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

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: More than ever before, a big part of this election campaign has played itself out on social media.

    No doubt the candidates and their campaigns have tried to take advantage of these platforms. But there’s been a much bigger role this year as well for unseen players. You might call it the rise of the bots.

    Miles O’Brien has the story, part of our weekly reporting about on the Leading Edge of science and technology.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee: Donald supported the invasion of Iraq.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: Wrong.

    HILLARY CLINTON: That is absolutely proved over and over again.

    DONALD TRUMP: Wrong. Wrong.

    HILLARY CLINTON: He actually…

    MILES O’BRIEN: Much as we may wish otherwise, the race for the Oval Office is not over. But there is already one clear winner, by acclamation, Twitter.

    Thanks to a candidate who prefers campaigning in 140-character spurts, the social networking platform has become an essential political forum. What could go wrong with that? Plenty. Tweeters, beware.

    FILIPPO MENCZER, Indiana University: Because so much of the opinions that we form and the information that we digest comes from social networks and social media, it is possible to try and manipulate the network to control opinions.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Filippo Menczer is director of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems at Indiana University. He says the junction of the political and computer sciences is a dangerous place for democracy.

    FILIPPO MENCZER: Just like people have tried to influence elections forever without social media, why wouldn’t they also try with social media? Just like any other tool and technology, it can be used for good things and it can also be manipulated or abused.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Menczer and his team are researching the shadowy world of bots, software programmed to mimic humans and engage with them. You probably encounter bots all the time

    ACTRESS: What’s my day look like?

    COMPUTER VOICE: Not bad. Only two meetings today.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Whether it’s Apple’s Siri.

    ACTOR: Alexa, play rock music.

    COMPUTER VOICE: Rock music.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Amazon’s Alexa.

    ACTOR: Alexa, stop.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Or the chat box that pops up offering advice when your cable TV is on the fritz. A good one is hard to differentiate from a real person. And that’s the trouble.

    Clever bots, employed in a stealthy, strategic manner, can put a virtual finger on the scale of political discourse. Bots generated a huge volume of tweets pro and con during the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. They also promoted candidates in the 2014 India elections. ISIS uses bots to amplify propaganda by creating thousands of phony accounts.

    FILIPPO MENCZER: It’s like very easy to create one or 10 or 100 or 1,000 accounts controlled by that campaign and make it look like these are just regular people who are expressing their freedom of speech.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Bots first reared their ugly heads in U.S. presidential politics in 2012. Mitt Romney got caught buying bots when he gained more than 140,000 followers in two days.

    For a few dollars, anyone can buy a few thousand bots that can be deployed to strengthen your Twitter prowess. But this go-round, the bots are doing much more than providing artificial popularity.

    Phil Howard is a professor of the Internet at Oxford University.

    PHIL HOWARD, University of Oxford: You program the bots that are following you to repeat your message. And what happens is that a larger and larger number of people see the retweets and think, this is an important position paper or this is a great new idea.

    DONALD TRUMP: You’re talking about taking out ISIS, but you were there and you were secretary of state when it was a little infant.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Howard analyzed tweets during the first presidential debate. He found bots were behind one-fifth of pro-Clinton Twitter traffic, and nearly one-third of pro-Trump tweets.

    PHIL HOWARD: The real problem here is that not all users can tell when the content that comes up in their social media feed is actually generated by these bots.

    It’s very difficult to know what the overall impact is on public opinion, but we do know that most Americans can’t distinguish these bots from real users.

    MILES O’BRIEN: It’s hard enough for computer scientists and, for that matter, Twitter itself. The company admits 8.5 percent of its accounts are updated with no discernible human action.

    But that includes useful applications like TweetDeck, as well as harmful bots. Finding them is a challenge. Menczer and his team are working on this. They visualize Twitter traffic, helping them find accounts that look and act suspiciously nonhuman.

    FILIPPO MENCZER: Very often, there are patterns that we can still discern. They’re not necessarily easy for the human eye, but, sometimes, the machine-learning algorithms, by looking at over 1,000 features, they can recognize some patterns that make one particular account similar to other bots.

    MILES O’BRIEN: The result is a Web site called BotOrNot, which analyzes Twitter accounts based on the frequency of tweets, the type of networks and friends, and the sentiment the tweets convey.

    This Twitterbot account simply repeats pro-Hillary Reddit postings. BotOrNot predicts it is 70 percent likely to be a bot.

    PHIL HOWARD: One of the fun things about studying bots is that it’s very difficult based on the code alone to predict what they will do. And even designers can’t always predict what a bot will do.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Brad Hayes can attest to that. He is a postdoctoral associate at MIT. He read a Boston Globe article that concluded Donald Trump speaks at the level of a fourth-grader. To him, that sounded like good grist for some Twitterbot fun.

    BRAD HAYES, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Scientist: I went to work, and I created this bot, and I went through and grabbed all of the transcripts I could find from his speeches, the Republican debates, from his Twitter feed, basically anything, any kind of Donald Trump information, things that he has said, such that I could train the statistical model on that.

    MILES O’BRIEN: His bot, DeepDrumpf, doesn’t understand language, per se, but rather detects patterns in the sequence of letters.

    DONALD TRUMP: A lot of things are going on folks, a lot of things.

    MILES O’BRIEN: By analyzing reams of Trump speeches, it can make statistically valid and frequently humorous predictions of how the real Donald Trump might complete sentences that Brad begins.

    BRAD HAYES: “I’m a great judge of this country. We have to control everybody and let them fight each other. They won’t refuse me. I will make a fortune.”

    MILES O’BRIEN: What’s your best tweet?

    BRAD HAYES: “If I don’t win in the end, I will fire the entire American people. We cannot achieve peace if I don’t want it.”

    MILES O’BRIEN: Does it kind of surprise you at times what comes out?

    BRAD HAYES: Absolutely. As a computer scientist, the most surprising thing is that this kind of simple model can create such great results.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Which is why he doesn’t let his bot tweet without human supervision. DeepDrumpf is all in good fun and clearly labeled a bot.

    But, tweeter, beware of the more nefarious bots that lurk out there in the Twitterverse. What may seem like a viral grassroots movement can be nothing more than an empty field covered with Astroturf. So, take a moment to check before you retweet.

    Miles O’Brien, the “PBS NewsHour,” Boston.

    The post Cracking the stealth political influence of bots appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The federal budget deficit is expected to rise to $544 billion this year,  the first time since 2009, according to a  Congressional Budget Office report released Tuesday. Image by PBS NewsHour

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Another big numbers focus during this election has been on money, how the candidates have raised and spent it, and what that says about their campaigns.

    Matea Gold covers money and influence for The Washington Post, and she joins us now.

    Matea, welcome back to the program.

    So, tell us, what do we know at this point about what Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, how much they have raised and how much they have spent?

    MATEA GOLD, The Washington Post: So, what’s remarkable is that Hillary Clinton has raised more than double Donald Trump, and her campaign committee, nearly $500 million, to his $219 million. And so she is by default also vastly outspending him.

    In the month of September, she plowed $95 million into her campaign effort; $66 million of that went into television ads alone. Donald Trump spent a third of that on television ads, as he’s trying to really build up his voter file. We saw a lot of money going into getting voter data, but really he is getting outflanked by Clinton on the money race in every regard.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What else can you tell us, Matea, about what they’re spending money on, staff organization, get-out-the-vote?

    MATEA GOLD: What is really interesting is, if you look at the campaign spending strategy, you see a reflection of the infrastructure that they have invested in.

    So, Clinton, for example, had 815 staffers on her payroll at the end of September. That’s compared to 168 staffers that Trump had on his payroll. And what you see in there is the investment that Clinton is making in a ground game. She has staffers deployed all across the country in an effort to turn out the vote.

    Trump, on the other hand, is leaning much more heavily on the RNC to provide that voter mobilization effort.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, Matea, you were telling us, it’s interesting to look at how much Donald Trump himself is putting into his campaign. What do you see in that regard?

    MATEA GOLD: What’s been very curious is that Trump continues to insist that he’s putting $100 million, if not more, into his campaign of his own personal funds.

    As of now, we have only seen $56 million. That’s a large sum, but obviously not close to $100 million. He has a very short remaining window of time to put in the remaining $44 million, and we will see if that actually comes to be.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what about in terms of reimbursing himself, the campaign? How does that work and how typical is that?

    MATEA GOLD: So, the Trump campaign has used a lot of Trump properties as he has been making his bid for the White House. They have had events at Trump hotels. They have their campaign headquarters in Trump Tower.

    And, under the law, he’s not allowed to let those companies donate those services. So, he does have to reimburse them for it. But his decision to use Trump companies in the pursuit of his campaign means that he’s also putting a lot of money back into his own companies, more than $9 million to date, including $1 million in reimbursements last month.

    So, the majority of that money has gone to reimburse TAG Air, which is his private airline.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, Matea, you also wrote this week that Donald Trump has decided some days ago to stop holding big-dollar fund-raising events for himself and the GOP. Why do that?

    MATEA GOLD: So, it is typical at this point for the presidential candidates to get off the money circuit and just stick to campaign events and rallies.

    But what’s unusual is, the Trump campaign didn’t set up a schedule of fund-raising events for surrogates to continue to bring in high-dollar donations to support party in these final days. Clinton has 41 events scheduled on the books between now and November 3. The Trump campaign now says they have a handful of events. They might do more ad hoc events.

    But they have taken a very different approach to this. They said that they are raising a lot of money online, some of which will go to the partly, but the majority of their efforts right now are on — is on making his case to voters.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, Matea, you were talking to us about what you have noted in terms of how Clinton is raising big sums of money from groups that were, frankly, enabled to give money by that famous Supreme Court decision Citizens United.

    MATEA GOLD: Right.

    One thing that is such a dramatic storyline in the money race, I think, this year is the full embrace by Clinton of super PACs, which were really entities that President Obama was very reluctant to support and use to his reelection advantage.

    But, by contrast, Clinton, from the very beginning of her race, made it clear that she wanted donors to support these groups. Because of that, she’s been able to raise, in conjunction with super PACs and the party, $1.1 billion in pursuit of the White House.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, you said that you were surprised the Democrats have raised as much money as they have this cycle.

    MATEA GOLD: Well, I don’t think anyone would have predicted when the cycle started that Democrats would win at the money race.

    But we have seen that the super PACs that have formed to support Trump have not been very well-organized. They have gotten conflicting messages from the campaign. And, because of that, donors have been reluctant, until recently, to write big checks.

    Because the Democrats were so organized on the big-money front, they have been able to collect large checks from the very beginning of this race, and now they have the resources to use that money in the final stretch.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A remarkable set of stories. Nobody follows this more closely than you do.

    Matea Gold with The Washington Post, we thank you.

    MATEA GOLD: Thanks, Judy.

    The post Days to go, Clinton and Democrats are winning the money race appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton greets supporters during a campaign rally in Lake Worth, Florida, U.S. October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTX2QKWU

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We dig in now to the numbers in the race for the White House, with most national and battleground state polls showing Hillary Clinton ahead.

    As the number of undecided voters shrink by the day, we are joined by two people who have made a career in polling. Democratic pollster Peter Hart is founder of Hart Research and Associates. He is fresh from conducting a focus group of voters in Charlotte, North Carolina. And Whit Ayres, he’s a Republican pollster and author of the book “2016 and Beyond: How Republicans Can Elect a President in the New America.”

    And welcome to both of you.

    Let’s talk about where this race stands nationally.

    Peter, what does it look like?

    PETER HART, Democratic Pollster: Well, it looks pretty uphill if you’re Donald Trump and on that side. You look at Hillary Clinton, she stands in much better shape, and the organizational efforts who are going to be important for her. But I think she is primed to do very well on election night.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see it, Whit?

    WHIT AYRES, Republican Pollster: If you look at an average of recent polls, Judy, Hillary Clinton is ahead by about 6 percentage points.

    To put that in perspective, Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama in 2012 by four points, and John McCain lost to Barack Obama in 2008 by seven points. So, the deficit now is somewhere between the 2008 and 2012 numbers.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Peter, if people watching want to know, OK, who and what are contributing to her doing well and his not doing as well, how would you describe that?

    PETER HART: Well, she has broadened beyond the traditional Democratic coalition, and she’s reaching across to independents. But she’s doing exceptionally well with women at this stage in the game.

    I think that all the troubles that Donald Trump has had and his difficulties have parlayed a situation where independent women are moving across. And, also, women who have college education, that vote went for Romney four years ago. It certainly is going to be Democratic this time around.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And non-white.

    PETER HART: Oh, definitely the non-white voters are there. And the millennials are also very strong.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Whit, what about Donald Trump? Where is he doing well and where is he struggling?

    WHIT AYRES: Donald Trump has based his entire campaign on getting a higher turnout of whites and getting a large proportion of whites.

    The problem with that is that every single presidential election since 1996, the proportion of whites has gone down by two, three, or four percentage point. This year will probably be about 70 percent white and 30 percent non-white.

    But trying to win a national election in this environment by getting a larger and larger share of a smaller and smaller proportion of the electorate is a losing strategic proposition.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Having said that, Peter, you come, as we said, from conducting this focus group last night, undecided voters, Charlotte, North Carolina.

    PETER HART: Late deciders.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Late deciders.

    PETER HART: OK.

    So these are people who waited until after the convention and have now jumped in, and some of them still remain undecided. And what’s so fascinating is, we started the race where people were unhappy with the world. They remain unhappy with the world, but they’re more unhappy with the candidates.

    I mean, they look at one as unfit and the other as untrustworthy. So, these poor people are reaching the end of the road, and, essentially, they don’t know what to do. The interesting thing is, there were three women in the group, all of whom should be in the Republican column, and they would like to be there, but they just cannot stomach Donald Trump.

    They don’t find him as acceptable. They find him as a bully. They find him as a baby. They just — everything about him bothers them. So they can’t be with him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Whit, have we seen anything — have you seen anything like this in your years of polling?

    WHIT AYRES: We have never seen anything like Donald Trump before and probably won’t for the rest of our lives.

    (LAUGHTER)

    WHIT AYRES: It’s amazing, though, Judy. Two-thirds of the people in this country are unsatisfied with the direction of the country. They want a change.

    You would think that Donald Trump would be able to tap into that successfully, but he has run his entire campaign preaching to the converted and trashing everyone else. Consequently, he basically is ending the campaign right where he started it, somewhere in the low 40s.

    And so a general election strategy that involves revving up your own supporters, but not reaching out, is not a successful strategy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Peter, back to this question about where the race is overall, is there a path to victory for Donald Trump at this point?

    PETER HART: No.

    And I say that. Obviously, turnout is critical. And African-Americans are less enthusiastic than they were in 2008 and 2012. Hispanics are — seem to be as interested, millennials much less interested. So, I think Barack Obama becomes the key to this.

    He has been an exceptional surrogate, and essentially bringing across those voters. And I think Michelle Obama has become sort of the moral center of this campaign, and there’s nobody that we have found that is more popular. So, I actually think the Obamas become the legacy and the reason that Hillary Clinton can win.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Whit, what do you see? Do you see there’s a path of some kind for Donald Trump?

    WHIT AYRES: It would be like drawing an inside straight. He would have to win every single swing state that’s remotely close right now, and that’s a very, very high hill to climb with less than two weeks to go.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Whit, you were also telling us that — something that strikes but this election year is the separation between what you call the Trump brand and the Republican brand. What did you mean by that?

    WHIT AYRES: There’s a dramatic difference between the Trump brand and the Republican brand, in part because Trump is not really a Republican. What that means for down-ballot races is…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Senate and the House.

    WHIT AYRES: Yes, the Senate and the House, is that a lot of Republican candidates are running well ahead of Donald Trump, even in these swing states.

    Candidates like Rob Portman in Ohio, Marco Rubio in Florida, Chuck Grassley in Iowa, John McCain in Arizona are all running well ahead of Trump. And that is the hope that Republicans have that we could actually do well in congressional and Senate races.

    It bears mentioning that when Bob Dole lost to Bill Clinton in 1996 by 8.5 points, Republicans picked up two Senate seats. So it’s not unheard of.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Peter, how do you see these Senate races going?

    PETER HART: Well, I think the Senate is — the Republicans are having a very difficult time, because they have so many seats up, and the mentions that Whit made are important.

    But you really have to go to a different side of it. You look at so many of these states, whether it is Pennsylvania or New Hampshire or even North Carolina and Wisconsin and Illinois, all of those seats are going to be Democratic seats, in part because they will have the coattails of Hillary Clinton. And you can add Missouri there.

    So, I think the Democrats are going to have the majority, I think somewhere in 51 to 52 seats. That would be my take.

    WHIT AYRES: I’m not willing to concede all those seats today, Peter.

    (LAUGHTER)

    WHIT AYRES: I think a lot of them are very close. I think Republicans are running very good campaigns for the Senate in those — in those states. And I am not giving up hope that Republicans can hold on to both the House and the Senate.

    PETER HART: Underline hope.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We’re going to have you both back after the election and look at the numbers.

    Peter Hart, Whit Ayres, thank you both.

    WHIT AYRES: Thank you. Enjoyed being with you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.

    The post What pollsters are predicting for Election Day appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Hiji Behram Khan, father of Dilawar, a police cadet who was killed in Monday's attack on the Police Training College, holds pictures of his son outside his home on the outskirts of Quetta, Pakistan, October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro - RTX2QKB8

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Pakistan’s city of Quetta virtually closed down to mourn 61 victims of a massacre at a police academy. The assault, late Monday, targeted cadets as they slept. More than half-a-million people live in Quetta, but today the streets were mostly empty as businesses and offices memorialized the victims. Both an Islamic State affiliate and a Taliban splinter group have claimed responsibility.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Taliban is denying it kidnapped and killed 26 civilians in Afghanistan. The victims were taken to a hospital morgue today. They had been abducted in the remote central province of Ghor on Tuesday.

    Farther east, Taliban fighters did cut the main highway linking Kabul to Kandahar. It’s the latest in a series of assaults.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: New warnings today from Iraq that Islamic State fighters in Mosul are killing and kidnapping scores of civilians. At the same time, thousands of others are fleeing to freedom, as government troops advance.

    Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News reports from the front lines.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN, ITN: The road to Mosul is paved with bad intentions, the smoldering oil drums and tires of ISIS fighters who hoped the smoke would save them from coalition airstrikes, and the skeletons of cars driven by suicide bombers towards the front line.

    Behind this wall of earth lies a village called Bazwaia, this the border of a shrinking caliphate of fear. Bazwaia is the only village now lying between us and Mosul, which lies six miles down the road from here. At this rate, Iraqi special forces will be in the suburbs of the city within the next few days.

    All the homes lie abandoned, but this one is full of surprises, for, if and when the owners return, they will find a Russian T-54 tank parked in their living room, an attempt by the jihadists to hide it from airstrikes.

    Running along the back garden is an ISIS tunnel stretching for hundreds of meters, complete with breathing holes for the fighters below. Last night, Iraqi troops thought they heard somebody inside, so they fired into it and set it alight.

    And villagers who survived the fierce bombardment of the last 10 days are now leaving, heading through the fields to freedom after enduring more than two years of ISIS rule. This dusty refugee camp is the home which awaits them, the men of fighting age at first held at gunpoint amid checks they are not ISIS militants themselves.

    Along the outside of the camp fence, the tears of new arrivals, those who escaped ISIS before the militants arrived now reunited with those who were trapped and couldn’t leave until now. Over 10,000 have been displaced since this offensive began, 1,000 arriving here this morning. And, as the army advances towards Mosul, many more are expected to arrive.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In Israel, 13 people have been charged with inciting violence in a video showing Jewish extremists at a wedding. It showed rowdy celebrants holding weapons and even stabbing a picture of a Palestinian toddler. The child had died when his family’s home was firebombed.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: French officials have finished clearing the Calais migrant camp given the name the Jungle ahead of schedule. More than 6,000 people were relocated to other sites. Their departure left firefighters to fight fires set by some of the camp dwellers. The regional prefect said it’s a custom among Afghan migrants.

    FABIENNE BUCCIO, Calais Regional Prefect (through translator): They have told us that it’s a tradition which is very established: When you go, you burn. So we organized ourselves in advance. Firefighters are actually here 24 hours a day, so there’s no big risk of the fire spreading.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, the U.N. reports 2016 is now the deadliest year on record for migrants trying to reach Europe. It says that at least 3,800 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, more than all of last year.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Two earthquakes rocked Central Italy tonight, sending shockwaves across the country just two months after another quake killed nearly 300 people. The new tremors were centered six miles below ground near the town of Visso, 110 miles north of Rome. Around Visso, several old churches and other buildings collapsed into rubble. The quakes also closed some roads and injured two people.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And this was a mixed day on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 30 points to close at 18199. The Nasdaq fell 33 points, and the S&P 500 slipped three.

    The post News Wrap: Pakistani city shuts down to mourn massacre victims appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    (L-R) Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, Melania Trump, Tiffany Trump and Ivanka Trump attend an official ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Trump International Hotel in Washington U.S., October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron - RTX2QKOZ

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    HARI SREENIVASAN:  With 13 days to go, the presidential campaign ran the gamut today, from rallies to ribbon-cutting.

    John Yang begins our coverage.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee:  If people get out and vote, we will have a victory on November the 8th.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee:  I’m asking America to join me in dreaming big.

    JOHN YANG:  Scenes of two campaigns today just minutes apart.  Donald Trump taking time away from the stump to tend to other business, officially opening the new Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.,

    DONALD TRUMP:  My theme today is five words, under budget and ahead of schedule.  Today is a metaphor for what we can accomplish for this country.

    JOHN YANG:  Hillary Clinton campaigning in battleground Florida on her 69th birthday suggesting a darker side to Trump’s ribbon-cutting.

    HILLARY CLINTON:  He relied on undocumented workers to make his project cheaper.  And most of the products in the rooms were made overseas.

    JOHN YANG:  Others are getting in on the campaign combat, too.

    DONALD TRUMP:  Congratulations, Newt, on last night.

    JOHN YANG:  Today, Trump publicly praised House Speaker Newt Gingrich for taking on FOX News Megyn Kelly over the sexual allegations against the nominee.

    FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, Former speaker of the House:  I’m sick and tired of people like you using language that is inflammatory that is not true.

    MEGYN KELLY, FOX News:  Excuse me, Mr. Speaker.  You have no idea whether it’s true or not.  What we know is that…

    (CROSSTALK)

    NEWT GINGRICH:  Hillary Clinton in a secret speech in Brazil to a bank that pays her $225,000 saying her dream is an open border, where 600 million people could come to America, that’s not worth covering?

    MEGYN KELLY:  That is worth covering, and we did.

    NEWT GINGRICH:  And you want to go back through the tapes on your show recently?  You are fascinated with sex, and you don’t care about public policy.

    JOHN YANG:  And after Vice President Biden said he’d like to take Trump behind the high school gym, Trump said bring it on.

    DONALD TRUMP:  Did you see where Biden wants to take me?  To the back of the barn.  Me.  He wants to.  I would love that.  I would love that.

    JOHN YANG:  Trump returned to campaigning this afternoon in another crucial state, North Carolina.

    As the candidates drive to the finish, Republicans are saying promised there would be no honeymoon if Clinton wins the White House and the GOP holds the House.  Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz told The Washington Post there would be immediate hearings into Clinton’s time at the State Department.  He said they already have two years’ worth of material lined up.

    Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr. told the “NewsHour” that the people he’s met during the campaign has him thinking about a political future for himself.

    DONALD TRUMP JR.:  It’d be an honor to be able to one do that.  I think I have got to get my kids through school, and after this, I may need a good 10-year break from politics.  But, you know, again, there is a rush to it.  I mean, there is something very exciting and very moving and humbling when you are speaking with those people.

    JOHN YANG:  So, someday, there could be another candidate named Trump.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m John Yang.

    The post Candidates use Trump’s new hotel as election metaphor, good and bad appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photos of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton by Getty Images

    Photos of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton by Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — With a dozen days left until Election Day, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are refusing to commit to working with each other after the election, putting in question their abilities to heal the country’s wounds after a volatile presidential race.

    “I just want to make that decision at a later date,” said Trump, when asked whether he would cooperate with a Clinton administration. “Hopefully I won’t have to make that decision.” He spoke in an interview broadcast Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

    Clinton, meanwhile, dodged a question about whether she would meet one-on-one with Trump after the election.

    “I certainly intend to reach out to Republicans and independents, and the elected leadership of the Congress,” Clinton told reporters on her campaign plane Wednesday.

    Traditionally, presidential candidates hold a well-publicized meeting in the weeks after the election. While the moment of bipartisanship is often short-lived, the public appearance sends an important signal to the country that both parties are ready to accept the will of the voters and move forward.

    In 2012, President Barack Obama and defeated Republican nominee Mitt Romney shared an hour-long White House lunch of turkey chili and chicken salad. Four years earlier, Obama and Arizona Sen. John McCain pledged to work together on economic issues and national security after meeting in Chicago.

    Privately, the 2016 candidates may be striking a more conciliatory tone. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the New York Archbishop, has said that in a warm private exchange at an otherwise testy charity dinner last week, Clinton had told Trump that “whatever happens, we need to work together afterward.” Trump, he said, told Clinton “you are one tough and talented woman.”

    In the final weeks of the campaign, both candidates have begun to focus more on their post-election plans. Trump made two appearances at his hotels this week, raising questions about whether he’s trying to shore up his corporate brand, amid signs that his campaign has hurt his family businesses.

    Trump has largely refused to back down from his defiant assault on the election’s integrity, remaining unwilling to say whether he’d accept the results if he loses. “Don’t worry about it,” he told ABC. He will visit Ohio for three campaign rallies on Thursday.

    Clinton, too, has turned some of her focus to what happens after Nov. 8, though her efforts assume she wins. Deep in transition planning, she’s begun retooling her campaign message to emphasize unifying the country after a divisive race.

    A new Associated Press-GfK poll released Wednesday found Clinton on the cusp of a potentially commanding victory, fueled by solid Democratic turnout in early voting, massive operational advantages and increasing enthusiasm among her supporters.

    The survey shows her leading Trump nationally by a staggering 14 percentage points among likely voters, 51-37. That margin is the largest national lead for Clinton among recent surveys. But it’s consistent with trends in the race: Most polls have generally shown her ahead of Trump for the past several weeks.

    Clinton will campaign with Michelle Obama today in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, marking the first joint appearance for the two first ladies on the campaign trail. Obama’s appearances have become a key part of Clinton’s effort to fire up women, particularly black women for whom she’s a model and a source of pride.

    The presidential candidates and dozens of outside groups involved in the race are also due to file their final major fundraising reports before Election Day. These documents will show fundraising and spending between Oct. 1 and Oct. 19_giving a sense of what resources each side had available as the campaign entered its frantic final stretch.

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    First lady Michelle Obama speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Phoenix, Arizona on Oct. 20. Photo by Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters

    First lady Michelle Obama speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Phoenix, Arizona on Oct. 20. Photo by Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — When Hillary Clinton secured her place in the history as the first woman to win a major-party nomination for president, Democratic politicians around Washington marked the historic moment with barrage of statements, formal endorsements and public cheers.

    One political figure, however, was notably silent: Michelle Obama.

    The first lady let her husband speak for her during that moment in June, choosing instead to wait weeks to lend her voice to Clinton’s cause at the Democratic National Convention in what would become one of the most memorable moments in the campaign. It was the sort of careful choice that illustrated the gulf of differences between the current and former first ladies, women who have chartered very different paths through public life and are now locked in marriage of mutual interest.

    When they campaign together for the first time Thursday, the event in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will bring together one of the least traditional first ladies in modern history with one who has fully embraced tradition.

    Clinton dove into policy, undertook a massive project and failed under a harsh spotlight. Mrs. Obama largely steered clear and enjoyed quieter, modest success. Both Ivy League-trained lawyers with their own careers, Clinton bridled under the stereotypes associated with the office, Mrs. Obama declared herself “mom-in-chief” (and let it be known she prefers the Mrs. title before her last name).

    And when her time in the White House was ending, Clinton began plotting her return to Washington. Mrs. Obama hasn’t hid her readiness to leave.

    Asked if Mrs. Obama would ever consider running for president herself, White House officials who rarely speak for the first lady don’t hesitate.

    “No,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said flatly.

    That’s crushing news to the Democrats who have relished Mrs. Obama’s speeches in support of Clinton as high-points of the campaign cycle. Mrs. Obama’s passionate response to Trump’s vulgar comments about women has brought an emotional resonance to Clinton’s bid that the candidate, who rarely gets personal on the stump, doesn’t often deliver.

    “I think Mrs. Obama really wants to make sure her husband’s legacy is maintained and Mrs. Clinton is the way to get there.” — Myra Gutin of Rider University

    Mrs. Obama’s appearances have become a key part of Clinton’s effort to fire up women, particularly black women for whom she’s a model and a source of pride. (Clinton even quotes Mrs. Obama’s DNC speech on the stump: “When they go low, we go high.”) Mrs. Obama, meanwhile, has her own reasons for stumping for Clinton and campaigning against Republican Donald Trump.

    “I think Mrs. Obama really wants to make sure her husband’s legacy is maintained and Mrs. Clinton is the way to get there,” said Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University who has written about first ladies and women in politics.

    The partnership has on one level made for a striking political odd couple.

    As first lady, Mrs. Obama has largely dodged controversial issues. She’s stayed focused on her projects involving healthy eating, exercise, support for military families and education for girls — and not publicly expressed opinions on thornier subjects. She’s mastered the art of advocacy through popular culture, while, in recent years, all-but ignoring the possibility of policymaking through legislation. She’s cultivated a brand built on style, glamour and fashion.

    It’s a tenure that bears little resemblance to her Democratic predecessor in the East Wing. Clinton came in promising, along with her husband, a new kind of partnership in charge at the White House. Hillary Clinton was a veteran of the feminist movement and ready to expand the office of first lady to suit her experience and passion for policy. She had an office in the West Wing, took over the health care overhaul effort and ultimately became a target of investigations and criticism alongside her husband.

    It was a history Mrs. Obama and her aides sought to avoid. Asked to cite role models, Obama has named Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy. The Clintons and Obamas, of course, have a fraught history, one that includes both spouses. While Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton battled in 2008, Michelle Obama raised questions about her husband’s opponent, framing the choice between the two as “about character.”

    Since then the women have publicly buried the hatchet. They’ve appeared at countless events together and heaped praised on each other’s work, although there’s little sign they’ve spent time one-on-one.

    Comparing how first ladies use the office is especially tricky, historians note. Because the office comes with no set of constitutional duties, it is also a reflection of an individual’s style, personality, politics and times.

    The differences between Clinton and Mrs. Obama’s tenures speak in some ways to the differences in their generations — Clinton representing the first wave of baby boomers eager to push boundaries, while Obama benefited from lessons learned, noted Carl Sferrazza Anthony, a historian at the National First Ladies Library.

    “Beneath the surface they both brought a sense of rigor and structure and focus,” he said. “They were very objective oriented.”

    Those objectives were clearly different, he said.

    “I think Michelle Obama may end up being perhaps one of the most influential first ladies when it comes to influence on the America public, whereas Hillary has been one of the most important in terms of achievement in terms of policy.”

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    File photo by Getty Images

    File photo by Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Some patients facing a years-long wait for a kidney transplant are jumping ahead in line thanks to a startling experiment: They’re agreeing to an organ almost sure to infect them with hepatitis C.

    Knowingly transmitting a dangerous virus may sound drastic but two leading transplant centers are betting the strategy will save lives — if new medications that promise to cure hepatitis C allow use of organs that today go to waste.

    Pilot studies are under way at the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University to test transplanting kidneys from deceased donors with hepatitis C into recipients who don’t already have that virus. If the research eventually pans out, hundreds more kidneys — and maybe some hearts and lungs, too — could be transplanted every year.

    “We always dreaded hepatitis C,” said Dr. Peter Reese, a Penn kidney specialist who is helping lead the research. “But now hepatitis C is just a different disease,” enough to consider what he calls the tradeoff of getting a new kidney years faster but one that comes with a hopefully treatable infection.

    It’s a tradeoff prompted by the nation’s organ shortage. More than 99,000 people are on the national kidney waiting list but only about 17,000 people a year get a transplant and 4 percent a year die waiting, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

    “If we had enough organs, we wouldn’t do this,” said Dr. Niraj Desai, who is leading the Hopkins study. But, “most patients are pretty open to the idea once they hear what the alternatives are.”

    Doctors had told Irma Hendricks, 66, to expect at least a five-year wait for a kidney transplant. Dialysis three times a week was keeping the East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, woman alive but left her with no energy for even routine activities. “I call it the zombie syndrome,” she said.

    So she jumped at the chance to enroll in Penn’s study, even though doctors made clear they hoped for but couldn’t guarantee a hepatitis cure.

    “We always dreaded hepatitis C. But now hepatitis C is just a different disease.” — Dr. Peter Reese

    “My son said, ‘Mom, this is a no-brainer. Just do it,'” Hendricks said, She swallowed an anti-hepatitis pill daily for three months, in addition to the usual post-transplant medications. Testing showed the drugs rapidly cleared hepatitis C out of her bloodstream. And with her new kidney functioning well, she now has enough energy to play with her toddler grandson.

    “This is giving people in my situation new hope,” Hendricks said.

    Kidney transplant specialists are closely watching the research.

    “It makes sense to me,” said Dr. Matthew Cooper, a transplant surgeon at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, who is not involved in the research. He cautioned that the studies should use only kidneys that are young and otherwise high-quality, and that patients must understand the risks.

    “They need to know you place their safety as the highest priority,” Cooper said. “But at the same time, recognize that we have these obstacles. We don’t want people to die on dialysis and there are not enough organs available for everybody.”

    Hepatitis C is a simmering infection that, if untreated, over two to three decades can quietly destroy someone’s liver. At least 2.7 million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis C. Until a few years ago, it was treatable only by medications with grueling side effects and poor cure rates. Now, breakthrough drugs promise to cure 95 percent of hepatitis C cases with fewer side effects — for people who can afford them. Treatment costs tens of thousands of dollars.

    Normally, hepatitis C-infected organs are transplanted only into patients who already have hepatitis C themselves, so as not to further spread the virus.

    Giving hepatitis C-positive organs to hepatitis C-negative recipients is allowed if the patient agrees, but it’s rare, said Dr. David Klassen, UNOS’ chief medical officer. UNOS statistics show a few dozen such transplants, mostly kidneys, last year, presumably when doctors feared their patients wouldn’t survive the wait for a healthier organ.

    More often, hospitals discard hepatitis C-infected organs. Reese and fellow Penn transplant surgeon Dr. David Goldberg found only 37 percent of hepatitis C-positive kidney donations between 2005 and 2014 were transplanted. The discards could have helped more than 4,000 patients during that time period, they reported in the New England Journal of Medicine last year.

    And the opioid epidemic is prompting a jump in donations from people who died of drug overdoses — typically young organs that, absent an infection risk, would be sought after.

    The small Penn and Hopkins trials are a first step; much larger studies are needed to prove if more routine use of these organs in immune-suppressed transplant recipients really works.

    Cost also is a question. Merck & Co. is helping to fund the pilot trials, donating its medication Zepatier, which costs $54,000 for a round of treatment. That’s still cheaper than a lifetime of a dialysis, which costs about $75,000 a year, UNOS’ Klassen noted.

    While the studies began with kidneys because of their demand, “I don’t think there’s any reason, if it proves safe and effective in kidneys, that we wouldn’t want to try it in other organs,” noted Penn’s Goldberg.

    Even if the hepatitis C-infected organs prove useful, the nation still is “desperate for more donors,” cautioned Hopkins’ Desai. “It’s a practical solution to help some of the people. It won’t solve the problem.”

    ___

    Associated Press Writer Michael Rubinkam contributed to this report.

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    Fried crickets may provide twice as much iron as sirloin steak based on new research from University College London. Photo by catherinelprod/via Adobe.

    Fried crickets may provide twice as much iron as sirloin steak based on new research from King’s College London. Photo by catherinelprod/via Adobe.

    Cricket taco, anyone? Maybe a buffalo worm buffet? Gross, you say. Well, you may want to reconsider if you’re one of the 10 million Americans living with iron deficiency.

    Certain types of edible insects can provide more iron than a slab of sirloin steak, based on new research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. This result may seem unsurprising, given edible insects are widely celebrated on food blogs. But this study is actually the first to calculate the mineral nutrition available through edible bugs. Such research may serve as a benchmark for moving the cuisine from hipster fringes into mass production.

    Of the 496 million non-pregnant women, 32 million pregnant women and 273 million children who develop anemia each year globally, half can blame their condition on iron deficiency.

    The idea for the study came from last year’s U.N. Convention for the Paris Climate Agreement, said Yemisi Latunde-Dada, a diabetes and nutrition scientist at King’s College London who led the study.

    One of the delegates “advocated for the human consumption of insects for protein as an alternative to animals,” she said. That’s because livestock contributes about 15 percent of human-made greenhouse gas emissions per year, mainly through cattle production. At the same time, 70 percent of agricultural land is devoted to livestock, but many low-income regions lack access to the final product: meat.

    This paradox creates a scenario where humans produce a foodstuff incapable of meeting nutritional needs in many places. The stats are staggering. Of the 496 million non-pregnant women, 32 million pregnant women and 273 million children who develop anemia each year globally, half can blame their condition on iron deficiency. Most of these cases occur in low-income portions of south Asia and Africa, but even the U.S. witnesses 230,000 hospitalizations annually due to anemia.

    “We have already reached ‘peak meat,’ Daniella Martin, author of Edible: An Adventure Into The World Of Eating Insects And The Last Great Hope To Save The Planet, told NewsHour via email. “As our population grows, so does the prospect of food scarcity. Edible insects present an alternative to our traditional meat sources, many of which require vast inputs of resources to raise.”

    Fake tummies

    Grasshopper fried in dish on wood background. Photo by kwanchaichaiudom/via Adobe

    Grasshopper fried in dish on wood background. Photo by kwanchaichaiudom/via Adobe

    The thought is edible insects might require fewer resources than livestock. Meal worms, for instance, create a carbon footprint that is six to 13 times smaller than beef. Yet open questions remain around the nutritional value of edible bugs. Insects carry the same, if not more, protein relative to meat. That case is pretty much closed. But mineral content is a trickier test.

    Nutrient minerals like iron and calcium don’t exist as pure elements in food, but rather they’re baked into a variety of chemical states or compounds. But only some of these compounds are easily absorbed by the digestive system and harnessed by our cells, a property known as bioavailability. For instance, heme — the pigment in the muscles of red meat — can contribute significantly more iron to a human diet than plant sources of the mineral.

    “Hence, iron deficiency is relatively more frequent and pronounced worldwide in populations relying predominantly on plants for their nutrition,” Latunde-Dada said.

    But most of this budding — or should I say “bugging” — food industry is unregulated.

    Latunde-Dada and her colleagues used to two tactics to gauge the bioavailability of minerals in edible insects, namely grasshoppers, crickets, mealworms and buffalo worms.

    The first experiment measured solubility — or how readily minerals from food dissolve in water. Across the board, insects beat sirloin beef, and crickets contained twice as much available iron as red meat.

    “They showed these forms of iron were soluble, which means they should be absorbable in the intestine,” said Darna Dufour, a biological anthropologist at University of Colorado Boulder who wasn’t involved in the study. Grasshoppers, crickets and mealworms also topped beef when it came to soluble calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese and zinc.

    The study’s second method created an “artificial stomach” that replicated the conditions of a gut in a test tube. It came complete with intestinal cells and harsh acids. The cells absorb nutrients as their digested, which offers an indication of mineral uptake in living tissue. Here, buffalo worms led the way over sirloin beef, while mealworms and grasshoppers had comparable levels with red meat.

    The wild west of bug eating

    Mealworms aren't only a good source of iron and other minerals, based on new research, biological anthropologist Darna Dufour said these worms and other larvae can serve as source of fat for malnourished communities. Photo by Phodo Design/via Adobe

    Mealworms aren’t only a good source of iron and other minerals, based on new research, biological anthropologist Darna Dufour said these worms and other larvae can serve as source of fat for malnourished communities. Photo by Phodo Design/via Adobe

    Together, the results show commonly consumed insects could be better sources of bioavailable minerals, especially iron, than sirloin. But both Latunde-Dada and Dufour said the finding would require further study with human volunteers.

    Such validation may soon become important as the entomophagist — bug-eater — movement grows in popularity. Latunde-Dada enjoys roasted locusts on a regular basis, while Dufour is partial to tasty leafcutter ants. Martin rather partake in the larvae of wax moths, because they taste like pine and mushrooms. Today, there are companies that sell bug-filled energy bars, insect-based flour and even cricket pasta. Martin said millions have invested in these products.

    “In 2008, when I started my blog, the concept was still considered totally out there. There were a half dozen people across the U.S. who were actively involved in trying to promote the idea,” Martin said. “Now, less than 10 years later, there are literally hundreds of startups around the world focusing on entomophagy.”

    Bugs-as-food still reside in a Food and Drug Administration loophole.

    But most of this budding — or should I say “bugging” — food industry is unregulated. For instance, it’s unclear what percentage of the population might be allergic to edible insects or if they can transfer toxins from the environment into people.

    “Bugs-as-food still reside in a Food and Drug Administration loophole. No one ever thought they would be intentionally added, so they didn’t plan for it,” Martin said. “The current guidelines essentially say,‘There can’t be too many bugs in your commercial food product,’ but nothing about if bugs ARE the food product.”

    With regards to toxins, most commercial products should be fine, Martin said, because the insects are not foraged from the wild, but rather farmed in controlled environment. The FDA also requires other best practices for food production, such as proper labeling and keeping products contaminant-free.

    Writer Kyle Ligman summed up these regulatory dilemmas in succinct fashion for Newsweek last year:

    Because the Western world has been slow to take to insects, we don’t yet have a full understanding of the allergies and toxins that could be associated with them, nor do we have research on the proper safety practices we would need for a viable edible-insect industry. As a result, U.S. regulatory agencies haven’t taken a strong stance on the safety of bugs, and that, in turn, has stifled industry growth, according to the U.N.

    In other words, when it comes to edible bugs, there’s still a lot to chew on.

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    File photo by Imgorthand via Getty Images

    File photo by Imgorthand via Getty Images

    Gender gaps in math achievement and teacher expectations that boys are stronger at math than girls start to form by kindergarten, according to a study released Thursday by the American Educational Research Association.

    The study also found that teachers consistently underrated girls’ math skills, even when boys and girls behaved and performed in similar ways academically.

    While the gender gap starts early among high-achieving math students, it spreads quickly to all students throughout elementary school. And both high- and low-achieving schools are impacted, according to the report.

    “If schools are addressing biases, it’s not happening effectively,” said Joseph Cimpian, lead author of the study and associate professor of economics and education policy at New York University’s Steinhardt School.

    The study looked at two cohorts made up of several thousand students from across the country starting in 1998-1999 and 2010-2011. The cohorts were based on the federal government’s Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which tested students’ math skills and separately asked teachers how proficient they thought the students were in 10 specific areas.

    “It’s alarming that 12 years later with a younger generation of teachers and with all of the focus on getting girls into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) … that you would have seen some changes,” but so far there haven’t been changes in the way that the gender gap develops or changes in the way teachers are underrating girls, Cimpian said.

    Recent evidence stating that the gender gap had closed on state exams was not reflected in the AERA study. The tests carried out by the federal government in the two kindergarten cohorts may detect gaps where state tests do not. In addition, the amount of practice teachers and students put into state tests and the rarity of higher-level thinking questions offer reasons that more work still needs to be done, according to the AERA report.

    “There still exists a notion that math and science are not really ‘girl’ subjects,” said math tutor Dina Weinberg of Bronx, N.Y., a former elementary school teacher and mother of two daughters.

    Based on societal expectations, elementary school girls tend to follow behavioral rules of school more closely, which can affect the dynamics in the classroom, Weinberg said.

    “It can happen that the teacher, rather unconsciously, calls on the boys more frequently to solve problems or demonstrate problems on the board,” Weinberg said.

    Making parents and educators aware of their unconscious biases and behaviors is an important first step of lessening the gender gap in math, said Reshma Saujani, CEO of Girls Who Code.

    “I think teachers often have the best intentions — they’ve picked a career that’s all about helping our young people — but we’re all influenced by a culture that says that subjects like math and computing are for boys,” she said. “It’s everywhere we look — from Silicon Valley on HBO to a T-shirt at a popular teen girl retailer that says ‘Allergic to Algebra.’

    “Our culture is telling all of us — teachers included — that math and computing is not for girls, so it’s no wonder it’s showing up in our classrooms,” Saujani said.

    On average, there’s no gender gap in math when students first enter kindergarten with one exception, affecting the highest achievers in math. Students from higher socio-economic backgrounds enter kindergarten with a gender gap in math, according to the report.

    The exact reason for this isn’t known, Cimpian said, but it points to other research connecting higher socio-economic families with “gendering” activities at a young age — organized sports and dance lessons for boys and girls, respectively. Gendering in the top percent might spill over and exacerbate how the gender gap in math develops, he said.

    Intervention programs could positively affect teachers’ perceptions that girls aren’t as strong as boys in math. Given the large amount of time that teachers spend with students, it’s a really important group in which to intervene, Cimpian said.

    Girls Who Code provides training for teachers so that they can anticipate and address the specific barriers that girls face in computing classrooms, such as stereotype training and spotlighting women in tech to make sure students see a representative sample of role models.

    “We also need to address culture head on and change the perception of what a mathematician or a programmer looks like and does,” Saujani said, pointing as an example to a series of videos that Girls Who Code released last spring about the stereotypes that keep women out of tech.

    “This problem sounds daunting, but I believe it’s absolutely solvable. In the last 30 years, we’ve seen the gender gap close in career fields like law and medicine,” Saujani said, adding that, “I think we can see the same thing happen in computing and related fields, we just have to be willing to act and to prioritize our girls.”

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    File photo by Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor

    File photo by Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor

    GARBERVILLE, Calif. — Laura Costa’s son and husband moved quickly with the pruning shears to harvest the family’s fall marijuana crop, racing along with several workers to cut the plants and drop them in plastic bins ahead of an impending storm.

    The rain could invite “bud rot,” Costa said, “a big no-no.”

    The farm, hidden along a winding mountain road in a remote redwood forest, is just one of many illegal “grows” that make up Northern California’s famous Emerald Triangle, a rural region that developed over decades into a marijuana-producing mecca at the intersection of Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties.

    California voters will decide Nov. 8 whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use — an issue that has sown deep division here among longtime growers. The Costa family and many other pot farmers have yearned for the legitimacy and respectability that growers of legal crops enjoy.

    But they also fear Proposition 64 will bring big changes, including costly regulations and taxes, lower prices and the risk that corporate interests could put smaller operations out of business.

    “It will end traditional marijuana farming like this,” said Costa, 56, sitting in the middle of one of four 40-plant gardens, puffing on a glass pipe. “It will end our way of life.”

    That way of life is visible throughout the region. Four-wheel-drive vehicles often disappear down dirt roads to drop off workers and supplies. Indoor grows abound in business-park warehouses in Eureka, the region’s largest city with a population of about 28,000, and in the garages of private homes in nearby affluent neighborhoods.

    Marijuana is smoked as casually — and frequently — as cigarettes in many homes, and “strains” of weed are discussed and debated like wine or craft beer.

    “You’re going to see cannabis grow at levels people can’t even fathom. It’s going to bring all that business back to California.” — Tim Blake, grower

    Young people from around the world flock here for work, many arriving without job offers. They hang out in Arcata’s town square or along the main drag of Garberville, sitting on their camping gear, smoking weed and hoping a farmer picks them up for a job.

    “We heard it was fun,” said Rachel Perez, 22, who traveled from Spain with three companions seeking work as trimmers. They remained optimistic despite going without offers for two days.

    Police complain that the seasonal nature of the farming means that many job-seekers go without work, exacerbating homelessness. They also worry about the risk of people driving under the influence of marijuana.

    Law enforcement officials are urging voters to reject the measure, but it is leading in polls. Supporters have raised $23 million, compared with $1.6 million by opponents.

    Northern California’s marijuana industry has its roots in the mid-1980s, when the region became a quasi-military zone after President Ronald Reagan declared the war on drugs in 1982.

    The next year, the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting — or CAMP — launched to wipe out illegal cannabis production in Northern California, where growers flocked because of its remoteness and temperate climate. The task force was composed of federal, state and local law enforcement officials, who erected roadblocks and often conducted door-to-door searches.

    U2 spy planes and satellite images were used to locate illegal farms. Black helicopters dropped camouflaged drug agents armed with automatic rifles into the fields to chop down the crop.

    The region soon surpassed Thailand as the United States’ top marijuana supplier, but the CAMP operation drove the industry deeper underground. Skittish farmers formed tightly knit circles that relied on trusted distributors to get their crop to dealers and, ultimately, consumers.

    “We trusted one another and relied on handshakes,” says Swami Chaitanya, 73, a longtime grower in remote Mendocino County, about an hour south of Costa’s farm. “Yes, rip-offs occurred. But it was dealt with internally.”

    Earlier this month, Chaitanya crumbled some of his renowned “Swami’s Select” bud into a joint as big as a man’s pinkie finger, lit it and took a deep drag before passing it to his wife, Nikki Lastreto, 61.

    “It’s called a grower’s joint,” Lastreto says of the mammoth joint before taking her own drag inside their sprawling home on Turtle Creek Ranch. The ranch is situated in a peaceful meadow of Hindu statutes and marijuana plants 5 miles down a tooth-rattling dirt road.

    Chaitanya and his wife support Proposition 64. He says the 62-page ballot measure “is not perfect” but can be amended, and he rejects arguments that California should wait for a more grower-friendly law.

    “If we wait, we will fall behind,” Chaitanya said.

    The Connecticut native and Wesleyan University graduate began growing marijuana shortly after arriving in San Francisco in 1969, during the so-called summer of love. He recalled growing a dozen plants hidden in the gardened terraces of San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill. He bought his Mendocino property 13 years ago.

    In marijuana circles, he is a celebrity not only for the quality of his organically grown pot, but for his long beard, flowing white robes and passionate advocacy for the industry.

    He, too, expects that large farms will proliferate if the measure passes. But he sees traditional growers surviving and thriving alongside the big farms, which he predicts will produce mediocre marijuana to satisfy a non-discriminating mass market. Chaitanya and other traditional growers who support Proposition 64 believe discriminating consumers will pay a premium for Northern California marijuana.

    About 10 miles down the road, grower Tim Blake says the measure is the next big step for an industry emerging from the shadows. When California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, he said, it ushered in a less-restrictive era in which businesses could start to operate in the open and even attract investors.

    The provision also would wipe clean many criminal convictions and stop the prosecution of other marijuana-related crimes.

    “It’s time to end criminalization,” Blake said. “There is a lot of fear among farmers, small farmers in general,” about losing their livelihood and “the way things have been. But they’ve already lost that aspect.”

    If the proposition fails, Blake argues, California would be in danger of losing its position as the nation’s top-producing marijuana region. Four other states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational pot, and four more states have questions on the November ballot.

    “We can’t afford to fall further behind,” he said, giving a tour of his farm.

    Farmers are so divided that the California Growers Association, which represents 450 farmers and 350 supporting businesses, voted to remain neutral.

    “Nobody, not even the supporters, think this is a home run,” association president Hezekiah Allen said. “A lot of people think California can do better.”

    Allen helped craft the measure and said the association is responsible for the prohibition against marijuana farms larger than an acre during the first five years of legalization. He said “that should be enough time” for small farmers to come out of the shadows, get licensed and get on making a living legally.

    There is no evidence that Wall Street corporations are eyeing California if Proposition 64 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2018. U.S. tobacco companies say they have no plans to jump into the marijuana game.

    Nonetheless, Costa and others say it’s only a matter of time before other brands move in, upending a tight-knit community accustomed to doing business on its own terms.

    For the first time, Christine Miller has retained a lawyer and an accountant to help wade through the potential regulatory issues and taxes that might affect her 250-plant farm in Benbow.

    Miller, 39, has covered her plants and can wait a few more weeks to harvest because the wet weather isn’t a concern. When it’s time, her workers will cut bud-bearing branches from plants that can reach as high as 16 feet. Most are 6 to 8 feet.

    The branches are then hung in a dark shed or barn for about a week until the buds dry. That’s when trimmers are called in to separate the valuable buds from the rest of the plant and make them ready for market.

    A conservative, back-of-the-envelope estimate is that each marijuana plant yields a pound of bud. But skilled farmers can usually coax three times that and sometimes more. One pound of Northern California marijuana fetches anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 wholesale. Many farmers use a middleman to transport and distribute the drug to retailers, whether licensed medical dispensaries or corner dealers.

    The drug often changes hands several times, getting marked up repeatedly, before it’s consumed. What’s more, alternative ways of getting high are becoming increasingly popular. Users are buying more marijuana-laced baked goods and candy and highly concentrated forms of cannabis called “dab.”

    Proposition 64 aims to regulate — and tax — that entire supply chain. Legalizing recreational use will legitimize the drug, leading to even more consumption, proponents argue.

    “You’re going to see cannabis grow at levels people can’t even fathom,” Blake said. “It’s going to bring all that business back to California.”

    The post Weed as way of life: California farmers divided on legal bud appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo of Sharbat Gula poster by Emanuele via Wikimedia Commons

    Photo of Sharbat Gula poster by Emanuele via Wikimedia Commons

    The Afghan girl with strikingly green eyes featured on the cover of National Geographic in 1985 was arrested Wednesday in Pakistan for illegally obtaining national identity cards.

    The iconic photo made Sharbat Gula a symbol of the conflict in Afghanistan. Now, she faces up to 14 years in prison and a fine of $3,000 to $5,000.

    Gula was arrested and her house raided after a year-long investigation.

    Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported that two men claiming to be Gula’s sons also had IDs issued to them.

    The BBC reported the three staff members who issued Gula’s IDs have been missing since the report of alleged fraud was filed.

    Gula fraudulently obtained a Pakistani ID in 1988 and a computerized card in 2014 while keeping her Afghan passport, which she continued to use, according to the Times.

    Pakistan has intensified its search for Afghans with illegal IDs, particularly after May when a former Taliban leader, who had traveled with forged documents, was killed in a drone strike, the Guardian reported.

    Earlier this year, Pakistan extended a deadline for refugees to register with the government. The country is home to about 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees.

    Photographer Steve McCurry searched for Gula, or “the Afghan girl” as she came to be known, in 2002. His 1985 photo was taken at a Pakistani refugee camp and neither Gula’s name or age were known because there were no records. McCurry photographed her again in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan.

    In an email to the New York Times, McCurry said he was committed to doing anything he could to provide Gula legal and financial support.

    “We object to this action by the authorities in the strongest possible terms,” he wrote. “She has suffered throughout her entire life, and we believe that her arrest is an egregious violation of her human rights.”

    The post National Geographic’s green-eyed Afghan girl arrested appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Supporters listen an speech by U.S. first lady Michelle Obama  during a campaign rally in support of U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S., October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTX2QRN0

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now we turn to the allegations that Donald Trump, and some of his surrogates, have not only alienated, but declared war on women this election cycle, this on a day when another woman has come forward to accuse Trump of groping her, bringing the total number of accusers now to at least 12.

    The former Miss Finland in the 2006 Miss Universe Pageant charges that he grabbed her from behind as they were being photographed together.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee: What we want to do is to replenish the Social Security Trust Fund…

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: Such a nasty woman.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The “nasty woman” interjection at the last debate, Donald Trump standing right behind Hillary Clinton during the second debate, the “Access Hollywood” audiotape from 2005 in which he boasted of groping women.

    DONALD TRUMP: And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.

    BILLY BUSH: Whatever you want.

    DONALD TRUMP: Grab them by the (WORD DELETED).

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And subsequent allegations by women who say Trump grabbed or inappropriately kissed them in the past.

    It’s all taking a toll. A poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found evangelical Christian women, in particular, are breaking away; 58 percent support Trump, compared to 77 percent who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. Plus, a third of Republican women in Congress have defected from Trump.

    But the nominee’s male surrogates are on the offensive. This week, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich scolded FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly.

    FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, Former Speaker of the House: You are fascinated with sex, and you don’t care about public policy.

    MEGYN KELLY, FOX News: Me, really?

    NEWT GINGRICH: That’s what I get out of watching you tonight.

    MEGYN KELLY: You know what, Mr. Speaker, I am not fascinated by sex, but I am fascinated by the protection of women and understanding what we’re getting in the Oval Office.

    NEWT GINGRICH: OK.

    MEGYN KELLY: And I think the American voters would like to know…

    NEWT GINGRICH: And, therefore, we are going to send Bill Clinton back to the East Wing, because, after all, you are worried about sexual predators.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The exchange elicited praise from Trump yesterday.

    DONALD TRUMP: We don’t play games, Newt, right? We don’t play games.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But the Clinton campaign is hoping to capitalize.

    DONALD TRUMP: I would look her right in that fat ugly face of hers.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Using Trump’s own language about women in ads that show young girls looking in the mirror.

    And, today, in North Carolina, the candidate had this to say:

    HILLARY CLINTON: I wish I didn’t have to say this, but, indeed, dignity and respect for women and girls is also on the ballot in this election.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, less than two weeks from Election Day, several polls show Clinton leading among women by even more than President Obama’s 11-point margin four years ago.

    To explore what’s behind some of those numbers and the fears from some Republicans that their party may be alienating female voters for years to come, we are joined by Missy Shorey, executive director of Maggie’s List. It’s a political action group that works to elect conservative women to Congress. And Christine Matthews, she is a Republican pollster and president of Bellwether Research.

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

    Let me start with you, Christine Matthews.

    Someone you know, I’m sure, Nicolle Wallace, tweeted this week — and I’m quoting — she said: “Republicans are engaged in a hot war,” her words, “against women that will end badly for the party.”

    How do you see what’s going on right now?

    CHRISTINE MATTHEWS, Bellwether Research: I agree.

    The whole tenor and tone of this campaign has been one in which women voters have been casualties. I think, you know, we have really turned off women. I think the gains that we made as a party in 2014 sort of on the heels of recovering from 2012, where two Senate candidates unfortunately used rape analogies in very unfortunate ways, we have made progress.

    I think this election cycle, we have completely regressed, and we’re going to — I think we’re going to see a historic gender gap in the lines of 20-plus points.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: When you say “we have regressed,” what are you referring to?

    CHRISTINE MATTHEWS: What I mean, is, you know, the — basically, the Democrats have always said, you know, Republicans are waging a war on women.

    And I think that we started in 2014 to have conversations that moved us past that. Again, we had the unfortunate comments in 2012 about rape.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    CHRISTINE MATTHEWS: And, in 2014, I think we had some constructive conversations. We won Senate races in most of our battleground state. And we had sort of moved beyond that.

    And now not only are we seen as not sort of modern or with the era. We’re seen as completely regressive cavemen, actually.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean because of comments by Donald Trump, by other Republican men supporting him?

    CHRISTINE MATTHEWS: I think because of Donald Trump primarily. He set the tone for this. He set it in the primary when he attacked Carly Fiorina’s face and said, you know, “Look at that face. Is that presidential?”

    And it went downhill from there. And I don’t think that we have seen a lot of Republican men stepping up and saying this is — they have said it’s unacceptable. But the problem is, and the rub, is, in many cases, they’re still supporting Donald Trump. And I think the women in the party feel very, I have to say betrayed, yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Missy Shorey, as a woman in the Republican Party, how do you see all this?

    MISSY SHOREY, Maggie’s List: Well, thank you, Judy. This is a very important conversation.

    And the way that we really need to look at it is, this is a raw moment in politics. We don’t have a perfect candidate. But at the end of the day, this election is really going to come down to our future. It is a pocketbook issue. It is an issue where families and women and children deserve to have more opportunity and, quite frankly, much more responsible government.

    And, in many ways, the conversation, the dialogue we’re having today is so distracting, because the real issues at hand are being utterly ignored.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you’re saying that you don’t take seriously the concerns about what Donald Trump said in that audiotape, the “Access Hollywood” tape, and the accusations by the women who have come forward?

    MISSY SHOREY: Absolutely, Judy, everyone takes it seriously. Everyone is concerned, and everyone knows that that behavior is not acceptable.

    Mr. Trump has apologized, and I have accepted his apology. And, as a result, many people do. But this is a tough year. And people are going to have to look and say, where do they want the future of the party to be? Do they want our values of less government and opportunity to go away? Do we want issues of security to be taken off the table?

    And, instead, essentially, we’re doing — we’re looking at a terrible personal behavior, as opposed to really looking at the policies taking us forward. And that’s what’s going to keep the party going.

    And Christine is absolutely right. This is a very tough time for us, but it’s very important we stand up for our own values.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Christine Matthews, what she’s saying is, the pocketbook economic issues are more important than any of this.

    CHRISTINE MATTHEWS: I don’t think — well, I would respectfully disagree.

    I think that what Donald Trump has done, the tone that he has set for this campaign has been so damaging, that it’s very difficult to have a conversation about pocketbook issues. It’s so over the top, it’s so distracting, it’s so disrespectful.

    I, for one, am not beyond that. For me — and I think every woman has to struggle with this. Every Republican consultant that I know, every woman, this is all we talk about, how difficult this is, how stressful this is, how, you know — with two other women consultants, I started a firm that was supposed to help us talk to Republican women, or all women, really.

    And we feel like we have been almost slapped in the face by this kind of conversation that we’re having. And, for me, I’m not going to be supporting Donald Trump. I never was and I never will.

    The question for myself and other Republican consultants, other women voters is, then what? What do you do? It’s not like there’s a full embrace of Hillary Clinton on the Republican side. You know, Republican women don’t like her either. So then the question is, what do you do?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me come back to Missy Shorey.

    You hear what she is — you hear what Christine is saying, that when Republican women get together, they can’t get past what has happened in this campaign.

    MISSY SHOREY: Well, maybe some people, that’s their case, and maybe that’s kind of a mind-set of a consultant.

    But for those of us who are grassroots activists, we have to respect democracy. Millions of people came out and voted in the primaries on a level they never have before. And, as a result, there is something there. There’s a chord that Donald Trump has touched on.

    Now, do I share her concerns on many levels? Yes, I do, and I think every woman does. But this is not going to be the only issue that’s here. We really need to look at the bigger picture. We need to look at — and I also say, let’s elect more women to office, so we have more options going forward.

    Let’s look at the future of what’s there. And I will tell you that when I speak with my other Republican women, yes, this comes up, but it’s not the only thing we’re talking about. We’re talking about many things, in terms of, do we want a culture of corruption going forward that we have seen with the Clinton White House and we will see in the next one? Or do we want a situation where we can have opportunity, we can have economic prosperity and we can have security?

    Those are things that are important, and that we can get the kind of Supreme Court that we need for this country to protect our constitutional rights that just have not been brought there. These are things that people are having a hard time getting into and past because of the issues at hand. They are serious, but they’re not the only issues.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Christine Matthews, what about her comment that, well, consultants may feel this way, but we’re out here in the trenches?

    CHRISTINE MATTHEWS: Well, OK, so, I am a consultant, but I also do research among women voters.

    And I have to say that women voters are expressing despair. Republican women voters, independent women voters, I’m seeing words used like despair, agony. They are very unhappy with what they have seen in terms of how Donald Trump has talked about women.

    So, it’s not just like the professional class in D.C. that is concerned about this. I am. My friends here are, but so are the voters. So are women that I talk to as part of my research every day.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see this getting resolved? I want to ask both of you this question.

    CHRISTINE MATTHEWS: Yes.

    You know, I am concerned, actually. I think the Republican roster is going to shrink. I think a number of women who worked in this field, who have worked in this field for decades are going to declare themselves free agents. And they’re going to say, a party that basically rejected other qualified candidates and is supporting Donald Trump, a party who, you know, we’re seeing, because of Donald Trump, you know, Vladimir Putin’s favorability is rising, Paul Ryan’s shrinking. Where is my role in this?

    And so I think you are going to see a number of women say, my time and talent are worth something, and I’m not sure this is something I’m going to continue to do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Missy Shorey, how do you see this getting resolved?

    MISSY SHOREY: I think the ultimate resolution is for us to really look and say, what do we stand for as individuals, as Americans, and where do we see the future of this country, and really standing up for policies and programs, for example, the better way that Paul Ryan has put forward, and the first 100 days of what Donald Trump has said.

    Is he a perfect candidate? No. But the reality is, we have to weigh the future of our country with this. I do think we have a lot of soul-searching to do as a party. Christine is absolutely right. But the issue is, do we let other people define who we are as a party, or do we embrace our principles, move forward and relentlessly advocate for them?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we — I know that both of you are going to be continuing to think about this hard until Election Day and beyond.

    Missy Shorey, we thank you. Christine Matthews, thank you for joining us.

    CHRISTINE MATTHEWS: Thank you.

    The post Is Trump driving female voters to turn away from the GOP? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A resident retrieves his wildfire burned American flag with the ashes of his house behind him at 13807 Kuehster Road near Conifer, Colorado March 28, 2012. Ten residents whose homes were destroyed in the fire were briefly allowed back to inspect the damage. The fire burning in the foothills and canyons near Denver has killed an elderly couple and destroyed 22 homes. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR300VP

    In his new book, “The Price of Prosperity,” Economist Buchholz argues that as nations become more wealthy and more prosperous, they begin to unravel. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    Editor’s Note: Economist Todd Buchholz is out with a new book, with a counterintuitive thesis. In “Price of Prosperity: Why Rich Nations Fail and How to Renew Them,” Buchholz argues that as nations become more wealthy and more prosperous, they begin to unravel. He points to factor such as eroding nationalism and work ethic, a loss of community, a fear of immigration and declining birthrates to explain why.

    As Buchholz told Making Sen$e’s Paul Solman, “Our society is based on [Greek and Roman] empires, but they’re gone. So why do we think our country is going to defy all of human history?”

    The following is an excerpt from the introduction of Buchholz’s new book. For more on the topic, tune in to tonight’s Making Sen$e report with Paul Solman, which airs every Thursday on the PBS NewsHour.

    — Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor


    In Casablanca, Major Heinrich Strasser invites Rick to sit down and join him for a drink at the Café Americain.

    “What is your nationality?” the Nazi commander asks.

    “I’m a drunkard.”

    “That makes Rick a citizen of the world,” the French captain Renault jokes.

    But what about us today, who live in relative peacetime and prosperity? Do we feel a great emotional tug for our country?

    The witty, sardonic lines fit the scene: a war-riven city in 1941 and a mass of desperate refugees figuring out how to fake their way to freedom. Rick was, of course, an American, but he was either too tipsy or too shrewd to cough up an honest answer to the Nazi. Who could blame him? But what about us today, who live in relative peacetime and prosperity? Do we feel a great emotional tug for our country? Many Americans seem to feel a greater emotional attachment to other things. If asked, “What are you?” their hearts might answer, “I’m an iPhone guy.” Or “I’m a fantasy football fanatic.” Or “I’m gluten free. And proud.” If an airplane skidded on the runway and passengers had to evacuate quickly, how many would first save their iPhone, their football picks, or their tasty gluten-free muffin instead of an American flag? After a burst of flag-waving following 9/11, polls show that patriotism has drifted steadily lower, especially among young people. While 64 percent of senior citizens say they are extremely proud to be an American, only 43 percent of young adults agree, and nearly half of Millennials say the “American dream” is dead. Other wealthy countries face the same trends.

    Rick Blaine was a “citizen of the world,” because he was a drunkard. But in a globalized economy, even sober types are citizens of the world. Bono of U2, who claims great pride in his Irish heritage and still speaks with a brogue, skipped out of Dublin so that his band could reincorporate in the Netherlands and pay lower taxes on their music royalties. Roger Moore — 007 himself — has mostly lived in a Swiss chalet or in tony Monaco. And the guy who funded Facebook, Eduardo Saverin, hopscotched from Brazil to Harvard to Silicon Valley to Singapore after renouncing his U.S. citizenship in 2012. Not only drunkards and superstar musicians and actors, but just about anyone who works in international sales or computer software development might naturally feel more anchored to ephemeral cyberspace than to some cobblestoned Main Street with flags flying from the lamp poles and local merchants scrambling to compete against Amazon.com.

    While 64 percent of senior citizens say they are extremely proud to be an American, only 43 percent of young adults agree, and nearly half of Millennials say the “American dream” is dead.

    This book is not a long lament about patriotism and its enemies. Nor is it an attack on the modern economy. In fact, it turns on their head many traditional notions about patriotism and the stability of countries. It is a diagnosis, a history and a manifesto aimed at prosperous countries. Do not despair, for I will end on a note of optimism, with a road map that could help us avoid the shattering of nations. Theodore Roosevelt said, “We want to make our children feel . . . that the mere fact of being American citizens makes them better off. . . . This is not to blind us to our shortcomings; we ought steadily to try to correct them.” How many people agree only with Roosevelt’s statement about shortcomings? Contrast Roosevelt’s view with the University of North Carolina professor who teaches a course on “The Literature of 9/11” and calls the United States not just a superpower but a “necropower,” adding the Greek prefix that means “death or corpse.” The professor does not mean that the United States is dying; he means that it delivers death to others through torture and other military means.

    Virtually every advanced country from Japan to Italy faces similar economic and cultural land mines. This book is not solely aimed at Americans. As I write this, millions of refugees from Iraq and Syria stream across European borders, sneaking onto and even on top of trains and buses. Will they become Germans? Or Brits? Or Frenchmen? Or eternal refugees, the shrouded “Invisible Men” of the 21st century? Or worse? In 2014, the British Ministry of Defence reported that twice as many British Muslims traveled to Syria and Iraq to wage jihad than had joined the British military over the past three years. Among British Muslim students, 40 percent support introducing sharia law. We might think of France as a fairly unified state, but early in its history, France struggled to stop Normans, Bretons, Alsatians, Gascons, Savoyards, etc. from setting up their own countries. More recently, Charles de Gaulle wondered, “How can anyone govern a nation with 246 different kinds of cheese?” Like the France that de Gaulle bellyached about, the United States no longer coheres. We have a thousand television channels, 1 billion websites and 330 million citizens with no reason to listen to each other. Talking heads on MSNBC and Fox News shout as if they are attending UFC wrestling matches. It is hard to get a country to “rally around the flag” when everyone stomps off in his or her own direction. Though President Obama won a clear reelection victory in 2012, he gathered votes from fewer than 28 percent of the adults in the country. Our official “national tree” is the oak, but perhaps our national symbol should instead be a splinter. The splintering is even more profound in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other “advanced” nations.

    It is hard to get a country to “rally around the flag” when everyone stomps off in his or her own direction.

    Many commentators blame an obvious villain for polarizing civil society: new technologies, especially the internet, which offers infinite choices and distractions. The internet raises two separate threats: it can radicalize loners, and it can also fracture communities. An NYPD white paper proclaims that the “Internet is a driver and enabler for the process of radicalization” by luring weak-minded and strong-minded people into fringe groups. Former Obama official and Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein warns that when “like-minded people get together, they tend to end up thinking a more extreme version of what they thought before they started to talk.” At the same time, new technologies enable a splintering of society. Picture an old black-and-white photo from the 1930s, with grandparents, parents and children gathered around one RCA family radio in the living room listening to the revered voice of President Franklin Roosevelt. Even RCA’s mascot, a terrier named Nipper, perked up his ears to listen. Now look around a home today, with each individual tuned to a personal smartphone or iPad. We have all seen families gather together at restaurants, ostensibly to share a meal and conversation, but each holds in hand an electronic device that literally packs more computing power than Apollo 11. At the same time, community institutions have broken down, including thousands of city and village newspapers that have folded at a rate of about 150 per year.

    Throughout history prosperous nations have suffered from a powerful tendency to fissure, splinter and lose their unifying missions — even without the help of electrons zipping through wireless devices.

    Clearly, technology can play a role in unraveling communities. But to blame technology is too simple, convenient and recent of an explanation. I will show that throughout history prosperous nations have suffered from a powerful tendency to fissure, splinter and lose their unifying missions — even without the help of electrons zipping through wireless devices. This entropy explains why nations have collapsed, even when their economies looked relatively strong. In fact, this book will show that nations are just as likely to unravel after periods of prosperity as during periods of depression. I will uncover five key forces that tend to undermine nations after they have achieved economic success. Together these forces impose the price of prosperity. While Paul Kennedy’s classic “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers” hit bestseller lists with tales of countries overextending their military, I make the case that the rot begins internally, not from armies storming across borders trying to conquer others. Recent bestsellers like Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” target inequality, while “Why Nations Fail” by James A. Robinson and Daron Acemoglu focuses on poor countries struggling to achieve prosperity. But we must also worry about “successful” countries that can no longer move forward or even stay in place.

    I will also argue that a splintering among the population matters: it induces people to cheat, swindle and focus more on the short term than on their long-term responsibilities, which ultimately undermines the economy and a cohesive civil society. The evidence jumps out from the headlines. A front-page story in the New York Times in 2008 reported that virtually every career employee of the Long Island Railroad applied for and received disability payments upon retirement. As a national spirit recedes, opportunism creeps in and shows up in everything from the housing market to school admissions to how congressmen handle national budgets. In the bubble years before the Great Recession of 2008, home buyers and brokers conspired to get subprime mortgages without putting any money down and without even showing tax returns to the bank. Bankers signed off anyway, since they were delighted to collect their hefty fees and pass the risk on to some faceless investor or taxpayer. Nobody had any skin in the game.

    As a national spirit recedes, opportunism creeps in and shows up in everything from the housing market to school admissions to how congressmen handle national budgets.

    It is a common and dangerous mistake to think that societies are less vulnerable when they are relatively prosperous. Most readers and even some social scientists assume, for example, that economic downturns spark crime. But faltering spirits and a lack of faith in the future kindle kidnapping, burglary and murder more than do falling incomes. During the 1930s, as families gathered around to listen to President Roosevelt’s reassuring voice, they felt a greater sense of cohesion and mutual support. In contrast, crime rates exploded in the 1960s, even as paychecks got fatter and jobs got easier to come by. To explain how even relatively prosperous societies have a tendency to come apart, we will scroll back the pages of history and look at the story of the splintering of such powers as the Ming dynasty in the 1600s, Venice in the 1700s, the Habsburg monarchs and Tokugawa shoguns in the 1800s and the Ottomans on the eve of World War I. In these examples, we will see how disintegrating national goals led to opportunistic behavior, an increase in cheating and theft and a decrease in saving and investment. We will see how the five forces of entropy threaten nations, putting a price tag on prosperity. These empires were powerful and reached extraordinary heights of economic wealth, yet they all collapsed from within. In this book, I have chosen examples that span cultural norms, from Confucian to Islamic to Catholic, geographic characteristics, from seafaring lowlands to mountainous highlands, and, of course, hundreds of years of history. The stories in this book will allow us to make inferences that are not anchored to one specific time, place, region or religion.


    Copyright © 2016 by Todd G. Buchholz. Re-printed here with permission of Harper Business, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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    U.S. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas poses for an official picture with other justices at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, in this file photo taken October 31, 2005. Thomas ended a decade of silence from the bench at U.S. Supreme Court arguments on Monday when the conservative justice unexpectedly posed questions during a gun rights case from Maine.    REUTERS/Jason Reed/Files - RTS8NAE

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: As you just heard, there are new allegations coming out today of sexual assault aimed at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

    Marcia Coyle, who is the chief Washington correspondent for “The National Law Journal” and a “NewsHour” regular, she broke the story, and she joins us now.

    Marcia, welcome to the program.

    MARCIA COYLE, The National Law Journal: Thanks, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you cover the Supreme Court.

    MARCIA COYLE: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How did this come to your attention?

    MARCIA COYLE: Well, the evening of the day that all of us were reading about Donald Trump’s audiotape in which he talked about how he treated women, Moira Smith, who is a lawyer and executive at a natural gas company in Alaska, put a post on her Facebook page in which she recounted three instances of inappropriate touching, even sexual assault, in her life.

    And one of the incidents that she mentioned involved Justice Clarence Thomas. Back in 1999, when she was just shy of her 24th birthday, she was a Truman Foundation scholar here in Washington, D.C., and she was at a dinner party hosted by her boss at the time at the foundation, and Justice Thomas was there with some other guests.

    She claimed that he groped her at that dinner. A friend of hers sent a copy of the Facebook post to me in a private Twitter message. And after discussing it with my editors, we felt we should open the line of communication with her.

    I called her, with no commitment to publish anything, to see if she wanted to talk. She didn’t seek us out, and we didn’t go hunting for her.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you say this was a dinner party. It involved the group that she was part of. Her employer was having the dinner. How did she happen to be next to, be adjacent to the justice?

    MARCIA COYLE: She was called a resident scholar. She was spending a year in which she basically helped the foundation with its activities.

    And part of her unofficial duties was to be at these dinner parties that the director of the foundation used to network. This was a special dinner in which the foundation was planning to give an award to a Kansas state legislator. And Justice Thomas was invited because he was going to give the award the next day at the Supreme Court.

    She claims that she was there doing preparations and doing final setting of the table for the dinner. Most of the guests, she said, were in the kitchen with her boss, who was a gourmet chef. When she was setting the table next to the justice is when she claims that he reached out and grabbed her with his right arm about five to six inches below the waist and squeezed her several times while asking her where was she going to sit. He thought she should sit next to him.

    She eventually broke away.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, that night, she didn’t say anything to anyone at the party.

    MARCIA COYLE: No. No.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But she did later?

    MARCIA COYLE: Well, based on my conversations that we had almost daily, I — while listening to her, I also began to report out to see if there was any corroboration.

    And I so found that she had had three roommates, housemates that summer, in D.C., and I found them and interviewed each of them individually. And even though they were fuzzy — I mean, it’s been a long time on the actual details of what she said — they all remembered her telling them about inappropriate behavior by the justice and how they really just didn’t know what to do.

    I also found a fourth person who was a scholar that summer who also remembered her telling him about the incident shortly afterwards.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, Marcia, you have asked the justice about this. Tell us about that.

    MARCIA COYLE: I approached the — my editors and I thought we had enough to approach him on Tuesday. And I walked the letter over to the court public information office, in which I told him specifically what she was claiming in her own words.

    And then later that evening, I followed up with a series of questions. He finally did get back to us late Wednesday afternoon. And, at that point, he had just one sentence in response. He said, “The claim is preposterous and it never happened.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And are you aware, Marcia, of any other allegations involving Justice Thomas, other than the Anita Hill original…

    (CROSSTALK)

    MARCIA COYLE: No. As I said in the story, there have been no other public allegations against the justice since the Anita Hill hearings in 1991.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, where does this go from here?

    MARCIA COYLE: I think people should read the story.

    As I often say here on the “NewsHour” when I talk about decisions, I try to give as much information as possible, so that people can make up their own minds about what the court has done. This was a thoroughly reported and carefully edited story. And I just suggest they read it and make their own decision.

    And we will see. There has been some reaction. The justice has very loyal supporters. They have come — some of them have come forward with very skeptical comments about the story.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Marcia Coyle with “The National Law Journal,” thank you for coming to talk to us about it.

    MARCIA COYLE: Thank you, Judy.

    The post Exclusive: The story behind new allegations against Justice Clarence Thomas appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A firefighter with a rescue dog search a collapsed building after an earthquake in Borgo Sant'Antonio near Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi - RTX2QORH

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: In the day’s other news: Thousands of people in Central Italy are homeless after two powerful earthquakes. The tremors hit last night near the town of Visso, about 100 miles north of Rome. State TV captured a 15th century church as it was brought down, and drone footage today showed the full extent of the destruction. Hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed as well.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s been another migrant disaster in the Mediterranean. Libya’s navy reports that at least 90 people drowned Wednesday when their rubber boat tore apart; 29 others were rescued about 26 miles off the Libyan coast. Most were African nationals.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A deadly airstrike on a school in Syria touched off allegations of war crimes today and heated denials. It happened Wednesday in rebel territory in Idlib Province. U.N. officials say 22 children and six teachers died. Amateur video showed a parachute floating to earth, then an explosion, and rescue workers pulling victims from the wreckage.

    U.N. envoy Gordon Brown called it an atrocity.

    GORDON BROWN, UN Envoy for Global Education: This is clearly a war crime if it is a deliberate attack on a school. The statute for the International Criminal Court makes that absolutely clear that this is, under their view, a war crime when a school is targeted.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The White House blamed Russia and Syria for the attack, but the Kremlin insisted its jets were not responsible.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The government of Pakistan moved today to ban protests in the capital, Islamabad, for two months. Hours later, police rounded up dozens of supporters of Imran Khan, the leader of the opposition. Khan, in turn, called a nationwide protest against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for tomorrow. Sharif is embroiled in a scandal involving his family’s offshore bank accounts.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Back in this country, the Justice Department has charged 61 people here and abroad with a sweeping scam that netted more than $300 million. Officials say callers based in India posed as IRS or immigration agents and demanded payments of allegedly outstanding taxes or other fees. They victimized at least 15,000 people, mostly the elderly and immigrants.

    BRUCE FOUCART, Assistant Director, Homeland Security Investigations: Many of the victims in this case are savvy, successful, and law-abiding people. These scammers in this case, and in so many cases like this, are convincing. They are menacing and they are ruthless in their pursuit of their victims. They convey authority and a sense of urgency that leaves their victims terrified.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Federal agents have served warrants in eight states and arrested at least 20 people so far.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In North Dakota, soldiers and police have begun removing and arresting protesters against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. About 200 people had camped on private land trying to block construction, and they refused to leave voluntarily. They say the pipeline could damage cultural sites and water supplies for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In economic news, Twitter announced it’s killing its mobile video app Vine and laying off 9 percent of its global work force, about 300 people. The company is losing money and has been searching for a buyer. And, on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 29 points to close at 18169. The Nasdaq fell 34 points. The S&P 500 slipped six.

    The post News Wrap: Thousands homeless after Italian earthquakes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign event in Springfield, Ohio, U.S., October 27 2016.   REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTX2QRBF

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    JUDY WOODRUFF:  The presidential race is down to its last dozen days, and the candidates are gearing up for one final push.

    This day found them hard at it in two crucial states.

    Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.

    LISA DESJARDINS:  Donald Trump’s race to 270 electoral votes, at least today, meant hopscotching across battleground Ohio, first stop, Springfield, the nominee greeted by supporters, brimming with confidence:

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee:  If we win on November 8, when — OK, OK — when we win on November 8.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    LISA DESJARDINS:  Trump hit on familiar themes, protecting borders, improving the economy, and then he touched on the latest Clinton news: e-mails about corporations that donated to the Clinton Foundation and paid Bill Clinton to speak as well.

    DONALD TRUMP:  If the Clinton’s were willing to play this fast and loose with their enterprise when they weren’t in the White House, just imagine what they will do, given the chance to once again control the Oval Office.

    LISA DESJARDINS:  Separately, in an ABC interview, Trump faced a question about after the election, and how he’d handle his sharp divide with Hillary Clinton.

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC News:  If she wins, are you prepared to work with her?

    DONALD TRUMP:  I just want to make that decision at a later date.  I’m not saying I’m not or I am.  Hopefully, I won’t have to make that decision.  I really believe we’re going to win.

    LISA DESJARDINS:  Similarly, on her campaign plane last night, Clinton was asked if she would meet with Trump after it’s over.  She also demurred.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee:  I certainly intend to reach out to Republicans and independents and the elected leadership of the Congress.

    LISA DESJARDINS:  Clinton’s day today wasn’t about hopscotching.  There was just one big event, in critical North Carolina with one of her biggest surrogates on stage with her.  Clinton pushed her new plan to fight bullies.

    HILLARY CLINTON:  The young woman I met in Iowa who told me she was bullied because of her asthma.  This has got to stop.  And I can’t think of anything more important than making sure every single one of our children knows they are loved just as they are.

    Michelle Obama!

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    LISA DESJARDINS:  And then the candidate introduced the first lady.

    MICHELLE OBAMA, First Lady:  So, when you hear folks talking about a global conspiracy, and saying that this election is rigged, understand that they are trying to get you to stay home.  Make no mistake about it.  Casting our vote is the ultimate way we go high when they go low.  Voting is our high.

    LISA DESJARDINS:  It’s not the final week, but, in stump speeches and in campaign ads, the final arguments are beginning.

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

    The post What the candidates said when asked about post-election reconciliation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Inmates (clockwise from top left) Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Peter Santilli, Shawna Cox, Ryan Payne and Joseph O'Shaughnessy are seen in a combination of police jail booking photos released by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office in Portland, Oregon. All have been found not guilty of conspiracy. Photo by MCSO/Handout via Reuters

    Inmates (clockwise from top left) Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Peter Santilli, Shawna Cox, Ryan Payne and Joseph O’Shaughnessy are seen in a combination of police jail booking photos released by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in Portland, Oregon. All have been found not guilty of conspiracy. Photo by MCSO/Handout via Reuters

    Ammon and Ryan Bundy have been found not guilty of conspiracy. Their five co-defendants Jeff Banta, Shawna Cox, David Fry, Kenneth Medenbach and Neil Wampler have all been found not guilty as well.

    Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on Ryan Bundy’s theft of government property charge.

    The jury returned its verdict after some six weeks of testimony followed by less than six hours deliberations, and the last minute replacement of a juror after an allegation surfaced that he was biased.

    The jury was instructed to disregard their previous work and to re-consider the evidence

    The charges stem from the 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns in eastern Oregon’s high desert. The armed protest began Jan. 2 and ended when the final four occupiers surrendered to the FBI on Feb. 11.

    Prosecutors initially charged Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy, and 24 others with conspiracy to prevent Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees from doing their jobs at the wildlife refuge in Harney County. Some defendants named in the indictment faced weapons charges for carrying firearms in a federal facility, as well as theft of government property.

    Only seven defendants went to trial in September. Others have pleaded guilty or are scheduled to go to trial in February 2017.

    Through the government’s case, prosecutors attempted to show the jury evidence about when the alleged conspiracy began, as well as how the occupation unfolded and ultimately ended.

    The government relied heavily on testimony from law enforcement, including Harney County Sheriff David Ward, as well as dozens of FBI agents who responded to the occupation or processed evidence at the Malheur refuge after the occupation ended.

    “At the end of the day, there is an element of common sense that demonstrates the guilt of these defendants,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight said during his closing arguments during the trial. “These defendants took over a wildlife refuge and it wasn’t theirs.”

    Conversely, the defense sought to make its case about a political protest – one about protesting the federal government’s ownership and management of public lands.

    “The people have to insist that the government is not our master; they are our servants,” Ryan Bundy said during his closing statement to the jury.

    Bundy added the occupation had “nothing to do with impeding and preventing the employees of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.”

    Puyallup, Washington, resident Brian Edgin said, "it's a sad day in America when our own government doesn't support the Constitution of America." Photo by Conrad Wilson/OPB

    Puyallup, Washington, resident Brian Edgin said, “it’s a sad day in America when our own government doesn’t support the Constitution of America.” Photo by Conrad Wilson/OPB

    The occupation in rural eastern Oregon fueled a long running debate about the role of the federal government when it comes of managing public lands, especially for ranching and other natural resource-based professions.

    Throughout the armed protest, occupation leader Ammon Bundy frequently said their goal was to shift the federally-owned land to local control. During presses conferences and interviews, Bundy frequently said he wanted to “get the ranchers back to ranching, get the loggers back to logging and miners back to mining.”

    While federal prosecutors worked to keep their case focused on conspiracy, the trial quickly came to symbolize the growing divide between urban and rural America.

    “How did any of these people benefit from protesting the death of rural America?” Attorney Matt Schindler, hybrid counsel for defendant Ken Medenbach, said during his closing statements to the jury.

    Five of the seven defendants took the stand in their own defense during the trial. Occupation leader Ammon Bundy’s testimony stretched over the course of three days and included stories about growing up on a ranch and his family role in the 2014 armed standoff in Bunkerville, Nevada.

    With the first Oregon trial concluded, the Bundy brothers and several other defendants who participated in the Malheur occupation will now travel to Nevada, where they face charges for their roles in the Bunkerville standoff.

    This report first appeared on OPB’s website.

    The post Ammon Bundy, other militants found not guilty in Oregon standoff trial appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Emergency workers stand in front of the plane carrying U.S. Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence after it skidded off the runway after landing in the rain at New York City's LaGuardia Airport on Thursday, in this still image taken from video October 27, 2016. COURTESY US TV POOL/via Reuters

    Emergency workers stand in front of the plane carrying U.S. Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence after it skidded off the runway after landing in the rain at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport on Thursday, in this still image taken from video October 27, 2016. COURTESY US TV POOL/via Reuters

    NEW YORK — Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence’s campaign plane slid off a runway during a rainstorm at New York’s LaGuardia Airport late Thursday, tearing up concrete before coming to rest on a patch of grass.

    When the plane came to a stop, U.S. Secret Service agents rushed from the back of the plane to the front, where Pence was seated, to check on the candidate. He said he was fine, though, and no one had been injured.

    “We can see mud on the front windows,” a calm Pence said in the press cabin about a minute after the plane came to rest.

    Later, the Indiana governor tweeted: “So thankful everyone on our plane is safe. Grateful for our first responders & the concern & prayers of so many. Back on the trail tomorrow!”

    In Geneva, Ohio, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump told his supporters that Pence had come “pretty close to grave, grave danger.” But, he added: “I just spoke to Mike Pence and he’s fine. Everybody’s fine.”

    Democrat Hillary Clinton tweeted: “Glad to hear @mike_pence, his staff, Secret Service, and the crew are all safe.”

    The plane was coming to New York from Fort Dodge, Iowa, where it had made a hard landing but stayed on the runway earlier Thursday afternoon. After a rally in Fort Dodge, Pence’s flight to New York was delayed because of weather. The Indiana governor spent about 20 minutes tossing a football with his staff, journalists and Secret Service agents near the Iowa runway.

    Upon arriving at LaGuardia, after a bumpy approach, the Boeing 737 Eastern Airlines charter landed roughly, making first contact with the runway concrete. The pilot slammed on the brakes and the plane began to slide sideways. When it stopped, passengers could smell burning rubber.

    The Federal Aviation Administration said, “A crushable concrete runway safety technology called an Engineered Material Arresting System stopped the plane.” The FAA website says the material is “designed to safely stop airplanes that overshoot runways.”

    The 37 passengers, including Pence, and 11 crew members were evacuated through the back of the plane.

    In a series of televised interviews on Friday, Pence said he was grateful that the crushable concrete runway worked as designed and for the “quick action” by pilots and first responders.

    “Just for a few seconds, you could feel us bouncing off,” he told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” ”And with mud splattered up on the windows, we figured we were off the runway.”

    Pence added: “I’m just really grateful, really grateful, for some quick action, not only by the pilots, but also by first responders” who were quickly on the scene.

    The Port Authority shut down the runway following the incident, but later reopened it. In a statement, the agency confirmed that the plane had “overshot” the runway and said there were no injuries and no fire.

    Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye said the National Transportation Safety Board “will take control of the investigation. The aircraft will remain where it is until the NTSB releases it.”

    Foye added, “Per the request of the NTSB, we are not going to speculate on the cause of the incident tonight.”

    Pence spokesman Marc Lotter said Pence spoke with Trump shortly after the landing. The vice presidential candidate also called into the $1 million fundraiser at Trump Tower that he had been expected to attend, Lotter said. The campaign said it was preparing a new, similar aircraft that would be ready soon.

    The post Campaign plane carrying Mike Pence skids off New York runway appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Illustration by Eros Dervishi/STAT

    Illustration by Eros Dervishi/STAT

    Growing up, I didn’t know what was wrong with my mother. I was 25, maybe 26, when I learned she had a lobotomy. I am still trying to make sense of it.

    My mother had two brain tumors. The first one, in July 1945, was operated on in Oklahoma City and she survived, her bright mind intact. The second one, in November 1953, occurred when she was pregnant with me. Shortly after I was born, my mother flew from San Diego, where we lived, to Oklahoma City. This time there was trouble during surgery, and to staunch the trouble they took both her frontal lobes.

    I never knew my mother when she was well, but I do know that after the lobotomy, she was never the same. She developed grand mal epilepsy. She could not taste or smell. She drank like a fish and cursed like a sailor. Her short-term memory was shot, her vocabulary frozen in the 1950s. She had what we now call “poor impulse control,” meaning she said and did whatever sailed into her head.

    This might involve any number of wild and alarming stunts. Sneaking the keys to our station wagon and going on a joy ride. Sleeping with military guys she met in the bars on Shelter Island. Running up my father’s credit cards. Frying up hamburgers for my brothers and me at 5:30 in the morning because she thought it was dinnertime. Chasing my brothers around the house with a baseball bat.

    What my mother really suffered, though, was the brutal loss of her self.

    What my mother really suffered, though, was the brutal loss of her self. But it’s taken me decades to understand that, and to excavate who exactly it was that was lost.

    When my mother’s cataclysmic surgery took place, she was 33, a wife and mother of four children under age 9. I don’t remember ever hearing a reason for mom’s illness; my brothers never shared with me their recollections of her in earlier years. My father was a respected doctor, with patients ranging from sportswriters to football players. But he never told me what happened to her or alluded to her brain surgeries. We just didn’t talk about my mother.

    As a child I didn’t find this strange at all. As far as I was concerned, my father was a saint. He was quiet and kind. He went out on house calls and made sick people well. His patients adored him. I know because when I visited him in his office near Balboa Park, they told me.

    READ MORE: My sister made her end-of-life wishes clear. Then dementia took hold

    My mother, in contrast, was a holy terror. She raged at me for nothing. She raged at my father the moment he walked in the door, poured himself a glass of gin. The last thing I wanted was to upset him, so I swallowed my anxiety and learned not to ask questions. Besides, the stigma of mental illness at the time was intense. No one I knew had a mother like mine.

    Did she just wake up one day like this? I wondered. Disassembled and furious? How could I explain her to other people if I couldn’t fathom her?

    For a long time the only thing I knew was what I could see. Beneath my mother’s bangs was an ugly square dent, as hard and shiny as a flattened tin can. The dent both fascinated and repelled me. No wonder she tried to cover it up with bangs. But how did it get there? Did someone punch her? Did she fall during a seizure and smash her head? Does the painful-looking impression hurt? My mother hated the dent. The times she caught me glancing at it she would snap, “What the hell are you looking at?”

    The author’s parents, circa 1943. Photo courtesy of Mona Gable

    The author’s parents, circa 1943. Photo courtesy of Mona Gable

    I eventually learned what it was. The dent had been caused by a metal plate put inside my mother’s forehead to prevent her brain from swelling. The swelling would have killed her.

    We lived in a ranch-style house in a middle-class neighborhood in San Diego. When I was a baby, my father hired a middle-aged Irish woman named Freddie to take care of us. She stayed for 16 years.

    Freddie did everything my mother couldn’t do. She went grocery shopping, kept the house tidy, cooked our dinner every night. She tucked me in bed and read me Irish fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Because my mother wasn’t allowed to drive — one of many restrictions that infuriated her to no end — Freddie ferried me to my swimming lessons and Girl Scout meetings, my brothers to their baseball games. She took me to church, where I sang in the choir.

    Freddie also corralled my erratic mother. When Freddie arrived, my mother often wouldn’t bathe or get dressed. She lay about in her room, the curtains closed, chain-smoking in bed, her hair a wiry brown mess. She sat on the couch in the family room for hours, watching “Dialing for Dollars” and “Queen for A Day.”

    Freddie would yank her gently out of her lassitude and stubbornness, get her functioning again. She encouraged her to take her meds, took her to the beauty parlor to get her hair done.

    And Freddie was there for more serious reasons as well. My mother’s seizures terrified me, erupting without warning. She would fall to the floor in a heap, her body shaking, her voice strangled. Sometimes we would have to call an ambulance, and my mother would be carted away to the hospital.

    At some point when I was young, Freddie tried to explain to me that something happened to my mother’s brain. “That’s why she is the way she is, dear, she can’t help it.” But what does that mean, I remember thinking. Can she be fixed? Will she ever get better?

    I slept in a room with my mother for the next nine years. We had twin beds and matching chenille bedspreads.

    Mostly my mother seemed lost in her own world, oblivious to me unless I irritated her. Yet when I was 7, she demanded that I share a room with her because my father no longer wanted to sleep with her. I was shocked, inconsolable. I cried to Freddie for days. My mother didn’t even love me; why would she want this? But there was nothing Freddie could do. I prayed my father would rescue me, put a stop to my mother’s insanity. He didn’t. I felt like I had been thrown to the wolves.

    I slept in a room with my mother for the next nine years. We had twin beds and matching chenille bedspreads. We shared a closet: her cocktail dresses, hats, wigs, and high heels on one side, my dresses, sweaters, and tennis shoes on the other. Initially I coped with her invasion by reading. In the closet was a bookcase, stacked with books and National Geographics. I’d sit on a stool reading for hours, looking for escape. Then my mother would burst in, ordering me to get out.

    When I was 9 or 10, she started going out at night and drinking. She would call a cab, then trot out the front door down the walkway to the curb, her red lipstick perfect, smelling of Chanel No. 5. My father was mostly absent by now, off in Palm Springs playing golf, or off at Carol’s house, the woman who would become my stepmother. I found it hard to sleep. I’d lie there in the dark, waiting for her to stumble in the door, drunk. She was always drunk. There were nights when she didn’t come home at all. When I was old enough to stay over at friends’ houses, I stopped coming home, too.

    Throughout, my mother was an enigma to me. No one could tell me why she was so strange. But for years, wanting to escape her, wanting to be sure I was nothing like her — bonkers, embarrassing, helpless — it’s perhaps equally true that I didn’t want to know. When I left home to go to college at Berkeley, I was ecstatic, I was finally free of her. I could begin my life, become someone new.

    It wasn’t until my 20s, when I started therapy, that I began to feel compassion for my mother, and began researching her medical history. It wasn’t easy; her medical records had been destroyed in a hospital fire. My father had died, without having ever revealed to me my mother’s tumors or subsequent surgery.

    But slowly I began to piece together her story, the changes she endured after she was butchered. I tracked down the neurologist who treated her when I was a child. One afternoon I called him on the phone from work. I remember holding my breath before he answered. Oh, yes, he remembered her, he said laughing. She was his worst patient. Wouldn’t do anything he said. Hated taking her medication. He’s the one who told me my mother had the lobotomy. I cried after we hung up.

    READ MORE: 5 lessons from my decades of struggle with depression and anxiety

    I spoke with an aunt in Oklahoma, my father’s sister-in-law. She had known my parents before they got married. She gave me a packet of old family letters between members of my father’s family, some of them written by my grandfather from his ranch in Southern California, where he had retired in the 1940s. They spoke of my mother’s first brain surgery, their anxiety waiting for the call from my father, their hopes for the tumor to be safely removed. Little did they know. The lobotomy was yet to come.

    Few people remained who could tell me who my mother was before the surgery: She was an only child, with few living relatives. Eventually I found an address for one of her cousins, Dorothy, who lived in Arizona. I wrote her a long letter, explaining my wish to learn more about my mother. She was delighted to hear from me, happy to share her memories, and we arranged to talk on the phone. She told me how smart and beautiful my mother had been. How sweet. All the fun they had as teenage girls, the summers they spent at their grandparents’ in Colorado, going to dances, flirting with boys. My mother had gone to college in Tennessee. She had been engaged to an Air Force pilot before she met my father. I was dumbstruck. I had never known any of this. When Dorothy saw my mother a few years after her surgery, she told me, she was shocked, heartbroken, by the changes in her.

    With all that, I finally began to grieve for my mother, the young woman she had been. And for losing her.

    Sometimes I wonder whether the surgeons made the right choice to save my mother’s life, when she was left so debilitated after her lobotomy.

    By then she lived alone in San Diego, in an apartment complex where Freddie had an apartment too. She still did things that made me nuts. I could call her umpteen times before I visited, and she would still forget we had a lunch date. Answer the door in her housecoat. She would call me in the middle of the night, oblivious of the time. “Whatcha doin’?” she’d chirp. “Sleepin’ mom,” I’d say. She’d send me birthday cards on the wrong date, signing them with quotation marks: “Lovingly, mom.” But when I was good and patient, I was able to catch myself. It’s not her fault.

    Sometimes I wonder whether the surgeons made the right choice to save my mother’s life, when she was left so debilitated after her lobotomy. I wonder if she’d had her surgery today, if she would have woken up whole, intact. This makes me feel terrible. But as medicine comes up with treatments that increasingly extend our lives, we’re all having to face wrenching decisions like this. Do we want to live if we lose who we are?

    In one respect, my mother was lucky. She had the gift of not remembering her past, so she could not mourn the person she was. She lived vividly — and often, for me — infuriatingly in the present.

    Learning about her past changed how I felt about her. I was finally able to stop expecting her to be the mother I never had, and to accept her to be the mother she was.

    Mona Gable is a writer and the author of “Blood Brother: The Gene That Rocked My Family.”

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Oct. 27, 2016. Find the original story here.

    The post Column: Growing up, I didn’t know my mother had a lobotomy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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