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

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    Three Republican senators say they will not vote for a new health care plan being crafted by GOP leaders — unless they get a guarantee from Speaker Paul Ryan that it will not pass the House as-is.

    Watch the senators’ news conference in the player above.

    Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin say they can’t support the so-called “skinny repeal” taking shape in the Senate because it would wreak havoc on health insurance markets.

    They say they will vote in favor of it only as a vehicle to open House-Senate negotiations on a more comprehensive bill.

    READ MORE: What happened when these states implemented a ‘skinny repeal’ of the Affordable Care Act

    But in light of rumors that the House could pass the bill as-is, they are looking for a guarantee from Ryan that that won’t happen.

    Their opposition is enough to sink the “skinny bill.”

    The post WATCH: These Republican senators say they won’t vote for ‘skinny’ health bill unless there’s broader debate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And staying on the subject of Africa, we turn to another in our Brief But Spectacular series, where we ask people to describe their passions.

    Tonight, Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu, who’s using a new style to tell modern African stories.

    WANURI KAHIU, Filmmaker: I am a filmmaker and storyteller. And I have made films and written stories about rusted robots that fall in love, Nairobi pop bands that want to go to space, girls who want to race camels in the future, girls who want to dance in the future, anything that’s fun, fizz, and frivolous coming out of Africa.

    A couple of years ago, I was writing a love story, and I was looking for funding for it. And when I said I was looking for a love story, and I approached investors, one of them to me, if you add a rape scene, then we might be able to get you some funding.

    And this was devastating to me. It felt as if Africans just can’t fall in love or be joyous. There has to be some sort of tragedy linked to their love.

    And I completely, completely reject that idea. And so I pushed back with this idea of Afro Bubble Gum art that means we can be just for being’s sake. We can just create for creating’s sake. It doesn’t have to have an issue.

    I always knew I wanted to create stories. But the more I started to create, I started to realize that I wasn’t seeing myself in these films. All I could do was write stories that represented the people that I knew and the people that I grew up with.

    But I didn’t realize at the time that I was making a political statement. I was just making films with black people in them.

    I think it’s so important to see diversity in front of the camera, if for no other reason so that, when my daughter asks me about the princesses that she sees, and she doesn’t see any black princesses, I can say, well, there’s others.

    So, thank God for Doc McStuffins, who’s completely saved my daughter’s life, because she can finally see an image of herself on the screen.

    And we work to represent other people, so that the children who grow up after my children can also see images of themselves, so that they can see that they belong in the world that they live in as well.

    My name is Wanuri Kahiu, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on Afro Bubble Gum.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can watch more Brief But Spectacular videos online at pbs.org/newshour/brief.

    The post This Kenyan storyteller’s proudly frivolous films have a deeper mission appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We close tonight with two affectionate looks at Africa.

    First, a journalist’s love of the continent, family and his craft.

    Jeffrey Brown begins with our latest addition to the NewsHour Bookshelf.

    JEFFREY BROWN: As a 19-year-old college student, Jeffrey Gettleman traveled to East Africa and fell in love with a place. He also fell in love that year with a woman back home.

    Their time together and apart, and his life and work covering a continent as a Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent for The New York Times, make up the story told in “Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival.”

    Jeffrey Gettleman joins me now.

    Welcome to you.

    JEFFREY GETTLEMAN, Author, “Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival”: Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: This is a place, a region that you have looked at for a long time in a certain voice, right, as journalist. But now you’re presenting a different voice. What is this?

    JEFFREY GETTLEMAN: Well, I feel very conflicted about my work sometimes in Africa, because, as journalists, we focus on conflict. We focus on argument and dispute.

    JEFFREY BROWN: This is the way we hear about Africa most of the time.

    JEFFREY GETTLEMAN: And this is true for all journalists.

    But my job as a journalist in East Africa, I’m often steeped in these conflicts. But that wasn’t why I came to East Africa in the first place. I came on a safari as a student and was blown away by the warmth, by the sense of connectedness between people, like, just a different way of life.

    And so this book, to me, is a bit of an escape. You know, often, we get frustrated with what’s happening in today’s world. We feel sort of the woes of the world on our back. And I wanted to write a book that celebrated something that meant a lot to me.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You were drawn to this place. It wasn’t real obvious why.

    JEFFREY GETTLEMAN: I think, thinking more deeply about what it was that really moved me, it was experiencing a part of the world that’s very different from how I grew up in suburban Chicago, how most of us grew up, a lot poorer, a lot less developed.

    But there was this spirit, this sense of warmth and openness among people. Even though I had so much more than the people I was around, I felt very little resentment. I felt very little bitterness. I felt welcome in a part of the world that couldn’t be any more different from what I experienced.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There is a kind of fraught situation of writing about Africa always, right, how to write about Africa. You have to deal with that, as a journalist and in this case.

    JEFFREY GETTLEMAN: And I was trying to be honest about that in this book, because there’s many books written by passing correspondents.

    And the term in Africa is mzungu, which means white man, like gringo. I cover these conflicts, I go into a famine zone, I go into a part of South Sudan where people are killing each other, and they’re stuck. Their houses have been burned. They have lost everything they have owned. They have lost loved ones.

    They’re sharing their misery with me, and I am dutifully recording it in my notebook, and then transmitting it to the world. And then I get on a plane and take off, and go back to my wife and kids and my comfortable life.

    And that’s morally problematic in some ways. But that’s my role. We all have our roles. The aid workers have their roles in delivering aid. The militaries have their role in providing security. And, as a journalist, my role is to just try and gather as much material, and open a window to a different part of the world.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, in this book, there is the other part of the love story, which is your wife, who you now go home too.

    But you’re open about the problems of a marriage amid the life you are leading. She leaves behind a life as a lawyer to come and work with you.

    JEFFREY GETTLEMAN: I think what we struggled with is what a lot of young people struggle with.

    We were both really determined to pursue our careers. She was dead set on being a criminal defense attorney. I really wanted to be a journalist. We had to go where the jobs took us, and we did a lot of damage to our relationship.

    And we didn’t respect and honor what we suspected that we had, which was a very special bond. And there were years that we screwed it up, and we threw away a lot of time together.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s not giving away the ending to say that it worked out, right?

    JEFFREY GETTLEMAN: Yes, we were lucky enough to finally sort of see which way is up.

    And we have a wonderful life in Kenya. It’s a great place to raise a family. We have two little boys that were born there.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What do you want to convey here that we either miss as viewer or watchers of the world, or that America itself misses, right, in its policy?

    JEFFREY GETTLEMAN: Where do I begin?

    OK, a couple quick things. One is, in a lot of these really bad situations, there is an undercurrent of hope, and of dignity, and of humanity, and community. For instance, I covered the Westgate Mall massacre, where some terrorists came into a crowded mall in Nairobi, and gunned down dozens of people.

    They didn’t kill more people, because there was a response by neighborhood police officers, who were much more lightly armed than these terrorists that had assault rifles. And these guys went streaming into this mall, under fire, with these cheap pistols, fighting against these terrorists.

    They were taking shots, they were getting hit, they were getting wounded, and they kept going. These guys came in as basically volunteers, and saved a lot of lives.

    So, even in this moment, that was there was still an element of humanity, and community, and pulling together at the right time. And I have seen that in war zones, and in battle zones, and in famine situations.

    The one other thing I think is, a lot of the problems in Africa are because of things that happened outside of Africa, or because of American policy especially. And I wrote a bit in this book about the mistakes that the American government has made under different administrations.

    It wasn’t a Republican problem or a Democrat problem. It was kind of a lack of interest. And the results were famine, and chaos, and pirates. But some of that was because of specific decisions the American government had made that were bad decisions and led to a whole chain of events.

    But in this part of the world, a lot of people aren’t paying that close of attention. And so I felt that it was my responsibility to write a very personal book, an accessible book, a kind of escape, adventure story, but to do some educating.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the book is “Love, Africa.”

    Jeffrey Gettleman, thank you very much.

    JEFFREY GETTLEMAN: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Read Jeffrey Gettleman’s reflections on closing The New York Times’ East Africa bureau. His essay was published by The Times today.

    The post American war correspondent details his own love and life in Africa appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: As senators continue their fight over health care, there are new feuds bubbling on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

    From cracking down on leaks to weighing Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ future, and the president calling for an end to transgender military service members, the White House is putting out a number of fires this week.

    We turn to Karine Jean-Pierre. She’s a senior adviser to MoveOn.org and a veteran of the Obama administration. And Matt Schlapp, he’s the chairman of the American Conservative Union and the former deputy political director for President George W. Bush.

    And welcome to both of you, Matt and Karine.

    Speaking of fires, I have to ask both of you first about a story, a remarkable story that has just appeared late this afternoon in The New Yorker magazine, Matt.

    READ MORE: White House communications director says he’s willing to ‘fire everybody’ for leaking

    Essentially it’s the new head of communications at the White House, Anthony Scaramucci, placing a phone call last night to the writer Ryan Lizza and screaming at him, wanting to know who leaked information about a dinner, using very strong language, threatening — virtually threatening him, saying, I need to know who the leakers are, saying he’s gone to the FBI, the Department of Justice.

    What’s going on at the White House?

    MATT SCHLAPP, American Conservative Union: Well, on my drive over to the studio, I was going to have my 14-year-old daughter read this article to me. I’m glad I didn’t, because it does have some colorful language.

    I think Anthony Scaramucci is already out on Twitter apologizing for the language, but I think the key here is that this whole question of leaks inside the West Wing, it is a real cancer. And for those of us who want President Trump to succeed in his agenda, to succeed, it’s been a real distraction to getting the agenda through.

    And I think Scaramucci’s trying to take care of the leaks, and, unfortunately, he thought he was having a conversation that was off-the-record, but apparently he didn’t make that clear to the reporter.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Karine, what does it say when you have this level of leaking and animosity going on inside the White House this early in the administration?

    KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, MoveOn.org: Well, it’s quite insane. I worked in the White House in the Obama administration. I have never seen anything like this before.

    But if this is Scaramucci’s role, is to take care of the leaks, that’s really going to be a full-time job for him. And, honestly, Judy, if he is — if that is something that he’s truly working on, he needs to start in the Oval Office. He needs to start from the top all the way down. That’s where the leaks are.

    It’s not the junior staffers. It’s the senior staffers, starting with Donald Trump, the president. And the senior staffers are just trying the save their jobs. And that’s why they’re leaking the way that they are.

    But, also, this is a reason why for the first six months of the administration, that this administration has not been able to get anything done. They have not really passed one piece of major legislation, because of stuff like this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Matt, what about that, the fact that it’s just — it’s not just — it’s not lower-level people who are talking to the press; it’s people up and down and going all the way to the top of the White House?

    MATT SCHLAPP: Yes.

    So, I mean, there are always leaks that come out of the White House. And, sometimes, those leaks are intended to inform the press in kind of an anonymous fashion. But what’s happened in the Trump White House, it’s just a melee of weeks, where people are leaking on each other in the West Wing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Why?

    MATT SCHLAPP: I think that the White House — the West Wing wasn’t set up to be efficient and successful from the very beginning.

    I think they actually can look at the way that they set up the West Wing, and there’s not a kind of a sheriff in town. I remember, when I worked for Andy Card in the West Wing, and he told me, especially when I took the job as political director, he said, if you miss — if you overstep your trust with the president, there will be a cardboard box on your desk, fill it and leave.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I was struck. I just …

    MATT SCHLAPP: Now, he didn’t do that to me, but he would have done it had I overstepped the boundaries.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to stay with you just a moment, Matt, because there is a line in here that really strikes me.

    Ryan Lizza with The New Yorker writes, he said: “Unlike other Trump advisers, I have never heard him,” meaning Scaramucci, “say a bad word about the president.”

    So he’s saying everybody else is criticizing the president who hired them.

    MATT SCHLAPP: Well, I don’t want the get into — I don’t know these conversations. All I can tell you is that one of the issues, as the West Wing was pulled together, the staff was pulled together, is it was kind of an interesting concoction of people that weren’t really with the president’s campaign.

    So, he did pull together people, maybe in the hopes to kind of like bring kind of unity to the party. But it has always been fearful that you had people who were either never-Trump or didn’t have much respect for the Trump — for President Trump who got senior administration positions.

    And I worked for a Republican president who I admired and who I loved and I would have just done almost anything for professionally, and when you don’t have that spirit with some staffers, it can cause a lot of problems.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Karine, I know I’m asking you as an outsider and somebody from the other party to weigh in on this, but do you see a solution here?

    KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: No, not at all.

    Look, I think I have said this before on your show, Judy, which is the fish rots at his head. This is the type of environment that Donald Trump has set up. He’s brought in the corporate life, the way he was as a CEO, as the head of Trump Organization, and brought it into the White House.

    He loves this stuff. He loves the inter-fighting. He likes when they’re fighting for his — the dear leader affection of Donald Trump. And so it’s not going to — it doesn’t matter if it’s Scaramucci. It doesn’t matter who it is. It doesn’t matter if Priebus stays or leaves. It starts with the person at the top, and that’s Donald Trump.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, one other — two other things I want to ask you both about, but first the announcement by Twitter yesterday from the president that he wanted to ban all people who are transgender from serving in the military.

    And, Matt, I want to go back and remind — show everybody in our audience, this is what the president had to say last year, just a year ago, that this was the day after the Orlando nightclub shooting. He gave a national security speech in New Hampshire, and here’s what he had to say.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the LB — and LGBT community, Donald Trump, with actions, or Hillary Clinton, with her words?

    I will tell you who the better friend is, and, someday, I believe that will be proven out bigly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Matt, how do you explain the transgender military decision?

    MATT SCHLAPP: Well, for seven-and-a-half years of the Obama administration, they had a prohibition that equates to what President Trump announced.

    Now, all we have is a tweet. I don’t know what it means in detail. I don’t know what it means for the people serving, but you get to this basic question, right, which is, you know, what do the commanders want in the field, right?

    And I think that what was intended by this administration, at least what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, to expand upon the tweet, was that he is listening to the services and what they want. And for seven-and-a-half years in the Obama administration, they had a similar plan, not because I think there was animus towards transgender people or the gay community.

    I think it was because they were simply focusing on what generals were saying they needed to be ready in the field. But this will all be handled in Congress. The funding all goes through Congress, and we will have a democratic debate on whether or not this should happen or not.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Karine, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joe Dunford, said today that — they said, we’re waiting for guidance. Right now, we want to continue to respect everybody in the military.

    KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: That’s right, Judy.

    Look, usually, when you make this type of policy, you articulate it on paper, you create a policy. You don’t tweet about it. And so the Pentagon can’t actually act on this. They can’t act on a tweet. They were never given a piece of policy.

    And so, once again, you have a president who doesn’t care to learn, who doesn’t know how the process works, and he uses Twitter to put — to really feed his base. And that’s what we’re seeing.

    And, look, the other part about this, too, is that he made that promise during the election. It was an outrageous comment when we heard it. No one ever — no one really, truly believed it. And it became a lie on day one of his administration.

    This is not an administration that cares about brown people, black people or transgendered or LGBT communities. We have seen this — or women.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Matt?

    MATT SCHLAPP: I don’t think that accurately describes Donald Trump’s heart.

    I have talked to him about these sets of issues. For seven-and-a-half years of the Obama administration, they had the very same policy. And I don’t think that President Obama was discriminating for those seven-and-a-half years. And I think the next question on…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re saying it was only at the end when they changed the policy.

    MATT SCHLAPP: They changed it at the end. But, really, the military hasn’t understood how to implement this.

    And Secretary of Defense Mattis and all of the service chiefs knew that they were in the process of review. They have been discussing this. People who track this issue knew that they were trying to figure out, could this be implemented or not?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But still no paper. It was a tweet.

    MATT SCHLAPP: Well, the announcement is completely unconventional. It’s hard for somebody like me to even explain what the implications are. The country needs the details on this.

    So, I think Karine’s point on that is very fair.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quickly, finally, to both of you, Karine.

    You expect the attorney general to stay where he is, Jeff Sessions, given what’s going on?

    READ MORE: Sessions to AP: I’m not stepping down unless asked

    KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I will try to be really quick here, Judy.

    Look, I do not think the attorney general should be the attorney general. I think he is a racist. I think he has racist background. And he lied and perjured himself in front of Congress.

    But that’s not the reason why Donald Trump doesn’t want him in the job anymore. He doesn’t want him in the job because of the Russia thing. He wants — he was upset that Sessions didn’t recuse himself, and he wants to fire Bob Mueller. That’s why he wants to get rid of Sessions.

    MATT SCHLAPP: President Trump doesn’t want Jeff Sessions to leave the office of the attorney general.

    I think what President Trump is saying is, he’s frustrated that a special counsel was picked without it even being run by Jeff Sessions, and that that investigation seems to be overshadowing his presidency.

    When you have seen the leaks that have come out against Donald Trump, when you have seen that the DNC has a staffer that’s worked with the government of Ukraine, there are plenty of things on the other side of the ledger that I think Republicans would like to see DOJ look at as well.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: He’s been pretty tough on this attorney general, though, the last few days.

    MATT SCHLAPP: He has been.

    KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Matt Schlapp, Karine Jean-Pierre, thank you both.

    MATT SCHLAPP: Thank you, Judy.

    KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, Judy.

    The post Why are leaks and infighting plaguing Trump’s presidency? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s that time of the year when many folks flock to beaches, resort towns and weekend getaways. Those communities can be quite dependent on foreign workers to help staff them through the summer season.

    But this year has a different kind of pressure point, as the Trump administration has pushed for some big changes on immigration rules.

    Economics correspondent Paul Solman has a look at the impact of this supply-and-demand story. It’s part of his weekly series, Making Sense.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Ah, the iconic seaside summer getaway Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod.

    A single mom prison guard in New York state, Joy McNulty, got away here to bring up her four kids in a safe place and bought a tiny restaurant, the Lobster Pot.

    Forty years later, the family and about 100 hundred employees serve 1,200 to 1,300 meals a day during peak season, prepared in the back of the House by six-month-a-year immigrants from Jamaica. McNulty insisted I find out for myself for how many years they had been coming, 21 years, 22 years.

    You’re the new champ, 24. That beats everybody.

    Provincetown has a year-round population of just under 3,000, which swells to 10,000 in the summer. Add the estimated four to five million tourists that visit the Cape every year, and you have got the poster child for peak demand.

    JOY MCNULTY, Owner, Lobster Pot: How do you run a business where all your kids work for you, all your grandchildren work for you, and I don’t know if I can open next year? How could you do that?

    PAUL SOLMAN: The problem is getting Americans, of any vintage, to do the back of the housework. So businesses here rely on foreigners, says Jane Nichols Bishop, known as Mama Visa to the workers.

    JANE NICHOLS BISHOP, Owner, Peak Season Workforce: In a seasonal economy, there are usually not enough American workers to fill all of the jobs. They’re not year-round jobs. So the Congress allowed something called an H-2B.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Which allows half-year work if no one else can be found, and must be renewed annually, for temporary positions like hotel housekeepers and restaurant workers. In the past, Congress has made 66,000 of these visas available annually nationwide.

    And workers with previous H-2Bs, like almost everyone here, could return without being counted against that limit, but not this summer.

    JANE NICHOLS BISHOP: Congress didn’t pass a returning worker exemption in the continuing resolution to fund the government, which is where it’s always been. And because they didn’t do that, the number of visas available was greatly restricted.

    So there are not enough visas for all the employers to bring in their temporary work force.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The Department of Homeland Security did add another 15,000 visas last week. But with the exemption gone, the total number of H-2Bs is way down. And with employers now having to prove irreparable harm to get one of the additional visas, the paperwork that might, or might not, get a worker in has mushroomed.

    What an irony for a supposedly anti-red tape administration, says Congressman Bill Keating, who represents the Cape, though, of course, he’s from a district even bluer than its fish.

    REP. BILL KEATING, D-Mass.: The fix is staring us right in the face. It’s just raise the cap on returning workers. We have done it for the last 11 years. It works.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But they just did it now.

    REP. BILL KEATING: No, they didn’t. They created a whole new series of regulations and requirements that would scare any small business person into not using this because of politics.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Really?

    JOY MCNULTY: It’s impossible to run a business when you don’t know if you’re getting 43 of your 96 people. The rest of them are all Americans. This year, we were open six weeks late. Last week, we opened six weeks late. Next year, we may not open at all. We don’t know.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Gui Yingling got none of the requested 26 H-2B workers for nearby Bubala’s By the Bay.

    GUI YINGLING, Owner, Bubala’s By the Bay: It’s been next impossible. We have had to close days. We have had to shorten hours.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And a corollary problem, say restaurateurs like Yingling and Mac Hay of Mac’s Seafood, is that if and when they close:

    MAC HAY, Owner, Mac’s Seafood: I would have to lay off way more than half of the work force that I have now.

    PAUL SOLMAN: American workers.

    MAC HAY: An American work force.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And, look, they say, it’s not for lack of trying, to recruit natives, that is. In fact, the H-2B application requires employers to offer the jobs locally.

    JOY MCNULTY: I advertise on the Internet. I advertise in every job fair. We advertise in every newspaper. Everyone on the entire Cape knows that we’re all looking for help. There’s nobody here. They will not take seasonal dishwashing and cook jobs for anything.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But wait a second, counters H-2B skeptic Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies.

    JESSICA VAUGHAN, Center for Immigration Studies: I don’t think there’s any such thing as a job an American won’t do. There are millions of workers in the United States who are not employed, and we need to find a way to match them up with some of these opportunities as well.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Employers just aren’t trying hard enough, Vaughan insists, while driving down wages, and maybe even working conditions. More and more, she says, teens and those with a high school diploma at best:

    JESSICA VAUGHAN: Employers should look to those workers first before they take the easy route out, and bring in workers from overseas.

    MAC HAY: I have no issue, no problem. I would prefer to do that. Trying to bring workers from Jamaica or Mexico is incredibly challenging, incredibly expensive.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Mac Hay worked in kitchens on the Cape since he was 12, now owns six businesses, restaurants and seafood markets. The pay?

    MAC HAY: A dishwasher is $12.50 to a cook can make $17, $18 an hour, plus overtime.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Not bad. So why aren’t these summer jobs for students?

    MAC HAY: The majority of them leave August 12 or August 13 or August 14. We have a 10-week season. It runs through Labor Day. I can’t lose more than half my work force with three weeks to go, with 30 percent of my season left.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And nonstudents who are un- or under-employed?

    MAC HAY: Americans, they don’t want to relocate their life for six months. They don’t want to move down, but if they’re willing to do it, I’m more than happy to hire them.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Like Joy McNulty at the Lobster Pot, Mac Hay utterly depends on visa workers. Egan Bonny’s been with him for 10 seasons.

    EGAN BONNY, H-2B Visa Worker: I do cleaning, clean the restaurant and do all kind of jobs which no American kids would come and do. This grease job here, fill the grease job. No young kid’s going to come around and do this stuff. Keep everything nice, clean the bathroom.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Because they’re spoiled?

    EGAN BONNY: They’re spoiled. Seriously, they’re spoiled.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Really? There is no wage at which they would do these jobs?

    GUI YINGLING: I have hired every employee who has tried to walk through the door. I have advertised. Most of them don’t show up, is the truth, once I hire them. It’s pretty incredible. I have had 17 employees no-show this season, after being hired.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Now, we did run into one underemployed American worker.

    So what are you doing this summer?

    CLAIRE VAUGHAN, Student: I’m working in a church nursery every Sunday.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And you have applied for other jobs.

    CLAIRE VAUGHAN: Yes, that’s right.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And?

    CLAIRE VAUGHAN: I have not heard back from any of them.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Seventeen-year old Claire Vaughan lives about two hours from the Cape.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So now, why aren’t you here?

    CLAIRE VAUGHAN: I didn’t know there were jobs here. I had no idea you could do that.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Claire Vaughan happens to be the daughter of our immigration skeptic.

    CLAIRE VAUGHAN: Now that I know about it, I will definitely look.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But it turned that she, like most students, would have to leave before the season was over. And her parents didn’t want her living on the Cape.

    And so we come to the bottom line. Bubala’s is down 10 percent and may actually lose money this year. Mac Hay worries about next year.

    And the Lobster Pot? In the six weeks it had to close, it bought a lot fewer lobsters from local fishermen, hired fewer Americans for fewer hours.

    JOY MCNULTY: All of the Americans are out of work for six extra weeks. The state doesn’t get the taxes, the vendors don’t get the work, nothing happens here, and the town collapses. But my people have been with me for 20, 25 years, a lot of them. What harm is that to anybody? We just want to run a restaurant.

    PAUL SOLMAN: For the PBS NewsHour, this is economics correspondent Paul Solman, reporting from Cape Cod.

    The post Why your summer getaway is staffed by foreign workers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back to health care now.

    At this hour, its fate remains uncertain. Republicans have not been able to muster enough support among their own ranks.

    I spoke to one of them, Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, just shortly before four of his colleagues said that they’d vote no without assurances from the House of Representatives.

    I began by asking the senator if he thinks any version of the health care bill will pass.

    REP. JAMES LANKFORD, R-Okla.: I do actually, but I don’t think it’s the final version.

    What we have is the House will have version, the Senate will have a version. Neither of us want it to be the final version at this point. It will go to a conference committee, and we will work out the differences, and there will be significant differences between the House and Senate, and then bring a final version out after CBO can score it sometime in September.

    So, CBO has taken about four weeks to score just about everything we put out, so we have got to be able to give them a lot more time again to be able to run through scoring, and then we will be able to have that final vote.

    So, this week and the next 24 hours is a step again, but definitely not the final step.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, in terms that voters, that a layman could understand, what is mainly this legislation going to consist of as it comes out of the Senate, do you think?

    SEN. JAMES LANKFORD: So, this version that will come out, as I mentioned, is just a step that’s coming out. It will deal with some basic things, like the individual mandate, the employer mandate, state flexibility in allowing states to have greater options.

    When the Affordable Care Act was passed, it took all the control of health care to Washington, D.C., away from all the states. And so we want to be able to return some of that control back, when prices were much cheaper in the time before, when the Affordable Care Act was passed.

    So those will be the basic elements. There will be some other smaller parts to it. It’s basically the employer mandate, individual mandate, and state control vs. federal control.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, as you know, Senator, Democrats and even a number of Republicans are saying what’s being called skinny repeal, which is, I gather, what you’re referring to…

    SEN. JAMES LANKFORD: Right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: … would leave, what, more than 15 million Americans without coverage. Other versions would leave many more millions without coverage.

    Any one of these versions, we’re told, would raise the cost of premiums. How do you explain a vote to support that?

    SEN. JAMES LANKFORD: So, again, today’s vote is not the final vote. I understand that.

    They’re trying to score something that’s not finished by any means. So, that’s one big piece of it. The other one is to be able to look at how CBO scores this. CBO scores — they basically assume that if there is not a mandate to buy it, most people won’t buy the insurance products that are put out there under the Affordable Care Act.

    So, literally, there’s nine million people right now on the exchanges. They assume 22 million people won’t have insurance in the days ahead based on them changing this. Now, this may seem odd, and it only works in an economist’s mind, that only nine million people have it, 22 million people lose it in that sense.

    But here’s what’s really going on. Of the mine million people that are having it, CBO says, if they’re given the choice to be able to buy it, many of the individuals don’t want to buy that product, and they only buy it because they’re forced to buy that product. So that’s the number that’s sitting out there.

    I would also say, in my state, CBO never saw in their original estimates when the Affordable Care Act passed that in my state the insurance rates would go up over 200 percent for the individuals that were buying their insurance.

    So CBO is making their best guess, but I can assure you they don’t always guess correctly. No one can really see into the future on that. So they’re laying out an economist’s view vs. practically what’s actually happening on the ground.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we know that hospital officials in Oklahoma have said if one of the versions of this were to pass, that they thought it would be devastating on their ability to take care of low-income individuals, whether on Medicaid or otherwise.

    What do you say to them, the folks in your own state?

    SEN. JAMES LANKFORD: Yes, same thing, Judy.

    Obviously, they’re looking at just part of a plan. And I know that my Democratic colleagues have been very good for distributing bits and pieces of plans and saying here is the whole plan, without actually putting the full picture out there for individuals to be able to see how the stability works, how aspects of it work.

    They will just put out and say, this is going to be a cut that happens to this particular area. What will happen? Immediately, they respond back, well, that will be dramatic.

    Let me give you a for instance on Medicaid. I hear a lot of talk about how Medicaid goes down in one of the earlier proposals. Medicaid actually increases every year for the next eight years in that proposal by twice the rate of inflation, and then nine years from now it increases at only the rate of inflation.

    That’s put out by my Democratic colleagues as a big cut in Medicaid because nine years from now it doesn’t increase as fast, but every single year it’s increasing, and for the next eight years it increases twice as fast as inflation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator, I want to change the subject and ask you about the attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

    As you know, President Trump has been publicly criticizing him for the last several days, mainly because the attorney general recused himself from the Russia investigation.

    What do you make of the president’s public campaign against him?

    SEN. JAMES LANKFORD: Yes, it’s something I would never do. Obviously, the president is the president. He can lead his staff however he chooses. But I would never say to my staff in a public setting that there is a problem.

    If I have a problem with a staff member, they will sit down with me in my office and we will sit down and work it out. And if we can’t work it out, then they will leave.

    But that’s something we are going to work out in private, not in a public setting. And, quite frankly, Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself. That’s something all the legal counsel in the Department of Justice, once he joined as the attorney general, sat down with him, laid out the law of the statute.

    Everyone looked at it’s. Everyone read it exactly the same way, that Jeff needed to recuse himself. Now, did Jeff understand that before he got there? No, I don’t think he did, but once he was in that spot, sitting down with all the attorneys, he understand full well that he had to do that.

    I understand that frustrates the president, but it was the right thing to do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What would it mean if the president were to fire the attorney general or if Jeff Sessions were to step down because of this pressure from the president?

    SEN. JAMES LANKFORD: Well, there would be — obviously, the president — doesn’t have to be just pressure from the president. The president chooses who his staff is, and they all serve at the pleasure of the president.

    So, if any point the president is uncomfortable with Jeff Sessions and his leadership, he can choose to remove him. That’s what the president does for that. So, that’s not the issue. The issue is then going through the process, going through all of the nomination. Getting through all that aspect again starting all over again and getting someone in will take months and months.

    Right now, the attorney general is getting a good stride and dealing with U.S. attorneys around the country, getting with his staff, getting on board with different investigations that need to be done. So, I hate to be able to lose that progress that is happening right now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What would it mean for the Russia investigation if that were to happen?

    SEN. JAMES LANKFORD: It wouldn’t change the Russia investigation at all.

    Jeff is completely disconnected from what is happening in the Russia investigation. He’s recused himself. We have had numerous interactions with people in the DOJ. He’s not tried to interfere in that in any way. That’s already in the special counsel’s responsibility. So, it doesn’t change that investigation at all.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, Senator, the president’s announcement by Twitter yesterday that he wants to ban individuals who are transgender from serving in the military?

    SEN. JAMES LANKFORD: Yes, we’re trying to get additional details on what he means by that, the implementation.

    Obviously, the Pentagon was unaware of an announcement like that. The Pentagon was already in a six-month review dealing with transgenders in the military, what that means as far as costs, unit cohesion, deployment capabilities, what that means.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Would you support the ban?

    SEN. JAMES LANKFORD: Well, again, I’m waiting for that six-month review to come back from the military officials.

    We open up our military to all aspects for any individual that comes into the military that wants to be able to serve. There are unique issues, not just with a gay soldier or member of the military, but of someone who is in transition. You deal with medical issues. You deal with a lot of additional costs and implementation, what happens in a unit based on that, because that’s — as you know, that’s not a single surgery. That’s a series of surgeries that happens.

    And it’s a long time for them to be away from their unit. So, there are additional questions that are there that are unique to that, whether that individual should go through transition before they come into the military or after. All of those things are still up in the air, and the military is walking through that right now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, we thank you.

    SEN. JAMES LANKFORD: Great. Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can continue watching the Senate as it votes on the health care measures. We will be live-streaming throughout this night on our Web site. That’s pbs.org/newshour.

    The post Lankford: Obamacare repeal vote is not the final step on health care reform appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s new communications director exploded the smoldering tensions at the White House into a full-fledged conflagration Thursday, angrily daring Trump’s chief of staff to deny he’s a “leaker” and exposing West Wing backstabbing in language more suitable to a mobster movie than a seat of presidential stability.

    In a pull-no-punches, impromptu CNN interview that he said was authorized by the president, Anthony Scaramucci went after chief of staff Reince Priebus in graphic terms. “The fish stinks from the head down,” he said. “I can tell you two fish that don’t stink, and that’s me and the president.”

    Not even a week into his new job, Scaramucci accused unidentified senior officials of trying to sabotage him and committing a felony by leaking information. But the personal financial information that he said someone had “leaked” about him had simply been obtained through a public records request.

    WATCH: Trump stresses loyalty at national Boy Scout event

    Then in an interview published by The New Yorker late Thursday, an angry Scaramucci used expletives to accuse Priebus of being a “paranoid schizophrenic” and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon of trying to burnish his own reputation.

    He also threatened to fire White House staffers who leaked about a dinner he had with the president.

    “They’ll all be fired by me,” Scaramucci told the magazine. “I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus-if you want to leak something-he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.”

    Scaramucci did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his inflammatory remarks. Neither did the White House.

    He did tweet about the exchange later Thursday:

    The president’s senior counselor, Kellyanne Conway, had earlier speculated in a Fox News interview that unnamed forces were out to get Scaramucci, saying: “Somebody is trying to get in his way and scare him off.”

    “There are leaks and then there are people using the press to shiv each other in the ribs,” she said.

    Meanwhile, no one in the White House took up for Priebus — including Priebus himself. Newly promoted press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders avoided giving a direct answer when asked whether Trump has confidence in Priebus.

    The past 24 hours provided the clearest evidence yet that Scaramucci and Trump, both brash New Yorkers, are cut from the same cloth. One of their shared techniques: publicly shaming members of their own team.

    Scaramucci’s goading of Priebus came as Trump continued to fume publicly and privately about his attorney general. Trump has been critical of Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Justice Department investigation into whether the president’s campaign had anything to do with Russian interference in the election last fall.

    “It hasn’t been my best week … for my relationship with the president,” Sessions acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press in El Salvador, where he was on a mission to increase international cooperation against gangs.

    He said he would stay in his post and fight for Trump’s agenda “as long as he sees that as appropriate.”

    Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker and frequent outside adviser to Trump, said in an interview that Scaramucci’s attacks on Priebus are problematic.

    “They’ve got to get this sorted out between the two of them, and it would be nice if they didn’t do it in public,” he said.

    Yet after Scaramucci’s call-in CNN performance — a move lifted from his boss’ playbook — it was difficult to see how the two could mend fences.

    “I don’t know if this is repairable or not — that will be up to the president,” Scaramucci said on air. He compared their relationship to that of brothers who are “rough on each other,” invoking Cain and Abel. One of those biblical brothers murdered the other.

    READ MORE: White House communications director says he’s willing to ‘fire everybody’ for leaking

    The bad blood stems from Scaramucci’s view that Priebus was insufficiently supportive of Trump at the end of the election campaign and his belief that Priebus persuaded the president to keep him out of the White House in January. Six months later, Scaramucci’s close relationship with the president trumped the opposition of Priebus and Bannon.

    Scaramucci’s arrival in the West Wing last Friday marked the first in a series of falling dominoes that seemed to be leading toward Priebus. Press secretary Sean Spicer, a close ally of Priebus, resigned last week. Scaramucci then forced out another communications aide close to Priebus.

    Scaramucci then tweeted that someone had illegally leaked financial information about him, conspicuously mentioning Priebus’ Twitter handle. Scaramucci later deleted that tweet and said he had only mentioned Priebus to show that all senior leaders are taking leaks seriously.

    “In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony, I will be contacting @FBI and the @JusticeDept #swamp @Reince45,” his since-deleted tweet read.

    Scaramucci’s financial disclosure form wasn’t leaked at all. It was released after a public records request by a Politico reporter.

    In the CNN interview, Scaramucci said he’d be reaching out to his “buddies” in the FBI about the matter.

    If Scaramucci tries to direct the FBI to conduct a leak investigation, that could brush up against the Justice Department’s obligation to function independently from the White House, said Mark Zaid, a national security lawyer in Washington.

    Scaramucci’s arrival in the West Wing last Friday marked the first in a series of falling dominoes that seemed to be leading toward Priebus. Press secretary Sean Spicer, a close ally of Priebus, resigned last week. Scaramucci then forced out another communications aide close to Priebus.

    “It starts to potentially smell and approach an inappropriate line,” Zaid said.

    Brad Gerstman, a New York lobbyist and public relations executive, said it probably doesn’t matter to Trump that Scaramucci and Priebus don’t get along. Gerstman has done projects for the Trump Organization and is a neighbor and longtime friend of Scaramucci’s.

    “In my experience, he’s of the belief that sometimes a little friction in the ranks is how you surface the best ideas,” Gerstman said of Trump.

    But another rule of thumb in Trump’s inner circle is that it’s never wise to outshine the president.

    Trump has reacted angrily when certain aides — including Bannon and, briefly, son-in-law Jared Kushner — received outsized media attention.

    Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary under George W. Bush, said, “Ask Steve Bannon what happens if you get too much publicity and go too far.”

    “It reminds me of Icarus flying too close to the sun.”

    Associated Press writers Vivian Salama, Eric Tucker and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

    The post Scaramucci, with vulgar language, signals internal White House fight appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The U.S. military’s top commander said there will not be any changes regarding transgender troops for now. President Trump tweeted yesterday that he’s reinstating the ban on transgender service members.

    Today, in an internal memo, Marine General and Joint Chiefs Chairman Joe Dunford said that pending actual direction — quote — “We will continue to treat all our personnel with respect.”

    The Army’s chief of staff, General Mark Milley, echoed that in a Washington appearance.

    GEN. MARK MILLEY, U.S. Army Chief of Staff: We grow up and learn to obey the chain of command. And my chain of command is the secretary of the Army and the secretary of defense, right, and the president. So we will work through the implementation guidance when we get it, and then we will move from there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has been on vacation, and has made no public comment on reinstating the ban.

    The U.S. House of Representatives has approved $1.6 billion for President Trump’s proposed wall on the Mexican border. That’s the amount he formally asked for in May. The vote today attached the money to a much larger bill that includes a major increase in defense spending. That now goes to the Senate.

    A top Senate Republican had sharp words for the president today over Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Mr. Trump has repeatedly attacked Sessions for recusing himself in the Russia investigation.

    But Senator Lindsey Graham, who we have been hearing about, warned that there will be — quote — “holy hell” to pay if Sessions is fired. He also warned against getting rid of special counsel Bob Mueller.

    SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency, unless Mueller did something wrong. Right now, I have no reason to believe that Mueller is compromised. If you got reason to believe he is compromised and shouldn’t be serving as special counsel, let me know.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan also said that Mueller should stay where he is and continue doing his job. Attorney General Sessions was traveling in El Salvador today. He said again he will serve as long as the president wants him to, but he acknowledged it hasn’t been — quote — “the best week.”

    The U.S. State Department is condemning Iran’s claim that it launched an advanced rocket into space. The announcement today said it happened at a site east of Tehran. State TV said the rocket could carry a satellite weighing about 550 pounds. The U.S. says it could lead to long-range missiles, and violates the spirit of the Iran nuclear accord.

    Clashes erupted today between Palestinians and Israeli police near a Jerusalem mosque. Thousands rushed to pray there after Israel finished removing security devices that had triggered a boycott. Palestinians threw stones and Israeli police fired back with tear gas and stun grenades. The Red Crescent said that 37 people were hurt. Each side blamed the other for the trouble.

    Back in this country, investigators are asking why a ride at the Ohio State Fair broke apart Wednesday evening and killed a teenager. Two others were critically hurt. This cell phone video, slowed down, captured part of the Fire Ball ride giving way, just before it hurled people to the ground.

    The fair opened as scheduled today, but all rides were shut down. Governor John Kasich promised complete inspections.

    GOV. JOHN KASICH, R-Ohio: I think about those people that were hit by debris. I think about that moment when some were thrown from that carriage. That’s a nightmare. It’s a terrible situation. But all we can do is what is humanly possible to make sure that we provide the safety and the inspections.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: State inspectors had checked the ride before it began operating. Now officials in several other states are saying they have shut down these Fire Ball rides as well.

    Kansas’ embattled Governor Sam Brownback is set to become U.S. ambassador-at-large for religious freedom. The White House announced the appointment last night. The Republican’s popularity has plummeted over steep tax cuts that led to severe budget problems in Kansas. But conservative religious groups pushed Brownback’s nomination, for his opposition to abortion and to same-sex marriage.

    A court in China has handed a first-of-its-kind victory to that country’s LGBT community. The verdict today sided with a man who said that he was fired from his job for being transgender. The court ruled that workers cannot be discriminated against for ethnicity, race, gender or religion.

    The head of the Boy Scouts of America apologized today for President Trump’s speech this week at the Scouts’ national jamboree. Michael Surbaugh said, in an open letter — quote — “We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the scouting program.”

    The president appeared Monday night before thousands of Scouts, visitors and staff convened in West Virginia. He laced his speech with a series of partisan attacks.

    And today on Wall Street, tech stocks slumped, but the blue chips set a new record. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 85 points to close at 21796. The Nasdaq fell 40 points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.

    The post News Wrap: No changes to transgender policy for now, says military commander appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Republican efforts to pass health care reform ran into even more roadblocks this evening. A group of key senators balked at voting for what some have called the last resort, a version labeled skinny repeal. This came as plans were laid for debate and maybe a final vote later tonight.

    Our Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.

    WATCH: These Republican senators say they won’t vote for ‘skinny’ health bill unless there’s broader debate

    LISA DESJARDINS: A long day of debate setting up a longer night of votes, with Republicans stressing the failures of Obamacare.

    SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER, R-Tenn.: Conditions have changed in Tennessee. Our insurance market is — quote — “very near collapse.” That means that up to 350,000 individuals in our state, songwriters, workers, farmers, who buy their insurance on individual market are sitting there worrying in July and in August whether they will have any option to buy insurance in 2018.

    LISA DESJARDINS: And Democrats insisting that Republicans’ plans could mean no choices, especially for the poor.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, I-Vt.: Where there is a serious disagreement is, we say that the children of this country who have serious illnesses have the freedom to stay alive, even if their parents do not have a lot of money.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The debate all leading lead up to a whirlwind called vote-a-rama. Senators will take up amendment after amendment with little debate and five-minute votes. All or nearly all are expected to fail. Then, at the end of the legislative marathon, comes the key moment.

    Republicans plan to propose the one idea they think could pass now: a stripped-down, minimal repeal. It would abolish Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates, as well as one tax on medical devices. It would leave Medicaid and much of the rest of the Affordable Care Act essentially unchanged.

    Some on Capitol Hill call it the skinny repeal, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found it would mean 15 million fewer Americans with health insurance. And there is another issue: The CBO also found the idea would save $78 billion. But to comply with special rules that Republicans are using, this plan would need to save at least $133 billion, the score for the original House bill.

    As the votes stack up, so has more White House pushback at Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who voted against starting debate. First reported by Alaska Dispatch News, Murkowski, along with fellow Alaskan Senator Dan Sullivan, received grave phone calls from President Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

    He warned that the no vote put Alaska’s future with the administration in jeopardy. The paper speculated jeopardy meant problems for Alaska’s energy concerns.

    Murkowski is standing her ground.

    SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI, R-Ala.: I’m a pretty strong and independent individual.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Meantime, as to the endgame, Republicans admit, if they pass a bill, it would be a placeholder to negotiate with the House.

    SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER: It is not a solution to Affordable Care Act problems. But is its a solution to how we get to a place where we can write a solution to the Affordable Care Act problems.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Meantime, Democrats predict a last-minute bill would backfire.

    SEN. PATTY MURRAY, D-Wash.: If they jam it through, they will be held accountable for the millions of people who lose care and the millions and millions more who will see their premiums go up.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Everyone on both sides is looking at a long night.

    SEN. JOHN KENNEDY, R-La.: You can sleep out in the hall in between votes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa, late today, what we were suggesting as we introduced your piece is you had a group of Republicans coming out and saying they’re not even prepared to vote for this so-called skinny repeal, which many had thought was going to be the last resort.

    LISA DESJARDINS: This is a late and rather potentially pivotal twist led by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Also, John McCain was standing there, as well as Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

    All three of those senators said they will not vote for that so-called skinny repeal or that smaller repeal bill unless they are guaranteed that that is not the end, that they are guaranteed that the chance to debate a larger bill what’s called conference committee with the House.

    And that’s critical. That means that we won’t see the health care end — the health care debate end this weekend, as some people were starting to talk about.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Lisa, how did they get to the point where right here at the — beyond the 11th hour, you still have Republican senators saying they’re not comfortable with the options they’re being offered?

    LISA DESJARDINS: I think there is a graduate-level class and probably several in the works that will look at that exact question, Judy.

    But, from my viewpoint, one of the issues here was that they didn’t go through the usual process. They didn’t go through committees. They didn’t have public discussion. They did not have drafts of this bill.

    And, in fact, Judy, as I talk to you right now, there is still no draft of what could be the final proposal before senators. I talked to Ron Johnson, who said he wants to improve this bill, along with those other senators, to give more money to states in block grants.

    I said, when will your amendment be drafted? He said, “We can’t draft it now because we don’t know what we’re amending.”

    So, I think the process itself has led to these large questions here near the very end.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: When are the arguments, Lisa, that are mainly being used by the Republican leadership, and for that matter by the White House? Do they have any presence as this moves closer to an attempt to pass something?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Vice President Pence has certainly been an important factor. He was here today speaking to small business owners. I have not seen him on the Senate side today, but I understand he has been making phone calls.

    But I think the basic gist of this, Judy, is rather simple. Republican leaders in the Senate seem to be saying, vote for this or nothing. This is your one shot. Initially, they were saying, we will add to it, we will improve it later.

    But late today, they seemed to be saying, we actually could pass this with the House this weekend. And that’s another important development to watch, Judy. The House has now signaled to its members that they should be ready to stay this weekend, and they are preparing a rule that would allow them to pass anything, including a health care bill, same day.

    So if the Senate passes something, the House could pass it very quickly. But just like on the Senate, it’s not clear that the House Republican Conference supports any one vehicle. Very complicated, and right now, it seems the last hour has not worked to the leadership’s advantage.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, as we sit here or stand here, or you stand there, Lisa, as the evening gets under way, you’re saying this is truly up in the air?

    LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right. It is.

    And I think it will be a long night. And that vote-a-rama that we explained, right now, the timing of that is on hold. I know this, Judy. A lot of people have ordered pizza. I have brought my toothbrush. My husband doesn’t know that yet, but I think we just don’t know what’s going to happen, but it will be an important next 24 hours.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Toothbrush better than pizza.

    Lisa, thank you. And good luck staying up all night.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, as you have heard, we keep talking about so-called skinny repeal.

    Let’s look at exactly what that means.

    And, for that, we bring in Sarah Kliff. She is a senior policy correspondent for the Web site Vox. She has written extensively on health care.

    Welcome back to the program.

    SARAH KLIFF, Vox: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sarah, so we are throwing around this term.

    As we heard from Lisa, there are senators who are saying even this may not be acceptable to them. But for purposes of conversation, it is going to be one of the measures, we think, on the table. What does it mean?

    SARAH KLIFF: So, it basically means repealing the individual mandate, this requirement to purchase health coverage.

    We have seen other parts come in, come out, the medical device tax, defunding Planned Parenthood, but, at the core, it’s the repeal of the requirement to purchase health coverage.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it’s rolling back some of Obamacare, some of the Affordable Care Act, but not as much as full-blown repeal would be?

    SARAH KLIFF: It’s certainly not as much, so compared to the other bills, the one that passed through the House, for example, the American Health Care Act, which would get rid of much more in the health care law, the essential health benefits, for example, this is smaller, but it would affect a lot of people.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, and that’s what I want to ask you about, because you wrote a piece for Vox today which was titled “Skinny Repeal Isn’t Skinny at All.”

    SARAH KLIFF: Yes, this is a bill would cause about 15 million people to lose coverage.

    So, I kind of say skinny repeal is a misnomer, that this would really change the individual market. The Medicaid expansion, that would mostly function the same, but for people who purchase coverage in the individual market, they could expect premium increases of 20 percent. A lot of people would drop out of the market.

    I don’t think most Americans would see that as a skinny, small change.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the things you were writing about is the integral role that the individual mandate plays in all this.

    Remind us why that matters so much.

    SARAH KLIFF: That’s a requirement that nearly all of us in the United States have to purchase health insurance.

    And the draft version of the Affordable Care Act, they knew that was unpopular. They included it because they needed a way to get healthy people into the insurance market. If you don’t have mandate, the fear is that only the sick people who really need coverage sign up, premiums get really high, you could enter a death spiral, where premiums just go higher and higher.

    So, even Republican senators agree on this point, that the mandate, it is what makes the market work. It gets the healthy people to sign up.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And that explains the number you gave at the beginning of our conversation, the 15 million.

    The larger repeal would have meant 24, 25 million people losing coverage. But you’re saying even this is 15, 16 million.

    SARAH KLIFF: Yes, the big difference is Medicaid.

    So, those other bills, they would have ended Medicaid expansion, would have had much, much more significant Medicaid losses. And there are actually some Medicaid losses associated with individual mandate repeals.

    The CBO thinks that, if there isn’t a mandate, if people don’t hear this message health insurance is mandatory in the United States, they might not sign up for Medicaid. But the real challenge here is in the individual markets.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And it does sound like, with this, as we said, late-day news conference, Senator Lindsey Graham, other Republicans coming out and saying, we’re not prepared to support this unless we know the House is going to work with us on this, indicates that they’re getting some of this message.

    SARAH KLIFF: Yes, they understand.

    Lindsey Graham was saying, you know, in his press conference, we don’t think this is good policy. We don’t think it’s good to take the individual mandate out of the marketplace. So they recognize these consequences.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sarah Kliff with Vox watching it all very closely, thank you so much.

    SARAH KLIFF: Thank you.

    The post Key senators resist Republicans’ ‘skinny’ Obamacare repeal appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — His loyalty to the boss severely tested but seemingly intact, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he will stay in the job for as long as President Donald Trump wants him to serve.

    Sessions told The Associated Press he and Trump have a “harmony of values and beliefs” and he intends to stay and fight for the president’s agenda “as long as he sees that as appropriate.” This, after a week of being berated by Trump in the most public fashion as weak and ineffective.

    “If he wants to make a change, he has every right,” Sessions said in an interview outside the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador during a mission to increase international cooperation against the MS-13 gang. “I serve at the pleasure of the president. I’ve understood that from the day I took the job.”

    Congressional Republicans have rallied around Sessions, a former senator from Alabama, and expressed mortification at the humiliation visited on him by Trump in several interviews and a series of tweets.

    Trump is upset that Sessions recused himself months ago from the investigation into interactions between Russian officials and the Trump campaign, and that he has not taken a tougher line against his defeated Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

    Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina warned Thursday there would be “holy hell” to pay if Trump fired Sessions.

    After meeting his Salvadoran counterpart, Sessions told AP he was “thrilled” with the support he’s received, presumably from lawmakers.

    “I believe we are running a great Department of Justice,” he said. “I believe with great confidence that I understand what is needed in the Department of Justice and what President Trump wants. I share his agenda.”

    He acknowledged, with considerable understatement, “it hasn’t been my best week …. for my relationship with the president.” The two have not spoken recently, he said. “But I look forward to the opportunity to chat with him about it.”

    In Congress, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska went to the Senate floor Thursday to discourage Trump from making a so-called recess appointment while the Senate is away at the end of August — should that be the president’s intention. A recess appointment would allow Trump to appoint anyone of his choosing and bypass Senate confirmation until 2019 if the Senate recesses for 10 days or more in August.

    “If you’re thinking of making a recess appointment to push out the attorney general, forget about it,” Sasse said. “The presidency isn’t a bull, and this country isn’t a china shop.”

    The previous evening, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, tweeted that he wouldn’t be holding a confirmation hearing for a new attorney general if Trump decided to go that route.

    “If you’re thinking of making a recess appointment to push out the attorney general, forget about it,” Sen. Ben Sasse said. “The presidency isn’t a bull, and this country isn’t a china shop.”

    The committee’s agenda is set for the rest of 2017, he tweeted, adding: “AG no way.”

    The White House of late has appeared to be trying to tamp down the notion that Trump wants Sessions out — without offering a rousing endorsement of him, however.

    “The president wants him to do his job, do it properly,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said Thursday. “He wants him to be tough on the intelligence leaks and he wants him to move forward.”

    In San Salvador, Sessions met his Salvadoran counterpart, Douglas Melendez, and congratulated him on charges laid over the last two days against more than 700 gang members, many of them from MS-13, said the Justice Department.

    He also met members of an international anti-gang task force at an event where an FBI agent described MS-13 as a highly coordinated and well-organized gang whose imprisoned leaders order violence in the U.S. from their prisons in El Salvador.

    READ MORE: Jeff Sessions goes to El Salvador to learn how to eradicate the MS-13 gang

    MS-13 is an international criminal enterprise with tens of thousands of members in several Central American countries and many U.S. states. The gang originated in immigrant communities in Los Angeles in the 1980s then entrenched itself in Central America when its leaders were deported.

    It’s known for hacking and stabbing victims with machetes, drug dealing, prostitution and other rackets. Its recruits are middle- and high-school students predominantly in immigrant communities, and those who try to leave risk violent retribution, law enforcement officials have said.

    MS-13 members have been accused in a spate of bloodshed that included the massacre of four young men in a Long Island, New York, park and the killing of a suspected gang rival inside a deli. The violence has drawn attention from members of Congress and Trump, who has boasted about efforts to arrest and deport MS-13 members across the United States.

    For Sessions, the anti-gang mission was a way to show his priorities are Trump’s priorities after days of being upbraided by the president in the most public fashion.

    In Washington, lawmakers from both parties moved on efforts to prevent the dismissal of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a development that might be made easier if Sessions were moved aside.

    READ MORE: Senators craft bill to prevent Robert Mueller from being fired

    Graham is working on legislation that would block the firing of special counsels without judicial review. Democrat Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, among several senators involved in the effort, said the bill would protect Mueller and other special counsels. He said firing Mueller “would precipitate a firestorm that would be unprecedented in proportions.”

    Sessions recused himself from the investigation into election meddling after he acknowledged meeting with Russia’s ambassador during the campaign.

    The post Sessions to AP: I’m not stepping down unless asked appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The barrier between Mexico and the U.S. is a series of walls and fences, along with natural barriers of rivers and cliffs. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    The barrier between Mexico and the U.S. is a series of walls and fences, along with natural barriers of rivers and cliffs. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The House passed a $788 billion spending bill Thursday that combines a $1.6 billion down payment for President Donald Trump’s controversial border wall with Mexico with a whopping budget increase for the Pentagon.

    The 235-192 vote both eases a large backlog of unfinished spending bills and gives Trump and his House GOP allies political wins heading into the August recess. Challenging hurdles remain in front of the measure, however, which will meet with more powerful Democratic opposition in the Senate.

    The 326-page measure would make good on longtime GOP promises to reverse an erosion in military readiness. It would give veterans programs a 5 percent increase and fund a 2.4 percent military pay raise.

    GOP leaders used the popularity of the Pentagon and veterans programs to power through Trump’s border wall.

    READ MORE: Trump’s vision for U.S.-Mexico border: 700 to 900 miles of see-through wall

    “Every single dime the President requested to start building a wall on our southern border he’s going to get,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “Most importantly, we’re sending more to the VA to fix veterans’ health care and reform outdated VA systems.”

    Still, a potential government shutdown battle over the U.S.-Mexico wall looms with Senate Democrats this fall. The generous defense spending increases also run afoul of strict spending limits set by an earlier budget law, and there’s been no progress on a bipartisan budget deal that would be a prerequisite for the higher spending to take full effect.

    The House added Trump’s wall funding by a 230-196 procedural vote that denied angry Democrats an up-or-down vote. The wall gets low marks in public opinion polls and is opposed by many of the GOP’s more moderate lawmakers.

    Trump promised at nearly every rally and campaign event that Mexico would pay for the wall. Mexico said no, and U.S. taxpayers will have to provide the money.

    “The president has promised this funding, the American people want this funding, and today the House is making good on that promise,” said Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss.

    Critics say that existing fencing is more than enough and that the portions of the border without it are too remote for crossings and that tribal law, environmental requirements, and personal property rights have blocked fencing for most of the rest.

    READ MORE: Why Trump is supporting solar panels along the U.S.-Mexico border

    “Nobody would know it from the President’s hysterical rhetoric, but there are already 700 miles of fence down there on the border — vehicular fencing, pedestrian fencing,” said Rep. David Price, D-N.C. “I know about it because most of that fencing was built when I was chairman of the homeland security appropriations subcommittee.”

    At issue are the spending bills passed by Congress each year to fund the day-to-day operations of federal agencies. Trump is pushing for a sweeping increase for the Pentagon and commensurate cuts of more than $50 billion, or 10 percent, from domestic agencies and foreign aid. House Republicans are responding by adding even more for defense but have significantly scaled back Trump’s cuts to domestic programs like community development grants and medical research.

    GOP leaders had hoped to advance a broader “omnibus” package that would have included each of the 12 measures. But the GOP rank and file balked, so Republicans devised a smaller bill anchored by the Pentagon budget, funding for veterans programs, and money for the wall.

    READ MORE: Here’s what the Mexico border wall looks like now

    But most of the sweeping Pentagon increases — which total about $60 billion above current levels and almost $30 billion higher than Trump’s budget — would evaporate next year unless there’s a bipartisan agreement to raise budget “caps” set by a 2011 budget pact. A two-year agreement that eased those “sequestration” spending limits expires in September.

    Both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate want additional funding for domestic programs. Democrats have lots of leverage because their votes are needed to pass the funding measures. For now, the Senate is working in a bipartisan fashion on a sharply different set of bills that, on average, are frozen at current levels.

    Earlier this year, Congress and Trump came together of spending bills for the current budget year that largely stuck to work done last year under former President Barack Obama. Trump reluctantly signed a $1.2 trillion catchall spending bill in May after his demand for border wall money looked like it would stall the measure.

    The current bill reflects the changed balance of power in GOP-controlled Washington. Weapons procurement is a top priority. Democrats said the big gains for now are illusory since automatic budget cuts known as sequestration remain in place.

    The current bill, however, reflects the changed balance of power in GOP-controlled Washington. Weapons procurement is a top priority, including two additional littoral combat ships above Trump’s request and 14 unrequested next-generation F-35 fighters.

    Democrats said the big gains for now are illusory since automatic budget cuts known as sequestration remain in place.

    “We do not give certainty to our defense or confidence to our troops when we legislate with phony numbers, when we refuse to make honest choices about our Defense budget,” said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “Instead of giving certainty to our heroes in uniform, this bill would breach the sequester spending limit by more than $70 billion, forcing a mandatory 13 percent cut to all defense accounts.”

    The post House GOP passes $788 billion spending bill that boosts Pentagon budget, border wall appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks about immigration reform during his weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTS195CW

    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says the House is willing to negotiate a final health care bill with the Senate. Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts.

    Speaker Paul Ryan says the House is willing to negotiate a final health care bill with the Senate.

    Ryan’s announcement Thursday evening is meant to ease doubts among Senate Republicans about voting for a minimal repeal bill. It’s not clear if Ryan’s announcement will clear the way for Senate passage.

    The so-called “skinny repeal” is a last resort for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who’s trying to undo the Affordable Care Act.

    WATCH: These Republican senators say they won’t vote for ‘skinny’ health bill unless there’s broader debate

    It would repeal “Obamacare’s” unpopular requirement that Americans have health insurance or risk fines, along with other selected provisions. But just repealing the requirement would lead to a spike in premiums.

    Some GOP senators, including Arizona’s John McCain, had demanded guarantees that the House would not simply approve the minimalist bill and send it to President Donald Trump.

    The post Ryan says House is willing to negotiate final health care bill with Senate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The documentary "Daughters of Destiny" tracks the lives of five girls at Shanti Bhavan, a school for the poor in India. Screen image courtesy of Netflix

    The documentary “Daughters of Destiny” tracks the lives of five girls at Shanti Bhavan, a school for the poor in India. Screen image courtesy of Netflix

    Shanti Bhavan, a boarding school in Tamil Nadu in southern India, has provided free education to the poor for 20 years, in exchange for a sense of duty and service to the community once graduates are out in the real world.

    The original school started with 48 children and now, two decades later, has 300 in the program, including about 50 in college with scholarships. Another 50 graduates are working, and sometimes they return to pitch in with teaching or to catch up with other alumni. A new, four-part Netflix documentary about the school premieres today. Called “Daughters of Destiny,” the series spans seven years and follows the lives of five female students. (You can watch the trailer below.)

    Shilpa Raj was one of the first girls admitted, at age 4. In her classes, Raj favored English and story time over physics and math. “My teachers saw I was interested in reading, writing and telling stories, and encouraged me to pursue my passion for writing.”

    She aspired to be a journalist, but her life took an unexpected turn when her 14-year-old sister, Kavya, who had run away from home, died by suicide. Raj felt intense guilt for not helping her sister and having more advantages than she had had, and decided to pursue a career in counseling others.

    Shilpa Raj, now 24, is a Shanti Bhavan graduate who works as a counselor. Photo courtesy of Raj

    Shilpa Raj, now 24, is a Shanti Bhavan graduate who works as a counselor. Photo courtesy of Raj

    “I realized that my entire community had a lot of mental health issues,” she said recently in an interview. “I was trying to understand why my family behaved the way they did. My parents always fought and threatened to commit suicide. There were underlying psychological problems as a result of the hard lives they were leading.”

    Shanti Bhavan focuses on children from disadvantaged homes, with family struggles like alcoholism, debt and poverty, said Ajit George, director of operations. His father, Abraham George, founded the school in 1997 and serves as its principal.

    The in-house education covers preschool through high school, and the organization continues to help pay for the students’ college education.

    The students are held to a high standard, regardless of their background, said Ajit George. In society, people sometimes think it’s OK to scrimp on what’s provided to the poor because they have so little already, he said. “I think that’s just our own internalized prejudice towards people in poverty. Shanti Bhavan has a totally different ethos about it. Our opinion is there should be no double standards for the poor. The poor deserve as much as anyone else, and if you can provide them that same level of opportunity, they will do well and they will excel.”

    Along with demanding academics, the students get life skills training. The girls learn about menstrual cycles, the boys are taught about gender equality, and all practice job interviews.

    About 600 volunteers from around the world assist the teachers in their area of professional expertise, help run extracurricular activities and act as mentors.

    The school is funded by corporations, nongovernmental organizations and private donors. Construction of a second school is planned also in southern India, a few hours’ drive from the original site, to save costs and share resources, said George.

    Another graduate, Prashanth Kumar Reddy, 22, was raised by a single mother after his alcoholic father left the family. Reddy had a love of science in school, but became intrigued by the stock market and now works for Goldman Sachs in Bangalore.

    “When I go back home, it reminds me of my past and the difficulties that my mother faced after my father left us,” he said. The monthly visits and daily calls with his mother are a motivation to help improve her life and others’, while he’s living in relative comfort in the city.

    The students at Shanti Bhavan in southern India take regular classes along with life skills training. Photo courtesy of Shanti Bhavan

    The students at Shanti Bhavan in southern India take regular classes along with life skills training. Photo courtesy of Shanti Bhavan

    In India as a whole, it seems that a culture of giving back to society is growing, said Reddy, such as corporations pairing with nongovernmental organizations for their employees to do volunteer work. “It might be for their own gain, maybe tax gain, but at least that’s driven people to start something.”

    Reddy said he’s excited about the prospect of Shanti Bhavan opening a second school to foster those positive changes in society.

    Many of the students, like Reddy and Raj, realize they have a unique opportunity at Shanti Bhavan and it’s up to them where they go from there, said George. “It’s given them a strong sense of responsibility” to help other members in their family who didn’t get the same chance. They help their siblings find jobs, and use their salaries to repay their families’ debts and get better housing, he said.

    Shilpa Raj, now 24, counsels families of children with autism and other developmental disorders in her home state of Karnataka in southwestern India. She recently completed a master’s degree in psychology and plans to pursue her doctorate. She wants to start a program that caters particularly to the needs of troubled girls.

    Like her sister, the girls might be reaching out and feel that no one is hearing them, said Raj. “She reached a point in her life when she felt there was no hope, and I never want anyone, a child or adult, to go through that again.”

    The documentary series “Daughters of Destiny” features five students in the rural school.

    View more profiles of social entrepreneurs in our Agents for Change series.

    The post At a school for poor children in India, price of attendance is paying it forward appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Protesters gather outside the Capitol Building prior to an all night round of health care votes. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein and Reuters

    In a major blow to their party and President Donald Trump, Senate Republicans failed on Friday to pass a scaled-back version of health reform in a tense overnight Senate vote. The loss dealt what may have been a fatal blow to efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In the wake of that vote, we break down the winners and losers.

    THE WINNERS

    Low-income individuals: Medicaid and the Medicaid expansion both stay as they are now. That means no immediate reductions overall. And millions of people who make between 100 and 138 percent of poverty ($16,643 for individuals) and receive Medicaid because of the expansion of the Affordable Care Act will still receive benefits.

    Planned Parenthood: The Senate and House both hoped to block Planned Parenthood funding for a year as part of health care reform. The Congressional Budget Office found that would cost the organization (and save the federal government) $178 million next year. Now, for at least the moment, that is off the table.

    The Centers for Disease Control and public health: Nearly every version of ACA repeal would have gutted the Prevention and Public Health Fund. That’s a $1 billion pool of money which the ACA mandates must be spent on improving public health. Much of that money goes directly to the Centers for Disease Control. The death of the GOP bills means more life for this money.

    Rural America: In much of rural America, hospitals represent the greatest employer and economic engine. But rural hospitals stridently opposed the Republican bills, arguing they would leave them footing more of the bills for the uninsured (and more uninsured). The status quo is still not ideal for many rural hospitals, but it’s better than what they saw in the GOP repeal plans.

    Regular order: Seven months of closed-door talks and no public hearings have now resulted in little more than a political body blow to Senate Republicans. Now, the more tedious but often more successful traditional process takes over: committee hearings and work on a deal by the Senate Health Education and Public Works committee.

    Many Republicans: Moderate Republicans and Republicans in states with large Medicaid populations may have dodged a political bullet here. The repeal bills, especially those with Medicaid reductions, were raising sharp concern and pushback for these members.

    The losers

    Tax Reform: The dream of a once-in-a-generation overhaul of the tangled U.S. tax code took a significant hit when the health care bill went down. Republicans had hoped to use savings (likely from Medicaid reductions) to help fund tax cuts. That’s out now. And so, by the way, is another big funding idea known as the border adjustment tax. This all adds to the already tricky task of agreeing on which Americans should pay more and how many can pay less.

    Long-term debt: Republican plans to dramatically scale back Medicaid met with wide resistance for the number of people who would lose care. But the idea did achieve some important long-term savings in Medicaid, a program whose costs are forecast to soar in coming years. Now that cost threat remains.

    Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan: Both the Senate and House Republican leaders worked overtime behind the scenes to try to pass ACA repeal. Neither faces an immediate challenge for their job, but this could be a serious chink in their armors.

    Many other Republicans: Many Republicans now face angry core constituents who feel strongly that the Affordable Care Act harms their lives. And that the GOP promised to do away with it, but has so far failed.

    The post Who wins and who loses after last night’s health care vote appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Jang Ha-jin who was a trainee at S.M, Entertainment, picks out a book at a university library in Daejeon December 18, 2014. Jang made it to S.M. Entertainment's coveted training programme a decade ago after winning a talent contest. She stuck to a seven-day regimen for nearly three years, before giving it all up to return to a more sedate life. Thousands of Korean children dream of becoming household names like rapper Psy, whose 2012 "Gangnam Style" video was a global YouTube hit, often putting up with punishing schedules in the hope of one day making it big in the music industry. A recent survey of pre-teens shows that 21 percent of respondents wanted to be K-pop (Korean pop) stars when they grow up, the most popular career choice. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: SOCIETY ENTERTAINMENT) ATTENTION EDITORS: PICTURE 13 OF 27 FOR WIDER IMAGE PACKAGE 'THE ROAD TO K-POP STARDOM' TO FIND ALL IMAGES SEARCH 'KIM K-POP' - RTR4MEYH

    A woman picks out a book at a university library in Daejeon, South Korea, in December 2014. Photo by REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

    If you’ve been too busy devouring the headlines to read a work of literature, you’re not alone. Longtime media executive Madhulika Sikka is a big reader (as well as an author), but looking back at 2016, she realized all she read last year was news. She also noticed that in the dwindling book review pages, the majority of coverage was on books written by white men. To reset, Sikka made a goal in 2017 to read 52 books in 52 weeks — all of them by women, and many women of color. This was her small contribution, she said, to redress the balance of what many see as a skewed Western literary canon.

    Below, here are five books by women of color, which Sikka, who has 23 weeks left in her experiment, recommends reading right now. In her words:

    Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    1. “The Wangs vs. The World” by Jade Chang

    In this hilarious debut novel, Jade Chang beguiles with the riotous tale of Charles Wang and his riches to rags story as he loses his cosmetics empire in the great recession of 2008. Soon after the unceremonious loss of his California mansion, he and his family (including two children pulled out of schools that are no longer affordable) head off on a cross-country road trip in a 30-year-old powder blue Mercedes, headed to upstate New York where the oldest daughter still has some money (she thinks). This is a brilliantly told story about hubris, family, legacy and the challenges of adversity. You will fall in love with Charles Wang and his crazy family.

    Credit: Random House

    Credit: Random House

    2. “The Windfall” by Diksha Basu

    What if you lived a perfectly comfortable life, not wanting for anything, but you suddenly became richer? How much is too much? How will this wealth, which comes late in life, impact your life? In her debut novel, Diksha Basu deftly examines the changes that come to Anil Jha and his wife after he sells a website for millions. The Jhas represent a growing demographic in India, the new wealthy. With a combination of humor and insight she presents the challenges that this newfound wealth puts on a family, a marriage and a neighborhood. With a wonderful ear for dialogue, her book is peppered with a range of characters that represent a burgeoning class in India. For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with the changes in India, you will be both enlightened and entertained by this charming book.

    Credit: William Morrow

    Credit: William Morrow

    3. “Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows” by Balli Kaur Jaswal

    Imagine being a 22-year-old young woman who goes to teach a writing class to a group of widows in your local temple. Then imagine finding out that they actually can’t write, but they still have stories they want to share with each other — stories about desire, pleasure, satisfaction and longing. Once Nikki has got her head around this she realizes that this group of women, who have lived a life circumscribed by men, “had started one quiet rebellion” by telling their stories. She wants to protect them but that’s where her troubles start. This is a poignant tale about immigrant older women who are finding their voices. It’s funny and original and will make you rethink all the matriarchs in your community.

    Credit: Twenty7

    Credit: Twenty7

    4. “Sofia Khan is Not Obliged” by Ayisha Malik

    Ayisha Malik wanted to read books about Muslims who are “normalized,” so she wrote one herself. Her heroine, Sofia Khan, is a Londoner, works in PR, and wears a hijab. This is a book about friendships, family, dating and marriage. It’s been dubbed the Muslim “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” though I think it is more enlightening than that. Malik says she wanted to subvert the expectations that a book about Muslim women would be about oppression and subjugation. She says this book tells a story that reflects the lives of women like her and her friends. It is a funny and engaging look at a community that has been portrayed in popular culture solely in the shadow of terrorism, and the perfect beach book (yes, really).

    Credit: Knopf

    Credit: Knopf

    5. “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi

    If you didn’t get to this book last year, it’s in paperback now, so make sure it’s in your beach bag this summer. A sweeping story of slavery that starts with the story of half-sisters Effia and Esi born in 18th century Ghana, the novel follows the family trees of both sisters, one who stays in Ghana and the other who is sent to America on a slave ship. It’s ambitious in its sweep, bringing us to the present day, and powerful in its storytelling as it traces the historic trajectory of their descendants during key moments of history. There is a beauty and maturity to the writing that enthralls from the first page to the last. Gyasi is an exciting new voice in American literature.

    Madhulika Sikka is a media executive and creator and curator of 52 Weeks, 52 Books, 52 Women, and host of the podcast of the same name.

    Editor’s Note: Sikka has previously done some consulting work for the NewsHour. 

    The post Here are the 5 books by women of color you need to read right now appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Four thousand U.S. dollars are counted out by a banker counting currency at a bank in Westminster, Colorado November 3, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES BUSINESS) - RTXQCTH

    The CEOs of the top 350 U.S. firms made an average of $15.6 million in 2016, according to a new report, released recently by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    The CEOs of the top 350 U.S. firms made an average of $15.6 million in 2016. That’s according to a new report, released recently by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute that looks at total CEO compensation: salary, stock grants, bonuses and long-term incentive payouts.

    Among the findings: The average CEO makes 271 times the amount that a typical worker makes — the “average” pay of a worker in the CEO’s industry. Notably, that’s down from 2015, when CEO-to-worker compensation was 286 to 1. But it’s a far cry from the 20-to-1 ratio of 1965 and suggests just how unequal corporate pay in America has come.

    So why are CEOs making so much? Do they deserve it? And why might CEO pay have been down last year?

    We spoke to EPI’s president Lawrence Mishel about the study and its findings.


    KRISTEN DOERER: What were the major findings of the report?

    LARRY MISHEL: We found that CEO pay remains tremendously high compared to what it was in 1995, 1989 or the 1960s. Executive pay since 1978 has risen 70 percent faster than the stock market, much faster than even the wages for the top 0.1 percent of earners. A typical worker has only seen their annual compensation grow by around 11 percent over that time period. While for CEOs it’s up 800 to 900 percent [since 1978].

    Compensation of CEOs in large firms [counting the stock options they sell] is now 271 times that of a typical worker, But what really is important to know is that back in 1965, a CEO would earn only roughly 20 times that of a typical worker.

    KRISTEN DOERER: Were you surprised by the findings?

    LARRY MISHEL: I was a little surprised that CEO compensation fell when we measured pay with the amount of stock options that were realized or sold. And that was for the second year. But it only fell really for the highest paid CEOs. The bottom 80 percent of CEOs saw their compensation rise from 2015 to 2016 and over the years. So apparently the highest-paid CEOs are not getting as many stock options as they used to and not selling as many as they used to.

    READ MORE: Large CEO-worker wage gaps are a major consumer turnoff

    KRISTEN DOERER: Why do you think CEO pay is down, if only a little?

    LARRY MISHEL: So CEO compensation tends to rise and fall with the stock market, because when the stock market goes up, CEOs will sell more of their stock options. That actually didn’t happen this year. My instinct is that CEO compensation will resume its rise, as stock prices continue upwards. So we’ll have to wait until 2017 to see whether, if there’s a further rise in the market, we’ll see CEO compensation perk up again. I wouldn’t be surprised. Is it encouraging the ratio has gone down? Yes and no. Until we understand what caused the decline of stock options realized, it’s hard to judge what is happening and what it means. I’m happier than if the ratio zoomed higher, for sure. Also, I think CEOs are being granted fewer stock options now than let’s say in the 2002 to 2007 period. And they’re also cashing out less. The ups and downs of the stock market will determine how many stock options people exercise and sell.

    KRISTEN DOERER: If a company’s productivity and profits increase, then doesn’t that company’s CEO deserve more pay?

    LARRY MISHEL: Absolutely. But CEO compensation tends to go up with the stock market. So when the stock market is rising generally, the stocks of the firms in every industry will tend to go up. That does not suggest that all those CEOs are doing a bang-up job. That just means they’re riding a wave of the overall stock market going up.

    CEO compensation is not set so that when a particular firm’s price rises more than the stock price of its competitors, it goes up. It’s just whether the stock price itself goes up. And there’s lots of evidence that company performance is not very tightly linked to what CEOs are paid.

    KRISTEN DOERER: To follow along that, the study says that “CEO pay does not reflect great productivity of the executives but rather the power of CEOs to extract concessions.” Can you explain that?

    LARRY MISHEL: There’s very little evidence that CEO compensation has grown so much because the firms themselves have done that much better. CEO compensation has far outpaced corporate profits and stock prices. What explains CEO compensation going up is a sort of Lake Wobegon world — everyone is above average, and the directors of every firm want to pay their CEO more than other people. And so CEO pay tends to get ratcheted up. [See Paul Solman’s explanation of the Lake Wobegon effect in his PBS NewsHour story.]
    So in my view, we could cut CEO compensation in half. CEOs would all still show up to work. And the economy would be equally as productive as it is now. So what CEOs are getting is money that otherwise would go to other people.

    READ MORE: An explanation for the rise in CEO pay? Stable option grants

    KRISTEN DOERER: So what do we do about all this?

    LARRY MISHEL: One is transparency. It’s important to be able to know what the compensation is. It’s useful to know what the compensation is relative to that of a typical worker in the firm. There ought to be more chances for shareholders to have a say on what the CEO compensation is.

    I think we should not allow performance pay or the stock options that CEOs get to be tax-deductible. Right now a firm can pay its CEO $1 million in wages, and all the wages above that are not tax-deductible, but they can provide $10 million of stock options, and it’s all tax-deductible. And I think that’s basically a loophole.

    KRISTEN DOERER: Don’t we have some transparency with CEO pay?

    LARRY MISHEL: Well, we have transparency with CEO pay for those companies that sell stock publicly and are on the public exchanges. And we have a new requirement from Dodd-Frank that will happen next year, where companies have to reveal the pay of their CEOs as a ratio to the pay of the median or typical worker in the firm.

    KRISTEN DOERER: In the report, you also touch upon some of the criticism that has come from more conservative think tanks. Can you talk a little bit about that?

    LARRY MISHEL: The main justification that some offer for the very high CEO compensation is that firms are competing in a market for talent. They have to pay that to get the kind of people they want. We examined what happened to CEO compensation and compared it to the wages of the top 1,000th of workers, the top 0.1 percent. And the pay of CEOs has risen three times as fast as that of other high-wage earners. It’s hard to believe that CEOs over the last 30, 40 years have become that much more talented than other people in the top 0.1 percent.

    READ MORE: Column: We don’t need Washington to fix bloated CEO pay

    KRISTEN DOERER: Mark Perry, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, has said that we should be looking at the compensation of average CEOs — not of just the top 350 companies.

    LARRY MISHEL: The reason not to look at an average CEO, including CEOs of very small firms, is that they don’t set the standard. The pay of the large companies’ CEOs sets the pay level for lots of executives and managers in those firms. Private-sector firms are going to copy that. It turns out that nonprofits in universities and hospitals have the pay of their CEOs affected by that too.

    So that’s what really matters. Most companies, most firms don’t even really have CEOs. A company of 10 to 20 people doesn’t have someone you call a CEO. They may have a president of a company or the manager, but they in no way are any bit like someone who has hundreds of millions in revenue.

    The post CEO pay down — to ‘only’ 271 times that of the typical worker appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump appeared to advocate rougher treatment of people in police custody during a speech in New York.

    Trump spoke dismissively of arresting officers who protect suspects’ heads while putting them in police cars in a speech in front of law enforcement on Long Island.

    He said: “You can take the hand off,” drawing cheers from his audience.

    Trump also claimed that laws are written to “protect the criminal” and “not the officers.”

    He told the law enforcement officials that the “laws are stacked against you” and need to be changed

    WATCH: Trump trumpets MS-13 crackdown in Long Island speech

    The post WATCH: Trump to police: Don’t worry about people in custody hitting their heads on squad cars appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — His White House in turmoil, President Donald Trump abruptly announced late Friday he was appointing Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to be his chief of staff, ending the tumultuous six-month tenure of Reince Priebus.

    After months of speculation about Priebus’ fate, Trump tweeted his decision just as he landed in Washington after a speech in New York in which he lavishly praised Kelly’s performance at Homeland Security.

    Priebus, the former Republican National Committee head, was the frequent target of rumors about his job security amid infighting and confusion within the White House and a long whisper campaign by Trump allies. Then, on Thursday, he was the subject of a remarkable and profane public rebuke by Trump’s newly appointed White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci.

    Priebus told allies that he had offered his resignation to Trump on Thursday.

    Trump’s announcement on Twitter said, “I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American … and a Great Leader. John has also done a spectacular job at Homeland Security. He has been a true star of my Administration.”

    He also saluted Priebus, the chief of staff he had just pushed out.

    Kelly is a retired Marine four-star general. Trump had focused on him in recent days, telling those close to him that he believed military discipline was what his administration needed.

    Priebus never could bring a semblance of order to the team of in-fighting rivals that populate Trump’s West Wing, and questions about his future have long swirled around the office. Those questions sharply escalated this week with the arrival of Scaramucci, the hard-charging communications director who was hired over Priebus’ objections.

    Priebus’ already tense relationship with Scaramucci took a darker turn over the past two days when the communications chief suggested in a late-night tweet that Priebus was one of the “leakers” that Trump has railed against. The New Yorker magazine published an interview Thursday in which Scaramucci called Priebus, amid an avalanche of vulgarity, a “paranoid schizophrenic.”

    Priebus, who hails from Wisconsin and has deep ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan, had grown increasingly isolated in the White House, as past Republican National Committee colleagues and other allies have left or been pushed out. Those who have departed include former deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, former communications chief Mike Dubke, press secretary Sean Spicer and press aide Michael Short. Another early departure from the Trump White House was National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

    Ryan, in a statement, said Priebus “has left it all out on the field, for our party and our country.” Ryan added that he looked forward to working with Kelly.

    Both Scaramucci and Priebus traveled to New York’s Long Island with Trump on Friday for a speech in which the president highlighted efforts to crack down on the gang MS-13. Priebus took the return flight to Washington, which had to circle the runway due to a storm, his fate sealed in the tweets that were sent by the president just as he stepped off the plane.

    Shortly before the president deplaned, Priebus’ black SUV pulled away, leaving the rest of the motorcade, including the president’s vehicle, in the distance. The president eventually emerged, umbrella in hand, and delivered a brief statement on the runway as driving rain poured.

    Rep. Peter King of New York sat across from the outgoing chief of staff on Air Force One’s return flight to Washington and said Priebus “kept a poker face.”

    READ MORE: Here’s where Reince Priebus falls on the list of shortest-serving chiefs of staff

    Priebus did not respond to reporters’ shouted questions though he later released a statement saying it was “one of the greatest honors of my life” to serve as chief of staff. He also pledged to continue to support Trump’s agenda. His term ends in fewer than 200 days, the shortest tenure for any president’s first White House chief of staff since the post was formally established in 1946.

    From day one, Priebus’ power has been limited compared with past officials with his title. In a highly unusual arrangement, Trump said at the outset that Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon would serve as “equal partners” in implementing his agenda.

    Scaramucci was the latest top aide to be granted a direct line to Trump, and it became increasingly unclear who actually reported to Priebus. Though Priebus forged an uneasy truce with his former foe Bannon, powerful White House aides Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, were both supportive of Kelly’s hire, according to a person familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly about private discussions.

    Priebus, whose departure was the latest in a string of early exits from the administration, also was blamed by some within the White House for the failure of the Republican health care plan, with some Trump allies believing that Priebus’ longtime relationships with Republicans on Capitol Hill should have ensured the bill’s passage.

    WATCH: Why are leaks and infighting plaguing Trump’s presidency?

    Priebus, a political operative and attorney, is expected to look for a corporate job or possibly write a book about his experience in the center of the Trump storm. One of the final establishment Republicans in the White House, he was a frequent target of barbs from Trump over not being an early backer of the celebrity businessman’s candidacy.

    As Homeland Security secretary, Kelly has taken the lead on some of Trump’s most controversial policies, including his executive orders suspending the admission of refugees and temporarily barring visitors from several Muslim-majority nations. Those orders have been stripped down by courts pending a Supreme Court review this fall.

    People who know Kelly told The Associated Press that he was not aware of the details of those initial orders until around the time that Trump signed them. Yet, just days after taking office, Kelly had to lead the agency as it dealt with the chaos and confusion that ensued at airports in the U.S. and around the world. He defended the orders to reporters and lawmakers and insisted that he indeed had been part of the decision-making process.

    Kelly has also pushed for support for Trump’s signature campaign pledge to build a wall along the southern border, though he acknowledged at his confirmation hearing that “a physical barrier in and of itself will not do the job.”

    Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a frequent Trump critic, said that, as Homeland Security chief, Kelly has “been very effective in engaging members of Congress and communicating a coherent message for the President.”

    “Secretary Kelly is one of the strongest and most natural leaders I’ve ever known,” Graham said.

    Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey, Vivian Salama, Steve Peoples and Laurie Kellman contributed reporting.

    The post President Trump names John Kelly as chief of staff, replacing Priebus appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Health care in 17 syllables. Created and designed by CactuSoup and Getty Images.

    It’s not easy to channel the concerns of millions of Americans in 17 syllables. Still, we received an outpouring of poetic expression in response to our callout for health care haiku. Choosing a single winner was too difficult. Thus we are proud to congratulate our two winners: Ronnie Dugger and Dorothy Workman!

    Here are the winning haiku. They won for their combination of cleverness, poignancy and expression of the general disquiet which we saw in nearly all entries:

    Can’t pay the M.D.,
    no money for surgery,
    but I can die free!
    Ronnie Dugger

    The Health Care Debate
    A final insanity
    Which no one can win.
    Dorothy Workman

    THANK YOU to everyone who responded. As we have said before, we have the most talented readers and viewers in the business.

    The post The winners of our health care haiku contest are… 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.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, to our NewsHour Shares, something that caught our eye that we thought might be of interest to you, too.

    Boston’s inner city often sees a spike in violence during the summer, when many students are out of school and on the streets.

    But as Tina Martin from PBS station WGBH reports, one mother is trying to change that trend by exposing young people to the outdoors.

    TINA MARTIN: Amid trees, chirping birds and rugged rocks, it wasn’t always easy to do, but Judith Foster smiles as she leads her group on a three-mile walk through the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton. The walks are part of her HERO group.

    JUDITH FOSTER, HERO Walks Creator: Healing, empathy, redemption, oasis.

    TINA MARTIN: Foster started the walks as a way to heal from her own tragedy.

    JUDITH FOSTER: About 8:00 in the morning or so, I got home from work, and that was the news I got home to, that my son had been murdered.

    TINA MARTIN: Four years ago, Judith’s youngest child, Paul, a senior at a college in North Carolina, was shot and killed at a nightclub, just few weeks before he was set to graduate with a degree in computer science.

    Paul’s murder is still under investigation. But during her time of loss and grief, Judith says she found solace in walking the Blue Hills.

    JUDITH FOSTER: He had a love of nature, and I thought by being doing this, being close to nature, I would be close to him.

    TINA MARTIN: So, every Saturday, she invites people to walk with her.

    BAKARI JOHNSON, Boston Resident: We have to do something to break the cycle, break the mold. Nobody would think is something that would be fun at the end of the day. You think nature walk, you are thinking, oh, come on, this is some tree hugger stuff. But, at the end of the day, anybody can do it and anybody can enjoy it.

    TINA MARTIN: Twenty-five-year-old Bakari Johnson uses the walks to get away from the noise of the city. He hopes to keep walking all summer to stay away from trouble.

    BAKARI JOHNSON: It is a worry, but, personally, I feel like I have been not just lucky so far. I feel like part of the reason I’m still here is because I have also been smart.

    JUDITH FOSTER: And don’t be afraid to touch the trees, the leaves.

    PASTOR MARK SCOTT, Co-Chair, Boston Youth Violence Reduction Task Force: It’s really simple, right? What we’re doing is taking a walk in nature, which is a tremendous resource that is available to us. We’re doing it with friends.

    TINA MARTIN: Pastor Mark Scott, co-chair of the Boston Youth Violence Reduction Task Force, hopes, as it gets hotter and violence spikes, young people will choose to take a few steps to keep the peace.

    PASTOR MARK SCOTT: We’re constantly being hit and bombarded by this kind of violence, and we have to react to it every time. But there are things that we can do, traditions that we can create, like coming out on 12:00 noon a Saturday to take a walk in the woods that are right next to your city.

    TINA MARTIN: The HERO group gets bigger as the weeks go by. The walks are free and open to anyone. Judith believes her son Paul would approve.

    JUDITH FOSTER: He’s smiling. He’s loving it. I find strength in knowing that I’m doing something that he loved to do.

    TINA MARTIN: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Tina Martin in Milton, Massachusetts.

    The post This mom leads young people on walks in the woods to prevent and heal from tragedy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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