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

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yesterday’s WikiLeaks dump of documents was yet another major breach of classified information inside U.S. intelligence services.

    Hari Sreenivasan picks up our story.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Today, the story about intelligence leaks advanced on multiple fronts. Reuters reported intelligence officials have known about the security breach since last year, and are focused on contractors as the likeliest source of the leak.

    And White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said President Trump is extremely concerned about the breach.

    For more on all of this, we turn to Leon Panetta. He served as the CIA director during the Obama administration.

    Mr. Panetta, first, what’s happening in the CIA right now? If it’s a mole, how do they find him, if it’s an inside job, him or her? Or, if it’s from the outside, how do we figure out where we were hacked?

    LEON PANETTA, Former U.S. Secretary of Defense: Well, I think the more important issue is going to be, how do you replace those important tools that have now been made public and try to reestablish our intelligence capability, so we can gather the information that is absolutely essential in order to protect our country?

    This has been seriously damaging to the CIA and its ability to conduct intelligence operations. So, I would imagine the first focus is on, what do we do to try to replace our ability to go after terrorists?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You know, we had Chelsea Manning from the Army. We had Edward Snowden and Harold Martin from the NSA. Weren’t there reforms taken after these things? Why didn’t they work?

    LEON PANETTA: You know, I’m sure there were steps taken to try to make sure that this wouldn’t happen.

    But we are, clearly, living in a world in which the ability to hack has developed to a point where I happen to think that probably anything is vulnerable today. So I think you try to take steps to try to protect that kind of sensitive information, try to do what you can to make sure that those who are working for you are taking steps to protect it, contractors are taking steps to protect it.

    But the bottom line is that, in today’s world, I think you always have to be prepared that somebody may very well be able to get access to that kind of information and, if they do, that they will make it public. I think that’s the world we live in right now.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You know, I think it caught a lot of people by surprise that the CIA has such an extensive hacking operation. Don’t we have the NSA for that? Why is the CIA doing this?

    LEON PANETTA: Well, the CIA does it for intelligence-gathering purposes abroad. It’s not done here in the United States. It’s done abroad.

    And, for that reason, the CIA has to develop the capabilities that it has developed in order to be able to track those that are known suspects of terrorism.

    You know, we went through 9/11. There was a national commission that was established to find out why we were attacked on 9/11. And the result of that is that the CIA and other intelligence agencies developed better capabilities to go after terrorists and to try to locate them.

    There is a reason we have not had another 9/11 attack in this country, and a lot of that is because our intelligence agencies, our law enforcement agencies are sharing information and gathering information that makes sure we protect the United States.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Speaking of sharing information, back in 2010, when you were still CIA director, the Obama administration said that they would share zero day vulnerabilities, those hacks that are core in pieces of software, like in an Apple iPhone or an Android operating system, with the technology companies.

    But, here, we have evidence that the CIA has hoarded a lot of those zero day vulnerabilities and really violated that trust.

    LEON PANETTA: Well, I have to tell you, at least in my time as director of the CIA, that we had a very good relationship with Silicon Valley and with high-tech companies.

    And, you know, we had a cooperative relationship. Obviously, they have their interests, and we respect that. They are dealing with privacy issues, and we respect that as well. But, in the end, all of us are concerned about being able to ensure that we are able to go after terrorists, that we’re able to detect when they are planning attacks on this country and elsewhere, and that we are able to take steps to protect this country.

    And I think what we have to do is make sure that we get back to that kind of cooperative relationship.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The thing that has a lot of people concerned is, when you keep these zero day vulnerabilities to yourself, and you don’t tell Apple or you don’t tell Google or you don’t tell Microsoft, hey, there’s this hole in your software, that means that identity thieves, other governments could also be using this.

    I think there’s also general discomfort, to put it mildly, with consumers, who say, wait a minute, I thought that my product was safe, but here I don’t necessarily know whether it’s even — my government’s look out for my best interests.

    LEON PANETTA: Well, again, I think the fundamental issue that’s involved here is whether or not we want our intelligence agencies and our law enforcement agencies to be able to protect our country.

    And I know that there are there’s often this debate about, are we going to be able to protect our security and our freedoms at the same time? I believe we can. I don’t think we have to make a choice on that.

    The reality is that what the CIA has done in terms of its capabilities and what it is able to do is done pursuant to the law and is done pursuant to oversight by the Congress and by the Intelligence Committees on the hill. They are fully aware of what capabilities the CIA has, and that is the way we try to protect our freedoms at the same time.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Former Defense Secretary and former head of the CIA, among many other things, Leon Panetta, thanks so much for joining us.

    LEON PANETTA: Thank you.

    The post Panetta: WikiLeaks dump of hacking documents ‘seriously damaging’ to CIA appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Heavily armed gunmen disguised in white lab coats stormed a military hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, and killed at least 30 people. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility. Footage from the scene showed Afghan soldiers rushing to the complex as helicopters landed on the roof to rescue trapped victims. The fighting lasted for hours.

    Meanwhile, two suicide bombers in Iraq killed at least 23 people at a wedding party.

    The U.S. military publicly accused Russia today of deploying a land-based cruise missile that violates a nuclear arms treaty. Air Force General Paul Selva is vice chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff. He told a House hearing that Moscow broke the spirit and intent of a 1987 agreement, in a bid to pressure the U.S. and its allies.

    GEN. PAUL SELVA, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff: The system itself presents a risk to most of our facilities in Europe, and we believe that the Russians have deliberately deployed it in order to pose a threat to NATO and to facilities within the NATO area of responsibility.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Obama administration had previously accused Russia of breaking the treaty. The Kremlin has rejected the U.S. complaints.

    This was International Women’s Day, and, in the United States, A Day Without a Woman. Organizers called for women to stay off the job and protest for pay equity and against a ban on funding international groups that offer abortions. It is a follow-up to the mass marches after President Trump took office. We will have a full report later in the program.

    Crews battling wildfires in the Plains states made some headway today as winds eased slightly. The fires have been burning this week across Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado. They have killed at least six people so far, and scorched more than a million acres of land.

    In Guatemala, at least 19 girls died today in a fire at a shelter for abused teenagers. Police said some of the teens set fires to protest overcrowding. In the aftermath, relatives gathered outside the government-run center near Guatemala City, demanding answers.

    CORINA CRUZ DE PAZ (through interpreter): It was lit. I don’t know what it was, but mattresses were lit, since last night. There are many children who have burns; 19 are dead. They haven’t given us an explanation, and they don’t let us go in.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The facility has been criticized for overcrowding and other problems.

    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is moving to offer mental health care to vets that receive less-than-honorable discharges. VA Secretary David Shulkin made the announcement at a congressional hearing last night. It is part of a new effort to prevent suicides. Thousands of former service members could be affected.

    In the city of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti has won a second term, easily beating 10 rivals in Tuesday’s election. Just 250,000 voters turned out in the nation’s second largest city. Garcetti, a Democrat, claimed 81 percent of the vote, and said it’s a victory for an all-inclusive ideal.

    MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI, Los Angeles: Everybody, regardless of their religion, regardless of their race or ethnicity, regardless of their legal status, regardless of whom they love, regardless of where they come from, is a part of this Los Angeles dream and always will be as long as I am your mayor.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Under Garcetti, downtown Los Angeles has seen a rebirth, but the city’s poverty and homeless rates remain high, and violent crime has risen for three years running.

    FBI Director James Comey served notice today that he means to finish out his 10-year term. In a Boston speech, he joked, “You’re stuck with me for about another six-and-a-half years.” Comey became a lightning rod over his handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation last year. And last weekend, he urged the Justice Department to reject President Trump’s claim that President Obama tapped his phones.

    China has approved 38 new trademarks for the Trump family company. The announcement today covers an array of potential enterprises, from hotels, to golf clubs, to a class of businesses that includes escort services. Trump Organization lawyers applied for the Trump trademarks last April.

    China also reports that it ran a trade deficit last month, for the first time in three years. It could signal improving economic growth.

    Meanwhile, Wall Street mostly gave ground today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 69 points to close at 20855. The Nasdaq rose three points, and the S&P 500 dropped five.

    The post News Wrap: ISIS claims responsibility for Afghan hospital attack appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Women take part in a ‘Day Without a Woman’ march on International Women’s Day in New York on Wednesday. Photo by REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

    At first, Tracy Kennedy thought it was a hoax.

    But the news was clear, and real: the public schools in Alexandria, Virginia would be closed on Wednesday after an unusually high number of teachers submitted leave requests in order to participate or show support for “A Day Without a Woman.”

    Kennedy, a single mother of two children, one of whom is enrolled in the Alexandria City Public Schools district,was livid after the district announced the planned closure on Monday.

    “I have absolutely no patience when it comes to interfering with kids’ education.This is a curriculum day, it’s a lost day of instruction,” Kennedy, said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “Whatever our kids were supposed to learn today — it will not be made up with a teacher workday.”

    The single-day protest, staged by the organizers of the January Women’s March on Washington, coincided with International Women’s Day, an annual celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women,” according to the group’s website.

    Participants were encouraged to stay home from work, patronize women and minority-owned businesses, or wear red to show solidarity with the movement if they could not afford to take a day off.

    The Alexandria school district announced that its schools would be closed Wednesday after more than 300 staff members asked to take the day off.

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

    “The decision was not made lightly,” Helen Lloyd, a spokesperson for the school district, wrote in an email. Lloyd added that it was “not based on a political stance or position.” Free breakfast and lunch was also offered for all students at six different locations regardless of which school they attended.

    Prince George’s County Public Schools, a Maryland county that borders Washington, D.C., also closed its school district for the day.

    The school district’s CEO, Kevin Maxwell, said in a statement Tuesday that roughly 1,700 teachers and 30 percent of the district’s transportation staff had requested leave.

    “We cannot transport students and provide safe, productive learning environments without adequate staff,” Maxwell said. “As a result, schools will be closed. We apologize for the inconvenience this will surely cause to many families.”

    An activist attends a demonstration outside the White House as part of “A Day Without a Woman” strike on International Women’s Day in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

    Katie Morgan, a mother of five who has two children enrolled in Prince George’s County, said she received the news late Tuesday night while she was at a PTA meeting. Morgan said she was surprised but believed the county made the right call, adding that she could empathize with the teachers.

    “They are so underpaid and undervalued and, coincidentally, have a high female to male ratio,” Morgan said.

    The median annual salary for kindergarten and elementary school teachers in the U.S. is approximately $55,000, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Wednesday’s protest placed a fresh spotlight on gender equality, feminist writer Maureen Shaw told the NewsHour.

    “There’s no denying [women] are severely underpaid and undervalued, and the strike is calling attention to this,” Shaw said.

    “There’s no denying [women] are severely underpaid and undervalued, and the strike is calling attention to this.”

    But Shaw said it also raised questions about income inequality within the women’s rights movement, given that many women were not able to afford a day off.

    “[This] may alienate a large swath of women, as well as the tens of millions of women who make minimum wage and have neither the financial security or flexibility to strike from paid work without risk of penalty,” Shaw said.

    The organizers of “A Day Without a Woman” addressed this and other issues on the “Women’s March on Washington” website, the group’s main platform. The goal of the strike, they wrote, was to work to “end the hiring discrimination” that women continue to face in the workplace.

    The organizers acknowledged that “it is possible that some women may be fired,” noting that a dozen people were reportedly fired for staying home from work during the “Day Without Immigrants” strike that took place last month.

    But the group argued that “nothing comes without a sacrifice,” adding that women must “look out for each other, using our privilege on behalf of others when it is called for.”

    Kennedy, the single mother of two from Alexandria, said the argument didn’t resonate with her.

    “I’m a strong woman. I’m self-employed. I’m a single mom. This [movement] does not represent me,” Kennedy said. “In my opinion, this is taking women back several decades.”

    Sandy Marks, who also has a child enrolled in Alexandria’s public school district, said the debate was drawing attention away from the point of the protest.

    The news coverage of the protest should “be less about affluent white hetero married people in privileged communities being inconvenienced by a day without childcare,” said Marks. “And more about the fact that pay equity — gender and racial — health care, maternity leave, paid sick leave, living wages are all things worth making a statement for.”

    The post School closures on ‘Day Without a Woman’ draw mixed response appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Republican bill to replace Obamacare has officially begun its journey through Congress today. Republican leaders and the White House are pushing it, against opposition, not only from Democrats, but also conservative critics and powerful interest groups.

    Lisa Desjardins reports on the day’s events.

    REP. PAUL RYAN, R-Wyo., Speaker of the House: This is a good day.

    LISA DESJARDINS: House Speaker Paul Ryan was soaringly optimistic this morning, defending the GOP health care plan that some conservatives have called it Obamacare lite.

    REP. PAUL RYAN: This is what good conservative health care reform looks like. It is bold and it is long overdue. And it is us fulfilling our promises.

    LISA DESJARDINS: This as two committees started slogging through the bill section by section, as Democrats and Republicans fought over procedure and amendments.

    MAN: Excuse me. If you would suspend, we’re going to move to forward with the regular order.

    LISA DESJARDINS: If you knew where to look, you could see in the audience signs of the larger battle fully under way. At the Energy and Commerce Committee, we saw representatives of doctors groups, like this woman from the American Academy of Family Physicians, and of hospitals, like this lawyer whose firm represents several, also biotech interests, including this man from well-known company, Genentech.

    Democrats like Raul Ruiz, a doctor himself, are highlighting some of those groups’ reactions.

    REP. RAUL RUIZ, D-Calif.: The American Medical Association came out strongly against this bill this morning. As you know, they represent — they are the largest organized group that represents physicians in the s United States.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The AMA specifically said the bill would — quote — “result in millions of Americans losing coverage and benefits.”

    Another major group, the AARP, also is opposed, saying the plan would dramatically increase costs for people between the ages of 50 and 64.

    But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce praised the plan, calling it absolutely critical in restoring health care markets.

    At the White House, Press Secretary Sean Spicer read his own list of supportive groups, and then dismissed the list of doctors and other organizations opposed so far.

    SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: This isn’t about trying to figure out how many special interests in Washington we can get paid off. It’s about making sure that patients get the best deal.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Meantime, multiple analysts have concluded the GOP bill will leave millions more without health coverage. Spicer responded to that by questioning a main arbiter, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which has not yet released its estimate.

    SEAN SPICER: If you’re looking at the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place. They were way, way off last time, in every aspect of how they scored and projected Obamacare.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Spicer said the White House will begin a full-court press on the bill. That started late this afternoon as President Trump met with conservatives. Republicans in Congress are aware that they have critics on the left and within their own camp on the right, but they are not yet showing any sweat.

    REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS, R-Wash.: This is just the beginning of the process, and this is the way legislating takes place.

    LISA DESJARDINS: It is a tedious, but important week. House committees may take until Friday to work through the bill.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Lisa Desjardins at the U.S. Capitol.

    The post Battle over GOP health care bill begins with review of the nitty-gritty appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Organizers Linda Sarsour (C), Carmen Perez (2nd R) and Bob Bland (R) lead during a ‘Day Without a Woman’ march on International Women’s Day, March 8, in New York City. Photo by REUTERS/Lucas Jackson.

    Wednesday’s “Day Without A Woman” strike could have cost the United States nearly $21 billion in gross domestic product and thrown workplaces across the country into chaos — if all paid working women had taken the day off.

    But many didn’t. It was a lofty goal put forth by a broad coalition of women’s right groups, including the organizers behind the post-inauguration Women’s March, to coincide with International Women’s Day. Like the “Day Without Immigrants,” the “Day Without A Woman” strike was meant to show the country what daily life feels like without women — and to hit employers and businesses in the pocket.

    Women in more than 50 countries around the world hosted rallies or marches to raise awareness of women’s rights and contributions. In the U.S., Women’s March organizers also asked women to take the day off of work — paid or unpaid; not spend money except at women-owned businesses; and wear red in solidarity, a color that has long been associated with the labor movement.

    MORE: Photos: A look at International Women’s Day marches around the world

    Women make up 47 percent of the workforce, according to economist Kate Bahn of the left-leaning Center for American Progress. But it’s unclear how many of those women chose — or were able — to strike. “Even as the economy has improved, there’s still a lot of economic insecurity,” said Elise Gould, an economist with the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. That point was highlighted by some critics of the march, engaged in an emerging debate over whether women were undervalued, or whether the strike was elitist; “the chasm between the haves and the have-nots is creating tension within the feminist movement,” the Washington Post writes.

    “I think a lot of people who care about work they do, they don’t want to make it inconvenient for other people,” Bahn said. “But that’s the point. It’s supposed to be inconvenient.”

    Some areas across the country have already been inconvenienced. Early Tuesday evening, schools in Maryland’s Prince George’s County announced they would close, leaving parents scrambling to find and pay for child care arrangements for their kids and, in some cases, forcing them to miss a day of pay to stay home. On Monday, Alexandria, Virginia’s school district announced that due to more than 300 staff members requesting the day off, schools would be closed on Wednesday.

    READ MORE: School closures on “A Day Without A Woman” draw mixed response

    The absence of seven clerks and one deputy court administrator in Providence, Rhode Island, brought the municipal court to a standstill, reported the New York Times. And protestors in New York briefly brought traffic in front of Trump International Hotel to a stop. Thirteen people, including Women’s March organizers, were arrested.

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    If all women took the day off of work, their absence would paralyze one sector in particular: care services. Women make up 94 percent of employees at child day care services, 88 percent of home health service workers, 97 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers, and 90 percent of registered nurses.

    These jobs are low-paid — but they are not less valued, Bahn said. “When you are contributing to another person’s well-being, it’s hard to put a dollar sign on that.”

    Child care workers, for example, made just $10.72 an hour on average in 2015, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s $22,310 a year. As Emily Crockett in Vox notes, that’s less than what those working as dog trainers and janitors make.

    “We devalue jobs that become associated with women,” Bahn said. “Even if they [are] the exact same jobs. Just because of sexual discrimination.”

    “We devalue jobs that become associated with women … even if they [are] the exact same jobs.

    “Female-dominated professions on average are paid less than male-dominated professions,” Gould said. “Occupations that female workers flow into see slower wage growth,” she added, citing an EPI study released last summer.

    With women’s work so often devalued, GDP isn’t the best measurement of how much women contribute to the economy. Even so, women’s participation makes up 43 percent of U.S. GDP, according to Bahn.

    But that estimate doesn’t include unpaid work. Women spend 150 percent more time on housework and twice the amount of time on caregiving than men.

    If women didn’t do that unpaid labor, it would be paid for in the form of, say, a housecleaner and daycare — and then it’d be counted in GDP. It’s no wonder then that a 2015 McKinsey Global Institute report estimated that women’s unpaid work amounted to $10 trillion per year.

    A woman holds a placard during a rally for gender equality and against violence towards women on International Women’s Day in Kiev, Ukraine. Photo by REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko.

    Policies that let women fully participate in the workforce — like affordable childcare and paid family leave — could increase women’s labor force participation and grow U.S. GDP by $600 billion, said Gould. (As we’ve often noted here on Making Sen$e, the United States is the only industrialized nation not to offer paid family leave.)

    And of course, there’s always the issue of equal pay.

    “At the median, in terms of hourly pay, women are paid 83 cents on the dollar,” said Gould, citing a forthcoming paper by the Economic Policy Institute to be released tomorrow. Even controlling for race, education, geographic location and work experience, there’s a 22 percent pay penalty for women.

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

    For black and Hispanic women, the wage gap is even more pronounced. In looking at median hourly wages, black women make 65 cents on the white male dollar; for Hispanic woman, that’s 69 cents.

    So, women have plenty of economic grievances. Why, then, didn’t the strike draw greater numbers?

    As Democratic congresswomen gathered on the steps of Capitol Hill in support of the “Day Without A Woman,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) noted that “there are millions of women who are unable to walk out, because they may get fired or cannot afford to lose their meager incomes.”

    Strikes have always been about “low-income people sacrificing wages so you can make bigger gains and gain more power,” Bahn said.

    When Ruth Gresser, a chef at Pizzeria Paradiso and Veloca in Washington, D.C., offered her female employees the option to take the day off, the idea of a women’s strike “was a little slow to be embraced,” she said.

    “We were also impacted by the immigrant strike, so the idea of doing another significant action was daunting,” Gresser said. But at least at her restaurants, it caught on: A significant portion, if not all, of the women she employs took a paid day off.

    READ MORE: What happened at D.C.’s restaurants when immigrant workers stayed home

    Gresser decided to donate half of her restaurants’ proceeds to two women’s organizations — My Sister’s Place, a local domestic violence shelter, and the National Organization for Women. Only half of the food and draft beer menu was made available, a symbolic gesture to underscore the impact of a day without half of the population.

    “I recognized in the mid-70s that I was a lesbian. I’m also Jewish,” Gresser said. “I was raised knowing that discrimination, and that there was work to do if all people were going to be treated more equally across the world.”

    The post Here’s what the economy would look like without women appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Taken in Mahanoy City. PA. Kallianiotis said of this image: “I was immediately drawn to the loneliness of the street, the tips of the attics, and the vibrant color of the middle house. This intrigued me, as did the setting of two empty chairs to the left. To me, it was an invitation: to stop, look and think.” Photo by Niko J. Kallianiotis

    Photographer Niko J. Kallianiotis was born in Greece. But he has spent the last two decades — half his life, now — in Pennsylvania’s small towns and big cities, taking photos as he crisscrossed the state.

    When he first immigrated to Scranton 20 years ago, he said he came with a fictional idea of America in his mind from the movies: vibrant, prosperous, thrilling. This wasn’t exactly what he found. Instead, he discovered that once-thriving towns in Pennsylvania were beginning to struggle. He watched as industry left and casinos rose in its place. More recently, he began to see parallels between the troubled economic situation in his home country and the one in Pennsylvania: a glut of services, but no industry, and rising unemployment because of lack of opportunity. He felt he was chronicling the “fading American dream.”

    Now, he has turned those photos into a project called “America in a Trance,” which is on exhibit at Marywood University in Scranton. He also shares his work on his Instagram page. Though he took the first photos for this project two years ago, he says it took on special resonance during the presidential election.

    Kallianiotis spoke to NewsHour about the project from the road in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

    Taken in McKeesport, PA. Kallianiotis said of the photo: “I took this photo during my first trip to western Pennsylvania. This photo is as you enter the city of about 18,000. It can be difficult not to show the desolation and abandonment of some places. When one visits these places I think it makes you a better human being, because it forces you to reevaluate some things. It almost feels that the people are trying to assimilate in their own towns and considering my hybrid background I try to reflect that.” Photo by Niko J. Kallianiotis

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: Tell me about how this project started.

    NIKO J. KALLIANIOTIS: Well, as you drive through these towns — this project is from Scranton to Pittsburgh, it covers the entire state — you notice a lot of services, but at the same time no industry. In Scranton, they used to make clothes for Manhattan in New York City. Now they don’t. For somebody who has no desire to leave a small town because of finances, or another reason, there really is no way to keep doing it. So if you’re unemployed there are no opportunities to do anything. And then the election happened, and then I started to think about photography’s role here.

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: What about photography’s role?

    NIKO J. KALLIANIOTIS: After the election, there was a story in Time about how photography has failed in the representation of Donald Trump. Photographer Ed Kashi was saying that photography has failed. But there have been a lot of photographers that have covered Pennsylvania or other rural areas in depth for years. Many photographers.

    The media, on the other hand, for the most part was jumping in when Trump was there. People for the most part were represented as caricatured. I think there is big gap between metro citizens and people who live in rural Pennsylvania. We here were shocked that people were shocked with the result.

    “When you paint you add, but when you photograph it’s subtraction. You have chosen that moment among hundreds of other moments in the day.”

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: How do you try to capture these towns differently?

    NIKO J. KALLIANIOTIS: The use of color serves as a sense of hope. I’m driving through this town and people will express their feelings and I will listen. We’re having this connection. And the photos are basically a response, not only to describe that connection with pictures but I’m also trying to show emotions. How it looks but also how it feels. It’s very easy in this area to become really cliché and exploitative. There are a lot of interesting characters. You can stop and use the hard flash and show the way they dress and look. And you’re coming in and taking in something and then you’re leaving. Throughout the election this kind of thing played a role — you have to go in there and really understand it.

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: What does the project’s title, “America in a Trance,” mean?

    NIKO J. KALLIANIOTIS: The meaning is the way the country is right now. I’m sensing that after the election, people walking in these towns are disoriented and alienated. Including me. I’m in every picture, too, in terms of the loneliness and trying to assimilate. Trying to blend with the culture, since I have two countries. I’m a U.S. citizen and I’m Greek, and I love both. This hybrid situation is complicated. The trance is: you’re aware, you’re listening, but you can’t really respond. I think that’s where we are right now.

    Taken in Mt. Carmel, PA. Kallianiotis said of the photo: “I was in my car, taking a break, when I noticed the girl in a vibrant red dress walking her dog. I made some pictures but they were not working. For a moment she disappeared and all of sudden she appeared again, running with the dog. ‘Lady in Red’ from Chris de Burgh crossed my mind.” Photo by Niko J. Kallianiotis

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: Despite all of this in the background, you’ve said your work is not political. What do you mean by that?

    NIKO J. KALLIANIOTIS: When you’re experiencing the nation through the movie screen, [like I did as a kid], and you come here and see this thing, in a way it’s unacceptable. We’re the most powerful country in the world. Take the Bethlehem Steel Mill in Pennsylvania. There were 350,000 people working there at its peak. Now they’ve closed it and built a casino on that place. There was a bit of irony there, because it was an old steel mill, and they couldn’t find the construction steel for the casino and so they imported it.

    At the same time, in Delano, Pennsylvania, about six to eight months ago, there was a mattress factory that closed. People were devastated and there was not really a documentation of that.

    But I try to keep my work open-ended, not just about that [devastation]. In some ways, I’m also not getting close to the people, because I’m not doing portraits. I include the human element. But it’s more about the place, and passing through it, and so in a way the photos are more candid. It’s often me driving, taking a lot of pictures from my car.

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: How do you decide what to capture?

    NIKO J. KALLIANIOTIS: When I travel, I have one camera and one lens. It’s an intuitive connection with a place and a response. I’m trying to figure out the world. I’m selecting, subtracting, editing. When you paint you add, but when you photograph it’s subtraction. You have chosen that moment among hundreds of other moments in the day. It’s that emotional connection.You’re photographing a particular corner and all the sudden this person comes in. It’s going back to what photography is. That’s why I try to keep it open ended. I don’t believe in Trump country [or] Hillary country. That’s our first mistake.

    Below, Kallianiotis has shared more of the stories behind his photos:

    Photo by Niko J. Kallianiotis

    Scranton. There is an interesting story behind this image. I photographed the same man from a different angle, with black and white film, about 10 years ago. I was driving around on the same street when I noticed a four-wheeler with a mechanical problem being towed and I stopped. Then I noticed the same man sunbathing in the same pose. I started making some images and he noticed me. He said, “You had my picture in local gallery years ago.” I thought: He is probably pissed off. But we ended up chatting, and I said, “I do have the picture framed. would you like me to bring it to you?” After a week, I did. He was really happy. We chatted, he told me his name is “little Buddha” and during our conversations he mentioned that he used to own two to there restaurants in Scranton back in the day. Family businesses, although still around, are competing with chain restaurants; the character of those places, just like the “little Buddha,” is lost. When the weather is good, he is still out there, sunbathing. I took this [latest] image in 2016.

    Photo by Niko J. Kallianiotis

    Aliquippa. Besides the design elements present in this picture I took it particularly for the name of the place, ‘Union Grill.’ It really interests me when photograph scenes of how things looked years ago; the vibrant atmosphere inside Union Grill, the conversations, the smells, people coming in and out. Now, it’s all pretty much gone. It’s an eerie and unsettling feeling.

    Photo by Niko J. Kallianiotis

    Scranton. I took this image about three days ago. I always return to the city where I live to explore locations I have previously photographed. I was driving up the street and I noticed the light quality and I thought: how great it would have been if the human element was incorporated in the scene. I kept driving and noticed the man with the walker coming down towards the building. After I passed him, I immediately turned and started photographing from the car window; there was not really anywhere to stop but when he was getting closer to the building I pulled over and waited. I noticed the other man in the far distance coming up from the right side of the frame and you can say that I got lucky with this one. The man with the walker, with his slow pace, and the younger man passing him fast, creates a nice juxtaposition. I am very interested in photographs that blend the descriptive with the emotional while at the same time have an open-ended tone and mood.

    Photo by Niko J. Kallianiotis

    Lehighton. For this project I rarely get close to the people. But this moment reminded me of a photo from photographer Robert Frank, “Parade Hoboken NJ,” and his book “The Americans.” I don’t like to interpret or force meaning, but I took this picture because it reflected my situation at the time, and was an attempt to discover my own state, while at the same time relate with the people and the setting.

    Photo by Niko J. Kallianiotis

    Unknown. I took this photo mostly for the overall mood of the sky, and secondly for the [sign] “Coal Keeps The Lights On.” Mostly, although it’s about photography (obviously), and how the atmosphere in the scene creates a dialogue, it’s also about the feeling. It’s how it feels to be there and experience the moment intuitively. Everything else is, and should be, open.

    Photo by Niko J. Kallianiotis

    Scranton. My city used to be a vibrant railroad hub, as was the entire state. Some parts, of course, still operate. These tracks cross the city, once a vibrant manufacturing place. The same scene exists in other parts of the world: the fog, and the lines, represent life and direction for me.

    Photo by Niko J. Kallianiotis

    I don’t remember where I am here. Regardless of the socioeconomic situation of these places, which is unavoidably ingrained in some of the images, the photos are really about me. As an immigrant myself, knowing and loving two countries, is both a blessing and a curse. Well, mostly it’s a curse. You don’t really know where you want to be at times. People can relate in some way or another but relating and understanding are not always the same.

    Photo by Niko J. Kallianiotis

    Unknown but on the way to Braddock, possibly outside Rankin. Together with the photo below, this is about the formal qualities and the play between the human element, the topography and the play of text. I try to use color as a sense of hope, because, despite the unfortunate circumstances of those places, I still believe there is a future. When there is will, there is always hope and a solution. The question is: Do we and the people in power have the will? The gap between people in metro areas and rural is immense. I don’t have a political agenda with my work besides the love for the place and the people.

    Taken in Reading, PA. Photo by Niko J. Kallianiotis

    The post This photographer chronicles Pennsylvania’s forgotten industrial towns and people appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    White House press secretary Sean Spicer says President Donald Trump has “grave concern” about the release of classified material and believes the systems at the CIA are outdated.

    Spicer was responding Thursday to questions during a news briefing about WikiLeaks’ disclosure of thousands of documents that it says reveals details of the CIA’s cyberespionage toolkit.

    The disclosure by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is expected to be discussed at the president’s meeting later Thursday with CIA Director Mike Pompeo (pahm-PAY’-oh).

    Spicer wouldn’t comment on the documents released, but he says Trump thinks the CIA’s systems need updating.

    Spicer also denounced Assange for his previous release of classified material, saying he has undermined U.S. national security in the past. Spicer says he leaves it to the Justice Department to comment on its “disposition of him.”

    He also discussed Congress’ efforts to pass health care legislation.

    “He has compromised, in the past, and undermined our national security,” Spicer said about Assange, who held his own online press briefing earlier in the day on the release of CIA documents.

    On Congress’ overnight sessions on the health care bill and how some lawmakers are still opposed to the administration’s proposal, Spicer said, “We believe that the more we talk about the comprehensive three-pronged approach … is going to bring people on board.”

    The White House also said President Donald Trump was unaware that former national security adviser Michael Flynn was being paid to act on behalf of a foreign government when he was chosen for his key post in January.

    Spicer said Trump had no knowledge Flynn lobbied for a company with ties to Turkey’s government.

    READ MORE: Former Trump aide Flynn says lobbying may have helped Turkey

    Trump fired Flynn last month for misleading administration officials about his conversations with Russian officials.

    Flynn filed paperwork Tuesday identifying himself as a foreign agent with the Justice Department, acknowledging that his work for the Dutch-based firm Inovo BV could have aided Turkey’s government.

    In the filings, Flynn acknowledged meeting with Turkey’s foreign minister and other officials.

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    Photo by Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

    Students at the Institute of Management Studies play with colors on March 9, in Noida, India, as part of Holi, the “festival of colors.” Holi marks the arrival of Spring and is celebrated in India and Nepal.

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    Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks at a press conference in February outside U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images.

    SEATTLE — Legal challenges against President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban mounted Thursday as Washington state said it would renew its request to block the executive order.

    It came a day after Hawaii launched its own lawsuit, and Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said both Oregon and New York had asked to join his state’s legal action. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, said the state is consolidating legal efforts and joining fellow states in challenging the revised travel ban.

    Washington was the first state to sue over the original ban, which resulted in Judge James Robart in Seattle halting its implementation around the country. Ferguson said the state would ask Robart to rule that his temporary restraining order against the first ban applies to Trump’s revised action.

    Trump’s revised ban bars new visas for people from six predominantly Muslim countries: Somalia, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Yemen. It also temporarily shuts down the U.S. refugee program.

    READ MORE: Hawaii files lawsuit over Trump’s revised travel ban

    Unlike the initial order, the new one says current visa holders won’t be affected, and removes language that would give priority to religious minorities.

    Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin said Thursday that the state could not stay silent on Trump’s travel ban because of Hawaii’s unique culture and history. Hawaii depends heavily on tourism, and the revised ban would hurt the state’s economy, he said.

    Chin pointed out that the new travel ban order comes just after the 75th anniversary of the Feb. 19, 1942, executive order by President Franklin Roosevelt that sent Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during World War II. That order was put in place after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Hawaii had an internment camp.

    Ferguson said it’s not the government, but the court, that gets to decide whether the revised order is different enough that it would not be covered by previous temporary restraining order.

    “It cannot be a game of whack-a-mole for the court,” he said. “That (temporary restraining order) we’ve already obtained remains in effect.”

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday the administration believed the revised travel ban will stand up to legal scrutiny.

    “We feel very confident with how that was crafted and the input that was given,” Spicer said.

    Ferguson said he was pleased that attorneys general from New York and Oregon had sought to take part in the legal action.

    “We have a strong case and they are willing to join our efforts,” he said of his fellow Democrats. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement called the executive order “a Muslim ban by another name.”

    In his initial lawsuit Ferguson said the original ban was unconstitutional and hurt the state’s businesses and universities.

    A federal appellate court later upheld a temporary restraining order issued against the first travel ban.

    The Trump administration says the old order will be revoked once the new one goes into effect on March 16.

    In filing a lawsuit Wednesday night, Hawaii said the revised order would harm its Muslim population, tourism and foreign students

    Attorneys for Hawaii filed the lawsuit against the U.S. government in federal court in Honolulu. The state had previously sued over Trump’s initial travel ban, but that lawsuit was put on hold while other cases played out across the country.

    Hawaii’s complaint says it is suing to protect its residents, businesses and schools, as well as its “sovereignty against illegal actions of President Donald J. Trump and the federal government.”

    Hawaii’s lawsuit challenging the travel ban focuses heavily on damage to the state’s economy and mainly tourism. Chin says the tourism angle is unique because the state relies so heavily on visitors and Hawaii officials have a right to defend the economy.

    He said people may fear traveling even within Hawaii because they would be forced to encounter a federal agent every time they get on a plane to visit a neighboring island.

    The post Washington to ask judge to block Trump’s new travel ban appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by the U.S. Department of Education, via <a href="https://flic.kr/p/fD6DPw" Flickr Creative Commons.

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday voted to end an Obama effort to identify and help struggling schools and students, as President
    Donald Trump and Republicans work to undo some of his predecessor’s key policies.

    Senators voted 50-49 to rescind accountability rules issued in November to help states implement the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, a law that addresses school ratings, student report cards and other ways to spot and help troubled schools. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

    Republicans argued that the regulations were an example of federal overreach and that details of things like report cards should be left to states and local communities. Democrats defended the rules, saying they provide important safeguards for vulnerable groups of students, such as children with special needs and minorities.

    Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said the regulations violate the main idea of ESSA, which he said was meant to empower states on education matters. The law replaced the George W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind law.

    “People had grown fed up with Washington telling teachers and schools, and superintendents and states, so much about what to do about our children in 100.000 public schools,” Alexander, who sponsored the measure, said on the Senate floor before the vote.

    READ MORE: Senate overturns Obama-era rule on teacher training

    “This resolution restores flexibility, this resolution preserves local decision-making, this resolution scuttles new and burdensome reporting requirements. This resolution ensures strong accountability for our schools, but it is state accountability,” said Alexander, who served as education secretary under President George H.W. Bush.

    Senator Patty Murray of Washington state, the top Democrat on the committee, had urged lawmakers to keep the regulations in place, saying they protect students’ civil rights.

    “We know that without strong accountability, kids from low-income neighborhoods, students of color, kids with disabilities and students learning English too often fall through the cracks,” Murray said. “And now it’s up to all of us to uphold the civil rights legacy of the law and its promise for students.”

    On Wednesday, the Senate voted to rescind another Obama education rule governing teacher training and evaluation. Senators were using an expedited process established through the Congressional Review Act, which lets Congress invalidate certain regulations with a simple majority vote in both chambers.

    Ian Rosenblum, executive director of The Education Trust-New York, said that with the regulations rescinded, it will be up to states to find ways to enforce protections for vulnerable students.

    “The law is the law, and states are required to enact accountability systems that shine a light on where schools are succeeding and where they are not —including for low-income students, students of color, English learners and students with disabilities,” Rosenblum said in a statement.

    MORE: What the White House can do to help HBCUs thrive

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    Mustafa Ali speaks at an event last June at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. Photo by Environmental Change and Security Program/flickr.

    WASHINGTON — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s office on environmental justice has resigned in protest over the Trump administration’s proposal to slash funding for programs that help poor and minority communities nationwide.

    Mustafa Ali, an associate assistant EPA administrator, helped found the environmental justice office in the 1990s and worked under Republican and Democratic presidents.

    Ali told InsideClimate News, which first reported on his resignation, that he sees no indication the Trump administration is interested in helping vulnerable communities. He says his “values and priorities seem to be different than our current leadership, and because of that I feel that it’s best if I take my talents elsewhere.”

    Ali’s resignation letter urges EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reconsider proposals to cut EPA’s budget, including environmental justice grants, by one-quarter.

    Earlier Thursday, Pruitt said he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming, a statement at odds with mainstream scientific consensus and his own agency.

    EPA chief: Carbon dioxide not primary cause of warming

    Pruitt said measuring the effect of human activity on the climate is “very challenging” and that “there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact” of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

    “So, no, I would not agree that (carbon dioxide) is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” Pruitt told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

    Pruitt’s view is contrary to mainstream climate science, including NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the EPA itself.

    NASA and NOAA reported in January that earth’s 2016 temperatures were the warmest ever. The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century, “a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere,” the agencies said in a joint statement.The EPA says on its website that “carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change.” The agency notes that human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, “release large amounts of CO2, causing concentrations in the atmosphere to rise.”

    The post EPA environmental justice head resigns appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now to another in our Brief But Spectacular series.

    Tonight, we hear from Kelly Corrigan, a New York Times bestselling author and the host of the podcast “Exactly.”

    Corrigan talks about how her family’s health struggles inspired her work.

    KELLY CORRIGAN, Author: I do, do a word a day, and I love it.

    My word of the day the other day on my e-mail was ripsnorter, that, like, a party could be a real ripsnorter. And that’s mine forever now, because I’m going to use that one.

    My father was easily impressed by everyone. He sort of gave me the impression that the world was rooting for me. He always used to say, “Ah, lovey, you’re going to write the great American novel someday.”

    And I thought, boy, that would be the thrill of a lifetime to hand him a book that I wrote.

    I was 36 with two kids in diapers, and I had discovered a pretty big tumor in my breast. And so I went over to my friend’s house who is an OB-GYN. And I took my shirt off on her sofa in front of my daughters, who were 1 and 2. And she kind of felt me up on the sofa.

    And she said, “You got to go — you got to go have it looked at tomorrow.”

    The doctor said, “I am very concerned.”

    And then I said, “Why are you concerned?”

    And he said, “Because it looks like an explosion.”

    Talk about words. Like, really? You want to say explosion to a 36-years-old who is, like, holding back tears? That’s not a good choice, Doctor.

    And so I started chemotherapy right away. And then, while I was in chemotherapy, my father was diagnosed with cancer. His was more complex because of his age and because of some previous health issues. And so we were really told to have a great year, and not to have — quote, unquote — “outrageous expectations” for more.

    I was in a panic, and I sort of sent that panicked energy on writing. I just felt like you can’t possibly let this man die without telling him, with sufficient emphasis, what it has been to be his kid.

    If I were to try to say to him, God, you’re a great dad or you’re, like, the foundation of my life, he would say, “Oh, lovey, lovey, lovey,” and he would switch it back to me.

    So, it really had to be a book, because I had to have uninterrupted space on the page to say, no, this is going to take more than a minute. This is going to take 300 pages.

    There is no quantifying how thrilling it was to go on that ride with my dad. I mean, he came to readings. He signed books with me. He shook hands with people. It was the absolute dream come true of all dreams.

    If nothing ever good ever happens to me again, I got more than I needed.

    My name is Kelly Corrigan, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on the power of words.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You can watch additional episodes of our Brief But Spectacular series on our Web site, pbs.org/newshour/brief.

    The post She wanted to express her love for her dad. It took 300 pages of writing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Next: the memoirs of a hippie, physician and disease fighter.

    Fred de Sam Lazaro reports, part of our ongoing series Agents for Change.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The shiny red T-bird convertible is a nod to its owner’s Detroit roots. But it’s in San Francisco that he first made a name for himself. It was quite a name to begin with.

    DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, Epidemiologist: It’s so arrogant to have a name like Brilliant that I put Sometimes Brilliant and Sometimes Not So Brilliant. And that’s what I sign.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The memoir Larry Brilliant is autographing chronicles a life of unusual journeys, a civil rights, an anti-Vietnam War activist, and hippie, who helped eradicate smallpox from the world.

    Today, he’s an adviser to Silicon Valley philanthropists who are helping him tackle other major diseases.

    DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: In the last 30 years we’ve had 30 pathogens, viruses jump from animals to humans. We know some of them, SARS, MERS, swine flu, bird flu, Ebola, Zika.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It all began in 1969 in San Francisco, where Brilliant had come for an internship after medical school and volunteered to work at the recently closed federal prison on Alcatraz Island, which was occupied by a group of about 100 Native American protesters. That stint got him on the evening news.

    DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: Somebody from Warner Brothers saw me on television, and they called me the next day and they said, we’re starting a movie in two or three days. We’re going to be gathering at the same place I got off the boat, and it’s going to be a movie about hippies and rock ‘n’ roll. It’s going to have the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane and Pink Floyd.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He joined the crew as a doctor, the film was a flop, but Brilliant became friends with some of the era’s iconic figures.

    MAN: What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: They included the Woodstock emcee who became famous in clown costume as Wavy Gravy.

    DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: This is Wavy Gravy.

    MAN: I am so honored to meet you.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: At 80, he’s slowed only physically. The friends still gather often and recount their adventures, including a journey across Europe toward India. They had planned to feed flood victims in what was then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

    WAVY GRAVY, Entertainer: And the idea was that we had so much media from doing the free kitchen at Woodstock, that if we got there and started feeding people, that it would embarrass the government: My God, there’s hippies doing it. We better do it better!

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For Larry Brilliant and his wife, Girija, this was a transformative journey. They became disciples of a spiritual leader or guru, Neem Karoli Baba.

    Were you able to converse with him in Hindi?

    DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: Yes.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Hindi was a big asset for the assignment the guru gave him: to help eradicate small pox in India and Bangladesh, which were among last holdouts for the virus that had killed half-a-billion people through history.

    DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: Bad disease. Most people thought it could never be eradicated. We had had a vaccine for 200 years, and what we were doing is we were vaccinating everybody.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That strategy worked in the West and developed countries, but could never work in India, he says, with a population then of 600 million people, some 20 million of whom were on a bus or train on any given day.

    The hippie doctor coaxed his way into the World Health Organization team that took a different approach: tracking down every single infected person and vaccinating everyone around them, creating a so-called ring of immunity, so the virus couldn’t spread. It was a Herculean task.

    DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: We had to visit every house in India every month for 20 months. We made two billion house calls, 150,000 people, doctors from 170 countries.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Smallpox became the first disease ever eradicated from the planet. Brilliant went on to become a leading expert on infectious disease, a consultant to the White House most recently when Ebola threatened to escalate.

    MAN: What is it going to take to prevent an outbreak?

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Today, Larry Brilliant heads a group called the Skoll Global Threats Fund, which focuses on issues like climate change, nuclear proliferation, and pandemics.

    It is an affiliate of the Skoll Foundation, which also helps fund the NewsHour.

    MAN: It’s about detect and report.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: These epidemiologists are setting up pilot studies to gather data in 28 countries, trying to determine early patterns of how a disease breaks out.

    DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: Wouldn’t you like to create advisory panels and partnerships with tech companies, major universities, epi departments?

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Brilliant has raised millions of philanthropic dollars for other efforts that include the Seva Foundation, an eye care charity now in several countries that he started with Wavy Gravy.

    After the smallpox campaign, Larry Brilliant began forging ties in Silicon Valley, where he’s been a kind of guru to many tech industry leaders, including the late Apple founder, Steve Jobs. The two men met in the ’70s here in India, where both had come seeking spiritual harbor.

    DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: We have Shiva and Krishna to welcome you.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The Brilliants’ California home is replete with symbols that reflect an embrace of all major religions.

    DR. LARRY BRILLIANT: When I was with Neem Karoli Baba, he would always say sab ek, all one.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That was the spirit of the ’60s and ’70s, he writes, when beautiful flowers blossomed alongside vicious weeds, an era that was neither all Martin Luther King nor all Charles Manson.

    For the PBS NewsHour, this is Fred de Sam Lazaro, in Mill Valley, California.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Fred’s reporting is part of the Under-Told Stories Project at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

    The post Stamping out smallpox is just one chapter of his Brilliant life story appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, let’s pick up where Judy and Julie Rovner left off and hear from an insurance executive whose business is focused on Medicaid patients and who is concerned about these potential changes.

    Dr. Mario Molina is CEO of Molina Healthcare, which offers insurance through the Obamacare exchanges and contracts with the government for Medicaid. It operates in 13 states.

    Welcome.

    MARIO MOLINA, CEO, Molina Healthcare: Thank you.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, you just heard the conversation about the changes that are — the proposed changes to Medicaid. And you obviously have a lot of people under your umbrella who receive Medicaid. What’s your concern?

    MARIO MOLINA: Well, I’m very concerned about the long-term funding of the program.

    One of the members of Congress said yesterday, if you have Medicaid today, you’re going to have Medicaid tomorrow and things are going to be fine. But that’s only partially true, because, beginning in 2020, there are going to be major cuts to Medicaid, and people who have gotten coverage through the ACA may lose it.

    And people that have had coverage through traditional Medicaid may lose it as well. As you heard, the two biggest things in the state budget are Medicaid and education. And so you’re going to see competition between funding Medicaid and funding education.

    And so states are going to have the make cuts to one program or the other, or they’re going to have to raise taxes. But the burden for paying for health care for low-income people is being shifted to the states.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The GOP, for years, not just with regards to Obamacare, has said that Medicaid is too big, costs the government too much, costs the states too much, and that they have to control these costs.

    What is your response to that?

    MARIO MOLINA: Well, you know, the CBO has looked at this. And they have found that the most cost-effective way of covering low-income people is actually through Medicaid.

    Medicaid accounts for 50 percent of all births in this country. One-third of all the children are covered under Medicaid, and it pays for half of long-term care. So it’s a big program that covers 72 million people.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You obviously, I understand, have some concerns about what this means for the Obamacare exchanges and for the individual marketplace as well.

    What are your concerns in that regard?

    MARIO MOLINA: Well, right now, we cover about a million people under the marketplace.

    And these are people who are working, but their employers don’t offer them insurance. And they’re getting subsidies that allow them to purchase insurance. And they are going to be threatened.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Obviously, there are a lot of other larger insurance companies, larger than yours, who have expressed a lot of concern with the exchanges. And what have you heard from them about their concerns?

    MARIO MOLINA: Well, most of the big insurance companies have gotten out. United is out. Aetna is getting out, Humana, Cigna.

    So the major insurance companies that you traditionally think of as employee — take care of employer-sponsored care are really not participating. This is being left to smaller insurers, those that focus on Medicaid, and many local companies like not-for-profits or Blue Cross or Blue Shield plans.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I know you have been on the Hill and talking to a lot of members of Congress. What do you tell them when they’re in the midst of this debate right now? What have you been saying to them?

    MARIO MOLINA: Well, you know, we have been trying to educate them about what this is going to mean for the average American and then the ripple effects through the economy.

    So, for example, there was a study done by the University of Michigan that showed this was going to put about $400 million into the Michigan economy. That’s going to go away. And it’s going to have a ripple effect.

    Many smaller rural hospitals are likely to go out of business. And so, even if you have private insurance, you have difficulty getting access to care, because your community hospitals may be gone. The E.R. is going to be crowded with people who were insured and now have no place to go.

    So it’s going to affect everyone, regardless of what type of insurance you have.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right. Dr. Mario Molina, thank you very much.

    MARIO MOLINA: Thank you.

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: The House Republican plan moved a step forward today, but big concerns remain.

    In a moment, William Brangham talks to the head of an insurance company.

    But, first, Judy Woodruff zeros in on some of the basics about key changes in the Republican bill.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tonight, we look at Medicaid and some big changes that could be in store under the Republican plan.

    Under the Affordable Care Act, more than 10 million more people got coverage in 31 states that expanded their Medicaid program. The GOP approach would eventually change that and more.

    For now, the federal government would continue paying for those already added. Starting in 2020, however, enrollment would freeze, and states wouldn’t get additional dollars for signing anyone up.

    The Republican bill would also cap how much the federal government pays per Medicaid enrollee. That is a fundamental change.

    Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News joins us again.

    Welcome back, Julie.

    So, remind us briefly, how did Medicaid work under the Affordable Care Act? How does it work now?

    JULIE ROVNER, Kaiser Health News: Well, Medicaid has always been thought of as the health insurance program for the poor, but you had to be more than poor to get on Medicaid prior to the Affordable Care Act. You had to be poor and a pregnant woman or child, poor and disabled, poor and elderly.

    If you were poor and none of those things, you were not eligible in many states. The Affordable Care Act changed that. It said that all you had to be was poor, and you could get Medicaid. And originally it was a requirement. The Supreme Court struck that down and made it optional.

    And, as you mentioned, 31 states have expanded Medicaid to basically allow everyone who is poor. And that’s under 138 percent of poverty, about $15,000 a year for an individual.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, why is the Republican leadership changing this?

    JULIE ROVNER: Well, the Republican leadership, the Republican Party has been agitating to really scale back Medicaid for many, many years, really starting in the 1980s under President Reagan.

    There have been many effort, none of which have come to fruition, to scale back the basic Medicaid program. But, in particular, they don’t like the expansion, which they say is for able-bodied people, and, in practice, not all of the people on the expansion are what you would consider able-bodied.

    But the first thing they want to do is get rid of that expanded Medicaid.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And they would put a cap on how much it is that they would give people.

    JULIE ROVNER: That’s right.

    Well, they would put a cap. It’s called a per capita cap. Basically, they would cap funding per enrollee. This is a different kind of change than had been talked about before, which would just be a block grant, where they would just basically say to state , we’re going to give you a chunk of money. And a state says, well, what happens if we have a recession and more people qualify?

    So, this would at least make up for the number of people on the program, but it would still cap spending on what has been since it was created in 1965 an open-ended entitlement that’s shared between the federal government and the states in terms of funding.

    Basically, what it would do over time is make states pay a larger and larger share of their Medicaid costs.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s — and so we’re hearing from governors, including Republican governors, that they’re concerned about this.

    JULIE ROVNER: That’s right.

    And while many Republican governors took the expanded Medicaid, we should point out that the federal government is actually paying a larger share of that expansion than they’re paying for the traditional Medicaid population. And that’s why the complicated phase-out in the Republican proposal.

    But, eventually, the Republican governors see that they would not only stop getting the extra money. They would probably get less money than they were getting before the Affordable Care Act for the Medicaid program. And the Medicaid program is either the largest or second largest program in virtually every state’s budget. So we’re talking about a lot of dollars here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, a number of these governors are still — still don’t see eye to eye with the Republican leadership and the White House.

    JULIE ROVNER: That’s right, and a lot of senators in those states are basically coming out in favor of their governors, saying they’re concerned about this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And just quickly, Julie, this gets to why some states would be hurt more than others under this plan.

    JULIE ROVNER: That’s right.

    It would be complicated. It’s not just how many people are on Medicaid. It’s how much Medicaid costs in those states. It’s what it’s based on. This is the ultimate formula fight, which Congress is very familiar with, and it’s a big piece of this legislation that the Republicans are trying the push.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we should say this is all based on what is in this proposed legislation. As you and I are talking, we know all this is subject to change. But this is what we can talk about at this point.

    JULIE ROVNER: That’s right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News, we thank you.

    JULIE ROVNER: Thank you.

     

    The post How the Republican health care bill would change federal funding for Medicaid appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development, is seen at a December meeting with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his office at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

    WASHINGTON — Housing Secretary Ben Carson sought Thursday to reassure his agency that budget cuts may not be as steep as some fear, even as housing advocates and others brace for deep reductions to public housing and anti-poverty programs.

    The cuts said to be under consideration, more than $6 billion, would target community development block grants and some public housing money. The idea would be to help offset some of the $54 billion increase in defense spending that President Donald Trump is seeking.

    In an email Thursday to Department of Housing and Urban Development employees, the newly confirmed Carson cautioned that the budget numbers were preliminary and that “starting numbers are rarely final numbers.”

    “Rest assured, we are working hard to support those programs that help so many Americans, focus on our core mission, and ensure that every tax dollar is spent wisely and effectively,” wrote Carson, who was confirmed as HUD secretary late last week.

    Column: How Ben Carson can fight poverty without increasing government spending

    The Washington Post reported late Wednesday that early numbers for fiscal year 2018 showed HUD’s overall budget being slashed about 14 percent, to $40.5 billion — including cuts of about $2 billion from public housing funds and the elimination of the Community Development Block Grant Program, which funds local improvement efforts and other programs.

    At his confirmation hearing in January, Carson took a softer approach toward the role of the federal government than he sometimes did on the presidential campaign trail, where he challenged Trump for the GOP nomination.

    When reminded that he had called for across-the-board agency spending cuts of 10 percent during the campaign, Carson told the Senate banking committee that he later modified that amount to 1 percent.

    He also said HUD’s rental assistance programs are “essential” to millions of Americans and said the agency had many good programs. He added, though: “We don’t want it to be way of life. … We want it to be a Band-Aid and a springboard to move forward.”

    New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres said public housing in his city is so financially and physically fragile that it cannot safely absorb the shock of a 14 percent reduction in HUD’s budget.

    READ MORE: This nonprofit helps put families on a path out of poverty

    “The budget cuts will lead to more public health hazards in public housing,” Torres, chair of the council’s committee on public housing, said in an interview Thursday. “It will lead to more leaking and molded conditions in public housing. It will lead to more neglect of the physical infrastructure.”

    In Newton, Massachusetts, Mayor Setti Warren said killing the community development block grants would be devastating to his community.

    “This critical program provides people with higher paying jobs, affordable housing and opportunities for children to reach their full potential,” said Warren.

    The block grant money has been used in Newton for infrastructure improvements to housing for seniors, open space projects in poorer neighborhoods and money for social service programs for children such as Boys & Girls Clubs.

    National Urban League President Marc Morial said cuts like those that are being discussed would undercut the agency’s mission.

    “It’s a cruel and unusual hit to say that we’re going to cut the most vulnerable citizens in America and we’re going to go spend the money on the implements of war,” Morial said.

    The post HUD could face $6 billion in cuts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    HARI SREENIVASAN: The WikiLeaks release earlier this week showed the CIA could use hacking tools to break into cell phones, computers and Internet-connected televisions. We should say there is no evidence the CIA used this against Americans. But the revelations surprised many.

    It raises the concerns for the increasing number of Internet-connected devices all around us, and what they’re monitoring and who has access to it.

    In fact, in a recent murder case, law enforcement is trying to gather recordings from an Amazon Echo in order to see if it might have picked up evidence surrounding the crime.

    Brian Barrett covers these issues for Wired. He joins me now.

    Brian, let’s separate the fact from the fiction a little bit here. What have we learned from these leaks? What are these devices capable of recording?

    BRIAN BARRETT, Wired: Well, you know, it’s interesting.

    What we learned from the leaks is more of a confirmation that the CIA is hacking into a lot of devices. You would sort of expect that, but what it shows is that these devices can be used in ways that we might not have expected.

    So, a smart TV, for instance, has a microphone on it because sometimes remote controls are voice-activated now. But the CIA has found a way to use that to listen to you. Your smartphone, which the CIA knows how to, whether it’s an iPhone or Android phone, compromise, those, too, the microphones can listen to you. They can access the camera. They can look through all of the documents that you have.

    It’s really full access to your digital life.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Unlike the Snowden revelations, this isn’t about mass surveillance, bulk collection of information. This is in the targeted sense.

    But there’s kind of a violation of a sense of privacy here.

    BRIAN BARRETT: Yes, well, I think that’s an important distinction to make.

    There is nothing in these leaks to indicate that the CIA is looking at anyone that they shouldn’t be or that you wouldn’t expect them to be. What it does say is that there are a lot more vulnerabilities out there than we may have thought and that people other than the CIA may have access to them as well.

    The CIA doesn’t necessarily have the only access to, say, an IOS exploit that allows them to get into everybody’s iPhone, especially when you consider that these documents, according to WikiLeaks and other reports, have been out for two months circulating in sort of the underground channels that you would expect.

    So, the real danger here isn’t necessarily from the CIA. It’s that these tools exist and that other people may have access to them and may be using them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And the fact the government didn’t necessarily come clean and tell the tech companies that, hey, there is this hole, there’s this backdoor, there’s this side door that you can go through, does that mean that essentially since the vulnerabilities were discovered until now or until whenever these tech companies are made aware of it, that we have kind of been at greater risk?

    BRIAN BARRETT: Well, you know, I want to be cautious there, because we don’t know for sure if the CIA talked to tech companies or not. The companies themselves, understandably, don’t want to talk a lot about it. The CIA is very quiet about it.

    But I think that’s true, and especially when you consider there is a framework that has been in place for a few years developed by the Obama White House where intelligence agencies agreed in certain circumstances to give up these so-called zero day patches, if they are not as useful as they need.

    So, this indicates that there are hundreds of these vulnerabilities that both the CIA uses, presumably the NSA — presumably, the FBI has their own as well — that are not being disclosed. And that lack of disclosure, yes, does mean that people could be at risk at large.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: This isn’t necessarily the privacy vs. security false dichotomy, but there seems to be some privacy that we exchange for convenience, when we get objects in our home, whether it’s a smart TV or one of these Amazon Echo or Google Home devices that’s perpetually on and just waiting for us to say something.

    I guess we trade in the fact that there is something listening to us if it’s waiting for us to say something.

    BRIAN BARRETT: That’s true. And I think that’s more evident than ever before, especially as we start to connect more and more devices to the Internet.

    There is nothing in the CIA leaks to indicate that they had any access to an Amazon Echo or a Google Home, for instance, but these are devices that have microphones on them and listen to you. The Internet of Things, almost everything has some sort of Internet connection, which isn’t to say that your dishwasher, Internet-connected dishwasher, is going to be spying on you, but maybe it gets enlisted in a botnet.

    I think the most important takeaway is for people at home realizing that every time you let one of these devices into your house, you’re creating a new entry point potentially for hackers. That’s not to be alarmist.

    And I think it is, as you said, a trade-off, one that most people are happy with and one that most people won’t run into a problem with, but it is something to be mindful of.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Brian Barrett of Wired, thanks so much.

    BRIAN BARRETT: Thank you.

    The post When smart devices are always on, vulnerability may be a trade-off of convenience appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    HARI SREENIVASAN: The coming battle for the ISIS capital, Raqqa, in Syria is beginning to take shape; 400 additional American troops, Marines and some Army Rangers will join 500 U.S. special operations troops already on the ground, with an array of Turkish and rebel forces. Russian and Syrian army troops are also there.

    The top American general for Middle East operations, General Joseph Votel, was on Capitol Hill today in the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    Chairman John McCain pushed him on a particular flash point: U.S. support for Syrian Kurdish forces, whom Turkey considers terrorists.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.: I think there’s a possibility of an impending conflict between Turkey and the Kurds, as opposed to us all working together to try to defeat ISIS and remove them from Raqqa. Do you see that as a scenario that we should be concerned about?

    GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL, Commander, U.S. Central Command: I do, Mr. Chairman. And to that end, we are trying to take actions to prevent that from occurring.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: For more, I spoke with Michael Gordon, the chief military correspondent for The New York Times, who said U.S. troops will play a key role in the upcoming battle.

    MICHAEL GORDON, The New York Times: If you look at what we’re doing in Iraq right now, and I have been there, the United States is providing artillery support, along with the French. It’s providing — firing surface-to-surface rockets into Western Mosul. It’s providing air support. And it’s providing advisers.

    And this is what has enabled the Iraqi forces to move forward in what is a very difficult fight. Well, something very similar is needed in Syria in we want the Syrian fighters to go into a town that’s defended by 3,000 to 4,000 ISIS militants.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You were just there a couple weeks ago, and there’s lots of different factions here who at certain times are working toward a shared goal and other times are working toward their own ends. It’s a complicated situation.

    Lay out the map for us a little bit.

    MICHAEL GORDON: The map is a bit chaotic.

    In Northern Syria, the Turkish military has intervened. And along with Turkish-supported opposition forces, Syrian oppositions forces, they have taken the town of Al-Bab. And, at times, the Turks have threatened to move on Manbij.

    You also have hundreds of American troops there serving primarily as advisers. And they have helped train and equip the security forces in the town of Manbij. And more recently, the Syrian government and the Russians have moved into that area.

    So it’s a bit of a tinderbox right now.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Given all, who goes in to take Raqqa?

    MICHAEL GORDON: Well, that’s the billion-dollar question really.

    What the Trump administration has done so far pretty much goes by the Obama administration’s playbook. I mean, their idea was the local provide the fighters, we provide the firepower, and that’s how we grab back territory from ISIS.

    But the big question is, who are going to be the fighters who seize the town? And the most capable forces that the American military has found in the region is this YPG Kurdish militia. They’re the ones that have the most experience fighting. They’re the ones that played the key role in taking back Manbij.

    They’re the force that the American military is counting on to be a component, not the majority of the force, that takes Raqqa, but a key component of the assault force.

    The problem is, Turkey considers them to be terrorists, and they have sort of drawn a red line at arming the YPG. But, unless we arm the YPG, they’re in no position to help out in the Raqqa assault. And that’s pretty much where things stand at this point.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, so best-case scenario, this operation goes as planned and we recapture this particular town or city. Then what?

    MICHAEL GORDON: Well, I mean, there are a couple things.

    First, best case from the American military’s standpoint is, they work with the YPG, they give them anti-tank weapons, vehicles, machine guns, heavy machine guns, the Raqqa fight goes forward. That’s going to be a long, difficult fight, just like Mosul is.

    Then, once the capital of the Islamic State is retaken, a couple things happen. First, there has to be a day-after plan for who governs the city, who provides essential services, who is really going to be in control there. It can’t be the YPG.

    Second, the war with ISIS isn’t over. I mean, they have already begun to move some of their senior leadership to Deir el-Zour. They’re in al-Qaim in Iraq. They still have a shrunken caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq. And so that fight has to go on.

    And, lastly, steps have to be taken to avoid a confrontation between the Kurds and the Turks, who are our NATO ally. When I was in Syria with General Votel, I talked to the head of the Manbij military council, and I asked him, who is your greatest enemy, ISIS or the Turks? He said that Turkey is the main enemy.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Michael Gordon of The New York Times, thanks so much.

    MICHAEL GORDON: All right, thank you.

    The post U.S. forces in Syria to fight ISIS face chaotic map appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    HARI SREENIVASAN: In the day’s other news, President Trump’s revised travel ban faced its first challenge in federal court.

    Hawaii filed suit last night, saying the order will harm its Muslim population, tourism and foreign students. Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin Spoke in Honolulu today.

    DOUG CHIN, Attorney General of Hawaii: Replaced it with a lot of neutral language, but that’s not going to be enough, in our arguments or in our opinions, to be able to erase a lot of the past statements that were made where it was just referred to, in their words, in President Trump’s words, as a Muslim ban.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Washington State led the legal push to block the president’s first travel ban order. Today, the state attorney general, Bob Ferguson, said he will ask a federal judge to apply the same restraining order to the revised version.

    Arrests for illegal crossings at the Mexican border are down 44 percent since President Trump took office. The Homeland Security Department reports that, in February, about 23,500 people were arrested trying to cross the border illegally. That was down from 42,500 arrested at the border in January. Secretary John Kelly says it’s due to the president’s moves to crack down on illegal immigration.

    The U.S. military has reviewed a January raid in Yemen that killed a Navy SEAL and found no failings of judgment or decision-making. That word today from Army General Joseph Votel, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East. He also told a Senate hearing that investigators believe four to 12 civilians died in the raid. At that same Senate hearing, General Votel warned it will take more American troops to win the 15-year war in Afghanistan. He said Afghan units need more training and support.

    Just yesterday, Islamic State attackers killed at least 31 people at a hospital in Kabul. Today, survivors told of facing terror.

    MAN (through interpreter): It was a nightmare situation. We couldn’t believe it was this kind of situation, because those who were attacking us had doctor’s uniforms on. We were shocked when we saw AK-47s in their hands being fired. They killed our patients in their beds and they killed our doctors.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Funerals were held today for some of the victims.

    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee narrowly endorsed David Friedman today as ambassador to Israel. He’s a staunch supporter of Jewish settlements, with a history of inflammatory attacks on liberal Jewish groups and other opponents. The full Senate will now vote on the nomination.

    It’s widely reported that Jon Huntsman has been offered the post of ambassador to Russia. He served as ambassador to China under President Obama.

    Russia has rejected U.S. claims that a new missile violates a landmark nuclear arms treaty. A top U.S. general charged Wednesday that the land-based cruise missile is meant to threaten U.S. and NATO interests in Europe. In response, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said: “Russia has adhered to and will adhere to all its international obligations.”

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says his organization will help tech firms defend against CIA hacking tools. WikiLeaks released a trove of documents this week about the CIA’s ability to breach smartphone and TV encryption. Today, in an online news conference, Assange accused the spy agency of devastating incompetence for letting the tools leak.

    JULIAN ASSANGE, Founder, WikiLeaks: The CIA developed a giant arsenal, what appears to be the largest arsenal of Trojans and viruses in the world, and didn’t secure it, lost control of it, and then appears to have covered up that fact.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Assange spoke from Ecuador’s embassy in London. He sought refuge there in 2012 after being charged with rape in Sweden. Meanwhile, President Trump met this afternoon with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. The White House said Mr. Trump thinks the agency’s systems need updating.

    A blast of gale-force winds left utility crews scrambling today across parts of the Great Lakes region. A million homes and other buildings lost power in Michigan overnight, the most in the state’s history. Gusts of more than 60 miles an hour took down power lines across the state. The damage sparked a fire that killed five people in a Detroit apartment building. The storm also left more than 200,000 customers in the dark in Western New York.

    The state of Utah is ready to put the nation’s toughest drunken driving law on the books. Lawmakers voted last night to lower the legal blood alcohol limit to 0.05 percent. The limit in most states is 0.08 percent.

    And on Wall Street, stocks managed very slight gains today. The Dow Jones industrial average was up two points to close at 20858. The Nasdaq rose a point, and the S&P 500 added nearly two.

    Still to come on the NewsHour: more U.S. troops land in Syria to help take back the city of Raqqa; how the GOP’s health care plan could seriously impact Medicaid; and much more.

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: The first votes are in the books on the Republican replacement bill for Obamacare. The American Health Care Act moved forward today, after marathon markup Sessions.

    Lisa Desjardins has our report.

    LISA DESJARDINS: For, Republicans a day of determination and willpower.

    MAN: On this vote, the ayes are 23, the nos are 16.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Two House committees worked through the night to pass the GOP health care bill in party-line votes. Ways and Means, focused on tax issues, finished just before dawn.

    Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas:

    REP. KEVIN BRADY, R-Texas: An important step in the repeal of Obamacare and freeing millions of Americans, patients and local business from that pain.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which looked at coverage issues, went 27 hours straight.

    MAN: This committee stands adjourned.

    (APPLAUSE)

    LISA DESJARDINS: The long hours brought pizza and coffee deliveries and, especially overnight, a straightforward debate about government’s role in things like the Medicaid program for the poor.

    REP. KATHY CASTOR, D-Fla.: We do not know the precise impact on working families. It is not clear. But make no mistake, this destroys Medicaid as we know it. It is the fundamental reworking of that vital federal-state partnership.

    REP. JOE BARTON, R-Texas: We believe that if we eliminate some of the mandates in the Affordable Care Act, give the states flexibility to run their Medicaid programs, that, by golly, they will figure out how to provide the best health care they can for their populations.

    LISA DESJARDINS: While committees worked on details, party leaders aimed for the big picture. The top Democrat in the House, Nancy Pelosi, decried the lack of analysis yet by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif., House Minority Leader: Republicans are facing racing this bill forward before the CBO can truly expose the consequences, the catastrophic consequences of their health bill.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Speaker Paul Ryan, meanwhile, rolled up his sleeves with a PowerPoint presentation for the press and strong words for unsure Republicans.

    REP. PAUL RYAN, R-Wis., Speaker of the House: This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare. The time is here, the time is now, this is the moment.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The Republican sales pitch has an aggressive goal: to get this bill through Congress in one month, by April 7. That’s when lawmakers leave for Easter recess, hence the pace, with two House committees voting on two halves today and next week the Budget Committee planning to merge those bills into one.

    To stay on track, the full House would vote by March 30. That leaves just a week or two for the Senate, where a number of key Republicans are already raising objections. This morning, Arkansas Senator Tom cotton tweeted: “House health care bill can’t pass Senate without major changes. Pause, start over. Get it right, don’t get it fast.”

    Maine’s Susan Collins told Yahoo News yesterday: “I do not think it would be well-received in the Senate.”

    And in a letter earlier this week, four other Republican senators, Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, said they are concerned about Medicaid.

    Conservatives like Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah have also spoken out against the bill.

    Enter President Trump, who tweeted today: “Despite what you hear in the press, health care is coming along great.”

    The White House is also moving fast to campaign for the bill on the ground. Mr. Trump will hold a rally in Nashville next week, and Vice President Pence heads to Louisville, Kentucky, this weekend.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Lisa Desjardins.

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