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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: For more than 35 years, the so-called Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC, has united the nations of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, the goal, to put the wealthy, predominantly-Sunni nations of the Persian Gulf behind common cultural, political and military objectives.

    But, overnight, long-simmering tensions between Qatar and several of its fellow members, and other regional states, burst into full-fledged diplomatic crisis. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt, among others, broke off diplomatic contact and suspended commercial ties with the Qatari government.

    For more on these dramatic developments, I’m joined by Joyce Karam, the Washington bureau chief of Al-Hayat. It’s an international Arabic daily newspaper.

    Joyce, thank you very much for being with us.

    Why did this happen?

    JOYCE KARAM, Al-Hayat: Well, as you said, Judy, this is a very dramatic escalation.

    We have been covering tense relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and the UAE for a while, but it hasn’t ever gotten to the point where they’re not only closing embassies. They’re sealing off the border. They’re blocking airspace and maritime access to Qatar.

    Qatar, as you know, is a country smaller than the state of Connecticut. It’s completely dependent for its food supplies, for — 40 percent of its food supplies come from Saudi Arabia. So, this is dramatic, unprecedented escalation.

    It comes at a time where we are told that both the Saudis and the Emiratis have had enough. There is — almost every alignment in the region, there’s two camps today, if you want to say. There’s the pro-Islamist movement camps, where Qatar is now boxed in, and the more closer to this administration, the Saudi and the Emirati and the Egyptian camp, and this is where things are going from here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, among other things, we’re hearing that these five countries are saying Qatar is too extremist, that it’s been sponsoring terrorism. The Qataris are saying — say that’s not true.

    What’s really going on?

    JOYCE KARAM: Well, it’s, again, this different alignment in the region post-Arab Spring of 2011.

    Qatar is seen today as a host leaders from Hamas, from Taliban. Actually, just tonight, the Qatari emir will be hosting Sheik Kardari, who is well-known extremist in the region, for an iftar.

    So …

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s an Islamic …

    JOYCE KARAM: Islamic cleric.

    So, in that sense, Qatar is seen as very closed, has boxed itself in with these Islamist movements. And this has been a problem with its relations with Egypt, with Saudi Arabia and with the Emiratis. And what we’re seeing unfold is a clash, is a rift within the GCC on the direction forward, whether it’s in counterterrorism or other.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But we know that some of these countries that are accusing Qatar have themselves at times supported some of the extremist opposition forces in Syria, for example.

    So is it so clear that Qatar is doing something different from what these other countries have been doing?

    JOYCE KARAM: It’s — I think Syria is a very complicated battleground, but, if you look at Syria itself, the main group that is affiliated with al-Qaida, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, is — it’s supported by Qatar.

    It’s — the head of a group, Julani, gives interviews on Al-Jazeera. There was a Financial Times story today that Qatar might have indirectly paid a ransom of $1 billion that went to extremists on both sides in Syria.

    So, this has become problematic within the GCC. And I think they do feel bolstered after the Trump visit to do more on that front.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The countries that have — because it’s true that this has happened just a week or two after President Trump was there in Saudi Arabia.

    But — so, let’s quickly talk about — Joyce, about how this affects the region and relations with the U.S. going forward.

    JOYCE KARAM: I mean, this is a very tense time in the region.

    This is an almost Arab cold war happening within the Gulf Cooperation Council. I think the U.S. tried to distance itself today a bit. The Pentagon reiterated its defense relations with Qatar. Al Udeid Air Base continues to be active, that the counter-ISIS effort will not be impacted by this.

    As we speak also, Judy, I think the Kuwaitis are trying to mediate, to find a common ground in the coming hours. The emir of Kuwait will be heading to Saudi Arabia tomorrow. If they can achieve a breakthrough, you know, given the list of demands that Saudi and the UAE have put together, that means maybe the citizens of Qatar will not be expelled from these countries.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Unfair to ask you this question and ask for a quick answer, but is there fear this could lead to all-out war?

    JOYCE KARAM: I don’t think any side at this point is interested in a military confrontation.

    And I think Qatar, given that it’s a small country, and most of Qatar’s strategic depth is within the Gulf region, I don’t think Qatar has an alternative but to fix this with its neighbors.

    A Saudi official tells me that the only way this is — there would be an exit is if Qatar went away and, you know, forgot its old habits. So, we’re looking — they’re looking at a change of behavior from Qatar, not just demands, as it happened in 2014.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Joyce Karam, tough subject. Thank you very much, with Al-Hayat.

    JOYCE KARAM: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We appreciate it

    JOYCE KARAM: Thank you so much.

    The post What’s behind the dramatic diplomatic rift with Qatar? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Saudi Arabia and other Arab states cut off all ties with their neighboring nation of Qatar, sending the Persian Gulf region into a new crisis. They accused the tiny oil state of supporting terrorist groups and embracing Iran. U.S. military officials said the crisis will not affect the 10,000 American troops in Qatar.

    We will take a closer look right after the news summary.

    President Trump will not invoke executive privilege to try to block former FBI Director James Comey from testifying before Congress this week. A White House spokeswoman said today that Mr. Trump decided that he wants to — quote — “facilitate a swift and thorough examination of the facts.”

    It’s been reported that Comey will testify that the president pressured him to stop investigating campaign ties to the Russians.

    The president today endorsed a push to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system. He said he wants an independent organization to oversee operations and upgrade technology, separate from the Federal Aviation Administration.

    At a White House ceremony, the president said millions of U.S. travelers stand to benefit.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We’re proposing reduced wait times, increased route efficiency and far fewer delays. Our plan will get you where you need to go more quickly, more reliably, more affordably, and, yes, for the first time in a long time, on time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Democrats quickly rejected the proposal. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called it — quote — “a tired Republican plan that both sides of the aisle have rejected.”

    Tragedy today at an awning factory outside Orlando, Florida. The local sheriff says that a man who’d been fired from the plant in April shot and killed five people, and then turned the gun on himself. John Robert Neumann was armed with a handgun and a hunting knife. Investigators say that he slipped into the giant factory through a rear door.

    In Mexico, the ruling party held a slim lead today in the race to control the country’s most populous state. The PRI’s candidate for governor of Mexico state narrowly led a leftist challenger, with nearly all the votes counted in Sunday’s election. A victory could boost President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has single-digit approval numbers, and faces reelection next year.

    The U.S. Supreme Court agreed today to hear a major privacy case involving cell phone data. At issue is whether police need a warrant to access data about a phone’s location. Wireless carriers receive thousands of such requests each year. So far, lower courts have ruled for the police.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 22 points to close at 21184. The Nasdaq fell 10, and the S&P 500 slipped three.

    The post News Wrap: Trump won’t block Comey testimony appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Two attackers publicly identified, 18 victims still in critical condition, the numbers headline the day’s developments in the London Bridge attack that killed seven people Saturday night.

    Malcolm Brabant is in London, and filed this report.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Police were in action in East London again this morning, raiding an apartment complex and a tire shop, detaining more people in the wake of Saturday’s attack.

    CRESSIDA DICK, Commissioner, Metropolitan Police: We have hundreds and hundreds of officers engaged in trying to piece together whether anybody else knew about the attack or planned or supported it in any way at all.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The three attackers were shot dead Saturday night, minutes after they drove a van into people on London Bridge, and then went on a stabbing spree.

    Today, officials named two of them; 27-year-old Khuram Shazad Butt was a British citizen born in Pakistan. Rachid Redouane claimed both Libyan and Moroccan nationality. Butt was known to the authorities as an extremist. Last night the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

    Meanwhile, campaigning for Britain’s Thursday general election resumed today. Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called for conservative Prime Minister Theresa May to resign.

    May fired back.

    THERESA MAY, British Prime Minister: We have given increased powers to the police to be able to deal with terrorists, powers which Jeremy Corbyn has boasted he has always opposed.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: London Mayor Sadiq Khan, also a Labor Party figure, criticized May for downsizing police forces when she was home secretary.

    SADIQ KHAN, Mayor of London: We have had to close police stations, sell police buildings and we have lost thousands of police staff.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Khan himself drew criticism from across the Atlantic. Yesterday, the mayor told Londoners there’s no reason to be alarmed by the increased police presence in the city. President Trump then fired off a tweet that said: “At least seven dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and mayor of London says there is no reason to be alarmed.”

    There’s history here. Khan criticized candidate Trump last year for his proposed travel ban, and the candidate challenged him to an I.Q. test. The mayor didn’t respond to Sunday’s tweet, but many argued the president took him out of context.

    Mr. Trump followed up this morning, saying: “Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who had to think fast on his no reason to be alarmed statement. Mainstream media is working hard to sell it.”

    A White House spokeswoman followed up.

    SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, Deputy White House Press Secretary: There is a reason to be alarmed. We have constant attacks going on, not just there, but across the globe, and we have to start putting national security and global security at an all-time high.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Away from the politics, forensics officers carefully searched for evidence again today, but some semblance of normalcy returned. Pedestrians and cars were allowed across London Bridge.

    But around three of the city’s iconic bridges, the stepped-up security was unmistakable. On Westminster Bridge, where tourists line up to take pictures of Parliament and Big Ben, overnight, they installed steel barriers between the road and the sidewalk. There was some resistance to the move, but officials moved quickly to get the protection in place.

    At Lambeth Bridge, next to Westminster, it’s still a work in progress, as there’s only one barrier in place on the northbound side. At least one former high-ranking security official has said Islamic extremists should be placed in internment camps.

    But Maajid Nawaz, a leading anti-radicalization expert, warns against them.

    MAAJID NAWAZ, Anti-Radicalization Expert: Internment is a preposterous suggestion and, in fact, will only make the problem worse. If we recognize this is a jihadist insurgency, then we have to recognize that we have to succeed in being able to isolate the jihadist insurgents from the communities they seek to recruit.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: And moderate Muslim spokesman Mustafa Field also believes in community-based deradicalization programs.

    MUSTAFA FIELD, Faiths Forum for London: These low-level cowardly attacks that are now seeping through. There is nothing sophisticated about what they are doing. So, we need to make sure that our polities bring communities together and that we work together to confront this evil ideology.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: This evening, the city of London held a vigil to honor the people killed in the attack. This vigil which has been designed to send a message of solidarity and love from Londoners. There’ve been about 5,000 people here. There’s been a minute of silence. And the atmosphere right now seems to be fairly calm and relaxed.

    But, nevertheless, the police are on high alert, and right behind me there’s a man being frisked. For now, the threat level in Britain remains at severe. That means an attack is still highly likely.

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

    The post U.K. police make arrests in bridge attack as politicians argue over security appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An aerial view of the National Security Agency headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland. Photo by Larry Downing/Reuters

    An aerial view of the National Security Agency headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland. Photo by Larry Downing/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — A federal contractor has been arrested following the leak of a classified intelligence report that suggests Russian hackers attacked at least one U.S. voting software supplier days before last year’s presidential election.

    Shortly after the release of the report by The Intercept on Monday, the Justice Department announced it had charged government contractor, Reality Leigh Winner, in Georgia with leaking a classified report containing “Top Secret level” information to an online news organization. The report the contractor allegedly leaked is dated May 5, the same date as the document The Intercept posted online.

    The report suggests election-related hacking penetrated further into U.S. voting systems than previously known. A Kremlin spokesman denied the report.

    The classified National Security Agency report does not say whether the hacking had any effect on election results. But it says Russian military intelligence attacked a U.S. voting software company and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials at the end of October or beginning of November.

    U.S. intelligence agencies declined to comment.

    The document said Russian military intelligence “executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016 evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions, according to information that became available in April 2017.”

    Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, denied the allegations Tuesday, saying that the Kremlin did not see “any evidence to prove this information is true.” He said Moscow categorically denies “the possibility” of the Russian government being behind it.

    The hackers are believed to have then used data from that operation to create a new email account to launch a spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations, the document said. “Lastly, the actors send test emails to two non-existent accounts ostensibly associated with absentee balloting, presumably with the purpose of creating those accounts to mimic legitimate services.”

    The document did not name any state.

    READ MORE: Putin dismisses claims that Russia interfered with U.S. election

    The information in the leaked document seems to go further than the U.S. intelligence agencies’ January assessment of the hacking that occurred.

    “Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards,” the assessment said. The Department of Homeland Security “assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.”

    The Intercept contacted NSA and the national intelligence director’s office about the document and both agencies asked that it not be published. U.S. intelligence officials then asked The Intercept to redact certain sections.

    The Intercept, a digital magazine founded by journalists involved in the release of documents leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, said some material was withheld at U.S. intelligence agencies’ request because it wasn’t “clearly in the public interest.”

    The Associated Press could not confirm the authenticity of the May 5 NSA document, which The Intercept said it obtained anonymously.

    In its announcement of the arrest, the Justice Department said Winner, 25, of Augusta, Georgia, has been charged in U.S. District Court with copying classified documents and mailing them to a reporter with an unnamed news organization. Prosecutors did not say which federal agency Winner worked for, but FBI agent Justin Garrick said in an affidavit filed with the court that she had previously served in the Air Force and held a top-secret security clearance.

    READ MORE: Why did the White House consider lifting Russian sanctions?

    Winner’s attorney, Titus Thomas Nichols, declined to confirm whether she is accused of leaking the NSA report received by The Intercept. He also declined to name the federal agency for which Winner worked.

    “My client has no (criminal) history, so it’s not as if she has a pattern of having done anything like this before,” Nichols said in a phone interview Monday. “She is a very good person. All this craziness has happened all of a sudden.”

    In affidavits filed with the court, Garrick of the FBI said the government was notified of the leaked report by the news outlet that received it. He said the agency that housed the report determined only six employees had made physical copies. Winner was one of them. Garrick said investigators found Winner had exchanged email with the news outlet using her work computer.

    Garrick’s affidavit said he interviewed Winner at her home Saturday and she “admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue” and mailing it to the news outlet.

    Asked if Winner had confessed, Nichols said, “If there is a confession, the government has not shown it to me.”

    ___

    Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia.

    The post U.S. contractor arrested after leak of Russia hacking report appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo by Getty Images

    File photo by Getty Images

    Every Friday, Christine Crawford has a counseling session at a clinic at New York City’s Mount Sinai Health System as she moves ahead with plans for gender transition surgery later this year. In addition to the many medical and psychosocial issues, there are practical ones as well. So, Crawford was thrilled when a Mount Sinai representative said they would assign a lawyer to help her legally change her name to Christine.

    The lawyer filed her name-change petition with the court and helped Crawford, 56, with other steps, such as notifying her former spouse and publishing the name change in the newspaper. She gave Crawford information about what she needed to do to make the change official with organizations such as the Social Security Administration and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

    Perhaps best of all, when Crawford graduated with a master’s degree in social work last month, her diploma had her new name on it.

    “[The lawyer] was able to expedite the petition and the court date,” Crawford said. “She was a godsend.”

    As health care systems continue to shift toward becoming comprehensive medical homes for patients, health care providers are increasingly incorporating lawyers into the team of professionals who are on hand to help people at no additional charge to patients.

    Roughly 300 health care systems, children’s hospitals and federally qualified health centers have set up these programs, said Ellen Lawton, co-director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

    The pairing makes sense in many ways. Legal issues all too often can cascade into problems with bad medical outcomes. Lawyers might file for an order of protection from a violent spouse, help appeal an insurance claim denial or get involved in child custody, guardianship or power of attorney issues.

    For Care Connections at Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine in Lancaster, Pa., housing problems are a key area that requires legal expertise. The four-year-old programprovides comprehensive primary care services for people with complex health and social needs, especially patients who are frequently hospitalized, said Dr. Jeffrey Martin, managing physician for the program.

    For someone with severe asthma and other chronic medical conditions, “it’s hard to use inhalers and take 16 other medications if you’re living in the back of a car or on someone’s couch,” he said.

    When someone is fighting eviction, has problems with federal housing subsidies, suffers a utility shutoff or has poor housing conditions, Care Connections staff call on Catherine Schultz. She is a legal aid lawyer with MidPenn Legal Services, which has a contract to work on such cases for Lancaster General Hospital.

    Martin described the case of one patient, a licensed practical nurse in her mid-30s who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She lost her job because she could no longer work, and then her car was repossessed. She stopped taking her medications and couldn’t make it to her medical appointments.

    Schultz worked to get the woman a federal housing subsidy and apply for Social Security disability benefits, then appeal the administration’s denial of benefits. They’re awaiting the results of the appeal.

    In fee-for-service medicine, a hospital’s work was considered finished once patients were discharged, Lawton noted.

    But health care has shifted toward value-based care that focuses on outcomes and avoiding preventable hospital readmissions. Now, “you are accountable for patients beyond the four walls of the hospital, and you have to think creatively about how to create stability for them,” Lawton said.

    With that in mind, many health care systems are focusing on medical-legal partnerships that target patients who are high users of services.

    “Once upon a time, the attitude of the provider was, ‘It’s not my problem that you have mold in your apartment,’” said Emma Kagel, manager of medical-legal partnerships at Denver-based Centura Health System. “‘I’m just going to keep pumping you full of steroids and give you an inhaler.’” That attitude doesn’t work with value-based care, she said.

    Funding is always a problem for these programs where demand far outstrips supply. They are frequently staffed by legal aid attorneys under contract to the health care providers. Some programs use private-sector lawyers working on a pro bono basis.

    Mount Sinai, whose program is just getting off the ground, is taking a hybrid approach. In addition to a grant from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to provide child and family law services, the hospital partnered with law firms and other organizations to provide transgender and end-of-life legal services on a pro bono basis.

    Sena Kim-Reuter, president of the Mount Sinai Medical Legal Partnership, said she’s focused on identifying gaps in patients’ needs where she can offer assistance. “There’s no way to handle all of it,” she said.

    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.

    The post Hospitals now tap lawyers to fulfill patients’ legal needs appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie by Gretchen Ertl/Reuters

    File photo of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie by Gretchen Ertl/Reuters

    TRENTON, N.J. — A former Wall Street executive and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s second-in-command are the leading candidates Tuesday as voters head to the polls to begin choosing who will replace the unpopular Republican governor.

    The winners in Tuesday’s primaries will compete in the Nov. 7 general election in one of just two statewide gubernatorial contests in the country this year, along with Virginia, and the first since Republican President Donald Trump took office.

    The candidates are little known, even in New Jersey, and are competing as Trump administration developments swamp headlines, spurring the Democratic candidates to lash out at the president and wedging Republicans between an unpopular White House and a GOP governor whom most voters disapprove of.

    On the Democratic side, candidates attacked wealthy front-runner Phil Murphy over his time as an executive at Goldman Sachs, comparing him to members of Trump’s administration who also worked there and former Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, another Goldman Sachs alumnus who, like Murphy, donated to local New Jersey Democratic parties.

    “What most New Jerseyans care about are taxes, they care about reforming the pension. They care about the cost of college,” said Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University. “But what the candidates talk about is Mr. Trump and Mr. Corzine, probably not the concerns of most New Jerseyans.”

    Murphy, a Middletown resident who served as Barack Obama’s ambassador to Germany after chairing the Democratic National Committee’s finance arm, loaned his campaign more than $16 million.

    The race to take the New Jersey governor’s office back from a Republican comes as Democrats nationally weigh whether distancing themselves from Wall Street will help them counter Trump and his populist Republican allies. Murphy blurs the line between establishment and insurgent just as Democrats reckon with whether their best candidates should come from within or outside the traditional party structure.

    Murphy faces challenges from former Teaneck firefighter Bill Brennan, one-time Clinton administration Treasury official Jim Johnson, state Sen. Ray Lesniak, Assemblyman John Wisniewski and Tenafly Councilman Mark Zinna.

    The top Republican in the race is Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. She was twice elected on the ticket with the term-limited governor, but has gone to great lengths to try to highlight their differences.

    Guadagno’s rivals are Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, Nutley Commissioner Steve Rogers, Ocean County landscape business owner and actor Joseph “Rudy” Rullo and Atlantic County engineer Hirsh Singh.

    Whoever wins on Tuesday, Democrats are favored in the general election, in part because of an 800,000 voter registration advantage and because of political headwinds stemming from Christie’s and Trump’s unpopularity in New Jersey.

    Voters also will be picking between Democratic and Republican candidates in eight state Senate and 15 Assembly contests. The full 120-member Legislature is on the ballot in November. Democrats control both chambers.

    New Jersey polls are open until 8 p.m.

    The post New Jersey voters go to polls to replace Gov. Chris Christie appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by nazdravie/E+ collection via Getty Images.

    Photo by nazdravie/E+ collection via Getty Images.

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

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


    Question: You are a headhunter who does not advocate the use of resumes. You state that the best resume is no resume. (See “Skip The Resume: Triangulate to get in the door.”) Yet, companies demand resumes all the time. Can you tell us how you are able to present candidates to your clients without the use of resumes?

    Nick Corcodilos: It works like this: A client hires me to fill a certain position. I go find great people, usually between three and four. I discuss the candidate with the client, and we decide whether to proceed with an interview on the basis of information I have gathered and interpreted. If I provide a resume, it’s usually after the interview, and it serves to “fill in the blanks” about the candidate’s background. Clients pay me to select the candidates; why should they waste their time reading resumes?

    READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: How you can fix gaps in your resume

    There’s one thing I do that clients love: I discuss the client’s business with a candidate, then I transcribe the discussion and provide it to the client (with the candidate’s permission, of course). That way, the client gets to see what the candidate has to say about the business, the job and relevant issues.

    The most powerful recommendation is always a personal one: a trusted source tells an employer to meet you.

    By the way, I don’t solicit resumes while I’m searching for candidates. I base my initial candidate selections primarily on the recommendations of trusted contacts and my own interviews. I call this a preemptive reference check. Then, I might ask for a resume to fill in the blanks — for information I might not have requested in our discussions. The client trusts my judgment and interviews the candidate on my say-so. That’s what the client is paying me for.

    Almost everything happens via person-to-person discussions, not paperwork. Once you get used to this approach, you realize how inaccurate and incomplete even good resumes really are. They’re distracting.

    You might conclude that my method is very different from what you can do yourself to get in the door. In fact, it’s exactly the same. The reason the Ask The Headhunter approach seems daunting to many people is that it requires a lot of work — all the work I’ve described.

    READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: 7 steps to a new job — but first, burn your resume

    Instead of a headhunter doing the work, however, you would arrange for an insider — someone the company trusts — to appraise and introduce you without a resume. This might be an employee, a vendor or customer of the company, a friend or associate of the hiring manager, or some third party whose opinion the company respects. The most powerful recommendation is always a personal one: a trusted source tells an employer to meet you.

    Surveys and studies consistently show that most jobs are found and filled through personal contacts.

    The common response to this suggestion is that it’s impossible and that no one could actually do this. In fact, most people just don’t want to be bothered to identify and make such necessary personal contacts, perhaps because they believe the only way to get a job interview is to follow the protocols an employer’s HR department sets.

    That’s a complacent attitude about getting a job. Surveys and studies consistently show that most jobs are found and filled through personal contacts. If the automated, online, application-form, high-volume, impersonal methods aren’t working for you, I suggest you devote yourself to trying it this way. It works.

    You can be your own headhunter, and that’s how to pull it off.

    READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: Here’s how to ask someone to be your job reference

    Dear Readers: What’s your experience landing good jobs? Does personal work better than the impersonal job-application route?


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

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

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

    The post Ask the Headhunter: Can a headhunter really find you a job without your resume? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will testify before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies on Tuesday about the proposed education budget, which includes a 13.5 percent cut in spending.

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will speak about the proposed budget at 10 a.m. EST Tuesday. Watch live in the player above.

    Late last month, Devos said the Trump administration was going after “the most ambitious expansion” of school choice in American history. Neither Devos nor Trump have offered many details about how that program would work.

    PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.

    The post WATCH LIVE: Betsy DeVos testifies on the education budget appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Video by Justin Scuiletti

    Larry Kane was a 21-year-old reporter when he got a call from music manager Brian Epstein inviting him to travel with the Beatles. It was 1964, and the Fab Four were touring the United States for the first time, playing 32 shows in 26 venues in 24 cities in just 33 days.

    Kane was the only American journalist invited on the tour.

    Kane poses with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison with the cover of Ebony Magazine. Photo courtesy of Larry Kane

    Kane poses with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison with the cover of Ebony Magazine. Photo courtesy of Larry Kane

    Following their ratings-shattering performance on the Ed Sullivan Show, Kane had unprecedented access to the Beatles during what would become known as “Beatlemania.” Met with mob-like crowds, harsh critics and nosy press people, the band mates confided in Kane as they amassed an overwhelming fame.

    Politically active and socially conscious, the Beatles answered Kane’s hard-hitting questions about the Vietnam war, segregation and what it felt like to be leaders in the rock ‘n’ roll genre.

    Kane sits down with John Lennon and Paul McCartney on the airplane during the band's first American tour. Photo courtesy of Larry Kane

    Kane sits down with John Lennon and Paul McCartney on the airplane during the band’s first American tour. Photo courtesy of Larry Kane

    Kane developed a close relationship with John Lennon, who at one point tried to hire Kane to prevent him from being drafted into the Vietnam war. He recounts the friendship in his book, “Lennon, Revealed.”

    Kane interviews Beatles' Ringo Starr on the band's first American tour. Photo courtesy of Larry Kane

    Kane interviews Beatles’ guitarist/singer-songwriter John Lennon on the band’s first American tour. Photo courtesy of Larry Kane

    Kane wrote two other books on the Beatles: 2003’s “Ticket to Ride,” which profiled Kane’s time on the 1964 and 1965 tours, and 2013’s “When They Were Boys: The True Story of the Beatles’ Rise to the Top.” He also was featured in Ron Howard’s 2016 film, “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week.”

    Kane, who spent 36 years as a news anchor in Philadelphia, now resides in suburban Philadelphia. He currently authors the blog “Larry Kane’s Political Notebook.”

    The post Only U.S. reporter to tour with the Fab Four recalls the days of ‘Beatlemania’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Donald Trump's teleprompter is pictured during the president's announcement  that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    President Donald Trump’s teleprompter is pictured during the president’s announcement that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement last week prompted a swift rebuke from business leaders, mayors and governors across the country.

    The new French president, Emmanuel Macron, even offered a come-one-come-all appeal for “responsible [U.S.] citizens” disappointed with the president’s decision to find refuge in France as a “second homeland.”

    Meanwhile, EPA head Scott Pruitt defended the president’s decision, calling the Paris accord “all hat and no cattle.” The U.S. now joins only two nations — Nicaragua and Syria — that have refused to sign onto the agreement, which brings together nearly 200 countries in the world in the fight against climate change.

    When asked about his reaction to the U.S. exit, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

    Paris accord aside, here are five important stories that may have gotten buried under last week’s big news.

    1. Ohio sues drug makers for their role in the opioid epidemic

    A vial of Naloxone and syringe are pictured at a Naloxone training class on how to save lives by injecting Naloxone into people suffering opioid overdoses at the Hillview Community Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by John Sommers II/Reuters

    A vial of Naloxone and syringe are pictured at a Naloxone training class on how to save lives by injecting Naloxone into people suffering opioid overdoses at the Hillview Community Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by John Sommers II/Reuters

    Ohio is suing five drugmakers over its opioid epidemic, saying the companies misled both doctors and patients about the risks of their medications, “unleash[ing] a health care crisis that has had far-reaching financial, social, and deadly consequences in the State of Ohio.”

    The lawsuit, filed last week by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, says five major drugmakers, including Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Johnson & Johnson, “continues to spend millions of dollars on promotional activities and materials that falsely deny or trivialize the risks of opioids while overstating the benefits of using them for chronic pain.”

    “They knew all of it was wrong, and they did it anyway,” DeWine said in a news conference Wednesday.

    READ MORE: In the war on heroin, Baltimore drug programs face an uncertain future

    More than 25,000 people died of an opioid overdose in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control — more than 3,000 of them in Ohio. In the first two months of 2017, state officials tallied at least one overdose a day, NBC reported last week.

    “OxyContin accounts for less than 2 percent of the opioid analgesic prescription market nationally, “Purdue Pharma said in a statement. “But we are an industry leader in the development of abuse-deterrent technology, advocating for the use of prescription drug monitoring programs and supporting access to Naloxone — all important components for combating the opioid crisis.”

    Why it’s important

    “Deaths from prescription opioids—like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have more than quadrupled since 1999,” the CDC says. Today, more than six out of 10 overdose deaths in the U.S. are related to the drugs.

    Opioid manufacturing was an $11 billion industry in 2016, the lawsuit claims. In 2012, doctors prescribed 793 million doses of opioids to Ohioans — “enough to supply every man, woman and child in the state with 68 pills each,” it says.

    DeWine told NPR his state is home to 200,000 people addicted to opioids. It sees 10 to 12 opioid-related deaths every day, he said. While some people have also pointed to doctors’ role in prescribing these medications — and hospitals and medical associations are rethinking how to use opioids when managing pain — DeWine told NPR that drug makers “have not been responsible enough. They have not done what they should have done to turn it around and that to some extent, they continue to do it.”

    The lawsuit in Ohio — and a similar pending case filed in 2015 by the state of Mississippi — marks a new strategy in fighting the crisis: going directly after the source. At least 11 counties in West Virginia — where manufacturers flooded the market with 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills over the course of six years, according to a Charleston Gazette-Mail investigation — have taken similar action.

    It’s a strategy several states also used in the 1990s against the tobacco industry, the New York Times points out, which ultimately paid out $200 billion in settlements.

    READ MORE: Opioids as a first response to pain? Hospitals are rethinking that policy

    A decade ago, Purdue Pharma paid out more than $630 million after pleading guilty in a federal court for “making misleading claims”about its drug Oxycontin and the associated risks of addiction. But some states, like Kentucky, were unhappy with the settlement and decided to go after drugmakers on their own.

    In 2015, Kentucky settled with Purdue and another pharmaceutical company for nearly $40 million, though the manufacturers did not admit wrongdoing or liability as part of the settlement, Cleveland.com points out.

    How the pending cases play out could set a new precedent for how lawmakers can market their drugs — and what responsibility, if any, they have in how doctors and patients use them.

    2. Harvard rescinds acceptance offers for 10 incoming students over offensive memes

    A student stands in the entranceway of a building at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

    A student stands in the entranceway of a building at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

    Harvard withdrew acceptance offers for at least 10 students in its incoming freshman class after it learned the individuals shared offensive content on a private Facebook group, the university’s student newspaper reported.

    The group — once titled “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens” — targeted racial minorities and was filled with explicit images and comments from students about the Holocaust, child abuse and sexual assault, The Harvard Crimson reported. In one post, a student called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child “pinata time,” the newspaper reported.

    The Crimson said the private group was a splinter of the official “Harvard College Class of 2021” group on Facebook. For entry into the smaller, offensive group, its founders required that students post something offensive in the main freshman class group.

    A Harvard spokeswoman told several media outlets that the university does “not comment publicly on the admissions status of individual applicants.”

    Why it’s important

    Hand-wringing over free speech in the face of so-called “PC culture” is not new. But there is a certain juxtaposition here worth noting.

    Following her commencement address at Hampshire College in late May — in which she called Trump a “a racist and sexist megalomaniac” — Princeton University professor and author Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor said she was harassed into cancelling several public talks, saying she feared for her family’s safety. Taylor said she was threatened with violence and death after Fox News used her speech for a segment. Among the cancelled talks was an address at the University of California at San Diego.

    The same week, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni bemoaned the use of the word “racist” “in a frenzy of righteousness aimed at gagging speakers and strangling debate.” Bruni argued that using “racist”so wantonly impeded progress in addressing racism in this country, specifically citing the heated discussions that happen around campus racism.

    Meanwhile, Steven Thrasher wrote in The Guardian that Taylor and other women and people of color are the ones “who struggle the most finding a platform – but there is a conspicuous lack of concern about that by free speech crusaders.”

    Taylor and those who get emailed threats have a “much higher price to pay for ‘free’ speech,” he wrote.

    3. Americans are putting off paying their taxes. It’s not going well.

    People wait outside the Internal Revenue Service office in the Brooklyn borough of New York in 2015. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    People wait outside the Internal Revenue Service office in the Brooklyn borough of New York in 2015. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    One unexpected outcome of the GOP’s promise of big tax cuts: Americans are putting off paying their taxes, with the hope that tax rates will change in their favor. But that’s pushing the government even further into debt, which is why administration officials are are calling on Congress to raise the debt limit soon.

    White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said on May 24 that the issue could cause the government to run out of money soon. Not long after, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin urged the House Ways and Means Committee to raise the debt limit by August, an action that requires Congressional approval.

    This Washington Post story lays out some helpful background on what’s happening: The government has been spending more than it brings in, and to cover the difference, it borrows money by issuing debt. But at a certain point, the government will hit the debt ceiling. “The government has been bumping up against the debt ceiling since mid-March,” according to the Washington Post, “and the Treasury Department is expected to run out of emergency steps to avoid defaulting on payments in a few months.”

    This report from the Congressional Budget Office estimates that revenue is $60 to $70 billion below what the CBO forecast in January.

    Why it’s important

    The conservative House Freedom Caucus has said it opposes any increase to the debt ceiling without more cuts to the budget. In a statement released May 24, the caucus said: “We have an obligation to the American people to tackle Washington’s out of control spending and put in place measures to get our country on the right fiscal course.”

    Meanwhile, many Democrats have said they will not support a debt ceiling increase if spending cuts are attached.

    But a failure by Treasury to make payments could cause a whole slew of problems — among them, “frozen international credit markets, a spike in interest rates and a worldwide collapse in stocks,”the Washington Post reports.

    4. Why are so many journalists dying in Mexico?

    Journalists protest against the murder of the Mexican journalist Miroslava Breach, outside the Attorney General's Office (PGR) in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on March 25, 2017. Pictures of Miroslava reads "Justice." Photo by Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

    Journalists protest against the murder of the Mexican journalist Miroslava Breach, outside the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on March 25, 2017. Pictures of Miroslava reads “Justice.” Photo by Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

    Though the year is only halfway through, Mexico is now the deadliest country in the world for journalists, despite efforts by the government to crack down on violence against members of the press

    Five journalists have been killed in Mexico this year, according to an analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists. In four cases, the motive for their slayings was confirmed to be directly tied to their work.

    The latest victim was veteran reporter Javier Valdez Cárdenas, who was shot and killed by masked gunmen on May 15 near the offices of Riodoce, the publication he had co-founded in 2003. Valdez, an award-winning crime reporter and author, told CPJ weeks before his death that he was concerned for his safety, NewsHour’s Michael Rios reports.

    The current conditions in Mexico also caused the recent death, metaphorically speaking, of an entire news organization. The Juarez news outlet Norte halted production after it announced last month that the crimes against journalists have made it too dangerous to continue to publish the news.

    Why it’s important

    Crimes against journalists are not a new phenomenon in Mexico. By CPJ’s count, nearly 100 journalists have been slain in the country since the group started keeping track in 1992 – many for reasons related to their work. But the killings have been more frequent in recent years. Since 2010, roughly 50 journalists have been killed, with only a handful of cases leading to convictions.

    To address the issue, the Mexican government has implemented several programs and laws over the past few years designed to keep journalists safe and punish those who commit the crimes.

    The problem is that very few of these programs actually get results, said Artur Romeu, communication coordinator for the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders.

    “Any reforms that Mexico decides to carry out is going to be impossible if journalists continue to be killed with total impunity,” Carlos Lauria, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, told the PBS NewsHour, suggesting that the Mexican government needs to put its full political weight toward the protection of journalists.

    Read Rios’ full story here.

    5. Bob Dylan finally turns in his Nobel lecture

    American musician Bob Dylan finally delivered his required Nobel lecture, the Swedish Academy confirmed this week.

    Dylan recorded his lecture in Los Angeles on Sunday; it is now available as an audio clip. (Listen to it above.)

    Why it’s important

    Sara Danius, spokeswoman for the Swedish Academy, said in a statement that “the Dylan adventure is coming to a close,” which could be read as an understatement. When the academy awarded Dylan last year with the Nobel Prize in Literature, there was a will-he-won’t-he tension over whether the artist would acknowledge the prize or even retrieve it.

    With the lecture delivered, Dylan can now collect the money (totaling $922,000) awarded with the prize.

    Dylan’s nearly 30-minute lecture begins with Buddy Holly and ends with Homer’s “The Odyssey,” and sort of addresses the question that had several critics shifting in their seats: How could song lyrics be considered literature?

    For Dylan, the question is complicated; he spends a good part of his lecture examining how songs can, and can’t, be literature.

    I guess the true answer, my friend, is still blowin’ in the wind.

    READ MORE: 5 important stories that were overlooked in last week’s news frenzy

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now we continue our series Limitless, stories filmed and edited by middle and high school students about people in their communities living with disabilities.

    Tonight, we meet a teenager who worked through his speech impediment to become a gifted communicator and leader.

    The video was produced by the Student Reporting Lab at Communications Arts High School in San Antonio, Texas.

    WATCH MORE: Limitless: Breaking the Bounds of Disability

    The student correspondent is graduating senior Alexandria Gonzalez.

    ALEXANDRIA GONZALEZ: Trevor Acord seems to have it all. Although some students may have trouble being seen in high school, everyone knows who Trevor is.

    His peers selected him as homecoming king and watched him be crowned as Mr. Taps in his school’s (INAUDIBLE) pageant.

    He even has crowds of people, family and friends, cheering for him at his swim meets.

    When Trevor was 3 years old, he was officially diagnosed with a speech impediment, also known as stuttering.

    MARISSA MONTANO, Speech Language Pathologist: Stuttering is a communication disorder that is interrupted by disfluencies. We may sometimes see unusual facial movements or body movements that are associated with stuttering.

    According to the Stuttering Foundation, there are about three million Americans who stutter, which is about 1 percent of the general population, and it is more common in males than females.

    TREVOR ACORD, Communications Arts High School: Some of the downsides of having a stutter, though, for me is that, sometimes, it just makes it really hard to speak and to just really put yourself — and hard to just really sort of put yourself out there, because you’re afraid of what others will think.

    But, with me, I love to speak, and I just love talking with all these people. So, I guess it seems sort of ironic that someone with a stutter would be going to a communications school.

    SHELLIE MALIK, Teacher, Communications Arts High School: I think part of Trevor’s success has come because he is so comfortable with everybody here. He’s very involved in things, and so he’s used to everybody around him.

    ALEXANDRIA GONZALEZ: Trevor is a proud member of the Peer Assistance and Leadership Program, otherwise known as PALS.

    JAMES KING, PALS Coordinator, Taft High School: Watching him sprint down the track next to a special needs student really is where I think he shines. And that’s when he amazes me and all the PALS, for that matter.

    ALEXANDRIA GONZALEZ: In addition to being a leader and role model to many at his school, Trevor has also been a great asset to the Communication Arts recruiting team.

    LEANNA YOUNG, Vice Principal, Communications Arts High School: Trevor is the very, very best recruiter I have ever seen. He wins every crowd over within about 10 seconds. And he’s so sweet and so engaging that every middle school student just loves him and wants to listen to him, wants to be his friend, wants to talk to him.

    TREVOR ACORD: I would say that me going to Comm Arts was probably one of the best things, because it just forced me to go and to speak and to just really put myself out there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Oh, Trevor.

    What an inspiring series this is.

    And you can see more of these stories from young journalists across the country at studentreportinglabs.org.

    The post A student’s stutter doesn’t stop him from winning over the crowd appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: As the 2017 Tony Awards approach this Sunday, we look at one of this season’s biggest Broadway hits and the impact it’s having.

    Jeffrey Brown is back with the story from New York.

    JEFFREY BROWN: “Dear Evan Hansen” is a high school musical, but one in which the loneliness and pain of teen life is front and center, and the sense of isolation intensified in today’s social media world.

    At the famed Sardi’s Restaurant recently, star Ben Platt said audiences are clearly finding a connection.

    BEN PLATT, “Evan Hansen”: People that come to the show feel, right now, especially with sort of hyperconnectivity online and with people feeling sort of instantaneously judged all the time, I think people kind of recede into these sort of bubbles.

    The chance to sort of connect and realize that nobody’s experience of loneliness is unique and that everybody at some time or another feels sort of on the outside looking in, or feels that they can’t really fully be present, or that they aren’t sort of one of the whole, but rather on their own, is a really powerful thing right now.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The 23-year-old Platt grew up around movies and theater. His father, Marc, is a major producer of hits, including “Wicked.”

    Before this production, Ben was known for roles in the “Pitch Perfect” films and in the musical “The Book of Mormon.”

    He plays Evan Hansen as a young man so insecure, he can barely speak. It’s an acclaimed performance of teenage awkwardness and vibrant singing.

    BEN PLATT: This role is certainly the biggest challenge I have had so far in my life. And it’s a huge blessing in that way, too, because I feel like I’m using all of the proverbial tools that I have in my belt, which is all you want as an actor, is to feel like you’re really being able to show everything you have got.

    And, vocally and physically and emotionally and all of that, it requires a lot.

    JEFFREY BROWN: When a classmate commits suicide, Evan Hansen is mistakenly seen as his one friend. Evan is suddenly a subject of interest to his classmates and the other boy’s family.

    He gains a girlfriend and even a kind of instant celebrity when a speech he gives about suicide goes viral. But it’s all a misunderstanding, destined to come crashing down around him.

    Steven Levenson wrote the story.

    STEVEN LEVENSON, Playwright, “Dear Evan Hansen”: It’s very much this singular story of this person in the world that we know very well, but struggling with these things that hopefully are things that we all know and experience.

    But we never wanted it to feel like learning or didactic. We never wanted to teach the audience a lesson or to talk about technology. We just wanted to tell this story and hopefully illuminate something about the world in doing this.

    MICHAEL GREIF, Director, “Dear Evan Hansen”: Yes, and like in all the — in all great theater writing, those themes get expressed through that story. And those things become a part of Evan’s story and a part of his world.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Director Michael Greif previously staged two Pulitzer Prize-winning musicals, “Rent” and “Next to Normal,” that took on complex contemporary issues, such as drug addiction and bipolar disorder.

    You clearly feel that musicals can tell difficult stories.

    MICHAEL GREIF: Yes, certainly. I grew up seeing a lot of different kinds of musicals. And the musicals I was always particularly drawn to were — “Man of La Mancha,” I think was the first musical I ever saw. Talk about a musical with serious purpose and dark themes that are expressed, you know, musicals that really do say something real and authentic about “The Times” that they were made in.

    JEFFREY BROWN: “Dear Evan Hansen” has certainly struck a chord with audiences, and many have shared their gratitude and their own stories via e-mails and social media.

    NARRATOR: “I brought our 15-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son to the show. Their older sister, our 16-year-old daughter, died by suicide a little over a year ago. We are still devastated. But it helps us when people talk about mental illness with understanding and compassion, as you did in your show.”

    NARRATOR: “The ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ soundtrack has saved my life.”

    NARRATOR: “Last night, I found out my dear high school friend had taken his own life on Thursday afternoon. I am devastated by this loss, but grateful for having a show like ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ to turn to. I just wanted to thank you for getting me through this incredibly difficult time. #Youwillbefound.”

    JEFFREY BROWN: Ben Platt hears such stories every night.

    BEN PLATT: When I get to met — the opportunity to meet fans after the show or hear from them online or via letters, they feel really comfortable divulging really personal things and opening up about their own struggles.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Oh, really, to you?

    BEN PLATT: Certainly, with anxiety and with self-harm and with inability to connect and all sorts of things. And that’s an incredibly beautiful thing, and I want nothing more than for the show to encourage that and to be able to receive things like that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s no spoiler alert to say that the show does end on an upbeat note. This is about finding your way through pain.

    STEVEN LEVENSON: Just as a writer, just philosophically, I want to leave the audience feeling some kind of hope and some kind of — I’m not interested in grim, and I’m not interested in torture, watching things that just make you feel awful, because we have enough of that in the world.

    And Evan, I think, ultimately in the story, what was so exciting was finding that the story really wasn’t about a suicide, but more about a character saving his own life.

    JEFFREY BROWN: As for the actor playing that character, as Broadway’s hottest young star, his life will never be the same.

    So, is all this pretty heady stuff, all this?

    BEN PLATT: It’s incredibly heady. It’s been my dream since I was a really little kid to just be in the Broadway community at all, and to do musical theater as a job.

    And so now for that to be true and to be doing it in a show that’s making this big of a mark, and in a role that comes around not ever, is, like, very hard to fathom. But it’s wonderful beyond my wildest dreams.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Ben Platt, Steven Levenson, and Michael Greif all received Tony nominations, among the nine garnered by “Dear Evan Hansen,” including one for best musical.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jeffrey Brown on Broadway.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And it’s gratifying to know that show is having an effect around the country.


    Learn more about the organizations involved with “Dear Evan Hansen”

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Aid organizations, especially those working in conflict zones like Yemen, say it’s crucial that they remain politically neutral. They say it’s the only way they can safely do their jobs.

    But a recent investigation by The New York Times reveals how one company may have endangered that neutrality for many humanitarian groups.

    William Brangham has that story.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: UNICEF and the Red Cross are two of the humanitarian groups working in Yemen, where a brutal civil war has killed or injured at least 12,000 people.

    The Times today revealed that a logistics company known as Transoceanic Development wasn’t only helping those aid groups get their supplies into Yemen, but the company was also secretly helping U.S. special forces do the same. The Times reports how this dual relationship could drive suspicion that the aid groups were somehow acting as agents of the U.S. government.

    I’m joined now by Eric Schmitt. He’s one of The Times’ reporters who broke this story. And by Daryl Grisgraber. She’s a senior advocate at Refugees International, which is an aid group that operates in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. She previously worked for Amnesty International.

    Welcome to you both.

    Eric Schmitt, I would like to start with you.

    Let’s just go over some of these details again. So this logistics company, Transoceanic Development, is working to deliver and help deliver aid supplies to Yemen for these aid groups, while they’re also doing some work for U.S. special forces.

    Can you explain those two relationships a little bit?

    ERIC SCHMITT, The New York Times: Right.

    So, Transoceanic is this giant global logistics company. And its job is really to ferry materials and shipments all over the world for various customers. And a couple of its customers, as you mentioned, are the Red Cross and for UNICEF. And, in this case, they did some warehousing, they did some basic bringing materials and shipments of supplies into Yemen that would then be delivered to — through other humanitarian organizations to the needy in that strife-torn country.

    So that’s one of their jobs. And they were very open about this. And when Mr. Darden was kidnapped, his story became quite public, because …

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This is the main, the central character in your story, who was sort of organizing this organization in Yemen. He was kidnapped by some rebels there, and then was released after several years.

    ERIC SCHMITT: That’s right. Scott Darden was the country director for Transoceanic. So, he was responsible kind of at the front end for getting these shipments of aid into Yemen. So, that story is quite public.

    What’s new here is that it turned out that Transoceanic and Mr. Darden were also working on secret contracts involving shipping similar types of materials into Yemen for the military, specifically for the very specialized special operations forces, the commandos, who are operating in Yemen today.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And just for the record, there’s no evidence that the aid groups had any idea that the company they were hiring to do work for them was also doing this work for the U.S. government.

    ERIC SCHMITT: That’s right.

    Spokesmen for both UNICEF and for the Red Cross said they had no idea that Transoceanic was carrying out these kind of contracts with the military on the logistics side of things. And had they known, they may have opted for another company.

    But I must say, there aren’t a lot of companies that get into these kind of very dangerous war zone type of places. So it’s not unusual to find a company like Transoceanic dealing with multiple kinds of customers.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, Daryl Grisgraber, what is your reaction? You read this story. What was your response?

    DARYL GRISGRABER, Refugees International: Initially, we were all quite dismayed as humanitarians, because there’s meant to be a very strict separation between military assistance, political assistance, and humanitarian assistance.

    And there is quite a lively debate that goes on right now in the humanitarian world about keeping those separate and when and how is it possible to combine them.

    But the initial reaction then is, because these got combined, it’s going to look bad for humanitarians everywhere. Humanitarians tend to be a little bit under suspicion anyway, just because they’re foreigners often in a country, where we talk about the U.N. or big INGOs.

    And they operate very significantly on trust, building trust with the people they serve, as well as the governments that allow them to operate. And to know now that the humanitarian principle of neutrality in particular has potentially been compromised or even perceived to be compromised is going to affect all humanitarians.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, the concern, just to spell it out even more clearly, is that if a government or groups operating in a certain country somehow thought that you were receiving shipments from a company that was also working for a partisan group in that nation as well, that the humanitarian aid workers might come under attack.

    DARYL GRISGRABER: Oh, for sure, yes.

    Organizations could be banned from operating in a country. The humanitarian individuals could come under attack. And, in general, it’s really important to remember that this just erodes the trust that allows humanitarians to do work everywhere and get access to the people who really need them the most, because that often involves really emphasizing the fact that you are neutral and not on the side of a conflict, and so it’s OK for you to be serving people.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Eric Schmitt, in your piece you remind us that there was a more notorious incident where the CIA was operating in Pakistan, and it literally did blur these very lines that we’re talking about. Can you tell us what happened in that story?

    ERIC SCHMITT: Sure, absolutely.

    In an effort to try and determine whether Osama bin Laden was actually hiding in a walled compound in Abbottabad, in this town in Pakistan, they devised a system where they would go door-to-door in that city and do inoculations, and hoping that somebody would come to the door, they would be able to come inside, take inoculations from presumably family members, and then get some type of DNA readout on this.

    Well, this all came to light, of course, after the death of bin Laden, and it very much jeopardized not only the doctors that were involved, but it basically turned much of that community in Pakistan against polio vaccinations.

    So, it became — actually, it was very counterproductive for public health reasons in that country. And the CIA has said it won’t do that again.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Daryl Grisgraber, what do you — what is your sense of what revelations like this could do for the effort in Yemen right now?

    DARYL GRISGRABER: Well, there are very few aid groups, relatively speaking, operating in Yemen as it is because of the security situation.

    There are many U.N. agencies and INGOs, international non-governmental organizations, that had to withdraw their staff. And so compared to the need in Yemen, there are really very few groups addressing it.

    And if this breaks trust or puts humanitarian under fire in some way, it will be completely comprehensible that organizations pull their staffs out of there. But that means even less help for — what are we talking at, at this point? Potentially, 17 million people might begin starving to death in a few weeks.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Daryl Grisgraber, Eric Schmitt, thank you both very much.

    DARYL GRISGRABER: Thank you.

    ERIC SCHMITT: Thank you.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: Helping children distinguish between false information and fact-based news, it’s a distinction increasingly a problem for adults.

    And, to be clear, we’re referring to false information disguised as a legitimate news story, not reporting that people dislike for political reasons and label fake news.

    In Washington state, educators and media literacy advocates have joined together with legislators to address the problem.

    Special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza with our partner Education Week traveled there recently.

    It’s part of our weekly series Making the Grade.

    NIAMH O’CONNELL, Third Grade Teacher, Bertschi School: This was the front page of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Niamh O’Connell third grade history class at Bertschi School is analyzing old news stories, looking for evidence of bias.

    FRED CODDON, Third Grade Student, Bertschi School: People, if they don’t know how to analyze it, will just say, oh, wow, that’s true.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Fred Coddon looks at the choice of words used in a story about Japanese internment camps during World War II.

    FRED CODDON: Notice how they’re wording it Japanese, instead of Japanese-Americans?

    NIAMH O’CONNELL: What was the purpose of that? Why do they do that?

    FRED CODDON: The purpose was to say, oh, we’re not imprisoning American citizens, or, as they put it, we’re not evacuating American citizens. We’re evacuating Japanese.

    NIAMH O’CONNELL: And why do they use the word evacuate?

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Another student also notices the language.

    WILL PARSONS, Third Grade Student, Bertschi School: I saw some fake advertising for the Japanese internment camps. They said they were assembly centers.

    NIAMH O’CONNELL: So they kind of made it seem really cool, and, actually, it wasn’t?

    WILL PARSONS: Yes.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: O’Connell uses examples from the past, so these kids can become smarter about media messages in the present, even though they’re only 8 years old.

    COCO JAMES, Third Grade Student, Bertschi School: I want to learn how to like analyze it myself and have my own opinion.

    NIAMH O’CONNELL: They soak up everything around them. I think it’s important for kids to be able to control the interpretations that they hear and see every day, instead of the interpretations maybe controlling them.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Recognizing bias in news stories is one form of media literacy. Spotting when the news is entirely fabricated, like these stories, is something else entirely.

    Often, these stories are designed to look as if they come from legitimate news organizations, and are meant to be easily shared on social media, resulting in confusion over what’s real.

    During the recent election season, there have been reports of a concerted effort to spread fake news, in a bid to influence public opinion. A recent Stanford University study of almost 8,000 students showed they were easily duped online.

    Researchers found, overall, young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak.

    You have been working on media literacy for how long?

    CLAIRE BEACH, Media Literacy Now: About 40 years.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Claire Beach is a media literacy advocate and former teacher. She says just because kids are comfortable with social media doesn’t mean they’re savvy about the information they’re consuming.

    CLAIRE BEACH: When they’re using their phones, they may know how to make something work, but they don’t have the ethical piece, the emotional intelligence piece. It’s a wilderness out there for some kids.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: She’s worked with lawmakers like Democratic state Senator Marko Liias to encourage media literacy classes in grades K through 12.

    MARKO LIIAS (D), Washington State Senator: I was reading a stunning statistic that, just since 2003 to today, humanity has created more information than we created in all of human history up until 2003. So the pace of information, the pace of data, the pace of what our students are being exposed to is rising exponentially.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: How do you convince people that this is not about politics, this is about critical thinking?

    MARKO LIIAS: Both of the bills that I have passed have had bipartisan support. Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, right or left, we want people to go into the voting booth educated and prepared to make the best decision for our communities. And if people can’t discern fake information from real information, that really corrodes the basic institutions of our democracy.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: The law in Washington state encourages educators to develop policies around media literacy and to share resources.

    It also allows districts access to federal technology funding. This new law in Washington is being used as a model by about a dozen other states. Advocates want to see media literacy taught in all 50 states.

    JAMES STEYER, Founder and CEO, Common Sense Media: There’s clearly growing momentum to pass this kind of legislation.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Jim Steyer founded Common Sense, one of several organizations dedicated to media literacy.

    NARRATOR: Here are five ways to spot fake news.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: They have also worked with Harvard University to create free lesson plans and online resources.

    JAMES STEYER: The essence of media literacy is critical thinking. Every child in America needs those skills, particularly when they live in this 24/7 media and technology world, where they’re just bombarded with information. Oftentimes, it’s inaccurate.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: These students are in Catherine Sparks’ English class at Edmonds-Woodway High School.

    STUDENT: It’s crazy how many people actually trust these sources.

    STUDENT: You can’t distinguish the difference anymore.

    STUDENT: It can get 1,000 retweets. It is not even true.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Sparks uses the play “Hamlet” to talk about fake news.

    CATHERINE SPARKS, Teacher, Edmonds-Woodway High School: It’s about spying and lying and how that creates a ripe environment for the proliferation of fake news.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Sparks has created untrue stories based on the play.

    CATHERINE SPARKS: In act one, scene two, when he says oh, but this too, too solid flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into a dew, sure, it could be a metaphor, but Hamlet has a shocking flesh-eating illness.

    (LAUGHTER)

    CATHERINE SPARKS: Could you actually support that with evidence from the text? Good luck. Fake news is not news you disagree with. Fake news is fabricated news.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Sparks believes letting her students create their own fake news will teach them how to critically think through some of the information they receive. What words are used? Who benefits? Is there any truth to the story?

    STUDENT: It’s got to be dramatic, like, absurd things that you’re like, what?

    CATHERINE SPARKS: This is a juicy story right here.

    STUDENT: It’s entirely fabricated.

    CATHERINE SPARKS: What would be the outcome of producing this story?

    STUDENT: If the public saw this, they’re like, oh, my gosh, there’s so much drama and scandal going on.

    CATHERINE SPARKS: What’s been the most painful about the proliferation of fake news in the media is to watch my students start to distrust everything.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: That’s exactly why state Senator Marko Liias says media literacy is so important.

    MARKO LIIAS: At its bedrock, when our founding fathers created this country, the reason why they were so committed to public education was to make sure that we had an educated citizenry.

    CATHERINE SPARKS: Anything that starts with “share if you’re outraged,” that’s a bad sign. And outrage is just the lifeblood of fake news.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: For the PBS NewsHour and Education Week, I’m Kavitha Cardoza in Seattle, Washington.

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    White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn arrives at a news conference Feb. 13 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn arrives at a news conference Feb. 13 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn turned over about 600 pages of documents Tuesday to the Senate intelligence committee as part of its investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to a congressional aide.

    The aide said the committee’s investigators immediately began reviewing the information to determine the extent of what Flynn provided. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the committee’s sensitive work.
    Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, confirmed the panel had received documents from Flynn, but declined to characterize the material or say how many pages had been received.

    “We can’t make any judgment on whether he’s fully complied because we’ve got to review the documents,” Warner said.

    The documents came as Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly indicated that President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner and his communications with Russia are part of a wide-ranging probe by the Justice Department’s special counsel. Meanwhile, a Democratic lawmaker called on a top Justice Department official to clarify the scope of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

    Flynn had previously invoked his Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination in rebuffing an earlier subpoena from the committee. After the panel narrowed the scope of that subpoena and issued additional ones for records from two of his businesses, Flynn agreed to turn over some documents.

    On Tuesday, committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said the panel sought Flynn’s business records — including travel, expense and phone records — to determine whether those records “would give us insight as to where he was when he was, what reimbursements he received, what expenses he might have had.”

    Burr said it was still possible Flynn may turn over more records. He noted the committee is still working with Flynn to see if he will agree to be interviewed as part of the panel’s probe.

    In addition to the Senate panel, Flynn is under investigation by other congressional committees as well the special counsel over his contacts with Russia. Among those contacts under scrutiny is a December meeting between Flynn, Kushner and Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.

    On Tuesday, Kelly defended Kushner at a Senate hearing amid reports that he attempted to establish “back-channel” communication between Russia and Trump’s presidential transition team.

    Kelly said back-channel talks have been common in U.S. diplomacy.

    “We have to make the assumption — and I will — that Jared Kushner is a great American,” he said.

    Pressed by Montana Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, on whether he believes lawmakers should “ensure that assumption is correct,” Kelly described the questions as part of Mueller’s scope of inquiry.

    “I think there are numerous investigations that are looking into this,” Kelly said. “I think it’s part of the Bob Mueller investigation, and I think there’s a number of congressional committees looking into it.”

    The full scope of Mueller’s investigation into possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia remains unclear. But it has incorporated a separate criminal investigation — which predated the election — of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, The Associated Press reported last week .

    Also Tuesday, a senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee wrote Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to clarify the scope and authority of Mueller’s role and asked Rosenstein to ensure the probe is free of political interference.

    “It is of paramount importance that Mr. Mueller’s investigation proceed unimpeded by any officials who may have a conflict of interest or other ethical bar, or by political interference of any kind,” wrote Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.

    Rosenstein acknowledged Friday there’s a chance his role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey could become part of the special counsel’s investigation. If that happens, he said, he will recuse himself from being Mueller’s point of contact on the probe.

    “If there’s a need from me to recuse, I will,” Rosenstein told The AP.

    He also said the scope of Mueller’s probe is broad and could encompass any number of actions.

    Associated Press writer Sadie Gurman contributed to this report.

    READ MORE: What to watch for in Comey’s Senate testimony

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: For three years, the Islamic State group has held the Syrian city of Raqqa, which it made the capital of its so-called caliphate.

    Now U.S.-backed Syrian groups with the help of American and coalition troops and airpower have begun the battle to retake the city.

    Jeffrey Brown reports.

    JEFFREY BROWN: They are called the Syrian Democratic Forces, and they have fought their way to the outskirts of Raqqa. Now the fighters of the SDF say they’re ready for the main assault.

    TALAL SILO, Syrian Democratic Forces Spokesman (through interpreter): Morale is high and military readiness to implement the military plan is complete and in coordination with the U.S.-led coalition to fight terrorism.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Backed by U.S. coalition airstrikes, the Kurdish militias of the SDF and their Arab allies reached the city’s northern and eastern gates last week.

    But the U.S. military says the battle for the city itself will be “long and difficult.” In neighboring Iraq, by comparison, the fight to retake Mosul from is has raged since October. And the fight for Raqqa may be complicated further by the crisis between the Persian Gulf state of Qatar and other Arab nations.

    On Twitter today, President Trump sided with Saudi Arabia and others today in the confrontation. The U.S. has about 10,000 troops in Qatar, and a major air base used to launch strikes against ISIS. The Pentagon says its posture in there won’t change.

    State Department spokesman Heather Nauert:

    HEATHER NAUERT, State Department Spokeswoman: We continue to cooperate with Qatar and other countries in the region in the fight against terrorism.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Meanwhile, Turkey is keeping a nervous eye on the fighting at Raqqa, less than 60 miles from its border. The United States is now supplying heavy weapons to the Syrian Kurds of the SDF. They are allied with Turkish Kurdish militants, whom Ankara and the U.S. consider terrorists.

    BINALI YILDIRIM, Turkish Prime Minister (through interpreter): Despite our many warnings, our ally, our friend the United States has unfortunately entered into a cooperation with a terrorist organization. We will immediately retaliate if there’s a threat to our nation, our country and to the safety and lives of our citizens.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The U.S.-led coalition also announced today that it had bombed what it said were pro-Syrian regime forces in Southern Syria. The pro-government elements had reportedly entered a restricted zone near what is known to be a U.S. and British special forces base.

    And we look at the fight that lies ahead in Raqqa with Joby Warrick, national security reporter for The Washington Post, author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the Islamic State entitled “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS.” And Andrew Exum, a former Army Ranger who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy from 2015-2016, he’s now a contributing editor at “The Atlantic.”

    Welcome to both of you.

    Andrew Exum, let me start with you.

    How significant is the Raqqa offensive? What are the stakes here?

    ANDREW EXUM, Former Defense Department Official: Well, I think it’s significant, although we shouldn’t overstate the degree to which this will really herald the end of the Islamic State.

    If you rewind the clock two years ago to when the Islamic State was still spreading across Syria and Iraq and threatening our allies in Turkey and Jordan, we came up with a plan to try to squeeze the Islamic State from multiple different directions.

    And part of what we have been trying to do is apply simultaneous pressure. The idea was to eventually get to kind of the dual capitals of the Islamic State in Raqqa and Mosul. Obviously, the fight for Mosul began last year. We weren’t able to get to Raqqa by the time that President Obama left office, in part because we were still waiting on some pretty big policy decisions, including arming the Syrian Kurds, who have borne the brunt of the fight in Syria.

    But we now appear to be knocking on the doors of Raqqa. The fight should be — should last several months. It’s going to be extremely difficult. But once this is over, it really — it heralds perhaps the end of the Islamic State as an actual quasi-state, but we should expect it to exist for quite some time as a terrorist organization, as insurgents.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, Joby, fill in a little bit more about the practical difficulties, especially vis-a-vis what’s happening in Mosul, where it’s dragging on.

    JOBY WARRICK, The Washington Post: Right.

    Jeff, remember, this is the capital, this is the true capital of the Islamic State. They’re going to fight to the last man. This is really the sort of endgame for them in terms of keeping this caliphate alive. And we have seen what they have done to Mosul, their other capital.

    They held on for eight months, and the place still hasn’t fallen. So, we can expect all kinds of complications in the battlefield itself, everything from the tunnels and the sniping and sophisticated defensive techniques. They’re not going to let this go easily.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And the U.S. role here is airborne.

    JOBY WARRICK: Mostly airborne.

    And it’s a critical role. We do have allies that we’re relying on to do the fighting on the ground, although we do have advisers and people on the forward positions doing artillery work and that sort of thing. But it really is a fight for our allies and not for us on the ground.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Andrew, if you allow yourself to think ahead, assuming a defeat of ISIS, what would be next? Where are they being pushed to?

    ANDREW EXUM: Well, first off, I think the defeat of ISIS looks different in Iraq than it does in Syria.

    In Iraq, we have worked by, with and through an Iraqi state. That state is flawed. It’s weak. It’s grown in some ways more federalized as the war has gone on and as the Kurds have really been able to flex their muscles in the north. But, nonetheless, it is a state.

    In Syria, by contrast, the conflict, which may not involve the Islamic State past next year, the conflict should be expected to last for quite some time. The Turks are obviously going to be very concerned about who controls Northern Syria, who controls Raqqa. Is it going to be the Kurds with their Arab allies?

    That might be unpalatable, to say the least, to President Erdogan in Ankara. So, I think we should expect Syria to remain, unfortunately, quite a bit of a mess for the foreseeable future.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, this, Joby Warrick, gets very confusing, I think, for people watching, for all of us watching at different times, all the different players. Right?

    You think about the race to defeat ISIS and the potential aftermath and the chaos that could be there as well.

    JOBY WARRICK: Right. Yes.

    And you think about just the oddity of this, that we are arming a nonstate actor, essentially a Kurdish militia, against — who is arrayed one of our NATO allies, Turkey. And these two see each other as mortal enemies, and yet we’re all on the same side in a sense of trying to reclaim the city from the Islamic State.

    What happens afterward, we just don’t know. Does Turkey allow a Kurdish entity to control this part of Syria? I don’t think so. They’re going to be very insistent on driving out these Kurds. Does that mean another war breaks out after ISIS is gone?

    It’s very complicated and very dangerous.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What about, Andrew, the role of the Syrian government itself at this point?

    ANDREW EXUM: Well, this is where it gets complicated, especially down in the south, where you’re starting to see some Syrian government forces push up against some rebels that we have been supporting to try to defeat the Islamic State.

    After Raqqa, over the which the Syrian government really hasn’t tried to make a claim, the next big ISIS stronghold is Deir el-Zour, where there is a small toehold of the regime, where the regime does want to project forces.

    And so U.S. forces and U.S.-backed forces are going to start bumping up the Syrian regime’s coalition, which, of course, includes Russia and Hezbollah, as well as Iran. So, the geography is just going to get more complicated after the Islamic State’s capitals fall in both Mosul and Raqqa.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, Joby, we referred in our setup to this dust-up involving Qatar. Does that have any particular impact on the fight against ISIS?

    JOBY WARRICK: What’s interesting to me is to see the role the Trump administration has taken in that fight, with the president himself getting involved in this new sort of Twitter blast over the last 24 hours, basically taking the Saudis’ side against the Qataris, who are our ally as well, and also the host to one of our major military facilities.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Andrew, explain the role that Qatar plays and why it might have some implications.

    ANDREW EXUM: The U.S. military is running the entire air campaign for the fight against the Islamic State out of Qatar. We have several thousand troops there.

    And I think that’s one of the reasons why, after the president’s tweets, which really echoed not only the Saudi, but the Emirati frustrations with Qatar, that’s why you have seen the State Department try to clean that up a little bit.

    But I’m sure that Secretary of Defense Mattis and the secretary of state were frustrated, to say the least, to see the president get so far out there with his tweets this morning.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Joby Warrick, Andrew Exum, thank you both very much.

    ANDREW EXUM: Sure thing.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Members of Congress returned to Washington today for what could be a make-or-break few weeks for Republicans’ packed agenda, that as the Russia investigations and the upcoming testimony of former FBI Director James Comey continue to add complications for the party.

    Lisa Desjardins reports.

    MAN: The Senate will come to order.

    LISA DESJARDINS: From the Senate floor …

    MAN: Good morning. This hearing will come to order.

    LISA DESJARDINS: … to committee rooms, to Capitol Hill hallways, congress is back from recess, and facing big issues with little time.

    Senate Republicans are at a pivotal point, trying to write their health care bill.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky., Majority Leader: We had another of our ongoing discussions about the way forward on health care. We’re getting closer to having a proposal that we will be bringing up in the near future.

    LISA DESJARDINS: They would like a vote this month, but Democrats point out Republican senators don’t yet have a plan with enough votes on their own.

    SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., Minority Leader: I have a message for our Republican colleagues. It’s very simple: Abandon repeal, stop sabotaging our health care system, and you will find Democrats waiting to work with you to improve the health care system.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The White House, meanwhile, stressed the will on health care, but not the way.

    SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: By and large, every elected Republican in the House and the Senate campaigned on this for the last seven years.

    LISA DESJARDINS: But with health care still unfinished, that means a backed-up GOP agenda, with infrastructure, tax reform, spending bills, not to mention raising the debt ceiling, all needing attention soon in order to pass.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: What a great team this is, what an unbelievable team.

    LISA DESJARDINS: All of that brought the GOP’s key leaders, House and Senate, to the White House to meet with President Trump today.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So we’re working very hard on massive tax cuts, and we’re working very, very hard on the health care. And I think we’re going to have some very pleasant surprises for a lot of people.

    LISA DESJARDINS: But even this meeting had a nod to fired FBI Director James Comey’s big hearing this week.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I wish him luck. Thank you, everybody.

    LISA DESJARDINS: And the cloud that continues to hang over the president’s own agenda.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Lisa joins me now. She is joined by our own John Yang.

    Great to have both of you here.

    So, John, I’m going the start with you. You just heard Lisa’s reporting about what they’re doing on the hill. What is the White House trying to do right now?

    JOHN YANG: Well, right now, they’re pushing infrastructure this week, yesterday, airways, tomorrow, waterways, Thursday, highways and streets, Friday, permitting process.

    Now, you might think that means they have got an infrastructure bill ready to go. No. This is concepts, it’s proposals, it’s broad policy ideas. They really don’t have a timeline yet of when they think they will have an infrastructure bill ready to introduce in Congress.

    They don’t even know yet whether it will be one bill or a series of legislative packages. They’re still on the drawing board.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sounds like it’s still early.

    So, Lisa, talk specifically about the time crunch. What is Congress dealing with here?

    LISA DESJARDINS: I think Congress is looking at essentially a 60-yard field goal to try and get everything done that it has to.

    It has to be perfect. Look at the calendar, what Congress and Republicans hoped to do this year. This is what they wanted to happen, have health care passed in February and March and then tax reform. We should be talking about a bill right now. That’s what they wanted.

    Let’s look at what’s actually happened instead. The calendar now instead has health care now. Obviously, that wasn’t passed until May. And then Senate is dealing with it now. So what’s happened to tax reform? Well, that’s been kicked back because we see the debt ceiling and the spending bill coming up this summer, further jamming the calendar, meaning tax reform might be pushed back to the fall, Judy.

    And, as John said, this is one reason there’s not a timeline for infrastructure. It simply doesn’t fit, and it’s not clear that all these things fit either. We’re never seen Congress be able to get this much done in that amount of time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, John, as Lisa is suggesting, in addition to infrastructure, there is more that the White House wants to get through.

    JOHN YANG: That’s right.

    They want — they have got two things on their wish list, one thing on their must-do list. On the wish list, they want to get a health care vote before the August recess. They of course had hoped to have that done by now.

    And then, as Lisa has pointed out, they want the tax bill introduced after Labor Day. They were hoping to have that passed by August. The must-do list, they have got to raise the debt ceiling, big debate inside the administration, do you do that clean with nothing attached to it, or do you have spending cuts and other spending reforms in order to get conservatives, fiscal conservatives to vote for it?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa, again, back to the Hill, when Republican leaders hear all this, how do they think they can get it done, or do they really?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Yes, reality is a tricky concept right now on Capitol Hill.

    But this is what I have gotten from sources that I trust. They believe there will be a Senate vote on health care before August. Now, there’s big questions over whether the House and Senate will come together on a health care package after that. That’s very much in question.

    Tax reform, people are openly talking now that they’re not sure that they can actually get that done. I’m hearing voices in the Republican Party saying …

    JUDY WOODRUFF: This year or …

    LISA DESJARDINS: This year, and maybe not in the next cycle, because there’s so much heavy lifting. They’re now even starting to say maybe that becomes a tax cut, instead of sweeping tax reform.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, meantime, John, at the White House, the president is saying some things, his aides and spokespeople are sometimes — in fact, often saying something different.

    JOHN YANG: Well, on the legislative process, he keeps talking as if health care is ready for a vote in the Senate. He talks about it as if the tax reform, the tax cut bill is ready for a vote in the Senate, and everything is just two weeks. In two weeks, we’re going to have a great plan.

    But this is put off well into the future.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in fact, Lisa, we were talking about this earlier, what the president is saying, John is reporting in some of these expectations that he’s putting out there and tweeting about, including about other subjects, that then members of Congress, leadership have to react to, all of that is having an effect on the agenda.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Right.

    I think, until now, many Republicans have been able to shrug it off, as much as they themselves were frustrated by it. But today, Judy, Senator Bob Corker, generally a Trump ally, was literally speechless when he was told about the president’s tweet about Qatar.

    Now, I also have to say, though, even though I think these distractions are actually affecting the agenda now, something bigger than that still is that Republicans can’t agree. That’s still the basic problem. Republicans in the House and Senate and in the White House have not come up with plans on these items. And that’s still the essential problem.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s a lot of moving parts, and I know the two of you are going to continue to report it.

    And, as we speak, there’s more news coming out of the White House and the Hill tonight on all this.

    Thank you very much, Lisa Desjardins, John Yang.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Russia is denying that it tried to hack U.S. voting computer software and equipment before last year’s presidential election. The online magazine The Intercept reported the allegation, based on a National Security Agency document.

    A Kremlin spokesman dismissed it today, saying — quote — “This assertion has absolutely nothing to do with reality.”

    In Washington, the U.S. secretary of homeland security, John Kelly, was asked about it at a Senate hearing.

    SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, D-Mo.: Are you deferring the investigation of this to the FBI, or is the department actually actively engaged in investigating the penetration or attempts to penetrate the voter files in this country immediately before the election by the Russian government?

    JOHN KELLY, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary: I share your concern. I don’t disagree with anything you said relative to the sanctity of our voting process. Clearly, it’s an interagency — it should be an interagency investigation. And that is taking place. DHS will be part of that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Virginia’s Mark Warner, told USA Today that the Russian cyber-attacks were even more extensive. But he said he doesn’t think that actual votes were changed.

    And Reality Winner, the Georgia woman charged, apparently, with leaking the NSA report, remained in jail. Her mother called her a patriot.

    President Trump today waded into the political conflict over the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, where the U.S. has 10,000 troops. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE all broke ties with the kingdom on Monday and accused it of supporting terror groups and Iran. Jordan scaled back ties today.

    Today, Mr. Trump appeared to endorse the move in a tweet that said: “Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism.”

    This in contrast to yesterday, when the White House said the president wanted to work with all the parties to de-escalate the situation.

    British police have identified the third suspect in Saturday’s deadly knife and van attack in London. He was 22-year-old Youssef Zaghba, an Italian national of Moroccan descent. All three attackers were shot dead by police.

    Also today, hundreds across the country gathered for a minute of silence to remember those who died or were wounded.

    Meanwhile, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, brushed off criticism from President Trump. The president has written a series of tweets ridiculing the mayor since Saturday’s attack. But, today, Khan said he’s much more concerned about the invitation extended last year to Mr. Trump to come to Great Britain.

    SADIQ KHAN, Mayor of London: I really couldn’t be bothered about what Donald Trump tweets. I’m not — I don’t how to tell you this, but I really don’t care.

    What’s the important issue is that, you know, Prime Minister Theresa May offered Donald Trump a state visit moments after he was elected president. I said at the time, I don’t think a state visit was appropriate, and my views haven’t changed.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The White House didn’t respond directly to Khan. Instead, a spokesman said the president appreciates the queen’s invitation.

    In France, a man swinging a hammer attacked police outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris today. He allegedly shouted “This is for Syria” and struck one officer before being shot and wounded. Dozens of police took over the scene, and blocked at least 600 people from leaving the cathedral. They were slowly being released later in the evening.

    There’s word that ride-sharing giant Uber has fired 20 people after an internal investigation into sexual harassment and other complaints. Various news outlets report that the moves were announced today at a staff meeting in San Francisco. A law firm investigated more than 200 allegations of sexual harassment going back to 2012.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 47 points to close at 21136. The Nasdaq fell 20, and the S&P 500 dropped six.

    The post News Wrap: Russia denies trying to hack U.S. voting equipment appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    House Speaker Paul Ryan holds a news conference after Republicans pulled the American Health Care Act bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, prior to a vote at the U.S. Capitol on March 24. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/ Reuters

    This is infrastructure week, according to the White House, which rolled out a series of ideas on Monday. But the problem is, it’s not clear exactly when the Senate will have health care week. Or the House or Senate get tax reform week.

    A health care bill was supposed to get through the House and the Senate by mid-March. Instead, the House narrowly passed its bill in May, and the Senate is hoping to get a vote in before August. (Or maybe as early as July.)

    That’s just one of the issues that will create a calendar crunch. Here are five legislative jams looming ahead for the GOP:

    1. Health care: Republicans now hope to have health care passed through the Senate by July 4, though they admit that’s a very ambitious timeline. But even if a bill gets a majority of the votes in the Senate, there are still big questions about how and if the Senate and House could agree on a final version. That would take several more weeks, or possibly even months. One important date to keep in mind in the health care fight: Sept. 30. Republicans must pass a bill by the end of the fiscal year in order to use the budget reconciliation process and also avoid a filibuster attempt by Democrats.
    2. Tax reform: The House hoped to have a tax bill ready for debate by now, putting a vote on the floor by July 4. Now all Republicans are hoping is to finalize legislation by July 4, and the most realistic expectation for a vote is sometime after August.
    3. Infrastructure: The White House may have focused on the issue this week. But infrastructure is not on Congress’ mental calendar yet. Instead, it’s more like a wish-list item that must wait in the wings until health care and tax reform are resolved.
    4. Debt ceiling: The nation’s debt level is quickly reaching its ceiling. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has warned Congress it may need to act before August.
    5. Funding government: And, yes, we are again within months of another government funding showdown. Current funding runs out Sept. 30, and many Republicans are hoping to enact spending cuts, which could complicate the process.

    The post The 5 big hurdles on the GOP calendar appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FILE PHOTO: Assistant U.S. Attorney General Christopher Wray pauses during a press conference at the Justice Department in Washington, U.S. November 4, 2003. REUTERS/Molly Riley/File Photo - RTX39FGV

    FILE PHOTO: Assistant U.S. Attorney General Christopher Wray pauses during a press conference at the Justice Department in Washington, U.S. November 4, 2003. REUTERS/Molly Riley/File Photo

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he’ll nominate a former Justice Department official as FBI director.

    Trump’s tweets that his choice — lawyer Christopher Wray — is “a man of impeccable credentials.”

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

    There’s no more information in the two-sentence tweet that ends, “Details to follow.”

    Wray emerged from a list of former prosecutors, politicians and law enforcement officials interviewed by Trump since the president fired FBI Director James Comey last month.

    Wray works at the King & Spalding law firm. He represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during the investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case. Two former Christie aides were convicted of plotting to close bridge lanes to punish a Democratic mayor who wouldn’t endorse the Republican governor.

    Wray worked for the Justice Department under President George W. Bush.

    The post Trump to nominate Christopher Wray as next FBI director appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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