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

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    Fast food worker Rogelio Hernandez, 72, who works at Carl's Jr., has a wife and four kids, and earns roughly $290 every two weeks, participates in a "Fight for $15" wage protest in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTSTVCC

    Fast-food worker Rogelio Hernandez, 72, who works at Carl’s Jr., has a wife and four kids and earns roughly $290 every two weeks, participates in a “Fight for $15” wage protest in Los Angeles, California, on Nov. 29, 2016. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Donald Trump’s upset presidential victory this month has sparked a national debate over what it will take to improve the jobs and lives of America’s struggling working class. The Republican-led Congress is calling for rolling back government protections — like President Obama’s overtime pay raise — as the answer for unleashing businesses to create better paying jobs.

    But the workers of the Fight for $15 — who are staging their largest strike yet on Tuesday — have shown the nation what would really move the needle for U.S. workers: $15 an hour and a union.

    But the workers of the Fight for $15 — who are staging their largest strike yet on Tuesday — have shown the nation what would really move the needle for U.S. workers: $15 an hour and a union. Since the Fight for $15 launched in 2012, when 200 fast-food workers walked off their jobs in New York City, underpaid workers have won a stunning $61.5 billion in raises, a report released Tuesday by the National Employment Law Project shows. By compelling states, cities and private employers to boost pay, workers in the Fight for $15 put more money in the pockets of 19 million workers nationwide in the last four years. To put the scale of these raises in context, that’s more than 12 times larger than the $5 billion raise for 5 million workers that Congress delivered the last time it raised the federal minimum wage in 2007.

    READ MORE: Column: $15 minimum wage won’t hurt workers? Don’t take it seriously

    More than $40 billion of the raises came via landmark $15 minimum wage increases passed in places like California, New York, Seattle and the District of Columbia. And 2.1 million of workers won raises this month when voters approved minimum wage ballot initiatives in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Washington state and Flagstaff, Arizona. In the four states, “yes” votes exceeded the vote totals for either of the major parties’ presidential candidates — striking proof of the broad public support for raising wages across party lines and regions of the country.

    The Fight for $15’s impact towers over past congressional action because it has been propelled by what workers need — not what moderate compromise might allow. As a result, workers have been fighting for and winning much bigger raises for much more of the workforce than ever before. For example, in California and New York, more than one in three workers will receive raises of close to $4,000 a year.

    The Fight for $15’s impact towers over past congressional action because it has been propelled by what workers need — not what moderate compromise might allow.

    In Los Angeles, 21-year-old McDonald’s cashier Anggie Godoy is now paid $10.50 an hour, up from $8 when the Fight for $15 began. The additional money in her pocket has Anggie believing she can fulfill her dream of going to Stanford. In New York, McDonald’s cook Jorel Ware, who got paid $7.25 an hour when the Fight for $15 began in 2012, will make $12 by year’s end and will no longer have to worry about his cell phone getting shut off.

    The raises sparked by the Fight for $15 are beginning to reverse decades of wage declines that have resulted in 43 percent of the workforce, or 60 million workers, earning less than $15 an hour. The rates are even higher in many swing states that Donald Trump carried: 45 percent in Michigan and Ohio and 50 percent in North Carolina. Across the U.S., median income rose 5.6 percent last year, the largest increase since at least the 1960s — a jump experts attribute in part to the Fight for $15.

    READ MORE: Income is up, poverty is down, but neither are back at pre-recession levels

    And business owners and executives are beginning to realize that higher pay can also be good for companies’ bottom lines. In states that approved $15 minimum wages, business organizations representing more than 32,000 small businesses either backed the measures or did not oppose it. Polling by Republican pollster Frank Luntz’s firm of U.S. business owners and executives similarly found that they support raising the minimum wage by a lopsided 80 percent to 8 percent margin. The firm warned, “If you’re fighting against the minimum wage increase, you’re fighting an uphill battle, because most Americans, even most Republicans, are okay with raising the minimum wage.”

    But it will take Congress to give a raise to the whole nation — and especially the 21 states where pay is still frozen at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

    With momentum growing, more states and cities are pushing for raises of up to $15 an hour, potentially lifting wages for another 5 million or more workers in 2017 and 2018. But it will take Congress to give a raise to the whole nation — and especially the 21 states where pay is still frozen at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

    With voters demanding action, the election saw more Republicans than before acknowledging the need for a higher minimum wage. Senators Rob Portman and Ron Johnson reversed their opposition and announced they would support some form of increase. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida became the first Republican in Congress to back a $15 minimum wage. And after declaring wages were “too high,” President-elect Donald Trump reversed his stance and called for an minimum wage increase to $10 an hour.

    READ MORE: Column: The claim that if wages go up, jobs will go down is not a theory — it’s a scam

    When brave McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King workers in New York first walked off their jobs four years ago demanding $15 and a union, many thought they were crazy. Now, there’s ample evidence — $62 billion worth — that it was the doubters who were wrong.

    The post Column: Fight for $15 has brought $62 billion in raises and counting to underpaid workers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu reacts to President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S.

    Mexico won’t pay for building a wall along the U.S. border, nor negotiate anything about it, said Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu.

    Massieu told special correspondent Nick Schifrin in a report airing on the PBS NewsHour that “Mexico will never consider paying for a wall that puts barriers between our two countries.”

    “We understand that in some territory the United States can do many things that we cannot even oppose or comment on,” she said. “But we will not pay for it, because it goes against everything we believe our two countries can do together, are doing together.”

    One-third of the 2,000-mile U.S. southern border already has a fence or a wall. The two countries can work together on securing the border using technology and agency cooperation, said Massieu. But “we’re not going to be negotiating anything regarding the wall.”

    She said the Mexican government is reaching out to local communities to address their concerns about a Trump administration, saying “there’s no change today of migration or deportation policies. We have to wait and see what the new government does after Jan. 20.”

    Already, over the past few years, more Mexicans are returning to Mexico than going to the United States, she added. “If a large number of Mexican workers were to return to Mexico, it would disturb the economy of several communities in several states.”

    The United States and Mexico has a history of social and cultural integration that transcends any administration, and a prosperous Mexico will profit the U.S. as well, she said.

    On Tuesday’s PBS NewsHour, special correspondent Nick Schifrin and producer Zach Fannin report on NAFTA as seen from Columbus, Ohio, and Juarez, Mexico, in Part 2 of their series.

    You can watch Part 1 – a look at President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promises from the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez – in the video above.

    The post Video: Why Mexico won’t pay for the border wall appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A photo of mature businesswoman using computer at desk. Concentrated female executive is working on desktop PC. Confident female professional is in formals. She is in brightly lit office.

    There is no doubt that bigotry and discrimination thrive in the dirty little corners of the corporate world. But if there is age anxiety in your own mind, that’s far more dangerous to your career, writes jobs guru Nick Corcodilos. Photo by Portra via Getty Images.

    Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

    In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


    Question: I am 51 years old and just got caught in a layoff. I am going to pursue new employment starting next week. I have 20 years of management experience, and I know I have a lot to offer any company in my industry. The only thing that worries me is my age. You hear so many stories about talented people my age being discriminated against. Do I have a problem, or is it in my head? Thanks.

    There is no doubt that bigotry and discrimination thrive in the dirty little corners of the corporate world.

    Nick Corcodilos: There is no doubt that bigotry and discrimination thrive in the dirty little corners of the corporate world. But if there is age anxiety in your own mind, that’s far more dangerous to your career.

    Don’t approach an interview thinking about your age. Expect that a company wants you for the profit you can create. Then, if a business rejects you, all you’re walking away from is a lousy company.

    Show them the green, not the gray

    Some employers will discriminate over age; some won’t. The best way to influence them is to walk in the door, having done your homework, and show how you are going to help them improve their bottom line. I cover this simple idea so often that I fear people will get tired of it. But this is especially important if you’re concerned about discrimination, because one thing trumps bigotry: money.

    READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: How to show employers what age discrimination is costing them

    Show a company that you will help it make more money, and you will get almost any manager’s attention. But if you let the manager smell your worries about your age, you’re toast. He’ll make the safe assumption that your worries reveal insecurity, which in turn will ruin his business.

    Except in the case of a rotten-to-the-core bigot, most managers will see past “the gray” if you show them the green — money, profit, success. They will forget their prejudices and sing your praises if you can make them look good to their own bosses. I can’t overemphasize this: If your mind is on your age, your behavior will communicate insecurity that will turn off even good employers.

    Don’t communicate insecurity

    Except in the case of a rotten-to-the-core bigot, most managers will see past “the gray” if you show them the green — money, profit, success.

    I think there are two kinds of managers: Rats who discriminate and perfectly good bosses who will nonetheless discriminate if you encourage them. Older job candidates encourage discrimination when they show their age anxiety, though they deny it even to themselves. Fear or insecurity of any kind comes through in a job interview. As soon as a manager thinks you’re worried about your age, she instantly worries too — and for good reason. It’s reasonable to conclude that your worries will affect your work. That’s how older candidates encourage discrimination without realizing it.

    I know I’ll catch grief for saying that, but this column is not about how things should be. It’s about how they are. It’s about how people think and behave. It’s about how to deal with that. (For more about distinguishing good employers from bad, see “How can I find the truth about a company?”)

    So what can you do? Beat your own worries. Start any interview by focusing on how you can help the manager succeed. Immediately ask what the manager’s objectives are with respect to revenue, cost reduction, efficiency, problem solving and profit production. (It’s all about profit, no matter what you call it.) Then ask: “May I show you how I can help you solve that problem or tackle that challenge?” (You should already have an idea about this and be ready with a short presentation.)

    Older workers land jobs

    Read what one Ask The Headhunter reader sent me a few years ago:

    I am a 63-year-old woman, nothing special, with an M.A. in English and 20 years of progressive experience in public relations. I was suddenly outsourced from a job I loved and intended to retire from. After nine months of researching companies, training myself in the Ask The Headhunter methods and working hard to do the job in the interview, I have — again, at age 63 — been hired into a Fortune 500 company.

    Although age discrimination can be very real, as you already suspected, it can also be “in your head” — and then in your own behavior. Don’t focus on your age, and you’ll find that many companies won’t either. Even if the employer seems stuck on age, it’s your mission to give him something more important to grab onto.

    Now here’s the punchline about the 63-year-old quoted above. At 71, she wrote back to tell me she’s still working, recently got a raise and that there’s one other person in her organization who’s older than she is. (See “71 Years Old: Got in the door at 63 and just got a raise!”)

    READ MORE: The unique disadvantage older women face in the workforce

    If you’re preoccupied with your age in the interview, you’re giving off the wrong signal. Defeat age anxiety, and you’ll survive most age discrimination. (There’s more about this in “Too Old to Rock & Roll?”)

    Dear Readers: Has age discrimination caused you trouble? Have you been able to surmount it? What is your advice to this reader?


    Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

    Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

    Copyright © 2016 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

    The post Ask the Headhunter: Is age discrimination in your head? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A North Atlantic right whale with its tail flukes above the water’s surface. Photo by Georgia Department of Natural Resources

    A North Atlantic right whale with its tail flukes above the water’s surface. Photo by Georgia Department of Natural Resources

    A yellow buoy bobbing near the third busiest U.S. port may offer a new way to reduce the number of whales killed by ship strikes.

    The buoy — dubbed Melville — contributes to a two-part system that attempts to measure whale locations in real-time. Built by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Wildlife Conservation Society, the buoy floats outside the Port of New York and New Jersey and transmits any tell-tale calls of endangered whales that are recorded by a second device placed at the bottom of the ocean.

    Whale detections are posted to a public website, where the scientists hope captains of fishing vessels and cargo ships might use the information to adjust their speeds.

    “In the New York areas, it’s difficult for ships to change course because they are routed into shipping lanes for safety purposes,” Woods Holes marine ecologist Mark Baumgartner said. “But if they are going slower, the whales either have a chance to get away or the ship strike is not going to kill them.”

    Of particular concern is the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), which can be heard from five miles away. Less than 500 of these slow-swimming mammals remain in the wild, but the Melville buoy has detected the species twice since being deployed in June.

    Baumgartner said the rare detections of the North Atlantic right whale and other endangered species present an opportunity to prevent ship strikes during and outside of the whales’ migration season, when the creatures’ presence is less predictable.

    “What we’re really trying to do is let the (fishing and shipping) industries do the work that they do, but do it in such a way that it doesn’t cause a species to go extinct.”

    The post This innovative buoy could help save some of the rarest whales in the world appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Low-wage workers across the country are protesting and striking in a coordinated effort labeled the Fight for $15 “day of disruption” on Tuesday. Fast-food workers, airport employees, health aides, child care workers and Uber drivers are demanding a $15 minimum wage and union rights.

    Protests took place at Logan International Airport in Boston and Chicago O’Hare International Airport, while Uber drivers stayed home or idled their cars.

    More than 100 people have been arrested thus far, reported USA Today. California police arrested 27 people in Oakland for blocking streets and sidewalks, and in New York, another 26 protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct, according to CNN Money. The arrested protesters in Oakland and New York have since been released. Protesters were also arrested in Detroit and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour and was last raised in 2009. Twenty-nine states have since raised their state minimum wages above the federal level.

    Many businesses and conservative think tanks still resist minimum wage hikes, and Congress is unlikely to take up the issue any time soon. Economist Mike Perry of the conservative American Enterprise Institute argues that minimum wage increases hurt the low-wage workers it’s supposed to help, as business will be forced to hire fewer workers or reduce hours to make up for the artificial increase in costs.

    Still, there is growing support to raise the minimum wage. On Election Day, voters in four states passed minimum wage increases. Since 2000, every ballot initiative to increase the minimum wage has passed.

    And a poll conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz found that 80 percent of business executives now support an increase in the minimum wage.

    Prior to the election, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton supported raising the minimum wage. While Clinton is in favor of raising it to $12 an hour and $15 an hour in certain cities and counties, President-elect Trump is in favor of raising it to $10 an hour.

    A number of prominent Democratic lawmakers came out today in support of the Fight for $15, including former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.

    The post Low-wage workers across the country protest and strike, demanding $15 minimum wage appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Steven Mnuchin, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's reported choice for U.S. Treasury Secretary, speaks to members of the news media upon his arrival at Trump Tower in New York, U.S. November 30, 2016.   REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTSU0DY

    Steven Mnuchin, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s reported choice for U.S. Treasury Secretary, speaks to members of the news media upon his arrival at Trump Tower in New York, U.S. November 30, 2016. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Donald Trump’s expected choice to be the nation’s 77th treasury secretary, has had a long history as a successful financial executive and a shorter but significant period in a job that ushered him into Trump’s inner circle: head of Trump’s campaign finance operation.

    When Mnuchin, 53, was chosen by Trump as his national finance director in May, he told The Associated Press that the two men had been friends for 15 years. Through his work as finance chairman, Mnuchin is close to Trump’s children and son-in-law, Jared Kushner — a top adviser to Trump — and worked with them on fundraising events.

    The campaign raised at least $169 million, in addition to the $66 million that Trump spent out of his own pocket. Though that was far short of what Hillary Clinton raised, it represented an impressive haul given that Trump didn’t begin fundraising in earnest until the end of May.

    A person familiar with Trump’s decision said Tuesday that the president-elect will nominate Mnuchin to the Treasury position. The person would only discuss the nomination on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to reveal it ahead of the official announcement.

    If approved by the Senate, Mnuchin would follow in the tradition of two previous treasury secretaries — Robert Rubin in the Clinton administration and Henry Paulson in George W. Bush’s. All had vast Wall Street experience gained from years spent working at powerhouse Goldman Sachs.

    Yet unlike Rubin and Paulson and unlike President Barack Obama’s two treasury secretaries, Timothy Geithner and Jacob Lew, Mnuchin would bring no government experience to Treasury, something that could prove a hurdle in navigating the tricky politics of Washington.

    After graduating from Yale in 1985. Mnuchin worked for Goldman Sachs for 17 years. His father, Robert Mnuchin, had himself worked for Goldman for three decades, becoming a partner in charge of equity trading.

    The younger Mnuchin amassed his own fortune at the firm and then left in 2002. He worked briefly for Soros Fund Management, a hedge fund led by George Soros, before starting his own investment firm, Dune Capital Management.

    As head of this firm, Mnuchin and other investors participated in the purchase of failed mortgage lender IndyMac in 2009 and renamed it OneWest. The failure of IndyMac in 2008 with $32 billion in assets was one of the biggest casualties of the housing bust.

    Mnuchin became chairman of OneWest, which was sold to CIT Group in 2015. Before the sale, OneWest faced a string of lawsuits over its home foreclosure practices.

    This month, housing advocates filed a complaint asking the Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate OneWest for possible violations of the Fair Housing Act. The lender failed to place branches in minority communities, provided few mortgages to black homebuyers and preserved foreclosed properties in white neighborhoods while allowing similar homes in minority communities to fall into disrepair, according to the California Reinvestment Coalition and Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California.

    CIT declined to respond directly to the complaint but stressed in a statement that it is “committed to fair lending and works hard to meet the credit needs of all communities and neighborhoods we serve.”

    Mnuchin also became a major investor in Hollywood, helping finance a number of movies, including the 2009 blockbuster “Avatar.”

    As treasury secretary, Mnuchin would be the administration’s chief economic spokesman, serving as a liaison not only to Wall Street but also to global investors, a critical role given the trillions of dollars in treasury bonds owned by foreigners. In addition, it would be his job to sell the new administration’s economic program to Congress.

    Mnuchin will also oversee a sprawling bureaucracy that includes the Internal Revenue Service and the agency that issues millions of Social Security and other benefit checks each month. Treasury also runs the agency that wages the financial war on terrorism.

    Even before his nomination was announced, he was being attacked for his ties to Wall Street.

    “It’s difficult to think of a nominee who better embodies the culture of Wall Street greed than the former Goldman Sachs partner,” the Communications Workers of America, a labor union, said in a statement. “Naming Mnuchin as treasury secretary would be a slap in the face of millions of working families who will be victimized by this Wall Street-rigged economy.”

    During the campaign, Trump complained about the Dodd-Frank Act, passed in 2010 in response to the 2008 financial crisis and intended to prevent another crisis by tightening financial regulations. He called the increased regulations on banks a “disaster.”

    Mnuchin, in an interview with CNBC in July, said he thought Dodd-Frank “needs to be looked at.” But he has not spelled out what changes he would like to see. Yet if Trump decides to back Republican attempts to rewrite the law, Mnuchin could be expected to lead the administration’s effort.

    Analysts said Mnuchin’s years of experience on Wall Street and in managing an investment firm gave him real-world skills that likely appealed to Trump, a business executive who has also never served in government.

    “Mr. Mnuchin is highly successful, and he’s well-known in financial circles here,” said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University, Channel Islands.

    Sohn and other economists, however, suggested that Mnuchin’s lack of government experience could prove to be a drawback in selling the administration’s economic policies to Congress.

    “People who come from Wall Street quickly find that they can’t just make a decision and have it happen,” said Stanley Collender, a longtime staffer on House and Senate budget committees and now an executive vice president at Qorvis communications. “It’s not like being a CEO. There is a lot more compromise involved.”

    The post Treasury nominee Mnuchin was Trump’s top fundraiser appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX21G33

    U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 7, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — House Democrats have re-elected Nancy Pelosi as their leader.

    The California lawmaker, who has led the party since 2002, turned back a challenge from Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan on Wednesday.

    Her win came despite disenchantment among some in the Democratic caucus over the party’s disappointing performance in the elections earlier this month. Democrats will remain in the minority in the House and Senate next year and won’t have the presidency as a bulwark against Republicans.

    Democrats were also choosing other leaders during the closed-door session that was expected to take several hours.

    The post House Democrats re-elect Pelosi as leader appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman shows her clean syringes at the Aids Center of Queens County needle exchange outreach center in New York, November 28, 2006. Photo by  Shannon Stapleton/REUTERS

    A woman shows her clean syringes at the Aids Center of Queens County needle exchange outreach center in New York, November 28, 2006. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/REUTERS

    Needle exchanges, long credited with helping to slow the spread of infectious diseases by public health experts, have made inroads in recent years, even in states traditionally opposed to them.

    A ban on federal funding for needle exchanges was lifted earlier this year. States including Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia have made it easier, or in some cases possible for the first time, for programs to operate. Even Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who resisted needle exchanges on moral grounds, repealed a ban on syringe exchanges as governor of Indiana when confronted with an HIV outbreak (albeit too slowly for many experts).

    Overall, the number of HIV diagnoses among people who inject drugs fell by 48 percent from 2008 to 2014, although the declines slowed in recent years.

    New data released by federal health officials Tuesday further demonstrated the value of needle exchanges, suggesting they had contributed to a major reduction in new HIV infections among people who inject drugs.

    But the report also included some warnings. There aren’t enough needle exchanges or clean needles being supplied, and few drug users use only sterile syringes, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. Plus, changes in the demography and geography of drug users suggest problems to come.

    In particular, increased injected drug use among young white people, who also share needles more often than black or Hispanic drug users, “challenge[s] the decades of progress in HIV prevention” among drug users, the researchers found.

    The concern stems in part from a ballooning opioid crisis and a recent surge in some places of hepatitis C infections, which are also associated with intravenous drug use and can foretell the spread of HIV.

    Overall, the number of HIV diagnoses among people who inject drugs fell by 48 percent from 2008 to 2014, although the declines slowed in recent years, the researchers found. But when broken down by geography and race, the numbers show some worrisome trends.

    Black and Hispanic drug users, whether they lived in cities or not, saw roughly 50 percent drops in HIV diagnoses over the time span.

    But white drug users in urban areas only witnessed a 28 percent decline in diagnoses from 2008 to 2012 and no progress from 2012 to 2014.

    But white drug users in urban areas only witnessed a 28 percent decline in diagnoses from 2008 to 2012 and no progress from 2012 to 2014. In suburban and rural areas, where a growing opioid epidemic has primarily taken hold, white drug users experienced a 28 percent drop in HIV diagnoses from 2008 to 2010 but no decline from 2010 to 2014.

    In 2014, for the first time, a larger number of white drug users received an HIV diagnosis than drug users of any other race or ethnicity, the CDC found.

    The CDC researchers also looked at the practice of drug users in 22 cities and found that differences in protective behavior could account in part for why black drug users saw greater drops in HIV cases than white drugs users.

    Black drug users were less likely to share syringes than white drug users, and whites are making up an increasing share of new drug users. White people start injecting drugs when they are younger than black drug users and are less likely to seek clean syringes for all their injections.

    READ MORE: As new opioids spread, coroners face a wave of medical mysteries

    While black and Hispanic drug users shared syringes less frequently from 2005 to 2015, the percentage of white drug users who shared needles did not change, the survey data showed.

    Overall, only 1 out of 4 drug users get all of their syringes from a sterile source, the CDC found.

    Part of the problem, the researchers said, is that exchanges do not provide as many clean syringes as people who use drugs need and that many places still do not have programs up and running. That challenge is particularly acute in rural areas, which are largely white and, the researchers said, “include some of the most vulnerable populations for injection drug use and injection drug-use related HIV outbreaks.”

    Needle exchange programs do not just provide clean syringes. They often test for HIV and hepatitis B and C, distribute condoms or the antidote for opioid overdoses, and help those who want to enter substance abuse treatment find a program.

    Public health experts who were not involved with the new report said it affirms the benefits needle exchange programs have shown in other places.

    In Baltimore, which has had a needle exchange van for two decades, 63 percent of new HIV infections in 1994 came as a result of intravenous drug use. In 2015, only 8 percent of new infections were from shared injection tools.

    “Programs like ours in Baltimore that do needle exchange are effective,” said Dr. Leana Wen, the city’s health commissioner. “We have seen the efficacy of programs that reach people where they are.”

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Nov. 29, 2016. Find the original story here.

    The post Needle exchanges, despite strong resistance in the past, are working appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Visitors enter the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, U.S. October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron - RTSQX9M

    Visitors enter the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, U.S. October 5, 2016. Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — A seemingly divided Supreme Court on Wednesday tried to figure out whether the government can detain immigrants indefinitely without providing hearings in which they could argue for their release.

    The justices heard argument in a class-action lawsuit brought by immigrants who spent long periods behind bars, including many who are legal residents of the United States or are seeking asylum.

    The issue for the court is whether people the government has detained while it is considering deporting them can make their case to a judge that they should be released.

    The case pits the Obama administration against immigration advocates, and the court hearing comes as President-elect Donald Trump has said he will step up deportations.

    The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the immigrants, including Mexican immigrant Alejandro Rodriguez, who was detained for more than three years without a bond hearing.

    Rodriguez is a legal U.S. resident who was brought to the country as an infant. The Homeland Security Department detained him when it began deportation proceedings because Rodriguez had been convicted of possession of a controlled substance and driving a stolen vehicle, according to the appeals court. He spent no time in jail for the criminal convictions.

    In another case, an Ethiopian asylum-seeker was kept in detention partly because a DHS officer wrongly labeled him a Somali, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the immigrants.

    The 9th Circuit ruled that immigrants generally should get bond hearings after six months in detention, and then every six months if they continue to be held. The government must show why they should remain locked up, the court said.

    Justice Stephen Breyer, voicing a sentiment that appeared to be shared by other liberal justices, expressed astonishment that the provisions of immigration law at issue would allow someone released after a hypothetical four-year prison term to be held the same amount of time by U.S. immigration authorities. “How can they be punished for four more years?” Breyer asked.

    Acting Solicitor General Ian Gershengorn defended the law, saying Congress clearly gave DHS considerable power to hold people in custody while determining whether to deport them.

    Ahilan Arulanantham, the ACLU lawyer representing the immigrants, told the justices the ultimate decision about whether to hold or release people was not at issue before the court. “We’re just talking about the need for an inquiry, the need for a hearing,” Arulanantham said.

    But the court’s conservative justices sounded skeptical of Arulanantham’s and the appeals court’s reading of immigration law. “The problem is, that looks an awful lot like drafting a statute or a regulation. … We can’t just write a different statute,” Chief Justice John Roberts said.

    The post Supreme Court weighs bond hearings for detained immigrants appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Anybody can participate in a quantum mechanics experiment by playing an online game featuring the random typing of ones and zeroes.

    Anybody can participate in a quantum mechanics experiment by playing an online game featuring the random typing of ones and zeroes. Image courtesy of The Institute of Photonic Sciences

    How good are you at being random? Your unpredictability can aid a worldwide experiment Wednesday to test the laws of quantum mechanics.

    The “Big Bell Test,” coordinated by The Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) in Barcelona, is a scientific experiment fueled by a series of human decisions made by volunteers around the globe. To participate in the test, all one has to do is play a series of online games that involve the typing of ones and zeroes as unpredictably as one can muster.

    This experiment aims to test Albert Einstein’s idea of “local realism,” which states that any particle — from something as tiny as an atom to something as large as the moon — has a pre-existing value before that value is measured.

    Quantum physicists such as Niels Bohr, however, have theorized the opposite: that any particle does not have a distinct value until they are measured, and that if a measured particle was entangled with another particle, the other one would change immediately, no matter how far apart they are.

    To experiment on these competing theories, scientists use a Bell test. In these tests, two entangled particles are sent to two separated stations called “Alice” and “Bob.” Each station will perform simultaneous and unpredictable measurements on the particles. Here’s what happens next, as explained by the folks at ICFO:

    Quantum mechanics says that the measurement Alice makes will instantly influence Bob’s particle, with the effect that the measurement results agree. In local realism, this influence cannot happen, and Bob and Alice’s measurement results will often disagree. This agreement or disagreement, called correlation, is the signal that allows an experiment to decide about local realism.

    The Big Bell Test uses a series of online games played worldwide where players will contribute random sequences of ones and zeroes. These randomly generated sequences will then determine the order of measurement of these entangled particles around the world.

    The ICFO is looking for at least 30,000 volunteers to contribute, which would allow enough runs of the experiment to ensure precision of the results and statistical independence of the data.

    The post Worldwide experiment seeks your randomness to test laws of quantum physics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A composite image of Lucy the Australopithecus (center) and two Malapa hominins (sides.)  Photo by Peter Schmid.

    A composite image of Lucy the Australopithecus (center) and two Malapa hominins (sides.) Photo by Peter Schmid

    Lucy, our ever-popular human ancestor, may have preferred a tree-dwelling lifestyle, based on bone scans published Wednesday in PLOS ONE. The research adds clarity to early human behavior and suggests our ancestors may have spent millions of years “monkeying around” the branches.

    Since American paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson discovered Lucy’s remains in 1974, they have traveled the world to be carefully examined. Scientists have determined that she certainly walked upright like a human and had proportions somewhere between a human and a chimp. However, controversy and questions still surround how she behaved.

    Lucy had long arms like a chimp, but did she move and live like one? Or did she merely inherit those leftover features from a tree-dwelling ancestor?

    By analyzing high-resolution X-ray scans of Lucy’s upper arm bone, evolutionary anatomist Christopher Ruff demonstrated that early hominins developed arm strength through consistent use — likely by tree-climbing.

    “She was still climbing trees on a regular basis,” Ruff said of his team’s new study. “You don’t develop this kind of strong upper-limb bones if you climb a tree once a week.”

    Ruff’s team also examined Lucy’s femur and concluded that her walking gait would have been less efficient than humans.

    Lucy’s inherited her long arms, so these features don’t expose much about her day-to-day behavior. However, the strength of your limb bones is a more “plastic” trait that changes based on how you use them as you grow. That’s why Lucy’s strong arms indicate that she was, in fact, supporting her weight in trees.

    Scientists have speculated for a long time that Lucy and her family must have spent at least some time in trees, especially as recent analysis has demonstrated that she died falling out of one. That study found injuries at or around the time of Lucy’s death are consistent with wounds suffered by people who have fallen from a great height and then have put their arms in front of them to break the impact. Ruff noted that those results are further evidence of tree-dwelling.

    But other experts disagree and believe Lucy lived a more terrestrial life. Evolutionary anatomy professor Carol Ward, who focuses on apes and early hominins, said that Lucy had many more adaptations for living on the ground.

    For example, humans and Lucy have flat feet, which are suited for walking on the ground. Plus, tree-dwelling apes have grasping big toes, with feet that look like hands.

    “We gave that up, Lucy gave that up, in favor of feet that were better at being on the ground.” Ward said. “So not only do we know that the most important thing was for these animals to be able to move effectively on the ground, we also know that being in the trees wasn’t very important to them.”

    However, scientists agree that Lucy and her Australopithecus afarensis family moved in both land and tree environments.

    “The question in some ways isn’t whether Lucy was able to climb trees,” Ward said. “My kids climb trees, people climb trees now.”

    Likewise, tree-dwelling apes can walk on the ground when needed, but not as well or as upright as a human or Australopithecus.

    The post Lucy, our famous ancestor, was built for tree-dwelling appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, chairman of Invesco Ltd subsidiary WL Ross & Co, departs Trump Tower after a meeting with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in New York, U.S., November 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson - RTSTWGI

    President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday nominated nillionaire investor Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary. Photo by Lucas Jackson/REUTERS

    President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday nominated Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor known as the “king of bankruptcy,” to head the Department of Commerce.

    Ross, 79, is the chairman and chief strategy officer for WL Ross & Co., a private equity firm that restructures companies in financial straits. Ross, whose net worth is estimated at $2.9 billion, largely made his money from investments and his time at the financial advisory group Rothschild Inc., where he worked for 24 years before starting his own investment firm.

    During the campaign, Ross was Trump’s chief economic adviser on trade policy.

    If Ross is confirmed by the Senate, he would become a key player in implementing Trump’s economic agenda. On the campaign trail, Trump promised to create 25 million new jobs in the next decade and achieve 3.5 percent economic growth per year — substantially higher than the 2.4 percent GDP increase the country experienced in both 2014 and 2015.

    “Wilbur knows that cutting taxes for working families, reducing burdensome government regulations and unleashing America’s energy resources will strengthen our economy at a time when our country needs to see significant growth,” Trump said in a statement.

    In a statement released by the Trump transition team on Wednesday, Ross said he was looking forward to working “especially closely” with Steve Mnuchin, a financier who was nominated on Wednesday as treasury secretary, to “implement the President-elect’s strategy for accelerating our economic growth.”

    During the campaign, however, Ross and Trump did not always see eye-to-eye. In an interview with CNBC last June, Ross said he did not take all of Trump’s campaign promises literally — such as a claim, which Trump later retracted, that he could eliminate the country’s $19 trillion debt in 10 years.

    “If you add up all the promises any politician makes, the math doesn’t work,” Ross said at the time. “Hillary Clinton’s math doesn’t work, Donald’s math probably doesn’t work. I think you have to listen to their campaign pitches more as symbolic, more as metaphors.”

    Ross has restructured more than $200 billion in liabilities, often for steel, textile and coal mining companies. At times, he has come under scrutiny for those investments.

    In 2006, 12 miners died in an explosion at a West Virginia mine owned by Anker Coal. Ross’ company bought an ownership stake in Anker Coal shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2002, and reportedly refused to stop production at the Sago mine despite knowing that the mine needed roof repairs.

    Another one of Ross’ notable clients was Donald Trump himself.

    In 1990, as Trump was facing more than $3 billion in debt and on the verge of personal bankruptcy, he brought on Ross to help navigate his financial troubles.

    Ross originally considered a move to force Trump’s Taj Mahal casino into bankruptcy, but after spending more time with Trump, Ross, who represented bondholders of the casino, said he changed his mind.

    “We could have foreclosed [on the Trump Taj Mahal], and he would have been gone,” Ross told the New York Post earlier this year.

    Instead, Ross helped Trump and his debt-holders strike a plan that required Trump to liquidate some of his assets and tighten his budget, while lowering his debt and avoiding a total collapse of his real estate empire.

    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump emerges with Wilbur Ross after their meeting at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 20, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTSSISN

    President-elect Donald Trump appeared alongside Wilbur Ross after their meeting at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey on Nov. 20. Photo by Mike Segar/REUTERS

    In addition to Trump, Ross has ties to other prominent Republicans. Ross served as an economic adviser to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump supporter who is under consideration for Secretary of State. Ross was also a board member of the U.S.-Russia Investment Fund under President Bill Clinton.

    Ross has also become a prominent Republican donor. He served as a trustee on Trump’s fundraising committee during the campaign, and also donated money himself.

    Ross personally gave the maximum allowed individual donation of $5,400 to Trump’s campaign, and another $139,145 to the Republican National Committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign spending.

    Ross’ company, WL Ross & Co., donated $336,635 to the Republican National Committee. The company also gave $5,400 to Trump and $6,000 to Hillary Clinton.

    Some financial industry watchers reacted to Ross’ nomination with cautious optimism.

    Allen Sinai, the chief global economist and strategist of Decision Economics, a research firm, said even though Ross is a financial insider, he brings an outsider’s perspective on politics.

    “Ross is bringing business savvy, bottom line, roll-up your sleeves knowledge on how the world really works, and I think that is a breath of fresh air for Washington,” said Sinai, who has advised both Republican and Democratic administrations.

    Sinai also touted Ross’ international business experience, though he noted that Ross has less experience in the growing high-tech sector.

    “That’s a weakness in his skill set, but we’ll see whether he builds a team around him who are much more knowledgeable in that world,” Sinai said.

    Others criticized Trump’s decision to nominate Ross and other business leaders, like Mnuchin, to serve in his cabinet.

    “Donald Trump continues to stack his administration with the same insiders and financial elites he railed against during the campaign,” said Mark Paustenbach, the press secretary for the Democratic National Committee.

    The post Who is Wilbur Ross, Trump’s selection for commerce secretary? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A mother and her daughter listen to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (not pictured) at a labor rally and news conference to introduce legislation designed to make it easier for workers to join together and bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions in Washington October 6, 2015.     REUTERS/Gary Cameron     - RTS3B2J

    Investing in better wages and benefits for low-wage women workers can only strengthen our economic infrastructure, write Mary Babic of Oxfam and Barbara Gault of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. It’s time that women get access to the full array of jobs in our economy and that they get paid what they are worth everywhere they work. Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

    The recent campaign trained a spotlight on the economic anxiety that plagues millions of workers who have seen their wages steadily erode. The surprising reality is that the majority of these workers are women, who endure low wages, scant benefits and often arduous conditions.

    For every woman battling bias to get their rightful place in a top job or crack yet another glass ceiling in America today, there are tens of thousands of low-wage women workers trying to move up in a labor market that undervalues traditionally “female” labor. Women, and especially women of color, who support themselves and their families through low-wage work are clustered into the lowest-paying, lowest-quality jobs.

    Women, and especially women of color, who support themselves and their families through low-wage work are clustered into the lowest-paying, lowest-quality jobs.

    Take teacher assistants, 89 percent of whom are women. Over a quarter of the women in this field have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, but the median wage for teacher assistants is $11.43. In the “men’s work” world, service station attendants are 91 percent male, have few if any educational credentials and earn $11.62 per hour.

    The United States workforce remains profoundly segregated by gender. Millions of women work in jobs that are seen as “women’s work” and are in fact done disproportionately by women, such as teaching young children, cleaning, serving and caring for elders — essential jobs that, despite requiring physical skill, emotional labor and often, postsecondary education, offer workers low wages and scant benefits.

    READ MORE: Column: A Massachusetts law is the most promising step yet toward equal pay

    A recent study from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and Oxfam America explores this gender divide and identifies a subset of low-wage women’s jobs. The jobs meet four criteria: most workers are women; the median wage is under $15 an hour; at least 100,000 women do the job; and the number of jobs will grow in the next 20 years.
    We found 22 such jobs, and of the 23.5 million workers in these jobs, 81 percent — 19 million — are women. And these jobs are a big segment of the larger workforce, accounting for over a quarter of all women’s employment and 64 percent of women’s low-wage employment.

    The job sectors include early childhood care and education, in which 93 percent of the 3 million workers are women; health care support, in which 88 percent of the 4.5 million workers are women; and food preparation and serving, in which two-thirds of the 3.5 million workers are women.

    Janitors, two-thirds of whom are men, make $12.13 per hour, while maids and housekeepers, nearly 9 in 10 of whom are women, make $9.94 per hour.

    Low-wage women’s work pays less than mixed-sex or traditionally male low-wage jobs, even when the women’s jobs are very similar in requirements for education, skills, stamina and hours. In fact, they may even demand higher education requirements, licenses or certifications. Janitors, two-thirds of whom are men, make $12.13 per hour, while maids and housekeepers, nearly 9 in 10 of whom are women, make $9.94 per hour.

    These jobs box women into some tough spots. Almost half of the women in these jobs (about 8 million) live in or near poverty. Many turn to public assistance programs to get by, such as the 60 percent of mothers in these jobs who depend on subsidized lunch programs for their children. They may be compelled to work irregular hours or part time, even if they want full-time work and regular schedules. Their workplaces may pose dangers to their health and safety — think of manicurists exposed to chemicals or cashiers facing the risk of robberies.

    Women in these jobs are not teenagers making pocket change — the median age is 36 and 12 percent are single parents.

    READ MORE: Will business imperatives drive gender parity?

    Addressing the low pay and poor advancement opportunities in women’s work is essential to confronting systemic racial and ethnic inequality. Women of color are disproportionately represented in these jobs: They are a third of the female labor force but nearly 45 percent of women in these jobs. For example, women of color and immigrants are much more likely than white women to be working as housecleaners and manicurists.

    Without policy change, the devaluation of women’s work may only get worse. The Department of Labor projects that these jobs will grow one and a half times the rate of all other jobs over the next decade. These jobs are growing because they are vital to our economy; child care workers, for example, allow parents to work and are responsible for the cognitive and social development of the future workforce. Investing in better wages and benefits for such workers can only strengthen our economic infrastructure.

    Women in these jobs are not teenagers making pocket change — the median age is 36 and 12 percent are single parents.

    So what can we do to make sure our economy — and our society — places greater value on women’s work and rewards it properly?

    Among the many policy options, we can raise the federal minimum wage from the current minimum of $7.25 an hour (which is, simply, a poverty-level wage), eliminate the tipped minimum wage, which has been stuck at $2.13 since 1991 and disproportionately affects women, guarantee paid sick days for all workers, ensure fair scheduling, increase public subsidies for child care and elder care, improve access to education and training and strengthen collective bargaining rights.

    These steps will reduce inequality, reward hard work and create ladders of economic mobility for all workers who currently earn low wages.

    READ MORE: How much does it cost to leave the workforce to care for a child? A lot more than you think.

    Many women in these jobs enjoy their work and find fulfillment and dignity in their labor. The satisfactions in many jobs are clear: teaching young children, helping the elderly maintain independence, preparing food, making a home clean and orderly. But fulfillment doesn’t put bread on the table. It’s time that women get access to the full array of jobs in our economy and that they get paid what they are worth everywhere they work.

    The post Column: The economy undervalues ‘women’s work,’ and that needs to change appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Keith Scott family attorneys (L to R) Justin Bamberg, Charles Monnett and Eduardo Curry give a press conference, held after protests against the police shooting of Scott, in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. September 22, 2016. Photo by Jason Miczek/REUTERS

    Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray said on Wednesday that no charges would be filed in the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in September. Scott family attorneys Justin Bamberg, Charles Monnett and Eduardo Curry spoke to reporters after Scott was killed on September 22, 2016. Photo by Jason Miczek/REUTERS

    The police officer who fatally shot a black man in Charlotte, North Carolina in September will not face charges.

    Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray said on Wednesday that officer Brentley Vinson, who is also black, acted lawfully when he fired on Keith Lamont Scott.

    “It’s a justified shooting based on the totality of the circumstances,” Murray said.

    Scott’s death sparked days of protests that sometimes turned violent. Demonstrators said the shooting was unjustified and pointed to video that showed Scott walking backward before police fired.

    According to police reports, police were waiting at an apartment complex to serve a warrant to another individual when Scott drove up in his SUV.

    The officers said they saw Scott hold up a gun, so they ordered him to drop it. Police said Scott repeatedly ignored their commands.

    After the shooting, Scott’s wife said Scott didn’t have a gun in his hands and was instead reading book.

    Authorities said they did find a gun, which had been reported stolen in Gaston County, with Scott’s fingerprints and DNA. The district attorney said they did not find a book in the car.

    Murray said he consulted 15 other prosecutors who all agreed with his decision not to prosecute Vinson. None of the other officers on the scene will face charges either.

    Charles Monnett, an attorney for the Scott family, said on Wednesday that the decision “doesn’t end our inquiry” into the death.

    “We still have real questions about what decisions were made that day,” Monnett said, according to CNN.

    Justin Bamberg, another attorney representing the Scott family, said on Wednesday that it was “safe to say” that Scott had “a gun on person” during the shooting, CNN reported. But Bamberg said there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Scott was holding the weapon at the time he was shot.

    The police department is preparing for potential protests after the district attorney’s announcement.

    Vinson has been on administrative leave since the incident.. He has been with the department since July of 2014 and had no record of disciplinary actions prior to the shooting.

    The post No charges for Charlotte police officer who shot Keith Scott appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 19:  An East Harlem public housing complex is viewed on May 19, 2015 in New York City. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his 10-year approach to fixing New York City's ailing public housing authority in an appearance Tuesday at the at Johnson Houses Community Center in Harlem. The plan will call for exploring the development of underused housing sites with mixed-income development. In the plan, half of any new residential units would be for low-income families. The New York City Housing Authority has an annual budget of about $3 billion and provides housing for more than 400,000 residents.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    An East Harlem public housing complex in New York City. The Obama administration announced a final rule on Wednesday banning smoking from public housing nationwide. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    WASHINGTON — Smoking will be prohibited in public housing developments nationwide under a final rule announced Wednesday by the Obama administration.

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development has been encouraging local public agencies to enact smoking bans, and some 228,000 public housing units were already smoke-free. The new rule will expand the impact to more than 940,000 units.

    In announcing the ban, administration officials emphasized the dangers of secondhand smoke to children, saying it can increase the risk of asthma, ear infections, even sudden infant death syndrome.

    “Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, healthy home free from harmful secondhand cigarette smoke,” HUD Secretary Julián Castro said.

    The final rule prohibits lit tobacco products in all living units and indoor common areas, and all outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and administrative offices. The new rule gives public housing agencies 18 months to implement the ban.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the smoke-free policy will save housing agencies $153 million every year in repairs, preventable fires and health care costs. That amount includes $16 million in costs associated with smoking-related fires.

    “Protecting people from secondhand smoke saves lives and saves money,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. “No level of secondhand smoke exposure is safe, and the home is the primary source of secondhand smoke for children.”

    The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids applauded HUD’s actions, saying “this bold step” would reduce smoking among groups that suffer the most from tobacco-related death and disease. The organization said HUD also should have gone further and applied the ban to electronic cigarettes, though local housing authorities are permitted to do so.

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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a campaign event at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center in Jacksonville, Florida U.S. November 3,  2016.   REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTX2RT6V

    President-elect Donald Trump signaled on Wednesday that he would separate himself from his businesses when he takes office. Photo by Carlo Allegri/REUTERS

    WASHINGTON — Rep. David McKinley has sold his West Virginia engineering and architecture firm, but it still bears his name — and that earned the Republican congressman a rebuke from the House Ethics Committee.

    President-elect Donald Trump has built an international property management, real estate and branding business around his name. There appears to be no consequence for that.

    When it comes to ethics, not all government employees are regulated equally. What’s a serious matter for a second-term congressman with a small business has no equivalent for a president with a multibillion-dollar empire.

    The government’s legislative and judicial branches are governed by well-established rules, but there’s far less clarity about what a president can and cannot do. Conflict of interest provisions are generally looser, though Democrat Jimmy Carter, Republican George W. Bush and many other recent presidents took care to separate themselves from their businesses.

    Trump tweeted Wednesday that he would announce next week his plans to step back from his company while he is president. He wrote that “legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations.”

    Many serious questions remain: Will he retain an ownership stake? Will, as top aide Kellyanne Conway suggested, his adult children own and operate the business? If they do take over the Trump Organization, will they continue to be involved in Trump’s administration, as they have been?

    Spokesmen for Trump’s transition and the Trump Organization have not provided details.

    While Trump develops his plan, ethics lawyers and good-government groups are reviewing laws, past cases and best practices — as well as issues of who would even have the standing to call out a president for possible conflict of interest violations.

    When it comes to ethics, not all government employees are regulated equally.

    As Danielle Brian, executive director of the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, put it, “We’re researching things that hadn’t even been considered before.”

    “We have never had a president with these enormous business conflicts domestically and globally,” said Norman Eisen, who served as President Barack Obama’s first White House ethics czar. “What’s more, we’ve never had a president who seems to insist on breaking the precedent set by every previous president for at least four decades of doing a true blind trust or its equivalent.”

    Eisen and Richard Painter, who held an equivalent position under Bush, wrote in a joint statement Wednesday that it’s not enough for Trump to simply step away from company operations.

    “Without an ethics firewall that is set up at once and continues into the administration, scandal is sure to follow,” they wrote.

    Self-policing has been common in recent presidencies, as well as in the legislative and judicial branches.

    Congress’ ethics rules — and the bodies that police them — all stem from its ability to regulate itself. That was the case with McKinley, who violated a provision that a fiduciary business such as an architecture firm is barred from using the name of a government employee such as a congressman.

    Lawmakers “are attuned to views of the voters and perception of undue conflicts,” said Andrew Herman, a Washington attorney who specializes in congressional ethics. “That’s why they’ve tended to have stringent ethics rules and committees to enforce them.”

    Trump has broadly asserted that he is not hemmed in by conflict of interest laws. “The law is totally on my side, meaning the president can’t have a conflict of interest,” Trump told The New York Times last week.

    Herman and other attorneys say that while the president and vice president are exempt from the federal conflict of interest statute, the country’s founders drew a bright line at accepting foreign gifts.

    That ban is captured in an antique-sounding part of the Constitution called the emoluments clause.

    It could pose a problem for Trump because he does business all over the world. Even his domestic operations, such as his new hotel at the Old Post Office building in Washington, could trip him.

    Arthur Hellman, an ethicist at the University of Pittsburgh, said he does not believe any U.S. court, much less the Supreme Court, has ever interpreted the emoluments clause. “There is nothing that sheds much light on questions raised by foreign officials giving something or engaging in activities that could be construed as emoluments to Trump or his businesses.”

    However, a violation might be difficult to challenge in court, Hellman said. “It’s hard to imagine anyone would have standing,” he said. Other legal experts have said that perhaps a business competitor would have the right to litigate.

    At Democrats’ request, the Congressional Research Service recently put out three pages of guidance on what rules “might technically” apply to the president.

    Among them is the emoluments clause, a prohibition on employing relatives, and bribery provisions.

    Another sticky issue: Trump’s potential conflicts haven’t been fully illuminated.

    As a candidate, he filed financial disclosures as required by federal law, including assets of more than $1.4 billion and debt of at least $265 million. He has separately boasted that his net worth is $10 billion

    But unlike all recent major party presidential candidates, he did not make public his tax returns, shielding from view the full scope of his business entanglements.

    It’s also uncertain whether Trump will file a new disclosure of his wealth within the first year after he takes office in January, as previous presidents have done, or wait until required by law, in is May 2018.

    Such quandaries thrust the Republican-led Congress into an important watchdog role.

    Few Republicans have raised red flags. Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican and frequent Trump critic, tweeted last week that “it’s certainly a big deal” if Trump has contracts with foreign governments, but few others have offered that view.

    Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said he wants to give Trump a chance to work things out. “He hasn’t even been sworn in yet, Chaffetz said Tuesday on Fox News.

    The post Why conflict of interest rules apply differently to the president appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A 2016 analysis University of Washington researchers and funded by NASA found that the timing of the sea ice break-up and freeze-up is changing in all areas in a direction that is harmful for polar bears. Photo by Mario Hoppmann/via NASA

    A 2016 analysis University of Washington researchers and funded by NASA found that the timing of the sea ice break-up and freeze-up is changing in all areas in a direction that is harmful for polar bears. Photo by Mario Hoppmann/via NASA

    There is a special planet in all of the universe. It is the only known planet to host life and, as the astronomer Carl Sagan famously observed, everyone who has ever lived, all the knowledge ever known, everything anyone has ever loved lives on this incredibly small planet in the vastness of the cold, uncaring universe.

    So why would we want to know anything about how that planet — the planet we call Earth — works? No less an authority than Pope Francis pointed out this week that there has never been such a clear need for science to safeguard this world, particularly from climate change. But turning a blind eye to Earth is exactly the argument being made by two advisors on space policy to President-elect Donald Trump. Instead of “politically correct environmental monitoring,” former Congressman Robert Walker and economist Peter Navarro argue that NASA should get back to exploring deep space.

    READ MORE:The most important issue the election forgot

    Of course, the law that established NASA back in the good old days — the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 — called for the fledgling agency to “contribute materially to…the expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space.” That was point (1) by the way.

    So turning a blind eye to the only atmosphere known to support life as we know it would seem to fly in the face of the ideas that once made America great.

    The 2015 Antarctic ozone hole area was larger than the continent of North America, based on research by NASA and NOAA. Photo by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

    The 2015 Antarctic ozone hole area was larger than the continent of North America, based on research by NASA and NOAA. Photo by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

    In addition, the atmosphere as we know it is undergoing great changes. Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air we all breathe have surpassed 400 parts-per-million, up from 300 ppm or so just a short century ago, one among many reasons that scientists suggest we are living in a new geologic time, dubbed the Anthropocene. A change of 0.01 percent may not seem like much but such a shift has been enough to end ice ages in Earth’s past.

    We now live in an unnatural world, we’d best keep an eye on it.

    Of course, the end of ice on Earth is another thing we won’t be able to monitor from space if NASA stops using satellites to look at our home. The GRACE satellites have revealed just how quickly Greenland’s ice sheet is melting. The new GOES satellite will enable better weather prediction, but why would we want NASA to help monitor hurricanes barreling down on American shores? Landsat has been providing detailed surface data for decades now, the kind of detail employed by Google Earth but also by American farmers to help manage growing crops. Who needs that?

    NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder instrument is able to peel back cloud cover to reveal 3-D data of a storm's water vapor content, information that can be used to improve weather forecast models. Photo by NASA/GSFC

    NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder instrument is able to peel back cloud cover to reveal 3-D data of a storm’s water vapor content, information that can be used to improve weather forecast models. Photo by NASA/GSFC

    In fact, NASA’s Earth Observing System now provides more than a billion different types of data to everyone from scientists to urban planners, according to its own Office of the Inspector General, not least of which is improving weather forecasts. As the weather gets weirder thanks to global warming, that capability seems more important than ever.

    Of course, the end of ice on Earth is another thing we won’t be able to monitor from space if NASA stops using satellites to look at our home.

    The view from space reveals much that some might prefer to keep hidden, like air pollution or the rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic. But as Trump said in his interview with The New York Times: “Clean air is vitally important.” The view from space can help us clear the air and also remind us of the planet-sized scale of our impacts, which have become pervasive and permanent like the microscopic soot left behind by all our fossil fuel burning.

    The northernmost Antarctic Peninsula, viewed from the northeast aboard the IceBridge research aircraft on an Oct. 17, 2016, flight toward the mission's inshore survey line in the western Weddell Sea. Photo by NASA/John Sonntag

    The northernmost Antarctic Peninsula, viewed from the northeast aboard the IceBridge research aircraft on an Oct. 17, 2016, flight toward the mission’s inshore survey line in the western Weddell Sea. Photo by NASA/John Sonntag

    It may be that Trump has other ideas than those espoused by his space policy advisors. But to ensure that civilization does not prove a mere blip in the long rock record of Earth’s history, the new Trump administration should be sure to keep a careful watch on our only planetary home. Just as looking in the mirror can reveal our own flaws and strengths, looking back at the planet can offer an important reality check. We now live in an unnatural world, we’d best keep an eye on it.

    The post Column: Our planet will suffer if Trump shutters NASA Earth science appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Free Trade - Country Flags

    Only 24 percent of countries in the world have constitutions that specifically prohibit discrimination or guarantee equal rights for persons living with a disability. Photo by Yagi Studio/Getty Images.

    Next month marks the ten-year anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a watershed treaty adopted by the United Nations in 2006. Since then, the CRPD has been ratified by more than 168 countries and territories worldwide in an effort to protect the fundamental rights of all persons with disabilities.

    There are over 1 billion people across the world living with some form of disability — that’s 15 percent of the global population. But a new study shows that, one decade after the milestone human rights treaty was adopted, many nations have significant work to do in fulfilling their commitments to the treaty.

    The analysis, by the WORLD Policy Analysis Center at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, found that just 24 percent of countries in the world have constitutions that specifically prohibit discrimination or guarantee equal rights for persons living with a disability.

    The report, to be released on Friday, takes a far-reaching look at global efforts to enact constitutional provisions based on education, employment, healthcare and overall equal rights for people living with a disability.

    At 1 p.m. EST on Friday, December 2, PBS NewsHour will host a Twitter chat to discuss the report, the treaty’s 10th anniversary, and the barriers that remain for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities around the world.

    Joining us for this discussion will be Dr. Jody Heymann of the WORLD Policy Analysis Center team (@WPolicyCenter), Shantha Rau Barriga of Human Rights Watch (@ShanthaHRW), Jeff Meer of Handicap International (@Jeff_HIUS), and disability rights journalist David M. Perry (@Lollardfish). Join in using the hashtag #NewsHourChats.

    The post Twitter Chat: How do constitutions address the fundamental rights of persons with disabilities? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    From the Brexit, to the recent U.S. election of Donald Trump, voters across the world are rejecting candidates and policies in support of globalization. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    From the Brexit, to the recent U.S. election of Donald Trump, voters across the world are rejecting candidates and policies in support of globalization. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    Globalization is under attack. The electoral victory of Donald Trump, the Brexit vote and the rise of an aggressive nationalism in mainland Europe and around the world are all part of a backlash to globalization.

    In each instance, citizens have upset the political order by voting to roll back economic, political and cultural globalization. Support for Brexit came in large part from those worried about their jobs and the entry of immigrants. Similarly, the Midwest of the U.S. – the industrial heartland hurt by global competition – was the linchpin of Donald Trump’s victory.

    But what exactly are these globalizations and why the discontent? A deeper examination of global integration sheds some light on how we got here and where we should go next.

    The rise of the globalization agenda

    The roots of today’s global economic order were established just as World War II was coming to end. In 1944 delegates from the Allied countries met in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to establish a new system around open markets and free trade.

    New institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and a precursor to the World Trade Organization were established to tie national economies into an international system. There was a belief that greater global integration was more conducive to peace and prosperity than economic nationalism.

    The foundations of global economic integration, such as the creation of the International Monetary Fund in 1945, were laid after World War II as an alternative to economic nationalism and as a means to promote peace and prosperity. Photo by Flickr user SA

    The foundations of global economic integration, such as the creation of the International Monetary Fund in 1945, were laid after World War II as an alternative to economic nationalism and as a means to promote peace and prosperity. Photo by Flickr user SA

    Initially, it was more a promise than reality. Communism still controlled large swaths of territory. And there were fiscal tensions as the new trade system relied on fixed exchange rates, with currencies pegged to the U.S. dollar, which was tied to gold at the time. It was only with the collapse of fixed exchange rates and the unmooring of the dollar from the gold standard in the late 1960s that capital could be moved easily around the world.

    READ MORE: Column: The truth about trade agreements – and why we need them

    And it worked: Dollars generated in Europe by U.S. multinationals could be invested through London in suburban housing projects in Asia, mines in Australia and factories in the Philippines. With China’s entry onto the world trading system in 1978 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, the world of global capital mobility widened further.

    Global transfer of wealth

    While capital could now survey the world to ensure the best returns, labor was fixed in place. This meant there was a profound change in the relative bargaining power between the two – away from organized labor and toward a footloose capital. When a company such as General Motors moved a factory from Michigan to Mexico or China, it made economic sense for the corporation and its shareholders, but it did not help workers in the U.S.

    Freeing up trade restrictions also led to a global shift in manufacturing. The industrial base shifted from the high-wage areas of North America and Western Europe to the cheaper-wage areas of East Asia: first Japan, then South Korea, and more recently China and Vietnam.

    The U.S. and Western Europe saw a rapid deindustrialization as China and other countries ramped up manufacturing, offering lower production and labor costs to multinational corporations. Photo by scobleizer/flickr

    The U.S. and Western Europe saw a rapid deindustrialization as China and other countries ramped up manufacturing, offering lower production and labor costs to multinational corporations. Photo by scobleizer/flickr

    As a result, there was a global redistribution of wealth. In the West as factories shuttered, mechanized or moved overseas, the living standards of the working class declined. Meanwhile, in China prosperity grew, with the poverty rate falling from 84 percent in 1981 to only 12 percent by 2010.

    Political and economic elites in the West argued that free trade, global markets and production chains that snaked across national borders would eventually raise all living standards. But as no alternative vision was offered, a chasm grew between these elites and the mass of blue-collar workers who saw little improvement from economic globalization.
    The backlash against economic globalization is most marked in those countries such as the U.S. where economic dislocation unfolds with weak safety nets and limited government investment in job retraining or continuing and lifetime education.

    Expanding free markets

    Over the decades, politicians enabled globalization through trade organizations and pacts such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, passed in 1994. The most prominent, though, was the European Union, an economic and political alliance of most European countries and a good example of an unfolding political globalization.

    It started with a small, tight core of Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. They signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957 to tie former combatants into an alliance that would preclude further conflicts – and form a common market to compete against the U.S.

    Over the years, more countries joined, and in 1993 the European Union (EU) was created as a single market with the free movement of goods, people and capital and common policies for agriculture, transport and trade. Access to this large common market attracted former Communist bloc and Soviet countries, to the point where the EU now extends as far east as Cyprus and Bulgaria, Malta in the south and Finland in the north.

    READ MORE: Column: How to help workers laid low by trade — and why we haven’t

    With this expansion has come the movement of people – hundreds of thousands of Poles have moved to the U.K. for instance – and some challenges.

    The EU is now at a point of inflexion where the previous decades of continual growth are coming up against popular resistance to EU enlargement into poorer and more peripheral countries. Newer entrants often have weaker economies and lower social welfare payments, prompting immigration to the richer members such as France and the U.K.

    Cultural backlash

    The flattening of the world allowed for a more diverse ensemble of cultural forms in cuisine, movies, values and lifestyles. Cosmopolitanism was embraced by many of the elites but feared by others. In Europe, the foreign other became an object of fear and resentment, whether in the form of immigrants or in imported culture and new ways.

    Marine Le Pen, head of France’s National Front party, one of several nationalist political parties gaining power in Europe. Photo by blandinelc/flickr

    Marine Le Pen, head of France’s National Front party, one of several nationalist political parties gaining power in Europe. Photo by blandinelc/flickr

    But evidence of this backlash to cultural globalization also exists around the world. The ruling BJP party in India, for example, combines religious fundamentalism and political nationalism. There is a rise of religious fundamentalism around the world in religions as varied as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.

    Old-time religion, it seems, has become a refuge from the ache of modernity. Religious fundamentalism held out the promise of eternal verities in the rapidly changing world of cultural globalization.

    There is also a rising nationalism, as native purity is cast as contrast to the profane foreign. Across Europe from Bulgaria to Poland and the U.K., new nationalisms have a distinct xenophobia. Politicians such as Marine Le Pen in France recall an idealized past as a cure for the cultural chaos of modernity. Politicians can often gain political traction by describing national cultural traditions as under attack from the outside.

    Indeed, the fear of immigration has resulted in the most dramatic backlash against the effects of globalization, heightening national and racial identities. In the U.S. white native-born American moved from being the default category to a source of identity clearly mobilized by the Trump campaign.

    Reclaiming globalization

    Globalization has now become the catchword to encompass the rapid and often disquieting and disruptive social and economic change of the past 25 years. No wonder there is a significant backlash to the constant change – much of it destabilizing economically and socially disruptive. When traditional categories of identity evaporate quickly, there is a profound political and cultural unease.

    The globalization project contains much that was desirable: improvements in living conditions through global trade, reducing conflict and threat of war through political globalization and encouraging cultural diversity in a widening cultural globalization.

    READ MORE: Yes, trade with China took away blue-collar jobs. And there’s no getting them back.

    The question now, in my view, is not whether we should accept or reject globalization but how we shape and guide it to these more progressive goals. We need to point the project toward creating more just and fair outcomes, open to difference but sensitive to cultural connections and social traditions.

    A globalization project of creating a more connected, sustainable, just and peaceful world is too important to be left to the bankers and the political elites.


    This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

    The post Column: Why there’s a backlash against globalization and what needs to change appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. musician Bob Dylan performs during on day 2 of The Hop Festival in Paddock Wood, Kent, June 30, 2012. REUTERS/Ki Price/File Photo - RTSS2AY

    Bob Dylan chose not to attend a White House meeting with President Obama and other American Nobel Prize winners on Wednesday. REUTERS/Ki Price/File Photo – RTSS2AY

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama welcomed four recipients of the Nobel Prize to the White House on Wednesday. Singer Bob Dylan wasn’t among them.

    Obama used the Oval Office meeting to send a reminder that America is unique in its ability to attract talent from all around the world to study at its universities.

    Obama met with Duncan Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz, laureates of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics; Oliver Hart, laureate of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences; and Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, laureate of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

    Obama said their work would lead to new products and technology, some of which can’t be anticipated yet, and would inspire future scholars and scientists.

    Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for literature but won’t be attending the prize ceremony. He may travel to Stockholm next year and might give his Nobel Lecture then.

    There was much speculation going into the day about whether Dylan would skip the White House meeting.

    But White House spokesman Josh Earnest said during Wednesday’s press briefing that “unfortunately, for those of you wondering, Bob Dylan will not be at the White House today, so everybody can relax.”

    Earnest says Dylan didn’t give a reason, but he noted that Dylan and the president had met previously and “the president enjoyed meeting him.”

    In 2012, Obama presented the singer-songwriter with a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    The post Bob Dylan skips Nobel Prize meeting with President Obama appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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