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- 04/20/17--15:45: _Exxon, Dow Chemical...
- 04/20/17--15:50: _News Wrap: Attack p...
- 04/21/17--09:45: _How powerful is Fra...
- 04/21/17--09:59: _Newly released Egyp...
- 04/21/17--10:01: _FDA: Codeine cough ...
- 04/21/17--12:36: _DOJ sends a message...
- 04/21/17--12:57: _House intel panel t...
- 04/21/17--13:02: _Trump: Young immigr...
- 04/21/17--14:35: _WATCH: Trump signs ...
- 04/21/17--14:54: _U.S. ‘too important...
- 04/21/17--15:20: _Why your smartphone...
- 04/21/17--15:25: _Shields and Gerson ...
- 04/21/17--15:30: _After viral story o...
- 04/21/17--15:35: _U.N. Secretary-Gene...
- 04/21/17--15:40: _Will latest Paris t...
- 04/21/17--15:45: _White House hopes n...
- 04/21/17--15:50: _News Wrap: French g...
- 04/22/17--06:26: _Senators seek data ...
- 04/22/17--07:49: _‘Science is crucial...
- 04/22/17--08:34: _Young immigrants wo...
- 04/20/17--15:50: News Wrap: Attack puts Paris on high alert, days before the election
- 04/21/17--09:59: Newly released Egyptian-American charity worker visits Trump
- 04/21/17--10:01: FDA: Codeine cough syrup should not be given to kids
- 04/21/17--13:02: Trump: Young immigrant ‘dreamers’ are not deportation targets
- 04/21/17--14:54: U.S. ‘too important’ to pull back in today’s world, U.N. chief says
- 04/21/17--15:50: News Wrap: French government calls for calm after attack on police
- 04/22/17--06:26: Senators seek data on Americans caught up in surveillance
- 04/22/17--08:34: Young immigrants won’t ‘rest easy’ despite Trump’s comments
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now: how behind-the-scenes moves by a pair of corporate giants are raising red flags about the Trump administration.
Companies routinely advocate and lobby every day on behalf of their business and shareholders. Sometimes, those matters are not just about corporate profits, but also about the economic livelihoods of workers and communities.
But moves by ExxonMobil and Dow Chemical are fueling scrutiny about the corporate influence within the Trump administration.
April 2012, Rex Tillerson, then CEO of ExxonMobil, visits Moscow, wrapping up a deal with the Russian state oil company Rosneft. It calls for investing up to $500 billion to hunt for oil in the Arctic Ocean and Black Sea.
REX TILLERSON, CEO, ExxonMobil: I would like to thank you for the warm welcome, and it is a historic day for ExxonMobil and Rosneft.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But two years later, the drilling venture was blocked, when the U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Now ExxonMobil is asking the Trump administration to let the Black Sea part of the project go forward.
Tillerson, in his new role as secretary of state, says he will do just as he promised during his confirmation hearing.
REX TILLERSON: As to any issues involving ExxonMobil that might come before me if confirmed as secretary of state, I would recuse myself from those issues.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But his past ties to ExxonMobil mean the request is certain to draw extra scrutiny. Moreover, Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election remains a hot issue in Washington.
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, for one, voiced disbelief about the news yesterday. In a tweet, he asked: “Are they crazy?”
At the same time, Dow Chemical is asking the new administration not to impose new curbs on three widely used insecticides. They are diazinon, malathion and chlorpyrifos.
The Associated Press reports Dow and two other manufacturers want the government to set aside federal studies that found the chemicals may be harmful to about 1,800 threatened or endangered species. The companies argue the studies are fundamentally flawed. Environmental advocates say there’s no such thing as perfect lab conditions.
BRETT HARTL, Center for Biological Diversity: You can’t just take an endangered fish, an endangered salmon out of the wild, take it to the lab and then expose it to enough pesticides until it dies to get that sort of data you need. It’s wrong morally. It’s illegal.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The Environmental Protection Agency says only that it’s reviewing petitions as they come in, giving careful consideration to sound science and good policy-making.
As with Exxon, Dow’s influence will be an issue. The company contributed a million dollars to President Trump’s inaugural activities. And, in February, when Mr. Trump signed an executive order on rolling back regulations, Dow’s CEO was at his side.
Let’s look into some of the questions being raised about each of these examples.
Jay Solomon broke the news about ExxonMobil in The Wall Street Journal. And Norman Eisen is a former special counsel to President Obama. His expertise is government ethics. He’s now a fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Jay, let me start with you.
Why does Exxon want this?
JAY SOLOMON, The Wall Street Journal: Well, basically, the Arctic and the Black Sea are kind of one the most sought-after kind of pioneer spots for oil exploration.
And, you know, for their future earnings, for the growth of the business, this is seen as kind of one of the last great places to explore.
HARI SREENIVASAN: How much money are we talking about here? How significant is this potential?
JAY SOLOMON: I mean, President Putin, when they announced the deal in 2012, said it could be as much as $500 billion in investment, and huge amounts of oil and gas is in that region.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Is it typical for these types of exceptions to be asked for? Is it sometimes on humanitarian grounds or other reasons?
JAY SOLOMON: There are. If you look in Iran or Burma, as the Obama administration was kind of pursuing their policies, there were exemptions granted for humanitarian or technology reasons.
But an issue like this that is politically charged with this much money with a country like Russia, it’s pretty unusual that you would see a waiver granted in this situation.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Rex Tillerson, former secretary — or former head of Exxon, now the secretary of state, he has recused himself for two years. Right?
JAY SOLOMON: Yes, he has.
I mean, ultimately, the decision on the waiver is made by an office in the Treasury Department, but because of the national security and foreign policy implications, the State Department, probably some of the intelligence agencies, it’s a broader issue.
But, obviously, when Tillerson got this job, the question was immediately asked, you know, how will your previous job impact the issue of Exxon? And it’s tricky, and already you see Republicans and Democrats saying, not just because of Tillerson, but because of the concerns about Russia’s hacking of the election and the other investigations, that this is not going to get political support.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Norm Eisen, what about the idea that Rex Tillerson has said he will recuse himself for this? Isn’t that the kind of safeguard that we have in place to make sure that nothing untoward happens?
NORMAN EISEN, Brookings Institute: Well, I think it’s important that Mr. Tillerson recuse himself. And he is to be applauded for doing that and for making a complete break with Exxon.
But that doesn’t solve all the problems here. Exxon gave $500,000 to Mr. Trump’s inaugural. There’s an enormous cloud around Russia, not just the violations of national borders and sovereignty that led to these sanctions, but also the violations of our democratic norms. There can be no doubt that they interfered in the election.
The only question now is whether Mr. Trump or those around him knew of it or were involved in it. So, granting a sanctions waiver here just is not called for.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Norm Eisen, I mean, a lot of times, it’s the proximity and the adjacency of facts that ends up leading us to different conclusions.
Until there is some sort of smoking gun or a trail of evidence, are we prejudging?
NORMAN EISEN: Well, I think it’s very important not to prejudge, but at the same time, it’s clear now, there’s a consensus, an intelligence community consensus.
We have just seen documents from a government think tank in Russia demonstrating an interference in our elections, what we can describe as an act of gray war by doing this. It’s an extraordinary hostility against the United States. And there’s substantial indications that there have been contacts by those who were in and around Mr. Trump.
There’s very substantial evidence that raises serious questions here, and that goes to the political climate for this sanctions waiver. I don’t think it’s going to be granted.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Jay Solomon, you mentioned this a little bit, the political climate here. What kind of support or lack of support is there when you have, say, Senator McCain tweeting, “Are you crazy?” in the case of Exxon?
JAY SOLOMON: No, I think it’s tough.
I think Exxon’s argument is, you know, we have to basically start drilling by the end of this year, or we’re going to lose this concession, and if we don’t get it, the European companies that are already starting to mobilize in this area, they have been granted some waivers from the European Union to pursue this. So, you know, if we don’t get, it’s going to be developed, you know, anyway, and then American jobs and money is going to be hurt.
That’s what they’re going to argue. But I also agree, it’s going to be very difficult to gin up political support in an environment where Russia, whether it’s the hacking or the accusations of collusion or Ukraine, it’s just they have not given President Trump anything to work with either, the Russians.
So, I agree. I think it would be very difficult for the Trump administration to get political support.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Norm Eisen, do you have different concerns about the issues with Dow?
NORMAN EISEN: Well, mercifully, Dow is not accused of any improper assault on our democracy.
But we do have an even larger political contribution to the Trump inauguration, $1 million from Dow. You have the Dow CEO, who is seen at Mr. Trump’s side. He has extraordinary access in the White House, chairs a group that advises Mr. Trump, was there when Mr. Trump signed his executive order relating to cutting back regulation.
And now you have Dow’s request to set aside the science — the U.S. government has made scientific findings about these organophosphates and the harms they cause to — set aside that science and relieve regulation. It doesn’t smell right.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Norm Eisen, how different is this from the revolving door that people so hate about Washington, that people come right out of government, go right into the private sector, and then oftentimes right back in if the administration changes?
NORMAN EISEN: Well, the problem with the Trump White House is that they removed the revolving door and just threw it open, and it’s being flooded with corporate executives who are coming in with lobbyists.
They removed the lobbying ban that President Obama had in his ethics executive order. And everybody believes that business has to have a seat at the table, has to be on a level table, though. The problem is, it appears that the table is tilted to disproportionately favor business as a special interest, beyond the public interest, and so that is worrying. It’s in a way worse than the revolving door.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Norm Eisen of the Brookings Institution and Jay Solomon from The Wall Street Journal, thank you both.
JAY SOLOMON: Thank you.
The post Exxon, Dow Chemical requests to Trump administration raise red flags about corporate influence appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Paris is on high alert again, after a gunman killed one policeman and wounded two more, before being killed himself. The attack came just three days before voting starts in France’s presidential election.
The sitting president, Francois Hollande, said all indications are that it was terror-related. Authorities sealed off the area after the incident on the famed Champs Elysees. It happened near a subway station in an area popular with tourists.
CHELLOUG, Eyewitness (through interpreter): It was a terrorist. He came out with a Kalashnikov and started shooting. He could’ve shot us on the pavement and killed more people with a spray of shots, but he targeted the policemen.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In Washington, President Trump called the killings a terrible thing and said it looks like another terrorist attack.
We get more now from special correspondent Malcolm Brabant, who’s in Paris. He spoke with us moments ago via Skype.
Malcolm, what’s the latest that we know?
MALCOLM BRABANT: The latest information we have is that the Islamic State (INAUDIBLE) is now claiming responsibility for this attack in the Champs Elysees.
At least, they’re claiming responsibility here a couple hours after this gunman opened fire with what we believe was a Kalashnikov on police officers who were sitting in a van near the Champs Elysees, which is this main boulevard that goes through Paris.
The latest information that we have is that one policemen have been killed, two have been wounded. The gunman himself was shot dead. But he was known to the authorities. The police have been carrying out a raid on his home to find out more information.
The French president, Francois Hollande, has also called a meeting of his security chiefs to work out what the implications are for this attack. And it’s of utmost importance for this country, because it’s going to the polls in three days’ time, and tensions are extremely high.
HARI SREENIVASAN: That’s two sort of important pieces of context here, that, one, is that there was a thwarted attack just a little while ago. And you were actually out with one of the candidates at a rally when that happened.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Yes.
There was a raid on a couple of men in Marseille. The police were made aware that an attack was imminent, and they arrested two Islamists who had proclaimed loyalty to the Islamic State. They seized a bunch of weapons, a whole load of ammunition, and some homemade explosives.
And they may have been going into court. And the fear was that they were going to attack one of the candidates. At the time that these arrests were made, I was down in the city of Dijon, where Jean-Luc Melenchon, the hard-left candidate, was speaking.
And what he was trying to say to French people was that these people were criminals, that people shouldn’t be afraid, that there should be vigorous debate, and that the freedom of the French people shouldn’t be impinged by this.
But, nevertheless, this particular shooting, and also those arrests in Marseille have shown that the Islamists are serious, that they perhaps want to disrupt this election process. And so that’s going to be making people extremely nervous on Sunday, when they go to put their ballots in the boxes.
But the police and the army are basically saying that there will be about 50,000 people out on the streets of Paris alone to try to make sure that this election goes off as smoothly as possible.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Malcolm Brabant joining via Skype from Paris tonight, thanks so much.
In the day’s other news: The president renewed his attack on Iran and the nuclear deal struck in 2015. At a White House news conference with Italy’s prime minister, he called it a terrible agreement and sharply criticized Tehran.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They are not living up to the spirit of the agreement. I can tell you that. And we’re analyzing it very, very carefully. And we will have something to say about it in the not-too-distant future. But Iran has not lived up to the spirit of the agreement, and they have to do that.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Earlier this week, the administration told Congress that Iran is complying, at least technically, with the terms of the deal.
In Russia, the Supreme Court today banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses after the government labeled them an extremist group. Russia is home to more than 170,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have been the target of a crackdown, but they say they will appeal the court’s decision. Human Rights Watch calls it a blow to religious freedoms in Russia.
General Motors has halted operations in Venezuela after its factory there was seized by the socialist government. It’s the latest in a series of such incidents. In a statement, the automaker said it strongly rejects the arbitrary measures and will vigorously take all legal actions to defend its rights.
Vice President Pence today praised Indonesia as a land of democracy and tolerance, in the latest stop on his Asian tour. He held talks with President Joko Widodo in Jakarta, and said the world’s most populous Muslim nation is an inspiration to the world.
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: As the second and third largest democracies in the world, our two countries share many common values, including freedom, the rule of law, human rights, and religious diversity. The United States is proud to partner with Indonesia to promote and protect these values, the birthright of all people.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The visit came a day after Islamic conservatives in Jakarta defeated the minority Christian governor in his reelection bid. He’s already on trial for blasphemy against the Koran.
Back in this country, more than 21,000 drug convictions are being thrown out in Massachusetts. The state’s highest court formally approved the move today, the largest single dismissal in American history. A former state drug lab chemist had been accused of tampering with evidence and falsifying drug tests.
President Trump has ordered an investigation into whether imported steel from China and elsewhere is hurting national security. He signed the directive with executives from U.S. steelmakers looking on. The results of the probe could let him curb steel imports under a 1960s trade law.
And on Wall Street, stocks rallied on upbeat earnings reports. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 174 points to close at 20578. The Nasdaq rose 53 points, and the S&P 500 added 17.
The post News Wrap: Attack puts Paris on high alert, days before the election appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
French presidents have more power than the leaders of most other advanced democracies, including Germany, the United Kingdom, and, arguably, the United States. They not only command the executive apparatus, including the armed forces, but tend to drive the national policymaking agenda with little parliamentary oversight. What’s more, as head of state, the president is a powerful symbol of the French nation. Before presidential terms were cut from seven years to five in 2000, some political analysts likened the French presidency to the absolute monarchy of the ancien régime. The winner of the presidential contest in 2017 will take charge of a country at a crossroads on various foreign and domestic policy issues.
Why does the 2017 election matter?
The 2017 presidential election may have political and economic reverberations far beyond its borders. Candidates Marine Le Pen, on the far right, and Jean-Luc Melenchon, on the far left, have pledged to reconsider some of France’s treaty commitments, potentially withdrawing from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union. Many supporters of the EU fear a vote to leave by a charter member and its second largest economy may prove to be the bloc’s undoing. “After Brexit last year, if enemies of Europe manage again in the Netherlands or in France to get results, then we face the threat that the largest civilization project of the twentieth century, namely the European Union, could fall apart,” Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s then vice chancellor, said in January.
The election will also influence how France responds to a number of other foreign and domestic policy questions. Economic malaise, high unemployment, trade relations, Islamist terrorism, the migrant and refugee crisis, war in Syria, and sanctions on Russia are just a few of the pressing issues that will require the next president’s leadership.
When is election day?
The first ballot will be held on April 23, with a likely runoff to occur two weeks later, on May 7. A runoff is only held if no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote. The official handover of power typically occurs about ten days later. The mainstream political parties, the Republicans and the Socialist Party, held primaries to select their nominees a few months before the general election.
Who are the leading candidates?
Francois Fillon (Republican) – The center-right candidate served as prime minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy (2007–2012). He says major free-market reforms are needed to revive the French economy, including looser labor laws, lower corporate taxes, and extensive cuts to the public sector. Fillon supports France’s EU membership but has been an outspoken critic of the bloc’s sanctions against Russia. He has called for tightening immigration laws.
Benoit Hamon (Socialist) – The former education minister resigned in 2014 to protest the Hollande government’s fiscal austerity policies. He supports a universal basic income and rolling back recent reforms that have made it easier for employers to hire and fire staff.
Marine Le Pen(National Front) – The leader of the far-right nationalist party has long called for France to leave the EU and plans to hold a “Frexit” referendum if elected. She has been a critic of immigration, EU sanctions on Russia, the NATO security alliance, and free trade agreements.
Emmanuel Macron (En Marche!) – The former investment banker, who served as the economy minister under Socialist President François Hollande, resigned last year to create his own political party, En Marche! (“Onwards!”). He has called for significant economic reforms, including loosening some long-standing labor-market policies. He supports EU membership and keeping sanctions on Russia.
Jean Luc Melenchon (La France Insoumise) – The former Socialist had a falling out with his longtime party in 2008, which he claimed had moved too far to the center. He ran unsuccessfully for president in 2012. As leader of the leftist movement La France Insoumise (“Indomitable France”), Melenchon has called for raising the minimum wage, increasing taxes on the wealthy, and shortening the work week. If elected, he has pledged to reconsider France’s commitments to institutions such as the EU, NATO, and the IMF.
How did the current system emerge?
France has passed through more than a dozen different constitutions since the Revolution of 1789, depending on how one counts. Its current constitutional regime, the Fifth Republic, was ushered into being in 1958 by Charles de Gaulle, hero of the Free French resistance during World War II. The sixty-seven-year-old statesman came out of retirement to serve as president after an uprising by French colonists in Algeria threatened to stir wider unrest.
De Gaulle seized on the crisis to design a new constitution that would greatly expand the powers of the president and aimed to prevent the parliamentary paralysis that had plagued the country for more than a decade. He bolstered the French executive again a few years later, pushing through a referendum that replaced an electoral college system for electing presidents with direct universal suffrage.
What were the prior republics?
The First Republic (1792–1804) emerged during the French Revolution, following the removal of King Louis XVI and the abolition of the monarchy. It ended after Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned emperor.
The Second Republic (1848–1852) came after another revolution that ended the reign of King Louis-Philippe. The constitutional regime was dissolved by President Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, who was crowned Emperor Napoleon III.
The Third Republic (1870–1940), which followed the overthrow of Napoleon III, was established during the Franco-Prussian War. The parliamentary democracy endured for seven decades, until the Nazi occupation.
The Fourth Republic (1946–1958) was established after World War II and suffered from parliamentary stalemate and a weak executive. It collapsed amid the Algerian crisis.
What is the current French system of government?
Political scientists call it a semipresidential system because it has features of both presidential and parliamentary types of government. Like prime ministers in many parliamentary democracies, French presidents have supreme executive authority and significant policymaking powers. At the same time, French presidents also serve as the head of state, are popularly elected, and cannot be voted out of office by parliament.
The French president appoints the prime minister, who helps implement his or her policy agenda and manage the bureaucracy with the aid of cabinet ministers. Except during rare periods known as cohabitation, sitting French presidents and prime ministers are of the same political party, and the former serves at the pleasure of the latter.
The French parliament can force the resignation of the prime minister, who shares some executive authorities, but the legislative body is regarded by many political scientists as one of the weakest in the democratic world. Meanwhile, French presidents may dissolve parliament at any time and can circumvent it to enact laws in a variety of ways, including via national referendum. By comparison, in purely presidential systems, like that of the United States, clear constitutional boundaries separate and tend to balance the executive and legislative spheres.
What is cohabitation?
Prime ministers and cabinet officers must have the support of the majority in parliament, so when an opposition coalition comes to power in the legislature, presidents must take on a ruling partner from an opposing party. This has only occurred three times since the founding of the Fifth Republic. The last instance was in 1997, when President Jacques Chirac, a Republican, was compelled to appoint Socialist leader Lionel Jospin to the premiership after a left-leaning majority swept into the legislature.
Executive power is awkwardly shared during periods of cohabitation, and presidents often choose to focus more on diplomacy and security matters, which are exclusively their province.
French voters backed a referendum in 2000 to cut presidential terms from seven years to five, a constitutional reform that put presidential and parliamentary elections on the same cycle. Many supporters hoped the change would reduce incidences of cohabitation.
This backgrounder first appeared April 20 on the Council on Foreign Relations’ website.
The post How powerful is France’s president? Here’s why the 2017 election matters appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
President Donald Trump met Friday at the White House with an Egyptian-American charity worker who was freed after nearly three years of detention in Egypt.
Trump was directly involved in negotiations to free Aya Hijazi, 30, said White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Hijazi and her husband, Mohamed Hassanein, an Egyptian, returned to the Washington area this week.
“We are very happy to have Aya back home and it’s a great honor to have her in the Oval Office,” Trump said.
Hijazi’s brother, Basel Hijazi, also attended the White House meeting, along with Trump aides Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and Dina Powell.
Earlier this week, a court acquitted Hijazi of charges of child abuse that were widely dismissed as bogus by human rights groups and U.S. officials. She and her husband had established a foundation to aid street children in 2013, but were arrested along with several others in 2014.
Her case was on the agenda when Trump met this month with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
Details of their arrival were first reported by The Washington Post. Their release and the freedom of four other humanitarian workers were negotiated by Trump and White House aides, and Trump sent a U.S. government aircraft to Cairo to bring them home, the Post reported.
Hijazi, a dual national, was born in Egypt and grew up in Falls Church, Virginia, a Washington suburb. She received a degree in conflict resolution from George Mason University in 2009.
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The FDA issued its strongest level of drug warnings Thursday concerning opioid pain-reliever use in children.
Medicines containing codeine and another narcotic, tramadol, will now require a label indicating that they should not be used by children under 12. For children ages 12-18, and for breastfeeding mothers, the FDA said, the use of these medications should be limited.
The finding comes after a safety review the FDA launched in 2015 to investigate the risks of these two opiate drugs. Presently, codeine is approved to treat pain and cough — including as a frequent ingredient in prescription cough syrups — and tramadol is approved to treat pain.
The analysis found that the drugs carry serious risks for patients under the age of 12, including difficulty breathing and death, and that they carry a risk for adolescents up to age 18 who have breathing troubles.
“We understand that there are limited options when it comes to treating pain or cough in children, and that these changes may raise some questions for health care providers and parents. However, please know that our decision today was made based on the latest evidence and with this goal in mind: keeping our kids safe,” said Dr. Douglas Throckmorton, the FDA’s deputy center director for regulatory programs, in a written statement.
Codeine already carries a black-box warning, which the FDA added in 2013, stating that the medication should not be used to treat a child’s pain after surgery to remove his or her tonsils. Tramadol will now also bear this warning in addition to the other new contraindications and warnings.
The warnings will only apply to prescription drugs; some products with codeine are available over the counter. The FDA is also considering other regulations that would apply to over-the-counter codeine products.
Both Health Canada and the European Medicines Agency have issued similar warnings about codeine within the past five years. Canadian regulators also recently completed a safety review for tramadol with similar findings to the FDA’s.
Unlike codeine, tramadol wasn’t FDA-approved for pediatric patients; however, in September 2015, the agency noted it was likely being used off-label in children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics encouraged doctors to stop giving codeine to children in a September 2016 report published in Pediatrics.
This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on April 20, 2017. Find the original story here.
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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration intensified its threats to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal immigration authorities, sending letters Friday to nine jurisdictions warning it would withhold coveted law enforcement grant money unless they document cooperation.
The letters went to officials in California and in major cities including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans, all places the Justice Department’s inspector general has identified as limiting the information local law enforcement can provide to federal immigration authorities about those in their custody.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has increasingly warned that the administration will punish communities that refuse to cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally.
In a statement Friday, the Justice Department said the recipients of its letters are “crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime.”
After a raid led to the arrests of 11 MS-13 gang members in California’s Bay Area “city officials seemed more concerned with reassuring illegal immigrants that the raid was unrelated to immigration than with warning other MS-13 members that they were next,” the department said.
The federal law in question says state and local governments may not prohibit police or sheriffs from sharing information about a person’s immigration status with federal authorities. Friday’s letters warn officials they must provide proof from an attorney that they are following the law or risk losing thousands of dollars in federal grant money that police agencies use to pay for anything from body cameras to bulletproof vests.
The money could be withheld in the future, or terminated, if they fail to show proof, wrote Alan R. Hanson, acting head of the Office of Justice Programs, which administers the grant program, which is the leading source of federal justice funding to state and local communities.
The targeted jurisdictions also include Clark County, Nevada; Cook County, Illinois; Miami-Dade County, Florida; and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.
They were highlighted in a May 2016 report by the Justice Department’s inspector general that found they have policies or rules that interfere with information-sharing among local law enforcement and immigration agents.
The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, for example, has a policy to decline all requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to keep a suspected deportable immigrant in its custody long enough for immigration authorities to arrest the person unless that person is charged with certain violent crimes, according to the report.
It also pointed to a Miami-Dade County rule that allows its corrections department to honor detainer requests only if ICE agrees in writing to reimburse the county for costs and only if the inmate has a prior felony conviction, among other constraints.
The Obama administration warned cities after the report’s release that they could miss out on grant money if they did not comply with the law, but it never actually withheld funds.
The grants in question are based on population and support an array of programs, technology and equipment for local law enforcement agencies, which can use the money at their discretion.
Sessions said earlier this week that sanctuary cities undermine efforts to fight violent gangs.
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WASHINGTON — Top law enforcement and intelligence officials are expected to testify next week on Capitol Hill about Russian activities to influence the U.S. presidential election.
The House intelligence committee said Friday that it had sent letters requesting FBI Director James Comey and Adm. Mike Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency, to appear at a closed hearing May 2.
The committee said it also has asked former CIA Director John Brennan, former National Intelligence Director James Clapper and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates to appear at an open hearing that same day.
Comey and Rogers testified in an open hearing late last month. At the time, Comey confirmed that the FBI was investigating whether President Donald Trump’s associates coordinated with Russian officials in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election.
The FBI is conducting a counterintelligence investigation exploring how Russia covertly sought to influence the American presidential election on Trump’s behalf. Such investigations are heavily classified and the committee asked Comey and Rogers to return to testify in a closed session.
The committee’s hearing schedule was stalled last month after Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., disclosed that U.S. spy agencies had swept up communications of Trump associates. Nunes suggested the material had been mishandled by Obama administration officials.
Nunes later acknowledged that details had been shared with him by a secret source on the White House grounds. That raised questions about whether the chairman was too close to the White House to lead an impartial inquiry.
Nunes then announced he would no longer lead the congressional investigation, while continuing to handle other aspects of his role as chairman. He blamed “left-wing activist groups” for filing ethics complaints alleging he mishandled classified information.
Two watchdog groups, Democracy 21 and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington have asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate whether Nunes disclosed classified information from intelligence reports.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children can “rest easy,” President Donald Trump said Friday, telling the “dreamers” they will not be targets for deportation under his immigration policies.
Trump, in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, said his administration is “not after the dreamers, we are after the criminals.”
The president, who took a hard line on immigration as a candidate, vowed anew to fulfill his promise to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. But he stopped short of demanding that funding for the project be included in a spending bill Congress must pass by the end of next week in order to keep the government running.
“I want the border wall. My base definitely wants the border wall,” Trump said in the Oval Office interview. Asked whether he would sign legislation that does not include money for the project, he said, “I just don’t know yet.”
Eager to start making progress on other campaign promises, Trump said he would unveil a tax overhaul package next week — “Wednesday or shortly thereafter” — that would include a “massive” tax cut for both individuals and corporations. He would not provide details of rate proposals or how he planned to pay for the package but asserted the cuts for Americans will be “bigger, I believe, than any tax cut ever.”
Trump spoke with the AP ahead of his 100th day in office.
He panned that benchmark as an “artificial” marker. Still, the White House is eager to tout progress on the litany of agenda items Trump promised to fulfill in his first 100 days, despite setbacks including a high-profile failure in repealing and replacing the current health care law.
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WASHINGTON — Hoping to spur economic growth, President Donald Trump embarked Friday on new steps to dismantle some of the tax and financial regulations established by former President Barack Obama.
Trump signed an executive order to review any major tax regulations set last year by his predecessor, as well as two memos to potentially revamp or eliminate fundamental elements of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reforms passed in the wake of the Great Recession.
“This is really the beginning of a whole new way of life that this country hasn’t seen in really many, many years,” the president said before signing the measures during his first visit to the Department of the Treasury.
The review of tax regulations could give greater leeway to companies looking to shelter income overseas, or simply seeking to reduce the time and money spent on completing personal and business tax filings.
“People can’t do their returns,” Trump said. “They have no idea what they’re doing.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a “significant” issue to be examined will be Obama’s crackdown on inversions, which are mergers that enable U.S. firms to relocate their headquarters overseas where tax rates are lower.
The review could also touch on overlapping rules designed to stop foreign-based companies from shifting their U.S. profits abroad, another Obama initiative from 2016.
The administration is also trying to pass tax reform that would reduce corporate and personal rates. Trump told The Associated Press in an interview that a plan will be released as early as Wednesday.
The two memos focus on possible adjustments to the Dodd-Frank law, which was designed to stop banks from growing “too big to fail” and requiring public bailouts.
But Trump claims the regulations have had the opposite effect, while also limiting access to credit for many Americans.
“These regulations enshrine too big to fail and encourage risky behavior,” Trump said.
One memo orders Mnuchin to review a component of the law that allows federal regulators to liquidate failing financial firms during an economic crisis if those companies are large enough that their collapse would pose a threat to the economy.
The other memo orders the Treasury to review a process that designates which non-bank firms could threaten the financial system if they fail. Critics argue this process is costly and arbitrary.
Both measures will be suspended while they’re under review.
Mnuchin said taxpayers won’t be left on the hook.
“Let me make it absolutely clear: President Trump is absolutely committed to make sure that taxpayers are not at risk for government bailouts of entities that are too big to fail,” he said.
His report will explore if it would be better to liquidate troubled financial firms through a modified form of bankruptcy.
Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said in a Friday interview with CNBC that there are aspects of the Dodd-Frank law which if taken away would have “potentially serious impacts on the economy, not immediately, but when times get tough.”
“Taking actions which remove the changes that were made to strengthen the structure of the financial system is very dangerous,” Fischer said.
Former Fed chair Ben Bernanke argued in a February blog post that there is no provision for the government to inject money into a failing firm as was done during the 2008 financial meltdown. This means that all losses would be borne by private investors.
Also, Bernanke said his experience is that financial regulators are often better equipped to respond to these emergencies than bankruptcy judges.
Mnuchin suggested Friday that it might be necessary to update bankruptcy laws to accommodate collapsing firms during an economic crisis.
AP economics writer Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.
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U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Friday the United States is “too important” of a country to reduce its role in global affairs, something President Donald Trump suggested as a candidate.
The United States’ engagement is very important “in the many situations we have around the world, be it in Syria, be it in different African contexts. The United States represents an important set of values: human rights, values relating to freedom, to democracy,” Guterres told PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff in his first television interview since becoming secretary general.
In order to fight terrorism and make sure Americans are secure, the United States must be part of “addressing the root causes of terror,” Guterres said. That means being engaged in humanitarian aid and cooperating with allies on development, he added.
The Trump administration has drawn some criticism early on for focusing on projecting military strength around the world while looking to scale back aid and development programs at the State Department. In his proposed budget, Mr. Trump called for steep funding cuts at the State Department.
But many terrorist attacks are perpetrated by homegrown extremists, Guterres said. We have to “recognize that for those societies to be harmonious, there is a lot of investment that needs to be made in social cohesion and inclusivity,” he said.
In the NewsHour interview, Guterres also touched on Syria. “The truth is that the Security Council has been now for a large period essentially divided, not only on Syria but on several other situations, and that division has led to paralysis of the capacity of the international community to come together and to push for an effective political solution in Syria.”
Guterres added that his role as secretary general — absent any military power — was to apply intense pressure on all sides to bring the years-long conflict to an end.
Guterres’ comments on Syria came roughly two weeks after the U.S. launched a cruise missile strike in Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack. The U.S. and some other countries believe the Syrian government is responsible for the attack. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied responsibility.
Watch Judy Woodruff’s full interview with Guterres in Friday’s broadcast of PBS NewsHour.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, Adam Alter, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and the author of “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology,” shares his humble opinion on our addiction to technology.
ADAM ALTER, Author, “Irresistible”: In 2004, I left my family and friends in Sydney, Australia, to begin a Ph.D. in psychology at Princeton.
I was lucky to find a group of close friends, but we were all busy, and at the end of most days, I would return to my room alone. One night, I stumbled on a primitive online slot machine game called Slots. U.S. law prohibited online gambling, so I wasn’t playing for real money, but I found the game impossible to resist.
Instead of winning money, I would win small rewards in the form of bells and flashing lights.
Bells and flashing lights may sound like trivial rewards, but, in those moments of loneliness, they scratched a psychological itch. I played so often that I started to imagine the reels on the slot machine spinning during the day.
Meanwhile, in one of my classes, we were learning about a series of experiments on isolated caged pigeons. When the birds were trained to peck a button that sometimes delivered food, but sometimes delivered nothing, they pecked the button hundreds of times, even when they were no longer hungry, because their isolation was soothed by each gamble.
This was a eureka moment for me. I was behaving a lot like these birds. Slots wasn’t nourishing, but I played for hours. My obsession lasted six months, only ending when I started dating a classmate.
I learned that addiction isn’t only about injecting a drug or playing a game compulsively. It also has to scratch a psychological itch. For me, that itch was loneliness. For someone else, it might be depression numbed with narcotics or boredom numbed with a video game.
Now, the world has changed a lot since I stopped playing Slots more than a decade ago. Many of us have those psychological itches that need scratching, from anxiety to stress to low self-esteem. And we have access to relief in the form of smartphones and tablets.
Wherever we go, those devices bring us social networks, games, e-mail, and text messages, each delivering or withholding rewards in the form of replies, shares, and likes, just as that small button did for the caged lab animals and slots did for me.
For most of us, it’s difficult to avoid the screens that deliver addictive experiences altogether, so the key is to live part of each day screen-free.
Lock your smartphone and tablet in a drawer from, say, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. You will know you’re succeeding if, for at least part of the day, you can’t tell that it’s 2017 based only on what you can see.
When you’re looking out at the ocean or standing in a forest or having a conversation with someone, it could be 2017, but it could also be 1950 or 1700.
The key is to make at least a thin slice of every day timeless.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Gerson. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson. David Brooks is away.
Welcome to you, gentlemen.
There was a special congressional election this week, Mark Shields, in Georgia, the Sixth District.
MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Really?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Really.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: My question is, the Democrats fell just short. Lessons learned, wider implications, what did you see?
MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I saw all of them.
MARK SHIELDS: The Democrat, a 30-year-old rookie with experience in public life of being a congressional aide on Capitol Hill, managed to raise over $8 million from activists around the country who are committed and his own support, and managed to get, Judy, more votes than the first five Republicans in a district that Mitt Romney won by 20 points that has been electing nothing but Republicans to Congress, including Dr. Tom Price, the secretary of HHS, by — and Newt Gingrich by substantial margins.
But he didn’t get the magic 50 percent, which in the jungle primary of Georgia, where everybody’s in it, is the magic number. But I would say it was impressive. After Kansas, what it means…
JUDY WOODRUFF: Where they had another special election.
MARK SHIELDS: Had a special election, where the Democrat didn’t win, but, again, in a district that Donald Trump had won by 23 points, he won — he lost only by seven.
MICHAEL GERSON, The Washington Post: Even more impressive, actually.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes, that’s right.
MICHAEL GERSON: Yes.
MARK SHIELDS: The Democrats, they have cut the margin. And, right now, I would say the wind is at the Democrats’ back.
What does that mean? What is the significance? The significance is this. If the Democrats do win, surprising. It would be quite surprising if they could win in Montana, quite frankly, because it’s an 11-point Republican advantage.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s another election coming up soon.
MARK SHIELDS: For Ryan Zinke’s seat.
If it does, Judy, it means they’re going to get better candidates. That’s what happens when you win special elections. You start to get — recruit better candidates for the next general election, more attractive, more appealing, more competent candidates. And the other side starts to see retirements.
Candidates in tough races decide to spend more time with their family, rather than doing a contested…
JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you see in these tea leaves?
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, it’s not unusual for this to happen.
Most presidents in their first midterms don’t do very well. But this is happening early. This is happening 90 days into a new presidency. I mean, this is supposed to be a high point of presidential influence. And what we’re seeing in both these data points is a very serious problem for Republicans.
They’re hurting in places they shouldn’t be hurting. And I think that has great significance. You know, who knows how it trends in the future, but, right now, I think Republicans are seeing alarm bells ringing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And knowing that, if the Democrats can mount strong candidates in these districts, they’re in trouble. Now, that’s — can they do that in 2018, or not?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think the prospect of winning has encouraged people to run.
I would just point out, in defense of the Sixth District, that, while Mitt Romney carried college-educated whites by 14 percent over Barack Obama in 2012, Donald Trump only carried them by four points over Hillary Clinton. And this is a district where college-educated voters are remarkably — the percentage of them is remarkably high, one of the 10 highest in the country.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Michael, you mentioned Republicans may be feeling a little nervous, the White House feeling a little nervous.
Some Republicans feeling comfortable enough to start criticizing this president. You had two Republican senators in this past week. Joni Ernst — these are sort of gentle criticisms — the senator from Iowa, came out and said the president needs to spend less time at his Mar-a-Lago resort on the weekends, more time at the White House.
And you had Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma and a few other Republicans saying the president needs to release his tax returns.
MICHAEL GERSON: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is this just the kind of typical intraparty split, or what?
MICHAEL GERSON: No, I think it means something.
Every Republican candidate has to make a Trump calibration to determine what percentage they support the president and what they don’t, depending on their districts.
Right now, there is a huge difference between a president at 60 percent and a president in the low 40s. People feel like they don’t need to explain things for him that are difficult to explain.
You watch some members, like Tom Cotton, a senator who I really like, a sharp guy, trying to defend why the president won’t release his tax returns, and looks foolish in the process.
MARK SHIELDS: Right.
MICHAEL GERSON: So, some of the cost, the intimidation factor has been reduced because of the president’s standing. And some people are just not going to put up with explaining the unexplainable.
MARK SHIELDS: I agree with Michael.
Senator Lankford of Oklahoma, this is the reddest of red states, Oklahoma. And he’s a true-blue conservative, no pun intended, he, Senator James Lankford. And he was asked about the tax returns. And his answer was, he promised he would, and, therefore, he should. I mean, it was that straightforward.
That — it’s unassailable logic that’s absolutely true. And he had — he promised a number of times that he would do so. Then he said the promise was — he, the president, said the promise was negated because he won the election.
The president today, in an Associated Press interview, said he was going to have a big, huge, wonderful tax cut bill next week. And anybody on either side of the aisle will have a tough time answering the question, if this is the proposal, what will it mean for — what will President Trump’s tax cut mean for billionaire citizen Trump’s personal taxes?
And I think that is …
JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s a question.
MICHAEL GERSON: He’s materially undermining his ability to get that legislation through the Congress because of his refusal to receive this material.
They are not going to pass, including many Republicans, a law without knowing how it benefits the president.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, as far as we know, there is no intention, is that right, on the part of the White House to — or the president to release it.
MARK SHIELDS: Judy, it’s a — I used to be a political hack. Maybe I still am.
MARK SHIELDS: But it’s a pretty safe — you have all the Cabinet officers had to provide their income information for confirmation. Wilbur Ross is a billionaire. All you have to do is run the numbers. What would the proposed tax cut mean for Wilbur Ross? What would it mean for Steve Mnuchin, the secretary of the treasury?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
MARK SHIELDS: What would it mean for any of the …
JUDY WOODRUFF: But you don’t have that information on the president.
MARK SHIELDS: For him. But it is going to put — it will increase pressure on him. It will make — it will put Republicans very much on the defensive.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Two other things.
One is, Michael, some wrinkles this week when it comes to foreign policy, defense policy, the story about the carrier group that the president said was on its way to North Korea. It turned out it was heading in the other direction. The Pentagon came back and said, well, there was a miscommunication.
And the other is, frankly, different signals coming from the Cabinet officers, from — even from the secretary of state, on Turkey and from the White House. Are these just sort of incidental things that happen, or what? How do we read all of this?
MICHAEL GERSON: No, some of it is real incompetence in the aircraft carrier circumstance, but that might not have been the White House. But it was genuine incompetence.
I look at something like the president saying that Korea was once part of China.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
MICHAEL GERSON: That is not just mispronouncing a name. That is offending a country that is our ally in the midst of a crisis. This is serious.
But there are also some tensions. There is tension here between the president’s word, ethno-nationalist, retreat from the world, and his personnel, people that he’s chosen, like McMaster and like Mattis. These are internationalists. They’re not consistent with his public voice.
So, you have those divisions within the administration. He has picked a variety of people that don’t seem to share his foreign policy vision. And that creates questions on — natural questions on the part of both friends and enemies: Who speaks for the administration, under what circumstance?
MARK SHIELDS: Thanks to the public partnership, private-public partnership, they keep track of a very interesting number.
And that is the number of Senate-confirmable important positions there are in every administration. There is 554 that the Senate has to confirm that every president appoints. As of this moment, 473 have not been appointed.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Wow.
MARK SHIELDS: I think — so, I think, Judy, what you have in part is just they’re thin, their — the level of competence, the level of trust. There is that lack of cohesiveness.
But — and Donald Trump has kind of boasted that he’s keeping people off balance. Every president, when he gets in trouble domestically or gets stalled domestically or just fails in his domestic agenda, loves to go on foreign policy, where he has a far freer rein.
And he’s not the first one to do this. But to sustain and forge and maintain a coalition, it’s based on trust. It’s based not on unpredictability or mercurial behavior. It’s based on a sense of dependability.
And we talk about the USS Carl Vinson steaming toward the Indian Ocean, when they — the Koreans were told, our allies, and the Japanese were told it was headed toward the Korean Peninsula.
And, Judy, that sends tremors, quite frankly, through our allies. And so they have more serious problems than just having egg on their face.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And they have been mocking the U.S. in China, and certainly in North Korea.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The last thing I want to ask both of you about comes out of news from FOX News Channel, Michael, that Bill O’Reilly, who was their, I guess, highest-rated news star, has left, been forced out after these allegations by a number of women about sexual harassment, and, I guess, secret, until now, payouts, payments to these women, $25 million severance, we’re told.
What does this mean in the world of media? Certainly, in the world of conservative media, it’s a big teal.
MICHAEL GERSON: Well, it’s an epic change in conservative media.
This has been the most important Republican influence, I think, bar none, over the last 15 years. FOX News has played that role for many activist Republicans. And now the brains of the operation, Ailes, and the face of the operation, O’Reilly, are gone. That’s a massive change.
It’s also an indication just — maybe one way to put it is, sometimes, conservatives need liberals. And liberals have been talking about workplace equality for a long time. And they were absolutely right.
This is a case where FOX tolerated the intolerable, and did so time after time. That’s a systemic problem. And I think they need to face that very directly.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just over 30, 40 seconds.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
Judy, I think it’s always been about power more than about sex, sexual harassment. It’s men in position of power who have had women who have been vulnerable, who have needed promotions, who have needed jobs, who have needed just sustenance.
And it’s all — and I think what we see in this, quite frankly, societally, is a revolt and a revolution. And what we saw, cable TV is about two things. It’s about eyeballs, the number of people who watch it, and it’s about dollar signs.
His eyeballs, the number of people who watched Bill O’Reilly, was still up there, but the dollar signs were hurting. Corporate sponsors were withdrawing. And it was because women, and men, too, but women led it, and they led a boycott and they led a threat.
And that, I think, can change our society for the better.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Mark Shields, Michael Gerson, thank you both.
MICHAEL GERSON: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: missing children and a racial divide.
When the Washington, D.C., Police Department tried to raise awareness about missing children and teenagers by posting their images on social media, the campaign backfired, sparking some national outrage and fears of an epidemic of missing children of color.
But the story also exposed many risks that young people face when they leave home, including exploitation and sex trafficking.
William Brangham has our report.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On a recent night in downtown Washington, D.C., a drop-in center for homeless and at-risk youth begins to fill up. There’s pizza, and games, and a movie in the back.
Gabrielle Martin is a regular in this refuge, which is run by the nonprofit Sasha Bruce Youthwork.
GABRIELLE MARTIN, Homeless Washington, D.C. Resident: I have been on my own, basically, since I was 15.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Fifteen years old?
GABRIELLE MARTIN: Mm-hmm. And now I’m 27, so I have been homeless for 12 years.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Young people here have access to food, showers and a place to relax for a few hours. Martin says this center is essential, because homeless life can be exhausting.
GABRIELLE MARTIN: It can get frustrating sometimes, like, not knowing how you’re going to eat or where you’re going to sleep the next day. Sometimes, we will just find excuses to go to the hospital, just so that we have somewhere to sleep that night, you know?
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Martin first ran away from home in high school, after coming out as gay to her disapproving parents. She says she’s struggled with drug addiction and has bounced in and out of various living situations ever since.
GABRIELLE MARTIN: If I wasn’t in the streets, I was at different friends’ houses, or I would actually date people that I knew had their own place, just so I could stay there.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That led to a pregnancy with someone she was living with.
Martin’s parents reported her missing around the time she turned 17, and up until last December, she says she was still considered a missing person by Washington, D.C., police.
GABRIELLE MARTIN: Even though I’m 27 now, I was still considered a runaway because I ran away when I was a juvenile. So, it was still in their — it’s still in their system.
WOMAN: The desperate search for missing teens in Washington, D.C.
WOMAN: Outrage about missing children in the District.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A spate of more recent cases in the nation’s capital were thrust into the spotlight last month after Washington, D.C., police, for the first time, started posting alerts about all missing children on social media.
Prior to this year, they would usually only notify the public of missing children when they suspected foul play. But after celebrities like Viola Davis and LL Cool J retweeted the alerts, the story went viral, fueling concerns that D.C. had a sudden epidemic of missing kids.
WOMAN: We can’t go nowhere by ourselves. We can’t do nothing, because we’re all just get worried about somebody trying to take us.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The story turned out to be largely overblown. Not only was there was not a spike in missing kids, but 2016 saw fewer children go missing than the year before.
However, Washington, D.C., acting Police Chief Peter Newsham doesn’t regret using social media to highlight these cases.
PETER NEWSHAM, Acting Police Chief, Washington, D.C.: It took on some legs that we hadn’t anticipated, but I do think that it was an eye-opener for a lot of people to see how many young people we do have that run away.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Newsham also says that nearly all the missing kids are located.
PETER NEWSHAM: We find 99 percent of those kids. I think the awareness that has come about as a result of this, though, is a lot of people are asking the question, why are they leaving in the first place? And the other question which is really important to get to the bottom of is, what happened to them while they were away?
DERRICA WILSON, Black and Missing Foundation: Regardless of why a child is going missing, we need to find out what are they running away from and who they’re running away to.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Derrica Wilson is the president of the Black and Missing Foundation. While she applauds D.C.’s attempt to raise awareness, she says that, for too long, the media and public officials have ignored cases of children of color going missing.
In fact, according to the FBI, while blacks make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, they make up more than 38 percent of all missing youth.
WOMAN: It’s heart-wrenchingly frustrating that we don’t have answers as to where she is right now.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For example, 8-year-old Relisha Rudd went missing in Washington in 2014. At the time, her mother begged for her daughter’s return.
SHAMIKA YOUNG, Relisha Rudd’s Mother: Come back home to your mother safely and unarmed. And I love you.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Over three years later, she’s still missing, and Wilson says Relisha Rudd never became a household name, not like Chandra Levy, or Natalee Holloway, or even the more recent case of Elizabeth Thomas, the Tennessee 15-year-old who was kidnapped by her teacher, and found yesterday.
MAN: A FOX News alert now on a nationwide manhunt coming to an end, and apparently a successful one. Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Thomas is safe.
DERRICA WILSON: This is not an epidemic that just popped up. This is something that’s been going on for quite some time. There’s a term that’s often used, which is the missing white women syndrome, where if you’re not with blonde hair and blue eyes, your story is just not sensational enough.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Even the terminology we use about missing kids needs to change, according to Robert Lowery, vice president at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. His organization no longer uses the term runaway.
ROBERT LOWERY, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: Because the moment we put on our poster that this is a runaway child, we deal with a desensitized public, a desensitized media.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Because people just think, oh, they ran away, it’s their fault in some way.
ROBERT LOWERY: This child ran away because they’re a behavioral problem. And that’s not the case.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: When she was a kid in Chicago, Tina Frundt left home after a typical teenage fight.
TINA FRUNDT, Founder, Courtney’s House: On my 14th birthday, I got mad at my parents because I couldn’t stay out past 7:00.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: She called a man who had befriended her, but he kidnapped her, took her to Cleveland and forced her to work for his grandmother, who ran a local prostitution ring.
TINA FRUNDT: He came from a family of pimps, so his grandmother is actually the one who controlled us. She used to tell me that God wanted me to be a ho, and that’s what we were put on earth for.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A year into her ordeal, the police raided the home and she was freed. While her trafficker never faced charges, she spent a year in juvenile detention. She was 15 years old.
TINA FRUNDT: And I was charged with prostitution, you know?
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: At 15?
TINA FRUNDT: Yes.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And Frundt isn’t alone. One in six children reported to a federal database that tracks those who leave home are involved in sex trafficking.
Today, she runs Courtney’s House, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that counsels young sex traffic survivors.
TINA FRUNDT: The reason why the survivors bond with me is because my story really is their story. And it happened the same way.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Gabrielle Martin says more needs to be done to prevent kids from leaving home in the first place. And she says the answer isn’t simply to publish more names on the list of kids missing in Washington, D.C.
GABRIELLE MARTIN: I know a few of those people on that list, and it’s like they’re not really missing persons. They’re people who just chose to move on, because what they left behind sucked.
Like, I think people don’t really care about kids that are in the system, and that’s what makes us — that’s what makes us choose to run away.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Since the beginning of the year, more than 700 young people have been reported missing in Washington, D.C. Sixteen of those cases remain open.
The city announced more police officers are being assigned to these cases, and it’s creating a task force to address the factors driving kids to leave home in the first place.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m William Brangham in Washington, D.C.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to my interview with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
He took office on January 1, after a decade as head of the U.N.’s Refugee Agency.
I sat down with him this afternoon for his first American television interview since becoming secretary-general. We spoke at the World Bank here in Washington, where he is attending the annual meeting of the bank and International Monetary Fund.
Mr. Secretary-General, thank you for talking with us.
ANTONIO GUTERRES, United Nations Secretary-General: Pleasure.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You were at the White House earlier today. You met briefly with President Trump. You also spent some time with the national security adviser, H.R. McMaster.
What did you discuss?
ANTONIO GUTERRES: Well, we discussed, of course, the problems of the world, and especially how the U.N. and the U.S. can cooperate better.
It is, for me, clear that the world needs a United States that is engaged in security issues, in development issues, in human rights issues. The contribution of the United States for global affairs is absolutely crucial. And the cooperation with the U.N. is very important from our perspective.
And I presume the U.N. can also be very useful to the United States, especially if we will be able, as I strongly intend, to have a more dynamic, more reformed, more nimble U.N.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I ask because we have been hearing — we know that this — because this president has said so, he has concerns that the U.N. and other international organizations have already gotten a lot of support from the U.S., and now may be a good time for the U.S. to pull back, and to pull back in foreign aid, in humanitarian aid.
How concerned are you that they may do that?
ANTONIO GUTERRES: Well, he also said that the U.N. has a lot of potential. I think it’s my role to try to prove that that potential can be translated into reality.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you do that?
ANTONIO GUTERRES: Well, we need to be able to demonstrate that what we do in today’s world, in humanitarian aid, the enormous effort to minimize the tragic situations that we see all over the world, I think, without the U.N., people would suffer much more, and the situation would be much more terrible.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But this is a president who has spoken about pulling back, pulling the U.S. back from the rest of the world, except maybe, now we see, in a military sense. Are you worried about that?
ANTONIO GUTERRES: I think the U.S. is too important for the U.S. to be possible to pull back.
I think that it’s very important to have the United States’ engagement in many situations we have around the world, be it in Syria, be it in the African context.
The United States represents an important set of values, human rights, values related to freedom, to democracy. And so the foreign policy engagement of the United States is a very important guarantee that those values can be properly pursued.
And, in that regard, the cooperation between the U.S. and U.N. is absolutely essential for those values to be preserved in our world.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But are you not at all concerned about cuts in U.S. contributions to the United Nations and to the other U.N. agencies?
ANTONIO GUTERRES: Well, I hope those cuts will not materialize.
And I hope that we — we need to do better and to do more. And we need to be able also to be more cost-effective. And we are ready to discuss with the United States how to make our work more able to correspond also to what it is the aspiration of the American people.
But it is my deep belief that when a country is so concerned — there are so strong reasons to be concerned with global terrorism, with the security of the American people — that it is very important to recognize that that is not possible to guarantee if, at the same time, the country is not very active in addressing the root causes of terror.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, you mentioned terrorism. You mentioned security.
There is focus today on Paris. They’re calling it a terrorist attack. There’s every reason to believe this is going to raise concerns in leading up to the French elections this weekend, pushing the — what is already an anti-foreigner sentiment to be even stronger.
As someone who heads the preeminent international organization, the U.N., how concerned are you about that?
ANTONIO GUTERRES: I was — for 10 years, I was the United Nations high commissioner for refugees.
And I always fought for the possibility for those that flee conflict in desperate situations to have access to international protection. That is absolutely crucial. It’s an essential democratic value.
What I think it’s important to recognize in today’s world is that all of our societies are multiethnic, multi-religious and multicultural. And that is a positive thing. That’s a richness, and also strength.
But we also have to recognize that, for those societies to be harmonious, there is a lot of the investment that needs to be made in social cohesion and inclusivity.
But the important thing to recognize, and particularly Europe, most of the terrorist attacks are not done by people that came from the outside. They are homegrown.
And I think, in North America, both in Canada and the United States, it has been much easier for communities to live together than in several European countries.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So much to ask you about, Mr. Secretary-General.
One thing I don’t want to leave out, of course, is Syria. People look at the U.N. The U.N. has been involved in trying to find peace in Syria. It hasn’t happened. There are critics saying the Security Council is paralyzed, hasn’t been able to move on Syria. There’s a very critical story coming out of The New York Times over the weekend looking at the failure of the U.N., the U.N. system, to be able to deal with something like Syria.
How do you look at Syria? How do you see the responsibility of the U.N. there?
ANTONIO GUTERRES: With peace about security, there is a central body. And that body is the Security Council.
It is the Security Council that has the responsibility to preserve peace and to address the situations of conflict. The truth is that the Security Council has been, now for a large period, essentially divided, not only on Syria, on several other situations. And that division has led to paralysis of the capacity of the international community to come together and to push for an effective political solution in Syria.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, what can be done about it?
ANTONIO GUTERRES: Now, it’s high time for all those that have an influence on the parties with the conflict to understand that it is in the interest of everybody to put an end to this conflict.
But this kind of persuasion, this kind of intense pressure, I believe it’s my duty to do, even if I recognize that the contradictions and the different perceptions of interest that exist are making it very difficult.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, this is clearly a priority for you?
ANTONIO GUTERRES: It is a priority for me. To see these people that has been so hospitable to others now suffering so much, and being rejected also in so many parts of the world, it really breaks my heart.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Two other things I want to ask you about.
One is the reports recently building on previous reports about U.N. peacekeepers in different parts of the world being guilty of the worst kind of sexual abuse, sexual assault on vulnerable people, women, children, boys, girls.
Now that this is coming into the open, what is the responsibility of the U.N. to make sure this doesn’t happen again, and are people being held accountable for it?
ANTONIO GUTERRES: Well, it is a huge responsibility. And I have taken it very seriously.
One of the first reforms I presented already to the General Assembly was exactly on redesigning all our capacity to respond to sexual exploitation and abuse, and trying to create the conditions to mobilize member states to assume their responsibilities.
We — U.N., we cannot condemn a soldier to jail because of that. It must be the country to which the soldier belongs. But we need to be able to create the conditions for that to be possible. And we need to do the job ourselves of a much better protection of the victims.
We must be absolutely determined, with a zero-tolerance policy in this regard. But we also need to pay tribute to those that are sacrificing their lives to protect other lives, and that — sometimes also do not see that properly recognized.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Last question.
You were not very long ago on the African continent. We know there are four different countries experiencing famine to one degree or another, not because of a lack of food, but because of conflict. And you have spoken about this. It’s received some attention.
How do you get others to understand the problem? Because every country has a different reason for the conflict in each one. How do you get the rest of the world to pay attention, to make a difference, when people are — who don’t deserve to die are dying by the thousands and more?
ANTONIO GUTERRES: We are doing our best to raise awareness and to mobilize the international community in support to the victims of these situations.
We had recently in Oslo a conference on the Lake Chad Basin. I’m doing on Tuesday to Geneva for a conference, pledging conference, to support the victims in Yemen. We will have another conference in London on Somalia.
So, we are really trying to mobilize the international community in order to have an adequate response, knowing that that response cannot be only humanitarian. That response — as you said, when you said that the real reason for this famine is the conflict, that response needs to be political.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mr. Secretary-General, you have a full plate. And we thank you very much for talking with us today.
ANTONIO GUTERRES: It was a pleasure.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: France is on edge ahead of Sunday’s presidential election, after last night’s attack in Paris.
The vote, which features an array of candidates, is the first of two rounds. Independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron appears in the polls to hold a slight edge over Marine Le Pen. She is the leader of the far right-wing anti-immigrant National Front, and is hoping for a Trump-style win to upend the traditional establishment.
The top two vote-getters will compete in the second and final round on May 7.
From Paris, special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Heavily armed police were patrolling the Champs Elysees this morning in a high-profile show of force. Others carried flowers to honor a fallen colleague, providing a stark contrast on the opposite side of the grandest of Parisian boulevards.
At the place where the officer was killed, union official Denis Jacob had this message.
DENIS JACOB, French police union (through interpreter): Society mustn’t fall into a mass psychosis. People shouldn’t be paranoid that someone can come behind their back and kill them.
MALCOLM BRABANT: This shooting is the latest in a series of terrorist attacks in France over the past couple of years. It began with the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, and then, on November the 13th, with the shootings at the Bataclan music club and across Paris, and then in July last year in Nice, when there was the truck massacre.
The death toll over the past couple of years is around the 230 mark. There may only have been a handful of casualties last night, but the timing of this shooting could not have been more significant.
Political analyst Jean-Yves Camus doesn’t believe the attack will drastically impact the outcome of Sunday’s vote, but has this proviso:
JEAN-YVES CAMUS, Political Analyst: If there’s going to be a benefit, certainly, Marine Le Pen will benefit from the fact that this was a jihadi attack, that, apparently, what we know this morning, the guy came from Belgium or was a Belgian citizen. So, she will say, I want to bring back borders.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Immigration control is Marine Le Pen’s signature message. She has sanitized the party in recent years to broaden its mainstream appeal. She replaced her nationalist father as leader, expelled him from the party for his racist and anti-Semitic statements, and she watered down the Front’s extreme right-wing tendencies.
MARINE LE PEN, National Front Presidential Candidate (through interpreter): I’m telling you that what’s at stake on Sunday, and I have repeated it tirelessly over the campaign because I believe it. It is civilization. On Sunday, the choice is simple: either a France reborn, or a France that founders. I’m telling you that I intend to protect you.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But as this brief protest demonstrates, Marine Le Pen’s detractors regard her as the most divisive of political leaders. They abhor her attempts to wrap herself in the flag.
MARINE LE PEN (through interpreter): I love France. I love it from the bottom of my heart, from the bottom of my soul. I am a woman, and, as such, I feel with extreme violence all the restrictions of our freedom that we’re seeing within our country because of the developing Islamic fundamentalism.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Mikael Sala is on Le Pen’s campaign team.
MIKAEL SALA, Le Pen Campaign Staffer: Donald Trump was saying, we’re going to make America great again, and we’re going to make America grow again. Well, this is exactly what Marine Le Pen will do for France. She will make it great again. And the French, they really aspire to that. They want France to be great again, and they feel in their gut that Marine Le Pen is that person.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The potential impact of Le Pen’s policies would be felt most keenly in Barbes, a Parisian district dominated by immigrants. France has nine million people living beneath the poverty line, and this market represents a snapshot.
Habiba Belhout, a Muslim, supports the Socialist candidate who’s trailing in fifth place. She is concerned by Le Pen’s rhetoric.
HABIBA BELHOUT (through interpreter): Well, she’s a racist, first of all. It really gives the impression that we’re going decades back, back to 1939 to 1945. She talks about the Muslims, about immigration, when there’s so much more. more problems than that to deal with.
And, yesterday, I heard her say she was the only woman candidate who defends women. Well, I’m sorry, but she doesn’t represent me at all.
MALCOLM BRABANT: According to opinion polls, the current front-runner is Emmanuel Macron, who abandoned the Socialists and set up his own independent party called On the Move, to attract those who yearn for a moderate middle-ground candidate.
EMILIE GRAZIANI, Macron Supporter: The main contestants in this election are either the far right or the far left. And I think that’s not what we want in France. We don’t want a racist, nor a communist president for France. And I think there are solutions other than extreme solutions for the country. I’m pro-European and I’m for progressive solutions for my country.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Macron is a 39-year-old former investment banker, and reputedly a millionaire. As a former economy minister in the Socialist government, he’s promising to simultaneously reduce unemployment, while removing 120,000 civil servants.
EMMANUEL MACRON, On The Move Candidate (through interpreter): In France, in this wounded country, in this weary country, we don’t want tomorrow to be like yesterday. And I’m making a commitment before you here this afternoon. You, who are the living part of France, the beating heart of France, we will give France back its optimism, its faith in the future.
FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Hello.
EMMANUEL MACRON: Hello, Mr. President. How are you?
MALCOLM BRABANT: And Macron got an unusual boost yesterday before the attack: a call from former President Barack Obama, which Macron quickly tweeted out.
FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The main message I have is to wish you all the best in the coming days.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Former conservative Prime Minister Francois Fillon could be forgiven for looking enviously at Macron’s poll numbers. Fillon was once regarded as the favorite to become president, but his popularity slumped after he was placed under investigation for misuse of public funds.
But analysts believe the shooting might help him make a comeback. In France, there are normally two presidential election rounds. The two leading candidates from the first round contest the second.
For teacher Veronique Dadou, her main concern is the future of her students, which is why she has turned to the hard-left candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon, who has had an unexpected surge in popularity.
VERONIQUE DADOU (through interpreter): The one thing that blocks everything else is unemployment, and that has a direct impact on the young people, because they’re the ones who are prevented from accessing a decent, proper social life. Their personal development, everything’s on hold for them because of that.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But this Melenchon rally earlier in the week was overshadowed by news that the security services had arrested two Islamists in Marseille who were allegedly planning an attack on one of the campaigns.
JEAN-LUC MELENCHON, Hard-left Presidential Candidate (through interpreter): We are not afraid, and, even tonight, we are demonstrating this. Let’s have even more debate, respectful debate, but debate nonetheless, to show that nothing will conquer our democracy, and that criminals can do nothing against it. The French people are free.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The Le Pen camp plays up similarities with the Trump campaign, but according to analyst Jean-Yves Camus, Americans should be wary.
JEAN-YVES CAMUS: The impact for the United States will be bad, because Marine Le Pen belongs to those kind of radical right parties which are highly prejudiced against the United States. This is because she doesn’t want the United States to have a prominent say in international affairs. She wants to opt out of NATO. She wants to end free trade.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Sunday’s first round is considered to be the most unpredictable election in decades. A third of all voters are said to be undecided.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Malcolm Brabant in Paris.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: As we reported earlier, the White House announced today that efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will continue this weekend, ahead of Congress’ return to Washington.
Joining me to talk about the latest developments is White House correspondent John Yang.
So, John, Congress coming back next week. Before they left, there was talk of trying to resurrect some sort of deal on health care reform. Where does it stand?
JOHN YANG: Well, Judy, talking to senior White House officials today, there is a glimmer, a glimmer of optimism that their efforts to bring together the conservative and moderate factions of the House Republicans has led to language that just may satisfy both sides.
They hope to present that language to lawmakers on a conference call, a House Republican conference call tomorrow to get a better sense of where things stand.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, John, there seems to be a little bit of a — if not a misunderstanding, at least a back and forth on the timetable here. On the one hand, they seem to be in a hurry to get it done. On the other hand, we just heard the president saying, well, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s next week.
JOHN YANG: Well, that’s right.
You heard the president said that. And Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary said, if we get it done next week, great. If we don’t, no problem. We will get it done when we have the votes.
But there are others, other officials in this White House who would love it if they could get a vote before that symbolic 100 days of the administration are up.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, John, one other thing that is on the agenda next week is funding for the government. The temporary arrangement they had runs out at the end of the week. Where do they stand on that?
JOHN YANG: Well, this afternoon, OMB Director Mitt Mulvaney had a conference call directing department heads to prepare for a possible government showdown, but he and other White House officials say they are confident it will not happen, that the government funding will continue one way or another.
But they also — a senior administration official also says that these talks could tell us a lot about the next four years and the willingness of both sides to compromise — Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right. Well, we will be watching. John Yang at the White House, thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Investigators in France are trying to piece together what sparked Thursday’s deadly assault in Paris. A gunman shot a police officer to death and wounded two more, before being killed himself.
Hari Sreenivasan reports on the day’s developments.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Masked police descended this morning on a Paris suburb, home of the suspect in the deadly attack on the Champs Elysees. Prosecutors identified him as Karim Cheurfi, a French citizen, and said he carried a note in support of the Islamic State. Cheurfi had served time for trying to kill two other officers in 2001.
FRANCOIS MOLINS, Paris Prosecutor (through interpreter): All the way through his period of imprisonment, which lasted about 14 years, he didn’t show any signs of radicalization or signs of conversion.
HARI SREENIVASAN: He was detained again in February for threatening police, but later released.
Then came the attack on the Champs Elysees. The famed boulevard was shut down for hours. Near the scene today, witnesses described the chaos.
WOMAN (through interpreter): I can tell you that I was very scared. People started talking and going crazy. There was a wave of panic that came over everything.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All of this just two days before polls open in the presidential election.
The prime minister sought to calm fears.
BERNARD CAZENEUVE, Prime Minister, France (through interpreter): The government is completely mobilized. More than 50,000 policemen will be mobilized to guarantee the peace.
HARI SREENIVASAN: President Trump weighed in on Twitter, predicting the attack — quote — “will have a big effect on the presidential election.”
Later, he told the Associated Press it will probably help far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Hari Sreenivasan.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We will have a full report on the impending French election later in the program.
In the day’s other news: The Justice Department formally notified nine state and local jurisdictions that they will lose some federal grant money over so-called sanctuary cities. Letters sent out today demand proof that the jurisdictions are not sheltering undocumented immigrants. The letters went to New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami and the state of California, among others.
President Trump today ordered a review of major tax and financial regulations put in place under President Obama. He signed directives to look at reforms imposing greater oversight of large financial institutions. He also wants to review corporate tax rules on sheltering income overseas.
The president also promised today that he will have a — quote — “big announcement” on a tax reform package next Wednesday. That would be just before his 100th day in office. At the same time, the White House signaled that a new effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. But as he left the Treasury Department, Mr. Trump was less definite about the timing of that.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No particular rush, but we will see what happens. But health care is coming along well. Government is coming along really well. Lot of good things are happening.
Thank you, folks.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, no, it doesn’t matter if it’s next week. Next week doesn’t matter.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Earlier, on Twitter, the president dismissed any criticism of how much he has actually done so far. He wrote — quote — “No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, it has been a lot. Media will kill.”
The U.S. Treasury Department has denied ExxonMobil’s request that one of its projects be exempted from sanctions imposed on Russia, so the company can drill for oil in the Black Sea. The joint venture has been halted since the U.S. imposed the sanctions for Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was Exxon’s CEO back when the deal was signed. He recused himself from considering this waiver issue.
South Korea said today that it’s on high alert again ahead of a military holiday in North Korea and a possible nuclear test. At the same time, President Trump pressed China in a new tweet. He wrote: “China is very much the economic lifeline to North Korea, so, if they want to solve the problem, they will.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry insisted that Beijing is enforcing a ban on coal imports from Pyongyang.
LU KANG, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman (through interpreter): The Chinese Customs and Ministry of Commerce have issued the notice. As for some reports saying North Korean coal ships are docking in Chinese ports, due to humanitarian considerations for those crew members, we cannot simply leave them drifting on the sea.
JUDY WOODRUFF: North Korea said overnight that the situation is — quote — “extremely perilous” because of what it called madcap American nuclear war maneuvers.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says there is no doubt that Syria still has chemical weapons. In Israel today, he warned the Syrians would be ill-advised to use such weapons again. The U.S. attacked a Syrian air base after a poison gas incident this month.
Back in this country, the state of Arkansas is planning three more executions next week, after it carried out its first one since 2005. Ledell Lee was put to death just before midnight for a 1993 murder. The execution came despite a flurry of legal challenges. Protests continued last night outside the governor’s mansion.
The power went out across a wide swathe of San Francisco today. About 90,000 customers were affected, with people trapped in elevators, and traffic backed up at stoplights that didn’t work. Utility officials blamed a catastrophic failure at a substation that led to a fire at that site. Late today, they were still working to get electricity restored.
A federal judge in Detroit has ordered Volkswagen to pay a criminal penalty of $2.8 billion for cheating on diesel emissions tests. The order today came as part of a plea deal. The case involved nearly 600,000 diesel cars sold in the U.S.
And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost about 31 points to close at 20547. The Nasdaq fell six points, and the S&P 500 slipped seven. For the week, the Dow gained half-a-percent, the Nasdaq rose nearly 2 percent, and the S&P 500 was up almost 1 percent.
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WASHINGTON — A Democratic privacy advocate and libertarian-minded Republican are asking the nation’s top intelligence official to release more information about the communications of American citizens swept up in surveillance operations.
The request by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky adds to a chorus of calls for more transparency about how intelligence agencies use and share communications to, from and about Americans.
The two want to know more about how agencies handle these communications as well as data about the number of Americans affected. They also want to make public the procedures on how intelligence about members of Congress is disseminated.
There are still “holes in the public’s understanding of how U.S. person information — collected pursuant to different authorities and by different agencies — is handled,” they wrote.
The senators’ Friday letter to Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, comes as lawmakers gear up for debate over the reauthorization of one of the government’s key surveillance programs, which expires at the end of the year. Programs authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act target foreigners, but domestic communications are sometimes vacuumed up as well. They were first revealed to the public by Edward Snowden, who leaked files from the National Security Agency.
Critics who want the law reformed worry that agencies use the foreign intelligence collection tool too loosely and sometimes in connection with domestic law enforcement investigations.[Watch Video]
Intelligence officials have tried to allay concerns saying that any domestic communications collected are incidental to the targeting of foreigners.
They say Section 702 allows the government to target non-U.S. citizens reasonably believed to be located outside the United States and bars the government from targeting a foreigner to acquire the communications of an American or someone in the U.S. But they say intelligence agencies are authorized under Section 702 to query communications made with Americans in certain, approved cases.
Lawmakers seeking reforms could gain momentum from the investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election. President Donald Trump recently made an unsubstantiated claim that his conversations were wiretapped. There also is controversy surrounding intercepts that revealed former national security adviser Mike Flynn’s communications with the Russian ambassador.
The House intelligence committee probing Russian activities made a request for similar information earlier this year.
The House committee has scheduled a closed-door hearing for Tuesday with FBI Director James Comey and Adm. Mike Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency. That same day, former CIA Director John Brennan, former National Intelligence Director James Clapper and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates are to testify at an open hearing.
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Thousands of protesters joined scientists, researchers, engineers and mathematicians in demonstrations around the world on Saturday for the March for Science.
The march was planned in January to coincide with Earth Day and in conjunction with educational and scientific institutions in a call for sound federal science policy and to draw attention to a slew of issues — from climate change to technological advances and public funding for science — that have raised concerns in the scientific community.
“People are worried about scientific integrity being eroded or diminished,” said Valorie Aquino, co-chair of the national March for Science effort. “I think on the top of the list has been a sense of urgency [to defend] scientific integrity and having science at the table in making policy decisions that affect all of our daily lives.”
Organizers said the event, planned for hundreds of cities in the U.S. and around the world, would remain non-partisan, though some participants viewed the march as a way to challenge cuts proposed by the Trump administration that target science programs.
“The March for Science could not come at a more consequential moment,” the March for Science organizers wrote in a statement. “The science community faces the most anti-science budget proposed by a U.S. Administration in over 30 years. If enacted, the immediate and long-term repercussions to prosperity, health, and safety of Americans could be severe.”
Kathleen Rogers, president of the advocacy organization Earth Day Network, said her group decided to help organize the March for Science soon after the Women’s March in January.
“The important thing is really communicating the value and integrity of science,” she said.
Mutale Nkonde, the co-chair of March for Science in New York City, said some of the 100 organizations and 25,000 people who have committed to participating in the New York City march have expressed frustration over Trump’s proposed cuts to the EPA and the National Endowment for the Arts. Trump’s executive order on immigration, which temporarily banned immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries and was blocked in federal court, also “made people nervous” and affected scientists working in the U.S., she said.
Rush Holt, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said the march on Saturday is not an “orchestrated political attack.”
“It’s more a cry by scientists saying for too long we’ve [been] taken for granted and that everybody understands just how important science is for their lives,” he said.
The largest march on Saturday was anticipated to take place in Washington, D.C., where tens of thousands of concerned scientists, advocacy groups and members of the general public gathered in wet weather to listen to a host of speakers before marching through the streets of the nation’s capital.
Among those who spoke to the crowd was scientist, educator and television personality Bill Nye, who gave an impassioned address about the role of science in society.
“We are marching today to remind people everywhere, our lawmakers especially, of the significance of science for our health and prosperity,” he said to a cheering crowd. “Our numbers here today show the world that science is for all.”
Others held teach-ins or took to the streets, walking along Constitution Avenue before meeting up at the Washington Monument, with many people traveling to the march from out of town.
Kimberly Fischer, 51, a librarian from Wilson, North Carolina, said she decided to attend the march with her daughter to express how important science is to her family and for generations to come.
“Science is crucial to the future,” she said. “Without a good handle on science, we’re not moving forward, we’re moving backward.”
New York City also drew thousands of people to a march that began at Central Park, continued past Trump Tower and ended near Times Square. Throngs of demonstrators carried signs and chanted slogans that emphasized the importance of science in the bustling city.
Elle Barnes, 23, a PhD student at Fordham University who studies amphibian wildlife, said she decided to march to draw attention to “how important science is.”
“I don’t want to say it’s just the Trump administration,” she said. “Science can be bipartisan. But it’s really important to digest what you hear in the news and to think critically about it.”
Elizabeth Fritsch, 29, an actor living in Harlem, said she chose to march because of her concerns that money from lobbyist firms and special interest groups too often becomes entangled with science policy. “We have to get politics out of science,” she said.
Similar scenes played out around the country and the world, in cities like Boston, Berlin, Seattle, Oklahoma City, Toronto, Trinidad and Tokyo. Organizers said more than 600 satellite marches would be taking place in total, with the bulk held in the U.S.
Aquino, who is also an anthropologist at the University of New Mexico, said she saw the idea for the march grow from a few thousand people on social media to tens of thousands of committed participants over the last several months.
She said her group also plans to carry its message beyond Saturday, starting with a national “week of action” in late April which will include calls and emails to politicians around the country to stress the importance of science.
“It’s been years in the making seeing an erosion of trust in the scientific community,” she said. “We want people who march for science to make sure their leaders know why.”
Andrew Wagner contributed reporting.
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HOUSTON — Young immigrants protected by executive action from deportation say they won’t “rest easy,” even if President Donald Trump says they should.
Several “dreamers” told The Associated Press on Friday that they were not comforted by Trump’s pledge, in an AP interview, that he wouldn’t target the almost 800,000 people brought to the U.S. as children and living in the country illegally under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program enacted by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Trump told the AP that his administration is “not after the ‘dreamers,’ we are after the criminals.”
“Here is what they can hear: The ‘dreamers’ should rest easy,” Trump said. “OK? I’ll give you that. The ‘dreamers’ should rest easy.”
It was Trump’s latest statement expressing support for immigrants in the program, even as his administration broadly cracks down on illegal immigration. U.S. officials have promised to speed up and widen deportations, and threatened local governments that don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents.
“Obviously actions speak louder than words,” said Saba Nafees, a 24-year-old ‘dreamer’ who is a graduate student at Texas Tech University. “His actions are pretty terrifying. What I’ve seen across the country, it’s unbearable for all of these families.”
Juan Escalante, a 28-year-old who came to the U.S. from Venezuela at age 11, said he was “not comforted by the president’s words.”
“He has said he will treat us with ‘heart’ and to ‘rest easy,’ and it just seems so general,” Escalante said.[Watch Video]
Some young immigrants pointed to the case of Juan Manuel Montes, a 23-year-old whose attorneys say is the first person enrolled in the DACA program to be deported. After initially denying Montes was covered by DACA, federal authorities said this week that Montes had violated the conditions of the program.
Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, which is representing Montes, said Trump was trying to have it both ways.
“This is a president who is saying, ‘I love dreamers and I care about them as children,’ and yet is turning around and traumatizing them and their families,” she said.
The program granted work authorization to certain immigrants brought to the U.S. before their 16th birthday. The young people who benefit are called ‘dreamers’ because the program mimics versions of the so-called DREAM Act, which would have provided legal status for young immigrants but was never passed by Congress.
Trump has left Obama’s program in place, and he said before his January inauguration that people protected under DACA would “end up being very happy.” A month later, he called the program “a very difficult thing for me as I love these kids.”
Rafael Robles, 26, and two of his siblings have relied on the program for years to go to school and work in the U.S. Their parents brought them to the Chicago area from Mexico as young children on visitor visas, which they overstayed.
“In a weird way it does put my mind at ease because at least there is something to bring forward if he were to change his mind,” said Robles, who works at a real estate development company. “It sort of sends a message that they are having conversations about ‘dreamers.'”
But Greisa Martinez, an immigrant in the program who is also advocacy director for the group United We Dream, said Trump could push Congress to give ‘dreamers’ permanent legal status if he wanted.
“Just telling me that he loves me and wants me to rest easy doesn’t make me be able to be any more safe or more secure in my home, or tell my mother that everything is going to be OK,” Martinez said.
AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace and Associated Press reporters Sophia Tareen in Chicago; Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami; and David Porter in Newark, New Jersey, contributed to this report.
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