest Tongue in the Philippines” reimagines their stories.

    I can hear my uncle muttering
    in the stillness of his cell.

    Bad-mouthing Aguinaldo. Reciting Marx and Mao.

    He has the sharpest tongue in the Philippines.

    It’s why His Excellency the President hates him
    & why his doomed brother
    worships him.

    “My uncles gave up so much. It was for a patriotism that I don’t have allegiance to since I was raised here. But I wanted to tell their story to keep their spirit alive.”

    READ MORE: If the walls of an immigrant detention center could speak

    Santiago says he is terrified by the language he hears today in the presidential race, especially when Donald Trump talks about rounding up certain immigrants because of their religious beliefs.

    “It’s so frustrating to think that language is still being used like this. I don’t know what poets can do. But I know my uncles spoke out and made their country stronger by telling their stories, so I feel like I need to speak up.”

    He’s particularly worried about the effect that rhetoric has on young people. He recalled that earlier this year his 8-year-old son came home from school, asking about Trump and wondering, “What will happen to us if he’s elected?”


    An immigrant’s son
    I have ears like the blind.

    Music comes easily;
    night frightens me.

    Home late from the hospital, she comes to my door–
    I fake sleep.

    She sings a soothing song
    in the language I never learned:

    prayers against rain.
    Catalog of mythic birds.

    As many names for music
    as English has for theft.

    Using them I invent
    a country with only two citizens.

    The word I choose for mother
    sounds like the one for dream.

    Chris Santiago is the author of poems, fiction and criticism. He holds degrees in creative writing and music from Oberlin College and received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern California. The recipient of fellowships from Kundiman and the Mellon Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies, Santiago is also a percussionist and amateur jazz pianist. He teaches literature, sound culture and creative writing at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

    The post How this son of immigrants reimagined his parents’ homeland appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Mist rises off the water as a flooded building is pictured after Hurricane Matthew passes in Lumberton, North Carolina. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    Mist rises off the water as a flooded building is pictured after Hurricane Matthew passes in Lumberton, North Carolina. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    The election is only 21 days away, meaning what was once a mirage — the end of the 2016 presidential campaign — has started to solidify into an honest-to-goodness denouement in the form of Nov. 8.

    The round-the-clock coverage of the election has exhausted Americans. In fact, most Americans were “worn out” by the coverage in July, according to a Pew survey then. Maybe it was because we endured the “Jeb Bush 2016?” pontificating at the end of the last election? Maybe it’s because we’re already reading the tea leaves for 2020?

    Or, maybe, it’s because mustachioed undecided voter Ken Bone, a chance salve from the last presidential debate, was built up and torn down in less than a week’s time. (I wonder how many will hesitate to sport a red sweater this Halloween, a holiday that allows political geeks a final chance to demonstrate they have been paying attention to this year’s election.)

    But before you “unplug the internet and just look at cat GIFs,” take a moment to catch up on these domestic and international stories that aren’t receiving the same amount of air time or column inches as this election.

    1. The battle to wrestle control of Mosul from ISIS begins

    [Watch Video]

    Kurdish fighters, supported by U.S. coalition forces, launched their operation to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, from the Islamic State. ISIS seized Mosul in 2014, and the terrorist group has since lost footholds elsewhere in Iraq and in Libya. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter called the Mosul campaign a “decisive moment” in the fight against ISIS.

    Why it’s important: There has been a noticeable dip in the amount of ISIS propaganda released recently, but “I wouldn’t be quick to declare a victory of any kind,” Rukmini Callimachi of The New York Times told the NewsHour last week.

    “This is a group that has shown itself to be very nimble. And despite their losses on the battlefield, we’re seeing that attacks in the West are continuing to proliferate,” she said.

    The mission to take back Mosul is also a test of the Obama administration’s theory that ISIS ought to be defeated locally without American troops on the ground, the Associated Press reported.

    2. As waters recede, the long-term consequences of Hurricane Matthew start to emerge

    Residents of a flooded neighborhood survey the extent of water infiltration from the swollen Tar River in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, in Greenville, North Carolina. Photo by Jonathan Drake/Reuters

    Residents of a flooded neighborhood survey the extent of water infiltration from the swollen Tar River in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, in Greenville, North Carolina. Photo by Jonathan Drake/Reuters

    More than a week after the hurricane made landfall on southeastern U.S., Matthew’s death toll continues to climb. Overall, the storm has been blamed for around 1,000 deaths in Haiti and more than 30 in the United States. Parts of North Carolina also remain underwater. Two more bodies were recovered over the weekend as waters receded, bringing the death toll in the state to 26, Reuters reported.

    Why it’s important: The deluge in North Carolina has many experts worried about Hurricane Matthew’s long-term effects, including possible environmental contamination from animal waste in the swine and poultry-heavy state, the Washington Post reported.

    “An incalculable amount of animal waste was carried toward the ocean,” the Post reported. “Along the way, it could be contaminating the groundwater for the many people who rely on wells in this part of the state, as well as threatening the delicate ecosystems of tidal estuaries and bays.”

    3. U.S. steps into Yemen’s civil war

    [Watch Video]

    The U.S. Navy is investigating a missile launch off the coast of Yemen on American warships patrolling the Red Sea over the weekend. This would be the third possible missile launch that has targeted U.S. ships in a week.

    Why it’s important: A U.S. Navy warship retaliated for the attacks by destroying Houthi rebel radar facilities. The retaliation was the U.S.’s first public foray into Yemen’s civil war, The New York Times reported.

    Barbara Bodine, former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, spoke with NewsHour Weekend about the U.S.’s role in the country’s ongoing civil war between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the internationally recognized government. BBC also has a breakdown of who’s fighting whom.

    4. The vast impact of the Boko Haram insurgency

    [Watch Video]

    Last week, Nigeria announced that Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist organization, released 21 of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls, but around 197 remain missing.

    In 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 270 girls from the Nigerian town of Chibok. Reportedly, the girls were subjected to abuse, forced marriage or sold as slaves. One escaped abductee said in May that some of the girls have died as well, the Associated Press reported.

    Why it’s important: Aid workers warn that a larger humanitarian crisis looms over Nigeria, and it has been underestimated by the United Nations and journalists: hunger. The millions of Nigerians displaced by Boko Haram are in danger of starving, the Post’s Kevin Sieff told the NewsHour.

    Sieff said news of the growing famine was largely unknown to aid workers and journalists because it’s extremely difficult to get access to these war-torn areas.

    “I think another reason is, there was just a total institutional failure both at the U.N. and within other international NGOs that really should have known how bad things were, but simply didn’t have the resources in Nigeria, didn’t have strong enough teams, weren’t trying hard enough to find out what the situation really looked like outside of the capital of the state,” he added.

    5. Bob Dylan won’t return the Nobel panel’s calls

    [Watch Video]

    American musician Bob Dylan — an extremely understated descriptor of the artist — was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature this year. While columnists were wringing their hands over whether Dylan deserved the honor or not, the troubadour has avoided the Swedish Academy’s calls, emails and, one would assume, carrier pigeons about whether he’ll attend the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony this December in Stockholm, The Guardian reported.

    Why it’s important: Who cares? Dylan doesn’t.

    The post 5 important stories that have nothing to do with Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The largest known blue topaz stone, owned by philanthropist Maurice Ostro, is displayed to media at the Natural History Museum in London, Britain September 27, 2016.  REUTERS/Peter Nicholls - RTSPNHP

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    NewsHour shares web small logoIn our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.

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

    The mineral topaz comes in a wide range of hues and saturations, and one British museum is about to unveil what it says is the biggest cut specimen of its color and clarity.

    The “NewsHour”‘s Julia Griffin took a closer look.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: At 9,381 glittering carats, the Ostro stone is being called the largest topaz of its kind. The electric blue, oval-cut stone is nearly six inches long, 4.5 inches wide, and weighs nearly 4.5 pounds.

    MAURICE OSTRO, Chairman, Ostro Minerals: Having tried to hold it for photography, I can tell you it is very heavy.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: British entrepreneur and philanthropist Maurice Ostro recently gave the gemstone to London’s Natural History Museum on a permanent loan.

    MAURICE OSTRO: What is amazing about this stone is not just its size. It’s its quality. The color, the intensity of the blue and the clarity of the stone are what makes it so exceptionally rare.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: Ostro’s father, Max, discovered the original rough topaz in the Amazon rain forest in 1986, but the cut stone has been locked away for three decades.

    After his father’s death, Maurice Ostro thought it was time for the public to enjoy the gemstone’s beauty. The museum’s mineral curator, Mike Rumsey, hopes the topaz will help spark interest in the wider collection.

    MIKE RUMSEY, Minerals Curator,  Natural History Museum: It will tell us another bit of the natural story. So you start off with that rough mineral, which is all kind of quite interesting, and I really like that as a scientist. And then we do things to it, and we will change it. We will cut it into something, and this is really a fantastic example of the way in which we have crafted something out of nature.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: The Ostro stone now joins other topaz record holders in their own color categories.

    The 21,000-carat light blue Brazilian Princess topaz lives at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, while the 31,000-carat reddish-orange El-Dorado topaz belongs to the Programa Royal Collections in Spain.

    The Ostro stone will go on display October 19. But jewel thieves, including Pink Panther prowlers, beware. The museum has pledged to boost security to protect the gemstone.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Julia Griffin.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Pretty stunning.

    The post This giant topaz is coming out of hiding appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: With the U.S. health care system undergoing its biggest changes in decades, health experts are looking to an unexpected place, sub-Saharan Africa, for inspiration.

    Throughout the continent, ordinary citizens are routinely trained as community health workers.

    As Sarah Varney reports on the lessons to learn, this story was produced in collaboration with our partner Kaiser Health News.

    SARAH VARNEY: Destini Belton is on a mission to improve health outcomes in Harlem. She’s not a doctor or a nurse, but she knows this neighborhood and the people who live here.

    Belton goes where clinics and hospitals can’t, into patients’ homes, to understand the mundane, but vital details of their lives.

    DESTINI BELTON, Community Health Worker: Hi. How are you? Oh, your hair looks nice now. How are you feeling?

    JESSICA GONZALEZ, Diabetes Sufferer: OK.

    SARAH VARNEY: She visits people like Jessica Gonzalez, who was blinded by uncontrolled type one diabetes at age 22.

    DESTINI BELTON: Let me take your blood pressure.

    SARAH VARNEY: Now 33, Gonzalez has high blood pressure, high cholesterol and renal disease, and Belton worries that she has trouble keeping her medications straight because she can’t see them.

    DESTINI BELTON: You take most of them during what time of the day?

    JESSICA GONZALEZ: During the day or after breakfast.

    DESTINI BELTON: During the day.

    SARAH VARNEY: Gonzalez is reluctant to admit her struggles to her doctor, but she trusts Belton to understand.

    JESSICA GONZALEZ: With your doctor, you don’t really want to say what you eat, so I’m able to tell her like, really, if I’m not going well, or, you know, if I sneaked and cheated. I tell her the right things, and she helps me.

    MANMEET KAUR, City Health Works: East Harlem in particular has the highest rate of diet-related diseases in New York.

    SARAH VARNEY: Manmeet Kaur has trained a small team of these community health workers in New York City.

    MANMEET KAUR: East Harlem in particular has the highest rate of diet-related diseases in New York.

    SARAH VARNEY: The organization, called City Health Works, contracts with primary care providers, like Mount Sinai Health System, to better manage their most difficult patients.

    WOMAN: Today, we’re going to be doing a workshop on healthy beverages.

    SARAH VARNEY: Nearly all of their clients are poor and facing chronic illnesses that frequently spiral out of control. They work to stabilize their health and avoid costly visits to the emergency room and lengthy hospital stays.

    Employing community health workers is a common strategy elsewhere in the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, community health workers have long formed the backbone of health systems, filling in gaps where doctors and nurses are in short supply.

    It was Thandi Blie in Cape Town, South Africa, in fact, who helped to inspire Kaur to start City Health Works.

    THANDI BLIE: Hi. Hello.

    WOMAN: How are you?

    THANDI BLIE: I’m fine. Thank you.

    And how are you, my dear?

    WOMAN: I’m good.

    THANDI BLIE: Long time no see.

    SARAH VARNEY: They met when Kaur worked with a group called Mamelani Projects, a nonprofit that relies on regular women like Blie to help neighbors improve their health habits.

    THANDI BLIE: I remember, last time, when we met, you had issues or problems about your high blood problem.

    SARAH VARNEY: Often by sharing their own experience.

    THANDI BLIE: Yes, because really high blood pressure is very dangerous. I know it from me.

    SARAH VARNEY: She often shares how her once high blood pressure led to a stroke.

    THANDI BLIE: I make the examples about what happens in me. Then, as soon as I share maybe a story, someone say, and me too.

    SARAH VARNEY: Long lines besiege clinics and hospitals in South Africa, where apartheid-era laws have left a legacy of widespread poverty and desperate health conditions.

    Mamelani’s health coaches say that, just as in New York City, those realities are often best confronted outside the walls of medical clinics by bringing health education to areas that need it most. The women who’ve attended these classes are making lasting changes to their own health and in the wider community.

    Mickey Linda used her own pension to start a soup kitchen after hearing that neighbors were taking powerful drugs to treat HIV on empty stomachs. With nutrition training from Mamelani, she now cooks up healthier meals for hundreds of neighbors and serves as a vital local health resource, keeping watch over her community.

    MICKEY LINDA: Because doctors are not staying here. Doctors are staying in town. It’s us who see that we can talk about health to them, because we are staying together here. It’s us who see them, that this is this problem this problem.

    SARAH VARNEY: Those close social ties undergird much of life in South Africa, says Mamelani’s founder, Carly Tanur.

    She and her team are working closely with Manmeet Kaur back in Harlem to figure out how Mamelani’s model could be incorporated more broadly into the U.S. health care system.

    But here in Harlem, the question is, how can this model fit into a sprawling hospital system like Mount Sinai, especially at a time when health care leaders are searching for ways to control the cost of caring for chronically ill patients?

    With Medicare now penalizing providers for some preventable conditions, there are stronger financial incentives to steady the turbulent lives of people like Jeanette Rodriguez.

    JEANETTE RODRIGUEZ: I was in emergency last two Fridays ago because I fell in the street.

    SARAH VARNEY: Destini Belton is her go-to problem-solver, filling out paperwork for benefits, helping her find a caregiver program for her father. But she’s also a liaison for Rodriguez’s own medical needs.

    DESTINI BELTON: So, the main things we’re going to ask when we get up there to the doctor is about your back.

    SARAH VARNEY: At a nearby Mount Sinai clinic, that preparation has paid off.

    Dr. Joseph Truglio tells Rodriguez she may have had a mild stroke.

    DR. JOSEPH M. TRUGLIO: I know that’s got to be pretty hard to hear that that might have been something that happened.

    SARAH VARNEY: Rodriguez had dismissed the tingling on her right side as arthritis, but Belton’s insistence and long relationship with her ensured Dr. Truglio would hear about it.

    Plugging into their patients’ electronic health records, Kaur wants to make coaches an indispensable part of the health care system by professionalizing their role and proving their financial value.

    MANMEET KAUR: We work with clinics to determine, how do we integrate our team into their operations? And that we know has resulted in patients feeling very confident in the services we provide, but also the doctors feeling really confident that they know more of what’s going on with their patients.

    SARAH VARNEY: But Kaur goes home each night to one of her biggest skeptics. Her husband, Dr. Prabhjot Singh, is helping Mount Sinai figure out whether there’s enough evidence that efforts like City Health Works should be integrated more fully into Mount Sinai’s business.

    DR. PRABHJOT SINGH, Mount Sinai Health System: I think the thought that comes up a lot of my colleagues, and frankly my own, is, how do you do this for 40,000 people, 50,000 people at the scale of the Mount Sinai Health System?

    SARAH VARNEY: Singh heads the Department of Health System Design and Global Health at Mount Sinai.

    DR. PRABHJOT SINGH: We actually have to know whether or not the relationship between Destini and her client is effective. It may feel really good, but, from a health system perspective, and also just looking at health improvement, we have to really understand, is she getting healthier and are we doing it in a cost-effective way?

    SARAH VARNEY: There are early signs the program is working. Patients with health coaches cost $600 a month less in medical care than a control group, a strong indication that coaches are preventing expensive medical emergencies. And for half the patients, coaches alerted doctors about urgent needs that they weren’t aware of.

    While the program has worked well for people like Jessica Gonzalez and Jeanette Rodriguez, City Health Works remains a small venture, supported largely by foundations interested in testing the model. But the ultimate aim is to have public and private insurers around the country pay for thousands of coaches like Destini Belton, creating stronger ties between neighbors, like in sub-Saharan Africa, to help poor communities take control of their own health.

    For the “PBS NewsHour” and Kaiser Health News, I’m Sarah Varney.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can learn about a community health initiative taking place in New York that aims to protect residents from unsafe summer temperatures.

    That’s on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.

    The post Can ordinary citizens help fill gaps in U.S. health care? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: As Europe continues to struggle with the refugee crisis, Denmark’s government is claiming success in reducing the number of people claiming asylum there, and says other countries want to copy its methods.

    Despite that success, the Danish electorate is moving to the right. After complaints, people have filed charges of racism against an extreme right-wing party which has been handing out what it calls asylum sprays.

    From Thisted in Northwest Denmark, Malcolm Brabant reports.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: In a small town 250 miles from cosmopolitan Copenhagen, the new Party of the Danes is distributing what it calls asylum spray, ostensibly as a defense against potential immigrant sex attackers.

    The campaign has been condemned as provocative and xenophobic. Nonetheless, the spray finds several takers.

    WOMAN (through translator): It’s my daughter that needs it, the way Danish society is at the moment.

    CAMILLE FEMHOEJ (through translator): They can’t just come here and do whatever they want, like staring at girls in nightclubs and stuff. They shouldn’t be allowed do that.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The spray was conceived by party leader Daniel Carlsen, who admits denying the Holocaust as a teenager, and is now trying to win support to run for Parliament.

    IB NIELSEN: I think we have too many people in Denmark from Arab countries. I don’t like it. I don’t like Muslims.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: This region of Denmark is fertile ground for the right. And even though the cans only contain hair spray, the symbolism touches a chord.

    PERNILLE TOPHUS (through translator): You never know what can happen. Just a month ago, I was followed home on my bike.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees think what you’re doing is disgusting. What’s your response?

    DANIEL CARLSEN, Leader, Party of the Danes: They are working for and promoting an invasion to Europe, an invasion that, by time, will replace the indigenous Europeans here with people from the non-Western world.

    I think that is disgusting. And what their politics are resulting in, we see that in Europe every day now. We see rapes, like the incidents in Cologne. We have seen terror attacks in Brussels, in Paris, in Copenhagen, and that’s only the last year.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: In an increasingly hostile atmosphere, Syrian musician Nour Amora has found acceptance. We met Amora just over a year ago, as the Danish government slashed welfare benefits for refugees in an attempt to make the country less attractive to asylum seekers.

    NOUR AMORA: I make this concert to know the people, to know the artists, the musicians, to make something with them, to work, yes. I don’t come to Denmark to sleep.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Amora has been true to his word. He supports himself and his small family with two jobs. And on this day, he was entertaining schoolchildren and educating them about the war in Syria. Music has opened doors that are closed to other refugees.

    NOUR AMORA (through translator): I tell my friends that now it is not good to come to Denmark because of the government, but if you do come, you will find that the Danish people are really nice.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Singer Leila Rong Hanna was born in Denmark. She has Syrian and Norwegian heritage, but has dissuaded relatives in Damascus and the Syrian port of Latakia from fleeing to Europe.

    LEILA RONG HANNA, Singer: Because this is not the perfect life you get. It’s quite difficult, not only the journey, if you survive in the journey, but also when you come here. It’s quite uphill.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: That’s music to the ears of many at the Danish Parliament, because it’s a sign that the country’s policies are working. One of the most satisfied is Martin Henriksen of the anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party, whose support keeps the center-right government in power.

    MARTIN HENRIKSEN, Danish People’s Party: Well, last year, about 20,000 asylum seekers come to Denmark. And this year, we expected 10,000. This year, we are about around 5,000 at this time. But 5,000 is still too high. We want to — actually, in the perfect world, we want to reduce the numbers, so that nobody will come to Denmark as an asylum seeker. So we’re not quite there yet.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But Peter Christensen’s recently constituted New Right Party claims it’s even tougher on immigration. It’s attracted significant support in recent surveys after pledging to stop immigration altogether, instantly deport foreigners convicted of crimes, take Denmark out of the U.N. Refugee Convention and ban head scarves in schools and public offices.

    Critics fear this swing to the right is reminiscent of 1930s Europe.

    PETER CHRISTENSEN, New Right Party: I can’t see how that should compare to the situation in the ’30s, with the discrimination of the Jews, aggressive nations attacking each other in the ’40s, the Holocaust. There’s no comparison whatsoever.

    What we’re talking about is, we want to implement a foreign policy that has been normal until 40, 50 years ago. It’s not — nobody has the right to come to Denmark. They have right now because we are in the conventions. But, I mean, morally, nobody has the right to come to Denmark. It’s not like we are expelling any people. We’re just saying we want to have control of who comes into our country.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Denmark’s deterrence of asylum seekers has enabled it to it close 17 refugee centers, including this one in a former psychiatric hospital. The policies worry not only people fleeing violence in the Middle East.

    Chen Man is concerned about the time it’s taking to process her asylum application. She spent seven years in jail in China for belonging to Falun Gong, the outlawed spiritual movement.

    CHEN MAN, Chinese Asylum Seeker: I feel, like, worried, because I feel, like, unstable for my security. I need a kind of protection from the nation. But if I cannot have, the risk of myself is going back to China and facing the imprisonment again.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Chen Man believes Denmark’s hostility towards asylum seekers is a sign of weakness.

    CHEN MAN: Yes, this is not the way to resolve the problem. And it’s also a kind of way to show the fear inside, because if you are strong enough, you can handle that without building up a wall, but a bridge.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: So what’s the source of Denmark’s right turn? Is it from the population or political ideology?

    Nils Holtug is the director of migration studies at Copenhagen University.

    NILS HOLTUG, University of Copenhagen: I think, to some extent, politicians have probably been responding to what are real worries amongst Danes. But they have also been driving those worries, so — especially the Danish People’s Party, but also some of the new parties that are coming up now.

    I think the Dane Party is very worrying. And it was established by former members of a Nazi movement in Denmark. So I’m actually quite worried about that.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Are you a Nazi?


    MALCOLM BRABANT: But you were a National Socialist before?

    DANIEL CARLSEN: I’m a National Democrat.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But you were a National Socialist before.


    MALCOLM BRABANT: So, are you saying you’re a reformed National Socialist?

    DANIEL CARLSEN: No, I’m a National Democrat.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But you were a National Socialist — and that was the Nazi Party — before.

    What’s happening in Denmark is consistent with a surge to the right across Europe.

    One of the more controversial pieces of legislation enacted here was the so-called jewelry law, which authorized the authorities to confiscate the assets of those migrants and refugees deemed wealthy enough to be able to pay for themselves, rather than relying on the state.

    Now, that law came into effect in February, and it’s only been used three times. Now, the Danish government may have attracted lots of international criticism for its methods, but ministers say that there are other European countries that are seeking their advice about how to reduce their numbers.

    With Syria still spinning out of control and Europe’s migration crisis showing no sign of abating, does Denmark feel the need to toughen its stance still further, a question for the government’s migration spokesman, Marcus Knuth.

    MARCUS KNUTH, Liberal Party: Part of the reason why we have such a low influx of asylum seekers right now is also because of the E.U. deal with Turkey. If that deal breaks, if there’s more trouble in the Middle East and so forth, everything can change.

    So, right now, we’re happy that the situation seems to be under control. But there are so many factors out there that things can change.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: A strong police presence forces refugee supporters to keep their distance from a monthly anti-Muslim demonstration. They demand asylum for all, while the right-wingers deplore the growth of Islam. The migration crisis is polarizing European society.

    Although the numbers prepared to demonstrate on the streets aren’t great, opinion polls show sentiments expressed at gatherings like this are gaining traction, not just in Denmark, but across the continent.

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

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And staying on politics, we are joined now, as we are every Monday, by Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR.

    Hello to both of you.

    TAMARA KEITH: Hello.

    AMY WALTER: Hello, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we just heard from these two gentlemen how hard, if not impossible, Amy, it is to rig an election.

    AMY WALTER: Yes, it is.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Why then is Donald Trump continuing to talk about it?

    AMY WALTER: It’s pretty simple.

    It’s about trying to suppress voters from turning out, and specifically people who would support Hillary Clinton, from turning out and voting. If you’re talking about going into certain neighborhoods and literally standing there to watch people vote, that says make sure that those people don’t come out and vote.

    Now, the danger of making saying that the election overall is rigged, vs. they’re trying to steal it, is, if you say it’s rigged, then you’re also saying to your own voters, well, why bother even going, because it’s probably going to turn out badly anyway?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what does that mean, Tamara?

    TAMARA KEITH: Well, and he really has shifted into more broadly not just talking about something could be happening in some neighborhoods. Now he’s saying the whole thing is rigged, that the media is rigging it, that there is something bigger going on.

    And it does raise the question, how are his voters going to respond to that? And that is not clear. So, yes, we’re in uncharted territory.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But it’s something that he continues to write about, to tweet about.

    All right, I want to turn you, Tam, to the Clinton campaign today dealing with more e-mails, this time, as we heard in Lisa’s report a little while ago, accusations there was this discussion between the State Department and the FBI about whether to lower the classification of one e-mail among those that were sent to Hillary Clinton.

    What are we to make of this? And then there was discussion of a quid pro quo because, in that same conversation, they were taking about the FBI getting more employees overseas.

    TAMARA KEITH: Right.

    And this comes from FBI investigative notes that were released today. And it’s one of those things where both the FBI and the State Department say there is no quid pro quo, there was no quid and there was no quo, that what the State Department wanted, they didn’t get, what the FBI wanted, they didn’t get, and that, in fact, it was the FBI — somebody at the FBI, name redacted, who asked an official at the State Department about something.

    So, it wasn’t the State Department that was initiating the apparently nonexistent quid pro quo.

    But here’s what really matters, is that Donald Trump is now out with a video where he’s talking straight to camera saying Hillary Clinton did this thing that’s shady.

    Now, the Clinton campaign says they didn’t know anything about it, but what it is, is another day where there are headlines that say Hillary Clinton, e-mail, FBI.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Amy, we’re two days, two nights away from third and final debate. How damaging is it for her?

    AMY WALTER: Well, her name is not involved in this at all, so that’s one helpful piece if you’re Hillary Clinton.

    But it does — to Tam’s point, it’s not just that it’s the FBI and e-mail and Hillary Clinton in the headline. It’s also the sense that the whole entire process was a political process, where the State Department was looking out specifically for Hillary Clinton, trying to protect her and her e-mails from getting FBI scrutiny.

    This question, as well as some of the other questions that were raised in some of her speeches, may be part of the debate, where she’s going to be asked specifically to answer some of the stuff she said in private, but hasn’t said in public.

    I thought her answer at the her answer at the last debate, this was sort of Lincolnesque, I sort of imagine myself being Abraham Lincoln, fell really, really flat. If that’s her answer to more pointed questions, which I think she will get from Chris Wallace, the FOX News reporter who’s going to be the moderator, that’s not going to work really well.

    TAMARA KEITH: So, the hilarious thing about that Lincoln remark that fell kind of flat in the debate is, that’s exactly what the speech transcript said, that she was actually talking about the “Lincoln” movie.

    AMY WALTER: That’s right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It was in the speech.

    TAMARA KEITH: That some — that a Brazilian bank paid her a lot of money to give a speech where she talked about the movie “Lincoln.”

    AMY WALTER: The movie “Lincoln,” right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is her camp — is she prepared, Tam, based on your reporting, to talk about this some more, to give more of an explanation about what’s going on?

    TAMARA KEITH: She is certainly preparing. That’s for sure, because she’s been off the trail for several days. She’s not going to be on the trail today, tomorrow. And then there is the debate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s go back to Donald Trump.

    Today, we know, by now, there have been, Amy, nearly a dozen women who have come forward and said that Donald Trump was either groping or in some way sexually aggressive toward them.

    Today, what’s different is that his wife, Melania, has done an interview with CNN. And we’re going to show you — she was asked by Anderson Cooper about that “Access Hollywood” tape in which we heard him talking. Hear’s what Melania Trump had to say.

    MELANIA TRUMP, Wife of Donald Trump: I said to my husband that, you know, the language is inappropriate, it’s not acceptable, and I was surprised, because that is not the man that I know.

    And, as you can see from the tape, the cameras were not on. It was only a mike. And I wonder if they even knew that the mike was on, because it was kind of boy talk, and he was led on, like egged on from the host to say dirty and bad stuff.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Amy, this is 10 days after that tape came out. It’s after we have seen Donald Trump losing support among women voters. Does this make…

    AMY WALTER: And now — right, they put his wife out…


    AMY WALTER: … which she can help to sort of soften the edge on this.

    But her answer and her — the way she is defending her husband is not much different from what he’s saying, which is basically, this was locker room talk.

    But when you look at the polling that has been taking place since this locker room talk came out, you’re right. He lost support in the polls. He’s losing support among women. We’re now hearing about — when we’re looking at the polls, we’re talking now about a historic gender gap.

    We may not have seen a gender gap like this in — certainly in the last 30 or 40, 50 — actually, I think it goes back 50 years. And then the Washington Post poll that came out this weekend, when asked do you think that this issue that was raised in the tape, his treatment of women, is important, is it a legitimate issue, 55 percent of voters said this is a legitimate issue.

    So, writing it off to boys talking, locker room talk in the wake, not just of the audio, but the women who came forward, I don’t think it’s going to do much good.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Tam, the Clinton camp seems to be — they’re out now talking about how their chances have improved, expanding the battleground now.

    TAMARA KEITH: They’re expanding the map.

    Bernie Sanders will be campaigning in Arizona, Arizona, tomorrow. They are running a week of ads in Texas, very, very red Texas. In Arizona, they’re going to spend about $2 million. It’s basically a tossup now and they think it’s a possible pickup. And there’s the added benefit of making your opponent have to compete in a state where he shouldn’t have to compete.

    He should be focused on the battlegrounds that he really needs to win and where he is struggling, and now they are expanding the map.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quickly.

    AMY WALTER: And I think that what she really wants to do is run up the score to show that there is a mandate here.

    The problem for that is, she may get a lot of votes, a lot of electoral votes, more than Barack Obama got, but she’s still going to come into office with an overall disapproval rating that’s higher than anybody in recent times has come into the presidency.

    So, you want more votes, but it’s not necessarily going to change the way that people see her, not more positively, at least.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you both, Politics Monday.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we want you to tune in this coming Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern for our special live coverage of that final presidential debate.

    And, in the meantime, you can watch all the presidential and vice presidential debates dating back to 1960. That’s at our new Web site, watchthedebates.org.

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    Cassaiya Oligario (C) waits as her mother Cassandra and older sister Eleahna vote in the U.S. presidential election at a displaced polling center in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, New York, U.S. on November 6, 2012.   REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo - RTSIEX3

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back to this country now.

    As we heard earlier, Donald Trump continues to claim that the presidential election process is rigged against him. That claim seems to be resonating with some voters. Just one-third of Republicans say they have a great deal of confidence that their votes will be counted fairly this election. That’s according to a recent Associated Press poll.

    For more on all this, we are joined by Richard Hasen. He’s professor of law at the University of California, Irvine. He’s author of the Election Law Blog. And Al Cardenas is a Republican strategist. He served as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida during the presidential recount in 2000.

    And we welcome both of you to the “NewsHour.”

    Al Cardenas, to you first.

    Donald Trump is stepping up these warnings. He tweeted just a short time ago — and I’m quoting — he said: “Of course there’s large-scale voter fraud happening on and before Election Day.” He asked, he said, “Why do Republican leaders deny what’s going on? It’s so naive.”

    Is there large-scale voter fraud happening in this country?

    AL CARDENAS, Republican Strategist: Oh, my, there isn’t, hasn’t been. And our country has been spending 200-plus years to get it just right.

    The checks and balances in the electoral process is amazing. I know our guest will know more about it than I do. But we have state elected — state officials elected or appointed who are in charge of the overall state process. And every local government, counties or municipalities, have supervisor elections who are elected or appointed.

    And then you have local canvassing boards made up oftentimes of judges. And they’re part of this whole processes. Everyone who works in these voting precincts get trained, gets warned about violating the laws, gets warned about the criminal implications of violating the law.

    We have a whole process in America. And in 200-some years, we have never, ever had a national election that’s been impacted by fraud, not even close. Even in Florida, where I served as chairman in the famous recount, it — was that an issue.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Richard Hasen, what is your take on this? What is the likelihood that this process could be rigged, as Donald Trump charges?

    RICK HASEN, University of California, Irvine: If you’re talking about rigging the way that Donald Trump is talking about rigging, I would say the chances are basically none. It’s impossible.

    He’s talking about people going into the polling place and voting five or 10 or 15 times. He said this would happen in certain areas of Pennsylvania. It seems to be, from what his surrogate Rudy Giuliani said, in minority areas, that Democrats are going to steal the votes by impersonating other people.

    That’s just now how — in the rare times when voter fraud occur, that’s just not how elections are stolen in this country, and not on the kind of scale that could affect a presidential election, which would the cooperation of tens of thousands of people to try to commit voter fraud under the noses of election officials and party officials who are watching the whole process.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Richard Hasen, you say — I hear you saying it’s possible to do this on a small scale. Is that right?

    RICHARD HASEN: Well, the kind of fraud that we do occasionally see in this country is absentee ballot fraud.

    That occurs because voting takes place outside the presence of election officials. Usually, it involves buying votes or stealing ballots out of people’s mailboxes, and then voting them in a particular way.

    But we haven’t seen that on the kind of scale that could affect a presidential election. And that’s not the kind of fraud Donald Trump has been talking about. He was talking about the lack of voter I.D., strict voter I.D. law in Pennsylvania and that would allow someone to go into the polling place, and he literally said, vote five or 10 or 15 times.

    That just doesn’t happen. For a study I did, I looked from the 1980s on to find a single election anywhere in the United States where it could have been called into question because of that kind of fraud, and I can’t find a single instance anywhere in the country.

    That kind of fraud would be a stupid way to steal the election, and it just doesn’t happen.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Al Cardenas, what makes you so confident that this couldn’t happen?

    AL CARDENAS: Well, I lived it in 2000. I was party chairman in Florida. We had over 250 lawyers involved and volunteering in the state.

    We had over 40 lawsuits. We had election supervisors. We had judges in every single county recounting every vote, tabulating, retabulating the votes, determining whether votes were fairly cast or not. There were challenges being made by lawyers from both parties as to votes that had not been accepted.

    The whole process took 37 days, thousands of people, thousands of hours. And not once, not once did we find intent to defraud the process electorally. The press spent millions of dollars after that and went through its own process.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, they did.

    AL CARDENAS: And we didn’t find fraud in the process.

    Let me tell you, Judy, what really bothers me here is that America is a beacon of light for people all throughout the world who want their democracies to work our way. We are the idols of most countries. We are asked to oversee elections in other countries.

    We in this country know that transparency works. We appreciate and frankly adore the right to have the free, peaceful transfer of power from the president to at the eventual winner. We in America have always celebrated the way we have elections.

    To tarnish it with unproven facts, tarnish it with accusations, to me, it is just a shame. It shouldn’t be done.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Richard Hasen, we also hear Donald Trump saying to his supporters from time to time, you need to go out and you need to watch people voting to make sure everything is being done on the up and up, words to that effect.

    How would that work, for people to take it upon themselves to watch the voting process?

    RICHARD HASEN: Well, you know, there are ways to watch the voting process. There are ways to be election observers.

    And, in most places, you have Democrats and Republicans and nonpartisan groups like the League of Women Voters watching the vote count. And those people are trained. And they know what to do. And they know not to interfere with voters.

    I’m very concerned that it looks like Trump is telling people to take matters into their own hands. He said, after you vote in your own place, go to those other areas and see what’s going on there.

    I’m worried especially in states where there is an open-carry law and people could be taking firearms to the polling place. We need to have an election where people are not intimidated, where they feel free to go into the polling place and vote their conscience.

    And I think what he is doing is dangerous. It’s dangerous both on after Election Day and after Election Day, where, if he claims the vote count was rigged, who knows if people might take into their own hands to be violent?

    I mean, we really — we take our peaceful transitions for granted. And I think we can’t this time around.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just quickly, Al Cardenas, how would that work? I mean, if voters in your home state of Florida decided they were going to watch other polling places, what would that mean for the election?

    AL CARDENAS: Well, we have a ballot integrity initiative every election cycle, where lawyers and others volunteer. They man these phones.

    If there is a voter that feels they have been intimidated, harassed or worse, they can call a number. These lawyers are activated. They go to local elected officials, and the matter is immediately investigated.

    I can tell you, election after election — I have been chairman of the party for a long time — these instances are rare. Now, if somebody is going to be enticed to go and intimidate voters, well, that’s a whole different story, as Richard just mentioned. That cannot be tolerated, and law enforcement needs to step in.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we’re going to be continuing, of course, to follow this between now and Election Day three weeks from tomorrow.

    Al Cardenas, Richard Hasen, we thank you both.

    RICHARD HASEN: Thank you.

    AL CARDENAS: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Online, read how the Clinton campaign is ramping up spending in a swing state media blitz. You can find that on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.

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    Peshmerga forces advance in the east of Mosul to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, October 17, 2016. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari - RTX2P7TV

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: Mosul and the start of operations to retake Iraq’s second largest city from the Islamic State group.

    Jeffrey Brown will speak with a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq in a moment, but, first, chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports on today’s events.

    MARGARET WARNER: Gunfire sounded all day, across the outskirts of Mosul. Columns of smoke billowed from artillery fire and U.S. coalition airstrikes and from oil ignited by ISIS fighters to blind attacking planes.

    Long anti-ISIS convoys advanced, and, by late in the day, the overall Iraqi commander issued a confident assessment.

    LT. GEN. TALIB SHAGHATI, Iraqi Army (through translator): The operations are going very well and according to plan. Sometimes, we are ahead of the plan because of the high morale and the fighters’ strong will to fight the Islamic State group and liberate Mosul, which has been under ISIS rule for the past two years.

    MARGARET WARNER: For the Iraqi army, the campaign for Mosul is by far its largest operation yet against the Islamic State. U.S. intelligence estimates that up to 4,500 ISIS fighters are in the city. Other estimates run to 8,000.

    LT. GEN. STEPHEN TOWNSEND, U.S. Army: This may prove to be a long and tough battle, but the Iraqis have prepared for it, and we will stand by them.

    MARGARET WARNER: Complicating matters, balancing the various factions taking part in the fight. Kurdish forces began today by seizing several towns on the eastern fringes of Mosul. They will be part of a five-pronged assault, including Iraqi army brigades, plus Sunni tribal fighters and police. The ultimate drive into Mosul will likely be made by Iraqi special forces.

    Providing air cover and assisting on the ground is the American military, including special operations troops. Shiite militias backed by Iran are also taking part, but they have been accused of atrocities against Sunnis in other cities and may be kept out of Mosul proper.

    Meanwhile, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, complained of being left out of the Mosul offensive.

    PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkey (through translator): Look now. The operation in Mosul has started. The operation continues. And what do they say? Turkey shouldn’t enter Mosul. How can I do that? I share 350 kilometers of border with Iraq, and I am under threat on that border.

    MARGARET WARNER: Erdogan said again he will keep some 3,000 Turkish-trained fighters in northernmost Iraq, despite objections from Baghdad. As the fighting starts in earnest, concerns are also rising over the more than one million civilians still in the city. The U.N. and other organizations say they’re preparing for up to 200,000 refugees.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Margaret Warner.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And now perspectives of James Jeffrey, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2010 to 2012, and currently fellow at the Washington Institute, a think tank and policy analysis group.

    Welcome to you.

    JAMES JEFFREY, Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq: Thank you, Jeffrey.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Remind us first why this city and its capture is so important.

    JAMES JEFFREY: As we just heard, it’s the last citadel of ISIL in Iraq. It’s the second largest city in the country.

    It’s the center of the Sunni Arab third of Iraq, if you will, its culture in that country. And if it falls, then ISIS is pushed back to its headquarters deep in Syria, in Raqqa, and that could spell the end of ISIS. So, that’s a very, very important development.

    JEFFREY BROWN: When ISIS originally took Mosul and other cities, the Iraqi army at that point was collapsing. There is a sense now that it’s strong enough to do this. How difficult will it be? How long do you think it might take?

    JAMES JEFFREY: As we saw in the news clip from Margaret Warner, it’s a very eclectic force, but it numbers some 50,000 or 60,000 people on the ground, with a tremendous amount of American and other Western artillery and airpower supporting these people, including, for the first time, advisory units right up in the front lines.

    This will take weeks, like the Fallujah battle in 2004 also against ISIS’s predecessor, al-Qaida in Iraq. But, in the end, I think there is only going to be one outcome, and that will be defeat of ISIS.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There have also been reports inside the city of underground resistance. When ISIS first went into Mosul, they were welcomed by many in the city. What happened in the interim?

    JAMES JEFFREY: Al-Qaida has always had a presence before it became ISIS in Mosul. It was a problem when I was there in 2010 to 2012.

    But there’s no doubt that part of the population welcomed ISIS when it came in, because it felt was being oppressed by the Shia majority and the troops sent up by the Shia — largely Shia government. But that changed over time. As in every other city we have seen that have been liberated, the people, regardless of their ethnic and religious background, welcome the people who come in. They can’t stand living under ISIS.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That problem, though, of the initial welcoming brings us what might happen in the aftermath, right, of retaking Mosul.

    JAMES JEFFREY: Exactly.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Because it raises many other questions.

    JAMES JEFFREY: Well, the first one is the humanitarian, refugee, and food and relief supplies.

    That is under the control of the U.N., the Iraqi government and the Kurdish regional government, in coordination with the Iraqi government, all being watched closely by the United States. That will be messy. It always is. But these people, if there’s one thing, they have had experience with some eight million refugees in that region in the last two years. They will, in the end, be able to do it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But there are fears, though, about the humanitarian crisis, right?

    JAMES JEFFREY: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

    And I think, as I said, we will get plenty of stories about people in inadequate tents, inadequate sewage and such. But, in the end, I think that enough food, supplies will come through.

    The bigger question is, who will secure this place, who will govern it, and what’s going to happen to Iraq after the ISIS threat is gone?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Even including who marches into the city in the first place, right, as Margaret was talking about, whether it’s Iraqi forces or militia forces.

    JAMES JEFFREY: Exactly.

    And I think the deal right now is that the Iraqi forces, spearheaded by the counterterrorism force, which is very, very good, and will have a lot of American advisers with them and supporting them, will go in and do the heavy fighting inside the city.

    Then Sunni police who have been trained from the region itself will come in to secure the city. The trick will be to keep the Peshmerga forces, the Kurdish forces, away from the center of the city, but they have basically agreed to stop, as I understand it.

    We don’t know if the popular mobilization forces, these largely Shia militias, some of whom are under the thumb of Iran, will adhere to this deal, or whether they will try to push in, as they have before.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, that’s what I’m wondering. How confident are you or are we? Because this is not the first time that Mosul has been recaptured, right? So, how confident can we be that, this time, the forces taking it will get it right?

    JAMES JEFFREY: Well, some of these Shia militias, Ahl al-Haq, the Mahdi Army, tried to kill me and my people for years in Iraq, so I’m not too confident on anything they promise, to be honest.


    JAMES JEFFREY: But I will say, they’re not the majority. The Iraqi government and most Iraqis understand that they have to bring back the Sunni Arab 20, 25 percent of the population. It won’t work with these Shia militias running amok in these areas.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, briefly, ISIS itself, if it gets kicked out of Mosul, what then?

    JAMES JEFFREY: It will fall back on its capital, Raqqa in Eastern Syria, but it’s a dusty little town compared to Mosul.

    And it’s being pressed by Kurdish and Syrian opposition forces right now from the north, as well as American and American-supported forces. So I think that the end will be near for ISIS. And then we will face all of the other problems in the Middle East that ISIS has covered up over the last two years.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Ambassador James Jeffrey, thank you very much.

    JAMES JEFFREY: Thank you.

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    An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier gestures as they arrive in Nad Ali district of Helmand province, southern Afghanistan August 10, 2016. REUTERS/ Abdul Malik - RTSMD3R

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The battle for the Iraqi city of Mosul is on. Iraqi forces and their allies opened an offensive today to wrest the city from Islamic State forces.

    The operation is being backed by American airstrikes and U.S. ground troops in support roles. By this evening, both Iraqi and U.S. military officials said the assault is ahead of schedule. We will have a full report right after the news summary.

    Government forces in Afghanistan are reporting progress against Taliban fighters around a key city in the south. They say they have pushed back insurgents outside Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, with the help of U.S. airstrikes. One Afghan commander estimated that hundreds of Taliban fighters were killed in the last 24 hours alone.

    In the U.S. presidential campaign, Republican Donald Trump hammered away again today at his claim that the election is being rigged against him. And the ongoing furor over Hillary Clinton’s e-mails took a new turn.

    Lisa Desjardins has our report.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Hillary Clinton was off the campaign trail today, but her words from the past were back in the news.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee I didn’t e-mail any classified material to anyone on my e-mail.

    LISA DESJARDINS: That was March of last year. Clinton also said she never received classified e-mail. But notes from the FBI’s investigation out today indicate that, last year, a senior State Department official asked to declassify one e-mail that went to Clinton’s private server.

    Separately, the official also offered to let the FBI put more agents overseas. The FBI refused to reclassify the e-mail, but cited someone in its records division as saying that that person believed the State Department had an agenda, which involves minimizing the classified nature of the Clinton e-mails in order to protect State interests and those of Clinton.

    The State Department said today it was simply trying to understand the classification.

    MARK TONER, State Department Spokesman: So the allegation of any kind of quid pro quo is inaccurate and doesn’t align with the facts.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Late today, the FBI also said there was no quid pro quo involved.


    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: This is a rigged system, folks.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Donald Trump’s repeated words this weekend questioning the integrity of the election reached a new level on Twitter this morning. He wrote: “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on?”

    On Sunday, Trump’s V.P. nominee, Mike Pence, seemed to be on a different page.

    CHUCK TODD: Will you accept the results of the election?

    GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), Vice Presidential Nominee: We will absolutely accept the results of the election.

    LISA DESJARDINS: But today near Cincinnati, Pence was pushing the idea of election problems.

    GOV. MIKE PENCE: Voter fraud cannot be tolerated by anyone in this nation, because it disenfranchises Republicans, independents, Democrats, conservatives and liberals in America.

    LISA DESJARDINS: In Washington, the Democratic V.P. nominee, Tim Kaine, seized on the Trump criticism, while making a stop at his current workplace, Capitol Hill.

    SEN. TIM KAINE (D), Vice Presidential Nominee: When you criticize the system, who are you criticizing? You’re criticizing American voters, and you’re criticizing local elected officials in cities and counties and states who have been running elections, you know, for decades and decades and decades. The criticism is completely unjustified, and it’s a guy who’s whining because he’s a big bully who’s getting beaten, and now he’s starting to whine.

    LISA DESJARDINS: And amid the increasing tension, investigators are looking into pre-election violence. Over the weekend, someone threw a firebomb through the window of a local Republican office in North Carolina. No one was hurt. Officials from both parties have disavowed the attack.

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

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We will look more closely at Donald Trump’s warning about a rigged contest and its implications after the news summary.

    In Syria, the ravaged city of Aleppo may get a brief respite this week from Russian airstrikes and Syrian ground assaults. Russia’s military announced today a humanitarian pause for eight hours on Thursday. But the U.S. State Department dismissed the idea as too little, too late.

    Meanwhile, Russian and Syrian airstrikes continued today, killing dozens. The attacks came as European Union leaders met in Luxembourg and condemned Russia’s air campaign.

    FEDERICA MOGHERINI, Foreign Policy Chief, European Union: Priority number one now is to save Aleppo, to save the people of Aleppo. And that is why our strong call is on Russia and on the Syrian regime to stop the bombing on Aleppo and to continue talks with the U.S. and other key players on the ground to avoid the catastrophe, first of all, the humanitarian catastrophe in the city.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The E.U. foreign ministers stopped short of agreeing to impose sanctions against Moscow.

    Hard-liners in Iran released video today of an Iranian-American businessman who’s been held there for a year. Siamak Namazi was arrested in 2015 just days after the Iran nuclear deal was adopted. There’s no word on the charges against him. Namazi’s father was arrested later, after going to Iran to try to win his son’s release.

    Back in this country, Vice President Joe Biden hoped that the cancer moonshot initiative he leads is going to double the pace of research. Meeting with President Obama, the vice president talked up efforts to speed the development of diagnostics and new drugs.

    VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: There is a need for a greater sense of urgency, because there is — there are available answers now to some cancers, and there is enormous opportunity in sharing data.

    I am confident, absolutely confident that we will be able to accomplish in the next five years what otherwise would have taken us 10 years.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The $1 billion cancer moonshot began eight months ago. It aims for collaboration across government, industry, and medicine.

    The nation’s high school graduation rate has reached a new record high. According to federal data released today, 83.2 percent of students earned their diplomas on time in the past school year. Rates improved among all racial and ethnic groups, despite the fact that the test scores in math and reading have been dropping.

    And stocks fell on Wall Street today, as declining oil prices dragged down energy shares. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 52 points to close at 18086. The Nasdaq fell 14 points, and the S&P 500 slipped six.

    The post News Wrap: Afghanistan reports progress against Taliban forces appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will enter the final debate of the 2016 cycle on anything but even ground.

    With roughly three weeks to Election Day, Republican strategists nationwide publicly concede Hillary Clinton has a firm grip on the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House — and may be on her way to an even more decisive victory over Donald Trump.

    “He is on track to totally and completely melting down,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres, who is advising Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s re-election campaign. Like many Republican strategists, he was willing to speak publicly about the GOP nominee’s rough road ahead at the end of an unprecedented campaign.

    Things can change before Election Day. There is one more presidential debate, and Trump has rallied before. His core supporters remain strongly committed.

    But along with indicators such as polling, campaign travel, staffing and advertising, the interviews with Republican political professionals unaffiliated with the Trump campaign suggest only an epic collapse by Clinton would keep her from winning enough states to become president.

    In the past week, Trump’s campaign has been hit by allegations the New York billionaire sexually accosted several women over the past three decades. Early voting in pivotal North Carolina and Florida shows positive signs for Clinton, and donations to the Republican National Committee are down about a quarter over the past three months from the same period in 2012, when Mitt Romney was the nominee.

    Preference polling in the past week, meanwhile, has generally moved in Clinton’s direction, with the Democrat improving in national surveys and in a number of contested states.

    If the election were held today, Clinton would likely carry the entire West Coast and Northeast, as well as most of the Great Lakes region — a place Trump once identified as ripe territory for his populist message against free trade.

    Only Ohio is a toss-up in that part of the country, but the perennial battleground may not play a decisive role come Election Day this year due to Clinton’s strength — and Trump’s weaknesses — elsewhere.

    Trump and running mate Mike Pence have made a hard play for Pennsylvania, a state carried by the Democratic nominee in the past six elections. But their strategy to hold down Clinton in Philadelphia and its suburbs while running up Trump’s vote total in more conservative parts of the state has failed to materialize.

    “He’s getting his brains beat in by women in the Philly suburbs,” said Ed Goeas, a Republican pollster who is surveying presidential battlegrounds and several states with races for U.S. Senate.

    Trump was already struggling to attract support from women before his first debate with Clinton in late September. It was at that event in New York where Clinton stung Trump by reviving his past shaming of a former Miss Universe for gaining weight.

    Trump’s response, calling the contestant’s weight gain “a real problem” in a TV interview the next day, was quickly eclipsed by the publication of a video from 2005 in which the Republican bragged about using his fame to prey on women.

    An apology followed, but Trump also insisted his comments were nothing more than “locker room talk.” He denied at the candidates’ second debate that he ever acted in the ways he discussed in the 2005 video.

    Within days, several women had come forward to accuse Trump of unwanted sexual advances and sexual assault. He responded by calling his accusers liars and, on Friday, suggested they were in some instances not physically attractive enough to merit his attention.

    “His entire tack could not be better designed to drive away college-educated women,” said Ayres, the GOP pollster.

    Educated women living in suburbs have long been a key part of the GOP coalition, but polls indicate the revelations about Trump’s behavior have pushed them toward Clinton in the battleground states of Colorado and Virginia.

    The events have also foiled Trump’s late-in-the-campaign plan to re-ignite his hope of carrying Wisconsin. Trump and Pence were to campaign with House Speaker Paul Ryan in his home state a day after the 2005 video was made public. Ryan withdrew his invitation to Trump, and Pence later canceled.

    Trump can still count on carrying states across the West, the Great Plains and in the South, but Ayers and other Republicans predict he may ultimately end up with fewer than 200 Electoral College votes.

    Should the Republican fall short in Pennsylvania, he would need to post victories in both Florida and Ohio, as well as several other battlegrounds — North Carolina, Virginia, Nevada and New Hampshire among them — to reach 270.

    But that’s only if he prevails in reliably Republican Arizona, Georgia and Utah.

    In Utah, Trump’s deep unpopularity among the large population of Mormon voters could lead to four candidates winning 10 percent or more of the state’s vote. That kind of uncertainty opens the door to a win there for Clinton or for third-party candidates Evan McMullin and Gary Johnson.

    In Arizona, won by the Republican nominee in all but one election since 1952, Trump’s characterization of some Hispanic immigrants as criminals has turned off many in the state’s growing and Democratic-leaning Hispanic community.

    GOP nominees have carried Georgia in seven of the last eight presidential elections. But about a quarter of the state’s voters are African American, a reliably Democratic-voting bloc. Like Virginia, Georgia is also home to well-educated young professionals more likely to favor Clinton, said Chris Jankowski, a Virginia-based national GOP consultant.

    “With Trump bleeding out, he could find himself competing to win the white vote in Georgia,” Jankowski said. “That’s when you know it’s over.”

    The post WATCH LIVE: The final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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