Monday, May 02, 2016

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 4/29/2016

"Shields and Brooks on Trump’s primary sweep, Clinton’s ‘woman’s card’" PBS NewsHour 4/29/2016

COMMENT:  Humm.... what would happen if Hillary asks Bernie to be Vice President and he accepts?


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including the increasing likelihood of Donald Trump as the GOP nominee, how Hillary Clinton’s is playing off one of Trump’s remarks, and how Sen. Bernie Sanders can still influence the race.

THE WALKING MAN - Paul Salopek

"The man who’s walking around the world follows footsteps of old Silk Road traders" PBS NewsHour 4/29/2016


SUMMARY:  Three years ago, Pulitzer-winning journalist Paul Salopek embarked on a decade-long walk around the world, charting the path of the original human emigrants who left their birthplace in eastern Africa to spread across the globe.  As he prepares to follow the Silk Road from Central Asia into China, Salopek checks in with Hari Sreenivasan to reflect on his journey thus far and what lies ahead.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Last fall, we took you to the Southern Caucasus Mountains in the country of Georgia to meet Paul Salopek.  He is the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent on an epic journey he calls the Out of Eden Walk.

Beginning in the Great Rift Valley in Africa in 2013, Salopek is now three years into a decade-long walk around the world.  After our walk with Paul, he crossed Azerbaijan, and then, around Christmas, hopped a freighter across the Caspian Sea, toward Central Asia.

And Paul Salopek joins me again.

Paul, tell our audience where we find you now.

PAUL SALOPEK, National Geographic Fellow:  Today I’m in the port city of Aktau, Kazakstan, which is a very remote and isolated sort of starting line for the next Asiatic phase of the walk.

This is kind of where the Silk Road butted up against the Caspian Sea.  And you might be able to hear a little bit of surf in the background.  And it’s a very off-the-map place.  I mean, it’s about, I don’t know, 100,000, 150,000 people, an old uranium mining town under the Soviet era.

And I will be walking due east from here as the sun rises towards China.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  How long to get to China?

PAUL SALOPEK:  It’s going to be an interesting passage, if the weather cooperates.  I have some big mountains to go over.  Maybe as soon as this coming winter, but more likely springtime.

It’s about 3,000 kilometers away.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  And these 3,000 kilometers are different geographically and topographically than what you have already covered, right?

PAUL SALOPEK:  Yes, they are.  They’re very different.

As you recall, the last time I reported in, I was in the Caucasus, which is a very, relatively heavy populated corner of the world, very rugged, mountainous, also a crossroads of the world, lots of different cultures, languages, ancient migration, ancient invasions.

What I have before me now is a pretty arid plain, a high plateau of dry, brittle grasses with very little water.  So it’s going to be more like an expedition this time.  Rather than walking from farm to farm, I’m going to actually have to camp out and look for water and go into survival mode on this stretch.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  So, how do you ensure that you have enough food and water?

PAUL SALOPEK:  I just last weekend purchased a cargo horse, a Kazakh horse.  These are very sturdy little ponies.  They can walk very far with very little water.  And I will be leading that animal, and it will be carrying part of my water and part of my food.

Also, I had to do something that I have not done since Saudi Arabia.  Over the last many weeks, I have had to go out and actually cache water, which is a very strange, a very surreal experience in this gigantic stage of open grass and sky.

Caching water means driving out to certain points along the proposed walking route and digging a hole in the ground and plucking in 10 to 15 liters of bottled water and then covering it up and taking a GPS coordinate.  And so going out there and planning a few mouthfuls of water in this gigantic, operatic landscape is very strange.  It’s kind of like a conceptual art piece.

Out of Eden Walk Map Room

AFGHANISTAN - Tragedy of Errors

"Pentagon:  Hospital bombing due to U.S. offensive strike to assist Afghan forces" PBS NewsHour 4/29/2016

 AC-130 Gunship


SUMMARY:  The Pentagon revealed that the bombing of an Afghan hospital occurred when U.S. forces preemptively fired to clear the way for an Afghan offensive.  U.S. and Afghan forces were not under fire when U.S. aircraft destroyed the hospital.  Hari Sreenivasan takes an in-depth look at the series of errors with Jamie McIntyre of the Washington Examiner.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  The Pentagon laid out the key findings of its full investigation today, as well as the fallout affecting 16 service members.

Head of U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel:

GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL, Commander, U.S. Central Command:  The investigation concluded that certain personnel failed to comply with the rules of engagement in the law of armed conflict.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  The bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital last October in Kunduz, Afghanistan killed 42 people.  Of the 16 service members who were punished, one was a two-star general and some were specials ops forces.  They face administrative actions, but Votel maintained their actions didn't constitute a war crime.

GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL:  The label war crimes is typically reserved for intentional acts, intentionally targeting civilians or intentionally targeting protected objects or locations.

The investigation found that the incident resulted from a combination of unintentional human errors, process errors and equipment failures, and that none of the personnel knew they were striking a hospital.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Even though they didn't know they were hitting a hospital, the investigation found they made multiple fundamental and fatal errors.

For example, the AC-130 gunship's targeting system became misaligned after its crew attempted to avoid fire over Kunduz.  That resulted in their target appearing as an empty field, instead of a building filled with Taliban fighters firing on Afghan troops.  The crew then switched its focus to the hospital, thinking it was the original target, based on descriptions relayed from special forces on the ground.

GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL:  So the aircraft is looking at one location.  The ground force is thinking they're looking at another location.  There's no way to visually confirm that back and forth between them, and their discussions, as you look at the transcripts, don't add clarity to that.

HALF-EARTH - How to Save Life on Earth

"How to save life on Earth, according to E.O. Wilson" PBS NewsHour 4/28/2016

Sorry Prof, but extinction is natures methodology, and you "can't fool with Mother Nature."

IF doable, the first step is mandatory human population control.  Cut our population 50% (cut Trump and friends loose with AK47s).  Or we could use the method used in the movie "Logan's Run," no one lives past 30.


SUMMARY:  Biologist and Pulitzer winner E.O. Wilson has spent his life studying animals and fighting for their conservation.  As species go extinct at 1,000 times the normal rate thanks to human interference, Wilson’s new book “Half Earth” holds a bold plan to preserve the world’s biodiversity: set aside half of the entire planet for natural habitats.  Jeffrey Brown talks to Wilson for more.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Scientist and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward O. Wilson first gained fame for his study of ants.  Through the years, he’s moved from small insects to big ideas, and now a very big one, one made more urgent by the problems of climate change.

Jeffrey Brown has our profile in his second report from Southern Alabama.

E.O. WILSON, Author, “Half Earth”:  I was just a 12-, 13-year-old boy, and it was just a wonderland to me.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Edward O. Wilson spent his formative years in Mobile, Alabama, looking for snakes and insects in the surrounding delta.

E.O. WILSON:  If I could, I would just do the same thing today that I did then, but it would look funny.


JEFFREY BROWN:  The experience would shape him, as biologist, evolutionary theorist, naturalist, and at age 86 perhaps most important to him now conservationist.

E.O. WILSON:  What is man?  Storyteller, mythmaker, and destroyer of the living world.

JEFFREY BROWN:  His new book, “Half Earth: Our Planet’s Fight For Life,” takes on nothing less than the survival of plant and animal life on earth.

E.O. WILSON:  Yearning to be more master than steward of the declining planet.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Wilson’s solution is in the title, setting aside half the Earth as natural habitat.

We spoke beneath the old live oak trees at Fort Blakeley Historic Park, where Wilson’s great-grandfather fought in one of the last battles of the Civil War.

Half Earth.  Are you serious?

E.O. WILSON:  I’m serious.  I know it sounds radical, but we must have it if we’re going to save most of the species remaining on Earth.  And it’s easier to do than most people might think.

JEFFREY BROWN:  It sounds impossible.  It sounds for some people crazy.

E.O. WILSON:  I was just going to use the word insane.


E.O. WILSON:  Yes, it sounds that way, because they envision cutting the Earth into two hemispheres, one for us and one for the other 10 million species.  But, no, we mean giving 50 percent or setting it aside, patches, some large wilderness areas, others far, far smaller, in order to make that amount of reserve area.

BROKEN JUSTICE - The Obama Fix and U.S. Senate Fix

"An inside look at the Obama administration’s criminal justice reforms" PBS NewsHour 4/28/2016


SUMMARY:  Top senators revealed a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill on Thursday that includes changes to sentencing guidelines for some offenders and the creation of reentry programs for newly released prisoners.  The move comes as the Obama administration is pushing its own series of initiatives.  Judy Woodruff talks to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates for more on that effort.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  On Capitol Hill today, a group of top senators unveiled a bipartisan bill to reform the nation’s criminal justice system.

Among other things, the legislation would reduce prison sentences for some nonviolent drug offenders, and create programs to help offenders reenter society.  The move comes at the same time the Obama administration is pushing a series of criminal justice initiatives.

Spearheading that effort is Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who joins us now.

Deputy Attorney General Yates, thank you for being with us.

SALLY YATES, Deputy Attorney General:  Well, thank you for having me.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, tell us what the thrust of the administration’s criminal justice reform efforts are.  What are you trying to fix?

SALLY YATES:  Well, we’re trying to accomplish a number of things.

First, with the sentencing reform bill, we’re really trying to bring proportionality back to sentencing, and specifically for lower-level nonviolent drug offenders.  And then with our Reentry Week this week, we’re really trying to highlight the importance of assuring that those who are returning from prison have just those basic tools they need in order to be able to be successful.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, what are some examples of that?  What are some things that they need that they aren’t getting right now, most of them?

SALLY YATES:  Well, just imagine right now that you’re leaving prison.  You may or may not have a family to go back to.  Particularly if you were incarcerated a long way from where your family lives, your wife may have divorced you at this point, so you may or may not have a family to go back to.

And you may or may not have had a chance to stay in touch with your children during this time as well.  It’s expensive for people to travel.  So, you have got to find a place to live.  Public housing is difficult.  Some public housing operations will not allow convicted felons.  Then you have got to find a job.  And finding a job is really difficult at all right now, but just imagine if you have to add convicted felon to your resume.

NEWSHOUR BOOKSHELF - Memoir "Switched On"

"The shocking experience of finally seeing the full spectrum of emotion" PBS NewsHour 4/27/2016


SUMMARY:  A medical procedure used to diagnose damage from brain injuries may also help some autistic patients make connections and understand emotions they’ve never experienced.  Author John Robison underwent that experimental therapy, detailed in a new memoir, “Switched On.” Hari Sreenivasan talks with Robison about his experience.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  In the latest NewsHour Bookshelf conversation, a look into a potential new treatment for autism.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, can be used to diagnose damage from brain injuries and disorders.  But a new study investigates whether the therapy can help some autistic patients make connections and understand emotions they have never experienced.

I recently spoke with one such patient.

John Robison, thanks so much for joining us.

So, first, let’s start with, what is transcranial magnetic stimulation, and why did you decide to participate in this research?

JOHN ELDER ROBISON, Author, “Switched On”:  It’s a therapy where they use focused bursts of electromagnetic energy to transmit tiny amounts of electricity through the scalp and through the skull, and into your brain.

Your brain’s an electrical organ, so if you want to change how it functions, you can change it most directly with targeted electricity.  When I heard that there was a study that might help autistic people like me see emotional cues in other people, the idea of it just spoke to the heart of something that I felt had been a disability in me all my life, being unable to read body language and expressions and cues in other people.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  So, you describe this.  I want to quote a paragraph.

It says: “Imagine that, all your life, you have seen the world in black and white.  Meanwhile, everyone around you describes the beauty and richness of color.  After a while, their talk of color frustrates you.  Which do you believe, their words or the evidence before your eyes?”

So did you get a glimpse of color?


That’s really the transformative thing about this.  You can be an intelligent adult, and all your life, you hear about color, and yet eventually you start getting angry because the evidence in your eyes is gray.

And then imagine the doctor does something and they turn on color for half-an-hour.  And even if color goes away, for the rest of your life, you’re going to know it’s real.  And that’s kind of how it is for me.  They stimulated me, and it was a temporary thing.

The effects lasted for some months, I would say.  Some of them faded away quickly, some longer.  And that built an ability that’s in me today based on that real experience.  And it’s something words and teaching and talk could never have achieved.

TRANSFORMATION - Theaster Gates in Chicago

"Artist Theaster Gates turns Chicago’s empty spaces into incubators for culture" PBS NewsHour 4/26/2016


SUMMARY:  An internationally recognized artist, Theaster Gates is well versed on how to shape materials into meaningful forms.  But Gates applies those principles to more than just art -- he’s also a renowned urban developer who shapes downtrodden neighborhoods into community gathering places and low-cost housing.  Gates joins Jeffrey Brown to explore the intersection of art and activism.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  So, what is this?

THEASTER GATES, Artist:  So, this is the ceramics studio.

JEFFREY BROWN:  When you make a pot, the artist Theaster Gates told me recently in his studio, you think about the material and how to shape it.

THEASTER GATES:  If it’s clay, then I have to learn a lot about the minerals that are in the earth.  And what happens when two chemicals work together in relationship to heat?  How does heat work in relationship to time?

JEFFREY BROWN:  But, unlike most artists, Gates goes further, into a whole other realm.  Just as we learn to reshape clay into pots, he says, we might learn to reshape buildings and neighborhoods into a revitalized urban life.

THEASTER GATES:  If you were to apply that to a city, you would say, what’s the relationship between a commercial district and a residential area?  And how might those things be a collision at first?  But they need to slowly cool.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Same processes, but different material?

THEASTER GATES:  I think so, in that it implies that one has to also continue to get to know a thing by being directly engaged with the thing.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Gates is a successful commercial artist on the international gallery scene.  But much of the focus of his work is here, on Chicago’s South Side, in neighborhoods filled with vacant lots, abandoned buildings, poor and dangerous streets.

Gates has bought buildings, like these on Dorchester Avenue, refurbished and turned them into community gathering places for music, films, talk.  He’s also developed low-cost housing, including for artists, who contribute hours of community service in return.

RUNNING SCARED - Assassins in Kenya

"Why assassins are hunting these Burundian refugees in Kenya" PBS NewsHour 4/26/2016


SUMMARY:  One year ago, Burundi's president announced he was running for a third term, which triggered a failed coup, protests and a violent crackdown.  Hundreds died and at least 220,000 have left the country.  Special correspondent Nick Schifrin reports from Nairobi, where some Burundian refugees from the opposition have fled for safety, but instead are being hunted down by men sent by the government.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  It has been one year since Burundi's president, Pierre Nkurunziza, announced he was running for a third term, a move widely considered unconstitutional.  His announcement triggered a failed coup, a questioned election, mass protests, and a violent crackdown on the opposition.

Since then, at least 400 people have been killed and 3,500 arrested.  More than 220,000 people fled the country.  Divisions between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups have characterized past violence in Burundi, but, on Sunday, Marguerite Barankitse was honored for her work helping Burundian orphans and refugees, regardless of ethnicity.  She received a million dollars from an Armenian group.  The money will be donated to the organization of her choice.

Still, ethnic identity can be a matter of life or death for Burundians, even those outside the country.

Special correspondent Nick Schifrin, partnering with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, found Burundian refugees 900 miles from home, in Nairobi, Kenya, where they thought they'd be safe.  But their enemies have tracked them down.

NICK SCHIFRIN (NewsHour):  It's just past midnight.  We're in Nairobi, Kenya, and this isn't only a cornfield.  This is a kind of protection because, right behind me, there's a house full of men, and all night, every night, two of them are in the field standing guard, using old weapons like a crowbar and a rusty knife.

They are too scared to sleep, and too scared to show their faces.  They are Burundian refugees who say they're being hunted.

The men who are guarding the house, can they really defend you from the people who are hunting you?

MAN (through interpreter):  The weapons you see here can only be used against the dogs you hear barking.  If there were an enemy coming here with a grenade or a machine gun, we wouldn't be able to resist.

NICK SCHIFRIN:  Twenty-year-old Arnold is a Burundian refugee.  He lives in this tin shack with seven other refugees.  It's a 150-square-foot church library.

MAN (through interpreter):  We have no mattresses, no food.  As refugees, we can't find jobs, and we are scared of being arrested and sent back from where we were.

NICK SCHIFRIN:  Where they were was Burundi's capital, Bujumbura.  A systematic campaign targeted the government's political opponents, leaving some of their bodies in the street.

The U.N. warns that President Nkurunziza is helping lead the country to a second civil war by transforming politics into ethnic conflict between Hutus and Tutsis.  That's the same ethnic divide in Rwanda that sparked the 1994 genocide.

In the last year, 225,000 Burundians have fled the violence to cities they hoped were safe.  But, even here, they hide their faces.

Today, here in Nairobi, which of you is afraid?

All of these men escaped from Burundi.  Kenyan activist Tom Oketch brought them together to discuss their rights and try to calm their fears.


"These key decisions can shape your post-college destiny" PBS NewsHour 4/26/2016


SUMMARY:  This time of year, high school seniors and their families are thinking about where they’ll be headed to college in the fall.  In “There Is Life After College,” author Jeffrey Selingo examines how one’s post-college years are influenced by crucial choices made before students even enroll.  Selingo sits down with William Brangham for a conversation.

FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA:  No matter what path any of us on the stage took to our success, we all know that completing your education past high school is the most important thing you can do to reach your dreams.  That’s why we’re here.  So, while you all might be in awe of us, let me tell you, we are in awe of you.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  High schoolers and their parents are obviously focused on what school they will go to, but a new book argues there are more important things to consider.

The book is called “There Is Life After College.”  Jeffrey Selingo is the author.  I talked with him yesterday.

Jeff, if I can discern a basic thesis from you book, it’s not so much where you go to college, but it’s what you do while you’re in college.  Is that right?

JEFFREY SELINGO, Author, “There Is Life After College”:  That’s right.

It used to be as long that, as you had a bachelor’s degree from a college, any college, really, you would be golden in the job market.  It was really the way that you got jobs years ago.

But now the fact of the matter is that there’s a lot of noise around the signal of a bachelor’s degree.  So it’s really important what you do while you’re there, the experiential learning that you get, internships, projects, study abroad, and activities like that, cocurricular activities, whether it’s athletics or clubs.

And, most importantly, you don’t take on too much debt.  The more debt that you take on in college, the fewer options you have after college to take essentially any job you want anywhere in the country, which would be good for your career, and instead you’re basing your career decisions on how much money you’re going to make.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  In one of the early chapters of your book, you categorize graduates after college into three categories.

You have the sprinters, the wanderers, and the stragglers.  What do those delineations tell us about post-college life today?

EARTHQUAKES - Nepal, the Reconstruction Blockage

"How politics got in the way of needed Nepal earthquake relief" PBS NewsHour 4/25/2016


SUMMARY:  One year ago, the first of two massive earthquakes ripped through Nepal, killing more than 8,000 people.  Some $4 billion of assistance was pledged to the rebuilding effort, but political gridlock and corruption have left the displaced survivors to largely fend for themselves.  Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO (NewsHour):  Kathmandu still bears scars from the quakes, but many people in Nepal's bustling capital have pushed the rubble aside and started rebuilding their homes and lives.

That's not possible in the quake's worst-hit regions, villages high up in the rugged Himalayan landscape, places that were hard to reach even before the disasters struck.  Most people here were displaced into makeshift camps miles away in valleys miles away.

On April 25, 2015, the village of Mailung literally slid out of existence; 38 people died instantly as boulders rained down from the mountainside.  Five bodies have never been recovered from under them.

Parma Singh Tamang ran a grocery store and tailoring business in this abandoned community once home to 400 people.  The remnants from his shops peek out from under tons of granite.  Two daughters-in-law and two grandchildren perished here.  Others in the large extended family that lived here barely escaped.

PARMA SINGH TAMANG, Displaced Resident (through interpreter):  When they heard the loud rumbling, they were very confused and ran down by the river.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  Down the street is the spot where Selnam Tamang lived.  She wasn't home on that fateful day.  She was visiting her mother, leaving her four children with her in-laws and eldest child, Asmita.

SELNAM TAMANG, Displace Resident (through interpreter):  Her grandfather was cooking fish, and all the family was gathered in the main floor area, but Asmita didn't like fish, so she climbed to the second floor of the house.

Then, suddenly, the earthquake came, and the whole house fell, and she was thrown some distance away.  But the whole family, they were crushed.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  Including two younger daughters and infant son.  She did manage to rescue their pictures.

I'm really sorry.

Their current situation stokes the despair.  Most people in the camp say they have no money and have received little assistance to rebuild.  Selnam Tamang scrapes by on about $3 a day as a daily laborer, working about 10 days each month.  And conditions in the metal-roofed shacks are not healthy, says 12-year-old Asmita, who is learning English.

NEWSHOUR BOOKSHELF - "Getting to Green"

"Can environmentalism become a bipartisan movement again?" PBS NewsHour 4/25/2016

COMMENT:  Fred Rich doesn't understand.  $Big-Money has BOUGHT today's Republican Party (thanks to industry's totally owned subsidiary "U.S. Supreme Court") heart and soul, and $Big-Money' is against anything the hinders their greed.


SUMMARY:  Though now one of the most politically divisive issues in the country, the environmental movement once enjoyed strong support from both Democrats and Republicans.  In his new book “Getting to Green,” author Fred Rich asserts that a return to those bipartisan roots is key for future success.  Rich joins Hari Sreenivasan for more.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  Last Friday, Earth Day was celebrated for the 47th time since its inception in 1970.  From the beginning, the environmental movement had strong support from both Democrats and Republicans.

Returning to the movement’s bipartisan roots is key for future success, says Fred Rich.

I recently spoke to rich for this latest addition to the "NewsHour Bookshelf."

Fred Rich, thanks for joining us.

FRED RICH, Author, “Getting to Green”:  You’re welcome Hari.  I’m glad to be here.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  You have been a corporate lawyer for 30 years and worked with industry that perhaps the green movement wouldn’t find friendly.

And, on the other hand, you have been a conservationist for just as long working with land trusts.  So, where are you coming at this book from?

FRED RICH:  When I criticize the green movement and call them on some of their recent failings, so they know it’s from a position of solidarity, right, I mean, complete sympathy with the goals.

I want to see the green movement succeed.  So they know that I’m coming at it from that side.  Equally, the right at least knows I was a registered Republican until 2012, pretty solid fiscal conservative.  It breaks my heart to see that the conservative movement in America has really abandoned a century of tradition of support for conservation of the environment.

So, I hope each side will have something they don’t like and I hope that there’s something equally that each side sees that it does like.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  I want to pull up a quote from a State of the Union address:  “Shall we make peace with nature and begin to make reparations for the damage we have done to our land, to our air, and to our water?  It has become a common cause of all people of this country, clean air, open spaces.  These should once again be the birthright of every American.”

This was 1970.  It was Richard Nixon delivering this.

FRED RICH:  Correct.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  To bipartisan applause.

FRED RICH:  Correct.  It was amazing.

Richard Nixon, who I have to say was no nature lover, but he was a very savvy politician.  And Richard Nixon believed that clean air and clean water was a cause that transcended class, it transcended party.  He was very nervous that the Democrats not get out front on environment.

And he was dealing in 1970 with deep divisions in the country from the civil rights movement and especially at that moment the Vietnam War.  And Nixon had the idea that environment could heal those wounds, that environment was an issue that would bring both sides together.  Pretty ironic, given where we are today.

MUSIC - Making "Lemonade"

"With ‘Lemonade,' Beyonce shows she's an artist in control" PBS NewsHour 4/25/2016


SUMMARY:  Pop sensation Beyonce's sixth studio album, “Lemonade,” made an immediate impact with its innovative release as a visual album on HBO and through the music streaming service Tidal.  For more on the groundbreaking work, which addresses both her personal troubles and the larger history of black women, Jeffrey Brown talks to Salamishah Tillet of the University of Pennsylvania.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  It was a surprise record, released at first exclusively on the music streaming service Tidal, but also as a so-called visual album, a one-hour film shown on HBO.

Once again, the pop music phenomenon Beyonce is doing things her own way, and this time with songs and stories that address both personal troubles and the larger history of black women.

Joining us with more is Salamishah Tillet, a scholar and professor on black women performers at the University of Pennsylvania.

Welcome to you.

So, surprise albums aren't such a surprise anymore, but Beyonce and “Lemonade” takes it to a whole 'nother level.  Tell us what's going on.  What do you see?

SALAMISHAH TILLET, University of Pennsylvania:  Well, I think it's Beyonce pulling a Beyonce.

And by that, I mean, she is an artist who has — this is her second consecutive visual album that was dropped unexpectedly.  I think it's akin to Michael Jackson's “Thriller” premiere on MTV in 1983, and, of course — and this may be controversial, but to — it's comparable to Dylan going electric at the Newport Folk Festival in '65, meaning that you have an artist who's at their peak who is conjuring and converging with the sound technologies and the political demands of the moment.

So, it's unexpected and it's a surprise, but only Beyonce could do this in this magnificent of a fashion.

JEFFREY BROWN:  So, is it fair to see it as part of these big changes and a kind of continuing a battle of changes of artists, music labels, streaming services, to figure out sort of who's in control?


In many ways, I think it's Beyonce both aligning herself with the new technologies, whether it's Tidal came about as a way of artists being able to control the content and benefit from the new streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music.

And so Beyonce is responding to that, but also she's innovating that, right?  So, it's not simply, like, releasing music on a music streaming service, but she's also innovating the artistic form of what we think of as an album, what we think of a music video.

So it's a convergence of an artist's reinventing her sound and herself and using and benefiting from new technologies, and also making a statement to the music industry that artists can continue to benefit from, not simply be exploited by these changing tides.

FBI NEWS - Ransomware

"Incidents of Ransomware on the Rise" FBI News 4/29/2016

Hospitals, school districts, state and local governments, law enforcement agencies, small businesses, large businesses—these are just some of the entities impacted recently by ransomware, an insidious type of malware that encrypts, or locks, valuable digital files and demands a ransom to release them.

The inability to access the important data these kinds of organizations keep can be catastrophic in terms of the loss of sensitive or proprietary information, the disruption to regular operations, financial losses incurred to restore systems and files, and the potential harm to an organization’s reputation.

And, of course, home computers are just as susceptible to ransomware, and the loss of access to personal and often irreplaceable items—including family photos, videos, and other data—can be devastating for individuals as well.

Ransomware has been around for a few years, but during 2015, law enforcement saw an increase in these types of cyber attacks, particularly against organizations because the payoffs are higher.  And if the first three months of this year are any indication, the number of ransomware incidents—and the ensuing damage they cause—will grow even more in 2016 if individuals and organizations don’t prepare for these attacks in advance.

In a ransomware attack, victims—upon seeing an e-mail addressed to them—will open it and may click on an attachment that appears legitimate, like an invoice or an electronic fax, but which actually contains the malicious ransomware code.  Or the e-mail might contain a legitimate-looking URL, but when a victim clicks on it, they are directed to a website that infects their computer with malicious software.

One the infection is present, the malware begins encrypting files and folders on local drives, any attached drives, backup drives, and potentially other computers on the same network that the victim computer is attached to.  Users and organizations are generally not aware they have been infected until they can no longer access their data or until they begin to see computer messages advising them of the attack and demands for a ransom payment in exchange for a decryption key.  These messages include instructions on how to pay the ransom, usually with bitcoins because of the anonymity this virtual currency provides.

Ransomware attacks are not only proliferating, they’re becoming more sophisticated.  Several years ago, ransomware was normally delivered through spam e-mails, but because e-mail systems got better at filtering out spam, cyber criminals turned to spear phishing e-mails targeting specific individuals.

And in newly identified instances of ransomware, some cyber criminals aren’t using e-mails at all.  According to FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director James Trainor, “These criminals have evolved over time and now bypass the need for an individual to click on a link.  They do this by seeding legitimate websites with malicious code, taking advantage of unpatched software on end-user computers.”

The FBI doesn’t support paying a ransom in response to a ransomware attack.  Said Trainor, “Paying a ransom doesn’t guarantee an organization that it will get its data back—we’ve seen cases where organizations never got a decryption key after having paid the ransom.  Paying a ransom not only emboldens current cyber criminals to target more organizations, it also offers an incentive for other criminals to get involved in this type of illegal activity.  And finally, by paying a ransom, an organization might inadvertently be funding other illicit activity associated with criminals.”

So what does the FBI recommend?  As ransomware techniques and malware continue to evolve—and because it’s difficult to detect a ransomware compromise before it’s too late—organizations in particular should focus on two main areas:

  • Prevention efforts—both in both in terms of awareness training for employees and robust technical prevention controls; and
  • The creation of a solid business continuity plan in the event of a ransomware attack.  (See "Tips for Dealing with the Ransomware Threat" below)

“There’s no one method or tool that will completely protect you or your organization from a ransomware attack,” said Trainor.  “But contingency and remediation planning is crucial to business recovery and continuity—and these plans should be tested regularly.” In the meantime, according to Trainor, the FBI will continue working with its local, federal, international, and private sector partners to combat ransomware and other cyber threats.

If you think you or your organization have been the victim of ransomware, contact your local FBI field office and report the incident to the Bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Tips for Dealing with the Ransomware Threat

While the below tips are primarily aimed at organizations and their employees, some are also applicable to individual users.

Prevention Efforts

- Make sure employees are aware of ransomware and of their critical roles in protecting the organization’s data.

- Patch operating system, software, and firmware on digital devices (which may be made easier through a centralized patch management system).

- Ensure antivirus and anti-malware solutions are set to automatically update and conduct regular scans.

- Manage the use of privileged accounts—no users should be assigned administrative access unless absolutely needed, and only use administrator accounts when necessary.

- Configure access controls, including file, directory, and network share permissions appropriately.  If users only need read specific information, they don’t need write-access to those files or directories.

- Disable macro scripts from office files transmitted over e-mail.

- Implement software restriction policies or other controls to prevent programs from executing from common ransomware locations (e.g., temporary folders supporting popular Internet browsers, compression/decompression programs).

Business Continuity Efforts

- Back up data regularly and verify the integrity of those backups regularly.

- Secure your backups.  Make sure they aren’t connected to the computers and networks they are backing up.

More info

Friday, April 29, 2016

UNFORGIVING - The Long Life of Debt, Nebraska

"For Nebraska's Poor, Get Sick and Get Sued" by Paul Kiel, ProPublica 4/28/2016

A Greed File

Hay...  You Commie Pinkos, you don't understand, poor people are just lazy and want to be on the public dole.  (satire off)

Cheap court fees and looser rules make suing over medical debts as small as $60 easy.  Every year Nebraska collection agencies file lawsuits by the tens of thousands.

This story was co-published with The Daily Beast.

Two years ago, the president of Credit Management Services, a collection agency in Grand Island, Nebraska, presented a struggling local family with the keys to a used 2007 Mercury Grand Marquis.  To commemorate the donation, the company held a ceremony that concluded outside its offices, where the couple and their two young girls could try out their new car.

The family's story was dire; their eight-year-old daughter's failing kidney had led to multiple surgeries and a deluge of medical bills, according to an article in the local newspaper.

But CMS played another role in the family's life, one the article didn't mention.  The company had previously sued the couple eight times over unpaid medical bills and garnished both of their wages.  As recently as two weeks earlier, CMS had seized $156, a quarter of the girl's father's paycheck.

Shortly after the ceremony, CMS released the family from further garnishment, court records show.  But just four months later, the company filed a motion to start up again.  The couple, who did not respond to attempts by ProPublica to contact them, has since declared bankruptcy.

In almost any other state, such a barrage of lawsuits against a family in desperate financial straits would be remarkable.  Not in Nebraska.  There, debt collectors frequently sue over medical debts as small as $60 and a simple missed doctor's bill can quickly land you in court.

Filing suit is one of the most aggressive ways to collect debt, but no one tracks how frequently it happens or to whom.  An examination of Nebraska's courts, however, shows that where debtors live can have an enormous, and unexpected, impact on the quantity and types of lawsuits.

Nebraska's flood of suits isn't merely a reflection of residents' inability to pay their bills.  About 79,000 debt collection lawsuits were filed in Nebraska courts in 2013 alone, according to a ProPublica analysis.  In New Mexico, a state with a population, like Nebraska's, of around two million, about 30,000 suits were filed.  Yet by virtually any measure, households in Nebraska are significantly better off than those in New Mexico: Income is higher.  Poverty is lower.  And fewer families fall behind on their bills.

The reason for the difference is simple.  Suing someone in Nebraska is cheaper and easier.

The cost to file a lawsuit in Nebraska is $45.  In New Mexico, where suits are filed at about one-third the rate as in Nebraska, the fee for smaller debts starts at $77.

Nebraska lawmakers, of course, didn't set out to turn the Cornhusker State into the Lawsuit State.  Instead, it appears no one understood the consequences of having cheap court fees: Suing became an irresistible bargain for debt collectors.  It's a deal collectors have fought to keep, opposing even the slightest increase.

For debtors, unaffordable debts turn into unaffordable garnishments, destroying already tight budgets and sending them into a loop.  “It's just been a vicious cycle,” said Tanya Glasgow, a single mother in Lincoln, Nebraska who's been sued several times.  “It's been horrible.”

“I resent the stereotype that these are not hard-working people” said Katherine Owen, managing attorney in Legal Aid of Nebraska's Omaha office.  “Truly the majority of them simply cannot afford it.  That's it.”

Lawsuits over medical debts are, of course, filed in other states, usually by hospitals.  What makes Nebraska unusual is that almost all the suits are brought by locally owned collection agencies that pursue debts on behalf of medical providers.  Although ProPublica found collection agencies filing suits in large numbers in other states, particularly Indiana and Washington, none could match the sheer volume in Nebraska.

It's a difference that came as a surprise to researchers, consumer advocates, and collection professionals both in and outside of Nebraska.

“There's very little information, period” on the number of collection lawsuits in different states, said April Kuehnhoff, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center.  Policymakers in Nebraska and other states should pay attention, she said.  “Being sued on a debt has very serious negative consequences for consumers.”

In a statement, the Nebraska Collectors Association said collection agencies file suits as “a last resort,” after attempts by the original provider and the agency to resolve the debt have failed.  “Cooperatively working with the consumer is always the preferred approach to the collection process,” it said.

Credit Management Services' offices are housed in a squat, brick building that's conveniently located just a block away from the county courthouse in Grand Island, a city of about 51,000 in central Nebraska.

Local businessman Michael Morledge has owned the company since 1995.  His son serves as president and his daughter as vice president of customer relations.  CMS, with about 200 employees, boasts of having “the industry's highest recovery rates” on its website and counts two-thirds of Nebraska hospitals among its clients.  In addition to other medical clients like doctor's offices and clinics, CMS also handles non-medical debts such as overdrawn bank accounts, utility bills and payday loans.

Like other collection agencies in the state, CMS employs collectors to persuade debtors to make voluntary payments.  And like those other agencies, CMS routinely sues those who don't.  But it's here that CMS sets itself apart.

In 2013, CMS filed almost 30,000 lawsuits in Nebraska, more than the rest of the collection agencies in Nebraska combined.  That would be a staggering number of suits in any state.  In New Jersey, with a population nearly five times larger, only one company, the nation's largest debt buyer, filed more than 30,000 lawsuits that year.

To file those suits – about 120 per working day – CMS has its own staff of six attorneys.  The complaints are prepped by support staff and then presented to the attorneys for review, CMS's general counsel Tessa Hermanson said in a 2012 deposition from a class action lawsuit against the company.

Debtors aren't sued unless “the individual has a means to pay,” she said.  But when pressed about how CMS determines this, Hermanson, who supervises the company's lawyers, said she didn't know if it was done by “one person or a department.”

A review of CMS's lawsuits shows the company is routinely aggressive even when it's obvious the debtor is poor.  In one case, CMS emptied a debtor's bank account 11 times over the course of two years, even though in all but three instances the debtor had under $100.  One garnishment netted the company $6.50.

Competition for clients can encourage this sort of approach, said Judge Craig McDermott, former counsel at a CMS rival and current presiding judge of the Douglas County Court in Omaha.  Companies may sue even when it's apparent the debtor can't pay just to prove to the original creditor that they are making an effort:  “Otherwise they'll go to another agency down the street,” he told ProPublica in a 2014 interview.

CMS's frequent use of the courts has brought millions back to the company, which retains a percentage of what it collects, and its clients.  From 2008 through 2014, CMS seized at least $88 million from Nebraskans' wages and bank accounts, according to court data analyzed by ProPublica.

In a brief response to a list of questions from ProPublica, CMS wrote that it “plays an active and important role in assisting creditors in Nebraska with recovering money owed for goods and services” and that it “strives to comply with all applicable laws and regulations” and only files suit after other collection attempts fail.  The company declined to discuss any individual debtor case.

Earlier this year, state Sen. Adam Morfeld introduced a bill in the Nebraska legislature that seemed too benign for anyone to oppose:  It proposed raising the fee for filing a lawsuit by $1.  The extra money would go to civil legal aid organizations to provide more services to low-income residents.

But, to Morfeld's surprise, his bill quickly encountered stiff resistance.  Tim Keigher, CMS's lobbyist in the state capital, made it clear the company would fight the bill every step of the way, said Morfeld, a Democrat.  Keigher did not respond to requests for comment.

At a February judicial committee hearing, CMS's Hermanson appeared on behalf of the Nebraska Collectors Association to oppose the bill.  Raising the cost of filing suit in county courts from $45 to $46, she said, would create a “burden” on the businesses that hire collection agencies.  Collection agencies ask, “is it worth it to pay X amount to recover a small, you know, medical debt of $200?” she said.  A higher filing fee may cause them to decide “it's just not worth it,” she said.

The gathered senators were skeptical.  After Hermanson testified that collection agencies filed thousands of suits each month, one senator volunteered that maybe increasing the filing fee “would be better” if it meant fewer suits.

Sen. Matt Williams, a Republican and former president of the American Bankers Association, asked Hermanson, “So your testimony is that a one dollar increase in this fee that your client is going to pay, not you, would stop you from filing claims for $200, $300 medical bills?”

Hermanson, perhaps betraying an industry fear that opening the door to a dollar would ease the way for further hikes, said “There's always a need for increased funds and at some point it becomes less practical to continue to pay for those fees.”

“So you would weigh that one dollar against the ability to provide legal services for the poor people of Nebraska?” asked Williams.

“No, certainly not,” she replied.

“But that's what your testimony is.”

“My testimony is that the legal services fund, we're not disputing that it's needed,” said Hermanson, “just that maybe there's a better way to do it than increasing the court cost.”

Ultimately, CMS's efforts to halt the bill were unsuccessful.  On a 40–0 vote, the bill passed the legislature earlier this month and was quickly signed by the governor.  But Morfeld said, “It's really been eye-opening.  I think we have a broader problem.”

ProPublica's review of court data across several states suggests a relationship between court costs and the number of collection suits filed.

In 2013, Cook County, Illinois, which contains Chicago and has a population of over 5 million, had about the same number of collection suits as Nebraska with its population of fewer than 2 million.  That year, it cost $172 in Cook County to file suit for the sort of small amounts that predominate in Nebraska, where the fee was $45.

Not surprisingly, lawsuits over debts of a few hundred dollars are extremely rare in Cook County.  The typical collection suit in 2013 sought around $3,000, according to ProPublica's analysis.

In fact, suits for a few hundred dollars are generally rare.  Debt buyers, for instance, usually don't file suits for debts smaller than $1,000 due to the costs involved in suing, said Jan Stieger, executive director of the industry's trade group, DBA International.  Debt buyers, which primarily purchase defaulted credit card accounts, file more collection suits nationwide than any other type of company.

Some states, like Missouri and New Jersey, have filing fees comparable to Nebraska's.  But even there the rate of suits, when adjusted for the population, was still substantially lower.

Kuehnoff of the National Consumer Law Center said the volume of suits in a state is also a reflection of how easy it is to sue.  Nebraska has a number of collector-friendly policies, such as looser standards for serving debtors with a lawsuit.  Tougher standards – such as requiring collectors to serve defendants personally with a suit or provide more documentation of debts – can decrease the number of suits and make the process fairer to consumers, she said.

In February, a federal judge deemed CMS's practices unfair, siding with the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the company.  CMS, ruled U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon, had deceived consumers with its collection suits by wrongly claiming interest and attorney fees — charges that CMS adds to debts and keeps for itself.  CMS agreed to settle the class action earlier this month, but the settlement's details remain under seal.

In his ruling, Bataillon wrote that the extra charges were just one part of a process that can be bewildering for defendants, who are very rarely represented by an attorney.

“Without any special knowledge of the law, a layperson could not figure out, on the face of the collection complaint, what the claim was for or to whom he or she was indebted,” he wrote.

To get a sense of who is affected by collection suits in Nebraska, ProPublica reviewed 100 randomly selected cases where a collection agency had garnished the debtor's pay or bank account.  Most of the debtors were lower-income, more than half earned below a rate of $30,000 a year.

“I have to work two jobs just to try to make ends meet,” said Robin Kerr, 55, of Norfolk, a city of about 24,000 in northeastern Nebraska.  Kerr has been sued four times, three times by CMS, and in each case, the agency sought to seize a chunk of her wages at Burger King.

Most of the suits we reviewed sought less than $700, and 40 sought less than $500.  Four of the suits, all filed by CMS, were for under $100.  In one case, a $66 chiropractic bill transformed into a $275 court judgment after court costs, attorney fees, and interest were tacked on.

The vast majority of suits were over unpaid medical bills, the providers ranged from rural hospitals to the largest in the state, from specialists to family doctors.  Debts from multiple providers were often combined in the same suit, even bundled with non-medical bills.

The suits sometimes came quickly, in some cases only three months after the provider sent the patient a bill.  That speed is in contrast to recent national reforms meant to protect consumers from being penalized for medical billing errors.  Last year, the three main credit reporting agencies announced a new 180-day waiting period from the time a medical account is created until it can appear on a patient's credit report as in collections.

But in Nebraska, said legal aid attorneys, once an account is sent to a collection agency, the patient has little hope of sorting out a billing issue.  Instead, collection agencies often give them the option of paying in full or facing a lawsuit, they said.

Tanya Glasgow, 39, has had health problems for years, at one point requiring surgery to remove her gall bladder and recently suffering from epileptic seizures.  Making matters worse, she's gone for stretches without health insurance, which she's struggled to afford.  She has two teenagers at home and a third child in college and works the graveyard shift at a nursing home for $18.50 an hour.

Glasgow's tried various strategies for dealing with her medical debt, which she estimates at about $20,000, but any plan can suddenly fall apart.  “I'm paying on three of them and then the fourth one sues me,” she said.  She's been sued five times, four by CMS.

The worst blow came last fall.  CMS had filed its third suit, a bundle of radiology and emergency room bills, for over $1,000.  A week after obtaining a judgment, CMS moved to garnish her pay.  But the same day, CMS also filed to seize funds from her bank account.

The action froze Glasgow's account and secured the entirety of what she owed under the judgment, $1,315.  But because it took several weeks for CMS to actually receive that money through the court, CMS allowed the garnishment of her wages to continue.

Glasgow said she struggled for two weeks to put food on the table.  But when her paycheck arrived, it was short $226, because CMS had taken money she no longer owed.  CMS garnished her next paycheck, too, before the case was finally closed.

Glasgow said she had to call both the court and CMS to get her money returned, and then CMS took more than a month to do so.

The experience convinced Glasgow it was time to pursue something she'd put off considering, bankruptcy.

It's a step that wouldn't be necessary if she lived in a state where lawsuits over medical debt weren't so common, she said.

“The amount of stress this has brought into my life has been almost unbearable.”

SECURITY - eMail Domains

Just have to comment on paying attention to the domains you receive eMail from.

Got an eMail reminding me 'to confirm your account' on a site I never heard of.

The domain was ""!

Ya, like that's a safe site, .....NOT.

You need to pay close attention to eMail domains when the eMail looks suspicious or from a site you never heard of.

Suspicious eMail may even claim to be from a site you do deal with.  I and an eMail that claimed to be from AARP but the text didn't look right, it was from a domain ending in ".top"

If you get eMail that does look like it's from a site you deal with but has a link to update you account info, DO NOT use the link in the eMail.  If you deal with the site, you should have it bookmarked in your browser, use that to access the site.  Also, many sites will have a Support contact, you should copy the eMail and Headers, and paste that into their message system so they know someone is trying to spoof them.

All suspicious eMail domains should be added to your SPAM filter.  In my case, my eMail provider has a very good system for that.  Then your eMail client should also have a way to filter eMail domains.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

ELECTION 2016 - Trump's Male Chauvinism on Display


NOTE: This is from the online edition of the paper, so no link to article.

Trump's remark about Clinton may signal direction of campaign

Donald Trump's accusation that Hillary Clinton is playing the “woman's card” and would be a failed candidate if she were a man touched off a contentious debate about gender politics and sexism that seems likely to define the presidential election as much as any issue.

While celebrating sweeping victories in five Republican primaries Tuesday night, Trump mocked the qualifications of the Democratic front-runner, saying she would be a bad President who lacks “strength.”  The remarks seemed a preview of a general-election strategy to use Clinton's potential to be the first female President against her.

“Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote.  The only thing she's got going is the woman's card,” Trump said in a news conference at Trump Tower.  “And the beautiful thing is, women don't like her.”  That was a significant expansion of Trump's by-now familiar claims that Clinton is unqualified— and one that made New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's wife, standing behind Trump before the TV cameras, appear to grimace.

It also crystallized the question of how the nation will reckon with its first presidential election between a man and a woman.  What was once subtext— latent sexism in American life, and the question of what is and is not off-limits when contemplating a woman as commander in chief— is now a full part of the political conversation.

“What's shaping up is a battle for the ages,” said David Brock, a Clinton confidant who heads the pro-Clinton super PAC 'Correct the Record.'  “You've got one candidate who is vying to be the first woman President and is embracing the historic nature of her own candidacy, and on the other hand, you've got Trump, who represents a kind of retrograde social structure of the past” that is blatantly sexist, Brock said.  “There's no better foil for Hillary.”

Clinton allies and the campaign itself have been startled by what some call Trump's unsubtle line of attack, which stands in dramatic contrast with the more subtle presence of race in President Barack Obama's historic election eight years ago.

But most Clinton allies consider the newly escalated gender wars of 2016 a helpful point of comparison that she can use to rally women's support and show how each candidate might behave as President.

“They might make flashy headlines, but Trump's comments aren't a joke,” the campaign wrote Wednesday.  “Hillary can handle these attacks.  Millions of women shouldn't have to.”  In television interviews Wednesday, Trump dismissed critics who called the election-night remarks sexist.

“It's not sexist.  It's true.  It's just a very, very true statement.  If she were a man, she'd get 5 percent.  She's a bad candidate.  She's a flawed candidate,” Trump said Wednesday on ABC's “Good Morning America.”  “She's not going to do very well in the election, and I look forward to showing that.”

He also made fun both of Clinton's delivery on the stump and of the social niceties — or political taboo — that says you're not supposed to make fun of that.  “I haven't quite recovered — it's early in the morning— from her shouting that message,” he said on MSNBC's “Morning Joe.”  “And I know a lot of people would say you can't say that about a woman because, of course, a woman doesn't shout, but the way she shouted that message was not,” and with that Trump broke off with a dismissive, “eww.”

“I guess I'll have to get used to a lot of that over the next four or five months,” he added, while also saying that he expects to do well with female voters.

Some responses on Clinton's behalf were outraged and some mocking.  And some sought to raise money from what Clinton allies see as an unappealing glimpse into both Trump as a Republican standard-bearer and a slice of the GOP electorate that is receptive to language and viewpoints other politicians have been schooled to avoid.  “Women still face too many barriers— a President shouldn't be part of the problem.  Comments like Trump's set us back,” Clinton said in one of a blizzard of Twitter messages about the remarks Wednesday.  The real estate mogul has won female voters on average by 10 percentage points over his rivals in primary contests this year.  On Tuesday, he won by more than 20 points among female voters in Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  But Trump's successes in winning Republican women has not translated to popularity with women or men in the broader electorate, where he continues to be deeply unpopular.

A USA Today/Suffolk University poll released this week found 66 percent of likely women voters nationwide have an unfavorable view of Trump, compared with 48 percent who have a negative opinion of Clinton.  Among men the two are closer — 57 percent see Trump negatively while 61 percent say the same of Clinton.

“He continues to paint women with a broad, reductive brush, which may be a great strategy in appealing to his very particular audience of primary voters who have found his offensive tone endearing,” said Stephanie Schriock, who heads Emily's List, a group that promotes and funds Democratic women running for office.  “But in a general election, it is really difficult to shift from the place where he is to being presidential.”

Women are far more likely to have intensely negative views of Trump.  A Washington Post-ABC News poll this month found 64 percent of women feeling “strongly unfavorable” toward Trump, compared with 41 percent of men.

Trump has consistently trailed Clinton, as well as Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, in general-election matchups.  The USA Today/ Suffolk University poll found Clinton leading Trump by 11 percentage points, fueled by a 21-point lead among women.  Women have historically leaned more toward Democrats than men have, but Trump's deep unpopularity with women threatens to diminish his Republican support.

Clinton has built a 2016 campaign focused on issues of keen interest to female voters, including equal pay, health care, and paid family leave.  Her economic plan promises to “lift up participation in the workforce — especially for women.”

Monday, April 25, 2016

CHERNOBYL - 30yrs After

"Thirty years after Chernobyl disaster, families say children are getting sick" PBS NewsHour 4/24/2016

IVETTE FELICIANO (NewsHour):  The disaster forced tens of thousands of residents around Chernobyl to flee and never some back.

But many other people remained in a zone that was considered safe enough distance to stay.

In the village of Zalyshany, about 32 miles southwest of Chernobyl, 8-year-0ld Bogdan Vetrov suffers from an enlarged thyroid gland.

His mother, Viktoria, believes it is due to radiation found in their food, but she says her family’s options are, eat food that may be contaminated or starve.

VIKTORIA VETROVA:  We are aware of the dangers, but what can we do?  There is no other way to survive here.  Especially in this region we just cannot survive.

IVETTE FELICIANO:  Vetrov and his siblings are among 350,000 children living in areas where monitoring radiation in the soil ended four years ago.

Greenpeace, the European Union and the World Health Organization have found links between contaminated produce and milk and increased levels of thyroid cancer.

One EU study tracked 4,000 children for three years and found more than 80 percent of them had cardiovascular issues.

Doctors who perform annual checks on children here have seen that first-hand.

YURY BANDAZHEVSKY, PEDIATRICIAN:  There are very serious pathological processes, which definitely will unfortunately have negative consequences on the development of these children.

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 4/22/2016

"Shields and Brooks on Va. voting rights for felons, toning down the Trump campaign" PBS NewsHour 4/22/2016


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's move to reinstate voting rights to former felons, whether Donald Trump has been putting on an act as a presidential candidate and whether Sen. Bernie Sanders will stay in the Democratic race.

PHRASE OF THE DAY:  "Criminal Menopause"

ALARMING RISE - National Suicide Rate

"What’s causing a rising rate of suicide?" PBS NewsHour 4/22/2016


SUMMARY:  The national suicide rate has hit its highest point since 1986, according to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control.  Among middle-aged Americans, the gender gap narrowed between men and women who took their own lives.  For 10 to 14-year-old girls, the rate has tripled in the past 15 years.  Hari Sreenivasan learns more from Katherine Hempstead of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  The government released new statistics about suicide in the U.S., and the results were sobering and stunning.  The nation’s suicide rate is at its highest point since 1986.  Nearly 43,000 people ended their own lives in 2014, which is the most recent year with full data.

Hari Sreenivasan has more on this story from our New York studios.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  The rise in rates were particularly alarming among some age groups.  While the numbers are still smaller among children, the suicide rate was up sharply among 10-to-14-year-old girls, tripling in the past 15 years.

It also rose steeply among middle-aged Americans, 63 percent higher for middle-aged women, 43 percent higher for middle-aged men.

For some perspective on these trends and some of the potential reasons behind it, I’m joined by Katherine Hempstead, who studies this for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

For the record, the foundation is a funder of the NewsHour.

So, which of these sets of numbers, and we just went over a couple of them, but stood out to you when you saw this?

KATHERINE HEMPSTEAD, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:  Well, I think there has been concern about the middle-aged group for a while now.

And people have been noticing increased rates for both males and females.  And with these latest results, we see really, really large increases for women in particular and a closing of that gender gap, as the female rates starts to be closer to the male rate.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  That women try more, but men succeed more?  Is that one of the…


KATHERINE HEMPSTEAD:  Well, I think that’s something that is true.

There is much more of a nonfatal to fatal ratio for females.  There are many more attempted self-harms that don’t result in fatal incidents.  But now we see — with this new trend, we see the rates getting closer, and we also see a change in the method, so that we see this increasing adoption of suffocation or hanging as a suicide method by both males and females, and that is a highly lethal method.

THE VOTE - Felons in Virginia

"Felons who've paid their debt deserve to vote, says Virginia Gov. McAuliffe" PBS NewsHour 4/22/2016

Amen, a man of principle.  Rehabilitation does NOT work without some reward.


SUMMARY:  Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a sweeping order Friday to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons within the state.  McAuliffe described the action as an effort to reverse decades of voter repression, but state Republicans accused the governor of abusing his powers to help Hillary Clinton win a valuable swing state.  McAuliffe joins Judy Woodruff for more.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a sweeping order today to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons after their release from prison.

Republicans in the commonwealth quickly accused the governor of abusing his executive power to help Democrat Hillary Clinton win a battleground state.

Governor McAuliffe joins me now from Richmond.

Governor, welcome.

Why the decision to overturn something that's been in place in your state since the Civil War?

GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), Virginia:  Well, let's be honest.  We have had a bad history here on voting rights in Virginia.  1901, 1902, they put in the poll tax.  They put in literacy tests.  And they had a horrible disenfranchisement for felons.

So, what I did today was to erase 114, 115 years of a really, really repressive tactic used to deprive people their right to vote.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  You included convicted felons who were accused of violent crimes, murder, rape.  You didn't make any exceptions.  Why not?

GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE:  Nope.  Why should I?

Once you have served your time, once you have paid your debt to society, the judge, jury have determined what your sentence would be, once you complete that, why should you not be back in?

When these people, even if they have committed heinous crimes, but once they have finished serving their sentence, they go back to their communities, they get jobs, they have family members.  You want them, Judy — I want everybody back getting a job.  I want them paying taxes.  I want them feeling good about themselves.

You have paid your debt to society.

TALKING TRADE - Globalization and U.S. Voters

"Why trade and globalization concerns are resonating with voters at home" PBS NewsHour 4/21/2016


SUMMARY:  The issue of trade, and whether our deals are helping or hurting American workers, is resonating with many prospective voters this election season.  For a closer look at how U.S. trade policy is playing out in the presidential race, Hari Sreenivasan talks to Thea Lee of the AFL-CIO and Matthew Slaughter of Dartmouth University.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  As the candidates campaign in Pennsylvania, Indiana and elsewhere, one of the issues resonating strongly this year is trade, and whether it's helping or hurting the American economy and its workers.

It's been a long time since trade policy played out this way in a campaign.

This week, our colleagues at NPR have been looking more closely at these issues as part of an ongoing series of reports we are jointly doing about issues on the campaign trail.

For more on how trade is playing out in the race for the White House, I am joined by Thea Lee.  She's deputy chief of staff at the AFL-CIO and an international economist.  And Matthew Slaughter, dean of the Tuck School at Dartmouth College.  From 2005 to 2007, he served on the Council of Economic Advisers to President George W. Bush.

Thea Lee, so, why is this resonating so much right now?

THEA LEE, Deputy Chief of Staff, AFL-CIO:  You know, I think we have hit a breaking point.

American workers have really not benefited from a lot of changes in the economy over the last couple of decades.  We have seen that real wages are essentially flat for more than four decades.  And so we have had a period of tremendous economic growth and technological innovation and globalization, and yet American workers are working harder than ever.

They're more educated than ever.  More people in each family are working, and they're not really making ends meet.  And trade has been a key contributing factor.  It's not the only factor.  It may not even be the largest factor.  But it is a key policy choice that we have made.

And when we have a decision about a big trade agreement like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, this focuses the attention.  And I think we have seen candidates really take advantage of that attention on trade right now, and workers are responding and it's resonating.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Matthew Slaughter, any other reasons that this is catching on right now?

MATTHEW SLAUGHTER, Dartmouth College:  I think Thea is right that the American workers, a lot of them sitting around their kitchen tables thinking about voting, they have not performed as well as they had in the past.

They're concerned about their prospects.  They're concerned about their children.  And yet I think what's important to keep in mind is trade in particular, and globalization more generally, they have generated large gains for America overall over the many decades.

And with the right kind of policies going forward, more global engagement can help more American families in the future as well.

VIDEO TRIBUTE - To George Harrison 2004

2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Prince tribute to George Harrison - "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"


"This online pioneer sees a future where everything is internet" PBS NewsHour 4/21/2016


SUMMARY:  In the 30 years since Steve Case co-founded AOL, the global tech landscape has seen immense growth and change.  What new developments wait in the near future, and what does the rapidly expanding online world mean for human life? Case explores those issues in his new book, “The Third Wave.” Case joins Judy Woodruff to discuss his vision of the future.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Back in 1985, when Steve Case co-founded America Online, only 3 percent of Americans were actually online.  Fast-forward some 30 years, and we can see the global change brought about by the Internet and an ever-growing array of devices and social media.

So, what is next?

Well, we get a glimpse from Steve Case himself.  He is the author of a new book, “The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future.”

Steve Case, it is good to see you.

STEVE CASE, Author, “The Third Wave”:  It’s good to see you again.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So you borrowed that term the third wave from the futurist Alvin Toffler.


When I was in college in the 1980, I read Toffler “Third Wave.” It completely mesmerized me inspired me.  I spent the last almost four decades pursuing some of the ideas he talked about.

So, when I was writing a book, I wanted to pay respect to him.  I open the book with talking about my experience reading Toffler.  And I hope others will similarly be inspired by my book, and because the future once again is going to change, and the path forward is going to be different than what we saw in the last two waves.  And that’s what I was trying to lay out in this book.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, in a thumbnail, first wave was the creation of the Internet, which you were involved in.  Second wave was building on that, you describe, social media devices and so forth.

What is the next wave?

STEVE CASE:  It’s really integrating the Internet seamlessly throughout our lives.

And there is a lot of things that haven’t changed that much in the first wave or the second wave.  How we learn, our kids learn is about the same.  How we stay healthy is about the same.  How we manage energy is about the same.  Even how we think about food is about the same.

And work itself is starting to change in the third wave because of the freelance economy, what some call the gig economy.  So, I think it’s important for everybody, not just businesspeople or technologists, to understand what is happening next.  And that is what I try to lay out in this book with sort of a — a little bit of a road map forward and a little bit of a playbook in terms of how you can think about orchestrating your career and your life, and how you think about maybe your kids and even your grandkids.  What world are they going to be inheriting?