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

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    ALSIP, IL - MAY 4: A plaque marks the gravesite of Emmett Till at Burr Oak Cemetery May 4, 2005 in Aslip, Illinois. The FBI is considering exhuming the body of Till, whose unsolved 1955 murder in Money, Mississippi, after whistling at a white woman helped spark the U.S. civil rights movement. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

    The bill is named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy killed in 1955 after whistling at a white woman. His unsolved murder helped spark the U.S. civil rights movement. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Racially motivated, civil rights-era killings that are now cold cases will get fresh looks under legislation signed by President Barack Obama.

    Obama signed the bill Friday. It indefinitely extends a 2007 law that calls for a full accounting of race-based deaths, many of which had been closed for decades. The law was set to expire next year.

    The bill is named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy killed in 1955 after whistling at a white woman. His killers were acquitted of murder but later admitted their crimes to a reporter and couldn’t be retried.

    Many other similar cases were poorly investigated and prosecutions were rare.

    The law provides federal resources to local jurisdictions to look into the cases and extends the time span of cases to be considered to Dec. 31, 1979. It will also require the Justice Department and the FBI to consult with civil rights organizations, universities and others who had been gathering evidence on the deaths.

    There has so far been one conviction as more than 100 cases from the 1960s and earlier have been reviewed. New racially suspicious deaths have been identified for investigation.

    North Carolina GOP Sen. Richard Burr and Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill sponsored the bill in the Senate. In the House, the bill was negotiated by civil rights icon John Lewis, D-Ga.; John Conyers, D-Mich., the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee; and Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.

    The post Obama signs bill to review civil rights-era killings appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And finally to our “NewsHour Shares”, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, is making its mark on social media with a surprisingly popular Instagram account, with pictures of prohibited items agents deem unfit to fly.

    The “NewsHour”’s Julia Griffin met the man behind the account.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: Guns, knives, and holiday pies–when it comes to air travel this month, only two of the three will land you on Santa’s naughty list, but they all could land on TSA’s Instagram feed. A click-bait-worthy mix of confiscated security items and explosive-detecting dogs, TSA’s Instagram has been rated by “Rolling Stone” magazine as the app’s fourth best — right between pop stars Rihanna and Beyonce.

    BOB BURNS, Lead Social Media Specialist, TSA: As a former musician, I always wanted to make “Rolling Stone,” and I never imagined that I would make it through social media with TSA.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: Bob Burns runs the agency’s feed.

    BOB BURNS: I think they find it fascinating because they can’t believe people are bringing items on the plane, like the guns and the knives and grenades.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: Some of the bizarre highlights include: a homemade avalanche charger, this bag of live eels, a human skull hidden in a clay souvenir pot, and, of course, canines at work and at play.

    BOB BURNS: You can never go wrong with the dogs.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: But the most-liked post? This full-sized dummy corpse from the film “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

    BOB BURNS: I don’t know how they worked it out, if they had a ticket for him with the airline, but we had to screen through the x-ray.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: TSA’s images mainly come from security check incident reports. And while the stream of explosives and weapons might trigger alarm, Burns contends it shows the often-criticized agency is getting the job done.

    BOB BURNS: I think it acts as a deterrent. It shows that we’re finding these things, and if anyone was thinking about sneaking something through, they’re going to say, “Well, maybe I shouldn’t, because they’re probably going to find it.”

    JULIA GRIFFIN: But the TSA’s posts also provide travel tips. Really need that five-blade mace on your vacation? Put it in your checked bag. Want to know if you can carry on that mini alligator head? Tweet @asktsa. And need to make sure that laptop you left at Newark airport last month gets returned?

    BOB BURNS: We recommend people place their business card or their contact information on their laptop.

    JULIA GRIFFIN: For the “PBS NewsHour”, I’m Julia Griffin at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.

    The post The one place people ‘like’ the TSA appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: This fall, tensions around free speech and political sensitivities have erupted on several college campuses. “New Yorker” writer Nathan Heller wonders if listening differently might help.

    Tonight, Nathan brings us the latest installment in our series “#IMHO,” “In My Humble Opinion.”

    NATHAN HELLER, Contributor, The New Yorker: We’ve been hearing a lot about free speech on campus, yet the crucial challenge now isn’t what we’re free to express. It’s how we listen. Solving college’s problems today, I believe, paradoxically means listening less like wise scholars and more like travelers.

    Americans who got out of town this summer might recall the feeling. Around the house, we know what we’re listening for. An early clap on the porch means that the newspaper has arrived. The dishwasher making that weird sound again calls for the usual repair. We tune out the announcements on the subway.

    When we travel, however, we listen differently. We process everything with fresh ears. There are no expectations, no old scripts to follow.

    Part of the problem is language. Many people get behind the same abstract words, and yet their meanings diverge and harden. What about that worn-out word “diversity,” which recently emerged in a dispute about an old mural at Oberlin College. The painting, a tableau of several cultures, including a black man playing the saxophone and a South Asian man charming a snake, had been created to celebrate diversity.

    But some current students thought these caricatures stood for the opposite of diversity. They made variety exotic. The mural was eventually painted over — to the alarm of others, who worried about censorship of art.

    If all sides listened to the debate like strangers in a strange land, what might they have heard? They might have noticed that the mural’s right to exist as art — as a creative work reflecting its moment — had never been in question. Instead, one side thought the mural was racist. Another saw it as merely an artifact of the past.

    “Diversity,” as a concept, had been tossed around so vaguely that it was unclear which was the case. Travelers listening for the first time might not be so sure. We expect new students to have disorienting experiences when they arrive on campus. Yet if higher education is really going to be worth the name, the listening needs to happen on a broader institutional level, too.

    Education, it’s sometimes said, is a journey. Let’s all make sure we hear enough to make the trip worthwhile.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Listening, good advice for all of us.

    The post Why college should be a journey of listening appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, the story of a small but influential publisher that is succeeding at making poetry ever more relevant to the problems and dynamics of our time.

    Jeffrey Brown reports from Minnesota.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Recommend encouraging —

    WOMAN: Rejection.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Rejection.

    JEFF SHOTTS, Executive Editor, Graywolf Press: An encouraging rejection.

    JEFFREY BROWN: An encouraging rejection as opposed to what?

    JEFF SHOTTS: A discouraging rejection.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Jeff Shotts clearly loves his job. But one part of it — sorting through thousands of poetry manuscripts every year — and rejecting 99 percent of them — that’s not his favorite.

    JEFF SHOTTS: I don’t want to be the “rejection guy.”

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFF SHOTTS: Jeffrey — rejection is part of the equation of being an artist and not just a poet. But, you know, we’re receiving thousands of poetry submissions.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, literally.

    JEFF SHOTTS:: Literally, every year. And we’re publishing about 10 to 12 poetry books in a year. And the math of that is very difficult I think in one way for poets probably to hear.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I think I saw your shoulders just slump as you said it.

    JEFF SHOTTS: A little bit, yes, yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Shotts is executive editor at Graywolf Press in Minneapolis, a small but prominent literary publisher.

    JEFF SHOTTS: What time was that?

    JEFFREY BROWN: One of the hundreds of sometimes tiny cogs that keep the world of poetry alive and thriving. And those books Graywolf has been publishing — of many poetic styles and subjects — are getting a lot of attention these days. Volumes like Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen”, examining overt and subtle racism, which has won numerous prizes and garnered huge sales.

    And more recently, Solmaz Sharif’s “Look” — about war and violence — was on the short list for the national book award. Two other Graywolf collections made the long list.

    JEFF SHOTTS: We want our poetry books to be challenging — challenging the way that these are poets who are engaging with important social issues in many cases.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Do you think this accounts in part for the success — the recent success you’ve had?

    JEFF SHOTTS: I think there is something about the fact that so many of us in American culture are saturated with media, saturated with social media maybe in particular. But the idea of being able to hold an object in your hand, it is an engagement, an individual engagement with an individual voice that I don’t think any other art form than poetry can provide in the same way.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Graywolf was started 42 years ago in Washington state. Ten years in, the press came to Minnesota, where it found a welcoming home.

    JEFF SHOTTS: Books that are relevant to what people are thinking about.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The Twin Cities have developed a reputation as a small press Mecca and big book town.

    We visited during its annual festival of books where indie locals, who punch well above their weight, sold their wares: coffee house press, rain taxi review, milkweed editions, and many more.

    Graywolf’s Jeff Shotts says there’s never been a better time for poetry publishing.

    JEFF SHOTTS: The vitality of poetry right now I think is at a pitch high. And I think there are more people reading it, engaging with it, performing it, saying it out loud, saying it in an interior way and making it part of their daily lives.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And a lot of people writing it — which brings us back to that rejection business. This past summer, when Graywolf put out a call for manuscripts, nearly 2,000 were sent in.

    It’s cruel, but you like to see the number go down.

    WOMAN: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Shotts and colleagues read every work submitted, sorted them into yes and, mostly, no categories, but also drew careful distinctions between “no, not ever” and a “no, but maybe someday”.

    JEFF SHOTTS: You know, there was something in this that was exciting. It didn’t quite hit for us here, but, you know, let’s keep in touch and is there a conversation that can happen? That’s something I’m excited about having as an ongoing out here conversation with poets all over the world.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You would reject people several times, but keep talking.

    JEFF SHOTTS: Absolutely.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And then eventually something would come.

    JEFF SHOTTS: This has certainly happened and we’ve had marvelous books as a result of it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And his advice to those who don’t make the cut?

    JEFF SHOTTS: I don’t think it makes someone less of a poet not to be published. They are still a poet. So, there’s publishing and then there’s poetry.

    Yes, those things can go hand in hand in a way to present particular kinds of poetry. But more often than not, poetry is also meant to be performed or spoken or shared intimately. That is absolutely the place where poetry is inside our lives.

    JEFFREY BROWN: From Minneapolis, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the “PBS NewsHour”.

    The post A poetry publisher on the math of rejection appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to the analysis of Shields and Ponnuru. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Ramesh Ponnuru of “The National Review.” David Brooks is away.

    Welcome to both of you.

    Let’s start out, Mark, by talking about this back and forth. Every day, there’s a new piece of information about it did between what Donald Trump is saying about whether the Russians were involved in this hacking of the Democratic National Committee and what the CIA and now the FBI, President Obama weighed in today on this. What are we to make of all this?

    MARK SHIELDS: I think what we’re to make of it is, to me what’s fascinating is not what Donald Trump is in no particular position to know, but what’s most alarming to me is Donald Trump will become president of the United States, he won the election. This is not about who won the election. He will become the 45th president the 20th of January.

    It is about whether the sovereignty and self-determination of the United States was compromised by an organized at the highest Russian levels, which means the imprimatur of Mr. Putin, espionage, sabotage of the American democratic system. And there is an office in this country that’s higher than that of president and it’s patriot, and John McCain is filling that right now, and John McCain is saying, these are questions that must be answered, that these are questions that demand an answer.

    And the idea, as Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, says, sending it to the Intelligence Committee is a way of sending it to limbo because we had — we spent $40 million in five years in the Intelligence Committee investigating torture at Abu Ghraib, we have yet to get a report about it. That’s a nice way of saying, oh, it’s national security, we can’ t talk about it. We will not get a 9/11 Commission. But I think John McCain and the Armed Services Committee with Jack Reed, the Democrat, with Lindsey Graham and others, and Tim Kaine in a pretty damn good committee, I think you will get an honest hearing and we need it.

    The idea people are so concerned about a $500,000 contribution to the Clinton Foundation changing and influencing American policy somehow indirectly and incurious about Russia’s involvement and sabotaging an American election is unforgivable to me and irrational.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ramesh, do you think this will be investigated thoroughly?

    RAMESH PONNURU: I think this controversy is expanding in all directions. You’re going to have an investigation. You’re going to have a report from the administration.

    During the a press conference, President Obama said there would be a report tying loose ends, tying it all together before he leaves office. And then you’re going to have the hearings over the configuration of Trump secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, where I believe the number one topic and probably number two topic as well is going to be the administration’s intentions toward Russia.

    Trump is going to be our third president in a row coming into office wanting friendly relations with Russia. But, of course, this incredible backdrop now is going to color everything.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Mark, getting to what both of you are saying, this does leave a cloud — a dark cloud hanging over the question of our democracy. I mean, if another nation, unfriendly, to put it I guess in the best terms, can come in and leak and get information and have it leaked at will, what does that say about our system of government?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, I mean, it says — no, I mean, it says that, A, we’re vulnerable to such attacks and, B, that we’re manipulated and could be manipulated by Russia. I mean, Russia, this is not a one-off for Russia. I mean, Russia’s done it already in Germany and Italy and democracies in Western Europe and Eurasia.

    I mean, and it’s — and they’re good at it. Let’s be very blunt, it’s not a major investment of time or money. It is of talent and skill, and they have been very good at it.

    But, Judy, I mean, the question is — obviously, it’s on everybody’s mind — is why did they just reveal John Podesta’s and the Democratic National Convention and Debbie Wasserman Schultz —

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Exactly.

    MARK SHIELDS: — and the Democratic campaigns, and only attempt, according to reports and the best evidence, to get into one Republican staffer’s email who had long since left the committee? And if, in fact, they did have Republican — why that wasn’t leaked? So, it does raise questions about where Putin’s affections and loyalties lay in this election.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ramesh, the president was very careful about the way he spoke about it today. He mentioned in his news conference, but a lot of people are just — are saying they’re now convinced that the Russians, Vladimir Putin was trying to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.

    RAMESH PONNURU: Well, yes, that does seem to be the view, at least based on the latest reporting of the U.S. government.

    I think, though, that one of the things that President Obama was trying to do is to not allow that to be the conversation that consumes the Democrats as they figure out what happened in this election. He also made a big point of talking about the mistakes the Democrats made, although was careful about that, too, since he didn’t want to personally criticize Hillary Clinton.

    If the Democrats obsess about the Russian role in this and they take their eye off the ball of some of the reforms they need to undertake themselves.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But it does — again, as both of you were saying, the suggestion is if, indeed it is known, if they conclude at the end of the investigation the Russians were behind this, something is going to have to be done. President Obama said he told Vladimir Putin, Mark, to cut it out, but beyond that we don’t know —

    MARK SHIELDS: No, something has to be done, there’s no question, and whether it’s revealing Putin’s own financial situation, his wheeling and dealing, embarrassing him, whatever form of retaliation.

    I thought what was most interesting, Judy, was Donald Trump’s official response which was an attack upon the CIA.

    Now, Donald Trump has never spent time in Washington, so he’s never been to Langley, Virginia, where the whole CIA headquarters. He would find on the wall of stars 113 names of American CIA operatives and employees who died defending this country.

    And one of them, Hugh Redmond, was 19 years a prisoner in Shanghai where he was tortured by the Chinese communists. I should not get ahead of myself because Donald Trump doesn’t like people who were captured. He likes people who weren’t captured.

    But, I mean — but these are patriots, these are people who work hard and no president coming in should ever disparage or demean or denigrate the heroic efforts these people go to, to keep us safe.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ramesh, Mark mentioned Rex Tillerson who is the choice by Donald Trump to head the State Department. There are going to be these hearings, his confirmation hearings. What do you think is going to come out of that? Do you think he’s going to sail through knowing what we know now about his close connections with Mr. Putin?

    RAMESH PONNURU: My suspicion is he will not see this process as one of sailing through. I think there’s going to be tough questioning. I do think he comes with some real advantages. I think the Republicans, who, of course, have a majority in the Senate, tend to think well of businessmen, successful businessmen which he certainly is. He’s got the support of some leading Republican foreign policy establishment figures. Apparently, former Vice President Dick Cheney is making calls on his behalf.

    But absolutely, there are going to be these questions about the Russia policy. I was saying how Trump will be the third president in a row coming in wanting friendly relations. It didn’t work out for the previous two.

    So, one has to ask whether this is an ambition that makes sense for our country right now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What else about Mr. Tillerson, Mark, and then the other I guess prominent appointee this week is former Texas Governor Rick Perry to run the Energy Department. We’re just about finished now filling out the Trump cabinet, at least those he’s nominating, to take these positions.

    Do you think we have a pretty good sense of where Donald Trump wants to take the country from looking at it?

    MARK SHIELDS: I don’t, Judy. I think Mr. Tillerson in all likelihood will be confirmed for all the reasons that Ramesh addressed. He’s got a strong — Bob Gates recommended him. He’s got Jim Baker and Condi Rice weighing in and it appears the Republican establishment is certainly. He doesn’t need Dick Cheney’s support now as much as the Gates-Rice-Baker backing.

    But that aside, there is always a presumption in favor of a president and the cabinet because the president gets to choose the cabinet is. They don’t last — unlike a judge who’s appointed a life time, that this greatest group may attach to.

    Rick Perry, irony of ironies, who can forget 2011 in Auburn Hills, Michigan, as every Republican does in a presidential debate talked about all the agencies he was going to get rid of them, you recall there was Education and there was Commerce and that third one — whoops — and it was Energy. But here he is and instead of getting rid of it — maybe he’s going to get rid of it.

    But the irony, the man who called Donald Trump a cancer on the conservative movement, who had to be excised, is now nominated by Donald Trump showing what a big person Donald Trump is to be his secretary of energy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The last thing I want to talk to you about is Syria, President Obama, Ramesh, was asked about this today. We see Aleppo, which is the rebel stronghold finally all but completely falling today to the Assad regime. President Obama says, yes, I take responsibility. I take responsibility for everything that happens on my watch, what — I mean, how do you read the Obama administration and the story of what’s happened in Syria?

    RAMESH PONNURU: I don’t see how this is anything other than a black mark on the Obama administration’s record. Of course, there is a temptation for Americans to think that everything that happens in the world is somehow, you know, our responsibility, our fault or our credit. But here we have a situation where the administration pursued a policy that by his own admission today was ineffective and where his continual, even now he wants to work with the United Nations while admitting the Russians are going to prevent the United Nations from doing anything.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark?

    MARK SHIELDS: The villains of the piece remain Assad himself, Putin, Iran, al Qaeda, and ISIS. I mean, you’re talking about the death. But the failure of the United States to be able to lead any kind of movement, to save the humanitarian tragedy, to avoid and rescue the innocent suffering there is a failure, is a real failure.

    I mean, it is — Aleppo will be in the same category as Dresden. It will be remembered as a humanitarian disaster. But the president gets responsibility, the Congress are the cowardly lions in this.

    I mean, they talk a big game and none of them steps up. Very few. I mean, there was Jeff Flake and Tim Kaine who were willing to lead an authorization of military force, but the others talk a good game. And as far as the “no fly” zone, there wasn’t the will to impose it, let’s be honest, and there wasn’t the leadership.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And I was struck the president said today, every day, he thinks about, you know, what more he could have done and in particularly, I was struck by he spoke about the children who have died in Syria.

    Well, it’s great to have both of you here. Ramesh Ponnuru and Mark Shields, Friday night. Thank you both.

    MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

    RAMESH PONNURU: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: OK.

    The post Shields and Ponnuru on the ‘dark cloud’ of Russian cyberattacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Steven Mnuchin, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's reported choice for U.S. Treasury Secretary, speaks to members of the news media upon his arrival at Trump Tower in New York, U.S. November 30, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar - RTSU0DY

    Steven Mnuchin is one of several wealthy individuals from the private sector tapped for jobs in the new Cabinet. He spent nearly two decades at Goldman Sachs before creating his own hedge fund and financing Hollywood movies. Photo by REUTERS/Mike Segar

    WASHINGTON — Democrats are eyeing the Senate confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s Treasury secretary pick selection as a prime opportunity to chip away at the Republican’s populist appeal with working-class voters and begin rebuilding their own party’s economic message.

    Given the narrow GOP majority in the Senate, Steven Mnuchin is likely to be confirmed. But Democrats plan to rough him up along the way, grilling the former Goldman Sachs executive over his Wall Street ties and his stake in a bank that profited from the foreclosure crisis. Several people who lost their homes are seeking to testify in the upcoming confirmation hearings.

    Some Republicans are privately questioning Mnuchin’s readiness to face aggressive questioning by senators. He has no government background, and his media appearances immediately after being picked raised alarms about his political inexperience. Some of the president-elect’s advisers were caught off guard by the bold promises Mnuchin made to reporters following the official announcement, including pledging the largest tax cut since President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and up to 4 percent economic growth.

    READ MORE: Treasury nominee Mnuchin was Trump’s top fundraiser

    As of Friday, Mnuchin, a multimillionaire, had not yet turned in vetting materials to the senators who will be initially weighing his nomination, including three years of tax returns and other financial information.

    To some Democrats, Mnuchin is an even richer target than Trump’s State Department pick, Rex Tillerson, who forged close ties with Russia during his long career at Exxon Mobil. While Democrats are eager to question Trump’s own connections to Russia, their ability to discredit his populist appeal is more central to the party’s post-election rebuilding efforts.

    “Is Mr. Mnuchin, a former long-time executive at Goldman Sachs, really going to re-establish Glass-Steagall and control Wall Street greed and illegal behavior? I doubt it,” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said in a preview of some of the issues he and other Democrats plan to raise in the confirmation hearings.

    Mnuchin’s connections to OneWest, a bank that foreclosed on thousands of homeowners after the housing crisis, are expected to be at the forefront of the hearings. He headed a group of investors who owned the bank, which foreclosed on more than 36,000 families in California alone — most in minority neighborhoods — according to the California Reinvestment Coalition.

    Some of those former homeowners say they hope to attend the Senate hearings, with some telling The Associated Press they would like to testify about their firsthand experiences with bank practices they considered unfair. Senate Democrats have launched a new website inviting people to share their personal experiences with OneWest, and could use the submissions in the hearings.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., compared Mnuchin to “someone out of a bad movie for what went wrong on Wall Street.”

    Mnuchin is one of several wealthy individuals from the private sector tapped for jobs in the new Cabinet. He spent nearly two decades at Goldman Sachs before creating his own hedge fund and financing Hollywood movies. Mnuchin then served as Trump’s campaign finance chairman and is well-liked by the president-elect’s team.

    Tom Korologos, one of Washington’s most experienced hands when it comes to confirmation hearings, said wealthy, politically inexperienced Cabinet nominees can find the “arcane art” of the confirmation process a challenge.

    “They may not be used to taking criticism, answering uncomfortable questions. They may feel that since the president picked them, why should the Senate get to second-guess?” he said. “But that’s not how our system works. There is nothing like the confirmation process.”

    Trump’s transition team began assigning “sherpas” — Washington lingo for the people who guide nominees through their meetings with lawmakers and help prep them for the hearings — to its picks around Thanksgiving. Mnuchin’s sherpa is Mary Waters, a congressional liaison for the Agriculture Department during George W. Bush’s administration.

    Trump’s pool of potential sherpas has been limited by his decision to ban lobbyists from his transition team. Korologos, for example, has helped more than 300 people with confirmation hearings but couldn’t work with Trump because he is a registered lobbyist.

    Mnuchin, 53, has met with some Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee, which will vet the Treasury nominee before likely recommending him for a vote before the full chamber. Democrats, including their ranking committee member Ron Wyden of Oregon, are expected to begin meetings with Mnuchin after reviewing his vetting documents.

    AP writers Ken Thomas and Josh Boak contributed to this report.

    The post Seeing chance to discredit Trump’s populist appeal, Democrats eye confirmation fight over Treasury pick appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Leader of the Five Star Movement and comedian Beppe Grillo speaks during an election campaign rally for European parliament elections in Rome, Italy May 23, 2014. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo - RTX2G6BF

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But first, earlier this month, Italian voters rejected a referendum to alter that nation’s constitution — in what was a stern rebuke of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who resigned in the aftermath. The vote was seen as the latest instance of a rising tide of populism both in Europe, and here, against elites and the perceived establishment.

    From Rome, special correspondent Christopher Livesay explains.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: It started as just another protest movement. Now, it could control the Italian government and many in Europe are terrified. It’s called the Five Star Movement. A foul-mouthed comedian named Beppe Grillo founded the group only seven years ago. Today, the Five Star Movement is Italy’s fastest growing party, picking off votes from both left and right, with a populist message skewering the political establishment amid the punishing economic fallout of the euro crisis.

    The government has long dismissed them as anti-Euro nationalists — done so at their now clear, and great peril. This month, center-left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, a staunch defender of the European Union, was forced to resign when he failed in a referendum on constitutional reforms that would have weakened the powers of the senate, in order to streamline the legislative process.

    The Five Star Movement campaigned hardest against Renzi. New elections are expected early next year. And it’s the Five Star Movement with the wind in its sails.

    Franco Pavoncello is a professor of political science and the president of John Cabot University in Rome.

    FRANCO PAVONCELLO, John Cabot University in Rome: The Five Star Movement is basically a rejectionist party that feels that the entire political spectrum has been disqualified by decades of bad management, corruption, economic decline, where the people are much poorer than their grandparents. And this is where we see a parallel with Brexit and the United States. There is a sense of the dispossessed, of the disenfranchised, those who feel they don’t really have a voice anymore.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: That voice is channeled in parliament by lawmakers like Manlio Di Stefano, a leading figure in the movement.

    What will a Five Star Movement government look like?

    MANLIO DI STEFANO, Member of Parliament, Five Star Movement: How will we govern? How will people give us the numbers? People will give us the numbers. We are sure 100 percent that the next political election, people will realize that Five Star Movement against the rest of the establishment.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: So it’s the Five Star Movement against everyone else.

    MANLIO DI STEFANO: I think, yes.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: At just 35 years old, Di Stefano epitomizes the youthful rebellion at the heart of the movement, telling his parliamentary rivals they’d never worked a real job in their lives.

    Italians like Roberta Maggi who feel increasingly left behind are the core of the Five Star Movement’s support. Last year, the landlord shut off the single mother’s heat and hot water when she lost her job as a secretary, and could no longer afford rent.

    She heats up pots of water on the stove and she washes her kids her in the sink.

    ROBERTA MAGGI, Unemployed Single Mother (translated): You see what I’m going through? Sometimes I just break down.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: With Christmas just around the corner, she faces eviction this very morning. Neighbors and friends have rallied to her side.

    Among them: Roberta Lombardi, another member of parliament from the Five Star Movement.

    ROBERTA LOMBARDI, Member of Parliament, Five Star Movement: We are here to try to stop this eviction.

    But first, earlier this month, Italian voters rejected a referendum to alter that nation’s constitution — in what was a stern rebuke of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who resigned in the aftermath. The vote was seen as the latest instance of a rising tide of populism both in Europe, and here, against elites and the perceived establishment.

    From Rome, special correspondent Christopher Livesay explains.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: It started as just another protest movement. Now, it could control the Italian government and many in Europe are terrified. It’s called the Five Star Movement. A foul-mouthed comedian named Beppe Grillo founded the group only seven years ago. Today, the Five Star Movement is Italy’s fastest growing party, picking off votes from both left and right, with a populist message skewering the political establishment amid the punishing economic fallout of the euro crisis.

    The government has long dismissed them as anti-Euro nationalists — done so at their now clear, and great peril. This month, center-left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, a staunch defender of the European Union, was forced to resign when he failed in a referendum on constitutional reforms that would have weakened the powers of the senate, in order to streamline the legislative process.

    The Five Star Movement campaigned hardest against Renzi. New elections are expected early next year. And it’s the Five Star Movement with the wind in its sails.

    Franco Pavoncello is a professor of political science and the president of John Cabot University in Rome.

    FRANCO PAVONCELLO, John Cabot University in Rome: The Five Star Movement is basically a rejectionist party that feels that the entire political spectrum has been disqualified by decades of bad management, corruption, economic decline, where the people are much poorer than their grandparents. And this is where we see a parallel with Brexit and the United States. There is a sense of the dispossessed, of the disenfranchised, those who feel they don’t really have a voice anymore.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: That voice is channeled in parliament by lawmakers like Manlio Di Stefano, a leading figure in the movement.

    What will a Five Star Movement government look like?

    MANLIO DI STEFANO: How will we govern? How will people give us the numbers? People will give us the numbers. We are sure 100 percent that the next political election, people will realize that Five Star Movement against the rest of the establishment.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: So it’s the Five Star Movement against everyone else.

    MANLIO DI STEFANO: I think, yes.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: At just 35-years-old, Di Stefano epitomizes the youthful rebellion at the heart of the movement, telling his parliamentary rivals they’d never worked a real job in their lives.

    Italians like Roberta Maggi who feel increasingly left behind are the core of the Five Star Movement’s support. Last year, the landlord shut off the single mother’s heat and hot water when she lost her job as a secretary, and could no longer afford rent.

    She heats up pots of water on the stove and she washes her kids her in the sink.

    ROBERTA MAGGI (translated): You see what I’m going through? Sometimes I just break down.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: With Christmas just around the corner, she faces eviction this very morning. Neighbors and friends have rallied to her side.

    Among them: Roberta Lombardi, another member of parliament from the Five Star Movement.

    ROBERTA LOMBARDI: We are here to try to stop this eviction.

    RULA JEBREAL, American University of Rome: Oh, Russia is the real winner of all of this. I mean, they kill the news itself by creating — by flooding the market with fake news. Look, globally, wee have a presidential candidate, president-elect who told the Russians, yes, please hack the Democratic National Committee and release the emails, I want you to release the emails, inviting them actually to the party.

    We have Marie Le Pen, Madam Le Pen in France who asked the Russians to give her $7 million so she could run a campaign. And the Five Stars here are selecting these kinds of news. It’s a national security threat, what we’re seeing.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: The Five Star movement denies it has a pro- Russian agenda. But some of their policy proposals would benefit Russia, such as pushing for Italy to leave NATO, and for the E.U. to end sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea in 2014.

    MANLIO DI STEFANO: We want to cut these sanctions.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: You want to cut European union sanctions against Russia.

    MANLIO DI STEFANO: Yes. The only ones that are losing money are the European people. They did something that was just a demonstration of power — Europe against Russia. And Russia is winning.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: Indeed, it’s the Five Star movement’s Euro skepticism that’s shaken investors and much of Europe. If elected, they’ve promised to hold a referendum on abandoning the Euro currency. As the Eurozone’s third-largest economy, Italy’s exit could be disastrous.

    The government is now in the hands of an interim cabinet, and new elections must be held. According to polls, the Five Star Movement won’t win an all-out majority. But they’re confident that the polls are wrong — just as they were for another political iconoclast: Donald Trump.

    MANLIO DI STEFANO: He made his campaign having against him the full establishment system. And everybody was really against him. We are facing the same thing in Italy. And we will succeed like they did. But as I said, we will really do what we are promising.

    CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY: For the “PBS NewsHour”, I’m Christopher Livesay, in Rome.

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    Coal waits to be among the last shipments to be loaded on train cars to depart the Hobet mine in Boone County, West Virginia, U.S. May 12, 2016.  Picture taken May 12, 2016.    To match Special Report USA-COAL/HOBET   REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTSL7QO

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Black lung disease is well known for causing the deaths of thousands of American coal miners over decades. Now, a new report finds that miners may be suffering from the most advanced form of the disease at a rate ten times higher than what the U.S. government has reported.

    Hari Sreenivasan in our New York studios has the story.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: For the past five years, the government has reported just under 100 cases of complicated black lung disease, which is also called progressive massive fibrosis. But a new NPR investigation found nearly 1,000 cases in nearly the same time from clinic reports in four states — Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

    The extent of the problem has stunned a number of researchers and experts who work with miners as well. One of the miners diagnosed with black lung and profiled in the NPR stories — Mackie Branham — spoke of just how difficult it is for him to breathe and his ill health. But he said mining was in his blood.

    MACKIE BRANHAM, Diagnosed With Black Lung: Takes a lot of pressure in my chest at all times. I’ve never been scared to death. It don’t bother me a bit. It’s just I won’t see my kids grow up. But if I had it to do over, I would do it again. If that’s what it took to provide for my family.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Howard Berkes has been uncovering this in a two- part series that concludes tonight on “All Things Considered” and he joins me now from Salt Lake City.

    Howard, it is so difficult to hear that man struggling to breathe, and it’s also hard to reconcile how he says he would do this again because this is what he would do for his family, even though the health challenges that he and so many people in this community are facing.

    HOWARD BERKES, NPR: It’s so common to hear that. Miners want to go back to work. Mackie Branham told me if he could get a lung transplant tomorrow, he hopes he could go back to work, which is not going to happen. But mining, as he said, is in his blood. It’s part of the local culture, local history. Generations of families mine and it really is about the only decent job in most parts of Appalachia.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Let’s talk about the gap between the numbers here, the numbers the government documented and the numbers you’re able to uncover in your investigation. What accounts for this?

    HOWARD BERKES: Well, first of all, it’s the limitations on government researchers. This is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and they track black lung disease by bringing in miners for x-rays. But they’re limited by law to only testing working miners, number one, and the x-rays are voluntary, number two.

    So, they miss non-working miners, people who’ve retired, and they’re also missing a huge segment, most miners, really, who avoid getting tested because they fear if there’s a positive test for black lung, somehow their mining company will figure out and they will lose their jobs.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But that’s illegal.

    HOWARD BERKES: It’s illegal, but miners widely believe it. Every single miner I’ve talked to in Appalachia in the last five years has said the same thing. What they fear is just even going to the NIOSH Vans that come into their communities with x-ray equipments and being seen going into the vans, just that could cause the mining company to say this guy might have black lung.

    And mining — the last mining company you worked for is the mining company that saddled with your black lung benefits and your healthcare. And so, you could have worked for another mining company for 20 years, but if you worked for the last one for a year, they’re the ones that pay. And so, miners believe that if the mining company finds out, they’ll lose their jobs, so they don’t get tested.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: This is also one of the worst forms of black lung. Is there something different that’s happening in the mining that’s happening now that’s increasing the likelihood they get the worst form of it?

    HOWARD BERKES: Well, for at least a decade or so, the big coal mining seams in Appalachia have played out and there are thinner seams now, and those thinner seams have coal mixed in with rock. That rock contains silica, and they mine the rock and coal together, and so, their silica dust mixed in with the coal dust, with the coal dust, and silica is especially toxic and that is believed to be the cause of this very more serious stages of disease that are affecting these miners.

    It’s also causing them to get black lung a lot younger than what was typically used to be when you would see miners maybe in their 60s and 70s. We’ve talked to miners in their 30s and 40s who are now getting this most serious stage of black lung.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. So, what happens to a miner with this sort of the disease? I mean, who pays for it especially when so many small coal companies are going bankrupt because the energy markets are favoring natural gas now?

    HOWARD BERKES: Well, it’s also very large coal companies going bankrupt. If the coal company is self-insured and they don’t have enough assets, then they’re not going to have enough money to pay for the benefits, and the coal company is first in line to pay the benefits. If the coal company can’t pay the benefits then it shifts to the Federal Black Lung Trust Fund, a federal program.

    And the problem is if you have all the miners coming into the system requiring black lung benefits, coal companies are unable to pay, then that shifts to taxpayers.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And there’s an Affordable Care Act twist to this as well? These are pre-existing conditions if they went to a different plan, but if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, would these miners lose these benefits?

    HOWARD BERKES: Well, not only that, there is in the Affordable Care Act a specific benefit for coal miners with black lung that makes it easier for them to get black lung benefits. So, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, it will be back to the old days when it was much more difficult to get benefits in the first place.

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  All right. Howard Berkes is joining us from Salt Lake with NPR. Thanks so much.

    HOWARD BERKES: Thank you.

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    Children sit in a car as they wait to be evacuated from a rebel-held sector of eastern Aleppo, Syria December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail - RTX2VE1O

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Today brought renewed doubts about the durability of the plan to permit tens of thousands of civilians and fighters to leave Syria’s major eastern city, Aleppo. Evacuations that began yesterday abruptly stopped amid renewed violence and recriminations. Meantime, the Assad regime consolidated its hold on a sector of the city that rebels held for more than four years.

    We have this report from Dan Rivers of Independent Television News, and it’s from Aleppo.

    DAN RIVERS, ITN: Less than 24 hours after it started, the evacuation turned into a scramble for safety. Mortars had been fired and Red Crescent vehicles were forced to abandon the rescue of tens of thousands of civilians.

    Well, as you can see, the buses and the Red Crescent vehicles are pulling out. We’re hearing the sounds of mortars. It’s a lot of chaos here, but what’s clear is that there has been a breakdown of this ceasefire.

    Within minutes, Syrian soldiers were reinforcing the front line as an armored vehicle ventured further towards rebel territory. After an hour, the breakdown in trust was total — trucks dumping rubble to seal the escape route.

    A convoy, which had already left, was forced to turn around. Women and children waiting in the biting cold as negotiations failed.

    As this played out, we caught a rare glimpse of one of Syria’s allies, Hezbollah soldiers from Lebanon arriving to bolster the defenses along this key road.

    And then, the final confirmation, the plan to rescue civilians was failing. The convoy driving back into the ravaged enclave they’d only just left. For those on board, it must’ve been as confusing as it was terrifying.

    LINA SHAMY, East Aleppo Resident: These are the civilians that are turning back from the crossing point from the passage after it was closed.

    DAN RIVERS: And where it was closed, officers were already consolidating their grip on the last checkpoint, leaving those looking on in no doubt which way the wind is blowing now.

    Any vestige of the rebels is rapidly being expunged, a revolution that has burnt out here in Aleppo, leaving behind a legacy that horrifies many ordinary people.

    LEENA TARSHA, West Aleppo Resident: It really breaks my heart to see the city like this, the old city like this.

    DAN RIVERS: Do you think people in Aleppo can forgive each other on each side of the front line?

    LEENA TARSHA: Of course, because if we couldn’t, we wouldn’t have stayed here. Of course, we can. Of course like the people, the people are strong.

    DAN RIVERS: The ceasefire may have broken down for now. But there’s no reversing President Assad’s victory here — a position of strength, which seems unassailable, but one which has been achieved at the cost of this city’s people and heritage.

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    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a USA Thank You Tour event at Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, U.S., December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson - RTX2V9HJ

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: After a week filled with Cabinet announcements from President-elect Trump, it came to a close with a controversial ambassadorial nominee, and the last few rallies for what he’s calling his “thank you” tour.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Hershey, Pennsylvania, was Mr. Trump’s latest stop last night, where he made a point of thanking African-American supporters, albeit in front of a largely white audience.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), President-Elect: I talk about crime, I talk about lack of education, talk about no jobs, and I’d say, what the hell do you have to lose, right? It’s true.

    And they’re smart and they picked up on it like you wouldn’t believe. And you know what else? They didn’t come out to vote for Hillary. They didn’t come out. And that was big — so thank you to the African-American community.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But exit polls tell a different story. Eight percent of blacks voted for the president-elect; 88 percent went for Clinton.

    The latest transition team announcement was Mr. Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Israel — David Friedman, who holds controversial positions on Israel.

    DAVID FRIEDMAN, Bankruptcy Lawyer: A Trump administration will never pressure Israel into a two-state solution or any other solution that is against the wishes of the Israeli people.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Friedman is a bankruptcy lawyer from New York who represented Trump in the past. He rejects the two-state solution as a, quote, “suicidal peace” and says Jews who do support it are worse than Holocaust collaborators. And he says the U.S. State Department — where he’ll be an employee — has a, quote, “100 year history of anti-Semitism.”

    Friedman also supports the highly controversial idea of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

    Today, Mr. Trump held meetings in New York, including with President Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.

    While at the White House, future chief of staff Reince Priebus got advice from current chief of staff Denis McDonough and a host of other former chiefs of staff.

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

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you, Brangham.

    And late today, there were several late news reports that President-elect Trump will nominate Republican Representative Nick Mulvaney of South Carolina to head the White House Office of Management and Budget. The official announcement is expected on Monday.

    In the day’s other news: bitter winter weather blasted the northeastern U.S., closing schools and roadways amid perilous driving conditions. Boston recorded its coldest temperature on this day in over a century — four degrees. Meanwhile, a blizzard warning was issued in Upstate New York, with wind chills plunging 20 to 30 degrees below zero.

    And in New York City, residents shared their strategies for surviving the arctic blast.

    WOMAN: I’ve heard it a good plan to put on layers, so I am layered up. I mean, I look like one of those sandwiches that you know, three pieces of bread, and you got the lettuce and the tomatoes.

    MAN: You got to keep moving around, or else if you stay still your toes freeze up, your hands freeze up.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You got to hand it to them.

    Farther west, the Oklahoma City area had to contend with freezing rain. Slick roads were to blame for three deaths overnight and over 100 crashes.

    The Pentagon says a Chinese warship has seized a U.S. Navy underwater drone in the South China Sea. It happened yesterday, northwest of the Subic Bay, off the Philippines. It was believed to be the first such incident. Pentagon officials said the unmanned drone was collecting unclassified scientific data. The U.S. has issued a formal diplomatic protest, demanding its return.

    North Carolina’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed a law today stripping his Democratic successor of some power. It merges the state’s boards of elections and ethics, and mandates an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. Governors used to pick a majority of members from their own party. Hundreds of protesters rallied inside North Carolina’s legislative building this week, accusing Republicans of undermining democracy. Incoming Governor Roy Cooper has threatened to sue.

    American drugmaker Mylan has started selling a generic version of its EpiPen. The life-saving allergy treatment will cost $300 for a pack of two. That’s half the price of its branded option.

    Earlier this year, high EpiPen costs triggered national criticism and inquiries from Congress. Stocks closed slightly lower on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than eight points to close at 19,843, the NASDAQ fell 19, and the S&P 500 slipped nearly four.

    For the week, the Dow gained nearly half a percent. Both the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 dropped a fraction of a percent.

    And mourners bid goodbye to a national hero today, as John Glenn’s casket lay in honor at Ohio’s state capitol in Columbus. The first American astronaut to orbit the earth served more than two decades as a U.S. senator from Ohio. He died last week at 95. Hundreds of visitors paid their respects at the first of several events honoring Glenn. A memorial service is being held tomorrow at Ohio State University.

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    U.S. President Barack Obama waves goodbye as he departs after speaking to journalists during his last news conference of the year at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTX2VEAD

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama strongly suggested today that Russian President Vladimir Putin was at the heart of the computer hacks on the Democratic Party. And he defended his administration’s restrained response in his year-end news conference.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Hello, everybody.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: As expected, the issue of alleged Russian hacking of the U.S. election dominated President Obama’s last news conference of the year. It came one day after President-elect Trump tweeted, “If Russia or some other entity was asking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?”

    Asked about that, Mr. Obama pointed out that the White House had told the public about Russia’s role, and that he personally had told Vladimir Putin to, quote, “cut it out,” but added:

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: How we approach an appropriate response that increases costs for them for behavior like this in the future, but does not create problems for us is something that’s worth taking the time to think about and figure out. And that’s exactly what we’ve done.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All this comes just days after reports emerged that intelligence officials concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in efforts to influence last month’s election in favor of Mr. Trump.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin. I will confirm that this happened at the highest levels of the Russian government, and I will let you make that determination as to whether there are high level Russian officials who go off rogue and decide to tamper with the U.S. election process without Vladimir Putin knowing about it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told supporters last night the hack was the result of Putin’s, quote, “personal beef” with her and contributed to her stunning loss. The Kremlin denied the accusations today, saying the U.S. has yet to provide any proof of Russian involvement.

    Back at the White House, President Obama was careful when he was asked about President- elect Trump’s perceived close relationship with Russia.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: He was very complimentary of Mr. Putin personally. Now, that wasn’t news. The president-elect during the campaign said so. And some folks who had made a career out of being anti-Russian didn’t say anything it. Over a third of Republican voters approve of Vladimir Putin, the former head of KGB. Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Turning to Syria, the president spoke of the fall of Aleppo and the ongoing humanitarian crisis there. He rejected criticism the administration failed to do enough to stop the civil war.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I cannot claim that we’ve been successful. And so, that’s something that — as is true with a lot of issues and problems around the world — I have to go to bed with every night. But I continue to believe that it was the right approach given what realistically we could get done, absent a decision, as I said, to go into in a much more significant way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And as for Hillary Clinton’s loss and the future of the Democratic Party, the president said she was treated unfairly, but he had a thinly veiled criticism of her campaign:

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I can maybe give counsel and advice to the Democratic Party. And the thing that we have to spend most time on — because it’s the thing we have the most control over — is how do we make sure that we are showing up in places where I think Democratic policies are needed, where they are helping, where they are making a difference, but where people feel as if they’re not being heard and where Democrats are characterized as coastal, liberal, latte-sipping, you know, politically correct out-of-touch folks? We have to be in those communities, OK?

    Thank you, everybody. Mele Kalikimaka.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Mr. Obama now heads to Hawaii to spend the holidays with the first family.

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    U.S. President Barack Obama participates in his last news conference of the year at the White House before leaving for his annual Hawaiian Christmas holiday in Washington, U.S., December 16, 2016.     REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst   TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX2VEAF

    U.S. President Barack Obama participates in his last news conference of the year at the White House before leaving for his annual Hawaiian Christmas holiday in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 16, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama put Russia’s Vladimir Putin on notice Friday that the U.S. could use offensive cyber muscle to retaliate for interference in the U.S. presidential election, his strongest suggestion to date that Putin had been well aware of campaign email hacking.

    “Whatever they do to us, we can potentially do to them,” Obama declared.

    Caught in the middle of a post-election controversy over Russian hacking, Obama strongly defended his administration’s response, including his refusal before the voting to ascribe motive to the meddling or to discuss now what effect it might have had. U.S. intelligence assessments say it was aimed at least in part on helping Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton, and some Democrats say it may well have tipped the results in his favor.

    Though Obama avoided criticizing President-elect Trump by name, he called out Republicans who he said fail even now to acknowledge the seriousness of Russia’s involvement in U.S. elections.

    Obama expressed bewilderment about GOP lawmakers and voters who now say they approve of Putin, and he said unless that changes the U.S. will be vulnerable to foreign influence.

    “Ronald Reagan would roll over in his grave,” Obama said as he closed out the year at a White House news conference. Afterward he left for the family’s annual vacation in Hawaii.

    Obama declined to state explicitly that Putin knew about the email hacking that roiled the presidential race, but he left no doubt who he felt was responsible. He said that “not much happens in Russia without Vladimir Putin” and repeated a U.S. intelligence assessment “that this happened at the highest levels of the Russian government.”

    Obama said he confronted Putin in September, telling the former KGB chief to “cut it out.” That was one month before the U.S. publicly pointed the finger at Russia. Suggesting his directive to Putin had been effective, Obama said the U.S. “did not see further tampering” after that date.

    The president has promised a “proportional” yet unspecified response to the hacking of the Democratic Party and Clinton’s campaign chairman. Emails stolen during the campaign were released in the final weeks by WikiLeaks. On Friday, CIA Director John Brennan said in a message to employees that the FBI agrees with the CIA’s conclusion that Russia’s goal was to help Trump win.

    Trump has dismissed the CIA’s assessment and talk about Russian hacking as “ridiculous,” while arguing both Democrats and the CIA are trying to undermine the legitimacy of his victory. He made no mention of the hacking — or of Obama — during the latest stop on his “thank you” tour in Orlando, Florida, Friday night.

    Clinton has even more directly cited Russian interference. She said Thursday night, “Vladimir Putin himself directed the covert cyberattacks against our electoral system, against our democracy, apparently because he has a personal beef against me.”

    The Senate intelligence committee said Friday that it will conduct a bipartisan investigation and hold hearings about what led the intelligence agencies’ finding. “The committee will follow the intelligence wherever it leads,” said chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

    At the same time, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House intelligence committee, complained that his committee’s oversight into the hacking has been stymied because the intelligence agencies have not provided information to the committee.

    Obama said he’d leave it to political pundits to debate the question of whether the hacking swayed the election outcome. He did, however, chide the media for that he called an “obsession” with the emails that were made public during the election’s final stretch.

    He said his reticence to detail publicly the U.S. response to Russia reflected a need to retaliate “in a thoughtful, methodical way.”

    “The idea that somehow public shaming is gonna be effective, I think doesn’t read the thought process in Russia very well,” Obama said.

    Accusations of Russian election interference have heightened the already tense relationship between Washington and Moscow. Separately, Obama has blamed Russia for standing in the way of international efforts to stop the civil war in Syria, where government forces have beaten back rebels in Aleppo.

    Obama said he feels “responsible” for some of the suffering in Syria, but he defended his decision to avoid significant military action there. He said that while military options short of invasion were tempting, it was “impossible to do this on the cheap.”

    Still, he pinned the bulk of the blame on Russia, as well as Iran, for propping up Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    “This blood and these atrocities are on their hands,” he said.

    Meanwhile, the president rejected any notion that the dispute over hacking was disrupting efforts to smoothly transfer power to Trump. Despite fiercely criticizing each other during the election, Obama and Trump have spoken multiple times since the campaign ended.

    “He has listened,” Obama said of Trump. “I can’t say he will end up implementing. But the conversations themselves have been cordial.”

    The president did weigh in on Trump’s decision to speak with the leader of Taiwan, a recent phone call that broke decades of U.S. diplomatic protocol. Obama advised Trump to “think it through” before making changes in the One-China policy, in which the U.S. recognizes Taiwan as part of China.

    In a moment of self-reflection, Obama acknowledged he had not been able to transfer his own popularity and electoral success to other Democrats. His party is now reeling from the White House loss and failure to win back either the House or Senate.

    “It is not something that I’ve been able to transfer to candidates in midterms or build a sustaining organization around,” Obama said. “That’s something I would have liked to have done more of, but it’s kind of hard to do when you’re dealing with a whole bunch of issues here in the White House.”

    Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Bradley Klapper contributed to this report.

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    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a USA Thank You Tour event in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson - RTX2VEOE

    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a USA Thank You Tour event in Orlando, Florida, on Dec. 16, 2016. Photo by /Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — As he prepared for the final stop on his postelection “thank you” tour, President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday announced his pick for White House budget director, a tough-on-spending conservative congressman who advocates balancing the federal books.

    South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney, elected in the 2010 tea party wave and a founder of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, is a “very high-energy leader with deep convictions for how to responsibly manage our nation’s finances and save our country from drowning in red ink,” Trump said in a statement.

    Trump said that with Mulvaney on his team, his administration will make “smart choices” and “renew the American taxpayer’s trust in how their money is spent.”

    The announcement came hours before Trump’s rally at a football stadium in Mobile, Alabama, and he tweeted: “THANK YOU ALABAMA AND THE SOUTH. Biggest of all crowds expected, see you there!”

    In Orlando, Florida, on Friday night, Trump told a crowd full of a military veterans that he would build up the forces but would use them sparingly as commander in chief.

    People watch as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a USA Thank You Tour event in Orlando, Florida, U.S., December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson - RTX2VEP4

    People watch as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a USA Thank You Tour event in Orlando, Florida, on Dec. 16, 2016. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    After that event, Trump was expected to return to Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach estate. Aides said the president-elect probably would spend Christmas week there, taking meetings and relaxing with his family, and could remain at the coastal resort until New Year’s.

    His budget pick, the 49-year-old Mulvaney, is one of the more hard-charging members among House conservatives. Lawmakers in the House Freedom Caucus helped push former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. from power and have caused heartburn for current Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

    As director of the Office of Management and Budget, a post that requires Senate confirmation, Mulvaney would be responsible for crafting Trump’s budget and overseeing the final issuance of major regulations.

    Mulvaney has taken a hard line on budget matters, routinely voting against increasing the government’s borrowing cap and pressing for major cuts to benefit programs as the path to balancing the budget.

    [Watch Video]

    Actually balancing the federal budget requires deeper spending cuts than the GOP-controlled Congress can probably deliver on, especially if Trump prevails on revenue-losing tax cuts and a big infrastructure package next year.

    Mulvaney, in a statement released by Trump’s transition team, pledged to help restore “ling “budgetary and fiscal sanity … after eight years of an out-of-control, tax and spend financial agenda” under President Barack Obama.

    “Each day, families across our nation make disciplined choices about how to spend their hard earned money, and the federal government should exercise the same discretion that hardworking Americans do every day,” he said.

    The post Trump wants SC Rep. Mick Mulvaney to be his budget director appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka smiles doing a sound check during Trump's walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, U.S., July 21, 2016.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking - RTSJ2VL

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka smiles doing a sound check during Trump’s walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 21, 2016. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    DES MOINES, Iowa — With Ivanka Trump, the typically minor role of a first daughter could get a major makeover.

    She was a key player in her father’s winning campaign, and people are closely watching the next moves by President-elect Donald Trump’s 35-year-old daughter.

    She’s attended her father’s transition meetings with high-profile figures, including the Japanese prime minister and technology leaders, and has indicated her interest in working on policy issues such as child care.

    The Trump Organization executive vice president also owns her own company that sells clothes and jewelry. While three of Donald Trump’s adult children are viewed as close advisers, he often highlights Ivanka and has made clear that he’d love to have her with him when he moves into the White House.

    It’s not clear whether that would be in a formal position. But Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway suggested this past week that there may be an exception to anti-nepotism laws for Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, who runs a real estate and construction business.

    Previous first daughters have played a social role in the White House.

    During Harry Truman’s presidency, when his wife, Bess, was home in Missouri, their daughter Margaret would play hostess. But it would be “unprecedented” for Ivanka Trump to serve as a close adviser, said Katherine Jellison, who heads the history department at Ohio University.

    “If there was ever a first daughter who played such a close advisory role to her dad, she really kept it under cover,” Jellison said.

    What we know so far about Ivanka Trump:

    The business

    With the Trump family, everything comes back to the vast family business empire.

    Ivanka Trump, one of Donald Trump’s three children with his first wife, Ivana, is an executive vice president of the business along with brothers Donald Jr., 38, and Eric, 32. Just how the president-elect will handle his business interests remains unclear. Trump has said he will turn management over to his sons and executives.

    Ivanka Trump has her own business to consider as well. She recently drew criticism after her company promoted a $10,800 bracelet she wore during a “60 Minutes” interview on CBS. The spokeswoman for the company later apologized.

    Since then, Ivanka Trump has sought to put some distance between herself and her fashion business. A letter posted on her website said that she would separate her social media accounts from her company’s.

    But questions continue to come up. Earlier this month, Eric Trump offered a “Private Coffee with Ivanka Trump in NYC” on a charity fundraising website. But after drawing high bids — and a New York Times story — the auction appeared to have been removed from the website Friday. The Trump organization did not respond to a request for more details.

    The White House

    Trump’s team says no official decision has been made about Ivanka Trump’s role, and she was not made available for an interview for this story.

    But the president-elect has made his wishes known.

    “I think we’ll have to see how the laws read. I would love to be able to have them involved,” Trump said on Fox News of Ivanka Trump and her husband.

    Congress passed an anti-nepotism law in 1967 that prohibits the president from appointing a family member to work in an office or agency the president oversees. But Conway said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the law has “an exception if you want to work in the West Wing, because the president is able to appoint his own staff.”

    Still, Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, said: “I don’t believe that this statue exempts the White House.” He said Conway’s interpretation would be reasonable policy because it would bring family members under conflict of interest rules, but added “I’m just not convinced that’s what the statute says.”

    Policy platform

    While much about Ivanka Trump’s future role is murky, her policy interests are quite clear.

    Throughout the campaign she highlighted her interest in issues like child care, pay equity and maternity leave. Her father mentioned those issues rarely.

    Ivanka Trump met with a group of Republican congresswomen on these issues in September. Since the election, she has reached out to members of Congress to continue the conversation, according to Sarah Chamberlain, the president and CEO of Republican Main Street Partnership, who said she has not heard from the future first daughter.

    Republican consultant Katie Packer, who opposed Donald Trump, said she was welcoming “the spotlight that Ivanka Trump is going to put on these issues.” But Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director MomsRising, an advocacy group for women and families, said she was concerned that the president-elect’s conservative Cabinet picks don’t share those interests.

    “Ivanka Trump is right that child care and paid family leave are national emergencies, but she was not elected to be president of the United States of America and her dad, who was, has taken the opposite approach,” Rowe-Finkbeiner said.

    White House hostess

    Throughout the campaign, Ivanka Trump played a more prominent role than Trump’s third wife, Melania, who has focused her attention on 10-year-old son Barron.

    Donald Trump said last month that Melania and Barron Trump would not move from New York to the White House until the end of the school year. She could still come in for major events, but there is historical precedent for a daughter or sister to step in and shoulder some of the social responsibilities.

    Since the election, Melania Trump has kept a low profile while Ivanka Trump has been a regular fixture at Trump Tower in New York. This past week she appeared in a photo with Kanye West.

    The post With Ivanka Trump, the role of first daughter may evolve appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at the USA Thank You Tour event at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo - RTX2UDJ9

    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at the USA Thank You Tour event at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo – RTX2UDJ9

    WASHINGTON — Propelled by populist energy, President-elect Donald Trump’s candidacy broke long-standing conventions and his incoming Cabinet embodies a sharp turn from the outgoing Obama administration.

    Trump, a Republican who pledged major changes after eight years of a Democratic White House, has assembled nominees for a Cabinet that includes many business executives who have never served in government, and military leaders are in line to oversee defense and homeland security. In one case, Trump has named someone who once called for dismantling the agency he’d lead.

    A change of political parties at the White House almost always brings policy adjustments. But Trump’s Cabinet expects to carry the outsider flair of his campaign, a role reversal compared with more conventional teams under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama that were heavy on former lawmakers, governors and veterans of past administrations.

    A look at the expected shift in the federal government:

    State Department

    Trump’s decision to nominate Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state means the department could be run by a lifelong oil executive with deep ties to Russia and no government experience. Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry, a former senator who was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spent much of his tenure seeking agreements to fight climate change, restrain Iran’s nuclear program and pressure foreign adversaries through financial penalties. But if Tillerson wins Senate confirmation, he would have a big say over whether the Trump administration withdraws from the Paris climate treaty and the Iran nuclear pact, along with the future of U.S. relations with Russia.

    READ NEXT: Tillerson for State: What we know and why some are concerned about his ties to Russia

    Defense Department

    James Mattis retired from the Marine Corps as a four-star general in 2013 and had been a battlefield commander most of that time. Compare that with current Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who worked for years at the Pentagon and in academia but never served in uniform. To take the defense secretary job, Mattis needs Congress to pass a law allowing him to serve. Current law requires a Pentagon chief to be out of the military for at least seven years to uphold the commitment to civilian control of the military. The law was last waived for George Marshall in 1950. Trump has praised Mattis’ effectiveness at “thank you” rallies around the country and has promised a massive buildup of the country’s defense capabilities.

    Treasury Department

    Obama’s Treasury Department was in crisis mode from the moment he took office, dealing with massive job losses and the meltdown of the housing market. Eight years later, Trump has nominated Steven Mnuchin to lead the department, turning to a former Goldman Sachs executive who invested in a bank that foreclosed on thousands of homeowners after the housing crisis. Democrats are expected to press Mnuchin on his role in IndyMac, which was rebranded OneWest, and the deal that left the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation responsible for taking as much as 80 percent of the losses on former IndyMac assets. Mnuchin has promised “the most significant middle-income tax cut” since President Ronald Reagan.

    Energy Department

    Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry once famously struggled to name three federal departments he would eliminate if elected president, muttering “oops” during a 2011 presidential debate. In one of ironies of the Trump transition, Perry is now preparing to run one of those agencies, the Energy Department, after more than 14 years as governor. Perry presided over his state’s vast oil and gas industries and leading wind energy sector. He is currently on the boards of two petroleum companies seeking approval for the Dakota Access Pipeline project. He would be a break from predecessors such as Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, and Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    READ NEXT: Column: The biggest paradox Rick Perry faces at the Department of Energy

    Justice Department

    Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, has supported tough immigration enforcement policies and said the Justice Department’s civil rights division should not be used as “a sword to assert inappropriate claims that have the effect of promoting political agendas.” Before he entered the Senate, his nomination to become a federal judge was scuttled in 1986 amid accusations that he made racially charged remarks as a U.S. attorney. He would succeed Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who has dealt with a spate of police-involved shootings and pushed a lawsuit against North Carolina over a bathroom bill that officials said discriminated against transgender individuals.

    Labor Department

    Outgoing Labor Secretary Tom Perez was an outspoken advocate for raising the federal minimum wage and helped push a federal rule to make more workers eligible for overtime pay. Trump’s choice to run the department is fast-food executive Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants Holdings, the parent company of Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s and other chains. Puzder has said that large increases in the minimum wage would lead to job losses, and he wrote in a May 2016 op-ed that the overtime rule would be “another barrier to the middle class rather than a springboard” for workers. Fast-food workers led the “Fight for $15” campaign during Obama’s second term.

    Other departments

    Trump’s choice for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, is an education activist and billionaire from Michigan who has championed vouchers and charter schools, which detractors say hurt public education. The pick at the Department of Health and Human Services is Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., an orthopedic surgeon who has been a leading critic of Obama’s health care overhaul. Set to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development is one of Trump’s presidential rivals, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, even though he lacks a background in housing issues. Trump pointed to Carson’s “brilliant mind” and passion for “strengthening communities and families.” At the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump settled on Oklahoma’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt. He has questioned the science of global warming and sued the EPA over plans to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants and regulations involving the Clean Water Act.

    The post Trump’s Cabinet selections signal a bold shift after Obama appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Students of New York University (NYU) stand silent in Elmer Holmes Bobst Library during a demonstration  joining with other colleges across the nation participating in #SanctuaryCampus, a protest against President-elect Donald Trump in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Bria Webb - RTX2U0NU

    Students of New York University (NYU) stand silent in Elmer Holmes Bobst Library during a demonstration joining with other colleges across the nation participating in #SanctuaryCampus, a protest against President-elect Donald Trump in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 16, 2016. Photo by Bria Webb/Reuters

    College students across the country are clamoring for their campuses to be declared “sanctuaries,” where administrators do all they can to protect students and employees from any effort by Republican President-elect Donald Trump to deport unauthorized immigrants or register Muslims.

    In response, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Republican legislators in Arkansas, Georgia and Texas are threatening to cut off funding to any colleges or universities that establish themselves as so-called sanctuary campuses.

    But the protests and proposed retaliation are disconnected from current immigration and student privacy laws, legal analysts say, and from what the Trump administration might do any time soon.

    There’s no consensus on what it means to be a sanctuary campus. And the word “sanctuary” inflates the relatively minor demands that activists are asking of college administrators.

    “The term sanctuary, to me, implies a place where nobody can get you. And I don’t think anybody can promise that,” said Dan Berger, a Massachusetts immigration lawyer who advises colleges.

    College campuses have never been raided by federal immigration officials and there’s no indication that they will be, said Michael A. Olivas, acting president of the University of Houston-Downtown in Texas and an expert in higher education and immigration law.

    Even if colleges were targeted by the Trump administration, much legal sand could be thrown into the gears before administrators would be enlisted in identifying students for deportation. “I urge everyone … to have some perspective on this,” Olivas said.

    READ NEXT: Risking political pushback, private colleges enroll undocumented students

    The Movement and Its Demands

    Trump’s election left many college students feeling scared, sad and angry, particularly students from minority groups who thought they were targeted by the president-elect’s campaign statements.

    An immigrants’ rights group called Cosecha started organizing conference calls with student activists at over 100 institutions, who coordinated a national walkout Nov. 16 and began circulating petitions. More colleges and universities have since started protesting without Cosecha’s help.

    “We want universities to do everything they can do, legally, in order to protect students,” said Vera Parra, an organizer for Cosecha. The group also wants colleges to protect their employees.

    Parra said the protests and petitions are intended to rally people against deportation efforts and prepare colleges for a potential rollback of Obama administration directives that make college campuses — and so-called DREAMers, people brought to the U.S. illegally as children — a low priority for immigration enforcement actions.

    Every campus petition is different, but many have been shaped by Cosecha’s suggested demands. The group has seven, only one of which would put colleges at risk of breaking the law.

    For instance, Cosecha suggests colleges refuse to share information with immigration officials “to the fullest extent possible by the law.” Federal privacy law already bars colleges from handing over most private student data without the student’s consent, a subpoena or a court order. In any case, institutions don’t usually track which students are undocumented.

    The group also suggests colleges forbid campus security from asking about students’ immigration status or taking them into custody for possible deportation. Local police officers, including sworn campus officers, aren’t required to spend time and money on immigration enforcement anyway.

    And it urges federal immigration officials be banned from college-owned property. That could be hard to enforce, said legal adviser Berger, because much of any college campus is public space that anyone can enter. It’s possible, however, to have a policy against allowing federal immigration officials into private areas, such as dormitories, without a warrant.

    The only suggestion from Cosecha that would step outside current law asks colleges to not use the federal e-verify system to screen employees. Some states require colleges or all employers to use the system to determine whether employees are unauthorized immigrants. Berger said e-verify is required for federal grants and can benefit international students, so most universities use it.

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

    Josue Reynoza, 19, helped write the sanctuary petition delivered to administrators at Texas State University in San Marcos. It combined Cosecha ideas with others, such as a request for a research committee on vulnerable campus populations and better policies to denounce hate speech.

    Reynoza said that when he heard about the sanctuary campus movement he was eager to get involved. “I have undocumented friends, and I’m also Hispanic,” he said. “It affects many people, and it also affects my friends.”

    A Clouded Controversy

    Although the sanctuary campus movement is based on small policy tweaks, the term “sanctuary” is politically and emotionally explosive. For advocates, it suggests a compassionate response to injustice. For critics, it indicates a willingness to defy the law to shelter unauthorized immigrants or potential terrorists.

    College administrators, wary from the beginning of using a vague word like sanctuary, find themselves in the position of insisting their campuses are not sanctuaries while adopting some of the steps activists call for.

    University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst said this month that, while the university can’t legally call itself a “sanctuary,” it’s taking steps associated with the sanctuary movement, such as forbidding campus police to make arrests even if asked to by federal immigration officials.

    Texas State President Denise Trauth has repeatedly said that she will not declare the institution to be a sanctuary campus, but Reynoza said he and his fellow activists have been told the university is implementing most of the steps their petition demanded.

    Reynoza said his group is trying to step away from using the word sanctuary, to get away from the negative connotation it has for some people.

    Nobody knows whether or how Trump will act on his campaign promises. In a recent interview with Time magazine, he backtracked on his pledge to roll back President Barack Obama’s temporary work permits for people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

    “We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump said.

    Olivas has written that it’s not possible — or necessary — to create a legal cocoon for students.

    Until the incoming administration makes clear what policy changes it will make, Berger advises colleges and universities to help concerned students get access to good legal advice and only authorize certain administrators — such as the school’s general counsel — to talk to federal law enforcement.

    After 9/11, many colleges had a policy of sending certain point people to work with federal officials who wanted to interview students from Muslim countries.

    “This is not obstructionism,” Berger said. “This is just the fact that administrative warrants, judicial warrants, federal student records, privacy — these are all very complicated issues.”­­­­

    This story was produced by Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

    The post Controversy over ‘sanctuary’ campuses is misleading, legal analysts say appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A driver waits for customers near his 1952 Oldsmobile 88 convertible outside Havana's National Hotel May 25, 2010.  REUTERS/Desmond Boylan (CUBA - Tags: SOCIETY CITYSCAPE TRAVEL TRANSPORT) - RTR2ECPW

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    AMY GUTTMAN: Since the U.S. Government eased restrictions on travel to Cuba early last year, the number of American tourists visiting the Caribbean island nation has soared. About 230-thousand went to Cuba in the first 11 months of this year, roughly two-and-half times the number in 2014, when the process of normalizing relations began.

    AMY GUTTMAN: Today, eight U.S. airlines are approved to run 20 round-trip flights daily from around the country to Cuba’s capital, Havana.

    AMY GUTTMAN: However, Cuba’s hospitality industry has a lot of catching up to do. With few exceptions, hotels are either abandoned or frozen in time…just like the American cars that roll through the streets of Havana, nearly 60 years since Fidel Castro’s communist revolution forced out privately-owned businesses.

    AMY GUTTMAN: Along Havana’s storied, seaside boulevard, known as the “Malecon,” state-owned properties like the Hotel Nacional De Cuba, famous for having hosted American Presidents and Hollywood stars, don’t have enough capacity.

    AMY GUTTMAN: There are currently 63-thousand hotel rooms in all of Cuba, and far fewer up-to-date, quality hotels than are needed to accommodate what is approaching four million international visitors a year.

    AMY GUTTMAN: Since 2014, the Cuban Government has relaxed rules on foreign ownership of hotels. It’s now allowing international chains to build, remodel and manage hotels, as long as they partner with state-owned Cuban tourism companies.

    AMY GUTTMAN: France’s Sofitel, Switzerland’s Kempinski, and the American-owned Starwood Group are among those refurbishing and constructing four and five-star hotels in Havana.

    Starwood, recently bought by Marriott, has already taken over management of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, now re-branded as Four Points, and it’s renovating a 19th century Havana landmark, The Inglaterra.

    AMY GUTTMAN: Though the Cuban government has announced plans to double the island’s hotel capacity by 2020, the current shortage of rooms is a boon for another American-run company, AirBnB. The online platform for homestay bookings has listings in more than a hundred countries. But it says Cuba has become its fastest growing market, as measured by listings.

    BRIAN CHESKY: “We estimate now that 20-percent of all Americans that are staying in Cuba are staying in a home with a Cuba host.”

    AMY GUTTMAN: AirBnB CEO Brian Chesky accompanied President Obama in March on his historic trip to Cuba, the first by a sitting US President in nearly 80 years. Chesky says Americans from all 50 states have used AirBnB in Cuba since it began operating here a year-and-half ago. He calls this “people to people diplomacy.”

    BRIAN CHESKY: “There are hundreds of thousands of friendships that are possible if you bring people together.”

    AMY GUTTMAN: This is the third time San Francisco entrepreneur Madelyn Markoe has stayed at the home of Cuban host Fanny Acosta.

    MADELYN MARKOE: It is very different. It really feels like you are in someone’s home. A lot of times AirBnB in other places, you know, it can feel very much like you are just renting an apartment. In cuba it’s a full experience from start to finish.

    AMY GUTTMAN: Acosta and her husband, Reddy, list three bedrooms in their four bedroom apartment on AirBnB. In addition to Spanish, she speaks French, Italian, Mandarin, and English.

    FANNY ACOSTA: This is my way to learn about the rest of the world. I don’t have to go out. The people and the world, they come to me. And we have very, very, very good friends from all over the world.

    AMY GUTTMAN: The concept of AirBnB is not exactly new here. Even when Fidel Castro was president, Cubans were permitted to list rooms in their homes on the Internet and rent them to foreign tourists.

    AMY GUTTMAN: Since 1997, Cubans have been allowed to supplement their income through casa particulares, or private houses. A symbol of an upside-down anchor near the doorway indicates homes that are licensed by the government to rent rooms.

    AMY GUTTMAN: 20,000 homes are registered – 10,000 of them are now listed on AirBnB. Like all hosts, Acosta pays taxes on the income earned.

    AMY GUTTMAN: Has business changed since the arrival of AirBnB?

    FANNY ACOSTA: Yes, 100 percent. Now we try to keep our rooms available just for the AirBnB requests. This is our way to know they will arrive for sure. If they decide to change, I know in advance, so I can update the calendar again.

    AMY GUTTMAN: How busy are you?

    FANNY ACOSTA: We are full almost the whole year, because they read about us. Before AirBnB, it’s not possible.

    AMY GUTTMAN: So you get financial security?

    FANNY ACOSTA: Yes. I’m also learning how to be a businesswoman.

    AMY GUTTMAN: A business that pays well for Cuba. Acosta and her husband pocket about $250 per booking after paying AirBnB’s fees. That’s more than the $200 average monthly salary in Cuba. The income helped her pay back the loan from a friend she used to buy the apartment three years ago. To maximize their earnings, she and her husband share their fourth bedroom with their two small children.

    AMY GUTTMAN: So, this is quite a sacrifice?

    FANNY ACOSTA: I do it with pleasure. I think everything in life is sacrifice.

    AMY GUTTMAN: With income from guests and high demand, buildings like these that have been left derelict for years are now being repaired for the rental income.

    AMY GUTTMAN: Acosta and other Cubans are investing in renovations and remodelling to accommodate guests.

    AMY GUTTMAN: What will you do with this money, now that it’s yours?

    FANNY ACOSTA: We are going to fix the elevator.

    AMY GUTTMAN: It may be surprising that AirBnB can thrive in Cuba, where the communist regime has banned Internet access from home, except for government officials or employees of foreign companies. Cuba is now installing its first residential broadband service, wiring two thousand homes. And just this week, the government signed a deal with U.S. tech giant Google to place its servers on the island. Universities and offices are equipped with Internet access for their employees, but other Cubans must pay to get online at hotels and in wifi zones in public parks. Without online service at home, AirBnB hosts have come up with work-arounds. Fanny Acosta walks a few blocks to the nearest hotel several times a day and pays to get online.

    AMY GUTTMAN: University of Havana Economics professor Patricia Ramos rents out rooms in her home and tutors friends and family helping them create a profile of their properties and manage bookings.

    PATRICIA RAMOS: The people have not the culture to interact with the web. To access the internet is not easy in cuba. It is possible to go to these wifi zones, but the speed is not so high. And of course, it’s also a little bit expensive. That’s why it’s not so easy to manage your profile on AirBnB.

    AMY GUTTMAN: Soon, Ramos, Acosta, and others may be learning how to use another American travel site: TripAdvisor. The company is now taking bookings for homestays, hotels, and flights to Cuba after winning approval from the U.S. Government last month.

    Even as multinational chains are building hotels, Acosta believes there will always be a market for the personal service and cultural exchange that homestays provide.

    FANNY ACOSTA: There are some people that feel really good in a casa, and this is what I enjoy. The people who want to stay in a casa and be part of our family.

    The post In Cuba, American tourists increase demand for hotels appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    MIKE PINAY, Qu'Appelle Indian Residential School, 1953-1963. "It was the worst ten years of my life. I was away from my family from the age of 6 to 16. How do you learn about family? I didn't know what love was. We weren't even known by names back then. I was a number."  "Do you remember your number?"  "73." Photo and interview by Daniella Zalcman

    MIKE PINAY, Qu’Appelle Indian Residential School, 1953-1963. “It was the worst ten years of my life. I was away from my family from the age of 6 to 16. How do you learn about family? I didn’t know what love was. We weren’t even known by names back then. I was a number.” “Do you remember your number?” “73.” Photo and interview by Daniella Zalcman

    In the late 19th century, Canada began its residential schools program — a violent system that aimed to decimate the cultures of indigenous people.

    The system mimicked what the U.S. had done just several decades earlier, when it built schools outside of Native American reservations to forcibly assimilate indigenous people.

    Children were kidnapped and brought to live at schools across Canada, which were often operated by churches. They were punished for speaking their native language, separated from siblings and forced to do unpaid labor for the facilities. Some students were physically and sexually abused and their health ailments were often neglected. A government medical inspector noted in 1907 that “24 percent of previously healthy Aboriginal children across Canada were dying in residential schools,” and this number did not account for children who died after returning home, according to the University of British Columbia.

    The last residential school in Canada did not close until 1996.

    Nine years later, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology to survivors of the schools, saying that “we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.” In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which the Canadian government established to investigate this history, called the residential schools an attempt at “cultural genocide” within Canada.

    “These measures were part of a coherent policy to eliminate Aboriginal people as distinct peoples and to assimilate them into the Canadian mainstream against their will,” the report stated.

    Photographer Daniella Zalcman has photographed this legacy in a series of portraits and interviews with survivors for a project supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. For many of them, this marked the first time they had spoken about their experience in the schools. She spoke with the PBS NewsHour Weekend about the project, which was recently released as a book.

    VALERIE EWENIN, Muskowekwan Indian Residential School, 1965-1971. "I was brought up believing in the nature ways, burning sweetgrass, speaking Cree. And then I went to residential school and all that was taken away from me. And then later on, I forgot it, too, and that was even worse." Photo and interview by Daniella Zalcman

    VALERIE EWENIN, Muskowekwan Indian Residential School, 1965-1971. “I was brought up believing in the nature ways, burning sweetgrass, speaking Cree. And then I went to residential school and all that was taken away from me. And then later on, I forgot it, too, and that was even worse.” Photo and interview by Daniella Zalcman

    Have you done any research on indigenous Canadians before?

    What brought me to Canada to begin with was I had been at the international AIDS conference in [Melbourne] in 2014 for a completely different project that I worked on for several years on the rise of homophobia and anti-gay legislation in Uganda. And while I was there, I read a U.N. report about how one of the demographics with the fastest growing rates of HIV in the world was First Nations Canadians.

    And that made absolutely no sense to me from a public health perspective. Canada has an incredible health care system; they pioneered harm reduction strategies like free needle exchanges and safe injection sites and all these things that are meant to reduce health crises, and yet there is this massive epidemic and this group of people being completely left behind. So I spent a month in 2014 driving through British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario. And almost every single HIV-positive First Nations person, almost all of them, referenced residential schools. And I’d never heard of residential school; it’s not something that’s really part of mainstream U.S. history curriculum. It’s only barely becoming part of mainstream Canadian curriculum as we speak. So to me, it became obvious that the public health crises and all these other systemic issues that First Nations Canadians deal with are part of this much bigger legacy of coercive assimilation.

    The only road from Beauval Indian Residential School (at least 50+ years ago, at the darkest point in the school's history), led straight to the Beaver River. Students regularly tried to run away, but either were too small to try to cross or drowned in the attempt. Photo by Daniella Zalcman

    The only road from Beauval Indian Residential School (at least 50+ years ago, at the darkest point in the school’s history), led straight to the Beaver River. Students regularly tried to run away, but either were too small to try to cross or drowned in the attempt. Photo by Daniella Zalcman

    How did the project begin from there?

    I spent that month largely focused on documenting the HIV aspect of the story. I came home with a lot of images of people dealing with drug addiction and injection drug use, the primary means through which HIV is spread in First Nations communities in Canada. And I got home and realized that I’d kind of failed. I was starting to realize this was part of a bigger story, but I’d photographed it in this very two-dimensional way. And even though I was accurately representing what is reality for many indigenous communities in Canada, they were still images that were really going to do much more to stigmatize the population than they were to shine a light, than they were going to shine a light on this much bigger, largely undiscussed issue, touching on settler colonialism and intergenerational trauma. So I decided that I actually needed to go back. All of my work on this project has been funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in D.C.

    So a year later I went back and I focused on Saskatchewan, which is the province that is home to the last residential school to close in Canada in 1996, and to some of the most infamous schools in the country. I spent two weeks focused just on interviewing residential school survivors and making those multiple exposure portraits, which to me was the most truthful way to tell this story.

    ELWOOD FRIDAY, St. Phillips Indian Residential School, 1951-1953. "I've never told anyone what went on there. It's shameful. I am ashamed. I'll never tell anyone, and I've done everything to try to forget." Photo and interview by Daniella Zalcman

    ELWOOD FRIDAY, St. Phillips Indian Residential School, 1951-1953. “I’ve never told anyone what went on there. It’s shameful. I am ashamed. I’ll never tell anyone, and I’ve done everything to try to forget.” Photo and interview by Daniella Zalcman

    I can’t photograph in the schools anymore because the last one closed in the ‘90s. I tried to photograph the visual legacy, and that, to me, had been very reductive and unsuccessful. So it became about figuring out how do you photograph memory? How do you photograph the things that we pass from parent to child? Each multiple-exposure portrait is a photo of a survivor combined with an image that is directly related to their memory of residential school.

    How did you meet the subjects of these photos?

    When I returned to Saskatchewan, I’d been there the year before. Most of the work I did was in Regina. And there’s a neighborhood in Regina, North Central, that’s kind of [known] in Canada to be the worst for crime, injection drug use, for alcoholism. And so I spent quite a bit of time there staying with and photographing one particular family. And the daughter was actually my main point of entry. She was HIV-positive, had Hepatitis C, was an injection drug user and sex worker. She herself hadn’t gone to residential school, but both her parents, all four of her grandparents, and all of her aunts and uncles had gone.

    You think about history and trauma and how they affect populations, but we forget that we pass those things on as well. The first person I interviewed was her aunt. I knew her, and she remembered me, and then from there, every single person I talked to would then say, “Oh, well you should talk to my neighbor, my cousin, my friend.” One survivor would introduce me to the next.

    RICK PELLETIER, Qu'Appelle Indian Residential School, 1965-1966. "My parents came to visit and I told them I was being beaten. My teachers said that I had an active imagination, so they didn't believe me at first. But after summer break they tried to take me back, and I cried and cried and cried. I ran away the first night, and when my grandparents went to take me back, I told them I'd keep running away, that I'd walk back to Regina if I had to. They believed me then." Photo and interview by Daniella Zalcman

    RICK PELLETIER, Qu’Appelle Indian Residential School, 1965-1966. “My parents came to visit and I told them I was being beaten. My teachers said that I had an active imagination, so they didn’t believe me at first. But after summer break they tried to take me back, and I cried and cried and cried. I ran away the first night, and when my grandparents went to take me back, I told them I’d keep running away, that I’d walk back to Regina if I had to. They believed me then.” Photo and interview by Daniella Zalcman

    Was it difficult for survivors to describe their memories?

    I expected to be rebuffed by half of the people I approached. And I was surprised that almost everyone I spoke to was very willing to talk to me, to be interviewed on the record. I think part of that is because Canada had recently gone through this Truth and Reconciliation Commission. When I was there in 2015 [it] was at the very end of it.

    I think people had to give testimony in order to be part of the TRC, so this was something, even though that had been the first time for many people in their lives that they had discussed what had happened to them in residential school, it was something that was starting to come out into the open. So I think that helped facilitate a lot of my conversations. But even then. I still had a lot of people disclose to me for the first time ever a lot of assault and trauma and abuse.

    It continues to be shocking to me that this institution that lasted for 120 years in Canada remains so under-discussed. And I think for a lot of people, the idea that someone actually was interested and wanted to listen was enough that it made them really want to share.

    How did you structure your sessions with the survivors?

    We would speak first, and I told people, we can speak for as little or as much as you would like. On average, I would say the interviews were about an hour to two hours. And then after that I would photograph every single person against a white backdrop, and then on my own would go in search of a second image. Sometimes they were the actual sites of where the school was, the actual building where they had lived, and then sometimes they were a little more figurative, depending on memory, and most of these buildings have been torn down now in Canada, so there isn’t always physical evidence of each school. But it was something that was still evocative of our conversation.

    DEEDEE LERAT, Marieval Indian Residential School, 1967-1970. "When I was 8, Mormons swept across Saskatchewan. So I was taken out of residential school and sent to a Mormon foster home for five years. I've been told I'm going to hell so many times and in so many ways. Now I'm just scared of God." Photo and interview by Daniella Zalcman

    DEEDEE LERAT, Marieval Indian Residential School, 1967-1970. “When I was 8, Mormons swept across Saskatchewan. So I was taken out of residential school and sent to a Mormon foster home for five years. I’ve been told I’m going to hell so many times and in so many ways. Now I’m just scared of God.” Photo and interview by Daniella Zalcman

    How did you produce these images?

    I shot the entire project both on medium format film and on my iPhone. I actually use my phone a lot in my work, and because while I was interviewing I was on the road for two weeks, I really didn’t want to wait to get home to develop my film and start thinking about how to make multiple exposures. So all the work you’ve seen is actually shot and edited on an iPhone. There’s just a very simple app I use call Image Blender that just allows you to create multiple exposures.

    Why did you decide to stylize the photos in this way, with overlaid images? How did that contribute to what you were exploring in this project?

    We’re already institutionally not very aware of or willing to speak to the legacy of colonialism in North America. We don’t frame it in that way. Generally speaking, we have excluded much of that narrative from our history books, from mainstream media. Trying to get people to think about how the repercussions of those events remain with Native communities today, are still deeply impacting their lives, I think is usually important. And so that’s what I’m attempting to do with these images.

    You can see more photos from the series below.

    ROSALIE SEWAP, Guy Hill Indian Residential School, 1959-1969. "We had to pray every day and ask for forgiveness. But forgiveness for what? When I was 7 I started being abused by a priest and a nun. They'd come around after dark with a flashlight and would take away one of the little girls almost every night. You never really heal from that. I turned into an alcoholic and it's taken me a long time to escape that. I can't forgive them. Never." Photo and interview by Daniella Zalcman

    ROSALIE SEWAP, Guy Hill Indian Residential School, 1959-1969. “We had to pray every day and ask for forgiveness. But forgiveness for what? When I was 7 I started being abused by a priest and a nun. They’d come around after dark with a flashlight and would take away one of the little girls almost every night. You never really heal from that. I turned into an alcoholic and it’s taken me a long time to escape that. I can’t forgive them. Never.” Photo and interview by Daniella Zalcman

    This picturesque little village is Lebret, Saskatchewan -- home to the Qu'Appelle Indian Residential School, which operated under the federal government and Catholic Church from 1884-1969, and under the governance of the Star Blanket Cree Nation from 1973-1998. While most of the original school structures have been demolished, one building remains, visible on the far right side of the photo. Photo by Daniella Zalcman

    This picturesque little village is Lebret, Saskatchewan — home to the Qu’Appelle Indian Residential School, which operated under the federal government and Catholic Church from 1884-1969, and under the governance of the Star Blanket Cree Nation from 1973-1998. While most of the original school structures have been demolished, one building remains, visible on the far right side of the photo. Photo by Daniella Zalcman

    The ruins of the Muskowekwan Indian Residential School. Photo by Daniella Zalcman

    The ruins of the Muskowekwan Indian Residential School. Photo by Daniella Zalcman

    A swingset in Beauval, Saskatchewan, near the former site of the Beauval Indian Residential School. Photo by Daniella Zalcman

    A swingset in Beauval, Saskatchewan, near the former site of the Beauval Indian Residential School. Photo by Daniella Zalcman

    The post Portraits show the complex, devastating legacy of Canada’s residential schools appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump gestures from the front door at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 20, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Segar

    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump gestures from the front door at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 20, 2016. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice as his budget director, is a fierce deficit hawk with a record of pushing deep spending cuts across the federal government to balance the budget.

    The 49-year-old from South Carolina, just re-elected to a fourth term, is a co-founder of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus that pushed former Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, from power. As director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Mulvaney would be responsible for Trump’s budget submissions to Congress. Those budgets are likely to address Trump’s campaign promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, cut taxes broadly and boost spending on public works and other projects.

    If confirmed by the Senate, Mulvaney would lead an office that coordinates federal regulations, putting him in charge of repeals of Obama administration rules. Trump has been critical of several of President Barack Obama’s executive orders, from those involving climate change and reining in Wall Street to protecting the children of immigrants who are in the United States illegally.

    Strongly anti-establishment, Mulvaney has supported cuts beyond what House Republican leaders preferred and has refused to back deals to raise the government’s borrowing limit, more recently causing heartburn for current Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

    The nomination probably will soothe fiscal conservatives but could put Mulvaney at odds with Trump, who has pledged additional spending for transportation, military and veterans’ health care without offering little details on how to pay for it. Trump has previously suggested that the government should take on new debt for many of the spending projects because interest rates are so low.

    [Watch Video]

    In a statement, Trump commended Mulvaney’s strong voice in Congress who will get America’s fiscal house in order.

    “Right now we are nearly $20 trillion in debt, but Mick is a very high-energy leader with deep convictions for how to responsibly manage our nation’s finances and save our country from drowning in red ink,” Trump said.

    Mulvaney said he looked forward to working with Congress to create policies that will be “friendly to American workers and businesses.”

    “The Trump administration will restore budgetary and fiscal sanity back in Washington after eight years of an out-of-control, tax and spend financial agenda,” he said.

    House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California called Mulvaney a “radical” who consistently voted to cut Medicare benefits. She noted that he was supporter of a government shutdown in 2013 and 2015 over spending that Republicans opposed for the health care law and Planned Parenthood.

    “We cannot have an OMB director who sees inflicting pain on working families as leverage for his radical agenda,” Pelosi said.

    Mulvaney was elected in the 2010 tea party wave. He defeated Democratic Rep. John Spratt, who had been chairman of the House Budget Committee, by branding him as a big-spending liberal.

    Mulvaney quickly came to oppose Boehner’s leadership before Boehner was pushed out in 2015. In 2013, Mulvaney declined to support Boehner’s re-election to the post. That year, Mulvaney unsuccessfully pushed for amendments to reduce Pentagon funding and proposed broad across-the-board federal cuts, including for the military.

    He was an early backer of Trump during the presidential campaign, noting that the Republican billionaire had tapped into a populist sentiment dissatisfied with Washington.

    “If you want to know, members of Congress, why you have Donald Trump, go look in the mirror, because we’ve over-promised and under-delivered for so long,” Mulvaney said in February.

    Actually balancing the federal budget requires deeper spending cuts than the GOP-controlled Congress can probably deliver on, especially if Trump prevails on revenue-losing tax cuts and a big infrastructure package next year.

    On Saturday, Ryan praised Mulvaney as the “absolute right choice” for budget director.

    A law graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mulvaney started a small homebuilding company and owned and operated his own restaurant before entering politics.

    Other congressmen to take on the budget post include David Stockman, R-Mich., President Ronald Reagan’s first OMB director, and Leon Panetta, who ran the budget office during President Bill Clinton’s first term. Rob Portman, now a senator from Ohio, was one of President George W. Bush’s budget directors.

    Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor and Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.

    The post Trump’s pick for budget director has urged big spending cuts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man eats on a wheelchair as he waits to be evacuated with others from a rebel-held sector of eastern Aleppo, Syria December 17, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail - RTX2VGG6

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    Read the full transcript below.

    ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:
    In Syria, the evacuation of civilians from the besieged city of Aleppo was meant to resume today. There are as many as 4,000 people from two villages, in the last section of rebel-held territory, who were seeking to leave. Once Syria’s most populous city, it is now largely in ruins and was recaptured this week by President Bashar al-Assad’s troops. As night fell in Aleppo, there was no sign of the buses needed to carry out the evacuations.

    For more on the situation, I am joined via Skype from Beirut in neighboring Lebanon by “New York Times” reporter Anne Barnard.

    Anne, why was there such confusion and such a breakdown in the evacuation of people from eastern Aleppo?

    ANNE BARNARD, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: Well, it’s not the first time a deal like this has been rocky to implement, and that’s because as this extremely violent and chaotic war goes on, even on each side, there’s a lot of fragmentation. So, you know, there isn’t one single leadership for rebel groups, and increasingly, there isn’t one single leadership for the pro-government forces.

    You know, Russia and Turkey agreed to a deal. Turkey is one of the main backers of the rebels, and Russia is the most powerful backer of the Syrian government, having bailed it out with air strikes and political support. And, you know, at the same time, there are other crucial allies, like Iran, which has provided thousands of militia members to bolster the ground forces of the Syrian army.

    There were other complications with the al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front. They were not fully cooperating with the implementation of that part of the deal, either, not letting the busses in to let people out of those villages in Idlib.

    STEWART: And is there aid to civilians and the people who are still in Aleppo? Are the people helping them there, the people who have not been able to leave?

    BARNARD: Well, the thing is, during the four years of the war, when Aleppo was a divided city, some form of alternate structure sprang up in eastern rebel-held Aleppo. There were international aid organizations. There were the local branch of the Syrian Red Crescent that continue to operate. There were NGOs sponsored by Syrians abroad and by Turkey and others.

    In the last two weeks, when the rebel defenses really collapsed and there was pretty much mass chaos on that side of the line, a lot of people left to western Aleppo, to the government-held districts. Other people who didn’t want to go there fled deeper into the rebel-held districts, and that included many of these medical workers and aid workers. All those facilities basically were bombed or destroyed or fell into chaos. And some of the workers went to the other side. Some went to rebel areas.

    The whole system has more or less collapsed. So, people are really in the worst state they’ve been in. There are thousands of civilians still left in there. They’re way waiting in cold and rain every day hoping for the buses to come to evacuate them.

    STEWART: If we all remember back to how this all began in 2011, it really was a protest for civil rights and for government reform. Is there any of that political will left, or is that just gone by the wayside and people are just trying to survive?

    BARNARD: Well, look, there are different issues. I think a lot of people went over to the government territories because they just couldn’t live with more years of bombardment. They couldn’t, you know, stay in an area that was full of increasing difficulties with daily life. Some of them definitely expressed to us that they got tired. The rebels did not deliver what they were supposed to.

    And some people even said that rebels prevented them from leaving. Not everybody, as I said, rebels are not united. So in some areas, they said rebels helped them leave. And others said that rebels prevented them from leaving.

    The point is, I think there are still people — there still exist many Syrians who believe in the kinds of civil government reforms that were initially asked for. There’s also many Syrians that wanted some kind of Islamist flavored government. You know, that’s something Syrians have to work out among themselves.

    The issue is that I don’t think there is any political will on the other side, on the government side, to make any compromises or even discuss compromises at this point. They feel like they’re winning and they don’t see the need to change anything. In fact, they dispute the very idea that this whole thing started with legitimate political demands, and they paint the entire uprising as a foreign-led conspiracy that was extremist and Islamist from the beginning.

    STEWART:
    Anne Barnard from “The New York Times” — thanks so much.

    BARNARD: Thank you.

    The post As Aleppo lies in ruins, thousands wait to escape appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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