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

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    The federal government forms for applying for health coverage are seen at a rally held by supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as "Obamacare", outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi October 4, 2013.  Mississippi is one of at least 20 states that has decided not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

    The federal government forms for applying for health coverage are seen at a rally held by supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as “Obamacare”, outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi, on October 4, 2013. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

    President Donald Trump’s administration made explicit this weekend its commitment to an old GOP strategy for managing Medicaid, the federal-state insurance plan that covers low-income people — turning control of the program to states and capping what the federal government spends on it each year.

    It’s called “block granting.” Right now, Medicaid, which was expanded under the 2010 health reform to insure more people, covers almost 75 million adults and children. Because it is an entitlement, everyone who qualifies is guaranteed coverage and states and the federal government combine funds to cover the costs. Conservatives have long argued the program would be more efficient if states got a lump sum from the federal government and then managed the program as they saw fit. But others say that would mean less funding for the program —eventually translating into greater challenges in getting care for low-income people.

    Block granting Medicaid is a centerpiece of health proposals supported by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Tom Price, Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Health and Human Services. This weekend, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway emphasized the strategy as key to the administration’s health policy.

    But what would this look like, and why is it so controversial? Let’s break down how this policy could play out, and its implications — both for government spending and for accessing care.

    Q: How would a block grant work?

    So far, Trump hasn’t released details on his particular plan. But the basic idea is that states would get fixed federal grants that would be based on the state and federal Medicaid spending in that state. The grant would grow slightly each year to account for inflation.

    Currently, states share the cost of Medicaid with the federal government. Poorer states pay less: In Mississippi, for instance, the federal government pays about three-fourths the cost of the program, compared to 50 percent in Massachusetts.

    The federal funding is open-ended, but in return, states must cover certain services and people — for instance, children, pregnant women who meet income criteria and parents with dependent children. Under a block grant, states would have more freedom to decide who qualifies, and for what services.

    How much freedom states will have will depend. Many proposals loosen state coverage requirements, which could mean that if states opted to cap enrollment, for example, people who are technically eligible might not get coverage, noted Edwin Park, vice president for health policy at the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C.

    “It’s going to be up to the specifics of any block grant proposal looking at legally, whether there would be certain benefits states would have to provide,” Park said. “Usually states are given unfettered flexibility, or near unfettered flexibility.”

    Q: Is this the same thing as a “per capita cap”?

    The block grant differs slightly from that other conservative favorite. Per capita caps have also been endorsed by Ryan. Under those, states also get a fixed amount of money each year, but that sum is calculated based on how many people are in the program. Since block grants aren’t based on individual enrollment each year, the state wouldn’t necessarily get more money to compensate if, say, more people qualified for Medicaid because of an economic downturn. In theory, a per capita caps system would increase funding. But if, say, an expensive new drug entered the market, or a costly new disease emerged, the Medicaid budgets still wouldn’t change to reflect that, Park noted.

    Q: It seems like both Democrats and Republicans are pretty fired up about this. Why is this such a big deal?

    The block grant system is a radical shift from how Medicaid has worked previously. Republicans say it could save the government billions of dollars. But other analysts note those savings could limit access to health care if the funding becomes squeezed. Thanks to the 2010 health law, which led states to expand Medicaid eligibility, more people would face the brunt of those cuts.

    The fiscal impact: The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates recent Republican block grant proposals could cut Medicaid spending by as much as a third over the next decade. The cuts would start small, growing larger over the years.

    Many Republicans say that, because states will have greater flexibility, they can innovate with their Medicaid programs.

    But opponents note that experimentation alone won’t make up for smaller budgets. The fixed grants could mean states cut benefits or force beneficiaries to take on more cost-sharing, for instance.

    Some federal requirements are necessary, said Tom Miller, a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Block granting could “be great or a disaster,” he said, depending on how it’s implemented. “The ideal model from the view of states is, ‘Give us the money, and I’ll let you know what I did.’ That’s not going to work,” he said.

    The potential impact is significant. More than 10 million who got insurance through Obamacare are on Medicaid and could be affected. That’s also why some Republican governors — particularly in states that embraced the health law’s Medicaid expansion — have joined their Democrat peers in expressing qualms.

    Q: You say this is an “old GOP idea.” How old?

    This dates back at least until the 1980s. President Ronald Reagan pushed Medicaid block grants in 1981, House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1995 and President George W. Bush in 2003.

    Gingrich’s plan came closest — it passed through Congress but failed to garner approval from then-President Bill Clinton. He eventually consented to block grant welfare, resulting in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

    Q: I don’t get my insurance through Medicaid. So why should I care?

    Medicaid is a major government program. In 2015, it accounted for 17 percent of the nation’s health care expenditures — money that comes from taxpayer dollars.

    Plus, the 75 million people covered make up almost a quarter of the U.S. population. And almost two-thirds of people in nursing homes pay for their care using Medicaid — indeed, most of the program’s spending is on the elderly and disabled. If lawmakers are trying to save $1 trillion over a decade, it’s hard to see how that could happen without touching elderly benefits, noted Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors.

    Even if you aren’t covered by Medicaid, you probably know someone who would be affected by block granting.

    Reforming Medicaid could also affect what services hospitals provide, and their economic strength. Specifically, hospitals and clinics that treat large numbers of Medicaid beneficiaries may have to rethink their budgets, what services they can provide and how many people they can employ. That matters from a health care standpoint, but also a jobs one — hospitals are often large community employers.

    Finally, the debate could also set the tone for how Congress treats other so-called “entitlement programs,” such as Medicare and Social Security. The CBO estimates that, barring any meaningful change, spending on Social Security and other health programs will account for about 16 percent of federal spending by 2046. A successful Medicaid reform could pave the way for similar changes in other programs.

    Q: What are the odds this actually happens?

    Now that the GOP has control over Congress and the White House, Republicans have made health care a top priority, including provisions in the new budget to repeal Obamacare, for instance.

    Large portions of a block grant proposal could be achieved through budgetary reconciliation, both Park and Miller said. That means it could pass without Democrat support, even in the Senate, since it would only require 51 votes.

    But without more specifics, any assessment of the consequences is, at best, informed speculation.

    “What does a block grant mean in terms of rules? … No one’s ever gotten far enough to say, ‘Here’s what this actually means,’” Salo said. “This is uncharted territory for a lot of us.”

    KHN Senior Correspondent Mary Agnes Carey contributed to this article. This story was published by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can view the original report on its website.

    The post Block grants are the heart of GOP’s Medicaid plans. Here’s how they work appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Nikki Haley is sworn in as U.S. Ambassador the the United Nations by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, U.S., January 25, 2017.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTSXBJ7

    Nikki Haley is sworn in as U.S. Ambassador the the United Nations by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, U.S., January 25, 2017. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has been sworn in to be President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations.

    Vice President Mike Pence swore in Haley on Wednesday. The Senate voted 96-4 Tuesday night in favor of her nomination despite her lack of significant foreign policy experience.

    During her confirmation hearing, the South Carolina-born daughter of Indian immigrants said she supports Trump’s call to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

    She also took a harder line against Russia than Trump, saying she doesn’t think Moscow can be trusted right now.

    Haley resigned as South Carolina’s governor moments after the Senate vote. She was succeeded by Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster.

    The post Haley sworn in as U.S. ambassador to the UN 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 - RTSX5LC

    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks while signing executive orders at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24, 2017. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is readying a sweeping review of how America conducts the war on terror, including possible resumption of banned interrogation methods and reopening CIA-run “black site” prisons outside the United States, according to a draft executive order obtained by The Associated Press.

    The order would also instruct the Pentagon to send newly captured “enemy combatants” to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, instead of closing the detention facility as President Barack Obama had wanted. Altogether, the possible changes could mark a dramatic return to how the Bush administration waged its campaign against al-Qaida and other extremist groups.

    Trump spokesman Sean Spicer, questioned about the draft order, said it was “not a White House document,” but he would say no more about it.

    The three-page document instructs top national security officers to “recommend to the president whether to reinitiate a program of interrogation of high-value alien terrorists to be operated outside the United States and whether such program should include the use of detention facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency.”

    The document says U.S. laws should be obeyed at all times and explicitly rejects “torture.”

    But its reconsideration of the harsh techniques banned by Obama and Congress is sure to inflame passions in the United States and abroad. While some former government leaders insist the program was effective in obtaining critical intelligence, many others blame it for some of the worst abuses in the war on terror after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, and claim it proved entirely ineffective.

    READ NEXT: Why Obama failed to close Guantanamo

    Tactics in the early years of the CIA program included sleep deprivation, slapping and slamming detainees against walls, confinement in small boxes, prolonged isolation and even death threats to those being interrogated. Three detainees faced the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding. Many developed psychological problems.

    The AP obtained the draft order from a U.S. official, who said it had been distributed by the White House for consultations before Trump signs it. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

    “It is not a White House document,” said Spicer, Trump’s press secretary. “I have no idea where it came from.”

    The Pentagon didn’t immediately comment, but reports of the upcoming order quickly sparked significant alarm among Republicans as well as Democrats.

    “The president can sign whatever executive orders he likes. But the law is the law,” said Republican Sen. John McCain, who was beaten when he was held captive during the Vietnam War. “We are not bringing back torture in the United States of America.”

    On the campaign trail, Trump spoke emphatically about toughening the U.S. approach to fighting the Islamic State group. He said he would authorize waterboarding and a “hell of a lot worse.” Since becoming president, however, he has tempered those calls, noting his Defense Secretary James Mattis’ advice that torture is ineffective.

    Mike Pompeo, Trump’s CIA director, said in his confirmation hearing that he would abide by all laws. But he also said he’d consult with CIA and other government experts on whether current restrictions were an “impediment to gathering vital intelligence to protect the country or whether any rewrite of the Army Field Manual is needed.”

    Specifically, Trump’s draft order calls for reinstating an executive order — “to the extent permitted” by current law — that President George W. Bush signed in 2007 and Obama later revoked as one of his first actions.

    The Bush order provides only broad guidelines about permissible methods for questioning high-value terror suspects, with a vaguely worded ban on cruel and inhuman treatment. Some specific practices, such as sexual abuse, were explicitly banned, but the full rules were classified.

    While Obama tightened interrogation rules, Trump’s draft would reverse a pair of the former president’s executive orders. One called for closing Guantanamo Bay. The other ordered the CIA to shut any detention facility it operated and prohibited the U.S. from using any interrogation technique not listed in the Army Field Manual, demanding treatment in compliance with the Geneva Conventions, including timely access for the International Red Cross to all detainees.

    Any changes would face steep legal and legislative hurdles.

    McCain, the Senate Armed Services Committee’s chairman, may be the most formidable opponent in Congress, but he is not the only one. Other Republican lawmakers could object to the Bush-era policies that proved highly divisive within the intelligence community and strained ties with key U.S. allies overseas. Democrats are sure to oppose almost anything the review proposes.

    “It is wrong and I hope he will rethink it,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said.

    On Guantanamo, the draft order says detention facilities “are a critical tool in the fight against international jihadist terrorist groups who are engaged in armed conflict with the United States, its allies and its coalition partners.” About 40 detainees remain in Guantanamo.

    The document says “over 30 percent of detainees” who’ve been released have returned to armed conflict, with at least a dozen conducting attacks “against U.S. personnel or allied forces in Afghanistan.” Six Americans, including a civilian aid worker, died as a result of those attacks.

    U.S. intelligence agencies say 17.6 percent of detainees released from Guantanamo are confirmed to have re-engaged in conflict. An additional 12.4 percent are “suspected” of re-engaging.

    Trump pledged on the campaign trail to “load it up with some bad dudes,” and Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican nominated for attorney general, said at his confirmation hearing that it has functioned “marvelously” as a jail for militants.

    It’s unclear who the new detainees would be. As American ground troops have stepped back this decade from the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, captures of high-level detainees have become much rarer, and Obama tried to direct them through the U.S. justice system.

    AP writer Bradley Klapper and Eric Tucker in Washington and Paisley Dodds in London contributed to this report.

    The post Trump draft order could lead to new CIA-run ‘black sites’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of Defense James Mattis (R) meets with Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense James Mattis (R) meets with Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary James Mattis will travel to Japan and South Korea next week for his first overseas visit since taking office, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

    A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said Mattis would meet with his Korean counterpart in Seoul on Feb. 2 and his Japanese counterpart the following day. The U.S. has thousands of troops based in both countries.

    “The trip will underscore the commitment of the United States to our enduring alliances with Japan and the Republic of Korea, and further strengthen U.S.-Japan-Republic of Korea security cooperation,” Davis said.

    At his Senate confirmation hearing and in his first days in office, Mattis, a retired Marine general, has stressed the importance of maintaining international alliances. President Donald Trump raised concerns during the campaign by asserting that some allies are not pulling their weight and by suggesting that he might not object to Japan or South Korea developing their own nuclear weapons if they do not pay more for U.S. military support.

    The post Mattis to visit Japan, South Korea on first overseas trip as Pentagon chief appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Greenpeace activists hung a large banner reading “RESIST” from a 270-foot construction crane in downtown Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning to protest President Donald Trump.

    “It is a message to this administration,” Nancy Pili Hernandez, a Greenpeace activist based in San Francisco, said on a Facebook livestream as she hung from the crane with safety harnesses. “But more than that, this is a hand-painted love letter to you. This is a message to the people.”

    Environmental groups have sharply criticized several steps Trump has taken during his first days in office, including signing executive orders that revive plans to build the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.

    Greenpeace confirmed in a statement that seven activists climbed the crane and hung the 70-foot by 35-foot banner, which is visible from the White House. As of 12:45 p.m. EDT, they were still perched on the crane.

    The protest disrupted traffic around 15th and L streets Northwest, where the crane is located, the Washington Post reported. It is part of a construction site where new Fannie Mae offices are being built.

    “People in this country are ready to resist and rise up in ways they have never done before,” Greenpeace board chair Karen Topakian said in a statement on Wednesday. “While Trump’s disdain and disrespect for our democratic institutions scare me, I am so inspired by the multigenerational movement of progress that is growing in every state.”

    The organization cited the Women’s March and related demonstrations that took place around the world last weekend, in which millions of people marched to protest Trump and voice support for a range of issues that include reproductive rights, immigrants’ rights and environmental justice.

    Greenpeace, an international environmental organization, is known for using protests and demonstrations to confront authorities and politicians on environmental policy.

    Greenpeace executive director Annie Leonard said Tuesday in a statement that “a powerful alliance of Indigenous communities, ranchers, farmers, and climate activists” stopped the pipeline construction and will continue to oppose it.

    “Keystone, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and fossil fuel infrastructure projects like them will only make billionaires richer and make the rest of us suffer,” Leonard said. “We will resist this with all of our power and we will continue to build the future the world wants to see.”

    The post Greenpeace activists hang ‘RESIST’ banner from crane to protest Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The White House says certain government agencies are taking action to address the “inappropriate” use of social media.

    White House press secretary Sean Spicer addressed an incident at the Defense Department in which tweets were sent from the department’s official account that suggested underhanded criticism of President Donald Trump’s policies.

    Spicer said an “unauthorized user” had an old password and logged into the Twitter account from the San Francisco office, then tweeted “inappropriate things that were in violation of their policy.”

    He also cited an incident last year at the Environmental Protection Agency, saying both agencies are going to take action.

    E-mails sent to EPA staff and reviewed by The Associated Press detailed specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency’s social media accounts as part of a push by the Trump administration to institute a media blackout.

    Also, President Donald Trump is signing two executive orders in keeping with campaign promises to boost border security and crack down on immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

    The president signed the two orders Wednesday during a ceremony at the Department of Homeland Security after honoring the department’s newly confirmed secretary, retired Gen. John Kelly.

    The executive orders jumpstart construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall, one of his signature campaign promises, and strip funding for so-called sanctuary cities, which don’t arrest or detain immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

    Spicer also said that President Donald Trump plans to open an investigation into voter fraud “to understand where the problem exists, how deep it goes.”

    Trump tweets on Wednesday calling for the investigation revisited unsubstantiated claims he’s made repeatedly about a rigged voting system.

    Spicer did not provide many details as to what the probe would look like, calling it at one point “a task force.”

    He suggested that the probe would focus on dead people who remained on the voter rolls and people registered in two or more states. In particular, he singled out “bigger states” where the Trump campaign “didn’t compete” in the election.

    There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud occurring in November’s election.

    Watch his remarks in the player above.

    The Associated Press wrote this report.

    The post WATCH: Sean Spicer addresses immigration, voter fraud in daily news briefing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    2016 Rio Olympics - Athletics - Final - Men's 200m Final - Olympic Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 18/08/2016. Usain Bolt (JAM) of Jamaica tears off his number tags from his shorts and throws them to the ground after winning the gold.    REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson  TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.   - RTX2LYCQ

    Usain Bolt of Jamaica tears off his number tags from his shorts and throws them to the ground after winning the gold in the Rio Olympics on Aug. 18, 2016. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Usain Bolt has been stripped of one of his nine Olympic gold medals after a teammate tested positive for a banned substance.

    The International Olympic Committee said Wednesday that Jamaican runner Nesta Carter tested positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine when his urine samples from the Beijing 2008 Olympics were reanalyzed. The substance is banned under Olympic anti-doping rules.

    As a result, the committee has disqualified Carter and the Jamaican team from the men’s 4x100m relay event, which the team had won in the 2008 Olympics.

    The IOC said the corresponding medals, pins and diplomas that were awarded to the athletes must be returned.

    Carter did not challenge the results.

    Bolt did not immediately respond to the news. In June, after Reuters reported that Carter failed a doping test, Bolt told the news agency it was “heartbreaking,” but added, “if I need to give back my gold medal I’d have to give it back, it’s not a problem for me.”

    The IOC has asked the International Association of Athletics Federations, which governs track and field around the world, to modify the results of the relay and to consider “further action within its own competence.”

    Trinidad and Tobago, which won the silver medal in the 2008 men’s 4x100m relay, will receive the gold medal. Japan and Brazil are expected to receive the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

    The committee also announced Russian athlete Tatiana Lebedeva, who participated in the women’s triple jump and the women’s long jump events in 2008, has been disqualified after testing positive for the steroid dehydrochlormethyltestosterone.

    The post Bolt loses gold medal after teammate fails anti-doping test appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Gangster Al Capone poses for a mugshot on his arrival at the Federal Penitentiary at Alcatraz on Aug. 22, 1934 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

    Gangster Al Capone poses for a mugshot on his arrival at the Federal Penitentiary at Alcatraz on Aug. 22, 1934 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

    January 25 marks the 70th anniversary of Al Capone’s death. Better known as “Scarface Al” (a nickname Capone hated) or, as the FBI once referred to him, “Public Enemy No. 1,” Capone is considered by many to be the most famous gangster in American history.

    Yet after he was finally imprisoned for his life of crime, it was neither case law nor strong-armed tactics that set him free. It was, in fact, a tiny microbe called Treponema pallidum.

    Capone’s storied career included running gambling rings and bordellos, loansharking operations, protection services, murderous rampages, and a slew of other nefarious activities, all of which have served as the source for hundreds of motion pictures and television shows.

    He was born in Brooklyn on January 17, 1899, and his parents, Gabriel Capone (a barber) and Teresa Raiola, were immigrants from Naples. True to form, Al was kicked out of public school at age 14 for hitting his teacher in the face. Shortly thereafter, he took to the streets as a low-ranking thug and gangster.

    After he was finally imprisoned for his life of crime, it was neither case law nor strong-armed tactics that set him free. It was, in fact, a tiny microbe called Treponema pallidum.

    Sometime around 1920 (historians argue over the precise date), Capone stepped on the fast track to becoming a “made guy” when he was recruited by Johnny Torrio (whom Capone considered his mentor) to join “Big Jim” Colosimo’s crew in Chicago. The two later colluded to murder Big Jim so that Torrio could take over the Colosimo’s business.

    It was Al Capone’s first job in Chicago, as a bouncer in one of Colosimo’s bordellos, where our medical story begins. Eager to partake in the business’s offerings, Capone sampled many of the prostitutes working there and, soon enough, contracted syphilis. Capone was too ashamed to seek out medical attention for his “venereal disease.” As a result, his disease was allowed to fester and progress in an unchecked manner. Yet at this point in medical history, even if he had consulted a physician, there was no guarantee of cure. Salvarsan, or arsphenamine, the medication for which Paul Ehrlich won the 1908 Nobel Prize, was a fairly good treatment for what was once known as “the Great Pox” but it was hardly perfect. Indeed, syphilis remained a major cause of death in the United States until after World War II when the real magic bullet, penicillin, became widely available.

    Al Capone smiles as he smokes a cigar on his way to Atlanta Federal Penitentiary after conviction for Federal Income Tax Evasion on  May 4, 1932, in Chicago. Photo by Popperfoto and Getty Images

    Al Capone smiles as he smokes a cigar on his way to Atlanta Federal Penitentiary after conviction for Federal Income Tax Evasion on May 4, 1932, in Chicago. Photo by Popperfoto and Getty Images

    Syphilis has three major stages. The primary stage is heralded by a painless sore, or chancre. Because the infection is typically transmitted sexually, that sore is most commonly found on the genitals and appears anywhere from three to 90 days after exposure. After the chancre heals, the infected person then experiences a rash over all or much of the body. This secondary stage occurs four to 10 weeks after exposure. And then the infection goes quiet — without any symptoms or problems for years. But syphilis is merely fooling the infected individual that all is well. Over the next several years, the syphilis microbes are pathologically boring their way into various organs of the body, especially the liver, the heart and the brain. When the symptoms of this damage do appear (the third stage of syphilis), a decade or more after infection, it is typically too late to change the disease’s march toward killing the infected person.

    Syphilis remained a major cause of death in the United States until after World War II when the real magic bullet, penicillin, became widely available.

    Al Capone, of course, graduated to terrorizing Chicago and beyond. It took dozens of years of criminal mayhem before the U.S. federal government finally nailed him in 1931 for, of all things, tax evasion. He was sentenced to 11 years, first at a federal penitentiary in Atlanta and, soon after it opened in 1934, Alcatraz Island, the famed prison in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

    “The Rock,” as Alcatraz was nicknamed, was widely heralded to be inescapable. Not so for Al Capone whose unchecked syphilis destroyed his brain while he was an inmate there, confined to Cell No. 181.

    Neurosyphilis has many manifestations along the central and peripheral nervous system but Capone’s case was notable for making him certifiably insane. He often failed to follow the guards’ orders even at the penalty of severe punishment, less out of defiance than out of an inability to intellectually process them. Occasionally, he wore a “strange grin” on his face and even dressed up in his winter coat, hat and gloves while sitting quietly in his heated cell. At other times, he was somewhat lucid.

    His wife, Mae, seized on Al’s increasingly odd behavior and petitioned the warden to release him from Alcatraz. The “fact” that cinched the deal was a formal diagnosis of syphilis of the brain made in February of 1938. Capone was released on Nov. 16, 1939 on the grounds of “good behavior” and, more cogently, his medical condition.

    Capone’s life back “on the outside” was hardly a picnic. His physical and mental health continued to deteriorate and his syphilis worsened with each passing year until his death in Florida, of heart failure, on Jan. 25, 1947. He was only 48.

    Yet how ironic, despite all the “tommy guns” Capone shot at others, it was “a shot of syphilis” — as the vernacular of the day referred to such infections — that served as his “get out of jail free” card.

    The post The infectious disease that sprung Al Capone from Alcatraz appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    President Donald Trump addressed his latest executive actions from the Department of Homeland Security.

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump moved aggressively to tighten the nation’s immigration policies Wednesday, signing executive actions to jumpstart construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall and block federal grants from immigrant-protecting “sanctuary cities.”

    “We’ve been talking about this right from the beginning,” Trump said during a brief signing ceremony at the Department of Homeland Security.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, the White House had not circulated copies of the documents or briefed reporters on the details, as has been typical practice in past administrations. But Trump cast his actions as fulfillment of his campaign pledge to enact hard-line immigration measures, including construction of a wall paid for by Mexico. U.S. taxpayers are expected to pay for the upfront costs, though Trump continues to assert that Mexico will reimburse the money through unspecified means.

    In an interview with ABC News earlier Wednesday, Trump said, “There will be a payment; it will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form.”

    While Trump has repeatedly said the border structure will be a wall, his spokesman Sean Spicer said more generally Wednesday the president was ordering construction of a “large physical barrier.”

    Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has insisted his country will not pay for a wall, is to meet with Trump at the White House next week.

    The orders Trump signed Wednesday also increase the number of border patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to be hired. And the president ordered the end of what Republicans have labeled a catch-and-release system at the border. Currently, some immigrants caught crossing the border illegally are released and given notices to report back to immigration officials at a later date.

    A boy looks as U.S. workers build a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall at Sunland Park, U.S. opposite the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Photo by Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

    A boy looks as U.S. workers build a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall at Sunland Park, U.S. opposite the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Photo by Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

    Later in the week, Trump is expected to sign orders restricting the flow of refugees into the United States. His current proposal includes at least a four-month halt on all refugee admissions, as well as a temporary ban on people coming from some Muslim-majority countries, according to a source from a public policy organization that monitors refugee issues. The person was briefed on the details of that proposed action by a government official and outlined the plan to The Associated Press.

    The public policy organization source insisted on anonymity in order to outline the plans ahead of the president’s official announcements.

    Trump campaigned on pledges to tighten U.S. immigration policies, including strengthening border security and stemming the flow of refugees. His call for a border wall was among his most popular proposals with supporters, who often broke out in chants of “build that wall” during rallies.

    In response to terrorism concerns, Trump controversially called for halting entry to the U.S. from Muslim countries. He later turned to a focus on “extreme vetting” for those coming from countries with terrorism ties.

    To build the wall, the president may rely on a 2006 law that authorized several hundred miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile frontier. That bill led to the construction of about 700 miles of various kinds of fencing designed to block both vehicles and pedestrians.

    The Secure Fence Act was signed by then-President George W. Bush, and the majority of that fencing in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California was built before he left office. The last remnants were completed after President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

    The Trump administration also must adhere to a decades-old border treaty with Mexico that limits where and how structures can be buil. The 1970 treaty requires that structures cannot disrupt the flow of the rivers, which define the U.S.-Mexico border along Texas and 24 miles in Arizona, according to The International Boundary and Water Commission, a joint U.S.-Mexican agency that administers the treaty.

    Trump’s order to crack down on sanctuary cities — locales that don’t cooperate with immigration authorities — could cost individual jurisdictions millions of dollars. But the administration may face legal challenges, given that some federal courts have found that local jurisdictions cannot hold immigrants beyond their jail term or deny them bond based only a request from immigration authorities.

    It appeared as though the refugee restrictions were still being finalized. The person briefed on the proposals said they included a ban on entry to the U.S. for at least 30 days from countries including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, though the person cautioned the details could still change.

    There is also likely to be an exception for those fleeing religious persecution if their religion is a minority in their country. That exception could cover Christians fleeing Muslim-majority nations.

    As president, Trump can use an executive order to halt refugee processing. Bush used that same power in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. Refugee security vetting was reviewed and the process was restarted several months later.

    Zoll reported from New York. AP writer Alicia A. Caldwell in Washington contributed to this report.

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

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    Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Turning now to another initiative from the president, this one about the integrity of our elections.

    Mr. Trump has again repeated the unproven claim that millions of illegal votes were cast in the last election, and now he says he will order a federal investigation to look into it.

    William Brangham has that story.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We’re in a rigged system, folks. We’re in a rigged system. They even want to try to rig the election at the polling booths.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: He made it a rallying cry during his presidential campaign. Now, having won the White House, President Trump is raising the issue yet again.

    On Twitter today, he announced: “I will be asking for a major investigation into voter fraud. Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures.”

    This follows his remarks to congressional leaders on Monday, where, in a closed-door meeting, the president repeated his claim that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote only because of three to five million illegal votes being cast for her.

    In fact, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the presidential election last fall. And what’s more, previous studies have found no such evidence going back to 2000.

    Top Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, underscored that point yesterday.

    REP. PAUL RYAN, R-Wis., Speaker of the House: I have seen no evidence to that effect. And I have made that very, very clear.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham went further, telling the president to knock it off.

    SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: If the president of the United States is claiming that 3 to 3.5 million people voted illegally, that shakes confidence in our democracy. He needs to disclose why he believes that.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Still, the president persists, as his White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, acknowledged on Tuesday.

    SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: He continues to maintain that belief.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And President Trump’s pick for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, said at his confirmation hearing this month that he believes — quote — “We regularly have fraudulent activities occur during election cycles.”

    Today, White House spokesman Spicer said the investigation that the president wants is about the integrity of the system.

    SEAN SPICER: There’s a lot of people that are dead that are on rolls. There are people that are voting in tow places or that are on the rolls in two different states. I think taking the necessary steps to study and to track what we can do to understand is something that is definitely, clearly in the best interests.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Senator Bernie Sanders and leading Democrats fired back that the president is actually — quote — “telling Republicans to accelerate voter suppression” with stricter voter I.D. laws.

    Spicer acknowledged today that expanding controversial voter I.D. laws could be one outcome of the investigation.

    For more on the president’s unproven allegations and his call for an investigation, I’m joined now by Rick Hasen. He’s a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, and writes the Election Law Blog, and by Alex Padilla, who is California’s secretary of state. He’s a Democrat, and he oversees elections there.

    Gentlemen, welcome to you both.

    Rick Hasen, I would like to start with you.

    The allegation on the table is that three or four or five million people voted illegally in this last election. Is there any evidence that that went on?

    RICK HASEN, University of California, Irvine: There’s no evidence that that went on. There is no evidence even that thousands or even hundreds of illegal votes were cast.

    And, you know, think about five million people involved in a conspiracy that no one has been able to detect, even in those states with Republican secretaries of state that are looking out for this kind of fraud that is supposedly happening. It is just a ludicrous idea.

    And if you were going do this and engage in this vast conspiracy, you would think that you would be able to actually swing the results of the election and put maybe 10,000 or 20,000 more votes in Michigan and in Pennsylvania. It just — it is a ludicrous accusation.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Secretary of State Padilla, the same question to you. You oversaw an election in the biggest state in the country. How much election fraud did you see in your state?

    ALEX PADILLA, California Secretary of State: Look, I can honestly tell that you we have zero evidence of any non-citizens voting in the November election here in the state of California.

    We take voter fraud very seriously and invite anybody that has information about irregularities or wrongdoing to bring it forward. And we’re happy to look into it. I extended that offer to team Trump back in November. And that offer still stands.

    But, like Rick mentioned, there’s zero evidence of this happening. Here’s what my bigger concern is. And I think the more that President Trump and the administration calls into question the integrity of the elections, they’re simply setting the stage for proposed changes to policy and changes to law that will follow that will take our country backwards as it pertains to voting rights.

    And we need to push back every step of the way.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Mr. Padilla, though, staying with you, a lot of conservatives will argue that if you don’t need to have an I.D. to prove you are who you say you are when you go to vote, couldn’t there be widespread voter fraud, and you just wouldn’t know about it?

    ALEX PADILLA: There’s a lot of hypotheticals that people would like to kind of put out there to create the concern, to create the doubt.

    But the fact of the matter is, voter fraud isn’t something that we just started paying attention to in this November election. It is a question that comes up in each and every election cycle. And there has been study after study, report after report, investigation after investigation in a variety of sectors that all conclude the same thing.

    Voter fraud may be very, very isolated, but at the end of the day, it is nearly nonexistent.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Rick, a question for you.

    Sean Spicer today tried to seemingly dial down the accusations that Donald Trump had made. And he said that the investigation, if it goes forward, will look at things like dead people on the voter rolls or people being registered in two different states.

    Interestingly today, it turned out that the president’s daughter, his commerce secretary pick and his counselor Steve Bannon were themselves all registered to vote in two different states.

    But those things happening, dead people on voter rolls or registering in two states, is that evidence of fraud?

    RICK HASEN: Well, there is occasional fraud.

    But almost all of these accusations of dead people voting turn out to be either bureaucratic incompetence or voter error. So, a few years ago, there was a sensationalized statement in North Carolina that there were tons of dead people voting. And when they actually investigated, they found that not one of those involved voter fraud.

    Mostly what they involved was either a mistake where, say, a senior was confused for a junior, or a voter signed on the wrong line in the poll book. And there is a lot of dead wood. There are a lot of people who move from one state to another. That may be what is happening with some of the people in the Trump administration.

    And their old registration is not canceled. But we have very little evidence of people engaging in — certainly in impersonation fraud, which you mentioned earlier, double voting, very rare.

    The kind of fraud that does happen, when it does happen, tends to be absentee ballot fraud. And that is the one kind of fraud I have not heard Donald Trump mentioning anything about trying to cut down on.

    If we really cared about fraud, that would be number one on the list. And it’s not even on the list, apparently.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Secretary Padilla, we often see, after there are accusations of voter fraud, very soon thereafter, there are attempts to crack down and to pass stiffer voting I.D. laws. Do you expect to see that in the wake of this investigation?

    ALEX PADILLA: That’s frankly my biggest fear here.

    You know, we have heard the allegations starting in November about rampant voter fraud with not a shred of evidence or proof to back it up. Now we are hearing not just those allegations yet again, but now a call for a major investigation, to use his words, an investigation based on allegations that are not based in reality or in any evidence whatsoever.

    That’s where we are today. And like I said, if this is simply setting the tone for going backwards on voting rights in America, that is something that we ought to be concerned about and be prepared to push back on, because we have seen the playbook. Look what has happened in state after state after state across the country, overly aggressive purging of voter rolls, very creatively written voter I.D. laws, the elimination or significant reduction of early voting opportunities, making it harder for American citizens to be registered to vote and to actually cast a ballot.

    That’s unpatriotic, in my opinion, un-American and undemocratic.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Rick Hasen, let’s say this investigation that is being called for by the Trump administration goes forward. Could it be a good thing? If so, how would you like it to unfold?

    RICK HASEN: Well, I think if we had an investigation into the extent to which there is voter fraud and suppression, and we had it with bipartisan, well-respected people in charge, as we had in 200, when we had Presidents Carter and Ford, or in 2004, when we had President Carter and James Baker, or in 2008, when we had Ben Ginsberg and Bob Bauer, two Republican and Democratic election lawyers, if we had professionals, we had election administrators all involved, and we looked at the whole picture, do these laws suppress more votes than prevent — than the amount of fraud they prevent, I think that would be a great thing.

    I just don’t think that that is what Donald Trump’s administration is going to set up. And so I don’t have a lot of confidence that the investigation would be a full, fair investigation on a bipartisan basis that really looks at evidence to get to the truth.

    ALEX PADILLA: And I would offer two things, if I may.

    Short term, if the president really was interested about the integrity of the November election that just took place, he ought to pick up that intelligence briefing. The intelligence community is unanimous in their findings that there was foreign interference with our elections this November.

    The president ought to acknowledge that and he should act on that. Longer term, if the Trump administration really wants to be helpful and the Republican Congress really wants to be helpful, there would be another round of election funding. The last time there was significant investment into how we conduct elections came in the wake of Florida in 2000.

    Congress acted on a bipartisan basis, put moneys out to the state for the upgrade of our voting systems. But those systems are now more than a decade old. And as the Brennan Center and other bipartisan commissions have told us, that is probably the ticking time bomb threat to our elections. We need to invest in new equipment.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Alex Padilla, the secretary of state of California, and Rick Hasen, U.C. Irvine, thank you both very much.

    ALEX PADILLA: Thanks.

    RICK HASEN: Thank you.

    The post Will Trump talk of voter fraud threaten legitimate voter rights? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A copy of George Orwell's "1984." Credit: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton.

    A copy of George Orwell’s “1984.” Credit: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton.

    Double think. Newspeak. Thought crime. Memory hole. These are the remembered phrases of George Orwell’s dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” about a futuristic totalitarian state run by “Big Brother.” It surged to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list Wednesday–President Donald Trump’s sixth day in office.

    According to CNN, Penguin has begun printing more copies of “Nineteen Eighty-Four” to meet the demand.

    The increase in sales appears to have started after Trump senior advisor Kellyanne Conway used the term “alternative facts” in an interview Sunday, which British historian and Orwell biographer Peter Stansky said was a phrase that “is very Orwellian, very ‘Newspeak.’”

    In “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” “Newspeak” is the language of the state used to suppress thought.

    Stansky believes that the increase in sales of the novel, which Orwell wrote in 1949 as a warning to the Western world about the totalitarianism of his era, is a direct response to President Trump’s efforts to manipulate facts during his first week in office.

    WATCH: Trump administration wastes no time in fighting the press over facts

    In  “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” protagonist Winston Smith works at a propaganda department for the state, called the “Ministry of Truth,” where inconvenient news can be discarded down a “memory hole.”  Orwell was fixated on the idea that under certain governments, the past can be altered or documents rewritten.

    Stansky sees echoes of this in Trump’s false claims this week of voter fraud and larger inauguration crowd sizes.

    The question is, when somebody is looking that up 10, 20 years from now, will they say,  ‘Oh yes, there were more people at inauguration,’ because Trump said so?” Stansky said, a question he is also fascinated by as a historian. He cites a famous line in “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” a party slogan: “Who controls the past, controls the future.”

    But Stansky and other historians also say that to a certain extent, Orwell’s fears about a mutable past have already come true with the rise of the Internet, where anything can be rewritten or deleted.

    And John Rodden, who has written 10 books on Orwell, said this is not the first time sales of “Nineteen Eighty-Four” have surged since it was published. He remembers when sales went up in the early 1980s, which Rodden says was not just about the approach of the year 1984, but also driven by “similar anxieties about a new administration”–when Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, he “was looked upon by many liberals and radicals as a warmonger.”

    “[Reagan] was even called ‘Big Brother,’ though few remember that,” Rodden said. “And some of those same fears are happening now, even though we don’t have a superpower confrontation.”

    Another time sales of the novel spiked was in 2013, after revelations by whistle-blower Edward Snowden about the extent of U.S. surveillance operations. In “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” the state keeps constant watch on its citizens to spot potential “thought-crimes” or rebellion.

    Richard Keeble, chairman of The Orwell Society and editor of the book of scholarship, “Orwell Today,” said Orwell would also have critiqued other aspects of Obama’s presidency. “In terms of double-think”–a term defined in the novel as the ability to hold two pieces of contradictory information at one time–“let’s think back to a so-called Nobel peace prize winner who waged war for most years of his presidency,” Keeble said.

    The point, Keeble said, is that Orwell cannot fit neatly into certain boxes; he was non-conformist in his thinking, and “where the dominant line was going, he tended to critique it.”

    But Keeble, Stansky and Rodden all said Trump’s presidency has sparked fears that bring a new level of relevance to the book, particularly because of the way Trump deploys language.

    Much has been written about Trump’s style of speech, which linguists have said is often unintelligible, yet deeply compelling. Orwell’s famous 1946 essay, “Politics and the English Language,” centers on the use of abstract words, often by politicians, to obscure reality.  

    “Trump’s use of language to hide things, and not be specific, this is all more resonant now,” Stansky said. “But the chief resonance is really the importance of power … and how power corrupts.”

    The post George Orwell’s ‘1984’ is a best-seller again. Here’s why it resonates now appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Pedestrians walk past fences and and barb wire as they make their way from Mexico to the United States at the border crossing in San Ysidro, California, U.S., January 25, 2017.   REUTERS/Mike Blake - RTSXD2R

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We take a deeper look now at President Trump’s executive actions on immigration and border security with Marielena Hincapie, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. It’s an immigrant rights group. And Jessica Vaughan, she’s from the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for tougher border security.

    And we welcome both of you to the program.

    Marielena, I’m going to start with you.

    Overall reaction to what the president had to say today?

    MARIELENA HINCAPIE, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center: Well, Judy, we are — we find this announcement today as an extremist policy.

    I think President Trump’s campaign rhetoric that was anti-immigrant, xenophobic, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim today is becoming a harsh reality. And it’s sending a message of great fear to immigrant communities across the country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Jessica Vaughan, reaction to what he had to say overall?

    JESSICA VAUGHAN, Center for Immigration Studies: This is a very impressive set of actions. He really went big.

    But that is what was needed to restore integrity to our immigration system, and to not only secure the border, but also restart interior enforcement, which has collapsed in the last few years, and shine that not only do we need border security, but it has to be backed up by policies that make sure that people cannot game our system.

    You know, the end to the catch and release system that’s been in place for the last few years is going to make a big difference in deterring future illegal immigration. And that’s important. We needed to start sending that message to people that they aren’t going to be able to get away with just getting to the United States, getting in, and then being home-free from enforcement.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me pick up on that and ask Marielena Hincapie about that.

    What about — the president said, we’re going to stop the so-called catch and release, where they were stopping people, arresting them, but then letting them go and said come back for a certain court date.


    And the reason that people are being allowed to go before an immigration judge is because many of the people, particularly from Central America in the recent, last couple of years were people that actually, once they went before an immigration judge, were able to show that they had a credible fear and that they were eligible for asylum.

    This is a country where we believe that every single person should have their fair day in court. That is no different in our immigration system. The problem is, we have a very dysfunctional immigration system, very few immigration judges.

    And, in fact, one of the things that President Trump has done, not today, but in some of his previous announcements, has been to freeze all federal hires. And that includes immigration judges.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Jessica Vaughan, if it is a system that could have been working if there were enough people, enough federal employees to make it work, why then dismantle it and go back and say we won’t release you anymore?

    JESSICA VAUGHAN: Well, the system has been exploited and too many cases dumped on the immigration courts that should never have been there.

    There are other forms of due process that ICE could have been using and the Border Patrol could have been using all these years that would have been resolved much more quickly and used less resources, and brought about a quicker resolution to the case for the illegal immigrant.

    But what’s going to happen now is, they’re going to put resources at the border, so that the Border Patrol can resolve these cases. There will be asylum officers and immigration judges there, so that any applications for asylum can be dealt with very quickly.

    And what we won’t see is tens of thousands of people admitted into the country who then skip out on their immigration hearings or are not successful in getting asylum, but then just disappear into the woodwork and ICE is told not to go looking for them.

    That is what makes our system so dysfunctional now, and that’s what is going to change under these actions.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Marielena Hincapie, one of the things the president announced was hiring more Border Patrol agents, hiring more immigration officials. Why isn’t that a good thing in order to enforce the law?

    MARIELENA HINCAPIE: We actually already have a lot of both Border Patrol agents and immigration agents.

    What is happening, Judy, is, one, is a lot of what was announced today, particularly with respect to the wall, particularly with respect to the number of Border Patrol and immigration agents, frankly, is political theatrics.

    None of that is going to go into effect without congressional appropriations, without more money, more federal spending. And, in fact, it is us as taxpayers that will pay for all of that.

    Part of what was really troubling about today’s announcements is, as Jessica mentioned, it’s not just at the border, but in the interior, the orders begin, the executive order today begins by saying that every individual, right — we’re talking about the 11 million undocumented immigrants — are considered a national security threat, a public safety threat.

    That includes people who are taking care of our children. It includes people who are picking our fruits and vegetables. It includes people who are serving us at restaurants. Those are not individuals who are, in fact, national security threats. They are our neighbors. They are part of our families.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to ask you both about the wall.

    But, before I do that, let me ask you, Jessica Vaughan, about this notion. Did the president send a signal today that every one of these, whether it’s 11 million or 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country, are a threat?

    JESSICA VAUGHAN: No, I don’t think that’s what is being said at all.

    Under the law, of course, anyone who is here illegally is potentially subject to deportation. But these orders focus very clearly on deterring illegal immigration, dealing very quickly with people who cross the border illegally, and enforcing the law in the interior of the country, with criminal aliens being the top priority.

    So, that is appropriate. That’s smart enforcement. That’s what has been missing for the last eight years. And, yes, enforcement costs money, but illegal immigration and tolerating illegal immigration costs much more. The National Academy of Science has found that it’s something like $50 billion a year that goes to services to illegal alien-headed households.

    And it’s about time that we get back on track and start enforcing the law again. That’s what the public expects. That’s why they voted for Donald Trump in part.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You want to respond quickly to that, and then we’re going to ask about …



    So, actually, that’s not what has been missing, Judy. Under President Obama, he was in fact focusing on people with criminal convictions.

    What is different here is, in addition to focusing on individuals with criminal convictions, this executive order actually says that individuals who have been charged with a crime, even if they haven’t been convicted, even someone who may have done something that is considered to be a crime would be priorities for enforcement.

    Again, that is deeply troubling in a country when we believe that people are innocent until proven guilty. Due process is critical to both our criminal justice system, as well as our immigration.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Jessica Vaughan, only a minute left.

    On the wall, the president said throughout the campaign this was something going to be paid for by Mexico. Today, though, he said, at least initially, the taxpayers will pay for it. Did you want him to go farther than that? Is this what you expected?

    JESSICA VAUGHAN: This is pretty much what I expected.

    It will take time to raise the revenue from other sources, whether it’s Mexico or illegal aliens or, you know, through remittances or withheld tax refunds or visa fees or what have you. There are lots of different ways to raise that revenue.

    But I think Congress is very willing and the public is very willing to put taxpayer funds up front to get this enforcement going right away and to improve security at the border, because, as I said, it’s a lot more expensive not to enforce the law.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quick, 10 seconds on the wall.

    MARIELENA HINCAPIE: This is political theatrics, Judy.

    Mexico was never going to pay for this wall. We as taxpayers are now stuck with that bill. Everything that has been announced by President Trump is extreme, it’s expensive, and ineffective.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we are going to continue to it look at this. We know more will be unfolding in the days to come on the question of immigration.

    Marielena Hincapie, Jessica Vaughan, thank you.


    JESSICA VAUGHAN: You’re welcome.

    The post What do Trump’s new orders on immigration really do? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Construction on the area around the port of entry from Mexico to the United States continues next to the border wall in San Ysidro, California, U.S., January 25, 2017.   REUTERS/Mike Blake - RTSXD1F

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Day three of this first White House workweek, and the focus today turned to the southern border.

    President Trump moved to make good on long-promised action to stop illegal crossings.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have been talking about this right from the beginning.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Department of Homeland Security was the backdrop for getting tough on immigration. The president signed two executive orders, one to start work on completing a wall along the Mexican border.

    DONALD TRUMP: You folks know how badly needed it is as a help, but very badly need. This will also help Mexico by deterring illegal immigration from Central America and by disrupting violent cartel networks.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The wall was a signature promise from the campaign, and so was his insistence about who will foot the bill.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Who’s going to pay for the wall?

    AUDIENCE: Mexico!

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Not even a doubt. OK?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, before signing off on the wall, Mr. Trump told ABC News that while construction could begin within months, Mexico will not be paying up front.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And we will be, in a form, reimbursed by Mexico, which I have always said.

    QUESTION: So they will pay us back?

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Yes, absolutely, 100 percent.

    QUESTION: So the American taxpayer will pay for the wall at first?

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: All it is, is, we will be reimbursed at a later date from whatever transaction we make from Mexico.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, at the announcement, the president said construction would start immediately. Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto has insisted his government will not pay for a wall, but he is due to visit Washington next week, and Mr. Trump said today he is optimistic about that meeting.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: By working together on a positive trend, safe borders, and economic cooperation, I truly believe we can enhance the relation between our two nations, to a degree not seen before, certainly, in a very, very long time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president also acted today to boost the number of Border Patrol and immigration agents, and strip federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities that shield undocumented immigrants from arrest or detention.

    In addition, he moved to end the practice of taking undocumented immigrants into custody, but then releasing them with orders to report in later. Beyond immigration, the president was busy today on other matters. With a series of tweets, he said he will announce his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy on February 2, he promised to order an investigation into alleged voter fraud, and he threatened to send in federal authorities to curb Chicago’s record surge of gun violence.

    In response, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel said today he would welcome federal help.

    MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL, Chicago: Chicago, like other cities right now that are dealing with gun violence, wants the partnership with federal law enforcement, at least in a more significant way than we’re having it today, whether that’s the FBI, the DEA, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the ATF.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tomorrow, the president heads to Philadelphia to address the congressional Republican retreat. The White House indicates he will also announce steps in coming days to restrict refugees entering the U.S.

    A senior Mexican official now says that President Pena Nieto is considering canceling his trip to Washington because of the order to start work on the border wall. We will focus in detail on Mr. Trump’s immigration orders and on his call for investigating voter fraud after the news summary.

    In the day’s other news: The White House distanced itself from news reports that it may order a major review of handling terror suspects. The reports said that a draft executive order could allow for renewed use of banned interrogation methods, and for reopening so-called black site prisons outside the U.S.

    Presidential spokesman Sean Spicer said it wasn’t a White House document, but he declined to say more.

    A big day on Wall Street, as the Dow Jones industrial average, for the first time, broke the 20000 barrier. The Dow gained 155 points, to close at 20068. The Nasdaq rose nearly 55 points, and the S&P 500 added 18. Stocks surged from the start, as strong earnings and President Trump’s promise of deregulation and tax cuts sparked the rally.

    MARIA FIORINI RAMIREZ, MFR Securities: Companies may have less cost related to whether it’s compliance or regulation, and that frees quite a bit of the earnings at the bottom line, and they can use some of that to reinvest, and invest in capital, and spread it to dividends going to shareholders.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The broader market is also passing milestones. Both the S&P and the Nasdaq have had a series of record closes lately.

    In Somalia, Islamist fighters attacked a hotel that’s popular with the country’s lawmakers. The government said at least 11 people were killed. The city’s ambulance director said 28 died. It happened in the capital, Mogadishu. The extremist Al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility. Four attackers rammed a car bomb into the hotel’s gates, and then stormed the compound. Police eventually ended the siege, killing all of the militants.

    Hope dimmed today in Italy in the search for survivors of an avalanche last week. Officials confirmed 25 dead, as rescue workers pulled out more bodies. But crews continued digging through the snow, looking for the four people who are still missing.

    Meanwhile, Italy’s prime minister admitted to parliament that there were delays in the response.

    PAOLO GENTILONI, Prime Minister, Italy (through interpreter): If there are responsibilities for the tragedy, the investigations will clear this up. The government certainly doesn’t fear the truth, but the truth helps us do better, not to poison the debate. It is in our hands to make sure that once the disaster has past, further injustice is not created.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: As the prime minister spoke, residents of quake-struck areas marched towards Italy’s parliament, protesting the handling of the crisis.

    The post News Wrap: Trump takes steps on border wall, immigration crackdown appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Five states have aid-in-dying laws. But doctors and advocates say not all health care providers are willing to assist patients in dying. Photo by  Flickr user Juan Munévar, via Creative Commons.

    Five states have aid-in-dying laws. But doctors and advocates say not all health care providers are willing to assist patients in dying. Photo by Flickr user Juan Munévar, via Creative Commons.

    In the seven months since California’s aid-in-dying law took effect, Dr. Lonny Shavelson has helped nearly two dozen terminally ill people end their lives with lethal drugs — but only, he says, because too few others would.

    Shavelson, director of a Berkeley, Calif. consulting clinic, said he has heard from more than 200 patients, including dozens who were stunned to learn that local health care providers refused to participate in the state’s End of Life Options Act.

    “Those are the ones who could find me,” said Shavelson, who heads Bay Area End of Life Options and is a longtime advocate of assisted suicide. “Lack of access is much more profound than anyone is talking about.”

    Across California — and in the five other states where medical aid-in-dying is now allowed — access is not guaranteed, advocates say. Hospitals, health systems and individual doctors are not obligated to prescribe or dispense drugs to induce death, and many choose not to.

    Most of the resistance comes from faith-based systems. The Catholic Church has long opposed aid-in-dying laws as a violation of church directives for ethical care. But some secular hospitals and other providers also have declined.

    In Colorado, where the nation’s latest aid-in-dying law took effect last month, health systems covering nearly third of hospitals in the state, plus scores of clinics, are refusing to participate, according to a recent STAT report.

    Even in Oregon, which enacted the first Death with Dignity law in 1997, parts of the state have no providers willing or able to dispense the lethal drugs for 100 miles, said officials with Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit group that backs aid-in-dying laws.

    “That’s why we still have active access campaigns in Oregon, even after 20 years,” said Matt Whitaker, the group’s state director for California and Oregon. “It becomes a challenge that causes us to have to remain extremely vigilant.”

    In Washington state, where the practice was legalized in 2009, a Seattle hospice patient with advanced brain cancer was denied access to willing providers, so he shot himself in the bathtub, according to a 2014 complaint filed with the state health department.

    “Refusing to provide information or appropriate referrals directly led to the unnecessarily violent death of this patient,” said the complaint filed by an anonymous hospice nurse. “I strongly believe this constitutes patient abandonment.”

    The stance was also devastating for Annette Schiller, 94, of Palm Desert, Calif., who was diagnosed with terminal thyroid and breast cancer and wanted lethal drugs.

    “Almost all of her days were bad days,” recalled Linda Fitzgerald, Schiller’s daughter. “She said, ‘I want to do it.’ She was determined.”

    Kevin Fitzgerald, Schiller’s son-in-law, described the obstacles she faced in a local news story.

    Schiller’s hospice turned down her request, and she couldn’t find a local referral, forcing Linda Fitzgerald to scramble to fulfill her mother’s last wish.

    “I thought it was going to be very simple and they would help us,” said Linda Fitzgerald. “Everything came up empty down here.”

    Opponents of aid-in-dying cite providers’ reluctance as evidence that the laws are flawed and the practice is repugnant to a profession trained to heal.

    “People consider it a breaking of professional integrity,” said Dr. David Stevens, chief executive of Christian Medical & Dental Associations, which has worked to stop or overturn aid-in-dying laws in several states.

    But the decisions can effectively isolate entire regions from access to laws overwhelmingly approved by voters, advocates said.

    In California’s Coachella Valley, an area that includes Palm Springs, the three largest hospitals — Eisenhower Medical Center, Desert Regional Medical Center and John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital — all opted out of the new state law. Affiliated doctors can’t use hospital premises, resources or systems in connection with aid-in-dying, officials said.

    “Eisenhower’s mission recognizes that death is a natural stage of the life journey and Eisenhower will not intentionally hasten it,” Dr. Alan Williamson, vice president of medical affairs of the non-profit hospital, said in a statement.

    Doctors may provide information, refer patients to other sources or prescribe lethal drugs privately, Williamson said.

    “All we have done is say it can’t be done in our facility,” he added.

    In practice, however, the decision has had a chilling effect, said Dr. Howard Cohen, a Palm Springs hospice doctor whose firm also prohibits him from writing aid-in-dying prescriptions or serving as an attending physician.

    “They may be free to write for it, but most of them work a full day. When and how are they going to write for it?” he said. “I don’t know of anyone here who is participating.”

    Patients eligible for aid-in-dying laws include terminally-ill adults with six months or less to live, who are mentally competent and can administer and ingest lethal medications themselves. Two doctors must verify they meet the qualifications.

    Many individual doctors in California remain reluctant to participate because of misunderstandings about what the law requires, said Dr. Jay W. Lee, past president of the California Academy of Family Physicians.

    “I believe that there is still a strong taboo against talking about death openly in the medical community. It feels like a threat to what we are trained to do: preserve and extend life,” Lee said, adding that doctors have a moral obligation to address end-of-life concerns.

    There’s no single list of doctors willing to prescribe life-ending drugs, though Compassion & Choices does offer a search tool to find participating health systems.

    “They don’t want to be known as the ‘death docs,’” said Shavelson, who has supervised 22 deaths and accepted 18 other people who were eligible to use the law but died before they could, most within a required 15-day waiting period.

    Officials with Compassion & Choices said past experience indicates that more providers will sign on as they become more familiar with the laws and their requirements.

    At least one California provider, Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, originally said it wouldn’t participate in the law, but later changed its position.

    Other health systems have opted to not only participate, but also to help patients navigate the rules. Kaiser Permanente, which operates in California and Colorado, has assisted several patients, including Annette Schiller, who switched her supplemental insurance to Kaiser to receive the care.

    Within weeks, Schiller was examined by two doctors who confirmed that she was terminally ill and mentally competent. She received a prescription for the lethal drugs and on Aug. 17, ate a half-cup of applesauce mixed with Seconal, a powerful sedative.

    “Within 20 seconds, she fell asleep,” Fitzgerald recalled. “Within a really short time, she stopped breathing. It was amazingly peaceful.”

    KHN’s coverage of end-of-life and serious illness issues is supported by The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

    This story was published by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can view the original report on its website.

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    Photo via Getty Images

    Photo via Getty Images

    The path to a career in medicine in the United States is long and arduous. That is especially and literally true for immigrants. But it’s worth it for them — and for the health of all Americans.

    There are several pathways by which immigrant physicians can practice in the U.S., all of which come with serious challenges.

    Those who receive medical degrees elsewhere — often called international medical graduates — face obstacles ranging from visa limitations and additional tuition costs to physical relocation and its myriad accompanying social and cultural implications. Foreign medical licenses often don’t transfer to the U.S., requiring physicians to spend up to $15,000 over a three-to-five-year period for duplicative training. Resource constraints force some foreign-trained physicians to alter their career paths to become nurses or physician assistants in the U.S.

    For foreign-born students fortunate enough to gain admittance to a U.S. medical school and earn their medical degrees here, the sacrifice of time spent away from family can be enormous.

    We use the term immigrant physician to encompass individuals who earn their medical degrees outside of the U.S., foreign born students who get their MDs in a U.S. school, and individuals of immigrant backgrounds who earn their MDs here, like us.

    READ NEXT: ‘The world will suffer’: Prize-winning researcher worries about limits on immigrants like her

    Despite the challenges, many immigrant physicians have found ways to persevere and make profound contributions to the U.S. health care system. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, international medical graduates currently account for nearly 25 percent of all practicing U.S. physicians (including residents and fellows), 16 percent of all health care occupations, and a whopping 51 percent of medical scientists. The numbers are even higher if you include U.S. medical graduates from immigrant backgrounds.

    The Institute for Immigration Research has shown that many immigrant physicians go on to become inspiring leaders in biomedicine, ranging from deans of medical schools to neurosurgeons and Nobel laureates in science, admired for their hard work, talent, and dedication to service.

    Yet the current meritocratic culture of inclusiveness may be facing a serious threat. The recent election season in the U.S. featured ethnocentric rhetoric and proposals that challenge the integration of immigrant physicians into the U.S. health care system. Established immigrant physicians, especially those of the Muslim faith, have expressed concern about the recent wave of anti-Muslim sentiment, which may result in extreme vetting, forced registry, or a complete ban on entry to the U.S. Others worry about deportation.

    Another roadblock to immigrant physicians is the potential dissolution of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), something that President Trump pledged to undo upon being elected. It aimed to give nearly a million undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children the right to pursue higher education and contribute to the U.S. workforce. Under it, over 160 undocumented immigrants applied to medical school to date. While the Department of Homeland Security says the program will stay open for the time being, the futures of currently enrolled and future-hopeful DACA medical students remains uncertain under the new administration.

    We believe that immigrant physicians should be valued as tremendous assets to the American health care system. Immigrant students and workers are prone to academic and economic success in the U.S., having been instilled with the values of education, hard work, and high aspirations at young ages. The resilience that immigrants build during drastic transition periods is directly applicable to high-stress learning and working environments, such as clinical rotations in medical school, residency, and beyond.

    READ NEXT: First wave of undocumented immigrants in medical schools face uncertain future

    By 2044, more than half of the U.S. population will be individuals of color, making this a “plurality” nation. Health care practitioners will need to become more adept at what’s called cultural brokerage to understand and deliver culturally sensitive care. Studies have consistently demonstrated the importance of sharing cultural and racial norms and language with improved health care access, utilization, quality, and outcomes.

    Having been raised in varied cultures and communities, immigrant physicians tend to be adaptable, able to balance rugged individualism with community-mindedness, tempering medical expertise with open-mindedness to unconventional approaches, and augmenting autonomy with reliance on others in times of need. With such skills, immigrant practitioners can serve as leaders in improving the standard of care for a wide range of racial and ethnic backgrounds in a country that will only continue to increase in diversity.

    The call to embrace immigrant physicians in the U.S. is also born out of necessity. Due to the rapidly growing and aging population — the number of adults aged 65 years or older is expected to double by 2030 — and the growing need for primary care physicians in health professional shortage areas, we face a significant dearth of physicians in the coming decades.

    No matter what happens to the Affordable Care Act under a Trump administration, the health of the American people will depend on having enough talented and devoted physicians as possible — regardless of their backgrounds. Nearly half of immigrant physicians pursue internal medicine or other general specialties, compared to 15 percent of U.S. medical graduates. They are also more likely to practice in rural and inner-city areas. Rural states such as Wyoming and North Dakota already depend on immigrant physicians, who comprise the majority of their physician workforces.

    READ NEXT: I’m an immigrant and a Muslim. And I’m here to cure cancer

    Medicine should be an inclusive endeavor. Now is a good time for all medical professionals to reaffirm our culture of inclusiveness and embrace immigrant physicians. They have much to offer Americans, and America has much to offer them. But perhaps more important than any meritocratic or economic argument is the intrinsic value of inclusion in medicine, to do no harm toward and to extend healing to all.

    Numerous institutions and cities have declared their domains as sanctuaries or safe havens for immigrants, places where they can learn or live without harassment or the looming threat of deportation. We believe that medicine should uphold the same principle as a profession. Immigrant physicians represent a huge asset for the medical profession, and will be an important part of the health care system for generations to come. Attracting and training these future physicians will be a boon for public health.

    Jason J. Han is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Neha Vapiwala, MD, is associate professor of radiation oncology and advisory dean at the Perelman School of Medicine. This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Jan. 24, 2017. Find the original story here.

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    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speak to reporters Jan. 26 at the GOP retreat in Philadelphia. Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call.

    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speak to reporters Jan. 26 at the GOP retreat in Philadelphia. Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan says President Donald Trump’s border wall will cost $12 billion to $15 billion — and Ryan says Congress will pay for it by this fall.

    Congress will move legislation this year providing up to $15 billion to build a wall along the Mexican boundary, Republican leaders said Thursday at their annual strategy retreat. But they would not say how they would prevent the massive project from adding to federal deficits.Ryan said the goal is to complete that and other major bills in 2017, but the leaders offered no details on how the wall would be paid for, saying they would wait until the Trump administration proposes legislation.

    WATCH: Trump speaks after orders to build border wall, tighten immigration

    Trump is set to speak to the lawmakers later Thursday — a day after signing an executive order calling for the wall.

    Trump has repeatedly said Mexico will pay for the wall, but Mexican leaders oppose it and have said they won’t finance it.

    Congress will pay for “the construction of the physical barrier on the border,” Ryan said.

    “We intend to address the wall issue ourselves,” Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

    Pressed on whether construction would increase federal deficits, Ryan said Republicans are fiscal conservatives. He said strengthening the economy and replacing President Barack Obama’s health care system were two of the best ways to bolster the government’s budget.

    “If we’re going to be spending on things like infrastructure, we’re going to find the fiscal space to pay for that” in a budget Congress plans to write this spring, Ryan said.

    Ryan had previously used figures ranging from $8 billion to $14 billion as his estimate for the cost of the wall.

    Trump was to speak Thursday to House and Senate GOP lawmakers at their annual policy retreat. Despite a rocky start to his administration, many lawmakers are optimistic about delivering change in a new era of GOP control over Washington.

    They would like to see a Trump committed to their agenda and results, not a president who veers off course into conspiracy theories about voter fraud or who keeps litigating the size of his inaugural crowds.

    Before Trump’s appearance, Ryan sketched out an ambitious agenda to lawmakers that includes sending Trump a health care repeal bill by March and a rewrite of tax laws by summer’s end.

    “I’m just so excited we finally have a chance to do this because we have the House and the Senate and a president who is with us,” Ryan told MSNBC on Wednesday about plans to overhaul the tax system, eliminating what critics say are loopholes and lowering corporate rates to 20 percent or even the 15 percent sought by Trump.

    “If you can clean up the cesspool of the tax code and give us a pro-growth tax code, that is how you grow the economy, that is how you take power and money out of Washington and give it back to the people,” he said.

    Associated Press writer Errin Haines Whack contributed to this report.

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    Who can turn the world on with her smile?

    Who can turn the world on with her smile?

    Before Liz Lemon, before Ally McBeal, before Rachel Green, there was Mary Richards, a 1970s sitcom television creation whose spunk and smile inspired a generation of female characters.

    When the first episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” aired in 1970, Richards was introduced as a 30-something, single career woman moving on from a broken engagement. She lands a job at a local Minneapolis TV station, where her boss says he hates spunk.

    From there, she has to navigate an all-male workplace, sometimes sparring with difficult coworkers. She’s seen on a series of dates that don’t go anywhere. When the last episode of the show aired in 1977, Richards was still single.

    Played by the late TV icon Mary Tyler Moore, who died Wednesday at age 80, Richards changed how a woman was portrayed, seen and heard on television. When the PBS NewsHour did a callout on Twitter for Moore tributes, we heard how the television character — and the actress who played her — was revolutionary to people, big and small.

    Here’s what they said.

    Mary throws her hat at the end of the opening credits. Why do you think that’s become such an enduring image for the character?

    “It’s a victory toss. A physical ‘YES!!’ A chest-bump to the world.” — Teresa Lynn Johnson, 56, a science writer in Woodbridge, Virginia

    “I think it expresses the pure joy that a young woman can feel – not because of a relationship with a man – but because she feels comfortable and complete, alone, in the big, wide world. This was a new idea then, and something we all wanted to believe in.” — Rose Mary Reiz, 60, retired newspaper journalist in Lapeer, Michigan

    “To me, it was the first sign of empowerment, being joyful and showing it. I don’t know if you remember the disapproving look from a bystander in the background, but that always resonated with me. She threw her hat regardless of the disapproving looks or attitudes from older women.” — Mary Harriet Talbut, 57, an instructional designer in Jackson, Missouri

    The disapproving woman can be found at the bottom left.

    The disapproving woman can be found at the bottom left.

    “She looks so happy and confident, and the swirl of people around her are mostly oblivious to it — except that one woman who glares, which always made me laugh. Makes it like a private moment publicly lived. There was something about [Moore’s] smile and not looking at the camera that reinforced that.” — Jackie Syrop, 58, a writer and editor in Lawrenceville, New Jersey

    “The moment is significant in the same way as when graduates throw their hats up in the air on graduation day; the fulfillment (and revolving and ever-changing) of goals and looking to the future. As the theme song reminds us, ‘You’re gonna make it after all!'”– Anna Kasper, 52, a self-employed social media administrator in Saint David, Illinois

    “It means that anything is possible. The world is big, but there are so many opportunities out there. You have to grab the ones that mean something to you, and hold on tightly. If Mary can do it, any of us can do it.” — Tom Hardej, 30, an editorial director in Brookline, Massachusetts

    “That hat throw captures so vividly that moment we all seek, when we realize that despite the challenges and doubts along the way, we’ve in fact arrived in a good place in our lives.” — Glenn Rosenkrantz, 50, a non-profit communications officer in New York

    Flowers lay at a bronze sculpture depicting actress Mary Tyler Moore from the opening credits of the television sitcom "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Adam Bettcher/Reuters

    Flowers lay at a bronze sculpture depicting actress Mary Tyler Moore from the opening credits of the television sitcom “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Adam Bettcher/Reuters

    “Several years ago, I was walking with a boyfriend in Brooklyn. It was a bittersweet visit, as he had just moved to New York, and it was clear that I would go back to California and our romantic relationship would end. It was cold and snowy and I wore a wool hat. He pointed out that I looked like Mary. And I tossed my hat in the air. I can still remember that feeling, the empowering recognition, not that I was now alone in a big city, but that I would be okay.” — Nada Djordjevich, 47, a writer and executive director in Oakland, California

    “Mary Richards has a real mix of independence and vulnerability that resonates with men as well as women. That’s remarkable when you consider how daring it was to base a show on the everyday life of a professional single woman, and have that show attract viewers from all walks of life.” — Evelyn Walsh, 51, a writer in Atlanta

    Did the Mary Tyler Moore character reflect your own life experiences? If so, how?

    Still from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" showing Moore standing inside of the WJM-TV newsroom. Photo by Getty Images

    Still from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” showing Moore standing inside of the WJM-TV newsroom. Photo by Getty Images

    “She blazed the trail that so many young women growing up in the 1970s followed. I was quite young when I started watching ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ with my grandmother each Saturday night, and I set my sights then on becoming a writer and journalist. (I now work as a communications director in Democratic politics.) I turned 50 last year, and eventually did have a family, but on my own terms and not until my 30s. I’m not sure I would have had the courage to make my own way, in the way that I did, if it were not for Mary Tyler Moore giving me the idea that I ‘could make it after all.’ I’ll be throwing my own beret in the air tonight in honor of her!” — Amy Carman, 50, a communications director in Frankfort, Kentucky

    “I was 30 years old when I began the process of divorcing my husband … and had to learn not only how to be single again, but to realize it was okay to focus on my career and find happiness on my own, all while living in the frozen tundra of Minnesota. Mary provided a sort of roadmap for me, and became an important role model. I spent my 35th birthday visiting every ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ site in Minneapolis in a black trench coat just like hers. Her character grew by leaps and bounds in terms of independence and self-confidence over the seven years of the show, and I feel like she has helped me to grow into the woman I am today.” — Amanda Wirig, 37, an artist and musician in Mankato, Minnesota

    “I was raised by a divorced, working mom. Mary reminded me of her: beautiful, smart and independent. And that was always a show my mom and I watched together, so there was a big connection there. But the biggest effect or reflection on my life is that I think having Moore as a childhood role model gave me an independent streak. I liked that she was like me in being emotional, feminine and not always as confident as she could’ve been; but ultimately was in charge and had a very full life. And, in the words of Lou Grant, she did it all with spunk.” — Page Goodman, 51, a sales representative in Tampa, Florida

    “Even though I know I was fortunate (as a Black girl growing up in a lower-income neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut in the 70s and 80s) to have many supportive folks in my life that encouraged me to have a career and dream big dreams, I really believe that the ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ (and shows like it) was part of what made that possible for me. It’s one thing to be encouraged to do something, but it’s different to see it, right in front of you, even if it’s on TV. Mary was different that the rest. And it was okay.” — Gail Drakes, 44, a university director of social justice in New York

    [Watch Video]

    She had an iconic smile and laugh, but actress and comedian Mary Tyler Moore was also a revolutionary. The Oscar-nominated actress famously played a single career woman next door and a quirky housewife, changing how women were portrayed. Jeffrey Brown reflects on her life with Cynthia Littleton of Variety and Dick Cavett, a former friend of the late television icon, who died at the age of 80.

    “I was young when ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ was on TV, but watching it late at night on TV Land while nursing my young daughter, it would bring tears to my eyes as I had the hope that the next generation of women would not have to fight so hard, and the would ‘make it after all.’My generation of women had the Mary Richard’s generation to thank for smoothing our way in the workplace. I had it easier than Mary, but still struggled to establish my own competence despite being a woman. We were not considered as competent as men, and we faced resentment for taking good jobs that men could have to support their families.” — Wendy Anderson-Brachfeld, 51, a teacher in Fairfield, Connecticut

    “I wanted to be Mary Richards when I grew up. Ironically, I grew up to be Laura Petrie [of ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’] — a housewife living in the suburbs, a stay-at-home mom. But Mary’s independent, career-woman character was never far from my thoughts. Eventually, well into my 40’s, I went back to college and became a writer. A journalist, just like Mary. By the way, my daughter Megan has a big giant ‘M’ (a gift from me) hanging in her living room, just like the one Mary had!” Johnson wrote.

    “There were times in my 20s that I felt like I was failing as a woman since I was single and not a mother. These were expectations I was placing on myself. Watching ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ gave me encouragement and a sense of freedom. She encouraged me to not be bitter, but rather to love life and others and not take life too seriously.” — Jennifer Walde, 35, a career coach in Indianapolis

    “I have spent long stretches of my life as a single woman, and the Mary character showed me that such a life has value and fulfillment. Mary was never depicted as less of a person because she didn’t have a husband — she had relationships, her work, her friends, and family, and therefore, a life well lived. What a wonderful message.” — Christine Kent, 52, a content strategist in Oakland, California

    “I was about 11 at the time when I used to watch [‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’] on Nick at Nite. But it was what I wanted it to be when I was her age. I remember thinking how awesome it was she was so independent. Being in a job where she was someone people looked up to. I wanted to be her. — Krysten Jorgensen, 30, an actress in Los Angeles

    “The character was able to help form the man I became. She showed that it was okay to be your own person. It was okay to struggle to be accepted. It was okay to be driven. It was okay to be slightly insecure while you were figuring it all out. In the end, everything would work out.” — Martin Scott, 54, a project manager in Phoenix

    “Mary’s character was one of the first single (by choice) women without children I can remember seeing anywhere in my life. She had love all around her, but focused on her career and close support networks. My life journey mirrored hers whether intentional or not. I focused on my career and “proving myself” professionally. While I had wonderful romances along the way, I did not choose to get married until I was in my late 40s. Maybe Mary would have done the same.” — Karen Long, 53, a chief executive in San Jose, California

    “Mary’s friendship with Rhoda is a pretty accurate reflection of adult female-friendships. We share jokes, affection, annoyances, and are sometimes jealous over our successes in careers and romance, but ultimately, friendship is stronger than petty grievances,” Djordjevich wrote.

    "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" title card

    “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” title card

    “I was four when the series started, but ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ helped set my world view. The concept of chosen family, seeing the silver lining, while being aware of the tarnish, and using humor as a coping mechanism were partially introduced to me by Ms. Moore. And I can still recite scenes that made me laugh, made me think, and helped shape me.” — Michael Jepson, 50, a LGBT rights activist in Spokane, Washington

    “Almost 20 years after the show had ended, I saw myself as a modern-day Mary. I was in my early thirties, single, living in the Midwest, a writer with a journalism degree — and I was always the “normal” person at the office and in my group of friends. I felt like I was in control of my life, that my career was important, and that my focus wasn’t a man. Mary helped me feel empowered.” — Judy Milanovits, 52, a creative strategist in St. Louis

    “I made a big change in my early 30s, too, when I landed a job in a newsroom for the first time … My difficult moments, like Mary’s, were tempered by the fact that I was doing something exciting and rewarding, and moving forward — not staying in a place where that wasn’t possible. And you know what I splurged on to celebrate that new era of my life? The first season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show on DVD.” — Jonathan Padget, 46, a freelance writer and editor in Washington, D.C.

    “In the last season, Mary suffers through yet another awful date, this time with her suitor proclaiming she hasn’t dated much. Mary quipped that ‘I’ve been dating since I was 17, I’m 37. That’s two decades of dating.’ I turn 37 today, and I can’t help but reflect on that hilarious scene and the unintended similarities to my own life. Like Mary, I’ve spent my entire 30s independent, single (with a series of lousy dates), career-minded (in a male-dominated field), and surrounded by a supporting cast of characters that enrich my life daily … Most importantly, I am content and satisfied with my life choices and self-being. I know I’m going to make it after all, and I feel that love is all around.

    “<< cue hat toss >>” — Nicolette Jaworski, 37, a communications director in Cleveland

    And, finally, one reader’s response to how the real Mary Tyler Moore — and not the TV character — made an impact.

    Mary Tyler Moore testifies before the U.S. Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in D.C. in 2003. Moore, along with 200 children from throughout the United States came to Capitol Hill to discuss the need for a cure to diabetes. Photo by Evan Vucci/Reuters

    Mary Tyler Moore testifies before the U.S. Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in D.C. in 2003. Moore, along with 200 children from throughout the United States came to Capitol Hill to discuss the need for a cure to diabetes. Photo by Evan Vucci/Reuters

    Moore was “a person I greatly admired because I discovered years after the TV show ran that she had Type 1 diabetes since her 20s and yet maintained that demanding life. One of my children developed Type 1 diabetes as a very young child, and just knowing that [Moore] was living the life she did gave me so much hope and inspiration. Mostly what I heard was a lot of doom and gloom in the early 90s about the disease and, yet, there she was,” Syrop wrote.

    WATCH: TV pioneer Mary Tyler Moore was a modern woman’s role model

    The post Love is all around: Mary Tyler Moore fans pay tribute to the TV icon appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto gestures Jan. 23 during  a message about foreign affairs at Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City, Mexico. Photo by REUTERS/Edgard Garrido.

    Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto gestures Jan. 23 during a message about foreign affairs at Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City, Mexico. Photo by REUTERS/Edgard Garrido.

    Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto says he’s informed the White House he has canceled a trip to Washington to meet with President Donald Trump amid tension over a border wall.

    Trump had tweeted Thursday morning that if Mexico is unwilling to pay for a wall along the U.S. border, “then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.”

    The developments come the day after Trump said he will jump-start construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall and cut federal grants for immigrant-protecting “sanctuary cities.”

    Read more: Paul Ryan: Congress will pay billions for border wall

    In a separate tweet Thursday morning, Trump said NAFTA “has been a one-sided deal” with jobs and companies suffering as a result.

    Trump has said he wants to renegotiate the NAFTA trade deal with Mexico and Canada. He said Thursday the deal has resulted in “massive numbers of jobs and companies lost.”

    The Associated Press wrote this report.

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    (L-R) President Donald J. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan greet one another on stage during the 2017 "Congress of Tomorrow" Joint Republican Issues Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Mark Makela/Reuters

    (L-R) President Donald J. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan greet one another on stage during the 2017 “Congress of Tomorrow” Joint Republican Issues Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Mark Makela/Reuters

    PHILADELPHIA — President Donald Trump called on fellow Republicans to help him enact “great and lasting change” during a party retreat Thursday, but offered the lawmakers few details about his views on key issues including tax reform and health care.

    The president was greeted by cheers as he took the stage in a hotel ballroom, telling senators and House members, “This Congress is going to be the busiest Congress in decades — maybe ever.”

    Trump’s election put Republicans in control of both the White House and Congress for the first time in more than a decade. Yet Trump’s often fluid ideology has sometimes put him at odds with his own party, making agreement on issues including a tax overhaul and entitlements no guarantee.

    The president spoke about his agenda in broad terms and then skipped a planned question-and-answer session. He gave Republicans no specific marching orders for tackling the repeal and replace of “Obamacare,” one of the most complicated issues Congress is expected to tackle this year.

    Trump said he had suggested to GOP leaders that they could “just do nothing for two years” in order to let Obamacare self-destruct and ramp up pressure on Democrats to join overhaul efforts.

    “Except we have one problem — we have to take care of the American people,” he said.

    President Donald Trump spoke Thursday at an annual GOP policy retreat in Philadelphia. Video by PBS NewsHour

    Trump’s brief trip to Philadelphia marked his first flight on Air Force One, the familiar blue and white government plane that has long ferried presidents around the country and the world. Spokesman Sean Spicer described Trump — who traveled throughout the campaign and the transition on his own private jet — as being “in awe” of the presidential aircraft.

    Trump saluted as he walked off his Marine helicopter and chatted with an Air Force officer who escorted him to the steps of the plane. He climbed the steps slowly but did not turn around and wave as presidents often do.

    Trump’s midday remarks in Philadelphia came after several days of executive actions on trade and immigration. On Wednesday, he began overhauling the nation’s immigration rules and moved to jumpstart construction of his promised U.S.-Mexico border wall. He also ordered cuts in federal grants for “sanctuary cities,” which shield some immigrants from federal law enforcement, and authorized increases in the number of border patrol agents and immigration officers.

    The moves on immigration caused immediate friction with Mexico, prompting President Enrique Pena Nieto to cancel a trip to Washington next week for his first meeting with the new president. It was a remarkable move by an ally and neighbor.

    During his remarks to lawmakers, Trump cast the cancellation as a mutual decision. He said he and Pena Nieto “have agreed to cancel our planned meeting.” Trump had tweeted earlier Thursday that “it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting” given Pena Nieto’s unwillingness to pay for the border wall.

    Trump insists Mexico will pay, while Pena Nieto insists his country will not.

    After returning to the White House, Trump planned to sign an executive action commissioning a probe of widespread voter fraud, Spicer said. Additional actions are planned for Friday, too, but Spicer said decisions were still to be made on exactly what Trump would sign.

    The president is also expected to take steps, possibly as soon as this week, to restrict the flow of refugees into the United States. And he is considering plans to negotiate individual trade deals with the countries that have signed onto the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. Trump took steps earlier in the week to withdraw the U.S. from TPP, which he said puts American workers at a disadvantage.

    The White House had said Trump would also meet Thursday afternoon with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas. The meeting with Hatch, who is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Brady, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, has been rescheduled, the White House said.

    The 12 executive actions Trump has signed (so far)

    The post Trump to GOP lawmakers: ‘Our chance to achieve great change’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to board Air Force One on Jan. 26 for travel to Philadelphia from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. He will meet with Republican lawmakers at their annual retreat there. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

    U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to board Air Force One on Jan. 26 for travel to Philadelphia from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. He will meet with Republican lawmakers at their annual retreat there. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.

    President Donald Trump will sign an executive action Thursday to launch an investigation into claims of voter fraud.

    White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on-board Air Force One the president will sign the order in the Oval Office. He didn’t give more details.

    Trump has repeatedly said he believes there was widespread voter fraud in the November election and that scores of people were on voter rolls in multiple states or after they died.

    The president also says he believes many voted more than once and that “none” of those ballots were cast for him.

    There is no evidence to support Trump’s claims.

    AP report: Trump advances false claim that 3-5 million voted illegally

    Trump announced in a pair of tweets early Wednesday that the investigation will look at those registered to vote in more than one state, “those who are illegal and … even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time).” Depending on results, the Republican tweeted on his sixth day in office, “we will strengthen up voting procedures!”

    He went further later Wednesday, claiming: “You have people registered in two states. They’re registered in a New York and a New Jersey. They vote twice.”

    “There are millions of votes, in my opinion,” Trump told ABC. “Of those votes cast, none of them come to me. None of them come to me.”

    All 50 states and the District of Columbia have finalized their election results with no reports of the kind of widespread fraud that Trump alleges.

    The White House provided few details on what the probe may entail. Press secretary Sean Spicer would not say Wednesday whether the investigation would be led by the FBI or some other agency. He said only that its goal would be “to understand where the problem exists and how deep it goes” and that it would not be limited to the 2016 election.

    Spicer suggested a task force could be commissioned to focus on dead people who remained on voter rolls and people registered in two or more states. And he said it could center on “bigger” states where Trump didn’t compete during the campaign, singling out California and New York, two Democratic strongholds.

    Trump’s tweet alarmed Democrats who already believe that moves to tighten voter ID laws are a means to restrict access to the ballot box. Like the president, Trump’s pick for attorney general, Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who could oversee any federal probe, has shown sympathy toward claims of voting fraud.

    [Watch Video]

    Donald Trump made the issue of voter fraud a rallying cry during his campaign. Now President Trump is still claiming — with zero evidence and GOP resistance — that millions of illegal votes were cast for Hillary Clinton and announcing an investigation. In this video, William Brangham talks with Rick Hasen of the University of California, Irvine, and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

    Speaking to congressional leaders Monday, Trump said 3 to 5 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally voted in the election, denying him a popular vote majority. If that claim were true, it would mark the most significant election fraud in U.S. history — and, ironically, would raise the same questions about Trump’s legitimacy that he’s trying to avoid. No details have been released about the possible probe.

    Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway told NBC’s “Today” show Thursday that Trump’s call for an investigation is not an “ego issue.” ”I think everybody’s cherry-picking to call this an ego trip,” she said. “Why not have an investigation? What’s everybody afraid of?”

    Trump’s own attorneys dismissed claims of voter fraud in a legal filing responding to Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s demand for a recount in Michigan, a state Trump won, late last year. Referring to that outcome, the attorneys wrote: “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”

    Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said any inquiry should instead be focused on Russian interference in the election, saying: “President Trump’s call for an investigation into his latest conspiracy theory is absurd, even for him.”

    Multiple academic studies, and federal judges, have cast doubt on the prevalence of voter fraud, though an argument that should be based on math has frequently divided along partisan lines.

    In one often-cited study, Justin Levitt, an election law expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, identified just 31 instances of potential impersonation out of more than 1 billion votes cast in general, primary, special and municipal elections throughout the country between 2000 and 2014.

    Though there are invariably mistakes, clerical errors and instances of ineligible people allowed to register, “there’s absolutely no information to indicate that there were problems on the scale that he’s alleging,” said Levitt, who later was the Justice Department’s top elections lawyer under former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

    The post Trump to launch investigation into unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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