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- 06/27/17--06:55: _President Trump tak...
- 06/27/17--07:06: _Senate leaders scra...
- 06/27/17--07:32: _WATCH LIVE: Rex Til...
- 06/27/17--13:16: _Why some elite publ...
- 06/27/17--13:20: _The GOP health bill...
- 06/27/17--13:23: _Three Chicago polic...
- 06/27/17--13:48: _5 important stories...
- 06/27/17--13:59: _This human protein ...
- 06/27/17--15:13: _GOP leaders delay S...
- 06/27/17--15:15: _Jason Isbell’s ‘Nas...
- 06/27/17--15:17: _WATCH: McConnell sa...
- 06/27/17--15:20: _Walking the Silk Ro...
- 06/27/17--15:25: _Why the NCAA is inv...
- 06/27/17--15:30: _Part 2 — Billionair...
- 06/27/17--15:35: _White House warns S...
- 06/27/17--15:40: _Sen. Rand Paul: Sen...
- 06/27/17--15:45: _News Wrap: Cyberatt...
- 06/27/17--15:50: _Lacking enough GOP ...
- 06/28/17--10:28: _Texas Medicaid cuts...
- 06/28/17--10:54: _New biography shows...
- 06/27/17--06:55: President Trump takes swipe at CNN following resignations
- 06/27/17--07:06: Senate leaders scramble to save GOP health care bill amid defections
- 06/27/17--13:16: Why some elite public schools earn a failing grade in diversity
- 06/27/17--13:20: The GOP health bill has big tax cuts for rich, not much for others
- 06/27/17--13:48: 5 important stories you may have missed
- Marriage is only between a man and a woman
- Only married men and women should be having sex
- A person’s gender is assigned at birth
- 06/27/17--13:59: This human protein may unfurl toxic tangles in Alzheimer’s disease
- 06/27/17--15:13: GOP leaders delay Senate health care vote. What happened?
- CBO: The Congressional Budget Office report, which came out Monday and found that the bill would cause 22 million people to lose their insurance, was clearly a massive factor. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told me he read the report at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, and then called to suggest that CBO staffers join all Republican senators at their lunch later on in the day to answer questions. (They did, and that was the bulk of the 90-minute meeting.) Other senators echoed concerns over CBO’s conclusions that millions of people, especially those making under $30,000, would no longer have health insurance — and that deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for many people would skyrocket. The bill was already sliding down hill when CBO released its report. The nonpartisan finding only accelerated the process.
- The opposition: On nearly every level, Republican senators were met with a tidal wave of opposition this week. Constituents and organized groups made sure senators’ phones were ringing off the hooks. Email drives hit their inboxes. Most of the medical community – including doctors, nurses and patient groups — whipped itself into a near frenzy of opposition. And groups lobbying for serious medical business concerns also put on a full court press opposing the bill. Why? Out of a fear that fewer people could pay for their services under the bill.
- Other developments: Senators were also not ready to vote for multiple reasons. The votes were just not there, as the NewsHour and others reported. But neither was a basic understanding of the bill, the details of which were not released until late last week. Several senators were clearly still grappling with the content of the bill. An example: When I spoke to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, around 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, he told me he had not decided how he would vote yet because he hadn’t yet read the bill. He then pointed down to the bill in his hand, opened up to one of the first pages. Grassley was reading it while walking to the lunch with his fellow Republicans.
- What’s next? The July Fourth congressional recess is coming, or is at least scheduled for next week. Senate Republicans could regroup over the break and then return with a new plan. But they want to move more quickly than that. Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., told me GOP leaders want a revised draft done by the end of this week.
- POTUS factor? There are conflicting schools of thought on President Donald Trump’s impact on the legislation. Multiple people echoed various versions of the same concern: That Trump would agree with the issues that senators who oppose the bill have, but in the end be unable to deliver and address all their concerns in the final bill. The uncertainty pointed to Trump’s still-evolving relationship with Congress. Several senators told me that they felt Trump would understand their concerns better than the Senate GOP leadership has. One the other hand, others, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., insisted that a significant push from the White House is needed now to help Republicans reach a consensus.
- 06/27/17--15:17: WATCH: McConnell says ‘good progress’ made on Senate health bill
- 06/27/17--15:20: Walking the Silk Road, where globalization got started
- 06/27/17--15:25: Why the NCAA is investigating Baylor’s sexual assault scandal
- 06/27/17--15:45: News Wrap: Cyberattack hits European companies, Ukraine power grid
- 06/27/17--15:50: Lacking enough GOP votes, Senate pushes back health bill
- 06/28/17--10:28: Texas Medicaid cuts leave special needs kids without therapy
- 06/28/17--10:54: New biography shows a side of Prince Charles we’ve not seen
NEW YORK — President Donald Trump used the resignations of three CNN journalists involved in a retracted Russia-related story to resume his attack on the network’s credibility Tuesday.
The story was about a supposed investigation into a pre-inaugural meeting between a Trump associate and the head of a Russian investment fund. CNN accepted the journalists’ resignations Monday.
Trump wrote in a Tuesday morning tweet, “Wow, CNN had to retract big story on ‘Russia,’ with 3 employees forced to resign. What about all the other phony stories they do? FAKE NEWS!”
A message seeking comment was left at CNN.
Wow, CNN had to retract big story on "Russia," with 3 employees forced to resign. What about all the other phony stories they do? FAKE NEWS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2017
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2017
The story was posted on the network’s website Thursday and was removed, with all links disabled, Friday night. CNN immediately apologized to Anthony Scaramucci, the Trump transition team member who was reported to be involved in the meeting.
The story’s author, Thomas Frank, was among those who resigned, according to a network executive who requested anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss personnel issues. Also losing their jobs were Eric Lichtblau, an assistant managing editor in CNN’s Washington bureau, and Lex Haris, head of the investigations unit.
CNN, in initially taking down the story, said it didn’t meet its editorial standards. The episode is a damaging blow for a network that Trump has frequently derided as “fake news,” and for a story that never even made it onto any of CNN’s television networks.
The story had been quickly questioned both internally and externally, including by the conservative site Breitbart News. It was determined that the story was posted without going through the expected checks and balances for a story of such sensitivity, the executive said.
The failure to follow proper procedures is what led to the resignations, the CNN executive said.
It’s not immediately clear what in the story is factually incorrect, or whether CNN will continue to report on the issue. The retracted story had said the Senate investigations committee was looking into a Jan. 16 discussion between Scaramucci and Kirill Dmitriev, whose Russian Direct Investment Fund guides investments by U.S. entities in Russia. Scaramucci, in the story, said he exchanged pleasantries in a restaurant with Dmitriev.
The report also said that two Democratic senators wanted to know whether Scaramucci had indicated in the meeting whether sanctions against Russia would be lifted, a decision that could impact the investment fund.
Following the retraction, Scaramucci tweeted that CNN “did the right thing. Classy move. Apology accepted. Everyone makes mistakes. Moving on.”
Haris, in a statement to CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” noted that he’d been with CNN since 2001, “and am sure about one thing: This is a news organization that prizes accuracy and fairness above all else. I am leaving, but will carry those principles wherever I go.”
Associated Press writer Roderick Hicks in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
The post President Trump takes swipe at CNN following resignations appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Senate leaders scrambled Tuesday to rescue their health care bill, in deepening jeopardy as opposition from rebellious Republicans intensified. The defections loomed as Congress’ nonpartisan budget referee said the measure would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026 than President Barack Obama’s law.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was hoping to staunch his party’s rebellion, a day after the Congressional Budget Office released its report. He’s been aiming at winning Senate passage this week, before a weeklong July 4 recess that leaders worry opponents will use to weaken support for the legislation.
The CBO analysis suggested some ammunition GOP leaders could use, saying the Senate bill would cut federal deficits by $202 billion more over the coming decade than the version the House approved in May. Senate leaders could use some of those additional savings to attract moderate votes by making Medicaid and other provisions more generous, though conservatives would rather use that money to reduce red ink.
“You don’t want to bring something up unless you know you have the votes to pass it. But I also think we may not know if we have the votes to pass it until we bring it up,” said No. 3 GOP Senate leader John Thune of South Dakota.
The projected boost in uninsured people fed concerns by moderate Republican lawmakers that the Senate measure, annulling parts of Obama’s 2010 overhaul, was too drastic. Yet conservatives were unhappy that it didn’t do enough to dismantle Obama’s law and lower premiums by repealing coverage requirements, leaving McConnell with little margin for error — the bill fails if three of the 52 GOP senators vote no.
The 22 million extra Americans were just 1 million fewer than the number the budget office estimated would become uninsured under the House version. President Donald Trump has called the House bill “mean” and prodded senators to produce a package with more “heart.”
Every major hospital group has criticized the health care bill crafted by Senate Republicans, especially for deep reductions in Medicaid spending for the poor and those with disabilities. At the Spotlight Health Conference at the Aspen Institute, Judy Woodruff talked to Kenneth Davis, president and CEO of the Mount Sinai Health System, to get his take on the health care bill and more.
Minutes after the report’s release, three GOP senators threatened to oppose a procedural vote to begin debate expected Wednesday — enough to derail the legislation.
Moderate Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she would vote no. She tweeted that she favors a bipartisan effort to fix Obama’s statute but added, “CBO analysis shows Senate bill won’t do it.”
Conservative Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he would oppose that motion unless the bill was changed. And fellow conservative Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said he had “a hard time believing” he’d have enough information to back that motion this week.
Moderate Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., on Friday said he’d oppose the procedural motion without alterations.
Those rebels were just part of McConnell’s problem. Two other conservatives — Texas’ Ted Cruz and Utah’s Mike Lee — have also said they’d vote no without revisions, and several other moderates have expressed worries about the bill’s Medicaid cuts and reductions in people with coverage.
The budget office report said the Senate bill’s coverage losses would especially affect people between ages 50 and 64, before they qualify for Medicare, and with incomes below 200 percent of poverty level, or around $30,300 for an individual.
In one example, the report says that in 2026 under Obama’s law, a 64-year-old earning $26,500 would pay premiums amounting to $1,700 a year, after subsidies. Under the Senate bill, that person would pay $6,500, partly because insurers would be able to charge older adults more.
The Senate plan would end the tax penalty that law imposes on people who don’t buy insurance, in effect erasing Obama’s so-called individual mandate, and on larger businesses that don’t offer coverage to workers.
It would let states ease Obama’s requirements that insurers cover certain specified services like substance abuse treatments, and eliminate $700 billion worth of taxes over a decade, CBO said, largely on wealthier people and medical companies that Obama’s law used to expand coverage.
It would cut Medicaid, which provides health insurance to over 70 million poor and disabled people, by $772 billion through 2026 by capping its overall spending and phasing out Obama’s expansion of the program. Of the 22 million people losing health coverage, 15 million would be Medicaid recipients.
CBO said that under the bill, most insurance markets around the country would be stable before 2020. It said that similar to the House bill, average premiums around the country would be higher over the next two years — including about 20 percent higher in 2018 than under Obama’s statute — but lower beginning in 2020.
But the office said that overall, the Senate legislation would increase out of pocket costs for deductibles and copayments. That’s because standard policies would be skimpier than currently offered under Obama’s law, covering a smaller share of expected medical costs.
In another troublesome finding for the legislation, the budget office warned that in some rural areas, either no insurer would be willing participate in the individual market or the policies offered would be prohibitively expensive. Rural America was a stronghold for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
Vice President Mike Pence invited four GOP senators to dinner Tuesday to discuss the bill, his office said: Lee and Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.
Associated Press writers Erica Werner, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Ken Thomas and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.
The post Senate leaders scramble to save GOP health care bill amid defections appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is poised to declare China among the world’s worst offenders on human trafficking, U.S. officials said Monday, putting the world’s most populous country in the same category as North Korea, Zimbabwe and Syria.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser, will present the annual Trafficking in Persons Report to Congress at 10:30 a.m. ET today. Watch their remarks in the player above.
China’s downgrade is to be announced Tuesday at the State Department when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson unveils the annual Trafficking in Persons Report to Congress, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to comment publicly ahead of the announcement and demanded anonymity. Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser, planned to attend the ceremony.
The determination marks the first major, public rebuke of China’s human rights record by the Trump administration, which has generally avoided direct, public criticism of Beijing while seeking its cooperation in combatting North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. The report is likely to draw strong protest from China’s communist government.
China will be listed under “Tier 3,” the ranking system’s lowest category, which applies to countries failing to meet minimum standards to prevent human trafficking or making significant improvement efforts. Other countries that have recently been on that list include Sudan, Iran and Haiti.
In last year’s annual report, the U.S. placed China on its “watch list” of countries that aren’t meeting minimum standards and could be downgraded to the lowest classification. The U.S. described China as devoting “sufficient resources” to a written plan for addressing trafficking. But it said that the Asian power hadn’t increased its anti-trafficking efforts from the previous year.
It wasn’t immediately clear what changes are leading the Trump administration to downgrade China to the lowest tier. The State Department declined to confirm the designation or to comment ahead of the report’s release Tuesday, saying it “does not discuss details of internal deliberations.”
In the 2016 report, the U.S. called China a “source, destination and transit country” for forced labor and sex trafficking. That report described internal migrants in China as particularly vulnerable, with some forced to work with little government oversight in factories and coal mines. It said men, women and children from other Asian countries and from Africa also are exploited.
The report also raised concerns about forced begging in China that particularly affects children. It said that girls and women from rural areas are at higher risk of being recruited for sex trafficking in cities.
Countries placed in Tier 3 can be penalized with sanctions, including the withholding of non-humanitarian aid and assistance that could affect agreements with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Officials from countries designated in that tier can be barred from participating in U.S. government educational and cultural exchange programs.
However, the president retains the authority to waive the sanctions in U.S. national interest or if the penalties could adversely affect vulnerable populations. In practice, countries given the worst designation have often been granted waivers under previous U.S. administrations.
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., one of several lawmakers who had pressed the Trump administration to downgrade China, praised the move but urged the administration to follow through by imposing sanctions. He said he hoped the downgrade would “lead to reforms that will save women and children’s lives and ensure that Chinese exports are not made with slave labor.”
Ivanka Trump planned during Tuesday’s ceremony to honor eight people from around the world “whose tireless efforts have made a lasting impact on the fight against modern slavery,” the State Department said. She wrote on Twitter that she was “honored to join the Department of State” for the report’s release.
“It’s time to #EndTrafficking,” she wrote.
Though Ivanka Trump has emphasized human trafficking issues as an adviser to her father, her fashion brand has come under scrutiny over its work with a Chinese company that produced shoes for her brand and others. New York-based China Labor Watch has accused that company of excessive overtime, low wages and verbal abuse of employees, though not of human trafficking. The brand says it stopped using the factory months ago. Ivanka Trump has stepped back from running the company, but retains ownership.
The post WATCH LIVE: Rex Tillerson, Ivanka Trump to unveil annual human trafficking report appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The jewels in many an urban school district’s crown are their exam schools, competitive public schools that base enrollment on test scores. With a school like New York’s Stuyvesant, Boston Latin or Walter Payton (in Chicago) on their transcript, students are grouped with other, high-achieving peers, receive rigorous instruction and complete several Advanced Placement courses – all helping to clear a straight path to college and career success.
Working for over 25 years at the K-12 and higher education levels (as both a faculty member and administrator), I’ve seen this skewed enrollment pattern play out over and over again. However, several elite U.S. colleges and universities are embracing new admissions policies – policies that, if also implemented by top-tier exam schools, could promote greater access for all students.
The minority enrollment gap
When it comes to student diversity, elite high schools leave much to be desired.
Take New York City, for example. This past spring, the city’s eight exam schools (among them Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech and Bronx Science) accepted 5,078 rising ninth grade students solely based on test scores. This, despite New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign promise to base admissions to all schools on more “holistic” factors.
Black and Latino students will make up only 10 percent of this year’s incoming class – though they account for 70 percent of public school students in New York City. At Stuyvesant this fall, only 13 students out of almost 1,000 incoming freshmen will be black.
Even with recent efforts to improve racial and ethnic diversity among its exam schools, Boston has also faced enrollment equity challenges. At Boston’s flagship public exam high school, Boston Latin School, the student body remains significantly white and Asian. The school’s incoming seventh grade class, for example, is only eight percent black and 14 percent Latino, in contrast to district-wide rates of approximately 32 percent black and 42 percent Latino.
Rethinking admissions policies
As long as admission to exam schools is based solely on test scores or grades, this pattern may very well continue indefinitely.
Black and Latino students are just as capable and deserving of exam classroom seats as other students. However, they must contend with a range of factors that often don’t impact their nonminority counterparts, including poor-quality instruction at lower grades; unequal access to tutoring, test prep and enrichment; low placement of elementary students into advanced classes; and unconscious bias. Minority students also can contend with stereotype threat, a phenomenon where they conform – often unintentionally – to negative stereotypes about their race’s ability to perform well within academic settings.
These factors can all negatively affect success on the standardized tests and grades that exam schools use for admissions.
A solution to breaking this pattern may come from several elite colleges and universities that are rethinking their admissions policies. Led by Making Caring Common, a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, these institutions are piloting new admissions policies that focus less on numbers and more on “ethical engagement.”
In a report released in January 2016, Making Caring Common argued for elite colleges and universities to include opportunities for candidates to submit authentic demonstrations of empathy, service to others and commitment to the common good as part of their application. They contend that these important values are worth promoting to students and families. In fact, research suggests that strength of character and “grit” are key determinants of future academic and career success.
Importantly, these new metrics could weigh social and emotional attributes that students across all backgrounds could exemplify in some way.
A movement gaining traction
Since the report’s release, over 175 colleges and universities – including Harvard, Yale, Boston College, MIT, Michigan State and the University of Chicago – have endorsed this admissions framework, with the goal of increasing student diversity. Boston public schools and several Boston-area private schools have endorsed the report as well.
Yet Boston, New York and other cities with exam schools must now “walk the walk” by implementing concrete approaches, such as asking for examples of ethical engagement or empathy as part of the application process. A school might give special consideration, for example, to candidates who worked to support their families at an early age, served as caregivers to younger siblings, organized efforts to support a needy classmate or led a food drive to help a local shelter.
Exam schools across the country could team with Making Caring Common and its growing list of higher education partners to determine how best to validly and reliably collect, evaluate and weight these types of student experiences.
If this new strategy to promote enrollment equity is gaining traction at Harvard and Yale, it should be considered by exam high schools as well. Otherwise, future incoming classes at Stuyvesant and Boston Latin will continue to look much the same.
The post Why some elite public schools earn a failing grade in diversity appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Millionaires would get tax cuts averaging $52,000 a year from the Senate Republicans’ health bill while middle-income families would get about $260, according to a new analysis of the foundering bill.
The analysis was done by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. It found that half of the tax cuts would go to families making more than $500,000 a year.
Senate Republican leaders were scrambling Tuesday to rally support for the bill but had to delay a vote this week because it lacked adequate support. The disputes, however, were not related to tax provisions.
Moderate Republicans were concerned that too many people would lose health coverage under the bill while conservatives said it wouldn’t do enough to reduce premiums.
The Republican health bill would repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health law. The law imposed a series of tax increases targeting mainly high-income families. The Senate Republican bill would repeal the taxes, though not all at once.
“The Senate bill would cut annual household taxes by about $670 on average. But the variation among income groups would be very wide,” Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center wrote on the group’s website.
“Much like the House-passed American Health Care Act, the Senate leadership’s health bill includes a huge tax cut that mostly benefits the nation’s highest-income households,” Gleckman said.
For example, families making $20,000 a year would get an average tax cut of about $200. But the super rich, those making $5 million or more, would receive an average tax cut of nearly $250,000.
The bill would repeal a tax on wealthy investors, saving them about $172 billion over the next decade.
Obama’s health law enacted an additional 3.8 percent tax on investment income for married couples making more than $250,000 a year and individuals making more than $125,000. The Senate bill would repeal the tax this year.
The bill would also repeal a new Medicare payroll tax on high-income families, saving them about $59 billion over the next decade. Obama’s health law enacted an additional 0.9 percent payroll tax on wages above $250,000 for married couples and above $125,000 for individuals. The Senate bill would repeal the tax in 2023.
For families with lower incomes, the bill would repeal a tax penalty for people who do not get health insurance, saving them $38 billion over the next decade.
The analysis looked at the tax savings for families in 2026, once the Republican bill would be fully phased in. The analysis did not include the tax credits that people would receive to help buy health insurance.
Those credits would benefit many low- and middle-income families, assuming that wealthier taxpayers would get health insurance through their employers.
The post The GOP health bill has big tax cuts for rich, not much for others appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
A Chicago grand jury has indicted three police officers on conspiracy charges, alleging they interfered with an independent investigation into the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
Officers Thomas Gaffney, David March and Joseph Walsh were all charged with conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice in their roles “to conceal the true facts of the events” surrounding the Oct. 20, 2014, fatal shooting of McDonald, according to the indictment filed Tuesday. A Cook County special grand jury had approved the indictment Monday.
“The indictment makes clear that these defendants did more than merely obey an unofficial ‘code of silence,’ rather it alleges that they lied about what occurred to prevent independent criminal investigators from learning the truth,” special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes, appointed last summer, said in a statement.
In October, Chicago officer Jason Van Dyke shot the black teen 16 times. The fatal encounter was caught on the squad car’s dash cam. The footage was eventually made public in 2015 under orders from a judge and after months of calls for its release.
Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder. He still awaits trial, and, if convicted, faces a sentence of 20 years to life.
The post Three Chicago police officers indicted for cover-up in shooting death of Laquan McDonald appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
In a week fraught with murky developments over the GOP Senate health care bill, President Donald Trump sort of ended a 40-day goose chase into whether there were taped recordings between him and ex-FBI Director James Comey.
Emphasis on “sort of.”
After first suggesting the possibility of these Comey tapes existing, the president last week took to Twitter to say “I have no idea” such tapes existed — thus, still leaving the possibility they still could exist. (They probably don’t.) Lordy!
The president’s fondness for innuendo is able to capture many print headlines and television “Breaking News” chyrons. Here are five important stories that could have easily been bumped by the spigot of news out of Washington.
1. The lessons learned from last week’s police shooting trials
Three separate trials involving high-profile police shootings ended last week. None concluded in a conviction for the officers who fatally shot three black men: Philando Castile, Sylville Smith and Sam DuBose. The NewsHour compiled the many updates from last week to these cases and more.
Part of this isn’t terribly surprising. Criminal justice experts have said it’s difficult to secure a conviction for these trials.
Bodycam footage, too, has been central to the investigations of several of these shooting deaths, but the videos do not point to clear answers for jurors. Or, as The New York Times reported, “Some jurors in these cases have said that, videos aside, they had been swayed most of all by officers’ assertions that they feared for their lives. And in some cases, the videos themselves do not fully show operative moments, leaving jurors to fill in the blanks.”
Why it’s important
To write about police brutality cases is to parse all the minutiae that make up the several seconds it took a law enforcement officer to fatally shoot a minority.
This week, the jury in the case of the officer who shot Philando Castile last July was presented with court documents, a slowed-down dashcam video, the officer’s testimony and both sides’ arguments which sought to legitimize or delegitimize Diamond Reynolds’ famous Facebook live stream of the shooting’s aftermath.
Lost in all the back-and-forth was how mundane Castile’s afternoon was before he was pulled over by Officer Jeronimo Yanez, a particular point drawn out by Elise C. Boddie, a Rutgers professor, for The New York Times.
“[Castile] was just running errands with his family,” Boddie wrote. “It’s this denial of the right to simply be — the perpetual state of otherness — that dangerously shadows black people.”
Boddie also reminded readers that this is nothing new, a reality with firm roots before, during and after the Jim Crow era.
“Throughout history, black people have been criminalized for everyday actions that most whites take for granted,” she added, citing Tamir Rice playing in a park, Akai Gurley taking the stairs after waiting for an unreliable elevator.
I’m reminded of Amadou Diallo who was fatally shot by four police officers in 1999 at the doorway of his Bronx apartment building. The officers shot 41 times. Nineteen of those shots struck Diallo. All the officers were acquitted of all charges.
Why do so few trials of police officers charged in on-duty shootings end in convictions? Most recently, the officers who shot and killed Philando Castile and Sylville Smith were acquitted by juries who saw video of the fatal encounters. John Yang discusses issues of race and deadly force with David Klinger of the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Brittany Packnett, co-founder of Campaign Zero.
One of the videos Minnesota police released related to the Castile case was squad car footage of Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter, who witnessed the shooting while in the back seat of Castile’s car, now in the back seat of a police vehicle.
A distraught Reynolds, who’s also handcuffed, is comforted by her daughter.
“Mom, please stop cussing and screaming ’cause I don’t want you to get shooted,” the girl is heard saying in the video.
Here’s Boddie again: “The problems we face are not only about the glaring wrongs of the criminal justice system, the structural barriers and persistent inequities that shut out opportunities, but the grinding daily hassles that deny black people the ability to just be.”
2. Federal appeals court lifts injunction to Mississippi’s anti-LGBTQ law
A federal appeals court last week lifted an injunction on a Mississippi law that lets business owners and government workers cite religious beliefs to deny services to LGBTQ individuals. It is widely considered the nation’s most aggressive state response to the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide.
Judges decided the plaintiffs had no standing, meaning Mississippi’s law had not harmed them enough to justify their filing a lawsuit. In 2016, a federal judge placed an injunction on the Mississippi law, HB 1523, to stop it from going into effect.
“None of these plaintiffs has clearly shown an injury-in-fact, so none has standing,” the judges said in their written decision.
In a statement, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said he was pleased with the ruling: “As I have said all along, the legislation is not meant to discriminate against anyone, but simply prevents government interference with the constitutional right to exercise sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The law has not yet gone into effect, and further litigation is pending.
Why it’s important
The Fifth Circuit Court’s decision comes at a time when public opinion in support of same-sex marriage is on the rise. According to 2017 polling data from the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of U.S. adults said they were in favor of same-sex marriage, a significant increase since 2001 when 35 percent of Americans said gay and lesbian couples should be able to marry legally.
In the 2015 case Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal nationwide. Meanwhile, conservative groups pushed religious freedom laws that critics say discriminate against same-sex couples in Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee and other states, including Indiana, where then-Gov. Mike Pence scaled back a version of the controversial law.
In Mississippi, the law protected people with “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Among these beliefs:
The law allows business owners, school counselors or wedding venue owners to deny services to same-sex couples if doing so violates the provider’s religious beliefs. Gov. Bryant tweeted that the law “does not limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizen of this state.”
Attorney Roberta Kaplan represents Susan Hrostowski, an Episcopalian vicar and lifelong Mississippian, her wife, Kathryn Garner, and their 18-year-old son in the lawsuit, and she spoke on behalf of her client. Hrostowski declined the NewsHour’s request for comment. Plaintiffs in the case have asked for a hearing with all Fifth Circuit Court judges.
If Hrostowski and Garner wanted to celebrate their anniversary at a restaurant, Kaplan said the law would allow a restaurant owner to deny the couple dinner without fear of a discrimination lawsuit. According to Kaplan, the law defines LGBTQ individuals as “second-class citizens.”
“It’s flatly un-American,” she said. “That’s not what this country stands for.”
3. The debate over private prisons in the U.S.
Sometime during the last push of “tough-on-crime” laws, the federal prison population increased by nearly 800 percent between 1980 and 2013. The increase in federal inmates far outstripped the capacities of the nation’s federal prisons. This led to overcrowding that compelled the Bureau of Prisons to increasingly rely on private prisons.
However, in August, the Justice Department released a report that, among other concerns, cited a declining inmate population, which has prompted questions over the need for these for-profit components in the criminal justice system.
Why it’s important
The Obama administration last year announced it would phase out privately-run prisons, citing little benefits to public safety along with higher rates of assault and violence. The Trump administration reversed that decision while pointing to potential increases in crime and issues of overcrowding, resurfacing a debate about which strategy is better. NewsHour Weekend’s Ivette Feliciano reports.
NewsHour Weekend covered the push-pull effect the 2016 election had on the debate over private prisons and how effective they are in the current environment. The Obama administration had announced plans to phase out the country’s use of private for-profit prisons.
In a memo last year, ex-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates cited higher levels of violence at these private facilities, saying, “Private prisons served an important role during a difficult period, but time has shown that they compare poorly to our own Bureau facilities.”
Yates also pointed to a declining number of federal inmates since 2013 that helped drive the administration’s decision.
But, with a new president, the policy shifted to a much more favorable outlook for private prisons. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo in February that supplanted Yates’ from late last year.
Sessions said the previous decision to phase out private prisons “impaired the Bureau’s ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system.”
4. SeaWorld reveals it is under federal investigation, as the company continues to be dogged by “Blackfish” fallout
SeaWorld revealed last week that it is under investigation by two U.S. federal agencies concerning issues related to CNN’s 2013 documentary, “Blackfish.”
Officials from both the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission opened separate investigations into “disclosures and public statements” made by the company and its executives, according to a SEC report filed in June.
The statements in question concern those given on or before August 2014, including those that concern the “impact of the ‘Blackfish’ documentary” and trading in the SeaWorld’s securities, the report continued.
Elsewhere in the same filing, SeaWorld stated it “has cooperated with these government inquiries and intends to continue to cooperate with any government requests or inquiries.” The company also said it has organized a special counsel to tackle the investigation.
Why it’s important
The CNN documentary told the story of a captive killer whale named Tilikum, who after years of captivity, fatally attacked his then-trainer, Dawn Brancheau, in February 2010.
The film highlighted the controversial history of orca captivity and led to public backlash from animal activists over the treatment of the killer whales. SeaWorld has denounced the film’s accusations of animal mistreatment.
However, in March 2016, SeaWorld issued a declaration to cease orca breeding.
“SeaWorld has introduced more than 400 million guests to orcas, and we are proud of our part in contributing to the human understanding of these animals,” said Joel Manby, president and CEO of SeaWorld, in a statement. “By making this the last generation of orcas in our care and reimagining how guests will experience these beautiful animals, we are fulfilling our mission of providing visitors to our parks with experiences that matter,” he added.
As the park phases out its orca shows, SeaWorld now has plans to open entertainment venues in Asia and the Middle East, along with a second Sesame Street-themed amusement park in the U.S. by 2021.
The overall ramifications from the release of “Blackfish” vary subjectively. The marine entertainment industry saw a 84 percent drop in net second-quarter income — from $37.4 million in 2014 to $5.8 million in 2015, The UK-based newspaper The Independent reported. Various protests from PETA and other animal activist groups have heavily criticized SeaWorld for keeping orcas in captivity.
5. Judge in Madrid orders the body of surrealist Salvador Dali to be exhumed for a paternity test
Salvador Dali was no stranger to controversy. In fact, he reveled in it.
Now, 28 years after his death, he’s the focus of a paternity suit.
A Spanish court has ordered that the surrealist painter’s physical remains be exhumed to help resolve a paternity claim. A court in Madrid ruled that the “DNA study of the painter’s corpse is necessary due to the lack of other biological or personal remains with which to perform the comparative study,” the Guardian reported.
The foundation that manages the artist’s estate opposes the decision.
Maria Pilar Abel Martinez, a tarot card reader from the Spanish city of Girona, filed the claim back in 2015, saying she was the result of an extramarital affair between her mother and the artist in 1955. Girona is close to Figueres, Dali’s hometown, located in the northeastern region of Catalonia. Dali was buried there after he died from heart problems in 1989.
As BBC pointed out, Martinez told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo that she resembled Dali enough that the “only thing I’m missing is a mustache.” She also said her mother would repeat the claim that Dali was her father to her and others.
The alleged affair would have happened when Dali was married to Helena Diakanoff Devulina, more famously known as Gala, who was the muse for several of his paintings. The couple was thought to have an unconventional marriage and didn’t have any children of their own. (Gala did have a daughter from a previous marriage.)
Martinez’s lawyer said there’s no current timetable for digging up Dali’s corpse, but that it could happen as soon as July, BBC reported.
Why it’s important
Dali left his estate to the Spanish state. According to several media reports, if proven to be the true heir as Dali’s daughter, Martinez would have rights to the artist’s surname and a part of the estate.
The Dali Foundation said it was preparing an appeal to the Madrid court’s decision that “will be lodged in the coming days.”
A human protein — called CyP40 — can untangle the neurodegenerative clumps that characterize Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, scientists reported Tuesday in the journal PLoS Biology. The findings may guide new therapeutic avenues for these conditions.
“We were surprised that CyP40 could disaggregate the tangles,” Laura Blair, a biologist at the University of South Florida and senior author of the study, said because very few human proteins can take these clumps and undo them.
In Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, certain proteins in the brain stick together in toxic, knotted clumps that cause cognitive decline. One example in Alzheimer’s disease is tau protein, an often overshadowed counterpart to the more heavily studied amyloid beta protein.
In this study, mice genetically modified to display features of Alzheimer’s disease showed fewer tau tangles and improved memory after gene therapy with CyP40. CyP40 is a human enzyme that normally helps healthy proteins mold into useful shapes, but also unfolds and degrades ones that deform over time.
These genetically modified mice begin to accumulate “sticky” forms of tau after one month of age and show nerve cell loss by three months. Tau tangles start to appear in five or six months’ time. The researchers delivered CyP40 to the hippocampus — a memory region in the brain — of six-month-old mice, which reduced brain cell loss.
Toxic tau takes on a shape with multiple hairpin-like turns, similar to switchbacks on a hiking trail squished on top of each other. The scientists wondered if enzymes like CyP40, which can undo these kinks in normal proteins, could also unravel the snarled knots of tau.
To observe this process, they squirted CyP40 protein into a petri dish with tau tangles, and then examined the mixture under an electron microscope. They saw that CyP40 not only reduced the tangles’ size, but dramatically changed their shape.
Going further, the scientists repeated this experiment, but replaced tau with one of two other proteins that tangle in neurodegenerative disease: alpha-synuclein in Parkinson’s disease and amyloid beta in Alzheimer’s disease. They found Cyp40 could break down clumps of alpha-synuclein, but not amyloid beta ones.
Based on their results, the team thinks that CyP40 untangles tau and alpha synuclein proteins by attaching to their hairpin turns, which amyloid beta lacks, and unbends them.
Blair noted some limitations in their work. For example, while the mouse model mimics Alzheimer’s disease, the rodents produce a different form of tau, compared to what’s found in the human disease. It’s also unclear how a similar gene therapy would be delivered to humans.
But while replicating this work in humans is years away, Blair hopes their research provides a deeper understanding of the biology of tau and alpha-synuclein that will eventually lead to clinical advances and earlier diagnoses.
“If we understand which kinds of tau are more likely to aggregate and form neurotoxic entities, then we can know which patients are more likely to be at risk to develop this disease,” Blair said. “It’s why we go to work everyday.”
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Senate Republican leaders had hoped to start the voting process for the Better Care Reconciliation Act on Wednesday. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pulled the 142-page bill — which would make sweeping changes to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act — from consideration on Tuesday after it was clear he did not have enough support in the Senate GOP caucus.
The move was a reminder of the impossible legislative tangle McConnell and Republicans face as they struggle to fulfill a years-long promise to roll back former President Barack Obama’s health care reform.
So instead of holding a vote, Republicans are now regrouping and rewriting the bill. What exactly happened? Here’s what Capitol Hill Producer Julie Percha and I found after talking with dozens of senators and staffers across three different buildings today:
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Nashville has long been considered the beating heart of the country music world, but the new album “The Nashville Sound” by Jason Isbell is infusing the genre with rock, folk and blues.
The Grammy Award winner has turned heads with his lyrics, which this time around address topics like poverty, race, and love.
Jeffrey Brown recently joined Isbell on the first stop of his international tour.
JEFFREY BROWN: In his song “The Last of My Kind,” Jason Isbell creates a character based on people he grew up around in rural Northern Alabama who fear how the world is changing.
JASON ISBELL, Singer-songwriter and Guitarist: A lot of people that I grew up with, went to school with in Alabama, and a lot of people in my family who told me growing up that cities were terrible places and anything outside of our little circle was scary and dangerous and frightening.
And I thought about the effect that had on people, when you start to believe that, and you let yourself be so afraid of other people and the outside world, that you never feel tethered, you never feel a connection with the rest of humanity.
So, I wrote that song based on that kind of fear.
JEFFREY BROWN: In both ballads and hard-charging rock ‘n’ roll songs like “Cumberland Gap,” Isbell’s storytelling prowess has made him one of today’s most acclaimed singer-songwriters.
His last album, “Something More Than Free,” won two Grammys and achieved the rare feat of topping folk, rock, and country charts in 2015.
Now 38, he’s back with a new album titled “The Nashville Sound,” and we joined him and his band, The 400 Unit, at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in Asheville, North Carolina, on the first day of their new national tour.
Once again, Isbell’s songs are filled with rural country characters, this time also reflecting the nation’s political and cultural fears.
JASON ISBELL: It’s just hard to tell people who are my family that anybody in government really cares about them, because I don’t think I can sell that. I don’t think I can convincingly tell Middle America that the government gives a damn.
JEFFREY BROWN: Disaffected white male, yes?
JASON ISBELL: Yes. Yes, you hear about that.
And I think a lot of people try to tell us that that’s who elected our current president, but I don’t necessarily believe that, because I know a lot of disaffected white males and disaffected white people in general who didn’t vote at all because they didn’t think anybody gave a damn about them.
JEFFREY BROWN: They just didn’t believe in the political system.
JASON ISBELL: No. They thought the system had been broken for a long time.
JEFFREY BROWN: Isbell started out as many do, in bands that travel by van wherever the gigs take them.
His first big break was as a member of the southern indie rock band the Drive-By Truckers. That came to an end when his drinking and drug abuse grew so bad, he was thrown out of the band. It took him several years to sober up and restart his life and career.
JASON ISBELL: Before I stopped drinking, I thought, if I quit drinking, am I still going to be funny? Am I still going to be a good songwriter? Am I going to still be a rock ‘n’ roll person? Are people going to still want to be around me?
And then, is my creativity going to be there if I quit doing these drugs? Am I going to be able to record in the studio, these kinds of things?
And now they sound so ridiculous even just coming out of my mouth, like, of course, that’s not where the work comes from.
JEFFREY BROWN: But I can see where the anxiety comes from, because, I mean, in your business, it’s a thin line, isn’t it, between kind of making it and not making it or having success or not?
JASON ISBELL: Yes. Yes, it’s hard. It’s really hard to make a living writing songs and singing them, really, really hard. A lot of people, they try it out like as a lottery ticket. And then, if it doesn’t work, they go do something else. But that’s not the tradition that I come from.
I come from a group of people who pretty much set themselves to do this for the rest of their life, whether it kills them or not. And that’s how I was early on. That’s how I still am.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now he’s on the road with his wife, Amanda Shires, herself a singer and songwriter who performs on her own and as bandmate with her husband.
And they’re joined by their almost 2-year-old “Moon Shadow”-loving daughter, Mercy Rose. Isbell’s recent breakthrough success allows some newfound traveling comforts.
JASON ISBELL: We have recently gotten to the point where we can have multiple buses. That’s something I never really thought that I would get to. Maybe one bus, that’d be great, with a trailer behind it with our gear in it. That was always the goal for me.
JEFFREY BROWN: This is how you judge where you’re at, right, by…
JASON ISBELL: Oh, God, yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: … whether it’s a van or one bus or two buses?
JASON ISBELL: Yes. Yes.
It’s practical concerns, you know? Because I have always made the art I wanted to make, and I will always do that. So, I’m going to judge my level of success by whether or not I can hear myself on stage, or whether or not my wife can come along with me and have a mirror to put her makeup on in, and my baby can have a bunk with this, like, dog gate that we bought at Petco and bolted to the outside of the bunk, so she doesn’t roll off in the middle of the night.
JEFFREY BROWN: In one beautiful love song on the new album, Isbell writes and sings as himself about a future of joy and sorrow with his wife.
JASON ISBELL: If you can write a good love song now that actually adds something to the canon of love songs, then you’re qualified, in my opinion, because that’s tough. That’s like painting a picture of a tree that needs to exists. How many times have people done that before?
JEFFREY BROWN: Another song getting much attention tackles racism in America today. It’s called “White Man’s World.”
JASON ISBELL: It’s important for me to just continue to notice that there are doors that are open for me that wouldn’t be if I wasn’t white or if I wasn’t male.
I’m not guilty about it, and I’m not ashamed of it. I had no control over it. And I need to consider those things, because, if I don’t, then I’m just running wild and never really considering what privilege that I have and how to make the world a better place for people don’t get what they deserve.
JEFFREY BROWN: Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit will tour the nation this summer and into the fall.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jeffrey Brown in Asheville, North Carolina.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, as you heard, he’s on an international tour.
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WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says “good progress” was made during a White House meeting between President Donald Trump and Republican senators.
Trump invited them to meet after McConnell decided to delay a vote on a Senate health care bill because there aren’t enough votes to pass it.
McConnell said after the meeting there’s a “really good chance” of passing the bill, but it won’t happen before July Fourth as he originally planned.
McConnell says Republicans must come up with a solution because that’s why the American people elected them. He says negotiating with Senate Democrats won’t produce any of the changes sought by Republicans, including to the health markets and Medicaid.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: China is leading a trillion-dollar project to build a 21st century version of the Silk Road, the trading routes that once spanned Asia. And it is on that original Silk Road, in Central Asia, where we again catch up with Paul Salopek.
He is on his Out of Eden walk. It’s an around-the-world reporting project that began four years ago.
Hari Sreenivasan recently spoke with him.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Since we spoke last time, Paul, you have walked through Kazakstan, Uzbekistan. You’re in Kyrgyzstan now. And you are going to walk into China.
PAUL SALOPEK, Fellow, National Geographic: My deadlines are often seasonal, right?
So, I have been crossing deserts and mountains across Central Asia, and the trick is to cross the deserts in the cold part of the year and the mountains in the warm part of the year. And guess what? I haven’t been able to do that so far. I’m been — it’s reversed.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Tell me a little bit about that desert crossing. I know you had to plan ahead and plant stashes of water into some of the places along your walk.
But I read one of the places you walked up to, your water was gone.
PAUL SALOPEK: Yes, that’s right.
It’s one of these physical challenges of walking across desolate landscapes. We had to put some water caches out before. And I had to walk to them. And to my great surprise, one of the caches in that middle of the Kyzyl Kum, this big waterless area, this badlands the size of Arizona, had been broken into.
And the water had been taken. And that was a big surprise, because local shepherds would probably never do that. They know how valuable water is. So I don’t know who took it. My walking partners at the time and I had to resort to using the satellite phone to call in for help.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Who lives out in these deserts? Tell me about these nomads. What are these herders like?
PAUL SALOPEK: Well, it’s — this part of the world, Central Asia, is one of the two big hot spots, if you will, left in our current age in the early 21st century for pastoral nomads, for people who still move with animals. The other one, of course, is North Africa.
When the steppe turns green, they go out in the spring and move their flocks and then move with their flocks as their ancestors did.
HARI SREENIVASAN: You have been following the Silk Road that millions of people before you have.
PAUL SALOPEK: The Silk Road was an artery of trade not just of luxury item, not just of commodities, but of ideas, right?
Buddhism moved along the Silk Road routes. Inventions like paper, which conveyed ideas, people, culture, art, music, all of these things moved along these camel caravan roads.
And it’s interesting to be walking them today, Hari, as we’re entering a phase where there’s been a bit of backlash against globalism. And the Silk Road was the first real experiment in globalization about 2,000 years ago.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Most of us would have trouble finding these countries on a map. But how have these former Soviet republics fared? What’s life like there?
PAUL SALOPEK: Kazakstan got lucky. They had tremendous energy reserves.
And one of the great challenges, believe it or not, of walking with a cargo horse across these open steppes in today’s day and age was getting around gas pipelines. They’re everywhere.
So I was kind of bumping into gas pipelines and turning right or left, hoping that I would eventually come to a gate. So, Kazakstan has done well in this lottery of natural resources. Uzbekistan has done less well. Uzbekistan is an ancient part of the world, where they had Silk Road cities that had many, many tens of thousands of people — they had universities, they had temples — that has kind of fallen on harder times. They don’t have the natural resources that Kazakstan does.
And now I’m in Kyrgyzstan, a smaller Central Asian republic that’s very mountainous, that is basically capitalizing on its natural beauty, eco-tourism to kind of make its way ahead.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s talk a little bit about the people that you have been walking with.
I imagine that you get to know these people that you’re walking hundreds of miles with.
PAUL SALOPEK: So, I have walked about 6,000 kilometers out of Ethiopia since January of 2013. I have crossed about 13 borders. I have passed through about a dozen countries and territories, many languages within those territories and countries.
And along most of the way, about 95 percent of the way, I have been walking with local people. That’s part of the project. This is a project about humanity. It’s a project about what connects us and what separates us, so I need to have local people.
And it’s truly amazing. In conversations about, is the world becoming more dangerous, is it becoming more turbulent, I have to remind my readers that, at least in my experience, the world is an incredibly hospitable place.
And all of these folks who walk with me, mostly men, but some women, have become like family to me. I literally put my life into their hands. And I’m being passed like a human baton from walking partner to walking partner.
And what does that do? It gives me great heart. It gives me great energy. It proves in a very concrete way, my safety, that most people are good and most people will help you out, even if they’re strangers, even if they’re from another culture, even if they don’t look like you or speak in the same words that you speak.
HARI SREENIVASAN: It’s been more than four years since you have been walking on this story now. What have you discovered about yourself?
PAUL SALOPEK: As you know, I covered many conflicts for many years as a war journalist, and I saw a lot of the dark side of human nature.
I have run into a few scrapes on this project. You know, I was ambushed twice in Turkey. I got shot at on the West Bank and have had my water cache broken into in Uzbekistan.
But I can remember those items, those incidents because they stood out, because the vast majority of my interactions with people across the world on foot has been fantastically positive.
I think it’s simplified my writing, and I think made it better. And the same applies basically to my daily life.
When your world and your problems and your anxieties are calipered by your legs and by the extent that you can walk in a day, say, 20 miles or 15 miles, it eliminates a lot of unnecessary worry. You don’t expend too much energy worrying about things that are beyond your control.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Paul Salopek, we wish you the best of luck. And we will catch up with you again as soon as we can.
PAUL SALOPEK: Thanks a lot, Hari. Good to talk again.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: a sexual assault scandal that has rocked Baylor University, and ignited questions over whether the university ignored the complaints of victims.
The school confirmed in recent days that it is also the subject of an ongoing NCAA investigation.
That’s the focus of our weekly segment Making the Grade.
John Yang has the latest.
JOHN YANG: More than a dozen women have filed lawsuits against Baylor, the country’s largest Baptist university, saying the school ignored or mishandled their claims going back several years.
The school’s Board of Regents has acknowledged that 19 football players were accused of criminal, sexual or physical assault at one point. One of them, Tevin Elliot, was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The head football coach, Art Briles, was fired, and the president, Ken Starr, quit after he was demoted.
Paula Lavigne is a reporter with ESPN. She’s been investigating the Baylor case. She’s the co-author of a forthcoming book on the case called “Violated: Exposing Rape at Baylor University Amid College Football’s Sexual Assault Crisis.”
Paula, thanks for joining us.
Remind us of these allegations. They have been around for a while, but remind us of the scope, how far back they go, the nature of the allegations at Baylor.
PAULA LAVIGNE, ESPN: Right.
The allegations go back for more than a decade. And right now, in court cases alone, you have 15 different women filing Title IX federal lawsuits against the school in cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault. But depending on who you talk to, there are hundreds of cases.
And many of them involve football players, but actually this is a much larger problem. They involve regular students, fraternity members, I mean, you name it. It is a huge problem at the school.
And another sort of interesting layer to it is the fact that we’re talking about the world’s largest Baptist university, and a lot of these women are saying, you know, part of the problem here was that the school’s Christian values really didn’t foster an environment in which women were encouraged to come forward or in which their cases were taken seriously.
And you compound that on top of the issues with the prominent football team. And, yes, the scope, it just touches all aspects of higher education and of sexual assault on campus.
JOHN YANG: And what can the NCAA do, and what can it not do in cases like this?
PAULA LAVIGNE: So, that’s a really good question.
So, a lot of people — if you’re not familiar with college sports, it’s important to know that the NCAA is sort of the arbiter over amateur college athletics, right? And their purpose is to ensure fair competition and amateurism, OK?
So, a lot of people think they want the NCAA to do something about this. Right? There is a huge call for the NCAA to address this. But the issue is that sexual violence, addressing sexual violence, addressing just criminal behavior on behalf of athletes really isn’t something that’s technically in the NCAA’s wheelhouse.
And so for people to understand what their scope is, it’s important to understand a particular term that the NCAA uses, which is extra benefit, OK? So, and when we think of extra benefits, we often think of student athletes being given money from boosters or fancy cars or allowed to basically skate on a class, OK?
The NCAA, in this case, for people who are — people on the outside who are familiar with the investigation and people who are familiar with the NCAA are saying, well, one way they can get enforcement in a case involving sexual violence is to say, OK, are these student athletes getting an extra benefit if they are being diverted from judicial affairs, if they are getting a pass from local law enforcement, if coaches or administrators are hooking them up with legal counsel and maybe they’re not paying what a regular student would be paying for that legal counsel, all of those sort of things that a regular student might — who gets in trouble might not be afforded?
They’re saying, well, maybe the NCAA can consider that an extra benefit, and, in that sense, it could come in and take some enforcement action.
JOHN YANG: The issue of sexual assaults on — sexual violence on college campuses has gotten a lot of discussion. Talk about sort of the bigger issue here of how colleges even outside athletic programs are dealing with that.
PAULA LAVIGNE: It is a huge issue.
There’s been statistics that have been backed up by numerous research that one in five women will experience some sort of type of sexual assault while in college. And right now, there’s more than 200 colleges and universities under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education.
However, this is a perfect time to be talking about this, because a lot of the federal government’s civil rights enforcement actions are being called into question right now, and one of those deals specifically with Title IX. And Title IX is the venue that the U.S. Department of Education uses to enforce how colleges and universities are addressing sexual violence.
And there are a lot of people who are saying schools shouldn’t be involved in what is seen as a criminal matter. And a problem with that is that that’s pretty short-sighted, because Title IX does a lot more in addressing sexual violence than just determining whether or not an alleged perpetrator is responsible for the act.
I mean, one of the — you mentioned the case involving Tevin Elliot. The young woman in that case, I mean, she saw her accused perpetrator convicted. However, her biggest issue was the fact that she didn’t get the counseling services, she didn’t get the academic services. She was basically sort of left floundering. She ends up dropping out, doesn’t get to pursue her dream, and has to transfer and move back home.
There is nothing in the criminal justice system that provides that sort of remedy, and that’s what Title IX is designed to do. It’s designed to force these schools to address specific cases of sexual violence, in part to determine whether or not someone is responsible.
But the bigger part, the part that’s often ignored, is by providing a safe campus for these women to attend, providing counseling services if they need them, providing academic services to make them whole again, so they can continue their education.
JOHN YANG: Paula Lavigne of ESPN, thanks so much for joining us.
PAULA LAVIGNE: You’re welcome.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to the second part of my conversation with billionaire Warren Buffett.
I spoke with him last week in Omaha last week at the Nebraska Furniture Mart, the largest furniture store in America. It is just one small piece of a huge portfolio of investments owned by his company, Berkshire Hathaway, but one that Buffett takes particular pride in as part of his legacy.
Both the Senate and House Republican health care reform bills would roll back taxes that are part of Obamacare. Buffett has taken issue with that.
And that’s where my conversation picks up.
One of the things the Republicans are looking at, as you know very well, is doing away with the so-called Obamacare surcharge on people earning a higher income.
WARREN BUFFETT, Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Republicans are looking at taking that away, or doing away with that, which would mean a tax cut, you have said …
WARREN BUFFETT: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: … for people like you.
WARREN BUFFETT: Yes.
Well, I brought my tax return along for the last year. I filed this on April 15. And if the Republican — well, if the bill that passed the House with 217 votes had been in effect this year, I would have saved — I can give you the exact figure. I would have saved $679,999, or over 17 percent of my tax bill.
There’s nothing ambiguous about that. I will be given a 17 percent tax cut. And the people it’s directed at are couples with $250,000 or more of income. You could entitle this, you know, Relief for the Rich Act or something, because it — I have got friends where it would have saved them as much as — it gets into the $10-million-and-up figure.
But I might point out — it might be an interesting question. I think members of the Senate and the House get $174,000 a year. But most of them have — if you look at the disclosures, they have substantial other income. If they get to higher than $250,000, as a married couple, or $200,000 as a single person, they have given themselves a big, big tax cut, if they — if they voted for this.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of taxes, let’s just use that as an entry point to talk about it.
You shared some of your tax return with us for 2016. Thank you very much.
WARREN BUFFETT: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But before I ask you about that, how wealthy are you? I mean, I’m reading that you’re $77 billion?
WARREN BUFFETT: Ninety-nine percent of my net worth is in Berkshire Hathaway stock. Every share of that stock has been pledged to philanthropy.
So, I’m a trustee for that stock. So, it will go to society. And then the rest will as well. But if you add up what’s in my name, if we go down to my safe deposit box, we will find some stock certificates that are worth that much.
But as I — you know, I have written, they have no utility to me. They can’t do anything to make me happier. I’m already happy. I would be happy with, you know — certainly with $100,000 a year, I could be very happy. And they can’t buy anything for me that I want. If they did, I would buy it.
And they do have utility to others, so I have got this system to essentially try and translate that into vaccines and education and all of that sort of thing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The reason I bring that up, Warren Buffett, is that that’s your wealth, your worth. And yet, on your tax return, you earned $19 million-something.
WARREN BUFFETT: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Nineteen-and-a-half million last year.
Your effective tax rate was 16.3 percent, which — we looked it up. This is what an average couple, a married couple, no children, taking the standard deduction would pay on an income of $136,000. In other words, a couple who earned — you earn 143 times more than they do, but your tax rate is the same as theirs.
WARREN BUFFETT: Yes, I have pointed that out in past, in the past.
And it’s even worse than you say, Judy, because you’re looking at what that couple would pay in federal income tax. But they are also paying payroll taxes, in overwhelming cases. And my cleaning lady has a 15 percent tax, you know, just from Social — just from the Social Security that she and her employer pay, but it’s kind of incredible.
And now they want to cut it. No, they want to cut it for me. I mean, you know, they — I don’t look like somebody that deserves a cut.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, they — the Republicans are talking about lowering taxes …
WARREN BUFFETT: Absolutely.
JUDY WOODRUFF: … on the …
WARREN BUFFETT: They want to cut my tax 17 percent. They saw those figures and were shocked that I was paying that much, apparently.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, among other things, they’re talking about doing away with some of the — some of the deductions, charitable deductions, maybe, mortgage deductions, maybe, state and local tax — taxes paid as deductions.
Do you have a thought about all those?
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, you can’t really talk about specifics without looking at the whole thing.
But if they’re talking about making it revenue-neutral, you know, I think if they’re going to make it revenue-neutral, it ought to be — it ought to be something other than revenue-neutral to the guys like me. Our rates should go up, allowing others to go down somewhat.
I think there ought to be minimum taxes for people that make $10 million a year, and a different one at a million a year, but certainly at $10 million a year.
JUDY WOODRUFF: They also, as you know, want to tackle business corporate tax rates. They’re talking about the current corporate rate, lowering it from 35 percent to 15 percent? The president has talked about — I guess Speaker Paul Ryan this week said 20 percent.
What would that mean for you if …
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, it would mean, for Berkshire, in all probability, that we would pay less in U.S. federal income taxes.
But until you see the final thing, you can’t tell. Berkshire Hathaway is the second largest corporation on the Fortune 500 this year. I don’t know any case where our competitiveness is being hurt by the federal income tax rate on corporations.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Estate taxes, a thought about that?
WARREN BUFFETT: Oh, estate taxes, I mean, I — you hear people call it the death tax.
There are going to be two-and-a-half million people die in the United States this year. How many estate tax returns are there going to be? Probably about 5,000. And the interesting thing is, if I talked to somebody about welfare mothers or something like that, they say how debilitating it is to have these food stamps, and it takes away their incentive to do anything.
If a kid comes out of the right womb in this country, they have got food stamps for their rest of their life. They just call them stocks and bonds. And their welfare officer is their trust officer.
I mean, I think I — I think having a significant estate tax that starts at a fair-sized level is — if you’re going to have to raise $3.5 trillion, I think that’s a good source of revenue, and that I — it shouldn’t apply to, you know, 99 percent of the people.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You have been very — I mean, very open about your own taxes, and people have taken a look at that, and they have also looked at Berkshire Hathaway. It has been pointed out that Berkshire Hathaway does take advantage of the legal ability to defer taxes, and …
WARREN BUFFETT: Sure. Well, that’s because …
JUDY WOODRUFF: And I saw a number, something like $75 billion in deferred taxes?
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, that’s we haven’t cashed things that we — just like you, if you have got a stock that’s gone up a whole lot, until you sell it.
But that’s just the law. And we’re going to — we don’t have any of the Cayman Islands or anything like that stuff. But we follow the law, and we got a million shareholders. And I think they probably expect us to do that. That doesn’t mean I don’t think the law shouldn’t be changed in some way.
But I follow the law in terms of my personal return. I do not send an extra $5 million to the Treasury.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Your philanthropy, we have talked about it a little bit. It’s legendary. You and Bill Gates, Melinda Gates have come together and, I guess, broken all records imaginable for giving.
At the same time, it’s being pointed out that you’re also making — you first made that pledge, what, 10, 11 years ago.
WARREN BUFFETT: 2006, yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: 2006.
You’re now making so much more even than you did then. People are saying, well, wait a minute, you know, is he going to be giving more away?
How do you think about that?
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, I have got it set up so that, if I make more, I do give more, because I’m giving on a schedule, and that schedule ends 10 years after I die.
So, it’s all — so I’m not setting up — and, actually, they can’t use it for endowments or anything. It has to be spent within 10 years, really, after my estate’s closed, but call it after I die.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How much influence do you think you had on other, others with wealth, with means to give, to be as generous as you have been?
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, a lot of people come back to me on that.
And basically, I said, you know, if you’re extremely rich, and you have got children, my theory was, you give them enough so they can do anything, but not enough so they can do nothing. And I have had more people come back to it, so, apparently I was smarter in 1980, whatever it was, than I am now. But that seemed to have some influence.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Are you comfortable today with what you’re giving? I mean, does it feel …
WARREN BUFFETT: It’s exactly what I wanted to do.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Does it feel like the right thing to be doing right now?
WARREN BUFFETT: It’s the right thing. It’s the right thing, because it’s going — it’s going to people who believe, as the Gates, for example, that every life is of equal value.
I mean, the truth is, I have got a lot of wealth, little pieces of paper, says Berkshire Hathaway on it. They are claim checks on all kinds of goods and services in the world. They can buy anything. I can buy 400-foot yachts and have 20 homes and all that. I wouldn’t be happier. But they can buy anything.
And once they move into the hands of people who are working like hell on getting something accomplished in areas I want them to — you know, I love the idea of getting them used, and that’s what they’re doing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You said it wouldn’t make you happy to have a hundred, 200 homes and yachts and so forth. What does make Warren Buffett happy?
WARREN BUFFETT: I just have a lot of fun doing my job.
I mean, I can do anything I want, basically, as long as it doesn’t involve athletic ability, or something like that.
WARREN BUFFETT: But if it’s something I can buy, I can buy anything, basically.
I have been on 400-foot yachts, and I have — I have lived the life a little bit with people that have 10 homes and everything. And I live in the same house I bought in 1958. And if I could spend $100 million on a house that would make me a lot happier, I would do it.
But, for me, that’s the happiest House In the world. And it’s because it’s got memories, and people come back, and all that sort of thing. So, I am doing what I love to do with people I love. And it doesn’t get any better than that, Judy.
And — but I should be. I mean, why in the hell — why should I be working at 86 at something that I don’t like or with people I don’t like?
JUDY WOODRUFF: And I see you’re drinking a Cherry Coke.
WARREN BUFFETT: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you stay healthy?
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, I think I stay healthy partly by being happy, actually.
I think that — I think it really helps if your stomach isn’t grinding all the time, and you’re doing things you don’t want to do, or you’re working with people that — you know? So I have gone very light on the diet advice.
I eat like a normal 6-year-old, but if you look at the mortality statistics, I mean, 6-year-olds don’t die very often.
WARREN BUFFETT: I mean, the diet’s doing something for them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How much sleep do you get?
WARREN BUFFETT: I get quite a bit of sleep. I like to sleep.
So I will usually sleep eight hours a night, and that — no, I have no desire to get to work at 4:00 in the morning.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So many people look at you and they think, oh, my goodness, this man, he’s accomplished so much. He’s been so successful. He’s 86 years old, and he’s still going strong.
WARREN BUFFETT: I love it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what do they — so, what’s the secret?
WARREN BUFFETT: The secret is to find what you love to do.
I mean, I tell the students look for the job that you would take if you didn’t need a job. I mean, it’s that simple. And I was lucky enough to find it very early in life. And then the second thing is to have people around you that make feel good every day, and make you a better person than you otherwise would be.
I have more fun doing this than anything else I can think of in the world, and I have seen a lot of other things you could do in the world.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Warren Buffett, thank you very much.
WARREN BUFFETT: Thank you, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And he does come across as a happy man.
And, for the record, Warren Buffett is CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns BNSF Railway. It is one of the funders of the NewsHour.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The White House today reinforced a stark warning to the government of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad against using chemical weapons.
Last night, the administration announced that the U.S. had detected — quote — “potential preparations” by the regime to use the banned weapons, again.
Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports.
MARGARET WARNER: President Assad was seen today touring a Russian air base just hours after last night’s White House statement. It warned that the Syrian regime would pay a heavy price for launching another chemical attack.
Today, the Pentagon elaborated, saying the U.S. has seen active preparations for chemical weapons use at Shayrat air base near Homs in Western Syria.
Nancy Youssef is senior national security correspondent at BuzzFeed.
NANCY YOUSSEF, BuzzFeed: The Pentagon told us that they saw evidence of planes that were used to conduct aerial chemical attacks in the past being moved around on Shayrat airfield. We also heard reports of chatter happening on the ground in preparation for a possible imminent attack. The number of people who knew was so limited, and the message from the White House was so ominous, that it created a real confusion that we are just not used to.
MARGARET WARNER: A chemical weapons attack was launched from that same base in April, killing dozens of men, women and children. The Syrians denied responsibility. But President Trump ordered the U.S. military to fire 59 Tomahawk missiles at the base.
Mr. Trump’s response was a sharp departure from his predecessor’s caution about intervening in Syria’s civil war. In 2012, President Obama famously warned that the use of chemical weapons use would constitute a red line, triggering U.S. action. But instead, after a deadly August, 2013, attack on a Damascus suburb, then-Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia worked on a deal with Assad that aimed to rid his regime of chemical weapons.
Trump officials say that strategy clearly didn’t work, and it’s taking a tougher approach to Syria and its key backers.
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke at a House hearing today.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: I believe that the goal is, at this point, not just to send Assad a message, but to send Russia and Iran a message that, if this happens again, we are putting you on notice.
MARGARET WARNER: A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin retorted: “Such threats to Syria’s legitimate leaders are unacceptable.”
Iran’s foreign minister said: “Another dangerous U.S. escalation in Syria on fake pretext will only serve ISIS,” the Islamic State group.
Since the April 3 U.S. missile barrage, the U.S. has had several confrontations with pro-Assad forces, shooting down a Syrian air force jet and an armed Iranian-made drone. In response, Russia has threatened to target coalition aircraft in certain parts of Syria. Today, it’s unclear what the broader U.S. strategy is.
NANCY YOUSSEF: Is the U.S. committed to a form of deterrence against the regime for possible chemical attacks? And, if so, in what form? Going forward, will the U.S. put out a statement every time it suspects chemical weapons attacks? Is that what we are to take away from yesterday’s statement?
MARGARET WARNER: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Margaret Warner.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And back to the battle over health care.
I spoke a short time ago with Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, one of the key votes that could determine the future of the GOP effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Senator Paul, thank you very much for joining us.
Is there any doubt in your mind, if the vote had gone ahead today or tomorrow, that the bill would have failed?
SEN. RAND PAUL, R-Ky.: Yes, I don’t think there were enough votes, but I think there also just hasn’t been enough time to have a full discussion.
We just got the bill last week. We just got the CBO score on Monday. So, there needs to be a little bit more time to absorb this, then also to discuss, what are the changes that the leadership might be open to in order to get it to pass?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of that, you met with President Trump at the White House earlier today. You tweeted after your meeting, you said: “@realDonaldTrump is open to making the bill better. Is the Senate leadership?”
My question to you is — and the president is meeting now with the rest of the Republicans in the Senate — what changes does the president want to see in this bill?
SEN. RAND PAUL: Well, I don’t think it’s so much him lobbing us for changes. It’s us asking him for help in getting the changes done.
I think he has the bully pulpit. He has a great deal of influence with the Republican Party on both the House and the Senate side. And I think the bill right now to the conservative point of view doesn’t have enough repeal. In fact, it looks like we’re keeping a lot of Obamacare.
Even the architect of Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber, said, hey, hey, guys, don’t worry, we’re actually keeping Obamacare. So we actually think that there needs to be more repeal. That’s the message I took to him.
But I also took a specific list that we’re sending to Senate leadership, and we’re saying, if you address these items, there’s a possibility we could vote for this bill, but it’s got to look more like repeal and less like we’re keeping it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, as you know, what the president has said about the House version of the bill, which many people said was tougher than the Senate bill, he said it was mean, and he wanted a bill with more heart.
So where are we on this?
SEN. RAND PAUL: You know, I think there are various ways you can characterize both Republican and Democrat proposals.
President Obama, I think, wanted what was best for the country, but I think it didn’t work well. I think we have the death spiral, and I think particularly premiums in the individual market are going through the roof.
I think Republicans want what’s best for the country also, but I think they’re not fixing the death spiral of Obamacare. They’re going to subsidize it with a lot of taxpayer money. So, characterizing something as mean or generous I think goes to people’s motives, and I think it is sort of why we have such an angry country now. We think that people have ill motives.
But I think Republicans want people to have health insurance. We want people to be healthy. So do Democrats. We just believe in a different type of economic system or different types of limitations of government or more expansive government and how we can do it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the things, Senator Paul, you have talked about wanting to do away with is the Obamacare tax on individuals making over $250,000 a year.
That would be money — that’s the money that’s been used to pay for many of the subsidies for people with lower income.
SEN. RAND PAUL: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s a transfer, taking money away from those who have more to give it to people who have less, but that troubles you?
SEN. RAND PAUL: No, we already do quite a bit of that, and it’s call Medicaid.
The problem or the fundamental flaw of Obamacare was that they put regulations on the insurance, about 12 regulations, which increased the cost of the insurance. And so President Obama wanted to help poor, working-class people, but he actually hurts them by making the insurance too expensive to want to buy.
I had someone at the house just recently was doing some work, and he said: “Oh, my son doesn’t have insurance, he’s paying the penalty because it’s too expensive.”
So, President Obama said, oh, we want to make insurance perfect for people, but he added all these regulatory mandates, made it too expensive. Young, healthy people didn’t buy it, and the people remaining in the insurance pool were sicker and sicker. That’s the adverse selection and the death spiral of Obamacare.
And so really we do need to discuss the intricacies of what worked and what didn’t work in Obamacare. And I think the better way to do this is to let individuals have the freedom to choose what kind of insurance is best for them. The government doesn’t always know best. Maybe the individual should be allowed to choose.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator, I hear you, and I have read of some of the other comments you have made lately. You have some very strong views on this. As you just said, you would like to do away with this tax on individuals earning — high earners.
You have talked about doing away with the mandates in Obamacare. You talk about health savings accounts. But other members of the Senate, including other Republicans, have very different ideas. They are worried about these Medicaid cuts in this legislation.
SEN. RAND PAUL: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Where is the common ground?
SEN. RAND PAUL: Well, that’s what we’re going to see, if we can find it.
One of the things that horrifies me is that we would be giving taxpayer money to very, very wealthy corporations. The insurance companies make about $15 billion a year. They have doubled their profit margin under Obamacare. And so now we’re going to take a lot of this and call it a stabilization fund, but really it’s a bailout of insurance companies.
And I just think that’s wrong. I just can’t see why ordinary, average taxpayers would be giving money to very, very wealthy corporations. An analogous situation would be this: We all complain that new cars cost too much. Why don’t we have a new car stabilization fund and give $130 billion to car companies?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
SEN. RAND PAUL: We could do that in any industry, but it’s not really good economics. What it is, is, you’re simply transferring money from the ordinary, average taxpayers to very wealthy corporations.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Senator, my understanding is that plan was put in there to take care of some of those people at the lower income level because of these changes in Medicaid.
I still don’t see where the middle ground is between you, other Republicans, and certainly with Democrats.
SEN. RAND PAUL: Actually, the money in the stabilization fund, $130 billion which I call an insurance bailout, is put in to try to cure the adverse selection that Obamacare created by making insurance too expensive. Healthy people didn’t buy it.
They tried to fix this by forcing young people to buy it through an individual mandate. Even that didn’t work. So the way the Republicans fix it is they don’t actually fix it. They subsidize it. So we have to fix what went wrong with Obamacare, not just recapitulate something that’s broken.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What you’re saying makes it sound like you’re still uncertain this is going to pass.
SEN. RAND PAUL: Yes. I’m uncertain whether it’s going to be enough of a repeal bill for conservatives. And we need to adhere to our promise. We promised people we’d repeal it. We talked about all the problems of Obamacare. We shouldn’t leave half of it in place and expect things to be better.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, we thank you.
SEN. RAND PAUL: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: A new cyber-attack caused major disruptions across Europe and elsewhere. Ukraine was hit hard, where banks and the power grid were breached. Government computers also locked up, as so-called ransomware scrambled data until payment is made. Also affected, Russia’s state-run oil company was hit, along with Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk and U.S. drugmaker Merck and Company.
Last month, a similar attack spread to 150 countries.
The U.S. State Department has declared China to be among the worst countries tolerating human traffickers in the world. The annual listing today put China in the same category as North Korea, Syria and Zimbabwe.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said China’s record is marred in part by its continued support of North Korea.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. Secretary of State: The North Korean regime receives hundreds of millions of dollars per year from the fruits of forced labor. China was downgraded to tier-3 status in this year’s report, in part, because it has not taken serious steps to end its own complicity in trafficking, including forced laborers from North Korea that are located in China.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Even before the announcement, China’s Foreign Ministry rejected the findings.
Brazil’s President Michel Temer is now facing corruption charges. The country’s attorney general formally accused him last night of taking a bribe of $152,000. Temer called the charge fiction. The lower house of Brazil’s congress will decide if it has merit. Temer took office in May, when President Dilma Rousseff was impeached.
European antitrust officials fined Google a record $2.7 billion today. In Brussels, the E.U. competition commissioner said the Internet giant highlights its own businesses and buries search results for rivals.
MARGRETHE VESTAGER, European Commission: What Google has done is illegal under E.U. antitrust rules. It has denied other companies the chance to compete under merits and to innovate, and, most importantly, it has denied European consumers the benefits of competition, genuine choice and innovation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Google has 90 days to change its ways in Europe or face additional penalties.
Back in this country, three current and former Chicago policemen were indicted today in the killing of a black teenager, Laquan McDonald, by a white officer. They are accused of a cover-up. McDonald was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. He was charged with murder a year later, after video of the incident was released. Van Dyke is in jail awaiting trial.
And on Wall Street, selling gained momentum after the health care bill’s delay raised new questions about the Trump agenda. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 99 points to close at 21310. The Nasdaq fell 100 points, and the S&P 500 slipped 19.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The United States Senate will not try to repeal and replace the Obamacare health care law until after the Fourth of July recess.
Republican leaders gave up today on getting a vote this week.
Our Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky., Majority Leader: Legislation of this complexity almost always takes longer than anyone else would hope.
LISA DESJARDINS: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to accept the reality: Not enough Republicans are ready to vote for the Republican health care bill as it stands now. At least five Republicans said they opposed even beginning debate. That’s three more than McConnell can afford to lose. So now it’s time to revise.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: Consequently, we will not be on the bill this week, but we’re still working toward getting at least 50 people in a comfortable place.
LISA DESJARDINS: McConnell’s math got tougher after Monday’s report from the Congressional Budget Office. It found the current Senate bill would leave 22 million more uninsured by 2026 than under Obamacare. That includes 15 million who would lose Medicaid coverage.
The average premium would decrease in 2020, but plans would offer less coverage and have substantially higher out-of-pocket costs. Supporters of the bill highlighted the CBO conclusion that it would save $321 billion off deficits.
And Alabama Republican Richard Shelby reminded his colleagues that they all campaigned on repealing Obamacare.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY, R-Ala.: We need some votes. And a lot of people ran on repealing it. Now we’re going to see if they keep their word.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, R-Maine: It is difficult for me to see how any tinkering is going to satisfy my fundamental and deep concerns about the impact of the bill.
LISA DESJARDINS: The bill hit problems from two sides. Moderate Maine Senator Susan Collins said she is a no because of a one-year defunding to Planned Parenthood funding and also because of sharp cuts for those on Medicaid. Medicaid is also a concern for Dean Heller, whose state of Nevada has expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Meanwhile, several GOP conservatives, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson and Ted Cruz, said the bill doesn’t repeal enough and spends too much on subsidies. Party leaders mounted a full-court press to convert those no votes. Vice President Pence met with senators at the Capitol, and President Trump held a private meeting with Rand Paul at the White House.
Democrats, meanwhile, remained uniformly opposed to the bill. They hosted a protest on the steps of the Capitol, holding pictures of constituents they said would lose coverage under the Republican plan.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., Minority Leader: If our Republican colleagues stick to this base bill, which so hurts working families, which so benefits multimillionaires, and them almost alone, we’re going to fight the bill tooth and nail. And we have a darn good chance of defeating it.
LISA DESJARDINS: Late today, buses ferried Republican senators to the White House for a sit-down with President Trump to talk things over.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So, we’re going to talk and we’re going to see what we can do. We’re getting very close. And if we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like, and that’s OK, and I understand that very well.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And then later this evening, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke to reporters and defended the prospects of getting a bill passed eventually.
And Lisa, who has been running around on the hill all day long, joins us now.
So, Lisa, where do things stand?
LISA DESJARDINS: Well, they do want to take a vote after the July 4 recess, so a lot of folks are saying, oh, they will come up with a bill in the meantime while they’re on recess.
No, Judy. I talked to Senate Republican Conference chairman John Thune. He said they want the revise their bill and get out a new draft this week, which is ambitious. They want to do it before senators go home.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, in your assessment from talking to all these senators, what is the main problem here? Why is this failing so far?
LISA DESJARDINS: There were a couple problems. One, the CBO score, Judy. The bill was already in trouble, as we had reported on Monday. But when that score came out …
JUDY WOODRUFF: This is the Congressional Budget Office.
LISA DESJARDINS: The Congressional Budget Office score, which showed that 22 million Americans lose insurance.
And not just that. It was the depth of that 50-page CBO report that Republicans really got thinking about. Senator Bob Corker told me he read it at 4:00 a.m. this morning and asked for CBO to come up and give a briefing today. They did.
Also, Judy, Republicans weren’t ready. Some of them hadn’t even read this bill, like Chuck Grassley, who I saw today carrying the bill. He told me he hadn’t read it yet.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, given all that, what is it going to take to get them to 50 votes?
LISA DESJARDINS: Leadership obviously isn’t sure yet, but they have more money to spend. They think we will see more money on opioids, for example, which is something that is popular, health savings accounts, something that most Republicans agree on, but no one can answer that question, Judy, yet.
Do they decrease the Medicaid cuts somehow? Unclear. Do they shift how they’re reforming the Affordable Care Act? Unclear. It’s very a difficult, tricky, formula. They say they can do it, but they obviously haven’t figured out how yet.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And finally the role of President Trump in all this?
LISA DESJARDINS: Right.
There are question marks about that. Some say they were worried that this meeting today would be one where he makes Republicans feel better, but actually doesn’t do anything to change this bill. There are others, like John McCain, who said this kind of a situation requires presidential leadership. Clearly, the president is showing that tonight.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Lisa Desjardins has been reporting and will go back to reporting after this.
Thank you, Lisa.
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AUSTIN, Texas — Stacey English has modest desires for her 7-year-old daughter Addison: Be able to eat without gagging and move both her arms.
But since Addison’s occupational therapist went out of business this winter, the child with a rare genetic disorder has regressed in her fight to do even that much.
“I don’t know where to go from here,” said English, who has been unable to find a replacement therapist in their Texas college town of College Station. “How do you continue to help her make progress when you don’t have someone to teach her?”
Some Texas children with special needs like Addison have lost critical services since the state implemented $350 million in Medicaid cuts to speech, occupational and physical therapy in December. In Texas, reimbursement offered to providers fell up to 50 percent for certain therapy procedures, said Rachel Hammon, president of Texas Association of Homecare and Hospice. Clinics closed and therapists quit.
The Texas cuts are separate from Republican proposals now before Congress, which academics say could cut federal Medicaid spending as part of a law to replace the Affordable Care Act. But the fallout could eventually be similar if some form of what’s been approved in the U.S. House, and is under consideration in the Senate, becomes law, said Elizabeth Burak, the senior program director of Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families
The Texas Legislature voted in 2015 to cut the state’s Medicaid reimbursement for pediatric acute therapy services, which effectively capped how much providers can be paid. Proponents of the cuts argued that Texas’ previous reimbursement rates were too high, sometimes even encouraging fraud.[Watch Video]
In a 2015 letter, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state Sen. Jane Nelson, the chamber’s chief budget writer, argued then costs for acute care services to Texas’ Medicaid program had risen 66 percent in the five years from 2009 to 2014. They also said nearly one in seven of the state’s Medicaid legal sanctions cases for fraud were for therapy providers.
Relatives of children with disabilities and providers sued unsuccessfully to block the cuts. Republican House Speaker Joe Straus vowed to restore the lost funding during this year’s legislative session which ended May 29 — though lawmakers eventually approved a budget replacing only about a quarter of what was cut.
Nelson now says she supported the original cuts as a way to prevent taxpayers from being overcharged for services. She says a Texas A&M University study found that the state’s pediatric care providers received higher pay than in other states.
“These are vital services, and we remain in close contact with the agency to ensure that access to care is preserved as rates are adjusted to align with rates being charged to other payers,” Nelson said in an emailed statement.
But those opposing the cuts counter that the study didn’t specifically research the impact of reimbursement reductions on access to therapy.
Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission hasn’t yet seen a drastic decrease in therapy providers because of the cuts, said spokeswoman Carrie Williams. She said three agencies terminated contracts with Medicaid networks for that reason and “all clients are receiving assistance finding new providers.”
“We want children to get the care and therapies they need while we continue to be responsible with taxpayer dollars and follow the budget,” Williams said via email.
Providers say that since Texas’ cuts, they’ve struggled to stay financially afloat. Kathi Strawn, owner of Therapy Options Texarkana, which served 130 children with special needs on the Texas-Arkansas border, closed her clinic June 1.
“I couldn’t get any therapists to keep working for me who were registered or licensed,” said Strawn, who had to cut pay for her therapists by about 30 percent. She began referring her patients to the two other nearby clinics — but one was too booked for new cases, and many therapists at the other had stopped taking children, citing low compensation rates.
“We’ve had quite a few patients not able to get service,” Strawn said.
Hammon, of the homecare and hospice association, said Texas has no accurate way of tracking children deprived of services, calling them “the hidden victims” in the Medicaid cuts. Children relying on home care therapists have the most severe disabilities, and those agencies have been hit hardest, she said.
“These are children who may have been born prematurely and who can’t eat because they were fed through tubes as a baby and if your swallowing reflex is interrupted you have to have therapy to relearn that,” said Hammon.
For 15-year-old Maile Houston, with a rare chromosome deletion that has caused sensory issues and developmental delays, the recent loss of her home care occupational therapist set her back to behaviors her mother “forgot existed.”
“She slaps things in front of her face and bangs things, and the therapy she was doing calmed a lot of those behaviors down,” said Maile’s mother Megan Houston.
English said her therapist introduced Addison to basic life skills and even new foods “like smashing up crackers into a little bit of peanut butter.”
“Of all the things to cut,” she said “they’re taking away care from those who truly need help the most.”
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Prince Charles, king-in-waiting, oldest heir to the British throne in 300 years, has never been perceived as the most charismatic member of the royal family.
Instead, says biographer Sally Bedell Smith, he has often been overshadowed by his revered mother, Queen Elizabeth, the ghost of his wife Princess Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997, and his two glamorous sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.
But Charles has done much in his life and been “massively misunderstood,” says Smith, whose new biography, “Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life,” explores the side of Charles we’ve not seen.
To Smith, Charles is warmer and more informal than the British tabloids have ever shown him, and also a man who has tried to move the dial in the U.K. on climate change, saving the rainforest and urban planning.
Her book, says Smith, who has also written biographies of Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth, seeks to unpack “what really made this guy tick, and what was going on behind those public stories.”
Watch Smith’s full interview with NewsHour correspondent Margaret Warner in the player below.
The post New biography shows a side of Prince Charles we’ve not seen appeared first on PBS NewsHour.