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

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    A general view shows Tahrir Square as Egyptian riot policemen try to disperse protesters in Cairo

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    By Sam Weber and Laura Fong

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, an estimated 3.5 million people in cities around the country and the world took part in the Women’s March protesting the Trump agenda in what may have been the largest collective protest in American history. The march started with a single Facebook post and grew from there. In Raleigh, North Carolina, Professor Zeynep Tufekci was one of those faces in the crowd.

    ZEYNEP TUFEKCI: Marches are great, they’re really empowering to people, but the magic isn’t really in the streets by itself or any online action. It’s when you look at the action when you’re say, a legislator, thinking, ‘Hmm, if they can march with a million people what else can they do?’

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Tufekci teaches in the School of Information at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and is the author of the new book, “Twitter and Tear Gas: the Power and Fragility of Networked Protest.”

    ZEYNEP TUFEKCI, AUTHOR OF TWITTER AND TEAR GAS: The twist in the 21st century seems to be since we can a do things much easier with digital technology, they don’t necessarily have the same level of teeth a similar action say a March on Washington might have 30, 40, 50 years ago, because that was a result of a long process of organizing.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 took six months to organize — arranging buses, bag lunches, singers and speakers, for a quarter of a million who attended. Tufekci says the march was a show of strength for the Civil Rights Movement built over the previous 10 years.

    ZEYNEP TUFEKCI: It pushed the people in power to take the threat pretty seriously.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: One year later, Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. More recently, Tufekci cites the success of the conservative “Tea Party” movement. It began in the spring of 2009 with a viral video.

    RICK SANTELLI, CNBC’S SQUAWK BOX, FEBRUARY 2009: This is America. How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Followed by tax day protests around the country. By the November 2010 midterm elections, the movement had a measurable impact.

    ZEYNEP TUFEKCI: They got 50 plus Congress people. They essentially blocked President Obama’s second term agenda, and arguably, they elected a president that they like, so it just shows what the protest leads to depends on what happens next.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In 2011, on the other side of the political spectrum, one email, inspired by the Arab Spring protests, started “Occupy Wall Street.” Within weeks, it was a movement with encampments all over the country. But when the camps came down, “Occupy” had little to show for its agenda.

    ZEYNEP TUFEKCI: On the one hand, it was really powerful in bringing to people’s attention something that was important: inequality. But if you look at the electoral results or at sort of the policy, it wasn’t taken as a threat. And the people in power just didn’t really change their way: inequality hasn’t gone down, we don’t have any new legislation that tries to dampen inequality. So you can sort of see that the digital technology empowered both of them, but they start taking different turns right after, with really different consequences.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The ease of organizing and mobilizing online has led to a common critique. For a while, it was just considered “slacktivism.” Is it too easy, just to click a link and signal that I like this and I don’t like this? How does it translate into action?

    ZEYNEP TUFEKCI: I think it’s a great first step. So, that’s why I don’t like the term “slacktivism.” I don’t think it’s slacking in anything to click. It could be a very powerful first step. Even if it stops there, it’s got power. The question is: How do you take that very widespread, but relatively shallow level of engagement and give people who clearly wanting to do something else, right? How do you organize it so that more people can step and say, “Here are things you could do collectively,” and by doing it collectively along the way you’ll build those important skills of decision-making together and hanging together.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: While activists adopted digital technology tools, governments tried and failed to disrupt them. For instance, Tufekci points to the 2011 protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

    ZEYNEP TUFEKCI: The government just didn’t know what to do, so they just shut off the internet, which completely backfired, it was the absolute wrong thing to do if you were a government. Because it just brings attention, and a lot of parents who were getting news from their kids in Tahrir Square the cell phones were also cut.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But governments have also learned how to use digital technology. Five years later, during an attempted coup in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan relied on digital technology — his iPhone Facetime app — to rally supporters against rebellious soldiers.

    ZEYNEP TUFEKCI: It was really sort of amazing to watch this. It was just this little screen, but it confirmed to the country that he was alive. They realized very quickly that the internet, and digital technology would be on their side to counter this coup.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You point out how crucial Twitter and Facebook were in getting people to come out to the street. But you also point out that there’s a tremendous amount of power on these platforms now and the way that the algorithms are designed, could actually determine the success or failure of a movement?

    ZEYNEP TUFEKCI: Absolutely. For example, Facebook, uses an algorithm, a computer program to choose how to rank what it shows you. So if you don’t see something from someone, maybe Facebook isn’t showing it to you. For a social movement that’s incredibly consequential.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: It was consequential in the summer of 2014, as protests erupted on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, following the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, by a white police officer.

    Early on, Tufekci says, the protests got a lot of attention on Twitter but less so on Facebook because of another viral sensation: the Ice Bucket Challenge.

    ZEYNEP TUFECKI: Facebook kept showing me the Ice Bucket Challenge, even if it was from weeks ago kept showing the same thing. You know how you go on and there’s baby picture, baby picture, it just shows you things that are cute and cuddly and that get the “likes,” and that’s how it operates. For a social movement, trying to break into the public sphere that could mean a form of algorithmic censorship because the algorithm likes certain things and doesn’t like certain things.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Tufekci says the motivations of social media companies and social movements are not necessarily aligned.

    ZEYNEP TUFEKCI: In the end, it’s a platform that is based on delivering you ads, and they want to sort of keep you on there with things that will keep you on there. And all of their business models aren’t necessarily in the interests of what the movements are trying to do long term.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: How does the Women’s March or Black Lives Matter how do they sustain themselves and turn themselves into powerful actors that can be a threat to whomever it is that they want to force change through?

    ZEYNEP TUFEKCI: Right. The lesson I take from all of my research into this isn’t stop using digital technologies. It’s recognize what they’re good for, and use them fully what they’re good for. But really recognize what they’re not good for. You can use a hashtag to get millions of people to the street, but you can’t use a hashtag to figure out how does a group of 100 people in one zip code figure out who is going to run for school board. It’s going to come to a hybrid model, where we use tech for what it’s good for but not be blinded by the power it gives us in some areas and ignore that it’s actually weakening us in other areas by helping us scale up almost too fast. You know you are going from 0 to 100 miles in just a month or two you need a better steering wheel than a Facebook group.

    The post How online social movements translate to offline results appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An early morning voter walks into St. Lukes United Methodist Church to cast their vote in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma March 1, 2016. Democrats hoping to chip away at the Republican dominance in the state. Photo Nick Oxford/Reuters

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Republicans like to boast that their state is the reddest of the red, with their party holding every statewide elected office and every one of the state’s seats in Congress.

    Democrats hoping to chip away at the Republican stranglehold have pinned their hopes on Anna Langthorn, a 24-year-old woman who has logged more than five years in the political trenches.

    While acknowledging her age may raise eyebrows, the newly elected chairwoman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party hopes it will also help her to fan a growing enthusiasm in the state, especially among other young people, to shake up Oklahoma’s political system.

    “There are a lot, a lot of voters who just aren’t voting because they haven’t been engaged, and a lot of those are young people,” she said from her bustling new office in Oklahoma City. “If we can present them with a party organization that reflects their values but also has a face they can relate to, they’re more likely to be engaged.”

    Oklahoma went hard for Republican Donald Trump in November, to no one’s surprise. But Langthorn said she’s seen a dramatic increase in the number of young people showing up to local and state Democratic Party organizational meetings since Trump took office.

    “All of those were tripled in attendance across the state,” she said. “We’ve had counties in western Oklahoma, in rural Oklahoma, that have not been active in the last decade, in some cases 20 years, that for the first time this year had people showing up who wanted to participate.”

    In a special election for an open House seat last month in rural central Oklahoma, the Democratic candidate lost by about 2 percentage points in the same district a Republican won in November by 33 points.

    Langthorn is among a growing number of millennials who have been tapped to lead state parties in recent years, including 28-year-olds William McCurdy II in Nevada and Kylie Oversen in North Dakota.

    While North Dakota Democrats suffered major losses in 2016, including Oversen’s own state House seat, a growing dissatisfaction with Trump and an enthusiasm among younger voters could shift things dramatically for Democrats in 2018, said Ken Martin, leader of the Democratic Party in Minnesota and the president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs.

    “We have seen young people in the past serve in these positions, but what I am seeing right now is just a wholesale new energy throughout the country,” Martin said.

    Less than 45 percent of U.S. voters ages 18 to 34 cast ballots in November’s election. That figure was even lower in Oklahoma, where less than one-third of registered voters in that age group voted, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Those are voters that Langthorn hopes to engage.

    Langthorn has her work cut out for her, especially healing a rift that deepened during last year’s Democratic presidential primary election between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. While acknowledging the division, Langthorn said she believes she’s the right person to help bridge the two factions.

    “My hope is that I can marry those two groups in who I am as a person, that I do have very progressive values and beliefs and want to move the party in that direction, but I also recognize that there are people who have given 30, 40 and even 50 years of their life to serving this party, and their contributions and wisdom are still valuable,” she said.

    The post Oklahoma Democrats pin hopes on new 24-year-old leader appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FILER OF ADOLF EICHMANN TRIAL IN JERUSALEM IN 1961.

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    EDDIE ARRUZA: The number forever etched into his arm has faded slightly. But David Dragon’s memories of where he got it are still fresh.

    DAVID DRAGON: I was beaten up and they took me to jail.

    EDDIE ARRUZA: The soon to be 94-year-old survivor of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp talks of his experience as he tours a new exhibit about the capture of one of the key architects of the Holocaust: Adolf Eichmann. David Dragon believes he encountered Eichmann at Birkenau.

    DAVID DRAGON: When they caught me with some bread they took me in a room and there were about 10-15 high SS men; I think he was there too.

    EDDIE ARRUZA: When Eichmann entered a Jerusalem courtroom in the spring of 1961, it was the culmination of years of attempts by the Israeli government to find him and bring him to justice. The backstory that led to that moment is now on vivid display at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie. Titled “Operation Finale,” the exhibit brings together original artifacts that were only recently de-classified by the Israeli government and curated into an immersive experience by former Israeli intelligence officer, Avner Avraham.

    AVNER AVRAHAM: Six years ago I was a Mossad employee and I found some boxes with very rare stuff from the Operation Finale, the Capture of Adolf Eichmann and I decided to put a small exhibition in the Mossad headquarter.

    EDDIE ARRUZA: Mossad is Israel’s equivalent of the CIA and in the late 1950’s Mossad was tipped off to a love story involving Eichmann’s son Klaus and this teenage girl, Sylvia Hermann. Sylvia’s father, a German Jew, had fled to Argentina with the rise of the Nazis. Eichmann and his family also made their way to Buenos Aires after World War II evading Allied capture. But when Sylvia’s father recognized the last name of the boy she was dating, he notified Israeli officials. A Mossad agent posing as a tourist, later arrived in Argentina with this Leica Camera and surreptitiously took pictures of the man going by the alias Ricardo Klement.

    AVNER AVRAHAM: They sent these pictures to Israel together with Eichmann pictures from SS file that the Mossad got, pictures from the War. And the Israeli police laboratories compared the pictures and find out this is probably the same man if you look at the shape of his left ear.

    EDDIE ARRUZA: From there, Operation Finale took off. With Argentina having become a haven for former Nazis and the government not honoring extradition requests, Israel’s Prime Minister at the time David Ben-Gurion approved a clandestine mission to try to capture Eichmann. 12 Mossad agents traveled to the South American country from Europe on separate commercial flights to try to avoid suspicion. These are their airline tickets.

    Eichmann was captured on May 11, 1960. He was taken to a safe house where the possessions he was carrying at the time are part of the display. He also had identification with the alias he had taken on in Argentina, Ricardo Klement. But as agents interrogated him, Eichmann eventually tripped himself up.

    AVNER AVRAHAM: They start asking him general questions from your age, the size of your shoes and immediately, what is your number of the SS, the SS file and he said exactly the Eichmann number and he understood he made a huge mistake and he asked for a glass of red wine.

    EDDIE ARRUZA: Eichmann was smuggled out of Argentina on the only Israeli Airline El Al flight to ever travel to that country.

    Adolf Eichmann’s trial began on April 11, 1961 in a converted theater in Jerusalem and the centerpiece of this exhibit is the actual bullet proof booth used by Eichmann along with the three original chairs that he and two security guards sat in.

    Visitors to the exhibit can get a sense of the intensity of the trial. A triptych of video screens surround Eichmann’s booth showing videos of the audience, the accused and some of the more than 100 Holocaust survivors who testified.

    AVNER AVRAHAM: And the trial changed the life in Israel because people start talking about the Holocaust and people start dealing with this.

    EDDIE ARRUZA: Eichmann was found guilty of crimes against humanity and executed in May of 1962. His ashes were scattered in the Mediterranean Sea.

    The post New exhibit follows the hunt for a Nazi leader appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    washington monument

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: The first public testimony of former FBI Director Jim Comey since his firing by President Trump captured the Capitol’s attention this week, but there were other significant developments on the Hill outside of that spotlight.

    “NewsHour Weekend” special correspondent Jeff Greenfield joins me from Santa Barbara, California, to discuss that.

    So, what did we miss?

    JEFF GREENFIELD, NEWSHOUR WEEKEND SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the entire political universe was focused on the Comey testimony.

    Up on Capitol Hill in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the Republican repeal and replace Obamacare bill and put it on a so-called fast track. That means it can go right to the floor of the Senate with no committee meetings, no hearings, virtually no debate, and it would only take 50 votes to pass it. There were some concessions to moderates. It’s not clear that the most conservative senators will sign on, but it represents a significant step in that direction.

    On the other side of the Capitol, the House passed significant cutbacks of the Dodd-Frank bill. That’s legislation that puts significant caps on what big banks can do in the wake of the financial meltdown in 2008. That faces some tough sledding in the Senate, but what it indicates is that the Republican majorities in the House and Senate are determined to press ahead with the core Republican agenda on matters ranging from financial regulation to the role of health in the government and beyond.

    SREENIVASAN: Is there a pattern here on how they are going to pursue this agenda?

    GREENFIELD: Well, I think the pattern extends beyond Capitol Hill, and it indicates why some congressional Republicans who might have a lot of problems with Trump’s behavior are not going to be that willing to step away from him.

    The executive branch has done all kinds of regulatory changes. They’ve granted a lot of exceptions to the energy industry, to for-profit colleges. They’ve appointed into positions of government representatives from various interest groups and have given them exemptions from conflict of interest rules. They’ve clearly appointed some — or trying to appoint staunch conservatives to the federal bench.

    And that suggests that for congressional Republicans looking at Trump, there’s a thought that, well, he may have problems, but he seems to be pursuing what we conservatives have wanted the government to do for some time, which is why I think that they will be less inclined than otherwise to take sides against him in, say, a fight with the former director of the FBI.

    SREENIVASAN: So, where does this leave the president then? On Thursday, we heard basically Jim Comey say that the president in some ways lied, and then Friday, we explicitly heard the president refute that.

    GREENFIELD: Well, you know, I think in the short run — and we’ve talked about this before — the whole impeachment idea is a nonstarter. We don’t have a lot of history about impeachment, but one thing is as long as the president retains the support of his or her party, removal from office is almost impossible. But when the president said publicly he’d be willing to take — to testify under oath before special counsel Mueller, he may have bought himself a world of trouble because once you testify under oath, anything you say that’s false can be used as either a source of a criminal indictment or in the case of a president, impeachment.

    And under those circumstances, I think you would see congressional Republicans, particularly from those in the swing districts, begin to move away from him. The fact of the matter is, right now, whatever his overall poll numbers are, he is hugely popular within his party.

    SREENIVASAN: Yes.

    GREENFIELD: But I do think he set himself up for a potential problem with that statement about testifying under oath.

    SREENIVASAN: All right. Jeff Greenfield, thanks so much.

    GREENFIELD: Yes.

    The post What else happened in Washington as the world watched Comey appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords attends her walk through at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia

    Former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords attends her walk through at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 25, 2016. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    HOUSTON — The Navy’s newest combat ship was put into active service following a commissioning ceremony Saturday, named after former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was injured during a 2011 shooting.

    Giffords told a crowd at the ceremony in the Texas Gulf Coast city of Galveston that she was honored the 421-foot-long ship will carry her name and the vessel is “strong and tough, just like her crew.”

    “I thought of you in my darkest days, the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines of the United States of America … You make me proud. You make America proud,” Giffords said as she stood next to her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, who was in the Navy. Kelly lived in Galveston County when he was stationed at Johnson Space Center in suburban Houston during his NASA service.

    Speakers including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said Giffords’ strength and courage made her worthy of being the namesake of the ship, the USS Gabrielle Giffords.

    “Nothing gives me greater joy and honor than seeing this great ship named for someone whose strength and resilience is a great lesson to us all,” Clinton said.

    Others who attended the ceremony included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, who served as the ship’s sponsor.

    The Navy has said it named the ship after Giffords because of the perseverance she showed after the shooting.

    Giffords was shot in the head at a meet-and-greet event outside a grocery store in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011. Six people died and Giffords was among 13 injured. The killer, Jared Loughner, was sentenced to life in prison. Giffords suffers from a language disorder and is partially paralyzed as a result of the shooting.

    Giffords helped christen the $475 million ship in 2015. It’s the ninth in a series of high-speed vessels designed to navigate in shallow coastal regions known as littoral waters.

    It is the 13th Navy ship named after a living person since 1850 and the 16th ship named for a woman.

    The ship will be based in San Diego.

    “I will never forget this day or the crew of the USS Gabrielle Giffords. Fair winds and following seas,” Giffords said.

    The post Warship USS Gabrielle Giffords commissioned in Texas appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    ARLINGTON, VA - SEPTEMBER 26: Aerial photo of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virgina on September 26, 2003. (Photo by Andy Dunaway/USAF via Getty Images)

    ARLINGTON, VA – SEPTEMBER 26: Aerial photo of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virgina on September 26, 2003. (Photo by Andy Dunaway/USAF via Getty Images)

    KABUL, Afghanistan — The Pentagon says three U.S. soldiers were killed and another was wounded Saturday in eastern Afghanistan.

    An Afghan official says the deaths and injury stem from an attack by an Afghan soldier, who also died.

    In a statement from Washington, the Pentagon doesn’t provide details about what led to the deaths of the U.S. soldiers. It says the incident is under investigation.

    A spokesman for the provincial governor in Nangarhar province, Attahullah Khogyani, says the attack took place in the Achin district.

    The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says in a statement that a Taliban loyalist had infiltrated the Afghan army “just to attack foreign forces.”

    The post Pentagon: 3 US soldiers killed, 1 wounded in Afghanistan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during an April 18 meeting with the Organized Crime Council and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Executive Committee in Washington, D.C.. Photo by REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during an April 18 meeting with the Organized Crime Council and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Executive Committee in Washington, D.C.. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the presidential campaign have sparked questions, has agreed to appear before the Senate Intelligence committee on Tuesday as it investigates alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

    It was not immediately clear whether Sessions would testify at a public hearing.

    Sessions stepped aside in March from the federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump after acknowledging that he had met twice last year with the Russian ambassador to the United States. He had told lawmakers at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.

    Sessions has been dogged by questions about possible additional encounters with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Senate Democrats have raised questions about whether the men met at an April 2016 foreign policy event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. The Justice Department has said that while Sessions was there, for a speech by Trump, there were no meetings or private encounters.

    READ NEXT: Democrats raise more questions about Sessions’ contact with Russia

    Former FBI Director James Comey raised additional questions at a hearing on Thursday, saying that the FBI expected Sessions to recuse himself weeks before he actually did. Comey declined to elaborate in an open setting.

    In a letter Saturday to Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Sessions said that he had been scheduled to discuss the Justice Department budget before House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees but that it had become clear some members would focus their questions on the Russia investigation. Shelby chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee.

    Sessions said his decision to accept the intelligence committee’s invitation to appear was due in part to Comey’s testimony. He wrote that “it is important that I have an opportunity to address these matters in the appropriate forum.” He said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would appear before the subcommittees.

    [Watch Video]

    Briefing congressional appropriators on the Justice Department’s budget is a critical part of the attorney general’s job. The fact that Sessions would delegate that task to his deputy showed the Russia investigation was distracting him from his core duties.

    Sessions did not say in the letter whether his appearance would be in public or behind closed doors. Comey testified in public and then met with the committee in a closed session to discuss matters touching on classified information.

    Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said he was troubled that Sessions wouldn’t appear before the appropriations panel and that the apparent reason was “he does not want to discuss the scope of his recusal from the investigation regarding the 2016 presidential campaign as well as his significant interactions with Russian officials.”

    “These are dark times if the attorney general of the United States is unwilling to answer questions under oath in an open session about his conduct or defend this administration’s budget,” Schatz said in a statement.

    The post Sessions to appear before Senate intelligence committee appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    equality march LGBT

    People gather for the Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington, D.C., on June 11, 2017. Photo by Michelle Harven

    Thousands of people around the country participated in a national Equality March for Unity and Pride on Sunday, with a central march in Washington, D.C.

    The march aimed to bring together and affirm members of LGBTQ communities and their allies to highlight discrimination and call for expanding LGBTQ rights, according to march co-chairs.

    Daniel Bruinooge, who is based in Brooklyn, New York, proposed the march on Facebook in January, according to the Washington Blade. He wrote on the event’s Facebook page that he drew inspiration from the worldwide Women’s March in January and hoped to create a similar event for the LGBTQ community.

    The march’s platform highlights a number of causes, including disability rights, preventing violence against LGBTQ people, and support for LGBTQ immigrants.

    equality march LGBT

    Photo by Dayana Morales Gomez

    The march began by Washington, D.C.’s Farragut Square and culminated on the National Mall. It followed a series of celebratory events hosted by Capital Pride Alliance in Washington, D.C., from Thursday to Sunday, including a pride march on Saturday.

    Activists from the collective No Justice, No Pride disrupted Capital Pride’s Saturday pride parade, protesting the organization’s support from corporations and banks as well as the police presence at the march. Protesters also opposed what they said was Capital Pride’s exclusion of people of color and transgender individuals.

    On Sunday, thousands of people from across the country filled the streets with signs, flags and chants. Some participants said they marched to celebrate friends and family, while others wanted to demonstrate resistance to President Donald Trump’s administration.

    In February, the Trump administration repealed guidelines from former President Barack Obama’s administration that had directed schools to allow students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity. Vice President Mike Pence has voiced support for conversion therapy to change people’s gender identity or sexual orientation, a practice the American Psychiatric Association has said harms LGBTQ people, and said marriage should be restricted to heterosexual couples.

    “I’m here because it’s a matter of celebrating and supporting LGBTQIA identity. It’s not about politics or policy or a difference in political opinion. It’s about an administration denying our identity. We will resist completely,” Timothy Kaine of Ohio told the PBS NewsHour.

    The march occurs the day before the one-year anniversary of a nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people, making it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The massacre occurred on a Latin-themed night at the gay nightclub Pulse.

    Randy Christensen, 48, said he marched in honor of the victims of the Pulse shooting. “We came up with 32 people coming from West Palm Beach, Florida, to support the LGBTQ community and remember Pulse. It really affected us, knowing that can happen in our state,” Christensen said.

    Rosie Silvers, 16, said the march was important for “the people who can’t vote to still feel like we can do something.”

    March officials and partner organizations told the NewsHour Weekend the march is meant to emphasize the importance of diversity, unity between different communities and recognizing people who are marginalized within the LGBTQ community.

    Catalina Velasquez, president and founder of consulting firm Consult Catalina and a co-chair of the march, called the event “an urgent call to action.”

    She said that it was important to see people often marginalized within the LGBTQ community, such as immigrants, people of color, and transgender people, working as leaders of the march, and hopes it will help to change transgender and queer narratives “from victimhood to personhood and from surviving to thriving.”

    The transgender community is “not the last letter in a growing acronym, we are multiple communities that are oftentimes mystified, demonized, and it’s coming at a high cost,” she said.

    The march’s platform points include a call to prevent discrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming people.

    Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, director of external relations at the National Center for Transgender Equality, a partner of the march, said she was “pleased to see is that this march is focusing on marginalization, calling out appropriately that for far too long, many voices in [the] broad LGBTQ community have been kept out of discussions that impact their lives.”

    Daniel Pino, communications strategist at NMAC, an organization that advocates for people of color with HIV and is partnering with the march, said, “We are ensuring the HIV movement is represented within this moment.”

    See more photos of the march in Washington, D.C., below.

    equality march LGBT

    Photo by Dayana Morales Gomez

    equality march LGBT

    Photo by Dayana Morales Gomez

    equalitymarch

    People gather for the Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington, D.C., on June 11, 2017. Photo by Michelle Harven

    equality march LGBT

    Photo by Dayana Morales Gomez

    equality march LGBT

    Photo by Dayana Morales Gomez

    Dayana Morales Gomez and Michelle Harven contributed reporting.

    The post At Equality March, thousands rally for LGBTQ rights appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Opana

    Photo by Flickr user Tom Walker

    In a bid to thwart the opioid epidemic, the Food and Drug Administration has asked Endo Pharmaceuticals to withdraw its Opana ER painkiller over concerns that the drug is too easily abused, the first time the agency has made such a move.

    “We are facing an opioid epidemic — a public health crisis, and we must take all necessary steps to reduce the scope of opioid misuse and abuse,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who vowed to address the nationwide problem of opioid addiction and abuse before he took the top agency job last month.

    The decision comes three months after an FDA panel voted to yank the drug, which it approved in 2006, but was not considered to be “abuse deterrent.” The pill became notorious after it was blamed for prompting an HIV outbreak in rural Indiana in 2015, and it was also linked to reports of a rare but serious blood disease characterized by clots that can lead to organ damage.

    It is unclear, however, whether Endo will comply. In a statement, the drug maker indicated it is “reviewing the request and is evaluating the full range of potential options.”

    In fact, the company appears ready for a fight. We say that because Endo argued that the FDA request “does not indicate uncertainty” that Opana ER is safe or effective when taken as prescribed. “Endo remains confident in the body of evidence established through clinical research demonstrating that Opana ER has a favorable risk-benefit profile when used as intended in appropriate patients.”

    Of course, the FDA could pursue legal action. Even so, such a clash could have a wide-ranging effect. “A fight from Endo may have upsides,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, who heads the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University. “Endo may argue there are more dangerous opioids that haven’t been pulled- which would be true. It could lead to other formulations being pulled.”

    READ NEXT: FDA panel rebukes a powerful opioid that was reformulated to curb abuse

    In explaining its move, though, the FDA said post-marketing data indicated more people were finding ways to inject the drug contained in the pill, despite a 2012 reformulation that was designed to prevent such abuse. The agency, in fact, determined the reformulation was not expected to “meaningfully reduce abuse” and declined to let the company describe the drug as abuse deterrent in the product labeling.

    As STAT has noted previously, Opana ER is meant to be swallowed and the contents released over 12 hours, which is known as extended release. But addicts have been attracted to Opana because it was easy to crush into a fine powder that could be snorted or injected to get the full effect of the drug immediately. For this reason, the withdrawal was praised by one expert.

    “This is good news, because it’s exactly what the FDA should be doing,” Dr. Lewis Nelson, who chairs the Department of Emergency Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told us. “If all opioids were required to be abuse deterrent, it would reduce the ability that people have to extract the drug. I think, going forward, that any extended release opioid will have to be abuse deterrent.”

    Last year, Opana ER generated nearly $159 million in revenue, although sales have slowed more recently. In this year’s first quarter, the drug notched $35.7 million in sales, down from almost $44.7 million during the same period a year earlier.

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on June 8, 2017. Find the original story here.

    The post FDA wants to yank an opioid painkiller over concerns about abuse appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    trumpwave

    U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he returns from a day trip to Ohio at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 7, 2017. By Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is trying to change the subject back to his promise to make American job creation a top priority.

    “We want to get back to running our great country,” Trump said at a White House news conference on Friday after a week that saw Washington and much of the country fixated on the damaging testimony of his fired FBI director.

    Facing turmoil about investigations that began over his campaign’s ties to Russia, Trump plans to devote next week to bringing more Americans into the economy by having them start working as apprentices. The effort follows a week spent on infrastructure in which the president remained relatively vague about his policies in hopes of starting a conversation.

    The jobs training initiative is aimed at millions of Americans who could consider apprenticeships instead of four-year college degrees, which can leave them struggling to pay off student loans. But as presented by White House aides Friday, the push so far lacks the details of a significant policy drive.

    Trump’s young presidency is facing an increasingly tense period, amid the congressional and Justice Department probes into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and ties to the Trump campaign. Other items on the Trump agenda are also mired in uncertainty, including a tax overhaul and plans to replace the health insurance law signed by President Barack Obama in 2010.

    To turn to jobs and apprenticeships in particular, Trump is visiting a technical college in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, delivering a policy speech at the Labor Department on Wednesday and meeting with eight governors at the White House on Thursday.

    There are few specifics as to how Trump would encourage more Americans to simultaneously work and learn as apprentices. He intends to improve coordination on the issue among businesses, schools and government leaders.

    “It’s really when those elements come together that the country has seen the best results,” Reed Cordish, a presidential aide on intragovernmental and technology issues, said in a conference call with reporters.

    Administration officials declined to say how much additional money would be devoted for apprenticeship programs, let alone how they intend to increase the number of people taking part— from roughly 500,000 in fiscal 2016.

    At a White House event earlier this year with CEOs, Trump said he was willing to try for a goal of 5 million new apprenticeships over five years. Part of the challenge, White House officials said, was changing negative attitudes toward vocational education.

    Funding may also prove an obstacle. Trump’s proposed budget would slash the Labor Department’s budget by a fifth to $9.6 billion and its job training programs by more than a third. The $90 million spent on apprenticeships would be spared. The plan aims to more tightly organize what his aides say are 43 job training programs across 13 agencies.

    Angela Hanks, of the liberal Center for American Progress, said the Trump budget betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of how apprenticeship programs work.

    “It’s great if we can all agree that apprenticeships are good,” she said. “But if you can’t access child care to get there, and you can’t partner to develop good programs because the workforce system that we have has been gutted, it’s hard to see how you get to the goal that the president’s laid out.”

    Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and an aide, said that worker training is necessary for her father to deliver on his promise to create 25 million jobs over a decade.

    Many employers say they can’t find workers with the necessary skills. The number of job openings climbed above 6 million in April, an all-time high, but the level of hiring has barely risen over the past year.

    Apprenticeships had largely been focused on the construction sector but have since branched out to include health care and information technology, among other fields, said Andrew Cortes, who leads a committee that advises the secretary of labor on the government’s registered apprenticeship program.

    The Obama-era Labor Department — which also encouraged apprenticeships — noted that 91 percent of those that completed the programs found jobs with average incomes above $60,000.

    Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta on Wednesday defended Trump’s budget to a House committee considering its own plan. “We’re going to do more with less,” he told members of the Appropriations Committee, describing the president’s budget priorities as “smart investments in programs that work.”

    “You can only do less with less,” replied Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who criticized the cuts in jobs programs for Americans who need the most help finding work.

    The post Trump seeks pivot from Russia probe to job training appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    diane feinstein

    U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asks questions during former FBI Director James Comey’s appearance before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 8, 2017. Photo By Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Most Democrats are being cautious about whether President Donald Trump might have obstructed justice in the Russia investigation and his dealings with fired FBI chief James Comey. Obstruction is a serious and complicated matter.

    But the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says it’s a question worth examining.

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California wants the committee to investigate “all matters related to obstruction of justice and use its subpoena authority if necessary.”

    So she says in a letter to the committee’s chairman, GOP Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa.

    [Watch Video]

    Feinstein tells CNN’S “State of the Union” she won’t draw any conclusions about obstruction until the matter is investigated.

    Comey testified last week to the Intelligence committee. Feinstein says that with the president’s integrity at issue, it should be “all hands on deck” for lawmakers trying to get to the bottom of what happened.

    The post Feinstein wants ‘all-hands-on-deck’ Trump probe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Woman enters branch of Abacus Federal Savings Bank on Bowery Street in New York

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    By Saskia de Melker and Melanie Saltzman

    SASKIA DE MELKER: The documentary “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” tells the story of Abacus Federal Savings Bank, a small family-run bank in New York City’s Chinatown. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Abacus became the only American bank to face criminal charges for mortgage fraud.

    Filmmaker Steve James followed the Abacus case when it went to trial. He’s best known for his gritty Chicago documentaries including “Hoop Dreams” and “The Interrupters”. And “Life Itself,” about film critic Roger Ebert.

    In the context of the mortgage crisis and all the banks that were involved in that crisis, why did you want to tell this particular story about this bank?

    STEVE JAMES: I think to some extent we wanted to tell this story, because it wasn’t really being told at all, unless you read the Chinese-American press in New York City. They are in every respect sort of the mirror opposite of the big banks in 2008. They were the 2,651st largest bank in the United States. I think because they were a small bank that it wasn’t considered important. And for me, that makes it highly important to tell the story.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: At the heart of the film is bank founder Thomas Sung and his two daughters, Vera and Jill, who ran Abacus with him. The case against abacus began after the sung family discovered some loan officers had altered mortgage applications to fraudulently qualify some borrowers. The Sung family itself alerted financial regulators.

    STEVE JAMES: They discovered the fraud that was going on among some loan officers and took action immediately to try to root it out. Initiated their own internal investigation and got rid of some more employees. And then were fully cooperating with the DA’s office because they thought the DA’s office was going to actually help them to root out any additional fraud that might be going on. So for them to then turn around and be indicted and be accused of endorsing and maybe even directing the fraud at the highest levels of the bank was just astounding to them. But I made it very clear to the Sungs, if we’re doing this film, we’re doing this film, and we will make every effort to present the case that’s against you.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: The film interviews several jurors from the bank’s trial and lays out the prosecution’s case against Abacus and 19 former employees.

    CYRUS VANCE JR. In Abacus’s loan department mortgages were based upon false documentation. We have evidence of conspiracy, larceny, and systemic fraud.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., did not give the Sung family the option to reach a civil settlement and just pay a fine…the type of deal offered to big banks who sold toxic home loan portfolios to investors.

    CYRUS VANCE JR.: I think every American was upset at the crisis that we went through.There was behavior that was less than ethical, and I think Americans were upset that the security against which loans were made were often fictitious. And at Abacus there was some truth to that, too. It’s clearly not a big bank, and clearly it’s not representative of the entire financial community, but I think the principle was the same.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Vance prosecuted Abacus even though it had one of the lowest default rates in the country. Only nine of three-thousand loans Abacus granted were not paid back during the five-year period covered by the film.

    HWEI LIN SUNG: Cyrus Vance just felt this is easier to attack, especially it’s a family bank. But he doesn’t realize that Tom is not easy to be pushed around. And my girls, they’re tough, smart capable women. So courageous.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Central to the film is the city’s Chinese-American community that was the bank’s customer base, as Jill Sung explains.

    JILL SUNG: We serve people who have never even dealt with the banking system before and you try to bring them into the banking system. An example of that is the safe deposit boxes.

    THOMAS SUNG: There are 8,000 plus boxes in this vault. 8,000. The Chinese people, particularly the immigrants, they rent houses in very tight quarters, with no place for them to put their valuables except in a bank vault.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Abacus Bank serves mainly the Chinese community in New York City, largely first-and second-generation immigrants. How critical was that to this story that you tell about their indictment?

    STEVE JAMES: I think that was key. There was a kind of profound insensitivity to the ways in which banking happens in immigrant communities, not just Chinese-American, but even historically, are usually living in a cash economy, especially in those early generations. This is the reality of life in America for these communities. And in order for them to climb their way up the ladder, so to speak, and get mortgages and start businesses, it’s done differently. And that’s one of the things that Abacus understood as a banking institution.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: The Sung family spent 10 million dollars on its defense. The film shows not only the legal struggle but also the personal toll of going to trial.

    KEVIN PUVALOWSKI: They made a decision that they were not going to plead guilty to something, that they did not feel the bank was not guilty of. That is a courageous choice and it’s an expensive choice. It is a daunting task to fight the government.

    STEVE JAMES: If they’re found guilty, it surely would have been the end of the bank. Personally though, the stakes were even, I think, higher for the family this bank really represented them. It was their legacy. We are with the Sungs during this ordeal. And you get an up close and very personal look at the stress and strain and the closeness and the bickering that goes on as they face this. The Sungs are just this sort of wonderfully close and very funny family in a lot of ways. And they never kind of lost their sense of humor even at times in the midst of this.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: What do you hope that people take away from this film?

    STEVE JAMES: I think it’s a film about a community that is not known to stand up for themselves in this country. That historically, perhaps because of having come from mainland China and more of a police state, they have done everything they can to avoid any scrutiny or any involvement or engagement with the powers that be. And this is a case where this family said, ‘ No, we are going to fight back.’ for their community and their bank that is a pillar within that community.

    The post New film follows the only bank charged after financial crisis appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Donald Trump interacts with reporters as he welcomes Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the White House in D.C. in May. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    President Donald Trump interacts with reporters as he welcomes Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the White House in D.C. in May. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Fellow Republicans pressed President Donald Trump on Sunday to come clean about whether he has tapes of private conversations with former FBI Director James Comey and provide them to Congress if he does — or possibly face a subpoena, as a Senate investigation into collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice extended to a Trump Cabinet member.

    It was a sign of escalating fallout from riveting testimony from Comey last week of undue pressure from Trump, which drew an angry response from the president on Friday that Comey was lying.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in for sharp questioning by senators on the Senate Intelligence committee Tuesday. Whether that hearing will be public or closed is not yet known.

    “I don’t understand why the president just doesn’t clear this matter up once and for all,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a member of that committee, referring to the existence of any recordings.

    She described Comey’s testimony as “candid” and “thorough” and said she would support a subpoena if needed. Trump “should voluntarily turn them over,” Collins said.

    Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., also a member of that committee, agreed the panel needed to hear any tapes that exist. “We’ve obviously pressed the White House,” he said.

    Trump’s aides have dodged questions about whether conversations relevant to the Russia investigation have been recorded, and so has the president. Pressed on the issue Friday, Trump said “I’ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future.”

    Lankford said Sessions’ testimony Tuesday will help flesh out the truth of Comey’s allegations, including Sessions’ presence at the White House in February when Trump asked to speak to Comey alone. Comey alleges that Trump then privately asked him to drop a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia.

    Comey also has said Sessions did not respond when he complained he didn’t “want to get time alone with the president again.” The Justice Department has denied that, saying Sessions stressed to Comey the need to be careful about following appropriate policies.

    “We want to be able to get his side of it,” Lankford said.

    Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said “there’s a real question of the propriety” of Sessions’ involvement in Comey’s dismissal, because Sessions had stepped aside from the federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign. Comey was leading that probe.

    Reed said he also wants to know if Sessions had more meetings with Russian officials as a Trump campaign adviser than have been disclosed.

    Trump on Sunday accused Comey of “cowardly” leaks and predicted many more from him. “Totally illegal?” he asked in a tweet. “Very ‘cowardly!'”

    Several Republican lawmakers also criticized Comey for disclosing memos he had written in the aftermath of his private conversations with Trump, calling that action “inappropriate.” But, added Lankford “releasing his memos is not damaging to national security.”

    The New York City federal prosecutor who expected to remain on the job when Trump took office but ended up being fired said he was made uncomfortable by one-on-one interactions with the president — just like Comey was. Preet Bharara told ABC’s “This Week” that Trump was trying to “cultivate some kind of relationship” with him when he called him twice before the inauguration to “shoot the breeze.”

    He said Trump reached out to him again after the inauguration but he refused to call back, shortly before he was fired.

    On Comey’s accusations that Trump pressed him to drop the FBI investigation of Flynn, Bharara said “no one knows right now whether there is a provable case of obstruction” of justice. But: “I think there’s absolutely evidence to begin a case.”

    Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a member of the Intelligence committee, sent a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, urging him to investigate possible obstruction of justice by Trump in Grassley’s position as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Feinstein is the top Democrat on that panel and a member of both.

    She said Sessions should also testify before the Judiciary Committee, because it was better suited to explore legal questions of possible obstruction. Feinstein said she was especially concerned after National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers refused to answer questions from the intelligence committee about possible undue influence by Trump.

    Feinstein said she did not necessarily believe Trump was unfit for office, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asserted, but said he has a “destabilizing effect” on government.

    “There’s an unpredictability. He projects an instability,” Feinstein said. “Doing policy by tweets is really a shakeup for us, because there’s no justification presented.”

    In other appearances Sunday:

    —Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said he would take Trump up on his offer to testify under oath about his conversations with Comey, inviting the president to testify before the Senate.

    —Feinstein acknowledged she “would have a queasy feeling, too” if Comey’s testimony was true that Loretta Lynch, as President Barack Obama’s attorney general, had directed him to describe the FBI probe into Hillary Clinton’s email practices as merely a “matter” and to avoid calling it an investigation. Feinstein said the Judiciary Committee should investigate.

    Sessions stepped aside in March from the federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the campaign after acknowledging that had met twice last year with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. He had told lawmakers at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.

    Sessions has been dogged by questions about possible additional encounters with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

    As for the timing of Sessions’ recusal, Comey said the FBI expected the attorney general to take himself out of the matters under investigation weeks before he actually did.

    Collins and Feinstein spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union and Lankford and Schumer appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Reed was on “Fox News Sunday.”

    The post Republicans urge Trump on tapes, Sessions to testify Tuesday appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The parking lot at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando

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    By Ivette Feliciano, Sam Weber, and Michael D. Regan

    IVETTE FELICIANO: On vacation in Orlando last June 12th, 20-year-old Patience Carter, on the left, her friend Tiara Parker, and Parker’s cousin, Akyra Murray, decided to go out to the Pulse night club.

    PATIENCE CARTER: It was so much fun, and we were talking to each other throughout that night, like we are definitely coming back here, this is a spot for vacation. We were so set on coming back again, and then the gunshots started.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Shortly after 2 AM, Omar Mateen entered the club armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun and began firing.

    PATIENCE CARTER: We didn’t know if it was gunshots, we didn’t know if it was part of the music. All we were doing was feeling the reactions of other people. And everybody was chaotic. And at this point, people are just kind of just running back and forth, not really knowing what to do. I dropped to the floor because I don’t know what to do.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Carter, Parker, and Murray ended up hiding together in the club’s bathroom. Within minutes, Mateen would follow.

    PATIENCE CARTER: We were the last few to get into the bathroom stall that we were in. And there was already about maybe, what, 17-20 people in that stall already. So we closed the door, and then we just sat down on the floor. So you could still hear people screaming in other parts of the club. And then there was a period of silence. He walks in, you could hear his footsteps, and then he starts shooting into our bathroom. When his gun got jammed, that’s when the shooting stopped.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Carter had been shot in both legs. She laid on the bathroom and tried to stay quiet. At 2:35 am, she heard Mateen call the police and pledge allegiance to ISIS.

    OMAR MATEEN 911 CALL: You have to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq. They’re killing a lot of innocent people.”

    PATIENCE CARTER: That’s when it kind of confirmed for me that we weren’t going to get out of here, because he had a motive, he was there for a reason, and he was trying to prove something. So at that point I pretty much just gave up.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: You thought you were never going to get out of there?

    PATIENCE CARTER: I absolutely thought I was never going to get out. Honestly, yeah. I lost hope very, very quickly. So I just started making peace with God.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Two-and-half hours later, police plowed through the bathroom wall in an armored vehicle. Right before that, Carter says, Mateen came into the bathroom stall where she was hiding.

    PATIENCE CARTER: He has his handgun in his hand. At this point, my face is turning to the other stall, because I really just didn’t want to get shot in the face. And I heard him say “Hey, you.” He shot someone. He shot another person. And then right before the police came in, he shot the
    person that was directly behind me. That’s when the wall came down, so the police came through the wall. All the debris was pretty much all over my face, but I could see through this one peephole throughout all the debris, I saw the lights, just the sparks from them exchanging gunfire with one another. And then there was silence.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Carter spent six days in an Orlando hospital, undergoing surgery on her leg. Her friend Tiara Parker, shot in the stomach, survived. Parker’s cousin, Akyra Murray, did not.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Carter returned to New York University and has just completed her junior year. She’s largely recovered from her physical injuries, but not her emotional scars.

    PATIENCE CARTER: At the beginning of this school year, I was limping to class. I was literally doing this and getting to class. And now I’m just walking straight by the end of this school year. Emotionally, I think, it’s like every day is a different kind of struggle. Some days I’m really up, and I’m so happy, life is great, I’m excited about this thing that happened, this thing that happened. And then some days I just find myself falling into this dark place that I don’t want to go back to. I was in a really dark place in the hospital, and sometimes I feel myself going back there.

    IVETTE FELICIANO: Carter is writing a book about surviving the Pulse nightclub attack. News of other terrorist attacks, like the one after a pop concert in Manchester, England, last month, hits her particularly hard.

    PATIENCE CARTER: We’re all, you know, at risk of being, just like, having our lives devastated
    at some point. So I just really hope we don’t forget about the people and the families that are being affected by these situations that happen. Because they’re real people.

    The post A year after Pulse shooting, survivor reflects on recovery appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Cars travel on city streets and highway overpasses in San Diego

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: President Trump spent a good part of last week touting his campaign pledge to spend a trillion dollars to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. But other than talking generally about public-private partnerships for those investments, privatizing air traffic control, and dismantling regulations that can delay construction, the White House has yet to put forward a detailed plan.

    Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis is covering the issue and joins me now from Washington.

    Infrastructure takes a long time to building and a long time to plan. So, what’s at stake here?

    MIKE DEBONIS, WASHINGTON POST REPORTER: As you mentioned, you know, these projects are in the pipeline for years, in some cases, a decade or more. And what’s at stake is a certainty about a path forward and the longer there is uncertainty, the harder it is to plan these projects. And what we’ve seen in a lot of cases is that the Trump administration is created more uncertainty particularly seen this in the realm of public transit, but there’s also world (ph) projects, port projects, things like that, where they made moves particularly in their budget that have a lot of people scratching their heads.

    SREENIVASAN: So, give me an example. I mean, give me an example of the city or municipality that’s been working on something, or thinking about building something waiting for the funds?

    DEBONIS: Sure. We have — example are transit projects. We — there’s a federal transit administration program that typically spends four or five billion dollars a year building transit projects across the country. These aren’t just big cities and Democratic states. A lot of these are in red states, places like Arizona, Indiana, North Carolina.

    They’ve, you know, been in the process over a course of months and years expecting to get a federal contribution of these projects. The budget that was released proposes zeroing out one of these transit accounts that would halt some of these projects in their tracks, at the very least, it would force localities to come up with tens of millions of more dollars that they weren’t expecting to.

    SREENIVASAN: And so, what’s the likelihood of something like this, let’s say a plan is put forth and gets through Congress, because members of Congress are very proud about what sport sort of dollars they can get in into their communities. Oftentimes, states are the ones that actually own the infrastructure on the ground.

    DEBONIS: Well, obviously, Congress ultimately spends the money. And there is buy in, by and large, among local representatives, in places where these projects are happening. That said, you have a, you know, major faction of the Republican Party that wants to reduce discretionary non-defense spending to low levels and this politically and for many of them on principle, it’s a good place to find cuts.

    Politically, you know, these are, you know, by and large theirs the perception these are projects that are going to benefit Democrats. They’re typically even when they’re in red states, they’re in Democratic pockets and big cities. Policy-wise, there’s a feeling among deficit hawks in Republican Party, but simply speaking, that projects like this should be funded locally, that the federal government shouldn’t have a role, that these are not projects of national import.

    So, you know, you’re right to say that ultimately Congress is going to have the say and probably not going to zero out these projects entirely but there is going to be a huge amounts of pressure on projects like this to, you know, sort of be on the chopping block.

    SREENIVASAN: All right. The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis — thanks so much.

    DEBONIS: Thanks, Hari.

    The post Trump’s trillion dollar infrastructure plan short on specifics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman places a photograph of one of the victims in the shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub, on a memorial during an Interfaith Service at First United Methodist Church in Orlando, Florida

    A woman places a photograph of one of the victims in the shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub, on a memorial during an Interfaith Service at First United Methodist Church in Orlando, Florida, June 14, 2016. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    Christopher Cuevas knew what he wanted to say as he approached the First United Methodist Church of Orlando on June 6, about a week before the anniversary of a horrific shooting at the popular gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando.

    Cuevas planned to speak at the meeting, where ministers, LGBTQ people and other residents gathered at the church to remember the victims of the shooting. He was nervous as he prepared to tell the crowd about grappling with his Catholic upbringing as a young queer person.

    But when he told his story, he said he felt “warmly received” by the mix of people who had come together to heal in the year after the tragedy, in what LGBTQ advocates and faith leaders alike call a shift in their relationships. Now they say the last year has brought new dialogue between them, just one of the ways the community has changed in the wake of the tragedy.

    “I was very honest and raw about my experience,” Cuevas said of his speech at the event. “I think for many of the people in attendance, it was an eye-opening experience to them. They may not have ever really seen it from the perspective of a queer trans person.”

    AIDS Walk QLatinx

    Christopher Cuevas, far left, and other members of QLatinx appear at AIDS Walk Orlando on April 15, 2017. Photo courtesy of Christopher Cuevas

    Pulse ‘forced us to think as a spiritual community’

    It has been nearly a year since that night, when a lone gunman began firing on a mass of party-goers at Pulse during a Latin-themed event.

    For the next three hours, Omar Mateen, armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a pistol, kept the authorities at bay, spreading bloodshed throughout an establishment that many LGBTQ people of color described as a safe haven, a place to turn for comfort and support. At about 5:14 a.m., police barreled through a wall of a bathroom in the club, fatally shooting Mateen in an eruption of gunfire. The attack was the largest mass shooting in American history.

    In the following days, the community rallied to support the survivors and victims: raising millions of dollars on GoFundMe, mobilizing to improve access to mental health services in Florida and making a strong push to stop bullying against LGBTQ kids in school.

    “I wanted to search my heart to see if I had, in any way, been complicit in that kind of prejudice, even violence.” — Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter of Northland Church

    Meanwhile, Christian faith leaders in the area wrestled with their own relationships with the LGBTQ community. Bishop Robert Lynch of the Catholic diocese in St. Petersburg, Florida, said in a blog post after the shooting that religious rhetoric can marginalize LGBTQ people.

    “Sadly, it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people,” Lynch wrote, according to Reuters.

    Some faith leaders say the shooting galvanized them to form closer connections with LGBTQ people. After the shooting, “We [saw] a lot of churches and communities of faith take action to learn about the LGBTQ community,” said Hannah Willard, the public policy director for advocacy group Equality Florida.

    Pastor James Coffin, the executive director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, helped coordinate religious counselors in the days following the shooting. Three days after it happened, the council held an interfaith prayer service that included a broad cross-section of beliefs.

    The massacre “really forced us to think as a spiritual community in ways that many hadn’t thought before. There was a more deliberate and specific reaching out to the LGBTQ community,” he said.

    Rocks are printed with words of encouragement outside the Pulse night club following the shootings earlier this year in Orlando

    Rocks are printed with words of encouragement outside the Pulse night club following the shootings earlier this year in Orlando, Florida, U.S., September 17, 2016. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter of Northland Church in Orlando said he had not reached out to LGBTQ people prior to the shooting. “[I] wouldn’t have done it to this day, had it not been for Pulse,” he said.

    The shooting completely changed his awareness of LGBTQ issues, he said. “I personally went on this quest to build relationships and get to know more about that community. I didn’t realize how vulnerable they were,” he said.

    On May 18, Hunter’s church hosted a forum with The Reformation Project, which advocates for the inclusion of LGBTQ people in Christian organizations. About 800 people attended the discussion. After that event, “I wanted to search my heart to see if I had, in any way, been complicit in that kind of prejudice, even violence,” he said.

    Hunter said he has received pushback from critics who accused him of “heresy” for engaging in dialogue with LGBTQ groups. But the point of the event was not to argue church doctrine, it was to build relationships, he said.

    Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith said engagement from faith-based groups has not been limited to Christians in Orlando. In the hours after the shooting by Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, Muslim organizations from across the country condemned the attack and called on Muslims to respond with support and prayer.

    [Watch Video]

    Linda Sarsour, a leading activist for Muslim equality and former executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, wrote on Facebook that Muslims and LGBTQ people have both faced discrimination and have worked together to oppose it.

    “We will not be divided. We have worked too hard for too long together. Both of our communities value civil rights, compassion, respect & dignity for all people,” she wrote.

    Smith said those bonds also exist in Orlando. “On June 12, when many of us stood together in solidarity — and I’m talking about LGBTQ leaders and local Islamic leaders — it wasn’t the first time that we met each other,” Smith said. “And a year later, they [are] continuing to do things to support the healing in the Orlando community because we know that that’s a true reflection of the values of Islam.”

    Coffin, of the Interfaith Council, said not all religious leaders in the area have sought closer ties with the LGBTQ community, and that the recent shift “doesn’t mean all problems are past. That doesn’t mean there is no prejudice and that everyone is accepting and compassionate,” he said. “But it has turned a corner, I think.”

    READ NEXT: Orlando shooting sheds light on mental health disparities in Florida’s Latino community

    ‘Every day is a different kind of struggle’

    As those conversations continue, survivors are still contending with what they saw on June 12 last year. Patience Carter, a New York University student, was on vacation in Florida when she went to Pulse with two of her friends, Tiara Parker and Akyra Murray.

    After a night of dancing, as they were preparing to leave the club, Mateen opened fire, and the the three friends ended up trapped in a bathroom with the shooter for the next several hours.

    “He walks in, you could hear his footsteps, and then he starts shooting into our bathroom,” Carter told the NewsHour Weekend. “He started shooting nonstop, like honestly nonstop. It was at a point where we were squirming and scrambling on the floor, begging him to stop shooting, because honestly people are getting shot at this point, and you can just feel wall fragments bouncing against your leg.”

    By the end of the night all three had been shot. Murray, 18, who was waiting to start college on a basketball scholarship, became the youngest victim of the rampage.

    Carter, who was shot in both legs, spent months recovering from her physical injuries.

    “I remember just having the hardest time just balancing on crutches to move myself a few steps, and now I’m speed walking down New York streets again,” she said in an interview with the NewsHour last week. “And emotionally…every day is a different kind of struggle.”

    Barbara Poma, the owner of Pulse, told the NewsHour last week that she is working with the LGBTQ community, victims’ families, and survivors to turn the now-shuttered club into a museum through the newly created onePulse Foundation.

    “For me it was a matter of being respectful of our 49 families and making sure that the people whose lives were taken would be memorialized in a way that would never be forgotten,” she said. “We need to make sure, not only us, but the whole country and the world remembers that moment.”

    Poma said she will spend much of June 12 outside of Pulse, where thousands are expected to attend a vigil.

    READ NEXT: Latinos reveal struggles of being LGBTQ in wake of Orlando shooting

    And just as before — as survivors continue to recover and friends and families mourn those lost — members of the LGBTQ Latino community have turned to each other for support.

    After the shooting, Cuevas helped to form QLatinx, a support group for queer and trans people of color affected by the shooting. As QLatinx grew from a few people to several dozen, “It became particularly important that we create space for our community to be together with the loss of this space and the devastating impact this had on the fabric of our community,” Cuevas said.

    Though they began as a space to share personal experiences, Cuevas said that QLatinx meetings have focused lately on broader issues of racial and gender equity.

    Beyond the one-year anniversary, discussing those issues and ways to take action are important to help the community heal, he said. “Healing is not just about healing emotional trauma,” he said. “It’s also about healing from systemic trauma.”

    The post After Pulse shooting, Orlando’s faith and LGBTQ groups opened dialogue appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman leaves a voting booth as Puerto Ricans head to the polls on Sunday to decide whether they want their struggling U.S. territory to become the 51st U.S. state, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo by Alvin Baez/Reuters

    A woman leaves a voting booth as Puerto Ricans head to the polls on Sunday to decide whether they want their struggling U.S. territory to become the 51st U.S. state, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo by Alvin Baez/Reuters

    A majority of Puerto Ricans voted in support of statehood in a nonbinding referendum on Sunday, according to early polling results.

    The validity of the referendum, which came amid an economic crisis that has forced the island into bankruptcy and caused the ailing government to install grim austerity measures, has been challenged by opposition parties due to a low turnout.

    The referendum, the territory’s fifth in 50 years, offered voters three choices: statehood, independence, or a continuation of the current territorial status. The U.S. Congress will ultimately decide whether to ratify the outcome that would grant Puerto Rico statehood.

    Many supporters of statehood believe the island’s territorial status is partly to blame for a decades-long fiscal crisis. Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since the Spanish-American War in 1898.

    Nearly half of the island’s 3.4 million people live in poverty, and unemployment is 12.4 percent, compared with 4.3 percent on the U.S. mainland. Last month’s declaration of bankruptcy — the first time in history a U.S. state or territory has taken the measure — has wrought strict austerity measures that have shuttered public schools and factories and frozen salaries.

    READ NEXT: ‘I will fight for my island’ — Puerto Rican artists on territory’s future

    Pedro Peurluisi, the island’s former congressional representative, is among those backing statehood. “Let’s send a loud and clear message to the United States and the entire world,” he said in a statement. “And that message is that we Puerto Ricans not only want our U.S. citizenship, but we want equal treatment.”

    Gov. Ricardo Rossello, who campaigned on the promise of statehood, has positioned statehood as part of a process of economic rehabilitation that would bring the island investment in infrastructure and business.

    Many of those who oppose statehood see the referendum as a distraction from the territory’s intractable economic problems and are also skeptical it would bring benefits. While Puerto Ricans are American citizens and contribute to Social Security and Medicare, they do not vote for the U.S. president, and their single representative in Congress has no vote. If Puerto Rico became a state, the island would be required to pay federal taxes.

    Héctor Ferrer, president of the Popular Democratic Party that embraces the island’s current status as a territory, also fears that statehood would bring a loss of Puerto Rican identity. “We will lose our autonomy,” he told The New York Times. “We will lose our culture. We will lose our language.”

    Many Puerto Ricans doubt Congress can be convinced to incorporate the island, especially in the island’s current economic condition, The New York Times reported. In 2012, the last time statehood was put up to a vote and won, Congress did not take action to make it the 51st state.

    The post Puerto Ricans vote for statehood amid economic turmoil appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Chris Hill (L), the leader of the Georgia Chapter of the III% Security Force militia, speaks to members during a field training exercise in Jackson, Georgia. Picture taken in October 2016. Photo by Justin Mitchell/Reuters

    Chris Hill (L), the leader of the Georgia Chapter of the III% Security Force militia, speaks to members during a field training exercise in Jackson, Georgia. Picture taken in October 2016. Photo by Justin Mitchell/Reuters

    JACKSON, Ga. — In the woods south of Atlanta, John and Yvette DeMaria are with about a dozen camouflage-wearing, heavily armed Americans huffing and puffing as they scramble to navigate the sprawling piece of property where they train, one weekend a month, to ward off enemies — foreign or domestic.

    The DeMarias are with the Georgia Security Force militia, whose members are relieved that Donald Trump won the presidency but believe it would be a mistake to lay down their arms just because he is in the White House. So they continue to take to the woods to be ready for whatever may come, whether it’s an economic crisis that spawns unrest or Islamic extremists carrying out attacks on American soil.

    “I started to realize that I got very angry because the system has been so abused over and over and over again, making rights out of thin air for people who don’t deserve to get anything,” said John DeMaria, who goes by the nickname Rooster J.

    While it is impossible to track all the groups that often are no more than a handful of men gathering in woods, experts says that militia activity tends to fall off under Republican presidents and ramp up under Democrats. But just as last year’s election upended conventional models, those who watch militias say life in the Trump era may not follow the same patterns.

    If anything, it could be a potential powder keg, if those feelings of having a kindred spirit in Trump erupt into a sense of betrayal if he fails to deliver on his promises.

    “What would concern me is that nobody gets more angry than a fan spurned,” said James Corcoran, a professor at Simmons College in Boston who has watched militias closely for decades and has written extensively about the movement.

    The leader of the Georgia Security Force, Chris Hill, remains deeply skeptical of Congress and worries the lawmakers will undermine Trump’s agenda: preventing him from building a wall on the Mexico border, repealing “Obamacare” and fulfilling his promise to “Make American Great Again.”

    “Even if President Trump is able to do the things that he wants to do, he’s still got Congress to contend with. Congress is the same old dog-and-pony show. All they do is fight. They’re never going to grant us more freedom,” said Hill, who goes by the nickname General BloodAgent.

    “A lot of people have let their guard down because he was elected, and I would wholeheartedly say that is a big mistake. … If anything we should use this time wisely. Like the Good Book says, a wise man prepares, a fool takes his chances.”

    Modern-day militias began to surge in the 1990s during the Clinton administration, then ebbed during the Bush years. Following a dramatic spike after the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, there are now an estimated 165 militias in the U.S., according to Ryan Lenz, a senior investigative reporter with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    It’s been more than 20 years since the Oklahoma City bombing, an attack carried out by Timothy McVeigh that left 168 dead. McVeigh sympathized with armed right-wing militia groups, which at the time, were surging in membership. But armed militias have long been active on the fringes of American society and continue to rise today. Special correspondent P.J. Tobia reports.

    For Hill and his group, the 2008 election was their defining moment, the one that signaled the U.S. was on the wrong track. They believed Obama wanted to restrict gun rights and forever alter their way of life.

    Yvette DeMaria said she and her husband were looking for “like minds” and found the Georgia Security Force through Facebook and a pastor friend who had traveled to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, with the militia to help out after fires in the Smoky Mountains devastated the region. That act of charity had moved her.

    Even before Obama was elected, the DeMarias felt the country was heading down the wrong path, with the military and law enforcement no longer cherished or revered. Yvette DeMaria said she believes protesters have been allowed to get out of control after police shootings.

    Political correctness has run amok, she said, with politicians and the courts carving out constitutional protections that strayed far from the intent of the nation’s forefathers. She laments, for example, the legalization of same-sex marriage and the transgender bathroom issue, believing they amount to a war on her Christian faith.

    “We cannot be silent anymore. We have voices. We need to rise up. We need to speak up. We need to find like minds,” Yvette DeMaria said. “We’re going to church every Sunday — but Monday through Saturday, what are we doing?”

    She and her husband found their mission and some like-minded people in the militia, which is part of the Three Percenters movement. It derives its name from the belief that just 3 percent of the colonists rose up to fight the British. They have vowed to resist any government that infringes on the U.S. Constitution.

    While focused on training, the militia is also social.

    In the woods, they use hand signals and walkie-talkies to alert the others to where and how many enemies are lurking, They then navigate obstacles made of firehoses, logs and scraps of wood, metal and string to eliminate the threats.

    The first two runs are “dry fire” exercises; the guns aren’t loaded. The last exercise of the day involves live rounds in their weapons — from AR-15s to handguns. After the targets are riddled with holes, the militia members gather around a fire at a campsite a short walk away to enjoy music and a barbecue.

    For Hill, a paralegal by day, the Trump election was a defining moment to be celebrated.

    “We’re being called Trump militia. It’s something I’m probably going to wear as a badge now,” Hill said. “I feel a connection to President Trump.”

    WATCH: Why armed militia groups are surging across the nation

    The post Under President Trump, U.S. militias not ready to lay down arms appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivers remarks at the Ethics and Compliance Initiative annual conference in Washington, D.C. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivers remarks at the Ethics and Compliance Initiative annual conference in Washington, D.C. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony to the Senate Intelligence committee Tuesday will be open to the public. Sessions is expected to face sharp questioning from his former Senate colleagues about his role in the investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russia during the 2016 election.

    The Justice Department said Monday that Sessions requested Tuesday’s committee hearing be open because he “believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him.”

    His testimony follows fired FBI Director James Comey’s riveting session before the same Senate panel last week. Comey spoke of receiving pressure from President Donald Trump to drop a probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia.

    Comey’s remarks drew an angry response from the president on Friday accusing Comey of lying.

    Trump’s aides have dodged questions about whether conversations relevant to the Russia investigation have been recorded, and so has the president. Republicans have pressed Trump to say whether he has tapes of private conversations with Comey and provide them to Congress if he does — or possibly face a subpoena.

    “I don’t understand why the president just doesn’t clear this matter up once and for all,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a member of the intelligence committee, referring to the existence of any recordings. She described Comey’s testimony as “candid” and “thorough” and said she would support a subpoena of any tapes if needed.

    Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., also a member of that committee, agreed the panel needed to hear any tapes, if they exist. “We’ve obviously pressed the White House,” he said.

    Lankford said Sessions’ testimony Tuesday will help flesh out the truth of Comey’s allegations, including Sessions’ presence at the White House in February when Trump asked to speak to Comey alone. Comey alleges that Trump then privately asked him to drop a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia.

    Comey also has said Sessions did not respond when he complained he didn’t “want to get time alone with the president again.” The Justice Department has denied that, saying Sessions stressed to Comey the need to be careful about following appropriate policies.

    Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said “there’s a real question of the propriety” of Sessions’ involvement in Comey’s dismissal, because Sessions had stepped aside from the federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign. Comey was leading that probe.

    Reed said he also wants to know if Sessions had more meetings with Russian officials as a Trump campaign adviser than have been disclosed.

    Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a member of the Intelligence committee, sent a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, urging him to investigate possible obstruction of justice by Trump in Grassley’s position as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Feinstein is the top Democrat on that panel and a member of both.

    She said Sessions should also testify before the Judiciary Committee, because it was better suited to explore legal questions of possible obstruction. Feinstein said she was especially concerned after National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers refused to answer questions from the intelligence committee about possible undue influence by Trump.

    Sessions stepped aside in March from the federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the campaign after acknowledging that he had met twice last year with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. The former senator from Alabama told lawmakers at his January confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russians during the campaign.

    Sessions has been dogged by questions about possible additional encounters with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

    As for the timing of Sessions’ recusal, Comey said the FBI expected the attorney general to take himself out of the matters under investigation weeks before he actually did. Comey declined to elaborate in an open setting.

    Collins and Feinstein spoke Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union and Lankford appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Reed was on “Fox News Sunday.”

    READ MORE: Republicans urge Trump on tapes, Sessions to testify Tuesday

    The post Jeff Sessions wants his testimony on Tuesday open to public appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Molly Riley/Reuters

    Photo by Molly Riley/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday struck down part of an unusual law that treats fathers and mothers differently when it comes to conferring citizenship on children born outside the U.S.

    The 8-0 ruling affects a law that applies to children born abroad to one parent who is an American and one who isn’t. The law made it tougher for children of unwed American fathers to gain citizenship themselves.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the gender line Congress drew “is incompatible with the Constitution’s guarantee of the equal protection of the laws to all persons.”

    She said the law was based on flawed assumptions that unwed mothers are the sole guardians of children born outside marriage and stereotypes that most men care little about children born out of wedlock.

    The case involves Luis Ramon Morales-Santana, a New York resident born in the Dominican Republic to an unwed U.S. citizen father and a Dominican mother. He challenged the law and asserted he is a U.S. citizen after authorities sought to deport him following convictions for robbery and attempted murder.

    Under the law, a child born outside the United States to an unwed citizen father and a non-citizen mother can become a U.S. citizen at birth if the father lived in the U.S. for five years, with at least two of those years coming after the age of 14.

    But an American mother must only have lived in the U.S. continuously for one year before giving birth to a child to meet the requirement.

    A federal appeals court struck down the law and said the one-year period must apply to both unwed fathers and mothers. The Obama administration appealed.

    While the court struck down the gender differences in the law, Ginsburg said the longer five-year period should continue apply to both mothers and fathers until Congress decides on a different length of time. That means Morales-Santana is still unable to win his citizenship case.

    The government had urged the justices to uphold the law’s gender-based differences. The Justice Department said Congress wanted to make sure there is a strong connection between a child born overseas and the United States before granting citizenship. The law also considered the practices of other countries.

    READ MORE: Justices will review police use of cellphone tower data

    The post Supreme Court strikes down gender differences in citizenship law appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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