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- 03/14/17--10:15: _Top U.S. Marine: ‘E...
- 03/14/17--15:25: _Frozen chicken? Not...
- 03/14/17--15:30: _‘Zoot Suit,’ a clas...
- 03/14/17--15:35: _Jordanian woman cha...
- 03/14/17--15:35: _Are school vouchers...
- 03/14/17--15:40: _Dutch election will...
- 03/14/17--15:45: _Freedom Caucus memb...
- 03/14/17--15:50: _News Wrap: March st...
- 03/14/17--19:26: _White House says Tr...
- 03/15/17--06:07: _Trump set to challe...
- 03/15/17--07:50: _GOP health overhaul...
- 03/15/17--08:06: _WATCH: U.S. charges...
- 03/15/17--08:28: _Amid rise of anti-v...
- 03/15/17--09:19: _Beyond the top-line...
- 03/15/17--10:00: _House Intelligence ...
- 03/15/17--10:58: _Sexual assault repo...
- 03/15/17--15:30: _Why the Fed raised ...
- 03/15/17--15:35: _Erdogan opponents f...
- 03/15/17--15:40: _Why Americans want ...
- 03/15/17--15:45: _Trump stands by wir...
- 03/14/17--10:15: Top U.S. Marine: ‘Enough is enough’ on nude photo sharing
- 03/14/17--15:25: Frozen chicken? Not with these hand-knit sweaters
- 03/14/17--15:35: Jordanian woman charged in U.S. with 2001 Jerusalem bombing
- 03/14/17--15:40: Dutch election will test far-right ardor in Europe
- 03/14/17--15:50: News Wrap: March storm roars in, grounding more than 6,000 flights
- 03/15/17--06:07: Trump set to challenge Obama-era fuel standards in Detroit
- 03/15/17--07:50: GOP health overhaul puts pressure on state governments
- 03/15/17--08:06: WATCH: U.S. charges Russian officials, hackers in mass Yahoo breach
- Premiums: Forget the averages. It’s about age. Under the GOP plan, CBO predicts an average 64-year-old American would see premiums jump 20 to 25 percent in 10 years, while premiums would drop 8 percent for a 40-year-old, and slide even more (by 25 percent) for an average 21-year-old. Why is this? Two reasons:
- The Republican bill allows insurers to charge older Americans up to five times more than younger ones. The so-called “age band” is currently limited to charging older people three times more.
- With the Affordable Care Act’s minimum requirements rescinded under the GOP proposal, all Americans would have access to cheaper, more bare-bones plans than they do now. Those most likely to purchase such minimal, low-cost plans? The young and healthy.
- Fewer people would get insurance through work. Fewer employers would offer insurance. The ACA was designed to especially help those who do not get health care through work. But CBO concluded that once the employer and individual mandates for not carrying insurance are removed, some two million Americans will drop out of work-related coverage. And an unknown number of employers will stop providing the benefit.
- Historic Medicaid Cuts/Savings. Republicans call them savings; Democrats call them “cuts”. Either way, the CBO found that the Republican bill would create historic shifts in government spending. Medicaid would see a reduction in funding of $880 billion over 10 years. Republicans would partially replace that with a $100 billion fund to help states pay for health care. However you view it, this is a bold move to try to curb the deficit. But it could easily put more budget pressure on states.
- Subsidies are also down. Ending the ACA tax subsidies would save some $673 billion, according to CBO. Republicans replace subsidies with tax credits, which the CBO says will cost $361 billion. That is a net loss of $312 billion in government aid to individuals.
- Tax cuts. The GOP bill contains some significant tax and fee cuts. According to CBO, these are the three largest cuts:
- Repealing the 0.9 percent Medicare tax on higher income earners, which would be a $117 billion cut.
- Repealing a fee on health insurers, an estimated $145 billion cut.
- Repealing a 3.8 percent surcharge on higher incomes, equal to about $154 billion.
- 03/15/17--10:58: Sexual assault reports up at Navy, Army academies
- 03/15/17--15:30: Why the Fed raised rates and how it affects consumers
- 03/15/17--15:35: Erdogan opponents fear historic vote threatens liberty, secularism
- 03/15/17--15:40: Why Americans want answers on Trump’s wiretap claims
- 03/15/17--15:45: Trump stands by wiretap claim as lawmakers voice doubt
WASHINGTON — Declaring “enough is enough,” the top U.S. Marine on Tuesday told senators that he intends to fix the problem that led to current and former Corps members sharing nude photos of female Marines online and making lewd or threatening comments about them.
But angry and skeptical members of the Senate Armed Services Committee demanded more, saying the military hasn’t done enough to combat sexual assault and harassment despite years of complaints and problems.
Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, vowed to hold Marines accountable through whatever legal and other means possible. He acknowledged the scandal may hurt female recruiting and that changes have to be made in the Marine Corps culture, where some male Marines don’t accept women in the ranks.
To some senators, his testimony rang hollow. He faced a particularly fierce barrage of questions and criticism from the women members of the panel.
“This committee has heard these kinds of statements before,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat.
“It’s hard to believe something is really going to be done,” she said. “Why should we believe it’s going to be different this time than it has in the past?”
PBS NewsHour’s William Brangham gets reaction about the nude photo scandal from retired Col. Mary Reinwald of Leatherneck Magazine.
Fellow Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said accusations of online exploitation of women by Marines came up in 2013, and victims have come forward.
“When you say to us it’s got to be different, that rings hollow,” Gillibrand said. “If we can’t crack Facebook, how are we supposed to be able to confront Russian aggression and cyber-hacking throughout our military? It is a serious problem when we have members of our military denigrating female Marines who will give their life for this country in the way they have with no response from leadership.”
Neller and the acting Navy secretary, Sean Stackley, said the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is looking into the matter. While some women victims have come forward, they said they need more to do so.
Stackley said an NCIS tip line has gotten more than 50 calls, and officials are finding and investigating more similar websites.
“This is a bell-ringer,” Stackley said. “We’re not going to go backwards.”
He also noted the legal hurdles that make it more difficult to prosecute some online behavior that may be protected by certain privacy laws or as free speech. Questions remain, he and Neller said, about what can be done if someone voluntarily provides a nude photo or posts one online.
Lawmakers suggested possibly beefing up laws or regulations to specifically make what is called “revenge pornography” illegal under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Neller also said that while regulations can prohibit Marines from visiting certain places — such as strip clubs or other such locales — there are no similar restrictions on websites.
The post Top U.S. Marine: ‘Enough is enough’ on nude photo sharing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
In our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.
JUDY WOODRUFF: With the late winter storm bearing down on Massachusetts, one group of plucky individuals in Milton, Massachusetts, got together to help out their neighbors across the road.
From PBS station WGBH, Cristina Quinn has the story.
CRISTINA QUINN: What happens when the chicken across the road is cold? You ask your neighbors to knit him a sweater, which is exactly what Erica Max, program director of the Wakefield Estate, did, when she noticed that Prince Peep, a Malaysian Serama rooster, started shivering when the temperature dropped.
ERICA MAX, Program Director, Wakefield Estate: I discovered that Serama roosters, you know, normally would live very close to the equator, and they are not well suited to this climate in New England.
CRISTINA QUINN: So Max called up Nancy Kearns, who lives at Fuller Village, a retirement community across the street, and asked her if she and her knitting group could help Prince Peep.
NANCY KEARNS, Friend: I said, let’s give it a try. So I went online. There’s a very wonderful site called Pinterest. And I just typed in the words “chicken sweater,” and I found a pattern from England.
CRISTINA QUINN: These ladies do a lot of knitting for charities like Project Linus, a nationwide organization that donates homemade blankets to sick children, so knitting for chickens was a departure for them, and it came with a lot of trial and error.
NANCY KEARNS: Because the pattern really was for big chickens. And Prince Peep, in particular, is a miniature.
CRISTINA QUINN: Weighing in at roughly one pound, he’s certainly diminutive. But what didn’t fit Prince Peep looked tailor-made for the larger hens. And it worked out perfectly, since many of them were molting, making them more vulnerable to the elements.
ERICA MAX: Oh, well, you look marvelous, darling.
CRISTINA QUINN: On this particular day, Erica Max couldn’t find Prince Peep’s sweater. It’s so tiny that it’s easy to misplace. So we found another easygoing chicken to try one on.
ERICA MAX: We have chicken and we have a sweater. We’re going to attempt to put a sweater on a chicken. We are going to attempt.
And this beautiful hen is not used to having sweaters put on her. But this is her first time, so we can give her a little credit for being nervous. But it’s certainly a fetching sweater.
CRISTINA QUINN: It’s lovely.
ERICA MAX: Yes, that’s a very good-looking sweater.
CRISTINA QUINN: That really suits you. Chicken, this really suits you.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Cristina Quinn in Milton, Massachusetts.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You have to love it. I wonder what those chickens did before they had sweaters knitted for them. We will find out.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: A landmark play about the struggles of Mexican-Americans gets an acclaimed revival, one that speaks to the times we live in.
Jeffrey Brown has the story from Los Angeles.
JEFFREY BROWN: It is a deeply American story, a Mexican-American story, “Zoot Suit” the play, set in Los Angeles in the 1940s, amid rampant discrimination, a real-life murder trial and the so-called Zoot Suit Riots.
ACTOR: The grand jury has just indicted you all for the same identical crime, not just you four, the whole entire 38th Street Gang.
JEFFREY BROWN: And “Zoot Suit,” the cultural phenomenon, reaching from its premiere in 1978 at L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum, to Broadway, to a 1981 film, and now, 38 years later, to a revival at the theater where it began.
Its writer and director, then and now, is Luis Valdez.
LUIS VALDEZ, Writer/Director, “Zoot Suit”: I believe in entertainment. I love entertainment, you know? But I love it with a purpose. I want people to come out of here thinking about what they saw, and perhaps reassessing what’s happening in their own lives with their families.
And, more than anything I hope that people leave here with hope and inspiration.
JEFFREY BROWN: Valdez received a National Medal of the Arts from President Obama in 2015 for — quote — “illuminating the human spirit in the face of social injustice.”
He spent his early years in a family of migrant workers.
Is it correct what I read, that you were 6 when you first discovered your love of theater in a camp?
LUIS VALDEZ: In a camp, labor camp, I got hooked, yes. I auditioned, and I won my first role. Unfortunately, the week of the show, we were evicted from the labor camp where we were staying, and I was never in the play. So, that left a big gap, a big hole in my chest, you know?
JEFFREY BROWN: It’s an early lesson in theater and in politics, right?
LUIS VALDEZ: Well, exactly, the desire to do theater, and anger, residual anger, because we had been evicted. So, 20 years later, roughly, I went to Cesar Chavez and pitched him an idea of theater of, by and for farmworkers.
JEFFREY BROWN: That was the beginning of El Teatro Campesino, a bilingual theater group of farmworkers who performed short plays for other migrants, often on flatbed trucks in the middle of California fields.
Valdez continued to write and produce larger works as well, becoming known as the godfather of Chicano theater. In 1977, he was asked to create a new production for the Mark Taper Forum. He chose the story of Pachuco culture, Mexican-American urban street life, and a sensational murder trial from the 1940s in which more than a dozen Chicano gang youth were convicted, followed by riots.
Valdez used actual transcripts and news headlines from the era. The original production helped launch the career of many Chicano actors, including Edward James Olmos. Luis’ brother Daniel Valdez and Rose Portillo were also part of the original cast, playing the young lovers at the heart of the drama.
DANIEL VALDEZ, Actor: It was ahead of its time. Very few Chicanos were really in the acting business. So, for us, you know, so young a cast that was coming together, we were people off the street making our first mark on the industry.
But seeing the reactions of the audience and seeing what the audience responded to, because “Zoot Suit” is much more than a play — it’s an event. In many ways, it was a spiritual experience in that sense.
JEFFREY BROWN: It was also putting people on the stage and a story on the stage that most audiences haven’t seen.
DANIEL VALDEZ: Exactly.
ROSE PORTILLO, Actress: They hadn’t seen characters like this. They’d not seen Hispanic, Latino, Chicano, whatever you want to call us, Mexican-Americans, on the stage.
And it was a moment where several things were going on. One is, you don’t always know what you’re missing until you see it. So, to suddenly see this play and the stage filled with people that looked like us was, oh, my God, I didn’t realize I was missing that, and so that sense of pride and I belong here, too.
JEFFREY BROWN: All these years later, they still belong, this time playing the parents of the young protagonist, Henry Reyna. I asked how it felt to return.
ROSE PORTILLO: When I walked into the audition room, and it was the same room that I had walked into 38 years ago, and this person was also at the other end of the table, and Luis was on the other end of the table.
JEFFREY BROWN: Looking just the same as all those years ago?
ROSE PORTILLO: Exactly the same. We had not changed at all.
And I just took a breath, and I put my bag down, and I went, a moment, please. This is so surreal.
DANIEL VALDEZ: Yes. I would say it’s Groundhog Day.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now a new generation of younger Latino actors has taken the stage, joined by one of Mexico’s leading film and TV stars, Demian Bichir, who fell in love with the “Zoot Suit” story as a teenager.
DEMIAN BICHIR, Actor: I wanted to be in it. It was my idea. And I pursued it.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. You heard about it and you said, I have to do this?
DEMIAN BICHIR: That’s pretty much the way it happened.
JEFFREY BROWN: Bichir plays what would become the most iconic role in “Zoot Suit,” El Pachuco, a kind of trickster spirit figure who hovers around and over the action, connecting the streets of 1940s Los Angeles to a mythological and spiritual past.
DEMIAN BICHIR: He’s the story of us. He is every Mexican from the beginning of times up until now. He’s a devilish presence, he’s an angel, he’s your best adviser, your best friend and your worst enemy.
JEFFREY BROWN: Taking on the role, says Bichir, was irresistible. But, like others we spoke to, he had another reason he wanted to take part in the new “Zoot Suit”: for moments like this one, from a defense lawyer in the 1940s trial.
DEMIAN BICHIR: I have tried to defend what is most precious to our American society, a society that is now at war against the forces of racial intolerance.
A big part of me making that decision was how important this play is for the times that we live in. This is a classic. It’s a masterpiece of American playwriting. It’s about discrimination and it’s about we Mexicans being a target for so many years.
JEFFREY BROWN: “Zoot Suit” plays through March 26.
From the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the PBS NewsHour.
The post ‘Zoot Suit,’ a classic play about discrimination, finds renewed purpose appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — A Jordanian woman has been charged in connection with a 2001 bombing of a Jerusalem pizza restaurant that killed 15 people and injured dozens of others.
The case against Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi was filed under seal in 2013 but announced publicly by the Justice Department on Tuesday.
The FBI has added Al-Tamimi, who served eight years in prison after pleading guilty in an Israeli court, to its list of Most Wanted Terrorists. U.S. officials are also seeking to take her into custody, though it was not clear Tuesday that she would ever be brought to the U.S. to stand trial.
The charge against Al-Tamimi stems from an Aug. 9, 2001, bombing at a Sbarro restaurant that, in addition to killing 15 people, also injured roughly 122 others. Two of those killed were U.S. nationals.
The criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday charged Al-Tamimi, who worked as a journalist at a television station, with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the U.S. against U.S. nationals.
Federal prosecutors accuse her of having agreed in the summer of 2001 to carry out attacks on behalf of the military wing of Hamas and having traveled with the restaurant suicide bomber to Jerusalem. Prosecutors say she instructed the bomber to detonate the explosive device, which was hidden in a guitar, in the area.
Al-Tamimi was freed from prison in 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas. She was returned to Jordan, and though the Justice Department says it’s working to bring her into custody, Jordanian courts have said their constitution does not allow for the extradition of Jordanian nationals.
It wasn’t immediately clear if she had a lawyer.
Mary McCord, the acting head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, called Al-Tamimi an “unrepentant terrorist.”
“The charges unsealed today serve as a reminder that when terrorists target Americans anywhere in the world, we will never forget — and we will continue to seek to ensure that they are held accountable,” McCord said.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: The Trump administration has made it very clear that it wholeheartedly supports school choice.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is a strong advocate of vouchers, which allow parents to use public tax dollars to pay for a private school education. Supporters say vouchers help students succeed, but opponents say they siphon away crucial public school resources.
Indiana has one of the largest voucher programs in the country.
And special correspondent Lisa Stark of our partner Education Week went to see how it’s working for our regular segment Making the Grade.
LISA STARK: It’s the start of the day at Emmaus Lutheran School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where chapel is held once a week.
About 20 miles away, this is how the day begins at Fairfield Elementary, the city’s largest public elementary school.
Fairfield is warm and welcoming. So is Emmaus. Fairfield get top grades from the state for academics. So does Emmaus. But one is a public school, the other a private school that accepts vouchers.
They symbolize opposite sides of the heated voucher debate, only likely to intensify, given the administration’s strong support for school choice.
At the heart of the debate, money, and how education dollars are divvied up. Normally, the state distributes tax dollars to public schools to educate students. In Indiana, that’s about $5,800 a student. Vouchers change that. A portion of the money, the tax dollars, follow the student instead, allowing parents the use those dollars to pay tuition at the private school of their choice.
That’s the voucher program.
Robert Enlow is an advocate.
ROBERT ENLOW, President, EdChoice: We have seen over time our traditional school systems, because they’re based on zip code assignment and where you live, not providing always the best options for families.
Let’s put the money in the backpacks of the parent and let them choose where they want to go by giving parents the best options for their kids.
LISA STARK: Indiana is one of nearly 30 states that offers vouchers or similar programs. All have the same goal: allowing parents to use public funds for private schooling.
Jerry and Miriam Lunz use vouchers to send their children to private Lutheran schools, rather than their local public schools.
JERRY LUNZ, Parent: I would say the schools in our particular area are not the best from the academic standpoint. That played into some of it, but mostly the moral aspect is what we wanted, the Christian aspect, same taught at the school as at the home.
LISA STARK: Without vouchers, private high school was mostly out of reach.
MIRIAM LUNZ, Parent: We looked at the financial aspect, and we had no idea how we were going to cover the cost. Jerry is the hardest-working truck driver I know, but that doesn’t pay a lot.
LISA STARK: More than 300 private schools in Indiana accept vouchers. The vast majority are religious schools.
Keith Martin is the principal at Emmaus Lutheran.
Why does this school participate in the voucher program?
KEITH MARTIN, Principal, Emmaus Lutheran School: Simply because it allows us to serve more students and more families.
LISA STARK: In fact, nearly half of the 193 students at Emmaus rely on vouchers, bringing in about $400,000 for the school, more than a third of its budget.
KEITH MARTIN: It’s obviously very helpful, but you know, our school was here 100 years before the voucher program, and I’m confident that we will have it here 100 years with or without the voucher program.
LISA STARK: At Fairfield Elementary, a drop in students and resources due partly to vouchers has strained budgets, according to principal Lindsay Amstutz-Martin.
LINDSAY AMSTUTZ-MARTIN, Principal, Fairfield Elementary: I do know I have lost teachers every year. I have lost allocations of teachers every year, because we’re losing students, and sometimes that makes — certain grade levels’ class sizes are large.
LISA STARK: In kindergarten, for example, there are 28 students and just one teacher.
Fort Wayne Superintendent Wendy Robinson sees vouchers as an assault on public schools.
WENDY ROBINSON, Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent: You have established a totally separate school system on the back of a structure that was intended for public schools.
LISA STARK: Another concern, Robinson says this is unfair competition, that public schools, unlike private ones, are required to educate everyone who comes in the door, including students with disabilities or limited English skills, who require more resources.
WENDY ROBINSON: If they took every student, if they were responsible for special ed, if they took ELL, if they were not allowed to pick and choose which kids they took, bring it on.
LISA STARK: Indiana’s program started out for low-income students. It was greatly expanded. It now includes students who never attended public schools, and middle-class families were added under then Governor, now Vice President Mike Pence.
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I have also long believed that parents should be able to choose where their kids go to school.
LISA STARK: Enrollment skyrocketed from 9,000 students to more than 34,000, 3 percent of the school population. This year, $146 million in tax dollars is going to private schools.
School choice, including vouchers, is high on the agenda of President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Trump’s first school visit was to a Florida Catholic school that accepts vouchers.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Education is the civil rights issue of our time. And it’s why I have asked Congress to support a school choice bill.
LISA STARK: Nationally, the results on vouchers are mixed, with little or no improvement in test scores for voucher students. Still, some 29 states are considering dozens of bills that would start or expand vouchers and similar programs.
ROBERT ENLOW: We have seen dramatic growth. What we’re going to see more of is more and more parents demanding more and more options.
But public school officials wonder, at what cost?
WENDY ROBINSON: I’m worried that people aren’t alarmed. Public education is the backbone of this country.
LISA STARK: A backbone increasingly under pressure.
I’m Lisa Stark of Education Week in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for the PBS NewsHour.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the Netherlands, voters head to the polls tomorrow, in Europe’s first big and closely watched election of the year. An ardent nationalist, running on an anti-immigrant agenda, is bidding for the prime minister’s office, hoping to lead the way for similar candidates in France and Germany.
The election also comes amid an escalating war of words between the Dutch government and Turkey over a referendum next month that could give President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vast new powers.
Just today, Erdogan accused Dutch troops of complicity in the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica. That’s a charge which a Dutch court had previously cleared.
Our special correspondent, Malcolm Brabant, traveled throughout Holland for us, and he brings us this report.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Convicted of inciting discrimination, he’s labeled Moroccans as scum, one of Europe’s most divisive politicians, Geert Wilders is hoping to emulate Donald Trump’s anti-establishment victory, while maintaining a Dutch veneer.
GEERT WILDERS, Leader, Freedom Party: I’m no Mr. Trump. I am my own man. And so we are having a Dutch campaign here about Dutch issues, and not about America.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The would-be prime minister’s manifesto is only one-page long. It’s a full-frontal attack on Islam.
GEERT WILDERS: It certainly is a threat. It’s an existential threat. I’m not talking about all the Muslims, but the Islamic ideology is an ideology of violence, of hate, of submission, and not of assimilation. And I believe Islam and freedom are incompatible.
So, if we want to stay free countries also for our children and grandchildren in the future, we have to have less Islam in our societies, because the more it dominates and the stronger it becomes, then the less freedom we will have.
MALCOLM BRABANT: This mosque in Rotterdam is the country’s biggest. If Wilders gets his way, every mosque will be closed down, the Koran will be banned, as will Islamic scarves in public places.
At Friday prayers, security guard Rocalita Angelista celebrated his conversion to Islam. According to a recent survey, most Dutch people estimated that 20 percent of the 17 million population were Muslims. The true figure is 6 percent.
ROCALITA ANGELISTA, Netherlands: You cannot change us. We are here, and maybe we were not born here, but some of us, my son, my daughter, is born here, because they are Dutch. I think Wilders will lose.
MALCOLM BRABANT: At the end of Friday prayers, there was a collection to raise money for a new mosque in the city of Utrecht. This expansionism concerns voters in the picturesque southern town of Valkenburg, where Wilders made a rare pre-election appearance.
TOM KEIDENER, Student: A lot of criminals are Muslims. It’s not that all Muslims are bad, but a lot of them have that ideology, and they want to take over the Christians, and they think that Muslims are better and the rules of Sharia have to be the rules of — are more important than rules of the law, the Dutch law.
MIEPIE BRINKHUIS, First Woman (through interpreter): I’m not worried about an attack, but I am most worried about the influence of our way of life. And we have to stop that.
FERRY SCHIPPERS, Netherlands: Wilders is like a hot air balloon. He is just telling the people what they want to hear. We have to keep moving in the right direction. And with Wilders, we are moving in the opposite direction. We are going backwards.
MALCOLM BRABANT: We have met Ferry Schippers before, on the front line of Europe’s immigration crisis. He was leading the Doctors Without Borders team on board the aid ship Aquarius last summer, rescuing African migrants off the Libyan coast and taking them to Italy.
FERRY SCHIPPERS: A good society is a society that take care of the weak. It’s kind of strange, because we used to be such a tolerant country.
MALCOLM BRABANT: We have come to Maastricht to get a reaction to Wilders’ plan to reject all asylum seekers, ban immigrants from Muslim countries, and close down asylum centers.
Nader Elawa is from Damascus. He landed on the Greek island of Lesbos in December 2015 and managed to reach the Netherlands just before the migrant trail to Northern Europe was closed down.
NADER ELAWA, Refugee (through interpreter): The refugees are somehow very peaceful, and I don’t think they will make any problem for here. Me, I told you about myself. If something happen to Netherlands, I protect it with my life, because my Netherlands people, I found them they help me a lot. So why I must do something bad to them?
MALCOLM BRABANT: This is Rotterdam, whose prosperity is partly due to its location as the gateway to Europe. Geert Wilders wants the Netherlands to follow Britain out of the European Union, and there are sympathizers at the port.
Niek Stam claims to be the country’s most militant labor union organizer. He says the working class feel insecure about their prospects because of relentless automation and a constant drive to be competitive. The union is campaigning for robots to be taxed.
MAN: Robots do not buy cars. Neither do they shop for groceries, which leads to a fundamental question: Who’s going to buy all these products when up to 40 percent of present jobs vanish? No, we’re not just going to sit and wait and do nothing.
NIEK STAM, Labor Union Organizer: Twenty percent of my membership will vote for Geert Wilders, but it doesn’t mean that they are racist. I mean, it’s a vote — it’s a protest vote.
People are fed about the government for the last couple of years. During the economic crisis, we pay a lot more taxes. They cut our pension benefits. It’s a protest vote. It’s not a solution vote.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But forming a government here is never smooth sailing; 28 parties are contesting the election. A coalition of four or five is needed to create a government. Wilders’ big problem is that no one wants to get on board with him.
According to the latest opinion polls, Geert Wilders is no longer in the lead, and has dropped back to second place. But after the surprise results in the Brexit referendum and the American presidential election, the sitting Dutch prime minister is not taking victory for granted.
Prime minister Mark Rutte called on the Dutch to set an example to voters in France and Germany, where right-wing nationalists are flourishing ahead of elections later this year.
MARK RUTTE, Prime Minister of the Netherlands: These elections are crucial. Let us stop the domino effect right here, this week, this Wednesday, the domino effect of the wrong sort of populism winning in this world.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Are there any circumstances under which you would enter into a coalition partnership with Geert Wilders?
MARK RUTTE: The answer is, no, we won’t do that. The reasons are that he — at — when the crisis was the deepest in 2012, he ran away from responsibility.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Political scientist Jean Tillie believes that, although Rutte finds Wilders’ views on Islam distasteful, it’s a mistake not to engage with him.
JEAN TILLIE, Political Scientist: We saw it in England in the Brexit. People were ignored, and look what happened. We saw it in America. People were ignored, and look what happened. So, don’t ignore people when they have strong feelings.
You are not obliged to incorporate them in the political system, but you cannot ignore a very large group of people consistently for 30 years.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The election is taking place amid an escalating dispute with Turkey. The Netherlands prevented two Turkish ministers from addressing a rally in Rotterdam, backing President Erdogan’s referendum request for greater powers.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkish President (through interpreter): Some European countries have become hostages in the hands of racist and fascist parties. We have been pointing to the rise of fascism, racism and xenophobia in Europe and warning our interlocutors about this issue.
MARK RUTTE: Turkey is a proud country. But, also, the Netherlands is a proud country. We will never negotiate under threats.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Dutch analysts believe that Mark Rutte’s handling of this crisis could boost his chances. With so much at stake, rarely has there been this level of tension beneath the Netherlands’ tranquil facade.
For the PBS NewsHour I’m Malcolm Brabant in Amsterdam.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Leading Republicans in the House of Representatives aim to pass their Obamacare replacement bill by the end of the month.
But the analysis of the legislation from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office yesterday may have complicated that timeline.
For some of the party’s conservatives, the bill still has too much of the Affordable Care Act left in it. For some of its moderates, the number of people the bill wouldn’t provide coverage for is cause for alarm. Today, the White House and some leading Republicans left the door open to change.
From both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue today, talk of amending the House Republican health care bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke at the Capitol.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky., Majority Leader: It will be open to amendment in Senate, like all reconciliation bills are. We’re anxious to get past the status quo.
JUDY WOODRUFF: At almost the same time, White House spokesman Sean Spicer also sounded a note of compromise.
SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: If you can come with a good idea that will strengthen this bill that will benefit American patients, we will do it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All of this after Monday’s report from the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO says the GOP plan would leave 14 million fewer people insured by next year, and a total of 24 million fewer by 2026. It would also bring savings that would cut federal deficits by $337 billion over that time frame.
The White House sent out Budget Director Mick Mulvaney this morning to challenge the CBO’s estimates of the uninsured.
MICK MULVANEY, White House Budget Director: I don’t believe the facts are correct. I’m saying that because of a track record of the CBO being wrong before, and we believe the CBO is wrong now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: On the other hand, House Speaker Paul Ryan embraced the analysis, saying it exceeded his expectations. But hard-line conservatives in Ryan’s caucus, including Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, blamed Ryan for rushing the bill through the House.
REP. JIM JORDAN, R-Ohio: This bill doesn’t unite Republicans. This bill doesn’t bring down the cost of premiums.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Several Senate Republicans also warned the bill needs reworking, among them, North Carolina’s Thom Tillis:
SEN. THOM TILLIS, R-N.C.: The bill right now, we have questions that we have to have answered. Again, this is not just about this House bill. It’s series of things that we have to accomplish in the coming months to solve the problem of the failure of Obamacare.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office figures bolstered Democrats’ opposition to the bill.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., Minority Leader: It’s vintage Donald Trump. Talks like a populist, but when he acts, it’s hard-right, favoring the special interests, and hurting the middle class and those trying to get there.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Democratic leaders brought out people who said they have benefited from Obamacare.
PAULA CHENEVEY, Obamacare Supporter: The solution is not to take away care. The solution is to find a better way of providing that care. I’m not asking for something for free. I’m just trying to stay alive.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The GOP bill will next head to the House Budget and Rules Committees.
Joining me now, a member of the House Freedom Caucus who has expressed some reservations about the bill, Republican Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida.
Representative Yoho, welcome to the program.
What are your reservations, and could you support the bill as it is right now?
REP. TED YOHO, R-Fla.: Thanks, Judy, for having me.
My reservations are many. I like the direction we’re moving in, but I could not support the bill as it is right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Why not?
REP. TED YOHO: There are several things.
One is the refundable tax credits. What that means is the government has to take money from us, the taxpayers, and give it back. It’s a government program. And what I have seen with the government programs in my short period of time up here, but being a citizen for almost 62 years come April, is a government program. They tend to get bigger and bigger, and they’re more — they’re less efficient.
And any time you give control to the government, it costs more money and they’re less efficient. And I think we have seen this over and over again.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about that.
REP. TED YOHO: One of the other things is a work requirement for able-bodied citizens without dependents, that they’re either looking for work or they’re getting work, they’re getting reeducated or they’re doing community service, I think this is a must.
If not you’re going to have growth of people on the Medicaid system.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, well, I want to ask you what you — about what you mentioned first, the tax — refundable tax credit, because Speaker Ryan, as you may know, is arguing that that’s not an entitlement.
He says letting people keep more of their own money and doing what they want with it is not an entitlement. He said it’s simply letting them have the freedom to purchase a plan that they feel is best without the government forcing them to buy insurance.
REP. TED YOHO: Well, I agree with getting rid of the mandates, because, again, it goes back to, if government can mandate what you have to do, and then they fine you with a fee for not doing it, what else can they do in the future, you know, if the government says you should do this or that?
I’m all in favor of having people keep more of their money. I’m in favor of the tax credits, not the refundable ones that go back to buy insurance or go into people’s health savings account. Again, I’m OK with the tax credits where you can write off the cost of your health insurance if you’re an individual, because that’s incentivizing people to do that, which we want them to be, and that’s to be responsible for their health care.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think this bill could be changed, amended in the direction that your concerns are?
I’m asking because, in the Senate, the concerns seem to be in the other direction. Senator Tom Cotton, Republican from Arkansas, is saying he is worried that the bill doesn’t cover enough people who need care. In other words, the pushes and pull seem to be in the other direction.
REP. TED YOHO: No, I think this bill will get amended. I think you will have a product that comes out of the House and the Senate that’s going to fulfill the needs that we’re trying to accomplish.
And I think we need to all step back for a moment. The Affordable Care Act was full of good intentions, but yet it’s collapsing on its own. And if we did nothing, which the Democrats don’t want us to interfere, if we do nothing, it’s going to collapse, and all these people that are on that are going to lose insurance.
Our goal is to make sure everybody has access to health care, that it’s an affordable health care, but, more importantly, it’s quality health care. With the Affordable Care Act, what’s happened is, all these people have been running to Medicaid, and it’s been proven over and over again Medicaid has the worst outcomes in the industrialized world as far as the quality of health care.
And this is not a way to go just to say we have health insurance, but it’s not good health insurance. We want quality health insurance that the American industries, the American health care providers can provide, I feel, better than anywhere else in the world.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Congressman, there are a number of Republican senators who are concerned about the loss of Medicaid coverage.
REP. TED YOHO: Well, again, I look five to 10 years down the road. If we don’t fix the underlying problems now, there’s going to be a lot of people without basic coverage and needs.
I mean, they’re talking about cutting Social Security 25 percent across the board within 12 years. Nobody wants that. And so, if we don’t get these things right and make the proper reforms now in the mandatory spending, this is going to be a disaster five to 10 years down the road for all Americans. So, let’s get this right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Are you clear on where President Trump comes down on this? Has he tried — has he reached out to you to ask for your support?
REP. TED YOHO: He’s not asked for me personally, but being a member of the Freedom Caucus, we’re going to meet with him this week, and we will meet with him in the future.
These are things that — these are not Republican issues or Democratic issues that one side is trying to show which one can come up with the better plan. This is something that it’s going to affect all Americans. And we need to put what’s best for America right now. And let’s get that together.
And we invite buy-in from the Democrats to come onto our side. And just we want to hear your issues, instead of just having a political debate and have everybody divided over this.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Would the president be able to change your mind on this, do you think?
REP. TED YOHO: I’m opening to listening to anybody. And I look forward to that debate.
And I will stand where I stand on my issues, and if somebody can convince me different, yes, you know, I’m agreeable. I’m willing to compromise, but it has to be in the right direction.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m asking because, at this point, the president has signed off on the thing that you don’t like, and that is those refundable tax credits.
And that is the fact that there is no work requirement in here.
REP. TED YOHO: Well, I have also heard him say that he’s open to a lot of suggestions, and that was one of the meetings we’re going to meet with him with the Freedom Caucus.
And as long as people are open to the dialogue, they’re willing to listen to other sides, that’s where you are going to get your compromise. And this is something we have to do. Every Republican in the House and the Senate ran on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act 100 percent.
I can only think that we’re going to come together to accomplish that goal to get quality health care that’s affordable for all Americans.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, again, the — some of the opposition from Republicans is coming from another direction from yours.
But, Congressman, I do want to ask you about the ads being run in your congressional district by the American Action Network for this bill …
REP. TED YOHO: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: … saying just what you have been saying: It’s time to go ahead and vote for repeal, to do it with this bill. Are those ads going to influence your vote?
REP. TED YOHO: Not at all. It’s a waste of money, as far as I’m concerned.
The people sent me up here again. I’m going into my third term. We have taken a strong stance on this, and people sent me up here to go up here and fix this problem, not to fall down and — or, you know, placate to the other side.
We’re going to fix this and we’re going to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, and we will replace it with commonsense reforms, so that people have access to quality care that’s affordable.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And it’s conservative Republicans who are paying for those ads.
REP. TED YOHO: It’s a — a Republican paid for their ad. I don’t know how conservative they are.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right.
Congressman Ted Yoho, Republican of Florida, thank you very much.
REP. TED YOHO: Thank you. Judy, appreciate it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we should note that the American Action Network is a not-for-profit group allied with the House Republican leadership. It’s running these ads for the health care repeal bill in 30 congressional districts.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: There is less than a week to go before the official start of spring, but you wouldn’t have known it today in the Northeastern United States.
A blizzard grounded more than 6,000 passenger flights, shuttered schools and claimed at least one life.
John Yang has our report.
JOHN YANG: From Western Pennsylvania to New England, snow fell at a furious pace. This time-lapse video shows it piling up in New York state.
MAN: After Daylight Savings Time, I wouldn’t have expected a storm like this. It kind of feels more like January than it does March.
JOHN YANG: Wind gusts of more than 70 an hour sent waves pounding into the shore from Delaware to Massachusetts.
GOV. DANNEL MALLOY, D-Conn.: Good day to make brownies and/or read a book.
JOHN YANG: Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy banned all but emergency travel, so plows could do their work in near white-out conditions.
GOV. DANNEL MALLOY: This is New England. We’re used to handling snow. But when you get predictions of 18 to 30 inches with potentially four-, five- and 6-inch snowfalls in an hour, that’s when you have to act.
JOHN YANG: Boston was on track for up to 18 inches. Schools there were closed, as they were in cities like Philadelphia and New York. That left thousands of kids with a day to play. Even four-legged frolickers got in the act.
For air travelers, it was anything but a holiday. Southwest Airlines, which flies more domestic passengers than any other carrier, canceled all flights at 14 airports from Portland, Maine, to Washington, D.C. Thousands of people were stranded, like this new bride from Britain.
LAURA BALDERSTONE, Traveler: We’re here on honeymoon, and we flew to New York and we got here fine, but now we’re stuck here on our way to Orlando. We can’t get a flight out until tomorrow now. We’re hoping to get a hotel room, but at the moment, there aren’t any.
JOHN YANG: NCAA Tournament-bound basketball teams and fans had to change plans to get to March Madness games later this week. Amtrak suspended or modified rail service along the busy Northeast Corridor. Nearly a quarter-million customers lost power.
New York City was spared the worst, as the arctic blast shifted north and west, bringing less snow and more pelting sleet.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, D-N.Y.: Mother Nature is an unpredictable lady sometimes. She was unpredictable once again today.
JOHN YANG: The nation’s capital got less than expected as well, allowing federal agencies to open on a three-hour delay.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m John Yang.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps faced a grilling today over a scandal involving photos shared online of female Corps members in the nude.
General Robert Neller pledged to fix the problem and culture that led to the scandal. But women senators in particular said they’d heard it all before, including New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, D-N.Y.: When you say to us it’s got to be different, that rings hollow. I don’t know what you mean when you say that. Why does it have to be different? Because you all of a sudden feel that it has to be different? Who has been held accountable?
GEN. ROBERT NELLER, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps: I don’t have a good answer for you. I’m not going to sit here and duck around this thing. I’m not. I’m responsible. I’m the commandant. I own this. That’s a lame answer, but, ma’am, that’s all I — that’s the best I can tell you right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The general acknowledged the scandal may hurt the Marine Corps efforts to recruit women.
The European Union’s highest court ruled today that employers may bar Muslim women from wearing head scarves on the job. The ruling says that a ban is permitted, so long as it is part of a company policy, and not a sign of prejudice. It’s a response to cases brought by two women, one Belgian and one French. Both were fired for refusing to remove their head scarves at work.
The U.N. Human Rights Office is demanding that the Syrian government release tens of thousands of prisoners. In a statement today, the agency’s head said: “The entire country has become a torture-chamber, a place of savage horror and absolute injustice.”
In the past, Syria has denied allegations of systematic torture in its prisons. It had no direct response today.
In Iraq, government troops pushed deeper into Western Mosul, and killed a key Islamic State commander. Military leaders now say it’s only a matter of time before they crush the remaining ISIS fighters in Iraq’s second largest city.
John Irvine of Independent Television News reports from the front lines.
JOHN IRVINE: Rolling back the Islamic State has been tortuous. The fighting here is intense and brutal.
Advances made by the Iraqi army have been slow and the extent of the damage being wrought by this inch-by-inch battle for a city is simply appalling. In 2014, the Iraqi army lost Mosul in six hours. Getting it all back is going to take them at least six months.
The battle for Eastern Mosul lasted 100 days, and it cost the Iraqi army at least 500 dead. They want to limit the casualties this side of the river in Western Mosul. And, to that end, they’re using far more ordnance, artillery, and airstrikes, like the one you have just heard.
I.S. can also strike from the air. That was a grenade dropped close to us by one of their drones. This propaganda video appears to confirm the commitment of their fighters here in Mosul. It also shows they are far from running short on ammunition. No quarter is being given or asked for.
Are they good fighters?
MAJ. GEN. BAHAA AZZAWI, Iraqi Federal Police: Actually, they fight, they fight, they fight, they fight. But we have also good fighters.
JOHN IRVINE: (INAUDIBLE) in Mosul Museum today was rubble. This where I.S. sledgehammered history. And while much of what they bludgeoned was replica stuff, some priceless artifacts were destroyed here.
Now the museum is on the front line of more history being made. And the records will show that the battle of Mosul was one of the most brutal urban fights the world has ever seen. Much of the place is uninhabitable.
And, as the advance continues, more districts are being abandoned. As they fled today, they can only have been wondering, what will be left of Mosul to return to?
JUDY WOODRUFF: More than 200,000 Mosul residents have been displaced since the start of the Iraqi government offensive last October.
Off the coast of Somalia, pirates today seized an oil tanker, the first such hijacking since 2012. The Aris 13, manned by Sri Lankan sailors, was carrying fuel from Djibouti to the Somali capital of Mogadishu. The pirates forced it to sail to a port town near the country’s tip. European Union officials said the men demanded a ransom.
In Mexico, authorities say they have found more than 250 skulls in what appears to be a drug cartel burial ground. A prosecutor confirms that the hidden site was discovered on the outskirts of Veracruz. Only one-third of the site has been excavated, opening the possibility of more victims to be found.
Here in Washington, the new head of Medicaid and Medicare Services was sworn in today, as lawmakers grapple with the federal government’s role in health care. Vice President Pence administered the oath of office to Seema Verma. She had been working as a health care consultant in his home state of Indiana.
Meanwhile, the nominee to be U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, had his Senate confirmation hearing. He argued for an America-first trade policy.
On Wall Street today, another slide in oil prices pulled stocks lower again. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 44 points to close at 20837. The Nasdaq fell almost 19, and the S&P 500 slipped eight.
And Goodyear is saying goodbye to an icon. In pre-dawn darkness, the last of the company’s blimps was decommissioned and deflated in Carson, California. Goodyear began flying blimps more than 90 years ago. The tire company is shifting to semi-rigid dirigibles that are larger and faster in providing aerial television coverage at major sports and entertainment events.
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WASHINGTON — The White House said Tuesday that President Donald Trump made more than $150 million in income in 2005 and paid $38 million in income taxes that year.
The acknowledgement came shortly before MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported on two pages of Trump’s 2005 tax forms on her Tuesday night show.
The records were obtained by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston, who said he received the documented unsolicited, in the mail.
The documents have become highly sought-after because Trump refused to release his returns during the campaign, breaking a decades-long tradition. He claimed he was under audit by the Internal Revenue Service and said his attorneys had advised against it — though experts and IRS officials said such audits don’t bar taxpayers from releasing their returns.
The White House pushed back pre-emptively Tuesday night, saying that publishing those returns would be illegal.
“You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago,” the White House said in a statement.
The unauthorized release or publishing of federal tax returns is a criminal offense, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail. But Maddow argued that MSNBC was exercising its First Amendment right to publish information in the public interest.
Based on the documents obtained by Johnston, Trump paid $36.5 million in taxes on $153 million in income, for an effective tax rate of around 24 percent. That percentage is higher than the roughly 10 percent the average American pays each year — but below the 27.4 percent that taxpayers earning 1 million dollars a year average, according to data from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.
Trump’s tax returns spotlight the role of the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was established nearly five decades ago to prevent the wealthy from using deductions and clever accounting to largely avoid paying taxes.
The AMT is a separate gauge of tax liability that, according to critics, has ensnared more middle-class people than intended, raising what they owe the federal government each year. It requires many taxpayers to calculate their taxes twice — once under the rules for regular income tax and then again under AMT — and then pay the higher amount.
Though opponents of the AMT have focused on the growing number of upper-middle-class earners who pay the tax, Trump’s 2005 disclosure shows it prevented him from avoiding most of the taxes he paid in 2005. If not for the AMT, Trump’s effective tax rate would have been just 3.5 percent.
Trump, according to his campaign website, has said he wanted to eliminate the tax, which is expected to bring in more than $350 billion in revenues from 2016 to 2025.
Trump long insisted the American public wasn’t interested in his returns and said little could be learned from them. But Trump’s full returns would contain key details about things like his charitable giving, his income sources, the type of deductions he claimed, how much he earned from his assets and what strategies Trump used to reduce his tax bill.
The issue was a major point of attack from his election rival Hillary Clinton, who suggested Trump had something to hide.
The White House has not said whether or not the president plans to release his returns while he’s in office. More than 1 million people have signed a White House petition urging the president to release them.
Associated Press writers Jeff Horwitz in Washington and Jonathan Lemire in New York contributed to this report.
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WASHINGTON — Moving forcefully against Obama-era environmental rules, President Donald Trump is set to announce in Michigan plans to re-examine federal requirements that regulate the fuel efficiency of new cars and trucks.
Trump is expected to reveal his plans during an appearance Wednesday at the American Center for Mobility in Detroit where he’ll challenge the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) emissions targets that were a centerpiece of former President Barack Obama’s strategy to combat global warming. The rollback underscores the Trump administration’s rejection of mainstream climate science in an effort to boost economic growth.
The Detroit center was used to produce B-24 bombers during World War II and is now in the process of being converted into an automotive testing and product development center. While visiting there the president is expected to meet with auto executives and workers and discuss “how his plans for rolling back federal red tape will lead to more American jobs and higher wages, specifically in the automobile sector,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.
The EPA under Obama’s stewardship had promulgated a rule for cars and trucks requiring a fleet-wide average of 54.5 mpg by 2025.
The president will travel later Wednesday to Nashville, Tennessee, where he’ll lay a wreath at President Andrew Jackson’s tomb to mark what would have been Jackson’s 250th birthday, before holding a campaign-style rally in the city.
But the most significant move of the day will likely be the president’s announcement on the CAFE emissions targets. The move will have no immediate effect. But it is expected to set the stage for weaker fuel efficiency standards as well as drawn-out legal battles with environmental groups and states like California that have adopted their own tough tailpipe standards for drivers.
The president will target the Obama administration’s January decision to end a review process before he left office.
Back in 2012, the Obama set fuel-economy regulations for model years 2017-2025. The administration agreed to complete a midterm evaluation in 2018. But seven days before Obama left office, the EPA decided to keep the stringent requirements it had set in place for model years 2022 to 2025. The industry balked at the decision, insisting it was rushed through to beat the change in administrations.
Trump will announce that he’s putting that midterm review back on track, so that officials can spend another year studying the issue before setting new standards in 2018.
While the administration has not said explicitly it wants to weaken the standards, a senior White House official said the Obama-era EPA had ignored reams of data cited by the automotive industry. The official spoke on condition of anonymity at a White House briefing in order to outline the action, despite the president’s criticism of the use of un-named sources.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents a dozen major car manufacturers including General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota, last month urged EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to relax the standards, saying they will drive up car costs, price customers out of the market and depress the industry. Obama’s EPA had argued the costs to consumers were mitigated by gas savings and that the rules would decrease greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
Trump campaigned on eliminating “job killing” regulations, and the administration is expected to take additional steps in the coming days to roll back environmental regulations.
Environmentalists expect Trump to ease the gas mileage requirements, which translate to a fleet-wide average of 36 mpg in real-world driving by 2025. “This change makes no sense. Mileage standards save consumers money at the gas pump, make Americans less dependent on oil, reduce carbon pollution and advance innovation,” said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Once in Nashville, Trump will be given a private tour of Jackson’s home, according to Howard Kittell, the President and CEO of the Hermitage mansion. He’ll also lay a wreath at Jackson’s tomb in honor of the seventh president’s birthday and deliver remarks.
Jackson has enjoyed something of a resurgence thanks to Trump. During the campaign, some of Trump’s aides took to comparing him to the former president — a fellow populist outsider who took on a member of the Washington establishment and ran a campaign railing against corrupt elites.
Trump mused during his first days in Washington that “there hasn’t been anything like this since Andrew Jackson” and hung a portrait of Jackson in the Oval Office after moving in.
Historians had been souring on the slave-owning president whose Indian Removal Act of 1830 commissioned the forced removal of Native Americans from their ancestral homelands. More than 4,000 died during their journeys west.
Jackson’s standing had fallen so much that that the U.S. Treasury opted to remove Jackson from the $20 bill.
But Kittell said that attendance at the museum has surged since the election.
“Jackson is probably getting more media attention now,” Kittell said, ‘than when he was president.”
Associated Press writers Tom Krisher and Matthew Daly contributed to this report.
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CHERRY HILL, N.J. — The Republican health care plan means less money for states and gives them a tough choice: Find a pot of cash to make up the difference or let coverage lapse for millions of lower-income Americans.
Governors and state lawmakers analyzing the Republican plan to replace former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act fear a return to the past, when those without health coverage used emergency rooms for their medical needs. That uncompensated care that was written off by hospitals or billed to the state.
The ax would fall especially hard on Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to the poor and lower-income workers.
In Washington, for example, state officials say they would have to come up with $1.5 billion a year starting in 2020 to keep coverage in place for about 600,000 residents who gained coverage through the Medicaid expansion that was a key part of Obama’s health care law.
“It would actually leave our nation worse off than before the ACA was implemented,” Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said in a written statement.
Most states don’t yet have firm cost estimates on the consequences of the proposal by Republicans in the U.S. House. A Congressional Budget Office analysis released Monday said the GOP plan would lead to 24 million Americans losing health care coverage over the next decade but did not provide a state-by-state breakdown.
In addition to Medicaid, states are concerned about the Republican plan to replace federal premium subsidies for people who buy private insurance with tax credits that would be adjusted based on age, with older people paying more. If the cost of health insurance is too great under the GOP plan, people might drop coverage and rely instead on emergency rooms.
Connecticut estimates that 34,000 people who buy policies in the insurance marketplace would drop their coverage under the GOP plan. Overall, it would add about $1 billion in annual costs for the state, equivalent to 5 percent of its budget.
It is the GOP’s proposed changes to Medicaid, which has become the largest source of federal revenue for states, that have drawn the most reaction since the CBO report was released.
Under the Affordable Care Act, 31 states and the District of Columbia expanded their Medicaid programs, providing coverage to about 11 million Americans. That included a number of Republican-led states, including Indiana under Vice President Mike Pence when he was governor there.
Among those benefiting from Indiana’s expansion is Michael Boone, a 55-year-old cook from Gary.
Boone said it was the first time he has had health coverage as an adult, and it allowed him to get treatment for medical problems he didn’t know he had. They included high cholesterol, high blood pressure and a hernia.
His coverage could be a casualty if the Medicaid cuts take effect and Indiana cannot find a way to pay for a larger share.
“I really don’t have a full grasp of the situation yet,” Boone said. “But right now, I’m scared to death.”
The federal government paid the entire cost of the Medicaid expansion for three years under Obama’s law and was to continue paying 90 percent of the cost starting in 2020.
The Republican plan, which is supported by President Donald Trump, calls for getting rid of the higher match in 2020 for new enrollees who are eligible under the expanded standards.
A second Medicaid change would limit the federal aid per enrollee for everyone on Medicaid, with the caps varying by state. Under the caps, states would be locked into the choices they will make now for the structure of their Medicaid programs, reducing their flexibility in the future, said Barbara Lyons, a senior vice president at Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan group that studies health policy.
New Jersey state Sen. Joe Vitale, a Democrat who chairs a legislative health committee, said the costs of the proposed federal cuts to Medicaid could be dramatic for his state.
“It’s not sustainable for New Jersey,” he said. “How would we also make our pension payment and pay for everything else?”
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, is among a group of governors calling for more flexibility on caps in federal Medicaid funding to allow for changes in the number of people being covered or costs for expensive new drugs.
Several other Republican governors are calling on Congress to rethink the House approach.
“This certainly signals that there’s more work to be done,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in an interview Tuesday on CNN. “And there needs to be some adjustments to relieve some of that cost shift to the states and to make sure that we don’t go back to where we were before — which was we just had our emergency room filled with those who didn’t have any coverage.”
Dennis Daugaard, the Republican governor of South Dakota, a state that opted against the Medicaid expansion, doesn’t like that costs would shift to the states but sees a benefit in restraining federal spending.
“I don’t like the aspect of the more risk,” he said, “but I think from a more nation-centric viewpoint, it’s probably necessary.”
Associated Press writers James Nord in Pierre, South Dakota; Brian Slodysko in Indianapolis; Erik Schelzig and Sheila Burke in Nashville, Tennessee; and Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed to this report.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States announced charges Wednesday against two Russian intelligence officers and two hackers, accusing them of a mega data breach at Yahoo that affected at least a half billion user accounts.
The announcement began around 11:30 a.m. Watch it in the player above.
The hack targeted the email accounts of Russian and U.S. officials, Russian journalists, and employees of financial services and other businesses, officials said.
“We will not allow individuals, groups, nation states or a combination of them to compromise the privacy of our citizens, the economic interests of our companies, or the security of our country,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord.
One of the defendants has been taken into custody in Canada, and another is on the list of the FBI’s most wanted cyber criminals.
The charges arise from a compromise of Yahoo user accounts that began at least as early as 2014. Though the Justice Department has previously charged Russian hackers with cybercrime — as well as hackers sponsored by the Chinese and Iranian governments — this is the first criminal case brought against Russian government officials.
The announcement comes as federal authorities investigate Russian interference through hacking in the 2016 presidential election.
Yahoo didn’t disclose the 2014 breach until last September when it began notifying at least 500 million users that their email addresses, birth dates, answers to security questions and other personal information may have been stolen. Three months later, Yahoo revealed it had uncovered a separate hack in 2013 affecting about 1 billion accounts, including some that were also hit in 2014.
In a statement, Chris Madsen, Yahoo’s assistant general counsel and head of global security, thanked law enforcement agencies for their work.
“We’re committed to keeping our users and our platforms secure and will continue to engage with law enforcement to combat cybercrime,” he said.
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Europe’s highest court ruled Tuesday that companies can ban employees from wearing religious garb, including hijabs, in the workplace.
The European Court of Justice said that employers banning the visible display of “any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination.”
The court said such rules do not amount to discrimination if the employer’s motivation is legitimate, such as the desire to “project an image of neutrality towards both its public and private sector customers.”
Sara Silvestri, a senior lecturer of international politics at the City University of London, said the court ruling is relatively narrow. It does not amount to a complete ban of hijabs in the workplace, she said, but does provide “ammunition” for employers who want to create workplaces without an open display of religious symbols.
“What it does is to clarify the scope of the law and provide the relevant lines of reasoning that the national courts will have to follow when they decide on the relevant court cases,” Silvestri wrote in an email to the the NewsHour.
The judicial ruling comes amid a rise of anti-veil legislation in Europe. In January, Austria moved to ban full-face veils, such as the burqa, in public. In February, the German state of Bavaria announced its intention to implement a ban on full-face veils from schools, government workplaces and voting areas. Various other European countries, including France and Belgium, already ban the burqa in public spaces.
“This does seem to fit with the political and emotional climate that is pervading Europe in terms of exclusivist, nationalist and anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim feelings,” said Silvestri, who studies the intersection of Islam politics and the European Union. “ I would be surprised if Dutch and French politicians currently involved in electoral campaigns did not exploit this ruling to further exacerbate people’s feelings and suspicion towards ‘the other’.”
Manfred Weber, a member of the European Parliament for the Christian Social Union in Bavaria welcomed the ruling. “European values must be valid in public life,” he tweeted.
The decision comes in response to the cases of two women who were dismissed from their respective jobs after they refused to stop wearing their headscarves at work.
In 2006, Samira Achbita informed her employer, security services company G4S in Belgium, that she intended to start wearing her hijab during work hours. But she was told that because of a neutrality agreement G4S had with its customers, she would be barred from doing so. G4S further implemented an amendment stating that “employees are prohibited, in the workplace, from wearing any visible signs of their political, philosophical or religious beliefs and/or from engaging in any observance of such beliefs.” She continued to wear the headscarf and was later fired.
In a separate instance, Asma Bougnaoui was dismissed after a client of her French employer, intelligence company Micropole, complained about her hijab. When she was hired, the company warned Bougnaoui that her headscarf might cause problems, but she was allowed to wear it until a complaint by a client. Micropole fired Bougnaoui after she refused to stop wearing the covering.
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We, and much of the Internet, reported the headlines from the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the House Republican health care bill Monday. The nonpartisan CBO forecast that the number of uninsured Americans would soar; premiums for those buying insurance on their own would first go up, then go down by even more; and the GOP measure would save the government $337 billion.
But the 37-page CBO analysis, and the agency’s 30-minute call with reporters immediately after its release, was full of other significant findings.
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The Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Intelligence Committee say they have seen no evidence supporting President Donald Trump’s claim that the Obama administration wiretapped him last year.
GOP Rep. Devin Nunes and Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff say they’re still waiting for evidence from the Justice Department backing up that claim. Schiff says he and Nunes are willing to take steps to compel the department to comply with their request if it refuses by the March 20 deadline they’ve given the Justice Department.
Nunes, the committee chairman, says he doesn’t believe there was “an actual tap of Trump Tower” in New York.
Nunes also says the committee is tussling with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence over whether the committee will be allowed to have the computer technology needed to go through CIA evidence about Russia’s interference in the election.
The leaders say FBI Director James Comey and the head of the National Security Agency will testify at a public hearing on March 20.
The leaders of the committee are also raising concerns about the disclosure of names of American citizens whose communications were caught up in U.S. surveillance of foreign agents.
Nunes and Schiff say they’re sending a letter to Comey, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers. They say they’re asking for the total number of Americans whose names were mentioned.
The lawmakers appear to be referring to former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn and potentially other associates of President Donald Trump. Conversations between Flynn and Russia’s ambassador before inauguration were picked up by U.S. intelligence and later disclosed.
Identities of Americans who show up in U.S. surveillance against foreign entities are supposed to stay concealed.
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WASHINGTON — Reports of sexual assaults increased at two of the three military academies last year and an anonymous survey suggests sexual misconduct rose across the board at the schools, The Associated Press has learned.
The new data underscore the challenge in stemming bad behavior by young people at the military college campuses, despite a slew of programs designed to prevent assaults, help victims and encourage them to come forward. The difficulties in some ways mirror those the larger military is struggling with amid revelations about Marines and other service members sharing nude photos on websites.
Assault reports rose at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, while dropping at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. The Air Force decline was sharp, going to 32 last year from 49 in 2015, contributing to an overall decrease in the overall number of reported assaults at the academies. The total reported cases fell to 86 from 91 in 2015, according to details obtained by The Associated Press.
Pentagon and military officials believe more people are reporting sexual assaults, which they see as a positive trend because it suggests students have more confidence in the system and greater willingness to seek help.
But the anonymous survey results suggest more assaults and crime occurring. They showed more than 12 percent of women and nearly 2 percent of men saying they experienced unwanted sexual contact.
In that survey, the largest increases in sexual misconduct were also at the Navy and Army academies. A vast majority of students said they didn’t file a report on the assault because they didn’t consider it serious enough. Many women said they took steps to avoid the perpetrator, while more than a third of the men said they confronted the person.
Senior defense officials expressed disappointment. They were particularly concerned that more men and women said they experienced unwanted sexual contact. The rate two years ago was about 8 percent of women and 1 percent of men.
“This is almost a new population of folks every four years and that makes it a little bit more difficult for the messages to build up and gather momentum,” said Nate Galbreath, deputy director of the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention office.
Officials struggled to identify a reason. They said some blame may fall on student leaders and how much they are willing to emphasize and enforce sexual assault prevention programs among peers.
“Unless the students have a bit of accountability on their own, unless they take the charge themselves, (senior) leadership can really only take them so far,” said Elizabeth Van Winkle, who is currently the assistant defense secretary for readiness. “If the students aren’t taking the charge themselves, you won’t make as much headway in this population.”
Galbreath said sexual assault prevention instruction may be getting lost amid the many messages about social behavior, including not drinking and driving, or texting and driving.
The Pentagon, he said, is encouraging the academies to increase the amount of time they spend talking about how future leaders must foster a climate of dignity and respect. He said students should know that enforcing good conduct is something they will need to do as officers when they graduate and lead troops in combat.
In recent months, military leaders have met to try and find what Galbreath called the “holy grail of prevention.”
One example, he said, would involving taking more to the students about when and how to intervene when they see a bad situation developing. Such scenarios include when they are in a bar drinking or in a workplace in which a boss is the problem.
“What we want those folks to do at the academies is to find those things that seem to really be hallmark situations and help people be better scouts and identify those precursors earlier and also give them a wider range of things that they might be able to do to intervene,” Galbreath said.
Galbreath and Van Winkle said drinking remains a major concern, factoring in about 60 percent of incidents women cite and nearly half of those men cite. They said the academies have been putting alcohol programs in place, including some that require students to take a class before turning 21.
Sexual harassment reports filed by students dropped at all three academies.
The overall total fell to 10 last year from 28 in 2015. The anonymous survey showed roughly half of the women and slightly more than 10 percent of men saying they were sexually harassed, near the same level as the previous survey. The surveys are conducted every two years.
JUDY WOODRUFF: After years of holding interest rates at near zero level, the Federal Reserve has entered a new phase, where short-term rates may be rising with greater regularity, as they did again today.
Jeffrey Brown looks at how the Fed has changed its outlook for the economy and the path ahead for policy-makers.
JEFFREY BROWN: In the past, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen has expressed concerns about the strength of the recovery. But, today, she told reporters, “We have confidence in the robustness of the economy and its resilience to shocks.”
David Wessel joins me now for some Fed tea reading. He’s with the Brookings Institution and a contributing correspondent to The Wall Street Journal.
David, a largely positive message, right, that sustainable growth continues and can continue. What is the Fed seeing?
DAVID WESSEL, Brookings Institution: Well, the Fed is seeing that unemployment has come down to the level that they consider full employment.
They seem to have a great deal of confidence that the economy has finally got some momentum. Janet Yellen cited the confidence of the business community and consumers that is showing up in surveys. So, I — and she was very, very upbeat, I think.
JEFFREY BROWN: Slightly higher inflation, but at a reasonable level, right? So, they’re not worried about overheating this point.
DAVID WESSEL: They’re finally getting to their goals of getting inflation close to 2 percent, getting unemployment down.
She noted that the labor force participation rate, the fraction of people who are working or looking for work seems to be going up a little bit, even though we have an aging population. So, she seemed to be very happy with the way the economy is going.
JEFFREY BROWN: But clearly signaling that this is the trend, right, that there will be more hikes to come?
DAVID WESSEL: This is the trend, but gradual. There was a lot of talk about gradual.
If you look at the forecast that the members of the Fed’s policy-making committee said, they’re basically seeing a couple of interest rate increases this year. That would still get us to, like, maybe 1.5 percent by the beginning of next year, still very, very low.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, you put together today and this kind of trend, what impact on consumers?
DAVID WESSEL: Well, this will mean that people are going to pay more to borrow. Mortgage rates have already gone up. They’re around 4.2 percent for a 30-year mortgage. They were below 4 percent just a few months ago.
People will see — who borrow on their credit cards will see more. And, eventually, although it always takes a long time, people who have money in the banks, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, will see those rates start to creep up.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, there has been a lot of discussion in recent weeks, especially as the Fed rates — raises the rates, vs. this — with a steady growth in mind — vs. the president, who talks about a real push forward, right?
DAVID WESSEL: Right.
JEFFREY BROWN: And really getting the economy going.
DAVID WESSEL: I think what the Fed fears is that, if Donald Trump gets big tax cuts and big spending increases that take effect right now, when the economy is close to full employment, they will have to raise rates more rapidly.
But Janet Yellen made clear that they’re raising rates now without much anticipation of a big fiscal move. If they get one, I suspect they will raise rates more rapidly. She did, of course, make the point that if Congress and the president could agree on things that get the long-term growth rate up, the rate of productivity growth or bringing more people into the work force, that’s something that the Fed would applaud.
JEFFREY BROWN: We heard her talk — she was asked a little bit about relations with the new administration. It’s always a little delicate dance a bit, right?
DAVID WESSEL: Yes. I think she was prepared for the question. Right?
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, clearly.
DAVID WESSEL: She said wonderful things about the treasury secretary. She said she had met Donald Trump.
I think her attitude is going to be, we have an independent Central Bank for a reason. I’m going to do what I think is right.
And I suspect that people at the Fed realize that, at some point, they’re likely to be the target of an angry Donald Trump tweet when he thinks they’re raising rates too fast.
JEFFREY BROWN: And just very quickly, in the meantime, the stock market just keeps going up, even with the rates going up.
DAVID WESSEL: Right.
JEFFREY BROWN: They don’t seem to matter.
DAVID WESSEL: The stock market was relieved that the Fed didn’t sound tougher today, and the stock market seems to figure that everything they like about Donald Trump will come true, and everything they’re afraid of about Donald Trump will not come true.
JEFFREY BROWN: David Wessel, thank you, as always.
DAVID WESSEL: You’re welcome.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: Citizens of Turkey vote next month in a referendum that could grant President Recep Tayyip Erdogan controversial new powers.
Erdogan’s push led to a showdown this week with Dutch leaders who had denied permission to two of Turkey’s government ministers to rally support among expatriate Turks who live in Holland.
And this comes amid an ongoing purge of tens of thousands of Turkey’s own government employees, as special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Istanbul.
MALCOLM BRABANT: “We won’t shut up, we’re not afraid, we will not obey,” they chant.
Turkey’s new outcasts are daring to protest, despite being labeled as enemies of the state in the great purge following last July’s failed coup attempt. Tens of thousands of teachers, academics, judges, police officers and civil servants have been dismissed from their jobs and stripped of their passports.
Derya Keskin, an assistant university professor, was purged last September after she signed a petition calling for peace in Turkey.
DERYA KESKIN, University Professor: We can make a comparison between the McCarthy era and Turkey right now. But this is, I think, worse. There are similarities, I’m sure, but this is worse. It’s just a pretext to get rid of all lefty people, all Democrats, even liberals. It is expanding to liberals, actually.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The blanket allegation made by the government is that the purged are followers of this man, Fethullah Gulen. A supposedly moderate Muslim preacher, Gulen is a former ally of President Erdogan who runs Islamist schools and has a fervent following.
The government alleges he runs a terrorist organization called FETO. It accuses him of orchestrating the coup attempt and is demanding that the U.S. extradites him from exile in Pennsylvania.
Are you a Gulenist? Are you a terrorist?
DERYA KESKIN: I’m not a Gulenist. I’m not a terrorist. I’m against all kinds of violence. I condemn every kind of violence. That’s why I signed the peace petition.
AHMET KASIM HAN, Political Scientist: During the McCarthy era and during the Stalin era, the historical circumstances were totally different.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Political scientist Ahmet Kasim Han says Turks traditionally favor stability over liberty, and suggests there is some merit in the government’s depiction of Fethullah Gulen as a dark force trying to destabilize Turkey.
AHMET KASIM HAN: In Turkey, there is an issue which is very hard for the Western mind to grasp. Turkey has really gone through a very aberrant coup attempt, which has unfolded a series of events that has even made the most informed Turk surprised to the level of infiltration of the Gulenist movement to the state.
MALCOLM BRABANT: If politics is a source of division in Turkey, then so is religion. Almost all of the roughly 80 million Turks are Muslims. But opinion polls suggest around half the population opposes the growing Islamization of the country under President Erdogan.
Since 2002, when he became the dominant figure in Turkish politics, the state has built an estimated 17,000 mosques. This small, traditional mosque will soon be dwarfed by minarets of a new Islamic landmark slated for Taksim Square in the secular heart of Istanbul.
Hasan Kara is the chief imam of Sultanahmet, Istanbul’s blue mosque.
HASAN KARA, Chief Imam, Sultanahmet (through interpreter): Because Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a Muslim, a man of character and brave who speaks out fearlessly, the public have taken to him as a man of the people and view him as an idol and role model.
MALCOLM BRABANT: What worries tens of millions of Turks is that the vision of Kemal Ataturk, the father of the modern nation, is more seriously under threat than ever before.
Ataturk revolutionized Turkey in the 1920s by realigning it away from the Eastern world towards the West, and enshrining secularism in the Constitution.
Ataturk’s legacy was at the heart of this campaign meeting to fight against the growing trend in Turkish education whereby state schools are transformed into overtly religious institutions, and creationism is promoted over evolution.
Aysel Celikel heads the Society for the Promotion of Contemporary Life.
AYSEL CELIKEL, Society for the Promotion of Contemporary Life (through interpreter): This situation is, of course, worrying us, because the political powers have said they want to raise a religious generation. With all these prayer rooms and small mosques opening up at schools with the kind of education they’re offering, they are really pumping this idea of a religious generation.
MALCOLM BRABANT: This is Fatih, a traditionally conservative district of Istanbul, where the majority of women cover their heads. We have come to meet Ihsan Eliacik, a renowned Muslim theologian and writer.
He worries that the Turkish leader might not be able to control more radical Islamists within the country. He’s concerned about homegrown extremists, as well as Islamic State militants, who, earlier in the Syria conflict, enjoyed fairly free movement in Turkey.
IHSAN ELIACIK, Muslim Theologian (through interpreter): There might be a danger of conflict, because, with the ruling party, Islamic extremists became too powerful. The ruling party unwittingly helped them flourish. And especially because of the Syrian conflict, they grew stronger. They got ahold of weapons and they got organized. They thrived. So it will take time to eliminate them and to neutralize them.
MALCOLM BRABANT: President Erdogan inspires adulation and disdain in fairly equal measure. He argues that changing the constitution will help make government more efficient.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkish President (through interpreter): Turkey has come to a crossroads on changing the system of government. The process has started.
MALCOLM BRABANT: President Erdogan’s popularity and policies are about to be put to the test in a referendum to decide whether Turkey should have a United States-style presidency, but without the checks and balances.
If Erdogan wins, he will have much more power, he will be able to get rid of the prime minister, and the role of Parliament will be much reduced. His opponents fear that victory will mean that an already authoritarian leader will become a fully fledged dictator.
The changes could enable Erdogan to stay in office until 2029. This pro-government rally was addressed by the prime minister, who was effectively campaigning for the president to make him redundant.
BINALI YILDIRIM, Turkish Prime Minister (through interpreter): These reforms are a historic opportunity for our country. With a strong presidency, military authority, military coups and elite groups will be history. Nobody will try to interfere in the business of people and politicians elected by people.
WOMAN (through interpreter): I am here for the unity of our country and for sake of our youth’s future.
MALCOLM BRABANT: “We don’t want to be in chains. We won’t allow anyone to lord over us,” cry the no campaigners.
President Erdogan’s opponents fear that his victory on April the 16th will accelerate Turkey towards becoming a theocracy, or religious state, like Iran. That’s why Turkey’s NATO partners will be watching this historic vote with keen interest.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Malcolm Brabant in Istanbul.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: For more on questions about the Trump campaign’s connections with Russia, the battle over health care, and the president’s newly leaked tax return, we turn to Matt Schlapp. He is chair of the American Conservative Union. And Karine Jean-Pierre, she was a senior adviser to MoveOn.org during the 2016 elections.
And we welcome both of you to the program.
Matt, I’m going to start with you. It’s been more than 10 days, I think, since President Trump tweeted that President Obama had wiretapped him …
MATT SCHLAPP, Former White House Director of Political Affairs: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: … during the campaign. So far, no evidence of this, investigations under way. Where does this stand?
MATT SCHLAPP: Well, first of all, this term wiretap is kind of an old-fashioned term.
What we have been reading about in most of the respected newspapers across the country, back before the election, through the inauguration, and afterwards, was that there were people in the Trump team, on the Trump team who were under investigation for inappropriate ties with Russia, that there were phone calls that had been intercepted.
So, all of this was reported. The question is, was something done inappropriately? And I think that’s what — I think that’s what the president wants to know, and I think a lot of other people want to know as well.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How much urgency is there around this question, Karine?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, Democratic Strategist: I think there should be a lot more urgency than we’re currently seeing.
I think at this point up to the FBI to really step in and let us know, what is really happening? I think one of the issues that we’re seeing here is Donald Trump is not being presidential. He tweets without understanding the consequences of his tweet. There’s no measurement of what he’s saying.
And it’s incredibly dangerous to accuse your predecessor of potentially breaking the law. And I think, at the end of the day, we have to — we have to really look and ask the question, what happens if there is a true, actual national security crisis? Are we going to believe Donald Trump?
JUDY WOODRUFF: How much does it matter, Matt, that we get to the bottom of this?
MATT SCHLAPP: It matters to me a lot, because I actually think that if the Obama administration was investigating the Trump campaign, that is something we have not seen before. That is historic.
And I want to know why. If that did happen, I want to know why it happened. And I think there’s some explaining to do to the American voter.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And if it didn’t happen, then the question goes to, why did President Trump make this allegation?
MATT SCHLAPP: Of course. I think it’s fair to say that people want to hear from the FBI. But this might shock of two of you. There’s a lot of us who have lost a little confidence in Jim Comey over the years. We probably want to hear from more people than just Jim Comey.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And that calls to mind, Karine, there is this wider investigation going on into connections that Matt alluded to a moment ago between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
We don’t know where that stands.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Right, and we need to have a full, thorough investigation on that.
Clearly, there is circumstantial evidence that shows the Trump organization has had some sort of contact with Russia, and we really need to get to the bottom of it. Yes, there should be a special prosecutor, but I also think there should be an independent, bipartisan commission to really get down to the bottom of it, so we know that that commission has jurisdiction, that they could have subpoena power, and also that it’s public, so that we know, the American people know what’s going on.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But right now, you have got all these investigations under way.
MATT SCHLAPP: Step by step.
We haven’t even filled the Senate-confirmed positions at the Department of Justice. Both the House committees with jurisdiction need to do a full investigation, and then we can draw conclusions of what needs to do done after that.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: I think we could do all three. I don’t think we have to do one or the other.
MATT SCHLAPP: Don’t we just want the answers? What does it matter what way you get the answers?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I think why not give it to the public? Why not show the public what’s going on?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me — I want to turn you both to something else that we’re watching very closely, and that is health care repeal and replace, the American Health Care Act.
Matt, we are now seeing more and more Republicans …
MATT SCHLAPP: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: … saying they can’t support the Republican leadership bill which the White House signed on to. Where is this headed?
MATT SCHLAPP: What they decided to do was just roll this out and jam it through.
And in 21st century American politics, that is a very difficult path to take. They would be smarter to bring people in. Nothing, it seems, Judy, gets people more passionate than the idea of their health care and their very life, and they want to make sure we get it right.
And I think jamming through a piece of legislation was the wrong way to start. They’re now bringing people in. The president is bringing people in. I think that’s going to give it a better chance of passage, but it’s not there yet.
JUDY WOODRUFF: If this is truly in trouble, Karine, where do you see this going next?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Well, what they have presented, the Republicans, with Trumpcare, is, it seems to be a plan that’s more of the survival of the fittest.
And like you were saying, alluding to, health care is incredibly personal. And the Republicans had seven years, seven years to come up with something that would work for everyone. And they jammed this thing through, as you mentioned. They introduced it on March 7. They want to have a vote on it on April 7.
And of course Republicans are very upset about it, because this is an assault on seniors. You have costs going up, premiums going up for people who really need it, as they’re getting older.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, if this version doesn’t work, we’re going to look at some changes coming.
MATT SCHLAPP: If Republicans don’t pass a replacement for Obamacare this year, they are going to be in a world of hurt.
Now, maybe I could expand it and say by the midterm election. But there has to be a plan that’s put on place and that passes, so they have to figure out a way to go forward.
I think they started off in the wrong way. But I think much of what’s included in this plan does represent what needs to be done to fix the incredible mess Obamacare left us in.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quick.
Two pages of Donald Trump’s, President Trump’s tax returns from the year 2005. He paid a quarter of his income in taxes. How much have we really learned here?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: I think it brings up more questions than answers.
It’s unfortunate that we have to play this cat-and-mouse game just to get the president’s tax returns. We still don’t know, who does he do business with? Who does he owe money to? We know he’s in debt. Which foreign banks does he owe money to?
And I think all of these things are important to know, because he’s putting forth foreign policy and domestic policy, and we just don’t have those answers yet.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Matt.
MATT SCHLAPP: He has complied with the law. He had to give thorough financial disclosure documents to the FEC. Those are all public documents.
People can go on right now online and get all those documents. I think what we learned on this rather ridiculous television show the other day with this leaked tax return is that this ridiculous concept that he didn’t pay taxes for the last 10 or 20 years was wrong, and, actually, when you look at this year, he paid a higher percentage of his taxes — or his tax rate was higher than President Obama, than Bernie Sanders, than Mitt Romney, than a lot of the people who have been criticizing him.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We are going to have to leave it there, obviously a lot more to talk about.
Matt Schlapp, Karine Jean-Pierre, thank you both.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, Judy.
MATT SCHLAPP: Great to be with you.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Russia’s role in last year’s election, alleged contacts between the Trump team and Moscow, and President Trump’s allegation that he was wiretapped by his predecessor, all these were front and center on Capitol Hill today.
John Yang reports.
REP. DEVIN NUNES, R-Calif.: I don’t think that there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.
JOHN YANG: Leaders of the House Intelligence Committee cast fresh doubt today on President Trump’s claim that then-President Obama illegally wiretapped Trump Tower.
Committee Chairman Devin Nunes:
REP. DEVIN NUNES: President Obama wouldn’t physically go over and wiretap Trump Tower.
So now you have to decide, as I mentioned to last week, are you going to take the tweets literally? And if you are, then clearly the president was wrong.
But if you’re not going to take the tweets literally, and if there’s a concern that the president has about other people, other surveillance activities looking at him or his associates, either appropriately or inappropriately, we want to find that out.
JOHN YANG: The committee gave the Justice Department until last night to produce any evidence to support the president’s claim. Instead, the department got an extension until next Monday, when FBI Director James Comey is to testify before the panel.
Adam Schiff is the committee’s top Democrat.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-Calif.: I do think it’s incumbent that, if we get to March 20 and we have the testimony I think we all expect from the director that there was no substance to the accusation that Barack Obama illegally wiretapped Trump Tower, that the president explain himself.
I think this — you can’t level an accusation of that type without either retracting it or explaining just why it was done.
JOHN YANG: Senator Lindsey Graham wants to know if there’s a warrant for a wiretap.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Congress is going to flex its muscle here. We will issue a subpoena to get the information.
JOHN YANG: FBI Director Comey was on Capitol Hill this afternoon to brief leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Chairman Chuck Grassley and top Democrat Dianne Feinstein want to know about former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials.
Flynn is one of several Trump associates under scrutiny for dealings with Russians during the campaign. One-time Trump adviser Roger Stone said today he thinks a special surveillance warrant uncovered his contacts with a Russian-linked hacker who claimed credit for the cyber-attack on the Democratic National Committee.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m John Yang.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And late today came word that, in an interview to air tonight on FOX News, the president was asked again about his wiretapping accusation, and he said: “Wiretap covers a lot of different things. I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”
Back on Capitol Hill, lawmakers from both parties expressed frustration with FBI Director James Comey, and what they say is an unwillingness to provide them with critical information.
Joining us now, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a member of the Intelligence Committee.
Senator, thank you for being with us.
Are you getting the cooperation you need from the intelligence community?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN, D-W.Va.: Well, Judy, first of all, it’s good to be with you.
And we are going to be able to get that. We have been speaking to them. We have been out to the CIA. We’re looking at all the documents, and they’re providing those to us.
The Intel Committee is able to get in-depth, if you will, with all of our different intelligence agencies. I have great confidence in them, and we have got to get to the bottom. There’s an awful lot that’s going on here.
There’s two different paths. You have one with the Russians involved in our election process. To what extent — we know they made an attempt. They made more of an attempt this time than ever before. We know that the outcome of the election, they were not able to intervene or interfere with that or disrupt that whatsoever, but their desire was there. We must prevent that from ever happening again and also to help our allies.
Then you have the other Russian intervention, if you will. How much of an association is there? Is there any type of with the associates from President Trump during the campaign, his people, himself, his family, whatsoever? And is there any intertwinement?
So, I think the American people want to know. And we need to get through this and get — come to the conclusion, and do the business of this great country. And, right now, that’s our — that’s the hot topic.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, at this point, do you think you’re any closer to knowing whether there was any, as you call it, intertwinement or collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN: I can only say what we have seen to date.
Now, I don’t see any evidence of that whatsoever. But we’re just in the start of this. So it would be premature for me to say anything, a definite yes or no. But we’re going to look at everything. We’re going to turn over every stone that we possibly can. We’re going to make sure we interview and bring people in that have — names have been mentioned that you have mentioned on your NewsHour, and we’re going to make sure that we get the facts.
And intelligence is to provide the facts to us. The facts will usually take you to the truth. And then, when we get the truth, we have got to make the decisions and do what’s best for this country.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Senator, let me just stop you there and ask you about this other strand of the story today.
And that is President Trump saying in that interview that we just mentioned that we’re going to see more, in his words, in the next few weeks come to the forefront about the wiretap that he accused President Obama of being behind.
What do you know at this point about that?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN: Well, the only thing I can discuss and what I know about that is what you all have been reporting on and what has been reported in the news today.
Jeff Sessions said he didn’t advise or didn’t say a thing about a wiretap and knows of no wiretap. And there’s no evidence of showing any wiretap to date. If there’s other evidence to come forth, we will be happy to look at that and evaluate it and investigate it, but, as of right now, that has not come forth.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the end — well, let me just rephrase that.
Is it up to the White House, for the president to provide whatever evidence he has?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN: Well, I would think that, if he has evidence that the intelligence community doesn’t have, and it’s not being brought forth, and he wants to make sure that that’s considered into this whole process, then I would hope that they would.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me turn you, Senator, to the other issue that we’re covering right now on the Hill, and that is, of course, health care reform, the Republican relationship legislation that seems to be running into more opposition from Republican members of the House and the Senate.
Where do you think that stands right now?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN: Well, it’s over in the House, and I guess, if they put the push on, they can push that out and send it over to the Senate.
I don’t see a receptive audience. I don’t know of one Democrat that would vote for the process they’re sending over for the piece of legislation. I’m not voting to repeal, Judy. I have been very clear. I told President Trump this many weeks ago. There’s no way I can vote to repeal and throw people off, when I know the political toxic atmosphere that we have in Washington, thinking that we can come back and repair it.
They can get rid of it with 51 votes. They don’t need a Democrat. But they can’t fix it unless they have eight of me, eight Democrats who are willing to sit down and work and fix some of the market conditions that we have that make it so really costly and very hard, very much a hardship on a lot of people that didn’t get the expansion or the subsidies or any of that.
So, I understand where the problems are. But no one seems to want to fix it. So, I said this. I said, why don’t we vote and sit down, have a working group voting on the market repairs that we could do, and see if you can get 60 votes, before you throw the baby out with the bath water?
JUDY WOODRUFF: And have they responded affirmatively to any — to your suggestion or anything like it?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN: I have only had one — one of my colleagues — Republican Senator Bill Cassidy come over. And we have sat down twice to see if there was a pathway forward. He had a piece of legislation.
We looked at it. We told him our concerns with it, but we had a dialogue going. And then, basically, the House has gone off on their own, and the things that we, Bill and I, were talking about didn’t materialize. So, nobody seems to want to do anything.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m sorry to interrupt you.
But just quickly, so, at this point, where do you see this legislation headed?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN: I don’t see it moving on this side. I really don’t, on the Senate side right now, unless there are some tremendous changes made.
Judy, let me just tell you, the state of West Virginia, 172,000 people got the expansion. That means the people that were not on Medicaid, but within the 139 percentile — 172,000. Another 36,000, 38,000 got some, basically, subsidies.
That means, because of their income, they were subsidized about $388. And then we had the donut hole filled for our seniors. We have a poorer population. All of a sudden now, all of a sudden, they’re going to give the wealthiest of the wealthiest in the country $575 billion tax credits, $575 billion.
And that’s going to be on the backs of the poor, the elderly, and those who have been addicted and are getting in treatment centers or being able to get treated for addiction, which is a horrible problem in my state.
So, I get hit three ways. The poor get hit harder, the elderly pay more, and the people that are addicted are not going to get treatment that’s needed.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, we thank you.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN: Thank you, Judy.
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