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- 04/28/17--12:29: _This new book explo...
- 04/28/17--12:44: _What we learned fro...
- 04/28/17--13:10: _WATCH: Trump signs ...
- 04/28/17--13:22: _NSA to stop collect...
- 04/28/17--13:41: _Column: How Trump r...
- 04/28/17--13:50: _Rising numbers of r...
- 04/28/17--14:55: _North Korea test-fi...
- 04/28/17--15:20: _A self-made success...
- 04/28/17--15:25: _How high-tech repli...
- 04/28/17--15:30: _Shields and Brooks ...
- 04/28/17--15:35: _A case about citize...
- 04/28/17--15:40: _Pope Francis brings...
- 04/28/17--15:45: _Tensions rising, wh...
- 04/28/17--15:50: _News Wrap: Congress...
- 04/28/17--16:37: _‘Are we a red state...
- 04/29/17--06:16: _Experts: Long road ...
- 04/29/17--07:40: _Trump to NRA: ‘You ...
- 04/29/17--08:46: _GOP health plan for...
- 04/29/17--09:30: _Samantha Bee’s show...
- 04/29/17--10:13: _Seven unusual trend...
- 04/28/17--12:44: What we learned from Trump’s first 100 days with Congress
- 04/28/17--13:10: WATCH: Trump signs order aimed at opening Arctic drilling
- 04/28/17--13:22: NSA to stop collecting some internet communications
- 04/28/17--14:55: North Korea test-fires missile from western region, South Korea says
- 04/28/17--15:20: A self-made success? Let’s kill that myth
- 04/28/17--15:25: How high-tech replicas can help save our cultural heritage
- 04/28/17--15:30: Shields and Brooks on Trump’s 100-day performance
- 04/28/17--15:45: Tensions rising, what’s U.S.’s next move on North Korea?
- 04/29/17--06:16: Experts: Long road ahead for Trump offshore drilling order
- 04/29/17--07:40: Trump to NRA: ‘You have a true friend in the White House’
- 04/29/17--08:46: GOP health plan for pre-existing conditions spawns worries
- 04/29/17--09:30: Samantha Bee’s show briefly upstages correspondents’ dinner
- 04/29/17--10:13: Seven unusual trends taking hold since Trump’s inauguration
Artists and students Jeana Lindo and Richard Bryan grew up longing for more representation of themselves in the cartoons and films they watched, and video games they played. Most of what they saw featured white protagonists and ‘good guys,’ whereas black men and boys were portrayed as criminals or thugs.
In their new anthology, “Black Boy Feelings,” Jeana Lindo and Richard Bryan are looking to give readers a look into the everyday lived experiences, thoughts, memories and feelings of black men, fighting the kind of stereotypical portrayals that make it hard for black boys to express their feelings and see themselves as more.
They began the project by spreading flyers on the street and on social media that asked for submissions relating to black boyhood, not knowing what kind of responses they’d receive. When asked what the majority of reactions to the project were, Lindo said, “people were really grateful”; most submissions started with a thanks.
In the book’s introduction, Bryan writes that “growing up as a black boy, you see a lot of things that other people don’t see and feel a lot of things that other people don’t feel. A lot of things are expected of you. A lot of things hurt you.” Because of “archaic and poorly explained principles of black masculinity,” he writes, “we don’t even talk about most of it.”
Bryan told NewsHour that as a fan of anime and Manga, even today he sees a lot of black characters being portrayed as “borderline minstrelly” — a reference to early American minstrel shows in which which entertainers would dress in blackface and lampoon black people. “We’re trying to combat this massive systematic wackness” in the anthology, he said, as an avenue for black male expression.
Lindo said she hopes this book will reach many different kinds of people, and allow for a better future in which “boys are more honest with everyone and especially themselves.”
Below, read some of the submissions — which range from photos to personal memories to original artwork and poems — that are included in “Black Boy Feelings.”
The post This new book explores black men’s feelings on masculinity and boyhood appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Political relationships in Washington take work. And time. Each Congressional session lasts two years — and each president only has a guaranteed four years in the White House, which makes the first three-and-a-half months of the relationship crucial.
So what did the first 100 days of President Donald Trump and the 115th Congress show us?
They want to get along
It was just more than six months ago that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) decided he could no longer defend then-candidate Donald Trump. Around the same time, a handful of other GOP members of Congress openly called for Mr. Trump to step aside as presidential candidate. Fast forward to February, when Ryan openly praised Mr. Trump’s cabinet picks and called the president a “chairman … like other successful presidents.”
Up and down the GOP hierarchy in Congress, members have generally withheld their fire against the president and signaled they would like to get along. Senators have suspended rules to back Trump’s cabinet nominees, and criticized Democrats as obstructionists.
For his part, the president has reversed course as well, moving on from the time he thanked Ryan’s primary opponent to taking a glittering photo with the speaker on Inauguration Day Eve. He has also mounted a massive presidential charm offensive, with bowling, dinners and lunches.
But Trump and GOP leaders still have serious differences
Publicly, Congressional Republicans are trying to smooth over or flat-out ignore their differences with the White House. But they remain significant. Consider this list of top priorities in Trump’s first 100 days: the travel ban, the border wall, NAFTA and the president’s budget, including proposed cuts to foreign aid, cuts to the State Department and cuts to Appalachia. On each of those issues, Trump faces significant disagreement from Congress.
The White House wants respect
A strange thing happened this week. On Wednesday, 100 senators boarded buses at the Capitol to travel to the White House for a briefing on North Korea. This was highly unusual and, some senators said publicly, completely unnecessary; the briefing team planned to come to the Capitol later that same day to brief House members.
Whatever the exact reasons for the field trip, the visual message on the evening news was obvious: Senators had to go the White House, not vice versa. It was the latest evidence that Trump operates in a world where optics like this matter. One problem? The House and Senate each fiercely guard their status as equal branches of government, a dynamic that could lead to issues with the White House down the road.
Speaker Ryan does not comment on Trump’s tweets. But Ryan’s above-the-fray approach to Trump’s Twitter habits can’t hide the fact that when it comes to messaging, Trump regularly goes in his own direction — one that’s often opposite, or at least not in line with, Republicans in Congress.
That began just days ahead of the new Congress, when Trump tweeted his displeasure with a House GOP bill aimed at reshaping the chamber’s ethics review process. Or consider the health care collapse. Trump told Republicans that if a bill couldn’t get enough support, he would move on from the issue altogether.
The GOP moved on, for a few days, until the White House indicated it might want to work with Democrats instead. The back-and-forth has continued every week since, signaling that these types of messaging differences could become a basic feature of Trump’s relationship with Congress.
See more coverage of Trump’s first 100 days in office here.
The post What we learned from Trump’s first 100 days with Congress appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Working to dismantle his predecessor’s environmental legacy, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday aimed at expanding drilling in the Arctic and opening other federal areas to oil and gas exploration.
With one day left to rack up accomplishments before he reaches his 100th day in office, Trump signed an order reversing some of former President Barack Obama’s restrictions and instructing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review a plan that dictates which federal locations are open to offshore drilling.
It’s part of Trump’s promise to unleash the nation’s energy reserves in an effort to reduce reliance on foreign oil and to spur jobs, regardless of fierce opposition from environmental activists who say offshore drilling harms whales, walruses and other wildlife and exacerbates global warming.
“This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job-creating energy exploration,” Trump said during a White House signing ceremony. “It reverses the previous administration’s Arctic leasing ban and directs Secretary Zinke to allow responsible development of off-shore areas that will bring revenue to our treasury and jobs to our workers.”
“Today,” he said, “we’re unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying energy jobs.”
The executive order reverses part of a December effort by Obama to deem the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic Ocean and certain areas in the Atlantic as indefinitely off limits to oil and gas leasing.
It also directs Zinke to review the locations available for offshore drilling under a five-year plan Obama signed in November. The plan blocked new oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. It also stopped the planned sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska, but allowed drilling in Alaska’s Cook Inlet southwest of Anchorage.
The order could open to oil and gas exploration areas off Virginia and North and South Carolina, where drilling has been blocked for decades.
Zinke said that leases scheduled under the existing plan will remain in effect during the review, which he estimated will take several years.
The order also directs Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to conduct a review of marine monuments and sanctuaries designated over the last 10 years.
Citing his department’s data, Zinke said the Interior Department oversees some 1.7 billion acres on the outer continental shelf, which contains an estimated 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas. Under current restrictions, about 94 percent of that outer continental shelf is off-limits to drilling.
Zinke, who is also tasked with reviewing other drilling restrictions, acknowledged environmental concerns as “valid,” but he argued that the benefits of drilling outweigh concerns.
Environmental activists, meanwhile, railed against the signing, which comes seven years after the devastating 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Diana Best of Greenpeace said that opening new areas to offshore oil and gas drilling would lock the U.S. “into decades of harmful pollution, devastating spills like the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, and a fossil fuel economy with no future.”
“Scientific consensus is that the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves — including the oil and gas off U.S. coasts_must remain undeveloped if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change,” she said.
Jacqueline Savitz of the ocean advocacy group Oceana warned the order would lead to “corner-cutting and set us up for another havoc-wreaking environmental disaster” in places like the Outer Banks or in remote Barrow, Alaska, “where there’s no proven way to remove oil from sea ice.”
“We need smart, tough standards to ensure that energy companies are not operating out of control,” she said, adding: “In their absence, America’s future promises more oil spills and industrialized coastlines.”
The post WATCH: Trump signs order aimed at opening Arctic drilling appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency says it will no longer collect certain communications moving on the internet simply because they mention a foreign intelligence target.
The move is being applauded by privacy advocates.
The agency says it will now limit such collection to internet communications sent directly to or from a foreign target. The NSA says the change reduces the chance of sweeping up communications of U.S. citizens or others not involved in direct contact with a foreign intelligence target.
Concern over the incidental collection of Americans’ communications renewed this year when the Trump administration accused the intelligence community of improperly revealing the names of Americans that came up through incidental collections.
The NSA said Friday its changes were made following an in-house review.
The post NSA to stop collecting some internet communications appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
After a divisive presidential campaign brimming with anti-Muslim rhetoric and marked by an “America First” worldview, is President Trump emerging as an ally of America’s traditional Arab partners in the Middle East?
Although the potential for policy differences are high, the nexus of American-allied Arab states have largely brushed aside Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric and are focusing on the overlapping interests they see between themselves and the new White House, especially the need to contain Iranian influence and crush ISIS. While for Trump’s critics his impulsiveness makes him difficult to read, in several Arab capitals he is being increasingly viewed as a flexible dealmaker whose actions in the region can be shaped to fit their interests.
In recent weeks, leaders from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt have all visited the White House and left feeling like normal relations had been restored after years of disillusionment with former President Barack Obama. More importantly, the decision by the Trump administration to launch a cruise missile strike in Syria in response to the latest chemical weapons attack is being taken by the governments of the Arab Gulf as the first concrete overture in this rapprochement.
“It is very much a honeymoon moment,” said Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, D.C. “They think that there will be cooperation from both sides on all issues.”
In the Arab world, criticism of Trump since the election has largely faded from state-affiliated media and turned into praise, with some pundits even beginning to refer to him as “Abu Ivanka,” an informal term of endearment meaning “father of Ivanka” that denotes a certain familiarity and respect. Talk of the so-called Muslim ban has all but disappeared.
At the same time, confidence in the Trump administration has risen due to the increasing prominence of top officials like Secretary of Defense James Mattis and H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, and the marginalization or exit of polarizing figures like Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn, who once equated Islam to a cancer. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former head of oil major ExxonMobil, has had experience working with the oil producing countries of the Middle East.
“Arab rulers in general, all of them really, prefer personal diplomacy,” said Shibley Telhami, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute’s Project on U.S. relations with the Islamic World. “And they know that this president is one focused on personal diplomacy and on contacts.”
Yet the early, surface-level excitement with Trump belies a relationship that’s fraught with problems — and that could unravel in the long-term if the sides don’t agree on a host of complex issues.
The Syria strike, in particular, marked a sudden and dramatic departure for Trump, who promised as a candidate to reduce America’s exposure overseas and avoid wars in the Middle East. But it also raised numerous questions, given that the Trump administration insisted the strike was a one-off event: If Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues to bomb civilians — or use chemical weapons in the future — will Trump act again? And if not, what makes his Syria policy all that different from Obama’s?
The debate underscored another reality that could pose potential problems for Trump: America’s allies in the Middle East do not speak with one voice and their policy objectives are not identical. Nor is public opinion always in sync with the ruling governments. For example, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have clearly favored the rebels in Syria’s civil war, while Egypt has leaned towards Russia and Iran, who have backed a resolution to the war that keeps Assad in power. Despite pressure from the richer Gulf states, Egypt has also refrained from getting heavily involved with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in their war in Yemen against Iranian-backed rebels, though Egypt recently announced plans to increase its military presence there.
Moreover, on paper and likely in practice, Trump’s “America first” worldview won’t represent a sharp turn away from his predecessor’s policy of decreasing America’s footprint in the Middle East.
While a Trump doctrine on foreign policy has not been fully fleshed out, “the Trump policy in the Middle East is likely to have more continuity than change with the Obama administration, notwithstanding tremendous differences in style and temperament,” said Perry Cammack, a foreign policy specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former policy advisor to former Secretary of State John Kerry.
The quick embrace of Trump is a response in many ways to the deep distrust that built up in the Obama era, when America’s traditional Arab allies largely felt abandoned by the U.S. during the Arab Spring in 2011, increasingly frustrated with Obama’s Syria policy, and betrayed by the conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal.
The eruption of the Arab Spring reframed America’s relationship with its allies in the Middle East. Obama largely refrained from jumping to the aid of embattled regimes facing off against angry protesters. The fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt early on in the Arab Spring set the tone for what came next. The Arab Gulf, led by Saudi Arabia, was shocked that Obama did not intervene to save a longstanding, if authoritarian, friend of the U.S. and allowed Mubarak to be replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood — an Islamist group held in deep suspicion by many governments in the region as well as the U.S. (The group was democratically elected but then overthrown in a military coup in 2013).
As the upheaval spread to Syria, Obama’s unwillingness to enforce his own “redline” promise to take action if chemical weapons were used in the conflict heightened many allies’ uncertainty over their own security guarantees from the United States.
Finally, the 2015 Iran nuclear deal triggered the Sunni allies’ worst fears: that America might put their security in jeopardy for better relations with the Shi’ite Islamic Republic.
By the time Obama left office, America’s allies in the region held “a range of views, all bad, spanning from the U.S. was just checking out on the most benign end, to the U.S. was plotting with Iran against us on the more paranoid end,” Ibish said.
To add salt to their wounds, Obama derided the Saudis and their allies as “free riders” and exporters of extremism in an interview with The Atlantic, something they found deeply offensive. “There is no secret that there was kind of an exasperation with President Obama by many of the traditional partners” in the region, said Cammack.
On the campaign trail Trump also criticized “free riding” nations in international alliances. But there is a strong belief among the Gulf countries that they don’t fall in that category, given they spend tens of billions of dollars annually on American military arms and invest hundreds of billions in the U.S. economy.
As president, Trump has also taken additional steps to demonstrate his commitment in the region. Early on, he declared his intention to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and appointed David Friedman as his ambassador to Israel, a controversial pick who has openly condemned the two-state solution and given money to Jewish settlements in the West Bank. But since then, Trump has softened his approach, sending Jason Greenblatt — his special envoy for international negotiations — to the Arab League summit in Amman, Jordan last month to seek Arab input on Middle East peace efforts.
Greenblatt’s appearance at the summit was a welcome gesture in the region, and a sign of Trump’s eagerness to score a foreign policy win at a time of visible dysfunction inside his White House. Being seen as repairing relations with allies Obama had distanced (namely Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia), was an easy place for Trump to start.
For the moment, the Arab states are willing to embrace Trump in the hopes of influencing his foreign policy on the issues that matter to them most. But with divergent views on the region, and a political minefield for Trump to navigate back home, the chances of him keeping everyone happy are slim.
“There is bound to be a little disappointment there,” said Telhami, of the Brookings Institute. “At some point it will come back to haunt them.”
Omar H. Rahman is a freelance journalist and commentator. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Guardian, and Rolling Stone, among other publications. He holds a Master’s degree in political journalism from Columbia University.
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POCOMOKE CITY, Md. — Large numbers of young people who aren’t in school and don’t have a job used to be a problem that mostly afflicted America’s cities. But the share of “disconnected youth” in rural areas has soared over the past five years, overtaking the rate in urban areas and forcing state and local officials to look for new ways to help young people stay in school and get jobs.
Here in rural Worcester County, Maryland, a popular summer destination that includes Ocean City and other beach resorts, almost 25 percent of people 16 to 24 are unemployed and out of school, according to a recent state report.
That’s the highest rate in the state, higher even than in Baltimore, where about 20 percent of young people are disconnected. And it’s being felt hard in this quaint small town, where good seasonal jobs are 40 miles away and the nearest job-training program is about 25 miles away.
“Traditionally the perception has been that this is happening in urban areas and that’s where the funding and the research has taken place,” said Christina Church, a policy analyst in the Maryland Governor’s Office for Children. Areas like Worcester and nearby Caroline counties “have in some ways fallen through the cracks,” she said.
Nationwide, 4.9 million youth in all kinds of communities are disconnected, according to Measure of America, part of the nonprofit Social Science Research Council. Disconnected youth cost taxpayers as much as $93 billion a year in lost revenue and increased social service spending, according to Opportunity Nation, a coalition of nonprofits.
About 20 percent of young people in extremely rural areas — those like Worcester County with no cities larger than 10,000 people — were jobless and not in school, on average, over a five-year period, from 2010 to 2014, Measure of America said in a March report. That’s much higher than the rate for counties in urban centers (about 14 percent) or for suburban counties (12 percent).
“These vulnerable young people are cut off from the people, institutions, and experiences that would otherwise help them develop the knowledge, skills, maturity, and sense of purpose required to live rewarding lives as adults,” the Measure of America report concluded. “And the negative effects of youth disconnection ricochet across the economy, the social sector, the criminal justice system, and the political landscape, affecting us all.”
The election of President Donald Trump has drawn fresh attention to the plight of rural America.
On Wednesday, the National Governors Association called on Congress to restore funding to a federal program that provides funding to rural communities and school districts to help offset lost tax revenue from timber harvests on federal lands. Congress let the Secure Rural Schools program expire last year, and the governors said rural communities have struggled to absorb the unplanned cuts.
“We’re living now with some of the consequences of a bifurcated country,” said Patrick Carr, a Rutgers University sociologist who studies rural America. “It’s not good for America to have so many people disconnected.”
In some places, officials are taking steps to address the problem.
In California’s Silicon Valley, a partnership between Santa Clara County, the city of San Jose, and local schools and employers opened a “re-engagement center” about 18 months ago to help youth find jobs or enroll in college or high school in rural Gilroy. The distance between Gilroy and urban San Jose, about 30 miles, was an obvious problem for youth, said Nicky Ramos-Beban, interim principal for the centers.
A similar partnership called the Maine Youth Transition Collaborative is working with schools and employers to help people in foster care in rural areas stay in school or find jobs. The Connecticut Opportunity Project, in a September 2016 report, found “acute need in rural areas” of the state as well as struggling cities to help young people finish school, get jobs or both. Disconnected young people cost the state an estimated $900 million a year in uncollected taxes and spending on services and public safety, the report said.
In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, made lowering the disconnected rate a priority for the Office for Children in next year’s budget, mostly because it could save money in the long run, Church said.
“When youth reconnect with work and school, not only does spending on social services decrease, but also tax revenue and economic participation increase, which is good for the state’s bottom line,” Church said.
The Office for Children has asked counties, including Worcester, to propose plans to help solve the problem, such as dropout recovery programs, college prep courses, apprenticeships and job training. Proposals are due by the end of April to be considered for inclusion in the next state budget.
The post Rising numbers of rural youth are unemployed and out of school, and it’s costing all of us appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea test-fired a mid-range ballistic missile from the western part of its country Saturday, but the launch apparently failed, South Korea and the United States said Saturday.
The test will be condemned by outsiders as yet another step in the North’s push for a nuclear-tipped missile that can strike the U.S. mainland.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the North fired the unidentified missile from around Pukchang, which is near the capital Pyongyang, but provided no other details.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, said the missile was likely a medium-range KN-17 ballistic missile. It broke up a couple minutes after the launch and the pieces fell into the Sea of Japan.
A South Korean military official also said without elaborating that the launch was believed to be a failure. He didn’t want to be named, citing office rules. The official couldn’t immediately confirm how far the missile flew or whether it had exploded shortly after launch.
North Korea routinely test-fires a variety of ballistic missiles, despite United Nations prohibitions, as part of its weapons development. While shorter-range missiles are somewhat routine, there is strong outside worry about each longer-range North Korean ballistic test.
Saturday’s launch comes at a point of particularly high tension. U.S. President Donald Trump took an initial hard line with Pyongyang and sent a U.S. aircraft supercarrier to Korean waters. His diplomats are now taking a softer tone.
On Friday, the United States and China offered starkly different strategies for addressing North Korea’s escalating nuclear threat as Trump’s top diplomat demanded full enforcement of economic sanctions on Pyongyang and urged new penalties. Stepping back from suggestions of U. S. military action, he even offered aid to North Korea if it ends its nuclear weapons program.
The range of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s suggestions, which over a span of 24 hours also included restarting negotiations, reflected America’s failure to halt North Korea’s nuclear advances despite decades of U.S.-led sanctions, military threats and stop-and-go rounds of diplomatic engagement. As the North approaches the capability to hit the U.S. mainland with a nuclear-tipped missile, the Trump administration feels it is running out of time.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the core tenets of the American dream is the belief that any individual, regardless of their background, can make it big.
Millionaire tech entrepreneur Jason Ford has done just that, but he believes that he and other successful people get a lot of help they don’t often acknowledge.
He explains in tonight’s edition of In My Humble Opinion.
JASON FORD, Entrepreneur: Everyone loves a good success story. It’s the American dream, working your way up from nothing, armed only with your wits and a strong work ethic.
And for those who make it, it feels great to think you got there all on your own. I should know: I’m a millionaire, the first in my family, one of those tech entrepreneurs who built a software business and sold it for a fortune.
I didn’t inherit my wealth. I created it.
But look a little deeper, and it turns out that version of my success story is a lie. Yes, my family background is rather humble. Both of my parents were teachers. I grew up in hand-me-down clothes from our neighbors.
But, before I was born, my parents got help from their parents to buy a house in a safe neighborhood with good schools. When my grandmother passed, she left each of her grandkids some money, not a fortune, but enough that I made it through college without school debt.
My wife’s nana was a school teacher as well. She and her husband saved their humble income and bought land decades ago. And when I started my business, she believed in me enough to sell her land and invest the money in my start-up.
So, we can blow up the myth that I’m a self-made success. Sure, I had something to do with it, but I also had some serious help.
Now, one way to interpret this story is that the generations before me worked hard to provide the best possible future for their kids and grandkids. And that interpretation is true, but it leaves out some harsh realities rooted in history.
You see, if my ancestors had not been white, it is almost certain that I wouldn’t be where I am today. My grandfather would have found it nearly impossible to climb to the top of the corporate ladder like he did. This was the mid-’70s, when almost every executive in a role like his was a white man.
As a result, my parents likely wouldn’t have bought the House They did, with the good schools that prepared me for college. And two generations ago, lending discrimination would have made it similarly impossible for nana to buy that land that ended up funding my business.
Just as not everyone is qualified to be an astronaut, it takes a special kind of person to be an entrepreneur. You need discipline, intelligence, extreme dedication. But the best astronaut in the world can’t fly to the moon unless someone gives them the rocket.
It’s time for more entrepreneurs like me to stop telling stories about how they climbed their way to the top, to stop taking credit for flying to the moon all by themselves, as if the entire support structure they were born into had nothing to do with it.
And it’s time for all of us to find more ways to empower the world’s highest-potential entrepreneurs with their own rockets, so they can show us the stars.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Something to think about.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Every day, priceless cultural objects around the world are threatened by war, looting, the impact of humans and the passage of time.
But one organization in Spain is taking an innovative approach to understanding and preserving that heritage, by copying it.
Jeffrey Brown has that story.
It’s part of our ongoing series Culture at Risk.
JEFFREY BROWN: The tomb of Seti I, ancient Egyptian pharaoh, we watched it being milled, printed, and set. But we’re not in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, and certainly not in the 13th century B.C.
This is a workshop called Factum Arte in an eastern suburb of Madrid, Spain, filled with art and historical works of all kinds, with one unusual thing in common.
Everything in this large warehouse is a reproduction, a copy. But the work that goes on here raises profound questions about just what is real, and what it means to preserve an object.
ADAM LOWE, Founder, Factum Arte: We’re making copies of copies.
JEFFREY BROWN: The man who leads Factum, with evangelical fervor, is British artist Adam Lowe.
ADAM LOWE: The state of the art is that we can make something that is identical to the original, under normal viewing conditions.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, is the idea that you’re creating something that is, at least for the viewing experience, as real as the original?
ADAM LOWE: The idea is that you can get someone to understand the complexity of an object, and you can get them to read it in many ways through encountering facsimile, yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: Facsimile, an exact copy or reproduction. Factum calls its work digital mediation, and it operates as a kind of renaissance workshop of people with different skills: software designers, technicians, conservators, architects, artists, artisans.
Together, they make copies with a cause, not to mislead, but to understand and help preserve. One prominent example, this copy of a winged lion from Nimrud. It was cast from sculptures now in European museums that were taken from the site in Iraq in the 19 century. Last year, ISIS destroyed much of what’s left at Nimrud itself.
ADAM LOWE: So, in that strange twist of fate, everything that was removed in the 19th century is the only evidence that’s left. And we would love to be able to send facsimiles, like this, back to Nimrud to take up their place again on the site, so that you still keep that connection between …
JEFFREY BROWN: I mean, that wouldn’t make up for the destruction, right?
ADAM LOWE: Nothing makes up for destruction.
JEFFREY BROWN: Factum first attracted international attention in 2007 by creating a replica of a huge painting by Paolo Veronese from 1563, The Wedding at Cana.
The original painting now hangs in the Louvre museum in Paris, but it got there as a gift of Napoleon, whose forces ripped it from its original home, a church in Venice. Factum’s experts studied, scanned, slowly recreated it, and finally put it, the copy, that is, into its old home.
ADAM LOWE: Many people started to question about whether the experience of seeing it in its correct setting, with the correct light, in dialogue with this building that it was painted for, is actually more authentic than the experience of seeing the original in the Louvre.
JEFFREY BROWN: Lowe had another major win in his recreation of King Tut’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, built next to the original site.
ADAM LOWE: It’s a test between one scanning system.
JEFFREY BROWN: In Madrid, we got a tour of some key parts of the process, which begins far away from this building, with the scanning of the actual objects in the field.
That team is led by architect Carlos Bayod, using a laser scanner developed at Factum known as the Lucida.
CARLOS BAYOD, Lucida Scanner: We are capable now of recording the surface of a painting, for example, and obtaining data that are very close, that has very close correspondence to reality.
JEFFREY BROWN: How close?
CARLOS BAYOD: Well, in terms of resolution, we are talking about 100 microns, so one point of information every 10th of a millimeter.
JEFFREY BROWN: The data about the surface, even of something we think of as being flat, is used to create a detailed relief map of the object, without ever touching and potentially harming it, to understand how any intervention or restoration might play out.
CARLOS BAYOD: We believe this information should be very useful for conservators, people who have the duty of taking care of the works of art.
JEFFREY BROWN: To go further and build a facsimile of the work, in this case the tomb of Seti I, the data is crunched and fed into milling machines, computer numeric code routers, or 3-D printers to create the relief.
In another room, using a Factum-built printer run by Rafa Rachewsky, the photographed image is etched onto a custom-created surface known as a skin.
RAFA RACHEWSKY, Factum Arte: And it’s very thin, as you can see. It stretches enough so you can lay it onto the relief, and then you can place exactly where you want.
JEFFREY BROWN: Rachewsky carefully aligns the printed skin with the relief, and using contact glue:
RAFA RACHEWSKY: You want to be sure that you get everywhere.
JEFFREY BROWN: Because you want it to hold for several thousand years, right?
RAFA RACHEWSKY: Exactly.
JEFFREY BROWN: It’s then vacuum-sealed.
RAFA RACHEWSKY: As the air is coming out, these two are joining together.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, now it’s really fusing into one.
RAFA RACHEWSKY: Exactly.
JEFFREY BROWN: The result, a test panel of the tomb of Seti I, representing less than 1 percent of what will be a full-scale replica, to eventually go on display next to the original in Luxor.
And why build a replica of the tomb? Because, says Adam Lowe, mass tourism, our own need to see the original in a place never designed for our biological presence, has its consequences.
ADAM LOWE: But what we’re really asking the visitors to do is to enter into a new contract for preserving things for the future, because by going to see something that was designed to last for eternity, but never to be visited, you’re contributing to its destruction.
JEFFREY BROWN: This is expensive work, developing new tools and techniques to take on whatever challenges the world of conservation throws at it.
To finance it, Factum builds custom pieces for contemporary artists, like this piece for Saudi Arabian artist Abdulnasser Gharem, which combines the dome of a mosque with a soldier’s helmet, and will be installed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Factum is full of wonders, not the least of which was getting into a contraption built here called a Veronica scanner, 12 cameras taking 96 high-resolution photos of all angles of my head in four seconds. After an hour-and-a-half of 3-D printing, my very own small bust.
Oh, my goodness.
As technology advances and laser scans are increasingly replaced by this kind of photogrammetry, it’s not hard to imagine a world in which anyone can photograph an object and render their own model in 3-D.
ADAM LOWE: But I can imagine many things, so I can imagine I can take a photograph, as we’re doing, and I could recreate something from a photograph.
I can imagine other people might do it for less noble reasons or for straightforward commercial reasons, but that’s not a reason for not doing it. The recording critical, because unless you record it, you don’t know how it’s changing, you don’t know what people’s presence is going to it, you don’t know the effects of time on the surface.
JEFFREY BROWN: While Adam Lowe is most focused now on pushing conservation techniques, he’s also challenging how we think about copies and their relationship to originals, the very idea of originality.
The classical sculptures we know, he points out, are almost all copies of an original. And all those masterpiece paintings we love?
ADAM LOWE: You go to the National Gallery in London, you go to the National Gallery in Washington, and every single one of those paintings has a complex history.
It’s probably restored once or twice. It’s probably had more than that by certain dubious dealers who’ve tarted it up to sell it. So, there’s a whole history of what happens on a painting that’s constantly changing.
JEFFREY BROWN: There’s no original when it comes to a work of art, you’re suggesting.
ADAM LOWE: No, I’m suggesting there is seldom a very clear notion of conception.
The way we see and understand cultural heritage changes over time. It always has, and it always will. And the way we value it, the way we look at it, the way we appreciate it, the way we display it, the way we collect it, all of these things are constantly subject to change.
JEFFREY BROWN: A change at Factum Arte’s workshop happening before our eyes.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jeffrey Brown in Madrid, Spain.
The post How high-tech replicas can help save our cultural heritage appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields, and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
So, we’re just one day away, David, from the 100-day mark of the new administration. What are we thinking right now?
DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: A hundred days is a stupid marker — 99 days, much better.
DAVID BROOKS: No, it’s not a success.
But I think what’s striking, he has had the obvious failures, the health care and all the rest. And I think what’s striking and makes me remain curious about the next four years is the change. I mean, it’s just rapid change. We have never seen a president change this much from being a populist to being a corporatist, from being the Bannon dark knight to shifting to putting pretty straight, at least people who are — putting a process around him.
And so I would say there’s been some improvements. He’s never going to be a deep thinker. He’s never going to have an overall strategy, but the level of flexibility is to me actually one of the more striking and maybe hopeful that he can learn from failure.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Some improvement, Mark.
MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Judy, there’s an old formula in Washington. When someone changes and moves in your direction, politically or philosophically, that person has grown. And when he moves in the other direction, of course, he’s Benedict Arnold. He’s a Judas Iscariot. He’s a traitor.
Donald Trump has one loyal constituency. And to listen to David — and I think his point is right — he has changed. He’s turned his back on that constituency.
Three out of four Americans approve of one thing Donald Trump has done. And that is forcing companies to keep jobs in the United States. That was the populist theme. That was something that no other president has won the White House on. And he, under the pressure of the 100-day deadline, which he kept disdaining and then genuflecting before and feverishly pursuing, Donald Trump came up with a one-page tax plan that turned his back totally on the people who elected him.
And his secretary of the treasury could not even tell you what a family making $70,000 a year with four — two children, whether they would pay more or less in taxes.
But he could tell you one thing, that Donald Trump’s Cabinet would pay and Donald Trump in that plan would may measurably less. It was a plan designed for the deserving rich.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you’re saying they did put out a plan, a one-page plan.
MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But it doesn’t tell us much more, David, about what they really will do.
DAVID BROOKS: Well, two things.
First, which way is he moving? He’s not moving toward people like me. I’m not part of the corporate elite.
MARK SHIELDS: No, I know that.
DAVID BROOKS: I am flattered by the reference.
DAVID BROOKS: He’s now moving from a version of populism to a version of corporatism.
And if there was a good version of populism, where he would really help the people who voted for him, that would be great. That wasn’t something he was going to be capable of doing. He had an ethnic populism can which as most an ugly version of populism.
And, second, by the way, there’s no constituency for populism of the good sort in the United States Congress. So, that was never going to happen. So he has moved toward something which does help his friends in big business. There’s no question about that.
I happen to think that’s a less dangerous mode of change. It’s more conventional anyway than being a populist. If he tried to being an American Le Pen, an American Putin, that was the truly dangerous thing. And that part, he’s rejected.
So, I think at least we have avoided a really ugly version of the White House, at least right now. The second thing about the tax plan, he’s never going to be deep. He’s never going to be substantive. He wants things, the tax plan right away. The Treasury Department has no time to actually put anything together.
So, they gave him a page which they think will please him, which is right. It wasn’t a tax plan. It was just 100 words off the top of their head. And that’s why I thing he will little mark with this tax plan. That thing is sure to fail, at least in its present form.
And so he just floats across the surface without really causing any change, just a lot of ruffling.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Whatever it is, Mark, I mean, David’s point is that it’s better than what it sounded like it was going to be during the campaign.
MARK SHIELDS: Well, I don’t know.
He did — he turned his back on the people who elected him. What Donald Trump did that no Republican had done since Ronald Reagan was to break through among blue-collar white voters, working-class voters in this country, who Democrats had kind of assumed were part of their constituency, had taken for granted, and who had paid the price of globalization, whose own fortunes had suffered, the shrinking of the middle class, established once again this week by Pew in its research in this country.
And Donald Trump said, I recognize you, I’m with you.
And whatever else has happened, I mean, the virtue of Donald Trump as a candidate was, he says what he means. And it turns out, he didn’t mean what he said.
And, Judy, you cannot talk about Donald Trump without talking about the Republicans. And the tax thing is one thing, because that’s just a piece of paper. But the health care thing is failure, a total philosophical, political and courageous failure of a political party, as well as the president.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Because they talked about it for so long.
MARK SHIELDS: They won four elections. They won four elections in a row for the Congress on it, Judy.
And let’s just get one thing straight, one thing straight. The Democrats passed a bill in 2010. And they had 179 witnesses appear before Congress. They had 78 separate hearings in Congress. They have had 230 amendments they considered. They passed — they accepted 121 of them.
It was a two-year ordeal. And these people have invested nothing. They can’t even come up with a repeal bill. It is just — now all they’re trying to pass in the House is what — the legislative equivalent of a dead fish. They just want to get it out of them across to the Senate.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that on the president, David, or is that on the Republicans in the Congress?
DAVID BROOKS: It’s on both. The president came in with no plan, with no strategy, with no people. So, he is just a guy with words and tweets.
It’s a bit on the Congress, but it’s also just a bit on the party. There is no plan that could pass with all the Republican votes, because every time you get the Freedom Caucus, you lose the moderates. That’s just the iron rule.
And so if you wanted to do the kind of government I think Mark and I would probably find some favor with, he would have come in, Trump would have said, I’m going to help my people. And I’m going to do first a big infrastructure spending bill, then maybe a payroll tax cut, and then moving things, some education things, just everything at that group.
But to get something like that passed would have required breaking down the polarization of our politics, and getting some Democrats and some Republicans. And that would have been great. But it would have required such legislative skill and experience that was completely beyond the capacities of this White House.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What about just the style of this president, Mark, the fact that he made just an offhand statement this week, tweeted, we’re going to do away with NAFTA, I’m going to terminate it?
And then, within 24 hours, he was saying, well, I heard from the presidents of Mexico and Canada — the prime minister of Canada — and I’m going to negotiate it.
And then we have been talking tonight about North Korea, the tough language, the tough rhetoric back and forth about whether we’re going to be tough.
Has this proven effective? How do you see it?
MARK SHIELDS: Picky, picky, picky. You just want to find fault.
No, of course it hasn’t, Judy. It’s been a failure. I mean, he had no honeymoon. This was a shorter honeymoon than Liza Minnelli’s. This thing was over in 24 hours. And he ended it.
He now — think about this, how inept this president has been. His popular act a was proportional, in most people’s judgment, response to the outrage and international offense of the Syrian government, poison gas on its own people, all right?
And a plurality of Americans, in spite of the economic news you presented earlier this evening, see the economy getting better. And with those things going for him, his own favorable rating fell in the polls.
I mean, so, no, I mean, there’s total — there’s dissatisfaction with him. He’s going to be Typhoid Mary politically heading into 2018 on this chaos.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, you’re saying that he’s learned something, that he’s grown in office.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, are we talking about the same …
DAVID BROOKS: Listen, his 100 days are not a success. This is not FDR we’re talking about here. It’s a failure.
But I’m looking for opportunities for growth. It’s like when you have a student who gets an F, you go, oh, you got a D-minus. That’s so much better.
DAVID BROOKS: So, I’m looking on the bright side.
And if you go from dangerous to fickle, I think that’s a good move.
DAVID BROOKS: And so — and then the final thing I will say, I’m really struck by Bob Costa.
Our colleague from Washington Week did a great — with Ashley Parker, a great piece on his television watching habits. And he had this interview with AP where he talked about how hard it was to rip himself away from the habit of watching every single TV show about himself.
And so you see a guy sort of transparently and naively struggling certainly with maybe narcissism, but certainly the TV obsession. And the lack of attention span is what causes all this fickleness.
Whoever saw him last gets the policy for the day. And will that settle down, or will we just sort of get a weather vane for the next four years? I don’t know.
But I do think that the first 30 days was unsustainable. He was crashing every hour. And that’s calmed down a little.
MARK SHIELDS: I stand in awe of David’s optimism. I do. I really do.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Fickle better than dangerous.
MARK SHIELDS: And, no, I appreciate it.
But, Judy, two things have occurred under Donald Trump, and Donald Trump deserves credit for. For the first time since it passed in 2010, the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, is now more popular than it’s ever been before, a majority of Americans. It’s more popular than Donald Trump, if you want to do it just on a comparative.
And the other thing is that Americans who had been on a Tea Party tear for smaller government now government, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, to do more. They want it more — to do more in their lives and to be more active.
So, this just goes completely antithetical to the Republican ideology of a smaller, leaner, cheaper government withdrawing. And so, no, I think there’s great change in the air. I don’t know where it comes down, but it’s hard for me to see that there’s any hand on the rudder of the ship of state.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But his supporters — and we keep saying this in the polls, and the reporters who are going around the country talking to people who voted for Donald Trump, David.
They still like what he’s doing.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. No, they do. People are solid. People are mostly driven by partisanship. The prism through which they see reality is their partisan identity.
And so that will take some time to shake off. I do think it can be shaken off. It seems very, very likely to me this tax reform is not going to go anywhere, at least anything like its current form.
And so how does he react to that? At what point does the economy take a dip and maybe people say, hey, what exactly are you doing for me now?
But I do think that will be a while. Partisan identity right now is so strong that if you ask people how is the economy doing, it doesn’t matter how the economy is doing. It happens — it’s whether their guy is in power is how they see it. So, that loyalty will stay there for a little while.
MARK SHIELDS: Just one thing, Judy.
And before Democrats start popping the champagne, 67 percent of Americans feel Democrats, the Democratic Party, is out of touch with what’s going on in their lives, more than — a lot more than they feel that about Donald Trump.
So, if anything, yes, 96 to 98 percent of the people who voted for him are with him and would do so again. But, I mean, the Democrats have to be a lot more than just, we’re not Trump. That is not the answer to their problems.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s not yet the makings of a comeback.
MARK SHIELDS: No.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks, we hope both of you come back.
MARK SHIELDS: Oh, wow.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: The U.S. Supreme Court’s final case this term was expected to be a highly technical argument on immigration law, but it wound up pulling back the curtain a little on the justices’ personalities, and how they interact with each other.
John Yang has the details of listening in on court arguments.
JOHN YANG: Here to walk us through some of the key moments during Wednesday’s oral arguments is Robert Barnes. He has covered the Supreme Court for The Washington Post for more than a decade. And he also had the misfortune of being my editor at The Post.
JOHN YANG: But, Bob, thanks for coming in.
ROBERT BARNES, The Washington Post: It’s good to be here.
JOHN YANG: In a nutshell, Bob, what was this case about?
ROBERT BARNES: Well, this is a case about a woman from Bosnia who claimed persecution, was admitted to this country, became a naturalized citizen.
And then it turned out she had lied on some of her applications. Specifically, she had said that her husband was trying to avoid military service. It turned out he had been in a Bosnian militia unit that had been charged with some war crimes.
JOHN YANG: And the woman’s attorney went first, since she’s the petitioner in this case. How did that argument go?
ROBERT BARNES: The real fact here was, does it matter if something you lie about on your application is material to the fact that you got citizenship?
And the law is not specific about that. It doesn’t say that it has to be relevant. It says that you can’t lie. And so the government had taken the position that any lie would be reason for it to move against someone to take away their citizenship if they want.
And the lower courts agreed, said that, no, the federal government doesn’t have to prove that it was relevant to her getting it, just that she had lied.
And so the question for the court was, is that the right thing or not? Is that the right standard?
JOHN YANG: And then, as you wrote in The Washington Post, things got really interesting when they turned to the government’s attorney, Robert Parker.
Chief Justice John Roberts made a personal confession.
JOHN ROBERTS, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court: Some time ago, outside the statute of limitations, I drove 60 miles an hour in a 55-mile-an-hour zone.
ROBERT PARKER, Justice Department Attorney: I’m sorry to hear that.
JOHN ROBERTS: I wasn’t arrested.
Now, you say if that I answer that question no, 20 years after I was naturalized as a citizen, you can knock on my door and say, guess what, you’re not an American citizen after all.
ROBERT BARNES: Well, the chief justice wasn’t comparing speeding to a war crime, but what he was saying is, what’s the logical extension of this?
If the government says that someone can lose their citizenship for lying about anything, then how far does that go? Does it go to even something as mundane as speeding which you didn’t fess up?
JOHN YANG: And he had not said anything in the arguments with the woman’s attorney; is that right?
ROBERT BARNES: That’s right.
Sometimes, when the chief justice is quiet during one part of the argument, if you’re the lawyer getting up, you need to be worried, because it means that he may agree with that side and he’s ready to pounce on you.
And that’s pretty much what the chief justice did to this poor government lawyer.
JOHN YANG: And then on that point of what’s relevant and what’s not relevant, there was an exchange involving Justice Elena Kagan.
So, let’s take a listen to that.
ROBERT PARKER: I mean, you could lie about your weight, let’s say. You’re embarrassed that you weigh 170 pounds, and so you claim that you weigh 150.
And, remember, this has to be a lie under oath after you have sworn to tell the truth, and you’re deliberately lying about something. It calls into question the veracity of your other answers. And that is very important in the naturalization process.
ROBERT PARKER: I’m sorry. Go ahead.
ELENA KAGAN, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court: You will be glad to know I don’t have another of these questions for you.
ELENA KAGAN: Although I am a little bit horrified to know that every time I lie about my weight, it has those kinds of consequences.
ROBERT PARKER: Only under oath.
ELENA KAGAN: Yes.
JOHN YANG: We should point out that Parker wasn’t referring specifically to Justice Kagan.
ROBERT BARNES: That’s right, exactly right.
No, again, it was the same point. And what justices like to do is, they keep spinning these ideas out. What about this, what about this, what about this? And if it’s the lawyer in a position where they have got to defend something — you know, we should point out too, this is a long-held government view.
It’s not one that has come up just recently, but one that has come up a long time ago. It’s just that this case got to the court now.
JOHN YANG: And then, later in the arguments, Justice Anthony Kennedy pressed Parker about the meaning of citizenship.
ROBERT PARKER: All I can say is, I don’t think that the statute says anything that would necessarily prevent denaturalization from occurring. But there are a number of …
ANTHONY KENNEDY, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court: It seems to me that your argument is demeaning the priceless value of citizenship. To say, oh, he would just be restored to his — or she to her former status, that’s not what our cases say. That’s not what citizenship means.
You’re arguing for the government of the United States, talking about what citizenship is and ought to mean.
JOHN YANG: Now you say that that’s a very characteristic question from Justice Kennedy.
ROBERT BARNES: Yes. It’s bad for your side if Justice Kennedy starts talking about something that the government does as being demeaning or affecting the dignity of an individual, because that’s something that’s very important to him. And those are words that no lawyer really wants to hear coming from Justice Kennedy.
JOHN YANG: Very unusual tone, it seemed, in this argument. How usual or unusual is that?
ROBERT BARNES: This was a very lively back and forth among the justices.
It was a very sort of entertaining argument to be at. It was also their last argument of the term. After this, the justices start writing their opinions in all the cases they have heard since October.
And so, in a way, it was sort of the end of the school day for them. And so it was a very interesting and lively conversation.
JOHN YANG: Bob Barnes, thanks for taking us behind the scenes a little bit at the Supreme Court.
ROBERT BARNES: My pleasure.
The post A case about citizenship draws laughter and lively banter at the Supreme Court appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It is the first papal trip to Egypt since Pope John Paul II in 2000. Pope Francis’ visit to Cairo today comes at a time when Egypt’s Christians are under attack, and the so-called Islamic State is emboldened.
Hari Sreenivasan has our story.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Pope Francis received a red carpet welcome, but security was on high alert across the Egyptian capital. Still, he insisted on driving to the presidential palace in a simple unarmored blue Fiat.
WOMAN: He is trying to prove to the world that Egypt is still safe, no matter what terrorism is trying to do in our country.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Just three weeks ago, 45 people died when the Islamic State bombed Christian churches in two Egyptian cities on Palm Sunday. And, in December, an ISIS suicide bomber killed 25 people at Cairo’s main Coptic Christian cathedral.
In a video message before his arrival, Francis called for unity and tolerance.
POPE FRANCIS, Leader of Catholic Church (through interpreter): I hope that this visit will be an embrace of consolation and of encouragement to all Christians in the Middle East, a message of fraternity and reconciliation to all children of Abraham, particularly in the Islamic world.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The pontiff’s first stop was a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. The former general came to power after a 2013 coup that ousted Mohammed Morsi and banned the Muslim Brotherhood. Francis also took part in a peace conference to bring Muslims and Christians together.
POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter): To counter effectively the barbarity of those who foment hatred and violence, we need to accompany young people, respond to the incendiary logic of evil by patiently working for the growth of goodness.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The day concluded with a meeting with the leader of Egypt’s Coptic Christians.
For more on what these leaders hope to achieve together, I’m joined by Tarek Masoud, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Now, Mr. Masoud, let’s start with this recent violence that we have been seeing against Coptic Christians. Is this something new or is this something that Christians in Egypt have had to deal with forever?
TAREK MASOUD, Harvard University: Hi, Hari.
I think it’s the latter. It’s something that has really plagued the Christian community in Egypt for a very long time. Under Hosni Mubarak, the president who was overthrown in 2011, there had been violence against Christians. When the military took over in Egypt in 2011, there was violence against Christians. When the Muslim Brotherhood was in charge for a brief moment in Egypt, there was violence against Christians.
And that violence against Christians in Egypt continues today under the government of Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Just to put it in a little context, what’s the standing of Christians in society, or how much does it matter?
TAREK MASOUD: Oh, it matters a great deal.
You know, Hari, the word for — most Egyptian Christians are called Coptic Christians. And the word Copt has the same etymological root as the word Egypt. In fact, Copt — the Coptic Church is the world’s oldest Christian church.
And the Coptic Christians are indigenous to Egypt. I’m a Muslim, but I’m clearly descended from people who converted from Christianity around the 11th century. So Christians are really an inextricable part of the fabric of Egyptian life.
The problem is, particularly since the 1970s, that society has become increasingly Islamized, that Christians have been seen as the other, and there have been a lot of attempts to delegitimize them, discriminate against them. And now we’re seeing acts of violence against them.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what’s the strategic value for ISIS to carry out these acts of violence against this small minority?
TAREK MASOUD: Well, so Christians in Egypt are between 5 and 15 percent of the Egyptian population.
So, the fact that we don’t know how much of the population they are is in itself a problem. But what ISIS wants to do by attacking Christians and Christian churches is two things. First, they want to delegitimize the Egyptian regime.
After all, President Sisi came to power promising stability. And so these kinds of spectacular acts of violence merely underscore his inability to provide that stability.
The other thing they want to do is, they want to paint the government as somehow not just non-Islamic, but anti-Islamic. So, when they attack Christians, and the government, as it should, does things to defend the Christian community, such as putting armed guards around churches or the president making statements about how the government — the people should — there should be no discrimination against Copts and no violence against Copts, it makes it possible for Islamic radicals to point to the government and say to Egyptians, look at these guys, they’re on the side of Christians, they care more about Christians than they do about the average Muslim Egyptian.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, is it part of a larger strategy for ISIS then in the region?
TAREK MASOUD: It may be.
Clearly, everywhere that ISIS operates, they try to polarize societies, foment sectarian and religious dissension. The other thing to note, though, again that the problem of violence and discrimination with Copts in Egypt far predates ISIS and far predates the government of President Sisi.
And it’s not just a reflection of ISIS strategy. It’s a reflection of deep dysfunctions in Egyptian society.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Finally, I want to ask about this image that is circulating today. It is of the pope embracing an imam there in Egypt. It almost seems like there’s a marketing challenge.
Will an image like that travel as far and as fast as some of these ISIS videos make it throughout the Muslim world?
TAREK MASOUD: One really hopes so.
One thing that’s really been remarkable about Pope Francis is that he really isn’t just the pope of the world’s Catholics. He really seems to be the pope of all peoples, and particularly the world’s downtrodden and disadvantaged.
And I think one thing that’s worth noting is that, in his statement, the pope called on the Egyptian government to do more to respect human rights. And he wasn’t just talking about the human rights of Egypt’s Christians, but he was talking about the human rights of all Egyptians.
So, one hopes that those kinds of messages will diffuse throughout the Muslim world.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Tarek Masoud from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, thanks so much.
TAREK MASOUD: Thank you, Hari.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The news that North Korea has carried out another missile test is sure to add to rising tensions with the U.S. Observers also say that the country appears to be preparing to conduct a nuclear test as well.
Meanwhile, for the past two months, the U.S. and South Koreans have been conducting another large-scale military exercise. The United Nations took up the issue today.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. Secretary of State: For too long the international community has been reactive in addressing North Korea. Those days must come to an end.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The warning from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson came at the U.N. Security Council. He said it is time for painful new sanctions to make North Korea give up its nuclear and missile programs.
REX TILLERSON: Failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences.
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump has pressed China to help rein in the North, tweeting just last week, “If they want to solve the North Korean problem, they will.”
And Tillerson said yesterday that China may impose its own sanctions. Beijing wouldn’t confirm that today. Instead, Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged a return to multination peace talks.
WANG YI, Chinese Foreign Minister (through interpreter): China is not a focal point of the problem on the peninsula. And the key to solving the nuclear issue there doesn’t lie in the hands of China.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tillerson had said in an interview yesterday that the U.S. would be open to direct talks with North Korea, a shift in American policy. Today, he clarified the conditions necessary for that to take place.
REX TILLERSON: North Korea must understand North Korea must take concrete steps to reduce the threat that its illegal weapons programs pose to the United States and our allies before we can even consider talks.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Earlier this week, President Trump’s top advisers said the administration’s first course is diplomacy. And in a Reuters interview the president said he’d love to solve things diplomatically. But he also said it’s very difficult, and added his own warning that:
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. has already sent an aircraft carrier group to the Korean Peninsula as a show of force against the North and its leader.
And the Pentagon said today that a U.S. missile defense system, known as THAAD, that it recently sent to South Korea will be operational soon. China, in turn, said it still objects.
WANG YI (through interpreter): I want to reiterate China’s firm opposition against U.S. deployment of a THAAD anti-missile system in the Republic of Korea. It is a move that seriously undermines the strategic security of China and other countries in the region.
JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump also suggested in his interview that South Korea should pay for the system, an estimated $1 billion. South Korean officials responded, saying, the United States will bear the cost.
For more on all of this, we get two views.
John Merrill had a 27-year career at the State Department, where, from 2001 to 2014, he was the chief of the Northeast Asia Division of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. He’s now a visiting fellow at Johns Hopkins University. And Balbina Hwang served in the State Department during the George W. Bush administration. She is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University.
And we welcome both of you to the program.
We were planning to have this discussion before we learned just within the hour, Balbina Hwang, about this latest missile test.
But widen it out for us. What is the state of U.S.-North Korean relations right now? What track are we on?
BALBINA HWANG, Former State Department Official: I actually don’t think it’s nearly as tense as everybody is making it out to be. And I understand why President Trump is saying that there is a potential for a major, major conflict.
But we have to remember there’s always been that potential since 1953, when the Korean War ended essentially in armistice.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, are we overplaying this, John Merrill?
JOHN MERRILL, Former State Department Official: There might be an element of that, of Mao-Maoing, if you could call it that.
But I think he’s trying to Chinese more energized and he’s trying to convey a sense of imminent possible threat to the North Koreans that there is a military option if all else fails. So, it’s brinkmanship on all sides.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that a wise course to be pursuing right now?
BALBINA HWANG: Well, again, I think it’s understandable why. And I agree with John certainly that it’s partially brinkmanship and about signaling.
What I worry about right now is not conflict with North Korea. I actually think that there is going to be trouble with South Korea. And I think we have to focus on this. And really the solution has got to include and has to have the leadership and input of South Koreas on the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How is the relationship with the South more of a worry, a threat?
BALBINA HWANG: Well, because I think part of this brinkmanship is exactly as John said. It is indeed to try to essentially make the North Koreans understand that the U.S. is very serious this time, as we have been for 20 years.
It’s also to get China to listen. But China — and I think, John, China’s reaction to the deployment of THAAD in South Korea is indicative of this. And so I think South Korea is stuck in the middle.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And given that, with South Korea stuck in the middle, John Merrill, how does the U.S. — how do you see the U.S. maneuvering from here, from this point forward?
Because the North has been making provocative statements. The Trump administration has been making provocative statements.
JOHN MERRILL: I think people should try to cool the situation to the extent possible.
There’s going to be a new government in Seoul think on the 9th of next month.
JUDY WOODRUFF: They have an election coming up.
JOHN MERRILL: Yes. And the president will be installed immediately.
I think it’s a little unseemly to rush a THAAD battery in, in the dead of night.
JUDY WOODRUFF: This is the missile defense system.
JOHN MERRILL: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
And there’s serious questions about whether the thing works. And certainly the new government would like to probably have a chance to review the system before it commits to it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What about that?
BALBINA HWANG: I’m far less concerned about — I don’t think it’s surreptitious. I think these plans were already in place.
What concerns me is that, on the one hand, we’re trying to send the message to China and to North Korea that we’re serious. On the other hand, at the same time this is all happening, and Secretary Tillerson and President Trump are emphasizing the strength of the alliance as the last defense against a major conflict with North Korea, then, unfortunately, President Trump also announces that South Korea should be responsible for paying up to $1 billion for it.
So, I think that’s what sends the mixed signals, and that’s what worries me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me turn you, John Merrill, to what we have heard from Secretary Tillerson.
He said in the interview, an interview yesterday with NPR, it appeared that he was saying that the U.S., this administration is open to direct talks with North Korea. But then he went on to say that the North would have to have the right policy, so to speak.
Today, he hardened that. It sounded like he was saying there had to be preconditions in place. How important is that discussion about whether there will or won’t be direct talks with the U.S.?
JOHN MERRILL: I think, if there are direct talks, it’s huge. It’s a major development.
Before this, we have always said that we’re only going to talk to them in the context of the six-party talks process. So, if that’s really by the boards, if we’re prepared for direct negotiations, that’s great.
I liked what he said yesterday better than what he said today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Why?
JOHN MERRILL: For the reasons that you mentioned.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Because he said — it sounded more clear that he was open to direct…
JOHN MERRILL: Yes, exactly.
JUDY WOODRUFF: To direct talks.
What about this?
BALBINA HWANG: I think this whole debate about engagement, not engagement, is it right or wrong, do we need preconditions or no preconditions, I think is a little bit of a red herring.
I think what’s actually very critical is this. All the U.S. presidents have at some point understood that they will try to negotiate with North Korea. First, negotiations take more than one party. Just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to negotiate.
And North Korea very specifically denied every overture by President Obama for eight years to enter into any kind of talks, number one. Number two, the six-party talks were actually very critical. And Ambassador Christopher Hill, as you know, who led the talks, his point was that it established that multilateral negotiations are the key, and that every regional player has to be involved, and most importantly South Korea.
And I think now what’s happening is, this idea of direct talks basically precludes the role of South Korea.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, John Merrill, are we talking about a solution here that could lead to the North eventually getting rid of their nuclear weapons, which is what the administration says is their goal?
JOHN MERRILL: That is going a very difficult hill to claim. For the moment, I think the most we can hope for is perhaps a freeze on testing, a freeze on deployment of new systems.
I would just remind Balbina that the United States is responsible for this whole issue. At one time, we had 700 or so tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea down at Kunsan and up along the DMZ.
So, the chickens kind of are coming home to roost now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s certainly gotten all of our attention.
JOHN MERRILL: That’s for sure.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We thank both of you coming in. And I know we’re going to be to continuing to report on it, and you’re going to continue to watch it.
John Merrill, Balbina Hwang, thank you.
BALBINA HWANG: Thank you.
JOHN MERRILL: Thank you, Judy.
The post Tensions rising, what’s U.S.’s next move on North Korea? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s word tonight that North Korea has test-fired another ballistic missile. South Korea’s military says it happened early Saturday, local time.
A U.S. government source told Reuters that initial indications suggest the test was a failure. It comes as the U.S. warns that the North’s nuclear and missile programs are a growing threat. We will return to the North Korea story right after the news summary.
In the day’s other news: Congress has gone home for the weekend, and the federal government will go on running for another week. The House and Senate today approved a short-term funding bill to prevent a shutdown tonight at midnight. The voting took place after leaders on both sides lamented the need for the stopgap measure.
REP. RODNEY FRELINGHUYSEN, R-N.J.: The continuing resolution is never anyone’s first choice for funding the government. However, this is our best path forward. This C.R. is very short-term, very limited scope and will help us complete our important work.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, D-Vt.: We shouldn’t be in this situation. We shouldn’t have allowed partisan politics to once again turn a looming deadline into a political standoff with, really, a manufactured crisis.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Next week, lawmakers aim to finish a package to fund the government through September 30, the end of the federal fiscal year.
Two U.S. Army Rangers killed in Afghanistan this week may have been victims of friendly fire. They were taking part in a raid on Islamic State forces in an eastern province. The Pentagon said today it is not clear whether they were fired on by Afghan commandos or other American troops.
The National Security Agency has announced a major shift in surveillance policy. It will no longer collect e-mails or text messages simply because they mention a foreign intelligence target. Instead, only those sent to or from a target will be collected. Privacy advocates had pushed for the change.
President Trump vowed today to defend gun rights as he addressed the National Rifle Association in Atlanta. His appearance at the group’s annual convention was the first by a sitting president since Ronald Reagan, 34 years ago. Mr. Trump painted a stark contrast between his priorities and those of the Obama administration.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end. You have a true friend and champion in the White House. No longer will federal agencies be coming after law-abiding gun owners.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The NRA is now pushing for federal legislation to make any state’s concealed-carry permit valid anywhere in the country.
On another issue, the president served notice to South Korea today that he wants to renegotiate or terminate a free trade agreement between the two countries. In an interview with Reuters, he called the five-year-old deal horrible and unacceptable.
Arkansas has wrapped up an accelerated execution schedule with its fourth lethal injection this month. Kenneth Williams was put to death last night for a murder in 1999. A witness said that Williams convulsed as he was administered the first drug, a sedative. The governor said that involuntary motions are a widely-known side effect.
Former President George H.W. Bush is back home tonight from a Houston hospital. He was released after two weeks of treatment for pneumonia and then bronchitis. The 41st president is 92 years old.
And on Wall Street, stocks edged lower after first-quarter growth in the U.S. turned out to be the weakest in three years. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 40 points to close at 20940. The Nasdaq fell one point, and the S&P 500 slipped four. For the week, all three indexes rose 1.5 percent to 2 percent.
The post News Wrap: Congress approves short-term funding bill, averting shutdown appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
COATESVILLE, P.A. — Vonie Long thought his coworkers would have a different reaction to Donald Trump.
It was June of 2016, and Long, on a break from his job at a steel mill in southeastern Pennsylvania, listened on the radio as Trump gave an economic speech at an aluminum plant on the other side of the state, in front of a backdrop of crushed scrap metal that critics quickly dubbed a “wall of garbage.”
In his speech, Trump railed against bad trade deals and promised to revive Pennsylvania’s steel and coal industries. Long, a fourth-generation steelworker, assumed his coworkers shared his skepticism of Trump, a New York billionaire who had never shown much interest in the working class before running for president.
“All this stuff he was saying — ‘they’ve taken our jobs, they’ve taken our dreams, we need to start winning again’ — I’m thinking, he’s part of the ‘they,’ not part of the ‘we,’” Long recalled. “But the talk at the lunch table the next day was, ‘Trump was right.’ He struck a chord that resonated with them.”
For Long, a union president and Democrat, the moment stands out as the first time he realized Trump could pull off an upset. Since winning the election and taking office, Trump has continued to make all the right promises when it comes to jobs and trade, Long said in an interview this week at the union hall in Coatesville. He just doesn’t think they’ll come true.
“I didn’t trust a lot of what he said during the campaign,” Long said. Now that Trump is president, “he doesn’t carry out a lot of his rhetoric.” Long paused, and added: “I just don’t like the man.”
As Trump hits the first-100-days mark of his presidency, he remains a deeply polarizing figure in this industrial city and many other communities across Chester County, a collection of suburbs and small towns a short drive west of Philadelphia.
The county is full of of the sharp political and economic divides that defined last year’s election. Chester, the wealthiest county in the state, includes West Chester and several other upscale, left-leaning suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Farther out, the suburbs give way to farmland and struggling towns whose voters overwhelmingly backed Trump.
Hillary Clinton carried the area’s suburbs and won the county overall by nine points in 2016. But Chester County marked the outer edge of Clinton territory in Pennsylvania— the messy political gray zone where liberal America petered out and Trump country took over. Trump won nearly every county in the state west of Chester (with the exception of the urban Democratic strongholds of Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and State College), in the process becoming the first Republican to win Pennsylvania since George H.W. Bush in 1988.
The election in Pennsylvania “was a tale of two states,” said Val DiGiorgio, the chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania and the party’s leader in Chester County.
Waiting for results
Signs of the lingering tension from November’s election were not hard to find this week, as voters from Coatesville to West Chester debated Trump’s job performance in his first three months in office.
Nancy Sapp, a small business owner in the town of Oxford, which went for Trump, said she was pleased with his executive orders cutting regulations put in place under former President Barack Obama. “I think he has made some progress,” she said. “There’s too much government.”
But on other issues, like health care, Sapp said Trump has given her pause. She did not support the Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which collapsed last month after failing to win enough support in the House. The White House and its allies in Congress have worked furiously to resurrect the bill, which would leave millions of people uninsured, before the 100-days deadline passes on Saturday. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Friday that wouldn’t happen until next week, at the earliest.
The health care law “needs to be changed, but very thoughtfully and systematically,” Sapp said. “Everyone in this country should have health care.”
Down the street from Sapp’s store, several shop owners in Oxford’s main business district said they backed Trump’s immigration agenda. But none of them wanted to talk on the record, citing fears that their support for Trump would drive business away.
Their reluctance to praise Trump publicly pointed to an issue many Republicans face, especially in moderate parts of the country: how to embrace a president whose personality and policies are deeply reviled by millions of Americans.
The people who voted for Trump “were tired of being told their values make them bigots. They saw in Hillary Clinton a candidate who didn’t particularly care for protecting their way of life, or their jobs,” DiGiorgio said. He gave Trump an A- grade so far, saying the president’s first 100 days were “very active and successful.”
Still, Trump supporters conceded that defending his political incorrectness was harder now that he holds the presidency. Several singled out Trump’s use of Twitter, saying they hoped he would stop posting controversial messages.
“Right now he’s pretty much [behaving] the same” way he did on the campaign trail, said Geoffrey Henry, the Republican mayor of Oxford. “My hope would be that he will learn from the first three months and make the adjustments that he needs to make.”
Other Republicans seemed relieved that Trump has not changed significantly in his first few months on the job. Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh, the sheriff of Chester County and an ardent Trump supporter who campaigned with him in 2016, said she welcomed his freewheeling, unpredictable approach to governing.
“It’s really important to understand when you’re talking about President Trump that he is working very hard to deliver on his campaign promises,” Welsh said. “I think he’s on the right track on the issues.”
“President Trump is a pragmatist,” added Welsh, who met with Trump and other law enforcement officials at the White House shortly after his inauguration. Trump “wants to get things done. He’s probably working too fast for Washington. They’re not used to that pace.”
The first 100 days of Trump’s presidency were nothing if not fast-paced. Trump won praise for staking out a tough, if still undefined, foreign policy. The Senate confirmed his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, after a bruising partisan fight. And while he has signed a flurry of executive actions, including several in the past week, Trump’s domestic agenda has largely been stymied by Congress and the courts.
The decision by House Republicans to delay a vote on a revised health care bill this week means Trump won’t deliver on his campaign promise to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare. His travel bans remain stuck in court, where they also face legal challenges from several states. Trump has also backed away from other positions, including a demand that Congress fund the construction of a border wall as part of a short-term deal to fund the government and avoid a shutdown.
Trump’s “great, great wall” will have to wait, at least for now.
DiGiorgio, Pennsylvania’s GOP chairman, said Trump will need to deliver real results in order to hold on to his base and win over the moderate Republicans who didn’t support him as a candidate, and still don’t support him in the Oval Office.
In Chester County’s affluent suburbs, “a lot of the Republicans and independents who usually vote Republican didn’t vote for him” in 2016, DiGiorgio said. “They’re going to be much more comfortable voting for Donald Trump for re-election if he delivers on his promises of cutting taxes, cutting the size of government and creating jobs.”
“If we get to the midterms next year and we don’t have tax reform and jobs created, we’ll have an issue,” he added. To accomplish those goals, DiGiorgio said, Trump will have to find a way to work with the Republican-controlled Congress. “It’s up to us to make compromise within our own party. That’s what leadership is.”
‘The blue wall that fell’
Of course, Trump’s critics are not waiting until the 2018 midterm elections to take issue with his plans and leadership style. In Chester County’s Democratic circles, his name is synonymous with chaos, racism and a basic lack of understanding of how government works.
Before a monthly meeting of the Chester County Democratic Committee on Monday, members of the group were eager to voice their displeasure with Trump’s first 100 days in office.
“He’s a disaster,” said Nathaniel Smith, a retired university administrator. Trump is “a president who knows nothing about the job.”
Janet Colliton, a lawyer who hosts a local radio show, said she took some solace in Trump’s early stumbles. “The good thing is that he hasn’t accomplished what he said he would,” Colliton said. She added, “as an attorney, I’m concerned about the [Trump administration’s] disregard for the law.”
The meeting took place in the Democrats’ county headquarters, located on the first floor of a tasteful brick row house in downtown West Chester. The office was decorated with emblems of the left’s resistance under Trump: knitted pink “pussy hats,” buttons with slogans like “45 Not My President,” and lawn signs proclaiming that “hate has no home here.”
Yet as the meeting got underway, it became clear that the group’s unified front masked longstanding divisions within the Democratic Party, which has entered a national rebuilding phase after losing the White House and seats at the state and local level in 2016. At one point, a committee member asked for help organizing an effort to direct campaign funds from reliable blue states to red ones where Democrats are less competitive.
Smith interjected: “Are we a red state or blue state?”
“We’re absolutely flaming red,” Geetha Ramanathan, a comparative literature and gender studies professor at West Chester University, responded. “We’re the blue wall that fell.”
After the meeting, Ramanathan said the level of energy on the left in Chester has skyrocketed in response to Trump’s victory last November. “People are just coming out of the woodwork” to participate in rallies and political meetings, said Ramanathan, who has joined a group of activists who protest regularly in front of the West Chester office of Rep. Ryan Costello, a second-term Republican who represents the area.
A record number of Democrats across the country, including thousands of women, are also signing up to run for local office. It’s a sign of enthusiasm that nonetheless presents familiar challenges for the party, which struggled in 2016 to maintain the coalition of labor, minority groups and college-educated white voters that swept Obama into office. Clinton’s failure to win states like Pennsylvania last year exposed rifts along age, class, race and gender lines that could only grow wider in the Trump era.
A good example is the mayoral election in West Chester next month. Three Democrats are on the ballot: Dianne Herrin, a white business owner; Cassandra Jones, an African-American woman who served on the West Chester borough council; and Kyle Hudson, a young, white small business owner who said the 2016 election inspired him to run for office.
Young people are “interested in politics but they don’t know how to get involved,” Hudson, 31, said. “Part of my campaign is to harness that energy and sustain it for 2018 and 2020. We don’t want people to get fatigued.”
Jones spoke with the air of a seasoned politician who has seen it before.
“Unlike some people, I didn’t wake up on November 9th and say I need to get involved,” Jones said. Still, she agreed that Democrats needed to come up with a long-term plan for re-energizing the party’s grassroots supporters. In recent years, “we got comfortable with President Obama’s gains, and we didn’t push hard enough,” Jones said.
Brian McGinnis, the chairman of the Chester County Democratic Committee, said that Trump’s first 100 days in office have provided plenty of motivation. “The way he’s conducted himself, his persona, to me is borderline disgraceful,” McGinnis said.
Yet for Democrats, Trump’s victory may have come with the cruelest political irony of all: the dawning realization that they might need to borrow his populist economic message to take back the White House. McGinnis said focusing on union voters, a traditional pillar of the Democratic Party, was a good place to start.
“We barely won that vote because we barely talked to those people. There were a lot of people who were concerned about trade,” he said. “We didn’t address those concerns.”
Back in the union hall in Coatesville, Long, the president of United Steelworkers Amalgamated Local 1165, said he was rooting for Trump to succeed, though he is learning to temper his expectations.
For Long, one such moment came in early March, when the White House announced it would not require the use of American steel in the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The move flew in the face one of Trump’s first executive orders, which directed companies to use U.S.-made steel in new pipeline projects.
The decision was another indication, Long said, that Trump cannot single handedly reverse the decline of the country’s industrial and manufacturing sectors.
“I don’t think it’s possible. I’d like to see it, but I think there’s too much working against it,” Long said. In a global economy, companies will “continue to find lower labor markets. They can ship resources wherever they want to now. They’re just chasing the lowest costs.”
Long said he did not fault Trump for using foreign steel in some of his real estate projects. “On principle, he didn’t do the right thing,” Long said, if the objective was protecting U.S. jobs. “But as a businessman, he’s going to do what’s right for the bottom line.”
Since Long joined his union in 1994, membership has dwindled from roughly 1,600 workers to around 800, he said. In the past two decades, the workforce at ArcelorMittal, the steel plant in Coatesville where Long works as a millwright, has also declined by 50 percent. The mill has gone through several sales and mergers, adding another layer of instability. The plant was briefly owned by the International Steel Group, a consortium formed by Wilbur Ross — Trump’s secretary of commerce — who sold the company for $4.5 billion in 2004.
The union was solidly Democratic in the past, but Long said he’s not sure how long that will last. He estimated that the union split its vote evenly between Trump and Clinton in 2016. The result was a far cry from the early 1990s, when Bill Clinton gave a speech to a packed, standing-room-only crowd at the union hall the day after he accepted the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992.
A plaque above the union’s assembly hall commemorates Clinton’s appearance. Long said Clinton returned to the union to speak with members in 2008, during his wife’s first presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton did not visit Coatesville on the campaign trail last year.
Last November, Long cast a write-in vote for Bernie Sanders after deciding the Vermont senator was a more consistent champion of labor than Clinton. But Trump won, and now Long said he has no choice but to hope that the president can deliver on his economic promises.
“I want to remain optimistic,” said Long, who is a father of four. “He’s not my ideal choice. But this is my country, and I want a better future for my daughters. Hopefully he can be part of that.”
President Donald Trump’s executive order seeking to find new ocean expanses in the Atlantic and the Arctic for offshore drilling isn’t likely to reach its goals anytime soon, but instead will kick off a yearslong review and legal battle.
Trump signed the order Friday aimed at dismantling a key part of former President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy.
“This executive order starts the process of opening offshore areas to job-creating energy exploration,” he said. “It reverses the previous administration’s Arctic leasing ban and directs Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to allow responsible development of off-shore areas that will bring revenue to our treasury and jobs to our workers.”
Despite Trump’s assertion that the nation needs to wean itself of foreign oil, U.S. oil imports have declined in recent years as domestic production boomed amid improved drilling techniques opening up once unreachable areas.
And environmental law and policy experts questioned Trump’s authority to reverse Obama’s withdrawal of certain areas in the Arctic or Atlantic to drilling, a question likely to be decided in the courts.
“It’s not quite as simple as the president signs something and it undoes the past,” said Sean Hecht, a University of California, Los Angeles environmental law professor.
For instance, Obama used his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to protect Arctic areas from oil drilling late last year, a move Trump’s order seeks to undo. At the time, Obama administration lawyers said they were confident that move would be upheld in court.
Legal experts say the law has never been used by a president to remove protections, just to create them.
Trump’s order also directed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to conduct a review of marine monuments and sanctuaries designated this past decade. Obama issued monument proclamations under the Antiquities Act, including the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in the Atlantic, which protected that swath of sea from drilling.
Legal scholars said Trump would enter uncharted waters if he seeks to undo a national monument proclamation in an effort to remove environmental protections.
Under Trump’s order, Interior Secretary Zinke will start to review the government’s plan that dictates which federal locations are open to offshore drilling, known as the 5-year plan.
The administration can redo the 5-year-plan, but it’s a long process. Zinke said the leases scheduled under the existing plan would remain in effect during the review, which he estimated would take years before any new leases are possible.
Still, Pam Giblin, an Austin, Texas-based environmental attorney who represents energy companies said Trump’s order is welcome to her clients despite the limitations they see.
“Every one of these orders is primarily aspirational. But it is starting to change the lens through which government is talking about fossil fuels,” she said.
The new 5-year plan could indeed open new areas of oil and gas exploration in waters off Virginia, Georgia and North and South Carolina, where drilling has been blocked for decades. Many lawmakers in those states support offshore drilling, and Alaska’s governor and its Washington delegation all supported the order.
But the plan faces opposition from the fishing industry, tourism groups and even the U.S. military, which has said Atlantic offshore drilling could hurt military maneuvers and interfere with missile tests needed to help protect the East Coast.
More than 120 coastal communities from New Jersey to Florida have passed resolutions opposing any Atlantic drilling.
“Allowing offshore drilling is a forever decision that will forever change our way of life for the worse,” said Frank Knapp, president of Columbia, South Carolina-based Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast.
Environmental groups are preparing for the fight to come, saying that opening up vast areas to drilling harms whales, walruses and other wildlife and exacerbates global warming.
“We will go to court to enforce the law and ensure President Obama’s protections remain in place,” Trip Van Noppen, president of the environmental legal organization Earthjustice, said in a statement.
The post Experts: Long road ahead for Trump offshore drilling order appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
ATLANTA — For nearly a decade, gun owners felt like they were living on pins and needles, worried about gun rights being taken away and feeling as though their way of life was scorned and under attack.
All those fears disappeared the moment Donald Trump was elected president and, this weekend, National Rifle Association members gathering for the gun lobby’s annual meeting are celebrating and rejoicing.
A year ago, Trump was addressing the NRA as a candidate. Friday offered a homecoming of sorts as President Trump thanked its members for their support. They responded with cheers as he rattled off the names of several of his appointees — from newly installed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch to Attorney General Jeff Sessions — and boos for his usual foes: Hillary Clinton and the media.
The first sitting president to address the NRA since 1983, Trump made it clear in a stump-style speech that he wasn’t wavering in his support for gun rights: “The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end.”
Mike Van Durme, a retired environmental police officer in New York and co-author of a book on hunter safety, said it’s been a relief to have a president in the White House who is a gun owner and supportive of gun rights.
“It was eight years of being frustrated and sad that the guy who is supposed to represent us embarrassed me,” Van Durme said, describing Barack Obama as disrespectful of members of law enforcement and the military and too deferential to foreign leaders. “The guy we just saw here? Like the song says, ‘He’s proud to be an American.'”
During the campaign, the NRA poured more than $30 million into Trump’s effort. Trump himself has said he has a concealed-carry permit and owns guns and son Donald Trump Jr. is a well-known hunter and key supporter of efforts to ease restrictions on the sales of suppressors. During the campaign, Trump promised to do away with Obama’s efforts to strengthen background checks and to eliminate gun-free zones at schools and military bases.
Trump’s address was reminiscent of his election rallies. He told NRA members he would not back away from defending the right to bear arms.
“You have a true friend and champion in the White House,” he said.
Leading up to his taking the stage, the NRA played a video with snippets of various celebrities and political pundits poo-pooing the chances of Trump being elected president interspersed with Election Night newscasts as state after state came in for Trump. The underdog emerging victorious proved popular to those in the crowd who view Trump as their champion — most especially when it comes to gun rights.
Still, his appearance in Atlanta sparked protests from people advocating for stricter gun control measures.
Lorraine Bascombe, who works in the health care industry and lives in suburban Atlanta, said she expected any Republican president to favor fewer regulations on gun purchases. But she worries Trump won’t listen to people who want “sensible, safe” gun control.
Bascombe said Republicans “stalled and prevented” Obama from increasing restrictions on gun sales, a stalemate she found frustrating.
“The NRA has so much lobbying power and I don’t see that changing anytime soon,” she said. “That’s my angst.”
Protesters were particularly worried about efforts to push for federal legislation to make any state’s concealed-carry permits valid nationwide, which they fear will effectively turn the weakest gun standards in the nation into the law of the land. The GOP-led Congress already passed a resolution to block a rule that would have kept guns out of the hands of certain people with mental disorders, and Trump quickly signed it.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on the plane trip from Washington that NRA members supported Trump during the election based on his strong commitment to gun rights. He also cited Trump’s appointment of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
“I know the NRA is glad to have a justice in that seat who is such a staunch defender of the Constitution,” he said.
For Ty Smith, who as a college student in north Georgia helped organize students to vote for Trump, having the president in the same room gave him chills. “I would do anything for this man,” he said.
Smith said he found it inspiring to have a sitting president address the NRA. “For me, I feel like he’s fighting for me,” he said.
Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire, Bill Barrow and Kathleen Foody contributed to this report.
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WASHINGTON — From cancer to addiction, doctors and patient groups are warning that the latest Republican health care bill would gut hard-won protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Some GOP moderates who may seal the legislation’s fate are echoing those concerns.
In a strongly worded statement this week, the American Medical Association said the Republican protections “may be illusory.” The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said the plan could take the nation back to a “patchwork system” that pushes costs on people with life-threatening conditions.
Such stark messages may be connecting with lawmakers anxious about making the right decision on issues that touch every family. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., said the rewritten bill “doesn’t change the fundamental concerns I had at the outset … making sure people with serious medical conditions could get affordable and adequate coverage.” Count him among the GOP moderates who remain opposed.
And veteran Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said Friday he’s “not comfortable” with the bill and would like to see it changed. A former chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Upton said he was concerned people with pre-existing medical problems could face unaffordable premiums.
The Affordable Care Act passed under President Barack Obama requires insurers to take all applicants, regardless of medical history. Patients with health problems pay the same standard premiums as healthy ones.
The latest version of House Republicans’ American Health Care Act would allow states to opt out of the requirement for standard premiums, under certain circumstances.[Watch Video]
If a state maintains safeguards such as a high-risk pool, it can allow insurers to use health status as a factor in setting premiums for people who have had a break in coverage and are trying to get a new individual policy. Critics of the Republican approach say there is no requirement that a state must provide an affordable coverage option for those consumers.
Proponents say people in poor health would still be protected as long as they maintain coverage. And the higher premiums would revert back to standard rates after 12 months, assuming the customer could afford to keep paying.
“All they are doing is moving the venue where people are going to be discriminated against,” said AMA President Andrew Gurman. “It would simply give them an escape clause for 50 states.” The nation’s largest doctors’ group supported passage of the Obama-era law, and is now pressing for a bipartisan approach to fix problems with the program.
Gurman used the hypothetical example of a low-income worker with a new cancer diagnosis.
“This is not the kind of thing you can put off for a while,” he said. “They’re going to need urgent surgery, radiation. They are not going to be able to work. If they lose coverage for more than 60 days, how are they going to afford huge insurance premiums? That scenario is all too common, unfortunately.”
Along with the AMA and other groups, the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society is raising concerns about another GOP provision that would let states to get waivers from “essential health benefits.” That’s the requirement in the Obama-era law that insurers must cover 10 broad categories of services, from hospitalization to preventive care, from lab tests to mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Part of the risk is that the ACA’s financial protections, including no annual or lifetime dollar limits on coverage, are tied to medical care under the essential benefits.
“Without these protections in place, we are returning to the Wild West again,” said Kirsten Sloan, vice president for policy at the Cancer Action Network.
Nonetheless House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said recently he thought people with pre-existing medical conditions would be better off under the GOP plan because they’d have more options. “That’s the whole goal,” he said, “to make it easier for people.”
But Republican health economist Gail Wilensky said she’s greatly concerned about the latest shift on pre-existing conditions.
“It definitely gives the state the option, in a waiver process, of greatly diminishing if not gutting the pre-existing conditions protections,” she said. High-risk pools can serve effectively as a backstop, she added, but House Republicans have not provided enough money for them.
“I think this is flawed,” Wilensky said. “The moderates in the House are pushing back, and I can’t imagine it getting out of the Senate.”
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WASHINGTON — Washington’s once-glitzy “nerd prom” was briefly upstaged Saturday as comedians and Hollywood stars gathered for jokes and jests about President Donald Trump for a tongue-in-cheek event to counter the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Late-night TV star Samantha Bee pulled in celebrities for the first “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner”: Alysia Reiner of “Orange Is the New Black,” Retta of “Parks and Recreation” and Matt Walsh of “Veep.” Bee’s show, a comedic tribute to American news organizations, featured actor Will Ferrell and other guests roasting Trump and his allies.
The star power of the real correspondents’ dinner took a hit this year when Trump declined to attend, the first president since Ronald Reagan in 1981 to skip it. In Reagan’s case, he was recovering from an assassination attempt. Trump did his own counter-programming, scheduling a rally Saturday night in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to mark his 100th day in office.
The absence of the president himself at the WHCA dinner or even officials from the administration seemed to diminish attendance by big names in film, television and sports.
Barack Obama’s humorous remarks had become a highlight at the dinner. Last year, for Obama’s final appearance, the crowd included Will Smith, Emma Watson, Kerry Washington, Helen Mirren and model Kendall Jenner.[Watch Video]
For years, the event offered Washington’s press corps an opportunity to wear black tie and stunning gowns while mixing with celebrities. With Trump out, organizers put the focus on the First Amendment and the role of the press in democracy.
The scheduled headliners were Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, set to present journalism awards. Woodward told The Washington Post the two planned to speak about “the First Amendment and the importance of aggressive but fair reporting.”
The dinner still booked a master of ceremonies: Hasan Minhaj of “The Daily Show.” Broadcast coverage was to begin at 9:30 p.m. on C-SPAN, followed by Bee’s event airing on TBS at 10 p.m.
Jeff Mason, the WHCA president, said this year would have been different even if Trump had attended, “based on the tension that has existed in the relationship and some of the things he has said about the press. We were preparing for a different dinner either way.”
Trump has called the media “fake” and “dishonest” and even “the enemy of the people.” In an emailed fundraising appeal before leaving for Pennsylvania, Trump cited among the accomplishments over his first 100 days, “We fought back against the media’s lies.”
Mason promised that Minhaj would use his comedy chops, without “roasting the president in absentia.”
“People don’t want to come to a dinner and feel bored or preached at. Hopefully neither of those things will happen,” Mason said.
Bee, who hosts TBS’ weekly show “Full Frontal,” said she cared deeply about the press.
“For God’s sake, we could not do our show if things were more restricted. So, boy, nobody needs press freedom more than we do,” she told The Associated Press in an interview.
Bee’s taped show singled out the Committee to Protect Journalists, the nonprofit group that will receive proceeds from the show. The show humorously assailed topics like “alternative facts,” a remark once made by Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway that drew heavy criticism.
The official WHCA dinner began in 1921. Most people trace the development of the celebrity guests to 1987, when Baltimore Sun reporter Michael Kelly brought Fawn Hall, the secretary at the center of the Iran-Contra affair.
Associated Press writer Jocelyn Noveck contributed to this report.
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One hundred days into President Donald Trump’s term, we decided to look past the usual measures of success. Instead of unemployment numbers and GDP growth, we sought out economic indicators in unusual places. Here are some strange trends that have emerged since Inauguration Day:
1. Gun sales are down, but up among minorities and women
In a few short weeks, Donald Trump managed to do something President Barack Obama might have hoped for, but could never achieve: reduce the number of new gun sales. The Washington Post reports that by the best measure available—FBI background checks—sales dropped after Election Day, missed targets during the holidays and were down 17 percent in the first two months of 2017. Sales recovered somewhat in March, but they’re not as stratospheric as they were when enthusiasts feared President Obama might enforce strict gun control. Karl Sorken, a gun manufacturer in Houston, told Fox News that “President Obama was the best gun salesman the world has ever seen.”
While sales are dropping overall, women and minorities are buying more guns after Trump’s win, driven by concerns about racism and violence, the Post reports.
2. Swiss Watchmakers are banking on a big American tax cut
Luxury goods sales in the U.S. have been hurting for the last few years, and nobody is more ticked off than Swiss watchmakers. Not only do they have to compete against Fitbits and Apple watches, but the centuries-old industry is fighting for a declining slice of disposable American income. A massive tax cut coupled with a strong dollar could be a boon for for the Swiss, but only if the luxury imports can skirt any new protectionist Trump trade policies, the Financial Times reports.
3. The “failing” media is not failing
To read the President’s tweets, one would think the U.S. media industry was in the tailspin. But the reality is, the corporations behind the “failing” and “fake” mainstream media are having a banner year, TheStreet reports. Growing audiences, increased subscribers and a hope that lax FCC regulations will enable more TV station consolidation are driving meteoric growth. CBS (+9%), NewsCorp (+13.4%), Disney (+8.8%), the New York Times Co. (+8.1%), Sinclair (+21.4%), and just about every other major media company are outperforming the market.
4. Companies close to Trump aren’t doing so well
Critics feared President Trump’s habit of selecting business leaders for key government positions would unfairly benefit their former companies. But Rob Cox of Reuters points out that proximity to the president isn’t necessarily helping anyone’s bottom line—at least so far. ExxonMobil, where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was CEO before joining Trump’s cabinet, has lost 6 percent of its value since inauguration day and failed to secure a drilling waiver in Russia. Goldman Sachs, which was home to economic adviser Gary Cohn and NSC deputy Dina Powell, is down 3 percent.
5. The Nuclear bomb shelter business is … booming
A bomb shelter construction company in Texas reported sales increased 500 to 700 percent right after the election. The owner, Clyde Scott, told CNBC that he used to primarily cater to right-wing preppers who feared the government, but now orders from liberals are “coming out of the woodwork.” Scott’s most popular model sells for $125,000. But U.S. liberals aren’t the only ones building shelters. A Japanese company already received more orders for shelters in April than they normally receive in a year, the Asahi Shimbun reported.
READ THIS: ‘Are we a red state or a blue state?’ Life in a Pennsylvania swing county 100 days into Trump’s presidency
6. Mergers and acquisitions are off the charts
It’s a great time get together, if you’re a corporation. More than 3,100 merger and acquisition deals have been announced in the U.S. so far in 2017, according to data from Thompson-Reuters. That figure already outpaces 2016’s full year total. Despite a certain level of uncertainty in the markets, Business Insider reports that U.S. executives view President Trump as merger-friendly, and they see the moves as a good way to spark growth.
7. Poster boards and markers are flying off the shelves
Americans spent more than $6 million on materials to make homemade protest posters in January, Marketwatch reported. At times, poster boards and markers have been in such short supply, crafty signmakers have resorted to using cardboard boxes and discarded bedsheets.
Some more interesting trends:
• Economic anxiety is down, while trust in the government’s numbers is up.
• Virtual currencies are hitting record values, and nobody can seem to agree why.
• Obamacare has never been more popular.
• Breweries are worried: there’s a good chance legal pot is going to take the fizz out of the market for beer.
Editor’s note: The headline on this post has been changed to remove the word “economic.”
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