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

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    In one of the final scenes of "Moonlight," actors Trevante Rhodes and Andre Holland sit at a diner. Credit: Photo by David Bornfriend, courtesy of A24

    In one of the final scenes of “Moonlight,” actors Trevante Rhodes, who plays “Black,” and Andre Holland. who plays “Kevin,” sit and talk at a diner after not seeing each other for years. Credit: Photo by David Bornfriend, courtesy of A24

    Raoul Peck, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary, “I Am Not Your Negro,” says whenever he thinks about all of the films made this year, he always comes back to a final scene from “Moonlight.”

    “Moonlight,” which is nominated for best picture in the Oscars award ceremony next weekend, follows a boy who grows up black, gay and poor in Miami in the 1980s. As a child, he is called “Little,” as a teenager, “Chiron,” and as an adult, “Black.” It is the portrayal of these adult years, and the moment Black reconnects with his childhood friend Kevin, that impressed Peck. In his words, here’s why.

    Note: His words have been slightly edited for clarity.

    “I see all sorts of film, because I always find something that I can use, whether it’s because I say: ‘I will never do that,’ or something I feel that the director has succeeded in doing.

    Filmmaker Raoul Peck. Credit: LYDIE/SIPA

    Filmmaker Raoul Peck. Credit: LYDIE/SIPA

    A good example is ‘Moonlight’ … in particular what the main actor [Trevante Rhodes] does at the end of the movie. I have never seen something like this in a movie, whether it’s a classic movie, a French movie, or an American movie. What he did without words to tell another man how much he loves him, and what it meant to him, [is incredible]. The last scene, where he is saying: ‘Nobody else has touched me since that time you touched me the first time.’

    The guy [Black] is a bully. You think he’s a gangster. He’s probably a gangster in the movie. [Yet he’s able] to show such a tenderness. And it was not a tenderness about homosexual love, it was really a human tenderness that I’ve rarely seen on film …

    Sometimes in a whole film it can be one scene that changes the destiny of a movie. I think that is the richness of ‘Moonlight’ for me. It’s not the whole film, but this particular scene which is incredible, and a director succeeds in those probably once or twice in his life.”

    Watch the scene that leads up to Black’s exchange with Kevin in the player below.

    [Watch Video]

    Watch NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Brown’s full interview with Raoul Peck, and his piece on “Moonlight,” here.

    The post Raoul Peck on why this scene from ‘Moonlight’ is one of the best he’s seen in film appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    British retiree Peter Harrison, 74, and his wife Anne, who have been living in Spain for 9 years, watch the television as they drink a cup of tea in their mobile home at Saydo Park in the outskirts of Mollina, southern Spain, May 18, 2016. REUTERS/Jon Nazca - RTX2EXEH

    Richard Eisenberg of Next Avenue has advice for boomers desperate to unload family heirlooms. Photo by Jon Nazca/Reuters

    Editor’s Note: Next Avenue columnist Richard Eisenberg has advice for boomers desperate to unload family heirlooms. You can read the original post here.


    After my father died at 94 in September, leaving my sister and me to empty his one-bedroom, independent-living New Jersey apartment, we learned the hard truth that others in their 50s and 60s need to know: Nobody wants the prized possessions of your parents — not even you or your kids.

    Admittedly, that’s an exaggeration. But it’s not far off, due to changing tastes and homes. I’ll explain why and what you can do as a result, shortly.

    The stuff of nightmares

    So please forgive the morbidity, but if you’re lucky enough to still have one or more parents or stepparents alive, it would be wise to start figuring out what you’ll do with their furniture, china, crystal, flatware, jewelry, artwork and tchotchkes when the mournful time comes. (I wish I had. My sister and I, forced to act quickly to avoid owing an extra months’ rent on our dad’s apartment, hired a hauler to cart away nearly everything we didn’t want or wouldn’t be donating, some of which he said he’d give to charity.)

    Nobody wants the prized possessions of your parents — not even you or your kids.

    Many boomers and Gen X’ers charged with disposing the family heirlooms, it seems, are unprepared for the reality and unwilling to face it.

    “It’s the biggest challenge our members have and it’s getting worse,” says Mary Kay Buysse, executive director of the National Association of Senior Move Managers.

    “At least a half dozen times a year, families come to me and say: ‘What do we do with all this stuff?’” says financial adviser Holly Kylen of Kylen Financials in Lititz, Pennslyvania. The answer: lots of luck.

    Heirloom today, foregone tomorrow

    Dining room tables and chairs, end tables and armoires (“brown” pieces) have become furniture non grata. Antiques are antiquated. “Old mahogany stuff from my great aunt’s house is basically worthless,” says Chris Fultz, co-owner of Nova Liquidation, in Luray, Virginia.

    On PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow,” prices for certain types of period furniture have dropped so much that some episode reruns note current, lower estimated appraisals.

    READ MORE: Column: Broke baby boomers, it’s time to face reality

    And if you’re thinking your grown children will gladly accept your parents’ items, if only for sentimental reasons, you’re likely in for an unpleasant surprise.

    “Young couples starting out don’t want the same things people used to have,” says Susan Devaney, president of National Association of Senior Move Managers and owner of The Mavins Group, a senior move manager in Westfield, New Jersey. “They’re not picking out formal china patterns anymore. I have three sons. They don’t want anything of mine. I totally get it.”

    The Ikea generation

    Buysse agrees. “This is an Ikea and Target generation. They live minimally, much more so than the boomers. They don’t have the emotional connection to things that earlier generations did,” she notes. “And they’re more mobile. So they don’t want a lot of heavy stuff dragging down a move across country for a new opportunity.”

    “This is an Ikea and Target generation. They live minimally, much more so than the boomers.”

    And you can pretty much forget about interesting your grown kids in the books that lined their grandparents’ shelves for decades. If you’re lucky, you might find buyers for some books by throwing a garage sale, or you could offer to donate them to your public library — if the books are in good condition.

    Most antiques dealers (if you can even find one!) and auction houses have little appetite for your parents’ stuff either. That’s because their customers generally aren’t interested. Carol Eppel, an antique dealer and director of the Minnesota Antiques Dealers Association in Stillwater, Minnesota, says her customers are far more intrigued by Fisher Price toy people and Arby’s glasses with cartoon figures than sideboards and credenzas.

    Even charities like Salvation Army and Goodwill frequently reject donations of home furnishings, I can sadly say from personal experience.

    Midcentury, yes; Depression-era, no

    A few kinds of home furnishings and possessions can still attract interest from buyers and collectors though. For instance, Midcentury Modern furniture — think Eames chairs and Knoll tables — is pretty trendy. And “very high-end pieces of furniture, good jewelry, good artwork and good Oriental rugs — I can generally help find a buyer for those,” says Eppel.

    “The problem most of us have,” Eppel adds, “is our parents bought things that were mass-produced. They don’t hold value and are so out of style. I don’t think you’ll ever find a good place to liquidate them.”

    Getting liquid with a liquidator

    Unless, that is, you find a business like Nova Liquidation, which calls itself “the fastest way to cash in and clean out your estate” in the metropolitan areas of Washington, D.C., and Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia. Rather than holding an estate sale, Nova performs a “buyout” — someone from the firm shows up, makes an assessment, writes a check and takes everything away (including the trash), generally within two days.

    READ MORE: America’s boomers and undocumented immigrants need each other

    If a client has a spectacular piece of art, Fultz says, his company brokers it through an auction house. Otherwise, Nova takes to its retail shop anything the company thinks it can sell and discounts the price continuously (perhaps down to 75 percent off) as needed. Nova also donates some items.

    Another possibility: Hiring a senior move manager (even if the job isn’t exactly a “move”). In a Next Avenue article about these pros, Leah Ingram said most National Association of Senior Move Managers members charge an hourly rate ($40 to $100 an hour isn’t unusual) and a typical move costs between $2,500 and $3,000. Other senior move managers specializing in selling items at estate sales get paid through sales commissions of 35 percent or so.

    “Most of the people in our business do a free consultation, so we can see what services are needed,” says Devaney.

    8 tips for home unfurnishing

    What else can you do to avoid finding yourself forlorn in your late parents’ home, broken up about the breakfront that’s going begging? Some suggestions:

    1. Start mobilizing while your parents are around. “Every single person, if their parents are still alive, needs to go back and collect the stories of their stuff,” says Kylen. “That will help sell the stuff.” Or it might help you decide to hold onto it. One of Kylen’s clients inherited a set of beautiful gold-trimmed teacups, saucers and plates. Her mother had told her she’d received them as a gift from the DuPonts because she had nursed for the legendary wealthy family. Turns out, the plates were made for the DuPonts. The client decided to keep them due to the fantastic story.
    2. Give yourself plenty of time to find takers, if you can. “We tell people: The longer you have to sell something, the more money you’re going to make,” says Fultz. Of course, this could mean cluttering up your basement, attic or living room with tables, lamps and the like until you finally locate interested parties.
    3. Do an online search to see whether there’s a market for your parents’ art, furniture, china or crystal. If there is, see if an auction house might be interested in trying to sell things for you on consignment. “It’s a little bit of a wing and a prayer,” says Buysse. That’s true. But you might get lucky. I did. My sister and I were pleasantly surprised — no, flabbergasted — when the auctioneer we hired sold our parents’ enormous, turn-of-the-20th-century portrait of an unknown woman by an obscure painter to a Florida art dealer for a tidy sum. (We expected to get a dim sum, if anything.) Apparently, the Newcomb-Macklin frame was part of the attraction. Go figure. Our parents’ tabletop marble bust went bust at the auction, however, and now sits in my den, owing to the kindness of my wife.
    1. Get the jewelry appraised. It’s possible that a necklace, ring or brooch has value and could be sold.
    2. Look for a nearby consignment shop that might take some items. Or, perhaps, a liquidation firm.
    3. See if someone locally could use what you inherited. “My dad had some tools that looked interesting. I live in Amish country and a farmer gave me $25 for them,” says Kylen. She also picked out five shelters and gave them a list of all the kitchen items she wound up with. “By the fifth one, everything was gone. That kind of thing makes your heart feel good,” Kylen says.
    4. Download the free “Rightsizing and Relocation Guide” from the National Association of Senior Move Managers. This helpful booklet is on the group’s site.
    5. But perhaps the best advice is: Prepare for disappointment. “For the first time in history of the world, two generations are downsizing simultaneously,” says Buysse, talking about the boomers’ parents (sometimes, the final downsizing) and the boomers themselves. “I have a 90-year-old parent who wants to give me stuff, or if she passes away, my siblings and I will have to clean up the house. And my siblings and I are 60 to 70, and we’re downsizing.”

    This, it seems, is 21st century life — and death. “I don’t think there is a future” for the possessions of our parents’ generation, says Eppel. “It’s a different world.”

    The post Column: Need to unload family heirlooms? Prepare for disappointment appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks with the media Feb. 17 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Photo by REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein .

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks with the media Feb. 17 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Photo by REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein .

    WASHINGTON — Republicans will repeal and replace the health care law and overhaul the tax code without Democratic help or votes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday.

    “It’s clear that in the early months it’s going to be a Republicans-only exercise,” the Kentucky senator said at a news conference before lawmakers left for a weeklong President’s Day recess. “We don’t expect any Democratic cooperation on the replacement of Obamacare, we don’t expect any Democratic cooperation on tax reform.”

    READ MORE: House GOP documents outline plan to replace Obamacare

    McConnell has condemned Democrats for passing Obamacare in the first place, in 2010, without any Republican votes, claiming the partisan exercise set the law up to fail. “The mess to come was inevitable,” McConnell wrote in his memoir last year.

    But now he’s promising the same approach himself, in a sign that the partisanship and polarization dividing the country and Congress under President Donald Trump will not end anytime soon.

    “Clearly this is not one of those bipartisan ‘Kumbaya’ moments, and so we, as Republicans, expect that both of those issues will be — which are very big issues — will have to be tackled Republican-only,” McConnell said.

    A strictly partisan approach on major legislation is a departure in the Senate, where most significant bills require involvement by both parties. Republicans plan to use a parliamentary maneuver to get health care and tax legislation through the narrowly divided Senate as part of a budget bill that requires only a simple majority to pass and can’t be blocked by Democrats.

    But McConnell said the polarization in Congress is Democrats’ fault because they haven’t come to terms with the fact that Trump won the election.

    “I’m hopeful that, as I said earlier, when the fever breaks, that maybe we’ll be able to move on,” said McConnell, in a turn of phrase that former President Barack Obama sometimes used to express hope that opposition from the tea party right might recede, which it never did.

    READ MORE: Trump administration ushers in changes to Obama health law

    McConnell made his comments as the Senate confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. It was the 14th Senate vote to approve Cabinet and Cabinet-level nominations by Trump, most of them pushed through on nearly party-line votes over angry Democratic protests.

    “It is the worst Cabinet, I think, in the history of America, certainly in my lifetime,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York fumed ahead of the vote. “A swamp Cabinet, billionaires, bankers.”

    But Democrats have been able to do little to stop the confirmations, though they have slowed the process to a crawl, and one Trump nominee, Andy Puzder, withdrew himself from contention for labor secretary, an outcome Democrats claimed as a victory.

    Democrats may be similarly powerless to stop Republicans from repealing and replacing Obama’s health care law and overhauling the tax code, but on those issues, divisions within the GOP already threaten to derail the process. Key Senate Republicans have rejected the House GOP approach to paying for the tax overhaul, while important details are missing that could easily derail the House GOP health care plan, such as how much it will cost.

    READ MORE: House GOP struggles for consensus on replacing health law

    Overall, with the White House distracted and lurching from one crisis to another, Republicans lament they have little to show for their efforts at a point when Obama had already claimed major legislative accomplishments as his administration ended its first month.

    “We’re three weeks into a new administration, and we’re not getting a hell of a lot done,” Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, said earlier this week.

    The post McConnell intends to replace ‘Obamacare’ without Democrats appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Dick Bruna at work in his studio in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Image: Wikimedia Commons

    Dick Bruna at work in his studio in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Image: Wikimedia Commons

    Dutch artist and author Dick Bruna, whose simply drawn little white rabbit turned into an international best-seller, died peacefully in his sleep Thursday in the central Dutch city of Utrecht. He was 89.

    His Dutch publisher, Mercis, made the announcement Friday.

    Bruna was born into a family of Dutch publishers in 1927 and that’s where he began his career as an illustrator. He created book covers for Ian Fleming’s James Bond series and the Inspector Maigret thrillers by Georges Simonen.

    Miffy the rabbit. Photo via  free use on Wikipedia.

    Miffy the rabbit. Photo via free use on Wikipedia.

    Bruna’s bunny, known as Nijntje in Dutch and Miffy in English, first came to life 62 years ago, as a way for Bruna to entertain his young son on vacation. Miffy became the central character in 32 books, winning adoration from not only children but also adult art lovers. The Miffy books have sold more than 85 million copies and were translated into more than 50 languages.

    Bruna also chose to publish his books in a square format.

    Miffy and books featuring other Bruna characters were translated into more than 50 languages. Image: Flickr user Lollyman

    Miffy and books featuring other Bruna characters were translated into more than 50 languages. Image: Flickr user Lollyman

    “He thought that size was really good for two little children’s hands, and he loved the visual impact, too,” longtime friend Marja Kerkhof told the Associated Press in a telephone interview.

    Kerkhof said the simple design of all his characters – pigs, bears, clowns – is what makes his books stand out on the shelf. Bruna stuck to a simple color palette and limited his Miffy books to 12 pages each.

    “He goes to the essence of things. Even today, if you see it in the store you would think, ‘hey this looks different to a lot of other things out there.’ There is no clutter, it’s all very clear,” Kerkhof said.

    Miffy and her fellow characters aren’t just in books; fridge magnets, lamps, telephones, school backpacks, pencils and many more items are branded with Bruna’s creations.

    Miffy the movie was released in 2013. The rabbit also starred in a television show called “Miffy and Friends.”

    All told, the Bruna empire of characters earns more than $180 million annually with more than 10,000 products created by the 250 Miffy licensees around the world.

    Miffy fashioned into a lamp. The book character is emblazoned on many items, from magnets to pencils to car air fresheners. Image: Flickr user Sharon VanderKaay.

    Miffy fashioned into a lamp. The book character is emblazoned on many items, from magnets to pencils to car air fresheners. Image: Flickr user Sharon VanderKaay.

    The post Dutch creator of Miffy the rabbit, Dick Bruna, dies at 89 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Donald Trump talks to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos during a meeting with teachers and parents Feb.14 at the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

    U.S. President Donald Trump talks to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos during a meeting with teachers and parents Feb.14 at the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

    WASHINGTON — LGBT employees have asked Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to commit to safeguarding anti-discrimination regulations amid fears that the Trump administration may weaken those protections.

    In the email, obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, staffers at the Education Department urged the new secretary to issue a statement confirming her commitment to Title IX rules, which prohibit discrimination based on sex in educational programs.

    READ MORE: LGBT health advocates fear backlash under Trump

    “At a time when students and individuals across the nation are being targeted with overtly discriminatory treatment, our nation needs you to remind and empower students about their right to equal access to education,” the staffers wrote.

    The email was sent Wednesday by a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Education Department employees and their supporters.

    “We look forward to partnering with you in this very important work and hope that as a ‘door open type of person,’ you will open your office to hear from both your LGBTQ staff and the LGBTQ families our Department serves,” the employees wrote.

    The Education Department did not provide immediate comment.

    The move follows a decision by President Donald Trump’s Justice Department to withdraw a motion in the ongoing lawsuit over bathroom rights for transgender students in public schools. LGBT advocates said they see the move as a signal the administration will not protect transgender rights.

    READ MORE: Parents of transgender students appeal to Trump on bathrooms

    The letter comes as DeVos establishes herself at the agency after a bruising confirmation battle. DeVos, a wealthy Republican operative and champion of charter and private schools, was confirmed for the job by the narrowest possible margin earlier this month amid fierce opposition from labor unions who said she was hostile to public schools.

    Civil rights advocates have expressed concern over DeVos’ stance on discrimination issues, pointing to her support of anti-LGBT groups. During her confirmation hearing DeVos vowed to protect the interests of all students and said she strongly condemns all forms of discrimination.

    WATCH: How Betsy DeVos could shape national education policy

    The post LGBT employees ask Education Secretary to keep protections appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Donald Trump speaks Feb. 17 at the Boeing South Carolina facility in North Charleston, South Carolina. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque .

    President Donald Trump speaks Feb. 17 at the Boeing South Carolina facility in North Charleston, South Carolina. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque .

    WASHINGTON — Presidents since Franklin Delano Roosevelt have loved to tour Boeing factories. The lessons they draw from their time on the factory floor — and the inevitable photo opportunity beside shiny new airplanes — can differ wildly.

    President Donald Trump on Friday touted the latest Boeing 787 Dreamliner as proof of a coming American manufacturing renaissance. He toured the South Carolina facility and hailed it as a sign of steps toward generating more U.S factory jobs.

    Nearly five years ago, President Barack Obama made a similar visit to the facility in Everett, Washington. His message: America needs to prepare for the loss of factory jobs to automation and retool its economy.

    The contrast speaks to the fundamental difference between Trump and Obama’s economic policies. Where Trump promises a return to a brawny America full of factory jobs, Obama sought to increase exports and manufacturing output to help support job creation elsewhere in the services sector.

    Trump blames factory job losses on cheap foreign labor and trade pacts. His speech at the Boeing plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, never once touched on the increasing role of robots on assembly lines. It glossed over Boeing’s own statement that 30 percent of the parts for the 787 fleet come from foreign factories.

    WATCH LIVE: Trump talks jobs in visit to SC Boeing plant

    “Our goal as a nation must be to rely less on imports and more on products made here in the USA,” Trump said. “We’re going to fight for every last American job.”

    He proudly referenced the evolution of airplanes as proof of U.S. competitiveness. The Wright brothers invented a small wooden plane that first flew in 1903, Trump said, a far cry from the use of carbon fiber in the newest 787, which has room for 330 passengers.

    The threat to U.S. workers comes not from advanced technology but from factories that have moved manufacturing overseas, Trump said — something he pledged to stop, saying, “There will be a very substantial penalty to be paid.”

    WATCH: Trump says Boeing deal for Air Force One is too expensive

    Obama, too, highlighted the advancements of the 787 when speaking at a Boeing factory in 2012. But what he saw was new technology and computers making companies more efficient, allowing them to rely on fewer workers and set up shop almost anywhere with an internet connection.

    “The hard truth is a lot of those jobs aren’t going to come back because of these increased efficiencies,” Obama said from the factory floor. “We can’t bring every job back. Anybody who says we can, they’re not telling you the truth.”

    The key, Obama said, was to increase the manufacturing output of high-quality products and sell those goods abroad, something that would require fewer workers than in the past. But the profits from a stronger manufacturing sector would have a spillover effect and create jobs at restaurants, stores and other parts of the economy.

    The prospect of more retail jobs did little to inspire voters in November, who turned to Trump even though Obama delivered job gains of 11.5 million during his eight years in office.

    But the Boeing 787 being celebrated by Trump also helps to validate Obama’s description of changes in U.S. manufacturing. Subcontractors that contribute parts to the fleet of planes include firms in Japan, South Korea, France, Canada, Turkey, Australia and China, according to a report by aviation consultant Teal Group.

    “Jet makers are basically looking for best technology,” Teal consultant Richard Aboulafia said. “In the case of low-tech parts, they’re looking for lower cost, but the strong majority of components come from high-skill, high-wage countries.”

    ___

    AP airlines writer David Koenig contributed to this report.

    The post Trump’s Boeing speech shows differences with Obama appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, smiles last October prior to the Vice Presidential Debate in Farmville, Virginia. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

    Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, smiles last October prior to the Vice Presidential Debate in Farmville, Virginia. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

    WASHINGTON — Karen Pence wants people to know that art therapy isn’t exactly arts and crafts.

    The wife of Vice President Mike Pence has been a passionate advocate of art therapy for many years, including during her service as first lady of Indiana. Now, she hopes to use her new and loftier public profile to raise awareness of the mental health profession and help change the public’s perceptions about what art therapists actually do.

    “They can do things that help the patient have a little more control,” Mrs. Pence told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.

    Art therapists use art, the creative process and the artwork patients create to help them explore feelings, resolve emotional conflicts, manage behavior and addictions, reduce anxiety and boost self-esteem, among other benefits, according to the American Art Therapy Association. A main goal is to improve or restore a patient’s functioning and sense of personal well-being.

    WATCH: Combat Paper: Veterans Repurpose Uniforms Into Art

    Mrs. Pence, an artist whose specialty is painting watercolors of homes and historical buildings, plans to observe European art therapy programs when she accompanies her husband to Germany and Belgium on Friday, his first overseas trip since taking office on Jan. 20. She is scheduled to speak with art therapists in Munich and visit an art therapy program in Brussels.

    As Indiana’s first lady from January 2013 until last month, Mrs. Pence visited art therapy programs across the state, as well as in Israel, Canada, Japan and Germany.

    The field is growing, but is not well understood, she said. The American Art Therapy Association says it represents more than 5,000 professional art therapists and others related to the profession.

    Young Syrian student painting a flower on the walls of her refugee school in southern Turkey. Mural Art was one of the art therapy classes provided during a four-day education program sponsored by the U.S.-based Karam Foundation in Reyhanli, Turkey. Photo courtesy of Karam Foundation

    Young Syrian student painting a flower on the walls of her refugee school in southern Turkey. Mural Art was one of the art therapy classes provided during a four-day education program sponsored by the U.S.-based Karam Foundation in Reyhanli, Turkey. Photo courtesy of Karam Foundation

    “One thing I can bring to this as second lady is making people aware of what art therapy is and how it works,” Mrs. Pence said. “It’s not arts and crafts.”

    Donna Betts, the art therapy association’s president, said the organization values “any interest in increasing public awareness about the art therapy.”

    Mrs. Pence, a former elementary school teacher, said she was first exposed to art therapy during a visit to a Washington hospital more than a decade ago. Her husband represented Indiana in Congress, and the Pences lived in Washington during his six terms in the House before he was elected his governor.

    She has a master’s degree in art education, but learned that art therapy “wasn’t even something that I would be qualified to do.”

    Mrs. Pence said art therapy usually is not paid for by insurers, but she doesn’t think it’s her place to use her new platform to try to encourage them to provide coverage.

    “I don’t really see my role as policy maker or policy changer,” she said. “I just want to make people aware of what art therapy is.”

    She has served on the board of Tracy’s Kids, an art therapy program for youth cancer patients, since 2011. The organization recently honored her with its Courage Award.

    As for the return to Washington, Mrs. Pence said it’s been a “pretty smooth transition since we lived in Washington for 12 years.”

    “We have friends, we have places we like to frequent and we know the neighborhood” around the vice president’s official residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington. “We’re familiar with Washington. It kind of just feels like we’re coming back.”

    The post VP Pence’s wife aims to raise awareness about art therapy appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman shouts slogans during a protest against the policies of U.S. President Donald Trump in New York City, U.S., February 17, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RTSZ7UC

    Watch Video

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Public opinion polls show we live in a deeply divided country, particularly when it comes to politics. It’s been four months since the election, and just a few weeks into the new Trump administration. So how are voters responding?

    The NewsHour’s William Brangham is just back from a reporting trip to Texas. He’s here with me now.

    So, what exactly did you set out to do?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: We wanted to talk to voters on both sides of the political spectrum.

    So, we were in Texas. We went to two very different places. And I asked people basically four or five, six questions, identical questions in both places. And, as you will see, it’s as if voters are living in two completely different worlds.

    Let’s take a look.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Bellville, Texas, is a small rural town an hour’s drive from Houston. Its streets are lined with single-family homes and locally owned shops.

    But a recently-renamed restaurant in town has become something of an attraction, the Trump Cafe.

    So, you changed the name to Trump Cafe two weeks before the election?

    SUE HAWA, Owner, Trump Cafe: Before, yes, sir.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And what if Trump hadn’t won the election?

    SUE HAWA: We don’t — you know, actually, we pray for God to he wins. I’m so glad he win. I’m so glad, you know?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So if Hillary Clinton had won, would this be Clinton Cafe?

    SUE HAWA: No, I will move back home.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Sue Hawa owns the place with her husband. Trump memorabilia is everywhere. The big seller on the menu is the Trump Burger, onion rings, barbecue sauce, bacon, topped with an American flag.

    As you might imagine, the Trump Cafe is full of Trump supporters; 80 percent of the county here voted for the president.

    How was election night for you?

    PHIL OXLEY, Texas: Oh, it was great. Man, I was on cloud nine. I was a Trump guy from day one.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Is that right? Day one?

    PHIL OXLEY: Yes, from day one. Soon as he said it, I was like, we need something other than a politician.

    JOYCE KNOLLE, Texas: I was so excited when he won, because I just believed in everything that he says. And we were so ready for a change, and he listened to the people.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A hundred miles west, and a political world apart, is Austin, the state capital, a liberal outpost in this red state.

    We visited what is perhaps Austin’s version of the Trump Cafe, the Bouldin Creek Cafe, a vegetarian place in South Austin. Two-thirds of the county here voted for Hillary Clinton.

    Chesley Allen is the general manager.

    CHESLEY ALLEN, Bouldin Creek Cafe: It’s kind of the nexus, or the heart of what people think of when they think of Austin as the offbeat, funky, keep Austin weird, that sort of thing.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s where we are?

    CHESLEY ALLEN: That’s where you are.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The day after President Trump’s inauguration, the cafe donated profits to the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Planned Parenthood.

    ISHRAT KUNDAWALA, Texas: Because I’m pretty sure that I fit almost every demographic that’s going to be ruined by this administration, and I feel like I have to speak out.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What was election night like for you?

    ISHRAT KUNDAWALA: Brutal, devastating, heartbreaking.

    KRYSTLE PAPIC, Texas: If I were to have a nightmare that night, then my nightmare would be a reality, because I definitely didn’t want Trump to win.

    DYLAN STONECIPHER, Texas: My big fear with him is that he is coming out fast and hard with a lot of big stuff, but I really, truly believe that he is just trying to tire out his opposition.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: To spend a few hours in these two places, talking to people on either side of the political divide, is to see just how deep the chasm is in our politics.

    What have you made of his Cabinet picks so far?

    NEVILLE REMMERT: I love every one of them.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Every one of them?

    NEVILLE REMMERT: I love Betsy DeVos. I love her. I hope she does something about education. I love Sessions, Jeff Sessions. He is not a racist. It’s just ridiculous.

    ISHRAT KUNDAWALA: I don’t know how he could’ve picked more unqualified people to run things like the Education Department, or Rick Perry for Energy. It’s a direct mirror of how much money — how much of a role money plays in politics.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The politics of the team running the White House, including Steve Bannon, former chairman of Breitbart News, has been a source of controversy.

    There’s been a lot of questions raised recently about Steve Bannon. What is your…

    NEVILLE REMMERT:  I love Steve Bannon. I think he’s great. He says what he says, means what he says. And that’s why they don’t like him. People who are just namby-pamby little me, me, they don’t like people who are outspoken.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You have any thoughts on Steve Bannon?

    PHILLIP: Yes. He’s the devil incarnate.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The devil incarnate?

    PHILLIP: Yes, he got the man elected. And so I guess he got a payback, so he made himself an adviser. But everything he stands for, I do not.

    MICHELLE: I have a lot of Muslim friends, and friends who are also people of color, and so it’s just very disturbing to me how it could have progressed to such a state.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Patrons of these restaurants are also split on the news they trust.

    What are your three or four main sources of news?

    ISHRAT KUNDAWALA: I would say The Guardian, CNN, and, ironically — I, ironically, like PBS and NPR. So, I listen to NPR every morning.

    PHIL OXLEY: I think it’s great that he’s on Twitter, because now we know what he is thinking every day.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: No filter there.

    PHIL OXLEY: Yes, there’s no filter.

    DON BOYLE, Texas: It’s pretty much a bet that a mainline journalist is going to be not a conservative, be more in the school of being progressive and everything.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Where are the main sources of — when you want to find out what is going on?

    NEVILLE REMMERT: FOX.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: FOX News.

    NEVILLE REMMERT: I will not look at CNN. I get ill.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Straight-up FOX News viewer.

    NEVILLE REMMERT: Yes.

    MAN: I’ll tell you what I did. I have a brother that watches FOX News constantly. And it’s on 24 hours a day, I think, at his house. They came here to Austin to visit me over Christmas, and the room he was staying in has a TV. And on the cable box, I blocked that station.

    PHIL OXLEY: I have a sister who can’t stand the guy, and we still talk, but I try not to talk politics with her.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, she’s still your sister, though?

    PHIL OXLEY: Yes, she’s still my sister. She’s always going to be my sister.

    WOMAN: We just don’t discuss it.

    (LAUGHTER)

    WOMAN: We don’t get into politics.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You know each other’s views, and you don’t talk about it?

    WOMAN: Yes. I respect their views and I don’t — we just don’t talk politics.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The couple who runs the Trump Cafe say there’s a reason they’re open to all diners. Their own story seems to cross political divides.

    So you’re a Palestinian Muslim couple that owns a cafe in Texas named the Trump Cafe. You understand how some people might think, that sounds like a bizarre combination.

    SUE HAWA: I like my president. Actually, I like him because he’s a businessman. He know how to do business, you know? And, actually, what he is trying to do, it’s excellent.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Now, do you let Democrats eat here?

    SUE HAWA: You know, welcome to — yes, you know, welcome to everyone like to come inside my restaurant.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Right.

    SUE HAWA: My door open for everybody, you know, Republican, Democratic, same, you know.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m William Brangham.

    The post Between this vegetarian cafe and a ‘Trump’ cafe in Texas, a political chasm appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Finally: An actor at the heart of the Oscars-so-white controversy takes on a new role based on a true story set in colonial Africa.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story from Los Angeles.

    It’s part of our occasional series Beyond the Red Carpet.

    DAVID OYELOWO, Actor: I’m not asking for an answer this very second. All I ask of you is that you go away and think about it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In 1947 London, Seretse Khama, played by David Oyelowo, proposes to Ruth Williams, played by actress Rosamund Pike.

    ROSAMUND PIKE, Actress: I know what you’re asking. Yes. Yes. Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Their races make the relationship fraught. But there’s more: He is a prince in his tribe in Southern Africa expected to return to lead his people, and their marriage will have international consequences.

    “A United Kingdom” is based on a true story, and it was Oyelowo who first learned of it in a book titled “Color Bar” by Susan Williams. More than just the film’s star, he was the producer who brought director Amma Asante and others into the project.

    DAVID OYELOWO: What was indisputable to me was the power of the love between these two people, and it was that very thing that helped them overcome so many of these insurmountable obstacles and odds that they faced.

    And, you know, as someone who is a real believer in love myself, and I mean, love in the truest sense, not movie love. I’m talking about the unglamorous stuff of sacrifice, of courage.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I must say this film has movie love, because it’s love at first sight almost, right?

    DAVID OYELOWO: But, you see, the thing about that is that we even have a name for it, the meet-cute. You know, we have turned it into something that is so fantastical and so inaccessible that it has become fairy tale-like.

    But, actually, what can happen — it doesn’t happen every day, admittedly — is that two people see beyond their race, see beyond their cultural differences and their national differences. And they just — two souls meet.

    We should be fighting for equality. That is where we should be focusing our minds, not on the wife I have chosen, who means you no harm.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The historical characters, Khama and Williams, become caught up in colonial-era politics, as Britain tries to hold onto the land that will later become Botswana, while maintaining close ties to the neighboring apartheid regime of South Africa.

    DAVID OYELOWO: It is unacceptable that they use their power to keep us voiceless.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Oyelowo is best known for his portrayal of another historical figure, Martin Luther King in the film “Selma.”

    And he starred in a recent film based on a true story set in a slum in Uganda, the “Queen of Katwe.” Born in England, Oyelowo spent ages 6 through 13 in Nigeria, before returning and eventually becoming a classically trained stage actor. He was the first black actor to play an English king for the Royal Shakespeare Company. He recently returned to Shakespeare, this time on Broadway, in “Othello.”

    I asked what made him want to take on a role.

    DAVID OYELOWO: It’s got to resonate for me, but, also, I want to make things that are synonymous with who I am as a man and how I’m bringing up my children, you know, what it is I believe in, because this is a very powerful medium, culturally, politically, familially. It can shape people’s thoughts.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I think of this film and I think of “Selma” and “Queen of Katwe,” right, clearly films that have a kind of larger context to them, right, a history.

    DAVID OYELOWO: Yes, I think that is also a key and is crucial to me.

    You used the word context there. Something that is very important to me is contextualizing what it is to be someone who looks like me on planet Earth. And by that, I mean a black man. And I have lived on three continents as a black man, and there are differences.

    There are complexities and dimensions to being someone like me in all of those places that are rarely, in my opinion, seen on film and television.

    JEFFREY BROWN: To the extent that you don’t see you that much in the film world, that has limited the roles that you can get?

    DAVID OYELOWO: It hasn’t because I have chosen to do something about it. You know, I produced “A United Kingdom,” and I’m pretty sure that’s probably the only way this film would have got made.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Do it yourself.

    DAVID OYELOWO: Yes, do it yourself, and because I’m very passionate about seeing a story like this told. And passion is what makes you roll up your sleeves and get it done. And passion, I think, can be contagious.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I read that, early on, you asked your agent to go after roles that might have been written for white actors, to put your for them.

    DAVID OYELOWO: Yes.

    Again, like the producing, it was born out of necessity. When I looked at my white contemporaries or the white actors ahead of me, as a young actor back then, there was complexity that made me see myself in them, even though they were white people living a very different life to mine. I was able to identify with what they were going through emotionally.

    And I couldn’t identify necessarily with what black characters I saw in films and TV were going through, because it was one-dimensional, at best two-dimensional.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Oyelowo was directly caught up in the 2015 Oscars-so-white controversy when his critically-acclaimed performance in “Selma” failed to receive an Oscar nomination, and neither did any other actor of color.

    You said in an interview, “There’s resistance to films with black protagonists, especially if they can’t have Denzel Washington in the lead role.”

    DAVID OYELOWO: Right. That must be qualified with me saying, he is one of my heroes, and I will go anywhere to see him.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: As would I. That’s not to denigrate him. He’s a great actor.

    DAVID OYELOWO: Absolutely.

    But, yes, there is a reason why there’s isn’t a plethora of other black actors that you could reel off the tip of your tongue who — in that space that he occupies, which is that he can play anything. He’s not tied to race as the prerequisite for why he gets to be the protagonist in a film.

    And the resistance is — I think is purely to do with the decision-makers, you know? They want to see themselves in movies, as we all do. And so what you see in movies is a reflection of those who are making the decision.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But for you, personally, your producer role becomes almost as important, perhaps, as your acting role.

    DAVID OYELOWO: Yes, crucial, in a sense. You know, you can either complain about this stuff, or you can do what you can to change it. And that’s the tack I have chosen.

    JEFFREY BROWN: David Oyelowo, producer and actor, stars in the new film “A United Kingdom” just out in theaters nationwide.

    From Los Angeles, I’m Jeffrey Brown for the PBS NewsHour.

    The post Why actor David Oyelowo made sure this love story became a movie appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: On January 27, the president’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations went into effect, throwing plans to travel to the U.S. into chaos for many people in the Middle East.

    Right afterward, we introduced you to one Iraqi man who had long worked for the American military, whose plans to immigrate here with his family were suddenly canceled.

    Tonight, from Southern California, special correspondent Marcia Biggs brings us this update.

    MARCIA BIGGS: This is the day Abdul Hameed Abdul Ghani and his family have waited years for. They’re driving towards the airport in Irbil, Northern Iraq.

    ABDUL HAMEED ABDUL GHANI, Former U.S. Military Interpreter: I feel like a big burden is off my shoulder, and I can take my family to a place where I can feel safe.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Abdul Hameed and his family are finally coming to the U.S., on special immigrant visas issued to Iraqis who worked for the U.S. military. He spent nine years as an interpreter for the U.S. military, at great personal risk, even finding himself on a kill list back in 2006.

    Yet he still proudly wears the American flag.

    Did you like working with the Americans?

    ABDUL HAMEED ABDUL GHANI: Oh, I loved it. The brotherhood they have, this type of mentality, like we are one team and one fight. They never gave me this impression like, you are not one of us, or you are just an interpreter and you’re going to do your job, and they’re going to leave me behind.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Three weeks ago, with bags packed and having sold everything he owned, he got the news that President Trump’s executive order on immigration meant that the visa he had waited almost six years to get would be canceled.

    ABDUL HAMEED ABDUL GHANI: I really was shocked, like somebody just popped me in the head. I was like, it’s over. All the dreams that I had, everything that I planned has just vanished from my life.

    Even my little kids kept asking me or looking at the TV and he was like, hey, daddy, why is Trump stopping us? Why is this guy stopping us from going to the States? And I had no answer for him.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Because you believed in this brotherhood that you had been a part of for so long?

    ABDUL HAMEED ABDUL GHANI: Exactly. I have had this feeling like someone is going to stand for me.

    And the America that I know is totally different from the decisions that have been made lately by those executive orders. And I was like, this is not America.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Someone did stand up for him. Protests erupted all over the country. And just under a week later, the Pentagon recommended that the ban be amended to allow visa holders who worked for the U.S. military to immigrate. So, once again, the family prepared to travel.

    And half-a-world away, another family is preparing. Sattar Khidhir, one of Abdul Hameed’s best friends, has been living here in San Diego for the last 5.5 years. As a former contractor for the U.S. Air Force, he immigrated on the same type of visa. Abdul Hameed helped him and many others fill out their visa applications.

    MARCIA BIGGS: And he did all of this just out of the kindness of his heart?

    SATTAR KHIDHIR, Former U.S. Military Interpreter: Yes.

    MARCIA BIGGS: He’s a good man.

    SATTAR KHIDHIR: He is a great man.

    MARCIA BIGGS: So, is this an opportunity to give back to him?

    SATTAR KHIDHIR: Yes. I will do whatever it costs to just help him out. I will do my best.

    MARCIA BIGGS: It hasn’t been easy for Sattar, either. He arrived in 2011, and has struggled to find steady work in an area of the country where the cost of living is high.

    SATTAR KHIDHIR: Some people, they don’t know how is life in California. Nice weather, I know. It’s nice weather. But then what are you going to do? You have to search for a job. And there’s no jobs.

    MARCIA BIGGS: And you have told him this? You have been honest with him?

    SATTAR KHIDHIR: Yes. Yes. I told him.

    I told him, Abdul Hameed, I speak five language. You speak barely three language. I can’t find any jobs for me like translating because there is a lot of translators over here.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Abdul Hameed and his family are moving to this suburb of San Diego, which has more Iraqi refugees than anywhere else in the United States. This main street could be in Anytown, USA, yet it’s been nicknamed Little Baghdad.

    In the last five years, over 8,000 Iraqi refugees have been resettled in the greater San Diego area. That’s almost 10 percent of total arrivals nationwide. A local resettlement agency has found Abdul Hameed an apartment, but it’s not ready yet. And the rent is $1,500 a month, almost a quarter of a one-time allowance given to them by the State Department.

    MARCIA BIGGS: So, this is where they will be staying?

    SATTAR KHIDHIR: Yes.

    MARCIA BIGGS: While he waits, Sattar, his wife and two children are making space in their two-bedroom apartment for Abdul Hameed’s family of five.

    MARCIA BIGGS: This is your room?

    SATTAR KHIDHIR: Yes.

    MARCIA BIGGS: And now your whole family’s going to be in here?

    SATTAR KHIDHIR: Yes.

    (LAUGHTER)

    MARCIA BIGGS: It’s going to be tight.

    SATTAR KHIDHIR: Yes, I know that, but we’re going to be fine. This is what I can do. And we will have fun.

    MARCIA BIGGS: You will have fun?

    SATTAR KHIDHIR: Yes.

    MARCIA BIGGS: Back in Iraq, the family sets off on the 24-hour journey to the other side of the world. It’s an emotional departure.

    SAFA HAJI, Abdul Hameed’s Wife (through interpreter): We hope life will be better. We hope our children’s education will be better. But I’m so sad that I won’t be able to see my mother.

    MARCIA BIGGS: And fear is never far from their minds.

    ABDUL HAMEED ABDUL GHANI: I always had this doubt, like, because it happened. It happened like a couple weeks ago. Some people were airborne and they have been stopped from entering into the United States. I absolutely had this fear like maybe something is going to pop up at the very end of my journey.

    MARCIA BIGGS: It was a nail-biter on this end as well. But, finally, the moment Abdul Hameed says he’d been worried would never happen.

    ABDUL HAMEED ABDUL GHANI: When I first got off from the airport and I looked around to see Sattar and I actually saw him, it’s kind of hard for men to cry, but I actually cried.

    It was an amazing moment. It’s something that I’m not going to forget it in my lifetime. I will never forget that moment.

    MARCIA BIGGS: The morning after, a hectic and happy scene in the kitchen, old friends reunited over the breakfast table, but in a new world.

    ABDUL HAMEED ABDUL GHANI: First thing in the morning, I took a step outside and took a really long breath and looked around. And I told myself, yes, it is true, and I am here in the United States of America.

    MARCIA BIGGS: What do you want for your family in general?

    ABDUL HAMEED ABDUL GHANI: I want a brighter future for my family, especially my Down syndrome kid.

    And what I’m most worried about, if they start talking about this ban again or they start — if anybody starts to make a difference between all of these types of religion, like — or make it hard for Muslims, then I’m going to be suffering.

    MARCIA BIGGS: You’re more worried about discrimination than you are about getting a job and an apartment and …

    ABDUL HAMEED ABDUL GHANI: Yes, I know. I know it’s meant for me to be here. So, I’m kind of worried about getting a job, but I will get a job one day soon, hopefully. Like the Iraqis say, inshallah.

    MARCIA BIGGS: But with the goal of finally reaching this country, the fear began to settle in. With little money and a small dispensation from the government, Abdul Hameed has to make a life for his family.

    ABDUL HAMEED ABDUL GHANI: I know there’s a lot of folks who are coming out here as immigrants and as refugees. So I know the opportunity of getting a job is going to be hard. But I believe in myself and I believe in my destiny. And I think I will be good. I will do my best to be good.

    MARCIA BIGGS: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Marcia Biggs in San Diego, California.

    The post After travel ban uncertainty, friends reunite for a new life in the U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTSW419

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now that Scott Pruitt is in charge of the EPA, we take a look at what to expect from the agency under his leadership with Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian advocacy group. He oversaw President Trump’s EPA transition team and has been a vocal opponent of many of the agency’s policies. And Jeremy Symons of the Environmental Defense Fund, a group strongly opposed to Pruitt’s confirmation.

    All right, Myron, let me start with you.

    You’re someone that thinks that climate science in some ways is alarmist. And we’re not here to debate that tonight. We have you on because you likely have insight into why Scott Pruitt is head of the EPA today.

    So, my first question to you is, is someone who shared your views on climate science, was that one of the preconditions and prerequisites to get this job and make you interested in getting that person the head of the EPA?

    MYRON EBELL, Competitive Enterprise Institute: I wasn’t involved in the personnel decisions of the Trump transition. And I’m not a part of the Trump administration.

    I think that what President Trump was looking for when he nominated Scott Pruitt was someone who would be a really able advocate and implementer of the president’s agenda for the EPA, and I think Scott Pruitt is a great choice.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: This is the first time in the EDF history that you have gone out and opposed the nomination. Why?

    JEREMY SYMONS, Environmental Defense Fund: Well, it’s because Scott Pruitt is so extreme.

    And this fight isn’t over, because when you look at his record of suing the EPA that he’s now going to lead 14 times to undermine clean air and clean water protections, that doesn’t bode well for what he is going to try to do when he gets in.

    Myron got his man, right? At the end of the day, this is about protecting public health. It’s the Environmental Protection Agency. And we have someone at the head now who wants to take the agency backward, instead of forward. And that’s not good for children’s health. It’s not good for protecting the elderly or anyone who is vulnerable to air pollutions, to toxic chemicals or to water pollution like lead.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Myron, you said the president’s positions, and this is what was most important.

    The president on the campaign trail, even on a debate stage said that he would like to cut the EPA down significantly. Why does Scott Pruitt help the president advance that agenda?

    MYRON EBELL: Scott Pruitt has been a very strong advocate for devolving more of the work of the EPA to the states.

    And, in fact, the EPA already has the states doing a lot of its work, but it still has a very large bureaucracy nonetheless. I think Scott Pruitt understands that the EPA can be a lot smaller than it is and we will still have the same levels of environmental protection for clean air and clean water, because the states are already doing the work.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The EPA has shrunk even under President Obama’s term. Can it be even smaller?

    JEREMY SYMONS: Look, we have worked with the Environmental Protection Agency across Republican and Democratic presidents.

    And it’s not an issue of — where we go from here has to be maintaining EPA’s capability and capacity to get the job done. Scott Pruitt, when he took over as attorney general in Oklahoma, he got rid of the environmental enforcement division.

    If he does that for the EPA, that means trouble anywhere in this country from Florida to Ohio. We have to make sure that we remain vigilant and that we hold the senators that voted for him by the narrowest of margins and Scott Pruitt accountable for what he does.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Jeremy Symons, what are the most immediate things that you’re concerned about? What can Scott Pruitt do once he is in the job? He is one individual, it’s a large agency, the rules take time to change.

    JEREMY SYMONS: Well, Myron and the transitions recommended that they cut the EPA by half.

    We’re talking gutting core capacities like enforcement, like science, the health studies that need to happen to make sure that pollution is controlled. We’re worried about enforcement, like what he did in Oklahoma. We’re worried about interfering with science.

    But if you look just at the lawsuits that Scott Pruitt filed to try to roll back things like mercury standards, arguing that mercury isn’t a threat to the unborn — because it is, and science says it is, and quite clearly across many studies.

    If you add all those lawsuits up, if you took away those rules he was attacking, we would see 850,000 more asthma attacks every year. That is unacceptable. So we’re going to be keeping score in terms of, are we moving forward or moving back?

    The Pruitt that we saw in front of the Senate said he cared about EPA’s mission and would move us forward, but his record says otherwise. We’re waiting to see which Pruitt shows up.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Myron, one of the concerns has been Mr. Pruitt’s record. The Competitive Enterprise Institute is in some ways funded by the fossil fuel industry, but Scott Pruitt was a friend to the fossil fuel industry, to put it mildly, in Oklahoma.

    There is a famous incident of him basically copy-pasting an e-mail or a concern from the energy — directly to the EPA. What is he likely to do? Because at the hearings, he said that he understands that it is an incredibly important job, especially when it comes to the role in regulating CO2.

    MYRON EBELL: Jeremy has mentioned these 14 lawsuits.

    I’m proud that my organization, CEI, is a co-plaintiff with Attorney General Scott Pruitt in several of these lawsuits. These are meant to shrink EPA’s overreach, its illegal regulatory overreach.

    I think, when you look at Oklahoma, Oklahoma is a big oil and gas producer. They’re proud of it. They produce the energy that we use. Of course Scott Pruitt supports that industry. It’s Oklahoma’s major industry, and it helps the entire nation.

    So I think, if you look back at what President Trump said in the campaign, he said, I want to get rid of the regulatory rampage that is killing investment and jobs in our resource and manufacturing industries, and I want to make America the world’s energy superpower.

    So I think Scott Pruitt will have a vital role in shrinking that regulatory rampage.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Does his thinking change when it’s just not Oklahoma and a specific industry that he’s protecting as state’s attorney general, but now the entire country that has lots of different sources of energy, but also a much larger constituency?

    MYRON EBELL: Yes, of course.

    But the Trump campaign wasn’t just about Oklahoma or the oil and gas industry. It was about rebuilding our resource and manufacturing industries across the heartland of America. And that is going to require putting EPA regulations back in their place, so that they’re concerned with air and water pollution, and not destroying jobs.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Myron Ebell from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Jeremy Symons from the Environmental Defense Fund, thank you both.

    MYRON EBELL: Thank you.

    JEREMY SYMONS: Thank you.

    The post What EPA’s Scott Pruitt means for environmental policy and regulation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Donald Trump, while a presidential nominee, visited Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto in Mexico City on Aug. 31, 2016. Photo by Henry Romero/Reuters

    Donald Trump, while a presidential nominee, visited Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City on Aug. 31, 2016. Photo by Henry Romero/Reuters

    MEXICO CITY — A visitor to this capital from afar, or another planet, might think President Donald Trump had been elected president of Mexico. Nearly everything he does or says about immigration, a promised border wall or the North American trade arrangement dominates Mexican media. Even on the car radio in a cab stuck in a Mexico City traffic jam, the passenger keeps hearing talk of President Trump.

    But the American president — so focused on how the media reports his presidency — would hardly like the coverage. “El Magnate,” the tycoon, as one newspaper calls him, has been depicted in a newspaper cartoon in a strait jacket; the headline “El Fascistoid Trump,” a play on the word fascist, appears under a magazine cover photo. A recent newspaper poll put his favorability rating in Mexico at 3 percent.

    Beneath the public venting is deep concern in Mexico’s governing class about the future of this country if economic and political relations continue to crumble with its northern neighbor and largest trading partner.

    “He is single-handedly destroying a relationship that has been building for 25 years,” said former diplomat and analyst Andres Rozental.

    READ MORE: White House: Trump comments on Mexico ‘lighthearted

    Like others here, Rozental has been at the center of decades-long efforts to shift Mexico’s once protectionist and inward looking economy towards globalized trading. Key to that change has been normalizing and deepening relationships with the United States, a country many Mexicans traditionally looked at with a mix of anger and suspicion.

    Among Mexicans, it is all but impossible to find any who see an optimistic outcome or light at the end of the tunnel.

    Current developments and the unpredictable future both distress politicians, analysts and academics. They see what one called “a daily hammering” of insults and slights since the U.S. presidential campaign, perhaps culminating in reports that Mr. Trump told Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in a phone call that American troops might be needed to help Mexico combat its drug cartels. (The drug wars, while gaining less attention, still kill thousands of Mexicans every year. The lucrative drug market is among American consumers, and is likely to grow as even more states legalize marijuana, and the so-called “Iron Highway” of weaponry comes from American stores continues south).

    Among Mexicans, it is all but impossible to find any who see an optimistic outcome or light at the end of the tunnel. If anything, they worry about a continued deterioration that could revive recently quiescent Mexican nationalism and lead to the election of a left-wing populist, nationalist president in the 2018 elections. The candidate waving that banner, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has been running ahead in early polls. He’s come close to the presidency before: Nearly winning in 2006, and more than 30 percent against Peña Nieto in a three-way race in 2012. Even among some of the million-plus American expatriates living in Mexico, at least half with no documentation, there is growing worry about local hostility and tit for tat retaliation, such as Mexico could start demanding documentation from the U.S. citizens and retirees living there.

    READ MORE: Mexico’s president cancels visit with Trump

    “Things could easily spin out of control,” warned one analyst.

    Already, there is behind-the-scenes pressure on Peña Nieto to take a tougher stand against the U.S. administration and to realize the futility of trying to smooth Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and actions by quiet diplomacy between Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray Caso and Trump counselor (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner. Those efforts have twice led to what former Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhán labeled as “ambushes,” quiet diplomacy exploded by anti-Mexican Trump tweets or speeches.

    The proposed border wall, much less Mr. Trump’s promise that Mexico will pay for it (be it up front or later), and deportation of undocumented Mexicans from the United States provoke the most emotion (though Mexico acknowledges it deported 143,000 Guatemalans and other Central Americans from its territory last year). But the critical issue for the country’s economic future lies in the future of the two decade-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), so often denounced by Mr. Trump in the campaign.

    More than half a trillion dollars worth in goods and services passes across the border every year. Mexico’s emergence as a manufacturing nation has helped it move closer to middle class status, even if its per capita GDP is barely a fifth of its U.S. and a quarter of its Canadian trading partners. Income inequality is among the world’s highest; and income levels vary between the more prosperous north and the poorer south. Mexico City’s modern and colonial architecture, its buildings in vivid colors, make it among the world’s most visually interesting cities. The country seems hover between first world, with more and more cars and even canine beauty parlors, but struggling with developing world sanitation and water.

    READ MORE: What Trump’s wall means for U.S. relations with Mexico

    Increasingly, there is talk, public and private, that Mexico should be prepared to walk away from NAFTA if the U.S. presents it with a bad set of proposed revisions. Talk of Mexico diversifying its economic and trade relations with China, Europe and Latin American countries such as Argentina and Brazil (the latter in a steep recession) sound a bit illusory when 70 percent of Mexico’s exports are a truck ride away from the world’s largest economy.

    But such decisions are months away as both governments are just starting to prepare their negotiating positions.

    Meanwhile, the embattled President Pena Nieto, whose popularity rating has dropped since Mr. Trump became president, constantly returns to the themes of Mexican dignity and unity. Yet even unity is often hard to come by. Last weekend, there were demonstrations in Mexico City and other urban centers drawing tens of thousand of protesters. But the Mexico City marchers were divided into two groups; one supporting Mexican unity, the second rallying to the cries of anti-Trump and claiming the other rally only served as a cover to support the current government.

    The post Column: Trump wouldn’t like the media coverage in Mexico, either appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence delivers his speech during the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 18, 2017.   REUTERS/Michael Dalder  - RTSZ8IT

    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence delivers his speech during the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 18, 2017. Photo by Michael Dalder/Reuters

    MUNICH — Vice President Mike Pence vowed Saturday that the United States will “hold Russia accountable” even as President Donald Trump searches for new common ground with Moscow at the start of his presidency.

    Pence, in an address to the Munich Security Conference, also offered assurances to European allies that the U.S. “strongly supports” NATO. He said the U.S. would be “unwavering” in its commitment to trans-Atlantic institutions like NATO.

    In his first overseas trip as vice president, Pence sought to calm nervous European allies who remain concerned about Russian aggression and have been alarmed by Trump’s positive statements about Russian President Vladimir Putin. The address to foreign diplomats and security officials also sought to reassure international partners who worry that Trump may pursue isolationist tendencies.

    Pence said the U.S. would demand that Russia honor a 2015 peace deal agreed upon in Minsk, Belarus, to end violence in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed separatists.

    READ NEXT: Pentagon chief says NATO members must boost defense spending

    “Know this: The United States will continue to hold Russia accountable, even as we search for new common ground which as you know President Trump believes can be found,” Pence said.

    Pence met afterward with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who addressed the conference just before the vice president. Merkel stressed the need to maintain international alliances and told the audience, with Pence seated a few feet away, that NATO is “in the American interest.”

    European countries along Russia’s border are rattled by the prospect of deeper U.S.-Russia ties after Trump suggested sanctions imposed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea could be eased in exchange for a nuclear weapons deal, and after the president referred to NATO as “obsolete” in an interview before his inauguration. Trump has since tempered his language, stressing the importance of the NATO alliance during his telephone conversations with foreign leaders.

    Pence also scheduled meetings Saturday with the leaders of the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko — countries dealing with the threat of Russian incursion. Pence also planned to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

    The visit, which includes a stop in Brussels on Sunday and Monday, comes amid worries in Europe about Russian aggression, Trump’s relationship with Putin and whether the new president may promote isolationist tendencies through his “America First” mantra.

    “The vice president has sent reassuring messages through his own engagement but that hasn’t been enough to dispel the concerns that you see in many parts of Europe,” says Jeff Rathke, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “There are such grave challenges that the U.S. and Europe faces that it only heightens the desire for additional clarity from Washington.”

    Pence’s stature within the administration was also under scrutiny because of the recent dismissal of Trump’s national security adviser, retired Gen. Michael Flynn. Flynn was forced to resign Monday following reports he misled Pence about contacts with a Russian diplomat. The vice president learned that he had been misled through media accounts about two weeks after the president was informed.

    Pence is also expected to meet with the leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan, where the U.S. is embroiled in two separate wars. Trump has made clear his intention to defeat the Islamic State group. But he also said the U.S. may get a second chance to take Iraqi oil as compensation for its efforts in the war-torn country, a notion rebuffed by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who will be meeting with the vice president.

    Trump’s immigration and refugee ban has ruffled feathers with a number of Muslim-majority countries affected by the order currently tied up in court, including Iraq — a close ally in the fight against IS.

    In Munich, the American allies were searching for clues from Pence as to how the Trump administration plans to deal with Russia in the aftermath of Flynn’s departure, U.S. inquiries into Russia’s involvement in the presidential election and Trump’s past praise for Putin.

    In his remarks, Pence also reinforced the Trump administration’s message that NATO members must spend more on defense.

    NATO’s 28-member countries committed in 2014 to spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense within a decade. But only the U.S. and four other members of the post-World War II military coalition are meeting the standard, Pence said.

    Failure to meet the commitment, he said, “erodes the very foundation of our alliance.”

    “Let me be clear on this point: The president of the United States expects our allies to keep their word, to fulfill this commitment and, for most, that means the time has come to do more,” Pence said.

    The post In Europe, Pence says U.S. will hold Russia accountable appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Supporters of Gambia President Adama Barrow arrive for his swearing-in ceremony and the Gambia independence day at Independence Stadium, in Bakau, Gambia February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon - RTSZ8NJ

    Supporters of Gambia President Adama Barrow arrive for his swearing-in ceremony and the Gambia independence day at Independence Stadium, in Bakau, Gambia February 18, 2017. Photo by Thierry Gouegnon/Reuters

    BANJUL, Gambia — Thousands gathered Saturday for the ceremony marking the inauguration of Gambia’s new president as this tiny West African nation celebrates wider freedoms after a tense political standoff with its former leader.

    Several heads of state were attending the ceremony for President Adama Barrow. He was sworn into office last month at Gambia’s embassy in neighboring Senegal as former leader Yahya Jammeh refused to cede power.

    International pressure, including the threat of a regional military intervention, led Jammeh to finally accept his December election loss and fly into exile in Equatorial Guinea. Hundreds of thousands of Gambians welcomed Barrow’s return to Gambia days later.

    Barrow, who has just turned 52 and was born the year that Gambia gained independence, has pledged to reverse many of the actions Jammeh took during more than two decades of power. He has committed to stay in the International Criminal Court and rejoin the Commonwealth. He also has vowed to free political prisoners.

    Gambian President Adama Barrow arrives for the swearing-in ceremony and the Gambia's Independence Day at the Independence Stadium, in Bakau, Gambia February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon - RTSZ9IC

    Gambian President Adama Barrow arrives for the swearing-in ceremony and the Gambia’s Independence Day at the Independence Stadium, in Bakau, Gambia February 18, 2017. Photo by Thierry Gouegnon/Reuters

    The international community has quickly warmed to Barrow’s approach, with the European Union recently announcing an $80 million package of support after breaking off assistance amid tensions with Jammeh.

    British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson visited Barrow on Tuesday, saying: “We are here to help.”

    Gambians at Independence Stadium on Saturday cheered Independent Electoral Commission chairman Alieu Momarr Njai, who had to flee to Senegal during the political crisis after standing by the election results.

    Senegal’s President Macky Sall was among the honorary guests at the ceremony protected by troops from the West African bloc, ECOWAS. The regional force has been securing the country during the transition, which has remained peaceful.

    Sall said Gambia and Senegal, a regional power that surrounds the tiny country except for its coast, must strengthen economic and other relations. Many Senegalese live in Gambia.

    “We are the same people, and we remain the same people,” he said.

    The U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, was among the dignitaries expected to attend the ceremony.

    Associated Press writers Babacar Dione in Banjul and Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

    The post Gambia’s new president faces inauguration as nation cheers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Architect Laura Fitch describes cohousing communities as “privacy within your home and community at your doorstep.”

    Cooperative living arrangements have existed across a number of cultures for centuries. But the concept took a new form in Denmark in the early 1970s with the establishment of Sættedammen, a cohousing community in which residents retain a private living space while sharing common facilities like a kitchen, laundry and play area. The people who live there are responsible for cleaning and maintaining shared spaces and plan community activities such as shared dinners.

    Since then, the concept has spread to the U.S. with the creation of dozens of cohousing communities around the country. Fitch first learned about them while studying architecture in Denmark about a decade after Sættedammen was built. Having lived in a cohousing community for more than 20 years, now she designs them for other groups as principal and co-founder of Kraus-Fitch Architects.

    We spoke with her about her personal experience with cohousing, the design considerations that inform her process and how to create a cohousing community.

    How you would describe cohousing to someone who’s never heard of it before? “The design process and the management process are things that actually mix the community together, so that you have to get to know each other in order to make these decisions.” — Architect Laura Fitch

    It’s a concept of community. Everyone wants community in their life, but they tend to want the privacy that we’re used to having within their home. [Cohousing] is very different than any commune or anything from the past, in that it really values independence, but at the same time, cooperation and community. Generally people come together, they sort of self-form around the friends who start the idea and publicized the idea, but typically they are, the future residents are involved in the design process.

    In cohousing you have extensive common facilities, and you control them yourself, you cooperatively manage them. It’s not like the condo association manages them. The design process and the management process are things that actually mix the community together so that you have to get to know each other in order to make these decisions. Once you get to know each other you really value each other. That’s what community is all about.

    Is that why you think some people are drawn to this type of housing?

    Most people have experienced communities in their lives, whether it’s through their dorms when they were in college, or through cooperative households when they were in college, or maybe if they went to summer camp. I think people have had a taste of that, and then once they’re off living on their own and realize how isolated they are, they yearn for that. And they forget that it’s even possible, and then they learn about cohousing and they think ‘Oh wow, this feels familiar, this is great.’ So I think people forget that that’s a possibility, but then when they remember, they wonder why they don’t have it.

    An exterior view of the Mosaic Commons cohousing community in Berlin, Massachusetts. Photo courtesy of Laura Fitch

    An exterior view of the Mosaic Commons cohousing community in Berlin, Massachusetts. Photo courtesy of Laura Fitch

    When did you first become interested in this type of housing?

    I studied in Denmark in 1980, and that was at the beginning of the cohousing movement there. Since I studied architecture the class actually went to a number of cohousing communities to study them, and it looked very familiar and comfortable to me, because I had some good community experience in my past.

    Then I returned and finished architectural school and sort of forgot about it, [but] then a book about cohousing was published in the U.S., and I learned about a group that was forming in my area, and it [was] like, ‘Oh, I know what that is,’ So I joined. We’ve been living in this community now for 23 years.

    What particular considerations do you have in mind when you’re designing a community?

    In an urban situation most [houses] would be attached, and in suburban situations they’d be more spread apart, but I think the most important thing is the space between the houses, or the corridor between the units, or the corridor between the units and the common house. It’s a space where people travel through. When you’re traveling between your car and the common house, or between your car and your unit, and you pass your neighbors, that’s the opportunity for interaction. So the design of the space along the pedestrian way is really important. It has to be a comfortable micro climate. It has to be a place where you can stand and chat, or sit and chat, or even move away from each other if you don’t feel like talking.

    And then the common house itself has to be comfortable for a small group of people, and large groups. So if I want to go down to the common house and get my mail, and just sit quietly and read it, I want a small, cozy place to do that. If I want to have a big birthday party, I want to have a big space that’s easy to clean, and easy to set up. So it has to be very flexible.

    Interior space of the common house at Mosaic Commons in Berlin, MA. Photo courtesy of Laura Fitch

    Interior space of the common house at Mosaic Commons in Berlin, MA. Photo courtesy of Laura Fitch

    How do you begin the process of designing a community?

    Usually a group will contact a cohousing architect like myself fairly early on when maybe they have control of a site, but they don’t necessarily own it yet. And maybe they have half a dozen core members, people who are willing to go through the process, but they’re just starting out.

    If we’re looking at site design we would have a site programming workshop. Usually about 10 people is a good number for that first workshop. We get information about the site, whether it’s rural or urban, and we get a little bit of information about the group, about what their vision is. And then we put together some homework, an online survey, ask a lot of questions about maybe if they want their cars close to the house, or whether they don’t want to see the cars, whether they want accessible units or more like townhouses. It would be different with an urban situation — whether they want their houses attached to the common house, whether they want elevators, we ask a lot of questions.

    And when we get that information back we can then generate an agenda for the [workshop]. We do enough surveying so that we can say, ‘Okay, they already have consensus about the number of units, but they haven’t made up their mind about the parking. They already know they want the common house in the center, but they haven’t made a decision about whether they want flats or townhouses.’ So we can then go in and confirm where there already is consensus, and help them make decisions where there is yet to be consensus.

    The exterior of a cohousing community in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Photo courtesy of Laura Fitch

    The exterior of a cohousing community in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Photo courtesy of Laura Fitch

    What are some common questions people usually have?

    Particularly in an urban community, they will say we want, you know, less than one car per household. In a suburban community they’d say we want two cars per household, and some visitor spaces. People have to make some tough decisions about parking based on the expense of building a parking garage, based on how close transportation is, based on their ecological values. So that’s hard. It’s one thing to do that with one household, it’s another thing to have 10 households make those decisions cooperatively. That’s where I think an experienced cohousing architect can help them, can facilitate really tough decisions like that.

    The [workshop] itself is usually two and a half days long. We come in on a Friday night, give a slideshow about common house designs, and then on Saturday work with them helping them make decisions about parking and things, and then on Sunday we would actually do hands-on design together. So we actually help the group design their community using manipulative blocks, you know, whether it’s little pieces of wood, or little pieces of paper, depending on what we’re designing, to represent units, or spaces. Through this manipulation they can understand designs.

    The exterior of the common house at Mosaic Commons in Berlin, Massachusetts. Photo courtesy of Laura Fitch

    The exterior of the common house at Mosaic Commons in Berlin, Massachusetts. Photo courtesy of Laura Fitch

    What are some misconceptions that you encounter around cohousing?

    That we have way too many meetings. We have meetings, but if you take up knitting it’s not so bad. Or that there’s a lot of conflict. Yeah, of course there’s some conflict, but there’s conflict in suburbia, and if there’s conflict in suburbia you can’t do anything about it. There’s more opportunities to work through the conflict in cohousing than elsewhere.

    This interview has been edited and condensed.

    The post Balancing privacy and community with design in cohousing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A general view of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta in 2014. Photo by Tami Chappell/File Photo/Reuters

    A general view of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta in 2014. Photo by Tami Chappell/File Photo/Reuters

    ATLANTA — Organizers of a conference on public health and climate change urged policy experts and policymakers to mobilize in the wake of a new administration they say has denied the impact, and even the existence, of global warming.

    Three lead organizers behind the Climate & Health Meeting — former Vice President Al Gore, Harvard Global Health Institute’s Dr. Ashish Jha, and the American Public Health Association’s Dr. Georges Benjamin — brought together more than 300 people at the Carter Center in Atlanta for a one-day meeting to replace the three-day conference originally scheduled for this week at the CDC headquarters four miles away. The original meeting was canceled after the presidential election in anticipation of the Trump administration’s unenthusiastic views toward climate change work. But two CDC scientists who played a leading role in the scrapped summit spoke at Thursday’s meeting. So did former President Jimmy Carter.

    “With the possible disapproval of Congress, the CDC has to be a little cautious politically,” said Carter, a longtime advocate for global health issues, as he made unannounced remarks. “The Carter Center doesn’t.”

    The canceled event cast a shadow over the meeting’s intended message — if we don’t slow climate change, infectious disease, metabolic illness, and other maladies will either become more common or will find themselves in new geographies that were once too cold, or perhaps too dry.

    Some researchers discussed how health conditions like heart disease and mental illness have climbed, linking them to global warming. Columbia University public health professor Kim Knowlton said rising temperatures have the potential to increase the number of heat-related hospital visits and deaths in cities like New York. Other experts focused on the global effects of climate change including the recent increase in natural disasters and the spread of infectious diseases.

    READ NEXT: Climate change is speeding up the spread of Lyme disease

    “Walls will not keep these pathogens out,” Jha said to the audience. “No borders are going to protect us. That’s what awaits us unless we act.”

    During his opening remarks, Gore acknowledged that CDC canceled its summit “for reasons we don’t need to go into.”

    Benjamin cut to the point as he urged public health and climate policy experts to act so they would “not be impeded by denial” from skeptics.

    After the CDC canceled its summit in late December, speculation had swirled about whether CDC staffers would be allowed to participate or attend the resurrected meeting. CDC spokesman Bernadette Burden told STAT the agency did not “provide direction to employees about attending the meeting. Some CDC staff may have decided to take personal leave to attend.”

    The CDC staffers who did show up Thursday kept a quiet profile during the meeting. Laura Turner Seydel — an environmentalist who sits on the board of the Turner Foundation, a one of the meeting’s main sponsors — told STAT she believes CDC scientists may be “scared by the wrath of Trump.” He has called climate change a hoax invented by the Chinese.

    Because of that, she worries researchers like George Luber, an epidemiologist who’s participated in the global warming documentary series, Years of Dangerously Living, might be deterred from speaking further about issues of climate and health.

    “George Luber had done a very good job of describing the problem,” Seydel said. “He’s been quiet for the past couple of years as he hangs in there like a loose tooth.”

    Breysse, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, was one of the original CDC summit organizers before agency officials canceled it. He still participated in the rescheduled event — briefly, though, as he introduced a speaker.

    Talking to reporters, Benjamin later conceded some of his peers at the CDC “are afraid” about the potential fallout within the agency. But Benjamin said it wouldn’t stop him from reaching out to them in the future to see if they would help raise awareness with the public about the human costs of global warming.

    “If they’re told they can’t [participate], we’re going to be asking why,” he said. “We’re going to continue to ask that question until we get a satisfactory answer. The answer is simple: Science is above politics. Professionalism is above politics. We need to let people get involved.”

    This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Feb. 16, 2017. Find the original story here.

    The post At a resurrected climate conference, concerns loom that CDC scientists may be silenced appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Donald Trump greets well-wishers upon his arrival in West Palm Bech Florida, U.S. February 17, 2017.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTSZ7L0

    U.S. President Donald Trump greets well-wishers upon his arrival in West Palm Bech Florida, U.S. February 17, 2017. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — After four tumultuous weeks of governing, President Donald Trump is out of the White House doing what he loves best — campaigning.

    Trump will hold a campaign rally at an airport hangar in central Florida on Saturday afternoon. The event in Melbourne comes as he seeks to regain his footing following a series of crises that have threatened his young administration.

    For Trump, the rally offers an opportunity to recapture the energy of his upstart campaign and to connect with his supporters. Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump wants to “speak directly to people across this county in an unfiltered way, in a way that doesn’t have any bias.”

    Trump also plans to meet this weekend with potential candidates to replace ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Trump’s first choice to replace Flynn — retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward — turned down the offer.

    READ NEXT: Flynn told to leave after losing Trump trust, spokesman says

    Trump plans to interview John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster for the job, according to a White House official. The official said both meetings will take place over the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, the president’s private club in Palm Beach.

    Trump tweeted Saturday morning that he “will be having many meetings this weekend at The Southern White House.”

    The president had also expressed interest in former CIA Director David Petraeus, but another White House official said Saturday he was not a finalist for the position.

    The officials were not authorized to discuss the interview process publicly and requested anonymity.

    Petraeus, a retired four-star general, resigned as CIA director in 2012 and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.

    Flynn resigned at Trump’s request Monday after revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the transition. Trump said in a news conference Thursday that he was disappointed by how Flynn had treated Pence, but did not believe Flynn had done anything wrong by having the conversations.

    Trump also continued his rants against the news media Saturday, tweeting: “Don’t believe the main stream (fake news) media. The White House is running VERY WELL. I inherited a MESS and am in the process of fixing it.”

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

    During an appearance Friday at a Boeing plant in South Carolina, Trump slipped back into his campaign’s “America First” message with ease.

    “America is going to start winning again, winning like never ever before,” he said, as the company showed off its new 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft. “We’re not going to let our country be taken advantage of anymore in any way, shape or form.”

    Big rowdy rallies were the hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign. He continued to do them, although with smaller crowds, throughout the early part of the transition, during what he called a “thank you” tour.

    The event Saturday is being put on by Trump’s campaign, rather than the White House. Asked if it was a rally for the 2020 election, Sanders called it “a campaign rally for America.” Trump himself promoted his appearance on Twitter on Friday: “Looking forward to the Florida rally tomorrow. Big crowd expected!”

    Since taking office, Trump has lurched from one problem to the next, including the botched rollout of his immigration order, struggles confirming his Cabinet picks and a near-constant stream of reports about strife within his administration.

    Trump’s reset effort started Thursday with a marathon press conference where he defended his administration and denounced the “criminal” leaks that took down his top national security adviser. He used the platform to complain about the political press and to brag that his administration was a “fine-tuned machine.”

    The post Outside of Washington, Trump slips back into campaign mode appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo via Getty Images

    Treatment gaps still exist between workers at different wage levels. Photo via Getty Images

    Low-wage workers with job-based health insurance were significantly more likely than their higher-income colleagues to wind up in the emergency department or be admitted to the hospital, in particular for conditions that with good primary care shouldn’t result in hospitalization, a new study found.

    At the same time, low-wage workers were much less likely to get preventive care such as mammograms and colonoscopies, even though many of those services are available without cost-sharing under the 2010 health law.

    There’s no single reason for the differences in health care use by workers at different wage levels, said Dr. Bruce Sherman, an assistant clinical professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and the study’s lead author, which was published in the February issue of Health Affairs.

    Finances often play a role. Half of workers with employer-sponsored insurance are enrolled in plans with a deductible of at least $1,000 for single coverage. As deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs continue to rise, low-wage workers may opt to pay the rent and put food on the table rather than keep up-to-date with regular doctor visits and lab work to manage their diabetes, for example.

    Likewise, convenient access to care can be problematic for workers at the lower end of the pay scale.

    “Individuals are penalized if they leave work to seek care,” Sherman said. “So they go after hours and their access to care is limited to urgent care centers or emergency departments.”

    The study examined the 2014 health care claims, wage and other data of nearly 43,000 workers at four self-funded companies that offered coverage through a private health insurance exchange. Workers were stratified into four categories based on annual maximum wages of $30,000, $44,000, $70,000 and more than $70,000.

    Workers in the lowest wage category were three times more likely to visit the emergency department than top earners, and more than four times more likely to have avoidable hospital admissions for conditions such as bacterial pneumonia or urinary tract infections. But they used preventive services only half as often, the study found.

    There are no easy solutions. Varying premiums or deductibles based on workers’ wages could take some of the bite out of low-wage workers’ out-of-pocket costs, but very few employers have adopted that strategy, Sherman said. Offering plans that pay for certain services, such as care related to chronic conditions, before the deductible is met could boost the use of care. But preventive services are available without cost-sharing in most plans and many low-wage workers aren’t getting recommended services.

    “Health literacy concerns are important,” said Sherman, but it may not be the only barrier. “Some focus groups I’ve participated in, employees have said, ‘I understand the services are free, but if an abnormality is found that requires further services, I’ll have to [pay for it]. So because I feel fine, I’m not going to go.’”

    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. Please visit khn.org/columnists to send comments or ideas for future topics for the Insuring Your Health column.

    The post Treatment gaps persist between low- and high-income workers, even with insurance appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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