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

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    Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks Jan. 31 in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Trudeau's Feb. 13 visit to the White House is his first with U.S. President Donald Trump. Photo by REUTERS/Chris Wattie.

    Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks Jan. 31 in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Trudeau’s Feb. 13 visit to the White House is his first with U.S. President Donald Trump. Photo by REUTERS/Chris Wattie.

    WASHINGTON — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a polar opposite to President Donald Trump in almost every way, arrived in Washington Monday morning keen to build a relationship that doesn’t threaten trade.

    In the first face-to-face meeting with the new U.S. president, Trudeau will talk about free trade at the White House.

    Trudeau and Trump will also participate in a roundtable discussion about women in the workplace.

    The prime minister’s plane landed at Dulles airport after heavy winds forced a change from Andrews Air Force base.

    Trudeau, age 45, and Trump, age 70, have vastly different outlooks of the world.


    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet President Donald Trump for the first time on Monday when he visits the White House. For a preview of the meeting, New York Times reporter Ian Austen joins PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan via Skype from the Canadian capital of Ottawa.

    Trudeau is a liberal who champions free trade and has welcomed 40,000 Syrian refugees. He calls himself a feminist and his Cabinet is 50 percent women. Trump has few women in his Cabinet. He has taken a protectionist stance on trade and wants to crack down on the inflow of migrants and refugees.

    Trump’s order to temporarily halt entry into the U.S. by people from seven predominantly Muslim nations, which is tied up in court, might come up during his bilateral meeting with Trudeau. But Trudeau is expected to focus on common economic interests.

    Relations with the U.S. are crucial as more than 75 percent of Canada’s exports go to the U.S., while 18 percent of U.S. exports go to Canada. There are fears among Canadians that they could be hurt as Trump targets Mexico in a re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

    A White House official and a senior Canadian government official said the two countries plan to launch a new task force called the United States Canada Council for the Advancement of Women Business Leaders-Female Entrepreneurs. The officials agreed to confirm the move only if they were not quoted by name because they were not authorized to make the information public.

    Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter who has been an advocate for policies benefiting working women, was involved in recruiting participants and setting the agenda for the roundtable. Female executives from the United States and Canada are expected to participate.

    Trudeau’s close cooperation with Trump and the first daughter could ease some worries among Canadians that the U.S. president will enact protectionist measures that could hurt the Canadian economy. It could also alleviate some fears that Trump will be as combative with Trudeau as he has been with the leaders of Mexico and Australia.

    READ MORE: Trudeau says Canada will take refugees banned by U.S

    The Canadian official said Trudeau’s administration had suggested the task force, because the prime minister considers the issue of working women an important part of his agenda and economic growth plan.

    “It’s a smart thing if Canada proposed this,” Nelson Wiseman, a professor at the University of Toronto, said. “It takes attention off of NAFTA. And from Trump’s point of view, it contributes to softening Trump’s image, and he’s got a problem with women.”

    Roland Paris, a former senior foreign policy to Trudeau, said the prime minister needs to build a relationship with Trump to ensure Canada is not shut out economically.

    “The overriding priority will be for Canada to maintain secure and reliable access to the U.S. market and the supply chains that crisscross the border,” Paris said.

    Trudeau, whose father was the late Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, has been preparing for the Trump meeting for months. He will also meet with legislative leaders on Capitol Hill.

    The post Canada’s Trudeau arrives in Washington to meet with Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The highest lead levels were found in the blood of people who work with guns and ammunition, according to the California Department of Public Health. (iStock/Getty Images Plus).

    The highest lead levels were found in the blood of people who work with guns and ammunition, according to the California Department of Public Health. (iStock/Getty Images Plus).

    More than 6,000 California workers in munitions, manufacturing and other industries have elevated levels of lead in their blood that could cause serious health problems, according to a recent report from the state’s public health agency.

    The report, containing the results of tests conducted between 2012 and 2014, comes as the state’s workplace health and safety agency, Cal/OSHA, is considering a major update of its safety standards for workplace lead exposure for the first time in decades. The current standards are based on 35-year-old medical findings, which at the time did not recognize the dangers of even low-level exposure to lead. More recent science shows chronic, low-level lead exposure can cause lasting harm.

    “It doesn’t surprise me. This is a huge problem,” said Doug Parker, executive director of Worksafe, a worker health and safety advocacy organization based in Oakland. “Clearly, there haven’t been adequate actions taken” by some employers, he said.

    READ MORE: 7 things you didn’t know about lead

    Lead is a naturally occurring element. The soft gray metal and its various compounds have been used in many products, including pipes, paint, batteries, ammunition, industrial equipment and gasoline. Workers can be exposed to lead in the form of dust, either inhaled or swallowed, or by handling lead-tainted items.

    Most public health actions have focused on protecting children from lead exposure and quickly treating those who are exposed, since the metal can severely impair their development.

    But adults also can face serious health problems from lead exposure, including heart disease, reproductive problems, cognitive difficulties and kidney failure. Some workers exposed to lead dust in the workplace have unwittingly carried it home on their clothes, exposing their families to it.

    The authors of the report examined data from the California Occupational Blood Lead Registry, which tracks workplace exposures. From 2012 to 2014, 38,440 workers had their blood tested for lead, and 6,051 workers were identified with an elevated level of 5 or more micrograms of lead per deciliter (about 3.3 ounces) of blood. Most of these workers were men between the ages of 20 and 59 and had Hispanic surnames. Many lived in Southern California, particularly in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

    Graphic courtesy of Kaiser Health News.

    Graphic courtesy of Kaiser Health News.

    The California Department of Public Health, which released the report last month, did not make an expert available for comment.

    About 14,000 of the workers had two or more blood lead tests, which showed about a fifth of them had elevated blood lead levels, according to the report. More than one elevated blood test suggests chronic exposure linked to health problems, the researchers noted.

    About 60 percent of workers with higher exposures — above 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood — worked in manufacturing, for companies that make and recycle batteries, aircraft and aircraft parts, ships, plumbing and pipefitting fixtures, and metal valves, according to the report. Workers with the highest blood lead levels — 40 micrograms or more per deciliter — mostly worked at shooting ranges or in ammunition manufacturing, gun repair, and firearm instruction, although some worked in other metal industries, painting and construction.

    READ MORE: 18 million people served by water systems with lead violations in 2015, report says

    A spokesman for the California Manufacturers and Technology Association Association said the industry group did not have a position on workplace lead exposure, and a representative for the Sacramento-based State Building and Construction Trades Council did not respond to a request for comment.

    California requires employers to provide testing for workers if their work uses or “disturbs” lead (such as removing lead paint from a home) and to take steps to minimize lead dust and fumes.

    State researchers warned that there are many other workers who may be exposed to it but are never tested. While battery manufacturers and ammunition manufacturers may routinely test their workers, many other companies, including foundries and painting contractors, do not, the researchers noted.

    “The result of this large testing deficiency is that we do not know the true numbers of California workers with elevated” blood lead levels, the researchers wrote.

    This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation. Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can view the original report on its website.

    The post California reports thousands of workers exposed to elevated lead levels appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Video by PBS NewsHour

    WASHINGTON — A political odd couple, President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau resolutely played up their similarities at their first meeting Monday, even as obvious differences lurked behind their public smiles.

    After their White House meeting, the North American neighbors emerged to hail their close ties, with Trump promising to “build upon our very historic friendship” and Trudeau noting the “special” bond between the countries.

    But it was hard to escape their contrasting worldviews.

    Speaking to reporters, Trump defended his restrictive refugee and immigration orders, saying that “we cannot let the wrong people in.” Trudeau, on the other hand, said Canada continues to “pursue our policies of openness.”

    Trudeau later acknowledged that there are times when the two countries differ. But he said, “The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they chose to govern themselves.”

    During their post-meeting news conference, the reporters Trump called on did not ask about two pressing issues of the day — the future of embattled National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and North Korea’s reported ballistic missile launch.

    The stakes for Trudeau in his Washington visit are high: He is seeking to ensure Canada is not crippled as Trump re-negotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement. And he got much of what he was looking for. Trump praised the “outstanding” trade relationship between the United States and Canada and said he would only be “tweaking” it going forward.

    “We’ll be doing certain things that are going to benefit both of our countries. It’s a much less severe situation than what’s taking place on the southern border,” said Trump, who has been strongly critical of America’s trade situation with Mexico.

    Trade relations with the U.S. are crucial to Canada as more than 75 percent of Canada’s exports and 98 percent of its oil exports go to the U.S., while 18 percent of American exports go to Canada.

    Monday’s meeting was billed as one the most important for a Canadian leader with a U.S. president in decades because of Canada’s heavy reliance on its southern neighbor.

    Trump greeted Trudeau with a firm handshake as the Canadian arrived at the White House on a blustery morning. The two posed silently before reporters, until Trump suggested they shake hands for the cameras. Trudeau did bring a personal gift — a photo of Trump with Trudeau’s father, the late Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

    Justin Trudeau, age 45, and Trump, age 70, have vastly different outlooks on the world.

    Trudeau is a liberal who champions free trade and has welcomed 40,000 Syrian refugees. He calls himself a feminist and women make up half his Cabinet.

    Trump has few women in his Cabinet. He has taken a protectionist stance on trade and wants to crack down on the inflow of migrants and refugees. His order to temporarily halt entry into the U.S. by people from seven predominantly Muslim nations is currently tied up in court.

    Trump already has been good for Canada as he has said he’ll expedite approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline from Alberta through America’s midsection would carry more than one-fifth of the oil Canada exports to the United States. Former President Barack Obama turned down the pipeline, a major blow Canada’s oil industry.

    Canada has the third largest known oil reserves in the world and needs infrastructure to export its growing oil sands production. The country is America’s largest supplier of foreign oil.

    In addition to private meetings, the leaders held a roundtable discussion with female executives from the U.S. and Canada and announced a task force focused on women in the workforce.

    Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump was in attendance at the meeting and helped recruit participants and set the agenda, fresh evidence of her policy influence.

    Said Trump: “In order to create economic growth and lots of very good, well-paying jobs, we must ensure that our economy is a place where women can work and thrive, and I think that’s happening in the United States much more so. And Ivanka is very much involved in this. And I appreciate you being involved in it.”

    Trudeau’s Canadian administration suggested the task force as a way to work on a shared interest. Dina Powell, assistant to the president and senior counselor for economic initiatives, worked to set up the event, along with Katie Telford, Trudeau’s chief of staff and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

    Trudeau said the task force was “about understanding that women in leadership positions is a very powerful leverage for success, for business, for communities and for our entire economy.”

    Female executives at the table, from major companies in both countries, included General Electric Canada CEO Elyse Allan, TransAlta Corp. CEO Dawn Farrell, Linamar Corp. CEO Linda Hasenfratz, T&T Supermarket Inc. CEO Tina Lee and Schnitzer Steel Industries CEO Tamara Lundgren.

    Also there were Julie Sweet, CEO-North America for Accenture; NRStor CEO Annette Verschuren; Monique Leroux, chair of the board of directors for Investissement Quebec, and Carol Stephenson, of the board of directors for General Motors Co.

    Trudeau was met later with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

    The Associated Press’ Catherine Lucey and Rob Gillies wrote this report. AP writer Catherine Lucey in Washington contributed.

    The post WATCH: Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak at the White House appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Getty Images

    Getty Images

    “Libraries Are For Everyone.” That’s the message of a series of images created by Rebecca McCorkindale in the days after President Donald Trump announced the temporary travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries. She never expected her signs of inclusion to go further than a handful of libraries.

    But by the time she’d woken up the following day, she had received messages from librarians across the world wanting their languages represented. And libraries across the country — in Illinois, Minnesota, California, Virginia — had begun putting up the images as posters, along with displays about books on Islam, empathy and being a good neighbor.

    McCorkindale, who is assistant library director and creative director at the Gretna, Nebraska, public library, said she created the images because she believes librarians can and should be activists.

    “Libraries are the heart of a community, for anyone and everyone that lives there, regardless of their background,” she said. “And so we strongly believe that libraries are not neutral. We stand up for human rights.”

    She is not the only one. Since Mr. Trump took office a little more than three weeks ago, a vocal and growing number of librarians across the country have begun to take a more politically active stance.

    Credit: Rebecca McCorkindale

    Credit: Rebecca McCorkindale

    But it began before that, after the revelation of the role so-called “fake news” had played in the election. Librarians, sometimes considered an antiquated breed, were swiftly deemed essential in the fight against disinformation. And libraries across the country responded, promoting researcher-vetted content, hosting community discussions on fake news and sharing libguides to help people think critically about what they were reading.

    Post-inauguration, reports that the new administration was quick to clamp down on the flow of information from some federal agencies prompted additional anxiety among librarians. The American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, for one, immediately condemned what it saw as government censorship. “ALA opposes any use of governmental power to suppress the free and open exchange of knowledge and information,” wrote the association, which typically fights for privacy and against banned books in schools, such as “Brave New World” or “Twilight.” (Librarians and scientists had also preemptively begun preserving what they saw as vulnerable government information online, including climate data.)

     “Libraries are the heart of a community, for anyone and everyone that lives there, regardless of their background,” McCorkindale said. “And so we strongly believe that libraries are not neutral.” 

    But protests against the new administration by librarians only began popping up in large numbers around the country after Mr. Trump signed two executive orders on immigration, one which could lead to the stripping of federal funds of so-called “sanctuary cities” for illegal immigrants, and the other which temporarily banned all refugees as well as travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. — an order that’s been halted by the courts, but is still at the center of a legal battle.

    Librarians who spoke to the NewsHour said these orders touched a nerve, especially for those who work at public libraries, which often serve a diverse population that includes new immigrants. According to the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, 55 percent of new Americans use a library at least once a week.

    We are huge resources for newcomers to this country, whether it’s for connection to this country, legal resources, testing preparation, citizen tests, services like storytimes or homework help,” said Elizabeth McKinstry, a public librarian based in Dedham, Massachusetts, who has been vocal in rallying librarians online post-election. “We are there for the most vulnerable folks in our communities, people on the other side of the digital or language divide.”

    And so, after the two executive orders, librarians across the country began responding with individual acts of resistance at their branches. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, which has been a sanctuary city since 1985, the public library announced that it would be a sanctuary space. At the Hennepin County Library in Minnesota, which serves a large population from Somalia, one of the seven countries affected by the travel ban, a campaign was launched called “All are welcome here.” The library serving Multnomah County, Oregon, began promoting books about immigrant and refugee experiences for kids; elsewhere in Oregon, librarians put “all are welcome” buttons on sale. At the William Jeanes Memorial Library in Pennsylvania, a Yemeni-American, Muslim-American girl doll named Sameerah became available for checkout. “We are glad to welcome her to our library,” librarian Rachel Fecho wrote online, and said, with evident sarcasm: “She is able to travel freely to the homes of our library patrons.”

    Major professional library organizations have begun mobilizing, too. The Association of College & Research Libraries, which represents more than 11,000 academic and research librarians, slammed Mr. Trump’s executive orders, condemning what it sees as “the use of intimidation, harassment, bans… and violence as means with which to squelch free intellectual inquiry and expression.” The Society of American Archivists, which has 6,200 members in government, at universities and elsewhere, similarly critiqued the travel ban, saying it undermined their efforts to “preserve diverse archives and support the study of our nation’s cultural heritage.”

    And the ALA, the country’s oldest and largest library organization with some 57,000 members, denounced the new administration’s actions, saying they “stand in stark contrast to the core values” of librarianship, which according to the ALA include access to information, confidentiality and privacy, diversity and social responsibility.

    Librarian dissent is also spreading on social media. On Twitter, a new @LibrariesResist account is sharing resources “for libraries and library workers in the resistance… because if Park Rangers can do it, so can we” — a reference to the National Park Service rogue tweeting after the Trump administration told the agency not to. The @LibrariesResist resources include pages on privacy and surveillance, fake news and propaganda, a “Stop Trump” reading list and a “Trump syllabus” as well as an explanation of libraries as sanctuary spaces.

    Matthew Haugen, the librarian at Columbia University who started the account, said, “I started thinking a lot about how I and other librarians can use our strengths to do something effective… and I thought: ‘We can organize resources, do what librarians do.’” Under the hashtags #librariesresist, as well as #librariesrespond, there are now hundreds of posts from librarians sharing their local acts of opposition.

    Jessamyn West, an influential blogger, technologist and librarian, said this should come as no surprise, as libraries have long been on the forefront of activism. “We’re the ones who stick up for intellectual freedom, or your right to read, or to look at whatever you want to in the library,” she said. “There’s been an activist contingent for a long time.”

    Credit: Multnomah County Library Twitter

    Libraries have begun promoting books about immigrant and refugee experiences in the wake of the immigration ban. Credit: Multnomah County Library Twitter

    Rewind, then, back to the 1950s in America, when fear of communism ran rampant in the U.S., and literature, films and music became targets of government censorship. At the time, librarians got together with professors, publishers and others in the academic and intellectual community to figure out how to respond. The result was a document called “The Freedom To Read,” which began with the sentence: “The freedom to read is essential to our democracy,” and ended with: “Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.” A Freedom to Read Foundation was also established by the ALA, to challenge censorship and other threats to the First Amendment in court.

    In the late ‘60s, when a confluence of social movements supporting civil rights, women’s equality and war opposition swept the country, the ALA also founded a Social Responsibilities Round Table to respond to the issues of the day. They were particularly focused on ensuring service at libraries to black Americans, and including black librarians in their ranks. This activism, a historical note on the roundtable says, was the result of “aggressive volunteers.” By the ‘80s, the roundtable had become even more aggressive, adding task forces for feminists, gay liberation and “alternative” reading.

    Perhaps the moment when librarians are best remembered as activists, though, came in 2001, when the ALA fought back forcefully against the Patriot Act, which expanded the powers of government surveillance in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Librarians were particularly vexed over Section 215 of the act, colloquially called the “library records provision,” which required librarians to hand over patron data when law enforcement asked for it. The act also included a gag order that said librarians could not tell patrons they had forked over their data.

    In response, librarians began hanging signs for library patrons telling them that the FBI could be watching them. They also lobbied electronic vendors to add privacy measures, and in 2005, took the fight over the gag order to court. By 2006, the government had given up its fight to protect that order.

    And in 2015, Section 215 expired, along with other provisions of the Patriot Act. “Long before [Edward] Snowden, librarians were anti-surveillance heroes,” Slate declared that year.

    Under the Obama administration, though, librarian activism seemed to quiet. President Obama was an avid reader, and many librarians told the NewsHour that it felt like the administration was on their side. Librarians fought smaller battles, such as when a group of Dartmouth University students — with the support of Dartmouth librarians — petitioned the Library of Congress to change subject headings in libraries from “illegal aliens to “noncitizens,” to be more sensitive to the patrons who visited.

    And though government surveillance continued under the Obama presidency, librarians were heartened by his pick to head the Library of Congress: Carla Hayden, a former public librarian, who was also said to be anti-surveillance. Some conservatives criticized her as an “activist,” saying her appointment “politicize[d]” the position. Which begs the question: Should libraries and librarians be politically neutral?

    Librarian.net / Jessamyn West

    After the Patriot Act was passed, librarians began hanging signs to let patrons know the FBI could be watching them. Credit: Librarian.net / Jessamyn West

    Especially after the election, an increasing number of librarian voices online say libraries are not neutral spaces, and never have been. See Jessamyn West (Libraries are not neutral spaces, nor should they be”), the School Library Journal (“Libraries are not neutral”), or librarian/technologist Jason Griffey: “Stand, Fight, Resist.”

    April Hathcock, a librarian at New York University who has advocated for the ALA to take a less neutral, more activist stance against the president, argues that the idea of providing information to everyone freely is in itself a “radical notion.”  

    “It’s a political notion, a political stance, by entering into this profession,” she said. “In order for people to have access to freedom regardless of who they are, they have to be able to participate in societies freely.”

    But that ideal is complicated by the fact that libraries are funded, in part, by the government. Though funding often happens at the local level, America’s libraries do get money from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, a federal agency whose budget in 2016 was some $237 million. Among other efforts, IMLS has supported the expansion of high-speed broadband service in libraries, which many librarians say is an essential service for patrons. In 2015, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan proposed eliminating the IMLS altogether, and, after the Hill reported in January that the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities could be eliminated under the Trump administration, some fear library funding could be next.

    These fears played out days after the election, when the ALA sent out a friendly and encouraging press release saying it looked forward to working with the new administration. Among the ALA’s many roles are lobbying for funds for libraries from Congress.

    The response was fierce and immediate. Hundreds of librarians began angrily commenting on a ALA website, saying they felt “betrayed.” They said it was obvious ALA was just making nice to the administration so as not to lose funding, and that it had lost sight of its core values.  F@ck you, ALA,” Hathcock, the NYU librarian, wrote online. “ALA does not care about diversity and inclusion and justice. Not really. ALA cares only about its bottom line.” Emily Drabinski, a librarian at Long Island University in Brooklyn, wrote a post called: “ALA does not speak for me,” and argued that it was “shameful sell out of a profession that stood against the Patriot Act.” McKinstry, the Dedham, Massachusetts-based librarian, started a hashtag #NotMyAla, and a blog to keep track of all the librarians registering their frustration. Weeks later, ALA rescinded the release.

    “It’s very hard,” ALA president Julie Todaro said of balancing the need for funding with fighting against politicians who threaten librarian core values. “We are going to fight for our values,” she said. “But we are also a nonpartisan organization, and it’s important to realize that our 57,000 members don’t all feel the same way.”

    On an ALA website, a few conservative librarians pushed back against all the calls for library activism. In their comments, they complained that the hysteria around Trump was outsized, and said they only hoped there was enough money available to keep funding libraries. In 2010, a piece called “The Conservatives Among Us” in American Libraries Magazine argued that librarians needed to be more tolerant of conservative views — rare as they may be in librarianship. “That is why conservative librarians are afraid to speak out,” wrote Will Manley, the piece’s author, “they fear professional ostracism.” On the ALA site, the few conservative librarians who commented were quickly drowned out by the larger number who said it was time to fight back.

    Credit: ALA's 'Libraries Transform' campaign

    The American Library Association is fighting back against “fake news” as part of its Libraries Transform campaign. Credit: the American Library Association

    Where librarian activism goes from here — and whether dissent will reach the kind of tipping point that happened under the Patriot Act — is an open question. There is no scheduled librarian march on Washington, for example, like scientists have planned for Earth Day (though librarians with library science degrees say they will joining in).

    On Feb. 17, librarians, museums and other institutions have planned a “Day of Facts” to combat misinformation in its communities. The website for the campaign reminds visitors that facts are not “an overt political stand.”

    And press releases by professional organizations are likely to only go so far. But Haugen, who started @librariesresist, said he believes librarians will coalesce against President Trump in large, physical numbers if the administration threatens funding to any major library institutions, such as the Library of Congress or National Archives. There has been no indication that this will happen. A “Rogue Library of Congress” Twitter account has been started, but no one has tweeted from it yet.

    Short of an organized national movement, it seems clear that librarians will continue to register their dissent vocally and locally, in individual acts of protest. “All of this is going to be local,” said McKinstry. “It’s what you can do to make information accessible and available, and what you can do to link to resources to help protect people.”

    Meanwhile, McCorkindale’s “Libraries Are For Everyone” images continue to spread around the world. By Thursday, the posters had been published in a dozen languages, including Spanish and Arabic, with plans to translate 13 more. In Brantford, Ontario, a library printed out “Libraries Are For Everyone” images with their 3D printer; in Leicester, England, the poster was hung from a library fence; and in the Bronx, a school librarian began planning a project around it for his diverse group of students.

    “People think that libraries are obsolete,” said McCorkindale. “But we’ve stood up against censorship for decades…. And with all that’s going on with these executive orders, we will do what we can to help.”

    Credit: Rebecca McCorkindale

    A “Libraries Are For Everyone” poster in Arabic. Credit: Rebecca McCorkindale

     

    The post Why these librarians are protesting Trump’s executive orders appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    California Department of Water Resources personnel monitor water flowing through a damaged spillway on the Oroville Dam in Oroville, California. Photo by Max Whittaker/Reuters

    California Department of Water Resources personnel monitor water flowing through a damaged spillway on the Oroville Dam in Oroville, California. Photo by Max Whittaker/Reuters

    More than 180,000 people were evacuated from their homes in northern California on Sunday after engineers worried the emergency spillway for the already-overflowing Lake Oroville would collapse, threatening to unleash billions of gallons of water into neighborhoods below.

    Water levels in Lake Oroville, 75 miles north of Sacramento, exceeded capacity Saturday morning because officials could not release enough water from the regular spillway, which was damaged last week by a 300-foot sinkhole. As a result, water began overflowing into the emergency spillway at Oroville Dam — the tallest in the country — for the first time since its construction in 1968.

    Gov. Brown issued an emergency order Sunday to “bolster the state’s response” to the issue after engineers discovered erosion in an emergency spillway that controls overflow from lake. The order included activating assistance from California’s National Guard.

    The auxiliary spillway at Oroville had never been tested, flood control expert Jeffrey Mount told NPR.

    “I recognize how tough this situation is on people,” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said this weekend in a news conference. “I recognize that we’ve had to displace a lot of people, but as you’ve heard tonight we needed to do that to ensure the public safety.”

    Engineers worried the fast-moving water could undercut the 1,730 foot concrete lip at the top of the emergency spillway, resulting in a collapse of the structure followed by an uncontrolled release of billions of gallons of water into residential areas.

    The city of Oroville is empty after an evacuation was ordered for communities downstream from the Lake Oroville Dam, in Oroville, California. Photo by Beck Diefenbach/Reuters

    The city of Oroville is empty after an evacuation was ordered for communities downstream from the Lake Oroville Dam, in Oroville, California. Photo by Beck Diefenbach/Reuters

    The Oroville Dam, separate from the auxiliary spillway, is structurally sound, Department of Water Resources officials said in a statement Sunday.

    Some environmental groups had warned of this problem years ago. The Mercury News says three environmental groups filed a motion with the federal government in 2005 requesting that the auxiliary spillway be reinforced with concrete. They warned heavy rains could force officials to use the emergency spillway and erosion could result in potentially deadly flooding. At the time, officials rejected the motion, expressing confidence in the spillway’s design.

    When the environmental groups filed the motion, officials said the emergency spillway could handle a water flow between 250,000 to 350,000 cubic feet per second. On Sunday, the erosion that prompted the evacuation was caused by 6,000-12,000 cfs — less than 5 percent of the maximum cited by the officials.

    On Sunday afternoon, the Department of Water Resources upped the water flow in the main spillway, which is still damaged by a sinkhole, to 100,000 cfs. Water levels have since receded below the reservoir’s capacity and have stopped entering the emergency spillway.

    Another storm is expected to bring heavy rains to the area again Wednesday night. Officials are trying to continue lowering water levels in the reservoir to at least 50 feet below capacity, which they hope will help avoid further use of the damaged emergency spillway.

    The post Fate of Oroville Dam spillway remains unclear, more than a decade after first warning appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A Dopplergram from the SDO spacecraft shows the waves moving through the sun. Photo: NASA

    A Dopplergram from the SDO spacecraft shows the waves moving through the sun. Photo: NASA

    Since the early 1990s, space scientists have known that the sun’s surface rotates more slowly than its interior. But they haven’t been able to pinpoint why.

    Now, astrophysicists at the University of Hawaii say they have a hunch. They’ve identified that the light from the sun acts like a “centrifugal sprinkler system” to blast photons into outer space, prompting an exchange of momentum that causes the rotation of the outside of the sun’s surface, where plasma is thinnest, to lag behind its core.

    The sun and other stars shed photons in every direction. These photons have no mass, but are pure energy. Because of this, the particles carry a miniscule amount of angular momentum as they leave the sun.

    Jeff Kuhn, a U. of Hawaii astrophysicist who co-authored a new study published in Physical Review Letters, says that when photons are ejected from the sun into outer space, they take some of the sun’s rotation with them. The slowdown is almost imperceptible, but by using helioseismology — the study of how sound and gravity waves move through the sun — the astronomers discovered this solar feature.

    “The sprinkler has the nozzles directed off at an angle, and the water carries the momentum just like the photons,” Kuhn says.

    The slowdown will eventually affect the entire sun, but for right now, it’s only visible in the surface layer

    The team obtained their data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory over a period of three years, beginning in 2010. Observing the entire sun would have produced images with a limited resolution, so the researchers zoomed in on the edge of the sun, where they could see the surface activity in more detail.

    Their model of the sun’s movement revolves around the star’s turbulent plasma. Plasma is a high energy state of matter, in which electrons and protons float freely. The sun’s plasma gets thicker as it moves inward towards the “tachocline,” an area deep within the star that separates the solid-like interior from the turbulent outer zones.

    As the photons interact with the different thicknesses of material deep beneath the sun’s surface, they exchange momentum. This effect is more noticeable it the outer layers, where the plasma is thinnest.

    “A similar effect happens with micrometeoroids in the inner solar system, but in reverse, that makes them spiral into the sun so there aren’t any in the inner solar system,” said William Dean Pesnell, a project scientist for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory who wasn’t involved in the study.

    Only five percent of the sun’s total volume — the 43-mile thick outer layer of the sun’s photosphere — has any sort of noticeable reduction in speed. The researchers posit that all stars may experience these slowdowns, but the effect becomes more apparent in larger and brighter stars.

    The jury is still out on whether the theory from Kuhn and his colleagues holds up. Pesnell said scientists would have to study the sun for another million years to know for sure.

    But researchers estimate the rate of the sun’s slowdown is, to put it simply, slow. The sun will expand and consume our planet long before we would need to worry about the sun’s rotation stopping for good, they say.

    The post The sun’s spin is slowing, and we might know why appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The "on air" light glows at the Voice of America's studio in Washington, D.C. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    The “on air” light glows at the Voice of America’s studio in Washington, D.C. Photo by Larisa Epatko/PBS NewsHour

    The Voice of America, known for its counter-propaganda efforts during the Soviet era, is turning to social media to reach Russian audiences.

    The U.S. government-funded VOA recently launched a 24/7 digital and television network called Current Time that offers news shows, feature stories and interviews. The $10 million partnership with Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is intended to counter what the organizations call “disinformation” coming from Russia, along with an increase in Kremlin-controlled media under President Vladimir Putin.

    Current Time airs on TV in countries with Russian-speaking populations, including Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey and the Baltic states. In Russia, where cable companies do not carry it, the network provides content only online.

    The Washington, D.C.-based VOA puts its programs on Twitter, Facebook and VKontakte or “InContact” — the Russian version of Facebook — and so far has not encountered any Internet censorship or control issues, said Thomas Kent, president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

    “We don’t view ourselves as propagandists,” but as providers of balanced news, said Kent. “We are advancing the cause of independent news reporting.”

    Amanda Bennett, VOA director, said even if the network tried to promote a message, it wouldn’t work. “It comes off as fake and a little contrived” and viewers don’t like it, she said.

    The daily news round-ups go live on their Facebook page, and visitors to the website can react in real time, posting comments while the show is still airing, said Current Time America main anchor Roman Mamonov. “We hear from viewers who think we’re pro-Donald Trump and those who think we’re against Donald Trump,” he noted.

    Another weekly half-hour program, called “See Both Sides” and hosted by Andrey Cherkasov, aims to debunk falsehoods aired by Kremlin-supported Russian media outlets, such as charges of illegal voting for Hillary Clinton in the past election, he said.

    “You don’t need to say he’s a liar,” Cherkasov said of one Russian anchor who made a particularly egregious claim. “You can just show what he’s done.”

    But lambasting the Russian media or skewing toward one particular viewpoint, even with the intention of balancing out the state-run, pro-Russian government media, isn’t the most effective approach, said Ekaterina Kotrikadze, editor in chief of the New York-based RTVi News, an independent Russian-language television network.

    Like Voice of America, RTVi does not broadcast on cable networks in Russia, but Russians can watch it online.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin participates in a live nationwide phone-in, as seen at an electronics store in Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk on April 17, 2014. Photo by Ilya Naymushin/Reuters

    Russian President Vladimir Putin participates in a live nationwide phone-in, as seen at an electronics store in Russia’s Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk on April 17, 2014. Photo by Ilya Naymushin/Reuters

    “You can’t talk about Putin as being a bad guy,” especially in a country where the president has a high approval rating, because it’s not effective, said Kotrikadze. “You need to show the different opinions, the different views of the world on the political situation in Ukraine, in the Middle East, in the United States, or anywhere else. And as soon as the viewers see the whole picture, they can make conclusions themselves,” she said.

    RTVi is privately funded and gets no money from the Russian government — “as soon as they give you money, they can tell you what should be put on air,” said Kotrikadze. Like Current Time, RTVi is scaling up its presence in Russia by building a studio in Moscow and is planning to relaunch its news, lifestyle and political programs in May.

    There’s a demand for the programming, and for people to explain what is considered by many to be a mysterious place, she said. In addition, Russian speakers in former Soviet states and in the Baltics still feel a historical connection to Russia and want to know what’s going on there, she added.

    Some of Current Time’s most popular programming is live coverage of major news events, said the network’s director, Daisy Sindelar. On Election Day and Inauguration Day in the U.S., the network hosted multi-hour special news programs. “We are dealing with an audience used to orchestrated news,” so viewers enjoy the spontaneity of live news, she said.

    Sindelar said Russians also crave shows about economic issues and everyday life. A program called “Unknown Russia” explores what citizens are doing in remote parts of the country. One episode featured a man in a village who restored an old fortress that he and his family now call home.

    And Russians want to know how their counterparts are faring in the U.S., said the VOA’s Bennett. So a 26-episode series on what ordinary Russians are doing in America will kick off this spring.

    The post Push against Russia’s ‘disinformation’ goes online appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (C) arrives prior to a joint news conference between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in D.C> Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (C) arrives prior to a joint news conference between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in D.C> Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The White House broke its silence on the future of national security adviser Michael Flynn Monday, with a top adviser asserting that President Donald Trump retains “full confidence” in Flynn following reports that he misled senior officials about his contacts with Russia.

    Flynn apologized privately for the controversy to Vice President Mike Pence, according to an administration official. Pence, relying on information from Flynn, publicly vouched that the retired Army lieutenant general did not discuss sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Flynn has since told the White House that sanctions may have come up in the calls.

    Trump himself has still said nothing about Flynn following a Washington Post report last week confirming that sanctions were a topic of conversation. But on Monday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Flynn has Trump’s backing.

    “He has the full confidence of the president,” Conway said.

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

    Flynn sat in the front row of Trump’s news conference earlier Monday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. But the president did not receive a question about Flynn’s future from a pair of reporters and he ignored journalists’ shouted follow-up inquiries as he left the room.

    Trump told associates over the weekend that he was troubled by the situation, but did not indicate that he planned to ask Flynn to step down, according to a person who spoke with him recently. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. Flynn was a loyal Trump supporter during the campaign, but he is viewed skeptically by some in the administration’s national security circles, in part because of his ties to Russia.

    The post Flynn apologizes to Pence over Russia controversy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    REFILE - QUALITY REPEATJefferson Arriga, 7, plays in the fountain at Battery Park during mild weather at the start of the Labor Day weekend ahead of potential storms on the east coast of the United States caused by Tropical Storm Hermine in New York, U.S., September 3, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich - RTX2O0QY

    A boy plays in a fountain in New York City over Labor Day weekend. Credit: REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich.

    When poets Geffrey Davis and F. Douglas Brown first met at a poetry retreat in 2012, they instantly connected in discussing fatherhood and the poetry that sprang from that experience. Over time, that relationship grew, and they began writing poetry that came directly out of their conversations. Soon, they were even borrowing each other’s lines or writing stanzas or whole poems back and forth, as a kind of call and response.

    And in November, they published their first series of co-written poems, in a chapbook called “Begotten,” which was published by Upper Rubber books. These poems explore with tenderness and anxiety the joys and perils of being a father — especially a black father — and how to escape the mistakes of past generations.

    “We like to say that we kind of beg, borrow and steal,” said Brown. “We beg one another to become better fathers, through the work and our conversations. We borrow from the things we are reading, and other people who are working with the same themes. And we steal from one another.”

    Davis, who is 33 and has a five-year-old son, said that as a younger father he has often looked to Brown, who is 44 and has two teenaged children, a son and daughter, for answers. “I felt blessed to have this chance to cultivate questions about doubts, worries, and wonders about what it means to be a father,” said Davis, both in conversations with Brown, and in their resulting poetry.

    In “Begotten,” many of the poems look forward, to convey advice to a son, or explore how a father can best help a child navigate racism or understand sexuality. Others look backwards, to their own fathers and the fears they have of inheriting the violence that came before. A number of the poems do both.

    “In that first conversation we had, we talked about the expectation of what the black father is supposed to do or has not done,” said Brown. “And I think we work against that. People always ask about the vulnerability in our poems, because that is something not readily shown in African American fathers. That, and the love we have offer.”

    Both love and vulnerability are present in the poem “What I Mean When I Say Harmony,” though toughness also makes an appearance. Its first line is: “dear boy be the muscle: / make music to the bone.” Centering around touch and violence, the poem is addressed in parts to both a father and a son.

    In the fourth and fifth stanzas of the poem, there is the echo of a worried parent: “If I ever / catch you confusing / a pulse for a path or a bridge / to beat loneliness you blood / will be the object of discussion.” This line, Davis said, came from the memory of his mother telling him not to engage in the same violence his father did.

    The larger poem is about passing a similar message on to his son. “It’s about needing to push my son not to be afraid of contact, but also to understand the risks that are involved,” said Davis.

    “It’s that fear doesn’t have to be met with the same violence,” echoed Brown.

    Read that poem, and listen to Brown and Davis read it aloud, below.

    F. Douglas Brown and Jeffrey Davis. Credit: Danielle Mitchell

    F. Douglas Brown and Geffrey Davis. Credit: Danielle Mitchell

    What I Mean When I Say Harmony

    by Geffrey Davis & F. Douglas Brown

    1.
    dear boy be the muscle:
    make music to the bone—risk

    that mercurial measure
    of contact there are those

    who touch a body and leave it
    graceful be that kind

    of wonder —and if I ever
    catch you confusing

    a pulse for a path or a bridge
    to beat loneliness your blood

    will be the object of discussion
    I will ask to see it back

    if only to know the shared sinew
    if only to relight your blessing

    if only to rekindle the song
    carried in your hands

    2. The Remix
    ode to the boy in me singing at the table so rude
    but the hum-a-long mingles with your husky laughter

    ode to the father in you wringing something out of nothing
    ode to [dutiful] stitched into your fingers and not:—[obligatory drudgery]

    and yes ode to the ghosts now roving your cupboards and bed
    ode to your lingering music a mixtape of meals and memory

    ode to what you still offer I suckle it down throughout the night
    taste everything passed between your fingers

    3. Side B
    dear boy aint nothing
    not about bodies

    we have more than one
    sun more than one way

    to gasp inside the heat
    and arms of praise

    worship the warmth
    of each loaded light let your body

    grow fragile an offertory —sweet—
    lick bite know the knot

    of your desire hold it
    in your mouth let it live

    let it split do not leave this earth
    without tasting what passes

    between fingers son
    always go deep find the seed

    in each fruit’s buried longing
    if it is yours sing it mine



    The “Begotten” chapbook appears in the third volume of the Floodgate Poetry Series, an annual series of books by Upper Rubber Boot Books.

    Geffrey Davis is the author of Revising the Storm (BOA Editions 2014), winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize and a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Finalist. Davis’ honors include fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation and the Vermont Studio Center, the Anne Halley Poetry Prize, the Dogwood Prize in Poetry, the Wabash Prize for Poetry, the Leonard Steinberg Memorial/Academy of American Poets Prize, and nominations for the Pushcart Prize. His poems are forthcoming or have been published by The Academy of American Poets, Crazyhorse, The Greensboro Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Massachusetts Review, Mississippi Review, New South, The New York Times Magazine, Nimrod International Journal, and Ploughshares, among other places. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Davis teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Arkansas.

    F. Douglas Brown is the author of Zero to Three (University of Georgia 2014), the 2013 Cave Canem Poetry Prize recipient selected by Tracy K. Smith. Brown is both a Cave Canem and Kundiman fellow. His poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets, The Virginia Quarterly (VQR), Bat City Review, The Chicago Quarterly Review (CQR), The Southern Humanities Review, The Sugar House Review, Cura Magazine, and Muzzle Magazine. With Cheyanne Sauter, Executive Director of Art Share L.A., he co-founded Requiem for Sandra Bland, a quarterly poetry reading series examining social justice issues, and ways to address police brutality in particular. Brown, an educator for over 20 years, teaches English at Loyola High School of Los Angeles, an all-boys Jesuit school.

    The post Two fathers use poems to teach their kids about growing up black in America appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Donald Trump applauses as a marching band performs while he arrives at Trump International Golf club to watch the Super Bowl LI between New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons in West Palm Beach, Florida. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    President Donald Trump applauses as a marching band performs while he arrives at Trump International Golf club to watch the Super Bowl LI between New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons in West Palm Beach, Florida. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    Last week, amid breaking news notifications about President Donald Trump’s travel ban and North Korea’s missile launch, a vacation reel of the former Leader of the Free World popped up on YouTube.

    British billionaire Richard Branson invited former President Barack Obama to the islands to windsurf, shortly before snow was dumped on the Northeast.

    Meanwhile, the White House, three weeks deep into the new administration, navigated the partisan politics over Trump’s game of golf with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. (Trump often criticized Obama for playing golf during his two terms.) The White House released a statement saying it was a business game of golf, involving “great conversations on a wide range of subjects.”

    Here are five important stories that may or may not have been discussed by either Trump or Obama.

    1. Rape case in France sparks fears over repeat of 2005 riots

    Video by CLNEWS

    Angered over the alleged police rape of a 22-year-old black man, residents in the French suburbs of Paris have staged protests every day for the past week. They don’t appear to be slowing down.

    More than 2,000 people have gathered in protest, days after a French officer was charged with allegedly sodomizing a man, identified as Theo, with a baton during a Feb. 2 arrest in the neighboring Aulnay-sous-Bois suburb. Another three officers were charged with assault.

    The officers have denied the allegations. Theo was hospitalized with injuries to head, face and anus, the latter of which required surgery.

    Last week, French investigators announced that the alleged rape was an accident.

    A peaceful demonstration in Bobigny, a northeastern suburb of Paris, turned violent Sunday as protesters clashed with police.

    Protesters pelted officers with objects and set several vehicles on fire, Al Jazeera reported.

    Why it’s important

    Police continue to make arrests as unrest flares in the Saint-Seine-Denis region, which houses a large immigrant and working class population. The region is also gripped with unemployment levels as high as 30 percent, CBS News reported.

    The relationship between police and the impoverished “banlieues,” or suburbs, in the region has been fraught for decades. The 2005 riots in the same suburban outskirts of Paris drew attention to the inequalities found in French society. The three weeks of unrest were sparked when two teenagers died from electrocution after fleeing police.

    Unfortunately, as The Guardian documented, little has improved today between police and the banlieues.

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

    French President François Hollande visited Theo at the hospital last week, hoping to assuage the tensions playing out in the streets. Hollande also plans on visiting Aubervilliers, one of the banlieues, on Tuesday, Le Monde reported.

    2. As Texas mosque seeks to rebuild, cause of fire is revealed

    A security official investigates the aftermath of a fire at the Victoria Islamic Center mosque in Victoria, Texas, on Jan. 29. Photo by Mohammad Khursheed/Reuters

    A security official investigates the aftermath of a fire at the Victoria Islamic Center mosque in Victoria, Texas, on Jan. 29. Photo by Mohammad Khursheed/Reuters

    Weeks after a fire destroyed a mosque in south Texas, investigators officially ruled it an arson last week.

    However, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said it’s still unclear who set the Victoria Islamic Center ablaze on Jan. 28. Investigators also stopped short of classifying the arson as a hate crime.

    Mosque members “are saddened & alarmed by the outcome of the investigation,” the center said in a statement on Facebook. “Despite several indications of arson, we offered prayers of hope that the cause of fire would be accident rather than intentional act,” the statement read.

    Why it’s important

    The mosque fire partly received national attention because of its timing. Firefighters fought the flames hours after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that banned travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

    The mosque has been a part of the Victoria, Texas, community for 16 years and has been the target of a few incidents. In 2001, someone left a pig’s head at the mosque. And in 2013, a teen vandalized the mosque by spraypainting “H8” on an outside wall. The center president, however, chalked up the latter incident to boredom rather than hate. A week before this recent fire, the mosque was burglarized.

    In a phone interview with the San Antonio Express-News, Imam Osama Hassan mirrored the sentiments of the center’s statement, following the arson announcement.

    “I don’t know why someone would do such a thing,” he told the Express-News, adding that the Victoria community has offered ample support to the Muslim community.

    Signs rest outside the Victoria Islamic Center a day after a fire destroyed the mosque in Victoria, Texas. Photo by Mohammad Khursheed/Reuters

    Signs rest outside the Victoria Islamic Center a day after a fire destroyed the mosque in Victoria, Texas. Photo by Mohammad Khursheed/Reuters

    Additionally, when the center set up a GoFundMe page for online donations, it set the goal at $850,000 to rebuild the center. To date, more than $1.1 million has been raised. The center said it planned to donate the extra money.

    “We know there are more good people than bad, and we hope whoever did this can get that message,” Hassan said.

    3. Mother sues Pennsylvania school district for delay in notifying parents of lead contamination

    This file photo shows tap water in Flint, Michigan, a city that made headlines for its water issues. Photos by REUTERS/Carlos.

    This file photo shows tap water in Flint, Michigan, a city that made headlines for its water issues. Photos by REUTERS/Carlos.

    Last month, the Butler Area School District in Pennsylvania sent a letter to parents saying officials had found lead in the water at Summit Elementary School, at levels “exceeding acceptable water standards.”

    The only problem, says a mother now suing the school: The letter allegedly came five months after the school district got those results.

    Reuters reports that a woman named Jennifer Tait, whose daughter is enrolled in the school, filed a lawsuit over the toxic levels of lead in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh. She’s arguing there was a “gross delay” in how school officials handled the news of the contamination, which the school district received in August, Reuters says.

    There’s no safe level of lead in water, according to the EPA. But the agency’s threshold is around 15 parts per billion (ppb). The amount of lead found in samples from the district in August ranged from 13 to 55 parts per billion, according to a report from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Copper and E. coli were also found in the water.

    WATCH: Why safe drinking water is no safe bet for some U.S. schools

    Tait’s daughter now has elevated levels of lead in her blood, her lawyers told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; the lawsuit alleges as many as 200 people may have also been harmed by the water.

    In her lawsuit, Tait is seeking “class certification, medical monitoring, and damages for negligence, failure to warn, physical injuries, pain and suffering, violation of the constitutional right to bodily integrity and due process, conspiracy, recklessness and deliberate indifference,” Courthouse News reported.

    Why it’s important

    It can be easy to take what comes out of the tap for granted, but many communities — perhaps more than we realize — don’t have access to safe drinking water.

    Lead is dangerous to anyone, but especially to children and pregnant women. The Centers for Disease Control says high levels of lead can affect a child’s brain development, causing slowed growth, lower IQs and learning disabilities — and those effects can’t be corrected.

    Lead often enters drinking water when old lead or copper pipes erode. The EPA says this issue is most common in buildings built before 1986, just more than 30 years ago.

    In others, it’s the search for cheaper water. That’s what happened to Flint, Michigan, which has made headlines for years over its water crisis. While switching water service providers, officials began to draw water from the Flint River, but never tested to see if it would cause the city’s old pipes to corrode.

    Scientists found elevated levels of lead, along with E. Coli, in the water, which they now say poisoned children and also led to an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease. On average, homes in Flint had a lead level of 27 parts per billion.

    Flint residents Gladyes Williamson, center, holds a bottle of contaminated water, and a clump of her hair during a news conference after attending a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the Flint, Michigan, water crisis in February 2016. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

    Flint residents Gladyes Williamson, center, holds a bottle of contaminated water, and a clump of her hair during a news conference after attending a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the Flint, Michigan, water crisis in February 2016. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

    Even once lead is detected and water is treated, it can take years for water to be safe again. Flint has gone more than 1,000 days without safe drinking water. And though the water recently tested within the EPA’s safe limits, residents were still being asked to use bottled water, says The Washington Post.

    In December, a Reuters report found 3,000 areas with poisoning rates far higher than in Flint.

    A judge dismissed a class action lawsuit over the Flint Water crisis earlier this month, according to Detroit News, but there are four additional lawsuits related to the water crisis still working their way through the system.

    READ MORE: 18 million people served by water systems with lead violations in 2015, report says

    But, across the country, communities are still grappling with the larger problem of how quickly they can detect and respond to lead-contaminated water. Last week, two schools in the Bronx reported dealing with elevated levels of lead, the city’s Department of education said. One school has 16 times the amount of lead in the water than Flint did, DNA info reports. And a report from the Sacramento Bee showed Sacramento County’s school districts don’t regularly test for lead.

    Lawmakers in Washington are introducing bills that would require public water systems to better monitor lead contamination, including one that would require them to replace old pipes, The Seattle Times reports. And some researchers, like those at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, are developing technology that will make it easier and faster to test water for lead.

    And more cities will face a different kind of water issue — affordability — over the next five years, a new study says. If rates continue to rise at their current rate, a third of American households won’t be able to afford their water bills.

    4. Kenya court says the world’s biggest refugee camp must stay open
    Kenya’s High Court halted plans Thursday to shut down the world’s biggest refugee camp.

    The camp, known as Dadaab, is home to more than 300,000 people, according to AFP.

    The ruling issued by Judge John Mativo claimed termination of the camp would prove unconstitutional and that it violated Kenya’s international obligations.

    The Government of the Republic of Kenya fired back at the decision, saying it planned to appeal.

    “For us as Government, Kenya will always come first. The lives of Kenyans matter. Our interest in this case, and in the closure of Dadaab Refugee Camp, remains to protect the lives of Kenyans. It is for this reason that we shall be strongly appealing the decision by the High Court,” the government said in a statement.

    Why it’s important

    This is not the first time the Kenyan Government has attempted to close Dadaab. A vast majority of the camp’s inhabitants are Somalis who have lived there for several years, The Wall Street Journal says. The camp’s residents has continued to increase since its inception in the 1990s, a time of chaotic politics and violence within the country.

    Kenya’s Ministry of Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho

    Plans to close Dadaab occurred at the end of November but plans were delayed until May 2017 at the request of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR.

    The Kenyan Government has repeatedly argued the camp has become a hotbed for numerous attacks by the Islamist militant group, Al-Shabaab. Somalia’s UN-backed government is currently battling the Islamist group in order to regain control of the country, with assistance from the African Union, as documented by the BBC.

    Somalia’s new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, nicknamed “Farmajo,” was sworn in Feb. 8.

    WATCH:Somalia’s president sworn in amid refugee crisis

    The Islamist group has continued to maintain various cells within the country for approximately 25 years and has carried out several attacks in Kenya, including last year’s strike on Garissa University, which killed 148 people, according to The Associated Press.

    The move comes three weeks after Trump issued an executive order barring citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, Somalia included, from entering the U.S. And though a federal appeals court refused to reinstate Trump’s ban Thursday, some refugees within Dadaab had begun to feel its effect.

    Thousands of refugees had already gone through multi-year vetting procedures by U.S. authorities, The Wall Street Journal reports, leaving those who had already prepared to leave Kenya in limbo.

    But Kenya’s high court ruling now means the Kenyan government will have to restore the camp’s operations. It’s not clear how long the government’s appeal, if officials pursue it, would take — or how likely it is to succeed.

    5. Don’t be a beagle

    The 141st Westminster Dog Show is underway — and we already have our first lovable loser.

    During an agility competition over the weekend, Mia the beagle was distracted and decidedly not speedy. In fact, she stopped a couple of times and missed her cues as an announcer pleaded, “Don’t be a beagle. Don’t be a beagle …”

    A beagle — Miss P — won Best in Show in 2015, the second claim to the top honors for the breed in a decade. Mia won’t be taking any prizes home, but she did galvanize the crowd.

    Why it’s important

    Everyone needs a distraction from the news once in a while.

    But on a somewhat related note, new for Westminster this year was the presence of cats at the festivities. Granted, the selected cats were relegated to the American Kennel Club’s “Meet the Breeds” expo — and not the main event — but there was a quote in The New York Times story that stuck out:

    “With the seriousness of the issues and the disagreements people have with friends and neighbors after the election, poking fun at cats and dogs being in one room together is a way to make fun of ourselves,” a cat breeder told the Times.

    So I choose to laugh about Mia’s disastrous performance.

    READ MORE: 5 important stories that aren’t getting much attention this week

    The post 5 important stories you don’t need a Mar-a-Lago membership to read about appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: An iconic American fashion designer tells his story.

    Tommy Hilfiger talked with our Jeffrey Brown at the Miami Book Fair about his new book, “American Dreamer: My Life in the Fashion Business.”

    It is the latest edition to the NewsHour Bookshelf.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Why write a memoir? Why did you stop life and write this thing?

    TOMMY HILFIGER, Author, “American Dreamer: My Life in the Fashion Business”: Look, I had been asked to write it over the years by a few different people. And I kept saying, no, no, no, I think I will wait until I’m much older.

    And then it dawned on me that I might forget a lot in my later years.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    TOMMY HILFIGER: My mind is very fresh now. I have got a lot of energy, so I thought, you know what, for my children’s sake, I would like to take the reader through my journey chronologically.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You talk about coming of age in the ’60s. Did you know what you wanted to do early, at the beginning?

    TOMMY HILFIGER: I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

    And what I really didn’t know was that I was dyslexic.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    TOMMY HILFIGER: And my grades were very, very poor in school. So, I really thought I was one of the dumb ones.

    And I think my teachers also agreed with that, and certainly my father, who held the bar very high for me, agreed with that. And then, when this whole music revolution came about, I was obsessed with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Hendrix, all of the rock groups and rock stars.

    And I thought, well, I want to be a rock star. But I really couldn’t play and I couldn’t sing. But I looked like…

    JEFFREY BROWN: So far, you were millions …

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: The rest of us, right? We all wanted to be rock stars, yes.

    TOMMY HILFIGER: But I looked the part. I had long hair, bell bottoms.

    And a lot of my friends wanted to know where I got my clothes. And a couple of other buddies and I put together our $150 we had saved from working part-time jobs, bought 20 pairs of jeans and opened a shop, at 18 years old.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Really? At that moment, was there a plan or a future that you envisioned? Or was this just sort of making it up as you go along?

    TOMMY HILFIGER: Making it up as we went along. I thought, if I could build my own brand, I could do whatever I want to do with it. I could design it myself. I could market it the way I want to market it.

    I was born in Elmira, New York, a very small town in Upstate New York. So, I thought, if I move to New York City, I could really begin to plant seeds to build my own brand. I wanted to build a brand that that was creative and exciting and unique. But I wanted to make it into a real business.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    TOMMY HILFIGER: And I wanted to distinguish my look from everyone else’s.

    I decided that I should create new American classics. So, I looked at all of the preppy clothes I had worn as a very young boy. And I thought they were very boring and very tired. So, I said, OK, Well, how do I redesign these?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Can you sum up what you didn’t like most of all?

    TOMMY HILFIGER: I didn’t like the fit. I didn’t like the feel of the fabric. I didn’t like that it was too mediocre, so to speak.

    So, I thought, I’m going to make everything, like, relaxed, colorful, detailed. But I wanted to build it for a broad audience. And I wanted it to be as aspirational, affordable, accessible.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The book takes us through a lot of success, but, of course, a lot of problems along the way as well.

    TOMMY HILFIGER: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Were there moments where you thought, this isn’t going to work?

    TOMMY HILFIGER: A couple of times.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    TOMMY HILFIGER: I mean, once in particular, I thought, I should just hang it up, because I was being ridiculed, and I thought I had made this enormous mistake by doing this advertising campaign created by this advertising genius, George Lois.

    He said, look, you just need one ad. You need one ad to allow the public to at least learn your name.

    So, he created this ad campaign that compared me with all the big names in the business.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Right.

    TOMMY HILFIGER: And when we ran that, it was very controversial.

    But people learned that there was a Tommy Hilfiger fashion designer out there, and they should go look at the clothes.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: Why is fashion important? Or is it important? I mean, what is it, in the end, do you think?

    TOMMY HILFIGER: Look, there are many more important things in life than fashion. But fashion, to me, is part of pop culture.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    TOMMY HILFIGER: And I’m an art collector. I’m obsessed with art and pop culture.

    And I say that there is FAME, F-A-M-E, fashion, art, music and entertainment, including celebrity, that really moves the needle in society.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    Looking back at your whole life, right, and you are remembering, does that young kid seem like you? I mean, do you see a clear thread from when you went back to look up to today?

    TOMMY HILFIGER: Yes, because I was always a very positive-thinking person.

    I mean, other than a couple of moments in time, I always thought that, some way, I’m going to make it. I’m just going to make it. And I’m not going to give up. And I’m going to realize that dream.

    So, I never gave up. And I have realized the dream, and I enjoy every moment of every day.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, well, the book is “American Dreamer: My Life in the Fashion Business.”

    Tommy Hilfiger, thank you very much.

    TOMMY HILFIGER: Thank you very much.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just over three weeks into the Trump administration, and, as you heard earlier, reports aren’t going away of disarray inside the White House.

    For more, we turn to our Politics Monday team, Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    Thank you both for being here.

    So, Tam and Amy, we did talk earlier about what is happening to General Flynn, the president himself weighing in.

    So, Tam, you were at the White House this afternoon. What is the latest on that?

    TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Yes.

    So I was at the White House waiting to hopefully talk to Sean Spicer, the press secretary, when the president walked by an area where there were about a dozen, maybe 10 reporters waiting to see Spicer. The president shows up. And reporters asked the president, do you have confidence in General Flynn? What is General Flynn’s status?

    And he said, “Oh, there’s a statement coming.”

    Then someone else shouted, how about Reince Priebus, the chief of staff? Do you have confidence in Reince Priebus?

    And he says: “Reince is doing great. Reince is doing great.”

    So there is a real contrast there between saying, oh, there is a statement coming, a statement that says that the president is evaluating the situation, and saying that the chief of staff is doing great.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A contrast between what he says about General Flynn and what he says about Reince Priebus.

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But also, Amy, a contrast about what they are saying just an hour after Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, said that the president had full confidence in General Flynn.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Although, Judy, you know this. That is a classic line that folks in Washington use, like they use the, he’s taking time off to spend time with his family.

    So, they use — they throw that line out there. It’s really not very definitive. But, look, the issue with Flynn is as much about the frustration within the White House about the fact that he made at least two very high-ranking members of that administration, the vice president and the chief of staff, look like they lied.

    They gave information out on television that wasn’t truthful. And it came directly from Michael Flynn. That seems like the bigger question here than whether or not we can talk about a specific law being broken about the fact that he talked to the Russians before he was officially in his position.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will see what happens about General Flynn and whether he stays in his job.

    But, meantime, Tamara, just quickly, there has been speculation about Reince Priebus. There have been stories out there in the last few days about whether he is on thin ice, whether Sean Spicer, the press secretary, is on thin ice.

    TAMARA KEITH: Right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I mean, how stable are some of these top advisers to the president?

    TAMARA KEITH: It’s not clear. I think there has been a lot of self-interested leaking coming out of that White House and a lot of administration officials saying things about other administration officials, and, you know, friends of the president saying things.

    And it’s all very hazy. There is some thought that President Trump likes to keep people on edge. But this is a lot of noise and commotion and distraction from what are some pretty major issues that the president ran on and could be pursuing.

    But, you know, like, for instance, they don’t fully have an answer yet on what they’re going to do about his immigration ban. They haven’t sent any legislation over to Congress.

    AMY WALTER: And that’s the real issue here, is whether or not this is just about internal fighting and that they are not particularly stable is one thing, just stable internally in terms of the functioning.

    Whether this impedes their ability to actually get stuff done is the real question. So, does it matter? It matters if it matters, right? If the lack of clear lines of delineation, if the infighting is preventing them from actually putting legislation on the Hill, getting an Obamacare replacement, passing tax law, then it is a very big deal.

    If it is just — and, again, remember, this is a president who ran — as a candidate, his campaign looked exactly like this. So the chaos is something that he is either likes or thinks is important, but it didn’t deter him and it didn’t stop him from winning in the first place.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Someone who has been speaking very emphatically for the White House — and I want to ask both of you about this — is the president’s — one of his senior policy advisers, Stephen Miller.

    Tam, he went on four of the Sunday talk show, interview shows yesterday, went after the judiciary, the courts, backed up the president. He was attacked on the courts. At one point, he said the powers of the president are substantial and will not be questioned.

    And when he was asked specifically about — to defend the president’s criticism of the courts, here’s what Stephen Miller said. And this was on ABC “This Week.”

    STEPHEN MILLER, Senior Trump Policy Adviser: We have equal branches of government in this country. The judiciary is not supreme.

    A district judge in Seattle cannot force the president of the United States to change our laws and our Constitution because of their own personal views.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Amy, we have here someone saying that the president doesn’t have to obey the courts? Is that what it sounds like?

    AMY WALTER: Well, there is certainly something, in the way he said it, that makes it come across like that.

    But there is also an argument that the White House is making that they do have grounds to make, which is, the president does have a lot of authority, if you look at the statute regarding immigration, on national security issues, that it is there, and that the courts, while they can make judgments, as they did in this Ninth Circuit, on other issues, the president does have a lot of latitude.

    And that is where this fight should be. But the bottom line is, it goes back to the dysfunction within the office. Had this executive order been written more cleanly, had the rollout gone better, had they made changes to it, we might not be where we are now, having a fight over what the role of the court is in this, because it wouldn’t have gotten there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Tam, these statements yesterday — I watched all of those interviews that Stephen Miller did. He seems to be clearly expressing the frustration from the president.

    TAMARA KEITH: Well, and the president tweeted that Stephen Miller did a great job. He went out there and channeled the president. He went out there and said exactly what the White House wanted to be said.

    And, you know, that wins you support from the president of the United States.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, the other thing he said, and I want to — if we have time, I want to play this clip. He was asked — I want to see if I can find it now. He was asked about — now I won’t be able to find it it. So, we can’t…

    TAMARA KEITH: Oh, was it about …

    (CROSSTALK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sorry.

    It’s about the president’s legacy. He was asked a question about Ivanka Trump, the president defending her work and criticizing Nordstrom, the department store.

    George Stephanopoulos, the ABC anchor, asked him about that. And here is how Stephen Miller turned the corner.

    STEPHEN MILLER: I really hope, George, we can move on to discussing things that the American people care about, like their jobs, like their wages, like their security, like the fact that we have a president who has done more in three weeks than most presidents have done in an entire administration.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Amy, more than — in three weeks more than other presidents in an entire administration.

    AMY WALTER: Not the most recent president. President Obama at this point, literally on this day, the Senate passed his stimulus bill. And that was soon going to be signed into law. So, we haven’t seen anything even get up to the Hill, nonetheless a major piece of legislation getting passed.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But to say the president has done more in three weeks than an entire administration, that is quite a statement.

    TAMARA KEITH: That is quite a statement.

    But, also, President Obama, by this point, had signed more executive orders than President Trump has signed. There are a number of metrics to measure this. Superlatives are always perilous.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, what is for sure is, there is nothing quiet about this White House.

    All right, Tamara Keith, Amy Walter, thank you both.

    AMY WALTER: You’re welcome.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: As we near the gruesome sixth anniversary of the war in Syria, daily documents of the carnage there now flood the Internet. Photos and videos posted by both civilians and combatants catalogue the shocking depths of human cruelty and possible war crimes.

    Now human rights investigators are increasingly turning to the Internet to track what’s happening, not only in Syria, but in other conflict zones.

    As part of our Breakthroughs coverage of invention and innovation, special correspondent Cat Wise reports on a new university program training students to become human rights investigators in the digital age.

    And a warning: This story contains some disturbing images.

    CAT WISE: For decades, human rights investigators have relied on tools like shovels and backhoes to uncover mass graves and mass atrocities in places like Bosnia, Iraq, and Rwanda. But in today’s smartphone-filled world, videos and images of people killed or suffering thousands of miles away take only a couple of clicks to find on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter.

    The front lines of human rights work have shifted in the digital age, and a new generation of investigators is beginning to employ high-tech tools.

    STUDENT: We can probably screen-shot that.

    STUDENT: Yes.

    STUDENT: And reverse-image it.

    STUDENT: Yes.

    STUDENT: And we should look up the name of that pharmacy.

    STUDENT: Can anyone translate that?

    CAT WISE: These students are part of the recently launched Human Rights Investigations Lab at the University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights Center.

    The university and partner organization Amnesty International are training the students to verify videos and other publicly available social media content coming out of areas like Syria, where human rights violations have been occurring.

    For the first time, students are using open source investigation methods used previously by journalists and human rights professionals.

    YOUSTINA YOUSSEF, Student: Oh, those are uniforms.

    CAT WISE: Youstina Youssef is a 20-year-old political science major in the program. She’s become a highly skilled digital detective. And her native language, Arabic, also comes in handy. Youssef grew up in Cairo, Egypt. She and her family are Coptic Christians, a religious minority in Egypt. They came to the U.S. in 2010 shortly before the revolution began.

    YOUSTINA YOUSSEF: I didn’t have a minute of hesitation about this. I jumped right on it. I think it has a lot to do with my background of coming from Egypt, being a regular person, and then being affected by the political scene in the country, and having your life upended.

    This project gives me an outlet, gives me a way to feel like I am contributing in some way.

    ALEXA KOENIG, Executive Director, Berkeley Human Rights Center: Welcome to the spring 2017 launch of the Human Rights Investigations Lab.

    CAT WISE: The 60-plus student volunteers are a diverse group from different majors and the law school. They speak more than 20 languages.

    Alexa Koenig is the executive director of Berkeley’s Human Rights Center. She says the lab was a natural progression for the organization, which has been advancing human rights work, around the world, for more than 20 years.

    ALEXA KOENIG: We have noticed over and over that there are a number of front-line human rights advocates that are really trying to figure out, how do you ensure that the videos they’re getting from survivors on the ground are what they purport to be?

    So, one of the things we were thinking is, couldn’t we leverage our position here to provide the labor that so many of these organizations really can’t afford, but also provide a pipeline of students who are skilled in an area that’s increasingly in demand, front-line human rights workers?

    CAT WISE: And it appears the human rights movement is eager for help. Since the lab began in September, students have been asked by Amnesty and other groups to look at material coming out of Yemen, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Myanmar. But the bulk of their work has been focused on Syria, specifically Aleppo.

    HALEY WILLIS, Student: This is very deep in Aleppo.

    CAT WISE: Haley Willis is a sophomore in the program from Texas. She showed me one of the key methods she and the other students use to verify videos.

    HALEY WILLIS: Geolocation is essentially, did this take place where it says it took place? We’re really used to being able to say, here’s this store, and you type it into Google, you get an address, and you’re done. In Syria, there’s not easily accessible addresses. There’s no Google Street View.

    In this particular video, the thing that stood out to me the most is a white dome sticking out from behind this building right here.

    CAT WISE: Oh, I see that.

    HALEY WILLIS: That is a good place to start for geolocating, because a dome is round. That’s a very distinct shape that you will be able to see from above.

    CAT WISE: Wills then began looking for a needle in a haystack: a tiny dome in pre-war satellite images of Aleppo.

    HALEY WILLIS: I combed through this neighborhood, and I basically looked for every white circular object that I saw. I ended up narrowing it down to about two. You can’t always be 100 percent sure, and you should never say you’re 100 percent sure unless you are.

    CAT WISE: After getting as far as they can, the students turn over their research to the partner organizations for final analysis.

    Screening hours and hours of disturbing images can obviously take a toll. It’s an issue that’s taken very seriously within the program.

    SAM DUBBERLEY, Amnesty International: The most important thing you can do to look after yourself personally is just have awareness, understanding how you normally respond to things and how are you responding after spending a couple of hours looking at and verifying videos.

    CAT WISE: Sam Dubberley works for Amnesty International. The lab partnership with Berkeley was actually his idea. He’s now running three similar programs at universities in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Canada, and each group is required to go through regular resiliency training.

    SAM DUBBERLEY: Just watching a video without sound is actually less distressing than watching it with sound. And very often, the audio is not necessarily important for verification.

    It’s very important to us to make sure the students are trained and given a safe environment, so that they do not suffer any adverse effects of trauma. The reality is, the world of human rights investigation requires you to look at this content today. So, if in two years’ time, three years’ time, you want to move into that field, I think it’s very good for them that they actually understand the skills and the resiliency required to do this job.

    CAT WISE: Under that guided leadership, the students have been cranking away, more than 1,500 hours of verification work thus far. And some of that work has even made it all the way to the United Nations, according to Syrian activist Hadi Al Khatib.

    HADI AL KHATIB, Syrian Activist: The students found a specific type of cluster munitions that has been used in Aleppo City and its countryside. And this has been all included in a verified data set that we have sent to the U.N.

    CAT WISE: Al Khatib runs an organization called the Syrian Archive. He and his colleagues are creating a large database of verified videos documenting human rights violations on all sides since the start of the Syrian civil war.

    I spoke to him on Skype about why he asked Berkeley for help.

    HADI AL KHATIB: With the archive, we have about more than 3,800 videos that have been verified. We still have a backlog of more than 30,000 of videos that we need to go through. So this is why we need the help of Berkeley university students.

    CAT WISE: But the big question, of course, on the minds of both the students and others doing this type of work: Will any of it actually be presented in an international court of law one day? Could a YouTube video lead to the downfall of a leader?

    BEN TAUB, The New Yorker: If there is no geopolitical will to actually help people, then you can have all the videos in the world, and it won’t actually garner support to save people’s lives.

    CAT WISE: Ben Taub is a contributing writer at The New Yorker who has written extensively about human rights violations in Syria. We caught up with him recently on the Columbia University campus, where he talked about the pluses and minuses of open source evidence.

    BEN TAUB: It’s extremely useful for advocacy. It’s also extremely useful for putting the crimes before the international community to try to garner the kind of political pressure that could result in a trial taking place to begin with.

    But it doesn’t necessarily link the actor that you’re trying to prosecute to the crime. Footage of, for instance, a hospital being blown up doesn’t show that that was ordered by Assad or by his highest-level security committee. The kind of evidence that really would get them would be a document, an order, something that’s signed.

    CAT WISE: That’s an issue that is very much on the mind of the Human Rights Center’s Alexa Koenig.

    ALEXA KOENIG: One of the biggest hurdles about using these new methods is that they are so new. So, judges often don’t know how to evaluate, and give any kind of weight to information you’re pulling off Facebook, or Twitter, or these other platforms.

    One of the things we’re hoping to do for kind of investing in the long-term use of these methods is just begin to build an international standard for how to evaluate what constitutes an effective and a good investigation.

    CAT WISE: In the months ahead, the students will continue their work on Syria and start new projects in Africa and Central America.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Cat Wise in Berkeley, California.

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    A Nigerian army convoy vehicle drives ahead with an anti-aircraft gun, on its way to Bama, Borno State, Nigeria August 31, 2016. Picture taken from inside a vehicle. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde       SEARCH "BAMA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.  - RTX2OFV5

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: a rare look at life under the rule of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, as filmed by the group itself.

    Audie Cornish of NPR’s “All Things Considered” recorded this conversation for us last week.

    AUDIE CORNISH: Last year, Voice of America News Service, which is funded by the U.S. government, received a stunning trove of videos from Nigeria, 18 hours of footage recorded by Boko Haram’s own cameras in 2014. The pictures comes from northeastern Nigeria.

    Now, at the time, Boko Haram had total control of the region. The videos take us behind Boko Haram’s assault on the Nigerian military and into villages where their leaders administer rough justice.

    VOA has produced a series of four reports based on the videos.

    And joining me to talk about what we can learn from these images is VOA’s Ibrahim Ahmed. He hosts a weekly program for their service broadcast in Nigeria.

    Thank you for joining us.

    IBRAHIM AHMED, Voice of America: It’s my pleasure.

    AUDIE CORNISH: Now, tell us a little bit about how you were able to verify these videos.

    IBRAHIM AHMED: When the Voice of America got these videos, first of all, we sat down and went through almost all of them.

    And we were able to determine that they came from northeastern Nigeria because the people in the videos speak in Kanuri, which is the predominant language there, and which is also the language of most of the Boko Haram leadership and the members.

    That was the first thing. Then there are references to Boko Haram and to events that only Boko Haram will know, like the attacks carried in some areas of Northeastern Nigeria.

    AUDIE CORNISH: Your reporting shows a couple of things, one, the faces of some leaders and participates in Boko Haram, which I understand is very uncommon. It also shows how they are able to basically bring whole villages into their ideology using violence.

    And in one clip, there is a tribunal where they exert their justice. How do these tribunals work?

    IBRAHIM AHMED: Well, in order to control the people, when Boko Haram captures a place and they want to bring people in line, they will hold these kind of tribunals. And they will force everybody from the village or the town to attend the tribunals.

    They will bring people they’re accusing, whether they are drug users or drug sellers, according to them. They will bring them to these tribunals, and they will read out a statement that you are guilty of this or guilty of that. Do you accept your guilt? Well, if you accept it, fine. You just go and lay down and get killed.

    AUDIE CORNISH: They do something similar with young boys and men who they conscript into fighting.

    You have a video that is unusual, in that it shows a Boko Haram leader basically getting everyone to gear up to fight. Let’s watch that.

    NARRATOR: Awaz says the best of the martyrs are those that fight in the front. They are the ones who do not turn back until they are killed.

    IBRAHIM AHMED: When Boko Haram started in 2009, initially, their membership were made up of the original followers of the Boko Haram. But when they started capturing territory, they started conscripting people.

    AUDIE CORNISH: There is video of a failed attack, essentially, on an army barracks. And you see fighters looking for weapons. You see fighters not necessarily able to use the weapons they have.

    What are the fighting capabilities of Boko Haram at this point?

    IBRAHIM AHMED: Initially, Boko Haram was kind of going into fights with the military with much more powerful weapons then what the military had.

    The military had AK-47 rifles, while the militants come with heavy machine guns, anti-aircraft guns. So, the military had to run away at the time. But, in 2015, the present government in Nigeria, when they started taking the fight to Boko Haram, they were able to adapt themselves and to get those kind of weapons that Boko Haram was using on them.

    And that is when they started winning the war and kicking Boko Haram out of these major cities and towns.

    AUDIE CORNISH: Do you feel as though these are areas that can rebuild?

    IBRAHIM AHMED: It is possible, but it’s going to be really difficult, because the crisis or the carnage that Boko Haram has done in the area is just unbelievable.

    AUDIE CORNISH: Ibrahim Ahmed of Voice of America, thank you so much for speaking with us.

    IBRAHIM AHMED: Thank you so much. My pleasure.

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    Water is released from the Lake Oroville Dam after an evacuation was ordered for communities downstream from the dam in Oroville, California, U.S. February 13, 2017.  REUTERS/Jim Urquhart - RTSYI5E

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: The integrity of a major dam in California comes under threat, after days of historic rainfall in the region.

    William Brangham has our report.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: At Northern California’s Lake Oroville, home to the nation’s tallest dam, water levels finally receded, which stopped the overflow of water from the dam’s emergency spillway.

    This reduced the risk of the spillway’s complete collapse, which would’ve triggered uncontrolled flooding and threatened tens of thousands of homes below.

    At a press conference, local officials couldn’t answer why the system failed.

    WILLIAM CROYLE, California Department of Water Resources: We’re not sure anything went wrong. I think that the system has been installed since early 1960s. It’s been looked. It’s been monitored.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Today, they faced a much tamer scene than on Saturday. Officials had to open the dam’s emergency spillway for the first time in 50 years because of record high water levels caused by recent heavy winter rain and snow.

    When water was drained from the dam’s main spillway, the huge volume eroded chunks of concrete and dug a 30-foot-deep hole at its base. It was then that officials opened the emergency spillway. When that water started eroding the earthen embankment, officials feared the wall would collapse altogether.

    And so, on Sunday, authorities ordered the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people living below the lake. With little notice, residents were stuck in traffic for hours trying to leave.

    NANCY BORSDORF, Evacuee: I panicked and just started putting things in my car, basically my violin, a didgeridoo, some family photos, and I didn’t grab enough clothes. I grabbed some wet laundry. Can you believe that?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The Mercury News reports that officials ignored warnings about the fragility of the emergency spillway for years. Back in 2005, environmental groups warned officials that this other spillway — quote — “didn’t meet modern safety standards.”

    For now, officials hope to drain enough water from the reservoir to make room for the large storm that’s expected on Wednesday.

    For more on the threat at the Oroville Dam, I’m joined now by Jeffrey Mount. He’s senior fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California Water Policy Center. His research focuses on water resources and flood management.

    Thank you very much for being here.

    So, Jeffrey, I understand that the main threat seems to have receded slightly. I think people are still evacuating as we speak. What was it that officials were worried was going to happen?

    JEFFREY MOUNT, Public Policy Institute of California: Well, ultimately, what the big fear was, that there would be an uncontrolled release from the reservoir.

    The worst nightmare of a reservoir engineer is to not be able to control the water behind the reservoir. And the emergency spillway, had it failed and had it collapsed, would basically have lowered the lake level by almost 30 feet. And that is a tremendous amount of water in a short period of time, which would have resulted in catastrophic flooding downstream.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So the basic issue here, obviously, as we reported, is too much rain, too much snow, which I know is a good thing in California normally.

    JEFFREY MOUNT: Yes.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But what is it with regards to the engineering that went wrong here?

    JEFFREY MOUNT: Well, so, we have a couple of things.

    You have to remember that California reservoirs are under tension all the time. We use them to store water. And, of course, we’re just coming out of a record drought. We store water, but we also use them to regulate floods.

    So you have to set aside some space behind the reservoir. And in this case, there’s not much space set behind this reservoir to catch floods. So, it filled. And it filled pretty quickly. And then we had to run water down a spillway. And we were forced to allow water to go over an emergency spill which had never been tested since the Oroville was built in 1968.

    And things didn’t go well when the water went over the spillway. So we ended up with basically, what you can consider the fog of war in a flood event. You never quite know what is going to happen. And water has a way of testing all the shortcomings of your design and your actions. And it did so in Oroville.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, as we reported, there is a hole that was carved out of the main spillway and concrete was basically ripped part by the volume of water.

    JEFFREY MOUNT: Right.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: How are they addressing that issue now?

    JEFFREY MOUNT: Well, they’re not addressing it now. They can’t. They can’t do anything about it because they are running 100,000 cubic feet per second of water down that spillway now.

    They will be able to address it this summer, and they don’t know now what they are going to do about it. But they have lost almost half of that spillway. Just the power of water tore it to pieces and moved it on down into the river downstream.

    There is really nothing they can do today about that spillway. They have to use it.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: We mentioned that there had been some concerns raised about the earthen berm that is underneath the auxiliary spillway. Why is it that that wasn’t shored up? Did people just not see that this was going to possibly be an issue?

    JEFFREY MOUNT: No, I’m sure people thought it was an issue at the time.

    But you are always faced with, how much money are you going to spend to address something that you think is going to be a very, very rare event? And that’s actually what happens in reservoir design, dam design anywhere. You can spend an infinite amount of money to mitigate the most improbable things, but there still is a probability.

    I think the big thing, big takeaway here when you look at this is that the engineers probably dismissed the idea of coating that hillside in concrete, because it would be very, very expensive to mitigate something that was highly unlikely to happen. And it never happened before in the dam’s history.

    Well, now it happened. And, frankly, all our climate projections for the future are suggesting these kind of events might be more frequent and even more intense. So, for us here in California, this is a bit of a time to reflect on what we are asking our reservoirs to do and how we manage them and how we’re going to prepare for the future.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Jeffrey Mount of the Public Policy Institute of California, thank you so much.

    JEFFREY MOUNT: Thank you.

    The post Precarious Oroville Dam highlights challenges of California water management appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    From L: Director of the United States National Economic Council Gary Cohn, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Senior Adviser to the President Jared Kushner and White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon wait for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump before their joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017.     REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTX30IE5

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s been less than a month since Donald Trump took office, but already there are numerous reports that the National Security Council, which advises the president on key foreign, military and intelligence issues, is in disarray.

    The leader of the NSC, retired Army General Michael Flynn, has come under increasing criticism for his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.

    We turn now to Leon Panetta. He served as the director of the CIA and secretary of defense during the Obama administration. He also served as White House chief of staff for President Clinton. And David Sanger, he covers national security for The New York Times.

    And we welcome both of you back to the program.

    David Sanger, I’m going to start with you.

    You and your colleagues at The New York Times wrote a pretty remarkable story yesterday about — well, you can’t use any words other than disarray, chaos, inside the National Security Council. Given that, and the events of today, where do things stand?

    DAVID SANGER, The New York Times: Well, I think that everybody in the National Security Council is wondering when they’re going to begin to get to what the council is supposed to be doing, which is coordinate among the different agencies of government, bring in intelligence, debate policy.

    And several things have gotten in the way of doing that, Judy. The first is that, as you reported before, General Flynn has been under this cloud and investigation. And now we hear just a little while ago that President Trump and Vice President Pence are considering his fate, that just an hour after we were told that he’s got the president’s full confidence.

    The second thing that is going on is that the staff itself is a little bit paranoid right now. They know that Mr. Flynn has talked about starting an insider threat program. That seems to them to be an invitation for their e-mails to be monitored, their cell phones to be watched. We don’t know that any of that is going to happen, but it gives you a sense of the mood.

    And the third thing is that many of the people on the NSC, this body that is supposed to coordinate all this different policy, come from the agencies, and they feel as if they have been frozen out. And yet there is no one above them who has got a clear job responsibility.

    So I would say that, for an operation that is supposed to run like a business, it’s not running much like a business.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, there’s a lot to tackle there.

    But, Secretary Panetta, I want to go first to the fate of Michael Flynn, the general who is the president’s national security adviser. As we have been reporting and as David just said, the president himself issued a statement through his press secretary tonight saying that he’s talking to the vice president about what to do.

    Is what General Flynn reportedly did, talking to the Russian ambassador to the U.S. before President Trump takes office about what to do about Russian sanctions, is that something that is just off — should be, frankly, off-limits for someone in his position, advising the president-to-be?

    LEON PANETTA, Former U.S. Secretary of Defense: Well, there’s a lot for the president and the vice president to consider here.

    I think first and foremost is, one of the principal qualities that you need as national security adviser is trust, the trust of the president. And that depends on truth and it depends on honesty. And if, indeed, the national security adviser didn’t tell the truth to the vice president, and the vice president in turn went out to the American people and said that he had had no such conversations with the Russian ambassador, I think that’s a serious matter, and one for them to think seriously about.

    With regards to the substance of what was discussed, you know, it’s hard to tell exactly what these conversations were about. I think it is of concern in terms of judgment for somebody who is not in a position of power to raise the sanctions issue. I think the sanctions issue in general is a terrible mistake to even imply that we would withdraw from those sanctions.

    But I guess more seriously here is the issue of just exactly what was discussed. And those issues are under investigation, both by the FBI, as well as the Congress.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Secretary Panetta, let me stay with you, because while we wait to learn the fate of General Flynn, what David Sanger and his colleagues are reporting on is the situation inside the National Security Council, the staff. Is that typical for the early days of a new administration?

    LEON PANETTA: No. No, it certainly isn’t.

    I think the other quality that a national security adviser must have is the ability to set up procedures. Look, he’s an adviser. He’s staff. He’s not the president of the United States. His primary responsibility is to set up the procedures that would allow the deputies to meet, the principals to meet and the National Security Council in order for them to move forward recommendations to the president of the United States, who makes the final decision.

    As far as I know, none of those processes have been put in place. We’re almost a month into this administration. We’re dealing with a number of crises around the world. I think this is a very dangerous moment not to have those procedures in place.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, David Sanger, what more have you learned about why these procedures aren’t in place, why there is still so much uncertainty on the part of people working for the National Security Council?

    DAVID SANGER: Well, I think part of it, Judy, is that what we’re seeing happen here is an administration that came in saying that it would destroy the status quo, that it got elected to do something different. And it has brought in people who it deliberately chose for the fact that they were outside Washington.

    But that meant that they didn’t have around them the people who understood how the system worked. And so you saw General Flynn come in, I think, without much of an understanding, though he had run the Defense Intelligence Agency, of how this coordinating role came together.

    And, you know, people who know the NSC well talk about the days when General Brent Scowcroft ran it for George H.W. Bush, when others familiar with how these organizations are supposed to come together, how you build a staff, as Secretary Panetta did at the CIA and as chief of staff.

    And I think most of these folks have come in without that experience, and then they brought in Cabinet members who largely came from the business world, bring a refreshing, different view to this, but also have no sense of how the system is supposed to run.

    So, the basics, running deputies committees to make decisions and run those up to the principals, aren’t happening.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    Secretary Panetta, what are the risks in a situation like this?

    LEON PANETTA: Well, you’re running terrible risks.

    We saw a little bit of that over the weekend with the North Korean missile launch and what seemed to be the inability of the White House to respond definitively to what had happened.

    Those kinds of crises are going to happen. We’re dealing with a number of crises, whether it’s ISIS, whether it’s Iran, whether it’s North Korea, whether it’s Russia or China, cyber-attacks. There is a whole array of crises out there. If you don’t have a mechanism in the White House that is able to deal with those crises in a thoughtful and careful way, in order to move options to the president, then you’re going to have a very hit-and-miss operation, the kind that we’re seeing now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: David Sanger, I know this is speculation, but if there were someone to come in to replace Michael Flynn if he is removed, how much difference would that make, based on your reporting?

    DAVID SANGER: Well, it depends on who it is, whether you bring in somebody else who might have the confidence of the president, but not understand the NSC procedures, or whether you bring in somebody who has done this before, but might not fit in well with that inner team around the president.

    And, of course, the most important thing for an NSC adviser is to have the trust of the president. So people have named, for example, Steve Hadley, who was the national security adviser under George W. Bush in his second term and had been experienced in things like this. There are a few other Republicans around who have also had that experience.

    But none of them have connections to Mr. Trump. And Mr. Trump seems to be mostly impressed these days with people who have had either military experience — most of the senior directors he has appointed on the NSC come from the military — or have been very successful in business.

    And neither of those two backgrounds, necessarily, help you with what the NSC does.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And very quickly to Secretary Panetta, new person comes in, can that turn things around quickly?

    LEON PANETTA: If that person has experience in terms of how the NSC is supposed to operate, then I think you can put in place the procedures that are required to do.

    But that person is going to have to have the trust of the president first and foremost. And, if he has that, or she has that, it can work.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary Leon Panetta, David Sanger, we thank you both.

    The post What Michael Flynn’s communication with Russia means for national security appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    National security adviser Michael Flynn (R) and Senior Counselor Steve Bannon board Air Force One at West Palm Beach International airport in West Palm Beach, Florida U.S., February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTSYC05

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There is word from the White House tonight that the president is mulling the fate of his national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn. That follows a day when Mr. Trump hosted a new VIP visitor.

    John Yang has our report.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Our two nations share much more than a border. We share the same values.

    JOHN YANG: President Trump may have been full of praise for Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but the policy differences were clear. On immigration, Mr. Trump touted new roundups.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And I said at the beginning we are going to get the bad ones, the really bad ones. We’re getting them out. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. I think that in the end everyone is going to be extremely happy. And I will tell you right now a lot of people are very, very happy right now.

    JOHN YANG: Mr. Trump is also fighting in federal court to reinstate a ban on travelers from seven mostly Muslim countries. In sharp contrast, Mr. Trudeau has welcomed some 40,000 refugees from war-torn Syria, but, today, he declined to criticize Mr. Trump.

    JUSTIN TRUDEAU, Canadian Prime Minister: The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern themselves. My role, our responsibility is to continue to govern in such a way that reflects Canadians’ approach and be a positive example in world.

    JOHN YANG: The two leaders also talked NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

    JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Millions of good jobs on both sides of the border depend on the smooth and easy flow of goods and services and people back and forth across our border. And both President Trump and I got elected on commitments to support the middle class, to work hard for people who need a real shot at success.

    JOHN YANG: Mr. Trump has called for renegotiating NAFTA, but, today, he soft-pedaled that stance.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have a very outstanding trade relationship with Canada. We will be tweaking it. We will be doing certain things that are going to benefit both of our countries. It’s a much less severe situation than what’s taken place on the southern border.

    JOHN YANG: The president wasn’t asked about Michael Flynn, his embattled national security adviser, and he ignored shouted questions after the formal news conference ended.

    The Washington Post reports that, despite his earlier denial, Flynn did talk to the Russian ambassador to the United States about dropping sanctions on Moscow before the inauguration. That would have been illegal, since he was a private citizen at the time. In addition, he appears to have misled Vice President Pence, who publicly vouched for Flynn.

    Now the retired general says he can’t recall if he and the Russian envoy discussed the sanctions. Today, senior Trump Kellyanne Conway said Flynn still had the president’s full confidence, that after senior policy adviser Stephen Miller pointedly declined to defend Flynn over the weekend.

    QUESTION: Would that be considered a fireable offense in the Trump White House?

    STEPHEN MILLER, Senior Trump Policy Adviser: It’s not for me to answer hypotheticals. It wouldn’t be responsible. It’s a sensitive matter. General Flynn has served his country admirably. He served his country with distinction.

    JOHN YANG: The Kremlin said again today that Flynn didn’t discuss lifting sanctions with the Russian ambassador.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m John Yang at the White House.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Matters took a different turn just within the past hour when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer read a statement to reporters, saying that the president is — quote — “evaluating the situation” regarding Michael Flynn and he is speaking with Vice President Pence about it.

    In the day’s other news: The U.S. Senate moved to confirm two more Trump Cabinet nominees this evening. They are former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin for secretary of the treasury, and Dr. David Shulkin to head the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Senators grappled this afternoon over Mnuchin’s record at OneWest Bank, when it foreclosed on thousands of homes.

    SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, D-R.I.: I simply cannot forgive somebody who took a look at that banking crisis, who took a look at the pain that Wall Street had sent in a wave across all of America and thought, ah, here’s a great new way to make money, foreclosing on people. Done. I’m out. Sorry, can’t vote for somebody like that.

    SEN. ORRIN HATCH, R-Utah: They have essentially thrown everything, including the kitchen sink, at this nominee in a desperate attempt to block his confirmation. Well, so far, Mr. President, nothing has worked. That’s because none of the allegations that my colleagues have raised can withstand even a modest amount of scrutiny.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Shulkin, the Veterans nominee, is a former Obama administration official and has had greater bipartisan support.

    President Trump vowed today to — quote — “deal with North Korea,” after it test-fired a new type of solid-fuel ballistic missile early Sunday. He didn’t elaborate. North Korean state TV today released video of the launch. A U.S. tracking of the intermediate-range missile showed it traveled about 310 miles, before landing in the Sea of Japan.

    A powerful storm dumped two feet of snow or more on states along the Northeast Seaboard today. The storm blasted its way from Upstate New York to Maine, touching off car crashes and closing roads and hundreds of schools. Crews worked to dig out streets, as the snow kept coming.

    MAN: Our biggest concern moving forward is what’s happening with all this snow. We’re worried about snowplow drivers blocking vents or snow falling off of roofs.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The storm is expected to ease tonight, but coastal towns are bracing for flooding.

    A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has denied the latest bid by two Sioux Indian tribes to block completion of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. The judge ruled that there’s no immediate risk as long as oil is not yet running through the line. The tribes say the pipeline will endanger water supplies and cultural sites, and they vow to pursue the case.

    On Wall Street today, financial stocks led a broad advance. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 142 points to close at 20412, another new Dow record. The Nasdaq rose 29, and the S&P 500 added 12.

    They’re still buzzing about the Grammy Awards and a banner night for Adele. She won for song and record of the year with “Hello,” and album of the year, “25.” It came at the expense of Beyonce, who won instead for best contemporary urban album with “Lemonade.”

    But it fueled new criticism that black artists are overshadowed, and Adele said later that Beyonce deserved the album award. All this on the same day a seven-time Grammy Winner, Al Jarreau, died in Los Angeles, just two days after announcing his retirement. Jarreau was lauded for his deft vocals and earned critical acclaim in R&B and pop as well as jazz. His best-known hits included 1981’s “We’re in This Love Together.” Al Jarreau was 76 years old.

    The post News Wrap: Pressure mounts against national security adviser appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Federal Reserve  Chair Janet Yellen holds a news conference following day two of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in Washington, U.S., December 14, 2016.  REUTERS/Gary Cameron  - RTX2V23E

    NAIRU is the unemployment rate below which inflation should rise, thereby justifying tighter monetary policy. However, each time unemployment has threatened to break through NAIRU, the Federal Reserve has lowered its estimate of NAIRU rather than raise interest rates. Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

    For years, Fed watchers have been getting antsy as unemployment falls toward the central bank’s estimate of the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment, or NAIRU. NAIRU is what the Federal Reserve uses to estimate how low the unemployment rate can get before inflation rises. However, as shown in the graphic below, each time unemployment has threatened to break through the NAIRU, the Federal Reserve has lowered its estimate of NAIRU rather than raise interest rates. Why?

    READ MORE: With steady job creation in January, slow wage growth still puzzles

    The answer would appear to be in wage growth. As shown in the small inset graph, there is a strong relationship between wage growth and slack in the labor market — as measured by the difference between the unemployment rate and the Fed’s NAIRU estimate. What this suggests is that the Fed has consistently overestimated wage growth, leading it to lower its NAIRU estimate when new wage data come out.

    CFR

    As the yellow highlighted part of the graphic shows, we appear to be at a turning point.  Wage growth was strong over the second half of last year, leading the Fed to leave NAIRU estimates unchanged as the unemployment rate continued to fall. That rate is now near the bottom of the Fed’s NAIRU range. This supports the case for the Fed to hike interest rates.

    Falling wage growth could continue as previously discouraged workers return to the job market, increasing the labor supply and thus reducing pressure on employers for higher pay.

    But beware. Though the Atlanta Fed measure of wage growth remains strong at around 3.5 percent, wage growth slowed last month. Falling wage growth could continue as previously discouraged workers return to the job market, increasing the labor supply and thus reducing pressure on employers for higher pay.

    Should wage growth fall to 2.5 percent, we can, on past experience, expect the Fed to lower NAIRU again, such that its measure of labor market slack rises from zero to as much as 0.8 percentage points. If that happens, the Fed will put interest rate hikes on hold.

    The post Column: Why does the Fed keep lowering its unemployment threshold instead of raising rates? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during a news briefing Tuesday that President Donald Trump did not tell National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to discuss sanctions with Russia during his transition into office.

    “No, absolutely not, no, no, no,” Spicer said to a reporter who asked whether Trump had instructed Flynn to discuss Russian sanctions during a conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

    Flynn resigned late Monday night, following reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russia. His departure upends Trump’s senior team after less than one month in office.

    READ MORE: Flynn told to leave after losing Trump trust, spokesman says

    Flynn’s resignation — which one White House official said was offered at the request of the president — came after reports that the Justice Department had alerted the White House weeks ago that there were contradictions between Trump officials’ public accounting of the Russia contacts and what intelligence officials knew to be true based on routine recordings of communications with foreign officials who are in the U.S.

    Spicer told reporters at the news briefing that the issue wasn’t whether Russian sanctions were discussed. It was an issue of whether Flynn misled Pence and other officials about the nature of the call.

    “When he lost trust with the President, that’s when the President asked for and received his resignation,” Spicer said.

    Watch Spicer’s full news briefing in the player above.

    The post WATCH: Trump did not instruct Flynn to talk about Russian sanctions, Spicer says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Leonardo Lacruz (L), the Venezuela director of multinational headhunter Korn/Ferry, talks to a man, during an interview at his office in Caracas August 3, 2015. Headhunters across Latin America are tapping Venezuela for low-cost professionals as a deepening economic crisis has left many skilled workers earning less money than taxi drivers and waiters. Highly-trained Venezuelans are seeking to escape a decaying socialist economy in which they often have to work second jobs and spend hours in line to buy basic goods such as milk or diapers. Picture taken on August 3, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins - RTX1N6KG

    Photo by Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

    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.


    Is telling a recruiter your salary different from telling an employer?

    Question: I have your book, “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” which teaches why and how to avoid telling an employer your salary history. And I agree with you: If you disclose your salary when applying for a job, it hurts your ability to negotiate the best job offer. I’ve followed your advice. But now, in “Recruiters Don’t Need Your Salary History — But Here’s Why They Want It,” HR expert Liz Ryan brings up another question: Should you tell a recruiter your salary? She says absolutely not, and hundreds of people have posted their comments. I want to know what you say. Is telling a recruiter your salary different from telling an employer?

    Nick Corcodilos: I don’t think you should ever disclose your salary history to any employer. But that’s not what Ryan’s column is about. She’s saying you should never disclose your salary to a recruiter.

    Let’s be clear on one thing, because it’s important. When she says don’t tell a recruiter your salary, she makes it clear she’s referring to a third-party recruiter or a headhunter — not a recruiter working in the employer’s HR department. The recruiter she’s talking about will earn a fee if you are hired and also stands to gain tremendously if you’re happy with your job offer and new job. A happy, newly placed candidate refers more great candidates that are worth a lot of money to a good headhunter.

    READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: Am I being bribed to take a job?

    Ryan is wrong, because a headhunter’s motivation is very different from an employer’s. A good headhunter can use your salary history to help you, not hurt you — because the headhunter wants valuable referrals from you after you accept a new job she’s helped you land.

    Employers and headhunters have different motives.

    Never tell an employer your old salary because he’ll use it to cap any offer he makes to you. In other words, your old salary becomes what’s known in behavioral economics as an anchor. It pulls down the job offer, with seeming justification. It saves the employer money to pay you less.

    A good headhunter can use your salary history to help you, not hurt you — because the headhunter wants valuable referrals from you after you accept a new job she’s helped you land.

    A headhunter actually earns a higher fee when your job offer is higher, so she is motivated to get you the best offer possible without jeopardizing an offer altogether.

    There’s no good reason to give an employer your salary history. The only good reason to tell a headhunter your old salary is if it’s going to help you get a higher job offer. And that’s where Ryan blows it while she bangs the drum to say no. She’s confusing motives, and that’s naïve. There’s more to it.

    When to tell a headhunter your salary

    Here are my two rules about salary disclosure:

    1. If it’s an employer asking — the hiring manager, the HR manager, the HR recruiter or the company’s online application form — do not disclose your salary, ever.
    2. If it’s a headhunter or third party recruiter, disclose your salary only if:
      • The headhunter agrees not to disclose it to the employer. No exceptions.
      • The headhunter explains how she’s going to use the information for your benefit — and the reason had better be good.

    If the headhunter can’t pass those two tests, don’t tell.

    While a headhunter is paid by the employer (her client) and thus has a fiduciary duty to get the best deal for the client, the headhunter is also beholden to you if she wants introductions to more good candidates — and a sterling reputation in the professional community she recruits in.

    So a good headhunter will not use your salary history to low-ball your job offer for the benefit of her client. If you think she’s going to do that, then walk away immediately — because that’s not a headhunter you want playing middle man for you with any employer.

    READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: How to tell a good headhunter from a bad one

    When Ryan says not to disclose salary to a recruiter, what she should be saying is: Walk away from any headhunter you’re not sure you trust.

    And that means most headhunters who solicit you, because they’re not headhunters — they’re unsavory telemarketers dialing for dollars. They will never do a good job for you. Work only with the best or don’t work with a headhunter at all. Satisfy yourself that the headhunter is going to optimize your job offer — and, more importantly, get you in front of the right manager for the right job.

    Here’s the advice Ryan left out of her column.

    Why disclose your salary to a headhunter?

    What good reasons could a good headhunter possibly have for wanting to know your salary?

    If it’s me, I want to understand how your career growth and salary growth reflect one another.

    • Do I think you’re overpaid? Underpaid?
    • Do I think you’re squandering your abilities for too little money?
    • Or are you living a fantasy about what you’re going to earn next?
    • How does that affect what salary you should be asking for?

    I’d rather discuss that with you before you talk with my client, because it could affect how I advise you to interview and negotiate.

    Maybe you’re on the wrong career trajectory. You might be earning at the top of the range for, say, a digital design engineer. If you want to be a research and development engineer, you may have to take a step back in salary to shift to the new career direction. I want to prepare you for that. I don’t want you to get sticker shock after you’ve invested your time in interviews with my client.

    If you don’t trust a headhunter like you’d trust a doctor to share your personal information, then don’t work with that headhunter.

    The 92 percent salary increase

    I’ll give you an example of when it pays to tell a headhunter your salary. I recruited a candidate who was earning $40,000. I helped him get a 92 percent salary increase.

    He was hoping to get a 10 percent salary bump. After a lot of assessment (including talking with his references and having him talk with an industry expert whose opinion I respected), I knew he’d be great for a very different kind of job with my client.

    I asked for and got the candidate’s salary history — but I never disclosed it. I used it to coach him properly so he could get a better deal.

    If I hadn’t asked for his salary history, he’d have blown the interview, because the job paid over $70,000. His jaw would have dropped if this came up in the interview, and he would have betrayed his old salary if only in his mannerisms. My client never would have offered what he was worth. I would have had no idea if I didn’t know the candidate’s salary.

    We had a long talk about how to behave while discussing a job that would almost double his salary. Based on the candidate’s aptitude, I negotiated a $77,000 job offer. My client never batted an eye and never learned what its new hire had been earning. The candidate and his wife were able to buy their first house. I earned a nice fee — and several great referrals. The new hire performed so well that I got more search assignments.

    I asked for and got the candidate’s salary history — but I never disclosed it. I used it to coach him properly so he could get a better deal.

    If you’re not satisfied a headhunter is going to work that way with you, hang up the phone, or delete her email.

    It’s up to you to draw a line in the sand. 

    A headhunter is not an employer. Different rules apply when a job seeker deals with a headhunter. That’s why I wrote a 130-page book about “How to Work with Headhunters, and how to make headhunters work for you.” What I just explained is in the book.

    Liz Ryan can offer good advice. This time she is wrong. Her advice to not disclose your salary is reasonable only if you’re dealing with a questionable or unsavory headhunter or recruiter — but in that case, you shouldn’t be working with that recruiter anyway! Just as there are plenty of lousy HR people who will waste your time, there are plenty of unsavory headhunters.

    READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: I can’t network for a job! It’s too awkward!

    If you’ve properly vetted the headhunter and the headhunter gives you satisfactory answers to the two tests I posed above, you’ll gain a lot by letting the headhunter know your salary history, so she can assess and coach you properly. A good headhunter stands to make a lot of money by helping you get the right job for the best possible salary. And the headhunter’s client never needs to know your old salary.

    If you don’t know how to separate good headhunters from unsavory ones, check the nine tips in “The truth about headhunters.”

    Dear Readers: Have you ever worked with a headhunter who helped you get a really great new job and salary? How did he or she do it? Maybe you’ve only gotten burned by recruiters — what have you learned from it? How do you tell the goods ones from the unsavory ones?


    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: Should you tell a recruiter your salary? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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