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

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    Protesters run from tear gas fired by security forces after supporters of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr tried to approach the heavily fortified Green Zone during a protest at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq February 11, 2017. REUTERS /Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud - RTSY5SS

    Protesters run from tear gas fired by security forces after supporters of Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr tried to approach the heavily fortified Green Zone during a protest at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq February 11, 2017. Photo by Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud/Reuters

    BAGHDAD — Clashes that erupted during protests in the Iraqi capital on Saturday left a policeman dead, according to police and hospital officials who said seven other policemen were injured along with dozens of protesters. The violent outbreak prompted the government to call for a “full investigation.”

    Demonstrators loyal to influential Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr protested in Baghdad’s downtown Tahrir square demanding an overhaul of the commission overseeing local elections scheduled this year.

    Shots rang out in central Baghdad as security forces used live fire and tear gas to disperse the crowds. An Associated Press team at the scene witnessed ambulances rushing away protesters suffering from breathing difficulties.

    Hospital officials who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not allowed to brief journalists said the policeman died of a gunshot wound.

    While at times the crowds advanced toward Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone, by afternoon they began to disperse after a statement from al-Sadr’s office called on his followers to refrain from trying to enter the compound.

    Al-Sadr accused the elections commission of being corrupt and called for the commission’s members to be changed, according to a statement from his office.

    “The prime minister ordered a full investigation into the injuries among security forces and protesters during the demonstration today in Tahrir square,” read a statement from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office Saturday evening.

    “We will not give in to threats,” said the head of the electoral commission, Serbat Mustafa, in an interview with a local Iraqi television channel Saturday afternoon. Mustafa said he would not offer his resignation and accused al-Sadr of using the commission as a political “scapegoat.”

    Al-Sadr has been a vocal critic of al-Abadi, and last year protests that included many of his followers breached the highly fortified Green Zone twice.

    Al-Abadi has said that he respects the rights of all Iraqis to peacefully demonstrate but called on the protesters Saturday to obey the law and respect public and private property.

    The Green Zone is home to most of Iraq’s foreign embassies and the seats of Iraq’s government.

    Associated Press writer Murtada Faraj contributed to this report.

    The post Policeman killed during anti-government protests in Baghdad appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Last week, Nordstrom dropped the Ivanka Trump brand, reporting that the brand’s sales were down and that it no longer made “good business sense” to carry it: according to market research firm Slice Intelligence, Nordstrom’s e-commerce sales of the clothing brand dropped 66 percent from November and December 2015 to November and December 2016.

    A day after Nordstrom abandoned the brand, luxury retailer Neiman Marcus removed Ivanka Trump’s high-end jewelry line from their website. And on Wednesday, The New York Times reported that T.J. Maxx and Marshalls told employees to throw away signs advertising the Ivanka Trump brand, a move seen as an attempt to distance the company from the Trump name.

    Those upset with Trump the president, feeling unheard and discontented, are using their wallets to protest by boycotting Trump the brand — and other companies associated with it.

    Besides carrying the Trump brand, these companies had one thing in common: They were on the “Grab Your Wallet” boycott list. Those upset with Trump the president, feeling unheard and discontented, are using their wallets to protest by boycotting Trump the brand — and other companies associated with it.

    “Consumer boycotts are not new,” Nancy Koehn of Harvard Business School told the PBS NewsHour, but the breadth and speed of this consumer activism is.

    Uber also found itself in the crosshairs of the boycott following Trump’s executive order that temporarily stopped immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and suspended the U.S. refugee program. The order brought protests at airports around the country, and was halted by a federal stay this week.

    On Jan. 28, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance stopped service to and from the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, in a show of support for immigrants detained at the airport, but Uber continued to offer rides and removed its surge pricing. Within hours, #DeleteUber began trending on Twitter, and in the following days, more than 200,000 users deleted their accounts, The New York Times reported.

    The bad publicity led Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to quit Trump’s economic advisory board and set aside $3 million for a legal defense fund for immigrant drivers. (Uber has since been removed from the Grab Your Wallet list.)


    Economics correspondent Paul Solman explores how companies are navigating polarized politics in the Trump era

    The Grab Your Wallet campaign began after the Washington Post first reported on an audio recording of Trump bragging about “grabbing” women by the genitals.

    By Oct. 11, four days after that report, brand specialist Shannon Coulter had begun a boycott campaign on Twitter with #GrabYourWallet, a not-so-subtle reference to the tape. A spreadsheet lists over 50 companies to boycott based on whether the company sells Trump products, whether C-suite leaders or board members fundraised for Trump, and whether it sponsors the new Celebrity Apprentice, where Trump is still a paid executive producer.

    The list includes Macy’s, LL Bean, Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s, Zappos, Amazon, T. J. Maxx, Lord & Taylor and Bed Bath & Beyond. And companies such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Jet, have been removed from the list after they stopped carrying Trump products.

    “I felt some ambivalence doing any business with any business that does business with the Trump family,” Coulter said.

    “Women hold the purse strings — this has been true for a long, long time.”

    In addition to those impacted by the immigration ban, there’s another swath of the population with impressive buying power who have protested Trump by the thousands: Women.

    “Women hold the purse strings — this has been true for a long, long time,” Koehn said.

    Trump’s sexist comments preceded the enacting of legislation that directly affects reproductive rights. In his first week in office, and two days after the global Women’s March, Trump signed the “Mexico City policy,” prohibiting overseas health organizations that receive American aid from supporting or performing abortions.

    Meanwhile, women, a majority of whom voted for Hillary Clinton, are the major decision makers on more than 70 percent of household consumption and make as much as 85 percent of all consumer purchases. (And as it’s been often noted, although 53 percent of white women voted for Trump, 94 percent of black women and 68 percent of Hispanic women voted for Clinton.)

    READ MORE: Has the election season hurt Trump the brand?​​

    Ivanka Trump’s brand, which targets young professional women, is taking a particularly hard hit.

    “Women’s economic empowerment was at the center of [Ivanka Trump’s] brand, while she was advocating for a misogynist — the likes of which we had never seen,” said Coulter, noting that Ivanka Trump continued to campaign for her father after the Hollywood Access tape was released.

    As Hayley Garrison Phillips writes in the Washingtonian, “educated working young women with disposable incomes in fashion-forward urban areas” — her targeted customers — “are not the Trump name’s core constituents.”

    While it’s nothing new to have women at the core of a boycott, what’s unique about this boycott is that it is in “resistance or opposition to the current administration,” Koehn said.

    “This wouldn’t have nearly the power, the pull, the magnitude, if the president and his family had really divested themselves from their businesses as they make governing decisions for the country.”

    “We have never had a president who’s consistently unwilling to adhere to the ethics stipulations, the spirit of laws, regulations, the emoluments clause in the Constitution. He’s making an ongoing choice to have his business and his family’s business mixed in with the presidency,” said Koehn. “This wouldn’t have nearly the power, the pull, the magnitude, if the president and his family had really divested themselves from their businesses as they make governing decisions for the country.”

    Trump hasn’t been quiet on the assault on his family’s businesses. After Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump’s brand, Trump tweeted: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”

    On Thursday, Kellyanne Conway doubled down on the same message and appeared on Fox and Friends, where she stated: “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would tell you … I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody.”

    Later in the day, the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to the Office of Government Ethics asking them to investigate Conway’s endorsement.

    It’s not clear whether the boycott will slow in the near future. In reaction to Nordstrom dropping the Ivanka Trump brand, a #BoycottNordstrom hashtag took off among Trump supporters, continuing a dizzying pace of boycotts and counter-boycotts.

    “The fires aren’t cooling,” said Koehn. In fact, she said, they’re fanned with every response from Trump.

    “We may have lost at the ballot box,” Coulter said, “but we can vote at the cash register every day.”

    The post Upset with Trump the President, consumers boycott Trump the brand appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A military police officer (R) talks with relatives of police officers who are blocking the main entrance of police headquarters, during a police strike over wages, in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker - RTSY59N

    A military police officer, right, talks with relatives of police officers who are blocking the main entrance of police headquarters, during a police strike over wages, in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil, on February 11, 2017. Photo by Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

    SAO PAULO — A few dozen military police returned to duty in Espirito Santo on Saturday, but it was unclear if the force as a whole was ready to end a weeklong strike that has paralyzed the southeastern Brazilian state and led to an outburst of violence in which more than 130 people have reportedly died.

    Earlier in the day, the defense minister appealed to “all of the good police officers” to return to the streets, even as he said that life was beginning to return to normal now that more than 3,000 federal troops are on patrol.

    The Espirito Santo Public Safety Department said in a statement late Saturday that officers were patrolling in the center of the state capital of Vitoria. It didn’t say how many had shown up for work, but a photo with the statement appeared to show at least a few dozen. The G1 news portal reported that there were 60.

    Officers also showed up for work in two other towns, according to Gustavo Tenorio, a spokesman for the Public Safety Department.

    It was unclear if the force as a whole was prepared to return to work, however. Earlier in the day, the government said officers had rejected an agreement, announced Friday, to end the weeklong strike for higher pay.

    The state has seen an extraordinary wave of violence since the standoff began a week ago when family members of military police surrounded their barracks. The protesters prevented vehicles from exiting, thus paralyzing the force.

    Because the military police, who patrol Brazilian cities, are forbidden to strike, relatives of the officers took the lead, but state authorities have accused officers themselves of being behind the movement. Union leaders have denied this, but said they support the protesters’ goals.

    Throughout the week, the state has been reliant on federal troops, including both members of the military and the national guard, who have been patrolling the streets of several cities. Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said 3,130 troops were now in the state.

    Jungmann told reporters that, since the troops arrived, looting and break-ins have stopped. He also said there had been a reduction in homicides, though the rate remains higher than normal.

    In the vacuum left by police, shops have been looted and buses burned. The union representing civil police officers says 137 people have been killed since military police stopped patrolling. The state government has not released a death toll.

    Amid the insecurity, most state services ground to a halt, with schools and health centers closing and city buses sitting idle.

    Bus service partially resumed in the state capital of Vitoria on Saturday, and hospitals were open, according to Tenorio. But smaller health centers remained closed.

    “On Monday, this was a ghost town,” Jungmann told reporters. “Today, we see a city that is getting back to normal: People are on the beach, people are in the streets, people are moving about.”

    The government, which is experiencing an economic and fiscal crisis like many Brazilian states, has continued to reject demands for higher pay, though it said Friday it would analyze the system of promotions.

    The strike in Espirito Santo inspired a handful of much smaller family protests in neighboring Rio de Janeiro state on Friday and Saturday. However, in Rio, family members did not block barracks, instead demonstrating peacefully outside them. The military police there took to Twitter to repeatedly reassure the population that they were on patrol.

    The post Military police begin patrols in paralyzed Brazilian state appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Supporters of Planned Parenthood (R) rally next to anti-abortion activists outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. February 11, 2017.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook - RTSY77T

    Supporters of Planned Parenthood (R) rally next to anti-abortion activists outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. February 11, 2017. Photo by Rebecca Cook/Reuters

    Anti-abortion protesters gathered Saturday at Planned Parenthood clinics to urge the government to remove federal funding from the health services provider.

    Leaders of the protest said that demonstrations were planned at clinics across the country and in response, abortion rights advocates planned their own counter-demonstrations in as many as 45 states.

    In many cases, where people from both sides of the issue met at the same locales, abortion rights advocates exceeded the number of anti-abortion protesters, Reuters reported.

    An estimated 6,000 people met in St. Paul, Minnesota, and local reports indicated 500 of them were anti-abortion protesters. Marches and demonstrations at parks, government buildings, clinics and elsewhere in places like Philadelphia, Washington and Portland.

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

    Planned Parenthood, which was first created in 1916, has nearly 650 health centers. The organization offers birth control and reproductive health services, including abortions.

    While abortion was legalized in 1973 following the landmark Roe vs. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision, U.S. law bans the use of federal funding for it, except in cases of rape, incest or a life-threatening condition.

    Saturday’s protests come two weeks after tens of thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators met in Washington, D.C., for the March for Life to voice their displeasure over legal abortion.

    President Donald Trump, once in favor of legal abortions, has since reversed his position and campaigned to limit abortion access. Some Republican members of Congress have backed the de-funding initiative for Planned Parenthood, which receives Medicaid reimbursements and Title X funding to support family planning.

    “As long as they are going stay in the abortion business, that is an organization that shouldn’t be getting one red cent of federal tax money,” Monica Miller, director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society and one of the national organizers of the anti-abortion rallies, told Reuters.

    Planned Parenthood said cutting federal funding would make it more challenging for some women to receive birth control and other health tests.

    “Saturday, and every day, Planned Parenthood advocates and activists show that they refuse to be intimidated and they won’t back down,” Kelley Robinson, a leader of Planned Parenthood Action Fund Support, said in a statement.

    The post Abortion rights activists counter anti-abortion rallies appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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

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

    PYONGYANG, North Korea — In an implicit challenge to President Donald Trump, North Korea appeared to fire a ballistic missile early Sunday in what would be its first such test of the year.

    After receiving word of the launch, Trump stood at his south Florida estate with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who called the move “intolerable.”

    There was no immediate confirmation on the launch from the North, which had warned recently that it was ready to test its first intercontinental ballistic missile. The U.S. Strategic Command, however, said it detected and tracked what it assessed to be a medium- or intermediate-range missile.

    North Korean media are often slow to announce such launches, if they announce them at all. As of Sunday evening, there had been no official announcement and most North Koreans went about their day with no inkling that the launch was major international news.

    The reports of the launch came as Trump was hosting Abe and just days before the North is to mark the birthday of leader Kim Jong Un’s late father, Kim Jong Il.

    Appearing with Trump at a news conference at Trump’s estate, Abe condemned the missile launch as “absolutely intolerable.”

    Abe read a brief statement in which he called on the North to comply fully with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. He said Trump had assured him of U.S. support and that Trump’s presence showed the president’s determination and commitment.

    Trump followed Abe with even fewer words, saying in part: “I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent.”

    [Watch Video]

    South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the missile was fired from around Banghyon, North Pyongan Province, which is where South Korean officials have said the North test-launched its powerful midrange Musudan missile on Oct. 15 and 20.

    The military in Seoul said that the missile flew about 500 kilometers (310 miles). South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that while determinations were still being made, it was not believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile.

    The missile splashed down into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, according to the U.S. Strategic Command. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the missile did not hit Japanese territorial seas.

    The North conducted two nuclear tests and a slew of rocket launches last year in continued efforts to expand its nuclear weapons and missile programs. Kim Jong Un said in his New Year’s address that the country had reached the final stages of readiness to test an ICBM, which would be a major step forward in its efforts to build a credible nuclear threat to the United States.

    Though Pyongyang has been relatively quiet about the transfer of power to the Trump administration, its state media has repeatedly called for Washington to abandon its “hostile policy” and vowed to continue its nuclear and missile development programs until the U.S. changes its diplomatic approach.

    READ NEXT: How media smuggling took hold in North Korea

    Just days ago, it also reaffirmed its plan to conduct more space launches, which it staunchly defends but which have been criticized because they involve dual-use technology that can be transferred to improve missiles.

    “Our country has clearly expressed its standpoint, that we will continue to build up our capacity for self-defense, with nuclear forces and a pre-emptive strike capability as the main points, as long as our enemies continue sanctions to suppress us,” Pyongyang student Kim Guk Bom said Sunday. “We will defend the peace and security of our country at any cost, with our own effort, and we will contribute to global peace and stability.”

    Kim Dong-yeop, an analyst at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies in Seoul, said the missile could be a Musudan or a similar rocket designed to test engines for an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the U.S. mainland. Analysts are divided, however, over how close the North is to having a reliable long-range rocket that could be coupled with a nuclear warhead capable of striking U.S. targets.

    South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is also the acting president, said his country would punish North Korea for the missile launch. The Foreign Ministry said South Korea would continue to work with allies, including the United States, Japan and the European Union, to ensure a thorough implementation of sanctions against the North and make the country realize that it will “never be able to survive” without discarding all of its nuclear and missile programs.

    Associated Press writers Kim Tong-Hyung in Seoul, South Korea, and Jill Colvin in Palm Beach, Florida, contributed to this report.

    The post North Korea test-fires missile, apparently challenging Trump appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A bathroom sign welcomes both genders at the Cacao Cinnamon coffee shop in Durham, North Carolina May 3, 2016. The shop installed the signs after North Carolina's "bathroom law" gained national attention, positioning the state at the center of a debate over equality, privacy and religious freedom. Photo by Jonathan Drake/REUTERS

    A bathroom sign welcomes both genders at the Cacao Cinnamon coffee shop in Durham, North Carolina, on May 3, 2016. Photo by Jonathan Drake/Reuters

    DALLAS — President Donald Trump’s administration is stepping back from a request made by former President Barack Obama’s administration in an ongoing lawsuit over bathroom rights for transgender students in public schools.

    In a filing Friday with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal government asked to withdraw a motion filed last year that asked a judge to scale back a temporary injunction blocking Obama’s guidance on the issue.

    The Department of Justice’s filing, which came a day after Jeff Sessions was sworn in as Trump’s attorney general, said the parties were “currently considering how best to proceed in this appeal.”

    Texas and 12 other states filed the lawsuit last year challenging the former president’s guidance, which directed public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. “Our concern is that it’s a very clear signal that at a minimum the Department of Justice — and possibly more broadly throughout the Trump administration — will not protect transgender students.” — Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign

    A federal judge temporarily blocked the directive nationwide in August. The Obama administration later requested that the hold only apply to the 13 suing states while it appealed the ruling. A hearing on the request was set for Tuesday, but the Friday court filing asked that the hearing be cancelled.

    Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said Saturday afternoon that the agency declined to comment beyond the filing. Calls to the Texas attorney general’s office were not returned.

    Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, said they were “incredibly disappointed” by the filing on Friday.

    “Our concern is that it’s a very clear signal that at a minimum the Department of Justice — and possibly more broadly throughout the Trump administration — will not protect transgender students,” she said.

    [Watch Video]

    U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor blocked the Obama administration order in August. The Obama administration had cited Title IX, a federal law guaranteeing equality in education. But the judge, in issuing a temporary injunction, said the Title IX “is not ambiguous” about sex being defined as “the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth.”

    READ NEXT: Here’s what most people get wrong about the transgender community

    The ruling, he said, was not about the policy issues of transgender rights, but about his conclusion that federal officials simply did not follow rules that required an opportunity for comment before such directives are issued.

    In the meantime, the U.S. Supreme Court is set in late March to hear the case of a Virginia school board that wants to prevent a transgender teenager from using the boys’ bathroom at a high school.

    The Virginia case involves 17-year-old Gavin Grimm, who identifies as male. He was allowed to use the boys’ restroom at his high school in 2014. But after complaints, the school board adopted a policy requiring students to use either the restroom that corresponds with their biological gender or a private, single-stall restroom. A lower court ordered the school board to accommodate Grimm, but that order is on hold.

    The post U.S. withdraws stay request in transgender bathroom case appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A 250 kg World War Two bomb that was found during excavation works at a gas station, is carried on a military truck, following an operation to defuse it, in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, February 12, 2017.  REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTSYA54

    A 250 kg World War Two bomb that was found during excavation works at a gas station, is carried on a military truck, following an operation to defuse it, in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, February 12, 2017. Photo by Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters

    THESSALONIKI, Greece — Authorities in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki say an unexploded World War II bomb found under a gas station was defused Sunday and safely taken to an army firing range outside the city, paving the way for over 70,000 people to return home.

    The roads in western Thessaloniki and the suburb of Kordelio, where most of those forced to evacuate earlier Sunday came from, have reopened. Authorities had shut down a 1.9 kilometer (1.2-mile) radius for experts to safely work on the bomb.

    The U.S.-made 275-pound (125-kilogram) bomb was “badly corroded, but its detonation mechanism was still in very good condition,” said Army spokesman Col. Nikos Fanios.

    A military officer (C) of the Hellenic Army's Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) is seen inside a hole in the ground where a 250 kg World War Two bomb was found during excavation works at a gas station, before an operation to defuse it, in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, February 12, 2017.  REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis - RTSY8W8

    A military officer (C) of the Hellenic Army’s Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) is seen inside a hole in the ground where a 250 kg World War Two bomb was found during excavation works at a gas station, before an operation to defuse it, in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, February 12, 2017. Photo by Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters

    The Army had initially estimated that the bomb weighed 500 pounds (227 kilograms). Officials said it was 1.5 meters (5 feet) long.

    The bomb will be either detonated or dismantled at the firing range, Fanios said. He added that similar bombs had been found in previous years near the Macedonia Airport east of the city, but, with the area being mostly open fields, no large scale evacuation had been deemed necessary.

    Sunday’s evacuation started at 7 a.m., with police went house-to-house ringing bells and knocking on doors to remind people to leave.

    Bomb disposal experts started work at 11.30 a.m., 90 minutes later than planned, but defused the bomb in only 30 minutes, Central Macedonia governor Apostolos Tzizikostas announced.

    Calling the operation “a total success,” he said it was the largest peacetime population evacuation in Greece and estimated it involved 70,000 people.

    Many people left the area in their cars, but some were bused to schools and sports halls elsewhere in the city.

    People are transferred according to an evacuation plan, before an operation to defuse a 250 kg World War Two bomb found during excavation works at a gas station on the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, February 12, 2017.  REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis - RTSY8VP

    People are transferred according to an evacuation plan, before an operation to defuse a 250 kg World War Two bomb found during excavation works at a gas station on the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, February 12, 2017. Photo by Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters

    “We heard on TV that, if the bomb explodes, it will be like a strong earthquake,” Michalis Papanos, 71, told The Associated Press as he and his wife, Yiannoula, headed out of their home.

    Alexander Bogdani and his wife, Anna Bokonozi, left on foot, pushing a stroller with their toddler daughter.

    “We are afraid for the child,” Bogdani said.

    The city’s main bus station was shut down, trains in the area were halted and churches canceled Sunday services. The city also booked a 175-room hotel where people with limited mobility were taken on Saturday.

    Among the evacuees were 450 refugees staying at a former factory who were bused to visit the city’s archaeological museum.

    One resident recalled the day the bomb fell.

    “The bombing was done by English and American planes on Sept. 17, 1944. It was Sunday lunchtime,” said Giorgos Gerasimou, 86, whose home is half a mile away from the bomb site.

    He said the Allies were targeting local German rail facilities. He remembers the day clearly because one of his 10-year-old friends was killed in the bombing.

    Nazi Germany occupied Greece from 1941 until October 1944.

    Demetris Nellas contributed from Athens, Greece

    The post WWII bomb defused in Greece; 70,000 evacuees heading home appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    File photo of a patient filling out an application for health insurance during an Affordable Care Act enrollment fair in California. Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

    File photo of a patient filling out an application for health insurance during an Affordable Care Act enrollment fair in California. Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

    Ask anyone about their health care and you are likely to hear about ailments, doctors, maybe costs and insurance hassles. Most people don’t go straight from “my health” to a political debate, and yet that is what our country has been embroiled in for almost a decade.

    A study out Thursday tries to set aside the politics to examine how the insurance markets function and what makes or breaks them in five specific states.

    Researchers from The Brookings Institution were exploring a basic idea: If the goal is to replace or repair the Affordable Care Act, then it would be good to know what worked and what failed.

    “The political process at the moment is not generating a conversation about how do we create a better replacement for the Affordable Care Act,” said Alice Rivlin, senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, who spearheaded the project. “It’s a really hard problem and people with different points of view about it have got to sit down together and say, ‘How do we make it work?’”

    The researchers focused on California, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas, interviewing state regulators, health providers, insurers, consumer organizations, brokers and others to understand why insurance companies chose to enter or leave markets, how state regulations affected decision making and how insurers built provider networks.

    “Both parties miss what makes insurance exchanges successful,” said Micah Weinberg, president of Bay Area Council Economic Institute who led the California research team. “And it doesn’t have anything to do with red and blue states and it doesn’t have anything to do with total government control or free markets.”

    Despite the political diversity of the five states, some common lessons emerged. Among them:

    Health Insurance Markets Are Local

    Insurer competition varied widely within states, with the most dramatic differences between urban and rural areas. The more populated regions tended to have more insurance competition and better-priced plans than rural areas.

    Fewer people live in rural areas, which means there are fewer hospitals, doctors and other health professionals. As a result, insurance companies that do business in those regions have less power to negotiate prices with local providers, who are more likely to be the only game in town.

    “Insurance companies don’t make money [in many rural areas] because they can’t cut a deal with the providers that will be attractive to the customers,” Rivlin said. “And there just aren’t very many customers, so it’s not obvious what to do about that.”

    Republicans, including the Trump administration, have suggested the sale of insurance policies across state lines as one way to boost competition.

    But that may be easier said than done, Rivlin said.

    “The insurance companies would still have to have local providers,” she said. “So a company in New York can’t easily sell in Wyoming unless it has providers lined up in Wyoming.”

    Consolidation Kills Competition

    Consolidation includes hospitals buying physician practices and large medical centers buying up smaller hospitals. California offers a prime example of this phenomenon. In the San Francisco Bay Area, where consolidation has reduced competition among hospitals and physician groups, consumers have fewer choices and higher premiums than those in Los Angeles, where consolidation hasn’t yet gobbled up so many providers.

    More Sick People Signed Up Than Expected

    Insurance companies did not have any idea who would buy policies through the exchanges in the early years. And as it turned out, a lot of those previously-uninsured sick people — more than insurers and policymakers had expected —raced to get coverage.

    As a result, researchers found, many plans incurred losses, with some companies reporting claims that were 50 to 100 percent greater than the premiums they collected. Making matters worse, a mechanism in the health law to reimburse companies for such losses in the early years proved inadequate. That caused a lot of them leave the marketplaces.

    Under Obamacare, insurance companies could no longer deny coverage or charge higher rates to those with preexisting medical conditions. And during the first two years of the exchanges, insurers simply didn’t know how to price their policies because they’d rarely dealt with people who hadn’t been insured before, the researchers found.

    In Michigan, six of 16 insurers withdrew. And in regions of Texas and North Carolina, which had between five and nine insurers, only three remained.

    Some Consumers May Be “Gaming” The System

    Three of the states — Florida, North Carolina and Texas — reported that generous special enrollment rules allowed many consumers to delay enrollment into a plan until they needed health care. And in Michigan and North Carolina, researchers found that some people signed up for a policy, used it, then dumped it when they had received the care they needed. That ends up leaving insurers stuck with more of the tab than they’d anticipated.

    “The challenge is some of the rules that were set up around the ACA made it easy to game the system, frankly,” said Lanhee Chen, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, who was not involved in the study.

    Along with tightening the rules around special enrollment periods, Chen said he’d like to see a return to high-risk pools for the sickest Americans. The idea being that removing the most costly consumers from the general risk pool will allow carriers to lower premiums for everyone else. But high-risk pools, which a majority of states operated before the ACA, are hugely expensive and don’t always work as intended, Rivlin said.

    “The states have had quite a lot of experience with high-risk pools and it has not been encouraging,” she said.

    A more workable solution, she said, might be found by making sure a strong reinsurance mechanism provides payments to insurers that take on more costly customers.

    Narrow Networks Appear To Be The New Normal

    By the third year of the exchanges, insurers in all five states have opted to offer more narrow networks on the exchange than the plans that give access to more doctors and hospitals. These smaller networks of providers allow insurers to give more patients to participating providers in exchange for lower prices. It’s a trend that started before the Affordable Care Act became law and one that appears to be taking hold in nearly every market as insurers search for ways to keep premiums down.

    The Sky May Be Falling, But Many Carriers Are Nevertheless Doing Well

    Indeed, one lesser-known chapter in the Obamacare story involves those carriers that are making enough of a profit to reduce 2017 premiums.

    “About half the insurers are making a ton of money on [the exchanges] and that’s how markets work,” Weinberg said. “The idea that there should be winners and losers in a particular marketplace is something that Republicans should certainly feel comfortable with.”

    Medicaid Managed Care Plans Come Out Winners

    Researchers found that regional insurers that originally went into business to care for those with Medicaid — the health insurance for the poor and disabled — are filling gaps after insurers fled in many markets. Molina Health in California, WellCare in Florida, Community Health Choice in Texas, “appear to have thrived in the ACA marketplace environment,” the study said.

    Rivlin said the success of these plans is likely due to their experience caring for a low-income, often very sick population. They already had well-established networks of local providers that allow them to provide care at a lower cost. As 2017 premiums skyrocketed, consumers became more willing to enroll in these more affordable, lesser-known plans.

    California Leads The Pack

    In the Golden State, which fully embraced all things Affordable Care Act, competition remained stable with 11 insurers offering coverage and only one — UnitedHealth — dropped out completely. And 2017’s average premium increases, while about 13 percent, were about half of the national average.

    Part of California’s success, Weinberg said, is due to its hands-on approach in deciding which insurers may join the market. And it got involved in negotiating the price of plans, which helped keep a lid on premiums, compared to other states.

    This story is part of a partnership that includes NPR and Kaiser Health News. 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.

    The post What made the ACA succeed in some states? Hint: it’s not politics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Senior White House Advisor Stephen Miller waits to go on the air in the White House Briefing Room in Washington, U.S., February 12, 2017.  REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTSYA17

    Senior White House Advisor Stephen Miller waits to go on the air in the White House Briefing Room in Washington, U.S., February 12, 2017. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    PALM BEACH, Fla. — A top White House aide renewed support for President Donald Trump’s embattled immigration order and praised a surge in deportations Sunday, as the new president faces a new provocation in the form of an apparent missile test by North Korea.

    The White House continues to weigh its options following a legal blow last week to Trump’s immigration order suspending the nation’s refugee program and barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

    Stephen Miller, Trump’s chief policy adviser and one of the architects of the order, maintained in a round of Sunday show interviews that the president has sweeping executive authority when it comes to barring foreigners he deems pose a risk to the country. He said Trump will do “whatever we need to do, consistent with the law, to keep this country safe” and slammed judges who’ve stood in his way.

    “This is a judicial usurpation of the power. It is a violation of judges’ proper roles in litigating disputes. We will fight it,” Miller said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

    As for the administration’s next steps, Miller said that “all options” remain on the table,” including a Supreme Court appeal. Trump said on the plane ride to Florida on Friday that he was considering signing a “brand new order” as early as Monday to try to bypass the legal challenges.

    “As you know, we have multiple options, and we are considering all of them,” Miller said on ABC’s “This Week.”

    The comments come amid an outcry from immigration activists over an “enforcement surge” by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers that officials say is targeting immigrants who are in the country illegally and have criminal records.

    Advocacy groups contend the government has rounded up large numbers of people as part of stepped-up enforcement. The agency calls the effort no different from enforcement actions carried out in the past.

    [Watch Video]

    But Trump and Miller appeared eager to take credit for the action.

    “The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!” Trump tweeted.

    Added Miller on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “We’re going to focus on public safety and saving American lives and we will not apologize.”

    In the meantime, Miller insisted it wasn’t up to him to say whether the president retains confidence in national security adviser Michael Flynn, who has come under scrutiny for his contact with the Russians before Trump’s inauguration.

    Miller repeated in several interviews that the White House hadn’t given him anything specific to say about Flynn during his appearances on the Sunday news shows. Miller called a report that Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions in calls with Russia’s ambassador while President Barack Obama was still in office “a sensitive matter” best answered by Trump, Vice President Mike Pence or chief of staff Reince Priebus.

    Trump has spent the weekend in Florida at his sprawling Mar-a-Lago estate, holding meetings, making calls, golfing and hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

    For most of Saturday, Trump and the Japanese prime minister played golf under the Florida sun to get to know one another and show the world the U.S.-Japan alliance remained strong. A surprise provocation by the North Koreans provided a more significant example of cooperation.

    After North Korea reportedly launched a ballistic missile, the two leaders appeared for hastily prepared statements in a ballroom of Trump’s south Florida estate late Saturday. Abe spoke first and longest.

    “North Korea’s most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable,” Abe said through a translator. He added that the North must comply fully with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, but also noted that Trump had assured him that the U.S. supported Japan.

    “President Trump and I myself completely share the view that we are going to promote further cooperation between the two nations. And also we are going to further reinforce our alliance,” he said.

    Trump followed Abe with even fewer words, saying in part: “I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent.” With that, they left the room.

    Miller said on ABC that the joint appearance marked “an important show of solidarity between the United States and Japan.”

    “Last night, what you saw was the president of the United States sending a powerful and unmistakable signal to North Korea and the entire world as he stood shoulder to shoulder with the prime minister of Japan and declared our steadfast and unwavering support of the alliance,” he added on “Fox News Sunday.”

    Trump is to remain in Florida through Sunday evening and is scheduled to meet with his pick for treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and his longtime friend-turned-Republican National Committee finance chair Steve Wynn, before heading back to Washington.

    The post White House defends travel ban as provocations mount appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GermantownCommons

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    By Saskia de Melker and Melanie Saltzman

    SASKIA DE MELKER: This is the regular dinner scene at Saettedammen, a co-housing community 45 minutes outside Denmark’s capital of Copenhagen.

    Stig Brinck, an architect, and his wife, an artist, and the teenage daughters they’ve raised here, are responsible for tonight’s meal…for themselves and 20 neighbors in the common house.

    STIG BRINCK: We eat together four times a week, for those who want to participate.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: What’s it like cooking for 25 people? How do you do that?

    STIG BRINCK: First of all, we have a kitchen that’s capable for it. So we have the tools to do it. That’s very important.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Communal meals are a staple at Saettedammen, where 71 people live in 28 houses clustered around shared recreational and outdoor spaces — walkways, gardens, and parking — and a common house. Residents are expected to clean shared areas and take turns tending the grounds. Everyone shares resources like laundry facilities, outdoor tools, and play equipment. Small groups of families rotate leading monthly community meetings.

    STIG BRINCK: You live in kind of a small, small village. You know everybody around you, and you share as much as possible. So you are very close neighbors, and you are kind of depending on each other, but you’re not obligated to any strict rules.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: The Saettedammen community is made up of a range of singles, couples, retirees, and families with children. Every family has privacy in a home with its own bedrooms, baths, and kitchen.

    The land is cooperatively owned, but residents own their homes — a structure similar to a condominium association in the U-S. The cost of homes here is comparable to other homes in the area, but an average sized household pays about $3,500 dollars a year for communal resources.

    Saettedammen started 46 years ago and is recognized as the first cohousing community in the world. Britta Bjerre and her husband, Arne, were among the first families to move in.

    BRITTA BJERRE: We didn’t want our family to spend our lives in an insular way in a house on a suburban street somewhere. And one day we saw a newspaper ad saying that some people had their eyes on a plot of land, and they were looking for twenty-five to thirty families to buy it and build houses as well as a communal house.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Lisa Berkman, a professor of public policy and epidemiology at Harvard University says that cohousing harkens back to the kinds of communities that used to naturally dominate our societies.

    LISA BERKMAN: You know, when you think about the apartment buildings that were designed at the turn of the century, they were designed as two-family houses or three-family houses, each on a floor. And those enabled multi-generation households to live together and still have their own housing.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Berkman says that cohousing can reduce social isolation and the detrimental health effects associated with it.

    LISA BERKMAN: Social isolation relates to the number of ties and the quality of relationships that you have: religious ties, community ties, work ties. People who are very isolated, who are disconnected, have a mortality rate that’s about three times as high That is, they’re about three times as likely to die over maybe a decade, as people who have many, many more ties.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: 70-year-old Jytte Helle has lived in Saettedammen for 30 years.


    JYTTE HELLE:
    It’s important to me to be with a mixed group, not only with other older people, because then we would just talk about our diseases and aches and pains. Older people can’t give the same energy as younger people can.

    STIG BRINCK: So having neighbors and knowing their kids, I think that’s // just like it’s a benefit of having a big family.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Is this replacing the idea of the extended family?

    STIG BRINCK: Indeed it is. I see it very much as the extended family.

    ELLA POULSEN: It’s like nice to have a friend nearby always that you can talk to.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: 14-year old Ella Poulsen has lived in Saettedammen her whole life.

    ELLA POULSEN: It’s kind of like everyone’s a parent, and everybody will take care of the kid if there’s something wrong and the parents aren’t there. I think it’s just very safe.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: It’s estimated that at least 1 percent of the Danish population lives in cohousing arrangements. In the United States, the Cohousing Association of America estimates there are about 150 communities.

    Rocky Hill Cohousing in Northampton, Massachusetts was established 12 years ago. It has 28 households with residents ranging from age 2 to 80. With a similar financial model to Saettedammen, Rocky Hill has a variety of common spaces, resources, activities, and shared chores.

    CAROL RINEHART: I love knowing that somebody’s out there plowing the path on a snowy morning. That’s lovely, knowing that there are mixed ages of people who can help with keeping the place up, and we have our jobs divided.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Carol Rinehart is 72-years-old and just retired from her job as a hospice coordinator. She’s lived at Rocky Hill since its formation.

    CAROL RINEHART: You don’t get up some day in the morning and say, “You know, I think this is the day I’m going to have a community.” You know, you build a community.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: The number of Americans 65 and older is expected to nearly double by 2050. According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent say they would prefer to stay in their homes even when they can no longer take care of themselves.That’s compared to 17 percent who would opt for an assisted living facility. Just 8 percent would prefer to move in with a family member.

    Harvard Professor Lisa Berkman says cohousing allows people to age in their homes.

    LISA BERKMAN: With the aging of the population and the increasing frailty that people will experience as they age, at some point everybody needs a little help. Americans are particularly vulnerable to social isolation in part because we value independence so much, and because we’re so mobile. And we live in a very, very big country.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Berkman says that while older Americans are especially vulnerable to social isolation, young families often struggle to maintain social networks as they juggle work and family.

    College professor Gary Felder lives at the Rocky Hill cohousing community with his wife and their two young children. He says their social life is built in, unlike other families who don’t live in a cohousing arrangement.

    GARY FELDER: You’ve got to arrange babysitting, you need to figure out the timing, and then you’ve got to rush back and so on. And that was just never a big deal for us. We would put our kids down, we would throw in a baby monitor and we would go spend an evening with our friends. Every week.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Cause you’re right next door, to the common house?

    GARY FELDER: Yeah, absolutely. And if one of our kids woke up, two minutes later we were in the bedroom.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Felder admits that this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and about one family a year decides to leave.

    GARY FELDER: The biggest challenge is that you’re making decisions with 27 other households. That is the definition of hell for some people.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: But Felder says that for his family the benefits they get from an intergenerational community outweigh the difficulties.

    GARY FELDER: The other thing which our kids get, which is even more rare in this society, is they have regular interactions with elders, with seniors. They’re very aware of the whole process of people getting older and retiring and having physical problems and dying.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Rocky Hill residents are coming up with new guidelines to help aging community members, including ride sharing and connecting residents with financial and medical services.

    CAROL RINEHART: Could we even make a space here in the common house for somebody who lives and is a licensed practical nurse and taking care of several different families who may be in that area of need.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: At the Saettedammen community in Denmark, maintaining an intergenerational community is getting harder. More than half of the residents are now over 65. The community is encouraging younger families to move in when homes become available. Many long time residents, like Jytte Helle, don’t want to leave their social support network.

    JYTTE HELLE: We’ve been a part of creating this, and want to feel the benefits that come with getting old in a cohousing community like this.

    SASKIA DE MELKER: Do you think there is something about this community, does it keep you younger?

    JYTTE HELLE: Yes. Definitely. I’m convinced that If I lived exclusively with elderly people, I would degenerate. So the fact that I’m living with younger people is a gift on a daily basis.

    The post Cohousing communities help prevent social isolation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with county sheriffs at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 7, 2017.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTX300T2

    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with county sheriffs at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 7, 2017. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Despite tough talk on sanctuary cities from the Trump administration, many sheriffs still fear that they lack the legal right to hold prisoners for possible deportation, even at the request of federal authorities.

    Sheriffs, who operate 85 percent of local jails, are still waiting for courts to clarify the legality of “detainers,” or federal requests to hold prisoners for possible deportation.

    President Donald Trump signed an executive order Jan. 25 promising to punish any “sanctuary jurisdictions” that “attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States.” The order threatened cuts to federal funding and public shaming of “any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers.”

    But the new administration in Washington hasn’t altered the legal landscape — at least not yet. Court rulings over the past several years have dissuaded even red-state sheriffs from honoring detainers, fearing that doing so would make them vulnerable to civil rights lawsuits.

    “Sheriffs want to participate but we need to know our legal standing on this. We’ve been asking for this for years,” said Sheriff Leon Wilmot of Yuma County, Arizona. Wilmot said he spoke to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly about the issue Monday on behalf of the National Sheriffs’ Association, which represents more than 3,000 sheriffs.

    Wilmot said sheriffs need a definitive ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. Sheriff Michael Bouchard of Oakland County, Michigan, said larger counties have the same concerns and want a court ruling, action by Congress, or an agreement that federal immigration agents will seek a judge’s signature on detainers to make them more legally acceptable.

    Last year, a U.S. District Court in Illinois ruled that the detainers are illegal because they exceed the government’s authority to hold prisoners without a warrant. That followed a 2014 U.S. District Court order holding an Oregon county liable for damages after denying bail to a woman based on a detainer.

    Liability Seen in Court Rulings

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, generally issues a detainer request after receiving information about the arrest of an immigrant. The agency asks the local jail to hold the prisoner for up to 48 hours longer than it normally would to investigate the immigrant for possible deportation.

    When considering whether to deport prisoners under Obama administration policies, ICE focused on those deemed to “pose a threat to public safety” because of gang activity or felony convictions unrelated to immigration status. Trump’s executive order expands that focus to include any criminal activity, fraud or abuse of public benefits, or failure to obey a court order to leave the country.

    Local authorities in 43 states refused to honor more than 16,000 detainer requests from ICE from October 2013 to December 2015. Only in Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Vermont and Wyoming did local officials honor all requests, and detainers are relatively rare in those states.

    “We just don’t feel we can legally hold people without something from a judge. This is a problem for sheriffs across the country,” said Sheriff Tim Morse of Jackson County, Kansas.

    But some sheriffs say they think they already have the legal authority to detain immigrants for federal authorities. Sheriff Richard Jones of Butler County, Ohio, said he disagrees with fellow sheriffs who won’t honor detainers, though he is sympathetic to their position. The issue was hotly debated at the sheriffs’ association’s winter conference this month, Jones said.

    “Every jurisdiction looks at it differently,” said Jones, who views failing to honor detainers a violation of federal laws requiring cooperation with the federal government. “I feel we have the authority to detain.”

    Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, which wants to restrict immigration, agreed with Jones.

    “There are a few [sheriffs] who have been sued who want a Supreme Court ruling.” Vaughan said. “Most don’t have any legal problem with it.”

    Jones said he supports a proposal in Ohio that would criminalize cities or counties that adopt sanctuary policies. It also would enable crime victims to sue local officials if an unauthorized immigrant is released despite a federal detainer request. Similar legislation has been proposed in Colorado and could be introduced by lawmakers in Alaska and Maine.

    States Also Cracking Down

    Other states are gearing up to create their own bans on “sanctuary” policies that could ensnare sheriffs trying to walk the line between liability and cooperation.

    In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has vowed to withhold state funding from Travis County (Austin), which announced limited compliance with detainers. Texas lawmakers are considering a bill that would force local jails to cooperate with immigration authorities. A similar bill is pending in Iowa.

    A bill in California takes the opposite tack. It would forbid local jails from holding prisoners for deportation.

    Vaughan of the immigration center said a compromise may be possible if federal immigration authorities use an “administrative warrant” signed by supervisors because warrants signed by judges often are hard to get.

    “There are no judges that would issue those routinely, and demanding them is another way of obstructing,” Vaughan said.

    Sheriffs ‘Like a Ping Pong Ball’

    Mark Fleming, an attorney with the National Immigrant Justice Center who represented plaintiffs in a lawsuit that struck down detainers in the Illinois court case, said he’s not sure administrative warrants would satisfy the judge’s ruling.

    “I do feel for these sheriffs. They’re like a ping pong ball caught in the middle of all this,” Fleming said. The judge in the Illinois case struck down all detainers as illegal, but the decision has not taken effect yet. The court gave the new administration in Washington time to decide whether to appeal.

    Fleming’s lawsuit was brought on behalf of two people who were arrested and mistakenly detained at the federal government’s request, although one is a U.S. citizen and the other holds a green card.

    Generally speaking, the sheriffs’ group supports Trump’s immigration policies. Greg Champagne, the group’s president, has applauded the president’s executive orders on immigration, saying they’ll help with the “burden associated with criminal illegal immigration and the subsequent impact on our communities.”

    Trump invited sheriffs to a “listening session” Tuesday at the White House, and heard nothing but praise from the group.

    “You’re about the rule of law. We haven’t seen that in many years,” said Sheriff Sam Page of Rockingham County, North Carolina. “You’ve got support from sheriffs around the country,” Page said.

    Police chiefs who operate jails have the same liability concerns, said Darrel Stephens, director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. Many will not honor the detainers without a warrant signed by a judge.

    “A good many jails and even states have said that they will not honor the detainer requests without a warrant,” Stephens said. “This is not an unreasonable request and certainly doesn’t mean they’re unwilling to cooperate. They just want to ensure they are operating within the law,” Stephens said.

    This story was produced by Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts. You can read the original story here.

    The post Sheriffs still looking for clarity on deportation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Last week a Fort Worth, Texas jury convicted a legal permanent resident from Mexico of illegally casting ballots in five elections going back to 2004.

    Rosa Maria Ortega, 37, who holds a green card and is married with four children, was sentenced to eight years in prison and could face deportation after serving her time.

    Ortega’s defense attorney, Clark Birdsall, said President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in last year’s elections were the “800-pound gorilla” in the jury box.

    Associated Press reporter Paul Weber, who spoke with NewsHour Weekend’s Hari Sreenivasan on Sunday, said Ortega had lived in the U.S. “basically since she was an infant” and her decisions to cast ballots over several elections were mistakes.

    Elections experts told Weber during his reporting that “they can’t recall a penalty this harsh” because of voter fraud, he told Sreenivasan.

    “Keep in mind that election fraud is very rare and convictions are even rarer,” Weber said. “Most people who are convicted of election fraud typically receive sentences such as probation.”

    You can watch Weber’s full interview with the NewsHour Weekend’s Hari Sreenivasan in the player above.

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    A Swiss flag is pictured in front of the Federal Palace (Bundeshaus) is pictured in Bern, Switzerland, January 16, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse - RTSXFTB

    A Swiss flag is pictured in front of the Federal Palace (Bundeshaus) is pictured in Bern, Switzerland, January 16, 2017. Photo by Denis Balibouse/Reuters

    BERLIN — As voters in Switzerland are deciding Sunday whether to make it easier for “third-generation foreigners” to get the country’s citizenship, here’s a glance at how other countries across Europe are handling citizenship and birthright issues for immigrants of the first, second or third generation.

    Different from the United States, where every child born on American soil automatically becomes an American citizen regardless of his or her parents’ nationality, being born in Switzerland doesn’t mean automatically mean becoming Swiss, a situation echoed in a few other European nations.

    Germany

    Children of parents with foreign passports receive German citizenship at birth if one parent has lived in Germany for at least eight years and has unlimited residency status. The children also get to keep their parents’ citizenship. At age 21, they are supposed to choose one of the two nationalities. However, the obligation to give away one passport has in recent years been watered down by new regulations and there are a lot of exceptions to the rule meaning more and more children of foreign parents continue to keep their dual citizenships after their 21st birthday.

    United Kingdom

    A child born in the United Kingdom is automatically a British citizen only if one parent is a citizen of, or settled in, the U.K.

    A U.K.-born child without a parent who fits the bill can become a British citizen later — either if they live in Britain till they are 10; or if either parent becomes legally settled in Britain.

    Italy

    Those born in Italy can ask, when they turn 18, to become an Italian citizen if they have continued to live in Italy since birth. The request must be formally made before the 19th birthday. It’s usually a straightforward process for these young people.

    France

    All children born in France of foreign parents automatically gain French citizenship at the age of 18, if they live in France and have lived here for five years since the age of 11.

    Greece

    In Greece there is no birthright citizenship. So if a child of foreign parents is born here, it doesn’t give them the right to Greek citizenship.

    Czech Republic

    Birthright citizenship is only given to foreign children born in the Czech Republic if the parents are considered stateless or if one of the parents has a residency permit for a period longer than 90 days.

    Spain

    Citizenship is automatically granted to children born in Spain who have at least one Spanish parent. If neither parent is a Spanish citizen, children born in Spain to legal residents can obtain citizenship after one year.

    Associated Press writers across Europe contributed reporting.

    The post A glance at birthright citizenship regulations across Europe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn walks down the White House colonnade on the way to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump's joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017.  REUTERS/Jim Bourg - RTX30IOV

    White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn walks down the White House colonnade on the way to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump’s joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 10, 2017. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

    PALM BEACH, Fla. — A top White House aide sidestepped repeated chances Sunday to publicly defend embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn following reports that he engaged in conversations with a Russian diplomat about U.S. sanctions before Trump’s inauguration.

    The uncertainty comes as Trump is dealing with North Korea’s apparent first missile launch of the year and his presidency, along with visits this week from the leaders of Israel and Canada.

    Trump has yet to comment on the allegations against Flynn, and a top aide dispatched to represent the administration on the Sunday news shows skirted questions on the topic, saying it was not his place to weigh in on the “sensitive matter.”

    Pressed repeatedly, top policy adviser Stephen Miller said it wasn’t up to him to say whether the president retains confidence in Flynn.

    “It’s not for me to tell you what’s in the president’s mind,” he said on NBC. “That’s a question for the president.”

    The White House said in an anonymous statement Friday the president had full confidence in Flynn. But officials have been mum since then amid fallout from reports that Flynn addressed U.S. sanctions against Russia in a phone call late last year. The report, which first appeared in The Washington Post, contradicted both Flynn’s previous denials, as well as those made by Vice President Mike Pence in a televised interview.

    Trump has been discussing the situation with associates, according to a person who spoke with him recently. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

    New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie, who led Trump’s transition planning before the election, said Flynn would have to explain his conflicting statements about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

    “Gen. Flynn has said up to this point that he had not said anything like that to the Russian ambassador. I think now he’s saying that he doesn’t remember whether he did or not,” Christie said on CNN. “So, that’s a conversation he is going to need to have with the president and the vice president to clear that up, so that the White House can make sure that they are completely accurate about what went on.”

    The comments came as the White House continues to weigh its options following a legal blow last week to Trump’s immigration order suspending the nation’s refugee program and barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

    Miller, who was one of the architects of the order, maintained in a round of Sunday show interviews that the president has sweeping executive authority when it comes to barring foreigners he deems pose a risk to the country. He said Trump will do “whatever we need to do, consistent with the law, to keep this country safe” and slammed judges who’ve stood in his way.

    “This is a judicial usurpation of the power. It is a violation of judges’ proper roles in litigating disputes. We will fight it,” Miller said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

    As for the administration’s next steps, Miller said that “all options” remain on the table,” including a Supreme Court appeal. Trump said on the plane ride to Florida on Friday that he was considering signing a “brand new order” as early as Monday to try to bypass the legal challenges.

    “As you know, we have multiple options, and we are considering all of them,” Miller said on ABC’s “This Week.”

    The comments come amid an outcry from immigration activists over an “enforcement surge” by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers that officials say is targeting immigrants who are in the country illegally and have criminal records.

    Advocacy groups contend the government has rounded up large numbers of people as part of stepped-up enforcement. The agency calls the effort no different from enforcement actions carried out in the past.

    But Trump and Miller appeared eager to take credit for the action.

    “The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!” Trump tweeted.

    Added Miller on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “We’re going to focus on public safety and saving American lives and we will not apologize.”.

    Trump has spent the weekend in Florida at his sprawling Mar-a-Lago estate, holding meetings, making calls, golfing and hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

    For most of Saturday, Trump and the Japanese prime minister played golf under the Florida sun to get to know one another and show the world the U.S.-Japan alliance remained strong. A surprise provocation by the North Koreans provided a more significant example of cooperation.

    After North Korea reportedly launched a ballistic missile, the two leaders appeared for hastily prepared statements in a ballroom of Trump’s south Florida estate late Saturday. Abe spoke first and longest.

    “North Korea’s most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable,” Abe said through a translator. He added that the North must comply fully with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, but also noted that Trump had assured him that the U.S. supported Japan.

    “President Trump and I myself completely share the view that we are going to promote further cooperation between the two nations. And also we are going to further reinforce our alliance,” he said.

    Trump followed Abe with even fewer words, saying in part: “I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent.” With that, they left the room.

    Miller said on ABC that the joint appearance marked “an important show of solidarity between the United States and Japan.”

    White House Correspondent Julie Pace contributed to this report from Washington.

    The post White House declines to publicly defend embattled Flynn appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speak at a press conference Jan. 26 during the 2017 GOP Retreat in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. GOP lawmakers are divided over whether to repeal the levies the Affordable Care Act imposed to finance its expanded coverage for millions of Americans. Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speak at a press conference Jan. 26 during the 2017 GOP Retreat in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. GOP lawmakers are divided over whether to repeal the levies the Affordable Care Act imposed to finance its expanded coverage for millions of Americans. Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

    WASHINGTON — Republicans love cutting taxes, especially if they were authored by a president named Barack Obama. But as they push their wobbly effort to erase his health care overhaul, they’re divided over whether to repeal the levies the law imposed to finance its expanded coverage for millions of Americans.

    It’s a trillion-dollar dilemma — actually closer to $1.1 trillion. That’s the 10-year price tag the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office puts on revenue the government would lose if the law’s taxes on wealthy people, the insurance and pharmaceutical industries and others were eliminated.

    Republicans and President Donald Trump have been edging away from their promise to quickly eliminate Obama’s entire law. Still, annulling its taxes would be a partial victory and is irresistible for many GOP lawmakers and the conservative voters at the core of their support.

    “We should do full repeal,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a leading House conservative. “And full repeal means not taking the taxes” from people.

    READ MORE: If Obamacare is being repealed, do the uninsured need to pay tax penalties?

    Yet voiding those levies erases a mammoth war chest Republicans would love to have — and may well need — as they try replacing Obama’s law. It’s a major rift GOP leaders face as they try crafting a health care package that can pass Congress.

    “These are sources of revenue you just can’t discount,” said Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., a member of the Tuesday Group of GOP pragmatists. He said the money could help “create a soft landing and coverage for those who currently rely on Obamacare.”

    Republicans know they’ll need tons of cash, whatever they devise. The figure is currently unknown.

    “Whatever we do in replacement is going to cost some money, and is there a way to generate money if we ditch all the Obamacare tax revenues or not? That’s where we haven’t achieved consensus,” said No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas, who supports erasing the levies.

    Killing the taxes leads Republicans to other tough decisions.

    If the taxes are repealed and Republicans need money for their replacement plan, do they pay for it with higher federal deficits? Do they deeply cut Medicaid, which provides health care for low-income people, or carve savings from Medicare, which serves the elderly? Might they raise other taxes, something that’s been anathema to the GOP for decades?

    “There’s going to be a temptation for policymakers to take the easy way out” and simply let deficits rise, said Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. She said for Republicans promising for decades to improve the nation’s fiscal health, that choice “is going to look hypocritical.”

    READ MORE: What made the ACA succeed in some states? Hint: it’s not politics

    The GOP has different options for preserving revenues, like phasing in repeals of taxes or eliminating some while retaining others. Participants say Obama’s taxes on medical device makers and on insurance and pharmaceutical companies seem among the likeliest to go.

    Still, with solid Democratic opposition a certainty, GOP leaders such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., face pressure to find a tax sweet spot without enraging part of their party or threatening the entire effort.

    Last summer, Ryan offered a campaign proposal with scant detail to replace Obama’s law with tax credits, expanded health savings accounts and other steps. It would repeal all of the statute’s tax increases.

    It also proposed new taxes on the part of employer-provided health insurance that exceeds an unspecified level. The blueprint says it would affect “only the most generous plans.”

    Such coverage is currently not taxed, and supporters say the idea would prod companies and workers away from overly costly insurance. Its fate is uncertain.

    Besides financing their replacement programs, Republicans will need additional billions to deliver on their pledge to not abruptly halt coverage for the 20 million people receiving it under Obama’s law. That means covering them during a transition period of perhaps two years or more until new GOP programs begin.

    The health insurance industry has warned it will need billions in federal payments that companies currently receive to continue during that transition. The money subsidizes out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and copays for millions of lower-earning customers.

    Last year, a federal judge agreed with House Republicans that Obama’s law didn’t authorize that spending. If the Trump administration and congressional Republicans declare victory and halt those payments, that could force companies to boost rates or abandon markets.

    That’s an outcome Republicans want to avoid, so Congress may be asked to provide some of that money.

    “We could be asked to take a very, very tough vote to stabilize the insurance market,” said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, who heads a House health subcommittee.

    “They’re in a hell of a bind,” said Joseph Antos, health policy expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

    The post GOP must decide what to do with health law taxes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Police vehicles idle on the outskirts of the opposition camp against the Dakota Access oil pipeline on Feb. 8 near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. A judge will hear arguments Monday in a legal challenge to the pipeline. Photo by REUTERS/Terray Sylvester.

    Police vehicles idle on the outskirts of the opposition camp against the Dakota Access oil pipeline on Feb. 8 near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. A judge will hear arguments Monday in a legal challenge to the pipeline. Photo by REUTERS/Terray Sylvester.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge in Washington, D.C., is hearing arguments on whether to stop work on the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline until a legal battle with American Indian tribes is resolved.

    Developer Energy Transfer Partners last week received final approval from the Army to lay pipe under the Missouri River in North Dakota — the final chunk of construction for the 1,200-mile pipeline to move North Dakota oil to Illinois.

    READ MORE: Tribe files legal challenge as construction of Dakota Access pipeline continues

    The Cheyenne River Sioux filed a legal challenge to the easement Thursday in federal court in Washington, D.C.

    A spokesperson for Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, said in a statement last week that construction continued again immediately after the Army granted the final easement last Tuesday to complete the project.

    READ MORE: Army Corps grants final permit to finish construction of Dakota Access pipeline

    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.

    U.S. District Judge James Boasberg is to hear arguments this afternoon on whether the construction of the pipeline should be stopped while the lawsuit plays out.

    The post Judge to hear arguments on Dakota Access pipeline work appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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