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

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    Icicles are seen under a bridge handrail on the West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, January 25, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA. - RTX23VA3

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news, deadly cold is sweeping across parts of Asia as well, bringing decades-low temperatures and causing more than 65 deaths. Most of the deaths came in Taiwan, where readings hit a 16-year low of 39 degrees. Temperatures for January in Taiwan usually average in the ’60s.

    And in mainland China on Sunday, the city of Guangzhou saw its first snow since 1967. Residents took part in snowball fights and captured the flurries on their phones.

    A pair of suicide bombings in Syria and Cameroon today left more than 50 dead. In Syria, a man driving a fuel tank blew himself up at a checkpoint in the city of Aleppo, killing at least 23. And in Cameroon, four bombers attacked a market and town in the far north region. At least 35 people died there. The Islamist group Boko Haram is suspected in the Cameroon bombing.

    More attacks in the West Bank today. Israeli police say two Palestinians stabbed and wounded two Israeli women in a Jewish settlement. The attackers were shot dead. It’s the latest sign that a surge of Palestinian violence has shifted its focus to Jewish settlers.

    The United Nations’ health agency is raising new alarm about the Zika virus. It’s been linked to brain damage in thousands of infants. And now the World Health Organization says the mosquito-borne virus will likely spread to every country in the Americas. The only exceptions are Canada and Chile.

    In Geneva today, the agency’s director said researchers don’t have much experience with Zika.

    DR. MARGARET CHAN, Director-General, World Health: The explosive spread of Zika virus to new geographical areas, with little population immunity is another cause for concern, especially given the possible link between infection during pregnancy and babies born with small heads.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Until now, the disease has been largely confined to Brazil, where there’ve been nearly 4,000 suspected cases of fetal deformation.

    Back in this country, a Houston grand jury has cleared Planned Parenthood officials of wrongdoing. Instead, the panel today indicted two anti-abortion activists who secretly taped them. The activists are accused of tampering with a governmental record and a separate misdemeanor count.

    A U.S. Supreme Court decision today means some 1,200 prison inmates convicted of murder will get a chance at parole. The court had ruled in 2012 that people given life terms as teenagers should have that opportunity. Today’s decision makes the ruling retroactive. Separately, the court upheld a federal program that pays major electricity users to cut usage during peak hours.

    A judge in Detroit has denied a restraining order to stop public school teachers from skipping class in protest. They have staged a number of sick-outs in recent weeks. It’s a protest over pay, building conditions and a reform plan.

    And on Wall Street today, slumping oil prices dealt stocks yet another blow. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 208 points to close at 15885. The Nasdaq fell 72 points. And the S&P 500 lost nearly 30.

    The post News Wrap: Abnormal cold snap kills dozens in East Asia appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man tries to dig out his car in Falls Church, Virginia, as a blizzard hits the east coast January 23, 2016.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTX23Q50

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: At least 37 are dead, business and government disrupted, uncounted tons of snow to remove. That was the tally today as the Eastern United States struggled to recover from a weekend walloping.

    The storm brought damage across the East Coast, and had many trying to dig out.

    With snowplows, shovels, and shoving, it was another long day of digging for millions of people and the first attempt at getting to work since the blizzard hit.

    MAN: It’s just really bad, really, really bad. I have never seen it like this before in a long, long time.

    MAN: I didn’t think it was going to be this bad. Like, no transportation? Really? Like, not everybody has a car.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: For many, the wintry blast made for a three-day weekend, at least, with businesses shuttered and schools closed from Virginia to New Jersey.

    But, in New York, city buses, subways and commuter rail service moved toward restoring regular schedules. That permitted schools and Wall Street to reopen, despite the second largest snowfall ever recorded in the Big Apple.

    MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO: If we had had 0.2 more inches at the Central Park monitoring station, we would have had literally the largest snow accumulation in the history of New York City.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mayor Bill de Blasio today praised the city’s preparation and response.

    MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO: We are so blessed to have the personnel, the training, the equipment that allows New York City to turn on a dime. And things are not entirely normal today, but a lot of the city is operating well, thanks to all of the people who work for the agencies representing — represented here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In nearby New Jersey, however, coastal dwellers assessed the damage after flooding compounded the storm’s effect.

    WOMAN: The damage was bad. There was more debris than there was from Sandy laying all over the streets.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, Philadelphia and Baltimore braced for longer cleanups from more snow than they have ever seen.

    Philly Mayor Jim Kenney:

    MAYOR JIM KENNEY (D), Philadelphia: In one night, we received more — 18-some inches. It was the largest single snowfall in a 24-hour period. So, we do appreciate your patience. We’re getting to your streets. We have to take care of the big ones first to get everything rolling. And then — that affects the most number of people. But we haven’t forgotten you. And we are coming or we are already there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in Washington, D.C., where more than two feet of snow fell, government buildings remained closed today. And the U.S. House of Representatives announced all votes would be put off until next week. Limited bus and subway service resumed in the capital, but the push to clear buried side streets and entire neighborhoods throughout the capital region went on.

    MAN: This is the worst I have ever seen in 25 years. The side streets are not cleaned, period. I mean, we — I haven’t seen a plow on this block, I would say, since Friday.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:
    The city continued under a state of emergency, and Mayor Muriel Bowser cautioned it could take days to move all that snow.

    MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D), Washington, D.C.: We knew that we would have, with 24 inches of snow in the District and very cold temperatures throughout the week, several days of cleanup ahead of us. We know that we are going to be dealing with snow all of this week.

    It is important to note that the roads are still dangerous. We talked to you about the weather conditions. And it’s getting warmer during the day and freezing at night, so any wet surfaces can become icy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Part of the nightmare left by the blizzard, nearly 12,000 flights were canceled over the weekend. And even as limited service resumed in Washington, New York and elsewhere, delays and more cancellations reverberated around the country.

    Still, the big blast of winter didn’t stop people from looking for fun. In Washington, there was sledding down the snowbound steps of the Lincoln Memorial, kite-surfing on the National Mall. And kids and adults alike turned out for a massive snowball fight in one city square Sunday.

    WOMAN: I have never been to like a citywide snowball fight, and this is fantastic. I’m absolutely loving it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Even the first dogs, Bo and Sunny, managed to enjoy a romp on the White House grounds.

    Standing by is the mayor of New York City, whose — whose city was hit as hard as any place by this storm.

    Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining us.

    Just how big is the challenge at this point?

    MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO , New York: Well, Judy, New York City is coming out of this pretty quick.

    We certainly have some parts of the five boroughs where we have more work to do in terms of some of our side streets and residential areas. But I think amazing work was done by our sanitation department getting out there right at the beginning of the storm with a huge amount of personnel and apparatuses out to deal with this.

    So, by the time we got to this morning rush hour, we were in pretty good shape here in New York City. We managed to have school open, not business as usual, but, by and large, the day went pretty smoothly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There are news reports that have it that, even though the city has pretty much returned to normal, the borough of Queens had a tougher time.

    How do you — what is the distinction between places that have done well and others that have just taken longer?


    MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO:
    Right.

    Well, look, we had a huge operation in Queens. We started with 850 plows, and we sent 70 more over from different parts of the city. As those other boroughs got more cleaned up, we sent additional personnel to help out Queens.

    A lot of narrow, small side streets in Queens. Queens got a little more snow than the rest of the city, in Central Park, just over 27 inches, out at JFK Airport, for example, 30.5 inches. So, that made it a little harder in some neighborhoods.

    Some parts of Queens actually were handled particularly well. Others, I think there were some challenges that we’re going to look at when this is over and figure out if we have to make some adjustments.

    But the big story here, I think, is that, by and large, New Yorkers honored the travel ban that we put in place. And that was so important. We did that late morning Saturday. That got the roads essentially clear of vehicles, so our sanitation workers could really plow nonstop throughout the remainder of Saturday into Sunday.

    I think that is the number one reason why we got back and running so well. But we will figure out afterwards if we have to make some adjustments for the next one.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that is what I wanted to ask you about, because there were clearly some decisions that were made early on that seemed to make a difference.

    What do you think the lessons are coming out of this? What do you see working and what might you do differently the next time?

    MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO: First of all, I think we are in the age of extreme weather, whether we like it or not. This is obviously the result of global warming.

    We saw this — this was 0.2 inches away from being literally the biggest snowfall in the history of New York City since records were kept back in 1869 originally, with the same exact monitoring station in Central Park over almost 150 years. So, we have seen one of our biggest storms ever. We saw — last year, we were predicted to get another one like that ended up hitting Boston and areas to the east of us with outstanding force.

    So, we have got to get used to the fact that we will have these kind of blizzards. We saw very, very extreme hot temperatures in the summer, obviously, a few years ago, Hurricane Sandy, worst natural disaster this city has ever seen. So, something is going on. It’s quite obvious. We’re going to have to do more early presentation, more warning people to change their habits, to change their daily schedule when one of these things is going on.

    Travel bans are the kind of tool we will need to use, I think, from time to time in the future, because it works. And, then, again, we’re going to figure out afterwards, where were some of the soft spots? Where were some of the areas we could have done better?

    But the real story here is, tell people early something very large is coming, you cannot do business as usual, change your plans, change your habits. That’s our best chance of getting it right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just very quickly, Mayor de Blasio, is an experience in a city like New York, is that transferable, translatable to other cities, or is every city facing a completely different set of circumstances

    MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO: I wouldn’t say completely different. I think we’re — look, we have obviously a huge public work force and a lot of equipment. We have a blessing in that way.

    But I think what is universal among cities is communicating with our people, setting an expectation early on that we’re going to need them to handle a storm a certain way. And I think, because of extreme weather in recent years, people are more receptive. If we tell them they need to evacuate or they need to do something differently, I think they hear it differently than even five or 10 years ago, when those extreme weather instances were much rarer.

    So, it’s about communication and early action.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:
    Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, we thank you. And good luck.

    MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s turn back to Washington, D.C., where the digging out and cleaning up is going a little more slowly. And there has been some frustration around the city.

    Christopher Geldart is the emergency manager for the District of Columbia. And he joins us from the Reeves Municipal Center in D.C.

    Mr. Geldart, thank you for being with us.

    I know these are two very different cities, but there are reports that D.C. has had a harder time getting on top of this storm. Is that true?

    CHRISTOPHER GELDART, Emergency Manager for the District of Columbia: Good evening, Judy.

    I don’t know of those reports. And, to be quite honest, I have no idea what is going on in New York. We are extremely focused on the District here and what we need to do to get the District back in operating order and get people back to business and kids back to school.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How is it going? How would you describe the challenge?

    CHRISTOPHER GELDART: You know, Judy, 24 inches of snow throughout the city, that’s a challenge. That’s — those are numbers that we haven’t seen in one single falling since like 1922 in our Knickerbocker Storm. So it’s very challenging. We have got a lot of volume to remove.

    You know, not — you can’t just — in a city, you just can’t push snow off on to the sides, because we don’t have that kind of area. We actually have to pick it up. So, our main focus has been on cleaning our main arterials, on our secondary streets, and we have got those to 100 percent passability today. And now we’re going to be focusing on really digging into our main areas where our residents are.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you have the resources you need?

    CHRISTOPHER GELDART: You know, Judy, we have a whole lot of resources.

    We probably have about 35 to 40 percent more resources than we normally do at any given time. And, you know, we could always use more resources. Everybody could. And we’re still looking for them. We have put a call out for some more resources today, especially in our removal areas, our backhoes and our Bobcats and dump trucks.

    So, we are continuously looking for more resources. But we’re well into this, and our crews are working hard. Our men and women of our Department of Public Works, National Guard, Department of Transportation, the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, just all the agencies in the city have been really putting their back into it and getting the job done.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Are there steps that you now wish you could have taken ahead of time to make this easier at this point? And what are you telling residents in terms of getting all the streets cleared?

    CHRISTOPHER GELDART: You know, Judy, I think we put our response in place. We had planned for this for several days as the storm came, as we became more and more clear that we were going to get this kind of storm.

    So, I think we were positioned where we needed to be in that sense. And, you know, basically, we’re telling residents to — this is a big storm. We need them to clean their sidewalks and shovel those out. We’re asking businesses to shovel in front of businesses. That’s their responsibility. And we’re taking care of the streets. And we just wants folks to be safe.

    The mayor just announced today schools will open on Wednesday, so another day that we want to make sure the students aren’t walking in the street and being in harm’s away. So we’re taking the precautions we need to, and we’re cleaning the city up like it needs to be.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Christopher Geldart, the director of the District of Columbia’s Emergency Management Agency, we thank you.

    CHRISTOPHER GELDART: Thank you, Judy.

    You can find more coverage of the storm and its aftermath on our Web site. That’s PBS.org/NewsHour.

    The post How early warnings made the difference in blizzard of ‘16 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A sign is pictured at the entrance to a Planned Parenthood building in New York in 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A sign is pictured at the entrance to a Planned Parenthood building in New York in 2015. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    A Texas grand jury has indicted two anti-abortion activists, who secretly recorded videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing how the health care provider transferred aborted fetal organs to researchers, the Houston Chronicle reported.

    Following a two-month investigation into allegations that targeted Planned Parenthood, a Harris County grand jury cleared the organization of any wrongdoing and instead indicted two undercover filmmakers who had hoped to expose the organization of wrongdoing. David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress were indicted on second-degree felony charges of tampering with a governmental record, Harris County district attorney Devon Anderson said in a statement Monday.

    The charge carries a prison punishment of up to 20 years. Daleiden, director of the anti-abortion group, was also indicted on a Class A misdemeanor count related to the prohibition of the purchase and sale of human organs. If convicted, the punishment is up to a year in jail, the Chronicle reported.

    “We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” Anderson said in the statement. “As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case,” she said.

    The post Undercover activists who targeted Planned Parenthood indicted in Texas appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama is proposing a plan that would provide more than 30 million people access to a retirement account. Photo by Mary F. Calvert/Reuters

    President Barack Obama is proposing a plan that would provide more than 30 million people access to a retirement account. Photo by Mary F. Calvert/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will pitch some new proposals to expand access to retirement savings accounts and revisit some old ones when issuing his budget next month.

    Many Americans are not well prepared for retirement, with nearly one in three yet to retire having any savings or pension available for their later years, according to a Federal Reserve report.

    The White House says Obama’s proposals, if enacted, would provide more than 30 million people access to a retirement account.

    The biggest chunk of that increase would occur through legislation requiring employers that don’t offer a retirement plan to automatically enroll their workers in an Individual Retirement Account. The employers that did so would get a tax credit of $3,000 to help them offset the administrative expense. The proposal was also part of last year’s budget, but Congress did not pass it.

    On the new front, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez says the administration will seek to make it easier for multiple employers to join together to offer retirement plans. For small employers, that would mean lower administrative expenses.

    We are willing to take steps to make it easier and cheaper for employers to offer a path to dignified retirement,” Perez said. “They should be willing to do the right thing and set up more plans so their workers can save.”

    Perez said that employers with a common bond, say auto dealers, can now pool together to offer a retirement plan. He said the president will recommend doing away with the “common bond” requirement and let people from all kinds of businesses join together. The White House says it’s recommending that Congress pass legislation that would ensure the long-term sustainability of such arrangements.

    A few states have recently approved state-run retirement plans for private-sector workers. The Obama administration says it wants to encourage those efforts and will finalize regulations later this year to ensure the plans don’t run afoul of federal pension law.

    The post Obama to push for expanding retirement plans appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A break in the border fence at the United States-Mexico border is seen outside of Brownsville, Texas, in August 2014. Although New Hampshire is far from the U.S.-Mexican border, many voters in the early voting state have been pressing presidential candidates for more in-depth solutions to the country's immigration shortfalls. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    A break in the border fence at the United States-Mexico border is seen outside of Brownsville, Texas, in August 2014. Although New Hampshire is far from the U.S.-Mexican border, many voters in the early voting state have been pressing presidential candidates for more in-depth solutions to the country’s immigration shortfalls. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    BROOKLINE, N.H. — People in New Hampshire live nearly 2,400 miles from El Paso, Texas, one of the busiest crossings on America’s Southern border. And it’s only home to about 10,000 people living illegally in the U.S. — a far cry from states like California, Texas or Florida.

    Yet, illegal immigration is a paramount concern to New Hampshire voters, and Republican presidential candidates are being faced with tough questions from voters in this small, mostly white, state on how they will handle the issue if elected.

    While GOP front-runner Donald Trump has called for a wall across the Southern border, many voters in this early voting state are searching for more in-depth solutions to the country’s immigration shortfalls. They characterize their concerns with illegal immigration as a case of fundamental fairness combined with national security or economic concerns.

    Of the 1.3 million people living in New Hampshire, roughly 94 percent of them are white, according to 2014 census data. Just 3.3 percent of the state’s population is Hispanic or Latino, compared to 17 percent nationwide, while about 5 percent is foreign-born, compared to 13 percent nationally. New Hampshire voters will head to the polls Feb. 9 for the country’s second primary season contest.

    But Bob Belanger, a voter from Brookline who recently challenged Marco Rubio on the subject during a campaign stop, said immigration concerns among New Hampshire residents do not equate to xenophobia.

    “People tend to think that we are anti-immigrant, but we’re not,” he said. “We are all immigrants, for crying out loud. We just want to know who’s coming in the front door of our country. That’s all.”

    Belanger, 57, said he’s proud of his immigrant family’s heritage. He carries around his grandfather’s green card. His grandfather was Canadian; his grandmother was originally from Ireland. He works for a New Hampshire-based manufacturing firm that builds piping for companies all over the region and the world, and says immigration personally affects him from an economic perspective.

    He believes those working here illegally drive down wages and benefits.

    “Whether it’s roofers or whether it’s welders, it affects me even when they are in Texas or California,” he said. “We are in a global economy.”

    Of the 1.3 million people living in New Hampshire, roughly 94 percent of them are white, according to 2014 census data. Belanger, like many voters here, said he’s looking for a more substantial solution than building a wall and deporting everyone who lives here illegally, as Trump proposes.

    Speaking with Rubio last week, Belanger said he’s concerned about any immigration reform that looks similar to a plan passed in 1986 under Ronald Reagan. Back then, nearly 3 million people were granted legal status, but the federal government failed, as promised in the law, to crack down on employers who hired illegals or to secure the border.

    “We were sold a bill of goods where we allowed amnesty for millions of people and then we secured the border,” he told Rubio. “The Congress never secured the borders.”

    Rubio, Florida’s junior senator, agreed and emphasized his opposition to granting legal status to people already in the U.S. before securing the border. “Until you prove to people that illegal immigration is under control, not just pass a law, until they actually see it’s working, they are not going to support doing anything for the people here illegally,” he said.

    Rubio has made immigration a central part of his stump speech, but other candidates including Jeb Bush and Chris Christie are frequently asked about border security and immigration reform in town hall meetings. John Kasich was recently asked by a voter in Concord what he would do to “deport” everyone living here illegally. His answer: “I wouldn’t.”

    Cindy Coutu, a Bedford voter, said immigration is one of her top three concerns, partly for security reasons, partly due to fairness.

    “We have people that are leaching off of our system,” she said. “People that are here illegally are receiving benefits without having worked for it, that’s bothersome to me.”

    Regardless of voters’ reasons for seeing immigration as a top concern, former state Republican Party chairman Fergus Cullen said the state’s low level of diversity makes it an “abstract” issue for many voters here.

    Because voters here don’t confront immigration on a daily basis, Cullen said their views on the issue may run along ideological or theoretical lines. Cullen now leads a non-profit that promotes immigration reform, called Americans by Choice.

    “The fact is, in New Hampshire you don’t see large Spanish-speaking populations,” he said. “And I think that matters.”

    But that doesn’t prevent some New Hampshire voters from expressing concerns.

    Kathy and Brian Hybsch, of Auburn, said immigration has become their “number 1″ issue, primarily for national security reasons.

    After terrorist attacks last year in Paris and San Bernardino, California, many of the Republican candidates began framing immigration as, first and foremost, an issue of security. Most of the Republican candidates support a temporary halt on refugees coming into the country from Syria, and Trump took the calls further, saying the country should stop letting in Muslims.

    Kathy, who said she is a Trump supporter, said she doesn’t consider herself anti-immigrant but agrees with the proposals.

    “It might not have made sense 20 years ago,” she said, “but it’s not 20 years ago.”

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

    The post Immigration is a top concern for New Hampshire voters appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama said he will ban the use of solitary confinement for juvenile and low-level offenders in federal prisons. Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

    President Barack Obama said he will ban the use of solitary confinement for juvenile and low-level offenders in federal prisons. Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Monday he will ban the use of solitary confinement for juvenile and low-level offenders in federal prisons, citing the potential for “devastating, lasting psychological consequences” from the use of the isolation as punishment.

    “It has been linked to depression, alienation, withdrawal, a reduced ability to interact with others and the potential for violent behavior,” Obama wrote in an op-ed posted Monday evening on The Washington Post’s website. “Some studies indicate that it can worsen existing mental illnesses and even trigger new ones. Prisoners in solitary are more likely to commit suicide, especially juveniles and people with mental illnesses.”

    Obama asked the Justice Department to review the use of solitary confinement last summer, as part of the administration’s increased focus on the criminal justice system. Activists have been pushing for changes to the prison system.

    The department review yielded a series of recommendations and 50 “guiding principles,” which officials said would aim to ensure solitary confinement was an increasingly rare punishment used as an option of last resort when inmates posed a danger to staff, other inmates or themselves.

    The changes would also expand treatment for the mentally ill and ensure that inmates in solitary can spend more time outside their cells.

    Obama said the reforms would affect roughly 10,000 inmates in the federal system. Roughly 100,000 people are in solitary confinement in the U.S., he said, adding that he hoped the changes would serve as a model for reforms at the state level.

    Some states already are making changes.

    New York prison officials agreed last month to overhaul the use of solitary confinement with reforms aimed at reducing the number of inmates sent to restrictive housing. Facing a lawsuit, California agreed in September to stop the practice of isolating gang leaders for unlimited periods. Mississippi, Arizona and Ohio have agreed to changes under legal pressure.

    In making his case for changes, Obama cited the “heartbreaking” case of Kalief Browder, who at 16 was arrested on suspicion of stealing a backpack and sent to the Rikers Island facility in New York for three years. Browder was kept in solitary confinement and, according to his lawyer, beaten by inmates and guards. He was never tried and was released in 2013. He killed himself last year in his mother’s Bronx home.

    Associated Press reporter Kathleen Hennessey wrote this report.

    The post Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in fed prisons appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A Peter Rabbit figure hides behind garden implements in garden at Hilltop.

    A Peter Rabbit figure hides behind garden implements in garden at Hilltop.

    A century-old Beatrix Potter tale will be released later this year, after manuscripts describing a black cat, “who leads a daring double life,” was found amid memorabilia belonging to the British children’s author.

    Penguin Random House publisher Jo Hanks said she found three manuscripts for “The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots” and a single, colored drawing of the title character in the archives of London’s Victoria & Albert museum in 2013.

    The publisher said her search and eventual discovery was prompted by a reference of the black cat in a 1970’s, out-of-print biography of Potter, Hanks told The Bookseller.

    The book will be published as a hardback by Frederick Warne and Co. in September 2016, and features an “older, slower and portlier” version of Peter Rabbit, Potter’s most popular creation, among other familiar characters, Hanks said. The book’s launch coincides with the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth.

    Hanks added that the story, which was written in 1914, only needed “light editing.”

    “Beatrix Potter obviously meant to finish the story, but things like World War I, getting married and her desire to start running a farm got in the way,” she told The Bookseller.

    In an excerpt of the book, provided by BBC, the “serious, well-behaved” cat calls herself “Miss Catherine St. Quintin” and wears a “gentleman’s Norfolk jacket and little fur-lined boots.”

    “The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots” will be illustrated by Quentin Blake, who has worked on many Roald Dahl’s children’s books. Although Blake’s illustrations would be a departure from the style of Potter’s original books, Hanks said Blake “understands the rebelliousness of animal characters and doesn’t patronize children, which was one of Potter’s bugbears.”

    Blake told BBC that he liked the newly discovered story immediately.

    “It’s full of incident and mischief and character — and I was fascinated to think that I was being asked to draw pictures for it,” Blake said.

    “I have a strange feeling that it might have been waiting for me,” he said.

    The post Older, slower Peter Rabbit has cameo in newly discovered Beatrix Potter story appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    UPDATE 1:33 p.m. EST | Navy Capt. Curt Jones Person told the press that after an initial sweep of the facility, nothing had been found and no injuries are reported.

    He reiterated that the person who reported the incidents said they heard three gunshots.

    PBS NewsHour will live stream press conferences from San Diego as they go live. Watch in the player above.

    ORIGINAL STORY | Authorities are responding to reports of shots fired at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, a spokesman told the Associated Press.

    Spokesman Mike Alvarez told the AP that shots were heard around 8 a.m. PST Tuesday in Building 26 of the compound, but said he “cannot confirm an active shooter.” The center also released a statement saying that the initial reports of the shots came from a single witness and were heard in the basement of the facility. Building 26, which houses the security office and fitness center, is just south of the main hospital complex, according to the medical center’s website.

    In a Facebook post published shortly after 8 a.m. local time, the center advised all non-emergency personnel to stay away and for occupants to “run, hide or fight.”

    **!ATTENTION!** An active shooter has just been been reported in building #26 at Naval Medical Center San Diego. All…

    Posted by Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) on Tuesday, January 26, 2016

    The hospital reported via Twitter that all children at the child care center on site are accounted for and that the center has been secured.

    Schools in the area have been placed on lockdown and people at the medical center are sheltering in place, the Associated Press reports.

    “We’re not taking any chances and are executing procedures we’ve been trained for in this kind of situation,” Alvarez told the AP.

    The post No injuries reported after shooting investigation at San Diego Navy medical center appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Video produced by Brittany Shrimpton.

    At this cabaret, you can forget about typecasting.

    Musical Mondays, a monthly cabaret held at the restaurant Hell’s Kitchen in Minneapolis, wants actors and singers to experiment with work outside their usual range, according to Max Wojtanowicz, one of the show’s hosts.

    Performers usually audition with 16 or 32 bars of a song, but do not often get to develop an entire song of their choice in a performance setting. And many of them tend to get cast repeatedly as the same type of role, Wojtanowicz said. “What we like at Musical Mondays is finding people having connect with different material that they might not be cast as,” he said.

    One recent performance included a gender-swapped rendition of “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” from the 1927 musical “Showboat,” Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” and a song from Steven Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George.”

    The cabaret, which has been running for 31 performances so far, welcomes performers of all different levels of experience, host Sheena Janson Kelly said.

    “What makes the Minneapolis theater scene so special is that it is so inclusive and stretches many different levels of experienced artists,” Kelly said. “There will always be new artists to come join us and always new ears to come hear them.”

    Local Beat is an ongoing series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation.

    The post This Minneapolis cabaret wants actors to resist typecasting appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    a government advisory group is recommending that all adults, including pregnant women and new mothers, should be screened for depression as a routine part of health care. Photo illustration by Getty Images

    a government advisory group is recommending that all adults, including pregnant women and new mothers, should be screened for depression as a routine part of health care. Photo illustration by Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — All adults, including pregnant women and new mothers, should be screened for depression as a routine part of health care, a government advisory group recommended Tuesday.

    Depression is a common public health problem, and screening simply involves health workers asking about certain symptoms even if patients don’t mention them.

    The second part of the recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is more difficult — ensuring systems are in place to properly diagnose and treat people identified through screening.

    And the guideline, published by the Journal for the American Medical Association, couldn’t determine how often adults should be screened.

    Some things to know about depression:

    DEPRESSION IS MORE THAN NORMAL SADNESS

    Officially called major depressive disorder, depression interferes with people’s ability to function in their daily lives and can even lead to suicide. Nearly 7 percent of U.S. adults experience a depressive episode each year, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates. Symptoms can include persistent sadness, feeling hopeless, difficulty concentrating, problems sleeping and loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities. People sometimes also experience physical symptoms, such as headaches or back pain, which can confuse diagnosis.

    NO SINGLE CAUSE

    Depression can affect anyone, and there are multiple risk factors. A personal crisis, such as loss of a loved one, sometimes precedes depression, but it also can occur without any obvious trigger. Depression and other mood disorders tend to run in families, and depression frequently accompanies serious physical disorders.

    Hormones can play a role, during pregnancy and after a woman gives birth. The task force cited a study that found about 10 percent of new mothers experienced a postpartum depression episode, more serious and lasting longer than so-called “baby blues.”

    WHY SCREEN?

    Depression can go unrecognized, especially if patients don’t seek a diagnosis. Updating 2009 guidelines, the task force reviewed years of research and said Tuesday that screening for depression remains an important part of primary care for adults of all ages. This time around, the guideline separately addresses pregnant and postpartum women, concluding they, too, benefit from screening.

    A variety of screening questionnaires are available, such as one that asks how often, over the last two weeks, patients have felt bad about themselves or felt like they’re a failure, had little interest in doing things or experienced problems sleeping, sleeping or concentrating.

    Still undetermined, the task force said, is how often to screen, given that a person’s circumstances and risk could change over time.

    Those aren’t new recommendations; several other health groups also have long urged depression screening, although there’s no data on how often it’s done. But the task force says one key is that appropriate follow-up be available to accurately diagnose those flagged by screening — and then to choose treatments that best address each person’s symptoms with the fewest possible side effects.

    SCREENING IS A FIRST STEP

    Treatment options include psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, a variety of antidepressants or some combination. One challenge is that there’s little way to predict which patient will respond to which treatment, Dr. Michael Thase of the University of Pennsylvania, who wasn’t involved with the task force, said in an accompanying editorial in JAMA. Many antidepressants have modest effects, and typical first-line therapies may not be enough for more severely affected patients, he noted.

    Pending a better way to choose, primary care doctors may need to get creative to be sure patients don’t abandon treatment, Thase said. He suggested that health workers call to check if patients have filled their antidepressant prescriptions, or trying web-based symptom monitoring to see if they’re responding to therapy or need a switch.

    A bigger challenge can be finding a specialist to whom primary care doctors can refer their more seriously affected patients, said Dr. Michael Klinkman of the University of Michigan, who also wasn’t involved with the task force.

    “Either the capacity is not there, or the wait times are so long that a patient who is referred is in limbo for weeks and weeks while they might be fairly sick,” said Klinkman, a family physician who works with rural primary care providers to develop needed support systems.

    The post Government task force urges doctors to screen all adults for depression appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Water bottle airport. Travel. Photo by Flickr user Leo Newball, Jr.

    Competition is allegedly the magical equalizer, but it doesn’t work at airports thanks to monopoly pricing, writes economist John Komlos. Photo by Flickr user Leo Newball, Jr.

    I just paid $5 for 85 cents worth of water. Can you guess where I was? No, I was not at the Ritz-Carlton but at my local airport over the holidays. “Big deal,” you say. “That certainly isn’t going to bankrupt you.” Maybe not. But it is a good economic lesson in the way the real economy works rather than the way it is supposed to work on academic blackboards or in the fantasy of market aficionados.

    “The invisible hand is often invisible, because it is often not there.”

    Competition is allegedly the magical equalizer. If one firm is too powerful and greedy, other suppliers are going to undercut it, and consumers will flock to the lower-price outlet. The invisible hand is going to stifle the greedy firm and consumer sovereignty will prevail.

    Sounds nice, right? But it doesn’t work at airports thanks to monopoly pricing. What does that mean? Well, there are but a handful of companies selling water at an airport, and they have a captive market, so they agree to set the price in such a way that they extract the last possible penny from the consumer. That is the idea behind “charging what the market will bear.” In other words, they collude and agree — tacitly perhaps — not to undercut one another. A firm knows that if they do lower the price, others would follow suit, and in the end, it will sell the same amount of water at a lower price. Both firms will lose, and the profits of all the firms would diminish. In order to avoid such a price war, the firms realize that it is better not to lower the price in the first place.

    As the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz keeps on reminding us: “The invisible hand is often invisible, because it is often not there.”

    Of course, such conspiracies happen all over the economy. In fact, Adam Smith wrote about it in 1776: “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” Remember the Libor scandal in which many major banks, including Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, colluded to rig interest rates in their favor? That took trillions of dollars out of our pockets by rigging mortgage rates and student loans rates and put it into the pockets of the 1 percenters. That’s more consequential than my $5 water bottle, but the principle is the same: the misplaced exercise of power to rig the market in such a way as to extract the last bit of profit from the people on Main Street.

    Charging monopoly prices at airports is particularly onerous, because it is the Transportation Security Administration that prohibits us from taking water with us. So it would behoove the government to protect us from such extortion, inasmuch as it is the one forcing us to be in such a subordinate position in the first place. So it should be government’s responsibility to protect us from price gouging.

    Caveat emptor — buyers beware — is not a useful principle when the two sides to a transaction are not on an equal footing.

    We are powerless to fight back without government support. That is why we need consumer protection and not only in financial services. We need protection for the smaller things as well, like the price of a basic need, such as water at airports. Caveat emptor — buyers beware — is not a useful principle when the two sides to a transaction are not on an equal footing.

    Well, I did not have much luck this time — the flight was delayed, and I had to buy another bottle, which I left on the airplane when we switched planes to catch a connecting flight, so I had to buy my third bottle. Then my wife also bought a bottle, and of course, I was thirsty on the way back too, so the short story is that I exhausted my water allowance for a long time to come. I think I’ll write my Congressman. Maybe he can do something about it.

    The post Column: The economic lesson behind $5 airport water appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Focused worker writing at laptop computer in office

    it’s critical to establish a strong reputation for expertise – but do it in venues where a professional community congregates to learn and to share ideas.

    Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community over the past decade.

    In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


    Question: In your previous postings, you mention that LinkedIn is a poor medium for applying to companies. (See “Is LinkedIn Cheating Employers and Job Seekers Alike?”) At the same time, building one’s reputation as an expert in their profession is a big competitive advantage while finding a professional home.

    Is LinkedIn an appropriate and productive medium to build one’s professional “brand” by publishing articles and making intelligent comments? Or do you recommend other mediums for this purpose?

    By the way, after reading your articles, I will never search for work like one of the “herd” again. The headhunter tactics that you talk about are very similar to what a consultative seller does: Ask a bunch of questions to key stakeholders, observe, design a solution and present why it is the right solution for them. Thank you.

    Nick Corcodilos: What I teach about job hunting is very similar to how good consultants sell their services – it’s all about the client, not me. If I don’t have a dead-on relevant solution for the employer, I have no business in the job interview. A job seeker, like a consultant looking for a project, needs to walk into the employer’s office with a proposal that focuses on the problems and challenges that particular manager is facing. Job interviews fail when the applicant talks primarily about herself and about her history. What gets you hired is proof that you understand the employer — and that you have a plan to help the business. My compliments on how you interview.

    On to your main question. I think LinkedIn has become a corrupt publishing platform because it reaches for quantity over quality and sells the idea that anyone can be an expert. Again and again my readers send me “expert articles” published on LinkedIn that are so blatantly self-promotional that it’s embarrassing — even articles by famous people (that seem to be ghost written).

    It seems to me that LinkedIn does not vet any of this stuff, and if it does, it needs better editors! Most of the articles I see on LinkedIn are fluff and PR. The entire purpose of LinkedIn’s publishing platform seems to be building its page count and driving comments – not to create an expert arena.

    Having said that, I think it’s critical to establish a strong reputation for expertise – but do it in venues where a professional community congregates to learn and to share ideas. I like vertical publications more than general platforms. For example, I write a weekly feature for CMO.com – it’s where marketing executives congregate. I think it’s harder to get an article published there than on LinkedIn because CMO.com (and other such professional hubs) have a strong vetting process – and that’s good. It keeps the standard high, and it earns you a meaningful reputation if you’re the writer.

    But you can publish more easily on many other professional forums – even in the comments sections. What people find hard to accept is that you can’t just submit or post a piece now and then and expect results. You have to participate long-term and be an active member of a professional community. There is no easy way to a great reputation. It grows from posting good stuff and from being a “regular.” (For some tips about building a solid reputation, see “Branding yourself suggests you’re clueless.”)

    Find niche sites where others in your field gather to talk. Publish there. That’s my two bits. I think LinkedIn has become the fish wrap of the Internet.

    Dear Readers: How do you promote your expertise? Do you find LinkedIn to be a credible “expert forum?” What online venues do you use to demonstrate your acumen?


    Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “How Can I Change Careers?”, “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

    Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

    Copyright © 2016 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

    The post Ask the Headhunter: Will publishing on LinkedIn make me look like an expert? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A congressional task force recommended several changes to the Justice Department on Tuesday, addressing how it could overhaul its corrections system, including urging Congress to repeal mandatory minimum penalties for drug offenses, and for judges to have more discretion to impose shorter sentences. Photo by Halfdark/Getty Images.

    A congressional task force recommended several changes to the Justice Department on Tuesday, addressing how it could overhaul its corrections system, including urging Congress to repeal mandatory minimum penalties for drug offenses, and for judges to have more discretion to impose shorter sentences. Photo by Halfdark/Getty Images.

    WASHINGTON — The Justice Department should limit the types of cases it brings and more nonviolent criminals should be steered toward probation and away from prison, according to task force recommendations designed to cut the federal inmate count and save more than $5 billion.

    The recommendations provide concrete steps prosecutors, judges, prison officials and policy makers can take to reduce prison overcrowding and ease spending on a corrections system that’s swelled in the last three decades as a result of harsh mandatory minimum sentences for drug criminals.

    “From severe overcrowding to an insufficient array of programs and incentives to encourage behavioral change, the system is failing those it incarcerates and the taxpayers who fund it,” said J.C. Watts Jr., a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma and chairman of the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections.

    The nine-member task force was created by Congress two years ago to recommend changes to the corrections system. The panel concluded the system is in crisis, gobbling up more than a quarter of the Justice Department budget.

    The panel said if all its recommendations were implemented, the federal inmate count could drop by 60,000 by fiscal year 2024, down from its current 196,000.

    The group’s recommendations cut across the criminal justice system, calling for Congress to repeal mandatory minimum penalties for drug offenses, except for drug kingpins, and for judges to have more discretion to impose shorter sentences.

    It also recommended that the Justice Department limit the types of cases that it brings and ensure that “only the most serious cases” are prosecuted. And it urged the Bureau of Prisons to promote programs to prevent freed inmates from reoffending.


    Some of the actions, such as an overhaul of mandatory minimum penalties, would require Congress to act — a longshot in an atmosphere in which a bipartisan effort to change the criminal justice system is in jeopardy.

    But other steps, such as encouraging shorter sentences for nonviolent drug criminals, are in keeping with recent policy directives the department has issued. And President Barack Obama has been willing to consider dramatic criminal justice revisions under his own authority, announcing on Monday night a ban on housing juvenile offenders in solitary confinement at the federal level.

    READ MORE: Stopping the revolving prison door

    The post Task force recommends how to cut U.S. prisoner count by 60,000 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders talks to reporters after a campaign event at the United Steelworkers Local in Des Moines, Iowa January 26, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTX243ZC

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to the race for president.

    Political director Lisa Desjardins takes us through the busy campaign trail just in the past day.

    LISA DESJARDINS: In campaign land, the biggest heavyweight is now the calendar. We’re at Tuesday, so candidates and voters have just six short days left until next Monday, the Iowa caucuses. And, as time wanes, intensity waxes.

    CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: All right, we are live at Drake University.

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

    LISA DESJARDINS: Last night, it was Des Moines, Iowa, where Democrats engaged at a forum hosted by CNN.

    CHRIS CUOMO: Is Secretary Clinton simply better prepared for the job than you, sir?

    Don’t leave. We have another 15 minute.

    (LAUGHTER)

    LISA DESJARDINS: Bernie Sanders, the former underdog, now co-front-runner, was first on stage.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: This calls for a standing-up response.

    CHRIS CUOMO: OK.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: That’s all.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The Vermont senator argued that his judgment outweighs Hillary Clinton’s experience.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Yes, it’s easy to get rid of a dictator like Saddam Hussein, but there’s going to be a political vacuum. There will be instability.

    And it gives me no pleasure to tell that much of what I feared, in fact, happened. Hillary Clinton voted for the war in Iraq.

    HILLARY CLINTON, Democratic Presidential Candidate: I have a much longer history than one vote, which I have said was a mistake.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Clinton responded with a double-punch, quoting President Obama on depth and readiness.

    HILLARY CLINTON: He said, you know, you don’t get to pick the issues you work on when you’re president. A lot of them come at you. They come in the door whether you open it or not.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The familiar battle lines felt sharper. Sanders, pressed about his plan to raise taxes on Wall Street, wore it as a badge of honor.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Fine, if that’s the criticism, I accept it. I demand that Wall Street start paying its fair share of taxes.

    LISA DESJARDINS: From Martin O’Malley…

    FORMER GOV. MARTIN O’MALLEY (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I’m excited.

    LISA DESJARDINS: … came both an admission of and an argument about being the underdog.

    FORMER GOV. MARTIN O’MALLEY: In the history of the state of Iowa, Iowa has found a way to sort through the noise and to sort through the national polls and to lift up a new leader for our country at times when that was critical and essential.

    HILLARY CLINTON: Hi.

    WOMAN: Hi, Secretary Clinton.

    LISA DESJARDINS: And Clinton showed a kind of quiet intensity when an Air Force veteran and Muslim American expressed concern that her children could face discrimination. The candidate blasted Republican Donald Trump as demeaning and dangerous.

    HILLARY CLINTON: He started with Mexicans. He’s currently on Muslims. But I found it particularly harmful the way he has talked about Muslims, American Muslims and Muslims around the world.

    LISA DESJARDINS: As for Trump:

    DONALD TRUMP, Republican Presidential Candidate: I am angry. I’m angry about ISIS. We can’t beat em.

    LISA DESJARDINS: He was in New Hampshire last night. But, today, some of his Republican rivals were playing up the idea of less divisive rhetoric. Marco Rubio, back in Iowa, painted himself as a unity candidate.

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: Even the people that say mean things about me, I’m going to keep their families safe. I will be a president for all Americans, even the ones that do not support me.

    LISA DESJARDINS: John Kasich, who just picked up endorsements from The Boston Globe and Concord Monitor, spoke fireside in New Hampshire.

    GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), Republican Presidential Candidate: You can’t always be with the most popular. OK? Sometimes, you have got to just be with the ones, the people that don’t have any power. Somebody’s got to speak for them.

    LISA DESJARDINS: And Ted Cruz went for bucolic optics, standing among hay bails in Iowa and picking up the endorsement of one of Trump’s most vocal critics, former candidate Rick Perry.

    FORMER GOV. RICK PERRY (R), Texas: He loves his country. He loves that Constitution.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Endorsements, handshakes and rallies, every day now is an intense fight for votes.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Lisa Desjardins.

    The post Days left before Iowa, intensity reigns on the trail appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The prison yard at the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015, is seen during a visit by US President Barack Obama. Obama is the first sitting US President to visit a federal prison, in a push to reform one of the most expensive and crowded prison systems in the world. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the latter part of his tenure, President Obama has put criminal justice reform high on his agenda.

    His latest move includes a new ban on solitary confinement for juveniles in the federal prison system. The executive actions also put new limits on how long federal prison officials can use solitary for first-time offenses.

    The Department of Justice caps its use at two months, rather than a full year. And the president prohibited federal officers from using solitary for low-level infractions.

    Hari Sreenivasan has our look.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The president’s changes would affect about 10,000 federal inmates a year.

    In an op-ed published in The Washington Post, the president cited the case of Kalief Browder, who went to prison at the age of 16 and committed suicide at 22, about two years after he was released. He spent nearly two years in solitary at Rikers Island.

    In the op-ed, the president says — quote — “Solitary confinement has the potential to lead to devastating, lasting psychological consequences. The United States is a nation of second chances, but the experience of solitary confinement too often undercuts that second chance.”

    We discuss these changes with Shaka Senghor, who was convicted of second-degree murder and sent to prison at the age of 19, and during parts of his sentence, he spent a total of seven years in solitary. He’s written a memoir and is with the group #Cut50, a national bipartisan initiative to reduce the prison population. And Maurice Chammah of The Marshall Project, a not-for-profit news organization covering the criminal justice system.

    Maurice, I want to start with you.

    One of the critiques here is that this is going to affect a very small population in federal prison, compared to the large populations that we have in state prisons. How significant is this impact going to be?

    MAURICE CHAMMAH, The Marshall Project: That’s true.

    It’s kind of hard to tell at this moment sort of how widespread it will be. One of the things the president has done has been to ban solitary confinement for juveniles in the system, and in the federal prison system, there’s maybe a dozen of that sort of inmate. But across the states, in state prisons and jails, like Rikers Island, where Kalief Browder was, there are thousands of juveniles who are sometimes held in solitary confinement.

    And the president’s actions won’t affect them, though it is a signal, of course, to people who run prison systems around the country that the kind of national mood is shifting on this.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Shaka, I’m sure you’re excited about the president’s announcement today, but tell us a bit of why you think this is important. You had been in solitary. What did it do to you in the short term and in the long term?

    SHAKA SENGHOR, #Cut50: Well, I’m super excited about the president’s decision today, because I know the impact that it is going to have on men and women who are currently in solitary confinement in the federal prison system.

    And for me, personally, knowing the devastating impact of being in the most barbaric and inhumane environment, locked down for 23 hours a day, and in some cases 24 hours a day, I just think that it’s one of those type of moments where it helps people to think about, you know, what our responsibility is in terms of men and women who come home from prison.

    And we have a choice. We have a choice whether we want to bring home healthy men and women or broken men and women. And when I was in solitary confinement, I remember dealing with depression and dealing with, you know, the feeling of hopelessness. And when you have somebody incarcerated, the last thing you want to do is leave them with a sense of hopelessness.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What did it do to you when you were coming out? What kind of effects did you still have to deal with and maybe even deal with today?

    SHAKA SENGHOR: Well, after — I served a total of seven years in solitary confinement, and at one point four-and-a-half years straight.

    And one of the things that I struggled with getting out was the ability to just communicate in normal ways with everyday people. I wasn’t very trustworthy of people touching me or standing behind me. I dealt with sensory deprivation. I dealt with depth of field perception.

    I’ll tell you, there was — I had a little struggle driving and being able to adjust because I had been in a box for so long. And so it’s small, nuanced things. And, fortunately, I was literate while I was in solitary, so I was able to read books about Nelson Mandela that kept me focused and kept me strong.

    But that’s not the typical case in an environment where the majority of men that I was around were suffering from severe cases of mental illness, and if they didn’t have it going in, they definitely left out with it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But, Maurice, what is the justification and rationale that prison officials give you for solitary confinement?

    MAURICE CHAMMAH: Well, there are a few.

    Usually, people are placed in solitary confinement because the wardens or the correctional officers in the institution feel that that person might be a threat. Either they attacked someone or they, you know, attacked, you know, either their cell mate or an officer.

    But, you know, often, the justification has kind of stretched down into smaller, more mundane, mouthing off at an officer or refusing a direct order. You know, they’re — one of the major concerns I think a lot of people have is that correctional officers have sort of become overly used to using solitary confinement as a punishment.

    Sometimes, you also hear the justification used that younger inmates, who are maybe more vulnerable, need to be in solitary confinement for their own protection. Luckily, that rationale has sort of slowly been ebbing away, though it still does exist in some prisons.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Shaka, given those reasons, did solitary work? When you were placed in there, when you came out, did your behavior change toward what they wanted? And I guess the corollary to that is, what would have worked better?

    SHAKA SENGHOR: In my instance, it was more a matter of what I chose to do with the time that I had when I was in solitary confinement.

    I actually set my cell up like I was at a college campus. But, again, that speaks to my literacy going in. To me, there’s really no long-term benefits for putting somebody in solitary confinement. And I think what I would have benefited from was actually counseling, conflict resolution, and being in an environment that nourishes the healthy part of human interactions.

    And, unfortunately, that is just not the way our systems are designed. We have a very punitive system that has been a model for decades. And I think that what the president has shown is that we have to take a step toward what we really want to see outcomes be, which is, we want to make sure that healthy men and women are returning home.

    And in order to do that, you have to pour into them a sense of respect, dignity, hope, and health. And when you fail to do that, you can’t be surprised when the outcomes aren’t positive.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Maurice, let’s talk a little bit about some of the other executive actions, or at least the initiatives that the administration is trying to outline today, besides just the ones for juveniles.

    MAURICE CHAMMAH: Sure.

    Well, he’s also limiting, basically, the way in which solitary confinement can be used sort of across the board within the federal prison system for people who break rules. And it kind of signals, sends a message sort of from the top down to Bureau of Prison administrators that they have to kind of figure out a different way to deal with people who break rules within federal prisons.

    This is kind of broadly in line with things that different states have tried out. The president did mention sort of state experiments in his op-ed. And different states are kind of looking at ways to, instead of put people in solitary confinement, to do sort of what Shaka has been describing, to give them counseling.

    In Washington state, in Colorado, they’re doing this. You’re kind of seeing that tide shift a little bit and the president’s — the president’s op-ed kind of is a capstone for that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Shaka, in just the brief amount of time we have left, you’re working with an organization that is trying to move the ball forward on different types of criminal justice reform.

    Is there a tipping point here? There seems to be some momentum that Maurice is outlining.

    SHAKA SENGHOR: Yes.

    The work that I have been doing with #Cut50 has been amazing, in the sense that it gives us an inside look at what policies are being put on the table. But the last six months, I mean, the president has set the tone as the leader in terms of assuring that he’s paving the way by going inside of prison, really coming up with these aggressive policies.

    While we know that this only impacts federal prison, I’m confident that the states will pick up his leadership and take, you know, and follow his lead.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Shaka Senghor from #Cut50, and Maurice Chammah from The Marshall Project, thanks so much for joining us.

    MAURICE CHAMMAH: Thanks for having us.

    SHAKA SENGHOR: Thank you for having us.

    The post Citing second chances, Obama pledges solitary confinement reform appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Workers use heavy machinery to remove snow from a parking area at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 26, 2016. The snowbound Washington area was resuming partial business on Tuesday as trains and buses restarted near-normal service, while federal offices remained closed following a massive blizzard that hammered the U.S. East Coast. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX243CN

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff. Gwen Ifill is away.

    On the “NewsHour” tonight: The federal government closes for a second day and the death toll climbs, as the East continues to dig itself out of that massive snowfall.

    Then: President Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prison, saying the practice has lasting and devastating effects.

    And we celebrate the birthday of genius composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by taking apart one of his masterpieces.

    ROB KAPILOW, Composer/Pianist: This is on everybody’s cell phone ring tone.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    ROB KAPILOW: Everyone has heard this. Even if you think you have never heard a note of…

    JEFFREY BROWN: Right.

    (CROSSTALK)

    ROB KAPILOW: … music, this is the one you have heard.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”

    (BREAK)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: More people and places along the snowbound East Coast got back to normal and got back to work today. But the death toll rose to 45, and, in Washington, D.C., especially, there was still a lot of digging out to do.

    The nation’s capital lurched slowly back to life on this third day after the great blizzard. Federal offices remained closed, but work crews were out early to clear more snow, and the mayor sounded cautiously optimistic.

    MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D), Washington, D.C.: We have finished two full days of plowing and removal, and our crews made good progress through the night. They have gotten down to asphalt on all major arteries.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Washington’s subway system was also back to near-normal operations, albeit with some delays. But many side streets remained unplowed, and emergency manager Chris Geldart said the focus now is getting into those neighborhoods.

    CHRISTOPHER GELDART, Emergency Manager, Washington, D.C.: That operation will continue through today and through tonight. We’re monitoring progress every two hours on where we are to ensure that we have no areas in the city that we have not touched and that are not passable.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That effort will be vital to reopening D.C. public schools tomorrow.

    Another concern: how to pay for the massive cleanup effort that’s eating up most of the city’s annual snow removal budget of $6.2 million. D.C. officials have asked for federal disaster assistance. And another kind of help arrived today in the form of a snow melter, on loan from Indianapolis. It was quickly deployed to tackle the mountains of snow being collected from city streets.

    MAN: We have water inside this, like, a giant hot tub, basically, get the BTUs to get the temperature up to a certain level, then just start loading it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, New York City with a much larger snow budget has recovered more quickly and is already clearing outer boroughs of snow.

    In the day’s other news, Wall Street surged ahead as oil prices turned higher again. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 280 points to close at 16167. The Nasdaq rose 49 points, and the S&P 500 added 26.

    A congressional task force today called for keeping more nonviolent criminals out of federal prison, and saving $5 billion in the process. The panel recommended prosecuting — quote — “only the most serious cases” and repealing mandatory minimum penalties for many drug offenses. That could cut the federal prison population by 60,000 in 2024. It’s now nearly 200,000.

    In Syria, bombings erupted in the central part of the country, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 100. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks in Homs. They struck just three days before peace talks are supposed to begin, and left refugee officials warning of the price of failure.

    JAN EGELAND, Secretary General, Norwegian Refugee Council: As we do now have momentum to get agreements, we can, as humanitarians, reach the besieged areas, all of them, within days of the agreement. All of the millions, we ought to reach within weeks. We can do it. So, finally, if they lose this momentum, I think they will live to regret it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, Syrian opposition groups backed by Saudi Arabia met in Riyadh to decide whether to attend the peace talks. And Russia pushed for the main Syrian Kurdish party to participate, despite opposition from Turkey, which considers it a terrorist group.

    A policeman in Afghanistan shot dead 10 other officers late Monday in the country’s latest insider attack. It happened in the south, in Uruzgan province, bordering the Taliban strongholds of Helmand and Kandahar. One local official said the victims were sleeping when they were killed. Another said they’d been drugged. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

    Travel warnings about the mosquito-borne Zika virus expanded today to the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said pregnant women should consider postponing any visit there and to 22 other destinations. Most are in the Caribbean and in Latin America. The virus is being linked to birth defects.

    The official design for a new World War I memorial has been unveiled in Washington. Artist renderings today show walls bearing relief sculptures of soldiers, with quotations. Each cubic foot represents an American soldier who died in the war, a total of 116,516. The memorial will be located near the White House in a small urban park.

    Something old is new again in the world of Peter Rabbit. There’s word today that an unpublished story by renowned children’s author Beatrix Potter is bound for bookstores, more than a century after it was written.

    Sharon Thomas of Independent Television News has the story.

    SHARON THOMAS: “Once upon a time, there was a serious, well-behaved young black cat. It belonged to a kind old lady who assured me that no other cats could compare with Kitty.

    The tale of “Kitty-in-Boots” tells the story of a well-behaved cat who leads a double life. For more than a century, it lay undiscovered. Beatrix Potter penned 23 books in her lifetime. Now a 24th has been unearthed. The tale of “Kitty-in-Boots” was referenced in an out-of-print biography on the author. Three manuscripts were then found in the Victoria and Albert Museum archive in London.

    Her classic “Peter Rabbit” has been published in 36 languages, and sold more than 45 million copies. Beatrix Potter had only completed a single drawing to go with “Kitty-in-Boots.” The rest will be created by illustrator Quentin Blake.

    PATRICIA ROUTLEDGE, Patron of the Beatrix Potter Society: I mean, it will go like a hot cake. It’s tantalizing, but, of course, the announcement has been made now.

    SHARON THOMAS: This July marks the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth. The tale of “Kitty-in-Boots” will be published in September.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And the story that started it all, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” was first published in 1902.

    And two passings of note.

    Actor Abe Vigoda died today in Woodland Park, New Jersey. He was best known as the mafia captain Tessio in “The Godfather,” and as the sad-sack Detective Fish in the 1970s TV series “Barney Miller.” Abe Vigoda was 94 years old.

    And Concepcion Picciotto has died at a Washington homeless shelter. She staged a three-decade peace vigil outside the White House, the longest political protest in American history.

    Still to come on the “NewsHour”: an end to solitary confinement for juveniles; the fine line between promoting security and fear on the campaign trail; a push for an alternative to college; and much more.

    The post News Wrap: Washington continues blizzard big dig appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    [Watch Video]Law enforcement will hold a press conference on the situation in Oregon, scheduled for 2 p.m. EST Wednesday. Watch that in the player above.

    The FBI and Oregon State Police have arrested several people in connection to the occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. One person was killed.

    Ammon Bundy, Ryan C. Bundy, Brian “Booda” Cavalier, Shawna Cox and Ryan W. Payne were all arrested Tuesday night along Highway 395 between Burns and John Day, Oregon, police said.

    Everyone arrested Tuesday night will face felony charges, according to law enforcement.

    Officials said one person suffered non-life threatening injuries. The injured person was reportedly transferred to a local hospital.

    Inmates (clockwise from top left) Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Peter Santilli, Shawna Cox, Ryan Payne and Joseph O'Shaughnessy are seen in a combination of police jail booking photos released by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office in Portland, Oregon Thursday. Photo by MCSO/Handout via Reuters

    Inmates (clockwise from top left) Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Peter Santilli, Shawna Cox, Ryan Payne and Joseph O’Shaughnessy are seen in a combination of police jail booking photos released by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in Portland, Oregon Thursday. Photo by MCSO/Handout via Reuters

    The arrest of Ammon and Ryan Bundy along with three others took place around 4:30 p.m. PST. Shots were fired during the arrest.

    Law enforcement said no additional information will be released at this time about the deceased person.

    In a separate event in Burns, Oregon State Police arrested Joseph Donald O’Shaughnessy, 45, of Cottonwood, Arizona. They did not give details about the nature of the arrest. The FBI have also confirmed that Peter Santilli, age 50, of Cincinnati was arrested in Burns.

    St. Charles Health System in Bend confirmed a helicopter had been dispatched to Harney County and is on standby awaiting to transport patients to its level II trauma center. The hospital is on lockdown.

    Ammon Bundy and a group of armed activists and militiamen stormed the empty headquarters of the remote wildlife refuge in Oregon on Jan. 2 to protest the impending imprisonment of two ranchers convicted of arson on federal land.

    Follow the latest updates from Oregon Public Broadcasting.

    View all of OPB’s coverage from the armed occupation in Eastern Oregon.

    The post FBI: several militants arrested, one dead in Oregon occupation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    An opposition supporter  holds up a banner reading " No Corruption" during a protest demanding fairer elections next year in front of the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) building in Managua, Nicaragua, December  9, 2015. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas - RTX1XZL0

    An opposition supporter holds up a banner reading ” No Corruption” during a protest demanding fairer elections next year in front of the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) building in Managua, Nicaragua, Dec. 9, 2015. Photo by Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters

    More countries worldwide gained ground in their fight against corruption than lost footing last year, but a new index for 2015 says there is still a long way to go.

    In 2015, Denmark topped the Corruption Perceptions Index, which was released today by the Transparency International. That means Denmark is widely viewed as the world’s least corrupt nation, a spot the Scandinavian country has held for four years in a row. Finland and Sweden followed. The United States ranked in 16th place on the index.

    In the U.S. and across Western Europe, corruption often is not as blatant as a government official who demands a bribe, but it remains a problem, says Finn Heinrich, research director for Transparency International in Berlin.

    He pointed to the Volkswagen emissions scandal in his native Germany and debate about gun control efforts despite widespread gun violence in the United States as examples of how corruption takes shape in more developed countries.

    “This is, in our view, the corrupting influence of money in politics,” Heinrich said.

    Elsewhere, corruption stems development, he said. Places that people perceive as the most corrupt among the index’s 169 countries included Afghanistan, North Korea and finally Somalia. And corruption shares a strong relationship with economic development and gross domestic product.

    Heinrich explained that on this side of the index are nations “where the fight against corruption is not taken seriously, or even worse, where the leaders of those countries start to shrink the space for citizens to express themselves and hold public officials to account.”

    Nations that have shed light successfully on corruption in recent years, such as Chile and Senegal, “just get the basics right,” he explained.

    “Prosecuting the big fish — that shouldn’t be underestimated about what message it sends to public officials and citizens who have to pay bribes,” Heinrich said.

    No matter where on the globe it unfolds, “corruption takes place where power remains unchecked,” he said.

    Corruption also is a difficult behavior to track, precisely for what it is — misbehavior often done in secret that sidesteps rules and morals.

    For more than two decades, Transparency International has released its Corruption Perceptions Index, which scores countries on a scale of 0 to 100, or very corrupt to corruption-free.

    Researchers build the index based on responses from a dozen surveys from nearly as many institutions that include the World Bank, Freedom House, World Economic Forum, African Development Bank and more. In many cases, survey respondents are economists and top regional experts, creating a point of criticism that the index yields to an elite bias over the years.

    Does the Corruption Perceptions Index fully illustrate how corrupt a nation might be? Transparency International’s own methodology for the index answers that question with a flat-out “No.”

    “The CPI is limited in scope, capturing perceptions of the extent of corruption in the public sector from the perspective of business people and country experts,” the organization says of its 2015 index. In recent years, the organization has introduced several measurements of corruption to more fully capture what shady dealings in public service and government, in addition to the index.

    Least
    Corrupt
    Countries
    Rank Most
    Corrupt
    Countries
    Rank
    Denmark 1 Somalia 167
    Finland 2 Korea (North) 167
    Sweden 3 Afghanistan 166
    New Zealand 4 Sudan 165
    Netherlands 5 South Sudan 163
    Norway 5 Angola 163
    Switzerland 7 Libya 161
    Singapore 8 Iraq 161
    Canada 9 Venezuela 158
    Germany 10 Guinea-Bissau 158
    Luxembourg 10 Haiti 154

    Source: Transparency International

    The post What’s at stake when corruption looms unchecked appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    [Watch Video]President Barack Obama will deliver remarks at a Righteous Among the Nations Award ceremony at the Embassy of Israel today. PBS NewsHour will live stream the event, scheduled for 5:45 p.m. EST.

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is honoring four people, including Americans from Indiana and Tennessee, for risking their lives to protect Jews during the Holocaust.

    The United Nations has designated Wednesday as International Holocaust Remembrance Day to commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945.

    Six million Jews were killed by Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust.

    Obama was joining Jewish leaders at a ceremony Wednesday at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, where the Righteous Among the Nations medals are to be presented posthumously. It’s the first time the ceremony is being held in the United States. Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., said Obama’s participation “will be a worthy tribute to the worthiest among us.”

    Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day which commemorates the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945. Photo by Kacper Pempel/Reuters

    Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day which commemorates the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945. Photo by Kacper Pempel/Reuters

    Last year, Obama said the international anniversary was an opportunity to reflect on progress “confronting this terrible chapter in human history” and on continued efforts to end genocide.

    “Honoring the victims and survivors begins with our renewed recognition of the value and dignity of each person,” Obama said in a written statement last January. “It demands from us the courage to protect the persecuted and speak out against bigotry and hatred.”

    Americans Roddie Edmonds of Knoxville, Tennessee; Lois Gunden of Goshen, Indiana; and Polish citizens Walery and Maryla Zbijewski of Warsaw are being recognized by Yad Vashem for protecting Jews from harm during the Holocaust. Yad Vashem, based in Jerusalem, is the world’s Holocaust education and research center.

    Righteous Among the Nations is an official title awarded by Yad Vashem on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

    Master Sgt. Edmonds participated in the landing of U.S. forces in Europe and was taken prisoner by the Germans. When the Germans ordered all Jewish prisoners of war to report, Edmonds defied the order by figuring out how to keep the Jewish POWs from being singled out for persecution.

    Gunden, a French teacher, established a children’s home in southern France that became a safe haven for children, including Jewish children she helped smuggle out of a nearby internment camp. She protected the children when French police showed up at the home.

    The Zbijewskis hid a Jewish child in their Warsaw home until the girl’s mother could take her back.

    The post Obama to honor 4 who protected Jews during Holocaust appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    There or not, Donald Trump drives the GOP debate. Photo by David Becker/Reuters

    There or not, Donald Trump drives the GOP debate. Photo by David Becker/Reuters

    MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Once again, Donald Trump steals the show.

    The billionaire Republican’s decision to tangle with Fox News and skip the final presidential debate before Iowa’s kickoff caucuses all but ensures that he — and he alone — will dominate the conversation in the closing moments of campaigning in 2016’s leadoff state.

    It’s a move that for any other candidate would probably be viewed as un-presidential. But for Trump, it’s more likely to serve as fresh evidence that he’s successfully redefining the art of presidential politics.

    “This takes guts, and is the kind mentality our country needs in order to Make America Great Again,” Trump’s campaign charged in a statement that cited his campaign slogan and confirmed the finality of his decision.

    Instead of appearing on the debate stage Thursday night, Trump said he will host an event at the same time to raise money for wounded veterans.

    The move puts the other seven Republican participants in an awkward position. Attack the party’s absentee front-runner, and provide him with even more attention? Or ignore him, and leave voters wondering what they think of the national front-runner’s hardball play just days before the Feb. 1 caucus?

    “I think, you know, the media’s been handled by him,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of Trump’s rivals for the GOP nomination, said in an interview Tuesday night on Fox News. “And I think, you know, folks have allowed him to do things that no other candidate’s ever been allowed to do in American presidential history.”

    Trump’s presidential run has been defined by such moments. He’s questioned whether Arizona Sen. John McCain is worthy of being called a war hero, graphically criticized Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and unveiled a widely condemned plan to bar Muslims from the United States.

    Each led his rivals, political professionals and pundits to predict his undoing. But instead, Trump has maintained his support in the preference polls he loves to tout — a reflection of his ability to capture the feelings of a Republican electorate deeply skeptical of the party’s establishment and the country’s news organizations.

    “I think in some ways, we’ve got to start pushing back. And I think he’s just demonstrating that, pushing against the liberal media,” said Yvonne Galusha, 57, a Trump backer who works at the University of Iowa and attended his Tuesday night rally in Iowa City.

    For the past several days, Trump had sought Kelly’s removal as a moderator of the Thursday night debate. His back and forth with the network reached a tipping point on Tuesday afternoon, when Fox News mocked Trump with a sarcastic statement that said the leaders of Iran and Russia “both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president.”

    His rivals tried to paint his reaction — “Let them have their debate and let’s see how they do with the ratings,” Trump said — as the latest example of why he’s unfit for the White House.

    “If he doesn’t want to be there, that’s okay with me,” Christie told Kelly on her show Tuesday night. “But I’ll tell you this: the American people should wonder if you’re not willing to show up when everything isn’t going your way and exactly the way you want to.”

    That’s an argument yet to dent Trump’s standing among his supporters, who view such actions as a reminder of what they like most about him: Trump plays by his own rules, even if that means taking on his party’s leadership and his party’s favorite television network.

    “With me, they’re dealing with somebody that’s a little bit different,” Trump said. “They can’t toy with me like they toy with everybody else.”

    Republican officials tried to hide their disappointment, if not their concern for the tremendous power Trump wields in the 2016 primary contest.

    “Every candidate has the right to decide not to participate in a sanctioned debate,” said Steve Duprey, the official in charge of the Republican National Committee’s debate efforts. “Time will tell whether this works to his benefit or hurts his campaign.”

    Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said Wednesday that “Mr. Trump doesn’t play games. … He walks away from bad deals.”

    “At the end of the day,” he said on MSNBC, “Mr. Trump is going to have the last laugh.”

    Debates have long been considered critical moments for voters and candidates alike, and Fox News was more pointed than the RNC in its response to Trump’s decision to sit their event out. “We’re not sure how Iowans are going to feel about him walking away from them at the last minute,” the network said in a statement.

    Marc McGee, a graphic artist who lives in Cedar Rapids and was at Trump’s rally Tuesday night, said Trump made the wrong call.

    “You should show up and go through the motions, you know,” he said. “If I was mad at work, I don’t just stay home, you know.”

    Still, the 52-year-old voter said the decision didn’t really bother him, describing it more likely an attempt to draw attention than anything else.

    “He’s trying to steal the thunder, which is very ingenious,” said McGee.

    Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report from Iowa City, Iowa.

    The post Once again, Trump dominates the conversation. Is it by design? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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