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

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But first: President Trump announced over the weekend that he will decide this week whether the U.S. will remain part of the Paris climate accord.

    That accord, signed last year by 195 countries, commits those nations to significantly reduce their carbon emissions to combat climate change. But President Trump has long argued that environmental regulations cost American jobs, and he’s vowed to undo them, and he’s also described climate change itself as a hoax. European leaders last week urged the president not walk away from the accord.

    In Scandinavia, which is a world leader in green technology, politicians and environmentalists want the president to follow their lead, and increase investment in environmentally friendly technologies like electric cars.

    Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Norway, the world’s fastest growing electric car market.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Norway prides itself on being one of the world’s most pristine countries. Yet, amid the stunning scenery, there are reminders that its vast wealth comes from decades of gas and oil production.

    But Norwegians are turning their backs on fossil fuels and embracing electric cars like nowhere else.

    Ann Kunish, who moved from Wisconsin 30 years ago, is one of the new converts.

    ANN KUNISH, Music Librarian: This car is a no-brainer. There’s no question about it. It’s very, very easy to choose electric cars. The Norwegian government has made it much more financially feasible to buy them. They don’t have the same fees, free parking in municipal spots. More and more charging stations are being built, lower yearly fee to use the roads, no tolls.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: New electric car sales in Norway have now passed 100,000, giving it the highest per capita ownership level in the world. In comparison, there are over half-a-million electric cars in the U.S. To have the same percentage as Norway, America would require 6.25 million electric cars on the road.

    This is Oslo’s rush hour, as electric car drivers hunt a parking spot at the city’s biggest charging station. The energy is almost completely renewable energy, as 98 percent of the country’s power comes from hydroelectric plants.

    Norwegians endure some of the world’s heaviest taxes, and removing sales tariffs from electric cars has been irresistible. The government aims to end sales of gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2025.

    PETTER HAUGNELAND, Industry Advocate: There has to be a big difference if you choose a zero emission car or a polluting car when you buy it on the tax system.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Industry advocate Petter Haugneland argues taxes on fossil fuel vehicles should be increased to speed up the process.

    PETTER HAUGNELAND: In Norway, transport sector is a key element to lower the emissions. We need to cut our emissions very fast if we’re going to do something about the climate problem.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: In March, President Trump canceled a fuel economy ruling put in place by the Obama administration requiring automakers to achieve 54 miles a gallon by 2025, double the present level. Environmentalists claimed higher standards would boost sales of hybrid and electric cars.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The assault on the America auto industry, believe me, is over. It’s over.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Norway’s environment minister, Vidar Helgesen, belongs to a center-right party that once aligned with the Republicans. It now has more in common with the Democrats. Helgesen didn’t criticize President Trump directly, but sent a clear message not to turn back the clock.

    VIDAR HELGESEN, Foreign Minister, Norway: Our position is very much that we very much need to build competitiveness for the future. We also need to care about the jobs that don’t exist today that need to exist in the future. We know that the Chinese are investing massively in renewable energy. We know the Chinese and other major up coming economies are investing a lot in electric vehicles. I think they’re building green competitiveness for the future.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: And this is precisely what the minister is talking about: an electric car start-up in southern Sweden which is reinventing the steering wheel to be more like a game console.

    LEWIS HORNE, CEO, Uniti: This is not how we will mechanically achieve it in the car, because this is not very nice for the user. There are different ways we will mechanically achieve it, which will be unveiled later this year.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The CEO, Lewis Horne, has taken on 30 engineers and hopes to employ 1,000 people once production begins in early 2019 on a compact car that’s still under wraps.

    LEWIS HORNE: So, you can see a little hint of two models which are the result of a lot of research and design. In the future, the jobs are just different. Historically, when we have had an industry that’s so damaging to our health now, that’s not a place where you should be creating more jobs. We should be creating more jobs in the future of these industries.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: There is no more beautiful sight than an American-made car.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The owner of this ’56 Chevy Bel Air couldn’t agree more. Henning Kjensli works for the American Car Club of Norway.

    But while he’s sympathetic to the need for job creation, he’s also in favor of going green.

    HENNING KJENSLI, Commercial Manager, AMCAR: Developing and researching new technology costs tons of money. And right now, the best earnings in the American automobile market is in the full-size pickup and SUV segment.

    They should still make those cars and sell them and make money off of them, but they need to sort of reinvest the profits from those cars into new and modern technology.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Fuel prices are the crucial difference between the U.S. and Norway. Norwegians pay about $7 a gallon. Gas is roughly five dollars cheaper in America, reducing the financial incentive to drive electric.

    This is a partially American-made electric car, the $35,000 Ampera-e. It’s a collaboration between General Motors and South Korea’s L.G. GM’s European arm, Opel, launched the car in Norway in May.

    Impressed by its range of more than 300 miles on a single charge, so many Norwegians have been ordering the Ampera-e, that there’s now a 15-month waiting list.

    MAN: We are not going back. We are heading into the future. I think, in 10 years, we will see that at least half of the sale from Opel is electric, if things are moving in the direction we are seeing right now.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Norway may be a world leader when it comes to electric cars, but its environmental record is far from perfect. Its greenhouse gas emissions are increasing. Most of those are coming from oil and gas production, which provides Norway with its wealth.

    And critics are very unhappy that Norway is pushing to expand fossil fuel production in the Arctic and believe that its climate change policies are inconsistent.

    FREDERIC HAUGE, Bellona Foundation: It’s schizophrenic, because Norway is a nice little country of petroholics.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: This top-of-the-range electric SUV is the pride and joy of Frederic Hauge, a veteran eco-warrior who was a pioneer of electric cars in Norway.

    FREDERIC HAUGE: You can say maybe that the electric car is a Trojan horse towards the Norwegian oil industry. The battery revolution will bring down the oil price to $20 to $25 a barrel before 2030. And then the stupid things Norway is doing in the Arctic, the oil drilling, will also be stopped because of economic reasons.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We’re setting up a task force in every federal agency to identify and remove any regulation that undermines American auto production and any other kind of production.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Such statements alarm environmentalists in Denmark 300 miles to the south. Denmark generates about 40 percent of its electricity from wind power and is on track to hit its target of 50 percent by 2020. But these and other renewable energy efforts need to be increased, according to Danish climate scientist Sebastian Mernild.

    SEBASTIAN MERNILD, Nansen Environmental Center: Regarding this green development, we can hardly see any impact so far, because the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing year by year. We are for sure helping the environment, but not enough. And we need to speed up this green development.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The European Union, whose environment agency is based in Copenhagen, is fully committed to the Paris climate agreement, which requires signatories to tighten up emissions by 2020 and beyond. Its dismayed that the president may leave the accord.

    Climate change specialist Magda Jozwicka.

    MAGDA JOZWICKA, Europe Environment Agency: It is, of course, very important that countries around the world stick to the Paris agreement, because, overall, we need to work on our long-term de-carbonization goals and the long-term well-being.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The Scandinavians doubt that environmental arguments will change the president’s mind, but they hope the economic case for electric cars will have more success.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Malcolm Brabant in Norway.

    The post How Norway’s government made electric cars irresistible appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For more on the allegations surrounding Jared Kushner, the White House’s handling of the Russia investigation, and a look at the president’s first trip abroad, it’s time for Politics Monday with Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    Welcome to you both. Happy Memorial Day.


    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Tam, first to you.

    We have just been hearing about these allegations about Jared Kushner and this possible back channel he wanted to deal with the Russians. What is your sense of how the White House is handling this and dealing with this?

    TAMARA KEITH: Well, the president has been tweeting about fake news over the weekend. He sort of came home, and the Twitter machine turned right back on.

    And he wasn’t necessarily explicitly responding to this, but it certainly seemed like some of it may have been inspired by this, certainly.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s the assumption.

    TAMARA KEITH: And there’s a lot of reporting that I have not personally been able to confirm, but that the White House is looking at creating sort of a war room-type of thing, where there would be — much like in the Clinton administration, where there would be people walled off to deal with this.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Well, and the war room would be on top of another potential shakeup, which is — we hear the story of a potential shakeup in the White House, it seems, every other week.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And this week is no different.

    AMY WALTER: And this week seems to be no different, even though …

    TAMARA KEITH: And thus far, it hasn’t shaken.

    AMY WALTER: Correct.

    TAMARA KEITH: But this week could be the week that that changes.

    AMY WALTER: That’s right.

    Usually, you do a shakeup because you know that you have a problem or you gaps and you’re going to fill those gaps. The challenge here, though, is, even in building the war room, what they’re talking about is bringing people in to fill the gaps who have the same problems and challenges as the people who are currently there in the White House.

    They don’t have any governing experience. They have loyalty to Donald Trump, but don’t have the breadth of experience in dealing with Washington that you need to do to set up as something as complicated as a war room. And in dealing with Washington, especially the legislative process, they still don’t have people in positions who can go up and work with Capitol Hill.

    Most important, you can have a war room, you can have a war plan, but if your general — in this case, it’s Donald Trump — isn’t following the plan and is tweeting or is going and giving interviews that contradict the plan, then none of this really matters.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Makes your job very tough.

    AMY WALTER: Yes.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For those people who are not following the scuttlebutt about this, if there’s a shakeup, they’re talking about, what, in the communications department of the White House?

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes, most of the focus has been on the communications, which that seems like treating the surface-level thing and there’s something very deep going on well below the surface.

    The White House certainly has had trouble in the ways it has communicated. Part of that is that, you know, they do have policy proposals that they’re trying to push out, but often they don’t provide the information backing it up.

    You know, let’s go with the president’s tax proposal. Now, in part, that was because the president in an interview said, I’m going to have a tax proposal and you need to get it together in a week. And so they threw together a tax proposal in a week.

    There wasn’t a lot of communication or anything about sort of like what this thing is. Ultimately, it was on one sheet of paper, and there was no electronic version. It was just a sheet of paper that was passed around, and then we would take pictures and text it to our colleagues.

    So, that is not like a fully built-up plan. That’s not a rollout. And they have been not doing a lot of rollouts. So, even now, they’re not in control of their narrative with a lot of the stuff because there are leaks and there are stories and every day there is a story.

    But the things that they do control, they have not done it in a way that past White Houses have, where they have been able to sort of more dominate the conversation.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What does this do to the president’s larger agenda? It seems like if they’re not — they have got the White House, they have got the Senate, they have got the Congress.

    This is their time.

    AMY WALTER: This is exactly right.

    He’s going to be judged — this president is going to be judged on how well he governs. And his party is going to be judged on that more quickly than he is. They’re up in 2018.

    The challenge isn’t simply that it is difficult to get some of these big things through, right? It’s hard enough to get health care, tax reform, infrastructure, but when the president lacks the focus and the discipline to help make this happen.

    So part of the challenge is, if you’re going to stick — as I said, you’re going to stick with a war plan, then stick with the war plan. But when you have your plan going forward, and then a tweet comes from the president of the United States that then takes us off-track and back into this morass, it seems every time the White House seems to be moving on, getting to the next topic, the president, whether by tweets or by interviews or saying something off the cuff, brings them right back to where they started.

    If it were up to the president, his communication strategy would simply be for him to get on every day in front of — or behind the podium, he would be the only messenger. He sees himself still as the best messenger.

    But the chaos candidacy that worked for him in 2016, it’s the style that worked for him in the business world, of course it can translate, he believes. Of course it is going to translate into governing. It doesn’t. It hasn’t.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You were with the president when he seemed to be doing some of what Amy is describing. This was on his whole trip abroad.

    What do they look back at, the administration, as the successes of that trip?

    TAMARA KEITH: The remarkable thing is, throughout the trip, we were on our way to Israel — or we were on our way to Rome, and we were asking an administration official, how did it go in Israel? What did you think?

    And they kept going back to Saudi Arabia. Every — every time that they had a chance, administration officials went back to Saudi Arabia.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: They saw that as the highlight of the trip?

    TAMARA KEITH: I think they really did see that as the highlight of the trip.

    And one thing that stands out to me about that is that they announced nearly $400 billion in deals, and we still don’t have the details of what those deals are. And it’s not for lack of trying to get that information. I have been asking on a regular basis, you know, hey, that arms deal, what’s it made up of? Where does the other $400 billion come from — or $300 billion?

    And it just has not been forthcoming. But they really do believe that that beginning part — you know, one administration official said that the president brought the Muslim world together. They talk about it in superlatives.


    One of the things that we also saw, the president went and signed some big deals in Saudi Arabia. He also went and told the Europeans, hey, you guys got to pay out more for NATO.

    AMY WALTER: That’s right.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On some level, this is what his base expects of him.

    AMY WALTER: Absolutely.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I’m going to go rattle the cage. I’m going to tell those euro guys what’s what.

    Like, this has to resonate very strongly with them.

    AMY WALTER: Well, this is — he campaigned as an America-first candidate.

    He campaigned as somebody who was very skeptical of these multinational deals. He was supportive of Brexit. He was very skeptical of NATO. So what we saw of President Trump in Europe was what we saw of President Trump as a candidate.

    So, that, we shouldn’t be surprised at all about. I think there were mixed signals, at the same time, from administration officials, saying, well, of course we’re still very supportive of NATO. Of course, even though we didn’t explicitly, the president didn’t explicitly use the term Article 5 in his speech, of course he supports that.

    So I still think there’s some tension there. But it’s pretty clear that, when the president made his statements as a candidate, he’s following through with those as a president.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you both very much.

    AMY WALTER: You’re welcome.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    The post Will a ‘war room’ for combatting Russia probe fallout help the White House? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Now to the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election, and whether the Trump campaign was in any way involved, may have taken a step closer to the president’s own family.

    It was another weekend of damage control for the Trump White House, this following allegations against President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. On Friday, The Washington Post reported that, in December, Kushner discussed with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak the possibility of opening a secret and secure communications channel between the Trump team and Moscow.

    It adds, they considered using Russian diplomatic sites in the U.S. in order to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring.

    Several top administration officials, while not confirming the allegations, have come out defending Kushner.

    Yesterday, on ABC’s “This Week,” Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said that the idea didn’t bother him.

    JOHN KELLY, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary: It’s both normal, in my opinion, and acceptable. Any way that you can communicate with people, particularly organizations that are maybe not particularly friendly to us, is a good thing.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Separately, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters he too wasn’t concerned. He said: “We have back-channel communications with a number of countries.”

    And on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina questioned the allegations altogether.

    SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: I don’t trust this story as far as I can throw it. The whole storyline is suspicious. I have never been more concerned and suspicious about all things Russia than I am right now.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For his part, the president told The New York Times on Sunday he has total confidence in his son-in-law.

    All this, however, has done little to quell the storm of criticism. Former Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin told MSNBC he was shocked by the charges.

    JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, Former Acting CIA Director: I can’t keep out of my mind the thought that if an American intelligence officer had done anything like this, we’d consider it espionage.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And back on ABC’s “This Week,” California Democrat Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Kushner’s access to classified material needs to be reexamined.

    REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-Calif.: But I do think there ought to be a review of his security clearance to find out whether he was truthful, whether he was candid. If not then, there’s no way he can maintain that kind of a clearance.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Before these latest allegations broke, Kushner’s attorneys said he’d work with the Senate on its investigation into Russian election meddling. Yesterday, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee Tennessee Republican Bob Corker said Kushner will still cooperate.

    With me now to discuss the Kushner allegations, and the wider Russia probe, are two men with deep knowledge of intelligence and law enforcement.

    Frank Montoya Jr. spent 26 years in the FBI. He oversaw national security and counterintelligence probes. He joins us from Salt Lake City. And John Sipher served 28 years in the CIA’s clandestine service stationed in Russia and Eastern Europe. He also ran counterintelligence investigations within the agency. He’s now with the consulting firm CrossLead.

    Welcome to you both.

    John Sipher, I would like to start with you.

    What is your reaction to this? You said to me earlier that this leak, this particular leak, is different from other leaks. How so?

    JOHN SIPHER, Former CIA Officer: What strikes me about this which is so unusual is, this is really putting hyperpartisanship. It’s putting party above country.

    It’s trusting a hostile foreign government more than you trust the duly elected government that is in power at the time. And what’s also unusual about this, I think, is many of these leaks, as frustrating as they probably are to the administration, don’t strike to the heart of the investigation.

    This one sounds like it may do so, because it highlights a sensitive collection effort, if, in fact, true, and also it looks like it gives some information on some of the things we have been seeing around the edges for months now.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Frank Montoya, turning to you, what is your reaction to all this?

    I mean, you heard the administration’s defenders, the national security adviser, many people arguing this is nothing, nothing to see here, please move on. What is your reaction?

    FRANK MONTOYA JR., Former FBI Agent: John is spot on. I think some of the other aspects of this, we get track two kind of communications or diplomacy or however you want to call these, whether it’s a back-channel access to a government, but that’s usually when you are the government in power, having that communication with another government.

    What really stands out to me in this one is the discussion, if true, as John noted, about using a foreign nation state’s communications system, especially like a foreign nation state like Russia.

    It’s just — I think a term used this past weekend about either being incredibly naive or absolutely crazy. I would say stupid is more like it in terms of just the thought process that had to occur if, in fact, that was the discussion.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: John, you heard Frank mention this, the idea that, again, if these allegations are true, that Kushner asked the Russians, can we use your facilities, your hardware to have these communications?

    Why is that particularly troubling?

    JOHN SIPHER: This is a very sophisticated adversary.

    The notion that we would go and work with them inside their embassy, this is something that just is beyond the pale for professionals. And it almost is, if you want to assume this is naivete by the Trump campaign and Mr. Kushner, it really is like lambs going in to do with the lions here. This is a very dangerous thing.

    People who deal with the Russians in the government follow a whole series of procedures and regulations to avoid concerns of espionage and subversion and corruption. And it doesn’t appear that they did here.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Do you think that there is another rational explanation for this, that, perhaps as some of Kushner’s supporters have said, they genuinely wanted to talk to the Russians about Syria and other matters, and this was just maybe a poorly chosen vehicle for having those conversations?

    JOHN SIPHER: It’s possible, but like Frank said, then very stupid.

    Perhaps there’s naivete here. Having a back channel is something that governments have done in the past, and there is nothing wrong with it. But my question would be, why the secrecy? The president-elect had been talking about changing the relationship with Russia for quite a long time.

    There would be no need to go to this effort to try to hide from your own government what you’re doing.

    FRANK MONTOYA JR.: Yes, if I could add to that, William, this is also demonstrating a gross distrust or mistrust of his own intelligence community.

    If that’s what he wanted to do, we could have facilitated that for him. Even as president-elect, moving into the inauguration and beyond, when he becomes the government, this is what we do for our presidents.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I know you talk with a lot of agents, some of them who might be in the midst of this actual investigation.

    What do these ongoing leaks mean to them, do to them, do to their ability to do their jobs?

    FRANK MONTOYA JR.: Yes, from a day-to-day perspective, it makes it incredibly difficult.

    Who they going to be able to talk that is going to want to tell them the straight story, if it’s — the fear is, it’s going to show up on a news channel or on cable or on the Internet?

    And so, yes, it really does make it difficult to dig into the matters that need to be addressed and, you know, to put together the pieces of the puzzle that will get us to the end of this thing.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But couldn’t you also argue that there is a societal benefit, that we — it’s useful for people to know what their government is up to?

    FRANK MONTOYA JR.: Yes, that’s one of the conundrums right now.

    This started out anyway as a counterintelligence investigation. It’s become public. There are aspects of this, I think, that are really important. When you look at it from a historical context, for instance, one of the key sources in the Watergate issue was an FBI special agent.

    And so individuals that have information, if there is concern that it may — that things are not going the way that they should be or they are not going to be able to make the case, could that be a reason for these leaks, at least to get the information out there to address initiatives beyond an operation or a source or a method, but actually involves the security of the republic?

    Yes, I can see why people would think that way.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: John, did you want to add to that?

    JOHN SIPHER: Just want to add one thing.

    A lot of these leaks, there’s sort of talk around this that there’s a deep state of people in the law enforcement and intelligence community that are trying to undermine the president.

    And I want to make it clear, from my understanding, is, I don’t think that’s the case. There are a lot of leaks here, but like many leaks in this town, they tend to come from the White House or Congress or people who are back-briefed on pieces of information.

    And when that comes out, that’s very frustrating. But I have seen very little that looks like it’s come out with the kind of detail that is coming from the professionals in the FBI or the CIA, the information that is behind this look.

    So, frustrating, yes, but, so far, I don’t think this stuff is the professionals are trying to undermine the administration in any way.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, John Sipher, Frank Montoya, thank you both very much.

    JOHN SIPHER: Thanks.

    FRANK MONTOYA JR.: You bet. Thank you.

    The post Damage control over Jared Kushner’s reported Russia communication hasn’t quelled criticism appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Americans spent this Memorial Day honoring the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. Since 1775, more than 1.2 million Americans have died serving our country.

    Lisa Desjardins reports.

    LISA DESJARDINS: On this national day of remembrance, there were large events, like a new president laying a wreath to an unknown soldier.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We honor the noblest among us.

    LISA DESJARDINS: At Arlington National Cemetery, President Trump expressed what he called undying gratitude.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We pay tribute to those brave souls who raced in to gunfire, roared into battle, and ran into hell to face down evil. They made their sacrifice not for fame, or for money, or even for glory, but for country.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Afterward, Mr. Trump stopped with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly at the grave of Kelly’s son Robert, who was killed in Afghanistan.

    From there, the president met other families in Section 60 of the cemetery, where military members killed most recently, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, are buried.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He’s looking down. And he’s very proud of you.

    WOMAN: Thank you so much. Thank you for everything you’re doing for the country.

    LISA DESJARDINS: But, for many, the holiday was defined by hometowns and smaller personal events. In Raleigh, North Carolina, the day was for supporting survivors.

    MAN: And we have a lot of Vietnam veterans in our detachment, so a lot of those guys have seen firsthand death, losing friends in their units, and so it’s just emotional for us.

    LISA DESJARDINS: At a military parade in Illinois, it was a day to salute veterans.

    And at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as in many places, it was a day of simple, important remembrance.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Lisa Desjardins.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Today, more than 1.3 million Americans are serving on active duty.

    In the day’s other news: North Korea fired another ballistic missile, the latest in a series of tests, defying international pressure. The short-range missile landed in Japanese territorial waters.

    In Tokyo, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary said there were no immediate reports of damage, but he delivered a sharp rebuke.

    YOSHIHIDE SUGA, Chief Cabinet Secretary, Japan (through interpreter): North Korea continues taking provocative actions, despite the repeated resolutions at the U.N. Security Council. Hence, it is necessary to apply pressure. It is not the time for dialogue for dialogue’s sake. We cannot tolerate these repeated actions and we lodge a strong protest against North Korea, criticizing them in the strongest form.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Back in this country, President Trump also weighed in on the test-launch, tweeting that “North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor China.”

    The White House also condemned the fatal stabbing of two men aboard a train in Portland, Oregon, last week. They were trying to help two young Muslim women who were being harassed by a white supremacist. One of the good samaritans who died was an Army veteran. A third man who also came to their aid was badly wounded, but survived.

    This morning, the president’s official White House Twitter account tweeted: “The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are with them.”

    The president tweets regularly from his personal account, which has not made mention of the Portland attack.

    Rescuers today in Sri Lanka recovered more bodies, raising the death toll from heavy floods and mudslides to at least 169 people. Crews worked around-the-clock to identify bodies and clear debris. More than 100 people are still missing since last Thursday’s downpour.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): My house and small shop were totally damaged by the floods. All my household items are gone with the water. Nothing is left, even jewelry, money and all our earnings gone with the water. We managed to survive.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Seventy-five thousand people have now fled to relief camps set up in the country’s south and west, as the country braces for yet more rain.

    This holiday weekend became a travel nightmare for British Airways customers. A power supply problem brought the airline’s computer systems to a halt, stranding some 75,000 travelers. But, today, flights returned to a near-normal schedule.

    British Airways’ chief executive said his company is working to determine what went wrong.

    ALEX CRUZ, CEO, British Airways: We are profusely, profusely apologetic about what has happened. We are very conscious of the hardship that many of our customers have had to go through on their way to their holidays, sometimes on the way to personal events.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Cruz said that, by day’s end, around two-thirds of passengers whose flights were canceled over the weekend will reach their destinations.

    And a passing of note: We learned today that renowned sportswriter and commentator Frank Deford died yesterday in Key West, Florida. His career spanned five decades, most notably writing for “Sports Illustrated” and providing commentary on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” from which he just retired just this month after 37 years.

    Deford’s views were always delivered with his signature passion and humor. He was in many ways the quintessential American sports fan, right down to his disdain for the internationally beloved game of soccer, as in this 2006 NewsHour interview.

    FRANK DEFORD, Sportswriter: Americans have proven over and over again that they don’t like the sport. There’s not enough scoring. There are too many ties. It’s a very frustrating game.

    What is called brilliant in soccer is an incomplete pass in football. And the sport itself is overdramatized with the falling down. There’s entirely too many — a high percentage of scores are because of penalties, which are very dubious. And, simply, we have shown over and over again that we reject that.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In 2013, President Obama awarded Deford the National Humanities Medal, the first sportswriter to ever receive the honor.

    Frank Deford was 78 years old.

    The post News Wrap: Trump pays tribute to fallen service members on Memorial Day appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A top White House communications staffer has resigned as President Donald Trump considers a major staff overhaul.

    The departure of Michael Dubke, Trump’s communications director, comes as aides say Trump has grown increasingly frustrated by allegations of Russian meddling  in the 2016 election and revelations of possible ties between his campaign and Moscow.

    Trump tweeted Tuesday:

    Dubke wrote in a statement that it had been an honor to serve Trump and “my distinct pleasure to work side-by-side, day-by-day with the staff of the communications and press departments.”

    Dubke’s last day has not yet been determined.

    A Republican consultant, Dubke joined the White House team in February after campaign aide Jason Miller — Trump’s original choice for communications director — withdrew from the White House team. Dubke founded Crossroads Media, a GOP firm that specializes in political advertising.

    Dubke is the latest White House staffer to leave this administration as scrutiny intensifies over contacts Trump staffers may have had with Russian government officials during the campaign and transition period.

    White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Dubke resigned before Trump left for his international trip earlier this month, suggesting that his departure is not linked to any pending shake-ups.

    But his departure raises questions about whether previous Trump loyalists are headed to the White House. Trump has entertained formally bringing back his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and former deputy campaign manager, David Bossie.

    Bossie told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” that the Trump administration has reached out to him but hasn’t offered him a job yet.

    “They have talked to many people, including me,” Bossie said. He later added: “It’s an ongoing conversation and that’s a fair way to put it.”

    In an interview on Fox News on Tuesday, Conway said Dubke “made very clear that he would see through the president’s international trip, and come to work every day and work hard even through that trip because there was much to do here back at the White House.”

    Dubke’s hiring was intended to lighten the load on Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, who had also been handling the duties of communications director during Trump’s first month in office. Trump has privately pinned some of the blame for his administration’s rough start on the White House’s communications strategy.

    While overseas, Trump’s longtime lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, joined a still-forming legal team to help the president shoulder the intensifying investigations into Russian interference in the election and his associates’ potential involvement. More attorneys with deep experience in Washington investigations are expected to be added, along with crisis communication experts, to help the White House in the weeks ahead.

    The latest revelations to emerge last week involved Trump’s son-in-law and top aide, Jared Kushner. Shortly after the election, Kushner allegedly discussed setting up a secret communications channel with the Russian government to facilitate sensitive discussions about the conflict in Syria.

    The intent was to connect Trump’s chief national security adviser at the time, Michael Flynn, with Russian military leaders, a person familiar with the discussions told the AP. The person wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss private policy deliberations and insisted on anonymity.

    Flynn handed in his resignation in February after it was revealed he misled top White House officials about his contacts with Russian officials.

    The disclosure of the back channel has put the White House on the defensive. Just back from his nine-day trip to the Middle East and Europe, Trump dismissed recent reports as “fake news.”

    Trump also has renewed his criticism of Germany following Chancellor Angela Merkel’s suggestion that her country needs to adopt a more independent stance in world affairs.

    Trump posted a tweet Tuesday saying:

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    Photo courtesy Palm Beach State College

    Students in Palm Beach State College’s nursing program. Photo courtesy Palm Beach State College

    Every semester at Palm Beach State College, nursing students take an aptitude test that measures their knowledge of the medical curriculum they’ve just completed.

    Today is David Hernandez’s third time taking the test, known as the HESI. He picks a seat at one of the long rows of computers in the exam room.

    But in the room of 60 or more, Hernandez stands out. He’s one of few men.

    Of the more than 500 students pursuing registered nursing at Palm Beach State College, a community college in Lake Worth, just 83, Hernandez included, are men.

    Hernandez is preparing to enter a field dominated by women. In Florida, 89 percent of registered nurses are women, on a par with levels nationally, according to the Florida Center for Nursing. And while the percentage of men in registered nursing has risen over the decades — a mere 3 percent were nurses in 1970, for instance — the numbers are still surprisingly low for a field that has seen immense growth.

    Male-dominated sectors have hemorrhaged jobs in recent years: manufacturing — 70 percent male — lost 5 million jobs over the past two decades. Meanwhile, education and health services, where the workforce is roughly 75 percent female, added 9 million jobs over the same time period. In fact, since 2007, the health care industry alone — led by nursing and home health care — has added jobs at more than three times the rate of the rest of the economy.

    Economists have long assumed that displaced workers, such as those left behind by globalization and automation, could adapt and move into growing fields, like nursing. But that largely hasn’t happened, and economists attribute the failure to a number of factors. Pay plays a role, but there’s something else deterring them from these jobs, says economist Betsey Stevenson: stigma.

    A second career

    Hernandez barely took a breath when talking about an open heart surgery he watched two weeks ago: the doctor stopped the patient’s heart to operate while a perfusionist — a nurse specialist — operated the heart-lung machine, pumping oxygenated blood throughout the patient’s body.

    The 26-year-old was studying to become an air traffic controller when government money dried up for the program in Oklahoma.

    Photo courtesy David Hernandez

    Photo courtesy David Hernandez

    It wasn’t until his mother took a fall and was cared for by a male nurse that Hernandez began to consider nursing as a career. On Palm Beach State College’s campus, where he had returned to complete his Associate of Arts degree, Hernandez began taking note of the students walking around in scrubs. He began a curious habit: He stopped students to ask them about the program, and if they liked it, how long it took.

    “I looked online: what’s the starting salary for a nurse? Was there job growth, specifically in Florida? And there was a lot,” Hernandez said. He found that “most students that graduate nursing school go straight into a job.”

    Is stigma keeping men out?

    You’ve heard it again and again: a man could graduate from high school and get a well-paying union job at the factory down the road that enabled him to buy a house for his family, live a middle-class lifestyle. But not anymore.

    As a result, many men have fallen out of the workforce, and few have rejoined.

    Today, only 83 percent of men between the ages of 25 and 54 with a high school education or less are employed or looking for work, compared to 97 percent in 1964. And the reason, Stevenson says, may be directly related to how men perceive themselves and the jobs available.

    “If you’ve grown up thinking your whole life that you’re going to go into a factory and make stuff, then you’re [not] going to [want] to go into a home and take care of [someone],” she said.

    Rose Campbell, a registered nurse in Miami, thinks the problem is rooted in a lack of awareness regarding nursing. People think that “all you’re doing is wiping grandpa’s bottom,” she said. But, Campbell said, it’s so much more than that.

    “You get spit on, get [bled] on, I have people’s lives in my hand. And I have to be very cognizant of what they need,” said Campbell, a nurse for 24 years. “Half the nurses don’t eat or use the bathroom, because they’re running around looking after their patients.”

    But the perception that nursing is a woman’s field depends on “who you talk to,” said Markenson Andre, who is working part-time as a caregiver at Home Instead in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and is also a licensed practical nurse. Andre, a man, had wanted to become an EMT or paramedic, but a physician at his barber shop told him nursing was the way to go. “If you do nursing, I’ll guarantee you a job,” the physician had said.

    Watch Making Sen$e’s report on how stigma holds men back from pursuing female-dominated professions.

    A guaranteed job

    The demand for nursing is high and growing. Ten thousand baby boomers reach retirement age every day — in Florida, nearly one in five residents is over age 65 — and as people get older, their health needs increase. There were more than 9,000 registered nurse vacancies in the Sunshine State in 2015, according to the Florida Center for Nursing. But barely 4,000 people in the state became registered nurses in 2016.

    With these odds, Palm Beach State College students are confident they’ll land a job post-graduation.

    “It’s always in demand,” student Brian Wong, 24, said.

    Two years of education at Palm Beach State College costs less than $8,000. And a community college degree serves nursing students just as well as a four-year degree elsewhere, said Buddy Herrington, the college’s director of nursing.

    “I’ve never heard of someone not getting a job,” Herrington said.

    Economist Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute said those in health care and education are also less likely to be unemployed over the course of their career.

    “It’s much more stable than construction and manufacturing,” Perry said. “[Even in downturns], people still need to go to elementary school and to the hospital.”

    Changes in culture and identity slow to shift

    Still, while growth in the industry has been swift, changes in culture and identity have been slower to shift.

    Campbell, 53, recalled a time when men “wouldn’t admit that they were nurses outside of the hospital,” she said. “It was a taboo thing, you know.”

    Of the men that do go into these entry level positions in health care, the majority are black, Latino and immigrant — men who are disadvantaged in the workforce at large, Patricia A. Roos, a sociologist at Rutgers University, found in a forthcoming study.

    Photo courtesy David Hernandez

    Photo courtesy David Hernandez

    Patients are often surprised to see men at their bedside.

    While completing clinical hours in the labor and delivery unit, Hernandez was frequently asked to remain outside while female nursing students were permitted inside to view the delivery. The reason? Female patients said they were uncomfortable with a male student nurse in the room.

    It baffled him.

    “I have felt down at times. The first time it happened to me, I was like, maybe [nursing is] not for me,” he said. “I don’t understand why this patient wouldn’t want me — I’m caring for them!”

    Still, many caregivers and nurses say the stigma is fading, albeit slowly.

    Home Instead caregivers Fearon Wright, 58, and Jerry Lopez, 64, say being a man can be an advantage — in fact, many male clients’ families will ask for them. Sometimes clients just want a male companion to talks sports or share war stories, Lopez said.

    “I think [the] ‘old school’ is still going to have that opinion [that men should not be nurses], but to the whole modern [generation], nursing is looked upon as a field where you can have a job, work, take care of your family,” Rose Campbell said.

    Hernandez agrees: “It’s ingrained with the millennials, we feel we can do any field, regardless of what anyone tells us.”

    ‘Women’s jobs don’t pay a decent wage’

    Pay is also a factor.

    “Female-dominated jobs are stigmatized because they’re lower paid for every level of skill, effort and responsibility,” Ghilarducci recently told the PBS NewsHour’s Paul Solman. “What’s not manly about women’s jobs [is] that women’s jobs don’t pay a decent wage.”

    Research suggests that women’s jobs are valued less, simply because they are done by women.

    “Male jobs we see as more important to the economy,” economist Kate Bahn said. “We don’t value feminine jobs the same [way].”

    Pay in the health care industry runs the gamut. The average registered nurse makes $34.70 an hour, and licensed practical nurses and licensed vocational nurses make $21.56 per hour on average. But the average home health aide makes only half of that — $11.35 an hour. The low pay has led many home health aides to join unions, like the 1199 SEIU health care workers union and the Fight for $15 movement.

    For blue-collar workers who once made $28 an hour at a union manufacturing job with only a high school education, the entry-level positions in the health care industry can look unappealing.

    “These wages are lower than what they had in the past,” Stevenson said. “But they don’t have an option to go back to the past.”

    Photo courtesy Palm Beach State College

    Students in Palm Beach State College’s registered nursing program. Photo courtesy Palm Beach State College

    Better pay could encourage more men to enter the health care field, Stevenson said, noting that in Cuba, a number of the jobs we think of as “women’s work” in the U.S. — like hotel maids — were done by men because tourism jobs pay well.

    But for some, the argument that pay is keeping men from pursuing a career in the field doesn’t hold water.

    Lazaro Gercin, 42, became a nurse after 12 years as a EMT paramedic. His reason for switching? Money.

    “After 12 years, I was making $16 an hour. Starting pay was $12 an hour,” he said. “The increase in pay was very slow.”

    Gercin attended the Miami Dade Community College’s registered nursing program while continuing to work as an EMT. Now, two years into the job as a registered nurse, Lazaro is making $31 an hour during his day shifts and $36 an hour during his night shifts.

    “It was worthwhile investment,” he said, adding that he spent a total of $14,000 for his degree.

    Gercin credits his union, National Nurses United, for helping boost what he earns; the average nurse in Miami, according to Payscale, makes $27.51 an hour.

    Since the hospital unionized, pay is based on experience and has been equal between men and women. But before wage negotiations, a woman coming in would make $24 an hour; a male would make $27, said Campbell, who works at the same hospital as Gercin.

    It’s a phenomenon known as the “glass escalator” effect, sociologist Roos said, in which men typically see higher wages and faster promotions in female-dominated occupations.

    Room for growth

    Stevenson said while some manufacturing jobs pay better, health care positions “have greater wage trajectories and there’s room for promotion and wage growth, because these are growing fields.”

    While the average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent between 2014 and 2024, registered nurses and licensed practical nurses and licensed vocational nurses — who work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors — can expect their field to grow 16 percent. Home health aides can expect their field to grow a whopping 38 percent.

    That ability to pursue different paths within health care and see that wage growth is what attracted Hernandez to the profession.

    “I’m a first-generation student, born and raised in Puerto Rico, and so for me … since I’m the first student to ever go to college, I didn’t want to just do any two-year degree, I wanted to make sure that I can go all the way to the top,” he said.

    Hernandez has a 3.63 GPA; if he keeps his average above 3.5 and works for a few years in the hospital with the goal of entering surgical ICU, he can apply to the University of Miami’s graduate program for nurse anesthetists. Nurse anesthetists are certified nursing specialists who provide the same anesthesia services as an anesthesiologist. The average salary is $163,000 a year.

    “I think it’s a great career,” Gercin said. “You’ve got to be compassionate; it’s not only the money, you’ve got to like it. Because it’s not pretty. If you like pretty, don’t get into nursing.”

    Like nursing, elementary school teaching is another female-dominated field that has seen few men join the ranks. Economics correspondent Paul Solman profiles second grade teacher and football coach Harold Johnson, a rarity who others might want to emulate.

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    Voters cast their votes during the U.S. presidential election in Elyria, Ohio, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk/File Photo - RTX2T3ES

    Voters cast their votes on November 8, 2016 in Elyria, Ohio during the U.S. presidential election. Credit: REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to decide whether Ohio wrongfully purged eligible voters from the state’s registration list.

    The justices said they will hear an appeal from state officials defending the process against challengers who say it’s illegal.

    Civil liberties groups had challenged the state’s program for removing thousands of people from voter rolls based on their failure to vote in recent elections. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled last year that the process violates the National Voter Registration Act.

    Ohio officials argue that the process used by Ohio for more than 20 years is constitutional and fully complies with state and federal laws.

    [READ MORE: Why Ohio has purged at least 200,000 from the voter rolls]

    Groups challenging the practice said Ohio was unfairly disenfranchising eligible Ohio voters.

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the New York-based public advocacy group Demos sued Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted over the practice last year.

    Following the appeals court ruling, a federal district court entered an injunction for the November 2016 presidential election that allowed more than 7,500 Ohio voters to cast a ballot.

    Freda Levenson, Legal Director of the ACLU of Ohio, said purging voters simply because they have exercised their right not to vote is a form of voter suppression.

    “We are confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the correct decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and will ultimately ensure that eligible Ohio voters may not be stricken from the rolls,” she said.

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    FILE PHOTO -- Jun 9, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Tadar Muhammad (right) and Jeremy Brustein (left) demonstrate in support of Tamir Rice outside of Quicken Loans Arena prior to game three of the NBA Finals. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo - RTX389KB

    Tadar Muhammad (right) and Jeremy Brustein (left) demonstrate in June 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio in support of Tamir Rice. Credit: Ken Blaze/USA TODAY

    The police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice was fired by the city of Cleveland on Tuesday, and the officer who drove the patrol car the day of the November 2014 shooting was suspended.

    Police Chief Calvin Williams announced the discipline against officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, who were involved in the fatal shooting of the boy at a recreation center as he held a pellet gun.

    Loehmann, who shot Rice, was fired not for something related to the shooting, but because of inaccuracies on his application form, Williams said.

    A disciplinary letter against Loehmann has previously cited his failure to reveal during the Cleveland police application process that a suburban department allowed him to resign instead of being fired at the end of a six-month probationary period.

    [READ MORE: Cleveland police forced Tamir Rice’s sister to the ground, footage reveals]

    Garmback, who was driving the cruiser that skidded to a stop near the boy, has been suspended for 10 days for violating a tactical rule for his driving that day.

    A discipline letter against Garmback has cited him for driving too close to Rice. Video of the shooting shows the patrol car skidding to a stop just feet from the boy.

    The police union representing the officers planned a news conference later Tuesday.

    Earlier this year, the 911 dispatcher who took the call that led to the shooting was suspended for eight days for failing to tell the dispatcher who sent the officers to the rec center that the man who called 911 about “a guy” pointing a gun at people also said it could be a juvenile and the gun might be a “fake.”

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    White House press secretary Sean Spicer addressed new allegations about President Donald Trump’s administration’s ties to Russia in his Tuesday news briefing at the White House.

    The Washington Post suggested last week that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, discussed the possibility of creating “a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin” with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.

    The news came as Robert Mueller took over the federal investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections from ousted FBI director James Comey.

    President Donald Trump is still on the hunt for a new FBI director after firing James Comey, and is conducting more meetings to address the vacancy.

    Spicer says Trump is scheduled to meet Tuesday with John Pistole, the former head of the Transportation Security Administration.

    Trump is also meeting about the FBI opening with Chris Wray, a former assistant attorney general at the Justice Department.

    Before his foreign trip, Trump met with former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe. Former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman also met with the president but removed his name from consideration.

    PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.

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

    The U.S. Supreme Court building is pictured in Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, justices unanimously sided with sheriff’s deputies in a legal dispute stemming from 2010, when an innocent couple was shot while California deputies searched for a wanted man. Photo by REUTERS/Carlos Barria.

    WASHINGTON — A unanimous Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with sheriff’s deputies in a legal dispute stemming from 2010, when an innocent couple was shot while California deputies searched for a wanted man.

    The justices overturned an award of $4 million in damages to the couple and ordered a lower court to take another look at whether the deputies should be held liable for the shooting.

    Deputies were searching for a parolee when they entered the backyard shack in Lancaster, north of Los Angeles. Seeing an armed man, they fired shots that seriously wounded him and his pregnant girlfriend.

    But the man wasn’t the suspect they were searching for, and it turned out he was carrying a BB gun. A federal appeals court ruled that the deputies were liable because they provoked a violent confrontation by entering the shack without a warrant.

    READ MORE: Officer who shot Tamir Rice in 2014 fired by city of Cleveland

    Justice Samuel Alito said such a “provocation rule” is not compatible with excessive force claims under the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. If the officers were reasonable in using force to defend themselves, Alito said, a court should not go back in time to see whether the incident was provoked.

    “We hold that the Fourth Amendment provides no basis for such a rule,” Alito said. “A different Fourth Amendment violation cannot transform a later, reasonable use of force into an unreasonable seizure.”

    If the officers were reasonable in using force to defend themselves, Alito said, a court should not go back in time to see whether the incident was provoked.

    Deputies had been told before they entered the cluttered backyard that a man and woman were living in a shack there, according to court records. When they opened the door, one of the officers saw a man holding a gun, shouted “gun” and two officers fired 15 shots.

    The man, Angel Mendez, said he had picked up his BB gun at the time officers entered in order to move it. As a result of the shooting, Mendez’s leg had to be amputated below the knee. His girlfriend was shot in the back.

    Justice Neil Gorsuch did not take part in the case, which was argued before he joined the high court.

    In other action on Tuesday, the justices:

    • Sided with a Mexican immigrant who faced deportation after he was convicted of having consensual sex with his underage girlfriend. The justices ruled unanimously that while Juan Esquivel-Quintana committed a crime under California law, his conduct did not violate federal immigration law.
    • Ruled that patent owners generally can’t restrict the resale of their products. The decision came in a case in which Lexmark International sought to prevent the re-use of its printer toner cartridges. The justices ruled in favor of Impression Products, which takes empty Lexmark cartridges, fills them with toner and sells them at a discount. The court held that Lexmark’s patent rights end with the initial sale of the cartridges, whether in the United States or abroad.
    • Agreed to decide whether Ohio wrongfully purged eligible voters from the state’s registration list based on their failure to vote in recent elections. State officials are appealing a lower court ruling that said the process is illegal.

    READ MORE: Justices will hear Ohio appeal over purging voter rolls

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    In Buckhannon, West Virginia, guns are sold at yard sales and distrust of Hillary Clinton is visceral and deep-seated. Last November, the town went more than 75 percent for Trump. Yet it is here that a new movement of women is growing to protest the president, even if some of their husbands and neighbors don’t like what they have to say.

    Read the full story.

    The post A women’s movement grows in ‘the most Trumpian place in America’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Michael Cohen, attorney for The Trump Organization, arrives at Trump Tower in New York City, U.S. January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith - RTSVX0Z

    Michael Cohen, attorney for The Trump Organization, arrives Jan. 17 at Trump Tower in New York City. The House intelligence committee has subpoenaed Cohen as part of its ongoing investigation into Russia’s election meddling and contacts with the Trump campaign. Photo by REUTERS/Stephanie Keith.

    WASHINGTON – The House intelligence committee has subpoenaed President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, as part of its ongoing investigation into Russia’s election meddling and contacts with the Trump campaign, according to a congressional aide.

    The aide spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal committee matters.

    Cohen, a longtime attorney for the Trump Organization, remains a personal lawyer for Trump. He served as a cable television surrogate for the Republican during the presidential campaign.

    The subpoena for Cohen comes as the congressional investigations into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia advance beyond formal requests for information from Trump associates. The president’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has also received subpoenas from the Senate panel regarding his Russian contacts and his business records. The House intelligence committee has also subpoenaed Flynn, the congressional aide said.

    WATCH: Damage control over Jared Kushner’s reported Russia communication hasn’t quelled criticism

    Cohen told ABC News Tuesday that he had been asked by both the House and Senate intelligence committees to provide information and testimony about contacts he had with Russian officials. Cohen told ABC he turned down the invitations.

    “I declined the invitation to participate as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered,” Cohen told The Associated Press. “I find it irresponsible and improper that the request sent to me was leaked by those working on the committee.”

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said the allegations of Moscow meddling in the U.S. presidential election are “fiction” invented by the Democrats in order to explain their loss. In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Putin reaffirmed his strong denial of Russian involvement in the hacking of Democratic emails. The interview was recorded during Putin’s Monday trip to Paris and released Tuesday.

    Trump made a similar claim in a tweet early Tuesday: “Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News.”

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

    Cohen’s ties with Russian interests came up in February when the New York Times reported that Cohen helped to broker a Ukraine peace plan that would call for Russian troops to withdraw from Ukraine and a referendum to let Ukrainians decide whether the part of the country seized by Russian in 2014 should be leased to Moscow. The Russian government denied knowing anything about such a plan.

    The Times reported that the peace plan was the work of Felix Sater, a business associate who has helped Trump try to find business in Russia, and Cohen.

    Cohen was a fierce defender of Trump during the campaign, often haranguing probing reporters and famously challenging a CNN reporter live on-air to name the specific polls that showed then-candidate Trump behind his rival, Hillary Clinton.

    READ MORE: House intel committee to issue subpoenas for Flynn materials in Russia probe

    In the early 2000s, he formed his own firm working on a range of legal matters, including malpractice cases, business law and work on an ethanol business in Ukraine. Cohen also owned and operated a handful of taxi medallions, managing a fleet of cabs in New York.

    Cohen’s business associates in the taxi enterprise included a number of men from the former Soviet Union, including his Ukrainian-born father-in-law.

    Cohen has made his own unsuccessful attempts at public office, losing a city council race and briefly running for state assembly in New York.

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    Construction crews prepare a monument of Robert E. Lee, who was a general in the Confederate Army, for removal in New Orleans, Louisiana, May 19, 2017. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

    The 24-hour news cycle is filled with politics coverage, but not everything gets the attention it deserves. Here are five politics stories you may have missed in the past week.

    1. President Trump’s Big Wall Is Now Just 74 Miles Long In His Budget Plan — 5/24. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers oppose a physical barrier along the southern border. — NPR
    2. Minnesota resorts scrambling for summer help have extra hurdle — 5/28. Vacation towns are facing a labor shortage partly due to Congress letting HB-2 visa exemptions expire. — Star-Tribune
    3. Texas House, Senate OK compromise on bill to soften voter ID law — 5/28. Texas lawmakers have reached a deal on bill that would relax the state’s strict voter ID laws. — Texas Tribune
    4. Few in St. Louis Knew Confederate Memorial Existed. Now, Many Want It Gone. — 5/26. Cities across the country are debating if there is a place for Confederate memorials in public spaces. — New York Times
    5. This Republican Senator Is Trump’s Public Critic And Private Adviser — 5/26. As the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Sen. Bob Corker has an important role in Washington as the White House builds its foreign policy. — BuzzFeed News

    READ MORE: 5 overlooked politics stories that are worth your time (May 23)

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    FILE PHOTO 9AUG74 - U.S. President Richard Nixon (L), listened to by First lady Pat Nixon and daughter Tricia Nixon (R), says goodbye to family and staff in the White House East Room on August 9, 1974. On Monday it will be 25 years since Nixon resigned his office, or "resigned in disgrace" as many of the news accounts would say, as it became clear the House of Representatives would impeach him for Watergate misdeeds and the Senate would follow by convicting him. In the quarter century since that day, historians, politicians and Nixon himself until he died on April 22, 1994, have argued his legacy and how his resignation -- the first by an American president -- changed the highest office in the land. - RTXJ4K6

    President Richard Nixon says goodbye to family and staff in the White House East Room on August 9, 1974. File photo

    Amid the controversy over James Comey’s firing and the Russia investigations, President Donald Trump’s critics — most notably Rep. Al Green, D-Texas — have already begun calling for his impeachment. But it could take months, if not longer, for Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller to finish their investigations into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and connections to Mr. Trump’s campaign. Which means the final outcome could still be a long way off.

    Critics have been quick to compare the controversy surrounding the White House and Russia to the Watergate scandal that forced President Richard Nixon to resign. But the Watergate drama took longer to unfold — more than two years — than many people may remember. Here’s a quick refresher of the events that led to Nixon’s resignation, along with a reminder that despite the recent pace of news in Washington, political crises are often slow-burning affairs.

    June 17, 1972

    Five men are arrested while trying to bug the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate, a hotel and office building in Washington, D.C. A day later, White House press secretary Ronald Ziegler famously called the Watergate break-in a “third-rate burglary.” At a press conference June 22, President Nixon denied that the White House was involved in the incident.

    Aug. 1, 1972

    The Washington Post reported that a $25,000 check intended for Nixon’s 1972 reelection campaign was deposited in the bank account of one of the Watergate burglars. It was one of the first developments linking the DNC break-in to Nixon’s campaign.

    Oct. 10, 1972

    The Post reports the FBI had concluded the Watergate break-in was part of a broader spying effort connected to Nixon’s campaign. News of the FBI’s findings came two weeks after the Post reported that former Attorney General John Mitchell, who stepped down earlier that year, had controlled a secret fund that paid for spying on the Democratic Party.

    Jan. 8, 1973

    The trial for the Watergate break-in begins.

    Jan. 30, 1973

    G. Gordon Liddy, a former Nixon aide, and James McCord, a one-time Nixon aide and former CIA operative, are convicted for their role in spearheading the Watergate break-in.

    April 30, 1973

    The scandal reaches the White House, as senior White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman resign over Watergate. Attorney General Richard Kleindienst also resigns, and John Dean, the White House counsel, gets fired.

    May 18, 1973

    Attorney General Elliot Richardson appoints Archibald Cox as special prosecutor to lead the investigation into Nixon’s reelection campaign and Watergate. Cox was a respected attorney and law professor, and had served as the United States solicitor general under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

    READ MORE: The ‘special prosecutor’ Democrats want no longer exists

    Cox’s appointment comes one day after the Senate Watergate Committee begins its public hearings on the scandal. The committee’s hearings are nationally televised and, along with Cox’s investigation, marke a new phase in the Watergate scandal. It is at these Senate hearings that then-Sen. Howard Baker, R-Tenn., asks one of the most famous questions in American politics: “What did the president know, and when did he know it?”

    July 23, 1973

    Nixon, who taped his conversations and calls in office, refuses to give Cox and Senate Watergate investigators the recordings, which became known as the “Nixon tapes.” The tapes were believed to contain critical evidence of a cover-up of Nixon’s involvement in the break-in; the previous month, Dean, the former White House counsel, acknowledged that he had talked with Nixon about the Watergate matter dozens of times. After Nixon refused to turn the tapes over, both Cox and Senate investigators issue subpoenas for the material.

    Oct. 20, 1973

    The day that becomes known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.” Attorney General Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resign in the same night after refusing Nixon’s order to fire Cox. Robert Bork, the solicitor general who was acting as attorney general, then followed Nixon’s order and fired Cox. Nixon’s push to oust Cox, who was leading the independent investigation into the White House misconduct, sparked intense criticism across the political spectrum. Four weeks later, on Nov. 17, Nixon issued his memorable denial: “I’m not a crook.”

    May 9, 1974

    The House Judiciary Committee starts impeachment proceedings against Nixon.

    July 24, 1974

    In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court orders Nixon to release the tape recordings. The decision came two months after the White House gave the House Judiciary Committee edited transcripts of Nixon’s conversations, but did not turn over the actual tapes.

    July 27-30, 1974

    The House Judiciary Committee passes three articles of impeachment against Nixon, for obstruction of justice, misuse of power and contempt of Congress. By approving the charges, the committee sent the impeachment to the floor for a full House vote, but it never occurred.

    Aug. 8, 1974

    Nixon resigns. In his resignation speech, Nixon said: “I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as president, I must put the interest of America first.”

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    Businessman and businesswoman handshaking in lobby. Related words: business deal, job offer, handshake, interview. Photo by Tom Merton/Getty Images

    Businessman and businesswoman handshaking in lobby. Related words: business deal, job offer, handshake, interview. Photo by Tom Merton/Getty Images

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

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

    Question: Last week, I was laid off as part of a corporate expense reduction. I dug into my bag of tricks and started calling my network on my way home. My contacts are paying off. I have interviews set up and am in the process of negotiating with one company. My question is this: If they know that I am without a job at the moment, does that ruin my negotiating position?

    I feel that I have demonstrated my value and commitment, but I wonder if companies would take advantage of my situation to lowball the salary.

    Would I want to work for a company that does this intentionally? Probably not. When it comes to my salary, I’m looking for a fair deal, nothing more. Any thoughts on this?

    Nick Corcodilos: Good for you for turning to your network immediately! Personal contacts are always the way to go! (For more about this and other tips for avoiding job search failure, see “Why am I not getting hired?”)

    A company may very well lowball an offer because it knows you’re unemployed. But it might not. A good friend of mine is an HR manager, and her policy is to make the best competitive offer she can, every time, because she wants to maximize the chance of making the hire.

    Some HR managers are just looking for a bargain, but that just means they waste a lot of time, because after investing in a candidate they really want, they lose the hire over a few bucks. That’s dumb. But some companies are dumb.

    Your problem, of course, is that you can’t know what kind of employer or HR manager you’re dealing with. So what’s your smartest position?

    Make no assumptions about how a company will treat salary negotiations. Worrying about it will weaken your resolve and ability to negotiate. Assume they will make a fair offer. If they don’t, then you deal with it.

    The best companies know that the best people, even if they are unemployed, won’t be available for long. Those employers will make solid offers. Remember that most candidates a company sees are not the best people it can hire. They’re applicants — people looking for a job. They’re the ones that “come along.” Don’t apply for jobs where you’re not a strong fit, and I think you will avoid lowball offers.

    Of course, perfect is relative. You are a perfect fit to one company, but not to another. So your challenge is to go after jobs where you are a strong fit and after companies that will clearly profit from hiring you. They’re less likely to lowball you. The choice you make about where to apply will greatly influence the outcome of the interview and the negotiating process.

    The best way to control a company’s perception of you is to offer clear value in the interview. Show how, specifically, you’re going to impact the company’s bottom line. (See “Stand Out: How to be the profitable hire.”) Present a brief business plan for doing the job — though not in writing and not detailed enough that they can steal it without hiring you! Then, tell them: “If we can come up with the right deal, I’m ready to hit the ground running.”

    Some companies will try to take advantage of unemployed applicants. If you worry about it, you’ll weaken your presentation. Do your best and position yourself to negotiate strongly. If the company plays games, you must decide whether to walk away.

    If you want a compelling offer, be compelling. And pick the right job and company!

    Dear Readers: Do you feel you’ve been lowballed? Did you take the job? How do you avoid lowball job offers?

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

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

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

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    In a wide-ranging interview with PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper addressed Trump’s handling of classified information, and he called recent reports that the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner had requested a secret back channel to Russian government officials “curious.”

    “Why all the cloak-and-dagger secrecy?” Clapper said. “If the intent was simply to reach out to establish — to make acquaintance, one wonders if there is something worse than that or more nefarious than that.”

    Though attempts to establish back channels are not new, Clapper said it’s unusual to set up such a channel at an embassy or other secure location controlled by a foreign government.

    “I’m not aware of any arrangement like that or attempts to make arrangements like that in the past,” he said.

    Clapper added that reports of such contacts raise red flags when considered alongside Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. election was “a slick, sophisticated propaganda campaign clearly oriented toward hurting Secretary Clinton and helping now-President Trump,” Clapper said.

    “In that context, then for these interactions to go on with our primary adversary, the Russians, was of great concern.”

    “In the context of this aggressive and multifaceted campaign that the Russians mounted to interfere with the election,” Clapper told Woodruff, “not just the hacking, but social media trolls, fake news… In that context, then for these interactions to go on with our primary adversary, the Russians, was of great concern.”

    Clapper, who resigned Jan. 20, said that while he was still in government, he had no knowledge of the Trump campaign’s alleged outreach to the Russians.

    Woodruff also asked Clapper about a report from the Circa news website, which stated that the National Security Administration under the Obama presidency “routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts,” according to FISA court documents. Clapper said the violations were “human errors, but certainly not a conspiracy to abate people’s privacy. And certainly the White House had nothing to do with any of that.”

    The interview also touched on critical national security issues like the North Korean nuclear program and new sanctions against the Iranian government, as well as President Trump’s outreach to Sunni allies in the fight against ISIS.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn now to another health care story, this one the ongoing political battle to replace Obamacare.

    The U.S. Senate is beginning to write its own reform bill, and discovering there are some big differences of opinion over what Republicans passed in the House.

    Earlier this month, we spoke with Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado about efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act.

    Today, we hear from a Republican. And our Lisa Desjardins has that.

    LISA DESJARDINS: As part of our ongoing look at what’s at stake in health care for those closest to the problem, we’re now joined by Asa Hutchinson, the Republican governor from Arkansas.

    Our viewers will recall that Arkansas was, of course, one of the states to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

    Governor Hutchinson, thank you for joining us.

    Now, you’re in an interesting position. You have opposed the Affordable Care Act, but also you and your predecessor, as we just said, supported the expansion. And because of those things, we have seen uninsurance rates in your state get slashed in half under the Affordable Care Act.

    What do you think of the Affordable Care Act right now? Does it need full repeal?

    GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON, R-Ark.: Well, we need to change what we have. It doesn’t work completely.

    For example, we wanted to reform the Medicaid expansion in Arkansas with a simple work requirement, just lick we have on the SNAP program, but under Obamacare, the previous administration wouldn’t give us that requirement.

    We needed to control the cost more. We’re unable to do that whenever it’s mandatory that you cover everybody up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. And so we’re trying to concentrate limited resources in Arkansas. We don’t have the flexibility we need under the current program.

    So, yes, I supported a change in it, and I applaud the House for starting the debate with passing a repeal and a replacement. But we need to obviously do more, and I’m looking for the Senate to — they’re starting over. They’re drafting it. I hope they listen to the governors to provide the flexibility that’s needed, and I hope they take some ideas from Arkansas as to some of the good things we have done in terms of reform, controlling costs, but also expanding health care coverage.

    LISA DESJARDINS: One of the items of flexibility that House Republicans would give you is the ability to waive out of some things like essential benefits or a cap on the costs for people who have preexisting conditions.

    Are those things that you would want to waive out of?

    GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON: Not necessarily, but we have got to be able to have the flexibility and options for the state.

    And, for example, on the health care benefits, I think the state should be able to give more flexibility in terms of coverage. Not everybody wants every essential health benefit. They might want to have different options and a menu of options that suit their particular needs.

    Let’s give the states the option to enhance coverage, to make sure there’s health care options that are out there, but also the ability to control costs. And so we want to look at a menu of options. We take two options right now in terms of reform.

    We want to be able to reduce it from 138 percent of the federal poverty level down to the poverty level, so we can concentrate our limited resources on those that need it the most, shift more to the exchange, where they will have support and coverage, but it will be a cost-saving measure, both for the state and the federal government.

    These are types of reforms and flexibility that will make sense. The work requirement is important to encourage people to have the training they need to move up the employment ladder, to make more money, but, at the same time, have some support for health care. These are the reforms we want to put into place.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Governor, House Republicans would offer you more flexibility, as you say, but they would also cut some of the Medicaid funding you get from the government, and it seems they are increasing uncertainty.

    Insurers need to set their rates for the next year, and they aren’t sure if they are going to get the subsidies that the president and Congress control. What does that uncertainty feel like, and are you worried about funding cuts?

    GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON: Yes, that’s one of the big faults of the House bill is that it’s a cost shift to the states.

    We have to absorb more of the cost to maintain the same level of coverage. We don’t need that cost shift to the states. We need to continue a good federal-state partnership. So, I’m looking to the Senate to rewrite that portion of it, so the flexibility is good, but you cannot accompany that with a massive cost shift to the states that would leave more and more uninsured, because the states cannot absorb that kind of a burden.

    But the flexibility is an important part of it to be able to manage it.

    Two points. Under Obamacare, they underestimated the number that was going to go on Medicaid. Too many went on Medicaid. They overestimated those that would go on the exchange, and there are too few on the exchange. We want to reverse that.

    And under Arkansas’ plan, you’re going to restrict those that are on the Medicaid portion of it, shift more to the exchange, and that’s the original design that makes it more cost-effective for the states.


    Governor Asa Hutchinson, Republican of Arkansas, thank you so much for joining us.

    GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON: Great to be with you.

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    Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters carry their weapons while riding on the back of a pick-up truck in Qamishli, Syria. Photo by REUTERS/Rodi Said.

    Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters carry their weapons while riding on the back of a pick-up truck in Qamishli, Syria. Photo by REUTERS/Rodi Said.

    WASHINGTON — The United States started Tuesday to deliver weapons to Kurdish fighters closing in on the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, the Pentagon said.

    Spokesman Eric Pahon said Tuesday’s weapons delivery to the Syrian Kurds included small arms and ammunition. It marks the beginning of a campaign to better equip Kurdish allies that the U.S.-led coalition believes are the best fighting force against the Islamic State, even though arming them has infuriated NATO ally Turkey.

    Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters to be terrorists. The U.S. has promised to mete out the equipment incrementally, based on the mission, to insure weapons aren’t used by Kurdish groups in Turkey.

    On Tuesday, Kurdish-led fighters in Syria closed within about 2 miles (three kilometers) of Raqqa, where they expect to face a long and deadly battle. Roadside bombs and other explosive devices are believed to be planted along their routes and inside the city.

    READ MORE: Who is fighting in Syria’s civil war?

    U.S. officials have said the weapons deliveries will include heavy machine guns, ammunition, 120mm mortars, armored vehicles and possibly TOW anti-tank missiles. They said the U.S. would not provide artillery or surface-to-air missiles.

    Separately Tuesday, the Pentagon ratcheted up threats against pro-Syrian government forces patrolling an area near the Jordanian border where the U.S.-led coalition is training allied rebels. Officials described the pro-government forces as Iranian-backed.

    The U.S. dropped leaflets warning the forces to leave the area and American military officials said the same message was conveyed in recent calls with Russian commanders. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the leaflets told the pro-government forces to leave the established protected zone, which is about 55 kilometers around an area where U.S. and coalition forces have been operating.

    U.S. officials have said the weapons deliveries will include heavy machine guns, ammunition, 120mm mortars, armored vehicles and possibly TOW anti-tank missiles. They said the U.S. would not provide artillery or surface-to-air missiles.

    Less than two weeks ago, the U.S. bombed Iranian-backed troops who were in that same area of Syria and didn’t heed similar warnings to leave.

    According to Syrian and U.S. officials, the bombing killed several soldiers and destroyed vehicles and other weapons and equipment.

    Davis said the U.S. has seen the militias operating in the desert around Tanf. The area has been considered a “deconflicted” zone under a U.S.-Russian understanding.

    “Hundreds” of pro-government forces are in the region, Davis said, but he was unsure how many are actually inside the zone.

    Pentagon officials said they were not certain if those troops are Syrian, Iranian, Hezbollah or from other militias fighting on Assad’s behalf. At the Tanf military camp near the Jordanian border, U.S. special operations forces have been working with a Syrian opposition group in operations against IS.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the great medical advances in recent years is the treatment and care of premature babies. Despite that, these tiny infants born before full term are still at higher risk for a range of problems down the road.

    Correspondent William Brangham and producer Jason Kane bring us the first of two stories about a study under way that’s testing whether the simplest human interactions can make a big difference in these children’s lives.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Most moms don’t have to travel 25 miles every morning to see their newborn baby. But for Kate Ilie, there’s an hour-long commute … frantic calls …

    KATE ILIE: I would rather just meet in the unit, if we’re allowed to.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: … Manhattan gridlock. All to do the one thing she most desperately wants: to be with her baby girl Caroline.

    MARY MCKIERNAN, Nurture Specialist: All right, Caroline, so we are going to reconnect with mommy now.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But, as you can see, Caroline had a rough path into the world. Born 13 weeks too soon, she’s had to live here, in Morgan Stanley Children’s hospital, for months.

    MARY MCKIERNAN: OK, now we’re going to go skin-to-skin.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Kate and baby Caroline are part of an ongoing research effort out of Columbia University Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian examining whether the most basic nurturing techniques, like this quiet moment, can help heal the traumas of premature birth.

    MARY MCKIERNAN: The more you do this, the more you reinforce that connection.

    KATE ILIE: It took us a little while, but we’re doing it now.

    DR. MARTHA WELCH, Director, Columbia University’s Nurture Science Program: You are calming me, and I am calming you, and then the two crave being together, and it’s self-perpetuating.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This intervention is the brainchild of Dr. Martha Welch. She says that, while much of this seems like the standard care offered to premature babies and their parents, here, the focus is 100 percent on strengthening the emotional connection between mother and child.

    DR. MARTHA WELCH: It’s not cerebral. It’s visceral. It’s gut feelings. And they’re beginning to set this pattern of calming each other.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It seems so basic.

    DR. MARTHA WELCH: Very basic.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For the last few months, we have been following several moms and their premature babies through this process.

    Neonatal intensive care units give these children a better shot at survival now than at any other time in history. In the early ’90s, a child born as early as 23 or 24 weeks was unlikely to survive. Now they routinely do.

    But, despite that, leaving the womb so early still puts these kids at high risk for emotional, behavioral and developmental challenges. This intervention is meant to help minimize those impacts.

    MIGUELINA TAVAREZ:: You make mamma feel more comfortable now.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Nurse Mary McKiernan says step one is often connecting with a child that’s literally wrapped in lifesaving technology. They call these ‘Calming Sessions.’

    MARY MCKIERNAN, Nurture Specialist, Columbia University’s Nurture Science Program: There’s so much medical equipment, and monitors, and beeping, and some mothers, they’re afraid. They’re afraid to speak to their babies.

    KATE ILIE: I’m trying to figure out how to hold Caroline. She has her CPAP on. She has her tube in. This woman comes up to me, and she says, “My name is Mary, and I’m a nurse here. Do you want me to help you hold your baby?”

    And I could cry just telling this. So I was like, ‘I will take anything.’

    MARY MCKIERNAN: I know she’s sleeping, but she can — she knows your voice, so talk to her in your emotional tone, as you always do.

    KATE ILIE: You have had a long morning. You finished your whole bottle…

    MARY MCKIERNAN: It feels good, right?

    KATE ILIE: There’s nothing better.


    KATE ILIE: It’s like therapy for both of us.

    I’m telling you, that was the first time I felt like I could breathe, and I could bond with my baby.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For the first time?

    KATE ILIE: Yes. And it was so emotional.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Welch and McKiernan say this is a step beyond what’s known as ‘kangaroo care,’ the skin-to-skin contact that’s been taught in many NICUs since the 1990s.

    MARY MCKIERNAN: I have been a nurse here many years, but there was something missing. And what was missing was that … helping the mother to get to that emotional connection.

    ELIA CARDENAS: Take care of them for me, St. Jude.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Getting past her fear of losing her babies has been one of the biggest obstacles for Elia Cardenas.

    ELIA CARDENAS: Please help the nurses give them all the care that they need, so I can bring them home.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Her twin boys, Lukas and Tadeo, were born at 26 weeks — three-and-a-half months too soon. Her previous child had also been born prematurely, but he only lived a few hours. And she’s terrified the twins won’t survive either.

    ELIA CARDENAS: On my way home, I was crying the entire way. I wasn’t planning on having them so early. And then, when I got home, it was even worse, because, you know, I had all these things for the babies ready.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Each day, Cardenas makes the hour-long trip to the hospital from her home in Port Chester, New York. But she’s put up her own barriers.

    ELIA CARDENAS: It made me feel helpless. It made me feel — I didn’t feel like a mom seeing them there. I didn’t feel like they were my babies because they were in the hospital, and I didn’t know if they were going to make it or not. And I really didn’t want to get close with them. I didn’t want to — I don’t know. It’s hard to describe that feeling.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Like everyone who was part of this intervention, Cardenas was also encouraged to talk with the boys, and taught how to hold them inside the incubators.

    Dr. Welch will even put her hands on Cardenas’ back and on her arm to mimic the touch and pressure she can use on the boys.

    DR. MARTHA WELCH: I was trying to elicit emotion from Elia. I was holding her back, so that she would feel the kind of comfort that I wanted her to convey to her baby. This is not a didactic session. It’s experiential. She has to experience me and she has to experience what she’s doing to the baby.

    ELIA CARDENAS: I’m trying to be here for them.

    DR. MARTHA WELCH: And you have been.

    ELIA CARDENAS: Yes. And I’m always scared.

    DR. MARTHA WELCH: Yes, and even though things are really good now, that feeling doesn’t exactly go away.

    ELIA CARDENAS: No, it doesn’t.

    DR. MARTHA WELCH: It will. It will go away.

    Once the baby calms the mother, and the mother feels that, she begins to believe in the baby’s survival capacity, because, if this baby can make her feel like that, the baby’s viable.

    MIGUELINA TAVAREZ: ‘We had eggs. After dinner, I told my dad a ghost story. Boy, did he get scared.’

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Another mother in the study, Miguelina Tavarez, says she can’t really explain why, but these simple interventions have had a powerful effect or her ability to connect with her daughter, Reylin.

    MIGUELINA TAVAREZ: I actually come in now, and I can take a deep breath and be like, ‘I’m all right. And she’s all right.’ And then, in the long run, I will be like, ‘You know what? Me and you have a trust besides a mother and a daughter bond. I can express myself to you, and you will appreciate it.’

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Today, she’s learning another part of the intervention: using what’s known as a ‘scent cloth.’

    DR. MARTHA WELCH: We have a little flannel square that the mother wears in her bra, which she then gives to the baby. And we put the same kind of cloth under the baby’s head, and give that to the mother.

    MIGUELINA TAVAREZ: I felt like my whole body was relaxed.

    MARY MCKIERNAN: How do you feel now when you smell it?

    MIGUELINA TAVAREZ: The same way. It’s like …

    MARY MCKIERNAN: Let all the stress drain out.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But do these interventions really make any tangible difference?

    Tomorrow, we will examine some of the surprising results, and we will look at questions over some of Dr. Welch’s past practices.

    For the PBS NewsHour, in New York, I’m William Brangham.

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    A wreckage of a car is seen at the site of car bomb attack near a government office in Karkh district in Baghdad, Iraq May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily - RTX386SI

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: Twin bombings rocked Baghdad early this morning, just days after the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

    Jeffrey Brown has more.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The first attack hit a popular ice cream parlor in the Karrada district of the capital just after midnight. A suicide bomber struck as families milled about following their breaking of the fast. At least 15 people were killed, and nearly twice as many were wounded. ISIS has claimed responsibility.

    The second attack came during the morning rush hour in a central district of Baghdad. A car bomb there killed at least 14 and wounded more than 30, all this as Iraqi forces, backed by U.S. and coalition airstrikes, press the offensive on Mosul, the last major ISIS foothold in Iraq.

    We turn to Susannah George of the Associated Press in Baghdad.

    Susannah, thank you for joining us.

    So, these attacks are clearly targeting places where many are gathered, right? What can you tell us about the bombings?

    SUSANNAH GEORGE, Associated Press: In the aftermath of the bombings, there was a lot of anger. Some of that anger was to the militants that carried out the bombings, that deliberately targeted targets where there were children and families.

    But there was a lot of anger at Iraq’s political leadership, who many Iraqis hold responsible for the security failings that allowed these bombs to get into Central Baghdad. This is not the first time that we have seen these large-scale bombings during Ramadan.

    Last year, a large truck bombing in the same neighborhood in Karrada killed hundreds of people. That was the largest single attack in Baghdad since the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

    And, afterwards, Iraqi security officials pledged to revamp the security of the district of Baghdad. They increased checkpoints. They increased security checks. But the attacks have continued.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So is there a fear or a sense even that this is the beginning of a new terror campaign, the beginning of Ramadan season, and what is the level of security in Baghdad?

    SUSANNAH GEORGE: Well, this is just the first few days of the holy month of Ramadan that often sees an uptick of violence here in Iraq.

    And civilians and Iraqi security officials are warning of more attacks to come. They say this is partially because of the holy month of Ramadan, but also because I.S. fighters are losing ground in Mosul in the north of Iraq, and we often see this increase in insurgent activity in Baghdad, other places far from the front lines as the extremists lose territory on the battlefield.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You mentioned Mosul and ISIS losing ground, yes, but the fight does continue there very much. Give us — very briefly, where do things stand?

    SUSANNAH GEORGE: I.S. only holds a small pocket of neighborhoods in Western Mosul, mainly the Old City and a few other neighborhoods around that area. Iraqi forces are advancing, but the advance is incredibly slow.

    This is some of the most densely populated neighborhoods in Mosul. The U.N. estimates that more than 100,000 civilians are trapped in this part of Mosul, and the Iraqi military has asked these people to flee in an effort to speed up the military operations in that district.

    But aid groups are warning that that could be incredibly dangerous for the civilians who are trapped inside the Old City, as there are no safe passageways for them to exit. So it would mean that thousands of civilians would be crossing front lines and could get caught up in some of the deadly clashes between I.S. fighters and the Iraqi security forces.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Susannah, you alluded to this earlier, but these new bombings in Baghdad raise the question about whether this is because ISIS is stronger or weaker in taking an action like this. What do you see, and what are people telling you?

    SUSANNAH GEORGE: Well, Iraqi officials and coalition officials will say that these bombings in Baghdad, at the same time that I.S. is losing ground on the front lines in places like Mosul, are an effort to distract from those territorial defeats, that it’s actually a sign of weakness.

    But the fact that the group is still able to plan and carry out these rather complex attacks inside a very secure part of the Iraqi capital shows that the group maintains significant insurgent capabilities, despite the fact that they have lost significant territory.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Susannah George of the AP in Baghdad, thank you very much.

    SUSANNAH GEORGE: Thank you.

    The post Are Baghdad bombings a sign of Islamic State strength or weakness? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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