Seymour Hersh on Torture at Abu Ghraib & Secret U.S. Assassination Programs

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In 2004, investigative reporter Sy Hersh exposed the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq that shocked the world. Shocking photos of U.S. military personnel humiliating and torturing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib sparked global outcry, as well as national hearings, investigations and finger pointing. We speak with Sy Hersh about his investigation, nearly 15 years later.

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Sy Hersh: Henry Kissinger Must “Count Burned and Maimed Cambodian & Vietnamese Babies” in His Sleep

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While Sy Hersh was working at The New York Times Washington bureau, he would watch reporters call then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger nearly every day, diligently writing down his comments and then reproducing them as front-page news. This is one of many stories Hersh tells in his new memoir, “Reporter.” We speak with award-winning investigative journalist Sy Hersh about his many years reporting on Kissinger. He says, “What I always said about Kissinger, publicly, and again and again, is that when people … can’t sleep and they count sheep, I think Kissinger has to count burned and maimed Cambodian and Vietnamese babies the rest of his life. But, of course, he doesn’t.”

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Washington, D.C., Approves Controversial Wage Hike For Tipped Workers

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Tipped workers in Washington, D.C., could soon be getting a pay raise, thanks to a ballot initiative in Thursday's primary.

The initiative, which passed with just over 55 percent of the vote, will raise minimum wage for tipped workers from $3.33 an hour to $15 an hour by 2026, at which point it will be in line with the city's non-tipped minimum wage. 

Washington's non-tipped minimum wage is set to reach $15 by 2020.

Currently, if tipped workers in Washington don't make minimum wage with their tips, business owners have to make up the difference.

SEE MORE: Disney Is Considering A Bump In Florida Workers' Minimum Wage

Opponents of the initiative worry the move will impose extra costs on business owners and that some of those costs might carry over to customers and employees.

But supporters say workers, especially women and minorities, won't have to endure mistreatment from customers to make a wage.

The initiative now heads to Capitol Hill for a congressional review. But the D.C. Council — which largely opposed the change — could also step in to repeal the new rule.

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Sy Hersh: I Knew Richard Nixon Beat His Wife in 1974, But Did Not Report the Story

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Soon after President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974, Seymour Hersh got a call from a source at a California hospital. He learned that Nixon had beaten his wife so severely in 1974 that she sought treatment at an emergency room. Hersh did not report the story. Years later, he received criticism for this choice. We speak with Sy Hersh in New York City. He says of his decision not to report on Nixon beating his wife, “I was obtuse to the notion that it was a crime. … I didn’t get it.”

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Investigative Reporter Sy Hersh: Working with Gene McCarthy’s Presidential Bid Shaped My Life Path

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Before investigative reporter Sy Hersh exposed many of the government’s deepest secrets, from Nixon’s bombing of Cambodia to the CIA’s role undermining the Chilean government of Salvador Allende, he served as press secretary for Democrat Eugene McCarthy during his 1968 presidential bid. We speak with Hersh in New York City about this little-discussed time in his life.

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Kim Jong-Un Wraps Up His Third Trip To China

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wrapped up his two-day visit to China on Wednesday. 

While there, he and Chinese President Xi Jinping talked about what was discussed during the U.S.-North Korea summit earlier this month.

According to North Korean state media, the two leaders came to a "shared understanding" on Kim's commitment to denuclearize the Korean peninsula as well as other issues discussed at the summit in Singapore.

North Korea has yet to announce exactly how it plans to denuclearize — and at least one world leader wants more clarity on that process.

SEE MORE: Looming Trade War Could Hurt US-China Cooperation On North Korea

The Associated Press reported that South Korean President Moon Jae-in told reporters Wednesday that North Korea needs "to present far more concrete denuclearization plans."

North Korean state media described talks between Kim and Xi in China as "candid and friendly." This was the third time in 100 days that Kim's visited the country.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

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Maker Of OxyContin Has Fired The Rest Of Its Sales Team

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Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has fired the rest of its sales team.

The company confirmed that about 350 employees were let go this week and that about half of that group was Purdue's remaining sales force. Purdue had already cut around half of its sales force in February.

The company also announced in February that it would stop promoting opioids to doctors. Multiple outlets report OxyContin is one of Purdue's best-selling drugs. 

Purdue said it would still manufacture OxyContin but that it'll focus more on new medications and unmet needs for cancer and certain central nervous system disorder patients. 

The pharmaceutical company is facing lawsuits from multiple states and local entities. Some of those lawsuits accuse the company of engaging in deceptive marketing practices and helping fuel the national opioid epidemic. 

Purdue has denied those allegations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says opioids killed more than 42,000 people in 2016. And prescription opioids were involved in 40 percent of all opioid overdose deaths. 

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Remembering the My Lai Massacre: Seymour Hersh on Uncovering the Horrors of Mass Murder in Vietnam

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In 1970, Seymour Hersh won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on how the U.S. slaughtered more than 500 Vietnamese women, children and old men in the village of My Lai on March 16, 1968. The event became known as the My Lai massacre. We speak with Seymour Hersh in New York City.

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Seymour Hersh: Media Today Must Cover Yemen & Trump Policy, Not Get Distracted by Tweets

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“Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News,” President Trump tweeted last week, in his latest attack on the nation’s press. A week earlier, federal prosecutors revealed they had secretly captured years’ worth of phone and email data from journalist Ali Watkins, who broke several high-profile stories related to the Senate Intelligence Committee. A former top aide on the committee, James Wolfe, has been charged with lying to the FBI about his contacts with the press. Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders recently dropped the United States to number 45 in its annual ranking of press freedom. When the group first published its list in 2002, the United States came in at number 17. We speak with the nation’s best-known investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh. He has a new book out looking back on his more than half-century of scoops and digging up secrets. It’s titled “Reporter: A Memoir.”

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A Hotter World Could Also Be a Hungrier One

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A hotter world could also be a hungrier one, with shrinking harvests and poorer quality plants. As planetary temperatures rise in response to ever more profligate combustion of fossil fuels, climate change could lower the yield of  vegetable and legume crops – and at the same time reduce their nutritional content.

And the same high end-of-the-century temperatures could raise the risk of massive, near-global losses for the world’s most widely grown cereal, maize.

This double blow comes close upon the evidence – from field trials over many years – that another global staple, rice, is likely to become less rich in protein and vitamins as temperatures increase.

British researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they studied 174 research papers based on 1,540 experiments in 40 countries between 1975 and 2016, on the probable effect of changes in water supplies, ozone, atmospheric carbon dioxide and ambient temperatures, on vegetables and legumes.

They found that on the basis of changes predicted for later this century, average yields of vegetables could fall by 35%, and legumes by 9%. There has been evidence that more atmospheric carbon dioxide could fertilise more plant growth, but other accompanying changes – greater extremes of heat, drought, flood and so on – could cancel out any such gains.

“As the planet warms, it becomes more likely for different countries to simultaneously experience major crop losses”

Pauline Scheelbeck, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who led the study, called the finding “a real threat to global agricultural production, with likely impacts on food security and population health.”

Scientists have been warning for at least five years of the potential impact of climate change on agriculture and food supply: other studies have shown that fruit and vegetable supplies could be at risk.

There has also been evidence that heat extremes could damage wheat yields while endangering food supplies across the whole of Africa, and at the very least test the capacity of global markets to cope with sudden harvest failures across whole regions.

US researchers report – once again, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – that they took a fresh look at the response of markets to what they call “volatility” in the global crop of just one cereal: maize, or corn.

Heavy dependence

This is grown widely: it is a staple for humans and fodder for livestock; it provides oil for cooking and has even been turned into fuel for motor cars. It is traded worldwide, but four countries – the US, Brazil, Argentina and Ukraine – account for more than 85% of all exports. The chance that all four exporters would have bad harvests in the same year right now is almost zero.

But under a warming of 2°C – a level which 195 nations agreed in Paris in 2015 to keep well below – this risk would rise to 7%. If global temperatures rise by 4°C, which is what will happen if humans go on burning ever more fossil fuels, the chance that all four maize exporters would have harvest failures at the same time rises to 86%. And, if that happened, corn prices would rise dramatically.

“When people think about climate change and food, they initially think about drought, but it’s really extreme heat that’s very detrimental for crops,” said Michelle Tigchelaar of the University of Washington, who led the research.

“We find that as the planet warms, it becomes more likely for different countries to simultaneously experience major crop losses, which has big implications for food prices and food security.”

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