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

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    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence embrace at their election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTX2SVO5

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    Read the full transcript below.

    ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: For more analysis of the presidential transition, I’m joined now from Santa Barbara, California, by “NewsHour” weekend special correspondent, Jeff Greenfield.

    Jeff, so, Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton and President Obama have all struck a gracious tone. The idea is to make a smooth transition. But this was an ugly campaign season and it seems like passion is taking a little bit of a break. Do you think it’s going to be these passions and ugliness will bubble up again?


    You’re right. Donald Trump, President Obama and Hillary Clinton for that matter had gracious statements.

    On the other hand, the outgoing Democratic Senate leader, Harry Reid, saying of Trump, called him “a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate.” Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, already said there might be a lawsuit at that one. You have Omarosa, Trump’s reality show companion, saying that there’s an enemies list that they have.

    And it’s also interesting to me that the transition may get ugly or even within the Republican Party, because of some hard feelings. Trump has reached out to Speaker Paul Ryan, but you have ex-speaker, Newt Gingrich, saying about the Republicans who didn’t back Trump, he called them “whiney, sniveling negative cowards who should be consigned to the ashbin of history.”

    So, there are some pretty hard feelings not just between Republicans and Democrats, but even among Republicans that I’m not sure have quite called down yet.

    STEWART: Well, if the administration starts to take shape and we start to get clues about who will be in important positions, how important is the tone in terms of being productive going forward and also having an effective cabinet?

    GREENFIELD: The transition is the first clue we really get about what kind of administration a new president wants to bring, and there’s always tension, always, between the campaign and the seasoned insiders of either party in Washington who are looking to play a role. That is particularly true in this case because Trump’s campaign was so much of an insurgent campaign, and so, ended both parties’ corruption.

    STEWART: So, the Republican Party now has the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate, you would think smooth sailing.

    GREENFIELD: Well, but remember, when you hear that they now have control of all of the branches of government and presumably soon will have the Supreme Court in the political sense, the question is, what agenda’s going to be pushed?

    Yes, there are clearly going to be big tax cuts, most of which will go to the more affluent. They will be some kind of dismantling of Obamacare, but is it going to be a wholesale dismantling, or are they going to try to keep some of the more attractive elements of it? If Trump means to launch a huge infrastructure program, and embrace tax cuts, that’s got to mean an explosion of the deficit, but the Republican Party in Congress is not particularly fond of deficits. So, even though they have control, they’ve got to figure out who is really speaking for Republican Party.

    STEWART: If you’re a Democrat and you’re looking left and you’re looking right, and you’re looking around, what do you think about the future?

    GREENFIELD: It’s not often appreciated — maybe it is now — how much a disaster the Democratic Party has endured after eight years of Obama who was elected twice with the majority of the popular vote. They lost 11 Senate seats. They lost upwards of 60 House seats. They control state government in six states, the Republicans control it in 24. The Republicans have I think two-thirds of the governorships and Democrats have lost 900 legislative seats.

    So, it has been a terrible eight years for Democratic Party. And the only hope they can have is, well, you know, the midterms usually bring bad news for the party in power. But you look at the map and realize that Democratic senators will be up in the reddest states in the country. So, I’m not sure where, I suppose they’ll take heart from the fact the popular vote by 2 million votes. But winning the popular and a buck gets you a newspaper.

    STEWART: We started talking to you about peaceful transition of power. And I feel like we really need to discuss that things are not necessarily peaceful on the ground. Is it time for some of the leaders on the left to say to the protesters, peaceful protesters, “Fine, but assaulting officers and damaging property is not”? Is it time for somebody often the right to say, you know what, we won this election, but there is no time for bigotry we’re seeing and some of the hatred? Has anybody ever been in a position also, a president-elect or a president to have come out and say, we need to behave better, we need to be civil?

    I think both those messages would be very helpful. When — you know, when people are breaking windows in downtown cities because their candidate lost the race and they really don’t like the new president, it’s kind of hard to figure out what message that sends. And, you know, I think Trump could take a note from Bob Dole, 20 years ago, in his acceptance speech, explicitly said, if there any supporting me, you know, who are bigots, who are racists, there’s the door.

    But I do point out that when Trump was asked if some of his language he now regrets, he said, “No, I won”, which suggests he regards some of the rhetoric as, you know, transactional. If it worked, it worked.

    Think of the fact that he is about to become president of the United States, we could really use a sign from him that he understands that when a president speaks, every word weighs a ton, and there’s got to be a distinction between what some of his supporters embrace and what he really believes.

    STEWART: Jeff Greenfield, thanks for joining us.

    GREENFIELD: Thank you.

    The post Trump begins building team for transition appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    File photo of Harold Hamm, founder and CEO of Continental Resources, by Steve Sisney/Reuters

    File photo of Harold Hamm, founder and CEO of Continental Resources, by Steve Sisney/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — An oil billionaire, a North Dakota lawmaker and a former Bush administration official are being considered to run Donald Trump’s Energy Department, according to transition planning documents obtained by The Associated Press.

    The documents, which are being closely scrutinized by energy lobbyists in Washington, also outline early policy priorities for a Trump administration. Topping the list is repealing the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration effort to limit carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. Implementation is currently on hold awaiting a court ruling.

    Those under consideration for energy secretary include Harold Hamm, an Oklahoma oil tycoon and leading proponent of fracking, and North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, an early Trump supporter from a major oil drilling state. Venture capitalist Robert Grady, who worked in President George H.W. Bush’s administration, is listed as a contender to lead both the Energy and Interior Departments.

    It’s unclear whether the list is exhaustive or has been reviewed by Trump. The Republican is in the early stages of setting up his administration, having named only his White House chief of staff and chief strategist thus far.

    The Trump to-do list targets recent Obama administration efforts to reduce air and water pollution that have been opposed by Republicans and industries that profit from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, including the “waters of the United States” rule and ozone regulations.

    Trump calls climate change a “hoax” perpetrated by China and others and has said he will rescind the Clean Power Plan — the linchpin of President Barack Obama’s strategy to fight climate change.

    A coalition of conservative states has challenged the Clean Power Plan and also has challenged an EPA rule that expanded the definition of waters protected under the Clean Water Act to smaller non-navigable waters and seasonal tributaries.

    The Obama administration says the rule would safeguard drinking water for 117 million people, but Republicans and some Democrats representing rural areas say the regulations are costly, confusing and amount to a government power grab. Federal courts have put the rules on hold as judges review lawsuits.

    On his campaign website, Trump called for rescinding “all job-destroying Obama executive actions” and has vowed to unleash an American energy revolution, allowing unfettered production of oil, coal and natural gas. He would sharply increase oil and gas drilling on federal lands and open up offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean and other areas where it is blocked.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last week he has asked Trump to move quickly to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, which Obama rejected last year.

    Trump highlighted the stalled Keystone project during a late October campaign swing through Florida, saying: “We’re going to approve energy infrastructure projects like the Keystone pipeline and many more.” He listed the project among his top priorities for the first 100 days of his administration, saying it could provide “a lot of jobs, a lot of good things.”

    In addition to repealing the power plant rules, the transition document also says Trump’s energy team is considering modifications to Obama’s ozone rule, which is meant to reduce smog.

    Also on the chopping block are Obama administration regulations intended to limit harmful emissions and chemical-laden waste water from hydraulic fracturing operations at oil and gas wells.



    AP writers Matthew Daly and Michael Biesecker contributed to this report.

    The post Oil billionaire considered to lead Energy Department appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    File photo of House Speaker Paul Ryan by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    File photo of House Speaker Paul Ryan by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan told Republican lawmakers Monday that it’s time to “hit the ground running as we join forces with the new Trump administration.”

    “We need to seize this moment, and come together like never before,” Ryan told fellow House GOP lawmakers in a letter seeking their support in his re-election for speaker.

    The Wisconsin Republican circulated the letter as Congress reconvened for a lame-duck session following Republican Donald Trump’s election as president.

    House Republicans were widely expecting to return to Washington this week to plan for life under a Democratic administration and possibly a Democratic-controlled Senate. Instead they find themselves in full control of Washington and are elated at the opportunity to get their pent-up legislative goals signed into law.

    House Republicans will hold closed-door leadership elections on Tuesday and Ryan is expected to be re-elected as speaker — despite mumblings of discontent from a few conservative lawmakers. He has served in the job for a year.

    “Serving as speaker is a tremendous honor, and one I do not take for granted,” Ryan wrote. “I am running for re-election so that we can continue what we have started and make 2017 a year of action. I ask for your vote, and I ask for your support at the start of this great undertaking.”

    Ryan had clashed with Trump in the course of the campaign, including initially withholding his endorsement, which angered some conservative House members and appeared to irritate Trump. But since the election Ryan has been effusive in his praise for Trump and enthusiasm over their potential joint agenda, even though Trump has shown no enthusiasm for the large-scale overhauls of Medicare and Social Security that Ryan has pushed for years.

    As the House was coming back into session Monday, some 50 newly elected House members were arriving in the capital to learn the ropes of their new jobs — much like college freshmen.

    The post Speaker Ryan tells GOP colleagues: ‘We must deliver’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Watch President Barack Obama’s press conference at about 3 p.m. EST Monday.

    President Barack Obama plans to take reporters’ questions Monday afternoon at the White House, before leaving for a weeklong trip to Greece, Germany and Peru.

    It will be his first news conference since Donald Trump was elected the next president.

    The post WATCH LIVE: President Obama takes press questions on Monday appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Artist’s rendition of a solar storm hitting Mars and stripping ions from the upper atmosphere. Photo by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

    Artist’s rendition of radiation from a solar storm hitting Mars and stripping ions from the upper atmosphere. Photo by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

    Radiation exposure on a deep space journey to Mars could cause long-term brain damage, based on recent findings from the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine.

    Cosmic radiation constantly bombards Earth, but our planet’s magnetic field deflects the worst rays. The same rule does not apply to Mars. But too few astronauts have been exposed to lengthy bouts of cosmic radiation on moon trips for an in-depth brain study. The closest example on Earth comes from cancer treatments and nuclear bomb patients, both of which have higher concentrated amounts of radiation than one would find in deep space. Intentional human studies of the consequences are impossible — I mean, would you want to volunteer? Animal models represent one of the only ways to address how a constant lower dose of radiation over a long period could impact the brain.

    So, this study began at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory in New York, where scientists exposed mice and rats to radioactive isotopes of titanium and oxygen, which are both components of cosmic rays. Once complete, this team sent their specimens to radiation oncologist Charles Limoli at the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine.

    Within six months, they found brain swelling and permanent damage to communication networks between brain cells. The rats and mice lost their ability to master easy tasks pointing toward deficits in learning and memory. The researchers dubbed this impact to the central nervous system as “space brain.”

    “This is not positive news for astronauts deployed on a two-to-three-year round trip to Mars,” Limoli said of his Oct. 10 study in Scientific Reports. “Many of these adverse consequences to cognition may continue and progress throughout life.”

    The galactic cosmic rays also impacted a process called “fear extinction.” When you undergo a terrifying experience like drowning, you develop a fear related to that experience, such as a fear of water. With gradual exposure to that fear-inducing experience — spending time around or in water after near-drowning — you become accustomed to the activity again, and the fear is extinguished.

    But when the brain encounters space radiation, Limoli said that “fear extinction” stops occurring. This pattern could lead to higher levels of anxiety, impaired decision-making and depression if the same trends hold in humans.

    This research reveals more specifics on the impact of space-level radiation on the brain, said Nuclear engineer and former NASA researcher Lawrence Townsend, who wasn’t involved with the study.

    “Radiation doses at much higher levels than those found in space, given as part of radiotherapy treatments to cancer patients and given to A-bomb survivors in Japan as a result of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in World War II, have resulted in measurable neurodegenerative effects in humans,” Townsend said. “However, these exposures were from radiations that differ significantly in quality from those found in space.”

    While human travel to Mars is years away, Limoli said this research could improve radiation treatments for cancer, by describing the long-term neurological side-effects.

    The post Mars-bound astronauts might fall victim to ‘space brain’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    File photo of President-elect Donald Trump by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    File photo of President-elect Donald Trump by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — His nascent administration already under attack, President-elect Donald Trump was considering Monday whether to inject new diversity into the GOP by recommending a woman to lead the Republican Party and an openly gay man to represent the United States at the United Nations.

    The moves, among dozens under consideration from his transition team, follow an intense and extended backlash from Trump’s decision on Sunday to appoint Steve Bannon, a man celebrated by the white nationalist movement, to serve as his chief strategist and senior adviser.

    “After winning the presidency but losing the popular vote, President-elect Trump must try to bring Americans together – not continue to fan the flames of division and bigotry,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. She called Bannon’s appointment “an alarming signal” that Trump “remains committed to the hateful and divisive vision that defined his campaign.”

    His inauguration just 66 days away, however, Trump’s team brushed off the criticism on Monday and looked toward the hundreds of high-level appointments needed to run the world’s most powerful nation.

    The president-elect was considering tapping Richard Grenell as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. If picked and ultimately confirmed by the Senate, he would be the first openly gay person to fill a Cabinet-level foreign policy post. Grenell previously served as U.S. spokesman at the U.N. under President George W. Bush’s administration.

    At the same time, Trump is weighing whether to select Michigan GOP chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, a niece of Trump critic and 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney. She would be the first woman in decades to run the Republican National Committee.

    “I’ll be interested in whatever Mr. Trump wants,” McDaniel told The Associated Press on Monday, adding that she was planning to seek the Michigan GOP chairmanship again.

    Appointing McDaniel to run the GOP’s political arm could be an effort to help the party heal the anger after a campaign in which Trump demeaned women. The appointment of Grenell could begin to ease concerns by the gay community about Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s positions on same-sex marriage during his time as Indiana governor.

    The personnel moves under consideration were confirmed by people with direct knowledge of Trump’s thinking who were not authorized to publicly disclose private discussions. They stressed that the decisions were not final.

    Internal deliberations about staffing come a day after Trump made overtures to warring Republican circles by appointing Bannon and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus as his White House chief of staff.

    The two men had made up the president-elect’s chief of staff shortlist, and while Priebus received that job, Bannon is expected to wield significant clout. Trump gave top billing to the former media executive, who led a website that appealed to the so-called “alt-right” — a movement often associated with efforts on the far right to preserve “white identity,” oppose multiculturalism and defend “Western values.”

    Priebus on Monday defended the media mogul, saying the two made an effective pair as they steered Trump past Democrat Hillary Clinton and toward the presidency. He sought to distance Bannon from the incendiary headlines on his website, saying they were written by unspecified others.

    “Together, we’ve been able to manage a lot of the decision making in regard to the campaign,” Priebus told NBC’s “Today.” ”It’s worked very, very well.”

    Trump’s hires were, at first glance, contradictory, though they fit a pattern of the celebrity businessman creating a veritable Rorschach test that allowed his supporters to see what they wanted. Priebus, who lashed the RNC to Trump this summer despite some intraparty objections, is a GOP operative with deep expertise of the Washington establishment that Trump has vowed to shake up. He has close ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Wisconsinite.

    Bannon, meanwhile, helped transform the Breitbart News site into the leading mouthpiece of the party’s anti-establishment wing, which helped fuel the businessman’s political rise. Ryan has been one of his most frequent targets.

    Neither Priebus nor Bannon brings policy experience to the White House. Chiefs of staff in particular play a significant role in policymaking, serving as a liaison to Cabinet agencies and deciding what information makes it to the president’s desk. They’re often one of the last people in the room with the president as major decisions are made.

    In announcing the appointments, Trump said Priebus and Bannon would work as “equal partners” — effectively creating two power centers in the West Wing. The arrangement is risky and could leave ambiguity over who makes final decisions.

    Trump has long encouraged rivalries, both in business and in his presidential campaign. He cycled through three campaign managers during his White House run, creating a web of competing alliances among staffers.


    Associated Press writers Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, Ken Thomas in New York and Donna Cassata in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post Trump considering woman, openly gay man for leadership posts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Policemen and locals look at earthquake damage along State Highway One on New Zealand's South Island on Nov. 14. Photo by Anthony Phelps/Reuters

    Policemen and locals look at earthquake damage along State Highway One on New Zealand’s South Island on Nov. 14. Photo by Anthony Phelps/Reuters

    A major earthquake struck New Zealand’s South Island just after midnight on Monday. Authorities are working to deliver aid to those marooned by landslides.

    The 7.8-magnitude quake struck between the tourist town of Kaikoura and Christchurch, which was still rebuilding from a 2011 earthquake that killed 185 people.

    Prime Minister John Key, who surveyed the damage by helicopter, said at least two people were killed. Police said the deaths occurred in the coastal town of Kaikoura and the nearby ski resort of Mt. Lyford, the Associated Press reported.

    There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

    New Zealand’s military planned to dispatch helicopters and a navy ship to help about 1,000 tourists and hundreds of residents in Kaikoura. Their water supplies and sewer systems were damaged, and their routes to leave were cut off by jagged cracks and landslides.

    “From all directions, Kaikoura has essentially been isolated,” Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the Acting Commander of New Zealand’s Joint Forces, told the AP.

    Landslides block State Highway One on the upper east coast of New Zealand's South Island following an earthquake. Photo by Sgt. Sam Shepherd/Courtesy of Royal New Zealand Defense Force/Handout via Reuters

    Landslides block State Highway One on the upper east coast of New Zealand’s South Island following an earthquake. Photo by Sgt. Sam Shepherd/Courtesy of Royal New Zealand Defense Force/Handout via Reuters

    He said the helicopters can evacuate 18 people at a time, and transport airplanes could drop food, water and other supplies to the residents if needed.

    New Zealand lies between the Australia and Pacific plates, which are pushing against each other and creating stress that is released through seismic activity.

    Scientists are looking at GPS marker readings to see how the shifting plates are reshaping New Zealand. So far, the movement has slimmed down the South Island and some of the North Island.

    Map of earthquake epicenter courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey

    Map of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake’s epicenter courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey

    The post Powerful quake takes out roads, strands residents in New Zealand appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The supermoon rises above the skyline in Rome, Italy on Nov. 14. Photo by Tony Gentile/Reuters

    The supermoon rises above the skyline in Rome, Italy on Nov. 14. Photo by Tony Gentile/Reuters

    The bright orb of this weekend’s supermoon – the closest full moon to Earth since 1948 — crossed the night sky on Monday, treating observers to spectacular views.

    A cross atop a church in Tbilisi, Georgia is silhouetted against the supermoon. Photo by David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters

    A cross atop a church in Tbilisi, Georgia is silhouetted against the supermoon. Photo by David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters

    The glowing moon is seen above the presidential palace in Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo by David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters

    The glowing moon is seen above the presidential palace in Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo by David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters

    The supermoon is seen in the nighttime sky in Istanbul, Turkey on Nov. 14. Photo by Umit Bektas/Reuters

    The supermoon is seen in the nighttime sky in Istanbul, Turkey on Nov. 14. Photo by Umit Bektas/Reuters

    The supermoon sets behind the Chrysler Building in New York. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    The supermoon sets behind the Chrysler Building in New York. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    The supermoon rises behind the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft, ahead of its upcoming launch to the International Space Station, at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Photo by Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters

    The supermoon rises behind the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft, ahead of its upcoming launch to the International Space Station, at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Photo by Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters

    People on a funfair ride are silhouetted against the moon a day before the supermoon spectacle in London, on Nov. 13. Photo by Neil Hall/Reuters

    People on a funfair ride are silhouetted against the moon a day before the supermoon spectacle in London, on Nov. 13. Photo by Neil Hall/Reuters

    The supermoon, the closest the full moon has come to Earth since 1948, rises over La Raza monument in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on Nov. 13. Photo by Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

    The supermoon, the closest the full moon has come to Earth since 1948, rises over La Raza monument in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on Nov. 13. Photo by Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

    A family watches the moon rise a day before the "supermoon" viewing on Beacon Hill near Loughborough, Britain. Photo by Darren Staples/Reuters

    A family watches the moon rise a day before the “supermoon” viewing on Beacon Hill near Loughborough, Britain. Photo by Darren Staples/Reuters

    The post PHOTOS: See supermoon rises from around the world appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A view of the U.S. Capitol Building's Dome, taken from the east side. Photo by Kevin Burkett/via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/6cNCVq

    A view of the U.S. Capitol Building’s Dome, taken from the east side. Photo by Kevin Burkett/via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/6cNCVq

    WASHINGTON — Congress still has some unfinished business before closing shop for the year, even as the focus shifts to the agenda of President-elect Donald Trump and unified Republican control of Congress and the White House in 2017.

    Trump’s election will reset the balance of power in Washington, but until noon on Jan. 20, President Barack Obama decides what can become law. Resurgent Republicans will have to decide what legislation to try to wrap up now and what to leave for next year in hopes of getting a better deal with Trump.

    Here are the highlights of the agenda of the lame-duck Congress which returns on Monday:


    Fighting and dysfunction have stalled 11 of the 12 annual agency spending bills, leaving more than $1 trillion in unfinished budgeting for the Pentagon and domestic agencies unfinished. Republicans are seeking to use gamesmanship to boost Pentagon spending while freezing domestic programs under the terms of last year’s budget pact.

    A stopgap spending bill expires Dec. 9. Top GOP leaders, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would like to wrap up the bills and not clutter up next year’s agenda, but it’s not clear that House leaders have the stomach for the compromises with Obama it would take to do that. The likely outcome is another short-term funding extension that would punt the bills into next year.


    Congress has passed a defense policy bill every year for more than five decades, but this year’s measure is hung up.

    House Republicans are seeking to use the must-pass $602 billion defense policy bill to reverse protections imposed against workplace discrimination by Pentagon contractors based on sexual or gender orientation. Another battle is over how much additional money to spend on weapon systems that the Pentagon didn’t request in its budget. The House has proposed $18 billion, arguing the investment is needed to halt a decline in the combat readiness of the U.S. armed forces. But the Senate’s version of the bill didn’t include the spending boost, leading to an impasse.


    Another likely measure would renew a decades-old law that allows the United States to hit companies with economic sanctions for doing business with Iran. Congress first passed the Iran Sanctions Act in 1996 and has extended it several times since then. The law is to expire at the end of the year and there is strong bipartisan support for legislation that would extend it by another decade. It’s on the House schedule this week.


    Also on the agenda is bipartisan legislation to speed federal approval of drugs and medical devices and boost biomedical research.

    The legislation is intended to streamline how federal regulators assess the safety of new treatments and let them reach markets more quickly. Supporters say that with advances like genetic mapping and biologic medicines produced in living cells, it’s time to speed research and development.


    A popular water projects measure — including $220 million to help Flint and other cities repair aging water systems that are poisoned by lead — is in House-Senate talks.

    Associated Press writers Richard Lardner and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

    The post What’s on Congress’ lame duck to-do list? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX21G33

    In the House, a group of largely younger Democrats is pushing to postpone leadership elections in an effort to force a discussion about the direction of the party. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer have led the caucus for more than a decade. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Still reeling from a devastating defeat in last week’s election, Democrats are beginning the process of charting the direction of their party in the Donald Trump era.

    With Hillary Clinton and her team staying out of the public eye, liberal politicians have begun jockeying for control of the party’s future. While they all backed Clinton, they’re now pushing for a serious shift in the party’s policy positions, financial resources and grassroots organizing to focus more on an economic populist message that could win back white working class voters who went for Trump.

    “I come from the white working class, and I am deeply humiliated that the Democratic Party cannot talk to the people where I came from,” tweeted Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who mounted a fierce challenge to Clinton in the primary.

    The soul searching took a more urgent tone on Monday, when some party activists and politicians began advocating for changes in leadership.

    In the House, a group of largely younger Democrats is pushing to postpone leadership elections in an effort to force a discussion about the direction of the party. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer have led the caucus for more than a decade.

    “The difficult situation in which our Caucus now finds itself requires a much more extensive conversation,” a group of about 25 members wrote in a letter sent to Pelosi.

    The Democratic National Committee, the last bastion of party power in Washington, is emerging as another battleground. Sanders backers called Monday for the immediate resignation of interim chairwoman Donna Brazile.

    After losing the White House and Congress — and likely the ideological tilt of the Supreme Court — the Democrats’ new chief likely will be one of the party’s most visible faces in politics, making the role a far more influential post than it was during the Obama administration.

    Already, around a dozen Democrats’ names have been publicly floated to succeed Brazile, who replaced Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in July after she was caught up in a hacking scandal.

    Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, a prominent progressive and the first Muslim elected to Congress, has emerged as an early contender, backed by much of the party’s liberal wing.

    He’s also picked up support from several key Democratic leaders, including outgoing Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and Reid’s likely replacement, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer. His supporters argue that Ellison’s faith would send an important signal about the party’s commitment to inclusivity during the Trump administration.

    In interviews on Sunday talk shows, Ellison pushed back on concerns that he’d be unable to balance party responsibilities with the politics of his day job in Congress — a problem some Democrats believe hampered Wasserman Schultz.

    “There’re a lot of places that I can serve,” he said, in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ”I’m looking for a place to be of use and benefit. And every single Democrat in this country better be thinking the exact same way.”

    Ellison is far from the only contender for the job. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean announced his intention Thursday to reclaim a post he held during the Bush administration. Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, DNC National Finance Chairman Henry Muñoz III, and South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison have also said they’re considering bids.

    Others are pushing for a Latino leader, arguing that the growing demographic group is crucial to the party’s future and should be represented at the highest levels of its leadership. Outgoing Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego and California Rep. Xavier Becerra are said to be weighing a bid. Jason Kander, an Army veteran who lost the Senate race in Missouri to Roy Blunt on Tuesday, is also said to be considering a run.

    The contest comes at a time of deep unrest for the party. Anti-Trump protests continued this weekend with thousands of demonstrators turning out in cities across the country. Post-election polls showed a significant minority of Clinton backers question the legitimacy of Trump’s win.

    The outlook looks even grimmer. In two years, Democrats will be defending about two dozen Senate seats, including at least five in deep-red states. That election could hand Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a filibuster-proof majority, further clearing the way for a conservative policy agenda.

    Top party leaders are urging Democrats not to despair.

    “It’s time to brush ourselves off, get back in the arena, and get ready to fight,” President Barack Obama said in an email to supporters inviting them to join a call with him on Monday evening about moving forward.

    Clinton, meanwhile, has offered little advice to supporters after her concession speech on Wednesday. On a weekend call with top donors, she blamed her loss largely on the FBI’s decision to revive its examination of her email accounts.

    She’s expected to address House Democrats on a Monday afternoon call.

    The post After election defeat, Democrats begin soul searching about party’s leadership appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Wooden crosses, in memory of migrants who died crossing to the U.S., lean on the border fence between Mexico and the U.S. in Nogales, in Sonora state, Mexico, November 10, 2016. Picture taken November 10, 2016. Picture taken from the Mexico side of the U.S.-Mexico border. REUTERS/David Alire Garcia     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX2T9F3

    Wooden crosses, in memory of migrants who died crossing to the U.S., lean on the border fence between Mexico and the U.S. in Nogales, Mexico. Picture taken November 10, 2016. Photo by David Alire Garcia/Reuters

    BALTIMORE — The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops on Monday urged President-elect Donald Trump to adopt humane policies toward immigrants and refugees, as church leaders begin navigating what will likely be a complex relationship with the new administration.

    Meeting just days after the election, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said serving people fleeing violence and conflict “is part of our identity as Catholics” and pledged to continue this ministry.

    “We stand ready to work with a new administration to continue to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans. A duty to welcome and protect newcomers, particularly refugees, is an integral part of our mission to help our neighbors in need,” the bishops said, just days after the election.

    Trump had said during the campaign that he would build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and immediately deport all 11 million people in the country illegally, though he later distanced himself from that position. In an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” he said he would focus on deporting people with criminal records beyond their immigrant status, “probably two million, it could even be three million.” The Obama administration has deported more than 2.5 million people since taking office in 2009, according to the Homeland Security Department.

    Trump also told “60 Minutes” that his promised solid border wall might look more like a fence in spots. House Speaker Paul Ryan rejected any “deportation force” targeting people in the country illegally.

    In his address Monday in Baltimore, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the bishops’ conference, underscored the message, saying “the nation is on thin ice when refugee families are spoken of in the abstract.”

    He also highlighted an area where the bishops may find more common ground with Trump. Kurtz noted the importance of conscience rights for people who do not want to recognize same-sex marriage or comply with other laws they consider immoral. Trump has pledged to appoint anti-abortion justices to the U.S. Supreme Court and protect religious liberty.

    “Don’t allow government to define what integrity of faith means,” Kurtz said. Dozens of dioceses and Catholic charities sued President Barack Obama over the Affordable Care Act requirement that employers provide coverage for birth control.

    On Tuesday, the bishops will elect Kurtz’ successor, who will become lead representative from the conference to the Trump administration. After being on the defensive with Obama over abortion, LGBT rights and other issues, some conservative Catholics are optimistic about the chances for a rollback on some policies, such as the birth control rule.

    Still, they are deeply concerned about the plight of immigrants after a brutal election in which Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals and urged a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. although he later watered down that proposal. American Catholics have a vast network of aid programs for immigrants and refugees, and Pope Francis has put the issue at the core of his pontificate. About 4 in 10 U.S. Catholics are Latino and Hispanics are already a majority in several dioceses.

    Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis had opposed a request from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, that the Catholic church stop settling Syrian refugees in the state. Tobin brought an Iraqi refugee to a meeting with the governor, who is now the vice-president elect. Tobin is one of three U.S. church leaders whom the pope will make cardinals in a ceremony Sunday in Rome.

    Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami said he has been trying to calm anxious immigrants in his local churches. He pointed back to the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was first elected, and panic spread through the Haitian community Wenski served. Reagan eventually signed immigration reform that enhanced border security, but also created an opening for some immigrants to stay in the U.S. who had entered the country illegally.

    “It’s time to take a deep breath and continue our advocacy,” Wenski said. “If they’re going to build a wall, we’re going to have to be sure they put some doors in that wall.”

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  • 11/14/16--15:45: What Gwen Ifill meant to us
  • Gwen, Judy, Samantha Bee, Philadelphia, DNC, July 27, 2016. Photo by Abbey Oldham.

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We’re joined now by some who knew Gwen well, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, a colleague and friend of Gwen’s and a longtime member of our “NewsHour” family, John Dickerson of CBS News, also a regular panelist and occasional host for “Washington Week,” Kevin Merida, a longtime colleague and now with the Web site ESPN’s Undefeated, and Amy Walter, also of our “NewsHour” and “Washington Week” families. She’s with The Cook Political Report.

    This is a tough night for all of us. I know you each are — have so much you want to say about Gwen.

    I’m going to start with you, Kevin Merida, because I think you have known Gwen the longest in this group. Tell us about meeting her.

    KEVIN MERIDA, ESPN’s “The Undefeated”: Well, it was incredible.

    I was a — I was editor of a black publication at Boston University, a black student newspaper. And we did a piece on Gwen, because here she was, this hot shot journalist right out of college who got hired by The Boston Herald-American.

    And for many young black journalists or aspiring black journalists, we didn’t know many people like Gwen. And so she felt a little bit like a unicorn then. And so we became friends after that. But that was my first introduction to her.

    She was a wonderful friend, obviously, and inspired many of us throughout our careers.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: John Dickerson, you met Gwen on the campaign trail covering politics, and then you became friends.


    I mean, all I have been thinking about today is her smile.


    JOHN DICKERSON: You could read by the light of Gwen’s smile.


    JOHN DICKERSON: And it felt sort of like it greeted you before she did.

    And she was a tough, great journalist. When we were in the company of other journalists, her question was always the one that just kind of cut through the fog and sometimes was a little impolitic.

    But the thing I will remember first is just what a great and warm person she was and how, whatever mood you were in before you were with Gwen, you left it with joy in your heart. And, in Washington, there is not a lot of that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s for sure.

    Charlayne Hunter-Gault, you were obviously a regular right here on the “NewsHour” for many, many years. And you have known Gwen for a long time.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, PBS NewsHour Special Correspondent: I have known Gwen for a long time, but I had left to go to Africa to live and work by the time Gwen got to the “NewsHour.”

    And what’s so amazing is that, you know, she’s of a generation younger than mine, but I, as an older-generation journalist, used to look back on Gwen for inspiration, because, as everybody has just said, I mean, she knew how to cut through the you-know-what.

    And yet she maintained such an air of professionalism. She didn’t put people off. She welcomed them into her space. But, at the same time, when she got to the “NewsHour,” she was already doing what we believed in, and that was to present news that could be used by people, so that, if they got good information, they would make the right decisions about how to live as a good citizen in a democratic nation.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Amy Walter, you have done so many of these Politics Mondays just in this most recent cycle, but you have known her for much longer.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Right.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What is it about her political acumen, her skill that all of these folks are talking about, the ability to cut through the…

    AMY WALTER: I’m so glad that you asked that, because that’s what I was trying to remember, too.

    It’s, honestly, very hard sitting at this desk and not having her across from me. Her love for politics and her love for the process of it is what I have always admired about her. She wanted to do the stuff that a lot of journalists didn’t want to get to, right, because it’s a lot easier staying on the surface. It’s a lot easier to go for the shiny objects.

    And she wanted to really get into it, what does it mean, how did we get here, which is why it was such an honor for me to work with her and work with this show, so that, every time I got on, I felt better and smarter for that.

    And you can see, too, with everybody who is talking here, she created a family around her of all of these people. And she — I felt like we were a little menagerie, that she put together all these incredible people and took care of all of them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Kevin Merida, you talked about meeting Gwen early on and what a — I think you said unicorn, how rare it was to see an African-American journalist succeeding as early as she did.

    She told me the story — and I assume she told you — about first time at the Boston newspaper, what happened to her. Do you remember that story?

    KEVIN MERIDA: You know, I remember there was some — I don’t remember the specifics.

    But she was in Boston. We were both in Boston at the same time. It was a really racially tense city then. I had been an intern at The Boston Globe. And anybody who worked at Boston newspapers back in that day, and you were African-American, many times, you felt like you were kind of under this racial — almost racial terror sometimes.

    And it was really difficult to do the job. The fact that she was able to be in the newsroom, reporting in Boston at that time, was extraordinary, in and of itself.

    And I think she was always one that, in each level of her career, there were never obstacles that she was going to allow to block her. And that kind of professionalism and the ability to wear success well was awfully inspiring, as we both watched each generation, you know, new, young journalists come up and look toward her for that model.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Charlayne?

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Judy, yes, I remember what the incident was, because I was speaking at one of the many awards ceremonies Gwen was being honored.

    And I looked it up. And a co-worker had written to her, “N-word, go home.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. Right.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And she had to survive that and prosper and not pay a lot of attention to it.

    At the same time, let me very quickly say that, while you and Gwen were noted for becoming the first two women to anchor a news program, you know, Gwen identified as a woman, she identified as an African-American, and she identified as a human being.

    So, she brought all of those things to bear in becoming one of the many consciences of the news business and the “NewsHour.”

    I mean, she championed my series Race Matters looking at solutions to racism. She used to send me little notes encouraging me. So, she could be all of those things and still reach out in a universal way to people, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: John Dickerson, she had a reputation, as you point out, to be tough on both — in the field, as well as debates that she’s moderator. Even the president pointed out that she was tough, but she was fair.

    JOHN DICKERSON: Yes, that was her reputation.

    And, you know, even with journalists, she — you know, there is a thing that happens sometimes when journalists get together and everybody kind of gallops along, sort of saying the same — believing in the same thing.

    And Gwen often kind of would say, now, wait a minute. And, sometimes, it was kind of pointed. And that was because she was always questioning what was going on.

    And when you prepare for “Washington Week,” in the conversation before the show, you could always expect that, whatever fancy thing you had polished up and thought was so brilliant, that she would, you know, puncture it in — not in a mean way.


    JOHN DICKERSON: But she wasn’t going to let you just get by with something that sounded good and maybe had a couple of clever phrases in it.

    On the other hand, if you could get her to laugh and hear her laugh, that was a special joy. It wasn’t a chuckle. It was a laugh to be remembered and to fill up an entire room.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And with an office right next to hers, John, that is what I guarantee you I am going to miss the most.

    Amy Walter, but talk about that. I mean, you have talked about how much she loved politics and she wasn’t satisfied with the surface. I mean, but she was always on a quest to get more and — but to do it in a way that wasn’t so…

    AMY WALTER: And to do it — that was joyful.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes. Yes.

    AMY WALTER: And that, I think — sometimes, we, especially in the political press, get so cynical about the same candidates and the same promises and the same election year after year.

    But she always had a — just a joy in covering it, a responsibility in covering it, but she also believed that we could make it better, right? We could be smarter about this, and that we didn’t just have to live with whatever was put on the table by others.

    And, you know, going on John’s point, too, I mean, she didn’t suffer fools at all, no matter…


    JUDY WOODRUFF: No, she did not. She did not.

    AMY WALTER: No matter who you were, you have been caught in the Gwen look of…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All of us — all of us have experienced this.


    AMY WALTER: Have gotten the Gwen look.

    But it’s because she truly believed in the process itself that she could cover it so well. You don’t have to believe that everything is going to work out perfectly in covering politics, but you have to believe that the process is important. And she did.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Kevin Merida, one of the things that you pointed out earlier, for young journalists of color who were coming up at the time, and even today, she has been a role model throughout her professional life.

    KEVIN MERIDA: You know, she always made time for people. She was never too big. You know, achievement never got away from her.

    And she understood what people went through. And she was very helpful in letting other young journalists know her story. And she brought people together. I mean, many of the panelists know that she had a really well-received open house every New Year’s Day.

    And I watched over the years how that open house got bigger and bigger, and because she let more and more people into the circle because she thought it was also important to bring people together. And that was one of the ways, among many others, that she did that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Charlayne Hunter-Gault, talk a little bit about what she meant to journalists of color, to people of color.

    I would be with her walking down the street or in a restaurant or at an airport. And I would see the immediate connection that she had with all people, but there was — of course, because she had fans across all the spectrums.

    But there was a connection for her in the African-American community that was really — it was really remarkable.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Well, absolutely.

    And I remember, when I spoke at the National Press Club when she was honored there with their highest award, I talked about how she reminded me a little bit of Viola Davis, because, when she went through, there weren’t a whole lot of women even then, when she began to achieve national recognition and status.

    And she would look across that line, like Viola Davis said, and reach out to bring others in. So, she inspired those she met. But she also inspired those just by her appearance and by her competence and her extraordinary capacity to do all the things that you have heard all of her colleagues, old and new, talk about.

    The other thing about Gwen was, they say that she could give you a look. And that was true.


    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: But she was not full of herself.


    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: I mean, we — the last time — and I’m so glad I had this moment with her on Martha’s Vineyard this past summer, with Michele Norris, the NPR correspondent.

    The three of us were at dinner. And she just sat back and let us yammer and talk and chat. And we would say something, and she would say, “Oh, I didn’t know that.” And she would pick up a pen and start writing it down to remind herself to look at that.

    And we were talking about something else, and she went right on her phone and said: “No, that’s not right. It was such and such and such a thing.”

    But she was humble, even as she presented this very strong and powerful person. So, I think that what young African-American people saw in her was what they could be. And it was a wonderful. And I could see what I could be, even being older than she.


    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: So, I’m just saying that she appealed to all generations in the most wonderful way.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: John Dickerson, she also seemed to be a journalist that was willing to continue learning.

    I mean, she didn’t take to Twitter quickly, but, once she got in, she was in, and the world knew about it.


    JOHN DICKERSON: Well, she had to be somewhere to tell everybody about “Hamilton” and every song that she was listening to.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: I was waiting for somebody to bring that up.


    JOHN DICKERSON: Well, I felt as though I had to do it for Gwen. Talk about a woman who didn’t throw away her shot.

    She was an enthusiast, you know? She was an enthusiast about Twitter, although skeptical at first, you know, because — in part because I think she probably thought it was just a place for people to just kind of toss off opinions that might not be considered.

    But then, when she took to it with her normal enthusiasm — and that enthusiasm, as we said, often was in the form of either glory to “Hamilton” or lyrics from it — it was just a perfect venue for her enthusiasm to come through.

    And that’s what I think about all today, was just her enthusiasm in all of its different forms. And, certainly, in the new world of social media, it was there, too.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Kevin Merida, I want to come back to you on, you know, we — all of us lived through journalism changing rapidly. Twitter is a part of that.

    How did you see Gwen adapting as journalism changed right in front of all our eyes?

    KEVIN MERIDA: Well, she grasped it like she did everything. It was a challenge and something interesting for her.

    And I would see, sometimes, I would tweet something, and then she would come back with an even pithier reply, you know?

    One of the things that — I remember we were talking about debates — and she certainly did the vice presidential debates and the Democratic primary debate. But I was an advocate for her that she should have been in one of the presidential general election debates as a moderator.

    And I remember writing that, you know, early on. And she sent, “I love you, Kevin Merida,” you know?


    KEVIN MERIDA: And it was just a little funny, you know, rejoinder.

    But I think that she was so accomplished and so well-regarded by so many other people, but, for her, she always wanted to keep learning and getting better.

    And, as Charlayne said and others, she was willing to learn from others. She just soaked up — the passion in her for knowledge was just amazing.

    AMY WALTER: And she was that rare competitor in — at least in Washington, that wasn’t moving ahead by putting somebody else down.

    KEVIN MERIDA: That’s right.

    AMY WALTER: If she was going to get the moderator job, if she was going to get the big interview, she was going to get it because of the work that she did, not because she made somebody else feel bad or pushed them down in any way.

    And that, especially in this town, is a remarkable — first of all, it’s been a remarkable gift for so many of us, but it’s not something that you see very often.

    KEVIN MERIDA: So incredibly classy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I would just say, in our final minute with you and Amy Walter and John Dickerson, I know Gwen really hated, when I talked to her, missing covering the end of this amazing, one-of-a-kind presidential campaign. That was hard for her to miss it.

    AMY WALTER: To not be — to not spend an election night — I have spent a lot of election nights with Gwen Ifill.


    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Judy, can I just — can I just say one final thing?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Fifteen seconds. Sure.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And I hope — I hope I don’t cry.

    But I saw her on the air one night, and she looked so amazing. And, at 10:00 at night, I couldn’t help but write to her. And that’s when she wrote me back and told me how — what she had been going through.

    And I think that’s another thing that we should absolutely think so highly of her, because she worked through all of her illness without letting on to anyone about what was going on.

    The “NewsHour” would say, she’s away, and everybody thought she was away working. And she was suffering mightily. And she bore it with such grace.


    HARI SREENIVASAN: Thank you, Charlayne.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you, Charlayne.

    Absolutely, she was a pillar of strength for everybody out there and for all of us here at the “NewsHour.”

    Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Kevin Merida, John Dickerson, Amy Walter right here, we thank you all.

    KEVIN MERIDA: Thank you.

    AMY WALTER: Thank you, Judy.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now more remembrances of Gwen from Rick Berke. He’s executive editor at STAT News, and worked with Gwen at The Baltimore Evening Sun in the 1980s. Pete Williams, he is justice correspondent for NBC News, where Gwen and he used to cover Congress and politics. Karen Tumulty is national political correspondent for The Washington Post. She and Gwen covered the Jesse Jackson presidential campaign together in 1988.

    Reverend William Lamar IV is pastor of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington. He has known the Ifill family going back decades. And Yamiche Alcindor of The New York Times, Gwen was a mentor to her.

    Pastor Lamar, I want to start with you. You knew Gwen in a way that none of us at the table did. Besides the church every weekend, coming up through the church, the Ifill name meant something.

    REV. WILLIAM H. LAMAR IV, Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church: Indeed.

    Gwen’s father was the secretary-general of our denomination. So, all official denominational literature and statistical reports carried his name.

    So, I don’t remember a time not seeing or knowing the Ifill name. And as I came through the ranks of ordained ministry, her brother, Presiding Elder Earle Ifill of the Atlanta North-Georgia annual conference, was a tremendous voice and leader in our denomination.

    So, when I had the privilege of pastoring her, I knew her pedigree and knew her ancestry.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And she was a woman of deep faith.

    REV. WILLIAM H. LAMAR IV: Oh, she was there every week. She was generous. She was loving. She was accessible. She was a mentor. And little girls could come to her and hug her, and she would share and she would encourage. She was a great gift to our community.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Rick Berke, you were — as we just said, you knew Gwen going back to the 1980s as a young reporter. Tell us a little bit about that.

    RICHARD BERKE, Executive Editor, STAT: Gwen and I covered City Hall together 35 years ago at The Baltimore Evening Sun. Then, years later, we covered the White House together at The New York Times.

    So, we have covered a lot of politicians together. And she had them quaking in their boots.


    RICHARD BERKE: I mean, she would look at them, and they would be intimidated, from mayors to presidents.

    But it was because she was whip-smart, she knew what to ask, and she was relentless. But she would always come back with her big smile that would just melt everyone. So, she was tough, but she was accessible. And she always knew what she was talking about. She would be able to synthesize the news in a way no one else I have ever seen was able to.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Pete Williams, what about your time at NBC News?

    PETE WILLIAMS, NBC News: I think you also have to say, not only was she a great person of faith, but she loved to sing. Right?


    PETE WILLIAMS: She was a great singer at church and everything else.

    I was at NBC when she came there. Those of us in television would say it’s very difficult, what we do, but she made it look very easy. She made the transition very quickly from print journalism to television.

    And, today, I went back and looked at one of her first appearances on NBC in 1994. And it takes a while to get sort of the odd little things, the way we put stories together, but she had that spark, that smile. There was a lot more hair then.


    PETE WILLIAMS: A lot of us had more hair…


    JUDY WOODRUFF: A lot of us did.

    PETE WILLIAMS: But that spark that drove “Washington Week,” that made politics interesting, but fun, you wanted to pay attention to, because you felt you would learn something in a pleasant way. And she had that even then.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Karen Tumulty, as Hari said, you knew Gwen even before Pete did. You covered the Jesse Jackson campaign in 1988.

    KAREN TUMULTY, The Washington Post: Right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What was that like? You were two women covering from different news organizations.

    KAREN TUMULTY: And months on end trapped in airplanes and buses.


    KAREN TUMULTY: It’s extraordinary — and I think Rick would agree — that, even in those — 30 years ago, there was a presence to Gwen that you would very much recognize in Gwen today. She was grounded. She understood that she was there looking for the facts and looking for the truth.

    And I do think, though, when she did make that transition to television, one of the reasons that she was so successful at it was that I just always felt like her honesty just came right through that lens.

    PETE WILLIAMS: I think a lot of journalists look for answers about themselves, but I think Gwen knew who she was. And that is something that always came through and was a — I am from Wyoming.

    And I was at a hardware store in Jackson, Wyoming, a couple of summers ago, and the man who checked me out said, “Boy, you must really be special that Gwen Ifill would have you on.”


    PETE WILLIAMS: And I told her — I said, “You are big at Ace Hardware in Jackson, Wyoming.”

    And, of course, that was a big thrill.

    KAREN TUMULTY: I ran into a pit boss in Las Vegas.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: We have all got stories like this.

    KAREN TUMULTY: I was over at a presidential debate. And as I walking through the casino — but the pit boss goes, “Gwen Ifill.”


    RICHARD BERKE: The thing about Gwen, you talk about a transition to television. She was resistant for months, if not years, to go from The New York Times to television, because she would always say: “I am a journalist. I am a journalist.”

    TV, forgive me, in her mind, wasn’t always journalism. But she’s the one who carried over the tradition of fine reporting, and not punditry. Don’t ever call her a pundit, because she would shriek at that. She wanted to talk about the news. And the people on “Washington Week” would talk about stories, not…

    KAREN TUMULTY: Because they were actually covering them.



    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yamiche — go ahead.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Yamiche Alcindor, I want to bring you into the conversation.

    How did you meet her? How did she mentor you?

    YAMICHE ALCINDOR, The New York Times: I met Gwen Ifill under a hair drier.


    YAMICHE ALCINDOR: We had the same hairdresser. And I was telling my hairdresser so much stuff about wanting to be a journalist. And she said, “You should really meet Gwen Ifill and her — and one of her really good friends, Adalia.”

    And I basically endeared myself to both her and her friend Adalia. And from that moment — I was about 19 when I met her — she mentored me and her friends mentored me. And they really welcomed me into what I learned later was really like a circle of black women who were in news and were living in D.C. at the time, because I went to Georgetown.

    And to come full circle, she spoke at my graduation. And that was the first time that I remember thinking, like, wow, I could really do this journalism thing. It was 2009. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to have a job. And to be able to see her, to be able to steadied by her voice as I was walking across the stage really meant something.

    And one of the first memories I remember of, like, us actually talking, I told her: “Hi, my name is Yamiche, but you can call me Niche if you want to.”

    And she said, “Well, do you like being called Niche? Like, what do you want to be called?”


    YAMICHE ALCINDOR: “Don’t let people give you nicknames.”

    And it really stuck with me, because she was telling me then — and I think something that holds true now — like, be who you are. Be very steady in what you believe and be an honest journalist. Know your name. Know what you want people to call you and really believe in that.

    And for my entire career, which hasn’t been that long, she has really been someone who is not just — not just someone I could admire, but someone who would watch my “Meet the Press” interviews.

    I remember the first time I was going to be on “Meet the Press.” I called her, somewhat frazzled, saying: “I’m going to be doing the show. Like, what do I do?”

    And she was like: “You know what you’re doing. You know the information.”

    And to have someone like that, to have someone of that caliber want to give back to you, and then to speak to me, I thought, meant a lot to me, because it showed me that not only was she someone that I wanted to imitate, but she was also someone that taught me to also bring other journalists that are younger than me up.

    And that is something that, even in my busiest days, I try to remember that she took the time out to talk to me, so I need to take the time out to talk to other people.

    So, I am just devastated by hearing of her loss, because I know that I’m not just — we’re not just losing a journalist, but we’re losing someone who has really believed in mentoring journalists coming behind her.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Pastor Lamar, you talked about Gwen mentoring younger women at the church. What was it about her? How did those connections work?

    REV. WILLIAM H. LAMAR IV: Well, I think it’s important to say, Judy, that Gwen comes from a long line of women who had great dignity and great grace in the midst of turmoil and tumultuous situations that would shrink the average human being.

    So, she comes from Barbados, the West Indies, and there’s a great tradition of excellence, a great tradition of making sure that you make your presence known and your gifts are used.

    And so, coming from Barbados, being a part of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which has always been an incubator of excellence for persons of African descent, and what I appreciated about Gwen is, as she rose in stature and prominence, she didn’t abandon the institutions that had shaped and created her.

    So, she strengthened the church by her presence and by her participation, when she was able, taking the battleground when necessary, offering financial gifts, offering mentorship, always a smile.

    And I just think she was incredibly graceful, incredibly stern, and just a joy to be around. We talked about books. We talked about food. We talked about travel. And she could expose all that she had done and the persons that she knew in a way that wasn’t off-putting.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: She often talked about being a P.K., preacher’s kid.

    REV. WILLIAM H. LAMAR IV: Oh, yes.

    And I was teasing that many preachers’ kids do not turn out to be the most well-adjusted…



    REV. WILLIAM H. LAMAR IV: And many of them abandon the church, because it can be a very painful existence for children.

    And Gwen’s love of the church and her faith wasn’t something that was cordoned off in a personal kind of piety kind of situation, but it moved her into the world to make the world a better place, a more truthful place.

    And what I am amazed about is the number of deep personal relationships that she was able to maintain. The persons who have been gathering today as she was with us for her last moments, she touched them in deep, deep ways. And I felt that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Rick Berke, one of the things that she said about being a preacher’s kid is that it actually put her into different situations over and over again, as she had to move, which is traumatic for a young person. But she figured out a way to get comfortable in these situations.

    RICHARD BERKE: She knew how to make people comfortable and just to talk truth to people.

    But I think one of the things I have learned about Gwen through the last year is — that’s so inspirational to all of us — and, Judy, you have seen it close up — is her resilience in dealing with health issues, but never shrinking for one second from doing the debates and the convention coverage.

    And the toughness and the drive and the energy it takes to do her job was nothing short of inspirational.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Only about a minute left, but Pete and Karen, she — and we heard Amy Walter say this in the last panel — she — Gwen really wanted to be a part of covering this election. And she fought hard.

    It wasn’t meant to be. She wasn’t there at the end. But she hung in as long as she could.

    PETE WILLIAMS: And how much we would have — how much we would have benefited from her analysis.

    The thing that strikes me is, you know, a lot of people in Washington, as they become successful, they shed their old friends and move into upper circles.

    Not Gwen. She added to them and just kept adding to them. And I would pick up on your point there about that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we are just incredibly grateful to all of you, to all of you for being here with us on this day that we never wanted to have arrive.

    Yamiche Alcindor, thank you.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Pete Williams, thanks to you.

    Karen Tumulty, Rick Berke, and Pastor Lamar, thank you all.

    REV. WILLIAM H. LAMAR IV: Thank you.

    The post What Gwen Ifill meant to us appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Our lead tonight is news that we hoped we would never have to report.

    Our managing editor, my co-anchor and dear friend, Gwen Ifill, died earlier today after an almost yearlong battle with cancer.

    She was a supernova in a profession loaded with smart and talented people. So, it’s no surprise that messages of condolence have flooded in all afternoon from across the journalism and political spectrum.

    President Obama said this at the White House:

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Michelle and I want to offer our deepest condolences to Gwen Ifill’s family and all of you, her colleagues, on her passing.

    Gwen was a friend of ours. She was an extraordinary journalist. She always kept faith with the fundamental responsibilities of her profession, asking tough questions, holding people in power accountable, and defending a strong and free press that makes our democracy work.

    I always appreciated Gwen’s reporting, even when I was at the receiving end of one of her tough and thorough interviews.

    Whether she reported from a convention floor or from the field, whether she sat at the debate moderator’s table or at the anchor’s desk, she not only informed today’s citizens, but she also inspired tomorrow’s journalists.

    She was an especially powerful role model for young women and girls, who admired her integrity, her tenacity and her intellect, and for whom she blazed a trail as one-half of the first all-female anchor team on network news.

    So, Gwen did her country a great service. Michelle and I join her family and her colleagues and everybody else who loved her in remembering her fondly today.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama today at the White House.

    We’re devoting most of tonight’s show to Gwen.

    And we start with this look at her remarkable life.

    GWEN IFILL: Good evening. I’m Gwen Ifill.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And with those words each evening, Americans knew they were in good hands, Gwen Ifill’s hands.

    She was the heart and soul of PBS’ “NewsHour” and “Washington Week.” She was also beloved, sister, aunt, godmother many times over and friend to legions.

    The daughter of a minister, Gwen graduated from Simmons College in Massachusetts, got her start in journalism at The Boston Herald-American, before moving on to The Baltimore Evening Sun in 1981, then to The Washington Post, followed by several years as a politics reporter and White House correspondent for The New York Times.

    GWEN IFILL: Even marginal progress could be affected by investigations in Little Rock and in Washington.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: She moved to television and NBC News in 1994.

    GWEN IFILL: They have to find a way to work with this president for the next two years — Tom.

    TOM BROKAW: NBC’s Gwen Ifill on Capitol Hill tonight.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Then, in October 1999, she came to PBS to host “Washington Week,” the long-running political roundtable…

    GWEN IFILL: Good evening.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: … and to become senior correspondent on “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer.”

    JIM LEHRER: And to our new senior correspondent, Gwen Ifill, welcome, Gwen.

    GWEN IFILL: Thanks, Jim.

    Well, for a preview of the Supreme Court’s 1999 term…

    How would you prioritize the needs at the border right now?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There, she added to her lengthy and accomplished body of work.

    In 2013, Gwen and I were honored to assume the great responsibility, and joy, of co-anchoring this program.

    Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff.

    GWEN IFILL: And I’m Gwen Ifill.

    Those are just some of the stories we’re covering on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On this, the first night of the new “PBS NewsHour,” we have a lot of news for you.

    GWEN IFILL: We also have a new look, but Judy and I will be bringing you the news and analysis you have come to trust.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And it was that trust, her dedication, that was her stock in trade. She was the gold standard in our business, known for a fierce allegiance and loyalty to her family, friends, and colleagues, but also to the facts.

    Her range was limitless. Here are some highlights.

    GWEN IFILL: How do we as a nation cope with race conflict and our inability to see each other?

    Let me turn this on its head, because when we talk about race in this country, we always talk about African-Americans, people of color.

    I want to talk to you about white people, OK?

    MAN: White people.

    GWEN IFILL: Why don’t you mention Donald Trump by name?

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You know, he seems to do a good job mentioning his own name.


    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So, I think I will let him do his advertising for him.

    GWEN IFILL: Susana Flores, the owner, is a legal resident who tried unsuccessfully to teach me how to make tortillas.

    Susana’s sister, Rocina Sandoval, who works as a waitress, is not here legally. She could easily be deported.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Gwen is in Des Moines for Iowa’s State Fair.

    GWEN IFILL: This weekend, the political yin and yang of a crowded field all descended on Iowa at once and brought it into especially sharp focus.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VA): The American people are growing extremely unhappy with establishment politics, with establishment economics, and you know what else?

    GWEN IFILL: What?

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Even with establishment media.



    GWEN IFILL: I think every single conversation we have had with a Republican in this booth, when we asked them about these issues, they have always turned it back to talking about Hillary Clinton.

    And that does seem to be the most persuasive argument, David, that Republicans in this room have.

    Can you see a scenario right now in which he would step back from the border at all in a way that you can trust?

    HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I think you have asked exactly the right question, as you often do, Gwen.

    TOM BROKAW: NBC’s Gwen Ifill has our in-depth report.

    GWEN IFILL: Even marginal progress could be affected by investigations in Little Rock and in Washington involving the president, the first lady and their political supporters.

    Fifty years later, though, if King were able to stand in that spot and look out, what is the legacy of that day that some people say, we have a black president, everything is much better, and some people say, we have so much farther to go?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Gwen raised questions others wouldn’t or that wouldn’t even occur to them.

    Here’s one example from the vice presidential debate she moderated in 2004.

    GWEN IFILL: I want to talk to you about AIDS, and not about AIDS in China or in Africa, but AIDS right here in this country, where black women between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of the disease than their counterparts.

    What should the government’s role be in helping to end the growth of this epidemic?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Four years later, she sat down with another set of candidates.

    GWEN IFILL: Welcome to the first and the only 2008 vice presidential debate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Throughout that 2008 campaign, Gwen wasn’t only reporting for the “NewsHour” and “Washington Week”; she was writing about that moment in history.

    As the nation’s first African-American president was elected, she marked it with “The Breakthrough,” the story of a new generation of black politicians.

    But it wasn’t just politics that moved her.

    GWEN IFILL: This is fun. Now, this is the way I always wanted to do the “NewsHour.” Have a little fun.

    HARRY BELAFONTE: I woke up one day and the whole world was singing “Banana Boat.” And I didn’t really understand how powerful I was until I stood before an audience of 50,000 Japanese trying to sing Day-O.


    HARRY BELAFONTE: And I was like, yes, I have arrived.


    GWEN IFILL: Well, I would say you have managed over the years to sing your song.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Gwen’s spirit, nourished by her connection to her church, was on full display when she sat down with Aretha Franklin just one year ago tomorrow.

    GWEN IFILL: So, is part of you, you know, always going to be Reverend C.L. Franklin’s daughter?

    ARETHA FRANKLIN: Absolutely.

    GWEN IFILL: I’m a preacher’s kid, too, so I…

    ARETHA FRANKLIN: I knew you — P.K., OK.

    GWEN IFILL: But I — I am a P.K. But I don’t sing quite like you.

    ARETHA FRANKLIN: Oh, well, we don’t all sing.


    GWEN IFILL: We have other gifts.

    ARETHA FRANKLIN: Yes, you have other gifts.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Indeed, she did.

    One of her last stories was about the new National Museum of African American History and culture.

    GWEN IFILL: This is an amazing place, chock-full of the expected and the unexpected.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Recently, Gwen talked about her love for the “NewsHour” and what it means in today’s world:

    GWEN IFILL: We occupy a role that we know they appreciate. They tell us this.

    And it’s not too much to tell them back how much we love them back. There is — the world is split into a million different little ways of consuming your information.

    A lot of young people say, I get my profession from “The Daily Show.” Or a lot of young people say, I only read what I see on my phone browser.

    But we have a dedicated, committed audience who want to know more, who want us to dig a little deeper on their behalf. And so, if they weren’t there, if they weren’t supporting the work we do, we couldn’t exist.

    And I think it’s kind of vital to democracy that we do exist.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Gwen touched so many lives. And there has been a tremendous outpouring of remembrances today.

    Attorney General Loretta Lynch had this to say.

    LORETTA LYNCH, Attorney General: Gwen Ifill was a pioneering figure in American journalism who quite literally changed the face of the evening news.

    She met discrimination and bigotry with talent and focus, rising to become one of the most prominent journalists of her generation. She pursued her reporting with grace, intelligence and integrity, earning her the trust of countless Americans who counted on her to present the facts of the story without slant or spin.

    She asked tough questions and told hard truths, but she always did so in a way that elevated, rather than coarsened, our national discourse.

    Our country is a better place because of her commitment to the truth, and she will be sorely missed, both on the air and off.

    The post Gwen Ifill, 61, PBS journalist who covered history and made history appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Gwen Ifill, PBS NewsHour co-anchor and managing editor, at "America After Charleston," a PBS special presentation taped before an audience on Sept. 19, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo provided by Washington Week

    Gwen Ifill, PBS NewsHour co-anchor and managing editor, at “America After Charleston,” a PBS special presentation taped before an audience on Sept. 19, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo provided by Washington Week

    The news of Gwen Ifill’s death devastated the PBS NewsHour newsroom, where she was a beloved leader and mentor to generations of journalists.

    Gwen also hosted the long-running “Washington Week.” On both programs, she pressed for the truth — a quality she brought to every story in her four-decade career in both print and television.

    “I always appreciated Gwen’s reporting, even when I was at the receiving end of one of her tough and thorough interviews,” President Barack Obama told reporters today.

    Throughout the day, journalists, politicians and NewsHour viewers offered their condolences and tributes on Twitter. We collected many of them below.

    Share your thoughts and memories about Gwen Ifill here. We’ll collect them to be shared with her family and friends.

    The post Fellow journalists, political leaders and viewers offer tributes to Gwen appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. President Barack Obama and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras shake hands before their meeting in Athens, Greece November 15, 2016.  REUTERS/Aris Messinis/Pool - RTX2TRPK

    U.S. President Barack Obama and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras shake hands before their meeting in Athens, Greece on Nov. 15, 2016. Photo by Aris Messinis/Reuters

    ATHENS, Greece — President Barack Obama opened his final foreign trip as president Tuesday with reassuring words in Greece about the U.S. commitment to NATO even as he prepares to hand off to a Donald Trump administration, saying Democratic and Republican administrations alike recognize the importance of the alliance to the trans-Atlantic relationship.

    Without mentioning Trump by name, Obama told Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos that a strong NATO is of “utmost importance” and would provide “significant continuity even as we see a transition in government in the United States.”

    Pavlopoulos, for his part, thanked Obama for U.S. support of the Greek people in a time of social and economic crisis, and said he was confident that Trump “will continue on the same path.”

    Trump’s election has generated significant unease in Europe because of his tough talk during the campaign suggesting the U.S. might pull out of the NATO alliance if other countries don’t pay more.

    Obama’s reassurances reflect an attempt to ease the deep concerns about Trump and the future of America’s treaty alliances. Yet they may be greeted with skepticism: For months throughout the campaign, Obama repeatedly assured world leaders in public and private that Trump would not be elected, only to see him emerge victorious from last week’s election.

    Obama also met Tuesday with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and offered a welcome message of support for the Greeks as they struggle with both economic woes and a huge influx of refugees. Obama pledged to keep pressing his view that “austerity alone cannot deliver prosperity and that it is going to be important both with respect to debt relief and other accommodative strategies to help the Greek people in this period of adjustment.”

    Obama and Tsipras were to hold a joint news conference later in the day, and Pavlopoulos was hosting an official dinner for Obama at the presidential mansion in the evening.

    Obama is making the first visit to Greece by a sitting U.S. president since Bill Clinton in 1999. Security was tight, with major roads shut down along Obama’s motorcade route and a ban on public gatherings and demonstrations in swaths of central Athens and a southern suburb near a seaside luxury hotel where Obama was staying. Boats were also banned from sailing near the coastline at the hotel’s location.

    More than 5,000 police were deployed in the capital’s streets for the two-day visit. Left-wing and anarchist groups have planned protest demonstrations for Tuesday afternoon, while an armed anarchist group has called for “attacks and clashes” to disrupt Obama’s visit. Clinton’s visit, which came during the height of U.S. intervention in the wars ensuing from the breakup of Yugoslavia, was marked with extensive violent demonstrations.

    On Wednesday, Obama is scheduled to tour the Acropolis and give a major speech about democracy and globalization before flying on to Berlin. From Germany, Obama will travel to Peru for an Asian economic summit before returning to Washington on Saturday.

    Obama said he was looking forward to visiting the Acropolis because “if you come to Greece you’ve got to do a little bit of sightseeing.”

    Greece’s government has hailed Obama’s visit as being of “huge importance” for both Greece and Europe. The country’s left-led coalition government has been struggling to pull Greece out of six years of a vicious financial crisis that has devastated its economy and left more than a quarter of the workforce unemployed. Despite the U.S. election, the government has pinned its hopes on the U.S. president to help persuade some of the country’s more reluctant international creditors, such as Germany, to grant it significant debt relief.

    Without a cut in its debt, Athens says, it cannot hope to recover economically — an argument also supported by the International Monetary Fund.

    Greece has been relying on emergency loans from three consecutive multi-billion euro bailouts from other European Union countries using the euro currency, and the IMF, since 2010. While the United States has not been involved in Greece’s bailout, Athens has long seen it as an ally that could apply pressure on creditors.

    The U.S. has praised Greek efforts to overhaul its economy but has repeatedly stressed the country must continue with painful reforms. The country’s bailout funds are disbursed following reviews by international debt inspectors of mandated reforms.

    The government will also be looking for recognition of the country’s role in Europe’s refugee crisis, which saw hundreds of thousands of refugees pass through Greece from Turkey on their way to the more prosperous countries of the European north, and for U.S. pressure on the rest of Europe to help shoulder the burden. Following the closure of Balkan land borders and the reluctance of some European countries to host refugees, more than 60,000 people are stranded in Greece, most living in poor conditions in overcrowded camps dotted around the country.

    Rights organizations have urged Obama to use his visit to highlight these people’s plight and Europe’s response to the crisis.

    Obama should “shine the spotlight not only on abysmal conditions for the tens of thousands of refugees stranded in Greece, but also on the failure of world leaders to adequately address the wider global refugee crisis,” John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe director, said in a statement.

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    Students sit down to eat a healthy lunch at Marston Middle School in San Diego, California. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    Students sit down to eat a healthy lunch at Marston Middle School in San Diego, California. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Will President-elect Donald Trump remake school lunches into his fast-food favorites of burgers and fried chicken?

    Children grumbling about healthier school meal rules championed by first lady Michelle Obama may have reason to cheer Trump’s election as the billionaire businessman is a proud patron of Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s while promising to curb federal regulations.

    The Obama administration has made healthier, safer and better labeled food a priority in the last eight years, significantly raising the profile of food policy and sometimes drawing the ire of Republicans, farmers and the food industry. The first lady made reducing childhood obesity one of her signature issues through her “Let’s Move” campaign.

    In addition to the healthier school meal rules, the administration ushered a sweeping food safety law through Congress, pushed through several new food labeling regulations, started to phase out trans fats, added calorie labels to menus and suggested new limits on sodium in packaged foods. The White House has also fended off efforts in the Republican Congress to trim the nation’s food stamp program.

    “Food advocates are already nostalgic for the Obama era and will be playing defense for the next four years,” says Sam Kass, a former White House senior adviser on nutrition and personal chef for the Obamas.

    A look at some of the food regulations that could be scrapped — or tweaked — in the new administration:


    Trump himself hasn’t weighed in on school meal regulations. But Republicans, school nutrition directors and some in the food industry have balked at parts of the administration’s rules that set stricter fat, sugar and sodium limits on foods in the lunch line and beyond. While many students have now gotten used to the healthier foods, some schools still complain that they are costly and that it’s difficult to meet the standards.

    “I would be very surprised if we don’t see some major changes on the school lunch program” and some other food issues, said Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, the Republican chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees Agriculture Department spending.

    Aderholt, who sits on Trump’s agriculture advisory committee, says the Obama administration’s approach was “activist driven” and people who voted for Trump are looking for a more common-sense approach.

    One of many names that have been floated as a possible agriculture secretary is Sid Miller, the Texas Agriculture Commissioner who repealed a state ban on deep fryers and soda machines at schools. Miller recently got in trouble when he used a profanity on Twitter to describe Democrat Hillary Clinton; he blamed a staffer and the tweet was deleted.


    In September, the Trump campaign pitched rolling back food safety regulations in a fact sheet, arguing they are burdensome to farmers and criticizing increased inspections of food manufacturing facilities as “overkill.” The sheet referred to the “food police” at the Food and Drug Administration. The campaign later deleted the proposal from its website.

    Congress passed new food safety regulations in 2010, a year after a salmonella outbreak linked to a Georgia peanut company killed nine people. Michael Taylor, former FDA deputy commissioner for foods who oversaw the food safety rules, says it wouldn’t be popular with consumers to roll them back.

    “Consumers are only getting more focused on safety, health and wellness,” Taylor says.

    Trump himself is a self-professed germaphobe who prefers eating at fast-food restaurants because he believes they have higher food safety standards.


    Congressional Republicans have been examining food stamps since the program’s cost grew to almost $80 billion annually after the recession. Participation and costs have dipped since its 2013 high, but conservatives have suggested tightening eligibility standards or increasing work requirements. House Speaker Paul Ryan has for years championed an overhaul to the program.

    Democrats in the Senate have consistently objected to any changes to the program, and will still wield influence. But they won’t have the backing of a Democratic White House.


    Many other laws are either already in place or close to it, including a revised “nutrition facts” panel on the back of food packages, with a new line breaking out added sugars, a labeling law for genetically modified foods and calorie labeling on restaurant and supermarket menus.

    In many cases, the rules are a result of compromise with industry. Kass says that pulling back may just create more cost and uncertainty for businesses.

    “Unwinding things is really hard, especially when most of them have been implemented and industry has moved on,” Kass says.

    He predicts most of the regulations will stay, but that there will be little additional progress. Ongoing administration efforts to reduce sodium in food and antibiotics in meat could be casualties.

    Margo Wootan, a lobbyist on nutrition issues for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says advocates will continue to be aggressive at the state and local levels, hoping change will bubble up.

    “The public is more interested than ever in nutrition and will continue to press companies,” she says.

    The post Will Trump, a fast-food fan, remake healthy school lunches? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence embrace at their election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTX2SVO5

    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence embrace at their election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    NEW YORK — Sequestered in his Manhattan high-rise, Donald Trump was huddling Tuesday with Vice President-elect Mike Pence as he moved closer to filing out his Cabinet, including top national security posts. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has emerged as the favorite to serve as secretary of state, a senior Trump official said.

    Although Giuliani has little foreign policy experience, the official said there was no real competition for the job as the nation’s top diplomat. However, a second official cautioned that John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, remained in contention for the key post. Both officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the process by name.

    Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker also expressed interest in the State Department post and said his team has had “some conversations” with Trump officials. However, the Tennessee Republican told MSNBC there were others who were more “central” to Trump’s presidential campaign for the post.

    Even as Trump narrowed in on top appointments, there were signs of tumult within his transition team. Former Rep. Mike Rogers, a well-respected Republican voice on national security, announced his resignation from the transition team on Tuesday, a move likely to rattle GOP officials who worry about Trump’s lack of foreign policy credentials.

    Trump had already rejiggered his transition team after winning the election, putting Pence in charge and demoting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

    The switch has slowed Trump’s ability to coordinate with the White House. Pence has yet to sign a memorandum of understanding facilitating interactions between transition officials and Obama administration officials, effectively pausing those efforts. Christie had previously signed the document, but it’s no longer valid given Pence’s promotion. And Pentagon officials say they have yet to hear from the transition team.

    Trump spokesman Jason Miller said the president-elect and Pence were meeting Tuesday to review “a number of names” for the incoming administration.

    “If the vice president-elect is getting together with the president elect to discuss names, I would say it’s getting serious,” Miller said.

    Giuliani, 72, would be an out-of-box choice to serve as secretary of State. A former mayor, federal prosecutor and top Trump adviser, Giuliani is known for his hard-line law-and-order views. Bolton has years of U.S. foreign policy experience, but he has also raised eyebrows with some of his hawkish stances, including a 2015 New York Times op-ed in which he advocated bombing Iran to halt the country’s development of nuclear weapons.

    A spokeswoman for Giuliani did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his interest in the job. But during an appearance in Washington late Monday, Giuliani said that Bolton would be a “very good choice” to serve as secretary of state. Asked if there was anyone better, Giuliani replied: “Maybe me, I don’t know.”

    The New York billionaire also was considering tapping Richard Grenell as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, a move that would bring some experience and diversity to his nascent administration. Grenell, who served as U.S. spokesman at the U.N. under President George W. Bush, would be the first openly gay person to fill a Cabinet-level foreign policy post.

    The transition planning comes amid an intense and extended backlash from Trump’s decision on Sunday to appoint Steve Bannon, a man celebrated by the white nationalist movement, to serve as his chief strategist and senior adviser.

    “After winning the presidency but losing the popular vote, President-elect Trump must try to bring Americans together — not continue to fan the flames of division and bigotry,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. Echoing concerns from officials in both parties, she called Bannon’s appointment “an alarming signal” that Trump “remains committed to the hateful and divisive vision that defined his campaign.”

    Until joining Trump’s campaign this summer, Bannon led a website that appealed to the so-called “alt-right” — a movement often associated with efforts on the far right to preserve “white identity,” oppose multiculturalism and defend “Western values.”

    Meanwhile, Trump, who has no foreign policy experience, spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone on Monday.

    His transition office said in a readout that Trump “is very much looking forward to having a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia.” Trump has spoken in recent days with the leaders of China, Mexico, South Korea and Canada.

    Trump is also weighing whether to select Michigan GOP chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, a niece of chief Trump critic and 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney. She would be the second woman ever to lead the Republican National Committee — and the first in four decades.

    “I’ll be interested in whatever Mr. Trump wants,” McDaniel told The Associated Press.

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    U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX21G33

    U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    WASHINGTON — House Democrats have decided to delay their leadership elections and the decision on whether to keep Nancy Pelosi as their leader.

    Elections had been scheduled for Thursday, but now will occur on Nov. 30.

    Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts said the caucus had decided to delay.

    At issue is whether to reinstall Pelosi or opt for a new leader.

    Democrats gained seats in last Tuesday’s election but not as many as initially expected, and Republicans will hold the Senate and the presidency.

    More than two dozen House Democrats wrote Pelosi this week asking her to delay the elections, saying it is “vital that our caucus take the time to listen to the American people and learn the lessons of this difficult election.”

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    Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson listens to a question from a reporter during a campaign stop in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 23, 2016. Photo by Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus/Reuters

    Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson will not be taking a position in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration. Photo by Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus/Reuters

    Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson will not be taking a position in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

    Carson business manager Armstrong Williams tells The Associated Press that Carson has opted out of being considered for any cabinet or other administration positions, including leading the Department of Health & Human Services and the Department of education.

    Carson had never been formerly offered a position in the Trump administration, but Williams says the president-elect had made clear he wanted his former rival-turned-adviser in some role.

    Williams says Carson “always knew that he could be more effective with the president-elect outside the administration.”

    The post Ben Carson will not take position in Trump administration appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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