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

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    U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks with reporters after the weekly Senate Democratic caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on Washington, U.S. January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks with reporters after the weekly Senate Democratic caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on Washington, U.S. January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats on Tuesday will propose spending $1 trillion on transportation and other infrastructure projects over 10 years in an attempt to engage President Donald Trump on an issue where they hope to find common ground.

    Details of the plan provided to The Associated Press include $200 billion for a “vital infrastructure fund.” An example of the types of projects that could be eligible for financing from the fund is the Gateway Program to repair and replace rail lines and tunnels between New York and New Jersey, some of which are over 100 years old and were damaged in Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The project, which would double the number of trains per hour using the tunnels and help enable high-speed Amtrak service, is estimated to cost about $20 billion.

    Republican leaders, who have said previously that they’re waiting for Trump to offer his own proposal, are unlikely to embrace the Democratic plan. It’s not clear where Democrats would get the money for their proposal.

    Infrastructure was raised at a meeting Monday between Trump and lawmakers from both parties. “They thought that was an area maybe to find common ground, and then Sen McConnell made the important point it needs to be paid for because we’ve got $20 trillion in debt,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican leader.

    Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he doesn’t want another infrastructure plan that is effectively an economic stimulus program like the one Congress passed in 2009 at former President Barack Obama’s behest.

    Trump bemoaned the state of America’s roads, bridges, airports and railways during the presidential campaign and promised to generate $1 trillion in infrastructure investment, putting people to work in the process. But Trump has offered few specifics. Administration officials have indicated they expect Trump to offer details this spring.

    “Senate Democrats are walking the walk on repairing and rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure,” Senate Minority leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said. “We ask President Trump to support this common sense, comprehensive approach.”

    Democrats estimate their plan would create 15 million jobs.

    A proposal by two of Trump’s financial advisers circulated just after the election calls for using $137 billion in tax credits to generate $1 trillion in private investment in infrastructure projects over 10 years. But investors are typically interested only in projects that have a revenue stream like tolls to produce a profit.

    Charging tolls for roads and bridges is often unpopular. A recent Washington Post poll found that 66 percent of the public opposes granting tax credits to investors who put their money into transportation projects in exchange for the right to charge tolls.

    The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and transportation industry lobbying groups want a hike in direct federal spending instead of tax credits. What is needed most, they say, is money to address the growing backlog of maintenance and repair projects, most of which are unsuitable for tolling.

    The post Senate Democrats unveil $1 trillion infrastructure plan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The U.S. Capitol Building is lit at sunset in Washington, U.S.   REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

    The U.S. Capitol Building is lit at sunset in Washington, U.S. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

    Congressional analysts Tuesday projected that President Donald Trump has inherited a stable economy and a government that is on track to run a $559 billion budget deficit for the ongoing budget year.

    The new estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office say the economy will hold relatively steady, with economic growth rising slightly to 2.3 percent this year and unemployment averaging less than 5 percent for the duration of Trump’s term.

    Trump is promising higher growth as his administration curbs regulations, overhauls the tax code, and repeals the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s signature accomplishment.

    The latest CBO figures are in line with previous projections. The deficit continues to be intractable and CBO continues to warn that rising deficits and debt “would have significant consequences” and act as a drag on the economy if left unchecked.

    “After declining for several years, federal budget deficits are on a path to rise during the next decade,” the report says.

    “After declining for several years, federal budget deficits are on a path to rise during the next decade.”

    The projections come as Trump and Republicans controlling Congress are working to repeal much of former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, boost the Pentagon budget, and reform the loophole cluttered tax code.

    Balancing the budget would require crunching cuts to domestic agencies and big health programs like Medicare.

    Trump’s nominee to run the White House Budget office, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., was testifying before the Senate Budget Committee Tuesday morning. His prepared remarks offer few clues about the direction the new administration will take in tackling the deficit.

    Obama inherited an economy in recession and deficits exceeding $1 trillion a year. Deficits moved lower over his two terms, registering $587 billion last year.

    Economists generally prefer to measure the deficit against the size of the economy. By that gauge, the current-year deficit would register 2.9 percent of gross domestic product, a level that many economists say is sustainable, at least in the short term. But deficits would gradually rise as a percentage of GDP, which CBO warns could provoke a debt crisis in coming years and limit the options of policymakers to respond to unanticipated challenges.

    The post President Trump inherits stable economy, Congressional report says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation" on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

    FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation” on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

    FBI Director James Comey is staying in his job. A Justice Department memo lists him among officials remaining in their positions.

    FBI directors are appointed to 10-year terms intended to carry across presidential administrations, even when a new party takes over the White House.

    President Donald Trump criticized the FBI during the campaign for its decision not to recommend charges against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. But he also appeared to warmly greet Comey at a law enforcement gathering over the weekend.

    Comey is in his fourth year in the job.

    The New York Times first reported that Comey would stay on.

    The director’s job has been a 10-year term since 1976. Since then, only one has been removed prematurely — Reagan appointee William Sessions by Bill Clinton in 1993.

    The post FBI Director James Comey will stay, memo says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo  by  WOCinTech Chat, via Creative Commons.

    Photo by WOCinTech Chat, via Creative Commons.

    Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

    In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


    Question: My new employer wants me to list in my LinkedIn profile that I’m working for her, and to include the company’s logo, but I’m still in the 90-day probationary period of my new business development job. I don’t want other employers to see it yet. She’s made no commitment to me, and besides, I still don’t have the private office or company phone she promised.

    She has also strongly suggested that I change my profile so my “message aligns with the company’s.” She’s very into branding, and wants her business to be found when people find my profile — yet she does not list any of her employees on the company’s website. Besides, my LinkedIn profile is my marketing piece, not my employer’s! She even asked me to delete the last part of my summary in which I list what roles I’m looking for next in my career.

    I’ve tried to skirt this politely, but today she asked me when I’m going to do it. Because this job is different from others I’ve had, she wants me to omit key words from old jobs that aren’t consistent with her business. Meanwhile, I’m really trying to make this job a success. I just don’t like being pressured to re-write my resume — that’s what a LinkedIn profile is, after all — so it “aligns with the company’s message.”

    I really want this job to work out. What should I do?

    Nick Corcodilos: My short answer is, tell your boss to go pound sand. Will she let you edit her LinkedIn profile? I doubt it.

    If you’re going to add this new job to your LinkedIn profile, your boss has to earn it. Look at it this way (she clearly doesn’t): Would your boss ask to see your new resume, so she can pass judgment on what you include about her company? What’s the difference between that and your LinkedIn page?

    LinkedIn extortion

    This looks like a kind of extortion: Let me control your LinkedIn profile and I’ll let you keep your job.

    Is your LinkedIn profile part of your boss’s advertising and branding? Or is it yours? I’ve never heard of an employer making this kind of demand. Rather than assert any rights over your social media assets, your boss should stay mum and hope you decide on your own to add her company to your LinkedIn profile.

    Will she ask you to alter your Facebook page next? Will she ask you to start tweeting about her business from your personal Twitter account? Where will it end?

    How to say it
    So, what do you do? You can talk with her frankly and tell her your LinkedIn page is not up for discussion. Or you can do what she asks and take your chances. However, I think you have a card to play here. If you decide to post something on your profile to make a concession, I’d ask for something back. Maybe like this:

    “My social media pages are not intended to promote the company—they promote me. Listing my current job is a small part of what defines me. I would add more about this job after I’ve been here for a year, but I’d consider adding it now if you’re willing to end my probationary period and make a full commitment to me—including providing the office and company phone you promised.”

    Does that sound too strong? Then modify it to suit you. But do you see the point? Sometimes, you have to test your boss—because I think your boss is testing you. You might as well find out sooner rather than later whether this is someone you really want to work for long-term. For example, if you’re concerned about broken promises regarding an office and phone, you may realize other promises are on the line, too: What to say to a stingy boss.

    How to say it, v.2
    Here’s another way to help her see your point, since she’s so focused on marketing:

    “With all due respect, using my LinkedIn profile to promote the company would be like you buying ad space on a website—and of course I’d never ask you to buy space on my LinkedIn page. I think there has to be some separation between the company’s marketing and an employee’s own professional marketing.”

    Am I serious—should you offer up your LinkedIn profile if your boss pays you? Of course not. I’m trying to make a point. Tweak my suggestions as necessary, or don’t use them at all. It’s food for thought. (So is a larger question: Is your boss too preoccupied with LinkedIn as a marketing tool? She should read LinkedIn: Just another job board.)

    Realistically, your LinkedIn profile is not going to drive any business to your boss, any more than your resume would! It’s clear to me your boss has already made you uncomfortable by suggesting a kind of LinkedIn extortion, and that should not be. At some point, you must draw a line–even if it risks your job.

    Dear Readers: Would you modify your LinkedIn profile to suit your employer? Where do you draw the line?

    The post Ask the Headhunter: Does my boss have rights to dictate my LinkedIn profile? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

    Making Sense/NBER logo

    Each month, the NBER Digest summarizes several recent NBER working papers. These papers have not been peer-reviewed, but are circulated by their authors for comment and discussion. With the NBER’s blessing, Making Sen$e is pleased to feature these summaries regularly on our page.

    The following summary was written by the NBER and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Making Sen$e.


    Online coursework has been heralded as potentially transformative for higher education, but little is known about whether it increases the number of people pursuing education or simply substitutes for existing options. In “Can Online Delivery Increase Access to Education?” Joshua GoodmanJulia Melkers and Amanda Pallais provide the first evidence that online education can expand access to students who would not otherwise have enrolled in an educational program. They study the earliest educational model to combine the inexpensive nature of online education with a degree program from a highly ranked institution.

    READ MORE: Can online courses replace a campus education?

    In the spring of 2014, the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Computer Science Department started enrolling students in a fully online version of its highly ranked master’s degree. The Online Master of Science in Computer Science costs about $7,000, less than one-sixth the price of its in-person counterpart. The degree is not labeled “online” and is in name fully equivalent to the in-person degree. Georgia Tech designed the Online Master of Science in Computer Science such that its courses are online versions of the same courses in-person students take, designed by the same faculty and graded using the same standards.

    The researchers document very high demand for the Online Master of Science in Computer Science, now the nation’s largest computer science master’s degree program, particularly from mid-career Americans who do not appear interested in the in-person version. Some 80 percent of those admitted to the online program enroll, suggesting few find compelling alternative educational options.

    access

    To study whether online education is just a substitute for an in-person alternative, the researchers exploit the fact that the first cohort of Online Master of Science in Computer Science applicants faced a GPA threshold that generated quasi-random variation in admission among otherwise identical applicants. Those just above the threshold were roughly 20 percentage points more likely to be admitted than those just below it. Moreover, the authors find that nearly all of those who were just above the threshold and who were admitted chose to enroll in Online Master of Science in Computer Science. Very few applicants enrolled in non-Online Master of Science in Computer Science programs. Those just below the admission threshold were no more likely to enroll elsewhere than those just above it, which implies that the online program did not substitute for other educational options. These findings suggest that online access substantially increases the overall number of students enrolling and that the higher education market was failing to meet demand for this online option.

    READ MORE: Still little consensus on role of massive, online courses in higher education

    Blind grading of exams suggests Online Master of Science in Computer Science students learn as much as their in-person counterparts. They also persist at rates substantially higher than in many online settings, with likely degree completion rates between 60 and 90 percent. Such persistence rates among the nearly 1,200 Americans enrolling each year implies the Online Master of Science in Computer Science will produce at least 725 new American master’s degrees annually. Roughly 11,000 Americans earn their master’s degree in computer science each year, implying this single program will boost annual national production of American computer science master’s degrees by about 7 percent.

    “Online education can provide mid-career training without forcing individuals to quit their jobs or move to locations with appropriate educational institutions.”

    The researchers suggest that online programs using the low-cost, high-quality model highlighted here could tap unmet demand for skill upgrades in other fields. They note that the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign offers an online version of its MBA, that Yale is developing an online master’s degree for physician assistants and that multiple universities in the edX consortium are offering “micro-master’s” in various subjects.

    “Online education can provide mid-career training without forcing individuals to quit their jobs or move to locations with appropriate educational institutions,” they write. They point out that a key unresolved question is the effect of an online degree, relative to a traditional degree, on earnings and labor market outcomes.

    —Steve Maas, National Bureau of Economic Research

    The post Do online courses increase access to education? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) testifies before a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

    U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) testifies before a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

    Tom Price, the Georgia congressman tapped for the nation’s top health job, pressed Medicare officials on a funding change that led to a windfall for the small biotech company run by one of his top campaign contributors, according to a document released under an open records request.

    Price is facing a Senate hearing Tuesday on his nomination to be secretary of Health and Human Services, a role that would put him at the helm of an agency overseeing billions in spending. His initial hearing revealed the depth of Democratic lawmakers’ concerns about Price’s investments in health care stocks.

    The document shows for the first time the nature of the assistance Price provided for MiMedx, a firm in his district that would become a top campaign contributor, seeding his political funds with more than $40,000 in the years since Price directed the letter to Medicare officials.

    The Medicare letter that Price and seven other lawmakers sent on Oct. 9, 2013, was related to a product called EpiFix, a small graft made of pulverized placenta that’s meant to aid wound healing. Price’s signature is first on the letter, which was signed by five other physicians who are members of Congress.

    “Senate Democrats may find it significant that MiMedx only began contributing to Rep. Price after he intervened with Medicare on their behalf,” said Brett Kappel, a campaign finance lawyer in Washington. “He was the company’s congressman for 10 years before that, and no one at the company had contributed to him before the Medicare decision in the company’s favor.”

    “Senate Democrats may find it significant that MiMedx only began contributing to Rep. Price after he intervened with Medicare on their behalf. He was the company’s congressman for 10 years before that, and no one at the company had contributed to him before the Medicare decision in the company’s favor.”

    Before President Donald Trump’s swearing-in Friday, a spokesman for Trump’s transition acknowledged that Price has helped the company “in navigating regulatory waters, just as he would for any constituent.”

    A request for comment Monday directed to the HHS press office was answered by a senior communications adviser at the agency who lauded Price as a physician who is “grateful for the opportunity to bring his expertise to enacting better policies.”

    “Any suggestion that his motivations for public service have been anything other than to seek to improve the lives of the American people is simply wrong,” said Ryan Murphy, the HHS adviser, who was previously a spokesman for Price in his personal office and most recently communications director for the House Budget Committee, of which Price is chairman.

    In an emailed response to questions, MiMedx chief executive Pete Petit said Monday that the company made a presentation to the Congressional Doctors Caucus in Washington in support of Medicare’s proposed payment change, in line with the letter Price and others sent. Petit said they did so even though the proposed change was “worse for MiMedx,” but “the best policy for the industry.”

    He acknowledged, though, that the policy Medicare ultimately approved was “a win for MiMedx and the industry because the final rule amount reimbursement increased over the proposed rule amount.”

    The company makes skin grafts and injections made of placentas and amniotic membranes, which are meant to help with wound healing.

    Federal campaign finance records show MiMedx, through its political action committee, chief executive and his relatives, has contributed more than $40,000 to Price’s campaign and joint fundraising committees since 2014, with contributions starting six months after Price sent the letter. With combined PAC and individual donations, the company was ranked as Price’s top contributor for 2015-2016 by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

    “Any suggestion that his motivations for public service have been anything other than to seek to improve the lives of the American people is simply wrong.”

    The 2013 letter to then-Medicare administrator Marilyn Tavenner has strong echoes of the same concerns MiMedx executives were airing at the time. It touches on the issue of “waste” in the use of oversized grafts used to help heal wounds around the ankle and on the feet of people with diabetes. The letter says $75 million in wound grafts were wasted in 2011 because of an inefficient pricing model that paid for sections of graft that were being thrown away. It encourages Medicare to move to a new, tiered system of reimbursing for the wound grafts.

    “As stewards of our taxpaying constituents’ dollars, we are committed to ensuring public programs such as Medicare are administered in the most efficient manner,” Price and seven other congressmen wrote in the letter to Tavenner released under a records request by CQ HealthBeat. “We believe this proposal will reduce waste.”

    In an earnings call that same month, Petit reported that the company had been “quite busy in Washington meeting with Senators and Congressmen and encouraged them to support the CMS reimbursement change on skin substitutes.”

    Also that October, executives briefed investors on concerns that resemble those detailed in the lawmakers’ letter. The earnings call transcript said competitors’ grafts result in “massive wastage” that they estimate at $100 million, given that 80 percent of competitors’ grafts are discarded.

    It wasn’t long, though, before MiMedx had great news. During a Dec. 5, 2013, call with investors, the company reported that Medicare changed its wound payment policies in ways that exceeded its expectations. The changes include ending the waste and moving to a tiered payment system.

    Executive Bill Taylor estimated that doctors can pay the company $318 for a sheet of EpiFix and then bill Medicare for $1,371.19 in reimbursement. The result: Doctors who use EpiFix on patients would be able to keep about $1,000, a strong incentive to use the graft.

    “It’s a real win for MiMedx,” Petit told investors.

    The company has seen significant revenue growth, reporting in a press release that its income for 2014 — the year the Medicare pay change took effect — was $118 million, double the amount it earned the year before. Company executives have told investors the advanced wound care market is expected to be worth $1.25 billion in 2018.

    Earlier this month, Kaiser Health News reported that Petit urged employees in 2015 to contribute to its PAC as he was publicly pressing the Food and Drug Administration to change its stance on the regulation of the injection.

    An email from Petit’s address sent to managers demanded donations “IMMEDIATELY” to the company’s PAC, according to documents reviewed by KHN.

    “I’m going to ask one more time for our field management to send something to our PAC. And, IMMEDIATELY,” said the email sent under Petit’s name. “We have PAC business to transact, and we need at least 50 donors to do so.”

    The ongoing FDA scrutiny could potentially affect the company’s bottom line or lead to a recall of their injectable wound-care products, the firm told investors in 2013. The FDA declined to say whether it heard from Price about the company or to answer questions about its review of MiMedx products. Petit, a prominent businessman in the Atlanta suburbs, served as a Trump campaign finance chair in Georgia. Petit said he and his wife saw Price and his wife at an inaugural event but did not discuss MiMedx.

    The post Document reveals Trump health secretary nominee’s relationship with biotech firm appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order to advance construction of the Keystone XL pipeline at the White House in Washington, D.C.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

    U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order to advance construction of the Keystone XL pipeline at the White House in Washington, D.C. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

    President Donald Trump signed executive actions Tuesday allowing construction on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines to move forward.

    Trump said he plans to “renegotiate some of the terms” of the controversial pipelines but did not answer further questions on how he plans to advance the project, according to the Associated Press.

    President Barack Obama halted work on Keystone XL, which would run across the Canada U.S. border and, therefore, required presidential approval, in 2015 after an outcry from environmental groups.

    Those opposed to the project said it would boost extraction from Canada’s oil sands, a process that emits 14 percent more greenhouse gases than other forms of oil production. They also argued constructing a new oil pipeline would diminish America’s role as a global leader of climate change.

    For months, Native American groups and their supporters also protested the Dakota Access pipeline being laid a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and underneath the tribe’s main source of drinking water.

    Veterans join activists in a march to Backwater Bridge just outside the Oceti Sakowin camp during a snow fall as "water protectors" continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline adjacent to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., December 5, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

    Veterans join activists in a march to Backwater Bridge just outside the Oceti Sakowin camp during a snow fall as “water protectors” continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline adjacent to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

    In response, Obama ordered a comprehensive environmental review of the Dakota Access pipeline before the its final section could be built. The Army Corps of Engineers also agreed to look for alternative routes.

    Trump on Tuesday said he wanted to expedite such environmental reviews.

    “The process is so long and cumbersome that they give up before the end. Sometimes it takes many, many years and we don’t want that to happen,” Trump said.

    “The process is so long and cumbersome that they give up before the end. Sometimes it takes many, many years and we don’t want that to happen.”

    The president also signed an order mandating pipelines built in the U.S. use American steel.

    Opponents of the pipelines immediately criticized the president’s actions.

    “The executive orders demonstrate that this administration is more than willing to violate federal law that is meant to protect indigenous rights,” Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, said in a statement. “These attacks will not be ignored, our resistance is stronger than ever before and we are prepared to push back at any reckless decision made by this administration.”

    In response to the president’s executive action, Standing Rock protesters said via Twitter: “Creating a second Flint does not make America great again.”

    Trump’s cabinet picks have signaled he will take a friendly approach to oil companies. Rick Perry, Trump’s choice for Energy Secretary, sat on the board of Sunoco Logistics and Energy Transfer Partners, the two pipeline firms funding Dakota Access.

    The president also selected Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, and his nominee for Interior Secretary, Rep. Ryan Zinke, has voiced his support for the Keystone XL pipeline.

    The post Trump signs order to advance Keystone XL and Dakota pipelines appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks while signing executive orders at the White House in Washington January 24, 2017.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks while signing executive orders at the White House in Washington January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

    The Trump administration has instituted a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants.

    Emails sent to EPA staff since President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday and reviewed by The Associated Press detailed the specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency’s social media accounts.

    The Trump administration has also ordered a “temporary suspension” of all new business activities at the department, including issuing task orders or work assignments to EPA contractors. The orders are expected to have a significant and immediate impact on EPA activities nationwide.

    The EPA did not respond to phone calls and emails requesting comment Monday or Tuesday.

    The post Trump issues EPA media blackout and suspends agency’s grants appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) in LA LA LAND. Credit: Dale Robinette.

    Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) in the movie ‘La La Land.’ Photo by Dale Robinette.

    How much work goes into a best original song or score?  “La La Land” composer Justin Hurwitz, who received Oscar nominations for both original score and two original songs this morning, and already won both prizes at the Golden Globes, said it required years of work at pianos and synthesizers, and the creation of hundreds, if not thousands, of piano demos.

    “For each theme or melody, I go down a lot of roads, and go through many different demos,” he told the NewsHour, often sitting at the piano from the moment he woke up until he went to bed, which in the final polish of the score often meant four in the morning. “I sit there until I feel like I have something very good. Then I record it, email it to Damien [Chazelle, La La La Land’s director], and if he says no, I keep going… and going.”

    Such was the process for most of Hurwitz’s songs in the romantic breakout musical, which tells the love story of Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz pianist who wants to open his own jazz club. In the end, Hurwitz had pulled 1,900 demos into his iTunes library for the film, each with many variations.

    “I connected very much to [Mia’s] character in the story… because of so many years of not being able to get this movie made.”

    One song that went through multiple melodies was “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” which was today nominated for an Oscar for best original song.

    In the film, Mia sings “Audition” for her last audition before giving up her acting dream altogether. The song tells the story of how her aunt, who introduced Mia to Hollywood films, was herself a dreamer, having once jumped brazenly into the river Seine.

    Hurwitz said he began composing “Audition,” back in 2011, after Chazelle had finished the screenplay for “La La Land.” But the musical stalled for years,  as it struggled to get studio funding for a genre considered nearly extinct. When it was finally picked up in 2014, Chazelle sent Hurwitz back to the drawing board with several songs — “Audition” included. This time, the melody for “Audition” came to him quickly, something he said never happens.

    “I think because it had been percolating for so long, and because by that point I had such a connection to the story,” he said. “I connected very much to [Mia’s] character in the story… and the idea of being frustrated and not being able to do what you can do, and make what you want to make, because of so many years of not being able to get this movie made.”

    Justin Hurwitz/Ryan Gosling – Photo Credit: Dale Robinette/Lionsgate

    Ryan Gosling with Justin Hurwitz – Photo Credit: Dale Robinette/Lionsgate

    As Hurwitz composed what would become the final version of “Audition,” he thought carefully about the shape of the scene, which begins with Mia telling the casting agents about her aunt, and then transitions to a tribute to all dreamers. The second stanza of the song begins: “She smiled / Leapt, without looking / And She tumbled into the Seine!” while the third starts very differently: “Here’s to the ones / who dream / Foolish, as they may seem.”

    “It switches from ‘she’ to ‘we,’ and I thought that was a brilliant and beautiful switch in the lyrics,” said Hurwitz, which he wanted reflected in the larger shape of the song. And so the song “starts smaller, then it swells and becomes anthemic,” he said. “By the final chorus Mia is belting it.”

    The song closes with Mia singing quietly as she did at the start.

    Once Hurwitz had finally finished a piano demo he and Chazelle were happy with, he gave it to lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. After the lyrics were written, Hurwitz orchestrated it. The vocals were recorded live on set to just a piano track, without orchestration, while Hurwitz played piano as Stone sang. The orchestration was recorded in post production.

    Listen to the demo, see the orchestration, and hear final version of the song, below.

    Demo:

    Orchestration:

    La La Land’s “Audition” by PBS NewsHour on Scribd

    Final song:

    The post Inside ‘La La Land’s’ ‘Audition,’ and what it takes to compose an Oscar-nominated song appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Wealthy private colleges are under pressure to enroll more low-income students. Four schools are looking to be a model. Photo by Ithaca College.

    Wealthy private colleges: Large endowments, few low-income students. It’s a rare instance of a stereotype matching available data.

    Generally, despite their prosperity, rich colleges don’t give many students of lesser means a shot at an elite, private education.

    “I don’t think it’s really that difficult for most of us on the college side to
    know where low-income students are. I think it’s the will to go out and
    pursue those students actively.” — Tim Brunold, USC’s dean of admissions

    But there are private institutions that buck this trend. At Williams College, a highly selective liberal arts college in rural Massachusetts, 22 percent of its roughly 2,000 students last academic year received Pell Grants — federal aid typically for students from families earning less than $40,000 a year. And Williams reported that its most recent six-year graduation rate for Pell students was 90 percent — nearly 40 points above the national average.

    Williams is rare. Nearly half of the nation’s wealthy private colleges and universities enroll so few Pell recipients that they would rank in the bottom five percent of schools enrolling such students. At many such institutions, the low-income students who do enroll graduate at far lower rates than their wealthier peers.

    The Hechinger Report examined four high-flying colleges with large endowments (together totaling more than $9 billion) that have high Pell-recipient enrollment rates and high completion rates. The colleges — Denison University in central Ohio, Grinnell College in rural Iowa, the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and Williams — can provide a blueprint for well-heeled institutions that currently enroll low percentages of low-income students.

    Now may be a good time for colleges to learn from their peers. Last month former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg kicked off a “pledge drive” called the American Talent Initiative to get 270 colleges with high graduation rates to boost their Pell enrollment figures by more than 10 percent in the next decade. Congress is watching, too; last year it asked 56 elite private colleges to submit documents showing how many of their endowment dollars go toward financial aid, a sign that federal lawmakers are reconsidering whether these institutions should sit atop hundreds of billions of dollars tax-free.

    The four colleges examined here reported the following:

    – Denison’s Pell student enrollment rate for the 2014-15 academic year was 19 percent; in 2016, 80 percent of its Pell students graduated after just four years on campus.

    – Nearly a quarter of Grinnell’s students now receive Pell Grants, and its within-six-years graduation rate for Pell students ranged from 75 to 85 percent over the past three years.

    – USC’s Pell enrollment rate is now 21 percent, and its most recent six-year graduation rate for Pell students is 90 percent.

    – Williams, with a student body that is 22 percent Pell recipients, also helps 90 percent of those students graduate within six years.

    While they differ in size and strategies, all four colleges have Pell enrollment rates well above the average among private colleges with large endowments; all spend substantially on low-income student recruitment and financial aid; and all have high success rates in guiding their Pell students through to timely graduation.

    Asked what he thought of colleges with billion-dollar endowments and paltry Pell enrollment rates, Grinnell’s dean, Michael Latham, said: “I think they have work to do. I would encourage them to think seriously about the way they understand their mission, and think seriously about the broader contributions that we can make.”

    Finding the students
    Recruiting academically talented low-income students is expensive, in part because institutional budgets tend to rely on students who can pay close to the sticker price of attendance. To attract more students from humble origins, colleges must consider it integral to their identity, leaders from the four colleges said.

    “I think to do this requires a very strong institutional commitment, not just from a philosophical point of view, but also from a financial point of view,” said Richard Nesbitt, director of admission at Williams. “Having a strong endowment certainly helps.”

    Yet for all the wealth possessed by the four schools featured here, the biggest impact comes from regular interpersonal connections with prospective low-income students, their leaders said.

    Related: Are these the real heroes stepping up to get college knowledge to students who want and need it?

    In addition to visiting high schools across the country during college fairs and information sessions, Williams spends $250,000 per year on airfare to bring high-performing, low-income high school students to campus in the fall of their senior years, said Elizabeth Creighton, deputy director of admission. The college invites 50,000 to 60,000 low-income students a year to apply for the program, called Windows on Williams. Creighton said 1,700 ultimately apply and 200 are admitted to “spend three days, all expenses paid, meeting with faculty, staying in dorms, attending classes, doing workshops focused on admission and financial aid.”

    “Your first touch may have to be in the third grade, because you may
    have to build these mentoring pipelines from very early on.” Michael
    Quick — provost of USC

    Those not invited to Windows on Williams are offered an opportunity to spend 30 minutes on the phone with admissions officers to discuss the details of the college-application process. In the spring, a similar program is offered for low-income students who’ve been admitted; the college provides grants for parents to visit, too. Last year, 170 students took up that offer, Creighton said.

    Similarly, Denison administrators report spending $160,000 a year financing the trek for low-income high school students to visit the campus for two days.

    USC officials said that they don’t fly visiting students to the campus, but they send admissions officers to more than 2,000 high schools across the country — and start looking for potentially talented youngsters as early as elementary school.

    “Your first touch may have to be in the third grade, because you may have to build these mentoring pipelines from very early on,” said Michael Quick, provost of USC, which has an endowment of more than $4 billion.

    Like other institutions, USC uses data from the College Board’s Enrollment Planning Service — a tool that allows colleges to search for talented low-income students by region and even by high school.

    “I don’t think it’s really that difficult for most of us on the college side to know where low-income students are; I think it’s the will to go out and pursue those students actively,” said Tim Brunold, USC’s dean of admission. He added that a third of the roughly 4,500 new students USC enrolls each year are transfer students, 60 percent of them from community colleges. Among USC’s community college transfers, nearly half received Pell Grants in 2015, its financial aid office said.

    Grinnell offers free bus rides to its campus and other perquisites to talented low-income students from Chicago and elsewhere — before they start their college applications. “Almost half of the students … in our applicant pool were domestic students of color,” said Joe Bagnoli, Grinnell’s dean of admission and financial aid.

    Bagnoli recently completed a 34-school recruiting swing through Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Among his stops was Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, a high school where more than half the students receive federal school lunch subsidies.

    “You don’t go to those places if what you’re trying to do is work on revenue goals,” said Bagnoli.

    Colleges lacking the wherewithal to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on travel budgets or tuition discounts can partner with nonprofits like College Match in Los Angeles and Chicago Scholars that develop mentoring relationships with talented low-income students while they’re in high school.

    Related: New programs use data to steer poor kids into college

    Colleges can also nurture home-grown talent, USC’s Quick said. “There’s going to be plenty of students right in any area where a university happens to be located that they can start forming these alliances with,” he said. “You don’t have to go all over the world to do this.”

    Affording low-income students
    The four colleges profiled here also reported spending significant amounts on financial aid.

    – Grinnell spends about $48 million a year on financial aid for its roughly 1,600 students, $17 million of it on low-income students. (About 13 percent of Grinnell students pay full price, according to the college; Bagnoli, citing an internal analysis of federal data, said that at the typical elite private college, close to half those enrolled pay full freight.)

    – Denison awarded more than $57.5 million in financial aid in the 2015-2016 academic year for its 2,265 undergraduates, up from about $52 million the year before.

    – USC spends more than $300 million a year on financial aid for its 19,000 undergraduates.

    – Williams commits $50 million to financial aid each year for its 2,019 undergraduates.

    But financial aid alone doesn’t cover all the costs of adding more students of modest means. Were small private colleges like Denison, Grinnell and Williams to enroll even more low-income students, they’d first need to absorb other significant expenses.

    “Enrolling more students, as a residential college, it’s not as simple as us pulling another chair into a classroom: We have to have a bed for everybody,” said Gregory Sneed, Denison’s first vice president for enrollment management. “It would be a substantial capital investment.”

    Plus, with spaces limited, enrolling more low-income students would require displacing other students. Sneed said that Denison has an almost even split of low-, middle- and upper-income students, a type of diversity of which the college is proud.

    Related: New supports for first-gen students: Helpful or just ‘a drop in the bucket’?

    Similarly, Grinnell’s freshman class has as many students coming from households earning less than $55,000 as it does students coming from homes with incomes above $160,000, according to data provided by the school. Another reason to maintain the balance of middle- and high-income students is that it can help the college’s bottom line.

    “We are unusual among institutions in our category, because we do offer merit aid,” said Bagnoli. Colleges that give merit aid do so in part to entice students from higher-income families who can afford a higher share of the total cost of attendance.

    For Grinnell students who do take out federal loans and graduate, the typical debt is $11,000 — less than half that of the average student nationally in 2015.

    Addressing low-income students’ unique needs
    Once low-income students are enrolled, colleges can make certain adjustments to try to ensure their well-being — often at little cost. Two years ago, Denison conducted detailed interviews with 15 students to determine “What are the things that we don’t know about that students are encountering?” said Laurel Kennedy, the university’s vice president for student development. The school learned a lot.

    Low-income students were frustrated about getting admonishing emails from the university for exceeding the 10-hour maximum of on-campus work per week. Kennedy called them “nasty grams.” And some low-income students complained about the lack of good options for staying on campus during Thanksgiving break. With the university closing over the long weekend to save on energy costs, “if students absolutely had to stay on campus, we would require them to move into a different residence hall that had been designated for break housing,” she said. “They could either borrow a room from a friend who lived in that hall or we would set them up to sleep in lounge spaces.”

    Denison shared the survey’s results during campus meetings with students, faculty and staff. Then Kennedy’s team set out to find solutions.

    The university tweaked its campus-employment policy so that students can work a total of 300 hours a year and manage their schedules weekly. If students need more hours, they can have those conversations with the right staff. Once administrators knew what to look for, “this was so simple to do,” Kennedy said.

    Denison also learned that it saves very little money by shutting down for Thanksgiving break. Now, students who cannot afford to fly home during the most expensive travel days of the year can make online requests to a housing coordinator to stay on campus in their regular rooms. So that they don’t have to repeat the rigmarole, their information is saved for future requests.

    The university also introduced an emergency grant called Red Thread that doles out up to $300 to help students who need eyeglasses or dental work, for example. The funds are distributed based on the students’ financial aid situation — those with higher need usually receive larger emergency grants.

    And Denison provides free textbooks to low-income students (Williams does the same).

    Still, enrolling the right students counts for much of a college’s success.

    “I would speculate that the best predictor of graduation rate is the quality of your incoming student,” said USC’s Quick. “We supplement that with things that we can do to make sure that students even have that much more of an advantage, and can thrive.”

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

    The post How can wealthy private colleges better serve low-income students? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters while signing executive orders Jan. 24 at the White House in Washington, D.C. He told reporters he would officially name his choice for the Supreme Court vacancy next week. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters while signing executive orders Jan. 24 at the White House in Washington, D.C. He told reporters he would officially name his choice for the Supreme Court vacancy next week. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has narrowed his choice to fill the Supreme Court vacancy to three judges and said he expects to make his decision in the coming days.

    A person familiar with the selection process said that the three judges, all white men who sit on federal appeals courts, were on the list of 21 potential high court picks Trump announced during the presidential campaign.

    The leading contenders—who all have met with Trump—are William Pryor, Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman, the person said, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to speak publicly about internal decisions.

    Pryor, 54, is an Alabama-based judge on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Gorsuch, 49, is on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Hardiman, 51, sits on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pittsburgh. All three were nominated by President George W. Bush for their current posts.

    Trump has promised to seek someone in the mold of conservative icon Antonin Scalia, who died nearly a year ago after serving on the Supreme Court for more than 29 years. Senate Republicans prevented President Barack Obama from filling the seat, a political gamble that paid off when Trump was elected.

    Trump was scheduled to meet later Tuesday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein to discuss the court vacancy. McConnell wrote on Twitter, “I appreciate his soliciting our advice.” Trump said he plans to announce his choice next week.

    McConnell led the Senate in refusing to even to consider Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to take Scalia’s seat, announcing on the night that Scalia died that the vacancy should be filled not by Obama, but by the next president.

    Schumer, D-N.Y., told PBS Newshour if President Trump nominates someone from the “far right,” Senate Democrats “will oppose [the pick] with everything we have.”

    WATCH: Sen. Schumer on Democratic opposition under Trump

    Of the three leading candidates, only Pryor faced significant opposition to his appellate nomination. Senate Democrats refused to allow a vote on Pryor’s nomination, leading Bush initially to give Pryor a temporary recess appointment. In 2005, the Senate confirmed him 53-45, after senators reached an agreement to curtail delaying tactics for appellate judgeships.

    Gorsuch was approved by a voice vote in 2006. Schumer and Feinstein were among the 95 senators who voted for Hardiman’s confirmation in 2007. Hardiman is a colleague of Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry.

    Trump praised the candidates on his roster after signing several executive actions on Tuesday in the Oval Office. “We have outstanding candidates,” the president said. “And we’ll pick a truly great Supreme Court justice.”

    He said he would be making a decision this week, and announce it next week.


    Associated Press writer Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.

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    Some hospitals are changing their policies to advise emergency room doctors that opioids should only be prescribed if other medications fail. Photo by Flickr user Frankie Leon , via Creative Commons.

    Some hospitals are changing their policies to advise emergency room doctors that opioids should only be prescribed if other medications fail. Photo by Flickr user Frankie Leon , via Creative Commons.


    Dr. Phillip Chang’s emergency room epiphany started with a wreck.

    A patient admitted to the trauma unit of the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital was prescribed opioid painkillers for injuries he sustained in a nasty car crash. Within days, the patient returned for more pills, the first of many trips to multiple doctors.“This guy was not a substance abuser before,” Chang said. “Because of the pain medicine, he became one. We asked ourselves: Were we responsible for it?”

    The incident prompted the emergency department to issue new guidelines that opioids be prescribed only as a last resort. It has worked so well in the past two years that Chang, now UK HealthCare’s chief medical officer, is hoping to roll out the same protocols in 10 health systems across the state, which could change practices in dozens of hospitals.

    Similar changes are sweeping the nation. With heroin deaths now surpassing gun homicides, hospitals have been rewriting protocols and retraining staff to minimize prescriptions of narcotic painkillers.

    Emergency departments, in particular, feel a heavy responsibility to take action: Collectively, they’re one of the top prescribers of opioids nationwide, behind family and internal medicine practices.

    And so, this month in eastern Mississippi, Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle began limiting opioid pain medication only to patients in the most acute pain. St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in New Jersey, which has one of the nation’s biggest emergency departments, is pushing to replace opioids whenever possible with less addictive treatments, like nerve blocks to dull pain. The center has even hired a harpist to fill the noisy halls with calmer notes.

    It’s all part of a push “to stem the tide of the opioid epidemic,” said Dr. Jay Bhatt, chief medical officer of the American Hospital Association.

    But it’s not always easy.

    READ MORE: A ‘civil war’ over painkillers rips apart the medical community — and leaves patients in fear

    “Patients say, ‘Doc, I want the strongest thing you’ve got,’” said Dr. Daniel del Portal, an assistant professor of clinical emergency medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia. “But patients don’t always understand the risk the strongest pain medicine can create. Patients don’t appreciate that until it’s too late.”

    At the UK hospital in Lexington, Ky., Chang said the philosophy used to be to give an opioid painkiller right off the bat. And then, he said, “we’d just give more of it.” Slowly, he got doctors, pharmacists, and nurses on board with using non-opioid pain relievers like Advil or Tylenol first, and trying multiple regimens before finally considering something stronger. He also trained them on how to explain the shift to patients.

    “Sometimes it’s impossible to bring pain to zero,” Chang said. “But we’re trying to make it tolerable.”

    Since 2014, Chang gathered data on 900 patients treated after the new policies were implemented. He was surprised at what he found.

    The trauma unit managed to nearly halve the amount of opioids administered to patients who had no prior history of chronic opioid use. That might be helpful in a state that had the third-highest death rate from drug overdose in 2015.

    However, the new guidelines had little impact on prescriptions for patients who were already chronic opioid users prior to admission. So UK has stepped up training to help emergency physicians, who are often focused on the immediate need to save a life, to think more for the long term. That might mean prescribing fewer opioids for drug-dependent patients and guiding them toward substance abuse treatment when they’re ready to be discharged.

    Chang plans to roll out these new practices across other units of the hospital and then, if all goes well, take them to the statewide alliance of health care networks.

    “Everyone of us needs to feel like we’re responsible,” he said. “The feeling of, ‘I’m not an addiction specialist; that’s not my problem’ has to go away.”

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Jan. 23, 2017. Find the original story here.

    The post Opioids as a first response to pain? Hospitals are rethinking that policy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Donald Trump holds up a signed executive order to advance construction of the Dakota Access pipeline Jan. 24 at the White House in Washington, D.C.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

    President Donald Trump holds up a signed executive order to advance construction of the Dakota Access pipeline Jan. 24 at the White House in Washington, D.C. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

    On working day two of the Trump administration, it seems worthwhile to set aside the highwire battles over words and inauguration crowd size and look at the concrete actions President Trump has taken to launch his presidency.

    President Trump has taken 10 executive actions since entering office. They largely fall in line with the “Contract with the American Voter” blueprint his campaign released last October, which laid out Trump’s vision for his first 100 days in office.

    Here’s the list of Trump’s executive actions so far.

    1. ACA rollback. Mr. Trump has allowed all agency heads to waive requirements of the Affordable Care Act to the “maximum extent permitted by law.”

    2. Regulation freeze. The president has frozen all regulations now in process (but not approved) until they are approved by him or an agency after he took office. This means any regulation signed by former President Barack Obama in his final weeks in office — including some that deal with energy efficiency standards — are on hold until they’re reviewed by Trump’s administration.

    3. Abortion. President Trump has ordered that federal dollars cannot go to organizations that provide abortion services.

    4. TPP. This memorandum withdraws the United States from all Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and from signing the trade deal.

    5. Federal hiring freeze. The president has told agencies they cannot fill any vacant positions nor open new ones, with two exceptions: military personnel and critical public safety positions.

    6 + 7. Allowing Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines. We are still awaiting details on the language and scope of this action, but President Trump told reporters his actions today make construction of the controversial pipelines easier.

    8. Pipelines must hire American. As above, we are waiting to see specifics, but the president told reporters his action requires that pipelines be built by American workers.

    9. Expediting permits for infrastructure. Again, we don’t have specifics yet. But this action seems aimed at making high-priority infrastructure get through permitting procedures more quickly.

    10. Speeding up environmental review/regulation. The White House has not yet posted the language of this action, which the White House says is aimed at expediting the environmental review process for some projects.

    The post The 10 executive actions Trump has signed (so far) appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    In 1992, Norman Brown was convicted on six counts for the distribution of cocaine. In accordance with mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, the 22-year-old received three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. In July 2015, after nearly 25 years in prison, President Obama approved Brown’s request for clemency.

    Brown is among 1,927 people granted clemency by President Obama during his two terms, a vast majority of whom were originally convicted for nonviolent drug crimes.

    Now Brown faces a new challenge – adjusting to life outside prison.

    Part of his new life involves working with a group of young adults who are also transitioning back into the world — after juvenile detention.

    “They’re full of energy, and they’re full of passion, and they’re full of self-hate, and I want to try to help them to understand to grow to love themselves because you can’t love nobody else until you begin to love yourself, and they haven’t even been exposed to love,” Brown told NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan before entering a meeting with the young people at the Department for Youth Rehabilitation Services, where he volunteers.

    For more on Brown, his thoughts on living in prison, mandatory minimum sentence guidelines and helping troubled youth, watch the video above.

    For a more in-depth view on Norman Brown, clemency, and the Obama administration’s legacy surrounding criminal justice, watch Hari’s report here.

    The post Granted clemency, this former inmate is starting over appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Donald Trump signed executive actions Tuesday allowing construction on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines to move forward. Follow all our coverage.

    The post Follow our coverage of the Dakota Access pipeline appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) listens to opening remarks prior to testifying before a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be Health and Human Services secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria  - RTSX53O

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JOHN YANG: On Capitol Hill today, it was another marathon round of confirmation hearings for President Trump’s Cabinet nominees. His head to pick the Department of Health and Human Services, Georgia congressman Tom Price, took his turn before the Senate Finance Committee.

    Just like last week, the physician lawmaker faced tough questioning on what is going to happen as the administration moves to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

    Last week, Mr. Trump signed an executive order allowing the administration to delay, waive or change parts of the law that are too much of a burden. Senators wanted to know what that means, starting with Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden.

    SEN. RON WYDEN, D-Ore.: Will you guarantee that no one will lose coverage under the executive order?

    REP. TOM PRICE, Health and Human Services Secretary Nominee: I guarantee you that the individuals that lost coverage under the Affordable Care Act, we will commit to making certain that they don’t lose coverage under whatever replacement plan comes forward. That’s the commitment that I provide to you.

    SEN. RON WYDEN: The question again is, will anyone lose coverage? And you answered to something I didn’t ask. Will you commit to not implementing the order until the replacement plan is in place?

    REP. TOM PRICE: What I commit to the American people is to keep patients at the center of health care. And what that means to me is making certain that every single American has access to affordable health coverage that will provide the highest-quality health care that the world can provide.

    SEN. RON WYDEN: I’m going to close by way of saying that what the congressman is saying is that the order could go into effect before there is a replacement plan. And independent experts say that this is going to destroy the market on which millions of working families buy health coverage.

    And on the questions that I ask, will the congressman commit that nobody will be worse off, nobody will lose coverage, we didn’t get an answer.

    JOHN YANG: Senators also tried find out what role Price was playing in crafting the president’s health care alternative, but didn’t have much success.

    Not far from Price’s hearing, the Senate Budget Committee grilled the president’s pick to head the Office of Management and Budget.

    Lisa Desjardins has that story.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Congressman Mick Mulvaney was introduced at this morning’s hearing as a vigilant budget hawk. The staunch conservative is President Trump’s choice to lead the White House Budget Office.

    REP. MICK MULVANEY, Budget Director Nominee: I believe, as a matter of principle, that the debt is a problem that must be addressed sooner rather than later. I also know that fundamental changes are necessary in the way Washington spends and taxes if we truly want a healthy economy.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Mulvaney was elected as a South Carolina representative in 2010 in the Tea Party wave. He told senators today that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security need significant changes to be preserved for the future.

    But Mr. Trump used different words when he spoke to the conservative news site The Daily Signal in May of 2015.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I’m not going to cut Social Security, like every other Republican, and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders pressed Mulvaney on the contrast.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, I-Vt.: Will you tell the president of the United States, Mr. President, keep your word, be honest with the American people, do not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

    REP. MICK MULVANEY: The only thing I know to do is to tell the president the truth. And the truth is that, if we do not reform these programs that are so important to your constituents in Vermont, and to mine in South Carolina, I believe in nine or 10 years, the Medicaid trust fund is empty. In roughly in 17 or 18 years, the Social Security trust fund is empty.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The sustainability of Social Security also came up in an exchange between Mulvaney and fellow South Carolinian Lindsey Graham.

    SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Would you agree with me that, for younger workers, they may have to work longer before they enter the program, to save the program?

    REP. MICK MULVANEY: I have already told my children to prepare for exactly that.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Mulvaney said he doesn’t want to cut entitlements for people already receiving benefits. And he said he agrees with President Trump’s plan to boost the Pentagon’s budget.

    That issue and Mulvaney’s record on the military came up during his second hearing this afternoon, before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Arizona: What’s the highest priority, reducing the debt or rebuilding the military?

    REP. MICK MULVANEY: The number one priority of the United States government is to defend the nation.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: That’s nice to hear that you believe they’re important, because you have spent your entire congressional career pitting the debt against our military, and each time, at least for you, our military was less important.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The nominee was also forced to answer for his failure years ago to pay more than $15,000 in payroll taxes for a household worker. Mulvaney said it was a mistake.

    REP. MICK MULVANEY: It was a young woman who did not live with us, did not teach the children, did not cook or clean. She helped my wife with the children.

    And we did not withhold federal taxes. And, honestly, I didn’t think about it again until December. It was my responsibility. But once it was brought to my attention, I did the only thing I know to do, which is simply be straightforward about it, admit the problem and then try to fix it.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Some Democrats have said that error is disqualifying. And nominees have confronted similar issues in the past. Two of President Clinton’s picks for attorney general, Kimba Wood and Zoe Baird, withdrew for a failure to pay taxes on household help.

    That led to revelations that two already confirmed secretaries, Ron Brown and Federico Peña, had also failed to pay employee taxes. And in 2009, tax concerns sank Tom Daschle, President Obama’s choice for the Health and Human Services Department. But Tim Geithner was confirmed as treasury secretary that year, despite not paying all of his personal taxes.

    And Mulvaney was also pressed on the 2013 government shutdown. He was one of the conservatives who said it was worth not compromising and allowing the showdown to make their point about the Affordable Care Act, which he wanted to repeal.

    One thing, though, Republicans say, despite all of the pressing from Democrats, they think all of these nominees will ultimately be confirmed, John, even as we see some of the votes continue to be postponed in hearings. John, it’s really a question of Republicans, they say, of not if, but when.

    JOHN YANG: Lisa, one big nomination that President Trump says he is going to make next week is to the Supreme Court. There was a meeting at the White House with Senate leaders to talk about it.

    What are you hearing about that meeting?

    LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right.

    We’re hearing it was a short meeting. I have multiple sources, Republican and Democrat, telling me it lasted about 30 minutes. From the Republican side, we get one version. Chuck Grassley sent out a statement to us saying that it was a step in the right direction, that it was productive and frank.

    But, John, Democrats say simply that it was a chance for them to state their belief that this Supreme Court nominee must be from the mainstream. How I read that, both sides are honestly gearing for a potential very large fight.

    And talking to senators in the hallway today, John, you could tell Republicans are brace themselves for the possibility that they may not be able to get 60 votes, which is the requirement right now for a Supreme Court nominee. And they seem to be considering a discussion over changing that rule down to 50. That will be a monumental change, and it seems like it might be ahead.

    JOHN YANG: And, Lisa, give us an update on what is also ahead on the big Trump goal on the Hill, which is to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Right.

    We have some deadlines coming up on that in just a couple of days. On Friday, that’s the deadline for committees to put in their language essentially for what the repeal should look like. That’s not the replacement. The replacement, meanwhile, will also be a huge topic of conversation, perhaps the biggest topic of conversation, when House and Senate Republicans go to Philadelphia starting tomorrow for their retreat.

    This is going to be where they lay out their game plan for the entire year. And at the very top of the agenda, Republicans will try to work out amongst themselves how they want to deal with the Obamacare replacement.

    JOHN YANG: And another Trump priority that a lot of people thought the Democrats on the Hill might be able to work with them on was the infrastructure project. And I understand that the Democrats had something to say about that today.

    LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right.

    Democrats agree, we also want to expand American infrastructure and do more on it. But that’s where the agreement ends. Democrats’ proposal today is a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. The difference, it seems, John is potentially how they would pay for it. Democrats say they would like to close tax loopholes.

    We’re waiting to see what President Trump proposes, how large his infrastructure plan is. But already Republicans say on the Hill say no way to the way Democrats are going. They instead want just a straight spending plan. Republicans want to have tax credits that would go more to businesses, rather than just hiring for paving highways and such.

    So they agree on one thing, that America needs more roads and bridges, but they certainly disagree on how to do it.

    JOHN YANG: And, Lisa, the Republicans complained a lot about President Obama’s executive actions. We have had a lot of executive actions from President Trump so far. What’s been the reaction on the Hill?

    LISA DESJARDINS: This has been such an interesting storyline today, John.

    For the most part, Republicans are of course happy with some of these executive actions, things like the Keystone pipeline in Canada. That’s something that they have pushed for.

    But, if you look at the details of these executive actions, specifically another one on pipelines, today, President Trump asked the Commerce Department to come up with a plan that would ensure that pipelines all be made from American-built products, so American steel, essentially.

    That’s something he talked about in the campaign, but it’s something that House Speaker Ryan himself took out of a bill formally. Not all Republicans like that idea. They’re not all sure it’s good for business.

    JOHN YANG: Lisa Desjardins, just outside the House chamber, thank you very much.

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    U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order to advance construction of the Keystone XL pipeline at the White House in Washington January 24, 2017.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTSX5MI

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    JOHN YANG: Good evening. I’m John Yang. Judy Woodruff is away.

    On the NewsHour tonight: While President Trump signs another flurry of executive actions, the Senate grills his picks to run the nation’s budget and health care.

    Then: life after the presidency, a look at the second acts of ex-presidents after leaving the highest office.

    And Jeffrey Brown sits down with the director of “La La Land” to talk how the unconventional musical is ushering the past into the modern age.

    DAMIEN CHAZELLE, Director, “La La Land”: If you want to actually help an art form, or sort of contribute to it in some ways, you have to find a way to add something new. You have to update it.

    JOHN YANG: All that and more on tonight’s PBS NewsHour.

    (BREAK)

    JOHN YANG: Another busy day at the Trump White House today, with the new president undoing more of the Obama legacy. This time, the focus was on hotly debated plans for moving oil across the country.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We will see if we can get that pipeline built.

    JOHN YANG: With the stroke of a pen, President Trump breathed new life into two major pipeline projects: the Keystone XL, running from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska, which then-President Obama halted in late 2015, and the Dakota Access pipeline, for which the Army Corps of Engineers decided last year to explore alternate routes across North Dakota.

    On Keystone, Mr. Trump directed the State Department to rule on a new application for the 1,100-mile pipeline within 60 days after it’s submitted.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: A lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs, great construction jobs. OK, Keystone pipeline.

    JOHN YANG: The Dakota pipeline has triggered protests from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others, who say it endangers cultural sites and drinking water. Mr. Trump ordered that all new pipelines be constructed with U.S.-made steel. The president also moved today to speed up the environmental review process for infrastructure projects, as well as the permitting process for manufacturers.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Sometimes, it takes many, many years, and we don’t want that to happen. And if it’s a no, we will give them a quick no. And if it’s a yes, it’s like, let’s start building.

    JOHN YANG: Cutting red tape was a topic at a breakfast meeting with auto executives.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It’s out of control, and we’re going to make it a very short process. And we’re going to either give you your permits or we’re not going to give you your permits. But you’re going to know very quickly.

    JOHN YANG: That drew praise from GM CEO Mary Barra.

    MARY BARRA, CEO, General Motors: There is a huge opportunity, you know, working together as an industry with government, that we can do and improve the environment, improve safety and improve the jobs creation and the competitiveness of manufacturing.

    JOHN YANG: Meanwhile, Mr. Trump had news on making a nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I will be making my decision this week. We will be announcing next week.

    JOHN YANG: Later, he huddled with Senate leaders to discuss the year-old court vacancy. He also sat down with Mike Pompeo, the newly confirmed CIA director. And there were reports that he’s asking James Comey to stay on as FBI director.

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer wouldn’t confirm that, but he did discuss the president’s belief, which he repeated to congressional leaders on Monday, that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote because of ballot fraud.

    SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: The president does believe that. He’s stated that before. And I think he stated his concerns of voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign. And he continues to maintain that belief, based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him.

    JOHN YANG: Election officials across the country say there is no evidence to support the claim.

    Meanwhile, President Trump will address a joint session of Congress on February 28.

    On Capitol Hill, four more of Mr. Trump’s Cabinet-level nominees advanced. Committee approved Dr. Ben Carson to be secretary of housing and urban development, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to be commerce secretary, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to be ambassador to the United Nations, and for secretary of transportation, Elaine Chao, a former labor secretary. Late this afternoon, the full Senate confirmed Ambassador Haley.

    Mr. Trump’s nominee to run the Small Business Administration says her experience building World Wrestling Entertainment, or the WWE, is just what’s needed for the job. Linda McMahon also told her confirmation hearing today that she and her husband once lost their home to bankruptcy, and she said, “I know what it’s like to take a hit.”

    British Prime Minister Theresa May will have to get Parliament’s approval before she starts the process of withdrawing from the European Union. The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court ruled today that May doesn’t have the authority to do it on her own. As a result, the government told the House of Commons it will rush legislation to approve the beginning the Brexit process.

    David Davis, Brexit Secretary: That is what the British people voted for, and it is what they would expect. Parliament will rightly scrutinize and debate this legislation, but I trust no one will seek to make it a vehicle for attempts to thwart the will of the people, or frustrate or delay the process of leaving the European Union.

    JOHN YANG: Lawmakers will have a chance to offer amendments to that legislation and on worker rights and other issues, and that could delay Brexit.

    The Israeli government has announced plans to build 2,500 more homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. It’s the second such move since President Trump took office. He has indicated he will be much more receptive to settlement expansion than President Obama was. Israel says the new homes will be in existing settlements that they would retain in any peace deal with the Palestinians. A Palestinian spokesman condemned the announcement.

    Russia, Turkey and Iran pledged today to shore up a fragile cease-fire between the Syrian regime and rebel groups. The announcement came at the conclusion of peace talks hosted in Kazakstan. The opposition quickly objected to Iran’s involvement because of its battlefield support for Syria ‘s government, but the U.N. envoy called for restraint.

    STAFFAN DE MISTURA, Special United Nations Envoy for Syria: We cannot allow another cease-fire, a third one, to be, in a way, wasted because of a lack of a political process. So, now is the time for the international community, in all its dimensions, to come together and support one integrated political negotiating process, based also on the help of this remarkable moment that we had today.

    JOHN YANG: The United States did not take part in the parts.

    In Central Italy, search teams found 10 more bodies in a hotel wrecked by an avalanche last week. That brings to 17 the number killed when the wall of snow smashed into the site. Rescue crews have been working for days to try to find more survivors. Nine people have been found alive so far. A dozen are still unaccounted for.

    On Wall Street today, bank stocks helped fuel a rally that set new records. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 113 points to close at 19912. The Nasdaq rose 48 points, and the S&P 500 added almost 15. The Nasdaq and the S&P closed at all-time highs.

    And the Oscar nominations are out, and “La La Land” got a record-tying 14. The romantic musical will contend with eight other films for best picture, including “Hidden Figures,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Fences.”

    Overall, this year’s nominees are much more diverse, with seven actors of color out of a total of 20.

    We will have an interview with the director of “La La Land” later in the program.

    Still to come on the “NewsHour”: two presidential nominees get grilled by senators; a shifting U.S. environmental policy, starting with the Keystone and Dakota oil pipelines; life after the Oval Office, what presidents do when they leave the White House; and much more.

    On Capitol Hill today, it was another marathon round of confirmation hearings for President Trump’s Cabinet nominees. His pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services, Georgia Congressman Tom Price, took his turn before the Senate Finance Committee.

    Just like last week, the physician lawmaker faced tough questioning on what is going to happen as the administration moves to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

    Last week, Mr. Trump signed an executive order allowing the administration to delay, waive or change parts of the law that are too much of a burden. Senators wanted to know what that means, starting with Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden.

    SEN. RON WYDEN, D-Ore.: Will you guarantee that no one will lose coverage under the executive order?

    REP. TOM PRICE, R-Ga.: Health and Human Services Secretary Nominee: I guarantee you that the individuals that lost coverage under the Affordable Care Act, we will commit to making certain that they don’t lose coverage under whatever replacement plan comes forward. That’s the commitment that I provide to you.

    SEN. RON WYDEN: The question again is, will anyone lose coverage? And you answered to something I didn’t ask. Will you commit to not implementing the order until the replacement plan is in place?

    REP. TOM PRICE: What I commit to the American people is to keep patients at the center of health care. And what that means to me is making certain that every single American has access to affordable health coverage that will provide the highest-quality health care that the world can provide.

    SEN. RON WYDEN: I’m going to close by way of saying that what the congressman is saying is that the order could go into effect before there is a replacement plan. And independent experts say that this is going to destroy the market on which millions of working families buy health coverage.

    And on the questions that I ask, will the congressman commit that nobody will be worse off, nobody will lose coverage, we didn’t get an answer.

    JOHN YANG: Senators also tried find out what role Price was playing in crafting the president’s health care alternative, but didn’t have much success.

    Not far from Price’s hearing, the Senate Budget Committee grilled the president’s pick to head the Office of Management and Budget.

    Lisa Desjardins has that story.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Congressman Mick Mulvaney was introduced at this morning’s hearing as a vigilant budget hawk. The staunch conservative is President Trump’s choice to lead the White House Budget Office.

    REP. MICK MULVANEY (R-S.C.), Budget Director Nominee: I believe, as a matter of principle, that the debt is a problem that must be addressed sooner rather than later. I also know that fundamental changes are necessary in the way Washington spends and taxes if we truly want a healthy economy.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Mulvaney was elected as a South Carolina representative in 2010 in the Tea Party wave. He told senators today that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security need significant changes to be preserved for the future.

    But Mr. Trump used different words when he spoke to the conservative news site The Daily Signal in May of 2015.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I’m not going to cut Social Security, like every other Republican, and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders pressed Mulvaney on the contrast.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, I-Vt.: Will you tell the president of the United States, Mr. President, keep your word, be honest with the American people, do not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

    REP. MICK MULVANEY: The only thing I know to do is to tell the president the truth. And the truth is that, if we do not reform these programs that are so important to your constituents in Vermont, and to mine in South Carolina, I believe in nine or 10 years, the Medicaid trust fund is empty. In roughly in 17 or 18 years, the Social Security trust fund is empty.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The sustainability of Social Security also came up in an exchange between Mulvaney and fellow South Carolinian Lindsey Graham.

    SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Would you agree with me that, for younger workers, they may have to work longer before they enter the program, to save the program?

    REP. MICK MULVANEY: I have already told my children to prepare for exactly that.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Mulvaney said he doesn’t want to cut entitlements for people already receiving benefits. And he said he agrees with President Trump’s plan to boost the Pentagon’s budget.

    That issue and Mulvaney’s record on the military came up during his second hearing this afternoon, before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.: What’s the highest priority, reducing the debt or rebuilding the military?

    REP. MICK MULVANEY: The number one priority of the United States government is to defend the nation.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: That’s nice to hear that you believe they’re important, because you have spent your entire congressional career pitting the debt against our military, and each time, at least for you, our military was less important.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The nominee was also forced to answer for his failure years ago to pay more than $15,000 in payroll taxes for a household worker. Mulvaney said it was a mistake.

    REP. MICK MULVANEY: It was a young woman who did not live with us, did not teach the children, did not cook or clean. She helped my wife with the children.

    And we did not withhold federal taxes. And, honestly, I didn’t think about it again until December. It was my responsibility. But once it was brought to my attention, I did the only thing I know to do, which is simply be straightforward about it, admit the problem and then try to fix it.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Some Democrats have said that error is disqualifying. And nominees have confronted similar issues in the past. Two of President Clinton’s picks for attorney general, Kimba Wood and Zoe Baird, withdrew for a failure to pay taxes on household help.

    That led to revelations that two already confirmed secretaries, Ron Brown and Federico Pena, had also failed to pay employee taxes. And in 2009, tax concerns sank Tom Daschle, President Obama’s choice for the Health and Human Services Department. But Tim Geithner was confirmed as treasury secretary that year, despite not paying all of his personal taxes.

    And Mulvaney was also pressed on the 2013 government shutdown. He was one of the conservatives who said it was worth not compromising and allowing the showdown to make their point about the Affordable Care Act, which he wanted to repeal.

    One thing, though, Republicans say, despite all of the pressing from Democrats, they think all of these nominees will ultimately be confirmed, John, even as we see some of the votes continue to be postponed in hearings. John, it’s really a question of Republicans, they say, of not if, but when.

    JOHN YANG: Lisa, one big nomination that President Trump says he is going to make next week is to the Supreme Court. There was a meeting at the White House with Senate leaders to talk about it.

    What are you hearing about that meeting?

    LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right.

    We’re hearing it was a short meeting. I have multiple sources, Republican and Democrat, telling me it lasted about 30 minutes. From the Republican side, we get one version. Chuck Grassley sent out a statement to us saying that it was a step in the right direction, that it was productive and frank.

    But, John, Democrats say simply that it was a chance for them to state their belief that this Supreme Court nominee must be from the mainstream. How I read that, both sides are honestly gearing for a potential very large fight.

    And talking to senators in the hallway today, John, you could tell Republicans are brace themselves for the possibility that they may not be able to get 60 votes, which is the requirement right now for a Supreme Court nominee. And they seem to be considering a discussion over changing that rule down to 50. That will be a monumental change, and it seems like it might be ahead.

    JOHN YANG: And, Lisa, give us an update on what is also ahead on the big Trump goal on the Hill, which is to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Right.

    We have some deadlines coming up on that in just a couple of days. On Friday, that’s the deadline for committees to put in their language essentially for what the repeal should look like. That’s not the replacement. The replacement, meanwhile, will also be a huge topic of conversation, perhaps the biggest topic of conversation, when House and Senate Republicans go to Philadelphia starting tomorrow for their retreat.

    This is going to be where they lay out their game plan for the entire year. And at the very top of the agenda, Republicans will try to work out amongst themselves how they want to deal with the Obamacare replacement.

    JOHN YANG: And another Trump priority that a lot of people thought the Democrats on the Hill might be able to work with them on was the infrastructure project. And I understand that the Democrats had something to say about that today.

    LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right.

    Democrats agree, we also want to expand American infrastructure and do more on it. But that’s where the agreement ends. Democrats’ proposal today is a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. The difference, it seems, John is potentially how they would pay for it. Democrats say they would like to close tax loopholes.

    We’re waiting to see what President Trump proposes, how large his infrastructure plan is. But already Republicans say on the Hill say no way to the way Democrats are going. They instead want just a straight spending plan. Republicans want to have tax credits that would go more to businesses, rather than just hiring for paving highways and such.

    So they agree on one thing, that America needs more roads and bridges, but they certainly disagree on how to do it.

    JOHN YANG: And, Lisa, the Republicans complained a lot about President Obama’s executive actions. We have had a lot of executive actions from President Trump so far. What’s been the reaction on the Hill?

    LISA DESJARDINS: This has been such an interesting storyline today, John.

    For the most part, Republicans are of course happy with some of these executive actions, things like the Keystone pipeline in Canada. That’s something that they have pushed for.

    But, if you look at the details of these executive actions, specifically another one on pipelines, today, President Trump asked the Commerce Department to come up with a plan that would ensure that pipelines all be made from American-built products, so American steel, essentially.

    That’s something he talked about in the campaign, but it’s something that House Speaker Ryan himself took out of a bill formally. Not all Republicans like that idea. They’re not all sure it’s good for business.

    JOHN YANG: Lisa Desjardins, just outside the House chamber, thank you very much.

    As we reported, President Trump today signed a number of executive orders, some of them undoing part of President Obama’s environmental legacy.

    William Brangham has more.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Two of those moves gave new life to two of the most contentious oil pipelines in America, the Dakota Access pipeline, which hundreds of Native American groups have been protesting, as well as the Keystone XL pipeline.

    Both of these had been delayed or put on hold by the Obama administration.

    To understand how these moves fit into the Trump administration’s broader plans for energy and environmental policy, I’m joined by Valerie Volcovici. She covers this for Reuters.

    Welcome.

    VALERIE VOLCOVICI, Reuters: Thank you.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So let’s talk about these two pipelines in particular.

    The Dakota Access pipeline, what did Trump’s order say about that?

    VALERIE VOLCOVICI: So, Trump’s order this morning basically said that he wants to expedite the process.

    As you well know, the Dakota Access protest has really galvanized Native American tribal sovereignty issues. It’s brought together So, wide coalition of environmentalists, social activists, in addition to tribes.

    So it’s been one of the more high-profile protests that we have seen in a while. Right now, it’s kind of stalled because former President Obama ordered an environmental review of a kind of contentious section of this pipeline that the tribe argues crosses into some sacred sites. His aim is really to move it along, because…

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: He wants to get this built.

    VALERIE VOLCOVICI: He wants to get it built, and he said so on the campaign trail, and he is following through on day four, whatever it is, of the administration.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Yes, this one really wasn’t that much of a surprise, if you had been listening to him all along.

    VALERIE VOLCOVICI: Right.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And then what about the Keystone XL? That is a slightly different issue. This was another pipeline that goes from Canada down to the Gulf.

    And this was one that Obama for many, many years seemed to wrangle with and debate what to do, and then eventually denied the permit for it. What did Trump do today?

    VALERIE VOLCOVICI: Well, what Trump did today is, first of all, it invited Canada to reapply. TransCanada is the company that wants to get it built. As far as I’m aware, TransCanada has said it wants to reapply.

    And then it will have the State Department. They will do an environmental impact assessment of the permit and decide whether or not to issue it. And it needs to be done within 60 days.

    So, again, another sign that Trump wants to fast-track this, because, as we remember from the Keystone fights, it lasted a long time and kind of became a symbol of President Obama’s environmental goals and it really also galvanized the environmentalists.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, these orders don’t guarantee that they will go forward. They just seemed to move the ball much closer to the goalposts, right?

    VALERIE VOLCOVICI: Right, but this will be — you know, everything will be at the discretion of the various agencies involved.

    And I guess one could assume that they would lean in favor, because now we have a different administration in. We can also expect to see legal challenges. The lawyer for the Standing Rock Tribe said that they’re going to be focusing on the legal battles. They are going to be in court.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: President Trump has said all along that this is about jobs primarily. Do we have a sense of how many jobs these two pipelines would generate?

    VALERIE VOLCOVICI: He said this morning when he was announcing these orders that the Keystone pipeline would create 28,000 jobs. Previous assessments of the pipeline said that really the permanent jobs created are maybe a little more than a dozen or two dozen jobs.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Two dozen jobs?

    VALERIE VOLCOVICI: Yes.

    So, the numbers cited are always in conflict. They are always very much contested, when you look at the permanent jobs and the temporary jobs. And I think that environmental groups will argue that, as far as these pipelines being job creators, in the long term, not so much, because the permanent jobs are just much fewer than the temporary jobs.

    But we saw President Trump yesterday met with labor union representatives, very strong proponents of both these pipeline projects, and they were very, very happy after their meeting with President Trump yesterday. And one of the labor leaders today said, you know, we’re really excited to see, you know, he’s not all talk, he’s action.

    And they were very happy to see it early on.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: There were a few other executive orders that the president issued today that also pertained to this. What were these about?

    VALERIE VOLCOVICI: So, these orders were kind of more generally talking about the overall process of approving these pipeline projects and different infrastructure projects.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, speeding the process along?

    VALERIE VOLCOVICI: Speeding the process.

    And a very interesting addition is that a pipeline project should use American steel, American labor. So, using some of Trump’s America-first energy and broader policy, that’s kind of injected into his approach to pipelines and infrastructure.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: More broadly, I know you have studied the Obama administration’s environmental policy and then the emerging Trump administration’s policy. How do these pipeline projects fit into that larger vision, as you see it?

    VALERIE VOLCOVICI: Well, candidate Trump made it very clear what he wants to see.

    He has seen President Obama — former President Obama’s environmental regulations as something that’s choking the U.S. economy, that’s preventing jobs from being created.

    Former President Obama didn’t really see that they were an impediment to job creation. And he liked to highlight that U.S. emissions went down as the economy grew.

    So, Trump’s vision is very different. He sees an all-of-the-above energy strategy, with a very heavy focus on fossil fuels. He sees that as really a way to create this American renaissance in manufacturing and in, you know, those good old blue-collar jobs that he was really talking about very much on the campaign trail.

    So, for him, it’s part of his economic vision. The environmental gains of the Obama administration were seen as an impediment to those goals.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Valerie Volcovici of Reuters, thank you very much.

    VALERIE VOLCOVICI: Thank you.

    JOHN YANG: Stay with us.

    Coming up on the NewsHour: do more police in schools improve safety or make racial disparities worse?; and the inspiration behind the film with the most Oscar nominations, the musical “La La Land.”

    But first: When former President Obama lifted off from the U.S. Capitol Friday, he joined one of the most exclusive clubs in the world. There are just five living ex-presidents.

    Today, a former president can do pretty much whatever he wants. After a weekend in Palm Springs, President Obama and his wife reportedly flew to the British Virgin Islands for some vacation time. But what next?

    Judy Woodruff sat down with Atlantic writer Barbara Bradley Hagerty, who spent several months looking at how presidents who left office at relatively young ages decided what to do with the rest of their lives.

    This is part of the NewsHour’s ongoing partnership with The Atlantic.

    BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY, The Atlantic: Well, generally, presidents — and let’s refer throughout history — unless presidents were wealthy, they generally had to work.

    So, George Washington became the largest whiskey distiller. And, you know, William Howard Taft became the Supreme Court chief justice. So, they had to work.

    But, more recently, what I was interested in seeing is that presidents are living so long now. And when a president leaves in midlife, at the peak of his game, what does he do then? What does he do for an encore?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, over time, the idea of what to do and the amount of time has changed. Take us back to modern presidents. I mean, you looked at Jimmy Carter.

    BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: Jimmy Carter, he had a rough landing after his presidency, which is not atypical.

    So, Jimmy Carter loses to — in a landslide to Ronald Reagan, and he comes home to Plains, Georgia, and there he finds that his business, his peanut business, is a million dollars in debt, that his house is in need of repair, and, literally, the forest has come right up to his back step, their back step.

    And it was kind of this metaphor for Jimmy Carter’s life. How does he navigate through the thicket? How does he have meaning in his life, after he was a one-term, relatively unpopular president? And so that was his challenge.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And he was in his mid-50s.

    BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: He was. He was 56.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, how did he go about figuring out what he would do?

    BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: When you look at Carter, what you saw was a man who was — his personality, he was very smart, very ambitious, and he had a kind of biblical ethos.

    In fact, Walter Mondale told me that Jimmy Carter said, you know, when this is all over, I want to be a missionary.

    So there’s that. And then there was his presidency. And what you saw in the presidency, it was a rough presidency, but he had this one defining area, right, Camp David, peace between Israel and Egypt.

    And so what he did is, he took those two things and he created the Carter Center. And the Carter Center absolutely redefined the post-presidency for everyone who came behind him. He created this institution where he could do freelance diplomacy and other good works around the world.

    So, the Carter Center has monitored more than 100 elections. He’s won the Nobel Peace Prize. He also kind of got under — he was kind of a burr under the saddle of his successors. Because of this peace-at-any-cost type of ethos, he ended up interfering in their policies.

    For example, under President Clinton, North Korea was developing nuclear weapons, and Carter went over as a private citizen and said that economic sanctions were off the table. He said this on television. And Clinton was absolutely furious.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, after the Jimmy Carter legacy of building up the Carter Center, a couple of presidents later, along comes Bill Clinton, very different set of circumstances.

    BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: Yes, absolutely.

    And Bill Clinton also had a pretty rough landing when he was the ex-president. On his first day out of office, he went to the coffee shop in Chappaqua, New York, to get a cup of coffee, and suddenly he was surrounded with a phalanx of reporters, right?

    And he — they were shouting questions at him: Why did you pardon Marc Rich, the fugitive financier? Why did you do that?

    And suddenly he found himself completely naked. He didn’t have a press office to protect him. He had no barrier between himself and the rest of the world. And it was a really rough time for him, made all the more rough because he was counting on some speeches to help him with his debt. As you remember, he came out of office with $12 million in legal fees because of the impeachment proceedings. And he paid a lot to his lawyers.

    All of those speeches just disappeared overnight because of the Marc Rich controversy, so it was a pretty tough time for him.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You wrote, I think, that Clinton was described as having given a lot of thought to his post-presidency.

    BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: Yes, apparently from the first…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: While he was president.

    BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: Right.

    Apparently, from the first day he was in office, he was thinking about his post-presidency. And he set up the Clinton Foundation when he was still president. And so he has — he had given a lot of thought to it. It’s just those plans were a little bit delayed while he had to get through those first rough months.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see the Clinton Foundation and what it’s been able to accomplish, compared to Jimmy Carter’s work at the Carter Center?

    BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: Well, the Clinton Foundation is kind of the Carter Center on steroids, right?

    I mean — and it reflects Bill Clinton’s personality. So, when he started this Clinton Foundation, it is a global enterprise to do good. Right? They have done a lot of good. They have gotten sugary drinks out of public schools. They have driven down the price of AIDS medicine in Africa.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But with the Clinton Foundation comes a lot of money. They have raised a lot of money, and then there were questions about how that money was spent.

    BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: Yes, there was questions about how the money was spent and whom he raised the money from, the royal Saudi family and Blackwater. There’s kind of really a lot of murkiness, which actually didn’t help his wife in her presidential campaign, of course. There were a lot of questions about it.

    But, you know, what Bill Clinton did with his post-presidency is, he turned it into a money-making enterprise for himself. So, since 2001, Bill Clinton has earned $250 million in speaking fees and in book contracts. As one person said it, being president is a really, really good career move.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: His successor, George W. Bush, comes along, has, of course, his own set of issues during his presidency, and approaches his ex-presidency very differently.

    BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: Very differently.

    He was delighted not to be president. He tells this story that, the day after he left the White House, he’s down in Crawford, Texas, and he opens a newspaper, and he looks at the news, and he thinks, what are we going to do about this? And then he realizes, I don’t have to do anything about this. This is no longer on my watch.

    So, he closes up the papers, he grabs his two dogs, drives to the office and starts writing anecdotes for his book. So, he absolutely loved being away from — what I understand, from the everyday pressures of the presidency.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And he’s been one of the less visible former presidents.

    BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: Yes. Yes, he has.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you account for that?

    BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: I think it’s personality.

    His speechwriter said that the reason he seems content is because he is content. He isn’t trying to burnish his legacy. He’s unbothered about the criticism of his eight years in office, the wars and the recession and all of that.

    And so what he does is, he does the things that give him meaning and purpose. He’s pivoted toward his friends, toward mountain biking, toward golfing. Also, he goes to Africa and he looks in on the clinics and things like that.

    But you know what he’s really into right now is, he’s into painting, took it very seriously. He took lessons. He does it hours every day, and now he’s painting. He’s painted war veterans, many of them wounded, as a kind of tribute to them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let’s talk about President Obama.

    BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: He’s out of office. He’s got his own eight-year legacy, and a very different set of circumstances than he anticipated as he left office.

    BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: This election really muddied the waters.

    There was a sense that the world was Barack Obama’s oyster. He could do anything he wanted. He could work on gun control or race relations or criminal justice reform, climate change. He could own a basketball team. He could teach law. He could do anything he wanted.

    The day after the election, we realized that his opportunities were circumscribed, at least at the beginning, because there’s a Republican president and Congress who is actually actively seeking to undo some of his greatest achievements.

    And what’s really interesting about this time is, this election actually gave him a new, unexpected purpose, because the Clintons are no longer really the head of the Democratic Party. He’s the senior statesman in the Democratic Party. He knows that he needs to begin to work on developing new talent, bringing the party along. And so he’s got this short-term purpose as well.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The other thing about President Obama was the importance to him of family. He talked — he spoke about living over the store, being able to have dinner every night with his daughters.

    And that will affect his life post-presidency.

    BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: You know, Erik Erikson, the great psychologist, said you need three things for midlife. You need work, love and play.

    And he has — he will find meaningful work. And he has play. He bodysurfs and plays basketball and reads voraciously, and then love. He’s got a lot of friends, but he’s got his family. I mean, this was a man who spent his childhood kind of without a father.

    And, in many ways, he defines himself more as a dad and a husband than he does as a president or an ex-president. So, kind of one of the — one of the things that people told me is that leaving the White House is not going to be difficult for him. What’s going to be really difficult is watching his children leave the nest.

    JOHN YANG: Since the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, there’s been a big rise in police stationed at schools. There are 44,000 around the country.

    It’s led to concerns over their role and whether teenage behavior is sometimes being inappropriately criminalized. A new analysis of federal civil rights data by Education Week finds that black students are more likely to attend schools with police officers present, and they are three times more likely to be arrested on campus than white students.

    Special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza with our partner Education Week has a report on how the St. Paul public schools in Minnesota are revamping their approach.

    This is from our weekly series Making the Grade.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Minnesota, it’s known for the Vikings, Lake Wobegon, and being nice.

    But, in the past year, a series of violent interactions within the St. Paul school system has taken center stage, school fights, teacher assaults, and one incident where a visiting student was arrested for trespassing, all caught on cell phones and, of course, widely shared on social media.

    Teachers threatened to strike, the superintendent was fired, and more than 100 students walked out in protest.

    Makkah Abdur Salaam is a senior.

    MAKKAH ABDUR SALAAM, Student: The truth is, I don’t feel safe around police. Like, it’s point blank, period.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Students like Saffiyah Al’Aziz Muhammed say rocky police-civilian relations have filtered down to schools all over the country.

    SAFFIYAH AL’AZIZ MOHAMMED, Student: Us seeing all this police brutality in the media, and then going to school, and then your interactions with school police aren’t good, it’s kind of, like, traumatizing a little bit.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Nationwide, there were nearly 70,000 arrests during the 2013 school year. And, in most states, black students are far more likely to be arrested, according to an analysis of federal data by the Education Week Research Center.

    One reason might be that they are far more likely to be in schools with police officers.

    Laura Olson is trying to change the relationship between students and police officers in St. Paul schools.

    LAURA OLSON, Saint Paul Public Schools: If students don’t feel safe when they come to school, they’re not going to be in a position to learn.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: One of the first things she did? Change the uniforms.

    Some students expressed that they felt uncomfortable, kind of that paramilitary look. So, over the summer, instead of the hard military-style blue and metal badge, they moved to a more soft blue polo shirt with stitched-on badge.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Officers, known as school resource officers, are still armed and carry Tasers, but Olson hopes this softer look makes them more approachable.

    Another change? Clarify when SRO’s should step in and when should they step aside.

    LAURA OLSON: We realized that we had a bit of a disconnect between what is perceived as behavior and what is criminal activity. What is the line between what schools handle and what the SRO handles? And sometimes the lines were a little blurry.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Commander Kevin Casper has also increased training for SROs in areas like mental health and de-escalation. He’s creating a different mind-set.

    KEVIN CASPER, Commander, St. Paul Police Department: We want to be more guardians than warriors. If a family, if a mom or dad caught their kid with marijuana, their first instinct wouldn’t be to turn them over to the police and get them into the criminal justice system.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Casper tells of a student who was suicidal.

    KEVIN CASPER: So, the SRO kind of like became his life coach, coached him, trained him, and he actually made the football team, and he’s doing great.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: That is a very emotional story for you. Tell me why.

    KEVIN CASPER: It is personal. To think that cops don’t want the best for the community and kids is way, way out of what I see day to day. So…

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: It’s personal for Officer Tong Yang as well.

    TONG YANG, Officer: I’m also an adviser of the kids, social worker, counselor, a father figure, a coach in sports, life coach, a little bit of everything.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Now Yang only gets involved when there’s an actual crime committed. Instead, he works on building relationships.

    TONG YANG: We have been pushing to be more proactive, right, to be more visible, be more approachable, building that bond between us and the kids, having that trust factor.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Most St. Paul teachers want SROs in schools. They recently threatened to strike over school violence.

    CHERYL BUZICKY, Teacher: As teachers, we really just want to feel like we’re supported fully by everyone.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: The new teacher contract now includes money for additional supports, including counselors and social workers.

    So, have efforts to overhaul school policing in St. Paul worked? It’s barely been a year, but the police point to far fewer student arrests, and administrators say the school climate has improved. But ask some students, they aren’t so sure.

    SAFFIYAH AL’AZIZ MOHAMMED: It’s a tough question.

    MAKKAH ABDUR SALAAM: I will say it was better than last year, but…

    SAFFIYAH AL’AZIZ MOHAMMED: The year is not over, though.

    MAKKAH ABDUR SALAAM: Yes. Yes, that’s true.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: For the PBS NewsHour and Education Week, I’m Kavitha Cardoza reporting from St. Paul, Minnesota.

    JOHN YANG: Finally tonight: Who would have thought? A movie musical, set in contemporary Los Angeles, and it’s become a commercial and critical hit.

    Today, it was nominated for 14 Academy Awards, tying “Titanic” and “All About Eve” for the most nominations ever.

    Jeffrey Brown sat down with the director of “La La Land,” who received two nominations himself, including best original screenplay.

    This report is part of our ongoing coverage of awards for the 2016 movie season, Beyond the Red Carpet.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The story itself is well-worn: two young performers striving to make it big in the land of the stars. But “La La Land” aims to take an old form, the movie musical, and give it renewed life and broader appeal, placing it firmly in the here and now.

    In New York recently, 32-year-old writer/director Damien Chazelle told me it took six years to sell studios on the film.

    DAMIEN CHAZELLE, Director, “La La Land”: Not just a musical, but an original musical, so you’re not even going to be familiar with the songs going in. We can’t even sell that.

    Just everything about it seems like this could never possibly have an audience or make money.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But this is a film all about beating the odds. It stars Ryan Gosling as a jazz pianist who thinks all the great music came from an earlier era and is stubbornly trying to bring it back, and Emma Stone as an aspiring actress struggling to land a role and wondering if she has what it takes.

    DAMIEN CHAZELLE: Grew up with movies. Musicals, I kind of held at arm’s length for a while, as a kid. And then I sort of belatedly fell head over heels in love with them.

    And I fell in love, specifically, with old Hollywood musicals and…

    JEFFREY BROWN: Like such as?

    DAMIEN CHAZELLE: I like “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Top Hat.”

    So I think, as soon as I fell in love with those movies, I was thinking already about, how could you do something like that today?

    JEFFREY BROWN: What did you hear in those films? What grabbed you, at whatever age you were?

    DAMIEN CHAZELLE: The reveling in what only movies can do, the sort of unbridled experimentation, the audacity, the privileging of emotion over anything else, the privileging of image and sound and telling a story that way, not just telling it through dialogue or through things that you could do in literature or in a play, but really just indulging in the possibilities of the medium.

    I just felt like they were — musicals were the most liberating form for a filmmaker. The language of falling in love through dance, especially in a movie like “Top Hat” or a movie like “Swing Time,” a number like, “Isn’t It a Lovely Day to Be Caught in the Rain?” which is one of the early numbers in “Top Hat,” the bickering couple, where the dialogue is telling you that they’re not in love, but they start to kind of sing and they start to dance.

    And the song and the dance is what tells you, oh, actually, there’s something underneath here.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You’re also working here with actors Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, who are not known for singing and dancing.

    DAMIEN CHAZELLE: Yes.

    Part of the intention was to not have it be people who you had seen in a musical before, so it’s not a situation where you’re kind of sitting there waiting for them to break into song, you know?

    I wanted to cast actors, first and foremost, and just people who would really flesh out these characters with the same amount of depth and complexity and truth as they would if there were no musical numbers in the movie at all to help the lifting. And then the numbers can kind of emerge out of the emotions that the actors have fleshed out.

    And that was much more important to me than the technique of the steps or the notes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The film is received some criticism for its portrayal of Gosling, a white man, trying to save a distinctly black art form, jazz.

    Jazz is a longtime love of Chazelle’s. He first gained widespread attention in 2014 with “Whiplash,” about a young drummer who worships the greats and desperately wants to join them, and an abusive music professor who pushes him to the brink of insanity.

    Chazelle himself was an aspiring jazz drummer in high school.

    DAMIEN CHAZELLE: I love thinking about film as music, and how the two forms can speak to each other.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What does that mean, film as music?

    DAMIEN CHAZELLE: Well, you know, that it’s not just about putting a camera on someone and — or on a couple of people and having them talk, and doing shot/reverse shot, and just sort of trying to passively tell a story.

    It’s trying to — you’re trying to ultimately say things that words can’t say. And, sometimes, that can be done very simply. Other times, it’s done in very, I guess what you would call musical ways, thinking about rhythm and tempo, playing with the sequence of shots in an edit room, or trying to make the camera dance, trying to make the camera evoke a certain kind of melody or tempo.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But also thinking about jazz and musicals not as, I don’t want to say dying art forms — I love both, but — and they thrive in some forms, but they’re not part of the popular culture.

    DAMIEN CHAZELLE: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: They’re not sort of a mainstream, mass culture.

    DAMIEN CHAZELLE: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And yet you’re clearly attracted to both.

    DAMIEN CHAZELLE: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And I wonder what that says about you.

    DAMIEN CHAZELLE: Yes, sometimes, I have felt a little bit like I was born, whatever, in the wrong…

    JEFFREY BROWN: In the wrong era.

    DAMIEN CHAZELLE: The wrong era, yes, which, I think, at least Ryan Gosling’s character in this movie, he certainly — his character shares that viewpoint. And that was sort of personal.

    In the story of the movie that Ryan Gosling’s character ultimately has to learn is that there are limits to that kind of nostalgia. So it’s not enough to, I think, just love something from the past and kind of encase it in amber and say, don’t touch, because that actually winds up — to a certain extent, it winds up aiding its demise.

    If you want to actually help an art form or sort of contribute to it in some ways, you have to find a way to add something new. You have to update it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You’re very young. Where does the ambition come from to kind of bring back the musical, to think long term, over the arc of a career?

    DAMIEN CHAZELLE: I guess I’m not entirely sure. The one thing I sort of have adopted for myself as some kind of mantra is just to try to make things that scare you a little bit, to try …

    JEFFREY BROWN: Scare you?

    DAMIEN CHAZELLE: Yes.

    Once you have done something, don’t redo it, or don’t sort of stay completely in that box. Try to play around and try to keep pushing, and even if that means you fall on your face. But that’s kind of the only movie you really want to make, in a way, because, otherwise, what are you doing? It’s so much work to make a movie.

    It’s so tiring, that it’s like, you might as well be doing something that is really testing you and that is really, if it works out, going to push the medium forward.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now Damien Chazelle will vie for best director and “La La Land” for best film at the Academy Awards on February 26.

    From New York, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the PBS NewsHour.

    JOHN YANG: Online: What does it take to write an Oscar-nominated song? We talk to “La La Land” composer Justin Hurwitz about creating the music that has a starring role in the movie.

    And find all our coverage Beyond the Red Carpet with features on movies, directors and our picks of the best films of 2016. That’s at PBS.org/NewsHour.

     

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    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2017.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTSWV0D

    President Donald Trump speaks during the Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 22, 2017. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday he intends to announce his nominee for the Supreme Court on Feb. 2, and three federal appeals court judges are said to be the front-runners to fill the lifetime seat held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon.

    The leading contenders, who have met with Trump, are William Pryor, Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman, according to a person familiar with the process who was not authorized to speak publicly about internal decisions and discussed the search on condition of anonymity. The three, ranging in age from 49 to 54, were on the list of 21 potential high court picks Trump announced during his presidential campaign.

    Pryor, 54, is an Alabama-based judge on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Gorsuch, 49, is on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Hardiman, 51, is based in Pittsburgh for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. All were nominated by President George W. Bush for their current posts.

    In a tweet Wednesday morning, Trump said he will make his high court pick next Thursday.

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

    Pryor, 54, is an Alabama-based judge on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Gorsuch, 49, is on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Hardiman, 51, is based in Pittsburgh for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. All three were nominated by President George W. Bush for their current posts.

    Trump has promised to seek someone in the mold of conservative icon Antonin Scalia, who died nearly a year ago after serving on the Supreme Court for more than 29 years. Senate Republicans prevented President Barack Obama from filling the seat, a political gamble that paid off when Trump was elected.

    It’s hard to know what might persuade Trump to choose one instead of the others, said John Malcolm, a senior lawyer at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “He’s got to feel comfortable with the guy. It’s a part of his legacy, a very important part of his legacy,” Malcolm said.

    READ NEXT: The 10 executive actions Trump has signed (so far)

    Justices often serve for decades after the president has chosen them leaves office. The longest serving justice currently on the bench, Anthony Kennedy, was a Ronald Reagan appointee who joined the court in 1988.

    Democrats and liberal interest groups, fuming over the Republican refusal to consider Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the court, are ready to fight any Trump nominee who is “outside the mainstream,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said after a White House meeting about the court vacancy Tuesday.

    Conservatives said the contenders all share Scalia’s commitment to the text and meaning of the Constitution. “These are not stealth candidates. Their records are there for everyone to see and to understand. Their judicial philosophy is well within the mainstream of American legal thought,” said Leonard Leo, a conservative lawyer who has been advising Trump on the filling the vacancy.

    Of the three leading candidates, only Pryor faced significant opposition when nominated to the appeals court. Senate Democrats refused to allow a vote on his nomination, leading Bush initially to give Pryor a temporary recess appointment. In 2005, the Senate confirmed him 53-45, after senators reached an agreement to curtail delaying tactics for appellate judgeships.

    Gorsuch was approved by a voice vote in 2006. Schumer and Feinstein were among the 95 senators who voted for Hardiman’s confirmation in 2007. Hardiman is a colleague of Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry.

    Pryor has a reputation as staunch conservative with a taste for academic rigor. He once called the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.” As Alabama attorney general, he also angered some conservatives for urging a judicial discipline panel to remove Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore from office after he refused to obey a court order take down a Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the state judicial building.

    Some conservatives also have recently criticized Pryor for his vote in 2011 in favor of a transgender woman who sued for sex discrimination.

    Gorsuch is the closest on Trump’s list to a Washington insider — the son of former EPA administrator Anne Gorsuch, educated in the Ivy League and at Oxford, law clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy and Bush-era Justice Department official.

    His opinions and outside writings, praised for their clear, colloquial style, include a call for courts to second-guess government regulations, defense of religious freedom and skepticism toward law enforcement. He has contended that courts give too much deference to government agencies’ interpretations of statutes. He sided with groups that held religious objections to the Obama administration’s requirements that employers provide health insurance that includes contraception.

    Hardiman has sided with jails seeking to strip-search inmates arrested for even minor offenses and has supported gun rights, dissenting in a 2013 case that upheld a New Jersey law to tighten requirements for carrying a handgun in public. Last year, he joined two 3rd Circuit colleagues in affirming the $1 billion settlement of NFL concussion claims, rejecting complaints that men with depression and mood disorders were left out of the deal. A Massachusetts native, he settled in Pittsburgh, where his wife comes from a family of prominent Democrats.

    Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire, Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama, Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia and Nicholas Riccardi in Denver contributed to this report.

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    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is serving notice he’s ready to “send in the Feds” if Chicago can’t reduce its homicide figures.

    Trump tweeted Tuesday night: “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!”

    Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson responded late Tuesday, saying: “The Chicago Police Department is more than willing to work with the federal government to build on our partnerships with DOJ (Department of Justice), FBI, DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) and boost federal prosecution rates for gun crimes in Chicago.”

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel criticized Trump on Monday for worrying about the size of the crowd at his inauguration. Emanuel, a longtime political ally of former President Barack Obama, also acknowledged his own frustration with Chicago’s crime rate.

    Earlier this month, before he took office, Trump tweeted that Emanuel should ask for federal help if he isn’t able to bring down the homicide rate. Last year, the death toll soared to 762 — the most killings in the city in nearly two decades and more than New York and Los Angeles combined.

    This year’s numbers cited by Trump were slightly different to the latest tally from the Chicago Police Department. As of Tuesday, Chicago police said 234 people have been shot in 2017, including 38 who died. At this point last year, according to Chicago police, there had been 227 shot in 2016, including 33 deaths.

    Trump isn’t offering specifics about how the federal government could help. The White House website says: “Our country needs more law enforcement, more community engagement and more effective policing.”

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    Traders celebrate on the main trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as the Dow Jones Industrial Average passes the 20,000 mark shortly after the opening of the trading session in New York, U.S., January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTSXB3L

    Traders celebrate on the main trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange as the Dow Jones Industrial Average passes the 20,000 mark shortly after the opening of the trading session in New York, on Jan. 25, 2017. Economist Terry Burnham predicted that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would hit 5,000 before it hit 20,000. With the Dow hitting 20,000 today, Burnham discusses how he got it so wrong. Photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    In July 2013, I wrote, “We will see Dow 5,000 before we see Dow 20,000.”

    Today, the Dow hit 20,000. I was wrong, I am an idiot.

    You can stop reading here if you like. If you want to read more, I will discuss my excuses, the impact of my prediction, my one regret and my current state of mind.

    The Dog ate my Dow 36,000 prediction and someone substituted Dow 5,000

    I hate excuses. I picked Dow 5,000 before Dow 20,000, because it is objective and observable. Let me restate my lack of excuses.

    • The dog did not eat my homework — I didn’t do my homework.
    • The sun was not in my eyes — we played the game at night.
    • We didn’t lose the game because the referee made a bad spot on fourth down for the other team — we had three turnovers and we deserved to lose.
    • I wasn’t late because traffic was unexpectedly bad — I was late because I left home too late.
    • I didn’t quit to spend more time with my family — I was fired.

    I am an idiot. I was wrong. My attempt at a pithy summary:

    With fancy pedigree and all your fame
    You’re just a monkey tossing darts — for shame!

    The psychological and financial impact of being wrong

    Not only was I wrong, the stock market rally has been relentless. I probably wasted a year of my life watching prices and feeling terrible. When the Dow was at 18,000, a couple years ago, I described the psychological impact as follows:

    In the spirit of the late Rodney Dangerfield, how bad do I feel? So bad that I have trouble sleeping. So bad that my family relationships are strained. So bad that my physical health has been impaired. Perhaps most annoyingly, so bad that I have a sore on my right arm that will not heal. I am not a doctor, but I am confident that my sore would have healed if I had not made my Dow 5,000 prediction. I feel a deep malaise, causing (in my mind at least), a low grade cough, sallow complexion, irritability and an impaired immune system.

    While I have been skewered emotionally for years, the financial impact of being wrong has been almost zero. Obviously, I could have made a ton of money buying stocks since my prediction. I suffered opportunity costs, and they are real.

    However, I did buy an expensive home and lot of Treasury bonds. Those investments have done well. More importantly, all of us would prefer to live in world with a strong stock market and economy. Thus, almost everyone benefits from a rising stock market, and I have created a list of 15 ways my family has made money from the stock market, which I repeat here:

    Direct financial impact
    1. Increased pay this year
    2. Increased chance of keeping my job
    3. Increased chance of getting the next job
    4. Increased chance of my wife’s startup company raising money
    5. Increased chance of my wife getting a different job

    Indirect financial impact
    6. Lower future federal taxes
    7. Lower future state taxes
    8. Lower future medical expenses
    9. Increased future Social Security payments
    10. Decreased future costs of supporting my children

    Non-financial impact
    11. Higher career prospects for my children
    12. Decreased chance of being a victim of crime
    13. Decreased chance of decline in social order
    14. Decreased chance of war
    15. Decreased chance of disease

    A regret

    I began disclosing my actual investment decisions in 2015 in “Where does Chicken Little invest.” My regret is that I didn’t start my disclosure at the same time as my “Dow 5000” article back in July of 2013 — for two years I was shunning stocks and buying bonds, but these investments of mine were not public.

    In that 2015 article, I wrote, “My macroeconomic views predict falling U.S. stock prices and rising U.S. Treasury bond prices. I choose to make my one risky investment in the U.S. Treasury market because that investment is consistent with momentum.” As noted, Treasury bonds have done fine (even including the recent plunge — at least so far). But people who took my Dow 5,000 advice without knowing that I strongly favored Treasury bonds would have lost money. I am sorry if that applies to you.

    My next prediction

    In my 2005 book, “Mean Markets and Lizard Brains,” I predicted bad times and those bad times did come in the years 2007 to 2009. My prediction track record is 50-50, just like flipping a coin. Fans of the efficient markets hypothesis, which states that it’s impossible to beat the market on average, would not be surprised by a 50 percent hit rate.

    I believe that markets are (almost) impossible to predict. Thus, I expect market predictions to have about a 50 percent chance of being correct. Sadly, my knowledge of the difficulty in predicting market moves does not seem to prevent my lizard brain from thinking otherwise.

    Finally, I wish I could now be optimistic. From 1982 to 1999, I was optimistic and 100 percent invested in the stock market. I recall vividly laughing off pessimistic views in 1996, thinking the speaker was a worrywart or, worse yet, a Chicken Little. I wish I could be young, optimistic and fully invested in the stock market.

    Is everything going to be okay? I don’t know. I do know that being both wrong and scared is not a happy place.

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