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

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    The U.S. Supreme Court building is pictured in Washington, D.C. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    The Supreme Court building is pictured in Washington, D.C. File photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    Nearly every single Supreme Court term in recent memory has had at least one-headline grabbing decision.

    That changed in the court’s latest term, when it kept high-profile legal disputes off the docket.

    But the absence of blockbusters in the term that ended last week is setting up the court for an explosive return to the bench later this year, when justices are scheduled to hear three politically-charged cases whose outcomes could directly impact some of Washington’s most divisive debates.

    One involves President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban, which the justices reinstated — temporarily, and on a limited basis — last week. The second deals with partisan gerrymandering, and whether Wisconsin should have drawn its state legislative districts differently. And the third pits a baker who refused to make a gay couple a wedding cake on religious grounds against a Colorado anti-discrimination law.

    Still, even in a relatively low-key term, the court took on serious questions involving the criminal justice system and other topics. And it happened as the justices watched a federal appellate judge from Denver, Neil Gorsuch, endure a contentious confirmation process to become their newest colleague.

    READ MORE: 5 Takeaways from the fight over Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation

    Here’s our look back at the Supreme Court term that was, and what’s on tap for the Supreme Court term to come.


    Church and state.

    Newly-confirmed justice Neil Gorsuch made it onto the bench in April, in time to hear arguments over whether Missouri’s state government can reject a church’s application for grant money to resurface its playground solely because it is a church.

    Seven justices last week sided with the church. But below the surface, there was disagreement even among those in the majority over whether the outcome ought to be different in cases where churches are seeking government aid for religious purposes.

    Racial bias in the criminal justice system

    Every state, in some shape or form, prevents courts from questioning or revisiting verdicts because of what was said during the jury deliberations. But in March, the Supreme Court, by a 5-3 vote, carved out an exception for certain cases in which it’s clear from a juror’s statements that racial bias is part of the motivation to convict.

    The month before, the justices ruled that a death row inmate in Texas should be able to seek a new sentence for the fatal shooting of his girlfriend in 1995, citing “a particularly noxious strain of racial prejudice” in testimony introduced by the inmate’s own defense attorney during the penalty phase of his trial.

    At the time, a clinical psychologist called by the inmate’s defense team told the jury “black and Hispanic people are more likely to be dangerous because they are ‘over-represented’ among violent offenders.

    Racial bias in the financial system

    The court also said the city of Miami could proceed with lawsuits against Bank of America and Wells Fargo, which allege the financial institutions targeted African-American and Latino residents with predatory loans.

    “It’s a really critical case,” said Marcia Coyle, the chief Washington correspondent for The National Law Journal and a Supreme Court analyst for the NewsHour. “Especially when we went through the very deep recession we did because of how banks were making predatory loans. A lot of cities were suffering as a result.”

    FILE PHOTO: U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts (seated C) leads Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (front row, L-R), Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Elena Kagan (back row, L-R), Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch in taking a new family photo including Gorsuch, their most recent addition, at the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on  June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo - RTS18I19

    The Supreme Court’s justices posed for a new group photograph at the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., on June 1, 2017. Neil Gorsuch, the newest justice, is standing on the far right. File photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    The travel ban

    Earlier this year, federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland blocked Mr. Trump’s revised travel ban before it could take effect, but the Supreme Court weighed in last week, mere moments before closing out its term. It said it would allow the Trump administration to enforce the ban, at least temporarily, against some of the people it originally targeted: foreign nationals, without green cards, from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

    READ MORE: Supreme Court partly reinstates Trump’s travel ban

    In January, the administration began enforcing an earlier version of the ban without advance notice, sparking chaotic scenes at airports across the country. Legal challenges from several states successfully blocked that version, and Trump later rescinded it.

    What about the new guy?

    Gorsuch has been on the job now for just more than two months. So far, he’s authored one majority opinion, in a case that was not controversial. (It was for a unanimous court decision, in a dispute over the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.)

    So, how conservative is he? It’s hard to say much about Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy from one majority opinion. But more can be gleaned from looking at the concurring and dissenting opinions he’s written, and the opinions he’s signed on to.

    READ MORE: What we know — and don’t — about Neil Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy

    “In some of the dissents and concurrences, he showed he was pretty much in line with Justice [Clarence] Thomas’ thinking, in those cases,” Coyle told NewsHour. And indeed, in rulings this week on the church playground case and the travel ban cases, Gorsuch signed onto concurring opinions that Thomas penned.

    “It’s still very early, you really can’t put a label on how conservative he is or will be in certain areas of the law,” Coyle continued. “But it showed that his conservative inclinations are pretty strong right now.”


    The court will confront the travel ban case again, likely hearing arguments in October, as it tries to resolve once and for all whether the revised travel ban is legal.

    But it’s not the only blockbuster case that’s already teed up. Here’s what to watch:

    Gay rights and religious freedom

    A case out of Colorado highlights one of the new fronts in the debate over LGBT rights, two years after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.

    On one side is a Colorado baker who, for religious reasons, objected to serving a gay couple who visited his bakery in 2012 in search of a wedding cake. On the other side is the couple, backed up by a state agency trying to use Colorado’s anti-discrimination law to compel the baker to serve same-sex couples in the future.

    The last court to rule on the dispute was the Colorado Court of Appeals, which sided with the couple in August 2015.

    Partisan gerrymandering

    “The court looked at racial gerrymandering this past term, and actually, has dealt with racial gerrymandering rather frequently,” Coyle said. But a Wisconsin case will draw attention to the way voters choose their representatives.

    Justices will take on a case that looks at partisan gerrymandering and the constitutionality of the legislative map drawn in 2011 by Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature.

    A three-judge panel at the federal district court in Madison struck down the map last November, saying that it went too far in trying to keep Republicans in power. The lawyers defending the map have said it was the first time in more than three decades that any federal court struck down a redistricting map because of illegal partisan gerrymandering.

    This story has been updated to indicate Gorsuch signed onto concurring opinions that Thomas penned.

    The post The Supreme Court just had a quiet term. These high-profile cases are about to change that. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    President Donald Trump speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C. in January. Photo By Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    President Donald Trump speaks by phone with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C. in January. Photo By Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON – The United States and Russia worked Monday to restore a key diplomatic channel between the two clashing nations, days before President Donald Trump planned to hold his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, under immense scrutiny in the U.S. over his contacts with Trump campaign associates, met in Washington with Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon for a meeting that focused partly on preparations for the highly anticipated presidential tete-a-tete. Trump and Putin are to sit down on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit taking place Friday and Saturday in Germany.

    READ MORE: President Trump to meet Putin at G-20 summit

    Yet Shannon and Kislyak also used their meeting to discuss the possibility of a new meeting between Shannon and Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, the State Department said, a move that would signal the two powers were again focused on trying to establish a functioning relationship. It was unclear after their lunchtime meeting if and when such a meeting would take place.

    Ryabkov and Shannon had been slated to host an ongoing series of discussions aimed at addressing irritants that have thwarted efforts to get the U.S.-Russia relationship back on track. The goal was to resolve smaller issues first in hopes of restoring a base level of trust that could clear the way for broader discussions about Syria, Ukraine and other global crises. But Moscow nixed the second session last month to protest new Trump administration sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

    One of the irritants that Ryabkov and Shannon had been addressing in their talks, the closure of two Russian compounds in the U.S., rose to the surface on Monday as the Kremlin said it was losing patience with a U.S. plan to return them to Russian control. The recreational compounds — one in Maryland, one in New York — were shuttered in December by President Barack Obama in response to Russia’s meddling in the election. U.S. officials have said the compounds were also used by the Russians for intelligence-gathering in the U.S.

    MORE: Inside Obama’s secret deliberations on how to fight Russian election interference

    Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said Russia had shown remarkable restraint by declining to retaliate for Obama’s actions, which included expelling 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S. Ushakov insisted Russia would be obliged to respond if the compounds, also known as dachas, aren’t given back, adding that Moscow’s patience “has its limits.”

    Both Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have described relations with Russia as dismal. But while Trump’s meeting with Russia’s president could be a chance to move past old grievances, it’s also being closely watched by Trump’s critics for signs he’s being too soft on the former Cold War foe. The meeting comes amid an ongoing U.S. investigation into Russia’s election interference and potential Trump campaign collusion, in which Kislyak’s frequent interactions with Trump aides are a major focus.

    The post Diplomats try to get canceled U.S.-Russia talks back on track appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now a story about the founding of our nation.

    A distant ancestor of Rohulamin Quander was enslaved at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate in Virginia.

    Quander is now a tour guide there, where he offers a unique perspective on the contributions of African-Americans to our country’s history.

    This story was filmed, edited and produced by middle and high school students who are part of the NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs program.

    ROHULAMIN QUANDER, President, Quander Historical Society: The past always has an impact on the future. Those who do not know their past are kind of destined to repeat it.

    We have that program every year.

    I have been coming here all my life. I remember when I was like about 12 years old. But I didn’t fully understand or appreciate the family’s longstanding connection.

    We’re going to go up to the exhibit, Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

    I am a licensed tour guide in the District of Columbia, and I come and I bring groups all over the metropolitan Washington, D.C., including to George Washington’s Mount Vernon, which the Quander family has a longstanding historical connection with.

    SUSAN SCHOELWER, Co-Curator, Mount Vernon: Nancy Carter was a young girl, really, who was 11 years old in 1799 when George Washington made provisions in his will to free his slaves.

    Her mother, Suckey Bay was her name, was an enslaved woman who lived on one of Washington’s five farms and was a field hand. So when Washington freed his slaves, then Nancy Carter was free. She later married Charles Quander, who was a member of the Quander family. And so there are many descendants that come down from that and are part of the large Quander family, which, as you know, is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, documented African-American family in the country.

    ROHULAMIN QUANDER: The family history goes back into Maryland in the 1600s. We hear about the Hamiltons and the Madisons and the Jeffersons.

    Well, do we hear about the enslaved people who made sure the crops were in, who made sure the fishing was proper, who made sure the distillery was run? They were the ones who were the backbone, so that George Washington could go off and become the father of our nation.

    SUSAN SCHOELWER: You really can’t understand George Washington’s life without understanding the lives of the people whose lives were intertwined with his, whose work supported his estate.

    ROHULAMIN QUANDER: I try to instill into everyone the importance of understanding where we as Americans came from. I often say this is not a black history tour; this is an American history tour.

    DANIELLE WANDE, Visitor, Mount Vernon: I think, for me, it’s really — it gives me a sense of history to share with my kids, and it’s also really neat to be able to participate in this tour with Mr. Quander, as he has relatives and his ancestry line is here at Mount Vernon.

    SUSAN SCHOELWER: It’s also, I think, important to honor the lives and the contributions of the people who were enslaved here and elsewhere whose stories have not been told, have perhaps not been remembered, have not been appreciated.

    ROHULAMIN QUANDER: We are a bridge from the past to the present. And we have a responsibility of upholding the Quander name and lifting others as we climb.

    And it’s important for people to understand that we have earned our rights. We have built, literally physically built Mount Vernon, built the United States Capitol, built the White House, along with other people, of course.

    But we need people in the African-American diaspora to understand that we have always been a part of what constitutes America.

    The post At George Washington’s house, remembering the enslaved people who built America appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A new rule from the Obama administration says U.S. oil and gas production must cut methane emissions by nearly half in 10 years, according to the Associated Press Thursday. Photo by Shaun Stanley.

    A federal appeals court in Washington ruled Monday that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped his authority in trying to delay implementation of a new rule requiring oil and gas companies to monitor and reduce methane leaks. Photo by Shaun Stanley.

    WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court in Washington ruled Monday that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped his authority in trying to delay implementation of a new rule requiring oil and gas companies to monitor and reduce methane leaks.

    In a split decision, the three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the EPA to move forward with the Obama-era requirement that aims to reduce planet-warming emissions from oil and gas operations.

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced in April that he would delay by 90 days the deadline for oil and gas companies to follow the new rule, so that the agency could reconsider the measure. The American Petroleum Institute, the Texas Oil and Gas Association and other industry groups had petitioned Pruitt to scrap the requirement, which had been set to take effect in June.

    In a split decision, the three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the EPA to move forward with the Obama-era requirement that aims to reduce planet-warming emissions from oil and gas operations.

    Last month, Pruitt announced he intended to extend the 90-day stay for two years. A coalition of six environmental groups opposed the delay in court, urging the appeals judges to block Pruitt’s decision.

    In a detailed 31-page ruling, the court disagreed with Pruitt’s contention that industry groups had not had sufficient opportunity to comment before the 2016 rule was enacted. The judges also said Pruitt lacked the legal authority to delay the rule from taking effect.

    “This ruling declares EPA’s action illegal — and slams the brakes on Trump Administration’s brazen efforts to put the interests of corporate polluters ahead of protecting the public and the environment,” said David Doniger, director of climate and clean air program for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    EPA spokeswoman Amy Graham said the agency was reviewing the court’s opinion and examining its options. The EPA could seek to appeal the matter to the Supreme Court.

    MORE: EPA launching program to challenge climate science

    Natural gas is largely made up of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps dozens of times more heat in the planet’s atmosphere than the same amount of carbon dioxide. Environmental groups contend that actual methane emissions from leaks and intentional venting at fossil-fuel operations are many times greater than what is now publicly reported.

    Oil and gas companies say they were already working to reduce methane emissions and that complying with the new rules would make many low-production wells unprofitable.

    Pruitt has repeatedly moved in recent months to block or delay environmental regulations opposed by corporate interests.

    Prior to his appointment by President Donald Trump to serve as the nation’s chief environmental regulator, Pruitt was attorney general of Oklahoma and closely aligned with the state’s oil and gas industry. In recent weeks, Pruitt has moved to scrap or delay numerous EPA regulations enacted during the Obama administration to curb air and water pollution from fossil fuel operations.

    The post Court rejects Pruitt’s delay of Obama-era methane rule appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: a new take on a literary classic.

    Jeffrey Brown has the newest addition to the NewsHour Bookshelf.

    JEFFREY BROWN: A king sacrifices his own daughter to appease the gods. His wife takes revenge by killing her husband.

    The story of King Agamemnon, Queen Clytemnestra and their children, set against the backdrop of the Trojan War, is quite literally the stuff of Greek tragedy. And now comes a new telling in “House of Names,” a novel by one of today’s leading writers, Colm Toibin. His acclaimed books include “The Master,” “Nora Webster,” and “Brooklyn,” which was made into a film in 2015.

    Welcome to you.

    COLM TOIBIN, Author, “House of Names”: Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, what is this, a retelling, a rethinking? What are you doing here?

    COLM TOIBIN: Yes, it’s a retelling of the story.

    And this is the great story of war within a family, of a family at war. It’s an intimate war. So, as, for example, the war in Syria is going on, if you want some version of that as to a sort of myth, a sense of how — what it looks like when this happens intimately, rather than, say, one country at war with another, then I thought, this is the great story, this is the myth of origin of all civil wars.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But it is, as you say, at heart, a family drama, a family tragedy.

    Does it feel — I have read others of your books that are set in an Ireland that you know or that you might have lived — that you have lived in. Did it feel like these characters were as alive as you as those, others?


    Once you start working with a family, you’re working with two sorts of feeling, which is elemental love. But if that goes wrong, you get rage and hatred on a new sort of level.

    And I suppose I was attempting to use a contemporary novelist system. I mean, it is set in ancient Greece, but, psychologically, trying to establish, why would a woman murder her husband? She’s not a psychopath. But she’s got very good reasons to murder her husband.


    COLM TOIBIN: I mean, he’s behaved atrociously toward her.

    But much harder for one to imagine how would a son murder his own mother. And so I was — yes, I became absolutely involved, as though I knew them, as though I could see everything they did, working in detail all the time with each of them and their motives and their shifting motives and the rage they felt.

    But they were also eating together in the evening. I mean, when Orestes comes home, his mother, like any mother, says, oh, my God, I hope your bedroom is OK for you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, the little details of everyday life.


    And his sisters hugging him, but actually what they all have in mind is, where are the weapons? What are they eventually going to do?

    JEFFREY BROWN: You told this in alternating voices, but especially the voice, the woman’s voice, Clytemnestra, in a first person, right, I, I, I?


    There’s a late play by Euripides called “Iphigenia in Aulis,” which tells the story from her point of view. She was lured to the camp. Her husband said there was going to be a wedding. But, in fact, they were going to sacrifice her daughter.

    So that I wanted to open it with her, with her voice saying, I have been acquainted with the smell of death.


    JEFFREY BROWN: That’s literally the opening line.

    COLM TOIBIN: Yes, that’s the opening line.

    And it’s meant to be — it’s meant to describe how she took a lover, so she could get someone to help her. And she planned everything down — so this is a novel, also, besides about family, it’s about power. And so anyone who is ever seeking power should read this book, because it gives you a look into how much planning you have to do for that single moment.

    If you get one thing wrong, everything goes wrong. And so she plans to kill her husband when he returns victorious from the Trojan War.

    JEFFREY BROWN: From the beginning in ancient times to now, these stories are about the cycle of violence, right?

    And I know that in the plays and in Greek times, they’re looking back at, how did it all begin, right? What led to one death after another? But it also raises the question of how does it ever end, right?


    That with any civil war — for example, the troubles in Northern Ireland or what’s happening in Syria — it begins with one killing. And then it’s impossible to put the genie back in the bottle. It’s retaliation after retaliation.

    So, the violence within a civil war or violence with a gang feud is always a spiral. It’s one and then it’s five. And then it’s something atrocious occurs further. So to that extent, we’re still living in that idea of violence not as a single act, but as a cycle.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You also have in this, as in others of your works, questions of morality, questions of religion. You have Queen Clytemnestra saying that the gods have gone, right? But we’re living in a new age.

    COLM TOIBIN: It’s very hard to put the gods into a contemporary novel.

    So I had early on in the book I had Clytemnestra as different from the others, because she doesn’t pray to the gods or appeal to the gods. She has will. She makes the decisions.

    So what I wanted to do was move it away from the godly into the idea of it’s people who cause this, not the gods. These killings are done by people who decide to do them as people, rather than having this almighty power.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Just ask you one general question about writing, because I saw where you said once that a novel really begins for you in a sentence, that a sentence somehow — and this is the quote I saw — contains the full weight of a novel.

    That’s an interesting idea.


    You have something on one side of your head. And I don’t know if — I’m not a brain surgeon, but one side of your head might store information or an idea or a memory or something. And that moves of its own accord into rhythm.

    And you get a line, that line, I have been acquainted with the smell of death. And once you get that, you can then work. Until you get it, you can’t. And so you wait for it. But once it’s there, there’s no point in waiting for it again. You must work.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. Then the work comes of actually writing the book. Right?

    COLM TOIBIN: Yes. Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the new novel is “House of Names.”

    Colm Toibin, thank you very much.

    Thanks, Jeff. Thank you very much.

    The post Colm Toibin sees the ‘origin of all civil wars’ in this Greek tragedy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the wake of the 2016 election, many undocumented immigrants across this country have become anxious and fearful of increased immigration enforcement.

    Tonight, the story about one family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where the children are American citizens, but the parents are not.

    From Milwaukee Public Television, Portia Young reports.

    PORTIA YOUNG: Every morning, Lola Flores gets her children ready for school, and her husband, Jose, plays with their youngest daughter before leaving for work.

    But for Jose and Lola, ever since the new presidential administration took over, each morning has become the start of another day of living in fear, fear that they may be separated from their four children, who are American citizens, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, due to increased immigration enforcement.

    LOLA FLORES, Undocumented Parent: The more important thing for my family is that we stay together. I can’t imagine a separation with my littlest. We live with fear every day, and it’s not easy.

    JOSE FLORES, Undocumented Parent (through interpreter): If I get deported, I don’t know what will happen with my children.

    PORTIA YOUNG: Their 15-year old daughter, Leslie, is equally frightened her parents may be arrested by Immigration Customs Enforcement agents, or ICE.

    LESLIE FLORES, Daughter: I am worried that there’s been rumors that there’s been raids. And I’m scared that, what if they go to the store and they get taken by ICE?

    PORTIA YOUNG: The Flores family says it is not just the risk of deportation that scares many of the families, but also the negative attitude that anti-immigrant supporters have taken against undocumented immigrants since President Trump took office.

    JOSE FLORES (through interpreter): A person came to me and said: “Nice truck and nice family, but get the hell out of this country.”

    My son then turned around to look at me and said: “What happened, daddy? Why is this person telling us this?”

    I told my son: “It’s nothing. Don’t worry.”

    And then the man said: “Get out of this country. This is not your country. We have a new president now and his name is Donald Trump.”

    So this hurts me and breaks my heart, not for me, but because of the experience my little boy went through.

    PORTIA YOUNG: Jose and Lola have lived in the U.S. for 20 years. With the ongoing violence among cartels, going back to Mexico, their country of origin, they say, would be very difficult, if not deadly.

    JOSE FLORES (through interpreter): I cannot go back to a country like this.

    BRIAN WESTRATE, Chair, Wisconsin Republican Party – 3rd District:  I don’t know anyone who wishes to take Mr. Flores and his wife and deport them, make their four children parentless here in the United States.

    PORTIA YOUNG: Brian Westrate, chairman of the Wisconsin 3rd District Republican Party, says the current laws for legalization should be changed.

    BRIAN WESTRATE: We need to work together, and by we, the American people, but through our representatives, because, again, they are the only ones that can write law. They are the only ones who can change law. We need to work together to come up with a pathway to legalization.

    PORTIA YOUNG: Others believe more security is needed.

    DEANNA ALEXANDER, Milwaukee County Supervisor: We would be much better off if we could welcome as many immigrants who would love to come here and to support that American dream for them.

    PORTIA YOUNG: As a former member of the Army National Guard, Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander has been on the front lines of the U.S.-Mexico border. And it’s her experiences there that have her calling for increased law enforcement and tougher security.

    DEANNA ALEXANDER: Living in a world with terrorism and drug smuggling and people who would do Americans harm on purpose And by choice or through their own negligence, we have to be conscientious of what that means, and be careful of who we allow to come in our door.

    PORTIA YOUNG: Immigration attorney Cain Oulahan, who is giving legal advice to the Flores family, says a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants such as the Flores is not easy to obtain.

    CAIN OULAHAN, Immigration Attorney: You can only really get it if you have, For example, a family member who is a permanent resident or U.S. citizen to apply for you. And if you don’t have that, it is very difficult and oftentimes impossible to get legal status under our current laws.

    PORTIA YOUNG: Under the current immigration laws, the only current solution for the Lola and Jose to start a process for legal status would be through their children. But for a U.S. citizen child to petition for a parent, the child must be at least 21 years of age.

    LESLIE FLORES: Well, it feels good to know that there’s a point in my life that I can help them like they have helped me. But it’s hard to know that. I’m 15 right now, and that’s until you are 21, I believe. So it’s a long to be waiting. But we are going to try our best to do that.

    PORTIA YOUNG: Last summer, the Flores family tracked down their governor, Republican Scott Walker, at a presidential campaign event in Iowa to confront him about Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, known as DAPA, created under President Obama.

    LESLIE FLORES: Why are you blocking DAPA?

    GOV. SCOTT WALKER, R-Wis.: I’m the governor. I don’t have anything to do with it right now, but thanks, though.

    LESLIE FLORES: I went that time because I have seen, heard and read about his politics and his views. And I don’t agree with that. And, well, that time, I went because of my family and my friends. And I told him, why do you want to deport my family? Why are you against DAPA?

    LESLIE FLORES: Answer my question. Why are you trying to break my family apart?

    GOV. SCOTT WALKER: I want to spend 30 seconds answering you question.

    For us, we are a nation of laws. And, unfortunately, the president last year, after saying 22 times before last year that he couldn’t make the law himself, said he wasn’t the emperor, he’s the president of the United States, and he said he couldn’t change the law, he decided to change the law, even though the courts have now said he can’t do that.

    My point is you have got to follow the law, follow the process. I completely sympathize with the situation you are all in and others.

    PORTIA YOUNG: GOP Party district Chair Brian Westrate says the Republicans must find a way to incorporate immigrants.

    BRIAN WESTRATE: And speaking for the Republican Party, there is a great deal of compassion and acknowledgement that our society is largely better off with people like the Flores family in it than without it.

    At the same time, we have to find a pathway to legalization. The solution cannot simply be to just continue to let them exist in the shadows.

    PORTIA YOUNG: Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander says her own parents were immigrants, so she understands people wanting to come to the U.S. for a better life.

    DEANNA ALEXANDER: But I also understand that we have some major problems, and it may not be just at our southern border. We have some major problems with people who want to break our laws or do our society great harm that will come to this country with any opportunity they have.

    PORTIA YOUNG: The message Jose Flores would like to get across: Immigrants are not bad people.

    JOSE FLORES (through interpreter): We all came here to work, and I have behaved correctly in this country. I contribute to this country and I try to do everything the right way and stay out of trouble. I just don’t have a Social Security or a working permit, but that is all.

    Neither I nor my family are criminals, and there are many like me who are not criminals.

    PORTIA YOUNG: It’s a message the Flores family hopes will resonate with lawmakers and around the country.

    For PBS NewsHour, I’m Portia Young in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: bringing help to developing countries for a widely untreated birth defect.

    Fred de Sam Lazaro has a report from India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, on a condition called club foot.

    Its part of his ongoing series Agents for Change.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It only sounds painful. This wailing 5-year-old is receiving the very same treatment, a full leg plaster cast, as this young, perfectly happy infant.

    The therapy here in Mumbai’s Wadia Charitable Hospital will save these children from a life of pain and social isolation that comes from club foot. It’s a common birth defect that, in wealthy countries, is usually corrected early in life. But in the developing world, it remains largely untreated and becomes a disability, says orthopedist Dr. Alaric Aroojis.

    DR. ALARIC AROOJIS, Orthopedist: It is probably the second or third important cause of physical disability in India, after road traffic accidents and trauma. It’s more of a cosmetic problem initially. And as they grow older and they can find that they can no longer play with their friends, that’s when it starts sinking in that this is a functional problem as well.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Club foot is congenital birth defect in which a foot, in some cases both feet, grow inward. Patients learn to walk on the side of the foot.

    Twenty-six-year-old Madhu Varma says it’s painful for sustained periods, but like most sufferers, she’s learned to adapt. What she could not deal with was the sight of her daughter, Madhuri, when she too was born with club foot.

    MADHU VARMA, Mother With Clubfoot (through interpreter): It was really difficult. I cried for days when I saw my child’s foot. I could not eat. I was just sick with worry. But they told me that, with plaster, they could treat it.

    DR. ALARIC AROOJIS: So this is the daughter and this is the mother. And the daughter’s foot is fully corrected.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That correction once required extensive surgery, Dr. Aroojis says. Now treatment in most cases is a series of casts over several weeks:, less invasive, less expensive and less painful.

    DR. ALARIC AROOJIS: It’s such a supple method. We don’t force the foot in any way at all. So, as you can see, that every time we move the foot just as much as the child allows. This is a procedure which is done without any anesthetic.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Once corrected, patients like 5-year-old Nishant wear a brace attached to an outward-facing pair of shoes. In a few months, as in this case, it’s only needed at night and nap time. Nishant shows no sign of an abnormal gait. His parents, struggling slum dwellers, spent hundreds of dollars at ill-equipped and poorly informed private clinics with little success.

    KETAN DHEPE, Father of Child With Clubfoot (through interpreter): We had never heard of club foot until he was born. We felt terrible, but when we brought him to Mumbai, two or three people told me that Wadia Hospital has the best treatment.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That treatment was developed by an orthopedic surgeon named Ignacio Ponseti half-a-world away here in Iowa and half-a-century ago. It would take decades before the Ponseti method became standard practice for treating club foot.

    Why do you suppose it took as long as it did?

    CHESCA COLLOREDO-MANSFELD, Executive Director and Co-founder, MiracleFeet: One is that the kinds of people that were treating club foot, at least in the U.S., were orthopedic surgeons. And I think they became surgeons for a reason. They like doing surgery. And this was introducing a nonsurgical technique. And I think there was some resistance to that.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Chesca Colloredo-Mansfeld, a business consultant, lived in Iowa city, where Ponseti, a Spanish immigrant, was a local legend.

    CHESCA COLLOREDO-MANSFELD: Dr. Ponseti’s dying wish — he was in his 90s at that time — was to try to get his treatment out to the rest of the world.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Colloredo-Mansfeld started one of several nonprofit efforts to fulfill Dr. Ponseti’s wish to take the nonsurgical approach, finally standard in the U.S., to developing countries.

    She co-founded a charity in 2010 called Miracle Feet, supported mostly by high net worth individuals and foundations. It’s taken the Ponseti method and message to clinics in 19 countries so far, with some 23,000 patients, including those in Mumbai, providing training and supplies at low or no cost, including braces patients will use after their cast treatments are done.

    In India, casting is done by surgeons, but in countries where they aren’t available, non-physicians are trained. Another key role is that of clinic assistants, paid by Miracle Feet.

    CHESCA COLLOREDO-MANSFELD: They work to educate that family during the bracing phase to make sure that the children wear the brace at night and complete the treatment over the next four years.

    So, the correction itself only takes two to three months, but the follow-up period of maintaining that correction is absolutely critical.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Veteran orthopedic surgeon Rujuta Mehta says parents of club foot patients, once terrified at the prospect and cost of surgery, are elated when they discover it’s no longer needed.

    DR. RUJUTA MEHTA, Orthopedic Surgeon: The acceptability, therefore, of Ponseti is huge.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Its much simpler, less intimidating and it’s cheaper?

    DR. RUJUTA MEHTA: Yes, absolutely. Yes, it’s cheaper. And this is the kind of thing you can apply in a public health program.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The number of children being treated has tripled over the past decade or so. Yet five out of six club foot patients go untreated in developing countries like India, still enduring an easily correctable condition for the rest of their lives.

    So the challenge is to get the word out early?

    DR. RUJUTA MEHTA: Absolutely, and the more awareness there, the earlier they come, the easier to treat, the better the deformity correction.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: A deformity that is correctable even in adulthood, as Madhu Varma discovered when getting her daughter treated. She became the oldest patient this clinic has ever treated.

    DR. ALARIC AROOJIS: There’s a very good possibility that, just with serial castings by the Ponseti method, we should be able to get a full correction in her.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: She had a wedding to attend, she told the doctors, where she and daughter Madhuri would be able to dance.

    For the PBS NewsHour, this is Fred de Sam Lazaro in Mumbai.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And that is something to celebrate.

    Fred’s reporting is a partnership with the Under-Told Stories Project at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But first, we examine the results from our latest PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll, the president’s continued attacks against the media, and the battle over health care on Capitol Hill.

    It’s time for Politics Monday with Tamara Keith of NPR and Stu Rothenberg, senior editor at Inside Elections.

    And welcome to you both on this day before the Fourth of July. Thank you for wearing red, white and blue.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Tam, the White House is saying they fully expect that some version of a reform plan that the Republicans like is going to pass the Senate, going to pass Congress.

    What does your reporting tell you?

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR: It’s possible, though, at the moment, Mitch McConnell has described the effort to find a health care bill that 50 Republicans can support in the Senate as like working with a Rubik’s Cube. Like, you move one piece, and then some other piece moves out of the way.

    It’s a very delicate negotiation that’s happening right now. It’s not clear that they will get there. Some of the Medicaid tests that were just discussed in the last segment are a hangup. There are other hangups for more conservative Republicans.

    But they are highly motivated to get to a win, and so you can’t discount the motivation that exists to find a way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Stu, I think I have you asked this question before, so what is the calculus? And if you’re a Senate Republican, what are you thinking?

    STUART ROTHENBERG, Inside Elections: Yes, I think the choice is not passing anything, or passing something that’s going to be broadly unpopular, but is going to find a lot of support from within Republican and conservative circles. That’s the choice.

    And for most Republicans, I think for most Republicans strategists, campaign strategists, passing something is a strong imperative. It’s , you have to do something for the base, even if you risk alienating the larger electorate.

    For individual members, that has different equations. For somebody like Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, Susan Collins, Rand Paul, Rob Portman, they have their own considerations, ideological or state-based.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But it still looks, Tam, like it’s really hard to square the circle or circle the square.

    TAMARA KEITH: Yes, at this point, it does look that way, but you know what?

    It kind of looked that way in the House, too. It looked like it was a dead bill, so we were calling it a zombie bill. And then next thing you knew, boom, they passed it. They came up with a compromise that didn’t seem to materially change anything, and yet it passed, and they were able to move it over to the Senate.

    And so, you know, don’t declare this thing dead. It could be back.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So maybe, Stu, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: And where there’s a Mitch McConnell, there’s always a possibility.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, so let’s talk about something else, and that is, Tam, back to the president’s tweets. He’s tweeted I guess a couple of times about health care, but he’s tweeted a number of times about the news media.

    Last week, it was the cable show hosts Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough. But yesterday there was this new tweet where it was sort of an edited video of the president pummeling a man on the ground, we’re showing it here, with CNN over his face.

    How do we interpret this?

    TAMARA KEITH: There are many ways to interpret it, but, you know, President Trump, as a candidate and now as a president, to use the wrestling analogy, he wanted a heel. He needs a heel. He needs a foe.

    And, you know, he has decided that the media is going to be his foe, his heel in this wrestling match that is his presidency. And so, I mean, that image, that video is a pretty perfect description of the way he is approaching this.

    Having that fight, having that feud really excites some people who support him. Now, there are others who are turned off by it and, you know, we could go down the road of the dangers of having a video that looks like it is encouraging violence against members of the media, but it works for — this is the same Donald Trump who ran for president and won.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How does it advance his cause now?

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Yes, first of all, I think Tam is exactly right on this. I would just add two things.

    One is, it advances his cause by mobilizing and motivating his base. They love it when he attacks the media. They really think it’s exciting and they agree with him. And I’m sure we will talk about how the media is not held in the highest regard.

    Second of all, he enjoys it. It’s all — look, let’s remember, Judy, he did that in that wrestling show. He actually did that. It’s his ego. He wants to be the center of attention. He wants to be the focus of everything. And I think he just has a lot of fun when he does that.

    And for Donald Trump, it’s more fun to do that than to actually get into the weeds in public policy.

    TAMARA KEITH: And I was talking to Republican consultant today who was like, yes, it’s a distraction, but maybe it’s a welcome distraction, because if the people are talking about his tweets and talking about WrestleMania, then they aren’t talking about Medicaid cuts.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, of course, there’s been the role of a free press in a democracy, one of the pillars of our form of government in this country. But we can — we could talk about that another time.

    I do want to raise in our last few minutes this new CNN — I’m sorry — I had CNN on the brain from the video — the new poll that the NewsHour and NPR did in conjunction with Marist, where, one of the things we looked at, Stu, exactly what you mentioned, high distrust of the news media.

    More than two-thirds of Americans, they were asked, what do you think about trust in institutions? And here it is. Thirty-seven percent, a good deal or a great amount of trust in the Trump administration, 30 percent, even less, trust in the news — in the media, and 20, about on same par as trust in Congress.

    And you go on to see trust in the intelligence community, twice that much, 60 percent, and in the courts, 60 percent.

    But the bottom line here, Stu, is that the media may be a good whipping boy.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Yes, and I think the public sees the media as a political institution, just as they see the White House, the president and Congress.

    And, right now, nobody trusts politicians or people covering politicians. It’s a horrible trend. I look back at the Gallup numbers in the early 1970s, and those of us in the media are regarded much worse than we were back then. But it’s been occurring over the last couple of decades.

    TAMARA KEITH: Republican Senator Ben Sasse over the weekend said something that goes in conjunction with the tweets and fits with these numbers too.

    He said he was concerned that the president was trying to weaponize distrust. And then here’s the quote: “We are at risk of getting to a place where we don’t have a shared set of public facts. The republic will not work if we don’t have shared facts.”

    These numbers are part of a very long trend of institutions losing trust from the American people. And that puts America at risk.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quickly, in the last 30 seconds, I want to show our audience and you this — the other question in the poll.

    Since President Trump was elected, has the overall tone and level of civility in Washington gotten worse? Seventy percent. Stayed the same, 20 improved, 6.

    Stu, I guess no surprise here.


    Some people actually see what they want to see. Strong Republican — 17 percent said that it improved. And white evangelicals, 10 percent had — they said improved. But the overall sample is very clear and, in fact, very correct. Things have deteriorated. They’re coarser. They’re more vulgar. It’s not a time of better tone.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we are glad to promote civility here at the NewsHour.

    Stu Rothenberg, Tamara Keith, thank you both.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Thanks, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can find more about these findings from our joint PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll. And that’s on our website, pbs.org/newshour.

    The PBS NewsHour/ NPR/ Marist College Institute for Public Opinion poll contacted 1,205 U.S. adults using landline and mobile phones between June 21 and June 25. There is a 2.8 percent margin of error.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: A new study by one of the nation’s biggest health insurance companies provides a startling look at the toll that prescription opioids are taking on its policy-holders.

    William Brangham has that.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield analyzed medical records for 30 million of its customers. And it found some striking results.

    In 2015, roughly 20 percent of their customers, one in five, filled at least one prescription for opioid painkillers. Almost half of those patients were prescribed high doses of those drugs, which are more likely to cause dependence.

    And, indeed, between 2010 and 2016, the rate of abuse or addiction to those painkillers shot up dramatically by almost 500 percent, this while the rate of medically assisted treatment, considered the most successful way to curb those addictions, grew by just 65 percent in the same time frame.

    The report also detailed differences in opioid abuse between men and women and among different parts of the country.

    For more on this, I’m joined now by Dr. Trent Haywood. He’s the chief medical officer for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

    Welcome to the NewsHour.

    This is a very, very interesting set of data that you have produced from your patients’ records. We have said one in five have had a prescription for these painkillers, obviously, most of them for very legitimate pain-suppression needs. But we have also discovered here that the rate of addiction has shot up.

    Why do you think that has been happening?

    DR. TRENT HAYWOOD, Chief Medical Officer, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association: Well, one of the things, the reason why we wanted to focus on this particular issue is just what you just alluded to, the escalation in the opioid addiction from physicians prescribing these particular opioids.

    Starting in the ’90s, we really went aggressive as physicians making sure that we address pain. Unfortunately, it was found out later, as we are starting to see unfold now, we underestimated the risk related to that particular high doses of prescribing those particular opioids. And now we are suffering the consequences of that.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Some of this data that you guys have put together, it is not necessarily new news. Why hasn’t the message seemingly gotten out to the medical community just how serious these drugs really are?

    DR. TRENT HAYWOOD: Well, one of the things that we know when it comes to medicine and the practice of medicine is that it really requires a substantial amount of time for it to change.

    We’re headed into the independence holiday, and so people are moving off to make sure that they enjoy times with their friends and family, but as this report highlights, all of us won’t necessarily be independent this particular day, because whether it be your family, whether it be your neighbor’s family or whether it be someone down the block, we’re all struggling with this issue of opioid addiction.

    Over two million Americans each year are suffering from this opioid addiction. And what is key about that particular aspect is that it’s not one specific demographic.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The treatments, the best-known treatments for these addictions have barely kept up with the pace. Why do you think that is?

    DR. TRENT HAYWOOD: We’re talking about someone moving from what would normally would be an acute situation to a chronic condition.

    And so this opioid addiction is a chronic condition and we need to treat it that way. We need to make certain these people are not only in treatment, but they have the necessary support for the chronic condition that they have.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: If I am a policy holder of Blue Cross Blue Shield and I recognize that I have a substance problem, and I come and I try to get treatment for that, will my policy cover that addiction treatment?


    So, one of the reasons why we’re highlighting this is because you — actually make certain that you follow up at your local plan level to get that treatment. So, this is something that is actually covered in most members’ policies. And so you absolutely should be following up to get that treatment.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: One of the things I was also struck by in your report is the gender differences.

    It seemed that younger — when the genders are younger, when men and women are younger, men seem to be more vulnerable. But as we age, women seem to become more vulnerable to addiction. Do you have a sense of why that is?

    DR. TRENT HAYWOOD: One of the reasons why we think women are being impacted as we get into an older age group is the fact that they’re appropriately following up with their physicians.

    If you think about it, the more that you are following up, the more likely that you’re going to be prescribed an opioid. And so we’re seeing women are actually at an accelerated pace the more that we get into the older age groups. And so that’s the correlation that you’re seeing, why women would necessarily be higher, because they are more predisposed to actually getting that prescribed opioid.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: At the very moment we’re talking, the Senate is debating a health care bill that could eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid. Medicaid itself pays for much of addiction treatment around the country.

    Do you share concern of many that, if this bill were to become law, that this — those cuts to Medicaid could only worsen an already awful epidemic?

    DR. TRENT HAYWOOD: From every indication, this particular issue is not partisan at all.

    So, whether you’re on the right or on the left, what we have understood is, as relates to the opioid epidemic, both sides of the aisle are eager to be able to address that particular concern.

    And so, while there may be broader implications as it relates to health care reform, on this particular topic, I think we all stand together as Americans.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Dr. Trent Haywood, chief medical officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield, thank you so much.

    DR. TRENT HAYWOOD: Thank you.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: As Republicans in Congress struggle to reach agreement on a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, we have heard from a variety of interested parties in recent weeks and months.

    They have included hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, advocates for the homeless and those with disabilities, as well as lawmakers from both political parties.

    Tonight, we turn to the March of Dimes and its president, Stacey Stewart. It’s a nonprofit that focuses on the health needs of mothers and babies, especially with regard to preventing premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality.

    Stacey Stewart, thank you very much for being here.

    So, what is your main concern with the Senate version of this health care reform plan?

    STACEY STEWART, President, March of Dimes: Well, the March of Dimes, as you mentioned, what we care about is the health of pregnant women and their babies.

    And our main concern with the Senate bill, as it’s proposed, is that it would put at risk the health of many of those women and their babies. Medicaid today covers about half of all pregnancies in the United States and there are about 30 million children that are covered by Medicaid.

    Under what the Senate has proposed, about 6.5 million low-income women of child-bearing age would lose their coverage under Medicaid. And we think that that puts at risk those women in terms of them being able to access prenatal care and all the things they need to do to have a healthy baby, have a healthy pregnancy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, about half of pregnant women in this country depend on government help in order to have a healthy pregnancy?


    So, what Medicaid covers is — it generally covers a lot of low-income women who are pregnant and making sure they have the help they need in prenatal care and also in delivering the baby.

    But what it also covers, and what a lot of people don’t understand, is that, if a baby is born too soon, born premature, if a baby is born with low birth weight or a baby has defects, Medicaid also covers many of those babies as well. So it ends up covering a lot of the babies and providing the support that many women and families need to make sure they can have a healthy pregnancy and have the support that babies need if there are complications.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I think there hasn’t been a great deal of talk about prevention, but you were telling us that prevention is a very — is a big part of this.

    STACEY STEWART: Well, I think one of the big conversations that is going on right now is, how do we stabilize the health market?

    And I think — how do we stabilize Medicaid and I think stabilize health care in general? And I think one of the conversations we really need to have as a country is, how do we begin to do even more, to put more of the emphasis on prevention and care earlier on, vs. having a system that really is funding a lot of chronic disease and illness?

    So, one of the reasons we focus so much on maternity coverage and prenatal care is because that’s what happens to enable those women to have healthy babies. If they get the help they need, and certainly even before they get pregnant, if they are healthy before they even get pregnant, that is going to be what creates the best outcome for that baby.

    And so healthy women equals healthy babies. The more and more we can put more emphasis on early prevention efforts and fund a system that actually focuses on that, we think will improve health outcomes, reduce cost, reduce premiums, which is what I think everybody wants.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Isn’t it the case, though, Stacey Stewart, that, under traditional Medicaid, states are required to cover pregnancy, to cover prenatal care, to cover babies?

    So, even if Medicaid is scaled back, which looks like would be the case under the Senate plan, the Republican plan, they would still be required to cover women in these circumstances, wouldn’t they?

    STACEY STEWART: Well, the problem is, is that with reductions as they’re proposed, we’re not exactly sure if — how much of the need would be covered.

    That’s always a question. And with women coming off of Medicaid coverage as a result of the pullback of the expansion of Medicaid, I think there is a real concern that we have. And, of course, the concern isn’t just in the Medicaid market. The concern is also in the private market.

    So, what a lot of people don’t realize is, before the Affordable Care Act, private health care plans didn’t necessarily include maternity coverage as a requirement, as did employer-based plans or Medicaid.

    And so we have got to look at the totality of the health care system in making sure that all women, irrespective of them being in a private plan or Medicaid, have access to those resources they need. And we believe that much of the support that women need could be at risk. And that’s what our primary concern is.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you answer the argument from conservatives that, look, something has got to be done, that Medicaid has grown at a rate that’s just out of control, cannot be sustained, and unless some methods are found to scale that back, Medicaid is not going to be there in the long term for people who need it?

    STACEY STEWART: Well, we share that concern.

    Obviously, the costs of Medicaid are exorbitant and they’re growing. But let’s look at what’s really going on in the Medicaid market. You have got a lot of low-income women, many women of color.

    And what we see are health outcomes not improving. One of the big concerns that we have at the March of Dimes is we just — the government just issued some statistics showing that pre-term birth rates have now increased for the second time in the past two years, after some decline over the past seven years.

    Health outcomes are not improving for pregnant mothers and babies. It’s actually going down. And so, one of the things that we can do to control the costs of Medicaid and health care in general, again, is to focus on what all early interventions can be put in place, what prevention methods could be put in place to educate and inform and provide the support and the health care coverage that women need, so that both kind of health outcomes can be avoided.

    If we can avoid those health outcomes, then we can avoid the cost in the system, and then we can keep those costs under control, so that we have a much more manageable system over time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We have heard on occasion from Republicans the argument, why should men, especially single men, be required to buy — to have coverage that includes maternity and birth costs?

    STACEY STEWART: Well, that argument just goes against what insurance is all about.

    We all buy insurance for things we — that may never happen to us. We all buy insurance for a lot of things, including health insurance for health outcomes that we may never suffer from.

    And the fact that women are responsible for child-bearing does not mean that they’re responsible for creating the baby in the first place by themselves. It takes men and women together to create babies.

    And so we believe it’s very important that the insurance market cover those things that are risks that each one of us individually may not experience, but they are risks and there are costs that are in the system that are important to make sure get covered.

    So I think it’s really important to say, look, when we buy insurance, we buy it for a lot of things that we personally may not experience or be impacted by, but that’s the point of having insurance and that’s the point of having a larger pool of risk included in insurance, so that it reduces the cost for everyone to participate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Stacey Stewart, the president of the March of Dimes, and the debate goes on. Thank you.

    STACEY STEWART: Thank you so much, Judy.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Spending fights in states across the country are heating up over this long Fourth of July holiday period, and none hotter than in New Jersey.

    This was day three of a state government shutdown with Republican Governor Chris Christie and Democratic lawmakers at odds over the annual budget. Christie was being criticized Sunday for using the governor’s official residence at one of New Jersey’s public beaches that are now closed to the public.

    MARY BRITT, New Jersey Resident: He has a place to go. So as long as he can go and his family can have a good holiday, I guess that’s more important than the people of New Jersey. It’s very sad.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Christie dismissed the criticism today in a phone call to a morning TV show. Asked about people being upset, he said, “Well, I’m sorry they’re not the governor.”

    Meanwhile, Maine’s state government is also partially shut down over a budget fight. And lawmakers in Illinois are back in session, trying to resolve a budget standoff that’s now in its third year.

    President Trump shows no signs of backing off his public feud with the news media. He tweeted criticism today of the media, claiming that news organizations are not covering his administration’s successes. The president drew new criticism on Sunday after he tweeted mock video of him tackling a man with a CNN logo over his face.

    China’s President Xi Jinping warned President Trump today that U.S.-China relations are being harmed by a series of problems initiated by the United States. They include a new U.S. arms deal with Taiwan and American sanctions against a Chinese bank for its dealings with North Korea.

    Chinese state TV gave Beijing’s assessment of the call.

    PENG KUN, CCTV (through interpreter): Xi Jinping stressed to Mr. President Trump that since our meeting at the Mar-a-Lago resort, U.S.-China relations achieved important results. At the same time, the relationship between both countries has been impacted by some negative factors. We hope the U.S. can act earnestly in accordance with the one-China principle.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The phone call also came hours after the destroyer USS Stethem, seen here last summer, again sailed near a disputed island in the South China Sea.

    Iraqi army units in Mosul closed in today on the last sliver of the city still held by a few hundred Islamic State fighters. The government troops were backed by heavy airstrikes by the U.S. coalition. ISIS fought back with female suicide bombers in Mosul and elsewhere. They killed at least 15 people in the last 24 hours. One of bombers was just 15 years old.

    In Germany, 18 people were killed when a bus full of senior citizens crashed this morning. Police say the bus rear-ended a semi-truck in Bavaria, and then burst into flames. Nearly 200 emergency workers joined the response and tried to recover bodies from the charred wreckage. Authorities say the heat from the fire was so intense, only the bus’ twisted frame was left.

    Back in this country, automakers posted another poor showing for June, with sales numbers tumbling for the sixth straight month. Fiat Chrysler fell more than 7 percent, while Ford and GM were down roughly 5 percent. Meanwhile, Korean automaker Hyundai posted a 19 percent loss. Analysts say a downturn was expected after last year’s record sales numbers.

    Wall Street cut short its trading day, ahead of the Fourth of July, but banks and energy companies made the most of it. They led the Dow Jones industrial average higher, adding 129 points to close at 21479. The Nasdaq fell 30 points, and the S&P 500 gained five.

    And on the eve of the Fourth of July, there’s new evidence that Americans need to brush up on their history. In a NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll, only 77 percent correctly said the United States won independence from Britain. The rest were unsure or named another country, including Russia and Afghanistan. Even fewer, only 69 percent, knew that the American colonies declared their independence in the year 1776.

    Got to work on that.

    The post News Wrap: Chris Christie draws fire for using closed state beach appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 is seen in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, July, 4 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. - RTX39YI2

    The intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 is seen in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, July, 4 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. – RTX39YI2

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump criticized North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after that country’s latest missile launch, asking, “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?”

    Trump wrote on Twitter late Monday that it’s “Hard to believe that South Korea … and Japan will put up with this much longer.”

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

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

    And he urged North Korea’s biggest ally, China, to “put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”

    South Korean officials said early Tuesday that North Korea had launched another ballistic missile toward Japan, part of a string of recent test-firings as the North works to build a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the United States.

    For its part, North Korea claimed to have tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile. But its declaration conflicted with South Korean and U.S. assessments earlier.

    The U.S. Defense Department said U.S. Pacific Command detected and tracked the launch of a land-based, intermediate range ballistic missile from North Korea’s Panghyon Airfield. The missile was tracked for 37 minutes and landed in the Sea of Japan.

    North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un reacts during the test-fire of intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, July, 4 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. - RTX39YID

    North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un reacts during the test-fire of intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, July, 4 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. – RTX39YID

    A test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, if confirmed, would be a major step forward in developing a nuclear-armed missile that could reach the United States.

    Shortly before Trump’s tweets, the White House said he had been briefed on the South Korean report.

    The missile launch comes as the Trump administration has displayed increasing frustration with China’s reluctance to put more pressure on North Korea. Last week, the U.S. blacklisted a small Chinese bank over its business ties with North Korea.

    The White House said Trump brought up the North Korean missile program during a phone call Sunday with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Chinese state media reported that Xi warned Trump that “some negative factors” are hurting U.S.-China relations.

    The New York Times, citing anonymous administration officials, reported Monday that Trump told Xi the U.S. was ready to act on its own against North Korea.

    A senior U.S. official told foreign policy experts last week that the U.S. has made clear to China that Chinese banks and companies conducting business with Pyongyang will face sanctions if there is no movement on North Korea’s nuclear activities, a participant in the meeting told The Associated Press. The individual wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and asked that his name and that of the senior official be withheld.

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    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie reacts to a question during a news conference in Trenton, New Jersey, U.S. on March 28, 2014. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo - RTS19HWK

    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie reacts to a question during a news conference in Trenton, New Jersey, U.S. on March 28, 2014. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo – RTS19HWK

    TRENTON, N.J. — A budget impasse that shuttered government and state parks and beaches for three days ended on the Fourth of July when Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed a deal he and the Democratic Legislature crafted.

    Christie, who lounged with his family on a beach that was closed to the public over the weekend and was roundly criticized for it, said he was saddened the budget deal had come three days late. He signed it early Tuesday morning.

    He rejected the idea that the aerial photos of him on the beach snapped by NJ.com had any effect on his negotiations.

    “There will be some people who say, ‘It affected his negotiating ability,'” Christie said. “Let me tell you something, man, I got exactly what I wanted tonight. It doesn’t affect my ability to do my job.”

    He said he had ordered all closed state parks to reopen for Independence Day. And he said state government will open on Wednesday and state workers will get a paid holiday Tuesday at his request.

    READ MORE: Christie spotted at beach during state government shutdown

    Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto announced the budget deal late Monday. The deal calls for a $34.7 billion budget that includes more than $300 million in Democratic spending priorities and is part of an agreement to overhaul the state’s largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.

    The Assembly and the Senate approved the budget early Tuesday.

    The Horizon legislation calls for annual audits of the nonprofit’s reserve level, sets a range for reserves and requires excess to be spent on policyholders. The budget stalemate centered on Christie’s desire for legislation to overhaul Horizon.

    Without a budget, state parks were shut down along with other nonessential state services, including state courts and the motor vehicle offices where people go to get driver’s licenses. Tens of thousands of state workers are furloughed.

    Here’s a closer look at the standoff over the budget:



    On the surface the budget stalemate revolved around Christie’s desire to overhaul Horizon, but also in play were the strong personalities of the three principals responsible for passing the budget.

    Christie, the brash, tell-it-like-it-is former federal prosecutor, has staked his final year as governor on overhauling the nonprofit insurer in exchange for his support of more than $300 million worth of Democratic spending priorities.

    On Monday he declared victory, saying he had wanted since February to get reform of Horizon.

    But the legislation was a far cry from the initial proposal, which would have allowed the state to use Horizon surplus to fund opioid treatment. Instead any surplus above a capped amount must go back to policyholders.

    Christie said it was a win because there was no cap on surplus before he stepped in to regulate the company.

    Sweeney is a former ironworker and current union boss as well as the top elected Democrat for the past eight years. He held the line on Horizon because he trusted Christie would make good on a gentleman’s agreement not to line item veto Democratic priorities.

    Sweeney’s education funding plan, which includes about $150 million for new spending, remained intact.

    And Prieto is a onetime plumber from Hudson County, long considered one of the state’s hardest-edged political regions, known for old-school party boss politics. Prieto’s speakership is under threat from another lawmaker who’s announced a bid against him.

    Prieto had said he opposed any action on Horizon but said Monday he helped bring Horizon into negotiations to model the deal on Pennsylvania’s regulations of Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurers.



    Hetty Rosenstein, the New Jersey director of the Communications Workers of America, the largest union of state government workers, said roughly 35,000 workers had been “locked out” since the shutdown began.

    While most of the furloughs took effect Monday, many parks, motor vehicle commission staffers and others who work weekends have been off the job since early Saturday.

    Rosenstein said it’s unclear if furloughed workers will get back pay but “we certainly feel we’re entitled to that.”

    Christie said Monday that state workers would, at his request, receive Tuesday as a paid holiday. He said he’d discuss back pay with the Legislature.

    Associated Press writers Bruce Shipkowski, in Trenton, and Wayne Parry, in Atlantic City, contributed to this story.

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    FILE PHOTO --  Florida Governor Rick Scott takes the stage prior to a speech by U.S. President Donald Trump on US-Cuba relations at the Manuel Artime Theater in Miami, Florida, U.S., June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo - RTS18YVX

    Florida Governor Rick Scott issued a death warrant Monday for the state’s first execution in 18 months. File photo by REUTERS/Carlos Barria

    The 24-hour news cycle is filled with politics coverage, but not everything gets the attention it deserves. Here are five state and local politics stories you may have missed in the past week.

    1. Increased ICE activity spurs worries in Wyoming farm country — 7/3. Arrests and anxiety appear to be on the rise in rural parts of the Equality State. — Wyoming Tribune Eagle
    2. State corrections leader hopes to see results after criminal justice reform — 7/3. The leader of the state’s prison system implements a new law aimed at reducing the prison population. — Bismarck Tribune
    3. Permit allows state to import hemp seed — 7/2. The islands get DEA approval and hope to make hemp a statewide commodity. — Hawaii Tribune-Herald
    4. Florida schedules its first execution in more than 18 months — 7/3. After months of legal questions, Gov. Rick Scott issued the state’s first death warrant in well over a year. — Miami Herald
    5. Mary Taylor to announce candidacy for governor — 7/3. The race to lead Ohio heats up fast, with a list of heavyweights already running and the current lieutenant governor about to throw her hat in the ring. — Cleveland Plain Dealer

    READ MORE: 5 overlooked politics stories that are worth your time (June 28)

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    US blues legend BB.King performs for the U.S. troops at the Tuzla airbase in Bosnia,July 26. King came to Bosnia to give morale lift to military in Bosnia. - RTXGLP7

    U.S. blues legend B.B. King performs for the U.S. troops at the Tuzla airbase in Bosnia. Some say the kind of mastery King showed on the electric guitar is a lost art. Photo by Reuters.

    Elvis. Jimi Hendrix. Eric Clapton. Kurt Cobain. B.B King. Prince. These music legends are known for their mastery of the electric guitar. But in an era when a beat can be made on an iPhone, the electric guitar industry is in freefall.

    In the past decade, electric guitar sales have dropped from about 1.5 million to just more than a million annually, writes Washington Post arts reporter Geoff Edgers. The industry’s two biggest manufacturers — Fender and Gibson — are both in debt. The data reflects a “slow, secret death of the six-string electric,” Edgers writes. But why?

    Is this the end of the electric guitar? The PBS NewsHour will host a Twitter chat with The Washington Post’s Geoff Edgers (@geoffedgers) to find out. Have questions? Tweet them with #NewsHourChats. Jeff Adkins/Bloomberg News.

    Some say the art of the electric guitar is suffering at the hands of the synthesizers and mixers seen in electronic dance music (EDM) — the very music that has helped propel artists like the Chainsmokers, ZEDD and DJ Khaled to fame.

    But is it really EDM that’s killing the electric guitar or is the picture much bigger? Who’s playing guitar today and why aren’t they inspiring future players the way Hendrix and Cobain did? To help answer those questions and more, Edgers joins the PBS NewsHour (@newshour) at 1 p.m. Thursday, July 6 for a Twitter chat on all things guitar and the future of music.

    Have questions? Tweet them using #NewsHourChats. Find Edgers on Twitter @geoffedgers.

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    Jack Bogle, founder and retired CEO of The Vanguard Group, speaks during the Global Wealth Management Summit in New York June 17, 2014. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    Jack Bogle, founder and retired CEO of The Vanguard Group, speaks during the Global Wealth Management Summit in New York June 17, 2014. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    Jack Bogle, founder and retired CEO of The Vanguard Group, has had an absolutely enormous impact on the world of investing. Earlier this year, Warren Buffett wrote about Jack in his annual letter to investors: “If a statue is ever erected to honor the person who has done the most for American investors, the hands-down choice should be Jack Bogle.” Buffett went on to praise how Jack helped “millions of investors realize far better returns on their savings than they otherwise would have earned.”

    “If a statue is ever erected to honor the person who has done the most for American investors, the hands-down choice should be Jack Bogle.”

    While undoubtedly true, there’s another side of Jack Bogle that merits attention — one that has personally affected me. Jack is a philanthropic man who has helped lots of people in much more profound ways than merely enhancing their investment results. In fact, I owe many of the opportunities I’ve had in life to his generosity.

    To make a long story short, Jack funded my high school education at Blair Academy, and in so doing, provided me the foundations that led to my successes in college and graduate school. Without Jack’s help, I wouldn’t have gone to Blair. Without Blair, I’m not sure I would have ended up at Yale, MIT or Harvard.

    It all began because Blair changed my life. It taught me the power of hard work, both in and out of the classroom. I learned to manage time, developing an ability to semi-successfully balance the competing obligations of academics, sports, family, extra-curricular activities and friendships. And most importantly, Blair gave me the personal confidence to take on intimidating challenges.

    Last month, while visiting Blair for my 25th high school reunion, I had the opportunity to reconnect with Jack and again convey my gratitude. He was as genuinely interested in my activities today as he was 25 plus years ago! And while I believe my thankfulness was well received, it actually made me feel great to thank him.

    Vikram Mansharamani sits next to Jack Bogle. Photo Courtesy the author.

    Jack Bogle (R) provided Vikram Mansharamani (L) the foundations that led to his successes in college and graduate school. Photo courtesy the author.

    Separately, June 30 was my last day on the Yale faculty. Since 2009, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching and learning from some of the most curious and engaging young minds on this planet. It’s been a privilege and an honor to teach at Yale, and like my time at Blair, it’s an experience that would not have been possible without the help and support of many people. In fact, earlier today I sent off thank you emails to three individuals who were especially helpful during my time at Yale. Again, the mere act of giving thanks and expressing gratitude actually had a positive impact on me.

    Jack is a philanthropic man who has helped lots of people in much more profound ways than merely enhancing their investment results.

    The opportunity to spend some time with Jack and reflect on my time at Yale led me to think about the many other people that have helped me along in life. From my parents to my ever-patient wife, from professors to supportive colleagues, from clients to employees, there have been literally hundreds of people who have been helpful over the years. In the weeks ahead, I’m going to make a point of trying to thank some of them.

    My suspicion is that there are many people who have helped you along in your life or career. I want to encourage you to reach out to them and thank them. Sure, the traditional day of giving thanks in America is not until late November, but why wait? Fire off a note or two thanking people who helped you at some point over the next few days! The power of gratitude is stunning, both in its ability to generate joy in its recipient, but also in the emotional impact on the thanks giver. As the oft-quoted saying goes, “it is not happy people who are thankful, but thankful people who are happy.”

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    Beachgoers gather at Coney Island Beach on the Independence Day holiday in Brooklyn. Photo by Andrew Kelly/Reuters

    In his 1796 farewell address, George Washington described his countrymen as “citizens, by birth or choice.” At the time, the nation had roughly 4 million people, including women and slaves (each of whom were counted separately in Thomas Jefferson’s 1790 Census).

    The United States’ population now stands at 325 million. Amid new questions of American identity, this July Fourth seemed like a good idea to look at who exactly makes up America, whether by birth or choice. And how it is forecast to change.


    • Immigrants: Roughly 13 percent of people in the U.S. are foreign-born. That’s approaching the historic high (14.7 percent in 1910), and it’s growing fast. The number of first-generation immigrants in the U.S. has jumped 50 percent in the past 15 years, from 26 million to 40 million.
    • Second-generation: Another 11 percent of Americans have at least one parent who is foreign born.
    • Third-generation and above: The vast majority of U.S. residents, 75 percent, are at least two generations removed from their immigrant ancestors — meaning they and both of their parents were born in the U.S.
    • Who votes? The Census Bureau found that people who are farther removed from the immigration experience (third-generation and above) vote in disproportionately higher numbers. New or second-generation Americans vote in lower percentages than their share of the population.

    Ancestry and heritage

    • Most common heritage groups: The top five nationalities that Americans identified with, when asked to report a single ancestry group, are all European, according to the Census Bureau: 8 percent of Americans claimed German ancestry, followed by Irish (5 percent), English (4.5 percent), Italian (3.4 percent), and Polish (3.4 percent).
    • But the fastest growing countries of origin among Americans are in the Middle East and Africa.
    • Iraq leads the pack. Though the number of residents in the U.S. from Iraq is still relatively small — .06 percent of the population — the Iraqi population in the U.S. has jumped by 214 percent since the Iraq War began.
    • Kenya is second. Roughly 68,000 Americans claim Kenyan ancestry today, a 179 percent increase over the past 10 years.

    The post Who is America? A look at the nation’s demographics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    NewsHour shares web small logoIn our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And now to a NewsHour Shares, something that caught our eye here that may be of interest to you.

    When you think of the most popular sports in the world, even us Americans know that soccer is number one worldwide. But what about number two? Believe it or not, it’s cricket.

    Now that English game is starting to catch on in the United States.

    Tina Martin from PBS station WGBH in Boston reports.

    TINA MARTIN: Suiting up, stretching out and getting in a little batting practice before a cricket match on a remote field in Wrentham. It’s an unusual game that most resembles baseball, except you have a bowler instead of pitcher, and the ball has to bounce before you hit it. Games can last for hours, even days, and scores go into the hundreds.

    NITIN MEWEDA, Cricket Player: I am completely into it.

    TINA MARTIN: Nitin Meweda has played since he was a boy in India. He says American co-workers were often confused about his favorite sport.

    NITIN MEWEDA: That’s one thing which used to happen with me maybe five, six years ago. And I would say — they would say, what did you do this weekend? I was like, oh, I played cricket. And they were like, cricket, what is that?

    TINA MARTIN: Cricket was played in the United States back in colonial times, but had pretty much died out by the Civil War. But it has thrived in other parts of the world, with international matches that are among the most watched global sporting events.

    At some games, there are even royal photo-ops.

    RAVI UPPALAPATI, Cricket Player: Cricket in India is a religion. It’s more than three times the population of the United States, and there is one sport. Can you imagine like, in States, if you have one professional sport all over the year, how crazy it would be, right? It is crazy.

    TINA MARTIN: Most of the players in Massachusetts are immigrants, representing far corners of the world.

    RAVI UPPALAPATI: Most of us are from India, but there are a lot of people from Pakistan, and other countries, Sri Lanka, and Australia, and England.

    TINA MARTIN: Ravi Uppalapati is one of the organizers of the Massachusetts State Cricket League. He says they now have several thousand players.

    RAVI UPPALAPATI: I think there were 12 teams in Massachusetts Cricket League in probably ’97. There are more than 30-plus teams now, so things have picked up so much.

    TINA MARTIN: The MSCL is trying to create a new generation of players, sponsoring clinics and camps.

    RAVI UPPALAPATI: You see lacrosse these days. Last two, three years, nobody was playing lacrosse. Kids are loving lacrosse. So it’s just a matter of like how we introduce, where we introduce.

    TINA MARTIN: A bigger challenge might be educating the parents on what they’re actually watching their kids play.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Tina Martin in Wrentham, Massachusetts.

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Continuing our theme of national parks, the Channel Islands National Park — they’re off the coast of Southern California — was the site of a recent discovery of part of a Pygmy mammoth, a species of ancient elephant that roamed the Earth 13,000 years ago.

    This story was produced by students from Etiwanda High School in Southern California, part of the “NewsHour”‘s Student Reporting Labs.

    It’s narrated by rising high school senior Nick Hinojosa.

    NICK HINOJOSA: Off the California coast lies Channel Islands National Park, where archaeological discoveries are still being made.

    Laura Kirn is the chief of cultural resources for the Channel Islands National Park.

    LAURA KIRN, Chief of Cultural Resources, Channel Islands National Park: Channel Islands national park is world-famous for its archaeology.

    Channel Islands really represent a part of California that doesn’t exist on the mainland anymore. And because we don’t have burrowing animals here, the archaeological record, the evidence in the ground is intact. And that is unheard of.

    NICK HINOJOSA: The preservation of the islands’ archaeology has made it possible for new artifacts to be discovered, such as a mammoth skull excavated in fall 2016 on Santa Rosa Island.

    Monica Bugbee, a preparator and archaeologist for the mammoth site in South Dakota, has begun the painstaking process of removing the skull from its plaster cast.

    MONICA BUGBEE, Preparator, The Mammoth Site: This is kind of an exciting discovery because Pygmy mammoths, even though they’re really cool, everybody likes them because they’re small, they’re neat, we actually don’t know a whole lot about them.

    This guy was found by a park service intern who was doing a stream survey. So, they were just doing routine walk down a canyon, and they happened to notice it.

    NICK HINOJOSA: The intern who discovered the skull, Peter Larramendy, was a recent college graduate who recognized the tusk sticking out of the wall could be something much more than just a rock.

    LAURA KIRN: He was part of the excavation. It was something that you dream about as a child, discovering something like a dinosaur or something really exciting.

    NICK HINOJOSA: Don Morris is a retired archaeologist for the National Park Service who aided in the excavation of this discovery.

    DON MORRIS, Retired Archaeologist, Channel Islands National Park: I think I can confidently say this is the best skull, Pygmy mammoth skull, that’s ever come off the island. Certainly, it’s the best one I have ever seen.

    MONICA BUGBEE: This skull in particular, because it looks like it might be in the middle of the two species, Columbian and Pygmy, it can give us a much better idea of how that process actually worked. You know, how did they actually dwarf from Columbians to Pygmies?

    NICK HINOJOSA: Scientists used radiocarbon dating to discover how long ago this mammoth was alive. This kind of dating is done by measuring the amount of carbon-14 in a sample and using its half-life to calculate how old the sample is.

    MONICA BUGBEE: There was some charcoal that we found in the dirt, and we radiocarbon dated that, and it’s about 15,000 years old, I believe, so this guy’s actually pretty young.

    NICK HINOJOSA: Justin Wilkins, a curator at the mammoth site, has been working with Bugbee to clean and prepare the skull for display.

    JUSTIN WILKINS, Curator, The Mammoth Site: So in looking at the past, we can then access how our species or other species handled changes in the environment. So, we look at the mammoths. We look at humans.

    We also look at a bunch of small animals to see how those animals handle these changes, and then try to decide, predict, based on the information and patterns we see from these specimens, what patterns we’re seeing in the present, how that’s going to change in the future.

    NICK HINOJOSA: Much of archaeology still depends on careful observation and human work.

    DON MORRIS: You have got to move dirt. You have got to keep your eyes open and pay attention to what you’re observing.

    LAURA KIRN: It’s incredibly exciting to think that these things are still out here, they’re still very fragile, and we want to protect them and study them in the right ways. But it doesn’t mean that people can’t still discover exciting new things that happen to be thousands of years old on Santa Rosa Island.

    The post How this remote national park made a mammoth discovery appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Paper carrier Madden started her search in North Carolina fields, where she caught a single paper wasp — a bug known to harbor large communities of yeast. Photo by Lauren Nichols

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On this Independence Day, many Americans will no doubt be enjoying a beer or two. One of the essential ingredients in beer is yeast.

    But, for 600 years, only two species of yeast, ale yeast and lager yeast, have been used for traditional brewing. But now a lab in North Carolina may have found a third species, and they found it in the strangest of places, on bees and wasps.

    NewsHour science producer Nsikan Akpan and our “ScienceScope” team reveal what the buzz is all about.

    NSIKAN AKPAN: It feels like beer brewers will do anything to spice up their booze. There’s pizza beer, banana split chocolate stout, beer with squid ink, and, of course, Rocky Mountain oyster stout, which is flavored with bull testicles.

    All this fuss seems silly, when the foundation of alcohol’s flavor is plain old yeast. Yeast, these little microbes that take sugars and ferment them into alcohol, define a beer’s character.

    Yet, for 10,000 years, beers have essentially relied on two types of bland yeast that basically add no flavors. Now a lab in North Carolina has discovered a new yeast species that produces an array of flavors without added ingredients.

    Where did they find it? On bees. The story of bumblebeer begins at North Carolina State University, in the lab of Rob Dunn. Once a tropical forest ecologist, Dunn now explores the jungle that surrounds us, the one filled with bugs and microbes.

    ROB DUNN: At some point, my lab shifted to focusing more on people’s daily lives, and that includes food, and it includes thinking about the biology of food.

    NSIKAN AKPAN: One day three years ago, a colleague inquired if the lab knew of any microbes in the environment capable of making beer. Dunn and company instantly considered insect pollinators, like bees and wasps.

    Here’s why. Yeast hang out in flower nectar, where the microbes feast on the boatloads of sugar. They then produce or ferment sweet aromas, which then attract the buzzing bugs.

    ROB DUNN: We actually think, based on some work from colleagues in Italy, that it’s very likely that those first beers and breads were relying on yeasts from insects, too.

    NSIKAN AKPAN: Back then, a bug carrying a fermenting yeast may have fallen into some wet grain. And, boom, welcome to the booze cruise. In fact, some scientists argue human agriculture started just to mass produce grains to make beer. The more beer we drink, the more yeast we have to grow.

    ROB DUNN: Unambiguously, the most successful organism in the world is yeast. And so if you think about all of the yeasts we make everywhere for many of the products we make, they won.

    NSIKAN AKPAN: But, today, where would you even start looking for a new beer-making yeast?

    ANNE MADDEN: Part of this is science, and part of this feels more like an art that’s hard to describe.

    NSIKAN AKPAN: Meet Anne Madden, the Dunn lab’s microbe wrangler. To search for unknown yeast, she started by catching a wild bee and a wild wasp. She then transferred every microbe from their bodies to a petri dish. Don’t fret. She didn’t commit mass bug-icide.

    ANNE MADDEN: To make bumblebeer and all of the different bumblebeers that we have made since, we have killed two bugs. You have likely killed more bugs on your way to a bar to get beer than we did in the process of making it.

    NSIKAN AKPAN: A couple days later, a forest of microbes appear on the dish. Then, in four steps, Madden combines her senses with technology. First, she looks to separate the yeast from bacteria or fungi.

    ANNE MADDEN: It’s about understanding when something glistens in a certain way.

    NSIKAN AKPAN: Next, she picks a handful of yeast candidates, grows them on a new dish, and then follows her nose.

    ANNE MADDEN: You can smell the same smell both on that plate and in that final beer.

    NSIKAN AKPAN: Her third task is running the DNA from these candidates through a national database to ensure her picks don’t cause disease.

    ANNE MADDEN: It’s almost like a Google search through all other species that exist that have been documented.

    NSIKAN AKPAN: The final step is a chemical test, because despite the long history of brewing, the genes and enzymes responsible for fermentation are largely unknown.

    The survivors of this gauntlet land with John Sheppard at N.C. State’s research brew house.

    JOHN SHEPPARD: In traditional beers that are lighter in character, like the traditional American lager, for example, you don’t want to overwhelm your taste, and so what the yeast does is very important.

    A lot of wild yeasts, which are considered contamination in a normal brewing process, the reason why they’re not wanted is because they produce a lot of off-flavors that are not really desirable in the beer. So, to get a wild yeast that doesn’t produce these off-flavors can be difficult.

    So, we did a little testing to see whether or not the yeast strains would be able to make beer, and we selected one. It came from a wasp, because this special yeast not only makes ethanol, but makes acid, and, as a result of that, we had a natural sour beer.

    NSIKAN AKPAN: The bumblebeer yeast makes other flavors too, like a sweet honey taste without the addition of actual honey.

    Craft sour beers often take months or years to make. Bumblebeer yeast can do the same in a matter of weeks. Local brewers have taken notice. The first suds made with bumblebeer yeast rolled out earlier this year.

    Until next time, I’m Nsikan Akpan, and this is “ScienceScope” from the PBS NewsHour.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Nsikan tasted one of those beers and said that it was quite delicious.

    You can read about how scientists are using this discovery to find more beer-producing yeasts made in the wild. That’s on our Web site, pbs.org/newshour.

    The post From the wing of a wasp, scientists discover a new beer-making yeast appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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