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- 02/09/17--08:07: _How Hans Rosling ch...
- 02/09/17--08:20: _Why same-sex marria...
- 02/09/17--08:22: _Pill bugs emerged f...
- 02/09/17--08:41: _A look at the judge...
- 02/09/17--09:24: _New federal rules r...
- 02/09/17--09:52: _Tribe files legal c...
- 02/09/17--10:35: _How the House scien...
- 02/09/17--15:20: _U.S. appeals court ...
- 02/09/17--15:25: _Inside Steve Bannon...
- 02/09/17--15:30: _How should companie...
- 02/09/17--15:35: _Debate on wisdom of...
- 02/09/17--15:40: _Do Trump’s attacks ...
- 02/09/17--15:50: _News Wrap: Trump st...
- 02/09/17--16:45: _Why the 9th Circuit...
- 02/10/17--07:51: _Here’s what the Mex...
- 02/10/17--08:00: _A divided Senate co...
- 02/10/17--09:57: _WATCH: Trump and Ja...
- 02/10/17--10:07: _5 quick ways HHS Se...
- 02/10/17--10:31: _Protest marks publi...
- 02/10/17--11:05: _What to read and wa...
- 02/09/17--08:07: How Hans Rosling changed the way we look at health
- 02/09/17--08:20: Why same-sex marriage may soon become a reality in Taiwan
- 02/09/17--08:22: Pill bugs emerged from the sea to conquer the Earth
- 02/09/17--08:41: A look at the judges who will rule on Trump’s travel ban
- 02/09/17--10:35: How the House science committee may try to weaken the EPA
- 02/09/17--15:20: U.S. appeals court refuses to reinstate Trump’s travel ban
- 02/09/17--15:25: Inside Steve Bannon’s ‘weaponized’ political documentaries
- 02/09/17--15:30: How should companies navigate polarized politics in the Trump era?
- 02/09/17--15:35: Debate on wisdom of deadly Yemen raid gets political
- 02/09/17--15:40: Do Trump’s attacks on judicial legitimacy go too far?
- 02/09/17--15:50: News Wrap: Trump stands by criticism of courts
- 02/09/17--16:45: Why the 9th Circuit Court rejected Trump’s immigration ban appeal
- 02/10/17--07:51: Here’s what the Mexico border wall looks like now
- 02/10/17--08:00: A divided Senate confirms Trump’s health secretary
- 02/10/17--10:07: 5 quick ways HHS Secretary Tom Price could change health policy
- 02/10/17--10:31: Protest marks public school visit by new education secretary
Hans Rosling, a Swedish statistician, doctor, and viral mathematics entertainer, died from pancreatic cancer on Tuesday. He was 68.
Rosling rose to prominence after a series of TED Talks in which he used statistics and elaborate visuals to change the public’s perception of health and poverty. His first and most popular video — “the best stats you’ve ever seen” — has been viewed more than 11 million times. In it, he used his Trendalyzer — a data-visualization software bought by Google in 2007 — to dismantle popular myths about health.
Rosling’s videos, which he described as “edutainment,” are particularly captivating because he took seemingly boring information — statistics on health, birth rates and wealth — and made them accessible. In addition to animated graphics, he used Ikea boxes, blocks, toys and even washing machines to physically demonstrate complicated population statistics. He often mentioned his concern about the prevalence of ignorance that stemmed from out-dated and inaccurate data.
“You see, I find holes, deep black holes of ignorance,” Rosling told NewsHour in a 2012 interview. “And now I try to fill them.”
Rosling started his career as a doctor, and tackled diseases in Mozambique, Tanzania and Congo. There is where he first investigated the impact of poverty, politics and culture on disease rates. One analysis determined the cause of a crippling disease called konzo. Rosling found a link between the condition and the consumption of toxic cassava roots made without proper preparation.
Rosling later returned to Sweden and became a professor of global health at the Karolinska Institutet in Solna, Sweden. Despite his prominence as a data statistician and educator, Rosling never lost his passion for medicine. In 1993, he co-founded the Swedish chapter of Médecins sans Frontièrs, also known as Doctors without Borders.
@MJerven You can never understand the world without numbers, nor can you ever understand it with only numbers.
— Hans Rosling (@HansRosling) July 24, 2016
In 2005, Rosling co-founded the nonprofit “fact-tank” Gapminder with his son and daughter-in-law. The organization curated data from organizations like the U.N., the World Bank and World Health Organization and then posted the information to the Gapminder website as an easily searchable repository.
A year later, he gave his first of 10 TED Talks, which is still more than any other individual.
Rosling’s son and daughter-in-law confirmed his death Tuesday on the Gapminder website.
“Hans is no longer alive,” they wrote, “but he will always be with us and his dream of a fact-based worldview, we will never let die!”
In these strange times of alt-facts and fake news, Hans Rosling was a beacon of truth. His passing is a great loss for us all. pic.twitter.com/08JHHsAhlM
— Max Galka (@galka_max) February 9, 2017
The post How Hans Rosling changed the way we look at health appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
An amendment to include same-sex marriage in Taiwan’s civil code has passed a parliamentary committee, clearing the way for same-sex marriage to become a reality in 2017. Although an attempt to pass the bill fell flat in 2013, Taiwan’s political climate has since changed.
Support for the bill gained momentum after the reported suicide of National Taiwan University Lecturer Jacques Camille Picoux in October, after losing his partner to cancer. Picoux was well-known within the community and lived with his partner Tseng Ching-chao for 35 years, Focus Taiwan reported.
Jay Lin, of Kaohsiung, South Taiwan, who has advocated for LGBTQ rights in the country, told the NewsHour that the fact that Picoux could not make any medical decisions during his partner’s illness triggered new interest in the bill.
“This situation really highlighted the injustice of the law,” he said.
The bill may also have more of a shot now due to support from Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, of the Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP. President Ing-wen has generally appeared more sympathetic toward LGBTQ rights than previous administrations.
Chris Shenghui Wu, a student in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, said that certain cities within the country have become more inclusive over time — and that it varies city to city.
“Taipei is the most LGBT-friendly city in Taiwan. However, in other cities or countries, people are more conservative,” Wu, who is gay, said.
In a January interview, Yu Mei-nu, the member of Taiwan’s DPP who introduced the bill to parliament, told PRI: “We’re almost close to passing it.” But she also emphasized the need to achieve the bill’s approval before the country’s 2018 elections.
However, overall opinion concerning the bill remains divided; in Taipei, demonstrations occur in favor and against the new legislation. In a survey by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation of approximately 1,100 respondents, 46.3 percent said they support same-sex marriage legalization, while 45.4 percent expressed opposition. Further resistance has arisen within the Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang, the opposition party to the DPP.
“The ruling party has knowingly disregarded the fact that a silent majority of the public opposes the bill,” Kuo-Tung said during a December legislative session. “This has initiated hatred and instability in society.”
Although Taiwan may become the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage, it’s not the first country in the continent to attempt to pass similar legislation. In Thailand, a committee drafted same-sex marriage legislation in 2012, PinkNews, a UK-based newspaper marketed toward the LGBTQ community, reported.
Lin said Taiwan’s same-sex legislation would be “a big step for Asia as a whole” and could “provide inspiration for other countries around Asia” to consider similar laws.
Lawyer and writer M. Bob Kao, who is based out of Taipei, said that if the bill is passed, it will show opponents “that same-sex marriage will not destroy the society and it can exist in an Asian society.”
Parliament is currently in recess, but the bill is expected to be further discussed in April or May when the legislature resumes, Focus Taiwan reported. The bill will be submitted for cross-party negotiations before it can take effect.
The post Why same-sex marriage may soon become a reality in Taiwan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Pill bugs roll into a ball for defense or to avoid drying out. Video by Josh Cassidy/KQED
With winter rains, Bay Area pill bugs are out in force. Fortunately, they’re one of our most beloved “bugs.” Pill bugs. Doodle bugs. Potato bugs. Wood Shrimp. Whatever you call them, there’s something less creepy about these critters than other insects. Maybe it’s because they’re not insects at all.
Pill bugs are more closely related to shrimp and lobsters than crickets or butterflies. Their ancestors lived in the sea, but ancient pill bugs crawled out millions of years ago to carve a life for themselves on dry land.
You can see the evidence if you take a close look at them, so that’s exactly what we did for this episode of Deep Look, an ultra-high definition wildlife video series produced by KQED and PBS Digital Studios.
“Kids love them,” said Jonathan Wright, a professor of biology at Pomona College who studies the charismatic creepy-crawlies. After all, who hasn’t delighted as a youth in annoying a pill bug until it defensively curls up into a little armored ball?
Some adventurous foragers even eat pill bugs. Their flavor is said to resemble other crustaceans, earning pill bugs the moniker “wood shrimp.”
“I personally haven’t tasted one,” said Wright, “but I’ve spoken to people that have. They didn’t get a particularly high approval rating. Pill bugs have a lot of soil in their gut.”
They may not be ready to replace shrimp as an appetizer, but according to Wright, the evidence of the pill bug’s evolutionary lineage lies underneath its shell.
A Different Way to Breathe
“Like their ocean ancestors, pill bugs have gills,” said Wright. Gills work great in the water. They’re basically exposed mucous membranes that absorb oxygen out of the water and into the blood that feeds the rest of the body. But on land, gills are a liability.
If the pill bug dries out, its gills won’t function properly and the pill bug can suffocate. That’s why you usually only find them in damp areas, like under a dead log. If they start to overheat and dry out, pill bugs will even roll into a ball to protect the remaining moisture on their gills.
Unlike pill bugs, terrestrial insects breathe through a system of tubes called tracheae that connect to the air through tiny muscular valves on their bodies called spiracles. The spiracles open to allow air into the tracheae, which deliver oxygen directly to the insect’s tissues.
“You can look at things like the wings of a dragonfly,” said Wright. “The veins that you see are the tracheae system.”
For smaller animals like insects, the tracheae system is extremely efficient at delivering oxygen. It allows animals like bumblebees to sustain the enormous amount of effort required to fly from flower to flower.
Insects can also adjust the amount of air they let into their respiratory system. The insect’s tracheae system is much more efficient at reducing water loss when you compare it to the pill bug’s gills.
But over evolutionary time, the pill bug’s gills have adapted to life on dry land. Folds in the surface of their first two pairs of gills eventually turned into hollow branched structures, almost like tiny lungs.
Little Pill Bugs Make a Big Impact
In 2015, a study by Yale and several other universities found that terrestrial crustaceans like pill bugs may play a very real role in controlling the global climate.
Pill bugs consume fungus that is responsible for breaking down organic matter in the soil, a process that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As the atmosphere warms, the fungus activity increases, resulting in more carbon released and even higher atmospheric temperatures. It’s a dangerous vortex.
But when pill bugs and their kin are present, they’re able to mitigate the effects of increased temperature by consuming more of the fungus. They’re small, but pill bugs may be protecting us by slowing climate change.
The post Pill bugs emerged from the sea to conquer the Earth appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
SAN FRANCISCO — Three judges on the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will decide as soon as Thursday whether to immediately reinstate President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which temporarily suspended the nation’s refugee program and immigration from seven mostly Muslim countries that have raised terrorism concerns. Here’s a look at their backgrounds, judicial decisions and questioning during arguments in the case this week.
Canby rarely hears cases anymore. Now 85, he told The Associated Press two years ago that he felt sharp and healthy, but didn’t want to risk a job hazard that federal judges with lifetime appointments face: age-related mental decline. So it was unusual for the judge to hear oral arguments over the Trump travel ban.
Canby — a former U.S. Air Force lieutenant and Peace Corps worker in Africa who was appointed to the 9th Circuit by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 — is known to have a polite and respectful courtroom demeanor. He encourages attorneys to have interests outside the law and told a reporter in 2005 he was running two to three miles before starting his day. He has written extensively about Native American law. Among his more high-profile decisions was a 1988 ruling declaring the U.S. Army’s ban on gay soldiers unconstitutional and a 2000 decision that said the PGA Tour is covered by federal disability law and must provide a cart to golfer Casey Martin.
During oral arguments, he challenged the administration’s justification for the ban. Later, Canby appeared to come to the rescue of the attorney challenging the ban when another judge was grilling him about what evidence he had that the travel ban was motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. Canby asked the attorney who had the legal burden of showing the likelihood of succeeding on their arguments in the case. The attorney responded that that burden was on the administration.
Clifton, nominated to the 9th Circuit by George W. Bush in 2001, is the second judge from Hawaii to serve on the 9th Circuit. He grew up in the Midwest, but moved to Hawaii to clerk for another 9th Circuit judge after graduating from Yale Law School in 1975. He is still based there.
Clifton, 66, was a lawyer for the Hawaii Republican Party, but has described himself as not having a pronounced political philosophy. He handled business and commercial litigation for a prominent Hawaii law firm and had never served as a judge before joining the 9th Circuit. He received nearly unanimous support for his nomination in the U.S. Senate. At his confirmation hearing, California Rep. Christopher Cox described Clifton as a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, Cub Scout den leader, and dedicated husband and father who had some important credentials for being an appeals court judge: He refereed youth soccer. Since joining the court, Clifton has ruled in favor of a Los Angeles ordinance that required hotel operators to open their guest registries at the demand of police and called for a harsher prison sentence for a terrorist who plotted to blow up Los Angeles International Airport.
Of the three judges who heard arguments over the travel ban, Clifton had the toughest questions for the attorney representing the two states — Washington and Minnesota — challenging it. He asked what evidence the attorney had that the president’s travel ban was motivated by religious prejudice. At one point, Clifton pressed him, “Do I have to believe everything you allege and say, ‘Well, that must be right.” But Clifton also grilled the administration’s attorney, asking him whether he denied statements by Trump about banning Muslims. The attorney said he didn’t.
At 44, Friedland is one of the two youngest federal appeals judges in the country. President Barack Obama appointed her in 2014, and during her confirmation hearing she received support from both parties.
Friedland was born in California and attended school in New Jersey, where her father worked as the president of a clothing company and her mother was a writing instructor and freelancer, according to Friedland’s 2000 wedding announcement in The New York Times.
She graduated with honors from Stanford University, studied at Oxford University on a Fulbright Scholarship and then got her law degree at Stanford University. She later clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
In private practice, she represented major clients, including Berkshire Hathaway, Boeing and the University of California. She was recognized along with a handful of other members of her firm by the California Bar Association for pro-bono work defending the constitutionality of California’s ban on sexual orientation “conversion therapy.” She also represented same-sex couples challenging California’s gay-marriage ban.
With less than three years on the appeals court, a full picture of Friedland’s judicial philosophy has yet to emerge, some legal scholars say.
Of the three judges at Tuesday’s hearing, she appeared to be the most sympathetic to Washington state’s case, repeatedly questioning the Justice Department’s lawyer over the basis for the travel ban: “Have you offered any evidence to support this need you’re describing for the executive order, or are you really arguing that we can’t even ask about whether there’s evidence because this decision is non-reviewable?”
The Associated Press’ Sudhin Thanawala also wrote this report.
The post A look at the judges who will rule on Trump’s travel ban appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Home health agencies will be required to become more responsive to patients and their caregivers under the first major overhaul of rules governing these organizations in almost 30 years.
The federal regulations, published last month, specify the conditions under which 12,600 home health agencies can participate in Medicare and Medicaid, serving more than 5 million seniors and younger adults with disabilities through these government programs.
They strengthen patients’ rights considerably and call for caregivers to be informed and engaged in plans for patients’ care. These are “real improvements,” said Rhonda Richards, a senior legislative representative at AARP.
Home health agencies also will be expected to coordinate all the services that patients receive and ensure that treatment regimens are explained clearly and in a timely fashion.
The new rules are set to go into effect in July, but they may be delayed as President Donald Trump’s administration reviews regulations that have been drafted or finalized but not yet implemented. The estimated cost of implementation, which home health agencies will shoulder: $293 million the first year and $234 million a year thereafter.
While industry lobbying could derail the regulations or send them back to the drawing board, that isn’t expected to happen, given substantial consensus with regard to their contents. More likely is a delay in the implementation date, which several industry groups plan to request.
“There are a lot of good things in these regulations, but if it takes agencies another six or 12 months to prepare let’s do that, because we all want to get this right,” said William Dombi, vice president for law at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC).
Home health services under Medicare are available to seniors or younger adults with disabilities who are confined to home and have a need, certified by a physician, for intermittent skilled nursing services or therapy, often after a hip replacement, heart attack or a stroke.
Patients qualify when they have a need to improve functioning (such as regaining the strength to walk across a room) or maintain abilities (such as retaining the capacity to get up from a chair), even when improvement isn’t possible. These services are not for patients who need full-time care because they’re seriously ill or people who are dying.
Several changes laid forth in the new regulations have significant implications for older adults and their caregivers:
In the past, patients have been recipients of whatever services home health agencies deemed necessary, based on their staffs’ evaluations and input from physicians. It was a prescriptive “this is what you need and what we’ll give you” approach.
Now, patients will be asked what they feel comfortable doing and what they want to achieve, and care plans will be devised by agencies with their individual circumstances in mind.
“It’s much more of a ‘help me help you’ mentality,” said Diana Kornetti, an industry consultant and president of the home health section of the American Physical Therapy Association.
While some agencies have already adopted this approach, it’s going to be a “sea change” for many organizations, said Mary Carr, NAHC’s vice president for regulatory affairs.
For the first time, home health agencies will be obligated to inform patients of their rights — both verbally and in writing. And the explanations must be communicated clearly, in language that patients can understand.
Several new rights are included in the regulations. Notably, patients now have a right to receive all the services deemed necessary in their plans of care. These plans are devised by agencies to address specific needs approved by a doctor, such as speech therapy or occupational therapy, and usually delivered over the course of a few months, though sometimes they last much longer. Also, patients must be informed about the agency’s initial comprehensive assessment of the patient’s needs and goals, as well as all subsequent assessments.
A patient’s rights to lodge complaints about treatment and be free from abuse, which had already been in place, are described in more detail in the new regulations. The government surveys home health agencies every three years to make sure that its rules are being followed.
NAHC officials said they planned to develop a “notice of rights” for home health care agencies, bringing greater standardization to what has sometimes been an ad hoc notification process.
For the first time, agencies will be required to assess family caregivers’ willingness and ability to provide assistance to patients when developing a plan of care. Also, caregivers’ other obligations — for instance, their work schedules — will need to be taken into account.
Previously, agencies had to work with patients’ legal representatives, but not “personal representatives” such as family caregivers.
“These new regulations stress throughout that it’s important for agencies to look at caregivers as potential partners in optimizing positive outcomes,” said Peter Notarstefano, director of home and community-based services for LeadingAge, a trade group for home health agencies, hospices and other organizations.
Plans Of Care
Now, any time significant changes are made to a patient’s plan of care, an agency must inform the patient, the caregiver and the physician directing the patient’s care.
“A lot of patients tell us ‘I’ve never seen my plan of care; I don’t know what’s going on; the agency talks to my doctor but not to me,’” said Kathleen Holt, an attorney and associate director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy. The new rules give “patients and the family a lot more opportunity to have input,” she added.
In another notable change, efforts must be made to coordinate all the services provided by therapists, nurses and physicians involved with the patient’s care, replacing a “siloed” approach to care that has been common until now, Notarstefano said.
Allowable reasons for discharging a patient are laid out clearly in the new rules and new safeguards are instituted. For instance, an agency can’t discontinue services merely because it doesn’t have enough staff.
The government’s position is that agencies “have the responsibility to staff adequately,” Carr of NAHC said. In the event a patient worsens and needs a higher level of services, an agency is responsible for arranging a safe and appropriate transfer.
“Agencies in the past have had the ability to just throw up their hands and say ‘We can’t care for you or we think we’ve done all we can for you and we need to discharge you,’” Holt said. Now a physician has to agree to any plan to discharge or transfer a patient, and “that will offer another layer of protection.”
The post New federal rules require home health agencies to do far more for patients appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Construction on the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline has begun again, days after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a final easement to allow the $3.8 billion pipeline to continue.
A spokesperson for Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, said in a statement that construction continued immediately after the Army granted the final easement to complete the project on Tuesday.
It’s the latest development in what has been a months-long battle over the project, which Native American tribes and environmental activists say threatens cultural sites and contaminates nearby water sources. Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, has said it’s safer than other methods of moving oil, like by train or truck.
The Cheyenne River Sioux filed a legal challenge to the easement Thursday in federal court in Washington, D.C., according to the Associated Press.
— Daniel Medina (@dmedin11) February 9, 2017
Like the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has become the center of the movement against the project, the Cheyenne River Sioux say the crude oil pipeline threatens the Missouri River, the main source of drinking water for both tribes. The tribe wants construction to be halted until previous lawsuits by Sioux nations, stuck in federal courts, can proceed.
In December, then-President Barack Obama halted pipeline construction by calling for an environmental impact statement from the Department of Army, which owns the federal land where the pipeline will be laid.
But after taking office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to expedite the permit and approval process for projects like the pipeline. At the end of January, the Army said it had been directed to expedite review of the Dakota Access pipeline.
The Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL Pipeline were put on hold during the Obama administration. But new executive orders by President Trump begin putting them back on track, as part of efforts to undo former President Obama’s legacy. How do these moves fit into the broader Trump agenda for energy and the environment? William Brangham talks with Valerie Volcovici of Reuters.
Along with Tuesday’s easement approval, the Army announced it was “terminating the Environmental Impact Statement that was in progress.”
That day, Tribal Chairman David Archambault was on his way to Washington, D.C. to meet with Mr. Trump and share the Standing Rock Sioux’s concerns. The tribe strongly opposes drilling underneath Sioux water supply.
Archambault learned the Army had approved the easement when he landed. He cancelled his meeting with Trump upon hearing the news, according to a statement on the tribe’s website.
“This administration has expressed utter and complete disregard for not only our treaty and water rights, but the environment as a whole,” Archambault said.
Col. John Henderson, the Omaha district commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said in a statement that “the safety of those located on Corps-managed land remains our top priority, in addition to preventing contaminants from entering the waterway”
ETP expects the drilling underneath the river in North Dakota will take two months. The pipeline could be operational as early as June, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, Archambault encouraged protesters and allies “ to exercise their First Amendment rights to remind President Trump where we stand on DAPL. Rise with Standing Rock.”
A Native Nations March on Washington is scheduled for March 10.
The post Tribe files legal challenge as construction of Dakota Access pipeline continues appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Members of a House of Representatives committee hammered the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday at a hearing titled “Making EPA Great Again,” accusing it of basing its regulations on biased, politicized science, and calling for reforms in the EPA’s rule-making process. But a number of scientific organizations call this an attempt to covertly strip the agency’s power—and ultimately to interfere with the scientific process itself.
In his opening statement at the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing, Chair Lamar Smith—a Republican from Texas—excoriated the EPA over what he has called its “secret science.”
In setting past environmental regulations the EPA has “routinely relied on questionable science, based on nonpublic information, that could not be reproduced…and deliberately used its regulatory power to undercut American industries and advance a misguided political agenda that has minimal environmental benefit,” Smith said. With Pres. Donald Trump’s administration newly in charge, Smith added that he now sees a chance to rein in an agency he thinks has run amok. “There is now an opportunity to right the ship at the EPA, and steer the agency in the right direction,” he said.
Many believe that means Smith plans to revive legislation called the Secret Science Reform Act, which he co-sponsored in 2014 and introduced again in 2015—but which Pres. Barack Obama vowed to veto. The bill would prohibit the EPA from creating regulations based on science that is “not transparent or reproducible.” Scientific organizations say this would make it more difficult for the EPA to create rules at all, and craft them based on the best available science.
For example, if the bill requires the EPA only use studies that can be identically reproduced, that would impose an unreasonable demand on scientists, according to Rush Holt, who testified at the hearing as CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
“Many studies cannot be repeated in exactly the same way—the populations have changed, those people [in the studies] have grown up or moved away or the forest you’re studying has been overtaken by an invasive [species],” Holt explained. “The Secret Science Act has been based on a misunderstanding of how science works—the gold standard is to find other approaches to come up with the same conclusions. Rarely can you repeat an experiment in exactly the same way.”
Critics also worry the legislation could keep the EPA from using important multiyear studies—say, for example, a 10-year study examining air pollution’s effect on human health—in the agency’s rule-making process. Those critical long-term studies are extremely difficult to replicate because they require so much time and money. Because of this, they may not fall under the definition of “reproducible.” Although the bill’s supporters might argue long-term studies would not be excluded, the law’s language would likely leave the term “reproducibility” open to interpretation. For instance, someone could potentially sue the EPA for using one of those long-term studies in its rule-making, leaving it to the courts to determine the definition of “reproducibility.”
All of this means the bill could limit the number of studies the EPA might consider, if either the courts decide a study is not “reproducible” or if the EPA refrains from using a multiyear study because it believes the research will not meet the bill’s “reproducibility” demand. In other words, the agency may not be able use the best available science to make its rules. “I think [the Secret Science bill] is fundamentally substituting a politically originated revision of the process for the scientific process,” Holt said in the hearing.
The Secret Science Reform Act would also require the EPA use only studies for which data is publicly available online—or the agency makes publicly available—in the name of transparency. But critics of this approach note that scientific studies often include private data, including individual health information, or industry records that cannot be made public for competitive, ethical or legal reasons. During the hearing the representative from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), an industry group, asked that confidential commercial data be protected in the bill. “That was another great illustration that the bill is not about transparency—it’s about what is politically expedient to move industry’s agenda forward,” says Yogin Kothari, a representative with the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
As for medical data, supporters of the bill say names and other private information could be scrubbed—but that would likely be expensive and time-intensive, and thus another factor limiting the number of studies the EPA could use to make its environmental protection rules. “You don’t need access to the raw data to figure out what information the EPA is relying on,” Kothari wrote in an e-mail. “The idea of secret science is based on a false premise.”
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that implementing the latest version of the Secret Science bill (the 2015 version) would cost the EPA $250 million annually over the next few years. The bill, however, allots the EPA only $1 million per fiscal year to carry out its new requirements. “The goal [of the bill] is really to throw a wrench in the rule-making process at the agency,” Kothari says. Smith’s office referred queries to the House Science Committee, whose spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
Industry groups including the ACC have supported the latest version of the bill. “A more transparent EPA helps to foster the kind of regulatory environment that gives our members the confidence and certainty they need to continue to invest in the U.S. economy and develop transformational, innovative products,” an ACC spokesperson wrote to Scientific American in an e-mail after the hearing. Other industry groups that supported the latest version of the bill declined to commment.
The House panel also focused on reforming the EPA’s Science Advisory Board, which some committee members and industry groups say does not represent a balanced view of science. In 2015 Smith co-sponsored a billcalled the “EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act,” which never became law—it is widely believed Smith will revive that legislation this year, along with the Secret Science bill. Opponents say the Advisory Board act would make it possible to stack the board with members who favor industry. “[The board] will not function better by having fewer scientists on it,” Holt said at the hearing.
Committee members also devoted a significant portion of the hearing to a recent controversial article about climate change research, recently published in the Daily Mail, a London tabloid newspaper. A whistleblower at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reportedly told the newspaper the agency violated scientific integrity and rushed to publish a landmark scientific paper, which showed no pause in global warming, for political reasons. Smith referenced the story in his opening statement at Tuesday’s hearing, saying, “Recent news stories report that NOAA tried to deceive the American people by falsifying data to justify a partisan agenda.”
The whistleblower, John Bates, told another publication on Tuesday, however, that the agency had broken protocol when it rushed to publication—but that the data had not been manipulated. The points Bates complained about made no difference in the scientific paper’s overall conclusions, according to Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist and an energy systems analyst at the University of California, Berkeley. Hausfather noted other studies, including one of his own, have independently verified the NOAA paper’s results. “I would strongly recommend,” he adds, “that if Congress wants to assess matters of science, they should rely on peer-reviewed publications rather than tabloid articles.”
This article is reproduced with permission from Scientific American. It was first published on Feb. 8, 2017. Find the original story here.
The post How the House science committee may try to weaken the EPA appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump vowed Thursday to contest a federal appellate court decision refusing to reinstate his ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations, tweeting, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”
The White House did not immediately comment on the merits of the unanimous decision issued by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court declined to block a lower-court ruling that suspended the ban and allowed previously barred travelers to enter the U.S.
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The ruling represented a setback for Trump’s administration and the second legal defeat for the new president in the past week. Trump’s decision to sign the executive order late last month has sparked protests at airports around the world as authorities barred scores of travelers from entering the country amid confusion over how to implement the details.
The appellate decision brushed aside arguments by the Justice Department that the president has the constitutional power to restrict entry to the United States and that the courts cannot second-guess his determination that such a step was needed to prevent terrorism.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted Thursday that Trump “ought to see the writing on the wall” and abandon the proposal. The New York Democrat called on the president to “roll up his sleeves” and come up with “a real, bipartisan plan to keep us safe.”
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California promised, “Democrats will continue to press for President Trump’s dangerous and unconstitutional ban to be withdrawn.”
In an off-camera response, President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday night that the U.S. appeals court ruling on his executive order was a “political decision.” Video by Justin Scuiletti/PBS NewsHour
U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle had issued a temporary restraining order halting the ban last week after Washington state and Minnesota sued, leading to the federal government’s appeal.
The Trump administration has said the seven nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — have raised terrorism concerns. The states have argued that the executive order unconstitutionally blocked entry based on religion and the travel ban harmed individuals, businesses and universities.
The president, in his third week in office, has criticized the judiciary’s handling of the case. Last weekend, he labeled Robart a “so-called judge” and referred to the ruling as “ridiculous.” Earlier this week he accused the appellate court considering his executive order of being “so political.”
Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, has referred to the president’s comments as “demoralizing and disheartening,” according to a Democratic senator who asked him about Trump’s response.
It was not immediately clear if the White House would appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court or if it would seek to argue the merits of the order in the district court.
Read the full ruling below. The states said Trump’s executive order unconstitutionally blocked entry based on religion.
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AUDIE CORNISH: Now a different kind of look at the views of one of the president’s closest advisers, Stephen Bannon, how his past work in film provides a window into some of his ideas.
Jeffrey Brown has our look.
JEFFREY BROWN: He is chief strategist to President Trump, close at hand as policy is made and decisions come from the White House, the president even recently appointing him to a seat on the National Security Council, a controversial decision.
Stephen Bannon has quickly gained so much of a reputation as an influential behind-the-scenes string-puller that “Saturday Night Live” portrayed him as the Grim Reaper in a recent skit.
ALEC BALDWIN, Actor: Send in Steve Bannon.
JEFFREY BROWN: Bannon was well-known previously as chairman of Breitbart News, the right-wing news organization that Bannon himself once called the platform of the alt-right, a fringe conservative group that mixes populism, white nationalism and racism.
But he’s also worked extensively in the film world, as executive producer on two traditional dramas, including “The Indian Runner,” Sean Penn’s directorial debut, and as producer, writer and director of political documentaries often released during election cycles.
Among his film topics, the global financial crisis in 2010’s “Generation Zero,” Sarah Palin, featured in “The Undefeated” in 2011, more recently, 2016’s “Clinton Cash” about alleged corruption in the Clinton Foundation, and also last year “Torchbearer,” about an America turning from God, and the concurrent rise of a violent and radical Islam.
Reporters at The Washington Post have been looking at Stephen Bannon’s work in films and how they may inform his role as the president’s right-hand man.
Ann Hornaday is a film critic for The Post. Matea Gold covers politics.
Welcome, both of you.
MATEA GOLD, The Washington Post: Great to be here.
JEFFREY BROWN: Ann, give us first an overview of themes, style, approach that emerge when you look at the films.
ANN HORNADAY, Film Critic, The Washington Post: Well, Bannon has really come into his own as mostly a documentary maker.
He has made and produced fiction films in the past, but it’s really his documentaries that get the most attention. And often they have political themes. He has a few sort of canards and villains that he returns to. He doesn’t like the Clintons very much. He doesn’t like any political elite very much.
He rails against the sort of permanent political class. He sees — the films often predict the world in very Manichaean terms, apocalyptic terms.
JEFFREY BROWN: Manichaean, black and white, good and evil.
ANN HORNADAY: Black and white, very urgent, very dramatic, I would say very hyperbolic in terms of this fight between good vs. evil.
I described it once as sort of clash of civilizations as cage match. And lately that’s really centered around what he calls the Judeo-Christian West and what he sees as radical Islamic jihadism.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Matea Gold, he’s referred to the work as weaponizing film. He said: “We have tried to weaponize film. And we have tried to do it in a certain way to get this film to people who might not necessarily see a political documentary.”
So he’s very up front in this work, as at Breitbart.
MATEA GOLD: Right.
One thing that I think is very important to understand about Bannon is that he’s a canny practitioner of whatever medium that he’s engaged with. He’s spoken admiringly about the techniques of both Leni Riefenstahl, the Nazi propagandist, and Michael Moore, the liberal filmmaker.
And what we have seen over the course of his films is that he explored a lot of the themes, the nationalist and populist themes that really then echoed in Donald Trump’s campaign. He did a documentary about illegal immigration. He went through a whole film that examined the fallout of the financial crisis.
We saw him elevating figures such as Sarah Palin in his films, so really saw him wrestling with some of these same issues that later came to bear in his politics.
JEFFREY BROWN: Let’s take a look at a short clip from “The Torchbearer,” which is from last year.
This is featuring Phil Robertson, who is best known for the “Duck Dynasty” series, and the theme of defending Christianity and the rise of violent Islam. Here’s a short clip.
MAN: In the absence of God, the man with the biggest stick determines your worth. Caesar demands his pinch of incense. Violence, decadence, political anarchy, moral decay, welcome to the city of man.
“When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, come and see these events, more to come. And I looked and behold a pale horse, and the name of him who sat on it was death, and Hades followed with him.”
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, Ann, there’s a lot more graphic imagery that we were not able to show. And a lot of it is fast-paced and louder. What do you see?
ANN HORNADAY: He definitely has perfected this rhetoric that’s very — again, very hyperbolic, very stylized.
He’s an emotional storyteller. There are many ways to make a documentary. Some documentaries are explanatory. And they try to make a case in terms of rationality and data and evidence-based learning. But he’s very much a guy who goes for the jugular. It’s very emotional, very emotionalistic.
And, as Matea said, you can really see the echoes of that rhetoric style, that rhetorical style, not only in Trump’s rhetoric, but just even the behavior in the first couple of weeks in terms of the way that they have approached, you know, say the immigration policies that they unfurled really without a whole lot of process involved in terms of making sure you get buy-in from agencies and legislators, because I think, you know, that kind of hews to the same sort of principle of make a big splash and appeal to that emotional core.
JEFFREY BROWN: Matea, you got a look at an outline for a proposed film that never got made, right, but written by Stephen Bannon. And it was to be called “Destroying the Great Satan: The Rise of Islamic Fascism in America.”
Tell us about that.
MATEA GOLD: This was an outline of a film that he worked on in 2007 that explored a lot of aspects of not only the potential of radical Muslims to inflict attacks here in the United States, but the potential for Muslim organizations, community groups to be serving as front groups.
And it also would have explored the sort of appeasement, as he put it, of enablers such as the media, the universities, American Jewish community, that the outline argued were actually facilitating the rise of some of these radical elements.
And this treatment gives us sort of a window into how concerned and preoccupied I think Bannon has been with the potential of fundamental Islam here threatening the United States.
JEFFREY BROWN: It uses phases like fundamental clash of civilization, right?
MATEA GOLD: Exactly. There’s a sense — and you have heard him speak about this. He actually gave a talk to a group at the Vatican in 2014 in which he outlined a lot of these worries, the sense that he has that the West and Islam are on the path of a major clash and war, something that’s going to be very destructive.
He warns in very dire, apocalyptic terms, as Ann put it, the potential for radical Islamic jihadis to really gain ground in Europe and also the United States. And that’s something that you see, a thread through all of his work.
JEFFREY BROWN: Stephen Bannon himself didn’t talk to you for your article, right? But you did talk to other people around him or who have worked with him. What do they say to explain or defend or what he’s after?
MATEA GOLD: People who know him and have worked with him say that he doesn’t harbor a bias, an animus toward Muslims as a whole.
But it seems that really this perception of what Islam is has been overtaken in his mind by the radical elements that he really sees as the vast majority of people who practice Islam. And so I think it’s sort of hard to separate where his personal views are and his political views are, but there is no question, when he talks about Islam, he talks about it as sort of a threatening set of beliefs, as opposed to a religion.
JEFFREY BROWN: Ann, you brought up Michael Moore earlier, right, as someone that Stephen Bannon admires, in a sense, as a filmmaker? There’s a long tradition of agitprop-type documentary making.
ANN HORNADAY: Absolutely. And they’re both polemicists.
I think Michael Moore also appeals to emotion, in a very different way. For one, thing he uses himself.
JEFFREY BROWN: From the completely other side.
ANN HORNADAY: Exactly.
And he’s really kind of perfected his on-screen persona, this everyman persona. And that’s a rhetorical strategy, in and of itself. But Bannon has very much stayed behind the scenes. And, sometimes, he directs these films. Sometimes, he doesn’t. He often will write them.
But even just — even when he’s only producing them, they really do share, I think, this kind of common grammar. And, as Matea said, what’s interesting, especially in “Torchbearer,” is that nowhere does he kind of acknowledge that Islam and Judaism and Christianity, they’re all Abrahamic religions.
The God presumably is the same God that they’re all worshiping. But that’s nowhere — he really doesn’t see Islam as a religion. It’s more of an ideology.
JEFFREY BROWN: Matea Gold and Ann Hornaday, thank you both very much.
MATEA GOLD: Thank you.
ANN HORNADAY: Thank you.
AUDIE CORNISH: And, for the record, we have asked the White House for an interview with Mr. Bannon about this and other subjects. They have declined our requests for now.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: It has become a routine question. What kind of separation there is between the president, his family and the promotion of their businesses?
Kellyanne Conway’s comments today about Ivanka Trump fueled a new round of criticism and concerns for the companies involved.
So, how should businesses navigate these news waters?
Our economics correspondent Paul Solman explores that with his weekly installment of Making Sense.
PAUL SOLMAN: The Super Bowl, politicized this year through ads, Airbnb branding itself as immigration-friendly, Coca-Cola recycling a 2014 ad that also suggests an alternative definition of American patriotism.
And in the larger world, backlash from Uber customers over President Trump’s immigration ban, #deleteUber, that ultimately forced its CEO to step down from a White House advisory panel.
Nordstrom dropping the first daughter’s clothing line back in January, with Neiman Marcus following suit, prompting a tweet from President Trump yesterday: “My daughter has been treated so unfairly by Nordstrom. She is a great person, always pushing me to do the right thing. Terrible.”
So are we seeing the rise of a new partisan consumerism, echoing the country’s polarized politics?
We invited two Harvard Business School professors, Nancy Koehn and Len Schlesinger, to answer the question.
NANCY KOEHN, Professor, Harvard Business School: What we’re seeing now is, I think, the culmination or perhaps the next logical step of a long series of events and trends among consumers, many of them previously alienated from the political process, where they use their dollars to vote on social, political and economic issues.
LEN SCHLESINGER, Professor, Harvard Business School: And relative to today’s administration, there are countless examples of how that’s being played out on a daily basis.
So we have the scenario of the Ivanka merchandising line, which has now been essentially removed from Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, a hashtag, #boycottNordstrom, hashtag #boycottNeimanMarcus for actually tossing our Ivanka out of the store, and the same on the other side of the equation.
PAUL SOLMAN: So, boycotts, consumer boycotts have been used to express political beliefs and to try to affect political outcomes for…
NANCY KOEHN: For at least 50 or 60 years, right, and probably going back farther than that.
What, again, is new, I think, Paul, is the reach and the speed. And that’s all running on the high-octane fuel of social media. And I think the other thing that’s new and different is the emotional energy that social media allows. These are all businesses that have a very big word of mouth component to them. They have a big ego or identity component to them.
So the ability of these boycotts to affect those aspects of business success, consumer loyalty, word of mouth, brand power, that’s a big deal.
LEN SCHLESINGER: And the interesting thing is seeing where it really is a big deal and where it isn’t. So, in the context of Uber, it is a service that people hate to love or love to hate, OK?
LEN SCHLESINGER: And the CEO announces he’s going to join the president’s business advisory council. In the midst of everything that was going on at Uber and everything that was going on in the administration within the immigrant community, he had no choice but to withdraw from being on the president’s advisory council.
You wonder what got him possessed to actually join in the first place.
PAUL SOLMAN: Because he ought to have anticipated the uproar that that might cause.
LEN SCHLESINGER: Given the population he is serving and the populations, quite honestly, that the Uber services having a huge negative impact on, it should have been obvious.
NANCY KOEHN: I would ask or want business leaders to have the same kind of consciousness about the divisiveness, about the electorate, about the different kinds of issues that were, if you will, uncovered, again, in very emotionally intense ways, during the campaign.
So it’s by no means stay away. It’s let’s think this through very carefully as we think about how to respond, react, predict.
PAUL SOLMAN: But aren’t you saying stay away?
LEN SCHLESINGER: But it’s precisely those terms that give me pause, OK, and have me advising in more situations than not for CEOs after doing their balance sheet, OK, to actually lay low until there’s a bit more certainty as to how the administration truly is going to govern going forward.
PAUL SOLMAN: Are we seeing what’s been called identity politics playing out now across the board?
NANCY KOEHN: Think about how people that are on the boycott-Trump- businesses side of things are thinking of themselves. They’re thinking of themselves first as, I don’t support the president. Secondly, I want to make a difference here in voicing and in doing something with my opposition, my resistance.
So, that is in some ways an exercise in identity. So, interestingly, when we talked on the campaign about identity politics, we talked it often on the side of Trump supporters. I’m not sure of my identity, I’m not sure where I belong in this country, I’m not sure that people in Washington understand or are acting on my behalf.
PAUL SOLMAN: Because candidate Trump embodied their sense of identity sort of counter to the mainstream.
NANCY KOEHN: Absolutely.
I wonder if we’re not going to see a kind of consumer activism, identity politics, potentially a cohesion of the resistance or the opposition to Mr. Trump that actually has to do with an emerging patriotism?
A huge amount of the resistance when you dig down deep in is about the integrity of Trump’s actions with relation to the Constitution or fundamental American values.
PAUL SOLMAN: How might it manifest itself in terms of consumption?
LEN SCHLESINGER: Well, the first level is, you see it play out just this week at the Super Bowl, OK? So I’m fascinated by listening to all of the responses to the Lady Gaga halftime show.
But the reality is, she started singing “God Bless America,” right? And she had a whole portrayal of what I will call incredibly patriotic songs by someone who wouldn’t be naturally assumed to be among the great patriots. And the reality is, it’s exactly, I think, what you were talking about, Nancy.
NANCY KOEHN: And then think about the ads.
PAUL SOLMAN: For example?
LEN SCHLESINGER: Well, you know, the Anheuser-Busch commercial celebrating the arrival of August Busch, the Airbnb commercial celebrating the diversity in the American population, without ever talking about what Airbnb is or what Airbnb does.
PAUL SOLMAN: I literally didn’t know that that was an Airbnb commercial.
LEN SCHLESINGER: Yes, yes, yes.
NANCY KOEHN: Think about that. If you think tactically from a marketing perspective, it’s not — we’re not talking about what Airbnb is. But we are talking about the values of the Airbnb brand or the values of the Anheuser-Busch ads.
It’s a little bit like Nike towns, right? We make these investments in our brand that may or may not translate quickly into profitability or feed the bottom line, and yet they’re long-term investments in how we want our consumers to understand who we are.
PAUL SOLMAN: And your point about the Airbnb ad being like Nike, I mean, Nike is all about image and identity, and not function, right?
NANCY KOEHN: Just do it, absolutely. And it’s been, viewed from the long term, remarkably successful.
PAUL SOLMAN: Do you think that there will be a group of companies now, or even a group of products or services, that actually embody the oppositional form — I don’t know how to quite put this — the oppositional form of American patriotism? And, if so, what would they be?
LEN SCHLESINGER: Well, I think we saw some of it this weekend, as we saw some of the more subtle messaging that came out of the commercials, which is, we’re about all Americans, we’re about being open to everybody, we’re about being absolutely clear that we welcome all to our country and to our businesses.
PAUL SOLMAN: So, last question. Do you guys imagine that, four years from now, we will have a country that’s as divided in terms of what it shops for as who it votes for?
LEN SCHLESINGER: If I extrapolated from the trends of the last several months, I would say yes.
But that requires me to actually predict that what we’re experiencing today continues and in fact gets exaggerated over the next four years. I, as an academic, can say that would be really interesting. As a human being, I would say, that’s scary.
PAUL SOLMAN: From the Harvard Business School in Boston, this is economics correspondent Paul Solman, reporting for the PBS NewsHour.
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AUDIE CORNISH: There are lingering questions over the deadly raid by U.S. Navy SEALs in Yemen last month.
While it’s still unclear exactly what happened on the ground, the issue of whether the raid should be seen as a success has become a political one.
Eight days ago, President Trump flew to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to honor a Navy SEAL killed in Yemen. The U.S. also lost an Osprey aircraft in the January 29 raid on al-Qaida. Now, despite these losses, the White House called the operation a success, but critics like Republican Senator John McCain disagreed.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.: When you lose a $75 million airplane and, more importantly, American lives are lost — a life is lost and wounded, I don’t believe that you can call it a success.
AUDIE CORNISH: The president fired back this morning, tweeting that it only emboldens the enemy to discuss the raid with reporters. He said of McCain: “He’s been losing so long, he doesn’t know how to win anymore.”
Late today, McCain’s daughter defended her former prisoner of war father on Twitter, saying: “Trump has never served. My father can’t bend one of his knees or lift one of his arms above his head. I am done with this. Done.”
White House spokesman Sean Spicer argued Wednesday that the SEALs gathered critical intelligence.
SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: It’s absolutely a success. And I think anyone who would suggest it’s not a success does disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens.
AUDIE CORNISH: The raid also killed civilians, including women and children. The New York Times reported this week that Yemen has now withdrawn permission for such operations. Yemen’s foreign minister denied that, but said they are seeking a reassessment.
We break down what we know of the raid now with Nancy Youssef, national security correspondent at BuzzFeed News.
Welcome to the program.
NANCY YOUSSEF, BuzzFeed: Thanks for having me.
AUDIE CORNISH: Now, with the tweets from the White House, Congress, this has really become a kind of political football. What are people saying inside the Pentagon?
NANCY YOUSSEF: Well, it’s frankly made it hard for people in the Pentagon to talk about this raid, because what they see as a military operation has now evolved into a political issue.
Inherently, they don’t talk about special operations raids. They’re covert. And now you have everything being put in this political context trying to answer the question of what is success on a U.S. military operation?
John McCain has called it a failure. Last week, the White House was saying success was a delicate term because civilians and Chief Owens had been killed in the raid. And this week, they said it was categorically a success. So, inside, rather than a discussion about success or failure, there is a real measure going on about the risks and rewards of this raid and was it worth it, given how tumultuous it was, that it evolved into a firefight, and that you now have questions swirling around it that, was this worth it?
Was the intelligence gathered worth all that’s come out of it since?
AUDIE CORNISH: I think this has also sparked a greater conversation about the process and the thinking that goes into green-lighting a raid like this, right, and also comparing it to the Obama administration.
NANCY YOUSSEF: Right.
AUDIE CORNISH: Talk a little bit about that. What do we know about what happened in terms of that process?
NANCY YOUSSEF: So, the Obama administration was really risk-averse, and President Trump during the campaign really campaigned on the idea of being more aggressive in terms of going after extremist elements like al-Qaida, which was the target of this raid, and the Islamic State.
And so we have heard that the Obama administration was aware of the raid and the planning for it, which was months before it actually happened, but that they had decided essentially that this wasn’t a decision for them to make, that while it had reached to the National Security Council, it hadn’t reached the president.
And because the military wanted to launch this raid on the first lunar moon, which was on January 29, nine days after the raid, the decision was formally made by President Trump. I think the question that people are having is, what does the process tell us about how President Trump will make decisions on these raids and how much does differ from the Obama administration?
And is this more aggressive approach how — is it going to manifest in more risky raids, more risky operations than we had seen in the past eight years under the Obama administration, which really was willing to even endure some risks of terror groups being allowed to sustain, rather than take the risk of doing operations like this, dropping boots on the ground in a combat zone like war-torn Yemen?
AUDIE CORNISH: As you mentioned, Yemen has been in freefall for many years now.
Are we seeing a renewed focus by the U.S. on this country, and do we have any sense about what that could mean going forward?
NANCY YOUSSEF: Well, we remember, in the early hours of the Trump administration, they conducted drone strikes in Yemen. And we had started to hear talk that, while the focus has been on ISIS for the past few years, al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula has been one of the few groups that’s been able to execute external attacks on Western allies.
Remember, they were part of the planning for the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, France. And so there has been a feeling that perhaps this administration would want to expand its counterterrorism operations to not just focus on ISIS, but focus on a group like al-Qaida that has really been able to flourish in the last five years of the Yemeni civil war, because there’s so much ungoverned space and such a fertile ground for them to recruit and train.
AUDIE CORNISH: Nancy Youssef is national security correspondent for BuzzFeed.
Thank you so much for speaking with us.
NANCY YOUSSEF: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to a different court question, and that is the mounting controversy over President Trump’s attacks on the judiciary. We have just referred to them.
For that, we turn to two former judges. Paul Cassell teaches at the University of Utah College of Law. He served as a federal judge for five years in Utah’s district court. And Rebecca Kourlis is a former justice of the Colorado Supreme Court. She now runs the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver.
And we welcome both of you to the program.
And, of course, I’m talking to you, Professor Cassell and Justice Kourlis, just as we have learned about what the circuit court in California has ruled, and that is denying the administration’s appeal.
But let me turn to you first, Justice Kourlis. What is your reaction to what President Trump has been saying in recent days about this circuit court in California?
REBECCA KOURLIS, Former Colorado Supreme Court Justice: Good evening, Judy, and thanks for the opportunity to comment on this.
My concern is not so much the disagreement with the outcome, but rather the attack on sort of the legitimacy of the process. And that risks further polarity, further critique of the judiciary as a political branch of government, which it is not, cannot be, was never intended to be.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, an attack on the legal system, is what you’re saying. And you’re saying it’s inappropriate, it’s over the line? How would you characterize it?
REBECCA KOURLIS: Well, I don’t want to sort of join in the epithet-tossing contest that we seem to be in nationally at present.
But I am a longtime former judge, justice. I now study the court in the context of IAALS, the institute at which I work. And our whole focus is on trying to protect the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, which is not to say that I’m an apologist for judges. Judges make mistakes. Judges can approach cases in a biased way.
There are some judges who are activists. But the point is that the process itself is what we count on, and we agree as a society that we will trust the ultimate outcome from that process. There are appeals. There are ways to approach things, but ultimately it’s about the balance of powers and the legitimacy of the courts.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Professor Cassell, how do you see it, what the president has been saying about the court, very critical remarks?
PAUL CASSELL, University of Utah College of Law: Well, I think he’s been very critical of the courts, but then again, the court has been striking down or at least staying one of the signature pieces of his campaign, the immigration reform.
And we have a long tradition of three co-equal branches of government, co-equal branches of government that have often felt free to criticize what the others are doing. You can go all the way back the Abraham Lincoln, who very famously even refused to follow some of the edicts from the U.S. Supreme Court.
So I see the dialogue as in some ways being healthy, although I would hope that the discourse could be elevated at least above some of the things that have recently been said.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Justice Kourlis, why isn’t it just healthy dialogue? It does go back. We think about what other presidents have said and done about the court.
REBECCA KOURLIS: So, here’s sort of the bottom line for me, Judy.
It’s not OK to criticize a judge as illegitimate or activist just because you disagree with the outcome. It’s fine to say, I think that’s the wrong ruling, I disagree with the basis upon which the ruling is issued. But to sort of claim that the judge has no right to issue that ruling, that to me crosses the line.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And Professor Kourlis, when President Trump called Judge Robart a so-called judge, and then he went on to talk about — I think he used the word disgraceful the way the judges conducted themselves or some of the judges conducted themselves at the appellate hearing on Tuesday of this week, is that not stepping over the line?
Is that calling into question the very role that judges play?
REBECCA KOURLIS: It is to me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m sorry. I meant that for Professor Cassell.
PAUL CASSELL: I think he’s stepping over a line of decorum, but I’m not sure that he’s stepping over some line that invalidates the separation of powers.
President Trump has made it one of his signature I guess style points, you could say, that he’s going to be very plainspoken. And so it’s not surprising to find he’s using strong language to criticize the judges. I wouldn’t be using that same language.
I think it’s a violation of our rules of civility, but one of the things that President Trump has indicated is that he’s going to press some of those boundaries and he’s going to use these forms of communication like Twitter that probably prevents some of the nuance or maybe even some of the elegance that we have seen from previous presidents.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Justice Kourlis, what about that? It can be argued that this president is taking advantage of new methods of communication, including Twitter.
REBECCA KOURLIS: I’m OK with that, actually, and I’m OK with plain talk and an effort to pierce through some of the complexities of the legal system, because I certainly don’t think it’s OK to hide behind that.
But my point fundamentally is that judges have a role. Their role is to determine the facts in front of them at the trial court level, apply the law, rule, and then the parties can appeal it as far up the process as possible.
If the whole process is perceived to be political, if judges are perceived to rule on the basis of who appointed them or what political party they have, then impartiality goes out the window. So people in positions of power, people in leadership positions, I hold to a higher standard of acknowledging the balance of powers, the role of each branch of government.
And, by the way, I would apply this evenhandedly. I don’t think it’s OK to call President Trump a so-called president. There’s a legitimacy of process that we all honor and that’s part of democracy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What about the point she’s making, Professor Cassell?
PAUL CASSELL: Well, President Trump I think has recognized legitimacy of the process. He’s appealed to the Ninth Circuit, and I’m assuming he’s going to ask the Justice Department to appeal to the Supreme Court now to have the decision overturned.
But I think it’s unfair to take certain labels off the table as inappropriate. There is a healthy debate in this country about whether our judiciary and particularly our federal judiciary is too activist, that is, it is making laws, rather than applying laws.
And you can have that debate in the dry language of law professors or you can have it in the more robust language of Twitter feeds and plainspoken talk. And I think President Trump is trying to have that debate in a way that average Americans can understand and communicate effectively in that way.
Again, I wouldn’t speak in those ways, but I think he certainly is entitled to speak in those ways.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I just want to come back to you quickly, Professor Cassell, and read to you what President Trump said in one of his remarks.
He said: “This judge opens up our country to potential terrorists.” He said, “If something happens, blame him and the court system.”
You think that’s within the bounds of what a president can say?
PAUL CASSELL: Yes, absolutely. What’s at stake in this immigration debate is a debate about whether we’re effectively protecting our country from terrorism.
And so to point to the consequences of an adverse ruling is exactly what the government lawyers are doing out in the Ninth Circuit and I assume will be doing soon to the Supreme Court.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we do expect — we have ever reason to assume the White House, the administration will continue to challenge and to appeal that decision.
Well, we want to thank both of you, Professor Paul Cassell, Justice Rebecca Kourlis. We appreciate you joining us. Thank you.
REBECCA KOURLIS: Thank you, Judy.
PAUL CASSELL: Thank you.
The post Do Trump’s attacks on judicial legitimacy go too far? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So tonight’s appeals court decision came after President Trump’s criticism of the court, even as he pushes his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.
John Yang has that story from the White House.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: A new era of justice begins, and it begins right now.
JOHN YANG: The man who ran as the law and order president made clear today he’s now the law and order president, as Jeff Sessions was sworn in as President Trump’s attorney general.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We face the menace of rising crime and the threat of deadly terror, and it’s not getting better, but it will get better.
JOHN YANG: For days, Mr. Trump has been attacking the federal judges considering challenges to his temporary ban on travel from seven mainly Muslim countries. His Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, told Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal that a tweet referring to one of the jurists as a so-called judge was disheartening and demoralizing.
Even though a spokesman for Gorsuch confirmed the comment, today, the president insisted otherwise.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: His comments were misrepresented, and what you should do is ask Senator Blumenthal about his Vietnam record that didn’t exist after years of saying it did so. He misrepresented that, just like he misrepresented Judge Gorsuch.
JOHN YANG: Blumenthal, who was in the Marine Corps Reserves during the Vietnam War, but never served overseas, apologized in 2010 for saying during his Senate campaign that he had served in the war.
The president’s comments came in a bipartisan meeting that included Democratic senators he hopes will vote for Gorsuch. They included four Democrats up for reelection next year in states that Mr. Trump won, like John Tester of Montana.
SEN. JON TESTER, D-Mont.: The president can say what he wants about Dick Blumenthal, but Dick Blumenthal is a quality guy and a very, very good senator.
JOHN YANG: Does that sort of thing impact your decision at all?
SEN. JON TESTER: No, not on this, not on this at all. I think that we’re going to take a look at the nominee for what he is and what his past work and we will move forward from there.
JOHN YANG: Meanwhile, senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway got into hot water today when she followed up on the president’s criticism of Nordstrom for dropping Ivanka Trump’s fashion line.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, Trump Senior Adviser: I own some of it. I fully — I’m going to just give — I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.
JOHN YANG: That appeared to run afoul of ethics laws against federal employees endorsing products.
The president is exempt under that law, but Conway is not. White House secretary Sean Spicer:
SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: Kellyanne has been counseled. And that’s all we’re going to go on. She’s been counseled on that subject. And that’s it.
JOHN YANG: House Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz said Conway’s remarks were clearly over the line and unacceptable.
Tonight, Chaffetz and Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, sent a letter to the Office of Government Ethics saying Conway should be disciplined, anything ranging from a reprimand to dismissal. But the White House says Mr. Trump continues to have confidence in Conway — Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: John, so we know the president has also been busy talking to a number of former leaders.
JOHN YANG: That’s right. Every day this week, he’s been on the phone with foreign leaders. Today, he was scheduled to talk to the heads of Afghanistan, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq. And starting tomorrow, he’s got a flurry of face-to-face meetings.
Tomorrow, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be here and then travel to Mar-a-Lago in Florida with Mr. Trump for a weekend of golf. And then on Monday, Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, and on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.
JUDY WOODRUFF: John Yang at the White House, we thank you.
AUDIE CORNISH: In the day’s other news: The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said thousands more troops are needed to help defeat Taliban insurgents. General John Nicholson testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying more trainers and support could help the Afghan army break what he called a stalemate.
GEN. JOHN NICHOLSON, Commander U.S. Forces, Afghanistan: I have adequate resources in my counterterrorism mission. In my train, advise and assist mission, however, we have a shortfall of a few thousand. And this is in the NATO train, advise and assist mission, so this can come from the U.S. and its allies.
AUDIE CORNISH: The U.S. still has more than 8,400 troops in Afghanistan, in a war that’s now lasted 16 years.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A powerful storm paralyzed cities across the Northeastern U.S. today, dumping more than a foot of snow in some places. Scores of accidents tied up roads across the region. And the heavy snow and high winds forced hundreds of schools to close, from New York to Boston to Maine. Officials everywhere appealed to the public.
BILL DE BLASIO, D-N.Y.: When we get into the evening and the overnight that if people continue to stay out of the way of sanitation and let them do their job, then they go on offensive and are not fighting a constant barrage of snow coming in, they can get things for pretty good for tomorrow morning.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The storm has also grounded more than 3,500 airline flights through tomorrow.
AUDIE CORNISH: Construction on the final stretch of the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline is now under way. That’s after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave the go-ahead for crews to lay pipe under a North Dakota reservoir.
As the works resumed, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe filed a last-ditch legal challenge to try to stop its completion. The tribe fears a leak could taint their water.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The newest member of the United States Senate took his seat today. The governor of Alabama appointed state Attorney General Luther Strange to the post. He was sworn in by Vice President Pence. A special election will be held in 2018 to fill the seat permanently. Strange replaces Jeff Sessions, who officially became the U.S. attorney general today.
AUDIE CORNISH: And on Wall Street, a rally fueled by strong corporate earnings reports. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 118 points to close at 20172. The Nasdaq rose 32 points, and the S&P 500 added 13.
A transcript will be added soon.
The post Why the 9th Circuit Court rejected Trump’s immigration ban appeal appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The border between the United States and Mexico has a series of fences and walls, sensors and surveillance cameras, meant to stymie illegal crossings. President Donald Trump has said he will strengthen that security.
There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.
On Jan. 25, he signed an executive order calling for the “immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border” and 5,000 more border patrol agents, among other measures.
Congress still needs to authorize the funds.
Some numbers you should know:
1,900 miles: The length of the border between the United States and Mexico, spanning California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas
1,000 miles: The length that President Trump has said he wants his wall to be. It’s not clear whether it would be an all new wall or replace some of the existing sections. The rest of the span has natural obstacles such as rivers and cliffs.
$12 billion to $15 billion: Cost to build the wall, according to Republican congressional leaders. President Trump has said Mexico will pay for the wall, but Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto said the country wouldn’t pay and canceled his meeting with the president. Reuters, citing an internal document from the Department of Homeland Security, reported Friday that the cost would be closer to $21.6 billion.
What’s the barrier like now? Here’s a look.
WASHINGTON — Republicans won Senate confirmation of President Donald Trump’s choice for health secretary early Friday in the testy chamber’s fourth consecutive brawl over Cabinet picks.
Senators approved Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., to head the Health and Human Services Department by a strictly party-line 52-47 vote in the dead of night. A debate that Democrats prolonged until nearly 2 a.m. EST Friday was dotted with bitter accusations, reflecting the raw feelings enveloping Washington early in Trump’s presidency.
No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas said Democrats’ “obstruction” of Cabinet nominees was a rejection of Trump’s Election Day victory and threatened “the stability of the government and that peaceful transition of power” from President Barack Obama.
Citing Price’s long-time support for revamping the Medicare program for the elderly, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that with Price’s confirmation, “The Republicans launch their first assault in their war on seniors.” Trump has said he won’t cut Medicare.
Republicans see Price, an orthopedic surgeon and seven-term House veteran, as a knowledgeable leader who will help scuttle Obama’s health care overhaul, partly by issuing regulations weakening the law. Democrats describe an ideologue with a shady history of trading health care stocks and whose policies will snatch insurance coverage from Americans.
“He seems to have no higher priority than to terminate health coverage for millions of people,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. She said his preference for limiting women’s access to free birth control was “not only wrong, it’s arrogant.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Price, 62, “knows more about health care policy than just about anyone.” He said Price would help “bring stability to health care markets that Obamacare has harmed.”
Price’s nomination is part of a larger clash in which Republicans want to quickly enact priorities long blocked by Obama. Democrats, with few tools as Congress’ minority, are making a show of resistance, stretching some floor debates to the maximum 30 hours Senate rules allow.
The high stakes plus Trump’s belligerent style have fed the combativeness. They’ve also produced remarkable scenes, including Democratic boycotts of hearings, Republicans suspending committee rules to approve nominees and GOP senators voting to bar Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., from joining a debate.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, accused Democrats of opposing Trump’s nominees with “apocalyptic visions of a future world gone mad.” He wondered how Democrats kept “their outrage settings turned to 11 without getting completely exhausted.”
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Trump was shaping a Cabinet that “benefits those at the top and their allies, but really hurts the workers and families.”
Watch Tom Price during before a confirmation hearing Jan. 24
Until recently chairman of the House Budget Committee, Price has proposed repealing Obama’s health law and replacing it with tax credits, health savings accounts and high-risk pools for sick, costly consumers. Democrats say those ideas are inadequate and would leave people unprotected against significant health expenses.
Republicans have yet to produce a replacement plan and have differed over when they will do so.
Price has supported ending federal payments to Planned Parenthood, and paring Medicaid and giving states more power to shape the health care program for the poor. He’d reshape Medicare’s guaranteed health coverage for the elderly into a program offering subsidies for people to buy policies.
Democrats have accused Price of lying about his acquisition of discounted shares of an Australian biotech company and benefiting from insider information. They’ve also asserted he pushed legislation to help a medical implant maker whose stock he’d purchased.
Price has said he’s done nothing wrong. It’s illegal for members of Congress to engage in insider trading.
By 53-46, the Senate ended procedural hurdles to financier Steven Mnuchin’s nomination to be Treasury secretary. Final approval for Mnuchin and for physician David Shulkin to be veterans affairs secretary was set for Monday.
The Senate has approved the previous three consecutive Cabinet nominees along mostly party lines.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., became attorney general by 52-47 after Warren was punished for reading a 1986 letter by Coretta Scott King criticizing him. Betsy DeVos was approved as education secretary, rescued by Vice President Mike Pence’s tie breaker in a 51-50 vote, and Rex Tillerson won approval 56-43 as secretary of state.
That contrasts with the past four decades, when Senate records show most Cabinet selections have been approved overwhelmingly.
During that period, no secretary of state nominee received fewer than 85 votes. The closest tally for health secretary was the 65-31 roll call for Obama’s 2009 pick, Kathleen Sibelius.
Just four of 31 votes for Obama Cabinet vacancies drew at least 40 “no” votes, as did only two of 34 votes for Cabinet positions under President George W. Bush.
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President Donald Trump said the U.S. is committed to the security of Japan and all areas under its administrative control in a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House on Friday.
Trump’s comments imply that a U.S.-Japan defense treaty covers disputed East China Sea islands, which are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China.
He said the allies have many shared interests, including freedom of navigation and defending against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat, which he called a “very high priority.”
Trump’s past calls for allies like Japan to pay more for their defense had sown doubts in Tokyo over the new U.S. administration’s commitment to the alliance.
Trump said Friday he’s committed to bringing ties “even closer.”
President Trump also said he has “no doubt” that he will prevail in the federal court case over his travel ban.
He promised to take additional steps to improve U.S. security.
His comments came a day after a San Francisco-based U.S. appeals court refused to reinstate his temporary ban on travel to the U.S. by refugees and residents of seven mostly Muslim countries in the name of national security.
The administration will continue to work the case through the court process, said Trump, adding that he has “no doubt that we’ll win” the case.
The administration will do whatever is necessary to keep the country safe, he said.
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After a bruising confirmation process, the Senate confirmed Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., to head up the Department of Health and Human Services, by a 52-to-47 vote.
As secretary, Price will have significant authority to rewrite the rules for the Affordable Care Act, some of which are reportedly nearly ready to be issued.
But there is much more now within Price’s purview, as head of an agency with a budget of more than $1 trillion for the current fiscal year. He can interpret laws in different ways than his predecessors and rewrite regulations and guidance, which is how many important policies are actually carried out.
“Virtually everything people do every day is impacted by the way the Department of Health and Human Services is run,” said Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. HHS responsibilities include food and drug safety, biomedical research, disease prevention and control, as well as oversight over everything from medical laboratories to nursing homes.
Price, a Georgia physician who opposes the Affordable Care Act, abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood, among other things, could have a rapid impact without even a presidential order or an act of Congress
Some advocates are excited by that possibility. “With Dr. Price taking the helm of American health policy, doctors and patients alike have sound reasons to hope for a welcome and long-overdue change,” Robert Moffit, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said in a statement when Price’s nomination was announced.
Others are less enthusiastic. Asked about what policies Price might enact, Topher Spiro of the liberal Center for American Progress said at that time: “I don’t know if I want to brainstorm bad ideas for him to do.”
Here are five actions the new HHS secretary might take, according to advocates on both sides, that would disrupt health policies currently in force:
Birth control coverage: Under the ACA, most insurance plans must provide women with any form of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration at no additional cost. This has been particularly controversial in regards to religious employers who object to artificial contraception, leading to alterations in the rules, and resulting in a two separate Supreme Court rulings, one about private firms’ rights to make religious objections, and one about nonprofit religious hospitals and schools.
As secretary, Price would have two main options. He could expand the “accommodation” that already exempts some houses of worship from the requirement to any employer with a religious objection. Or, because the specific inclusion of birth control came via a regulation rather than the law itself, he could simply eliminate no-copay birth control coverage from the benefits insurance plans must offer. (This assumes continuing existence of the health law, at least for the short term.)
Medicare payment changes: The health law created an agency within Medicare, called the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, that was tasked with exploring new ways to pay doctors and hospitals that would reduce costs while maintaining quality. The HHS secretary has the authority to require doctors and hospitals to participate in the experiments and new payment models. Some have proved unpopular with physician and hospital groups, in particular the idea of paying providers so-called bundled payments for packages of care, rather than allowing them to bill item-by-item; one such package covers hip and knee replacements, from the time of surgery through post-surgical rehabilitation. Price, as a former orthopedic surgeon himself, would likely act to scale back, delay or cancel that project, since he “has been a critic in the past,” said Dan Mendelson, CEO of Avalere Health, a Washington-based consulting firm.
Planned Parenthood funding: Republicans have been agitating to separate Planned Parenthood from its federal funding literally for decades. Congress would have to change the Medicaid law to permanently defund the women’s health group, which also performs abortions (with non-federal funds) at many of its sites. But an HHS secretary has many tools at his disposal to make life miserable for the organization.
For example, during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, rules were put in place, and eventually upheld by the Supreme Court, that would have banned staff in federally funded family planning clinics from counseling or referring for abortion women with unintended pregnancies. The subsequent Clinton administration repealed the rules, but they could make a comeback under the new secretary’s leadership.
Price could also throw the weight of the department into a probe into Planned Parenthood’s ties to firms allegedly selling fetal tissue for profit, which has also been investigated by a House committee.
Tobacco regulation: After years of discord, Congress finally agreed to give the Food and Drug Administration (limited) authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009. “The core authority is statutory,” said Matt Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, who advocated for the law. That means Congress would have to act to eliminate many of its changes. But a secretary who opposes the law (Price voted against it at the time) could weaken enforcement, says Myers. Or he could rewrite and water down some rules, including recent ones affecting cigars and e-cigarettes.
“The secretary has very broad discretionary authority not to vigorously enforce or implement the statute in an aggressive manner,” Myers said.
Conscience protections: At the very end of the George W. Bush administration, HHS issued rules intended to clarify that health care professionals did not have to participate in performing abortions, sterilizations or other procedures that violated a “religious belief or moral conviction.”
Opponents of the rules complained, however, that they were so vague and sweeping that they could apply not just to opponents of abortion, but also to those who don’t want to provide birth control to unmarried women, or HIV treatment to homosexuals.
The Obama administration revised the rules dramatically, much to the continuing consternation of conservatives. They were among the few health-related items included in the health section of Trump’s website before he was inaugurated and the page was taken down. “The Administration will act to protect individual conscience in health care,” it said. Many expect the rules to be reinstated in their original form.
This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation. Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 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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WASHINGTON — Betsy DeVos was met with shouts of “stand up, fight back” from angry protesters as she made her first visit to a public school Friday as education secretary.
Several dozen protesters, some with small children, gathered at Jefferson Middle School, a predominantly African-American school in the nation’s capital. At one point, when DeVos tried to enter the school door, two protesters blocked her path, forcing her to return to her car.
Protesters not allowing Betsy DeVos' advance team near SW DC school where she's expected to visit pic.twitter.com/dC6m2IGbCc
— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) February 10, 2017
DeVos eventually made it inside the school, in a visit that was designed to help her mend fences with teachers and parents across the country.
The visit itself was closed to the news media, and the Education Department had no immediate comment about the protest.
— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) February 10, 2017
DeVos, 59, is a billionaire Republican donor who spent more than two decades promoting charter schools and school voucher programs in her home state of Michigan and other states. She faced fierce opposition during the confirmation process from teachers unions who fear that she intends to defund traditional public schools. Two Republican senators from rural states that rely heavily on public schools opposed the nomination and Vice President Mike Pence had to cast a tie-breaking vote on Tuesday.
Randy Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the groups that vigorously opposed DeVos’ nomination, condemned the incident.
“Just heard a protester blocked & almost knocked Secy @BetsyDeVos down at Jefferson,” she wrote on Twitter. “We don’t condone such acts.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser also stressed on Twitter that protests should be peaceful. “We welcome Betsy DeVos & anyone who wants to learn more about our schools,” she wrote.
DeVos’ visit to the school was not announced by the Education Department.
Jennifer Ibrahim, 34, a humanitarian worker, brought her toddler son in a stroller to the protest.
“I want to support our local public schools, make sure that everybody gets fair treatment under the system and I don’t feel like that’s where we are headed with our new education person,” Ibrahim said. “Charter schools aren’t necessarily better than public schools.”
Ari Schwartz, 26, a non-profit worker, held a poster in which a picture of a teddy bear was juxtaposed with a photo of Devos. “This is a bear. This is a threat to students,” the caption read.
During her confirmation hearings, DeVos suggested that schools should have guns on campus to protect students against grizzly bears.
Public schools are “the foundation of our society, that’s how everybody learns what’s right and wrong,” Schwartz said. “We need to keep it that way.”
Elizabeth Davis, president of the Washington Teachers Union said teachers will continue to fight for good public education and hope DeVos will listen to them.
“We want quality public schools … for all of our children in every zip code in DC,” Davis told the Associated Press ahead of the protest. “We do not want to continue a trend of starving, punishing and closing our public schools to make way for privatization and more charter schools and vouchers.”
But former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who served under President Barack Obama, tweeted, “Agree or disagree w @Betsy DeVos on any issue, but let’s all agree she really needs to be in public schools. Please let her in.”
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When filmmaker Barak Goodman sat down to start making the documentary “Oklahoma City” about the 1995 bombing that left 168 people dead, he said he remembered little of the story — except, as he told NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Brown, the shocking image of a building “with its face blown off, an image that we weren’t used to or accustomed to at the time.”
In the days and hours after the bombing, it was assumed in the media to have been carried out by a Middle Eastern terrorist. Instead, it turned out to be an attack carried out by white American men with anti-government leanings. In Goodman’s film, he traces past events that influenced the attack — the largest domestic terror attack in the nation’s history — including the siege at Ruby Ridge in 1992, when FBI agents and U.S. marshals engaged in a deadly standoff with a white separatist and his family. This incident would go on to help motivate Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
But while McVeigh was exposed to and influenced by far-right separatist movements of the time, Goodman said he also studied far-left fringe movements in the making of his film. Below, Goodman offers recommendations on what to read and watch to better understand fringe movements on the left and the right, and how that can lead to domestic terrorism.
In Goodman’s words:
I’d recommend Jess Walter’s fine [nonfiction] book “Ruby Ridge.” And a wonderful new novel, loosely based on the Ruby Ridge story, is called “Fourth of July Creek” by Smith Henderson. The author is from Montana and you can feel the authenticity in every page. He uses the Ruby Ridge story as a very loose model for his own — a family who has dropped out of civilization because it fears an all-powerful government and then gets into an altercation with the law. I loved the characters in this book and the evocation of that part of the world.
As far as movies go, I’d recommend two documentaries about domestic terror groups: “The Weather Underground” (directed by Sam Green and Bill Siegel) and “If a Tree Falls” (directed by Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman).
When I went looking for antecedents for my own film, “Oklahoma City,” I watched both of these documentaries and loved them. They are both about domestic terrorist movements. The first is about the Weathermen of the 1960s and early in the ’70s, [a militant left-wing group], and the second is about the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmentalist group active in the 2000s. The fact that both groups were on the fringe-left of the political spectrum added some perspective to my own investigation of the fringe-right.
Both films had great archival content, fast-paced editing and nicely balanced structures — qualities I sought in “Oklahoma City.”
Watch NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Brown’s interview with Barak Goodman below:
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