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- 06/02/17--15:35: _Falling unemploymen...
- 06/02/17--15:40: _Is the Paris climat...
- 06/02/17--15:45: _News Wrap: Police u...
- 06/02/17--15:50: _Trump administratio...
- 06/03/17--06:17: _Pentagon chief turn...
- 06/03/17--07:44: _GOP legislative age...
- 06/03/17--08:00: _Dakota Access Pipel...
- 06/03/17--09:38: _As government-funde...
- 06/03/17--10:57: _Political shift, ho...
- 06/03/17--11:22: _360 video: This his...
- 06/03/17--11:56: _After a horrific bl...
- 06/03/17--12:35: _As Cambodia’s econo...
- 06/03/17--12:58: _Meet the writer of ...
- 06/03/17--13:10: _Haley: Trump believ...
- 06/03/17--14:20: _‘March for Truth’ p...
- 06/03/17--14:23: _Why did the White H...
- 06/03/17--14:42: _SpaceX aims for his...
- 06/03/17--15:33: _Six people killed i...
- 06/04/17--05:26: _Trump points to tra...
- 06/04/17--07:29: _Trump criticizes Lo...
- 06/03/17--06:17: Pentagon chief turns up heat on North Korea and China
- 06/03/17--07:44: GOP legislative agenda incomplete, lags as Congress returns
- 06/03/17--08:00: Dakota Access Pipeline in operation after months of resistance
- 06/03/17--10:57: Political shift, hospital’s fears hand NRA defeat in Kansas
- 06/03/17--12:35: As Cambodia’s economy grows, low-income residents left behind
- 06/03/17--12:58: Meet the writer of Marvel’s first queer Latina superhero
- 06/03/17--13:10: Haley: Trump believes ‘climate is changing’
- 06/03/17--14:23: Why did the White House consider lifting Russian sanctions?
- 06/03/17--14:42: SpaceX aims for history with latest rocket launch
- 06/03/17--15:33: Six people killed in vehicle and stabbing attacks in London
- 06/04/17--05:26: Trump points to travel ban after reports of London attacks
- 06/04/17--07:29: Trump criticizes London mayor after latest attack on city
JUDY WOODRUFF: The climate decision raises question about the economy, and so does today’s jobs report.
In it, the unemployment rate dropped to its lowest point in 16 years, causing some economists to raise the prospect of what they call full employment. But job growth seems to have slowed considerably. With the latest revisions, the economy is generating an average, we’re told, of about 120,000 net new jobs each month.
To get some insight into all of this, we’re joined from Chicago by Diane Swonk, an economist who runs her own firm.
Diane Swonk, welcome back to the program.
So, overall, what do you make of these jobs numbers for the month of May?
DIANE SWONK, Diane Swonk Economics: Well, certainly, they were a disappointment.
That said, we don’t need to generate as many jobs as we once did to keep the unemployment rate steady or even fall. Of course, the unemployment rate itself fell for the wrong reasons in the month of May. And that is that the participation rate fell yet again.
We’re seeing more people retire out of the labor force and men in particular didn’t participate as much in the month of May. That is something we like to see moving in reverse at this stage of the game.
JUDY WOODRUFF: When you say, Diane, that the country, you said we don’t need to generate as many jobs as we once did, what do you mean?
DIANE SWONK: Well, basically, the labor force isn’t growing very rapidly anymore. And even though the economy is very subdued in its growth at 2 percent, you just don’t need to create very many jobs to absorb those workers coming into the labor force and keep the unemployment rate going down.
We have actually seen job growth slow and the unemployment rate fall. And that is because we’re near what we call full employment. That sounds good in terms. What it really means in economist terms and for the Federal Reserve is nearly all of those people who are employable or are employed or who are looking for a job are now sort of either between jobs because they wanted to be between jobs or are just coming into the labor force, but it’s not a lot of extra slack in the U.S. economy.
That said, it doesn’t mean all those people who want a job in the U.S. economy or have dropped out and are not looking can actually get a job.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Diane, you were telling us earlier today that the focus on jobs obscures the need to look at raising skill levels. Talk about that.
DIANE SWONK: Exactly.
One of — there are two reasons why we saw the wage gains slow in the month of May from a year ago. It is only up at a 2.5 percent rate. This is something we like to see going in the other direction. If you are near full employment, wages should be accelerating.
One reason is because millennials are replacing older baby boomers and they’re paid less. That is not a bad reason for wage growth slowing. The other reason is that we are seeing many employers out there dip further into lower-skilled workers, but instead of paying them more, they are actually investing in training, because they don’t have the skills necessary to do the jobs they have or they are leaving job positions open.
The shortages in construction are particularly acute and manufacturing, which actually contracted. We still have over 300,000 jobs that aren’t filled just because people don’t have the right skills. So we would do much better to enhance the skills of those out there who are on the sidelines and not participating right now to bring them back in, than just give them tax cuts to cut low wages.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And very quickly, finally, Diane, we took note yesterday when President Trumped talked about the country having created, I think, he said a million jobs since the election last November. Does that reflect what’s been going on?
DIANE SWONK: It is a bit of a stretch. We have created 800,000 jobs since the beginning of the year. If you want to do it since he’s been president, it’s about 600,000 jobs. So, depending on how he wants to count, I think it is a little early for him to take credit one way or the other, and might be careful what he wants to take credit for in terms of job gains.
I think it is going to get better going forward, but the bottom line is, that is not really the way to count it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Diane Swonk joining us from Chicago, thanks very much.
DIANE SWONK: Thank you.
The post Falling unemployment, stalled growth: What the latest jobs report means for the economy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We return now to the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
We want to take a closer look at some of the claims President Trump made during his remarks in the Rose Garden yesterday.
William Brangham has that.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: As president, I can put no other consideration before the well-being of American citizens.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In his announcement yesterday, President Trump gave several reasons why he thought the Paris accord was a bad idea.
The main points the president made was that the Paris accord is unfair to the U.S., that it would hurt American workers, and that it won’t really slow the pace of dangerous climate change.
So, let’s go through some of those claims. The first thing the president said was, we will get out of Paris, but maybe we will strike a better deal.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris accord, or a really entirely new transaction, on terms that are fair to the United States.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But leaders from many of the other 195 nations in the deal said there was no appetite for renegotiation. French President Emmanuel Macron summed up the view of many.
PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON, France (through interpreter): He committed an error for the interests of his country, his people and a mistake for the future of our planet. We will not renegotiate a less ambitious accord. There is no way.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: President Trump also implied that the Paris accords are binding on the United States.
But they’re not. The entire accord relies on voluntary commitments, so many argue that, if the president wanted to stay in and wanted to change the U.S.’ commitment, he’s largely free to do so.
Jason Grumet is the president of the Bipartisan Policy Center.
JASON GRUMET, President, Bipartisan Policy Center: What was unique about the Paris accord is that it was essentially a collection of 200 individual promises. Every country came forward and made a unique commitment.
And each country has the capacity to reassert it own commitments. So, I think it’s entirely reasonable for President Trump to say, I’m uncomfortable with this aspect of what the United States committed and, therefore, we’re going to take a somewhat different approach. The U.S. would obviously have much more capacity to influence the choices, views and efforts of others if we were part of that conversation.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Another one of the main complaints the president made: This will hurt U.S. jobs.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Compliance with the terms of the Paris accord and the onerous energy restrictions it has placed on the United States could cost America as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025, according to the National Economic Research Associates.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The international mining giant Peabody Energy applauded the president’s move.
“Peabody believes that this path cannot be followed without substantially impacting the U.S. economy, increasing electricity costs on families and businesses, and requiring the power sector to rely on less diverse and more intermittent energy sources.”
But others point out that study about lost jobs that the president cited was written by groups that are opposed to the Paris accords, and that they used some worst-case predictions that other economists believe are unrealistic.
Asked about this on NBC this morning, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross defended using these studies.
WILBUR ROSS, U.S. Commerce Secretary: Well, you should know what your downside is. That’s an important thing. And particularly when you’re trying to forecast events many years out into the future, it’s very, very difficult to be accurate.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Roberton Williams is an economist with Resources For the Future, a nonpartisan group that studied the Paris accord.
ROBERTON WILLIAMS, Senior Fellow, Resources For the Future: What we have modeled in terms of job effects is that it’s much more of a job shift than it is job loss or net job gain, that jobs go away in coal, and you get more jobs in some green jobs, renewable energy, small effects elsewhere. But there is not a big — it is not a big drop.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The president also argued that while coal jobs in the U.S. would suffer, other nations like India and China, the other two major global carbon polluters, would have a free hand.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: China will be able to increase these emissions by a staggering number of years, 13. They can do whatever they want for 13 years. Not us.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But Jason Grumet said it wasn’t true that other countries can do whatever they want.
JASON GRUMET: The assertion that the United States fundamentally disabled our economy, while other countries move forward with absolutely no concern is just not accurate.
I think that the U.S. made some meaningful commitments. And I think it’s perfectly reasonable for President Trump to suggest that we want to reconsider those commitments. Renegotiating the United States’ commitments is absolutely right. But it is an exaggeration to suggest that other countries were not sincere or did not make meaningful commitments.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The president also touched on an issue that is central to the Paris accord, which is: Can it achieve its stated goal of preventing the planet from warming an additional two degrees Celsius, or about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit?
Yesterday, the president said the accord will barely affect global temperatures.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Even if the Paris agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree — think of that, this much — Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100, tiny, tiny amount.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Again, there’s a question of where this data comes from, and whether the president’s statement accurately reflects the science.
The White House said the president was citing this study done by researchers at MIT. But MIT said today the president misused their research.
JOHN REILLY, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: The president really took the study out of context by pointing out this two-tenths of a degree.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: John Reilly is co-author of this MIT report.
JOHN REILLY: This was the incremental effect of Paris compared to the previous accord. Altogether, if we look at past policy, we think that’s reduced warming by a full degree Celsius. We still have more we need to do to get to the ultimate goal of two degrees, but Paris is an important step along that way.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And Roberton Williams argues that even a minor slowing of global warming can hold off some major destruction.
ROBERTON WILLIAMS: Even small changes in temperature, even small reductions below that what we get without any action, can make a big difference in how much damage there is to the world. So, even tenths of a degree can make a difference of hundreds of billions of dollars.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Yesterday, the president said the U.S. will formally withdraw from the accord. It’s a process that could take several years to complete.
The post Is the Paris climate accord unfair to the U.S.? Putting Trump’s claims in context appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: U.S. employers pulled back a bit on hiring last month, but the unemployment rate still dropped, to its lowest point in 16 years. The Labor Department’s monthly report showed a net gain of 138,000 jobs in May. And it posted a loss of one-tenth of a point in the unemployment rate to 4.3 percent. We will explore the numbers and what they mean a little later in the program.
There is word tonight that special counsel Robert Mueller’s special investigation into possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign may be growing. The Associated Press reports that Mueller is taking over an ongoing criminal investigation involving former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. The probe reportedly may also expand to look into the role of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the deputy attorney general in the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
In the Philippines, police are still trying to figure out what motivated a lone attacker who set fire to a Manila casino, resulting in the deaths of 36 people. They suffocated in the heavy smoke, their bodies not discovered until hours later. The gunman was found dead elsewhere in the complex.
STEPHEN REILLY, Chief Operating Officer, Resorts World Manila: We are still investigating and trying to ascertain why somebody will be so senseless and have such a motive. That is still to be determined.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Police say they have ruled out terror as a motive, despite the Islamic State group claiming responsibility.
A protest over security in Afghanistan’s capital turned violent today, and several demonstrators were killed. It happened in Kabul, just days after 90 people died in a huge truck bombing. More than 1,000 people marched today. Some threw rocks as they charged police. Officers fired into the air at first and also used tear gas and water cannons.
The U.N. Security Council has voted to slap more sanctions on North Korea over its continued missile testing. The U.S. and China backed the resolution today. It blacklists more than a dozen North Korean individuals and other entities, including a bank and part of the North Korean military.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is appealing for improved ties with the United States, and again denying any improper actions by his government. He spoke today at a forum with other leaders in Saint Petersburg, and said relations are at their lowest point since the Cold War.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): Therefore, I think it is necessary to stop this useless and unhelpful chatter. I want to stress it once again: It is an attempt to bring internal political squabbling in the United States to the international arena. It is an attempt to solve internal political problems using foreign policy instruments. It is harmful.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Putin also dismissed the focus on the Russian ambassador’s meetings with Trump aides as — quote — “catastrophic nonsense.” Separately, the Russian president denied that his ally President Bashar al-Assad of Syria used chemical weapons on his own people in April. He said others carried out the attack as a — quote — “provocation.”
In South Sudan, at least 15 young children have died after a botched measles vaccination campaign. It happened early last month. The World Health Organization said that untrained workers used a single syringe for all the children, and that the vaccine was stored without refrigeration for days.
Back in this country, the Trump administration has formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries. Lower courts have so far blocked the ban from taking effect. Last night, the Justice Department asked the high court to decide if it will hear the government’s appeal, and to reinstate the ban in the meantime.
The former president of Penn State University will serve time behind bars for his role in covering up child sexual abuse by an ex-assistant football coach. Graham Spanier will spend two months in jail, and up to 10 months under house arrest. Two other former university officials also received jail time. Jerry Sandusky is serving a prison sentence of 30 to 60 years for sexually abusing 10 boys.
And on Wall Street today, stocks shook off the lukewarm jobs report to again close at all-time highs. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 62 points to close at 21206. The Nasdaq rose 59 points to close at 6305, and the S&P 500 added nine. For the week, the Dow and the S&P each gained a fraction of 1 percent. The Nasdaq added about 1.5 percent.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Reaction to the president’s announcement yesterday that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement has been unusually fierce on both sides.
And, today, the White House stood firmly by his decision.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. This is slightly less controversial than yesterday, but yesterday was a big service to this country, I will tell you. Thank you very much, everybody.
JUDY WOODRUFF: That was all the president would say about his much-awaited announcement.
Earlier in the day, however, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, delivered an energetic defense.
SCOTT PRUITT, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency: We have nothing to be apologetic about as a country. We have reduced our CO2 footprint to levels of the early 1990s. And that’s been largely accomplished through innovation and technology, not government mandate.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Nevertheless, the announcement has touched off a chorus of protest both here in the U.S. and abroad.
From Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel:
CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL, Germany (through interpreter): The decision of the U.S. to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement is very regrettable, and I’m expressing myself in a very reserved way when I say that. We in Germany, in Europe and in the world are now more determined than ever to pool all our strength to face one of the challenges of humankind.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In Paris, France’s newly elected President Emmanuel Macron offered this appeal reinforced by speaking in English.
PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON, France: To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the president of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland. I call on them, come and work here with us.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Both leaders said they wouldn’t renegotiate the deal, as President Trump said he was prepared to do.
Meanwhile, in Brussels, officials from China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, met with European counterparts and reaffirmed their commitment. Support also poured in from the U.S. corporate world. More than two dozen companies, including oil giant Shell, Apple, Facebook and Morgan Stanley, had signed a letter urging Mr. Trump to stay in the pact.
Separately, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and Tesla chief Elon Musk argued the move would cost the U.S. jobs. Disney’s chief, Bob Iger, joined Musk in resigning from presidential advisory committees in protest.
Peabody Energy,one of the country’s largest coal companies, did come out in support of the president’s decision.
And Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said continued dialogue was necessary at an event moderated by NBC News anchor Megyn Kelly.
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): Rather than make noise over it, we need to create conditions for mutual work, because if countries that are big emitters, like the United States, will not take part at all, it will be impossible to negotiate and sign any kind of agreement.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Back at the White House, the EPA’s Pruitt said the president has made clear he’s willing to work with anyone on a better deal. But when pressed on whether Mr. Trump actually believes that humans play a role in climate change, Pruitt skirted the question.
SCOTT PRUITT: The discussions the president and I have had over the last several weeks have been focused on one key issue: Is Paris good or bad for this country? He determined it was bad for our country. It hurt us economically. It didn’t achieve good environmental outcomes. And he made the decision to reject the Paris deal.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, oil prices tumbled amid speculation the U.S. withdrawal would boost domestic oil production, adding to an already saturated global supply.
We will put some of the facts and claims behind climate change into context right after the news summary.
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SINGAPORE — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis turned up the heat on North Korea and its main benefactor, China, on Saturday, calling the North Koreans a “clear and present danger” and chastising the Chinese for coercive behavior in the South China Sea.
His sharp words for both countries suggest he believes China will, out of self-interest, exert leverage on North Korea to halt its nuclear and missile programs even as Washington pushes Beijing to change course in the South China Sea.
Speaking at an international security conference in Singapore, Mattis said the Trump administration is encouraged by China’s renewed commitment to working with the U.S. and others to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons. He also said he thinks China ultimately will see it as a liability rather than an asset.
China blocked tough new sanctions against North Korea that the United States pushed in the U.N. Security Council on Friday. However, the Security Council did vote unanimously to add 15 individuals and four entities linked to the North’s nuclear and missile programs to a U.N. sanctions blacklist.
In his speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue, sponsored by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Mattis sought to balance his hopeful comments on China with sharp criticism of what he called Beijing’s disregard for international law by its “indisputable militarization” of artificial islands in disputed areas of the South China Sea.
“We oppose countries militarizing artificial islands and enforcing excessive maritime claims unsupported by international law,” he said. “We cannot and will not accept unilateral, coercive changes to the status quo.”[Watch Video]
Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Republican from Texas and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told a news conference later that he believed Mattis had effectively stressed the U.S. commitment to allies in the Asia-Pacific region.
“He was very clear, very strong,” said Thornberry, who led a bipartisan congressional delegation on an Asia tour and attended Saturday’s Singapore conference.
Overall, Mattis’ speech struck a positive, hopeful tone for cooperation and peace in the Asia-Pacific region, where he and his predecessors have made it a priority to nurture and strengthen alliances and partnerships.
“While competition between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, is bound to occur, conflict is not inevitable,” he said. “Our two countries can and do cooperate for mutual benefit. We will pledge to work closely with China where we share common cause.”
He was, however, unrelentingly critical of North Korea, a politically and economically isolated nation whose leaders have long viewed the United States as a military threat, in part because of periodic U.S. military exercises with South Korea, which the North sees as preparations for attacks aimed at destroying its ruling elite.
He called North Korea an “urgent military threat.” In a question-and-answer session with his audience of national security experts from across the globe, Mattis was asked whether the U.S. might attack the North pre-emptively and without warning South Korea in advance.
“We’re working diplomatically, economically, we’re trying to exhaust all possible alternatives to avert this race for a nuclear weapon in violation of … the United Nations’ restrictions on North Korea’s activities,” he said.
“We want to stop this. We consider it urgent,” he added.
The U.S. has about 28,500 troops permanently based in South Korea, a defense treaty ally.
“North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them is not new,” Mattis said in his prepared remarks.
“But the regime has increased the pace and scope of its efforts,” he added, alluding to the North’s series of nuclear device tests in recent years and an accelerated pace of missile tests seemingly aimed at building a rocket with enough range to hit the U.S.
“While the North Korean regime has a long record of murder of diplomats, of kidnapping, killing of sailors and criminal activity, its nuclear weapons program is maturing as a threat to all,” Mattis said. “As a matter of national security, the United States regards the threat from North Korea as a clear and present danger.”
Mattis made no mention of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate change agreement.
The issue arose briefly during questions from his audience, but Mattis did not address it directly. An Australian questioner asked, in light of Trump’s abandonment of an international trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and his withdrawal from the Paris climate deal, “why should we not fret that we are present at the destruction of” a global rules-based order?
“There’s going to be fresh approaches taken” to various issues by Trump, Mattis said, while making it clear that he personally believes the U.S. needs to avoid isolationist tendencies.
“Like it or not, we’re part of the world,” he said.
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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and his GOP allies on Capitol Hill have made it through nearly half their first year in power without a single major legislative achievement. If that’s going to change, it will have to start soon, a reality that Republican lawmakers will confront when they return to the Capitol on Monday from a weeklong break.
“We just need to work harder,” said the second-ranking Republican senator, John Cornyn of Texas, in an interview on KFYO in Lubbock, Texas, over the recess.
For now, the party’s marquee agenda items remain undone, their fate uncertain. The long-promised effort to overturn former President Barack Obama’s health law hangs in limbo in the Senate after barely passing the House. A tax overhaul that’s a top Trump priority is unwritten and in dispute, despite his recent claim on Twitter that it’s ahead of schedule.
“The president keeps saying the tax bill is moving through Congress. It doesn’t exist,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said mockingly on Friday. “It doesn’t exist. There is no tax bill moving through Congress.”
Lawmakers will deal with those issues and more as Congress comes back into session, and realistically the window for action is closing fast. Seven legislative weeks are left before Congress scatters for a five-week August recess, a period when lawmakers are likely to lose momentum if they have failed to act on health care or taxes, and face GOP voters frustrated that they haven’t delivered.
Both issues are enormously difficult challenges, and the tax legislation must follow, for procedural reasons, passage of a budget, no small task on its own.[Watch Video]
On top of it all, lawmakers are way behind on the annual spending legislation needed to keep the lights on in government. They were recently informed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that they will have to raise the federal government’s borrowing limit before August, a daunting task ripe for brinkmanship.
Looming over everything is the investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign and connections with the Trump campaign. That investigation is in the hands of a special prosecutor and Congress’ intelligence committees. Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by Trump, is scheduled to testify before the Senate committee on Thursday.
“The Russia investigation takes a lot of oxygen, it takes a lot of attention,” said Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a veteran lawmaker.
Cole argued that Republicans have not gotten the credit they deserve to date for what they have accomplished: voting to overturn a series of Obama regulations, as well as reaching compromise last month on spending legislation for the remainder of the 2017 budget year that included a big increase for defense. The biggest bright spot for the party and for Trump remains Senate confirmation in early April of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, whose elevation goes far to placate conservatives frustrated with inaction on other fronts.
“I think we’ve done more than we’ve gotten credit for, but the big ones are ahead,” Cole said. “It’s certainly an ambitious agenda we’ve got, there’s no question about it, it has been all along and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Historically, Capitol Hill has been at its busiest and most productive in the early days of a new president’s administration, during the traditional honeymoon. But with his approval ratings hovering around 40 percent, Trump never got that grace period, and although his core supporters show no signs of abandoning him, he is not providing the focused leadership usually essential to helping pass major legislation.
Within Obama’s first 100 days of office he had signed a large stimulus package as well as equal pay legislation and other bills. An active Congress under President George W. Bush had made progress on campaign finance legislation and bankruptcy changes, among other issues.
In the Senate, Republicans’ slim 52-48 majority gives them little room for error on health care and taxes, issues where they are using complicated procedural rules to move ahead with simple majorities and no Democratic support. Trump’s apparent disengagement from the legislative process was evident this past week when he demanded on Twitter that the Senate “should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy.”
In fact that’s exactly how Republicans are already moving. But the trouble is within their own ranks as Senate Republicans disagree over how quickly to unwind the Medicaid expansion under Obama’s health law, as well as other elements of the GOP bill.
Addressing the health legislation, Cornyn pledged on KFYO, “We’ll get it done by the end of July at the latest.” Despite that show of optimism, there’s uncertainty aplenty over whether the Senate will be able to pass a health bill, and whether a complicated tax overhaul or even a simple set of tax cuts will advance.
For some Republicans, their sights are set on the more immediate and necessary tasks of completing the annual spending bills that are needed to avert a government shutdown when the budget year ends Sept. 30, and on raising the debt ceiling to avert a first-ever default.
“It’ll be more difficult than it should be,” said GOP Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. “Because Congress is what it is.”
The post GOP legislative agenda incomplete, lags as Congress returns appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline began shipping oil Thursday after months of protests by nearly 300 tribes created a national movement and drew international attention.
The 1,172-mile pipeline is expected to carry 520,000 tons of oil daily from North Dakota to Illinois via South Dakota and Iowa, according to Energy Transfer Partners, the company that developed the pipeline.
Protesters, led by the Standing Rock Sioux, have strongly objected to the construction of the pipeline since April 2016, saying that its route under the Missouri River poses a threat to drinking water.
The Missouri River is the primary source of water for the 10,000 members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, and millions of people, including 29 Native American tribes, live in the Missouri River Basin, an area that crosses 10 states and more than 2,500 square miles in southern Canada.
The pipeline was originally planned to operate in Bismarck, North Dakota, but that plan was eliminated after an analysis by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers showed that route would have crossed more roads, wetlands and what federal pipeline regulators call a “high consequence area,” where a spill would bring significant consequences for the local population, according to the Bismarck Tribune.
The Standing Rock Sioux stood against the project, saying the pipeline would desecrate ancestral burial grounds and that they had not been adequately consulted. Between April and December 2016, the protest grew to include hundreds of other tribes and people from around the world who came to the Standing Rock Reservation.
The $3.8 billion pipeline has already leaked three times this year, according to the Associated Press. Two leaks occurred in March: 84 gallons on March 3 and 20 gallons on March 5 in North Dakota. The last leak happened in early April spilling 84 gallons in South Dakota.
None of these were deemed as significant oil spills by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration as they were all less than 5 barrels or 210 gallons.
“This spill serves as a reminder that it is not a matter of if a pipeline spills, it’s a matter of when a pipeline spills,” Dallas Goldtooth, the Indigenous Environmental Network campaign organizer, said after the April spill.
In February, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the final easement for the pipeline’s construction, and in March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit refused to issue an emergency order to stop pipeline operations. But the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has said it will continue its fight.
“We will continue to battle the operation of this pipeline in court and remind everyone that just because the oil is flowing now doesn’t mean that it can’t be stopped,” Standing Rock Sioux Chairman, Dave Archambault II said in a statement Thursday when the pipeline began service.
The Indigenous Environmental network, a nonprofit against the pipeline, also issued its support in a statement Thursday. “The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s water supply is officially at risk with the pipeline being fully operational,” the statement said. “Many other Native and non-Native allies will continue to stand with Standing Rock and continue to organize to ensure Energy Transfer Partners is held accountable for the human rights crimes they have committed, not just against Standing Rock but the many other Native nations along its path.”
Corinne Segal contributed reporting.
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Less and less of the research presented at a prominent cancer conference is supported by the National Institutes of Health, a development that some of the country’s top scientists see as a worrisome trend.
The number of studies fully funded by the NIH at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) — the world’s largest gathering of cancer researchers — has fallen 75 percent in the past decade, from 575 papers in 2008 to 144 this year, according to the society, which meets Friday through Tuesday in Chicago.
American researchers typically dominate the meeting’s press conferences — designed to feature the most important and newsworthy research. This year, there are 14 studies led by international scientists versus 12 led by U.S.-based research teams. That’s a big shift from just five years ago, when 15 studies in the “press program” were led by Americans versus nine by international researchers.
Several of the studies on this weekend’s press program come from Europe and Canada, along with two from China.
President Donald Trump has proposed cutting the NIH budget for 2018 from $31.8 billion to $26 billion, a decline that many worry would jeopardize the fight against cancer and other diseases. Those cuts include $1 billion less for the National Cancer Institute.
On its website, the NCI notes that its purchasing power already has declined by 25 percent since 2003, because its budget — while growing — hasn’t kept up with inflation. Congress gave the NCI nearly $5.4 billion in fiscal year 2017, an increase of $174.6 million over last year. The NCI also received $300 million for the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot through the 21st Century Cures Act in December 2016.
“America may be losing its edge in medical research,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society. The brightest young scientists are having trouble finding funding for their research, leading them to look for jobs not at universities but at drug companies “or even Wall Street,” he said. “I fear we are losing a generation of young, talented biomedical scientists.”
Some see America’s leading role in science as a point of national pride.
“Do we want the U.S. to remain at the center of biomedical innovation, or do we want to cede that to China or other countries?” said Dr. Stephan Grupp, director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Frontier Program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “If you don’t push to stay in front, you don’t stay in front.”
But more than pride is at stake.
Public funding is critical, because it allows researchers to answer questions that don’t interest drug companies, said Richard Schilsky, senior vice president and chief medical officer at ASCO.
While drug companies fund studies that help them get their medications approved, they tend not to pay for studies that focus on cancer prevention, screening or quality of life, Schilsky said. The NIH also funds head-to-head comparisons of cancer drugs, which allow patients and doctors to select the most effective treatments.
“If the NIH-funded studies continue to decline, we simply won’t get the answers that patients are looking for,” Schilsky said.
While government research often addresses areas of greatest need, “industry research is geared toward marketable products,” Brawley said.
To help make up the deficit, the American Cancer Society will double its research budget to $240 million by 2021, Brawley said.
But Grupp notes that charities and the drug industry are often reluctant to cover the indirect costs of research, such as labs. Without steady, predictable support from government grants, Grupp said he wouldn’t “have a building to do my research in or a way to keep the lights on.”
This story was published by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can view the original report on its website.
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TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas lawmakers bucked the National Rifle Association by approving a measure meant to keep concealed guns out of hospitals — a testament to how much the Republican-controlled Legislature shifted to the left in last year’s elections.
The state has been a testing ground for gun-rights advocates’ favored policies, but the Legislature was able to rewrite Kansas’ 2013 concealed carry law because voters upset with Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s allies ousted two dozen conservatives and gave Democrats and GOP moderates more power.
The action also shows that even some conservatives who normally vote with the NRA paid particular attention to the concerns of the University of Kansas Health System, which sought the change.
“I’m more interested in health care and economics than I am in my NRA rating,” Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, a conservative Overland Park Republican, told his colleagues during debate.
Like other health care facilities, the University of Kansas Health System faced a July 1 deadline to make potentially expensive security upgrades or to allow concealed guns, as required under the 2013 law. That law said gun owners could bring their concealed weapons into public buildings that don’t have “adequate” security such as guards and metal detectors, but it gave universities, public hospitals and other health care facilities four years to comply.
The NRA and other gun-rights advocates pushed for a narrower bill, applying to fewer institutions and only in areas restricted to the general public, arguing that a broader restriction would prevent people from protecting themselves during a criminal attack.
“We agree that are some areas that are more sensitive and those facilities may want to keep guns out,” said NRA lobbyist Travis Couture-Lovelady, a former Kansas House member. “We were willing to provide certain flexibility within the law.”
To be sure, Democrats and some GOP moderates wanted an even broader bill with a permanent exemption for universities. But the passage of the more limited bill still breaks a long string of legislative victories for the NRA and other gun-rights advocates since Brownback took office in January 2011.
Another 2013 law forbade the use of government money to lobby on gun issues, and the following year, lawmakers stripped cities and counties of their power to regulate guns. A 2015 law ended a requirement that gun owners obtain a state permit to carry concealed.
Brownback has not said whether he’ll sign or veto the bill approved by legislators. But lawmakers on both sides acknowledged that it wouldn’t have passed at all last year.
“We wouldn’t even have had the hearing,” said Rep. Stephanie Clayton, a moderate Overland Park Republican. “The effort never would have been made.”
Legislators felt compelled to revisit concealed carry laws this year after Brownback proposed having his cash-strapped state spend $24 million over two years to upgrade security at the state’s two mental hospitals and its two hospitals for the developmentally disabled. Lawmakers balked at the expense, but most also weren’t ready to allow guns at mental institutions.
A key player was the University of Kansas Health System, which estimated one-time expenses at $5 million and annual security costs at $27 million.
Backers of the bill said the law put the system in a tough spot: Allow concealed guns and risk losing world-class staff or install airport-like security that would have patients and families waiting in like to get into the Kansas City, Kansas, hospital.
“They do their research, and none of the other hospitals that we compete with on that national stage have this same — they don’t allow guns,” said Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore, a Kansas City Democrat.
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The White Building, in the downtown of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. Built as public housing on the orders of King Norodom Sihanouk in 1963, it is a model of the so-called “New Khmer” style of modernist architecture that still dots this city. The block-long housing complex has long been home to a thriving artistic and professional community, but now it is falling apart.
Late last year, the Cambodian government announced its approval of an $80 million reconstruction of the White Building site by Arakawa, a Japanese construction company, who will build a 21-story luxury condominium on this prized location. Now, the approximately 500 families who call the White Building their home risk displacement to make room for the new project.
Over the past decade, residents of Phnom Penh have been faced with a rash of evictions and land seizures as densely packed urban communities have been forced out of their homes to make room for new development. While Cambodia’s economy is growing at an impressive 7 percent a year, giving rise to a new middle class, the poor are often at the bad end of the bargain — local housing rights activists estimate that at least 10 percent of the city’s population have been affected.
But Chea Sophara, the newly appointed Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, has said he would work to support housing rights for Phnom Penh residents and declared the White Building a major test case of his commitment to issuing ownership certificates to qualified residents. These documents should entitle families to choose between a one-time cash payment to leave the White Building for good, or to obtain a new apartment in the complex when it is finished in four years.
The families say they know their days in the old White Building are numbered, and while some are optimistic the deal will benefit them, others are not so sure. Either way, this fascinating and decades-old microcosm, a city within a city, will cease to exist within a few months.
Step inside the White Building in its final days in this 360 video project.
For more on the impact of development on Cambodia’s residents, watch the PBS NewsHour Weekend tonight. This video was produced by GlobalBeat, NYU Journalism’s international field reporting class. Tara Yarlagadda reported this story. Rebeca Corleto, Ben Dalton, Mathieu Faure, Ashley Lyles, Ayesha Shakya and Olga Slobodchikova produced the story, with field reporting support from Reach Champaradh and Kuch Naren.
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OAKLAND, Calif. — The day was dawning clear and sunny as Dan Robertson picked his way through the remnants of the inferno. The veteran firefighter was with a few of the other guys, making a final sweep to check that all the flames were out, when morbid curiosity got the better of them. He was cold and wet from water and sweat, and his knees told him it was time to go home. But he wondered, what does a warehouse look like, all burnt up from the inside out?
They walked over charcoal debris; some stuff they could recognize, like rugs and alarm clocks. Other stuff had melted into dark indecipherable shapes. The winter air smelled like that moment when you pour water on a big log-filled campfire, but with scents of burning plastic and chemicals mixed in.
What Robertson noticed most were the pianos. There were singed pianos everywhere, at least four or five in the front, near the doorway. He remembered being inside six hours earlier, at the height of the blaze, a piano blocking his path as he tried to carry a hose through the crackling flames.
By the time they had finished exploring the Ghost Ship warehouse that morning of Dec. 3, 2016, nine people had been confirmed dead; 27 more victims would be found by the end of that week in the building, which had been converted into an artists collective.
It wasn’t until Robertson was back at the firehouse, showering and changing into fresh clothes, that his experiences that night finally caught up to him. He drove his Toyota Tundra home and found his wife, Cheri, awake. She had just heard about the fire, and asked whether he was OK. He tried to speak, but nothing came out. He just started sobbing.
Many Oakland firefighters told STAT they are still struggling with the emotional fallout from that night six months ago. But few have sought mental health treatment, because of stigma within the department, combined with a limit on free counseling sessions provided by the city.
Now the Ghost Ship fire has become a catalyst for change in the Oakland Fire Department, where Robertson, a 54-year-old lieutenant and the president of the Oakland firefighters union, and other firefighters are pushing to create a peer counseling program. Firefighters in general are at high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder, which can lead to anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicide, and that has spurred firefighters in numerous cities to demand that their mental health be treated as urgently as any other injury sustained on the job.
Oakland fire officials insist that existing mental health services are sufficient but underused. Deputy Chief Mark Hoffmann pointed to the city’s “incredibly robust workers comp system,” and noted that firefighters who were at the Ghost Ship fire have been offered extra employee assistance program sessions, though few have claimed them.
Robertson disagrees. The fact that few firefighters use the current services, he said, is proof that they aren’t working. “Is it underutilized because it’s not needed, or is it underutilized because people have no faith in it?” Robertson asked.
‘That was going to sit with me’
After the fire came the search for bodies. Eight men and women who participated in the recovery efforts said it was the most difficult aspect of the whole week. One fire captain, who has been with the department for more than 20 years, said thinking about it still makes him feel like he is teetering on the edge of a breakdown. He could see 10 bodies in the ash and rubble when he arrived, and he knew from the way the building collapsed that there would be more.
The victims died of smoke inhalation, not fire, so all their features were recognizable. The firefighters could see every detail: The cellphones in their pockets flooded with missed calls. Their tattoos. Their eyelashes. “There was no question,” said another firefighter, “that was going to sit with me for a while.”
All of them spoke about that day on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to the news media.
The firefighters were quick to emphasize that the Ghost Ship fire was just one in a long series of traumatic events over the course of their careers. In a big city like Oakland, they respond to everything from stubbed toes to heart attacks, from shootings to wildfires to structure fires. When asked to think back on a call that stuck with them, all the firefighters were able to conjure up several memories in perfect detail.
There was the firefighter-paramedic who still remembers the faces of two teenage girls shot in the head execution-style on a street. Another firefighter, in the department for less than five years, described a day when they drove an alcoholic to the hospital to get detoxed; as the man left the hospital that evening to go home, he was shot in a botched robbery, and the same team was called back to the scene to pronounce him dead.
Firefighters have a metaphor for their emotional baggage: the backpack. After every traumatic event, more junk is thrown into their symbolic backpacks for them to carry around each day. Eventually it will get too heavy; it will drag them down. “My backpack’s full,” said a firefighter still in his 18-month probation period. “It’s super full.”
PTSD and other post-trauma mental health issues can be tricky to identify in first responders, said psychologist Mark Kemena, a lead clinician for the West Coast Post-trauma Retreat, because it often builds up over time. It is like having a car alarm that is triggered when even the slightest wind passes by, said Michael Palmertree, a psychologist who has worked extensively with the Oakland Police Department.
There have been many studies about rates of PTSD in veterans and police, but reliable statistics for mental trauma in firefighters are hard to find. Suzy Gulliver, director of the Warriors Research Institute, is one of the few clinicians who has done studies on firefighter mental health. Over the course of a lifetime, she said, 20 to 22 percent of firefighters in the United States will experience PTSD — the same rate as returning combat veterans.
The consequences can be tragic. According to estimates from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, firefighters are three times more likely to die of suicide than in the line of duty. And many PTSD sufferers self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Robertson said excessive drinking and substance use, including marijuana, have always been common in the fire department, particularly in young members. He himself had to go to drug rehab early in his career.
“When you do this for a little while,” said Chris Foley, a veteran fire captain helping Robertson start the peer counseling program, “you’re scarred mentally for sure.”
Firefighters wary of treatment
Firefighters like to say that the fire service is 150 years of tradition, unimpeded by progress. When Robertson was a new recruit in the early 1990s, mental health wasn’t talked about in the firehouse. Back then, veterans from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam were on the crew, men who had already experienced their fair share of trauma.
“You can’t handle it?” Robertson recalled them saying if they saw a new crew member getting emotional after a run. “Then you need to go somewhere else.”
The culture has started changing, Robertson said, but many firefighters still won’t admit that a call affected them, fearing it would be seen as weakness and make their coworkers trust them a little less. In a recent survey conducted by the NBC Bay Area investigative news team, almost 50 percent of the 700 firefighters that responded said that concerns about colleagues not trusting their judgment contributed to the stigma of seeking mental health treatment.
Only one of the eight firefighters STAT interviewed who were at the scene that night has sought regular mental health treatment. For the few who do try to seek help, options are limited and, they say, often confusing.
Firefighters in Oakland are offered the same counseling program that every Oakland city employee gets: three free therapy sessions every six months through their employee assistance program (EAP). Tom Farris, president of Claremont EAP, which runs the city’s program, said it is designed to be a bridge to longer-term care, though firefighters have to pay for additional sessions through insurance copayments or out of pocket.
Complex mental health problems like PTSD are “absolutely not” resolved within three sessions, said Farris, who is a licensed psychologist. But “that’s not really what EAPs are scoped out to handle,” he said. Farris noted that in many cities, first responders are offered six to 10 EAP sessions, not three. More benefits for public safety employees “is a good idea,” he said.
Another resource in the fire department is a Critical Incident Stress Management team that is dispatched to fire stations after big events such as the Ghost Ship fire. The team members can vary from priests to other firefighters to experienced psychologists to brand-new therapists trying to boost their resume, and firefighters are required to sit together and debrief the incident.
Reactions to CISM are mixed. While psychologists say it can be very helpful, some firefighters say the team members often can’t relate to their experiences. Robertson said many of the CISM therapists wouldn’t be able to hold their own in a burning building. “Why the hell would I open up to you?” he said.
Hoffmann, the deputy chief who has been in the fire department 37 years, acknowledged that CISM has been “poorly applied at times” and said team members hadn’t received training “in about two years,” but he believes that it is an effective behavioral health tool.
Unsatisfied with the current treatment options, Robertson, along with Foley, has made it his mission in his last two years before retirement to launch a peer counseling program. They want to follow in the steps of other departments, including Phoenix and New York City, that have been using this model for years. Several other Bay Area cities have these programs, including neighboring Berkeley.
The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) started offering peer counseling training courses last year and so far has offered 24 courses across North America. Elaine Viccora, a behavioral specialist at IAFF, said it plans to offer three to four trainings each month.
Robertson hopes to model the Oakland peer counseling program after the one in Phoenix. Brian French, a Phoenix firefighter, helped develop it in 2010 after four members of the department committed suicide within seven months.
Their model, French said, is “listen, refer, support.” Peer counselors are trained to reach out to individual station members after a critical incident and encourage them to get professional counseling if they think it is needed. French also oversees the day-to-day operations of a website called Firestrong, an online portal where fire departments around the country can list area-specific mental health resources for their members.
Robertson faces two main barriers as he tries to get the peer-counseling program off the ground: persuading the firefighters to admit when they need help, and convincing Hoffmann and other city administrators to pay for it.
It costs more than $250 for one firefighter to be trained as a peer counselor through the IAFF program, and membership to the Firestrong website is an additional $1,500 per year. So far, the union has paid for the training, and Robertson plans to push for city money in union negotiations this August.
But Hoffmann said he is worried that the peer counseling program won’t be inclusive and that the people chosen as counselors could just be winners of a popularity contest within the union. “The way they’re describing doing their program,” Hoffman said, “I can’t spend city money on that.”
‘Just doing our job’
In early April, Robertson attended an IAFF conference in Phoenix and was surprised to receive a plaque commending the Oakland firefighters on their actions the night of the Ghost Ship fire. The honor made him distinctly uncomfortable. It was weird, he said, to get a plaque “for us just doing our job.” Especially, he added, on a night when 36 people lost their lives.
Robertson frowns at any mention of leaving a legacy in the department. That’s not why he’s creating the peer counseling program, he said, though it’s hard for him to come up with the words to describe why firefighter PTSD is such an important issue for him personally.
“It’s probably because I’m all f***d up myself by it,” he said.
This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on June 2, 2017. Find the original story here.
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KIRA KAY: The reign of terror by the communist Khmer Rouge in the 1970s killed two million Cambodians. It also turned hundreds of thousands into refugees, and abolished the concept of private ownership of businesses and, most crucially, land. Sia Phearum is a Cambodian property rights activist.
SIA PHEARUM: The Khmer Rouge destroyed almost all documents, especially property records. When we transitioned from communism to democracy, refugees who came back from the camps just moved in and occupied any location they could find.
KIRA KAY: In essence, Cambodia became a nation of squatters. To attempt to address this problem, in 2001 the government wrote a land law that would give ownership to anyone who can prove they have occupied their land for five years. But it hasn’t been enough to protect people as the country now transitions into a magnet for investors.
Though still very poor, Cambodia has seen its economy grow on average more than 7 percent a year, currently the sixth fastest rate in the world. In the capital city, Phnom Penh, new high rise construction dots the skyline, offering places to live and shop for those who can afford it.
Manufacturing, particularly of textiles, is booming, supported by a cheap labor force and in the countryside, sugar, rubber, and palm oil are leading agricultural exports.
SENG LOTH: Cambodia is now a country of complete peace, political stability, and steady growth.
KIRA KAY: Seng Loth, of Cambodia’s Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, says the country’s growth is good for all Cambodians.
SENG LOTH: Living conditions improve daily, and it is estimated that Cambodia will move from a low-income country to a middle or even high income country by 2030.
KIRA KAY: But people are often in conflict with development, as the government grants large swaths of territory to companies for commercial projects. Land rights activists estimate five percent of the country’s 16 million people, and 10 percent of Phnom Penh are victims of such “land grabs.”
For example, the people living on this property who are fighting for apartments they say the commercial developer promised them when the government handed over six acres of prime downtown land. Instead of completing all the promised new housing, the developer sent in bulldozers – backed by police — to force out the remaining 384 families.
SOM SOMALY: They completely demolished my home, and I was not able to take any belongings along, I could only hold my child as I escaped. I had five sewing machines, and they were also destroyed.
KIRA KAY: A handful have stayed as squatters in a condemned building, insisting they should be protected by the land law, since they lived here more than five years.
But the developer has questioned their legitimacy, telling a local newspaper. “The number of residents increased as new people joined the protest and demanded compensation.”
The developer finally agreed to find apartments for about 10 percent of the evicted families, and arranged some small settlements for others. Activist Sia Phearum is working to help these families but the final offer for them to go is $3,000 dollars. That’s three years’ pay for the average Cambodian but a fraction of what is needed to secure a new apartment in the city. So these families remain stuck.
Many others forced off that site are here. A 90 minute drive from the city. They say the developer trucked them here against their will the day the bulldozers came.
KHIEV LAY: I was so shocked when I looked around, and I cried loudly, ‘How could I end up in this horrible place?’
KIRA KAY: Khiev Lay and her neighbors have struggled to create a livable village in what was an empty field just five years ago.
KHIEV LAY: Our community members here face food shortages and poor shelter. There are no jobs nearby. This site has no school, limited water, and electricity supplies, and many become sick and have nowhere to get medical treatment.
KIRA KAY: They’ve been issued no proper titles for their makeshift residences and fear being uprooted again.
KIM SARAN: It’s like we’re just guarding this land for the company, whenever they want it for future development, as land prices out here increase, we will be victimized by a second eviction.
KIRA KAY: Mu Sochua, a member of parliament and vice president of Cambodia’s opposition party, considers the government’s land concession policy a terrible giveaway.
MU SOCHUA, CAMBODIA NATIONAL RESCUE PARTY: In the name of economic development, the government will do everything, anything, at any cost. A company comes in, foreign companies or local companies come in and say, “I like this land. I want this land. The people are not even consulted and if they protest, they’re in jail.
KIRA KAY: She accuses the ruling party of long-time Prime Minister Hun Sen of giving land concessions to other government officials and wealthy political donors.
MU SOCHUA: Corruption is the culture in Cambodia. How can you compete? And how can you call it development. It does not benefit the poor, it does not benefit our people.
KIRA KAY: In the rural south of Cambodia, Phav Nhoeung and her neighbors are loading up for a four hour drive to Phnom Penh. They’ve made this trek from their village many times before to petition the government for help in getting back two thousand acres of land they say was unlawfully taken from them. The villagers, who began farming here in the 1980s, also had thought they were protected by the 2001 Cambodian Land Law. But in 2006, the government gave the land to a sugar company partly owned by a powerful politician.
PHAV NHOEUNG: We couldn’t grow any crops, so we’ve lost income, making us live in poverty. We used to have a lot of buffalos and cows, but many people had to sell them off.
KIRA KAY: Phav Nhoeung’s is one of 175 families from this area now demanding compensation for their lost income and land.
PHAV NHOEUNG: The government doesn’t dare to put pressure on powerful and rich individuals. A country of laws shouldn’t be like this.
KIRA KAY: In Phnom Penh, protests against the government and developers they blame for their displacement are now a weekly occurrence and arrests are frequent. One protest leader is currently serving two-and-a-half years in prison.
MU SOCHUA: People’s empowerment. Those are two words that are taboo, because the government thinks that is inciting violence. It’s inciting social disorder. But to us, it’s the perfect way to build democracy from the grassroots.
KIRA KAY: On more quiet days, land rights activists are training Cambodians to understand their rights and push for fair compensation. At this workshop organized by the urban land rights group S-T-T, community representatives briefed each other on their cases and strategies.
Chea Sophat, a retired air force colonel, has become an outspoken leader of his residential and farming community, now being overtaken by development. It lies on a prime riverfront peninsula across from downtown Phnom Penh.
CITY OF THE FUTURE VIDEO: “A brighter future awaits you here…”
KIRA KAY: With the approval of the government, a developer plans to build a megacity with luxury homes, offices, shops, and public parks. Construction workers are filling the green farmland with sand to build the foundation.
CHEA SOPHAT: I have nothing now to give my children when I get old, because they grabbed my land and they offer me just 10 percent, so it’s really unjust.
KIRA KAY: Chea Sophat says he’s one of 200 landowners told they will be given new plots of farmland elsewhere, but only one tenth of the size they currently own. Families whose houses will be destroyed were offered apartments in the new project. Chea Sophat now leads protests in front of the Cambodian Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office, demanding a fair negotiation. He says he and his neighbors are willing to part with half their land.
CHEA SOPHAT: If they want the remaining 50 percent, a real estate firm should evaluate the land and then we can negotiate based on fair market price.
KIRA KAY: Sensing this groundswell of activism, Cambodia’s Prime Minister has increased the power and efforts of the land ministry. Land Ministry official Seng Loth says the government has issued four-and-a-half million land titles to citizens to formalize their ownership…and has two-and-a half-million left to go.
SENG LOTH: The government has a very strong will to settle these disputes, to lighten the suffering of the people. And we are confident that Cambodia will, in the very near future, achieve social harmony, as land conflicts sharply drop.
KIRA KAY: The government is also now mediating some negotiations between the companies and the citizens they evicted, like those rural villagers displaced by the sugar plantation. But Seng Loth urges them to be realistic.
SENG LOTH: The villagers demand what they think they deserve while the company has offered only what it can afford. So it is necessary for the two parties to meet halfway.
KIRA KAY: On their most recent trip to the capital, the sugar plantation families were offered a settlement brokered by the ministry: $2,500 each: less than a quarter of their estimated lost income over a decade.
They were also offered new, smaller plots of land about six miles from where they live. 73 Of the 175 families took the deal, some saying they saw no better option. But the rest, like Phav Nhoeung, declined, saying the new land is too far from their homes to successfully farm.
PHAV NHOEUNG: We cannot give up and stop fighting because we rely on the land. If there is no land, there is no life.
The post As Cambodia’s economy grows, low-income residents left behind appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Author Gabby Rivera hasn’t always been a big comic book fan, but growing up in the South Bronx, she had her fair share of exposure to superheroes at home.
GABBY RIVERA: My parents were huge Marvel comic fans, and X-Men fans, and my brother too. And so through them, comics have had, like, some sort of place in my life.
IVETTE FELICIANO: So when Marvel Comics approached her about writing its newest series — “America” — her reaction was more than enthusiastic.
GABBY RIVERA: They approached me via email, and I totally screamed, and, like, ran around, like, “Oh my God, it’s Marvel.” And at first I thought it was like a scam email. Like, “Oh, like, I’m a Marvel prince and I have, like $100,000 for you,” or something like that. But it wasn’t. So they talked to me about this character, America Chavez.
IVETTE FELICIANO: “America Chavez” is a gay Latina superhero, raised by two mothers who sacrifice themselves saving her homeworld. Rivera’s storyline has Chavez attending college and learning to use her powers — which include superhuman strength and the ability to travel through time and between dimensions.
GABBY RIVERA: A Latina that can just go where she chooses is, like, pretty revolutionary, I think. She has, like, ownership of her own body and her destination, and that’s like a gift that not many of us are afforded.
IVETTE FELICIANO: As a self-described queer woman of Puerto Rican descent, Rivera sees a lot of herself in America Chavez.
IVETTE FELICIANO: We have this queer, Latina superhero character, but there’s also a queer Latina writing this story. Is there something significant about having the person producing this also represent this experience?
GABBY RIVERA: Yes, 100 percent, hands down. It’s important that, like, I inhabit the identities I do, queer, brown, like, nerd burger, you know what I mean? Like and I get to write America, and so there’s this authenticity in the voice.
IVETTE FELICIANO: Rivera says she’s been writing stories since her mother taught her to read and write as a child, and America Chavez isn’t the first queer latina character she’s written.
She’s also the author of the critically-acclaimed young adult novel, “Juliet Takes a Breath,” about a young Puerto Rican lesbian from the bronx trying to answer questions about her sexual identity, gender, and family background.
IVETTE FELICIANO: How does that sort of writing inform your writing for this project?
GABBY RIVERA: I think that irreverent nature of also young adult fiction, and the, like, absolute capacity for anything to happen in, like, the comic book world work really well together. And it’s so much fun. The voice of Juliet is fresh and curious. She’s just, like, this young, free-spirited again, like, Latina from the Bronx, right? So when I’m writing America, there is that energy in there. That, like, spirit of one-liners, and being tough, and a little irreverent and spontaneous. And so they work really well together.
IVETTE FELICIANO: For Rivera, the implications of a gay person-of-color as a superhero go beyond a single character. She hopes Americans will embrace a broader range of people in comics and pop culture.
GABBY RIVERA: Who doesn’t connect to the principles of, like, Superman or the loyalty of a group like the X-Men? And, I think, now is the time where people are even more vocally saying, “Hey, but it can go a step further, and there’s room for more stories, and there’s room for more identities.” If you can have folks that are, like, giant blue beasts and, like, you know, mutants, then there’s room for a story about a little, like, Latina lesbian punching through other dimensions, you know.
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WASHINGTON — Does he or doesn’t he? Believe in climate change, that is.
You’d think that would be an easy enough question the day after President Donald Trump announced he was pulling the U.S. out of the landmark global accord aimed at combatting global warming.
But don’t bother asking at the White House.
“I have not had an opportunity to have that discussion” with the president, responded press secretary Sean Spicer on Friday.
“You should ask him that,” offered White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt dodged the question, too.
The president also ignored it during an unrelated bill-signing.
But his U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, answered the question in a new way this weekend.
“President Trump believes the climate is changing,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” ”And he believes pollutants are part of that equation. So that is the fact.”
If so, it’s quite a reversal for Trump, who spent years publicly bashing the idea of global warming as a “hoax” and “total con job” in books, interviews and tweets. He openly challenged the scientific consensus that the climate is changing and man-made carbon emissions are largely to blame.
“Global warming is an expensive hoax!” he tweeted in 2014.[Watch Video]
But Trump has been largely silent on the issue since his election last fall. On Thursday, he made scarce mention of it in his lengthy remarks announcing America’s exit from the Paris accord. Instead, he framed his decision as based on economics.
Here’s what he’s said before:
The president’s twitter feed once was filled with references to “so-called” global warming being a “total con job” based on “faulty science and manipulated data.”
An Associated Press search of his twitter archives revealed at least 90 instances in which he has referred to “global warming” and “climate change” since 2011. In nearly every instance, he expressed skepticism or mockery.
“This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bulls— has got to stop,” he wrote in January 2014, spelling out the vulgarity.
Often the president has pointed to cold weather as evidence the climate scientists are wrong.
“It’s 46 (really cold) and snowing in New York on Memorial Day — tell the so-called “scientists” that we want global warming right now!” he wrote in May 2013 — one of several instances in which he said that warming would be welcome.
“Where the hell is global warming when you need it?” he asked in January 2015.
The same message was echoed in the president’s books.
In “Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America,” Trump made a reference to “the mistaken belief that global climate change is being caused by carbon emissions.”
“If you don’t buy that — and I don’t — then what we have is really just an expensive way of making the tree-huggers feel good about themselves,” he wrote.
CANDIDATE AND SKEPTIC
“I’m not a believer in man-made global warming,” Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in September 2015, after launching his bid for the White House. He bemoaned the fact that the U.S. was investing money and doing things “to solve a problem that I don’t think in any major fashion exists.”
“I am not a believer,” he added, “Unless somebody can prove something to me … I am not a believer and we have much bigger problems.”
By March 2016, the president appeared to allow that the climate was changing — but continued to doubt humans were to blame.
“I think there’s a change in weather. I am not a great believer in man-made climate change. I’m not a great believer,” he told The Washington Post. “There is certainly a change in weather,” he said.[Watch Video]
Then-campaign manager, Conway explained Trump’s view this way: “He believes that global warming is naturally occurring. That there are shifts naturally occurring.”
In an interview with The New York Times in November, after the election, Trump was asked repeatedly whether he intended to leave the Paris accord and appeared to have a new open-mindedness.
“I’m looking at it very closely,” Trump told the newspaper. “I have an open mind to it. We’re going to look very carefully.”
He went on to say that he thought “there is some connectivity” between human activity and the changing climate, but that, “It depends on how much.”
Asked about the comment several days later, Trump’s now-chief of staff Reince Priebus told Fox News that Trump “has his default position, which is that most of it is a bunch of bunk.”
“But he’ll have an open mind and listen to people,” he said.
Demonstrators on Saturday called for an independent investigation into the Trump administration’s alleged ties to Russia and for President Donald Trump to release his tax returns.
Organizers of the March for Truth said protests were expected in more than 100 cities. Hundreds gathered in New York City on Saturday and roughly one thousand people congregated in Washington, D.C., near the Washington Monument.
“People have to understand that this is a president who not only is trying to lead a cover-up of his own Russia ties, but he has a problem with the truth in general,” Andrea Chalupa, a March for Truth organizer, told ABC News. “So we’re here standing up for the truth.”
Supporters of President Donald Trump also gathered in Washington, D.C., on Saturday to show support for his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Several hundred people met at the White House for the “Pittsburgh Not Paris” rally, an event organized by the Fairfax County Republican Committee and the Republican Party of Virginia.
The demonstrators shouted “Pittsburgh not Paris” and “jobs, jobs, jobs” in a show of support for Trump’s decision.
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With 40 mice, 400 fruit flies and 3 tons of supplies in a refurbished cargo capsule, a SpaceX rocket embarked on another mission to the International Space Station from Florida on Saturday.
It was a fairly routine launch, despite a two-day weather delay, but also another step in a significant shift toward privatizing space exploration.
SpaceX’s signature Falcon 9 rocket left at 5:07 p.m. EDT and was the 100th launch from the same pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center that sent the Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon on Apollo 11 in 1969, as well as 82 Space Shuttle missions. But Apollo 11 was a NASA breakthrough and SpaceX is a private company founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk that is leasing the launch pad from NASA.
While it is paid to do cargo missions for NASA now, SpaceX was founded to turn commercial space travel and the colonization of Mars into reality.
About 10 minutes after the launch, Falcon 9 separated from its cargo capsule, the Dragon, which holds nearly 6,000 pounds of supplies and will dock at the orbiting space station on Monday.
The capsule was refurbished from the SpaceX’s fourth cargo trip in September of 2014. If SpaceX succeeds in this mission, it could mark the first time a private company has been able to recycle a space craft and send it back into orbit, a step toward SpaceX’s goal of reusing most or all of its capsules.
SpaceX has claimed a number of firsts since private space travel became legal in 2004. In 2010, its Dragon capsule was the first private cargo spacecraft to be launched into orbit and retrieved. Then in 2012, SpaceX was the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station – and has done so several times since.
Aboard the Falcon 9 on Saturday is a compacted version of scientist Thomas Hunt Morgan’s classic fly room, which is holding 400 fruit flies and 2,000 of their eggs to see how their cardiovascular health holds up in space. The pace of their heartbeats align closely with humans.
The capsule is also carrying 40 mice that will help researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, test a drug that stimulates bone growth to help figure out how astronauts can preserve their own bone mass on future missions, The New York Times reported. Zero gravity makes bones fragile.
SpaceX is in the process of creating Dragon 2, which will transport crews to and from the station.
The rocket was originally scheduled to leave on Thursday evening, but the prospect of lightning delayed the mission to Saturday.
A report by the University of Pennsylvania’s Public Policy Initiative laid out the implications of privatized space travel in December.
It noted that the government’s reliance on private companies such as SpaceX can fill voids from NASA’s budget cuts with cheaper alternatives. It compared the retired Space Shuttle program, which was costing about $4 billion a year and was cut to save money, to privatized resupply services, which cost about $50 million per launch.
It also emphasized prospects for exciting leaps in space exploration. But it acknowledged critics’ worries that priorities between private companies and public interest may eventually clash. And the technology is not owned by the government or shared.
“Although there are pros and cons to privatizing space exploration, current trends suggest that many of NASA’s space exploration responsibilities are being shifted towards the private sector under government contracts,” read the report. “Whether this new model will produce discoveries and innovation in-step with former government run space research is yet to be seen.”
Six people died in London Saturday night after attackers hit pedestrians with a van on London Bridge, then stabbed others in nearby Borough Market. British police called the incidents acts of terrorism, adding early Sunday that they had shot and killed three suspects and did not believe there were any other attackers.
The van was traveling at approximately 50 mph when it veered off the roadway on London Bridge, according to BBC reporter Holly Jones who was at the scene and witnessed the crash. Emergency workers rushed to attend to the injured.
“He swerved right round me and then hit about five or six people,” Jones said. “He hit about two people in front of me and then three behind.”
The BBC reported that police arrested a man who “was handcuffed and had his shirt off” after the van traveled from central London toward the south end of the River Thames.
— Latika M Bourke (@latikambourke) June 3, 2017
One witness, Will Heaven, told Sky News he saw people who had been struck and at least one of them was placed inside an ambulance.
“We saw injured people on the road, injured people on the pavement,” he said.
Following the incident on London Bridge, witnesses described stabbing attacks by three men at Borough Market nearby. Authorities said Sunday morning that at least 30 people were being treated at local hospitals.
Prime Minister Theresa May has been briefed on the incident and will hold an emergency meeting with members of the government on Sunday. President Donald Trump has also been briefed.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said it was “a deliberate and cowardly attack on innocent Londoners.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump argued in favor of his controversial travel ban as London authorities responded to reports of a string of attacks Saturday night.
One tweet read: “We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!”
At least seven died Saturday night after a van veered off the road and barreled into pedestrians on busy London Bridge. Three men fled the van with large knives and attacked people at bars and restaurants in nearby Borough Market, police and witnesses said. The attack unfolded quickly, and police said officers had shot and killed the three attackers within eight minutes.
Trump began tweeting about the incidents an hour or so after initial news reports. First, he retweeted a Drudge Report item about the attacks, then provided his own message about the travel ban.
A few minutes later Trump tweeted a message of support for Londoners: “Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U. K., we will be there – WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!”
Earlier this week, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to immediately reinstate its ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries and refugees from anywhere in the world. The administration argues that the U.S. will be safer if the policy is put in place.
Lower courts have blocked the Trump policy, citing various reasons including statements Trump made during the 2016 campaign. The legal fight pits the president’s authority over immigration against what lower courts have said is a policy that purported to be about national security but was intended to target Muslims.
Trump later called Prime Minister Theresa May to offer condolences. The White House said the president “praised the heroic response of police and other first responders and offered the full support of the United States government in investigating and bringing those responsible for these heinous acts to justice.”
The State Department issued a statement condemning them as “cowardly.”
“The United States stands ready to provide any assistance authorities in the United Kingdom may request,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
“Our hearts are with the families and loved ones of the victims. We wish a full and quick recovery to those injured in the attacks. All Americans stand in solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom,” she said.
This report was written by the Associated Press.
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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday criticized London’s mayor after he sought to reassure residents about a stepped-up police presence on city streets following the third deadly attack there in the past three months, arguing on Twitter for leaders to “stop being politically correct” and focus on “security for our people.”
The mayor’s spokesman said he was too busy to respond to Trump’s “ill-informed” tweet.
In a series of tweets late Saturday and early Sunday responding to the attack, Trump also pushed his stalled travel ban, took on gun control supporters and pledged that the United States will be there to help London and the United Kingdom.
The vehicle and knife attack killed seven people in a busy section of London late Saturday and wounded about 50 people.
Trump challenged London Mayor Sadiq Khan for saying there was “no reason to be alarmed.” Khan spoke those words in a television interview Sunday in the context of reassuring Londoners about an increased police presence they might see.
“No reason to be alarmed,” Khan said, describing a more visible presence as “one of things the police and all of us need to do to make sure we are as safe as we possibly can be.”
Trump wasn’t satisfied and responded Sunday with a trio of tweets:
“We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don’t get smart it will only get worse.”
“At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!'”
Trump ended with: “Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That’s because they used knives and a truck!”
Shortly after Sunday’s third tweet, Trump left the White House and was driven to his private golf club in Northern Virginia. Despite requests, aides provided no information on his activities during several hours at the club. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, and former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, both wearing golf attire, were seen getting out of the motorcade and leaving the White House after Trump returned.
Khan’s office dismissed the tweet, saying the mayor “is busy working with the police, emergency services and the government to coordinate the response to this horrific and cowardly terrorist attack and provide leadership and reassurance to Londoners and visitors to our city. He has more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump’s ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks urging Londoners not to be alarmed when they saw more police — including armed officers — on the streets.”
Trump’s first comment after the attack came late Saturday. He promoted a proposed travel ban on visitors from six mostly Muslim countries and refugees from around the world that has been blocked by U.S. courts.
The Trump administration last week formally asked the Supreme Court, the highest court in the U.S., to allow the ban to take effect, arguing that restricting immigration by refugees and visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen is necessary to protect U.S. national security. A date for the court to hear arguments in the case was not immediately set.
“We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” Trump tweeted Saturday after the attack.
Lower courts have blocked the proposed ban, citing various reasons, including Trump’s own public statements.
U.S. lawmakers from both political parties criticized Trump for raising the travel ban and for assailing Khan.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said he was concerned about Trump’s call for a travel ban “even though the courts have continued to turn that down.”
Warner said Trump has had more than 90 days to review the procedures for admitting people from certain countries.
“If there’s new procedures put in place, put those procedures in place. Don’t continue to call for this travel ban, which is frankly all of the leaders in the intelligence community have said would be in effect, a slap in the face to Muslim Americans and others, and in many ways, might actually incite more incidents,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican member of the Senate intelligence panel, said the ban was “too broad” but agreed with Trump that better immigration procedures are needed.
Former vice president and 2000 Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore said on CNN’s “State of the Union: “I don’t think that a major terrorist attack like this is the time to be divisive and to criticize a mayor who’s trying to organize his city’s response to this attack.”
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