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

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    Freshly printed newspapers with a frontpage of late former Cuban leader Fidel Castro are seen at a printer of the local daily PM in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez          FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. - RTSTGQ7

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    Read the full transcript below.

    LISA DESJARDINS, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND: Fidel Castro ruled the island of Cuba with an iron fist for almost half a century, handing power over to his brother eight years ago.

    Cubans called him simply “Fidel” — he was a thorn in the side of ten American presidents, a defiant communist allied with the Soviet Union in the Cold War.

    And a dictator who imprisoned and killed his enemies and drove a million of his citizens to flee.

    Castro was the father of a revolution that delivered healthcare and education to his people but deprived them of a better quality of life by most other measures….and most of all, political freedom.

    Late last night, President Raul Castro went on Cuban state television to announce the death of his older brother and predecessor, but he gave no cause. Fidel Castro had suffered from an intestinal disease for over a decade.
    Raul Castro announced nine days of national mourning and said his brother would be cremated, with his ashes interred in the city of Santiago, near where he grew up.

    In Havana, flags are at half-staff, and the mood has been somber. The streets largely empty of people and traffic.

    President Barack Obama, expressed his condolences to the Castro family. Mr. Obama, who began a process to normalize relations with Cuba two years ago and visited Cuba this year, added, “The Cuban people must know they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.”

    President-elect Donald Trump called Castro a “brutal dictator who oppressed his own people.”

    Mr. Trump said, “Though the tragedies, deaths, and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.”

    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said, “Now that Fidel Castro is dead, the cruelty and oppression of his regime should die with him.”

    By contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Castro had been, quote, “…an inspiring example to many countries.”

    China’s communist leader, Xi Jinping, said, “The Chinese people have lost a close comrade and a sincere friend.”

    And Bolivia’s socialist president, Evo Morales, said Castro was, quote, “…the leader who taught us to fight for the sovereignty of the state and the dignity of the peoples of the world.”

    At the Vatican, Pope Francis, who helped broker the restoration of U.S.-Cuban relations, said Castro’s death was “sad news” and offered his prayers for the nation.

    And in the section of Miami known as “Little Havana,” thousands of Cuban-Americans took to the streets to celebrate Castro’s death, chanting, “cuba si, castro no.”

    WOMAN: “I guess I shouldn’t be happy, because a person has died, but he separated my family. My parents never got to see Cuba again. So today, I rejoice for this.”

    DESJARDINS: Cuban-American congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said,
    “A tyrant is dead.”

    ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN: “the streets are so joyous because several generations of Cubans are celebrating the death of a dictator. not the death of a human being, but the death of a dictator.”

    The post World reacts to death of communist leader Fidel Castro appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Tabular icebergs float in Pine Island Bay. Photo courtesy James Smith/Nature

    Tabular icebergs float in Pine Island Bay. Photo courtesy James Smith/Nature

    The West Antarctic ice sheet holds enough water to raise the world’s oceans an estimated 10 feet, and it’s shrinking.

    Scientists analyzing the region have had a reasonable understanding of the ice sheet’s changes over the last three decades, thanks to satellite imagery and ground measurements. But solid data on how its glaciers behaved before that time is harder to come by.

    University of Alaska, Fairbanks physics professor Martin Truffer, said glaciologists need historical data in order to predict glaciers’ future behavior. “If we just observe right now, we might not get the whole picture of how this process actually works,” he said.

    A study published Wednesday by Truffer and 14 other researchers in the journal Nature offers some clues from the early 20th century. The team found the retreat of one of the largest glaciers in the region, the Pine Island Glacier, actually began with a pulse of warm, El Niño ocean water around 1940. Its retreat didn’t stop despite ocean temperatures in the region returning to normal quickly thereafter.

    In December 2012 and January 2013, the team drilled completely through the ice sheet near a seafloor ridge where the glacier’s grounding line was believed to be in the 1940s. A grounding line is the barrier between where a glacier’s ice sits atop the ocean floor and where it becomes a suspended shelf in ocean waters.

    The proposed underwater retreat and thinning of the Pine Island Glacier from the turn of the century to now. Illustration courtesy Smith et al., 2016/Nature.

    The proposed underwater retreat and thinning of the Pine Island Glacier from the turn of the century to now. Illustration courtesy Smith et al., 2016/Nature.


    After drilling through the ice to ocean water below, the researchers used special equipment to obtain cores of the sediment below. Oceanographers often use sediment cores in their research, said Truffer, but using them as a part of glacier research is relatively rare.

    “What you find with the sediment cores is essentially a history of what has been going on at the bottom over the last couple of decades, because the sedimentation on the ocean floor is quite different once you have an ocean cavity from when you have ice actually touching the ground,” he said.

    The research team looked at the content of the three sediment cores — two from the front side and one from the backside of the ridge — and analyzed differences in the grain size of sediment.

    Marine Geologist James Smith inspects sediment core recovered from beneath a more than 1,000 foot thick portion of the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf. Photo courtesy M. Brian/Nature

    Marine Geologist James Smith inspects sediment core recovered from beneath a more than 1,000 foot thick portion of the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf. Photo courtesy M. Brian/Nature


    The ocean floor in front of a grounding line tends to have layers of coarse debris thrust upon it by a moving glacier. Any ocean bottom then exposed to open water by a retreating glacier begins to accumulate very fine sediments that floating in the water column.

    Dating the sediment layers in each sample by measuring the decaying isotope lead-210 showed the 1945 pulse of warm water opened a cavity behind the grounding line ridge. The water temperature returned to normal, but the cavity continued to grow. Over time, the thinning of the glacier from underneath caused it to detach from the ridge altogether. As a result, the grounding line of the Pine Island glacier has retreated roughly 30 miles in the last 70 years.

    The study is a valuable contribution to glacial research, said Knut Christianson, a glaciologist at the University of Washington who has also studied the Pine Island Glacier but was not involved in the research.

    “It has long been suspected that the trigger for starting retreat down a reverse slope at Pine Island Glacier was sufficient ocean-induced melt at the base of the glacier to thin the glacier to flotation and trigger instability via retreat into thicker ice,” he said. “That drives more flow, additional thinning and additional retreat.”

    “To my knowledge, this is the first time sediment cores have been retrieved from under a very dynamic ice stream used to date grounding line retreat so precisely,” he added. “It will lead to advances in process understanding that will be useful elsewhere.”

    The results indicate sudden climate forcing could cause rapid, irreversible melting in other glaciers.

    One concern to Truffer is the Pine Island’s neighbor Thwaites Glacier, which holds about two feet of potential sea level rise. Like Pine Island, Thwaites also has ridges in it’s underwater ice basin, and warm pulses could cause spurts of rapid retreat into deeper cavities at a much quicker rate than expected.

    “There’s an enormous amount of ice there,” said Truffler. “So, the question becomes, ‘Can you release that in 100 years or 1,000 years?’ I think the rate of retreat is where most of the uncertainty is right now.”

    The post Past glacier movements offer clues to the future of ice melt appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Fidel Castro attends manoeuvres during the XX anniversary of his and his fellow revolutionaries arrival on the yacht Granma,  November 1976.  REUTERS/Prensa Latina (CUBA) - RTR1HSBF

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    Read the full transcript below.

    HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND: His communist revolution outlasted 10 American presidencies and withstood half a century of American economic embargo.

    He survived numerous attempts to overthrow or assassinate him.

    He fought off one U.S.-backed invasion at a little known beach called Playa Giron, in what Americans came to know as the Bay of Pigs and helped unleash a superpower confrontation by installing soviet missiles in Cuba.

    The world had seen little of the Cuban leader in the past decade after serious intestinal illness struck in 2006.

    In 2008, he stepped down as president, putting his brother — army head Raul Castro — at the country’s helm.

    This feeble old man in a track suit was a pale shadow of the overconfident 32-year-old guerrilla who shook up the western hemisphere.

    Fidel Castro triumphantly took control of Cuba on January 1, 1959.

    He rolled into Havana atop a tank a week later.

    He came down from his guerrilla stronghold in the Sierra Maestra Mountains — joined by his partner in revolution — the Argentine Che Guevara and a small rebel army. They had toppled the right wing dictator Fulgencio Batista, who had been in and out of power in Cuba for 25 years.

    Castro quickly nationalized U.S.-owned companies and property in Cuba, along with church holdings, and the farms and businesses of wealthy and middle class Cubans.

    The U.S. responded with an economic boycott that lasted decades.

    And Castro began an alliance with America’s superpower rival, the Soviet Union.

    CASTRO: “Viva la amistad entre las personas de la Union sovietica y cuba!”

    SREENIVASAN: Departing president Dwight Eisenhower, severed all links with Cuba.

    JAMES HAGERTY, PRESS SECRETARY, 1961: There is a limit to what the united states and self-respect can endure. That limit has now been reached. Our friendship for the Cuban people is not affected.

    SREENIVASAN: The hardships placed upon the Cuban economy, and Castro’s repression of his Cuban opposition sparked a series of mass migrations that would profoundly affect the United States, and the future of U.S.-Cuba relations.

    The new American president, John Kennedy, picked up one of his predecessor’s plans — an armed overthrow of Castro. The CIA trained an army of 1200 Cuban exiles to invade and begin a popular uprising.

    On April 17, 1961 the small, counter-revolutionary force stormed the beach on Cuba’s south-east coast.

    Many Cuban people rallied to Castro and his forces quickly put down the Bay of Pigs invasion.

    It was a disaster for the new Kennedy Administration.

    But the following year brought a new confrontation and even more danger.

    On October 16, 1962, U.S. spy planes photographed the construction of a soviet missile site in Cuba.

    A crisis ensued which brought the world the closest it had ever come to nuclear annihilation. A U.S. naval blockade, called a “quarantine” was forced on Cuba. Kennedy took to the airwaves and warned of the consequences.

    JOHN KENNEDY, U.S. PRESIDENT: To halt this offensive build up, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba will be initiated. It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.

    SREENIVASAN: It took 12 days of intense negotiations and U.N. diplomatic efforts, but the Soviets backed down and promised to remove the missiles from Cuba, in return for a U.S. commitment not to invade the Caribbean island.

    The NewsHour’s Robert MacNeil, who was in Havana at the time, asked Fidel Castro about the missile crisis in a 1985 NewsHour interview.

    ROBERT MACNEIL, PBS NEWSHOUR: When the crisis was at its very height, did you personally think that nuclear war was a possibility one of those days? Did you believe that?

    CASTRO (VOICE OF INTERPRETER): Yes, I believed that was a possibility.

    MACNEIL: What did you feel about your role in having brought it to that point?

    CASTRO (VOICE OF INTERPRETER): It was not me. It was the United States that led us to that point. It was the United States that initiated the blockade, that organized the invasion, the sabotage, the pirate attacks, the mercenary invasion and those that spoke of an invasion against Cuba. It was the United States, it was not us. And I believe that we answered correctly, I have no doubt whatsoever. What were we to do? Yield? The United States could be assured that we will never yield, under conditions such as those we will fight.

    SREENIVASAN: Castro put down dissent. Economic conditions worsened.
    Emigration to the United States surged.

    Exiles and their families filled American cities and prospered in places like Miami’s “Little Havana.” These immigrants became a force in American politics — standing against any efforts to lift the embargo, or reopen diplomatic relations.

    All the while, Castro endured. He rallied his faithful supporters in the capital with his trademark hours-long, fiery speeches full of nationalist and socialist rhetoric.

    CASTRO, (TRANSLATED): Of the revolution and the construction of socialism.

    SREENIVASAN: Crowds of thousands turned out to listen.

    Even with massive soviet subsidies, another dramatic economic downturn hit Cuba in 1980, and Castro said anyone who wanted to leave Cuba could do so by boat.

    Again, a huge wave of immigrants headed to the United States in what became known as the Mariel boatlift.

    Many of these were prisoners and convicts.

    But Castro continued to hold a tight grip on his people through restrictions on free speech and free press. He quieted the opposition with imprisonment.

    And he did not deny that his jail held political prisoners when the NewsHour’s Robert MacNeil asked him in 1985.

    CASTRO (VOICE OF INTERPRETER): Yes, we have them. We have a few hundred political prisoners. Is that a violation of human rights? Those that have infiltrated through our coasts, those that have been trained by the CIA to kill, to place bombs. Do we have the right to put them to trial or not? Are they political prisoners? They’re something more than political prisoners. They’re traitors to the homeland.

    SREENIVASAN: With the collapse of the Soviet Union in The early 1990’s, subsidized sugar prices and cheap oil from Cuba’s communist ally disappeared.

    Cubans were again asked to tighten their belts again. Castro needed new friends.

    In 1998 the communist leader came face-to-face with communism’s arch rival. Castro welcomed Pope John Paul II to Cuba.

    The pope addressed the Cuban people at a mass where thousands turned out. He called for an end to human rights abuses and drew the world’s attention to the plight of the Cuban people.

    Castro did come to loosen some restrictions on the Catholics in Cuba, the pope’s message did little else to change the day-to-day lives of Cubans.

    But in later years, Castro found new allies in the hemisphere.

    CASTRO: Viva la Republica Boliviarana de Venezuela! Viva Cuba!”

    SREENIVASAN: And leftist leaders like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, who said they were inspired by the Cuban revolution and joined Castro in delighted defiance of Uncle Sam.

    Fidel’s slow fade began on July 31, 2006, when he ceded power to his younger brother, Raul. The news that Castro had undergone successful surgery for gastrointestinal bleeding aired over state television.

    In the states, among the exile and Cuban American population, there was anxiety, along with jubilation at the idea that this could be the end.

    But soon Castro allowed himself to appear in photos from his hospital bed and even entertained friends while convalescing. When he was up and moving in October 2006 the video captured a frail and aging man in a much weakened state trying to look healthy.

    In December 2006, Cubans celebrated the 50th anniversary of the revolution and a belated birthday without the guest of honor who was still too ill to attend.

    He didn’t reappear in the public eye until 2010, and almost a year later, he officially resigned as the communist party’s leader.

    In 2012, Cuba hosted another pontiff – Pope Benedict. Castro was too ill to attend a large mass which drew thousands. But the pair did hold a meeting.

    BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.

    SREENIVASAN: Then, in December of 2014, President Obama announced the United States would re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba.

    That meant opening up an embassy in Havana, expanding economic ties and easing travel bans.

    The first step was a prisoner swap between the two countries.

    But the deal was made with Fidel’s brother — President Raul Castro. It was the first major discussion between presidents of the U.S. and Cuba since 1961.

    And Fidel was still nowhere to be seen.

    Despite his decline from public life and politics, the communist icon continued to publish editorial columns, and assumed the role of an elder statesman.

    The post Fidel Castro, who led Cuba for a half-century, dies at 90 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The federal government forms for applying for health coverage are seen at a rally held by supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as "Obamacare", outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi October 4, 2013.  Mississippi is one of at least 20 states that has decided not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

    The federal government forms for applying for health coverage are seen at a rally held by supporters of the Affordable Care Act, outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi, on Oct. 4, 2013. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama took on the problems of a lack of access to health care and high cost, but he and Democrats paid a political price. President-elect Donald Trump has promised to undo much of what Obama put in place, and pledged to make the system better.

    Although Trump is lacking in specifics, he seems to want to make costs his priority. States, insurers, businesses, and individuals would get more leeway to sort out access.

    Health care keenly reflects the country’s deep political divide. A look at some lessons Trump might learn from Obama’s rough ride:

    The perils of promises

    Obama promised that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” But then several million people were threatened with the loss of policies that didn’t conform to his overhaul. Obama said premiums would come down, too.

    Trump hasn’t made such specific promises, yet it may already be too late for him. In the campaign, Trump made it sound like replacing the law would be quick and easy, and people would be widely satisfied with the results.

    Consider his idea for allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines. “Get rid of the artificial lines and you will have yourself great plans,” Trump said. That ignores practical issues such as whether an insurer in Houston can set up a viable network of doctors in New York.

    “There are no easy solutions in health care,” said Jim Capretta, a health policy expert with the business-oriented American Enterprise Institute. “Whatever is done will necessarily involve some trade-offs, and winners and losers. There are political risks associated with every kind of policy proposal.”

    [Watch Video]

    Medicare and Medicaid

    As a candidate in 2008, then-Sen. Obama proposed requiring parents to get health insurance for their children, one of several steps to move toward coverage for all. As president, he embraced a broader “individual mandate” requiring most people to be covered. Enforced with fines from the IRS, it’s been unpopular from the start.

    Separately, Obama and a Democratic-led Congress financed part of the coverage expansion in the Affordable Care Act with cuts in Medicare payments to service providers. That was an unwelcome surprise to older people. Even if Medicare cuts improved the program’s balance sheet, older voters helped deliver the House to Republicans in 2010, a few months after Obama signed the overhaul.

    Trump has promised not to cut Medicare, but Republican leaders in Congress want to revamp the program to provide future retirees with a fixed amount to purchase private insurance. Will Trump go along?

    Trump initially also said he wouldn’t cut Medicaid, the health care program for low-income people. During the campaign, though, his views shifted to backing a “block grant” that would limit federal money to states and could result in big cuts.

    Medicare and Medicaid have been around for more than 50 years and are politically popular. Most people, including Republicans, don’t equate the programs with the health law. So Trump could be left exposed.

    Going it alone

    Democrats passed the 2010 law over solid GOP opposition. Progressives blamed Republican obstinacy and said the overhaul contained many provisions with a centrist, even Republican, pedigree. But the lack of bipartisan support stoked years of opposition.

    Trump’s ability to win over some Democrats will determine whether his ideas are remembered as a fleeting lurch to the political right or a lasting course correction.

    At the moment, it’s hard to detect any glimmer of bipartisanship.

    “If President Trump succeeds in getting the ACA repealed, he and the Republicans will ‘own’ America’s health care system,” said Ron Pollack of Families USA, a leading advocate for Obama’s law. “As tens of millions of people lose coverage, the blame will go squarely onto the shoulders of those who engineered the repeal.”

    People live here

    When Obama signed the measure into law, Democrats hailed it as the fulfillment of historic aspirations to close the last major hole in the nation’s social safety net.

    If Trump gets to sign “repeal and replace” legislation, the rhetoric will be about getting government off people’s backs and giving consumers the options they really needed.

    How will the reality measure up?

    Obama’s law has been a lifeline for many people who previously could not get coverage. For others it brought unwanted legal obligations and expenses that burdened household budgets. The law did not hold back the trend of rising out-of-pocket costs for those with employer coverage.

    People worry about the overall affordability of their health care, said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Consumers have gotten savvy that out-of-pocket costs, which come on top of premiums, erode the value of their insurance card.

    “Republicans may be tempted to push insurance premiums down by allowing insurers to offer skimpier coverage with fewer benefits and higher deductibles,” he said. “That’s not likely to satisfy consumers in the end.”

    The post What Trump can learn from Obama’s rough ride on health care appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    In 2007, Congress created a voucher program that shaves months off of the Food and Drug Administration's review process for drug development that targets rare pediatric diseases. Photo by Getty Images

    The House plans to vote on a bill that aims to speed approval of drugs. Photo by Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — The House plans to vote Wednesday on a $6.3 billion bill aimed at speeding federal approval of drugs and medical devices and boosting biomedical research.

    The legislation, a priority for congressional leaders in the lame-duck session, seeks to streamline how federal regulators assess the safety of new treatments and let them reach markets more quickly. It provides new money for the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration, including funding for the White House’s cancer moonshot and precision medicine initiatives.

    The bill also would seek $1 billion in grants to states to fight opioid abuse.

    Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced details of the draft bill Saturday along with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. They described the legislation as an “innovation game-changer.”

    “America’s patients are waiting on us,” the two lawmakers said in a statement.

    Republicans said the measure was final. But aides to Democrats — they are the minority party in both the House and Senate — said negotiations were continuing. Democrats were seeking additional changes to garner “strong bipartisan support,” according to a Democrat speaking for the House committee.

    The draft bill includes several provisions pushed in part by Democrats aimed at addressing mental health issues, such as increasing access to treatment for children and on college campuses.

    A version of the bill previously passed the House but has been on hold for a year as Democrats and Republicans sparred over levels of NIH spending. The latest draft bill would provide $4.8 billion to NIH and $500 million to the FDA.

    It would be paid at least in part by selling oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

    Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate panel, had pushed for a broader bill that included provisions on opioid-addiction treatment as well as mental health reform.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said once the House acts on the bill the Senate will follow before the end of December.

    The post House to vote on bill aimed at speeding approval of drugs appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FILE PHOTO: Protesters calling for an end to the death penalty unfurl a banner before police arrest them outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington January 17, 2007. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo - RTSFK7B

    Protesters calling for an end to the death penalty unfurl a banner before police arrest them outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 17, 2007. Photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

    HOUSTON — The U.S. Supreme Court is set to examine whether the nation’s busiest state for capital punishment is trying to put to death a convicted killer who’s intellectually disabled, which would make him ineligible for execution under the court’s current guidance.

    Lawyers for prisoner Bobby James Moore, 57, contend that the state’s highest criminal court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, ignored current medical standards and required use of outdated standards when it decided Moore isn’t mentally disabled. That ruling removed a legal hurdle to Moore’s execution for the shotgun slaying of a Houston grocery store clerk in 1980.

    The Texas court is a “conspicuous outlier” among state courts and “defies both the Constitution and common sense,” Clifford Sloan, Moore’s lead lawyer, told the justices in written briefs submitted ahead of Tuesday’s scheduled oral arguments. Such a “head-in-the-sand approach … ignores advances in the medical community’s understanding and assessment of intellectual disability over the past quarter century,” he wrote.

    Moore’s lawyers want his death sentence set aside, contending his punishment would violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment and the Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in a North Carolina case that prohibited execution of the mentally disabled.

    The Texas attorney general’s office says the state “fully complies” with Supreme Court precedents. The state points to its use of 1992 clinical definitions for intellectual disability as cited by the high court in its 2002 decision. And the office says it has consulted and considered more recent standards.

    The question before the high court “rests on a false premise,” Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller said, arguing that Moore’s claim of intellectual disability is refuted “under any relevant standard.”

    Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a Florida law that barred any other evidence of intellectual disability if an inmate’s IQ was over 70. Texas uses a three-pronged test to define intellectual disability: IQ scores, with 70 generally considered a threshold; an inmate’s ability to interact with others and care for him or herself; and whether evidence of deficiencies in either of those areas occurred before age 18.

    The state says Moore had a troubled childhood with little supervision and scored 57, 77 and 78 on IQ tests before dropping out of school in the ninth grade. He’d been convicted four times of felonies by age 17 but never was diagnosed with an intellectual disability as a youth, the state argues.

    It describes him as living on the streets, playing pool for money and mowing lawns. During the fatal robbery of 72-year-old Houston supermarket clerk James McCarble, Moore wore a wig and fled to Louisiana afterward, and had represented himself in legal actions, showing the required intellectual capabilities, the state contends.

    Moore’s lawyers argue the state “cherry-picked” specific higher IQ scores, and that at age 13 Moore had no basic understanding of the days of the week or seasons of the year, couldn’t tell time and couldn’t read or write or keep up in school.

    Since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976, Texas has carried out 537 executions, far more than any other state. Moore arrived on death row in July 1980, and only five of the state’s some 250 condemned inmates have been there longer.

    In 1999, an appeals court threw out his death sentence, ruling that the legal help at his trial was deficient. At a new punishment hearing two years later, a Harris County jury again sentenced him to die.

    In an appeal of that verdict, the Court of Criminal Appeals returned the case to the trial court for a hearing, where the judge decided Moore was mentally disabled and ineligible for execution. But the appeals court rejected that recommendation, saying the trial judge had disregarded case law. Eight of the appeals court’s nine members participated in the case, and two of them disagreed with the majority.

    The post Death penalty and mental disability at issue for justices appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    norah_jones_1

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    NORAH JONES SINGING-PLAYING “TRAGEDY”: It’s a tragedy. It’s a tragedy…

    JEFFREY BROWN: Norah Jones has said when she decided to be a jazz singer, she knew she’d never be famous. Well, she got that wrong. Whatever you call her, she’s been one of the best-selling American recording artists of the past 15 years.

    JONES SINGING-PLAYING “TRAGEDY”: He was only 25, had an open heart and tender mind…

    BROWN: Her blockbuster 2002 debut album, “Come Away With Me,” has sold 26 million copies worldwide and her total album sales are nearing 50 million.

    Jones’ new album, “Day Breaks,” reprises the style and atmosphere of her first record, but more than anything, her voice remains her signature sound.

    JONES SINGING-PLAYING “TRAGEDY”: The babies and a patient wife, they just weren’t enough to keep him high. So he gave them up just to fill his cup…

    BROWN: Everything I see about this new album, including in the publicity, it says, “Norah Jones is finding her way, returning to her jazz roots.” Do you buy that, or what do you think is going on here?

    JONES: I mean I definitely think it’s accurate. that’s not how I’d describe what I’m doing, because I feel like I’m moving forward, as I do with every album. I’ve definitely been playing more piano again, and I don’t know. Music, man, it’s just music, just listen to it.

    BROWN: The pulse of “Day Breaks” is set by her piano — the instrument she studied growing up in Dallas, Texas.

    Her father, Indian musician Ravi Shankar, was largely absent during her childhood. Jones credits her mother, Sue Jones, a concert promoter, for exposing her to the music that set her on her way.

    What are your musical roots when you look back?

    JONES: Definitely jazz. Bill Evans and Billie holiday and Miles Davis. Stuff I still love to listen to today. You know, I was playing piano in a church choir, and I kind of didn’t want to practice scales. My mom took me to this big band concert, and then she found me this jazz piano teacher, and then we got all these old recordings, and I fell in love with this music.

    JONES SINGING “FLIPSIDE”: I tried to get high, but you wanted me low. Good things are happening, but happening slow. It’s some kind of mystery from long ago.

    BROWN: This song — “Flipside” — is one of eight originals Jones wrote or co-wrote for her new album.

    And how do you know when you’ve sort of nailed the song?

    JONES: I don’t know. Sometimes you want to tweak it after you’ve recorded it and put it on an album sometimes. Songs are kind of alive, I think; once you finish writing them, that doesn’t mean that that’s it for the song. It can have its own little life, I think.

    BROWN: That’s, of course, also part of performing, right? Do you like performing?

    JONES: Yeah, I think playing music is one of my great joys in life. I had success early on where I’m able to try to keep it fun, and I don’t have to do things just for the sake of making a living, which a lot of my musician friends don’t have that luxury of course. I remember early on, for instance, having to play wedding gigs, that I hated playing the music. Now I don’t have to play music that I don’t like. I only get to do what I enjoy, so that’s pretty lucky.

    BROWN: Lucky — that when she was 24, she essentially swept the 2003 Grammy awards, winning best new artist, record of the year for “don’t know why,” and beating the likes of Bruce Springsteen for album of the year.

    Suddenly you were an overnight star, right? Does that, in retrospect, was that, was it too much to happen too soon for you?

    JONES: I think I handled it pretty well. There was a lot of points during those couple years where I was pretty overwhelmed by it for sure. It’s funny how you realize what’s important, and it’s not fame and money, even though it can be really nice. Its happiness and whatever it takes to make you feel happy.

    BROWN: Jones was at ease as we talked recently at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, not far from where she lives…now with a family of her own.

    In recent years, marriage and motherhood, right, no doubt changes your life. Does it change your music?

    JONES: I don’t necessarily think that my music has— I don’t go about playing music differently. It changes my sleeping schedule and my drinking habits, that’s what I like to say.

    JONES PERFORMING “I’VE GOT TO SEE YOU AGAIN”: No, I won’t go for any of those things.

    BROWN: Two years ago, Jones played with the jazz musicians who ended up backing her on “Day Breaks” at a Washington concert celebrating the 75th anniversary of her label, blue note records. The performance, recorded by NPR, included saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

    JONES: He’s a legend. He doesn’t play notes, he just plays what he’s feeling. If something’s not moving him, he doesn’t come in yet. I think playing with people like that is incredible, people who just kind of breathe music.

    BROWN: This recent performance of new songs was taped in Santa Monica, California, by the k-c-r-w program “morning becomes eclectic.”

    JONES SINGING “DAY BREAKS”: Day breaks in your head. And you’re finally alone. I’ll find a way to make it through. But it keeps raining in your heart.

    BROWN: Jones says after her smash hit breakthrough, Blue Note never pressured her to put out the same kind of album over and over.

    And she didn’t. She wrote more songs with guitars, she made two albums with her country band, “The Little Willies,” and sang an album of Everly Brothers duets with “Green Day” front man Billie Joe Armstrong.

    JONES SINGING “DAY BREAKS”: Maybe you should go away. If the love we have is meant to stay….

    BROWN: She says her approach has not changed since that day in 2000 when she first met Blue Note Records president Bruce Lundvall with a demo tape of three songs — two jazz standards and one original pop song.

    JONES: And Bruce listens to the demo right in front of me. And he says, “So, this song is different from the first two. So what do you want to do, be a jazz singer or pop singer?” And I was like, uh, I’m at Blue Note Records, he might give me a record deal, “jazz singer.”

    JONES SINGING “DAY BREAKS”: Raining in my heart…

    BROWN: After completing her “Day Breaks” shows in early December, Jones has concert dates booked next spring throughout the u-s and japan.

    JONES: I’m super-fortunate to have any fans still. It’s been almost 15 years since my first album. I’m happy. I feel good about music. Music is fun. It should be fun. And that’s the key, I think. Keep it as the thing you love. It’s not like once you achieve success, you’re done, you know. It’s like, still enjoy doing what you’re doing, that’s the key for me.

    The post With ‘Day Breaks,’ Norah Jones builds on signature sound appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) waves after speaking to supporters at the DCCC U.S. midterm election night watch party at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, November 7, 2006. If the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives after today's election then Pelosi will become eligible to become the first U.S. women ever to be Speaker of the House. Behind Pelosi is U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH).    REUTERS/Larry Downing    (UNITED STATES) - RTR1J4JK

    Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) waves after speaking to supporters at the DCCC U.S. midterm election night watch party at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 7, 2006. Behind Pelosi is U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). Photo by Larry Downing/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Ohio congressman challenging House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says his colleagues understand that regaining the majority requires a “new message and a new messenger” able to reach out to voters who abandoned the party in this month’s election.

    House Democrats are set to vote Wednesday on who’ll lead them when Congress reconvenes in January.

    Pelosi — a 76-year-old liberal from California — says she has the support of two-thirds of her caucus.

    Her challenger, 43-year-old Tim Ryan, tells “Fox News Sunday” that colleagues have told him the Nov. 8 election was about change and that they want change, too.

    The leadership vote was to be held right after the election. It was delayed after Republicans won the White House and kept control of the House and Senate.

    The post Pelosi challenger says House Democrats need new message appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Ground crew hold U.S. and Cuban flags near a recently landed JetBlue aeroplane, the first commercial scheduled flight between the United States and Cuba in more than 50 years, at the Abel Santamaria International Airport in Santa Clara, Cuba, August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX2NQB5

    Ground crew hold U.S. and Cuban flags near a recently landed JetBlue aeroplane, the first commercial scheduled flight between the United States and Cuba in more than 50 years, at the Abel Santamaria International Airport in Santa Clara, Cuba, on Aug. 31, 2016. Photo by Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Cuban government must move toward enacting greater freedoms for its people and giving Americans something in return if it wants to keep warmer U.S. relations initiated by President Barack Obama, top aides to President-elect Donald Trump said Sunday.

    The comments by Trump advisers Kellyanne Conway and Reince Priebus followed the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Castro’s younger brother, 85-year-old Raul Castro, took control in 2006, and later negotiated with Obama to restore diplomatic relations.

    Priebus, Trump’s incoming chief of staff, said Trump would “absolutely” reverse Obama’s opening to Cuba unless there is “some movement” from the Cuban government.

    “Repression, open markets, freedom of religion, political prisoners — these things need to change in order to have open and free relationships, and that’s what President-elect Trump believes, and that’s where he’s going to head, ” Priebus told “Fox News Sunday.”

    Conway made similar remarks and noted that any diplomatic deal will have to benefit American workers.

    “To the extent that President Trump can open up new conversations with Cuba, it would have to be a very different Cuba,” she told ABC’s “This Week.”

    She added: “He wants to make sure that when the United States of America, when he’s president, engages in any type of diplomatic relations or trade agreements … that we as America are being protected and we as America are getting something in return.”

    [Watch Video]

    Conway said nothing on Cuba has been decided. But she noted that the U.S. is allowing commercial aircraft to do business with a repressive Cuban government and Cuban military. And she said the “first order of business” is to rally the international community around trying to free political prisoners.

    While Obama opened some U.S. investment and travel to Cuba through executive order, vast restrictions tied up in the trade embargo remain at the insistence of Republican lawmakers.

    Separate memorial services have been scheduled for Tuesday and later in the week in Cuba for Castro, and some world leaders and celebrities were expected to attend. As of Sunday, though, the White House had not said whether anyone from the U.S. government would attend.

    Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, whose parents were born in Cuba, says he is heartened by Trump’s past hard-line rhetoric on Cuba.

    Rubio told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the U.S. focus must be its own security and other interests and encouraging a Cuban democracy.

    “We should examine our policy toward Cuba through those lenses,” he said. “And if there’s a policy that helps that, it remains in place. And if it’s a policy that doesn’t, it’s removed.”

    During the campaign, Trump said he would reverse “concessions” to the Cuban government by Obama unless the Castro government meets his demands. On Saturday, while Obama offered condolences to Castro’s family and said the U.S. extends “a hand of friendship to the Cuban people,” Trump tweeted: “Fidel Castro is dead!”

    Trump later released a statement noting his administration “will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.”

    The post Trump aides say Cuban government will have to change appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo courtesy of Matt Pasini trans youths

    Matt Pasini, a 19-year-old transgender man, was 14 years old when he began taking puberty blockers, a treatment that he said helped his anxiety and improved his confidence. Photo courtesy of Matt Pasini

    Matt Pasini was sitting in a therapist’s office with his parents just before his 15th birthday, a year after he first came out as trans, when he told them: “I can’t keep living like this.”

    Pasini, who grew up in Queens, New York, was grappling with gender dysphoria, which the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), describes as a feeling of distress caused by identifying as a gender other than the one you were assigned at birth. That distress was getting worse with puberty: people misgendered him in public, he was self-conscious, and every month, his menstrual cycle would cause a mental crisis.

    “It became a constant reminder that I was born in the wrong body and I didn’t have any control over that,” Pasini, now 19, told the NewsHour.

    Puberty can cause enormous stress for transgender youth, adding to their already-high rates of anxiety and depression. But relief has come for some in the form of puberty blockers. Originally developed to allay early onset puberty, these drugs give transgender youths more time to decide how to move forward in their transition. Lupron and other puberty blockers are rarely covered by insurance for people under 18 — but in New York, that could change as early as December, potentially making a difference for trans youth in the state. “Relieving gender dysphoria for a lot of these kids is like unleashing them finally into the world, to go be themselves.” — Dr. Andrew Goodman of the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center

    Along with his parents, therapist and doctor, Pasini, decided after that session that he would start Lupron, one of the most common puberty blockers. Pasini said he noticed a change in how he carried himself, how he interacted with others and how he felt about his body. “I didn’t have as much anxiety in school because of that, and I felt somewhat more comfortable in my body,” he said. “It made me feel a lot more confident. … It made me feel a lot less depressed about myself.”

    For some, a ‘life-saving’ treatment

    Twelve states and Washington, D.C., cover transition-related health care under Medicaid for transgender people. But most often, that coverage is for adults, so treatments that address gender dysphoria in children remains a gray area.

    In 2014, Oregon became the first state to cover puberty blockers for youths under Medicaid, and California’s Department of Managed Health Care has also ordered insurers to cover care related to gender transition. But Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, a pediatrician and medical director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, said denials are still common.

    READ NEXT: Here’s what most people get wrong about the transgender community

    New York is the latest state to grapple with the issue, with three recent court decisions extending Medicaid coverage to trans people. In March 2015, the New York State Department of Health announced that Medicaid could cover some “medically necessary” services, a common designation used by insurers. Four months later, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff ruled that Medicaid must also cover procedures the state had previously called “cosmetic,” including breast augmentation and tracheal shaving. However, these decisions still excluded coverage for people under 18 years old.

    That changed in October of this year, when the New York State Department of Health filed a proposed rule that would extend its Medicaid coverage to treating gender dysphoria in individuals under 18. The department cannot officially adopt the rule until Dec. 5, after it has considered public comments. But the New York State Department of Health intends to move forward, according to a spokesman.

    The recent change in New York “is a great thing for transgender young people,” Kim Forte of the Legal Aid Society said. Her group along with The Sylvia Rivera Law Project and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP brought a lawsuit against the New York State Department of Health in 2014 that resulted in New York’s expansions of Medicaid coverage for trans people.

    “The truth of the matter is that this care can be life-saving for some people,” Forte said.

    [Watch Video] Puberty blockers, also called pubertal suppressants, work by blocking gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which signals and instructs the pituitary gland to create testosterone and estrogen during puberty. The drugs were originally developed to treat premature puberty and are currently used to remedy several conditions, including endometriosis and prostate cancer. The effects are reversible — if a patient stops taking the drugs, puberty will resume.

    Several doctors who treat trans patients told the PBS NewsHour that Lupron eases some of the distress associated with gender dysphoria in young adults.

    “Relieving gender dysphoria for a lot of these kids is like unleashing them finally into the world, to go be themselves,” Dr. Andrew Goodman, associate director of medicine at the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in New York City, said.

    This move could be significant for the transgender community, which is disproportionately affected by mental health issues. A 2011 survey of more than 7,500 transgender adults in the U.S. found 41 percent had attempted suicide, compared with 1.6 percent in the general population, while a Harvard study of 180 transgender patients at a Boston community center found that they were diagnosed with depression and anxiety at nearly twice the rate as non-transgender youth.

    No large-scale studies have examined the long-term effects of puberty blockers in the treatment of gender dysphoria. A 2010 study by researchers in the Netherlands found that “behavioral and emotional problems and depressive symptoms decreased, while general functioning improved significantly” among 70 people who were treated with puberty blockers between 2000 and 2008.

    Photo courtesy of Matt Pasini

    Now 19, Pasini is working on finishing a GED. Photo courtesy of Matt Pasini

    Pasini said he experienced hot flashes while adjusting to Lupron, a side effect listed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which also cites clinical studies linking Lupron to loss of bone density in patients who were using it to treat endometriosis and uterine fibroids. A recent Dutch study that followed 34 trans adolescents from the time they began puberty blockers until the age of 22 found no evidence of bone density loss.

    What’s the cost of care?

    At the moment doctors have to prescribe puberty blockers off-label for gender dysphoria, since the FDA has not approved puberty blockers to treat the condition. A spokesman for AbbVie, the manufacturer of Lupron in the U.S., said the company has never tested it for this purpose — and it has no plans to do so.

    This, along with questions about whether the treatment is medically necessary, contributes to some insurers denying coverage, according to Olson-Kennedy. She added that the FDA has not approved any other drug treatments for transgender transitioning. Without insurance, each monthly injection of Lupron can cost roughly anywhere from $1100 to $2500.

    “They’re not really affordable for your average person at all,” Olson-Kennedy said. “People take second [mortgages] out on their homes. They charge their credit cards. They do all kinds of things. It’s absurd … And people who don’t have the resources just don’t do it.”

    Dr. John Steever, who practices adolescent health at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York City, said that during the often-lengthy appeals process with insurance companies, families will pay out of pocket for the treatment.

    In one case, the mother of a 13-year-old transgender girl did not want to wait for the insurance appeal process, Steever said. “Before we could really do all the letters to the insurance company to get them to pay for it … the mom went out and just purchased it and just put it on her credit card. I was floored,” he said.

    Other families have purchased the medication from Canada or India because it’s cheaper, Steever said, adding that he does not encourage anyone to buy drugs on the black market.

    Taking Lupron can also prevent the costs of surgeries to change secondary sex characteristics, such as top surgery to remove breasts, Goodman said.

    “For an adult, once those changes have happened, they’re much more difficult to undo,” Goodman said. “If those changes never happen, it’s much easier to work with hormones and the other therapies we have.”

    Cindy, whose trans daughter Danielle began using Lupron at age 13, said that their insurance covered the drug for 18 months before suddenly stopping. (She asked that the NewsHour not use her last name.)

    The family enlisted a lawyer to help dispute the denial, who asked Danielle what would happen if she could not take Lupron anymore. She answered that she would kill herself.

    “She didn’t want to start growing a beard and an Adam’s apple and start turning into a man when that’s not who she is,” Cindy said of her daughter.

    During the insurance appeal, Cindy paid $1100 for one month of Lupron, a cost that was eventually reimbursed. But even if it hadn’t been, “we would find a way,” she said. “[Danielle] has a lot of support from both sides of her family and we’d figure it out. But I wouldn’t just stop her treatment.”

    The post NY will soon make it easier for trans youths to delay puberty appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man casts his vote into a mock ballot box at an election event hosted at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Kathmandu, Nepal November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar - RTX2SO5H

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Joining me now for more analysis of the recount efforts brewing in three states is NPR political reporter Tamara Keith.

    Tamara, let’s go back to Jill Stein’s website, because this is where this all started. It says the recount is needed in, quote, “three states where there is a significant need to verify machine counted vote totals,” end quote.

    So, there are two notable things about that sentence. Significant is underlined and the machine counted votes. What’s the subtext here?

    TAMARA KEITH, NPR POLITICAL REPORTER: She is definitely out to prove whether or not there was any tampering with the vote process. The Clinton campaign has looked into these things as well and they concluded that there wasn’t any sort of widespread evidence of tampering or hacking or rigging or any of those words that were thrown around leading into the election. The Clinton campaign’s conclusion was that they would not ask for a recount.

    Jill Stein though felt that a recount was in order to verify the integrity of the voting process and the voting systems.

    STEWART: As you mentioned, the Clinton campaign’s general counsel wrote in a lengthy post on Medium that they have done their own forensic analysis, they stand by the results, but they are going to send lawyers to be present.

    KEITH: Well, I think any reasonable campaign probably would do that and it’s entirely possible that Donald Trump’s campaign ultimately will send lawyers as well, because if there is a recount happening and your candidate is on the ballot, then it makes sense for the campaign if they have the funds to do it to send lawyers to be in court for hearings that may relate to how votes are recounted or processed.

    STEWART: Can you walk us through the nuts and bolts process of this, what’s going to happen in Wisconsin, and then possibly in Michigan and Pennsylvania?

    KEITH: Yes, so what’s happening right now is that the Elections Commission in Wisconsin has reached out to — there are hundreds of local municipal and county elections officials, registrars who are being asked to calculate the cost for this because it’s going to be sort of an extensive process. And then when the cost is figured out, both Jill Stein and Rocky De La Fuente, who is another independent candidate who also filed for a recount, they’ll be asked to split the cost. If they have the funds which they say they do, to move forward with paying for the recount, then the recount would begin.

    It’s likely to take several weeks and the Elections Commission in Wisconsin has already told local officials that they should be prepared to work nights and weekends to get this done.

    There could be legal hearings, disputes about exactly how the counting takes place and that will all play out in the coming days. And then, there are deadlines coming up in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Stein has said that she will file in those states as well. And she even tweeted that she would look to file for recount physician the funds are available in any state that has a deadline left to come.

    So, this could be a big thing but here’s the important part. It is highly unlikely to change the results of the election.

    STEWART: So, what does Jill Stein get out of all of this?

    KEITH: Well, Jill Stein is drawing attention to the election process, to the Green Party. The Green Party and Jill Stein now has a much bigger list of people and people who have given money to this effort. What they would do with that is unclear but lists are very valuable in politics.

    STEWART: Tamara Keith from NPR, thanks so much.

    KEITH: You’re welcome.

    The post With recount efforts brewing in three states, what now? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks to members of the media after their meeting with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTSSF7G

    Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks to members of the media after their meeting with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Nov. 19, 2016. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — A top Donald Trump adviser warned Sunday that the president-elect’s supporters would feel “betrayed” if he tapped former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as secretary of state, a move that would put a once fierce Trump critic in a powerful Cabinet post.

    The comments from Kellyanne Conway deepened a highly unusual push by some Trump allies to stop the president-elect from nominating Romney. The extraordinary public nature of the effort has also stirred speculation that it could be a Trump-approved attempt to humiliate a prominent Republican who staunchly opposed him throughout the presidential campaign.

    Conway, who served as Trump’s campaign manager and is part of his transition team, said her opposition to Romney reflected what she’s been hearing from Trump voters.

    “People feel betrayed to think that Gov. Romney, who went out of his way to question the character and the intellect and the integrity of Donald Trump, now our president-elect, would be given the most significant cabinet post of all,” Conway said in one of several television interviews Sunday. She said Romney was “nothing but awful” to Trump for a year.

    Conway’s opposition to Romney is also said to be supported by Steve Bannon, the controversial conservative media executive who will serve as Trump’s White House senior adviser.

    People involved in the transition process said Trump’s decision on his secretary of state did not appear to be imminent.

    [Watch Video]

    Trump is an avid consumer of television news and his advisers and allies often use their appearances to send messages to Trump or the Republican establishment. Still, it’s rare for Conway and other close aides who speak frequently with Trump in private to be so explicit about their views in public. That makes it seem at least possible that Conway was acting at Trump’s behest by suggesting the president-elect was being generous by considering his former political rival.

    Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee, vigorously challenged Trump’s fitness for the presidency, including his foreign policy credentials. In a wide-ranging condemnation of Trump in March, Romney said the businessman’s bombast was “alarming the allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies.”

    Trump responded by mocking Romney, calling him a “choker” and saying he “walks like a penguin.”

    The freeze between two men appeared to thaw after they spoke by phone following the election. Romney then traveled to Trump’s New Jersey golf club for a private meeting to discuss the possibility of joining the administration.

    In nominating Romney, Trump would be signaling his willingness to heal campaign wounds and reach out to traditional Republicans who were deeply skeptical of his experience and temperament. Romney is well-liked by GOP lawmakers and was supported by numerous Republican national security experts during his failed White House bid.

    But Conway suggested those weren’t reasons enough to nominate Romney as the nation’s top diplomat.

    “I’m all for party unity, but I’m not sure that we have to pay for that with the secretary of State position,” Conway said.

    Despite the effort to discredit him, Romney is said to remain interested in serving in Trump’s Cabinet, though those close to him acknowledge his opposition to Trump during the campaign hurt his chances.

    Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was fiercely loyal to Trump throughout the campaign, quickly emerged as a front-runner for the secretary of state post and is still in contention. However, questions about his overseas business ties — as well as his own public campaigning for the job — are said to have given Trump pause.

    The wrangling over Romney and Giuliani has raised the possibility that Trump may go with a third option. His transition team has also considered Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton for the job.

    People with knowledge of the transition process say Trump is also considering retired Marine Gen. John Kelly for the post. Kelly met with the president-elect last week.

    Conway appeared Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” ABC’s “This Week,” and CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    AP writer Steve Peoples in West Palm Beach, Florida, contributed to this report.

    The post Trump aide steps up bid to block possible Romney nomination appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX2SVNW

    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at election night rally in Manhattan, New York, on Nov. 9, 2016. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President-elect Donald Trump claimed without evidence Sunday that “millions” voted illegally in the national election, scoffing at Hillary Clinton’s nearly 2 million edge in the popular vote and returning to his campaign mantra of a rigged race even as he prepares to enter the White House in less than two months.

    Trump and his lieutenants assailed an effort — now joined by Clinton — to recount votes in up to three battleground states, calling the push fraudulent, the work of “crybabies” and, in Trump’s estimation, “sad.”

    READ NEXT: Hillary Clinton is leading the popular vote after losing the election
    The president-elect went on to cast a shadow over the legitimacy of an election that he actually won, tweeting that “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” He provided further contended that if the popular vote determined the presidency, “It would have been much easier for me to win” it because he would have altered his campaign to pile up overall vote totals, not Electoral College votes.

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

    There’s been no indication of widespread vote manipulation, illegal voting or hacking that materially affected the outcome one way or the other. It’s that very lack of evidence that suggests Trump is likely to prevail in recounts.

    As Trump worked to fill foreign policy and national security posts in his Cabinet, a top adviser expressed astonishment that 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney remained under consideration for secretary of state after his campaign-long questioning of Trump’s character, intellect and integrity.

    Trump on Sunday tweeted part of Clinton’s concession speech, when she told supporters they must accept that “Donald Trump is going to be our president,” and snippets from her debate remarks, when she denounced the Republican nominee for refusing to say in advance that he would accept the Election Day verdict.

    This came on top of his saying it was a “scam” that Green Party nominee Jill Stein was revisiting the vote count in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Trump won Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and as of Wednesday, held a lead of almost 11,000 votes in Michigan, with the results awaiting state certification Monday. His Michigan margin was a hair’s breadth 0.22 percent of the state’s votes.

    [Watch Video]

    Clinton leads the national popular vote by close to 2 million votes, but Trump won 290 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232, not counting Michigan. She could conceivably tip the electoral balance in the remote event that all flipped to her in recounts.

    Trump planned to return to New York on Sunday after spending Thanksgiving weekend at his West Palm Beach estate. His transition team said the president-elect had scheduled a series of meetings Monday with prospective administration hires.

    Among the jobs Trump has still yet to fill: secretary of state. Internal division over the position again spilled out into the open on Sunday as Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway voiced her concerns with the possibility of Romney landing such a significant position.

    Trump supporters “feel a bit betrayed that you can get a Romney back in there after everything he did,” Conway said. “We don’t even know if he voted for Donald Trump. He and his consultants were nothing but awful to Donald Trump for a year.” She added that she was “reflecting what the grassroots are saying.”

    Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker are among other prospects to serve as the country’s top diplomat.

    “I’m all for party unity, but I’m not sure we have to pay for that with the secretary of state position,” Conway said.

    Trump’s incoming chief of staff, national party Chairman Reince Priebus, acknowledged that Romney would represent “a team of rivals concept.”

    Trump was mostly silent on the brewing recount effort until it became known that Clinton would join it, at least in Wisconsin. On Saturday, a day after Wisconsin officials said they would conduct the first presidential recount in the state’s history, Clinton campaign attorney Marc Elias said: “We intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides.”

    Elias said Clinton would take the same approach in Pennsylvania and Michigan if Stein were to follow through with recount requests in those states.

    That loosened Trump’s tongue.

    “Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “Nothing will change.”

    He quoted from her concession speech — “We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead” — and he concluded: “So much time and money will be spent – same result! Sad.”

    On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Conway said Stein, “the Hillary people” and others supporting recounts have to decide whether they are going to back a peaceful transition “or if they’re going to be a bunch of crybabies and sore losers about an election that they can’t turn around.”

    Priebus, on “Fox News Sunday,” called the effort a “total and complete distraction and a fraud and something that they should drop.”

    Clinton’s lawyer said her team has been combing through the results since the election in search of anomalies that would suggest hacking by Russians or others and found “no actionable evidence” of an altered outcome. Moreover, Elias said, Trump has a vote lead even in the closest states that well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount.

    But “we feel it is important, on principle, to ensure our campaign is legally represented in any court proceedings and represented on the ground in order to monitor the recount process itself,” he said.

    Trump beat Clinton in Wisconsin by fewer than 22,200 votes, less than 1 percent of votes cast. He won Pennsylvania by some 70,600 votes, just more than 1 percentage point over Clinton.

    Woodward reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Anne Flaherty also contributed to this report.

    The post Trump assails recount push, claims millions voted illegally appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Ohio State University issued a warning this morning that there was an active shooter on campus and students should “Run Hide Fight.” Early during the attack, witnesses reported hearing gunshots, but in the end the attacker did not use a firearm. Eight people were transported to the hospital. Injuries included stab wounds and person who was hit by a car during the attack. None of those taken to the hospital had life-threatening injuries, according to the AP. A spokesman for the university said the attacker had been shot and killed.

    As of 11:30 a.m. ET, the Ohio State University Twitter account announced the order to shelter in place had been lifted.

    This followed the earlier orders for students to shelter in place.

    More details of the attack have not yet been confirmed. Earlier reports identified this event as an active shooting, but use of a gun by the assailant or assailants has not yet been confirmed. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

    The post 8 taken to Columbus area hospital after attack at Ohio State University, attacker killed appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Getty Images

    Photo by Getty Images

    When I walked out of the Rose Bowl game in Pasadena on New Year’s Day, 1959 (Iowa 38, California 12), there were newsboys at the exits hawking late edition papers with screaming headlines announcing that the revolutionary Fidel Castro had taken over Cuba, forcing the dictator Fulgencia Batista to flee.

    Those were the days when newspapers had late editions, and people, even on the west coast, bought them on the street. Those days are gone, and so is the enthusiasm for Castro that seemed to permeate the U.S. and Cuba as well. Bastista had been seen as corrupt and dictatorial and in the pocket of American gangsters who ran the island to maximize profits from gambling and prostitution. Americans flocked to Havana for the fun, but they knew the government was corrupt and the population hardly sharing in the prosperity of the hotels along the Malecon.

    Castro was a hero, a young activist who had hidden in the mountains, seen many of his co-revolutionaries slain in battles with Bastista’s troops, only to persevere and finally come down from the hills to conquer. Americans — whose own country was forged in revolution –were inspired by this act of rebellion on an island just 90 miles off the coast of Florida.

    He admitted his support would naturally drop as factions and ultimately parties developed. “Then Cuba will hold elections,” he promised the Princeton conference.At Princeton University, where one of the key battles of our revolution was fought and won by George Washington in 1777, Castro’s triumph almost exactly 182 years later was welcomed warmly. The Special Program in American Civilization, in which I was enrolled at the time, had as its theme that year “The United States and the Revolutionary Spirit”, and Cuba’s successful revolt fit right into our course of study. Cuba’s new prime minister seemed–at the time–to precisely embody that revolutionary spirit. He was invited to the university to speak to our conference, and when he accepted, tickets were prized, but I managed to score one. I have kept it ever since.

    In April he showed up, as I wrote at the time, dressed in army boots, fatigues, his army jacket and his famous beard. A crowd gathered in front of Woodrow Wilson Hall cheering his arrival. And like a vote-seeking politician, he stopped his car along the route, got out and chatted with his admirers. In the conference hall, the conferees gave him a standing ovation. He joked, while stroking his whiskers, that one of the hotbeds of resistance to his new government were the barbershops. He spoke in what I described then as “very intelligible English, though he occasionally asked an interpreter for a word or two.”

    castro-ticket

    What he said is curious, when looked at 57 years later at the time of his death, a time when Cuban Americans danced in the streets of Miami on hearing the news. “Ninety-four percent of the Cuban population was and still is in favor of the revolution,” he declared, “despite the fact that there was not widespread starvation in Cuba.” That popular support was the reason his “26th of July Movement” could defy predictions and overcome Bastista’s modern army. But he admitted his support would naturally drop as factions and ultimately parties developed. “Then Cuba will hold elections,” he promised the Princeton conference.

    The promise of democracy in Cuba didn’t happen; the leader, who five months later told a meeting at the United Nations in New York that he was not a communist, declared in late 1961 he was a “Marxist-Leninist.” Relations between the U.S. and Castro’s Cuba deteriorated very quickly, as he eliminated opposition by firing squad and American companies by nationalization. Thousands of Cubans left the country.

    The ideals of equality, free elections, and the end of the aristocracy gave way to a totalitarian state where prosperity was elusive, despite free health care and a better education system. In America, the great popular enthusiasm that had greeted his New Year’s Day victory waned. More than half a century after his joyous, optimistic trip to Princeton, free elections and free speech remain unfulfilled promises. Still, the spirit of his revolution-–the overthrow of a corrupt dictatorship, the promise of a better, more egalitarian life–continues to inspire some Americans who look to their own revolutionary roots and see a more successful parallel.

    The post A ticket to Castro’s revolution – but never punched appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Dylann Roof, charged with murdering nine worshippers at a historic black church in Charleston last month, listens to the proceedings with assistant defense attorney William Maguire during a hearing at the Judicial Center in Charleston

    Roof will be allowed to represent himself, but can rely on help from his lawyers. Photo by Randall Hill/Reuters

    A federal judge granted Dylann Roof’s request Monday to represent himself in an upcoming murder trial.

    Roof, who is white, is accused of fatally shooting nine black members of the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in June 2015. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel called Roof’s decision “unwise” but ruled the accused has the capacity and right to represent himself in court. Roof’s lawyers will still be allowed to stay by him and help him if he asks them to do so.

    The 22-year-old is being charged with 33 federal crimes. Among those are nine counts of murder, 12 counts of violating the Hate Crime Act, nine counts of obstruction of exercise of religion resulting in death and nine counts of use of a firearm to commit murder.

    Roof has pleaded not guilty.

    Jury selection is also underway. The judge is first questioning each potential juror, the Associated Press reported. Once 70 are selected, the lawyers from each side will be allowed to question and dismiss some of those they do not want on the jury.

    If Roof is convicted, the Justice Department plans to seek the death penalty.

    “The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in May.

    Shortly after the shooting, police discovered Roof had posted pictures of himself with Confederate and Nazi symbols and uploaded a manifesto that criticized black people as inferior. One of the church’s survivors also said Roof told her that he let her live so she could tell the world about the shootings.

    After a mental evaluation, Roof was deemed competent to stand trial last week. Judge Gergel sealed his reasons for the finding, saying the information could prevent Roof from having a fair trial, according to the Associated Press.

    The trial is expected to start in early 2017.

    In June, Rev. Betty Deas, who took over as pastor of Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church after Rev. Clementa Pinckney was killed in the shooting, spoke with Jeffrey Brown to reflect on the tragedy and its aftermath one year later.

    The post Judge grants Dylann Roof’s request to act as his own lawyer appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein arrives on the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in July. Photo by Dominick Reuter/Reuters

    The Green Party says it will ask a Pennsylvania court to order a statewide recount of the state’s Nov. 8 presidential election result. Photo by Dominick Reuter/Reuters

    HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Green Party says it will ask a Pennsylvania court to order a statewide recount of the state’s Nov. 8 presidential election result.

    But it’s unclear if the courts would have authority to do so.

    A lawyer for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein wouldn’t discuss what would be alleged in the expected lawsuit Monday.

    Republican President-elect Donald Trump edged Democrat Hillary Clinton by about 71,000 votes, or about 1 percent, in Pennsylvania.

    Democratic Secretary of State Pedro Cortes says there’s no evidence of voting irregularities or cyberattacks on Pennsylvania’s electronic voting machines.

    A GOP lawyer says the courts lack authority to order a statewide recount. Cortes says he’s also unaware of the courts having authority to do so.

    Voters can still ask for a precinct-level recount in certain counties.

    The post Green Party eyes recount in Pennsylvania, but legal authority is unclear appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Joe H 3

    Poet Joseph Hutchison says he wrote “The Greatest Show on Earth” four years ago when he was watching yet another chaotic Presidential election process unfold.

    “It was a response to the circus that we make of elections and how political figures treat the whole thing as a show and the audience tends to accept it as that and respond to it as such.”

    “The role of poet is to deepen the understanding of what we’re faced with, the images we’re faced with and reveal the deeper layers and the deeper currents so that people have a context instead of accepting images at face value.”

    He said that while this is a trend that has been happening for decades, he certainly never imagined that it would devolve into the circus of 2016.

    “If journalists had covered Trump as a serious candidate, he probably wouldn’t have won. But they treated him for too long as a sideshow and Americans like sideshows.”

    Hutchison said Daniel Boorstin’s 1962 classic book “The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America” was probably in the back of his mind as he composed the poem. Boorstin argues that press conferences and presidential debates are “pseudo events” which are manufactured solely in order to be reported and that the contemporary definition of celebrity is “a person who is known for his well-knownness.” Hutchison says as a poet he likes to look beyond those superficial images.

    “Poetry has traditionally offered a critique of society, of politics, of oppressive systems. The role of poet is to deepen the understanding of what we’re faced with, the images we’re faced with and reveal the deeper layers and the deeper currents so that people have a context instead of accepting images at face value.”

    Read next: This poet worries about not being able to protect his son from violence

    Two years ago Hutchison was named poet laureate of Colorado. He says one of his goals is to expand the way poetry is taught in the schools.

    “We tend to use poetry to teach technical language like metaphor, meter and rhyme. But poetry is a way of knowledge, just as novels or essays are. Poets address everything from history to science to mathematics to art. And I want to encourage teachers to use poetry across all disciplines.”

    The Greatest Show on Earth

    The clown car careens into the bright-lit
    center ring, buzzing like a baby chainsaw.
    Smoke corkscrews from the tiny tailpipe,
    the horn bleats and squalls. Now it brakes,
    fishtails, skids sideways and heaves to a halt,
    rocking on lackadaisical springs. The motor
    pops and sputters, the tinted glass doors

    stay shut. The audience leans forward.
    Nothing happens—only spotlight beams
    sweeping over, away and back. And soon,
    frustration crackles in the bleachers. Gripes,
    scattered curses, threats. Nothing happens!
    Inside the car’s a motley gaggle of eager
    Armageddonites, ex-CIA think tankers,

    talk radio megastars, flaks for Big Oil—
    all playing rock, paper, scissors. The victor
    gets to clamber out and take first crack
    at deceiving the crowd. Oh, how abashed
    they’d be to find the Big Top almost empty!
    Just a few gloomy diehards left, their eyes
    and nostrils stung raw by exhaust, lungs

    too choked for cheers. Imagine the rest
    headed home: toddlers riding their parents’
    shoulders, the older kids kicking leaves,
    all gazing up past bare birch branches
    into the red-shifting heart of inexhaustible
    openness, the profusion of its forms, feeling
    small and glad in the star-spangled night.

    From “The World As Is: New & Selected Poems, 1972-2015.” Reprinted by permission of the author.


    Joseph Hutchison is the Colorado Poet Laureate. He has published 17 books, including his latest “The World As Is: New & Selected Poems 1972-2015.” He has also co-edited two anthologies. He lives in the mountains southwest of Denver, Colorado, the city where he was born. He teaches at the University of Denver’s University College, where he currently directs two programs: Arts & Culture and Global Affairs.

    The post A poet squeezes the presidential election into a clown car appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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