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

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: WikiLeaks is not the only online organization making political news.

    Lisa Desjardins takes a closer look at a new release that also targets Democrats.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The videos are from a conservative group famous and infamous for undercover work. More on them in a minute.

    But let’s start with the content. There are two videos and two allegations against Democrats. The first, that operatives for the left, especially this man, Scott Foval, have sent people to Trump rallies to incite violence. To an undercover operative, Foval says there is a script.

    SCOTT FOVAL, Americans United for Change: It’s a matter of showing up, to want to get into the rally in a Planned Parenthood T-shirt or Trump is a Nazi. You can message to draw them out and draw them to punch you.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Foval is a Democratic consultant who recently worked with a group called Mobilize hired by the Democratic Party in June. It’s not clear when the video was recorded, but Foval says he works directly with the party and the Clinton campaign.

    SCOTT FOVAL: I answer to the head of special events for the DNC and the head of special events and political for the campaign.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The Democratic National Committee flatly says Foval was a subcontractor and denies supporting anything like what Foval described.

    But what do we know from actual events on the campaign trail? Remember this, the clash of protesters, supporters and police in March in Chicago? It led to Donald Trump canceling a rally. On the tape, another Democratic operative brings it up.

    MAN: So, the Chicago protest when they shut all that, that was us. None of this is supposed to come back to us, because we want it coming from people. We don’t want it to come from the party.

    LISA DESJARDINS: That’s the first charge.

    And before we go to the second, a quick word about who’s behind these videos. His name is James O’Keefe, a conservative whose group, Project Veritas Action, investigates left-leaning entities. He’s been arrested and pled guilty for some undercover tactics in the past.

    O’Keefe insists his work is accurate, including the second charge in these videos about voter fraud. Scott Foval seems to talk openly about bringing in people from one state to vote in another. He mentions creating paychecks and finding cars with in-state license plates.

    SCOTT FOVAL: You use shells, use shell companies. The cars come from one copy. The paychecks come from another.

    LISA DESJARDINS: At one point, he stresses the need to avoid prosecution. But that’s not what his boss says.

    Bob Creamer heads up Mobilize, and contracted directly for the Democratic Party. In the video, he pushes back at an idea to affect voting.

    BOB CREAMER, Mobilize: I’m going to run this by our lawyers. My fear is that someone would decide that this was a big voter fraud scheme.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Today, the head of the Democratic Party released a statement, saying: “We do not believe, nor do we have any evidence to suggest that the activities alleged occurred.”

    The Clinton campaign also gave us a statement, saying that those behind the video are known to be misleading, but that the campaign disavows the ideas and tactics in the video, calling them troubling, even as a theory.

    One problem here is, we do not have the raw footage from these tapes. We do not have the context for many of these words. We do know this. Scott Foval has been fired from his job. And his boss, Bob Creamer, has ended his work on the election this year, saying he doesn’t want to be a distraction.

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

    The post What we know and don’t know about these videos alleging illicit strategies by Democrats appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A national flag flies outside the Ecuadorian Embassy where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is taking refuge, in London, Britain September 16, 2016.  REUTERS/Peter Nicholls - RTSO0FQ

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: For the last four years, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group, has been staying in self-imposed exile in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

    He’s taking refuge from a sexual assault investigation in Sweden that Assange claims is an American plot to have him extradited. Over the summer, WikiLeaks began divulging thousands of pages of documents and e-mails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, and, most recently, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, all in an effort, said Assange himself, to damage her presidential candidacy.

    Now a new twist in this saga. In a statement issued yesterday, Ecuador said it had cut off Assange’s Internet access, saying in part: “The government of Ecuador respects the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of other states. It doesn’t interfere in external electoral processes, nor does it favor any particular candidate.”

    For more on this, I’m joined now from London by Raphael Satter of the Associated Press. He’s covered WikiLeaks extensively.

    Is there anything more to it than that statement by the Ecuadorian government?

    RAPHAEL SATTER, Associated Press: You know, it’s not much more — not much more official.

    There is an enormous amount of speculation about what’s going on behind the scenes. WikiLeaks alleges that, despite what the Ecuadorian government has said, they are, in fact, bound to pressure from the U.S. State Department, and, in particular, John Kerry, the secretary of state. Now, the State Department has denied all this.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The batches of e-mails have been trickling out for months, Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, John Podesta’s e-mails for weeks now. So, why now? Why intervene now to try to cut off his Internet access?

    RAPHAEL SATTER: It’s quite puzzling, actually.

    The timing is a bit of a mystery. And the best people to speak about this are the parties concerned themselves. But neither WikiLeaks nor the Ecuadorian — nor various Ecuadorian officials that we have tried have returned our calls or even deigned to comment. They have communicated via Twitter or through their Web sites in a series of terse statements, which leave a lot to the imagination, frankly.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is this a sign that perhaps Julian Assange is overstaying his welcome?

    RAPHAEL SATTER: I think that people have speculated about how long Julian could stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London ever since he came in there.

    The Ecuadorians have themselves said that Assange is still welcome to stay as long as the reasons that he sought asylum remain the same. So, there — it doesn’t seem like he is going to get thrown out any time soon.

    That said, there have been rumors of tension between Assange and his hosts, and conceivably this could be a sign of that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Ecuadorians must recognize that cutting off Internet access to Julian Assange doesn’t mean that they shut down WikiLeaks.

    RAPHAEL SATTER: I think they do realize that. And they were at pains to point that out in their statement.

    They said that they don’t intend to interfere with WikiLeaks’ journalistic activities. And for it’s worth, WikiLeaks has continued to publish, in fact, public quite aggressively. So, it seems that, for the moment at least, this Internet ban has not hurt WikiLeaks’ ability to publish documents.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And still there’s no word on whether or not Julian Assange could borrow someone’s laptop to try to get instructions across or give instructions over a telephone?

    RAPHAEL SATTER: There are really a lot of unanswered questions here.

    The Ecuadorians were rather vague in their statements. They said that they were restricting his Internet access. That could conceivably mean a lot of things. That could mean that he can use the Internet for some things and not for others, or it could mean that he’s been kicked off the Internet altogether.

    It’s not clear, and no one’s answered our questions, whether Julian Assange can make phone calls, whether he can send text messages, whether he can send courier messages back and forth.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: He has a fairly — or had a fairly robust infrastructure. He was able to take part in interviews around the world, including on this program a couple of months ago.


    I don’t think there is any reason to believe that infrastructure has gone. The Ecuadorian Embassy is not a very large space. It’s a rather modest suite on roughly the ground floor of a red brick building on Hans Crescent, which is near the Harrods department store.

    There’s not a huge amount of space, but it’s enough to do TV interviews, to have journalists over every once in a while and even host celebrity guests.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Raphael Satter from the Associated Press, joining us from London tonight, thanks so much.

    RAPHAEL SATTER: Thanks for having me.

    The post What’s the motive behind Julian Assange’s internet ban? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Iraqi army members stand with thier weapons in Qayyarah, during an operation to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX2PL20

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: A top Iraqi commander called for the surrender of Mosul on day three of the offensive to retake the city.

    The general estimated up to 6,000 Islamic State fighters remain in Mosul, putting up fierce resistance. Coalition airstrikes blasted ISIS positions today, as Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces kept pushing closer.

    LT. GEN. TALIB SHAGHATI, Iraqi Army (through translator): From this place, I appeal to all local fighters with the Islamic State group to lay down their weapons in order not risk their lives, so they can return to their families and their city. Our forces are advancing and have surrounded the city. The liberation of Mosul will be swift.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, the humanitarian group Save the Children reported that at least 5,000 people have fled the Mosul area in the last 10 days.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A man dressed in an Afghan army uniform killed two Americans in Kabul today, one military, one civilian. Three other Americans were wounded. The attacker was killed later. NATO said the U.S. victims were involved in training and advising Afghan security forces.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Syria, relative quiet reigned in Eastern Aleppo for a second day, as Russian and Syrian forces made ready to let rebels and civilians leave the city tomorrow. The United Nations likened the plan to forced displacement. Russia said tomorrow’s planned cease-fire will now last 11 hours, instead of eight.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A protest outside the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines erupted into violence today. About 1,000 activists called for an end to military cooperation with the U.S. Street battles with police broke out, and a police truck drove into the crowds repeatedly. At least 10 people were injured.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It took 16 years of negotiating, but the U.N. Children’s Fund has reached a deal to cut the price of a crucial childhood vaccine in half. One shot protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, and a type of influenza. UNICEF plans to send 450 million doses to 80 countries by 2020.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Back in this country, professors from 14 Pennsylvania state colleges went on strike today, affecting more than 100,000 students. It stems from a contract dispute over benefits and wages. Some of the state’s largest schools, including Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh, are not affected.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And a relatively quiet day on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 40 points to close at 18202. The Nasdaq rose two, and the S&P 500 added four.

    The post News Wrap: Top Iraqi commander calls for surrender of Mosul appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    TOPSHOT - Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's plane (TOP) passes Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign plane at McCarran International Airport on October 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada, on the eve of the two candidates' third and final US presidential debate.  / AFP / Brendan Smialowski        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Once more, with hard feelings.

    Tonight’s presidential debate is a climactic moment in a bitter contest headlined by talk of sexual misdeeds and e-mail malfeasance.

    John Yang begins our coverage from Las Vegas.

    JOHN YANG: The final face-off comes as Donald Trump is facing sliding poll numbers, allegations of sexual assaults and is pressing his own claims about rigged elections.

    SEN. TIM KAINE (D), Vice Presidential Nominee: He sort of telegraphed a little bit it’s going to be scorched earth.

    JOHN YANG: Campaigning in Ohio today, Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, predicted his nominee won’t be rattled.

    SEN. TIM KAINE: Hillary is going to be very strong, very strong on facts and the details and demonstrating knowledge. And I think she will be what she was in the first two debates. She will be steady and calm, whatever Donald Trump tries to throw at her.

    JOHN YANG: One thing Donald Trump could throw, a new allegation against former President Bill Clinton. Breitbart News reported today that Leslie Millwee, a former Arkansas TV reporter, claims that then-Governor Clinton sexually assaulted her three times in 1980. Trump campaign chairman Steve Bannon is on leave as Breitbart News executive chairman.

    Trump’s number two, Mike Pence, didn’t mention the report today, but in Durango, Colorado, he argued that his man is set to deliver a strong performance.

    GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), Vice Presidential Nominee: You sure saw that on the stage in his last debate a week ago Sunday, didn’t you, when he beat Hillary Clinton hands down. And I promise you, I’m going to get on an airplane. I’m headed to Vegas, because you’re going to see it happen again tonight.


    JOHN YANG: Chris Wallace of FOX News will moderate the 90-minute debate on six topics in 15-minute segments: debt and entitlements, immigration, the economy, the Supreme Court, foreign hot spots, and fitness to be president.

    And on the sidelines, psychological warfare. The Trump campaign has invited Malik Obama, President Obama’s Kenyan-born half-brother, but denies it’s trying to resurrect claims that the president was born in Kenya.

    Another Trump guest, Patricia Smith, the mother of a State Department employee killed in the attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. The Clinton camp has invited two business figures highly critical of Trump, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman and billionaire Mark Cuban.

    Traditionally, these third and last two debates have featured the candidates sitting at a table together for a sort of more intimate setting, but tonight a change. The two candidates will be at lecterns for a more formal setting. It’s not clear who asked for it, but both campaigns agreed to the change.

    And you want to know about those hard feelings. Don’t expect a handshake tonight when the two families are introduced into the hall — Hari.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: John, what about the preparations? How did the candidates prepare today?

    JOHN YANG: Well, Hillary Clinton has been true to form, the same way she has prepared the last two days — last two debates, rather.

    She flew in last night. She’s at the Four Seasons Hotel here in Las Vegas doing several hours of debate prep on debate day, getting those last-minute debate preps in. Her entire debate team flew out with her, including Philippe Reines, who has been standing in for Donald Trump.

    Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a little bit of change. He has acquiesced to advisers who wanted a little more serious and more formal debate prep, but still no mock debates. This morning, Kellyanne Conway, the campaign manager, was asked what her advice would be to her candidate. She said one word: focus.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Nevadans are used to fight night. They are used to the Mayweather battle, the showdowns and so forth.

    And you have been reporting from there. Are the people in the state cognizant of how important their state could be in the grand scheme of things?

    JOHN YANG: I think they are. They understand that this is a state that has voted for the winner in the election, the winner of the White House in every campaign except one since 1908.

    There is a great deal of excitement. You talk about the heavyweight prize fights, the stunts like Evel Knievel jumping over the fountain at Caesars Palace. A lot of people are going to be watching here tonight.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, John Yang, reporting from Nevada, we will check in with you later tonight. Thank you.

    The post Last debate looming, VP running mates cheer top of their tickets from the trail appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Wells Fargo bank teller machines are seen in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 10, 2013.   REUTERS/Robert Galbraith /File Photo - RTSS8SO

    Wells Fargo bank teller machines are seen in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 10, 2013. Photo by Robert Galbraith/Reuters

    The California Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into Wells Fargo, which was fined $185 million for illegal banking practices last month, the The Los Angeles Times reported.

    The investigation is based on charges of criminal identity theft over the creation of unauthorized accounts. Since 2011, Wells Fargo employees created 2 million bank and credit card accounts in customers’ names without their consent.

    The search warrant, obtained by the Times and dated Oct. 5, demanded the bank turn over the identities of California customers who had bank accounts opened without their consent, any fees associated with the fraudulent accounts, as well as the names of the employees who opened the accounts, their managers and the sites that they worked at.

    The warrant also demands the same information for any fraudulent accounts, regardless of the location of the customer, that California-based employees opened.

    As noted by the Times, it’s not yet clear whether the California Department of Justice will look to bring charges against Wells Fargo, employees who opened the accounts or executives who had such practices occur under their watch.

    Regulators say that Wells Fargo employees were under unfair sales pressures. As New York Times reporter Michael Corkery told PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill last month, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf wanted each bank customer to have eight accounts or products with Wells Fargo.

    Wells Fargo chief John Stumpf apologized before Congress Tuesday for the bank opening two million unauthorized accounts. Regulators say workers were under sales pressure, but Stumpf said it was not a scheme. More than 5,000 workers have been fired; lawmakers suggested the bank’s CEO is the one who should pay the price. Gwen Ifill talks with Michael Corkery of The New York Times. Video by PBS NewsHour

    Just last week, Stumpf stepped down as CEO and Chairman of Wells Fargo after intense pressure from lawmakers to resign.

    READ MORE: Embroiled in scandal, Wells Fargo CEO resigns

    The post California launches Wells Fargo criminal investigation over fake accounts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Our team of in-house experts analyzed, fact checked and added context to the candidates’ statements during the final presidential debate. Here’s what they found:

    CHRIS WALLACE: “The next president will almost certainly have at least one appointment and likely, or possibly, two or three appointments, which means that you will, in effect, determine the balance of the court for what could be the next quarter century.”

    A reminder… The Supreme Court has one vacancy, due to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to replace Scalia. Senate Republicans have so far refused to consider Garland’s nomination. The next president could appoint two or perhaps even three justices to the Supreme Court.— Daniel Bush, Digital politics editor
    More on that… The opening question is one of the most tangible and most watched issues at stake this election. According to a poll from the Pew Research Center in July, 65 percent of voters consider Supreme Court appointments “very important” to their vote.— Lisa Desjardins, Political correspondent
    HILLARY CLINTON: I feel that at this point in our country’s history, it is important that we not reverse marriage equality, that we not reverse Roe v. Wade, that we stand up against Citizens United, we stand up for the rights of people in the workplace. That we stand up and basically say, the Supreme Court should represent all of us. That’s how I see the court. And the kind of people that I would be looking to nominate to the court would be in the great tradition of standing up to the powerful, standing up on behalf of our rights as Americans.

    A reminder… Hillary Clinton has not released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees. She has said she would use a “litmus test” for potential nominees to ensure that they share her views on issues like gun control and abortion. Clinton has also said that the Senate should hold a vote on the nomination of Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

    A reported shortlist of possible Clinton nominees includes Garland, D.C. Circuit Court Judge Sri Srinivasan, and 9th Circuit Judge Paul Watford, among others. — Daniel Bush, Digital politics editor

    A reminder… Clinton may be on the record urging the Senate to hold a confirmation vote on Garland. But if there is no vote before the election — and Senate Republicans insist it won’t happen — would a President Hillary Clinton re-nominate Garland?

    She was asked about that during an interview with the Tom Joyner Morning Show that aired in September. Here’s how The Washington Post described her response:

    “She also declined to say whether she would ask President Obama to pull the stalled Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland if she wins, clearing the way for her own choice. A host suggested perhaps a black woman in the place of the white Garland. ‘We should stick with one president at a time,’ Clinton said. ‘If I have the opportunity to name any Supreme Court appointments, I’m going to look broadly and widely for people who represent the diversity of our country, who bring some common sense, real world experience.’ ”

    — Geoffrey Guray, Politics reporter/producer

    TRUMP: “I feel that the justices that I am going to appoint, and I’ve named twenty of them, the justices that I’m going to appoint will be pro-life. They will have a conservative bent. They will be protecting the Second Amendment. They are great scholars in all cases, and they’re people of tremendous respect. They will interpret the Constitution the way the founders wanted it interpreted. And I believe that’s very, very important. I don’t think we should have the justices appointed that decide what they want to hear. It’s all about the Constitution of, of — and, and so important — the Constitution, the way it was meant to be. And those are the people that I will appoint.”

    More on that…In May, Donald Trump released a list of 11 potential Supreme Court nominees that he might appoint as president. The list — which consisted of eight white men and three white women — included several well-known conservative judges.

    In response to criticism that the list lacked diversity, Trump put out a second list in September with 10 more potential nominees. They included an African-American state judge and a federal judge who was born in Venezuela.— Daniel Bush, Digital politics editor

    TRUMP: “Well let me just tell you before we go any further, in Chicago, which has the toughest gun laws in the United States, probably you could say by far, they have more gun violence than any other city. So we have the toughest laws, and you have tremendous gun violence.”

    Here’s what we know…Trump does not seem certain, saying “probably,” but he is right. Over the past two years, Chicago has seen the highest rate of homicides and of non-fatal shootings of the past, according to the Major Cities Chief Association. (See this well-done report by our colleagues at ABC.) — Lisa Desjardins, Political correspondent
    TRUMP: “I think it’s terrible if you go with what Hillary is saying: in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. Now you can say that that’s okay, and Hillary can say that that’s okay, but it’s not okay with me. Because based on what she’s saying and based on where she’s going and where she’s been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb on the ninth month, on the final day. And that’s not acceptable.”

    More on that…Some perspective here: As the Washington Post, NPR and others have pointed out before, most abortions take place much earlier in pregnancy, well before nine months. The Guttmacher Institute has published data saying that nearly 90 percent take place in the first 12 weeks. Just about 1% happen after 21 weeks. It should be noted that in the late 90s, Trump said he didn’t want to ban late-term abortions. Back in 1999, Trump told Meet the Press that, despite his personal dislike of abortion, “I’m very pro-choice.” — Murrey Jacobson, National affairs editor
    CLINTON: “You mentioned the Heller decision and what I was saying that you reference, Chris, was that I disagreed with the way the court applied the Second Amendment in that case, because what the District of Columbia was trying to do was to protect toddlers from guns. And so they wanted people with guns to safely store them. And the court didn’t accept that reasonable regulation, but they accepted many others. So I see no conflict between saving people’s lives and defending the Second Amendment.”

    More on that… The late Justice Antonin Scalia authored the Court’s 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller. Some critical sentences:

    “There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms.”

    But the ruling also said there might be limits:

    “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited … Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

    And yes, the court went on to say that the D.C. handgun ban at issue in the case was too broad.

    The Supreme Court hasn’t ruled since then, to clarify what other kinds of restrictions may be placed on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

    Want to find out more about what the “Heller” ruling did and didn’t say? Any legal eagles out there can read the decision itself. — Geoffrey Guray, Politics reporter/producer

    TRUMP: When I said Japan and Germany — and not to single them out — but South Korea — these are very rich powerful countries. Saudi Arabia — nothing but money. We protect Saudi Arabia. Why aren’t they paying?….And I questioned, why aren’t they paying? Since I did this, this was a year ago — all of a sudden they’re paying. And I’ve been given a lot of credit for it. All of a sudden they’re starting to pay up. They have to pay up. We’re protecting people, they have to pay up.

    More on that…It is true that on August 30, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requested another increase in military spending to expand missile defenses, to guard against China’s moves on islands claimed by Japan, and against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The picture in Saudi Arabia is more mixed. The Kingdom recently announced plans to increase defense spending by 27 percent over five years, (although its $48.7 billion military budget in 2015 is actually a 2 percent decrease, according to the consultancy IHS Jane’s Aerospace, Defense and Security. )

    But it is not true that these increases and planned increases came in response to Trump’s attack on U.S. allies for failing to pay their fair share. The proposed Japanese hike would be its fifth-straight annual increase. Analysts ascribe Saudi Arabia’s planned hikes to the more assertive Saudi foreign policy adopted since King Salman took the throne last year, and embarked on a war in Yemen against Shiite Houthi rebels, seen as proxies of Saudi arch-rival Iran. — Margaret Warner, Chief foreign affairs correspondent

    HILLARY CLINTON: “I also will not add a penny to the debt. I have costed out what I’m going to do. He will, through his massive tax cuts, add $20 trillion to the debt.”

    More on that…Independent analysts do not agree with Clinton’s characterization of what her plans would add to the debt at all. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a budget/debt watchdog group (sometimes considered a budget hawk group), estimate her policies would add roughly $200 billion to the debt over the next decade. That said, Trump’s plans would add far more by the committee’s estimates: More than $5 trillion in additional debt over the same timeframe. In a blog posted earlier today, they noted other differences between the two this way: “While Clinton has put forth a serious effort to pay for her proposals, neither candidate would address the unsustainable trajectory of our nation’s debt — and Trump would substantially worsen it.” — Murrey Jacobson, National affairs editor
    WALLACE: Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely, sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?

    TRUMP: I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now. I will look at it at the time.

    Here’s what we know… This marks a reversal from Trump just weeks ago and from his campaign as recently as hours before this debate. Trump has now publicly left doubt as to whether he would accept the results of the election. He’s emphasized repeatedly in recent days that he believes the election could be rigged by the media, the elites, the Democratic Party and other institutions. But this is the furthest he has gone on this in recent days. After the first debate, Trump said he would “absolutely” accept the results. He later left doubt in an interview with the New York Times. But just hours before the debate tonight, his running mate, Governor Mike Pence, told CNN’s Dana Bash, “We’ll certainly accept the outcome of this election.” — Murrey Jacobson, National affairs editor
    TRUMP: “I’m cutting taxes. We’re gonna grow the economy. It’s going to grow at a record rate.”

    WALLACE: “But that’s not going to help entitlements.”

    TRUMP: “It’s gonna totally help you.”

    Here’s what we know… The key economic issue is arguably whether so-called trickle-down economics actually works — or will work going forward. Trump suggests that growth will surge as much as 6 percent a year. No economist I’ve ever met thinks that’s plausible.

    Trump is banking on economic growth. Clinton, to the extent that she’s paying for what she proposes — infrastructure spending, college tuition cuts — will pay for it with taxes on those who make hundreds of thousands a year and up. — Paul Solman, Senior correspondent and economist

    TRUMP: “As you know the border patrol agents — 16,500 plus — and ICE endorsed me. First time they’ve ever endorsed a candidate. And it means their job is tougher. But they know what’s going on, they know it better than anybody. They want strong borders. They feel we have to have strong borders.”

    Here’s what we know… Donald Trump says the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, has endorsed him for president. However, the endorsement actually comes from the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, a private union representing immigration and law enforcement workers. ICE, the federal agency, has not endorsed a candidate for president.

    According to the Pew Research Center, when it comes immigration reform, the American public wants to address the status of the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country and stronger borders.

    When asked which immigration initiative should be a priority, 45 percent of Americans said they want equal attention paid to border security and a pathway to citizenship. When those who responded “both” were asked to choose between the two, 79 percent of Americans said a pathway to U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants was a greater priority than better border security and law enforcement.

    — Kenya Downs, Digital reporter for Race Matters

    TRUMP: Take a look at the start up that they signed. The Russians have said, according to many, many reports: “I can’t believe they allowed us to do this.” They create warheads, and we can’t. The Russians can’t believe it.

    More on that… There are a series of nuclear weapons treaties going back decades between the U.S. and Russia (and the Soviet Union.) Among the most recent: the so-called “new “START” treaty of 2011. That’s apparently what Donald J. Trump was referring to with the malapropism – calling it the “START up”. But his underlying point — quoted above — is, technically, correct. Russia has deployed more nuclear warheads than the United States since 2010, and by a significant number.

    According to the U.S. State Department, the Russians have a whopping 429 more nuclear warheads deployed across an array of delivery platforms than the U.S. However, more concerning in respect to the “new START” treaty is the fact that the Russians have 240-plus more nuclear weapons deployed than the 1,550 weapons allowed by the 2011 treaty. This may change, however, if — and a big if at this moment — the treaty is followed. The next marker in the “New START” is 2018, in early February then, when the full implementation is due. But a bad sign has lately emerged: the Russians are proceeding with the testing of a land-based cruise missile system that could end up violating the landmark, Reagan/Gorbachev-era “INF” treaty. That pact, a signal achievement of the late Cold War, governs intermediate-range nuclear forces, that helped de-escalate the nuclear standoff in Europe. The U.S. first reported a possible violation of this treaty two years ago; violations the Russians deny.

    — Morgan Till, Senior foreign affairs producer

    TRUMP: “But what she doesn’t say is that President Obama has deported millions and millions of people — just the way it is.”

    Here’s what we know… It’s true that the Obama administration has overseen a dramatic increase in deportations. More than 2.5 million people have been deported during Obama’s presidency, a 23 percent increase over the rate during George W. Bush’s term, data from the Department of Homeland Security shows. More than 90 percent of those deported under Obama’s directives had previously been convicted of crimes.

    — Travis Daub, Director of digital

    CLINTON: I feel strongly that we have to have an education system that starts with preschool and goes through college. That’s why I want more technical education in high schools and in community colleges, real apprenticeships to prepare young people for the jobs of the future.​

    More on that… Despite all the hubbub about energy, manufacturing and international trade during this election cycle, the industry predicted to see the largest job growth in the next 20 years is health care, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Medical assistance alone is expected to grow by 23 percent, as baby boomers leave the workforce. The construction industry ranks second on the BLS growth list, while private educational services at colleges and universities come in third. Regardless, BLS predicts that 11 of the 15 fastest growing occupations will require some level of post-secondary education.

    — Nsikan Akpan, Digital science producer

    CLINTON: Because his whole plan is to cut taxes to give the biggest tax breaks ever to the wealthy and the corporations, adding $20 trillion to our debt and causing the kind of dislocation that we have seen before. Because it truly will be trickle-down economics on steroids. So the plan I have will actually produce greater opportunities. The plan he has will cost us jobs and possibly another great recession.

    More on that… This is the key economic difference: Trump believes that tax cuts will incentivize the rich to invest and create jobs. Clinton doesn’t buy it, and there is scant evidence that tax cuts have created jobs in recent decades.

    — Paul Solman, Senior correspondent and economist

    CLINTON: Well that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president of the United States.

    TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet. You’re the puppet.

    CLINTON: …It’s pretty clear you won’t admit that the Russians have engaged in cyber attacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do. And that you continue to get help from him because he has a very clear favorite in this race. So I think that this is such an unprecedented situation. We’ve never had a foreign government trying to interfere in our election. We have 17, 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyber attacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election. I find that deeply disturbing.

    TRUMP: I never met Putin. This is not my best friend. But if the United States got along with Russia, wouldn’t be so bad.

    More on that… Clinton is mostly correct about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s apparent preference for Trump. Members of the intelligence community issued a statement agreeing that Russian actors — with approval at the highest levels — staged cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, released by anonymous sites like “Guccifer 2.0.” It’s also true the Trump invited Russia to hack and release the missing 30,000 emails from Clinton’s time as secretary of state.

    The intelligence community’s statement didn’t include the WikiLeaks release of emails of Clinton confidants, including longtime adviser John Podesta. The leaks included purported quotes from speeches she gave to private Wall Street and banking groups for six-figure fees, including one endorsing “open borders.”

    It is also true that Trump has applauded Putin as a strong leader, and has said it’s good for the U.S. if Russia takes care of ISIS in Syria. And he has refrained from criticizing Putin’s bombing campaign against civilians in Syria, and his 2014 annexing of Crimea and stirring up war in Eastern Ukraine.

    — Margaret Warner, Chief foreign affairs correspondent

    CLINTON: “But just briefly, the Clinton Foundation made it possible for 11 million people around the world with HIV/AIDS to afford treatment. And that’s about half of all people in the world who are getting treatment.”

    Here’s what we know… Actually, Clinton underestimated that number. The Clinton Health Access Initiative has provided HIV-AIDS medicine to 11.8 million, which represents closer to 70 percent of people treated worldwide. In May, UNAIDS announced 17 million overall have access to HIV meds.

    — Nsikan Akpan, Digital science producer

    TRUMP: “You take a look at the people of Haiti. I was at a Little Haiti the other day in Florida, and I want to tell you they hate the Clintons. Because what happened in Haiti with the Clinton Foundation is a disgrace.”

    Here’s what we know… Trump’s comment and Chris Wallace’s question on the matter refers to an Oct. 11 ABC News report that reviewed emails obtained by the Republican National Committee through a Freedom of Information Act request. The story outlines how friends of Bill Clinton and Clinton Foundation donors made aid requests to the foundation just after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The Clinton Foundation subsequently forwarded those requests to the State Department, which Hillary Clinton ran at the time as Secretary of State.

    Here’s the gist. The State Department did most certainly assist people connected to the Clinton Foundation in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. But neither the ABC News report nor a follow-up investigation by the State Department found evidence that government officials helped foundation donors or Bill Clinton’s friends obtain contracts.

    — Nsikan Akpan, Digital science producer

    More on that…While the Clinton Foundation provided millions of dollars toward Haiti’s recovery from the 2010 earthquake, many of the funded projects were incomplete or controversial. Haitian and Haitian-Americans have been critical of an uncompleted $2 million housing project and $170 million in USAID funding meant for earthquake relief that instead went toward the construction of an industrial park built 82 miles away from the earthquake zone. An investigation also revealed that Hillary Clinton’s brother, Tony Rodham, may have used Clinton Foundation connections to gain access to a controversial gold mining project in Haiti. Haitian activists protested outside the Clinton Foundation headquarters in New York City last year.

    However, most of the Trump campaign’s criticism of the Clinton Foundation’s work in Haiti stems from accusations that the foundation raised hundreds of millions of dollars meant for a hospital that was never built. That claim is unsubstantiated.

    — Kenya Downs, Digital reporter/producer

    Clinton: “I’ll say something about the Affordable Care Act, which he wants to repeal: The Affordable Care Act extended the solvency of Medicare’s trust fund. So if he repeals it, our Medicare problem gets worse.”

    Here’s what we know… The Obama Administration claims that the Affordable Care Act extended the life of the Medicare Trust fund to 2028 — still not terribly far away — through “reductions in waste, fraud and abuse.”

    Conservative analysts say Medicare’s future does indeed look brighter than it did before Obamacare, but they’re skeptical about how much credit the law should receive given the overall trends that existed in the health care industry before passage of the ACA.​

    To Clinton’s point that scrapping the law wouldn’t necessarily save the country money, the Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that repealing Obamacare would increase the federal deficit by $137 to $353 billion between 2016 and 2025.

    — Jason Kane, health producer

    Donald Trump: Obamacare has to go. It – the premiums are going up 60, 70, 80 percent. Next year, they’re going to go up over a hundred percent.

    Here’s what we know… While rates will rise dramatically in the coming year — surging by at least 30 percent in eight states — increases of “70, 80” percent will not be common. Federal officials expect 13.8 million people to sign up for coverage in the open enrollment period that begins Nov. 1. That’s an increase of 9 percent over the last open enrollment season. Many will be shielded from the rate increases through subsidies from the federal government.​

    — Jason Kane, health producer

    Clinton: “I want to make college debt-free for families making less than $125,000. You will not get a tuition bill from a public college or a university if the plan that I worked on with Bernie Sanders is enacted.”

    Here’s what we know… This has indeed become an even more central part of the Clinton agenda since the primaries ended and she moved closer to adopting Sanders’ position on this. This would be true for students attending public colleges — assuming she could get it passed at a cost of $350 billion over 10 years. A number of advocates and experts say it could make a crucial difference for students who cannot afford higher education. But other experts say it could raise the overall price and burden on the government — even if students are protected from the costs. They believe universities and colleges would raise tuition again once they see the federal government is paying for a big part of it. Some studies have already found that colleges raise prices when federal subsidies increase.

    It’s also not clear how much of an impact the Clinton plan would have on state funding and aid cuts, which have had a pronounced effect on the rise in student debt over time.

    Clinton could try to pass a law limiting the rise in tuition, but it’s not entirely clear that she intends to do so.

    — Murrey Jacobson, National affairs editor


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    WASHINGTON — Some conservatives are irritated by Donald Trump’s failure to explicitly say during the presidential debate that he wants Roe v. Wade overturned.

    That’s the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortions, something that conservatives have fought for four decades.

    Trump promised to appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, saying that its end would occur “automatically.” But when pressed by the debate moderator, he did not give a straight answer about whether he personally wants it overturned.

    One of the first to notice that: independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin.

    He tweeted, “Why can’t @RealDonaldTrump actually say the words “I want Roe v Wade overturned?” I’m the only pro-life candidate in the race.”

    McMullin has no way to win Nov. 8 — but has been polling ahead of Trump in deep-red Utah.

    Trump’s personal feelings about abortion are murky. In past years he’s said he favors abortion rights. As a Republican presidential candidate, he has said he opposes them.

    Conservative writer Erick Erickson retweeted a GIF to express his frustration with Trump’s answer. The short video showed basketball great Michael Jordan slowly shaking his head in apparent disgust.

    Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, made it clear that she wants to preserve abortion rights and would appoint justices who share that view.

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    Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    LAS VEGAS — Threatening to upend a fundamental pillar of American democracy, Donald Trump refused to say Wednesday night that he will accept the results of next month’s election if he loses to Hillary Clinton. The Democratic nominee declared Trump’s resistance “horrifying.”

    Trump had spent the days leading up to the third and final presidential debate warning voters that the election would be “rigged.” Asked whether he would accept the outcome if Clinton emerges victorious, he said, “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense.”

    Trump’s assertions raise the prospect that millions of his supporters may not accept the results on Nov. 8 if he loses, thrusting the nation into uncharted territory. Free and fair elections, with the vanquished peacefully stepping aside for the victor, have been the underpinning of America’s democratic tradition since the country’s founding 240 years ago.

    The Republican National Committee immediately disavowed Trump’s statement. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and election officials across the country have denied and denounced Trump’s charges.

    Wednesday’s contest quickly shifted from a calm, policy-focused faceoff into a bitter and deeply personal confrontation. Trump called Clinton a “nasty woman,” while the Democrat panned him as “unfit” to be commander in chief.

    Clinton, who began the debate with a lead in nearly all battleground states, forcefully accused Trump of favoring Russia’s leader over American military and intelligence experts after the Republican nominee pointedly refused to accept the U.S. government’s assertion that Moscow has sought to meddle in the U.S. election.

    She charged that Russian President Vladimir Putin was backing Trump because “he’d rather have a puppet as president of the United States.”

    Trump denied any relationship with Putin and said he would condemn any foreign interference in the election. But he notably declined to back the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia was involved in the hacking of Democratic organizations. The Clinton campaign has said the FBI also is investigating Russia’s involvement in the hacking of a top adviser’s emails.

    The 90-minute contest in Las Vegas came just under three weeks before Election Day and with early voting underway in more than 30 states. Trump has struggled to expand his support beyond his most loyal backers and must reshape the race in its closing days if he hopes to defeat Clinton.

    The candidates clashed repeatedly over their drastically different visions for the nation’s future. Trump backed Supreme Court justices who would overturn the landmark Roe vs. Wade ruling, while Clinton vowed to appoint justices that would uphold the decision legalizing abortion, saying, “We have come too far to have that turned back now.”

    The businessman entered the final debate facing a string of sexual assault accusations from women who came forward after he denied in the previous contest that he had kissed or groped women without their consent. That Trump denial followed the release of a video of in which he’s heard bragging about exactly that.

    Trump denied the accusations anew Wednesday night, saying the women coming forward “either want fame or her campaign did it.” He falsely said the women’s allegations had been debunked.

    Clinton said Trump “thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self-worth.” She avoided answering a question about her husband’s infidelities.

    Trump pressed Clinton on immigration, accusing her of wanting an “open borders” policy, a characterization she vigorously disputes. The Republican, who has called for building a wall the length of the U.S.-Mexico border, blamed some “bad hombres here” for drug epidemics around the country, and promised “we’re going to get ’em out.”

    Clashing on trade, Trump said Clinton had misrepresented her position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, noting that she had originally called it the “gold standard” of trade agreements. Clinton shot back that once the deal was finished, it didn’t meet her standards.

    “I’m against it now. I’ll be against after the election. I’ll be against it when I’m president,” she said.

    Both were asked if they would consider tax increases or benefit cuts to support Social Security and Medicare programs. Trump said he would cut taxes and repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but he did not detail any plans for Social Security or other entitlement programs. Clinton said she would put more money in the Social Security trust fund through increasing taxes on the wealthy and other methods and promised not to cut benefits. She also argued that the Affordable Care Act has extended the solvency of Medicare and said she would work to bring costs down.

    On foreign policy, Clinton reasserted her opposition to sending a large-scale U.S. troop presence to the Middle East to defeat the Islamic State. She’s backed a no-fly zone in Syria, which would mark an expansion of the current U.S. strategy.

    For Trump, the debate marked one of his final chances to shift the trajectory of a race that appears to be slipping away from him. Clinton’s campaign is confidently expanding into traditionally Republican states, while Trump’s narrow electoral path is shrinking.

    Still, Clinton has struggled throughout the campaign to overcome persistent questions about her honesty and trustworthiness. In the campaign’s closing weeks, she’s begun appealing to Americans to overcome the deep divisions that have been exacerbated by the heated campaign, saying on stage Wednesday that she intended to be a president for those who vote for her and those who do not.

    Clinton faced debate questions for the first time about revelations in her top adviser’s hacked emails that show her striking a different tone in private than in public regarding Wall Street banks and trade. But she quickly turned the discussion to Russia’s potential role in stealing the emails.

    Underscoring the deep discord between Trump and Clinton, the candidates did not shake hands at the beginning or end of the debate.

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    Here are six takeaways from the final presidential face-to-face in Las Vegas on Oct. 20, 2016. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    Here are six takeaways from the final presidential face-to-face in Las Vegas on Oct. 20, 2016. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    All of the swirling and competing dynamics of 2016 were there. The candidates’ visceral frustration with each other. The public’s hope for more serious discussion. The economy and immigration. Allegations of sexual misconduct and campaign corruption. It was neither the best of debates, nor the worst of debates. But it may have been the most fascinating of this campaign. Here are six takeaways from the final presidential face-to-face.

    November 9

    It is the headline of the debate. Donald Trump is not ready to say he will accept the results of this election. He’ll let us know November 9. Our takeaways? Two thoughts. First, Trump realizes he may lose and is still toying with risky questions about whether the election is fair. Second — and don’t discount this dynamic — this is a showman who cannot resist a way to keep people tuned in.

    The adults were in the room

    Ahead of the debate, moderator Chris Wallace announced he would tackle six topics: debt and entitlements, immigration, economy, Supreme Court, foreign hot spots and fitness to be president.

    READ MORE: Read our fact check of the final presidential debate

    Odds seemed long that he would get to them all. But Wallace did in fact cover every serious issue he listed and added a seventh bonus section — on why the candidates should each be president. Whether it was Wallace’s command and insistence upon a more orderly debate or whether it was a recognition by both campaigns that this was their last moment to look presidential, the debate was by far the most adult yet.

    The candidates did not just flick at policy, they rolled in deep discussions of differences on the second amendment, abortion, Russia, the economy and the Arab world. There were of course moments of heated drama. But there was also a much better look than we’d seen before at what the candidates would mean for the direction of the country.

    Trump may have a new issue with women

    The Republican nominee’s views on abortion, which polls show to be one of the largest gender-gap issues, have not gotten much attention in the general election cycle. Until now.

    In this debate, Trump made it clear he expects his choices for the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, the court decision legalizing abortion. Such a strong anti-abortion sentiment could be a boost among abortion rights opponents, a key segment of the Republican base. But it may hurt him overall among women. This is because of a particular nuance in the abortion debate. While the American public is split over whether they identify as “pro-life” or “pro-choice”, most voters are in the middle on the issue – supporting legal abortions, but with restrictions. But overturning Roe v. Wade? A whopping 64 percent of women and 63 percent of men oppose that idea.

    Those numbers indicate a problem with both genders. But in Trump’s case it may affect him more with women — because that is the group that is less certain about him. And it’s the one he needs more.

    Clinton let loose

    Clinton said that Trump “choked” when he met face to face with Mexico’s president earlier this year. She said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was backing Trump in the race “because he’d rather have a puppet as president.” At another point in the debate, Clinton lambasted the Trump Foundation for using a donor’s money to buy a six-foot portrait of Trump, adding, “Who does that?”

    Time and again on Wednesday night, Clinton lambasted her Republican rival without holding anything back. The strategy was on clear display in the middle of the debate, when she compared her experienced over the past 30 years to Trump’s. As she went down the list, Clinton noted that while she was in the Situation Room during the attack that killed Osama Bin Laden, Trump was hosting “Celebrity Apprentice.” “I’m happy to compare my 30 years of experience,” she said, and it showed.

    We tried something new this debate — watching different views of the face-off on separate televisions.

    It marked a departure from the first two debates, where Clinton seemed to be trying to mask her contempt for her opponent. That pretense disappeared in Las Vegas. Whether she planned to or not, Clinton really let loose. As a result, she likely didn’t win over any core Trump supporters. But it might have rallied her base, or at least the segment of Democrats who urged Clinton to attack Trump more aggressively at the debates.

    Trump body language

    We tried something new this debate — watching different views of the face-off on separate televisions. On one desk was a split screen with both candidates. But on another we saw just Trump’s camera, whether he was speaking or not.

    The Republican candidate was much more disciplined with his words in this debate, even with his decibel level for the word “wrong”. (It was no longer “Wrong!”) But we noticed, especially while Clinton spoke, that Trump’s body language indicated a growing agitation. He shook his head. He angrily adjusted his mic. By the time the debate was nearing 60 minutes, the body language was spilling over into his words. “Give me a break,” Trump retorted as Clinton brought up accusations that he berated a former Miss Universe for her weight.

    The takeaway: Trump was more in command, more disciplined generally in what he said. But his body language indicated he still wanted to throw verbal punches.

    So, what next?

    Donald Trump entered the debate trailing Clinton in national polls and most battleground states. Trump needed a big win, and he didn’t get it. A CNN/ORC instant poll showed that 52 percent of viewers thought Clinton won the debate, compared to 39 percent who thought Trump was the winner. It’ll take a few more days for the full impact of the debate to register in polls. But one thing seems clear: Trump did not do enough to significantly alter the course of the race.

    That’s because Trump did nothing in the debate to try and expand his base. He said plenty of things that will energize his most ardent voters— but their support only gets him to around 40 or so percent of the vote. Without broadening his appeal to moderates, Trump won’t be able to win the White House.

    It will be interesting to see what Clinton does in the next 19 days. Will she continue hammering Trump with the no-holds-barred vigor she employed on Wednesday night? Or will she pivot and try to deliver a more optimistic message as the campaign winds down? To a certain extent, it may not even matter. Most voters have made up their minds, and early voting is underway in several states. There’s time for a late October surprise, but that time is quickly running out. In Las Vegas, the underlying dynamic of the race didn’t change. For Clinton, that constitutes a big win.

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    Donald Trump pauses during the final debate in Las Vegas. Photo by Rick Wilking/REUTERS

    Donald Trump pauses during the final debate in Las Vegas. Photo by Rick Wilking/REUTERS

    LAS VEGAS — Donald Trump’s allies struggled late Wednesday to defend his refusal at the final presidential debate to say he will honor the results of the November election should he lose, with condemnation arriving from both Republicans and Democrats alike.

    Sean Spicer, the chief strategist of the Republican National Committee, which is supplying much of the Trump campaign’s get out the vote and voter outreach efforts, said the national party would “respect the will of the people.”

    “I cannot speak for what he thinks,” Spicer said.

    South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said in a statement that “Mr. Trump is doing the party and the country a great disservice” by suggesting the election is rigged, while Arionza Sen. Jeff Flake called the New York billionaire’s statements “beyond the pale.”

    After spending the past few weeks claiming without evidence that the November election will be “rigged” in favor of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump was asked directly by Fox News anchor and debate moderator Chris Wallace if he would concede should he lose to Clinton.

    “I will look at it at the time,” Trump said. When pressed moments later, Trump added simply: “What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense.”

    Clinton called Trump’s comments “horrifying.”

    Billionaire Mark Cuban, one of Clinton’s top supporters, called Trump’s words “a slap in the face of every American in the history of this country, the Constitution and our democracy.”

    “That’s what we’re proud of,” he said. “So, for him to question that, that’s disqualifying.”

    Trump’s remarkable comments came just hours after his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, said on CNN “that we’ll certainly accept the outcome of this election.” And Trump’s daughter Ivanka, arguably his most influential adviser, said earlier Wednesday that her father would “do the right thing” when she was asked if he would concede after a defeat in November.

    The debate answer left his own team scrambling in the aftermath of the debate. Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager, at first responded to questions about the comment by saying he “would accept the results, because he’ll win the election.”

    “So, you know, absent widespread fraud and irregularities, then, we’ll see,” Conway said. “What he’s saying is we have to see what happens.”

    She later rejected the outcry over Trump’s comment, saying it’s “not fair” to suggest Trump is undermining the prospects of a peaceful transfer of power.

    “You’ve got to listen to everything he said,” she argued. “Al Gore did not accept the results of the elections and he said he would. He actually conceded to George W. Bush on election night in 2000 and then called and retracted his concession.”

    Gore pulled back his concession only after updated vote count results in Florida showed the state too close to call, throwing the outcome of the election into doubt. When the U.S. Supreme Court later halted a recount, leaving Bush ahead in Florida and giving him the election, Gore conceded and asked the country to accept Bush as the nation’s next leader.

    Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, another of Trump’s top allies, said the Republican nominee had good reason to be suspicious about potential fraud. “There are indications of a lot of fraud around by the Clintons,” Giuliani said.

    In fact, there is no proof that voter fraud is a widespread problem in the United States. A study by a Loyola Law School professor found that out of 1 billion votes cast in all American elections between 2000 and 2014, there were only 31 known cases of impersonation fraud.

    Lemire reported from New York. Steve Peoples and Michelle Rindels in Las Vegas, and Nicholas Riccardi in Denver, contributed reporting.

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    Rock musician Bob Dylan performs at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles in May 2004. Photo by Rob Galbraith/Reuters

    Bob Dylan performs at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles in May 2004. Photo by Rob Galbraith/Reuters

    After ignoring the Swedish Academy’s calls and emails for a week, Bob Dylan has finally, indirectly, acknowledged his Nobel Prize in literature.

    Although the famously elusive musician still hasn’t said anything about receiving the award, eagle-eyed fans can spot an all-caps mention of the honor on Dylan’s official website, Spin reported.

    On the webpage for “The Lyrics: 1961-2012,” it’s shouted atop a description of his book of collected works that Dylan is the “Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.”

    However, word’s still out on whether he’ll attend the Stockholm ceremony later this December.

    Screenshot of the Nobel Prize mention on Dylan's website.

    Screenshot of the Nobel Prize mention on Dylan’s website.

    Announcing this year’s literature prize, the Nobel committee said Dylan received the award “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

    Not everyone agreed.

    Matthew Schnipper, managing editor of Pitchfork, said it was “somewhat shocking—even disappointing” that Dylan won.

    “His work, certainly, is monumental,” Schnipper wrote. “But he is a musician, and his relationship with words is as a lyricist, someone whose prose exists inexorably with music. To read his lyrics flatly, without the sound delivering them, is to experience his art reduced,” he added.

    [Watch Video]

    By any measure, Bob Dylan is one of the most important and influential popular songwriters of his era. Now he’s also a Nobel laureate in literature, a choice that came as a surprise. Jeffrey Brown talks to singer/songwriter James Taylor and others about the way Dylan’s writing helped so many navigate a changing world.

    Stephen Metcalf of Slate also pushed the Dylan-is-a-musician-not-a-poet line.

    “The objection here hinges in the definition of the word literature,” he wrote. “You wouldn’t give the literary prize to an economist or a political saint. You shouldn’t give it to Bob Dylan.”

    The 75-year-old folk icon is the first American to win the Nobel Prize in literature since author Toni Morrison in 1993.

    To date, Dylan has kept mum on his historic honor, despite performing since the announcement.

    Will he ever speak up? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.

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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the third and final debate with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (not pictured) at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Joe Raedle/Reuters

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the third and final debate with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (not pictured) at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Joe Raedle/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump, who’s railed for months about a “rigged” political system, used the final presidential debate to defiantly say he won’t decide until the election ends whether he will accept its results.

    Pressed on that remarkable challenge to a keystone of the democratic process, his defenders have drawn a parallel to Democrat Al Gore’s contest of the disputed 2000 presidential election.

    A comparison of what the Republican presidential candidate and his allies said to what happened 16 years ago:

    TRUMP: Asked last month during his first debate against Democrat Hillary Clinton whether he would accept the election outcome, Trump said, “The answer is, if she wins, I will absolutely support her.”

    Asked virtually the same question Wednesday by debate moderator Chris Wallace, Trump answered differently.

    “I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now,” he said. Pressed by Wallace, he said, “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense.”

    TRUMP’S DEFENDERS: Several allies said Trump’s stance recalled the 2000 challenge by Gore, the sitting vice president, to an election eventually won by Republican George W. Bush.

    “Al Gore did not accept the results of the elections, and he said he would,” said Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager. “He actually conceded to George W. Bush on election night in 2000 and then called and retracted his concession.”

    THE FACTS: Comparing Trump’s before-the-fact, implied threat to challenge a “rigged” election to Gore’s contest of the 2000 race is faulty on several levels.

    Gore’s challenge was rooted not on unfounded suspicions but actual events — Florida’s knife-edge thin vote results. It also followed a legal process that saw each political party fully engaged in backing its candidate, unlike the calls that Trump has faced from many Republicans to honor the upcoming election, which polls show he seems likely to lose.

    Most of Florida’s polls closed by 7 p.m. on Election Night 2000. Within the hour the television networks and some other news organizations projected Gore the victor in the state, seemingly giving him enough Electoral College votes to win the election.

    As additional Florida votes were actually counted, Bush took a lead of around 50,000 votes out of 5.8 million cast, prompting some news organizations to reverse themselves and proclaim Bush the winner. Gore even placed a post-midnight call to Bush to concede.

    That decision also proved flawed.

    By 2 a.m., Bush was ahead by less than 1,000 votes — a margin that automatically triggered a recount under Florida law. News organizations changed their reporting to reflect a race that was too close to call, and Gore called Bush back to retract his concession.

    With the White House at stake, the recount and legal battles between the two parties lasted 36 days. A riveted nation watched a spectacle that included Florida election officials wielding magnifying glasses to determine whether “hanging chads” — dangling bits of paper punched into voting cards — should count.

    Numerous lawsuits were filed. On Dec. 9 the Supreme Court ordered a halt to a statewide hand recount of “undervotes” — ballots on which electronic counting equipment had not registered a vote for president.

    Three days later, the justices voted 5-4 to overturn the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling that had ordered the recount — in effective giving Bush the presidency by 537 Florida votes.

    “While I strongly disagree with the court’s position, I accept it,” Gore said.

    READ MORE: Is there large-scale voter fraud in the U.S.? In a word, no.

    The post AP fact check: Does Trump’s implied threat to dispute election echo Gore’s 2000 challenge? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    People wait in line to enter Choice Career Fairs job fair at a convention center in Los Angeles, California. The number of first-time jobless claims rose more than expected last week. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Economist Mark Perry responds to billionaire and $15 minimum wage advocate Nick Hanauer’s argument that “The claim that if wages go up, jobs will go down is not a theory — it’s a scam.” Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Editor’s Note: Mark Perry, an economist at University of Michigan’s Flint campus and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, responds to billionaire and $15 minimum wage advocate Nick Hanauer’s argument that “The claim that if wages go up, jobs will go down is not a theory — it’s a scam.” Perry argues that the minimum wage hurts the low-wage workers it’s supposed to help, as business will try to adjust to an increase in costs by reducing hours, reducing the number of employees or reducing benefits.

    — Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor

    Nick Hanauer, “America’s worst minimum wage pundit” according to Forbes columnist Adam Ozimek, was featured recently on Making Sen$e for his 4,400-word essay, “The claim that if wages go up, jobs will go down is not a theory — it’s a scam.” Much of Hanauer’s essay displays a fundamental misunderstanding of what economic theory — developed over hundreds of years in a discipline that is honored annually with a “Nobel Prize in economic sciences” — can tell us about the predictable effects of a $15 an hour minimum wage.

    Many of us in the economics profession, including dozens of Nobel laureates, recognize that the minimum wage is a terrible and cruel public policy, one that reduces employment opportunities for the most vulnerable Americans.

    Despite Hanauer’s attempt to claim the moral high ground, many of us in the economics profession, including dozens of Nobel laureates, recognize that the minimum wage is a terrible and cruel public policy, one that reduces employment opportunities for the most vulnerable Americans.

    Much of Hanauer’s argument in support of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is based on some questionable empirical evidence from a “first-of-its-kind” minimum wage “study” by the National Employment Law Project that was released earlier this year. Let’s be very clear, this “study” has not been taken seriously by the economics profession and in fact has been dismissed by those with even a passing knowledge of economics.

    READ MORE: Want to watch economists fight? Bring up the minimum wage

    For example, Jim Tankersley of The Washington Post wrote about the study in an article with a title that sums up why it isn’t being taken seriously — “Here’s a really, really, ridiculously simple way of looking at minimum wage hikes.” Tankersley aptly described the NELP study as “possibly the most un-nuanced analysis of the effects of minimum wage hikes that you’ll ever see.” Specifically, here’s how he summarized the report (emphasis mine):

    Paul Sonn and Yannet Lathrop, looked at each of the 22 instances since 1938 when the United States raised its federal minimum wage. They looked at what followed with employment overall, and what happened in the leisure/hospitality and retail sectors, where minimum-wage jobs are often concentrated.

    They did not look at rates of change. They simply asked one question: One year after the wage went up, were there more jobs or fewer?

    Tankersley points out that the NELP study might be a “useful talking point for raise-the-wage supporters,” but is “less useful as an economic study.” And finally, he concludes that:

    There are plenty of reasons total employment could keep rising even if minimum-wage hikes were holding down job growth, the simplest being, the economy was growing at a strong enough clip to offset any damage from the hike. This is why economists prefer work that attempts to isolate the effects of a minimum-wage increase, through more sophisticated means such as regressions.

    Thus, the unsophisticated “study” that Hanauer gushes over to support his advocacy of more than doubling the minimum wage to $15 an hour is really not a study so much as a talking point and provides no sound, credible basis for an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Since the NELP study forms the basis for much of Hanauer’s support of the minimum wage in his Making Sen$e column, let’s continue analyzing NELP’s lack of nuance and sophistication.

    The main deficiency of the NELP study is that it doesn’t capture many of the possible negative employment effects that economists predict from government price controls. To start, Tankersley correctly points out the main flaw of the NELP study: It didn’t look at the changes in the rate of employment or at the changes in the growth rate of employment. The study simply reported whether the number of jobs increased or decreased following a minimum wage hike.

    Employment in the U.S. always goes up over time… but how much more might it have gone up without the artificial increase in labor costs for unskilled workers?

    But employment in the U.S. always goes up over time, from population growth and immigration, by about 2 percent per year on average since 1938. So to report that the employment level increased after many minimum wage hikes is meaningless, because it doesn’t answer this important question: How much more might it have gone up without the artificial increase in labor costs for unskilled workers?

    NELP’s ignorance of the “growth rate of employment” or the “rate of change in employment level” masks some potentially serious consequences. For example, suppose that the number of employed restaurant workers actually increased slightly following a new higher minimum wage of $15 an hour, suggesting that there are no negative employment effects of a minimum wage hike. The relevant question to serious economists and researchers is this: How does that increase in low-skill restaurant jobs at $15 an hour compare to what would have happened to the number of restaurant jobs without the minimum wage increase?

    READ MORE: Column: Why a $15 minimum wage should scare us

    Suppose, for example, that restaurant jobs in a city had been increasing at an annual rate of 4 percent and by 5,000 workers per year due to normal economic growth and increases in that area’s population. Following a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour that imposes significantly higher labor costs on employers, suppose that the growth in the city’s restaurant jobs is cut in half to only a 2 percent growth rate, that is, from 5,000 to 2,500 workers per year. Research following NELP’s unsophisticated approach would show that the number of restaurant jobs increased; but it would now be a much lower rate of job creation because of the higher minimum wage. The increase of 2,500 jobs in the year following the minimum wage hike makes it appear that there is a positive employment effect, even though there is actually a net loss of 2,500 food jobs.

    Further, serious economists wouldn’t bother looking at employment levels in the aggregate like NELP did for the entire labor market, but would look at the labor markets where we could expect to find negative employment effects of minimum wage hikes, such as the labor market for unskilled or limited-experience employees. As an example, if NELP were to find a 1 percent raw increase in total U.S. payroll employment following a minimum wage hike, that overall increase could have masked a decline in employment for teenage workers, those who would be most affected by the minimum wage.

    Low-skilled workers may experience other negative employment effects such as reductions in work hours and reductions in non-wage benefits and job attributes.

    A complete and fully nuanced, serious economic analysis of the minimum wage would also consider all of the possible negative effects on low-skilled workers following minimum wage hikes. Finding that employment levels have increased following minimum wage hikes doesn’t necessarily mean that low-skilled workers haven’t experienced other negative employment effects that would include: a) reductions in work hours and b) reductions in non-wage benefits and job attributes that make low-skilled workers worse off.

    From a practical business standpoint and from economic theory, we would expect to find a stronger negative correlation between minimum wage increases and work hours than employment levels. When businesses budget their labor costs and schedule staffing levels to manage those costs, employers are more concerned about the number of hours their employees are scheduled to work during a given period than the number of workers employed at that business.

    READ MORE: Column: Why raising the minimum wage is good economics

    And when firms are forced to respond to an increase in the minimum wage, those businesses would likely first consider adjusting (reducing) the number of work hours scheduled to contain costs before they would adjust (reduce) the number of workers. The negative employment effects of an increase in the minimum wage would tend to show up more as a reduction in the number of hours of low-skill labor demanded by employers rather than a reduction in the number of low-skilled workers employed.

    Further, businesses focused on the bottom line are more concerned about total worker compensation than just the monetary component of that compensation. If the monetary component of unskilled employee compensation increases, as it does following increases in the minimum wage, a nuanced economic analysis would correctly predict that adjustments would be made to the non-wage fringe benefits provided by employers. To the extent that increases in the monetary minimum wage are offset by employers reducing the non-wage fringe benefits, even low-skilled workers who remain employed will not necessarily be better off from a minimum wage hike. Those workers’ total compensation could stay the same or maybe even be reduced if the reductions in non-wage fringe benefits more than offset the artificial increase in monetary wages.

    Minimum wage advocates must surely also recognize that before any American worker can get a really good job, he or she needs an important first job. And those first jobs are almost always entry-level jobs that will start to disappear if the federal minimum wage is increased by 107 percent to $15 an hour by government fiat.

    Again these are nuances — reductions in work hours and reductions in non-wage fringe benefits — that economists consider when trying to asses all of the negative effects of higher mandated wages and are nuances not considered by NELP or Hanauer.

    To summarize, America’s “worst minimum wage pundit” uses the most un-nuanced analysis of the effects of minimum wage hikes to produce what might be the most un-nuanced column on the minimum wage you’ll ever see. Hanauer’s blanket condemnation of economists who are correctly skeptical about the government’s ability to improve economic conditions with price controls is unwarranted.

    The history of government price controls has a very poor track record with thousands of examples of economic distortions and suffering following government-imposed price ceilings and price floors. One only need look south to Venezuela to see an economy today in total collapse, in large part because of government price controls on food and other consumer staples that are not unlike a $15 an hour minimum wage.

    READ MORE: Will the new overtime regulations help or hurt the economy?

    Even minimum wage activists like Hanauer would have to agree that what we want is for as many Americans as possible to have good jobs, jobs that pay well and allow workers to live a good life. Minimum wage advocates must surely also recognize that before any American worker can get a really good job, he or she needs an important first job. And those first jobs are almost always entry-level jobs that will start to disappear if the federal minimum wage is increased by 107 percent to $15 an hour by government fiat.

    To maximize entry-level jobs, economic science tells us that we should allow market forces, not government bureaucrats and politicians, to determine wages in the labor market.

    Remember that the real minimum wage is always zero, because that’s the wage that hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of workers will receive following an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, because they will either lose their jobs or fail to find jobs when they enter the labor force. (See Congressional Budget Office report for data.) That’s a very cruel public policy, and I and many economists reject that form of cruelty as a progressive “scam” — and it’s a “scam” that would inflict the most harm on the most vulnerable among us.

    The most disadvantaged Americans don’t need the alleged compassion of minimum wage advocates as much as they need entry-level jobs. And to maximize entry-level jobs, economic science tells us that we should allow market forces, not government bureaucrats and politicians, to determine wages in the labor market.

    The post Column: $15 minimum wage won’t hurt workers? Don’t take it seriously appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now to another in our Brief But Spectacular series, where we ask interesting people to share their passions.

    Tonight, casting director David Rubin, who’s more than a hundred film credits.

    DAVID RUBIN, Casting Director: The most important thing for an actor to bring to the table is themselves, their own idiosyncrasy. And so many actors get preoccupied with what they think the filmmaker is looking for. And, frankly, what we’re looking for is them.

    One of my first jobs was working on the production staff of “Saturday Night Live.” I was a lowly production assistant. It was the last two seasons of the original cast, John Belushi, and Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin. It was insane.

    During my last season, it was actually announced that the show would not continue. So, we all kind of scrambled for work. And I happened to meet the head of casting at NBC. She was looking for an assistant. She hired me. It was kismet.

    When I first read a screenplay, there are sometimes very specific descriptions of the characters. And the first thing that I do is forget those descriptions, because writers write very specifically, not for the casting director or not for the director, but for the studio executive or the financier.

    When you read in a script “doctor 40s,” the temptation on the part of the filmmaker might be just to assume that it was a white male in their 40s or 50s. Why couldn’t it be an Asian person in their 30s? Why couldn’t it be a little person? Why couldn’t it be a Latino?

    Gender diversity, racial diversity, all of those things come into play in a conversation with a filmmaker when you are bringing in different approaches to a particular character.

    There are several pioneers in casting that opened the doors to the process in general. And this really happened after the demise of the studio system, when studios no longer had actors under contract. They needed people who were going to direct the casting process.

    Lynn Stalmaster was the first independent casting director in motion pictures, who cast films like “West Side Story” and “The Graduate.” They had searched far and wide before Dustin Hoffman, from relative obscurity, got that role.

    Marion Dougherty in New York was doing the same groundbreaking work. It was about casting people for their idiosyncrasy.

    The thing that keeps this job fresh is the variety. I have cast over a hundred motion pictures. When I look at my resume, I get a little tired.

    Just like an actor doesn’t want to be typecast, I don’t want to be typecast in casting. So, on the wall of my office, there’s a poster of “The English Patient” very near a poster of “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.”

    There are some times when an actor comes in, and they give what they think is a botched audition, they go off on their lines, something goes wrong in the scene. And often those are the most illuminating additions to me, those kind of organic moments where an actor connects with a character, even though they may not even realize that they are doing it.

    My name is David Rubin, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on casting.

    The post This casting director likes you for your idiosyncrasies appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A rainbow flag flies with the Union flag above British Cabinet Offices. Photo by Neil Hall/Reuters

    A rainbow flag flies with the Union flag above British Cabinet Offices. Photo by Neil Hall/Reuters

    Thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted under Britain’s now-defunct sexual offense laws will be posthumously pardoned.

    The Ministry of Justice announced the proposed amendment Thursday that would posthumously pardon thousands convicted under those outdated laws. The so-called “Turing’s Law” would also allow those who are living to apply to have their names removed from criminal records.

    Lord John Sharkey, the man behind the amendment, called the development “momentous” and said that of the 65,000 men convicted under the laws, 15,000 are still alive, BBC reported.

    The UK justice minister also hailed the proposal.

    “It is hugely important that we pardon people convicted of historical sexual offences who would be innocent of any crime today,” Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said in a statement.

    The pardon plan has been named after the British mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turing, who played a crucial role in cracking Nazi Germany’s Enigma code, greatly helping the Allies reduce casualties and accelerate the end of the war.

    In 1952, Turing was prosecuted for homosexual acts and convicted of gross indecency. He underwent chemical castration to avoid prison and committed suicide in 1954 at the age of 41.

    Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a royal pardon in 2013, and his story was dramatized in the 2014 film “The Imitation Game.”

    [Watch Video]

    The 2015 film “The Imitation Game” tells the story of British mathematician Alan Turing, whose early computer helped the allies win World War II. But the movie also brings attention to the anti-sodomy laws that drove Turing to suicide. Jeffrey Brown speaks with Peter Tatchell of the Peter Tatchell Foundation about getting justice for others convicted under the same laws.

    Homosexual acts were not decriminalized in England and Wales until 1967. The laws were changed in Scotland in 1980 and in Northern Ireland two years later.

    Other members of Parliament are backing a more expansive measure that would not require people to apply for the pardon. The UK justice minister said he is not supporting that idea.

    “A blanket pardon, without the detailed investigations carried out by the Home Office under the disregard process, could see people guilty of an offence which is still a crime today claiming to be pardoned,” Gyimah said in a statement.

    The Ministry of Justice noted that people convicted of sexual acts that were non-consensual or with an underage person would not be pardoned.

    But some who could be pardoned under the amendment reject the offer.

    George Montague, convicted of gross indecency with another man in 1974, told BBC Newsnight that he wants an apology, not a pardon.

    “To accept a pardon means you accept that you were guilty. I was not guilty of anything. I was only guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.

    READ MORE: 8 things you didn’t know about Alan Turing

    The post ‘Turing’s Law’ will pardon thousands of men convicted in UK for being gay appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Smoke is released into the sky at a refinery in Wilmington, California March 24, 2012. Picture taken March 24, 2012. REUTERS/Bret Hartman (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENERGY ENVIRONMENT BUSINESS INDUSTRIAL COMMODITIES) - RTR2ZXLT

    Washington state’s Initiative 732 proposes imposing a tax on carbon emissions. The initiative has gained support from unlikely places, including Republican economist Greg Mankiw. Photo by Bret Hartman/Reuters

    Editor’s Note: In April, Making Sen$e reported on Initiative 732, which proposes imposing a tax on carbon emissions in Washington state. The carbon tax would be revenue-neutral. That is, the revenue from the tax on carbon emissions would go to reduce other taxes in the state — most notably, the sales tax and the business tax. The initiative has gained support from unlikely places, chief among them, Gregory Mankiw, a conservative economist and former head of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers. Below, Mankiw explains why he and other economists of different political persuasions support the carbon tax and why certain environmental groups don’t.

    Ahead of the Nov. 8 vote, the future of the initiative is uncertain — the most recent poll showed 42 percent in favor and 37 percent against. For more on the topic, tune in to tonight’s Making Sen$e report, which airs every Thursday on the PBS NewsHour. The following text has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

    — Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor

    GREGORY MANKIW: The first principle of economics is that people respond to incentives. What carbon tax tries to do is try to harness that principle to get people to reduce their carbon footprint.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And the incentive is…

    GREGORY MANKIW: Any time you put carbon in the atmosphere, you’re going to pay a price for it. So if you drive your car a little bit more, you’re going to pay a little bit more for that. If you use a little more electricity generated by coal, you’re going to pay a price for that. So what we want to do is we want to give people price incentives to reduce the amount of carbon they emit into the atmosphere.

    READ MORE: Washington state’s carbon-tax plan, cartoonified

    PAUL SOLMAN: And carbon is what economists call a negative externality, right?

    GREGORY MANKIW: That’s right. Scientists tell us that carbon released into the atmosphere has adverse effects on the climate. That is a classic example of a negative externality, meaning a side effect associated with a certain form of economic activity. What economists want to do is they want to internalize the externality. That means they want people to pay for the adverse side effects. When you have a side effect on somebody else, you pay for it, so you take that into account when you make your day-to-day decisions.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So if I use energy that comes from some source that generates carbon — a bad thing — you want me to pay for the bad and you do that by imposing a tax.

    “When you go buy a good, you pay for the resources that go into producing that good….When you emit carbon, you are basically using up a resource, a valuable social resource.”

    GREGORY MANKIW: Exactly. When you go buy a good, you pay for the resources that go into producing that good. So if something’s made out of metal, you pay for the metal indirectly through the price of that product. When you emit carbon, you are basically using up a resource, a valuable social resource, which is the atmosphere, and what we want you to do is to pay for that resource you use up when you are buying that high carbon-intensive product.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So a carbon tax seems to be a good thing. Why is there so much opposition to it?

    GREGORY MANKIW: Well, there are some people who don’t believe that climate change is real. But scientists tell us that is not the case, so I take the scientists at their word. Some people are afraid that if we have a carbon tax, people are going to use it as an excuse for more taxes and bigger government. And that doesn’t have to be the case. A carbon tax can be revenue neutral, meaning that you impose a carbon tax on carbon-intensive goods and use that tax revenue to refund it by reducing other taxes or by giving people a carbon dividend.

    “I view this as a conservative approach to dealing with climate change.”

    PAUL SOLMAN: And that’s how the referendum in Washington state is written, so that it’s revenue neutral?

    GREGORY MANKIW: That’s right. They’re going to impose a tax on carbon, and they’re going to get more money from that, and they’re going to reduce other taxes, largely the sales tax. So you will pay more when you buy a carbon-intensive good, but you will pay less when you buy lots of other goods that aren’t carbon intensive, because the sales tax will have gone down.

    PAUL SOLMAN: There’s an argument as to whether that’s going to generate or decrease economic activity in general, right?

    GREGORY MANKIW: Well, there is some debate about that, and what it’s going to really do is shift economic activity away from high carbon-intensive activities towards low carbon-intensive activities. As long as it’s revenue neutral or approximately so, it shouldn’t have an overall macroeconomic impact. It’s going to change the composition of what we’re doing away from stuff that’s harming the environment towards stuff that’s cleaner.

    PAUL SOLMAN: You are a Republican, head of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, and you’re in favor of this, while almost every environmental group is against it. How can that be?

    GREGORY MANKIW: One reason I’m in favor of a carbon tax, even though I view myself as a conservative, is that I view this as a conservative approach to dealing with climate change. The alternative to giving the people the right incentives and letting them make free choices is to regulate their behavior and that’s what we’ve been doing to a large extent for a variety of pro-environmental regulations. If we give people the right incentive with the carbon tax, then a lot of those regulations will become unnecessary because people are automatically incentivized to do the right thing.

    “If we give people the right incentive with the carbon tax, then a lot of those regulations will become unnecessary because people are automatically incentivized to do the right thing.”

    Now the reason that some of the environmental left is opposed to this is that they don’t like the fact that it is revenue neutral. Some people see this carbon tax as a way to fund projects that they would like to have funded, so they see it as one vehicle for larger government. My perspective, I view this as a way to clean up the environment without expanding government by shifting from one kind of tax to another kind of tax.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So you’re not surprised that environmental groups are against this?

    GREGORY MANKIW: I am somewhat surprised because I think if their main interest is cleaning up the environment, this is the right thing to do. I think economists from right, left and the center view carbon taxes as the most effective policy for reducing carbon emissions, so therefore, I think anyone worried about climate change should gravitate towards this.

    The post Why this conservative economist supports a carbon tax in Washington appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    PHOENIX — Donald Trump’s utterance of “bad hombres” offended some of the millions of people watching the final presidential debate, who called it racially divisive.

    Within minutes of using the phrase Wednesday evening, the Republican presidential nominee was getting a lashing about his mishmash of English and Spanish.

    “We have some bad hombres here, and we’re gonna get ’em out,” said Trump, whose rise to the party nomination was fueled in part by his plan to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. He blamed these “hombres,” (OHM-brays) Spanish for men, for drug epidemics around the U.S.

    Trump has worked to broaden his appeal to Hispanics, promising a better life if he’s president.

    But to some voters, it’s a lost cause.

    Taylor Brandreth watched the debate while visiting in Bradenton, Florida. He backed Trump in the primary in Virginia, where he works as a government consultant, but that was mainly to block Sen. Marco Rubio from clinching the GOP nomination. Now he’s a Hillary Clinton supporter, and it’s largely because of what he considers Trump’s racially divisive tactics, including the use of “Spanglish.”

    “I speak Spanish fluently. I have to honestly say, listening to it, my jaw just instantly dropped because it was like a taunt,” said Brandreth, 27. “There was nothing good in the context. It was like, ‘Let me say something awful and racist and let me butcher this other language while I’m doing it.'”

    Alanna Conti, a 25-year-old graphic designer who watched the debate at home in rural Sweet Valley, Pennsylvania, said she wanted to hear about policy and not jabs by the candidates. On the “bad hombres” comment, she said it shows Trump “knows how to be himself.”

    Retired University of Florida professor Gerald Murray, who has done anthropological studies in the Dominican Republic and Haiti and wrote a paper on “Spanglish,” said Trump borrowed a word from another language — but maybe not one many people recognize.

    “Technically, it’s not Spanglish,” Murray said. “When you use the word hombre, you’re using it to convey some emotional connotation” — often that of a tough guy.

    Video by PBS NewsHour

    “Bad hombres” quickly began trending Wednesday on Twitter.

    Political commentator Ana Navarro, a Republican who often criticizes Trump, offered a Spanish lesson via the social media outlet. To some, it sounded like Trump said “bad hambres” (AHM-brays).

    “Trump said some stupidity re ‘Bad hombres’: Spanish lesson 101: hombre=man; hambre=hunger; hombro=shoulder; ombre=Kardashian hair color,” Navarro said.

    At a Mexico City barbecue restaurant, an assortment of Mexicans and expats guffawed at “bad hombres.”

    “I think the way that Trump has talked about Mexicans from the start of the campaign is to call them rapists, criminals, he hasn’t changed,” Santiago Betancourt said at Pinche Gringo BBQ, where about 200 people gathered to watch the debate. “Trump maybe echoes or uses arguments that exist among an American class that he’s betting can make him president. I don’t think it’s a presidential discourse.”

    For others, “bad hombres” was plain confusing.

    Take Hussein Kazwini, a 22-year-old community college student who watched in Toledo, Ohio. He’s a first-generation American whose parents came to the United States from Lebanon 30 years ago. In November, he’ll vote in his first presidential election.

    “What does that even mean?” Kazwini said. “I guess he’s trying to send them a direct message.”

    Causey reported from Phoenix. Associated Press writers Teresa DeMiguel in Mexico City, John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio, and Michael Rubinkam in Sweet Valley, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.

    READ MORE: Top 6 takeaways from the final presidential debate

    The post To some, Trump’s ‘bad hombres’ is much more than a botched Spanish word appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: One subject that’s gotten less attention in the national election is climate change, but there is a battle over a carbon tax ballot initiative in Washington state next month. It would be the first tax of its kind in the country.

    Economics correspondent Paul Solman has the story for his weekly series, Making Sense.

    YORAM BAUMAN, Carbon Washington: You might be an economist if you don’t read human interest stories because they don’t interest you.


    PAUL SOLMAN: At Seattle’s Museum of Flight earlier this year, Climate Night, headlining, Yoram Bauman, who claims, with a straight face, that he’s the world’s first and only economic comic.

    YORAM BAUMAN: You might be an economist if you have ever gone into a bank or other financial institution in the hopes of getting a date.


    YORAM BAUMAN: If you adamantly refuse to sell your children because you think they will be worth more later.


    PAUL SOLMAN: But when we visited Seattle in April, Bauman had begun a dead serious fight, to combat climate change in his home state of Washington by imposing a tax on carbon emissions. He’d founded the grassroots group Carbon Washington to put the issue to voters.

    MAN: Initiative 732, it’s going to be on the November ballot.

    MAN: I-732 works by charging polluters with a carbon fee, which lowers pollution.

    WOMAN: And then the revenue that is created will go to reducing other taxes in the state.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Making the carbon tax, starting at $25 per ton of CO2, about 25 cents per gallon of gasoline, revenue-neutral.

    YORAM BAUMAN: The revenue from the carbon tax goes to cut existing taxes. Most of it goes to cut the state sales tax by a full percentage point.

    Most households are going to pay a few hundred dollars a year more for fossil fuels and a few hundred dollars a year less for everything else.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Everyone will pay the carbon tax, says Bauman. Everyone gets the sales tax cut. But two groups get a bonus, the first, working families, who’d be hardest hit by a rise in energy prices.

    YORAM BAUMAN: It’s going to provide up to $1,500 a year for 400,000 working families in Washington state.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Families like Jason Puracal’s.

    JASON PURACAL, Carbon Washington: Yes, I will pay a little bit more in fossil fuel use. However, the sales tax drop of 1 percent will offset that. And so I shouldn’t see a change in my spending overall.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In addition, businesses whose higher energy costs would make them uncompetitive with rivals elsewhere will have the state business tax eliminated.

    Still not enough for Ian Tolleson, though, who lobbies for food processors in the Pacific Northwest.

    IAN TOLLESON, Northwest Food Processors Association: We heat things, we cut things, we wash, and this is all for food safety. And that requires a lot of energy, tax, tax, tax all through the supply chain. And what that does, our products are now more expensive on the shelf. And how can we compete with those producers that wouldn’t have this tax?

    PAUL SOLMAN: We met up with Tolleson at Seattle’s Pike Place Market, which featured, among other attractions, the world’s presumably first and only Hula-Hoop guitar-on-chin-balancing busker.

    Moreover, says Tolleson:

    IAN TOLLESON: This is a global phenomenon, and it needs a global solution. Is it fair to put it on the back of Washington employers and families?

    PAUL SOLMAN: But what really struck us back in the spring, when we started covering this story, was opposition to I-732 from people who identify as environmentalists, like union president Jeff Johnson.

    JEFF JOHNSON: During the winter, we have been struck with repeated floods and mudslides. In the summer, we have droughts and forest fires. Our shellfish industry has left the state and gone to Hawaii because the acid levels in the ocean has risen so much.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But doesn’t that mean that you should embrace anything that would help climate change and counteract it?

    JEFF JOHNSON: No. No, it doesn’t. We have got an energy-intensive company, Kaiser Aluminum, out in Spokane, eastern side of our state. It’s the most efficient aluminum rolling mill in the world, right? With just a carbon price, they become less competitive with aluminum makers in other parts of the states, in other parts of the world.

    PAUL SOLMAN: OK, maybe a union leader, however green, has to worry, first and forever, about jobs, even if it means an unusual alliance with business.

    But then we met Jill Mangaliman.

    What does that shirt say?

    JILL MANGALIMAN, Executive Director, Got Green: Oh, yes, so this is where — we’re Got Green. We are a community-based organization in South Seattle led by people of color.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But why would a militant environmental group oppose a carbon tax?

    JILL MANGALIMAN: Without any kind of targeted revenue, business can continue as usual, and that’s not what we want.

    PAUL SOLMAN: More targeted revenue than the $1,500-a-year subsidy to her constituents and for local groups like Got Green.

    Meanwhile, it was also surprising to find out who was popping up in support, right-wing policy lobbyist Todd Myers, for instance.

    TODD MYERS: Anything that moves environmental policy away from regulation, which tends to be very expensive and ineffective, toward a personal incentive, which is more effective, is a good thing.

    PAUL SOLMAN: A good thing, agrees Jason Puracal, who happens to be an ardent environmentalist.

    JASON PURACAL, I-732 Supporter: It’s great to put a price on carbon and try to move us away from fossil fuels, but how do we do so in a way that’s equitable for all?

    PAUL SOLMAN: And that question may be why, in the six months since our report aired, polls have remained evenly split, the pro and con bedfellows as odd as ever.

    Indeed, the only major environmental group to back the initiative is the Audubon Society. Among those who do not, the national Sierra Club, based in California, which overruled local Washington state members to declare that the Sierra Club doesn’t support I-732.

    Aren’t you at all concerned that, if this initiative fails, in part because you folks don’t support it, it will set back the climate change movement?

    MICHAEL BRUNE, Executive Director, Sierra Club: No, not at all. We believe that there’s a better way that helps us get off fossil fuels, but accelerates a transition to clean energy.

    PAUL SOLMAN: That better way, says executive director Mike Brune, would involve raising more money than a revenue-neutral tax, and funneling it to clean energy projects and to those who’d suffer from higher energy prices.

    MICHAEL BRUNE: What we are looking for is a set of policies that will simultaneously put a price on carbon, so that the economy shifts towards good family-sustaining jobs in the clean energy sector, and is directing funds towards low-income communities, communities of color, the communities that have the highest level of pollution in the state.

    PAUL SOLMAN: As for the lack of new investment money for clean energy, well, that’s just why Greg Mankiw, former head of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, finds a revenue-neutral carbon tax so appealing.

    GREGORY MANKIW, Economist: The first principle of economics is that people respond to incentives. And what a carbon tax tries to do is tries to harness that principle to get people to reduce their carbon footprint.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But there is a case to be made, isn’t there, that we ought to invest in clean energy, and here’s a revenue source we can use to make those investments?

    GREGORY MANKIW: If you give people the right incentives, then the private sector will be smart enough to make the right investments.

    MICHAEL BRUNE: Putting a price on carbon can be great policy. But that’s not all that’s needed. We need to find a way to address the constituencies in a particular state.

    PAUL SOLMAN: How do you respond to the criticism that you’re essentially catering to certain constituencies here, rather than independently analyzing?

    MICHAEL BRUNE: That seems a little silly. I think it’s fair to say that two of the biggest challenges we face in this country are climate change and economic inequality. If we pit one of those challenges against the other, neither will be successful.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But will anything be successful, asks Greg Mankiw, if we try to address both of those and more in one package?

    GREGORY MANKIW: People on the left say they want to combine a carbon tax with all their pro-spending agenda. Someone on the far right could say, gee, I love a carbon tax, as long as we use it to reduce the estate tax.

    So, what I-732 tries to do is, it tries to frame the issue relatively narrowly, so we can all come together and reach a consensus on this, rather than bundling it together with a lot of extraneous issues, perhaps important issues, but are extraneous to the issue of putting a price on carbon.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Last word goes to Yoram Bauman, the world’s foremost stand-up economist, and, given his long environmental track record, perhaps its greenest.

    YORAM BAUMAN: One of the things that I love about this policy is that it does have potential for bipartisan support. It’s not big government. It’s not smaller government. It’s just, how do we make the tax system fairer and more sustainable? That’s a powerful message that hopefully we can take around the country.

    PAUL SOLMAN: How the voters of Washington state respond to the message will be known on November 8.

    This is “NewsHour” economics correspondent Paul Solman.

    The post Pay for carbon pollution? Why some environmentalists don’t support this state tax appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    An Iraqi special forces soldier fires an RPG during clashes with Islamic States fighters in Bartella, east of Mosul, Iraq October 20, 2016.  REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX2PQI0

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The battle for Mosul is the most important of the two-year campaign against ISIS in Iraq, and a defeat there would be a crippling setback for the extremists.

    We turn now to a man with detailed knowledge of the city and its ethnic and sectarian crosscurrents. Retired General David Petraeus was in charge of the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul in 2003. He went on to command the entire multinational force in Iraq and also served as the top general for U.S. Central Command. He also ran NATO and American operations in Afghanistan. And, from 2011 to 2012, he served as director of the CIA.

    He joins me now from New York.

    General Petraeus, thank you for being with us.

    GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, Former Commander, Multi-National Force Iraq: Good to be with you, Judy. Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, last night at the debate, Donald Trump again criticized the Obama administration for telegraphing ahead of time the plan to go into Mosul.

    Does Donald Trump have a point about not letting the enemy know what you’re going to do?

    GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: What is going on here is, in a sense, a distinction between so-called strategic surprise, which is not possible when you’re moving tens of thousands of troops and thousands of vehicles and logistics and everything else, and then tactical surprise, which I think probably was achieved to some degree when the Iraqi forces launched the original operation several days ago, and actually has continued, as they have opened new offensives, if you will, from the north and the northeast, in addition to those in the initial day, which came from the south and from the southeast and east.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see the challenges that the Iraqi military and its allies, including the U.S., face in Mosul?

    You know that area well. Clearly, it’s changed since the takeover by ISIS. But what do you think they’re confronting?

    GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: Well, first, of course, they’re confronting what would be a tough fight in a city that’s several times larger than any that they have cleared so far over the course of the last two years, since we helped them reconstitute their forces, reequip, and retrain and remand them, and then as we have enabled them so impressively, frankly, with this armada of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, precision-strike assets and intelligence fusion, as well as obviously advising and assisting them.

    And they will encounter a tough, tough city fight. Urban operations are inherently difficult. The enemy has been there for a couple of years, has dug tunnel systems, trenches filled with oil that they will torch to try to obscure our optics. They will use snipers. And every single house, every single neighborhood has to be cleared.

    And this is a population that used to be, in our day, when I was privileged to command the 101st Airborne Division, in Mosul and Nineveh province, which Mosul Islamist capital, some two million people. It’s down probably to about 1.2 million now.

    Some of those will leave and go to the refugees centers that have been set up to take care of them during the course of the battle. But many will also stay. And some will be trapped and kept there by the Islamic State, used essentially as human shields, announcement complicating factor for the Iraqi security forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and indeed for our elements that are supporting them in this fight.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And I do want to ask you about the challenges that the Iraqis face even assuming Mosul is cleared of ISIS.

    But, first, are you confident that they will be able to get ISIS out of Mosul? And do you think it could take as long as a year, which the head of Central Command has said that it might?

    GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: No, I think — with respect, I think he said it could take months, I think. Understandably, he’s giving a bit of the worst-case analysis.

    It’s already moving faster than most predicted. I have said that, look, the Islamic State fighters that are left in Mosul, maybe as many as 5,000 or 6,000, they realize that they are dead men walking. There’s no question that the Iraqi security forces, with all of the enablers that we’re providing them, are going to clear that city. That’s not in question.

    The only question is, how long do the Islamic State fighters really put up resistance? There are reports already of substantial numbers of deserters, many of whom have been executed, and of leaders trying to leave the city as well.

    In fact, one of the big questions that is out there right now is, where is Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State? Is he trapped there with one of his explosives experts, or did he actually escape to the west and try to get back across the border to Syria?

    But, again, no question that the Iraqi security forces will prevail. The bigger question is actually the battle after this. And I have made clear in writing a couple of months ago, for example, that the most complex human terrain in all of Iraq is to be found in Mosul and the province of which it is a capital, Nineveh, biblical Nineveh.

    There are Sunni Arabs in the majority, but there are also pockets of Shia Arabs. There are Turkmen, Sunni as well as Shia. There are Kurds, and they come from several political parties that they’re not always in agreement with each other. There are sizable numbers of Christians that were treated horribly under the Islamic State and want to get back to their areas. There are Yazidis. There are Shabak.

    And all of these want to get back from whence they came, and they want to play a part in governance that follows. And all will want to be represented and want that government to be responsive to them and guarantee their minority rights, if they’re not the Sunni Arabs, in addition to, of course, the Sunni Arab majority rule.

    This is going to be very, very difficult. We did achieve it early on in 2003, when I was privileged to command there. But we had 28,000 great American soldiers. We had 254 helicopters. And I had the authority of being an occupying commander under the Geneva Convention, and didn’t hesitate, frankly, to use that authority.

    There’s no equivalent power there at this point in time. So, this is going to take intense politics, intense negotiations and a lot of individuals undoubtedly demonstrating the full range of emotions along the way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, are you confident that the current Iraqi government is prepared to do what’s necessary to make sure that Mosul is stable going forward?

    GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: I’m confident that they will do everything they possibly can.

    The question is whether, frankly, that is going to be enough. There are going to be enormous grievances. There will be scores that some want to settle. Even within the sectarian groupings and ethnic groupings, there will be squabbles and disputes.

    Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi knows that the government has to be inclusive. He knows that, for Iraq writ large, the Sunni Arabs have to be brought back into the fabric of society, as we were able to do during the surge.

    One of the huge accomplishments, which sadly was undone some three-and-a-half years after the end of the surge by the previous prime minister, who took highly sectarian actions that inflamed that part of the population, allowed the Islamic State to get back up off its stomach, and indeed created fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism.

    The people now have once again been acquainted with that form of extremism. They want nothing of it. The people are actually reported rising up against the Islamic State in some of the villages outside Mosul, and undoubtedly will do that in some Mosul neighborhoods as well.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And just quickly, finally, role for the U.S. in all of this is? Is it essential that the U.S. have a role here or not?

    GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: It is essential that the U.S. has a role.

    And I can assure you that the new ambassador there, the new commander on the ground, both experienced Iraq hands, both have multiple tours there in past years, that they are keenly aware that they have to engage in that, as is the special presidential enjoy, Brett McGurk, who has spent an enormous amount of time in Baghdad and Irbil up in the Kurdish regional government capital, trying to help foster all of this.

    But that’s the extent of what we can do. We can encourage, we can nudge, we can cajole. We can’t force. And it is going to have to be Iraqis at the end of the day that come together, recognizing that, if they cannot, fertile fields will be planted for the planting of the seeds of ISIS 3.0, of further extremism in Iraq.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: General David Petraeus, we thank you very much.

    GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: Great to be back with you, Judy. Thank you.

    The post Petraeus says there’s a bigger challenge to come once Iraq retakes Mosul from ISIS appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, this was your assignment for today, but since the election is so close, we have got you working on lots of different things.

    And, as part of our Chasing the Dream series, you just recently went out to rural North Carolina.

    Chasing the Dream

    LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right.

    And out there, we found a large group of people and a very large issue that the truth is the campaigns have nearly ignored.

    It is a place rich in landscapes and in spirit, fiercely proud of its Appalachian heritage. But amid that beauty and strength, the towns of Western North Carolina are struggling, and many feel no one is listening.

    MARK TRUDELL, North Carolina: I don’t have a savings. It is pretty much paycheck to paycheck.

    DARLA DIETZ, North Carolina And I don’t think politicians realize how many of us. This is the face of poverty.

    LESLIE DIETZ: They don’t understand that there are people that actually try to get by and honestly make a living, and they automatically assume the worst.

    LISA DESJARDINS: It’s a conversation happening far outside of Washington.

    As the economy slowly improves in many places, here in Wilkes County, at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, by many accounts, times are getting tougher. Wilkes saw median income plunge 30 percent since the year 2000 down to $33,000 per household. That’s the second steepest drop in wealth in the nation.

    NARRATOR: Every day is Saturday in these thriving mountain towns.

    LISA DESJARDINS: This was Wilkesboro, the county seat, in 1948, then a prosperous mountain town with bustling shops, a booming furniture industry and thriving agriculture.

    But now 23.4 percent of people here live in poverty. That’s well above the national rate of 14.5 percent. What does poverty mean? An individual making just under $12,000 a year. Here, the poultry industry is one of the few remaining large employers. Tyson Foods employs 2,600 people across the county.

    Mark Trudell welcomed us to his new home, a trailer he and his wife, Peggy (ph), just moved into and are in the process of fixing up.

    MARK TRUDELL: We shop at the thrift stores, the habitat restore, and, if it’s broke, I fix it.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Mark works stocking shelves at a grocery store for minimum wage, $7.25 an hour. As his kitchen shows, he is highly organized. But he has other skills, lighting and plumbing. He helps his neighbors for free, but he has little security for himself.

    MARK TRUDELL: I have never ever, ever in my life drawn unemployment, even though I was entitled to it, I paid into it.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Fifty-year-old Darla Dietz lives in a home she rents with her husband, Terry (ph). Terry is 52 years old, but a degenerative brain disease is eroding his mind now to the capacity of a 3-year-old. That makes Darla his full-time caregiver, bathing him, making his meals, constantly watching him.

    DARLA DIETZ: He doesn’t know how many children we have, their ages. It’s very hard when you have a history with somebody for so long, and yet you’re the only with the memories.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The couple live off Terry’s disability check, $1,234 a month.

    DARLA DIETZ: I’m out of benefits right now, so, this week, it’s go to a food pantry. It’s hope I sell a pair of earrings. It’s getting with my daughter-in-law. Hey, what do you have? What do you have? And that’s life.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The earrings and jewelry Darla sells sometimes determine if she will have gas for the car or diapers for her husband.

    Getting to our next stop was a challenge up a steep muddy clay road to Darla’s daughter-in-law’s house. Leslie Dietz lives with her husband and three children in her mother’s trailer.

    LESLIE DIETZ: My husband just started working again. My mom, of course, has Social Security. She’s got COPD. This is her property, so, luckily, we have my mom. It’s been since, I think, last year that he was working. So, it’s paycheck to paycheck. And there are times when he works, when he doesn’t work, because, like I said, we get snowed in, rained in, it’s a hard place to be at.

    LISA DESJARDINS: In rural America, lack of transportation, health care needs and feeling ignored by politicians are all reasons the poor vote less and have less power.

    GENE NICHOL, University of North Carolina School of Law: If we had a bunch of low-income Americans in this room, they would say, why bother to vote? They would say, with real justice, neither of these parties pays any attention to the likes of me. I’m not going to bother with politics because politics doesn’t do me any good.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Gene Nichol is a law professor and poverty expert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    GENE NICHOL: In the United States, with the system we have, it’s a little closer to $1 one vote than it is to one person one vote. So, low-income people are already disadvantaged in that skewed system.

    And then low-income people frequently have that tradition of participating less often, less vigorously.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The gap between voters and nonvoters breaks down strongly along class lines. In the 2012 presidential election, 80.2 percent of those making more than $150,000 voted, but only 46.9 percent of those making less than $10,000 voted.

    We asked Darla, Leslie, and Mark if they think candidates are taking them into consideration this election year.

    DARLA DIETZ: I don’t think they realize that there’s this class of people who are able-bodied. What I would give for a full-time job and benefits. We typically think of poverty to be a demographic that you normally associate with downtown areas and — but this is it too. And they don’t see that.

    LESLIE DIETZ: I hear one talking about taking care of our children, and I hear one say giving us jobs. Do I think they’re really going to do it? No.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Do you think they’re talking about you?


    MARK TRUDELL: I haven’t heard anything come out of a politician’s mouth that would help us in a very long time.

    I mean, if they came down here and saw how people are actually living in rural America, then maybe they would change it. Maybe they would do something. But the infrastructure of the country is falling apart. And there’s mass amounts of money that could be put in redoing it and giving people work to do it. But they don’t see it. They don’t — they don’t come down here and look at this.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Donald Trump has made campaign stops in rural parts of the country, including one in nearby Statesville, North Carolina, in August. But unlike his rival, Hillary Clinton, he doesn’t have a specific plan to combat rural poverty. She does.

    But neither candidate gives poverty the attention of earlier decades, like 1964, when President Lyndon Johnson went on a poverty tour before launching his war on poverty, or 1968, when then presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy made his own two-day trip to investigate poverty in Appalachia.

    Gene Nichol says Americans have learned to turn their eyes away from poverty.

    GENE NICHOL: We go about our daily lives without thinking about it. Maybe there’s economic hardships, but it’s on the other side of town or the other side of the county, or, here, the other side of state.

    Maybe the hardship is even so pronounced, that it gives the lie to our claims of equal dignity and opportunity. But we never see it.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Mark Trudell hasn’t thought of voting as an opportunity in a long time. But that has changed. He just registered to vote, and plans to cast his first ballot since voting for Ross Perot in 1992.

    Darla Dietz, she’s going to try to make it to a polling place on Election Day, if she can get someone to take care of her husband. And for Leslie Dietz, she says politicians offer her nothing, and she turns to faith instead. We saw her teaching Sunday school, a lesson about biblical leader Moses. For her, it’s a question of morality.

    LESLIE DIETZ: I kind of feel strongly about teaching them in Sunday school, because I can make sure that they know the difference between right and wrong, what’s moral, what’s ethical, you know? And I really don’t want to get involved in something that I think is unethical.

    LISA DESJARDINS: So, she has no plans to vote this November for either candidate running for president.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Lisa Desjardins in Wilkes County, North Carolina.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back to the campaign.

    Late today, Politico is reporting the latest shakeup in Donald Trump’s effort. The national political director is stepping down, citing personal reasons.

    The post In rural North Carolina, voters say their struggles are being ignored appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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