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

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    All through high school, Dakota Hall wanted to be a coal miner. “Everybody had their dreams about being a basketball player, football player,” he said. “I always just wanted to be a coal miner.”

    For a brief window, he was. But then, in November 2015, Hall was let go from his job in surface mining. For the next year, as the presidential campaign raged on, Hall, 20, lived with his wife and grandparents, working odd jobs to support his family, including his two young children.

    “We’ve never really had much in West Virginia,” Hall said. “The only thing that we always had to look forward to, if you wanted to take care of a family, was the coal mines.”

    Until it wasn’t.

    From 2011 to 2015, the coal mining industry lost more than 26,000 jobs, with 87 percent of those losses coming in the Appalachian region, according to the Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration. In the last two years alone, several major coal companies filed for bankruptcy protection, including Peabody Energy, Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources.

    Which is one of the reasons why Hall and many other miners saw the election of Donald Trump as a moment of hope.

    “We’re going to get those miners back to work,” Trump said in May 2016. “The miners of West Virginia and Pennsylvania … Ohio and all over are going to start to work again, believe me. They are going to be proud again to be miners.”

    In a region where coal mining isn’t just a job but an integral part of local history, culture and identity, that message resonated with voters. On Election Day, Hillary Clinton failed to win a single county in West Virginia. In Mingo County, where Hall lives, Trump won by 83 percent. In Kentucky, Trump won all but two counties. Clinton also lost mining communities in Pennsylvania and Ohio, but by narrower margins.

    “The lives of so many families have been destroyed, and all they want to do is work in dignity,” said Robert Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy Corp. and a staunch Trump supporter. “Donald Trump came here and saw that. He saw these people, and the destruction.”

    Headwinds for Coal

    For Trump, moving beyond the campaign rhetoric and delivering on the promise to bring back mining will be a challenge. While mining has always been a volatile industry, with cycles of boom and bust, many economists and energy experts say the current decline, at least in Appalachia, is here to stay.

    Increased automation is one of several factors that they point to. Even as the production of coal was peaking in 2008, machines were replacing whole teams of miners, reducing the number of jobs in the industry.

    “The machines that pull coal out of the ground allow us to pull way more than a bunch of guys with pick axes and shovels could — using one, two or three guys to operate them,” said Chris Bollinger, director of the Center of Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky. “That has had a tremendous impact on employment in the industry.”

    In more recent years, the industry has been forced to compete with the boom in natural gas production, which thanks to advances in fracking technology, has made natural gas an attractive alternative to coal.

    Before the fracking boom, “coal undoubtedly had a cost advantage,” said John Deskins, the director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University. “Here we have a natural gas boom lowering the cost of gas, and a regulatory climate raising the cost of coal, you can imagine that tipping the scales away from coal and in favor of natural gas.”

    In 2008, roughly half the electricity generated in the United States came from coal, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. By 2016, coal had dropped to a third, with natural gas overtaking it by a growing margin.

    The natural gas boom comes at a time of diminishing supply of cheap coal across much of Appalachia. Coal fields in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia, for example, have been mined for much longer than reserves elsewhere in the country. That has left the region with coal deposits that are thinner and deeper in the ground, making them costlier to reach and extract.

    “We’re down to the expensive, hard-to-reach stuff,” Bollinger said, speaking of eastern Kentucky’s coal fields. “When you’ve got an alternative that’s easy, you’re going to go for that.”

    In states like Illinois, Montana and Wyoming, that’s been a boon for business. In Appalachia, it’s meant less mining work.

    Depression in Coal Country

    The mining downturn has had a deep impact on local economies in Appalachia.

    “These employment losses are very heavily concentrated,” Deskins said, noting that southern West Virginia now contains five counties — the heart of the coal fields — that are in a deep depression. In December, when the national jobless rate stood at 4.7 percent, unemployment in those five counties ranged from 5.6 percent to 10.1 percent.

    Deskins noted that long-term reliance on coal jobs in these areas means that fewer people pursued higher education, making transitioning to a post-coal economy more difficult.

    Stephanie Tyree, the executive director of the West Virginia Community Development Hub, described a vicious cycle triggered by the loss of mining jobs. Coal miners lose their jobs or move to another county or state in search of work. The subsequent loss in tax revenue, in turn, forces counties with shrinking budgets to cut jobs in government, some of the most stable employment available in these areas.

    “It’s just this ripple effect that keeps rippling out to impact all these other layers, so you have less support for county projects, infrastructure development, for anything that supports the county budget,” Tyree said. “It starts to go at such a rapid pace that it becomes very difficult to step in to mitigate it.”

    “Level the Playing Field”

    Despite skepticism expressed by economists and other experts about a coal revival, the Trump administration has industry representatives feeling hopeful.

    “Since November 8, everybody’s attitude has been much more positive in West Virginia and around the industry, simply because someone’s recognized the significance of the coal miner,” said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

    Like many in the industry, Raney blames mining’s struggles primarily on regulations introduced during the Obama administration aimed at reducing the environmental impact of coal and its contribution to climate change. “They’ve been generating plans to use other fuels through their regulatory behavior,” Raney said, adding that a slow permitting process also hurt the industry under Obama.

    Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy, said he viewed what happened during the Obama administration as “the government picking winners and losers.” He wants Trump to end subsidies for wind and solar power, and to curtail the size and reach of the Environmental Protection Agency.

    “Get the government out of energy, and let us compete on a level playing field, and I can compete with natural gas head on,” he said. “Just give me the ball and I’ll run with it with my coal.”

    During his campaign, Trump proposed an “America first energy plan” that would tap into “hundreds of years in clean coal reserves,” and roll back “job-destroying” regulations and executive actions by the Obama administration. He vowed to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, dismantle the Clean Power Plan — a proposed rule that would reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 2030 — and ease restrictions for energy production on federal lands.

    Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to lead the EPA, indicated during his confirmation hearing that the agency would operate in a more restrained manner under his leadership, saying he would avoid “using a heavy hand to coerce the states into effectuating EPA policies.”

    Raney and Murray would like to see regulations like the Clean Power Plan, and the Stream Protection Rule — which is designed to protect streams from mining-related pollution, but which the industry says threatens jobs — dismantled. Congress passed a repeal of the stream rule in February. The bill is awaiting Trump’s signature.

    “We’re hopeful, and anticipating a rebound as we move through the next four years,” Raney said.

    Economists like Deskins, however, remain doubtful.

    “I absolutely have no idea how they could take steps to bring back coal to the levels that we saw in 2008,” Deskins said, noting that the Trump administration would likely have the biggest impact on the regulatory climate, but would be unlikely to impact the natural gas boom or fading international demand for coal.

    Even with regard to regulations, Deskins noted that a lot of the investments needed to comply with Obama era regulations had already been made, and expenses had already been incurred. “In a very, very simple sense from the perspective of coal demand, the damage has already been done.”

    Bollinger, who’s based in Kentucky, doesn’t see the fate of coal miners in Appalachia improving under Trump, even with the easing of federal regulations. In all likelihood, he said, the benefits will go to places where the cheapest coal is still easily available — in states like Wyoming and Montana.

    Looking to the Future

    For Hall, who was taking an underground mining certification course with the promise of a coal job, personal tragedy and circumstance intervened. After his family received an eviction notice and his grandmother passed away, he decided to move to Rossville, Georgia to take care of his grandfather. He plans to work at a company doing housing installation.

    It isn’t the first time his path has shifted. “I was actually getting ready to go to college,” he said. “Well, trying to. And they brought the coal back when I was in the process of doing that, so I just pretty much threw it all down and walked away from it for the coal mines.”

    Economic development organizations in states like West Virginia and Kentucky are already focused on helping people adapt to a post-coal economy. Ivy Brashear, who works at the Kentucky-based Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, thinks coal mining’s decline in the Appalachian region is not reversible.

    “Holding on to this idea that we can bring coal back, or we should, is detrimental to this movement toward the future,” Brashear said, “because it gives the idea that bringing coal back is possible, and it’s just not possible.”

    “I don’t necessarily think that coal miners are averse to other industries or working somewhere else,” Brashear added. “They just want to work.”

    This story is part of an investigation from Frontline called “How The Deck Is Stacked: The realities of getting ahead in the new American economy.” You can read the original story here.

    Other stories in this series:

    President Trump promised California farmers he would ‘start opening up the water.’ Can he?
    Can President Trump bring back manufacturing jobs?

    The post Can President Trump keep his promises to coal country? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The Department of State, for example, has 116 positions that require Senate confirmation. So far, only two have been confirmed. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    The Department of State, for example, has 116 positions that require Senate confirmation. So far, only two have been confirmed. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Fourteen of 1,242 Senate-confirmed positions are in place a month into the Trump presidency, according to the Partnership for Public Service and the Washington Post.

    Since the transition period, the nonprofit organization has been tracking what they consider to be crucial Senate-confirmed positions, beyond the two dozen Cabinet-level jobs. President of the Partnership for Public Service Max Stier explained the key positions were determined as “ones that are primarily agency, not White House jobs,” they also removed part time jobs, U.S. attorneys and marshals.

    Of the 549 key positions:

    • 14 positions have been confirmed
    • 20 are awaiting confirmation
    • 515 are awaiting nomination

    NewsHour went through the data collected by the Post and the PPS and found empty positions in agencies that are crucial for Trump to carry out his agenda. This isn’t quite as unusual as it sounds, Stier said. Filling up a government with capable people is a daunting task. And many important positions at federal agencies right now aren’t vacant — they’re filled with holdover officials from previous administrations.

    Still, Stier said, the slow pace of replacing them with Trump-appointed officials puts the current administration at a huge disadvantage.

    The Department of State has 116 positions that require Senate confirmation. So far, only two have been confirmed: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. Three more have been announced: the ambassadors to China, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

    Trump has blamed the slow pace of confirmation on Senate Democrats, saying they have stalled his top picks. Senate Democrats have helped confirm several cabinet nominees, though they have taken issue with some of Trump’s choices.

    On the campaign trail, Trump was adamant on increasing our national security and dismantling the Affordable Care Act. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services are both crucial to achieving those respective goals. However, of the 16 Senate-confirmed positions at Homeland Security, only DHS Secretary John Kelly has been confirmed. Just one other has been nominated: his deputy secretary. The others, so far unnamed, includes posts like Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

    At Health and Human Services, Secretary Tom Price was confirmed on Feb. 10. Price is the only key appointee in place. Similar to DHS, HHS has just one other nominee named.

    “They don’t have a long-term relationship,” he said. “When you don’t have your team working well together, it won’t be effective.”

    The post Where Trump stands on filling key spots in his administration appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The Warden's Daughter cover image. Credit: Knopf Books

    The Warden’s Daughter cover image. Credit: Knopf Books

    Though Newberry Award-winning author Jerry Spinelli has always written for kids, he’s never shied away from tough topics. In his writing, Spinelli — best known for his 1990 novel, “Maniac Magee,” which explores racism and homelessness, and his 1996 novel “Wringer,” about a boy learning to stand up to peer pressure towards violence — explores the difficulties of adolescent life with empathy, humor and realism. His new book, “The Warden’s Daughter,” is no different, as it follows a girl who grows up without a mother in a county prison.

    In an interview with correspondent Jeffrey Brown, Spinelli said he doesn’t worry about whether kids can handle more mature themes.

    “It’s the world they’re growing up in,” he said. “They have their own problems, the same as the problems that I had when I was their age.”

    Spinelli said he’s more concerned about telling a good story with believable characters. If that happens, “then the kids who are reading it, they’re going to move up to it,” he said. “So I don’t think of myself so much writing for kids as about kids.”

    Watch that full interview below:

    The post Why children’s author Jerry Spinelli won’t shy away from tough topics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: As we reported earlier, President Trump visited the African American Museum of History and Culture today, spending time considering the struggle to overcome racism in the United States.

    Tonight, another installment in our series Race Matters, focused on finding solutions to racism.

    Special Charlayne Hunter-Gault reports from Athens, Georgia, on building bridges through the game of chess.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: This is one of Lemuel LaRoche’s day jobs, teaching graduate students in the University of Georgia’s School of Social Work.

    But LaRoche is a man of many parts, one who doesn’t separate town from gown, especially the parts of town populated by troubled youth.

    LEMUEL LAROCHE, University of Georgia School of Social Work: These kids are looking for opportunities, looking for a way out, bouncing from foster home to foster homes.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And, to that end, LaRoche puts all of his teaching skills to work with troubled and not-so-troubled youth, and others from other places, with chess, the game he loves and sees as more than a game.

    LEMUEL LAROCHE: While in Israel, I got an opportunity to play chess with this old Russian man.

    And although we didn’t have — we didn’t speak the same language, while we had the chessboard, as were playing chess, I kind of stepped outside of myself and realized, like, wow, and how I was able to connect with this person, that even we didn’t play chess — even though we didn’t speak the same language, we were able to connect through the chessboard.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: But you learned something from it?


    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: What was it that you learned?

    LEMUEL LAROCHE: What I took from that lesson was more of a — this is a game that can really unify races. This is a game that can really unify people.

    Chess is such a metaphor for life. When I teach chess, I try to teach it from the perspective of, how do you take this game and correlate it with the real world?

    And when teaching children how to play chess, I try to teach them how to look at the world different. The same goes, when you give a man fish, he eats for a day. When you teach a man how to fish, he eats for a lifetime.

    I try to apply the same concept with chess.

    DIONNE MCALLA, Chess Player: I think more critically. I have to focus more, because, in chess, if you mess up moves, then you can basically throw your whole game off. So, you really need to think about what you do before you do it.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: But you also begin to close doors — well, close spaces between black children and white children and Latin children. Tell me how you did that.

    LEMUEL LAROCHE: Adults are programmed in their own viewpoints, their political views, their religious views.

    But kids are still innocent. So, if we can succeed at putting children together, getting children to shake hands, look into each other’s eyes, have that socialization in where they can engage and touch each other in a positive way, then, when that child becomes a mayor or a commissioner or is put in a position, he or she has an experience or have had an experience with African-American youth.

    So, using chess as a tool to bring kids together, we do it through chess and pizza, chess and ice cream, where we bring these kids together. That, in essence, force the parents to come together, and before we know it, we have a community that is really beginning to build collectively.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And they begin to understand each other beyond chess?

    LEMUEL LAROCHE: Indeed, because that’s important.

    And, oftentimes, chess is just used as the hook to bring them to the table. But, beyond chess, now that I have a relationship with you — if I have been programmed to see you as a criminal, as a thug, as a racist, chess is a way for you to have that one-on-one interaction, and now I realize that man what — who I thought was a thug just beat me in chess.

    MICHAEL MORRIS, Chess Player: What this is doing is helping me learn in life that you think ahead and plan ahead before you move.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: What happens when the police play chess with these kids?

    LEMUEL LAROCHE: To watch the police officers engage with youth in a game of chess is — to me, it’s a brilliant thing.

    One is because, a lot of times, the way we have been programmed and conditioned to see each other, kids have been programmed to hate the police, based on historical mistrust, as well as relationships that they have had with parents, or if they have seen a police officer incarcerate their parents.

    So there is a negative stereotype about police officers in our community. And, oftentimes, police officers have been programmed to see a lot of young African-American youth as criminals because of the things that they have dealt with.

    Engaging the kids with the police officers in a game of chess, it helps both the youth, as well as police officers, to break the stereotypes that we have developed about each other.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And you get reactions from …

    LEMUEL LAROCHE: Very positive reactions, because, one, the kid now recognizes he has seen a police officer smile. There’s positive socialization. People are beginning to engage with each other.

    The police officer is telling a kid, man, you beat me in chess. It develops a relationship that you don’t see.

    So, once a year, we have what’s called Justice Served. And this is a way for the kids to whoop up on the police officers through chess, but all in positive interaction.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: So, for communities where they don’t have a chess master, or even a griot, are there lessons beyond chess, do you think? When you they have these divisions, how do you bridge the gaps?

    LEMUEL LAROCHE: By bringing people together.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: How? You can’t just stand on the street and you say, you all come. We’re going to get together tonight.

    LEMUEL LAROCHE: By building what we have built locally in Athens.

    It was a process. You first have to allow those who are in positions of power to engage with people who are affected by policies that are being joined. So, to get both in a room, we have helped to strengthen that process through our annual chess conference.

    This is a conference that brings policy-makers in the room with kids that are affected by policies.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: But now you’re talking about chess. I want to talk about how you do it if you don’t have chess as the centerpiece?

    LEMUEL LAROCHE: I truly believe that it is important to try to reach them at the youth, at the ground level.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Who has to take the lead? What kind of people do you think need to get engaged in this, and how do they go about bringing this in?

    LEMUEL LAROCHE: If we begin to look at things as we are all small pieces of the big puzzle, then that helps to make the picture a lot more clearer.

    The great WEB Du Bois said that the problem with the 20th century is going to be the problem with the color line. And it’s sad that, in the 21st century, we still find ways to erase that color line or find a way to turn that line into a circle, where we can include everyone.

    I’m optimistic because I see how we engage the youth on the ground. I see what happens when we engage little white boys, little white girls, and, you know, Asian and Hispanic. We bring the kids together.

    I see that type of engagement that they have. I see the genuineness in it. And I’m in a position that, when I see parents, the parents, the parroting of the parents, when the kids are repeating what they hear from the parents. Then it’s an opportunity for me to redirect that concept, redirect that thought.

    So, by engaging the youth on the ground, having them engage, talk to each other, having them play with each — socialize with each other, I believe that that is the one way that we can erase it.

    And it’s about allowing those who have been programmed to see you a certain way, or how we have been programmed to see other people certain ways, that we really begin to have that genuine dialogue, that genuine interaction.

    And I try to do that through my work. But I am very optimistic that it can happen. It’s tough, but it can happen.

    CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Thank you very much, Lemuel LaRoche, for joining us.

    LEMUEL LAROCHE: Thank you so much. It’s an honor.

    The post How a simple game of chess can break through stereotypes appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    When Donald Trump announced a campaign stop in Erie, Pennsylvania in August, it seemed like an unusual move. The blue-collar community on the shores of Lake Erie had not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1984. For decades, labor unions endorsed Democratic candidates and their members voted in step.

    But the landscape in Erie was changing. Well-paying manufacturing jobs that once sustained families in the region were disappearing. Residents were leaving in search of better economic prospects.

    General Electric Transportation, once Erie’s largest employer, began the election year by shedding 1,500 of the 4,500 jobs at its locomotive plant that paid, on average, a comfortable $34 an hour. Over the past three years, the company had gradually shifted production to a non-union facility in Fort Worth, Texas in an effort to minimize costs and keep up with global competition.

    Erie, along with dozens of other manufacturing hubs along the Rust Belt, have seen seismic shifts as technology has quenched the demand for manual labor on factory floors. Companies like GE that once sustained the region have either cut jobs, or closed entirely, in recent years. Since 1990, Erie County has lost 16,000 manufacturing jobs, representing 44 percent of the industry there. In the year leading up to the election, unemployment in Erie rose from 5 percent to 7 percent.

    The anxiety and excitement was palatable at the ice hockey arena when Trump took the stage in Erie. His calls to lower taxes and punish companies from leaving the United States were greeted with thunderous cheers. Bucking conventional wisdom about America’s economy, Trump promised to renegotiate trade deals and “bring back” jobs that many economists say have been lost to automation.

    “Erie has lost a lot, right?” Trump said. “Hang in, don’t leave. I promise we can fix it so fast. We will stop these countries from taking our jobs. We will stop these countries from taking our companies.”

    On Election Day, Trump defied expectations in Erie, taking a county that Barack Obama won by more than 19,000 votes in 2012, and winning it by around 2,000 votes. His victory in Pennsylvania was the first by a Republican presidential candidate since 1988. Trump also won other traditionally Democratic states like Michigan and Wisconsin, propelled by voters from similar counties throughout the industrial heartland.

    Trump’s message resonated with small business owners like Joe and Sondralee Orengia. A champion power lifter, Joe manages Joe’s Gym, while Sondralee operates Custom Audio, an electronics store. Both say they have seen fewer customers in recent years, and are excited about Trump’s promise to return manufacturing jobs and revitalize the Erie economy.

    “The Democratic Party’s so strong here and then you get someone like Donald Trump who is really a very different candidate. I mean, we’ve never seen anything like him before,” Sondralee said. “I think a lot of people are fearful, especially the Democrats, but I think the people who voted for him, they’re hopeful.”

    Joe Orengia voted for Democratic candidates in the past, but registered as a Republican for the first time after reading Trump’s book, “Crippled America: How to Make Our Country Great Again.” He showed his support by designing and selling “Pump for Trump” T-shirts that proudly displayed Trump’s face superimposed onto a cartoon power lifter.

    Orengia, who is 70 years old, grew up in the 1950s during the heyday of manufacturing, when more than half of Erie workers were employed in factories. After apprentice school, he worked as an ironworker and helped construct factory buildings for companies like GE and Hammermill Paper Company.

    “I was one of their best climbers,” he said. “I always got the job of putting the buildings together, which was fun. You climb up the column, a big piece of steel comes up, you bolt it up, you walk out, unhook the cable and stand there and wait for the next piece.”

    Hammermill, which was bought by International Paper Company, shut its Erie factory in 2002. Many buildings that Orengia helped to build have been torn down.

    “They were some of the best years of my life working down there, putting them up. They are gone and the people are gone,” he said.

    Bringing Back Jobs

    With Trump now in office, Orengia is hopeful for a revival in Erie. After the election, he watched as Trump struck a deal with Carrier, an air-conditioner manufacturer, to prevent around 800 of 1,400 jobs at an Indiana plant from moving to Mexico. Critics, however, say the one-off deal granting Carrier millions in tax breaks to preserve jobs in the U.S. does not make economic sense. 

Trump has also promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and impose tariffs on Chinese imports. In his first week in office, he signed an executive order to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    Despite the president’s promise to bring jobs back to the United States, technology has caused massive upheaval in the manufacturing industry. Labor-intensive manufacturing is rapidly disappearing from communities like Erie and economists say traditional factory jobs are not coming back.

    The number of manufacturing jobs in Erie reached its peak in 1950 when almost 50,000 people were employed in the industry, according to government data analyzed by Kenneth Louie, the director of the Economic Research Institute of Erie at Penn State University.

    Manufacturing thrived in Erie through the 1960s, but then starting in 1975, jobs began to disappear. Losses accelerated during the recession in the early 2000s, as well as during the 2008 financial crisis. Now, around 20,000 manufacturing jobs are left in Erie.

    Many of those jobs have been replaced by jobs in the service sector that don’t pay as well, according to Louie.

    “The loss of manufacturing jobs really isn’t just the loss of jobs but the loss of good paying jobs,” he said.

    There are exceptions to the rule. Some service sector jobs, such as those in health care and education, can pay more than manufacturing.

    Economists say that automation is by far the biggest factor behind the decline in manufacturing jobs across the country. Technological advances mean that fewer factory workers are required to maintain the same level of output.

    Since 2001, roughly one-in-three manufacturing jobs have been lost in Erie, but manufacturing output has remained relatively steady. Manufacturing represented 28 percent of Erie’s GDP in 2001. In 2015, it was 26 percent.

    This pattern holds true across the country, according to Mark Muro, the director of policy at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institute. Today, it only takes six workers to generate $1 million in manufacturing output, says Muro. The same level of output would have required 25 workers in 1980.

    “Trump deserves credit for taking seriously the anxieties and anger and frustrations in these communities,” Muro said. But his promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and bring back millions of jobs is a “pipe dream,” Muro added, as modern, high-value manufacturing requires fewer workers.

    Some leaders in Erie are betting on advanced manufacturing to be the future of the local economy. They point to seemingly abandoned factory buildings along Erie’s 12th street industrial corridor that are home to high-tech manufacturing equipment. However, these jobs often require a college degree, shutting out many former factory workers. Incomes in Erie, as a result, have not kept pace with the rest of the country.

    U.S. trade with China in the last 15 years has also cost manufacturing jobs in communities like Erie. China, with its steady supply of low-wage workers, can produce labor-intensive goods at a much lower cost.

    David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says trade with China has improved the standard of living for many Americans — but not every community has benefitted equally.

    “People with a college education have by and large benefitted. They get lower priced goods and services and they are not in competition for work,” Autor said.

    Manufacturing communities like Erie, however, have borne the brunt of the negative consequences of trade, according to Autor’s research. In a paper published a week after the election, Autor noted that swing states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin would have elected Hillary Clinton instead of Trump if the effects of Chinese imports had been reduced by 50 percent.

    “People aren’t just blaming the boogeyman for the challenges that they face without any justification,” Autor said. “Globalization actually was a big deal.”

    Competition from abroad, Muro noted, is just a part of the challenge facing communities like Erie. GE’s move to a non-union factory in Texas, he said, also demonstrates the “constant drive” among companies to reduce costs and increase productivity. The Trump administration has not spoken out against companies that shift jobs to other parts of the U.S. in search of cheaper, non-union labor.

    A spokesperson from GE Transportation says the company has seen fewer locomotive orders from North American companies in recent years. GE has culled jobs in Erie to become more cost-effective and competitive in the global market. The company insists it is committed to its Erie plant, which recently designed and built locomotives that were shipped to Angola and Pakistan.

    Such challenges, aside, Joe Orengia is still hopeful about the promises Trump has made. “I’ve got to give him a chance,” he said. If things get “even just a little bit better” by 2020, Orengia will vote for him again. 

”If things get worse, no,” he said.

    This story is part of an investigation from Frontline called “How The Deck Is Stacked: The realities of getting ahead in the new American economy.” You can read the original story here.

    Other stories in this series:
    Can President Trump keep his promises to coal country?
    President Trump promised California farmers he would ‘start opening up the water.’ Can he?

    The post Can President Trump bring back manufacturing jobs? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    FILE PHOTO --  The massive Big John dragline works to reshape the rocky landscape in some of the last sections to be mined for coal at the Hobet site in Boone County, West Virginia, U.S. May 12, 2016.     REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo - RTX2RU18

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now a special series this week on the hopes and economic realities of many of those Americans who voted for President Trump.

    Three reports will take us to Erie County, Pennsylvania, Central Valley, California, and the coal towns of West Virginia. The president made economic promises in each of these places that helped him win.

    Filmmakers with PBS’ Frontline went to those areas looking for personal stories.

    Our first report is set in coal country in West Virginia, and profiles two miners we spoke with after the election.

    It is part of How the Deck Is Stacked, NewsHour’s collaboration with Frontline and Marketplace, in conjunction with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


    DAVE BOUNDS, Retired Coal Miner: I have been registered Democrat all my life, but I crossed over this year. I voted for Donald Trump, because he promised to help the coal miner. And, for this region, we need help.

    There’s good men out here just walking the streets. Their families are getting desperate. Welfare can’t keep people forever. These men need to go back to work.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So I just left parts of Virginia, and West Virginia.

    And the coal industry is decimated. The miners are out of work. They are totally out of work. I mean, there’s — there will be no such thing as coal in this country pretty soon. What we’re going to do, folks, is going to be so special. We’re going to bring back our jobs.

    We are going to be America first. We are going to make America great again.

    DAKOTA HALL, Coal Miner: I really want to be a coal miner, always have been, ever since I was in high school. Everybody had their dreams about being a basketball player, football player. I always just wanted to be a coal miner.

    The only thing that I really have given thought about is Trump getting in office and going back to work. My American dream would just be to watch my kids grow up happy and healthy. That’s the only thing I could ever ask for.

    I didn’t have anything very long, you know, not a whole lot anyway. Didn’t make enough. Didn’t work long enough. They said that things went dry. It made it really, really hard to take care of a baby and a wife.

    ROGER BALL, Owner, B&B Mine Safety: Since the election, a lot of lights have came on in mining.

    Most of them have a job waiting on them, or they wouldn’t be here to spend that money.

    Getting outside with nobody hurt, now that’s what pays the bills, and pays it the right way. We don’t want no blood on that coal. Nobody does.

    MAN: What year is this truck?

    DAKOTA HALL: Fourteen.

    MAN: Fourteen?

    DAKOTA HALL: I just got it two months before I got laid off.

    MAN: So, you need to hurry and get back to work, don’t you?

    DAKOTA HALL: I guess I basically seek it because it’s hard work. And I have always been a fan of hard work. It’s the way I was brought up, a family man, I guess.

    What are you doing, buddy? Callie, she’s 4 days old. She was just born on Friday. Colton, he’s — he will be 2 in February. My father never was really there through the picture, you know? I only got to meet him twice.

    I never would let my kids down. I always told myself that. Coal mining, I don’t think it’s that risky. My family’s done it for generations. But I think it’s well worth it. You know, there is risk in everything you take.

    ROGER BALL: Respirable dust is on the test. You can’t see that with your naked eye. The dust you see, you will cough up. It gets caught in your throat and in your nose and in your mouth. If we will do our job, we can eliminate black lung. It’s something you don’t want as part of your check.

    DAVE BOUNDS, Retired Coal Miner: I hate to take such big breaths, but I really need to sometimes.

    DAVE BOUNDS: Coal mining is a rough job. I was very seldom off. I worked six days a week, and sometimes seven. I worked 16 hours a day, instead of eight. When I first went in the mines in 1969, the risk factor of black lung disease wasn’t mentioned a whole lot.

    I was one of them young coal miners. I would never get it. No, not me. I mean, it happens to a lot of these older miners, but not me. That’s what I thought.

    The doctor told me, he said, you have contracted. Now you need to do something about it.

    But buying a home, buying two automobiles, I had my daughter in school. You couldn’t go out and just quit work and go hunt a job somewhere in another field that you wasn’t even trained for. So, you just had to keep working. You had to keep going, until, one day, you realize, hey, I done went too far.

    Our new administration is talking about repealing Obamacare and doing away with Obamacare and starting a new one. And one of our greatest fears now is, if you take the provisions out for the coal miners — I spent four-and-a-half years in litigation to get my black lung benefits started.

    I wouldn’t want my wife to spend four-and-a-half years trying to get her started, if something were to happen to me.

    I realize a lot of coal mines have shut down. They have filed bankruptcy. But taking a man’s benefits shouldn’t be part of it. And everything that was promised unto him to go to work should be there waiting on him when he gets ready to retire, without any controversy. He earned that.

    I thought I was 10-foot-tall and bulletproof. It didn’t take long for me to realize I wasn’t. Now I find myself as a 69-year-old, broken-down coal miner.

    I think it’s going to be the one to take me out in the end. They can say, well, this man died of black lung.

    DAKOTA HALL: If it picks up and it starts booming, that’s probably all I will do for the rest of my life, until I retire anyway. I would love to do that, be a coal miner, support my family, make good money, you know, have something in life.

    DAVE BOUNDS: I cherish the days I got to spend with my dad and worked with him. I miss him. I really do.

    Those memories, I wouldn’t — I wouldn’t want taken away. And if I could give any advice to any young miner right now, I would say run. Find you another occupation. When you see a coal mine, turn around and go the other way. You just got to leave.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: For a look at the full-length film, you can go to the NewsHour Web site. That’s at pbs.org/newshour.

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

    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the GOP retreat in Philadelphia last month. Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

    The opening measures of the Trump presidency have been a wild percussion of nomination fights, executive orders, booming tweets, errant tweets, memos sent, memos received and memos denied. But after that first rapid-fire burst of a month, Republicans are now staring at large, sweeping decisions that they have considered for years, but must make soon.

    Let’s set aside the smaller picture and look at five major issues near a turning point for the president and the Republican-controlled Congress.

    Budget cuts: Congress must decide if it will keep the sequester — the automatic budget caps across government that are set to return starting in October. The debate process starts in the next six weeks. Republicans want to reverse scheduled cuts for defense. ($100 billion-plus over the next four years.)

    But it’s not clear how they’d offset that money. This could mean deeper cuts for the rest of government or money-raising proposals that need close scrutiny.

    Affordable Care Act details: While House Republicans did give members a broad outline of their repeal plans, they have yet to decide on the hard parts: how to pay for any increased costs and whether they will guarantee that as many Americans will be covered under their plan.

    The travel order: We are waiting for President Trump’s new executive order on travel sometime this week. He described it as “extreme vetting,” and said it would be closely tailored to court decisions that have blocked his original order. Many of the same issues are in play along with a potential change in the timing of the rollout.

    Deportations: Who and how many people precisely will President Trump target with deportation? Weekend stories indicated both that DHS Secretary John Kelly has signed a new memo about enforcement and that it is not yet final.

    And the L.A. Times reported that the White House is considering ending some protections for so-called “Dreamers.” As fear builds in the immigrant community, so does pressure to decide.

    Earmarks: Don’t wait for someone to say the word “earmarks.” But you could see more of them, as members of Congress increasingly discuss them by their formal title — “Congressionally-directed spending.”

    Republicans must decide whether to ramp up the use of the district-by-district projects that critics say can be giveaways. The decision could impact bills large and small, and the way Congress operates in general.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But first; Baltimore, Maryland, has high unemployment and a violent crime rate of nearly twice the national average. Educators say that factors like these add significant stress to children and cause emotional and behavioral problems.

    Several area public schools are working to reduce that stress with programs that teach mindfulness and meditation.

    Our Hari Sreenivasan has the story.

    It for our weekly series Making the Grade.

    READ MORE: Teaching students how to combat traumas of poverty on the yoga mat

    CHRIS BOWMAN, Student, Patterson High School: And exhale, pushing out all the things that make you stressed out.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: This isn’t your local yoga studio. It’s the Mindful Moments Room at Patterson High School in East Baltimore. It’s a place students go when they act up, get stressed out, or just need a break.

    CHRIS BOWMAN: Stay in your happiness.

    LATONYA LEE, Student, Patterson High School: My day is so stressful. As soon as I walk in the door — I don’t even have to do exercises. There’s just a big smile on my face because I’m in here. If they didn’t have mindful moments in Patterson, I wouldn’t be here at all.


    LATONYA LEE: Because it’s too stressful. And for — to not have a place to relieve stress is like putting you in a oven.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: These students are participant ambassadors for mindfulness meditation programs run by the nonprofit Holistic Life Foundation at Patterson High.

    It’s a school that has struggled with higher rates of dropouts, absenteeism, and has more students on free or reduced lunches than the national average.

    Nineteen-year-old Chris Bowman not only practices mindfulness meditation at school, but he starts his day with it, and yoga, which he’s used to deal with his demons. At a previous school, he says he used to fight with kids who picked on him for being black.

    Then his father died when he was 13.

    CHRIS BOWMAN: Growing up without a father and stuff like that, I struggled with a lot of depression, a lot of grief, and a lot of just really bad — really bad zones of like suicidal thoughts.

    But I had to find a way to get out of that. A mindful moment is when you — you just take a deep breath in a moment of conflict and just — maybe you just look at that and just like, I can do this in a different way. I don’t have to fight this person. I don’t have to look violence as the answer.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: When you get really angry at somebody else, and they want to fight you, and you’re close to losing it, what do you do?

    TADREAL KING, Student, Patterson High School: I just stress rest. And I will go to the back of the room and sit by myself and due stress rest to relieve, so I won’t…

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But isn’t that person going to say, oh, well, look at that, she lost, she doesn’t want to fight me, she’s too scared?

    TADREAL KING: See, at that point, I don’t care. I’m just thinking of the positives, instead of fighting, because…


    Kirk Philips manages mindful moment programs for the Holistic Life Foundation.

    Given all the stresses that they’re living with, how does taking a few breaths help?

    KIRK PHILIPS, Program Manager, Holistic Life Foundation: There’s the drama, there’s violence, there’s all kinds of issues. And they need it more than most kids who don’t have that sort of trauma in their everyday lives. Those are the kids that really do need to step outside of that cycle of violence.

    Patterson principal Vance Benton agrees.

    VANCE BENTON, Principal, Patterson High School: When they’re under situations outside the school building, sometimes difficult situations, hopefully, they will be able to take a breath, reconsider, and possibly walk away from death. And when I say walk away from death, that means either death themselves or them killing someone based on a situation that exploded.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: A survey at Patterson High four years ago showed most students experienced the death of a relative or neighbor. The founders of Holistic Life approached the principal soon thereafter with an idea. Principal Benton is so convinced, he now meditates every day.

    VANCE BENTON: Lift your head up with your outward breath.

    The feel in here since we have had the mindful moment is calmer. Children are a lot calmer. I don’t believe in jinx, so I will say this, that although there are altercations that happen during the course of a school day, during the course of a school year, our male students, particularly our black male students, they don’t fight each other in this building.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: There’s research that shows the effectiveness of mindfulness and meditation, but whether or not it is effective in the classroom will take some more research.

    Studies in peer-reviewed journals have shown mindfulness meditation that focuses on breathing has positive impacts on important parts of the brain. The amygdala, stimulated from strong emotions such as fear, shows less activity through meditation. The hippocampus, which regulates the amygdala and is key to learning and memory, becomes more active following mindfulness. And the prefrontal cortex, associated with maturity and making wise decisions, also becomes more active.

    Erica Sibinga of Johns Hopkins University has published studies on mindfulness practice and children.

    ERICA SIBINGA, Johns Hopkins University: Our qualitative data, our interview data from youth do suggest that they use these techniques to help them settle themselves before they take tests, to help them have better sleep patterns and sleep hygiene. And we believe that those outcomes will also have downstream effects on academic performance.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Education administrators often look at measurable results, like test scores and graduation rates. But how can you measure the effectiveness of mindfulness?

    MARIAH WOODS, Student, Coleman Elementary School: Inhale in deep and bring the goodness in. And slowly get up. I want you to lay down, close your eyes, and you relax and you — that’s the time, that’s the time for you just to relax and make sure you think of the good things in your mind.

    When you have all the love in your heart, and you just want to send it to somebody, not even calling on the phone, all you got to do is inhale and send all of it out, and they’re going to get it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Third and fourth graders at Coleman Elementary practice yoga and meditation during after-school programs often without anyone to lead them.

    Their principal, Carlillian Thompson, has noticed a major change in behavior in the last three years.

    CARLILLIAN THOMPSON, Principal, Coleman Elementary School: Since it’s been in effect, office referrals, the number has gone to almost zero. We have zero suspensions. The children are now able to embrace it and realize that: I don’t have to be angry. I don’t have to fight. I don’t have to show off. All I need to do is breathe.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Mindfulness breathing programs are now in more than a dozen Baltimore schools. Similar programs are in schools in at least 15 states across the country.

    I’m Hari Sreenivasan for the PBS NewsHour in Baltimore.

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    People view toppled Jewish headstones after a weekend vandalism attack on Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, a suburb of St Louis, Missouri, U.S. February 21, 2017.  REUTERS/Tom Gannam - RTSZOGH

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The past couple of months have seen a wave of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States, including a dozen bomb threats at Jewish community centers in the past two days, and the destruction of gravestones in a Jewish cemetery in Missouri.

    The president today made a statement of condemnation, but it comes amid growing concerns in this country about anti-Semitism and other incidents involving hate, and some criticism that President Trump hasn’t responded forcefully and quickly enough.

    Our John Yang has the story.

    JOHN YANG: Over the past two days, authorities have evacuated Jewish community centers in a dozen cities across the country, the latest this morning in La Jolla, California.

    MAN: It’s just bigotry raising its head again in this country.

    JOHN YANG: No explosive devices were found, but it’s part of an unsettling series of events. On Monday, more than 200 headstones were toppled and damaged at a Jewish cemetery in Saint Louis.

    Since January 1, 54 Jewish centers in 27 states have been the target of 70 threats. In all of 2016, there was just one such incident.

    This morning, at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, President Trump condemned the threats.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.

    JOHN YANG: Mr. Trump’s comments followed Monday’s tweet from his daughter Ivanka, who converted to Orthodox Judaism before her 2009 marriage to Jared Kushner: “We must protect our houses of worship and religious centers.”

    The president was far stronger today than he was last week, when, in two news conferences over two days, he was asked about the apparent uptick in anti-Semitic incidents.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Watch how friendly he is.

    Go ahead.

    JOHN YANG: On Thursday, he dismissed a question from a reporter for an Orthodox Jewish weekly as very insulting and unfair.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you have ever seen in your entire life. I hate the charge. I find it repulsive.

    JOHN YANG: Today, the Anti-Defamation League urged Mr. Trump to present a plan to combat anti-Semitism.

    And we are joined by the head of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, who is in Palm Beach, Florida.

    Jonathan, thanks for joining us.

    You tweeted this afternoon that polling shows that anti-Semitic views have been fairly constant for the past 20 years, despite a little uptick, you say, in 2013 and 2016.

    JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO and National Director, Anti-Defamation League: Right.

    JOHN YANG: Why, then, are we seeing this wave of threats against Jewish community centers? What’s going on here, in your view?

    JONATHAN GREENBLATT: Well, look, the ADL has been tracking anti-Semitic attitudes since the 1960s.

    And, as you said, our latest poll, which looks at anti-Semitic attitudes in 2016, turned up about 14 percent of all Americans harbor these ideas. That’s more than 30 million Americans. So, it’s not a small number.

    But I think what’s changed is the fact that, over the course of the last 12 to 18 months, we saw — we had a political campaign that saw extremism move from the margins into the mainstream of the political conversation.

    We saw images and ideas from white supremacists literally shared from political campaigns showing up in the Twitter feeds of major news organizations. We saw it in our political rallies as well.

    And then, after the election, there was a surge of hate crimes. We saw acts of vandalism, certainly a lot of slander on social media and, in fact, in the last few months, as you mentioned, a number of bomb threats, almost 70, to dozens of Jewish community centers across the country.

    So, I think what’s happened is, the extremists feel emboldened. The lack of comments from the highest levels of our political office have created a vacuum that they have rushed to fill, bringing their hateful ideas literally into the center of our public life.

    That’s got to stop.

    JOHN YANG: Well, the president did speak out today. What’s your response to that? What do you think of what he said?


    The president took an important first step today. Literally, we hadn’t heard him speak in the way that he did, talking about that these threats are painful and that anti-Semitism is horrible. Of course we agree.

    And so his statement today was an important first step. But, as we have said for a long time, now we need the next step, which is a plan of action to calm these communities where anxiety has reached an incredibly high level.

    JOHN YANG: What do you want to see him do?

    JONATHAN GREENBLATT: Well, there are a series of things.

    We think it’s time for the president to announce steps for the White House to undertake. Number one, the FBI has been fantastic in responding to these threats and these scares. But we’d like to see a full-fledged, comprehensive investigation from the Department of Justice, using all of their energies to launch a civil rights investigation.

    They have got the power to do that and to work with U.S. attorneys around the country. Attorney General Sessions should get that started immediately.

    Number two, we’d like to see a White House task force on hate crimes. This could be something again convened by the attorney general, but you would bring to bear DHS, the Department of Education, the FBI and other federal agencies to use all of their resources to deal with this problem.

    Number three, law enforcement needs to be trained on dealing with extremism. The ADL does this already around the country. And we need to make sure that every law enforcement agency and officer understands how to deal with hate.

    And, number four, we think every state should have hate crimes laws. It’s worth sharing, John, that five states today don’t have hate crimes laws, including South Carolina, where just last week, a man was arraigned. He had been arrested by the FBI for plotting a Columbine-style attack on a synagogue in Myrtle Beach.

    But you know what? That man couldn’t be charged with a hate crime in South Carolina because it doesn’t have a law on the books. So, the attorney general could push and the president could push governors and state attorney generals to move forward with hate crimes laws all over America to protect the Jewish community and other marginalized groups.

    JOHN YANG: We have got about a minute left.

    The president was asked about this very topic three times over two press conferences last week.


    JOHN YANG: What did you think of the responses last week, and why do you think it took him until today to get to where he is today and what he said today?

    JONATHAN GREENBLATT: Well, look, the response last week in both press conferences was clearly inadequate.

    But what we should focus on now is, he’s taken the first step. So, how do we seize this opportunity? How can he manifest moral leadership and say, I’m not only outraged, I am energized to take action?

    And when he does that, the ADL will be prepared to work with him to find the perpetrators and to ensure that America truly is no place for hate.

    JOHN YANG: Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League, thanks very much for joining us.

    JONATHAN GREENBLATT: You’re welcome. Thank you.

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    U.S. Border Patrol Agent David Ruiz patrols the U.S. border with Mexico in Nogales, Arizona, U.S., January 31, 2017. Picture taken January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTSYWA3

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We take a deeper look now at today’s directives on immigration laid out by the federal Department of Homeland Security.

    Joining us from Miami, Alan Gomez. He’s an immigration reporter for USA Today. And from Tucson, Nancy Montoya, she is senior reporter on immigration on border issues for Arizona Public Media.

    We welcome both of you to the program.

    Alan Gomez, to you first.

    You wrote today that this is going to mean a significant shift in the government’s deportation strategy. Just how big a shift are we talking about?

    ALAN GOMEZ, USA TODAY: It’s really difficult to put into context just how big this is.

    There’s many components of what President Trump is trying to do that he’s going to need help from Congress. When we talk about building a border wall, hiring 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and agents, hiring more Border Patrol, hiring more immigration judge, he’s going to need a lot of help from Congress on that.

    But even if you put all of that aside, changes that were announced today in the Department of Homeland Security memos represent one of the biggest shifts in immigration enforcement that we have seen in a generation.

    The pool of undocumented immigrants that are now available to be deported has vastly increased. The powers of immigration agents have vastly increased. The ability of local police to be deputized to carry out not just ICE functions, but Border Patrol functions, is now a reality and is something that’s going to increase.

    So, when you look across the board at all the different changes that they make, again, it’s just really difficult to explain just how big of a change this is. Basically, most undocumented immigrants living in the country now are at a high risk of deportation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Nancy Montoya, is that what you see? You’re someone who has covered border and immigration stories for the last, what, several decades. What stands out here for you?

    NANCY MONTOYA, Arizona Public Media: Absolutely.

    Well, I agree with Alan that we are seeing a major shift in how immigration is functioning in the United States. It’s not just that the president is going to require help from Congress in order to implement all these changes.

    It’s also the attitude of people around the world. How will they view America? I have been talking to folks along the U.S.-Mexican border all day long today. And I can tell you, in my nearly four decades of covering the U.S.-Mexico border, I have never seen such energy and such emotion coming from the border, and it’s not positive energy either.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Alan Gomez, there is a bit of a contradiction going on here, because, on the one hand, we hear the secretary of homeland security, John Kelly, saying, no, we’re not talking about mass deportations.

    But, on the other hand, there is an enormous amount of fear that’s being described in the reporting of those who have been talking to people who could be affected by this.

    ALAN GOMEZ: And that’s because there’s a difference between saying that you’re going to target undocumented immigrants who have a criminal record and what else you’re allowed to do.

    President Obama and President Trump have said the same thing, that their target for their limited deportation dollars are undocumented immigrants who have a criminal conviction on their background, who are gang members, who pose some sort of threat to national security.

    But what is different under President Trump is that now there are more people who are deemed enforcement priorities. That means you don’t just have to be convicted of a crime. You can simply be charged with a crime, just be arrested and charged with that crime.

    You can commit an act that an immigration agent deems is a deportable offense on his own and initiates deportation proceedings against you. And along the way, while ICE is conducting its operations, it is now ICE policy for the first time that anyone that they pick up along the way who just has purely immigration violations on their record can also be rounded up.


    ALAN GOMEZ: So that’s why everybody is scared that it’s not just going to be criminal undocumented immigrants; it’s going to be the whole pool.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Nancy Montoya, how clear is all this to the people who are affected by it?

    NANCY MONTOYA: It’s not clear at all.

    In fact, I talked today with groups from DACA and DAPA, which are the deferred action folks, who are supposedly safe under these new orders. They don’t feel safe at all. In fact, they have told me that the — that President Trump has used up all his potential credibility when it comes to immigration issues.

    They do not trust him. They do not believe that they are safe. Many of the DACA students, who are the dreamers, those who were brought here as children, told me today that there is still this fear.

    However, going alongside of that fear is this renewed energy, because groups from all over the country, all over Arizona, are meeting, are working together, and so you are going to see a surge of protests like never before.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, meantime, assuming they get the funding for it, Alan Gomez, the administration is talking about another 10,000 ICE immigration agents. There are already about that many, what, 12,000 immigration and Border Patrol officials, if you add it together.

    So we’re looking at a doubling of the number of people who are going to be carrying out enforcement. What is that expected to mean?

    ALAN GOMEZ: What that means is that, right now, if you’re an undocumented immigrant who is living in the United States under President Obama, the odds of you running into an immigration officer, the odds of a raid at your …

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You mean under President Trump. You said under President Obama. I think you meant under President…


    ALAN GOMEZ: Yes, I was just …

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Oh, you were making a contrast.


    ALAN GOMEZ: Comparison. Yes, sorry.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Go ahead.

    ALAN GOMEZ: Basically, before, it was — the odds of you running into an immigration agent who was going to arrest you, detain you, and start initiation — deportation hearings was very low.

    What this does is ramp that up dramatically. And it allows — and when you add the numbers — the numbers of more ICE agents with their new directives, and knowing that they can target anybody that they encounter on the street, you’re going to have what we have seen in the last couple weeks, which is panic.

    There was a school in Corpus Christi that almost had to close down because there was a fear that there was immigration agents in the neighborhood. And so you are going to see more of them. And every time undocumented immigrants or those immigrant communities at large see ICE agents in the area, it’s going to create a panic in that community. And we’re going to see that repeating itself over and over.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Nancy Montoya, is that what you think may be happening? And if that’s the case, what are the recourses for people who are out there who have questions? Do they feel they can even come forward and try to get those questions answered?

    NANCY MONTOYA: One of the things that has amazed me is how the faith community has come together.

    Back in the 1980s, there was something called the sanctuary movement that started right here in Tucson, in fact, at South Side Presbyterian Church. That’s when Central American refugees fleeing the violence of the civil war in Central America wound up in the U.S.

    Now, just two or three weeks ago, South Side Presbyterian Church again has ignited the sanctuary movement. Right now, there are more than 2,000 churches, synagogues and mosques around the country that are calling themselves sanctuary sites, where people can go in and ask for help.

    And I was asked, how do people find this? If you just Google sanctuary churches, you will be able to hook up with a church, a mosque in your area.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Alan Gomez, finally, for those who have questions about this, where do they turn? Where can they go to get answers?

    ALAN GOMEZ: That’s a very good question.

    It’s — right now, the best thing you can — the only option you have right now is to look at the two memos the Department of Homeland Security put out there. The White House and Homeland Security have tried to provide some guidance. It took some prodding from us today for them to say on the record that DACA will remain and that those people who have those DACA protections, those will be honored.

    So, yes, I think, a little bit like we saw with the travel ban a few weeks ago, we’re operating in a bit of a gray space, where we’re not quite sure how exactly all these orders are going to be implemented. We have a lot of questions about how specific aspects that we haven’t even had time to get into tonight are going to be implemented.

    And I think it’s going to be like we saw with the travel ban, little by little, as things get tested, and as people fight back and sue the Department of Homeland Security in certain cases, that we’re going to really realize what this all means.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the NewsHour is going to continue to cover this very closely.

    Alan Gomez, Nancy Montoya, we thank you.

    ALAN GOMEZ: Thank you.

    NANCY MONTOYA: Thank you.

    The post What the immigration crackdown means for the undocumented appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly listens to U.S. President Donald Trump during a meeting with cyber security experts in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTX2Z1RU

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The federal government has formally begun moving to get tougher on illegal immigration.

    The Department of Homeland Security set that in motion today with top-level memos.

    The new memos on immigration were set in motion just after President Trump’s inauguration.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I just signed two executive orders that will save thousands of lives, millions of jobs, and billions and billions of dollars.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now the secretary of homeland security, John Kelly, is putting the presidential orders into practice. His directives greatly expand the pool of immigrants subject to quick deportation. Now anyone in the U.S. illegally who’s charged or convicted of any crime is an enforcement priority.

    The Obama administration focused on immigrants convicted of serious crimes, threats to national security and recent border crossers.

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer:

    SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: The message from this White House and from the DHS is that those people who are in this country and pose a threat to our public safety or have committed a crime will be the first to go, and we will be aggressively making sure that that occurs.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The new directives do not change the Obama program known as DACA that protected from deportation more than 750,000 young immigrants, the so-called dreamers.

    Mr. Trump addressed their plight during last week’s White House news conference.

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We’re going to show great heart. DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you. To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have, because you have these incredible kids.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, he told NBC News, “We are going to try to take care of the dreamers very, very much.”

    Authorities do plan to enforce a longstanding provision on people caught in the act of illegally crossing the Mexican border. They will be sent back to Mexico, even if they’re from a different country. On plans for a border wall, the Kelly memos identify locations near El Paso, Texas; Tucson, Arizona; and El Centro, California, for initial construction.

    In addition, Secretary Kelly has directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hire 10,000 additional officers and agents.

    All of this comes amid rising fears among immigrants and nationwide protests. Last week, activists staged a day without immigrants, shutting down restaurants and stores to highlight the contributions of workers born outside the U.S.

    WOMAN: I think it’s important to show support and to try to open their eyes that we’re not here to be criminals.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And immigration advocates point to two cases, in Phoenix and Seattle, in which people were detained despite apparent protection under President Obama’s policies.

    In the day’s other news: The death of a Mexican teenager at the hands of a U.S. Border Patrol agent reached the U.S. Supreme Court. It happened in 2010, between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The agent was on the American side when he fired at the boy on the Mexican side. Details of what preceded the shooting are in dispute. The teen’s family is seeking the right to sue the agent in U.S. federal court.

    In Israel, a military court sentenced Army Sergeant Elor Azaria to a year-and-a-half in prison for killing a wounded Palestinian attacker.

    Diana Magnay of Independent Television News reports on the outcome in the hotly debated case.

    DIANA MAGNAY: Grinning with nerves perhaps as he enters the courtroom and still in the comfort of his mother’s arms as he awaits sentencing, Sergeant Elor Azaria, 11 months ago an unknown teenage army medic, now a household name and something of a hero to many in Israel after a military trial which has divided the nation.

    And the national anthem from his supporters once the sentence is handed down, 18 months’ jail time, one year on probation, and a demotion in rank, which his defense team says they will appeal.

    Rewind to March last year in the town of Hebron in the occupied West Bank. On the ground is a Palestinian man called Abdel Fattah al-Sharif. Moments before, he and another Palestinian had stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier. The other man is dead. Al-Sharif lies wounded and seemingly harmless. None of the soldiers pay him much attention, except for one, 19-year-old Elor Azaria.

    He cocks his gun, steps forward and fires. In Hebron today, Al-Sharif’s family watched as Azaria celebrated. The prosecutor had asked for three to five years, but the sentence was less than half that, the judge citing mitigating circumstances, that Hebron was hostile territory and the suffering the Azaria family had experienced throughout the trial.

    YOUSRI AL-SHARIF, Father of Abdel Fattah Al-Sharif (through interpreter): Getting a year-and-a-half is a joke. This is not a sentenced. If one of us killed an animal, they would put us in jail for God knows how long. They’re just making fun of us.

    DIANA MAGNAY: For Azaria’s supporters, he’s a victim, doing his duty by the country in the face of a terrorist threat, no matter the rules of engagement.

    MAN: He’s already spent a year in jail dealing with this. His family has been broken. His father had a stroke. His mother has collapsed. And he’s got no backing from our government. I don’t blame the army. I blame Bibi.

    DIANA MAGNAY: Bibi, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has gone from backing the military on Azaria’s case for last month asking for him to be pardoned.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The prime minister was out of the country today, and had no immediate comment on the sentence.

    There has been another migrant tragedy in the Mediterranean. The Libyan Red Crescent says that at least 74 bodies of African migrants have washed ashore near a city in Western Libya. They had been on a rubber dinghy that was trying to sail to Italy. Officials say more bodies are still floating offshore.

    Back in this country, hundreds of people in Northern California were forced to evacuate their homes after heavy storms sent creeks and rivers flowing over their banks. In San Jose, fire crews carried out a series of rescues as water levels surged. One rescue came near a homeless encampment amid reports that up to 40 people might be trapped.

    MITCH MATLOW, San Jose Fire Department: Normally, that’s only three or four feet deep out there, but that water is not where it normally sits. So I can’t tell you how deep it is. All of the water in the Coyote Creek watershed right now is dangerous. It’s swift moving. It’s carrying debris with it from areas that haven’t seen water in years. And on top of that, it may be contaminated.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Authorities say it may take four days or longer for the rivers to begin to fall.

    The new head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, struck a conciliatory tone today. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, he sued the EPA more than a dozen times to rein in regulations. He also expressed doubt about climate science. Today, he told agency staffers that he wants to — quote — “listen, learn and lead.”

    The rally resumed on Wall Street today, after the President’s Day break. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 119 points to close at 20743. The Nasdaq rose 27, and the S&P 500 added 14. All three closings were new record highs.

    And the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., said goodbye to Bao Bao, its 3-year-old giant panda cub. After a late last breakfast, zookeepers packed the panda up, put her in a FedEx travel crate, including bamboo and other snacks, and drove her to Washington’s Dulles Airport to catch her flight, the panda express. After a 16-hour flight, Bao Bao will join a panda breeding program in China.

    We will miss you, Bao Bao.

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    Last May, Donald Trump stood in an arena full of farmers from California’s desiccated Central Valley and said words many yearned to hear: “If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water.”

    The audience, waving FARMERS FOR TRUMP signs, hollered their approval.

    “I just met with a lot of the farmers,” he said. “They have farms up here and they don’t get water. I said, ‘Oh, that’s too bad. Is it a drought?’ ‘No, we have plenty of water.’ I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘Well, we shove it out to sea.’ And I said ‘Why?’”

    “They’re trying to protect this three-inch fish!” Trump said incredulously.

    At the mention of the three-inch fish, the audience booed.

    Trump was repeating an argument used by California’s agricultural industry for decades: That the region’s water woes are not caused by nature, but by regulations. Specifically, those that under certain circumstances keep water in California’s rivers rather than diverting it to farmlands, in the name of protecting a “three-inch fish” — the delta smelt — and other native species that are threatened with extinction.

    Environmental regulation is widely scorned in California’s productive and politically muscular Central Valley. Four-hundred miles long and framed by a pair of mountain ranges, the valley counts among the most fertile lands in the world, producing a quarter of the nation’s food and much of the state’s $50 billion agricultural output.

    But California’s fickle weather leaves the valley in constant peril of losing its lifeblood, water. Until this winter, the state was suffering an historic drought — the worst in a millennium, by one measure. Some farmers went two years without receiving any water from public channels. To cope with the scarcity, some farmers with private wells have pumped water so aggressively that their land is sinking. Others simply stopped growing things: Half a million of California’s 7 million acres of farmland went fallow for want of hydration.

    This season’s heavy rains have raised hopes that the worst has passed. But nobody expects California water politics to recede with the drought.

    Though California is a famously blue state, its agricultural heartland beats red. This is slowly changing as the valley diversifies and urbanizes. But like so many other rural areas in America, the region decisively voted for Trump in the general election: He beat Hillary Clinton in 13 of the valley’s 19 counties, winning those counties by an average of 18 percentage points.

    “Twenty or 30 years ago, the press always wrote about northern California versus southern California,” said Richard Frank, director of the California Environmental Law and Policy Center at the University of California at Davis. “That’s an outdated model. If there are two Californias, they are coastal California and inland California. The Central Valley really is Trump country.”

    Farmers don’t see eye-to-eye with the new president on everything: His stance on immigration worries an industry dependent on migrant labor. And his withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal with Asian and Pacific nations is a disappointment for agribusinesses who ship their products abroad.

    But for farmers in the Central Valley, nothing governs business success more than water, and for many, his promise to “start opening up the water” is a source of optimism.

    Precisely how he will do that is up for debate, since the federal government’s role in California’s water politics is not all-powerful. The federal government owns and operates the infrastructure that delivers most water to farmers in the Central Valley. But the state can limit how much water that system distributes through a permitting process and other regulation.

    Aubrey Bettencourt, a third-generation farmer, executive director of the pro-agriculture nonprofit California Water Alliance, and a participant in the conversation that Trump had with farmers prior to his May rally, listed two ways she hopes the Trump administration will influence California water politics.

    First, she said, it can be more assertive in negotiations with the state about how to distribute water. “The last administration very much stayed out of the way and allowed the state to fill that void,” she said.

    Second, she said, it can overhaul the federal government’s environmental programs and policies.

    In that, Central Valley farmers appear to have Trump’s support. In addition to the promises he made in his two trips to the valley during his campaign, as president he has vowed to “massively” cut regulations on business. “We think we can cut regulations by 75 percent. Maybe more,” he told business leaders on the Monday after his inauguration. A week later, he issued an executive order requiring agencies to remove two existing regulations for every new rule introduced, and capped the cost of new regulations.

    Among the regulatory targets in many farmers’ sites is the Endangered Species Act, which has proved a critical legal tool for environmentalists and fishers who wish to keep water in rivers rather than sending it to farmland.

    The act was approved nearly unanimously by Congress in 1973. It became a source of fury for many California farmers when it was deployed during the state’s 1987-1992 drought, said Holly Doremus, a professor of environmental regulation at the University of California at Berkeley. Both the delta smelt and chinook salmon were listed under the act, and for the first time, water that could have gone to farmers was left in rivers specifically to keep a species extant. Courts upheld the restrictions, despite lawsuits filed on behalf of agribusiness.

    It was around then that the concept of “regulatory drought” caught hold. Today, billboards sport the phrase throughout the valley. Farmers generally acknowledge that the Central Valley’s rivers and their delta are in sorry shape, but argue that restricting water to agriculture isn’t the way to save an ecosystem. While both state and the federal biologists have issued opinions that diverting more water from rivers would be harmful to species, agribusiness advocates often note that the Endangered Species Act has been keeping water in rivers for 25 years, and the species are more threatened than ever.

    “I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t be trying to save our species and environment,” said Bettencourt. “But when the programs we’ve implemented are not seeing results, when we don’t require that accountability, how are we ever going to know what’s working?”

    But, Doremus said, the Endangered Species Act was never intended as a plan to make species’ thrive — just to give them the bare minimum to survive.

    “In many ways, the Endangered Species Act is a last-minute emergency room law. It’s supposed to provide a respirator before the patient is actually dead,” she said.

    Environmentalists say farmers often exaggerate the influence of the Endangered Species Act on water distribution. It is more common for water to be kept in rivers because to do anything else would make California’s tap and irrigation water salty — an outcome undesirable for everyone, said Kate Poole, a senior counsel at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Agriculture is already responsible for 80 percent of the human water use in California. The remainder goes to cities and manufacturing uses. After a period in which millions of Californians faced restrictions on water use, environmentalists argue that farmers should focus on using the water they have more efficiently, rather than lobbying for more.

    But agriculture is key to the Central Valley, and farmers say that while they are eager to see infrastructure and efficiencies improved, their immediate priority is getting their fields back in business.

    “Most farmers would tell you, ‘I don’t want to see fish die. I don’t want to fight with environmentalists. I just want to go back to work,’” Bettencourt said.

    This argument has sway not just with Republicans, but with some Democrats who have agricultural constituents. In December, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sponsored a bill signed by President Barack Obama ordering as much water as possible to go to California farmers without pushing endangered species into extinction. The reach of the new law will almost certainly be hammered out in court, but many conservationists see it as a short-sighted move that erodes the power of the government to protect ecosystems.

    Phil Isenberg, a former Democratic state representative and retired vice-chair of the Delta Stewardship Council, said that even though everyone in California’s water politics arena is anxiously watching Trump, it might be a long time until anything changes.

    “It’s probably fair to say that crafting a coherent water policy for California is number 9,764 on their priority list,” Isenberg said.

    Bettencourt acknowledged that revamping the Endangered Species Act is not likely Trump’s highest priority. But, she said, it’s still a comfort for many farmers to know that in their fight for more water, they have an ally in the White House.

    The rains this year have been a blessing for all parties, as near-empty reservoirs return to normal levels and rivers overflow. But the rains have also highlighted other problems: The lack of adequate water storage in a state sure to be beset by drought again and again, exacerbated by climate change and rising population. Though water is abundant after this years floods, scientists say these pressures will force farmers to adjust to a world where water will continue to be scarce — regardless of regulation.

    This story is part of an investigation from Frontline called “How The Deck Is Stacked: The realities of getting ahead in the new American economy.” You can read the original story here.

    Other stories in this series:
    Can President Trump keep his promises to coal country?
    Can President Trump bring back manufacturing jobs?

    The post President Trump promised California farmers he would ‘start opening up the water.’ Can he? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: perspective on America’s elderly from a once-worried daughter.

    America’s aging population continues to explode and will double, from 46 million today to 98 million by the year 2060.

    This week’s IMHO, In My Humble Opinion, features Annabelle Gurwitch. the author of the book “Wherever You Go, There They Are.”

    ANNABELLE GURWITCH, Author, “Wherever You Go, There They Are”: When my sister and I stepped in to help our declining parents, there were finances and insurances to detangle.

    We wanted them to move nearer to us, but they needed to stay close to their doctors. Now, the aging-at-home option has been touted as a cost saver, but it doesn’t address the isolation and loneliness that marks life for many seniors.

    So we started looking for the next place. It turns out there are few resources for the middle class. We found palatial residences like the one I think of as villa grande with wine tastings and white table dining, or villa even more grande with personal butlers and architectural layouts named for Picasso and Renoir. The Michelangelo was the size of New Hampshire.

    I started waking up in the middle of the night just to search the Web. Just how much are kidneys going for these days?

    My parents had champagne taste, but were on a box wine budget, and the place that we found was something of a letdown. It wasn’t the most up-to-date. It was hard for them to get used to the traffic sounds and the bright lights outside the facility.

    My parents were Jewish, but not observant. And my father was caught on more than one occasion smuggling bacon into the kosher cafeteria, while my mother found it upsetting that, at the exercise class, which included people in wheelchairs, they played the song “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.”

    There were small victories. My mother lobbied for K.C. and the Sunshine Band, so the still ambulatory residents could shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake their booty every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

    But my mother still had trouble making friends, because depression can keep you trapped inside your shell. Now I was waking up in the middle of the night wondering if I should move closer to them, but my son was in high school, and I’m a writer and performer who is often on the road.

    And then something remarkable happened. My father’s health deteriorated, and this community rallied around them, visiting, helping out, making sure that my mother had someone to have meals with.

    One night, my mother’s new BFF, Helen, and I went for a stroll, and she took my arm. And I had no idea what had happened in Helen’s life that had brought her to the same place as my mother, who she loved or who loved her, but I took my first deep breath in months.

    Villa grande wouldn’t have been right. My house wouldn’t have been right. They found a family, which was more than what any of us could have hoped for.

    The post When you know your aging parents have found home appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by William Brangham/PBS  NewsHour

    Photo by William Brangham/PBS NewsHour

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration could revise or withdraw an Obama-era directive requiring public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their chosen gender identity.

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday the Justice Department is working on a new set of guidelines on bathroom access but offered no other details.

    “I think that all you have to do is look at what the president’s view has been for a long time, that this is not something the federal government should be involved in, this is a states’ rights issue,” he said.

    The Justice Department declined to comment. But Spicer’s comment stoked concerns among transgender-rights advocates about a reversal of the Obama administration’s protections.

    Here’s a look at the issue and what could happen:


    The Obama administration in May told public schools nationwide that they are obligated to treat transgender students in a way that matches their gender identity, even when records differ or it makes others uncomfortable. It was the administration’s determination that Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education and activities, also applies to gender identity.

    About 150,000 youth — 0.7 percent— between the ages of 13 and 17 in the United States identify as transgender, according to a study by The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

    The Obama-era guidance held no force of law but sent a warning that schools could lose funding if they did not comply with the administration’s interpretation of the law. Republicans immediately pushed back, arguing it was an example of federal government overreach and the Obama administration meddling in local matters. Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick equated it to “blackmail” and said at the time that the state was ready to forfeit federal education money rather than comply with the guidance.

    Thirteen states sued to challenge the directive. A federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked the guidance in August, and the Trump administration this month said it would no longer fight to limit the injunction.


    Advocates said federal law would still prohibit discrimination against students based on their gender or sexual orientation even without the Obama guidelines.

    “To cloak this in federalism ignores the vital and historic role that federal law plays in ensuring that all children (including LGBT students) are able to attend school free from discrimination,” Vanita Gupta, who was head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division when the guidance was issued, said in a statement.

    Still, legal experts say a change in position could have consequences for unresolved court cases dealing with Title IX.

    The Supreme Court could decide to send a case about a transgender teen in Virginia back to a lower court. The high school senior was born female, but identifies as a male and wants to use the boys’ bathroom at his school. The high court is scheduled to hear the case in March. Courts are unsettled about whether, in the absence of guidance from the federal government, anti-discrimination laws require schools to allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity. The justices could direct lower courts to decide that issue.

    Similar lawsuits are still playing out across the country.

    “Some courts might say the fact that they go back and forth on this every time the administration changes, maybe we shouldn’t defer to it, maybe we should just decide for ourselves,” said Arthur Leonard, a professor at New York Law School who has studied LGBT legal history.


    A patchwork of state laws dealing with the bathroom issue will continue to emerge. Fifteen states have explicit protections for transgender students in their state laws, and many individual school districts in other states have adopted policies that respected such students on the basis of their gender identity, said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign. Just one state, North Carolina, has enacted a law restricting bathroom access to the sex at birth. But so far this year, lawmakers in more than 10 states are considering similar legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    Transgender-rights advocates argued the guidance was a helpful tool for districts in understanding federal law. Without it, more schools could be subject to lawsuits as districts try to sort through the confusion, said Rachel Tiven, CEO of the LGBT advocacy group Lambda Legal. revising or rescinding the guidance

    “The important thing to understand is that it doesn’t change the underlying law, but it’s an invitation to harm the most vulnerable kids in school,” Tiven said of any efforts to revise or rescind the guidance .

    Associated Press writer Maria Danilova contributed to this report.

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

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    FAIRVIEW, Tenn. — Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn returned to her district Tuesday in Tennessee and was greeted by tough questions on topics from health care reform to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet appointees. She also was met with protests.

    While 100 people crammed into her town hall gathering about 30 miles from Nashville, another 100 people outside chanted about immigrant rights, Planned Parenthood and other topics in protest against the congresswoman and the president.

    Blackburn’s town hall was among several protests lobbed at GOP members of Congress returning home this week on break to their districts around the U.S. Now many Republican lawmakers are opting against holding public town halls, instead organizing conference calls or meeting privately.

    The crowd inside Blackburn’s event held up signs that said “agree” and “disagree,” and at times yelled out “alternative facts” and “shame on you for lying” after Blackburn’s responses.

    “I have always said, you may not agree with me, but you’re always going to know where I stand,” Blackburn told the protesters outside Fairview City Hall afterward. “Having a good, solid, respectful debate, that is something that serves our country well.”

    A month into Trump’s presidency, protests continue over his immigration policies, Cabinet selections and the GOP’s push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, without all the specifics on how to replace it. At the town halls, protesters are probing their lawmakers to see if they will veer from some of Trump’s more controversial decisions, and if they will promise coverage for those currently served by the Affordable Care Act.

    Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to address the town halls.

    “The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!” he tweeted.

    In two small Iowa towns, overflow crowds similarly lobbed questions Tuesday at Republican Sens. Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst.

    About 18,000 callers participated in a telephone town hall with suburban Chicago Rep. Peter Roskam, who has been criticized for canceling smaller in-person meetings and declining debates.

    Protesters booed in Montana when Sen. Steve Daines canceled his speech to state lawmakers. And at a protest town hall in Allentown, Pennsylvania, home of Sen. Pat Toomey, the protest group called Tuesdays with Toomey hung an empty suit in place of the senator.

    Similarly, a liberal group in Maine is holding its own town halls against GOP Sen. Susan Collins.

    Also Tuesday, the most powerful member of the U.S. Senate faced jeers from nearly 1,000 as he arrived to address a group of local business leaders. In Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, they chanted as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell entered the American Legion Post 34 Fairgrounds in a black limousine.

    McConnell said he was “proud” of the demonstrators for expressing their views but told the mostly friendly audience inside that the protesters “had their shot,” adding: “Winners make policy and the losers go home.”

    Sandra Brown, 45, said politics shouldn’t matter as Congress moves to replace the health care law. She spoke at the Tennessee town hall about how the Affordable Care Act helped cover her pre-existing condition.

    Blackburn said the plan for efforts to repeal and replace the law includes maintaining coverage of pre-existing conditions and young adults on their parents’ plans.

    “Whatever they do, it needs to be affordable for everybody,” Brown said after the Tennessee town hall. “Because even the people that voted for a Republican, they’re not going to be very happy if they’ve been promised they’re going to repeal this Affordable Care Act and then they replace it with a garbage policy. They’re going to be affected as well.”

    READ MORE: 5 big decisions straight ahead for Trump and Republicans

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    U.S. Border Patrol Agent David Ruiz patrols the U.S. border with Mexico in Nogales, Arizona, U.S., January 31, 2017. Picture taken January 31, 2017. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    U.S. Border Patrol Agent David Ruiz patrols the U.S. border with Mexico in Nogales, Arizona, U.S., January 31, 2017. Picture taken January 31, 2017. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Assertions from the White House that immigration-enforcement agents had their hands tied in the last administration are difficult to square with the massive deportations of Barack Obama’s presidency.

    President Donald Trump’s press secretary made a claim about two agencies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection:

    SEAN SPICER: “For so long, the people at ICE and CBP had their hands cuffed behind them.” The Obama administration had so many exceptions for who could be adjudicated “that it made it very difficult for the customs and enforcement people to do their job and enforce the laws of this country.”

    THE FACTS: Whatever constraints agents might have faced, they deported more than 2 million immigrants during the eight years Obama was in office, more than in previous administrations. They sent back 409,000 in 2012 alone, a record.

    Republican lawmakers and some ICE officials did complain that they were directed to ignore some immigrants found living in the country illegally if they didn’t have serious criminal histories or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

    Spicer outlined a similar priority, saying enforcement would focus “first and foremost” on those who have a criminal record or post a risk to the public. Still there’s little question that enforcement will be broadened.

    Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has signed a pair of memos that eliminate the Obama-era enforcement rules and made clear that nearly any immigrant caught living in the country illegally — not just those with a criminal record — will now be a target for deportation.

    WATCH: What the immigration crackdown means for the undocumented

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    Photo of U.S. Supreme Court by Molly Riley/Reuters

    Photo of U.S. Supreme Court by Molly Riley/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a new court hearing for a black Texas prison inmate who claims improper testimony about his race tainted his death sentence.

    The justices voted 6-2 in favor of inmate Duane Buck. Buck had tried for years to get federal courts to look at his claim that his rights were violated when jurors were told by a defense expert witness that Buck was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is black.

    Chief Justice John Roberts said in his majority opinion that the federal appeals court that heard Buck’s case was wrong to deny him a hearing.

    In Texas death penalty trials, one of the “special issues” jurors must consider when deciding punishment is whether the defendant they’ve convicted would be a future danger.

    Roberts wrote that the testimony of Dr. Walter Quijano “was potent evidence. Dr. Quijano’s testimony appealed to a powerful racial stereotype — that of black men as ‘violence prone.”

    Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented. “Having settled on a desired outcome, the court bulldozes procedural obstacles and misapplies settled law to justify it,” Thomas said.

    Lead counsel Christina Swarns (L) for Texas death row inmate Duane Buck (not pictured) hugs Buck's stepsister Phyllis Taylor in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in D.C. in 2016. Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

    Lead counsel Christina Swarns (L) for Texas death row inmate Duane Buck (not pictured) hugs Buck’s stepsister Phyllis Taylor in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in D.C. in 2016. Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

    Buck was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and another man in 1995. His case was among six in 2000 that then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn in a news release said needed to be reopened because Quijano’s statements were racially charged. In the other five cases, new punishment hearings were held and each convict again was sentenced to death. Cornyn, a Republican, is now the state’s senior U.S. senator.

    Buck’s lawyers contended the attorney general, by then Cornyn’s successor Greg Abbott, broke a promise by contesting his case. But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that it could find nothing in the case record to indicate the state made an error or promised not to oppose any move to reopen the case. Abbott now is the state’s governor.

    READ MORE: Supreme Court weighs case of Mexican boy slain across border

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    A view of the U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in D.C. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    A view of the U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in D.C. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with a Michigan girl with cerebral palsy who wants to sue school officials over their refusal to let her bring a service dog to class.

    The justices ruled unanimously that federal disability laws might allow Ehlena Fry to pursue her case in court without first having to wade through a lengthy administrative process.

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

    The ruling from Justice Elena Kagan said exhausting the administrative process is not always required. But she said further fact-finding is needed to decide whether Fry can pursue her case in court. The ruling could make it easier for disabled students to protect their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Lower courts had ruled against Fry, saying she first had to try informally resolving her dispute with the school district.

    Fry’s family sought to use the service dog when Ehlena started kindergarten and suffered from severe mobility problems. Wonder was specially trained to help open doors, pick up items and give Ehlena a measure of independence.

    But her school district 75 miles southwest of Detroit initially said Wonder could not accompany her and insisted adult aides could help Ehlena.

    School officials later relented a bit, but placed so many restrictions on the dog that Ehlena’s parents decided to home-school her. She later transferred to a different public school that welcomed Wonder.

    At issue is the interplay of two federal disability laws. The school district said it could bar the dog under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which allows a teacher’s aide to assist students instead. That law requires families that contest school decisions to first go through administrative proceedings.

    But the family said it could sue for damages under a different law, the Americans with Disabilities Act, because the district refused to accommodate Wonder over a two-and-a-half year period.

    READ MORE: Supreme Court orders new hearing for black Texas inmate

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    A Syrian refugee rides a bicycle during rainy weather at the Al Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria December 18, 2016. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed - RTX2VJIK

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: But first: Nearly five million Syrians have fled their homeland for relative safety in surrounding Middle Eastern countries. Some hope to emigrate to Europe and elsewhere, and undergo processing at United Nations’ centers throughout the region.

    Those hoping to come to the U.S. have an uncertain future ahead of them, amid the Trump administration’s orders on immigration.

    From Jordan, special correspondent Mike Cerre reports.

    MIKE CERRE: The long roads for refugees hoping to settle in the U.S. and other countries start at processing centers like this one in the region run by the U.N. Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

    Always a tedious and emotional process, recent changes in U.S. immigration policy added a new level of anxiety for many refugees, whose final security screenings and departure flights were abruptly canceled, while UNHCR officials could sort out the implications of the executive order.

    Paul Stromberg is the deputy director of the UNHCR refugee resettlement immigration office in Jordan.

    PAUL STROMBERG, UNHCR: The process doesn’t allow, really, to speed up or slow down the people who are traveling, have completed this very thorough screening process that has lasted, for each of them, between one and two years. For many families, the ones who were about to leave at the end of that very extensive process, had to be rebooked on flights.

    MIKE CERRE: After six years of war, the nearly five million Syrian refugees are still living within 200 miles of their homes in neighboring countries like here in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, with fewer options of ever being able to go back, or going forward, as more Western governments start closing their immigration doors.

    But as we discovered along the Turkey-Syria border, settling in the U.S. has rarely been the refugees’ first choice, for geographic and cultural reasons. Most Syrian refugees have preferred staying close to their homeland and relatives, rather than immigrating to Europe, let alone the U.S.

    RHANA, Social Worker: And, also, they have Syrian coffee here, and also the trademark, it’s Syrian.

    MIKE CERRE: Rhana, an English literature professor back in Syria, is now a social worker, helping her fellow Syrian refugees get food and housing. She believes many refugees’ cultural ties to the region are holding them back from going to Europe as much as the financial and legal obstacles.

    RHANA: It depends on the mentality of Syrian people. For example, if they find jobs, and they could be able to afford living in Turkey, I think they will rather stay in Turkey. They don’t need to even exert effort to learn the language. And they share a lot with the Turkish people.

    MIKE CERRE: With no end of the war in sight, neighboring host countries closed their borders with Syria last year. The overwhelming strain on their economies and delays in foreign aid pledges have forced them to reduce social services, prompting more Syrian and Iraqi refugees to choose the immigration route, no matter how long it takes.

    PAUL STROMBERG: There are over 650,000 registered Syrians in Jordan, almost 10 percent of the population. So, many would like to go to other countries. But, first of all, those spaces have to be made available. They can’t apply for them. They don’t get in line. They don’t come here and demand anything. But through spaces made available by resettlement countries, then we will go out and check who best suits those conditions.

    MIKE CERRE: The U.S. has taken far fewer Syrian refugees per capita than the other 30 resettlement countries, fewer than 18,000, compared to Canada’s nearly 40,000 and Germany’s more than 600,000. The U.S. also has an additional vetting process not required by the others.

    PAUL STROMBERG: As a refugee, you are dealing with several different security agencies, different security databases, biometric registration at different checks, at different points of the process, face-to-face interviews at different points to verify what you are telling authorities.

    MIKE CERRE: Refuges stay abreast of the latest immigration developments on local news channels and through regular contact with relatives and friends already in the U.S.

    This Syrian Kurdish refugee family from Kobani sold the last of their family jewelry to pay the rent for their apartment in an unfinished building they are living here until they know where their future will be.

    MAN (through interpreter): God’s willing, if Kobani is liberated, I will go back. I wish I can reach Kobani and die there.

    MIKE CERRE: Even if the immigration ban is permanently overturned or substantially changed, it’s had a chilling effect on many refugees, who are now not sure if they still want to go to the U.S. if and when they get another chance.

    For the PBS NewsHour, Mike Cerre reporting from Amman, Jordan.

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    A man reads a newspaper story about Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump as people gather to protest against Trump on the sidewalk, outside the grand opening of his new Trump International Hotel in Washington, U.S. October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX2QJUJ

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now that we’re one month into the Trump administration, we wanted to get a sense of how different parts of the country are assessing the president’s time in office.

    To do that, we have asked newspaper editors from three states to tell us what they’re hearing from readers in their communities. And they join us now.

    Lee Ann Colacioppo is the editor of The Denver Post. David Haynes is the editorial page editor for The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in Wisconsin. And David Bradley is the editor of The St. Joseph News-Press in Missouri.

    And we welcome all of you to the NewsHour.

    David Bradley, I’m going to start with you.

    Missouri is a state that went heavily for Donald Trump. He won by something like 20 points. What are you hearing right now from your readers about how he’s doing?

    DAVID BRADLEY, St. Joseph News-Press: I think people are fairly well satisfied with what Donald Trump is doing now.

    I think he’s done a lot of things that he said he would do. He’s made a few misstatements over the last few weeks, but what he’s done, I think, has been pretty impressive.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Lee Ann Colacioppo, what about your readers in Denver around Colorado?

    LEE ANN COLACIOPPO, The Denver Post: We’re getting a lot of really mixed results, mixed phone calls.

    We have got people calling up really upset, angry with the Trump administration, angry with us when we have editorialized in the vein of he’s lying. And then we have got a lot of people who are — so we’re really hearing from both sides.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: OK, we are going to pursue that.

    David Haynes, what about in Milwaukee? What are you picking up from your readers?

    DAVID HAYNES, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Well, Judy, it always depends on who you talk to.

    Liberals in our state don’t have much use of Donald Trump. Independents are a little bit divided, although they are concerned about what has been reported as some of the chaos in the White House. Conservatives in Wisconsin didn’t support Donald Trump in the primary. They went for Ted Cruz, and so they’re still a little wary and worried that the agenda of Paul Ryan, who is from our state, may not get passed in the way they’d like.

    But what I hear from Trump supporters, mostly, is you in the media need to let him get his administration organized. And I often hear them saying that, you know, Bill Clinton didn’t exactly have an easy transition either, but, in the same breath, they often will say, but, gosh, I wish he would stop tweeting at 3:00 in the morning.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, what about that, David Bradley, in Saint Joseph, Missouri? You mentioned a few misstatements, but is that just a small part of what you’re hearing? What are people saying about the tweets and the other — some of the controversial statements he’s made?

    DAVID BRADLEY: I think people really are getting turned off by all the protests and all the antagonism going on.

    And I think they would just like people to sit back, relax, let him try to run the country and work with Congress and try to get some things done that he said.

    You know, he’s done 24 executive orders. He’s done — he’s appointed a Supreme Court justice for the Congress to approve. He has met with several foreign leaders, four foreign leaders. He has talked with a lot of business leaders and labor leaders in this country, and he’s gotten the pipelines opened up so they can finish the pipelines.

    He’s done quite a few things, appointed 15 members of the Cabinets. I know it’s been delayed, but he’s trying to get those through. So he’s done a lot of things, I think, that are going in the right direction. He’s made a mistake, I think, on his order on the immigration from those seven countries. He’s correcting that now.

    And I think he’s doing everything he can to try to keep the country safe.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Lee Ann Colacioppo in Denver, again, are you hearing some of those same sentiments where you are?

    LEE ANN COLACIOPPO: I would say that we are probably hearing more people who are concerned about the direction of the administration. We are getting a lot of protests, it seems like almost every day.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we should say that Colorado is a state that Hillary Clinton won by about five points.

    So, let me come back to you, David Haynes, in Wisconsin.

    You were saying there’s a mixture of reactions to the president there. What about on the immigration order, the tightening announced this week and then the seven-country travel ban?

    DAVID HAYNES: Well, immigration, as in many states, is an issue that cuts both ways. We have a large population of recent immigrants in the Milwaukee area, mostly from Mexico.

    There was a big Day Without Latinos rally here. But when you get out into the state, out into the rural areas, where Donald Trump won by large margins, he won our state by about 10,000 votes, small margin overall, but he piled up votes in the rural areas.

    In those areas, that’s also where dairy farming is in Wisconsin. And dairy farms in Wisconsin employ — about 40 percent of their hired hands are immigrants, many of them undocumented. And so you have a situation in that area of the state where you have neighbors who — maybe a farmer who has undocumented immigrants working for him, and down the road a neighbor who went a Trump rally and was chanting don’t build the wall, so it’s quite a dichotomy here on that issue.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: David Bradley, in Missouri, where you are, again, as we said, Saint Joseph’s, how much of an issue is immigration and the president’s attempt to tighten enforcement of the immigration laws resonating there?

    DAVID BRADLEY: I don’t think people are against immigration in our part of the world.

    I think they would like to see it done legally, and they would like to go through the regular legal channels. We have a lot of immigrants working in our beef-packing or pork-packing houses in Missouri, and a lot of them are great workers. But we would like to see them go through legal channels.

    And, really, the main concern of people in our area, they want more and better jobs. They want a more pro-business environment and not have so many regulations, so we can grow the number of jobs and good jobs in our community.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Lee Ann Colacioppo in Denver, how much are you hearing from people about that, about, you know, kind of like what David Bradley said a minute ago, that some people just want the president to get on with it and start to do something about creating jobs?

    LEE ANN COLACIOPPO: You know, I don’t — it seems like, from the job creation standpoint, that is not one of the subjects that we are hearing a whole lot about.

    I think we’re hearing more about concerns about the health — health insurance has been big in the discussion. Immigration has been big. But I haven’t heard as much from people discussing the economy.

    I have heard — the bigger part has been wishing that so much of the kind of national talk hasn’t — wasn’t drifting into, say, state legislature and city councils and other parts of the political spectrum.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you mean? You mean that they think more should be done in Washington or less?

    LEE ANN COLACIOPPO: More that the nastiness of the national debate has worked its way into legislative bodies here that are usually more civil.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, David Haynes — I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt you.

    But, David Haynes in Milwaukee, is there a sense there that the national debate has gotten rougher in the last couple of months?

    DAVID HAYNES: Well, it’s been going on in Wisconsin for six years.

    We have had — we’re one of the most polarized states in the country. But I don’t think there is any question that the national debate is more fractured and tougher.

    Our newspaper, in fact, just hosted last night a community conversation, first of several we’re going to do, in which we’re trying to bring people together face to face across that divide and talk about it.

    But it’s a tough — it’s a tough thing to do, because we have kind of retreated to our echo chambers. And there is a great deal of tribalism in terms of people are kind of locked in and — into positions.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: David Bradley, back to you in Missouri.

    What would you say — finally, I want to ask all three of you, what are people that you’re hearing from most wanting to see from this president?

    DAVID BRADLEY: I think people in our area would like to see a better form of taxation that’s pro-growth, that helps us grow our companies and grow our jobs in our area.

    I think people will like to see less regulations, hopefully, that bog down businesses from growing and adding more jobs and good jobs. And I think they would like to see a better sense of communication between all sides, so they can talk to each other in a civil manner and get together and work together, not just antagonize each other and just wind up trying to delay everything.

    And there is an attitude that anything he does is not right today, and that kind of attitude is not going to work if you’re trying to work with a president and a legislature to work together.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Are they putting the blame — just quickly, David Bradley, so are they putting the blame on Republicans or Democrats or everybody?

    DAVID BRADLEY: I think both sides are pointing at each other. And I think they wound up — I think there is a way to get together and talk and hopefully try to work things out.

    And I don’t think Trump is willing — is determined to get everything he wants, and I don’t think the Congress is going to get everything they want. But there has got to be some form of compromise there, and we can make some headway and get this country off its stagnation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quickly to the other two of you.

    Lee Ann Colacioppo, hopes for this administration from your people in your area?

    LEE ANN COLACIOPPO: I hear a lot of — very similar to what he was just saying, I hear a lot of people just wishing that the nasty tone would come down and that there wouldn’t just be a stalemate in Congress, and that they would all be able to work together to get something done that would incorporate the thoughts of both parties, compromise, basically.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: David Haynes, finally, in Milwaukee, what are the hopes?

    DAVID HAYNES: Well, I think one of the hopes right now is that the White House can become less chaotic and more professional.

    It really seems to be like amateur hour right now. And for both conservatives and independents in our state, there is concern that it’s hard to get anything done if there isn’t good leadership coming from the White House.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We want to thank all three of you for joining us.

    Lee Ann Colacioppo, The Denver Post, David Bradley, The St. Joseph News-Press in Missouri, and David Haynes, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in Wisconsin, we appreciate it.

    LEE ANN COLACIOPPO: Thank you.

    DAVID HAYNES: Thank you.

    DAVID BRADLEY: Thank you. Enjoyed it.

    The post How Americans see President Trump, according to three regional newspapers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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