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

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    "Courage", the National Thanksgiving Turkey, is pictured on the North Portico of the White House in Washington, November 25, 2009, before being pardoned by U.S. President Barack Obama.     REUTERS/Jason Reed   (UNITED STATES SOCIETY POLITICS ANIMALS IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTXR4IS

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: As families and friends gather together for this Thanksgiving holiday, we are aware that this year’s meal may be a more tense and awkward affair than usual because of reaction to the election.

    In that spirit, we collected a number of voices, some from the “NewsHour” family, to offer suggestions about how we can talk to each other this year, with civility, sometimes with candor, sometimes with humor, and understanding too.

    JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, CEO, Define American: I’m looking forward to what I’m sure will be an uncomfortable, but celebratory Thanksgiving.

    DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: I recommend not talking about politics right away, but having several earlier rounds of conversations. So, the first subject could be things I have always resented about you.

    And the next subject could be ways you have wounded me from which I will never recover. And then, by the time you get to politics, it will seem pretty good, actually.

    STEVE DEACE, Conservative Radio Show Host: I think civil is not a tone. It’s a temperament. If somebody says to you, hey, I think you’re knuckle-dragging pond scum with a smile on their face, I don’t feel better because they said it nice. I think civility is the motivation.

    RUTH MARCUS, Washington Post: In the middle of a discussion, if another course is coming or another piece of pie is to be had, you might want to try that.

    KALI HOLLOWAY, Senior Writer, AlterNet: This is never an easy conversation even in the best of times, right, which is why we’re notoriously bad at having it.

    RUTH MARCUS: There is always changing the subject. I understand a lot of people like to talk about sports.

    JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS: We gamble. We play poker. It’s a Filipino game called Pusoy. It’s like a Filipino poker. So at least we’re gambling while this is happening. So, it adds levity.

    SUSAN DAVID, Author/Psychologist, Harvard Medical School: Nine times out of 10, we find ourselves saying the very thing that we promised that we wouldn’t say, and then you have got a turkey explosion on your hands.

    RUTH MARCUS: My solution to that is going to be, like I said, just give them pie.

    JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS: I don’t think we as a country know how to have conversations anymore.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS: I think what happens is, we all just project. And, instead of listening, like really listening, what we do is, when people talk, we already decide how we’re going to counter what they’re saying.

    DAVID BROOKS: I have never lost a friend over politics, and I don’t believe in it. Politics is something we care about, but friendship matters more. Family relationship matters a zillion times more.

    KALI HOLLOWAY: These conversations have to start with the sense that you are going to moderate your own behavior, you’re going to listen to what the other person is saying. Form a bond with the person that you’re talking to.

    JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS: Listening is a radical act. And I could not agree more. And I think, more than anything, we need to listen to each other.

    KALI HOLLOWAY: When things get do heated, I think doing what you can to allow that person the space to really speak to who they are, the values that drive them, and not so they can feel demonized or that they have to be defensive.

    STEVE DEACE: I can get worked up sometimes. And when I can sense that I’m about to go over the line, I will just say something really dumb or make a really trivial pop culture reference that’s just beyond silly just to sort of pop the pin and let some air out of the room a little bit.

    SUSAN DAVID: There’s a lot of research that shows that, when we don’t just say I’m angry or I’m sad, but I feel betrayed, I feel really sad, when we can get more nuanced about our emotions, we tend to do better in these interactions.

    JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS: Everyone in my family, either — most of whom are either born here and are U.S. citizens or naturalized U.S. citizens. Everyone is kind of panicking and worried. Some of my family members, including my grandmother, thinks I should just go home, home being the Philippines, where I haven’t been since I was 12.

    Everybody is going to have something to say, because that’s what family is, and just to kind of nod and smile and, you know, explain, this is my home, and no president can take that away.

    KALI HOLLOWAY: I would encourage particularly white people to go home and have these difficult conversations. Don’t just have them in your echo chambers or when you’re around other progressive whites.

    You need to take some of those important points home and point out why these issues are important to you. Maybe talk about why it’s personal, talk about friendships that you have with people of color or people who are genuinely afraid and who have been affected by this.

    STEVE DEACE: I don’t think anybody should feel like they have some obligation to address these things at the Thanksgiving table. That’s not what Thanksgiving is about. It’s not about you.

    It’s not about — that’s — I think people are confusing Thanksgiving with Festivus. All right? This is not about the airing of grievances. This is not about self-actualization or understanding of your viewpoint.

    RUTH MARCUS: Whether you supported Hillary Clinton, whether you supported Donald Trump, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican — and I don’t mean to sound too saccharin here, but we are all Americans. We are celebrating a national holiday that should make us all stop and be at least a little bit thankful that we live in this country.

    DAVID BROOKS: I would just remember that the people who voted for Trump, if you’re not a Trump voter, in my experience — I have certainly spoken to a lot of them — they were realistic about the guy, and they just wanted a change. They wanted to be heard.

    They had sometimes legitimate reasons for voting for a person who I personally disagree with. But — so it’s not like they were signing on for evil. They were taking the vehicle they had to change what they saw as a declining circumstance.

    SUSAN DAVID: Instead of feeling that this individual is defined by one vote or one perspective, we can instead bring our values, our intention, our compassion, our love, our kindness to people who we truly value.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On our Web site, you can download our guide to civility at the holidays and use it as a place mat at the Thanksgiving table, seriously. Find it at PBS.org/NewsHour.

    The post Tough conversations at the Thanksgiving table? Here’s how to keep the peace appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: trying to reverse radicalization and terrorism in the U.S.

    Miles O’Brien looks at how experts in the field of clinical psychology are tackling this, as part of our weekly story on the Leading Edge of science.

    MILES O’BRIEN: In a federal courtroom in Minneapolis, they are facing the threat of homegrown terrorism in a manner that has never been tried before in this country. It is a bold experiment in criminal justice and clinical psychology. The question? Can aggressive counseling bring someone back from the brink of radicalization?

    MANNY ATWAL, Federal Defender: What we have started here is revolutionary. I think it’s great.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Manny Atwal is a federal public defender representing 20-year-old Abdullahi Yusuf. He is one of eight first-generation Somali Americans, all in their teens or early 20s, convicted in May of plotting to go to Syria and fight for the Islamic State.

    MANNY ATWAL: I know we punish juveniles. I get that, and I understand that. And I know we punish young adults, and I get that and understand that. But, at the same time, to say let’s just lock them up for a lifetime is not the right solution.

    MILES O’BRIEN: While he was in jail awaiting sentencing, Abdullahi Yusuf became the nation’s first convicted terrorist to undergo terrorism rehabilitation. He has two mentors who counsel him regularly and a wide-ranging reading list.

    MANNY ATWAL: He will have like a week to read this, write up a book report and then discuss it with us.

    MILES O’BRIEN: So, it’s a real assignment for him?

    MANNY ATWAL: Yes. Yes.

    Learning American civics, learning about American culture, learning about the East and West just — it just opened up his eyes. And that, I think, is the disengagement that I speak of, to try and get these kids to disengage from some of their thinking that’s been put in their heads, and to get them back to be good citizens that they were before this all happened.

    MILES O’BRIEN: It appears the effort might have held sway with the judge. Yusuf, who also testified against his friends, was sentenced to time served. Most of the others received long prison terms. The case of these men is one chapter in a long, sad story.

    CHIEF JUDGE JOHN TUNHEIM, District of Minnesota: Minnesota has the greatest number of terrorism prosecutions of any of the federal districts in the United States.

    MILES O’BRIEN: John Tunheim is the chief federal judge for the District of Minnesota, home to the largest Somali American community in the U.S.

    He watched from the bench as a tragic exodus began in 2007; 23 young Somali Americans from Minnesota joined the ranks of the al-Qaida-linked Al-Shabaab terror group as it tried to topple the government of Somalia. More recently, the call to arms has come from the Islamic State.

    For judges trying to mete out fair sentences, it is uncharted territory. There are no guidelines.

    CHIEF JUDGE JOHN TUNHEIM: They’re different from a bank robber or someone who sells drugs. I mean, we understand those cases. We have had many of those cases in our courts. We haven’t had many terrorism cases. We need to understand them. We need to make sure that we can keep them, to the best effort that we possibly can, from becoming terrorists again.

    MILES O’BRIEN: For some expert advice, they turned to this man in Stuttgart, Germany.

    DANIEL KOEHLER, German Institute on Radicalization and De-radicalization Studies: The Minneapolis group was a by-the-book radicalization process. What they did was, they actually followed ISIL’s own recruitment handbook step-by-step.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Daniel Koehler is one of a small cohort of experts in the world in the emerging field of de-radicalization. The judge hearing the cases in Minnesota is factoring Koehler’s guidance into sentencing.

    DANIEL KOEHLER: When you start working with a person, the first question is, is that person willing to change? Is he or she actually asking for help to leave the movement? Is there any cognitive opening?

    It’s like peeling an onion. Layer by layer, you try to work yourself to the core and offer something that gets more and more attractive to that person, to compete with a narrative of groups like ISIL or al-Qaida.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Koehler has de-radicalized neo-Nazis for years, and he says the approach is much the same, but the enticement to religious extremism is even more compelling.

    ARIE KRUGLANSKI, University of Maryland: It’s the opportunity to become a hero, to become a martyr, to serve a cause greater than your own.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Psychologist Arie Kruglanski says terrorists are seeking that and certainty, clear-cut answers in a chaotic world. The psychological term is cognitive closure.

    ARIE KRUGLANSKI: The need for cognitive closure is the need for certainty and the need to be confident about a topic, the need to know for sure.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Kruglanski and his team have authored reams of research on the Sri Lankan terror group known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Tamil Tigers.

    He discovered a clear link between feelings of self-worth and the desire to join a group.

    ARIE KRUGLANSKI: You feel that you’re humiliated, that you’re insignificant, you do not matter. And that predisposes people to listen to ideologies that tell you, I will tell you how you’re going to matter. You’re going to matter — and this is in the case of ISIS and radicalization — you’re going to matter by joining the fight.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Kruglanski has tested this theory with a simple experiment, which he replicated for us.

    Our subjects, four University of Maryland undergraduates.

    Graduate student Marina Chernikova presided over the experiment.

    MARINA CHERNIKOVA: The purpose of this experiment is to provide — is to explore the evolutionary hunting hypothesis.

    MILES O’BRIEN: They all played a simple video game called the Duck Hunt. The game was set to be impossibly hard for two of them, and incredibly easy for the other two.

    They were told a score of 100 or more predicts all kinds of success in life.

    MARINA CHERNIKOVA: But scores lower than 100 strongly predict failure. So you’re going to be playing that game today.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Ben Weinberg had it easy. He was knocking ducks out of the sky right and left, and waltzed to the 100-point threshold. But when it was Mara Lins’ turn in the hot seat, there were no sitting ducks, not even close.

    MARA LINS, University of Maryland: I felt really frustrated, because the duck was just going so fast, I couldn’t ever really click on it that well, and the scores just kept going more and more down. So, it made me really uncomfortable, actually.

    MILES O’BRIEN: They took a survey that included two dozen questions designed to assess people’s need for support from a group.

    ARIE KRUGLANSKI: So, this person seems to be scoring very high on interdependence. Do you know what condition was he in?

    MARINA CHERNIKOVA: Yes, this one was in the failure condition.

    ARIE KRUGLANSKI: In the failure condition. OK. That’s very interesting.

    If you’re successful, you feel relatively independent of your group. You can have it on your own. You do not need the group. You do not need other people. But when you feel humiliated and weakened in a sense of failure, that’s the circumstances that lead you to attach to the group, to the larger entity that would empower you and tell you how to feel significant by doing what the group requires you to do.

    MILES O’BRIEN: The Minnesota men were straddling two cultures, not sure where they belonged, and they were incessantly watching ISIS recruitment videos.

    MANNY ATWAL: I don’t mean to sound so callous about it, but it looked cool to them. I don’t think, personally, these kids ever thought through it, I’m going to be actually picking up a gun and killing people.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Ayan Farah runs a small restaurant in a mall that caters to the Somali community. Her son Adnan is one of the convicted terrorists. He got a 10-year sentence. She does not believe prison is warranted.

    AYAN FARAH, Mother of Convicted Terrorist: He’s a teenage. Teenage? He is a teenage. Always teenage is a teenage.

    MILES O’BRIEN: But does de-radicalization work? Arie Kruglanski has data that shows it does.

    In Sri Lanka, he studied the Tamil Tigers at different times during their first year home after a long civil war. Some were exposed to a full de-radicalization program. Others were not.

    ARIE KRUGLANSKI: We found a significant decline in violence in the experimental group that received the treatment, as compared to the control group that received only minimal treatment.

    Human minds, human psyches are malleable. They are pliable. In the same way as a person gets radicalized, it changes from a mainstream kind of person to a fringe kind of person, they can be brought back, and also they can be re-radicalized.

    MILES O’BRIEN: The experiment may soon have some other points of data, thanks some judges in Minnesota who are leaning forward, looking for a better solution.

    CHIEF JUDGE JOHN TUNHEIM: While people may be very happy to see someone put away for many, many years, if they’re accused of being a terrorist, that just is not feasible to think that warehousing these people without helping them at all is doing anyone any good.

    MILES O’BRIEN: The science suggests de-radicalization is possible, but is this country ready to embrace the approach en masse? The jury is still out on that.

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

    The post Can we reverse radicalization with counselling? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A Border Patrol vehicle is seen along the U.S. border fence in Brownsville, Texas, U.S. November 17, 2016.     REUTERS/Jon Herskovitz - RTST0LC

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: During his run for the White House, president-elect Donald Trump made Mexico, perhaps more than any other individual country, a campaign issue.

    Tonight, with the help of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, we begin a special two-part series from Mexico, and a look at Trump’s promises to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and to build a wall along the U.S. Southern border.

    Special correspondent Nick Schifrin and producer Zach Fannin begin their report tonight from the outskirts of the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: In the dry riverbed that separates Mexico from the U.S., the promise of a better life is only a few hundred feet away.

    The woman is a 23-year-old Mexican from Juarez who asked to remain anonymous. Leading her is a half-guide/half-smuggler known as a coyote. Everything beyond the fence is El Paso, Texas. She’s trying to cross illegally.

    WOMAN (through translator): There’s work here, but the wages are very low. You can barely survive here. Life there is better than here.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: The coyote’s been doing this for 10 years. Compared to when he started, today’s border is much more secure.

    MAN (through translator): It’s more difficult now. Before, they used to cross just to have fun. Now they cross because they want to be there, like her, and live there.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: She’s part of a recent spike. From August to October, the number of people apprehended on the Southern border rose by nearly 20 percent. She’s trying to get in before Donald Trump is inaugurated.

    WOMAN (through translator): They say it will get more difficult, so I have to do it now.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: What would happen if President Trump built a wall right here?

    MAN (through translator): We would cross anyway. We’re never going to stop crossing.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: How would you cross if there were a wall there?

    MAN (through translator): That’s what we wondered when the fence went up. And we found a way. Here we are. There’s always a way.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: It’s not easy. Tonight, a border guard scared them away. They will try again tomorrow.

    Stopping this kind of illegal immigration was a central Trump campaign theme.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

    On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful Southern border wall.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    NICK SCHIFRIN: The Mexico-U.S. border is nearly 2,000 miles’ long. Right now, walls or fences, like this one west of El Paso, Texas, cover about 700 miles. The terrain can be rough.

    But the distances between American and Mexican cities are often small. In some places, sturdy iron gives way to standard-issue chain-link fence, which is scheduled to be replaced. This fence couldn’t keep this young man out.

    U.S. border agents arrest a 17-year-old Mexican who crossed illegally. He’s been arrested before trying to lead undocumented immigrants into the U.S. This time, he was spotted by a highly sensitive camera manned by an agent more than a mile away.

    JOE ROMERO, Supervisory Agent, U.S. Border Patrol: They have got nighttime equipment, cameras they can use to look down and really cover a vast area with the technology they have available to them.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Joe Romero is a supervisory Border Patrol agent. He says there is no quick and easy solution to securing the border.

    JOE ROMERO: Here, we have got an 18-foot fence. There’s a guy in Mexico, I’m sure, making a killing off of 20-foot ladders. At the end of the day, people find a way to get through.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Every day, they patrol for eight hours. The vehicles and fences are meant to deter and stop would-be crossers. This increased presence, along with more aggressive prosecution, began a decade ago. It worked. Illegal crossings are down 84 percent since 2006, despite the recent spike.

    Is the goal to bring illegal crossings to zero?

    JOE ROMERO: I can’t say that you will ever be able to stop crossings 100 percent. I just don’t see that. And, really, that’s not the goal. The goal is to mitigate the threats coming to our borders.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Truly separating these countries is nearly impossible, given their deep connections, not only geographic — I’m standing in the U.S., and everything beyond the water is Mexico — but also intertwined economies and families who straddle the border. Every day, more than a million people cross legally.

    The Olivares Castro family’s commute starts every day at 4:00 a.m. Mother Reina, behind the wheel, is a Mexican from Juarez; 12-year-old Anna wants to be a doctor when she grows up. To cross the border, she needs a binder full of papers and a student visa.

    About 370,000 vehicles cross the Southern border every day. The wait can be more than an hour, all of this, so Anna can go to an American school that’s better than any school in Juarez.

    ANNA OLIVARES CASTRO, Student: They teach you more things. They get more deep into the subjects they teach you. I have more job opportunities. They recognize your talent.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: She says this private school treats her with respect. This family and many Mexicans believe that president-elect Trump disrespects a country of 120 million.

    REINA OLIVARES CASTRO (translated): Not everyone is a criminal. They need us Mexicans, they need us Latinos, and we need them.

    ANNA OLIVARES CASTRO: He’s telling lies. And all those people think that we’re what Donald Trump says. But we’re not like that. We’re good people.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Two thousand three hundreds miles north, the Latino community in Columbus, Ohio, feels the same frustration and fear.

    JOHN RAMOS, LULAC, Columbus, Ohio: Here in the Midwest, in Ohio, now all Latinos seems to fit a profile.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: John Ramos heads the local office of the pro-Latino rights organization LULAC. He is most concerned by Trump’s promise to deport millions of undocumented workers.

    DONALD TRUMP: I am going to create a new special deportation task force focused on identifying and quickly removing the most dangerous criminal illegal immigrants in America who have evaded justice.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: That promise seems to have awakened previously hidden racism and nationalism.

    This undocumented Mexican immigrant, who was too scared to show her face, gave birth nine months ago in Ohio. That means the daughter’s a U.S. citizen, and the U.S. is obligated to provide her Social Security. But when the mother tried to get her baby a Social Security card, a local official threw her out of the office.

    WOMAN (through translator): He told me: “I can’t help you. Get out of here.” And his voice was upset. I told him: “It’s not Social Security for me. It’s for her.”

    And he told me: “You don’t have documents. How dare you come here?”

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Is that a federal official effectively going rogue?

    JOHN RAMOS: I would say so. It’s not in his position as a Social Security employee, federal employee, to request a person to show proof of their citizenship.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: The mother returned with a lawyer, and the government official gave the baby the Social Security card. But he improperly forced the mother to provide her address. Ramos says that’s never happened before.

    JOHN RAMOS: If you have to provide right now your residence, your point of contact, your phone number, you’re providing a track, a documentation to follow up on you.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: And that has sent a chill into Columbus’ Latino community.

    JOHN RAMOS: It’s all the hate. It’s all these comments that he would say about, like, “Oh, I would just punch him in the face.”

    DONALD TRUMP: Like to punch him in the face, I will tell you.

    JOHN RAMOS: So you would have people now thinking that they could probably come up to you and just act on their own and attack you.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: The day after Donald Trump was elected president, something happened to you at school. Tell me what happened.

    GIRL: This kid was making fun of me at school. And he was like: “Are you going to go pack your bags? Are you going to go back to Mexico? Are your parents getting ready?” and all that.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: The 9-year-old girl is an American, born in Ohio, and goes to a local public school. Her father is an undocumented Mexican who has been here for 11 years. They’re also scared and didn’t want us to identify them.

    He runs a taco truck. He pays taxes on relatively steady income. His customers are mostly fellow undocumented immigrants. They have always felt welcomed, he says, until Donald Trump began his campaign.

    MAN (through translator): Inside the Mexican communities, people go to work with fear. And the kids’ grades can go down because they’re worrying about what’s going to happen. The impact has been like a bomb. It’s affecting the children, the young people, the innocents.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: In response to those fears, Mexican Foreign Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu released a video featuring Mexico’s consul generals. They urge the five-plus million undocumented Mexicans in the U.S. to stay calm.

    CLAUDIA RUIZ MASSIEU, Foreign Secretary, Mexico: We are alert. That is why I have instructed my 50 consulates to increase their outreach to our community.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Massieu says she wants to work with the incoming administration, but she warns that if Trump follows through on all his promises, it’s not only Mexico that would be harmed.

    CLAUDIA RUIZ MASSIEU: If the environment were to become more hostile, I’m sure the United States would also feel a negative effect in its economy, in prices, inflation, in loss of jobs, and in loss of people that really contribute a lot to different communities throughout the United States.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: But even before Trump’s taken office, illegal immigration has risen, as has the panic among Mexicans on both sides of the border.

    For the “PBS NewsHour” I’m Nick Schifrin in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

    The post How will Trump affect intertwined lives of U.S. and Mexico? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President elect Donald Trump gestures to diners as he departs the lobby of the New York Times building after a meeting in New York, U.S., November 22, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson - RTSSUDW

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: One area of uncharted territory under a Trump presidency centers on potential conflicts of interests with his businesses.

    Yesterday, the president-elect told The New York Times, “The law is totally on my side.”

    But recent meetings with some current and potential foreign investors have raised new questions.

    We explore those now with Richard Painter. He’s a University of Minnesota law professor who was President George W. Bush’s top ethics attorney in the White House. And Kenneth Gross, he’s an ethics law expert who advised New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg when he went from businessman to public official.

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

    I’m going to start with you, Richard Painter.

    When Donald Trump says the president can’t have a conflict of interest, is he right about that?

    RICHARD PAINTER, University of Minnesota: Well, no. Of course the president can have a conflict of interest.

    I mean, think about where we would be today if President Roosevelt had owned the buildings in Germany during the war or the years leading up to the war and large loans from Deutsche Bank.

    You can have conflicts of interest that are very detrimental to the American people. You need a president who is going to stand up to foreign dictators, who is going to focus on the needs of the United States, and the need for peace in the world and also strength.

    And these conflicts of interest are real. Whether or not a specific federal criminal statute applies to the president, which it doesn’t, even though it applies to every other executive branch employee, but there are other rules that do apply to the president, including the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which says the president cannot receive payments from foreign governments.

    And that’s something the Trump Organization needs to deal with, because they have outstanding loans from the Bank of China, which is controlled by the government of China. And they have foreign diplomats checking into their hotels and renting the expensive suites.

    And that needs to be dealt with. So the law does apply to the president and he can have conflicts of interest, and he needs to get rid of them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Kenneth Gross, how do you see that? How clear are the rules, the laws that apply to the president?

    KENNETH GROSS, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Affiliates: Well, what’s clear is that the domestic conflict of interest law doesn’t apply to the president. That’s the letter of the law.

    What the ethics surrounding a president and what the conventions say he should be doing is a very different thing. The Emoluments Clause, as Richard has mentioned, which is this gift provision from the original Constitution, but is alive and well today, does apply, but the application of that is not so clear.

    You know, what sort of foreign corporations would come into play? Are they really owned by a foreign government and exactly is what an emolument? Is it just a payment or does it actually have to be a benefit…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A kind of benefit.

    KENNETH GROSS: … if it’s a commercial transaction? So, yes, there are issues of interpretation as well.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Richard Painter, what do you say Donald Trump needing to do in order to remove any question of a conflict of interest, given his significant and widespread holdings?

    RICHARD PAINTER: Well, I think the first step is to make sure that he complies with the Constitution, and he does need to address the emoluments issue.

    And I have suggested to his transition team that they ought to have an assignment over to the United States government, an assignment of any and all payments from foreign governments that are covered by the Emoluments Clause.

    That is an answer to the problem of a gift from a foreign government. You can give it to the United States government. He could do that today with a simple assignment of those payments, plus an audit that would take place every year to make sure we swept them all out.

    That’s the bare minimum. And I think the Electoral College ought to insist on that before voting, just as they would want to see a birth certificate if that were at issue or anything else. That’s important constitutionally.

    (CROSSTALK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Richard Painter, let me just stop you right there, because I want to make sure what everybody understands what this emoluments business is.

    So, what we’re talking about is anything that would benefit Donald Trump’s businesses, being sure that doesn’t benefit — doesn’t interfere in any way with the U.S. government.

    KENNETH GROSS: Yes. As well as I can define this…

    RICHARD PAINTER: Well, no, that’s too broad. That’s too broad.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: OK.

    KENNETH GROSS: OK. OK.

    So, what we have here is a provision in the Constitution that says you cannot receive a present, meaning a gift. Then there is this question of emolument. It clearly applies to someone who works in the National Institute of Health that wants to work for a foreign government, because he’s providing a service.

    And if he gets a payment for that, that raises questions under emoluments and has to be dealt with by the Department of Justice. If there’s a commercial transaction, a foreign government is paying rent into a place that they’re renting that is owned by Mr. Trump, the president of the United States, that — I have not seen the emolument provision applied in quite that situation. It’s not a service. It’s a commercial transaction.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, without getting too much in the weeds here in the few minutes that we have, Richard Painter, how do you see — again, what are you saying that Mr. Trump needs to do?

    RICHARD PAINTER: Well, if those are above-market rents or they’re below-market interest rate loans from the Bank of China, I think those are presents, just like any other present.

    But the point is that he could right now assign over to the United States government anything covered under the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, and we can sort out later what it is, pursuant under audit. And that needs to be done before the Electoral College vote.

    The broad issue can be addressed by divesting himself of all of his assets through an initial public offering or some other way to convert the assets to cash. Many American families do that when they want to move on from their business. And, here, there’s a very good reason to move on. He’s going to become the president of the United States.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Ken Gross, he has talked about putting his assets in what is called a blind trust that his children would run. Would that take care of what we’re talking about?

    KENNETH GROSS: It really doesn’t.

    It’s not a blind trust, first of all. He knows what he put in it. In order for it to be a true blind trust, he would have to liquidate his assets first.

    That is not realistic in any kind of short period of time. I don’t know about going public with everything. That’s not so easy either. So, I understand that most his assets are illiquid, and they don’t all create conflicts of interests.

    I think — I agree that you need to look internationally first. But having a trust with your children in charge doesn’t meet the requirements of blind trust, if he were required to meet those requirements, which he’s not.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Richard Painter, just quickly, how much of this is complicated by the fact that we don’t know publicly what Donald Trump’s business interests are? He has not released his tax returns. He has made a financial statement, but a lot of this is not public information, is it?

    RICHARD PAINTER: No, it’s not.

    And I urged him to release the tax returns during the campaign, but he decided not to do that, even though every other candidate has and every president. But, going forward, I think the answer here is for him to sell these business interests, take the company public or come up with some other answer.

    It will leave him with a few billion dollars to give some to his kids, and put the rest in a blind trust, and be a good president. And he made this decision that he wants to be a president, rather than a businessman. And now that he’s made that decision and he won, it’s time to do it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Ken Gross, just quickly, is that what he has to do, sell it all off and…

    KENNETH GROSS: I’m not going that far, because it’s not realistic.

    I think, internationally, though, that’s where the primary focus should be.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Kenneth Gross, Richard Painter, we thank you both.

    RICHARD PAINTER: Thanks.

    The post Why Trump’s past business interests could create conflicts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (C) and Vice President-elect Mike Pence stand with Betsy DeVos (L) before their meeting at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTSSFEP

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: A deeper look now into one of president-elect Trump’s key Cabinet picks today, and again to John Yang.

    JOHN YANG: One of those choices that immediately drew a lot of attention was his pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos. It sends a number of signals about what Mr. Trump intends to do with his education policy, but it also raises some questions.

    Alyson Klein of Education Week joins me now to talk about this.

    Alyson, thanks for coming.

    Betsy DeVos, not necessarily well-known nationwide. Who is she and what does she say or what does her — the pick say about a Trump administration on education?

    ALYSON KLEIN, Education Week: So, on the campaign trail, Trump didn’t talk much about cases — about policy, but, when he did, he talked about school choice.

    And Betsy DeVos is a longtime school choice advocate. So we can expect that this administration is going to make good on its promise to make school choice a huge priority.

    JOHN YANG: What can the federal government do on school choice?

    ALYSON KLEIN: So, that’s a great question.

    On the campaign trail, Donald Trump proposed taking $20 billion in federal funding, which is almost a third of the U.S. Department of Education’s budget, and using that for a school choice program.

    It’s unclear if a proposal like that could actually pass Congress. Senator Lamar Alexander, who will actually preside over Betsy DeVos’ confirmation hearing, put forth a similar proposal last year and it just didn’t get the votes to clear procedural hurdles. So it’s unclear if they will be able to do their grand vision on school choice.

    But certainly having somebody like Betsy DeVos talking about school choice from the bully pulpit of the Department of Education could really give some lift to the issue in states and districts.

    JOHN YANG: Another thing that Mr. Trump spoke a lot about on the campaign trail was Common Core. He is against it. He doesn’t like it. What do we know about Betsy DeVos’ position on Common Core?

    ALYSON KLEIN: Well, she’s clarified her position on Common Core today, saying that she thinks it’s a federal boondoggle.

    She’s also said that she’s in favor of accountability and local control. Some school choice advocates had actually been worried that DeVos was a Common Core supporter because she’s on the board of Governor Jeb Bush’s organization, and obviously Governor Bush is quite a supporter of Common Core.

    But she made it clear today that she stands with Mr. Trump in opposing the standards.

    JOHN YANG: How does she compare, her background compare? She was a philanthropist. She was a chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. How does her background and her experience compare with previous education secretaries?

    ALYSON KLEIN: It’s unusual background.

    We have never that I can think of really had an advocate at the helm of the department. Our last couple education secretaries, Secretary John King, who is in the post now, Arne Duncan, Obama’s first education secretary, had both worked in school districts, had been — John King was the state chief in New York. Arne Duncan was a school superintendent in Chicago.

    Other education secretaries, like Lamar Alexander, actually, have been governors. So it’s unusual to have somebody who has primarily been an advocate.

    JOHN YANG: She’s never worked in public education. She’s never run a big bureaucracy or a big organization. Is that what you’re saying?

    ALYSON KLEIN: Yes, that’s correct.

    JOHN YANG: What’s been the reaction to her being named as his nominee?

    ALYSON KLEIN: Depends on who you ask.

    School choice advocates are really excited to have one of their own, one of their champions headed to the Department of Education. Teachers unions are really unhappy with the pick. They picked up on what you picked up on, that she doesn’t have a background in a school district.

    And they are also opposed to this idea of vouchers, which they say siphon off money for public schools.

    JOHN YANG: And that’s been an issue for some time now in public education.

    ALYSON KLEIN: Yes, absolutely.

    The idea of creating a federal school choice program has been something that Republicans have wanted to do for a really long time. The closest they have come is a voucher program for the District of Columbia. But with DeVos in the Education Department, they may really be able to that vision further.

    JOHN YANG: Any sense will she have any trouble getting confirmed, do you think?

    ALYSON KLEIN: I would expect not.

    Senator Alexander put out a very supportive statement on her confirmation today. She’s certainly donated to a lot of Republicans. And so they may really look upon her appointment favorably.

    JOHN YANG: Alyson Klein helping us understand who Betsy DeVos is, thanks so much for coming in.

    ALYSON KLEIN: Thanks for having me.

    The post With DeVos pick, school choice is likely Trump education priority appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill Wednesday that bans most abortions after 20 weeks. Photo by Grace Beahm/Pool via Reuters

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: On this day before Thanksgiving, new Cabinet nominees from president-elect Trump that send a message of diversity. He announced his choices today for United Nations ambassador and secretary of education.

    John Yang begins our coverage.

    JOHN YANG: During the primaries, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was a frequent critic of candidate Trump, instead backing Marco Rubio. Her State of the Union response was seen as an indictment of Mr. Trump.

    GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R-S.C.): During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.

    JOHN YANG: But that was then. Now president-elect Trump has picked her to be his ambassador to the United Nations, a Cabinet-level post.

    The daughter of Indian immigrants is in her second term as governor, the first female and first minority to hold the office. She drew praise last year for her response after an avowed white supremacist killed nine parishioners in a black Charleston church, and for leading the drive to remove the Confederate Flag from the statehouse, where it had flown for a half-century.

    Haley’s exposure to world affairs is limited, but she’s attracted foreign companies like Volvo to South Carolina. Announcing the pick, the president-elect called her “a proven deal-maker. We look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”

    That’s a far cry from last March, when candidate Trump tweeted: “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley.”

    Today, Haley said in a statement: “When the president believes you have a major contribution to make, that is a calling that is important to heed.”

    Mr. Trump today also tapped Michigan philanthropist Betsy DeVos to be his nominee for education secretary. She’s never worked in public education. A big Republican donor and one-time chairman of the Michigan party, she is a champion for charter schools and school vouchers. She and her husband formed a PAC to support pro-voucher candidates nationwide.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: Let us give thanks for all that we have.

    JOHN YANG: Late today, the president-elect released a Thanksgiving message appealing for unity after a divisive campaign.

    DONALD TRUMP: This historic political campaign is now over. But now begins a great national campaign to rebuild our country and to restore the full promise of America for all of our people.

    JOHN YANG: Mr. Trump and his family are spending the holiday at his Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

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

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There were conflicting reports today about whether Dr. Ben Carson had agreed to become secretary of housing and urban development, but a Carson spokesman said late this afternoon: “Nothing has been offered, and no decision has been made.”

    In the day’s other news: Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote in this year’s election has passed the two million mark. As of today, Clinton has 64.2 million votes in the nationwide tally. President-elect Trump trails with 62.2 million, despite winning the Electoral College. The updated totals are due largely to absentee and provisional ballots that are still being counted in California.

    That ongoing count in California has approved a ballot measure speeding up death penalty appeals. State officials declared Tuesday that Proposition 66 won 51 percent of the vote. It’s meant to cut down on the number of years that death row inmates wait and ensure that they are actually executed.

    France accused Syria and Russia today of exploiting the U.S. political transition on launching all-out attacks on Syrian rebels. French officials pointed to heavy bombing of Eastern Aleppo, with thousands there and elsewhere cut off from food and medicine, and the French foreign minister called for an emergency meeting.

    JEAN-MARC AYRAULT, Foreign Minister, France (through translator): France is taking an initiative to confront the strategy of total war by the regime and its allies who are taking advantage of the uncertainty in the United States to gather very quickly the group of friends of Syria in the next few days in Paris.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.N. special envoy for Syria joined in the concern. Staffan de Mistura warned that Syria’s military could launch a new offensive in Aleppo before president-elect Trump takes office.

    New clashes between Indian and Pakistani forces erupted today in disputed Kashmir. Tensions have been rising in the region since militants killed 17 soldiers at an Indian army base there in September. Today, Indian units opened fire along the dividing line, hitting a passenger bus and killing 10 civilians. The Pakistanis said they fired back and killed seven Indian soldiers.

    In Britain, a jury convicted a white supremacist of murdering Labor Party lawmaker Jo Cox. She was shot and stabbed to death a week before Britain voted to leave the European Union in June. Prosecutors said Thomas Mair’s home was full of Nazi literature.

    Back in this country, the long Thanksgiving travel weekend has begun, and it’s expected to be the busiest in nearly a decade. Airports, railways and roads filled today. AAA predicted nearly 49 million people will venture at least 50 miles from homes, due in part to record-low gas prices. But police urged patience.

    LANCE CPL. DAVID JONES, South Carolina Highway Patrol: There’s just so many motorists that are going to be traveling. And oftentimes we see where operators get nervous or they get upset, or road rage kicks in because they’re not getting to their destination quick enough. Don’t be that driver.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Heavy rain and snow caused delays in some places today, but for the most part, the weather wasn’t an issue.

    The rate of abortions in the U.S. has fallen to its lowest point in decades. The Centers for Disease Control reports the rate in 2013 was down 50 percent from 1980. The CDC cites the sharp decline in teen pregnancies and expanded contraception coverage as likely factors.

    There’s word that social media giant Facebook has built software to censor material seen by users in China. The New York Times reports that it’s part of an effort to gain reentry to the country after a seven-year ban. A Facebook spokesman told The Times that there have no specific decisions, but she said — quote — “We have long said that we are interested in China.”

    On Wall Street, two new records on a day of light trading. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 59 points to close at 19083, a new high. The Nasdaq fell five points, and the S&P 500 rose a point, also reaching a new record.

    And archaeologists think they have solved a longtime mystery, the exact spot in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where the Pilgrims first lived after they arrived from England in 1620. Scientists from the University of Massachusetts-Boston found calf’s bones, musket balls and ceramics at a spot known as Burial Hill. The artifacts were discovered during a dig this past summer.

    The post News Wrap: Trump picks Gov. Nikki Haley for U.N. ambassador appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A ballot is placed into a locked ballot box by a poll worker as people line-up to vote early at the San Diego County Elections Office in San Diego, California, U.S., November 7, 2016.       REUTERS/Mike Blake  - RTX2SDR0

    The Clinton campaign on Wednesday did not respond to a request for comment as to whether it would petition for a recount before the three states’ fast-approaching deadlines to ask for one. Photo by Mike Blake/ Reuters

    NEW YORK — A group of election lawyers and data experts has asked Hillary Clinton’s campaign to call for a recount of the vote totals in three battleground states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — to ensure that a cyberattack was not committed to manipulate the totals.

    There is no evidence that the results were hacked or that electronic voting machines were compromised. The Clinton campaign on Wednesday did not respond to a request for comment as to whether it would petition for a recount before the three states’ fast-approaching deadlines to ask for one.

    President-elect Donald Trump won Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by razor-thin margins and has a small lead in Michigan. All three states had been reliably Democratic in recent presidential elections.

    The group, led by voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, contacted the Clinton campaign this week. That call, which was first reported by New York Magazine, raised the possibility that Clinton may have received fewer votes than expected in some counties that rely on electronic voting machines.

    But Halderman, in an article posted on Medium on Wednesday, stressed that the group has no evidence of a cyberattack or voting irregularities. He urged that a recount be ordered just to eliminate the possibility.

    “The only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result is to closely examine the available physical evidence — paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania,” Halderman wrote.

    Recounts, which are often costly and time-intensive efforts, would likely only be initiated if the Clinton camp pushed for one, though Wisconsin independently announced that it would conduct an audit of its vote. A call for a recount, particularly coming on the heels of a fiercely contested and sharply partisan election, would likely be cheered by Democrats but denounced by Republicans eager to focus on governing.

    A request to the Trump transition team for comment was not immediately returned.

    Trump’s campaign had long believed that his message of economic populism would resonate in the Rust Belt. He frequently campaigned in Pennsylvania and made a late push in both Wisconsin and Michigan, successfully turning out white working-class voters whom pollsters may have missed.

    Many pre-election polls showed Clinton with slight leads. While advocating for the recounts, Halderman writes that “the most likely explanation” for Trump’s surprise win “is that the polls were systematically wrong.”

    The deadlines for petitioning for a recount in all three states are in the coming days, with Wisconsin’s on Friday. Green Party candidate Jill Stein announced a fundraising effort Wednesday to pay for such recounts.

    The focal point of any possible electoral cyberattack presumably would have been electronic voting machines that, whether or not they are connected to the internet, could be infected with malware that could change vote totals. But many of those machines produce a paper record of the vote that could be checked to see if the vote tabulations are accurate.

    Pennsylvania is considered one of the states most susceptible to hacking because 96 percent of its voting machines have no paper trail. Wisconsin is far less vulnerable because it uses electronic machines with voter-verifiable paper trails in most counties. Michigan is considered the safest of the three because it uses paper ballots.

    Officials in the three states confirmed that no recounts have been ordered. A spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department says it is not tallying the number of voting complaints to determine whether federal action is warranted.

    Many election experts have called for routine post-election audits designed to boost public confidence in vote outcomes, by guarding against both tampering and natural vote-counting mistakes. These could involve spot-checks of the voting records and ballots, typically in randomly selected precincts, to make sure that votes were accurately recorded.

    In many states, audits involve hand-counting the votes on paper ballots and comparing the results to the totals stored in the state’s electronic voting system. Such audits do sometimes turn up mistakes that reverse an election. That happened in Florida’s Palm Beach County in 2012, when a post-election audit determined that the “winners” in two city council races were actually losers.

    Routine audits also make it possible to confirm the accuracy of elections without putting the onus on losing candidates to call for a recount. In states without regular audits, a candidate who questions the results gets “painted as a sore loser,” Pamela Smith, president of the nonprofit Verified Voting, said in an interview earlier this year. “If you do a regular audit, you often don’t need a recount. It either shows the count was right or you find something.”

    Any attempted hack to swing the results in three states would have been a massive and unprecedented undertaking. But electoral security was an issue that loomed large in many Americans’ minds this year as the Democratic National Committee and several Clinton staffers had their emails breached and later released. U.S. security officials believe that hack of email was orchestrated by Russian hackers.

    The post Clinton pushed to seek vote recount in 3 states appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A volunteer breaks apart garlic cloves to use for growing more plants. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    A volunteer breaks apart garlic cloves to use for growing more plants. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    WASHINGTON – Lelia Parker grew up on a farm in rural Virginia and moved to the U.S. capital 30 years ago, seeking a more urban environment. But she still gets the gardening itch.

    Down the street from her Southeast D.C. home is a community garden, where tidy beds of succulent zucchini, peppers and squash grow.

    The garden is operated by the nonprofit group DC UrbanGreens. Not long ago, Parker discovered the site and began telling her neighbors about it and about how to cook with fresh vegetables instead of canned. Now she’s a board member and the group’s outreach coordinator.

    Julie Kirkwood, a construction project manager, and Vincent Forte, a lawyer, started DC UrbanGreens three years ago, with a goal to help provide low-cost fresh produce to people living in an area without easy access to grocery stores.

    “A place where you take care of the outdoors, I think the air will smell better. People will feel better.”

    They studied successful urban gardens in other states and learned about grant writing to fund theirs. They utilized neighborhood ambassadors like Parker and added two more sites. Now, they have three mini-farms in parts of southeastern D.C. labeled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as food deserts — places usually in low-income areas that lack fresh fruits and vegetables.

    They gradually accumulated seven paid staff members, but surprisingly never had to advertise the new posts. People just came to them, from a variety of backgrounds and skill sets. They were drawn to the gardens and “never left,” as the co-founders recently put it.

    “There’s something to the fact that this staff was built this way. They’re wonderful individually and wonderful together,” said Kirkwood.

    Jacquana McIntyre started as a volunteer and now manages one of DC UrbanGreen’s farms at Fort Stanton in southeast Washington, D.C. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    Jacquana McIntyre started as a volunteer and now manages one of DC UrbanGreen’s farms at Fort Stanton in Southeast Washington, D.C. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    Jacquana McIntyre started as a volunteer and later put down roots with the group.

    “I always wanted to work outside,” she said. The former children’s day care worker noted that kids enjoy digging in the earth and learning how plants grow. But if they’re scolded for getting dirty, they tend to lose that curiosity.

    Now, McIntyre manages the newest DC UrbanGreens farm at Fort Stanton and sees it as an opportunity to revive that wonder. Children can pick out a flower by color and plant it, and in the process learn about the purpose of dirt, she said.

    “It’s not really all that hard to learn how to plant or be a gardener. It just takes some patience,” she said. A garden can grow anywhere once you clear out the brush and debris. “A place where you take care of the outdoors, I think the air will smell better. People will feel better.”

    The gardens produce peppers, two kinds of eggplant, carrots, spinach, Swiss chard, kale and a variety of herbs. Several days a week, the group sells the produce at farm markets and delivers to residents in zip code 20019, a designated food desert. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    The gardens produce peppers, two kinds of eggplant, carrots, spinach, Swiss chard, kale and a variety of herbs. Several days a week, the group sells the produce at farm markets and delivers to residents in zip code 20019, a designated food desert. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    DC UrbanGreens sets up farmer’s markets at the Fort Dupont Ice Rink, in addition to other sites around the city including the Unity Health Clinic and the Riverside Healthy Living Center. WIC and SNAP food assistance grants are accepted as payment.

    The garden is helping residents discover new produce. Parker said her neighbors knew about collard greens, turnip greens, sweet potatoes and white potatoes. But Swiss chard was a mystery, as were ways to cook it.

    “A lot of my people, the only way they know how to cook their vegetables is with turkey necks or ham hocks and boil them until all the nutrition is gone,” she said. Her mantra: Keep it crispy so the nutrition is still there.

    Anecdotally, neighborhood farms provide more fresh produce and improve people’s eating habits. But the impact of community gardens on food deserts hasn’t been terribly well researched, said Shelly Ver Ploeg, an economist with USDA’s Economic Research Service.

    Avery Snipes ended up at DC UrbanGreens through a fellowship program that normally places its participants in a congressional office. Here, she plants herbs in a “spiral” garden that tiers plants according to their water needs. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    Avery Snipes ended up at DC UrbanGreens through a fellowship program that normally places its participants in a congressional office. Here, she plants herbs in a “spiral” garden that tiers plants according to their water needs. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    People, including SNAP participants, tend to frequent those stores because “they have the major foods needed and tend to offer the lowest prices,” she said. “We don’t have good measures across the nation of where community gardens are, who’s using them and how much they’re getting them.”

    But even data about big stores doesn’t provide easy answers, she said. “Even if a store is nearby, [residents] might not go there. They’re going there for price, quality, if it’s on the way to work, etc. Proximity to a store is not everything.”

    Parker, who lives near the ice rink, agreed that putting a large grocery store in one part of Southeast wouldn’t be the answer anyway. “There are a lot of elderly people here with disabilities,” who can’t get around easily. So it still wouldn’t be convenient for them to get there, she said.

    Community farms, meanwhile, might have a big impact on nearby residents’ lives, but it might be more of a seasonal option, said Ver Ploeg.

    The hooped gardens are shielded in plastic to extend the growing season. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    The hooped gardens are shielded in plastic to extend the growing season. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    DC UrbanGreens tries to extend their growing season by building hoops with plastic sheeting around the garden beds. That raises the temperature inside by about 10 degrees and allows greens such as spinach to grow further into fall.

    At the farm market, Parker said she’d like to start providing samples of cooked vegetables, so people can learn how to prepare them in a healthier way. You can try one of her recipes:

    •••
    Lelia’s Sauted Kale
    – 2 lb. kale
    – ½ large onion or 1 small onion
    – 1 teaspoon seasoned salt or Glory Foods greens seasoning
    – ¼ cup olive oil
    Chop kale into small pieces.
    Chop onion.
    Pour oil into skillet, add onions.
    Add kale and seasoning.
    Toss until tender or to your taste. For a crispier version, cook for about 5 or 6 minutes.

    The post D.C. urban gardens bring low-cost, fresh produce to city’s food deserts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The International Space Station is home to a wide range of scientific research endeavors, many of which scientists are thankful for this Thanksgiving. Photo by NASA.

    The International Space Station is home to a wide range of scientific research endeavors, many of which scientists are thankful for this Thanksgiving. Photo by NASA.

    You know what goes great with cornbread and turkey? Science. This year, the NewsHour reached out to a handful of scientists to find out what they’re thankful for — and here’s what they said. We invite you to chew on these with your Thanksgiving dinner. (And if the discussion does veer toward the White House and get heated, we also offer you our guide to holiday civility.)

    Advancing climate science from space

    On the International Space Station, I’ve been involved in a plethora of scientific research across a wide range of fields and have even been the primary subject of science. I am thankful for the discoveries we continue to pursue in all of the sciences, but I am particularly awed by what we are learning about our climate.

    After living some 230 miles above our planet for a total of 520 days over the span of my 17-year spaceflight career, I’ve witnessed significant changes back on Earth. I have seen the fragility of our atmosphere, watched the burning of the rainforests and photographed the massive amounts of pollution we dump into our atmosphere on a daily basis.

    I am thankful for the scientists who are studying this evidence that our climate is undergoing change due to our actions, so we can solve the problem and protect our key life support system that is our planet for the benefit of all.

    –Scott Kelly is a retired NASA astronaut who holds the American record for the longest consecutive period of time spent in space, 340 days.

    Mapping our ocean life

    The Census of Marine Life is one of the most notable in my mind: a 10-year study that united more than 2,000 scientists from 80-plus nations worldwide to document the diversity, abundance and distribution of life in the ocean – from its smallest inhabitants, the microbes, to the largest marine mammals.

    I am grateful for this Herculean collaborative research effort that generated a critical inventory and baseline of life in the ocean today — a baseline by which future environmental changes can be compared and can serve as a guide for management and conservation of marine resources. The census illuminated just how little we know about the ocean, discovering thousands of new species, and uncovering many new habitats and interactions. While the Census of Marine Life formally ended in 2010, its importance and impact will extend long into the future.

    –Victoria Orphan is a geobiologist and professor at California Institute of Technology. She is also a 2016 MacArthur Fellow.

    A giant green turtle rests on a coral reef at a diving site near the island of Sipadan in Celebes Sea east of Borneo. Ocean research is field that scientists are grateful for this Thanksgiving. Photo by REUTERS/Peter Andrews.

    A giant green turtle rests on a coral reef at a diving site near the island of Sipadan in Celebes Sea east of Borneo. Ocean research is field that scientists are grateful for this Thanksgiving. Photo by REUTERS/Peter Andrews.

    Diversity of thought

    It may seem cliche, but I’m thankful for the diversity of thought that this country was founded on. It’s what got us to the moon, and it’s what will get us to Mars.

    –Sunita Williams is a NASA astronaut who holds records for the most and longest spacewalks ever completed by a woman.

    Sharing data

    There is a website called Arxiv.org that allows scientists in many disciplines to post preprints of their work. I’m thankful for this site for two reasons: the obvious reason is the high-quality scientific discussion that it enables with people from all over the globe. Arxiv is indispensable to find the latest and greatest results in many scientific areas.

    I’m also thankful for a more human reason: it warms my heart that scientists share their knowledge freely to better society. By giving away this knowledge freely (and as soon as possible), scientists may miss out on some of the personal benefit of their own science: new companies that could be started, new products that might be created, and it may even give their scientific competitors the means to scoop them. I guess I’m just thankful that there are so many like-minded people out there, who want more than anything to make the world a better place. I’m also just plain thankful I get to pursue such a fulfilling passion.

    –Christopher Ré is a computer scientist and assistant professor at Stanford University. He is also a 2015 MacArthur Fellow.

    Detecting gravitational waves

    This year, I’m grateful for the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) detection of gravitational waves from merging black holes, a magnificent achievement that is easily worthy of the Nobel Prize in physics. This discovery provides exceptionally strong evidence for the existence of black holes — regions of space where gravity is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape.

    Even more importantly, it confirms a major prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity: the existence of gravitational waves, which are ripples in the fabric of space-time that travel at the speed of light. This observation opens a whole new window for exploring the universe.

    Already, at least two interesting and somewhat unexpected systems were discovered — binary, orbiting black holes, each of which has a mass of 20 to 30 times the mass of the sun. Who knows what other fascinating objects will be found in the future?

    –Alexei Filippenko is an astrophysicist and professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley

    Developmental biology

    We reflect and give thanks for the health of our team members and our families and the striking developmental biology of our babies, as I’m reminded of daily by my granddaughter next door. Moreover, thanks for the sharing attitude of our colleagues in general, and in particular, openhumans.org, and the CRISPR community, as exemplified by 133 labs (and growing) freely sharing through Addgene.org and Jennifer Doudna giving her entire Gairdner Award to Pged.org.

    –George Church is a genetic engineer and professor at Harvard Medical School.

    3D-printed model of CAS9, a DNA-cutting enzyme that features in the CRISPR gene editing system. Photo by NIH Image Gallery

    3D-printed model of CAS9, a DNA-cutting enzyme that features in the CRISPR gene editing system. Photo by NIH Image Gallery

    Ancient DNA research

    If I had to pick a domain-specific advance I’m thankful for, it’s ancient DNA research. The ability to sequence DNA from ancient archaeological samples of teeth and bones has revolutionized my field of population genetics. We can now see the genetic footprints of past population movements with much finer detail and there has been great progress in settling decades-old debates about the human past.

    At three different moments this year, I was fortunate to attend scientific conferences where the presentations simply blew me away. It’s absolutely inspiring to see how scientists so regularly use clear thinking, clever uses of new technologies, and dogged persistence to gain new insights into how our universe operates. So rather than any specific advance, I’m simply thankful for the hard work and brilliance I see in other scientists, and for this powerful, complicated tool we use to understand nature.

    –John Novembre is a computational biologist at the University of Chicago. He is also a 2015 MacArthur Fellow.

    Basic science and the scientific method

    I am grateful for the outstanding public education I received, which has continued to sustain me throughout my career. I grew up in California back when we were ranked near the top of the U.S. in per capita expenditure on public education, and I attended UCLA for college when the state paid close to 80 percent of the university budget.

    I had the benefit of great and inspiring teachers who nurtured my passion for basic science and showed by example the power of the scientific method to reveal the fundamental truths of the natural world. We must continue to invest in public education as the one consistent engine of social mobility that offers those who are willing an opportunity to make a better life for themselves and for the nation and world.

    –Randy Schekman is a cellular biologist and professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

    Mentoring young scientists

    This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the chance to teach and mentor young scientists who will develop into our next thought leaders. Academic research is performed by undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers, who make incredible discoveries while mastering their chosen fields. It is through their passion, hard work, and tenacity that we advance our collective knowledge and harness it to improve the human experience.

    –William Dichtel is a chemistry professor at Northwestern University. He is also a 2015 MacArthur Fellow.

    The post What scientists are thankful for this Thanksgiving appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Destroyed vehicles are seen at the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a gas station in the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, Iraq on November 24.  Photo by Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters

    Destroyed vehicles are seen at the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a gas station in the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, Iraq on November 24. Photo by Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters

    The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a truck bomb South of Baghdad that has killed at least 56 people, including 20 Iranian pilgrims and wounded another 25 people, according to Iraqi officials, the Associated Press reports.

    Thursday’s attack occurred at a gas station near the city of Hilla.

    A bus carrying Iranians on their way home from a major Shiite religious observance in the holy city of Karbala appeared to have been the target, according to the AP. The officials, AP reported, spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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    A new movement encourages people to ditch the mall and head outside on Black Friday. Photo by Marla Rutherford and Getty Images

    A growing movement encourages people to ditch their shopping plans and head outside on Black Friday. Photo by Marla Rutherford and Getty Images

    Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go…and then to the mall?

    I have never really understood the concept of Black Friday, and I can’t really think of anything that goes more against the grain of the holiday spirit then getting in line on Thanksgiving evening to be in position at the stroke of midnight as doors are flung open and people stampede in to take advantage of deep discounts on the latest electronic and other gadgets.

    Who is responsible? The companies who must rely on their employees to come in on Thanksgiving Eve so they can ensure profits? (Some stores, including Macy’s, Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, Walmart and Target continue to be open on Thanksgiving Day.) Or the willingness of consumers to be tempted by the deep-discount incentives?

    Potential good news? 74 million people shopped on Black Friday in 2015, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation; that’s a 15 percent drop from 87 million in 2014, and 92 million in 2013.

    If Thanksgiving is supposed to be about giving thanks, for family, for friendship, for the intangible riches of this life, it seems to me to run completely counter to running out and buying the latest and greatest materialistic product.

    To borrow a line from A Charlie Brown Christmas, “Oh, No. My own dog gone commercial, I can’t stand it!”

    Meanwhile, some businesses are going in the opposite direction. While Seattle Co-op Retailer REI has traditionally closed its stores on Thanksgiving Day, this is the second year that they will be closed on Black Friday, giving all 12,000 employees the day off to “head outside.” Through the social media hashtag #optoutside, the movement has attracted 275 companies as partners, including Subaru, Google and Upworthy, and the company hopes to add to the 1.4 million people last year who joined to explore the outdoors. (Not all partners are actually closing their doors.) This year’s catchphrase: “Will you go OUT with me?”

    So this year, on Black Friday, take your dog for a walk, go on a hike, explore a beach, get out on the water, play a board game, spend time with those who matter.

    Just don’t go to the mall.

    Oh, also remember to put down your phone. The people around you will thank you.

    The post Column: On Black Friday, ditch the mall and get outside appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Aretha Franklin is respected for her indelible performances.

    The Queen of Soul belted “My Country Tis of Thee” — in this hat! — at President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. As a sartorial punctuation, she dropped her fur coat while she sang “(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman” at a Carole King tribute in 2015. The president was moved to tears.

    And before today’s Thanksgiving game between the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings, the 74-year-old diva sang her rendition of the national anthem for a whopping four minutes and change. No one dared interrupted her. It was broadcast in full.

    Wearing a Lions cap, the Detroit native was unhurried, while she sang at the piano in her fur coat. CBS clocked Franklin’s national anthem at four minutes and 35 seconds.

    Yahoo Sports pointed out that Franklin’s anthem is more than double the average time — around 1 minute and 57 seconds — that was spent singing it at the past 10 Super Bowls.

    Franklin sang longer than Natalie Cole and Alicia Keys in the 1994 and 2013 Super Bowls. Both record-setters didn’t last longer than three minutes.

    Many on Twitter were thankful for Franklin’s extended take on the Francis Scott Key-penned song.

    Gwen Ifill spoke with Franklin last year about her remarkable six-decade career, and Franklin told Gwen that she wasn’t ever going to retire.

    Aretha Franklin was honored recently by the National Portrait Gallery with a “Portrait of a Nation” prize, given out to some of the people who appear in its collection. Gwen Ifill spoke with the Queen of Soul about her career, her voice and her legacy. Video by PBS NewsHour

    “That wouldn’t be good, for one, just to go somewhere and sit down and do nothing,” she said. “Please. No, that’s not moi.”

    The post WATCH: Aretha Franklin brings Twitter to its knees with longest national anthem ever appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Hurricane Otto is seen approaching the coast of Central America in this NOAA GOES satellite image taken at 9:15 a.m. ET onNovember 24. Photo by  NOAA/Handout via Reuters

    Hurricane Otto is seen approaching the coast of Central America in this NOAA GOES satellite image taken at 9:15 a.m. ET onNovember 24. Photo by NOAA/Handout via Reuters

    Hurricane Otto gained speed and intensity today as it slammed into Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast as a Category 2 storm. It made landfall at 1 p.m. ET just north of the Costa Rican border, the Associated Press reported.

    The unusually strong, late-season hurricane packed winds up to 110 miles per hour and brought with it torrential rains, causing life-threatening floods and mudslides, according to the AP.

    Officials evacuated more than 10,000 people, including many who crowded onto buses bound for shelters.

    Otto is expected to weaken to a tropical storm by tonight.

    The post Hurricane Otto makes landfall on Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    cohen

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    STEVE COHEN: You meet people in the deli and it’s like you’re their best friend. I started here in 1981, right before Passover.

    My favorite part of the job is meeting people, talking to people. I like to schmooze. I have people that came in as customers and now they are friends, I go to their weddings, I go to their Bat Mitzvahs, unfortunately I go to their deaths

    You know it’s a good business from a social standpoint. As a business, it’s a little difficult the kosher deli business the food cost is quite large. Nobody has to throw a benefit for us, but it is a fact, we have vats and vats of beef. It’s briskets, we have roast beefs so we have pastramis, so they have to be steamed properly, they have to be kept properly. So it’s just a little more difficult to run and to make money to tell you the truth.

    There’s a lot of exclusive restaurants in New York that shall remain nameless, and you go to those restaurants and you say look what I have, look what I can do. You come to a deli and you say, look what we have, look what we can do. We’re all part of the group and we’re all friends, and they talk and it’s the great equalizer.

    You come to New York and one of the reasons is pastrami or deli. We have matzoh ball soup, we have fresh stock pot going. Our pastrami is mouth watering, just sliced thin. It’s a mechaye, which is a gift.

    We have something called pacha, which is pickled calves feet and garlic. We have kasha varnishes and egg barley which is a pasta dish, it’s like a k ration, but it tastes good. We have derma, which is stuffed derma kishke, when I see people eating kishke here, I say, “When’s the last time you ate a kishke?” and they’ll say, “Thirty, forty years ago.”

    And they’re right, after a meal like this, you’re really quite full, but you really feel satisfied. You felt like you had something and you connected with the past somewhat. I have children and grandchildren I really don’t envy them getting up and growing up in this day and age. It’s very difficult. Now you just feel it’s nice to just relax and schmooze and talk to people, and get their thoughts. Not so much political, but otherwise.

    My name is Steve Cohen and this is my Brief but Spectacular take on schmoozing at the deli.

    The post A good way to make friends? Work at a deli appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Gail Dufault, the Transitional Healthcare Coordinator at the Barnstable County House of Corrections, prepares a dose of Vivitrol at the prison in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts September 2, 2014.  Barnstable is believed to be the first jail in the country to launch an intensive voluntary recovery program for opiate-addicted inmates with the use of Vivitrol, an injectable non-narcotic drug that blocks receptors in the brain and bars addicts from getting high off heroin and other opioids for about 25 days, at a cost of about $1,000 a shot. Picture taken  September 2, 2014.  To match Feature USA-HEROIN/PRISONS/    REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY CRIME LAW DRUGS HEALTH) - RTR44U8Y

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  According to the surgeon general’s report more than 27 million Americans have problems with prescription drugs, illegal drugs or alcohol.  But just a fraction of those people, only 10 percent, get meaningful help.  The report cites missed opportunities for prevention and treatment and it says our substance abuse costs the country a staggering 440 billion a year.  I’m joined by the US surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy. Doctor, thank you very much for being here.
    VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. Surgeon General: Really glad to be with you.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This is a pretty sobering report.  Millions of people suffering, very, very few people are getting help.  When you compiled all this data, were you surprised by what you had found?
    VIVEK MURTHY: Well, I had seen the problem up close as a doctor practicing medicine.  When I came into medicine, I expected as an internal medicine doctor to primarily see people with diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and I was shocked by the number of patients who came under my care who actually had substance abuse.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You were seeing this in private practice before being tapped to be in the federal government?
    VIVEK MURTHY: Yes, I have always seen this — we even — starting in medical school itself and then on throughout my medical career, the experience was not unique to me but many of my clinician colleagues were seeing the same thing and they were really surprised.
    When I became surgeon general and had the privilege of travelling around the country and hearing people’s stories firsthand, I found that every community was touched in some way by substance abuse disorders.  I went to a small fishing village in Alaska called Napaskiak which is accessible only by boat and no roads to go there and even in this small village of less than 500 people, the small little building where they kept medications had been broken into multiple times by people seeking out prescription painkillers.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You say in this report that we as a nation need to think differently about addiction and to look at substance abuse and addiction differently.  How do we look at it now and what would you like to see change?
    VIVEK MURTHY: Unfortunately, for too many people, addiction is a disease of choice, they see as a character flaw as evidence of moral failing, but what we know they are clearly from the science, is that addiction is actually none of those things it’s a chronic disease of the brain.
    We have good scientific studies that tell us that addiction impacts the circuits in your brain and in specific parts of the brain that affect impulse control, decision making and your stress and reward response.  When we understand that, we start to have a better sense of why it is so easy for people to relapse with substance abuse disorders and why people experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Can you explain — that number really jumps, 440 billion dollars in costs from substance abuse.  How do the costs add up?
    VIVEK MURTHY: These costs come from several streams.  One is from direct healthcare costs.  Also losses in workplace productivity as well as criminal justice system costs.  The good news is we have evidence-based treatment and prevention strategies at work.  The problem is they’re just not getting it to enough people.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Why is that? You report details quite a bit of these things that you argue absolutely are proven to work but aren’t being used, why is that?
    VIVEK MURTHY: It’s really striking and it’s especially striking when you recognize it.  Not only do we have a humanitarian reason to get treatments to people but we know that for every dollar that we invest in treatment we save four dollars in healthcare costs, seven dollars in criminal justice system costs.  We have prevention programs that are proven, that can save up to 64 dollars for every one dollar invested.
    A part of the reason that people haven’t gotten these treatments is that, as a country, number one, we haven’t invested enough in expansion of treatment programs.  Number two, we haven’t trained our clinicians widely enough in how to recognize, diagnose and treat substance abuse disorders and, third, there is this ongoing, unfortunate stigma around substance abuse disorders that prevents people from seeking help in the first place.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On the prevention side, what is it that works? What is it that we know can be done to help people to stop these substance abuse problems from developing?
    VIVEK MURTHY: Well, the good news is that, there are prevention programs that don’t just target one particular kind of substance but they can be effective reducing rates of use of alcohol, tobacco as well as elicit substances particularly by our youth and these programs are varied but some of them are school-based programs, one called the behavior game which trains young children in how to deal with stress in a healthy way and how to understand some of these substances of misuse and understand how to deal with them responsibly.
    There are also community-based programs that focus on education and on dealing with stress in a healthy way.  And this is a key point which is, as I’ve traveled around the country, I have found many times when people are using substances or when they begin, they begin trying to medicate some type of pain they’re experiencing.  It may not be physical pain.  It may be emotional pain or stress they’re experiencing.  If we can help equip young people in particular with healthy ways of dealing with stress we can go a long way toward preventing substance abuse disorders.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: There are many people in the treatment and the substance abuse world who are so cheered by this report and it’s called to action.  There are others say it is too little, too late.  I know Massachusetts senator Ed Markey wrote that overdoses from the opioid epidemic are still rising and he says, yet this report fails to provide any detailed road map for how best to curb opioid addiction.  What’s your response to that?
    VIVEK MURTHY: A couple of things.  Number one, in this report we took a broad view of all substances.  We didn’t just look at opioids but we also looked at alcohol, and it may surprise many people to recognize that alcohol leads to the other substances in terms of cost and lives lost.
    So we dealt with a range of substances.  If you read the report carefully where you understand there is in fact a road map for how we should approach prevention and how we should approach treatment, there is also attention to given to recovery because what we have realized over time is that treatment is not a two-week process where you go in, get cured and are good to go.  Instead, we have to focus on long-term treatment because this is a chronic illness.  We give a fair amount of attention to recovery services which are the social supports and ongoing counseling that people need in order to reduce the amount of relapses.
    My feeling is we have a number of concrete steps in the report that communities can take and we, in fact, dedicate the entire last chapter of the report to action, to not just defining the action doctors and nurses can take but what policymakers and families and law enforcement and teachers and educators need to take.
    This report has something for everyone.  And that’s appropriate.  Substance abuse disorders touch everyone.  That’s something I’ve seen firsthand and we all need to play a part in addressing addiction in America.
    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Alright. Dr.  Vivek Murthy, surgeon general of the United States. Thank you very much.
    VIVEK MURTHY: Glad to be with you.

    The post Surgeon general’s report calls for response to addiction crisis appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People demonstrate on the street as Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos and Marxist FARC rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, known as Timochenko, sign a new peace accord in Bogota, Colombia November 24, 2016.  REUTERS/Felipe Caicedo   FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES - RTST641

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    JOHN YANG:  The president of Colombia signed a new peace deal with FARC rebels this morning, about six weeks after voters narrowly rejected an earlier agreement. Days after that vote, president Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end that five-decade-old war. For more, I’m joined from Bogota by special correspondent Nadja Drost. Nadja, how significant were the changes that were made after the referendum?
    NADJA DROST: Well, John, the government and the FARC said they incorporated many if not most to have the changes that no campaigners and opponents of the PCL had voiced. The current PCL. That was just signed has included over 50 changes, among them the FARC has promised that they will reveal all information related to narco trafficking and drug trafficking routes to help out law enforcement. But could it say that many of the changes in this new deal don’t go far enough in punishing the FARC in serious human rights abuses.
    For example, one to have the main arguments is FARC leaders should not be able to run for political office while still serving alternative sentence force atrocities committed.
    JOHN YANG: Why was the government insistent on getting it renegotiated and signed quickly?
    NADJA DROST: There is a real sense of urgency here to get this peace process back on track because simple referendum and the PCL failed on October 2nd. We have about 7,000 FARC fighters spread out across the country in judicial limbo and their demobilization has been paralyzed. While there is a bilateral seize fire in place, it’s fragility was demonstrated.  Earlier this month two FARC guerillas were killed. This weekend at least three random activists and leaders in a social movement assassinated and another one killed this morning.
    JOHN YANG: What are the next steps? What are the challenges in implementing this peace deal?
    NADJA DROST: President Santos decided not to put this new peace deal to a popular vote as he did last time and it failed.  Instead, he is sending it immediately to congress for approval. While we don’t yet know if the implementation of the deal will get fast tracked into congress or dragged out in debates.
    We know the opponents to this deal in congress lead by former president Alavaro Uribe have vowed to oppose the deal, but how much they’ll actually will be able to do in congress considering they’re a minority is it’s not looking very hopeful for them to actually help any legislative changes.
    JOHN YANG: Nadja, this has been a bit of a roller coaster ride, the peace agreement reached, rejected by the referendum, renegotiated and signed. What’s the mood of the public now?
    NADJA DROST: We’re here in Bogota’s main square, the Plaza Bolivar. There is definitely a sense of, I would say, mild jubilation, but more of that relief. However, I would say that the patience of Colombians has been really tested out with this peace process and it hasn’t been beneficial for anybody that this peace deal has been going through so many stages of limbo.
    JOHN YANG:  Nadja Drost in Bogota. Thanks for joining us.
    NADJA DROST: Thank you, John.

    The post Amidst violence, Colombia signs new peace deal with FARC rebels appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein speaks at a campaign rally in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. September 8, 2016.   REUTERS/Jim Young  - RTX2OR15

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    JOHN YANG: Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential nominee is preparing to request recounts in key battleground states.  In just a day, she’s raised over $4 million dollars through an online fundraising page to support recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
    Although Hillary Clinton leads president-elect trump in the popular vote by more than 2 million votes, she trails Mr. Trump by narrow margins in those three states.  To discuss the push for recounts, green party presidential nominee doctor Jill Stein joins me now from Camden, Maine. Dr. Stein, welcome.
    Let me ask you, will you be filing these requests? I know the deadline is tomorrow in Wisconsin, and then next week in Michigan and Pennsylvania.  Will you be filing in all three states?
    JILL STEIN, Green Party Presidential Nominee:  Yes, we will.  The big question was whether the American people supported this enough that they would fund it.  All we did was put out the press release, put up a web site and the funding for it in.  The American people are looking for a positive step that we can take to ensure that our votes are being counted and that they’re counted accurately.
    JOHN YANG:  And what’s your goal with this? Do you think you can overturn the election with these recounts?
    JILL STEIN: I don’t think that’s likely and this is not done to benefit one candidate at the expense of the other.  This is being done because American’s came out of this election, not happy campers.  Eighty percent of Americans according to the New York Times poll, felt disgusted this election.
    These were two candidates that, you know, largely people were voting out of fear and the question was which one do you trust less — you know, the most disliked and untrusted candidates in our history.  I think Americans are looking for a way that we can improve the system.
    It’s not just an academic question, but it’s the question of the job, the healthcare we can’t afford and a generation locked in debt, non-academic is very up close and personal and what I have been shocked by is in this holiday weekend when usually people retreat to the pleasures of their families and the wonderful food and all that, you know, we don’t see that happening at all.  People are really wanting to jump forward toward creating a political system that we feel like we can have confidence in.
    JOHN YANG:  As you explain, we are talking to you by Skype and we’re hearing other news organizations trying to reach you.  Do you have any in evidence those three states of any irregularities, hacking, any problems in those states other than the narrow margins? Why pick those three states?
    JILL STEIN: Because the margins were narrow and if they were hacking, those were the states you would expect to see where the difference is very close and the impact would have been a small, statistical change that would have changed the outcome and just left it with a very minor difference in the votes between the two candidates.
    There is not a smoking gun here, but what the election integrity experts tell us and the advocates for verified voting, what they tell us, is that — well in fact, it’s not just them, you know, this is sort of the obvious, the elephant’s in the room.  This was an election in which we saw hacking all over the place, we saw hacking into the democratic party database and hacking into voter database in Illinois and Arizona and evidence that it was attempted much more broadly and we also saw hacking into personal accounts.
    At the same time, we have a voting system which has been proven to basically be wide open to hackers.  That is, we have voting machines in Wisconsin, for example, that have been barred from California, that got actually made illegal in California because they have been proven to be drop-dead simple to go in and reprogram with malicious software.
    So what we’re saying — you wouldn’t get into an airplane and wait for it to crash to decide you need quality assurance and a backup system.  Our voting system is no less important and we’re basically calling for a system to verify voting.  We shouldn’t have to show there’s been a disaster in order to safeguard a very vulnerable voting system.
    JOHN YANG: Green Party nominee Jill Stein.  Thank you so much for joining us.
    JILL STEIN: Thank you so much.
    JOHN YANG:  To dig deeper into the recount push, I’m joined by David Sanger, national security correspondent for the New York Times, he has been following this story. David, welcome, thanks for coming in on Thanksgiving day.
    DAVID SANGER, The New York Times: Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving to you. We’re all given thanks for Gwen’s life.
    JOHN YANG: Absolutely, thank you.  Where does this talk come from? The sudden talk about recounts in those three states come from?
    JOHN YANG: John, I think it comes from the fact as Dr. Stein indicated the popular vote has now risen, it’s over 2 million lead for secretary Clinton, and the margin in the three critical states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania has narrowed and that has prompted people who have been looking at the hacking questions and others to say if we were getting down to such small amounts, do we need to go check because of possibly miscounting but also because to have the risk of hacking.
    Now, when you look at Pennsylvania where the margin is still about 70,000 or so, the chances that this would change the result are pretty miniscule but there may be other good reasons for doing it anyway.
    JOHN YANG:  A group of computer scientists called the Clinton campaign last week to urge them to do this.  Do they have any evidence or any proof that something happened in these three states?
    DAVID SANGER: They don’t seem to.  I think the telling issue here is the Clinton campaign has not asked for a recount and I think that tells you that they don’t believe this would alter the result.
    What they do have is looking at the variance between where a number of the pre-election polls were in, of course, as we all know, those were notoriously bad in these cases and where the vote count has come out, and then some of the usual variances that you see just precinct by precinct, and there are always some number of precincts where it looks like there were several more thousand voters who came in or several thousand fewer and it doesn’t match up with the numbers.
    It usually comes out in the wash of doing the verification of the vote.  But in Wisconsin and Michigan, there are paper backups and that’s the critical thing, digitized as we get, John.  Voting is one thing where you sort of want to take a big step back and always have a paper backup.  In Pennsylvania, that’s true only in a few parts of the state.
    JOHN YANG: Dr. Stein says she doesn’t think this would change the outcome and you have suggested it’s unlikely.  So what’s the point of going through this?
    DAVID SANGER: One point is every state has a different system and different levels of cyber security.  And if there was one big lesson from the 2016 election, apart from the issues between the candidates, is that we are vulnerable to a foreign power to come in and attempting to influence the election and that’s of course what the intelligence agencies were saying about the hacks of the DNC and John Podesta, the chairman of the Clinton campaign’s e-mails.
    If that’s the case, we have to all up our game for sanctity of the election system.  I think if states understand, that they are going to be required to go back and look at the paper ballots either on a sample or full basis, they will probably invest more in their cyber security if they believe that there is a chance that there could be hacking, they need a better system.
    In this particular case, when the issue is this narrow, if they don’t go back and do it, there will be conspiracy theories between now and 30 years from now saying the 2016 election, there was something suspect there.  So if they pass up this chance, they will open up to the conspiracy theories having their case even if their case is unfounded.
    JOHN YANG: So, is it do it to prove that nothing happened that there was no hacking?
    DAVID SANGER: I think it’s do it to be sure there was no hacking and do it to make sure states recognize if they don’t have the best cyber security around which includes understanding what sort of malware can come into the systems and investing in the front end, they probably will have to pay a lot more money at the back end if elections close.
    Remember, the way the states are doing this right now, you only do a recount if the two people running are within half a percent or less of each other.  For a half of an election, that wouldn’t make sense because any sophisticated hacker is going to know that the state’s cutoff is half of one percent and make sure the margin is slightly larger than that to avoid an automatic recount.  So you’ve got to stay one thought out ahead of some very sophisticated hackers.
    JOHN YANG: David Sanger of the New York Times. Thanks for joining us.
    DAVID SANGER: Thank you.

    The post Jill Stein raises over $4 million to fund state vote recounts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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