Articles on this Page
- 02/22/17--15:45: _Inundated by storms...
- 02/22/17--15:45: _Texas, Trump admini...
- 02/22/17--15:50: _News Wrap: Jewish c...
- 02/22/17--16:51: _Trump administratio...
- 02/22/17--19:55: _A British photojour...
- 02/23/17--06:01: _U.S., Mexico at odd...
- 02/23/17--06:20: _As Trump eyes infra...
- 02/23/17--06:42: _Conservatives learn...
- 02/23/17--06:53: _‘Post-election stre...
- 02/23/17--07:12: _Q&A: Scientists wor...
- 02/23/17--07:36: _WATCH LIVE: Educati...
- 02/23/17--07:44: _WATCH LIVE: Reince ...
- 02/23/17--15:22: _WATCH: At CPAC, Vic...
- 02/23/17--15:24: _Factory jobs exist,...
- 02/23/17--15:25: _How the feeling of ...
- 02/23/17--15:30: _How Steve Bannon he...
- 02/23/17--15:35: _U.S. and Mexico sha...
- 02/23/17--15:40: _For a ‘smart’ secur...
- 02/23/17--15:45: _News Wrap: Trump sa...
- 02/23/17--15:50: _At annual CPAC, new...
- 02/22/17--15:45: Inundated by storms and flooding, California hopes for sun
- 02/22/17--15:45: Texas, Trump administration seek to delay voter ID hearing
- 02/22/17--15:50: News Wrap: Jewish cemetery receives support after vandalism
- 02/22/17--16:51: Trump administration lifts transgender bathroom guidance
- 02/23/17--06:01: U.S., Mexico at odds over deportation as top officials meet
- 02/23/17--06:20: As Trump eyes infrastructure, local leaders say save ‘muni bonds’
- 02/23/17--06:42: Conservatives learn dealing with Trump can be complicated
- 02/23/17--06:53: ‘Post-election stress disorder’ sweeps the nation
- 02/23/17--07:12: Q&A: Scientists work to regenerate the cells lost after loud noises
- 02/23/17--07:36: WATCH LIVE: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos addresses conservatives
- 02/23/17--07:44: WATCH LIVE: Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon speak at CPAC
- 02/23/17--15:24: Factory jobs exist, CEOs tell Trump. Skills don’t.
- 02/23/17--15:35: U.S. and Mexico share diplomatic dialogue amid tensions
- 02/23/17--15:45: News Wrap: Trump says he wants to boost U.S. nuclear arsenal
- 02/23/17--15:50: At annual CPAC, new energy reflects new Trump administration
HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s turn our focus out West to Northern California, where rain and flooding have wreaked havoc on a once-drought-stricken region.
Officials in San Jose ordered some 14,000 people to evacuate overnight. Floodwaters did stabilize today, but neighborhoods were inundated. Officials said they don’t yet know when residents will be able to return to their homes.
We’re now joined by the mayor of San Jose, Sam Liccardo.
Mayor Liccardo, I just want to ask. You have got 14,000 out for sure, another 20,000 encouraged to leave. All of them want this information that you can’t give them yet, which is, when will they be able to go back home?
MAYOR SAM LICCARDO, San Jose, California: Yes, the important message is that we’re not out of this yet.
Although the waters are receding, we know we have got other storms that are coming in. And it’s not safe to go in many of these neighborhoods yet. We have got a lot of very contaminated water. And we don’t want folks going in there if they’re going to be in peril.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Do you have any estimate on how significant the damage is?
SAM LICCARDO: Not yet.
Right now, we’re really just focused on making sure we’re taking care of the families and their immediate needs. We are going to have an opportunity to get building inspectors in there to really look at the housing and make sure it’s safe. And we will have a better sense in the days to come.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But why did it take so long to evacuate these folks? We were reporting on this in the East Coast. People knew that this storm was coming. You knew. You had the weather forecast.
Yet now we see reports that it was late last night where the police were pounding on doors and saying, hey, come on, it’s too late, you have got to move.
SAM LICCARDO: Yes, it’s fair to say we were preparing for a storm, but what really flooded these neighborhoods was the overpouring of a dam, Anderson Dam, which released a torrent of water that exceeded our 100-year flood estimate.
Essentially, the flood maps, the data that we were relying on wasn’t preparing us for this. And so we are clearly learning some very hard lessons here, and we have got a lot to fix going forward.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Anderson Dam, which feeds that Coyote Creek area, some engineers say it could take nine weeks for them to bring it down to the safe levels at 68 percent, or whatever the capacity is of the reservoir. And right now, it’s up at 100.
So, is there going to be a huge volume of water that floods through this creek and basically keeps this the status quo in San Jose and parts of other neighborhoods here?
SAM LICCARDO: Well, much depends on the rains that are to come.
We’re expecting another storm this weekend. And we hope that obviously it won’t be substantial, because we need to get some sun on this reservoir to get some of that water evaporated.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Has the city requested any sort of aid from the state or the federal government?
SAM LICCARDO: I had a conversation with the governor’s office just a couple of hours ago.
We’re working with them collaboratively. So far, we have been able to manage this on our own, really incredible work by a lot of firefighters, first-responders who are working many overtime shifts to safely evacuate hundreds of residents by boat, really a great testament to their hard work.
But we know we’re probably going to need help in the weeks to come. And we’re working now with the state to figure out how we can do that.
HARI SREENIVASAN: How many people do you still have in emergency shelters? And is that number decreasing?
SAM LICCARDO: We have more than 300 in shelters right now. The good news is really the overwhelming majority of the displaced residents were able to find help with friends or family members nearby.
So we’re going to do everything we can to help folks who are displaced and see how we can help them get back on their feet. What’s been a remarkable thing is to see how the community has reached out in various ways to help these families. Volunteers, a lot of contributions and donations we’re seeing pouring in now.
It’s a real testament to how this community is pulling together in tough times.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there anything else that the city of San Jose needs?
SAM LICCARDO: Well, certainly, we appreciate any contributions through our local community foundation to help these families get back on their feet.
But, more than anything, beyond a big bottle of Drano, we could use some sun. And we have got some sun today. And we hope that the good weather will persist as long as possible.
It’s an odd thing to ask for in California, because we get 300 days of sun a year. And we have just endured years of drought. But we need more sun.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Yes.
All right, Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose, thanks so much.
SAM LICCARDO: Thank you.
The post Inundated by storms and flooding, California hopes for sun appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
AUSTIN, Texas — The U.S. Justice Department joined Texas’ attorney general Wednesday in asking a federal court to delay a hearing on the state’s voter ID law, the latest signal that the federal government might drop its opposition to the law now that Donald Trump is president.
In the joint filing, the Justice Department and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked to delay next Tuesday’s hearing until summer because the Texas Legislature is considering changes to the existing law, which a federal court has found to be discriminatory. Barack Obama’s Justice Department had joined the lawsuit contesting it.
Senate Republicans this week introduced a revised voter ID bill that could address problems courts have identified with the existing Texas law, namely the lack of an affidavit process for voters who are unable to obtain one of seven forms of state-approved photo identification.
Last year, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos required Texas to allow people without an accepted ID to vote by signing a sworn declaration stating they have a reasonable impediment to obtaining one. Twenty Senate Republicans backed a bill that would make the affidavit option permanent and would also create stiff criminal penalties of two to 10 years in prison for lying on a sworn declaration. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made the legislation a priority.
In the filing, the Justice Department and Texas asked for the hearing to be pushed back until after June 18, the last day Gov. Greg Abbott has to sign or veto legislation.
“If new Texas state voter identification legislation is enacted into law, it will significantly affect the remainder of this litigation,” Texas and the Justice Department argue.
Just hours after Trump was sworn in as president, the Justice Department asked for a January hearing to be delayed to February, saying they needed more time to brief new leadership. Lawyers in the case say it’s still too early to know for sure if Trump’s Justice Department change positions in the case.
In August, Ramos denied a request from Texas to delay hearings in the case until after the legislative session wraps up in June.
“The question to be determined at the hearing is whether there was intent to discriminate during the legislative session in 2011,” said Houston attorney Chad Dunn, who is part of a legal team representing Democrats and minority rights groups challenging the law. “Whatever happens with this bill doesn’t address that question.”
The post Texas, Trump administration seek to delay voter ID hearing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A Jewish cemetery near Saint Louis, Missouri, won an outpouring of support today from Vice President Pence on down. More than 150 tombstones had been toppled or damaged over the weekend, part of a spate of anti-Semitic attacks and threats nationwide.
The vice president visited suburban Saint Louis this afternoon, and made a stop at the cemetery. He got a firsthand look at some of the damage and briefly joined the cleanup.
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: There is no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism.
I must tell you, the people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care for this place, for the Jewish community in Missouri, and I want to thank you for that inspiration, for showing the world what America is really all about.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Online fund-raising has brought in more than $92,000 to repair the damage at the cemetery. Muslim groups launched the effort in a show of solidarity.
In Germany, the government is making it easier to deport rejected asylum-seekers. Germany took in nearly 900,000 people in 2015. Today, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet approved a plan that speeds up expulsions of those who don’t gain asylum. Merkel’s coalition has come under increasing domestic criticism over the tide of migrants, and it faces a general election in September.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The United Nations warned today that nearly 20 million people face starvation in four countries, if help doesn’t arrive before April. The secretary-general said South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen are on the brink of catastrophe, and he called for $4.4 billion.
Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News reports on South Sudan, where civil war has brought on disaster.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: Parts of South Sudan are in famine, the world’s first since 2011, over a quarter of a million severely malnourished children, says UNICEF, almost three million forced from their homes because of ethnic conflict here, massacres and widespread rape as weapons of war.
And all the aid agencies admit that this famine is manmade.
Those men are Salva Kiir, the president, wearing the hat, and Riek Machar, his former deputy.
Listen to this former minister on how South Sudan’s leaders outsource starvation as an issue for us, rather than them.
GRANT SHAPPS, Former Minister of State: I met one of the finance ministers for South Sudan at the U.N. in New York, and I said, look, if this war continues, you are going to find your people are starving, because you’re diverting all these resources. He said, you will feed the people. I said, what do you mean, we will feed the people?
He said, I don’t believe that countries like Britain will walk away whilst hundreds of thousands of people starve, so we will carry on fighting the war.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: But confronted with this suffering, doing nothing is not an option, and for those arguing that aid needs to be tied to political reform, what an appalling example South Sudan is.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, federal officials shut down a protest camp close to the Dakota Access oil pipeline. About 150 people left voluntarily, but others were arrested.
Earlier, protesters torched their tents and teepees near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, in what they called a ceremonial act. The Army Corps of Engineers ordered the site closed before spring floods. Other protest camps have sprung up on private land as construction resumes on the last stretch of the pipeline.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The Trump administration is moving tonight to revoke guidelines on transgender bathrooms in public schools. They were issued under President Obama, and called for letting students choose a bathroom based on gender identity. Administration officials say Mr. Trump is acting because he believes states should set their own policies; 13 states sued to block the guidelines last year.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The organization that oversees the SAT college entrance exam is beefing up security after a rash of cheating. The College Board announced today that it will cut back testing dates overseas to reduce opportunities for stealing the exams. It’s also increasing the numbers of audits at sites where the SAT is administered.
The changes follow high-profile cases in Asia where students obtained copies of tests in advance.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And Wall Street had a mixed day, after oil prices slipped and took energy stocks lower. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 32 points to close at 20775. The Nasdaq fell five points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.
The post News Wrap: Jewish cemetery receives support after vandalism appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Wednesday ended federal protection for transgender students that required schools to allow them to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identities, stepping into an emotional national issue.
The administration came down on the side of states’ rights, lifting federal guidelines that had been issued by the Obama administration. Without the Obama directive, it will be up to states and school districts to interpret federal anti-discrimination law and determine whether students should have access to restrooms in accordance with their expressed gender identity and not just their biological sex.
“This is an issue best solved at the state and local level,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said. “Schools, communities, and families can find — and in many cases have found — solutions that protect all students.”
The Obama guidance did not sufficiently explain how federal sex discrimination law known as Title IX also applies to gender identity, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.
“Congress, state legislatures and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue,” Sessions said.
In a letter to the nation’s schools, the Justice and Education departments said the earlier guidance “has given rise to significant litigation regarding school restrooms and locker rooms.”
The agencies withdrew the guidance to “in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved.”
Anti-bullying safeguards would not be affected by the change, according to the letter. “All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment,” it said.
“This is an issue best solved at the state and local level,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said.
It was not clear what immediate impact the change would have on schools, as a federal judge in Texas put a temporary hold on the Obama guidance soon after it was issued — after 13 states sued.
Even without that hold, the guidance carried no force of law. But transgender rights advocates say it was useful and necessary to protect students from discrimination. Opponents argued it was federal overreach and violated the safety and privacy of other students.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump “has made it clear throughout the campaign that he is a firm believer in states’ rights and that certain issues like this are not best dealt with at the federal level.”
Conservative activists hailed the change, saying the Obama directives were illegal and violated the rights of fixed-gender students, especially girls who did not feel safe changing clothes or using restrooms next to anatomical males.
“Our daughters should never be forced to share private, intimate spaces with male classmates, even if those young men are struggling with these issues,” said Vicki Wilson, a member of Students and Parents for Privacy. “It violates their right to privacy and harms their dignity.”
However, the reversal is a setback for transgender rights groups, which had been urging Trump to keep the guidelines in place. Advocates say federal law will still prohibit discrimination against students based on their gender or sexual orientation.
Still, they say lifting the Obama directive puts children in harm’s way.
“Reversing this guidance tells trans kids that it’s OK with the Trump administration and the Department of Education for them to be abused and harassed at school for being trans,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.
Activists protested the move Wednesday outside the White House. “Respect existence or expect resistance,” read one placard.
Spicer denied media reports that DeVos, who has been criticized for her stance on LGBT issues, had opposed the change but was overruled by Sessions. Spicer said any disagreement was merely over wording and timing.
“There is no daylight between anybody,” Spicer said, adding that DeVos was “100 percent” on board with the decision.
The Obama administration’s guidance was based on its determination that Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education, also applies to gender identity.
While not legally binding, the guidance sent a warning that schools could lose funding if they did not comply.
Republicans pushed back, arguing that the federal effort was an example of Obama administration meddling in state and local matters. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick equated it to blackmail and said his state was ready to forfeit federal education money rather than comply.
Legal experts said the change in position could impact pending court cases involving the federal sex discrimination law, including a case to be heard by the Supreme Court in March involving Gavin Grimm, a transgender teen who was denied bathroom access in Virginia.
The justices could decide not to hear the case and direct lower courts to decide that issue.
In a phone interview with the AP, Grimm said of the Trump action: “It’s not positive. It has the possibility of hurting transgender students and transgender people. We’re going to keep fighting like we have been and keep fighting for the right thing.”
A patchwork of state laws could continue to emerge as a result of the change. Fifteen states have explicit protections for transgender students in their state laws, and many individual school districts in other states have adopted policies that cover 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 access to bathrooms in government-owned buildings to the sex that appears on a person’s birth certificate. Lawmakers in more than 10 states are considering similar legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Associated Press writers Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia, and Todd Richmond in Madison, Wisconsin, contributed to this report.
The post Trump administration lifts transgender bathroom guidance appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Never in my much-travelled life have I boarded a large commercial airliner where the cabin crew outnumbered the fare-paying passengers. To me this encapsulated heaven on Earth for the often poverty-stricken freelance journalist!
To have a choice were I could stretch out over three seats and sleep, as if I was in that fabled—but never quite realized—business class, Valhalla indeed.
I shall call her ‘Tina’— a diminutive sparkly-eyed United Airlines hostess and an uncanny doppelganger for Olivia Newton John with a genuine friendly smile to melt the coldest of cynical hearts.
I asked the effervescent Tina why was this aircraft so empty. She squatted in the aisle, moved a little closer to me, looked over her shoulder in the manner of a co-conspirator and said “I guess no one wants to come to Trump Town anymore, do they?”
Tina, may you never fly close to the sun.
The pundits have spoken a million words and then some.
The television networks have screamed until their lungs have bled with righteous indignation and some with blessings. The national printed press is in seventh heaven with such raw and visceral material given to them on a daily silver platter.
(Mind, you are not alone. We have our own distraction in the United Kingdom in the form of the non-too-eloquently-named Brexit …)
I decided to cut through the media circus of “surrogates” and “alternative facts” swirling around the Trump administration, and talk directly to the denizens of the D.C. swamp.
I asked a random nine visitors and residents of Trump Town alike to tell me in a few words how they felt about the new administration and to allow me to photograph them showing just one simple gesture that sums up their feelings to the new order.
They were the silent, frustrated voices of everyday folk, some sad and angry, some happy and looking forward to President Trump’s vision of new America. Voices clear yet unheard in the raucous cacophony that is now Trump’s America.
The Machlit family from Texas – “Proud approval”
“[Trump’s] policies will help this country. He is determined to keep jobs in America and he supports the right to bear arms, which I wholly agree with. I believe that he will make this country safer and give a voice to those who have felt in the past that they did not. I am very pro the wall, and President Trump is going to keep his promise to build the wall and this will keep America safe.”
The first time protester – “Anger”
Tee Turonda, 47, has been a resident of Washington D.C. all her life. “I am here protesting outside the White House every day in my lunch hour. I have never protested about anything in my life before. I am not an activist, but this man has made me so very angry. That’s it. Angry, just so angry. I just had to get out here. [Trump] is a bully, a racist and a misogynist. I can’t believe that women have voted for him. Why? How could they do that — what were they thinking? I can only hope that this whole circus falls apart.”
The Uber driver – “Uncertainty”
Mohammad, 35, is originally from the Panjshir Valley in Afghanistan, the birthplace of the legendary ‘Lion of the Panjshir,’ Mujahidin leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. He’s been in the U.S. now for four years and currently drives an Uber cab in the District.
In Afghanistan, he worked as a security advisor to the sometimes-controversial U.S. security company Blackwater. Mohammad came to the U.S. on a special immigrant visa and next year hopes to gain his full citizenship. In his spare time, Mohammad is at the Strayer University studying criminal justice administration with the ultimate goal of becoming a D.C. cop.
“I want to serve the country that has given me so much. Truly I want to serve MY country. I feel terrible and uncertain about the future with this new administration. Why are they teaching everyone that all Muslims are terrorists and a threat to America? I think [Trump] is the real threat to America. But I don’t think he will last very long, as every day this administration seems to be involved in a new scandal.”
The Holocaust survivor – “The Finger”
Marione Ingram, 81, came to the U.S. in 1952 and has lived in Washington D.C. since 1961.
“Here in D.C., all sense of reality has vanished — completely gone. These are the same dark days that my parents must have feared in the early 1930s at the slow rise of the Nazi party. There is a real and tangible comparison between Hitler’s Germany and this administration. A demonizing of Muslims, immigrants, and Mexicans. Mix this in with a spineless Congress and the checks and balances that are supposed the keep this fool in check are crumbling.”
I asked Marione if she was given an audience with President Trump, what would she say to him? She replied: “Please resign and take everyone with you. That is all.”
The Humanitarian – “All this political noise gives me a terrible headache”
Vanessa is a manager of institutional giving for a well known non-profit in D.C.
“I am so frustrated that we are not going forward. We are just going backwards, we now have a very twisted version of democracy. Democracy has become the first casualty in this new administration. I never felt discriminated before as a Mexican living in the U.S., never — but now I do.
We are not rapists and drug dealers or ‘bad hombres.’ It makes me so mad, I have no respect for [Trump] at all. My concern is that some executive order will be put in place that will somehow stop me working or studying here in the U.S. Nothing in this administration makes any sense. I want to ask him where all this hate comes from.
All the political noise now just gives me a headache. [Trump] is just a clown.”
The Park Ranger – “Refer to the boss, Abraham Lincoln”
Robert Herendeen, 58, is a park ranger at the Lincoln Memorial.
“America needs to rediscover its hope and learn to heal its divisions. The American people are anxious to move forward, not backwards.”
The Grandmother – “Love”
Pat Dill from Texas with her 6-year-old grandson, Sam, proudly supports President Trump.
“He is our new president, we must give him a chance. I don’t agree with all his policies. I don’t expect I would agree with all the policies of any new president. I don’t agree with a physical wall, but I do agree with much closer monitoring of who does come into this country. I am from a military family and we serve our country regardless, but as I say we must give [Trump] a chance.”
The Californian with a mission. – “Fed up”
Wendy Schulc, 50, from Oak Park, California is protesting with her 6-month-old puppy, Reinhart.
“I have come to Washington, D.C. with Reinhart to protest at the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. I can’t get near him or the White House, so I am taking Reinhart to the Trump International hotel here in D.C. to let him pee on the steps. This is our protest.
I voted for Hilary [Clinton], as she was just so much better qualified. I can’t believe what Trump is doing, I can’t believe it. I am so embarrassed at the demeaning things he says to people, women, immigrants and you, the media — he hates you. And alternative facts, what’s that? Just a name for lies. I can’t think of any one thing I like about him — not one. I’m sorry.”
The Secret Service policeman on duty outside the White House – “Polite, no comment”
Question: “What do you think of the present administration?”
Answer: “I cannot comment, Sir. We have a department for that.”
All photos by Sebastian Rich.
MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s mounting unease and resentment over President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown are looming over a gathering of U.S. and Mexican leaders that the U.S. had hoped would project a strong future for relations between neighbors.
There is no shortage of tension points as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly meet Thursday with top Mexican officials. After all, it’s Kelly who’s tasked with executing Trump’s plan to target millions for possible deportation, and Tillerson who must explain it to the rest of the world.
As the pair arrived in Mexico City, the two countries seemed much farther apart than their close geographical proximity would suggest.
“I think Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Kelly are going to have a great discussion down there,” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer. He called the relationship “phenomenal.”
But while Spicer said the officials would “talk through the implementation of the executive order,” Mexico made clear it intended to do nothing of the sort.
“I want to say clearly and most emphatically that the Mexican government and the Mexican people have no reason to accept unilateral decisions imposed by one government on another,” said Mexico’s foreign relations secretary, Luis Videgaray. “We are not going to accept that, because we don’t have to.”
Videgaray added a cryptic but pointed warning that Mexico wouldn’t hesitate to challenge the U.S. move at the United Nations or other global venues.
The visiting Americans planned to meet Thursday with Videgaray before a working lunch with Mexican officials and a formal meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
The worsening rift over deportations and illegal immigration adds to an array of disputes that have sent U.S.-Mexico relations plunging since Trump took office a month ago. Trump’s insistence that Mexico pay billions for a border wall led Pena Nieto to cancel a planned Washington visit. Mexican officials are also apprehensive over Trump’s pledge to overhaul the trade relationship and possible apply steep taxes to Mexican products, a move with profound impacts for Mexico’s export-heavy economy.
New immigration enforcement memos signed by Kelly this week call for sending send some immigrants who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally back into Mexico — even those from third countries who have no connection to Mexico. The memos also prioritize deportation for anyone charged or convicted of any crime, rather than just serious crimes, potentially subjecting millions in the U.S. illegally to deportation, including many Mexicans.
Those policies have raised fears in Mexico about the possibility of deportee and refugee camps emerging along Mexico’s northern border. Mexican officials are also likely to seek answers about whether a forthcoming report ordered by Trump’s administration that will list all current U.S. aid to Mexico is intended to threaten Mexico into compliance over immigration or the wall.
Dismayed by the deteriorating relations, six Democratic senators urged Tillerson and Kelly to strike a more cooperative tone than Trump.
“We urge you to use your visit to disavow vitriolic rhetoric and forge a strong partnership based on mutual respect with the government of Mexico,” the senators wrote in an open letter to be released Thursday.
Kelly arrived in the Mexican capital from Guatemala on a visit intended to deter Guatemalans from trying to enter the U.S. illegally. Though Kelly promised “there will be no mass roundups,” he acknowledged that those caught will be removed from the U.S. much more quickly than in the past.
“My best advice is to not do it,” he said.
The post U.S., Mexico at odds over deportation as top officials meet appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Structures built with municipal bonds stand out in this city. There is the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, and new parking garages for a revitalized restaurant and apartment district. Sleek, futuristic water towers loom on the edge of town and new modern pumps hum at the water plant where the oldest structures date to 1906.
Nationwide, the “muni bond” market has funded $1.65 trillion worth of projects for cities and other governments over the past decade. The borrowed money has paid for schools, roads, water and sewer systems, airports, bridges and other vital infrastructure.
“These aren’t shiny baubles. These are essential infrastructure,” said Democratic Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, who is in his second term. “This is a sacrosanct part of our taxing policy that has been in existence since 1913.”
But some Republicans on Capitol Hill want to end the tax-exempt status of muni bonds as part of broader changes to the federal tax code. That has many state and local officials worried.
A city’s ability to borrow depends on investors’ willingness to lend it money by purchasing bonds. And the tax-exempt status of muni bonds is part of what makes them so attractive to investors, especially high-income taxpayers looking to reduce their tax bills.
But exempting the bonds from federal taxes is projected to cost the U.S. Department of the Treasury as much as $617 billion in revenue over the next decade, according to the Tax Foundation, an independent tax analysis group. To many in Washington, recouping that money makes the tax exemption a tempting target.
U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican, said at a Heritage Foundation event in December that he thinks there’s “merit” to eliminating the deduction as part of a broader tax policy makeover that would lower rates. “The added benefit here is that the federal tax code will no longer subsidize higher taxes at the local level,” Brady said.
House Republicans released a tax policy blueprint last year that proposed eliminating most itemized deductions, including those taken for interest earned on municipal bonds. The proposal would keep intact deductions for mortgage interest and charitable giving. They are now drafting a new version of the plan.
A meeting with Trump
Even though they are called “municipal” bonds, states and other entities such as school districts and water authorities also rely on them. In 2016, there were $423.8 billion in new municipal bond sales, which include bonds issued by state authorities, water and sewer districts, local authorities, municipalities, counties, and colleges and universities.
The tax-free bonds come in three varieties. Most municipal bonds used to finance infrastructure projects are “general obligation” bonds, which means the governmental body that issues them puts its “full faith and credit” behind them. In other words, the city or county issuing the bonds pledges that its taxpayers will pay them off, no matter what happens. Cities and counties also issue “revenue bonds,” which they pay back using fees, such as tolls or public utility fees. Then there are “private activity” bonds, which are used mostly for housing and are secured by mortgages.
Shortly before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Benjamin and other mayors of cities large and small met with the incoming president, who assured them that he opposed taxing any of the types of bonds. “He said he understood and would be fully supportive” of the tax-free bonds, said Larry Jones, assistant executive director of the nonpartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors. “However, we have yet to see how he would treat tax-exempt bonds in any budget proposal or tax reform proposal. We’ve been making our case on the Hill.”
Governors also have expressed support for keeping the bonds tax-exempt. “Municipal bonds remain a critical tool to financing the construction or improvement of schools, streets, highways, hospitals, bridges, water and sewer systems, ports, airports and other public works,” the National Governors Association said in a statement earlier this month.
Despite Trump’s assurances, muni-bond supporters have reason to be wary. During the presidential campaign, Trump’s economic advisers Peter Navarro and Wilbur Ross (since nominated to be secretary of commerce) questioned the wisdom of relying on tax-exempt bonds to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, as Trump has pledged to do. Instead, they suggested awarding federal tax credits to private firms to do the work. The tax credits might not replace municipal bonds, but they could crowd the market for infrastructure investing.
A traditional target
Muni bonds also came under fire during the last major revision of the federal tax code, in 1986.
Frank Shafroth, director of the State and Local Government Leadership Center at George Mason University, was the National League of Cities’ director of federal relations during that debate. In a recent interview, he recalled the mad scramble to keep muni bonds tax-exempt as President Ronald Reagan and Republicans in Congress sought to eliminate or scale back the exemption.
Shafroth said awarding tax credits to private firms, as Trump’s economic advisers have proposed, “would not help with the vast number of projects” because, he said, those tax credits would most likely go to big, new projects, where they would be worth the most to private companies, not smaller efforts like road repair or school reconstruction.
Elizabeth Kautz, the mayor of Burnsville, Minnesota, just south of Minneapolis, emphasized that her city relies on municipal bonds to pay for street repaving and other basic maintenance, not to build shiny new stuff.
“It’s not like you do it once and it’s done,” Kautz said. “There are always improvements and maintenance you have to do.” She said the city has a fiduciary responsibility to citizens to make these improvements and to issue the bonds to finance them.
But critics of muni bonds argue that they make borrowing money for infrastructure projects so easy that some cities and towns unnecessarily construct things. If the cities had to pay outright, there would be more discretion on what projects to fund, the theory goes.
Scott Greenberg, an analyst at the Tax Foundation, said muni bonds may encourage cities to “overinvest in infrastructure, particularly if states and localities are also able to shift their tax burdens onto nonresidents.” That shift occurs when nonresidents buy the municipal bonds.
“The subsidy goes to fund both projects that would have been funded no matter what, and projects that would not have been funded without the subsidy,” Greenberg said. “It’s the second category we should be at least a little wary of.”
This story was produced by Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
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WASHINGTON — For the past eight years, thousands of conservative activists have descended on Washington each spring with dreams of putting a Republican in the White House.
They finally have one, but they are not sure he’s really conservative.
With Donald Trump’s presidential victory, the future of the conservative movement has become entwined with an unconventional New York businessman better known for his deal-making than any ideological principles.
It’s an uneasy marriage of political convenience at best. Some conservatives worry whether they can trust their new president to follow decades of orthodoxy on issues like international affairs, small government, abortion and opposition to expanded legal protections for LGBT Americans — and what it means for their movement if he doesn’t.
“Donald Trump may have come to the Republican Party in an unconventional and circuitous route, but the fact is that we now need him to succeed lest the larger conservative project fails,” said evangelical leader Ralph Reed, who mobilized his organization to campaign for Trump during the campaign. “Our success is inextricably tied to his success.”
Trump is to address the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday morning. Vice President Mike Pence is to speak Thursday, as are White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and senior advisers Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.
As conservatives filtered into their convention hall Wednesday for their annual gathering, many said they still have nagging doubts about Trump even as they cheer his early actions. Social conservatives were thrilled by a Wednesday night decision to reverse an Obama-era directive that said transgender students should be allowed to use public school bathrooms and locker rooms matching their chosen gender identity.
“He’s said that on multiple occasions that he’s not a conservative, especially socially,” said Zach Weidlich, a junior at the University of South Alabama, “but my mindset was, give him a chance, especially now that he’s elected.'”
“He was the better of two evils given the choice,” said Timmy Finn. “I agree with his policies, however, I think he’s moving a little too fast.”
Trump has a somewhat tortured history with CPAC, an annual convention that’s part ideological pep talk, part political boot camp for activists. Over the past six years, he’s been both booed and cheered. He’s rejected speaking slots and galvanized attendees with big promises of economic growth and electoral victory.
At times, he has seemed to delight in taunting them.
“I’m a conservative, but don’t forget: This is called the Republican Party, not the Conservative Party,” he said in a May interview on ABC’s “This Week.”
Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC, said Trump’s aggressive style is more important than ideological purity.
“Conservatives weren’t looking for somebody who knew how to explain all the philosophies. They were actually looking for somebody who would just fight,” he said. “Can you think of anybody in America who fits that bill more than Donald Trump?”
The tensions between Trump’s brand of populist politics and conservative ideology will be on full display at the three-day conference, which features panels like “Conservatives: Where we come from, where we are and where we are going” and “The Alt-Right Ain’t Right At All.”
Along with Trump come his supporters, including the populists, party newcomers and nationalists that have long existed on the fringes of conservativism and have gotten new voice during the early days of his administration.
Pro-Brexit British politician Nigel Farage will speak a few hours after Trump.
Organizers invited provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos after protesters at the University of California at Berkeley protested to stop his appearance on campus. But the former editor at Breitbart News, the website previously run by Bannon, was disinvited this week after video clips surfaced in which he appeared to defend sexual relationships between men and boys as young as 13.
Trump “is giving rise to a conservative voice that for the first time in a long time unabashedly, unapologetically puts America first,” said Republican strategist Hogan Gidley. “That ‘America First’ moniker can very well shape this country, but also the electorate and the Republican Party and conservative movement for decades.”
Trump’s early moves — including a flurry of executive orders and his nomination of federal Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court — have cheered conservatives. They’ve also applauded his Cabinet picks, which include some of the most conservative members of Congress. The ACU awarded his team a 91.52 percent conservative rating — 28 points higher than Ronald Reagan and well above George H.W. Bush who received a 78.15 rating.
But key items on the conservative wish list remain shrouded in uncertainty. The effort to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law is not moving as quickly as many hoped, and Republicans also have yet to coalesce around revamping the nation’s tax code.
No proposals have surfaced to pursue Trump’s campaign promises to build a border wall with Mexico that could cost $15 billion or more or to buttress the nation’s infrastructure with a $1 trillion plan. Conservatives fear that those plans could result in massive amounts of new spending and that Trump’s penchant for deal-making could leave them on the wrong side of the transaction.
“There is wariness,” said Tim Phillips, president of Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity.
But with a Republican-controlled Congress, others believe there’s no way to lose.
“He sits in a room with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. Is there a bad a deal to be made with those three in the room?” asked veteran anti-tax activist Grover Norquist. “A deal between those three will, I think, always make me happy.”
Associated Press writer Steve Peoples contributed to this report from New York.
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Wally Pfingsten has always been a news junkie. But since President Donald Trump was elected, he’s been so anxious about the political tumult that even just having the TV news on in the background at home is unbearable.
“It’s been crippling,” said the 35-year-old San Mateo, Calif., resident and political moderate who has supported both Democratic and Republican candidates in the past. “I feel angry, really, really angry, far more angry than I expected to be.”
He’s tried hard to quell his anxiety. First, he shut down his Facebook page to limit his exposure to the daily soaking of news from Washington. But not knowing the goings-on made him anxious, too. He found himself sneaking onto the Facebook account he made for his dog. “I felt like I was cheating,” he said.
Pfingsten is not alone in his politics-induced anxiety — it’s so common it’s been given an unofficial name: Post-Election Stress Disorder. Mental health professionals around the country, especially those working in Democratic strongholds, report a stream of patients coming in with anxiety and depression related to — or worsened by — the blast of daily news on the new administration.
In the past, therapists say it’s been fairly uncommon for patients to bring up politics on the couch. “It is big money to talk about politics with me ― that is not what we do!” said Maria Lymberis, a psychiatrist in Santa Monica, Calif.
But that was before “fake news,” “alternative facts,” “repeal and replace,” contested confirmations, travel bans, protests and suits over travel bans, suspicions about Russian influence and the departures of the acting attorney general and the new national security adviser. Among other things.
Requests for therapy appointments to Talkspace, an online therapy portal based in New York City, tripled immediately following the election and have remained high through January, according to the company. In particular, Talkspace has seen a steady increase in requests from minorities, including Muslim-Americans, African-Americans, Jews, gays and lesbians.
“In my 28 years in practice, I’ve never seen anything like this level of stress,” said Nancy Molitor, a psychologist in the Chicago suburbs. She says the vast majority of her patients — from millennials to those in their 80s — are bringing up politics in their therapy sessions. “What we’re seeing now after the inauguration is a huge uptick in anxiety.”
Many of her patients say they are having trouble sleeping and focusing at work or are fighting more with family members, she said.
“I have people who’ve told me they’re in mourning, that they’ve lost their libido,” Molitor said. “I have people saying the anxiety is causing them to be so distracted that they’re blowing through stop signs or getting into fender benders.”
The anxiety appears to be widespread. Fifty-seven percent of Americans report that the current political climate is a very or somewhat significant source of stress, and 40 percent say the same about the outcome of the election, according to an online survey of 1,019 adults conducted by the American Psychological Association after the inauguration. Between August 2016 and January 2017, the overall average stress level increased significantly for the first time since the Stress in America survey began 10 years ago.
And it’s not Democrats: a quarter of Republicans report that the outcome of election is a significant source of stress for them.
“I’m seeing lot of anxiety and anger on both sides,” says Elaine DuCharme, a psychologist in Glastonbury, Conn. “People who are Republicans are afraid to tell anyone. They’re afraid that everybody thinks that every Republican thinks exactly as Trump does, and support every single thing he does.”
She says some of her patients are particularly concerned about maintaining civil relationships with friends and loved ones who have different political opinions. “People are walking on eggshells,” DuCharme said.
Karri King, 56, who lives in Buckeye, Ariz., and voted for Trump, says her experiences on social media have left her feeling sad and hopeless. “There’s so much negative from all these stupid Facebook posts acting like the world is going to end. And it’s false. And I can’t do a thing about it.”
King said she’s tried to engage civilly with people online who disagree with her, but “every time [Republicans] turn around, we’re bashed.”
When you say “a bunch of idiots” voted Trump in, “you’re talking about half of all Americans! We were hopeful at first, and now we’re angry and tired of being blamed,” said King. “Nobody wants to listen anymore, and that’s where my sadness comes from.”
Of course, in some parts of the country, especially those that are overwhelmingly Republican and outside big cities, people seem relieved if not uplifted by the new president’s flurry of executive orders and appointments.
Kristin Addison-Brown, a psychologist in rural Jonesboro, Ark., says before the election, some of her patients were voicing concerns about a possible Clinton victory. But since then, “it’s pretty much been crickets for my patients. They got their guy, so they’re not stressed anymore.”
Nancy Cottle, a Trump supporter in Mesa, Ariz., has been riding high since the election. “We got to go to the inauguration, and, oh, it was a wonderful experience! We got to go to the Trump hotel and have breakfast and then lunch there, and it was just great. The inauguration itself was very inspiring.”
Cottle, 64, has been struggling to understand the public outcry about Trump. “It’s like the sky is falling ― but a lot of that is just drama,” she said. “I feel encouraged, I feel hopeful. I can’t wait to wake up and see what the day’s going to bring and what else is going to happen.”
That same daily dose of news ― and the uncertainty of what will happen next ― rattles many Trump opponents. But, like Pfingsten, they can’t seem to quit their news consumption cold turkey.
“Part of the brain wants to know what’s going on, and you’re drawn to watching CNN or reading the news. And then the other part of you is saying no, no, this isn’t good for me!” says Molitor, the Chicago psychologist. “It’s unfortunately like driving by a car accident ― they know it’s not good for them [to gawk], but it’s hard to stop.”
Molitor recommends patients stay engaged but limit the time they spend on Facebook or watching the news. Focus instead on other things you enjoy, she advises ― calling a friend, taking a walk or reading a book.
“I never read the Harry Potter books, so I’m reading Harry Potter,” says Matthew Leal, a 34-year-old San Francisco resident who found himself sinking into a depression after the election. “Someone could see this and say I’m being totally escapist right now, but I feel like it’s kind of what I need.”
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can view the original report on its website.
Humans are born with around 15,000 hair cells — think tiny, sound-sensing fibers — in each ear.
The cells can’t regenerate, though. Over time, loud noises, certain medications, and chemotherapy can kill them off and cause hearing loss. But scientists working with a mouse model and a donated cochlea have found a possible way to regenerate hair cells.
Here’s what biomedical engineer Jeff Karp of Brigham and Women’s Hospital said about the work, published in Cell Reports.
How do hair cells work?
The hair cells aren’t actually hair. They’re actually cells that have these cilia that move and what happens is that they’re able to detect sound. The hair cell converts that sound to an electrical signal, which connects to a neuron, which then signals sound to the brain. The hair cells are in the inner ear, which is also where the cochlea is. The cochlea is like a spiral. You have high frequency when you first enter, and it spirals until you get to low frequencies. That’s why when people have hearing loss, it affects the high frequencies first, because it’s closest.
Where did you turn to study hair cell regeneration?
We started in the intestine because it’s the most regenerative tissue in the human body. The entire lining of the intestine regenerates every four or five days. In the lining of the intestine, there’s a stem cell that’s really the workhorse making all the cell types in the epithelium. We spent some time trying to understand that biology and developing drug combinations that could target that cell to expand the numbers of the cells and control the differentiation.
How did that translate to cells in the ear?
We started looking to see there were similar regenerative cells in the body, and found these progenitor cells that are the precursor of hair cells. We took the molecules we used in the intestine and used them in inner ear and it worked. We were able to proliferate progenitor cells. Those progenitors could form hair cells, which were bona fide, functional hair cells. We did this in very young mice and adult mice. We also had a patient who had a tumor near the cochlea and we tested it on those cochlear cells, which expanded, too.
This article is reproduced with permission from STAT. It was first published on Feb. 22, 2017. Find the original story here.
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Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks at 12:50 p.m. EST Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, the annual gathering that draws an estimated 10,000 activists to National Harbor in Maryland.
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White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and President Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon will hold a discussion, moderated by American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp, at 1:05 p.m. EST Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor in Maryland.
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President Donald Trump’s vice president and top aides delivered one overriding message Thursday to the thousands of conservative activists gathered for their annual conference outside of Washington: Don’t blow it.
Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Vice President Mike Pence said Trump’s victory provided the nation with what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to install conservative solutions to the nation’s problems.
“This is the chance we’ve worked so hard, for so long, to see. This is the time to prove again that our answers are the right answers for America,” Pence said.
The vice president said the Trump administration would soon take aim at the sweeping health care law approved under former President Barack Obama, saying the nation’s “Obamacare nightmare is about to end.” He said Republicans would implement a new plan and would have “an orderly transition to a better health care system.”
Watch Pence’s remarks in the player above.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to speak at the conference Friday.
Earlier, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus pleaded for patience and unity, urging activists not to squander the Republican Party’s control of both chambers of Congress and the White House. Trump adviser Steve Bannon made his case for a governing strategy based on aggressive deregulation and an “economic nationalism” in negotiating new free trade deals.
“What you’ve got is an incredible opportunity to use this victory,” Priebus said. Some of Trump’s plans for creating jobs and putting more money in people’s pockets will take time, he said. “We’ve got to stick together and make sure we have President Trump for eight years.”
Priebus’ pleas acknowledged conservatives’ underlying skepticism about the new president, a former Democrat who in the past has elicited boos at the conference. Trump has often suggested he doesn’t prioritize the social issues many conservatives elevate, and his proposal for a massive infrastructure bill has cast doubts about his commitment to curb government spending.
But with a Republican in the White House for the first time in eight years, many activists say they feel energized and more than willing to give him a chance.
Many in the audience chanted “Trump! Trump! Trump!” as Bannon and Priebus made a joint appearance on stage. The duo’s chummy joint interview seemed designed to refute media reports that they do not get along and are occasionally working at cross-purposes in a factionalized White House.
Priebus presented their partnership as evidence that conservatives and Trump supporters can work together.
“The truth of the matter is Donald Trump, President Trump, brought together the party and the conservative movement,” he said. “If the party and the conservative movement are together, similar to Steve and I, it can’t be stopped.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged the activists to “engage” and “be loud” in the face of politicians who stand in the way of changing the education system.
“We have a unique window of opportunity to make school choice a reality” for millions for families, she said.
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President Donald Trump brought two dozen manufacturing CEOs to the White House on Thursday and declared their collective commitment to restoring factory jobs lost to foreign competition.
Yet some of the CEOs suggested that there were still plenty of openings for U.S. factory jobs but too few qualified people to fill them. They urged the White House to support vocational training for the high-tech skills that today’s manufacturers increasingly require — a topic Trump has seldom addressed.
“The jobs are there, but the skills are not,” one executive said during meetings with White House officials that preceded a session with the president. (Reporters were permitted to attend the meetings on the condition of not quoting individual executives by name.)
The discussion of job training and worker skills is a relatively new one for Trump, who campaigned for the White House on promises to restore manufacturing jobs that he said had been lost to flawed trade deals and unfair competition from countries like Mexico and China.
Again and again, Trump brought up that theme in his meeting with the CEOs.
“Everything is going to be based on bringing our jobs back,” Trump said. “The good jobs, the real jobs. They’ve left.”
White House officials said Trump heard the CEOs’ concerns about a shortage of qualified workers and said he supports efforts to increase training for factory jobs. But they didn’t provide details.
“We were challenged by the president to … come up with a program to make sure the American worker is trained for the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow,” Reed Cordish, a White House official, said after Thursday’s meetings.
Trump officials said the meetings were intended to provide the White House with ideas in four areas: taxes and trade; regulatory reform; infrastructure; and the “workforce of the future,” including advanced training. Proposed solutions may be included in future presidential executive orders or legislative proposals, a White House official said.
The gathering occurred amid the same kind of jovially informal atmosphere that has prevailed in several meetings Trump has held with CEOs in the four weeks since his inauguration. Most of the executives thanked the president for reaching out to them, and several expressed gratitude for his interest in meeting them face to face.
“All the CEOs are very encouraged by the pro-business policies of President Trump,” Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical, said afterward outside the White House. “Some of us have said this is probably the most pro-business administration since the Founding Fathers.”
One executive said in discussions with White House officials that his company has 50 participants in a factory apprenticeship program, but could take 500 if enough were qualified. But he said that in his experience, most students coming out of high school lack the math and English skills to absorb technical manuals.
Some economists argue that businesses should offer higher pay and adopt more training if they can’t find the workers they need. Higher pay would draw more young people into the field.
In the meantime, some data supports the CEOs’ concerns about the shortage of qualified applicants. Government figures show there are 324,000 open factory jobs nationwide — triple the number in 2009, during the depths of the recession.
Separately, a senior White House official said several U.S. manufacturing CEOs pushed for a contentious proposed tax on imports during their meeting with Trump. The tax, known as a “border adjustment,” would also exclude exports from taxation. House Republican leaders are pushing it as part of a corporate tax reform.
The tax has divided the business community. The official says concern was expressed by some of the 24 CEOs in the meeting, particularly those who rely on imported goods.
The border-adjusted tax is strongly opposed by large retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target, who argue that they could end up paying more in taxes than they earn in profits. The official was not authorized to discuss a closed-door meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: But first: the second of a two-part look at the declining life expectancy for some middle-aged white Americans.
Last week, economics correspondent Paul Solman examined the role prescription painkillers and alcohol may play in the trend.
Tonight, he explores how the economy and the job market may be involved.
Its part of our weekly series Making Sense, which airs Thursdays.
PAUL SOLMAN: The Hardee’s in Maysville, Kentucky, a popular hangout for the senior set.
Martin Sauer used to work for the sheriff’s department, where he says he saw his share of Saturday night drunks, but nothing like the current opioid drug epidemic.
MARTIN SAUER, Kentucky: People get hooked on it and can’t get off of it, or don’t want to, causing a lot of younger generation to lose their lives.
PAUL SOLMAN: And by younger generation, Sauer means his middle-aged neighbors, who, as we reported last week, are experiencing a stunning rise in premature deaths due to alcoholism, suicide and drug abuse. But why?
ANGUS DEATON, Economist: The health crisis here is particularly among white working-class or white people with a high school and no more. For those people, the economy’s been very hard for a very long time.
PAUL SOLMAN: Predictably, Angus Deaton and Anne Case, economists who have documented the dramatic decrease in life expectancy, say an obvious place to look for a cause is the economy.
ANNE CASE, Economist: It used to be, with a high school degree, you could get a job, that actually could provide for your family. And the disappearance of those may lead people to feel a lot more stressed.
PAUL SOLMAN: Indeed, in the period covered by their study, 1999-2014, inflation-adjusted income for households headed by a high school graduate fell by 19 percent.
Well away from the Ivory Tower, on the ground in Maysville, Wayne Pendleton has lived the change.
WAYNE PENDLETON, Kentucky: Maysville, when we moved here, was a pretty well flourishing little town right here. But we have lived here, what, 17 years? And you can just name the stuff that’s left here. You can’t take a job away from a guy 55 years old and expect him to start all over again.
SHERMAN SAUNDERS, Kentucky: Even at my age, it’s depressing if you’re not trying to do something.
PAUL SOLMAN: Despite four heart attacks, Sherman Saunders still wants to work.
SHERMAN SAUNDERS: That’s not someone else’s responsibility to take care of the family. It’s supposed to be yours. You have to go to work to do that yourself.
MARCY CONNER, Nurse: Most of the men aren’t working.
PAUL SOLMAN: Marcy Conner, a nurse specializing in substance abuse, has a close-up view of the downward spiral.
MARCY CONNER: All of a sudden, you lose your job. So, here is a male with no identity. He’s not working. He’s supposed to be a provider for his family. He can’t even do that. So that low self-worth, along with that hopelessness feeling, we start seeing tremendous depression.
So, how do you relieve depression? You can relieve it with drug use, alcohol use, or suicide.
PAUL SOLMAN: Conner’s own husband died of alcohol poisoning.
MARCY CONNER: Poured alcohol down his feeding tube until he died.
PAUL SOLMAN: The husband of best friend Becky Manning also killed himself.
BECKY MANNING, Widow: He blew his head off.
PAUL SOLMAN: Joseph Manning had been a truck driver for 30 years.
BECKY MANNING: And then he retired at 55, which then gave him nothing to do.
Then he started getting depressed. And then we would go to different doctors, and then they would just try different drugs. And those never worked, because they caused side effects, which made him feel worse about himself.
PAUL SOLMAN: Right, weight gain?
BECKY MANNING: Yes, he gained weight.
PAUL SOLMAN: Libido?
BECKY MANNING: Absolutely, where I’m worthless. I can’t be here for my wife, you know?
PAUL SOLMAN: So when you hear about the end of work, the jobs, like truck driving jobs …
BECKY MANNING: Right.
PAUL SOLMAN: … which will be replaced by…
BECKY MANNING: Absolutely.
PAUL SOLMAN: … self driving cars, you think?
BECKY MANNING: What are these men going to do? Yes.
MARCY CONNER: In this next generation, I think you’re going to see the death rate continue to climb.
PAUL SOLMAN: Local doctor Craig Denham buys into the economic hypothesis.
DR. WILLIAM CRAIG DENHAM, Family Physician: Economics is a major component. Job availability is a major component.
PAUL SOLMAN: So, case closed. Economics explains the epidemic of suicide and overdose deaths ravaging America’s white working-class.
Not so fast, say Case and Deaton.
ANNE CASE: Because Europeans have suffered too in this — the jobs leaving the country, but we don’t see them killing themselves.
ANGUS DEATON: Yes, you know, Spain suffered. The unemployment rate went from 5 percent to like 25 percent. And the health improved.
PAUL SOLMAN: And what about working-class black Americans?
ANNE CASE: African-Americans’ rates of death from suicide, drug overdose and alcohol have been flat. They have not risen.
DARRICK HAMILTON, Economist: It’s not as if stress is something new to the black American population. We have been dealing with stress for quite a long time.
PAUL SOLMAN: Economist Darrick Hamilton.
DARRICK HAMILTON: The impact of stress is not new, so that’s why you’re probably not seeing an uptick the way it is for whites. We’re used to struggle, unfortunately.
ANGUS DEATON: And also there’s this argument on the other side that whites have been ahead for so long that, when they see their world coming apart, even though they’re still doing much better than blacks, then they see equalization as oppression.
ROBERT FRANK, Economist: The group that they studied is one that has, by almost every concrete measure, been falling behind in recent decades.
PAUL SOLMAN: Economist Bob Frank has devoted much of his career to the study of inequality.
ROBERT FRANK: Life is graded on the curve. It’s not how well you do in absolute terms. It’s how well you do relative to your competitors.
PAUL SOLMAN: Or relative to your own past.
ROBERT FRANK: And if you’re in a chronic loser position, I think that’s a position that just wears people down eventually.
PAUL SOLMAN: Psychologically and physiologically, as low status is linked to decreased serotonin in the brain, which can cause dysphoria, a state of intense unease and distress.
ROBERT FRANK: If you’re exposed to having low status in a chronic way and experiencing protracted feelings of dysphoria, it’s not surprising that many people would turn to drink and drugs as a way to alleviate such feelings.
PAUL SOLMAN: In fact, according to a recent study by
economist Alan Krueger, middle-aged men who have dropped out of the labor force report notably low levels of emotional well-being, and more than half take pain medication every day.
ANGUS DEATON: And so, if you suffer enough, and your kids are not doing very well, and the world’s going to hell in a handbasket, then suicide, either directly or through painkillers or alcohol, might seem like a not completely crazy thing to do.
PAUL SOLMAN: There is, we should acknowledge, another take on the rise in so-called deaths of despair.
ANTHONY FLANNERY, Kentucky: I don’t buy into the everything fell apart, so now I just — I can’t do nothing. I still believe in the American dream.
PAUL SOLMAN: Anthony Flannery, who works long hours in health care, and on funding his dream of making music full-time, doesn’t dispute the data. He just doesn’t think they provide an excuse or even much of an explanation.
ANTHONY FLANNERY: So people that lay around and give up, I don’t relate to it. It’s like, OK, I can understand getting knocked down, and now you, oh, I don’t know what to do. I’m overwhelmed.
I get that. I have been there countless times. But you have to get focused, pick yourself up, find a direction, and make it happen in your life and for your family.
PAUL SOLMAN: But if the problem is a decline in moral fiber, what would explain that? Too easy access to remedies that seem to cure all problems, until they become the problem themselves, or, longer term, the deteriorating economics of white working-age America, relative to any and all expectations?
For the PBS NewsHour, economics correspondent Paul Solman, reporting from Kentucky.
The post How the feeling of falling behind fuels deadly distress for white Americans appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: As we saw earlier, President Trump’s top advisers presented a picture of unity at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, in Maryland today.
Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, dismissed the notion of any clashing ideologies within the president’s inner circle.
To discuss, we are joined by former NPR CEO Ken Stern. He profiled Steve Bannon for Vanity Fair. And Phil Rucker, he’s White House bureau chief for The Washington Post.
And we welcome both of you to the NewsHour.
I’m going to start with you, Ken Stern.
Fill out — since you have written about him, fill out the picture of who Steve Bannon is and especially what does he believe?
KEN STERN, Former CEO, NPR: So, Steve — just little bit of background about Steve Bannon.
He was a Goldman Sachs banker, got wealthy doing media deals. Got into conservative media doing documentaries and met Andrew Breitbart, became sort of friend and counsel to him. And then, when Andrew died, he took over Breitbart.
And he transformed Breitbart. When Andrew Breitbart ran it, it was a site that made a lot of noise, attacked a lot of people in what he — what Andrew Breitbart called the complex, the Democratic Hollywood activists.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
KEN STERN: And then — but Steve Bannon turned it into a — really a political movement, a populist, nationalist political movement that I think Donald Trump eventually rode to power.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Phil Rucker, as somebody who is covering the White House, now, how much of that nationalist, populist movement has Steve Bannon brought to the White House?
PHILIP RUCKER, The Washington Post: All of it. You can point to many of the acts that President Trump has taken in his first month in office, and it’s that agenda, it’s that ideology.
And it’s not so much that Bannon is a puppeteer here. I think it’s more that Bannon and Trump are soul mates ideologically. They both have the same views, the same beliefs about this sort of populism and nationalism and upending the kind of world institutions and structures that we have become accustomed to in the post-World War II era. And you see it on domestic policy, on trade, on economic moves, and also certainly in the foreign policy world.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Ken Stern, so spell it out for us.
Today, we heard Steve Bannon use the term economic nationalism. He talked at one point about the deconstruction of the administrative state. What is he saying he wants to do?
KEN STERN: I think he wants to change the neo-liberal world order away from free trade, away from open borders.
It’s America first. It is a philosophy built on the notion that virtue lies with the people, and the establishment has stabbed the people in the back. And he wants to change that world.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re saying, yes, Phil Rucker.
PHILIP RUCKER: That’s exactly right.
And it’s interesting the language that Bannon used. These are not terms that we often hear in the political mainstream. And, in fact, some of the words like globalist, corporatist are terms you hear on the political left, like the Bernie Sanders campaign.
But this is a really different kind of movement here. It’s not traditional Republicanism. It’s nationalism, it’s populism, it’s changing the structures and the way things work politically and economically in the world and here at home.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Phil Rucker, staying with you, they did, as we were reporting earlier, try to paint a portrait of unity today.
PHILIP RUCKER: That’s right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You would think that Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon were the dearest friends from way back.
What has it really been like inside the White House with them?
PHILIP RUCKER: Well, it’s changed a little bit.
I think early on in the White House, there were these competing power structures that President Trump set up on purpose, Bannon as chief strategist, Reince Priebus as chief of staff. And we were getting reports of some tension, not only between them, but among their allies within the administration.
But that seems to have cooled off a bit. There was a point a couple of weeks in where President Trump told all of his aides in the Oval Office, look, Reince Priebus is in charge, he is the chief of staff, the process runs through him.
And I think Bannon has adapted to that. And Bannon is more the ideas guy, the strategist, the person kind of coming up with the grand plan, whereas Reince Priebus is the one implementing it and orchestrating the process and dealing with kind of the hour-to-hour, day-by-day activities of the White House.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Ken Stern, so based on what you know about Steve Bannon, how do you see him operating in this White House? Because, as we heard Phil Rucker say, he and the president see eye to eye on a lot.
So, how does he make his influence felt?
KEN STERN: Well, I tend to think — so, I agree with Phil.
I tend to think of Bannon as the chief ideologist of the White House, the ideas guy, the guy who is a political philosopher. You even heard it today, the way they talked. Bannon talked about deconstructing the administrative state. Priebus talked about two-for-one exchanges of regulations.
Bannon is the big idea guy. Priebus is the tactician.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But does that mean that Reince Priebus is going to be prepared to go along with all this agenda that Steve Bannon espouses?
KEN STERN: I think this is very strange bedfellows. You know what they say about politics.
But if you went back to Breitbart, and during the early part of the election, before Bannon joined the campaign, public enemy number one for Breitbart is the Republican establishment. They ran Paul — they supported Paul Nehlen against Speaker Ryan.
They don’t like people — the things that Reince Priebus stands for. So, it’s a very odd collection. And they may — they seem genuinely to get along. They may be just good actors. But there has got to be long-term tension between the establishment and the anti-establishment.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What is your sense of that, Phil Rucker?
You are saying that they seem to be working together better in the last few weeks, but what is the — is there a fear, is there a concern about Bannon having too much influence over the president? How does the rest of the White House staff read him?
PHILIP RUCKER: You know, there is some concern about that, but people have to remember, it’s not just Bannon.
I mean, Bannon is espousing Trump’s views. So if you’re going to war with Bannon, you’re going to war with the president, too. And I think the more traditional Republicans in the White House, even if they have been schooled to think differently about these issues ideologically, and even if they personally might feel something different, this is Trump’s belief.
It’s his agenda. It’s his world view. It’s the things that he is trying to implement as president. And Bannon is guiding him and leading him in that direction. But the other staffers have to kind of go along, or get lost, if you will.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And that sounds like the makings of a tense situation, Ken Stern.
KEN STERN: It does. It really does.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s certainly something that has all our attention right now.
Ken Stern, Phil Rucker, we thank you both.
PHILIP RUCKER: Thank you.
KEN STERN: Thank you, Judy.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The secretaries of state and homeland security were in Mexico City today on what was originally seen as a fence-mending mission after months of turbulence.
But with new immigration policies roiling the relationship, it shaped up to be what Mr. Trump called a tough trip.
JOHN KELLY, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary: Let me be very, very clear: There will be no, repeat, no mass deportations.
HARI SREENIVASAN: That’s Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on a joint mission with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson days after Kelly’s department signaled a crackdown on illegal immigration.
JOHN KELLY: Everything we do in DHS will be done legally and according to human rights and the legal justice system of the United States.
HARI SREENIVASAN: This morning, Mr. Trump said the U.S. needed a more muscular deportation force:
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We’re getting really bad dudes out of this country, and at a rate that nobody’s seen before. And they’re the bad ones. And it’s a military operation.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In Mexico City, Kelly seemed to walk back his boss’ words.
JOHN KELLY: No, repeat, no use of military force in immigration operations, none.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The White House press secretary later sought to clarify the president’s comments.
SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: The president was using that as an adjective. It’s happening with precision.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The visit, billed as reassurance to concerned Mexican counterparts, comes amid heightened tensions between the neighbors.
Earlier this week, a memo from the Department of Homeland Security vastly expanded the government’s mandate to quickly deport immigrants not convicted of serious crimes. The memo also said anyone caught illegally crossing the southern border would be sent back to Mexico, regardless of their home country.
President Trump has ordered a review of all aid to Mexico, raising speculation that the administration may cut those funds to pay for Mr. Trump’s long-promised border wall. Concerned Mexicans have urged President Enrique Pena Nieto’s government to stand up to the Trump administration.
With Tillerson at his side, Mexico’s foreign minister called for dialogue, but said his country was — quote — “worried and irritated” by the policy shifts.
LUIS VIDEGARAY, Foreign Minister, Mexico (through interpreter): In order to overcome the insults, to overcome the negative feelings that, without a doubt today prevail, what will matter are the actions, more than the words.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Tillerson said it was natural for two strong countries to disagree, but that progress had been made.
REX TILLERSON, U.S. Secretary of State: There’s no mistaking that the rule of law matters along both sides of our border. We discussed the importance of fair treatment of all those in this transit.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Later, Tillerson and Kelly met the Mexican president, who has sparred with Mr. Trump both during campaign and since the inauguration, over the wall, immigration and trade.
Joining me now to discuss the trip to Mexico and how Secretary Tillerson’s State Department is taking shape are Gardiner Harris of The New York Times. He’s in Mexico City right now. And Yeganeh Torbati, she covers the State Department for Reuters.
Gardiner, let me start with you.
The word choice by the president to say military operation today, and Secretary Kelly going out of his way to make sure that everyone knew that it wasn’t the military, it almost made it seem like there were two messengers, two messages, two teams.
GARDINER HARRIS, The New York Times: Right.
Well, that’s been the problem all along during the Trump administration, particularly for the State Department. And leaders around the world are having trouble figuring out who they should listen to. Should they listen to the State Department and Rex Tillerson, who is very straight? He’s sort of a traditional Republican. He’s trying to keep alliances and ties across the world to our various allies, particularly with Mexico.
Or should they listen to the more bombastic statements from Trump? Tillerson was in Europe last week trying to calm everything down. So was Mike Pence, saying that we value NATO, we value E.U.
But those are not messages that President Trump has said. He’s insulted the E.U. He’s insulted NATO. And the same thing is going on in Mexico right now.
In fact, just today, as you played, the president had talked to a bunch of CEOs in a roundtable, and he mentioned Mexico five or six different times, suggesting that Mexico has really been stealing jobs from the United States, has this $70 billion trade surplus, and that that has to stop.
And he sort of said, look, I want to have good relations with Mexico, but, if we don’t, we don’t.
And so that gives, obviously, some very difficult times for the diplomats here, who are trying to certainly change some things about immigration and enforcement with the Mexicans, but keeping what has been a vital alliance with the Mexicans, because the Mexicans, of course, there is not now any immigration of Mexicans in the United States.
Most of the immigration is from Central America. And the Mexicans are crucial allies in slowing that immigration.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Yeganeh Torbati, we were just saying you have been covering the State Department. But there haven’t been any daily press briefings since Mr. Tillerson took office.
This is also, in some ways, the opposite of the personality of John Kerry, who put himself in the middle of everything, was taking questions all the time.
YEGANEH TORBATI, Reuters: Right.
I mean, Secretary Tillerson comes from a very different background. He comes from a private sector background and then, in particular, from ExxonMobil, where they really weren’t well-known for their public engagement or their engagement with the press.
And, just as you said, there hasn’t been a State Department press briefing since January 19, the last full day of President Obama’s presidency. And that has taken away a megaphone that the State Department traditionally has to speak on issues of international importance, not only to put their own views out there, but also to respond to other countries.
And that briefing is not just useful for reporters like myself. It’s also looked to very closely by countries around the world, both allies and adversaries, for clues on, what is the U.S. policy towards Israeli settlements, towards the arrests of journalists by Turkey, for example, and other things that may happen around the world?
And it’s also looked to within the State Department. Preparing the different bureaus for that press briefing, sending up talking points, is part of sometimes the policy process itself. And without that daily kind of organizing structure, there is a little bit of a sense of loss right now at the State Department within those kind of lower ranks and within the bureaus.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Gardiner Harris, today, we heard the Mexican leaders say, we’re willing to talk about immigration, but we also want to talk about trade and security.
Why did they want to lump those in?
GARDINER HARRIS: Well, exactly.
Well, for the Mexicans, of course, there’s a lot of issues that happen at the border, not just issues that are of concern to the United States, but are issues that are of concern to Mexico.
For instance, there is a huge amount of guns that come from the United States into Mexico. There is a lot of bulk cash that comes from the United States into Mexico that feeds the narco-trafficking gangs in Mexico.
So, Mexico, of course, wants to expand the list of things to talk about because this is a two-way relationship. And for the Mexicans, they want to help the United States in the issues that the United States is worried about, but only if they have a little bit of help, too.
And, you know, Mexico, at this point, has largely been quiet. They have taken a lot of bombast from the United States. The president here, President Pena Nieto, has not been popular because he has not really spat back at Trump.
But the Mexicans have a lot of levers here. They are the largest buyers, for instance, of corn in the United States. They are the largest buyers of a huge number of other agricultural products from the United States.
And if things go south in this relationship — it has gone south tremendously over the last month.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Yes.
GARDINER HARRIS: If it gets really worse, the Mexicans can make things hurt in the United States in places where the United States really doesn’t want to have it go bad.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Yeganeh Torbati, there has been this narrative, fair or unfair, that the State Department has been somewhat sidelined in the major decision processes that have already faced the Trump administration and perhaps, in certain times, they have not even been consulted before executive orders and so forth are rolled out.
YEGANEH TORBATI: I think that we want to be cautious.
Rex Tillerson has been on the job for about three weeks now. Things are — he’s still sort of getting his bearings. But it’s true that we have a number of data points that suggest that there isn’t lot of consultation.
Of course, the State Department, Rex Tillerson’s aides would push back on that. They say he’s in touch with President Trump several times a day. But we know, from our reporting and from others’ reporting, that he wasn’t consulted on any sort of change to the White House language regarding U.S. support for the two-state solution, which happened last week.
That was a surprise to him. And we don’t know if that is deliberate, or was it just sort of a result of the chaos that seems to be evident at the White House right now?
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Yeganeh Torbati from Reuters, Gardiner Harris from The New York Times, thank you both.
YEGANEH TORBATI: Thank you.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn now to the Trump administration’s push to increase security along the southern border and at U.S. points of entry.
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Representative Michael McCaul, joined me a short time ago from his home state of Texas. He toured the U.S.-Mexico border yesterday as part of a congressional delegation.
I asked if he believed it’s necessary to build a physical wall along the entire border, as the president has suggested.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, R-Texas: No, I don’t think we need a 2,000-mile wall down there.
We need a physical barrier, multilayered approach, using both physical infrastructure, but also technology and personnel. Those are the three main things that Border Patrol tells us they need. And we need some creativity to make a smart border to get operational control.
And so what we saw yesterday, Judy, I thought was very interesting was how, in McAllen and Hidalgo county, they created a levee to protect them from floods that was in essence a concrete levee that could operate and looked sort of like a wall, but, at the same time, was embraced by the local community residents as being a solution to the problem, that the county judge in Hidalgo County told us they wanted us to go that direction, rather than erecting a 20-foot concrete wall.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s interesting you say that, because I was going to ask you about a number of other Republican members of Congress, your colleagues, who are saying a wall may be part of the solution, but it’s not the only solution.
I saw Congressman Will Hurd, who represents a border district, said the wall is the most expensive and, in his words, least effective way to secure the border.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Well, I think it’s necessary in some places to basically slow down illegals or potential terrorists or funnel them.
And we essentially, Judy, because of the Secure Fence Act, have fencing between San Diego almost all the way the El Paso.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: I think the Rio Grande Valley sector, where I was with the speaker yesterday in my state of Texas, presents a challenge, because you have a river.
It’s not just land. You have a river there and you have land owners that have — want to have access to that river. And so I think these creative solutions like this concrete levee system I think provide a creative way to do it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mr. Chairman, you announced today the launch of a congressional task force. You’re calling it denying terrorists entry into the United States, looking for all the potential pathways by which extremists, in your word, might enter this country.
How is this going to be different from what the federal government has been doing and spending billions of dollars doing since 9/11?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Well, we had a foreign fighter task force last Congress that provided legislative solutions, some of which were signed into law by then President Obama, dealing with foreign fighter threat from the caliphate, Iraq and Syria, into Europe and into the United States.
We’re going to be examining, how can we more properly screen and vet people coming into the United States? We will also be looking at the border. We will also be taking a look at, how can you vet refugees as well?
You know, I think you can enhance this process and certainly deploy ICE officials at consular offices where they apply for the visas and have a higher vetting process on the front end, when they’re applying for the visas.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, one of the things you focus on in this document that I was looking are American citizens crossing back into this country. We know that the people behind some of the most recent terror attacks in this country in San Bernardino, Orlando were American citizens.
But what more can you do? How do you screen American citizens without profiling them or without violating their civil liberties?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Well, I think you always have to be a little more careful, like we saw in the executive order, denying lawful permanent residents access in the United States.
I think that was the glitch in that executive order that I think will be remedied in short order, I am told. But I think you can look at — the case Rahami, the New York bomber, is a prime example of how we could have maybe done a better job.
This is where the FBI had opened a case. His father said he’s a terrorist. And, after the fact, we find out his travels to Afghanistan and Pakistan led him to more radicalized mosques.
And yet we didn’t have that intelligence ready to vet him when he was going through secondary screening trying to come back into the United States.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: And what was the result? Two bombs going off, one in New Jersey and one in New York.
And that’s the kind of example of a case, better intelligence-sharing, connecting the dots, looking at social media. Any employer is going to look at your social media before they hire you. Why aren’t we doing that when we screen people coming into the United States?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Another thing I want to ask you about is something President Trump said today about enforcing immigration. He talked about the effort to round up immigrants as a military operation and he talked about ridding the U.S. of, in his words, really bad dudes.
Is that how you see this?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: We have to comply with federal law in doing this.
You can’t just put the military in the streets of the United States rounding up illegal aliens. I think that would be a violation of federal law. And I think Secretary Kelly, General Kelly, came out not too long after that to correct that statement that he has no intent to dispatch, you know, military officers into the streets.
We have a civilian police force in the United States for a reason, and that’s our police officers, our ICE agents, not the military. I think that would be a big mistake.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
Just a couple of other quick things I want to ask you about, Mr. Chairman. The president also said today that if countries are going to have nuclear weapons, then he said the United States needs to be at the top of the back, in his words, meaning increasing the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Do you see that?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Well, I know that in my dealings with the president and looking at the SALT treaty with Russia in terms of how they built more capability than we have, I think all along his theme has been, we want to build a greater military, one that is respected around the world.
I believe the previous administration shrunk from some of our responsibilities as a superpower and made the world a more dangerous place. I think he’s trying to project strength, so we can have peace through strength in the end.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you, finally, about meeting your constituents. In your case, it’s Texas’ 10th District. It stretches from Austin to the Houston suburbs.
I’m sure you know that thousands, maybe tens of thousands of Americans have been gathering at town halls sponsored by your Republican colleagues in Congress the last couple of weeks, many of them angry, many of them upset about policies of President Trump.
Are you going to be meeting with your constituents in the near future?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: I always do.
And, look, this is what democracy is all about. People have every right to protest whoever’s in the White House, without fear of persecution. If this happened in Iran, people would be shot on the streets. This is the United States of America, and we have a First Amendment that protects this kind of speech.
And I think it’s just part of the democratic process. I’m planning to hold what’s called a telephone town hall, where we have greater bandwidth, and I will be able to reach probably 40,000 to 50,000 of my constituents throughout my district in effective sort of media technology.
So, we …
JUDY WOODRUFF: And in person, too?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: We do meet with them.
Unfortunately, we had protesters at my office in Austin. And we meet with them and talk to them and make sure that their voices are heard, too, because, you know, we represent all Americans, just not one side of the aisle.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you agree with the president’s words, finally, Mr. Chairman, that these are, in his words, so-called angry crowds that are actually planned out, in his words, by liberal activists?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Well, they are activists.
But we had the Tea Party that were activists. And now we’re seeing this sort of liberal phenomenon of activists that are speaking out. And they have every right to do so. I think we need to respect that in this country. It’s just part of the democratic process.
So, I don’t condemn them. I try to educate them as best I can. But, above all, I think what’s missing right now in this country is really a tone of civility and the fact that we are all Americans. And I think that’s a message that, unfortunately, I’m not hearing a lot from our leaders today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I think a lot of people would agree with you about that.
Chairman Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, thank you very much.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Thank you, Judy.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: President Trump says that he wants to build up the U.S. nuclear arsenal to make sure that it’s — quote — “at the top of the pack.”
In an interview with Reuters, Mr. Trump also denounced Russia’s launch of a ground-based cruise missile as a violation of a 1987 arms control treaty. And he said he supports some form of a border tax, but offered no specifics.
HARI SREENIVASAN: President Trump’s education secretary defended the rollback of public school bathroom rules for transgender students. The Education and Justice Departments last night withdrew guidance on the issue from the Obama administration. It had said public schools must let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice.
At today’s CPAC conference, Betsy DeVos insisted students, parents and teachers need more flexibility.
BETSY DEVOS, U.S. Education Secretary: This issue was a very huge example of the Obama administration’s overreach, to suggest a one-size-fits-all, federal government approach, top-down approach to issues that are best dealt with and solved at a personal level and a local level.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The White House yesterday denied reports that DeVos opposed changes to the guidance, but was overruled by the Justice Department.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A number of Republican lawmakers home on break this week are facing angry constituents at town hall meetings. Some attendees have expressed concerns about President Trump and his approaches to environmental protection and the Affordable Care Act.
In Arkansas last night, Senator Tom Cotton was confronted by shouting demonstrators who asked about the health care issue.
WOMAN: Will you commit to replacements in the same way that you have committed to the repeal?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SEN. TOM COTTON, R-Ark.: Everyone in this room has been hurt or helped …
WOMAN: I have only been helped. Obamacare saved my life, Senator.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, amid more jeers in Louisiana, Republican Senator Bill Cassidy was asked if he would author legislation to get rid of big contributions in elections.
REP. BILL CASSIDY, R-La.: To get money out of politics means that you would need to have public funding.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
REP. BILL CASSIDY: I fundamentally disagree.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The protest bears similarity to events in the summer of 2009, when Tea Party groups voiced discontent about President Obama’s health care overhaul.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Attorney General Jeff Sessions will let the federal government continue to use private prisons. He issued a new memo today. It replaces an Obama administration memo that intended to phase them out, citing subpar management.
And also from the Trump administration today, there’s a sign that states with recreational marijuana use laws have stricter federal enforcement in store. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the Department of Justice will be looking into it.
Newly released e-mails show a cozy relationship between the now head of the Environmental Protection Agency and energy companies. Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s former attorney general, was sworn in as EPA chief last week. More than 7,500 pages of e-mails from his attorney general’s office were released under court order. They show Pruitt and his staff coordinated with oil and gas executives to fight Obama era environmental regulations.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In Iraq, U.S.-backed Iraqi forces fought their way into a military base outside Mosul, and onto the grounds of the city’s airport. It’s part of a major assault to drive Islamic State fighters out of Iraq’s second biggest city. Iraqi police units and army forces engaged in heavy clashes with ISIS militants, before seizing the airport’s runway.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Back in this country, officials are investigating, after an off-duty Los Angeles policeman fired his gun during a dispute with teenagers on his lawn. Cell phone video showed the officer struggling with a 13-year-old yesterday. After other kids approached, the man pulled a gun from his waistband and fired a shot. No one was hurt, but two teens were arrested.
Protests erupted overnight, with hundreds marching through the streets. Some blocked traffic, and 24 people were arrested. The officer was placed on administrative leave.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Stocks were mostly higher on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 34 points to close at 20810. The Nasdaq fell 25, and the S&P 500 added nearly a point.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump’s top advisers took the stage today at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. They’re among the thousands who’ve gathered just across the river from Washington to discuss the future of the conservative movement, now that a Republican is back in power.
John Yang has our report.
JOHN YANG: This year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, clearly reflects the new resident of the White House.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, Counselor to the President: Well, I think, by tomorrow, this will be TPAC this year.
JOHN YANG: Eight top administration officials, including President Trump himself, are on the three-day agenda. Today’s lead-off speaker, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.
KELLYANNE CONWAY: Every great movement ends up being a little bit sclerotic and dusty after a time, and I think they need an infusion of energy. And in the case of candidate Trump and president-elect and nominee Trump, he went right to the grassroots and brought you along.
JOHN YANG: That new energy is evident among many conference attendees.
DEVON HUNTER, CPAC Participant: There’s so many people and there’s so many ideas and all of the speakers and everything. It’s really exciting.
ANGELA MORABITO, CPAC Participant: We know that we have a voice. The president talks straight to us now, and this is our chance to talk back.
JOHN YANG: Last year, at the height of the Republican presidential primaries, candidate Trump skipped CPAC altogether. And while the Trump team has taken over this year’s schedule, the question is whether they are also taking over the conservative movement.
Today, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the former party chairman, and senior Trump adviser Steve Bannon, the insurgent-turned-insider, sought to present a united front. They dismissed reports of White House infighting.
REINCE PRIEBUS, White House Chief Of Staff: In regard to us two I think the biggest misconception is everything that you’re reading.
STEVE BANNON, White House Chief Strategist: Reince is indefatigable. I mean, it’s low-key, but it’s determination, the thing I respect most. And the only way this thing works is, Reince is always kind of steady.
JOHN YANG: Bannon said the president’s attitude is full steam ahead.
STEVE BANNON: He’s going to continue to press his agenda. And as economic conditions get better, as more jobs get better, they’re going to continue to fight. If you think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight, you’re sadly mistaken. Every day, every day, it’s going to be a fight.
JOHN YANG: Earlier, the executive director of the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, slammed the alt-right movement, a mix of white nationalism, neo-Nazi beliefs and hard-edged populism.
DAN SCHNEIDER, Executive Director, American Conservative Union: We know who these people are. They met just a couple months ago in Washington, D.C., to spew their hatred and make their “Heil Hitler” salutes. They are anti-Semites. They are racists. They are sexists.
JOHN YANG: Richard Spencer, the man credited with coining the phrase alt-right, attended today’s conference, but said he was asked to leave.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m John Yang.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We will take a closer look at President Trump’s inner circle, and the role his senior adviser Steve Bannon is playing, later in the program.
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