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

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: a look at how artists captured Detroit’s turbulent history in the civil rights era.

    This week marks the 50th anniversary of major civil unrest in the Motor City, and a unique series of exhibitions are chronicling that moment.

    Jeffrey Brown went to Michigan to see them.

    JEFFREY BROWN: A fiery red sky, people trapped in a burning city, charred remains from the 1967 Detroit riots, a painting by Yvonne Parks Catchings in an exhibition titled Say It Loud: Art, History, Rebellion, at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History.

    Striking images of confrontation, and consequences, in works by national and local artists from the 1960s on.

    Curator Patrina Chatman:

    PATRINA CHATMAN, Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History: You see the emotions of the artists, describing history from their perspective. I see the politics. I see the social concerns that people had in it. I see their pain.

    I see and I feel their pain, and I think other people will feel it as well.

    JEFFREY BROWN: July, 1967, five days of violence, fear and destruction in a major American city that would leave 43 dead, some 7,200 arrested, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed.

    Fifty years later, some of the city’s leading cultural institutions are asking questions: Was it a riot? A rebellion? Even a revolution?

    And using art to look back and ahead. At the Detroit Historical Museum, which, for the record, has been a funder of the NewsHour and which spearheaded the citywide effort, old TVs play news footage.

    A replica of a National Guard tank has been turned into an audiovisual experience, with oral histories told by Detroiters.

    The Detroit Institute of Art weighs in with an exhibition titled Art of Rebellion: Black Art of the Civil Rights Movement with works by individuals, including leading figures such as Romare Bearden and Sam Gilliam, and so-called collectives formed in the 1960s and after by artists seeking a greater voice in society.

    VALERIE MERCER, The Detroit Institute of Arts: The civil rights movement and the black power movement emboldened a lot of the African-American artists.

    Most of the mainstream art museums didn’t provide many opportunities to African-American artists during the ’60s and ’70s. They were also very uncomfortable dealing with racial, social and political issues, so they avoided that work. Now things are changing, fortunately.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Several local artists attended the opening, including Allie McGhee, who told me of his encounters with the National Guard 50 years ago.

    ALLIE MCGHEE, Artist: I had people drive up because I was out past curfew, and have a young man who’s like 17 or 18 scared to death, stick a bayonet in your ribcage. You don’t forget stuff like this.

    JEFFREY BROWN: For this exhibition, McGhee contributed a painting from 1968 titled Black Attack, and a later abstract work titled Apartheid.

    Since then, his art has gone well beyond such subjects. It just took him a while to get past what he’d witnessed.

    ALLIE MCGHEE: It wasn’t something you could walk away from. And for me, it sort of like was a dominant subject matter for maybe 15 or 20 years.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You couldn’t get it out of your head or your mind or your work?

    ALLIE MCGHEE: No, you can’t. Yes, the subtleties of it kept recurring. I had to work that out of my painting experience.

    It’s not good to be angry. It lowers the intellectual level. You don’t accomplish a lot. You’re blinded by it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Rita Dickerson’s painting commemorates the terror and killings of three black men at the Algiers Hotel, one of the most harrowing episodes of those July days.

    But she also adds the names of young black men and women killed in police shootings more recently. Dickerson grew up on Detroit’s East Side.

    RITA DICKERSON, Artist: We had two bakeries. We had a hardware store, two pharmacies. Everything was there within one block, and we could walk every place.

    And during the riot, all that burned down. And 50 years later, it has not returned. It’s still desolate. And it breaks my heart, breaks my heart.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In so many of Detroit’s neighborhoods, on so many blocks, the abandoned homes and empty lots remain.

    But there are signs of life in Detroit today. The youngest artist in the exhibition, 29-year-old Mario Moore, is literally a product of the museum. His parents met here.

    MARIO MOORE, Artist: So, it’s my grandmother holding images of her living sons, right, and the sense of protection, like, these are mine, you can’t have them, right?

    JEFFREY BROWN: His grandmother, Helen Moore, is a longtime Detroit activist, and the subject of Mario’s work here. It addresses violence and how it’s portrayed.

    MARIO MOORE: As soon as you turn on the news, what tends to happen is they show the mourning black mother, right, the mother that’s crying about the recent death of her son, her husband, her daughter.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That’s the narrative, the story.

    MARIO MOORE: That’s the narrative you get. And I feel like it was something that began out of a way to kind of find compassion for the other, right?

    But once that gets used over and over and over and over again, it loses its value. Nobody really cares anymore. And, for me, the women in my family have a very different perspective. I feel like they’re very protective, they’re very powerful.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Different perspectives on Detroit’s past and future, through exhibitions around the city over the coming months.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jeffrey Brown in Detroit.

    The post Artists reflect pain and consequences of Detroit riots appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s been another head-turning week in Washington, from the Republican failure on health care, to the president’s surprising statement on transgender military members, and a flurry of profanity from the new White House communications director and then, to cap it off, today’s announcement from Mr. Trump that he is changing his chief of staff.

    Here to help make sense of it all, Shields and Brooks. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    So, I thought we had a lot of things to talk about, David, before about an hour ago, when we learned that the president was changing his chief of staff.

    Is this — I guess we knew that this might happen. Reince Priebus has been in trouble with this president, we think, for a while, but what do you think?

    DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Well, he was never given the chance to do the job.

    Every other chief of staff we have ever seen sort of controls the schedule. They control the tempo in the White House. They’re the alter ego of the president. They are given some clear sign of respect that they speak for the president.

    And Priebus never had that. And so he was wounded and stabbed before Scaramucci came along. He was stabbed like a pinata. And so he was sort of a pathetic figure hanging out there. And so this doesn’t come as a total surprise, except for maybe the timing.

    As for General Kelly taking the job, I sort of question his sanity there. He’s been a loyalist, but I really — with all due respect to the Marine Corps, I don’t see how someone who’s been trained in pretty orderly chain of command is going to survive this mess.

    If he can control the schedule, it will be one thing. I just don’t think that’s going to happen, given all the independent power figures all around him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you make of it, Priebus out and Kelly in?

    MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: Judy, I am continually amazed that it’s not simply a matter of human decency or empathy when your boss is firing anybody to make sure that that person leaves and has a soft landing, that they can leave with their self-respect, that they can leave with someplace to go to, with a plausible explanation to their family and friends that they weren’t humiliated, abused and derided.

    This president treats staff and others like a used sickness bag on a bad airplane flight. There’s just absolutely no sense of respect or decency shown, so you humiliate somebody.

    And for those who are left, there is just a sense of, could I be next? It certainly doesn’t inspire loyalty.

    As far as Kelly is concerned, General Kelly is a four-star general. But I think David put his finger on it. He had a very distinguished and honorable military career. But he grew up in a military structure. He thrived up in a military structure.

    As a chief of staff at the White House, this is a freelancing operation. There’s no chain of command. There are all sorts of people who go in and see the president any time, who are not accountable to you or responsible.

    And least of all, you have a president who will even — won’t abide by any sense of a chain of command or structure. And I don’t know that General Kelly has any particular political gifts or knowledge of the legislative process or dealings with the press.

    So I’m not — I know that the president admires him and the job he’s done at Homeland Security and his career, but I don’t see the fit.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we should say that Reince Priebus, just in the last few minutes, David, put out a statement saying it’s been one of the greatest honors of his life to serve this president.

    I guess that’s what one expects, maybe.

    DAVID BROOKS: Gracious. I’m not sure he would pass a lie-detector test.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID BROOKS: But one of the things that’s happening here is that the president is moving away from the Republican Party.

    Priebus was a link to the Republican Party. The congressional Republicans were — had some sort of relationship. Jeff Sessions was a key to the link between congressional Republicans and Donald Trump, and he’s been under assault in the most humiliating way imaginable.

    And so you’re beginning to see an administration — I don’t know what party they’re joining, maybe the Bannon party, but it’s not the Republican Party. And if you want to pass legislation, you probably need your allies on Capitol Hill. If you want to survive investigative committees, you probably want some friends in your party. And this administration seems to be moving the other direction.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In fact, you look at the White House, and Vice President Mike Pence, Mark, may be the only person prominent in the White House circle who has any kind of Washington experience.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes, Judy.

    And presidents thrive, ideally, when they’re both loved and feared politically. And Donald Trump is neither. Nobody loves him on Capitol Hill. And he shows loyalty is a one-way street. He’s not somebody who has personal relationships of any standing.

    And the loyalty or disloyalty that he shows to his people, including Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, who was just humiliated, someone who was with him early and strong, at a time when no other senator stood up for him, and remained there through all the “Access Hollywood” and the how to molest and harass and sexually bar the women tapes and so forth.

    So, there isn’t that, Judy. That doesn’t exist. And David’s absolutely right. When you get in trouble, you have got to have people who, A, like you, believe in you and are willing to go to some political cost for you.

    And we saw that on the health care. I mean, Donald Trump had about as much influence on health care as I had on the National League pennant race.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, which leads us to another — I mean, David, you said they have had a struggle anything passed, getting legislation passed. This was a flame-out for them.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, this was a bigger thing than Donald Trump, though.

    It was only one bill that lost. It was four bills that lost. And it wasn’t only a six-months effort. It was a seven-year effort.

    MARK SHIELDS: I agree.

    DAVID BROOKS: And you could say you could go back to Newt Gingrich.

    Think of all the ways the Republicans have tried to trim entitlements like Medicaid or cut government. Name a signal victory. There’s not a victory. They haven’t been able to trim one agency, cut back one entitlement. They failed every single time.

    And that suggests isn’t an electoral failure. It’s not a failure of whether Mitch McConnell had the right strategy or not, though that was lamentable. It’s a failure of trying to take things away from people.

    People are under assault from technology. They’re under assault from a breakdown in social fabric, breakdown in families. They have got wage stagnations. They just don’t want a party to come in and say, we’re going to take more away from you.

    And so Republicans have to wrap their minds around the fact that the American people basically decided that health care is a right, and they figure, we should get health care. And our fellow countrymen should get health care.

    It doesn’t mean you have to do it the way the Democrats want to do it with single-payer or whatever. You can do it with market mechanisms. But you have basically got to wrap your mind around universal coverage.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see what happened here, Mark? And where do you see it going on health care?

    MARK SHIELDS: Judy, the yapping dog, which was the Republican Party, after chasing the bus for seven years, caught it and had no idea what to do with the bus.

    All you needed is that final vote that Lisa described so well, and that is the final argument, after seven years, after winning three national elections where that is your organizing issue, we’re going to repeal Obamacare, came down to a single promise and pledge to your fellow Republicans from the leadership, and that is, what you are voting for, we promise will not become law.

    I mean, if you can imagine anything, I mean, that just said it all. I mean, it was a terrible performance. The House voted on something without even a congressional budget scoring of it. The Senate voted on something. They didn’t even have a bill when they brought it to the floor. There was no legislation.

    So, I mean, it was horrendous. It was disappointing. There were no ideas. There was no will. There was no imagination. And there was certainly no courage.

    I don’t blame Donald Trump, but what was Donald Trump saying? Donald Trump was saying he’s disappointed in the attorney general because he wasn’t loyal to him. That was his contribution to the debate on health care as it came to a vote in the Senate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think the prospects are, David, that they are going to be able to work with the Democrats, or is that just something people are saying that’s never really Going to happen?

    DAVID BROOKS: I think that there is a potential there.

    If the Republicans get to the point we’re going to expand coverage, let’s talk about how do it, I think you could do some pretty market-friendly reforms. President Bush did it with the prescription drug bill a number of years ago. But they’re a long way from that right now.

    MARK SHIELDS: John McCain does deserve, in my judgment, a shout-out.

    John McCain’s vote, flying back, kept it alive, kept the debate alive, allowing the motion to proceed. And John McCain applied the — he gave the speech once he had the whole audience there of senators, and he told them what they had done wrong, that they all stood accused, that their cheap partisanship had replaced any kind of sense of legislating.

    And I really do think that his vote — we found out that the testosterone level among Republicans was limited essentially to two members whose names were Lisa and Susan.

    (LAUGHTER)

    MARK SHIELDS: And John McCain joined that want trio and showed, I thought, real — distinct political courage, and for the right reasons.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And some of the Republican men in the House of Representatives went after those women, as a matter of fact.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes, Blake Farenthold, a courageous Aaron Burr would-be.

    (CROSSTALK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Aaron Burr.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It does raise the question. People are watching this, David, and they have to be asking, is anything going to get done in our nation’s capital, with the White House in some measure of chaos? Yes, there have been some changes, but where’s the — you know, what are people to look forward to now?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I don’t think much is going to get done.

    I don’t think they’re going to do tax reform. Tax reform is super hard. It’s potentially as hard or harder than health care reform. And it seems very unlikely that that is going to get done.

    And what hasn’t happened is, you don’t have people waking up thinking, how creatively can I come up with some piece of legislation that will do somebody some good?

    When I started covering Congress in the 1980s, there were a bunch of entrepreneurs. Jack Kemp was there. Bill Bradley would have something on the gold standard. There was a guy named Jim Courter who always had defense reform ideas.

    And so you had start-ups in the back rows of the House. And then they would finagle their way through the committees. Now you have very few entrepreneurs. You have few people thinking creatively. I rarely get e-mail. I rarely calls. There’s a guy named Ro Khanna from San Francisco or from Palo Alto who is a Democrat who thinks this way.

    But there is not as much as entrepreneurship. And the main cause is because the leadership of the body has taken control and destroyed creativity throughout the ranks. And that’s a fault of both Nancy Pelosi probably and Mitch McConnell, who just centralized everything.

    And so the committee system is broken and the start-ups are broken.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And the White House is having its own share of problems.

    We have alluded to this, Mark, a lot of attention this week about this profanity-laced phone conversation that the new White House communications director — he hasn’t actually taken the job yet, but he’s been named by the president — had with a New Yorker reporter.

    It seems that everywhere we look, there is conflict, there is screaming, there is discord. You know, where do we see hope and something positive?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, obviously not in Shields and Brooks.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m giving you a chance.

    (CROSSTALK)

    MARK SHIELDS: “Mass For Shut-Ins” is on, on Sunday at 9:00, if people want to hear a good sermon.

    No, I would say this, Judy, that Anthony Scaramucci is Donald Trump. Every White House staff to some degree inevitably becomes a mirror reflection of the candidate, the president. He is it.

    And what he did, Donald Trump approved of, the abusing of the chief of staff, the abusing, the denigration of other leading members of the White House staff.

    I mean, and did Donald Trump disapprove? If you had a 14-year-old daughter volunteering on the Hill or a 14-year-old boy, I don’t care, and this is the kind of language you get? This is blood-curdling. It’s offensive and it’s obscene.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You get to defend him, David.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, it is offensable.

    I’m from New York City. Mark’s from Boston. And on behalf of eight million New Yorkers, I want to apologize for our language. Scaramucci and Trump, I just want to say that, even though they’re from Queens and Long Island, I’m pretty sure they’re Yankee fans. They’re not Mets fans.

    (LAUGHTER)

    DAVID BROOKS: We don’t talk that way.

    MARK SHIELDS: No, Mets fans.

    DAVID BROOKS: No, it’s — I agree. Blood-curdling would be the word.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I gave you both a chance to say something positive. You didn’t do it.

    MARK SHIELDS: You’re wonderful, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Maybe we will let you come back and try again next week.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Mark Shields, thank you both.

    The post Shields and Brooks on Reince Priebus’ exit, GOP health bill’s defeat appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The government of Russia announced today that the U.S. would need to drastically reduce the number of its officials working in Russia, and could no longer use two properties there.

    Hari Sreenivasan is in New York with more.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The move follows two American actions, both related to the Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    Last December, the Obama administration seized two Russian-owned compounds in the U.S., and expelled 35 Russian diplomats who the U.S. claimed were intelligence operatives.

    Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that included new sanctions on Russia for its election hacking. That bill now awaits the president’s signature or veto.

    With me now is special correspondent Nick Schifrin.

    Nick, in addition to what Judy just told us, what are the Russians demanding?

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes.

    By September the 1st, the U.S. has to reduce its staff inside of Russia to 455. That’s at the embassy in Moscow and three consulates around the country. And by Monday, they will lose access to a storage facility inside Moscow, as well as a country house that they generally use right outside of Moscow. And Russia vows to punish them even more if the U.S. responds.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is the State Department concerned? Do we have lots more people there?

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, this is a major escalation because of the numbers of people who are there.

    Former U.S. officials tell me that there are anywhere from 1,100 to 1,500 staff in Russia, so to bring that down to 455 could mean expelling hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of U.S. staff.

    That is on a magnitude much higher than the expelling of 35 Russians believed to be intelligence officers by President Obama last year. And so, clearly, today’s announcement is designed not just to affect U.S. ability to conduct intelligence in Russia, but the U.S. ability entirely, the U.S. government’s entire ability to conduct its operations in Russia.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Well, what are the Russians that you spoke to today telling you? Is this significant enough? Is this a turning point?

    NICK SCHIFRIN: It could be a turning point, because it does seem to signify that President Vladimir Putin has given up his hope that the relationship could get better.

    You know, the U.S. and Russia have high-level talks going on right now, and Russia certainly had been expecting some concessions out of that, but one Russian official told me today — quote — “We came to a point where there was no that hope those talks could yield any results.”

    And that lack of hope really pervades the entire Russian point of view right now. They hoped, perhaps expected, President Trump to improve the relationship. And other than some pro-Russian rhetoric, not much has changed.

    There are still country homes not returned to Russia. There are still sanctions, and, as you mentioned, that congressional bill. So, Russians have been delayed this response for seven months, hoping the relationship would get better. And it seems like their patience has run out.

    And, Hari, the U.S. would say, look, it was Russia that brought us to this point, both the election hacking and its actions in Ukraine. Russia says, we didn’t hack anything. And the statement today calls what the U.S. is doing a witch-hunt — quote — “The U.S. is using Russia’s alleged interference in its domestic affairs as an absolutely contrived excuse for its persevering and crude campaigns against Russia.”

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Finally, put this in perspective. You just did a long series on Russia. Where is the relationship between the two countries in the longer arc?

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Even during the Cold War, there was no occasion when either side kicked out hundreds of the other person’s staff.

    A lot of Russia watchers told me today that they think it’s about the early ’80s. It’s been that long since this relationship was that bad. That’s, of course, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

    Now, what brought the relationship better in the ’80s was a change eventually in Soviet leadership.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Yes.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: And President Putin is not going anywhere.

    And so the question is, how does the U.S. respond, not only to today, but also does President Trump sign that congressional bill increasing sanctions?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Nick Schifrin, many thanks.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Thank you.

    The post Why Moscow’s retaliation for U.S. sanctions is a major escalation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: North Korea launched its second intercontinental ballistic missile that flew higher and farther than its first attempts earlier this month. This missile stayed aloft for 45 minutes, before landing in the Sea of Japan, near the Western Japanese island of Hokkaido.

    SHINZO ABE, Prime Minister, Japan (through interpreter): This launch clearly shows that the threat to our security is real and severe. As long as North Korea continues these provocations, the U.S., South Korea, China and Russia and the whole international community must closely cooperate and apply additional pressure.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Pentagon confirms that the U.S. and South Korea together staged a joint-live fire military exercise in response. The North Korean missile was launched at a high angle. Some U.S. analysts say that the flight path, flattened out, means that it could reach the U.S. mainland.

    Washington has slapped more economic sanctions on Iran, for launching a rocket that can carry satellites. Tehran said yesterday it successfully fired the rocket into space. The U.S. says the same technology could be used in missiles that carry warheads. The new sanctions target six Iranian companies that are deemed central to Iran’s ballistic missile program.

    The prime minister of Pakistan is out of a job. Nawaz Sharif stepped down today, after the country’s highest court ordered him removed from office.

    Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News,has our report.

    JONATHAN MILLER: Three thousand armed police and paramilitary rangers ringed Pakistan’s Supreme Court as, in courtroom number one, a five-judge panel met to decide the fate of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, accused of accumulating wealth disproportionate to his income.

    Elected three times to the highest office, but yet to complete a five-year term, Sharif has been toppled in a coup, jailed, exiled, and once before ousted for corruption. Would history be repeated?

    Opposition glee signaled what was a unanimous guilty verdict, the prime minister deemed untruthful and dishonest, ordered to stand down and barred from holding office, as judges ordered a criminal investigation which could put him in jail.

    MAN: The team of the prime minister has committed a heinous crime by way of fraud and forgery of the documents.

    JONATHAN MILLER: The documents relate to posh flats in this block on Park Lane in London. Leaked from a legal firm in Panama, the Panama papers revealed that two of Sharif’s sons and his daughter concealed family ownership of these through a string of offshore companies.

    Nawaz Sharif was questioned in person by civilian and military investigators just last month. When he emerged, he said there was no stain of corruption on either him or his family, no embezzlement, no misappropriation of government funds.

    Tonight, he’s gone, amid calls for the U.K. authorities to seize the properties in question. Sharif must now nominate an interim successor to lead the country until elections in 10 months’ time. He will likely remain a potent force, now, though, from behind the scenes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That report from Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News.

    Israeli-Palestinian tensions eased today at a flash point around a Jerusalem mosque, one day after Israel removed new security devices. But, elsewhere, a Palestinian teenager was killed in clashes with Israeli troops at the Gaza border. Another Palestinian was shot and killed in the West Bank, after attacking Israeli soldiers with a knife.

    A British baby whose plight gained international attention died today, just short of his first birthday. Charlie Gard had a rare genetic disease that damaged his brain and hindered his ability to breathe. His parents had wanted to try an experimental treatment here in the U.S., but a British court ruled that it wouldn’t help, and it blocked the move.

    Back in this country, the U.S. House today approved $3.9 billion in emergency spending for veterans’ medical care. It is for a program allowing vets to seek private care at government expense. The effort began after a scandal over long wait times at VA hospitals. The bill now goes to the Senate.

    President Trump talked tough today about how police ought to treat criminal suspects. It happened during his speech in Suffolk County, New York, on Long Island about illegal immigration and violent crime. At one point, he criticized the police practice of shielding a suspect’s head as they’re taken away.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I said, please don’t be too nice.

    (LAUGHTER)

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Like, when you guys put someone in a car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand over — like, don’t hit your head and they have just killed somebody, don’t hit your head. I said, you can take the hand away, OK?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mr. Trump also pledged again to — quote — “destroy” the violent street gang MS-13.

    Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in El Salvador, where the gang controls entire towns. He said that he hopes his efforts will help mend relations with the president, who’s been verbally attacking him for days.

    Parts of North Carolina’s Outer Banks spent a second day in the dark, after construction workers accidentally cut the power supply. Cars lined up to take ferries off Ocracoke Island as officials ordered a mandatory evacuation of some 10,000 tourists. Full restoration of power could take days or even weeks.

    And on Wall Street, disappointing earnings from Amazon and other big firms kept stocks in check. The Dow Jones industrial average managed to gain 33 points to close at 21830. But the Nasdaq fell seven and the S&P 500 slipped three. For the week, the Dow gained 1 percent, the Nasdaq and the S&P lost a fraction of a percent.

    The post News Wrap: North Korean missile flies further, higher than last launch appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Senator John McCain (R-AZ) speaks with reporters after voting against the "skinny repeal" health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 28, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX3D8LS

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to the day’s other big story, and that is the collapse of Senate Republican efforts to pass a health care bill.

    A last-ditch effort for a partial repeal of Obamacare failed by a single vote early today, frustrating Republican leaders and the president.

    Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.

    LISA DESJARDINS: President Trump today showed no sign of backing down, despite the stunning Senate defeat.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They should have approved health care last night, but you can’t have everything. Boy, oh, boy. They have been working on that one for seven years. Can you believe that? The swamp.

    But we will get it done. We’re going get it done.

    LISA DESJARDINS: At an event for police officers in Ronkonkoma, New York, he was blunt.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You know, I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode, and then do it. I turned out to be right. Let Obamacare implode.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    LISA DESJARDINS: All this after the Senate’s overnight drama. Outside the Capitol stood a crowd of protesters. Inside, around 10:00 p.m. Last night, Republicans had just released their bill, and Democrats like Chris Murphy were irate that the vote on it was in just two hours.

    SEN. CHRIS MURPHY, D-Conn.: This is nuclear-grade bonkers, what is happening here tonight.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Hawaii Democrat Mazie Hirono, now being treated for kidney cancer, added a personal dimension.

    SEN. MAZIE HIRONO, D-Hawaii: I lost a sister to pneumonia when she was only 2 years old in Japan. She died at home, so I know how important health care is. What I don’t get is why every single senator doesn’t know that know that.

    LISA DESJARDINS: A frustrated Senator Mike Enzi, Republican of Wyoming, said Democrats offered only complaints.

    SEN. MICHAEL B. ENZI, R-Wyo.: And I started hearing, it’s not perfect. It’s not perfect. Well, where are the suggestions for making it as near perfect as possible?

    LISA DESJARDINS: And so, shortly after midnight, a first vote began, with Democrats somber and in their seats. On the opposite side, slowly arriving Republicans were more social.

    But something notable, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski walked over to Arizona’s John McCain, and he signaled a thumbs down. Murkowski, along with Susan Collins of Maine, were two expected no votes.

    Soon, Vice President Mike Pence stepped over, shook hands and then spent a long 20 minutes apparently trying to win McCain’s vote. Minutes later, another signal. McCain walked over to Democrats. A large group surrounded him. Nearby, GOP Leader Mitch McConnell walked the other way, just as McCain was embraced by California’s Dianne Feinstein.

    The final vote resembled a great sporting event, Democrats on their feet as McCain walked up to vote. Some, like Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren, leaned to watch him. And he signaled his vote with a simple thumbs down.

    (APPLAUSE)

    LISA DESJARDINS: Democrats gasped and clapped, before their leader waved them off and stopped the applause.

    Outside, protesters did not hold back. It all marked a seismic shift in momentum and emotions.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky., Majority Leader: This is, you know, clearly a disappointing moment.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Republican Leader McConnell thanked his side and slammed Democrats.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: Now, I imagine many of our colleagues on the other side are celebrating. I think the American people are going to regret that we couldn’t find a better way forward. And, as I said, we look forward to our colleagues on the other side suggesting what they have in mind.

    LISA DESJARDINS: As the night turned to day, bipartisan calls grew louder. Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said his party is ready.

    SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., Minority Leader: I hope we can work together to make the system better in a bipartisan way. And I’m optimistic that that can happen. Nobody has said Obamacare is perfect. Nobody has said our health care system doesn’t need fixing.

    LISA DESJARDINS: So, where does that begin? Likely with a return to the traditional committee process.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Lisa joins me now for more, along with Sarah Kliff. She’s a senior policy correspondent for the Web site Vox, and she covers health care.

    And you were with us last night. And we wanted to have you both with us again tonight.

    So, Lisa, what a lot of drama. You were up most of the night covering that. Where do things stand? Where do they go from here?

    LISA DESJARDINS: It seems like the idea is that perhaps they can get help from the Health Committee, which is the Health, Labor and Pensions Committee in the Senate.

    One reason for that, Judy, not just because its covers health care, but because of its leaders. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is the Republican chairman, and the ranking Democrat is Patty Murray, both of them senior members of their party who thought are of very highly and who have done bipartisan deals before.

    Senator Alexander is planning hearings. And they’re hoping that something comes of this in the way of legislation. Also, Judy, there were conversations on and off the floor last night. Senator Perdue told me already Republicans and Democrats speaking with each other.

    But they all have one problem still. Unclear what could pass. It seemed like last night’s vote was very close, but the truth is, Judy, is that McCain was expressing something a lot of Republicans felt. This bill was far short of a number of people who really wanted it to become law.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what are the roadblocks? Is it figuring out the policy? Because I have had people say to me, well, if you could just put folks in a room and not worry about politics, you could get it done.

    But you’re suggesting it’s not that simple.

    LISA DESJARDINS: It’s complicated because Republicans have tried to put a lot of together different ideas together here.

    For one, Planned Parenthood, defunding Planned Parenthood has been part of that. That’s something that Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski haven’t liked.

    There is an idea that, if they pared it down and focused on fixing the Affordable Care Act, that perhaps, perhaps they can come up with some ideas they share. But this is just less than 24 hours after things fell apart. But that is the hope right now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk about what’s at stake as they figure this out, Sarah Kliff, because, until there is new legislation, the Affordable Care Act is in effect.

    It’s out there. What’s going to happen to it?

    SARAH KLIFF, Vox: That is a fantastic question, and you’re right. There are millions of people who get coverage through the Affordable Care Act, particularly through the marketplaces. These are people who buy private insurance, often with tax subsidies,.

    And we are expecting some pretty significant premium increases unless we have some kind of changes in policy from the Trump administration. They have done some things to increase uncertainty. And when insurance companies sense uncertainty, they react by raising prices. And that’s what we’re seeing in the marketplaces right now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What are insurance companies — I know it’s only been not even 24 hours since this happened, but what’s your understanding, from having reported on this for a long time, that insurance companies need to have?

    What are they looking for as Congress works its way through at this point?

    SARAH KLIFF: They’re going to be looking for two things. They want to know that the individual mandate, the requirement to carry health insurance, that will be enforced by the Trump administration.

    Even though the Trump administration has been negative on that provision, they want to know that they will tell people, if you don’t buy insurance, there is a fine because they think that gets healthy people to sign up for coverage.

    They also want a guarantee from President Trump that he will continue paying threat cost-sharing reduction subsidies. It’s this $8 million — or $8 billion — excuse me — fund that helps offset co-pays for low-income Americans. They don’t know if they’re going to get that money. And they want a guarantee on that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, meantime, Lisa, what the president has said — in fact, he said it — was tweeting this morning and last night — let Obamacare implode, which sounds like he’s not going to be putting any money out there.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Right, nor does it sound like he necessarily wants to enforce the individual or employer mandates.

    So that’s a real question for Congress now. Does Congress take action to force, for example, those cost-sharing reductions, that $8 billion, I think it’s $10 billion next year? Does Congress fund that on its own?

    There are many Republicans would like to do that, but they know that anything right now in Congress like that is a heavy lift, but it is in the conversation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there — Sarah, as you talk to folks out there in the health care world, whether it’s insurance companies, hospitals, and the others, are they coming up with another approach at all this? Are they standing back with their fingers crossed? How do they look at this right now?

    SARAH KLIFF: The insurance companies in particular have been quite vocal, really less vocal in the repeal fight, and much more vocal on stabilization.

    They keep talking about the cost-sharing reduction subsidies, about the individual mandate. Even just today, after we saw repeal fail, we saw this flurry of letters from insurance companies saying, we need stabilization right now. And we are getting close to the deadline.

    Insurance companies have to decide in about September if they’re going to sell on healthcare.gov or not. And these are assurances they are asking before they sign those contract letters.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, if they’re on that kind of timeline, Lisa, it takes Congress a while to get things done. They did have at least some recess coming in August. What does the timeline look like there and what about House members? They have had an even more conservative position on this than in the Senate.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The Senate is in session two more weeks. That’s part of the August recess that they rolled back.

    So, I don’t expect major action, but perhaps conversations can tart happening that give us an idea of whether something tangible is possible in September.

    As for the House, Speaker Ryan put out a statement saying he was disappointed and frustrated. But I think the real feelings of House members were expressed better by Diane Black of the Budget Committee, who lashed out at the Senate, said it was a slap in the face of what the House had done.

    And it seems like that is going to be a real problem in the two chambers trusting each other in the future. There is some hope that they could do something by September, but I’m not sure what that’s based on, to be honest.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, I think people — a lot of people, it seems to me, Sarah, are standing back saying, can the two parties work together now, when clearly the Republicans, acting on their own, it didn’t happen?

    SARAH KLIFF: And lot of it, honestly, rests with the Trump administration at this point. They are creating a lot of the uncertainty.

    And it’s been interesting to watch their Health and Human Services Department, which has kind of acted as an attack shop on the Affordable Care Act. They send press releases every time an insurance company quits the marketplace or raises its rates and they send these and say, look, this is why we need repeal.

    I am watching to see if they change their tactics now that the repeal bill seems to be dead and say, yes, we won’t repeal, but, in the meantime, we kind of — we run healthcare.gov right now, and we want to make it work as well as we can.

    We don’t know if we’re going to see that shift. And if we do, it would really be a 180 from how they have treated the Affordable Care Act so far.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So much of the ball is in the administration’s court, the Trump administration’s court, as we wait to see what Congress does.

    Thank you both, an extraordinary story to follow.

    Sarah Kliff, our own Lisa Desjardins, thank you.

    The post The GOP repeal failed. What happens to Obamacare now? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Reince Priebus is out as White House chief of staff tonight, after just six months on the job. President Trump announced in a tweet late today that John Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, will take his place.

    The president had more to say after returning from a day trip to New York, a trip that Priebus was on.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Reince is a good man. John Kelly will do a fantastic job. General Kelly has been a star, done an incredible job thus far, respected by everybody, a great, great American. Reince Priebus, a good man. Thank you very much.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And to help unpack what led to this change at the top, I’m joined now by Robert Costa, reporter for The Washington Post and moderator of Washington Week here on PBS.

    Welcome, Robert.

    And as I go to you, I’m going to share with everybody just briefly what the president’s tweets were.

    He tweeted — this was late this afternoon — he said: “I am pleased to inform you that I just named General Secretary John F. Kelly as White House chief of staff. He’s a great American and great leader. He said: “John has also done a spectacular job at Homeland Security. He’s been a true star of my administration.”

    And finally, he said: “I would like to thank Reince Priebus for his service and dedication to this country. We accomplished a lot together and I’m proud of him!”

    But I guess it didn’t work out.

    ROBERT COSTA, Washington Week: It was a sudden change, Judy, but it was also a change that was in the works for months.

    The president brought on Reince Priebus because he saw him as a whisperer to House speaker, Paul Ryan, a close friend of Priebus from Wisconsin and he thought Priebus could help get his legislative agenda through.

    But as that agenda stalled on health care and other fronts, he began to muse in recent months with friends about perhaps making a change at the top of the White House. Kelly has been at the forefront of his mind because he’s not a dramatic future and he has executed for the president on immigration policy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There have been so many ups and downs, as you know very well, because you have been covering it every day, for this White House.

    How did the president see Reince Priebus as connected to that or not? Did he blame him for what’s been going on?

    ROBERT COSTA: He thought Priebus, because he had run the Republican National Committee, could be a stabilizing force.

    But Priebus as RNC chairman was always a low-key presence. He wasn’t who was known for managing a large organization in a military-style fashion. The president wanted that kind of person to come in.

    And it’s important to note that Kelly has a strong relationship with Jared Kushner, the senior adviser, and actually Steve Bannon, the chief strategist. And they represent the two poles in this warring White House.

    So there is an expectation now from my sources that Kelly can come in and try to be a calming force.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You mentioned the two poles, but we also had the announcement the other day from the president he is bringing in a new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, who has been in a very visible war. And the language that he used in that conversation with a “New Yorker” magazine reporter was making all kind of news headlines yesterday.

    How does that fit into all this?

    ROBERT COSTA: No, it’s a smart observation, because it does seem incongruent to have this swashbuckling New Yorker in Anthony Scaramucci now working alongside General Kelly, who is known for being a very precise man.

    But it really reflects how the president is trying to turn to his loyalists from New York, as well as to military figures as he tries to right the ship. He knows his health care legislation is going nowhere right now on Capitol Hill. He’s trying to recover his presidency, turning to two different types, the New Yorkers and the military.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, does this look to you, Robert, like this is a team that can work smoothly together, that can get this White House back on some semblance of a normal track?

    ROBERT COSTA: Well, General Kelly has said publicly in the past that he would like to maybe try to monitor the president’s calls, that he thinks there could be more organization inside of the West Wing.

    It’s going to be interesting to see if he can really try to contain the Oval Office. This is an Oval Office that’s known for having a lot of entryway, people coming in and offering their advice, often unsolicited, to the president. If Kelly can get ahold of that in a way Priebus never did, maybe he can turn it around.

    But he also has to navigate all the different circles around President Trump. He is someone who is known not just for having a straight chain of command. He talks to a lot of people all the time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of which, what one hears is that this is a president who really likes to be his own chief of staff.

    ROBERT COSTA: Indeed.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: He likes — he’s a detail person. He wants to know what everybody is doing, how they’re doing it.

    How is likely to fit with somebody like General Kelly?

    ROBERT COSTA: General Kelly doesn’t have a deep personal relationship with President Trump. Will he stop the president from tweeting? That’s what all my sources want to know. Can he actually stop the president from, as you say, being his own chief of staff, being his own spokesman?

    For now, it seems like Scaramucci and others are channeling the president in their public presentation, not trying to hold him back.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The other thing, Robert, I have to raise are the so-called — what the White House and the president like to call the leaks which they say are coming from a lot of people in the White House and the administration that shouldn’t be, but then the stories one also hears that not only is the president talking to the press, but people at the highest levels in the White House.

    How is all that likely to change or not as a result of this?

    ROBERT COSTA: It’s a very messy situation, because the president is furious behind the scenes. He’s telling his aides that they need to stop the leaks, but often these leaks are coming from some of his own White House officials.

    And there’s a big difference between intelligence community leaks and leaks about palace intrigue inside of the West Wing. But a lot of the president’s aides are just trying to reflect his own unhappiness about a White House he thinks that is talking too much.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it is — as you and I were just saying, it’s one more tumultuous day in what’s been nonstop tumult.

    ROBERT COSTA: And everyone was thinking maybe Attorney General Sessions would be the person to go at the end of this week, after all of his struggles with President Trump, but it was Priebus.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we don’t know what is going to happen to the attorney general at this point.

    ROBERT COSTA: We do not.

    Robert Costa, thanks. And you’re going to have much more on “Washington Week” on all these PBS stations. Thank you.

    ROBERT COSTA: Thank you.

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    Here’s a look at the shortest-serving chiefs of staff since World War II. (Those marked by an asterisk were serving in an interim capacity or left the role as their president left office.)

    Reince Priebus became one of the shortest-serving chiefs of staff Friday when President Donald Trump tweeted he would replace Priebus with John Kelly, Trump’s secretary of Homeland Security and a retired Marine four-star general.

    Priebus lasted 189 days on the job, the fewest of any chiefs of staff who were not leaving the office with their president or serving in an interim role.

    Priebus lasted 189 days on the job, the fewest of any chiefs of staff who were not leaving the office with their president or serving in an interim role. (It’s even fewer if, as he told several reporters Friday, he actually resigned privately the day before).

    And Kelly, in taking Priebus’ job, becomes the shortest-serving secretary of Homeland Security.

    Priebus’ departure was something White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci threatened in interviews with the New Yorker and CNN on Thursday.

    “They’ll all be fired by me,” Scaramucci told the New Yorker. “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.”

    READ MORE: Scaramucci, with vulgar language, signals internal White House fight

    The chief of staff role formally began under President Harry Truman, whose chief, John Steelman, served the duration of his presidency.

    Before being tapped by Trump for chief of staff, Priebus was the longest-serving chair of the Republican National Committee, serving three consecutive terms while Democrat Barack Obama was in the White House.

    Priebus was tapped by Trump because he was seen as a “whisperer” to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Washington Post reporter and Washington Week moderator Bob Costa told PBS Newshour’s Judy Woodruff on Friday — something the president likely hoped would help him deliver on campaign promises to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The Senate handed Republicans, and Trump, a defeat early Friday when it failed to advance a skinny repeal of that legislation.

    Pete Rouse, who served as an interim chief of staff under President Barack Obama, has the shortest term at 104 days. James Baker served 150 days before leaving office with President George H. W. Bush.

    Obama had five chiefs of staff during his eight years in office, starting with Rahm Emanuel and ending with Denis McDonough, who served for the entirety of Obama’s second term. Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan each had four chiefs of staff; George H.W. Bush had three.

    The post Here’s where Reince Priebus falls on the list of shortest-serving chiefs of staff appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attends a news conference following party policy lunch meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S.

    Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attends a news conference following party policy lunch meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on July 11, 2017. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The resounding Senate crash of the seven-year Republican drive to scrap the Obama health care law has led to finger-pointing but also has left the party with wounded leaders and no evident way ahead on an issue that won’t go away.

    In an astonishing cliff-hanger, the GOP-run Senate voted 51-49 on Friday to reject Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s last ditch attempt to sustain their drive to dismantle President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul with a starkly trimmed-down bill.

    The vote, which concluded shortly before 2 a.m. EDT, was a blistering defeat for President Donald Trump and McConnell, R-Ky.

    “They should have approved health care last night,” Trump said Friday during a speech in Brentwood, New York. “But you can’t have everything,” he added, seemingly shrugging off one of his biggest legislative setbacks.

    Trump reiterated his threat to “let Obamacare implode,” an outcome he could hasten by steps such as halting federal payments to help insurers reduce out-of-pocket costs for lower-earning consumers.

    Senate Democrats were joined in opposition by three Republicans — Maine’s Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Arizona’s John McCain. The 80-year-old McCain, just diagnosed with brain cancer, had returned to the Capitol three days earlier to provide a vote that temporarily kept the measure alive, only to deliver the coup de grace Friday.

    “Republicans in the Senate will NEVER win if they don’t go to a 51 vote majority NOW. They look like fools and are just wasting time,” Trump tweeted Saturday. He said the “Republican Senate must get rid of 60 vote NOW! It is killing the R Party.” But on the crucial vote, a simple majority of 51 votes, including a tie-breaker by Vice President Mike Pence, was all that was needed.

    [Watch Video]

    “Hello, he only needed 51 in the health care bill and couldn’t do it,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., helpfully reminded reporters.

    Earlier in the week, Republican defections sank GOP efforts to scrap the 2010 law. One would have erased Obama’s statute and replaced it with a more constricted government health care role, and the other would have annulled the law and given Congress two years to replace it.

    The measure that fell Friday was narrower and included a repeal of Obama’s unpopular tax penalties on people who don’t buy policies and on employers who don’t offer coverage to workers. McConnell designed it as a legislative vehicle the Senate could approve and begin talks with the House on a compromise, final bill.

    But the week’s setbacks highlighted how, despite years of trying, GOP leaders haven’t resolved internal battles between conservatives seeking to erase Obama’s law and moderates leery of tossing millions of voters off of coverage.

    “It’s time to move on,” McConnell said after the defeat.

    Friday morning, House leaders turned to singer Gordon Lightfoot to point fingers. They opened a House GOP meeting by playing “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” a ballad about the 1975 sinking of a freighter in Lake Superior. Lawmakers said leaders assured them it was meant as a reference to the Senate’s flop.

    The House approved its health care measure in May, after its own tribulations.

    In a statement, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., pointedly said “the House delivered a bill.”

    He added, “I encourage the Senate to continue working toward a real solution that keeps our promise.”

    WATCH NEXT: Lankford: Obamacare repeal vote is not the final step on health care reform

    Conservative Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., running for a Senate seat, faulted McConnell for not crafting a plan that could pass. He said if McConnell abandons the health care drive, “he should resign from leadership.”

    One moderate Republican said Trump shared responsibility.

    “One of the failures was the president never laid out a plan or his core principles and never sold them to the American people,” said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa. “Outsourced the whole issue to Congress.”

    In statements Friday, McCain said the Senate bill didn’t lower costs or improve care and called the chamber’s inability to craft wide-ranging legislation “inexcusable.” He said Democrats and Republicans should write a bill together and “stop the political gamesmanship.”

    Lawmakers spoke of two possible but difficult routes forward.

    In one, balking GOP senators could be won over by new proposals from leaders or cave under pressure from angry constituents demanding they fulfill the party’s pledge to tear down Obama’s law. But both of those dynamics have been in play all year without producing results.

    In the other, there would be a limited bipartisan effort to address the insurance market’s short-term concerns. That would provide money to insurers to help them subsidize some customers and prevent companies from driving up premiums or abandoning regions.

    Schumer said he hoped the two parties could “work together to make the system better” by stabilizing marketplaces.

    But many conservatives oppose such payments and consider them insurance industry bailouts, raising questions about whether Congress could approve such a package.

    McConnell said it was time for Democrats “to tell us what they have in mind.” But saying he was backed by most Republicans, he added, “Bailing out insurance companies, with no thought of any kind of reform, is not something I want to be part of.”

    Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Stephen Ohlemacher contributed to this report.

    The post ‘Time to move on’ from health care, Senate GOP leader says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly speaks about immigration reform at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington

    Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly speaks about immigration reform at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on June 29, 2017. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly may need to find and strap on some armor.

    The battle-hardened, outspoken commander’s new mission is to steady the roiling Trump administration — and quiet the friendly fire — as White House chief of staff.

    “He has been a true star of my administration,” the president tweeted Friday, announcing that his current secretary of homeland security was in, and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was out. Trump called Kelly a “great leader” and “great American.” He called Priebus a “good man.”

    If loyalty is indeed what Trump wants, he gets it in Kelly. He also gets a veteran of three tours in Iraq and a survivor of a family tragedy.

    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 the initial orders until around the time that Trump signed it. Yet, just days after taking office, he 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 he indeed had been part of the decision-making process.

    Since joining the Marine Corps in 1970, Kelly carved out a reputation as a highly respected, but often outspoken commander who could roil debate and issue unpopular directives on issues ranging from women in combat to the treatment of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

    But the man chosen by Trump to lead his sniping administration holds a more somber distinction. Kelly is the highest-ranking officer to lose a child in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. Kelly’s son, Marine 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed in November 2010 in Afghanistan.

    [Watch Video]

    That status, as part of what the military calls a Gold Star family, puts him in the administration of a presidential candidate who verbally attacked a Gold Star family: the Khans, Muslim-American immigrants who lost a son in Iraq and had criticized Trump at the Democratic National Convention.

    Kelly retired this year, wrapping up a three-year post as head of U.S. Southern Command, which spanned some of the more fractious debate over the Obama administration’s ultimately failed attempt to close Guantanamo.

    Kelly was the fifth person to lead the Department of Homeland Security, which includes agencies that protect the president, respond to disasters, enforce immigration laws, protect the nation’s coastlines and secure air travel. His selection as secretary of the agency bolstered concerns about an increase in military influence in a Trump White House.

    In his final Pentagon news conference, Kelly spoke about the loss of his son — a topic he didn’t often discuss publicly.

    “To lose a child is — I can’t imagine anything worse than that. I used to think, when I’d go to all of my trips up to Bethesda, Walter Reed, I’ll go to the funerals with the secretaries of defense, that I could somehow imagine what it would be like,” Kelly said.

    But, he added, “when you lose one in combat, there’s a — in my opinion — there’s a pride that goes with it, that he didn’t have to be there doing what he was doing. He wanted to be there. He volunteered.”

    Kelly said he gets “occasional letters from Gold Star families who are asking, ‘Was it worth it?’ And I always go back with this: It doesn’t matter. That’s not our question to ask as parents. That young person thought it was worth it, and that’s the only opinion that counts.”

    The post Kelly is Trump’s ‘star’ secretary, now WH chief of staff appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    silent protest

    Courtesy of James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale University

    One hundred years ago this week, thousands of African American children, women and men flooded New York City’s Fifth Avenue, dressed all in white.

    That march on July 28, 1917, was a massive silent protest against racial violence. Outraged by several recently-publicized lynchings in Memphis, Tennessee, and Waco, Texas, along with attacks on black workers in East St. Louis, Illinois, the NAACP organized a march that some historians now call the beginning of the civil rights movement.

    We spoke to Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of “The Warmth of Other Suns,” about the Silent Parade’s impact and the importance of mass protests.

    silent parade

    Courtesy of James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale University

    What was the historical context of the Silent Parade?

    If we were to scroll back 100 years, we would see that the country was in the midst of a major watershed moment known as the Great Migration. African Americans were arriving in great numbers to the big cities in the North and were recruited by northern industries. And they were also anxious to flee the Jim Crow South, to free the caste system in which they were born.

    So that meant that thousands and thousands of African Americans were suddenly arriving to places like Chicago, East St. Louis, Detroit and New York. So when you look at the Silent March of beautifully-dressed African Americans, some carrying signs and walking wordlessly to the somber beat of the drum core, you recognize that they were expressing their citizenship, a citizenship that they had not been able to express before when they were restricted to the fields and the kitchens of the South. And so this was a display that has not been seen on this scale in the United States by people who had been held in a fixed place in the South.

    silent protest

    Courtesy of James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale University

    What were they protesting?

    This demonstration was protesting mounting violence that was occurring all over the country, but more specifically, in the places that the people were seeking refuge in the North. So earlier in the summer, in May, late May, and earlier in the month of July in 1917, there were attacks on African Americans in East St. Louis. It was a massacre of African Americans that arose because of the tensions that had been set in motion because of the response to African Americans during the Great Migration.

    So as the industrialists recruited African Americans from the South to the North, they frequently used them as strikebreakers. They pitted African Americans, the new arrivals from the South, against white workers who were already there. So early in July of 1917 there were massive attacks on African Americans. As many as 200 African Americans died, and thousands more were injured and left homeless in the North, in this new place that was supposed to be a place of refuge for their homes and dreams and families.

    How was the NAACP involved?

    When leadership in the NAACP, among them James Weldon Johnson, heard about what happened to African Americans in St. Louis, they organized to figure out a way to reach the American public. How can we put pressure on President Woodrow Wilson? How can we appeal to the conscious of our fellow Americans?

    They decided to have a demonstration that would take them down to Fifth Avenue, one of the most recognizable promenades in all of the country, and they would have women, children and men. They would have a drum core and signs that would say, “The first blood shed for American Independence was shed by a Negro” They were appealing to the country to recognize their citizenship, to recognize their humanity, and the pageantry and the discipline and the organization ultimately would become one of the first mass demonstrations against racial injustice. It would become much an inspiration for much of what we saw in the 20th century.

    silent protest

    Courtesy of James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale University

    Was the Silent Parade a success?

    Sadly, their appeal went unheeded. President Woodrow Wilson actually stepped up his actions to for further segregate the federal government. In fact, the racial tensions that the silent march was protesting against and that had sparked this silent march would only grow in the coming years. Little did they know when they were marching down 5th Avenue that things would only get worse and that in 1919, two summers from that date, there would be even further violence on a massive scale — to such degree it would be called the Red Summer of 1919.

    This is important today, because their appeal and their message went unheeded, and we as a country still deal with the aftereffects of our unresolved history, of unresolved tensions and misunderstandings and misreadings of how we came to be in this place and in our country. I think we can see a direct link, a direct connection between their appeal for racial justice, their appeal for a social awareness of the commonality of the American citizens. Because those appeals went unheeded, we are now seeing the continuing challenges of police overreach and violence against African Americans. And the cases have become so undeniable from Eric Garner to Philando Castile and the ongoing cases that we are still dealing with. If the message of the Silent March had truly been heard and truly been acted upon, perhaps we would be a very different country than the one we are now.

    Do you think that that mass protests really lead to political change?

    ”It takes everything to have the massive change that we did ultimately see in the 20th century.”

    I believe that massive change requires multilayer action. It’s not one thing, it’s not only political, it’s not only economic, it is not only social, it’s everything. It takes everything to have the massive change that we did ultimately see in the 20th century. But I think that our recent era has shown that if the entire country does not know or recognize the history — how and why change needed to occur, action needed to happen, or laws needed to be signed, such as the Civil Rights Act of ‘64, ‘65, ‘68 — then progress can be at risk. In other words, progress is only as strong as the will to maintain it. And the will to maintain it is dependent upon knowing why these things needed to happen.

    So how large of a role do protests really play in social justice movements?

    The imagery of people taking a stand in a mass demonstration sometimes becomes the only visual representation of what the larger movement might be. In other words, because we have the photographs of what the people are doing, it’s the visible manifestation of the resistance to injustice. It’s a reminder that there are many people who are willing to put themselves on the line, to march, to show the world that they are representing many thousands, if not millions, of people who agree with them.

    Courtesy of James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale University

    Courtesy of James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale University

    How does this mass protest compare to protests that are happening today?

    I think the analyses for our time would obviously be the Black Lives Matter movement. Many of those protests occurred on those same streets, on the same boulevard where protests were occurring in 1917. I ask people to recognize this watershed moment — African Americans marching down 5th Avenue. That was such a singular, early indication of what was coming down the line. How brave, courageous and innovative they were to do that. I think they need to be given their due when it comes to what they brought to that moment. When you look at what has happened in our current day, particularly mass protests that occurred in 2015, it’s sombering to think that that’s still happening. I would imagine that they thought they were making such a statement, that perhaps future generations would not have to do this anymore. And we realize that this long effort towards social justice in our country is far from over, is far from resolved.

    “And we realize that this long effort towards social justice in our country is far from over, is far from resolved.”

    Why don’t more people know about it?

    I think one of the reasons people don’t know about it is that we as Americans don’t really think about history anyway. We have a kind of historical amnesia. A lot of history gets lost, and it’s not just history of people of color or marginalized groups. History in general is not something that Americans spend as much time as we could in really trying to understand it. We think about technology and moving forward and the future. We don’t think about how the past has formed our present stage for the future.

    Because of the magnitude of the 1960s civil rights movement, in which there was tremendous violence against protesters, those images have preempted the peaceful outpouring of pictures we see of the Silent March. That moment in 1917 speaks so loudly through its silence to those of us today. These are the origins of our current tensions.

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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    Registered Nurse Rebecca Moak poses for a photo in trauma center of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi October 4, 2013. Mississippi is one of at least 20 states that has decided not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, better known as "Obamacare". REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

    Registered Nurse Rebecca Moak poses for a photo in trauma center of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, on Oct. 4, 2013. Mississippi is one of at least 20 states that has decided not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

    After the Senate fell short in its effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration is poised to use its regulatory powers to accomplish what lawmakers could not: shrink Medicaid.

    President Donald Trump’s top health officials could engineer lower enrollment in the state-federal health insurance program by approving applications from several GOP-controlled states eager to control fast-rising Medicaid budgets.

    Indiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Arizona and Wisconsin are seeking the administration’s permission to require adult enrollees to work, submit to drug testing and demand that some of their poorest recipients pay monthly premiums or get barred from the program.

    Maine plans to apply Tuesday. Other states would likely follow if the first ones get the go-ahead.

    Josh Archambault, senior fellow for the conservative Foundation for Government Accountability, said absent congressional action on the health bill “the administration may be even more proactive in engaging with states on waivers outside of those that are already planning to do so.”

    The hope, he added, is that fewer individuals will be on the program as states figure out ways “to transition able-bodied enrollees into new jobs, or higher-paying jobs.” States need to shore up the program to be able to keep meeting demands for the “truly needy,” such as children and the disabled, he added.

    To Medicaid’s staunchest supporters and most vocal critics alike, the waiver requests are a way to rein in the $500 billion program that has undergone unprecedented growth the past four years and now covers 75 million people.

    [Watch Video]

    Waivers have often been granted in the past to broaden coverage and test new ways to deliver Medicaid care, such as through private managed-care organizations.

    But critics of the new requests, which could be approved within weeks, said they could hurt those who are most in need.

    The National Health Law Program “is assessing the legality of work requirements and drug testing and all avenues for challenging them, including litigation,” said Jane Perkins, the group’s legal director.

    The administration has already said it favors work requirements and in March invited states to suggest new ideas.

    Before taking the top job at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Seema Verma was the architect of a Kentucky waiver request submitted last year.

    Not all states are expected to seek waivers, because Medicaid enjoys wide political support in many states, particularly in the Northeast and West.

    Medicaid, the nation’s largest health insurance program, has seen enrollment soar by 17 million since 2014, when Obamacare gave states more federal funding to expand coverage for adults. It’s typically states’ second-largest expense after education.

    This year, Senate and House bills tried to cap federal funding to states for the first time. Since the program began in 1965, federal Medicaid funding to states has been open-ended.

    READ NEXT: Alabama residents left with one insurance option under ACA

    Health experts say allowing the waiver requests goes beyond the executive branch’s authority to change the program without approval from Congress.

    “The point of these waivers is not for states to remake the program whole-cloth on a large-scale basis,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a health policy expert at George Washington University who chairs a Medicaid group that advises Congress.

    Rosenbaum noted that states received waivers for different purposes under the Obama administration.

    In Iowa, state officials won the authority to limit non-emergency transportation. Indiana received approval to charge premiums and lock out enrollees with incomes above the federal poverty level if they fell behind on paying premiums.

    “Now there is concern these more extreme measures would hurt enrollees’ access to care,” Rosenbaum said.

    Three states seeking waivers today are home to three key GOP players in the Senate health debate: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), Sen. John McCain (Arizona) and Vice President Mike Pence (Indiana).

    If states add premiums, as well as work and drug testing requirements, the result would be fewer people enrolling and staying in Medicaid, said David Machledt, senior policy analyst for the National Health Law Program.

    “How does that serve the purpose of the Medicaid program and what are the limits of CMS waiver authority?” he asked.

    Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker wants his state to become the first to require some Medicaid enrollees to undergo drug testing, is a prime waiver candidate.

    State officials stress the effort is not to deter drug users from the program but to help provide treatment for drug users.

    Wisconsin is also one of five states seeking a waiver to add a work requirement. People could meet the mandate through volunteering, job training or caring for an elderly relative.

    In addition, Wisconsin wants to limit enrollees’ Medicaid benefits to 48 consecutive months, unless the beneficiary is working.

    Enrollees with incomes from 50 percent to 100 percent of the federal poverty level, or between $6,030 and$12,060, would have to pay an $8 monthly premium.

    All of these rules would apply to about 12 percent of people currently enrolled in Medicaid — adults who are not disabled and don’t have dependent children.

    Wisconsin Medicaid Director Michael Heifetz said the main goal of the proposed changes is not to shrink the size of Medicaid but to get people into the workforce.

    “The proposal is not designed to have folks leave the program except for positive reasons,” he said.

    If the waiver is approved, the state anticipates annual savings of nearly $50 million and a drop in enrollment of 5,102 over five years.

    Wisconsin now spends $7 billion on Medicaid and has 1.2 million recipients.

    Asked why childless adults — not parents — are the focus of the waivers, Heifetz said Wisconsin wanted to test the provisions on a smaller population first and focus on adults who should be able to find work.

    But the Wisconsin effort has sparked broad outrage from hospitals, doctors and advocates for people with disabilities.

    The Wisconsin Council of Churches said the state would be punishing the poor with its waivers — and undermining the vitality of communities.

    “We are concerned the proposed changes to the program will be detrimental for the health of our most vulnerable neighbors … and undermine the social fabric and vitality of our state,” said Peter Bakken, public policy coordinator for the group in Sun Prairie, a suburb of Madison.

    The post Even without Congress, Trump can still cut Medicaid enrollment appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Partial view of lesbian couple holding hands on couch

    A key program providing health insurance for millions of kids could run out of federal funding in a matter of weeks. Photo via Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans say it’s time to “move on” after the sudden defeat of their efforts to dismantle Obamacare. But the health policy break won’t last long: A key program providing health insurance for millions of kids will run out of federal funding in a matter of weeks, unless Congress acts.

    The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, has long had strong bipartisan support; it provides health insurance for children in families with modest incomes that might be too high to qualify for Medicaid. Its authorization expires at the end of September, and at least five states will exhaust their leftover funds by the end of this year.

    With that deadline looming, lawmakers and lobbyists are already eyeing a CHIP reauthorization bill as a potential vehicle for other priorities. Republicans could try to add language to repeal elements of Obamacare. Democrats might try to boost funding to stabilize the insurance markets.

    At best, that means complicated and partisan negotiations — and lawmakers don’t have time to spare.

    “It makes it a harder vote. Anytime you look at moving anything [after] you have a major piece of legislation that hasn’t moved, it becomes a negotiating tool — rightly or wrongly, it does. At this point, that does make it more difficult,” Rep. Mark Meadows, (R-N.C.), told STAT on Friday.

    “I think we get there, just because of the importance of the program, [but] it may be an opportunity to look at other aspects to attach to it,” Meadows said.

    READ NEXT: A boy who can’t speak depends on Medicaid. What happens to him if it’s cut?

    Meadows, who chairs the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, has been at the center of the party’s negotiations to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He said Friday he isn’t willing to give up that fight yet — whether that means writing a brand new bill or trying to add elements of repeal and replace to CHIP if Democrats push for their own policy changes.

    Meanwhile, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon) is signaling that the GOP may not feel pressure to advance the legislation rapidly, despite the deadline.

    “While it needs to be reauthorized by September, virtually every state has funds — most of which don’t begin to run out at the earliest in October, some then in December, and many next year,” said Walden, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee. “We’ve got a little window here, but we intend to meet our deadlines.”

    Asked whether his committee was working on a bill or what the next steps might include, Walden said only that those questions are “undetermined.”

    A spokeswoman for Sen. Finance Committee Orrin Hatch of Utah, who would work on the companion effort in the Senate, did not comment. But his ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said via a spokesman that he is “eager” to work on a bipartisan package “so kids and their families are no longer left wondering if they will have health care at the end of September.”

    Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate made little mention of CHIP in press conferences Friday.

    Instead, their focus is securing funding for the cost sharing subsidies that help low-income Americans on Obamacare afford their deductibles and co-pays. Thanks to a court case brought by Republicans in Congress, President Trump and his administration have wide latitude to end the subsidies whenever they like, which could upend some insurance markets.

    Securing that funding has been a major priority for insurance companies who participate in the law. But Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested late Thursday, after the collapse of his repeal bill, that he had little interest in passing them.

    Several lobbyists suggested that it was far too soon for clear signals about the path forward, but said they expected CHIP would be the first opportunity to reignite discussion on broader health care reform.

    Even if CHIP isn’t bogged down in the repeal and replace fight, lawmakers will still have to work out several major decisions about the program itself. Republicans have pushed in recent years to scale back the increased funding for CHIP included in the Affordable Care Act. Democrats have defended the higher federal spending.

    To date, lawmakers and their staff have done little to prepare for the CHIP debate. There has only been one congressional hearing on the issue this year, and no public legislation yet exists. Advocates and staffers said that’s because both parties have been so focused on repeal.

    “A lot of staff has been thinking about it, a lot of members and groups have been thinking about it, but the focus has been on the bigger Medicaid effort… You’re going to see a lot of folks shift now and say, ‘OK, let’s get CHIP done,’ ” said Jim Kaufman, vice president of Public Policy for the Children’s Hospital Association. “There’s been a lot of talk of bipartisanship, especially in the last week, and CHIP is the poster child for bipartisanship.”

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on July 28, 2017. Find the original story here.

    The post Get ready for the next big health care fight. This one’s all about kids appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An enslaved man who mailed himself in a box to freedom across state lines. A ballerina of color who asked to paint her face white. An inventor whose creations include the traffic signal and oxygen mask.

    These are not works of fiction but true tales of American history brought to the screen by Sweet Blackberry, an organization that tells overlooked and little-known stories of African American accomplishments to children through animated short films.

    In 2014, ethnic minorities constituted the majority of children under 5 for the first time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And in 2015, ethnic minorities under age 18 constituted 48.5 percent of the U.S. population, according to nonpartisan research organization Child Trends.

    But children of color have historically received little representation in animated films, with early ones often portraying black characters as aggressive or unintelligent. In a 2016 analysis of the top-viewed cartoons among children ages 6 to 12 by the Children’s Television and Language Project at Tufts University, characters of color only held 17 percent of speaking roles.

    On average, kids consume over seven and a half hours of media per day, with the numbers even higher among black and Hispanic children, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

    And they deduce information about themselves and others — such as what possible career options are — based on the identities of characters they see on screen. TV consumption strengthens white boys’ self esteem while decreasing that of white girls, black girls and black boys, perhaps because of a lack of positive role models in media, a 2012 study found.

    The under-representation of people of color and women on film and television shows mirrors the lack of representation behind the scenes. The 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report from the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies revealed that white people and men dominate executive positions at television networks and film studios, with minorities directing 17.8 percent of the 174 films from 2013 that the report reviewed.

    Sweet Blackberry founder Karyn Parsons, who played Hilary Banks on the popular show “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” seeks to combat this underrepresentation. Her organization’s latest project, “The Bessie Coleman Story,” will feature the first female African American and Native American pilot. The short film recently completed its fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, and Parsons expects it will be released in February 2018.

    We spoke to Parsons to find out how Sweet Blackberry, which also hosts workshops for students, makes history relevant to kids and seeks to change the conversation on race and history.

    kp

    Karyn Parsons, founder of Sweet Blackberry, seeks to bring stories of African American accomplishments to children. Photo courtesy of Meagen Hagans

    How do you make these stories speak to children?

    I think meeting them where they are is really important, not just preaching, “This is important, you should know it.” The people and their achievements are important but what is equally important is that you’re able to be heard.

    Why do you think these stories are important today?

    “I want people to understand that these are American history stories. They’re not just black stories that should be relegated to Black History Month or to black studies.”

    The risk of them being lost. As more time goes and they’re pushed to the wayside and textbooks are rewritten and things are omitted for whatever reason, I think that’s really dangerous and we risk losing the stories and people’s contributions and what the truth of history was entirely.

    I also think that right now more than ever a lot of young people are feeling very small, very helpless, and a lot of parents are feeling very confused, angry, small and helpless … so we bring stories like the Bessie Coleman story, someone who in [the] 1920s as a black female in the United States was told, “No, you can’t fly, you’re black, you’re a woman, and we won’t even teach you how to fly.” At that time, with all the incredible gender and racial discrimination that was going on in this country … she went [to France] and was the only African American and Native American female in her class. She learned how to fly and she comes back home with an international pilot’s license, which Amelia Earhart didn’t even have yet — she wouldn’t have hers for two more years.

    I think showing kids stories like that [is important] and really getting to them and going, “Look at that, you can do that, you can do anything if you really just think outside of what is expected of you.” You look at obstacles and you say, “That’s not just something that’s in your way. That’s actually potential for something greater. By overcoming that, you could lead to something unexpected in yourself.”

    How do you choose which stories to tell?

    I have some stories that I’ve wanted to tell for a while and I haven’t figured out how. So there might be really great people with incredible accomplishments but if I can’t figure out how to bring them to kids where I think kids will really get it and be locked in and say “Oh, I understand this,” then I don’t choose that story yet.

    I mostly want to stick with stories that people haven’t heard of. I was reluctant to tell the Bessie Coleman story because there’s a lot more on Bessie Coleman than there is on Janet Collins or someone else. But as time went on I found out that so many people still did not know about this aviator, this groundbreaker … So I went ahead finally and said, “We’re gonna tell it even though you put in Bessie Coleman and you’re gonna find more information, it’s still not enough.”

    bessie

    Sweet Blackberry’s latest short film, “The Bessie Coleman Story,” feature the first female African American and Native American pilot. R. Gregory Christie illustrates the film, with his illustration of Coleman depicted above. Photo courtesy of Meagen Hagans

    What has been most rewarding about telling these stories?

    I think learning about these people is so exhilarating. Like right now with Bessie Coleman, I think of her smile and I get excited about exactly what I’m trying to give children — I get excited about what I’m capable of and what I can do. I think of the real person and not just the black and white sepia tone photo in front of me. I see her and I picture her as a real living breathing person in front of me and I’m just blown away by her passion and all of this personality.

    The other thing is bringing it to kids. I go in schools around the country and I screen the films and watching [the kids] watching the film and talking to them is the best.

    Your collaborators behind the scenes, like illustrators and narrators, include many prominent African American artists and creators. Why is representation behind the scenes important to you?

    “I hope these stories can be reminders to people of what they’re made of, who they are, that they are strong and they are capable of incredible things beyond what they can imagine.”

    I think when you’ve got someone who understands firsthand what it means to be a brown person who’s discriminated against, or can relate to a lot of the things that you’re telling, it’s going to affect your storytelling differently. It’s a different perspective that you’re coming from and there’s so much richness and value in hearing from people who understand in a more firsthand way. I’m not saying other people can’t tell these stories, but I think it’s going to be different when you hear from people who can contribute [their] experiences.

    What range of responses have you received?

    There was such an excitement — I still receive that a lot from educators and parents. Mostly it’s just been a real outpouring of support and enthusiasm for doing this and a real push like, “We need these stories, we need them now.”

    What do you hope viewers, in particular African Americans and children, gain from these stories?

    I hope these stories can be reminders to people of what they’re made of, who they are, that they are strong and they are capable of incredible things beyond what they can imagine. That goes for black and brown audiences but I want people to understand that these are American history stories. They’re not just black stories that should be relegated to Black History Month or to black studies. I know we need Black History Month and we need a focus on black history but we can’t just relegate it to a boutique history. It is the history of this country. … It’s not just a little side history that’s just for black people.

    Quite the contrary. It’s very important that everybody knows this. It will affect how we all look at ourselves, our neighbors, and all of our value in this world. I’m glad I’m telling these stories to really young kids because hopefully they will grow up knowing this … they will look at themselves and their neighbors differently than this whole separate, ”Oh you only hear about a few black stories once in awhile,” which sends the message, I’m afraid, that only a once in awhile a black person comes along and does something great. It’s so far from the truth.

    When I visit the kids and I see their responses I think, “That’s what I want.” They’re so open and receptive. They all recognize the value. Little kids don’t tend to have that racial delineation yet, so all kids are looking at these stories as important and I want that to continue as they grow older.

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

    The post Black innovators shine through history in these animated films for kids appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Relatives of victims of human trafficking wait for the sentence after an army general, two provincial politicians and police officers were among the 46 people held guilty in a court in Bangkok

    Relatives of victims of human trafficking wait for the sentence after an army general, two provincial politicians and police officers were among the 46 people held guilty in a court in Bangkok, Thailand, July 19, 2017. Photo by Jorge Silva/Reuters

    July 30 marks the United Nations’ World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, a day focused on ending the criminal exploitation of children, women and men for forced labor or sex work.

    Between 27 and 45.8 million individuals worldwide are trapped in some form of modern-day slavery. The victims are forced into slavery as sex workers, beggars and child soldiers, or as domestic workers, factory workers and laborers in manufacturing, construction, mining, commercial fishing and other industries.

    Human trafficking occurs in every country in the world, including the U.S. It’s a hugely profitable industry, generating an estimated US$150 billion annually in illegal profits per year. In fact, it’s one of the largest sources of profit for global organized crime, second only to illicit drugs.

    Analytics, the mathematical search for insights in data, could help law enforcement combat human trafficking. Human trafficking is essentially a supply chain in which the “supply” (human victims) moves through a network to meet “demand” (for cheap, vulnerable and illegal labor). Traffickers leave a data trail, however faint or broken, despite their efforts to operate off the grid and in the shadows.

    There is an opportunity – albeit a challenging one – to use the bits of information we can get on the distribution of victims, traffickers, buyers and exploiters, and disrupt the supply chain wherever and however we can. In our latest study, we have detailed how this might work.

    Finding people at risk

    In most countries, resources to fight human trafficking are woefully inadequate. Agencies strive to use them as effectively and efficiently as possible, and often find themselves fighting for scarce funding and support. A government, for example, may need to decide how best to fund or schedule labor inspectors to detect child labor in the manufacturing industry. An organization with limited resources may need insight into which prevention program to run, or what type of awareness campaign to implement.

    We can use data to identify populations most at-risk and target prevention campaigns to those populations. Risk factors for being drawn into trafficking include poverty, unemployment, migration and escape from political conflict or war. Experiences with organized crime and natural disasters can also change to a person’s risk.

    Trafficking often begins with fraudulent recruitment methods, such as promises of employment or romance. Data can help identify specific economically depressed areas, where we can deploy awareness campaigns and social service support.

    In operations research, scientists apply mathematical methods to answer complex questions about patterns in data and predict future trends or behaviors. Analytical tools similar to those used in transportation, manufacturing and finance can help us decide where to best allocate resources and help locate shelters for victims.

    Victim identification and location

    Trafficking networks are dynamic. Traffickers are likely to frequently change distribution and transportation routes to avoid detection, leaving law enforcement and analysts with incomplete information as they attempt to identify and dismantle trafficking networks.

    However, researchers can help by tracking subtle trends in data at various locations; at access points where we actually come in contact with victims, such as the emergency room; and in the activity of local law enforcement.

    In the sex trade, for example, clues may be found in patterns of petty theft, by looking at transactional data from purchases at retail outlets. Victims sometimes steal essential supplies that traffickers may not provide for them such as feminine hygiene products, soap and toothpaste. Trends in the use of cash for transactions normally made with debit or credit cards – hotel bookings, for example – may also raise a red flag.

    Traffickers advertise on social media and internet-based sites. Analytics could seek patterns in photos through facial recognition software, comparing images from missing person reports or trafficking ads.

    Sex trafficking activity, in particular, leaves traces in the public areas of the internet, mostly in the form of advertisements and escort ads. Advertisers tend to use social networks and dating websites, while more proficient traffickers frequently alter their online presence to try to elude identification.

    Machine learning – a type of artificial intelligence where computers teach themselves to do tasks, such as recognize images – can be used to detect online trafficking activity. Recent advances in matrix completion, a type of machine learning, could even help clean up falsified information or make predictions about missing data.

    Traffickers are also known to take advantage of increased demand for commercial sexual exploitation during major events, including conventions and large sporting events. Analyses that look at both location and timing of online ads could help law enforcement detect and possibly interdict transportation of victims to the event. They could also suggest when and where policymakers should focus intervention efforts.

    Network disruption

    Interrupting the flow of people, money and other components of trafficking is critical to identifying trafficking networks, disrupting their infrastructure at the source and eliminating them.

    Unfortunately, network interruption requires the cooperation of authorities and the public surrounding the network. In some countries, such as Nepal and Costa Rica, officials are threatened or bribed into ignoring or otherwise allowing human trafficking. There is often inadequate regulatory oversight of industries known to use trafficked laborers. Traffickers can easily fabricate or alter a victim’s identification documents, rendering them invisible to overburdened authorities.

    To help authorities identify trafficking operations to target, researchers could turn to network analysis, a mathematical way of representing real world systems and their interactions. For example, network analysis can be used to map out the dynamics of users and their connections embedded in social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. This can possibly identify at-risk persons or, alternatively, traffickers or customers.

    Social network analysis could also help to determine which contacts have a critical influence over others. This may enable early identification of either a victim or trafficking transaction.

    Human trafficking is a serious crime and an appalling violation of human rights. Almost every country is affected by human trafficking as a source of victims, a transit point, or a destination and location of abuse. These new mathematical tools show great potential both to interrupt the human trafficking cycle and to provide the information needed to help victims escape to safety.

    Renata Konrad is the Assistant Professor of Operations and Industrial Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Andrew C. Trapp is the Associate Professor of Operations and Industrial Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

    The Conversation

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    A villager goes through the process of a fingerprint scanner for UID database system at an enrolment centre at Merta district in Rajasthan

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Over the past seven years, across India, almost every citizen has stood in line to get a new national ID. It’s a 12-digit number backed by biometric security. A head shot plus fingerprints plus an iris scan. It is the most exhaustive headcount by a country in history. Ajay Bushan Pandey heads “Aadhaar,” the agency running the identification program.

    AJAY BUSHAN PANDEY: We have now reached the figure of 1.15 billion people. Among the adults, more than 99 percent of the adults have Aadhaar now.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Pandey says the Aadhaar Project, which has so far cost 90 billion rupees — about a billion-and-half dollars — improves national security by making it easier to monitor border crossings with India’s neighbors, like Pakistan and Bangladesh. He says the biometric IDs verify identity and weed out corruption by replacing paper records — if they even exist– with electronic ones. Aadhaar is bringing vast sections of the country that barely entered the Industrial Age into the Digital Age.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Many people in India don’t have birth certificates or formal IDs, and the government says that the Aadhaar program will correct this problem by issuing everyone a unique biometric identification. “A tool of inclusion” is what the government calls it.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: A-third of India’s population survives on less than two dollars a day. They and many low-to-middle income people receive government benefits including temporary employment in public works, farm subsidies, and food commodities distributed through ration shops. The system is rife with fraud: fake paper IDs, fake beneficiaries, and theft by middlemen preying on vulnerable, often illiterate people. The new harder to fake IDs are designed to alleviate these problems says a spokesman for India’s ruling party, the BJP, in the Capital ofDelhi.

    SUDHANSHU TRIVEDI: 30 years back, when late Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister of India, he has used a phrase: ‘When 100 rupees goes from Delhi, only 15 or 16 rupees reaches to the targeted poor.’ Now we have ensured that if 100 rupees goes from here, the entire 100 rupees directly reaches to the person concerned.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Given its promise of security and efficiency, the government recently decided to make Aadhaar mandatory for a growing number of financial transactions. Every bank account and tax return must now be linked to one’s biometric ID, and an Aadhaar number is now required to receive any welfare benefits.

    AJAY BUSHAN PANDEY: The World Bank has estimated that if government of India uses Aadhaar in all its public welfare schemes, then annual savings would be to the tune of almost 11 billion dollars every year.

    SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN: I think that the savings that the government claims which spring from Aadhaar are vastly exaggerated.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Opponents of Aadhaar, like columnist and editor Siddharth Varadarajan, were skeptical when it began as a voluntary program to Improve transparency in the welfare system. Now, they are alarmed. Varadarajan says a country where 300 million people — a quarter of the population — do not have reliable electricity is unprepared to take such a huge digital leap.

    SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN: You need electricity 24/7, you need the Internet up and running 24/7, you need proper data speeds. So given the limitations of technology, given the absence of a privacy law, for the government to steamroller this kind of scheme, to my mind seems to be rather ill advised.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Internet service is at best sporadic in many parts of India, and in regions where Aadhaar IDs are now required, one recent report by a workers’ rights group found the system has done little to reduce corruption. Attorney Gautam Bhatia represents some Aadhaar opponents and citizen activists who’ve taken the government to court.

    GAUTAM BHATIA: For example, if you are, say, a farmer in the rural areas, then say you are entitled to rations or to kerosene, for example, oil, and when that is based upon your biometric authentication, you have to go to the person who is authorized to authenticate you. And that person may simply say your authentication failed and not give you your entitlement, and then you are basically left without that for that one month, and in fact the report shows that many families have gone many months without access to very important, important, entitlements.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Bhatia says the new technology will not wipe out corruption but it has violated a basic tenet of democracy: privacy.

    GAUTAM BHATIA: You’re giving the state centralized access to a very vast citizenry’s data, personal data. That is where the problem lies. You are fundamentally altering the relationship between the state and the individual. You are putting the individual in a position where her actions are visible in a certain way to the state, whereas we think that the relationship should be the other way around.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Already there have been several leaks of personal data. Aadhaar opponents worry rogue operators or hackers could steal biometric data like fingerprints, allowing Indians to be profiled for commercial or political purposes. But Aadhaar’s director says his agency’s systems are state of the art and privacy concerns are overblown. He adds, when the system authenticates a person, it does not keep any records of transactions.

    AJAY BUSHAN PANDEY: Aadhaar also places restriction on merging of various data bases. So you cannot link the various databases and create a surveillance tool. Aadhaar Act provides a very strong protection against any such move, so any violation of the law will be taken very seriously.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Editor Varadarajan is not reassured, because, he says, the rule of law is frequently flouted by corrupt or incompetent officials.

    SIDDHARTH VARADARAJAN: If India was a better governed state, if the rule of law operated in a more transparent manner, half of these objections would vanish.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: When he was in the opposition, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Aadhaar a gimmick. But in power, he’s embraced it — insisting his government has built in privacy safeguards. And Modi wants to vastly expand its scope.

    TV DEBATE: “The whole act was enacted for the purpose of passing on the subsidies more efficiently, not to convert a democratic country into a police state.”

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Aadhaar has sparked robust debate on Indian news outlets like “Mirror Now” but not so much in the streets.

    MAN: “It works…to open a bank account, it works…”

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In this poor section of Delhi, where almost everyone has an Aadhaar number, there’s been no controversy, because people told us they have far more basic worries.

    WOMAN: “Nuksan nahi har lakin fayada bi nahi.”

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: “Nothing lost, nothing gained” with the new ID, this woman said, as she washed cans she’d fill with water as soon as the municipal tanker arrived. There’s no running water here. And this man complained ration shops often claim they are out of the subsidized rice and other essentials. India’s Supreme Court has affirmed the government’s right to link Aadhaar to welfare benefits and tax returns. But it has yet to rule on whether being forced to provide biometric information violates an individual’s right to privacy. When the court answers that question, the fate of the world’s largest single database of biometric information will be at stake.

    The post India’s national ID program raises privacy concerns appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Planned Parenthood supporters hold signs at a protest in downtown Denver

    Planned Parenthood supporters hold signs at a protest in downtown Denver, Colorado, U.S. February 11, 2017. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    Just days before laws were set to severely limit already-scarce abortion services in Arkansas, a federal judge banned them from taking effect on Friday, in one of two federal case rulings on the subject. The other ruled in favor of anti-abortion advocates.

    U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a preliminary injunction on four state laws: one that criminalizes doctors for performing the most common method used for second-trimester abortions, a procedure called dilation and extraction, another that requires input from the father or a woman’s own parents on what to do with the remains, a third that would give tissue samples from minors to local law enforcement and a fourth that required abortion doctors to obtain extensive medical histories.

    The first three were scheduled to take effect on Tuesday, and the fourth on January 1. The request for a preliminary injunction was issued by the local American Civil Liberties Union and also the nonprofit Center for Reproductive Rights. It was on behalf of an abortion doctor at Little Rock Family Planning Services – the only clinic that performs dilation and extraction in a state where 1.45 million women live.

    In 2015, 638 women in Arkansas opted for this procedure, about 20 percent of the clinic’s overall abortions. A lot of these clients are low-income and have a limited ability to take time off from work, which can make it challenging to plan procedures overall, especially within the first trimester, according to the 140-page ruling.

    “If the [law] goes into effect, standard [surgical] abortions will no longer be performed in Arkansas… thereby rendering abortions essentially unavailable in the State of Arkansas starting at 14 weeks,” Baker wrote. “In that case, 100 percent or all 638 of these women will experience a substantial obstacle to abortion.”

    While the surgical procedure law only applies to the single facility, the other three challenge the abilities of all three abortion clinics in the state. There are Planned Parenthood clinics in Little Rock and Fayetteville, but they only perform medication abortions, which allow women to take pills to terminate pregnancy up until 10 weeks.

    Baker temporarily blocked these other laws – one of which required doctors to ask women if she knew the sex of the child and warn her that it is illegal to perform abortions based on sex selection. If the woman knew the sex, the doctor would also be required to obtain extensive medical history, which, especially in a small town, would be an extreme violation of confidentiality, Baker ruled.

    “It will cause women to forgo abortion in Arkansas rather than risk disclosure to medical providers who they know oppose abortion or who are family friends or neighbors,” Baker wrote.

    Arkansas is already stricter than many other states on abortion, requiring that women attend counseling and then wait 48 hours before returning for a procedure. Abortion rights advocates say this places a burden on women who don’t have support systems or need a car to drive long distances to the clinic.

    In another ruling on Friday, this time pleasing anti-abortion advocates, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted an injunction that Baker had issued in 2015 to prohibit a law that could prevent all three facilities from offering medication abortions. Such abortions encompass more than 80 percent of the state’s procedures.

    The law that Baker blocked in 2015 requires doctors who prescribe them to have a contract with a physician at a hospital with admitting and surgical or gynecological privileges, who also agrees to tend to any complications in the rare event there are any.

    The three-person panel unanimously on Friday sent the case, which was filed by Planned Parenthood, back to Baker, saying she had not determined how many women would be affected and that it was vacating her ruling.

    Arkansas will be able to enforce the law in two or three weeks.

    “This common sense law will help ensure that medication abortions are conducted in a safe, responsible manner and with appropriate protections for women,” Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in a statement.

    But a lawyer who has represented abortion clinics in the state for 30 years and is helping with these cases told the NewsHour Weekend that Planned Parenthood could not find a doctor with those privileges. Attorney Bettina Brownstein said that such a doctor could face potential judgment at work for working with clinics that provide abortions.

    “No doctor in Arkansas, or hardly anyone wants to come forward and represent [abortion clinics],” Brownstein said.

    If the law takes effect, it’s unlikely any of the three facilities will be able to abide by it, Brownstein said.

    Arkansas is involved in two other suits over laws that would restrict the abilities of abortion clinics.

    Brownstein said the clinics are fighting another state law that makes it easier to suspend their licenses by holding them to arbitrary health regulations, as well as one that would prevent Medicaid from covering health services. Medicaid, she said, does not pay for abortions.

    She said despite a woman’s legal right to decide whether she wants to have a baby, some legislatures in Arkansas, “are trying to ban abortion entirely.”

    “There are huge swaths of the state that are rural or poor. If you don’t have money and even if you are near Little Rock it’s real tough to get an abortion,” she said.

    The post Two federal decisions affect abortion clinics in Arkansas appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Demonstrators clash with riot security forces while rallying against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:  Tomorrow, Venezuela holds an election for a new national assembly that could rewrite its constitution.  Parties that oppose beleaguered President Nicolas Maduro are boycotting the vote, because they say it’s a scheme by Maduro to expand his executive powers.

    Maduro’s socialist party has presided over a severe economic downturn marked by triple-digit inflation and scarce supplies of food and medicine.  This, as Venezuela’s most important export, oil production, continues to decline.

    For more on the controversial vote, I’m joined via Skype by “Reuters” reporter Brian Ellsworth from the Venezuelan capital of Caracas.

    Brian, we are almost talking about the vote as a matter of course, here, tomorrow.  We know the outcome, because the opposition’s not putting up any candidates.

    BRIAN ELLSWORTH, REPORTER, REUTERS:  Yes, that’s right.  In effect, the vote will take place tomorrow, and the opposition parties are not participating, which means that this 540-seat assembly will go entirely to allies of the socialist party.  We’re likely to see next week, at some point, there will likely be some divisions that will emerge, different groups sort of seeking to control leadership of the institution.  But as you say, yes, there is no opposition participation, so there isn’t a lot of suspense as to who will win.

    SREENIVASAN:  Well, for people who don’t follow the internal politics of Venezuela, what does this– what’s the power that this national assembly will actually have?

    ELLSWORTH:  Well, the constitution has one article that gives very vague description of what this body does.  And it says almost nothing, other than the fact that it can rewrite the constitution, and it cannot be challenged or overruled by any other government agency, which means that neither the courts, nor any executive branch powers, or anyone else, can tell this assembly not to do something.

    Last time this was done was in 1999, there was a very clear mandate to rewrite the constitution.  Now, the constitution already gives quite a bit of generous executive power to the president, but they could, for example, dissolve the opposition-run congress.  They could fire the prosecutor, the chief prosecutor, who has been increasingly critical of the Maduro government.

    So, it effectively creates a super body, that will have unlimited powers, with very unclear consequences as to what that would mean.

    SREENIVASAN:  So, this could actually keep Maduro in power indefinitely, kind of sliding away from democracy and toward dictatorship.

    ELLSWORTH:  We don’t know what they would actually do.  But the current electoral schedule has Maduro’s term ending in early 2019, and the next elections taking place in late 2018.  So, one of the things that they could do is not only alter the time frame for when the elections would happen, but they could also alter the way the actual votes are taking place, which, if you note, in this election, these are being– these seats are being distributed by municipality, which basically over-represents the rural areas, and in effect, over-represents the government.  Which was the main opposition argument for saying, we’re not going to participate in this.

    So, they could do similar things, in order to juggle the basic electoral functioning, in an environment in which the socialist party basically cannot win an election, due to extreme economic crisis.

    SREENIVASAN:  Well, how do the countries in the neighborhood — how does the United States weigh in on this?

    ELLSWORTH:  The United States has already sanctioned — last week announced sanctions against 13 high-ranking socialist party officials.  And they have said more swift sanctions are on the way if this vote goes through.  It’s not immediately evident what those sanctions would be, but it could involve blocking the sale of Venezuelan oil to the United States, or financial sanctions that would prevent Venezuela from collecting on the oil that it sells.

    SREENIVASAN:  Even after this vote tomorrow, is the condition of life likely to get any better for the people of Venezuela that have been suffering over the past two months, that we’ve been chronicling?

    ELLSWORTH:  This is another of the opposition’s arguments against the assembly, is that the primary concern of any Venezuelan that you speak to on the street today is that there isn’t food, there isn’t medicine, and prices are skyrocketing.  The assembly, as proposed, makes no evident — does nothing, in effect, to change any of that.

    The reforms that they need to do, which will be painful to change this from a sort of socialist, state-controlled economy into a market economy, they have repeatedly avoided doing.  And there is no suggestion that the assembly is ready to do this, and there is nothing, per se, about the assembly that would change this situation.  It’s not like Monday, or Wednesday, we’re suddenly going to see food on the shelves.

    So, this has been one of the primary arguments against it, and as things stand, it’s not clear that it is going to change any of those things.

    SREENIVASAN:  All right.  “Reuters” reporter Brian Ellsworth, joining us via Skype from Caracas today, thanks so much.

    ELLSWORTH:  Thank you.

    The post Ahead of vote, Venezuelans protest expanding presidential power appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Trump participates in the commissioning ceremony of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia

    U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the commissioning ceremony of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, U.S. July 22, 2017. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Saturday threatened once more to end required payments to insurance companies unless lawmakers repeal and replace the Obama-era health care law.

    In apparent frustration over Friday’s failure by the Senate Republican majority to pass a bill repealing parts of the Affordable Care Act, Trump tweeted: “If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”

    No Democrats voted for the GOP bill.

    Repeal-and-replace has been a guiding star for Republicans ever since President Barack Obama enacted the law in 2010. That goal, which was one of Trump’s top campaign promises, remains out of reach even with Republicans controlling both the White House and Congress. The issue has dominated the opening months of Trump’s presidency.

    But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said after the bill failed early Friday that he would move to other legislative business in the upcoming week.

    The subsidies are required under the law. They total about $7 billion a year and help reduce deductibles and copayments for consumers with modest incomes. But the payments are the subject of a lawsuit brought by House Republicans over whether the law specifically included a congressional appropriation for the money, as required under the Constitution. Trump has only guaranteed the payments through this month, which ends Monday.

    READ NEXT: Senate defeats ‘skinny repeal’ of Affordable Care Act, sending health care reform back to committee.

    Trump previously said the law that he and others call “Obamacare” would stop immediately whenever those payments stop.

    The Senate’s Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, said such a step will make health care even more expensive.

    “If the president refuses to make the cost sharing reduction payments, every expert agrees that premiums will go up and health care will be more expensive for millions of Americans,” Schumer said Saturday in a written statement. “The president ought to stop playing politics with people’s lives and health care, start leading and finally begin acting presidential.”

    The post Trump threat: End health payments unless there’s an overhaul appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An entrance sign to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital is seen in Dallas

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    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: When the U.S. Senate fell short this week of the Republicans’ goal to repeal the affordable care act, it left the ACAC in place, at least for now. And today on Twitter, President Trump seemed to threaten those lawmakers and insurance companies, saying, quote: If a new healthcare bill is not approved quickly, bailouts for insurance companies and bailouts for members of Congress will end very soon.

    The president might have been referring to cost-sharing reduction payments, which lower the amount individuals have to pay for deductibles, co-payments and insurance. Currently, Obamacare provides insurance to 12 million people through private policies purchased on exchanges. But some of the exchanges have seen insurers like Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, and Humana pull out.

    That trend, according to “The New York Times,” “Reuters” and “Kaiser Health News” could leave 3 million people in more than 1,300 counties with only one Obamacare participating insurer next year. Forty-five or more counties could have none.

    For more, I’m joined from Washington by Mary Agnes Carey of “Kaiser Health News”.

    How did we get to this situation? You know, the president likes to describe it as Obamacare imploding. But we’re clearly seeing that there’s a disparity in how much choice consumers have when they go to these exchanges.

    MARY AGNES CAREY, KAISER HEALTH NEWS: Insurers have been very concerned about the uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act. As you mentioned, there’s been a lot of discussion on Capitol Hill about repealing and replacing the law. That fell apart this week in the Senate. There’s been concern about whether or not the Trump administration would fund these cost-sharing subsidies that help low-income people with their out-of-pocket costs. And there’s also been concern from insurers about tough enforcement of the individual mandate, this requirement that most Americans have insurance or pay a fine.

    So, when you look at that collectively, insurers are getting worried, and some are deciding not to go into some markets or leave other markets or raise their prices to try to compensate for that uncertainty.

    SREENIVASAN: I remember when the ACA first passed, one of the big sort of compromises to the insurance industry was saying, hey, this individual mandate will be in place. Everyone will have to have insurance. So, you’re going to have an opportunity to find new customers.

    CAREY: Right. But the thought has been also that has been the opportunity for the insurers, and they have gotten in, but they knew initially the sickest people would come in first. They have been very, very expensive.

    And then there’s also been ongoing concern about the price of the premiums. Some people have opted, rather, not to enroll and simply pay that individual mandate penalty. So the individual mandate, of course, we know has been a lightning rod on Capitol Hill. Republicans hate it. They say Americans shouldn’t be required to purchase insurance or be told what insurance to buy. So, it has been a focal point of this ever since the Affordable Care Act was created.

    SREENIVASAN: Insurance companies are also responsible to their shareholders. They’re thinking a couple of years out. So, really, in the past couple of years, we’ve seen them start to make moves regardless of who was going to win this White House.

    CAREY: You know, they looked at the market, as you mentioned, some are in and some are out. And again, we get back to the uncertainty. Is this a marketplace where they want to be? Will this marketplace be supported by the Trump administration? Will the rules and regulations of the Affordable Care Act be implemented and overseen by the Trump administration and that has just been at the focal point of this entire thing when the insurers are involved?

    SREENIVASAN: What about Medicaid expansion or at least the subsidies and how much the Affordable Care Act or any sort of a replacement will pay? What can the insurance companies expect?

    CAREY: Well, right now, since things have fallen apart about this on Capitol Hill, the Medicaid expansion, which 31 states embraced, is still there. So they could still count on that enrollment. And for now, the subsidies that as you mentioned earlier fund about eight out of 10 beneficiaries are still there.

    The key point on the subsidy issue is this cost sharing subsidy. That is the subsidy that helps nearly 7 million enrollees with their out-of-pocket costs. And insurers are very worried that the Trump administration might stop funding that.

    SREENIVASAN: What sort of actions can be taken for what are called these bare counties, where basically there are now currently no insurers on the exchanges, or as those counties grow in number?

    CAREY: There’s a variety of proposals that could be embraced. Claire McCaskill, a Democratic senator from Missouri, has a plan that says if you’re in a bare county, you should be able to buy health insurance on the same exchange here in the District of Columbia, where members of Congress buy coverage.

    There’s also a variety of coverage out there to help insure with their high-cost cases. This is called reinsurance. That program existed for three years. It’s going away in 2018. So, you’ve got members on both sides of the aisle talking about that, and the thought is if you step in and try to help with those high-cost cases, that premiums could be reduced.

    But we also have to remember those broader bills from Republicans in the House and the Senate, all included money for state markets to try to help these insurers. So, it’s kind of a moving target at this point.

    SREENIVASAN: All right. Mary Agnes Carey of “Kaiser Health News”, thanks so much for joining us.

    CAREY: Thanks for having me.

    The post Few options remain for some consumers in ACA marketplaces appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) Ceremony at the State Department in Washington, U.S., June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas - RTS18UQY

    U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) Ceremony at the State Department in Washington, U.S., June 27, 2017. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — An attempt by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to portray recently passed Russian sanctions legislation as a sign Americans want Russia to improve relations with the U.S. has been derided by Moscow.

    In a statement released by the State Department on Saturday, Tillerson said the overwhelming House and Senate votes in favor of the sanctions “represent the strong will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States.” He added that he hoped potential future U.S.-Russia cooperation would make the sanctions unnecessary at some point.

    READ NEXT: Russia sanctions bill heads to Trump, Moscow retaliates

    The legislation, which also punishes Iran and North Korea, takes aim at Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria. The White House said Friday that President Donald Trump will sign the legislation, which passed the House by a 419-3 vote and the Senate by a 98-2 vote.

    “We will work closely with our friends and allies to ensure our messages to Russia, Iran, and North Korea are clearly understood,” Tillerson’s statement concluded.

    With respect to Russia, at least, the message did not appear to be understood, as the Russian Embassy in Washington said in a series of tweets that it was bewildered.

    “The statement made by the @StateDept on July 29 regarding a new sanctions legislation approved by Congress cannot but raise eyebrows,” it said. “Washington still doesn’t get the fact that pressure never works against @Russia, bilateral relations can hardly be improved by sanctions.”

    State Department officials did not immediately respond to a request for clarification of Tillerson’s statement.

    The post Russia derides Tillerson statement on sanctions appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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