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

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    Picture of the Alma Mater statue in front of the Low Memorial library on the Columbia University's campus. Photo by Nowhereman86 via Wikimedia Commons

    Picture of the Alma Mater statue in front of the Low Memorial library on the Columbia University’s campus. Photo by Nowhereman86 via Wikimedia Commons

    Columbia University is investigating its wrestling team following the discovery of lewd and racist messages sent between team members.

    “The Department of Athletics has decided that Columbia wrestlers will not compete until we have a full understanding of the facts on which to base the official response to this disturbing matter,” the university wrote in a statement.

    An independent student-run website called Bwog broke the news last week, showing screengrabs of the messages exchanged between members of the wrestling team over the last three years.

    A tipster who had access to the screenshots of conversations came to Bwog because the person “felt that the conversation had become more hateful and detrimental than it was entertaining,” James Fast, a sophomore and publisher of the site, told the NewsHour.

    The conversations, in the app GroupMe for the Class of 2017, showed homophobic, racist and misogynistic comments going back as far as 2014, Bwog reported.

    The wrestlers regularly used the N-word and referred to derogatory words to describe women.

    In a statement, the university wrote it has “zero tolerance” for the contents of messages sent by wrestling team members.

    “They are appalling, at odds with the core values of the University, and violate team guidelines,” the statement read.

    On Monday night, students protested in front of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity, an athletics fraternity whose members include wrestlers, the student newspaper Columbia Spectator reported.

    Students around campus are split on how severe they believe the punishment should be, Fast said. Some think that suspending the season is enough. Last week, a change.org petition garnered about 1,000 signatures calling for the wrestling team to be expelled.

    Columbia cancelled last weekend’s match at the Binghamton University Open. A university spokesperson said Columbia has not made a decision on whether it will allow the team’s season to go forward, but as long as the investigation continues, the team will not compete.

    Both the team and the athletic department have not commented on the matter.

    Columbia is the latest Ivy League school where a men’s team has faced discipline after demeaning classmates in private communication.

    Last month, Harvard cancelled its men’s soccer season after learning of a team “scouting report” that objectified the women’s soccer players in sexually explicit language.

    Harvard is also investigating its men’s cross country team, which made spreadsheets about their female counterparts that contained degrading language.

    READ MORE: After ‘scouting report’ scandal, second Harvard men’s team found rating female athletes’ looks

    The post Columbia sidelines wrestling team over racist, sexist group messages appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Smoke rises from a bomb attack in the town of Bashiqa, after it was recaptured from the Islamic State, east of Mosul, Iraq November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani - RTX2T24W

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: But first: It’s been more than five weeks since Iraqi forces, backed by airstrikes from the U.S.-led coalition, began the campaign to retake Mosul from ISIS.

    The city is the largest in either Iraq or Syria still held by the militants, and the fight to retake it has been vicious.

    Special correspondent Jane Ferguson and videographer Alessandro Pavone have spent the last several days with Iraqi special forces inside the city, and sent us this report.

    JANE FERGUSON: Searching for enemy movement, Maj. Ziad Al Gubere leads his squad of fighters.

    On the radio, reports that several ISIS gunmen are rushing this front-line position. His men are ready. They have pushed this far into Mosul city, and, from a mosque, Iraq’s special forces fight off counterattacks.

    MAJ. ZIAD AL GUBERE, Iraq Military: You see these guys?

    JANE FERGUSON: “A fighter just blew himself up just over there,” he tells us.

    This tangle of wreckage is all that separates his soldiers from the suicide bombers. This is as far as the front line comes here in Mosul in this neighborhood, just this pile of rubble, beyond it, ISIS fighters.

    Taking Mosul from ISIS is the toughest mission these men have ever faced. Brutal street-to-street fighting pushed the militants from this area just days go.

    So, this was a marketplace here in this neighborhood of Mosul. The fighters here tell us that there was a heavy battle with ISIS fighters here. Their bodies are still strewn around the area.

    Iraqi forces are facing an enemy that embraces and celebrates death, and in a nearby house, we are suddenly told more ISIS fighters are approaching. Major Ziad orders his men onto the roof, and the fight begins.

    ISIS fighters are just in the building right next door to us here. And the Iraqi special forces are exchanging fire with them.

    (GUNFIRE)

    JANE FERGUSON: This kind of fighting on the front line is happening every day right now in Mosul now.

    What happened?

    MAN: (through translator): In the neighborhood in front of us, there is a group of ISIS fighters, plus a car bomb. They always try to send car bombs.

    JANE FERGUSON: When the fighting eases, civilians appear from their houses on the street outside. One soldier proudly shows us his loot he’s poached from ISIS: uniforms and memorabilia of the Islamic State.

    Further down the street, Major Ziad sees more ISIS fighters. He calls for a mortar strike. On this tablet, they can pinpoint targets in the city. With so many civilians still in their homes, there is no room for error.

    They then race to the rooftop to get a better view. The front line snakes through the streets around us. ISIS fighters can come from many sides. Two mortars hit buildings nearby.

    Can you tell us, what are the main dangers in this battle?

    MAJ. ZIAD AL GUBERE (through translator): The most dangerous thing ISIS is using is the car bomb. Also they have a new style, using drone-carried bombs. They can control them with the remote. They use a small amount of explosives. They target our cars and groups of us.

    JANE FERGUSON: ISIS had two years to plan its defense, and the group spent that time innovating its tactics and weapons. Thick armor envelops car bombs. Bullets cannot penetrate them, so suicidal drivers tear towards Iraqi fighters, seen here in an ISIS propaganda video.

    In this urban environment, cars can appear from around corners just yards away, so crude barricades have been erected, and civilians banned from driving. If any car approaches, these soldiers shoot. And ISIS is not only deadly above ground. An elaborate network of underground passageways allow their fighters to creep up behind advancing forces and shoot at them.

    Hidden below, they can hide from U.S. coalition airstrikes. During the battle, ISIS fighters wouldn’t just move around through here. They could also live in these tunnels. You can see they have been sleeping all along this one. They even have gas lanterns left and uniforms here.

    Digging machines, like this one captured by Iraqi forces, are what ISIS is using to make the tunnels, giving themselves an advantage in the urban environment. Even after their retreat, ISIS is able to inflict casualties. They rig houses with booby-traps and leave hidden bombs across this city, causing devastating injuries to soldiers and slowing the army’s advance.

    Abdullah Ali’s job in the bomb disposal unit just cost him his eye. A hidden bomb exploded on him last week when he opened the front door of a house.

    ABDULLAH ALI, Iraq Military (through translator): ISIS planted it in the house. I tried to clear the house, so a family could return to it. And then I got hit.

    JANE FERGUSON: Outnumbered and outgunned, ISIS’ bomb-making tactics are a way to compensate.

    ABDULLAH ALI (through translator): Of course, the ISIS’ main plan is to use bombs and car bombs and IEDs. They don’t have military power, so they depend on them.

    JANE FERGUSON: The people living in Mosul are also used by ISIS as cover, around a million are still in the city, on the front line of a war that rages around them.

    And with so many families still sheltering inside their homes, airstrikes risk killing the innocent. While the Iraqi army battled ISIS fighters in these streets, the people here waited and prayed for days for it to be over.

    This family had been hiding inside their house. Like so many families in Mosul, they have found themselves on the front line caught between ISIS and the Iraqi army.

    Food finally arrived with these government handouts, and residents poured into the streets to get help. There is a steady stream of civilians fleeing the city, with nothing but homemade white flags as a flimsy signal that they mean no harm.

    Some are loaded onto trucks bound for refugee camps. Others simply walk, hoping to find help. It’s a treacherous journey. Villages like this outside Mosul have now really just become transit points. Others fleeing from further inside the city move through here to make it to camps.

    There is still fighting ongoing even out here on the outskirts of the city. American involvement in this war is not so visible in Mosul City, but it is hugely significant. Over 5,000 U.S. troops are present in Iraq, training and advising Iraqis.

    U.S. airstrikes, artillery, rockets and special forces are giving crucial support to the army’s advance. In control-and-command centers, American and Iraqi military leaders monitor the battle together.

    U.S. Army Colonel Brett Sylvia is the commanding officer at Camp Swift Base outside Mosul.

    COL. BRETT SYLVIA, U.S. Army: The progress was very fast in being able to get to Mosul, and predictably, it slows down when you hit this dense urban area.

    But, still, every single day, they make forward progress. but regardless of how long it takes, it’s not a question of if Mosul will be liberated, but just a question of when.

    JANE FERGUSON: The American military is giving them as much of a battleground advantage as they can, but Iraqi soldiers will still have to fight their way through the city’s treacherous streets. Men like Major Ziad and his troops have a long and dangerous battle ahead.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Jane Ferguson in Mosul, Iraq.

    The post Outnumbered and outgunned, ISIS uses bombs to fight Iraqi forces appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Protesters face off with police during a protest in Mandan against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, North Dakota, U.S. November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith - RTX2TVBZ

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: The struggle over the Dakota Access oil pipeline intensified this week, with protesters in a number of cities joining the Native tribes who are opposed to the project.

    Meanwhile, the company building the pipeline is pushing back, filing suit in federal court yesterday to get its last permit issued.

    William Brangham continues his reporting on this legal and environmental standoff.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: From New York to Chicago to Los Angeles, protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline have spread nationwide this week. Opponents say the last remaining section of the pipeline would threaten the drinking water and cultural lands of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota.

    MAN: They’re threatening millions of people in the entire region and threaten ultimately the climate of the entire planet.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The 1,200-mile-long pipeline would carry 500,000 gallons of crude oil every day from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois.

    But, since August, hundreds, sometimes thousands of members of various Indian tribes and nations have gathered at a camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, to try to stop construction. They’re drawing support from outside figures as well, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who visited yesterday.

    ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR., President, Waterkeeper Alliance: I think they have a lot of courage. I think they’re standing up for America, that they’re standing up in the face of a bully.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Elsewhere, dozens of people were arrested yesterday near Mandan, North Dakota, for blocking railway tracks near a pipeline work site.

    Meanwhile, a court fight looms. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted construction permits back in July, but, two months later, stopped work and called for further review. And then, on Monday, the Corps announced a further delay.

    Now the pipeline builder, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, is asking a federal judge to give the remaining construction the go-ahead. In a statement Tuesday, the company decried what it called the Obama administration’s “political interference” and “its flagrant disregard for the rule of law.”

    For more on this ongoing fight, I’m joined now by Kelcy Warren. He’s the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the company that owns and is building the Dakota Access pipeline.

    Mr. Warren, thank you very much for being here.

    KELCY WARREN, CEO, Energy Transfer Partners: Thank you.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Let’s talk about the overarching fight that is going on here.

    As you well know, the Standing Rock Tribe has two principal arguments. One, the construction of this pipeline is going to damage ancestral sites of theirs, and, two, if the pipeline is built and it goes under the Missouri River, that it is going to, if it were to leak, potentially contaminate their drinking water.

    And I wonder what your response to those concerns are.

    KELCY WARREN: Yes.

    Well, first of all, I think this is well-known by now. We’re not on any Indian property at all, no Native American property. We’re on private lands. That’s number one.

    Number two, this pipeline is new steel pipe. We’re boring underneath Lake Oahe. It’s going to go 90 feet to 150 feet below the lake’s surface. It’s thick wall pipe, extra thick, by the way, more so than just the normal pipe that we lay.

    Also, on each side of the lake, there’s automated valves that, if in the very, very unlikely situation there were to be a leak, our control room shuts down the pipe, encapsulates that small section that could be in peril.

    So, that’s that’s just not going to happen. Number one, we’re not going to have a leak. I can’t promise that, of course, but that — no one would get on airplanes if they thought they were going to crash.

    And, number two, there is no way there would be any crude contaminate their water supply. They’re 70 miles downstream.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: One of the things that really seems to irk the people out there at the Standing Rock Tribe is that the pipeline was originally scheduled and slotted to go north, just north of Bismarck.

    And after there were concerns about endangering the water supply there, the pipeline was rerouted south next to the Standing Rock Tribe. And their belief is, why were the concerns of Bismarck residents given greater weight than the concerns that we have?

    KELCY WARREN: Well, they certainly were not by Energy Transfer Partners. We’re vulnerable to these routings, too.

    The Army Corps of Engineers weighs in heavily. They asked for input from all concerned. They get that input. And then they suggest to us what deviation in the route should be taken.

    Keep in mind, Energy Transfer, we’re laying a pipeline to have minimal impact to all people concerned, and with great input from our government. So, this route, it wasn’t just something that Energy Transfer said, hey, let’s build it here. This was after great consultation with the Army Corps of Engineers, the offering up for consultation with also the Standing Rock Sioux, which they didn’t choose to do.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You say that it’s very unlikely or very rare that this pipeline might rupture, but some companies’ pipelines seem to spill more than others.

    And your subsidiary Sunoco Logistics has a pretty poor track record when it comes to leaks. According to analysis done by Reuters, Sunoco Logistics spills more crude than any of its competitors, 200 oil leaks in the last six years.

    Doesn’t that safety record indicate that the concerns of the Standing Rock Tribe ought to be listened to?

    KELCY WARREN: I disagree with that statistic about Sunoco Logistics.

    But everybody should be concerned about that. But keep in mind there’s a difference here. This is a body of water. This is a pipe that’s been designed specifically to fit into a bore underneath the riverbed. This is very thick wall pipe. It’s brand-new steel.

    Any reports they’re talking about with Sunoco, Sunoco is a 100-plus-year-old company. And there’s some very, very old pipe in our…

    (CROSSTALK)

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But we have seen ruptures in very recent, newly built pipes.

    Your Permian Express pipeline in Texas was a brand-new pipe. It spilled 8,000 barrels, I believe. Keystone One, again, a very new pipeline, spilled 14 times in its first year. It just seems like the concerns of the Standing Rock Tribe are not based on nothing.

    KELCY WARREN: You know, look, again, like I said, everybody should be concerned about spilling oil on the ground or gasoline or any hydrocarbon or any contaminant, for that matter.

    Energy Transfer is doing the very best we can. We’re complying with all the laws, all the rules, and we’re over-designing. This pipeline is being built to safety standards that far exceed what the government requires us to do. And I just think the likelihood of a spill into Lake Oahe is just extremely remote.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What about the other concern that the tribe brings up, that the construction of this pipeline is damaging sacred sites of theirs, that your bulldozers have already damaged it there?

    They also are very upset with the fact that your company apparently discovered historical artifacts and dragged your feet, according to them, in reporting it to authorities.

    KELCY WARREN: Those are just lies. They’re complete lies.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: No basis in fact?

    KELCY WARREN: No, not at all.

    Let’s go to the real facts. The facts are, we worked with the state of North Dakota, we worked with the federal government to assure us that we were not disturbing any historical sites. We hired archaeologists.

    The state of North Dakota concluded that — the Army Corps of Engineers concluded we have not damaged any historical sites.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Last question for you. President Trump, president-elect Trump is — I know he holds some stock in your company, reportedly, and I know you’re a big supporter of his.

    Do you think, when he becomes president, that he will simply authorize the construction of this pipeline?

    KELCY WARREN: Well, I don’t think — I don’t think a president actually authorizes an easement.

    I think he allows the rules, procedures and laws.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But you think it will happen when he takes over?

    KELCY WARREN: I do, yes.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And what happens to the protesters at that point? I mean, the ones that I have spoken to said that they are not going anywhere and that they’re building shelters for the winter and they’re going to wait this out.

    KELCY WARREN: The people of the state of North Dakota are generally, generally wonderful people, law-abiding, nonviolent people. And they’re trying to go about their lives.

    This has been such a disruption to that state. This is not a peaceful protest. So, if they want to stick around and continue to do what they’re doing, great, but we’re building the pipeline.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, thanks very much for talking with us.

    KELCY WARREN: Thank you, sir.

    The post CEO behind Dakota Access to protesters: ‘We’re building the pipeline’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Trump International Hotel & Tower owned by President-elect Donald Trump is seen in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. November 9, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker - RTX2SX3T

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Donald Trump will be sworn into office on January 20 with more business holdings than any previous president.

    John Yang has more on the questions that are being asked.

    JOHN YANG: The Trump Organization has a variety of assets and arrangements that span the globe. And, as president, Mr. Trump will have the authority to appoint people who will make decisions that affect those businesses.

    Here to discuss the potential for conflict is Robert Weissman, president of nonprofit public interest group Public Citizen, and in New York, Susanne Craig, a New York Times reporter who has writing about this story.

    Welcome to you both.

    Susanne, let me start with you.

    This is a very complicated story. There are a lot of parts to president-elect Trump’s business holdings. But I think the easiest example is the Trump International Hotel here in Washington, D.C. Walk us through the potential for conflicts with that hotel.

    SUSANNE CRAIG, The New York Times: It’s really interesting.

    This is a hotel that just opened, and it’s been — it’s been in progress for a few years, and it’s on the site of the old post office, which is a government property. And Donald Trump has a ground lease for 60 years, the Trump Organization, for 60 years, to run the hotel out of that.

    So there’s an arrangement between the federal government, an agency called the GSA, and the Trump Organization. And the president has the power to appoint the head of the GSA. So it’s just this incredible situation where you have got a private company that will now be — that is owned by soon to be the president that will be negotiating with a government agency where the head of that agency is appointed by the president.

    So just the potential there for conflict, you can just see it coming 100 miles away. And the GSA is already saying they are preparing for it and they’re looking at it. Imagine that situation and multiply it by so many when you look at all the different things that could happen with the various companies that Donald Trump owns and the business interests that he has.

    JOHN YANG: And, also, Susanne, in that hotel are workers who might want to unionize.

    SUSANNE CRAIG: Who might want to unionize.

    And this situation’s actually been playing out in Las Vegas, where he co-owns a hotel in Las Vegas, and that hotel has — the workers there have tried to unionize, and the National Labor Relations Board, which has got presidential appointees on it, has actually — the board has ruled against Donald Trump even in the days before the election, so yet another example playing out in real time already where you have got conflict between the private — the private holdings and now government agencies that will have presidential appointees on them.

    JOHN YANG: Robert Weissman, Hope Hicks, who is the spokesperson for president-elect Trump, says that Mr. Trump will comply with all applicable rules and regulations. What are the rules and regulations in this case?

    ROBERT WEISSMAN, President, Public Citizen: Almost none.

    SUSANNE CRAIG: Yes.

    ROBERT WEISSMAN: There are a lot of rules, ethics rules that apply to government employees, to members of Congress. As regards this set of issues, there’s really not too much that applies to the president, except some issues about taking gifts from foreign governments.

    JOHN YANG: And so there’s no law, there’s nothing that says he has to do anything with his personal assets?

    ROBERT WEISSMAN: There’s no law. There is common sense.

    What we’re looking at is an unprecedented set of conflicts of interests, and common sense says the president has to divest himself of these business holdings to avoid these conflicts, which will be legion, covering everything from worker health and safety issues, worker rights that you were discussing, treatment of government contractors, to consumer protection, how the civil justice system works, bankruptcy law, tax policy, even the — even the conduct of foreign policy.

    It’s a staggering set of potential conflicts of — actually, conflicts that will emerge, unless he divests.

    JOHN YANG: He says he’s going to have his children running the business. And Rudy Giuliani says: “You have to have some confidence in the integrity of the president. I don’t think there’s any real fear or suspicion that he’s seeking to enrich himself by being president.”

    How do you respond?

    ROBERT WEISSMAN: Well, even if the president-elect operates in good faith as president, the conflicts are still present. They are unavoidable.

    SUSANNE CRAIG: Yes.

    ROBERT WEISSMAN: And it makes no difference if he maintains ownership of the Trump Organization businesses and lets his children run the businesses. At the same time, those children are plainly going to be centrally involved in administration and policy-making.

    JOHN YANG: Susanne, we talked about the specific example of that hotel. He’s a real estate businessman. He relies on low interest rates from banks to prosper.

    He says he won’t release his tax returns because they’re being audited. But talk about the nexus of his role as president and those issues as well.

    SUSANNE CRAIG: Well, the thing is, sometimes, it’s — these conflicts and potential conflicts exist, and it’s simply that you don’t know a lot of conversations that are going on, which is why there is a call for him to divest the assets.

    I mean, you can’t — you can’t have your children run them and then not know what the assets are, and especially in the case of real estate. These are fixed assets. He knows the financials of them.

    So, unless there’s a full divestiture, there’s just — there’s no way that these either real conflicts or potential conflicts come up. And the other thing that’s of concern is that he hasn’t released his taxes. We don’t have a full picture of his financial situation and foreign holdings.

    There’s just — there’s so much going on here, and it’s just — sometimes, we’re just never even going to know if stuff happens because we don’t even know, you know, that there is even a conflict.

    I did a story earlier this year, and he had he had released a number of his lenders. And it turns out he’d only released loans in which the Trump Organization, in which there was 100 percent ownership of the property behind it. We found loans on partnerships that weren’t disclosed and so on.

    It’s just — it was sort of mind-boggling when I started to do this, this summer on just the potential for what wasn’t there and what we were finding. And this is a situation where I just don’t think we’re ever going to be sure, unless there is a divestiture, that there isn’t something going on or there is the potential for something to go on. And it’s troubling.

    JOHN YANG: Robert, we have a very brief amount of time left. What can be done? And what do you want to see done in this case?

    ROBERT WEISSMAN: Well, there’s just no way to square the candidate’s promises to deal with corruption in Washington, to end ended insider dealing and his maintaining these business interests.

    So he’s going to have to sell them off, unless he’s going to discredit everything he ran on.

    JOHN YANG: Robert Weissman, Susanne Craig, thanks very much for joining us.

    SUSANNE CRAIG: Thank you.

    The post Many potential conflicts of interest await Trump presidency appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears at a campaign rally in Sioux City, Iowa, U.S. November 6,  2016.   REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTX2S719

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Often, the people a president surrounds himself with says something about his goals as any policy statement.

    President-elect Trump is in the process of deciding who will fill critical national security and diplomatic posts. These decisions will shape the direction of his presidency and the country.

    For more on who’s in the running for these jobs, and the reaction from allies and others overseas, I’m joined now by “NewsHour” chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner.

    There are a lot of important national security jobs, foreign policy positions. What’s the latest?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, the latest is, Hari, that to experienced foreign policy hands, the process looks chaotic.

    You have names being raised — for instance, let’s take secretary of state. You have John Bolton, the former U.N. ambassador, very kind of aggressive, you would call a neoconservative. Then you have Senator Bob Corker, who is considered sort of middle of the road and conservative. And then you have Rudy Giuliani, of course, the former New York mayor.

    A few other names have surfaced, Kelly Ayotte, Nikki Haley, the South Carolina governor. But what troubles those who are really observing this process is there seems to be no rhyme or reason. And what you have got are people who don’t share the same views. Some don’t share the views that Trump enunciated during the campaign.

    Now, the people close to the Trump Organization say, look, we honestly didn’t expect to win. So they didn’t have a big structure set up, as Hillary Clinton did, with somebody like a former national security adviser in charge of this particular part of the transition.

    But I think it is also keeping with the way he ran his campaign, which was kind of free form and competing centers of power. And so then, of course, it’s also, finally, the first time he’s really having a baptism by fire in managing this chaotic — or, I would say, diverse Republican coalition.

    So, you have John McCain lecturing him yesterday about don’t get too close to Putin. You have Senator Rand Paul shooting bullets at both Bolton and Giuliani, saying we don’t need a hothead in these jobs.

    So I think that everybody will settle down once you have got these top jobs filled.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, President Obama overseas trying to reassure the E.U., different countries, that President Trump will honor his commitment to NATO. How do the Europeans see this?

    MARGARET WARNER: One ambassador said to me, very reassuring words, but we want to hear them from president-elect Trump.

    As you said, President Obama will be meeting with Chancellor Merkel tomorrow. They have private meetings before he goes in meetings with other NATO allies.

    What concerns the Europeans deeply are two things that Donald Trump said during the campaign. One was, he questioned the whole relevance of the NATO alliance and in fact some of our alliances overseas, the burden that the United States pays to support them. And he actually suggested that maybe NATO wouldn’t come to the rescue some of country if it hadn’t been — under Article V if it hadn’t been paying its full fair share, which is supposed to be 2 percent of GDP.

    And so Wolfgang Ischinger, who used to be the German ambassador here — and I spoke to Ambassador Ischinger late last night — and he said, these are really dangerous times for Europe. We have got the migrant crisis. We have got Britain leaving the E.U. We have got the rise of all these populist nationalist parties with some ugly aspects to them. And if we start to feel that the United States is not really our reliable partner, ally, and anchor, it’s going to get worse, then dangerous.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And, finally, what about the relationship between president-elect Trump and Putin? How are Europeans concerned about this?

    MARGARET WARNER: That’s a big part of it, Hari.

    There was actually an interesting little conference call yesterday with two former secretaries general of NATO. And I’m surprised they spoke so bluntly. There is concern that — it didn’t go unnoticed that president-elect Trump called Vladimir Putin before he called some NATO leaders, and they are concerned that he will be open to cutting some separate deal with Putin, some sort of trade-off between Syria and the Ukraine, without getting into all the details.

    And they said that would really be very, very dangerous. It would send the message that taking — you know, crossing borders and taking territory by force is OK.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Margaret Warner, thanks so much.

    MARGARET WARNER: Thank you.

    The post What is Trump seeking in top foreign policy posts? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands with Vice President-elect Mike Penceafter their meeting and lunch at the Naval Observatory in Washington, U.S., November 16, 2016.    REUTERS/Gary Cameron - RTX2U0K3

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: From the top of Trump Tower in New York on down, the message today was emphatic: There is no turmoil in the transition.

    News accounts told of more moderate figures being purged, of advisers fighting for power, and of foreign officials unable to reach Trump aides. The president-elect denied it all in a series of tweets. Instead, he wrote, it is going so smoothly, and his spokesman echoed the claim.

    JASON MILLER, Communications Director, Trump Transition Team: Inside, there’s a very solid plan. There’s a methodical approach to all this being put together.

    I have read a number of the news reports that want to make us kind of like — there’s all sorts of descriptions I have heard. It’s very calm, it’s very structured. And anyone saying anything else is either, A, bitter because they’re not on the inside and not being considered, or they’re someone who is just bitter because the election was last week and they didn’t get the result that they wanted.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, in Washington, vice president-elect Pence met with Vice President Biden, who said he’s confident everything will be in good hands on day one of the new administration.

    But House Democrats formally asked that Steve Bannon not be made a senior adviser. They cited allegations of racial bigotry and anti-Semitism, which Bannon denies.

    President Obama also offered reassurance about the political transition on his farewell tour of Europe. Mr. Obama visited the ancient Acropolis in Athens, Greece, the cradle of democracy. And in a speech, he again promised a peaceful handover of power.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: As you may have noticed, the next American president and I could not be more different.

    (LAUGHTER)

    (APPLAUSE)

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We have very different points of view, but American democracy is bigger than any one person.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: From Greece, the president flew on to Germany.

    The president of Turkey today criticized anti-Trump protesters in the U.S. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his message is show some respect and wait to see how he actually governs.

    And in a TV interview, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad praised Mr. Trump’s campaign comments on fighting Islamic State forces in Syria.

    PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD, Syria (through translator): If — I say if — if he is going to fight the terrorists, of course, we’re going to be ally, natural ally in that regard, with the Russians, with Iranians, with many other countries.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The president-elect has said he would prioritize fighting ISIS over regime change in Syria.

    In Russia, the Supreme Court has overturned a criminal conviction against opposition leader Alexei Navalny. He was convicted for embezzlement in 2013, but, in February, the European Court of Human Rights ruled his right to a fair trial had been violated. Navalny will now get a new trial, but that could still hinder him from running for office again.

    Back in this country, a Minnesota policeman was charged today with second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Philando Castile during a traffic stop last summer. Officer Jeronimo Yanez has said he opened fire after Castile said he was armed and appeared to be reaching for something. The aftermath was streamed live by his girlfriend and triggered protests.

    A prosecutor said today the shooting was totally unjustified.

    JOHN CHOI, Ramsey County Attorney: To those who may say that this incident was Philando Castile’s fault, I would submit that no reasonable officer, knowing, seeing and hearing what Officer Yanez did at the time, would’ve used deadly force under these circumstances.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Yanez could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison if he’s convicted.

    Republicans and Democrats in the Senate picked their leaders today. Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell was reelected to serve as majority leader. New York Democrat Chuck Schumer will take over as minority leader, replacing the retiring Harry Reid. Both men talked of looking past the election and cooperating where they can.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, Majority Leader: we’re going to address the real concerns of the American people, not go back and relitigate what anybody on either side may have said during a very hotly contested presidential race.

    SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.): Where we can work together, we will. But I have also said to the president-elect, on issues where we disagree, you can expect a strong and tough fight.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Democrats’ new leadership team also includes former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

    It’s been another long day for crews trying to douse flames in seven states across the South. Wildfires have burned roughly 128,000 acres in woodland areas, much of that in North Carolina, and fueled by drought conditions. More than 5,000 firefighters are on the job. Officials say heavy smoke from the fires is causing breathing problems in a number of communities.

    On Wall Street, bank shares gave up some post-election gains, and stocks finished mostly lower. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 55 points to close at 18868. The Nasdaq rose almost 19 points, but the S&P 500 slid three.

    And President Obama has named 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. The list includes singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, actor Tom Hanks, basketball great Michael Jordan, and mathematician and computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, among others. They will be recognized in a White House ceremony on Tuesday.

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    Sputnik Planitia, the western lobe of Pluto’s icy “heart,” is a giant basin that probably formed from a powerful impact northwest of its present location. It reoriented to is current position near Pluto’s equator as its basin filled with volatile ices, potentially aided by the upwellings of a subsurface ocean deep within the dwarf planet. Photo by James Tuttle Keane

    Sputnik Planitia, the western lobe of Pluto’s icy “heart,” is a giant basin that probably formed from a powerful impact northwest of its present location. It reoriented to is current position near Pluto’s equator as its basin filled with volatile ices, potentially aided by the upwellings of a subsurface ocean deep within the dwarf planet. Photo by James Tuttle Keane

    Astronomers have just found the best evidence yet of an entire ocean in an exceedingly unlikely place—the dwarf planet Pluto, in the dark hinterlands of the solar system. There, nitrogen and other “volatile” gases freeze solid in the cryogenic conditions, and water turns to rock-hard ice. For decades scientists have theorized how that ice might act as an insulator, preserving vestiges of warmth and moisture deep within Pluto and other objects so far from the Sun. But there was not enough data to confirm such wild speculations.

    All that changed when NASA’s New Horizons mission flew by Pluto last year. Amid the dwarf planet’s many wonders, the brightest and most striking feature the probe saw was a 1,600-kilometer-wide heart-shaped plain sprawled across the distant world’s surface. The heart is dubbed “Tombaugh Regio” after the world’s discoverer, American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh.

    Fissures and fractures around Tombaugh Regio and other parts of the planet suggested a subsurface layer of watery slush might be slowly solidifying, breaking up the surface as it expands like ice cubes in a freezer—but other, drier possibilities could also explain such cracks. Now, however, two studies published Wednesday in Nature are strengthening the case that Pluto’s icy heart contains a warmer, wetter inner world.

    Nimmo’s models suggest Pluto’s ocean is about 100 kilometers deep and billions of years old

    “If we’re right, oceans in the outer solar system are common, and other objects of similar size to Pluto there probably also have subsurface oceans,” says Francis Nimmo, a lead author of one of the studies and planetary scientist at the University of California in Santa Cruz.

    The new evidence for Pluto’s ocean comes from the 1,000-kilometer wide western lobe of Tombaugh Regio, a region informally called “Sputnik Planitia.” Sputnik Planitia is an oddity compared to the rest of Pluto’s craggy, crater-pocked, multibillion-year-old surface, covered in bright ice that is relatively fresh and crater-free. Scientists have explained Sputnik Planitia’s youthful appearance by positing that it is an ancient impact basin—a giant crater filled with thick floes of younger ice that, driven by heat seeping up from below, churn and refresh the surface.

    The oddest thing of all about Sputnik Planitia, though, is its location: along the equator in curious alignment with Pluto’s largest moon, Charon. Charon is tidally locked with Pluto, its orbit synced with Pluto’s spin so that it seems to hang motionless over the same region of Pluto’s surface directly opposite Sputnik Planitia.

    Four images from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were combined with color data from the Ralph instrument to create this sharper global view of Pluto. Photo by NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.

    Models suggest Pluto’s ocean is about 100 kilometers deep and billions of years old. Photo by NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.

    “If you drew a line from the center of Charon through the center of Pluto, and through the far side of Pluto, it would come out very near Sputnik Planitia,” says James Tuttle Keane, a doctoral student at the University of Arizona in Tucson and lead author of the other Nature study.

    The chance of a giant impact producing a crater so precisely aligned with Charon are vanishingly slim, Keane says, so he and his team (as well as Nimmo’s) went searching for another explanation. They used data from New Horizons and ground-based telescopes to create models of how Sputnik Planitia’s formation could influence Pluto’s interior and orbital evolution.

    Both teams found that the strange alignment with Charon could be best explained if Sputnik Planitia is much more massive than surrounding regions on Pluto. Over millions of years, this “positive mass anomaly” caused the entire planet to tilt askew into its present alignment with Charon, similar to how a Frisbee with coins taped to one edge will tumble over instead of smoothly spinning. Modeling this process, Keane’s team found that if Sputnik Planitia had been formed to the northwest of its present position, the stresses from its reorientation toward the equator would create networks of faults, canyons and mountains that closely match those observed by New Horizons.

    According to Nimmo’s team, a subsurface ocean is the most plausible reason for Sputnik Planitia to be heavier than its surroundings. The region’s birth in a giant impact must have excavated so much ice from Pluto’s surface that watery slush welled up from deeper within, plumping up to form a heavy, planetary-scale bruise beneath the thinner crust. As surface ice accumulated atop this bruise, Sputnik Planitia grew heavy enough to reorient Pluto’s spin.

    Nimmo’s models suggest Pluto’s ocean is about 100 kilometers deep and billions of years old, kept liquid by large amounts of ammonia, a natural antifreeze prevalent in icy bodies of the outer solar system. While Pluto’s putative ocean could in principle support life, it is probably locked beneath perhaps 200 kilometers of ice and very far from Earth, making it a far less appealing target for astrobiological studies than other, closer subsurface oceans in the solar system, such as those that exist within the icy moons of Jupiter’s Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus.

    David Stevenson, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena who was not involved with either team, calls both studies “interesting and plausible” boosters to the decades-old idea that Pluto has an ocean.

    While the case for Pluto’s ocean is increasingly airtight, Keane and his colleagues are less sanguine about the possibility that it still lingers in the dwarf planet’s depths—their models suggest the world’s surface fissures are also consistent with a subsurface body of water that froze completely long ago. In this case, much of Sputnik Planitia’s heaviness and its tweaks to Pluto’s spin could alternatively be explained just by the gradual accumulation of surface ice within the giant crater. This process would play out during Pluto’s centuries-long seasons stretched across billions of years, as summertime plumes of gaseous nitrogen freeze out as snow to become trapped as wintertime ice in Sputnik Planitia’s giant basin.

    “We remain a bit agnostic,” Keane says. “We’re not certain if there is enough data to really tell the difference [between scenarios.]”

    Even if Pluto’s ocean is really now just ice, Keane says, these new studies of Sputnik Planitia reveal a powerful and unique feedback between Pluto’s climate and orbital evolution that could also operate on other icy worlds in the outer solar system.

    “This idea of a whole planet being dragged around by the cycling of volatiles is not something many people had really thought about before,” Keane says. “The movement of volatile ices across [Pluto’s] surface is continually resurfacing the planet and controlling its orientation—past, present and future. Pluto may still be moving and wobbling around today due to the transport of volatiles, and this same process may be responsible for continuing geological activity on other worlds.”

    This article is reproduced with permission from Scientific American. It was first published on Nov. 16, 2016. Find the original story here.

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    Tens of millions of adults are chronically lonely, which has deleterious impacts on aging. Photo by brunella fratini/via Adobe

    Tens of millions of adults are chronically lonely, which has deleterious impacts on aging. Photo by brunella fratini/via Adobe

    A new national campaign rolling out on Wednesday aims to raise awareness of a hidden but devastating complication of aging: loneliness.

    Tens of millions of adults are chronically lonely. And a growing body of research has linked that isolation to disability, cognitive decline, and early death.

    The first-of-its kind campaign, organized by the AARP Foundation and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, aims to help seniors assess their social connectedness and suggest practical ways they can forge bonds with other people.

    “This is a public health issue of growing concern,” said Lisa Marsh Ryerson, president of the AARP Foundation.

    Addressing stigma will be a priority. “Who wants to admit that, ‘I’m isolated and I’m lonely?’” said Dallas Jamison, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. “It’s a source of shame and embarrassment.”

    Her organization represents 622 agencies across the country that provide meals, transportation, in-home help, and other support to seniors. They’ll take the lead in identifying older adults who are isolated and linking them to resources, in part through the federal government’s Eldercare Locator. The campaign will also encourage families to talk about these issues during the holidays.

    READ MORE: Paging Miss Lonelyhearts: Social isolation boosts risk of cardiac disease

    These efforts come as research highlights the physical and emotional toll of isolation in later life.

    A seminal study of more than 1,600 seniors age 60 and older found that lonely people were far more likely have difficulties with walking, bathing, dressing, and climbing stairs than those who were not. They were also 45 percent more likely to die during the six years that researchers tracked them, from 2002 to 2008.

    Still another line of research suggests that loneliness and isolation doubles the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

    Some 43 percent of seniors interviewed for that study said they were lonely — a subjective feeling of not being meaningfully connected to other people. Based on a separate analysis, AARP estimates that 42.6 million adults age 45 and older are chronically lonely.

    That feeling of isolation sounds an “I’m not safe; all is not well” alarm in seniors, raising blood pressure, sparking inflammation, inspiring stress, and interfering with the immune system’s response.

    “If you’re lonely, you feel there aren’t adequate people around to support you and that means you have to surveil your environment continuously for every kind of threat,” said Linda Waite, director of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project and a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago.

    “This consumes cognitive, physical, and psychological resources,” Waite said, “and makes it harder for you to do other things that might be beneficial to your health.”

    READ MORE: How old is too old? A debate on toying with the human life span

    Social isolation may mean that you rarely get out of the house and lack a support system of people who will notice when you’re feeling sick, bring over chicken soup, go out and get a decongestant, or take you to the doctor. About one in five seniors reports being isolated, Jamison said.

    Still another line of research suggests that loneliness and isolation doubles the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older adults by inducing changes in the brain that are not yet well understood.

    “Humans evolved to live in social groups, and we’re most comfortable when we feel part of a group — more relaxed, happier, with lower blood pressure and cortisol levels,” Waite said.

    Along with the coming campaign, the AARP Foundation plans an initiative called Connect2Affect that will highlight research on loneliness and innovative attempts to address the issue.

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Nov. 16, 2016. Find the original story here.

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    Colorful eye. Photo by Péter Mács/via Adobe

    How many colors exist in your language’s rainbow? A linguist takes a guess. Photo by Péter Mács/via Adobe

    It is striking that English color words come from many sources. Some of the more exotic ones, like “vermilion” and “chartreuse,” were borrowed from French, and are named after the color of a particular item (a type of mercury and a liquor, respectively). But even our words “black” and “white” didn’t originate as color terms. “Black” comes from a word meaning “burnt,” and “white” comes from a word meaning “shining.”

    Color words vary a lot across the world. Most languages have between two and 11 basic color words. English, for example, has the full set of 11 basic colors: black, white, red, green, yellow, blue, pink, gray, brown, orange and purple. In a 1999 survey by linguists Paul Kay and Luisa Maffi, languages were roughly equally distributed between the basic color categories that they tracked.

    In languages with fewer terms than this – such as the Alaskan language Yup’ik with its five terms – the range of a word expands. For example, for languages without a separate word for “orange,” hues that we’d call “orange” in English might be named by the same color that English speakers would call “red” or “yellow.” We can think of these terms as a system that together cover the visible spectrum, but where individual terms are centered on various parts of that spectrum.

    Illustration of a color system with 20 hues. Illustation by Thenoizz, CC

    Illustration of a color system with 20 hues. Illustation by Thenoizz, CC

    Does that mean that speakers of languages with fewer words for colors see less color? No, just as English speakers can see the difference between the “blue” of the sky and the “blue” of an M&M. Moreover, if language words limited our perception of color, words wouldn’t be able to change; speakers would not be able to add new distinctions.

    My colleague Hannah Haynie and I were interested in how color terms might change over time, and in particular, in how color terms might change as a system. That is, do the words change independently, or does change in one word trigger a change in others? In our research, recently published in the journal PNAS, we used a computer modeling technique more common in biology than linguistics to investigate typical patterns and rates of color term change. Contrary to previous assumptions, what we found suggests that color words aren’t unique in how they evolve in language.

    Questioning common conceptions on colors

    Previous work (such as by anthropological linguists Brent Berlin and Paul Kay) has suggested that the order in which new color terms are added to a language is largely fixed. Speakers begin with two terms – one covering “black” and dark hues, the other covering “white” and light hues. There are plenty of languages with only two color terms, but in all cases, one of the color terms is centered on “black” and the other on “white.”

    When a language has three terms, the third is one is almost always centered on hues that English speakers would call “red.” There are no languages with three color terms where the named colors are centered on black, white and light green, for example. If a language has four color terms, they will be black, white, red and either yellow or green. In the next stage, both yellow and green are present, while the next color terms to be added are blue and brown (in that order). Cognitive scientists and linguists such as Terry Regier have argued that these particular parts of the color spectrum are most noticeable for people.

    Berlin and Kay also hypothesized that language speakers don’t lose color terms. For example, once a language has a distinction between “red-like” hues (such as blood) and “yellow-like” ones (such as bananas), they wouldn’t collapse the distinction and go back to calling them all by the same color name again.

    This would make color words quite different from other areas of language change, where words come and go. For example, words can change their meaning when they are used metaphorically, but over time the metaphoric meaning becomes basic. They can broaden or narrow their meanings; for example, English “starve” used to mean “die” (generally), not “die of hunger,” as it primarily means now. “Starve” has also acquired metaphorical meanings.

    That there’s something unique about the stability of color concepts is an assumption we wanted to investigate. We were also interested in patterns of color naming and where color terms come from. And we wanted to look at the rates of change – that is, if color terms are added, do speakers tend to add lots of them? Or are the additions more independent, with color terms added one at a time?

    Everyone sees them all, but languages divide them into different color terms. Photo by alfexe/via Adobe

    Everyone sees them all, but languages divide them into different color terms. Photo by alfexe/via Adobe

    We tested these ideas using color words in Australian Aboriginal languages. We worked with Australian languages (rather than European or other languages) for several reasons. Color demarcations vary in Indo-European, but the number of colors in each language is pretty similar; the ranges differ but the number of colors don’t vary very much. Russian has two terms that cover the hues that English speakers call “blue,” but Indo-European languages have many terms.

    In contrast, Australian languages are a lot more variable, ranging from systems like Darkinyung’s, with just two terms (mining for “black” and barag for “white”), to languages like Kaytetye, where there are at least eight colors, or Bidyara with six. That variation gave us more points of data. Also, there are simply a lot of languages in Australia: Of the more than 400 spoken at the time of European settlement, we had color data for 189 languages of the Pama-Nyungan family, from the Chirila database of Australian languages.

    In order to answer these questions, we used techniques originally developed in biology. Phylogenetic methods use computers to study the remote past. In brief, we use probability theory, combined with a family tree of languages, to make a model of what the history of the color words might have been.

    First, we construct a tree that shows how languages are related to one another. The contemporary Pama-Nyungan languages are all descended from a single ancestor language. Over 6,000 years, Proto-Pama-Nyungan split into different dialects, and those dialects turned into different languages: about 300 of them at the time of the European settlement of Australia. Linguists usually show those splits on a family tree diagram.

    Family tree of Australian languages with their color terms and reconstructions of color systems for major subgroups. Illustration by Haynie and Bowern (2016): Figure 3, CC BY-ND

    Family tree of Australian languages with their color terms and reconstructions of color systems for major subgroups. Illustration by Haynie and Bowern (2016): Figure 3, CC BY-ND

    Then, we build a model for that tree of how different features (in this case, color terms) are gained or lost, and how quickly those features might change. This is a complicated problem; we estimate likely reconstructions, evaluate that model for how well it fits our hypotheses, tweak the model parameters a bit to produce a different set of results, score that model, and so on. We repeat this many times (millions of times, usually) and then take a random sample of our estimates. This method is due originally to evolutionary biologists Mark Pagel and Andrew Meade.

    Estimates that are very consistent (like reconstructing terms for “black,” “white” and “red”) are highly likely to be good reconstructions. Other forms were consistently reconstructed as absent (for instance, “blue” from many parts of the tree). A third set of forms were more variable, such as “yellow” and “green” in some parts of the tree; in that case, we have some evidence they were present, but it’s unclear.

    Our results supported some of the previous findings, but questioned others. In general, our findings backed up Berlin and Kay’s ideas about the sequential adding of terms, in the order they proposed. For the most part, our color data showed that Australian languages also show the patterns of color term naming that have been proposed elsewhere in the world; if there are three named colors, they will be black, white and red (not, for example, black, white and purple). But we show that it is most likely that Australian languages have lost color terms, as well as gained them. This contradicts 40 years of assumptions of how color terms change – and makes color words look a lot more like other words.

    We also looked at where the color words themselves came from. Some were old in the family, and seemed to go back as color terms. Others relate to the environment (like tyimpa for “black” in Yandruwandha, which is related to a word which means “ashes” in other languages) or to other color words (compare Yolŋu miku for “red,” which also sometimes means simply “colored”). So Australian languages show similar sources of color terms to languages elsewhere in the world: color words change when people draw analogies with items in their environment.

    Our research shows the potential for using language change to study areas of science that have previously been more closely examined by fields such as psychology. Psychologists and psycholinguists have described how constraints from our vision systems lead to particular areas of the color spectrum being named. We show that these constraints apply to color loss as well as gain. Just as it’s a lot easier to see a chameleon when it moves, language change makes it possible to see how words are working.

    The Conversation

    Claire Bowern is associate professor of linguistics at Yale University. She receives funding from the National Science Foundation and the Australian Research Council. She is Vice-President of the Endangered Language Fund. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article

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    Hillary Clinton speaks to the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, D.C.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

    Hillary Clinton speaks to the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, D.C. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

    WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton is acknowledging the difficulty of her loss in the presidential race for her supporters and urging them to persevere through the Donald Trump era.

    In remarks that were equal parts pep talk and funeral dirge, Clinton encouraged her backers to “never, ever give up.”

    “I know this isn’t easy. I know that over the past week a lot of people have asked themselves whether America is the country we thought it was,” Clinton said Wednesday night at the annual gala of the Children’s Defense Fund, the child advocacy organization where she started her legal career. “But please listen to me when I say this: America is worth it.”

    She added: “It’s up to each and every one of us to keep working to make America better and stronger and fairer.”

    “It’s up to each and every one of us to keep working to make America better and stronger and fairer.”

    Clinton never cited the president-elect by name in her remarks, making only an oblique reference to the controversial policies that fueled his rise to the White House.

    Instead, she focused on the future, asking her backers to “stay engaged on every level.”

    “We need you. America needs your energy,” she said.

    Clinton’s surprising loss threw her party into a period of intense soul-searching, with an ascendant liberal wing blaming Clinton’s campaign for failing to embrace a more populist economic message. In private calls with donors and Democratic officials, Clinton has largely attributed her defeat to the decision by the FBI to re-examine her use of a private server as secretary of state.

    In her remarks, Clinton offered no accounting for any failures she may have made during her presidential campaign, though she admitted that the past week hasn’t been easy.

    “There have been a few times this past week when all I wanted to do was just to curl up with a good book or our dogs and never leave the house again,” she ruefully admitted.

    “There have been a few times this past week when all I wanted to do was just to curl up with a good book or our dogs and never leave the house again.”

    She chose friendly ground to make her first public appearance since her emotional concession speech in New York City last Wednesday. Her first job out of law school in the 1970s was for Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman. She later became a staff attorney and chairman of the group’s board.

    Throughout her campaign, she cited her work for the group as her “north star,” sparking her interest in standing up against injustice toward children and families.

    The group, which helps disadvantaged children, tried to return some of the affection on Wednesday night.

    “We love her and we appreciate all the hard work she has done and say it’s not going to be for naught,” said Edelman, in her introductory remarks. “We’re going to say that she is the people’s president.”

    Still, in a sign of Clinton’s new life as a private citizen, the event lacked many of the trappings of her presidential campaign. Security was light and she traveled with only a handful of aides.

    Sprinkled throughout the small theater where she addressed donors and supporters were a handful of empty seats.

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    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at election night rally in Manhattan, New York. REUTERS/Mike Segar

    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at election night rally in Manhattan, New York. REUTERS/Mike Segar

    WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump pledged in his campaign to throw out what he called stifling regulations, including the stricter financial rules that Congress built to prevent another crisis.

    Now, as his transition team asserts itself, an all-out repeal of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law — Trump called it a “disaster” and a “disgrace” — seems unlikely. But experts foresee a gradual but potentially significant chipping away of key parts of the law.

    The transition team’s stated goal is a stark one: “To dismantle the Dodd-Frank Act and replace it with new policies to encourage economic growth and job creation.”

    “I don’t think it eviscerates Dodd-Frank, but I think it takes away some parts,” James Cox, a Duke University expert on securities law, said of the Trump team’s approach.

    The transition team’s stated goal is a stark one: “To dismantle the Dodd-Frank Act and replace it with new policies to encourage economic growth and job creation.”

    Republicans have long attacked Dodd-Frank and a central component, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB vastly expanded regulators’ ability to police consumer products — from mortgages to credit cards to student loans. Critics say Dodd-Frank and the CFPB went too far to hinder banks from making loans that people and businesses need to spend and hire.

    Yet many experts say a relaxing of Dodd-Frank’s rules — the most sweeping such changes since the Depression — could raise the likelihood of another crisis fed by high risk-taking. Dodd-Frank limits many of the high-risk practices that ignited the 2008 financial crisis and led to a recession that wiped out $11 trillion in household wealth. Taxpayers were stuck bailing out Wall Street giants and other financial firms.

    Beyond the CFPB, other elements of Dodd-Frank that could be vulnerable to a Trump-driven attack are:

  • The Financial Stability Oversight Council. The council, made up of top regulators, monitors the banking system for any risks that could trigger another crisis. It can label a company as so big and entwined with the financial system that its fall could imperil the economy. That label then puts the company under tighter oversight. Critics say the council, which makes decisions behind closed doors, wields excessive power.
  • Rules that critics say especially hurt regional and community banks that had little to do with the financial crisis. Their cost of complying with the new rules is so high, critics charge, as to impede their ability to lend and help fuel economic growth.
  • The Volcker Rule, which in most cases bars the biggest banks from trading for their own profit. The idea was to prevent high-risk trading bets that could implode at taxpayer expense. Many banks argue that the Volcker Rule stifles legitimate trading on behalf of customers and the banks’ ability to limit risks.
  • If opponents manage to weaken those parts of Dodd-Frank, they could leave the law with much of its core intact yet without crucial elements. Among the elements left in place could be these:

  • Stricter requirements for how much capital large banks must hold to protect against potential losses and for what proportion of their holdings must be high quality.
  • Expanded oversight and greater transparency involving derivatives, the risky financial tools that helped ignite the 2008 crisis.
  • Scrutiny of hedge funds, which had previously faced scant oversight and now must reveal information about investments and business partners.
  • Restrictions on the mortgage system to discourage risky lending.
  • The right of shareholders to provide a nonbinding vote on executive pay packages.
  • Among the provisions Cox thinks may be eliminated is one that empowers the Securities and Exchange Commission to impose a stricter standard for brokers when they provide investment advice. Like investment advisers, brokers would have to put their clients’ interests first.

    All that said, no one is sure what critics will manage to achieve. Though Republicans control the House, they’ll have only 52 seats in the 100-member Senate, well short of the 60 needed to defeat filibusters and advance most legislation. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the liberal Democrat and fiery critic of Wall Street, will likely lead the resistance through filibusters.

    Warren was the architect of the CFPB, and President Barack Obama tried to install her as its first director but was blocked by her Republican opponents.

    For all the attacks on Dodd-Frank, most Wall Street banks already have baked in many of its rules and aren’t clamoring to unwind them. They have, for example, built up capital buffers against major potential losses and are on track to meet regulators’ requirements ahead of deadlines. And since Trump’s victory, financial stocks have surged, partly in anticipation of an easing of Dodd-Frank rules.

    Still, the CFPB remains a bullseye for critics, and among their targets is the agency’s leadership structure. Opponents want to eliminate a single director in favor of a new five-member commission. That would lessen the power of the director, who’s appointed by the president.

    Whatever happens, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the broader Dodd-Frank law are almost sure to be modified. The details, though, remain far from clear.

    Those critics got a boost last month when a federal appeals court ruled that the CFPB’s structure was unconstitutional because it allowed the president to fire the director only for cause. The court said the president must have authority to dismiss the director at will.

    Opponents also want to put the agency’s funding under Congress’ power rather than coming from the Federal Reserve as it does now.

    Whatever happens, the CFPB and the broader Dodd-Frank law are almost sure to be modified. The details, though, remain far from clear.

    “We’ll see some significant changes to Dodd-Frank,” says Tom Quaadman, a Chamber of Commerce executive. “We’re not necessarily going to see a wholesale repeal.”

    The post Could Trump weaken financial regulation in Dodd-Frank law? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mike Pence speaks at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, in August. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    Mike Pence speaks at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, in August. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    Vice President-elect Mike Pence has a simple message for House Republicans about the incoming administration and next year: “Buckle up.”

    That’s the word from lawmakers who attended Thursday’s closed-door meeting with the Indiana governor.

    Congressman Daniel Webster of Florida said Pence told Republicans the next year won’t be the slow process they’re used to. With an all-Republican government led by Donald Trump, the GOP intends to dismantle much of President Barack Obama’s record, from his health care law to environmental rules to cuts in domestic programs.

    Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina says the message was the administration will be aggressive and will require an all-hands-on-deck approach.

    Pence also asked lawmakers to pray for Trump and his family.

    The post Pence advises House Republicans to ‘buckle up’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on "Worldwide threats to America and our allies" in Capitol Hill, Washington February 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTX2687T

    Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on “Worldwide threats to America and our allies” in Capitol Hill, Washington February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria – RTX2687T

    WASHINGTON — The director of national intelligence says he’s formally submitted his resignation.

    James Clapper has long said he planned to retire at the end of the Obama administration, and he told the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday that he submitted his letter of resignation on Wednesday evening.

    Committee members jokingly asked him to stay on for perhaps four more years. Clapper says his wife probably would have a problem with that.

    Clapper has held the job since August 2010. Before that, he was a lieutenant general in the Air Force and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

    The post National director of intelligence submits his resignation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany.     REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

    BERLIN — Offering some pointed foreign policy advice to his successor, President Barack Obama expressed hope Thursday that President-elect Donald Trump would stand up to Russia when it deviates from U.S. “values and international norms.”

    Obama, in a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during his final presidential visit to Germany, said that while he does not expect Trump to “follow exactly our blueprint or our approach” he is hopeful that Trump will pursue constructive policies that defend democratic values and the rule of law.

    He said Trump shouldn’t “simply take a real-politik approach and suggest that if we just cut some deals with Russia, even if it hurts people or even if it violates international norms or even if it leaves smaller countries vulnerable or creates long-term problems in regions like Syria, that we just do whatever’s convenient at the time.”

    Obama began his presidency with a goal to “reset” ties with Russia, but they eventually plunged to the lowest point since the Cold War over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

    Trump has spoken favorably of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But he has outlined few specifics as to how he would go about recalibrating ties with the counry.

    Merkel, for her part, said she was approaching the incoming Trump administration with “an open mind” and was encouraged that the presidential process in the U.S. was “working smoothly” so far.

    In Germany, officials hope the change in presidents will not bring about a significant shift in relations between the two nations or the NATO alliance.

    Merkel worked well with President George W. Bush before Obama’s election. She talked with Trump by phone after his election, offering him Germany’s “close cooperation,” but emphasizing it would be on the basis of what she said were shared values of “democracy, freedom, respect for the law and for the dignity of human beings, independently of origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political views.”

    A joint opinion piece by Obama and Merkel published Thursday in Germany’s weekly business magazine WirtschaftsWoche seemed directed as much at the incoming Trump administration in the U.S. as at European nations. In it, the two leaders stressed that the “underlying bedrock of our shared values is strong” even if the pursuit of common goals is sometimes gone about differently.

    Obama and Merkel noted that European Union-U.S. trade was the largest between any two partners worldwide, and emphasized that the trans-Atlantic friendship has helped forge a climate accord, provide help for refugees worldwide, form a collective defense under NATO, and strengthen the global fight against the Islamic State extremist group.

    Trump, in contrast, has called climate change a “hoax” and said the climate accord should be renegotiated. He promised to tighten rules for accepting refugees, complained the U.S. was paying more than its share to support NATO and has sharply criticized the U.S. strategy for fighting IS.

    Merkel and Obama have enjoyed a close relationship over the years, and Obama seems to be counting on the German leader’s strength to help counter the isolationist tone voiced by Trump during the election campaign.

    The mood for Obama’s latest visit was significantly tamped down compared with his first visit to the German capital in 2008, when some 200,000 exuberant fans packed the road between the landmark Brandenburg Gate and Victory Column to hear the then-candidate, in a speech that solidified his place on the world stage.

    Obama told Berliners then that progress requires sacrifice and shared burdens among allies.

    “That is why America cannot turn inward,” Obama told the cheering crowd. “That is why Europe cannot turn inward.”

    Eight years later, his words seem to have foreshadowed the nationalist, isolationist forces gaining traction in some parts of Europe and punctuated by Trump’s victory in the U.S. election.

    In Berlin, Obama will also meet Friday with the leaders of France, Italy, Spain and Britain. Obama’s last stop on his final foreign tour will be Peru over the weekend.

    The post Obama challenges Trump to stand up to Russia appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of doctor's office by Jim Young/Reuters

    File photo of doctor’s office by Jim Young/Reuters

    Steven Lopez has gone without health insurance for 15 years, and the Affordable Care Act hasn’t changed his mind. Once again this year he will forgo coverage, he said, even though it means another tax penalty.

    Last tax season, the 51-year-old information technology professional and his family paid a mandatory penalty of nearly $1,000, he said. That’s because they found it preferable to the $400 to $500 monthly cost of an Obamacare health plan.

    “I’m paying $6,000 to have the privilege of then paying another $5,000 [in deductibles],” said Lopez, who lives in Downey, a suburb of Los Angeles. “It’s baloney — not worth it.”

    “I’m paying $6,000 to have the privilege of then paying another $5,000 [in deductibles]. It’s baloney — not worth it.”

    While millions of people have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 28 million Americans remain uninsured. And preliminary data shows that about 5.6 million paid a tax penalty rather than buy health insurance in 2015, according to The New York Times.

    In California alone, 3.8 million people under 65 remain without health insurance.

    Now, amid the uncertain future of Obamacare in a Trump administration, some resisters like Lopez are feeling vindicated and other consumers simply don’t see the need to sign up. Still others, according to Affordable Care Act advocates, are eager to take advantage of what will likely be at least one more year of subsidized coverage.

    Doreena Wong, a project director at the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said consumers have already begun to express doubts on whether they should bother enrolling. That is despite redoubled efforts in recent days by the state and federal exchanges to encourage signups.

    “I do think the election result will impact our ability to enroll as many people as we’d like to,” she said. “Some people may ask: If it’s going to be dismantled, why sign up?”

    “I do think the election result will impact our ability to enroll as many people as we’d like to. Some people may ask: If it’s going to be dismantled, why sign up?”

    Weiyu Zhang, a health educator and enrollment counselor with Asian Americans Advancing Justice, has enrolled 10 people since the election.

    “Every single one has brought up the election and has expressed concern about signing up,” Zhang said. People are asking whether subsidies might go away and whether premiums will rise or fall, Zhang said.

    “Based on my knowledge, there’s only so much I can tell them,” Zhang said. “What we know is that changes will not happen immediately, and if they want coverage in 2017, they should sign up.”

    Getting rid of the ACA in its entirety on day one of the Trump administration is practically impossible, said Erin Trish, an assistant research professor in public policy at the University of Southern California. Although Republicans to date have offered no official replacement plan, what’s expected is a different approach with a less regulated health insurance market, Trish said.

    Even before the election, health policy experts believed the 2017 enrollment period, which ends Jan. 31, would be key to determining the future of Obamacare.

    “Would people enroll? Would premiums stabilize after this year and increase at a normal pace? What would the risk pool look like?” were questions experts were already asking, Trish said. “But this election has definitely thrown things for a loop.”

    She said the election’s effect on this year’s open enrollment period could go either way. Rather than opting out, many people might consider it important to get covered in case ACA replacement options hinge on whether people had coverage in place, Trish said.

    The election’s effect on this year’s open enrollment period could go either way. Rather than opting out, many people might consider it important to get covered in case ACA replacement options hinge on whether people had coverage in place.

    According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 100,000 people signed up for coverage the day after the election.

    “Maybe people see this as one last opportunity, or perhaps they want to show their support for the ACA,” Trish said. “Who knows?”

    Lopez said repeal is fine with him. Being penalized for not being insured is absurd, he said.

    “We should not be forced to buy health insurance. The government should not be in the business of forcing us to buy anything,” he said.

    Yet, even as a critic, Lopez does see some positive in the health law. He believes getting rid of the preexisting condition exclusion, for example, was a good thing.

    So what happens if Lopez becomes ill? He must pay out of pocket.

    Last year, he needed a colonoscopy. The best price he found was at a community clinic, where the procedure would cost him $2,000.

    Not satisfied with the price, he traveled south to Tijuana. There, $2,000 covered a lot more: the colonoscopy, an electrocardiogram and hemorrhoid surgery, which he had been putting off because of cost.

    If necessary, he’d do it again, he said.

    For most Americans, cost continues to be the top barrier to health coverage. In 2015, 46 percent of uninsured adults of varying ages, ethnicities and income levels said they didn’t have coverage because it was too expensive, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.)

    Kathy Eller, 56, a janitor from Paducah, Ky., hasn’t had insurance for more than a decade, and she plans to opt out this year as well, she said. Sometimes she worries about her health, but not enough to pay a $250 monthly premium, which is what the most affordable Obamacare plan would cost her, she said.

    “I smoke way too much and I’m overweight,” Eller said. “I go to the doctor once every six months for my high blood pressure medication and only pay $50 for it.”

    Before she lost her employer-based coverage 10 years ago, Eller underwent several surgeries for a skin infection caused by a bacteria known as MRSA.

    If she were to get severely ill again, she wouldn’t be able to pay for it, and she doesn’t think she’d seek treatment.

    “The way I see it, I’m 56, and my family doesn’t live very long — into their 60s, maybe 70s,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to put that financial burden on my husband, he doesn’t need that.”

    Last tax season, Eller was fined close to $800 for not having health insurance. Eller said she is indifferent to the possible repeal of Obamacare. “It hasn’t helped me much, but I know it’s helped a lot of people,” she said.

    Shannon Drees, 26, a student from Orlando, Fla., hopes possible reversal of the Affordable Care Act could lower premiums for young, healthy people. She has not had health insurance since she was 21, when she was dropped from her parents’ plan before the ACA provision allowing young adults to stay on those plans until age 26 took effect.

    “I don’t have outstanding health issues, it’s much cheaper to pay a penalty,” she said.

    Last tax season, she was fined $500. That’s still less expensive than the estimated yearly cost in premiums for plans she looked into, she said.

    Many of her friends, about the same age, are in the same boat. Unless they are covered by an employer, they are not insured, she said. She said she does not visit the doctor much and uses Planned Parenthood for birth control.

    “For me, it’s about the math,” Drees said of getting health insurance. “Hopefully one day I’ll be able to afford it again.”

    The post Uncertain about Obamacare’s future, millions ask if they should enroll appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Protesters against President-elect Republican Donald Trump ring Lake Merritt's shoreline in Oakland, California, U.S. November 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Noah Berger - RTX2TI55

    Protesters against President-elect Republican Donald Trump ring Lake Merritt’s shoreline in Oakland, California, U.S. November 13, 2016. REUTERS/Noah Berger – RTX2TI55

    It’s been a bad year. It started with the unexpected passing of my uncle, Larry Schreiber — a family doctor who was willing to trade medical care for firewood; a humanitarian who ran a special-needs adoption agency and raised 14 children, 10 of them adopted, one a refugee from war-torn Cambodia. Upon his passing, his hometown paper, The Taos News, remembered him as “the Albert Schweitzer of the Sangre De Cristos.”

    The year now draws to a close with the presidential election of a man who, from my perspective, is unfit for the office and the very antithesis of who my uncle was.

    I am at a loss. I am convinced that my uncle’s America is not Donald Trump’s America. But I really don’t know what Donald Trump’s America is. I have my guesses, shaped by my own biases. But I’ve run out of the smug confidence that I really understand anything all that well.

    I am a law professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, and I co-direct the school’s Program in Law & Public Service — a program committed to helping students pursue public-interest legal careers. Before entering academia, I was a public defender in Bronx County, New York.

    This past week has been the most rewarding of my teaching career. And I did almost no teaching.

    In my world, elites are expected to give answers. But on Wednesday morning, I just couldn’t play the part. I couldn’t lie. I almost called in sick. But I dragged myself to work and started talking with students.

    I was frank with them about my ideology, but I also acknowledged my ignorance. I spoke with a future prosecutor, who had served two tours in Afghanistan. He described the norms and practices of the professional military and allayed some of my concerns about, alternatively, misguided isolationism or international misadventure. I encountered survivors who expressed pain at recognizing as president a man who, at the very least, had boasted of sexual assault. I talked with feminists who worried that it would be another 40 years before a major political party would again nominate a woman for president. I met with students of color who said they were targets — fair game, now more than ever, for racist slights or worse. I spoke with some students who were rethinking private-law careers and other students who were rethinking law school. I listened to conservative students who felt misunderstood, vilified and silenced. And I realized that, to date, I had done little to keep them from feeling that way.

    This past week has been the most rewarding of my teaching career. And I did almost no teaching. I am filled with a profound respect for the wisdom of my students, particularly my first-year students—young men and women who have yet to trade commonsense for analytic forms of legal reasoning.

    Early on Friday morning, I reached out to the students with whom I have grown closest—the fellows in our Program in Law & Public Service. Here, in part, is what I wrote:

    I’m writing to you now not as a professor or as co-director of the LPS Program, but as a friend and a colleague. I’m not sure that anything I say will make much sense. I’m having trouble making sense of the world around me right now. And I’m very tired but incapable of sleep. I whipsaw between an almost calm kind of resignation and a frenzied fear and despair. I recognize that my fears may be unfounded. But I recognize also how little I know about my country, the world, and its people—those near me and far from me. Frankly, I just don’t feel much like I understand anything at all. So, I remain paralyzed—caught between an instinct to fight back, an instinct to flee into my own private life, and an instinct to give the benefit of the doubt to people I know are decent—people I desperately want to understand. I think the shortcoming is mine. I have spent too much time in my bubble and have failed to do enough to see what and who is around me.

    During the campaign, I was deeply offended by Trump’s description of the inner cities. When I worked in the Bronx, I saw a desperately poor place with desperate problems. But I also saw families and community, laughter and decency. My wife and I spend time in the mountains of West Virginia. When we go there, I see many of the same things: desperate poverty, desperate problems—but also families and communities, laughter and decency.

    Right now, I guess I just want to try to make sense of things. I want to figure out where we are and where we are going. If I’m wrong to be afraid, I want to figure out why I’m so afraid and why I’m so wrong. If I’m right to be afraid, I want to figure out the path forward. Ideally, the job of an academic is to make sense of the world around her—to look more closely at things than the day-to-day hustle-and-bustle would typically allow. But in looking so closely at some things, I feel like I’ve ignored much else. And the truth is that I just don’t see the use in research and scholarship right now. It all seems so silly. It doesn’t feel like real knowledge and understanding. I don’t even know if I want to do it anymore. But, again, I feel like I just don’t know much of anything right at this moment. I feel dislocated.

    And, so, this is why I’m emailing you. Over the past two days, some of the richest conversations I’ve had have been with students—students who are scared and students who are sanguine. I’ve learned a lot from both groups. I’ve been struck by just how wise and mature you all are—how thoughtful and deep. It makes me feel sheepish to stand in front of a class and teach—because, when it comes to the realest things, I know no more than any of you and a lot less than many of you. Please, then, keep talking to me. Feel free to come to my office. Let me know how you are feeling, and I will do the same. But, please know, I don’t have any answers. I don’t know what a Trump administration means to the world. I don’t even know what it means to the public-interest job-market (though I do know that this is understandably a matter of deep concern for all of you). Again, I very much hope my own fears are unfair and unfounded. And I refuse to presume with any certainty that they are or aren’t.

    My apologies if this email is inappropriately political. I mean it to be personal. I am coming to you as a friend, not a teacher or mentor. After all, how can I be a teacher or mentor when I feel like I understand so very little? I am pleading for wisdom, not doling it out from on high. Please talk to me. And please talk to each other—within and beyond your communities.

    Use your careers to bridge gaps. But never cower in the face of injustice. I have no definitive answers about where the injustice is or from where it will come. I would like to learn. Thank you for teaching me so much, so far. Let’s continue to learn from each other.

    One of my uncle’s favorite musicians was, ironically, Leonard Cohen — an artist whose own death this week seemed timed for maximum poignancy. Cohen was a masterful wordsmith, and I have been listening all weekend for some lyric that might capture my feelings about my uncle — and about the election of Donald Trump.

    Instead, I keep circling back to a quote inscribed on remembrance cards at my uncle’s memorial. Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, wrote: “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life.”

    I know what my uncle thought of our next president. (A cousin at my uncle’s bedside even drew a smile with the quip: “You’re doing all of this because of Trump?”)

    But I also know that my uncle would have happily — joyfully — served and valued even Trump’s most die-hard supporter. He would have listened to her and respected her viewpoint. And he would have asked to be heard in response.

    The post Column: The election made me feel I know nothing about my country. So now I’m listening appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The so-called EB-5 visa permits foreign nationals to invest in job-creating programs in the U.S. in exchange for permanent residency. But it’s been scandal-plagued, leading to calls for reform.

    As Congress gets set to tackle some final business before the end of this year, will the program finally get fixed?

    Our economics Paul Solman takes a look. It’s part of his weekly series, Making Sense.

    NOREEN IQBAL: See, in Dubai the thing is, as long as you work in Dubai, you can live in Dubai. But what if you leave the job? We have to go back to Pakistan, which we don’t want to.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Noreen and Shehryar Iqbal thought they had a surefire way to avoid a return to their native Pakistan.

    NOREEN IQBAL: It’s not a safe country.

    SHEHRYAR IQBAL: It’s got a lot of security challenges.

    PAUL SOLMAN: He’s a flight attendant for Dubai’s national airline. She was, too, until they had kids. Their plan, sock away enough of their salaries to buy their way into America via the EB-5 visa program, which grants green cards, and eventually U.S. citizenship, to foreigners and their immediate families.

    Just invest half-a-million dollars to create at least 10 full-time jobs in either a rural project or an urban area with a high unemployment rate.

    NOREEN IQBAL: We saved even the allowance money. I can say that. It’s so embarrassing for us to tell somebody that allowance money is for you to eat, but we used to save that also.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Oh, you mean the money that the airline would give you.

    NOREEN IQBAL: The airline give you on your flight to have your food and everything, we would save that also.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And put it away.

    NOREEN IQBAL: Put it away.

    PAUL SOLMAN: To that, they added Shehryar’s small inheritance — his parents had died in a car crash when he was a teenager — and investments they’d made to grow their nest egg.

    SHEHRYAR IQBAL: She bought a little studio in a nice upscale area. It’s called the Jumeirah Lake Towers. It was generating a very, very good rental income.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Are you — you’re starting to remember it all? That’s what’s going on?

    NOREEN IQBAL: Sorry.

    PAUL SOLMAN: No, no, it’s OK.

    NOREEN IQBAL: So, we rarely talk about this, because I start to…

    PAUL SOLMAN: A lot of tears have been shed over the EB-5 project the Iqbals chose to invest in, one we first covered last year here on Making Sense. The Jay Peak ski resort in Northern Vermont, coupled with plans for a hugely ambitious stem cell manufacturing facility affiliated with a South Korean biotech firm.

    But, in April, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged developers Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger with 52 counts of federal securities violations, alleging they’d misused $200 million of EB-5 investor funds, running the ski resort project as a giant Ponzi scheme, and the stem cell project as a total fraud.

    The Iqbals, who put down their money on stem cells, have lost not just their half-million dollar investment, but another $65,000 in legal and administrative fees, with not a green card in sight.

    We talked to them on their recent visit to the U.S. on tourist visas using their free flight passes.

    Are you now wiped out?

    SHEHRYAR IQBAL: Yes.

    NOREEN IQBAL: All of the money, it was just squandered, you know?

    PAUL SOLMAN: And you lost your entire inheritance.

    SHEHRYAR IQBAL: Yes. And it hurts me, because my mom and dad were very young when they passed away. And it was my job to protect the money that they have left us. And that — it really breaks my heart.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Does it make you think differently about America?

    SHEHRYAR IQBAL: To be honest, unfortunately, yes. We have lived in countries which are not regulated, but we have never been cheated on this scale. We have never been cheated at all, to be honest.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The Iqbals feel that America is really letting them down.

    MICHAEL GIBSON, USAdvisors.org: The United States is. That the government, through its agencies, are not monitoring this activity is really disgraceful.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Michael Gibson is an independent EB-5 investment adviser who says he thoroughly vets projects before recommending them to clients, documenting everything on tape.

    And you go around the country.

    MICHAEL GIBSON: All over the United States.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Recording EB-5 projects.

    MICHAEL GIBSON: Absolutely. Been doing it since 2008.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But only one in 10 projects, he says, agree to let him in.

    MICHAEL GIBSON: The biggest problem is transparency. The agency that’s administering the program offers no disclosure regarding any of the investments.

    So, if you’re an investor and you’re asking questions about how many projects they have developed, how much capital they have raised, what they have done with that capital, how many jobs have been created, none of this information is disclosed.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And it’s not just 700 investors in the Vermont project who’ve literally paid the price. In South Dakota, an EB-5-funded beef packing plant went belly up, taking the funds of some 300 investors with it.

    MICHAEL GIBSON: They assumed that the state was overseeing this investment, and the fact is that they were not.

    SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R-Iowa): There is no set of sanctions for violations, no recourse for bad actors.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Last year, six bills were introduced in Congress to reform the EB-5 program, increasing scrutiny of the so-called regional centers, private firms that sponsor EB-5 developments. None passed. Why?

    MICHAEL GIBSON: There are a few regional centers with very powerful connections in Washington, including their lobbyists. They are concerned any reform would impact their ability to raise capital for cities such as New York and Los Angeles and Miami.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Right, says Angelique Brunner, who owns and operates five regional centers. But, without EB-5, she says, many urban projects, like this retail development in Washington, D.C., would never break ground.

    ANGELIQUE BRUNNER, EB5 Capital: We’re an essential piece of projects like this. We work directly with developers. And we have seen firsthand the challenges that they experience in the capital markets when they’re going to raise capital.

    And it’s an important part of the story to encourage other capital players to come to the table in terms of banking and other equity.

    PAUL SOLMAN: “Oh, really?” says Gibson. Then what about all the EB-5-funded projects rising in Manhattan, amid similar conventionally financed projects, luxury condos in Tribeca, ritzy Midtown hotels and office buildings?

    And then there’s the largest EB-5 project of them all, Hudson Yards on the far West Side. It had no shortage of Americans willing to invest, says Gibson.

    MICHAEL GIBSON: And many would argue that, in fact, they already had capital lined up. They just were pursuing EB-5 capital, as it was lower-cost. It was cheaper financing for them.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And that’s it?

    MICHAEL GIBSON: That’s it.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So, it’s not creating jobs then at all.

    MICHAEL GIBSON: They would have created the jobs anyway. That’s what many would argue. This is simply a way for them to save a point or two on their financing.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Scandals, fishy financing, yet lobbyists have kept Congress from cleaning things up, for the usual reasons, says Gibson.

    MICHAEL GIBSON: The developers are very well-financed, well-heeled. They donate to the political campaigns of many of these politicians. So if the developers can save several million dollars, they are going to encourage their politicians to have them — allow them to use the EB-5 capital for their development. It’s self-interest.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In the case of Jay Peak, which was part of a state-run regional center, the lobbying was done by Alex MacLean, a former assistant to Vermont’s governor.

    ALEX MACLEAN, Former Assistant to Vermont Governor: One of the amazing things about Vermont is that it’s so small, and the access to the politicians is readily available.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: Nobody knows the system better than me.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Now, no American political story would be complete these days without Donald Trump. And, indeed, he figures in this one. Just this month, Trump Bay Street, a 50-story luxury apartment building, opened in Jersey City, New Jersey, built by a company run by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who raised a quarter of the project’s $200 million financing from EB-5 investors in China.

    DONALD TRUMP: Which is why I alone can fix it.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But, locally and federally, the door between government and lobbying keeps revolving.

    And, to Michael Gibson, the stakes of closing it for EB-5 projects are substantial.

    MICHAEL GIBSON: The issue is that it is affecting the credibility of the United States, because granting what is probably the most cherished document in the world, a U.S. passport, and path to eventual citizenship is really in the hands of developers, who at times do scheme and fraud to take advantage of the investors.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The Iqbals, their dreams of immigration to the U.S. dashed, still make their home in Dubai, at least for now. For them, American credibility is shot.

    SHEHRYAR IQBAL: If someone would come and ask me, “I have got half-a-million dollars and I want to move to the U.S.,” I would probably say, don’t do it.

    PAUL SOLMAN: This is economics correspondent Paul Solman reporting for the “PBS NewsHour.”

    The post The visa program leaving hopeful immigrants empty-handed appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A helicopter flies over the Hudson River with One World Trade Center and Lower Manhattan in the background, on a hazy day in New York City, December 6, 2015. REUTERS/Rickey Rogers      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY         - RTX1XGIK

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: More than 200 nations reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate accord today during a U.N. summit in Morocco. The show of support comes amidst worries that U.S. president-elect Donald Trump will pull out of the deal.

    It also comes as dozens of wildfires continue to burn across the Southeast region of this country, more than 30 that are still uncontained in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky. And climate change could be one factor that may contribute to the drought conditions feeding them.

    William Brangham has a closer look at how a Trump administration might change America’s course on climate change.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: We’re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement.

    Department of Environmental Protection, we’re going to get rid of it in almost every form.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Throughout the long campaign, Donald Trump made clear he wants a sharp turnabout in U.S. environmental policy.

    DONALD TRUMP: Oh, coal country, what they have done.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: He repeatedly pledged to undo the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, an aggressive effort to cut carbon emissions from power plants.

    DONALD TRUMP: Energy is under siege by the Obama administration, under absolute siege. The EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, is killing these energy companies.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Since winning the election, the president-elect has tapped climate change skeptic Myron Ebell to head the EPA transition.

    Trump has repeatedly expressed his own skepticism about climate change, like in this 2012 tweet, when he said: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive.”

    Two years later, he wrote: “Global warming is an expensive hoax.”

    Meanwhile, the Paris climate accords officially took effect on November 4. They’re an agreement among dozens of nations all aimed at limiting worldwide warming to just an additional 2 degrees Celsius. That’s a little over 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

    But doubts about what president-elect Trump will do are hanging over this week’s U.N. climate conference in Morocco.

    MAN: We will not be silenced. The United States will shred the document.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It would take four years to withdraw from the Paris accords, but there are no enforcement mechanisms, so the new Trump administration could simply ignore the U.S.’ commitments.

    In Morocco yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry warned against taking that step. He said climate change shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: No one has a right to make decisions that affect billions of people based on solely ideology.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: At the same time, 365 American companies have written to the president-elect imploring him to uphold the Paris accords and warning — quote — “Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk.”

    So, what would environmental policy actually look like under a Trump administration?

    David Roberts covers this for Vox. He is a writer and journalist who has long reported on the need for tackling climate change. He joins me now from Portland.

    David Roberts, let’s start off talking about the man who’s going to help the Trump administration shape energy policy. Who is Myron Ebell and what does he believe?

    DAVID ROBERTS, Vox: Myron Ebell is the director of the Climate Change Program at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is a think tank in Washington, D.C.

    His belief is that climate change is a hoax or possibly no big deal, happening and no big deal, or possibly happening and good for us, depending on which day you ask him, so certain we don’t need any public policy to help counter it.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, in some ways, he seems like an ideological fit as far as what we understand Donald Trump’s policies to believe and positions?

    DAVID ROBERTS: That’s right.

    I think it’s a very clear signal from the Trump camp that he wasn’t kidding in what he said about climate change on the trail.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Let’s talk a little bit about some of the things the Trump administration might do.

    With regards to the Paris accords — this is, for those who are following along, a whole group of nations have binded together to say, we’re going to pledge to cut emissions going forward.

    If the Trump administration wanted to, can they just walk back from those commitments? Can they just walk away from the accords themselves?

    DAVID ROBERTS: Absolutely.

    The whole premise of the Paris agreement is that all the commitments from all the countries involved are voluntary. That was one of the reasons that it was a breakthrough is that making those commitments voluntary sort of opened people, opened countries up and made them a little bit more ambitious.

    But the consequence of them being voluntary is that Trump can absolutely walk away. It will take him several years to formally get the U.S. out of the accord, but nothing is stopping him from just stating that he’s not going to pursue the targets and not going to do anything to attempt to meet our commitments there. And there is no legal mechanism that can stop him.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Same question with regards to domestic policy. What is a Trump administration energy policy, what is that going to look like?

    DAVID ROBERTS: Well, I think the first priority is going to be to dismantle the Obama environmental legacy. That will be the priority.

    So, for instance, the Clean Power Plan, which is aimed at power plants, will be either rolled back or delayed or slow-walked or reversed entirely, depending on what road they take. But I think the initial efforts are all going to be designed to dismantle everything that Obama has done in this area over the last eight years.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It’s hard to know if voters picked Trump because of his energy policy, but I think it’s undeniable that there are a lot of people in the country, especially in states like West Virginia, who think that,when you talk about cutting carbon emissions, you mean that you’re cutting their jobs, that energy costs are going to go up.

    And to a lot of voters, that just doesn’t seem like an exchange they want to make. I mean, that — in some ways, Trump has something of mandate, doesn’t he?

    DAVID ROBERTS: I don’t think so, William.

    A couple of things. One is, not a lot of people know this yet, but renewable energy now employs far more people in the United States than coal does, certainly. There’s more jobs in the solar industry alone than there is in coal anymore. So, in terms of job growth, renewables are a much more fertile source of that than fossil fuels.

    Secondly, if you actually go beneath the general level and poll the public on individual questions like should we do something to restrain carbon emissions, should we tighten regulations on pollution, should we support renewable energy, support for those policies is incredibly high across the board, across demographics, across regions of the country.

    If you’re looking at individual environmental policies, public support is enormous. The problem is that there just aren’t that many members of the public who make those issues their priority.

    So I don’t think that Trump’s win necessarily tells us anything about what the public thinks about energy policy, so much as it tells us that the public just doesn’t think about energy policy very much.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: With regards to those coal jobs, Trump made a repeated pledge that he’s going to bring the coal industry back. Is that in the president’s power to do?

    DAVID ROBERTS: Absolutely not.

    I mean, the main thing that is killing coal right now in the U.S. is cheap natural gas, and that’s market competition. That’s market competition that’s killing coal, and that’s going to be true no matter what Trump does.

    And there’s automation in the coal industry, so coal mining jobs have been declining for 40 years now from their historic highs and will continue to decline as automation increases.

    So, most of the forces that are adverse to coal in the U.S., particularly adverse to coal mining jobs, are outside the president’s control and are definitely going to continue no matter what Trump does.

    The interesting thing is whether those people that he made those promises to remember those promises and hold him accountable.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Let’s say Trump does everything that he promised to do, he treats climate change like a hoax, he walks away from the Paris accords, he dismantles the EPA’s regulations.

    What does the U.S.’ position mean for the global effort to cut carbon emissions? How much of this will impact what the rest of the planet is doing already?

    DAVID ROBERTS: That is indeed the $6 million question, and no one quite knows the answer yet.

    The news is not good. A lot of the Paris agreement and a lot of international cooperation on climate change has been built on U.S. leadership recently. Obama’s leadership helped bring China into the fold, to the table to do this. And then the prospect of the U.S. and China acting in concert helped bring the rest of the world to the table.

    So, in a large sense, this edifice is built on top of U.S. leadership. So, if you yank U.S. leadership out from underneath it, at the very least, I think it’s going to be much more shaky and vulnerable. Whether it continues on as it has been depends on a lot of economic forces and technological innovation and a lot of things that we can’t really predict.

    But I think, at the very least, action is much more fragile and contingent than it was before this news.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, David Roberts of Vox, thank you very much.

    DAVID ROBERTS: Thank you, William.

    The post How Trump could dismantle current environmental policy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a Reuters Newsmaker conversation in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly - RTSOSL0

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: President-elect Trump has spoken by phone to scores of world leaders. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has met with him in person in New York this evening, following concern in his country over statements candidate Trump made during the campaign.

    In fact, questions have been raised in many quarters about Trump’s foreign policy, as he decides who his main appointments in that arena will be.

    We turn now to Michael Pillsbury, who has been advising the Trump transition team. He has served in past Republican administrations in the Defense Department and on the National Security Council staff. And David Rothkopf, he is the CEO and editor of “Foreign Policy” magazine and the author of “National Insecurity: American Leadership in An Age of Fear.”

    And we welcome both of you to the program.

    Michael Pillsbury, let me start with you and ask you about this visit with the Japanese prime minister, the meeting late this afternoon with Donald Trump. How typical is it for a foreign head of government to meet with someone who’s been elected president, but hasn’t taken office yet?

    MICHAEL PILLSBURY, Former Reagan Administration Official: It’s common.

    This is basically a Japanese initiative. It’s a very good idea. It lets the Japanese sort of get the feel of Mr. Trump, present some of their concerns from the campaign rhetoric. And the fact that Mr. Abe has already said that it’s an honor for him to be the first foreign leader in some sense sets up a competitive dynamic.

    There’s been some approaches already now already from Prime Minister Modi of India and other countries that they would like to have a chance to talk to the president-elect as well.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But you’re saying it’s common, this is something that is normally done?

    MICHAEL PILLSBURY: I don’t the statistics.

    The key thing is, the president-elect can’t act. He can’t conduct foreign policy, but he can certainly educate himself and have a chance to meet people, so that, after he’s president, it won’t be the first time, it won’t meeting of two strangers.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: David Rothkopf, what about that? How accustomed are we, should we be, to a president-elect having these kinds of meetings?

    DAVID ROTHKOPF, Foreign Policy: Well, these kind of things happen. President Obama met with foreign leaders before he took office.

    I think what president-elect Trump needs to think about a little bit is that his actions have foreign policy consequences whether or not he’s meeting with foreign leaders, so that, for example, if he sends out a tweet trying to intimidate or berate The New York Times, foreign leaders who might be wanting to do that themselves start saying, oh, there is a change in a U.S. policy.

    Or if he cozies up to Russia, or if he appoints an ethno-nationalist as his primary adviser, people say, oh, perhaps ethno-nationalism is in season at the White House. Everything is being watched. Everything he does has a foreign policy consequence.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me turn back to you, Michael Pillsbury, because there has been a lot made about not just Stephen Bannon being named as a top counselor to the president in the White House, but about what Donald Trump said during the campaign.

    How much concern is there out there on the part of foreign leaders about him?

    MICHAEL PILLSBURY: Well, it’s hard to be sure of that, because he’s not president yet. And so things that foreign leaders say can be for effect.

    I can take you back to the Reagan administration. I was on President Reagan’s transition team. And we had similar issues. People wanted to get in touch to know, what is the true policy going to be/

    And transition teams and someone like me, especially an adviser on the outside, don’t have any authority. President Reagan didn’t really get to his main national security strategy until after one year in office. Some of these key documents, national security decision, Directive 32 on the Soviet Union, took one year to hash out.

    So we’re really in a very early phase, where, as David says, yes, the tweets are read and people are watching, but these are not official acts. There’s no team of secretary of state and defense actually meeting to hammer things out yet. We’re way early to see what the Trump administration role in history is going to be.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, David Rothkopf, it sounds like Michael Pillsbury is saying it’s just too early to get concerned about any of this until he takes office and starts making decisions.

    DAVID ROTHKOPF: Well, I don’t know if it’s too early.

    Yesterday, you had the head of the National Security Agency saying that Russia had taken an active role in trying to tip the scales of this election towards Trump. And, indeed, that’s what happened. Then Trump got on the phone with Russia, talked to Putin, waxed rhapsodic about a letter from Putin.

    A day later, Putin launches a major offensive in Syria. Some of the people who Trump is considering are people who are fairly cozy with the Russians, including General Mike Flynn. And so all of a sudden people are starting to put pieces together.

    Michael’s right it takes time for a foreign policy legacy to emerge, but, for — first impressions matter. And right now, Donald Trump is making some pretty disturbing first impressions.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I want to come back on the specifics of that.

    But, Michael, go ahead.

    MICHAEL PILLSBURY: I don’t agree at all on…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Go ahead.

    MICHAEL PILLSBURY: Well, a new president from whatever party deserves a bit of a cease-fire in my view. The election is over. Politics is going to continue.

    There will be harsh criticism of Donald Trump, I’m sure, for the next four years. One of my favorite expressions in Washington is something George Shultz once said, I think on the “PBS NewsHour.” He said — quote — “Nothing ever gets settled in this town.”

    So, conflicts continue. We can criticize Mike Flynn, but he’s not been named yet as the national security adviser. I personally hope he is. I ready General Mike Flynn’s book on the war on terror. It’s quite good.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But what about…

    MICHAEL PILLSBURY: He’s not speaking right now. General Flynn, going on TV, for example, he doesn’t speak as a government official.

    This was an election campaign which is now over, and there needs to be a kind of break in this harsh daily criticism of Mr. Trump and his team.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David Rothkopf, I hear you saying that there are signals being sent by the conversation that Donald Trump had with Vladimir Putin, for example.

    DAVID ROTHKOPF: Of course.

    And there are signals that are being sent with tweets intimidating The Times, and there are signals being sent with who he’s evaluating for key offices and who might be the people that he chooses to appoint to those offices.

    And, you know, yes, it would be nice, ideally, if we could set aside the politics for a moment, but some of these things are not political. When you go and take somebody who’s run a publication that’s a white supremacist, misogynist publication and appoint him right next door to the president in the White House, that sends a message, particularly in Europe right now, where there’s a rising tide of the right.

    One of those people who he’s appointed, Steve Bannon, has already sent a message to the Le Pen team who is going to contend for the presidency of France next year, extreme right-wingers. And so he’s saying, look, we will help you, we’re part of this rising tide of the right.

    So, actions are being taken, choices are being made, and the consequences are serious.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we should say that the Breitbart News organization argues against the characterization that it’s white supremacist.

    But, setting that aside, Michael Pillsbury, what about this argument that, already, by his statements, even saying I had a good conversation with Vladimir Putin, and the next day Russia launches yet another strike, punishing strike in Syria, that those are not things that we should be concerned about, at the very least?

    MICHAEL PILLSBURY: I think the key thing is a White House fact sheet that President Obama issued and President Obama’s own statements that the Obama administration has tried very hard to prepare memos for every government department for the last few months suggesting what to do, descriptions of what has happened so far.

    But those will not be turned over until Mr. Trump’s transition teams arrive in the buildings. Now, the problem we have right now is that the transition teams have not been sent.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And they did arrive today. Some of them did arrive today.

    MICHAEL PILLSBURY: And this is a setback for the past week or so, but it’s easy to remedy this. And now the dialogue begins.

    So, things like David is concerned about, they will begin to sort of get hold of what’s been going on in various foreign policy and defense areas quite soon. We’re in this very, very premature first week now, as I appeal again to David, give people a break.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We are just beginning to watch, and this is the first of many, many conversations we are going to be having on this.

    Michael Pillsbury, David Rothkopf, we thank you both.

    DAVID ROTHKOPF: Pleasure.

    The post What do first impressions say about Trump’s foreign policy? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Vice President-elect Mike Pence (L) meets with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S. November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron - RTX2U6KP

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Trump transition operated on two fronts today, in New York and Washington. The president-elect received a parade of potential Cabinet officers, while his running mate courted Congress.

    John Yang begins our coverage.

    JOHN YANG: One after another, they made the pilgrimage to Trump Tower for audiences with the president-elect. Some were familiar faces from the campaign, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.

    Others have also been mentioned as possible members of the Trump administration, House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, FedEx chairman Fred Smith, and governors Rick Scott or Florida and Nikki Haley of South Carolina. Transition officials said there’s no arbitrary timeline for personnel announcements.

    KELLYANNE CONWAY, Aide to President-elect Trump: I think, basically, before or right after Thanksgiving is probably more appropriate in terms of — we looked at where past administrations have been also, and we feel like we’re right on target, right on time for all of that.

    JOHN YANG: President-elect Trump talked foreign policy with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Today, he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Mr. Trump’s first face-to-face meeting with a world leader since the election.

    The incoming administration has launched its so-called landing teams to work with current administration officials across the federal government. All members of those teams and anyone being vetted for an administration job have to give up lobbying if they’re a registered lobbyist. And they have to agree to a five-year lobbying ban after leaving government service.

    Today, vice president-elect Pence was on Capitol Hill, meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and addressing the House Republican Conference Mr. Pence once led.

    MIKE PENCE (R), Vice President-Elect: Very humbling to be back among my former colleagues who are excited about moving the Trump agenda forward in the coming Congress, and I’m just so grateful, so grateful for the warm hospitality.

    JOHN YANG: Mr. Pence also sat down with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and with Chuck Schumer, the incoming Senate minority leader.

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

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took himself out of the running for a Trump Cabinet post today. He told The Washington Post he wants the freedom to — quote — “network across the whole system.”

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: President Obama had some pointed advice for his successor on dealing with Russia. He spoke in Berlin after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and said he hopes Mr. Trump confronts the Kremlin when it goes too far.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My hope is, is that he does not simply take a realpolitik approach and suggest that, if we just cut some deals with Russia, even if it hurts people or even if it violates international norms, we just do whatever is convenient at the time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Merkel said she’s keeping an open mind on working with a Trump administration.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Hillary Clinton has reemerged in public, urging supporters to keep fighting. She spoke last night at a Washington gala for the Children’s Defense Fund. Clinton acknowledged she’s had moments when she wanted to curl up and never leave the house again after her stunning loss. But she said this is no time to give in.

    HILLARY CLINTON, Former Presidential Candidate: I know that, over the past week, a lot of people have asked themselves whether America is the country we thought it was. But please listen to me when I say this: America is worth it. Our children are worth it. Believe in our country, fight for our values, and never, ever give up.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Clinton didn’t mention president-elect Trump by name.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives called today for a bill to fund the government into March. They said that would give the incoming Trump administration time to weigh in on future spending priorities.

    Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi now faces a challenge to keep her job as House minority leader. Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan announced today that he will run against Pelosi.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. surgeon general is out with a call to action on substance abuse. Dr. Vivek Murthy issued a sweeping report today. Among the findings, 78 Americans die every day from overdosing on opioids. A record 47,000 died from drug overdoses of all kinds in 2014. And more than 27 million people reported using illegal drugs or misusing prescription drugs last year.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In economic news, the head of the Federal Reserve Board says the economic outlook is improving. That’s likely to pave the way for another interest rate hike next month. Janet Yellen gave her semi-annual report to Congress today. She acknowledged the Fed’s view could change, depending on what the Trump administration does.

    JANET YELLEN, Chair, Federal Reserve: When there’s greater clarity about the economic policies that might be put into effect, the committee will have to factor those assessments of their impacts on employment and inflation and perhaps adjust our outlook depending on what happens.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yellen also said she has no intention of stepping down before her term ends in January of 2018.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: J.P. Morgan Chase will pay $264 million to settle federal charges that it bribed its way into banking deals with China. The bank was accused of hiring relatives of well-connected Chinese officials, in a bid to secure business. Several other banks are under a similar investigation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street managed modest gains today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 35 points to close near 18904. The Nasdaq rose 39, and the S&P 500 added 10.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Astronaut Peggy Whitson is now the oldest woman in space at the age of 56. The biochemist was on a Russian rocket that blasted off from Kazakstan today on a mission to the International Space Station. Whitson will celebrate her 57 birthday in space next February. John Glenn remains the oldest human to go into space. He flew on a space shuttle at age 77.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And the man who made Archer Daniels Midland into a food industry giant has died. Dwayne Andreas passed away Wednesday. He took over ADM in 1970 and built a dominant position in everything from ethanol to corn syrup. He stepped down in 1997, after a price-fixing scandal. ADM was also a major underwriter of the “NewsHour” for years.

    Dwayne Andreas was 98 years old.

    The post News Wrap: Trump transition gets moving while Pence visits Congress appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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