Articles on this Page
- 01/06/17--15:03: _Column: Is the star...
- 01/06/17--15:20: _The failure cycle c...
- 01/06/17--15:25: _Can the seafood ind...
- 01/06/17--15:30: _Shields and Brooks ...
- 01/06/17--15:35: _Kerry: Syrian confl...
- 01/06/17--15:40: _Colossal iceberg po...
- 01/06/17--15:40: _Rep. Schiff weighs ...
- 01/06/17--15:45: _News Wrap: Congress...
- 01/06/17--15:50: _What we know about ...
- 01/06/17--16:11: _Trump says he ‘lear...
- 01/07/17--04:35: _China’s ivory ban o...
- 01/07/17--06:25: _State election syst...
- 01/07/17--07:14: _From vibrating pill...
- 01/07/17--07:55: _Trump names former ...
- 01/07/17--09:08: _‘We, as a people, s...
- 01/07/17--09:09: _Airport shooting su...
- 01/07/17--10:48: _Ethics agency has ‘...
- 01/07/17--11:16: _Ivory Coast governm...
- 01/07/17--11:59: _California inmate r...
- 01/07/17--12:43: _Kentucky’s Medicaid...
- 01/06/17--15:20: The failure cycle causing a shortage of black male teachers
- 01/06/17--15:25: Can the seafood industry get Americans to eat local fish?
- 01/06/17--15:40: Colossal iceberg poised to snap off Antarctic ice shelf
- 01/06/17--15:45: News Wrap: Congress certifies election of Donald Trump
- 01/06/17--15:50: What we know about the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting
- 01/06/17--16:11: Trump says he ‘learned a lot’ from intel meeting
- 01/07/17--04:35: China’s ivory ban opens questions about its massive legal stockpiles
- 01/07/17--06:25: State election systems to get more federal aid for security
- 01/07/17--07:55: Trump names former Sen. Dan Coats intelligence chief
- 01/07/17--11:16: Ivory Coast government, military agree to end two-day revolt
- 01/07/17--11:59: California inmate receives state-funded sex-reassignment surgery
- 01/07/17--12:43: Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion under ACA could soon change
I downloaded the Nike mobile phone app three summers ago to answer two simple questions: do I run more miles when I play soccer than my friends and family do when jogging? Do I run as much as a professional soccer player? (Most often, the answer is “yes” in the first instance, but still a mile away, on average, for the second.)
Therefore, like millions of people, I am able to self-quantify my physical activity. According to Nike, I am worth 1,703 NikeFuel on average.
These apps and other wearables such as Fitbit have been quite successful (if not always accurate) in measuring movement and activity in each of us. But what about measuring our social performance and aspiration?
Enter Adzuna, a job-hunting start-up based in “leafy South-West London in the UK.”
So far, most job hunting sites simply ask an applicant to upload a resume and then allow both applicants and recruiters to find the ideal match through searching for keywords. Making Sen$e “Ask the Headhunter” Nick Corcodilos has reported skeptically on the value of such sites.
Adzuna, on the other hand, evaluates your resume in seconds and comes up with a single number: that of your expected salary. That’s right, your expected salary. This is calculated by Adzuna’s algorithm which, according to the company’s website, compares the content of your resume against 50,000 resumes in their database.
This and other features not only allow quantification, but also the gamification of the job-search process.
By uploading several versions of your resume, you can identify which skills are most desirable by potential employers. For instance, adding “Excel” or “MBA” will give you hints as to the competencies that might be worth obtaining. Short of doing this, Adzuna will give you basic feedback on how to improve your resume. (You can see how much each spelling mistake may cost you.)
Similarly, you can upload your resume and immediately test how it is valued in different cities. You can then contrast this with the cost of living in that city and make a judgement as to whether you can afford to live and work there.
There is also an implicit leader board aspect. If you feel you are currently being underappreciated, there is a button that allows you to send a standard email to your boss which ends with, “When can we have a chat about this?” In addition, you can compare and contrast your potential against that of friends and colleagues.
Of course, there is room for improvement. Adzuna is clever enough to recognize gaps in your employment history, but clever enough to determine that these gaps may be due to your taking time to pursue a Master’s degree, say.
But Adzuna and its future competitors will have access to more data and more refined algorithms. The larger point for us consumers is that this kind of software will allow anyone to take a good guess at anyone else’s salary, simply by copying a colleague’s LinkedIn profile and feeding it to the algorithm, for example.
A 2014 “Planet Money” episode discussed the pros and cons of revealing the salaries of all employees in a given company. The episode assumed it would be done voluntarily within the company but not beyond.
We are, however, facing the prospect of making this one number, the salary, transparent and accessible to all. Technology tends not to care whether something is desirable for society and individuals. Technology happens, it spreads, and then ethics, laws and mores are forced to catch-up. (Remember Napster?)
Now extrapolate a little further. Increasingly transparent access to someone else’s data may mean that each of us will be assessed and judged by just a few numbers. Dating apps might well include your NikeFuel number (because you shared it on Facebook) or your earning potential. These two numbers may in turn be averaged into one after weights have been assigned, say 30 percent for physical performance and 70 percent for career value.
In a Ted Talk and here on the NewsHour, author Dan Pink highlighted autonomy, mastery and purpose as intrinsic motivators. Best case scenario: gamification and the quantified self offer a new path to mastery and purpose. Worst case? Big Sibling will be watching.
The post Column: Is the startup that calculates your expected salary gamification or Big Brother? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally: Professor Christopher Emdin teaches at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
He explains why there are so few African-American males teaching our children in tonight’s In My Humble Opinion.
CHRISTOPHER EMDIN, Columbia University Teachers College: So, when “NewsHour” asked me to write and deliver this essay about why there are so few black male teachers, I was excited. I agreed.
But I then realized that I needed to discuss this issue by presenting it in a way that kind of exemplifies the problem.
And the problem is that no one’s really listening. So, for this essay, you’re going to have to listen, but do so in a little bit of a different way.
See, like some other black cultural values and modes of expression that black male teachers and their students share and have in common, hip-hop is demonized by the public, and then it is devalued in schools.
So, whether we’re talking about dance, dress, slang, entertainment, we have these forms of culture that need to be accepted, with some limits, of course, in schools. And we do that to engage students and then to retain teachers.
When they are not accepted, students underperform, teachers get frustrated, and then they leave.
See, black youth drop out, get suspended at higher rates. Schools react about that fact, so they hire a black face. Black male went through hell, dodged a cell, got a degree. School is excited he got hired. They gave him some mentees.
Now, these mentees breeze through P.E. with ease, but at best see C’s if the course talks degrees or ratio, proportions, because math is boring, the language is anguish. They languish in their performance. Frustrated, they updated their thug image, stuck in the sewage cultural irrelevance created.
Poor instruction, boring structures. Then I’m called in to rupture. And I’m overwhelmed.
Yes, I’m black. And the kids are black, too, but what I know is right to do means breaking the school’s rules. So we leave the profession in every major city, 40 percent in Chicago, 19 in Philly, really. We can’t stand being the teachers that we hated, but they made us suspend them and punish them with bad grades.
The school system is more diverse than ever, but I never see myself amongst the faculty. And whether I do or not doesn’t make much of a difference if you hire me, retire me, and do not change the system.
Listen, like 50 percent of public school students of color, right? Eighty-two percent of those teachers are, the other, white. Less than 2 percent of those who teach are black males. One in 15 of those same males end up in jail.
Schools criminalize, and society despises us. For the black male teacher, frustrations rise in us. Now, students respond in anger and hate schools. Then the teachers respond and start tightening up the rules.
Test prep begets yet even more frustration. I prep them for a test they detest, so they fail it. Then I get blamed and nailed to the cross, as if I’m the cause of it. So, of course, I feel I’m forced to quit.
The source of this often sits at the precipice of pessimists who get to spit a less legit hypothesis about my grit, when it’s obvious that I am forced to fit in a system.
So, I quit.
The post The failure cycle causing a shortage of black male teachers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now the latest story in our series about food in America, a collaboration between the “NewsHour” and NPR.
Tonight, our focus is on seafood, and specifically a movement to ensure sustainable seafood. That means fish caught domestically and locally, and not fished to extinction.
Despite the vast expanse of shoreline in this country, more than 90 percent of the seafood Americans eat is imported. Many conservationists, fishermen and foodies are out to change this.
Special correspondent Allison Aubrey of NPR News has the story.
ALLISON AUBREY: Cape Cod, Massachusetts, named for the cod, but that’s not what fisherman Jamie Eldredge is catching today. Cod’s been overfished in these waters. Now he’s laying his lines for a fish that most American’s have never even heard of. It’s called dogfish.
And was it a good catch? How much did you land?
JAMIE ELDREDGE, Fisherman: It’s a daily limit of 6,000 pounds, and probably was just a little shy of it today.
ALLISON AUBREY: That fish ends up here at this processing plant just up the road.
So, this is dogfish here, kind of a long sharky-looking thing?
BRIAN MARDER, Owner, Marder Trawling: Yes. Yes, it is the most plentiful fish we have on the East Coast right now.
ALLISON AUBREY: Owner Brian Marder says the Chatham fishermen will bring in six million pounds of dogfish this year. His operation turns that spiky shark into long white fillets.
Who’s buying this fish?
BRIAN MARDER: This is all being packed for the European export market.
ALLISON AUBREY: I’m told that the French love it. They call it salmonetes.
BRIAN MARDER: Salmonete, yes.
ALLISON AUBREY: Which sounds kind of fancy.
BRIAN MARDER: Yes.
ALLISON AUBREY: Are you telling me that everything being processed here is just going to be shipped out?
BRIAN MARDER: Yes, it is.
ALLISON AUBREY: Ninety-nine percent of it?
BRIAN MARDER: Ninety-nine percent.
ALLISON AUBREY: While all this dogfish is shipping out to Europe, where’s the fish that Americans like to eat coming from? Turns out it’s being flown in from countries around the world, arriving at warehouses like this one we visited.
Santa Monica Seafood is one of the largest distributors on the West Coast. This year, they will distribute 42 million pounds of seafood, much of it imported. Lots of fresh caught seafood going out and tons of seafood coming in from overseas, it’s a swap that plays out across the United States, according to Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly Bio. She’s director of Seafood Watch at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They track and rank environmentally responsible fisheries.
JENNIFER DIANTO KEMMERLY, Monterey Bay Aquarium: Over 90 percent of the seafood we consume in the U.S. is actually caught or farm-raised overseas. And the majority of the seafood that we catch in our U.S. fisheries doesn’t stay here in our local market. It goes to other countries.
ALLISON AUBREY: Does that make sense?
JENNIFER DIANTO KEMMERLY: We’re kind of missing out on the bounty that we actually have here. We’re not celebrating the local fisheries as much as we probably should be.
ALLISON AUBREY: And that bounty is so plentiful, the Environmental Defense Fund has launched a campaign to get Americans eating these lesser-known species from our own coastal waters.
NARRATOR: Eat These Fish is a campaign to celebrate the comeback of America’s fisheries.
ALLISON AUBREY: Like New England’s overfished cod, fisheries around the U.S. were being depleted. After environmentalists sounded alarm bells, Congress passed an act in 2006 that required fisheries to set quotas by 2011.
Now fisheries have rebounded.
Nancy Civetta is with the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. She’s been trying to promote the story of dogfish. She says even with all the demand from Europe, there’s still plenty left here for Americans to eat.
NANCY CIVETTA, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance: There’s so many out there, that we don’t even catch the quota the government allows us.
ALLISON AUBREY: But here’s the challenge.
NANCY CIVETTA: We don’t eat dogfish in this country. We import salmon, tuna and shrimp. We do not eat the food that we’re bringing to shore right here.
ALLISON AUBREY: Civetta says importing most of the fish we eat could have consequences down the line.
NANCY CIVETTA: If we continue to import and buy from other countries, then our fishing industry could wither away. If we’re going to maximize the potential of this fishery, then we need to create markets, so that the fisherman can fish for it, they can better their bottom lines, and we can have a sustainable coastal community.
SEAN DIMIN, Sea to Table: So what they do is they lay down on the bottom of the ocean.
ALLISON AUBREY: Sean Dimin runs a company called Sea to Table that he says is doing just that.
SEAN DIMIN: We come out here to places like Chatham, fishing communities all around America’s coasts, and we figure out how to get the best directly to chefs, universities, distributing directly from the point of catch to the point of consumption. Beautiful photos of the fish that we can now sell directly to people’s homes.
ALLISON AUBREY: Back at Sea to Table’s Brooklyn headquarters, Dimin explains that his operation is a complete departure from the traditional model.
SEAN DIMIN: A big thing that we do is sell fish that fishermen are catching, not necessarily what American consumers and diners think they want. And that’s a big part of what we do is supporting American fishing communities.
MAN: That’s beautiful.
ALLISON AUBREY: And the model aligns perfectly with a big push at university dining halls to source their foods from more local and sustainable sources.
MAN: On the count of three, say dogfish.
ALLISON AUBREY: This group runs the dining halls at the University of Massachusetts. They serve 55,000 meals a day. They have made a commitment to bring this dogfish and other underloved fish back to their campus.
It’s at university dining halls like this one, where thousands of people eat every day, that you might be able to shake things up. These students are used to trying new things, and a lot of them love the novelty of it.
So what’s the appeal here? Why go out of the way to buy dogfish?
BOB BANKERT, Chef, University of Massachusetts: Being in western Massachusetts, we love to support the Massachusetts fisheries, and that it tastes great.
ALLISON AUBREY: University of Massachusetts chef Bob Bankert is grilling dogfish fillets. He’s lathered them in a spicy seasoning to make tacos.
At another food station, the dogfish becomes an Asian flash fry. It’s drizzled with wasabi mayo on top. The students are curious. A display tells them where the dogfish comes from and who caught it.
Selina Fournier is manager of this dining hall.
SELINA FOURNIER, Dining Hall Manager, University of Massachusetts: There’s students that may have never heard of such a fish, and so when they saw the fish here today, and then got to taste it, the whole association really creates that story and bringing it to life, and hopefully creating something exciting that they will want to order even when they’re not at UMass.
ALLISON AUBREY: Is that your hope, that you’re sort of setting a new generation of eating habits here?
SELINA FOURNIER: Definitely. We are setting the standard for the way that these students hopefully continue their health and wellness once they graduate UMass.
WOMAN: Thank you.
ALLISON AUBREY: Ruth Crawford and Ana Yrazusta went for the Asian flash fry.
So, give it a try. Tell us what you think.
ANA YRAZUSTA: Oh, my God.
RUTH CRAWFORD: It’s so good.
ANA YRAZUSTA: Amazing.
ALLISON AUBREY: What’s the biggest appeal to you here?
RUTH CRAWFORD: It’s new, local, fresh, so healthy.
ALLISON AUBREY: Sea to Table already has about 1,000 customers, including dozens of large universities and restaurant chefs. And they’re also planning to roll out direct-to-consumer delivery, so people can get fish delivered right to their front door.
And are you hoping now that, 10 years from now, most Americans know what dogfish is?
JAMIE ELDREDGE: Well, we hope so.
ALLISON AUBREY: Fishermen like Jamie Eldredge are eager to see if companies like Sea to Table can capture the taste buds of the next generation.
I’m Allison Aubrey of NPR News for the “PBS NewsHour” in Chatham, Massachusetts.
The post Can the seafood industry get Americans to eat local fish? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And that brings us to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
Happy new year, gentlemen.
MARK SHIELDS: Happy new year, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good seeing you in 2017.
So, let’s start by talking about this intelligence report.
Mark, the entire intelligence community is behind it. They’re saying without a shadow of a doubt, in so many words, they are confident the Russians tried to interfere in the U.S. election and they developed a clear preference for Donald Trump.
What are we to make of this? Does it change the way we look at this election?
MARK SHIELDS: I don’t know if it changes the way we look at it, Judy. It certainly changes the way we look at the United States’ relationship with Russia, I think, and in this sense, that the intelligence community said it made these findings with high confidence.
Ever since the weapons of mass destruction era and the decision on invading Iraq, the intelligence community has been very, very careful to avoid high confidence. That’s saying, we really believe this to be true. They have been more tentative.
There was no question. They were unequivocal and emphatic. Every American ought to be angry, ought to be concerned that an unfriendly nation, a nation that has cooperated with us certain places, but doesn’t wish us well, sought to sabotage American democracy, American confidence in our own democratic institutions, and to influence the outcome of the election.
That’s a cause of concern and worry and anger. And I would hope that we would respond, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans, to make sure it never happens again.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David, how should Americans look at this?
DAVID BROOKS: I agree with that, with anger, with shock.
We have sort of gotten used to the idea, because of the news leaks before this report. But the idea that Russia felt emboldened and apparently fearless to go into our election and manipulate our own election process, whether successfully or not, is a sign that they are outside the norms of normal society.
There’s always statecraft. There’s always disinformation. But this is a step up, a Russia that feels completely free to do this, a Putin who feels completely free to do this, without fear of penalty, and so far paying little penalty.
Partly, it’s motivated, I think, by animus toward Hillary Clinton, as we heard earlier in the program, things she said in 2011, 2012, partly, frankly, a desire, a belief that feeling Donald Trump will be tougher on ISIS.
But the thing that should most concern us is a shift in American foreign policy. We have had a bipartisan belief in American foreign policy based on the post-World War II institutions that believed in democratic global world, which Russia and the Soviet Union was often seen as hostile to. And most Republicans and Democrats have always basically believed in this world order.
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and maybe Marine Le Pen do not agree with this basic structure of the world. They seem to have no respect for the institutions that were created after World War II, and they see a potential alliance of populists around the world who would fight Islam and restore a certain semblance of traditional values.
And so we could be seeing a pivot in American foreign policy that may be on the mind of Donald Trump, certainly seems to be on the mind of Steve Bannon, his ideologist. And this is a piece of that larger shift.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Mark, Donald Trump, the president-elect, does have his own reaction to this report.
I mean, you know, joining in with what David’s saying, I mean, he started out by calling it a political witch-hunt. And then after he was briefed about it, he said — he made a very short comment and said, in so many words that, well, it didn’t affect the outcome of the election.
MARK SHIELDS: As usual, he takes the big picture. In other words, I won, and anything that in any way diminishes or tarnishes my personal victory, I reject.
His disparagement, make that disdain, openly, for the American intelligence community and its work is damaging to national security. I mean, the intelligence community, for the security of our nation, for the well-being of our nation, for the economic prosperity of our nation, competitiveness, depends on sources in other places.
And other nations depend upon our intelligence. And here we have the president-elect dismissing, disparaging, disdaining openly because it somehow, in his way — his perspective, diminishes his victory, is just astonishing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: David.
DAVID BROOKS: It’s happening on three levels, like, this story.
There is the big strategic level, which I described. Then there’s the Donald Trump ego level. And his ego is like a comet the size of Jupiter just traveling through the solar system, and we all have to be affected by its gravitational pull. So all of American foreign policy has to remind us that Donald Trump really did win this election all by himself, and nobody else could have helped, and so it was all me, me, me.
And that seems to be the center of his views. And then the third is, this is a guy who’s going to be taking over a public office, presidency of the United States. He is going to have a system built around him. He will have employees.
And he, as a public servant, will work with other public servants, presumably the intelligence community. But he seems completely uninterested in being part of this system which our founders set up. And so he seems to still be a lone wolf insulting his future employees.
And, believe me, woe to you who insults the intelligence community, if you’re president. You do not want to get on their bad side, because, A, they leak a lot. B, you actually need them to learn about the world. And he seems to be on purpose alienating the resources he’s going to have to draw upon.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, as we just heard from John Kerry, Mark, the world is a more complicated place than it’s maybe ever been.
He talked about the number of different places that the U.S. now has to worry about its relationship with. And, right now, we’re at this critical point where we’re changing from one administration to the next. It’s always, I guess, a fraught time, but it just seems especially so this time.
MARK SHIELDS: Well, it does, and I think, in part, because of the reasons David announced, observed earlier, that the changing sort of organizing principle of postwar world and the United States. And we know, I think, probably more keenly and more acutely, the limits of our power.
If I could just add one thing to David’s observation earlier. And that is, Judy, I have lived through an awful lot of transitions from an election to inauguration. It is a period during which president-elects follow a pattern. They become more popular. What they do is, they submerge partisanship. They reach across the line. They do all sorts of symbolic things to unite the nation.
This president-elect has done just the opposite. He continued his rallies, apparently for self-gratification. He fired up his true believers. He continued to disparage and belittle his defeated opponent openly.
And toward what end? There’s been no symbolic reach. He’s had interviews, I guess, with Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic senator from North Dakota. But there’s been no sense of any strategic sense of where the country is going or what it’s about.
Here he is tweeting about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ratings on “The Apprentice?”
JUDY WOODRUFF: This morning.
MARK SHIELDS: He’s interfering? He’s making 12 calls into Ohio to defeat John Kasich’s Republican state chairman in the Republican state committee vote.
This is pettiness. And this is — this shows just no largeness of vision. And it’s really distressing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, yesterday, David, in conjunction with this, he tweeted another criticism, I guess, of the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer. He called him the head clown in talking about the way the Democrats are handling Obama.
I did interview the vice president yesterday, who looked right into the camera and said, grow up, Donald.
You know, is that the kind of comment that’s likely to make a difference, do you think?
DAVID BROOKS: The vice president?
JUDY WOODRUFF: The vice president.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I’m sure Donald Trump is growing and maturing as we speak.
You know, I — we have gotten used to analyzing presidential statements in a certain way. Like, what is the policy implications? And we take them all very seriously, because, when a president speaks, as Mark said a couple of weeks ago, that usually means a lot.
But I have come to think we have to treat Donald Trump’s tweets like Snapchat. It’s just something that is going to go away. And it flies out of some region of his brain and it goes out into the ether. And usually it’s on the realm of media.
Even in his tweets of Russia, he was attacking CNN and NBC for their coverage. He’s a media commentator a lot of the time, even with Schwarzenegger. And so it will exist, and it will fill conversation for a moment. And then, like Snapchat, it will just go away.
And so I think, until he can give us something real, it’s sometimes best to just let them go with the wind.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, when he calls Chuck Schumer the head clown, Mark, we just ignore it, or…
MARK SHIELDS: Judy, what does it help? How does it possibly help? He’s going to need Chuck Schumer.
Chuck Schumer is a proud and able and dedicated and skillful leader, and you don’t want him as an opponent. You don’t want him as a sworn adversary. And he’s a formidable figure legislatively. Why do it? It’s gratuitous.
On the Joe Biden interview, of all sad words of tongue and pen, these are the saddest that might have been. We went through an election where we had the two least-liked nominees in the modern history of American polling.
And you could not watch the interview — and I commend you for it last night — with Joe Biden without saying, I like this guy. I mean, he is a thoroughly likable man. And when he says, grow up, I mean, it wasn’t said — there was nothing mean about it. It was just — it was absolutely what a grownup would say.
This was a grownup talking. And the way I thought he talked about Democratic values was missing in the campaign of 2016, sorely to the Democrats’ disadvantage, it was just a — it was a marvelous — I commend it to anybody who missed it for any reason to watch it online.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the things I talked to the vice president about, David, was Obamacare and what the Republicans are going to do about it.
The administration is saying they’re afraid that they can’t make any changes unless they make bad changes to it. What do you see going on with it?
DAVID BROOKS: First, on the interview, I was struck by the way he kept emphasizing the Democrats did not campaign on the dignity of the working class.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
DAVID BROOKS: The policies of the Democratic Party have always been in cultural consonance with the culture of the working class. And, somehow, they missed that. And I thought he was very honest.
But also on the part of the interview — you saw a man who has been in governance, as he said, since he was 27. And when you’re in governance, you understand the limitations and the complexities of governance. It’s hard.
And on Obamacare, I’m not sure the Trump administration has thought in any complex way about how to repeal and replace. Repealing first and then replacing later doesn’t strike me — and a lot of the Republican health care experts I talk to — doesn’t strike them as just a workable thing to do.
You repeal some of the things, like maybe the — some of the premium supports that are in Obamacare, and then you replace it with something later, that seems likely in the short term to create exactly the sort of death spiral and destabilization that we’re all worried about.
And so it seems to me and it seems to a growing number of Republican senators, including Bob Corker and John McCain, that you have got to repeal and replace at the same time. You have to have a plan, or else you’re just creating a recipe for chaos.
And it’s not clear how much either the House leadership or the Trump administration has thought that through how exactly how it’s going to work.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just 10 seconds, Mark. We will be watching.
MARK SHIELDS: What’s the big rush, Judy? What’s the big rush on the health care plan?
It’s been eight years. So they have had a lot of ideas. I mean, Paul Ryan said that. They have got ideas everywhere. They have no idea what they’re going to do. Repeal is low-hanging fruit. They have done it. They have done it 60 times. They will do it 60 more. They have no plan.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark Shields, David Brooks, thank you both.
The post Shields and Brooks on Trump’s ‘disdain’ for the intelligence community appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to my interview with Secretary of State John Kerry.
I sat down with him earlier today at the State Department, before the public release of that intelligence report on Russia.
But I began by asking, now that we have confirmation Russia interfered in the election, does that fundamentally change Washington’s relationship with Moscow?
Secretary of State John Kerry, thank you very much for talking with us.
JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: My pleasure. Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, now that it has been confirmed that the Russians interfered aggressively in the U.S. election, does this represent a fundamental change in the United States’ relationship with Russia?
JOHN KERRY: Well, that remains to be determined.
It certainly represents a major challenge in that relationship. It’s a hostile act. It has serious consequences, and we’re going to have to work that through.
And I say we. I mean the United States, the next administration is going to have to approach Russia very clearly understanding what has happened.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think more needs to be done to retaliate as of now?
JOHN KERRY: Well, I think that President Obama made it clear that we would retaliate at a time of our choosing and ways of our choosing.
And that means some of them, the public will know about, some of them, they will not know about. Obviously, with two weeks left, I think that the administration coming in is going to have to make some judgments of its own about what the next steps will be.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it’s reported the Russians were celebrating the election of Donald Trump. Why would they be celebrating? What do you think?
JOHN KERRY: I’m not going to speculate. I really think it’s too important. And I just am not going to speculate.
I think there has been a lot of news articles. You all have been covering this for some period of time. People are going to draw their own judgments, but I’m not going to add to that speculation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think Vladimir Putin wants? You have been dealing with him for a long time. What do you think he’s after?
JOHN KERRY: Well, he’s after a lot of things.
There are a lot of motivations. He obviously has agreed with us on some things and disagreed with us on others. And we managed to find common ground and work together effectively on the Iran nuclear agreement, where Russia assumed major responsibilities to try to get the agreement done and to make it work.
So I can give you a long list of things where Russia and President Putin have found common ground and worked with the United States. But, on Ukraine, on the implementation of the Minsk agreement, on Syria, we have obviously not been able to find the same kind of common ground, despite good efforts.
And those are problems that are going to continue into the next administration. My hope is the next administration will approach Russia strategically, with a clear purpose of trying to find more common ground, but without giving up on fundamental values and principles that are at the core of the United States’ foreign policy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, are you concerned that that could happen? You have talked with your successor, the designate, Rex Tillerson. Does he have the same view of Russian intentions that you do?
JOHN KERRY: Well, he and I are going to sit down, actually, I think next week, and have an opportunity to really debrief and to go into these subjects.
So, I can’t comment on what his approach is going to be or what he’s thinking at this moment about that. I can tell you that I think there is an opportunity here, still, for President-elect Trump and then President Trump to try to reach out to Russia and see whether or not they can put to test the proposition that we could find things in which we can agree and perhaps on some things on which we’re going to agree to disagree, but, nevertheless, put the world in a better place.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, at this moment, you’re not worried that the incoming administration could be naive?
JOHN KERRY: Well, I have questions, like everybody has questions, Judy.
But I’m not — as secretary of state, it’s inappropriate for me to start speculating publicly or get caught up in the day-to-day back-and-forth. I don’t want to do that. I think it’s inappropriate.
I think there are clear strategic possibilities that, if the new administration pursues correctly, could open up avenues of cooperation and reduce tensions and perhaps put to test whether or not there could be, you know, a more improved day-to-day relationship between us.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Syria. I happened to sit down yesterday with Vice President Biden. I asked him whether that represented a failure for the United States. He said no.
My question to you is, if it’s not a failure, doesn’t it at least, beyond being a humanitarian disaster, represent an enormous missed opportunity for the United States to shape events in that part of the world?
JOHN KERRY: Well, we did shape events to a certain degree.
It is certainly going to be debated whether or not they were shaped enough or whether certain options that might have shaped them differently were taken or not taken.
But I agree with the vice president that the fact that we were not able, which is a disappointment, clearly, to push the parties into a place where they made a different set of choices, that’s disappointing. But I don’t think it represents, you know, some sort of failure on our part.
You can try and try and push people. The old saying, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. And here, we led people to water, the water of peace proposition, the water of Geneva of a process. We laid out through our leadership the International Syria Support Group. We brought Iran to the table. We brought Russia to the table.
We had assurances that Assad would do certain things. He didn’t. He chose not to. So, the Russians failed, actually, to deliver Assad in a way that they said he would.
The Iranians failed to deliver the process that they said they would, because they continued to prop him up in ways that went way beyond the agreement that had been reached in the Geneva agreement to try to come to a political resolution.
So, look, did the whole process fail? Did the international community fail to solve it? Yes, profoundly. But was that a specific failure of the United States? History will debate whether some choices might have been made or not made that might have altered that, but I don’t think it falls exclusively on us that this problem hasn’t been solved.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Are U.S. interests advanced with the way things stand today in Syria?
JOHN KERRY: With the way they stand today?
No, nobody’s interests are served by what’s happening in Syria today. It’s a catastrophe. It’s the worst human catastrophe since World War II. And, as I said just now, it represents a failure of the entire international community to come to grips with solving it. And it’s a tragedy for the people who have been caught in the middle.
But I am proud of what our administration has done, of what we did day to day to try to get a cease-fire in place. I am proud that we are the largest donor of humanitarian assistance for refugees. I am proud of what we did with the ISSG.
And I regret that we were not able to be successful in getting the parties to Geneva. But I deeply believe that we are on the cusp of seeing that happen over the course of the next months, and that it will be the framework that we put in place that is ultimately going to be the structure around which peace in Syria is built.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Several other countries I want to mention very quickly. Israel.
You got a great deal of attention with the speech you gave about Israel’s policy, talking about the settlements. Right after that, they announced — Israel announced they’re expanding the settlements. We know the attitude about Israel of the incoming president-elect, Mr. Netanyahu.
So, my question is, were you as secretary of state shouting into the wind?
JOHN KERRY: No, I don’t believe so. I don’t believe so at all.
Every administration through our history has said that the settlements are an obstacle to peace and they do not have legal validity. We didn’t break new ground with that, except that we reiterated and reaffirmed that we are not going to sit by idly and watch a sort of extreme element within the current government move in a direction that we believe is dangerous for Israel, reduces the possibility of peace, prolongs the potential of conflict, and is completely contrary to American values and interests, which have been expressed by Republican and Democrat administrations alike throughout history.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Final question.
You’re seen as the most shoulder-to-the-wheel secretary of state we have had in a long time. You have been to every — virtually every global — or you have been dealing with virtually every global trouble spot around the world. You have given this job long hours. You have traveled nonstop.
What are you the most proud of? What is your greatest disappointment as you walk away?
JOHN KERRY: Well, you know, I’m going to duck you slightly here, in the sense that I honestly don’t dwell on the disappointments.
There are some. And we have talked about a few of the things that are undone. But I am very proud of the department. I think we are more engaged in more places in the world, simultaneously dealing with more crises, and with greater effect in those more places in the world, than at any time in American history.
I think the world is safer without Iran with a nuclear weapon. The world has got the potential to be safer if we fully implement the Paris agreement.
So, yes, I think, all in all, the Obama administration and what President Obama has focused on has lived up to our need to protect American interests, to live our values and assert our values, and to stand up for future generations.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary of State John Kerry, thank you very much.
JOHN KERRY: Thank you.
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An iceberg the size of Delaware will soon break off an ice shelf in Antarctica, according to scientists at the British Antarctic Survey.
Over the last few years, a crack has been growing rapidly in the Larsen C Ice Shelf, which is located near the coast of South America.
The separation increased by over 18 miles from 2011 to 2015. In 2016, it grew by another 13 miles, and last month alone, 11 more miles broke off. The crack on the shelf is now about 70 miles long and over 1,000 feet wide. A mere 12 miles holds the shelf and iceberg together.
At almost 2,000 square miles, this potential iceberg would be one of the 10 largest on record once it enters the ocean.
Researchers at the British Antarctic Survey have been monitoring the Larsen C Ice Shelf for more than a decade. The nearby Larsen A shelf disintegrated in 1995. In 2002, the Larsen B shelf partially collapsed.
A NASA study from 2015 estimates that the shelf will completely disintegrate by the end of this decade. The British Antarctic Survey attributes the expanding Larsen C crack to both warmer air temperatures and warmer ocean currents.
Adrian Luckman, a leader on the UK Antarctic research team Project MIDAS, told the BBC, he would be amazed if the iceberg doesn’t split from the shelf within the next few months.
Sea levels will not be affected by the melting of the single iceberg, but the BBC reported the complete disintegration of the shelf could cause sea levels to rise by about four inches.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: We return to the report issued this afternoon by the U.S. intelligence community on what it calls, “Russian activities and intentions” in recent U.S. elections.
The report is a public version of a highly classified assessment given to the president and other top officials. It alleges that Russia used covert operations to steal material from the Democratic Party and others, and disseminated it through media organizations that it controls and through third-party groups. It called the campaign a significant escalation of Russian efforts to — quote — “undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order.”
For more on the report’s findings and its effects, I’m joined from Capitol Hill by California Representative Adam Schiff. He is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
And, for the record, we called every current Republican member serving on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. None was available.
Adam Schiff, Congressman Schiff, thank you very much for joining us.
Now, this report says it has high confidence that President Vladimir Putin personally ordered this campaign to interfere with the U.S. election. It doesn’t say how it knows that, but after you were briefed and have read the classified report, are you confident that that’s what happened?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-Calif.): Well, I am very confident in it. And I think all the members of the Intelligence Committee, Democrats and Republicans, are confident in the conclusions about the Russian involvement.
I have been on the committee now for almost 10 years, and this is among the best documented, most ironclad, I think, intelligence reports that I have seen on any major issue. If this doesn’t persuade Donald Trump about the facts, nothing will.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The report, also, Congressman Schiff, says the Russians developed what they call a clear preference for Donald Trump. How so?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Well, there are many reasons why the Russians prefer Donald Trump.
I think, in the first instance, they wanted to tear down Secretary Clinton. They, I think, despised her remarks about the flawed 2011 elections in Russia. They feared that she would be very tough on Russia in terms of sanctions.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, they had every reason to want. It was somebody who belittled NATO, who praised Putin, who I think would be much more amenable to their policy in Syria, where they bomb civilians.
So there were a lot of reasons for them to prefer Donald Trump. It was their aspiration, as the report makes clear, to help him and to hurt her.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The report also points out that the Russian — how the Russian military intelligence passed along this information to WikiLeaks, the so-called transparency organization.
We know Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, say they didn’t get it from the Russians. What evidence is there in the report that there was collaboration between the Russians and WikiLeaks?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: You know, I can’t go into that evidence, because that’s really the heart and soul of the classified report.
But I can say I think the case is very powerful. WikiLeaks was a useful medium for the Russians. They had a little more distance or deniability with WikiLeaks than they did with their other cutouts, so they made ample use of it.
I think Julian Assange knows this, or he is affirmatively trying to stick his head in the sand. But, nonetheless, it was a very useful platform for the Russians.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Before this report became public and, in fact, before President-elect Trump was briefed, he said that this whole thing is a political witch-hunt, the findings by the U.S. intelligence community. What’s your reaction to that?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: My reaction is this.
We need Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work together to fashion a very comprehensive pushback to Russia, not just the cyber-hacking, but their bribery of officials in Europe, their social media campaign, their overt media campaign.
All of the dirty tricks, basically, the Russians employ to tear down liberal democracy, we need to work together on a bipartisan basis, and we need the new president’s help. We can’t do it alone. And that has to begin by his acknowledgment of the facts.
We need him to lead the liberal democratic order around the world. No other nation can do that the way we can, and it’s going to be very hard for Congress to do it over his opposition.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, one of the other — one of the comments he made after the briefing was he pointed out and emphasized, he said he appreciated the briefing, but he emphasized that the alleged Russian action had, in his words, absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.
Now, my reading of what was made public from this report is that they didn’t examine whether the hacking affected the outcome of the election.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: That’s exactly right. And I think that was very misleading of the president-elect to suggest that this report or the presentation said there was no outcome effect, no effect on the election itself.
It is true there is no evidence that the tampering with voter machines or tampering with voter registrations or any of like that affected the counting of the votes. That’s true. That’s not the same thing as saying there was no impact on the outcome.
Clearly, the daily dumping of information that was damaging to Secretary Clinton and helpful to Donald Trump was hugely consequential. And it’s not the intelligence community’s place to say whether this was determinative or not. And, indeed, that’s unknowable. But that claim was completely unsupported by the report or the briefing he got today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We know, Congressman Schiff, that President Obama did take some moves, took measures against the Russian intelligence community just in the last few days.
Yesterday, I interviewed Vice President Biden. He said other steps have been taken that are not publicly known. Is it your sense that the U.S. is responding appropriately? Should more be done? What should Americans — what should America — what should the United States be prepared to do as a result of this?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: I think what has been done so far by the current administration is a first step. It is by no means, I think, sufficient.
We need to work in Congress on a bipartisan basis. We have reached out on the Democratic side to Senators McCain and Graham on a package of sanctions, broader sanctions, to make the Russians pay a price.
But even beyond that, we need a comprehensive approach to what is a very successful, well-funded Russian effort, through a variety of vectors, through, as I mentioned, bribery of people, and their media platforms, their hacking, the publishing of fake news, the publishing of bogus documents, we need to push back against all of that.
It’s a threat to the German elections coming up. It’s a threat to our French allies, our NATO allies. And we need a comprehensive and hard pushback. It’s the only thing the Russians understand. It’s the only thing that will deter them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, we thank you very much for talking with us.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can read the full declassified intelligence report on our Web site. That’s at PBS.org/NewsHour.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The election of Donald Trump as president was certified when Congress tallied the Electoral College votes. Vice President Joe Biden presided, as a number of House Democrats objected, but none had the support of a senator, as the rules require.
WOMAN: Even as people waited hours in Georgia…
VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: There is no debate. There is no debate. If it’s not signed by a senator, the objection cannot be entertained.
WOMAN: Mr. President, the objection is signed by a member of the House, but not yet by a member of the Senate.
VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: Well, it is over.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mr. Trump finished with 304 electoral votes to 227 for Hillary Clinton. She won the popular vote by a margin of about 2.9 million.
The president-elect was busy on other fronts today. In a series of tweets, he disputed reports that U.S. taxpayers will pay for a wall on the Mexican border under a plan his own advisers shared with Congress. Instead, he insisted that Mexico will reimburse the cost later.
And he mocked Arnold Schwarzenegger’s low ratings as his replacement on the new “Celebrity Apprentice” television show. Mr. Trump wrote — quote — “So much for being a movie star.”
Job creation in the U.S. slowed last month, as the unemployment rate ticked higher. The U.S. Labor Department reports the economy saw a net gain of 156,000 jobs. The jobless rate edged up to 4.7 percent, as more people started looking for work. Hourly pay rose nearly 3 percent. That’s the most in more than seven years, as employers paid more to attract and to keep workers.
From President Obama today, a challenge on repealing Obamacare. He says that Republicans need to present their alternative before they repeal the existing law. In an interview with the news Web site Vox, he acknowledged the Affordable Care Act has flaws, but he challenged critics to come up with an improvement.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I am saying to every Republican right now, if you, in fact, can put a plan together that is demonstrably better than what Obamacare is doing, I will publicly support repealing Obamacare and replacing it with your plan. But I want to see it first.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Republicans have yet to agree on their own plan, but they say they hope to enact repeal and to vote on a replacement this year.
Russia announced today that it’s withdrawing some of its forces from Syria, starting with an aircraft carrier and other warships. The carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov was deployed in November, as Russia intensified airstrikes on Eastern Aleppo. That’s the city that fell to Syrian government forces on December 22.
The long-running search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will finally end in two weeks. Malaysia’s government says it’s calling a halt, as teams finish searching more than 46,000 square miles in the Indian Ocean. The airliner disappeared in March of 2014, with 239 people on board. Debris has washed up in Eastern Africa.
Back in this country, states across the Deep South declared emergencies today ahead of a winter storm, and Atlanta braced for the worst. A 2014 storm paralyzed the city and stranded thousands of people overnight on jammed highways. Officials said plans are in place to avoid a repeat.
Wall Street closed the week on a high note. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 64 points to finish at 19963, after flirting with 20000. The Nasdaq rose 33 points, and the S&P 500 added nearly eight. Both the Nasdaq and the S&P closings were new records.
And Michelle Obama had her final formal event as first lady today. She spoke at a White House event for the school counselor of the year, and she spoke directly to the nation’s youth.
MICHELLE OBAMA, First Lady: Lead by example with hope, never fear, and know that I will be with you, rooting for you and working to support you for the rest of my life. Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life, and I hope I have made you proud.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Obamas have two more weeks in the White House, until Inauguration Day, January 20.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The day’s other major story is Florida. Panic erupted at the Fort Lauderdale Airport, when a gunman shot five people to death and wounded eight more before he was captured.
William Brangham picks it up from there.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The shooting set off an afternoon of chaotic reports about exactly what was going on.
Steve Mort of Feature Story News is at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. And he joins me via telephone.
So, Steve, I understand you were there soon after this attack came to an end. Can you tell us what you first saw?
STEVE MORT, Feature Story News: Yes, we were here very soon after it took place, maybe about 20 minutes to half-an-hour or so.
And as we got to the airport, we tried to find a vantage point to establish our camera. We managed to find a vantage point on the parking garage that was overlooking terminal two, where the shooting took place, of course, in the baggage claim area.
And what happened was, there were subsequent reports of a shooter inside that parking garage, and that prompted the SWAT team to move in. They moved us, as well as other passengers, members of the public that were in that parking garage out and into one of the other terminals here at the Fort Lauderdale Airport.
Now, it was a very surreal situation. We had to duck behind cars as SWAT team members spotted an unidentified individual within the parking garage, which, of course, triggered multiple rumors there were, in fact, other shooters, a very common phenomenon in mass shooting incidents, which many of us who have had the misfortune to cover them know well.
Eventually, we did manage to reach the terminal. We saw several groups of people who had been asked to clear areas by the police, running, screaming, many of them not sure what was going on. So, it was a pretty chaotic scene.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, we understand from the sheriff and from the governor there is a suspect named Esteban Santiago who has been apprehended. He is now believed to be the only shooter. What do we know about who this man is?
STEVE MORT: Yes, that is correct. We do understand at this stage that he did act on his own. We understand that he boarded a plane in Alaska. We understand that Esteban Santiago then flew to Fort Lauderdale, where he unpacked from his packed — or from his checked baggage a firearm.
We understand that he flew with it, he checked it into his checked luggage. Of course, you’re allowed to do that. You can’t take firearms on the plane. You can put them in your checked bags. He took a gun out of his checked bag, went to a bathroom in the baggage claim area or adjacent to the baggage claim area in the terminal two here at the airport, when he loaded the weapon, then went back out into the baggage claim area and opened fire.
In terms of the suspect himself, Esteban Santiago, we’re getting sort of patchy details about his background. He is suspected to be a former U.S. Army soldier from the New York area. Now, we do know that Esteban’s brother says that he had been receiving psychological treatment while living in Alaska and that Esteban’s girlfriend had alerted the brother to the situation after the shooting had unfolded.
Now, of course, the main point now for authorities will be to try to figure out exactly what the motivation here was in this attack. We don’t believe at the moment, according to authorities, that there was a terrorism motivation here, but certainly FBI officials are going to be questioning him intensely over the coming hours and days, trying to find out exactly why he carried out this attack.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Steve Mort of Feature Story News, thank you very much.
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WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump says he “learned a lot” in his briefing with top intelligence officials, but is declining to say whether he accepts their assertion that Russia meddled in the election on his behalf.
Trump spoke to The Associated Press in a brief telephone interview Friday evening.
Trump met with CIA Director John Brennan, FBI Director James Comey and other officials at his New York offices. He says of the officials, “I really like those people a lot” and he believes they also learned from the discussion.
The president-elect would not disclose the evidence he was presented with, saying only that he had learned “a lot of confidential things.”
Read the full report below:
On the surface, China’s complete ban of ivory sales seems to to fulfill a 2015 pledge made with the U.S. to end the ivory trade. But so far, Beijing hasn’t released details on what will happen with the nation’s massive legal and illegal stockpiles. The government alone maintains an estimated 20 to 30 tons of ivory, experts told NewsHour.
“China paid huge amounts of money to buy the legal stockpile from African countries, so it might not want to get rid of it,” said Li Zhang, an ecologist who has published research on an ivory ban in China. “They could destroy or crush the legal stockpile but there are different opinions.”
The new prohibition, due to take effect by the end of 2017, will shutter 34 processing facilities and 143 “trading venues” in China, the world’s largest ivory market. The government has long supported the domestic trade, issued permits for dealers and carving factories and provided licenses for ownership of specific pieces. Ivory carving goes back centuries there, and Beijing has declared the practice is cultural heritage.
For years, the Chinese government resisted pressure to halt the legal trade, and instead opted to regulate it. But an aboveground market allowed criminals to launder illegal ivory, fueling poaching in Africa. At about $1,000 per kilogram, ivory is considered a good investment.
In the last seven years, about 144,000 African elephants were slaughtered for ivory, according to the Great Elephant Census. If current rates of poaching are sustained — an eight percent annual decline in populations — wild African savannah elephants could be extinct within 20 years.
The new ban follows a three-year moratorium on ivory imports imposed last March. A government statement on the ban mentions collecting legal ivory for museums and auctioning some supplies under special circumstances.
But Zhang argues the fastest way to close the legal market would be for the government to buy back ivory from dealers and artisans. An article he published in Nature suggests it would cost about $600 million to recover finished and raw ivory.
“The Chinese government needs to consider whether they will pay compensation for the legal ivory items registered by carving companies or retail companies,” Zhang said.
Even though the dealers must find a fresh trade, the Chinese government won’t put carvers out of work. In a statement, the government suggested museums would hire carvers to preserve and restore ivory pieces. The state council stated carvers could use alternative materials like mammoth ivory, jade or bone.
When illegal blends with legal
International ivory sales were banned in 1989 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) — but with some exceptions., China and Japan received CITES permission in 2008 to buy ivory from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia. China walked away with 62 tons in a one-time buy.
In 2009, the Chinese government started selling five tons each year to licensed carving factories, said Grace Gabriel, the Asia regional director for International Fund for Animal Welfare. But this annual allowance was not enough to satisfy the demand among China’s wealthy and rising middle class.
“In 2010, we visited 158 ivory selling operations and found that 101 did not have government issued licenses,” Gabriel said. “Among the 57 that did have licenses, 60 percent were selling without ID cards, and we even found the ID cards had become a commodity to protect illegal ivory.”
Gabriel said government-issued ivory lasted on average for one month among Chinese carvers, meaning for the other 11 months of the year, they were using illegal ivory. She estimates about 20 of the original 62 tons of legal ivory remain.
The shortfall caused China’s legal trade to fuse with the black market, making it hard to separate legit pieces from illicit ones. In fact, after the 2008 sale to China and Japan, poaching of African elephants increased, reversing the downward trend after the 1989 CITES ban.
Andrea Crosta, executive director of the Elephant Action League, estimates there are 1,000 tons of illegal ivory hidden throughout China.
“We don’t know how the Chinese will tackle this issue,” Crosta said. “Will they offer amnesty? They haven’t mentioned how they will do that. What will happen if the legal ivory goes underground? There are many questions.”
Becoming An “Ecological Civilization”
After years of bad publicity linking the country to poaching in Africa, Chinese leaders realized they needed to change their attitudes toward ivory, advocates said. U.S.-affiliated nonprofits spent millions on ads and films to raise awareness. The conservation group, WildAid launched a campaign against ivory and rhino horn featuring Chinese basketball star Yao Ming.
The new ban also aligns with China’s desire become a leader in environmental stewardship. Soon after President Xi Jinping came to power he instituted a series of reforms to make the country an “ecological civilization.” In 2014, China publicly crushed six tons of ivory and a year later, President Obama and President Xi agreed to work together to end ivory sales in their countries.
“There is a realization that there are real limits that are being passed,” said Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid.
But more important for China is its influence in Africa. Beijing recently pledged $60 billion in development funds there. But appetite for ivory has made for some embarrassing moments. In 2014, word got out that members of President Xi’s delegation to Tanzania left with thousands of pounds of poached ivory and rhino horn. Ivory and other resource theft has fueled terrorism, conflict and crime throughout the continent.
“In Africa, it is undermining the tourism industry and funding terrorism,” Knights said. “The Chinese wanted to be part of the solution.”
A rush for ivory?
Shutting down the world’s largest ivory market will shake up the international trade. While advocates celebrate the new Chinese ban, their attention is shifting toward other wildlife trafficking routes in the region. Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos are major hubs. Smugglers will try to shift focus to countries with weaker enforcement or legal markets.
Hong Kong plans to close its legal ivory trade by 2021, but environmentalists worry the traders will unload tusks there until the market is phased out.
East Asia isn’t alone. The U.S. and Europe have a large role in the ivory game. The U.S. is one of the largest ivory markets. The European Union is the world’s largest exporter of pre-CITES legal ivory.
But attitudes appear to be shifting globally. France banned its legal ivory market last year, and despite failing to ban it in early 2016, the European Union passed a resolution in November calling for a complete ivory ban among member states. The Obama administration reinforced their earlier agreement with China by adopting a near-total ivory ban last June.
While countries debate over the fates of the largest land animal on earth, China’s decision is expected to drive down the global price of ivory, which could set off a scramble among poachers until the ban takes effect late this year.
“It will take poachers a long time to realize it is the end of an era,” Crosta of Elephant Action League said. “I hope it will not mean that it will kick off a year of savage poaching.”
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WASHINGTON — Citing increasingly sophisticated cyber bad actors and an election infrastructure that’s “vital to our national interests,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is designating U.S. election systems critical infrastructure, a move that provides more federal help for state and local governments to keep their election systems safe from tampering.
“Given the vital role elections play in this country, it is clear that certain systems and assets of election infrastructure meet the definition of critical infrastructure, in fact and in law,” Johnson said in a statement Friday. He added: “Particularly in these times, this designation is simply the right and obvious thing to do.”
The determination came after months of review and despite opposition from many states worried that the designation would lead to increased federal regulation or oversight on the many decentralized and locally run voting systems across the country. It was announced on the same day a declassified U.S. intelligence report said Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered” an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.
The declassified report said that Russian intelligence services had “obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards.” None of the systems targeted or compromised was involved in vote tallying, the report said.
A 2013 presidential directive identified 16 sectors as critical infrastructures, including energy, financial services, health care, transportation, food and agriculture and communications.
The designation announced Friday places responsibilities on the Homeland Security secretary to identify and prioritize those sectors, considering physical and cyber threats against them. The secretary is also required to conduct security checks and provide information about emerging and imminent threats.
Such a change does not require presidential action, and only requires the secretary to first consult with the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism.[Watch Video]
Discussions about whether to designate elections systems as critical infrastructure surfaced after hackers targeted the voter registration systems of more than 20 states in the months prior to the November election.
While the designation puts responsibilities on the Department of Homeland Security, it does not require entities that are determined “critical infrastructure” to participate. Much of the nation’s critical infrastructure is in the private sector.
Johnson said election infrastructure included storage facilities, polling places and vote tabulation locations, plus technology involved in the process, including voter registration databases, voting machines and other systems used to manage the election process and report and display results.
The designation allows for information to be withheld from the public when state, local and private partners meet to discuss election infrastructure security — potentially injecting secrecy into an election process that’s traditionally and expressly a transparent process. U.S. officials say such closed door conversations allow for frank discussion that would prevent bad actors from learning about vulnerabilities. DHS would also be able to grant security clearances when appropriate and provide more detailed threat information to states.
The Obama administration has proposed international cyber rules for peacetime that would expressly note that countries shouldn’t conduct online activity targeting critical infrastructure, which will now also include election systems.
President Barack Obama used sanctions last week to retaliate against Russian efforts to interfere in the U.S. election process by expanding a prior executive order that allows for their use in the case of cyberattack on critical infrastructure to entities “interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions.” With election infrastructure designated as critical, an attack that takes the system down would also qualify for a response of sanctions.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, who is the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, commended Johnson’s action and said, “In the long term, this will put our electoral systems on a more secure footing and maintain public confidence in our elections.”
Rep. Jim Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat and co-chairman of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, said in a statement that the decision “demonstrates the vital need to ensure votes can’t be tampered with. We must also act as a nation to build our resilience against future information warfare attacks.”
Georgia Secretary of State Brian P. Kemp, who is a member of the U.S. Election Infrastructure Cybersecurity Working Group run by DHS, is among those who have opposed the designation. Testifying in September to a House Oversight subcommittee, Kemp said more federal oversight could make systems more vulnerable and could make protected records more accessible.
When Johnson discussed the likelihood of the designation in a conference call with state officials on Thursday, Kemp called the action “a federal overreach into a sphere constitutionally reserved for the states.” According to a copy of his comments released by his office, Kemp told Johnson on the phone that “this smacks of partisan politics” given the dwindling days left in the Obama administration.
Kemp has appealed to President-elect Donald Trump to investigate “failed cyberattacks” on the Georgia secretary of state’s network that traced to the Department of Homeland Security, calling the department’s technical explanations insufficient.
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LAS VEGAS — At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, fake beds abound.
Companies from across the globe are clamoring to give attendees a chance to kick off their shoes and test out the latest in sleep technology. It’s hard to get too cozy with thousands of tech fanatics milling around the exhibit floor — but manufacturers are doing their darndest.
They’re showcasing snooze-inducing headphones and smart pillowcases, beds with built-in foot warmers, and belts that track every toss and turn. There are smart alarm clocks designed to make it as pleasant as possible to drag yourself out of bed on a Monday morning. There’s even an app that can record your snoring — and everything you say in your sleep.
All of this is supposed to make you sleep better.
But it’s not clear what you’re supposed to do with all the data these products generate.
“There’s an inherent problem because the consumer world has come up with all these ways to monitor your body signals, but the clinical world didn’t come up with a way to answer all the questions it brings about,” said Michael Breus, a psychologist who specializes in sleep disorders.
Here’s a look at the gadgets hitting the sleep tech market — and the evidence behind them:
Buckle in before bed?
Sleep trackers are growing more high-tech. Take 2breathe, a smart device that you’re supposed to strap around your waist before bed. The $180 device can sense your breathing and play tones to help you fall asleep, and it shuts off automatically when it senses you’re snoozing. It’s tied to an app that fills you in bright and early every morning on how you slept.
Or, at least, it shoves a bunch of data points at you.
“You got 18 percent REM sleep and 24 percent light sleep. So what?” said Breus, who also appears regularly as a sleep expert on “The Dr. Oz Show.”
Clinicians in sleep medicine are asking the same question.
“Such devices may have a role in giving us some idea about how the night’s sleep was, but I am not sure if consumers can directly interpret the results,” said Dr. Gholam Motamedi, a neurologist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital who has studied sleep medicine.
There is limited evidence that wearable trackers can encourage users to get more sleep each night. One recent study of 565 drug company employees who used activity trackers for a year found that while users didn’t get more physical activity, they were sleeping an average of 30 minutes longer each night by the end of the year.
“People didn’t realize how little they were sleeping, and it wasn’t until it was in front of them and aggregated that they realized,” said Laura Pugliese, deputy director of innovation research at the New York-based Healthcare Innovation & Technology Lab and one of the study’s authors.
Even so, Pugliese agreed that there’s slim science behind much of the consumer sleep technology on the market. “There’s not as much evidence of how they can really benefit people or if they can really benefit people,” she said.
The makers of Beddit — a $149 bed sensor that tracks heart rate, breathing, and snoring — aim to boost the utility of their data by connecting it to electronic health records. The goal: give doctors a way to keep tabs on their patients’ sleep over time.
The Beddit app gives consumers advice about tweaking their sleep routine to get a better night’s rest. It’ll also flag if a user has signs of sleep apnea and suggest they check in with a clinician.
Smart mattresses and snore-proof pillows
Users who don’t want to sport a clunky bracelet or strap a seatbelt around their waist have another option to keep tabs on their snoozing: smart beds.
The Sleep Number 360 smart bed, for instance, is designed to sense shifts in the body and continually adjust the mattress pad’s temperature and positioning throughout the night. Like the company’s other mattresses, it can adjust each side independently to accommodate two sleepers. The company even claims it can detect your partner’s snoring and gently raise his or her side of the bed to quiet them.
The goal, as Sleep Number puts it: help consumers “get their much needed vitamin Z.”
Breus, the “Dr. Oz Show” psychologist, said products like smart beds that are in constant, direct contact with a user tend to be more accurate than apps like Sleep Cycle, which uses a phone’s accelerometer to measure changes in movement on the bed.
“Honestly, I can’t count the number of people who hear what I do and grab their phone and whip out their Sleep Cycle and say, ‘Tell me what this means,’” Breur said. “And I say, ‘No, I can’t, because it’s not very accurate.’”
The mattress world is also making a push to help users regulate their own body temperature during sleep. To take one example, the Kryo Sleep Performance System is a water-based cooling mattress pad that’s controlled by an app.
Experts say temperature does play an important role in sleep — it’s a key factor in regulating our circadian rhythm, the biological clock that helps maintain our sleeping and waking cycle. “There is an established association between core body temperature and sleep,” said Motamedi, the neurologist.
But there’s no published data to support another claim from Kryo: that the $299 cooling mattress pad can improve deep sleep by as much as 20 percent.
And if smart mattresses aren’t enough? Get ready for smart pillows.
Sleepace is currently developing a product called the Sleep Dot, a teeny-tiny tracker that sticks to the corner of a pillowcase. It aims to track body movement, sleep cycles, and wake-ups during the night. An early competitor: Zeeq, a smart pillow that plays music, tracks your movement and breathing, and can even rattle an alarm if you start to snore.
How do you measure up?
Experts agree that to make sleep products more effective, consumer tech companies have to give users a way to make their personal data matter.
“The trend that is hopefully going to grow is people trying to [put] this biomedical data into a platform that has some sort of lasting and ongoing effect,” said Stan Kachnowski, a digital health researcher who also works at the Healthcare Innovation & Technology Lab.
That might mean giving personalized advice on the best time to lie down or wake up. Or it might mean letting users match their habits up against their peers. “Maybe your data is compared to somebody that’s your same gender and age,” Breus suggested.
Personalized feedback is essential, he said, to make sleep tracking worthwhile.
“I think that’s where we really need to go,” he said, “and we’re not there yet.”
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WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday said he wanted retired Sen. Dan Coats to be national intelligence director, describing the former member of the Senate Intelligence Committee as the right person to lead the new administration’s “ceaseless vigilance against those who seek to do us harm.”
Trump’s announcement came one day after release of a declassified government report on Russian efforts to influence the presidential election. The report predicts Russia isn’t done intruding in U.S. politics and policymaking.
Trump wants to improve relations with Russia and repeatedly has denounced intelligence agencies’ assessment that the Kremlin interfered in the election, when he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton. But the report released Friday explicitly ties Russian President Vladimir Putin to the meddling and says Russia had a “clear preference” for Trump over Clinton.
Coats, an Indiana Republican, will await Senate confirmation to head the office, which was created after the Sept. 11 attacks to improve coordination among U.S. spy and law enforcement agencies. Coats now finds himself in line to be at the center of an intelligence apparatus that the president-elect has publicly challenged.
Trump said in an early morning statement that Coats “has clearly demonstrated the deep subject matter expertise and sound judgment required to lead our intelligence community.” He said Coats “will provide unwavering leadership that the entire intelligence community can respect, and will spearhead my administration’s ceaseless vigilance against those who seek to do us harm.”
Coats, in a statement released by Trump’s transition team, said: “There is no higher priority than keeping America safe, and I will utilize every tool at my disposal to make that happen.”
Trump’s team has been examining ways to restructure intelligence agencies as part of an effort to streamline operations and improve efficiency, but Coats’ nomination could ease fears that Trump would push for a significant overhaul.
Coats, 73, is a Capitol Hill veteran who served eight years in the House before moving to the Senate in 1989 to take Dan Quayle’s place when Quayle became President George H.W. Bush’s vice president. Coats stayed in the Senate until 1998, then left to become a lobbyist.
After serving as U.S. ambassador to Germany under President George W. Bush, Coats joined the international law firm of King & Spalding, helping lead the government affairs division and lobbying for pharmaceutical, defense and energy companies.[Watch Video]
Coats, who earned $600,000 in his final 13 months at King & Spalding, downplayed his lobbying work when he returned to Indiana for a successful Senate comeback bid in 2010. He served one term and did not seek re-election last year.
Coats was a vocal critic of Russia and pushed the Obama administration to harshly punish Moscow for its annexation of Crimea in 2014. When the White House levied sanctions, the Kremlin responded by banning several lawmakers, including Coats, from traveling to Russia.
Trump received a briefing Friday from intelligence officials on the classified report about Russian interference in the 2016 election, and he later told The Associated Press that he “learned a lot” from the discussions. But the president-elect declined to say whether he accepted the officials’ assertion that Russia had intruded in the election on his behalf.
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In 2009, artist Mercedes Dorame received a gift from her father — a CD filled with images of her family, some of whom she had never seen before. It was a new window into the history of her family, members of the Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe who had for generations been based in present-day Los Angeles and the surrounding area.
The Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe, historically known as the San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians, is one of hundreds of tribes that remain unrecognized by the federal government, leaving them without reservation land and disqualified from many types of federal funding. For years, tribes hoping to gain recognition have been faced with a lengthy, expensive process.
“I think that because we don’t have reservation land, we’re kind of a splintered group. There’s been a lot of contention. And I really think it’s because there is no central place to have ceremony. There’s no central place to remember. There’s no central place to bury our dead,” Dorame said.
Shortly after she received those family photos, Dorame began to project those images onto different locations in her apartment and then photograph each composition. The result is “Living Proof,” a series of photos that brings her family’s history directly into her present-day environment.
Dorame, now based in Los Angeles, said the work is part of an effort to illuminate the survival of her tribe’s culture amid a historical legacy of violence toward Native Americans in the U.S., including land theft, kidnapping and forced assimilation. She said her grandparents rarely spoke of their heritage until later in life.
“It’s really hard to acknowledge the gaps in your own history,” Dorame said. “It’s hard to acknowledge that there are these kind of holes and places that you don’t know how to fill it in.”
The photos also counter stereotypes of Native Americans that have often appeared in mainstream popular culture — many of them generated in Los Angeles, her home city, she said.
“People really expect a certain image when they think about Native Americans. That image, for a lot of people, was created in Hollywood, in Los Angeles,” Dorame said. “LA created this kind of image of what people think of when they hear ‘Native American.'”
Dorame said her work was highly influenced by her role as a Native American cultural resource monitor, working at excavation sites to give recommendations on how cultural artifacts or human remains should be handled, a process that is mandated under California law. Her father, who has often served in the same role, introduced her to that work in 1999.
“It’s so personal because it’s your heritage, it’s your culture. It’s very challenging work,” she said. “I see that burden on my father so often. And he always tells people, ‘Remember these words: this was somebody’s mother, or father, or aunt, or child. Remember the human element.’ Because sometimes it becomes so clinical. … I think our biggest role is to keep the human element a part of the process.”
Dorame aims to “spark interest” with her photography and other artistic work, bringing new attention to her tribe’s cultural legacy and present.
“So much of what I want my work to do is bring visibility back,” she said. “I want people to know that we as a tribe, we as a people, still exist.”
See below for more photos from the series.
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The man police say opened fire with a gun from his checked baggage at a Florida airport had a history of mental health problems — some of which followed his military service in Iraq — and was receiving psychological treatment at his home in Alaska, his relatives said Friday after the deadly shooting.
“Only thing I could tell you was when he came out of Iraq, he wasn’t feeling too good,” his uncle, Hernan Rivera, told The Record newspaper.
Esteban Santiago, 26, deployed in 2010 as part of the Puerto Rico National Guard, spending a year with an engineering battalion, according to Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Dahlen.
In recent years, Santiago — a new dad, family said — had been living in Anchorage, Alaska, his brother, Bryan Santiago, told The Associated Press from Puerto Rico. Bryan Santiago said his brother’s girlfriend had recently called the family to alert them to his treatment.[Watch Video]
In November, Esteban told FBI agents in Alaska that the government was controlling his mind and was forcing him to watch Islamic State group videos, a law enforcement official said. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation by name and spoke Friday on condition of anonymity.
The FBI agents notified the police after the interview with Esteban Santiago, who took him in for a mental health evaluation.
Bryan Santiago said his brother never spoke to him directly about his medical issues.
“We have not talked for the past three weeks,” Bryan Santiago said. “That’s a bit unusual … I’m in shock. He was a serious person … He was a normal person.”
Esteban Santiago was born in New Jersey but moved to Puerto Rico when he was 2, his brother said. He grew up in the southern coastal town of Penuelas before joining the Guard in 2007.
Since returning from Iraq, Santiago served in the Army Reserves and the Alaska National Guard in Anchorage. He was serving as a combat engineer in the Guard before his discharge for “unsatisfactory performance,” said Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead, a spokeswoman. His military rank upon discharge was E3, private 1st class, and he worked one weekend a month with an additional 15 days of training yearly, Olmstead said.
She would not elaborate on his discharge, but the Pentagon said he went AWOL several times and was demoted and discharged.
Still, he’d had some successes during his military career, being awarded a number of medals and commendations including the Iraq Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
His uncle and aunt in New Jersey were trying to make sense of what they were hearing about Santiago after his arrest at the Fort Lauderdale airport. FBI agents arrived at their house to question them, and reporters swarmed around.
Maria Ruiz told The Record that her nephew had recently become a father to a son and was struggling.
“It was like he lost his mind,” she said in Spanish of his return from Iraq. “He said he saw things.”
Santiago was flying from Anchorage on a Delta flight and had checked only one piece of luggage, which contained the gun.
Santiago was charged in a domestic violence case in January 2016, damaging a door when he forced his way into a bathroom at his girlfriend’s Anchorage home. The woman told officers he yelled at her to leave, choked her and smacked her on the side of the head, according to charging documents.
A month later municipal prosecutors said he violated the conditions of his release when officers found him at her home during a routine check. He told police he had lived there since he was released from custody the previous month. His Anchorage attorney, Max Holmquist, declined to discuss his client.
Law enforcement officers were at the girlfriend’s home Friday afternoon, and officers guarding the property outside told a reporter who approached the home to step away.
Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska; Rachel D’Oro and Mark Thiessen in Anchorage, Alaska; and Lolita C. Baldor and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.
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The independent Office of Government Ethics is expressing “great concern” that several of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees have not yet completed the required ethics review process or even filed any financial information but face confirmation hearings in the next week.
The concerns came in a Friday letter from Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics, who was responding to questions from top Democrats in the Senate. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer released the letter Saturday.
“The announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me,” Shaub wrote. “I am not aware of any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established when the Senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominee had completed the ethics review process.”
Senate confirmation hearings are set to begin Tuesday, with 10 nominees scheduled to go before various Senate panels next week.
OGE director Shaub argued that federal law requires that ethics reports must be completed before any hearings take place.
The problems, the ethics chief wrote, have been the hearing schedule combined with a lack of timely information from nominees and the Trump team. “It has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings.” He did not indicate which nominees have completed which portions of the process.
The Office of Government Ethics, or OGE, is an independent agency whose current director was appointed by President Barack Obama. It was created after the Watergate scandal to oversee ethics for the executive branch.
Typically during the confirmation process, the ethics office writes reports outlining any possible ethics issues and steps the nominee agrees to take to resolve them.
But the ethics director implied his office has not had time to complete reviews yet because the Trump transition team did not “pre-clear” any potential nominees before announcing them publicly.
“In the past, the ethics work was fully completed prior to the announcement of nominees in the overwhelming majority of cases … and, therefore, there was no opportunity for undue influence on the independent ethics review process,” Shaub wrote.
The letter was also sent to Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. His office told the PBS NewsHour that they have no comment at this time. The Trump transition team did not respond to questions and a request for comment.
The letter lands in a quickly-boiling political cauldron surrounding the Trump cabinet confirmation process. Senate Democrats have indicated they have sharp questions about, and may work to delay confirmation on, at least eight nominees. That has incensed Republicans, who point to 2009 when President Obama saw seven cabinet nominees confirmed on Inauguration Day and two more the next.
Republicans charge that Democrats are holding Trump’s choices to a different standard than Obama’s. They point to Democrats’ request for tax returns for several positions for which that step has not been required in the past. Republicans have rejected those requests and are not adding any new requirements for nominees.
But the disclosure from the Office of Government Ethics comes from an outside agency and indicates that at least some nominees have not yet met a significant and important requirement. Without ethics reports, senators would go into confirmation hearings without a usual source of potential questions.
Shaub called that a “cause for alarm” and said that he will not rush the ethics review process. “For as long as I remain director, OGE’s staff and agency ethics officials will not succumb to pressure to cut corners and ignore conflicts of interest,” he wrote.
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A military revolt that began in the Ivory Coast this week in protests over pay and spread to a several cities over two days ended on Saturday, the country’s president said.
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said the government had agreed to address demands made by the soldiers including “bonus payments and living and working conditions,” Reuters reported.
The revolt began on Friday in the nation’s second-largest city of Bouake before spreading to Abidjan, Man, Toulepleu, Bondoukou on Saturday, after military members demanded salary increases.
“It’s calm for the moment, but we are more and more afraid,” one Abidjan resident told the Associated Press.
An unidentified diplomat in Abidjan told Reuters that soldiers built barriers near the city’s military headquarters and fired shots in the air inside the national defense ministry’s compound. Another witness located in the city of Man said civilians remained indoors as soldiers moved through the streets.
There were no reports of causalities, according to the BBC. Ivory Coast Defense Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi traveled to Bouake to speak with the soldiers.
“I am there to reassure them, as the president asked me to,” Donwahi told Reuters.
In 2014, after the military launched a similar protest, the government issued payouts to soldiers in order to deescalate the insurrection. The country ended a decade-long civil war in 2011, and some former members of rebel faction reportedly later joined the government’s military.
The U.S. and France issued travel advisories to embassy staff members located in the country.
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An inmate in California this week became the first person in the U.S. to receive state-funded sex reassignment surgery while incarcerated.
Shiloh Heavenly Quine, a transgender woman, was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery in 1981. In August 2015, the state of California said it would fund the surgery as a medically necessary treatment for Quine’s gender dysphoria.
Quine received the surgery at a San Francisco hospital on Thursday. Following her discharge from the hospital, she will be moved to a women’s prison, according to Reuters.
“For too long, institutions have ignored doctors and casually dismissed medically necessary and life-saving care for transgender people just because of who we are,” Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, which represents Quine, told the Associated Press.
The 2015 settlement laid out a process for other California inmates to receive sex reassignment surgery that involves mental health and medical evaluations and a presentation to a six-member committee composed of medical professionals. The state also agreed to provide transgender inmates with gender-affirming clothing and items from commissary.
Several lawsuits in recent years have focused on the role of the state in providing hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery to inmates. Both treatments “have been found to be medically necessary to alleviate gender dysphoria in many people,” according to guidance from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. In a 2015 survey by prison abolitionist group Black and Pink, of more than 1,100 prisoners, 44 percent of respondents who requested hormones said they had been denied access to them.
Quine’s case was preceded by another transgender inmate, Michelle Norsworthy, who in April 2015 successfully obtained a federal court order mandating the state of California to pay for sex reassignment surgery. Norsworthy was placed on parole in August before she could receive the surgery.
In February 2016, inmate Ashley Diamond, a transgender woman, settled a lawsuit she had filed the previous year against the Georgia Department of Corrections seeking access to hormone therapy. She was released last August.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a statement of interest supporting Diamond in April 2015, asserting that failure to treat gender dysphoria is unconstitutional because it violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton echoed that interpretation in a statement this week about Quine’s surgery. “The 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that prisons provide inmates with medically necessary treatment for medical and mental health conditions including inmates diagnosed with gender dysphoria,” Thornton said in a statement.
Transgender inmates face particular challenges while incarcerated, including improper placement, and they are more vulnerable to violence. They are frequently placed in prisons according to their assigned sex, not their gender identity, according to a Lambda Legal survey of more than 2,300 people released in 2013. The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that more than 3,200 transgender people were incarcerated in 2011-12 and that 39.9 percent of them had reported sexual abuse that year.
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MELONIE OCHSNER: We’re used to it now.
CHRIS BURY: For Steve and Melonie Ochsner, the Affordable Care Act has meant life-saving health care without going broke. Steve, who is 60, has throat cancer.
MELONIE OCHSNER: Everyday look like we seem to be getting a little bit better.
CHRIS BURY: His treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation, are covered by Medicaid, the federal government health program for low income and disabled Americans. The Ochsners qualified after the act, known as “Obamacare,” took effect. But the cancer, chemo and radiation have taken their toll, leaving burns on Steve’s neck and costing him his voice.
DOCTOR: Are they giving you a topical steroid for that?
MELONIE OCHSNER: No, I’ve been using cocoa butter.
CHRIS BURY: Melonie speaks for both of them. What has having this insurance meant for Steve’s health?
MELONIE OCHSNER: With the Medicaid, we’ve paid nothing. It has covered every ounce of it. So, I mean, peace of mind has just been just absolutely tremendous.
CHRIS BURY: The Ochsners, who take care of their three-year-old granddaughter, now get health insurance because Kentucky — like 31 other states — agreed to expand Medicaid under “Obamacare.”
Before qualifying for Medicaid, Steve relied on private insurance from the company that owned the gas station where he worked, which Melonie says paid a maximum of only two thousand dollars a year in benefits.
RECEPTIONIST: I’m going to put a note in for the billing department.
CHRIS BURY: After Steve was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, his treatments ran up bills of more than $100 thousand before the couple qualified for Medicaid in 2014. Would you be deeply in debt if you didn’t have this insurance?
MELONIE OCHSNER: We are deeply in debt from not having it before, yeah. And we would be even more deeply in debt. Selling this house wouldn’t get us out from under it.
CHRIS BURY: Under the Affordable Care Act, Kentucky — like 17 other states and Washington D.C.– set up its own health insurance exchange. Kentucky called theirs “Kynect.” Residents could sign up for private insurance, often with government subsidies.
Yet for every Kentucky resident who obtained private insurance this way, another four residents obtained coverage through Medicaid expansion. The expansion raised the income eligibility to 138% of the federal poverty line — that’s about $16 thousand a year for an individual and $33 thousand for a family of four.
Here in Kentucky the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in 2013 was considered such a success, it became a model for other states. In the first few months, more than 300,000 people qualified for Medicaid coverage under the new law, and Kentucky saw a dramatic decrease in the percentage of uninsured residents. One of the biggest drops of its kind in the country.
In 2013, nearly 19% of Kentucky’s non-elderly population had no health insurance. By 2015, the uninsured rate had fallen to less than 7%. That’s better the national rate of the uninsured, which has dropped to 10.5%.
Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear — a Democrat — pushed for both a state exchange and Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
STEVE BESHEAR, FORMER GOVERNOR KENTUCKY (D): I didn’t care who passed it, I didn’t care it was a Democrat or a Republican, in terms of politics. I mean, it was the one opportunity that I felt like we had to make a big difference in Kentucky in the next generation or so in our health.
CHRIS BURY: That difference is seen in a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association last October. It found Kentuckians newly insured in the first two years of Medicaid expansion received more primary and preventive care, made fewer emergency room visits, and reported better health.
But in Kentucky, like many states that usually vote Republican for president, “Obamacare” became a political punching bag. And in 2015, Republican Matt Bevin successfully ran for governor promising to roll back parts of the law if elected.
Last year, Kentucky eliminated its state exchange, saying it was redundant given the federal exchange. To help control costs, Governor Bevin also asked the federal government for permission — known as a waiver — to overhaul the state’s Medicaid program, which now covers 1.3 million people, almost one in three residents.
GOVERNOR MATT BEVIN, KENTUCKY (R): I want to see us to become a healthier state. I don’t want us to simply to provide people with a Medicaid card and feel like we’ve done our part. We owe people better than that.
CHRIS BURY: The governor declined our interview request, but Republican State Representative Addia Wuchner, who chairs the State Committee on Health and Family Services, supports his plan.
ADDIA WUCHNER, KENTUCKY STATE REP. (R): The goal is to help every individual that is being served by traditional Medicaid, or expanded Medicaid, or moving into the exchange to learn to utilize the tools of having insurance and coverage.
CHRIS BURY: Are you saying it provides an incentive?
ADDIA WUCHNER: It allows them to have that skin in the game, to be consumers, but also taking that responsibility.
CHRIS BURY: Under Bevin’s plan, Medicaid would no longer be free. Recipients would be charged monthly premiums up to $15 a month, or $180 a year.
Able-bodied recipients without dependents would be required to work or volunteer up to 20 hours a week or to be enrolled in school. Those eligible for expanded Medicaid who miss a single premium payment could lose coverage for at least six months.
ADDIA WUCHNER: $180 a year to have this — almost the same coverage that you and I would have. And that’s a pretty good deal. So, the governor’s not asking, nor are we asking too much of them. But we’re asking them to be collaborators in– their coverage of care.
CHRIS BURY: The consequence is you can lose your insurance if you don’t meet these obligations?
ADDIA WUCHNER: If you don’t step up and be responsible. We want to–but we’re going to put all the tools in place to help citizens be responsible Just giving them health insurance, just giving– people, often, coverage doesn’t mean that they’re really engaged in the care that they have.
CHRIS BURY: Wuchner says Kentucky needs the waiver, because the Affordable Care Act requires states to pay a growing share of Medicaid expansion costs: five percent this year, rising to ten percent by 2020, costing the state an estimated $1.2 billion between 2017 and 2021, and making Medicaid the largest piece of the state budget pie after education.
ADDIA WUCHNER: 5 percent doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up to be a lot of money. So, I think the governor’s approach to look at is still wanting to assure people have care; but, actually, we have a shared responsibility in that care.
CHRIS BURY: Former Governor Beshear sees another motive at work.
STEVE BESHEAR: My biggest concern is that the efforts to get a waiver are really just disguise for, “we’d like to kick as many people off this program as we can.”
CHRIS BURY: The current government says that Kentucky cannot afford this expansion of Medicaid.
STEVE BESHEAR: Yes. And it’s simply not true.
CHRIS BURY: Beshear argues that healthcare spending due to the Medicaid expansion provides an economic boost and thousands of health care jobs for the state.
STEVE BESHEAR: It is sustainable and it’s affordable. But, you know, when you get into ideology, which this current administration is in, and they’re not the only ones. I mean, this is rampant around the country, it’s sort of, “don’t let the facts get in your way.”
CHRIS BURY: At the Shawnee Christian Healthcare Center in Louisville, which serves one of the city’s poorer neighborhoods, outreach director Anne Peak fears a return to the days when nearly one-in-five Kentuckians were uninsured.
ANNE PEAK: We will lose hundreds of thousands of folks’ coverage, people will not be able to get the care that they need and people will be going back to the emergency rooms in droves.
ROBIN DUNCAN: I’ve been coughing a whole lot,
CHRIS BURY: Robin Duncan now gets regular checkups at the Shawnee clinic, because she is covered by Medicaid. But last April, before she had Medicaid, Robin showed up at the ER uninsured and had to undergo gallbladder surgery.
Before you had insurance, how much did you rely on the emergency room?
ROBIN DUNCAN: I was probably having to go there for a little while. I was probably having to go, like, two or three times, like, a month.
CHRIS BURY: For your basic health care.
ROBIN DUNCAN: Correct, yes.
CHRIS BURY: After the Medicaid expansion, Kentucky hospitals saved more than a billion dollars in uncompensated or charity care from 2013 to 2014 according to a state-commissioned study.
Kentucky’s waiver — if approved by the Trump Administration — could provide a glimpse of what a Republican replacement for “Obamacare” might look like.
Brian Blase, a former staffer for Congressional Republicans, now works as a health policy analyst.
BRIAN BLASE, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, MERCATUS CENTER AT GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: We have 50 states. They’re often referred to as laboratories of democracy. Let them figure out some of these problems, and learn from each other.
CHRIS BURY: Blase favors a repeal of the Medicaid expansion and says that in states like Kentucky, the investment has not paid off.
BRIAN BLASE: Right now, when states spend an extra dollar, the federal government is reimbursing the state for most of that dollar. I wanna see– a change where states get a set amount of money with a lot more freedom with how to manage the dollars, and who to gear the program to. I think we have probably way too many people on the Medicaid program, and that it’s not able to serve sort of the truly needy, who need the public assistance.
CHRIS BURY: About 20 million Americans have health insurance that didn’t have health insurance before. Isn’t that a good thing?
BRIAN BLASE: It’s a good thing, if you don’t look at what the corresponding costs are. Right? You have to think, what’s the value that people are getting on this health insurance? And is the value that people are getting worth the costs?
CHRIS BURY: Blase cites a 2013 study from Oregon that found people who got coverage through a Medicaid expansion did utilize more health services, but showed no significant improvement in physical measures like high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Though diabetes detection and treatment went up.
But Jonathan Weiner, a professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University, says there are definite health benefits to having coverage.
JONATHAN WEINER, JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: For the individual, unquestionably, people with an insurance card in their pocket are healthier and over the long term have a better and longer life than someone that doesn’t have an insurance card.
CHRIS BURY: One of the reasons Republicans opposed this Medicaid expansion. They say it’s been far too expensive for the health outcomes that have been produced.
JONATHAN WEINER: Well, health care is expensive. People in private insurance plans spend even more than is the case here. But this way they can get preventive care. They can get their diabetes treated. Yes, that’s more expensive– but they will be healthier.
DOCTOR: Say ‘Ahhhhh’
STEVE OCHSNER: Ahhhhh
CHRIS BURY: Steve Ochsner and his wife, Melonie, credit the Affordable Care Act with helping keep Steve alive during his battle with throat cancer. They’re open to changes in the law, including paying a premium or volunteering to keep their Medicaid coverage.
You’d be okay?
MELONIE OCHSNER: We’d be okay with it. And I know that there are a lot of people that wouldn’t. But we’d be okay with it. We just would.
CHRIS BURY: Because the insurance is that important.
MELONIE OCHSNER: Because the insurance is that important. It is.
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