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Join KPCC's AirTalk with host Larry Mantle weekdays for lively and in-depth discussions of city news, politics, science, the arts, entertainment, and more. Call-in number: 866-893-5722
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    2nd Annual Diller-Von Furstenberg Awards

    Honoree Elizabeth Smart addresses the audience during the 2nd Annual Diller-von Furstenberg Awards at United Nations on March 11, 2011 in New York City.; Credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

    Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped in 2002 at the age of 14, has spoken out against pornography, saying that it played a role in her abuse.

    In a recent interview for the anti-porn group Fight the New Drug, Smart said “pornography made my living hell worse.” Smart said porn motivated her captor to rape her even more frequently than he already did throughout her nine-month captivity. The video raises issues about porn addiction and its effect on behavior and the brain.

    However, recent  research shows that the brain does not respond to porn in patterns consistent with addiction. But some, like the group that interviewed Smart, claim that it’s a dangerous “drug.”

    So how harmful is porn? And what, if anything, should be done about porn addiction?  


    Clay Olsen, Co-Founder & CEO of Fight the New Drug, an anti-pornography group

    Nicole Prause, neuroscientist who has studied porn addiction; she’s the founder of Liberos LLC, an independent research institute

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    A clock on a smartphone is pictured on March 23, 2013. ; Credit: AFP/AFP/Getty Images

    Insomniacs have easier access to drug-free therapy, thanks to apps and Internet courses offering CBT-I — Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia.

    The sleep-specific therapy was initially created to deal with sleeplessness that occurs in the middle of one's sleep, rather than those who have trouble falling asleep when first going to bed. Components of CBT-I include a focus on good "sleep hygiene," such as reserving time spent in bed for sleeping only, and strategies for eliminating worry about sleeplessness.

    Jennifer Martin, a licensed clinical psychologist and professor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, explained why some, including the American College of Physicians, think CBT-I is a better first choice than sleeping pills.

    “What they’re talking about is not a night or two of poor sleep, but people who really suffer from poor sleep for several months that’s severe enough to make it hard for them to function during the day,” she said. “In those instances, what the research shows is that cognitive behavioral approaches had the best long-term outcomes. The American College of Physicians felt like cognitive behavioral therapy was safer, in terms of a first line therapy, and had better outcomes over the long term than using medication.”

    Still, it’s not feasible for everyone to see a sleep professional. Instead of seeing a CBT-I therapist to game out individualized analysis, online sleep programs can effectively, track, analyze and find solutions for insomniacs.

    Martin discussed how such apps and online solutions can help users get better sleep, as well as sharing some simple suggestions for improving your nightly rest.

    5 tips for better sleep from Jennifer Martin:

    1. Try not to worry about falling asleep:“Sometimes I’ll describe to patients that the biggest monster in their bedroom is the insomnia itself. [It] can be what keeps people  awake at night, worrying about what’s going to happen the next day and what’s going to happen in the long run.”
    2. Be active and have a daily routine:“A good amount of sleep is really based on how you feel and function during the day. There isn’t really a specific numbers of hours or minutes [of sleep everyone should get].”
    3. Use a clinically-tested sleep tracking app:“Typically what people will do is keep a log of their sleep habits through the app, and then the app will use that information to make an initial set of recommendations. Then, they follow that for a period of time — usually a week — continuing to monitor their sleep, and then the app will continue to make adjustments to their recommendations.” (One such app: CBT-i Coach, created by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.)
    4. Spend less time in bed: “Insomniacs have a tendency to cast a wide net and try to catch sleep any time they can. Oftentimes they end up spending too much time in bed.”
    5. Practice mindfulness-based relaxation exercises:“Learning and applying techniques to be relaxed at bedtime is actually a core components of CBT-I. Guided meditation is a great tool for that. One of the challenges that people with insomnia have is their anxiety level starts to go up as they approach bedtime.”

    This interview has been edited for clarity.


    Jennifer Martin, Licensed Clinical Psychologist specializing in CBT-I; Associate Professor, UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine

    This story has been updated.

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    Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, Testifies In Gawker Media Lawsuit

    Nick Denton, founder of Gawker, talks with his legal team before Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, testifies in court during his trial against Gawker Media in St Petersburg, Florida in March. Gawker went off-line yesterday.; Credit: Pool/Getty Images

    Univision won Gawker Media in an auction for $135 million last week, bringing Nick Denton’s reign of the media empire he founded 14 years ago to an end. has officially shut down, but other properties like Gizmodo and Dead Spin are still in operation.

    It is an end of an era for one of the internet’s most original voices. Before TMZ and Buzzfeed, there was Gawker and its slate of in-the-know, cooler-than-thou writers. The site was a must-visit for media elites and heartland readers alike, and the snarky, gossipy tone it created was as envied as it was imitated.

    What’s in store for Gawker Media? What does Univision get out of the purchase? What is Gawker’s legacy?


    Jeb Lund, a columnist for the Rolling Stone who’s been following the Gawker story

    Veronica Villafañe, editor and publisher of Media Moves, an online publication that focuses on the Hispanic media industry and Latinos in the media 

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    A man walks past a logo of Hyundai motor

    A man walks past a logo of Hyundai motor displayed in front of its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea.; Credit: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images

    After an 18-year career at the Washington Post, newly-married journalist Frank Ahrens moved to South Korea his with his wife Rebekah.

    She was stationed there with the foreign service, and he found a job as a PR executive with car giant Hyundai. Never imagining he would live outside the US, working for one of Korea’s massive chaebol -- the conglomerates that helped fuel the country’s economic boom -- was equal parts confusing and gratifying for Ahrens.

    In his new memoir “Seoul Man,” he outlines three simultaneous “midlife crises:” Hyundai’s, Korea’s, and his own. As the country moved away from an economy driven by a few conglomerates and Hyundai tried to remake its image, Ahrens experienced family life for the first time at 46.

    On AirTalk, Larry Mantle interviews Ahrens about his time at Hyundai, getting the journalist’s take on the changes in the company and the country during his time in South Korea.


    Frank Ahrens, former Washington Post editor; he is the author of “Seoul Man” a memoir about his time working for Hyundai in South Korea

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    Hillary Clinton Meets With Law Enforcement Leaders In New York City

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivers opening remarks during a meeting with law enforcement officials at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, August 18, 2016 in New York City.; Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    The Associated Press revealed yesterday that the Democratic presidential nominee met with major Clinton Foundation donors while she was the Secretary of State.

    Hillary Clinton promised to keep the foundation and her work with the Obama administration separate, but the AP found that more than half of the private-interest meetings she held were with people who’d given money to her family’s global philanthropy.

    The presidential hopeful has been plagued by the charity’s perceived conflicts of interest and the AP’s investigation suggests big Clinton Foundation donors might have been given special access to the State Department head.

    The Trump campaign and other Hillary critics are calling it pay-to-play politics. Others say these kinds of meetings and small favors are common in Washington D.C., plus there’s no clear evidence of illegal activity or donor influence on matters of state.

    Do you think the relationship between Clinton Foundation donors and the former secretary of State’s office was too cozy or is this just another case of inflated politics-as-usual?


    Doug White, non-profit expert and former director of Columbia University's Master of Science in Fundraising Management program.

    Michael A. Cohen, national politics and foreign affairs columnist for the Boston Globe, and author of "American Maelstrom: The 1968 Election and the Politics of Division"

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    Stanford University Holds Commencement Ceremonies Amid Recent Controversial Rape Case

    Graduating Stanford University students turn around to thank their parents during the 125th Stanford University commencement ceremony on June 12, 2016 in Stanford, California. ; Credit: Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

    Hard alcohol no longer has a place with undergraduates at Stanford University. School officials released a new alcohol policy on Monday that put a campus-wide ban on hard liquor and “high volume distilled liquor containers.”

    This comes amid the continuing fallout from the Brock Turner incident in which Turner, a highly-recruited swimmer on Stanford men’s team, was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on campus. Turner, to the outrage of many, received a six month sentence for his crime.

    While Stanford spokeswoman Lisa Lapin says the concern over alcohol abuse on campus isn’t new, critics see the ban as not addressing the real problem of the culture of sexual assault on-campus, plus they worry about students drinking more off-campus.

    What do you think of Stanford’s hard alcohol ban? Will the ban help stop the abuse of alcohol on campus, or is it just a distraction for a bigger problem?


    Bruce Lee Livingston, executive director and CEO, Alcohol Justice based in San Rafael -  a national advocacy organization that campaigns against the influence of the alcohol industry

    Michele Landis Dauber, professor of law and sociology at Stanford Law School; she tweets @mldauber

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    Detective Michael Morlan of LAPD speaks to a citizen. LAPD has proposed what is thought to be the nation's first Family Liaison Program. ; Credit: Maya Sugarman/KPCC

    In an effort to create a dialogue between LAPD and the families of those who have been fatally shot or died while in police custody, the police department has proposed what is thought to be the nation’s first Family Liaison Program.  

    Police Commission President Matt Johnson said the program will provide families with an official point of contact for obtaining documents, including death certificates and other record required by insurance companies.

    Some, including LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, think the program will help guide families through investigations, but others, including Black Lives Matter protester Ebony Fay, see the program’s development differently. “What that says to me really is that you're planning for there to be more of that – more death and more killings,” Fay told KPCC.

    The Family Liaison program has not yet been implemented, but police commissioners proposed hiring two liaisons to formalize conversations that would explain the investigation process to families. Commissioners announced the proposal yesterday at a nearly empty boardroom inside the LAPD headquarters while Black Lives Matters protesters cried for Mayor Eric Garcetti to fire Chief Beck.

    Do you think this new program will alleviate tension between families and the police department?


    Frank Stoltze, KPCC correspondent who covers criminal justice and public safety issues; he tweets from  @StoltzeFrankly

    Eugene O’Donnell, Professor of law and police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice; former NYPD officer; former prosecutor in Kings County, New York  

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    Three-year old Leonard and his five-year

    Three-year old Leonard and his five-year old sister Amelie enjoy eating a strawberries during the opening of the crop season on May 19, 2010 in Luedinghausen, western Germany.; Credit: VOLKER HARTMANN/AFP/Getty Images

    Restricting kids to a vegan diet could be considered child abuse punishable by jail time in Italy if a new proposal by a lawmaker in that country passes.

    The new law is in response to the mayor of Turin, Italy, saying she wanted her town to be Italy’s first “vegan city.”

    The text of the bill (in Italian) says that parents who force their kids to eat vegan are imposing a diet that is “devoid of essential elements for healthy and balanced growth.” While it doesn’t outright ban veganism country-wide, if passed it would make it difficult for parents to impose the diet on their children.

    Under the law, parents who make their kids eat vegan could face a year in prison if their child is over the age of 3 and two years if the child is younger. That term could turn into four years if the child gets sick as a result of the diet, and up to seven years if the child dies. Word is that the bill stands a decent chance of passing, as it comes after four children in Italy over an 18 month period were removed from their homes and placed in hospital care due to vitamin deficiencies believed to be tied to vegan diets.

    Reed Mangels is registered dietician and lecturer at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She raised her children on vegan diets. She believes veganism is a good choice for kids, as long as it’s done correctly.

    “[The proposed law] is just absurd...A well-planned vegan diet has the elements that are necessary for growth and development” said Mangels.

    She suggested it’s as easy learning a few nutritional tips and applying them at mealtime.

    “I think if you learn the basics about good nutrition, it becomes second nature. So, you’re planning a meal and you think ‘Oh, I need a protein source -- beans for instance, soy products -- I need vegetables, fruits, some kind of starchy food.’ That’s pretty simple.”

    Adjunct professor of public health at UCLA Bill McCarthy agrees, but he said parents must be cautious.

    Some vegan diets may not provide kids with all of  the necessary vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin B12. Low B12 levels can hamper neurological development, as well as cause irritability and weakness.

    McCarthy suggested closely monitoring vegan children’s vitamin levels and making changes accordingly.

    “Even though most parents of vegan children are aware of the need for supplementation, nonetheless, when tested using a simple blood test, the children do show some signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency,” McCarthy said.

    There are vegan B12 supplements on the market, though Mangels said kids should start with a daily multivitamin.

    She and McCarthy agreed that ultimately what’s most important is making sure your child gets the nutrients they need.

    “You can have a lousy animal diet or conversely a vegetarian or vegan diet that’s not healthy. It’s not just [about] veganism versus animal foods, but also the quality of your food choices,” McCarthy said.

    These interviews have been edited for clarity.


    Reed Mangels, Ph.D., registered dietician and lecturer specializing in vegetarian nutrition at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst

    Bill McCarthy, Ph.D., adjunct professor of public health at UCLA

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    Valery Spiridonov, a 31-year-old Russian graphic artist, looks on during a press conference on "Autopilot system for wheelchairs" on August 3, 2016 in Moscow. Spiridonov has volunteered to be the first patient to undergo a head transplant.; Credit: YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images

    In Philadelphia last year, the first double-hand transplant on a child was successfully performed.

    The U.S. saw its first penis transplant this past May. If all goes according to plan for one patient, the world will see its first head transplant by 2017.

    But will this be a medical advance, or are we stepping into dangerous ethical territory?

    Valery Spiridonov, 31, has volunteered himself for the controversial procedure. Spiridonov resides in Vladimir, Russia, and suffers from the genetic disorder, Werdnig-Hoffman’s disease, which destroys muscles and brain and spinal nerve cells. Dr. Xiaoping Ren of Harbin, China is the surgeon who will perform the procedure.

    The transplant would take approximately 36 hours and cost up to $100 million. Critics of the operation argue that the negative implications far outweigh the scientific breakthroughs. Aside from Spiridonov’s death, speculation of adverse reactions to the transplant have ranged from uncontrollable phantom limb pain to insanity.

    What do you think of the first head transplant? Are the risks to the patient’s well being outweighed by the potential medical breakthroughs of the procedure?


    James Giordano, Ph.D., professor of neurology and chief of the neuroethics studies program at Georgetown University Medical Center

    Nita A. Farahany, J.D., Ph.D., bioethicist and professor of law and philosophy at Duke University

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    Richard Ramos Haddon STEAM Academy LAUSD Pacoima

    Richard Ramos, principal of Haddon STEAM Academy, shows off students' model bridge-building projects on display in the hallways of the school in Pacoima. He hopes to create a magnet program at Haddon.; Credit: Kyle Stokes/KPCC

    The magnet program in Los Angeles Unified Schools was originally designed as part of a desegregation plan in the 1970s.

    More than 40 years later, magnet schools are still alive and well in LAUSD, having become a coveted school alternative for parents who decide not to send their kids to the public school in their district. Magnets are popular because most offer more diverse student populations and themed programs focused on things like STEM or the performing arts.

    This year, LAUSD added 16 new magnet schools in the hopes of increasing enrollment and providing more choice. Newly-minted Superintendent Michelle King is opening up more seats at current magnet schools and making them available faster. The district is also working on streamlining its application process and hopes to create a ‘one-stop-shop’ website where parents can easily apply to the program they want for their kids.

    Competition getting into magnets is tough, though. Last year more than half of students who applied to a magnet didn’t get into the one they chose.

    If you’re the parent of a student in an LAUSD magnet, what has your experience been? Do you think LAUSD magnets are fulfilling their mission?


    Kyle Stokes, KPCC K-12 education reporter

    Pedro Noguera, distinguished professor of education in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA

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    2015 NAMM Show - Day 2

    Musician George Clinton performs at the 2015 National Association of Music Merchants show at the Anaheim Convention Center on January 23, 2015.; Credit: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAMM

    At 75 years young, funk music innovator George Clinton joins AirTalk to talk about his coming show at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, September 17, 2016.

    The show is described as happening “on its own space-time curve... an epic night of sounds from the Brainfeeder trust.”  

    Clinton, his Funkadelic and Parliament bandmates, along with Flying Lotus and more will celebrate the evolution – and revolution – of beat-minded music, from electronic and deconstructed jazz, to futuristic R&B and instrumental hip hop.

    On AirTalk, Clinton talks about his collaboration with Compton-artist Kendrick Lamar, and his hobbies outside of music including fishing.


    George Clinton,  American singer, songwriter, bandleader, and music producer; a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, he has been cited as one of the foremost innovators of funk music, along with James Brown and Sly Stone 

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    Father and Daughter

    A father and daughter walk in the city center in Berlin, Germany. ; Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

    Fears about the psychological impacts on children who are left alone are based more on moral judgments about neglectful parents than on actual dangers faced by an unattended child, a new study suggests.

    In the study, social scientists at the University of California, Irvine asked survey participants about a variety of theoretical scenarios in which a child was left alone for less than an hour.

    Depending on whether the parent's absence was unintentional (delayed by a car crash) or intentional (engaging in an extramarital affair), respondents would rank the risk faced by the child.

    "Despite identical descriptions of each set of circumstances in which children were alone, those left alone on purpose were estimated to be in greater danger than those whose parents left them alone unintentionally," the study’s researchers said in the journal Collabra.

    UCI's Barbara Sarnecka said the consequences of this type of thinking lead to harsh legal ramifications for parents charged with neglect.

    Sarnecka:“Exaggerating the risks of allowing children some unsupervised time has significant costs besides the loss of children’s independence, freedom and opportunity to learn how to solve problems on their own,” Sarnecka said. “As people have adopted the idea that children must never be alone, parents increasingly face the possibility of arrest, charges of abuse or neglect, and even incarceration for allowing their children to play in parks, walk to school or wait in a car for a few minutes without them.”

    One listener of KPCC’s Airtalk — Maya, driving on the Santa Monica Freeway — commented that culture is an important variable in parenting:

    Maya:“I was born and raised in Yugoslavia. [I] came here when I was 12. I remember how easy it was for my parents to get in trouble and be questioned for their parenting. There’s a definite cultural bias.”

    Sarnecka said people’s harsh reactions toward the incident of the child who recently fell into a gorilla’s enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo was an example of the phenomena she was studying:

    Sarnecka:“People are really freaked out about the idea of a child ever being unattended for a minute. And if some crazy, low probability freak accident like that happens, they immediately are very angry at the parent who didn’t have the child in handcuffs.”

    Another AirTalk listener, Melissa from Santa Monica, said trusting children to be responsible for themselves has a positive impact:

    Melissa:“When my sister and I were kids, we were left in our home alone while our parents worked. And we had access to alcohol and we didn’t do that [drink alcohol] because there was an innate trust… The neighborhood moms were pretty judgmental, but we [my sister and I] spent a lot of time studying….  And those other kids in the neighborhood didn’t have the skills to cope with day to day decisions.”

    What do you think? What affects your perceptions of risk and fear? How does that play out in your parenting?

    These interviews have been edited for clarity. You can listen to the full segment by clicking the blue Play button above.



    Barbara Sarnecka, Co-author of the study “No Child Left Alone: Moral Judgments about Parents Affect Estimates of Risk to Children;” Associate Professor of Cognitive Sciences, University of California, Irvine

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    Planet Mars Shows Signs Of Liquid Water

    This image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows dark, narrow streaks on the slopes of Hale Crater that were thought to be created by water, but are now under question. ; Credit: NASA/Getty Images

    The scientific community was elated last summer when NASA scientists found long, dark streaks on the surface of Mars that they said could be proof of possible flowing liquid water on Mars.

    Now, almost a year later, new research from researchers at Northern Arizona University and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory has come out suggesting that if those dark streaks -- called “recurring slope lineae” (RSL) -- were created by flowing water, it wasn’t much. Furthermore, they say it’s also possible that the RSLs weren’t created by water at all, though it’s not clear to them just yet what did cause the streaks if it wasn’t flowing water.

    The tests, done using data collected by the NASA Mars Odyssey mission’s Thermal Emission Imaging System, measured the temperature of the ground that had dark streaks versus areas that did not. The results showed no temperature difference in the compared areas, and it was determined that at most the darkened streaks on Mars surface contain three percent water. That’s about as much as you’d find in the driest desert sands on Earth, according to a NASA JPL press release.

    The researchers are careful to point out that the new research doesn’t contradict last year’s findings that suggest there could be flowing water on Mars during the summer months, but it does narrow down exactly how much water could have created them.


    Chris Edwards, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Northern Arizona University

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    University Of Chicago Shuts Down After Threat Of Gun Violence

    A Pedestrian walks through the Main Quadrangles (Quad) on the Hyde Park Campus of the University of Chicago on November 30, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.; Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

    A letter outlining the University of Chicago’s freedom of expression policy went out to incoming freshman this week.

    The Dean of Students, John Ellison, announced the school does “not support so-called ‘trigger warnings’” nor does it “condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’”.

    Trigger warnings are content notifications that alert the reader of sensitive material. Safe spaces are places or forums for marginalized groups to convene and share without the risk of judgement from others.

    Supporters of the school’s decision say those tactics can function as censorship, stymying the free exchange of diverse ideas on campus. Critics of the University of Chicago’s decision say students need to feel safe and comfortable before they can truly contribute to a debate and universities need to be more welcoming towards the needs of an increasingly diverse student body.

    Will this elite school set a trend or lead other universities to distance themselves?


    Greg Lukianoff, President and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE); he co-authored The Atlantic’s September cover story, “The Coddling of the American Mind

    Nolan Cabrera, Ph.D.,assistant professor of education in the Center for the Study of Higher Education, University of Arizona; Cabrera's primary research interests include race/racism in higher education

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    Stephen K. Bannon

    Stephen K. Bannon talks with callers about Donald Trump officially becoming the Republican Presidential nominee. Bannon has bragged that his site has become a platform for the alt-right. ; Credit: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images for SiriusXM

    Many of us hadn't heard of the alt-right movement until quite recently. This Presidential race is bringing it to the forefront.

    Yesterday in Reno, Hillary Clinton claimed Donald Trump is embracing the alt-right philosophy, calling it a paranoid fringe that's taking over the GOP. Breitbart executive chairman and Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon bragged earlier this summer that his site had become "the platform for the alt-right."

    In an interview with ABC News, self-identified alt-right-er Jared Taylor described the group as "a dissident movement" where "the prevailing orthodoxy about race is that it is an insignificant phenomenon." The Southern Poverty Law Center defines the alt-right as "a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that 'white identity' is under attack by multicultural forces using 'political correctness' and 'social justice' to undermine white people and 'their' civilization."

    What do those in the alt-right believe and does Trump share their goals, is he actively courting them, or is this spin from the Clinton campaign?


    Beth Reinhard, National politics reporter, WSJ who recently wrote about the Alt-Right movement; she tweets from @bethreinhard

    Jared Taylor, Alt-Right member and editor of the online magazine American Renaissance, which he has described as a white advocacy organization; he tweets from @jartaylor

    Paris Dennard, Republican political analyst and former staffer for President George W. Bush and the Republican National Committee; he tweets from @PARISDENNARD

    John Nichols, National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation; he tweets from @NicholsUprising