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

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    U.S.President-elect Donald Trump gestures to people in the lobby after speaking to the news media at Trump Tower in New York, U.S., January 13, 2017. outine media access to the White House could be a thing of the past under Donald Trump's presidency. Photo By Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    U.S.President-elect Donald Trump gestures to people in the lobby after speaking to the news media at Trump Tower in New York, U.S., January 13, 2017. Photo By Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    WASHINGTON  — Routine media access to the White House could be a thing of the past under Donald Trump’s presidency, with top officials of the incoming administration saying Sunday that they’re exploring more spacious options nearby.

    Vice President-elect Mike Pence cast the idea as a response to increased interest in the new administration, saying they’re “giving some consideration to finding a larger venue on the 18 acres in the White House complex to accommodate the extraordinary interest.”

    Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Pence said the move is intended to reflect the Trump administration’s “commitment to transparency, to free and independent press.”

    The news, first reported Sunday by Esquire Magazine, raised alarms that it was just the opposite — an end to the longstanding tradition of daily press briefings in the White House, a reflection of Trump’s contentious relationship with the news media.

    More than 250 journalists packed Trump Tower last week for the celebrity businessman’s first full-fledged news conference since July, billed as a forum to discuss his separation from his business but which quickly turned into a wide-ranging free-for-all about U.S. intelligence, Russian hacking and, eventually, some of Trump’s policy plans after he takes office on Jan. 20.

    The president-elect’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, echoed Pence’s remarks Sunday, saying the news conference demonstrated the need for more space since the briefing room accommodates only about 50 people.

    “If we have more people involved instead of less people involved, wouldn’t that be a good thing?” Priebus said on ABC’s “This Week.” He mentioned the idea of moving press conferences to the Executive Office Building next door to the White House. They’re currently held in the White House’s West Wing, which houses offices for White House staff.

    Theodore Roosevelt first created a little area on the White House premises to accommodate journalists so they wouldn’t have to wait out in the cold monitoring presidential activity.

    Over the years, presidential briefings have relocated a number of times to accommodate interest. They have been held in the president’s White House office, the larger Indian Treaty Room in the Executive Office Building and the State Department auditorium, where there was space for the more than 200 reporters covering President John F. Kennedy.

    President Richard Nixon created the media briefing room and reporters’ offices by covering over the White House’s indoor swimming pool.

    The White House Correspondents’ Association board said Sunday it “will fight to keep the briefing room and West Wing access to senior administration officials open,” in a statement from association president Jeff Mason. He was meeting with incoming Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer to discuss the matter.

    “We object strenuously to any move that would shield the president and his advisers from the scrutiny of an on-site White House press corps,” Mason said.

    The post Trumps considers limiting media access to the White House appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at a news conference at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany on Jan. 16. Photo by Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at a news conference at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany on Jan. 16. Photo by Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

    BERLIN — European Union nations reacted with surprise and defiance Monday to comments by President-elect Donald Trump, who said in an interview that he believed NATO was “obsolete” and that more member states would leave the 28-nation EU.

    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, speaking ahead of an EU foreign ministers meeting, said Trump’s view on NATO and criticism that allied members weren’t paying their fair share has “caused astonishment.”

    His French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault added that the best response to such an interview was simple — Europeans uniting.

    In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Trump’s positions have been “long known” but added: “I think we Europeans have our fate in our own hands.”

    “I’m personally going to wait until the American president takes office, and then we will naturally work with him on all levels,” she told reporters.

    Though Trump had made similar comments during his tempestuous election campaign, a repetition of the same points still came as a bit of a surprise since his choice for defense secretary, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, stressed his support for the alliance in his U.S. congressional confirmation hearings last week.

    Trump’s views, in an interview with German daily Bild and The Times of London, contradict Mattis, Steinmeier said.

    Trump indicated he was indifferent to whether the EU stays together or not, a sharp break from the Obama administration, which encouraged British people to vote to remain in the EU in the June referendum.

    “I believe others will leave … I do think keeping it together is not gonna be as easy as a lot of people think,” Trump said in the interview.

    The British exit from the EU would “end up being a great thing,” he said.

    British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it’s “very good news that the United States of America wants to do a good free trade deal with us and wants to do it very fast.”

    Trump was less kind to German industry officials, saying car manufacturers including BMW could face tariffs of up to 35 percent if they set up plants in Mexico instead of in the U.S. and try to export the cars to the U.S.

    Such tariffs would make “the American auto industry worse, weaker and more expensive,” Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s economy minister, told Bild.

    Gabriel suggested Europeans exhibit more self-confidence in dealing with Trump. “We’re not weak and inferior,” he said.

    BMW said Monday that the company would stick to its plans to produce cars in Mexico.

    “The production is aimed at the world market,” BMW said, according to the German news agency dpa. “Therefore the plant in Mexico will complement … the production plants in Germany and China.”

    ___

    Casert reported from Brussels. David Rising contributed from Berlin.

    The post EU nations react with surprise, defiance to Trump remarks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President-elect Donald Trump applauds as his choice for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks at a rally in December. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    President-elect Donald Trump applauds as his choice for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks at a rally in December. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Charter school advocate Betsy DeVos is widely expected to push for expanding school choice programs if confirmed as education secretary, prompting pushback from teachers unions. But Democrats and activists also are raising concerns about how her conservative Christian beliefs and advocacy for family values might impact minority and LGBT students.

    The wealthy Republican donor’s financial and political clout will be on display on Tuesday as she goes before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has members who have benefited from her largesse. Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said in a statement that DeVos “will work tirelessly to ensure every child has access to a high quality education.”

    Critics say the choice of DeVos belies President-elect Donald Trump’s promises to “drain the swamp” and bring new faces to politics and policy in Washington.

    “He is basically proposing a bunch of people to be in the Cabinet that are political insiders with lots of money and have used that money to buy politicians and DeVos definitely fits that description,” said Carmel Martin, executive vice president of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank.

    DeVos has long taken pride in her political and financial activity.

    “I have decided to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence,” DeVos wrote in a 1997 column in Roll Call. “Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return.” She said wants to foster a conservative governing philosophy and respect for traditional values.

    DeVos, a former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman, heads the American Federation for Children, an advocacy group that promotes school choice and voucher programs. She and members of her family have given millions of dollars to Republican candidates over nearly three decades, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    She grew up in Holland, Michigan, one of four children of Edgar Prince, an engineer who made a fortune in an auto parts company. She met her husband Dick DeVos, an heir to the Amway marketing empire, while attending a Christian liberal arts college. Dick DeVos unsuccessfully ran for governor of Michigan in 2006. During that campaign he suggested that schools should teach intelligent design, a theory that holds that life was created by a higher force, along with evolution. The couple has four children, none of whom attended public school.

    Her brother, Erik Prince, founded Blackwater, a private security company that the U.S. employed in the Iraq war and came under scrutiny when its guards were prosecuted in the deaths of 14 civilians in Baghdad in 2007.

    DeVos has donated to the political campaigns of at least four committee members, according to the financial questionnaire she filed with the committee. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, top Democrat on the committee, said she worries about DeVos’ “extensive financial entanglements and potential conflicts of interest.”

    In response, Trump’s transition team said teachers unions have donated to Democratic senators on the committee and DeVos has given money to members in both parties who support her education goals. Republicans also point out that Penny Pritzker was a major donor to Democrats and President Barack Obama before he picked her as commerce secretary.

    DeVos spent the past two decades advancing charter schools — institutions that are run privately but financed with taxpayers’ money. Her husband started an aviation-oriented charter school in Michigan. She also has pushed for providing low-income families with publicly funded vouchers to enable them to send their kids to private and religious schools of their choice.

    Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said DeVos has an obvious antipathy to public schools and has “fought against any regulation that protected against cronyism and corruption.”

    DeVos supporters counter that injecting healthy competition into the public school system will be to everyone’s benefit. “The ability to shop around for education options that work best for your child is really key here,” said Mary Clare Reim, a research associate with the conservative Heritage Foundation.

    Labor unions and civil rights groups also question whether DeVos’ traditional beliefs may prevent her from championing the interests of LGBT students and other minorities.

    DeVos has donated to a number of conservative groups, including Focus on the Family, which calls homosexuality a “sin” and supports “sexual orientation change efforts.” Her record prompted five openly gay senators to write to the committee saying she’s repeatedly tried to undermine LGBT rights.

    But Greg McNeilly, a long-time aide to DeVos, said DeVos supports same-sex marriage and last donated to Focus on the Family many years ago, when the group was involved in character-building for children and “absolutely never” supported conversion therapy. McNeilly is gay.

    ___

    Associated Press writer Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.

    The post DeVos to face questions over schools, conservative activism appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft has discovered a 10,000-kilometer-long (6,000-mile-long) wave in the cloudy atmosphere of Venus. Photo by ©Planet-C

    Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft has discovered a 10,000-kilometer-long (6,000-mile-long) wave in the cloudy atmosphere of Venus. Photo by ©Planet-C

    Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft has discovered a 10,000-kilometer-long (6,000-mile-long) wave in the cloudy atmosphere of Venus, according to results published Monday in Nature Geoscience.

    The readings were taken over a few days in December 2015, shortly after the orbiter arrived at Earth’s sister planet. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) scientists behind the discovery believe an “atmospheric gravity wave” caused the bow-shaped distortion.

    Gravity waves happen when a fluid or gas is disturbed from its balanced state — or equilibrium — by external forces. In this case, the stationary wave was likely caused by wind pushing clouds in the lower atmosphere over a mountain range, the researchers reported. (Winds blast clouds around Venus at approximately 225 miles per hour.) The “wave” shape formed as gravity tugged at and settled the clouds back into their original equilibrium east of the mountains.

    On Earth, a similar windy effect creates ocean waves at the beach and occurs with clouds on mountain ranges as well — though not to the gigantic extent as seen on Venus.

    Sequential images of a stationary, bow-shaped wave in the clouds of Venus    The cloud-top temperatures show stationary nature of the bow relative to the surface topography. The blue and yellow lines show the evening and morning terminators. Photo by ©Planet-C

    Sequential images of a stationary, bow-shaped wave in the clouds of Venus. The cloud-top temperatures show stationary nature of the bow relative to the surface topography. The blue and yellow lines show the evening and morning terminators. Photo by ©Planet-C

    While the high winds and turbulent conditions of the planet’s upper atmosphere have been well documented, the lower atmosphere is less understood. Missions to the surface of Venus, such as the Soviet Venera probes, were only able to withstand the high pressure for an hour. The researchers propose that the huge wave started in the lower atmosphere and propagated to the upper clouds, where Akatsuki recorded it.

    The findings suggest that the Venusian atmosphere is far more complex than previously thought. The researchers found that temperatures within the bow were much higher than outside. The team is uncertain whether this atmospheric feature is common or if it is unique to this set of Venusian mountains.

    Akatsuki launched in 2010 from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan and is currently the only satellite orbiting Venus. The last orbiter, the European Space Agency’s Venus Express, ended its mission and fell gently into the planet in early 2015.

    The post Hang 10, Venus! Huge wave spotted in planet’s cloudy atmosphere appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The U.S. Capitol is seen on Jan. 15 during a rehearsal for the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    The U.S. Capitol is seen on Jan. 15 during a rehearsal for the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to clog the nation’s capital for Donald Trump’s inauguration and a major demonstration the day after. How many will actually arrive to party or protest is an open question.

    Officials estimate that 800,000 to 900,000 people will be present Friday for the inauguration, a celebration that takes over the city, closing roads, taxing the city’s Metro transit system and making getting around difficult. Trump himself has promised “massive crowds,” but just what that will mean is unclear.

    Hundreds of thousands of others are expected Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington.

    Trump showed he could draw crowds during the campaign, but his supporters weren’t so quick to make plans to be in Washington for his inauguration.

    Elliott Ferguson, the president of Destination DC, the city’s convention and tourism bureau, said that before Election Day hotels had more events tentatively planned for a Hillary Clinton victory than a Donald Trump one. And when Trump won, the “level of enthusiasm” and demand for hotel rooms did not immediately reach that of past recent inaugurations, he said.

    “No one’s phones were ringing” on the day after the election, he said.

    Things started to pick up after New Year’s, but some hotels have cut back minimum-night stays from four nights to two. Some hotels are only 50 percent full, though higher-end hotels apparently have more bookings, he said.

    “It’s been much, much slower than anyone would have anticipated for a first-term president,” he said.

    Saturday’s march has helped drive more reservations, he said.

    “The moment it was confirmed it was happening in the city our hotels were seeing reservations take place,” he said.

    City planners are betting that Trump’s inauguration is more like President Barack Obama’s second inauguration in 2013, which drew more than 800,000, rather than Obama’s first in 2009, which drew 1.8 million people. But while officials have experience and historical data to draw on to estimate crowds for Friday, guessing how many people will show up for Saturday’s demonstration is harder. Women’s March on Washington organizers said in applying for a demonstration permit that they expected 200,000 people.

    Christopher Geldart, the District of Columbia’s homeland security director, thinks the march will draw more than that. Some 1,800 buses have registered to park in the city on Saturday, which would mean nearly 100,000 people coming in just by bus, Geldart said. Amtrak trains into and out of the city are also fully booked on that day, Geldart said.

    “Usually when I look at things like that, that tells me we’ve got a pretty substantial crowd coming in. That leads me to believe we’re definitely above the 200,000-person mark,” Geldart said.

    In contrast, approximately 400 buses have registered to park in the city on Inauguration Day, said Terry Owens, a spokesman for the District Department of Transportation, though he said that number is growing daily.

    For their part, march organizers are trying to get a headcount by asking people who plan to participate to fill out a questionnaire on their website. That will help ensure they have the right number of things like portable toilets, medical tents and food trucks, said Janaye Ingram, who is handling march logistics. More than 100,000 people have already registered using the form, Ingram said.

    Rally, a New York City-based transportation company that connects people with bus rides to events, has organized many of the buses coming to Washington for Saturday’s march. The tally includes buses from more than 200 cities in 26 states. The company’s president and co-founder, Siheun Song, said the northeastern portion of the United States has “largely become sold out of motor coaches” for the day. Demand is so great the company is using school buses to bring people to the march from Maryland, she said.

    “In six years of doing business we’ve never seen buses get sold out so quickly,” she said.

    For its part, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which runs the city’s rail and bus system, is planning an all-day effort to move people on Inauguration Day. The system is opening at 4 a.m. — an hour earlier than normal — and running rush hour service for 17 hours until 9 p.m. But the system hasn’t seen a need to change its usual Saturday operations. The rail system will open at 7 a.m., its normal time for the day, and run on a regular Saturday schedule.

    ___

    Associated Press reporter Ben Nuckols contributed to this report.

    The post Parties, protests to take over DC for Trump’s inauguration appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of the Federal Bureau of Investigation building in Washington, D.C. by Rich Clement/Bloomberg

    File photo of the Federal Bureau of Investigation building in Washington, D.C. by Rich Clement/Bloomberg

    WASHINGTON — The wife of the Orlando nightclub shooter, who was extensively questioned by federal agents in the days after the massacre, was arrested by the FBI on Monday in connection with the attack, a U.S. law enforcement official told The Associated Press.

    The official said Noor Salman was taken into custody Monday morning in the San Francisco area and is facing charges in Florida including obstruction of justice. A Twitter post from the United States attorney’s office in Orlando said Salman will make her initial appearance Tuesday morning in Oakland, California.

    The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Noor Salman moved to the San Francisco area after her husband, Omar Mateen, was killed in a shootout with SWAT team members during the June 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

    FBI agents repeatedly questioned Salman in the aftermath of the shooting about whether she had advance knowledge of her husband’s plans. She told The New York Times in an interview published in November that she was unaware that Mateen planned to shoot up the nightclub.

    He was the only shooter, and by the time a three-hour standoff between Mateen and law enforcement had ended, 49 patrons were killed and another 53 people required hospitalization.

    Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in a 911 call to emergency officials during the standoff. He also made a series of Facebook posts and searches before and during the attack.

    The Times first reported on the arrest.

    Last month, Salman filed a petition in a California court to change the name of the son she had with Mateen.

    The post U.S. official says Orlando shooter’s widow has been arrested appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Credit: Ed Lederman/PEN America

    The “Writers Resist NYC” rally, on the steps of the New York Public Library. Credit: Ed Lederman/PEN America

    On Sunday, thousands of writers and artists rallied across the country in defense of freedom of speech and to protest the political discourse of President-elect Donald Trump. Their mission, according to organizers, was to “send a message to an incoming presidential administration that has laid bare its hostility toward the press and other free expression norms.”

    The main event, held on the steps of the New York Public Library in New York City, was organized by PEN America, a nonprofit that works to defend freedom of expression. There, authors Jacqueline Woodson and Andrew Solomon, singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash, playwright and activist Eve Ensler, and poets Rita Dove, Robert Pinsky, and Monica Youn, and other writers, delivered readings and performances. Other Writers Resist events took place in Tuscaloosa, Fresno, Helena, Denver, Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington D.C., among other locations.

    Youn read her poem, “A GUIDE TO USAGE: MINE,” which she wrote in response to the election. She recently shared that poem with the PBS NewsHour, and also spoke to arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown in a series of emails. You can read her poem and that email conversation below.

    Writers Resist protesters march to Trump tower. Credit: Ed Lederman/PEN America

    “Writers Resist” protesters march to Trump tower. Credit: Ed Lederman/PEN America


    A GUIDE TO USAGE: MINE

    By Monica Youn

    A. Pronoun

    My.

    Be-
    longing

    to me.

    how should I define the limits of my concern the boundary between mine and not-mine the chime of the pronoun like a steel ring cast over what I know what I name what I claim what I own the whine of the pronoun hones its bright edges to keenness because there is power in the categorical that prides itself and plumps itself and proliferates till there is no room in here for anything but power till there is no air in here but there would be no need for air if you could learn to breathe in whatever I breathe out

    B. Noun 1

    A pit or tunnel in

    the earth
    from which
    precious

    stones or ores or coal
    are taken

    by digging
    or by other methods.

    because the earth does not gleam with the shine of the noun to dig into the earth is imperative to use my fingers or else to fashion more rigid more perdurable fingers that cut or delve or sift or shatter because we are more evolved than animals because to mine is not to burrow because the earth is not for us to live in because the earth is not precious in itself the earth is that from which what is precious is taken the earth is what is scraped away or blasted away or melted away from what my steeltipped fingers can display or sell or burn

    C. Noun 2

    A device
    intended

    to explode
    when stepped upon
    or touched,

    or when approached
    by a ship, vehicle,

    or person.

    my devise my device redefined by intent so thinskinned this earth is untouchable a sly simulacrum of innocence concealing an infinity of hairtrigger malice the cry of the noun sealed in a concentric sphere that sheaths its lethal secret in silence unapproachable it sings its unspeakable harvest in this field I have seeded with violence

    D. Verb

    To dig
    away or otherwise remove

    the substratum
    or foundation
    of.

    To sap.
    To ruin

    by slow degrees or secret means.

    to dig is to build dark dwellings of negative space to knit a linked network of nothing the seams of the seemingly solid unravel the itch of erosion the scratch of collapse each absence the artifact of specific intention an abscess a crater a honeycomb of dead husks the home of the verb is founded on ruin the crime of the verb hollows out prisons and graves the rhyme of the verb tunnels from fissure to fracture from factory to faction from faultline to fate this foundation is equal parts atom and emptiness this fear invades fractally by rhizome and root what cement could salvage this crumbling concrete should I pledge my allegiance to unearthing or earth


    Credit: Joanna Eldridge Morrissey

    Monica Youn. Credit: Joanna Eldridge Morrissey

    JEFFREY BROWN: Tell me first about the poem: I understand it was a commission — is that unusual for you? How did it come about, and why did you want to take it on?

    MONICA YOUN: In response to the election, The Boston Review is publishing a chapbook of 40 poems on political disaster — 20 new and 20 previously published, with a forward by U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, a man for whom I have boundless respect. They reached out to me in late November to contribute a poem. I also read the poem at the Writers Resist rally at the New York Public Library, organized by Erin Belieu and sponsored by PEN America.

    I’d never written a poem on commission, much less one in response to current events (except for a one-off effort as the daily NewsPoet for NPR’s All Things Considered, which was more an exercise than a serious poem). My work is certainly political — among other topics my most recent book of poems Blackacre traces the stigma surrounding female infertility back to our system of inherited property, and outlines the slippery slope from nursery comforts to racial hierarchy. But I’m not used to responding to particular current events — especially one so new, so raw, and so huge.

    But I felt that I’ve allowed myself to get a little too fastidious — too comfortable in my comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong — even the most navel-gazing, most abstruse artistic work has inherent political value. If we allow political exigency to supercede the difficult, the nuanced, the individualistic, then the enemies of truth have already won. But I think that poets practice certain skills that we bring to the fray — skills involving the analysis and strategic deployment of language. For me, adopting a more public voice is something concrete that I can contribute to the pushback against the incoming administration, along with phone calls, donations, protests and other more direct forms of political activism. I’ll be interested to see how my more public voice changes and educates my more personal, lyric modes of writing.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Was the process of writing a commission different from your usual approach to writing poetry?

    MONICA YOUN: Mostly it was different because it didn’t allow me to turn away from a subject that terrified, confused, enraged and exhausted me. As with many of my friends, my reaction to the election has gone through various phases — numb despair, frantic activism, desperate avoidance. Every morning I would wake up in a panic over a different priority — refugees, immigration, global conflict, race relations, climate change, economic justice, reproductive rights, queer identity, constitutional safeguards. But the poetry commission forced me to look for a handle, an angle or perspective on what seemed all-encompassing.

    Also, just as a matter of time, three weeks is a very short fuse for me to go from conceptualizing a poem to a completed draft. Usually, once I’ve decided to write something in a particular way, I start gathering material and adding it to the pot — like supersaturating a solution. Not until I sense that the poem is ready to precipitate out — usually months or years later — do I sit down and try to write it. This time, I didn’t have that luxury — given the end-of-semester and holiday rush, as well as an increased burden of political activism, I only had two free afternoons in which to write the poem. I had decided on the “mine” concept several days earlier, but I was on the clock to complete two sections per day. And I finished the draft only 15 minutes before I submitted it, before I had a chance to let it sit for a while or to solicit feedback.

    “As a poet, my political work has been more critical, more interested in exposing how deeply rooted our inequities, inhibitions, and malignancies may be.”

    JEFFREY BROWN: “Gathering material and adding it to the pot.” Gathering how – as in ‘research’? Material from where? I’m interested here in the construction of your poems. And then: why is a poem the best or right way to put across this ‘material’?

    MONICA YOUN: I don’t know if I’d dignify what I did here with as serious a term as “research.” More just a kind of rooting around. In this poem I started with the definitions and etymology of the word “mine,” of course, and then did about an hour’s worth of on-line research into strip-mining procedures, the construction of landmines, and the history of military sappers. Usually I’d let this process play out a little longer, get a little farther flung, but this time I was on the clock.

    I wouldn’t think that a poem – or any other mode of persuasion — is ever necessarily “the best or right way to put across” an argument or point of view. As a lawyer and poet, I’ve written legal briefs, congressional testimony, cable news talking points, op-eds, speeches, letters, law review articles, essays, blog posts, and tweets. And poems, of course. Each genre has its own norms of persuasion, its intended audience, and its means of dissemination, and anyone who considers herself an advocate – whether poet, lawyer, or citizen – would be silly to limit herself to just one means.

    What makes this particular “material” – an interrelated series of catastrophes snowballing in the wake of this election – appropriate for a poem, rather than another genre, is its mode of persuasion: a logic that relies as much on sonics as on sense. I’ve always been an etymology geek, and etymologically speaking, the multiple definitions of the word “mine” are pure coincidence – a Germanic possessive pronoun and a Latinate word for ore or metal that, as English evolved, came to sound the same and to be spelled the same.

    As a lawyer, I could never use this similarity as the main driver of an argument that we should think of the acquisitive, exclusionary impulse as the common denominator for environmental depredation, military technology, and societal disintegration. As a lawyer, the historical fiction of the etymology would be fatal to its force: for lawyers, historical roots are not mere provenance, they are precedent – what conveys legitimacy to the sovereign state’s exercise of power.

    But poets (and politicians) are more attuned to the non-semantic shadows cast by language – the echoes and resonances of particular words that have persuasive force beyond the level of truth or falsity. My former boss had been President Clinton’s chief speechwriter, and we had terrific conversations analyzing, for instance, the prosody of Lincoln’s second inaugural address. Engaging the nonrational aspects of language allows persuasion to slip past the defenses of the rational mind, to take effect at the level of emotion or sensation.

    JEFFREY BROWN: This poem seems to posit the kind of public / private split you speak of – “the boundary between mine and not-mine”, the various meanings of ‘mine’, and more. You even wonder at the end whether to “pledge my allegiance to unearthing or earth.” If I’m reading this correctly, it makes me wonder if you feel, or how much you feel, this duality in your own life, the various ‘hats’ you’ve worn as lawyer and poet? And to what extent this determines your view of the role of poetry today.

    MONICA YOUN: I left the dichotomy between “unearthing” and “earth” open-ended because I wanted readers to be able to apply this duality to their own experiences. But for me, as you point out, the distinction maps onto the various roles I’ve played and my strategies for moving forward at this point in our political reality and in my own life. As an election lawyer and activist, I was very much the pragmatist policy wonk – pushing for incremental change where wholesale reform appeared infeasible. But as a poet, my political work has been more critical, more interested in exposing how deeply rooted our inequities, inhibitions, and malignancies may be. And I’ve seen many of my peers follow different paths in the wake of this election: some argue that we must do all that we can to ameliorate the situation and to work for change within the parameters of the existing system; others claim that the foundations of the republic are so flawed, its institutions so corrupt, that critique is the only ethically and aesthetically feasible response.

    I don’t think I have a better sense of “the role of poetry” after the election than I ever have had – I don’t feel that I have the right to speak for other artists or activists, only to consider my own imperatives. I know that personally, in the immediate aftermath of the election, I had an reflexive distrust of any form of comfort – a sci-fi novel, a glass of wine, cuddling my baby son – all of it felt like a drug, like irresponsible escapism enabled by privilege. But I can hardly extrapolate from my personal sense of culpability to a societal prescription – certainly science fiction, chardonnay, and snuggly babies should continue to exist. And the same goes for poetry – to devalue the beautiful, the recondite, the introspective would be to lose sight of what we are fighting for in the first place.

    Even as our post-election landscape offers the opportunity and the necessity to deepen and broaden our modes of engagement as citizens, it offers us a similar imperative to rethink and retool our practices as poets. But I couldn’t tell you now what form that will take for me, much less what form it should take for others.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Monica Youn, thank you very much.

    MONICA YOUN: Thank you for offering an outlet to me and to other poets.

    Listen to Youn’ read “A GUIDE TO USAGE: MINE” below.


    Monica Youn is the author of Blackacre (Graywolf Press 2016), which was named one of the best poetry books of the year by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Paris Review, and BuzzFeed. Her previous book Ignatz (Four Way Books 2010) was a finalist for the National Book Award. A former election lawyer, she currently teaches poetry at Princeton University and in the Sarah Lawrence and Warren Wilson MFA programs.

    The post As ‘writers resist’ Trump, an interview with a poet in protest appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A driver displays Uber and Lyft ride sharing signs in his car windscreen in Santa Monica, California, U.S., May 23, 2016. About a half dozen ride-hailing firms have rushed into Texas tech hub Austin after market leaders Uber and Lyft left the city a little over a monthago in a huff over municipal requirements that they fingerprint drivers. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files - RTX2HEL3

    A new study found that there were roughly twice the number of cancellations for customers who used African American-sounding names when requesting a ride in Boston than those using white-sounding names. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Making Sense/NBER logo

    Each month, the NBER Digest summarizes several recent NBER working papers. These papers have not been peer-reviewed, but are circulated by their authors for comment and discussion. With the NBER’s blessing, Making Sen$e is pleased to feature these summaries regularly on our page.

    The following summary was written by the NBER and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Making Sen$e.


    The advent of the ride-sharing industry is rapidly changing the marketplace for transportation. New services are crowding the traditional taxi industry, which is subject to an array of local regulations, including strict anti-discrimination laws designed to prevent taxi drivers from offering differential services to potential passengers from different age groups, racial groups or other groups. A new study explores whether drivers in the ride-sharing industry differentiate among potential customers.

    Their results suggest that drivers for ride-sharing services are prone to discriminate against African Americans, making blacks wait longer for rides when they can identify the race of the ride-hailer and frequently cancelling rides when alerted to African American-sounding names.

    In “Racial and Gender Discrimination in Transportation Network Companies,” Yanbo Ge, Christopher R. KnittelDon MacKenzie and Stephen Zoepf report the findings of field experiments in two cities, Seattle and Boston. Their results suggest that drivers for ride-sharing services are prone to discriminate against African Americans, making blacks wait longer for rides when they can identify the race of the ride-hailer and frequently cancelling rides when alerted to African American-sounding names. The disparities are particularly pronounced for black males. The researchers also find that ride-sharing drivers take female passengers on longer rides.

    rideshare

    In each of the cities in which they fielded their experiment, the researchers measured the performance of ride-sharing services via field experiments in which research assistants — whites and blacks, males and females — were randomly dispatched into the field, at varying times of the day and to varying locations, to order, wait for and ride in ride-sharing vehicles. The research assistants carefully monitored and recorded predetermined performance metrics for every ride they took, including how long it took drivers to accept ride assignments, how long passengers had to wait until drivers arrived and how long and expensive rides were for each passenger. In all, research assistants conducted nearly 1,500 individual rides in Seattle and Boston. In each city, the research assistants summoned rides from several ride-sharing firms.

    In Seattle, the main finding was that African Americans had considerably longer waiting times for rides — as much as 35 percent more.

    In Seattle, the main finding was that African Americans had considerably longer waiting times for rides — as much as 35 percent more. In Boston, the researchers could measure the cancellation rates of the drivers from some services after they had preliminarily accepted ride assignments. They modified their experiments so that some students hailing rides used “white-sounding” names while others used “African-American-sounding” names. They found more frequent cancellations — roughly twice the level for white-sounding names — when the students used African American-sounding names. Male passengers requesting a ride in low-density areas, such as in the country or suburbs, were nearly four times more likely to have their trips canceled when they used an African American-sounding name than when they used a white-sounding name.

    The researchers note in conclusion that changing the information about potential customers that ride-sharing services provide to their drivers might affect some of the patterns that they observed.

    — Jay Fitzgerald, National Bureau of Economic Research

    The post Do ride-sharing apps discriminate against black customers? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    From the Atlanta Constitution, Oct 4. 1912. Image courtesy Patrick Phillips

    From the Atlanta Constitution, Oct, 4. 1912. Courtesy Patrick Phillips

    Monday on the NewsHour, watch Duarte Geraldino’s report from Forsyth County on the history that inspired Patrick Phillips to write “Blood at the Root.”

    As I walked the hills of Forsyth County, Georgia, my eyes fixated on the ground, I imagined the fright two teenagers would have felt being led to their death more than a century ago. I was there to get a deeper understanding of how one small corner of America is trying to heal nearly a century after banishing almost all of its African-American residents.

    For context, understand that I’m a New York Afro-Latino. My guide through the Georgia woods was Patrick Phillips, a white author who grew up in Forsyth. We had met months earlier at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in Vermont, where he told me he’d spent the past 10 years collecting remnants and documenting evidence of Forsyth’s original community of free African-Americans. Most of it, he explained, has been erased, burned, built over, or  divided up. Together we tried to find the spot where two African-American teenagers —  Ernest Knox, 16, and Oscar Daniel, 18 — were killed on Oct. 25, 1912.

    The two were part of a group of African-Americans arrested for allegedly taking part in a sexual assault on an 18-year-old white woman named Mae Crow. One of them was so small that a special noose was designed for him lest he be decapitated and splash blood on any of the picnickers gathered to watch the pair die. Today even some of Crow’s descendants say the teens may have been innocent.

    “The last thing [they] saw before black sacks were placed over their heads,” Phillips wrote, “was a hillside dotted with thousands of white faces—young and old, rich and poor, men, women, and children.”

    Phillips recently published a highly praised book on the subject, Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America.” Their deaths sparked a period of so-called “racial cleansing” in the county.

    “The night riders won,” Phillips said. “It worked. They succeeded in their goal of driving out the entire black community.”

    A crowd near the gallows where Knox and Daniel were hung, with Sawnee Mountain in the distance, Oct 25, 1912. Photo courtesy Patrick Phillips

    A crowd near the gallows where Knox and Daniel were hung, with Sawnee Mountain in the distance, Oct 25, 1912. Courtesy of Jimmy E. Anderson

    Probable miscarriage of justice aside, for me the big questions were, how could thousands of people bring their families to witness the hangings of these teens? How could a community look the other way as their neighbors were pushed out? After meeting with Phillips and spending time in the Georgia hills, the answer was clear: The crowds didn’t see the boys as teens, they didn’t see black residents as neighbors.

    The picnickers instead were convinced they saw a threat to their lives and the embodiment of a wave of misfortune befalling Forsyth at the time.

    As Phillips and I crossed the terrain, he explained how, in 1912, this part of Georgia was experiencing extreme economic stress. White farmers were losing their lands to foreclosure. There was a growing perception of free blacks as a financial threat to whites. And in the midst of all that, several young politicians were trying to make names for themselves. Fears of a race war were common at the time, Phillips said as we drove by a home that was built on land where a black church had been burned decades earlier.

    That fear survived through several generations. But in 1987, everyone, it seemed, broke their silence. Black leaders organized a march through the county. White supporters of the racial ban vocally challenged them, allowed themselves to be recorded using the N-word, photographed waving nooses in the air. Even Oprah Winfrey got involved, taking her show on the road to Forsyth. The world took note and so did many of the most influential members of the community, who were concerned that Forsyth’s reputation — that unspoken ban on black people — was actually a different kind of noose.

    How could thousands of people bring their families to witness the hangings of these teens? How could a community look the other way as their neighbors were pushed out?

    “It was a soul-searching moment for this community,” James McCoy, CEO and president of the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce told me.  “Much of that was driven by the business community,” he said, which recognized that racism and violent xenophobia jeopardize economic growth.  Chamber members took steps to welcome large businesses explicitly bound by civil rights laws.

    Walk through Forsyth today, and one can see how much has changed in the last 30 years.  In 1987, fewer than 40,000 people lived in Forsyth; today it is home to roughly 200,000.  Though still largely white, it has a vibrant and growing South Asian community, the number of Latinos is on the rise, and, according to the chamber of commerce, African-Americans account for more than 4 percent of the total population —  that’s thousands of people of color.  Census data shows that Forsyth is now one of the wealthiest counties in America, home to big businesses and many large homes. In 2016, Daniel Blackman, a Democrat, became the first African-American to run for state office. He wanted to represent Forsyth in the Georgia House of Representatives. He lost, yet the very act of running — of allowing himself to be such a visible African-American in a community known for lynching black men — is a sign of how far Forsyth has come.

    We never did find the exact spot where those two teenage boys were hung. It has been 104 years; the physical and cultural landscapes are different now. So many trees and beautiful homes now cover up most of the locations suspected of being their death site. About the only thing easy to find was the sense that something really bad happened here, something from which America can learn.

    The post Column: In search of the spot where two black teens were killed appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama holds up a Chicago Cubs jersey received from player Anthony Rizzo, Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts (left) and President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein (right) as the rest of the team watches at the White House on Jan. 16. Photo by Mike Theiler/Reuters

    President Barack Obama holds up a Chicago Cubs jersey received from player Anthony Rizzo, Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts (left) and President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein (right) as the rest of the team watches at the White House on Jan. 16. Photo by Mike Theiler/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is celebrating the World Series champion Chicago Cubs before he leaves office.

    On what usually is a sleepy federal holiday at the White House, Cubs players filed into the White House East Room on Martin Luther King Day for Obama’s final ceremony for a championship sports team. Even sweeter for Obama is that the Cubs hail from his hometown.

    The president has a home in Chicago and is a White Sox fan. He rooted for the Cubs after the Sox failed to reach the playoffs.

    Obama invited the Cubs hours after they won the series in November, asking on Twitter if the team wanted to visit before his term ends on Friday.

    The Cubs won their first World Series title since 1908 by defeating the Cleveland Indians.

    — Written by Darlene Superville, Associated Press

    The post Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A demonstrator holds a "Love Trumps Hate" placard during a candlelight vigil against President-elect Donald Trump's election, in Lafayette Park, near the White House, in Washington, D.C. Mike Theiler/ Reuters

    A demonstrator holds a “Love Trumps Hate” placard during a candlelight vigil against President-elect Donald Trump’s election, in Lafayette Park, near the White House, in Washington, D.C. Mike Theiler/ Reuters

    A day after the presidential election, a senior editor from the popular music blog, Genius, noticed a disturbing trend in his social media feeds. Users from all across the country were sharing their personal experiences of being subject to hate.

    “I felt like I just had to do something about it,” Insanul Ahmed said. Ahmed compiled many of these personal accounts into a now-viral Twitter moment called “Day 1 in Trump’s America.” The collection featured instances of bigotry, sexism, Islamophobia and anti-immigrant bias. Reports included race-based verbal abuse, Nazi graffiti spray-painted in schools and a string of pride flags burned in an LGBTQ community. While The PBS NewsHour could not independently verify these user experiences, Buzzfeed confirmed that most post-election reports of hateful incidents were authentic.

    The FBI recorded more than 5,800 hateful incidents involving 7,100 victims in 2015.

    According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there have been more than 1,000 incidents of hateful intimidation or harassment nationwide between election night and Dec. 12, which marks the latest available data. “Many of the incidents include a direct mention of [President-elect Donald Trump] either by someone yelling it before assaulting a minority or spray-painting it on a car,” says Mark Potok, the organization’s senior fellow.

    In a Nov. 13 interview on 60 Minutes, CBS reporter Lesley Stahl asked Mr. Trump to respond to reports of racial slurs and personal threats against African Americans, Latinos, Muslims and gays by some of Trump’s supporters.

    “I am so saddened to hear that,” Trump said. “And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it– if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.”

    One incident included 18-year-old Tayz Enriquez, a high school student in Greeley, Colo. Her Facebook post, which also went viral, described an incident in which a classmate allegedly harassed her and other Latinos in the classroom while chanting “Build the Wall” and “Trump 2016.” The classmate’s chants became directed at her when she tried to intervene, she said. In a phone interview with The PBS NewsHour, authorities for the Weld County School District 6 acknowledged Enriquez’s account, adding that the white, male student has since apologized.

    “It was embarrassing; I felt humiliated,” Enriquez said, recalling the incident in a phone interview. “I don’t think there are words to describe how it feels knowing the people in your classroom, even those who have been your friend, can turn on you because of your culture, telling you to leave the country you were born in. I’m just as much a part of America as anyone else.”

    Potok says most of the post-election accounts, including Enriquez’s experience, will likely never be classified as a hate crime, which is different from hateful incident. The FBI defines hate crimes as criminal offenses “against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.” Many of the post-election incidents don’t qualify simply because they’re not criminal — it isn’t illegal to shout racial slurs, joke about or threaten deportation or distribute hateful pamphlets. These actions are protected under the First Amendment. As The NewsHour also reports, even among the incidents that are criminal, such as vandalism or assault, prosecution is rare.

    2016 marks the first year that the Southern Poverty Law Center has tracked hateful incidents immediately following a presidential election — both criminal and otherwise. But Potok estimates by the sheer volume of reports that 2016 cases far surpass the estimated 200 incidents following the country’s election of the first black president, Barack Obama in 2008 — when African-American victims were largely targeted. The number of recognized hate groups has also risen since then.

    “These recent incidents are a continuation of the deep-seated racism and xenophobia we’ve been witnessing over the last eight years,” he said.

    An FBI report released in November counted more than 5,800 hateful incidents involving 7,100 victims in 2015. Those numbers are voluntarily submitted by local and state police departments through the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program database. But according to Benjamin Wagner, former U.S. Attorney for California’s Eastern District who has prosecuted dozens of hate crimes, these reports still don’t present the full picture of how widespread hate is in the United States.

    “Many more incidents are likely never reported due to factors such as an unknown suspect or intimidation of the victim,” he said.

    “We can’t move forward without a dialogue. But we can’t even have a dialogue if people won’t recognize what are the real, everyday obstacles people of color across this country are facing.”

    While the majority of recent hateful incidents will never be prosecuted due to what Wagner calls a “broad scope of protection for hateful speech under the First Amendment,” he says the increase in reports could encourage more people to come forward. “It can be an educational tool, especially in towns that are not politically disposed to look at minority communities with sympathy,” he said. “There’s a lot of denial about it.”

    Raising awareness is why Ahmed says he created his Twitter Moment in the first place. “We can’t move forward without a dialogue,” he said. “But we can’t even have a dialogue if people won’t recognize what are the real, everyday obstacles people of color across this country are facing.”

    Since then, Ahmed says he’s directly engaged with social media users, ranging from productive dialogues to hostile rejections that these incidents are important or real.

    Some reports of hate-based violence have turned out to be untrue. At least two incidents that garnered nationwide attention have since been debunked. Police in Louisiana confirmed that a student who reported an anti-Muslim assault lied about her story. And authorities in New York City say a young woman who claimed to have her hijab forcibly removed while on the subway also made up her account. But Ahmed says there are still too many verified incidents to underplay the problem.

    “This is real. This is the country we live in,” he said. “People aren’t making this up, and until we acknowledge it and do something about it, it will just get worse.”

    The post Are hateful outbursts rising? Since the election, some are keeping track appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A new tool on Instagram serves as a self-help service for users who are dealing with an eating disorder or are at risk for self-injury. Image courtesy Instagram

    Cheese, pasta, butter, jam, “liquid calories.” In one of her first Instagram posts, 14-year-old Ashleigh Ponder lays out all the foods she is afraid to eat. It was September 2013, and the beginning of her effort to document her struggle with anorexia — and her recovery — on Instagram.

    Ponder says she owes her life to Instagram. At her lowest weight, she was just over 79 pounds. Now at 154 pounds, 17-year-old Ponder — under the username @balancednotclean — has become somewhat of a healthy-lifestyle role model, promoting healthy eating and exercise to the more than 23,700 followers.

    Ponder is among countless individuals who have turned to social media to document eating disorders and other kinds of self-harm. On Instagram alone, the hashtag, #anorexia has more than 4.6 million posts. #suicide has more than 5.7 million.   

    Instagram recently joined parent company Facebook in taking steps to help its users suffering from eating disorders. The initiative borrows from a tool created by Facebook in 2015 to address self-harm and suicide. Instagram is the first social media platform to specifically address eating disorders.  

    With its new tool, Instagram allows users to report posts that they feel suggest self-harm. Instagram then reviews the flagged posts.  (The company says there are hundreds of employees working around the clock, seven days a week, to field the reports.) If a post is deemed to qualify as “self-injury,” a message is sent to the reported user that offers three suggested options: “Talk to a friend,” “Contact a helpline” and “Get tips and support.”

    Instagram has created two different pop-up windows, one for general self-injury and one specifically for eating disorders. Windows for both have the same three header messages but the content is geared toward either general self-injury or eating disorders.

    Users who seem to be at risk of self-injury are led to a page that suggests options: “Get outside,” “Be creative,” “Soothe your senses” and “Just relax.” Users who may be facing eating disorders are led through a series of images paired with phrases — a photo of a sunset reads “Take three deep breaths;”  a picture of two cats looking out a window says “Invite someone to watch a movie.”

    Instagram offers calming messages to users who have been flagged for possible eating disorders.

    Instagram offers calming messages to users who have been flagged for possible eating disorders.

    A message is also sent to the person who reported the concern, letting him or her know Instagram has reached out.

    Certain search terms like “anorexia,” “suicide” and “cutting” will also trigger the messages. But this feature seems fairly basic. Posts such as #killme (with over 2 million) and #killmenow (with over half a million) do not trigger the warning.

    Janis Whitlock, director of Cornell University’s Research Program on Self-Injurious Behaviors, has studied the interaction between mental health and social media-linked behavior.  She says it’s not uncommon for people suffering from self-injury to write about it via social media.

    “One of the things that’s abundantly clear is that people will disclose in social media and internet-based venues things that a lot of other people don’t know —  maybe nobody in their life knows,” she said. She commends Instagram for attempting to help its users suffering from self-injury behaviors. “I applaud [Instagram] for making an effort to really effectively interact, to identify and capture people at the moment of their crisis,” she said.

    But how effective is Instagram’s new tool at really at addressing severe mental health disorders like anorexia and suicide?

    Whitlock says the tool is well thought-out; that giving people a moment to pause and breathe is often an effective way of preventing self-harm.

    “For someone who self-injures, often times if they can just pause the urge for even just 15 minutes, then the urge to injure will pass,” she said. “I would imagine for some subset if you provide these suggestions in just the right moment that it would get them through an urge.”

    But Whitlock says she worries about user fatigue. “I also wonder what would happen if I’m a poster and I see this flow multiple times if it’ll start to just loose kind of efficacy with me,” she said. “So my one hypothesis would be that it would have short-term spikes in effectiveness because of the novelty effect.”

    Ponder had similar concerns. “If someone is really trying and they keep getting reported for struggling, that can be really demotivating,” she said, noting any follower can report, including people who may not have any understanding of that person’s illness, history or experiences.

    Terry Sandbek, a clinical psychologist specializing in eating disorders, says the tool is certainly better than nothing. It will at least help users not feel so alone, he says, which he noted was a “huge” problem among those with eating disorders.

    As for the specific treatment, he says it’s right out of the psychology handbook. “It sounds like they’re taking a page out of the DSMV playbook in terms of emotional regulation,” he said. But he noted “it’s pretty thin,” and “a very simple start.” He also said it would probably only have the potential to influence users who are already interested in recovery. 

    Sandbek and Whitlock both expressed a wish to see Instagram conduct research on how the tool is working, and adapt it based on the findings.

    Instagram needs “to be very cautious and see where this going to go and what some of the results are going to be,” said Sandbek. And he suggested the company use “pretty strict monitoring and grabbing data to see what’s happening so that it doesn’t rebound in the wrong direction.”

    Dr. Nancy Zucker, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University who collaborated with Instagram on the eating disorders tool,  says Instagram initially came to her for advice about censoring content. Instead they collaborated on an interactive self-help tool.

    Does censorship work as a prevention strategy? Research has been mixed, says Zucker. For people who are involved in communities focused on eating disorders, “it’s not a simple story. They’re getting support from other people, they feel very lonely, you know, there’s no one who understands what they’re going through.”

    So on Zucker’s suggestion, Instagram collaborated on a different approach. “We wanted to be able to offer a moment of peace to these people that are suffering in the hopes that by having an emotional connection with someone out there in the world, that they might not even know, that might just give them a few seconds to stop and breathe and maybe get one step closer to enacting change,” said Zucker.

    It does appear that Instagram has censored some hashtags — #selfharm and #selfinjury noticeably have “no posts.”

    To develop the tools, Instagram says it worked closely with experts and organizations including the National Eating Disorders Association, University of Washington’s Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention program, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Save.org, Samaritans, BeyondBlue and Headspace, as well as with people who suffer from self-injury. Facebook cites the same organizations in creating its 2015 tool.

    Nicky Jackson Colaco, director of public policy at Instagram, says the platform is committed to increasing safety. “This idea that Instagram can truly be an innovator when it comes to safety and well being is something that is incredibly important from high-up levels of the company … So I think 2017 will be a year where we actively move that mission forward,” she said.

    Although some psychologists see Instagram’s new tool as “a good start” but somewhat thin, Zucker sees social media reporting as the future of mental health treatment. “As a mental health professional, you get overwhelmed by the reach that they have in the Instagram community. So if you can get a positive message out there, it is such a powerful medium to help people,” she said. “I think that it’s kind of where mental health treatment needs to go.”

    The post Can Instagram’s new tool really help users who self-harm? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People protest against U.S. President-elect Donald Trump as electors gather to cast their votes for U.S. president at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. December 19, 2016.

    People protest against U.S. President-elect Donald Trump as electors gather to cast their votes for U.S. president at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. December 19, 2016.

    Since the election, prominent musicians, artists, poets and other writers have spoken out in protest of the rhetoric and proposed policies of President-elect Donald Trump. On Sunday, thousands mobilized for “Writers Resist” events across the country. But while less visible, there are also conservative writers who, often quietly, disagree.

    Among them is formalist poet Michael Astrue, a recipient of the Howard Nemerov Sonnet and Richard Wilbur awards, who goes by the pen name “A.M. Juster.” Though Juster does not write overtly political poetry, politics has in many ways dominated his life.

    For decades, Juster, as Michael Astrue, worked as a public servant at the highest levels, holding a position as associate counsel to two Republican presidents (Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush), then as general counsel to the Department of Health and Human Services, and finally as commissioner of the Social Security Administration from 2007-2013.

    Until an article in the religious journal, First Things, outed him in 2010, Juster kept his life as a poet private, seeing no good outcome from publicizing it. These days, he is more open. PBS NewsHour called Juster at home in Belmont, MA, to talk about the writer and artist protests, why poets with conservative leanings are often less visible, and whether he thinks poetry can spur change.

    When asked about the writer protests, Juster said it brought to mind a 1970 poem by former U.S. Poet Laureate Richard Wilbur, called “For the Student Strikers.” You can read that poem, and the conversation with Juster, below.


    For the Student Strikers
    By Richard Wilbur

    Go talk with those who are rumored to be unlike you,
    And whom, it is said, you are so unlike.
    Stand on the stoops of their houses and tell them why
    You are out on strike.

    It is not yet time for the rock, the bullet, the blunt
    Slogan that fuddles the mind toward force.
    Let the new sound in our streets be the patient sound
    Of your discourse.

    Doors will be shut in your faces, I do not doubt.
    Yet here or there, it may be, there will start,
    Much as the lights blink on in a block at evening,
    Changes of heart.

    They are your houses; the people are not unlike you;
    Talk with them, then, and let it be done
    Even for the grey wife of your nightmare sheriff
    And the guardsman’s son.


    Courtesy of Michael and Laura Astrue.

    Courtesy of Michael and Laura Astrue.

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: Why the Wilbur poem? When did you first read it, and why does it resonate with you right now, as writers are protesting?

    A.M. JUSTER: I think in college is when I first found this poem. It’s a poem I’ve come back to many times, having been involved in politics and government off and on for 40 years. I’ve come back to it at times when people, including me, needed to pull back, and people have to talk less violently. At different times in the election, I’ve come back to it again. I read it on the air in Boston during a particularly ugly time in the campaign. Sometime in December, I also posted it online on a poetry forum, Eratosphere. When I posted it, there was a very uncivil assault on the poem and me, and I thought, well, this is a poem about being open minded and trusting each other; this is exactly what this poem is talking about.

    It’s a somber, stately poem, a little sober in its language, but it has a sense of loftiness. It’s shaped a little bit in the form of a classical sapphic. Four line stanzas, and the fourth line is half the length of the other lines. There is both a gentleness and a force to it.

    It is one of my favorite poems about the political process, and from a poet I admire. Richard Wilbur is not a conservative poet. He is a poet from the far left, and he wrote it during the Vietnam era for the student strikers. The backstory is that he was asked to write a poem by one of these radical newspapers, and it wasn’t what they expected or wanted, so they crinkled it up and put it in the wastebasket. But after some consideration, they went and got it out.

    It’s a poem that is a plea for patience and political civility, and not succumbing to violence that was part of the times. That violence was much more real and palpable than a lot of people realize, they were scary times.

    “It’s a somber, stately poem, a little sober in its language, but it has a sense of loftiness…There is both a gentleness and a force to it.”

    I’m guessing it felt to Wilbur very much like a poem of the moment in 1969, but that’s the thing about the great poems. Even though they are spurred by the circumstances of the moment, if they speak to you, then they will speak to other people again.

    [Now, with the writers protests,] I think it’s a great thing that we have the First Amendment, and can express our opinions. I don’t know whether it will make much difference or not. I think they have every right to express their opinions. I guess my main concern is that I’d like to see it done with more civility and grace. I don’t think answering uncivil statements or actions with equally uncivil statements or actions is a good thing.

    Poets are consumed with the outcome of this election. I’m on Twitter, and follow mostly critics, poets and editors. At some point after Trump, I noticed that the volume and intensity had started increasing very rapidly. I don’t like looking at my feed anymore, because there is so much politics and so little poetry.

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: Is there a reason so few prominent poets are conservative?

    A.M. JUSTER: I think part of the reason, the explanation for this, is that poetry has become much more of an academic enterprise, and the poets that become prominent and recognized and reinforce each other, are within academics. And the academy is increasingly progressive in its politics, and increasingly exclusionary. There are poets out there, actually quite a few, who are reasonably conservative in their politics, but you’re not likely to know about them.

    This has been the case since at least the 70s. My original plan was to go to graduate school in English. I was a state finalist for the Rhodes and Marshall, and other fellowships. For the Danforth Fellowship, a senior Yale administrator called me into her office and told me I would have won but they had “decided that people with my politics shouldn’t become academics.” And that was with me being moderate in politics — I was a Gerald Ford Republican then. So I decided not to beat my head against the wall, and went into law and government. The bias in top academic institutions was very bad in the 70s, but it’s only gotten worse.

    It’s not that there’s uniformity in the poetry community, it’s that there’s uniformity in the hierarchy. If you ask me to name somebody in the conservative poetry community who holds an academic appointment, maybe I could come up with a person, maybe. If you say, are there some terrific poets out there whose politics are conservative, I could name many. But they keep a low profile because to be conservative and a poet greatly limits the places you can get published.

    There is a lot of pressure in academia to tow certain ideological and political lines, and people in academia who are independent thinkers are afraid to express countervailing feelings. I don’t think conservative poets think of themselves as part of a community. They think of themselves as scattered people who happen to write poetry.

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: Can you name a few conservative poets you admire?

    A.M. JUSTER: Jennifer Reeser is very interesting. I think she is one of the best of our Native American poets, and a translator of Ana Akmatova, who is maybe the second greatest Russian poet.Timothy Murphy in North Dakota, who is a strong Catholic and a gay libertarian. Bill Baer, who edited an anthology of conservative poets for the University of Evansville Press. Robert Crawford in New Hampshire, who won the prestigious Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, twice.

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: You used a pen name for quite some time. Why?

    A.M. JUSTER: Despite being somewhat of a public person my temperament is pretty private. Back then, I felt that in government and business it wasn’t going to help me to have what people considered a frivolous activity.  Theres also a real bias in poetry against people who don’t take low paying jobs. People who have jobs and success at a high level are seen as almost disreputable. This is kind of a turn from how it used to be: T.S. Eliot was a banker, Wallace Stevens was a vice president at a pretty high level.

    “To be conservative and a poet greatly limits the places you can get published.”

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: Have you ever written political poetry? Do you have any desire to now?

    A.M. JUSTER: Not very much. I think it’s hard to write effectively to the headlines. Probably the first successful poem I had, “Moscow Zoo,” which won the 1995 Howard Sonnet Nemerov Award, is in some sense a political poem. The poem came out of a report in the New York Times about how they were literally digging up bodies at the Moscow Zoo that no one knew were there. I found that very moving, and the opportunity for a good poem. Often a good poem can come out of something that is moving and you don’t know why. You sit down and it takes you places you didn’t expect. Sometimes you don’t have the distance and mood to write a poem, or you’re closed off from exploration. So to write a poem you have to sort of let it happen. With this poem it was more of a question of reading this and visualizing it and suddenly it became more tactile, and I kept thinking: Why are you so struck by this?

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: What do you see as the role of poetry? Do you think that poetry can spur change?

    A.M. JUSTER: Well, one of the things about being older, is that you start to realize that prose, particularly nonfiction prose, changes policy all the time, but fiction very rarely. Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” is an exception; that book changed agricultural policy, but it’s very rare.

    With poetry, I can’t think of a poem that I can honestly say has changed public policy. I think very political poetry generally is going to be a disappointment to the poet. It’s hard to look back and say any poem was a really successful poem from the point of view of changing public policy.

    What poetry does, is it it aims at changing people, changing the culture, and that’s part of the draw of it. It’s trying to make the world a better place, but not by any particular prescription.

    As in the Wilbur poem, he’s getting people to talk to each other in a more civil way. How people see the world, how people see themselves — poetry can change those things.


    A.M. Juster is the author of Longing for Laura (Birch Brook Press, 2001); The Secret Language of Women (University of Evansville Press, 2003); The Satires of Horace (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008); Tibullus’ Elegies (Oxford University Press, 2012); Saint Aldhelm’s Riddles (University of Toronto Press 2015); Sleaze & Slander: Selected Humorous Verse 1995-2015 (Measure Press 2016) and The Billy Collins Experience (Aldrich Press 2016). Forthcoming in 2017 will be The Elegies of Maximianus (University of Pennsylvania Press) and Milton’s Book of Elegies (University of Oklahoma Press).

    “For the Student Strikers” from COLLECTED POEMS 1943- 2004 by Richard Wilbur. Copyright (c) 1976, renewed 2004 by Richard Wilbur. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

    The post Poetic advice in a time of division: ‘Go talk with those who are rumored to be unlike you’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    On the right plate, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae is able to grow even in the presence of antibiotics. Photo by CDC

    On the right plate, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae is able to grow even in the presence of antibiotics. Photo by CDC

    A dangerous type of superbug has more tricks up its sleeves than we may be giving it credit for, a new study suggests.

    The researchers found that this class of bacteria, CREs — that’s short for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae — has more ways to evade antibiotics than have been currently identified, and that these bugs share their tricks readily across the families of bacteria that make up this grouping.

    Further, the authors suggest these bacteria may be spreading more stealthily than existing surveillance can detect.

    “You know the phrase ‘Shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted?’ The horse has not only bolted, the horse has had a lot of ponies, and they’re eating all our carrots,” said Bill Hanage, an infectious diseases epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and senior author of the study.

    Hanage and colleagues from Harvard and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard took an in-depth look at CREs recovered from patients in three Boston hospitals and a hospital in Irvine, Calif. Their findings are published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    READ MORE: A Nevada woman dies of a superbug resistant to every available antibiotic in the U.S.

    Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has dubbed CREs “nightmare bacteria.” That’s because they are resistant to many, and sometimes most, antibiotics, including carbapenems, an important class of last-resort drugs.

    They also have the capacity to transfer resistance genes from one family to the next — for instance from E. coli bacteria to Klebsiella pneumoniae. Think of it as gangs in a neighborhood teaching each other all their worst tricks.

    According to CDC estimates, CREs cause 9,300 infections a year in the US and 600 deaths. They vary in their ability to fend off antibiotics; a report last week revealed a woman in Nevada died last September from a CRE infection that could not be treated with the antibiotics available in the United States.

    “People are obviously concerned about CREs for very good reasons, as we see in the case of this lady who died in Nevada. They are very worrisome bacteria,” Hanage said.

    He and his coauthors wanted to take a closer look these bugs, so they studied the genetic sequences of 263 bacteria retrieved from the blood, urine, wounds, and respiratory tracts of patients in the four hospitals.

    They were looking for, among other things, whether these resistant bacteria were spreading from patient to patient in a hospital. If they were, the genetic sequences of two patients infected in the same hospital around the same time would look quite similar.

    READ MORE: Loopholes on animal antibiotics may undermine battle against superbugs

    Hanage said they didn’t find a lot of evidence of transmission, but they did see “a riot of diversity.” There were more specific families of bacteria represented among the CREs than they had expected. And there were additional surprises.

    A number of genes are known to give bacteria resistance to carbapenems. In fact, the names of those genes make up a veritable alphabet soup: KPC, OXA, NDM, VIM. But some of the bacteria didn’t carry those signature genes — and yet, they could not be vanquished by carbapenem drugs. Hanage said they still haven’t figured out what in their genes allows these bacteria to resist the drugs. “There are many different ways in which they can be resistant,” he said.

    An infection control expert at the CDC agreed. Dr. Alex Kallen wouldn’t comment specifically on the study — CDC scientists generally don’t comment on research they have not contributed to — but he suggested these bacteria have oodles of ways to overcome drugs.

    “There are probably hundreds of different mechanism combinations,” said Kallen, a medical officer in the CDC’s division of health care quality promotion.

    The fact that there wasn’t much evidence of transmission within hospitals raises other questions. How are the bacteria spreading? Are healthy people carrying them and transmitting them to others? Hanage said surveillance for these bacteria needs to be broadened.

    “While the typical focus has been on treating sick patients with CRE-related infections, our new findings suggest that CRE is spreading beyond the obvious cases of disease. We need to look harder for this unobserved transmission within our communities and health care facilities if we want to stamp it out,” he said.

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Jan. 16, 2017. Find the original story here.

    The post A stealthy superbug appears to be spreading in U.S. hospitals, study finds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A painting is seen on the U.S. Capitol walls. It is the work of recent high school graduate David Pulphus, and depicts his interpretation of civil unrest in and around the 2014 events in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    A painting is seen on the U.S. Capitol walls. It is the work of recent high school graduate David Pulphus, and depicts his interpretation of civil unrest in and around the 2014 events in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — A student’s painting that divided members of Congress for its depiction of Ferguson, Missouri, has been removed from its Capitol Hill display, this time perhaps permanently.

    Several Republicans had complained about the painting, which shows a pig in a police uniform aiming a gun at a protester, and even took down the artwork temporarily. The lawmakers argued that the painting violated rules for a national student arts competition by showing subjects of contemporary political controversy or of a sensationalistic or gruesome nature.

    In August 2014, a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson, setting off weeks of protests.

    Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers informed lawmakers late Friday that the painting would be removed. On Tuesday, with House lawmakers back home for the week, the painting was gone.

    The painting was among hundreds completed by high school students that are featured in a tunnel leading to the Capitol and had been hanging for months. But some conservative media outlets called for its removal and Republican lawmakers repeatedly took it down and returned it to Rep. William Lacy Clay’s office. Clay put it back up, saying its removal violated a constituent’s First Amendment rights to freedom of expression.

    That constituent, David Pulphus, co-wrote a column with Etefia Umana, published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that said they surely would have been arrested if they had dared to enter the Capitol and removed the statue of slavery advocate John C. Calhoun, a vice president and senator from South Carolina who served before the Civil War.

    Umana and Pulphus wrote that anger toward the painting was misplaced and fails to address critical issues pertinent to conditions in African-American communities.

    “Art imitates life, but no critic has asked the fundamental question the painting begs: Why would a young student with hope, promise and purpose perceive our community and the police in such a manner?” the pair wrote.

    The column concluded with: “David’s only comment is, ‘The art speaks for itself.’ It has spoken loudly. Now, who will protect American civilization, including our Constitution and democracy?”

    Clay called the decision arbitrary and insulting. He said the painting would have a “place of honor in my Capitol Hill office.”

    “This is now about something much bigger than a student’s painting. It is about defending our fundamental First Amendment freedoms which include the right to free expression; even when that creativity is considered objectionable by some, and applauded by others,” said Clay, who promised to seek a quick reversal of the decision.

    Ayers wrote a letter to Clay saying that he consulted with industry experts and reviewed the painting itself before determining that it didn’t comply with the House Office Building Commission’s prohibitions for the Congressional Arts Competition.

    Rep. David Reichert, R-Wash., said the painting hung in clear defiance of rules established for the arts competition and was a slap in the face to law enforcement officers. His letter to the architect of the Capitol initiated the painting’s removal.

    WATCH: A play that speaks to Ferguson’s tragedy and lets the audience speak back

    The post Student’s controversial painting of Ferguson removed from Capitol display appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Asthma inhaler. Photo by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

    A medical survey looked at 613 randomly-selected asthma patients who were receiving treatment across Canada and found 33 percent didn’t have the condition. Photo by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

    A third of asthma patients may not actually have the disorder, according to new research published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

    The researchers surveyed 613 randomly-selected asthma patients who were receiving treatment across Canada. They found that 203 of the patients – 33 percent of the survey – didn’t have the condition and were needlessly taking medications. Of the patients whose medical records could be accessed, the researchers found half had not been properly tested before being diagnosed.

    If someone has asthma-like symptoms, they may seek a physician to determine the cause, said Shawn Aaron, an asthma doctor at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute who led the study. These signs can include wheezing, chronic airway obstruction and shortness of breath, but they are not always asthma.

    “Without any testing, a physician might say ‘gee that sounds like asthma, here, take this inhaler,’” Aaron continued, but that’s not the way things should go.

    Medical guidelines call on doctors to request a spirometry report, which confirms how well a patient’s lungs are working, rather than simply relying on reported symptoms. These tests should happen before doctors hand out prescriptions, based on these guidelines.

    “But there are no regulations,” Aaron said. “Doctors ultimately have a lot of power to practice the way they want to.”

    Misdiagnosis, however, may not shoulder all the blame. Some of the survey patients may have had asthma that has since become inactive, but they have continued taking medicine.

    Canadian and American asthma treatment guidelines suggest that doctors reassess their patients’ symptoms periodically. If a patient’s asthma symptoms are under control, the physician could taper down treatment.

    “But in reality most doctors are not doing this,” Aaron said. Aaron himself admits to being part of group. Sometimes physicians assume that if a patient isn’t having health problems, their treatment must be working.

    Overdiagnosis, which occurs in a variety of medical fields, can have lasting negative impacts for asthma patients. For example, a Nova Scotia woman had to go to the emergency room after feeling fatigued and experiencing dangerously low blood pressure. Doctors discovered that her asthma treatment –inhaled steroids–had shut off her adrenal glands. She had never taken the appropriate tests to validate her asthma diagnosis.

    That story “highlights one of the side effects — that [these drugs] can suppress your own natural ability to make these hormones,” said Brian Christman, an asthma doctor at Vanderbilt University who was not involved in the study. “Although these medicines have a great safety records, they’re not entirely benign.”

    Aaron and Christman both cited convenience as a reason that doctors skip spirometry reports before prescribing asthma medication. However, Aaron notes, it would be considered absurd for a diabetes doctor to prescribe medication without clinically confirming the disorder.

    Of the surveyed patients who had an asthma diagnosis without active asthma, a third had nothing wrong with them at all. Two percent had serious health conditions like heart disease or pulmonary hypertension, and 65 percent had minor health conditions like allergies.

    Christman and Aaron agree that asthma medication is critically important and has saved many lives. But the new study highlights the prevalence of misdiagnoses.

    The post A third of asthma patients may not have asthma, study finds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Dudleya hendrixii, a new, rare species from Colonet Mesa, Baja California. Photo via Stephen McCabe et al, Madroño, 2016

    Dudleya hendrixii, a new, rare species from Colonet Mesa, Baja California. Photo via Stephen McCabe et al, Madroño, 2016

    Will an endangered flower named after musician Jimi Hendrix fade into the purple haze of memory?

    Not if the researchers who just discovered it have anything to say about it. They hope that the announcement of this new but endangered species will mobilize efforts to protect and conserve the remote region of Baja, Mexico, in which it and other rare plants are found.

    The researchers—who have dubbed the tiny new plant Hendrix’s liveforever or Dudleya hendrixii—say it is in particular need of conservation. “We estimated there were 5,000-10,000 plants on a few acres, perhaps 2-3 acres total,” says Stephen McCabe, a researcher with the Environmental Studies Department and Emeritus Director of Research at the Arboretum at the University of California Santa Cruz, one of the authors of a paper describing the new species in the journal Madroño. McCabe and his co-authors say the site, part of the “botanists’ paradise” known as Colonet Mesa, faces threats from farming and livestock grazing and could also face the risk of future development.

    Dudleya species in general, McCabe points out, are hardy plants—they don’t “live forever” as their name would imply, although they can survive uprooted without water for a year or more—but the new species’ restricted range makes it particularly vulnerable. The researchers warn that the site could easily be damaged or even completely destroyed, like castles made of sand, by an off-road vehicle or tractor.

    The tiny, two-inch flower itself doesn’t immediately bring Jimi Hendrix to mind, but it’s not all about appearances. It turns out that the researcher who first encountered the plant at Colonet Mesa, Mark Dodero of RECON Environmental, was listening to the song “Voodoo Child” when he made the discovery.

    That experience led McCabe, who saw Hendrix perform at the Santa Clara County Folk Rock Festival in 1969, to suggest the name, something he hopes will bring this rare flower—and maybe other plants along with it—some much-needed attention. “Cute animals easily get publicity, but it is trickier for plants,” McCabe says. “We have to be clever to get attention about plants. Getting people to even register that they exist is the first step in getting people to appreciate the liveforevers and some of our other rare plant species.”

    That recognition can’t come soon enough. Right now, McCabe says just one organization, a nonprofit called Terra Peninsular, is working to protect the Colonet Mesa region. He hopes the Hendrix’s liveflower announcement will help them in their efforts to acquire land in the area for conservation purposes, as well as in his own efforts to identify other new species from the region.

    Will Dudleya hendrixii continue to exist as long as its namesake’s memory? As with any endangered species, there “ain’t no telling” what the future brings, but McCabe hopes that the plant will persist. “Jimi Hendrix was one of a number of musicians concerned about what people were doing to the environment,” he says. Maybe, with that “bold as love” legacy in mind, the rock legend’s place in our culture will help to protect these rare plants for as many years as Hendrix’s music continues to play.

    This article is reproduced with permission from Scientific American. It was first published on Jan. 12, 2017. Find the original story here.

    The post Meet the endangered plant named after rockstar Jimi Hendrix appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Illinois U.S. Senate candidate Democrat Barack Obama (2nd R), wife Michelle and their daughters Malia (R), 3, and Sasha (L), 6, spend time in their Chicago hotel room, November 2, 2004. Obama faces Republican candidate Alan Keys in the first Senate race with two African American candidates. REUTERS/John Gress JG - RTREUJY

    Illinois U.S. Senate candidate Democrat Barack Obama (2nd R), wife Michelle and their daughters Malia (R), 3, and Sasha (L), 6, spend time in their Chicago hotel room, November 2, 2004. Obama faces Republican candidate Alan Keys in the first Senate race with two African American candidates. Photo by: John Gress

    For more than a decade, Barack Obama has been in the spotlight, first as a freshman senator to watch from Illinois, then as a presidential candidate running a hope-fueled campaign, and finally in two terms as U.S. president. Three important women have been by his side the entire way.

    Sasha Obama, at seven, was the youngest person to live in the White House since John F. Kennedy Jr. Malia Obama was 10 when she moved into the White House and will head off to Harvard in the fall. Back in Chicago, Michelle Obama was a working mom; during her time as First Lady, she kept working, leading the charge to get Americans to take on healthy, active lifestyles.

    Here are some photos of their most memorable moments.

    Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) is cheered by supporters after he won the Democratic Iowa caucuses in Des Moines, Iowa January 3, 2008. Obama's wife Michelle (R) and daughters Malia (L) and Sasha are seen with him. REUTERS/Keith Bedford (UNITED STATES) - RTX57AQ

    Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) is cheered by supporters after he won the Democratic Iowa caucuses in Des Moines, Iowa January 3, 2008. Obama’s wife Michelle (R) and daughters Malia (L) and Sasha are seen with him. Photo by: Keith Bedford

    U.S. President-elect Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) arrives to speak to supporters with his wife Michelle (R) and their children Malia (2nd R) and Sasha (2nd L) during his election night rally after being declared the winner of the 2008 U.S. Presidential Campaign in Chicago November 4, 2008. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA) - RTXA9OK

    U.S. President-elect Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) arrives to speak to supporters with his wife Michelle (R) and their children Malia (2nd R) and Sasha (2nd L) during his election night rally after being declared the winner of the 2008 U.S. Presidential Campaign in Chicago November 4, 2008. Photo by: Gary Hershorn

    U.S. President-elect Barack Obama gets a kiss from his daughter Malia as his younger daughter Sasha watches upon being dropped off at their school in Chicago November 10, 2008. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES) - RTXAGEA

    U.S. President-elect Barack Obama gets a kiss from his daughter Malia as his younger daughter Sasha watches upon being dropped off at their school in Chicago November 10, 2008. Photo by: Kevin Lamarque

    U.S. President-elect Barack Obama (C) puts his arm around his daughter Sasha as they sit onstage with his wife Michelle (2nd R), Malia Obama (far R), Vice President-elect Joe Biden (2nd L) and his wife Jill during the 'We Are One': Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington January 18, 2009. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES) - RTR23K7H

    U.S. President-elect Barack Obama (C) puts his arm around his daughter Sasha as they sit onstage with his wife Michelle (2nd R), Malia Obama (far R), Vice President-elect Joe Biden (2nd L) and his wife Jill during the ‘We Are One’: Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington January 18, 2009. Photo by: Jim Young

    U.S. President Barack Obama (R) presents the first family's new Portuguese Water Dog puppy, Bo, on the South Lawn with his family at the White House in Washington April 14, 2009. With Obama are first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia (C) and Sasha. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES POLITICS ANIMALS SOCIETY IMAGE OF THE DAY TOP PICTURE) - RTXDZNB

    U.S. President Barack Obama (R) presents the first family’s new Portuguese Water Dog puppy, Bo, on the South Lawn with his family at the White House in Washington April 14, 2009. With Obama are first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia (C) and Sasha. Photo by: Larry Downing

    U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd R) and his wife Michelle (R) walk along a trail with their daughters Sasha (L) and Malia on Cadillac Mountain in Bar Harbor, Maine, July 16, 2010. The First Family is on vacation for the weekend. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS TRAVEL) - RTR2GH4V

    U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd R) and his wife Michelle (R) walk along a trail with their daughters Sasha (L) and Malia on Cadillac Mountain in Bar Harbor, Maine, July 16, 2010. The First Family is on vacation for the weekend. Photo by: Jim Young

    U.S. President Barack Obama walks with his daughters Malia (bottom R) and Sasha, and his wife Michelle, down the steps of Air Force One upon arrival in Rio de Janeiro, March 19, 2011. Obama arrived from Brasilia, where he began a three-country tour of Latin America. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes (BRAZIL - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR2K4RK

    U.S. President Barack Obama walks with his daughters Malia (bottom R) and Sasha, and his wife Michelle, down the steps of Air Force One upon arrival in Rio de Janeiro, March 19, 2011. Obama arrived from Brasilia, where he began a three-country tour of Latin America. Photo by: Sergio Moraes

    U.S. President Barack Obama kisses daughter Malia (R) as first lady Michelle Obama looks up as they attend the Olympic men's exhibition basketball game between Team USA and Brazil in Washington July 16, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SPORT BASKETBALL OLYMPICS) - RTR34ZY8

    U.S. President Barack Obama kisses daughter Malia (R) as first lady Michelle Obama looks up as they attend the Olympic men’s exhibition basketball game between Team USA and Brazil in Washington July 16, 2012.
    Photo by: Kevin Lamarque

    U.S. President Barack Obama is joined onstage by first lady Michelle Obama and his daughters Sasha (2nd R) and Malia (R) after accepting the 2012 U.S Democratic presidential nomination during the final session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 6, 2012. REUTERS/Adrees Latif (UNITED STATES - Tags: ELECTIONS POLITICS) - RTR37M0J

    U.S. President Barack Obama is joined onstage by first lady Michelle Obama and his daughters Sasha (2nd R) and Malia (R) after accepting the 2012 U.S Democratic presidential nomination during the final session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 6, 2012. Photo by: Adrees Latif

    U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts (2nd from R) administers the oath of office to U.S. President Barack Obama (L) as first lady Michelle Obama (C) and daughters Malia and Sasha (R) look on during ceremonies on the West front of the U.S Capitol in Washington, January 21, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Bourg (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR3CR1Z

    U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts (2nd from R) administers the oath of office to U.S. President Barack Obama (L) as first lady Michelle Obama (C) and daughters Malia and Sasha (R) look on during ceremonies on the West front of the U.S Capitol in Washington, January 21, 2013. Photo by: Jim Bourg

    U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (C) walks with her daughters Sasha (R) and Malia as they visit the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, in Beijing March 23, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS TRAVEL) - RTR3I778

    U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (C) walks with her daughters Sasha (R) and Malia as they visit the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, in Beijing March 23, 2014. Photo by: Petar Kujundzic

    U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama (2ndR) and their daughters, Malia (L) and Sasha, welcome Pope Francis to the United States upon his arrival at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington September 22, 2015. Photo by: Tony Gentile - RTX1RXXP

    U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama (2ndR) and their daughters, Malia (L) and Sasha, welcome Pope Francis to the United States upon his arrival at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington September 22, 2015. Photo by: Tony Gentile

    U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia (L) and Sasha (R) walk to Air Force One as they depart from Roswell, New Mexico, U.S., June 17, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX2GV8R

    U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia (L) and Sasha (R) walk to Air Force One as they depart from Roswell, New Mexico, U.S., June 17, 2016. Photo by: Joshua Roberts

    U.S. President Barack Obama his wife Michelle and their daughter Melia acknowledge the crowd after President Obama delivered a farewell address at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. January 10, 2017. REUTERS/John Gress - RTX2YEQ0

    U.S. President Barack Obama his wife Michelle and their daughter Malia acknowledge the crowd after President Obama delivered a farewell address at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. January 10, 2017. Photo by: John Gress

    The post PHOTOS: Over 8 years, first daughters Malia and Sasha grow up in the White House appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Unemployment insurance stabilizes the housing market in times of crisis, according to new work from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Photo by Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg.

    Photo by Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg.

    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: Have you been reading the jobs news? Am I crazy, or do people really believe unemployment is down and pay is up? That there is suddenly a job for anyone who wants it? That all our troubles are over? Man, sign me up for a new job for two times what I was making when I had a job!

    Nick Corcodilos: I took time off during the holidays, but the news kept coming hot and heavy from the U.S. Department of Labor and associated pundits and experts: You should stop complaining about jobs and salaries. Everything is great!

    READ MORE: 4 economists evaluate Obama’s economic legacy

    I’m sure you’re reading the same good news, but all I want to know is, does this reflect your experience with the job market and employers?

    In the past few days, the Department of Labor reported:

    • “Unemployment rates were significantly lower in November in 18 states and stable in 32 states and the District of Columbia…”
    • “The national unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in November, down from 4.9 percent in October, and 0.4 percentage point lower than in November 2015.”

    Fewer people are unemployed! (Still, employers complain there is a talent shortage. See “Half-Assed Recruiting: Why employers can’t find talent.”)

    Recent Bloomberg reports tell us:

    • “The 4.7 percent jobless rate remains close to a nine-year low,even with a tick up last month.”
    • We’re seeing “enduring wage gains as labor market tightens.”

    You’re getting paid more, and employers are working harder to hire you!

    • “Worker pay rises at fastest pace since end of last recession.”
    • “Fiscal stimulus would stoke further gains as labor [is] scarce.”
    • “Average hourly earnings jumped by 2.9 percent in the 12 months through December, the most since the last recession ended in June 2009.”
    • “Workers in almost every category, from mining and construction to retail and education, saw paychecks rise from November.”

    But who’s getting more pay? (See “Job promotion or more work for less pay?”)

    Michael Feroli, JPMorgan’s chief economist, says:

    • “I expect to see continued acceleration in wages this year.”

    And get this: Labor shortages may become more common. Employers are going to be begging you to take a job! I hope that makes you feel better if you’re facing a shortage of exactly the one job you need to pay your bills.

    But then, there are the gotchas from the Department of Labor reported by Bloomberg. The Department of Labor touts higher levels of participation in the job market, but doesn’t try to explain why the uptake isn’t so hot:

    • “More Americans joined the labor force but had not yet found jobs.”

    Oops. And try this double-talk on for size:

    • “The number of people who were jobless and gave up looking for work declined to a three-month low…” but “One caveat: fewer people who were already in the labor force but unemployed were able to find jobs.”

    We discussed what may be behind this conundrum in “Employment In America: WTF?” The employment system itself seems to hinder or even prevent the matching of workers to open jobs.

    The Associated Press is right in there with its own stories:

    • Since 2009, “the job market is in infinitely better shape.The unemployment rate is 4.7 percent. Jobs have been added for 75 straight months, the longest such streak on record.”
    • But… “The proportion of Americans with jobs … dropped a full percentage point.”

    Apply the grammatical logic tool to that one and you get… More Americans are without jobs!

    • Under President Obama, “Hiring has been solid yet still hasn’t kept up with population growth.”
    • “…many workers, especially less-educated men, have become discouraged about finding jobs with decent pay and have stopped looking.”

    Yes, that means many, many Americans are screwed, and it seems we’re being told they’re not educated enough to parse those sentences to glean the economic reality. When unemployed and under-employed people keep trying to pay for food, do you think at some point they’ll take up their pitchforks and torches?

    And don’t miss this troubling fact: The “routine work” that pays middle-income wages is disappearing. But the good news is those of you doing “higher- and lower-paying jobs” should have no trouble finding work! Tech jobs have “soared” 42 percent. Hotel and food service jobs have “jumped” 19 percent!

    Apply the grammatical logic tool to that one and you get… middle-class America can’t find a job!

    • More good news: “Over the past year, average hourly pay has risen 2.9 percent, the healthiest increase in seven years.”
    • But in a “robust economy,” the Associated Press reports, pay gains would be more like 3.5 percent.

    There’s more, but your under-paid, under-fed or unemployed (or under-employed) brain probably couldn’t take it.

    Let’s stop pretending

    Readers complain to me that the news reports (and the government reports) about employment too often seem to contradict one another. While the government, economists, banks and pundits tell a story that makes heads spin, I think the wisdom about all this is in the crowd.

    READ MORE: Column: Work means everything to us — and hereafter it can’t

    The people living, succeeding, failing, giving up, dropping out, scraping by and dying in this economy have a clearer picture of what’s really going on than what’s being reported.

    How are you doing?

    January of a New Year is a good time to sweep away the news and ask you — How are you doing in all this? I think we all want to know what’s really going on in our economy and job market.

    • Does this news reflect your experience?
    • Are you finding more jobs — good-paying jobs — are begging to be filled?
    • Are you getting paid more money?
    • Are employers hiring you more quickly at higher salaries?
    • If you already have a job, has your boss increased your salary to avoid losing you?
    • What’s really going on with respect to jobs, employment and pay?

    Dear Readers: I don’t think we’ll sort this out, but we can do a better job of discussing the realities of the job market than all those confusing news reports do! How are you doing in this “great job market?”


    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: The jobs news is great! But how are you really doing? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    On Jan. 20, President-elect Donald Trump will stand before a crowd of thousands to take the oath of office. Then, just as George Washington did when he was sworn in as president in 1789, Trump will deliver a traditional inaugural address.

    Staffers say Trump plans to give a short inaugural address that centers on the theme of bringing Americans together. Odds are it will be longer than George Washington’s second inaugural address which — at just 135 words — was the shortest ever.

    Regardless, Trump’s theme will be in good company. Unity is often a main thread of the ceremony’s headlining speech.

    Third president Thomas Jefferson called for it in 1801, saying, “Let us, then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind.”

    Unity was also on Abraham Lincoln’s mind as he delivered his second inaugural address as the Civil War neared its end. “With malice toward none, with charity for all… let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds,” he said.

    But inaugural addresses have also sought to reassure and inspire. To this day, Franklin Roosevelt’s 1933 declaration “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and John F. Kennedy’s 1961 directive “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country” live on as some of the most memorable moments in inaugural history.

    As we wait to hear Trump’s message Friday, NewsHour has prepared a compilation of iconic and inspirational highlights from inaugural addresses past.

    The post Iconic inaugural addresses, from Thomas Jefferson to Barack Obama appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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