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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: The toll in the California wildfires is rising tonight, as search teams go through the charred ruins.

    Officials have confirmed now at least 29 deaths in a storm of fires that erupted Sunday night.

    Mina Kim of PBS member station KQED has our report.

    MINA KIM, KQED: Hour after hour, the flames keep marching across acre after acre of Northern California’s wine country. Some 8,000 firefighters spent a fourth day on the fire lines today, fearing forecasts of winds gusting to 45 miles an hour. But they may have caught a break.

    BARRY BIERMANN, Fire Chief, Napa County : The good news really is, the wind event that was predicted to blow through the night and today didn’t materialize quite the level as predicted. So that gave us a better opportunity to have more containment on our fires.

    We still have fire growth on some of our fire in different directions. We have a threat that is continuing in multiple areas, into structures.

    MINA KIM: The threat was enough that officials in Napa County have now evacuated the entire town of Calistoga, more than 5,000 people.

    MAYOR CHRIS CANNING, Calistoga, California: Please keep us in your thoughts. The Calistogans out there who are scattered around, stay strong.

    MINA KIM: Many of those Calistogans sought refugee at American Canyon High School in Southern Napa County.

    Karen Ingalls got a call at 4:30 yesterday morning from a neighbor, saying they were all being told to leave. She’s already lost her art studio in another city to the fire.

    KAREN INGALLS, Calistoga Resident: Sending up lots of prayers, asking for prayers from all my friends and family.

    MINA KIM: Donna Hardy came to the shelter with four of her neighbors.

    DONNA HARDY, St. Helena Resident: It’s depressing. I mean, it is. It’s depressing. And lots of times, you will think the worse. But if you’re sitting and having a good time, making new friends, it makes you hopeful.

    MINA KIM: In Sonoma County, where the Tubbs fire ravaged the city of Santa Rosa, families members are still searching for scores of loved ones. Yesterday, Jessica Tunis last speaking to her mother Sunday night.

    JESSICA TUNIS, Daughter of Victim: She’s coughing, coughing. And I’m telling her I love her. And she tells me she’s going to die, she can’t get out of her house, she’s going to die. And then the phone call drops, and I can’t get her back on the phone.

    MINA KIM: Tunis’ brother found her mother’s body in her Santa Rosa home.

    Sonoma Sheriff Robert Giordano says recovering victims is hard, grim work.

    ROBERT GIORDANO, Sheriff, Sonoma County: Identification is going to be hard. So far in the recoveries, we have found bodies that were almost completely intact, and we have bodies that were nothing more than ash and bones.

    We will do everything in power to locate all of the missing people, and I promise you that we will handle remains with care and get them back returned to their loved ones.

    MINA KIM: Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom visited the region today, and acknowledged the toll on life and property.

    LT. GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM, D-Calif.: The immediacy is addressing the urgency of mitigating loss of life, property damage, addressing the needs of people that are in crisis that have no place to go.

    MINA KIM: What caused the spate of fires is still under investigation. The San Jose Mercury News has reported that power lines sparked some of the fires, after they were blown down by gale-force winds.

    The reports say Sonoma County emergency dispatchers got calls about lines falling and transformers exploding shortly before the fires broke out Sunday night. The utility PG&E said high winds and vegetation growth — quote — “contributed to some trees, branches and debris impacting our electric lines across the North Bay.”

    As smoke clouds the sky here, and the fire battle goes on, officials are voicing concern that fires spreading from Sonoma County could merge with ones already burning here in Napa County.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Mina Kim in Napa County.

    The post California wildfire death toll rises as search teams return to the ruins appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) applauds as U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order to make it easier for Americans to buy bare-bones health insurance plans and circumvent Obamacare rules at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 12, 2017.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

    U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) applauds as U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order to make it easier for Americans to buy bare-bones health insurance plans and circumvent Obamacare rules at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque – RC15D5738E00

    WASHINGTON — In a move likely to roil America’s insurance markets, President Donald Trump will “immediately” halt payments to insurers under the Obama-era health care law he has been trying to persuade Congress to unravel for months.

    Before sunrise Friday morning, Trump went on Twitter to urge Democrats to make a deal: “The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding,” he wrote. “Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!”

    The Department of Health and Human Services had made the announcement in a statement late Thursday. “We will discontinue these payments immediately,” said acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan and Medicare administrator Seema Verma. Sign-up season for subsidized private insurance starts Nov. 1, in less than three weeks, with about 9 million people currently covered.

    In a separate statement, the White House said the government cannot legally continue to pay the so-called cost-sharing subsidies because they lack a formal authorization by Congress. Officials said a legal opinion from the Justice Department supports that conclusion.

    However, the administration had been making the payments from month to month, even as Trump threatened to cut them off to force Democrats to negotiate over health care. The subsidies help lower copays and deductibles for people with modest incomes.

    Halting the payments would trigger a spike in premiums for next year, unless Trump reverses course or Congress authorizes the money. The next payments are due around Oct. 20.

    The top two Democrats in Congress sharply denounced the Trump plan in a joint statement.

    “It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America,” said House and Senate Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi of California and Chuck Schumer of New York. “Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it.”

    In a subsequent tweet, Trump asserted, “Obamacare is a broken mess. Piece by piece we will now begin the process of giving America the great HealthCare it deserves.”

    The president’s action is likely to trigger a lawsuit from state attorneys general, who contend the subsidies to insurers are fully authorized by federal law, and say the president’s position is reckless.

    “We are prepared to sue,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “We’ve taken the Trump Administration to court before and won.”

    Word of Trump’s plan came on a day when the president had also signed an executive order directing government agencies to design insurance plans that would offer lower premiums outside the requirements of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

    Frustrated over setbacks in Congress, Trump is wielding his executive powers to bring the “repeal and replace” debate to a head. He appears to be following through on his vow to punish Democrats and insurers after the failure of GOP health care legislation.

    Trump, in a speech to conservative activists at the Values Voter Summit on Friday, vowed to keep pressuring members of Congress to pass health care legislation.

    “Congress, they forgot what their pledges were, so we’re going a little different route,” Trump said. “But you know what? In the end it’s going to be just as effective and maybe it will even be better.”

    Experts have warned that cutting off the money would lead to a double-digit spike in premiums, on top of increases insurers already planned for next year. That would deliver another blow to markets around the country already fragile from insurers exiting and costs rising. Insurers, hospitals, doctors’ groups, state officials and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have urged the administration to keep paying.

    Leading GOP lawmakers have also called for continuing the payments to insurers, at least temporarily, so constituents maintain access to health insurance. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., is working on such legislation with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.

    The cost-sharing subsidies can reduce a deductible of $3,500 to a few hundred dollars. Assistance is available to consumers buying individual policies; people with employer coverage are unaffected by the dispute.

    Nearly 3 in 5 HealthCare.gov customers qualify for help, an estimated 6 million people or more. The annual cost to the government is currently about $7 billion.

    But the subsidies have been under a legal cloud because of a dispute over whether the Obama health care law properly approved them. Adding to the confusion, other parts of the Affordable Care Act clearly direct the government to reimburse the carriers.

    For example, the ACA requires insurers to help low-income consumers with their copays and deductibles.

    And the law also specifies that the government shall reimburse insurers for the cost-sharing assistance that they provide.

    But there’s disagreement over whether the law properly provided a congressional “appropriation,” similar to an instruction to pay. The Constitution says the government shall not spend money unless Congress appropriates it.

    House Republicans trying to thwart the ACA sued the Obama administration in federal court in Washington, arguing that the law lacked the needed specific language.

    A district court judge agreed with House Republicans, and the case has been on hold before the U.S. appeals court in Washington.

    While the legal issue seems arcane, the impact on consumers would be real.

    The Congressional Budget Office estimated that premiums for a standard “silver” plan will increase by about 20 percent without the subsidies. Insurers can recover the cost-sharing money by raising premiums, since those are also subsidized by the ACA, and there’s no legal question about their appropriation.

    Consumers who receive tax credits under the ACA to pay their premiums would be shielded from those premium increases.

    But millions of others buy individual health care policies without any financial assistance from the government and could face prohibitive increases. Taxpayers would end up spending more to subsidize premiums.

    Associated Press Writers Ken Thomas and Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.

    READ MORE: 8 million kids could lose health insurance if the CHIP program isn’t renewed. Here’s what that looks like in one state

    The post Trump plans to ‘immediately’ stop ACA payments to insurers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, introduces Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, not pictured, at the start of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Sessions will warn at his confirmation hearing Tuesday of a "dangerous trend" in violent crime and vow to better defend police while tackling accusations that he'll gut civil rights, as he seeks to become President-elect Donald Trump's attorney general. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, introduces Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, not pictured, at the start of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Sessions will warn at his confirmation hearing Tuesday of a “dangerous trend” in violent crime and vow to better defend police while tackling accusations that he’ll gut civil rights, as he seeks to become President-elect Donald Trump’s attorney general. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    ROCKPORT, Maine — Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins announced Friday that she’s staying out of the Maine governor’s race because she believes she can do more good for the state by staying in Washington.

    “I am a congenital optimist. I continue to believe that Congress can, and will, be more productive,” Collins said at a local chamber breakfast. “I want to continue to play a key role in advancing policies that strengthen our nation, help our hardworking families, improve our health care system, and bring peace and stability to a troubled and violent world.”

    Speculation about Collins’ political future has been swirling for more than a year in her home state, where the moderate remains popular even as the Maine GOP has become more conservative.

    Collins, 64, has been a consistent thorn in the side of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as her willingness to go her own way has left him short of votes on key bills, most prominently his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It’s a role she’s embraced and one that she will continue to play in a Senate that, despite Collins’ optimistic statements, is likely to remain just as bitterly divided as ever in the years ahead.

    Collins has also been a champion for those who want to hold President Donald Trump in check: She was one of three Republican senators who sunk the Senate health care bill pushed by his administration. She also serves key roles on Appropriations Committee and the Intelligence Committee investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

    The only Republican senator from New England has found herself among a dwindling number of GOP centrists like Arizona’s John McCain who are willing to work across the aisle. She’s not afraid to buck her own party: She introduced a bill to let transgender people serve in the military and opposed efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.

    Collins, who has served for two decades in the Senate, was part of the Gang of 14 bipartisan senators that prevented the so-called nuclear option by Senate Republicans over an organized use of the filibuster by Senate Democrats.

    On Friday, she spent much of her announcement touting the importance of finding bipartisan solutions to make health care affordable for all. She said her fellow lawmakers “must stop allowing partisanship to be a pre-existing condition.”

    But her role has left her open to fire from both the right and the left.

    And she’s on the outs with Trump. She said she couldn’t bring herself to vote for him, and she criticized him for failing to speak out more forcefully against racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism following the death of a woman at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    Collins grew up in Caribou, in far northern Maine. One of the middle of six children, she learned the importance of hard work by age 10 while plucking potatoes from the dirt for 30 cents per barrel. The only political race she lost was for governor, in 1994.

    She has won her last few elections handily. She was re-elected with 68.5 percent of votes in 2014, 61.3 percent in 2008 and 58.4 percent in 2002. Her current term ends in 2020.

    Her decision will likely free more gubernatorial candidates who have been waiting on the sidelines to enter the race. Two-term Republican Gov. Paul LePage cannot run again because of term limits.

    The 2018 gubernatorial race could be a referendum on the legacy of LePage, whose administration slashed entitlement growth and touts a healthy state surplus. For all his successes, though, LePage is known for his bombastic leadership style.

    The gubernatorial race is already a crowded field, with more than a dozen members of the Republican and Democratic parties having announced primary runs. And campaigning is already essentially underway.

    Associated Press writers Patrick Whittle in Portland and Erica Werner in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post GOP’s Susan Collins to stay in Senate and ditch governor run appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    President Donald Trump spoke at the Values Voter Summit today. Watch the president’s remarks in the player above.

    President Donald Trump addressed the annual Values Voter Summit today, becoming the first sitting president to speak at the conservative conference.

    Trump has previously twice spoken at the event, which is being held in Washington, D.C. today: in 2015 as a presidential candidate and in 2016 as the GOP presidential nominee. The event is hosted by the Family Research Council and began in 2006.

    “After eight years enduring the Obama administration’s hostility toward everything from religious liberty to the unborn, values voters were eager to see President Trump accelerate the undoing of Obama’s policies,” FRC president Tony Perkins said in a column for Breitbart.

    PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.

    The post WATCH: Trump addresses the Values Voter Summit appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The entrance and logo of a Social Security Office in Pasadena, California. Photo by Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

    The entrance and logo of a Social Security Office in Pasadena, California. Photo by Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Millions of Social Security recipients and other retirees will get a 2 percent increase in benefits next year. It’s the largest increase since 2012 but comes to only $25 a month for the average beneficiary.

    The Social Security Administration announced the cost-of-living increase Friday.

    The COLA affects benefits for more than 70 million U.S. residents, including Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees. That’s about one in five Americans.

    By law, the COLA is based on a broad measure of consumer prices generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Advocates for seniors claim the inflation index doesn’t accurately capture rising prices faced by seniors, especially for health care.

    “It’s squeezing them. It’s causing them to dip into savings more quickly,” said Mary Johnson of The Senior Citizens League. “The lifetime income that they were counting on just isn’t there.”

    Some conservatives argue that the inflation index is too generous because when prices go up, people change their buying habits and buy cheaper alternatives.

    Consumer prices went up only slightly in the past year despite a recent spike in gasoline prices after a series of hurricanes slowed oil production in the Gulf Coast, said Max Gulker, senior research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research.

    “For the most part, there was a decline in energy prices for a lot of the year,” Gulker said. “But at the end of the year we saw that uptick in gas from the hurricanes.”

    The average monthly Social Security payment is $1,258, or about $15,000 a year.

    Congress enacted automatic annual increases for Social Security in 1975. Presidents often get blamed when increases are small or zero. But President Donald Trump has no power to boost the increase, unless he persuades Congress to change the law.

    In 2009, President Barack Obama persuaded Congress to approve one-time payments of $250 to Social Security recipients as part an economic stimulus package.

    Over the past eight years, the annual COLA has averaged just above 1 percent. In the previous decade, it averaged 3 percent.

    Johnson noted that multiple years of small or no COLA’s reduces the income of retirees for the rest of their lives.

    “Think about the length of a retirement period. Eight years is about a third of a (healthy) retirement,” Johnson said.

    The COLA is based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W, a broad measure of consumer prices. It measures price changes for food, housing, clothing, transportation, energy, medical care, recreation and education.

    The August report says energy prices are up 6.5 percent from the previous year, while the cost of medical care is up just 1.7 percent. The cost of food is up 1.1 percent.

    The COLA is calculated using the average CPI-W for July, August and September, and comparing it to the same three months from the previous year.

    The post Social Security benefits to rise by 2 percent in 2018 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    President Donald Trump announced his decision on the Iran nuclear deal today. Watch the president’s remarks in the player above.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday angrily accused Iran of violating the spirit of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, accusing it of a long list of malign behavior and hitting its main military wing with terrorism sanctions. But Trump, breaking with a campaign pledge to rip up the agreement, said he was not yet ready to pull the U.S. out or re-impose nuclear sanctions.

    Instead, he kicked the issue to Congress and the other parties to the seven-nation accord, telling lawmakers to toughen the law that governs U.S. participation and to fix a series of deficiencies in the agreement. Those include the expiration of several key restrictions under “sunset provisions” that begin to kick in in 2025, he said.

    Trump warned that without the fixes, he would likely pull the U.S. out of the deal and snap previously lifted sanctions back into place.

    Without improvements, he said in a White House speech, “the agreement will be terminated.”

    “It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me as president at any time,” he said.

    READ MORE: A Trump retreat from the Iran deal would damage trust in U.S. dealmaking, EU ally says


    The post WATCH: Trump accuses Iran of violating nuclear deal, but he won’t pull out now appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    An American flag hangs from a tree in a neighborhood destroyed by wildfire in Santa Rosa, California, U.S., October 12, 2017.  REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

    An American flag hangs from a tree in a neighborhood destroyed by wildfire in Santa Rosa, California, U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

    Are major natural disasters on an uptick in 2017 compared to prior years? Government data suggests yes.

    For the first nine months of 2017, the United States has endured 15 disasters that each cost $1 billion or more and collectively claimed 323 lives, all linked to weather and climate, according to the latest data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These 2017 disasters include:

  • Two floods
  • One freeze
  • Seven severe storms
  • Three tropical cyclones
  • One drought
  • One outbreak of wildfires
  • Among 323 confirmed fatalities from those disasters, 95 people died as a result of Hurricane Irma — the most deaths from a single natural disasters to date this year. Hurricanes were deadliest, and crews are still clearing away debris to find people who died after Hurricane Maria. But 25 people have died in wildfires that have scorched the western United States, and that death toll could continue to climb.

    2011 set the record for billion-dollar disasters with 16 by year’s end, the National Centers for Environmental Information reported. With 15 major natural disasters this year, 2017 is on par with that record-setting year and shows no sign of slowing down.

    By Thursday, the Sonoma wildfires claimed at least 37 lives with roughly 400 more people missing in California. Nearly 1,400 tornadoes have spun across the United States, according to preliminary government data. The Atlantic has witnessed a busy hurricane season, with 14 named storms since April 19, including five major hurricanes, according to NOAA, which in August predicted this year’s hurricane season to be the most active since 2010. And clean-up and recovery efforts after one of those major hurricanes — Hurricane Maria — continue in Puerto Rico three weeks after that storm churned over the entire island for more than 12 hours.

    State governors have issued 140 emergency declarations so far in 2017, said Jeff McLeod, who directs the Center for Best Practices Homeland Security and Public Safety Division for the National Governors Association and works with state-based emergency management and intelligence officials, and said some of those declarations are re-upped from previous disasters. For instance, Louisiana still carries a handful of declarations after Hurricane Katrina struck the state’s coastline 12 years ago.

    Nationwide, one of the biggest gaps in preparation and recovery is whether or not states have long-term recovery plans. Most states don’t, McLeod said. After first responders have saved all they can save, few states have a plan in place to rebuild.

    “Once the response is over, how do you recover?” McLeod said. “How do you maintain your tax base? How do you make sure your communities are resilient? Not many states have comprehensive plans.”

    And despite years of predictions from climate change experts who warn that rising sea levels will produce higher storm surges for more devastating floods and damage, few U.S. homebuyers take disaster risk into account when they want to settle down. According to a February 2017 survey from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, only 22 percent of Americans thought about natural disasters when they thought about where to buy a home.

    In Puerto Rico, U.S. citizens are working to rebuild their lives after Hurricanes Irma and Maria crushed utilities and access to water and supplies in September.

    The situation remains in flux, said Ariel Lugo, who lives near San Juan: “It’s a good day if you have power and water.”

    Lugo, who directs the International Institute of Tropical Forestry for USDA Forest Service, said he and researchers plan to trek Wednesday to their research laboratory in El Yunque National Forest, the national forest system’s only tropical rainforest, where fallen trees made access roads impassable. There, Lugo said he expects to see the rainforest canopy carpeting the ground, high humidity and intense sunlight. If his team makes it to the lab, they hope to continue research he started in 1989 after Hurricane Hugo — studying how hurricanes reshape ecosystems.

    “These hurricanes reset the forests,” he said. “If you’re not adapted, you disappear.”

    The post 2017 is on track to be a record-setting year for massive natural disasters in the U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A page from "The Illustrated Edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," illustrated by Jim Kay.

    An image from “The Illustrated Edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” out in stores this month. Illustrated by Jim Kay.

    Harry Potter, Hogwarts, Hagrid and Dumbledore have captivated the minds of readers around the world since J.K. Rowling first introduced them in 1997. Adapted to film, made into an amusement park, digitized into the Pottermore website, expanded into the “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” play, and since 2015, illustrated for a new generation of fans.

    This month, artist Jim Kay’s third illustrated installment, the “Illustrated Edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” hit shelves.

    Kay, an artist who has worked on production and design sets for projects including the film “A Monster Calls” and the BBC’s “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell,” is slated to illustrate all seven of Rowling’s novels.

    “In a sense you’re making a play — you start with the scenery,” Kay told the NewsHour. “I started with the landscape and then building Hogwarts… Then I started to populate it, to cast the characters.”

    In part, Kay’s illustrated characters were cast from the people around him. Hermione and Harry were based on acquaintances, while Hagrid and Dumbledore were “spliced together” from multiple people. “It’s hard to find someone who has had a nose broken twice and a long beard,” Kay joked. And the danger in illustration, he said, is “potentially supplanting the reader’s view of the characters.”

    “Ultimately, you do have to say ‘these are my interpretations of the characters,’ plant a stamp on your interpretation. But the text is key and you have to go back to that time and time again – go back to the author’s words.”

    Kay goes back to the Harry Potter text — he reread all seven books before illustrating — and he also takes inspiration from graphic novels, a story medium he grew a passion for in childhood.

    “Everyone is like a magpie, we steal shiny bits from everywhere,” Kay said. “Everyone in visuals is picking up bits and pieces from other artists and molding them and showing them in their own way.”

    Kay said he is influenced most by graphic novels that are dark, mysterious or mystical, moods he said help shape his own artistry. He is excited to implement this drearier mindset in the future illustrated Harry Potter books.

    “I’m looking forward to the late ones because the children are older and they are much darker,” Kay said. “There’s always the desire to go darker, but I’m holding back for the later books.”

    Here are the five moody graphic novels that inspired Kay, in his words:

    "Classics Illustrated: Moby Dick." Credit: Berkeley Publishing Group

    “Classics Illustrated: Moby Dick.” Credit: Berkeley Publishing Group

    1. “Classics Illustrated: Moby Dick” by Bill Sienkiewicz

    Way back in 1992 one of my lecturers first suggested that I might want to think about a career as an illustrator (I was studying art at the time), and he handed me a copy of Bill Sienkiewicz’s illustrated version of “Moby Dick” (1990). I instantly fell for the atmospheric blend of texture and exquisite character studies, a graphic novel that has the indelible mark of an accomplished artist’s hand. Dark at times, as it should be, and full of drama. This nudged me in the right direction as an illustrator, and I’ve had it in mind ever since.

    "Through the Woods." Credit: Margaret K. McElderry Books

    “Through the Woods.” Credit: Margaret K. McElderry Books

    2. “Through the Woods” by Emily Carroll

    I first came across Emily Carroll’s “Through the Woods” while judging book covers in a competition a few years ago. It’s a creepy collection of five short stories, all of which are frightening, dark and deeply enjoyable. The illustrations are knock-out beautiful, and the whole volume vibrates with sensuous colour, a perfect choice for Halloween!

    "Geis." Credit: Nobrow Press

    “Geis.” Credit: Nobrow Press

    3. The “Geis” Trilogy by Alexis Deacon

    I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a somewhat obsessive Alexis Deacon fan. An incredibly hard-working author/illustrator, he is currently working on a trilogy of graphic novels called “Geis” (pronounced ‘gesh’). I would give my back teeth to be able to draw with Alexis’s skill. His line and economy of colour are exquisite. Difficult to describe what Geis is, although there are elements of familiar themes and fantasy fables, swords and sorcery. It’s a phenomenal amount of work in each volume, and so beautifully imagined and executed.

    "Panther." Credit: Oogachtend

    “Panther.” Credit: Oogachtend

    4. “Panther” by Brecht Evens

    You can spot a Brecht Evens graphic novel from a mile away – literally, they have an almost hallucinogenic appearance, as if the illustrator was raised under neon lights in nightclubs. “Panther” is the latest in a string of weirdly wonderful illustrated stories by this Belgium born artist. He is quite simply not like anybody else out there, his style is so unusual, arresting and yet intimate and full of humor. Some of his artwork has the appearance of a lurid tapestry, some of his small studies appear to move and exist in several directions and several moments in one instance.

    "The Story of My Tits." Credit: Top Shelf Productions

    “The Story of My Tits.” Credit: Top Shelf Productions

    5. “The Story of My Tits” by Jennifer Hayden

    Don’t let the title put you off, this is a wonderful intimate journey through a woman’s life and her relationship with her body and the people around her, and the difficulties in dealing with an illness that robs so many women of their confidence, time and sometimes their lives. This is what graphic novels were made for, to discuss difficult subjects through the disarming and engaging medium of words and pictures.

    The post 5 moody graphic novels that influenced the Harry Potter illustrator’s work appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The amount that people age 60 and over owe in student loans is growing. Illustration by Getty Images

    The amount that people aged 60 and over owe in student loans is growing. Illustration by Getty Images

    People aged 60 and older are the fastest growing segment of the student debt market. The number of people in this age range with student loan debt has quadrupled in the last decade from approximately 700,000 to 2.8 million, and the average amount they owe has almost doubled to approximately $23,500.

    But how did we get here, and what can senior citizens do about student debt?

    To answer those questions, the PBS NewsHour Weekend will be joined on Twitter on Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. ET by Ashley Norwood, consumer and regulatory advisor at American Student Assistance (@cca_asa); Anthony Orlando, assistant lecturer at the University of Southern California Price School of Public Policy (@AnthonyWOrlando); and Rohit Chopra, senior fellow at the Consumer Federation of America (@hitchop).

    Have questions? Tweet them to #NewsHourChats.

    The post Twitter chat: How senior citizens can address student debt appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Journalist Suzy Hansen grew up in a small town in New Jersey, before moving first to New York City and later to Turkey, where she now works as a foreign correspondent.

    What she discovered, as you will hear in tonight’s In My Humble Opinion, is how living abroad forced Hansen to reconsider what she thought she knew about her own country.

    SUZY HANSEN, Foreign Correspondent; Ten years ago, I moved to Istanbul to become a foreign correspondent.

    I had only been there a month before someone called me a spy. He was a young Turkish man. He had gone to a very good college in the United States, and he was a brilliant person.

    So, I was a little surprised that he would repeat that kind of cliche about Americans abroad. And he said: “Why not? Even if you are not technically a spy, no doubt that the information you are sending back to your country will be used for something terrible.”

    I didn’t understand what he meant by that, really. But then he said something else that surprised me even more. He said that he believed the Americans had planned September 11, that there was no way that the world’s most powerful country could have let such a thing happen.

    “You have got to be kidding,” I said. “You really believe that conspiracy theory?”

    And he said: “You Americans use that phrase so dismissively, but it is the rest of us who have been victims of your conspiracies.”

    He was talking about the Cold War. He was talking about history.

    These kinds of exchanges, these conversations kept happening in my first years abroad, in Turkey, in Greece, in Egypt, or Afghanistan.

    In Greece, in 2009, I had been sent to cover the financial crisis, and there, I was interviewing dozens of people, asking, hey, what happened here? I always framed my questions to foreigners in the supposedly tough journalist kind of way: What did you do to your country? How did you end up in this place?

    I realized there was something accusatory in these types of questions. Essentially, what I was saying was, when will you ever get it together? When will you become more like us?

    And more often than not, the Greeks from all different backgrounds said to me: Well, if we want to talk about how this crisis happened in Greece, we actually need to start with 1946 or 1949, and the Greek civil war, and the American intervention. You know.

    They always assumed I know what they were talking about, because this history, our shared history, was part of them, part of their identities and their world views. What the Greeks considered an American intervention, meanwhile, I had known as the Truman Doctrine.

    Other than that, I had never known the United States wielded such heavy influence in Greece. That history wasn’t at all part of me.

    It was more than two years before I really felt confident really enough to write for major publications about Turkey. I traveled the region. I had many more conversations with foreigners.

    In the process, my world view was changing radically. It felt sometimes even as if my brain was physically changing. In those first years abroad, I saw that we Americans were actually engaged in an intimate relationship with people all over the world, one that we knew very little about, and, even if we did, it was certainly not at all the whole story.

    Before I could write about another country, I realized I first had to understand my own.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now a new glimpse into the early career of one of the country’s most famous legal scholars.

    Jeffrey Brown has this look at “Marshall,” in theaters now.

    CHADWICK BOSEMAN, Actor, “Thurgood Marshall”: You gentlemen are making a big mistake.

    JEFFREY BROWN: He was a man who would make history as the first African-American Supreme Court justice.

    ACTOR: This here is Mr. Thurgood Marshall. The man is an attorney. You will treat with him the respect that he deserves.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But the new film “Marshall,” based on real events in 1941, gives us a young Thurgood Marshall, lawyer for the then-fledgling NAACP, going from town to town to represent black defendants in a justice system rampant with discrimination.

    And this Marshall, played by Chadwick Boseman and directed by Reginald Hudlin, is full of flash and swagger.

    ACTOR: What’s you got in here, cement?

    CHADWICK BOSEMAN: Guns. Books, Mr. Friedman.

    REGINALD HUDLIN, Director, “Marshall”: He loved sarcasm. He smoked. He drank. He flirts. You know, he’s a real kind of rock ‘n’ roll guy. And what I really love is that young people in particular see this depiction of this period of his life, and they go, oh, he’s that kind of guy.

    And then they say, well, I could be that. I could be a flawed guy who does the right thing.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The film centers on a real case in Connecticut, in which Marshall was asked to defended Joseph Spell, a black chauffeur accused of raping Eleanor Strubing, the wife of his wealthy white employer.

    REGINALD HUDLIN: It’s a great legal thriller that happens to star the greatest attorney in American history.

    CHADWICK BOSEMAN: The NAACP, we are not like most lawyers. We only represent innocent, people accused because of their race. That’s our mission. You understand?

    So, I need to know this. Look at me now. Did you do what they said you did?

    ACTOR: I never touched that woman.

    REGINALD HUDLIN: The stakes are very high. When we start the film, Thurgood Marshall has just lost a case in Oklahoma. Not only does this mean that an innocent man is going to jail for life, but the donations to the NAACP rise and fall based on whether he wins or loses cases.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, and that’s a very interesting aspect of this whole thing, isn’t it?


    JEFFREY BROWN: It wasn’t just about the individual case. It was the larger cause and the need for raising money.

    REGINALD HUDLIN: Right. So we think of NAACP as this venerable institution, over 100 years old. But the fact is, it was a fledgling organization that could go away very easily.

    So, Thurgood basically has to win this case, for the sake of the organization, for the sake of the community.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Through the trial, we see glimpses of the towering legal figure Marshall would become.

    CHADWICK BOSEMAN: Here in America, our differences are not supposed to matter. Here, we are promised equal protection under the law. There’s nothing complicated about that. That promise has not been realized, not even close.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I asked actor Chadwick Boseman about the key to capturing Marshall.

    CHADWICK BOSEMAN: The great thing is that you do have the destination. You know what he’s going to become.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, even if he doesn’t know it at the moment.

    CHADWICK BOSEMAN: Even if he doesn’t know it at the moment. And so you can’t play what he doesn’t know.

    People like that have a greater sense that you’re here to do something. There’s something inside of you that must be fulfilled. I did want to give a sense of that, that confidence, that arrogance.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Boseman is no stranger to tackling historical icons. He played baseball’s Jackie Robinson in the film “42,” and musician James Brown in “Get On Up.”

    But Marshall posed a unique challenge because of the real-life circumstances of the trial. As an out-of-state attorney, Marshall was barred by the judge from speaking in court.

    That instead fell to his less experienced partner, Samuel Friedman, played by Josh Gad, a Jewish insurance lawyer and initially unwilling accomplice.

    So you, as an actor, are playing a guy who’s famous for his ability to talk and persuade people, but he can’t do it in this case.


    I think, when I was reading the script, at first, I was like, wait a minute, how does this get resolved, and I get to give my, you know, closing statements at the end of the movie?


    JEFFREY BROWN: You wanted to make your big courtroom speech?

    CHADWICK BOSEMAN: Had to, you know? But the more I read it, I realized that this was the exact obstacle that would make the movie interesting.

    The truth of the matter is, you’re acting when you’re silent. Your nonverbals are dialogue, subtext. And that’s actually just as hard, if not harder, than having the huge speech at the end or the closing statements.

    JEFFREY BROWN: “Marshall” was filmed in 2016, amid heightened racial tensions around the country. Hudlin says echoes of past and present are inevitable. Most of all, he wanted to portray a man making a difference.

    REGINALD HUDLIN: I would say, you know, Thurgood ultimately was a saint, not an angel, but a saint.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. What’s the difference?

    REGINALD HUDLIN: Well, an angel kind of implies perfection. A saint means, you know, you push through your humanity. You do something greater than.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the 96th justice of the United States Supreme Court.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jeffrey Brown.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But first to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Welcome to both of you.

    Where to begin? I guess we start with, David, how much the president, over the last few days, seems to be trying to roll back the legacy of his predecessor, President Obama.

    Today and yesterday, the moves of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, the Iran nuclear deal. We have just been listening to that. The Power Plan, which he has said he’s not going to support those regulations. He’s going to completely undo them.

    Can he undo the Obama legacy?

    DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Well, a lot of it — these are all campaign promises. This is what he was elected on.

    I’m struck by a couple of things. First, he’s more aggressive than just about anybody else in the administration. Whenever you hear about what’s happening in the administration, it’s always other people trying to restrain him. The Republican Party has no great clamoring to reverse the Iran deal.

    A lot of them opposed them at the time, but most of them, even very hawkish people, have said there is no use in going backwards, let’s go forwards. And so on that, he’s pushing harder. On North Korea, he’s more aggressive than just about anybody else in the administration.

    So if you’re looking to see a chastened Donald Trump, you’re seeing quite the reverse in the last couple of weeks.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think, Mark?

    MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: What do I think, Judy?

    I think that the results of the Alabama primary, where Donald Trump was on the losing side with Luther Strange, and Steve Bannon was on the winning side with Roy Moore, are still coming in.

    Donald Trump since then has returned to the promises he made, to the applause lines he got, and the health care being a perfect example of it. You know, there is no replace. I mean, so, the fantasy that there was a Republican health plan has been totally exposed and exploded, and Donald Trump gave the final lie to that.

    All he wants to do now is to destroy and dismantle that which was what he can’t — Sam Rayburn once said, any jackass can kick down a barn. It takes a good carpenter to build one.

    And so they’re just about — that’s what they’re about, is dismantling.

    When Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, a decorated Marine combat veteran, said that the Iranian deal, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, is in the national security interests of the United States of America, and Donald Trump, you know, gives some cockamamie explanation, is going to change it to — you know, he’s going to be playing right into the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I would just say, it’s not like — we hear dismantle, dismantle, dismantle, and you think it’s just an act of destruction.

    That was my first impulse, but then, when you actually begin to look more into actually what they’re doing, it’s a little more complicated than that. So, the Iranian deal, there are two pieces of it. And the last discussion just reflected it very well, that the Iranians are keeping the nuclear piece, but there was a hope which President Obama expressed often that it would welcome Iran into the community of nations.

    On the contrary, they are behaving worse and using the money we gave them to arm terrorists around the world. So Donald Trump and his policy are completely right to recognize that second piece takes a looking at.

    On health care, they are dismantling it. There will be a period of disruption. But what was interesting to me about the CBO analysis of what they’re doing, after this period of disruption, there will be more people insured, not less. So it won’t look like Obamacare, but as the markets respond, there is a possibility that more people will be insured.

    And so it’s not a simple, oh, we’re just tearing everything apart.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: At a higher cost.

    DAVID BROOKS: At a higher cost.

    MARK SHIELDS: I could not disagree more.

    More people will be insured on a cheaper plan. It’s a great plan if you’re healthy and young. Just don’t get sick and need medical treatment.

    Donald Trump promised repeatedly during the campaign, including on “60 Minutes,” it would be better, cheaper, wider for everybody. You could keep your doctor. It was going to be better. It was going to happen immediately.

    That is untrue. You know, we have been in open collaboration with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Syria, against ISIS. And, you know, when we talk about their money, giving us their — it’s their money that we unfroze.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Iran’s money.


    It wasn’t — we don’t — because I just think you left the impression that we’re somehow writing a check to Iran. Those were the frozen assets of Iran that belong to them.

    I’m not defending Iranian policy, but this agreement on nuclear was in the interest of the United States that Iran…


    DAVID BROOKS: Only on PBS do you get ISIS and health care exchanges in the same paragraphs as we talk to each other.


    DAVID BROOKS: But, again, I agree — a lot of Donald Trump — let’s start with the health care thing.

    Donald Trump oversold what he’s doing. And I don’t agree with that. I think the exchanges were basically a moderate way to expand insurance coverage.

    But he does have — I’m just saying he has a philosophical position here. The philosophical position is that a lot of the cross-subsidization involved in these big insurance pools is unfair to a certain set of people who are subsidizing the sicker and the poorer.

    And maybe, as a society, we should be doing that as matter of social solidarity. Donald Trump doesn’t think so. And so he’s giving more people, especially small employers, a chance to pool their resources, and create associations, and give people insurance that way.

    So it is a vision. It’s not just some nihilistic policy here. There is some sort of vision here, more than one would expect.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s a philosophy? You’re saying there’s a governing philosophy behind…

    DAVID BROOKS: There’s a governing philosophy.

    MARK SHIELDS: David has just done the impossible. He has detected a coherent philosophy in Donald Trump.

    Donald Trump has never explained that. Donald Trump has never been able to go before the American people, before the Congress of the United States and say, this is why I’m doing it.

    And, David, I give him great credit, the power of perception.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you’re giving David the credit over President Trump.

    MARK SHIELDS: David has found in Donald Trump what Donald Trump hadn’t even…


    DAVID BROOKS: I am the Trump whisperer.

    MARK SHIELDS: You are. You are it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s talk for a moment about Puerto Rico.

    Still a lot of conversation, David, over the last few days about whether the president is singling out Puerto Rico. There were some polls done asking people whether they think the administration, the government has done enough for Puerto Rico, compared to what the government’s done for Texas after Hurricane Harvey, for Florida after Hurricane Irma.

    And then we’re showing the numbers, done enough, 36, not done enough, 55 percent.

    The message coming through, based on several tweets and comments by the president, is, basically, you know, you, Puerto Rico, you have made this mess. We will do a bit for you, but we’re not going to be around forever.

    DAVID BROOKS: Be around forever.

    No, there has been a lack of — there was total graciousness toward Texas and graciousness toward Florida, but he’s incapable of showing any compassion and graciousness toward people who are just trying to find drinking water in Puerto Rico.

    And so the lesson is the lesson that we’re all going to draw from that, that the people in Puerto Rico don’t look like a lot of people in Texas. And I think that’s probably a pretty fair judgment.

    MARK SHIELDS: It’s a harsh judgment, but an accurate judgment.

    The difference is 67 electoral votes, 38 electoral votes in Texas, 29 in Florida, none in Puerto Rico.

    When Donald Trump went down to Puerto Rico, what was he looking for? To understand what the people are going through, the health and public safety hazard? No. He was fishing for compliments. Did they say we did a good job? Do they say we’re doing a good job?

    Thank goodness we have a three-star general now there who is saying, we are here. We are here to help. And we are here for the duration, basically saying that we do have a responsibility to each other, as Americans, as fellow human beings, and the United States government recognizes it.

    DAVID BROOKS: A bit a sign that his default position is never compassion and friendship. His default position is attack if you attack me.


    DAVID BROOKS: And that’s just characterological. And he brings it into the situations where compassion would be 99.9 percent of humanity’s normal response.

    MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of attacks, we haven’t heard as much in the last few days about his back and forth with Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.

    They were going at hammer and tong there for a few days, Mark. But what we are hearing, though — and we don’t know where that is going to end up. But what we are hearing is that Steve Bannon, who was the president’s chief strategist, has now said that it’s his mission to go after virtually every Republican in the Senate to make sure they don’t get reelected.

    MARK SHIELDS: Except Ted Cruz.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, except for Ted Cruz, sorry, of Texas.

    MARK SHIELDS: Who is…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that smart for the president to have his good friend Steve Bannon trying to do this? Is it realistic?

    MARK SHIELDS: It may very well be realistic, based upon the Alabama returns.

    But it’s certainly not helpful if you’re trying to retain a majority to have a divisive and bitter primary for your party’s candidate. But I don’t think it’s any question — and I mentioned Ted Cruz, because the Mercer family, who are funding Steve Bannon, their original presidential candidate was Ted Cruz. So Ted Cruz is exempt from this purge.

    But, Judy, Steve Bannon doesn’t have a party. He’s not a Republican. Donald Trump is increasingly a man without a party. So, he has no loyalty to the Republicans. And he’s depending upon them.

    As of last night, the Republicans didn’t have the 51 votes needed to adopt a budget next week. If they don’t have the votes for that budget, you can say goodbye to any tax plan, you can say goodbye to any legislative program. The Republicans are going into 2018 without — because they need to pass a budget to meet the Senate rules to pass the Senate tax bill with 51 votes.

    And so they are in terrible, terrible shape.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, is the answer, David, to elect more populist Republicans on the Republican line to get the Senate in shape?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, well, I had a chance to talk to Bannon last week.

    And he’s thinking on a different time frame than Donald Trump is. He’s thinking in terms of centuries. It’s like talking to Lenin in 1905 or something like that. He is thinking, well, we had the Buchanan moment, the Palin moment. Trump, that’s a moment, but we’re going to have a lot more moments.

    And he is thinking 50 years ahead. And it is to take over the Republican Party with populists, and to scare John Barrasso in Wyoming, because he’s like the most normal, safest conservative Republican. And if you can scare even a Barrasso, then you can scare them all.

    And so he has got this world historical view stretching out 50 years. I hope he’s wrong, but he might be — he might be right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But what does that mean for right now? Is that a good move for the Republican Party to have this kind of turmoil?

    DAVID BROOKS: No, not for Donald Trump in the short term. Bannon is playing a long game, where he thinks, if I can just — he already picked off one. If he can pick of one or two more Republicans that are sitting Republicans, then he will effectively control them all.

    MARK SHIELDS: They’re terrified, Judy.

    If you’re sitting in a district where the Republican primary voters are 45, 50, 60 percent Trump partisans and zealots, you are scared stiff of alienating in any way Steve Bannon or Donald Trump.

    So there’s a paralysis of fear that grips Republicans, especially in the House. You have got a safe Republican district, that means that the majority of voters in your district in the primary are overwhelmingly supporters of President Trump.

    DAVID BROOKS: In that way, it sort of is effective for him, because nobody likes — nobody in Congress likes Trump. There is no relationship there.


    DAVID BROOKS: So he governs by fear, and it’s not necessarily fear of Trump, but it’s fear of his base. And that’s how he’s governing.

    And maybe the more Roy Moores there are, the more fear that will be, and he will have some party discipline that way.

    MARK SHIELDS: I think he’s right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, so we have — wait a minute. You said he’s right? Earlier, you said…



    MARK SHIELDS: Better than the Nationals.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: We’re in mourning.


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

    SUBSCRIBE: Get the analysis of Mark Shields and David Brooks delivered to your inbox every week.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now we return to the second major decision President Trump announced today.

    He refused to certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement.

    Nick Schifrin has that.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Today, President Trump followed through on his vow to renounce one of his predecessor’s signature achievements.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Today, I am announcing our strategy confront the Iranian regime’s hostile actions and to ensure that Iran never, and I mean never, acquires a nuclear weapon.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: President Trump accused Iran of violating the agreement’s nuclear restrictions. He didn’t decertify based on that, but because he said the deal didn’t do enough to curb Iranian actions.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: President Trump cited longstanding criticisms. The deal doesn’t restrict Iranian support of groups such as Hezbollah, which the U.S. calls a terrorist organization. The deal doesn’t restrict Iranian missile testing, and the deal includes expiry dates, or sunsets, on Iranian enrichment and uranium stockpiles.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: As key restrictions disappear, Iran can sprint toward a rapid nuclear weapons breakout.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Part of today’s announcement was new sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for sponsoring terrorism.

    In Iran, President Hassan Rouhani defended the Revolutionary Guard and called the deal non-negotiable.

    PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI, Iran (through interpreter): The Iranian nation is not a nation that will yield to forceful talking and hateful speeches from a dictator. The Iranian will not surrender to any nation.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: The deal’s defenders called President Trump’s statement misguided and dangerous.

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi:

    REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif, Minority Leader: House Minority Leader: President Trump’s refusal to recertify is a grave mistake that threatens America’s security and our credibility at a very critical time.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: And the E.U.’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said Iran was in compliance.

    FEDERICA MOGHERINI, Foreign Policy Chief, European Union: We cannot afford, the international community, as Europe, for sure, to dismantle a nuclear agreement that is working and delivering, especially now.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: What happens now is up to Congress. Senator Bob Corker will lead negotiations to eliminate the deal’s expiry dates, and automatically reimpose nuclear sanctions if Iran advances its nuclear program.

    SEN. BOB CORKER, R-Tenn.: In the event Iran takes steps to move to a lesser place than a one-year breakout, and do certain things with intercontinental ballistic missiles, we’re going to reapply our sanctions. We have provided a route to overcome deficiencies and to keep the administration in the deal.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: But today Trump said, if Congress fails and allies don’t get on board, he won’t stay in the deal.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They may come back with something is very satisfactory to me. And if they don’t, within a very short period of time, I will terminate the deal.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: We break down that threat and the legislation before Congress with Rob Malley. He was special assistant to President Obama and the lead senior White House negotiator for the agreement. He is now a vice president of the International Crisis Group. And Mark Dubowitz is chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. He has been advising the Trump administration on Iran policy.

    Welcome to you both. Thank you very much.

    Rob Malley, let me start with you.

    A lot of people who are defending the president say, look, this is the best way to get any leverage to actually get a better deal. The president has to decertify, Congress needs to make a move, and the president needs to threaten to walk away. What’s wrong with that?

    ROBERT MALLEY, International Crisis Group: It’s not going to work. That’s what’s wrong with it. We have a deal now that’s working.

    And everyone who’s looked at it says it’s working. In fact, what’s quite striking is that the president, who probably would be desperate to say that Iran is not in compliance, had to say that he was in — that they are in compliance, and that’s what he doesn’t like.

    So the deal is working. And if now go and tell the Iranians, by the way, either agree to change the deal, or we’re walking away, or you tell the Europeans, either you agree to renegotiate the deal or we’re out, is that leverage, or is that threatening to violate the deal, which is going to convince them that there is no business to be done with this administration?

    Because it’s basically telling them, either you help me violate the deal or I’m going to violate it on my own. I think their preference would be to tell them, to tell the president, go ahead, violate it on your own. We’re not going to be accomplices.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: So, Mark Dubowitz, leverage or inevitable violation?

    MARK DUBOWITZ, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies: No, it’s leverage.

    And the deal is working. I actually agree with Rob. It’s working for the Iranians. And it’s working for the Iranians because they’re getting hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief that the Revolutionary Guards is using to fund its destructive activities abroad, its internal repression at home.

    And the deal is working for the Iranians because it was never about Iranian compliance. It was all about Iranian violations with respect to the deal and a patient pathway to nuclear weapons and ICBMs.

    I mean, we are obsessed with Iranian violations. They are obsessed with compliance. They are obsessed with waiting for restrictions to go away over time and to emerge in 10 years time with an industrial-sized nuclear program, with near zero nuclear breakout, with ICBMs, with advanced centrifuges they can hide under mountains, a trillion-dollar economy immunized against our ability to use sanctions, and regional hegemony.

    That sounds like the deal is working.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: So, Robert Malley, is the deal just handing all these things to Iran?

    ROBERT MALLEY: Let’s remember where we were back in 2014-15.

    The threat that Prime Minister Netanyahu, our own leaders, Republican and Democrats, were saying was that the existential request we faced was Iran requiring enough fissile material to build a nuclear bomb. That was what everyone was saying what we had to address.

    President Obama addressed it. It’s working. We now have at least 10 to 15 years where Iran would be at least a year away from being able to acquire that fissile material. And then other restrictions will last longer than that.

    And what Mark is not saying is, OK, so, you threaten to walk away if Iran doesn’t renegotiate the deal, which they won’t do that. I could almost guarantee that. So, then we walk away. And then all these restrictions that they’re currently living under disappear.

    And we’re going to face only an Iran with ballistic missiles and all the other activities that Mark objects to, but also with the freedom to go ahead and accumulate enriched uranium at levels that currently they can’t do, and without the inspections that are unprecedented. And Mark didn’t mention that.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: So, Mark Dubowitz, so Senator Corker has — we’re saying that he has perhaps a solution to some of these problems.

    And he’s going to lay out legislation that would have automatic snap-back sanctions if Iran dips below one-year breakout to a nuclear weapon, and he says effectively rid the deal of the sunset clauses and penalize Iran for its intercontinental ballistic missile program.

    Can that work?

    MARK DUBOWITZ: Well, I think Rob deserves a lot of credit for actually getting Iran to one-year breakout. So that’s a good move. And I think we should be grateful.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: Because it was only about a month before.

    MARK DUBOWITZ: Yes. No, they got them to one-year breakout.

    The problem is, as Barack Obama himself has said, that after year 10 and 11 and 12, breakout time actually falls to weeks and then days. So, that of course was the problem with the deal.

    And I think what Bob Corker is saying is, that’s unacceptable as a matter of national security, that the Iranians are going to get near zero nuclear breakout. And they will be a turn of the screw away from having dozens of nuclear weapons.

    So he wants to lock in as a matter of statute, as a statement of U.S. law and policy, that Iran should never have less than one-year breakout. I’m sure Rob agrees Iran should never have less than one-year breakout, and that we have got to find a way, a bipartisan way, to deal with these sunset provisions, so that they don’t emerge with a massive nuclear program and the ability to develop multiple nuclear weapons, affix them to ICBMs, and threaten the United States.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: So, Robert Malley, is that realistic? Can Senator Bob Corker and the Senate unilaterally essentially change some of the aspects of this deal? Isn’t that a violation of the deal?

    ROBERT MALLEY: Sure, they could try. Again, they won’t succeed.

    I think there’s a way to go about this, and there’s a way not to go about it. The way not to go about it is to tell the Iranians today, by the way, we’re unilaterally going to rewrite the deal.

    This deal, which part of the compromise was that, after a period of time, some of the restrictions would be lifted, although Iran would never be allowed to build a nuclear bomb. It still would have to submit to intrusive inspections. Those would last forever.

    But some of the constraints would be lifted over time. That was part of a deal. And if we go tell the Iranians that part of the deal which we negotiated for months, we’re taking it away, by the way. You’re not going to have any freedom to do — to lift any of these constraints over time, they will say, what’s in it for us? What did we negotiate for?

    The right way to do is to say, let’s implement this deal now. Why create an artificial crisis, when today we have Iran, as Mark acknowledges, at a one-year breakout timeline?

    Let’s keep it. If, in four, five, six years, the deal is being implemented, we could sit down with the Iranians. And the Europeans might be prepared. They have said they would be prepared to do it, to sit with them and say, the deal is the deal, but there are some things we want now, we would like to have more, which is, we would like some of these things to be extended there.

    There may be things the Iranians want. You negotiate it. But if you try to impose it unilaterally, you are encouraging the Iranians to do the same. They could unilaterally decide they want to change parts of the deal. And the deal will collapse. And we will be alone in that. We will be alone.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: And, Mark Dubowitz, that is one other criticism, that this is going to isolate the U.S.

    And, you know, critics say, well, if we’re going to try and change the deal now, our word is worth less and so, therefore, people like North Korea won’t negotiate in the future.

    MARK DUBOWITZ: So, what the president said in his speech as well is that part of the strategy is not just to work legislatively with Senator Bob Corker, but to work with the Europeans.

    And President Emmanuel Macron has come out three occasions publicly saying, please keep the nuclear deal, Donald Trump. Don’t walk away from this deal. And if you don’t walk away from this deal, we are prepared to address the sunset provisions, these the 2025 post-scenarios that Rob and I agree are very problematic, agree with the missile program.

    We have got to deal with the missile program. We don’t want Iran to have ICBMs. And we have got to deal with Iran’s destructive regional behavior.

    So, the Europeans are already showing a willingness to shift the debate from where they were before, was keep it, and other were saying nix it, to where we are today, which is fix it or nix it.

    ROBERT MALLEY: The Iranians will not agree. What is it in for them?

    Why would they sit down and say, we’re OK with changing the terms of the deal, the terms that you want to change in the deal, and you’re threatening to walk away from the deal that currently exists?

    Why would they even sit down with us?

    MARK DUBOWITZ: It happened multiple times in the Cold War with the Soviet Union when they had nuclear-tipped missiles aimed at American cities.

    We walked away from deals. We renegotiated deals. We renegotiated follow-on agreements. It happened with the Soviet Union, and even though everyone said the Soviets were not prepared to negotiate, and Ronald Reagan showed them that that wasn’t the case.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: All right, we’re going to have to leave it there.

    ROBERT MALLEY: Playing with fire.

    NICK SCHIFRIN: We’re going to have to leave it there.

    Mark Dubowitz, Robert Malley, thank you very much.

    ROBERT MALLEY: Thank you.

    MARK DUBOWITZ: Thanks so much.

    Thanks, Rob.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In California, the death toll from the massive wildfires has risen to at least 32, and that number could continue to climb. Officials say about 90,000 people have been forced to evacuate, and at least 3,500 homes and businesses have been reduced to ashes.

    From PBS station KQED in San Francisco, Monica Lam reports.

    MONICA LAM, KEQD: The degree of destruction and death is unparalleled, whole neighborhoods reduced to rubble and ash.

    Still, a glimmer of hope, as officials say they have made gains on the ground.

    BARRY BIERMANN, Fire Chief, Napa County: Great progress is being made here. The resources out there are doing an amazing job. They’re tired. They’re working hard. But we’re making great progress on this incident.

    MONICA LAM: Napa Country Fire Chief Barry Biermann said containment numbers are up for several fires, but warned they aren’t out of the woods yet. Winds are likely to return to heightened strength this weekend, what’s known as red flag conditions, and could blow new life into the already ferocious flames.

    BARRY BIERMANN: Today, the weather is cooperating, but we are going to back into red flag again. And that’s going to be an issue that we will have to keep a close eye, with low humidities and potentially wind for the next couple days.

    MONICA LAM: A force of at least 9,000 firefighters has been deployed across California’s Wine Country. Since igniting Sunday night, firefighters have been overwhelmed by the velocity of the flames.

    TOM CIZONE, Firefighter: None of the usual resources we used were very effective. When you get hit with something you can’t deal with, it’s a humbling feeling. It makes you realize how helpless you really can be, even in a position of power.

    MONICA LAM: More than 15 wildfires spanning more than 300 square miles still burn.

    GREG HUBBELL, Firefighter: You’re amidst something that’s heartbreaking, pretty much. So, that’s kind of what it’s been like.

    MONICA LAM: Yesterday, in the evacuated town of Calistoga, firefighters amongst the trees struggled to complete their one mission: contain the blaze.

    GREG HUBBELL: They’re everywhere. You know, there’s little pockets. There’s parts that we just can’t get to. There’s parts — so, we’re waiting for it. So, yesterday, all yesterday, we were prepping houses. And we thought we were going to be defending houses, but now I think we’re transitioning into that defense mode now.

    MONICA LAM: Sonoma County has sustained the most damage so far. The Tubbs fire is responsible for more than 15 deaths, with 400 still reported missing.

    Some evacuees have fled to the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in the town of Petaluma.

    Sonia Diaz and her family arrived on Monday.

    SONIA DIAZ, Evacuee: Our zone and our house is not under mandatory evacuation, but we decided to come because the smoke is really bad for our kids.

    MONICA LAM: The community has rallied around the grounds, donating numerous piles of supplies for evacuees in need.

    In addition, this emergency center boasts both mental and medical health services.

    MICHELLE PATINO, Nurse, Santa Rosa Kaiser: I just started posting out on the app Nextdoor, Facebook, and before I knew it, believe it or not, the community of Petaluma came in with all these medical donations, and pretty much has built this up. This is all from the community of Petaluma.

    MONICA LAM: At a raceway in Sonoma County, wildfire evacuees set up tents and campers to wait out the flames.

    Hilda Napoles fled her home Wednesday with her family.

    HILDA NAPOLES, Evacuee: I said, when you have to run, you have to run. No choice, with nothing. You have to leave faster. And you have to leave with nothing. You just have to save your life and your kids’ life.

    MONICA LAM: The Napoles family have no idea whether or not their house is still standing.

    OSVALDO NAPOLES, Evacuee: We’re just kind of like scared and worried that our stuff will, like, burn in our houses. So, we’re just kind of like worried

    MONICA LAM: As officials prepare for winds to pick up again over the weekend, and aggravate already dangerous fire conditions, some 190,000 acres have already been seared.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Monica Lam in Santa Rosa.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president’s decision to stop paying subsidies to health insurers was his second direct blow in one day at the law that has come to be known as Obamacare.

    The payments are made directly to insurance companies, which, in turn, use that money to reduce costs for lower-income Americans. The money helps pay for deductibles, for co-payments and out-of-pocket charges. Depending on a individual’s income level, the subsidies have lowered costs by, on average, $1,000 a person, but they can range anywhere from $700 to more than $3,300 a person.

    The subsidies were first challenged by a lawsuit from congressional Republicans in 2014. A federal judge agreed, pointing out that the money had not been formally appropriated by Congress.

    Still, payments have continued while this legal case was being appealed.

    Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News joins me now to look at what the president’s move means.

    Julie, welcome back to the program.

    JULIE ROVNER, Kaiser Health News: Nice to be here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just remind us, clarify for us who, what was getting these subsidies and why.

    JULIE ROVNER: Well, there are two kinds of subsidies in the Affordable Care Act. People up to four times poverty level get help paying their premiums.

    But for people who are up to 2.5 times the poverty level — it’s about $30,000 for an individual — they get — in addition to the help paying the premiums, they get these helps for out-of-pocket costs, on the theory that, even if they could afford the premium, they might not be able to afford to go and actually get coverage.

    It’s about seven million people of the roughly 10 million people who buy on the health insurance exchanges. So, it’s a majority of those people, and actually they will continue to get these subsidies.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But you were saying to me a little while ago, it’s important to point out, again, when you say 400 percent of the poverty level, these are people who are earning in a range of what around the country?

    JULIE ROVNER: For a couple, it’s about $64,000. Those are the people who are getting help with their premiums.

    To get help with these cost-sharing subsidies, you would have to learn substantially less. Per couple, it would be about $40,000.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let’s talk about the potential impact here.

    What about first on the health insurance companies?

    JULIE ROVNER: Well, this is where it’s really going to come home, that, right now, the insurance companies are required under their contracts and by the law to provide these subsidies to these low-income people, to provide the cost-sharing subsidies.

    There’s the questions, as we have seen with the lawsuit, about whether or not Congress formally appropriated the money, but, as many lawyers have pointed out, the fact — whether or not Congress appropriated it, the law says the insurance companies will provide it to the individuals, and that the federal government will pay back the insurance companies.

    So it’s money that’s owed. Congress — the easy way to solve it would be for Congress to appropriate the money.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And these insurance companies — there is some dispute about what that means for these insurance companies.

    JULIE ROVNER: That’s right.

    Well, there’s a number of things the insurance companies can do. The president telegraphed from the very beginning of his administration that he might stop paying these. For a while, it was every month we were sort of waiting to see, would he pay them the next month?

    For a while, he was paying them, waiting to see if Congress was actually going to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. And they didn’t.

    And so companies have mostly built into their premiums for next year. Remember, open enrollment starts in about two-and-a-half weeks — they have built in not getting these subsidies. But it’s not true of every company. It’s not true of every state. So it’s going to be a very mixed bag.

    They can also sue. They can go to court and say, you owe us this money. And they might be able to get it. And others have sued on their behalf.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, that’s something that is out there and we can’t predict at this moment.

    So, consumers, bottom line, Julie, what does this mean for people who have been receiving these benefits?

    JULIE ROVNER: Well, there is a lot of confusion about this.

    Not paying the subsidies, as the president pointed out, doesn’t mean that the people who are getting them now won’t get them. If insurance companies pull out — and they can do that — that’s in most of their contracts that if these don’t get paid, they can pull out — then nobody would get coverage.

    But if insurers stay, then the people who are getting the subsidies will continue to get them. The people who will pay are the people who aren’t getting help paying their premiums, the people who earn more than four times the poverty line.

    It’s about another — a different seven million people. They will be basically asked to pay these entire premium increases, because they’re not getting help.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I think that’s an outcome of this that I think a lot of people have not focused on.

    So, let’s talk about the cost to the government. I mean, on its face, you would think, oh, well, they’re stopping the subsidies; that means the government is going to save a lot of money.

    But you were telling us it’s not that simple.


    What’s ironic is that this will cost the federal government more money, according to the Congressional Budget Office, because what happens is that insurers will raise their premiums. When they raise premiums, remember, the premium subsidy comes in. Those premium subsidies will go up to match the increases in premiums.

    So people who are getting help won’t see these increases. As I just mentioned, the people who aren’t getting help, the people who are paying their entire premiums themselves, they will be asked to pay more. But the government will also be asked to pay more.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Julie, stepping back, look at the overall health care marketplace. How much is this expected to impact that?

    JULIE ROVNER: Well, this — it’s a relatively small piece. It’s about 17 million people in the individual market out of, what, 330 million Americans.

    But even people who represent employer plans were complaining today that this could end up affecting them. If there are fewer people with insurance or people who couldn’t pay their out-of-pocket costs, that that — that providers would pass those along to people with employer insurance, that there are ways that this could have a ripple effect, probably not a big one. But it could impact the rest of the health insurance market.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, the president’s done this. I mean, he’s made this move.

    Could Congress in any way step in and change…

    JULIE ROVNER: Absolutely.

    All Congress needs to do is appropriate the money. And there’s been discussions in Congress really since the last repeal and replace failed to do that, to pay that money for a couple of years. It’s a bipartisan effort.

    The administration has signaled today that they might not even accept that if Congress were be able to come to a bipartisan decision to do this, that they might want to get more in order for the president to accept that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s one more step in a story that I feel has just gone back for eons. It’s only been a few years, but it’s gone back for a long time, yet another wrinkle today.

    Julie Rovner, thank you very much.

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    Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus listens to a question during an interview in Washington May 6, 2016. On Sunday he said Trump decision not to release his taxes may not matter to voters. Photo By Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Priebus is one of several current and former White House aides expected to be interviewed by Mueller’s team in the coming weeks. Photo By Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was interviewed Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of investigators as part of an ongoing investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, his attorney said.

    “He was happy to answer all of their questions,” the lawyer, William Burck, said in a statement.

    It was not immediately clear what questions Priebus was asked or how long the interview lasted.

    Priebus is one of several current and former White House aides expected to be interviewed by Mueller’s team in the coming weeks. Those investigators, besides looking into whether campaign aides coordinated with the Kremlin to influence the outcome of the presidential election, are also looking into a series of White House actions since the start of the administration, including the firing in May of former FBI Director James Comey.

    They’re also investigating the short-lived tenure of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign in February, and the drafting of a public statement about a June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in New York.

    As head of the Republican National Committee during the presidential campaign, Priebus would have insight into the inner workings of the Trump campaign, particularly during the general election. He also was present during the presidential transition and served as White House chief of staff during times crucial to Mueller investigation, including while Flynn served in the administration and while Trump made the decision to fire Comey.

    In a prepared statement in June to the Senate intelligence committee, Comey described how Priebus had briefly interrupted a private White House conversation with the president in which he said Trump told him he hoped Comey would end an FBI investigation into Flynn and his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

    “After he had spoken for a few minutes about leaks, Reince Priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock and I could see a group of people waiting behind him,” Comey’s statement said. “The President waved at him to close the door, saying he would be done shortly. The door closed.”

    Priebus, who was ousted from his position in July, did not answer his cell phone Friday evening. His voicemail box was full.

    Mueller has requested a large batch of documents from the White House. Among the other officials his team is expected to interview are former press secretary Sean Spicer and White House counsel Don McGahn.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Late last night, the White House announced the federal government will immediately stop cost-sharing payments to health insurance companies that help lower-income Americans afford coverage.

    It is a move that many experts say could destabilize the health care marketplace. The Trump administration argues that it could not legally continue to make the payments.

    And, today, the president asserted the insurance subsidies have not benefited recipients.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The subsidy is really a subsidy for the insurance company. That’s not going to people. That’s making insurance companies rich. That money is going to insurance companies to lift up their stock price, and that’s not what I’m about. Take a look at who those insurance companies support, and I guarantee you one thing: It’s not Donald Trump.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Afterwards, the minority leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, condemned this latest blow to the Affordable Care Act.

    REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif., House Minority Leader: Because of President Trump’s decision last night, middle-income families will be hit the hardest. Taxpayers will pay more. Ending these payments will increase the deficit by nearly $200 billion over 10 years. What is he thinking?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We will walk through the implications of halting the subsidies after this news summary.

    The president also announced today he finds Iran is not in compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement reached with other world powers. He had certified the deal twice before, in July and April. In a White House speech, he stopped short of actually withdrawing the U.S. from the agreement, but said that Tehran isn’t living up to its spirit.

    Mr. Trump is now giving Congress 60 days to decide whether sanctions that were lifted under the pact should be reimposed.

    We will have more on the announcement and what comes next later in the program.

    The speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, got a first-hand look today at the destruction in Puerto Rico. His visit came after President Trump questioned the resources the territory needed to recover from Hurricane Maria. Speaking in San Juan, Ryan pledged additional federal assistance, saying that an aid package passed by the House yesterday — quote — “isn’t the last.”

    REP. PAUL RYAN, R-Wis., Speaker of the House: This is why we have the disaster relief fund. This is why we passed emergency supplementals. So we do believe that there is a very important, proper role at all levels of government to respond to this now, in the meantime, for the immediate term and over the long haul.

    There is so much work to be done, and we want everyone to know that we are absolutely committed to getting this done.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, President Trump did appear to take a softer tone on Puerto Rico today. He tweeted that he will — quote — “always be with the island.”

    In Northern Iraq, tensions are rising between the central government and Kurdish forces. It is happening in the disputed territories around the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The Kurdish government said that its troops in the city were reinforced by several thousand additional forces to confront what it called threats by the Iraqi military.

    At the same time, the Kurds pulled back troops from its lines south of the city to avoid conflict. Baghdad has tried to isolate the autonomous Kurdish region since its vote for independence last month.

    New clashes ahead of Kenya’s presidential election rerun have left at least two people dead. Authorities shot and killed the opposition protesters who allegedly threw rocks at a western police station. And in the capital of Nairobi, riot police fired tear gas on demonstrators who defied government orders and tried to march on the central business district.

    Back in this country, Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins said that she is not running for governor. Collins is one of the Senate’s few remaining centrists. She famously split with her party on its efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. She announced her decision to stay in the Senate at a Chamber of Commerce event this morning in Rockport, Maine.

    SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, R-Maine: I realized how much needs to be done in a divided and troubled Washington, if we are to serve the people that we represent effectively. The best way that I can contribute to these priorities is to remain a member of the United States Senate.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: Collins is serving in her fourth Senate term, which ends in 2020.

    California’s governor has declared a state of emergency to combat a hepatitis A outbreak. It is the largest outbreak of the virus in the U.S. from person to person since a vaccine became available in 1996; 18 people have died. The proclamation allows the state to buy vaccines directly from manufacturers.

    The head of Amazon Studios has been placed on leave amid allegations of sexual harassment. A producer on the Amazon TV series “Man in the High Castle” said that Roy Price propositioned her with crude language in 2015. This follows sexual harassment claims by dozens of women against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

    The University of North Carolina has avoided major penalties, after it had been accused of running sham classes for student-athletes for decades. The NCAA said the student-athletes did likely benefit from so-called paper courses, but it — quote — “could not conclude academic violations.”

    The school’s chancellor said that it was the correct and fair outcome.

    And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 30 points to close at 22871. The Nasdaq rose 14, and the S&P 500 added two. For the week, all three indices gained a fraction of a percent.

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    President Trump signs an executive order on health care on Oct. 12, 2017. Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Apparently frustrated by Congress’ inability to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump this week decided to take matters into his own hands.

    Late Thursday evening, the White House announced it would cease key payments to insurers. Earlier on Thursday, Trump signed an executive order aimed at giving people who buy their own insurance easier access to different types of health plans that were limited under the ACA rules set by the Obama administration.

    “This is promoting health care choice and competition all across the United States,” Trump said at the signing ceremony. “This is going to be something that millions and millions of people will be signing up for, and they’re going to be very happy.”

    The subsidy payments, known as “cost-sharing reductions,” are payments to insurers to reimburse them for discounts they give policyholders with incomes under 250 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $30,000 in income a year for an individual. Those discounts shield these lower-income customers from out-of-pocket expenses, such as deductibles or copayments. These subsidies have been the subject of a lawsuit that is ongoing.

    The cost-sharing reductions are separate from the tax credit subsidies that help millions of people pay their premiums. Those are not affected by Trump’s decision.

    Some of Trump’s actions could have an immediate effect on the enrollment for 2018 ACA coverage that starts Nov. 1. Here are five things you should know.

    1. The executive order does not make any immediate changes.

    Technically, Trump ordered the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Treasury within 60 days to “consider proposing regulations or revising guidance, to the extent permitted by law,” on several different options for expanding the types of plans individuals and small businesses could purchase. Among his suggestions to the department are broadening rules to allow more small employers and other groups to form what are known as “association health plans” and to sell low-cost, short-term insurance. There is no guarantee, however, that any of these plans will be forthcoming. In any case, the process to make them available could take months.

    2. The cost-sharing reduction changes ARE immediate but might not affect the people you expect.

    Cutting off payments to insurers for the out-of-pocket discounts they provide to moderate-income policyholders does not mean those people will no longer get help. The law, and insurance company contracts with the federal government, require those discounts be granted.

    That means insurance companies will have to figure out how to recover the money they were promised. They could raise premiums (and many are raising them already). For the majority of people who get the separate subsidies to help pay their premiums, those increases will be borne by the federal government. Those who will be hit hardest are the roughly 7.5 million people who buy their own individual insurance but earn too much to get federal premium help.

    Insurers could also simply drop out of the ACA entirely. That would affect everyone in the individual market and could leave some counties with no insurer for next year. Insurers could also sue the government, and most experts think they would eventually win.

    3. This could affect your insurance choices for next year. But it’s complicated.

    The impact on your plan choices and premiums for next year will vary by state and insurer. For one thing, insurers have a loophole that allows them to get out of the contracts for 2018, given the change in federal payments. So, some might decide to bail. That could leave areas with fewer — or no — insurers. The Congressional Budget Office in August estimated that stopping the payments would leave about 5 percent of people who purchase their own coverage through the ACA marketplaces with no insurers in 2018.

    For everyone else, the move would result in higher premiums, the CBO said, adding an average of about 20 percent. In some states, regulators have already allowed insurers to price those increases into their 2018 rates in anticipation that the payments would be halted by the Trump administration.

    But how those increases are applied varies. In California, Idaho, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, for example, regulators had insurers load the costs only onto one type of plan: silver-level coverage. That’s because most people who buy silver plans also get a subsidy from the federal government to help pay their premium, and those subsidies rise along with the cost of a silver plan.

    Consumers getting a premium subsidy, however, won’t see much increase in their out-of-pocket payments for the coverage. Consumers without premium subsidies will bear the additional costs if they stay in a silver plan. In those states, consumers may find a better deal in a different metal-band of insurance, including higher-level gold plans. Many states, however, allowed insurers to spread the expected increase across all levels of plans.

    4. Congress could act.

    Bipartisan negotiations have been renewed between Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to create legislation that would continue the cost-sharing subsidies and give states more flexibility to develop and sell less generous health care plans than those currently offered on the exchanges. Trump’s move to end the cost-sharing subsidies may bolster those discussions.

    In a statement, Murray called Trump’s action to withdraw cost-sharing subsidies “reckless” but said she continues “to be optimistic about our negotiations and believe we can reach a deal quickly — and I urge Republican leaders in Congress to do the right thing for families this time by supporting our work.”

    Trump on Friday urged Democrats to work with him to “make a deal” on health care. “Now, if the Democrats were smart, what they’d do is come and negotiate something where people could really get the kind of healthcare that they deserve, being citizens of our great country,” he said Friday afternoon.

    Earlier Friday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) did not sound as if he was in the mood to cut a deal.

    “Republicans have been doing everything they can for the last ten months to inject instability into our health care system and to force collapse through sabotage,” he said in a statement. “Republicans in the House and Senate now own the health care system in this country from top to bottom, and their destructive actions, and the actions of the president, are going to fall on their backs. The American people see it, and they know full well which party is doing it.”

    A poll released Friday by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that 71 percent of the public said they preferred that the Trump administration try to make the law work rather than to hasten replacement by encouraging its failure. The poll was conducted before Trump made his announcement about the subsidies. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

    5. Some states are suing, but the outcome is hard to guess.

    Even though all states regulate their own insurance markets, states have limited options for dealing with Trump’s latest move. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia, led by New York and California, are suing the Trump administration to defend the cost-sharing subsidies. But it is unclear whether a federal court could say that the Trump administration is obligated to continue making the payments while that case is pending.

    Diane Webber contributed to this report.

    Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit health newsroom whose stories appear in news outlets nationwide, is an editorially independent part of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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    Boyle speaks to the media after arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport, nearly 5 years after he and his wife were abducted in Afghanistan in 2012, in Toronto

    Joshua Boyle speaks to the media after arriving with his wife and three children to Toronto Pearson International Airport, nearly 5 years after he and his wife were abducted in Afghanistan in 2012 by the Taliban-allied Haqqani network, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, October 13, 2017. Photo by Mark Blinch/Reuters

    TORONTO — Former hostage Joshua Boyle said upon arriving back in Canada that the Haqqani network in Afghanistan had killed his infant daughter and raped his American wife during the years they were held in captivity.

    Boyle gave the statement shortly after landing in Canada late Friday with his wife, Caitlan Coleman, and three young children.

    The couple was rescued Wednesday, five years after they had been abducted by the Taliban-linked extremist network while in Afghanistan as part of a backpacking trip. Coleman was pregnant at the time and had four children in captivity. The birth of the fourth child had not been publicly known before Boyle appeared before journalists at the Toronto airport.

    “The stupidity and evil of the Haqqani network’s kidnapping of a pilgrim and his heavily pregnant wife engaged in helping ordinary villagers in Taliban-controlled regions of Afghanistan was eclipsed only by the stupidity and evil of authorizing the murder of my infant daughter,” he said.

    Boyle said his wife was raped by a guard who was assisted by his superiors. He asked for the Afghan government to bring them to justice.

    “God willing, this litany of stupidity will be the epitaph of the Haqqani network,” he said.

    He said he was in Afghanistan to help villagers “who live deep inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan where no NGO, no aid worker and no government has ever successfully been able to bring the necessary help.”

    On the plane from London, Boyle provided a written statement to The Associated Press saying his family has “unparalleled resilience and determination.”

    Coleman, who is from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, sat in the aisle of the business-class cabin wearing a tan-colored headscarf.

    She nodded wordlessly when she confirmed her identity to a reporter on board the flight. In the two seats next to her were her two elder children. In the seat beyond that was Boyle, with their youngest child in his lap. U.S. State Department officials were on the plane with them.

    [Watch Video]

    The handwritten statement that Boyle gave the AP expressed disagreement with U.S. foreign policy.

    “God has given me and my family unparalleled resilience and determination, and to allow that to stagnate, to pursue personal pleasure or comfort while there is still deliberate and organized injustice in the world would be a betrayal of all I believe, and tantamount to sacrilege,” he wrote.

    He nodded to one of the State Department officials and said, “Their interests are not my interests.”

    He added that one of his children is in poor health and had to be force-fed by their Pakistani rescuers.

    The family was able to leave the plane with their escorts before the rest of the passengers. There was a short delay before everyone else was allowed out.

    “It will be of incredible importance to my family that we are able to build a secure sanctuary for our three surviving children to call a home,” he said in his later statement at the airport. “To try to regain some portion of the childhood that they have lost.”

    Dan Boyle, Joshua’s younger brother, said outside the family home in Smiths Falls, Ontario, that he had spoken to his brother a few times in the past few days.

    “He’s doing very well. He sounds a lot like how he sounded five years ago. He sounds like he had his head on his shoulders and his wits about him,” he said.

    The Canadian government said in a statement they will “continue to support him and his family now that they have returned.”

    “Today, we join the Boyle family in rejoicing over the long-awaited return to Canada of their loved ones,” the Canadian government said.

    Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nafees Zakaria, said the Pakistani raid that led to the family’s rescue was based on a tip from U.S. intelligence and shows that Pakistan will act against a “common enemy” when Washington shares information.

    U.S. officials have long accused Pakistan of ignoring groups like the Haqqani network.

    U.S. officials consider it a terrorist organization and have targeted its leaders with drone strikes. But the Haqqani group also operates like a criminal network. Unlike the Islamic State group, it does not typically execute Western hostages, preferring to ransom them for cash.

    A U.S. national security official, who was not authorized to discuss operational details of the release and spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. obtained actionable information, passed it to Pakistani government officials, asked them to interdict and recover the hostages — and they did.

    President Donald Trump, who previously had warned Pakistan to stop harboring militants, praised Pakistan for its “cooperation on many fronts.” On Twitter, he wrote Friday that the U.S. is starting to develop “a much better relationship with Pakistan and its leaders.”

    The operation appeared to have unfolded quickly and ended with what some described as a dangerous raid, a shootout and a captor’s final, terrifying threat to “kill the hostage.” Boyle told his parents that he, his wife and their children were intercepted by Pakistani forces while being transported in the back or trunk of their captors’ car and that some of his captors were killed. He suffered only a shrapnel wound, his family said.

    U.S. officials did not confirm those details.

    A U.S. military official said that a military hostage team had flown to Pakistan Wednesday prepared to fly the family out. The team did a preliminary health assessment and had a transport plane ready to go, but sometime after daybreak Thursday, as the family members were walking to the plane, Boyle said he did not want to board, the official said.

    Boyle’s father said his son did not want to board the plane because it was headed to Bagram Air Base and the family wanted to return directly to North America. Another U.S. official said Boyle was nervous about being in “custody” given his family ties.

    He was once married to Zaynab Khadr, the older sister of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and the daughter of a senior al-Qaida financier. Her father, the late Ahmed Said Khadr, and the family stayed with Osama bin Laden briefly when Omar Khadr was a boy.

    The Canadian-born Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured by U.S. troops following a firefight and was taken to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Officials had discounted any link between that background and Boyle’s capture, with one official describing it in 2014 as a “horrible coincidence.”

    The U.S. Justice Department said neither Boyle nor Coleman is wanted for any federal crime.

    The Haqqani network had previously demanded the release of Anas Haqqani, a son of the founder of the group, in exchange for turning over the American-Canadian family. In one of the videos released by their captors, Boyle implored the Afghan government not to execute Taliban prisoners, or he and his wife would be killed.

    U.S. officials have said that several other Americans are being held by militant groups in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

    They include Kevin King, 60, a teacher at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul who was abducted in August 2016, and Paul Overby, an author in his 70s who had traveled to the region several times but disappeared in eastern Afghanistan in mid-2014.

    Benedyk reported from the plane, Colvin from Washington. Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Matthew Lee in Washington, Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Patrick Lejtenyi in Smiths Falls, Ontario, and Lolita C. Baldor in Tampa, Florida, contributed to this report.

    The post AP report: Family freed returns to Canada, says 1 child killed appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    racial bias

    Children used an app that assessed their implicit racial bias. Photo by Li Zhao/CC BY-ND

    Racial bias can seem like an intractable problem. Psychologists and other social scientists have had difficulty finding effective ways to counter it – even among people who say they support a fairer, more egalitarian society. One likely reason for the difficulty is that most efforts have been directed toward adults, whose biases and prejudices are often firmly entrenched.

    My colleagues and I are starting to take a new look at the problem of racial bias by investigating its origins in early childhood. As we learn more about how biases take hold, will we eventually be able to intervene before any biases become permanent?

    Measuring racial bias

    When psychology researchers first began studying racial biases, they simply asked individuals to describe their thoughts and feelings about particular groups of people. A well-known problem with these measures of explicit bias is that people often try to respond to researchers in ways they think are socially appropriate.

    Starting in the 1990s, researchers began to develop methods to assess implicit bias, which is less conscious and less controllable than explicit bias. The most widely used test is the Implicit Association Test, which lets researchers measure whether individuals have more positive associations with some racial groups than others. However, an important limitation of this test is that it only works well with individuals who are at least six years old – the instructions are too complex for younger children to remember.

    Recently, my colleagues and I developed a new way to measure bias, which we call the Implicit Racial Bias Test. This test can be used with children as young as age three, as well as with older children and adults. This test assesses bias in a manner similar to the IAT but with different instructions.

    Here’s how a version of the test to detect an implicit bias that favors white people over black people would work: We show participants a series of black and white faces on a touchscreen device. Each photo is accompanied by a cartoon smile on one side of the screen and a cartoon frown on the other.

    racial bias

    Example of a screen a child would see. Photo by Gail Heyman/CC BY-ND

    In one part of the test, we ask participants to touch the cartoon smile as quickly as possible whenever a black face appears, and the cartoon frown as quickly as possible whenever a white face appears. In another part of the test, the instructions are reversed.

    The difference in the amount of time it takes to follow one set of instructions versus the other is used to compute the individual’s level of implicit bias. The reasoning is that it takes more time and effort to respond in ways that go against our intuitions.

    Do young children even have racial biases?

    Explicit racial biases have been documented in young children for many years. Researchers know that young children can also show implicit bias at the earliest ages that it has been measured, and often at rates that are comparable to those seen among adults.

    Some studies suggest that precursors of racial bias can be detected in infancy. In one such study, researchers measured how long infants looked at faces of their own race or another race that were paired with happy or sad music. They found that 9-month-olds looked longer when the faces of their own race were paired with the happy music, which was different from the pattern of looking times for the other-race faces. This result suggests that the tendency to prefer faces that match one’s own race begins in infancy.

    These early patterns of response arise from a basic psychological tendency to like and approach things that seem familiar, and dislike and avoid things that seem unfamiliar. Some researchers think that these tendencies have roots in our evolutionary history because they help people to build alliances within their social groups.

    However, these biases can change over time. For example, young black children in Cameroon show an implicit bias in favor of black people versus white people as part of a general tendency to prefer in-group members, who are people who share characteristics with you. But this pattern reverses in adulthood, as individuals are repeatedly exposed to cultural messages indicating that white people have higher social status than black people.

    A new approach to tackling bias

    Researchers have long recognized that racial bias is associated with dehumanization. When people are biased against individuals of other races, they tend to view them as part of an undifferentiated group rather than as specific individuals. Giving adults practice at distinguishing among individuals of other races leads to a reduction in implicit bias, but these effects tend to be quite short-lived.

    In our new research, we adapted this individuation approach for use with young children. Using a custom-built training app, young children learn to identify five individuals of another race during a 20-minute session. We found that 5-year-olds who participated showed no implicit racial bias immediately after the training.

    Although the effects of a single session were short-lived, an additional 20-minute booster session one week later allowed children to maintain about half of their initial bias reduction for two months. We are currently working on a game-like version of the app for further testing.

    Only a starting point

    Although our approach suggests a promising new direction for reducing racial bias, it is important to note that this is not a magic bullet. Other aspects of the tendency to dehumanize individuals of different races also need to be investigated, such as people’s diminished level of interest in the mental life of individuals who are outside of their social group. Because well-intended efforts to reduce racial bias can sometimes be ineffective or produce unintended consequences, any new approaches that are developed will need to be rigorously evaluated.

    And of course the problem of racial bias is not one that can be solved by addressing the beliefs of individuals alone. Tackling the problem also requires addressing the broader social and economic factors that promote and maintain biased beliefs and behaviors.
    The Conversation
    Gail Heyman is a professor of psychology at the University of California, San Diego.

    This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

    The post How to combat racial bias: Start in childhood appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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