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

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now we break down the math and the movement for the Democrats and for Republicans facing the reality of Donald Trump at the top of their ticket with our Politics Monday team, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR.

    And welcome back to both of you. It is Monday.

    So, Amy Walter, you just heard from Senator Merkley. You heard from Congressman Yarmuth.

    What is the state of this Democratic contest right now?

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Well, I think they summed it up pretty well, which is, there have been skirmishes in this race, but there is not a big, gaping wound here that Democrats or the Democratic nominee, specifically Hillary Clinton, is going to have to heal.

    And we have talked about this before, but the real challenge for the Democrats going forward — and I think you have pointed this out, too — is more generational than it is anything else, but that Donald Trump helps to generate enthusiasm where Hillary Clinton cannot.

    And so where she may have trouble getting those young voters who have been turning out for Bernie Sanders, it is very hard to believe that those voters are going to go to Donald Trump. And, in fact, what may be getting them out to vote is going to be Donald Trump, enthusiastically voting against him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tamara, you have been talking, I think, to the Clinton people today. Do they think it is going to be relatively easy to come together with Senator Sanders when all this is over?

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR: They are not entirely clear on that. Senator Sanders is, you know, doing the process that Senator Sanders needs to do to get to where he is comfortable and where he can get his voters to come along.

    I think that, if Bernie Sanders, the day after voting in Washington, D.C., flipped a switch and said, I endorse Hillary Clinton, I don’t know his supporters would buy it. So I think that Bernie Sanders is in a process and the Clinton people are — in some ways are just watching it of figuring out how he does move forward. And Senator Merkley talked about some of that.

    AMY WALTER: And I think they have surrogates that can help to do that, too.

    I totally agree with Tamara that Bernie Sanders going out and saying to supporters, OK, it’s time to go and support Hillary Clinton, I don’t know if they would actually believe that.

    But, right now, you’re already starting to see two of the most important people on the Democratic side, President Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren, both taking aim at Donald Trump, basically saying to Democrats, even though they haven’t formally endorsed Hillary Clinton, you guys, it’s time to get serious about the general election. We know who we’re up against. It’s Donald Trump. Let’s focus our attention on him, get away from the fighting.

    And I think you will also see President Obama playing a very big role in the November campaign.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of Donald Trump, Tamara, today and over the weekend, there was a lot of reaction to several news stories about the presumptive Republican nominee, the one that we just heard in John Yang’s report about his encounters with a number of different women over the years, over the past few decades.

    Some of them, he dated. Some of them worked for him. Some of them, he knew in beauty contests. As we also saw, one of the women who was described as being critical of him in that New York Times story is now saying she was taken out of context.

    Where does this all come down? Is he affected by this in a serious way?

    TAMARA KEITH: And I will say that, in the time that you have been on the air, Donald Trump has been on yet another tweet storm about this story.

    And on Twitter, he just tweeted that The New York Times interviewed 50 women, and they only used six of them, and those six were the ones that didn’t fit their narrative. So, Donald Trump is on a rail about this, which is interesting.

    This article is not necessarily his biggest problem when it comes to female voters. He has a challenge with female voters as it is. There is a treasure trove for opposition researchers of interviews that he has done over the years with Donald Stern, for instance — or with Howard Stern, where he said some pretty crude things over the years, because that’s the format of that show.

    So this is probably not the last time we are going to hear these kinds of things.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it a problem, Amy, for him?

    AMY WALTER: You know, I think the challenge right now for Democrats and for anybody else who doesn’t want to see Donald Trump elected is that voters are willing to forgive a certain amount about Donald Trump, especially the Donald Trump of the ’80s and ’90s, who was an entertainer, who wasn’t running for president.

    And I think the challenge will be for them to focus on what his policies and positions mean for people as president, rather than what he’s done in his time in the ’80s and ’90s. I don’t think it helps Democrats to focus on that, just as I don’t think it helps Republicans to rehash the ’90s and Bill Clinton and his problems with women.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But we know that — Amy and Tam, we know that a number of news media organizations, certainly The Washington Post, has said that they are assigning a large number of reporters to look into Donald Trump’s history. They said they’re doing the same thing about Hillary Clinton.

    And yet we’re already seeing the difficulty in this, I guess you would call it a relationship between the news media and Donald Trump’s candidacy. It’s already incredibly prickly.

    TAMARA KEITH: Well, and it’s a real challenge for the news media, a challenge that we in the media haven’t always met particularly well.

    Donald Trump, if you just want to focus on policy, he, at times, seems to be saying different things on the same policy in the same interview, and it presents a real challenge.

    But, for him, that’s totally — that’s part of his brand. Donald Trump’s brand has been that he shoots from the hip, that he’s the guy who says it like it is. And all of that fits for him.

    So, I think that the Clinton campaign and Democrats are going to have this challenge of how they figure out — you know, calling him a flip-flopper isn’t going to really be a problem for Donald Trump.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It is a challenge.

    AMY WALTER: That is the biggest challenge.

    And I think those of us in the media and those of us inside Washington, we hear somebody that talks about being flexible on issues, and we say, as Tam pointed out, they’re a flip-flopper or they don’t have an ideological core.

    And a lot of voters look at that and go, well, of course he should be flexible. If you’re going to get real stuff done, if you’re going to compromise, if you’re going to make deals, you have got to be flexible around the edges.

    And so, you know, going in and talking about Donald Trump’s positions specifically are going to be difficult, which I think is why you’re going to hear a lot about his judgment. Is this the kind of person who has the judgment and the temperament to do the job as president?

    And, look, they are going to talk about his relationships with women and what it would mean in terms of his judgment and his temperament going forward.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s pretty clear that the Trump campaign trying to change the subject.

    I’m just being told by our producer that the Trump campaign has just announced that he is going to be meeting with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger…

    AMY WALTER: Of course.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: … later — later this week.

    Much more to talk about. Hoping to get to what is happening to this effort to find an alternative in the Republican Party to Donald Trump.

    Does either one of you want to say that that is going to go anywhere right now?


    TAMARA KEITH: I would like to say that it is probably not going anywhere. It’s late in the game, very late in the game.

    And experts who have looked at this thing — the person looking who was at it for Michael Bloomberg to see if it would be possible for him to jump in, they felt like they were late, and that was months ago.

    AMY WALTER: Concur. It should have — if they wanted to have an alternative, it should have happened about six to eight months ago.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you.

    TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

    AMY WALTER: You’re welcome.

    The post Donald Trump’s teflon presents head-scratching challenge for Democrats appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Supporters of contraception rally before Zubik v. Burwell, an appeal brought by Christian groups demanding full exemption from the requirement to provide insurance covering contraception under the Affordable Care Act, is heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., March 23, 2016.     REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo - RTSEJDO

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: It was a busy day at the Supreme Court. The justices weighed in on a handful of cases, including what was supposed to be one of this term’s blockbusters: a dispute pitting religious freedom against mandate to cover contraception under the Affordable Care Act.

    But the eight justices failed to offer a definitive decision, sending the case back down to lower federal courts.

    President Obama addressed the decision, and speculated there might have been a different outcome if the vacancy left by the late Justice Scalia had been filled. He spoke with BuzzFeed News.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Women will still continue to be able to get contraception if they are getting health insurance.

    And we are properly accommodating religious institutions who have objections to contraception. I won’t speculate as to why they punted, but my suspicion is, if we had nine Supreme Court justices, instead of eight, there might have been a different outcome.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: We break down the short-handed court and its rulings today with chief Washington correspondent for “The National Law Journal” and “NewsHour” regular Marcia Coyle.

    Marcia, we spoke about this when the justices seemed to ask for more information from everyone, trying to figure out a third way. So here was a decision without really a decision.

    MARCIA COYLE, The National Law Journal: Well, actually, that third way was sort of an opening for the court.

    Right after oral arguments, when it looked like the court was going to divide 4-4, they issued a special order telling the parties, the government and the nonprofit employers, to brief their own suggested compromise, a compromise offered by the court itself.

    Well, when the brief came back, Hari, it really didn’t look like there was a lot of room for compromise there. But there was enough there that the court, in its opinion today, which was an unsigned opinion read by the chief justice from the bench, the court said, look, it looks as though there’s been movement on both sides here. Let’s give the parties the opportunity in the lower courts to develop it before we, as the Supreme Court, would get involved in it.

    And that’s what they did. They said specifically they wouldn’t decide whether the government’s plan in practice now to accommodate religious objections substantially burdened these employers’ exercise of religion or whether the government had a compelling interest here or was choosing the least restrictive means to achieve that interest, which is the test under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

    So, they vacated the lower court decisions in the seven cases that they had before them, and then they also had an additional six cases that were awaiting the outcome in today’s decision. They vacated the lower court rulings in those cases, overwhelmingly had been in favor of the government.

    And, basically, those federal appellate courts will be starting now from scratch to see if there really is an opening for a compromise here.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, if you’re starting over from scratch, doesn’t that mean that they could come either back to the same conclusion or, if you have got a number of courts, perhaps there will be a disagreement and then this — the merits of the case come back in front of the Supreme Court?

    MARCIA COYLE: Absolutely.

    If either side is unhappy with the result, they can come back to the Supreme Court. In fact, there was a separate concurrence by Justice Sotomayor joined by Justice Ginsburg in which they said, the court is not ruling on the merits here, so if the lower courts end up reaching the same legal results they did before, that’s what happens, and then the next step will follow.

    But they also said that the nonprofit employers’ suggestion that there should be contraceptive-only insurance policies was not workable. Those policies did not exist, according to the government, and would not provide the seamless health insurance coverage that Congress intended under the act.

    So they sort — those two justices, at least, have drawn a line in terms of what they might accept.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, let’s talk of the second case that kind of came out today was, again, another non-decision to kick it down.

    Spokeo, this was the online search engine and the type of results someone could get and whether, I guess, they have standing or not to sue for it.

    MARCIA COYLE: Right.

    Spokeo, as you said, is an Internet search engine. And it had put up online certain information about a man named Tom Robins. And that information was largely incorrect. And he claimed that that injured him in a number of ways, including his job prospects.

    He was looking for a new job at the time. Credit information was wrong about him. So, he sued, saying that Spokeo’s procedural violations under the federal Credit — Fair Credit Reporting Act harmed him.


    MARCIA COYLE: And the question before the court was basically, can just saying that a violation of that act alone give you the legal right or standing to sue?

    And the court today sent the case back to the lower federal appellate courts, saying, basically, what you said here is, you only did half the analysis for standing. You found that there was a particularized injury to Mr. Robins, but the other half is, it has to be a concrete injury.

    And so Spokeo will now get another chance at defending itself. The standard is clear and tightened. On the other hand, the court gave something to Mr. Robins, saying that some injuries aren’t tangible, they can be intangible, and you can use that under this act.

    So, it was probably not a very satisfying decision to either side. And big business had watched this case closely, because it felt that it’s too easy to sue under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, another act, at least three other federal laws involving consumers, and they were hoping for a definitive answer today.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Does this narrow then the scope of which — what is the sort of threshold where somebody could bring a lawsuit? Is that a win for big business?

    MARCIA COYLE: It tightens it up a little bit, but it’s a narrow decision, and I think it’s a narrow decision because the court, again, is striving to find consensus in these cases, since it’s missing a ninth justice.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s talk a bit about this. Are we seeing a pattern of 4-4 decisions here that would be different, as the president said, if there was a fifth justice — or a ninth justice?

    MARCIA COYLE: Well, I think, Hari, we’re seeing more of those decisions without a ninth justice.

    Clearly, the court is struggling to reach some kind of a consensus and trying to avoid those 4-4 splits. The court has already decided the big union case involving fair share fees by non-union members paid to public employee unions. There, they divided 4-4.

    They divided 4-4 in an Equal Opportunity Act case earlier in the term. And just last week, in a death penalty case, the justices split 4-4 on a request by Alabama to block a lower federal appellate court’s order temporarily delaying the execution of an Alabama death row inmate.

    We are going to have to wait now, I think, Hari, to see how the court resolves the remaining cases. There are still a few very big cases with very difficult issues facing them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Marcia Coyle, thanks.

    MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure, Hari.

    The post President ties Supreme Court punt on Obamacare birth control case to Garland stalemate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses the audience as followers cheer and take pictures with their mobile phones, in San Juan, Puerto Rico May 16, 2016. REUTERS/Alvin Baez       TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTSEK12

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We look ahead to tomorrow’s primaries and divisions within the Democratic Party starting with Oregon.

    It’s junior U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley is the only member of the Senate to endorse Bernie Sanders for president.

    And, Senator Merkley, we welcome you to the program.

    I want to say, all the…


    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you.

    All of the delegate projections we see show that it’s all but impossible for Bernie Sanders to have enough delegates to win this nomination. So, what do you know that they don’t show?

    SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), Oregon: Well, it’s certainly is uphill. And it would take two-thirds of the delegates or the votes for him to tie Secretary Clinton.

    But here’s the thing. This is such an important conversation. Bernie is mobilizing the grassroots. He’s exciting the base because of his clear vision that America is very much off-track and has to change in substantial ways to address the challenges for working Americans.

    And it needs to be possible for the citizens of Oregon and Kentucky and California and the Dakotas and New Jersey to weigh in and make their voices heard. If the party is going to come together, then it needs to respect everyone’s opportunity to participate in the primaries.

    And these issues are going to continue to reverberate, because, fundamentally, America is off-track.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I’m sure — and I have heard you say just, not just — well, as long as you have been supporting Senator Sanders, you said there is urgency to all this. You said we need big ideas.

    I’m sure that Secretary Clinton thinks she has got big ideas, too, and she agrees there is urgency about all this.

    SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Well, she has somewhat criticized Bernie for his big ideas, saying let’s move in little pieces. And that — we are blessed with two terrific candidates on the Democratic side.

    And they have good hearts and good minds. And we’re going to unify going into the convention and then going into November. But it’s Bernie who’s saying small changes don’t address the fact that nine out of 10 Americans have not participated in the growing prosperity of America over the last four decades, that huge amounts of campaign cash are unacceptable, and we must radically change the corruption that has been enabled by Citizens United in our campaign system.

    It’s Bernie who came out and said, Keep It in the Ground bill is essential. We have to quit doing contracts to sell off our fossil fuels that you and I own, as citizens. our citizen-owned fossil fuels can no longer be leased out for pennies on the acre.

    If we’re going to help lead the world, we have to change direction and we have to change quickly to address this threat to our planet.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, how far, though, does Senator Sanders want to push this? I mean, you know that a number of Democrats, more and more of them, are saying, the longer he stays in, the more it hurts Secretary Clinton’s chances in the fall.

    SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Well, they’re really completely wrong.

    It’s Bernie’s campaign that is generating the grassroots network, the passion. That network is going to be very important to the victor in the Democratic primary. It’s why everyone has to respect the other side. But after a week from Tuesday, when virtually every state will have weighed in, we will see a parallel to eight years ago.

    It is June 7 or 8 that then Senator Clinton said, I understand that I am not going to win this, we need to start bringing the two sides together. And they worked on doing that to set the stage for the convention. And I anticipate — I can’t speak directly for the Bernie campaign on this, but I anticipate something similar, should Secretary Clinton have the majority of pledge delegates a week from Tuesday.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you’re saying you expect Senator Sanders to work with Senator Clinton by the end of these primaries?

    SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Yes, by the end of eight days from now.

    And it isn’t that they will instantly come together. There is a negotiation that needs to take place. People who are part of the Bernie Sanders camp, should Clinton prevail, are going to need to know that she has heard them, she has listened to them, that she understands their frustration and shares in their desire to make some substantial changes in the direction our nation is going.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what does he do about those voters who have supported him who are telling pollsters they’re going to look at Donald Trump in November?

    SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: He can be the single most important voice in that regard, helping to bring folks together, if he is not the nominee.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you mean?

    SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: Well, if he doesn’t win the nomination, those folks who have been supporting him are going to turn to him to see his insight on the partnership that’s being crafted with Secretary Clinton’s team, and that for him to vouch for that partnership would be the most essential element in bringing the two sides together.

    There are others of us who will work very hard to bring the two sides together, but the responsibility first and foremost will come with Secretary Clinton and with Senator Sanders.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Are you confident that they can come together before the convention?

    SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: I am, because I know that, from the very beginning, Bernie Sanders has said, if he’s not the nominee, he’s going to make absolutely sure we don’t end up with the situation like we did with Ralph Nader, where, essentially, we handed over an election to a Republican, a Republican who put our nation way off-track, that the nation can’t afford that.

    And, certainly, all the goals that Senator Sanders has for improving our nation would not be served by that outcome.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, we thank you.

    SEN. JEFF MERKLEY: You’re welcome. And thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now we turn to Kentucky, where Hillary Clinton has been campaigning aggressively in recent days, hoping, of course, for a win there.

    Congressman John Yarmuth is backing Secretary Clinton. He’s the lone Democrat in the Bluegrass State’s congressional delegation.

    Congressman Yarmuth, good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

    REP. JOHN YARMUTH (D), Kentucky: Sure, Judy. Good to be with you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I don’t know if you just heard Senator Merkley say that, yes, it looks like Senator Sanders will be able to sit down and work with Secretary Clinton if she has the most delegates after the end of these primaries, but he also said that Senator Sanders is going to fight for every vote he can until the end of this primary process.

    REP. JOHN YARMUTH: Yes, well, I think that’s fine.

    I think, ultimately, the real critical factor will be what they do after it is clear that Secretary Clinton will be the nominee and has won enough delegates. I don’t really worry too much about the campaign rhetoric. I mean, nobody has said meaner things about a candidate in their own party than Republicans have done, and now they seem to be doing some kind of a marital ritual going on now.

    So, I think, ultimately, what happens after Hillary reaches that threshold of delegates is the most important thing. And then it will be — I think it will be truly up to Bernie Sanders to prove that this whole thing with the Democratic Party wasn’t just a charade, that he actually wants to see Democratic values advanced in the fall.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, you say it’s up to Senator Sanders. We just heard Senator Merkley say it’s going to be up to Secretary Clinton to show that she cares about these issues, like big money in American politics, like too many Americans not benefiting from the economic growth we have seen.

    REP. JOHN YARMUTH: You know, I was with her for five hours yesterday in Louisville. That’s all she talked about.

    I think there is no question that she has met that test. She is clearly concerned about economic parity in the workplace, about minimizing the income and the wealth gap in this country. She has detailed policies on things like workplace fairness, paid medical leave, early childhood education, all the free community college education, debt-free college education.

    These are things that are clearly on her platform, and she talks about them every day. So, I don’t think there is going to be much distance between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders once the rhetoric stops.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What — Congressman Yarmuth, what does Secretary Clinton, though, need to do to appeal to the voters she’s been struggling to win over a majority of? And I’m talking about the millennials, the younger voters.

    Those voters, it’s remarkable, when you look at the exit polls of voters in the last few states that have held their primary votes, West Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, New York, the percentage of voters who say they don’t consider Secretary Clinton trustworthy. What does she need to do to turn that around?

    REP. JOHN YARMUTH: Well, she just needs to keep speaking frankly about her record, about the things that she cares about.

    And, ultimately, you know, we have got so much noise in this campaign. And I think the people who are listening to Bernie Sanders aren’t listening to much else, just like the people who are listening to Donald Trump aren’t listening to much else.

    I think, once it’s a one-on-one race, you have the comparison of somebody who has basically double-crossed everybody he’s come in contact with during his business career, and you have somebody who has worked steadily for four decades now to help the middle class and to help people get into the middle class, I think the choice will be very, very clear for all those people who are now so enthusiastic about Bernie.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But don’t you still have a pretty considerable amount of repair work to do between Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders? I read just today a release from the senator’s press office saying, we call on Secretary Clinton to some distorting the truth about Senator Sanders’ record on supporting the automakers, people who work in the auto industry.

    REP. JOHN YARMUTH: Well, again, this is the normal campaign rhetoric.

    And I think every candidate on both sides of the partisan divide are guilty of some exaggeration and stretching voting records and characterizing the other opponent. That’s going to happen.

    But, again, the proof will be, once it’s one on one, and Bernie Sanders faces that choice, and his supporters do, of whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be a better commander in chief, will be a better leader for working Americans, I don’t think there is any question who they are going to be for.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, very quickly, Congressman, do you think Secretary Clinton will win your state, Kentucky, tomorrow, and do you think she can win it in the fall?

    REP. JOHN YARMUTH: Well, I think she will win tomorrow. She’s won I think virtually every state where there has been a closed primary, where only Democrats can vote.

    Even in West Virginia, she carried the majority of Democrats who voted. Forty percent of the people who voted in the Democratic primary there weren’t Democrats. In Kentucky, Democrats only can vote. She is very, very popular, she and her husband, in Kentucky. He carried the state twice.

    I think she can make it competitive in the fall. Clearly, it is going to be tough, tough sled for a Democratic candidate to win the electoral votes of Kentucky. But she has promised me she’s going to try. She thinks she can make it competitive. And I’m going to be there helping her.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Congressman John Yarmuth, it’s good to see you. Thank you.

    REP. JOHN YARMUTH: Thanks, Judy.

    The post Will Clinton and Sanders be able to patch things up after bruising campaign? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Women demonstrators from Afghanistan's Hazara minority attend a protest in Kabul, Afghanistan May 16, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail  - RTSEGLE

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And I’m Hari Sreenivasan. Gwen Ifill is away this week.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On the “NewsHour” tonight: contraception coverage and online privacy at the high court. We break down today’s Supreme Court rulings.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Also ahead this Monday: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton prepare for two state primaries tomorrow, while Donald Trump faces his own battles as the sole Republican candidate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And decades after war, the Balkans struggle with differing forms of Islam and fight to shut down radical mosques some say are breeding terrorist fighters.

    RAZIM COLIC, Foreign Affairs Director, Islamic Community: A number of them, they have been in contact with some people outside Bosnia-Herzegovina, because this is not from Bosnia. This has been imported from somewhere else.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”


    HARI SREENIVASAN: In the day’s other news: The U.S. and other world powers announced they’re ready to arm the internationally recognized government of Libya. They want an exemption to a U.N. arms embargo to supply weapons to fight Islamic State forces. Officials from the U.S. and 20 other countries met in Vienna.

    Secretary of State John Kerry said they want to help Libya fight ISIS and other militants.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: There has been no request otherwise at this point in time for some other kind of intervention. We are simply in a mode of trying to help and assist and develop a Libyan capacity to be able to respond to the challenge of security within Libya.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Pentagon confirmed today that small teams of U.S. troops are on the ground assessing the situation. The Washington Post reported last week that they’re special operations forces deployed at two outposts.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The capital of Afghanistan was on lockdown today as tens of thousands of minority Hazara sect protested. They marched in Kabul, demanding that a planned multinational power line be routed through their province. They argue it would will lift the area out of poverty. Police blocked off roads in the city, fearing possible violence.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The 50th anniversary of China’s cultural revolution came and went with little official recognition today. State media were mostly silent on the violent campaign to revive communist goals that began on May 16, 1966. Mao Zedong rallied the youthful Red Guard to persecute millions.

    Today, many criticize the brutal campaign.

    ZAHO SHUNLI, Retired Red Guard Member (through interpreter): The 30 years after the reforms show that this was totally wrong. The reforms didn’t bring any benefit to our country, to our lives. They didn’t bring any development to our economy and our industry.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The cultural revolution officially ended with Mao’s death in 1976. The ruling Communist Party formally condemned the movement in 1981.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, thousands of low-income students will soon be eligible for federal Pell Grants to take college courses in high school. The Education Department said today it’s earmarking about $20 million for the next school year to help about 10,000 students; 44 institutions, most of them community colleges, are expected to participate.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And Wall Street rallied, as rising oil prices pushed energy stocks higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 175 points to close at 17710. The Nasdaq rose 57 points, and the S&P 500 added 20.

    Still to come on the “NewsHour”: Hillary Clinton’s last-minute push for votes in Kentucky; the Supreme Court sidesteps a key contraceptive ruling; Bosnian Muslims crack down on allegedly radical mosques; and much more.

    The post News Wrap: Demand for electricity sparks massive protest in Kabul over power line’s route appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at La Gala in Bowling Green, Kentucky, U.S., May 16, 2016.  REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RTSEJRF

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: It is primary eve for two more states, and the Democratic campaign in one of them has heated up. That has party divisions on display again, and it leaves the front-runner fighting a two-front war.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: Let’s do everything we can to win Kentucky in November!

    JOHN YANG: Hillary Clinton blitzed the Bluegrass State today, her sights on a fall campaign against Donald Trump.

    HILLARY CLINTON: Now, some people might say, oh, all anybody wants to hear is just, I’m going to do it, but I’m not telling you what I’m going to do.

    See, I don’t believe that. Americans take their vote for president seriously. And they’re going to be looking at that TV screen and saying, he still doesn’t have anything to tell us?

    JOHN YANG: She’s also trying to break her primary losing streak against Democratic rival Bernie Sanders.

    NARRATOR: And she is the one who will make a real difference.

    JOHN YANG: Clinton is running her first TV ads in weeks, and says she will put her husband, who won Kentucky twice, in charge of revitalizing the economy.

    Sanders moved on to Puerto Rico today, where Democrats vote on June 5.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), Democratic Presidential Candidate: It is unacceptable to me for the United States government to treat Puerto Rico like a colony during a time when its people are facing the worst fiscal and economic crisis in its history.

    JOHN YANG: The Clinton campaign has written off Oregon, which also votes tomorrow, but is competing hard in Kentucky. She won the state easily in 2008, but recent comments about putting coal miners out of work have hurt her. And so she wants to avoid losing twice on Tuesday.

    Trump had a different target today, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who called Trump’s plan to ban Muslims divisive, stupid and wrong.

    On Britain’s Independent Television News, Trump fired back.

    QUESTION: If you’re president, and he’s the British prime minister…

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: It looks like we’re not going to have a very good relationship. Who knows? I hope to have a good relationship with him, but it sounds like he’s not willing to address the problem, either.

    JOHN YANG: Trump also blasted a New York Times story examining how he treats women. A former model who dated the New York billionaire and was quoted in the story says the paper twisted her words.

    ROWANNE BREWER LANE, Former Model: They spun it to where it appeared negative. I didn’t have a negative experience with Donald Trump, and I don’t appreciate them making it look like that I was saying that it was a negative experience.

    JOHN YANG: Trump tweeted his own take: “False reporting, and plenty of it, but we will prevail.”

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m John Yang.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We will talk with supporters on both sides of the Democratic race right after the news summary.

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    The House Appropriations Committee voted Tuesday to retain the two-word phrase as a subject heading in the library's catalog.

    The House Appropriations Committee voted Tuesday to retain the two-word phrase as a subject heading in the library’s catalog.

    WASHINGTON — Republicans on a powerful House panel Tuesday narrowly defended a tea party-fueled move to tell the Library of Congress how to label immigrants living in the country illegally.

    The GOP move is designed to force the Library of Congress to retain the term “illegal alien” for cataloging and search purposes, reversing the library’s plan to replace “illegal alien” with less prejudicial terms like “noncitizens” or “unauthorized immigration.”

    Appropriations Committee Democrats tried to defend the library’s move, which came in response to a petition from the American Library Association, to change the immigration-related search terms. They lost by a 25-24 vote.

    Conservatives were angered by the library’s move and sought the provision, which was added to legislation funding House and Senate operations and congressional agencies like the library.

    Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said the library should “continue with its process of choosing subject headings without political influence.”

    But Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., author of the provision, said the library had overstepped and had privately acknowledged its error.

    The library said in a March 26 statement that “the phrase illegal aliens has taken on a pejorative tone in recent years” and added that “aliens” can be confusing since it can also mean beings from another planet.

    The bill funding the operations of Congress is the most obscure and little-watched of the 12 annual appropriations bills, making news only because it contains a freeze on lawmakers’ pay and permits sledding on the Capitol grounds.

    The panel also agreed by a nearly unanimous voice vote to boost their office budgets by 1.5 percent. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., sponsored the $8 million boost, saying that a clampdown on lawmakers’ office budgets has led to rapid staff turnover and a loss of expertise as salaries haven’t been able to keep up with Washington’s high cost of living.

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    A corn field is seen in DeWitt, Iowa in this July 12, 2012 file photo. Photo by Adrees Latif/Files/Reuters

    A corn field is seen in DeWitt, Iowa in this July 12, 2012 file photo. Photo by Adrees Latif/Files/Reuters

    Following a review of almost 900 studies, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reported today that genetically modified organisms — GMOs — pose no more of a health risk than traditionally bred crops. However, GMOs do present two major agricultural problems in the forms of pesticide- and herbicide-resistance, according to the NAS committee.

    “We dug deeply into the literature to take a fresh look at the data on GMOs and conventionally bred crops,” Fred Gould, an entomologist and co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University, said in a statement.

    Gould chaired the committee, a 20-member ensemble of botanists, environmental scientists, molecular biologists and food experts. The findings arrive as the federal government debates over proper labeling of genetically engineered crops in food products. Along with examining the many studies, the committee heard from a diverse panel of 80 diverse speakers at three public meetings and read more than 700 comments from members of the public to capture a sense of the issue surrounding genetically engineered crops.

    While they found no evidence suggesting a risk to humans and animals who consumed GMO crops, the researchers also looked at the crops’ effects on the environment and agriculture.

    The survey found evidence showing that genetically engineered crops — like insect- and herbicide-resistant plants — primarily caused problems when the appropriate management strategies were not followed. In these scenarios, insects and weeds became resistant to the pesticides or herbicides sprayed on the fields.

    Overall, the report said insect and plant diversity don’t seem to be threatened by genetically engineered crops.

    The NAS committee reviewed research and other publications of epidemiological data which reviewed the U.S. and Canada’s consumption of GMO crops.

    The report said that the distinction between conventional breeding and GMO crops is becoming less obvious, and technologies to improve plant genetics could raise safety issues in the future, the committee noted.

    “Clearly the report makes a bold statement in favor of greater transparency and modernizing the review system to make sure the regulatory tools are keeping pace with the technology,” Scott Faber, vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, which advocates labeling told The New York Times.

    Researchers also said they would like to see increased regulation of the effects of GMO crops and communication between regulating authorities and the public regarding agricultural industry.

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: And finally tonight, our “NewsHour” Shares, something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too.

    In the waters near Caesarea, Israel, two casual scuba divers made the discovery of a lifetime last month when they spotted a bronze statue. The duo had stumbled upon the remains of a 1,600-year-old Roman shipwreck and the largest cache of underwater artifacts found in Israel in 30 years.

    They alerted local archaeologists, who later recovered bronze busts, oil lamps and thousands of coins bearing the faces of Roman emperors from the wreckage.

    And we mark the passing of the world’s longest serving symphony musician. Bassist Jane Little first debuted with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 1945, when she was just 16. Little was still performing with the organization 71 years later, when she collapsed on stage Sunday during the evening’s encore of “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” She later died at a local hospital. Jane Little was 87 years old.

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    This Baltimore checkerspot butterfly was the only one to be released after it was gently blown on and hand-warmed, June 23, 2011 in Batavia, Illinois. Seventy-nine imperiled Baltimore checkerspot butterflies were set to be released in the natural prairie and marsh area on the grounds of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Cool and windy weather prevented the release because of the danger of wet butterflies not surviving. (Chuck Berman/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now to a remarkable story of transformation and the unlikely allies of an endangered butterfly.

    A recent U.N. report warned some 40 percent of pollinators, birds, bees and butterflies, are at risk of extinction. Humans are the driving force behind the decline.

    Special correspondent Cat Wise reports on a unique effort in the U.S. that leads to more than flowers blossoming.

    CAT WISE: The artillery practice range at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Seattle, Washington, is not a place you would expect to be ideal habitat for an endangered species. But it is.

    Meet the Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly. Ten years ago, this beautiful insect was on the brink of extinction; 99 percent of its native prairie habitat in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia has been lost to urban and agricultural development. The only location it could be found was here on the artillery range.

    Why? Well, it turns out that bombs actually benefit this butterfly.

    DAN GROSBOLL, Biologist, Joint Base Lewis-McChord: If you’re an individual butterfly that has an artillery shell land on you, it’s bad, but if you zoom out from that small-scale impact, and look at the way that the training ignites fires across the landscape, and improves the habitat across the landscape, overall, it is likely good for the butterfly population.

    CAT WISE: Dan Grosboll is an insect biologist at the base who has to be very, very careful when he’s out looking for butterflies amid artillery shells.

    DAN GROSBOLL: They have a very brief adult life span. And the rest of the life span, the whole rest of the year, they’re eggs or larvae.

    CAT WISE: Grosboll and a team of other government scientists are now working to boost the numbers of butterflies here, but there’s only so much they can do when this land is needed for other purposes.

    DAN GROSBOLL: The base is here in order to support troops training, so the troops are ready to go and fight. The fact that we also can provide habitat for endangered species is a really good thing, but it’s important that all of the preservation of endangered species is not borne by the base.

    CAT WISE: So, the military sought out help from an unlikely group who happen to have a lot of time on their hands.

    On a recent morning, a small team of inmates at the Mission Creek Corrections Center for women walked into a greenhouse, known as the Butterfly Lab, and quickly got to work. The greenhouse, which sits just outside the walls of the minimum-security prison, was built five years ago with funding from the Department of Defense.

    Now these women, whose lives have all taken a wrong turn at some point, have become leading experts in the field of captive butterfly breeding.

    Susan Christopher ended up here after making some bad decisions to support a gambling habit. Now, after going through some extensive training on butterfly rearing, she’s fully engaged in a more productive and important endeavor.

    SUSAN CHRISTOPHER, Inmate, Mission Creek Corrections Center: We came up with this diagram so that we could keep our major lines separate through our breeding program. The male from this line will get bred to females of this line, so we continue to move through that circle, so that we never breed the same line to itself.

    CAT WISE: And why is that important?

    SUSAN CHRISTOPHER: For genetic reasons. We want to have as much genetic diversity, and not have the chance of interbreeding.

    CAT WISE: The women, who are called butterfly technicians, are raising the insects throughout their multiple life stages, so they can be released back into the wild. It takes a lot of patience, and a loving touch.

    WOMAN: And that’s honey solution on the Q-tip.

    CAT WISE: And they have been very successful. More than 30,000 Taylor’s checkerspots have been raised for release by this facility and the Oregon Zoo, which has a similar breeding program.

    WOMAN: I have gone one, two eggs for sure.

    CAT WISE: On the day we visited, Cynthia Fetterly (ph) and Jessica Stevens (ph) were working together on a very delicate project, harvesting the tiny eggs that a female Taylor’s checkerspot had recently laid.

    WOMAN: The one I just got done finished doing was from the wild, and we weren’t sure if we were going to be getting any eggs off of them because they already look like they have been pretty spent. So, getting that big cluster of eggs was really exciting.

    It’s very rewarding, and it’s hard to explain when you can actually help bring back an endangered species. It’s very humbling to be able to do that.

    CAT WISE: The butterfly breeding program at Mission Creek is part of a larger effort in Washington state called the Sustainability in Prisons Project to connect inmates with science and nature projects while they are serving time. It’s a joint endeavor by the Washington Department of Corrections and the Evergreen State College.

    KELLI BUSH, Sustainability in Prisons Project: So, we have programs all across the state.

    Kelli Bush is the program manager for the project, and she says the benefits go beyond the prison walls.

    KELLI BUSH: It seems to be changing lives, not just the incarcerated individuals, but corrections staff, and biologists, that everyone involved seems to be feeling good about the work and the contributions that are being made through these efforts.

    MARY LINDERS, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife: Oh, yes, here, they’re on this side. When the larvae hatch, they will actually just start feeding on those leaves that it’s on.

    CAT WISE: One of those who is benefiting from the butterfly technicians’ hard work is Mary Linders, a state biologist who has been spearheading efforts to increase the butterfly’s habitat, and numbers, around Puget Sound.

    She says, initially, she wasn’t sure how it would be to work with inmates.

    MARY LINDERS: It’s very detail-oriented work. You really need a lot of consistency in the people that are actually working on it, so it was a risk. But it has proved to be a tremendous success. The folks at the prison have done just a fabulous job of running a top-notch facility.

    CAT WISE: Linders and a group of scientists and volunteers recently gathered to release captive raised caterpillars in a wildlife area near Olympia, Washington.

    And for the first time since the program began, they were joined by two inmates who had raised many of those insects.

    MARY LINDERS: Bugs are — we have bugs in the car. Do you guys want to help get them out?

    WOMAN: Yes, absolutely.

    MARY LINDERS: There’s your baby.

    CAT WISE: After getting a tutorial from Linders about where and how to place the bugs…

    MARY LINDERS: What you’re going to do is release these in groups of two to five. So, you can go ahead and even just brush them right off the lid.

    CAT WISE: … inmates Michelle Dittamore and Eva Ortiz began to release their fuzzy friends, with mixed emotions.

    MICHELLE DITTAMORE, Inmate, Mission Creek Corrections Center: I feel like it’s a lot like your teenager flying the coop to go to college, and you’re just like, I have literally bathed you, I have dressed you, I have done your laundry, I have packed your lunch.

    But I have to have faith that there’s been so many generations of just instinct bred into these little guys that they’re just — they’re going to get down there, and they’re just going to know what to do.

    CAT WISE: Also helping out at the release, Carolina Landa. Landa was released from the correctional facility last year after serving time for a drug offense.

    But she’s now enrolled in the Evergreen State College environmental science program, a big change of direction she attributes to her time spent with the butterflies.

    CAROLINA LANDA, Student, Evergreen State College: Here is an endangered species, and the fact that they were saying, yes, we trust you, yes, we believe that you can do this work, and so that very much played a big factor in also me believing in myself, right, to start that path.

    CAT WISE: The combined efforts of all the various individuals and groups are paying off. At this release site, the butterfly population has doubled since last year to several thousand.

    And at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the population has just been deemed to be self-sustaining, a significant milestone for the species.

    Back at the prison greenhouse, Susan Christopher says she’s learned some valuable lessons from the butterflies.

    SUSAN CHRISTOPHER: When I watched the butterflies struggling to come out of their cocoon out of their chrysalis, it really makes me realize that, yes, we all do need to struggle to get to where we need to be.

    CAT WISE: Christopher and her colleagues are now gearing up for a busy summer caring for some very hungry caterpillars.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Cat Wise in Washington state.

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    The Rev. Michael Bruce Curry (facing camera) prepares for his Installation Ceremony, by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, at the Washington National Cathedral, in Washington, November 1, 2015. Curry becomes the first African-American Episcopal presiding bishop, after previoulsy serving as Bishop of North Carolina.               REUTERS/Mike Theiler - RTX1UA4Y

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Most Reverend Michael Curry became presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church last November, becoming the head of one of the United States’ oldest denominations at a time of conflict and change.

    The church, like most mainline Protestant denominations, has been facing declines in membership for decades.

    Judy Woodruff sat down with Bishop Curry to learn how he is leading a church facing these challenges.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Bishop Michael Curry, thank you for talking to us.

    THE MOST REVEREND MICHAEL CURRY, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And congratulations on your position.

    THE MOST REVEREND MICHAEL CURRY: Thank you for that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you first, how would you describe the place that the Episcopal Church occupies in the broad religious profile that we have the United States now?

    THE MOST REVEREND MICHAEL CURRY: The Episcopal Church probably represents a moderate voice, a centrist voice in the religious landscape.

    We’re a tradition that has historically been able to live with differences. And I think now we’re seeing the live that out in some new ways that — to be a church that really can embrace diverse, not only theological traditions or liturgical and worship styles and approaches, but people of all stripes and types.

    And that’s — I think that’s the Episcopal Church and the Anglican way at its best.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re now six months into this position. How has the fact that you are the first black presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States, a descendant of slaves, how has that affected what you have been able to do so far?

    THE MOST REVEREND MICHAEL CURRY: Certainly, that has affected, only in the sense that it is a first. Beyond that, I have a funny feeling I was probably elected for a variety of reasons.

    I suspect that my election was a moment of hope that we could begin to help the Episcopal Church and Episcopalians begin to focus outward in some new ways, outward in ways that actually share the message of Jesus of Nazareth, which is fundamentally a message of love of God and love of neighbor.

    And that’s a game-changer, in and of itself, the various forms and ways we’re divided between each other, whether it is racial or socioeconomic or political or religious or tribal or national or on and on and on, helping this church to become instruments of God’s work of reconciliation in this world.

    That really does have something to do with helping the world stop living a nightmare and start living something closer to God’s dream. And that’s worth doing. And I have a feeling that’s why I got elected.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You have spoken a great deal and preached about social justice in its many different forms.

    How does that fit into what you see as maybe this developing, evolving vision and mission of the Episcopal Church?

    THE MOST REVEREND MICHAEL CURRY: Scholars, sometimes, when they look at the origins of Christianity, they often use the phrase the Jesus movement as a way of describing what Jesus of Nazareth actually was doing in the earliest days in Palestine, that the Jesus movement in the first and second and third centuries was a movement of people who gathered around the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

    And their gathering around and committing themselves to that way of life that Jesus talked about became transformative for themselves and for the world. And, as a result, the earliest Christian communities were communities where both slave and free coexisted and lived together, where men and women, where Jew and Greek or Gentile coexisted and lived together.

    That was the earliest Christian movement. And I’m committed to helping the Episcopal Church become a Jesus movement today that helps the society live into a vision.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What’s the practical effect of that? I mean, how would people’s lives change as a result of that, ideally?

    THE MOST REVEREND MICHAEL CURRY: I think dramatically.

    Imagine if just Episcopalians were practically living their daily lives as reflections of the way Jesus of Nazareth lived his, loving in the same way that Jesus did and does, giving in the same way, forgiving, doing justice, caring, living compassionate lives.

    I have a funny feeling Episcopalians could be transformative both in our interpersonal relationships and in our social and political relationships. What would happen if Christians just acted like Christians? It would change our politics. It would change our social order. It could change our global community.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think our politics needs changing?

    THE MOST REVEREND MICHAEL CURRY: Regardless of which side of the aisle you’re on — this isn’t a partisan statement — imagine our politics if we began to engage one another not from the perspective of my unenlightened self-interest, but from the perspective of our interests, the common good, the common wheel.

    Imagine our global politics. Imagine our economic relationships. It’s world-changing. And I happen to believe that the way of Jesus of Nazareth — I’m not talking about everybody having to become an Episcopalian, although that would be nice — but that’s not what I’m really talking about.

    I’m talking about a way of living that is deeply grounded in the kind of love that is not a greeting card for Valentine’s Day, but that is a way of living in this world and engaging it.

    Finally, Isaiah got caught up like in the spirit, like a Episcopalian in a Baptist church, got caught up in the spirit.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: They say that Sunday morning is the most segregated time and place in American life, in church service in this country. Should that change?

    THE MOST REVEREND MICHAEL CURRY: I think the church can create space for authentic ethnic congregations that minister to a particular need, especially at a particular time.

    But it must also move into inhabiting or creating space for congregations where people of different races and ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic classes actually come together, because, ultimately, I mean, I do pray for the day when those of us who have the same commitment to follow the way of Jesus of Nazareth can actually find that that is our primal commitment, and that, in Christ, there is no hindrances.

    In Christ, there is east nor west, in him, no south nor north.

    We are going to get there. And I pray for that day and have worked for that day, but I know that, between here and there, we have to approximate it as best we can.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We have learned just recently that Pope Francis is saying that he is open to the idea of a commission to study permitting women to become deacons in the Catholic Church.

    What would you say is the experience of the Episcopal Church that might inform what the Catholics may be thinking about?

    THE MOST REVEREND MICHAEL CURRY: When we finally get to the point of saying, who has God called to be a bishop or a priest or a deacon, and we’re going to follow that leading, what we have found over time is, guess what? A priest is a priest. A deacon is a deacon. A bishop is a bishop.

    They may be black, white, red, yellow or brown. They may be a Republican or a Democrat. They may be a man or a woman. They may be gay or straight, bisexual, transgender. They may be a whole host of things, but they’re a priest. They’re a bishop. They’re a deacon.

    That’s been our experience for not everyone, but for most of us. And the church has been enriched when all voices are there, when we’re all there together. We got a better shot of making it together than we do when we’re all apart.

    So, I — you know, my Catholic brothers and sisters, you have to make your decision as God leads you. This is how we have made ours, and we have been blessed.

    God has not given up on this world. We dare not give up on it either. And God is not finished with this church. God has work for us to do.

    THE MOST REVEREND MICHAEL CURRY: We have a better Episcopal Church. I have been in the Episcopal Church my whole life. We are a better Episcopal Church because we really are trying to welcome all.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, thank you very much.

    THE MOST REVEREND MICHAEL CURRY: Thank you. God bless you.

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    A large crowd marches from Baltimore City Hall to the scene of unrest earlier in the week, in Baltimore, Maryland May 2, 2015. Thousands of people took to the streets of Baltimore on Saturday as anger over the death of young black man Freddie Gray turned to hopes for change following swift criminal charges against six police officers. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson - RTX1BA9P

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: But, first, the National Urban League has released the 40th edition of its annual State of Black America Report. It’s designed to provide a snapshot of where African-Americans are relative to whites.

    According to the most recent report’s calculations, across multiple facets of life, African-Americans experience equality at a rate of 72 percent, compared to white Americans, who score 100 percent.

    Here to explain is Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League.

    So, let’s start with that 72 percent number. How do you get there? What does that mean?

    MARC MORIAL, President, National Urban League: What it means is, if you compare things like unemployment, home ownership, high school graduation rates, college attainment rates, median income, African-Americans, on average, achieve 72 percent that of where whites are.

    These are collective numbers. We also do the same comparison for Latinos. Latinos are at about 77 percent, whites being, of course, 100 percent. So, it’s designed to make our discussion about persistent racial inequality precise, based on numbers, based on facts, and based on clarity.

    So, we report this information every year. This is the 40th year that we have done it. And we not only report the information, Hari, but we also propose solutions.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the indicators or one of the factors is income inequality, the gap there. One of the largest income disparities that you point out, at least between black and white families, is in the Minneapolis metro area.

    The average household income for a black family there is just over a third, 37.8 percent, of the average household income for a white family. How does this happen?

    MARC MORIAL: This happens because the better-paying jobs, the higher-level jobs go to whites, and African-Americans are stuck in lower-paying jobs on an overall basis.

    And we see this glaring disparity in places like Minneapolis. It’s also present in places like San Francisco, where there is a tremendous amount of success, a highly educated work force. African-Americans are far, far behind.

    I hope that what this means is that, in a city like Minneapolis or a city like San Francisco, they won’t sweep these numbers under the rug, they won’t pretend that they don’t exist, and they will recognize and see it as a challenge for the civic, business and political leadership of those communities to try to address these disparities.

    These disparities exist in virtually every major American metropolitan area. It is just a question of to what degree.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the interesting things that you mentioned earlier today was that there was actually an era in the United States where African-Americans were considered three-fifths of a person, right?

    And here you have this snapshot of how African-Americans are doing over the last 40 years. And looking back across this, at income inequality, I’m struck by the fact that, in 1976, the average black family nationwide earned 59 percent of what a white family did. Now, 40 years later, it hasn’t gotten much better, 60 percent.

    What’s behind the stagnation?

    MARC MORIAL: Notwithstanding the political progress, the progress that’s been made in terms of high school graduation rates, number of African-Americans who have attained college and great individualized success, this is a persistent, structural, locked-in economic situation.

    And I believe, Hari, that we highlight it because it defines the pressing challenge of the American future. For Latinos — and Latinos and African-Americans are almost a third of the population in this country — Latinos don’t fare much better than African-Americans.

    This is an important challenge for America’s political business and civic leaders, to figure out, to concentrate on how to end these persistent economic inequities in the United States.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: There is a little bit of an upside in some of these numbers.

    Higher educational achievement, that’s an movement. Forty years ago, 6.6 percent of black people had a bachelor’s degree or more. That’s 43 percent of the number of whites with those degrees. But, today, that percentage is up to 63 percent.

    So, what led to the increase? And how is it affecting the black community?

    MARC MORIAL: So, I think those increases were a result of policies that began in the 1960s and the 1970s, the Pell Grant program, affirmative action, and higher education admissions, the desegregation of schools, and the focus on educational — and improving educational standards.

    Much of what we have done in the educational arena, where there’s been a focus on civil rights and economic injustice, if you will, has begun to make a difference. We see it indeed in the numbers. But it has not — I repeat — has not significantly translated to the economic arena.

    And this is why the Main Street Marshall Plan, which reflects our plan to address this, suggests a commitment of a trillion dollars over five years to begin to address some of these deep inequities, is our effort to say, let’s not get bogged down in just an analysis and a diagnosis of the problem.

    Let’s also focus and figure on how to change it. Now, this is what we also saw in the numbers. From 1963 to 1976, that 13-year period during the years in the war on poverty and at the height of the post-civil rights era, we actually made tremendous change in America.

    The poverty rate went down. Income inequality narrowed. But then, at 1976, it got stuck. And the disparities of ’76 have become the disparities of 2016. Now, we don’t know the effect of the recession, if we had not had the 2008-2009 recession, if, in fact, the challenges or the disparities would be less. We’re not sure of that fact.

    The fact of the matter is, the disparities exist. It presents the challenge for this nation for our 21st century.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. You can go online to read the Main Street, new Marshall Plan, so to speak.

    Thank you very much more joining us, Marc Morial.

    MARC MORIAL: Thanks, Hari. Appreciate it.

    Correction: An original version of the headline incorrectly stated the amount of the National Urban League’s plan to address disparities outlined in its State of Black America report. The commitment is $1 trillion over 5 years.

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Next: a look at the growing problem of harassment Muslim-American students often face in public schools.

    Surveys by the Center on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights group, suggest that some 50 percent of Muslim students have been bullied by their peers. One hot spot has been St. Cloud, Minnesota, a small city 90 minutes west of Minneapolis.

    John Tulenko of Education Week reports on the controversies there and how the school district responded.

    It’s part of our education series Making the Grade, which airs Tuesdays on the “NewsHour.”

    JOHN TULENKO: Hafsa Abdi, who’s 18-years-old, remembers well the day four years ago when she was first bullied for being Muslim.

    HAFSA ABDI, Student, St. Cloud Technical High School: The last day of by eighth grade year, I was just going home, and then this boy — I think he was a year younger than me — he pulled off my hijab. And at the time, I was wearing a longer one, so it was more easy to kind of like pull off from the back.

    And then I also had like a pin underneath to hold it in place. And then that kind of came loose. So, like, at the time I was just trying to think of like five different things at one time, like trying to get the pin to not stab me in the neck, and then turn around to see who this kid is.

    JOHN TULENKO: In high school, the bullying continued, especially when she and other Muslim students would gather to pray.

    HAFSA ABDI: Mostly, the upperclassmen, they would come into the bathroom sometimes and start fighting with the Somali girls that were trying to wash for prayer, and then when it gets reported, nothing would happen.

    JOHN TULENKO: What would they say?

    HAFSA ABDI: So they’d be like, oh, well, why are you making the bathroom dirty, you stinky Somalian or you terrorist or stuff like that, or go back to where you came from.

    JOHN TULENKO: Where Hafsa comes from is Minnesota. She was born here, after her parents fled Somalia to escape civil war. Thousands of other East African refugees have also come to St. Cloud, changing the face of this mostly white, mostly Catholic small city.

    WILLIE JETT, Superintendent, St. Cloud Area School District 742: My job is to make sure that all children, whether it’s their children, whether it’s somebody brand-new to the country, that they have the best tools available to be successful here in America, here within our community.

    JOHN TULENKO: For superintendent Willie Jett, educating the new arrivals required changes across the board.

    WILLIE JETT: What we have had to do is start from ground zero. You’re trying to make sure that, A, all the different languages within school are welcomed.

    You’re trying to make sure that you have interpreters. You’re making sure that you’re revamping teaching staff and support staff and the way that you hold conferences, the way that you send messages home. It’s not what it was 20, 30, 40 years ago, even 10 years ago.

    JOHN TULENKO: But all this change, in and out of schools, has stirred resentment.

    WOMAN: There is a lot of racial prejudice in our area.

    JOHN TULENKO: At this local coffee shop, the divisions in the community were plain to see.

    MAN: They think they’re Americans, but when our forefathers come over, they blended in with everyone else. And these people…

    MAN: This is America. They should be talking English. But you walk downtown, and they’re always talking their language. How in the hell are we supposed to get to know them if we don’t know what the hell they’re saying?

    MAN: I have not had a difficulty with the Somali community. We talk about ourselves being American. I don’t think we’re very welcoming.

    JOHN TULENKO: Similar tensions had been building in the high school, until they came out online.

    HAFSA ABDI: They would take pictures of us. The one that I can think of most popular is, there was this girl who was in a wheelchair because she broke her leg, and she was in the lunch line waiting. And this senior boy who went here last year, he took a picture of her and captioned it, “Handicapped and ISIS too.”

    And then he put it on his Snapchat story. So, his Snapchat story is available for everyone to see. It spread within like 10 minutes, and the whole school knew about it.

    JOHN TULENKO: Reaction was swift. Muslim students walked out of St. Cloud Tech in spring 2015. Reports of harassment emerged in other cities throughout summer and fall of last year, especially after the massacres in San Bernardino and Paris, and following candidate Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the country.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I have had mothers write and say “My heart cries every night thinking how our daughter might be treated at school.”

    JOHN TULENKO: The president addressed the problem at his first ever visit to a mosque in February.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We are one American family. And when any part of our family starts to feel separate or second-class or targeted, it tears at the very fabric of our nation.


    MAN: We’re coming together to create a difference in your school, so everybody in the school feels safe and welcomed.

    JOHN TULENKO: Back in St. Cloud, they have used the year since the walkout to speak out against harassment by training this specially chosen group of students to go out and begin a dialogue with the bullies.

    UBAH NOOR, Student, St. Cloud Technical High School: We’re trying to include people, and we’re not going to sit here and say, no, your opinion is wrong, you shouldn’t feel this way and that way about a culture. We’re trying to educate them, so that — in hopes that they would open up their minds and, I guess, change.

    JOHN TULENKO: And how they’d go about changing minds could be seen in activities like this one, in which the students arranged themselves according to how far they were born from St. Cloud.

    Staff member Sebastian Witherspoon is one of the group’s founders.

    What do you want them to learn?

    SEBASTIAN WITHERSPOON, Director of Equity Services, St. Cloud Area School District: Difference is OK. If you’re from Somalia, if you’re from Duluth as a black male, if you’re from Robbinsdale, whatever, there is beauty in difference. There’s beauty in coming from different places, being different culture, have different ethnicities.

    That’s — to me, that’s — there’s education to me, is having all these people who have a variety of experiences and us learning from that to enrich our lives.

    JOHN TULENKO: Students are also organizing a cultural carnival, featuring food, music, and clothing from their home countries. But in some groups, there are worries about who will come.

    STUDENT: The people who don’t want to be there are the people that need to be there. I mean, I feel like the people who need the conversation aren’t the ones that are actually coming.

    JOHN TULENKO: There could be another approach, which the president had seemed to use, and we brought it up with Hafsa.

    Hafsa, I’m wondering maybe the better approach would be to educate those bullies about what it means to be an American.

    HAFSA ABDI: Mm-hmm. I do feel like it comes from the stereotype of what an American looks like. So, a lot of people feel someone who looks like me can’t be an American, because of my skin color or like a hijab that I’m wearing, and that makes me not American.

    So I feel like really actually do need to understand the actual definition of what it is to be an American.

    JOHN TULENKO: But others in the group weren’t so sure.

    What about the notion of America?

    UBAH NOOR: I feel like we have been teaching what our country has been founded on since elementary school with social studies, with U.S. history, with government.

    We have been constantly talking about what this country is founded on with liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness, but it’s not sticking to people. So, we need to find a different approach to this.

    JOHN TULENKO: So, one year from the walkout, how much has changed?

    CASEY HILDEN, Student, St. Cloud Technical School: I have seen, like, Muslim people and St. Cloud natives become on better terms a little bit, but it’s not been like super noticeable.

    UBAH NOOR: There are other students that are stepping out of their way to — if a Somali kid is walking in the hallway and somebody says something to them, they might step in and be like, hey, that’s not funny. And I have noticed like that happen every once in awhile, and I feel like, gradually, it’s changing.

    JOHN TULENKO: It’s a start on what’s likely a long-term project.

    In St. Cloud, Minnesota, I’m John Tulenko of Education Week, reporting for the “PBS NewsHour.”

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    Supporters cheer for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Stockton, California, United States, May 10, 2016. REUTERS/Max Whittaker - RTX2DPLB

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: We turn to the race for the White House.

    On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton will face off in primaries tonight in Kentucky and Oregon. But over the weekend, Clinton and Sanders supporters were at odds in Nevada at the state’s Democratic Convention, potentially signaling a greater divide in the party.

    Here to help break down the divide, Susan Page, Washington bureau chief at USA Today, and from Las Vegas, Jon Ralston, host of “Ralston Live.”

    Susan Page, let’s start with — we’re having this conversation because it was important, but even just today, there were a flurry of communications throughout the Democratic Party about the tone and tenor of what the candidates should be doing, what their supporters should be doing. What happened?

    SUSAN PAGE, USA Today: Well, we saw the Democratic national chairman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, put out a statement saying the campaigns need to address this, this is unacceptable, it’s troubling, what happened in Las Vegas.

    And then you had Bernie Sanders put out a statement that was pretty defiant. He said he was against violence, of course, but he basically continued his kind of bill of particulars about grievances about how the DNC and others are treating him and his supporters and not treating them fairly, he says.

    And then we had Harry Reid, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, decry that Sanders hadn’t done more to address this in a serious way. The concern is not just what happened over the weekend in Las Vegas. The concern is, is this a precursor to a divided Democratic Party as they head into the national convention in Philadelphia?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Jon Ralston, fill us in on what happened over the weekend in the great state of Nevada.

    JON RALSTON, Ralston Live: Yes, it wasn’t such a great state over the weekend, I guess.

    It was a raucous convention. All conventions are raucous to some extent, but the Bernie Sanders folks went into that convention determined to cause trouble because they thought that the state party, which essentially is Harry Reid, was being unfair to them.

    They filed a lawsuit beforehand. Reid tried to tamp it down, got Bernie Sanders to put out a unity statement. But that was just a fool’s errand. It had no chance of working. And so the problem for the Bernie Sanders folks, they had no perspective on this, is that they lost. They lost the caucus on February 20. They managed to flood some county conventions, but they didn’t get their people out.

    They didn’t fill out the close to 500 delegate slots for the state convention. They were outnumbered, got overruled in the changes they were trying to make. And the real irony here is, this was only over a few delegates that wouldn’t have mattered.

    And what Susan said is the most important point: How much of a harbinger is this of what’s to come in Philadelphia in July? I know a lot of people like to think of Nevada as some kind of alien world, but I think Nevadans are pretty much like people everywhere else. And that could be a real problem for the Democrats in Philadelphia.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Susan, we were expecting perhaps a contested convention on the Republican side, the unexpected to happen, and now Donald Trump seems to be walking slowly towards what might be a coronation. Right?

    But this — is this — what we saw were videos from cell phones of people, Bernie Sanders supporters yelling, recount, recount in Nevada. Is this what we’re likely to see in Cleveland?

    SUSAN PAGE: It’s interesting.

    The divisions are much more serious in the Republican Party, even though there is no question about Donald — there is longer any question that Donald Trump is going to be to nominee. There are real questions about, what does the Republican Party stand for going forward? And he has not been endorsed by the top Republican official in the country yet.

    So there are real divisions in the Republican Party, but there are real divisions in the Democratic Party as well. Some of them go to policy. You know, there’s some policy differences between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but a lot of them go to kind of, who do you want to get things done? Do you want the most experienced candidate? That would be Hillary Clinton.

    Or do you want somebody who describes himself as a revolutionary, who is going to really shake things up? And Bernie Sanders has captured the energy of this party. Hillary Clinton has won a majority of the votes in the primaries. We shouldn’t forget that. She’s very, very likely to be nominated as the nominee at the convention.

    But Bernie Sanders is the guy who has the enthusiasm and the energy, and especially with young voters, so he’s not a force to be denied at this point. And I think the Clinton campaign is still figuring out how to deal with that and how to emerge with a united party to deal and face Donald Trump.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Jon Ralston, we have had folks from both the campaigns on the program, saying, you know what, this will sort itself out. This is part of the process.

    How much of this is structural? Right now, Bernie Sanders supporters still see Hillary as the immediate competitor, whereas Hillary kind of sees — she has sort of pivoted and sees Donald Trump as the eventual competitor and that’s where she’s focusing on?

    JON RALSTON: Yes, I think it’s a question of depth, as opposed to breadth, in this sense.

    I don’t think this has anything to do with policy, what we saw in Nevada and what’s going on across the country among the Bernie Sanders supporters. Sanders tapped into something in this country, there’s no doubt. You can call it anti-establishment. You can say that it’s millennials getting involved and wanting to make change.

    But what we saw in Nevada and what I think you’re seeing now is frustration and anger with a process that they see as slanted against them and their man. And that is very, very difficult to control once it’s unleashed.

    And I think you see that Bernie Sanders now doesn’t think — doesn’t think he should control it at this point, because, as you may have seen earlier, he put out that defiant statement about what happened in Nevada.

    And I’m not sure he’s going to be able to control it in July either, even if he is standing up on stage in Philadelphia holding arm in arm with Hillary Clinton declaring unity. I’m not sure he can control it. The question, though, is how broad is it?

    I think some of these feelings are very deep, but it is 10 percent of Bernie Sanders supporters, 20, 30? We won’t know that until late July.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And how long does it take for them to bury the hatchet, whichever way it goes? They have been pretty tense over the past few weeks and months. It’s not just one convention, one week. They can say, we’re all good, let’s go ahead and attack Donald Trump.

    SUSAN PAGE: You know it’s going to take some time. As you say, you’re not going to turn on a dime and have the Bernie Sanders supporters say, OK, we’re OK with Hillary Clinton.

    In other words, in the exit polls just a week ago in West Virginia, about four in 10 of Bernie Sanders voters in West Virginia said they would vote — if Bernie Sanders wasn’t the nominee, if Hillary Clinton turned out to be the nominee, they would vote for Donald Trump in November.

    Now, that’s a number that I think probably gets reduced if Bernie Sanders endorses Hillary Clinton, is enthusiastic about her as I think a lot of people expect him to ultimately be. But it takes some time to persuade people who are now battling with one another that they ought to join forces and be on the same side.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Jon, how much of it — in the people that you have spoken to, how much of it is about the two candidates? As you said, it’s not so much about the policy right now.

    JON RALSTON: Yes, I do think it becomes very personal.

    And, you know, campaigns get very intense. I think this started almost as a lark with some people who were supporting Bernie Sanders as a so-called protest against the anointment of Hillary Clinton. But now it’s become more real, as he did better than people thought he was going to do, as he’s won all of these late states.

    And now I do think there is a real anger percolating out there among the Sanders folks that, wait a second, he’s being cheated. Now, that’s not what happened in Nevada, no matter how they’re portraying it. And the fact that Sanders was unwilling to say, you know, I lost fair and square, and — than play into what his campaign out here is saying happened, I think it’s a very, very bad sign.

    And, again, I do — I have very little confidence that what he has unleashed can be so easily controlled, no matter how skillful Hillary Clinton or Debbie Wasserman Schultz or any of the rest of the Democratic establishment thinks they are.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Jon Ralston of “Ralston Live” joining us from Nevada, and Susan Page of USA Today, thanks so much.

    SUSAN PAGE: Thank you.

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    Iraqi security forces and people gather at the site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad's mainly Shi'ite district of Sadr City, Iraq, May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily - RTSENY2

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     HARI SREENIVASAN: Another day of extreme violence hit Baghdad today, as at least 77 people were killed and 140 wounded in a series of bombings across the city.

    William Brangham has our report.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The capital city’s largely Shiite neighborhoods were ground zero for this latest carnage. The worst killing came in the Shaab district, where a roadside bomb detonated at a crowded marketplace.

    When people rushed to help those victims, a suicide bomber then attacked.

    WATHIQ HASHIM, Eyewitness (through interpreter): An explosion took place here, killing a woman, her brother and her niece. Some other people who came to shop were either killed or wounded. What crime have innocent people committed?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It was much the same in the sprawling Sadr City district. A car bomb left mangled, burned-out vehicles at an outdoor market, while a suicide bomber targeted a nearby eating place.

    HABOOB ALI, Eyewitness (through interpreter): This is the second blast in Sadr city. One is here and the other blast was outside a restaurant. We are fed up with this violence. The city has been the scene of daily explosions.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In all, bombs ripped through four different locations across Baghdad today, Shaab and Habibiya in the north, as well as nearby Sadr City, and the Dora neighborhood on the southern side. They’re the latest in a surge of attacks in and near Baghdad that have claimed more than 200 lives in the last week alone.

    Iraqi officials say ISIS militants are responsible and that they’re using the bombings to try to compensate for ground they have lost on the battlefield.

    And American officials echo that belief.

    MARK TONER, State Department Spokesman: The United States strongly condemns the barbaric terrorist attacks in Iraq today that deliberately and specifically targeted civilians.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner says it’s clear the battle is far from over against ISIS, known in Arabic as Da’esh.

    MARK TONER: These attacks are the latest reminder of the danger that this group continues to pose to all Iraqis, and the importance of Iraqi leaders from all communities to continue to work together, so that progress against Da’esh can continue to be made.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In all, the Iraqi government estimates that ISIS still controls 14 percent of the nation’s territory. That’s down from 40 percent back in 2014, when the militants made a lightning advance.

    But as Iraqi forces gain ground in the north and west, backed by U.S. airstrikes, the new violence around Baghdad has put added strain on those forces. It could open the possibility that Iraqi army units are pulled from the front line fighting ISIS to help secure the capital.

    Any such move could undercut Iraq’s ability to fight ISIS in the north, especially as the Iraqi military pursues its new offensive to retake Mosul, the nation’s second largest city.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m William Brangham.

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    A group of firefighters walk amid rubble near the base of the destroyed
south tower of the World Trade Center in New York in this file photo
from September 11, 2001. This year's anniversary of the September 11
attacks in New York and Washington will echo the first one, with
silence for the moments the planes struck and when the buildings fell,
and the reading of 2,792 victims' names. REUTERS/Peter Morgan-Files

HB/ - RTR2G31

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Good evening. I’m Hari Sreenivasan. Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff are away.

    On the “NewsHour” tonight: A relentless wave of ISIS-claimed bombings in Baghdad bring the death toll to nearly 200 just in the last week. What’s behind the latest spike in violence?

    Also ahead: With the race’s finish line in sight, Democrats in Kentucky and Oregon cast their primary vote, but is the party moving further apart ahead of the general election?

    Plus, from military artillery ranges to prisons, a remarkable story of transformation and the unlikely allies of endangered butterflies.

    SUSAN CHRISTOPHER, Inmate, Mission Creek Corrections Center: When I watched the butterflies struggling to come out of their cocoon out of their chrysalis, it really makes me realize that, yes, we all do need to struggle to get to where we need to be.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”


    HARI SREENIVASAN: The day’s two Democratic primaries have Hillary Clinton hoping to avoid a double defeat, and Bernie Sanders hoping to pull out a pair of wins.

    In Oregon, it’s a vote-by-mail affair. But Kentucky’s primary day was more traditional, with voters giving voice to the divisions in the party.

    VIRGINIA HUNT, Kentucky Resident: I think Hillary stands up for women and children and families, and the violence in our country, the gun issue, oh, my goodness, so many issues, foreign policy. I think she’s well-qualified. I think she understands families in this country and what they need.

    KENT LOOFBOURROW, Kentucky Resident: Partly because of Hillary’s comments on coal, I think especially in Eastern Kentucky, that’s going to be a big deciding factor. And even people that I wouldn’t have expected to vote for Bernie are talking about voting for him.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Republicans also voted in Oregon, with Donald Trump close to wrapping up the GOP nomination.

    Today, he reported to the Federal Election Commission that he’s worth more than $10 billion, with annual income of $557 million. He’s refused, so far, to release his tax returns.

    We will come back to divisions on the Democratic side later in the program.

    The U.S. Senate voted today to let families of 9/11 victims sue the government of Saudi Arabia, setting up a possible veto showdown. The Saudis have threatened to pull billions of dollars from the U.S. economy if the measure becomes law. Senators from both parties rejected the warning and passed the bill by voice vote.

    New York Democrat Chuck Schumer said it sends a clear message.

    SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), New York: If the Saudis didn’t participate in this terrorism, they have nothing to fear about going to court. If they did, they should be held accountable. It’s that simple. And there are certain moral things that supersede day-to-day relationships between countries.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The White House argues the bill could boomerang, and expose Americans overseas to legal jeopardy.

    Spokesman Josh Earnest:

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: We need to make sure this is — that we don’t overlook the potential unintended consequences of a bill that could put the United States at risk around the world. That is a dangerous proposition and one that the commander in chief, I think, is rightly concerned about.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The legislation still has to get through the U.S. House.

    It looks as though operator error was a critical factor in the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia a year ago. The National Transportation Safety Board officially concluded today that the train’s engineer was distracted by radio traffic. The train accelerated to 106 miles an hour going into a sharp curve with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour. It derailed, killing eight people and injuring hundreds.

    The Justice Department will investigate state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes. The New York Times reports the focus is on any Russian officials, coaches or athletes who violated drug rules at competitions in the U.S. Those who used the U.S. banking system in the process could be targets, too. It’s unclear if Russian authorities will cooperate.

    A move to make young American women subject to a military draft has been sidetracked for now. The House Rules Committee today dropped a provision that women 18 to 25 sign up for the draft, just as men do. Conservatives argued it could present a dangerous blurring of gender lines.

    The head of the Armed Services Committee, Republican Mac Thornberry of Texas, raised questions about selective service overall.

    REP. MAC THORNBERRY (R), Texas: There has not been a review of whether we need selective service since 1994. And so my strong view is that we need to ask the big questions and figure out whether we need it. If so, for what purpose? What would happen if we did away with it? If we do have it, who’s going to be involved?

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. has not had an actual military draft since 1973.

    The Senate today confirmed Eric Fanning to be the secretary of the Army, the first openly gay leader of any military service. He was approved on a unanimous voice vote eight months after President Obama nominated him for the job.

    The president of Mexico has proposed legalizing gay marriage. Enrique Pena Nieto signed initiatives to add the provision to the Mexican Constitution and the national civil code. The country’s Supreme Court has ruled it’s unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriages, but not all Mexican states have legalized the practice.

    Racial segregation is getting worse in America’s public schools. The Government Accountability Office reports black and Hispanic children are increasingly concentrated, with few, if any, white classmates. Those schools also offer fewer math, science and college prep classes and have higher rates of suspension and expulsion.

    A separate report today focused on the state of black America. We will look at that later in the program.

    And Wall Street sold off today on growing expectations of a new interest rate hike. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 180 points to close just under 17530. The Nasdaq fell 59 points, and the S&P 500 dropped 19.

    Still to come on the “NewsHour”: a spike in violence that’s claimed nearly 200 Iraqi’s lives; the deepening divide in the Democratic base; Muslim students speak out as they struggle to fit in; why higher graduation rates don’t equal higher incomes for black Americans; and much more.

    The post News Wrap: The Senate advances measure to let 9/11 families sue Saudi Arabia appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    An aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carries the Zika virus is seen at a laboratory of the National Center for the Control of Tropical Diseases (CENCET) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by Stringer /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    An aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carries the Zika virus is seen at a laboratory of the National Center for the Control of Tropical Diseases (CENCET) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by Stringer /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — The Senate voted decisively on Tuesday in favor of a bipartisan $1.1 billion measure to combat the Zika virus this year and next, cutting back President Barack Obama’s request but offering significantly more money to fight Zika than would House GOP conservatives.

    The 68-29 vote propelled the measure over a filibuster and sets the stage to add the Zika funding to an unrelated spending bill. It comes three months after Obama requested $1.9 billion to battle the virus, which can cause severe birth defects.

    “We see the people of this country facing a public health threat,” said Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who supports the full Obama request. “Our response should be ‘Let’s deal with it the way that medical experts are saying we need to deal with it.'”

    A showdown looms with the House, which is scheduled to debate its $622 million anti-Zika measure on Wednesday. The House would fund the Zika battle for a shorter duration — through September — and is “offset” with spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.

    The Senate vote came after Republicans blocked a measure matching Obama’s request and after Democrats killed a GOP-backed proposal to cut into Obama’s health care law to pay for battling Zika.

    The effects of Zika are not very severe for most adults, but for pregnant women, the virus can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe birth defects. Zika is commonly spread by mosquitoes and can also be contracted through sexual contact.

    Zika is expected to spread more widely during the summer mosquito season, but officials say outbreaks in the U.S. are likely to be limited. To date, there have been more than 500 cases of Zika in the continental U.S., all of which so far have been associated with overseas travel.

    Obama requested the funding in February and has been forced to tap unspent 2015 funds from the successful battle against Ebola to finance almost $600 million in anti-Zika efforts. They include research on the virus and Zika-related birth defects, response teams to limit Zika’s spread, and helping other countries fight the virus. Zika is expected to spread more widely during the summer mosquito season, but officials say outbreaks in the U.S. are likely to be limited. The House measure, slated for a vote as early as Wednesday, will advance as a stand-alone bill and it could prove challenging to forge a compromise out of the two chambers’ significantly different versions.

    The White House issued a veto threat on the House measure on Tuesday, saying it is “woefully inadequate” and protested that it would only fund the Zika battle through Sept. 30.

    “It is woefully insufficient given the significant risk that is posed by Zika,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. “The House of Representatives is three months late and more than a billion short.”

    Republicans are sensitive to perceptions that they’ve dragged their feet on Zika and say that the government’s efforts to fight the virus have not been delayed.

    “No one should think that spending money on Zika has been held back because the Congress is just now moving forward,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., co-author of the compromise measure.

    The White House and its Democratic allies have been sharply critical of Republicans controlling Congress over delays in providing additional funds, which they say is required for mosquito control, purchasing diagnostic tests and developing and manufacturing a vaccine.

    “Some say, ‘Oh, let’s take more money from Ebola to deal with Zika,’ or ‘Oh, let’s use existing public health funds,’ or even ‘Oh, Zika isn’t really that bad,'” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. “Well, while we parse and ponder, Zika infects and affects more people each day. We must act now.”

    The bipartisan Senate measure was negotiated by Missouri Republican Blunt and Patty Murray, D-Wash. It is relatively close to what the White House has asked for, except it does not pay back very much of the already-tapped Ebola money or give Puerto Rico, a Zika hot spot, help with its Medicaid program. One provision would provide $248 million to combat Zika overseas through mosquito control, maternal and child health programs, and public information campaigns.

    “It’s a targeted approach that focuses on immediate needs while also providing resources for longer-term goals like a vaccine,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who voted for the compromise and said it “represents a notable departure from our Democratic colleagues’ initial position.”

    McConnell set up a series of votes, first on an alternative Senate plan by Florida Democrat Bill Nelson and his home-state GOP colleague Marco Rubio that largely mirrored Obama’s request. It fell prey to a GOP filibuster. Democrats returned the favor and killed a GOP proposal by Texas Sen. John Cornyn that would have tapped a prevention fund established under the Affordable Care Act to offset the Zika funding.

    That left the compromise as the only alternative left standing.

    The administration is urging lawmakers to deliver additional anti-Zika funds before Congress recesses for Memorial Day. That’s unlikely.

    The post Senate easily advances $1.1 billion in Zika funding appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announces to the crowd that he had just won Oregon during a rally in Carson, California. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announces to the crowd that he had just won Oregon during a rally in Carson, California. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders has won Oregon’s presidential primary and battled Hillary Clinton to a razor-thin margin in Kentucky, vowing to stay in the race until the end as Clinton aimed to blunt his momentum and prepare for a fall campaign against Republican Donald Trump.

    Tuesday’s primary in Kentucky was too close to call with Clinton leading Sanders by less than one-half of 1 percent. Closing in on the Democratic nomination, Clinton declared victory in Kentucky nonetheless, telling her supporters on Twitter: “We’re always stronger united.”

    Trump won the GOP’s Oregon primary, the only Republican contest on Tuesday. In a sign of his pivot into the general election, his campaign announced that it had signed a joint fundraising agreement with the Republican National Committee that will allow it to raise cash for both his campaign and other Republican efforts.

    After months of discord within the GOP, Democrats displayed new signs that it could have trouble uniting around Clinton’s candidacy as Sanders plows through the end of the primary calendar in mid-June. Sanders will need to win about two-thirds of the remaining pledged delegates to end the primary season in a tie but is not letting up.

    “Before we will have the opportunity to defeat Donald Trump, we’re going to have to defeat Secretary Clinton,” Sanders said Tuesday night to cheers in Carson, California.

    Clinton ended the night with a commanding lead of 279 pledged delegates over Sanders and a dominant advantage among party officials and elected leaders known as superdelegates. The outcomes in Kentucky and Oregon did not dramatically change the delegate count and the former secretary of state remains on track to clinch the nomination on June 7 in the New Jersey primary.

    But Tuesday’s elections followed a divisive weekend state party convention in Nevada in which supporters of Sanders were accused of tossing chairs and making death threats against the Nevada party chairwoman at the event in Las Vegas. Supporters argued that party leadership had rigged the results of the convention in favor of Clinton.

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

    In a sign of the tensions between the two sides, Sanders issued a defiant statement Tuesday dismissing complaints from Nevada Democrats as “nonsense” and said his supporters were not being treated with “fairness and respect.”

    Later, in California, Sanders said the party could “do the right thing and welcome into the party people who are prepared to fight for real economic and social change.” He said the other option would be to “maintain its status quo structure, remain dependent on big-money campaign contributions and be a party with limited participation and limited energy.”

    Sanders pointed to polls that show him in a stronger head-to-head matchup against Trump than Clinton. With his victory in Oregon, the billionaire businessman now has 1,160 delegates, putting him within 77 delegates of clinching the Republican nomination.

    For Democrats, Clinton and Sanders will each pick up at least 25 delegates in Kentucky with five delegates remaining to be allocated pending final vote tallies. In Oregon, Sanders will receive at least 28 delegates and Clinton will get at least 24 of the 61 delegates at stake. Former President Bill Clinton is the last Democrat to carry Kentucky in a presidential election. Overall, Clinton leads Sanders among pledged delegates, 1,767-1,488. When superdelegates are included, Clinton’s lead grows to 2,291 to Sanders’ 1,528. Clinton is now just 92 delegates short of the 2,383 needed to win.

    The Sanders campaign did not immediately say whether it will challenge the results in Kentucky, which does not have an automatic recount.

    Clinton campaigned in Kentucky on Sunday and Monday in an effort to break up Sanders’ momentum after his recent victories in Indiana and West Virginia. She pointed to the economic gains under the administration of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who is the last Democrat to carry the state in a presidential election.

    Nearing the end of a long primary slog, the two Democratic candidates are preparing for June 7 primaries in California, New Jersey and four other states and then the District of Columbia primary on June 14.

    When pledged delegates and superdelegates are combined, Clinton is now about 96 percent of the way toward securing the Democratic nomination.

    Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi in Denver, Catherine Lucey in Paducah, Kentucky, and Michelle Rindels in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

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

    The post Sanders wins Oregon primary; Clinton declares victory in tight Kentucky race appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Mechanic Donnie Asher works on a car at Corner Mechanic in Golden, Colorado, U.S. April 19, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking - RTX2D0DC

    Mechanic Donnie Asher works on a car at Corner Mechanic in Golden, Colorado, U.S. April 19, 2016. Photo by REUTERS/Rick Wilking

    If you’re a salaried employee who makes under $47,476 a year, you will now be paid time and a half for every hour you work over 40 hours a week.

    Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez unveiled the finalized overtime rules during a press call Tuesday. The new overtime threshold for salaried employees will be set at $47,476 and will take effect on Dec. 1, 2016. Under the regulation the threshold will be updated every three years. Biden will announce the changes tomorrow in Columbus, Ohio.

    The administration estimates 4.2 million workers will benefit from the new rule’s overtime protections, because they will either be paid more or get to spend more time with their families. Today, the average full-time American worker works 47 hours a week, according to a Gallup study from 2014.

    “If you work overtime, you should actually get paid for working overtime,” said Biden.

    Currently, if you make under $23,660, you are automatically eligible for overtime pay. But that number hasn’t changed all that much in 40 years.

    READ MORE: Are bosses cheating workers out of overtime?

    “In 1975, 62 percent of workers automatically qualified for overtime. Today, that’s 7 percent,” said Biden.

    The new rule brings the salary threshold close to where it would be had the overtime threshold of 1975 been indexed to inflation.

    With the new changes, the White House estimates that 35 percent of full-time salary workers will be below the threshold and thus eligible for overtime pay.

    WATCH: Last summer, economics correspondent Paul Solman explored the overtime rules before the administration revamped them.

    [Watch Video]

    “Companies are going to be faced with a choice,” said Biden. “Either they pay their workers overtime… or they cap their salaried workers [who make] below $47,500 … at 40 hours.”

    Businesses and groups, like the National Retail Federation, oppose the new regulation. On the organization’s website, Senior Vice President David French writes, “…the rules will cost businesses millions of dollars in administrative costs while giving few workers an actual increase in take-home pay.”

    But Secretary Perez said the Department of Labor has listened to critics and made some changes accordingly.

    “For instance, the business community overwhelming said do not to touch the duties test, so we didn’t,” said Perez. The duties test determines which workers who make above the salary threshold are exempt from overtime. The Department of Labor also lowered the proposed salaried threshold from $50,440 to the $47,476.

    READ MORE: A lawyer and her client weigh in on the overtime scam

    Overtime regulations were first established in 1938 under the Fair Labor Standards Act. “It was meant to address both the question of [the] underpaid and overworked by setting a wage floor and an hour ceiling. In so doing, the Fair Labor Standards Act was the crown jewel of worker protection and helped build the middle class,” said Perez.

    That crown jewel, however, “has lost its luster.”

    The administration believes the updated overtime regulation will return some of that luster and boost the middle class.

    “The American people want to work,” said Biden. “All they want is a fair shot.”

    The post Obama administration extends overtime protections to 4.2 million workers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    New York may join five states that have removed sales tax from tampons and pads. Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    New York may join five states that have removed sales tax from tampons and pads. Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Feminine products are having a moment. With some calling for a red wave to take the taboo out of menstruation, politicians across the country are trying to make tampons and sanitary pads as affordable and accessible as possible.

    Five states have eliminated sales taxes on pads and tampons: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland and Minnesota. In New York, a bill awaits the governor’s signature, and other efforts to improve access to sanitary products are underway.

    The bill would reclassify pads and tampons so they’re exempt from the 4 percent state sales tax, like many other items on pharmacy shelves, including bandages, swabs and contraceptives. The bill passed both houses of the legislature, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s media representative has spoken positively about it.

    In New York City, a bill would provide free sanitary supplies in schools, homeless shelters and prisons. Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito backs the bill, and Mayor Bill de Blasio has expressed support for the cause.

    New York lawmakers in Congress are working on the issue, too. Rep. Grace Meng, D-Queens, has introduced the Fund Essential Menstrual Products Act of 2015 (also known as the FEM Products Act). It would make feminine hygiene products eligible for purchase with pretax Flexible Spending Accounts. And Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-Manhattan, has asked the National Institutes of Health to research the safety of certain fibers and chemicals used in the products.

    As is so often the case, politics is catching up with pop culture. Although menstruation management has long been a favorite topic among comedians including Tina Fey and Key & Peele, tampon advertisements now mock the euphemistic ads of yore, and period starter kits are being marketed with cheeky YouTube videos.

    All that laughter may be helping advocates get traction. “Everyone’s talking about this inequity,” said New York Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who introduced the state tax exemption bill.

    At the High School for Arts and Business in Queens, a simple machine may be a game-changer. It has dispensed free tampons and pads since September.

    “It keeps me from missing class, in case I need one,” said sophomore Emily Torres. “I don’t have to worry about accidents. It’s always there if I need it.”

    The school is one of 25 around the city piloting the dispensers this school year. Previously, students had to get tampons or pads from the school nurse.

    “You go to the nurse’s office when you’re sick,” said City Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, has advocated for free menstrual supplies in all schools. “These girls aren’t sick. Getting your period just says that you’re healthy.”

    Principal Ana Zambrano-Burakov thinks making it easier for girls to get these products has improved class attendance.

    “I have heard sometimes girls stay home because they don’t have the money to buy what they need, and that’s no longer the case,” she said. “I just want girls to stay in school and do well, and we’re going to support them no matter what.”

    Rosenthal isn’t sure exactly where the momentum is coming from. When she introduced her bill last year it got nowhere. Even this year, despite the unanimous support, she said the legislative discussion was awkward for some.

    “I used the words ‘period’ and ‘blood’ and they were shifting in their chairs,” she said. “Some couldn’t look at me because I was saying these words.”

    As High School for Arts and Business student Ashley Celik might put it: That’s on them.

    “Sometimes when guys overhear us, they’re like, ‘Oh my god! Gross! Keep it to yourself!’” she said. “Of course we’re going to talk about it. It’s something normal. You shouldn’t be telling us we shouldn’t be talking about it because it’s awkward for you.”

    Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can view the original report on its website.

    The post New York may drop sales tax on tampons and pads appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Don't make a health coverage decision with long-term consequences based on short-term conditions, advises Phil Moeller. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images. Related words: Medicare, senior, old age,  health care,

    Medicare Maven Phil Moeller answers your Medicare questions. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

    Editor’s Note: Journalist Philip Moeller, who writes widely on health and retirement, is here to provide the Medicare answers you need in “Ask Phil, the Medicare Maven.” Send your questions to Phil.

    I will get to as many questions as I can here, but please accept my apologies that I am not able to answer everyone’s questions.

    Ellen – N.Y.: I am turning 65 in August and am still working and plan to continue working until age 70. I cannot collect Social Security until I turn 66. I plan on canceling my employer’s health insurance and enrolling in Medicare by this August when I turn 65. How do I pay for Part B this first year on Medicare if they can’t take it out of my Social Security check since I won’t be collecting Social Security for at least another year?

    Phil Moeller: First off, Ellen, I would advise you to proceed very carefully here. In most situations, you will be better off keeping your employer health insurance. Most likely, you will be entitled to do this. If you have done your homework and determined that Medicare is your best deal, then by all means you can leave your employer plan. This could be a one-way trip, however, as the plan might not have to take you back should you later change your mind. As for your Medicare premiums, you will need to pay them directly to Medicare every three months. You can sign up for a program that will deduct these payments from your bank account.

    Robert – N.Y.: I have employer-provided health insurance. I was told that at age 65 my employer health insurance would become my Medicare Part B insurance and that any premiums collected from me by Social Security would be rebated to me by my employer health insurance. Is this true? Also, Plan D is drug coverage, correct? I have drug coverage from my employer health insurance. Will this mean that I do not have to enroll in Plan D coverage?

    Phil Moeller: This is not the way it would work. By law, employer group health insurance plans must continue to cover you at any age so long as you continue working. Turning 65 would not force you to take Medicare so long as you’re still working. The only exception is if your employer has fewer than 20 people (or fewer than 100 if you are disabled). In this event, you’d need to get Medicare, because it would become your primary health insurance, and your employer plan would become the secondary payer of health claims, and it might cover some things that Medicare would not cover.

    Employers have been devising all sorts of ways to limit their exposure to rising health insurance premiums, but if they continue to offer group health insurance, they must abide by this rule. Still, better safe than sorry, so I advise you to check with your employer. In any event, you either would be on an employer plan or on Medicare if you’re retired. You would not be on both, meaning that you would not have Medicare premiums deducted from your Social Security payments if you’re still covered by employer health insurance. And there would be no rebates involved. As for Part D, if you continue to work and have what’s called a “creditable” drug plan through your employer plan — meaning the coverage is as least as good as a typical Part D plan — you can keep your employer drug coverage and do not need a Part D plan. Your employer is supposed to provide an annual notice that its drug coverage is creditable.

    Daniel – Fla.: I am 84 and live on my Social Security. I receive a Low-Income Subsidy for my medications. How do I apply to get Part B paid for by Social Security and not have it taken out of my retirement check each month?

    Phil Moeller: If your income is low enough, you can get help with your Medicare premiums. If this happens, your Part B premium would be reduced or even eliminated. To find out, you should get in touch with a Florida counselor who works for the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). They can help you figure out if you’re eligible for any relief and also help with your application. There is no charge for this service.

    Nancy – Ore.: About three years ago, my husband declined to enroll for Medicare, as he is covered by my workplace health plan. His health has deteriorated, and I am wondering if it makes sense to sign him up on Medicare now to help cover costs my workplace health plan doesn’t cover? Can he do this without a penalty?

    Phil Moeller: If it makes sense to do this, he will not face a late-enrollment penalty. But you need to proceed carefully here, because if he leaves your plan, he might lose access to it in the future if you change your mind. If he has either filed for his Social Security or has enough work experience to qualify for benefits, he can get premium-free Part A hospital insurance from Medicare. He can do this and still stay on your workplace plan. Then, if he is hospitalized, he would have to pay a deductible of $1,288 before Medicare coverage would kick in. It would pay secondary to your workplace plan, but it’s possible this would still be a good deal for you.

    Otherwise, he would need to leave your plan. He would get Parts A and B of Medicare, a Part D drug plan and either a Medigap or Medicare Advantage plan. You would then need to look at the costs of his Medicare, see how much better it would cover him than your workplace plan and then compare these costs with what you’re paying to have him on your workplace plan. In some cases, employers offer health reimbursement accounts to pay some of these costs for people who leave the plan. If your employer offers these accounts, you could see if this would make the decision more attractive.

    Joe – Fla.: My wife will retire in two years at 65. I will be 63 then. I am disabled and have had a liver transplant. Our big worry is after she loses her company health benefits, how do I afford my immunosuppressant drug? I take Rapamune.

    Phil Moeller: This is a tough one. Unless your wife decides to keep working, you will be forced to get health insurance on the Florida state exchange set up under the Affordable Care Act for two years (until you turn 65). You should compare plans and see which ones provide better deals on your medication. You also should check out whether you can get manufacturer discounts for this drug. Of course, a lot can change in the next two years. But right now, this is the choice you have. Good luck!

    Paula – N.J.: My brother is 67. He has Medicare Part A but not Part B, because he is working and has an employer-sponsored health plan with prescription coverage.  Does he have to apply for a Medicare Part D drug plan also? In addition, does he have to apply for Social Security and suspend because he is working?

    Phil Moeller: The short answer is that your brother doesn’t need to do anything now. Check my answer above to Robert’s question on the subject of his health insurance. As for Social Security, his monthly benefit payment will rise at the rate of 8 percent a year until it reaches its maximum amount at age 70. I support waiting until then to file unless he has life-shortening health issues or pressing current spending needs.

    Hilary – Ariz.: For financial reasons, I took early retirement at 62. I have a small British pension that has diminished by nearly $100 a month this year due to exchange rates. I turned 65 on January 1, so my first Medicare premium of about $104 was deducted from my December 2015 Social Security payment, which occurs every month. My income is currently below $1,000 a month, and my rent and living expenses now exceed my income. I am also handicapped (polio in 1953), but I have never claimed disability. I am trying to figure out what to do but with no success so far.

    Phil Moeller: If your health is good, your lowest-cost Medicare solution would be a zero-premiums Medicare Advantage plan. You most likely would have to continue to pay that monthly premium, which is for Part B coverage. Part B doesn’t cover all your needs. But a zero-premium Medicare Advantage health maintenance organization (HMO) plan with a bundled-in Part D drug plan (normally abbreviated as an MA-PD plan) would protect you from catastrophic health and drug expenses. Of course, you’d need to be comfortable with using the doctors, hospitals and other health care providers in the plan’s network. You don’t say if you also are eligible for Social Security benefits, but if you qualify for premium-free Part A Medicare coverage (which I assume you do if your only current Medicare payment is for Part B), then you might explore whether you could earn some extra income from Social Security. As you might know, your British pension might reduce your Social Security income due to Social Security’s Windfall Elimination Provision. The United States and the United Kingdom have what’s called a totalization agreement that might affect your WEP reductions in Social Security. Here’s an online tool you can use to find out more.

    As for your childhood polio, this condition might have entitled you to earlier Social Security Disability benefits, but it will not be the basis of any benefits now since you have been retired for several years. Besides, these benefits would not increase the amount of money you might be due from Social Security. If your pension is your only source of income, you should explore whether you’re eligible for low-income assistance programs. You could call a counselor for the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). There are broader old-age programs that you also could explore. A good source here would be the Arizona affiliate of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Good luck to you.

    Rick – Wash.: I am retired and will be 65 this November. I am not collecting Social Security at this time. I am also covered by Federal Employees Health Benefits as my insurance plan. Does applying for Medicare and Social Security become more complicated or easier if I am already covered by FEHB?  Do I have to pay for Medicare in addition to my FEHB payments?

    Phil Moeller: Your FEHB plan is the exception to the rule that retiree health coverage always pays secondary and that Medicare is thus required. Your retiree coverage should continue to pay primary and you might not even need Medicare. Check with your benefits folks on this. If this is the case, then you need do nothing when you turn 65. Social Security, which administers Medicare enrollment, may send you a Medicare card after your 65th birthday. Assuming you won’t need Medicare, you should decline Medicare and send the card back. As for Social Security, this should be a separate process. Assuming you don’t have a federal pension that might run into the WEP rules addressed today in Hilary’s question above, your application for Social Security should not be affected by your retiree health coverage. As for the timing of your filing, you should be aware of both early filing reductions for claims before age 66, as well as delayed retirement credits should you wait until after turning 66 to file.

    The post Should you stay on your employer health insurance or get Medicare? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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