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

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    Relatives of Fatih Cakmak, a security guard and a victim of an attack by a gunman at Reina nightclub, react during his funeral in Istanbul, Turkey, January 2, 2017.     REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RTX2X7K5

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: They’re still searching tonight for the man behind the latest terror attack in Turkey.  He left 39 dead and nearly 70 wounded, and a claim of responsibility came today, even as police said they’re getting closer to identifying the suspect.

    It’s the clearest look yet at the alleged gunman who attacked the Reina club early New Year’s morning.  Turkish officials say he rained bullets and explosives on holiday revelers.  The deputy prime minister said the investigation is progressing.

    NUMAN KURTULMUS, Deputy Prime Minister, Turkey (through translator):  Information about the fingerprints and basic appearance of the terrorist have been found.  We hope that we will find not only the terrorist, but also his connections and those who gave him support inside and outside the club.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Hours earlier, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility, and called the gunman a heroic soldier of the caliphate.  The statement said: “The blood of Muslims that is being shed by Turkey’s airstrikes and artillery shelling will turn into fire on its territories.”

    Turkey has been a key member of the air campaign against ISIS and has sent troops into Syria in part to fight the group.  Still, Turkey’s military vowed to continue strikes on Islamic State fighters.  And it released new footage of air raids on ISIS positions in Syria.

    Meanwhile, in Istanbul, survivors of the nightclub attack painted a more detailed picture of the mayhem that occurred early Sunday.

    YOUNIS TUERQ, Survivor (through translator):  As soon as he entered the club, he started firing and he didn’t stop.  He fired nonstop for 20 minutes at least.  We thought that there were several of them because it just didn’t stop.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The site is a popular attraction for tourists, and the majority of the victims were foreign-born.  One American citizen was wounded in the attack, but returned home today.

    It was the latest in a string of bloody incidents and security lapses to take place on Turkish soil.  Just two weeks ago, a gunman assassinated the Russian ambassador.  And, in June, three suicide bombers struck Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, killing 45 people.  That attack was also blamed on ISIS.

    The post Turkey nightclub attacker still at large; ISIS claims responsibility appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Monday voted to eviscerate the Office of Congressional Ethics, the independent body created in 2008 to investigate allegations of misconduct by lawmakers after several bribery and corruption scandals sent members to prison.

    The ethics change, which prompted an outcry from Democrats and government watchdog groups, is part of a rules package that the full House will vote on Tuesday. The package also includes a means for Republican leaders to punish lawmakers if there is a repeat of the Democratic sit-in last summer over gun control.

    Under the ethics change pushed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the non-partisan Office of Congressional Ethics would fall under the control of the House Ethics Committee, which is run by lawmakers. It would be known as the Office of Congressional Complaint Review, and the rule change would require that “any matter that may involve a violation of criminal law must be referred to the Committee on Ethics for potential referral to law enforcement agencies after an affirmative vote by the members,” according to Goodlatte’s office.

    Lawmakers would have the final say under the change. House Republicans voted 119-74 for the Goodlatte measure.

    “The amendment builds upon and strengthens the existing Office of Congressional Ethics by maintaining its primary area of focus of accepting and reviewing complaints from the public and referring them, if appropriate, to the Committee on Ethics,” the congressman said in a statement.

    Democrats, led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, reacted angrily.

    “Republicans claim they want to ‘drain the swamp,’ but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House GOP has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions,” the California lawmaker said in a statement. “Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress.”

    Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters, said Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., should be ashamed of himself and his leadership team.

    “We all know the so-called House Ethics Committee is worthless for anything other than a whitewash — sweeping corruption under the rug. That’s why the independent Office of Congressional Ethics has been so important. The OCE works to stop corruption and that’s why Speaker Ryan is cutting its authority. Speaker Ryan is giving a green light to congressional corruption.”

    The OCE was created in March 2008 after the cases of former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., who served more than seven years in prison on bribery and other charges; as well as cases of former Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, who was charged in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and pleaded guilty to corruption charges and former Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., convicted on corruption in a separate case.

    The post House Republicans vote to eviscerate the Office of Congressional Ethics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    President-elect Donald Trump talks to members of the media at Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on Dec. 21, 2016. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Robert Lighthizer to serve as the nation’s top trade representative. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    NEW YORK — President-elect Donald Trump announced Tuesday he will nominate lawyer Robert Lighthizer as U.S. trade representative, picking an experienced trade official who has questioned the conservative movement’s commitment to free trade.

    Lighthizer, who served as deputy USTR under President Ronald Reagan, would play a key role in Trump’s trade agenda. The president-elect has vigorously opposed the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, but has said he would ink one-on-one trade deals with individual countries. Trump has also signaled a tough stance on trade with China, including levying a hefty tariff on Chinese imports.

    “Ambassador Lighthizer is going to do an outstanding job representing the United States as we fight for good trade deals that put the American worker first,” Trump said Tuesday in a statement announcing his pick. “He has extensive experience striking agreements that protect some of the most important sectors of our economy, and has repeatedly fought in the private sector to prevent bad deals from hurting Americans. He will do an amazing job helping turn around the failed trade policies which have robbed so many Americans of prosperity.”

    Lighthizer, who played a senior role during Bob Dole’s 1996 campaign, has more recently worked on trade issues as a lawyer, representing manufacturing, agricultural and high-tech companies, according to his law firm biography. Lighthizer’s bio also states that he focused on “market-opening trade actions on behalf of U.S. companies seeking access to foreign markets.”

    Yet in 2008, he openly questioned GOP presidential nominee John McCain’s commitment to free trade in a New York Times opinion article.

    “Mr. McCain may be a conservative. But his unbridled free-trade policies don’t help make that case,” Lighthizer wrote at the time, suggesting that free trade had long been popular among liberals.

    “Moreover, many American conservatives have opposed free trade. Jesse Helms, the most outspoken conservative in the Senate for three decades, was no free trader. Neither was Alexander Hamilton, who could be considered the founder of American conservatism,” he wrote.

    Meanwhile, Trump returned to his New York headquarters Monday after spending the holidays at his private club in South Florida. With less than three weeks until his Jan. 20 inauguration, Trump is expected to fill out a handful of remaining Cabinet-level posts in the coming days.

    In addition to the USTR, Trump is also weighing picks to lead the departments of Agriculture and Veterans Affairs, as well as a director of national intelligence. In addition, Trump is still filling out some top White House positions.

    Trump has already signaled that he plans to spread work on his trade policies beyond USTR. His transition team has said billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, Trump’s nominee to head the Commerce Department, will play a lead role on trade. The president-elect has also named economist Peter Navarro to a newly created White House National Trade Council.

    Trump indicated Tuesday that Lighthizer would work “in close coordination” with Ross and Navarro.

    Lighthizer declared his allegiance to Trump’s approach on trade.

    “I am fully committed to President-elect Trump’s mission to level the playing field for American workers and forge better trade policies which will benefit all Americans,” he said.

    The post Trump nominates Robert Lighthizer as U.S. trade representative appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — House Republicans reversed themselves Tuesday under pressure from President-elect Donald Trump, and dropped plans to swiftly gut an independent congressional ethics board.

    The dizzying about-face came as lawmakers convened for the first day of the 115th Congress, an occasion normally reserved for pomp and ceremony under the Capitol Dome. Instead, House Republicans found themselves under attack not only from Democrats, but from their new president, over their secretive move Monday to immediately neuter the independent Office of Congressional Ethics and place it under lawmakers’ control.

    GOP leaders scrambled to contain the damage, and within hours of Trump registering his criticism over the timing on Twitter, they called an emergency meeting of House Republicans where lawmakers voted to undo the change.

    The episode, coming even before the new Congress had convened and lawmakers were sworn in, was a powerful illustration of the sway Trump may hold over his party in a Washington that will be fully under Republican control for the first time in a decade.

    “With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority,” Trump had asked over Twitter Tuesday morning.

    READ MORE: House Republicans drop bid to gut ethics board

    The post House Republicans drop bid to gut ethics board appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    States are disproportionately subsidizing schools whose students are wealthier and white, contributing to a widening wealth and educational achievement gap. Photo by Michaela Rehle/Reuters

    When a state budget impasse drained money from public universities and colleges in Illinois beginning in 2015, some were forced to lay off hundreds of employees, shorten their semesters, even warn they might shut down. Enrollment plummeted. Credit ratings fell to junk status.

    Chicago State University, for instance, which has a student body that is mainly black and Hispanic and drawn from its neighborhood on the city’s South Side, cut 300 workers from its payroll and — its very future in limbo — managed to attract fewer than 100 new freshmen in the fall.

    “This is classism and racism at the worst and most profound level.” Stephen Brier, coauthor, Austerity Blues: Fighting for the Soul of Public Higher Education
    The flagship University of Illinois, far more of whose students are white and wealthier, was not immune from the predicament. But with cash reserves to tap, and an increase in enrollment that brought in more tuition revenue, it has suffered a far less drastic impact from the still-ongoing budget crisis.

    States have cut spending on higher education since the last recession by a collective $8.7 billion a year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, or CBPP. That will come as no surprise to students and families who have seen their tuition at four-year colleges and universities rise as a result by an average of 33 percent during that time.

    But the cuts have been uneven. A closer look shows they’re taking a greater toll on colleges and universities such as Chicago State that serve low-income and nonwhite students while flagships that enroll larger proportions of whites from higher-income families have been less affected.

    Among the reasons is that flagship schools have other sources of income to fall back on, including endowments, research funding, deep-pocketed donors, and out-of-state and international students who can afford to pay a premium tuition price. Community colleges and other, regional public universities don’t have those advantages.

    Related: The rich-poor divide on America’s college campuses is getting wider, fast

    “There’s an old saying that budget cuts give flagships a cold and regional campuses pneumonia,” said Tom Harnisch, director of state relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

    Critics say the cuts are also due to politics and to new rules tying state spending to institutions’ performance on such things as graduation rates, putting colleges that take students who are less well prepared at a disadvantage.

    Whatever the cause, those critics say, the trend is further widening the racial and socioeconomic divide among different types of universities and colleges, shifting money away from those whose students generally need the most support in favor of the ones whose students generally need the least.

    Eighty-three percent of Chicago State’s students are black and Hispanic and about the same proportion have incomes low enough to qualify for federal financial aid, U.S. Department of Education figures show. That compares to 14 percent of the students at the University of Illinois’s principal Champaign-Urbana campus who are black and Hispanic and 21 percent who are low income.

    “We’re creating a caste system in public higher education,” Harnisch said. “The per-student funding is higher for students at public flagships who are often the most prepared and most likely to graduate, but at the community colleges and the regional universities, it’s significantly less.”

    Related: Policies to help students pay for college continue to shift toward favoring the rich

    Stephen Brier, a professor of urban education at the City University of New York Graduate Center, is more blunt. “This is classism and racism at the worst and most profound level,” said Brier, co-author of Austerity Blues: Fighting for the Soul of Public Higher Education.

    Community colleges spend $10,804 per student on education, down $531 per student since before the recession. Public flagship universities spend $17,252, up $404.
    Community colleges — which enroll 57 percent of Hispanic and 52 percent of black students, and 41 percent of students whose parents did not themselves go to college, according to the Urban Institute — spent $10,804 per student on education in 2013, the last year for which the figure is available from the Delta Cost Project at the American Institutes for Research, which tracks this. That’s down $531 per student since before the recession, when adjusted for inflation.

    Those institutions are being asked to do more, such as provide remedial education, workforce training, and professional certificates to students who often come from low-performing public high schools. Far fewer of those students graduate, moving on to work that pays less than they could have earned if they had, and don’t move up the economic ladder higher education was supposed to help them climb.

    In spite of budget cuts, meanwhile, large four-year public universities with faculty that conduct research spent $404 more per student since the start of the recession, or $17,252. Those places are more likely to enroll affluent students who attended higher-quality kindergarten through grade 12 schools and who are already academically well prepared.

    “It’s the classic story of building the best hospitals for the most healthy people. That’s how higher education works, too,” said Tony Carnevale, an economist and director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which has been studying this trend.

    Related: The business decision segregating college students by income and race

    “It’s perverse,” said Carnevale. “The funding system in higher ed denies the basic principles of public finance economics, which is that you’re supposed to spend the money where the need is the greatest.”

    If community colleges were once the safety net of higher education, these changes mean they aren’t any more, according to a new study from the Institute for Research on Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.

    It found that, for a growing proportion of low-income Americans, even community college is unaffordable. That’s because, in more than two-thirds of states, tuition increases forced largely by budget cuts have pushed up the proportion of family income required to pay for attending one. In 37 states, the study found, students would have to work 20 hours a week or more at a minimum-wage job to go full-time to a community college.

    This is occurring as public and private financial aid meant to help poor students also continues to shift toward favoring wealthier ones.

    “I can only see [education attainment] gaps growing in terms of race and ethnicity and certainly in terms of income if we don’t do something about this,” said the Penn institute’s executive director, Joni Finney.

    In fact, she said, even in states that are beginning to put money back into higher education, “My sense is that it’s pretty much business as usual. It’s kind of a winner-take-all game. Flagships get larger dollars per student, then it goes down the pecking order.”

    Politics are also at play. “When you think about, in state legislatures, who has the political clout, I’m going to bet you it’s the alumni from those flagships,” said Nick Hillman, an associate professor of educational leadership and policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

    And “if we’re talking about state legislatures, we’re also talking about white men who may be identifying more with people who look like them who go to four-year flagships, rather than lower-income students of color who go to community colleges,” said Colleen Campbell, senior policy analyst for the Association of Community College Trustees.

    Related: A huge and stubborn reason, still unsolved, that students go into so much debt

    As for the students who attend community colleges and regional public universities, “They are not the preferred constituents of the people making the legislative and budgetary decisions and they don’t have the political clout,” said Brier. “And if they’re immigrants as well as students of color, doubly so.”

    Changes in funding calculations that reward or punish institutions based on such things as their dropout and graduation rates — called performance funding — are also disproportionally affecting community colleges and regional public universities, according to research by Hillman.

    In a study of colleges and universities in Tennessee, he found that performance funding was siphoning more money to the top public universities with the most white and higher-income students, while the campuses that enrolled more racial minorities and low-income students lost ground.

    Higher education “isn’t just reinforcing inequality, it’s exacerbating it,” said Hillman.

    Presidents of flagship universities argue that their institutions have a huge economic impact on their states by creating the most graduates and startup companies.

    That was the basis of their loud protests in Kansas, one state where $31 million in higher-education budget cuts last year took slightly more of a bite out of Kansas State University and the University of Kansas on the grounds that they were better able to absorb them thanks to outside funding.

    In an joint letter distributed widely by their alumni associations, the heads of the two flagships said they were being punished for successfully winning research grants, and that the legislature was sending a message that Kansas “actively penalizes our research universities when they succeed.”

    But the state senator behind the shift, Republican Jacob LaTurner,” said, “It’s important to deal with reality and the reality is that a cut affects a regional public institution differently than it does a flagship institution.”

    A graduate of Kansas’s Pittsburg State University, which is in his district, LaTurner said, “There’s a great argument to be made that regional public institutions should get more support. I’m not even going that far. All I’m saying is, in a world of diminishing state investment in higher education and higher tuition rates, we have to look at this in an equitable way. In the past we’ve all lived and died together. And that just doesn’t make sense.”

    Even in Kansas, however, the issue isn’t settled. The redistribution of budget cuts was a one-time measure up for likely contentious reconsideration this year.

    “This is an issue we’re going to be grappling with again,” LaTurner said.

    This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about higher education.

    The post Nationwide, state budget cuts disproportionately hit low-income, minority college students appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Job seekers wait on line outside the Metropolitan Pavilion before the start of a job fair in New York, U.S., on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011. U.S. President Barack Obama 's $447 billion jobs plan would help avoid a return to recession by maintaining growth and pushing down the unemployment rate next year. Photographer: Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Job seekers wait on line outside the Metropolitan Pavilion before the start of a job fair in New York. Photo by Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    My outlook for 2017 and beyond is that the U.S. economy will likely see another recession.

    Yes, the economic picture currently looks wonderful. The Dow and S&P 500 are at record levels. Unemployment is well below 5 percent of the labor force. Inflation is still tame. The U.S. dollar is strong.

    Even though many indicators look amazing today, if history is any guide, we are due for another economic downturn.

    The U.S. economy has grown dramatically over the long run. GDP has increased by one-third since the beginning of the 21st century, even after adjusting for inflation.

    However, capitalist economies do not simply grow steadily larger. Instead, their long-term growth is periodically punctured by downturns.

    The record of all economic ups and downs over the last century and a half shows the U.S. economy has experienced 33 recessions. This means recessions occur roughly once every five years.

    Our present economic expansion has lasted far longer than five years. The Great Recession ended in June 2009, about seven and half years ago. Even though many indicators look amazing today, if history is any guide, we are due for another economic downturn.

    In which case, it’s a good time for a primer on recessions and how to prepare for them.

    Recession, explained.

    Who calls a recession?

    The dates of when recessions in the U.S. begin and end are declared by a nonpartisan organization called the National Bureau of Economic Research, or NBER. Within the NBER, a small committee, currently comprising nine professors, officially decides when a recession has occurred usually months after the fact.

    READ MORE: Column: The world economy is running on monetary fumes

    The group does not use two quarters of falling GDP as their guide, a common rule of thumb journalists and others employ to describe recessions. That’s in part because GDP figures are often revised by the U.S. government. Deciding when a country is or is not in a recession based on numbers that are constantly moving is not sensible.

    Instead the committee uses many factors beyond GDP such as employment, income, industrial production and retail sales.

    The four longest economic booms have all occurred since John Glenn orbited the Earth. AP Photo

    The four longest economic booms have all occurred since John Glenn orbited the Earth. AP Photo

    How long are the longest expansions?

    In U.S. economic history, no economic expansion has lasted more than a decade.

    The current economic expansion is the fourth-longest on record. This record stretches all the way back to the 1850s.

    In U.S. economic history, no economic expansion has lasted more than a decade.

    The three longer booms all occurred since John Glenn orbited the Earth. The third-longest expansion started in 1982 and lasted close to eight years. The second-longest began in 1961 and lasted a bit less than nine years. The longest expansion we’ve experienced started in 1991 and lasted a decade, until the dot-com bubble burst in 2001.

    This means that the current period of growth is entering the economic history books as something special. In just a few months it will overtake the 1982 boom and become the third-longest U.S. expansion on record.

    How much longer can it continue?

    No one knows why economic expansions end. It could be a sudden trigger like the collapse of Lehman Brothers in late 2008 or just a general loss of confidence.

    Economic theories, such as works by economist Hyman Minsky, explain that the longer an expansion continues, the more likely a recession becomes.

    The length of an expansion matters because banks lower their lending standards over time. At the end of very long expansions, banks and finance companies are willing to lend to almost anyone, because they become overly optimistic. Some of this willingness to lend carelessly is currently seen in U.S. car loans.

    In Minsky models, the economy is like a game of musical chairs at a party. Everyone has a wonderful time until the music stops and everyone wants to sit down simultaneously. Then suddenly “the euphoria becomes a panic, the boom becomes a slump.”

    Whatever the reasons that expansions end, the fact that the U.S. has never had an expansion that lasted longer than a decade does not bode well for the current one lasting much longer.

    Keep it well stuffed. Piggie bank via www.shutterstock.com

    Keep it well stuffed. Piggie bank via www.shutterstock.com

    What should you do?

    No individual has the power to stop a recession. However, by planning you can mitigate the impact an economic downturn has on you and your family.

    Right now most people are enjoying good economic times. They will not last forever. Save some money now. Pay down credit card debt and other loans. Give yourself a financial cushion that will protect you in the event of an economic downturn.

    How much you need to save depends on your risk tolerance. One guide is that over the past century and a half, the typical recession has lasted less than 1.5 years.

    READ MORE: How to create a savings plan that really works

    Recessions do not come like clockwork, however. The data suggest no clear pattern of how long expansions last. But since only three expansions since the 1850s have beaten the one we are currently living through, it’s best not to be overconfident that the current one will continue forever.

    Instead, make some plans now to mitigate the next downturn. Even if I am wrong, the worst thing that will happen is that you will have less debt and more money saved. Is that so bad?

    The Conversation

    This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

    The post Column: I’m predicting an economic recession in 2017. Are you ready? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Hillary Clinton addresses her staff and supporters about the results of the U.S. election at a hotel in the Manhattan borough of New York, in November. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    Hillary Clinton addresses her staff and supporters about the results of the U.S. election at a hotel in the Manhattan borough of New York, in November. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Falling in line with tradition, Bill and Hillary Clinton plan to attend Donald Trump’s inauguration. It’s a decision that will put Hillary Clinton on the inaugural platform as her bitter rival from the 2016 campaign assumes the office she long sought.

    The Clintons announced their decision to attend the Jan. 20 inauguration shortly after former President George W. Bush’s office said Tuesday he would attend along with former first lady Laura Bush.

    The Bushes are “pleased to be able to witness the peaceful transfer of power — a hallmark of American democracy — and swearing-in of President Trump and Vice President Pence,” Bush’s office said in a statement.

    It is traditional for former presidents and their spouses to attend the inauguration.

    But the decision to attend was fraught for the Clintons, given Hillary Clinton’s bitter campaign against Trump. The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee has largely avoided public appearances since Trump defeated her in November.

    Bush, too, has had a difficult relationship with Trump. His brother Jeb ran against Trump in the GOP primaries. George and Laura Bush let it be known they voted for “none of the above” for president rather than cast a ballot for Trump, but the ex-president did call to congratulate Trump after his victory.

    Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, earlier said they plan to attend Trump’s inaugural.

    Former President George H.W. Bush, 92, and his wife, Barbara, do not plan to attend the inauguration due to the former president’s age and health, his office said.

    SUBSCRIBE: Get the analysis of Mark Shields and David Brooks delivered to your inbox every week.

    The post Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush to attend inauguration appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has condemned his state's Republican-sponsored voter ID law and constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. But in his position he must defend the state against lawsuits on both issues. (Takaaki Iwabu/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)

    North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has condemned his state’s Republican-sponsored voter ID law and constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. But in his position he must defend the state against lawsuits on both issues. (Takaaki Iwabu/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)

    North Carolina’s new Democratic governor was sworn in only three days ago. But Roy Cooper is already embroiled in a power struggle with the Republican-controlled legislature, which voted last month to curb his power before he even took office.

    The legislature’s moves are not unprecedented in a state where both parties have long battled each other for power. But the controversial new laws — which limit Cooper’s control over state and county elections boards and its powerful university system — are unusually aggressive even by North Carolina’s standards, and could become a playbook for future power grabs by other state legislatures around the country.

    Cooper slammed the elections board law last week, calling it “unconstitutional and anything but bipartisan.” A state judge temporarily blocked the law last Friday, after Cooper filed a lawsuit arguing the measure violated the state’s separation of powers.

    The governor struck a more conciliatory tone at his swearing-in ceremony on Monday. “I know and I am confident that although we may come at it from different ways, other leaders in this state and I can work together to make North Carolina its very best,” Cooper said.

    But Cooper has vowed to continue fighting the law, ensuring that his relationship with the GOP-run legislature will get off to a rocky start after a fierce election between Cooper and former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.

    The laws speak “to the fact that we have a legislature that is pretty much unaccountable.”

    And if Cooper fails, he’ll lose significant authority over North Carolina’s elections and education systems — a win for Republicans and McCrory, who signed the bills in a special session in his last days before leaving office.

    The education-related law, HB17, subjects the governor’s cabinet appointments to senate approval, and strips the governor’s power to appoint members to the boards of trustees of the University of North Carolina’s schools. It also decreased the number of state employees under the governor’s control from 1,500 to 425.

    The number of employees increased to 1,500 from about 400 after McCrory, a former mayor of Charlotte, was elected in 2012.

    The elections boards law, SB4, changed the makeup of North Carolina’s influential state and county elections boards.Since 1901, the governor has appointed a majority of the members of both boards — three of the five seats on the state board, and two of the seats on the three-member county board.

    But under the new law, the boards will be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, with an eight-member state election board and four-member county election board. Republicans will chair all boards in even years, Democrats in odd years. In North Carolina, no state elections occur in odd years.

    Taken together, the laws, combined with a veto-proof Republican supermajority in the legislature, hamstring Cooper’s power in key areas across the state.

    Legislature vs. governor

    Of course, some or all of the measures could be overturned. And North Carolina has always had a strong legislative branch and a weak governor to protect against executive power, said Bob Phillips, the executive director of the advocacy group Common Cause.

    Nonetheless, the laws speak “to the fact that we have a legislature that is pretty much unaccountable,” Phillips said.

    It also reinforced the deep partisanship on display in the gubernatorial election, which was dragged out by a month-long recount and allegations of voter fraud by McCrory, who conceded on Dec. 5.

    In his concession announcement, McCrory vowed to “help the new administration make a smooth transition.” But then he signed HB17 and SB4 into law less than two weeks later, drawing fierce criticism from Democrats and government watchdog groups.

    As criticism has grown, Republicans have defended the laws, and attacked Cooper for suing to retain majority control of the elections boards. Last week, Republican Senate Leader Phil Berger said the suit represents Cooper’s own grab for power.

    “Given the recent weeks-long uncertainty surrounding his own election, the governor-elect should understand better than anyone why North Carolinians deserve a system they can trust [that] will settle election outcomes fairly and without the taint of partisanship,” Berger said.

    Under the state constitution, the General Assembly is “authorized to define the authority of the governor,” and had every right to make the proposed changes, said Becki Gray, a senior vice president of the John Locke Foundation, a leading conservative think tank in North Carolina.

    Still, veteran political observers in the state said the laws represented a break from tradition.

    “Shifting some power away from the executive branch towards the legislative branch, when the legislature has power to do that, I think that’s reasonable,” said Steven Greene, a political science professor at North Carolina State University.“What I don’t think is reasonable, and it’s a very bad precedent, is to do that right in the context where you’ve lost an election.”

    People arrive to cast their ballot for 2016 elections at a polling station as early voting begins in North Carolina, in Carrboro, North Carolina, U.S., October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake - RTX2PR63

    People arrive to cast their ballot at a polling station as early voting began in Carrboro, North Carolina last October. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

    Critics are especially concerned about the elections boards law.

    County election boards decide voting rules at the county level. When they can’t agree, the state election board steps in to settle disputes. If the state board doesn’t reach a majority consensus, the issue moves to the state Court of Appeals, which is majority Republican. Under SB4, the court now has a role in deciding constitutional challenges to state laws.

    Equal party representation on elections board could lead to increased gridlock, Phillips said, impacting rules around issues like early voting and same-day registration.

    North Carolina Republicans have come under fire in recent years for pushing laws that critics say limit Democratic voter turnout.

    In September, the majority-Republican state elections board rejected some of the more restrictive measures, though opponents argued the decision left in place some rules aimed at reducing Democratic turnout. Two months later, Donald Trump won the state with 49.8 percent of the vote, edging out Hillary Clinton by two points.

    Setting a precedent?

    With the fight between Cooper and GOP lawmakers under way, Republicans have cited past Democratic efforts to curb their power in North Carolina elections.

    Several cited the so-called 1976 “Christmas Massacre,” when Democratic Governor-elect Jim Hunt demanded the resignation of 169 employees from outgoing Republican Gov. Jim Holshouser’s administration. Around 75 were removed.

    “There is partisan maneuvering that goes on. The question is, when does it become excessive?”

    “The game of politics, as far as I know, is still played on the basis of ‘to the victor belong the spoils,’” Joe Pell, a former Hunt adviser, told the News & Observer last month.

    And in 1985, Democrats capped the amount of employee positions under incoming Republican Gov. Jim Martin.

    “There is partisan maneuvering that goes on. The question is, when does it become excessive?” said Bob Hall, the executive director of Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan group focused on increasing voter participation. “I think it’s also clear that what happened here at the end of 2016 is far more excessive, far bolder and more aggressive than anything the Democrats have done in the past,” Hall added.

    As the debate over the laws has swirled, experts said the fight could presage future power-sharing conflicts in North Carolina and beyond.

    “Partisan leaders are testing the winds of what their populations will tolerate and what they’re going to get payback for in the next election,” Hall said. “Because if they go too far, people will vote them out as being too greedy and selfish.”

    Greene said the GOP’s maneuvering could set a “concerning precedent” for the state going forward. The next test will come if Cooper loses his re-election to a Republican, and state Democrats have a chance to return the favor.

    “When the situation flips, I think there will be a lot of pressure on Democrats to push things I would consider too far,” Greene said.

    The post What North Carolina’s power-stripping laws mean for new Gov. Roy Cooper appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives a New Year address for 2017 in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on Jan. 1, 2017. KCNA via Reuters

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives a New Year address for 2017 in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on Jan. 1, 2017. KCNA via Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Donald Trump says he is confident North Korea won’t develop a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the United States. But his options for stopping the reclusive communist country are slim: diplomacy that would reward Pyongyang, sanctions which haven’t worked, and military action that no one wants.

    For more than two decades, Republican and Democratic administrations have tried carrots and sticks to steer North Korea away from nuclear weapons. Each has failed. And as Trump prepares to take office Jan. 20, the stakes are rising.

    Pyongyang may already be able to arm short-range and mid-range missiles with atomic warheads, threatening U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, and American forces in each country. On Sunday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said preparations for launching an intercontinental ballistic missile “reached the final stage.”

    Trump tweeted the following day: “It won’t happen!”

    Some experts believe the North is likely to have the capability to strike the U.S. mainland before Trump’s four-year term is up.

    The president-elect has given conflicting signals about what he plans to do, while stressing that China, North Korea’s traditional ally, must exert greater pressure on its unpredictable neighbor.

    Some of his options:


    In June, Trump called for dialogue with North Korea and suggested a talk with Kim over a hamburger.

    If only talking with the secretive, hereditary rulers in Pyongyang were so simple. No sitting U.S. president has ever done so.

    Diplomacy with the North is a delicate dance and agreements have proved temporary.

    Three U.S. administrations, going back to President Bill Clinton, have persuaded the North to disarm in exchange for aid. Each effort eventually failed, and there is deep skepticism in Congress about trying again.

    A 1994 deal would have given North Korea nuclear power reactors and normalized ties with Washington. North Korea’s plutonium production paused for several years. But after it emerged the North also was seeking to use uranium for weapons, the arrangement collapsed.

    Six-nation nuclear negotiations hosted by China have been on ice since North Korea withdrew in 2009.

    The Obama administration attempted to restart them in 2012, early in Kim’s rule, by offering food aid for a nuclear and missile freeze. Within weeks, the North tried to launch a long-range rocket. The effort was abandoned.

    Since then, the U.S. has resorted to “strategic patience” — demanding North Korea recommit to denuclearization before holding talks. Pyongyang has refused, demanding the U.S. end military exercises with South Korea and negotiate a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.

    American officials fear the North only would want talks to ease its isolation, and not to resolve the nuclear question.


    International sanctions have tightened since North Korea conducted its first of five nuclear tests in 2006. But the country has adeptly circumvented restrictions on sensitive technology and money flows, and used its own capabilities to develop weapons.

    Additional U.S. sanctions, beefed up last year, punish foreign companies and banks dealing with North Korea. They, too, haven’t been effective because the North’s international isolation makes it less susceptible to such pressure than a major economy like Iran, which curbed its nuclear program in 2015 after being battered by oil, trade and financial sanctions.

    China’s role is critical. It dominates trade with the North and has resisted sanctions that could destabilize Pyongyang, fearing the possibility of a U.S.-allied, unified Korea emerging.

    When the U.N. Security Council punished Pyongyang for another nuclear test in September, the primary goal was closing a loophole that enabled China to import North Korean coal at record levels.

    The last several U.S. administrations entered office determined to break Beijing’s partnership with Pyongyang. None succeeded.


    Using military force against North Korea is extremely risky.

    Even before it developed nuclear weapons, the North maintained the ability to strike Seoul, South Korea’s capital, with a potentially devastating artillery barrage. Although doing so would invite a blistering U.S. response, it’s hardly a scenario any American commander-in-chief wants to contemplate.

    The military option has been considered before.

    Clinton considered a strike on the North’s nuclear facilities after it announced it would reprocess fuel from a nuclear reactor, providing it plutonium for bombs. Diplomacy appeared to win out that time with the 1994 agreement.

    A military strike would be harder to pull off now. North Korea has expanded its nuclear and missile programs significantly, meaning more targets would have to be hit.

    And regional support would be questionable.

    In a recent paper, former U.S. negotiator Joel Wit said the escalation risk meant neither South Korea nor Japan would likely support a military strike. It could also draw into the conflict China, which fought on North Korea’s side against U.S.-led forces six decades ago.

    READ MORE: 5 things to know about the incoming Republican Congress

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    Businessman on phone at desk in office with hand on forehead. Frustrated employee, worker. Photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

    Work means everything to us. But our beliefs around work are no longer plausible. In fact, they’ve become ridiculous, because there’s not enough work to go around, and what there is of it won’t pay the bills, writes James Livingston. Photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

    The following is the first of two adapted excerpts from historian James Livingston’s new book, “No More Work: Why Full Employment is a Bad Idea.”

    Work means everything to us. For centuries — since, say, 1650 — we’ve believed that it builds character (punctuality, initiative, honesty, self-discipline and so forth). We’ve also believed that the market in labor, where we go to find work, has been relatively efficient in allocating opportunities and incomes. And we’ve believed that even if it sucks, the job gives meaning, purpose and structure to our everyday lives — at any rate, we’re pretty sure that it gets us out of bed, pays the bills, makes us feel responsible and keeps us away from daytime TV.

    These beliefs are no longer plausible. In fact, they’ve become ridiculous, because there’s not enough work to go around, and what there is of it won’t pay the bills — unless, of course, you’ve landed a job as a drug dealer or a Wall Street banker, becoming a gangster either way.

    What, exactly, is the point of earning a paycheck that isn’t a living wage, except to prove that you have a work ethic?

    These days everybody from left to right — from Dean Baker to conservative Arthur C. Brooks — addresses this breakdown of the labor market by advocating full employment, as if having a job is self-evidently a good thing, no matter how dangerous, demanding or demeaning it is. But “full employment” is not the way to restore our faith in hard work, or in playing by the rules or whatever. (Note that the official unemployment rate is already below 6 percent, which is pretty close to what economists used to call full employment.) Crappy jobs for everyone won’t solve any social problem we now face.

    And don’t tell me that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour solves the problem. No one can doubt the moral significance of the movement. But at this rate of pay, even at 40 hours a week — an unlikely amount in fast-food franchises — you’re still at that official poverty line. What, exactly, is the point of earning a paycheck that isn’t a living wage, except to prove that you have a work ethic?

    READ MORE: Should We Fear ‘the End of Work’?

    But isn’t our present dilemma just a passing phase of the business cycle? What about the job market of the future? Haven’t the doomsayers, those damn Malthusians, always been proved wrong by rising productivity, new fields of enterprise, new economic opportunities? Well, yeah — until now, these times. The measurable trends of the past half century and the plausible projections for the next half century, are just too empirically grounded to dismiss as dismal science or ideological hokum. They look like the data on climate change — you can deny them if you like, but you’ll sound like a moron when you do.

    Oxford economists who study employment trends tell us that fully two-thirds of existing jobs, including those involving “non-routine cognitive tasks” — you know, like thinking — are at risk of death by computerization within 20 years. They’re elaborating on conclusions reached by two MIT economists in a book from 2012 called “Race against the Machine.” Meanwhile, the Silicon Valley types who give TED talks have started speaking of “surplus humans” as a result of the same process — cybernated production. “Rise of the Robots,” the title of a new book that cites these very sources, is social science, not science fiction.

    You might even say it’s a spiritual impasse, because it makes us ask what social scaffolding other than work will permit the construction of character — or whether character itself is something we must aspire to.

    So ours is a moral crisis as well as an economic catastrophe. You might even say it’s a spiritual impasse, because it makes us ask what social scaffolding other than work will permit the construction of character — or whether character itself is something we must aspire to. But that is why it’s also an intellectual opportunity: It forces us to imagine a world in which the job no longer builds our character, determines our incomes or dominates our daily lives.

    In short, it lets us say, “Enough already; f*** work.”

    Certainly this crisis makes us ask what comes after work? What would you do without your job as the external discipline that organizes your waking life — as the social imperative that gets you up and on your way to the factory, the office, the store, the warehouse, the restaurant, wherever you work and, no matter how much you hate it, keeps you coming back? What would you do if you didn’t have to work to receive an income?

    READ MORE: Column: Working parents have two jobs — and both are important to the economy

    And what would society and civilization be like if we didn’t have to earn a living — if leisure was not our choice but our lot? Would we hang out at the local Starbucks, laptops open? Or volunteer to teach children in less-developed countries, like Mississippi? Or smoke weed and watch reality TV all day?

    We already have some provisional answers, because so many of us are on the dole, more or less. The fastest-growing component of household income since 1959 has been “transfer payments” from government. By the turn of the 21st century, 20 percent of all household income came from this source — from what is otherwise known as welfare or “entitlements.” Without this income supplement, half of the adults with full-time jobs would live below the poverty line, and most working Americans would be eligible for food stamps.

    But are these transfer payments and entitlements affordable, in either economic or moral terms? By continuing and enlarging them, do we subsidize sloth, or do we enrich a debate on the rudiments of the good life?

    But are these transfer payments and entitlements affordable, in either economic or moral terms? By continuing and enlarging them, do we subsidize sloth, or do we enrich a debate on the rudiments of the good life?

    Transfer payments or “entitlements,” not to mention Wall Street bonuses — talk about getting something for nothing — have taught us how to detach the receipt of income from the production of goods, but now, in plain view of the end of work, the lesson needs rethinking. No matter how you calculate the federal budget, we can afford to be our brother’s keeper. The real question is not whether, but how we choose to be.

    I know what you’re thinking — we can’t afford this! But, yeah, we can, very easily. We raise the arbitrary lid on the Social Security contribution, which now stands at $113,700, and we raise taxes on corporate income, reversing the Reagan Revolution. And of course we don’t cut the top marginal tax rate on the rich. Eventually, if not under the incoming president and Congress, we increase it. These steps would solve a fake fiscal problem and create an economic surplus where we now can measure a moral deficit.

    READ MORE: More part-time workers suffer instability, long hours to make ends meet

    Now you may say, along with every economist from Dean Baker to Greg Mankiw, left to right, that raising taxes on corporate income is a disincentive to investment and thus job creation. Or that it will drive corporations overseas, where taxes are lower.

    In the next installment, I will explain why raising taxes on corporate income can’t have these effects.

    From “No More Work: Why Full Employment is a Bad Idea.” Copyright © 2016 by James Livingston. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press.  www.uncpress.unc.edu

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    Changes in power at the White House are grabbing the most headlines right now. But the longer-term story about American democracy in recent years has been the shift in the demographics of the population as a whole. Here’s how the diversity in the nation compares with the makeup of the new Congress and the proposed new Trump cabinet (looking at the 19 nominees he’s named).

    Women:          United States - 50.8% 	Trump cabinet (so far) - 21% 	115th Congress - 19.9% 	 African-American: 	United States - 13.8% 	Trump cabinet (so far) - 5.2% 	115th Congress - 9%  Hispanic: 	United States - 17.1% 	Trump cabinet (so far) - 0% 	115th Congress - 7%  Asian-American:         United States - 6.1% 	Trump cabinet (so far) - 10.5% 	115th Congress - 2.8%

    In general, both the proposed Trump White House and new Congress are distinctly less diverse and have a much lower representation of women than America at large. This is not a new phenomenon, but it is increasingly glaring as America becomes more diverse. The Obama cabinet was more diverse than they one Mr. Trump has proposed so far, but it was still far short of representing women and Hispanics.

    Highlights: Mr. Trump’s cabinet of choice is particularly different than America at large when it comes to blacks and Hispanics, with a single African-American nominee so far and no Hispanics. Congress has record high numbers of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, but all are still represented in much lower numbers in Congress than they are in the country as a whole. Here’s a look at those numbers:

    READ MORE: Trump’s cabinet is mostly white and male. What will that mean for policy?

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    Video by PBS NewsHour

    Outgoing CIA Director John Brennan said Tuesday that those who doubt the connection between Russia and the hacking of Democratic Party email accounts, leading up to November’s election, should take a look at the forthcoming intelligence report “before they make those judgments.”

    President-elect Donald Trump, among others, has questioned the assessment that Russia is behind the hacking, citing past intelligence community mistakes, including the finding of no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    “In the aftermath of that, there was a total review of the review process and the analytic process and the assessments that are done with the intelligence community with a number of steps that were taken to ensure that we’re going to be as accurate as possible,” said Brennan in an exit interview with PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff.

    “And so, it’s been light-years since that report on Iraq WMD has been done and there has been tremendous further development, I think, of our analytic capabilities as well as our intelligence-collecting capabilities,” Brennan said.

    “I would suggest to individuals that have not yet seen the report, who have not yet been briefed on it, that they wait and see what it is that the intelligence community is putting forward before they make those judgments,” he said.

    A joint FBI-Department of Homeland Security report released on Dec. 29 has linked Russian intelligence services to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta. President Barack Obama has requested an additional report from the intelligence community.

    Video by PBS NewsHour

    When Woodruff asked about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s claims that Russia did not hand over the leaked information, Brennan said, “well, he’s not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity.”

    Video by PBS NewsHour

    On Syria, Brennan said “no one could have envisioned” the developments in the war-wracked country over the past few years, including the growth of the Islamic State group.

    “When I look back in light of the way things evolved, I think there could have been some adjustments to some of the policies – not just by the United States – but by other countries in order to address this question earlier on and not allow” Islamic State and al-Qaida fighters to gain momentum and take advantage of the destruction of the country, he said.

    Video by PBS NewsHour

    Woodruff also asked Brennan about the vulnerability of Trump’s buildings abroad. “In this day and age when there are so many ways to damage building, infrastructure, systems and networks, they need to put in place the appropriate safeguards to protect themselves from these types of attacks,” Brennan said.

    Trump has chosen Mike Pompeo, a Republican congressman from Kansas, to take Brennan’s place under his administration. Brennan said his successor will encounter numerous complex issues and that he plans to help with the transition just as the George W. Bush administration helped him.

    Watch Part 1 of Woodruff’s interview with Brennan on Tuesday’s broadcast. Part 2 is expected to air on Wednesday.

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    U.S. President Barack Obama high-fives children in a pre-kindergarten classroom at College Heights early childhood learning center in Decatur February 14, 2013. Obama flew to Georgia to push his plan to ensure high-quality preschool, unveiled during his State of the Union address this week.  REUTERS/Jason Reed   (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS EDUCATION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR3DSIB

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    ALISON STEWART: We continue our look at the Obama years and his legacy.

    Tonight, we focus on a subject that often gets less attention, public education.

    Much of what happens in the classroom is decided at the state and local level. But the federal government can also be a big player in some of the most personal issues for families, which is also the focus of our weekly segment Making the Grade.

    Throughout most of his term, President Obama and his former education secretary, Arne Duncan, exercised far more power and influence in education than many of their predecessors.

    One major focus, a demand for greater student testing tied directly to teacher evaluation and, crucially, federal money for schools. Duncan was essentially the gatekeeper of billion of stimulus money known as Race to the Top.

    Districts could qualify if they agreed to meet those criteria. Initially, many states joined in. But, over time, resistance began building to testing, data-driven metrics, and whether teachers were being judged unfairly.

    The president himself addressed those concerns.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: When we talk about testing, parents worry that it means more teaching to the test. Some worry that tests are culturally biased. Teachers worry that they will be evaluated solely on the basis of a single standardized test. Everybody thinks that’s unfair.

    It is unfair. But that’s not what Race to the Top is about. What Race to the Top says is there’s nothing wrong with testing, we just need better tests applied in a way that helps teachers and students, instead of stifling what teachers and students do in the classroom.

    ALISON STEWART: It also led to a backlash of state standards known as the Common Core.

    JULIA SASS RUBIN, Save Our Schools New Jersey: They’re impacting the kind of education kids are getting, because they’re eating up a lot of introduction time with test preparation and test drilling.

    CAROLEE ADAMS, Eagle Forum: On this issue, we are shoulder to shoulder, parents, conservatives, progressives, the teachers. We’re all opposed to this because this is not about learning, this is not about education.

    ALISON STEWART: The administration promoted the expansion of charter schools, and pointed to a national graduation rate topping 83 percent.

    At the same time, the president’s team took a bigger role in higher education. It became the direct lender to students, instead of having the loans made directly by banks. Savings were used to expand Pell Grants. And the administration took aim at the world of for-profit colleges, cracking down on federal funds and contending that students were frequently not well-served by the schools.

    Let’s dig a little deeper into the Obama legacy in education with two people who have covered it extensively, Alyson Klein of our partners at Education Week, and Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed.

    Thanks to both of you for being here.

    Let’s talk about what the Obama administration wanted to do when it first got into office.

    Alyson, what was one thing that they wanted to tackle about through K-12 education immediately?

    ALYSON KLEIN, Education Week: So, they were in a very fortunate position when they first came into office, in that the Obama administration was given $100 billion for education through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus.

    And with some of that money through a program known as Race to the Top, they were able to prod states to adopt college and career-ready standards, better known as the Common Core, new forms of teacher evaluation that relied in part on student test scores, and dramatic ways of turning around the lowest performing schools, including getting rid of principals and many teachers.

    ALISON STEWART: All right, we will unpack that in a little bit.

    Same question for you, Scott, about higher education. What did the Obama administration wanted to tackle right away?

    SCOTT JASCHIK, Inside Higher Ed: Sure.

    In President Obama’s first state of the union, he said something no president had said before, which is that every American needs at least one year of post-secondary training to succeed in today’s economy. And you see that priority reflected in much that the administration did, proposals for free community college, putting more money into aid for low-income students.

    The key difference between past administrations is that I would say, historically, the focus of higher ed policy has been on helping middle-class families who were already going to send their children to college to do so in more affordable ways.

    President Obama focused on the students who weren’t going, those who needed higher education, but were not seeking it.

    ALISON STEWART: Alyson, let’s unpack a little bit of what you talked about.

    Testing became a buzzword among K-12 education, associated with Common Core state standards. The Common Core was obviously an idea, a way to have a federal standard, so that students in Nevada could be compared to students in Texas.

    What happened in theory with Common Core and testing vs. what happened in practice?

    ALYSON KLEIN: So, the Obama administration didn’t tell states that they had to adopt the Common Core standards, but they did give them, a number of states, money who chose to do that.

    And they also used some of the money from the stimulus which I talked about to help states develop new, more innovative forms of tests aligned with those standards.

    But they were really demanding a lot from states at once. Teach had to adjust to brand-new standards that were much more rigorous in many cases than the standards they had before and brand-new types of tests. And it just put a lot of pressure on a system.

    ALISON STEWART: And also on teacher evaluations. That became a very difficult subject, because you had teachers in certain schools with certain sort of support and scaffolding being compared to teachers in other schools perhaps in more affluent areas.

    ALYSON KLEIN: Yes, that’s right.

    And one of the big issues with teacher evaluation is that teachers felt that it didn’t necessarily reward them for taking on more challenging groups of students. And, as I mentioned before, the tests and the standards were changing at the same time that teacher performance was being held to those tests.

    So, they really felt like that was an unfair situation for them.

    ALISON STEWART: Charter schools was another big part of the Obama administration’s push. I believe there was something like $208 million for charter schools in 2008-2009. And that’s up to $333 million, approximately, now. Why the focus on charter schools?

    ALYSON KLEIN: So, charter schools are one of the few areas of K-12 education policy where Democrats and Republicans really see eye to eye for the most part.

    The Obama administration in particular really pushed states that had lowest — low-performing schools to consider turning those schools into a charter. But they also asked states to set a high bar for charters, make sure that charters were serving all different kinds of students, students in special education and English-language learners, and were being held to the same standards as regular public schools.

    ALISON STEWART: Scott, let’s bring you into the conversation.


    ALISON STEWART: You mentioned bringing new people into the higher education population.

    How did the president and his administration make this possible? Were they successful with bringing people in to the higher population, higher education population that wouldn’t have been there before?

    SCOTT JASCHIK: Many times, they were successful, but not the way he proposed it.

    ALISON STEWART: What does that mean?

    SCOTT JASCHIK: So, take free community college.

    President Obama proposed a state-federal partnership that would make community college free. Congress never touched it. So, you could say, on one hand, nothing happened. But the reality is that districts all over the country took the idea and ran with it.

    And so there are free community college programs in individual districts all over the country. Also, I would say, by talking about the issue, President Obama put much more emphasis on that choice than you ever saw before.

    President Obama and also Michelle Obama used their bully pulpits to say, hey, it’s important to go. And they said — they linked it over and over again to jobs that students would need for the future.

    And in that sense, I think he changed the conversation. Community colleges used to be sort of a side issue. He made them much more central. He also focused a lot on endorsing alternative ways to go to college. He’s a fan of online education, competency-based education, all kinds of new approaches that, again, he used the bully pulpit to promote, not so much federal legislation, but with attention.

    ALISON STEWART: How about dealing with income inequality? We see that in secondary education. Kids who come from well-to-do families often go to college. It’s a very small percentage of people who come from lower-income families.

    What did he do and his administration do to help those folks?

    SCOTT JASCHIK: So, early on, he promoted large increases — and he got some — in Pell Grants, which is the largest federal program for low-income students.

    He wasn’t thrilled with the results, though, because a lot of the money ended up going to students at for-profit institutions, where he questioned the quality.

    So, I think that’s part of what led him to free community college, to focus attention on another sector. He also focused a lot on the quality of institutions. He wasn’t, you know, looking at community colleges through rose-colored glasses. He talked about the need for them to improve their graduation rates, to improve their — the connection between their job training programs and actual careers.

    So, he was putting attention there, not on Harvard and Stanford.

    ALISON STEWART: What about attention about what’s going on, on campus? There were so many stories about sexual assault issues on campuses in the past year-and-a-half.

    SCOTT JASCHIK: I think this is an area where the Obama administration played a very significant role.

    One, they talked about it a lot, not just the Education Department, but President Obama, Vice President Biden, in repeated events. They also, the administration changed the rules. They told colleges to change the burden of proof when colleges were considering these cases, saying it had to only be a preponderance of evidence. So, that’s a lower standard than, say, guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

    And they empowered the Office for Civil Rights at the Education Department to have resources to do more investigations, so, attention and policy, at the same time that activists on campuses were raising the issue more than ever.

    ALISON STEWART: A final question for both of you.

    What do you think will be the lasting impact of his education legacy, the thing that will stick around, regardless of what’s going on in terms of politics?

    ALYSON KLEIN: That’s a great question.

    I would say one of the big focuses of the administration was on turning around the lowest-performing schools. And that’s something that’s been enshrined in a law called the Every Student Succeeds Act.

    States will still have to focus on schools that are just at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to performers. So, that’s something that I expect to continue no matter who’s in the White House.

    ALISON STEWART: What do you think, Scott?

    SCOTT JASCHIK: I would say this idea of free college, even though he didn’t get it.

    Today, New York’s governor proposed free public higher education. That comes out of the Sanders and Clinton plans, but I also think it comes out of the Obama proposal about free community college. Eight years ago, people were not talking about the idea of free college. Now they are.

    ALISON STEWART: Scott Jaschik and Alyson Klein, thanks for joining us.

    ALYSON KLEIN: Thank you.

    SCOTT JASCHIK: Thank you.

    The post What will be Obama’s lasting education legacy? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Ford Motor Co. assembly workers listen during a news conference as Ford president and CEO Mark Fields makes a major announcement at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, U.S. January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook - RTX2XE76

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Today’s announcement by the Ford Motor Company that it would add 700 more jobs at a Michigan plant came after it became one of a number of companies squarely in the eye of President-elect Trump.

    William Brangham follows up on what’s behind this move and others like it.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The Ford announcement follows moves from several other companies saying they too might keep some jobs in the U.S. that were planned for Mexico or elsewhere.

    The president-elect has repeatedly tweeted about some of these companies, including Ford, and pressing them to keep jobs in the U.S.

    Ford said today that it didn’t consult with Mr. Trump on their Michigan decision.

    Josh Boak has been covering the story for the Associated Press. And he joins me now.

    So, Josh, bring us up to speed. What did Ford agree to do today?

    JOSH BOAK, Associated Press: Ford announced that it wasn’t going to build a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico.

    There were a few reasons for that, one of which was that the plant was going to build Ford Focuses. And sales of that car have dipped as oil prices have fallen.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This is a little, small, fuel-efficient vehicle.

    JOSH BOAK: Exactly.

    But the other major impact has been Donald Trump on Twitter talking about companies and what he wants to see them do, and those two seem to have combined together. Ford’s own CEO said he hoped that Trump’s policies on deregulation and taxes would be good for the company and good for the country.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: As we mentioned before, this follows moves where Trump has targeted other companies, Carrier, Boeing, Lockheed Martin. And companies have shifted their positions based according to what Mr. Trump seems to be saying.

    Overall, how many jobs are we talking about here that are going to be staying in the U.S.?

    JOSH BOAK: Well, as far as Ford’s announcement today, they’re looking to hire 700 workers starting in 2018.

    When we look at Carrier, that’s 800 jobs. When we look last week at Sprint, that’s 5,000 jobs. OneWeb, that’s 3,000 jobs. Now, that sounds like a lot in an individual announcement, but the U.S. economy is massive. It added 2.25 million jobs last year alone. That’s so great, that this is really a drop in the bucket in the big picture.

    But it’s massive symbolically. We can’t forget that part of economics is psychology and the animal spirits, and Trump is really stirring them right now.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, do you credit these moves to Donald Trump? I mean, he would love to take credit for them, and we have seen him do that many times in the past. Do you credit him with what we saw out of Ford today?

    JOSH BOAK: Well, many of the chief executives involved in these decisions are crediting Donald Trump or attributing their decisions to him.

    And they have benefited from that. Last week, with the Sprint deal, for example, we saw Masayoshi Son say this has been the result of actions by the Trump administration. And giving credit to Donald Trump has actually been good for these companies.

    Sprint’s stock is up more than 40 percent, as of last Friday, since Trump became president. So, if the bottom line is what these CEOs really care about, then being on Trump’s side thus far has been profitable.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, how much of this — getting back to the point you made, how much of this is about economics and how much of this is about politics? Is this about a substantial change in manufacturing policy by these companies, or is this about being on the right side of public opinion?

    JOSH BOAK: Well, it’s critical to note there actually hasn’t been a policy change, just a series of tweets and public statements and phone calls.

    We haven’t seen a policy overhaul. We have seen the promise of policy overhauls on regulatory and tax issues, but those haven’t been manifest yet. So what this really appears to be is a president-elect able to exercise power on social media in a way that’s unprecedented. And corporations have seen benefits to responding to that.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: We saw President-elect Trump leaning on GM today. Is this, in your mind, just the new paradigm, that companies in the U.S. have to prepare for the fact that you might have the president-elect or the soon-to-be president just naming them and shaming them?

    JOSH BOAK: It’s definitely possible.

    Business leaders I have talked to have said that they expect to have a bullseye on them. But what we have also seen talking with members of the Trump transition team is that Donald Trump sees these actions and interventions as a way to stay connected with his voting base.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Do you think that these — as you mentioned, this is not necessarily a reflection of a new policy.

    Like, do you have any sense how Trump might — how this might translate, these actions might translate into a more cohesive economic policy going forward?

    JOSH BOAK: Well, he ran on the premise of America first. And that was all part of the greater make America great again theme.

    He’s clearly said that he wants to increase manufacturing jobs. And so this seems to be a component of that. The question is how he goes about that. We don’t have the policy details, although he has suggested that he will impose a border tax of some kind on companies that move jobs overseas.

    He’s also suggested that he’s going to cut regulation, which increases profits for a lot of these companies. What remains to be seen is whether he can create jobs on a meaningful scale and generate the kind of economic growth that’s he’s actually promised, about 3.5 percent a year.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It seems to be he has got a carrots-and-sticks policy going here. He’s going to offer them, potentially, less regulations and thus lower taxes, and then also threaten to put this tax on them if they try to leave the country.

    Do you think that there’s an appetite in Congress to actually put those measures into place?

    JOSH BOAK: Well, that remains to be seen.

    What executives like Ford CEO Mark Fields has said when he talks about his decision on Mexico is to say — is to emphasize the taxes and deregulation. He is focusing on the carrots, not the sticks.

    Business leaders are emphasizing those carrots, which means that they either don’t want to address the sticks or they don’t think the sticks are likely to happen.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You have obviously been covering economic policy for a long time. How unusual is this, to have a president-elect naming companies by name and singling them — singling them out, and then them responding?

    JOSH BOAK: It’s unprecedented because he hasn’t assumed office yet.

    More importantly, he’s doing so on social media and other venues that presidents historically have not had.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Just because it hasn’t existed.

    JOSH BOAK: Exactly.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Josh Boak, AP, thank you very much for being here.

    JOSH BOAK: Thank you.

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    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives at the Hangzhou Exhibition Center to participate to G20 Summit, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, September 4, 2016. REUTERS/Etienne Oliveau/Pool - RTX2O241

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    ALISON STEWART: But first: In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pushing NATO allies to return hundreds of officers and soldiers who’ve sought asylum in other countries following the coup attempt last July aimed at toppling his government.

    In Greece, eight wanted Turkish military personnel are fighting extradition. And since the coup, President Erdogan has disputed a longstanding border treaty between the two countries.

    Military analysts warn that relations between Greece and Turkey are at their lowest point in more than 20 years.

    From Greece, Malcolm Brabant reports.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: The attempted coup against President Erdogan only lasted a few hours in July. But the clashes left about 300 dead and more than 2,000 injured.


    MALCOLM BRABANT: Within hours of President Erdogan wrestling back control, eight Turkish military personnel flew to Northern Greece and sought political asylum.

    They went to court on charges of entering the country illegally amid Turkish claims that they were terrorists. Since then, they have been fighting extradition, arguing that they risk a death sentence if returned.

    The eight Turkish soldiers and pilots are currently being held at this police station on the outskirts of Athens.

    STAVROULA TOMARA, Attorney: They realize that they are held here as prisoners, basically as prisoners of war. This is how I would name them. They have been extremely depressed. They are anxious. And they are frightened, scared, extremely scared about what’s going to happen.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Stavroula Tomara is one of the lawyers trying to prevent their extradition. She insists their claims for asylum are entirely justified.

    STAVROULA TOMARA: These people were persecuted due to the reasons of political opinions and social status they had. They were Kemalists. They are Kemalists. And they were in a social group that is being persecuted.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Kemalists uphold the ideals of Kemal Ataturk, the First World War hero who modernized Turkey by turning it into a secular, Westward-oriented state.

    The army’s traditional role, buttressing secularism, has been eroded under President Erdogan and his vision of Turkey as a regional superpower with conservative Islam at its core.

    Erdogan alleges that this man orchestrated the coup. His name is Fethullah Gulen. And he is living in exile in Pennsylvania, where he runs an organization that purports to promote moderate Islamic values.

    Erdogan accuses him of running a terrorist group. On several occasions, he’s expressed anger that Turkey’s NATO allies refuse to extradite military personnel seeking asylum in countries across the alliance, from the United States to Belgium.

    PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkey (through translator): Belgium is now an important center for militants. While important things happen, while our mosques are set on fire, nobody seems to care. Instead of saying thank you to my state, which put down the attempted coup in my country, you are standing by the plotters. The mutineers are already in your country.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Turkey’s President Erdogan has been ramping up the rhetoric in relation to the military personnel accused of complicity in the coup and seeking asylum in NATO countries.

    Erdogan has said it is simply inexcusable to give shelter to people he calls terrorist soldiers. Despite international concerns about Turkey’s attitude towards human rights, NATO has been at pains not to upset Turkey and its unpredictable president. Such is its strategic importance.

    At a recent news conference, the NATO secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, expressed solidarity with Turkey.

    JENS STOLTENBERG, Secretary-General, NATO: It was shocking to visit the National Assembly in Ankara, where I saw the damage caused by bombs from F-16s. And, of course, Turkey has the right to prosecute those behind the failed coup attempt.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: And Stoltenberg avoided taking sides over the extradition question.

    JENS STOLTENBERG: Regarding the Turkish officers, it is up to the nations to assess and to make decisions on requests for asylum. That’s not a NATO decision.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: It’s estimated that 70,000 people have been arrested in what critics describe as a post-coup purge. As a result, hundreds of Turkish officers serving in NATO countries have defied orders to return and have sought asylum.

    The highest-ranking asylum seeker to go public was stationed at the giant Ramstein Base in Germany. He is air force Brigadier Mehmet Yalinalp.

    MEHMET YALINALP, Accused Turkish Air Force General: What I see is, the number of people who have this common denominator, like having firm belief in Ataturk’s founding principles of our state, democracy, freedom of speech, openness, integration with the West in values, of course, have been pulled into a list of purge, and they are pushed away from the government.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: Vice President Joe Biden tasted Erdogan’s anger during a visit to Ankara in August, when he was urged to extradite Fethullah Gulen, the man Turkey’s president blames for the coup.

    PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN (through translator): According to the extradition of criminals treaty between the two countries, people like Gulen would be at least taken under custody, arrested and remain under arrest throughout the trial. This person continues to manage this terrorist organization from where he is.

    VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: We are determined to listen to every scrap of evidence that Turkey can provide or that we can find out about. But, again, I say to the people of Turkey, what possible motive could we have to in fact harbor a terrorist?

    MALCOLM BRABANT: But of all the NATO countries resisting Turkey’s will, it is Greece that is facing greatest pressure in a region popular with European vacationers.

    Turkish mainland resorts like Bodrum are just five miles or so from the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. Greek airspace above the islands is frequently breached by Turkish warplanes probing defenses and testing Athens’ resolve.

    Greece and Turkey almost went to war 20 years ago over a small uninhabited islet called Imia, which is not very far away from here. Military analysts say that the hostile atmosphere that prevailed then has returned since President Erdogan announced that he’s not happy with the Treaty of Lausanne, which defines Greek and Turkish territory.

    That treaty was signed in 1923. And so, for almost a century, it has been the guarantor of peaceful, if antagonistic, coexistence. But there are genuine fears here that these islands are about to become less tranquil.

    Military analyst Athanasios Drougas is concerned that disputes over the Turkish soldiers and territory in the eastern Aegean Sea could whip up into a perfect storm.

    ATHANASIOS DROUGAS, Military Analyst: We would probably see, as a scenario, Turks to be on a Greek island or some rocks in the Aegean Sea. I’m talking about skirmishes, not, of course, a total war, because, as you know, Greece and Turkey are members of NATO, and then we will have American or NATO diplomatic intervention.

    MALCOLM BRABANT: NATO warships are currently patrolling the Aegean to discourage migrants from attempting to reach the Greek islands. Following a turbulent 2016, and a potentially dangerous 2017, the last thing NATO wants is serious trouble between so-called allies.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Malcolm Brabant in Greece.

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    Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan participates in a session at the third annual Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington, U.S., September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron - RTX2OPCO

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now we begin a series of conversations with top officials in the Obama administration, as its eight years in office come to a close.

    John Brennan has served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency since March of 2013. It’s an agency he knew well before his tenure as director. He was a station chief overseas, and an analyst and executive in the agency for 25 years.

    I began our conversation by asking about the status of the intelligence community’s report on Russia’s hacking of the election.

    JOHN BRENNAN, Director, Central Intelligence Agency: The report is in its final throes of production. And so the report will be shared with the president, who ordered up this comprehensive review, within days.

    And the DNI, Jim Clapper, is the one who is leading this effort on behalf of the intelligence community. And so it’s been a very, very rigorous and diligent review to make sure that we have full appreciation of all the intelligence that’s relevant.

    And I think that the story in there, the intelligence in there will be exactly what the president asked for, a comprehensive and thorough review about what happened during our recent election and Russian involvement.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Will it prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Russian officials were trying to interfere with the U.S. election?

    JOHN BRENNAN: Well, I think, as Jim Clapper and Jeh Johnson said as early as December, that there was clear evidence that the Russians were interfering in the election.

    And so I’m not going to reveal the contents of that report, because it is still under seal, and it will be provided to the president and to others, as appropriate. But it will address what Russia was doing, how it was doing it, and how we know that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I ask because, as you know, there are many doubters out there.

    One of your former predecessors, one of your predecessors at the CIA, Jim Woolsey, said in an interview just this morning that it wasn’t just the Russians. He said there were other countries likely involved. He mentioned China, Iran. Are you convinced it was just Russia?

    JOHN BRENNAN: Well, we know that a number of countries are involved in the digital domain and doing things in terms of collecting information and exposing information.

    But this report focuses on what Russia specifically did in the election. And so I think that the intelligence carries the analysis and the assessments in it. And I will leave it to the president and others to then make decisions about how that report is going to be handled, and what information will be shared and with whom.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Are you ruling out hacking by other countries?

    JOHN BRENNAN: There is a lot of activity that is out there, but one of the things that we want to make sure we understand is what might some of our adversaries be doing to disrupt one of the foundation tenets of our democracy, which is our presidential election?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But let me — I want to continue with the doubters, because Donald Trump himself has been questioning this, saying, how do you know it’s the Russians? He’s pointed to the fact — in fact, he said a number of times now that the CIA has been wrong before. He keeps referring to the allegations that there were weapons…


    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, Iraq weapons of mass destruction, which was wrong.

    JOHN BRENNAN: Right.

    And in the aftermath of that, there was a total review of the review process and the analytic process and the assessments that are done within the intelligence community, with a number of steps that were taken to make sure that we are going to be as accurate as possible. And so it’s been light-years since that Iraq WMD report has been done.

    And there has been tremendous, I think, further development of our analytic capabilities, as well as our intelligence collection capabilities. There is no intelligence community worldwide that has the capabilities, the expertise, the analytic capability as the U.S. intelligence community.

    And so I would suggest to individuals who have not yet seen the report, who have not yet been briefed on it that they wait and see what it is that the intelligence community is putting forward before they make those judgments.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you were telling me that President-elect Trump will see this report before the public does.

    JOHN BRENNAN: The president-elect will be entitled to receiving briefings, the report itself, if President Obama says that that’s what should happen.

    But, absolutely, as the incoming administration and the incoming president, he will be entitled to the full report.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about WikiLeaks.

    The organization that produced these leaks about the Democrats in this in this — in the election, founded by Julian Assange, he told me in an interview last fall, he reiterated just in the last couple of days that WikiLeaks didn’t get this information from the Russians or from any state actor. So, how does that square with what you’re saying?

    JOHN BRENNAN: Well, he’s not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity.

    And so, therefore, I wouldn’t ascribe to any of these individual making comments that it is providing the whole, unvarnished truth. Again, this report is going to include what it is that we know about what happened, what was collected, what was disclosed, and what the purpose and intent of that effort was.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Will it make clear what the connection was between the Russians and WikiLeaks, how WikiLeaks got it?

    JOHN BRENNAN: Again, I’m not going to get ahead of this report coming out. These are things that will be addressed and are addressed in the report.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The intelligence community, officials in the intelligence community have told reporters that it wasn’t just the Democrats. It was the Republicans. Republican National Committee was also hacked. Was it? And, if so, why wasn’t that material leaked?

    JOHN BRENNAN: Again, I am not going to get ahead of the release of this report to the president and to others.

    But there is active collection that goes on in that cyber-realm by a number of our adversaries and a number of countries. And so I don’t think one should think that certain elements or entities are protected from that type of collection. But there’s collection and then there’s also disclosure.

    And so what it is that we do is try to find out what people are doing, who is responsible for it, and what their intention is, and how they’re seeking to use it to advantage themselves and to disadvantage U.S. national security.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think the motive of the Russians was to help Donald Trump?

    JOHN BRENNAN: Again, that’s one of the things that will be addressed inside the report. I’m not going to address that in advance of its release.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And if I ask you about whether the Trump campaign was hacked, the answer would be?

    JOHN BRENNAN: I would say that’s a question to ask the Trump campaign, and those agencies that are responsible for domestic intelligence and homeland security.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what about Trump businesses since he became a prominent candidate for president?

    JOHN BRENNAN: Again, that is something for others, not for the CIA director to address.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, I ask because people are pointing out the fact that there are buildings with Trump on them, the Trump label on them, located all over the world.

    Are those buildings now a target because Donald Trump is the next president?

    JOHN BRENNAN: Well, I think there are a lot of identifiers of the United States and the U.S. government, some that are very iconic.

    And I think the Trump name is something that is associated more and more today because he’s been elected our president that identifies with the United States, the United States government.

    So, it’s one of the things that I think those responsible for security of those facilities, as well as for the systems and networks, need to take into account, that, in this day and age where there are so many ways to damage buildings, infrastructure, systems and networks, they need on put in place the appropriate safeguards to protect themselves from these types of attacks, whether they be kinetic attacks or cyber-attacks.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it the CIA’s or the intelligence community’s fault that this happened, or is it the individual political organizations that were hacked? Is it their responsibility?

    JOHN BRENNAN: Well, I think there are so many ways to get into the digital domain right now and to collect information.

    And that’s one of the things that I really hope that the next administration picks up on what the Obama administration did, was to try to better secure our digital environments. And it’s one of the things we as a country, I don’t think, have come to terms with, just how vulnerable we are to these types of attacks from adversaries, whether it’s to collect information, personal identifying information, or it’s to bring down infrastructure, or to prevent our military services from carrying out their duties.

    So, this is something that I think is going to be sort of the wave of the future in terms of what it is that we as a country need to do in order to protect ourselves, our future, our prosperity.

    And that environment right now still is very vulnerable to nation states, to organizations, to hacktivists, to individuals who have the talent and the capability to navigate inside of systems and networks and disable or destroy them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But my question is, should the intelligence community have prevented this, have seen it coming and stopped it?

    JOHN BRENNAN: The intelligence community has a responsibility to provide our policy-makers, as well as officials with law enforcement, homeland security responsibilities, the best intelligence we have about what adversaries’ capabilities and intents are.

    And that’s what we do. We try to make sure they understand what types of attacks we could be seeing in the cyber-realm, what they might be trying to accomplish, under what scenarios might they be able — might they leverage those capabilities.

    A lot of countries have the ability to do damage in that cyber-domain. They decide not to do it because they know that there would be steps taken against them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: My question, though, still is, was it the intelligence community’s responsibility to prevent this from happening?

    JOHN BRENNAN: No, not the intelligence community’s responsibility.

    We share responsibility with the rest of the government. But it’s not just the government that has responsibility. We’re talking about a digital environment that is 85 percent owned by the private sector, owned and operated by the private sector. So, the government’s ability to protect that system from those penetrations is limited.

    That’s why there needs to be a national consensus on what the role of the government is going to be, the law enforcement community, what the FBI is supposed to be doing. We have seen these battles raging about what the bureau is able to do with the various devices and with this unbreakable encryption.

    Well, we need to come to terms with this reality that, in the 21st century, these systems are going to be used to advance the human condition, but they’re also going to be used by our adversaries, whether they be terrorists, proliferators, pedophiles, or others. And what are we going to allow the government to do to protect those systems?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Did the CIA, did the intelligence community underestimate Vladimir Putin?

    JOHN BRENNAN: Underestimate? No, I think we always felt as though he was somebody who had a very assertive and aggressive strain.

    We see what he’s done in places like Crimea and Ukraine and in Syria. He tends to flex muscles, not just on himself, but also in terms of Russia’s military capabilities. He plays by his own rules in terms of what it is that he does in some of these theaters of conflict.

    So I don’t think we underestimated him. He has sought to advance Russia’s interests in areas where there have been political vacuums and conflicts. But he doesn’t ascribe to the same types of rules that we do, for example, in law of armed conflict.

    What the Russians have done in Syria in terms of some of the scorched-earth policy that they have pursued that have led to devastation and thousands upon thousands of innocent deaths, that’s not something that the United States would ever do in any of these military conflicts.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Did the United States, did the intelligence community miss the fact that Russia was going to get involved in Syria? That wasn’t known ahead of time.

    JOHN BRENNAN: Oh, well, it was.

    Russia has had a 50-, 60-year investment in Syria. They have had military bases there, military advisers and facilities. They ratcheted up the support to the Bashar Assad regime, as the opposition gained strength and as the Syrian regime continued to be degraded by the opposition forces.

    So, we could see the Russians were not going to abandon a long-term ally. They were going to invest more in protecting that ally. There have been negotiations going on to try to get the Russians and others to understand that Bashar Assad is part of the problem. He’s not part of the solution.

    But they decided to double down and to bring in their latest weaponry, both in terms of fixed and rotor-wing aircraft, tanks, APCs, other types of things. So they have a major investment in Syria. And the opposition was — as good as they were putting up a fight against the regime, they were fighting the Syrians. They were fighting the Iranians. They have been fighting Hezbollah, as well as the Russian military.

    So the odds were stacked against them. But the Russians decided that they were not going to allow the Free Syrian Army, the opposition, that have legitimate grievances against the Assad regime to prevail. Unfortunately, the Russians painted the entire opposition as terrorists.

    And that’s why they undertook this very bold, and, in my mind, in many respects, reckless military action to mow down so many Syrians.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But could the situation in Syria have been better by any degree had the U.S. gotten more involved?

    JOHN BRENNAN: You know, 20/20 hindsight is quite — you know, it’s illuminating, looking at it in the rear-view mirror in terms of what could have happened, based on the things that did happen.

    There has been an unfortunate turn of events over the last several years. When the Syrian revolution started, the Arab spring, there was no such thing as ISIL. ISIL was al-Qaida in Iraq and it was just less than 1,000 individuals. There was a wave then of developments inside of Syria and Iraq that resulted in current-day Syria.

    No one could have envisioned that, in terms of the series of events that took place. So, do we lament what has happened in Syria? Absolutely. If we had a chance to do it over again, would there have been some adjustments and changes? I can’t speak for policy-makers. I’m not a policy-maker.

    But when I look back, in light of the way things evolved, I think that there could have been some adjustments to some of the policies, not just by the United States, but by other countries, in order to address this question earlier or, and not allow the ISILs and the Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaidas to gain momentum and steam and taking advantage of the destruction of that country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, not getting involved turns out to be something that’s regretted?

    JOHN BRENNAN: Well, I think the way that the situation unfolded was — is regrettable.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: CIA Director John Brennan.

    Tune in tomorrow night for part two of our conversation, where we look ahead to the U.S. relationship with Russia in the Trump administration.

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    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump delivered brief remarks to reporters at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. December 28, 2016.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX2WSA8

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    ALISON STEWART: In the day’s other news: President-elect Trump criticized General Motors for building compact cars in Mexico, on the same day Ford announced plans of its own to invest in a plant in the U.S.

    In a tweet aimed at GM, Mr. Trump warned — quote — “Make in USA or pay big border tax.”

    The company responded with a statement that only a tiny fraction of its Chevy Cruze compacts are made in Mexico.

    In the past, Mr. Trump had criticized Ford’s plans to build its Focus small car in Mexico. Today, Ford shifted gears, with its CEO pointing to the new administration.

    MARK FIELDS, CEO, Ford Motor Company: We’re also encouraged by the pro-growth policies that President-elect Trump and the new Congress have indicated that they will pursue. And we believe these tax and regulatory reforms are critically important to boost U.S. competitiveness and of course drive a resurgence in American manufacturing and high-tech innovation.

    ALISON STEWART: Ford now plans to invest $700 million in an existing Michigan plant that has been making the Focus. We will take a closer look at all of this later in the program.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, the president-elect tapped
    Robert Lighthizer as his nominee for U.S. trade representative. Lighthizer served as a deputy in that office during the Reagan administration and has called for a heavy tariff on imported goods from China.

    In a statement, the president-elect said Lighthizer will fight for — quote — “good trade deals that put the American worker first.”

    ALISON STEWART: In Turkey, police spent another day hunting for the suspect in that deadly new years attack on an Istanbul club.

    Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News has the latest.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN: It was a new year countdown to a massacre; 75 minutes later, a gunman opened fire here, killing 39 people and injuring 69 others.

    Turkish media claimed this is the chief suspect filming himself in the center of Istanbul — we don’t know when — although most reporting, including this, is based on government leaks, and some of it has turned out to be false.

    Two foreign nationals have been arrested at Istanbul’s main airport in connection with the attack. Sixteen people have been detained in all. The authorities said yesterday they’re close to identifying the gunman. Today, officials were silent on that.

    There was only one policeman on duty outside one of Istanbul’s most famous nightclubs, even though tens of thousands of extra police were supposedly deployed in the city on New Year’s Eve.

    This evening, hundreds joined a protest against the violence, and Turkey’s main opposition leader called on the government to resign. People are frightened of criticizing President Erdogan’s increasingly repressive administration, though some Turks now are.

    MAN (through translator): The only way to get over this kind of situation is to bring more democracy and freedom and peace and more secular institutions.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN: And after the latest terrorist attack, this is an even more febrile, volatile, and divided country, in the thrall of a government promising security, but failing to deliver it.

    ALISON STEWART: The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the nightclub attack.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Doubts are rising about the cease-fire in Syria, as government forces press an offensive outside Damascus. The rebel-held Barada Valley controls the water supply for millions of people in and around the capital. The government says it’s targeting members of an al-Qaida affiliate who are not part of the cease-fire.

    ALISON STEWART: Here in this country, cleanup crews are working across the Deep South after a night of killer storms. Four people died when a possible tornado knocked a tree onto their mobile home in Rehobeth, Alabama. And, in Florida, a man drowned in floodwater.

    The line of severe thunderstorms brought heavy flooding rains and multiple reports of tornado sightings. Alabama, Georgia and the Florida Panhandle were the worst hit.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It turns out investigators have found no evidence that Russian hackers attacked an electrical utility in Vermont. The Washington Post reports that malware found on a laptop doesn’t appear connected to the Russian hacking operation known as Grizzly Steppe. Initial reports last week raised fears the Russians could be trying to penetrate the country’s electric grid.

    ALISON STEWART: And the new year got off to a good start on Wall Street, with a boost from tech and health care stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 119 points to close at 19881. The Nasdaq rose nearly 46 points, and the S&P 500 added 19.

    The post News Wrap: Veteran of Reagan administration tapped for trade representative appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are sworn in on the House floor on the first day of the new session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX2XEY6

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening, and happy new year.

    We’re going to be having some guests joining me here at the “NewsHour” anchor desk in the coming weeks.

    Tonight, it’s Alison Stewart, who many of you will recognize from the weekend “NewsHour.”

    Welcome, Alison.

    ALISON STEWART: Well, thank you, Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, in our lead story tonight: The 115th Congress is officially off and running, but House Republicans stumbled out of the gate on this opening day.

    Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.

    LISA DESJARDINS: For Republicans, day one of Congress and what they hope is a bright now era for their party started with old issues of internal dispute.

    House Republicans overnight rebelled against Paul Ryan and other leaders to try and change a House ethics panel. Then, this morning, they reversed course. The proposed change was about the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, or OCE, which reviews accusations. It cannot punish members itself, but it can refer cases to the House Ethics Committee.

    The proposed revision would have changed the office’s name to Complaint Review and, more notably, would have stripped its independence, putting it under the control of the House Ethics Committee.

    Today, some, like Iowa’s Steve King, were dismayed that the measure was pulled.

    REP. STEVE KING (R-Iowa): I think we should have gone forward. And I’m going to push for the full disbandment and abolishment of the OCE, because they’re based upon the wrong principles. And no one should have to be subjected to public criticism that’s generated by anonymous accusers.

    LISA DESJARDINS: But more Republicans, like outgoing Ethics Committee Chairman Charlie Dent, said the change would have been a mistake.

    REP. CHARLIE DENT (R-Penn.): I thought it wasn’t the right way to proceed.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Perhaps no coincidence, also saying it was a mistake was President-elect Trump, who asked on Twitter if the change should be a priority.

    And House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed Republicans, writing that the move showed clear contempt for ethics. It all led to rare tension on what is usually a happily bipartisan day with members’ families.

    During the roll call vote for speaker, some Democrats pointedly mentioned the need for strong ethics, sparking boos from Republicans.


    REP. NANCY PELOSI, Minority Leader: Paul Ryan.


    LISA DESJARDINS: But now beginning his first full term as speaker, Paul Ryan spoke not to dissatisfied members, but to dissatisfied voters.

    REP. PAUL RYAN, Speaker of the House: So, I want to say to the American people, we hear you. We will do right by you. And we will deliver.

    LISA DESJARDINS: In the Senate, there was less political theater, but more signs of serious battles ahead, as new Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took on the mantle of a key opposition voice to President-elect Trump on Obamacare repeal.

    SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, Minority Leader: Mr. President-elect, what is your plan to make sure all Americans can get affordable health care?

    LISA DESJARDINS: And a big day today, but an even bigger day tomorrow up here, when President Obama and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will both be here to talk to their various parties about Obamacare — Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa, what does this split among Republicans over the ethics office tell us about what’s coming up ahead?

    LISA DESJARDINS: I think it has very serious implications.

    Republicans have long had problems with issues of rules and procedures, and those continue. There is a lot of unhappiness with the conference. But I think the bigger point here is that they remain a divided conference on some serious issues.

    And one big one is coming up in which no one in America has really the clear direction yet, which is, how do you replace Obamacare? So the House caucus with the Republicans is having trouble with this Office of Congressional Ethics, which they have been talking about for years amongst themselves. It raises questions about how they will form a plan to replace Obamacare in the next year, if that is possible.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, we heard Speaker Ryan say, among other things, “We hear you,” talking to the voters. And, in fact, it was some voters who were weighing in today that had something to do with this ethics outcome, didn’t it?

    LISA DESJARDINS: It’s such a good point. I think that what we’re seeing here is, while voters are watching President Trump, they’re also very closely watching this Congress.

    And it’s clear that voters don’t yet trust Republicans here in Congress fully, and they’re watching carefully. They reacted very quickly, overwhelming phone calls here at the Capitol. I talked to a dozen members of Congress who said, Republicans and Democrats, that their phone lines were clogged, and it was about that ethics change.

    I talked to a House operator who told me it was just a mess, all those calls coming in. And, Judy, what’s amazing, that change happened late last night. Voters got up and made those phone calls right away.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Lisa, we also heard a little bit there from Chuck Schumer, the incoming Democratic leader in the Senate. What is the opposition strategy as of now?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Right. Call him maybe the opposition in chief. Democrats have lot of recovery to do. It’s not clear who will be their leading voice, but right now Chuck Schumer seems to be it.

    I’m not sure what their strategy is yet. Today, they tried out one, which is to question how Donald Trump operates. In his speech today, Chuck assumer said it’s irresponsible the way that Donald Trump makes decisions. He pointed to his tweets.

    That’s something we have heard before, Judy. But hearing that, I thought, well, I’m not sure that Trump voters, that really hits where they are about Donald Trump. So, I think we’re going to see a lot of different attempts at answering Donald Trump. I’m not sure Democrats have figured out how to do it quite yet, but Chuck Schumer is the man to watch.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In just a few seconds, Lisa, what’s the word on Republican plans on Obamacare?


    Watch in the next couple of days, especially tomorrow morning, Judy, when President Obama tries to rally his Democrat and Vice President-elect Mike Pence tries to rally his Republicans. It’s a several-step process we’re going to be talking about for weeks.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Lisa Desjardins is going to be right up there reporting. Thank you, Lisa.

    LISA DESJARDINS: My pleasure.

    The post First day of new Congress reveals GOP divisions over ethics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A general exterior view of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) headquarters in Washington, June 24, 2011. The database is emerging alongside a new program by the FBI's criminal profiling group in Quantico, Virginia, that is creating a series of behavioral composites to help agents investigate white collar crime. The more systematic approach by the SEC and FBI comes in response to the growth and complexity of financial crimes in recent years. Picture taken June 24, 2011. To match Special Report SEC/INVESTIGATIONS REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTR2PCBJ

    A general exterior view of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) headquarters in Washington, D.C., on June 24, 2011. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday chose a Wall Street attorney with experience in corporate mergers and public stock launches as his nominee to head the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Trump announced his nomination of Jay Clayton, a partner in the law firm Sullivan and Cromwell, as chairman of the independent agency that oversees Wall Street and the financial markets. If confirmed by the Senate, his responsibilities will include enforcing the scores of rules already written by the agency under the 2010 law that reshaped financial regulation after the 2008-09 crisis.

    The law, known as Dodd-Frank, has long been scorned by Republicans and is high on Trump’s target list.

    Clayton has worked on many of the securities deals that the SEC regulates and has represented Wall Street powerhouses including Goldman Sachs and Barclays.

    Clayton is the latest Trump choice with Wall Street connections. His nominee for Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is a former Goldman executive. Trump also has tapped current Goldman President Gary Cohn to be his top economic adviser and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to head the Commerce Department.

    Clayton would succeed Mary Jo White, a former federal prosecutor who also had worked as a corporate attorney before being named SEC chair by President Barack Obama.

    Trump will be able to put an even broader stamp on the SEC. In addition to Clayton, he’ll have a chance to name two of the other four commissioners. The five-member body has been down two since December 2015. Two candidates nominated by President Barack Obama to fill vacancies, one Democrat and one Republican, have been stalled in Congress over whether they support requiring publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending.

    The complex Dodd-Frank legislation didn’t offer quick remedies; it laid down prescriptions for regulators to flesh out. The SEC was responsible for writing a large chunk of the nearly 400 required rules. Overall, federal regulators have completed about 70 percent of the rules more than six years after Dodd-Frank became law.

    With Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of Congress, a major overhaul of the law is expected, if not an outright dismantling.

    “We will carefully monitor our financial sector, as we set policy that encourages American companies to do what they do best: create jobs,” Clayton said in a statement.

    In announcing the appointment, Trump’s transition team said Clayton will encourage investment, “while providing strong oversight of Wall Street and related industries.”

    “Robust accountability will be a hallmark of his tenure atop the SEC, and the financial security of the American people will be his top priority,” the statement said.

    The post Trump names Wall Street lawyer Clayton as SEC chairman appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    President-elect Donald Trump speaks briefly to reporters between meetings at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, on Dec. 28, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    President-elect Donald Trump speaks briefly to reporters between meetings at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, on Dec. 28, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    After winning the election, President-elect Donald Trump’s favorability rating rose. (In Gallup polling, it jumped to 42 percent from 34 percent the week before Nov. 8). But on Monday, Gallup data indicates Mr. Trump may not be gaining ground yet when it comes to voter confidence and that he faces a gap compared to the expectations that faced his two predecessors.

    Less than half, 44 percent, believe that PEOTUS will prevent major scandals in his administration. Asked the same question in 2008 and 2000, more than 70 percent of Americans felt incoming Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush would avoid scandal.

    Trump campaigned strongly on protecting America, including destroying ISIS and defeating terrorism. But again less than half — 46 percent of survey respondents — believe he will be able to handle an international crisis.

    In what areas are Americans confident in the president-elect? Americans have the highest confidence, 60 percent, in Trump’s ability to work effectively with Congress. That still trails Presidents Obama and George W. Bush.

    But it could touch on a potential positive for the incoming new world leader. Expectations are moderate to low. Especially when compared to Bush and Obama, who entered the White House with voters feeling far more confident in their abilities, but who both saw favorability ratings drop notably their second and third years in office.

    The post Presidential popularity, and how Trump stacks up appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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