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

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: In 11 minutes of rapid gunfire into a Las Vegas concert crowd last Sunday night, a mass shooter killed 58 people attending a concert. As the NewsHour has done all week, tonight we remember the final 10 of those victims.

    Like so many people killed, Dorene Anderson was visiting Las Vegas from out of state. She was a stay-at-home mom and wife from Alaska with a passion for ice hockey.

    Denise Burditus attended the concert with her husband — both seen here less than an hour before the massacre began. She was shot as they fled the scene.

    Heather Alvarado was a mother of three from Utah, who came to the three-day country music festival with her family. Her husband says, “she always saw the good in others.”

    Hannah Ahlers was also a mother of three children — seen here — from California. She went to the festival with her husband. Her father-in-law says: Heather “lit up the world with her smile.

    Victor Link was also from California. His son said on Facebook he was “the best dad any one son could ever have.”

    Carly Kreibaum, a mother of two young children, from Iowa, attended the concert with friends.

    Calla Medig went to the festival every year, this year with her best friend, who got her to a hospital. Medig is one of four victims from Canada.

    Tara Roe was also Canadian. She was a model, a teaching assistant, and mother of two young boys.

    Carrie Parsons lived in Seattle and was recently engaged. A childhood friend says: “She would always say ‘live, laugh, love.’”

    And Pati Mestas loved country music and moved closer to the stage when Jason Aldean started performing. A friend says she was was a “great” mother and grandmother and “an amazing person.”

    The post Remembering the victims of the Las Vegas shooting appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence waves as he arrives at Sydney International Airport in Australia, April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Reed - RTS13B52

    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence waves as he arrives at Sydney International Airport in Australia, on April 21, 2017. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

    LOS ANGELES — Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to arrive in California this weekend for a fundraising trip in a state that overwhelmingly rejected his boss.

    Pence was set to arrive in Los Angeles on Sunday for an evening reception. He was planning to raise money and talk about tax reform during a three-day trip in the state.

    Pence was in Las Vegas on Saturday. He spoke at an afternoon prayer service honoring the 58 victims killed last Sunday in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

    The vice president was scheduled to fly to Indianapolis to attend Sunday’s Colts football game before jetting to Los Angeles for a private 6:30 p.m. reception.

    Pence and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy were scheduled to hold a luncheon fundraiser at a country club in wealthy Newport Beach on Monday, with tickets starting at $2,700 each, the Orange County Register reported, citing Republican National Committeeman Shawn Steel.

    That was one of several stops Pence originally had planned for September. A breakfast event in Bakersfield and a Sacramento dinner also were cancelled because the vice president instead visited Florida to survey damage from Hurricane Irma.

    [Watch Video]

    The White House and Pence’s office did not immediately confirm whether he would visit Sacramento and the agricultural Central Valley — where McCarthy’s district is located — on this trip.

    California, a majority Democratic state, rejected Donald Trump by about 4 million votes in the presidential election. Trump hasn’t visited since he won office.

    California also has firmly opposed the administration’s immigration policies. Gov. Jerry Brown signed sanctuary state legislation Thursday that extends protections for immigrants living in the United States illegally.

    But California also has several Republican Congress members who are Democratic targets.

    Pence’s visit, which would focus on pockets of conservatism in the huge state, could raise millions of dollars for the GOP.

    The post Vice President Pence plans California fundraising visit appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    hepatitis A

    Paulina Bobenrieth a nurse with the HHSA Public Health dept. gives a Hepatitis A vaccine to a Homeless person in Downtown San Diego, CA on Wednesday, October 4, 2017. A Hepatitis A outbreak has killed numerous homeless people and sent hundreds to the hospital. Photo by Sandy Huffaker for STAT News

    SAN DIEGO — The hepatitis A outbreak now roiling this well-heeled, coastal city may have had its roots in a baseball game — when the city cleaned up for the 2016 All-Star Game by pushing its homeless out of the touristy areas downtown and into increasingly congested encampments and narrow freeway onramps just east of downtown. The lines of tents stretched for blocks.

    At the same time, the city was locking and removing bathrooms to help control the rampant drug and prostitution trade they’d spawned. Hepatitis A is transmitted through contact with feces from an infected person, and in close, unsanitary conditions, the highly contagious virus can spread explosively. So it was only a matter of time, experts say, before cases would surge among the homeless.

    “I’m not so much surprised it occurred, but surprised it didn’t occur earlier,” said Dr. Robert Schooley, who chairs the division of infectious diseases at the University of California, San Diego, and currently serves as an informal health adviser to the city’s mayor. “In some ways, it was the perfect storm.”

    READ MORE: San Diego will power wash streets amid hepatitis outbreak

    Today, the tents are gone. There are clusters of newly installed portable toilets open and guarded 24 hours a day. More than 60 new hand-washing stations dot the city. Workers in hazmat suits spend mornings spraying bleach onto streets and sidewalks. Armies of nurses walk through encampments and even into riverbeds and canyons to offer the highly effective hepatitis A vaccine to homeless people. And on Monday, the first city-sanctioned homeless camp — with 200 four-person tents, security, showers, and bathrooms — is slated to open in a parking lot near Balboa Park.

    It’s an extraordinary campaign to control an outbreak that’s so far known to have stricken 481 and killed 17 here, mainly people who are homeless or drug users, or work with them. The city of San Diego had more than 5,600 homeless residents at last count, the fourth-largest population of any U.S. city, and many health officials fear the outbreak could worsen as new cases continue to surface.

    “I don’t expect this is going to be solved overnight,” said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, a UCLA professor who previously headed the LA County Department of Public Health. “It could take a year or more.”

    Doctors and nurses here are grappling with a population that’s extremely challenging to work with, or even find. Because homeless people are transient and receive little regular health care, even severe illnesses can go unnoticed and untreated for long periods. In the case of hepatitis A, this allows a carrier to keep spreading it. Issues such as mental illness and a deep culture of mistrust of the government also make many homeless patients difficult to reach or reason with. Many routinely turn away offers of free vaccines or medical attention.

    “This is new territory,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer. “It’s challenging on so many levels.”

    stat news

    A Homeless woman with her belongings in Downtown San Diego, CA on Tuesday, October 3, 2017. A Hepatitis A outbreak has killed numerous homeless people and sent hundreds to the hospital. Photo by Sandy Huffaker for STAT News

    The challenges became clear on Wednesday, when county public health nurse Paulina Bobenrieth and three fellow nurses set up outside a public restroom near city hall that’s often used by homeless people, and gently asked passers-by if they’d been vaccinated. They had plenty of takers; word has gotten out on the street about the outbreak and many are scared.

    “At the beginning, a lot of people said, ‘I don’t need that. I don’t do shots,’” Bobenrieth said. “Now people are really open to it.”

    “I come get a booster every month?” asked one man who’d been recently immunized. “No, just one time, in six months,” replied a police officer who specializes in homeless outreach and was accompanying the nurses.

    People sat before Bobenrieth, often parking carts filled with salvaged metal or sleeping bags, to roll up their sleeves. She gently cleaned dusty arms with alcohol wipes and administered the shots.

    Sixty-three-year-old William, who goes by the name “Dollar Bill,” rolled up his sleeve to expose a tanned, tattooed arm and winced as he was injected. He still seemed a little wary and doubtful it would help. “When you live on the streets, there is no protection,” he said. Still, he thanked Bobenrieth and listened as she told him, “Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.”

    The nurses kept an eye out for people who might be sick and need hospital care. “Have you been feverish? Do you feel nauseous?” Bobenrieth asked.

    But it was sometimes hard convincing people to go. One clearly sick man — “really yellow,” Bobenrieth said — refused to go to the hospital because he was worried about losing the recyclables he’d collected in his cart. A team member paid him for the recyclables out of her own pocket, but the man still refused to go. “You do what you have to do,” Bobenrieth said.

    READ MORE: Her office is Skid Row: a doctor tends to the staggering needs of the homeless

    That dedication is evident among more than nurses and doctors. Bobenrieth points to tiny Christina Huynh — homeless people call her “The Hammer” — a bathroom attendant who unlocks the doors, enforces the two-minute time limit, and, since the outbreak began, has been disinfecting the bathrooms three to four times during her shift.

    “I don’t dilute the bleach,” she said. “I spray so much I get dizzy. But I have to.”

    Overall, the county has vaccinated more than 54,000 people at risk of hepatitis — on the streets and at clinics, social service agencies, the central library, jails, and emergency rooms. The campaign has reached so many people that health workers find they are talking to many folks who already have Band-Aids on their upper arms.

    stat news

    Homeless persons wash their hands at portable restroom stations set-up in Downtown San Diego, CA on Tuesday, October 3, 2017. A Hepatitis A outbreak has killed numerous homeless people and sent hundreds to the hospital. Photo by Sandy Huffaker for STAT News

    While the conditions were ripe here for a hepatitis A outbreak, its arrival still came as a surprise. There have been very few outbreaks of the virus — other than a handful related to contaminated imported foods — since the hepatitis A vaccine became available in 1999, and fewer still since 2006, when it became a universally recommended childhood vaccine, said Dr. Monique Foster, a medical epidemiologist who runs the division of viral hepatitis for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    (By coincidence, the world’s premier infectious diseases meeting, IDWeek, is being held in San Diego this week; conference organizers took the opportunity to add a late-breaking session so experts, including Foster, could discuss the outbreak.)

    Though the virus does show up in the U.S. among travelers and gay men, hepatitis A, which is rarely fatal and does not cause chronic liver disease, has not been largely on the public health radar. “There’s been so much focus on hepatitis B and C over the past few years, hepatitis A has been kind of the neglected virus,” UC San Diego’s Schooley said.

    The disease causes mild to serious illness and is spread by the ingestion of even microscopic amounts of infected feces. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, diarrhea, yellow skin and eyes, and urine so dark it looks like Coca-Cola.
    The San Diego strain is not the one typically found in the United States, said Foster, but is a strain called 1B that appears to be spreading here. It is not necessarily more virulent, she said, just hitting hard in an already weakened homeless population.

    Many of the 17 hepatitis deaths occurred in people who already had liver disease, said Dr. Eric McDonald, who directs San Diego County’s Epidemiology and Immunization Services Branch. Hospitalizations occurred in many cases because victims were older and already ill or weak.

    The virus has been challenging to stem because of its long, 50-day incubation period, meaning someone can be carrying and spreading it for weeks before it’s detected. The county is now seeing about 20 new cases a week, meaning the outbreak may have plateaued, but Wooten said she won’t be sure until she sees another month of data.

    Meanwhile, the outbreak has spread out of San Diego as infected people travel to new cities. Foster said the CDC has issued a nationwide public health alert because the same strain found in San Diego has sickened people in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, Calif., and now a homeless shelter in Maricopa County, Arizona, and is linked to patients in Colorado, Utah, and Rhode Island as well. Wooten has been busy fielding calls from fellow public health officers around the country asking what they should do.

    state news

    Nurse Cheri Cuatico gives a Hepatitis A vaccine to a Homeless man in Downtown San Diego, CA on Wednesday, October 4, 2017. A Hepatitis A outbreak has killed numerous homeless people and sent hundreds to the hospital. Photo by Sandy Huffaker for STAT News

    San Diego’s response is seen as flawed by a number of critics, including some of its homeless residents. Tammy, 49, red-haired, sunburned, and missing a few teeth, was one of the early cases. She contracted hepatitis A in May while living in one of the denser homeless encampments and was hospitalized for five days. “What do you expect?” she said. “There was no place to go to the bathroom.”

    Tammy was extremely weak, sick, unable to keep any food down, and “yellow as a daisy,” said her partner, Benjamin. But in some ways, things are worse now. Tammy and Benjamin and almost everyone else living in the long cluster of tents they used to call home have been jailed or kicked out, they said.

    On a recent night, she and Benjamin hovered a few blocks away, with their belongings neatly tucked into a shopping cart and their two dogs in a stroller. They warily watched for cops as they waited until dark so they could pop open their tent and climb inside with their pets. They planned to be up and out by 4:30 a.m.

    “I am so done,” said an exhausted Tammy. “I knew they had to clean up the place, but they went about it the wrong way.”

    Perching on his bike as he commuted home through the homeless encampments, San Diego Councilmember David Alvarez looked around. “It’s very strange. Where is everyone?”

    Alvarez was outside a new cluster of portable bathrooms with a hand-washing station with no one in sight, save for a lone security guard who’d only seen a handful of people use the bathrooms during his entire shift. (Bathrooms in other areas are seeing heavier use, say the guards — and often getting their toilet paper, a luxury on the street, stolen.)

    Alvarez, a vocal critic of both Mayor Kevin Faulconer and county officials, has been urging the city to shelter the homeless in properties such as a vacant former public library, the old convention center, or the 160 acres of parking lots and shower-rich training facilities left behind when the San Diego Chargers moved north to Los Angeles.

    He’s worried that the rousting and cleanup prompted by the outbreak has forced homeless people into hiding in canyons, river beds, parks, and vacant lots — taking their belongings, as well as the virus, with them.

    “It’s shocking to me,” said Alvarez. “Which begs the question, given the hep A situation, does it make sense to spread them all over the place?”

    Michael McConnell is a local coin dealer who became a homeless advocate as he saw the homeless population increase year after year. He called the city’s response to the outbreak almost laughable and noted that there had been massive tents set up to shelter homeless people — until the mayor ordered them taken down in 2015.

    “They’re playing whack-a-mole with all these encampments,” McConnell said. “It’s totally a man-made disaster. They created an environment for hep A to fester.” Putting people in temporary tents is just a Band-Aid, he said, when efforts need to be made to get people permanently off the streets.

    The outbreak has led to a lot of finger-pointing between local officials and between city and county departments that are responsible for health, safety, and sanitation. The mayor has called his response immediate and comprehensive.

    state news

    Michael McConnel walks the streets next to homeless camps in Downtown San Diego, CA on Tuesday, October 3, 2017. A Hepatitis A outbreak has killed numerous homeless people and sent hundreds to the hospital. Photo by Sandy Huffaker for STAT News

    For the last four years, Jeannette, 69, who hails from Georgia and her husband, Benny, a former marine, have spent each night outside a collision shop. They haven’t been bothered, she said, because she keeps the sidewalk clean for the owner. Every morning, she picks up waste by hand and empties buckets of bleach onto the sidewalk.

    “We used to have port-a-potties out here, but they took them away after they found a couple of dead ones in there,” she said. “Now I find buckets full of needles and feces.”

    Some health officials speculate that one trigger of the outbreak might have been the state’s plastic bag ban, which went into effect in November. What had once been a practice of last resort — defecating in a plastic bag and tossing it in the trash — is no longer an option. (The first recorded hepatitis A case occurred at the end of November.)

    The outbreak may be bringing much-needed attention to such grim realities. “This is a warning shot that homelessness is something we can’t ignore,” said Dr. Jeffrey Norris, the medical director for a health center embedded within Father Joe’s Villages, a charity that provides food, shelter, and medical care for San Diego’s homeless.

    Norris was shaken when one of his patients died of hepatitis A in June. “It’s really getting to the fact that if you don’t deal with the homeless situation, you’re going to have a public health crisis, a social crisis, and a political crisis on your hands,” he said. “The unintended consequences are huge.”

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Oct. 6, 2017. Find the original story here.

    The post An outbreak waiting to happen: hepatitis A marches through San Diego’s homeless community appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Come as you are Berlin dance

    In “Come as You Are” — directed by Berlin-based choreographer Nir de Volff — three dancers recount how the war in Syria started. Photo ® Bernhard Musil

    BERLIN — A group of Syrian dancers is going on tour across Germany with a show that tells of the plight that made them flee their homeland and of the hopes they have for the future.

    In “Come as You Are” — directed by Berlin-based choreographer Nir de Volff — the three refugees recount how the war in Syria started, their escape and journey through Europe and what it is like finding their dancing feet in a new country.

    “In 10 years, Syrians will lead some German companies. Syrians will be the directors of German theatres and Syrian musicians will play in the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra,” says one of the dancers, Medhat Aldaabal, swaying back and forth with closed eyes, flanked by two other dancers as they practice on an otherwise empty stage in the German capital.

    He continues: In 10 years “we give workshops in Syria, we will speak perfect German and travel around the world on our German passports.”

    Aldaabal and one of the other dancers, Moufak Aldoabl, fled to Germany in 2015, as part of a wave of nearly 1million migrants that entered the country that year. The third dancer, Amr Karkout, came earlier this year.

    come as you are syrian dance

    An image from “Come as You Are,” directed by Berlin-based choreographer Nir de Volff. Photo ® Bernhard Musil

    In Syria they were all professional dancers. Aldaabal graduated from the Higher Institute of Drama and Art in Damascus in 2014 and traveled across Syria with a dance company.

    But, their skills didn’t translate easily in the German capital, known for its avant-garde culture and a highly competitive and international dance scene.

    “Dance in Syria is very homogenous and based on ballet,” the softly spoken Aldaabal says in the performance as the other two dancers pirouette behind him. “Ballet, ballet, ballet…”

    De Volff met the dancers in 2015. He was one of the thousands of people who volunteered time and money to help the new migrants find their way in German society.

    “Come as You Are” is the fruition of hours of sitting together, talking, taking notes and discussing. In part, it highlights their development as performers.

    “We are doing this to show people how much we have changed since coming to Berlin — how much we have changed and developed and how many things we have learned,” Aldaabal said.

    The show also deals with the sometimes mundane details of life as a migrant: Applying for work, finding a home and missing your family and friends who are somewhere else.

    The performers mostly speak English, but break into German when talking about the agency tasked with helping unemployed people in Germany find work, or Arabic when talking about their upbringing and families.

    “The whole show is actually about their adaptation process,” de Volff said. “It is not just about how happy they are to be in Europe, in a safe zone, but it is also about the difficulties of changing your physical habits and cultural codes.”

    The show has run twice in Berlin and is starting a German tour in late October, with the first stop in Leipzig.

    De Volff said the experience of the dancers as migrants can resonate with people around the world, and he hopes to take the show on an international tour soon.

    “This project is much beyond artistic mission. It is a simple human mission,” he said. “To show empathy and to show understanding.”

    The post Syrian dancers perform show about migration in Berlin appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks during FBI Director James Comey's appearance before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTS14Z2C

    Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks during FBI Director James Comey’s appearance before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation” on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on May 3, 2017. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — California Democrat Dianne Feinstein is giving her strongest hints so far that she’s going to seek a fifth full Senate term in 2018.

    She tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “I’m ready for a good fight. I’ve got things to fight for.”

    Feinstein is age 84 — and is the oldest current senator.

    She’s been publicly noncommittal about a 2018 run, and when she was asked in a recent television interview whether she was “up for another six years,” she replied: “Well, we will see, won’t we.”

    But Feinstein is telling NBC that she’s “in a position where I can be effective, and hopefully that means something to California.”

    Feinstein, who had a pacemaker implanted in January, joined the Senate in 1992 after winning a special election.

    The post California Democrat Feinstein hints at Senate re-election run appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A group of more than 40 white nationalists on Saturday night returned to Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, nearly two months after protests there erupted in violence over the removal of a Confederate statue.

    The city’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, which has been hindered by court challenges, led to a larger “Unite the Right” demonstration in August by people affiliated with the so-called “alt-right” and neo-Nazi groups.

    One person died on Aug. 12 after being struck by a car that plowed through a crowd of counter-demonstrators. James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old from Ohio, was charged with second-degree murder in the incident. Two members of the Virginia State Police who were monitoring the protests were also killed after their helicopter crashed nearby.

    On Saturday night, several dozen people with ties to the so-called “alt-right” met again at the park where the statue now sits covered, some carrying tiki torches. The group, led by self-described “alt-right” leader and white nationalist Richard Spencer, met for about 15 minutes chanting, “You will not replace us.”

    Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer condemned the march on Twitter as, “another despicable visit by neo-Nazi cowards.”

    The city’s vice-mayor, Wes Bellamy, said it was “clear that these white supremacists are using torches, fire, and hate speech to intimidate our citizens. That’s a crime.”

    The post White nationalists return to protest at Charlottesville park appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    General view of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara

    General view of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, December 20, 2016. Photo by Umit Bektas/Reuters

    ISTANBUL — The U.S. said Sunday it was suspending non-immigrant visa services at its diplomatic facilities in Turkey following the arrest of a consulate employee, prompting Turkey to halt visa services in the U.S.

    The U.S. Embassy in the capital of Ankara tweeted a statement from the U.S. Mission to Turkey saying that recent events have forced it to “reassess the commitment of the Government of Turkey to the security of U.S. Mission facilities and personnel.”

    The Turkish Embassy in Washington responded with a similar statement on Twitter late Sunday and said it would “reassess the commitment of the Government of the United States to the security of Turkish mission facilities and personnel.” It said the measures would apply to e-Visas, visas issued at borders and visas in passports.

    This week, Turkish authorities arrested a U.S. Consulate employee of Turkish nationality for alleged links to the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the Turkish government blames for last summer’s failed coup. Gulen denies involvement.

    Metin Topuz is accused of espionage and “attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and constitution.” Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency reported that he allegedly communicated with former police chiefs in a 2013 corruption probe, 121 people involved in the attempted coup and hundreds of people using an encrypted mobile messaging application. The U.S. Embassy said it was “deeply disturbed” by the arrest.

    Hamza Ulucay, a translator of the U.S. Consulate in the southern province of Adana, was arrested in March for alleged links to outlawed Kurdish militants.

    The U.S. statement said the suspension of non-immigrant visa services was “effective immediately” to minimize visitor numbers to the U.S. Embassy and Consulate for now. The suspended services will affect business, tourism, medical treatment, student, exchange visitor, crew member, media and journalist, treaty trader, diplomatic and official visas.

    Relations between Turkey and the U.S. have been tense over disagreements on Syrian Kurdish militants, which the U.S. backs in the war against the Islamic State group. Turkey considers them a terror group and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, which has waged an insurgency within Turkey’s borders for more than 30 years.

    An infamous brawl during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to DC in May led to an indictment charging 19 people, including 15 Turkish security officials, of conspiracy to commit a crime of violence. Erdogan called the indictment “scandalous” and said his security detail was protecting him against Kurdish militants protesting outside his ambassador’s residence.

    U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for over 20 years, has also been behind bars for a year for alleged links to Gulen. Last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the U.S. was pressing Turkey to return a “cleric” while refusing to hand over another “cleric.”

    More than 50,000 people have been arrested and 110,000 have been fired from government jobs as part of a state of emergency declared after the failed coup in Turkey.

    The post U.S. and Turkey suspend bilateral non-immigrant visa services appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FILE PHOTO: 89th Academy Awards - Oscars Red Carpet Arrivals

    Harvey Weinstein appears at the 89th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, on February 26, 2017. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — A Democratic senator says it “probably makes sense” for all arms of the party that have received contributions from disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein to return it or donate it to charity.

    Some congressional Democrats have started to give charities thousands of dollars in donations from Weinstein — after a New York Times report detailed he settled sexual harassment lawsuits with at least eight women.

    Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut says “this is a pretty bad guy who did some really awful things.”

    READ NEXT: Democrats give political donations from Harvey Weinstein away to charities

    Murphy notes that politicians collect large sums in contributions.

    He adds: “I don’t require a background check to contribute to my campaign. And so there are probably lots of people with unsavory backgrounds and pasts who have given to both Democrats and Republicans.”

    The post Democratic senator says it ‘makes sense’ to reject Weinstein contributions appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    By Melanie Saltzman and Megan Thompson

    MEGAN THOMPSON: It’s 8:30 in the morning at the jail in Louisville, Kentucky. For these prisoners, every day starts with something called a morning meditation.

    They’re part of the jail’s voluntary drug treatment program called “Enough is Enough.” Like most in the program, Shanna Sermon is struggling with an addiction to opioids like pain pills and heroin.

    SHANNA SERMON: The more painful something is to talk about, the more important it is to bring it out for discussion.

    SHANNA SERMON: It’s the– my most favorite part of the day. I’ve never been much of a morning person. And we have goals. We say what we’re grateful for. It gets use to being up early. It gets us use to becoming a habit of what we’re supposed to be doing.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Sermon says she started drinking and taking pills when she was only ten-years-old, and eventually became addicted to heroin. She tried going to a treatment clinic, but kept using anyway.

    Arrested for burglary, this is Sermon’s 16th time behind bars — but she says this time, jail saved her life.

    SHANNA SERMON: I didn’t really think I would ever find this kind of help. But to find it in a jail – you know, when I try to explain to the new girls that come in that you know, there’s hope.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: The Enough is Enough program lasts at least 90 days, and participants are housed in four dormitories — one for women and three for men. They’re kept separate from the general population where contraband drugs are more common…Because in here, the inmates hold each other accountable for their behavior.

    There’s a strict daily schedule of meetings and therapy and classes… on changing the way you think and act. Some taught by the prisoners themselves.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: And like a growing number of jails across the country, the Louisville jail now offers inmates the option of a vivitrol injection at the end of their sentence. It’s a medication – heavily marketed to jails and drug courts – that blocks a person’s ability to get high.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: This is a corrections facility. It’s not a healthcare facility. So, I mean, is this the right place to be doing this work?

    STEVE DURHAM: It’s not a detox center. It’s not a mental health facility. It’s not an emergency room. But it is.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Steve Durham is the jail’s assistant director.

    STEVE DURHAM: It was a challenge that was given to us by what was happening in this community. And what we said is we’re not gonna do nothing. We’re gonna do something.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Kentucky is one of the states hit hardest by the nation’s opioid epidemic. In 2015, it had the third highest drug overdose death rate, driven by opioids.

    In the Louisville area alone, the number of opioid overdose deaths increased by 40 percent between 2015 and 2016.

    Durham blames the opioid epidemic for the jail’s population surge in recent years. The jail has 1,800 beds but there are 2,300 people here now, so many sleep in cots on the floor.

    STEVE DURHAM: It’s the same old crimes, but it’s really driven by substance abuse. And if we look at it, we drill into it, we’re really seeing the impact of heroin use.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Durham says 85 percent of his prisoners are struggling with substance abuse.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: And 60 percent of those who go through this jail’s detox program arrive addicted to opioids.

    KENNETH WRIGHT: Jail’s supposed to be punitive, so to speak, but we don’t come from it, from that approach. We look at people as humans, not as inmates.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Ken Wright runs the jail treatment program. Wright says addressing drug issues in a jail setting just makes sense.

    KENNETH WRIGHT: Well, first of all, you have a captive audience. They can’t go anyplace. Everybody wants to change. They just don’t know how to change.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Despite the high levels of drug abuse among the jail population nationwide, few U.S. jails offer drug treatment programs. They don’t allocate the funds or have the physical space. And jails that do provide treatment struggle to meet the demand. In Louisville, there are only 64 beds dedicated to the program.

    Doctor Joshua Lee studies opioid addiction in jails and says providing prisoners treatment is essential. That’s because when people confined to jail for weeks or months withdraw from drugs, their tolerance is lowered — which increases the chance of an overdose when they leave.

    JOSHUA LEE: They go usually right back to using heroin. The weren’t offered enough treatment or any treatment. And when that happens, their tolerance has been decreased and the risk of overdose is quite high So, if you’re not doing anything to mitigate that risk or to treat the disorder itself, you’re kind of blowing it in terms of a public health opportunity.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: In Kentucky, 23 of the state’s 80 jails offer drug treatment.

    Between 2012 and 2016, the number of inmates here detoxing from opiates tripled – from around 2000 to 6000. Authorities say the numbers are on track to be even worse this year.

    On any given day, as many as 120 new prisoners are identified in need of detoxing. After being searched, they’re sent to one of the drug treatment dorms. A key part of the “Enough is Enough” program is that participants monitor and care for those going through withdrawal.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Todd Lega helps monitor the new inmates. He’s a recovering heroin addict who’s been to jail 14 times.

    TODD LEGA: It’s definitely changed me. I actually care about people now. It will never let me forget that that’s where I was at. I can relate. So I have a lot of empathy and sympathy toward the newcomer.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Before jail on the outside, had you ever tried to seek help?

    TODD LEGA: I was court ordered one time. I didn’t want no help, I didn’t think I needed help. I didn’t take it seriously. I was high in the meetings, groups.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: While people like Lega have been able to get clean here in jail, Ken Wright says sobriety is a challenge when the 24/7 safety net is gone.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Have you seen people complete the Enough is Enough
    program and then come back in?

    KEN WRIGHT: Yes. Unfortunately, relapse is a reality.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: What are the biggest challenges implementing this treatment in jail?

    KEN WRIGHT: Well, there’s not enough resources in the community once they leave. That’s the biggest challenge. So if those needs are not met immediately, they will revert back to what’s familiar to them. They live very destructive– type of life. They cry out for failure. And sometimes, we just don’t have ’em long enough for them to be successful.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: The Louisville jail doesn’t collect follow up data on participants in its drug treatment program once they leave the jail.

    But the Kentucky department of corrections reports that, statewide, half the people who went through a substance abuse program in jail say they stayed off illegal drugs for at least a year following their release. Three-quarters say they regularly attended alcoholics and narcotics anonymous meetings.

    Since Bridget Wilder got out of the Louisville jail a year ago, she’s stayed clean and attends a-a meetings every week. She has a steady job to support herself and her two kids and is also pursuing an associate’s degree.

    BRIDGET WILDER: You know, I can’t wait to wake up in the morning, because I’m just ready to live, you know? Like, it’s never been like that.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Where do you think you’d be today if you hadn’t had treatment in jail?

    BRIDGET WILDER: I’d probably be dead.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Wilder says medication was a crucial part of her recovery. Before leaving jail, she received two injections of vivitrol. Then, outside the jail, Wilder had seven more monthly injections at a free community health clinic.

    In Louisville, jail officials educate the inmates about vivitrol with videos and reading materials. But some experts worry about the growing use of vivitrol in jails.

    ANDREW KOLODNY: We’re seeing a treatment that doesn’t have strong evidence supporting its use being over-promoted.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Doctor Andrew Kolodny directs the Opioid Policy Research collaborative at Brandeis University. Kolodny would rather see doctors prescribe two other drugs that have been around longer – buprenorphine and methadone. They have much more data supporting their effectiveness for treating opioid addiction.

    ANDREW KOLODNY: We have effective medicines that could be saving lives. And not enough people are accessing them. We should be giving them the treatment that we know will give them the best shot at survival and at a good quality of life. We know what works. And we shouldn’t be gambling with vivitrol on that population.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Joshua Lees thinks differently.

    JOSHUA LEE: Is vivitrol better than nothing? Absolutely. I think all the three medications should be used routinely, commonly, and with as little barriers to access as possible in community treatment and criminal justice systems.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Vivitrol is not an opioid, but buprenorphine and methadone are. And that concerns Steve Durham. He doesn’t want narcotics in his jail.

    STEVE DURHAM:
    So they have the potential for abuse. They have the potential to be used as contraband, they have the potential to become barter inside a detention facility. And most detention facilities are hesitant to do that.

    MEGAN THOMPSON: Shanna Sermon wants to get the vivitrol injection before she leaves. She also hopes the jail’s social worker can find her a spot right away in a residential treatment program, because she knows staying clean is going to be hard.

    SHANNA SERMON: I’m really nervous, but I’m excited. I’m excited because I’ve seen what this has done for me in here. I can’t wait to get the real aspect of it outside.

    The post In Kentucky, jail is becoming an addict’s last-resort rehab appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FILE PHOTO: 89th Academy Awards - Oscars Red Carpet Arrivals

    Harvey Weinstein appears at the 89th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, on February 26, 2017. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    NEW YORK (AP) — Harvey Weinstein, the sharp-elbowed movie producer whose combative reign in Hollywood made him an Academy Awards regular, was terminated from The Weinstein Company on Sunday following an expose that detailed decades of sexual abuse allegations made against Weinstein by actresses and employees.

    In a statement, the company’s board of directors announced his termination Sunday night, capping the swift downfall of one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers and expelling him from the company he co-created.

    “In light of new information about misconduct by Harvey Weinstein that has emerged in the past few days, the directors of The Weinstein Company — Robert Weinstein, Lance Maerov, Richard Koenigsberg and Tarak Ben Ammar — have determined, and have informed Harvey Weinstein, that his employment with The Weinstein Company is terminated, effective immediately,” the company’s board said in a statement on Sunday night.

    Weinstein had previously taken an indefinite leave of absence following the revelation of at least allegations of sexual harassment uncovered in an expose Thursday by The New York Times. The board on Friday endorsed that decision and announced an investigation into the allegations, saying it would determine the co-chairman’s future with the company.

    READ MORE: Democratic senator says it ‘makes sense’ to reject Weinstein contributions

    But the Weinstein Co. board, which includes Weinstein’s brother, went further on Sunday, firing the executive who has always been its primary operator, public face and studio chief. Under his leadership, the Weinstein Co. has been a dominant force at the Oscars, including the rare feat of winning back-to-back best picture Academy Awards with “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist.” In recent years, however, Weinstein’s status has diminished because of money shortages, disappointing box-office returns and executive departures.

    An attorney for Weinstein didn’t immediately return messages Sunday.

    A spokesperson for The Weinstein Co. declined to provide further details on Weinstein’s firing. Messages left for attorney John Keirnan of the firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, who had been appointed to lead an investigation, weren’t immediately returned Sunday.

    Weinstein on Thursday issued a lengthy statement that acknowledged causing “a lot of pain.” He also asked for “a second chance.” But Weinstein and his lawyers also criticized The New York Times’ report in statements and interviews, and vowed an aggressive response. The New York Times said it was “confident in the accuracy of our reporting.”

    The allegations triggered cascading chaos at the Weinstein Co. Numerous members of its all-male board have stepped down since Thursday. The prominent attorney Lisa Bloom withdrew from representing Weinstein, as did another adviser, Lanny Davis.

    The New York Times article chronicled sexual harassment settlements Weinstein made with film star Ashley Judd and former employees at both The Weinstein Co. and Weinstein’s former company, Miramax. Weinstein made his name with Miramax, the company he founded with his brother Bob in 1979. They sold it to Disney in 1993 for $60 million. The company was a fixture of the 1990s independent film movement, launching the careers of filmmakers Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith and Steven Soderbergh, and winning best picture with “Shakespeare in Love” and “The English Patient.”

    The allegations triggered cascading chaos at the Weinstein Co. Numerous members of its all-male board have stepped down since Thursday. The prominent attorney Lisa Bloom, daughter of well-known Los Angeles women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, on Saturday withdrew from representing Weinstein, as did another adviser, Lanny Davis.

    Pressure to act continued to mount on the board as more developments followed. Congressional Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, donated to charities thousands of dollars in donations they had received from Weinstein.

    TV anchor Lauren Sivan on Friday detailed an alleged 2007 encounter with Weinstein in a HuffPost report. Sivan, then working at a New York cable channel, Long Island 12, alleged that Weinstein cornered her in the hallway of a Manhattan restaurant closed to the public and masturbated in front of her.

    Sivan said she had rejected an attempt by Weinstein to kiss her. “Well, can you just stand there and shut up,” she claims he responded.

    Bob Weinstein and David Glasser, chief operating officer, are now running The Weinstein Co. But it remains to be seen not only if the company can continue without its prominent producer but also whether it can weather questions of culpability in its former co-chairman’s behavior. In reaction to Thursday’s report, many in Hollywood called Weinstein’s behavior “an open secret.” The settlement funds paid out also may have come from The Weinstein Co.

    Column: Why macho culture is bad for business

    The company has attempted to continue with business as usual, including a promotional event Sunday night for its 2017 awards hopeful, the indie hit thriller “Wind River.” While it has a handful of films scheduled for release in the coming months, much of the company’s business has recently angled toward television, producing shows like “Project Runway”

    Many in the movie industry vented their disgust with the allegations against Weinstein in recent days, including Lena Dunham and Brie Larson. For them, the allegations against Weinstein not only compare to those against Bill Cosby and Roger Ailes, but reflect Hollywood’s deep-rooted gender inequality. Imbalances in pay between actors and actresses and the continued paucity of women directors behind the camera for the biggest productions have been ongoing issues in Hollywood.

    Still most of the A-listers that Weinstein led to Academy Awards nominations have been largely silent since Thursday’s report. On Sunday night, others celebrated Weinstein’s exit.

    “If even 1/10th of the stories about Harvey Weinstein are true (and I believe they are), then good riddance,” said “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn, who added an expletive. “The enabling needs to end.”

    The post Film producer Harvey Weinstein ousted from Weinstein Co. amid reports of sexual harassment appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he arrives at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid - HP1ED9I129WKQ

    President Donald Trump told congressional leaders on Sunday that his hard-line immigration priorities must be enacted in exchange for extending protection from deportation to hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, many of whom were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Photo by REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told congressional leaders on Sunday that his hard-line immigration priorities must be enacted in exchange for extending protection from deportation to hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, many of whom were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

    Trump’s list of demands included overhauling the country’s green-card system, a crackdown on unaccompanied minors entering the country, and building his promised wall along the southern border.

    Many were policies Democrats have said explicitly are off the table and threaten to derail ongoing negotiations over legislation protecting young immigrants known as “Dreamers.” They had been given a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the country under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which Trump ended last month.

    Poll: Most Americans say ‘dreamers’ should be granted citizenship

    In a letter to House and Senate leaders released by the White House, Trump said the priorities were the product of a “a bottom-up review of all immigration policies” that he had ordered “to determine what legislative reforms are essential for America’s economic and national security.

    “These findings outline reforms that must be included as part of any legislation addressing the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients,” he wrote, adding that: “Without these reforms, illegal immigration and chain migration, which severely and unfairly burden American workers and taxpayers, will continue without end.”

    Trump announced last month that he was ending the DACA program, but he gave Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix before recipients began to lose their status. Trump suggested at the time that he was eager for a deal, telling reporters, “I have a love for these people and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly.”

    He’d also tweeted that if Congress was unwilling to find a fix, he would “revisit this issue!” in six months.

    Trump had previously said he wanted a DACA deal to include significant money for border security and eventual funding for his border wall. But the priorities released by the White House went far beyond that.

    Trump had previously said he wanted a DACA deal to include significant money for border security and eventual funding for his border wall. But the priorities released by the White House went far beyond that.

    They included a complete overhaul of the green-card system that would limit family-based green cards to spouses and the minor children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents as part of an effort to end what is known as “chain migration.”

    The White House also said it wants to boost fees at border crossings, hire 10,000 more immigration enforcement officers, make it easier to deport gang members and unaccompanied children, and overhaul the asylum system. And it wants new measures to crack down on “sanctuary cities,” which don’t share information with federal immigration authorities, among other proposals.

    “These priorities are essential to mitigate the legal and economic consequences of any grants or status to DACA recipients,” White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told reporters in a Sunday evening conference call. “We’re asking that these reforms be included in any legislation concerning the status of DACA recipients.”

    But it remained unclear whether the president considers each of the more than a dozen priorities to be non-negotiable or whether the White House sees them more as a starting point for negotiation with members of Congress. Officials on the call notably declined to say whether the president would veto legislation that did not include each and every one of them.

    WATCH: The deadlines, program lapses and other pressing issues facing Congress right now

    Trump last month appeared to reach at least the broad outlines of a DACA deal with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer in which he would agree to extend DACA protections in exchange for a package of border security measures.

    While Trump made clear that he was not backing down on his wall demand, he and other administration officials said then that they would be comfortable with wall funding coming later, in a separate legislative vehicle.

    In a joint statement Sunday night, Pelosi and Schumer said Trump’s list of proposals failed “to represent any attempt at compromise.”

    “The Administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans” they wrote. “The list includes the wall, which was explicitly ruled out of the negotiations. If the President was serious about protecting the Dreamers, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so.”

    Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said the president’s “draconian and anti-immigrant principles” threatened to jeopardize “the bi-partisan, bi-cameral progress that has been made to pass a legislative solution that will protect nearly 800,000 Dreamers.”

    “It is immoral for the President to use the lives of these young people as bargaining chips in his quest to impose his cruel, anti-immigrant and un-American agenda on our nation,” she added in a statement.

    The demands could also divide Republicans, several of whom have introduced legislation providing a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers in exchange for less drastic changes.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokesman Doug Andres said the House immigration working group will review the list and consult with Republican members and the administration.

    The post Trump ties border wall, green card overhaul to ‘dreamer’ protection appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a briefing with senior military leaders at the White House in Washington, U.S.

    U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a briefing with senior military leaders at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas – RC19203CA580

    WASHINGTON — The White House is finalizing an executive order that would expand health plans offered by associations to allow individuals to pool together and buy insurance outside their states, a unilateral move that follows failed efforts by Congress to overhaul the health care system.

    President Donald Trump has long asserted that selling insurance across state lines would trigger competition that brings down premiums for people buying their own policies. Experts say that’s not guaranteed, partly because health insurance reflects local medical costs, which vary widely around the country.

    Moreover, White House actions may come too late to have much impact on premiums for 2018.

    Trump was expected to sign the executive order next week, likely on Thursday, a senior administration official said Sunday.

    Under the president’s executive action, membership groups could sponsor insurance plans that cost less because — for example — they wouldn’t have to offer the full menu of benefits required under the Affordable Care Act, also called “Obamacare.” It’s unclear how the White House plans to overcome opposition from state insurance regulators, who see that as an end-run to avoid standards.

    “There are likely to be legal challenges that could slow this effort down,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

    Similar alternatives have been promoted by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican holdout during the health care debate. Senate leaders didn’t bring the latest GOP health care bill to a vote because they lacked the votes to pass it.

    Association plans “kind of went away with the ACA, and now the idea seems to be to re-create them,” said Jeff Smedsrud, a health insurance marketing entrepreneur. “It’s not clear what they would really look like.”

    Smedsrud said a different option also under consideration by the White House, to loosen restrictions on “short term” insurance plans, could be a safety valve for some consumers.

    Those plans generally have limited benefits and remain in force for less than a year. During the Obama administration, the availability of short-term coverage was restricted. One of Smedsrud’s companies sells short-term plans.

    Others warned that over time the White House order could undermine state insurance markets created under Obama’s law, by siphoning off healthy people to plans with lower premiums and skinnier benefits.

    The order was being drafted as Trump expressed his willingness to work with Democrats on health care after Republicans were unable to approve legislation that would have repealed and replaced “Obamacare.”

    The president said Saturday that he had spoken to Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York to see if Democrats would want to collaborate with him on improving health care. He told reporters before departing for a North Carolina fundraiser that he was willing to consider a “temporary deal” and referred to a popular Republican proposal that would have the federal government turn over money for health care directly to states in the form of block grants.

    Schumer said through a spokesman Saturday that Trump “wanted to make another run at ‘repeal and replace’ and I told the president that’s off the table.” Schumer said if Trump “wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions.”

    It was unclear if the expected White House order could lead to changes sweeping enough and quick enough to help several million consumers exposed to higher premiums next year for their individual health insurance plans.

    It typically takes government agencies several months to carry out presidential directives, since they generally must follow a notice-and-comment process. Sign-up season for individual health insurance starts Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15.

    “Whether this executive order could impact the 2018 market is yet to be seen, since the health plans have created and priced their 2018 products already, and open enrollment begins in just three weeks,” said health industry consultant Robert Laszewski.

    While nearly 9 million consumers who receive tax credits under the Obama-era law are protected from higher premiums, about 6.7 million other customers with individual coverage get no subsidies and will bear the full brunt of cost increases that reach well into the double digits in many states.

    Many in this group are solid middle-class, including self-employed business people and early retirees. Cutting premiums for them has been a longstanding Republican political promise.

    “If the question is, is the president interested in working with Democrats to repeal and replace — that would be our language — the answer is yes,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said during an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ”The Democrats would use a different word for that, but the president wants to get something done.”

    Column: Here’s what’s wrong with the U.S. health care system

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    Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) speaks to reporters in May about recent revelations of President Donald Trump sharing classified information with Russian officials on in Washington, D.C. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) speaks to reporters in May about recent revelations of President Donald Trump sharing classified information with Russian officials on in Washington, D.C. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — An enraged President Donald Trump and a prominent Republican senator who fears the country could be edging toward “chaos” engaged in an intense and vitriolic back-and-forth bashing on social media Sunday, a remarkable airing of their party’s profound rifts.

    In political discourse that might once have seemed inconceivable, Sen. Bob Corker, the GOP’s foreign policy expert in the Senate, felt compelled to answer his president’s barbs by tweeting: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

    In an interview Sunday with The New York Times, Corker said Trump could set the U.S. “on the path to World War III” with threats toward other countries. Corker also said Trump acted as if he was on his old reality-TV show and that he concerned the senator, adding: “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”

    Corker also said his concerns about Trump were shared by nearly every Senate Republican, the paper reported.

    In a series of stinging tweets earlier in the day, Trump contended Corker:

    • Was “largely responsible for the horrendous” Iran nuclear deal, which the Democratic Obama administration negotiated and Corker considered badly flawed. The senator also tried to require that President Barack Obama submit the accord to Congress for approval.
    • Intended to obstruct the White House agenda, though he offered no evidence for saying he expected Corker “to be a negative voice.”
    • “Begged” for Trump’s endorsement in his 2018 re-election, then opted against seeking a third term when Trump declined, showing the senator “didn’t have the guts to run.” The Associated Press reported that Trump, in a private meeting in September, had urged Corker to run. Corker’s chief of staff, Todd Womack, said Sunday that Trump called Corker last Monday to ask that he reconsider his decision to leave the Senate. Trump “reaffirmed that he would have endorsed him, as he has said many times,” the aide said.
    • Wanted to be secretary of state, and “I said ‘NO THANKS,'” said Trump, who picked Exxon Mobil’s Rex Tillerson for that Cabinet post. Corker, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, was mentioned as a possible pick after the election.

    Trump added another tweet Sunday evening: “Bob Corker gave us the Iran Deal, & that’s about it. We need HealthCare, we need Tax Cuts/Reform, we need people that can get the job done!”

    Corker always had been one to speak his mind, and even before Sunday’s verbal volleys, his new free agent status promised to make Trump and the party nervous. Already, there was the prospect of even more elbow room to say what he wants and to vote how he pleases over the next 15 months as Trump and the party’s leaders on Capitol Hill struggle to get their agenda on track.

    Corker’s comments drew a rebuke Monday from White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, who said on “Fox & Friends” that she finds “tweets like this to be incredibly irresponsible.” She added that the president’s door is always open to speak with lawmakers privately.

    Not long before Trump’s tweeting, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “it’s going to be fun to work” with Corker, “especially now that he’s not running for re-election, because I think it sort of unleashes him to do whatever — and say whatever — he wants to say.”

    NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Jeff Greenfield joins Hari Sreenivasan from Santa Barbara, California, to discuss the internal party battles with the GOP.

    In his interview with the Times, Corker said: “Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” adding that “of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”

    Corker delivered a rebuke of the Trump White House after the president’s tweets scoffing at Tillerson’s diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis with North Korea. Corker said Tillerson, along with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House chief of staff John Kelly, are “those people that help separate our country from chaos.”

    And Corker will be at the center of what may be a stormy debate over the future of the Iran agreement. Trump’s hostility toward the deal has stoked concerns he’s aiming to dismantle the international accord despite Europe’s objections. Corker is opposed to scrapping the agreement outright.

    “You can only tear these things up one time,” Corker said. “It might feel good for a second. But one of the things that’s important for us is to keep our allies with us, especially our Western allies.”

    Corker is the latest Republican to face Trump’s wrath. The president in recent months has lit into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., over the failure of the GOP to repeal and replace Obama’s health care law, and specifically targeted Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, for their opposition to GOP health legislation.

    Corker, 65, announced last month that his second, six-year term would be his last.

    Corker in August delivered a blistering assessment of Trump in the wake of the president’s contentious remarks about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Corker said Trump hasn’t “demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation.”

    Trump fired back, tweeting that Corker’s comments were strange “considering that he is constantly asking me whether or not he should run again in ’18.

    Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.

    WATCH: Shields and Brooks on Las Vegas tragedy, Trump-Tillerson tensions

    The post What escalating tensions between Trump and Sen. Corker mean for the GOP appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    University of Chicago Booth School of Business economist Richard Thaler talks to his "Nudge" co-author Cass Sunstein via Skype from his living room after winning the 2017 Nobel economics prize, at his apartment in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Anne Ryan/University of Chicago via Reuters

    University of Chicago Booth School of Business economist Richard Thaler talks to his “Nudge” co-author Cass Sunstein via Skype from his living room after winning the 2017 Nobel economics prize, at his apartment in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Anne Ryan/University of Chicago via Reuters

    The 2017 Nobel prize in economics has been awarded to University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler for his work in behavioral economics.

    The Nobel committee called Thaler a “pioneer,” paving the way for a new field of study that looks at the intersection of economics and human psychology. Simply, the committee said Thaler “made economics more human.”

    “Thanks to his contributions and discoveries this new field has gone from being sort of a fringe and somewhat controversial part of economics to being a mainstream area of contemporary economic research,” Per Stromberg, the chairman of the Nobel Economics Sciences committee, said while announcing the prize Monday.

    Thaler was born in New Jersey in 1945 and completed his Ph.D. at the University of Rochester. He has taught at the University of Chicago for the past 22 years.

    In a phone call immediately following the announcement, Thaler said “to do good economics you have to keep in mind that people are human.” He added the most important impact of the prize is “the recognition that economic agents are human, and that economic models have to incorporate that.”

    “The idea that markets work perfectly is no longer tenable,” Thaler said in a 2015 interview with the Newshour.

    He used the example of his 2015 book, “Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics.” Traditional economists would argue if someone makes the decision to buy Thaler’s book, that is proof enough they want it at the given price. But Thaler said when his book is “on sale” for 30 percent off, people are more likely to buy it, even if they would not pay that price for it normally.

    “People love deals. They can be driven to purchase things that they don’t really want if the deal is good enough,” Thaler said.

    In economics, a theory has long prevailed that markets are based on people making rational choices. But behavioral economist Richard Thaler is seeking to prove that there is far more randomness to our financial decisions. Economics correspondent Paul Solman talked to Thaler to find out why we buy and to discuss Thaler’s new book, “Misbehaving.”

    The Nobel committee highlighted three of Thaler’s theories on human behavior: the limit of human rationality, the desire for fairness, and the lack of self-control in financial decisions.

    The first pattern, known as “bounded rationality,” builds on the theory that even if humans attempt to make rational decisions, they have limited cognitive ability and do not always make the most efficient economic decisions.

    The second pattern notes that even if people are guided by self-interest, they also have a social bias toward fairness.

    The third pattern is the belief that humans sometimes suffer from a lack of self-control.

    Thaler devised the “planner-doer model” for how economic models, which often assume people will make the most rational choice, can account for that lack of self-control.

    Thaler theorizes that both the “planner” and “doer” exists within all humans.

    To resolve the conflict between the long-term concerned “planner” and the short-term concerned “doer,” the planner can impose rules that limit the doer’s choices, such as only buying one pack of cigarettes at a time.

    Thaler has also advocated a concept he and his colleagues call “libertarian paternalism,” or economic policies that nudge people into making better economic decisions.

    One system Thaler designed for pensions, called “Save More Tomorrow” asks an individual to commit a share of future salary increases to savings. It worked. Those who participated in the program nearly quadrupled their rate of savings.

    As part of the Nobel prize, Thaler will receive $1.1 million. When asked how he would spend the money, Thaler joked, “I will try to spend it as irrationally as possible,” he said.

    Sweden’s central bank established the economics prize in 1968 in memory of Nobel Prize founder Alfred Nobel. Including Thaler, it has been awarded to 79 laureates since then.

    The post Richard Thaler earns Nobel prize for making ‘economics more human’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks during an interview for Reuters at his office in Washington, U.S., July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas - RTX3B1DQ

    Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks during an interview for Reuters at his office in Washington, U.S., July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas – RTX3B1DQ

    HAZARD, Ky. — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that he will sign a new rule overriding the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era effort to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

    “The war on coal is over,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt declared in the coal mining state of Kentucky.

    For Pruitt, getting rid of the Clean Power Plan will mark the culmination of a long fight he began as the elected attorney general of Oklahoma. Pruitt was among about two-dozen attorney generals who sued to stop President Barack Obama’s push to limit carbon emissions.

    Closely tied to the oil and gas industry in his home state, Pruitt rejects the consensus of scientists that man-man emissions from burning fossil fuels are the primary driver of global climate change. President Donald Trump, who appointed Pruitt and shares his skepticism of established climate science, promised to kill the Clean Power Plan during the 2016 campaign as part of his broader pledge to revive the nation’s struggling coal mines.

    In his order Tuesday, Pruitt is expected to declare that the Obama-era rule exceeded federal law by setting emissions standards that power plants could not reasonably meet.

    Appearing at an event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Pruitt said, “The EPA and no federal agency should ever use its authority to say to you we are going to declare war on any sector of our economy.”

    Obama’s plan was designed to cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule dictated specific emission targets for states based on power-plant emissions and gave officials broad latitude to decide how to achieve reductions.

    The Supreme Court put the plan on hold last year following legal challenges by industry and coal-friendly states.

    Even so, the plan helped drive a recent wave of retirements of coal-fired plants, which also are being squeezed by lower costs for natural gas and renewable power, as well as state mandates promoting energy conservation.

    The withdrawal of the Clean Power Plan is the latest in a series of moves by Trump and Pruitt to dismantle Obama’s legacy on fighting climate change, including the delay or roll back of rules limiting levels of toxic pollution in smokestack emissions and wastewater discharges from coal-burning power plants.

    The president announced earlier this year that he will pull the United States out of the landmark Paris climate agreement. Nearly 200 countries have committed to combat global warming by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

    Associated Press writer Michael Biesecker contributed to this report from Washington.

    WATCH:Trump launches aggressive campaign to dismantle Obama climate agenda

    The post EPA chief says White House to roll back Obama-era clean power plan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    diane feinstein

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asks questions during former FBI Director James Comey’s appearance before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in June on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election in Washington, D.C. Photo By Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a veteran California Democrat, said Monday that she’s running for another term.

    The 84-year-old took to Twitter to declare that “I’m all in.”

    “I am running for re-election to the Senate. Lots more to do: ending gun violence, combating climate change, access to health care,” Feinstein said.

    She would be running for her fifth full term. She joined the Senate in 1992 after winning a special election. She had a serious challenge in 1994 from wealthy GOP Rep. Michael Huffington but has cruised since.

    On Sunday, Feinstein told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “I’m ready for a good fight. I’ve got things to fight for.”

    Before coming to the Senate, Feinstein was a two-term mayor of San Francisco

    Feinstein is the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, where she has focused, often in futility, on gun control issues and immigration. She is also a senior member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, a post that has enabled her to tend to California’s needs, and the intelligence panel.

    She is an environmentalist but worked with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to broker an agreement on divisive Central Valley water issues that was opposed by former Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

    Feinstein, who had a pacemaker implanted in January, is the oldest senator in a chamber where it’s not uncommon for people to serve into their 80s.

    READ MORE: Feinstein wants ‘all-hands-on-deck’ Trump probe

    The post Sen. Dianne Feinstein says she’s running for re-election appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    NEW YORK — Russian operatives spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads across Google products, including YouTube and Google search, according to reports.

    The Washington Post is reporting that the technology behemoth uncovered the Russian-backed disinformation campaign as it considers whether to testify before Congress next month. Social media companies Facebook and Twitter have already agreed to testify.

    The report said the company discovered the Russian presence by siphoning data from Twitter. The Washington Post report is based on anonymous sources familiar with the investigation.

    In a statement, Google said it has a “set of strict ads policies including limits on political ad targeting and prohibitions on targeting based on race and religion.”

    “We are taking a deeper look to investigate attempts to abuse our systems, working with researchers and other companies, and will provide assistance to ongoing inquiries,” the statement continued.

    Facebook recently shared about 3,000 Russian-backed ads with Congress.

    U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed a disinformation campaign aimed at helping Donald Trump win the presidential election.

    READ MORE: A Russian propaganda group purchased ads on Facebook during the 2016 election. Here’s what that means

    The post Google uncovers ads bought by Russian operatives, report says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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