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

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: From President Trump today, a declaration: The United States wants out of the Paris accord on climate change, and wants to negotiate better terms.

    Under the existing agreement, the U.S. must cut carbon emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2025.

    But in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said the deal gives other countries an economic edge and makes America foot the bill.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: As president, I can put no other consideration before the well-being of American citizens. The Paris climate accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States, to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers, who I love, and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished economic production.

    Thus, as of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.

    At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us as a country? We want fair treatment for its citizens and we want fair treatment for our taxpayers. We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore, and they won’t be. They won’t be. I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Former President Obama said today that Mr. Trump is joining the handful of nations that reject the future.

    Meanwhile, European leaders voiced regret, and said the accord cannot be renegotiated. China, the world’s largest carbon emitter right now, reaffirmed its commitment to the deal.

    And we will hear from both sides of the issue after the news summary.

    In the day’s other news, President Trump decided against moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, at least for now. He’d campaigned on a promise to do just that, but the White House said that waiting might improve chances of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

    At least 14 Trump White House officials have been granted waivers from ethics rules. Their names were posted last night, under pressure from the Office of Government Ethics. The officials include, among others, Michael Catanzaro, a former oil and gas lobbyist who’s now a senior energy policy aide, and Shahira Knight. She’s a former lobbyist for Fidelity Investments, now working on tax reform.

    In Russia, President Vladimir Putin acknowledged today that what he called patriotic Russian individuals may have launched cyber-attacks on the U.S., but he insisted again that his government had no role in election meddling.

    Instead, speaking to international journalists, he blamed Russophobic hysteria and perhaps a smear campaign.

    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): I can imagine the situation where somebody purposely does the attacks in a way to make it look like the Russian Federation is the source of those attacks. But what is most important, I’m deeply convinced that any hackers cannot significantly influence an election campaign in another country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Putin also called President Trump — quote — “a straightforward person, a frank person with a fresh set of eyes.”

    Afghans buried loved ones today after Wednesday’s massive truck bombing in Kabul. The blast killed at least 90 people. Hundreds gathered today for the funeral of a security guard. The bombing was one of the worst attacks since the 2014 drawdown of foreign forces in Afghanistan.

    A gunman caused a scare today at a resort complex in the capital of the Philippines. Reports of gunshots touched off panic. And, in Washington, President Trump called it a terrorist attack. A short time later, Manila police announced that it wasn’t terrorism, and that no one was hurt. He said gunman fired into the air, stole gambling chips and set fire to gaming tables.

    The upcoming election in Britain is turning into a free-for-all. With the vote just a week away, a new survey shows that the ruling Conservatives are ahead of Labor by just three points. That’s down sharply since last week’s bombing in Manchester. Prime Minister Theresa May called the snap election in order to bolster her government as it negotiates Britain’s exit from the European Union.

    Wall Street pushed higher today on signs that businesses added more jobs in May. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 135 points to close at 21144. The Nasdaq rose 48, and the S&P 500 added 18. All three were record closes.

    And the NBA finals start tonight, with the much-anticipated rematch between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the reigning champions. But it’s been partly overshadowed by a racial slur spray-painted outside the Los Angeles home of LeBron James. The Cleveland star said Wednesday that it shows racism is very much alive.

    LEBRON JAMES, Cleveland Cavaliers: No matter how much money you got, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, at the end of the day, being a black man in America is very frightening. And it lets us know that we have got so much farther, so much farther to go to be equal in this country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Police are investigating the vandalism as a possible hate crime.

    The post News Wrap: U.S. to exit Paris climate agreement, says Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord was “a mistake both for the U.S. and for our planet.”

    READ MORE: Here’s how leaders are reacting to Trump’s withdrawal from Paris climate agreement

    Macron, who said he spoke with Trump after the decision, said Thursday night that the pact signed by nearly 200 countries in 2016 was irreversible.

    “We all share the same responsibility: make our planet great again,” he said in a live address.

    He called on scientists, entrepreneurs and “responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decisions” in the U.S. to come to France to work together on “concrete solutions for our climate, our environment.”

    “I wish to tell the United States: France believes in you. The world believes in you. I know that you’re a great nation,” he said. “I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland,” he said.

    READ MORE: Trump just kept his promise to exit the Paris accord. Here’s how he’s handled other international pledges.

    Macron, calling climate change “the great challenge of our time,” said France will move forward creating a “concrete plan of action” with “concrete initiatives, particularly in Europe and Africa.”

    “Climate change is already changing our daily lives,” Macron said. “It is not the future we want for our children.”

    The post WATCH: Macron calls U.S. exit from Paris climate accord ‘a mistake both for the U.S. and for our planet’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The American Electric Power Company's cooling tower at their Mountaineer plant is shown in New Haven, West Virginia October 27, 2009. Photo by Ayesha Rascoe/REUTERS

    The American Electric Power Company’s cooling tower at their Mountaineer plant is shown in New Haven, West Virginia October 27, 2009. Photo by Ayesha Rascoe/REUTERS

    President Donald Trump announced today that he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord. But whether Trump had kept the U.S. in the agreement or not, his policies—if they all become reality—already had the power to profoundly undermine the nation’s ability to reach the U.S.’s Paris climate goals.

    According to a new report (pdf) released by analysts at the recent Bonn climate talks, the president’s rollback of current climate regulations, if successful, could cause the U.S. to release 0.4 gigatonne more carbon dioxide in annual emissions in the year 2030 than if those policies remained. That gap gets much larger when the report authors accounted for Trump’s decision to dump the Climate Action Plan, which was created by the Obama administration but has not yet been fully implemented.

    Under the accord the U.S. had agreed to reduce its emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

    That would create 1.8 gigatonnes more CO2 in 2030 than the past administration had envisioned—about 31 percent of 2005 U.S. emissions. “This amounts to a very significant reversal of the downward trajectory that U.S. emissions have been on,” explains Bill Hare, one of the report authors and CEO of Climate Analytics, a nonprofit climate science and policy institute. “Under Trump’s policies the U.S. will fall far short of its Paris climate goals.”

    Under the accord the U.S. had agreed to reduce its emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. One of the major policies Trump has targeted is the Clean Power Plan (CPP), a centerpiece of Obama’s action plan. It requires the power sector to significantly reduce emissions. The plan is currently tied up in court, but if it never becomes reality, its demise would release 202 more million metric tons of CO2 in annual emissions in 2025—which would cut 11 to 12 percent from the U.S.’s previously planned efforts to achieve the Paris 2025 target.

    Data sources: EPA “Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks”; “Action by China and India Slows Emissions Growth, President Trump’s Policies Likely to Cause U.S. Emissions to Flatten,” Niklas Höhne et al. Climate Action Tracker Update, May 15, 2017. Infographic by Amanda Montañez

    Data sources: EPA “Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks”; “Action by China and India Slows Emissions Growth, President Trump’s Policies Likely to Cause U.S. Emissions to Flatten,” Niklas Höhne et al. Climate Action Tracker Update, May 15, 2017. Infographic by Amanda Montañez

    The power sector is still predicted to reduce its emissions significantly without the CPP due to the retirement of coal plants and the growth of renewable energy and natural gas.

    Thanks to those market forces, “we’re already reducing emissions in the power sector pretty significantly,” explains Kevin Kennedy, deputy director of the World Resources Institute’s U.S. Climate Initiative. But without the CPP, or an alternative plan, “U.S. emissions are expected to level off,” according to the report, rather than decrease.

    The report highlights other actions by Trump that could hurt U.S. climate efforts. One of those is the possible rollback of vehicle efficiency standards. If the administration weakens those regulations, the report says, passenger cars and small pickup trucks will add 22 more million metric tons of CO2 in 2025 than they would have otherwise—taking away a little over 1 percent of the U.S.’s former strategy for hitting its Paris 2025 goal. That number may sound small, but that’s because not many of the vehicles affected by those efficiency standards will be on the road in 2025.

    “Those [standards] are a much bigger deal as you look out to 2030 and beyond,” Kennedy says. “The nature of turnover in the auto industry is slow, so that significant reductions take more time. Part of solving the puzzle overall is how you’re setting yourself up for the longer-term reductions.”

    The Trump administration is also reviewing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations for methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. The EPA’s rule would have dropped CO2 emissions by an additional 9.2 million metric tons of CO2 in 2025—a little under 1 percent of the U.S.’s previously planned efforts to reduce emissions for its Paris target. Again, that number may seem trivial but, Kennedy explains, “you need to be working on methane from industry, on vehicles—across the economy—to be able to meet the [Paris 2025] target.” The U.S. also has yet to ratify the Kigali Amendment—an international plan to reduce hydrofluorocarbons, powerful greenhouse gases used in systems like air-conditioning and refrigeration. The Trump administration appears likely to ratify the amendment, however.

    If all the current U.S. climate policies—including the CPP—stayed in place, they would bring U.S. emissions 10 percent under 2005 levels by 2025. Even that reduction does not come close the U.S.’s pledge to reduce emissions 26 to 28 percent. If Trump weakens these policies, the Paris target could be even further out of reach in the future.

    Obama’s Climate Action Plan was designed to go the rest of the way. The CPP and vehicle standards were central pieces but the plan contained additional policies that had not yet been implemented, such as strategies to double energy productivity by 2030. Weakening U.S. climate policies instead—both planned and current—could shift the nation’s emissions trajectory from a decline to a relative flat line over the next 10 years, Hare says.

    The report also notes the U.S.’s 2025 Paris goal itself would not have kept the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, which is the central purpose of the climate agreement. Action by other big national emitters is essential. And under the accord, nations are supposed to ratchet up their emissions cuts over time.

    The ultimate Paris goal is still not beyond reach for the U.S., according to some experts. “[The report presents] one of the more pessimistic views in terms of what could happen,” says Noelle Selin, associate director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology and Policy Program. For one, the president’s regulatory rollback may not even happen; rescinding or altering regulations takes time and environmental groups will almost certainly fight any changes in court.

    Also, economic forces are strongly influencing the nation’s emissions, notably the growth of natural gas and renewable energy paired with the decline of coal. State and local governments affect emissions as well; California, defying the White House, is pursuing its own rigorous climate regulations. “The report is a useful statement of what might happen if the Trump administration got its way,” says David Keith, professor of applied physics and public policy at Harvard University. “At present it looks like the administration’s ability to enact policy is pretty weak.” Nevertheless, Keith says, “uncertainty cuts both ways. It could end up worse than the report says.”

    Keith and Selin stress that policy reversals by the administration could undermine global goals beyond the U.S.’s own emissions. “Emissions reductions depend on cooperation,” Keith explains. Right now, China and India—two of the top greenhouse gas emitters—appear set to overachieve their Paris goals, according to the new report, largely because they seem likely to decrease their coal use sooner than predicted. But as it becomes clear the U.S. is not pushing for more ambitious climate actions, Selin notes, that may lead to other nations not meeting their targets. “That’s the real impact,” she says.

    This article is reproduced with permission from Scientific American. It was first published on May 31, 2017. It was updated June 1, 2017 to reflect the Trump administration’s announcement of its decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Find the original story here.

    The post Analysis: How much carbon will Trump’s climate policies add to the atmosphere? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump as he is accompanied by China's first lady Peng Liyuan during a dinner at the start of a summit between President Trump and President Xi at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017. Photo by: REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump as he is accompanied by China’s first lady Peng Liyuan during a dinner at the start of a summit between President Trump and President Xi at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017. Photo by: REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s pullback from a global climate pact could accelerate China’s unlikely ascent toward leadership in stemming global warming and promoting green technology, and on global matters far removed from the environment.

    Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would leave the Paris accord immediately sparked international criticism, deepening perceptions of an America in retreat after recent reversals on free trade and foreign aid.

    China may be poised to fill the breach. The world’s largest emitter of man-made carbon dioxide, considered a top cause of climate change, is already making rapid progress toward its Paris goal of stopping emissions growth by 2030. It has overtaken the U.S. in transitioning to renewable energy, generating a fifth of its electricity from renewable sources. The U.S. only sources about 13 percent of its electricity from renewables.

    And although China remains heavily reliant on coal and pollution is a persistent problem for its 1.3 billion citizens, the country’s communist rulers say they’re determined to institute fundamental change. That commitment has much of the world now looking to Beijing, which wants to assert itself on the global stage.

    WATCH: Trump announces decision on Paris climate agreement

    “They were doing this before Trump was elected,” said Carolyn Bartholomew, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission chairwoman. Criticizing Trump in a personal capacity, and not on behalf of the bipartisan panel that advises Congress, she added: “He’s just making it easier for them by pulling the U.S. back from the position of global responsibility.”

    China was positioning itself even before Trump officially declared his intentions in Thursday’s Rose Garden speech. It said this week it would work with the European Union to uphold the agreement, whatever Washington decided, with Premier Li Keqiang and EU officials set to discuss the matter Friday in Brussels.

    Even potential U.S. partners reached out across the Pacific.

    Gov. Jerry Brown of California, America’s largest state economy, said he’ll travel to China this week to build foreign support for carbon-cutting efforts. Such alliances “build momentum for a clean-energy future,” Brown told The Associated Press in an interview.

    Here’s how leaders are reacting to Trump’s withdrawal from Paris climate agreement

    China’s emergence as a new, alternative unifying force is hardly limited to environment. As the Trump administration has stepped back from America’s traditional role of dominance on trade and development, China has filled the vacuum, expanding its ever-growing footprint across the globe on everything from new roads and ports to bank loans and energy projects.

    To Washington’s chagrin, China last year set up its own development bank to meet needs left unfilled by U.S.-led institutions like the World Bank. Last month, President Xi Jinping hosted more than 20 world leaders for a show case of its economic initiative to build infrastructure linking Asia and Europe. Earlier this year, Xi made a high-profile speech in Davos, Switzerland, embracing at least the idea of an economic globalization that Western leaders like Trump are increasingly fleeing.

    By contrast, Trump has pulled the United States out of President Barack Obama’s ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that would have spanned a dozen nations from the U.S. to Chile to Japan. China wouldn’t have been privy to the deal. Trump also is proposing sharp cuts to U.S. budgets for humanitarian and development assistance for the world’s poorer nations.

    On climate, Beijing is taking action. It recently canceled construction of more than 100 new coal-fired power plants and plans to invest at least $360 billion in green-energy projects by the end of the decade. Its consumption of coal fell in 2016 for a third consecutive year. It could meet its 2030 target a decade early.

    READ MORE: Trump just kept his promise to exit the Paris accord. Here’s how he’s handled other international pledges.

    China’s willingness is largely driven by domestic imperatives: growing popular dismay about air pollution, deteriorating water quality, and soil contamination from runaway industrialization. China still accounts for about half of global coal consumption.

    Obama’s effort to engage China’s Xi on climate issues helped spur the change. A pre-Paris agreement between the two nations — the world’s two largest emitters — galvanized international action that culminated in the final deal endorsed by nearly 200 governments. By withdrawing, Trump puts the U.S. with Nicaragua and Syria as the only nations outside the accord.

    After three decades of rapid economic growth, China is assuming a mantle of leadership in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. That speaks not just to its leaders’ desire to modernize the nation, but also for global recognition and a re-emergence from the “humiliations” suffered during colonial rule and war during the 19th and 20th centuries.

    The re-emergence, however, has spooked neighbors as China wields growing economic and military clout. It also has fueled concerns of strategic rivalry with the United States that could end up in conflict.

    Still, countries in Asia and beyond also are seizing opportunities of doing ever bigger business with China’s growing economy, destined to become the world’s largest. China is finding willing partners not just in the developing world, but also in the West. And with economic cooperation comes greater influence.

    WATCH: Macron calls U.S. exit from Paris climate accord ‘a mistake both for the U.S. and for our planet’

    China is just getting started on the massive environmental work needed in the next decades. While it tops the world in the amount of energy it sources from solar and wind, its economy remains reliant on energy-intensive, intensely polluting industry. It is “both a leader and a laggard” in addressing climate change, said Sarah Ladislaw, an energy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    The shift to renewables is making them more affordable, even if China’s technology lags that of cutting-edge America and Europe.

    And while China’s commitment keeps the Paris deal alive, it could struggle without U.S. support to persuade the rest of the world to live up to its promises.

    Of China, Ladislaw said: “I just don’t know how they can single-handedly show enough leadership to do that.”

    Associated Press writers Ellen Knickmeyer in San Francisco, Jonathan J. Cooper in Sacramento, California, and Michael Biesecker in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post Trump’s exit from Paris agreement could open door for China to lead on climate change appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Donald Trump signs a revised executive order for a U.S. travel ban on Monday, leaving Iraq off the list of targeted countries, at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/FILE - RTS11OBB

    President Donald Trump signs a revised executive order for a U.S. travel ban on January 27, 2017. The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to reinstate the ban. Photo by REUTERS/Carlos Barria

    The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to immediately reinstate its ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries, saying the U.S. will be safer if the policy is put in place.

    The Justice Department filing to the high court late Thursday argued that the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, made several mistakes in ruling against the Trump travel policy.

    Immigration officials would have 90 days to decide what changes are necessary before people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen may resume applying for visas. It takes a majority of the court, at least five justices, to put the policy into effect.

    The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called the national security concerns an after-the-fact justification for a policy that was “rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country.” The appeals court ruled against reinstating the travel policy by a 10-3 vote last week.

    The Justice Department is “confident that President Trump’s executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the nation safe and protect our communities from terrorism,” spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said. “The president is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism, until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk to the United States.”

    The administration also wants to be able to suspend the refugee program for 120 days, a separate aspect of the policy that has been blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii and is now being considered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Trump signed his first executive order on travel a week after he took office in January. It applied to travelers from the six countries as well as Iraq and took effect immediately, causing chaos and panic at airports as the Homeland Security Department scrambled to figure out who the order covered and how it was to be implemented.

    A federal judge blocked it eight days later, an order that was upheld by a 9th Circuit panel. Rather than pursue an appeal, the administration said it would revise the policy.

    In March, Trump issued a narrower order, but federal courts that have examined it so far have blocked it as well.

    The post Trump asks Supreme Court to reinstate travel ban appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) questions Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2017.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTX322MM

    Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) questions Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2017. Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

    PHOENIX — As Republican Sen. Jeff Flake returned to Arizona this week during a congressional break, he was constantly reminded of the tightrope he must walk as he gears up for his 2018 re-election bid.

    Protesters on the left followed him around with a giant inflatable chicken whose hair style was patterned after President Donald Trump. Their message: Don’t be a chicken and stand up to the president on issues like health care. On the right, a former tea party activist ripped him on a daily basis over his moderate stances.

    Flake faces a tough test next year that is emblematic of the challenges many Republicans will encounter in the first midterm election of the Trump presidency. The left is energized on issues like health care, and the right is targeting politicians like Flake who have been outspoken in their criticism of the president.

    The junior Arizona senator was a frequent critic of Trump during the 2016 campaign and has said he didn’t vote for him. In his visit to Arizona week, he touted his support of the North American Free Trade Agreement — a deal Trump took the first steps to renegotiate or dismantle last month. But Flake also points out his support of Trump’s Supreme Court and cabinet picks.

    “I think people appreciate independence,” Flake said during a wide-ranging interview this week. “I’ll support the president when he’s right and I’ll oppose him when he’s wrong.”

    Flake faces at least one Republican challenger next year, former state Sen. Kelli Ward, and others are waiting in the wings, considering whether to jump in. They include state treasurer Jeff DeWit, an early Trump backer who ran the president’s campaign finances and would surely get big backing from him. A Democratic opponent has yet to emerge.

    Ward has taken aim at Flake for bucking his party’s right wing and backing immigration reform, dubbing him “sanctuary senator.” She also criticized him for the backing he gets from former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, another Trump critic who is set to appear at a Flake fundraiser on Friday. Former President George W. Bush also came to Arizona for a recent Flake fundraiser, and he can count on the loyal backing of fellow Arizona Sen. John McCain.

    “In my last election I had somebody spend about $9 million, mostly painting me as out of touch with Arizonans on immigration,” Flake said. “That person got 20 percent of the vote after spending $9 million. We beat ’em by 49 points.”

    Flake points to McCain’s easy 2016 re-election win, where he too abandoned Trump after a 2005 tape emerged of Trump making lewd remarks about women. Arizona remains a solidly red state, but independents now outnumber Democrats and Republicans.

    “(McCain) garnered I think, 250,000 more votes than the president did. Won the state by 14 against his opponent – the president won by 3½ points,” Flake said. “So I think Arizonans are more independent.”

    But it’s the vulnerability from the left that is likely more problematic for Flake. He’s a target of opponents of the Affordable Care Act repeal, who drag out the inflatable chicken at many of his events.

    “I think he’s absolutely vulnerable if he votes to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act,” said U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, a rising Democratic star from Phoenix who has been critical of the House-passed repeal and replace plan. “Health care is a very personal thing, we’ve learned it as Democrats. Republicans are going to learn the same thing if they pull this system out from underneath people.”

    Flake has had a full schedule this week, appearing at businesses and events across metropolitan Phoenix, launching a push to defend NAFTA against a possible Trump pullout, making an appearance at a nuclear plant, speaking to business leaders and working to boost his campaign coffers. As of March 31, records show he had about $1.8 million on hand.

    Flake avoided town hall meetings that have stirred up liberal voters and protesters like the one he faced earlier this year. At events before friendly crowds this week, like a Glendale Chamber of Commerce event Tuesday, he still got questions critical of repealing health care law.

    Flake acknowledges the House-passed bill, under which congressional analysts estimate 23 million people will lose coverage, has no chance in the Senate. The Senate is now working on its own plan, but Flake won’t commit to backing it until he’s reviewed it.

    Retired property manager Bill Morris was at the Glendale event and said he is worried about the effects of the repeal on his Medicare and on friends with other types of insurance. He said he wants Flake to stand up to Republicans who are pushing a repeal.

    “I would tell him to vote his conscious and not his party,” Morris said. “This is the United States, he’s responsible to all of us, especially here in Arizona since he’s one of our two senators.”

    Flake cites insurers fleeing the private marketplace as evidence that Congress has to act.

    “For those who say let’s just keep the ACA as it is, that’s not possible. It’s not going to survive as it is, we know that,” flake said. “In Iowa, already, the only insurer there has indicated an intent to pull out. We’re going to have a lot of people with no choice at all.

    At the same time, he’s aware of the big boost that an expanded Medicaid program under Obama provided in Arizona.

    Arizona has seen more than 400,000 people get insurance, plus another 20,000 children under a plan known as KidsCare, under Medicaid expansion. Nearly all would lose coverage under the House plan unless the state embraces a massive tax increase, which is virtually impossible in the Legislature. About 200,000 people buy private insurance on the federal marketplace, and many would see dramatic changes there too and likely lose affordable coverage.

    “With (Medicaid), particularly in those states that expanded, they’ve come to rely on that pretty quickly,” he said. “And it would be a big jolt to the budget and big problem for those who have coverage if it were to end immediately.”

    The post Arizona Sen. Flake treads carefully as 2018 election looms appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    First year Ironworker apprentices (L-R) Ian Welshhans, Daniel Truax and Jason Taylor practice their welding skills during a class at the Ironworkers Local 549 training facility in Wheeling, West Virginia March 6, 2012. The iron workers' labor union is hoping to see a large number of jobs come from the proposed Shell cracker plant that they hope will be built in the region. Picture taken March 6, 2012. To match Feature APPALACHIA-CHEMICALPLANT/ REUTERS/Jason Cohn (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT INDUSTRIAL) - RTR2Z8CR

    First year Ironworker apprentices (L-R) Ian Welshhans, Daniel Truax and Jason Taylor practice their welding skills during a class at the Ironworkers Local 549 training facility in Wheeling, West Virginia. President Trump want to put more money toward ‘school choice,’ but less in CTE and other areas that evidence shows bolster the economy, writes Shaun Dougherty. Photo by Jason Cohn/Reuters

    The Trump administration has some ambitious goals that include trillions in tax cuts, a significant military buildup and a fresh investment in infrastructure.

    The White House released details of how it plans to pay for it all in its full budget request for fiscal year 2018: by slashing spending on pretty much everything else, but also by boosting economic growth enough to generate more than $2 trillion in new revenue over a decade.

    What the president’s team is failing to consider is that many of its spending cuts, such as reduced investment in welfare and education, will actually impede the administration’s ability to achieve its target growth rate of 3 percent, up from about 2 percent today.

    My own research focuses on how career and technical education (CTE) has implications for growth by promoting educational attainment, training and productivity. Trump’s proposed cuts to CTE offer an illustrative example of the economic consequences of reducing social spending.

    Taking an ax to education

    The administration’s budget seeks to slash spending on the Education Department by $9.2 billion, or 13.5 percent, which is the biggest proposed cut since President Ronald Reagan unsuccessfully tried to gut the agency in the 1980s.

    In K-12 education, the administration would like to eliminate at least four distinct programs – including Title II grants for teacher and principal training and programs designed to help lower-income students transition to college – and make significant reductions to many others. On the other hand, there’s a big investment in a few programs to support school choice and vouchers, an articulated priority of Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

    The higher education budget faces severe cuts as well. Trump wants to eliminate subsidized student loans as well as a loan forgiveness program and slash federal work study spending in half. These changes would substantially undermine efforts to help lower-income Americans attain a college degree, which would be a further drag on economic and productivity growth.

    Of particular concern to me, however, is the $168 million, or 15 percent, reduction in block grants to states, called Perkins funding, which are used to support career and technical education in high schools and community college. Given the administration’s preference for funding programs that promote economic growth, the cut to CTE – which disproportionately benefits Trump’s base of largely white working-class voters – is bewildering.

    CTE, also known as vocational education, exposes youth to practical, hands-on skills as a complement to academic coursework. Historically, CTE has included programs like auto mechanics and cosmetology but increasingly also includes high-growth industries such as information technology and health services.

    By supporting these kinds of career paths, CTE tends to train students for positions that could support small business growth, and that fill demand in the high growth fields of health services, information technology and advanced manufacturing.

    How CTE helps the economy

    Though CTE is on Trump’s list of cuts, it is the area of education spending that my research suggests has the most potential to boost economic growth. These benefits would be realized through better-paying jobs and fewer dropouts, which also help achieve other positive economic and social outcomes.

    Career Academies, which began about 35 years ago, are one such approach to providing CTE in high school by integrating career pathways into the school curriculum. They boast some of the best evidence on the effectiveness of CTE. A 2008 report on the program suggests it can help students earn 11 percent more in wages compared with their peers.

    The Trump administration has claimed the high price tag of its tax cuts will pay for themselves through higher economic growth. A budget that aims to gut important social programs – which not only improve individual lives directly but also boost the economy – would make that a lot less achievable.

    My own recent work using data from Arkansas shows that students who took more CTE courses in high school were more likely to be employed and earn more money – about 3 percent to 5 percent – than their peers who took fewer. Furthermore, I also found these students were more likely to finish high school and go on to college, both of which improve job prospects.

    Evidence from Massachusetts shows similar educational benefits of CTE. Specifically, I found that students enrolled in vocational programs were significantly more likely to graduate from high school and attain industry-recognized certificates in specialized fields like IT.

    Increasing high school graduation is critical; there is ample evidence that higher levels of educational attainment result in higher wages and better long-term employment prospects.

    Studies show that a high school graduate will earn 50 to 100 percent more in lifetime earnings than high school dropouts and will be less likely to draw on welfare or get tangled up in the criminal justice system. The graduate’s higher earnings also mean she’ll pay more in taxes.

    Beyond improving individual outcomes, investment in education and training fuels broader economic growth by bolstering productivity. The decreased demand for social services and welfare also frees up more state and federal resources to be invested in other areas of the economy.

    Ideology over sound policy

    The Trump administration has claimed the high price tag of its tax cuts will pay for themselves through higher economic growth. A budget that aims to gut important social programs – which not only improve individual lives directly but also boost the economy – would make that a lot less achievable.

    In the end, the Trump budget, it seems, is motivated more by ideology than sound, evidence-based policy. In education, the administration is clearly prioritizing school choice at the expense of bedrock areas like CTE that are known to promote achievement and a variety of economic benefits.

    As a result, education development will suffer, as will the administration’s rosy economic growth projections.

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

    The post Column: The problem with Trump’s cuts to education? It undermines his own economic growth goals appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mack Bartsch builds a “drummer from another mother” synthesizer as part of an engineering class at Moogfest, a technology and music festival in Durham, North Carolina. Photo by Andrew Bossone

    Mack Bartsch builds a “drummer from another mother” synthesizer as part of an engineering class at Moogfest, a technology and music festival in Durham, North Carolina. Photo by Andrew Bossone

    Mack Bartsch doesn’t just make electronic music: the 16-year-old DJ also makes electronic instruments. Bartsch, who goes by the stage name spaceprodigi, recently constructed a synthesizer as part of an engineering class at Moogfest, a technology and music festival in Durham, North Carolina. She owns five synthesizers in total, two of which she built herself, and her first album of electronic dance music comes out this June.

    “I just find it really fun to create my own synthesizers,” Bartsch told the NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown. “It’s just really cool to get to build it, and I enjoy soldering and electrical engineering. It’s just really fun.”

    About 26,000 people attended Moogfest, named after Robert Moog, an influential inventor of an analog synthesizer, which creates sounds by shaping electricity into waveforms using oscillators.

    In the 1960s, analog synthesizers built by Moog and Donald Buchla landed in the hands of big acts making popular music, like The Beatles and Pink Floyd. Synth continued to be widely used in popular music throughout the 1980s by acts such as U2 and The Police.

    “Suddenly, people had an instrument where they could design sounds, craft sounds, that no one in the world had ever heard before,” said Emmy Parker, the creative director of Moogfest. “Those sounds became the sound of the future.”

    A few decades later, computers made creating music widely accessible, and synthesizers fell out of favor — until a resurgence in the last few years. Now, musicians are rediscovering the synthesizer’s ability to create unique sounds. Bartsch, a high school sophomore in Houston, says she loves the “organic feel of analog synthesizers.”

    Performers using synthesizers this year at Moogfest included the indie rock band Animal Collective, Syrian wedding singer-turned pop star Omar Souleyman and SURVIVE, which was nominated for two Grammy Awards for scoring the Netflix hit “Stranger Things.”

    The intersection of technology and art makes up the heart of the festival, which was previously held in New York and Asheville, North Carolina, where Moog synthesizers are manufactured. The organizers eventually settled on Durham and expanded the events beyond music to include lectures from scientists and futurists, as well as discussions with musicians.

    “At Moogfest, the music revolution will be synthesized” reports NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown.

    This year’s festival also featured Suzanne Ciani, a pioneer in creating electronic sounds with synthesizers. She eventually abandoned the synthesizer to return to her roots in classical piano, but came back to creating electronic music a few years ago. Nicknamed the “Diva of the Diode,” Ciani looks at her use of technology and music as an alternative form of communication. This year at Moogfest, she received a lifetime achievement award.

    “I’m having a conversation with the machine,” she said. “There’s something to be said about all music being some translation of our language and our way of communicating. It’s a language. This is a new language.”

    The post As musicians rediscover synthesizers, this 16-year-old makes her own appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by Joe Skipper/Reuters

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. File photo by Joe Skipper/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson downplayed the significance of the U.S. pullout from the Paris climate pact, arguing Friday that America still will continue taking steps to cut heat-trapping pollution.

    In his first public comments on President Donald Trump’s move, Tillerson called it a policy decision by the president. Tillerson, a former Exxon Mobil CEO, had urged Trump not to abandon the deal but was ultimately overruled.

    Tillerson said people need to recognize that the U.S. has a “terrific record” of reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions, adding that it is “something I think we can be proud of.”

    “That was done in the absence of the Paris agreement,” Tillerson said. “I don’t think we’re going to change our effort to reduce our emission in the future, either.”

    “So hopefully, people can keep it in perspective,” the secretary added.

    Tillerson spoke at the State Department during a photo-op with visiting Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes Ferreira.

    The post Tillerson: US still will cut emissions despite Paris pullout appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman walks in a local park while clouds shroud the Empire State Building and the skyline of New York as it is seen from Weehawken, New Jersey, U.S. May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz - RTX384B4

    A woman walks in a local park while clouds shroud the Empire State Building and the skyline of New York as it is seen from Weehawken, New Jersey, U.S. May 29, 2017. Photo by REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

    Editor’s Note: This Thursday’s Making Sen$e segment features the man who made the term “creative class” famous: Richard Florida. In this no-nonsense excerpt from his new book, “The New Urban Crisis,” he explains the Jekyll/Hyde nature of today’s urban revival in the United States, and in New York City in particular.


    Imagine that you could travel back in time to 1975, snatch a random New Yorker off the street and set him loose in the city today. The New York he knew was a place in steep economic decline. People, jobs and industry were fleeing to the suburbs. Grimy, dangerous and violent, New York teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. What would that same New Yorker make of the city today? He wouldn’t have any trouble finding his way around. The Bronx would still be up, the Battery down and Lady Liberty would continue to preside over the harbor. Most of the city’s great landmarks — the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, Rockefeller and Lincoln Centers — would look much as they did in his heyday. The streets would still be clogged with traffic. He could take the same subways across Manhattan and out to the edges of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, the PATH train to New Jersey, and New Jersey Transit and Metro North into the outer suburbs.

    But many other things would have dramatically changed. Sadly, the Twin Towers, brand new in his day, would be gone. The city’s rebuilt financial district would be teeming not just with businesspeople but also with the sort of affluent families who would have made their homes in the suburbs back in his day. Nearby, on what was once a wasteland of rubble and sagging piers, a long, green park with a bike path would run along the Hudson River across the entire length of Manhattan. Times Square would still have its lights and flickering billboards, but where seedy theaters and sex shops once stood, he would find an urban version of Disneyland teeming with tourists, some of them relaxing in the rocking chairs placed there for their enjoyment. Where the squatting artists of SoHo and the hippies and punks of the West and East Villages once roamed, he would find upscale restaurants, cafés and bars filled with well-off investment bankers, techies, tourists and more than the occasional celebrity.

    The once functioning meat-processing plants, industrial warehouses and off-the-beaten-path gay leather bars of the Meatpacking District would be gone; instead, a linear park built atop the neighborhood’s derelict elevated rail line would be crowded with people. Spanning its length would be shiny new condos and office towers, a brand-new Whitney Museum, boutique hotels and upscale stores. The nearby Nabisco factory would be turned into a high-end food court, and the gargantuan old Port Authority building would be filled with techies working for Google, one of the many high-tech companies in the neighborhood. Crossing the East River or the Hudson, he would see the factories, run-down tenements and row houses of Brooklyn, Hoboken and Jersey City transformed into neighborhoods where young professionals and families live, work and play. He could walk the streets at night without worrying about crime.

    READ MORE: Is the ‘creative class’ saving our cities, or making them impossible to live in?

    But as polished and well-appointed as the city would appear on the surface, he would also feel the tensions simmering underneath. Living there would be far less affordable for a working person like him than it had been in 1975. Apartments that had sold for $50,000 in his day would now be fetching millions; others that he could have rented for $500 a month would now cost $5,000, $10,000 or more. He would see glistening towers rising along 57th Street’s billionaires’ row, many of them almost completely dark and lifeless at night. He would hear people complaining about increasing inequality, the rise of the “one percent,” and how the city had become increasingly unaffordable for the middle class.

    Amid all the new money and the tourists, he would see vast stretches of persistent disadvantage, often cheek by jowl with the new bastions of wealth. He would find that the poverty and social problems, such as crime and drug use, that had plagued the city in his day had moved out to what used to be solidly middle-class suburbs. He might be surprised to learn that a Democrat had been returned to the mayor’s office in 2014, after two decades of rule by conservatives, one of them a multibillionaire who served for three full terms. He would be even more amazed to find that the new mayor — a former community activist from Brooklyn — won office in a campaign that railed against the transformation of New York City into two cities: one rich and one poor. How this happened, “the tale of two cities,” as the new mayor put it, would largely be the story of what he had missed in those 40 years.

    Watch economics correspondent Paul Solman’s report on urban revival and the crisis of success

    I have lived in and around cities and observed them closely my entire life, and I have been an academic urbanist for more than three decades. I have seen cities decline and die, and I have seen them come back to life. But none of that prepared me for what we face today. Just when it seemed that our cities were really turning a corner, when people and jobs were moving back to them, a host of new urban challenges — from rising inequality to increasingly unaffordable housing and more — started to come to the fore. Seemingly overnight, the much-hoped-for urban revival has turned into a new kind of urban crisis.

    Although many commentators have identified and grappled with elements of this crisis, few appreciate how deep it runs and how systemic it has become. A gaping intellectual divide splits leading urban experts into two distinct camps: urban optimists and urban pessimists. Each camp describes important realities of urbanism today — and yet the one-sidedness of their perspectives has prevented us from grasping the full dimensions of the current urban crisis so we can figure our way out of it.

    The urban optimists focus on the stunning revival of cities and the power of urbanization to improve the human condition. For these thinkers (myself among them, not too long ago), cities are richer, safer, cleaner and healthier than they have ever been, and urbanization is an unalloyed source of betterment. The world, they say, would be a better place if nation-states had less power, and cities and their mayors had more.

    Seemingly overnight, the much-hoped-for urban revival has turned into a new kind of urban crisis.

    In stark contrast, the urban pessimists see modern cities as being carved into gilded and virtually gated areas for conspicuous consumption by the super-rich with vast stretches of poverty and disadvantage for the masses nearby. Urban revitalization, in the pessimists’ view, is driven by rapacious capitalists who profit by rebuilding some neighborhoods and running others down. Global urbanization is being foisted on the world by an unrelenting neoliberal capitalist order, and its defining feature is not progress and economic development, but slums, along with an economic, humanitarian and ecological crisis of staggering proportions.

    Gentrification and inequality are the direct outgrowths of the re-colonization of the city by the affluent and the advantaged.

    So, which is it: Are cities the great engines of innovation, the models of economic and social progress that the optimists celebrate, or are they the zones of gaping inequality and class division that the pessimists decry? The reality is that they are both. Urbanism is every bit as powerful an economic force as the optimists say, and it is simultaneously as wrenching and divisive as the pessimists claim. Like capitalism itself, it is paradoxical and contradictory. Understanding today’s urban crisis requires taking both the urban pessimists and the urban optimists seriously. In my attempt to grapple with it, I have tried to draw from the best and most important contributions of each.

    What exactly is the New Urban Crisis?

    For the past five years or so, I have focused my research and my intellectual energy on defining it. Working with my research team, I developed new data on the scope and sources of urban inequality, the extent of economic segregation, the key causes and dimensions of gentrification, the cities and neighborhoods where the global super-rich are settling, the challenges posed by the concentration of high-tech startups in the cities and the alleged dampening of artistic and musical creativity as cities have grown more expensive. Marrying my own long-held interest in urban economic development with the insights of urban sociologists on the corrosive effects of concentrated poverty, I mapped the deep new divides that isolate the classes in separate neighborhoods and traced the growth of poverty and economic disadvantage in the suburbs. I delved deep into the many challenges that face the rapidly growing cities of the world’s emerging economies, where urbanization is failing to spur the same kind of economic growth and rising living standards that it did for the advanced nations.

    The New Urban Crisis is different from the older urban crisis of the 1960s and 1970s. That previous crisis was defined by the economic abandonment of cities and their loss of economic function. Shaped by deindustrialization and white flight, its hallmark was a hollowing out of the city center, a phenomenon that urban theorists and policymakers labeled the hole-in-the-donut. As cities lost their core industries, they became sites of growing and persistent poverty: their housing decayed; crime and violence increased; and social problems, including drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and infant mortality, escalated. As urban economies eroded and tax revenues declined, cities became increasingly dependent on the federal government for financial support. Many of these problems remain with us to this day.

    But the New Urban Crisis stretches even further and is more all-encompassing than its predecessor. Although two of its core features — mounting inequality and rising housing prices — are most often discussed in relation to rising and reviving urban centers such as New York, London and San Francisco, the crisis also hits hard at the declining cities of the Rustbelt and in sprawling Sunbelt cities with unsustainable economies driven by energy, tourism and real estate. Other core features — economic and racial segregation, spatial inequality, entrenched poverty — are becoming as common in the suburbs as they are in the cities. Seen in this light, the New Urban Crisis is also a crisis of the suburbs, of urbanization itself and of contemporary capitalism writ large.

    The post Column: ‘The New Urban Crisis’ is a crisis of capitalism, writ large appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FILE PHOTO - California Governor Jerry Brown speaks before signing a bill hiking California's minimum wage to $15 by 2023 in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo - RTS169L1

    California Governor Jerry Brown is one of dozens of local leaders who have pledged to fill the void left by President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord. File photo by REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson.

    In announcing his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, President Donald Trump said Thursday that he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

    The Democratic mayor of Pittsburgh immediately shot back on Twitter: “As the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future,” Mayor Bill Peduto tweeted.

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

    A number of city and state leaders quickly echoed Peduto’s response. At least 87 mayors had adopted their own version of the Paris accord by 3:20 p.m. Friday. In a statement Thursday, the group promised to “increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice.”

    Cities and states are likely to continue the trend away from coal-powered electricity and toward renewable energy despite Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris deal. The question is whether that trend will slow without a federal mandate pushing states to cut carbon emissions.

    The Paris agreement calls on countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius. For its part, the United States pledged to cut its emissions 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.

    Analysis: How much carbon will Trump’s climate policies add to the atmosphere?

    The key to reaching that benchmark was the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The plan, announced by President Obama in 2015, set restrictions on emissions from power plants — the single largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S. — and required states to create individual plans for how they would reduce carbon emissions.

    But the Supreme Court stayed the Environmental Protection Agency’s implementation of the Clean Power Plan in February 2016. The plan took another hit last March when Trump signed an executive order to roll back the program and halt many other Obama-era climate initiatives. For many on the left, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accord was a final blow to Obama’s vision of making the U.S. a global leader on climate change.

    Cities and states are likely to continue the trend away from coal-powered electricity and toward renewable energy despite Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris deal. The question is whether that trend will slow without a federal mandate pushing states to cut carbon emissions.

    Trump did not said exactly how the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris agreement. But the White House appears likely to follow the exit provisions laid out in the deal, which take roughly four years to complete, meaning a formal withdrawal might not take place until the day after the 2020 presidential election. The timeline could make the Paris deal a major issue in next year’s midterm election and Trump’s reelection bid.

    In the meantime, with the Clean Power Plan on hold and the U.S. on track to pull out of the Paris accord, states won’t risk violating federal regulations if they fail to cut their own carbon emissions. In his speech announcing the withdrawal in the White House Garden, President Trump said the move lifted a burden from the country.

    The Paris agreement forces American “taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished economic production,” Trump said.

    But while some White House supporters cheered the decision, the reaction among states was mixed — and several vowed to push on with emissions reduction goals despite Trump’s decision.

    California charges on

    In California, state leaders said the president was creating a leadership vacuum in the world’s efforts to combat climate change.

    “The world is not waiting for Donald Trump,” Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif., told the NewsHour on Thursday. “He has given a body blow to the cause of environmental sustainability, but we will take it and we will respond. We’re on the field of battle, and we’re going to overcome.”

    Brown has been working with a number of countries, including Mexico and Canada, to address climate change. On Friday, he flew to China to meet with the country’s leaders on climate change policy.

    California has a long track record on climate change Brown can point to in his talks with China. In 2006, the state passed a law to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

    “It helps that California has managed to reduce its emissions while growing its economy,” Cara Horowitz, the co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA, wrote in an email. “That’s a lesson others are eager to learn from.”

    California’s clean energy sector has boomed since the state set new emissions goals in 2006.

    Tillerson: US still will cut emissions despite Paris pullout

    California’s wind energy production has more than doubled since that year, according to California Energy Commission data, and solar power has increased by an eye-opening 2,342 percent. The state has added more than 1.3 million jobs overall since the 2006 law, and its unemployment remains in line with the national average, according to federal labor statistics. According to the Solar Foundation, California led the nation with 100,050 solar industry workers in 2016 — more than the next nine states combined.

    Given these trends, the state won’t change its climate policies anytime soon, Horowitz said.

    “California will continue to lead on climate change,” Horowitz said. She added: “Its own emission reduction targets are adopted into state law and won’t change because of Trump’s decision.”

    A number of other left-leaning states are following suit. New York and Washington’s governors said Thursday they were partnering with California to create what they called the U.S. Climate Alliance. By Thursday evening, a total of 10 governors had signed on.

    Red states will likely continue clean energy push

    U.S. President Barack Obama (L) takes a tour of a solar power array with U.S. Air Force Colonel Ronald Jolly before delivering remarks on clean energy at Hill Air Force Base, Utah April 3, 2015. Obama announced a Department of Energy initiative Friday with the goal of training 75,000 workers, especially targeting veterans, to enter the solar energy workforce by the year 2020.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTR4W1Y4

    In 2015, then-President Barack Obama toured a Utah solar power array with U.S. Air Force Colonel Ronald Jolly at Hill Air Force Base. Utah’s solar industry grew by almost 65 percent from 2015 to 2016. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

    The Democratic governors’ response to Trump’s decision was predictable. But it’s also unlikely that conservative states will drastically slow the trend of reducing their carbon emissions.

    Market forces have already forced many companies to switch from coal to natural gas, which emits about half as much carbon dioxide. The cost of renewable energy like wind and solar has also declined in recent years to become more competitive with fossil fuel, and much of America’s clean energy is produced in red states that voted for Trump.

    Utah is a good example. Trump won the state by 18 points last year, and it hasn’t had a Democratic governor since 1985. Nevertheless, Utah is in the middle of a solar boom. Solar now accounts for about 10 percent of Utah’s energy mix; the state’s solar industry grew by almost 65 percent from 2015 to 2016. In contrast, the solar industry nationwide grew 25 percent over the same period.

    Utah’s “market-based innovations” have led to “affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible energy options,” Laura Nelson, who heads Utah GOP Gov. Gary Herbert’s Office of Energy Development, said in a statement Thursday after Trump announced the Paris withdrawal.

    “The state has a plan to continue to provide value to the economy and the environment, including a greenhouse gas initiative, and further reductions in greenhouse gases are expected going forward based on Utah’s commitment to markets, competition and investment in technology,” Nelson said.

    Utah’s investments in clean energy have paid off, leading to a 15 percent reduction in carbon emissions over the last eight years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

    Utah’s investments in clean energy have paid off, leading to a 15 percent reduction in carbon emissions over the last eight years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

    And Utah’s story is similar to a number of other red states, which rank among the leaders in renewable energy. Wyoming leads the country in renewable energy development per capita. Texas is the leading U.S. wind energy producer — and now produces more wind energy than the next three states combined. In Kentucky — whose GOP senators Rand Paul and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged President Trump to withdraw from the Paris accord — a coal company is planning to build the state’s largest solar farm on a reclaimed coal mine.

    Those economic factors matter in most states regardless of the politics, said Vicki Arroyo, the executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center.

    Arroyo said states began taking more initiative after President George W. Bush announced his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 international treaty that set global emissions standards. The Clinton administration signed the treaty the following year but it remains unbinding for the U.S., because the deal hasn’t been ratified by the Senate. The Bush administration said in 2001 that it would not enforce its Kyoto Protocol emissions obligations.

    READ MORE: Here’s how leaders are reacting to Trump’s withdrawal from Paris climate agreement

    “What you’ve seen is states that have taken a leadership position since the Bush administration [came] in and pulled back from Kyoto,” Arroyo said. Since then, states have “actually seen that moving forward with a clean energy economy brings a lot of local benefits.”

    Still, the political divisions around climate change policy remain. Utah’s senior Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, joined Lee in supporting Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris deal. Other Republicans in both red and blue states, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, also praised the move.

    “President Trump made the right call in leaving a deal that would have put an unnecessary burden on the United States,” McCarthy said in a statement.

    And renewable energy advocates worried that without federal regulations to curb carbon emissions, the growth in renewable energy would slow.

    “My hope is that we will continue to advance renewable energy in the state regardless of what is happening at the national level,” said Sarah Wright, the executive director of the advocacy group Utah Clean Energy. “But progress may slow down because we don’t have the impetus to move forward more quickly.”

    The post States step into void left by exit from Paris climate accord appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Guardian LF1, a prototype robot that stuns and collects invasive lionfish. Photo by Robots in Service of the Environment

    The Guardian LF1, a prototype robot that stuns and collects invasive lionfish. Photo by Robots in Service of the Environment

    The America’s Cup sailing race kicked off this week in Bermuda, but a month ago, a different type of competition was held in the island’s lucid waters. It was a contest that pitted chef against chef and robot against beast.

    Last August, NewsHour reported on a robot being developed to stop lionfish, an invasive species that has decimated Atlantic coral reef ecosystems due to their insatiable appetites for other fish. This spring, the prototype — called the Guardian LF1 and conceived by the foundation for Robots in Service of the Environment — launched into the open ocean for the first time, as part of a sustainability promotion event for the America’s Cup.

    Piloted by a Playstation controller — yes, a videogame controller! — the final prototype cruised through a Bermudian shallows, according to videos of the event, where it zapped and then vacuumed up lionfish. The robot can capture about 10 lionfish before resurfacing.

    “I got to tell you, the moment when we caught the first fish in the wild was just so jubilant,” John Rizzi, a retired entrepreneur, Navy veteran and RISE’s executive director, told NewsHour. “The whole team just like exploded in joy.”

    WATCH: How do you stop invasive lionfish? Maybe with a robotic zapper

    When we first met the RISE team in Bermuda, the prototype wasn’t much more than blueprints and components being individually tested on the island and at the foundation’s headquarters near Boston. A year prior, RISE had formed when Colin Angle, the CEO for iRobot and the maker of the Roomba robotic vacuum, visited friends and marine biologists on Bermuda and they explained how lionfish quickly became king of the Atlantic’s coral reefs.

    To suck in a lionfish, a single high-powered thruster sits inside the tube’s back end. Photo by Robots in Service of the Environment

    To suck in a lionfish, a single high-powered thruster sits inside the tube’s back end. Photo by Robots in Service of the Environment

    As fierce predators and constant feeders, lionfish escalated in the Atlantic food chain by preying on the naivety of native fish, which don’t recognize lionfish as a threat. On the flip side, lionfish aren’t easily spooked because they have few of their own predators in Atlantic. While on a submersible ride to the bottom of the ocean, we sailed straight up to a lionfish, without it fleeing. RISE’s team planned to capitalize on this boldness by sneaking up behind lionfish and zapping them.

    Here’s how they took the idea from paper to practice. After our visit, RISE’s all-volunteer team headed back to Boston, where they began to assemble the components in their engineering lab — also known as Rizzi’s garage.

    “The challenge in New England, of course, is everything freezes in the winter time, so we lost access to outdoor pools,” Rizzi said. “In the winter, we put a 300 gallon tank in my garage.” One of the engineers — Rosario Robert — is also a fish aquarium hobbyist, so she helped with the installation, but also cared for and raised lionfish at her house for future testing.

    The Guardian LF1, a lionfish zapping robot, approaches the invasive predator, which reacts by opening its mouth and flashing its poisonous barbs — its typical response when threatened. The robot maneuvers its metal electrodes around the lionfish to stun but not kill the animal. A thruster positioned in the main tube sucks up the animal into a vacuum chamber, where it can then be carried to the sea surface. Video courtesy of Robots in Service of the Environment

    One of the first challenges came with the electrocution device — two electrode plates at the front of the robot. Did the team want to stun or outright kill the lionfish? They ultimately opted for the former, because it requires less power, is easier on the electronics and is more humane. The duration of the shock is now less than one second.

    At first, the electric current was choosing the path of least resistance and passing around the fish. So RISE recruited an engineer from an electrofishing company in Washington, who tweaked the configuration of the plates and the electricity current waveform so it could strike the fish.

    A camera mounted on the robot allows the pilot to view what the robot sees via a laptop screen, and most can figure out the Playstation piloting system within 30 seconds. Photo by Robots in Service of the Environment

    A camera mounted on the robot allows the pilot to view what the robot sees via a laptop screen, and most can figure out the Playstation piloting system within 30 seconds. Photo by Robots in Service of the Environment

    Next, came the vacuum. The robot features a central tube — the vacuum chamber — that doubles as the device’s chassis. Small propellers and a motor hang off the sides of this chamber, providing thrust and maneuverability. To suck in a lionfish, a single high-powered thruster sits inside the tube’s back end.

    “It was brilliant work by our software guys. [The main tube] thruster sucks in so hard that it actually pushes the whole ROV forward, but you don’t want it to crash into the coral,” Rizzi said. “So other thrusters, that normally drive the ROV forward and backward, counteract the suction.”

    In the end, RISE’s team of 20 engineers — along with a set of marine biologists, web developers and marketing gurus — worked together to create a lionfish-hunting device that can run off a 12-volt battery found on most boats. A camera mounted on the robot allows the pilot to view what the robot sees via a laptop screen, and most can figure out the Playstation piloting system within 30 seconds, Rizzi said.

    The Guardian LF1 prototype debuted publicly during #EatLionfish Chefs’ Throwdown in mid-April, an event hosted by 11th Hour Racing in Bermuda to raise awareness about the invasive species. Photo by 11th Hour Racing

    The Guardian LF1 prototype debuted publicly during #EatLionfish Chefs’ Throwdown in mid-April, an event hosted by 11th Hour Racing in Bermuda to raise awareness about the invasive species. Photo by 11th Hour Racing

    RISE hopes to market the robot to commercial fisherman who want to sell lionfish to restaurants, as well as recreational fishers and sailors.

    “Most sailors care about the environment. The environment is their playground,” said Todd McGuire, program director of sustainability organization 11th Hour Racing, which hosted the #EatLionfish Chefs’ Throwdown in Bermuda where the Guardian LF1 debuted publicly in mid-April.

    The event invited celebrity chefs from across globe — Gael Orieux from France, Taichi Kitamura from Seattle, Annabel Langbein from New Zealand — to raise awareness about lionfish through the sport of sailing. Both RISE and 11th Hour racing receive grants from the Schmidt Family Foundation, which is how the two learned about each other.

    “We try to promote sustainability at all of the stops along the America’s Cup world series and raise awareness about local problems,” McGuire said. “It gives the local organizations who are working on these sustainability problems a bigger platform.” Average daily attendance for the America’s Cup in Bermuda hovers around 65,000 people.

    With the initial launch complete, RISE will now turn its attention to fundraising, so they can begin work on a commercial-sized model that can hold 40 to 50 fish at a time and conduct more field testing with the Guardian LF1. The current equipment is built to withstand depths of 300 feet, though the team has not tested this limit yet. They aim to do so this summer off the coast of Boston.

    “We’re building and moving now toward production,” Rizzi said.

    The post The lionfish zapper hits the open seas appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A quick look at today’s headline unemployment number, and you’d think the U.S. job market was killing it with the official unemployment rate down again to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent last month, and a stunning drop from fully 10 percent in October 2009, at the depth of the post-Crash recession. Moreover, 4.3 percent has often been referred to as “full employment,” or somewhere close to it, because there are always millions of Americans between jobs who are obliged to tell the monthly survey takers that they didn’t work a lick in the past seven days.

    And yet… the economy only grew by a disappointing 138,000 jobs in May, though the “civilian non institutional population” added about 180,000 people. Moreover, the number of jobs added in the last two months — March and April — turned out to be much much lower than initially reported — a combined 66,000 fewer new jobs in all.

    Now, I always tell people to not make too much of any one month’s number, and I try not to myself. The numbers come from surveys, taken from samples of American households and employers. But hey, I’m a “journalist” (from the French daily) and this is today’s news. And even if you take a longer view, it’s now three months in a row that suggest slower growth, a far cry from last year’s hearty average of 180,000 net new jobs a month. By contrast, over the past three months, the U.S. economy added just 121,000 jobs per month on average. And a whopping 608,000 people seem to have left the workforce entirely in May alone.

    And a whopping 608,000 people seem to have left the workforce entirely in May alone.

    Okay, many of them are probably retirees. That number we’ve been using for the past few years — 10,000 Americans a day hitting age 65 — still holds, for a grand total of something like 300,000 potential retirees a month. But that’s not 600,000!

    So are folks just giving up? Are “seniors” who had kept looking for jobs after age 65 finally saying “to hell with it”? Or is the May number in need of downward revision, just like the jobs overstatements of the past two months? I wouldn’t want to bet on the right answer. And neither should you.

    There was further job expansion in one inexorably growing sector of the economy — health care — which added another 24,000 jobs in May. As we recently reported on Making Sen$e, the expected growth rate for the sector from 2014 to 2024 is a very healthy 19 percent. (The expected growth rate for all other industries over the same time period: barely 7 percent.)

    And it’s no surprise. Our country is visibly aging, with people 65 and older now making up about 15 percent of our population. As people get older, not only do they leave the labor force, but their health needs increase, raising the demand for health care workers.

    So why, you might ask, are so many people leaving the labor force when the demand for work that almost anyone can arguably learn to do is growing?

    READ MORE: The demand for nursing isn’t going away. Will more men join their ranks?

    Well, a lot of health care work is quite demanding, both emotionally and physically. Can older workers really do it well, or do it at all?

    Another problem with health care work: the pay. Yes, doctors and even some nurses are generously compensated (not to mention drug reps, hospital and insurance executives). But so many health care jobs are low-end, low-pay. And when you look at last month’s overall pay numbers, you can quickly see that “production and nonsupervisory employees” in general got an average raise of 3 cents in May, which projects to a measly annual increase of 1.6 percent, less than the rate of inflation (2.2 percent over the past year).

    As it happens, we’ve just begun a Making Sen$e broadcast story about another key industry — retail, where nearly 5 million American workers were employed as of 2014, but that has hemorrhaged jobs recently. As the New York Times reported in April, “about 89,000 American workers “in general merchandise stores have been laid off since October…That is more than all the people employed in the coal industry.”

    And sure enough, in May, the trend continued. As economist Heidi Shierholz tweeted this morning: “Retail continues slide: has lost 6,000 jobs per month on avg for the last 8 months (compared to 22,000 added per month over the prior 4 yrs)”

    What were other commentators saying?

    An economist we have often relied on, Justin Wolfers:

    Liberal economist Elise Gould:

    Conservative economists were no kinder. Republican Douglas Holtz-Eakin, whom we also relied on often over the years, posted this: “On the heels of a strong April jobs report and a month of strong readings of the high-frequency data, the labor market appeared set to take off.  No.”

    And finally, Manhattan Institute economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth had this to say:

    It is fitting that President Trump withdrew from the Paris Accord the day before the Labor Department issued its employment report for May, thereby saving the economy from future higher energy prices and additional regulation. With only 138,000 jobs created, and a decline in the labor force participation rate, the economy needs to do better.

    One last item. As we try to do every month, we calculate what we call “U7,” the most inclusive reckoning of under- and unemployment around, believing that the “headline” unemployment number that comes out every month, “U3,” considerably understates the real state of the labor market. President Trump agrees, saying in Iowa this past December: “The unemployment number, as you know, is totally fiction. If you look for a job for six months and then you give up, they consider you give up. You just give up. You go home. You say, ‘Darling, I can’t get a job.’ They consider you statistically employed. It’s not the way. But don’t worry about it because it’s going to take care of itself pretty quickly.” Trump estimated the actual unemployment rate at 42 percent.

    Well, we can’t really imagine a number more inclusive than U7, and the fact is, it  dropped to 10.63 percent in May, the lowest number since we began reporting U7 7 years ago. So 42 percent seems, well, typically off-the-cuff.

    READ MORE: Why aren’t ‘manly’ men taking ‘girly’ jobs?

    Trump is right to be concerned, of course; a 10.63 percent U7 still means roughly 17.5 million under- or unemployed Americans. But at the rate of job growth since President Trump took office, the problem is unlikely to take care of itself anytime soon.

    As for the Administration’s take, Sean Spicer dutifully did what all press secretarIes are expected to do: cast the monthly job report in the most positive light. And so he said it showed that: “Americans seeking jobs are having more success finding them than at any point in the last 16 years,” a statement that could be true, but came with no visible means of support. His full statement is here.

    The post Analysis: Today’s unemployment number fools us and President Trump, but for different reasons appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks during FBI Director James Comey's appearance before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTS14Z2C

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, seen here during a May 3 hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is one of the Democratic lawmakers and rights groups criticizing the Republican head of the Senate intelligence committee for seeking the return of copies of a report on CIA treatment of detainees after 9/11. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

    WASHINGTON — Democratic lawmakers and rights groups criticized the Republican head of the Senate intelligence committee on Friday for seeking the return of copies of a report on CIA treatment of detainees after 9/11. The critics claimed Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the committee chairman, is trying to “erase history” by making it harder for the public to ever see the classified document.

    Burr said federal courts have ruled the report is a congressional document and asked for copies held by intelligence bodies and other executive branch agencies to be returned. If the report remained in the hands of executive branch officials, it would be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Congressional materials are not.

    The CIA and the agency’s inspector general’s office, as well as the national intelligence director’s office, have returned their copies. The FBI and the State, Justice and Defense departments also have copies of the 6,770-page report.

    READ MORE: What to know about the CIA interrogation report

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a former Democratic chairman of the committee, called Burr’s move “alarming and concerning.”

    “This creates a dangerous precedent,” she said, warning that “countless historical reports and records” could be nullified under the same procedure. “No senator — chairman or not — has the authority to erase history. I believe that is the intent of the chairman.”

    The so-called “torture report” has a long history.

    The Senate intelligence committee spent years investigating the CIA’s detention and harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists captured by the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack. The techniques authorized by the Bush administration included waterboarding. Interrogations were conducted in clandestine prisons around the world that were not in the jurisdiction of U.S. courts or the military justice system.

    In December 2014, the committee published a declassified summary of the report. The full report remained classified, but it was sent to several government agencies.

    Democrats and Republicans fought bitterly over the contents.

    “This creates a dangerous precedent … No senator — chairman or not — has the authority to erase history. I believe that is the intent of the chairman.” – Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

    In 2015, Burr asked government agencies under the Obama administration to send report copies back. They didn’t. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the CIA for the entire classified report, but hasn’t received it.

    “After more than two years of litigation, the federal courts have ruled that the Senate intelligence committee’s 2014 full report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program is a congressional document,” Burr said in a statement Friday. “I have directed my staff to retrieve copies of the congressional study that remain with the executive branch agencies and, as the committee does with all classified and compartmented information, will enact the necessary measures to protect the sensitive sources and methods contained within the report.”

    There are certain copies of the report, however, that might not be returned.

    During his Senate confirmation hearing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Feinstein in a written response to questions that he would not return the Justice Department’s copy of the report to the Senate.

    Katherine Hawkins, senior counsel at the Constitution Project, an advocacy group, said another copy is included in Obama’s presidential papers, which are being handled by the National Archives. That copy is subject to the Presidential Records Act, and getting that declassified could take years and might never happen.

    Hawkins said the Defense Department’s copy also is particularly important because it provides evidence that could be used in the military commission trials of Guantanamo Bay detainees. A military commission judge this week ordered the Defense Department to preserve its copy so it could possibly be used in the trial of Majid Khan, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the detainee.

    “The Senate report details the horrors of the CIA torture program, including the rape and sexual assault of (our) client Majid Khan and the ways the agency misled Congress, the courts and the public about the program,” the center said in a statement.

    Democratic senators and rights groups were unanimous in their opposition to Burr’s move.

    The Defense Department’s copy is particularly important because it provides evidence that could be used in the military commission trials of Guantanamo Bay detainees
    .

    Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the committee, tweeted that the report “must be preserved so we can learn from past mistakes and ensure that abuses are never repeated.”

    Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the report was a historical record that belongs to all Americans.

    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a former member of the intelligence committee, said, “The report contains difficult facts to face, but they must be aired.”

    Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, said agencies shouldn’t return the CIA torture report to Congress but should read and learn from it. “This critically important investigation should have been made public and must not be buried or destroyed,” Shamsi said.

    Physicians for Human Rights called the report the most comprehensive accounting of the CIA’s torture program. “Its findings are critical to understanding how so many mistakes were made — and how to avoid making such grievous, harmful errors in the future,” Sarah Dougherty with the New York-based group said.

    The post Democrats say GOP is trying to bury torture report appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    COLLEGE PARK, MD - MAY 17: Graduates of Bowie State University put messages on their mortarboard hats during the school's graduation ceremony at the Comcast Center on the campus of the University of Maryland May 17, 2013 in College Park, Maryland. First lady Michelle Obama delivered the commencement speech for the 600 graduates of Maryland's oldest historically black university and one of the ten oldest in the country. SPhoto by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    Stumped on a graduation gift? Here are five suggestions from The Book Cellar in Chicago. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    Graduating from high school or college is a uniquely bittersweet moment (for both the graduate and the people who helped them get there).

    After college, you’re hit instantly with the sense of freedom that comes with putting classrooms behind you, and eventually, the gravity of adulthood.

    As a parent, friend, mentor or supporter, you may think: “How can I impart heartfelt wisdom or advice that’s not trite? What’s a meaningful gift that will help them navigate this new phase?”

    I attended college in Chicago, the location of my favorite bookstore, The Book Cellar. I hammered out many a paper and cover letter within their warm, comforting walls, always with a cup of their delicious coffee. The Book Cellar’s recommendations are always spot-on, so I wanted to hear what they suggest new graduates read this summer.

    The Book Cellar’s Nathen Cantu and Portia Turner gave us their five top picks for recent graduates.In their words:

    We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

    by Samantha Irby

    Samantha Irby is one of the best comedic writers. [She] needs to start showing up on everybody’s radar. Every essay in this collection feels like a piece of the rich and chaotic tapestry that is Samantha’s life, making you stop and continuously wonder, “What could be worse that?” And then being politely reminded, “Oh, this.”

    All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

    by Elan Mastri

    Campy, self-aware, and insightful, Elan Mastai’s debut novel is time travel done right as we follow a deadbeat chrononaut that somehow finds a way to mess up his world’s “perfect” timeline. This is the perfect read as a reward for all those years of required academic writing, as well as being a great reminder that “perfect” isn’t nearly as great or fun as the real world.

    The Nix by Nathan Hill

    by Nathan Hill

    Use your brand spanking new education to find the different literary influences in this amazing debut novel by Nathan Hill.  This novel has something for everyone: history, mystery, political intrigue, choose your own adventures, video games, as well as a great sense of humor. It may seem long but it reads fast because you won’t want to put it down.

    Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

    Furiously Happy

    If you’ve ever felt like being normal is overrated, it’s because it is, and Jenny Lawson is leading the charge with this sentiment.  “Furiously Happy” is a hilarious, yet deeply personal self-reflection on the quirks and qualms that emerge out of living with mental illness and depression.

    Borne by Jeff Vandermeer

    by Jeff Vandermeer

    If you haven’t gotten on the Jeff Vandermeer train yet, then I am so happy that you have the chance to experience his writing for first time.  Intelligent, aloof, and just the right amount of weird, “Borne” is the story of a little creature that is created out of a turbulent, dystopian fantasy where humans have decided to put all of their effort into biotechnological research. It’s Vandermeer’s not-so-subtle critique on the way we see and interact with nature.

    The post 5 great reads to give to new graduates appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau released 19 pages of the logs which contain 22 line-item entries where Manafort is listed as the ultimate recipient of funds totaling $12.7 million. Photo by Rick Wilking/REUTERS

    The special counsel investigating possible ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia’s government has taken over a separate criminal probe involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, seen here at the 2016 Republican National Convention, the AP reports. Photo by Rick Wilking/REUTERS.

    WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigating possible ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia’s government has taken over a separate criminal probe involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and may expand his inquiry to investigate the roles of the attorney general and deputy attorney general in the firing of FBI Director James Comey, The Associated Press has learned.

    The Justice Department’s criminal investigation into Manafort, who was forced to resign as Trump campaign chairman in August amid questions over his business dealings years ago in Ukraine, predated the 2016 election and the counterintelligence probe that in July began investigating possible collusion between Moscow and associates of Trump.

    The move to consolidate the matters, involving allegations of kleptocracy of Ukrainian government funds, indicates that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is assuming a broad mandate in his new role running the sensational investigation. The expansiveness of Mueller’s investigation was described to the AP. No one familiar with the matter has been willing to discuss the scope of his investigation on the record because it is just getting underway and because revealing details could complicate its progress.

    In an interview separately Friday with the AP, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein acknowledged that Mueller could expand his inquiry to include Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ and Rosenstein’s own roles in the decision to fire Comey, who was investigating the Trump campaign. Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller as special counsel to take over the investigation, wrote the memorandum intended to justify Trump’s decision to fire Comey. Sessions met with Trump and Rosenstein to discuss Trump’s decision to fire him despite Sessions’ pledge not to become involved in the Russia case.

    Rosenstein told the AP that if he were to become a subject of Mueller’s investigation, he would recuse himself from any oversight of Mueller. Under Justice Department rules, Mueller is required to seek permission from Rosenstein to investigate additional matters other than ones already specified in the paperwork formally appointing Mueller.

    “I’ve talked with Director Mueller about this,” Rosenstein said. “He’s going to make the appropriate decisions, and if anything that I did winds up being relevant to his investigation then, as Director Mueller and I discussed, if there’s a need from me to recuse I will.”

    Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment on the scope of the investigation.

    Mueller, who spent 12 years as FBI director and served under Republican and Democratic presidents, was appointed as special counsel following the May 9 firing of Comey, who is expected to testify for the first time next week before the Senate.

    Mueller’s assignment, detailed in a one-page order signed by Rosenstein, covers the federal investigation into possible links or coordination between Russia and associates of the Trump campaign but also “any matters that arose or may arise directly” from the probe. It would also extend to any allegations of perjury, witness intimidation or obstruction of justice uncovered during the course of the investigation.

    As Mueller’s investigation begins, members of Congress are intensely interested in its direction and scope.

    The Justice Department began looking at Manafort’s work in Ukraine around the beginning of 2014, as Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, was toppled amid protests of alleged corruption and Russian influence. Business records obtained by the AP show Manafort’s political consulting firm began working as early as 2004 for clients that variously included a political boss in Yanukovych’s party, a Ukrainian oligarch and Oleg Deripaska, a Russian businessman and longtime ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

    A special counsel, by design, is constrained by the terms of his appointment to avoid boundless and perpetually open-ended investigations. In this case, though, Mueller’s mandate appears fairly broad, said Samuel Buell, a former federal prosecutor and criminal law professor at Duke University.

    “That investigation that’s named in the appointment is already one that has, as far as we can tell, a number of tentacles and offshoots that involves conduct over a fairly lengthy period of time involving a lot of people,” Buell said.

    He said he did not expect Mueller to seek Rosenstein’s approval each time he wants to subpoena another new witness or pursue a new Russia-related investigative thread. The more difficult question would involve any allegations separate and apart from Russia, he said.

    “This gives him the authority to pull on all kinds of string and see where they lead him,” Buell said. “As long as you’re following a string that’s connected to the string of Russian influence on the election — however that may have occurred, whoever that may have involved — would seem to fall within that appointment.”

    Manafort’s work in Ukraine continued at least through the beginning of 2014, when Yanukovych’s government was ousted amid protests of widespread corruption and his rejection of a European trade deal in favor of one with Moscow. As the AP reported last year, that work included covertly directing a lobbying campaign on behalf of Ukraine’s pro-Russian Party of Regions in Washington. Following the AP’s reporting on emails in which Manafort deputy Rick Gates was overseeing the work, two lobbying firms involved in the project registered as foreign agents. Manafort has not done so, and a spokesman for him has declined to say if he will.

    ___

    Associated Press writers Chad Day and Stephen Braun contributed to this report

    The post AP report: Special counsel’s Russia investigation includes former Trump campaign chair appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Two critics give us the best shows on TV this summer.

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: There was a time when summer TV was largely confined to reruns. But that has changed dramatically in the world of streaming video.

    And, in fact, a new summer season is under way.

    Jeffrey Brown has a look.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The summer season has changed so much, that it’s now when some of the best-known shows debut new episodes.

    High on that list, the fantasy series “Game of Thrones,” which run the Emmy for best drama and is back on HBO. “Orange Is the New Black” will air new episodes on Netflix. NBC returns with its surprise comedy hit “The Carmichael Show.”

    And there are plenty of new options such as “Claws,” a Southern crime drama with a comic edge that comes to TNT, a show about the founding of the first women’s wrestling federation called “GLOW” on Netflix, and a Showtime drama about struggling comics in the 1970s called “I’m Dying Up Here.”

    Two TV critics, I hope they’re not dying where we are talking to them, from all of television. They’re going to help us sort through the season, Eric Deggans of NPR and Sonia Saraiya of “Variety.”

    Thanks, both, for joining us.

    I don’t know how you keep up with this, but help us out here.

    First of all, Eric, summer season, does it actually mean anything? Is there any rhyme or reason anymore?

    ERIC DEGGANS, National Public Radio: Well, you know, TV is a business that loves habits.

    And so, for the broadcasters especially, there is a summer season. I think it’s less so for the cable nets, and it’s even less so for the streamers like Netflix, which seem to churn out a new series just about every week.

    But there is a sense that the TV season is slowing down a little bit, and we’re seeing shows that are less than marquee shows debuting during the next few months.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, Sonia, let me start with you with one of the new ones coming — I mean, one of the old ones coming back, a successful one, is Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None.”

    Let’s take — first, let’s take a quick look at a clip.

    ALESSANDRA MASTRONARDI, Actress: This is really good.

    AZIZ ANSARI, Actor: I told you. Aren’t you glad you expanded your culinary horizons beyond Italian?

    ALESSANDRA MASTRONARDI: Yes, I am. You’re right. What else should I try when I’m in New York?

    AZIZ ANSARI: Indian food.

    ALESSANDRA MASTRONARDI: No, nobody likes curry.

    AZIZ ANSARI: Racist.

    ALESSANDRA MASTRONARDI: I said I don’t like curry food. I didn’t say I don’t like curry people.

    AZIZ ANSARI: All right, I was kidding earlier, but the phrase curry people, definitely racist.

    ALESSANDRA MASTRONARDI: I’m not racist.

    AZIZ ANSARI: You can’t say curry person. I’m not a curry person. I’m not defined by the flavors my people enjoy.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Sonia, I saw you both actually smiling watching or even listening to that.

    Sonia, tell us why you like that show.

    SONIA SARAIYA, Variety: You know, “Master of None” is — it’s such a delicate little, beautiful show. Its a half-hour, but it’s so cinematic.

    There is — actually, the second season references Italian cinema a lot. You know, it’s Aziz Ansari more or less playing himself, you know, trying to understand his life and figure out the world.

    And, you know, a big thing that motivates him, as you can sort of tell, that’s kind of a date that he is on in that clip, and, you know, figuring out his love life is a big part of it.

    But at the end of the first season, he decided he wanted to go to Italy and learn how to make pasta because that was something that he wanted to do in his life. The second season is about him broadening his horizons even more. It is like a lovely little vacation, that show.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Eric, I’m going to have you tell us about “House of Cards,” because, indeed, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are back as Frank and Claire Underwood.

    Let’s look at a little clip of that.

    ROBIN WRIGHT, Actress: Why did you ask him to leave?

    KEVIN SPACEY, Actor: Because I just wanted to look in your eyes one more time before we do this.

    ROBIN WRIGHT: Francis, we’re doing this.

    He can’t save us. He invented term limits.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Eric, they are still doing it. They are still plotting. It goes on and on.

    ERIC DEGGANS: Yes.

    And, you know, I know am so people have grown tired of “House of Cards.” And I think, if you are one of those people, you are not going to necessarily like the new season.

    But the new season does have a lot of political machinations that I think are sort of the heart of the show’s appeal. And it also really deals with the tension and the partnership between these two very singular characters, Frank Underwood by Kevin Spacey and Claire Underwood played by Robin Wright.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Let’s look ahead at some new programs that you are looking forward to.

    Sonia, start us off, start us off. What are a couple of things you really want to let us know about?

    SONIA SARAIYA: Yes, absolutely.

    Well, there is this crazy little show called “Claws” on TNT that is debuting next week, I think. And it stars Niecy Nash as a manicurist who kind of also dabbles in some mob activity, and it takes place in Manatee County in Florida.

    And just everything about it is so different. It is so different from most other stuff you would find on TV. The nails are amazing, obviously. The fashion, the style is just so much fun. And you get to see these women who are painting nails also launder money and maybe commit a few murders here and there.

    There is something a little bit silly and a little bit fun about it too. But it also really takes a look at some of the real issues that affect people in places that don’t often make it to your TV screen. So, I’m really looking forward to see how that goes too.

    ERIC DEGGANS: Well, you mentioned at the start of this segment “GLOW,” the Netflix series about the — well, the gorgeous ladies of wrestling is what I think.

    It is about the start of a female wrestling league. And it is really the start about these sort of lovable losers and their attempts to sort of find themselves while they build this very fledgling operation, which is a female-centered wrestling league in the mid-’80s.

    And it is a show that kind of sneaks up on you. And, you know, Marc Maron is great as the sort of B-movie director who decides to try and find another career by starting this wrestling league.

    And I would compare it a little more favorably to another show that you mentioned called “I’m Dying Up Here,” a Showtime series about young comics working out of a legendary comic nightclub in Los Angeles. It is fictionalized, but it also has real people in it. It is based on a book that is actually about very real comics like David Letterman and Jay Leno and how they started in Los Angeles.

    And because the show has a hard time walking that line between fictional characters that it takes liberties with and real characters, like Johnny Carson and Richard Pryor, who also show up, I think the show isn’t quite as impactful as it could be.

    But it is also a show about lovable losers trying to find themselves and make it in an industry that is really very difficult, which is Hollywood in the late 1970s, early ’80s.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, one bonus, real quick for me, if you would, some show that you love, but you don’t think has gotten enough attention, Eric?

    ERIC DEGGANS: It’s not in new episodes yet. It will come back. It is a show called “Throwing Shade” on TV Land. It is a late-night talk show with a feminist and a gay man talking about the day’s news, two points of view that are woefully underrepresented in the late-night scheme.

    I thought it was brilliant when it was on. And it should come back to new episodes relatively soon.

    JEFFREY BROWN: OK.

    Sonia?

    SONIA SARAIYA: I am going to go with “The Carmichael Show.”

    It is an NBC sitcom that is coming into its third season. It is this little show that has been running on the summer. And I feel like, every season, it comes up with even more topics and even more humor than — to tackle in this, like, fascinating way that — I just think everyone should be watching this show.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Sonia Saraiya of Variety, Eric Deggans of NPR, thank you both very much.

    The post Here are the shows you should be watching on TV this summer appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Monday marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the June 1967 Six-Day War, fought between Israel and several neighboring Arab nations.

    The swift Israeli victory was total. But no one knew at the time, and in the war’s aftermath, that many of the dividing lines struck would define relations in the region for the ensuing 50 years.

    Former NewsHour correspondent Terence Smith reported on the war then for The New York Times, and he remembers those historic days for us now.

    TERENCE SMITH, Former NewsHour Correspondent: The Six-Day War between Israel and her Arab neighbors began 50 years ago shortly after dawn on the hot, dry morning of June 5, 1967.

    In the course of six frantic days, Israel decimated the armies and air forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, and redrew the map of the Middle East. The war created a stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank that persists to this day. It is the same stand-off that confronted President Trump on his recent visit.

    I covered the battle for Jerusalem and the West Bank as an incredibly green, inexperienced correspondent for The New York Times. I had arrived in Israel just 10 days before on my first foreign assignment for the paper, and I knew nothing.

    Scrambling after the Israeli army units as they conquered the ancient Old City of Jerusalem, I followed them inside as they took control of the Western Wall, the retaining wall of the Second Temple. Suddenly, the troops were face-to-face with the holiest site in Judaism. Israelis had not been able to visit or pray at the wall since 1948. It was quite a moment.

    I covered the Israeli units as they swept through the West Bank, driving Jordan’s Arab legion from Bethlehem down to Jericho and to the banks of the Jordan River. Burned-out Jordanian tanks and armored personnel carriers littered the highway. Where the troops stopped then is the armistice line today.

    The fighting in Jerusalem and on the West Bank had been fierce, with heavy casualties, but it was largely over in 96 hours. Israelis and Palestinians alike were stunned. Suddenly, two peoples who had been separated by the so-called Green Line for 19 years confronted each other. Both sides were curious about the other.

    As soon as they could, ordinary Israelis poured into the walled Old City. Curiosity and the universal human instinct for bargains drove them into the shops in the narrow streets of the Old City. The shelves on the Jordanian side were stocked with duty-free electronics and small luxuries that were unavailable or much more expensive in high-tariff Israel.

    The bargains flew off the shelves. And not just ordinary Israelis. Teddy Kollek, the mayor of Israeli Jerusalem, and Israel’s defense minister, Moshe Dayan, both famous antiquities collectors, descended on the Arab dealers in East Jerusalem and negotiated for ancient treasures to add to their collections.

    Palestinians began to explore West Jerusalem and meet Israelis for the first time. A few had the nerve to travel to Jaffa to visit homes that they or their parents had fled in 1948.

    In the process of getting to know each other in the first weeks after the war, Palestinians discovered that Israelis were not, in fact, 10 feet-tall, and Israelis found that Palestinians were not, in fact, all cutthroats.

    It wasn’t all sweetness and light. A lot of blood had been spilled. But people on either side of the Green Line wanted to see what they could while they could. There was a shared assumption that, because the Israeli victory had been so total, that, this time, some sort of peace was inevitable.

    It was an assumption, not necessarily an aspiration, not for everyone. People on both sides expected that the cease-fire would be replaced by an agreement, Israel would give up some of the occupied territory, just as it had during the Suez crisis nine years earlier, and that, this time, finally, there would be peace. How could it not?

    No one I spoke to in those months after the war thought that the stand-off between Israel and the Palestinians would last for 50 years. Even the deeply cynical Moshe Dayan famously said he was just waiting for the phone to ring from the other side to negotiate peace.

    It wasn’t to be. By the fall of that year, the Arab states met in Khartoum and agreed on their famous three no’s: no negotiation, no recognition, no peace with Israel.

    At the same time, the first Jewish settlers had established a rump settlement on the West Bank, promising not to leave.

    I remember asking Dayan at a news conference, what was going to be done about the settlers? “If we can solve the big issues,” he told me, “the settlers will be no problem.”

    Today, there are some 400,000 Israelis settlers in the West Bank and 350,000 more in East Jerusalem. They are still promising not to leave, and constitute a major political voice on the right in Israel.

    So, the elements of a deadlock, the same deadlock that has defied a solution for 50 years, were in place before the year was out.

    The post 50 years later, a reporter recalls the 6-Day War – and the Israeli-Palestinian tensions that remain appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mark Shields and David Brooks talk to Judy Woodruff about the consequences of Trump's decision to pull out of the climate pact.

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: At the end of another week jam-packed with news from Washington, it’s time for Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Welcome, gentleman.

    So, what is there to talk about, Mark, but yesterday’s climate change decision, the president’s announcement that the United States will pull out of the Paris climate accord? What did you make of it?

    MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: In immediate impact, Judy, it probably means less in the American environment than the rules and regulations already repealed by his administration and by his EPA that were put in force, emissions controlled by President Obama.

    But, in a larger sense, it belies and reveals that president’s sense about the world. The world is a dangerous, sinister place. There’s conspiracies. Other countries are not our friends, are partners. Everything is transactional. There are no fixed values.

    We saw that, I thought most dramatically, at NATO, where the president showed an absolute absence of any historical understanding of American exceptionalism. And, as one who frankly subscribes to it that three times in the 20th century the United States saved the world from totalitarianism, twice in World Wars, once in the Cold War, and 124,965 American graves around the world in cemeteries, and 94,000 still missing.

    And I just don’t understand. The president knows that it was for values. And when NATO has made mistakes, we have made mistakes. We have been guilty of hubris. But the world is a much better place because of the United States’ leadership. And this was an example of the United States working with other nations for a common good to preserve our planet. And he just turned his back on it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What did you make of the president’s decision and his argument for why he did it?

    DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Yes, well, I sort of agree with Mark. It was nice to have an American century. We were a superpower once. And now we’re headed the way of Portugal.

    No, it was — environmentally, I can’t get super excited about it. I think it was a setback for the cause of addressing global warming. But, as we have heard many times, it was a voluntary agreement.

    And so this — and we have done a very good job, because of natural gas and fracking and other things, of reducing emissions over the last five years or so. And I presume the market will still work and the emissions will still come down.

    And so we — Donald Trump could have addressed his concerns about coal workers and stayed in the Paris accords. There is nothing block. It was totally voluntary.

    So this wasn’t about global warming. This wasn’t about the environment. This was about sticking a thumb in the eye of polite society, the elites, the globalists. This was a Steve Bannon-led thing designed to change America’s role in the world.

    And so, to me, the effect is much worse on the global diplomacy and the idea of a world order than it is, at least in the short-term, about climate change. And the effects, I think, are ruinous.

    You can’t lead the world and stick your thumb in the eye of the world. People — if you act extremely selfishly to other people, they will start acting extremely selfishly to you. And that is about to happen.

    And so as the idea that America could lead the world and should influence the world and should have friendship with other powerful nations in the world, that’s an idea that took a big hit this week.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, as we famously heard him say, yesterday, Mark, the president said, I’m here to represent the people of Pittsburgh, and not the people of Paris.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes, no, it was a nice alliterative line that didn’t have much relevance in reality, Pittsburgh having supported Hillary Clinton and basically being a green city.

    And I think it was a political statement. One can say, in defense of the president, I guess, he kept his word. He hasn’t been known as a truth-teller always. No one has confused him with George Washington on veracity. But he kept his word on the Trans-Pacific treaty, trade treaty. He kept his word on NATO and that he was going to belittle it, or at least diminish it. And he kept his word here.

    And I think that was probably the strongest argument inside.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    Yes, I’m just struck by the fact that his is an administration driven solely by resentment. He will side with the Steve Bannon side if that position will alienate the people he feels resentful for. He will side with the regular Republican side and the budgetary, the more free market side if that will offend elite opinion.

    It seems to be all based on some sense of resentment, a sense of social inferiority, a sense of fragile ego, him just wanting to stick the eye in the people he is resenting.

    And I — more than any other time — we have talked about Trump not telling the truth a lot over the last year. But that global warming speech to me set new standards of just being irrelevant to the facts.

    We devote our lives to talking about the evidence. We write these wonky columns about exciting things and this and that. And what Donald Trump said about the Paris accord is — just has no engagement with reality.

    The fact that somehow we’re bound by this, somehow that we would be under some sort of legal liability if we didn’t abide by the Paris accords, the fact that the Chinese are given permission by Paris to do this and we’re not, all that has no contact reality, and it doesn’t seem like Donald Trump knows that.

    MARK SHIELDS: He doesn’t.

    DAVID BROOKS: As a number of commentators made, it doesn’t seem like lying. It just seems like willful ignorance and disinterest.

    And we have had a lot of presidents with a lot of disagreements, but there has been an attachment to some sort of basic research, some basic contact with reality, which it seems there has just been a failure of intellectual virtue here. And because there is some underlying psychological issues which is he is working out, and whatever he needs to do that, the facts have to fit that lower reality.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes.

    I would just add to that, Judy, what compounds it is not — if you are on the other side of the argument, you are not wrong, you are not mistaken, your facts aren’t incorrect. You are evil, you are part of a conspiracy.

    And whatever one thinks, we are all, all of us, all human beings, are passengers on this little spaceship of ours with very precious supplies, vulnerable supplies of air and water and soil. And, you know, any attempt to make it rational, to make it just, to help human — make people more safe and secure and healthy is to be commended.

    And he’s all of a sudden really did regard this as selling out the United States. And to cede to China the leadership in the green industry, is an abdication. He accused Barack Obama, and so did many Republicans, of leading from the rear.

    And this is retweeting to the rear at every possible level. And I just cannot overstate the NATO — NATO brought a sustained period of peace, more sustained than any time since the French Revolution, to the continent of Europe. I mean, that is an achievement of such historical magnitude.

    And to just dismiss it. He is not even aware of it. I don’t think he understands it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: From a purely political standpoint, David, the president, one assumes he think this is a smart thing to do. I mean, is it a smart thing for him to do?

    DAVID BROOKS: I think so. Yes, I do think so.

    Environment has never driven political voters, I do not think. I can’t remember a time when environmental issues really rose to that level. And any time you can pit the economy vs. the environment, say I’m siding with the economy, politically — again, not on the merits, not what I think of it — I think it is probably a winning issue.

    Then, finally, just remember, this is an administration who is polling and whose interest is focused on about 12 states. And that’s a lot of coal country. And so if people in that part of the world, with some justice, some minor justice, see Donald Trump as their savior against the elites in Paris, then, politically — taking aside the merits, politically, I think it is probably a good move for him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you agree it’s winning politically?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, I thought Governor Jerry Brown made a case last night in his interview with you, pointed out that California has the toughest, greenest standards of the country, far more draconian by Trump’s standard, measure, than anything, environmentally.

    Two million new jobs, a gross domestic product grown 40 percent fastest than the nation, in spite of, because of the greenness. So, I think a case can be made.

    But I just think — I don’t know. I just think there is a limit to the isolation and this sort of — this defensive paranoid, whatever you call it, nationalism. It isn’t even nationalism. It is just sort of everybody, all strangers, they are all — you know, they are all bad. They wish us no well.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: An us vs. them.

    MARK SHIELDS: On every matter.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, but do you notice how what used to be substantive disagreements turn into cultural wars?

    It’s like the gun issue. It used to be the gun issue, gun control was about which kind of guns we should have floating around in our society. But then it became rural vs. urban. And the substance didn’t actually matter that much.

    And one has the sense with global warming it’s a not about substance anymore. It is about what culture — in our cultural divide, which culture are you on? And so he aligned with one culture, a rural culture, which is his base. And that is why I think, from his point of view, it solidifies that, which he needs to survive.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it seems like a long time ago, but it was just — really just really a couple of days ago, Mark, that we were hearing reports about the White House in disarray, the president planning to fire or rearrange — fire people, rearrange the staff in an attempt to get beyond the focus on the Russia investigation, everything else.

    You couple that with the Paris announcement, do you see this White House in any sense getting beyond, getting its hands around the dysfunction that appears to be gripping…

    MARK SHIELDS: I really don’t. I really don’t, Judy.

    I mean, just imagine yourself, you are Reince Priebus, you are the chief of staff, and complained to a friend, look, said he hadn’t been able to spend time with his children for the past four months. And what does he read every day in the paper? The president called him Reincy, refers to him as Reincy. He’s going to be ambassador to Greece. They are going to get him out. They’re going to replace him. Who is going to replace him?

    You can’t be thrive, you can’t be productive in that kind of an environment, where you are looking over your shoulder at who is conspiring over here and what faction? Are you Kushner or are you Bannon?

    And it just — Judy, they work long hours, they work hard, and they’re uncertain. They’re being sniped at. There is no appreciation, there’s no sense of shared mission. And the reward is when you tell the president what he wants to hear.

    It’s the antithesis of Jim Baker and Ronald Reagan, where a president was secure enough and confident enough to ask a chief of staff for advice that he didn’t want to hear, that was tough.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Does all this matter, David, quickly or inside baseball?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, it matters if we don’t have an effective administration.

    Reince Priebus has the ultimate job security right now, because nobody else wants the job, so they can’t get rid of him, because somebody has got to do it. But I do think it makes the prospect of a functional White House very remote, because you can’t get new people because they don’t want it.

    The current people are in some sort of war with each other. And every time we hear about something internal, whether it was the decision-making over global warming, or the shambolic attempt to get an FBI director, it just sounds like disorganization.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And more reports tonight about investigations with the Mueller probe.

    David Brooks, Mark Shields, thank you both.

    The post Shields and Brooks on Trump’s climate pact consequences appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: how last year’s election results shook up one West Virginia town and how the reverberations continue to sow division.

    Hari Sreenivasan has more on that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Buckhannon is a town with a population of less than 6,000. It’s a deeply conservative place with a long history tied to coal. Its mayor calls it the most Trumpian place in America.

    But Buckhannon is also where a growing group of women are finding their voice through protest and where speaking up has angered some people, including the men in their lives.

    Our Elizabeth Flock has published a deep look at these divisions and the women on the front lines.

    It sounds like a tough climate to protest Trump.

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: Absolutely.

    I think it’s very isolating for a lot of the women in the town. They are just about 70 women in a town of 6,000, and most of the town doesn’t agree with them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And so how does the town respond when they see these women picketing policies of the Trump administration?

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: Not well. They have gotten a lot of pushback from the town, from everyone from the local fraternity brothers at the nearby college, to their husbands, to their neighbors, to people at the high school.

    Some of their kids have been made fun of for the women protesting. Other women go home at night and their husbands get after them for appearing on the front page with a protest sign. So, for them, I think it’s a constant struggle to keep protesting, in light of the reaction that they are getting.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: As you point out, a lot of these women were not engaged in this way before this election.

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: Absolutely not.

    Most of them told me the only political participation they had up until this point was voting. Most of them had never held a protest sign. This was very new to them.

    I think what is interesting is, this wasn’t an organized thing. A lot of these women just decided individually that after the election they wanted to do something, they wanted to go out and protest. They went to the county — in front of the county Courthouse and held a sign, and they found that there were other women there doing the same thing.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And, as you point out, their protests are met with counterprotests. What is that like?

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: Well, the most striking example was after the announcement of the proposed travel ban, when the women did a march at the county courthouse, and a number of trucks showed up in counterprotest, mostly men, members of the local fraternity from the nearby college and other locals, and basically spewed smoke at the women as they were marching.

    They were enveloped in a huge cloud of black smoke, dropped firecrackers. It was a scary scene in which a lot of the women tried not to run or scream and give the men the reaction that they wanted.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What are the actions that these women are taking that they hope have long-term consequences?

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: So, obviously showing up in the streets with posters and sort of telling the town of Buckhannon that we are here and not everyone agrees with you. They are lobbying local representatives.

    One of the women held a town hall with the Republican — for the Republican senator, who didn’t show up. So, she held this town hall anyway to an empty chair.

    And a lot of them are traveling to meet with other — they are part of the Indivisible group. And they’re traveling to meet other Indivisible groups, which is a liberal anti-Trump grassroots organization. And so they are sort of connecting the dots with other grassroots progressive organizations that are fighting against Trump’s policies around the country.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And speaking of around the country, is this a microcosm of something that is happening elsewhere?

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: I do think this — Buckhannon is — it’s one small town where this is happening, but there are a lot of indications that there are women who are doing this across the country.

    You know, 11,000 women are considering running for office for the first time, according to EMILY’s List, after Trump’s election. Obviously, the women’s march was a huge show of interest by women in participating.

    And the Indivisible groups have been spreading across the country. I think there’s 6,000 of them now. And after the story came out, a lot of women from rural areas wrote and said that, this really resonated with me and this is what is going on in our town as well, in Pennsylvania, in Ohio, across Appalachia, and basically said we’re also protesting. It is really hard for us here. It is really isolating, because people don’t agree with us, and we’re doing it anyway.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Plenty to follow up on.

    Liz Flock, thanks for joining us.

    ELIZABETH FLOCK: Thank you.

    The post Meet the women who are taking a stand in Trump country appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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