Articles on this Page
- 12/12/16--12:56: _Retrial set for Cin...
- 12/12/16--13:22: _Herbal drug kratom ...
- 12/12/16--14:35: _Following recounts,...
- 12/12/16--14:59: _Top GOP leaders bac...
- 12/12/16--15:20: _Nashville’s storied...
- 12/12/16--15:25: _When will Trump add...
- 12/12/16--15:30: _‘Repeal and replace...
- 12/12/16--15:35: _In debate on Russia...
- 12/12/16--15:40: _News Wrap: Syrian f...
- 12/12/16--15:45: _To deny Russian inv...
- 12/12/16--15:50: _Top GOP lawmakers, ...
- 12/13/16--12:37: _Helping veterans tu...
- 12/13/16--12:41: _Asian envoys urge T...
- 12/13/16--13:32: _Column: Most teens ...
- 12/13/16--13:40: _Gambian president r...
- 12/13/16--14:05: _How vital is the pr...
- 12/13/16--14:10: _Rebuffing Trump tea...
- 12/13/16--15:20: _One painter on why ...
- 12/13/16--15:25: _How the big biomedi...
- 12/13/16--15:30: _What international ...
- 12/12/16--12:56: Retrial set for Cincinnati officer who shot unarmed driver DuBose
- 12/12/16--14:35: Following recounts, Trump remains winner in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania
- 12/12/16--14:59: Top GOP leaders back congressional probes into Russian hacking
- 12/12/16--15:20: Nashville’s storied music spaces threatened with silence
- 12/12/16--15:25: When will Trump address possible conflicts of interest?
- 12/12/16--15:40: News Wrap: Syrian forces on the verge of recapturing Aleppo
- 12/12/16--15:50: Top GOP lawmakers, Trump at odds over Russia allegations
- 12/13/16--13:32: Column: Most teens can’t tell fake from real news
- 12/13/16--14:05: How vital is the president’s daily intelligence briefing?
- 12/13/16--15:20: One painter on why understanding art is as simple as looking
- 12/13/16--15:25: How the big biomedical bill advances U.S. mental health care
- 12/13/16--15:30: What international teens think about school in America
A former University of Cincinnati police officer who shot an unarmed motorist in 2015 will be retried in May 2017.
Ray Tensing fatally shot Sam DuBose, a black man, in the head during a traffic stop for a missing license plate. Tensing, who is white, testified that he pulled the trigger because he was afraid of being run over and killed by the car.
The first trial ended in a mistrial on Nov. 12, WLWT5 reported. The jury, which included two black and 10 white jurors, could not reach a verdict after 25 hours of deliberation, according to the Associated Press.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that questionnaires showed four jurors believed certain races or groups were more violent than others. Another juror, who has an uncle and friend who are police officers, said police “should be given the benefit of the doubt.”
“I think many jurors see police officers as the living embodiment of the law and with great deference,” said Hank Fradella, associate director and professor at Arizona State University’s School of Criminology. “But the law itself gives police officers the benefit of the doubt.”
Tensing was charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter after the July 2015 shooting. Prosecutors plan to retry him on both counts.
Judge Leslie Ghiz will oversee the new trial after two other judges recused themselves from the case, which is scheduled for May 25.
This is the second mistrial in a month in a case where police fatally shot a black man. A judge declared a mistrial in the case of officer Michael Slager, who shot Walter Scott in Charleston, South Carolina on Dec. 5.
“I think the bigger question is when you have law enforcement officer that says ‘I felt my life was in danger,’ getting a conviction for anything to do with a law enforcement’s use of force is a real uphill battle because the law defers to the police officer’s judgement,” said Fradella.
Tensing’s retrial will take place in the Cincinnati Hamilton County Court, despite the prosecutor’s request to move it to another county.
The post Retrial set for Cincinnati officer who shot unarmed driver DuBose appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Kratom, a leafy-green herbal supplement used by an estimated 3 to 5 million Americans, has inspired tens of thousands of responses in a public comment period over its possible controlled substance designation by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
The substance is derived from a Southeast Asian plant that belongs to the same family as coffee. It’s ground down into an earthy-green powder and then put inside capsules or mixed into a liquid and sipped like tea. Depending on how much is ingested, it can act as a stimulant or a painkiller.
Kratom has been used for hundreds of years in places like Thailand, but only within the last few years has it became popular in the U.S. It is widely available online and in convenience stores.
It grabbed the attention of the DEA when calls to poison control centers increased ten-fold from 2010 to 2015. Most callers complained about effects such as increased heart rate, agitation, drowsiness, nausea, and hypertension. One death was reported in a person who was also on an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer. So far, in 2016, the American Association of Poison Control Centers has received around 480 calls about kratom. (For context, critics cite that the center has received more than 10,000 calls just this year for laundry detergent pods.)
In Illinois, where earlier this year the federal government confiscated hundreds of thousands of dollars of kratom, the state’s poison control center has received 24 calls so far this year, in comparison with five in 2015. For perspective, there have been 1,772 calls for prescription opioids in 2016 so far.
Michael Wahl, the medical director of the Illinois Poison Center said most of the calls came from hospital emergency centers where users experienced more serious effects like hallucinations, seizures, and withdrawal from the plant.
In August, in response to the uptick in calls to poison control centers, the DEA announced emergency scheduling of the legal drug, which would have temporarily made kratom a Schedule I substance like heroin, banning the substance and bypassing the normal process.
However, pushback from the public and members of Congress resulted in an unprecedented reversal. The DEA withdrew the immediate scheduling, and opened a public comment period that ended Dec. 1.
The DEA received some 23,210 comments online, an abnormally high amount, according to DEA spokesperson Melvin Patterson. He said all comments will be taken into consideration in the search to find out which benefits, if any, kratom provides. Personal stories offered by commenters could help the DEA make a decision despite a lack of research on and knowledge of the drug’s effects.
Dr. Richard Clark of U.C. San Diego’s toxicology department says our lack of knowledge is exactly why we should be cautious. “The most educated way to approaching it is, if we don’t know much, we ought to be careful, and maybe banning it is the right way to go so it doesn’t hit the streets full force,” Clark said.
Clark is concerned about how the herb affects our brain, and in particular how it interacts with our brain’s opioid receptors. “We know that most drugs that affect those receptors can build up tolerance and dependence, and there are a couple cases that I’ve seen that suggest that people can get dependent and addicted on kratom.”
Andrew Turner, a Maryland resident who became active in efforts to keep kratom legal, will be personally affected by the DEA’s decision. He spent more than nine years in the U.S. military, serving in Iraq, Jordan, and South Korea. His experience landed him a long list of ailments like severe PTSD, cluster headaches and degenerative disc disease.
“All these things work against me, and it makes life hard to deal with,”Turner said.
He received painkillers and other pharmaceuticals from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but found that the prescription drugs did not help him, and the side effects were damaging.
After finding kratom about two years ago he hasn’t taken anything else for his pain, aside from the occasional Tylenol.
“Kratom doesn’t fix the symptoms but it gives me an overall sense of well-being,” Turner said. “The ticks go away, my speech is much more eased. It’d be awesome if it were a magical cure; it isn’t, but it helps.”
Along with the comments, the DEA will receive analysis from the FDA, which will assess the drug based on eight factors. Patterson says the decision will be largely dependent on this analysis.
An advocacy group called the American Kratom Association conducted a study using the same eight-factor analysis, headed by a researcher previously with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). It concluded that there was “insufficient evidence for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to ban or otherwise restrict the coffee-like herb kratom under the Controlled Substances Act.”
Once the DEA receives the FDA assessment and goes through the public comments, there are a couple of possible outcomes: it could return to emergency scheduling putting kratom into Schedule I immediately; the DEA could go through routine scheduling opening up another public comment period; or scheduling could not be pursued at all.
Turner, the military veteran, knows kratom has to go through the DEA’s process and welcomes regulation, but he doesn’t believe it’s being given a fair assessment.
“It’s going to need some sort of regulation. Healthy oversight helps the market and helps the consumer and I think that’s what everyone is hoping for,” said Turner. “But we don’t get the feeling that the DEA is even trying to make it safe, because if they ban it they are going to create a black market.”
For now, kratom is legal, but considered a drug of concern. Online shops and brick and mortar stores selling kratom are doing so legally.
A petition with more than 145,000 signatures reached the threshold to warrant comment from the White House. The Obama administration has no deadline to comment and has not yet weighed in, although they are expected to give remarks.
The post Herbal drug kratom faces uncertain legal future, despite public outpouring appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Presidential election recount efforts came to an end Monday in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, with both states certifying Republican Donald Trump as the winner in contests that helped put him over the top in the Electoral College stakes.
Trump’s victory in Wisconsin was reaffirmed following a statewide vote recount that showed him defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton by more than 22,000 votes. Meanwhile, a federal judge issued a stinging rejection of a Green Party-backed request to recount paper ballots in Pennsylvania’s presidential election and scan some counties’ election systems for signs of hacking.
Green Party candidate Jill Stein successfully requested and paid for the Wisconsin recount while her attempts for similar statewide recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan were blocked by the courts.
Stein got only about 1 percent of the vote in each of the three states that Trump narrowly won over Clinton. Stein argued, without evidence, that voting machines in all three states were susceptible to hacking. All three states were crucial to Trump’s victory, having last voted for a Republican for president in the 1980s.
The numbers barely budged in Wisconsin after nearly 3 million votes were recounted. Trump, a billionaire New York real estate mogul, picked up 162 votes and still won by more than 22,000 votes. The final results changed just 0.06 percent.
In Pennsylvania, state officials certified the results of the election in the hours following the decision by U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond.
Trump beat Clinton in the state by about 44,000 votes out of 6 million cast, or less than 1 percent, according to the final tally after weeks of counting provisional and overseas ballots. Green Party voters had petitioned some counties to do partial recounts, affecting few votes, county officials said.
Diamond said there were at least six grounds that required him to reject the Green Party’s lawsuit, which had been opposed by Trump, the Pennsylvania Republican Party and the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office.
Suspicion of a hacked Pennsylvania election “borders on the irrational” while granting the Green Party’s recount bid could “ensure that no Pennsylvania vote counts” given Tuesday’s federal deadline to certify the vote for the Electoral College, wrote Diamond, an appointee of Republican former President George W. Bush.
“Most importantly, there is no credible evidence that any ‘hack’ occurred, and compelling evidence that Pennsylvania’s voting system was not in any way compromised,” Diamond wrote.
He said the lawsuit suffered from a lack of standing, potentially the lack of federal jurisdiction and an “unexplained, highly prejudicial” wait before filing last week’s lawsuit, four weeks after the Nov. 8 election.
The decision was the Green Party’s latest roadblock in Pennsylvania after hitting numerous walls in county and state courts. Green Party-backed lawyers argue it was possible that computer hackers changed the election outcome and that Pennsylvania’s heavy use of paperless machines makes it a prime target. Stein also contended Pennsylvania has erected unconstitutional barriers to voters seeking a recount.
A lawyer for the Green Party members said Monday they were disappointed and unable to immediately say whether they would appeal.
“But one thing is clear,” said the lawyer, Ilann Maazel. “The Pennsylvania election system is not fair to voters and voters don’t know if their votes counted, and that’s a very large problem.”
A federal judge halted Michigan’s recount last week after three days. Trump won Michigan by fewer than 11,000 votes out of nearly 4.8 million votes cast.
The post Following recounts, Trump remains winner in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Congress’ top Republicans on Monday endorsed investigations into the CIA’s belief that Russia meddled in last month’s election to help Donald Trump win, suggesting potential battles ahead with the incoming commander in chief over Moscow and U.S. intelligence.
“The Russians are not our friends,” declared Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as GOP leaders steered toward a path contrasting starkly with the president-elect’s belittling dismissal of the spy agency’s assessment and his past praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Senate’s intelligence panel, led by Richard Burr, R-N.C., will conduct a bipartisan inquiry, according to McConnell, who also expressed support for a related probe by the Armed Services Committee, chaired by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Though declining to say whether he believes Russia tried tilting the election toward Trump, McConnell said, “I hope that those who are going to be in positions of responsibility in the new administration share my view” about Moscow.
Shortly afterward, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., released a statement backing an investigation the House Intelligence Committee has already started on cyber threats posed by foreign countries and extremist groups. He called any Russian intervention “especially problematic because under President Putin, Russia has been an aggressor that consistently undermines American interests.”
Underscoring the possible collisions ahead between Trump and the men leading his party in Congress, McConnell and Ryan struck tones markedly more confrontational toward Russia than he has.
Trump on Sunday called the CIA’s contention “ridiculous” and blamed the disclosures concerning its assessment on Democrats who he said were embarrassed over losing last month’s election.
The GOP leaders expressed their views after a weekend in which Trump also said he would not need daily intelligence briefings, a staple of presidents’ days for decades and a flouting of a convention common for presidential transitions.
Meanwhile, Trump continued his cavalcade of meetings in his Trump Tower offices in New York on Monday with potential appointees for his new administration and other leading GOP, congressional and corporate figures. Among them was Carly Fiorina, who unsuccessfully vied with Trump this year for their party’s nomination.
Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, was there to discuss national security issues and is seen by some Trump advisers as a candidate to be director of national intelligence, overseeing the government’s 17 intelligence agencies. She chaired an external CIA advisory board under President George W. Bush but has not worked for the federal government.
Fiorina said her conversation with Trump included “hacking, whether it’s Chinese hacking or purported Russian hacking.”
Others meeting with Trump included moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, No. 3 House GOP leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, another GOP presidential contender whom Trump defeated.[Watch Video]
The Washington Post reported that the CIA has determined that Russian hacking was, in fact, an attempt to help President-elect Donald Trump win the White House. Trump’s team questioned the report’s credibility in a statement Friday. Greg Miller of the Washington Post, who helped break the story, joins Alison Stewart.
The campaign chairman for defeated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged the Obama administration Monday to reveal what it knows about any Russian efforts to help Trump win. John Podesta, whose emails were stolen and posted online, said the administration “owes it to the American people” to release details of the intrusions, which included the hacking of Democratic Party files.
Podesta said the Clinton campaigns also supports a call by 10 of the 538 members of the Electoral College for National Intelligence Director James Clapper to provide information that intelligence agencies have gathered on the subject.
All 10 are unlikely to vote for Trump when the Electoral College meets next Monday. Nine are Democrats, and Texas Republican Chris Suprun has said he won’t vote for Trump.
Other Democrats calling for congressional investigations of Russia’s role in the elections include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
“There must be no equivocation or ignoring the seriousness of the intelligence community’s conclusion about Russia’s actions,” she said.
McConnell said he has “the highest confidence” in U.S. intelligence agencies and said it “defies belief” that Senate Republicans would be reluctant to scrutinize Russian tactics. He recounted Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, said Baltic nation leaders are nervous about Moscow and pointedly praised NATO, the alliance that Trump criticized repeatedly during his campaign.
“I think we ought to approach all of these issues on the assumption that the Russians do not wish us well,” McConnell said.
In a nod to the Trump assertion about Democrats’ motives, Ryan said the congressional inquiries “should not cast doubt on the clear and decisive outcome of this election.”
As expected, Trump’s transition team formally announced he would name Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn, 56, to head the White House National Economic Council. The council provides policy advice to the president.
Trump’s team also said he’d picked Gen. John Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly is a former commander of U.S. Southern Command.
AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace and reporter Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.
The post Top GOP leaders back congressional probes into Russian hacking appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Nashville often likes to refer to itself as Music City. And given its history and heritage, that seems just right.
But as real estate development explodes in one of the nation’s fastest growing cities, some of the very studios, locations and neighborhoods that were so important to country music, and the industry as a whole, are now threatened.
Jeffrey Brown reports. It’s part of his ongoing series on Culture at Risk.
JEFFREY BROWN: Inside an unassuming house on Nashville’s 16th Avenue South, guitarist Philip Shouse is laying down a track at the recording studio House of David. Meanwhile, just up the road, the punk rock group Paramore is recording percussion in RCA Studio A for the group’s forthcoming album.
It’s just another day on Music Row, the collection of recording studios, publishing houses and offices two miles southwest of downtown Nashville and its famous honky-tonks, and the place collectively responsible for an important part of the nation’s music industry.
TAYLOR YORK, Paramore: From, like, the early days even to present, there’s been such an amazing group of people that have recorded here, you know, and when you walk into a room, you really can feel an energy and an inspiration.
JEFFREY BROWN: It all began in the 1950s, with
Owen and Harold Bradley, brothers who opened a recording studio in a converted home in this part of town.
Other studios, like Capitol, Decca, and RCA Victor followed, and in 1957, RCA victor’s Nashville division, headed by Chet Atkins, opened Studio B, where Elvis Presley would record many of his most famous hits.
A few years later, in 1963, Studio A was built next door. And between the two, the likes of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, and many more recorded hit records.
With the studios came the musicians, the publishers, the lawyers and others, a clustering that created a music industry.
CAROLYN BRACKETT, National Trust for Historic Preservation: All of those are still here. And so you still have that sense of community.
JEFFREY BROWN: Carolyn Brackett is a Nashville native with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
CAROLYN BRACKETT: It’s something that we have maybe taken for granted, because you can walk by these buildings or drive by a lot of them and not realize that this incredible music was made in that old house or in this small building.
And so a lot of the work that we have done in the last couple of years has been to document the history of Music Row all the way up to the present, what’s happening here today.
JEFFREY BROWN: What’s happening here today is that this history is being threatened by the rising demand for housing and office space in what is one of the nation’s fastest growing cities and hottest markets.
SHARON CORBITT-HOUSE, Partner, All Good Factory: There is a culture that we have been very fortunate to have on Music Row, and it’s been squeezed.
JEFFREY BROWN: Sharon Corbitt-House, known as Music Row Mama up and down these streets, has been managing talent and producers at RCA Studio A for years.
Two years ago, one of her clients, Ben Folds, learned the building was being sold and that he was being evicted. Folds wrote an open letter to Nashville’s community that went viral. And at the 11th hour, as the building was about to be sold to a new developer who would tear it down, developer and philanthropist Aubrey Preston stepped in to save it.
AUBREY PRESTON, Developer/Philanthropist: I believe in Music City. It would be the equivalent of, in Egypt, them allowing one of their three pyramids or something to be torn down. I believe it would just — it’s just an impossibility that this building would be torn down.
JEFFREY BROWN: The new producer in residence at Studio A is Dave Cobb, responsible for albums from Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton, who took home last year’s Grammy for best country album, “Traveller,” recorded at Studio A.
DAVE COBB, Producer in Residence, Studio A: Oh, yes, you feel the walls. I mean, you kind of know what was recorded there, and when you’re actually in the space and you realize that, you know, that’s where Waylon Jennings recorded “Daddy Walk the Line” and that’s where Dolly Parton did “Jolene,” and you’re actually in the same space, it takes on a whole new, you know, emotion.
And those records, I adore. And I feel like, when I make records, I chase those sounds.
JEFFREY BROWN: This studio has been saved, but many others are gone.
Carolyn Brackett took us to a new development called Crescent Music Row, the former site of Sound Shop Studio, where Paul McCartney recorded with Wings in the 1970s.
CAROLYN BRACKETT: Most of them are high-rises. And what’s happening as they push further into Music Row is that we’re losing a lot of the historic buildings that were studios, were music offices, publishers were located.
JEFFREY BROWN: Also compounding the studios’ problems, the music business isn’t what it used to be, and many recording studios don’t earn what they used to because of the rise of more affordable software and equipment.
DAVID BRIGGS, Owner, House of David: I have been offered, you know, a $1.7 million for any building I have every week.
David Briggs is the owner of the House of David studios.
JEFFREY BROWN: And you say?
DAVID BRIGGS: No.
JEFFREY BROWN: Because?
DAVID BRIGGS: Because I want these to stay. The first thing they will do is tear them down and build — especially if you — I have three lots together. They could build a pretty nice skyscraper here.
JEFFREY BROWN: Briggs himself is a Nashville institution, a session player, producer and music publisher who’s worked with Elvis and a host of other stars.
DAVID BRIGGS: There used to be 80 studios here within three or four blocks. Now I doubt if there’s 20.
JEFFREY BROWN: The House of David was just added to the National Register of Historic Places, joining three other studios on Music Row. They’re among 200 buildings documented by the National Trust that are connected to the rise of country music, as well as the music industry as a whole.
The city’s Metropolitan Planning Commission and stakeholders are now working to finalize a plan to recognize historic buildings, with backing from the National Park Service.
SHARON CORBITT-HOUSE: I think it’s really important that we’re leaving it better than we found it. We have got to make sure that we’re taking care of the creative community, people who came here to be creatives, and do it the way we have always done it, which is support one another.
JEFFREY BROWN: It’s a difficult balancing act between celebrating the past and making room for the future.
From Music Row in Nashville, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the “PBS NewsHour.”
The post Nashville’s storied music spaces threatened with silence appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We take a broader look at the latest twists and turns in the Trump transition now with our Politics Monday team, Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.
And welcome to you both. It’s Monday. It’s good to see you.
So, Tamara, we have some, I think, breaking news. We had expected Donald Trump this week to announce how he’s going to handle all of his businesses. And what have you learned?
TAMARA KEITH, NPR: Yes, all of the entanglements and potential conflicts of interest, he was supposed to address that in a news conference on Thursday.
NPR’s Domenico Montanaro has confirmed that that news conference is not happening and that now there will be an announcement, not necessarily a news conference, sometime in January.
So, for two weeks, Donald Trump had the benefit of people reporting that he was going to have a news conference to announce his conflicts of interest, and how he was going to resolve that. And now that is postponed.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Amy, I won’t ask you to speculate about what is going on, because it has just broken. But it does — this is something we have been waiting to learn from Donald Trump.
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Well, and it is something that he is asked continually. He was just asked this weekend in an interview with FOX News’ Chris Wallace about how this was going to work.
And he seemed to suggest that it was going to be pretty easy, that his children will run the business, he is going to stay out of it, but his children will do it, and if his children who are doing it, then it means he personally doesn’t have a vested interest in the success.
Chris Wallace pushed him on this, saying, well, you know, if your children do well, that’s — for your business — that is probably helping you.
Didn’t really clear up all of the potential controversies there. And this comes on top of the fact that you have a number of members now that Donald Trump has offered up as Cabinet appointments who may have their own conflicts of interest. Those are going to be addressed in hearings.
TAMARA KEITH: Well, and Donald Trump in that same interview talked about wanting his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner to be able to do work with the administration. But then also he wants them to have some involvement with the business still.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes. Yes. And so we now wait for at least, what, three more weeks before…
TAMARA KEITH: January.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We don’t have a date.
Well, the lead story tonight — and, Amy, I will turn to you on this — is this extraordinary situation where we now have the CIA saying flat out that the Russians interfered, tried to influence the U.S. election.
Now, they’re concluding that the Russians did it in order to help Donald Trump. The FBI isn’t there yet. But now you have a congressional investigation called for. This is — where are we?
AMY WALTER: It — you know, Judy, like, this is the election that will never end. Right? 2016 will continue to go on and on and on.
Look, where we are right now, you have the CIA — again, this is a document that was leaked. They haven’t come out publicly, made a public statement about this, but was leaked to The Washington Post that they have determined that the Russians were involved in, not just hacking e-mails, but in trying to ensure that Donald Trump was elected.
Congressional leaders in the House and the Senate on the Republican side taking a look at this, basically, what they’re saying is, they’re not going as far as Donald Trump is saying, this is absolutely ridiculous, I don’t believe this is possible.
They do say, this is something we need to look into, but what we’re not going to do is set up a special investigation. It’s going to go through normal procedure. We’re not going to set up something like a 9/11 Commission, something like that to look at this.
And so what you have is the president being much more direct in pushing back, Republicans saying it is worth looking at. But they’re also saying, we don’t want to politicize this. And we certainly don’t want to — and I think that it was Paul Ryan who said specifically that it shouldn’t — we should make a clear and decisive outcome. We shouldn’t cast doubt on a clear and decisive outcome of this election. In other words, let’s try to look at this without politicizing this.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Tamara, should that be a question now? Does this potentially undermine the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s win here?
TAMARA KEITH: So, it depends on how you talk about undermining and legitimacy.
The Obama administration is also calling for a broad review of the election hacking and hacking in past elections. But the White House is saying they don’t believe that there was Election Day vote tampering. They believe that the vote is — the vote is the vote. Donald Trump will be sworn in on January 20.
But I think that the way that the Trump team has reacted to this gets at the legitimacy question. They have been, in some ways, defensive, saying that this is just — this is just the latest in a long line of things, like the recount or people pointing to the popular vote, as a way of delegitimizing an elected president-elect.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And saying the Democrats are somehow involved in this.
But it also — it points back to — I mean, Amy, you said there are now several nominees. There are going to be questions about their qualifications, their potential conflicts of interest.
But I do want to come back to that news conference, Amy, that — or — I’m sorry — the interview that Donald Trump did. We’re still waiting for a Donald Trump news conference, by the way.
AMY WALTER: Since July, we have been waiting.
JUDY WOODRUFF: July.
But the interview that he did with Chris Wallace on FOX News, some interesting comments there about he doesn’t believe in taking regular intelligence briefings, comments about China. We did learn a little bit more about him from that.
AMY WALTER: I think we did, although, Judy, my big takeaway from that interview was the Donald Trump that we saw on the campaign trail is the Donald Trump that we’re going to see in the Oval Office.
He still believes fundamentally that he doesn’t need to do things in the traditional way: Yes, there is a tradition for doing security briefings one way. I’m going to do them a different way. Yes, people said to me, don’t take this phone call from Taiwan. I understand the one-China policy, but I’m also not going to let China dictate to me what I am going to do as president of the United States.
And so this posture, this attitude that we saw on the campaign trail is absolutely going to follow him right into the Oval Office.
JUDY WOODRUFF: He really is saying: I’m going do it my own way.
AMY WALTER: Right.
TAMARA KEITH: Yes.
And if you look at many of his domestic policy Cabinet appointments, or nominees, they are people in his own image. They are outsiders that are executives, or successful in business and wealthy. They are people who have said that they oppose the very work of the agencies that they have now been nominated to lead.
JUDY WOODRUFF: As so, we look at this, Amy, and we look at the — just in less than a minute now — the confirmation process coming up, there could be some contentious…
AMY WALTER: There’s going to be some — very much fireworks.
JUDY WOODRUFF: … discussions, yes.
AMY WALTER: Yes.
We know that, because of the way that the rules are structured, it is going to be difficult for Democrats alone to get — to oust one of his picks. But all it takes is three or so Republicans to go against one of these nominees, and they will not be able to be confirmed.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And John McCain and some of the other senators have raised some questions.
TAMARA KEITH: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Republicans, I mean.
TAMARA KEITH: Yes.
There are a handful of Republicans. Rand Paul has raised some concerns with some names that have floated. The potential exists. And even if none of them are blocked, these hearings are going to be fascinating, and they could — they could raise a lot of concerns that could dog these nominees once they go into their Cabinet positions.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Hearings, hmm, where have we heard about those before in Congress?
AMY WALTER: We are going to be watching a lot of them.
TAMARA KEITH: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you both.
TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.
AMY WALTER: You’re welcome, Judy.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: the future of Obamacare and the many questions about what will happen to those covered by it now.
With less than six weeks left until Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, one of his most common campaign pledges remains constant: ending it.
DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: First, we’re going to repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare.
We will and must repeal and replace Obamacare.
We are going to repeal and replace Obamacare so quickly.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The president-elect says the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, will be replaced with more market-driven alternatives.
REP. TOM PRICE (R-Ga.): This law violates the principles that every American holds dear when it comes to health care.
JUDY WOODRUFF: He’s tapped one of the law’s fiercest critics, Congressman Tom Price of Georgia, to oversee those efforts as chief of the department of Health and Human Services.
The law, signed in 2010, has experienced big turbulence in recent months, including double-digit rate increases in many states, and some insurers abandoning marketplaces.
But unwinding the law may be far more difficult than the campaign rhetoric suggests. It’s why more than 20 million Americans now have insurance, including 11 million covered through an expansion of Medicaid.
While some parts of the law are unpopular, such as the individual mandate and costs for better benefits, one piece that Mr. Trump has promised to keep is very popular. Insurers are barred from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions.
Yet, how to guarantee that while repealing the law is an open question. Republicans are divided over a time frame for replacing it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke to that today.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, Majority Leader: We will move right after the 1st of the year on an Obamacare replacement resolution. And then will work expeditiously to come up with a better proposal than current law. Doing nothing is not an option, because you have seen the headlines all across America all last year about the status quo.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Health care providers and insurers have warned of potential chaos. Last week, two major hospital groups warned, repealing the law without a suitable replacement would lead to — quote — “an unprecedented public health crisis.”
NARRATOR: Protect the great moments in your life with an affordable health plan through Healthcare.gov.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, open enrollment season for the new year continues.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell has been traveling the country encouraging people to sign up before enrollment is finished January 31.
I sat down with her at HHS headquarters in Washington earlier today.
Secretary Sylvia Burwell, thank you for talking with us.
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL, Secretary of Health & Human Services: Thank you so much for having me today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, President-elect Trump, congressional Republicans are making it very clear that they plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. They don’t make any bones about it.
What do you think the consequences will be?
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: The consequences are great, and they’re great for all Americans, not just those that are the 20 million who have received insurance. Certainly, that could all go away, those who were uninsured and now insured. That’s 20 million people.
We have the lowest rate of uninsured in our nation in history. Those folks would lose their coverage. But I think most people don’t realize that there are many other benefits for those who get insurance through their employer, things like children under your plan until 26, things like preexisting conditions, things like preventative coverage without any additional co-pays.
And those are some, just a few of the many things that would go away in a repeal.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Mr. Trump has said, among other things, that he would like to keep the provision that allows children, adult children up to age 26 to be covered under their parents’ plan. He has also said he doesn’t want anything to change with regard to preexisting conditions.
Is it possible to do that and dismantle the rest of it and still take care of people?
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: You know, that’s the thing, is, it’s like a game of Jenga, where you have the puzzle pieces, and, if you pull one out, the thing will topple.
And it’s important to understand, when one has people with preexisting conditions in the insurance pool, there are other things that you have to do. You have to make sure everybody is in the pool, so you spread that risk. That is what insurance is. It is about spreading risk. And that’s why there is a mandate to have everyone in.
And the other thing is, is, it does increase costs to have people who are more expensive in. But what you want to do is make sure that you subsidize or help those. And that is where the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies or tax credits are very, very important.
So, it is a situation where you can’t just pick and choose the things you like. Everything has to work together in order to pay and have those with preexisting conditions be in and covered by insurance.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, are you saying, Secretary Burwell, it’s literally impossible to do what Donald Trump says he wants to do? He said words to the effect, people will have other options. He said, we’re not going to leave people — quote — “dying in the streets.”
Is there a way to do — to dismantle and still take care of people?
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: So, Judy, I think it is now the point in time where this conversation about health care is going to move from the rhetoric to the reality.
And the reality of how you need to put the pieces together, but you really have to focus on what are the real facts of how these pieces interact.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Are there any parts of this plan that could be pulled out and still keep an important piece of what is protecting Americans and their health care?
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: You know, I think that’s the conversation that we should have about the question of how to go forward. Are there improvements that can be made?
I think that’s — the question I think we need to be focused on, three things, access, how many insured or uninsured, affordability, what does it cost people, and quality, what’s covered.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, as you know, right now, among Republicans on the Hill — at least it’s reported that they are talking about a repeal vote, and then figuring out what to do next with replacement. There’s not complete agreement on replacement.
How much difference does it make it if they go ahead and repeal, and then we see how much of a delay there is before we know what succeeds?
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: Well, the idea of repeal and delayed replace is really repeal and collapse, because, once they have taken those actions to repeal and say, oh, we will replace it two, three years from now, you already start to have the negative impact that will occur.
And, by that, I mean insurance companies, because of the uncertainty, will make decisions to not go into the marketplace. They will make decisions to raise their prices because of the uncertainty. Hospitals across the country who have been benefiting from a reduction in uncompensated care, when people just go to the hospital and don’t pay, because they don’t have insurance, they’re not going to be able to make decisions.
States who have been getting the funds for Medicaid expansion will not know in their budgets whether they’re going to get the funds. What will happen if there is a repeal and a delayed replacement is, actually, collapse will started to occur immediately because of the uncertainty.
And when you think that it’s been six years, and there hasn’t been an agreed-upon replacement, and so that will fuel this uncertainty that anything will really happen.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And what does that mean in human terms if it collapses?
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: In human terms, what it means is, we know that right now 20 million folks have insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
Last week, the Urban Institute came out with a study that said that approach could result in up to 30 million people uninsured. And why that is, is, because this approach wouldn’t only take away what we gained, but would take us back further, because it will affect negatively the individual market.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re speaking about what will happen in the insurance markets to hospitals, decisions that they will make.
And yet we’re already seeing in this: President-elect Donald Trump, he is somebody who is not afraid to go after individual companies, individual leaders in the private sector. He has done it again today in talking about an aerospace company.
Who’s to say he might not try to personally talk the hospital or insurance industry into doing something different?
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: So, I think this is one of those situations where, as I said, moving to the substance.
And for the insurers and providers to be able to provide the kind of care and insurance they need to, there is a certain level of certainty that they need. They need to know. One of the most important things in the marketplace is the subsidies that occur to help people afford health care.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Even fans of the accord Affordable Care Act acknowledge there have been issues with it. And, given that, as you look back on how you, how the administration has handled it, are there things that could have been, should have been done differently?
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: The president actually made a very public pronouncement through the — a journal even, in publishing an article about things we think could improve the Affordable Care Act.
And there are a number of places where we believe there could be improvements. And they mainly focus on affordability and access and competition, having competition in the marketplace.
And some of the things we think could help and improve are changes in things like high-cost drugs and making sure that HHS has the ability to negotiate, to put downward pressure, or the idea of, in places where you don’t have a lot of competition, in other words, a number of insurers offering, create a public option that would sit beside other market options.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You have had some — a conversation with the man who the president-elect has chosen to be the next secretary, or has appointed to be the next secretary of health and human services, Congressman Tom Price from Georgia.
Any advice you would offer him?
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: You know, I think the only thing I would say — and I would say this to anyone coming into HHS — is, it is so important to really focus on those we serve.
That is who our boss really is. It is the consumer. And whether that’s the child in Head Start, the person getting health care or the person who is going to benefit from NIH research, or any of us eating that food that we trust is safe because of the FDA, keeping your eye on what this department is about for those people, and how do we achieve and serve the best for them, that’s the one thing that I think helps in this job, which has lots of different parts and pieces.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary Sylvia Burwell, thank you.
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will be discussing the future of Obamacare with leading Republicans in the coming weeks.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: We dig deeper now into the debate over Russian hacking and the CIA’s conclusion the goal was to sway the U.S. election in Donald Trump’s favor.
Hari Sreenivasan has that.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And we’re joined by two men with extensive experience with intelligence and diplomacy.
James Woolsey was CIA director during the Clinton administration. He’s now with Booz Allen, one of the largest defense and intelligence contractors. He also serves as a senior adviser to President-elect Trump on issues of national security and intelligence. And Michael McFaul was U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration. He’s now a professor of political science at Stanford University.
Mike McFaul, let me start with you first.
Your reaction to the news that Russia may have played an active role in helping President-elect Trump?
MICHAEL MCFAUL, Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia: Well, for some of us, it’s not news. Some of us have been talking and writing about this for many months now, especially after the hacking of the DNC computers and the data dump from WikiLeaks.
I think the two pieces of news that are new is that the intelligence community is now claiming that they have evidence to show that the Russians gave it to WikiLeaks. That was uncertain. Now we know that.
And the second piece is about the Republican — the hacking into the Republican side. They now have evidence to show that.
And what it all means to me, to be clear, my bottom line is, we need an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate this. It’s not enough for the Obama administration to do their review. And, frankly, it’s not enough to have hearings on it at the U.S. Congress.
This is way too big to be handled in those places. We need to know the facts.
And, here, I agree with President-elect Trump in the piece you played with him. He said several times, we don’t know.
Well, as an academic, I want to know the facts. And I think the only way you’re going to get it is if you set up that commission.
HARI SREENIVASAN: James Woolsey, do you agree; is that the right course?
JAMES WOOLSEY, Former CIA Director: I don’t see anything wrong with a well-assembled commission going into an important issue.
I think what needs to be focused on here, though, from the beginning is that we have got a couple of different things going on. And conflating them causes a lot of confusion.
One is what the Soviets and then now the Russians call disinformation, dezinformatsiya, otherwise known as lying. And they propagate disinformation throughout the world on all sorts of subjects.
But they particularly focus on organizations and groups that embody values that they find abhorrent, such as the Catholic Church and Judaism.
They are apparently moving into disseminating disinformation about Western political parties. It’s not any different in principle from what they have been doing for decades.
I think that’s one set of things that’s going on. Another set of things that conceivably could go on is hacking into the records of the voting in order to change those votes. I don’t know that there is any indication that we have that this latter is taking place, counting people who are dead as voters and the sort of things that you read about in the American system.
So, I think, insofar as someone says that the Russians were not participating in anything may not be correct, because they may have been participating in disseminating disinformation, but not participating in what most of us think of as voting fraud, namely, counting people who vote who are dead and so forth.
HARI SREENIVASAN: James Woolsey, I hear some hesitation on your part. Do you doubt the credibility of your former agency in coming to this conclusion?
JAMES WOOLSEY: No, I think they’re conflating — they may well be conflating the issues as well.
One really needs to separate these out and talk about them separately. I don’t know what the CIA would decide. I haven’t read anything they have written in years on something like disinformation. But I’m sure they are up to speed on that.
And if one steals some portion of software — or, rather, of material that has a particular cant on it hostile to the United States or one of its political parties and then disseminates that, I guess you could say that that was trying to work the election or change it in some way through persuading people with lies.
But that’s not what most people mean by this. What most people mean is fiddling with the outcome, having, for example, no paper trail. So, a recount just based on fingers touching screens can be extremely misleading. About a quarter of our voting machines in the United States, very stupidly, don’t have paper trails.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Mike McFaul, James Woolsey is drawing this distinction here on two different kinds of possible interference. Is that too generous?
MICHAEL MCFAUL: No, I think those are good categories. I think both of those categories need to be investigated.
I have personal experience with that first category. I had lots of disinformation published about me when I was ambassador.
But I want to be clear. There is a third category that Jim was leaving out, which is stealing data from the Democratic National Committee and from John Podesta, the chairman of the Hillary Clinton campaign, and then disseminating that information through WikiLeaks — by the way, I want to underscore, WikiLeaks is a foreign organization as well — and that then having an impact on the campaign.
Most certainly, the people that worked in the Clinton campaign think that the WikiLeaks data dump was a devastating impact on their electoral candidate’s prospect to become president of the United States.
If that was provided by Russia — and that is what we learned over the weekend — that is something we need to investigate, know the facts, as President-elect Trump said, and then think about what measures can be taken so that our election in 2020 is free and fair.
JAMES WOOLSEY: I agree with Mike on getting it clear with what is right. I think that’s important.
But, Sanjay, the head of the WikiLeaks operation says it wasn’t the Russians that gave him the material, so there’s all sorts of things going on here.
HARI SREENIVASAN: James Woolsey…
MICHAEL MCFAUL: And the CIA over the weekend said it was. We need to know the facts.
HARI SREENIVASAN: James Woolsey, you used to run the CIA, and you are also advising President-elect Trump.
Have you given them any guidance, the transition team or the president-elect’s inner circle, on doing anything other than debasing the credibility of the entire intelligence organization and saying, you know what, these are the same people that gave us that weapons of mass destruction slam dunk that wasn’t?
JAMES WOOLSEY: Well, I have not talked to anyone in the campaign in the last couple of days, so I haven’t talked to anybody about this issue. It has just very recently arisen.
My old agency was, of course, taken very heavily to task for the weapons of mass destruction issue. The thing that I think is interesting is that two of the three weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical, were in the hands of Saddam the whole time. It was the third kind that everybody was particularly worried about, nuclear, that was lied about and so forth.
But two-thirds of the types of weapons of mass destruction were, in fact, in Iraq.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Mike McFaul, are you concerned about the potential shadow that hangs over the information that none of us have seen, meaning, it is not just the Podesta e-mails? It’s the e-mails that haven’t been released, whether it’s from the RNC or somewhere else, that perhaps that could be used as leverage in the future?
MICHAEL MCFAUL: Yes, of course.
The Russians are very good, they’re one of the best in the world, at gathering intelligence. They do it not just through hacking, by the way, but all kinds of different ways. And we should look at what — try to look at what we have.
By the way, I don’t think we will ever know completely what they have. Any person who ever travels to Russia or lives in Russia, like I have, knows that they are monitored 24/7 in that country. And we should just try to dig down to the facts.
And I want to be clear. You know, it doesn’t mean that the Russians made Trump president. I think many people conflate that too, that they say because they tried to influence the election, they then jump to the conclusion that he is only president because of the Russians. I don’t want to connect those dots at all until I know the facts.
But even if they didn’t produce this outcome, right, the fact that they tried, that they did steal this data, that they tried to influence the elections, that’s something we need to investigate. And, again, it won’t happen in a partisan context. It won’t happen if the White House is the only one responsible.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Well, we will have you back when we have more data to work with.
Mike McFaul, James Woolsey, thank you both.
JAMES WOOLSEY: Sure.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Syrian rebels all but collapsed in the city of Aleppo, and the army of President Bashar al-Assad appeared on the verge of recapturing the city. By day’s end, the military said it now controls 99 percent of Eastern Aleppo, once a rebel stronghold.
Nonstop bombing overnight reduced more buildings to rubble, and heavy shelling continued throughout the day. The rebels were left with a tiny enclave.
In Turkey, police roundups were in full swing today across Turkey after twin bombings killed 44 people in Istanbul on Saturday. Officials detained 235 people who police said were linked to the outlawed Kurdish separatist party. Meanwhile, scores of protesters marched in Istanbul to denounce the bombings, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the soccer stadium where the attack took place.
The United Nations has a new secretary-general. The former prime minister of Portugal, Antonio Guterres, was sworn in today. Guterres has also served as U.N. high commissioner of refugees, and he vowed today to streamline operations to meet humanitarian needs.
ANTONIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General, United Nations: It benefits no one if it takes nine months to deploy a staff member to the field. The United Nations needs to be nimble, efficient and effective. It must focus more on delivery and less on process, more on people and less on bureaucracy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Guterres will officially take office January 1. He succeeds Ban Ki-Moon, who served 10 years as secretary-general.
Authorities in Britain and Greece announced today that they have broken up a network that moved hundreds of migrants into Europe. The gang supplied lost or stolen passports and travel documents.
Meanwhile, rescuers pulled nearly 1,200 people from the Mediterranean yesterday. More than 4,700 have died trying to make the crossing this year.
Back in this country, an Arctic front pushed into the Northeast and New England after blowing across the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest. The storm made morning commutes treacherous from Pennsylvania on up to Maine, where two people died. Meanwhile, parts of Michigan got more than 10 inches of snow, forcing hundreds of schools to close.
ANDY WILLIAMS, Detroit Resident: This is a bad snow. It’s real wet. It came down real soft. It came down. But over the night, it got warm, and so now it’s a heavy snow. It’s hard to clear off. Not too bad with this, but with a snowblower and stuff, it’s pretty tough.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Later this week, the system is expected to send temperatures 15 to 30 degrees below normal in the Midwest and the Eastern U.S.
Former U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah was sentenced to 10 years in prison today in a racketeering scheme. The Pennsylvania Democrat had been convicted of taking an illegal $1 million loan in a failed bid for mayor of Philadelphia. He also used charity funds to pay down his son’s college loans. Fattah served 20 years in Congress before being ousted.
And Wall Street mostly retreated, while the Dow Jones industrial average maintained — or managed another new record. The Dow gained 39 points to close at 19796. But the Nasdaq fell nearly 32 points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And two developments in election recounts today. A federal judge refused to order one in Pennsylvania, as Green Party candidate Jill Stein wanted. And a new tally ended in Wisconsin, with little change. Donald Trump won both states.
Among those voicing concern about Russia’s attempts to influence the presidential election, a bipartisan group of senators who called for an investigation into the cyberattacks that they say should alarm every American.
Jack Reed, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee is one of those senators, and he says he has no reason to doubt the CIA’s conclusions.
SEN. JACK REED (D-R.I.): They definitely intervened in the election. They collected information against both Democrats and Republicans, and they seemed to only have released information with respect to the Democratic candidate.
The motivation, that is something that we’re going to continue to probe. But it seems — it seems that they were interested in disrupting the Democratic campaign as much as they could.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You don’t have any question about that conclusion? Because the FBI, as you know, it’s reported that they are holding back on ascribing a motive here.
SEN. JACK REED: Well, there is a difference between a motive and what happened on the ground, if you will. What seems to be clear is that they had been able to enter into the computer systems of both the Republicans and the Democrats, and that they through proxies disseminated information about the Democratic candidate, didn’t in any significant way do so with the Republicans.
Could you question motivations, but it seems clear that they had a goal and objective to provide information that would be detrimental to the Democratic candidate.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And what other explanation could there be other than wanting to help Donald Trump?
SEN. JACK REED: It — the only other plausible explanation would be just so to sow general confusion.
But at some point, they clearly seem to suggest a preference in terms of who they were going to attack or provide detrimental information about. And that was the Democratic candidate.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What does this represent to you, Senator Reed, as somebody who has looked at intelligence for as long as you have?
SEN. JACK REED: Well, it demonstrates the practice that the Russians have of surreptitiously using cyber and other techniques to involve themselves in elections, to distort elections.
It happened overseas. And now, unfortunately, it has happened dramatically in the United States. And so we have to be aware of this. That is why Senator McCain and I are working to set up a subcommittee to look at this issue, but longer term to look at the cyber-capabilities of Russia in many different dimensions.
But the first issue is trying to get all the facts that we can out about their participation in this election cycle, because we have to be able to show the American public that in two years or at any time in the future, our elections are not determined by surreptitious activity of foreign intelligence services; they’re determined by the voters.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I’m sure, as you know, the president-elect, Donald Trump, is saying he doesn’t believe that the Russians did this. He says he’s not at all sure they did the hacking.
He says it could have been a man sitting on a bed somewhere. How do you — what do you say to his reaction to all this?
SEN. JACK REED: Well, it seems quite obvious that this was done by the Russians. Our intelligence services have indicated it. They have done so very carefully. To disregard the obvious is not a good trait in a leader in any situation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: To disregard the obvious?
SEN. JACK REED: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, do you want to elaborate on that?
SEN. JACK REED: Well, it seems that the facts are overwhelming that there is the involvement of the Russians in the election, the involvement not only in terms of penetrating Democratic operatives and organizations, but also, as the intelligence community concluded also, the Republican National Committee.
So, they were involved. And that seems to be not an issue of contention. And to simply deny that is to deny what to me appears increasingly to be obvious, a fact.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator, what would be different between the investigation that you and some Republican senators are calling for and the investigation that President Obama has called for inside the administration to be done by the inauguration?
SEN. JACK REED: Well, the president is able to use the intelligence agencies and other agencies to vet the information, to protect sources and methods, to come up with all that could released to the public.
Our investigation, I hope, will build off of that. I hope the document the president us is available, so we have a common base of facts and knowledge. And from there, we can ask other questions that I think are relevant going forward: What can we do to prevent this in the future?
I think also it raises again the issue that has been so contentious over the last several months about the president-elect being much more open and candid in his financial dealings, so that there is absolutely no question of any type of bias towards any institution or individual or country.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, two other questions. One is, what should the U.S. do if this is proven that the Russians did this hacking and if they did it for the reason that it appears that they did?
SEN. JACK REED: Well, first, I think forewarned is forearmed, where the American people will be aware of the tactics, the techniques and the motivations, if we can determine them conclusively of the Russians. That will be useful.
Then, second, there is the ability to take action against them. Right now, we have sanctions in place because of their assault on the Crimea, because of their destabilizing activities in the Crimea. If this raises that level, we could certainly consider something like that.
I think also in terms of international criticism, this is something they have done in the past in other countries. If this is their method of operation, we have to be able to, I think, enlist the aid and the support of other countries, our European allies and across the globe.
That would be something that will would send a strong message that this will not be tolerated by the United States, nor by other countries.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Final question, Senator Reed. And that is, what is your reaction to president-elect saying in an interview yesterday that he isn’t taking all the intelligence briefings that he has been offered because — quote — “I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years”?
SEN. JACK REED: I think that is not a sensible way to approach the issues that the president has to deal with.
Things change almost instantaneously. Situation arise. Context is important. It’s also critically important that you are so involved in the intelligence cycle as the president that you are able to be able to judge adequately when someone presents a viewpoint to you.
A periodic sort of quick study, if you will, is not going to work. It takes that constant exposure. And I think it’s not a good leadership for — particularly for a president, to simply say, I know it all, I will just take a little refresher course once in a while.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Senator Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, thank you very much for talking with us.
SEN. JACK REED: Thanks, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will debate Russia’s actions with a former director of the CIA and former ambassador to Russia in the Obama administration after the news summary.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s a split tonight between Donald Trump and his own Republican Party, at issue, serious allegations that the Russians were playing spy games during the presidential campaign.
John Yang begins our coverage.
JOHN YANG: Top congressional Republicans put themselves at odds with President-elect Trump today, calling for investigations into possible Russian attempts to influence the election.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, Majority Leader: Obviously, any foreign breach of cybersecurity measures are disturbing, and I strongly condemn any such efforts.
Well, let me just speak for myself. The Russians are not our friends.
DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: I think it’s just another excuse.
JOHN YANG: On Sunday, Mr. Trump dismissed the CIA’s conclusion that the Russians were trying to help him win as ridiculous. He pointed to apparent disagreements between the spy agency and the FBI.
DONALD TRUMP: I have great respect for them. But if you read the stories, the various stories, they’re disputing. And certain groups don’t necessarily agree. Personally, it could be Russia. It — I don’t really think it is. But who knows? I don’t know either. They don’t know and I don’t know.
JOHN YANG: This morning, he tweeted that: “If the election results were the opposite and we tried to play the Russia/CIA card, it would be called conspiracy theory.”
Russia is also an issue with a potential secretary of state in the Trump administration, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. He’s done a lot of business there and has close ties to President Vladimir Putin. That’s a reason for concern, say some Senate Republicans, including John McCain.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-Ariz.): Maybe those ties are strictly commercial and got to do with his business in the oil business. Fine. But we will give him a fair hearing. But is it a matter of concern? Certainly, it should be a matter of concern.
JOHN YANG: Meanwhile, the president-elect’s challenge to the longstanding U.S. one-China policy brought a stern warning from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
GENG SHUANG, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman (through translator): I want to stress that the Taiwan issue involves China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. If such a foundation is disrupted and undermined, the sound and steady growth of our relations would be impossible.
JOHN YANG: Today, Mr. Trump officially named his choice for secretary of homeland security, retired Marine Four-Star General John Kelly, a veteran of four decades in the Corps. Kelly most recently headed U.S. Southern Command, overseeing military operations in Central and South America. In that role, he also worked with Homeland Security to stop the smuggling of immigrants.
He’s the third general Mr. Trump has picked for a major post, but he is also a Gold Star parent. His son, a Marine 1st lieutenant, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.
The president-elect also named Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn to head the White House National Economic Council.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m John Yang.
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The Telling Project uses the stories of veterans and their family members to deepen people’s understanding of military life by creating a theatrical production based on those real experiences. The national performing arts organization is based in Austin, Texas, but its writers and directors travel all over the country to interview service members.
After choosing six participants in a location, The Telling Project works with them to write a script that reflects their lives. The vets rehearse for several days before performing for a civilian audience. The goal is to bridge those two very different communities.
Recently, The Telling Project worked with veterans in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area. Racheal Robinson is a wife, mother and staff sergeant who is currently serving in the Minnesota Air National Guard. She and five other veterans told their stories at the Guthrie Theater.
“There’s a stereotype of what a veteran should look like. And I think having a very diverse cast helps break that stereotype. That veterans come in all shapes and sizes and all different age groups,” says Robinson.
Since 2008, The Telling Project has produced more than 40 original performances, put more than 180 veterans and their family members on stage and performed in 16 states across the nation.
This story originally appeared on “Minnesota Original”, an arts show produced by Twin Cities PBS. It was produced by Luke Heikkila and edited by Ryan Klabunde. Local Beat is an ongoing series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation.
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WASHINGTON — U.S.-allied Asian ambassadors on Tuesday urged President-elect Donald Trump to reconsider his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and keep the U.S. engaged in Asia.
Ambassadors from Australia, South Korean and Singapore made the appeal at a Washington think tank.
The Obama administration championed the trade pact which was signed by 12 nations in February but has run into a wall of congressional and public opposition.
Trump has vowed to withdraw from TPP on his first day in office, calling it a “disaster” for American jobs.
Australian Ambassador Joe Hockey said, “America has to engage with Asia if it is going to be great,” because that’s where most global economic growth is happening.
“The fact that the U.S. was very involved in leadership of it (TPP) then could not deliver and has chosen now not to deliver is hugely damaging to the United States’ reputation in Asia,” Hockey said.
He said that in the meantime, Asian nations are focusing on an alternative trade pact supported by China, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
South Korean Ambassador Ahn Ho-young acknowledged that anti-trade and globalization sentiment had surged during the U.S. election but said that in the long-term, all nations benefit from trade liberalization.
He said South Korea wants to join TPP if it progresses.
The three envoys steered clear of the controversy over Trump’s recent pronouncements on China and Taiwan.
Singaporean Ambassador Ashok Mirpuri said that U.S. global leadership is needed in the Asia-Pacific, but Southeast Asian nations also want calm between the U.S. and China.
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Editor’s Note: The negative effects of so-called fake news were felt in the 2016 presidential election and a subsequent dangerous situation at a Washington, D.C. pizzeria, highlighting the need for news and media literacy.
A recent study by the Stanford Graduate School of Education found that young people are particularly susceptible to fake news: the majority could not tell the difference between fake news and real news. Part of the solution will involve providing students with the media literacy skills they need to evaluate sources, according to the lead author of the study Sam Wineburg. NewsHour Extra’s teacher resource website also provides this lesson plan.
Did Donald Trump support the Iraq War? Hillary Clinton said yes. He said no. Who was right?
In search of answers, many of us ask our kids to “Google” something. These so-called digital natives, who have never known a world without screens, are the household’s resident fact-checkers. If anyone can find the truth, we assume, they can.
True, many of our kids can flit between Facebook and Twitter while uploading a selfie to Instagram and texting a friend. But when it comes to using the Internet to get to the bottom of things, teens are no better than the rest of us. Often they are worse.
In a study conducted by Eszter Hargittai and her colleagues at Northwestern University, 102 college students went online to answer questions about things that matter to them—like how to advise a female friend who’s desperate to prevent pregnancy after her boyfriend’s condom broke. How did students decide what to believe? One factor loomed largest: a site’s placement in the search results. Students ignored the sponsoring organization and the article’s author, blindly trusting the search engine to put the most reliable results first.
Research we’ve conducted at Stanford University supports these findings. Over the past 18 months, we administered assessments that tap young people’s ability to judge online information. We analyzed over 7,804 responses from students in middle school through college. At every level, we were taken aback by students’ lack of preparation: middle school students unable to tell the difference between an advertisement and a news story; high school students taking at face value a cooked-up chart from the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee; college students credulously accepting a .org top-level domain name as if it were a Good Housekeeping seal.
One task asked students to determine the trustworthiness of material on the websites of two organizations: the 66,000 member American Academy of Pediatrics, established in 1930 and publisher of the journal Pediatrics, vs. the American College of Pediatricians, a fringe group that broke with the main organization in 2002 over its stance on adoption by same-sex couples. We asked 25 undergraduates at Stanford—the most selective college in the country, which rejected 95 percent of its applicants last year—to spend up to 10 minutes examining content on both sites. Students could stay on the initial web page, click on links, Google something else—anything they would normally do to reach a judgment.
More than half concluded that the article from the American College of Pediatricians, an organization that ties homosexuality to pedophilia and which the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled a hate group, was “more reliable.” Even students who preferred the entry from the American Academy of Pediatrics never uncovered the differences between the two groups. Instead, they saw the two organizations as equivalent and focused their evaluations on surface features of the websites. As one student put it: “They seemed equally reliable to me. … They are both from academies or institutions that deal with this stuff every day.”
Ironically, many students learned so little because they spent most of their time reading the articles on each organization’s site. But masking true intentions and ownership on the web has grown so sophisticated that to rely on the same set of skills one uses for print reading is naive. Parsing digital information before one knows if a site can be trusted is a colossal waste of time and energy.
This became clear to us when we gave our tasks to professional fact-checkers. Three strategies separate checkers from the rest of us:
• Landing on an unfamiliar site, the first thing checkers did was to leave it. If undergraduates read vertically, evaluating online articles as if they were printed news stories, fact-checkers read laterally, jumping off the original page, opening up a new tab, Googling the name of the organization or its president. Dropped in the middle of a forest, hikers know they can’t divine their way out by looking at the ground. They use a compass. Similarly, fact-checkers use the vast resources of the Internet to determine where information is coming from before they read it.
• Second, fact-checkers know it’s not about “About.” They don’t evaluate a site based solely on the description it provides about itself. If a site can masquerade as a nonpartisan think tank when funded by corporate interests and created by a Washington public relations firm, it can surely pull the wool over our eyes with a concocted “About” page.
• Third, fact-checkers look past the order of search results. Instead of trusting Google to sort pages by reliability (which reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of how Google works), the checkers mined URLs and abstracts for clues. They regularly scrolled down to the bottom of the search results page in their quest to make an informed decision about where to click first.
None of this is rocket science. But it’s often not taught in school. In fact, some schools have special filters that direct students to already vetted sites, effectively creating a generation of bubble children who never develop the immunities needed to ward off the toxins that float across their Facebook feeds, where students most often get their news. This approach protects young people from the real world rather than preparing them to deal with it.
After the vice presidential debate, Hillary Clinton’s campaign tweeted, “Unfortunately for Mike Pence and Donald Trump, Google exists (and we aren’t stupid).” Yes, Google puts vast quantities of information at our fingertips. But it also puts the onus for fact-checking on us. For every political question swirling in this election, there are countless websites vying for our attention—front groups and fake news sites right next to legitimate and reliable sources.
We agree with the tweet from the Clinton campaign. We’re not stupid. But when we turn to our screens for information and answers, we need to get a lot smarter about how we decide what’s true and what’s not.
The PBS NewsHour’s Teachers’ Lounge blog, written by teachers or school-related staff, gives the public a glimpse into how current issues affect life inside schools.
This story was produced by Education Week, a nonprofit, independent news organization with comprehensive pre-K-12 news and analysis. Read the original post here.
The president of Gambia is taking steps to retain power, despite agreeing to concede defeat in an election held earlier this month.
Soldiers raided the office of the country’s independent electoral commission on President Yahya Jammeh’s orders Tuesday morning. The west African leader, who has ruled the country for 22 years, also filed a petition in the country’s supreme court to challenge the election results.
Gambians had hoped for a peaceful transition of power after Jammeh agreed to concede to presidential candidate Adama Barrow the day after the election on Dec. 1.
Jammeh first changed his mind publicly Friday on national television.
“I hereby reject the results,” he said.
Video by YouTube user Adeola Fayehun
Several West African leaders traveled to Gambia just before the military takeover of the electoral commission in an attempt to convince Jammeh to step down, Reuters.
The African Union, Economic Community of West African States and the United Nations have criticized Jammeh for not respecting the election results, saying his actions are a threat to Gambia and the entire West African region.
“It is fundamental that the verdict of the ballots should be respected, and that the security of the president-elect Adama Barrow, and that of all Gambian citizens be fully ensured,” the three governing bodies said in a joint statement.
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President Bill Clinton preferred to read his daily intelligence briefing in paper form. George W. Bush insisted on a daily in-person briefing. President Obama consumes his digitally, on a custom tablet.
Presidents have different styles when it comes to the briefing, or the President’s Daily Brief, a summary of classified information on national security issues compiled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
But President-elect Donald Trump has taken an unprecedented approach: ignoring the briefing most days altogether. Instead, Trump has opted to receive the report roughly once per week since he won the election, a break from tradition for a president-elect.
Trump dismissed the daily briefings as repetitive and unnecessary in an interview with Fox News on Sunday, arguing that the report rarely changes from one day to the next. Trump said that “my generals” and the vice president-elect, Mike Pence, were receiving the daily briefings so he didn’t have to.
“You know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day,” Trump said. He added, “But I do say, if something should change, let us know.”
The comments sparked an uproar, with critics claiming that Trump was neglecting a key part of his job. But some national security experts and intelligence officials said Trump was right — to a point.
The daily briefing, which began after World War II under Harry Truman, can contain repetitive information on specific issues and regions around the world, according to several former officials who have worked on the briefing in the past.
“Sometimes it’s really boring and you spend two minutes on it. Sometimes it’s really interesting,” said Andrew Liepman, a former senior C.I.A official. Moreover, the brief represents just one facet of a nuanced relationship between the president and the intelligence community, Liepman said.
“I do think the PDB is an important factor in the relationship, but it’s not the only factor,” Liepman, who worked on the daily brief under several administrations, said. “It’s a mistake to say unless the president takes the PDB every day he’s not prepared to govern. That’s oversimplifying it.”
Presidents receive intelligence information in several other ways in addition to the daily briefing, said John McLaughlin, who served as the acting director of the C.I.A under George W. Bush in 2004.
“The intelligence community issues numerous publications every day,” said McLaughlin, also the C.I.A.’s deputy director from 2000 to 2004. “The foreign policy meetings in the White House situation room almost always begin with an intelligence briefing on the subjects of the day.”
In the end, he said, “presidents individually decide how they want to absorb their intelligence.”
Still, McLaughlin and others said the daily briefings were important. They give senior intelligence officials a chance to understand a president’s changing areas of interest and priorities. And they become critical in moments of crisis, when communication between the White House and intelligence agencies helps inform major foreign policy decisions.
“It’s a two-way communication,” said Paul Pillar, a former senior C.I.A. official, and a fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies. “Those briefings are highly valuable to the agencies for that reason.”
Still, former intelligence and national security experts said Trump’s decision to forgo the briefings, at least for now, was less concerning than his response to a report last week that the C.I.A. believes Russia interfered with the election to help Trump win the race.
News of the C.I.A.’s assessment came out on Friday, two days after President Obama ordered an intelligence review of the impact the hacking had on the U.S. election.
In October, a month before Election Day, the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a joint statement accusing the Russian government of orchestrating the hacking, which was directed at the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Trump and his supporters dismissed the assessment. And on Sunday, Trump told Fox News that he didn’t believe the recent C.I.A. finding, and called it “ridiculous.” His transition team also blasted the report, saying it was prepared by the “same people who said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.”
Russia’s role in influencing the election “is one of the biggest things that’s happened in American foreign policy,” said James Jeffrey, a former deputy national security adviser under George W. Bush.
“That’s the really worrisome thing about all of this. The other things you can work through. It’s the reaction. We saw these things repeatedly during the campaign,” said Jeffrey, who also served as an ambassador to Iraq and Turkey in the Bush administration.
Some former officials defended Trump, and questioned why President Obama waited until the election was over to order the investigation.
“When Trump and his team questioned this they had every right in the world,” said Larry Johnson, a former C.I.A. and State Department counterterrorism official under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. “Something’s not right here,” he added.
But others said the Trump transition’s response was an attack on the intelligence community, and could undermine the public’s confidence in agencies like the C.I.A. and F.B.I.
“Bringing back the Saddam stuff is painful, it’s ripping open a scab that’s largely healed,” Liepman said. “The confidence that the country had that the intelligence community is reliable and objective really took a hit” after the lead-up to the Iraq War, when intelligence agencies mistakenly advised George W. Bush that the Iraqi dictator had weapons of mass destruction.
“For 15 years, [intelligence agencies have] been trying to climb out of the hole. I hope they don’t get pushed back into that hole,” Liepman said.
McLaughlin said the president-elect’s relationship with intelligence officials was off to a bad start.
“It’s in everyone’s interest, his own and the intelligence community’s, to find a comfortable working relationship,” he said.
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WASHINGTON — The Energy Department said Tuesday it won’t provide the names of staffers who worked on climate policy or other issues to President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, even as it pledges to cooperate with the incoming administration.
Trump’s transition team is seeking information about the agency’s operations and personnel, including a list of employees and contractors who attended international meetings on climate change over the past five years.
An Energy Department spokesman said that while officials will be forthcoming with all publicly available information, “we will not be providing any individual names to the transition team.”
Some of the questions asked by Trump’s team left DOE workers “unsettled,” spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder said, adding that DOE officials “respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department.”
Trump’s transition team submitted 74 questions to DOE last week, including two that asked for identities of staffers who worked on Obama administration climate policy efforts.
One Energy Department official called the 74 questions a hit list and said Trump’s team appeared to be going after top scientists and employees who work on subjects ranging from the Iran nuclear deal to the internal operations of the national energy labs. The official was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity to discuss the document.
The official said questions about professional society memberships and websites that staff at the Energy Department’s national laboratories maintain or contribute to could raise questions about Trump’s commitment to scientific independence — a fundamental tenet at the agency.
The Energy Department has a $32 billion annual budget, yet the bulk of its workforce — nearly 100,000 employees — comes from private contractors. The agency has 14,000 government employees.
“Our career workforce, including our contractors and employees at our labs, comprise the backbone of DOE and the important work our department does to benefit the American people,” Burnham-Snyder said.
Democrats have called the questionnaire a modern-day political witch hunt that could have a chilling impact on federal workers.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: freeing yourself to appreciate art in all its forms and colors. That’s the focus of our latest addition to the “NewsHour” Bookshelf.
And for that, we go to Jeffrey Brown.
JEFFREY BROWN: What do we see when we look at art? Something that gives us pleasure or moves us not at all. Many of us perhaps aren’t sure what it is we’re supposed to be taking in or trying to understand.
The painter David Salle wants us to trust ourselves more in looking, but also to consider how something is made, as well as what it is. His new book is titled “How to See.”
DAVID SALLE, Author, “How to See”: I think it enhances one’s enjoyment, if you can put yourself a little bit into the place of the maker, imagine how it was made, imagine what’s involved in making it.
JEFFREY BROWN: Because it is a thing that was made, right?
DAVID SALLE: Art is something someone made. It’s a product of human endeavor.
As such, it’s not that different from having a conversation with someone. The painter is telling us something. Just, how do they — what’s their syntax? What’s their inflection?
JEFFREY BROWN: Which, in painterly terms, means what brush you use, what…
DAVID SALLE: It can be. Can be how wide the brush is, or how skinny the rectangle is, or if it’s even a painting at all, if it has any marks on it at all.
JEFFREY BROWN: Salle himself has been a prominent artist since the 1980s, known for his large-scale collage-style paintings that incorporate disparate images from a variety of sources.
Some newer ones hung in his Brooklyn studio, where we talked recently. One way to look at a painting is to notice those images, here a car, a watermelon, a cigarette pack, and more. But how you make these connections is what most interests Salle.
DAVID SALLE: What this painting does, and most paintings do, is gives you a path for your eye to move around.
The painting actually tells your eye, go here, now go here, now go here, go here. So all you have to do is look at it, give it a few seconds, and your eye will start to move through the painting.
JEFFREY BROWN: In his book of essays, Salle offers an artist’s view of other artists, Georg Baselitz, Dana Schutz, John Baldessari, and many others, and the decisions they made, the paths they chose, the reasons a painting works or doesn’t, as with a favorite and friend of his, Alex Katz.
DAVID SALLE: Big brush or small brush? I mean, in Alex’s case, a really big brush, a really big brush moved with some velocity, using his whole arm, across a pretty big surface, ending in a very fine point, doing that in a way which seems both premeditated and also free and spontaneous.
That’s what you see. And then your brain translates that into Maine Woods. Oh, I like that place. I want to go back there.
But what enables you to have that sensation is the physical act of painting.
JEFFREY BROWN: You talk about the artist Christopher Wool. So, that’s an abstract painting. I don’t quite know what I’m looking at in that sense, or at least it’s not recognizable.
DAVID SALLE: Right. So, in the example of Christopher Wool, the not quite knowing what you’re looking at is part of the experience.
His paintings are made with such a complicated, impacted and self-referential set of gestures, marks and mechanical representations of gestures and marks and their interaction. It’s very hard to tease them apart.
JEFFREY BROWN: That’s what you mean by “the how” in a case like that, all those kinds of decisions?
DAVID SALLE: Yes. Yes.
“The how” is also the scale, the size, the color. The — all of the physical characteristics of the thing are “the how.”
JEFFREY BROWN: And then one more example would be Malcolm Morley, right, in…
DAVID SALLE: Right.
So, Malcolm paints — typically paints paintings of models, thousands of densely packed brush strokes made with a very small brush, intensely concentrated over small areas of the canvas, one after the other. So, this agitated, densely packed surface is “the how,” which becomes the what.
JEFFREY BROWN: You’re a painter, so you go look at these things and say, oh, how did he do this, how did she do that?
Do I have to know “the how”? Do I have to know how it was done?
DAVID SALLE: I don’t think you have to know anything, really.
But I think if you look for more than 10 seconds, you will start to — without being told anything, you will start to notice those things. You will notice. If you go to a concert, you will notice, is it loud? Is the music fast? Is it predominately strings or brass?
There are things we can all register, whether we are musicians or not. Painting’s no different. Taking pleasure in projecting oneself into the painting is the act of looking. That’s what looking is.
JEFFREY BROWN: You write at one point, it’s a mistake to ask a work of art to be all things to all people.
What can we ask of a work of art? What should we ask of it?
DAVID SALLE: I think a good painting or a good work of art does many things it wants, I mean, maybe 15 or 20 or 100.
One of the things a painting does is to make the room look better. It improves the wall that it’s on.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, nothing wrong with that.
DAVID SALLE: Which is much harder than it looks. And that’s a good thing.
And if one engages with a painting on that level, that’s fine, that’s great. After some time, familiarity, the other things that a painting does, the other layers, they just start to make themselves felt.
People are still making paintings. People are still enjoying paintings, looking at paintings. Paintings still have something to tell us.
There’s a way of being in the world that painting brings to us, that painters bring to the task that we absorb and are able to be in dialogue with. That’s something that’s part of us.
JEFFREY BROWN: From Brooklyn, New York, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the “PBS NewsHour.”
JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s wonderful to hear what an artist thinks art is, for a change.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Yes. Yes, because we always wonder, what was the painter thinking?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Exactly.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Most of the attention around the big biomedical bill signed by President Obama today has focused on faster drug approval and new money for research, but it’s a huge piece of legislation.
And one key part that’s received less attention is the attempt to improve mental health care in the U.S.
William Brangham has a look.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Advocates say this part of the legislation is the most significant step forward for mental health care in nearly a decade.
The law promotes a range of mental health initiatives, including more evidence-based early intervention for young people. It expands outpatient mental health care. And to coordinate it all, it creates a new assistant secretary position.
For more on this, I’m joined now by the lead author of the legislation, Congressman Tim Murphy, Republican of Pennsylvania. He’s also a practicing psychologist.
REP. TIM MURPHY (R-Pa.): Great to be with you.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Before we get into the specifics of the legislation, I wonder if you could just give me an overview of what you see where we are failing in our treatment of mental health care in this country.
REP. TIM MURPHY: Well, in any given year, 60 million Americans are affected by some level of mental illness, from the very mild to the very serious, 10 million with very serious mental illness. Four million get no treatment at all.
States spend an enormous amount of money, in the federal government about $130 billion spread across 112 agencies, although most of that is just disability payments. And we’re not doing a good job, because what has happened is, over the years, when we have seen a dropping of death rates for cancer, it’s gone down, diabetes, infectious disease, lung disease, AIDS, all declined, increasing for suicide, increasing for substance abuse.
And when we closed all those big asylums, those big hospitals that were out there for a century or so — we needed to close them down — but we didn’t provide outpatient care. So what do we do? We have filled our jails with them.
The majority of people in jails, the state and local jails, are people with a mental illness disorder, too. Eight out of 10 people in an emergency room have some related mental health disorder. Five percent of the people on Medicaid are responsible for 50 percent of all Medicaid spending.
And those are people with a concurrent mental illness. So, you see, in terms of costs, in terms of the costs of lives, 959 a day, 350,000 in this country last year, related to mental illness, primary, secondary, that’s more deaths in one year than the entire combat deaths of World War I — of the United States in World War I, Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and Iraq, in one year. It’s a serious problem.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Really some startling numbers there.
So, let’s talk about some of the specifics. You create an assistant secretary for mental health and substance use disorders. I know that is something that was very important to you. Why that?
REP. TIM MURPHY: Because we needed someone to take the helm.
What we found in the GAO, General Accounting Office, reports, they said there was no accountability for the grant programs. And, oftentimes, we were funding really embarrassing silly grant programs, such as a Web site that had a special hot line you could call if you were upset about the snow in New England, if you had snow anxiety, how to make a fruit smoothie if you were upset, making collages, masks, interpretive dancing, a $20,000 painting hanging in someone’s office about mental health with two people sitting on a rock.
Total waste of money. We had to put someone in charge who can take the helm of these 112 federal agencies, work with them, with the VA, with DOD, and others, and start to coordinate evidence-based care directed towards those who need it, work on prevention, work on those with serious mental illness, but someone with the clout behind their name to do that.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: One of the things we often hear about is there are simply not enough beds for people who need them and not enough practitioners to help those who need help.
What does this legislation do to address that?
REP. TIM MURPHY: Well, regard to the practitioners, half the counties in America have no psychiatrist, no psychologist.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Half?
REP. TIM MURPHY: Half — and no clinical social worker.
And of those that do have psychiatrists, but we have 9,000 child and adolescent psychiatrists. We need 30,000. And, by the way, serious mental illness, half the cases emerge by age 14, 75 percent by age 24. But you can’t get care. It’s not there.
So, we invest about $50 million to help with the new work force to build that up. And in the bed issue, we also work with Medicaid that, right now, they had a 16-bed limit, which is absurd. If you’re between the ages of 22 and 64, you can’t any in a private psychiatric hospital that has more than 16 beds. That’s not enough.
So, we make them homeless or we put them in jail. So, this lists that and says 15-day average length of stay per month. That’s not enough, I know. It’s not going to address everything. But it sure is better to be in a hospital bed than laying on a park bench in the cold or being in a jail cell.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Just as you mentioned, obviously, one of the first-responders that often are interacting with people who have mental health crises are our police forces all over the country. And they’re not really well-equipped to deal with this.
Do you tackle that in this legislation?
REP. TIM MURPHY: We do.
We put a few million dollars into that. It’s called crisis intervention training. I think, two years ago, The Washington Post did a story and reported there was 250 deaths from police encountering someone with a mental illness who then attacked the policeman, came in with a knife or a gun or something. And that’s too many.
What we do is fund the programs, which are very, very effective in training policemen when they know someone has a serious mental illness or they’re in crisis or they can kind of identify from the situation. They learn techniques to calm the person down, and so that it’s not a confrontation, and it will save some lives, and get the person in treatment.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You have supported repealing the Affordable Care Act.
And some of your Democratic colleagues, who laud this legislation, say that, if you repeal the ACA, which has a lot of provisions to care for the mentally ill, that you’re shooting your legislation in the foot.
REP. TIM MURPHY: Yes.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What’s your response to that?
REP. TIM MURPHY: Well, I fought too hard for this. I have worked in this field for 40 years.
I welcome the teamwork of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to say we have to make sure we preserve this. The reason it’s so important is, if we’re going to find cost savings in retooling and reforming health care, a lot of it comes from the integrated care of the mentally ill, with mental illness, behavioral illness, and physical illness.
When you find someone with a chronic illness, they’re twice the rate of depression among them. And untreated depression doubles their health care costs. When you hone in and treat both at the same time by integrating behavioral and physical medicine, when the physician takes charge, when you have capitated plans, so it’s incentive for the doctors to do all that, you actually can reduce spending for those people by about 40 percent to 50 percent, while you’re providing better care.
So, this is a lesson I want to make sure my colleagues to know. This is the thing what we ought to be doing. It’s good with compassion. It’s good morally. And it saves money.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But do you worry that if the ACA is repealed, that a lot of what you’re trying to do, lauded work here, is going to get thrown out?
REP. TIM MURPHY: You’re talking to someone who has spent the last four years in the trenches fighting for this, and a lot of members who were part of this team, too.
I don’t see us just throwing this out. We will work together to make sure these provisions stay in. And even so, part of that concern is what states are going to do with Medicaid money, with block grants.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Right.
REP. TIM MURPHY: When states got block grants, you saw a number of states, like Rhode Island and Ohio, they just pulled the money out.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right.
Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, thank you very much.
REP. TIM MURPHY: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: International tests are one way of gauging how American kids are doing in school compared with other countries.
Traditionally, the U.S. performance has been described as mediocre, and this year was no different. The most recent test scores show the U.S. is stagnant in reading and science. In math, our country ranks toward the bottom of developed nations.
What these results tell us about educational priorities around the world is a bit more nuanced.
Special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza with our partner Education Week met with international students to ask them first-hand about the differences.
It’s part of our weekly series Making the Grade.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: Calvin Leung loves soccer.
CALVIN LEUNG, Junior, Walt Whitman High School: I started soccer really young. And I just can’t stop playing soccer because it’s really fun.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: Two years ago, Calvin and his family moved to the U.S. because of his father’s work. His mother Margaret, says if he was still living in his home country, Hong Kong, just like his former classmates, Calvin would have had to give up soccer.
MARGARET TSANG, Parent from Hong Kong: Calvin’s friends in Hong Kong have to give up playing soccer because they have to focus and concentrate in their studying.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: She says there are only a few universities in Hong Kong, so competition is fierce.
MARGARET TSANG: That’s why parents would like them to have extra lessons, even after school for almost six hours. So, I think they can balance studying and extracurricular activities here.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: Other countries have, at times, wrestled with that lack of balance, and some have even turned to high-performing U.S. schools for lessons in building student skills, such as creativity and collaboration.
But, academically, when Calvin moved here, he found general classes much easier in the U.S.
CALVIN LEUNG: In Hong Kong, math-wise, it’s definitely super competitive and everyone, like, move in the same pace. So it’s pretty hard to catch up if you fall behind. But, in America, you can choose your own pace.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: Calvin loves the diversity of U.S. schools and says he’s made lots of friends, even if many of them don’t know where he’s from.
CALVIN LEUNG: When people ask me about Hong Kong, I connect Hong Kong with the Hollywood movies they saw like the “Transformers” and the “Batman.”
KAVITHA CARDOZA: Hong Kong is also known for being a place that does very well on international tests, unlike the U.S., where the academic performance this year was lackluster.
The U.S. ranks in the middle of the pack when it comes to reading and science. In math, it ranked 31st out of 35 countries.
The PISA test is taken every three years by 15-year-olds from dozens of countries. What makes this test interesting is that it doesn’t gauge what students can memorize, in other words, what you can Google. The PISA test looks to see what students can do with what they know.
WOMAN: They are asked to interpret texts, solve mathematics problems.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: Andreas Schleicher oversees the PISA test. He says the school systems of today are the economies of tomorrow.
ANDREAS SCHLEICHER, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development: You look at a country like Korea in the 1960s. Korea had the level of the economic development of Afghanistan today, one of the least developed education systems. But it got education right. It became one of its most successful economies. The power of education to transform societies and generate both economic and social outcomes is just tremendous.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: Economic prosperity, international competitiveness, national security, those are a few of the reasons countries take education and, by extension, these rankings so seriously.
As President Obama said back in 2009, countries that out-educate us will outperform us.
The U.S. spends markedly more money compared to other developed countries on education, but, by high school, American students fall behind. Schleicher says it’s not about how much a country spends on education, but how it spends the money. He says, in other countries, it’s all about teacher quality.
ANDREAS SCHLEICHER: And I’m not only talking about making teaching financially more attractive. I’m also talking about making teaching intellectually more attractive. And that’s probably where the United States is furthest away from some of the highest-performing education systems, where you really have a much greater investment in the quality of teaching.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: U.S. Secretary of Education John King has one word for the results.
JOHN KING, Secretary of Education: I would say that we are disappointed.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: King says the Obama administration has championed educational best practices, for example, an emphasis on teacher quality and early education. Many states have also adopted the Common Core, which sets high standards of what children should know at each grade.
But, he says:
JOHN KING: One of the challenges in our system, different from many of our international competitors, is that it is a highly decentralized system, so change takes a particularly long time.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: A lot of people say, you know, it’s not fair to look at these results and compare us to other countries which are more homogeneous.
JOHN KING: Sure, we have to be cautious about these results. At the same time, we can look at a country like Canada that’s had a very large influx of immigrants over the last few years and is doing better.
We can look at countries around the world like Poland, which is a country that has significant population of low-income students, and yet they have made a lot of progress over the last decade. And we should ask why.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: Julia Kempster and her family moved from New Zealand to Maryland earlier this year. She gets asked a lot of questions from classmates.
JULIA KEMPSTER, Sophomore, Walt Whitman High School: Can you talk for me? Can you say the number 10 for me? Is it true that there’s one person to every 65 sheep?
KAVITHA CARDOZA: School is very different in the U.S., more students, more tests. But the biggest difference, Julia says, is, in New Zealand, she had to interpret and analyze information a lot more.
JULIA KEMPSTER: Here, it’s like you get everything from the book. It’s like the facts are the facts. And there’s lots of dates you have to memorize, because everything is very important. And it’s not a lot about what you think, but what’s in the book.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: Despite the differences, Julia’s a typical teenager. She loves the social aspect of her U.S. school.
JULIA KEMPSTER: In America, like, you have a lot of dances and social things you get to go to, which is very fun. You get to do, obviously, like homecoming and everything like that. Yes, it’s fun.
TOM LOVELESS, Brookings Institution: American high schools place a huge emphasis on the social life of teenagers.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: And that’s part of the problem, says Tom Loveless with the Brookings Institution. He says homecoming, prom, rallies may help teach teamwork and creativity, but don’t improve academics. He says we need to look at the role culture plays in reinforcing education.
Loveless surveyed almost 400 foreign exchange students who spent a year in an American high school, and asked them about the relative importance given to math and sports.
TOM LOVELESS: I asked them, among your friends, among your peer groups, how important is it to be successful at mathematics?
And they said, well — the foreign exchanges said, well, back home, it’s fairly important whether or not you’re good at mathematics. In the United States, not so much.
And then I asked them about sports. How important is it to be a good athlete?
And with both boys and girls, and no matter from what country they came from, they said, in the United States, the emphasis on being a good athlete was much more important in the United States than back with their peer groups in their home country.
KAVITHA CARDOZA: There is a bright spot when it comes to this year’s PISA test results. The gap between rich and poor students in the U.S. is closing faster than any other developed country, but it will take a lot more effort to reach the top.
For the “PBS NewsHour” and Education Week, I’m Kavitha Cardoza, reporting from Bethesda, Maryland.
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