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

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    White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer will likely address Republicans’ failed attempt to overhaul health care in his Monday news briefing.

    Spicer is expected to begin speaking around 1:30 p.m. Watch live in the player above.

    President Donald Trump on Sunday attacked conservative lawmakers for the failure of the Republican bill to replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law, as aides signaled a greater willingness to work with moderate Democrats on upcoming legislative battles from the budget and tax cuts to health care.

    READ MORE: GOP struggles to govern despite a monopoly in Washington

    On Twitter, Trump complained: “Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!”

    Trump initially focused his blame on Democrats for the failure and predicted a dire future for the current law.

    Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer says Democrats are willing to work with Republicans on improving the health care system if they agree to stop trying to repeal former President Barack Obama’s law.

    Schumer says Democrats and Republicans both have ideas on how to improve “Obamacare.”

    Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” the New York senator says: “We never said it was perfect. We always said we’d work with them to improve it. We just said repeal was off the table.”

    The post WATCH: Spicer addresses failed Republican health care bill in news briefing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) joins White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (L) for the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 27, 2017.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX32Y9K

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) joins White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (L) for the daily press briefing at the White House in D.C. in March. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday warned so-called sanctuary cities they could lose federal money for refusing to cooperate with immigration authorities and suggested the government would come after grant money that has already been awarded if they don’t comply.

    Sessions said the Justice Department would require cities seeking some of $4.1 billion available in grant money to verify that they are in compliance with a section of federal law that allows information sharing with immigration officials.

    His statements in the White House briefing room brought to mind tough talk from President Donald Trump’s campaign and came just three days after the administration’s crushing health care defeat. Sessions also acknowledged he was clarifying a similar policy adopted by the Obama administration last year.

    “I urge the nation’s states and cities to carefully consider the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws,” Sessions said.

    Trump had said during the campaign that he would “defund” sanctuary cities by taking away their federal funding. But legal precedent suggests that would be difficult.

    Sessions’ message came days after the administration released a report on local jails that listed more than 200 cases of immigrants released from custody before federal agents could intervene. That list was compiled following an executive order Trump signed in January that called on the government to document which local jurisdictions aren’t cooperating with federal efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally.

    Meanwhile, municipal leaders gathered in New York vowed to defy Trump’s crackdown as they gathered for a small conference that attracted officials from cities including San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York.

    “We are going to become this administration’s worst nightmare,” said New York City council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

    Mark-Viverito and others promised to block federal immigration agents from accessing certain private areas on city property, to restrict their access to schools and school records and to offer legal services to immigrants in the country illegally. City officials were also encouraged to embrace their rarely used oversight and subpoena powers to investigate federal immigration practices.

    Associated Press writer Steve Peoples in New York contributed to this report.

    — BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Photos: Inside an Arizona immigration court

    The post Sanctuary cities must end, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in D.C. in March. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in D.C. in March. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — To blow up the rules or not?

    Senate Republicans and Democrats appear to be on collision course over President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court and whether to changes Senate rules to get him confirmed.

    Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has announced that he will vote no on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch and lead a filibuster of the selection. More than a dozen Democrats also have announced their opposition and will try to thwart GOP efforts to press ahead on the choice. Such a step would require 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate, but Republicans only hold a 52-48 majority.

    The pressure is on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to change the parliamentary rules for Supreme Court nominees, lowering the threshold to a simple majority. Or, as Trump once put it, “go nuclear.”

    WHAT IS THE NUCLEAR OPTION?

    Under that option, nominations could be approved with a simple majority in the 100-member Senate. Now, it takes 60 votes to clear parliamentary hurdles and set up an up-or-down vote on the nominee.

    IT’S HAPPENED BEFORE

    This procedural maneuver has recent precedent. In 2013, Democrats were in the majority under the leadership of Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada and upset about the blockage of President Barack Obama’s nominees to a powerful appellate court. The Democrats pushed through a rules change lowering the vote threshold on all nominees except for the Supreme Court from 60 to a simple majority.

    The Supreme Court was exempted at the time as part of a deal bringing along Democrats reluctant to change the rules.

    At the time, McConnell warned Democrats the strategy would backfire: “I say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, you will regret this, and you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.”

    Before 1975, it was even tougher for presidents to get their nominations through because two-thirds of the senators present and voting had to agree to move forward.

    WHY IT WOULD BE EXPLOSIVE

    Such a rules change on Supreme Court nominees would be a momentous change for the Senate, which traditionally operates via bipartisanship and consent from all senators. Some believe it could begin to unravel Senate traditions at a hyper-partisan moment in politics and perhaps end up in the complete elimination of the filibuster even for legislation, which would mean an entirely different Senate from the one that’s existed for decades.

    Senate experts note that the filibuster is not enshrined in the Constitution and filibustering nominees is a relatively recent phenomenon. Cloture — the procedural motion to end a filibuster — was attempted for the first time on a nominee in 1968 after President Lyndon Johnson tapped Abe Fortas as chief justice of the U.S., according to the Congressional Research Service.

    The cloture attempt failed and the nomination was withdrawn.

    McConnell is an institutionalist who has made clear he does not favor invoking the nuclear option, but he has not ruled it out for Gorsuch.

    WATCH: How does Neil Gorsuch wield originalism in his decisions?

    The post Explainer: What is the ‘nuclear option’? And how will it affect Neil Gorsuch’s nomination? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 25:  Bernie Sanders supporters prepare to march through downtown on the first day of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) on July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The convention is expected to attract thousands of protesters, members of the media and Democratic delegates to the City of Brotherly Love.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    Bernie Sanders supporters prepare for a march at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last year. Socialist groups are experiencing a surge in popularity, underscoring divisions within the Democratic Party. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

    Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency thrust far-right groups into the spotlight. But on the other end of the political spectrum, socialist organizations across the country are quietly experiencing a surge in popularity of their own, driven in part by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ outsider campaign last year and a determination to thwart President Trump’s policy agenda.

    The Party of Socialism and Liberation’s meetings have tripled in size at the group’s New York headquarters in the months since Trump won the election. And the Democratic Socialists of America’s membership has more than doubled to 19,000 activists since Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist, launched his presidential campaign in 2015.

    The last time the Democratic Socialists of America saw such growth was in the early 1980s, said Joseph Schwartz, a member of the group’s national committee. “People feel like they have to fight back,” said, Schwartz, who teaches political science at Temple University.

    But with interest in socialism on the rise, insiders are struggling to figure out how socialist groups will fit into the Democratic Party, and what role they’ll play in the left’s opposition to Trump’s presidency.

    Socialism has long been at the fringe of center-left politics in the United States. But activists like California Tech graduate student Charles Xu said Sanders’ presidential campaign was a new wake up call.

    “Bernie’s self-identification as a socialist normalized it,” Xu said in a phone interview.

    Xu said he first encountered socialist politics on trips to Europe in the past few years.
    After the 2016 election, Xu and a friend founded the Cal Tech chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists, the student arm of the national Democratic Socialist of America organization.

    “We’re on the cusp of a moment that can be really exciting,” he said.

    What the moment represents, though, is not yet entirely clear.

    What the moment represents, though, is not yet entirely clear — especially given the left’s recent electoral setbacks at the federal, state and local level. In 2016, Democrats were crushed in state races. Now, only five states have Democratic-controlled state legislatures and Democratic governors; 25 states have complete Republican control. Democrats lost a presidential election that many thought was in the bag, and Republicans maintained control of Congress.

    The losses sparked a period of soul-searching in Democratic Party establishment circles. But it also energized grassroots activists around issues like immigration, women’s and civil rights and criminal justice.

    Registered socialists and others friendly to the cause “are not just paying dues [to organizations] like the ACLU,” Schwartz said. “They want to make progressive gains.”

    It’s no coincidence that the movement’s policy goals seem similar to Sanders’ talking points during his White House run. The Democratic Socialists of America endorsed Sanders, and many of its members worked on his campaign. More than 6,500 people joined the organization after Sanders jumped into the race, Schwartz said.

    “There is [a] desire to deepen what Sanders started,” he said, adding: “There is a push to move Democrats away from neoliberal policies and corporate donors.”

    Socialist_Party_Eugene_Debs_1904_campaign_poster

    A 1904 campaign poster for Eugene Debs, a socialist leader who ran for president five times in the early 20th century. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    This isn’t the first time Americans have looked to socialism to solve society’s woes. In the early 20th century, many Americans began to view “socialism as a solution to broader problems,” like wealth inequality, urban poverty and child labor, said James Barrett, a history professor at the University of Illinois.

    The Socialist Party of America, which was formed in 1901, “had deep influence in some unions, especially [ones] with immigration members like the garment manufacturing unions,” Barrett said. “On the state level there was a lot of electoral success in a lot of smaller industrial towns, too.”

    Milwaukee liberals, for example, embraced “sewer socialism” as a means to reform the city’s political corruption and improve its unsanitary conditions. In 1910, voters from Milwaukee elected Victor Berger to the U.S. House of Representatives, making him the first socialist to serve in Congress.

    Eugene Debs, who formed the Socialist Party with Berger and other activists, represented the movement on a national level, becoming a household name thanks to his five presidential bids between 1900 and 1920. For his 1920 campaign, Debs received nearly a million votes in the general election, despite being in jail for violating the Espionage Act.

    At the time, the Socialist Party was a diverse voting bloc that included immigrants, Southern farmers, Christian socialists, urban intellectuals, and writers and activists like Upton Sinclair and Helen Keller, Barrett said. But the Socialist Party’s popularity was short-lived. Membership declined because of the party’s opposition to World War One, and support for the Russian revolution, Barrett said.

    “The Russian revolution affected how Americans viewed socialism,” by creating a negative association between the U.S. Socialist Party and Russian-style socialism that never entirely went away, Barrett said.

    A century later, today’s socialist movement has changed with the times in some ways. Activists add rose emojis to their Twitter profiles, instead of wearing the black armbands that were popular when Debs was a perennial White House contender. But 21st century socialist groups in the U.S. have continued struggling to make inroads into the mainstream Democratic Party. Sanders did better than many people expected in 2016, but still wound up losing the party’s primaries to Hillary Clinton after failing to win over its establishment wing.

    Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Stockton, California, United States,on May 10. Photo by Max Whittaker/Reuters

    Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist, speaks at a campaign rally in Stockton, California on May 10, 2016. His presidential campaign helped spark new interest in socialism in the U.S. Photo by Max Whittaker/Reuters

    The intraparty fight continued after the election, when Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn), a Sanders supporter, ran for chairman of the Democratic National Committee against Tom Perez, a former Labor Department secretary and Clinton backer. Perez won in a close vote, but named Ellison as DNC vice-chairman, giving the progressive wing of the party a top leadership slot.

    And polls show Sanders’ popularity hasn’t diminished months after the election ended. A recent Fox News poll found that Sanders was the country’s most popular politician. Sixty-one percent of Americans viewed the Vermont senator favorably, the poll found, far outpacing other Democrats and Republicans like Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

    There are other signs, too, that interest in socialism and Sanders’ liberal policy agenda could have some staying power. Jacobin Magazine, the country’s largest socialist publication, had about 17,000 subscribers in the run-up to last year’s Nov. 8 election, according to Bhaskar Sunkara, the magazine’s editor. It now has 30,000 subscribers, a nearly 100 percent increase in just four months.

    Sunkara said the publication’s goal was to “legitimize socialist ideas” and bring them into the political mainstream. He compared it to libertarian think tanks that have helped drive conservative policy on the right in recent decades.

    “With our growth, we’re planning to expand,” he said. “Basically do things in a more polished, professional way.”

    Schwartz said groups like the Democratic Socialists of America hope to “create a climate where more left-wing candidates are viable” at the state and local level.

    But the movement still faces plenty of opposition from the right.

    “I understand why [people] fall susceptible to socialism,” said Charlie Kirk, the executive director and founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative organization that promotes limited government and free market principles on college and high school campuses.

    “It sounds really good when a professor or teacher or peer talks about Denmark or Norway or Sweden,” said Kirk, whose group runs “socialism sucks” campaigns on campuses across the country. But “the free enterprise system is the most prosperous system we’ve discovered,” he said.

    Schwartz, of the Democratic Socialists of America, argued that socialism was poised to become an important part of the American left. “We’re part of a broader left,” Schwartz said. “We want to be a socialist presence in a national movement for democracy.”

    The post Is socialism in the United States having a moment? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Customs and Border Patrol agents stop traffic heading into Mexico to check vehicles leaving the country in San Ysidro, California. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    Customs and Border Patrol agents stop traffic heading into Mexico to check vehicles leaving the country in San Ysidro, California. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — A group of First Amendment attorneys sued the Trump administration on Monday over access to data showing how often U.S. citizens and visitors had their electronic devices searched and the contents catalogued at American border crossings.

    The complaint by Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute said the Department of Homeland Security hasn’t moved quickly on its request, which sought information about the number of people whose devices were searched at the border, complaints about the practice and government training materials.

    The lawsuit marks an early challenge under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act for President Donald Trump, who has pushed for an aggressive border-security policy and tried twice to enact temporary travel restrictions from several majority-Muslim countries. Federal courts have so far stymied those efforts.

    The Knight Institute had asked for a detailed number of travelers whose electronic devices, such as cell phones and computers, were searched and how often their data were shared. It also sought a breakdown of those device seizures by race, ethnicity, nationality and citizenship status, as well as details from a government database that tracks device searches.

    The group said its March 15 records request concerned “the indiscriminate search of Americans’ electronic devices at the border” that raised key legal questions about free speech and privacy protections. It sued in federal court in Washington after arguing the government didn’t respond to a request to fast-track its FOIA inquiry, a practice allowed in some cases.

    A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Sarah Rodriguez, said the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Representatives from the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately return messages seeking comment Monday.

    Border agents have wide latitude in searching a traveler’s electronic items at U.S. ports of entry, even if they are American citizens. Homeland Security officials have been known to ask that travelers unlock their phones or laptops; some agents have made digital copies of the devices’ contents.

    Privacy advocates have criticized those warrantless seizures, saying laptops and phones often contain troves of personal or sensitive information. The lawsuit cited a 2015 report in which border officers detained and interrogated a French-American photojournalist while searching his cell phone, including his text messages with a Syrian refugee source.

    “People today store their most intimate information on their electronic devices, reflecting their thoughts, explorations, activities and associations,” the lawyers wrote. “Subjecting that information to unfettered government scrutiny invades the core of individual privacy and threatens free inquiry and expression.”

    A criminal case before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond may determine the legality of certain electronic searches at the border.

    Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, a leading Democrat in Congress on digital-privacy issues, sent a letter last month to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly asking how often border agents demanded access to locked electronic devices, as well as under what circumstances U.S. travelers had to disclose social media and email passwords. His office said it has yet to receive a response.

    The Knight lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where judges have grappled with governmental delays in handing over records under FOIA. One case included a 2015 legal challenge by The Associated Press, under the Obama administration, over emails and other documents relating to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    Under FOIA, citizens and foreigners can compel executive branch agencies to turn over copies of federal records for little or no cost. Anyone who seeks information through the law is generally supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in certain areas.

    During President Barack Obama’s final year, the U.S. government set records for outright denial of access to files, refusing to quickly consider requests described as especially newsworthy, and forcing people to pay for records who had asked the government to waive search and copy fees.

    READ MORE: Sanctuary cities must end, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says

    The post Data on border searches of personal electronics sought in lawsuit against Trump administration appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Protesters march in the streets outside the Texas State Capitol. Austin's status as a sanctuary city has put it at odds with state and federal efforts to clamp down on undocumented immigrants. Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images.

    Protesters march in the streets outside the Texas State Capitol. Austin’s status as a sanctuary city has put it at odds with state and federal efforts to clamp down on undocumented immigrants. Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images.

    NEW YORK — Ignoring fresh threats from the White House, city leaders across the U.S. are vowing to intensify their fight against President Donald Trump’s promised crackdown on so-called “sanctuary cities” despite the financial risks.

    “We are going to become this administration’s worst nightmare,” New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said Monday during a gathering of municipal officials from urban centers such as San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Chicago and Philadelphia.

    As is the case in several sanctuary cities, they promised to continue blocking cooperation between city police departments and federal immigration authorities. They also vowed to prevent federal agents from accessing their schools and school records, and they openly contemplated employing cities’ rarely-used oversight and subpoena powers to investigate federal immigration practices.

    The defiance that filled the New York City conference clashed with pointed warnings from the White House’s West Wing, where Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a dire warning to urban leaders who embrace policies that help protect immigrants in the country illegally from deportation.

    READ MORE: Sanctuary cities must end, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says

    Such policies, Sessions said, “endanger the lives of every American” and violate federal law. He said the Trump White House could withhold or “claw back” funding from any city that “willfully violates” immigration law.

    Sessions said the Justice Department would require cities seeking some of the $4.1 billion available in grant money to verify they are in compliance with a section of federal law that allows information sharing with immigration officials.

    “I strongly urge our nation’s states and cities and counties to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws, and to rethink these policies,” he charged.

    The debate highlighted the nation’s increasingly polarized view of immigration.

    READ MORE: The teens caught in the middle of Austin’s Sanctuary City debate

    Trump won the presidency by appealing to white working-class voters in a campaign that regularly highlighted violent crimes committed by immigrants in the country illegally. Sessions drew from the same playbook at the White House podium on Monday, citing two recent murders committed by immigrants released by local authorities even though they were wanted by federal agents.

    City leaders insisted such examples are the exception, not the rule. Philadelphia City Council member Helen Gym said immigrants in the country illegally are part of the “fabric of America.”

    “It’s not like immigrants are dangerous. They’re actually the ones in the most danger,” Gym said, citing labor and housing practices that discriminate against immigrants.

    Indeed, city officials on Monday shared stories of immigrants in their communities seized by federal immigration agents at their children’s schools and at courthouses as they appeared as victims of other crimes. Gym said some landlords have used Trump’s hardline immigration rhetoric to expel immigrant tenants.

    There are an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally. There is no evidence that crime rates among immigrants are higher than native-born Americans.

    MORE: What do Trump’s new orders on immigration really do?

    Trump has made illegal immigration a priority.

    He issued an executive order in January that directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to publish a weekly list of “criminal actions committed by aliens.” The administration last week reported more than 200 cases of immigrants recently released from local jails before federal agents could intervene.

    Lourdes Rosado, who leads the New York attorney general’s civil rights bureau, insists that municipalities have legal standing to resist what she described as immigration overreach by the new White House.

    “Sessions makes it sound as if we’re breaking the law. But the point is, it’s voluntary whether or not to cooperate,” Rosado said, acknowledging that states and cities may have to resolve the issue in court. “Will they come after you? Maybe.”

    The post Sanctuary cities vow to intensify fight despite White House funding threats appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Campaign signs, supporting Donald Trump and Mike Pence, are displayed on November 8, 2016 in Salem, Ohio. Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images

    Campaign signs, supporting Donald Trump and Mike Pence, are displayed on November 8, 2016 in Salem, Ohio. Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images

    They blame the establishment. They blame the Democrats. They blame the media.

    But it seems that few voters in Trump country blame President Trump for the stunning collapse of the Republican-led effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

    “He did all he could, I think,” said Edward Reede, 73, who was pacing the sidewalk as he waited for a relative in the rural town of Front Royal in northwest Virginia. “You can only do so much as president. You can only twist so many arms.”

    STAT staffers fanned out across the country on Saturday, talking to voters in conservative pockets of Virginia, Colorado, Ohio, Nebraska, Georgia, and Tennessee. Again and again, they voiced their continuing support for the president — and their faith that he would fix the health care system eventually, even though this first effort went up in flames.

    “We just need to give President Trump time,” said Joleen Dudley, a real estate agent in Canton, Ga. “He isn’t one to give up, or he wouldn’t be a billionaire.”

    READ MORE: GOP leaders pull health care bill, with no clear path forward on reform

    House Speaker Paul Ryan made it clear on Friday that he and his colleagues have no plans to return to health care, at least not anytime soon. “Obamacare is the law of the land,” he said. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

    But in the small towns and tidy suburbs that went decisively for Trump, voters said they just didn’t believe their president would let that happen.

    “I’m confident they’ll get something done,” said Mike Tomes, 56, who grows corn and soybeans in Utica, Neb.

    “I’m a man of faith, and I believe that things are going to change,” said Brian Bailey, 42, a landscape foreman in Murfreesboro, Tenn., a college town smack in the middle of the state. He blamed the Republican leadership in Congress for pushing too quickly to pass a bill that still needed some work.

    “I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but I believe the right main course is set forth,” Bailey said. “It’s getting the details worked out.”

    Yet a day of talking to Trump voters across the country underscored just how tough it will be to ever work out details that appeal to all the fractious elements of his coalition.

    In Seward, Neb., drugstore owner Michael J. Mueri is angry that he has to pay so much for insurance — $24,000 a year, he said. He’s angry about high deductibles, too; his customers constantly complain about them. Yet he wasn’t at all fond of conservatives’ bid to try to drive down premiums by revoking the Obamacare mandate that all plans cover a bundle of “essential benefits,” such as mental health care and maternity care.

    If pregnancy checkups, childbirth, and newborn care aren’t covered, Meuri said, “I’m not sure my kids can afford to have a baby.”

    Ditto for preventive screenings: He wants those covered, too. Otherwise, he said, “People won’t get a colonoscopy. Too expensive. People will weigh the odds and roll the dice.”

    But in Kennesaw, Ga., a suburb on the northern fringe of Atlanta, landscaper Michael Davis has quite a different prescription for health care reform: He wants all the mandates laid out in Obama’s Affordable Care Act gone. He wants the government role as limited as possible. He wants “true, conservative, free-market principles” to rule the day — and he suggests Senator Rand Paul’s stripped-down health care bill is the place to start.

    Davis, who’s a vice chair of his county Republican party, said he thought the GOP failed this time around because the establishment tried to box out the true grassroots conservatives. “I think Trump kind of fell on board with it and was convinced,” he said.

    But he’s not giving up on the president: “My expectations are that they would repeal it. That’s what he said. That’s what he ran on. That’s what I believe his intentions are.”

    Trump himself seemed to promise as much in a tweet on Saturday:

    One of the few voters to express even mild disappointment with Trump was J.D. Kennedy, 77, a Vietnam veteran, retired auctioneer — and a regular at the City Cafe in Murfreesboro. He arrives there at 5 a.m. sharp, six days a week, and reads his local paper over coffee.

    “I think he may have just ridden the wrong horse first. And that’s ego that caused him to do that,” Kennedy said. “If he had gone for tax breaks or infrastructure or any of the other things, it would have been easier, but he’s not one to go for easy things.”

    And Kennedy made clear his faith in the president remains rock-solid: “He knows better,” he said, “and he’ll do better on the tax cuts.”

    READ MORE: GOP lawmakers slammed Obamacare for Medicare cuts. Trumpcare doesn’t undo them

    The key is overcoming a biased media and rallying the country, said Melinda James, 54, a health care worker from Broadview Heights, Ohio. “No matter what happens, the media tries to side it one way,” she said. “They don’t give a clear picture of what’s going on.” James said she was disappointed the health care bill had failed.

    “I really don’t think people are trying to help Trump. We need to unify,” she said. “We need to give him a chance.”

    Out west in the suburb of Castle Rock, Colo., a well-heeled city in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, voters had plenty of ideas on how to parcel out blame for the collapse of an effort that the GOP has been pushing for seven years — and that Trump elevated to a central plank in his campaign.

    In his feed store, which dates to 1902, owner Wayne Bennington diagnosed the problem as a failure of communication: Someone, somewhere dropped the ball on explaining to the American people just what the Republican bill did — and why they should support it, he said.

    “Somebody needed to go on air and go through this explaining exactly what it is,” said Bennington, 60, whose store is packed with livestock feed, leashes, cowboy boots, and carved wooden animals (some of them painted in Denver Broncos orange and blue). “Nobody knows what the bill is about, so if you push it through like that, shame on you.”

    READ MORE: Does good food count as health care? New research aims to find out

    Down the street, in a warehouse full of vendors, Bill Moye figured it was the Democrats who should take the fall, even though the GOP controls both houses of Congress and the White House. The Democrats, he said, are obstructionist. They don’t want Republicans to get anything done.

    A Vietnam vet, Moye sells taxidermy busts of animals he’s hunted, as well as elk antler chandeliers he makes himself. He’s happy with his health care, which he gets through Medicare and Veterans Affairs. And he thinks his fellow Americans shouldn’t have to be afraid of losing insurance when they’re struggling financially.

    At the same time, Moye sounds wary of entitlements: “We’re given too much in America.”

    That’s a tough circle to square. But Moye has confidence in Trump.

    “It’s going to be rough,” he said, “but I think eventually the new president will be the best we’ve ever had.”

    Reporters Keith Cartwright, Lev Facher, Max Blau, and Casey Ross contributed to this report.This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on March 25, 2017. Find the original story here.

    The post In Trump country, voters don’t blame president for the health care bill debacle appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of British Prime Minister Theresa May by Jane Barlow/Pool via Reuters

    File photo of British Prime Minister Theresa May by Jane Barlow/Pool via Reuters

    Editor’s Note: The UK is planning to formally trigger Article 50 to leave the EU on Wednesday. Learn about what Brexit means for Britain and other countries in this Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder.

    Introduction

    For decades, the United Kingdom has had an ambivalent and sometimes contentious relationship with the European Union. London has kept its distance from Brussels’ authority by negotiating opt-outs from some of the EU’s central policies, including the common euro currency and the border-free Schengen area. Even still, the EU’s faltering response to recent crises has fueled a renewed euroscepticism. Advocates for a British exit, or Brexit, from the union argued that by reclaiming its national sovereignty, the UK would be better able to manage immigration, free itself from onerous regulations, and spark more dynamic growth.

    The victory of the Leave campaign in a June 2016 referendum on the UK’s future in the bloc led to tumult in financial markets and the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron. Now led by Prime Minister Theresa May, the UK must negotiate a new relationship with the EU. With May triggering the exit process in March 2017 and committing to leaving the EU Single Market, the UK may face the loss of preferential access to its largest trading partner, the disruption of its large financial sector, a protracted period of political uncertainty, and the breakup of the UK itself. Meanwhile, Brexit could accelerate nationalist movements across the continent, from Scotland to Hungary, with unpredictable consequences for the EU.

    What is the history of the UK’s membership in the EU?

    The UK remained aloof from the continent’s first postwar efforts toward integration, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the the European Economic Community (EEC), formed in the hopes of avoiding another devastating war. “We did not enter the EU with the same political imperatives [as France and Germany],” Robin Niblett, head of the London-based think tank Chatham House, has argued. “We had not been invaded, we did not lose the war, and we have historical connections to all sorts of other parts of the world from our empire and commonwealth.”

    The UK didn’t join the EEC until 1973. The British people approved membership in a 1975 referendum, but suspicion of political union with the rest of Europe remained strong. Critics argued that the European project was already moving beyond mere economic integration and toward a European “superstate.”

    As integration deepened throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the UK’s leaders pushed for opt-outs. The UK didn’t join the single currency or the border-free Schengen area, and it negotiated a reduced budget contribution. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher declared in 1988, “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain only to see them reimposed at a European level.”

    Why did Prime Minister David Cameron try to change the terms of membership?

    Many conservatives never reconciled with membership in the EU, and discontent rose in particular over immigration. The issue of migration from within the EU is fraught, as the UK is currently required to accept the free movement of EU citizens.

    Economic migration from eastern Europe spiked after the EU expansions of 2004 and 2007, pushing net migration to the UK to more than three hundred thousand people a year by 2015. Conservative Prime Minister Cameron called the situation unsustainable. “It was never envisaged that free movement would trigger quite such vast numbers of people moving across our continent,” he said in 2015. Drawing on this anger, in 2014, the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) surged, winning the most votes in the UK’s elections to the European Union parliament with an anti-immigration platform.

    A wave of asylum seekers arriving from beyond the bloc’s borders has also driven tensions. The UK is exempt from the EU’s 2015 plans to resettle hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa, thanks to opt-outs from EU immigration policy. But for eurosceptics, Brussels’s faltering response has highlighted the EU’s dysfunction, and UK policymakers have bristled at suggestions that EU asylum policy might be altered to make it harder to deport migrants to other EU countries. (Under the current system, non-EU asylum seekers are supposed to remain in the first EU country they enter.)

    The eurozone crisis also created strains after the EU proposed an unprecedented “fiscal compact” to coordinate budget policy. Cameron rejected the idea in 2012 as harmful to the UK’s financial sector and chafed at the possibility of an additional treaty change.

    In a 2013 speech, Cameron attacked flaws in the eurozone and what he called the EU’s excessive bureaucracy and lack of democratic accountability. He also promised to hold a referendum on the UK’s EU membership if his Conservative Party won the 2015 elections, which it subsequently did.

    In November 2015, Cameron announced that before holding a referendum, he would seek EU reform in four major areas: national sovereignty, immigration policy, financial and economic regulation, and competitiveness. In February 2016, EU leaders agreed to a number of changes, including protections for non-euro currencies within the EU, new limits on migrants’ benefits, a commitment to reducing EU regulation, and official recognition that the push for “ever closer union” does not apply to the UK.

    With these reforms, Cameron hoped to quell the country’s euroscepticism, but the specter of mass migration, combined with several major terrorist attacks in Europe, gave the Leave camp new ammunition. “What he didn’t bargain for was that the migration crisis would get very bad,” says CFR Senior Fellow Sebastian Mallaby. EU leaders have made clear that the subsequent Leave win invalidated the reforms.

    What was on the ballot?

    In the referendum that took place on June 23, 2016, voters in the UK made a choice on the following question: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

    While the Left largely supported remaining in the EU, the Leave camp included a wide swath of antiestablishment ideologies, from disaffected Labourites to the far right UKIP. Meanwhile, the referendum deeply split the UK’s mainstream conservatives. Cameron had staked his political future on the Remain position and announced his resignation in the wake of its defeat, but about half of the Conservative Party, including several of his cabinet ministers, supported Leave. High-profile Conservative defectors included former Mayor of London Boris Johnson, former party leader Iain Duncan Smith, Justice Minister Michael Gove, and Employment Minister Priti Patel.

    Despite late polls showing Remain gaining a lead, the British people voted Leave by a margin of 52 to 48 percent, with a robust 72 percent turnout, shocking the UK’s political establishment.

    What happens now that the British people have voted Leave?

    The UK’s situation is unprecedented; no full member of the EU has ever left. (Greenland, a territory of Denmark, left in 1982.)

    Under Article 50 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, the UK will have a two-year period to negotiate its withdrawal. However, the UK government must choose when to invoke Article 50, which will make Brexit irrevocable. This has led to debate over when, or even if, the article should be invoked, and whether the UK Parliament could block it. However, Prime Minister May, who won the Conservative Party leadership race to succeed Cameron in July 2016, made clear that “Brexit means Brexit.” She committed to trigger Article 50 on March 29, 2017, though the start of formal talks may be delayed until June.

    Once negotiations begin, they will be extremely complex. The UK will need to determine numerous transitional procedures (PDF) for disentangling itself from EU regulations, settling the status of the millions of UK citizens residing in the EU and non-UK EU citizens in the UK, and deciding the future of UK-EU security cooperation. The final withdrawal deal must be approved by a supermajority of EU countries, as well as by a majority in the European Parliament.

    Separately but simultaneously, the UK will need to negotiate the terms of its future association with the EU. It’s unclear what such a relationship would look like, but several non-EU countries offer potential models (PDF). Norway, for instance, is a part of the European Economic Area (EEA), which gives it partial access to the Single Market in goods and services. However, it has no say in making EU law even though it has to contribute to the EU budget and abide by EU regulations. Switzerland is not part of the EEA, but it has partial access to the Single Market through a web of bilateral agreements that cover goods but not services, which comprise almost 80 percent of the UK economy. Turkey has only a customs union, meaning a free market of goods but not services as well. However, both Norway and Switzerland must also accept the free movement of people from anywhere in the EU, one of the Leave campaign’s primary complaints.

    In a January 2017 speech, May confirmed that the UK will not remain in the Single Market or EU customs union after Brexit. Instead, the government will pursue a new trade agreement with the EU. That decision, combined with France’s assurance that the UK will pay a “price” for leaving, has raised fears of a “hard Brexit,” in which negotiations fail to produce some sort of special arrangement within the two-year window.

    What were the arguments for leaving the EU?

    Reclaiming sovereignty was at the forefront of the Leave campaign. For Leave supporters, European institutions have changed beyond recognition since 1973, and they accuse the EU of becoming a suffocating bureaucracy with ever-expanding regulations. “Laws which govern citizens in this country are decided by politicians from other nations who we never elected and can’t throw out,” argued Justice Minister Michael Gove.

    Immigration was the leading complaint. The number of EU migrants in the UK nearly tripled (PDF) between 2004 and 2015, from about one million to over three million, almost totally due to an influx of citizens from newer members including Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania.

    At the same time, terror attacks in Paris and Brussels involving EU citizens raised fears that the free movement of people leaves the UK vulnerable. With over three thousand EU nationals having traveled to Syria to fight with the self-proclaimed Islamic State, the former head of UK intelligence, Richard Dearlove, argued that controlling immigration would be the primary security benefit of a Brexit. (On the contrary, critics said Brexit would hurt intelligence cooperation.)

    The immigration issue powerfully combines anxieties over identity, economic security, and terrorism, says Matthew Goodwin, an expert on UK politics at the University of Kent. “The referendum is as much about immigration as it is about Britain’s relationship with Europe,” he says.

    For some analysts, European institutions are ill-equipped to address the economic challenges of the modern world. Economist Roger Bootle, author of The Trouble With Europe, argues that the EU’s focus on “harmonization”—the continent-wide standardization of everything from labor regulations to the size of olive oil containers—threatens Europe with persistent low growth and high unemployment.

    Leaving will spark economic dynamism, according to Dominic Cummings, director of the Vote Leave campaign. The EU is “extraordinarily opaque, extraordinarily slow, extraordinarily bureaucratic,” he says. Leave supporters believes that without that burden, the UK can reduce regulation, improve competitiveness, and forge trade deals with fast-growing emerging economies. To Cummings, the reforms Cameron negotiated were trivial, leaving the UK no choice but to eject from a dysfunctional union.

    How has the UK benefited from membership, and what are the risks of leaving?

    The UK is highly integrated with the rest of the EU in terms of trade, investment, migration, and financial services (see graphic). The Remain side cautioned against risking that relationship: Cameron warned about a “leap into the dark,” while Finance Minister George Osborne foresaw a “convulsive shock.”

    In the days after the Brexit vote, global markets shook. The British pound fell sharply, reaching a low not seen in more than a century. In response, the UK central bank unveiled a large package of stimulus measures, including its first cut in interest rates in more than seven years. At the same time, driven by stronger-than-expected growth in manufacturing, partly due to a weaker currency, the UK became the world’s fastest-growing developed economy, though International Monetary Fund economists warn that the boost is only temporary.

    The long-term outlook is still uncertain. For Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics and former voting member of the Bank of England, the pro-Brexit camp’s economic arguments were a “fantasy.” He argues that immigration from the EU has driven growth and that belonging to the EU has allowed the UK to “punch above its weight” in trade, since the larger bloc can negotiate more favorable market-access deals with outside countries.

    Other U.S. observers have warned that a Brexit would damage the UK’s special relationship with the United States. On an April 2016 state visit, President Barack Obama argued that membership in the EU enhances the UK’s global influence and aids U.S. interests. But the administration of President Donald J. Trump is likely to take a different tack. Trump has praised the Brexit vote and promised a rapid start to new trade talks between the UK and the United States.

    Much will depend on the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU. Losing barrier-free access to the Single Market, with its more than five hundred million consumers and over $18 trillion worth of GDP, places more pressure on UK policymakers to strike a trade deal with the EU. Without it, UK exports would be subject to the union’s external tariff starting in 2019. Trade would suffer and some foreign investors would likely pull out of major industries, such as the thriving automotive sector. The UK would also be shut out of any EU-U.S. free-trade deal (known as TTIP) and would need to renegotiate trade access with the fifty-three countries with which the EU currently has trade agreements.

    Particularly hard hit, argues founder of the pro-Remain website InFacts, Hugo Dixon, will be financial services. They currently enjoy “passporting,” meaning UK-based financial institutions can operate freely anywhere in the EU. If that is lost, many firms are likely to move their offices—and jobs—out of the UK to elsewhere in Europe.

    How could the Leave vote affect the rest of Europe?

    The most immediate consequence could be the breakup of the UK itself. Scotland, which held an unsuccessful independence referendum in 2014, voted to remain in the EU. In March 2017, Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, proposed a new referendum, arguing that the largely pro-Remain citizens of Scotland deserve a choice over whether to remain in the EU by leaving the UK. However, Prime Minister May rejected such a vote, which must be approved by London.

    Ireland, too, will face a dilemma; it is strongly committed to the EU but nonetheless economically intertwined with the UK. Ireland’s government has also warned that a Brexit could upend Northern Ireland’s peace settlement and complicate border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

    Elsewhere, Brexit may embolden eurosceptics by providing a “template” for leaving, says CFR’s Mallaby. “The younger generation of Italians, Portuguese, and Greeks associate membership of the eurozone, and, by extension, the European Union, with a terrible depression,” he says. That has translated into electoral gains for anti-EU parties, such as France’s National Front, Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland, and Hungary’s Jobbik. Polling has found that a majority of French citizens want their own EU referendum.

    The ultimate fear around the continent is that Brexit could unravel the rest of the EU, especially if the UK economy performs well in its aftermath. Even barring that, Brexit will be a heavy blow to a union that has struggled to maintain a united front maintaining sanctions on Russia and managing the unprecedented wave of migrants. And, in the wake of 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, when France invoked the EU’s mutual defense clause for the first time, Brexit threatens to end Europe’s hopes for a truly common security and defense policy once and for all.

    This backgrounder first appeared on the Council on Foreign Relations’ website.

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    The U.S. Supreme Court building is pictured in Washington, D.C. Photo by REUTERS/Carlos Barria.

    The U.S. Supreme Court building is pictured in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with a Texas death row inmate who claims he should not be executed because he is intellectually disabled. Photo by REUTERS/Carlos Barria.

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with a Texas death row inmate who claims he should not be executed because he is intellectually disabled.

    The justices, by a 5-3 vote, reversed a Texas appeals court ruling that said inmate Bobby James Moore was not intellectually disabled.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in her majority opinion that Texas’ top criminal appeals court ignored current medical standards and required use of outdated criteria when it decided Moore isn’t mentally disabled. That ruling removed a legal hurdle to Moore’s execution for the shotgun slaying of a Houston grocery store clerk in 1980.

    READ MORE: Death penalty and mental disability at issue for justices

    “Texas cannot satisfactorily explain why it applies current medical standards for diagnosing intellectual disability in other contexts, yet clings to superseded standards when an individual’s life is at stake,” Ginsburg said.

    The decision was the second this term in which the high court has ruled for a Texas death row inmate. In February, the justices said race improperly tainted inmate Duane Buck’s death sentence.

    Chief Justice John Roberts dissented, along with Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas. Roberts agreed that the Texas court used the wrong factors to determine mental disability. But he said the court also made a separate and independent determination about Moore’s intellectual abilities, finding they were not low enough to warrant a finding he was mentally disabled.

    “Clinicians, not judges, should determine clinical standards,” Roberts said. “And judges, not clinicians, should determine the content of the Eighth Amendment.”

    READ MORE: Do Americans still support the death penalty?

    The Supreme Court held in 2002 that people convicted of murder who are intellectually disabled cannot be executed. The court gave states some discretion to decide how to determine intellectual disability. The justices have wrestled in several more recent cases about how much discretion to allow.

    In 2014, the court ruled unconstitutional a Florida law that barred any other evidence of intellectual disability if an inmate’s IQ was over 70.

    Texas looks at three main points to define intellectual disability: IQ scores, with 70 generally considered a threshold; an inmate’s ability to interact with others and care for him- or herself and whether evidence of deficiencies in either of those areas occurred before age 18.

    The case is Moore v. Texas, 15-797.

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    WASHINGTON — Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday he’s going to give battered House Republicans another crack at a health care overhaul. But he offered no timeline, and leaders haven’t resolved how to overcome the deep GOP divisions that crumpled their legislation last week in a humiliating retreat for themselves and President Donald Trump.

    “We are all going to work together and listen together until we get this right,” Ryan told reporters after House Republicans met for the first time since he averted a Friday vote on a GOP health care bill that faced certain defeat. “It is just too important.”

    The doomed GOP bill would have eliminated former President Barack Obama’s mandate for people to carry insurance or face fines and would have shrunk a Medicaid expansion. It relied on tax credits to help consumers purchase insurance that for many people would be less generous than under Obama’s statute.

    Republican lawmakers, conservatives and moderates alike, emerged from Tuesday’s meeting saying there was a consensus to address the issue again, preferably soon. The closed-door meeting lasted nearly two hours, causing Ryan to delay his news conference.

    “You don’t go anywhere until this is accomplished. That’s how we do things on the battlefield, that’s how things should be done here,” said freshman Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., an Army veteran who lost both legs after being wounded in Afghanistan.

    MORE: After health care fail, can Republicans enact their agenda?

    After the meeting, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said that unless the issue is revisited in a month, he would force the House to vote on a bill that goes further than Ryan’s derailed measure in repealing Obama’s 2010 law.

    Brooks is in in the conservative House Freedom Caucus, most of whom opposed the failed GOP bill, which was pivotal in the collapse of the party’s top priority so far this year. They complained it didn’t go far enough in erasing Obama’s statute.

    “We’ll find out who is truly for repeal of Obamacare and who is not,” Brooks said.

    The leader of the Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said his group was talking to moderate Republicans. Many of them also opposed the leadership’s failed bill because it would have pried health coverage from millions of voters.

    “Obviously everybody wants to find a way to get this passed and we’re going to work real hard to do that,” said Meadows.

    Republicans say they will now pivot to tax cuts and other issues while they try working out their differences. And they’ve offered mixed messages on what comes next.

    READ MORE: Failure on health bill also hurts prospects for tax overhaul

    Trump tweeted Monday evening that Democrats will cut a health care deal with him “as soon as Obamacare folds – not long. Do not worry.”

    He also attacked anew the House Freedom Caucus, about three dozen hardcore conservatives who largely opposed the GOP bill. He wrote that they snatched “defeat from the jaws of victory.”

    House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, an author of the failed legislation, told reporters that Republicans “are turning the page and moving on toward tax reform.” He said he’s encouraging the Senate to produce its own health care package, and he and others suggested that lawmakers may produce several smaller bills addressing pieces of the issue.

    But the Senate GOP’s No. 2 leader, John Cornyn of Texas, showed little appetite to plunge ahead.

    “My hope is that Democrats will quit gloating at our inability to get it done on a party-line basis and join us in fixing” Obama’s law, Cornyn said. He said he didn’t expect that to happen until “our Democratic friends have to start answering to the people who are being hurt by the failures of Obamacare.”

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Democrats will address Obama’s overhaul only when Republicans drop their repeal effort. He accused Trump of using executive actions to destabilize the health care system. “That’s not presidential,” he said, “that’s petulance.”

    READ MORE: A timeline of the Republican health care bill collapse

    Obama’s overhaul has provided insurance to 20 million additional people and forced insurers to provide better coverage to many more, but it’s also left some markets with soaring premiums and fewer insurers.

    The health care strategizing comes as the GOP has one clear bright spot: Trump’s nomination of conservative appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. The Senate plans to consider Gorsuch next week.

    Brady wants his panel to produce a bill overhauling much of the nation’s tax code this spring. But Republicans must overcome internal differences on that issue too, including whether to impose taxes on imports to encourage manufacturers to produce products domestically and whether the measure should drive up deficits.

    Congress is fast approaching a deadline to pass government-wide spending legislation or face a shutdown. In the past such deadlines have prompted brinkmanship that sometimes led to shuttering agencies.

    Associated Press writers Erica Werner, Kevin Freking and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.

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    The White House says it has “no problem” with former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates testifying before a House committee investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

    Spokesman Sean Spicer says the White House did not try to block Yates’ testimony. He pointed to a March 24 letter from Yates’ attorney, in which the attorney says that if the White House does not respond by a deadline, Yates will consider that to mean that the White House is not trying to invoke executive privilege, which would limit what she could disclose.

    Spicer says the White House did not respond to the letter. He says the White House has “no problem with her testifying, plain and simple.”

    This week’s hearing at which Yates was expected to testify has been canceled.

    A lawyer for former deputy attorney general Sally Yates says in letters last week that the Trump administration had moved to squelch her testimony in a hearing about Russian meddling in the presidential election.

    In the letters, attorney David O’Neil said he understood the Justice Department was invoking “further constraints” on testimony she could provide at a House intelligence committee hearing that had been scheduled for Tuesday. He said the department’s position was that all actions she took as deputy attorney general were “client confidences” that could not be disclosed without written approval.

    The Washington Post first reported the letters. A person familiar with the situation confirmed them as authentic to The Associated Press.

    The White House called the Post story “entirely false.”

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    Immigration activists rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts.

    Immigration activists rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. The Supreme Court tried to figure out Tuesday whether immigrants should get a second chance in court when bad legal advice leads to a guilty plea and certain deportation. Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts.

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court tried to figure out Tuesday whether immigrants should get a second chance in court when bad legal advice leads to a guilty plea and certain deportation.

    The justices seemed divided during an argument about what to do in cases in which the evidence against criminal defendants is strong and the chances of acquittal by a jury are remote.

    The court is considering the case of Jae Lee, a South Korean immigrant who was facing drug charges.

    Lee pleaded guilty after his lawyer mistakenly assured him a conviction would not lead to deportation.

    The Trump administration is arguing the outcome at trial would have been the same. The administration has pledged to increase deportations, with a focus on immigrants who have been convicted of crimes.

    John Bursch, Lee’s lawyer, told the court that his client would have taken his chances at trial or had his lawyer seek a better plea deal that might allow him to remain in the United States.

    Justice Elena Kagan, seeming to favor Lee, said she would make the same choice if she were in Lee’s shoes. “Sign me up,” Kagan said.

    The issue in Lee’s appeal is whether the lawyer’s recommendation to take the deal offered by prosecutors was so bad that it amounts to a violation of Lee’s constitutional right to a lawyer.

    Both sides agree that the performance of the lawyer, Larry Fitzgerald, was deficient in representing Lee. The Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that immigrants have a constitutional right to be told by their lawyers whether pleading guilty to a crime could lead to their deportation.

    But Lee almost must show that the bad lawyering mattered to the outcome of the criminal case.

    The federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled that the evidence against Lee was overwhelming and that he would have been convicted had he rejected the plea offer and taken his chances at trial. Other appeals courts around the country have sided with immigrants in similar circumstances. The Supreme Court is expected to set a national standard.

    Justice Anthony Kennedy said a ruling for Lee could put judges in a tough position. “You’re asking us to assess the mindset of a defendant when he makes the plea,” Kennedy said.

    Alabama is leading 19 other states in backing the administration’s argument that the appeals court ruling should be upheld.

    The Obama administration Justice Department had previously urged the Supreme Court to turn down the appeal and leave the lower court ruling in place. The new administration announced in February that any immigrant in the country illegally who is charged with or convicted of any offense, or even suspected of a crime, will now be an enforcement priority for deportation. Some 11 million immigrants are living illegally in the U.S.

    Immigrant rights groups and the bar association are among those siding with Lee.

    A decision in Lee v. U.S., 16-327, is expected by late June.

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    U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Going Dark: Encryption, Technology, and the Balance Between Public Safety and Privacy" in 2015. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo.

    U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in 2015. A lawyer the former deputy attorney general wrote in letters last week that the Trump administration was trying to limit her testimony at congressional hearings focused on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo.

    WASHINGTON — A lawyer for former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates wrote in letters last week that the Trump administration was trying to limit her testimony at congressional hearings focused on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The hearing was later canceled by the House intelligence committee chairman.

    In the letters, attorney David O’Neil said he understood the Justice Department was invoking “further constraints” on testimony Yates could provide at a committee hearing that had been scheduled for Tuesday. He said the department’s position was that all actions she took as deputy attorney general were “client confidences” that could not be disclosed without written approval.

    “We believe that the Department’s position in this regard is overbroad, incorrect, and inconsistent with the Department’s historical approach to the congressional testimony of current and former senior officials,” O’Neil wrote in a March 23 letter to Justice Department official Samuel Ramer.

    WATCH: Spicer says White House has ‘no problem’ with former AG Sally Yates testifying on Russia

    The lawyer said Yates still intended to testify and would not disclose any classified information. The requirement that she not discuss even non-classified material “is particularly untenable given that multiple senior administration officials have publicly described the same events,” he said.

    House committee chairman Devin Nunes announced he was canceling the meeting on March 24, one of several moves that have sparked outrage from Democrats on the committee. The typically bipartisan panel has been torn by disputes over Nunes’ ties to President Donald’s Trump’s campaign and questions about whether he can lead a probe independent of White House influence.

    On Tuesday, Nunes rebuffed calls to step aside from the investigation.

    “It’s the same thing as always around this place — a lot of politics, people get heated, but I’m not going to involve myself with that,” he said.

    READ MORE: Devin Nunes faces growing pressure to recuse himself from Russia probe

    House Speaker Paul Ryan continued to express confidence in Nunes Tuesday, saying there is no need for the chairman to resign.

    The Washington Post first reported on the letters from Yates’ attorney. The missives were posted online and a person familiar with the situation confirmed them as authentic to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the correspondence.

    The White House called the Post story “entirely false” and said the administration had not taken any steps to block Yates from testifying at the hearing at which other Obama administration officials were also scheduled to testify.

    O’Neil declined to comment Tuesday, and a Justice Department spokeswoman did not return a message seeking comment.

    Yates, who was fired in January as acting attorney general after she refused to defend the Trump administration travel ban, was expected to be questioned about her role in the firing of Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Yates alerted the White House in January that Flynn had misled the White House about whether he had discussed sanctions in a December phone call with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Flynn was not ousted from the White House until the discrepancies were made public.

    READ MORE: Trump replaces acting attorney general Yates after she orders DOJ to stop defending refugee ban

    The hearing would have been another public airing of the infighting within the committee. Democrats on Monday called on Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation after he acknowledged he went to the White House complex to review intelligence reports and meet a secret source. Shortly afterward, Nunes announced that Trump associates’ communications had been were caught up in “incidental” surveillance, a revelation President Trump used to defend his unproven claim that his predecessor tapped the phones at Trump Tower.

    The Republican congressman’s disclosure prompted the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, as well as the Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, to call on Nunes to recuse himself from the committee’s Russia probe.

    Schiff said Nunes’ connections to the White House have raised insurmountable public doubts about whether the committee can credibly investigate the president’s campaign associates.

    “I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president’s campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman,” Schiff said in a statement Monday.

    But Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., a member of the committee, said Tuesday that Nunes should step down “in the interest of our integrity.” She said his actions raise questions about whether the panel’s investigation can be unbiased and independent.

    “If you become a White House whisperer, you are not independent,” she said on CNN.

    Nunes argues he had to review classified, executive branch documents from a secure facility at the White House because the reports had not been provided to Congress and could not be transported to the secure facilities used by the House intelligence committee. It is very unusual for a committee chairman and ranking member not to coordinate meetings related to an investigation.

    Nunes would not name the source of the information, nor would he disclose who invited him on the White House grounds for the meeting. He described the source as an intelligence official, not a White House official. In an interview on CNN, he suggested the president’s aides were unaware of the meeting.

    Associated Press writers Stephen Ohlemacher, Vivian Salama and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

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    People eat food at an aid center in Nogales, Mexico. According to the group No More Deaths, a group that aims to end death and suffering along the United States/Mexico border, 253 people have died this year trying to cross the border. Among other duties, the group assists with this aid center, called Aid Center for Deported Migrants (CAMDEP), which is run by Kino Border Initiative. REUTERS/Eric Thayer (MEXICO - Tags: SOCIETY FOOD) - RTXVAPA

    This file photo taken in November 2010 shows people eating food at a soup kitchen and aid center run by the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Mexico. Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters.

    As part of a reporting trip, the PBS NewsHour’s Joshua Barajas visited a soup kitchen for recently deported migrants in Mexico that’s a stone’s throw from the Mariposa port of entry in Nogales, Arizona. There, he met a 37-year-old husband and father who, days earlier, tried to cross the border into the U.S. He was not successful.

    Jose Uriel Andrades Saavedra shows me the small puncture wounds on his hands. He says they’re from the thorns of some palm trees.

    I met Saavedra at El Comedor, a soup kitchen sponsored by the Kino Border Initiative — a binational effort among the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, the Diocese of Tucson and other religious organizations — that serves as a transitional pit stop for recently deported migrants.

    Two nights ago, Saavedra and five others tried to cross into the U.S. through the Mariposa port of entry, which funnels travelers between Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico.

    But that night, Border Patrol spotted them. Saavedra says agents chased after them and captured three people from their group; he managed to escape.

    This was his fifth attempt to cross in the U.S. He’s failed every time. And Saavedra, 37, says he’s done with the U.S.

    “I prefer working here in Mexico because, for example, if I go over there, I risk getting bitten by a snake; I could get robbed,” he tells me in Spanish. “And, in the first place, it’s not my country. It’s not my country,” he says twice, for added emphasis.

    Photo by Joshua Barajas/PBS NewsHour

    Photo by Joshua Barajas/PBS NewsHour

    El Comedor is a concrete structure that’s a short walk from the port of entry. Inside the single-room building is an array of volunteers who offer first aid, among other services. Many migrants dropped off by bus after being processed by the National Institute of Migration in Mexico have blisters on their feet or, during the winter months, are suffering from colds and flus.

    Fifteen migrants have shown up to the kitchen this morning. Beyond a meal, migrants are offered broad legal advice, phone calls to family and a new set of clothes. Some arrive with the blue uniforms issued to them in U.S. jails.

    Father Sean Carroll, a Jesuit priest who runs the kitchen, says it’s even more critical now to raise awareness to “humanize this reality” of forced migration, of people fleeing poverty and violence and drug trafficking.

    Evoking Pope Francis, Carroll said the crisis can be measured in statistics, but we must see migrants as persons, names and families.

    “They’re human beings with dreams and hopes,” Carroll tells me. “If anyone can recognize their humanity and dignity, their response would be different,” he adds.

    The "Last Supper" mural painted on one of the walls of the kitchen. Photo by Joshua Barajas/PBS NewsHour

    The “Last Supper” mural painted on one of the walls of the kitchen. Photo by Joshua Barajas/PBS NewsHour

    On one of the walls of the room is a mural recreating da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” Jesus, wearing a backward baseball cap, is bookended by migrants.

    Saavedra says there are a lot of people who cross the border to do “honorable work.” While he acknowledges that some people traffic drugs into the U.S., “there’s some that truly are going to work for their families. It’s real,” he said.

    Saavedra says he is unable to work in Mexico because he lacks a birth certificate, and all the other documents it would permit. He was unable to take a custodial job in a factory that pays 1,200 pesos — around $60 USD — a week because of his missing birth certificate. He does not have enough money to purchase a new one.

    “With my birth certificate, I can stay here and work in Mexico,” he tells me. A new one would cost 311 pesos, a little more than $16. Supporting a wife and children, Saavedra says he doesn’t have enough money to spare.

    While migrants eat at the metal picnic tables, they are presented with verbal and nonverbal assurances of their rights. Volunteers offer broad legal guidance, and signs hanging on the walls remind them of their rights.

    One sign says: “Tengo derecho a vivir una vida libre de violencia,” which nods to the surges of Central American migrants fleeing crime and violence in their home countries. The sign is also meant as a reminder to those who experienced mistreatment at the hands of U.S. Border Patrol.

    Plates are seen at an aid center in Nogales, Mexico November 10, 2010. According to the group No More Deaths, a group that aims to end death and suffering along the United States/Mexico border, 253 people have died this year trying to cross the border. Among other duties, the group assists with this aid center, called Aid Center for Deported Migrants (CAMDEP), which is run by Kino Border Initiative. REUTERS/Eric Thayer (MEXICO

    Plates are scattered on a table in this 2010 photo of the soup kitchen in Nogales, Mexico. Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters

    In January, shortly after taking office, President Donald Trump ordered the Department of Homeland Security to begin construction on the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The new U.S. Border Patrol Chief, Ron Vitiello, told reporters at his swearing-in ceremony earlier this month that if the wall is done right, it will be “important and effective,” reported ABC News.

    “Somebody has to arrest the people who are going to continue to attempt to enter even if there is a border wall,” he added.

    Kino co-authored a statement that condemned the executive action. His organization also condemned the plan to increase the number of Border Patrol agents along the border, saying “we witness firsthand the suffering caused by dramatic increases in border policing.”

    Kino also releases an annual report, called “Our Values on the Line,” compiled from interviews with migrants who come through the kitchen. In the most recent version from 2015, Kino reported that one third of the migrants said they experienced mistreatment or abuse at the hands of U.S. border patrol, the most common being verbal abuse. The report also covers complaints from migrants about physical abuse, conditions at detention facilities and not receiving their belongings and money from Border Patrol agents, among others.

    While breakfast is being served, volunteers — including a representative from the National Commission of Human Rights in Mexico — stressed that migrants have certain rights as human beings, adding that any complaints filed with the commission would remain confidential.

    “What’s your right as a human being?” one volunteer says to the group of migrants. “You have a right to your identity,” he adds.

    Photo by Joshua Barajas/PBS NewsHour

    A sign above the entrance of the Aid Center for Deported Migrants, or CAMDEP as an acronym in Spanish. The kitchen provides two meals a day for migrants. Photo by Joshua Barajas/PBS NewsHour

    When asked about mistreatment from Border Patrol agents, Saavedra says “so many [of my] countrymen say that the Border Patrol is bad, but the Border Patrol does their job.”

    Saavedra calls Mexican city police “rats,” adding that while he’s had no problem with federal and Army officers in Mexico, city law enforcement has taken money from him.

    “I, truthfully, have nothing to say about the Border Patrol or the American government,” he tells me.

    Carroll later tells me that Saavedra’s opinions about the Border Patrol are uncommon.

    At the close of our conversation, I ask if he has anything to add.

    “Only one thing, but it embarrasses me,” he says. “I’m ashamed. Because I have struggled a lot. I’ve struggled a lot here.”

    Not wanting to leave it there, I ask what gives him hope.

    “Jesus Christ,” he says.

    READ MORE: Remembering fallen migrants in the Arizona desert

    The post This man has tried crossing the U.S.-Mexico border 5 times. He says he won’t try again. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Corporate recruiters (R) gesture and shake hands as they talk with job seekers at a Hire Our Heroes job fair targeting unemployed military veterans and sponsored by the Cable Show, a cable television industry trade show in Washington, June 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD PACKAGE SEARCH BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD 10 OCT FOR ALL IMAGES - RTSRJ2F

    New research and analysis from Federal Reserve economists reveal a problem of mismatches between workers, salaries and productivity, but doesn’t identify and discuss the structural cause of the problem: counterproductive recruiting, writes Ask the Headhunter columnist Nick Corcodilos. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

    In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


    Recent research by the Federal Reserve suggest that switching jobs — and probably employers — is the best way to boost your salary and your career.

    But if you’re been solicited recently by recruiters, you know getting a better job and a higher salary is not an easy feat. Let’s explore what the Federal Reserve doesn’t know about how recruiters affect the economy, and why you should stay away from recruiters who waste your time with been-there-done-that jobs and lower salaries.

    Are recruiters killing careers and the economy?

    The best recruiters and headhunters boost employers’ productivity by identifying discounted and up-and-coming talent to fill jobs those people may not have done before. By stimulating capable job candidates with new, motivating career challenges, insightful recruiters help create value for an employer — and boost our economy.

    But untrained, inept recruiters lack insight and foresight. They don’t bother to understand an employer’s future needs or a job candidate’s untapped potential. They look for quick and easy “perfect matches” turned up by automated recruiting algorithms. These keyboard jockeys do little but process resumes whose key words match key words in job descriptions. They add no value. In the end, they kill career growth and job productivity.

    READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: How to tell a good headhunter from a bad one

    Inept recruiters seem to far outnumber good ones these days, and that’s not doing the job market or the economy any good. Companies aren’t filling jobs with the best hires.

    New research and analysis from Federal Reserve economists reveal a problem of mismatches between workers, salaries and productivity, but doesn’t identify and discuss the structural cause of the problem — counterproductive recruiting.

    Is the mad rush to fill jobs mindlessly contributing to inflation?

    With the Department of Labor reporting lower unemployment and increasingly scarce talent, employers are rushing to fill jobs by relying on methods that yield staggeringly low signal-to-noise ratios.

    By design, these systems actively solicit as many applicants as possible for each job. Consider the applicant funnel ZipRecruiter, which exhorts HR managers to post a job on “one hundred-plus job sites.” The ease with which these systems enable and encourage job seekers to apply for any job in a mindless feeding frenzy contributes to a large stack of applications, but only a few solid candidates. Then HR managers, who don’t seem to realize that more is not better, claim to be shocked and cry “talent shortage.”

    An employer’s first contact with an engineer, a scientist, a software developer, a machinist, an accountant — anyone the employer needs to hire — is through a go-between who is probably the least likely to understand qualities and characteristics that make the candidate the best hire. That go-between is the person least likely to understand the work and the job. Except in rare, wonderful cases where employers have very good recruiters, it’s an incompetent recruiter.

    READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: The sales trick that helps employers keep job offers low

    When matches are made, they’re often undesirable to the candidate. It’s a common complaint: Employers want to hire you for a job only if you’ve done that job for several years already — and they’ll often pay you less. Even when they offer you a raise, the job is usually a lateral move. It’s not a career opportunity or a chance for you to build your skills — it’s just an easy database match.

    This seems to be much more than a job-seeker frustration, as there is a tie between wage growth and inflation.

    Giuseppe Moscarini, a visiting Yale scholar at the Philadelphia Fed, told Bloomberg that workers who get raises in a tight labor market aren’t fueling inflation because often these raises are a result of their increased productivity.

    But what happens when a worker’s productivity doesn’t increase? It’s hard to argue that productivity will increase when job applicants do the same jobs they’ve done for years, without new training or skill development. Thus, it’s worth considering whether contemporary recruiting practices are in fact contributing to inflation and where the failure to make good hires lies.

    The failure may be on the front line

    Employers look for “perfect matches” between workers and jobs. The assumptions behind this quixotic search seem to be driven by marketing from candidate vendors like Indeed, LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter, who suggest that:

    • Employers can hire without training anyone or allowing time for a learning curve.
    • Perfect hires are best.
    • Talent can be had at a discount.
    • Employers don’t have time to find talent on their own.
    • Every job can be posted to “a hundred-plus” job boards instantly.
    • “Big data” makes perfect hiring possible.
    • More job applicants are better.
    • And so on.

    These assumptions push employers into automated recruiting. But when we start questioning those assumptions, we run into those responsible for creating the biggest constraint on hiring the best talent: Inept recruiters on the front line.

    Because employers believe they now have “intelligent applicant systems” at their disposal, many dispense with highly trained and skilled recruiters. Employers on the whole have unsophisticated, untrained recruiters who quickly eliminate the best candidates because they’re rewarded for making the easy choices, not the best ones.

    I find that when a problem seems complicated, it’s best to start with the law of parsimony: The simplest explanation is probably the right one.

    If employers had better recruiters, they’d hire better people, increase productivity and stimulate the economy.

    This seems to be what the Fed’s economists don’t know about recruiters and the job market.

    Connecting the dots: talent, pay and productivity

    The Federal Reserve suggests higher productivity coupled with better career opportunities and higher salaries is better for everyone — and for the economy.

    Steve Matthews in Bloomberg Businessweek, deftly puts the jobs puzzle together:

    “Labor economists… are increasingly studying how job-hopping Americans drive compensation gains and affect the traditional interplay of low unemployment, wage gains, and inflation.”

    It turns out those economists are now focused on what we already know: The surest way to get a big salary boost is to change employers and stretch yourself.

    Consider this handful of factoids and data cited by Bloomberg, from economists at the Federal Reserve in Chicago, Atlanta, New York and St. Louis Fed:

    • “23 percent of employees are actively looking for another job on any given week, putting in four or five applications over a four-week period.”
    • “The so-called quit rate, a favorite indicator of [Fed Chair Janet] Yellen that measures voluntary separations from an employer … has almost recovered to levels seen before the recession of 2007-2009.”
    • “Job switchers earned 4.3 percent more money in July 2016 than a year earlier, while people who remained in the same job enjoyed only a 3 percent increase.”

    What this means to you

    Your best bet to make more money today is to switch jobs. From my own experience and reports from Ask Headhunter readers, I’d say that you also need to switch employers if you want that dramatic pay increase.

    But you can and should optimize that bet by making sure the next job you take also enables you to be more productive, improve your skills and accomplish career objectives.

    We already know that most recruiters love to stick you into a “new” job that’s not new at all. They don’t get paid to give you a chance at career development — or to help a manager hire for the future. They offer the same job you’ve been doing because you’re the least risky choice for them.

    READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: Top talent wanted to work cheap? That’s an employer problem

    There’s no need to train you. You will require no learning curve. You are the safest bet, and if you’re unemployed, the recruiter knows he can probably nab you for less than you were earning at your last job, because you need a job. (A tip for employers: “Why you should offer job candidates more money.”)

    So, it’s your job to follow the money. When a recruiter pitches you a re-run job for little or no extra money, suggest he go find a job he’s better at — because he’s not helping you or the employer. He could be killing your career and the economy. Has anyone told that to the Fed’s economists?

    Dear Readers: Did you get a better raise for staying in your job or for switching out? What was the percentage raise? Did a recruiter move you into another same-old job, or did he or she help you advance your career? What’s your take on the Fed’s findings and conclusions?


    Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

    Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

    Copyright © 2016 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

    The post Ask the Headhunter: Why recruiters aren’t always good for the economy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Pro-choice supporters of a Planned Parenthood rally outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Detroit, Michigan, Photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters

    Pro-choice supporters of a Planned Parenthood rally outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Detroit, Michigan, Photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters

    CARSON CITY, Nev. — Even with the Republican failure to repeal Barack Obama’s health care law, Democratic lawmakers in some states are pressing ahead with efforts to protect birth control access, Planned Parenthood funding and abortion coverage in case they are jeopardized in the future.

    Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives withdrew a bill last week that would have repealed Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It would have halted federal funding for Planned Parenthood and curtailed the ability of many low-income women to obtain affordable birth control.

    Despite that setback for the GOP, several Republicans said Congress might revisit health care in the future, and anti-abortion leaders have stressed they will not abandon their campaign to defund Planned Parenthood. The group is the No. 1 abortion provider in the U.S. but also offers extensive birth control and health-screening services.

    In Nevada, state lawmakers and health advocates say they will continue to promote bills that would allow women to access 12-month supplies of birth control and require all health insurers to cover contraceptives at no extra charge, regardless of religious objections.

    Another Nevada proposal seeks to provide alternative funding to help organizations such as Planned Parenthood. Some government-run clinics that rely on federal grants and are on the brink of closure also would benefit.

    “Nevadans need these protections regardless of what’s happening in Congress,” said Elisa Cafferata, president of Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “Family planning and preventative health care are still very much threatened.”

    Democratic state Sen. Julia Ratti said it was important to establish protections in state law “so that, regardless of what future federal provisions come through, we know we’re doing the right thing in Nevada.”

    It’s unclear whether Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, will sign or veto the bills if they reach his desk.

    Majority Democrats in the Maryland Legislature, with backing from some Republicans, passed a bill that would maintain family planning services provided by Planned Parenthood if the group ever lost federal funding.

    The state Senate approved the bill Tuesday on a 32-15 vote, after it previously cleared the House of Delegates. It now goes to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, whose office did not immediately respond to an inquiry asking whether he intended to sign or veto the bill.

    It would direct $2 million from Maryland’s Medicaid budget and $700,000 from the state’s general fund to family planning services. The bill’s chief sponsor, state Delegate Shane Pendergrass, said Maryland would be unwise to assume that congressional Republicans were finished with efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

    “Could this come back in six months? Maybe,” she said. “Do we want to make sure we’re prepared if something happens? You bet we do.”

    The Affordable Care Act withstood a Republican effort to “repeal and replace,” but there are problems with the current law that lawmakers acknowledge need to be addressed. We meet a few Americans who have concerns about Obamacare, then Mary Agnes Carey of Kaiser Health News joins Lisa Desjardins to discuss why affordability is an issue for some.

    In Oregon, Democratic state Rep. Jeff Barker said deliberations would continue on a bill he is sponsoring that would require health insurers to cover a full range of services, drugs and products related to reproductive health, including contraceptives, with no co-pay or deductible.

    It also would prohibit any government interference in a woman’s choice to have an abortion.

    “It will be contentious, but I believe it will pass,” Barker said. “We want to be sure that women have all their reproductive health needs taken care of.”

    The bill, which is awaiting referral to a House committee, could be up for a floor vote sometime next month.

    “Our plan is to still move it forward,” said House Speaker Tina Kotek, a Democrat. “It’s really important to a lot of people on this particular area of health care.”

    Kotek also expressed no interest in tweaking the bill’s language to the liking of Providence Health Plans, a Catholic-sponsored organization covering 260,000 Oregon residents. Last week, Providence threatened to pull out of the Oregon insurance market if the abortion proposal passes.

    At the national level, Planned Parenthood celebrated the collapse of the GOP health care overhaul effort yet acknowledged that it will remain a target of the anti-abortion movement and its allies.

    “We know this is the beginning, not the end,” said Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards.

    U.S. law already prohibits federal money from being used to pay for most abortions, but the GOP health overhaul would have cut off more than $400 million in Medicaid reimbursements and other federal funding to Planned Parenthood for non-abortion services. That includes birth control provided to about 2 million women annually.

    Kristi Hamrick of Americans United for Life, in an email, said the push to defund Planned Parenthood would continue.

    “Too early to say how this might play out,” she wrote.

    Crary reported from New York. Associated Press writers Kristena Hansen in Salem, Oregon, and Brian Witte in Annapolis, Maryland, contributed to this story.

    READ MORE: In Trump country, voters don’t blame president for the health care bill debacle

    The post States push to protect birth control despite failed GOP health care bill appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Haul trucks move coal as seen during a tour of Peabody Energy's North Antelope Rochelle coal mine near Gillette, Wyoming, U.S. June 1, 2016. The haul trucks operating at North Antelope Rochelle Mine hold 380 to 400 tons of material. Photo by Kristina Barker/REUTERS

    Haul trucks move coal as seen during a tour of Peabody Energy’s North Antelope Rochelle coal mine near Gillette, Wyoming, U.S. June 1, 2016. The haul trucks operating at North Antelope Rochelle Mine hold 380 to 400 tons of material. Photo by Kristina Barker/REUTERS

    On Tuesday afternoon, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that aims to boost U.S. energy independence by rolling back or reviewing clean energy policies instituted before and during the Obama administration. The moves are geared toward alleviating regulations on and expanding fossil fuel enterprises, the White House says.

    Read the full text of the energy independence executive order below:

    READ MORE: Trump executive order seeks to reverse Obama’s clean energy regulations

    The post Read the full text of Trump’s executive order on energy and climate change appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Precinct volunteer David Smith carries a voting sign to the edge of SC Highway 278 outside the Horse Gall precinct in Varnville, South Carolina. The precinct is in the garage of Smith's home in the rural county of Hampton. Photo taken in February 2016. Photo by Randall Hill/Reuters

    Precinct volunteer David Smith carries a voting sign to the edge of SC Highway 278 outside the Horse Gall precinct in Varnville, South Carolina. The precinct is in the garage of Smith’s home in the rural county of Hampton. Photo taken in February 2016. Photo by Randall Hill/Reuters

    Like older voters, young ones were divided by the 2016 presidential election. The Conversation

    A recent study of millennial voters by Tufts University found that young people had starkly different opinions about politics and civic institutions based on race, gender and social class.

    One important dividing line separated rural and urban youth.

    Rural youth defied a stereotypical notion of young voters as uniformly liberal. Exit polls conducted by news media on Election Day showed that although 55 percent of voters under 30 nationwide supported Hillary Clinton, young rural voters supported Donald Trump by 53 percent.

    Researchers at Tisch College’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) have studied young voters and their civic and political development for over 15 years, but this urban-rural gap took us by surprise. We set out to learn where this stark difference in opinion came from.

    It’s not just about geography

    Using data from CIRCLE’s survey of 1,000 millennials after the 2016 election, we wanted to find out how living in a rural area could potentially result in different levels of political involvement and opinions, leading to such different candidate choice.

    In other words, did young rural voters seek an outsider candidate like Trump because they are more politically alienated and skeptical about government and the value of their own political involvement?

    Approximately 14 percent of young voters live in rural areas. While not huge, this group is roughly the size of the black youth voting bloc. But unlike black youths, rural youth voting habits have been rarely studied.

    So just what does living in a “rural area” mean? Exit polls classify “rural” by small population (fewer than 50,000) and location outside of metro areas. Of course, however, there is more to rural identity than geography. Sociological research suggests that it is also about power and access to institutions that benefit individuals such as youth and recreation programs, nonprofit and civic organizations. It’s also about the closeness of relationships between residents. That said, rural areas are not all the same and they face different challenges and opportunities.

    We therefore decided to classify the millennials in our survey by access to opportunities for building interpersonal connections and by their civic and political engagement.

    Youth with access to no resources, or only one, were classified as living in Civic Deserts. “Civic Desert” is a new term that we coined to describe places characterized by a dearth of opportunities for civic and political learning and engagement, and without institutions that typically provide opportunities like youth programming, culture and arts organizations and religious congregations.

    Here’s what our study found:

    1. The majority of rural youth live in Civic Deserts

    Civic Deserts can be in any type of geography, but they are most common in rural areas.

    Sixty percent of rural youth live in a Civic Desert compared to just about 30 percent of their suburban and urban peers. That means rural youth face a significant civic disadvantage. They have fewer opportunities to observe, participate and learn about civic and political engagement.

    Just like millions of Americans who live in a food desert, an area that lacks access to healthy food choices, a majority of rural youth experience Civic Desert and lack access to meaningful civic engagement options.

    2. Civic Deserts may contribute to alienation

    As UC Berkeley Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild wrote in her recent book “Strangers in Their Own Land,” residents of a community experiencing a severe lack of access to government resources, opportunities for advancement and a decline in community cohesion may develop a sense of alienation from and distrust in aspects of civic life, such as community organizations, government agencies – and even neighbors.

    Our analysis indicates that youth living in a Civic Desert are generally less experienced in civic and political life and largely disengage from politics; have few, if any, opinions about current affairs; and are less likely to believe that civic engagement like voting and civic institutions – from Congress to local nonprofits – can benefit the community. They were also less likely to help others in informal ways, like helping neighbors and standing up for someone who is being treated unfairly.

    The factors that normally predict political engagement, such as education and income, are not strong enough to negate the effect of living in a Civic Desert.

    3. Voting for Trump related to many factors

    Coming back to our initial reaction to the rural-urban vote divide, did Civic Deserts drive young people to vote for Donald Trump?

    During the 2016 presidential election, young people who live in Civic Deserts were less likely to vote compared to others with more civic resources.

    If they did vote, they were slightly more likely to choose Trump than those with better access to civic resources. However, supporting Trump was related to many other things as well, including being white, male and not having a four-year college degree.

    In our data, millennial support for Trump was particularly high among whites who live in Civic Deserts (39 percent) and rural areas (43 percent), compared to whites living in urban areas with high access (17 percent).

    Additionally, these findings suggest that it is incorrect to assume that young Trump voters only live in rural areas. Instead, many of his supporters lived in urban and suburban areas where they lack access to civic resources.

    Although many factors attribute to young people’s choice of a presidential candidate, one key explanation appears to be a sense of alienation from politics, which is a common phenomenon in Civic Deserts where young people have little to no opportunity to develop as active citizens. Civic Deserts are most prevalent in rural areas, suggesting it is important to strive for expanded access to civic engagement opportunities in these areas.

    Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Director, Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement in the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University and Felicia Sullivan, Senior Researcher at Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement in the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University, Tufts University

    This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

    The post Analysis: Many rural millennials are alienated from politics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A combination of file photos showing Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and U.S. President Donald Trump. Photo by Toby Melville/Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A combination of file photos showing Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and U.S. President Donald Trump. Photo by Toby Melville/Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with President Donald Trump the first full week of April, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.

    The first in-person encounter between the leaders comes after Trump sharply criticized China during the presidential campaign. But he is now seeking Beijing’s help in pressuring North Korea over its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

    Trump and Xi also are likely to discuss the U.S. president’s threats to counter what he claims are unfair Chinese trade practices. Trump has promised to raise import taxes on Chinese goods and declare Beijing a currency manipulator. It’s unclear if Trump will follow on either threat while seeking China’s cooperation on North Korea.

    Though the White House hasn’t formally announced Xi’s visit, the leaders are expected to gather at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida — where Trump hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in February.

    The State Department official confirmed the timing of Xi’s trip while discussing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s upcoming travel plans.

    Tillerson had planned to skip a meeting of NATO foreign ministers scheduled for April 5-6 so he could attend Xi’s meeting with Trump, the official said. The NATO gathering in Brussels was rescheduled for Friday so Tillerson could attend, said the official, who briefed reporters on a conference call on condition of anonymity even though Trump has criticized media for using anonymous sources.

    Under Trump, regular opportunities for journalists to question Tillerson or other State Department officials in public have been significantly curtailed.

    The agency held no televised briefings, a State Department mainstay for decades under administrations of both parties, for six weeks after Trump’s inauguration. They resumed in March under a new format: Two televised briefings per week and two over-the-phone briefings.

    Now the televised briefings have again been canceled, due to staffing changes. Instead, they’re only holding telephone briefings, restricted to one topic per day as chosen by the State Department.

    Those calls are held on “background,” meaning journalists can question senior officials but are prohibited from naming them in any stories, and the State Department has declined requests to conduct the calls on the record.

    The State Department has said typical, on-the-record briefings may resume soon.

    WATCH: What’s the future of relations with China, Japan under Trump?

    The post Trump to meet China’s Xi first week in April, U.S. official says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in D.C. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in D.C. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The question of collusion between Russian interests and Donald Trump’s campaign is far from answered, despite repeated assertions by the president’s spokesman that it’s case closed.

    Sean Spicer angrily dismissed inquiries about the matter Tuesday, declaring that “every single person who’s been briefed on this, as I’ve said ad nauseam from this podium … have been very clear that there is no connection between the president or the staff here and anyone doing anything with Russia.”

    That goes for “Republican, Democrat, Obama appointee” and career civil servants, he added. They “have all come to the same conclusion.”

    THE FACTS: The matter is being investigated by the FBI and two congressional committees, so no conclusions have been reached at all.

    According to a report published at the end of the Obama administration by the outgoing director of intelligence, James Clapper, no coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia had been established. But investigations are continuing into that very question.

    FBI Director James Comey said last week: “I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

    He said that “as with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.”

    As for Clapper’s report, his spokesman Shawn Turner said last week that the findings “could not account for intelligence or evidence that may have been gathered since the inauguration on January 20th.”

    Spicer’s claim that even Democrats who have been briefed on the matter agree there was no collusion is at odds with statements from Democrats. Rep. Adam Schiff of California, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and a recipient of classified briefings, has said “there is more than circumstantial evidence now” of a relationship between Russian interests and Trump associates.

    Michael Flynn was fired as national security adviser when his pre-inauguration contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. emerged. As for “staff here” being in the clear, as Spicer put it, they have neither been identified as targets of the investigations nor ruled out.

    A close adviser to Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, has agreed to talk to lawmakers about his business dealings with Russians. Other Trump associates have volunteered to be interviewed by the House and Senate intelligence committees as well.

    AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace contributed to this report.

    WATCH: Spicer says White House has ‘no problem’ with former acting AG Sally Yates testifying on Russia

    The post AP fact check: Spicer says case closed on Russia. It’s not appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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