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

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    Kurdish peshmerga forces prepare an anti-tank missile targeting Islamic State facilities in the town of Naweran near Mosul, Iraq. Photo by Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

    Kurdish peshmerga forces prepare an anti-tank missile targeting Islamic State facilities in the town of Naweran near Mosul, Iraq. Photo by Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

    BAGHDAD — U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s push for Iraq to let Turkey play a role in the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group encountered stiff resistance Saturday from Iraq’s prime’s minister, who said his country’s forces will oust the militants from the northern city.

    “I know that the Turks want to participate, we tell them thank you, this is something the Iraqis will handle and the Iraqis will liberate Mosul and the rest of the territories,” Haider al-Abadi said through a translator after meeting with the Pentagon chief.

    Iraqi, Kurdish and other local forces will handle the battle for Mosul, al-Abadi said.

    “We don’t have any problems,” he said, adding that if help is needed, “we will ask for it from Turkey or from other regional countries.”

    One day earlier, Carter met with Turkish leaders in Ankara and told reporters of “an agreement in principle” for Turkey to play a role in the Mosul battle. Carter stressed at the time that any final decision would be up to the Iraqis, while expressing optimism the Turks and Iraqis could settle their differences.

    Carter arrived in Iraq on Saturday to meet with his commanders and assess the progress in the opening days of the Mosul operation.

    His visit came two days after a U.S. service member was killed outside Mosul, underscoring the risk that American troops are taking as they advise Iraqi forces in the fight.

    Carter, who already has been to Iraq twice this year, has overseen the steady increase in the number of U.S. forces deployed to the fight and the growth of America’s effort to train and advise Iraqi troops. In his two earlier visits, Carter announced White House decisions to increase the U.S. troop level there. There were no expectations he would do that again.

    During his stop in Baghdad, Carter met with Lt. Gen. Steve Townsend, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and other leaders.

    Carter’s meetings in Turkey were a sign of moves to ease tensions between Turkey and Iraq over Turkish military operations in northern Iraq. That divide has grown as the operation to retake Mosul began to take shape.

    Some 500 Turkish troops at a base north of Mosul have been training Sunni and Kurdish fighters since last December. The Iraqi government says the troops are there without permission and has called on them to withdraw. Turkey has refused, and insists it will play a role in liberating the city.

    The U.S. service member killed this week was the fourth U.S. combat death in Iraq since the U.S. began military operations against IS in August 2014. It was the first since the Mosul operation began, and the service member was working with Iraqi special forces northeast of Mosul and serving as an explosive ordnance disposal specialist.

    READ NEXT: Photos: Photos: Iraqis flee violence as forces close in on Mosul

    U.S. military officials said a fire at a sulfur plant in northern Iraq set by IS on Thursday was creating a potential breathing hazard for American forces and other troops at a logistical base south of Mosul.

    Two officials said that while the fire was set two days ago in Mishraq, the winds shifted Saturday, sending the smoke south toward Qayara West air field. The base is being used by troops as a staging area for the Mosul operation. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

    They said troops at the base were wearing protective masks, and that air samples were sent to the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency for analysis. Officials estimated it could take two to three days to put the fire out.

    U.S. defense and military officials have said that while the offensive has started well, they expect the complex fight for the city to get more difficult. They said they will be watching to see how aggressively the militants fight and whether more leaders flee the city.

    In what officials thought was an attempted diversion from the Mosul fight, IS attacked targets in and around the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Friday in a coordinated assault that killed at least 14 people.

    A U.S. military officer said IS had set up a multilayered defense in and around Mosul. The outer rings of this defense are what the U.S. military calls disruption zones, where IS fighters are expected to counter the Iraqi advance through the use of mortars and rockets, suicide bombers, road obstacles and car bombs.

    The official said the U.S. does not expect this to include high-intensity force-on-force combat in these outer rings. The expected IS focus will be on disrupting and delaying the Iraqi advance rather than trying to hold ground outside the city. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The U.S. estimates there are between 3,000 and 5,000 IS fighters in the Mosul area, but some leaders probably have fled. A key factor will be how long those midlevel commanders stay or whether they decide to leave.

    The U.S. is uncertain how hard IS will defend Mosul. But once the fighting gets to the center of the city, IS will have certain advantages that are more favorable for the use of snipers and the restriction of vehicle movement.

    More than 4,800 U.S. troops are in Iraq and there are more than 100 U.S. special operations forces operating with Iraqi units. Hundreds more U.S. forces are playing a support role in staging bases farther from the front lines.

    Associated Press National Security Writer Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post Iraqi leader resists U.S. push for Turkish role in Mosul fight appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton finish their third and final 2016 presidential campaign debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 19, 2016. Photo by Mike Blake/REUTERS

    Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton finish their third and final 2016 presidential campaign debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 19, 2016. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Hillary Clinton’s campaign is increasingly preparing for the possibility that Donald Trump may never concede the presidential election should she win, a development that could enormously complicate the crucial early weeks of her preparations to take office.

    Aiming to undermine any argument the Republican nominee may make about a “rigged” election, she hopes to roll up a large electoral vote margin in next month’s election. That could repudiate the New York billionaire’s message and project a governing mandate after the bitter, divisive presidential race.

    Clinton’s team is also keeping a close eye on statements by national Republican leaders, predicting they could play an important role in how Trump’s accusations of electoral fraud might be perceived. That’s according to several Clinton campaign aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss internal strategy.

    Campaign officials stress they are not taking the outcome of the election for granted. But Clinton and her team have begun thinking about how to position their candidate during the postelection period. Long one of the country’s most polarizing political figures, Clinton has begun telling audiences she’ll need their help in healing the country.

    “I’ve got to figure out how we heal these divides,” she said in a Friday interview with a Tampa radio station WBTP. “We’ve got to get together. Maybe that’s a role that is meant to be for my presidency if I’m so fortunate to be there.”

    [Watch Video]

    A refusal by Trump to accept the election results would not only upend a basic tenet of American democracy, but also force Clinton to create a new playbook for handling the transfer of power. And a narrow victory would make it more difficult for her to claim substantial political capital at the start of her administration.

    “Donald is still going to whine if he loses. But if the mandate is clear, I don’t think many people will follow him,” said Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton’s running mate, in an interview Thursday with CNN’s “New Day.”

    While Clinton’s campaign has long focused on maintaining pathways to cross the threshold of 270 electoral votes, it’s now looking to capture an expanded number of states that could also help determine control of the Senate — including Republican-leaning Arizona.

    Polls indicate that Clinton has extended her advantage in several toss-up states during the three fall debates, giving her campaign more confidence. She has maintained stable leads in states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado, as well as a narrow edge in Florida and North Carolina.

    “They’re looking at it like this: We’ve got these doors of opportunity open, let’s make sure we go down all of them,'” said Jeremy Bird, the national field director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign who is helping Clinton’s team.

    If Clinton wins the White House, she will enter as one of the least popular first-term presidents in generations. While Trump has suffered from high unfavorable ratings, particularly among women, Clinton has been hampered by polls showing more than half of the public considers her to be untrustworthy.

    Some Republicans are already preparing for Trump’s defeat, downplaying the significance of a Clinton triumph.

    “On Nov 8, Clinton’s claims of a mandate will fly in the face of reality. She only won by not being Trump,” tweeted conservative writer Erick Erickson. Rolling up a big victory in the Electoral College would let Clinton push back against that notion and assert that voters had rejected what she has called Trump’s mean, divisive message.

    In a race against Trump and independents Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, Clinton may struggle to reach 50 percent of the vote. But competing in states such as Arizona and pushing for Senate victories in Missouri and Indiana might help Democrats in their quest to recapture the Senate and give her a better chance of surpassing Obama’s 332 electoral votes in the 2012 campaign.

    Clinton’s campaign is making a significant push in Arizona, which offers 11 electoral votes and has stayed in the Republican column in all but one presidential election since 1952. Bill Clinton was the last Democrat to carry the state, in 1996.

    First lady Michelle Obama courted voters in Phoenix on Thursday, following appearances by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and the Clintons’ daughter, Chelsea Clinton. The campaign is spending $2 million in advertising and toying with sending Clinton herself there before Election Day.

    “I think it’s clear that Hillary Clinton has a chance to win Arizona just like her husband did 20 years ago,” said Rodd McLeod, a Phoenix-based Democratic strategist who helped Clinton’s campaign during the primary.

    Two other Republican-leaning states could prove tempting.

    Georgia, which has had an influx of diverse voters in the Atlanta area, is considered a future battleground state, with many Democrats comparing it to North Carolina.

    Utah overwhelmingly supported Mitt Romney, the nation’s first Mormon presidential nominee, with more than 72 percent in 2012. But many of the state’s Republicans have abandoned Trump and polls show Clinton and Trump in a tight contest against independent Evan McMullin, a conservative former CIA officer who graduated from Brigham Young University.

    If McMullin captures Utah, he will be the first independent presidential candidate to win electoral votes since George Wallace in 1968.

    Thomas reported from Washington.

    The post Clinton campaign ponders: What if Trump doesn’t concede? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a Bollywood-themed charity concert put on by the Republican Hindu Coalition in Edison, New Jersey, U.S. October 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX2P03U

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a Bollywood-themed charity concert put on by the Republican Hindu Coalition in Edison, New Jersey, on Oct. 15, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    GETTYSBURG, Pa. — Donald Trump on Saturday pledged postelection lawsuits against every woman who has accused him of sexual assault or other inappropriate behavior, and he charged Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic Party with orchestrating the allegations.

    “Every one of these liars will be sued once the election is over,” Trump said, adding, “I look so forward to doing that.”

    Trump’s threat overshadowed his intended focus during a speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, that was billed as a chance for the Republican nominee to lay out his agenda for his first 100 days in office. Trump promised to institute a hiring freeze on federal workers and to label China as a currency manipulator, but he first seized on the chance to once again try to discredit his accusers.

    “Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign,” he said.

    Ten women have publicly accused Trump of unwanted advances or sexual assault in the weeks since a 2005 recording emerged in which the former reality TV star made sexually aggressive comments about women. Trump has denied all allegations while insisting some of the women weren’t attractive enough for him to want to pursue.

    Trump stuck to his belief the election is “rigged against him,” repeated false concerns about widespread voter fraud and insisted Clinton should have been barred from running because of legal questions about her use of a private email system as secretary of state.

    He also complained that a “corrupt” media is fabricating stories in order to make him “look as bad and dangerous as possible.”

    “They’re trying desperately to suppress my vote and the vote of the American people,” he said.

    [Watch Video]

    Amid Trump’s struggles, Clinton has been displaying growing confidence and making direct appeals to voters “who may be reconsidering their support” for Trump following a string of sexual assault allegations and other troubles for the GOP nominee.

    “I know you may still have questions for me,” Clinton said Friday in Cleveland. “I respect that. I want to answer them. I want to earn your vote.”

    Her campaign headquarters in New York was back up and running after an envelope containing a white powdery substance arrived on Friday, triggering an evacuation of the 11th floor. Police said initial tests showed the substance wasn’t harmful, and Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin said four people who received a full medical examination reported no health issues and were released.

    Clinton was also getting a campaign boost on Saturday from singer Katy Perry, who planned to push early voting during an event in Las Vegas. The pop icon has been a vocal Clinton backer and was the featured entertainment at the Democratic National Convention.

    With the debates now behind them, Trump and Clinton have few natural opportunities to significantly alter the course the race, especially with early voting already underway in 34 states. Yet neither candidate wants to overlook any opportunity to secure a few more votes. Though he acknowledged the possibility he may lose, Trump said Friday he would keep up an aggressive schedule in the final days so that he could end the race with no regrets.

    “I will be happy with myself,” Trump said.

    More than 4.4 million votes have already been cast. Data compiled by The Associated Press showed that Clinton appeared to be displaying strength in crucial North Carolina and Florida, and may be building an early vote advantage in Arizona and Colorado.

    Trump appeared to be holding ground in Ohio, Iowa and Georgia, although those states would not be sufficient for him to win the presidency if he trails Clinton in Florida or North Carolina.

    The symbolism of delivering his message in Gettysburg was not lost on Trump’s aides, who said they chose the location because of its historical significance as the site of the battle that is seen as the turning point in the Civil War. It was also meant as a nod to President Abraham Lincoln’s abolition of slavery and his efforts to expand the Republican Party tent.

    Trump has often pointed to Lincoln as he’s tried, with little luck, to expand his appeal with African-American voters and other minority groups. To Trump’s dismay, many of those groups have written off his efforts as condescending and cynical, and he trails Clinton by wide margins among minority voters.

    Pennsylvania has been a hotbed of campaigning by both candidates in the final days of the race. Trump was spending his second consecutive day in the state, while Clinton had two events of her own in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The AP analysis of the most competitive states rates Pennsylvania as leaning Democratic in the presidential race.

    Lederman reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey in White Plains, New York, contributed to this report.

    The post Trump vowing to sue ‘every one’ of his female accusers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Members of the group Black Lives Matter march to city hall during a protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota Nov. 24, 2015 after the police shooting death of Jamar Clark. The officers involved in the shooting were cleared of wrongdoing this week. Photo By Craig Lassig/Reuters

    Members of the group Black Lives Matter march to city hall during a protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota Nov. 24, 2015, after the police shooting death of Jamar Clark. The officers involved in the shooting were cleared of wrongdoing this week. Photo By Craig Lassig/Reuters

    Two Minneapolis officers have been cleared of wrongdoing in the fatal shooting last year of an African-American man, the department’s police chief said on Friday.

    Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau said two white police officers followed the department’s protocol on Nov. 15 during a skirmish with Jamar Clark that led to the death of the 24-year-old man.

    Police said that officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze were answering a call for a possible assault when they discovered Clark interfering with paramedics who were attending to an injured female, the Associated Press reported.

    The officers attempted to handcuff Clark when a scuffle ensued, an investigation conducted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension found.

    Clark was subsequently shot in the head by Schwarze during a struggle after Ringgenberg called out that Clark’s hand was on his firearm, according to the investigation, though witnesses said Clark was handcuffed during the incident.

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

    Citing the report, Harteau said the officers were justified in using deadly force and will not face disciplinary action. Local and federal authorities also declined to press charges against the officers.

    “These officers did not dictate the outcome of this incident,” Harteau said. “I can say with absolute certainty that I support the actions of Officers Ringgenberg and Schwarze the night of Nov. 15.”

    An attorney representing Clark’s family called the decision “absurd” while also noting the family would file a civil lawsuit over the incident.

    The post Minneapolis officers cleared in shooting death of Jamar Clark appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Opponents of Airbnb rally at City Hall in New York. Airbnb is a website for people to rent out lodging with over 800,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    Opponents of Airbnb rally at City Hall in New York. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    After New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on Friday imposing costly fines onto people who advertise illegal rentals online, the housing site Airbnb sued, contending that the law violates freedom of speech and is unconstitutional.

    Airbnb has been fighting rental regulations in San Francisco, Santa Monica and all over the world since the website’s founding in 2008. It has grown to help people rent more than a million rooms in more than 190 countries, and is said to have tripled in value to $30 billion in the last two years. Airbnb’s battles have focused on regulations meant to address the gray area in rental laws that do not address short-term accommodations in buildings that were built for permanent residents.

    And New York is the largest rental market in the country. Its legislators voted 110-24 in June to approve a law that Cuomo signed Friday that imposes fines between $1,000 and $7,500 for people who advertise multiple dwelling units online as a rental for less than 30 days.

    Airbnb responded on Friday with a lawsuit against the state’s attorney general and the city’s mayor that says the law, “is a content-based restriction on advertisements – in the form of rental listings – which are protected under the First Amendment.”

    The lawsuit also claims that the law could, without due process, make Airbnb liable for the advertisements of illegal renters or illegal renters who do not know they are breaking laws, which the company says is a violation of a clause in the 14th Amendment.

    “A majority of New Yorkers have embraced home sharing, and we will continue to fight for a smart policy solution that works for the people, not the powerful,” Josh Meltzer, head of Airbnb’s New York Public Policy, said in a statement.

    This law is an expansion of a law that New York first approved in 2010, which made it illegal to rent permanent, multiple dwelling units on a short-term basis.

    “This legislation would clarify that it also illegal to advertise units for occupancy that would violate New York law,” the justification for the law states. “It rests with the city and state to protect communities and existing affordable housing stock by prohibiting advertisements that violate the law.”

    Airbnb says it has 46,000 hosts in New York state, some of whom are using the money to pay off student debt.

    Meanwhile, a report by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in 2014 found that nearly three-quarters of Airbnb’s listings in New York were in violation of the state’s initial law. It also found that Airbnb was expected to collect $282 million that year in revenue from short-term bookings in New York City.

    There are a lot of stakeholders, including the hotel industry, landlords and people who are just entering one of the most expensive rental markets, where short-term rentals can drive up costs. So the crackdown has had mixed responses.

    Sen. Liz Krueger told PBS NewsHour Weekend’s Hari Sreenivasan after Schneiderman’s report last year that it’s meant to discourage entrepreneurs from exploiting the system. But the report also found that 94 percent of hosts were offering no more than two units — hosts like Jennifer, who also spoke with Sreenivasan.

    [Watch Video]

    “It’s really hard for me to feel like my home is a hotel,” she told the NewsHour. “Financially, it really helps my family. Rents here have skyrocketed in the 10 years that we’ve been here.”

    The post Airbnb sues New York for imposing fines on illegal renters appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listens as Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump (not pictured) speaks during their third and final 2016 presidential campaign debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool   TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX2PM47

    Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listens as Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump (not pictured) speaks during their third and final 2016 presidential campaign debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 19, 2016. Photo by Joe Raedle/Pool/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton bested Donald Trump in three debates. She leads in many preference polls of the most competitive states. Barring a significant shift in the next two weeks, she is in a strong position to become the first woman elected U.S. president.

    But Clinton will end the campaign still struggling to change the minds of millions of voters who don’t think well of her, a glaring liability should the Democratic nominee move on to the White House.

    While many see her as better prepared to be commander in chief than Trump, she is consistently viewed unfavorably by more than half of the country. Most voters also consider her dishonest.

    Clinton’s advisers have spent months trying to erase that perception. They’ve set up small events where she had more intimate conversations with voters. They’ve tested a seemingly endless stream of messages aimed at assuring the public that the former secretary of state was in the race to do more than fulfill her own political ambitions.

    As Clinton starts making her closing argument to voters, her team appears to have come to terms that the mission remains unfulfilled.

    “Honest and trustworthy has become our most talked about metric because it’s not great,” said Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director. “But we’ve never thought it’s the metric people make a decision on.”

    If Clinton wins, that theory may be proven true.

    Just 36 percent of voters believe Clinton is honest and trustworthy, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. That’s compared with about 60 percent who believe she has the qualifications and temperament to be commander in chief.

    The public’s perception of Clinton has bounced up and down throughout her time in public life. Her favorability rating fell below 50 percent at times during her years as first lady, but rose to its high water mark then and while she was as secretary of state under President Barack Obama.

    [Watch Video]

    Democrats blame some of the current negative personal perceptions of Clinton on the hard-charging tactics she’s used to try to discredit Trump, though they believe her sustained assault on Trump’s character and temperament has been crucial.

    Party operatives also say Trump’s personal attacks on Clinton have made it all but impossible for more positive messages to break through. He’s called her a “liar,” a “nasty woman” and pledged to put her in jail.

    “When you’re under relentless assault from a reality TV star, it’s hard to come out of that with anybody feeling good about anyone,” said Bill Burton, a former Obama aide.

    Still, Clinton’s advisers acknowledge that some of her troubles have been of her own making, including her penchant for privacy.

    She’s spent nearly the entire campaign struggling to explain why she used a private email server in the basement of her home while she led the State Department. She hid a pneumonia diagnosis this fall from nearly all of her senior staff, then left the public unaware of her condition and whereabouts for 90 minutes after the illness caused her to rush out of a public event in New York.

    “She is a politician that does not seek to be the center of attention and is inherently more private than most politicians, certainly presidential candidates,” Palmieri said. “That doesn’t always serve you great in a campaign for president.”

    Clinton frequently shoots down questions about the public’s negative perceptions by saying she’s viewed more positively when she’s doing a job rather than running for one. There’s some evidence to back that up.

    When she ran for re-election to the Senate from New York in 2006, she won with 67 percent of the vote, a big jump from the 55 percent share from her first race in 2000. Her approval rating when she left the State Department, where her job kept her out of day-to-day politics, sat at an enviable 65 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.

    But if Clinton is elected president, she won’t have the luxury she had as secretary of state to stay away from the political fray — with Republicans in Washington in the opposition, and possibly Trump, too.

    The businessman keeps flirting with the idea he could contest the election results if he loses. There are also persistent rumors that, if he is loses, he might try to harness the enthusiasm of his millions of supporters into some type of media venture.

    “The notion that Trump is going to go quietly into the night and wish her Godspeed is highly unlikely,” said David Axelrod, another former Obama adviser. “She’s going to have to contend with that and whatever it is he chooses to make his vehicle.”

    Clinton has begun acknowledging the challenge that could await her in the White House, if she wins, centering her closing argument to voters on a call for unity after a bitter campaign.

    “My name may be on the ballot, but the question really is who are we as a country, what are our values, what kind of a future do we want to create together,” she said Friday at a rally in Ohio.

    Some Democrats see the transition — the two month-plus stretch between the Nov. 8 election and the Jan. 20 inauguration — as a crucial opportunity for her to signal, if she wins, that a Clinton White House would be different from a Clinton campaign.

    In a nod to bipartisanship, she could nominate a Republican for her Cabinet. Clinton could start moving on some of her more broadly popular policy proposals as a way of boosting her appeal, assuming no crisis demands immediate action.

    Still, Axelrod said changing the public’s view of Clinton will be a “long term project.”

    “There’s no silver bullet to turn around years of wear and tear on her image,” he said.

    AP Polling Editor Emily Swanson contributed to this report.

    The post For Clinton, struggle to change public perception persists appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Mori Rothman

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    By Mori Rothman and Karla Murthy

    KARLA MURTHY: Hyundai means “modernity,” and it’s is a big name in the South Korean economic landscape – and not only for cars.

    Headquartered in the industrialized port city of Ulsan, Hyundai Heavy Industries, or HHI, is the world’s largest shipbuilder. It produces engines and construction equipment.

    HHI is also a leader in making industrial robots.

    Hyun-kyu Lim is a head researcher at HHI’s robot research institute. This is where they test robots used to assemble cars. He showed me an example of what robot technology looked like ten years ago:

    HYUN-KYU LIM: It shakes a lot.

    KARLA MURTHY: That shake when the robot stops slowed down productivity and accuracy.

    HYUN-KYU LIM: Now I’ll switch to the robot controller that is used these days. There’s no vibration.

    KARLA MURTHY: Lim says today’s robots are much more precise and 40 percent faster. He says spot welding, which is a common process in car factories, takes just under one second with a robot.

    HYUN-KYU LIM: If human do that, it’s impossible.

    KARLA MURTHY: Lim says that improved speed has resulted in HHI selling ten times more robots than it did when Lim began working here in 2000.

    TEAM LEADER: So in the future, there are only robots in the factory. And there’s no, nothing.

    KARLA MURTHY: Industrial robots have been working in manufacturing since the 1960s, when the first robot joined the assembly line at general motors plant. But in recent years, there’s been a dramatic rise in their use. Along with new technological advances, robots have also been getting cheaper.

    According to the international federation of robotics, sales of industrial robots globally went up 59% between 2010 and 2015.

    Dae-Young Kim is Vice President of HHI’s research center. He says the company has integrated four robot systems into its shipbuilding process… like this one that grinds an oil groove inside engine cylinders, a task once done manually.

    DAE-YOUNG KIM: We improved the productivity about 170 percent.


    In manufacturing, South Korea has the highest ratio of robots to workers in the world.  But as robots become faster and more cost effective, Kim says, HHI will need to reduce its low skilled jobs in order to remain competitive.

    DAE-YOUNG KIM: If want to survive in the shipbuilding industry, I think our competitor is China, India, Vietnam, where there is low labor cost. I believe we should decrease labor costs about 20% lower.

    ERIK BRYNJOLFSSON: A lot of East Asian countries, I think, are in bullseye of automation.

    KARLA MURTHY: Erik Brynjolfsson is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and director of MIT’s initiative on the digital economy.

    ERIK BRYNJOLFSSON: If you go to a place like China or Vietnam, you see factories where there are thousands of people working side by side doing very routine work, very simple simple tasks. Those are exactly the kinds of tasks that robots can do  well. So the ones that are being invented in South Korea and around the world, those machines are getting cheaper and cheaper and more and more capable and increasingly are going to replace the kind of human labor that has been powering the Chinese industrial revival.

    KARLA MURTHY: This year in china, Foxconn, a manufacturer that assembles Apple iPhones and other electronics, replaced 60,000 factory workers with robots.

    In the US, Amazon bought the robotics company Kiva for 775 million dollars in 2012, and now has over 30,000 robots working in its fulfillment warehouses around the world.

    To sharpen South Korea’s competitive edge, the government and Hyundai motor group are investing 76 million dollars to build a smart factory complex – to digitize the manufacturing process, from design to distribution.  Samsung is also partnering with the government to build 600 smart factories across the country.

    JONGHOON KIM: There is a worry among the workers that automated machines will eventually replace them, and take their jobs.

    The constituents of National Assemblyman Jonghoon Kim live and work in Ulsan, where HHI is based.

    JONGHOON KIM: If we only take the interest of companies into consideration, the life of the workers will decrease. This action will make the workers concerned for their future, and their job security. This can develop into many different social problems.

    KARLA MURTHY: Has there been any initiative yet to figure out what to do with the workers that could potentially lose their jobs?

    JONGHOON KIM: There have not been any specific plans made to address this issue, in order to achieve a bright future, the government, the company, and the workers must all work and deliberate together.

    But with no one adequately addressing this issue, Assemblyman Kim fears more workers displaced by robots are bound to find themselves unable to support themselves and their families in the future.

    Americans could also face similar problems. A report this year by the consulting firm McKinsey and Company, found that 59 percent of manufacturing work could be automated in the next decade, including 90% of what welders, cutters and solderers do.

    And that’s not all… 73 percent of food service work could be automated, 53% of retail work and 43% of finance and insurance work.

    ERIK BRYNJOLFSSON: To me, this is the defining issue of the next decade. It’s the most important single thing that our country can focus on, is how we can use this amazing, powerful technologies to transform the economy for good and to create shared prosperity.

    KARLA MURTHY: Brynjolfsson says almost every profession will be affected by automation. He says, the u-s is on the precipice of what he and the co-author of his last book call “the second machine age.”

    ERIK BRYNJOLFSSON: We think this is a transformation on the scale and scope of the first industrial revolution. It’s probably going to play out over a period of decades, and we’re still in the early stages of it But as it plays out, we’re gonna see vastly more wealth but also vast social disruption.

    KARLA MURTHY: So how can we as a society prepare for this massive transformation?

    ERIK BRYNJOLFSSON: The first step is to recognize the scope of this disruption that’s coming towards us and just acknowledge it. In the first machine age and industrial revolution, pollution went up. We had problems like child labor. But as a society we responded. We invented mass public education. And that was a radical notion that the government would pay for that. We changed the way we did tax policy. We invented the Social Security system. Later we provided Medicare and Medicaid. All of these changes helped cushion some of the blows of the Industrial Revolution and helped create a more healthy and educated work force than we had.

    KARLA MURTHY: And that’s what we need to do now?

    ERIK BRYNJOLFSSON: Well, going forward we need to have similarly big changes. Now, we can’t just double down on the same thing we did before. It means inventing social programs for the 21st Century and new tax policy. But in terms of the scale and scope of the changes, yes, I would say they’re at least as big as what we did in the first Industrial Revolution.

    Brynjolfsson recommends government policies that encourage more entrepreneurship by taking away barriers that make it hard to start new businesses and reward companies through tax incentives to create more jobs for people, not robots.

    KARLA MURTHY: But how realistic is it to enact some of these policies?

    ERIK BRYNJOLFSSON: These policies are absolutely– necessary, and I think it’s very realistic to put them in place. Economists, policy makers, managers, entrepreneurs, we need to do our part to reinvent the economy. If we don’t do it right a lot of people are going to be left behind.

    KARLA MURTHY: In South Korea – the robots of Hyundai Heavy Industries are now making their way into the medical field, from helping nurses move patients, to assisting doctors with surgeries.

    This rehabilitation robot reduces the number of physical therapists needed to help a patient walk.

    And facing increasing global competition in their biggest industry shipbuilding, Dae Young Kim says their next generation of robots will be more human like – by using artificial intelligence to learn on the job.

    KARLA MURTHY: How long do you think would develop something like that?

    DAE-YOUNG KIM: Maybe before 2020.  To survive in this very powerful shipbuilding industry. I think.

    The post Will South Korea’s robot revolution hurt American jobs? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (R) and his Somali counterpart Hassan Sheikh Mohamud talk during the extraordinary session of the African Union's Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the case of African Relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC), in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, October 12, 2013. Africa has agreed that sitting heads of state should not be tried by the ICC where Kenya's leaders are in the dock, ministers said before African leaders opened a summit on Saturday. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri (ETHIOPIA - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS) - RTX148Q8

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: The United Nations’ Human Rights Council in Geneva voted yesterday to start a formal inquiry into the Syrian government’s bombardment of Aleppo, with the U.N.’s top envoy to Syria saying the military strikes on the city, aided by Russia, may amount to war crimes.  The probe could eventually lead to a trial before the International Criminal Court, which was established in 2002 to investigate and prosecute wartime atrocities.

    However, the court received a vote of no confidence yesterday when South Africa announced it will withdraw from the court’s oversight.  It’s the second nation to do so — the other is Burundi — and it is unclear how many countries might follow their lead.  The court has 124 member nations, including 34 in Africa.

    Joining me now to discuss South Africa’s move and how damaging it might be is Andrew Meldrum, the acting Africa editor for “The Associated Press”.  He’s in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    Thanks for joining us.

    So, why did South Africa take this step?

    ANDREW MELDRUM, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: South Africa made the decision to leave the International Criminal Court because it did not like the court’s decision that South Africa should have arrested the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, when he visited South Africa more than a year ago.  And South Africa said the court should not be telling it to arrest sitting heads of state.  There should have been diplomatic immunity.  And so, they said they don’t like that — what they called interference — from the ICC.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Coming on the heels of the withdrawal from Burundi, is this part of a larger trend?

    ANDREW MELDRUM: Well, that — there are many that are worried that this — that the two African — that the decision of the two African countries to leave the ICC this week could set off a movement where several other African countries withdraw from the ICC.

    Already, the African Union, which represents all 54 countries of Africa, has said that they don’t think that the ICC should press charges against any sitting head of state.  And Uganda’s deputy foreign minister has said that he would like to see this issue of African members being in the ICC be brought up at the next African Union meeting.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, why is this happening among African nations and not everywhere else?  Do they feel disproportionately prosecuted?

    ANDREW MELDRUM: That is the complaint, in fact.  All six current prosecutions or prosecutions in the process are of Africans, and there, so far, the ICC has not indicted or pressed charges against any other people from any other part world.  They do have the — the ICC does have investigations pending against leaders of Colombia and Afghanistan, but so far, no charges have been pressed.

    And so, African leaders have said — they’ve complained for a couple of years now or more, that it’s only Africans that the ICC is pressing charges against, and they think that that is unfair.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And now, to be clear, the United States is a signatory, but it has not ratified.  It is not an active member of the ICC.  So, if these nations start to withdraw, what happens to the overall weight that the ICC carries?

    ANDREW MELDRUM: I think that it could tremendously weaken.  There are many human rights activists and others, legal, international law experts who say this could seriously weaken the ICC.  As you say, the United States is not a full member.  There are other countries that are not full members.  Russia and China, Israel are amongst the others.

    And the ICC is at a point where it wants to increase its membership to get all members in the world, all countries in the world to sign.  And at this point, now, it is backtracking or it is losing members.  And it is losing members from Africa which is an important sign of its legitimacy throughout the world.  So, it could be a really significant blow to the ICC.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right.  Andrew Meldrum of “The Associated Press” joining us from Johannesburg tonight — thanks so much.

    ANDREW MELDRUM: Thank you.

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    U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shakes hands with supporters after a campaign event in Cleveland, Ohio U.S., October 21, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTX2PXWW

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: For more analysis of the presidential race, I’m joined now by “NewsHour Weekend” special correspondent Jeff Greenfield, who joins us from Santa Barbara, California.
    So, Jeff, given the topsy-turvy nature of this campaign cycle and really that the news seems to be what happens off the trail not necessarily what they’re doing as they campaign, are there still factors that could impact the election in the next couple of weeks?

    JEFF GREENFIELD, NEWSHOUR WEEKEND SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: There are times when we’ve seen late-breaking events change the outcome.  I think the one Reagan-Carter debate in 1980, which happened just a week before the election, helped turn that into a landslide.  The campaign of George W. Bush has always argued that they lost the popular vote because of a late-breaking story about Bush’s youthful drunk driving arrests that cost him, they think, a few million evangelicals.

    But, by and large, this is the period — debates are over — when the race stabilizes, which is why a five-point lead with one week to go means much more than a five-point lead with a month to go.  So, the hope of the Trump campaign is that there are these people who have not told the pollsters they are going to vote for Trump.  They point to the Brexit results.  The problem with that is that the Brexit polls were actually very, very close.

    So, while it’s possible, it’s also possible that, you know, women who were on the fence may have been pushed to vote for Clinton by Trump’s various comments.  But by and large, you wouldn’t want to bet the farm or even the chicken coop on a sudden late shift this late in the campaign.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there a possibility for over-confidence on the Clinton side?  I mean, they say that “we’re not taking anything for granted,” but given where the majority of the polls are leaning, where the probability prediction markets and so forth, and given that really the only poll that matters is the one that happens on November 8?

    JEFF GREENFIELD:  Well, you know, I’ve never understood who is supposed to stay home if the polls show a clear lead for one candidate.  Is that that candidate’s supporters who think, “Well, why bother, we’ve won” or is it the trailing candidate supporters who think it’s lost, why bother”?

    I think you also have to account for the fact that the ground game that we saw in the Obama campaigns and that is very much in evidence in the Clinton campaign, may counter that.  That is, now that they believe that they have a clear lead, the Clinton campaign is going all out to pull out their voters for the down-ballot races — we’re going to talk about that in a piece that will be on the air tomorrow.  But it’s very significant because the Clinton campaign knows that without the Senate in the Democratic hands, her role if she is elected president will be infinitely tougher.

    So, I don’t think over-confidence is going to play much of a role on November 8.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Without giving too much away about your piece tomorrow, how big is that coattail effect?  How significant is that?

    JEFF GREENFIELD: I can give you a definitive answer — but sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t.  When Lyndon Johnson won a landslide in 1964, he brought tons of Democrats in on down ballots.  Regan did the same thing in 1980.  He helped control — get the GOP control of the Senate with 12 seats, won 33 seats in the House.  But when Nixon won a historic landslide in ’72, it had no impact.  And my guess or theory if I want to fancy it up, is when an election is ideological it can have serious coattail effects because voters are saying we want a change in direction.

    I believe that if Clinton wins it is largely a repudiation of Trump, rather than some commitment to her agenda.  But as I said, the other thing that we know — and we’ll talk about this tomorrow — is people split their tickets less.  So, a huge win for Clinton is likely it to have a significant impact, particularly in that Senate race and maybe even in the House as well.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there going to be an event, at least up to this point, that helped define the race?  I mean, whether it’s debate performances or it’s the leaked video of Donald Trump’s comments or the paper cut after paper cut of WikiLeaks e-mails being released week after week?

    JEFF GREENFIELD: The general theory among academics is that campaign events don’t have a kind of hugely consequential event.  This year looks like it may challenge that conventional wisdom because the first debate really seems to have been the turning point.  Trump had closed to within a point or two in virtually every poll, and once that first debate ended, Clinton’s lead began to grow, and it has still grown and now stabilized up to this point.

    Remember, the fundamentals, the economic data and stuff, predicted a close race.  So, this may be a case where an event actually had an impact.

    One quick footnote: the economic fundamentals, Barack Obama’s approval ratings have all moved in a direction in the last month or two that helps the Democrats.  But I still think we’re going to look back at that first debate as a critical factor.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Jeff Greenfield, many thanks.

    JEFF GREENFIELD: Pleasure.

    The post With campaign winding down, Clinton leads polls appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) asks witnesses during the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee hearing on "Passenger Rail Safety: Accident Prevention and On-Going Efforts to Implement Train Control Technology" on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 10, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas - RTX1FYNK

    Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) asks witnesses during the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee hearing on “Passenger Rail Safety: Accident Prevention and On-Going Efforts to Implement Train Control Technology” on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on June 10, 2015. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The clamor for change fueling Republican Donald Trump’s presidential campaign may help a little-known Democrat upset a powerful GOP senator in red-state Missouri on Election Day. And with just a handful of competitive races around the country, the outcome in Missouri could help determine control of the Senate.

    The contest between Missouri’s secretary of state, Democrat Jason Kander, and Sen. Roy Blunt did not start out high on either party’s list of competitive Senate races in a state Trump is likely to win. But Kander, a 35-year-old veteran, has proved to be a smart and aggressive campaigner, challenging Blunt’s attempts to brand him a liberal by running an ad in which he assembles an AR-15 rifle blindfolded and describes his combat service.

    Kander also has sought, unapologetically, to exploit the outsider mood that’s propelled Trump to the fore, criticizing the 66-year-old Blunt as a Washington insider who is part of a failed system.

    “Really Donald Trump’s entire message is that people like Sen. Blunt are the problem,” Kander said before a recent rally in Kansas City where Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren appeared on his behalf.

    “Washington’s broken and we’re not going to change Washington until we change the people we send there,” Kander added, “and here in Missouri folks recognize that and they’re looking for a new generation of leadership.”

    Missouri is one of three GOP-friendly states, along with North Carolina and Indiana, that have emerged as top battlegrounds as Democrats fight to gain a Senate majority. Democrats need to pick up five seats to accomplish that, or four if they hang onto control of the White House, because the vice president casts tie-breaking votes in the Senate.

    Trump’s slide in the polls has sparked growing fears among Republicans that he could cost them majorities in the Senate and even the House. Yet operatives on both sides say the top Senate races remain very close, and thus far, at least, GOP candidates have not cratered in the polls as a result of Trump’s problems.

    Blunt counters Kander’s attacks by tying the Democrat to Hillary Clinton, who is highly unpopular in the state, and painting him as too liberal. Blunt’s ads describe the “Clinton-Kander agenda” and they hit Kander for supporting President Barack Obama’s health care law and policies on immigration and taxes.

    [Watch Video]

    An ad released Saturday in support of Blunt’s campaign goes even further, portraying Clinton and Kander as identical on issues such as liberal Supreme Court justices. The ad by the Senate Leadership Fund acknowledges Clinton is likely to be elected, and argues: “One Hillary in Washington would be bad enough. Reject Jason Kander.”

    An ad on the air for GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire contains a similar message. The strategy of arguing in favor of GOP congressional candidates as a check against a President Clinton may become widespread if Trump’s loss looks inevitable.

    “This is really an important time. You look at how much is at stake,” Blunt, who backs Trump, said at a rally in the St. Louis suburb of O’Fallon. “We’re going to live with this for a long time.”

    Blunt served seven terms in the House before his election to the Senate in 2010, and he’s a member of the Senate GOP leadership. Yet he seemed to be caught unawares in a volatile election year in which Missouri voters also nominated a Republican candidate for governor who’s a young outsider with little political experience.

    In recent weeks Blunt’s sagging poll numbers have forced GOP campaign committees to start spending millions to bail him out, to the annoyance of some Republicans. And now Blunt is talking like he’s the underdog.

    “It is not easy in our state,” Blunt said. “We’re in a fight. It’s one we can win but nobody needs to take anything for granted here.”

    Republicans have tried all year to insulate their Senate candidates from disruptions at the top of the ticket, running races focused on local issues and trying to avoid getting drawn into the controversy of the day with Trump. But as Trump’s poll numbers worsen with the election just over two weeks away, the limits of that strategy may start to show.

    Democrats have a financial advantage going into the end stretch and intend to use it in part by running more ads that tie GOP incumbents and candidates to Trump. As Clinton pulls away from Trump nationally, that is freeing up even more money for Democratic candidates in the top Senate races: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri and Nevada. Republicans have essentially given up on incumbents in Illinois and Wisconsin, while GOP Sens. John McCain in Arizona and Rob Portman in Ohio are considered to be safe.

    Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is also looking strong, though for him and other Republicans there is probably a limit to how far they can outrun Trump if the mogul goes down to a major loss.

    Most concerning to Republicans of late is Trump’s rhetoric about the election being “rigged,” which some fear could keep GOP voters from coming out to the polls.

    “If his supporters actually think the election is ‘rigged’ than you have to wonder if they will think it’s worth coming out to vote,” said Brian Walsh a GOP consultant and former official at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “And that could have real consequences down ballot because we need everyone on the GOP side to vote.”

    Associated Press writer Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri, contributed to this report.

    The post Race in GOP-friendly Missouri could determine Senate control appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A girl (L) tiptoes to see a woman's ballot while voting in the primary election at Deerfield Town Hall in Deerfield, New Hampshire January 10, 2012. Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters

    A girl (L) tiptoes to see a woman’s ballot while voting in the primary election at Deerfield Town Hall in Deerfield, New Hampshire January 10, 2012. Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters

    TRENTON, N.J. — You probably already know whether you’ll vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton on Election Day, leaving one important question to consider when you walk into your polling place: Is it OK to take a picture of your ballot?

    While secrecy in the voting booth has become a thing of the past for those ready to share their views and daily lives on social media, laws nationwide are mixed on whether voters are allowed to take pictures of themselves in the act or of their ballots — “ballot selfies”.

    Federal judges have struck down bans on selfies in New Hampshire and Indiana, and rules have been changed in places like California and Rhode Island, but in many states it’s still a violation that carries potential fines or jail terms.

    There are laws against sharing any photo of your ballot in 18 states, while six other states bar photography in polling places but do allow photos of mail-in ballots, according to a review by The Associated Press.

    Critics say such regulations have not kept up with technology and are confusing for voters and election workers. Some states that ban ballot selfies or have moved to block them cite concerns the photos could harm the integrity of the voting process by encouraging vote-buying or coercion, though some acknowledge there’s no evidence to support those fears.

    Nikola Jordan, 33, of Omaha, Nebraska, has been taking such photos for about 10 years and believes they are a great way not only to share her views on the issues, but also to stress the importance of voting and being civically active. A Nebraska lawmaker added a provision to state election law this year to allow ballot selfies.

    “I was doing this for years before I learned it was technically illegal,” Jordan said with a laugh. “It’s all about encouraging other people to get involved in the process, to show it can be fun and exciting to make your voice heard (at the polls). Don’t think of voting as some boring thing … It’s your chance to make a difference.”

    The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston last month upheld a decision that New Hampshire’s ban on ballot selfies was unconstitutional, saying it suppressed a large swath of political speech and there was no evidence to support the state’s concerns.

    “It goes to the core of democracy,” said Gilles Bissonnette, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, which brought the suit on behalf of three people investigated for violating the statute.

    Among those filing briefs in support of ballot selfies was Snapchat, which argued they are the latest way voters, especially young adults, get involved in the political process and express support for or against a cause or a candidate.

    “We had a failure to recognize the importance of online political speech, especially to the younger generation,” Bissonnette said. “The First Amendment needs to be guarded rigorously. These old laws cannot and should not be applied to the modern technology.”

    California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last month that repeals a 125-year-old law barring voters from showing people their marked ballots. It goes into effect after the November election, but legislative analysists have found no occasion of the ban being enforced — and it hasn’t stopped people from sharing photos of their 2016 ballots.

    Colorado started mailing ballots this week in the all-mail presidential election, and some ballot selfies started popping up on social media. In response, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey on Thursday issued a reminder that publicizing completed ballots is a misdemeanor in the state.

    The ACLU criticized his statement as potential voter intimidation. Morrissey’s spokeswoman told reporters he had no plans to comb social media looking for folks posting ballot selfies, saying authorities investigate only in response to a complaint.

    Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued a formal opinion last month that nothing in Virginia law prohibits voters from taking pictures of themselves, fellow voters or their ballot within the polling place.

    “This is a product of the times we live in,” said Democratic New Jersey Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, who has sponsored a measure to allow ballot selfies. “If voters want to express their pride in participating in our democracy by voting or tout their political preferences on social media, they should be entitled to do so.”

    Clarissa Livingstone, 26, of Toms River, said she doesn’t understand concerns raised over ballot selfies. She doesn’t believe people would be influenced by seeing ballot photos that she or anyone else might post.

    “People are so rigid in their political beliefs these days,” Livingstone said, “they’re not going to change their votes once they see how some Jersey girl voted.”

    Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Josh Cornfield in Trenton, Alanna Durkin Richer in Richmond, Virginia, and Kristen Wyatt in Denver.

    The post Where is posting ballot selfies legal? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listens during their third and final 2016 presidential campaign debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 19, 2016.   Photo by Mark Ralston/REUTERS

    Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listens during their third and final 2016 presidential campaign debate at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 19, 2016. Photo by Mark Ralston/Reuters

    NEW YORK — “Such a nasty woman.”

    Like many people, 23-year-old Emily DiVito was multitasking while watching last week’s presidential debate, with a little studying and a little Twitter-surfing. But when DiVito heard Donald Trump say those four words to Hillary Clinton, she shot up in her seat.

    “The interruptions were so absurd, but that was particularly biting,” she said.

    What’s more, the moment gave DiVito, a former avid supporter of Clinton’s primary rival Bernie Sanders, a feeling of solidarity with Clinton — a “moment of connectivity,” as she put it. “I was for Bernie, but moments like this make me proud to be affiliated with her, the way she is persevering.”

    That’s good news for Clinton, who despite her lead in the polls, has struggled to connect with millennial voters.

    It also was probably bad news for Trump. Days after his devastating “grab ’em” remarks emerged and he started facing new allegations of sexual assault, the GOP presidential nominee had another bad week, leading some to wonder whether his popularity with female voters had reached rock bottom.

    The candidate who so badly needed to close the gender gap instead saw his “nasty woman” remark — accompanied by a wagging index finger — become a feminist battle cry, a galvanizing moment for Clinton and an exclamation point to a campaign dominated by gender.

    To Kathy Spillar, the “nasty woman” comment sounded like “the coffin shutting.'”

    “I thought, ‘That’s it,'” said Spillar, executive director of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “Women voters are going to defeat Trump.” The comment, she said, not only “summed up his whole attitude about women,” but showed how bitter he was about potentially losing to one.

    “Losing would be bad enough, but that he has lost to a woman really grates on him,” Spillar said. “That’s certainly clear. And this just fuels the gender gap.”

    [Watch Video]

    In a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, the day of the final presidential debate, Clinton led Trump among women by 52 to 37 percent. It showed 43 percent of men backed Trump and 41 percent were behind Clinton.

    Trump supporter Patti Stites felt the latest Trump remarks were unfortunate, but wouldn’t sway her choice.

    “It’s certainly not nice, it’s not appropriate, especially in a debate,” said Stites, 61, of Northfield, New Jersey. “But he says what he thinks. You still have to judge him by the issues.

    “I don’t need to like my president,” added Stites, a former employee of a Trump property, the now-shuttered Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

    The “nasty woman” interjection — coming on a night when both candidates interrupted each other frequently — went viral. Spotify tweeted that streams of Janet Jackson’s “Nasty” were up 250 percent. “Nasty Woman” T-shirts were on offer (“Bad Hombre” ones, too.) Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, got in on the act, tweeting to Clinton: “From one #NastyWoman to another, you were an inspiration last night.”

    “So much of this election cycle has been about the ways men belittle women when they don’t get what they want from them,” said Andi Zeisler, 43, feminist author and founder of the nonprofit Bitch Media. “Now, people are seeing themselves in Donald Trump’s words toward Hillary, they’re seeing themselves in how his surrogates act toward women — and toward Latinos and anyone who is not a straight white man.”

    The “nasty woman” remark, she said, is a “somewhat predictable and almost laughable apex” of what’s been going on all year. But, she added, it is totally possible that there might be a new apex to come.

    Throughout the debate, Clinton tried to highlight her opponent’s trouble with female voters, saying at one point: “Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger.” When it came to abortion, she argued in a pointed way for a woman’s right to control her own body, after Trump said he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

    That, too, impressed DiVito, who worked for Sanders’ campaign for several months after graduating from Wellesley, Clinton’s alma mater.

    “I felt solidarity rooted in pride for a woman who was up there sticking up for other women against a man who has zero interest in trying to empathize with the emotional and physical complexity of abortion,” DiVito said.

    It didn’t help Trump that he evoked audible laughter in the audience — despite moderator Chris Wallace’s admonitions to the crowd — when he said: “Nobody has more respect for women than I do.”

    Debbie Walsh, who specializes in women and politics at Rutgers University, said she wasn’t particularly shocked by Trump’s remark, given his other recent statements.

    “Gender is front and center in this campaign, and he is clearly using it,” said Walsh, director of the school’s Center for American Women and Politics. She recalled Trump’s saying Clinton had “tremendous hate in her heart,” calling her the devil, even saying he “wasn’t impressed” when she walked in front of him — interpreted as a comment on her appearance.

    “He is the gift that keeps on giving on this stuff,” Walsh said.

    For a male Clinton supporter, the moment was a chance to reflect on how women might react when they hear such things.

    “I imagined women throwing things at the TV,” said Stefan Krieger, 69, a law professor in New York. “I imagine there are some men that say such things to their girlfriends, their wives, their partners, in a fit of rage. It’s a way of men lashing out with power.”

    “I hope I’m not like that.”

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    Mercedes Vega raises her fist while protesting outside a rally for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump in Fresno, California, U.S. May 27, 2016.  REUTERS/Noah Berger - RTX2EK7N

    Mercedes Vega raises her fist while protesting outside a rally for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump in Fresno, California, U.S. May 27, 2016. Photo by Noah Berger/Reuters

    LOS ANGELES — Come Election Day, California could legalize pot. Its new U.S. senator will be black or Hispanic — a first for the state. And voters could end the death penalty and revive bilingual education in schools.

    The outcome of voting on Nov. 8 is likely to reflect long-term trends that have seen the nation’s most populous state become increasingly diverse and firmly Democratic in its politics.

    A new wave of voters — many young, Hispanic or both — are poised to contribute to generational, demographic and cultural shifts that are reshaping California. Over half of new voter registrations this year are millennials — younger people who tend to be more liberal than older Californians.

    The election also could strengthen the argument that California is becoming a one-party state. Most of the new voters are registering as Democrats or independents. And the number of voters aligned with no party is on track to eclipse Republicans, whose registration numbers are in freefall.

    A key indicator of the change is the race to replace U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who was first elected in 1992. The contest is a matchup between two Democratic women, Attorney General Kamala Harris, whose father is black and mother is from India, and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, the daughter of Mexican immigrants.

    “I think that says a lot about where we are moving,” said political scientist Larry Gerston, professor emeritus at California State University, San Jose.

    In addition, policies from past decades, when the state electorate was overwhelmingly white, could be recast or reversed. Voters are being asked to repeal the death penalty, which was reinstated in the 1970s but has not been carried out since 2006.

    [Watch Video]

    They could also dial back a 1998 voter-passed law that largely dismantled bilingual education at a time when illegal immigration was surging.

    Through mid-October, more than 4 million people registered, or reregistered, to vote in California. Half signed up as Democrats, a meager 19 percent as Republicans and the rest primarily as independents, according to an analysis by nonpartisan research firm Political Data Inc.

    Millennials represented over half of the new registrations. Latino registration, barely out of single digits a generation ago, represented nearly 30 percent of new voters, the data showed.

    Democratic pollster Ben Tulchin, who worked for Bernie Sanders in the presidential campaign, said the influence of the new voters is being felt in competitive congressional races, where Republicans in a handful of once-safe districts are being threatened.

    For Republicans, the rising influence of Hispanic voters is especially troubling in a year when their presidential nominee is Donald Trump, who has vowed to deport millions of people living in the country illegally.

    The GOP’s troubles with Hispanic voters in California can be traced to 1994, when voters, with encouragement from Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, approved Proposition 187, which prohibited immigrants in the country illegally from receiving public health care, education or other social services.

    The law was overturned, but it left lingering resentment with many Hispanics at a time when the Latino population was becoming increasingly important in elections. It’s also played a role in the prominent Democratic tilt to a state that sent Republicans Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon to the White House but now doesn’t have a single Republican elected to a statewide office.

    State figures released earlier this month showed the percentage of voters registered as Democrats had increased by 2 percentage points since the 2012 presidential election, while those aligned with the GOP dropped over 3 points. The share of independents, who tend to vote like Democrats, also increased.

    The shift can be seen in places such as Riverside County, where Democrats now hold a thin registration edge in what once was Republican turf.

    “You can track the progress Democrats have made in registration, and you can quantify the impact,” Tulchin said.

    Republicans shuddered after the U.S. Senate primary in June. None of the party’s little-known candidates broke out of single digits in the vote count, allowing two Democrats to claim the two runoff spots in November, a first in the modern era.

    In the late 1960s, most Californians wanted tougher laws against marijuana use or strict enforcement of the rules on the books. Over time, those views softened.

    Pollsters say millennials are far more likely than other age groups to support passage of the proposal to legalize pot. Most Democrats and independents favor legalization, while Republicans are divided.

    Nearly two decades ago, when the state was facing an influx of immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally and couldn’t speak English, Californians voted to dismantle most bilingual education programs in schools. Supporters said the initiative would help newcomers assimilate by forcing them to learn English.

    This year, with scant visible opposition, voters are expected to repeal much of the law.

    “California is always one of the leading indicators of social and demographic change, and this year seems to be a prime example,” said Darrell M. West, director of governance studies at The Brookings Institution and author of recently published “Megatrend,” which foresees rapid, dramatic political and social shifts in the 21st century.

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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’s campaign bluntly acknowledged Sunday that the real estate mogul is trailing Hillary Clinton as the presidential race hurdles toward a close, but insisted he still has a viable path to win the White House.

    With barely two weeks left and early voting underway in most of the U.S., Trump’s team said “the race is not over” and pledged to keep campaigning hard — even in states like Virginia and Pennsylvania that polls show is now safely in Clinton’s control. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway laid out a path to the requisite 270 electoral votes that goes through make-or-break states Florida, Iowa, North Carolina and Ohio.

    “We are behind. She has some advantages,” Conway said Sunday. Yet she argued that Clinton’s advantages — like a slew of bold-name Democrats campaigning for her — belied her lack of true support. “The current president and first lady, vice president, all are much more popular than she can hope to be.”

    She added: “We’re not giving up. We know we can win this.”

    Yet even as Clinton appeared to be strengthening her lead, her campaign was careful not to declare premature victory.

    “We don’t want to get ahead of our skis here,” said Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook. He said the “battleground states” where both candidates are campaigning hardest “are called that for a reason.”

    As part of his closing message, Trump was laying out an ambitious agenda for his first 100 days as president. Yet he undermined his own attempt to strike a high-minded tone on policy issues when he announced in the same speech that he planned to sue the numerous women who have accused him of groping and other unwanted sexual behavior.

    “All of these liars will be sued once the election is over,” Trump said Saturday during an event near the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg. He added: “I look so forward to doing that.”

    [Watch Video]

    Asked about Trump’s remarks, Clinton told reporters between rallies Saturday in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia that she was done responding to what her Republican opponent is saying as Election Day nears and would instead focus on helping elect other Democrats.

    A day earlier, Clinton attacked Pennsylvania’s Republican senator, Pat Toomey, saying in Pittsburgh that he has refused to “stand up” to Trump as she praised his Democratic challenger, Katie McGinty. Noting Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants and his attacks on a Muslim-American military family, she said of Toomey: “If he doesn’t have the courage to stand up to Donald Trump after all of this, then can you be sure that he will stand up for you when it counts?”

    Toomey spokesman Ted Kwong said Clinton’s comments highlight McGinty’s lack of independence.

    “Today is just further proof that hyper-partisan, ethically challenged Katie McGinty will be a rubber stamp for everything Hillary Clinton wants to do in Washington,” he said. “Pat Toomey has been, and will continue to be, an independent leader in the Senate on issues ranging from gun safety to ending Wall Street bailouts.”

    Clinton rejected Trump’s allegation, offered without evidence, that the dozen or so women who have come forward are being prompted by her campaign or the Democratic National Committee. The accusers emerged after the former reality TV star boasted of kissing women and groping their genitals without their consent. On Saturday, an adult film actress said the billionaire kissed her and two other women on the lips “without asking for permission” when they met him after a golf tournament in 2006.

    Trump has denied that all the other allegations, while insisting some of the women weren’t attractive enough for him to want to pursue. His broadside against the women Saturday came at the start of an otherwise substantive speech that sought to weave the many policy ideas he has put forward into a single, cohesive agenda.

    The Republican nominee vowed to lift restrictions on domestic energy production, label China as a currency manipulator and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, familiar themes to supporters who have flocked to his rallies this year.

    “This is my pledge to you, and if we follow these steps, we will once again have a government of, by and for the people,” Trump said, invoking a phrase from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

    Though mostly a recap of policies he’s proposed before, Trump’s speech included a few new elements, such as a freeze on hiring new federal workers and a two-year mandatory minimum sentence for immigrants who re-enter the U.S. illegally after being deported a first time. In a pledge sure to raise eyebrows on Wall Street, he said he’d block a potential merger between AT&T and media conglomerate Time Warner.

    Throughout the GOP primary, Trump was criticized for shying away from detailed policy proposals. But his speech, which aides said would form the core of his closing argument to voters, underscored how the billionaire has gradually compiled a broad — if sometimes vague — policy portfolio that straddles conservative, isolationist and populist orthodoxies.

    Mook spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Conway spoke on “Fox News Sunday” and on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

    Lederman reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey in Pennsylvania contributed to this report.

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    David Iris Stracher appears in New York City on Oct. 14, 2016. Photo by Corinne Segal/PBS NewsHour Weekend

    David Iris Strachan is part of a group of people planning to legally change their gender to ‘nonbinary’ in California in the coming weeks. He appears in New York City on Oct. 14, 2016. Photo by Corinne Segal/PBS NewsHour Weekend

    David Iris Strachan was 29 years old in 1976 when a doctor told him that he is intersex.

    At a clinic in Santa Cruz, California, Strachan learned through genetic testing that he had Klinefelter syndrome, which occurs when an individual is born with XXY chromosomes. Its symptoms vary, but the condition is often marked by small testes that produce little to no testosterone, above-average height and small breasts. “I’ve always identified as in-between [male and female],” Strachan said.

    Strachan is also non-binary, a gender that is neither male nor female. And he is one of a growing group of people pushing for legal recognition of their nonbinary gender — efforts that follow Jamie Shupe, who became the first legally nonbinary person in the U.S. through an Oregon court order in June, and reached a new frontier in California with Kelly Keenan, who became the second legally non-binary person in the U.S. in September. Those victories have spurred people around the country who are now planning to change their legal gender to non-binary. “Every time someone like me is forced to check an ‘M’ or an ‘F’ box … that’s my government saying I don’t exist.” — Kelly Keenan

    Until recently, “only males and females have legally existed,” Strachan said.

    He, and many other non-binary people, want their gender to legally exist, too.

    States look at gender beyond ‘M’ and ‘F’

    When a Portland judge granted Shupe the gender change, making them the first legally non-binary person in the U.S., the decision resonated with activists around the country.

    “I started getting contacted over Facebook messaging by many individuals in California and a few around the country saying, ‘I want to do this too, can you please help me?’” Toby Adams, an attorney and co-founder of the Intersex and Genderqueer Recognition Project, said.

    READ NEXT: The complications of ID for non-binary people — and how it could change soon

    Adams now represents Keenan, the first person to be declared legally non-binary in California and the second nationwide. Keenan said she was inspired by the Shupe decision. “When I saw that, I thought, there’s absolutely no reason this shouldn’t happen in California,” she said.

    Keenan, 55, is also intersex. In 1977, when she was 17, her doctors discovered she was genetically XY — a condition known as Swyer syndrome, which is typically marked by “undeveloped clumps of tissue called streak gonads” and non-functional ovaries or testes, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. At the time, she received surgery to remove undeveloped gonadal tissue, but did not fully understand the reason for that surgery until years later. When she did, “I was so upset that the secret was kept for so long,” she said.

    Kelly Keenan, right, and David Keenan, left, appear at the Grand Canyon. Photo courtesy of Kelly Keenan

    Kelly Keenan, right, and David Keenan, left, appear at the Grand Canyon. Photo courtesy of Kelly Keenan

    A retired paralegal, she arrived at the Santa Cruz courtroom prepared with a legal brief on her application to change gender. But she did not encounter resistance from the judge, who approved the change.

    At least three people are planning to do the same thing in San Francisco in the next few weeks, according to Adams, Keenan’s attorney. The group is also working with people who are interested in changing their gender to non-binary in Santa Clara, Alameda County and Sacramento County.

    These cases are raising questions at state agencies like the Department of Motor Vehicles, which could soon expand the options for sex and gender on IDs in several states. Now, Shupe, Keenan and others who are beginning the process are wondering if those decisions will help them obtain licenses or other forms of identification that reflect a third sex or gender. Having an accurate license is a priority for people who say they face discomfort, harassment or even difficulties in obtaining health care because their appearance does not match the sex marker on their ID.

    The outlook is positive for Shupe in Oregon. After waiting for several months, Shupe received an email in late September from the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles, confirming that the department will be able to issue a new type of ID:

    “Last week DMV received the okay to move forth with forming an advisory committee and drafting administrative rules regarding the capturing of sex on the driver license. The rules will allow DMV to capture and print an identifier for sex other than M for male and F for female on the driver license, permit, and ID card.”

    But it’s unclear how those court orders will be received at the California Department of Motor Vehicles, now the second state agency after Oregon to confront nonbinary gender identities. Officials from the California Department of Motor Vehicles responded to the NewsHour Weekend’s questions via email:

    “We’re in the early stages of assessing this matter and are not at a point where we can provide specific answers. As we work on this, we will collaborate with other states, including Oregon which received the first non-binary court order earlier this year, and the federal government to identify best practices and options for how to proceed.”

    A long fight for recognition

    A similar case is playing out on the federal level, with Lambda Legal currently representing Dana Zzyym in a lawsuit against the federal government. Zzyym, who is intersex, is seeking a third option for U.S.-issued passports. (Zzyym’s lawyer Paul Castillo has pointed out that such an option already exists under international passport standards: several countries, including Australia and New Zealand, allow passports to list “X” to denote sex, instead of “M” or “F.”)

    Not all non-binary people are intersex like Zzyym, Strachan and Keenan. But these cases underscore the complications of classifying sex and gender, Keenan said. “Every time someone like me is forced to check an ‘M’ or an ‘F’ box … that’s my government saying I don’t exist and that people like me don’t have a place in this world,” Keenan said.

    Researchers have not determined exactly how many people are born intersex, in part because the term covers a range of genetic and physical conditions. The Intersex Society of North America estimates that one in 1,500 to 2,000 babies are born with ambiguous genitalia, but disorders like Klinefelter syndrome could affect as many as one in 500 babies, according to the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development. And no nationwide studies have focused on non-binary individuals, leaving a scant picture of how many people identify as such.

    The push for recognition is set to expand next to New York City, where Keenan was born. Armed with her court order, Keenan has submitted a request to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene asking that the gender marker on her birth certificate be changed.

    But what comes next in New York City is unclear. A Health Department spokesperson told the NewsHour via email that the department was “currently reviewing the case” and declined to answer further questions.

    Keenan is hopeful that the efforts will bring more options for intersex and non-binary people, and that those changes will reach beyond California. “I became an activist to change things so that people who come up behind me have a different experience,” she said. “We deserve recognition for existing.”

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    MALAWI (49)

    On March 12 2016, children in Malawi look on amazed in the community demonstration of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones) flying in Lilongwe. The Ministry of Health and UNICEF launched the first six-mile auto programmed flight in a trial to speed up the testing and diagnosis of HIV in infants. Photo Courtesy of UNICEF

    It can take hours to travel even short distances along the ramshackle dirt roads of Malawi, an impoverished African country with high rates of HIV, a virus that has taken a particularly acute toll on children.

    With limited trips from remote towns and villages – where large swaths of the populace live – to one of country’s sparsely scattered hospitals in the capital city of Lilongwe, where they get essential medical services, testing for the virus can be an arduous task.

    But a new experiment conducted this year by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) shows the potential for drones to help change that scenario amid debates over ethical issues and at a time when developing countries around the world are increasingly turning to the aerial devices to assist with humanitarian efforts.

    In March, UNICEF began testing drones to deliver blood samples collected from some of Malawi’s faraway health clinics and flown to the centralized hospital in Lilongwe for analysis, a crucial part of helping those afflicted with HIV.

    Allison Burtch, a hardware specialist with UNICEF, said more than 90 autonomous drone tests were conducted in Malawai through a mobile phone application, transferring pieces of paper with blood samples. In 2014, almost 40,000 children in Malawi were born to HIV-positive mothers. Burtch is hopeful that efforts like these could eventually help lower fatalities from the virus.

    “In Malawi, 50 percent of children who are HIV-positive will die before the age of two,” she said.

    On 9 March 2016, a healthcare worker takes a dried blood spot (DBS) sample from six-week old baby, at Matapila Health Center, in Lilongwe, Malawi. DBS are transported to a central lab for testing. Photo Courtesy of UNICEF

    On 9 March 2016, a healthcare worker takes a dried blood spot (DBS) sample from six-week old baby, at Matapila Health Center, in Lilongwe, Malawi. DBS are transported to a central lab for testing.
    Photo Courtesy of UNICEF

    While drones are often chastised as indiscriminate killing machines in Afghanistan and Syria and feared by privacy advocates in the United States, drone use has skyrocketed around the world in recent years.

    There are now at least 700,000 in the United States alone, according to Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone, which has since 2012 been tracking trends with drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Hundreds of companies are now producing drones around the world.

    In the past several years, drones have been utilized to survey disaster zones, capturing imagery to determine where assistance should be delivered in areas inaccessible by roads.

    In Nepal, drones surveyed the aftermath of devastating earthquakes. In the Philippines, they were deployed to reach out-of-the-way areas of the archipelago struck by a typhoon. But using drones to carry medical supplies in Malawi and Bhutan are gaining steam, said Arthur Holland Michel, co-director for Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone.

    Matternet, a company on the forefront of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles that provided the drone used in the Malawi experiment, has lofty goals for the technology.

    “One of the big moments was this announcement by a company called Matternet, proposing this widescale delivery system in the Third World,” Michel said of the plan released in 2012. “The interest in drones for humanitarian purposes has only grown since then.”

    Andreas Raptopoulos, co-founder of Matternet, said in an interview that while regulations and costs can make the new technology difficult he sees that changing in the next five years as lighter, faster and cheaper drones are created to fit an ever-advancing world.

    “We’re going to figure out how to bring the technology to maturity, and cost, to allow the technology to take off in the developed world,” he said.

    Michel said a push to solve those problems in the developed world is one of the reasons the technology behind drones is expanding so rapidly when used for humanitarian purposes.

    “They can be used for search and rescue if there are survivors, they can be used for logistics and planning,” he said. “You hear these stories of having to drive four hours to cover 50 miles. It hampers economic development and it hampers humanitarian efforts. Bridges and operation roads may not be passable. To have that eye in the sky can be a really crucial resource.”

    Poor infrastructure like the dirt road seen here in Malawi can hamper economic development and the delivery of humanitarian aid. Photo Courtesy of Matternet

    Poor infrastructure like the dirt road seen here in Malawi can hamper economic development and the delivery of humanitarian aid. Photo Courtesy of Matternet

    Patrick Meier, author of the book “Digital Humanitarians,” and the executive director of  the non-profit WeRobotics, which launched this year, said his organization has set up “flying labs” in Nepal, Tanzania and Peru in order to train local teams how to use drones for humanitarian aid catered to their specific needs, which often involves navigating difficult terrains.

    “All of the flying labs have the same framework but with different flavors,” he said. “It could take a river boat five hours to travel 15 miles, with drones under 15 minutes.”

    Michel said while drones have also been tested in the U.S. for the transfer of medical supplies, such as a recent experiment in West Virginia, regulations, overcrowded airspace and adverse weather conditions can slow drones down even as companies like Google and Amazon are pouring resources into utilizing drones as delivery mechanisms.

    “I think that when it comes to humanitarian applications of drones there is a very clear value proposition. It’s a use case that makes sense to everybody. There’s still hurdles on the technological and integration sides of things.”

    UNICEF officials said forming relationships with international governments and the price of using drones are obstacles that need to be overcome.

    “It’s still more expensive to use a drone in Malawi than it is to pay somebody to take (supplies) on a motorbike,” said Chris Fabian, of UNICEF’s Office of Innovation and Ventures.

    But in Malawi the process is also simpler, opening up the door to the possibility of wider-scaled distribution of supplies via drones.

    “Now we’ve seen where the rubber hits the road in Malawi and how that actually works in the field under sometimes very challenging conditions,” Michel said. “That’s the true litmus test where something will become a routine element of humanitarian aid.”

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    Hispanic girl sneezing in classroom

    Photo via Getty Images

    Time and again, Martin Moore’s children get sick with a cold. He hauls them to their doctor, who then informs him that there’s nothing to be done aside from taking them home and waiting it out.

    The experience is maddening for Moore — especially because he’s a virologist. For everything that virologists have learned about rhinoviruses — the cause of the majority of colds — they have not invented a vaccine for them.

    In 2013, Moore wondered if he could make one. He consulted a rhinovirus expert for some advice. Instead, the expert told him, “Oh, there will never be a vaccine for rhinovirus — it’s just not possible.”

    “I thought, ‘Well, let’s look into that,’” recalled Moore, an associate professor at Emory University and a research scholar at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

    Three years later, Moore and his colleagues now have a vaccine that has shown promising results in trials on macaques. The monkeys were able to produce antibodies against many types of rhinoviruses. Moore and his colleagues are now following up on those results with more research and hope to move soon to human trials.

    They’re not alone, however. Other research groups, based at universities and at pharmaceutical companies, are making advances with vaccines of their own. After decades of disappointment and resignation, scientists think the common cold may at last be beatable.

    “There’s a huge amount going on,” said Gary McLean, of Imperial College London, who is working on another vaccine.

    Rhinoviruses were discovered in the early 1960s, and soon afterward a number of researchers tried to make vaccines against them. They soon discovered that rhinoviruses were a wily foe. They’ve evolved into many different forms, and so antibodies to one form (known as a serotype) usually don’t work against any others.

    The last report on a human cold vaccine trial was published in 1975. Since then, there’s been nothing.

    In recent years, however, some scientists have been trying to drum up interest again in a vaccine. They’ve demonstrated that the rhinovirus is not as harmless as it once seemed. “It’s getting more respect as a pathogen,” said Dr. James Gern, a pediatrician at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine who studies colds.

    Colds take an enormous economic toll on families. Between sick days and parents staying home to care for their children, colds drain an estimated $25 billion a year from workplace productivity in the United States.

    Colds can also cause more physical harm than scientists previously appreciated. When most people get a cold, the rhinoviruses stay in their nose. But Gern and others have discovered that some types of rhinovirus can invade deep into the lungs. Many cases of childhood pneumonia turn out to be caused by rhinoviruses.

    Rhinoviruses are especially dangerous for people who already have certain chronic disorders such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Even a mild cold can trigger runaway inflammation in their lungs. It turns out that the majority of asthma attacks are brought on by rhinoviruses.

    “Rhinovirus can cause more disease in certain people, and when I say ‘certain people,’ I mean a lot of people,” said Gern.

    If someone with COPD ends up in the hospital due to a cold-triggered attack, doctors can try to tamp down the inflammation, but the best treatments are not very effective. “A vaccine would stop all that in its tracks before it gets started,” said McLean.

    Over the past decade, McLean and others at Imperial have been studying colds in mice to find new inspirations for a vaccine. They exposed the animals to different parts of rhinoviruses to see how their immune systems responded.

    The cold vaccines that scientists had tested in the 1960s and 1970s had prompted the immune system to make antibodies only to the proteins on the surface of the virus shells. When the vaccinated volunteers got infected again, those antibodies could grab onto the rhinoviruses and summon the immune system to destroy them.

    The problem with this approach is that each serotype has surface proteins with different shapes. Antibodies that can grab onto one serotype slip off another.

    But our immune system can also fight rhinovirus in another way — after they’ve invaded our cells. Once viruses have worked their way inside, their shells break open and they dump out internal proteins and genes. The cells then use these molecules to make new viruses.

    It turns out that cells can grab some of these molecules and push them to their surface. It’s as if they’re pushing a home invasion alarm. Immune cells can learn to recognize these viral proteins. They instruct infected cells to kill themselves and slow down an infection.

    McLean and his colleagues set out to build a new vaccine based on this alarm defense. They whipped up batches of internal proteins from rhinoviruses and injected them into mice. The scientists found that the immune system of the mice could learn to recognize the proteins. If they mixed rhinoviruses with mouse blood, immune cells aggressively attacked infected cells.

    What’s especially exciting about this approach is that the proteins from one type of rhinovirus can trigger a response to other types as well. That’s because the internal proteins they’re targeting are pretty much the same from one type to another. It’s probably impossible for them to evolve into different shapes, because they’d stop doing their essential work.

    When Martin Moore got into the cold vaccine game, he didn’t try to find a new strategy the way the Imperial scientists did. Instead, he tried to update an approach that had been pioneered by University of Virginia scientists in the 1970s.

    The Virginia team had picked out 10 different serotypes and combined them into one shot.

    “It produced some antibody, but it wasn’t great,” said Bruce Hamory, one of the Virginia researchers. “If you challenged someone with a strain that wasn’t in the vaccine, there was no cross-protection.”

    But Moore decided the idea was sound. The only problem was that scientists in the 1970s just didn’t have the tools to make it work. In the 21st century, those tools were now at hand.

    A lot of other scientists didn’t share Moore’s optimism. “It was definitely a risk,” he said. “We broke the bank, people left the lab. You name it. But I just felt this is what I needed to do.”

    To make a new vaccine, Moore needed a lot of rhinoviruses. He also needed a lot of different types of rhinoviruses. So far, scientists have identified 160 types from people with colds.

    To get his hands on the pathogens, Moore contacted James Gern. He knew that Gern has gathered rhinoviruses from his patients for over two decades in order to do research on colds.

    “We probably have one of the world’s biggest collections of kid snot,” said Gern.

    Out of his snot collection, Gern and his colleagues can isolate many different types of rhinoviruses. They can then extract the genes for those viruses and store them. When they want to study a particular type, they simply inject the genes into human cells and let them churn out new viruses. This gene-based method lets them make viruses much faster than in the 1970s, and they can be sure they’re making exactly the type they want.

    For a trial vaccine, Moore decided to ramp up Hamory’s 10-type vaccine to 50. He and his colleagues packed a large number of each type of rhinovirus into a single shot.

    They injected the vaccine into macaques and then later drew blood from the monkeys. When they mixed the viruses into the blood, they got a strong antibody response to 49 out of the 50 types. Moore and his colleagues published the results in Nature Communications, and they’re now moving forward with some additional studies that they hope will open the way to a human trial.

    Meanwhile, the Imperial team has filed a patent on its internal-protein vaccine and is also moving in the same direction. “To convince people to part with large sums of money, you need a lot of preclinical data. And we’ve got about as much as we can at the moment,” said McLean.

    It’s still an open question which strategy will win out. It’s even possible that both will fail. McLean and his colleagues still need to show that a vaccine using a single protein can protect against the full range of rhinoviruses that cause the most colds.

    McLean also wonders how well Moore’s 50-type vaccine would work in the real world. “It’s a great paper, but it’s not showing anything new except for being able to pack in 50 types of the virus into one little injection,” said McLean. “Great, you’re going to get 50 immune responses. That’s going to work for those 50, but it might not work for an extra 30.”

    Gern agrees that’s a concern. “If it really takes 130 types, that’s a lot of manufacturing that would go into one vaccine,” he said. He says it might make sense for now to tailor Moore’s vaccine for just one group of people.

    Only certain types of rhinovirus appear to pose the biggest risk to people with COPD, for example. Scientists might start by testing a cold vaccine for COPD. If that works, they could think about scaling up to a cold vaccine for more people.

    After giving up on a cold vaccine 40 years ago, Hamory likes to hear people talk this way again. “I’m tremendously excited,” he said. “I think it’s absolutely spectacular that people are going back to an important problem that’s laid fallow for so many years.”

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Oct. 20, 2016. Find the original story here.

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    Signage that reads Time Warner is seen at the Time Warner Center in New York City, October 23, 2016. The two companies formed a merger that is likely to come under the scrutiny of federal regulators. Photo By Stephanie Keith/Reuters

    Signage that reads Time Warner is seen at the Time Warner Center in New York City, October 23, 2016. The two companies formed a merger that is likely to come under the scrutiny of federal regulators. Photo By Stephanie Keith/Reuters

    AT&T has come to terms on a $85.4 billion deal to acquire Time Warner, a merger that would make the phone company a telecommunications Goliath and one that lawmakers said is sure to come under the scrutiny of federal regulators over antitrust issues.

    AT&T already is one of the world’s largest communications companies, with more than $147 billion in revenue in 2015, according to its chief executive, Randall L. Stephenson, who would lead the new company if the deal is allowed to go through.

    The merger would couple AT&T’s wireless and television subscribers, numbering in the millions, with Time Warner’s notable network portfolio that covers CNN, HBO and Warner Bros. film, among others, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    “Premium content always wins,” Stephenson said. “It has been true on the big screen, the TV screen and now it’s proving true on the mobile screen.”

    Both sides of the 2016 presidential race have already criticized the deal, including Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine.

    “I’m pro-competition,” Kaine said on Sunday. “Less concentration, I think, is generally helpful especially in the media.”

    The U.S. Justice Department, not the president, has the power to reject such a deal if it violates antitrust laws. AT&T said it is unclear if the Federal Communications Commission will have jurisdiction to review the deal.

    Trump said Saturday that he would block the merger if he won the presidency despite the fact the authority to rebuff such a deal over antitrust laws would be left in the hands of the U.S. Department of Justice, Reuters reported.

    “It’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” said Trump.

    Members of the Senate subcommittee that oversees antitrust issues told Reuters the committee would survey the deal.

    “We have carefully examined consolidation in the cable and video content industries to ensure that it does not harm consumers,” said Republican Sen. Mike Lee and Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar in a joint statement. “An acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T would potentially raise significant antitrust issues, which the subcommittee would carefully examine.”

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    U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) speaks to the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference meeting in Washington DC, U.S. February 10, 2011.   REUTERS/Larry Downing/File Photo - RTX2GDW7

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    By Sam Weber and Laura Fong

    In the battleground state of Pennsylvania, first term Republican senator Pat Toomey is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the country.

    His race with Democratic challenger Katie McGinty, a former state environmental official, is virtually tied with just over two weeks before election day. And with Democrats needing to flip just four Republican senate seats to take control of the chamber if Hillary Clinton wins, the race in Pennsylvania is one of a handful likely to have national implications.

    Across the state Toomey and McGinty have sparred over a litany of issues from taxes to reproductive rights to trade. But it’s Sen. Toomey’s relationship to the top of the Republican party’s ticket that has become a key point in the race. While Republicans across the country have either stood by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, or in some cases distanced themselves completely, Toomey is the only senator running for reelection that hasn’t said whether he will vote for or support his party’s nominee.

    It’s a point that has been repeatedly emphasized by his Democratic challenger Katie McGinty.

    “Every day when ever more horrific evidence comes to light about what and who Donald Trump is and Pat Toomey fails to have the courage to say this is wrong, this is beneath human dignity, McGinty tells NewsHour Weekend. “Pat Toomey is making clear where he stands. That’s with Donald Trump.”

    “I am running an independent race,” says Sen. Toomey in an interview with NewHour Weekend.

    Sen. Toomey argues his race for reelection is separate from the presidential contest. “I think Pennsylvania voters are totally capable of distinguishing between the presidential race, which has in my view, two very badly flawed candidates.”

    In Pennsylvania, running for reelection in a battleground state at the same time as Donald Trump has complicated the dynamic for Sen. Toomey.

    More than a fifth of the statewide electorate is in the suburban “collar” counties surrounding Philadelphia, where recent polling shows Trump trailing by nearly 30 points behind Clinton. At the same time, Sen. Toomey needs to not alienate Trump’s most fervent supporters.

    “[Toomey’s] on that tightrope,” says G. Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. “Somewhere he’s gotta find a middle road to get both of them.”

    With fewer and fewer voters choosing to “split” their tickets and vote for president of one party and congressional representative of another party, Sen. Toomey’s task is even more difficult.

    “If one of the two presidential candidates wins let’s say seven, eight, nine points, I think it’s gonna be very difficult, if not impossible, for the Senate candidate in the other party to prevail,” says Madonna.

    Read the full transcript below.

    JEFF GREENFIELD, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: This is Trump Country—Wilkes-Barre, in northeast Pennsylvania—where his fervent backers offer cheers for the Republican presidential nominee.

    DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Everyone in Pennsylvania wants Trump you know…

    JEFF GREENFIELD: But outside the event, Trump backers offer tough words for the party’s incumbent Republican senator, Pat Toomey, who is the only senator running for reelection who hasn’t said whether he supports or will vote for Trump.

    DONALD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: He should endorse Trump. He’s a Republican. He should’ve done it.

    He’s not listening to the will of the people.

    I don’t like the arrogance, and he’s part of the establishment.

    A day later, at a Toomey breakfast 100 miles to the south, in the Philadelphia suburbs, the senator offers them no comfort.

    SEN. PAT TOOMEY, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: I had hoped that Donald Trump would persuade me to be an enthusiastic supporter. That had been what I hoped. I’ve supported every Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan without exception. But at this point, I remain unpersuaded.

    JEFF GREENFIELD: To many of the voters at this event, that is exactly that distance they admire.

    TOOMEY SUPPORTER: I don’t believe that you have to think the same way as everybody else all the time.

    JEFF GREENFIELD: Elected as a conservative Republican during the 2010 midterm wave, Toomey points to his ability to work in a bipartisan fashion… Passing legislation signed by President Obama to help small businesses and working with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin after the Newtown school massacre to require universal background checks for anyone buying a gun.

    Katie Mcginty is Toomey’s Democratic challenger. She worked for two Pennsylvania governors and in Bill Clinton’s administration…And Hillary Clinton lent her support in Pennsylvania this weekend.

    HILLARY CLINTON: I hope that Philadelphia will send Katie McGinty, on behalf of Pennsylvania, to the United States Senate!

    Both are tying Toomey to the top of the Republican ticket.

    KATIE MCGINTY, (D) Pennsylvania Senate Candidate: Every day whenever more
    horrific evidence comes to light about what and who Donald Trump is and Pat Toomey fails to have the courage to say this is wrong, this is beneath human dignity. Pat Toomey is making clear where he stands. That’s with Donald Trump and that’s against the values, the family values that Pennsylvanians really stand for and honor.

    PAT TOOMEY: I think Pennsylvania voters are totally capable of distinguishing between the presidential race, which has in my view, two very badly flawed candidates, and the senate race, which is a totally different thing. So I am running an independent race. I have from Day One. I’ve been an independent voice, and I think that Pennsylvanians will make a separate judgment.

    JEFF GREENFIELD: That’s why Toomey invited Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins—who has flatly said she will not be voting for Trump — to underscore his message.

    SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: He puts people ahead of politics; he is beholden to no one…”

    JEFF GREENFIELD: Toomey’s struggle to open daylight between himself and Trump is
    playing out across the country for other Republican Senators in battleground states where Trump is trailing or falling in the polls. Some–like John McCain and Kelly Ayotte–broke with Trump following the release of the Access Hollywood video showing Trump speaking lewdly and disparagingly about women.

    G. TERRY MADONNA, FRANKLIN AND MARSHALL COLLEGE: If one of the two presidential candidates wins let’s say seven, eight, nine points, I think it’s gonna be very difficult, if not impossible, for the Senate candidate in the other party to prevail.”

    JEFF GREENFIELD: Terry Madonna directs the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

    G. TERRY MADONNA: Toomey needs to do two things. Win a high percentage of the white, working class voters, particularly in the southwestern part of Pennsylvania and the northeast, that’s Trump’s biggest area of support and win the suburban counties with the college-educated voters that Hillary Clinton is winning right now. So he’s on that tightrope. Somewhere he’s gotta find a middle road to get both of them. And that’s very difficult.

    JEFF GREENFIELD: And it’s especially difficult, Madonna adds, because Pennsylvanians and voters nationwide are splitting their tickets much less than in past elections. That is, they are more likely to vote for a presidential candidate and congressional candidate of the same party.

    JEFF GREENFIELD: The problem for Senator Toomey — as with many other endangered Republican incumbents — lies in places like this: these are the suburbs of Philadelphia. Once reliably Republican, they’ve grown increasingly Democratic in presidential years. A trend likely to accelerate given who is at the top of the GOP ticket

    The four large suburban counties surrounding Philadelphia make up more than a fifth of the state’s electorate and a recent poll of likely voters in these counties found Clinton is preferred over Trump by 28 percentage points.

    At Main Line School Night, a non-profit community education program in Delaware County, I sat down with three women who have voted Republican in the past, but who don’t support Trump. Carole Rubley supports Clinton.

    CAROLE RUBLEY, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: I was a Republican until one month before the primary, when I realized it was going to be, at that point, between Trump and Ted Cruz. So, I switched. It was really hard after 40 years.

    JEFF GREENFIELD: So it sounds– it sounds like again, if the Republicans had put someone else on the ticket like a Kasich or a Bush or a Rubio or somebody, you might have been tempted to vote Republican?

    CAROLE RUBLEY: I would have considered that candidate, absolutely.

    JEFF GREENFIELD: Constance Carino says she’s not voting for either presidential candidate, but will likely support Toomey in the senate race.

    What do you think is leaning you more towards Toomey than his opponent?

    CONSTANCE CARINO, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: I don’t like one party in control, okay. And I’m really very worried about the senate, in particular, turning. And so, I would like to have a balance. I think it’s the only chance.”

    JEFF GREENFIELD: The check and balance of a Republican congress–


    JEFF GREENFIELD: –and a Democratic president appeals to you?”

    CONSTANCE CARINO: It does. It does. It really does. I like it.

    JEFF GREENFIELD: Barbara Cohen is for Clinton and says she plans to vote for Democrat Katie McGinty because of the Trump factor.

    BARBARA COHEN: I’ve really thought very hard about this, and it’s just I don’t trust
    Toomey. I feel he’s trying to straddle a fence in so far, he hasn’t endorsed Trump. On the other hand, he hasn’t come out in a brave open way, the way Senator McCain has done, for example. I respect that.”

    JEFF GREENFIELD: For Democrat Katie McGinty, the argument is very simple. Whatever Senator Toomey says, he and Donald Trump are two peas in a pod.

    Even when she was campaigning with Democratic New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for better childcare for working parents, Trump was still front and center.

    The argument that your opponent is making that I can work across party lines, I have shown that, I’m not a rubber stamp, and that you would simply
    do what a President Clinton wants, we need checks and balances, to which you say?

    KATIE MCGINTY: Well, it’s time for Senator Toomey to stand up right now today, and show us that he’s ready to stand up to Donald Trump, not in Washington, right here and let us know: are you voting for Donald Trump, or are you not?

    JEFF GREENFIELD: It’s a question dominating their TV ads — so many this campaign has become the most expensive Senate race in the country.

    MCGINTY POLITICAL AD: Even after Trump bragged about sexually assaulting
    women, Toomey stood by him.

    TOOMEY POLITICAL AD: What’s important for Pennsylvanians is having a senator who will stand up to any president’s bad ideas.

    JEFF GREENFIELD: The bipartisan bill to tighten background checks for gun buyers failed to pass the Senate.

    SEN. PAT TOOMEY, SENATE FLOOR: The goal was to see if we can find a way to make it a little bit more difficult for the people who have no legal right to have a gun, for them to obtain it.

    JEFF GREENFIELD: Toomey’s stand earned him the endorsements of gun safety leaders like former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

    But Toomey’s stance cost him the support of some gun rights advocates in Pennsylvania. David Dalton is the founder of the Pennsylvania-based American Gun Owners Alliance. He won’t vote for Sen. Toomey.

    DAVID DALTON, AMERICAN GUN OWNERS ALLIANCE: It’s a scary situation. But I honestly believe and so do many other groups in the state that if we do vote for Toomey, we’re giving credence to him and Bloomberg and Giffords. It’s basically come down to vote for anyone but Toomey if you believe in gun rights. We want to tell the Republican Party: ‘enough is enough.’ If you don’t want to back us anymore, we’re not going to back you.

    JEFF GREENFIELD: McGinty argues her positions on gun control are even stronger than Toomey’s and that he’s out-of-step with Pennsylvanians on several key issues.

    KATIE MCGINTY: Pat Toomey is not only right, he’s extreme right. Not only wanting to defund Planned Parenthood but shut down the entire government to do it. A rare Republican vote against bipartisan legislation that offered tax cuts to families to afford college. Pat Toomey’s way out of the mainstream.

    JEFF GREENFIELD: Toomey remains optimistic that his message — that he can build
    bridges if he is sent back to Washington — is connecting at home.

    This has been a very polarizing election at the top of the ticket. It’s been ugly. And that does make it more difficult. But that doesn’t mean we give up.

    JEFF GREENFIELD: With just a little more than two weeks until the election, the latest polls show the race between Toomey and McGinty virtually tied…which means that a handful of Pennsylvania voters could well determine who controls the Senate next year..

    The post GOP incumbent walks line in PA on supporting Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Two people talk inside an AT&T store in New York City, October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith - RTX2Q41X

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: If federal regulators sign off, there will be a huge new media company on the landscape next year. Telecom giant AT&T will buy Time Warner for more than $85 billion in a half cash, half stock deal. AT&T, the nation’s second largest cell phone carrier, will gain control of TV networks like HBO, TNT, and CNN, and the Time Warner Movie Studio.

    The boards of directors of both companies approved the deal last night, and say they expect it to close next year. This is the biggest deal of its kind since Comcast acquired NBC/Universal five years ago.

    Joining me now for some more analysis and what it might mean for you is one of the “Wall Street Journal” reporters who broke the news, Keach Hagey.

    So, why did they do this?

    KEACH HAGEY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, the reason is both companies are facing rapidly changing world, where basically your telephone is becoming your television. And they have both been scrambling to deal with that in different ways.

    AT&T is facing slower growth on its side. They need to grow by acquiring businesses. As we’ve seen them do, they acquire DirecTV.

    And Time Warner is struggling with the fact that people are migrating away from paying these big fat cable bills where a lot of their money comes from. They are going on to streaming services. They’re going on to Netflix and their business is being cramped.

    And the other thing is, Time Warner is one of the prettiest girls at the dance. That’s what a lot of people call it, you know? They are a company that could be bought. And as the industry is facing this consolidation, they’re going to be the first one to go.

    SREENIVASAN: So, now we have these titanic forces lining up much. We’ve got Verizon who bought AOL and is in the process of finishing up an acquisition of Yahoo. We’ve got Comcast, NBCUniversal, and then this. I mean, these are huge companies now that we didn’t really see a couple of years ago.

    HAGEY: Wild. So, what we’re seeing is a wave of vertical integration, and it seems like regulators are kind of OK with that. They have been approving these deals whereas long as it is a supplier that you’re buying, not a direct competitor, that’s fine. These mergers have conditions on them. But generally speaking, that’s the way that folks are bulking up.

    SREENIVASAN: Time Warner was bought famously by AOL before. It didn’t turn out to be a great deal. Has the community learned from what’s gone wrong and also, have the regulators learned from what’s happened in some of these acquisitions that didn’t make sense at least from the regulatory side.

    HAGEY: Folks at Time Warner say what is different this time is that the distribution mechanism is so much more important to whether television succeeds or fails, right? Whether you watch a show, you need to be able to watch it on a mobile device. You need to be able to watch on demand. And the distributors have so much control over that, that it’s a little — it’s quite different than it was, you know, circa 2000.

    As far as the regulators, we saw Comcast buy NBCUniversal, and the regulators did put some conditions around that, which when Comcast went and tried to buy Time Warner cable, they felt like that Comcast wasn’t really a perfectly good actor about those, and those conditions didn’t work out so well. And there were a lot of lessons to learned and there are a lot of people who said, you know, I don’t think that deal, Comcast/NBCUniversal would have been approved today.

    So, we shall — we will have a very interesting year in front to see if this still gets approved.

    So, other concerns from a consumer standpoint if I have, for example, an AT&T phone that I could have access to HBO for free. That’s great if I’m an AT&T consumer, but it might not be that great if I’m a T-Mobile customer.

    HAGEY: That’s the central question, because in order to actually get synergies from this, when you don’t have overlapping businesses, you know, what’s the benefit to AT&T unless it can do something like that. However, there is a lot of– there is a general feeling from everyone that I’ve talked to that they’re not going to be able to do that, right? They’re not going to be able to have an offering where they have exclusive access to Time Warner content.

    As Randall Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T, said on a call last night, Time Warner has built a great business out of selling its content to many distributors and it is going to continue to do that. Nothing’s going to change. We’ll see.

    SREENIVASAN: All right. Keach Hagey from “The Wall Street Journal” — thanks for joining us.

    HAGEY: Thanks for having me.

    The post What does AT&T, Time Warner merger mean? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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