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- 10/18/17--11:17: Read the draft of the bipartisan health care deal
- 10/18/17--12:06: Why this Social Security boost is no boon for lower earners
- 10/18/17--15:25: How did consoling Gold Star families become political?
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- 10/18/17--15:40: Trump promised to give a grieving military father $25,000
The allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against film producer Harvey Weinstein intensified this week, as more women came forward and gave on-the-record accounts of the Hollywood mogul making unwanted advances and forcing physical contact.
Days after The New York Times published a bombshell report that outlined three decades of sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein — including interviews with at least eight current and past employees — both the Times and The New Yorker followed up by publishing additional testimonies. Three women who spoke to the New Yorker said Weinstein had raped them.
Ronan Farrow, who wrote Tuesday’s story for The New Yorker, told the PBS NewsHour that in addition to the 13 women he spoke with in the course of his reporting, “there’s an incredible uprising of people within [Weinstein’s] companies talking for the first time in decades about what they said was a culture of complicity, about a pattern of meetings that they said were thin cover for predatory advances on young women.”
Many of the encounters with Weinstein follow similar patterns: Big work appointments or meetings turn out to be in his hotel room. Weinstein offers massages or is naked or barely dressed. The women said they felt uncomfortable and wanted to leave. Some did. Others felt pressure to stay.
Actress Ashley Judd told the Times that in one encounter with Weinstein two decades ago, the powerful mogul asked if she would watch him shower.
“How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?” Judd said she remembers herself thinking at the time.
Weinstein, who was ousted from the Weinstein Company earlier this week, has denied the allegations made against him, saying that the Times’ first report was “saturated with false and defamatory statements.” In a video later obtained by ABC News, Weinstein said outside his daughter’s Los Angeles home that, “I’m not doing okay, but I’m trying. I got to get help. You know what, we all make mistakes.”
Here’s a look at all of the allegations made against Weinstein in the most recent reports.
The rape allegations
The New Yorker reported it spoke to three women who said Weinstein raped them. One was left unnamed in the story. Since then, several more women have reached out to other media outlets to share their stories.
Lysette Anthony — Late 1980s. Story by The Sunday Times of London.
British actress Lysette Anthony told The Sunday Times that Weinstein raped her in the late 1980s.
Anthony said she and Weinstein were friends, but in an impromptu visit to her home in London, the actress said, “he pushed me inside and rammed me up against the coat rack in my tiny hall and started fumbling at my gown.” She said she was unable to push him away.
She reported the rape to the London Metropolitan Police last week, as other allegations came forward.
Scotland Yard is investigating four other allegations of rape against Weinstein from two unidentified women, according to The Telegraph. One of them is an unnamed former Miramax employee who alleged Weinstein raped her in London in 1992. The other woman told British police she was allegedly sexually assaulted by Weinstein in 2010, 2011 and 2015.
Asia Argento — 1997. Story by The New Yorker.
Twenty years ago, Argento, an Italian film actress and director, was led to a hotel room on the French Riviera by a producer, who promised a party. When they arrived, only Weinstein was inside. She said Weinstein performed oral sex on her without her consent, adding that she feared that he would “crush” her if she spoke out about the sexual assault.
“That’s why this story—in my case, it’s twenty years old; some of them are older—has never come out,” she told The New Yorker.
Lucia Evans — Summer 2004. Story by The New Yorker.
Evans, then known as Lucia Stoller, told the New Yorker she was approached by Weinstein in 2004, in a New York club. Evans, who wanted to be an actress, said she had heard rumors about Weinstein’s behavior, but provided her contact information to him.
Weinstein started calling her late at night. One day, after being promised readings for a casting executive, Evans agreed to meet with Weinstein during the daytime. Evans said she was led to a room alone with Weinstein, who overpowered her and forced her to perform oral sex on him.
Rose McGowan Mid 1990s. Story by the New York Times.
In its Oct. 5 report of sexual harassment settlements reached with Weinstein, the Times initially reported that actor Rose McGowan reached a $100,000 settlement in 1997 with Weinstein regarding an incident at a hotel.
But as allegations against Weinstein continues to mount, McGowan emerged as a vocal figure on social media criticizing sexual misconduct in Hollywood and on Oct. 12 took to Twitter to publicly allege that Weinstein raped her.
In her tweet, McGowan wrote that she had told an Amazon studio head several times that Weinstein had raped her, but “he said it hadn’t been proven,” she wrote. “I said I was the proof.”
The tweet was directed at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, condemning Amazon Studios for disregarding her claims. She also criticized Amazon Studios for deciding to work with Weinstein on a script she had written and sold to the studio.
She wrote, “When I heard a Weinstein bailout was in the works…I forcefully begged studio head to do the right thing. I was ignored. Deal was done. Amazon won a dirty Oscar.”
She did not further elaborate on the allegation.
The sexual harassment allegations
Both the Times and The New Yorker reported that rumors have circulated around Weinstein for years and that there were patterns in the allegations. The women said they were scared to speak out, with some fearing retribution. At least 20 women have come forward. Below are all the latest, on-the-record allegations against Weinstein.
Arquette told the New Yorker that Weinstein asked her to meet him at the Beverly Hills Hotel to pick up a script, but upon arriving, she was directed upstairs to his room. She entered to find him in a bathrobe, asking for a massage that she refused to give. He then pulled her hand toward his erect penis, which Arquette refused to touch.
Weinstein name-dropped other women who he claimed had accepted his advances and consequently moved forward in their careers. She left the room after telling him, “I’ll never be that girl.”
Jessica Barth — 2011. Story by The New Yorker.
Barth said Weinstein invited her to the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills for a business meeting but asked her to come up to his room to speak privately. As they conversed, Weinstein alternated between asking for a massage in bed and offering her a role in a film. Barth refused the advances and walked toward the door, but as she left, Weinstein promised her a meeting with one of his female executives. The meeting did occur, but was described in the New Yorker as a formality. “I just knew it was bullshit,” she said.
Kate Beckinsale — Early 1990s. Story posted on Instagram.
The actress said in an Instagram post that Weinstein offered her alcohol while appearing at the door of his hotel room in a bathrobe. “A few years later he asked me if he had tried anything with me in that first meeting. I realized he couldn’t remember if he had assaulted me or not,” she wrote.
Beckinsale added that she has said “no” to Weinstein professionally many times over the years, “some of which ended up with him screaming at me calling me a c— and making threats.”
Zoe Brock — 1998. Story posted on Medium.
The model wrote on Medium that she was “Harveyed” at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival. When she was left alone in a hotel room with Weinstein, Brock said he disrobed and asked her to give him a massage while he was naked. Brock said she ran into the bathroom and locked the door.
“Harvey chased me, dick, balls and all, and banged on the door with his fists, pleading with me to come out,” she wrote.
Liza Campbell — 1995. Story by The Sunday Times of London.
Liza Campbell, a script writer for Miramax 20 years ago, said Weinstein tried to force her to take a bath with him when she arrived for a meeting at his hotel room.
Cara Delevingne — Story posted to Instagram.
Cara Delevingne, 25, posted on Instagram that she had two separate encounters with Weinstein. The first happened when Weinstein called to ask about her sexual orientation. “It was a very odd and uncomfortable call,” she wrote. In the second incident, which occurred at least a year later, Delevingne said Weinstein invited her to his room. Another woman was there when he arrived. Weinstein asked them both to kiss. Delevingne said she began to sing because she “thought it would make the situation better,” something more akin to a professional audition. After singing, she got up to leave. At the door, Delevingne said Weinstein tried to kiss her.
Dawn Dunning — 2003. Story by the New York Times.
In 2003, Dunning, then 24 years old, said she rejected a sexual advance from Weinstein, who offered three movie roles to her in exchange for three-way sex with him. She fled. “This is how the business works,” Dunning recalled Weinstein saying before she left his hotel room.
Emma de Caunes — 2010. Story by The New Yorker.
De Caunes, a French actress, agreed to a lunch meeting with Weinstein at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris, where he discussed a film adaptation of a book that he was producing. He asked her to accompany him to his room to pick up the book. After some resistance, de Caunes agreed. In his hotel room, he stepped into the bathroom and emerged naked with an erection, demanding she join him in bed. De Caunes panicked and left.
Romola Garai — Early 2000s. Story by The Guardian.
The British actress said she had a hotel room “audition” with Weinstein during which he was wearing a bathrobe. “You can’t find an actress that doesn’t have that kind of story about Harvey,” she told the Guardian.
Louisette Geiss — 2008. Revealed at a news conference.
During a pitch meeting, the screenwriter and actress said Weinstein, in a bathrobe and then naked, pleaded with her to watch him masturbate at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
Louise Godbold — Early 1990s. Wrote about it on ACEs Connection.
Godbold said Weinstein, as other women has described, trapped her in an “empty meeting room, the begging for a massage, his hands on my shoulders as I attempted to beat a retreat.”
Judith Godrèche — 1996. Story by the New York Times.
French actress Judith Godrèche told the Times that Weinstein invited her to his suite. There, he asked to give her a massage. When she refused, Weinstein said it was an American custom to do so.
“The next thing I know, he’s pressing against me and pulling off my sweater,” she told the Times. She promptly left.
Heather Graham — Early 2000s. Story by Variety.
During a conversation about her career in Weinstein’s office, actress Heather Graham said the film producer later said that he was able to sleep with other women, per an agreement with his wife. Graham said she left the meeting “feeling uneasy.” “There was no explicit mention that to star in one of those films I had to sleep with him, but the subtext was there,” Graham wrote for Variety.
Ambra Battilana Gutierrez — March 2015. Audio recording published by The New Yorker.
Gutierrez, a Filipina-Italian model, said during a meeting with Weinstein, he “lunged at her, groping her breasts and attempting to put a hand up her skirt while she protested.” She notified the New York Police Department, and the next night, with the support of a NYPD sting operation, she wore a wire to record another encounter with the film producer, the magazine reported. In the audio recording, a voice identified as Gutierrez is heard saying that she was uncomfortable. She then asked Weinstein why he touched her breasts yesterday.
“Oh, please, I’m sorry, just come on in,” a man identified as Weinstein is heard saying. “I’m used to that. Come on. Please,” he said.
“You’re used to that?” Gutierrez asked.
Ultimately, the Manhattan district attorney’s office decided not to file charges against Weinstein.
Katherine Kendall — 1993. Story by the New York Times.
Weinstein invited actress Katherine Kendall into his apartment, where they conversed about art and books. Kendall told the Times that she was nervous, but the nature of the conversation and the pictures of his wife around the room calmed her down. As other women recounted, Weinstein stepped into the bathroom to change into a bathrobe, and came out to ask for a massage and to see her breasts. Kendall refused his advances.
Angelina Jolie — 1990s. Story by the New York Times.
Actress Angelina Jolie said she rejected Weinstein’s unwanted advances in a hotel room sometime in the late 1990s. “I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth, and as a result, chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did,” Jolie told the Times in the email.
Ashley Judd — 1997. Story by the New York Times.
Judd joined Weinstein for a morning business meeting at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel but was sent up to his suite, where he was wearing a bathrobe and repeatedly asked her to give him a massage or to watch him shower. She refused his invitations several times before leaving the room.
Laura Madden — Multiple times beginning in 1991. Story by the New York Times.
Madden, a film producer, was asked multiple times by Weinstein to give him massages when meeting him at hotels in London and Dublin. She told the Times “he had a way of making anyone who objected feel like an outlier.”
Nestor, an aspiring actress at the time, had started her first day as a temporary front-desk assistant at The Weinstein Company when he invited her to meet him at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel the next morning for coffee. She had become aware of Weinstein’s reputation through friends and other employees but agreed to meet him.
In that meeting, Weinstein proposed that she accept his sexual advances and be his girlfriend in exchange for his support in the industry. She refused but as he continued to insist, she told The New Yorker that Weinstein seemed to gloat over his past encounters with other women who had initially declined but then accepted his advances after a few drinks, and that he had never drugged a woman “like Bill Cosby.”
Nestor told a friend about the incident and he reported it to the company’s human resources department. But the department, and others in the company who were aware of Weinstein’s behavior were ineffective in deterring it.
Gwyneth Paltrow — Mid 1990s. Story by the New York Times.
In a follow-up story, the Times spoke with Gwyneth Paltrow, who said she was invited to Weinstein’s hotel room when she was 22. There, he suggested that Paltrow give him a massage. The actress refused his advances and told the newspaper that Weinstein warned her to keep the secret. Paltrow, who at the time was recently hired to lead the 1996 movie “Emma,” said she thought he was going to fire her.
Tomi-Ann Roberts — 1984. Story by The New York Times.
Weinstein once urged Tomi-Ann Roberts, then 20 years old in 1984, to audition for a movie. When she met him at a hotel for a meeting about the movie, Weinstein appeared nude under a bathrobe. He suggested she, too, get naked. She left.
Léa Seydoux — Circa 2012. Story by The Guardian.
Actress Lea Seydoux said Weinstein tried to kiss her on the lips during a conversation about her career in his hotel room. She said he was “very domineering” in his advances. “I pushed him physically. I think he respected me because I resisted him,” she told The Guardian.
Lauren Sivan — 2007. Story by Huffington Post
Lauren Sivan, who was a television anchor at the time for a New York cable channel, said Weinstein cornered her at a restaurant in Manhattan. Sivan said she rejected his attempt to kiss her and he then exposed himself to her and began to masturbate.
Mira Sorvino — September 1995. Story by The New Yorker.
Sorvino said Weinstein sexually harassed her at the Toronto International Film Festival more than 22 years ago. The actress was alone with Weinstein in a hotel room, when he started to massage her shoulders, making her uncomfortable. He then tried to get more physical. After refusing Weinstein’s advances, Sorvino left the room. In a separate incident weeks later, the magazine reported that Weinstein called Sorvino to say he was coming to her apartment. Sorvino said she eventually was able to ward Weinstein, who arrived at her door past midnight, off, by saying her new boyfriend, who was really a friend, was coming over.
The board of directors of The Weinstein Company, which Weinstein co-founded in 2005, announced Weinstein’s termination on Oct 8. The decision was made by four members, including Weinstein’s Brother, Robert Weinstein, after three members of the company’s board resigned due to the revelations.
Weinstein acknowledged the allegations that first became public on Thursday in an apology letter where he attributed his behavior to coming “of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different,” and wrote that he planned to work with therapists to “deal with the issue head on.”
On Friday, The Weinstein Company said Weinstein would take an indefinite leave of absence and that it would hire a law firm to investigate the allegations, while Weinstein said in an interview with The Wrap that he planned to sue the Times.
But as new information emerged, those who initially stood behind Weinstein decided to sever ties. Lisa Bloom, Weinstein’s legal advisor, resigned on Saturday amid criticism from company board members who disapproved of her counseling, according to the Times. And Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman, told People magazine she would leave him.
What are those in the industry saying?
New voices within Hollywood have emerged to denounce Weinstein’s behavior.
In an interview with the Daily Beast, George Clooney called Weinstein’s actions “indefensible” but said he had never known about the behavior.
Actress Meryl Streep also condemned the behavior in a statement to the Huffington Post and added, “not everybody knew. Harvey supported the work fiercely, was exasperating but respectful with me in our working relationship, and with many others with whom he worked professionally.”
Dozens of Democratic lawmakers who received campaign contributions from Weinstein, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., pledged to give away the money to charities. President Donald Trump also commented on the scandal telling reporters, “I’ve known Harvey Weinstein for a long time. I’m not at all surprised to see it.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awarded Weinstein an Oscar in 1999 for producing “Shakespeare in Love,” issued a statement Oct. 11 that called Weinstein’s behavior “repugnant, abhorrent, and antithetical to the high standards of the Academy and the creative community it represents,” and said it would address the scandal in a board of governors meeting Oct. 14. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts suspended Weinstein’s membership from the organization.
Several news organizations followed this story for years. Kim Masters, editor-at-large at The Hollywood Reporter, called it Hollywood’s “open secret” and told NPR that “many of us have tried literally over the course of the last couple of decades,” to expose Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct.
Pushback from Weinstein and insufficient sourcing prevented them from putting the story in print, the Huffington Post reported. And a culture of complicity within the industry silenced alleged victims.
“There is a vast machine set up to silence these women,” Ronan Farrow told the NewsHour Tuesday. “We’re talking about legal settlements where women were paid to sign very restrictive disclosure agreements. We’re talking about a public relations team that plants negative items about women,” he added.
PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.
The post All the sexual assault or harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, recapped appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says President Donald Trump has made as much contact as possible with families of slain military service members.
Sanders said Wednesday that there is a protocol created by the White House Military Office for the president to contact the families.
First, the Department of Defense notifies the next of kin. Then, the Pentagon sends information to the White House, which has to then be re-confirmed. Once done, the president reaches out to the family.
Sanders said Trump has reached out to every family that has been authorized by the military office.
The Associated Press found relatives of four soldiers who died overseas during Trump’s presidency who said they never received calls from him.
Relatives of two soldiers also confirmed they did not get letters.
The post WATCH: White House says Trump contacts families of slain when authorized appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The PBS NewsHour has obtained the draft language of the Senate bipartisan health care deal brokered by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., and discussed with President Donald Trump and White House staff.
This is a draft and not final legislation, but encompasses key ideas and language likely to be in any version that moves forward.
Click on the document below to read the full legislation.
During World War II, Tokyo often held drills to prepare citizens for airstrikes. But when the sirens blared and blackouts hit the city, a young Hisako Koyama would sneak back outside with her futon in one hand and a star chart in the other. Those pitch-black nights were perfect for stargazing.
These moments started her lifelong passion for the glimmering sky, and our very own star. Koyama would later spend her entire career inspecting blemishes on the glowing sun. In her observatory, she quietly sketched those sunspots and ultimately produced one of the most influential solar observation collections in the last 400 years.
Without this body of work, astronomers wouldn’t have a contemporary picture of solar activity, nor be well equipped to predict space weather events that could knock out GPS systems and affect other technology.
Koyama’s sun observations and meticulous sunspot drawings shaped solar science and the modern field of space weather, according to a new commentary about Koyama’s work published in the journal Space Weather. With her archive of more than 10,000 hand-drawn sunspot observations, Koyama has joined the ranks of eminent astronomers, such as Galileo Galilei, Johann Caspar Staudacher and Heinrich Schwabe.
“Koyama was a combination of ordinary and extraordinary,” said Delores Knipp, a space weather scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder and lead author of the review. “She went about her daily life doing what she believed was an ordinary, day-to-day job. Koyama wasn’t intent on becoming a world-famous scientist. She was intent on doing a good job. And that mindset helped her do the extraordinary.”
From amateur to pro
Born in Tokyo in 1916, Koyama grew up in a society that didn’t push young women into professional careers. In fact, Koyama graduated from an all-girls high school in the 1930s, which was rare for most girls at the time.
Koyama was fixated on the sky, and her father nurtured her growing enthusiasm in those formative years. He bought her a refracting telescope, and by 1944, Koyama directed her father’s gift toward the sun. To safely watch the sun’s surface, she would place her small telescope in front of a window and use the telescope to project the sun’s image behind the eyepiece and onto a piece of paper. (The same concept is behind the binocular-based solar viewers used during eclipses).
For a month, she inspected the shining orb this way and finally, with a surprising amount of detail, made her first sunspot observation.
“For a woman of that time, it’s remarkable to have access to that education,” Knipp explained. “But her learning was very much on the job, and she was tenacious as she moved from being an amateur to a professional astronomer.”
After completing her first sketch in her late 20s, Koyama sent it to Japan’s Oriental Astronomical Association’s president, Issei Yamamoto. He encouraged her to continue sun-watching, and Yamamoto took her under his wing in 1945. By spring of 1946, Koyama joined the Tokyo Science Museum (now the National Museum of Nature and Science) and settled in for the long haul.
“Koyama was persistent, particularly with the Japanese male-dominated authority of the time,” said Huixin Liu, a space scientist at Kyushu University’s Meteorology and Solar-Terrestrial Physics Lab and coauthor of the commentary. “She could navigate this unknown terrain and prove herself, which got her accepted by her colleagues in the amateur society and in the professional world.”
A year later, Koyama drew the largest sunspot discovered in the 20th century, leading to more notoriety.
How Koyama made a name for herself
Koyama observed the dark specks across the sun’s face on a daily basis. She sat at her observatory peering through a large 20-centimeter refracting telescope — the sole tool of her career — and quickly understood why astronomers relied on this solar phenomenon.
Sunspots temporarily appear when there is high magnetic activity in a concentrated area on the sun’s surface. The temperature in those places are cooler, and the spots produce less light than the rest of the surface. The sun goes through an 11-year solar cycle, and sunspot numbers fluctuate at the cycle’s end. Scientists track sunspots because they predicate solar activity like solar flares, which can mess with satellite communications around the Earth.
Watching for sunspots is a constant endeavor, and hand-drawing each blemish can get exhausting. But Koyama promptly returned every day for more than 40 years.
“She continued her observations on hot summer days and on cold winter days,” Toshihiro Horaguchi, senior curator of astronomy at the National Museum of Nature and Science, said via email. “She established her method of observation first, and kept it faithfully as long as she could.”
Horaguchi read about Koyama in school, but they didn’t meet until he started working at the museum 26 years ago. She had retired by that point, but she couldn’t resist staying away from the museum and from budding astronomers, whom she often mentored. Koyama worked until 1981 and continued to visit the museum as a fellow for another 10 years.
“She was very gentle and mild — like a grandmother to everyone. [Yet] she was scrupulous; each observation may be simple, but the accumulation is incomparable,” Horaguchi said.
Part of Koyama’s day, both when she worked and after retirement, was sharing her growing collection of drawings and educating museum-goers about space. She would host amateur astronomy events, teach on holidays and write articles in astronomical journals to share her work.
“She was a good messenger between professional astronomers and amateur astronomers,” said Hisashi Hayakawa, an environmental and science history research fellow at Osaka University and a coauthor of the paper. “Her educational skills were quite high, and because of her experience as an amateur, it was easier for amateur astronomers to relate to her.”
In 1985, Koyama pulled together her more than 10,000 drawings from 1947 to 1984 and published a book called “Observations of Sunspots.” To date, solar scientists have archived and reconstructed her work, providing a greater understanding of how solar activity influences the Earth.
“She made almost 50 years of straight observation, which is the ‘backbone’ of modern sunspot study,” Hayakawa explained. “Koyama knew how to express the latest details to both amateurs and professionals, and her book is a good example.”
Inspiring future Koyamas around the world
Koyama passed away in 1997, leaving a lasting impact. She played a big role in showcasing amateur astronomy and instilling the importance of citizen science in Japan. “Young Japanese girls still sometimes feel they can’t become professionals. Koyama can encourage these girls who want to achieve something or make contributions to science, even if they’re learning on their own or supporting themselves at first,” Liu said.
Now, Koyama’s story is beginning to spread as astronomers pass around recently reconstructed sunspot observations since the 1700s while also highlighting her large collection. And Knipp hopes reviving her archive and sharing this story will continue to shine light on Koyama’s work in the international professional and amateur astronomy spheres.
“Koyama deserves some long-overdue recognition,” Knipp said. “And her story transcends boundaries. All young girls have the potential to become future Koyamas and achieve their dreams.”
The post This Japanese ‘hidden figure’ enlightened the world with her sunspot sketches appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Editor’s Note: Journalist Philip Moeller is here to provide the answers you need on aging and retirement. His weekly column, “Ask Phil,” aims to help older Americans and their families by answering their health care and financial questions. Phil is the author of the new book, “Get What’s Yours for Medicare,” and co-author of “Get What’s Yours: The Revised Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security.” Send your questions to Phil.
It’s heartburn time for the hold-harmless crowd, thanks to the seemingly routine announcement by Social Security last week that its annual cost of living adjustment for 2018 will boost benefits by 2 percent.
Thanks to the convoluted rules brought to you by the folks who run Social Security and Medicare – not to mention their overseers in Congress – it will take me some time to explain why this news means that millions of people receiving Social Security and Medicare will suffer next year from financial indigestion.
Medicare recipients also receiving Social Security must have their monthly Part B Medicare premiums deducted from their Social Security payment. About 70 percent of Medicare enrollees are in this boat. The rest are either new to Medicare, earn enough to trigger Medicare’s high-income surcharges, or earn so little that Medicaid pays their Medicare premiums.
Social Security’s “hold harmless” rule says that Social Security benefits cannot decline from one year to the next. This means that higher Part B premiums can’t cause a reduction in a person’s net Social Security benefits.
Historically, increases in Social Security’s annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) have been large enough to cover any boosts in Part B premiums and still produce a net gain in Social Security payments.
However, the rate of inflation used to determine the COLA has been so small in recent years that the COLA was zero in 2016 and only three-tenths of one percent this year. With medical costs continuing to rise, Medicare had no choice but to raise its Part B premiums. Even with a one-time government bailout in 2016, the Part B premium went up to $121.80; this year, it rose to $134.
(These premiums, by the way, remain a great health care bargain for Medicare recipients. Medicare only charges enough for Part B to cover about 25 percent of program costs; taxpayers foot the other 75 percent.)
Those higher premiums were paid only by people who were not held harmless. For the larger group that was protected in 2016, their premiums remained at $104.90 a month, while those not held harmless had to pay $121.80. The 0.3 percent COLA this year boosted benefits a bit, but virtually all of these gains went to pay higher Part B premiums.
People not held harmless this year are paying $134 a month for Part B. People who have been held harmless, in most cases, had to tack 0.3 percent of their 2017 Social Security payment onto either $104.90 or $121.80 for their Part B coverage. Because everyone’s Social Security benefits are different, this meant that everyone’s Part B premium would be different as well.
Here are a couple of examples to illustrate the range of different Part B premiums.
Take someone who was held harmless in 2016 and receives only $1,000 a month from Social Security (before Part B premiums are deducted). They were paying $104.90 for Part B in 2016, and received a $3 monthly boost in 2017 Social Security benefits (0.3 percent of $900). All of this paltry increase would go toward higher Part B premiums, raising their monthly premium to $107.90.
Now, consider a higher earner who began Medicare in 2016 and had to pay $121.80 a month for their Part B. If their gross Social Security benefit was $2,500 a month, they would have seen it rise by $7.50 a month this year (0.3 percent of $2,500). They would have been held harmless this year from the full $134 monthly Part B premium. But all of their COLA gain would have gone to paying Part B, and their monthly premium would have increased by $7.50, from $121.80 to $129.30.
Congratulations if you are not totally confused by now, and many thanks if you haven’t simply stopped reading! But if you’ve stuck it out this long, I am betting you also have figured out that the impact of a 2 percent COLA will be much higher Part B premiums for lower earners who have been held harmless.
Medicare has not yet announced the 2018 premium for Part B, although it was earlier projected to remain stable at $134 a month. Even if this good-news projection comes to pass, many of those folks held harmless in 2016 and 2017 will not receive any of their 2 percent Social Security boost. For people receiving modest Social Security benefits, all of the increase will go toward higher Part B premiums.
Using the earlier examples, our lower-earning recipient would see their $903 monthly benefit boosted by about $18.06. All of this would be tacked onto their Part B premium, increasing it from $107.60 to roughly $125.66. This is less than $134, of course, but I doubt that anyone in this situation would consider themselves fortunate to be receiving no effective Social Security increase, even though the 2.0 percent COLA is the program’s largest in five years.
And our higher earner? Their $2,507.50 benefit would rise by $50.15 to $2,557.65. Remember that they were already paying $129.30 each month for their Part B. If the Part B premium does stay at $134 next year, their premium would rise by only $4.70 a month, allowing them to keep more than 90 percent of their COLA increase.
Let the complaints begin!
Next week, I will resume answering your questions, as well as taking a further look at changes in Medicare plans that might cause you to consider 2018 changes to your coverage during this year’s Medicare open enrollment period, which began October 15 and extends through Dec. 7.
The post Why this Social Security boost is no boon for lower earners appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
More than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled their homes since August to escape systematic violence at the hands of government soldiers in Myanmar. The U.N. has called the actions taken by Myanmar forces against the group “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
A report released by Amnesty International on Wednesday documents widespread rape, killings and burnings of Rohingya across the Rakhine State in Myanmar. The report includes extensive interviews of Rohingya refugees who tell stories of live burnings, sexual violence and mass shootings at the hands of soldiers.
To escape persecution, Rohingya refugees are fleeing in droves to neighboring Bangladesh, a country described by some as a reluctant host for the thousands of refugees behind its borders. Conditions within Bangladesh show refugee camps beyond capacity, as organizations struggle to keep up with humanitarian aid.
Find out more: Rohingya Muslims have been denied citizenship in Myanmar since 1982, though they’ve lived in the area since the 12th century. They are not considered one of the country’s official ethnic groups. As such, their lack of official identity bars them from government services and travel.
Officials from Myanmar, a majority Buddhist state, claim Rohingya are actually immigrants from Bangladesh to justify their exclusion of the group. This most recent burst of violence comes from Myanmar’s crackdown following clashes with the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). After the government declared ARSA a terrorist organization, the retaliation escalated into hundreds of Rohingya villages.
Where to give: BRAC, a top-ranked NGO based out of Bangladesh, is scaling up humanitarian efforts for clean water, health, sanitation and child care for refugees from Myanmar. You can learn more about their efforts here.
An emergency appeal was made by the Disasters Emergency Committee for immediate crisis relief funds. DEC distributes funds to 13 member aid organizations.
UNHCR, UNICEF and Save the Children have donation pages dedicated to the crisis, as does the International Rescue Committee. CNN’s Public Good page provides a user-friendly resource to find NGOs that match your giving goals.
Be sure to research organizations receiving your financial contributions, not only to find the best organization aligned with your goals, but also to avoid potential scams. For the latest information on aid organizations and charities, visit GuideStar or Charity Navigator to ensure your donations are going in the right direction.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Astrophysicists and astronomers all over the world are celebrating a golden moment this week, the announcement of a scientific finding that has Nobel Prize written all over it.
They witnessed the collision of two incredibly dense neutron stars and found a scientific Holy Grail in the process. It provides further proof that Albert Einstein was a genius, relatively speaking.
The findings help us understand the universe better, and, as a result, we now know where all the gold and silver and platinum in the world comes from.
It’s the focus of our Leading Edge segment this week.
And science correspondent Miles O’Brien joins me now.
Miles, tell me, why are they so excited about this?
MILES O’BRIEN, Science Correspondent: It’s a textbook-changer, Hari.
It happened in August, and it began with two observations, one of gravitational waves, ripples in spacetime, if you will, followed right on its heels by the recording of a gamma ray burst. This set off this amazing scientific full-court press that led to this discovery.
The focus of all this, Hari, are neutron stars and the collision of two of them. Neutron stars are what is left over after a supernova. A star burns out. These things are the densest things we know of in the universe. These, at the focus of this story, were about the size of Boston.
And yet they have a mass that is 50 percent greater than our sun. They’re relatively rare to have two of them collide. And it happens once about every 100,000 years in our galaxy, the Milky Way, Hari.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, did we just get lucky? Did all these people just get lucky when these — kind of all their beepers and bells and whistles started going off that something was afoot?
MILES O’BRIEN: Well, luck favors the prepared scientist, I guess, in this case.
It began with the LIGO instrument. This team just recently won the Nobel Prize for a discovery in 2015 of these gravitational waves, wrinkles in spacetime, that proved out Einstein’s theory of relativity. It did that by detecting the collision of black holes.
Now, in our business of television, we prefer our science illustrated. So, when they discovered that there might possibly be a collision of neutron stars, that includes an explosion and some light, and that made people feel a little more excited.
In August, the LIGO instrument detected one of these gravitational waves, but it was ever so slightly different. It happened a little longer, because these neutron stars move a little slower than black holes.
Another instrument, subsequently, the Fermi, which is an orbiting instrument, detected a gamma ray burst. Scientists thought they were hot on the trail of one of these elusive neutron star collisions, and so they started scrambling.
Edo Berger is part of the team. He’s at Harvard University.
EDO BERGER, Harvard University: As soon as we received an alert from the LIGO instruments telling us that they detected a gravitational wave source, we started calling up observatories all over the world where we have programs that are ready to go for that purpose.
We gave them the coordinates of the source in the sky where they would have to point the telescope, and as soon as they pointed a telescope in that direction, we could look at the images coming in.
MILES O’BRIEN: Working together, the gravitational wave astronomers and the light wave astronomers were able to kind of pinpoint this location very quickly, sort of triangulate in on the galaxy where it was happening, a galaxy that is 130 million light years away.
And it turns out it was much more than a light show. Once they were able to find it and they watched this explosion unfold, they were able to really record the entire electromagnetic spectrum.
And, in it, they were able to see the distinct signatures of all kinds of elements, including these heavy elements, gold, silver, and platinum, proving that is what those — that furnace, that explosion is what creates those particular elements.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So now that we know where some of these heavy elements come from, what do scientists do with that information?
MILES O’BRIEN: Well, it would be nice to go out and get the gold, wouldn’t it, Hari? It’s 130 million light years away. It’s a little bit of a problem.
Somebody actually calculated how much gold would have been created by this particular collision. Just so you know, it comes out to about 10 octillion dollars’ worth. That’s one followed by 27 zeros. So we could quit our day jobs, if we can get out there, Hari.
But, obviously, scientists are not as focused on the gold itself. For them, knowledge is gold.
Duncan Brown is a physics professor at Syracuse University.
DUNCAN BROWN, Syracuse University: This really is a new type of astronomy. We’re now bringing together all the tools that humans have to bear on observing the universe. We can feel ripples in space time. We can see the light from things colliding out there in the universe and exploding and the light from stars.
And bringing all these tools together is going to allow us to learn so much more about the universe.
HARI SREENIVASAN: You know, give me a sense of this collaboration.
Right now, in the United States, we can’t get two parties to agree on something, but you’re talking about different teams from all over the world responding at the drop of a hat.
MILES O’BRIEN: Yes.
And there are cases where astronomers will line up observatories to look at events, and they collaborate on these things. But as best we can tell, this is unprecedented in its scope and its speed of response.
It was really lightning fast once the word got out. About 70 observatories, ultimately, were pointed at this unprecedented event.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, all this happened just last August, but, really, it happened when the dinosaurs were walking around.
MILES O’BRIEN: Year, it’s a little bit of a mind-bender.
When you look at this event 130 million light years away, it took that long for the light to reach us. So, really, it happened 130 million years ago. And that gives you an idea of how old the universe, and it also gives you an idea of how these particles, which are created so far away, ultimately have really great meaning to us.
We end up wearing them. It’s bling.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Miles O’Brien, thanks so much.
MILES O’BRIEN: You’re welcome, Hari.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Let’s turn to the continuing fallout and reaction to the Harvey Weinstein story.
Yesterday, Weinstein resigned from the board of his production company following numerous revelations of sexual harassment and several allegations of assault.
More than three dozen women have said Weinstein harassed them. While Weinstein has admitted to behaving inappropriately, he has said he didn’t physically assault anyone.
One of those women is Katherine Kendall. She was a 23-year-old actress who met Weinstein in 1993. She alleges that he invited her to his apartment in New York, where, she says, he took off his clothes and asked for a massage.
As other actresses began coming forward about their painful experiences, she also went public with her own story.
She joins me now from Los Angeles.
First, thanks for joining us.
And I don’t want to relive something that’s painful for you, but you are taking a public stance on it.
For people who don’t know your story, what happened?
KATHERINE KENDALL, Actress/ Photographer: Well, I was you know, a young actress, and I had had a formal meeting at the Miramax office earlier that day.
And then, at the end of the meeting, which I thought went really well, he invited me to come to screenings. He said: “Welcome to the Miramax family. You know, come to premieres, screenings, et cetera. In fact, there’s one this afternoon. Would you like to come?”
And I said, “Sure.”
And I ended up going to see a movie with him. It ended up just being a movie, not a screening, but the film “Red Rock West.” And, you know, that’s right when I had this sort of sinking feeling that something wasn’t going right.
And then, after the movie, we walked for a few blocks. And he said he needed to go up to his apartment to get something, and would I just come with him real quick? And I sort of said no, and we went back and forth on that for a minute. It was sort of a negotiation with him always, trying to sort of stand my ground, but then be convinced it was OK.
I did go into his apartment. Once there, we talked for a long time about art and movies. And I felt like he was treating me like an intellect.
And I felt like the meeting was going really well, and sort of continued. I didn’t feel unsafe once I was in there. And, at one point, then, he got up to go to the bathroom. And he came back in a robe and asked me to give him a massage.
And I was extremely uncomfortable. And I was like, oh, God, no, I’m not comfortable with that. And we went back and forth on that.
And then he went back to the bathroom again, and came back this time completely naked. And, you know, that changed it entirely for me, too. It just took it to the next place. It was completely disorienting. And I was scared, you know? I was really scared.
And then it became sort of a cat-and-mouse game of, like, how am I going to get out of there?
And I’m — it’s hard to make sense of what someone is trying to do to you when they’re fully naked, and they’re…
HARI SREENIVASAN: Yes.
KATHERINE KENDALL: You know, I’m 105 pounds. He’s a large man standing between me and the door.
And, I mean, I felt very resolute, like, I will definitely get out of here somehow. But I’m not — I’m not sure — I’m not sure what’s going to happen here. You know, a lot was going through my head.
And he said, well, if you won’t give me a massage, will you at least show me your breasts? And it was just — you know, it was, all in all, an extremely humiliating experience for me.
And even though I got away, I felt like something had still — like something horrible had just happened to me.
HARI SREENIVASAN: You know, in the immediate aftermath, did you tell someone about it? Because you have said before that you felt ashamed…
KATHERINE KENDALL: I did.
HARI SREENIVASAN: … even though you were the victim.
KATHERINE KENDALL: I did.
It’s really interesting how that happens. And I think — you know, I’m older now, and I have done some work on myself. And I have learned that a lot of people feel that way.
It’s — it’s not — it wasn’t just me. But the just me feeling that this is my fault, this must have only happened to me, there’s something wrong with me, is so common when someone perpetrates against you.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What were the…
KATHERINE KENDALL: And I did. I told my mom.
And I told some good friends. But, you know, one of the things that happened was, I didn’t want them to tell anybody. You know, people wanted to help me, but they didn’t know how, and I didn’t want them to try too hard, because I didn’t want it to backlash.
I was scared. And I think that it’s important to remember that we don’t really come from a culture that supports women in talking about sexual harassment, in my — in my experience, that is. And, you know, I just haven’t felt like it was something I was going to get support on…
HARI SREENIVASAN: You know, how long…
KATHERINE KENDALL: … in the bigger picture.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Yes.
How long did this feeling last? Or, I guess, what are the longer-term ripple effects here? Did it shake your confidence in your abilities?
KATHERINE KENDALL: I think it did. I think it did. I think it did.
I think it made me feel like, wow, you know, that was a wash. He wasn’t interested at all in what I had to say, or, you know, he didn’t see any talent there or intellect there. He was assessing the situation the whole time for something else.
And I think that — that did hurt. You know, I wish it didn’t.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Yes.
KATHERINE KENDALL: But he had produced so many movies that I thought were wonderful. And it was — it’s hard when someone has made art that you love, and how do you stay attached to liking their art, but feeling conflicted about them?
And, yes, I think it does have long-term effects. I think you tuck it away. And then, for me, also, I realized that it came back when I would see his name or see him in person. I would start to sort of tremble all over again.
I mean, I wouldn’t think about him on a daily basis or anything for years, and then I would see him, and I would think, oh, I don’t feel well. I got to get out of here.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Right.
KATHERINE KENDALL: You know, it would bring up so much emotion.
And the most recent one was the woman in New York, the Italian model. I felt so, so enraged when I saw what happened there, and that they sort of — the police had him, and that then he got away. And then she was being dragged through the press as somebody who just, you know, wanted a payout, et cetera.
HARI SREENIVASAN: You know, in the wake of that, there was — a friend of yours had tweeted, “At some point, all the women who have been afraid to speak out about Harvey Weinstein are going to have to hold hands and jump.” This was back in 2015.
And from your Twitter account, you said, “Agreed.”
It seemed like you almost had the opportunity to come forward.
What made you want to come forward now? Has this become a turning point in the industry?
KATHERINE KENDALL: This is a turning point. It’s a turning point.
There are so many times when I thought about it, and then felt like — there were times when I thought about it and said, well, I have nothing to lose, I will just do it. And then I thought, I — I just didn’t have the strength or the courage yet.
And I think somebody like Jodi Kantor doing the story for The New York Times, the fact that she thought it was a story at all was startling to me and made me feel like, wow, something is going to be done.
And I knew she had told me — I mean, they were looking for women that this had happened to, because they’d been hearing rumors for so long that it happened to so many people. And she had told me other people were coming out.
And I thought, I can’t — when I watched Rose McGowan or any of the other actresses come forward, I just — or Ashley Judd — I just thought, they look strong to me, and I don’t want to be the one that stays silent.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Well, Katherine Kendall…
KATHERINE KENDALL: I want to stand beside them.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Katherine Kendall, thank you very much for speaking with us.
And, hopefully, there are other people that are empowered by you coming forward.
KATHERINE KENDALL: I hope so. Thank you.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: But first: The de facto capital of the Islamic State, Raqqa, in Syria fell yesterday to U.S.-backed forces.
However, the largest city the militants once held was Mosul in Iraq. They were ousted from it in July after a brutal 10-month-long fight that killed thousands.
Now a new major task: finding and destroying the ISIS mines, booby-traps and bombs that litter the city.
Special correspondent Marcia Biggs reports from Iraq.
MARCIA BIGGS, Special Correspondent: It was once a center of learning for over 6,000 students of technology, agriculture, and medicine.
Today, Mosul Technical Institute’s classrooms are burnt to the ground, laboratories reduced to rubble, and books charred and shredded. It’s one of the city’s five universities ravaged by the Islamic State and the battle to oust it.
Now that the battle is over, a new danger looms, the trail of land mines and booby-traps left by ISIS.
So this is the wire, and this is where it was buried.
CHRISTIAN, Team Leader, Janus Global Operations: Yes, they would cut the asphalt, and then they lay the wire in and put the main charge here.
MARCIA BIGGS: We spent the day with Christian, a team leader from Janus Global, a security and risk management firm hired by the U.S. government to sweep and clear major areas of unexploded ordnance and mines.
He’s not allowed to show his face or use his last name, for security reasons.
CHRISTIAN: There’s actually two more on that road before we get to the target building that have to be excavated and/or rendered safe.
MARCIA BIGGS: So, the first building you have to clear, you have got to get rid of the IEDs on the road to that building?
MARCIA BIGGS: It’s a long process.
CHRISTIAN: It is, but that’s what makes it interesting.
MARCIA BIGGS: The United States has sunk $30 million this year into clearing former ISIS territories all over Northern Iraq. Under this program, Janus has already cleared 727 buildings, removing 3,000 IEDs, which they say ISIS was producing on assembly lines at an industrial scale.
But State Department officials and experts say the number of unexploded ordnance in Mosul itself is unprecedented.
What’s your first line of attack, in terms of trying to clear Mosul?
CHRISTIAN: Our priority is more the community, rather than the individual, you know, infrastructure. You have got schools, power, sewer, water, so that the area can accept people back into it. And then, once this stabilization phase is over, we can move into the individual homes, so that they can be safer.
MARCIA BIGGS: Clearing Mosul is a process that they say could take years, even decades. So Janus is training local Iraqis to do the job, sending them out as a front-line search team, then investigating and removing any suspicious items themselves.
CHRISTIAN: We’re not going to be here the whole time, so when we — it’s our time to leave, they will have the capacity built from us, and the mentoring we have done, so that they can do it on their own.
MARCIA BIGGS: How are they doing?
CHRISTIAN: They’re — a lot of them are very apt to learn. They’re quick. They’re smart.
MARCIA BIGGS: Fawzi al Nabdi is the team leader for the Iraqi local partner. He’s cleared mines all over Iraq for the last six years.
CHRISTIAN: What you got?
FAWZI AL NABDI, Team Leader, Al Fahad Company (through interpreter): We are ready for this, because it’s my job and I love it. The Americans are here to complete our work and to help us. They have greater experience than we do. If we find any mines, we have to stop and they will investigate it and make a plan to remove it.
MARCIA BIGGS: But he says Mosul is the biggest project he has ever seen, and we’re told it could take at least a month to just get the campus cleared of mines. Only then can they start cleaning it up, so that students can resume classes, this itself a huge task.
ISIS fighters closed the university back in 2014, and used it as a military base. As coalition forces pounded ISIS targets, this seat of higher learning became a battleground.
Ghassan Alubaidy is the institute’s dean.
GHASSAN ALUBAIDY, Dean, Mosul Technical Institute (through interpreter): ISIS used our university to manufacture mines and bombs. For this reason, it was the target of airstrikes in the beginning. They struck the institute nine times, and they struck our workshops, too. Now we can’t use them.
MARCIA BIGGS: The former commander of coalition forces in Iraq, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, recently listed 81 locations where bombs were dropped, but had not yet exploded.
Facilities used to make weapons were often on the list of high-value targets for the coalition. So now those places are twice as likely to contain dangerous items.
So, this was once a workshop for electrical engineering students. You can still see the lab tables here. It was hit by an airstrike in 2015. Afterwards, members of the university staff found bomb-making instructions among the rubble. This was likely an ISIS bomb-making factory, and judging by the crater, a high-value target.
Despite the damage, Dean Alubaidy says he will hold classes this fall in alternate buildings, until the campus is ready. He’s expecting registration to be in the thousands, students who lost three years of education during the fighting and don’t want to lose another one.
GHASSAN ALUBAIDY (through interpreter): On our Facebook pages, we found a great number of students posting that they were full of encouragement to come back. For us, it was unbelievable. We couldn’t imagine it, to see how many students wanted to start again, how they were dreaming of the first day of classes, when they could sit in front of teachers again and start to live their lives again.
MARCIA BIGGS: Next door, Mosul University has already started classes. Students even volunteered to help in the cleanup.
But across the river, West Mosul was the site of ISIS’ last stand and bore the brunt of the battle. It’s densely packed Old City, with its flattened buildings, is a challenge for mine-sweeping.
FAWZI AL-NABDI (through interpreter): Most of the homes here were full of mines. And just here in front of us, a man with two kids came back to his home, and when he opened the door, the bomb killed him and his kids.
MARCIA BIGGS: Ahmed Younes fled back in early July with only the clothes on his back. Residents have been virtually banned from returning to his neighborhood on the outskirts of the Old City, but Ahmed said he got special permission, in order to retrieve some personal items.
AHMED YOUNES, Local Resident (through interpreter): We came on our own. We got permission to come, but they are not responsible if anything happens to us.
MARCIA BIGGS: Right now, there is no plan to begin clearing the Old City or even to determine how many mines there are. It is still out of bounds to anyone but the Iraqi security forces.
So the Janus team is focusing on progress in the rest of the city, building by building, bomb by bomb.
CHRISTIAN: Whoever made this device had a set goal. And to allow him to win, people get hurt. So you kind of compete against him to be better than him to take it out before it can do any harm.
MARCIA BIGGS: So, you feel like you’re winning the battle against ISIS?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, one IED at a time.
MARCIA BIGGS: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Marcia Biggs in Mosul, Iraq.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Tune in later.
Frontline’s latest film, “Mosul,” was on the ground filming the fight as it unfolded street by street and house by house. That’s tonight on PBS.
The post The battle for Mosul is over, but this hidden ISIS danger could lurk for years appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: We move from Congress to the controversies swirling around the White House.
John Yang has more on the day’s politics.
JOHN YANG: Thanks, Hari.
We turn back to the president’s exchange with that family of a soldier killed in action earlier this month and the president’s role in the bipartisan effort to stabilize the health insurance market.
For that, I’m joined by Karine Jean-Pierre. She’s a senior adviser to MoveOn.org, a contributing editor to “Bustle,” an online women’s magazine, and a veteran of the Obama administration. And Matt Schlapp, he’s the chairman of the American Conservative Union and the former White House political director under President George W. Bush.
Matt, Karine, welcome.
MATT SCHLAPP, American Conservative Union: Great to be here.
JOHN YANG: Karine, let me start with you.
We heard the reporting about the journalistic scrutiny into these telephone calls, contacts the president has with Gold Star families, not just the phone call yesterday, but others.
The White House is pushing back, saying it’s disgusting that journalists are looking into things.
But hasn’t the president brought this on himself in some sense by making the comparison between what he does and what previous presidents do?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, MoveOn.org: That’s exactly right.
That’s how he started off the week. He wanted to change, I’m assuming, the press, because, the day before he started turning the story around, we were talking about moron and adult care center.
So here’s the thing. This is a — this is not new. This is a TV episode in a reality world that we have seen before. He kicked off his presidential campaign attacking John McCain and his military service. He also, once, after he got the Republican nomination back in 2016, he attacked another Gold Star family, the Khan family.
So this is a reoccurring kind of position. And then he starts off the week saying, oh, Obama and presidents before him didn’t do the same, didn’t do that, didn’t have a kind of — how to honor soldiers, and so did Bush, which is somebody that you worked for.
So there is a pattern that is quite bizarre and disturbing for a president, a commander in chief, to have.
JOHN YANG: Matt, what’s your take?
MATT SCHLAPP: I think the pattern is actually on his critics, and I think the critics have enjoyed trying to act like there is somehow a disrespect for the commitment of our military and their families.
And I think it’s actually just the opposite. I think if you look at the support that he gets from military families and the military across the country, I think they’re very appreciative of what he’s doing to re-energize them, and the approach he has on these basic issues of our national security.
And I think the people who are making politics about this are the people who oppose him politically. And I just think there are some things that just aren’t political. And I think when we have dead men and women from the battlefield, I just don’t think it’s political.
Maybe one president will handle it one way. Maybe another president will handle it another way. Maybe not all presidents handle every phone call or every interaction perfectly. But they’re trying to do their best to console somebody who’s got a terrible loss.
And I think when we put this in — make it all about politics and what people’s reactions are, what I care about is, I want our commander in chief to console the families of the fallen, and I’m glad he does it.
JOHN YANG: But, Matt, didn’t the president — I mean, the president raised this. He started this discussion on Monday, when he was asked about the public silence, his silence about the four Green Berets killed in Niger.
And he brought up this comparison to President Obama in particular.
MATT SCHLAPP: Look, you can say it’s a question, but you can also say it’s a charge, and the charge was that he is not quickly enough or often enough calling the families of those who have lost a loved one on the battlefield.
And what he was trying to say is that that’s not accurate, and it’s not accurate to say that all presidents do it a certain way, and, quite frankly, it’s not accurate to say that President Obama called all these families, which is what we saw with the example of General Kelly and the loss of his son.
So, look, presidents — I don’t criticize President Obama for the way he handled his contact with these families. I don’t criticize President Trump with the way he’s trying to console people. I don’t criticize President Bush, and I saw him do it. It’s a tough thing to do.
And, sometimes, by the way, those parents give you a piece of their mind, and that’s part of this, too.
And I think there should be a zone of privacy around this, and I think what we’re doing is, we’re sullying the real — the central focus of this, which is the sacrifice of one American to put their body and their lives to protect the rest of us.
JOHN YANG: Matt, let me stay with you and turn to health care.
We heard the president just yesterday talk about how this bipartisan effort by Senators Alexander and Murray to try to figure out sort of an interim step to stabilize the health insurance markets while they work on repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act, but then today, he comes out and says that he’s against it.
What’s the president doing here? What’s going on?
MATT SCHLAPP: Well, he’s driving his head of legislative affairs crazy, I’m sure.
But, no, there is method to his madness, which is what he’s trying to say is, is that we can get a deal on these payments to make sure that premiums are affordable for working-class people, but, in order to do that, you have to compromise. And this is where Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, they have to decide, if they want to get these CSR payments done, he’s going to need to get some things done that Republicans want to see done in health care reform as well, some of the aspects of the previous bills that have failed in the Senate.
This is true on DACA. This is true on all these issues. The president is definitely willing to come up with a compromise, but it’s not just on that issue. It’s going to have to be coupled with some other issues. So I think there’s a real chance to get something done on this.
But at the end of the day, there’s no more important thing for Republicans than to actually do what they said they would do, which is to repeal and replace Obamacare.
JOHN YANG: So, Karine, is this up to the Democrats to get this thing through, or is it up to the Republicans?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I think that this bipartisan deal was amazing.
It’s hard to get Republicans and Democrats to agree that today is Wednesday. So, the fact that this happened is actually a big deal. And I think the only reason you would oppose this is if you want the premiums to go up and if you want to sabotage the health care system.
So, this is what the American people sent them to do on the Hill, which is work together and bring something forth.
And the thing about — the other part about this that’s really bizarre to me is nearly every piece of legislation that Republicans have brought forth on health care since Donald Trump has been president has had a CSR component to it. So, what’s the difference here?
This is something that will help poor and sick people get health care. This is a very simple fix. It really will help the health care — individuals…
MATT SCHLAPP: He’s willing to fix this question around CSRs, but it has to be coupled with the other reforms. And that’s why it was a component…
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: But don’t — but then he’s politicizing it, just like he does with Gold Star families.
MATT SCHLAPP: It’s Democrats and Republicans working together.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: And that’s the part that I don’t understand. You finally have that. Why are you pushing it away? Why are you opposing it? This is a great thing.
MATT SCHLAPP: The answer is because it’s not just about a fix of CSRs. That’s one tiny little sliver of health care.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: But it’s important for right now. It’s important to make sure that poor and sick — poor people and sick people get health care.
MATT SCHLAPP: The people I deal with want to see the whole thing repealed and replaced, not just a sliver.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Well, Republicans couldn’t do that. They had about three, four tries, and they couldn’t make that happen.
MATT SCHLAPP: OK, you got me there.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: That’s right.
MATT SCHLAPP: You got me there.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: You guys got the House. You got the Senate. You got presidency. Come on.
MATT SCHLAPP: You sound like a Tea Party person.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Hey, I’m just telling you the facts.
JOHN YANG: Matt Schlapp, Karine Jean-Pierre, thanks so much.
MATT SCHLAPP: Thank you.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, John.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to our series of conversations on the future of the Democratic Party.
I sat down with Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego in the studios of Cronkite School of Journalism here at Arizona State University.
He has represented Phoenix in Congress since 2015, and is a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Iraq War.
I began by asking him what’s at stake in the fight over health care.
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO, D-Ariz.: Well, what’s at stake is the rising premiums on millions of Americans, and, according to the CBO, one million Americans not having health insurance next year in 2018.
The Lamar Alexander-Patty Murray compromise seems good on paper. It’s going to pay out the subsidies for the insurance market for the next two years. It does give some flexibility to states about what is covered and how the money is used. I’m waiting to see what those details are.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let’s talk about your party, the Democrats.
It’s been almost a year since the Democrats took a serious drubbing in the 2016 elections. What shape is the Democratic Party in now?
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO: Well, certainly, I think we’re in better shape, and largely because we have a lot more grassroots activism that has taken the party and really molded us, I think, into a stronger party.
Our fund-raising now is largely based on small-dollar donors. You see, you know, people from all walks of life coming out of the shadows to run for office. We’re winning special elections, and in parts that we shouldn’t be winning, like Oklahoma, different — you know, New Hampshire, and districts that were Trump districts.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You said when it came time for a vote for majority — for minority leader in the House last November, that it was time for the party to learn from its mistakes in last year’s election.
You said it needed new leadership. You supported Congressman Ryan of Ohio over Nancy Pelosi to be the House minority leader.
Do you still feel that Nancy Pelosi should be replaced?
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO: Well, at that point, I did feel like it was time for her and leadership to go in general, because I think we didn’t — we had definitely not learned the lessons of what just occurred.
Right now, I think you know, we are midstream. It would be very chaotic for us to change leadership right now. I think it’s important for Leader Pelosi to do her job and do it well. But, also, I think it’s also important for everyone to recognize that she is accountable.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You also said a year ago that you agreed with the American people the message coming from the election was that people are upset with the status quo in Washington.
Is the status quo still what exists in Washington? Or has President Trump, who has come in and been a disrupter, changed all that?
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO: The message that people are seeing, are feeling right now, I would say, is that it’s very chaotic right now.
And the presidency is supposed to bring some level of calmness and some level of certainty. And the fact that it’s not happening, not only is it not happening — it’s that he is the prime cause of this unease — has changed the tone.
I still believe the Democrats need to have a strong message. We need to have a strong economic message, one that is not just the everyday status quo, not just your usual punchlines of training people for the futures of tomorrow, the jobs of tomorrow. That doesn’t do anything.
We need to make sure that people know we’re not just talking about them, that we’re actually fighting for them.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You actually raise a subject I wanted to ask you about.
And that is, because a lot of people look at Democrats and say your message right now is all about anti-Donald Trump, that there’s not enough of a positive message. What is the positive message of Democrats right now?
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO: Look, our positive message is that we are the party that’s going to protect this country.
But, first of all, we’re going to protect you from Donald Trump. Number two, our message is the message that we’re also going to protect your paycheck. We’re going to make sure that you’re going to make better wages, that you’re going to receive all the benefits and dignity you deserve from work.
Number three, we’re going to protect you in terms of your national security.
Donald Trump is a threat. Donald Trump is a threat to our national security. We don’t know how far his collusion went with the Russians, or at least his administration. We know that he is destabilizing our alliances all around the world, and we’re better when it comes to national security than Donald Trump is and the Republican Party.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what the president, though, is saying is the only thing Democrats are doing right now is obstructing his agenda.
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO: He is talking about his agenda vs. America’s agenda.
And that’s not absolutely true. For example, the Murray-Alexander bill, which is a bipartisan bill that has worked through some very…
JUDY WOODRUFF: This is health care.
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO: The health care bill was stopped midway because the president wanted to do repeal and replace.
Now they have — they’re coming back with this bill. They have again the compromise. And President Trump is again rejecting the compromise.
What Donald Trump means by compromise is that we just are supposed to agree with him. This is not land development. This is not some piece of property in, you know, Manhattan. We work together. We build something together. It’s not like — it’s not going to be the way he wants it, and that’s the way the American public is demanding it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to ask you about an issue important all over the country, especially here in the state of Arizona, and that is immigration.
What do you expect Congress is going to do about the so-called dreamers, the young immigrants who came to this country undocumented, brought here by their parents? The president has said he’s going to stop protecting them, but he’s asking Congress to do something about it. What do you think will happen?
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO: Well, again, this is the president, you know, showing no leadership and just passing the buck.
And we’re going to pick it up. I think at, the end of the day, we’re going to protect our dreamers. We’re going to make sure that they have a pathway to citizenship. I don’t know how that looks. At the same time, we’re not going to say, you know, dreamers are allowed to stay in this country and will not be deported, but the parents, we’re going to put them in the process of deportation or increase the chance of them being deported.
We just have not going to be playing — we are just not going to bargain with human lives.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Congressman Ruben Gallego from the state of Arizona, it’s good to talk with you. Thank you very much.
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO: Thank you for having me.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: President Xi Jinping opened China’s twice-per-decade Communist Party Congress today with a lengthy list of his achievements during his first five-year term, and his vision of where he hopes to take his nation.
But beyond the words, Xi is asserting power like no Chinese leader in decades.
William Brangham reports.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The applause, the music, it was a reception befitting the commanding role that Xi Jinping has taken since being named party leader five years ago.
He opened today’s proceedings by hailing reforms he’s put in place, and proclaiming a — quote — “new era for China.”
PRESIDENT XI JINPING, China (through interpreter): The Chinese nation has realized a great leap, from declining in modern history to twisting its fate fundamentally and continuously moving to prosperity.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Over 3.5 hours, Xi laid out his vision to shape the nation of 1.4 billion people into what he called a — quote — “great modern socialist country” over the next three decades.
PRESIDENT XI JINPING (through interpreter): Achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will be no walk in the park, and it will take more than drumbeating and gong-clanging to get there. The whole party must be prepared to make more arduous, strenuous efforts.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Susan Shirk is chair of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California, San Diego.
SUSAN SHIRK, University of California, San Diego: Xi Jinping has a vision of China’s role in the world that is much more ambitious than anything we have seen before, talking about China kind of moving toward the center of the world and having a lot more influence than it did before.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In his address, Xi largely ignored the question of political reforms in China, and he didn’t mention President Trump or North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
But in a rare move, he did acknowledge that with global demand weakening, there were challenges facing China’s export-driven economy.
PRESIDENT XI JINPING (through interpreter): While China’s overall productive forces have significantly improved and in many areas our production capacity leads the world, the more prominent problem is that our development is unbalanced and inadequate.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Xi was one of the first foreign leaders to meet with President Trump.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The relationship developed by President Xi and myself, I think, is outstanding.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That was decidedly warmer than Mr. Trump’s past criticism of China and its economic and trade policies.
But other U.S. officials are more critical of Beijing’s actions.
REX TILLERSON, Secretary of State: China, while rising alongside India, has done so less responsibly.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today criticized China’s aggressive displays of economic and military power, particularly its expansion on man-made islands in the South China Sea.
REX TILLERSON: We will not shrink from China’s challenges to the rules-based order, and where China subverts the sovereignty of neighboring countries and disadvantages the U.S. and our friends.
SUSAN SHIRK: I think there are things to worry about in Chinese foreign policy that are mostly related to these maritime sovereignty issues and to a kind of bullying in Asia, but the global ambition could turn out to be positive.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Susan Shirk says China has filled a vacuum left by the United States’ withdrawal from global agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate accords.
Perhaps the most important thing to watch for in the next few days is who Xi establishes as his likely successor.
SUSAN SHIRK: That is why there is a lot of speculation now that he may be trying, much like Putin, to stay on beyond his normal term or to rule behind the scenes even after he retires.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: President Trump will be traveling to Beijing to meet Xi next month.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m William Brangham.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Army Corporal Dillon Baldridge was killed in Afghanistan in June. He and two fellow soldiers were gunned down by an Afghan police officer suspected of an insider attack.
Baldridge’s father was disturbed by the details of his son’s death and expressed that to President Trump in a phone call. Mr. Trump then apparently took an unusual step for a commander in chief: He offered money.
Dan Lamothe helped break that story for The Washington Post, joins me now.
Thanks for joining us.
So, how did this phone call go?
DAN LAMOTHE, The Washington Post: Yes, so several weeks after the soldier’s death, the president made a call to North Carolina, where the father lives. They had a conversation that the father describes mostly as respectful.
The father expressed some frustration with the way that the death gratuity, basically a benefit that the family received, was going to his ex-wife, rather than some part to him. And the president’s response caught him by surprise. He said, well, I’m going to make sure we write you a $25,000 check, you know, basically for your troubles.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And did that check ever arrive? The White House said that they sent it late today.
DAN LAMOTHE: Yes, so we reached out this morning and received no response for several hours. As of today, the father had not received a check, so the assumption here would be that the check had not been sent until we reached out to the White House this morning to verify this father’s report.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And you discovered this conversation in — kind of the story has a larger context.
You reached out to several different families, Gold Star families, for what happened after their family member died.
DAN LAMOTHE: Yes.
I mean, we have got this larger conversation this week. It’s a very sensitive, very politically charged conversation. And at the center of it are grieving families. So, we thought it was important to reach out to those grieving families. Some of them, obviously and understandably, did not want to speak to us, but quite a few of them did.
And we found that about half of the ones we reached — we reached 13 different families that had lost loved ones since Trump became president — and half of them had received calls from the president. Half of them had not. The majority of the ones who had not were upset when they heard his comments earlier this week that he had called out — called all of them.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And there was even some families or at least one family that had not received anything, no phone call or even a letter.
DAN LAMOTHE: Right.
And you wonder what’s going on there, because that is something that is typically just generated. There are form letters of sorts that the president then signs. There was a time during the height of the Iraq War when we had hundreds of American casualties per month.
We’re now looking at something on the order of several dozen this year, so it’s a much smaller amount. So for this to slip through the cracks at this point is very much a surprise.
HARI SREENIVASAN: How different is this from — when you say logistically, when you think about the number of casualties that were happening in the middle or the height of the Iraq War or the Afghanistan conflict, how different is this time period than what perhaps President Bush or President Obama was dealing with?
DAN LAMOTHE: It’s an order of magnitude smaller.
At the height of the Afghan war, we were talking something on the order of 400 or 500 American fatalities per year in combat. At the height of the Iraq War, we were talking several hundred per month.
So, at this point, we do have casualties. Each one is sad, but it’s a much smaller number. And for the White House to have not kept up was a surprise.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Already, Dan Lamothe of The Washington Post, thanks so much for joining us.
DAN LAMOTHE: Thank you.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: In the day’s other news: Attorney General Jeff Sessions insisted he never lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the presidential campaign. At a hearing today, he bridled at Democratic Senator Al Franken’s accusation that he’d — quote — “moved the goalposts” on the nature of his discussions.
SEN. AL FRANKEN, D-Minn.: First it was, I didn’t have communications with Russians, which wasn’t true. Then it was, I never met with any Russians to discuss any political campaign, which may or may not be true.
Now it’s, I didn’t discuss interference in the campaign.
JEFF SESSIONS, Attorney General: Well, let me just say without hesitation, that I conducted no improper discussions with the Russians at any time regarding the campaign or any other item facing this country.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Sessions has recused himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling.
President Trump had new criticism today for former FBI Director James Comey over the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe. He complained again that Comey decided to clear Clinton before she was even interviewed. That’s based on newly released draft statements by Comey from May of 2016. FBI officials say it was already clear that no charges were warranted.
On another issue, the president faced fallout over the death of Army Sergeant La David Johnson in Niger this month. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson says she was with Mrs. Johnson when the president called. The Florida Democrat told The Washington Post that Mr. Trump said — quote — “He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.”
The sergeant’s mother confirmed it, but the president denied it, and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders went after Wilson.
SARAH SANDERS, White House Press Secretary: This is a president who loves our country very much, who has the greatest level of respect for men and women in uniform and wanted to call and offer condolences to the family, and I think to try to create something from that, that the congresswoman is doing, is, frankly, appalling and disgusting.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The Post also reported on another incident today. It quoted the father of a soldier killed in Afghanistan as saying the president offered $25,000 from his personal account, but never followed through.
We will get more detail on all of this after the news summary.
The death toll in Northern California’s wildfires rose to 42 today. Officials in Sonoma County found the remains of the latest victim, as they searched hundreds of burned homes. Meanwhile, fire crews made new gains overnight with the help of cooler weather and low winds.
A two-time Olympic medalist says the former team doctor for U.S. women’s gymnastics sexually abused her for years. McKayla Maroney is the highest profile athlete to come forward in the scandal. In a statement today, she said Dr. Larry Nassar began molesting her when she was just 13. He’s awaiting sentencing on a child pornography charge, but has denied any sexual abuse.
More questions tonight about drug pricing. A new study finds the costs of injectable cancer drugs, approved since 1996, rose an average of 25 percent over eight years. That’s far higher than the rate of inflation. The study was based at Emory University and published in “The Journal of Clinical Oncology.”
And on Wall Street, health insurers and IBM fueled a surge in stocks today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 160 points, more than half-a-percent, to close above 23000 for the first time. The Nasdaq rose just a fraction, and the S&P 500 was up two points.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Confusion reigns in Washington tonight over an effort to save the subsidies in Obamacare.
Two senators, Republican Lamar Alexander and Democrat Patty Murray, had announced an agreement. Then, the president entered the fray.
Lisa Desjardins has the story.
LISA DESJARDINS: From President Trump and the White House, multiple statements in 24 hours left heads spinning on exactly where he stands on a bipartisan health care fix.
First, positive words yesterday afternoon.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And they’re coming up, and they’re fairly close to a short-term solution.
LISA DESJARDINS: Then, last night at the conservative Heritage Foundation, a seeming rebuke.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: While I commend the bipartisan work done by senators Alexander and Murray — and I do commend it — I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess, instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies.
LISA DESJARDINS: He echoed the same concern this morning on Twitter.
Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responded on the Senate floor, saying the president is going back on his word and appears confused.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., Minority Leader: The president ought to know what he is talking about when he tweets about bills, because, on this one, he has no understanding of what it’s about.
LISA DESJARDINS: Finally, this afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the president is opposed to the deal as it stands now.
SARAH SANDERS, White House Press Secretary: The bill is a step, a good step in the right direction, but it is not a full approach, and we need something to go a little bit further to get on board.
LISA DESJARDINS: The job of untangling it all fell to Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, trying to craft this deal to stabilize health care markets. He spoke with Mr. Trump this morning.
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER, R-Tenn.: You know, some people think the president doesn’t know what he’s doing around here. I don’t think that. He told me that he wanted to encourage me, but that he will review it, as I would expect a president to do.
LISA DESJARDINS: Soon after that, the president stressed his main concern.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: If something can happen, that’s fine, but I won’t do anything to enrich the insurance companies.
LISA DESJARDINS: So would the compromise enrich insurers? Let’s look.
The billions in continued subsidies here are to cover co-pays and deductibles for lower-income Americans. Insurance companies are meant to be a kind of middleman. Insurers pay the doctor for those poorer individuals’ costs, and the government sends insurers the subsidies as a kind of repayment.
Without the subsidies, insurers legally still must cover these costs for poor Americans. So, to make up the money, they have made it clear they would raise premiums. And some already are.
Republican Senate sources say the president is worried that insurers could take advantage of that money flow, but Senator Alexander insists the bill has provisions to police them.
So, where do the bill’s chances stand? The president wants some changes. Schumer says all or most Democrats will vote yes. And Alexander, not one to overstate things, says this.
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER: I would predict that before end of the year that this agreement in one form or another will become law.
LISA DESJARDINS: For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Lisa Desjardins.
HARI SREENIVASAN: As the confusion played out in Washington, 19 state attorneys general filed suit to continue the health care subsidies under Obamacare. The president announced last week that he will cut off the payments to insurance companies.
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