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Republican repeal effort in ruins, ‘we’re going to be living with Obamacare’ for foreseeable future
Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Mar 24, 2017
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The Republican effort to replace Obamacare, the health care law, lies in ruins tonight.
At the 11th hour today, House GOP leaders gave up trying to hold a vote on their bill.
Our Lisa Desjardins has been at the Capitol all day. She begins our coverage.
REP. PAUL RYAN, R-Wis., Speaker of the House: I will not sugarcoat this. This is a disappointing day for us.
LISA DESJARDINS: After a dramatic week of will they or won’t they, Republicans’ selected won’t, pulling their sweeping health care bill shortly before a scheduled vote, when it clearly was short of the support it needed.
REP. PAUL RYAN: Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains. And, well, we’re feeling those growing pains today. We came really close today, but we came up short.
Doing big things is hard. All of us, all of us, myself included, we will need time to reflect on how we got to this moment.
LISA DESJARDINS: The House speaker then acknowledged the resulting reality.
REP. PAUL RYAN: Obamacare is the law of the land. It’s going to remain the law of the land until it’s replaced. We did not have quite the votes to replace this law. And so, yes, we’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you very much. We were very close, very, very tight margins.
LISA DESJARDINS: President Trump pointed to a lack of Democratic votes and said he’s open to discussing another bill. But, for now, health care will stay as it is.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I have been saying for the last year-and-a-half that the best thing we can do, politically speaking, is let Obamacare explode, and it is exploding right now.
LISA DESJARDINS: This after a wild 24 hours of promises and pressure, with Vice President Pence meeting with the conservative Freedom Caucus today, and the White House standing by an ultimatum President Trump issued last night, that, if the bill failed, he wouldn’t return to the issue.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer today:
SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: I know that the president’s made it clear that this is the effort, this was the train that’s leaving the station, and that he expects everyone — that this is our opportunity.
LISA DESJARDINS: Republicans also dangled some carrots, adding new changes last night to win votes. For moderates, they revived a Medicare tax on the wealthy, using the proceeds to help states increase health coverage, and for conservatives, a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee of basic, essential benefits, things like E.R. visits, prescriptions and preventative care.
Removing the essential benefits did sway some members.
Joe Barton of Texas:
REP. JOE BARTON, R-Texas: That is a big win for conservative values, so I am now a yes vote.
LISA DESJARDINS: Others refused to budge, including Barton’s fellow Texan Louie Gohmert.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT, R-Texas: The president shouldn’t give any more energy. This was up to us. It wasn’t up to him. And I’m grateful that he spent as much effort trying as hard as he did.
LISA DESJARDINS: More no’s came from the ranks of moderates. The chair of House appropriations, New Jersey’s Rodney Frelinghuysen, cited cuts to Medicaid funding.
At the White House, President Trump said this morning he has no regrets.
QUESTION: Did you rush it, do you think?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We will see what happens.
LISA DESJARDINS: Mr. Trump also said he had full faith in Speaker Ryan moving forward.
But, by early afternoon, Ryan was at the White House, delivering the grim news on the bill’s prospects. Democrats, meanwhile, pointed to the Republicans’ disunity.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif., House Minority Leader: I think their mistake really was they were so focused on embarrassing the Affordable Care Act, rather than trying to improve it.
LISA DESJARDINS: Three months into their control of government, Republicans have a central political and policy platform to rebuild.
And this is a seismic moment. Speaker Ryan says, nonetheless, he’s moving to the next big mountain to climb, tax reform, even though accomplishing tax reform will now be harder, Judy, because they don’t have the savings that he was hoping for from health care reform.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa, a lot of finger-pointing going on. What is your reading from talking to all the people you have talked to about why they couldn’t get this done?
LISA DESJARDINS: Yes, I want to try and set aside all the blame game — there is a lot of that — and focus on three things.
One, I just talked to Chairman Greg Walden, who was one of the co-authors of this bill. He said he felt that the goalposts kept moving from conservatives and moderates, that they would give them one thing, and then they would ask for more. That’s one factor.
Another, Republicans have a very large conference, but with that also comes large differences in policy, and they couldn’t bridge those. The third, Judy, the timeline, I think, was a very big factor. The Republicans shot for the moon here trying to pass a massive bill in just three weeks. That didn’t leave any breathing room for very serious concerns. And that’s why I think we saw this bill fail.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa, what are Republicans saying about what they think the implications are for their party, for them?
LISA DESJARDINS: They’re worried about 2018.
Democrats would need a sweep to retake the House, but for the first time, I had two different Republican members tell me today they’re worried that that sweep is possible. And it’s not just about their individual elections, Judy, but this takes the kind of air out, all the energy out from conservative causes across the board.
They have been campaigning on this up and down, nonprofits, politicians, for seven years, and they’re just not sure where the energy now is going to come from for all of these groups that have been pushing for conservative causes for years.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And just quickly, what about Speaker Ryan himself? How is he affected by this?
LISA DESJARDINS: I actually think Speaker Ryan is doing OK.
Our Julie Percha, producer up here, spoke to several members of the Freedom Caucus who had nothing but good things to say about Speaker Ryan. Also, in his benefit, Judy, it doesn’t look like anyone else wants his job right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Hmm. That’s interesting. All right.
Lisa Desjardins at the Capitol, we thank you.
And now a view from the White House today.
Reporter Robert Costa of The Washington Post interviewed the president as the bill was being pulled from consideration.
And Robert joins me now in the studio.
Robert, the president called your cell phone. What did he say?
ROBERT COSTA, The Washington Post: Yes. He did. I was sitting over here in Arlington. It was a blocked number.
And he got right to the point. He said, “Bob, I’m pulling the bill.”
And he had just met with House Speaker Ryan. And he said the votes weren’t there.
My whip count had about three dozen Republicans who were probably not going to back the measure, but he said it was closer, about five to 12 votes away. And he said he’s ready to move on. He’s going to not hold the bill for a few days. He’s going to wait, in his words, to let it explode.
JUDY WOODRUFF: He said in his remarks to the group of reporters, the so-called pool there in the Oval Office, he said that it’s going to be — the next move is up to the Democrats.
Is that your sense of what they’re looking for, or are they just shoving it to the side now?
ROBERT COSTA: He seems to be open to a bipartisan deal.
We will see if that actually emerges. But I said, you’re kind of a non-ideological president, even though you’re a Republican. Maybe you’re more natural down the road doing something with the Democrats. He said, a lot of people may say that, and he said it with a chuckle.
But whether the Democrats would be willing to work with the president, we will have to see. I thought it was striking, though. He was pretty even-tempered. And he finished the conversation. I said, you have been in the presidency for 60 days. Have you learned anything? What’s the lesson here?
He said, “Just another day in paradise.”
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Robert, he didn’t give any sense of regret or a sense that something he did or his party did had gone wrong?
ROBERT COSTA: Not a bit of regret.
Defiance was the tone, even-tempered, but defiant. He said, if the premiums rise, in his words, by 100 percent or 70 percent or 200 percent, just publish the story at The Post. He said he’s going to blame the Democrats.
It was very partisan, very political. I also said, did you blame the speaker? You’re the newcomer to Washington, Mr. President. Do you blame the House speaker at all, as some of your allies are behind the scenes?
And he said three times, “I don’t blame Paul.”
JUDY WOODRUFF: So revealing, Robert Costa.
And you’re going to be hosting “Washington Week” a little later tonight on PBS.
ROBERT COSTA: Eight o’clock.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We will be watching.
ROBERT COSTA: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you.
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News Wrap: Keystone XL pipeline gets building permit from State Department Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Mar 24, 2017
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And in the day’s other news: The State Department issued a permit to build the long-delayed Keystone X.L. Pipeline. The $8 billion project would allow oil to be piped from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. President Obama had rejected the project mainly for environmental reasons, but in the Oval Office today, President Trump said reversing that decision puts the country’s economic security first.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It’s a great day for American jobs, and a historic moment for North America and energy independence.
This announcement is part of a new era of American energy policy that will lower costs for American families, and very significantly, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create thousands of jobs.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The oil industry hailed the decision. Environmental groups vowed to keep fighting the pipeline.
A federal judge in Virginia ruled in favor today of the president’s revised travel ban. The judge rejected arguments by Muslim plaintiffs who said the ban was discriminatory. And that directly contradicts federal courts in Maryland and Hawaii that have blocked the order. The split increases the likelihood that the issue will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In London, police have made two more arrests in Wednesday’s terror attack that killed four people near Parliament. They have taken 10 people into custody since 52-year-old Khalid Masood drove an SUV into pedestrians, before being killed himself. Security was tight again today around the site of the attack.
Meanwhile, Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith leaders gathered outside Westminster Abbey for a minute of silence.
There may be a new migrant disaster in the Mediterranean. A Spanish aid group reports that hundreds are feared dead in three possible sinkings off Libya. Rescue workers were out today hunting for survivors. The search began after they came across bodies in the water.
JUAN FE JIMENEZ, Volunteer Doctor:Yesterday at 6:30 in the morning, we found the first body, and four more of young African migrants from ages between 16 and 25. Then we found also the wrecks of two boats. We guess there might be around 200 people missing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So far this year, almost 600 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. More than 5,000 perished in 2016. That was the deadliest year ever.
Salvage crews in South Korea today finished raising a sunken ferry responsible for the deaths of more than 300 people in 2014. Then, two barges began towing the ferry to a transport vessel that will take it to a port for inspection. Most of the victims of the sinking were high school students on a trip.
Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been released after six years in custody. Mubarak, now 88, had been tried on charges of ordering the killing of protesters during the Arab Spring revolt in 2011. Earlier this month, Egypt’s top appeals court cleared him. The former leader held power for 30 years before being overthrown.
Back in this country, the House Intelligence Committee’s probe of Russian contacts with Trump campaign advisers erupted into fresh acrimony today. Republican Chair Devin Nunes called off a public hearing next Tuesday with former intelligence agency leaders. Instead, he said the panel needs to hear again from leaders of the FBI and National Security Agency in a closed session.
REP. DEVIN NUNES, R-Calif.: Until we can get them in a closed session, it’s not going to be worth it having the open session. So all members have a chance to interview them and hold a hearing in the closed session.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Then the Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff, quickly challenged the decision and disputed the chairman’s explanation.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-Calif.: There must have been a very strong pushback from the White House about the nature of Monday’s hearing. It’s hard for me to come to any other conclusion about why an agreed-upon hearing would be suddenly canceled. Clearly, it had to do with events of this week.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Earlier this week, Nunes drew heat for informing the president that some Trump transition communications were intercepted, without first telling committee Democrats. Today, Nunes also announced that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will appear voluntarily before the committee. We will get back to all of this a little later in the program.
It’s being reported that President Trump will continue to get financial reports on his business empire. “Forbes” magazine quotes the president’s son Eric as saying that he will likely provide quarterly updates. Before taking office, the president announced that he would separate himself from his companies to avoid any conflicts of interest.
A North Carolina man who fired an assault-style rifle inside a Washington pizzeria pleaded guilty today to weapons charges. Edgar Welch told police that he drove from North Carolina last December to investigate a bogus online conspiracy theory. It claimed that the pizza shop, named Comet Ping Pong, was home to a child sex ring involving Hillary Clinton.
And Wall Street closed out its worst week since the election. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 60 points today to close at 20596. The Nasdaq rose 11 points, while The S&P 500 slipped about two. For the week, all three indexes were down 1 percent to 1.5 percent.
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Where does Congress go next on health care? Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Mar 24, 2017
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now the aftermath of today’s failure by Republicans to move ahead with repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
We talk with prominent figures in both political parties about what it means and what is next.
I spoke a short while ago with eight-term Democratic Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio.
Congressman Ryan, welcome.
What do you make of all this?
REP. TIM RYAN, D-Ohio: Well, it’s been a very interesting day, Judy, you know, a lot going on here on the Hill.
But, clearly, the Republicans didn’t have the cohesiveness, the plan that was going to move this piece of legislation forward. And I think the plan really, in so many ways, was disastrous. It was knocking 24 million people off of their health care. That became something that a lot of members weren’t willing to go home and defend.
The repealing out of the stance abuse coverage, the mental health coverage, for people who have to go back to districts and states that are seeing one of the greatest heroin and drug epidemics in the history of our country happen right before their very eyes, that becomes very tough to vote for when it hits the ground back in places like Ohio or other states that are having these huge substance abuse epidemics happening.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Speaker Ryan is saying — he just said to the press a few minutes ago that the real disaster is Obamacare, the current Affordable Care Act, that he says it’s something that’s collapsing of its on weight, premiums are going up. He said a third of the counties in the country have only one plan to choose from.
REP. TIM RYAN: Well, there are some issues with the Affordable Care Act.
We made great strides. We covered 20 million people. We are bending the cost curve in the long term. Many people have the kind of coverage that I just talked about, mental health, substance abuse, preventative care, prenatal care, all the things that save you money in the long run. That is in the Affordable Care Act.
So, let’s sit down and try to fix the things that we need to fix. Part of the problem is, the Republicans gutted payments to the insurance companies that would have allowed them to participate in some of these riskier areas. We needed to get coverage in these areas, but you needed to help the insurance companies, so they wouldn’t lose money.
The Republican Party gutted that part of the budget, those insurance transfer payments. So, that’s when the insurance companies started to leave. And so they’re saying it’s not working in certain areas. Well, because they cut the funding to some of those areas.
Let’s sit down, Judy, and fix the problems. There are problems there. I’m not ashamed to admit it. We passed a great piece of legislation that had some flaws. Let’s sit down and fix them, Democrats and Republicans, and make this thing work.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, is your party prepared to do that, and do you think the Republicans are prepared to do that?
REP. TIM RYAN: Well, I don’t speak on behalf of my entire party, but I know I’m willing to sit down and say, look, we have made some great strides.
There are some issues. Let’s sit down and fix them. I have raised my hand to say, I’m all in to try to make sure that health care is more affordable for more people, that it’s more accessible. We should have universal coverage and that should be affordable for everybody.
Here’s the thing, Judy. And I hope Republicans would be willing to sit down and do it. They have been complaining about Obamacare for seven years. They get into power, and their first legislative initiative, they can’t even pass something that is an attempt to fix it, but that was because it was making it worse, I think, was why it didn’t pass.
But here’s the thing. We’re the United States of America. We’re the wealthiest country in the world. And yet we’re 37th in health care delivery. We spend 2.5 times what other developed countries spend on health care. Clearly, we’re not doing everything right. We need to move more of that money into prevention.
We need to make sure that our citizens are healthier. We got to have a big national conversation about our food system. This is how we’re going to solve the problem in the long run.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, when President Trump says this was due to — that this is really the Democrats’ fault, what’s your answer?
REP. TIM RYAN: Well, we’re not even in the majority in the House of Representatives. I mean, how could it possibly be our fault?
He has complete control of the House of Representatives. They’re all Republicans. And he couldn’t even get the Republicans to pass it.
And it’s typical Donald Trump. He’s going to find somebody to blame, and so he’s going to blame the Democrats. I assume he’s going to blame President Obama and maybe even Hillary Clinton for this problem.
They need to take responsibility. They need to put a plan forward that their members can vote on and that actually solve problems. The problem right now with the Republican Party, Judy, is they’re living by bumper sticker slogans.
But now they’re not in the minority. They’re in the majority now. The dog has actually caught the car, and they got to figure out how to govern the country.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Representative Tim Ryan, we thank you for talking with us.
REP. TIM RYAN: Thanks for having me.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, for an opposing perspective, I am joined by Lanhee Chen. He is a fellow at the Hoover Institution who advised Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio in their presidential campaigns.
Lanhee Chen, welcome back to the program.
What’s your reaction to what happened today?
LANHEE CHEN, The Hoover Institution: Well, thank you, Judy.
I think this is clearly a self-inflected wound for Republicans. They had the opportunity to move ahead on really the only train out of town, if you will, to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with some other reforms. And they didn’t do so.
And I think it is real disappointment for those who have been seeking to do this for some time. And we will have to see what happens next, but it appears as though health care is off the table for some period of time.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And I want to ask you about that, but what about the president? The president’s comment is that this is all due to the Democrats, not Republicans.
LANHEE CHEN: Well, Democrats certainly weren’t helpful. They didn’t participate in the process, obviously.
But, from the Republican perspective, there were a lot of people here that appeared to say they wanted a perfect piece of legislation. And it seems to me that they allowed the perfect to be the enemy of the good in this case, that there were a lot of things about this legislation that would have moved the ball forward, for example, on reform of Medicaid, which is a huge entitlement program.
If they had actually voted for the bill, they would have been moving forward that effort. Instead, it seems to me, there are some Republicans that stood in the way. And, as I said, I really see this as a self-inflicted wound more than anything else.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what do you think should happen next? I mean, the president is saying — we heard this from what he told to — told Robert Costa with The Washington Post. He said, I’m moving on to tax reform.
LANHEE CHEN: It’s going to be a challenge. As Speaker Ryan said today, not being able to get this done, I think, does make tax reform harder.
I think it is probably wise to move on to a different subject for some period of time. It is clear that there are divisions within the Republican Party, Judy, about how to handle health care and health care reform going forward.
I do think this notion that Obamacare is going to collapse in one, large giant flame is probably simply inaccurate. I think it’s the case that, in many markets, you are going to see significant issues, but the Medicaid expansion will continue. And Obamacare will, by and large, continue as well.
So, I think we need to take a step back, take stock of what’s going to happen, and hopefully return to this issue at some point in the future.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s interesting you should say that, because I’m looking at what the president said when he talked to the press a short time ago.
He said what you just said. He predicted that it will collapse. And he said, at that point, Democrats are going to come crawling back, in so many words, looking for a way to work with Republicans.
But you’re saying that your view of this whole thing is different.
LANHEE CHEN: Yes.
I mean, I think, more than anything, Judy, I would call this kind of a slow-motion train wreck more than a significant sort of single implosion or single situation where the bill completely — where Obamacare completely goes down in flames.
I think it’s the case there are some markets where there’s significant difficulty. There will be additional markets where there will be even more difficulty as we get toward the end of 2017 into 2018. But something like the Medicaid expansion, that will continue, and that will continue to place pressure on the federal budget, as well as on state budgets.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, if you’re saying it’s not a good idea for Republicans to come back to this issue right now, what happens to it? Where do you see this going?
LANHEE CHEN: Well, I do think, as I said, in certain markets, you are going to see, particularly on the individual market side and Obamacare exchanges, you are going to see continuing declines if insurer participation.
I do think premiums continue to go up in some markets. And I think there will need to be efforts made to look at how to repair the individual market and to shore up that part of this.
But if we want to go toward larger system change, toward entitlement reform, et cetera, that’s going to have to be a completely different discussion. And it is going to be something that Republicans have to get on the same page on first before that ball gets moved forward.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And how long does it take until you see Republicans getting there?
LANHEE CHEN: Well, I thought — I had hoped they would have been able to get there hopefully over the last few weeks, but that obviously didn’t happen.
I think it’s something where they’re going to have to revisit this issue after dealing more seriously with whether it’s tax reform or infrastructure spending or some other issue to be able to demonstrate that they can govern and then hopefully come back to this issue as time goes on.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Lanhee Chen, we thank you very much.
LANHEE CHEN: Thank you.
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Rep. Swalwell: Nunes ‘betrayed’ duty to independent Russia probe Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Mar 24, 2017
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The drama on Capitol Hill today wasn’t just on the health care front. As we reported earlier, the House Intelligence Committee descended into further division over its Russia investigation.
Hari Sreenivasan has that.
HARI SREENIVASAN: There were new and more serious fractures today on the Intelligence Committee. It’s investigating Russian meddling in last year’s election, and alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
Now the very direction of the probe itself seems in question.
Here for some more on this is one of the committee’s Democratic members, Representative Eric Swalwell of California.
Congressman, you have said before that you feel that Chairman Devin Nunes has a conflict of interests. Do you think he’s taking orders from the White House?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL, D-Calif.: I think he betrayed the duty to conduct an independent, collaborative investigation.
We were attacked by Russia this past election, and our constituents are counting on us to get to the bottom of what happened. He’s going off on his own, and receiving classified information, not sharing it with members of the committee, taking it to the White House, where the president’s campaign is currently under criminal and counterintelligence investigations.
I think what we need to do is, he needs to find an on-ramp, because this investigation must continue to go forward. And he must work with Democrats. Otherwise, our constituents are going to ask, how can you conduct a credible investigation into the largest attack that our elections have ever seen?
HARI SREENIVASAN: The information at the center of this particular controversy, he said that he has information of apparent unmasking of identified of U.S. persons tied to the Trump campaign collected under legal surveillance. Have you now seen in the last couple of days seen any of this information?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL: He should unmask this evidence for his colleagues on the Intelligence Committee. And that is what is so disturbing.
He told us yesterday, after he apologized for how this happened, that we would see this evidence today. We haven’t seen it. No one knows who or what he is talking about. And, again, it has seriously compromised the independence of an investigation that people are counting on us to conduct.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Now, just in the past 24 hours or so, the Democratic head of the Congress, Adam Schiff, has said that there is also — quote — “more than circumstantial evidence of collusion” between Trump campaign and Russia.
Have you seen any of that?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL: No, so, that’s reserved for members of the Gang of Eight, who include the chairman of the committee and the ranking member.
But I do credit our ranking member, who is pushing for all members of the committee to have access to this information. But I would also tell you, Hari, that there is enough information out there in the unclassified world that shows serious ties, personal, political and financial, that converge with Russia as they were conducting this interference campaign.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In your opinion, what can salvage this investigation?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL: Well, it’s really — the speaker is the one who is in charge of who chairs the Intelligence Committee. And it looks like he was party to this stunt. He authorized Devin Nunes to receive the information and take it to the White House.
And so we are going to continue to go forward, as Democrats, and listen to witnesses and review evidence. But we need an independent commission now more than ever. That’s not only the most comprehensive way to get to the bottom of what happened. Now it’s an insurance policy against this compromised investigation.
HARI SREENIVASAN: We heard the chairman’s comments this morning. Do you know why he made next week’s session closed with FBI Director Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL: To further obstruct us from getting to the bottom of the truth.
And that’s what is so frustrating here, is, we had an open hearing. The American people for the first time since this attack heard evidence about Russia’s conduct and the Trump team ties, had that evidence validated by the FBI director, who confirmed an investigation is under way.
And they were looking forward to a hearing this coming Tuesday from other witnesses who had information. And to cancel it, I think, only obstructs our pursuit for the truth.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But isn’t the bulk of the committee’s work done behind closed doors?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL: Only if we have to pass classified information to a witness or we have to receive classified information from a witness.
And, in this case, we had already received opening statement testimony in an unclassified form from the witnesses. And so now this is on hold. And people at home are wondering, what are you going to do to make sure we’re never in this mess again?
HARI SREENIVASAN: There were reports this afternoon that advisers close to President Trump, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort and Carter Page, they are interested in having a public hearing. They feel essentially that they’re under the microscope here and they want an opportunity to address the committee.
Is that an option?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL: Yes.
We are very interested in having them testify only in public. And I think the only way we really earn and reclaim the independence of this committee is to bring those witnesses forward in public and ask them about serious questions around what they were doing, why they were going to Russia as this interference campaign was going on, and, for Mr. Manafort, why such extensive financial ties to Russia and pro-Russia individuals.
HARI SREENIVASAN: We had two almost separate press conferences today by the heads of this committee. What puts this back on track towards any sort of bipartisan kind of effort?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL: Well, first, the chairman needs to fulfill the promise he made to the committee members yesterday, including members on his own side, that he will show us evidence that he received and took over to the White House. That’s the first step.
And, unless that occurs, I don’t see how we get back to having the real credibility that the American people are counting on us to have.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Representative Eric Swalwell, thank you.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL: Yes. My pleasure, Hari.
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Shields and Brooks on Obamacare repeal failure, Gorsuch grilling Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Mar 24, 2017
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JUDY WOODRUFF: But first to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields, and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
Gentlemen, I’m sorry there is no news to talk about today, but let’s see what we can find.
Mark, seriously, the move today in the Congress and by the president to pull this health care bill, what is there to say? The Republicans wanted — they said for months that this is what was going to happen.
MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: The first thing, Judy, is, I think, a general statement. The Republican Party is an opposition party. It’s a protest party.
We have a protest president. We have a protest party. It’s not a governing party. It showed itself unable to accept the responsibility and the accountability of governing.
This bill wasn’t a bad bill. This bill was just an abomination. There was no public case that could be made for the bill. There was no public argument that could be made for the bill, because nobody knew what was in it. There was no public campaign for the bill, because no organizations — every organization that cares — that was involved in medical care, whether it was the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, they were all against the bill.
It was a terrible bill. There was nothing organized. The only organizing principle is, it was against Barack Obama. And Paul Ryan, a very earnest policy wonk, showed himself to be an inept political leader. He couldn’t even lean on the safest seats in his own party’s caucus.
Those are ones you say, these are people who are really not threatened for reelection. I need you. You have to vote.
He couldn’t even do that. And Donald Trump showed he has no understanding of the legislative process. He dealt in adjectives. It was wonderful, fantastic, glorious. He had no idea what was in it. The art of the deal just collapsed, and this is a man who gave away the store to the Freedom Caucus, and got nothing in return, didn’t even get their votes.
I mean, on no count was this anything but a disaster politically, and public policy, and just for the country.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you explain it, David?
DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: Well, all those things contributed, Trump’s bad negotiation, lack of experience, the factionalism.
And people talk about divisions within the party, blah, blah, blah, but the core problem was philosophical and intellectual. The problem was with the substance of the bill. We live in a country that has widening inequality, where there’s a lot of people very — being very insecure.
And the Republicans could have taken some of their approaches, like the tax credits, like the health savings accounts and a lot of things, and to deal with the country as it is, as, say, take those mechanisms, market mechanisms, to reduce costs, but to give people basic security and shore up the coverage that they have now.
But, instead of doing that, they gave a bill that was, like, out of “1984,” which devastated the poor, $880 billion cut out of Medicaid, while enriching the rich, increasing the after-tax incomes of people making more than a million dollars by 14 percent.
So, this was like every stereotype of the Republican Party. And so it just didn’t fit the country. And the core problem for the Republicans is they can’t figure out what they want to govern.
Even if they were the best and most efficient legislators in the history of the world, if you don’t know what you want to do, and you don’t know how you’re going to address this country’s problems, you’re going to wind up with bills which are superficial, intellectually incoherent and unpopular.
And the last Quinnipiac poll had this at 17 percent. And so it was a failure of understanding, what we do we want to do? That’s what killed this bill.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And so what does that mean, Mark, for what the Republicans say they want to do next? The president and Speaker Ryan suggested tax reform. Major tax reform is the next on the agenda.
MARK SHIELDS: The deal that Republicans in Congress essentially made with Donald Trump, who they didn’t know and in most cases didn’t particularly trust, was, he will be the instrument of our achieving our agenda. He will be — whether it’s deregulation, whether it’s tax reform, or whatever.
I think that relationship was ruptured. Mutual trust, to the degree that it existed, was depleted today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Between the president and …
MARK SHIELDS: Between the president and his party in Congress, the party itself.
Judy, I don’t think it’s going to — it’s not going to be easy. I don’t think anything is going to be easy from this point forward. If you are a Republican, all of a sudden, the midterm elections of 2018 got a lot closer. Why do I say that?
Because when a president’s job approval rating is 50 percent or above, the president’s party loses an average of 14 House seats in the midterm election. When a president’s job rating is below 50 percent, his party loses an average of 37 House seats.
Donald Trump today is in — in the best polls, in the high 30s. It’s hard to see how his numbers are going to go far north from here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It is still early.
MARK SHIELDS: It is still early. It’s 64 days and all the rest of it.
But this is not a confidence-builder. This is not a trust-builder. And Republicans, all of a sudden, are starting to get nervous about 2018. They thought 2018, if you will recall, when they thought Hillary Clinton was going to win, was going to be the arrival of the golden age.
And right now, they’re going to be on defense. There is no Hillary Clinton to run against. There is no Barack Obama to run against. It’s a referendum on Donald Trump and his party. And, right now, that is not working in their direction.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What can Republicans get done now?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, if they stick with — I think Paul Ryan is a wonderful guy, a great politician, a good thinker.
MARK SHIELDS: Not a great politician.
DAVID BROOKS: OK, fair, fair.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes. No.
DAVID BROOKS: OK. But people like him. People on the Hill like him.
The ones who were going to vote for the bill, a lot of it was just to support Paul Ryan. But, intellectually, he used to work at a place called Empower America, where Jack Kemp and Bill Bennett worked. And it had — it was the orthodoxy of the 1980s Republicanism.
And if Republicans stick with that, well, then they will go down to defeat after defeat. And to me, the big question is, how will Donald Trump react to this? There was a lot of enmity, frankly, between him and Ryan in the last few days, bad communication, cutting deals behind each other’s backs, mostly Trump to Ryan.
And so will he say, OK, I’m not going to do this again? I’m going to run — I’m going to govern as a true populist. And maybe break up some of the orthodoxies that separate Democrats from Republicans. Maybe I won’t try to pass bills without — through the reconciliation process, which is a technical thing, but messes up every bill you try to pass, because it’s so arcane, restrictions on what you can put in a bill. And maybe I will try to be a 65 percent — get some Democrats, get some Republicans, and violate the Republican orthodoxy.
To me, that’s the smart lesson out of this. Run or govern — try to govern the way you actually ran, which is not orthodox Republican, anybody but.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, if he does that, Mark, where does that leave Republicans, his own — his party?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, I’m not sure where it does.
I don’t think he’s constitutionally capable of doing that. The time to do that, David, was after the election. I mean, the country was yearning to be united. It was divided. It was polarized. That was the time to do it. You don’t do nine rallies. You don’t do red state rallies.
On the eve of the vote, you don’t go to Louisville and have cries of “Lock her up” in the room. You don’t do that. That is playing to the narrowest base.
I agree. At the outset, on health care, he should have brought in the Democrats and the Republicans and say, look, they have to come in. But he beat up on Obamacare, said it was terrible, it was horrendous, it was awful, it had to go.
Where is the purchase there for the Democrats to say, we want to be part of it? Now he’s walking away from health care in the country. He is responsible. They are the governing party. Do Republicans understand that? If health care is in trouble in this country, it’s the Republicans.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. This is a point to be underlined that Lanhee Chen made the good point that Obamacare is not going to explode. No one — on expert thinks that. It may deteriorate over time, but it’s not going to explode. They’re not going to walk back into this.
Second, Republicans now own the health care system in this country. And so it’s not like people are going to blame Barack Obama. He’s never going to be on the ballot again.
MARK SHIELDS: That’s right.
DAVID BROOKS: When things go bad, they’re going to blame the Republicans.
So, that’s why I think — I agree. I don’t think he’s going to pivot in some major way. But this is not brain science. Who elected him? Working-class voters, people making just above the Medicaid minimum. This bill hammered them.
Who elected him? People 50 to 64. This bill hammered those people. Why not take people who voted for you and reward them? That’s not — that’s like the normal thing to do. And he’s not doing it. And if he repeats the error in tax reform, same outcome.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, this wasn’t the only bad news for President Trump this week, Mark.
You had the FBI director come out and confirm publicly in a hearing before the Congress that they are investigating, the FBI is investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials, says they don’t have evidence yet of coordination, collusion, but an investigation is under way.
MARK SHIELDS: Judy, the week began with the president being basically regarded and described by the intelligence chiefs of the country as dishonest, OK, I mean, that the charge was with baseless, a charge of felony he made against his predecessor, to the point where The Wall Street Journal, the organ of American conservatism, said he is on the verge of becoming — his relationship with honesty is so loose, he’s become a fake president, not a fake news president.
So, this is devastating. To say that an FBI investigation has been going on since July, since July, it’s hard to say that it’s going to come to nothing. And so this is serious stuff, and it’s hurtful.
It puts — when you doubt the president’s competence and his honesty in the same week, I mean, these are blows. Regardless of how loyal and dedicated and enthusiastic is his base, this is an erosion of public support and public trust.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How does it affect what he’s able to do?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, I was trying to think of a president who had a worse week. I mean, as Mark said, like, to have your major legislative initiative die, and your first major one, and then get a scandal into your integrity in one week, that’s a rarity in American history, let alone this early in a term.
I’m not sure we’re ever going to find some smoking gun that’s going to link the Trump campaign to Vladimir Putin. I mean, there is, to me — the big mystery is the almost magnetic pull between the Trump crowd and Russia. Like, what is the basis of that? Is it because he had so many investors?
And, as I have said before — and we seem to be getting a little closer to this answer — where did Paul Manafort come from? How did he become chairman of the Trump campaign in the middle of all this, a guy who had ties to mobsters from Russia?
These are not normal things. What was the chain of events that led to that? But whether we have will actually conversations or proof or actual evidence, we — I — we have oversold this story at times. I’m not saying it’s not significant, but we have leapt to the — connecting all the dots, when the dots really aren’t there right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, one other thing I want to ask you about, in any other week, this would have been the first thing we talked about.
But, Mark, that is the nominee to the Supreme Court by the president, Neil Gorsuch, had several days of hearings, didn’t answer all the questions the Democrats wanted him to.
Where does he stand? What do his prospects look like?
MARK SHIELDS: Didn’t even answer the questions that Sam Alito and John Roberts did when they were up there.
I will say one thing that the Trump campaign did very well. They did vetting. They vetted the judges. They knew whom they had. And if they had done as well in the Cabinet, it would be different.
He was the ideal nominee. And I think in spite of his becoming non-forthcoming and said there’s no Democrat judges, Republican judges, I think he had a very good week.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You think he’s safe for confirmation?
MARK SHIELDS: I think he — unless there is something out there.
But Chuck Schumer is not a guy who goes on a quixotic journey all by himself. He said he is going to lead a filibuster. But I don’t see the votes being there.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Thirty seconds.
DAVID BROOKS: I think the Democrats are making a big mistake. The guy is clearly qualified. He is clearly within the realm of what any Republican would nominate. And we’re lucky to have a guy of that quality.
I thought he behaved outstandingly. Democrats should pick their fights. They will have plenty of fights in the Trump era. But to blow up the filibuster rules over this is undignified and an insult to the Senate.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Gentlemen, thank you both, David Brooks, Mark Shields.
MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.
DAVID BROOKS: Thank you.
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20 years later, the lads of ‘Trainspotting’ grapple with growing up Author: PBS NewsHour
Fri, Mar 24, 2017
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: An Oscar-winning director returns with a sequel to a film that became a cult classic 20 years ago.
Jeffrey Brown reports.
ACTOR: Hello, Mark.
ACTOR: So, what have you been for 20 years?
JEFFREY BROWN: It’s a fraught question, all right. The new film, “T2: Trainspotting,” is about a group of men, once the best of friends growing up in the projects of Edinburgh, Scotland, coming together after 20 years, with a wee bit of baggage.
Director Danny Boyle says that nostalgia, even to the point of denial, is a central theme in the film.
DANNY BOYLE, Director, “T2: Trainspotting”: One of their problems is that they imagine, as men often do, that they can still live like they were 20 years old.
JEFFREY BROWN: You’re saying that as you smile, right, that you feel it yourself.
DANNY BOYLE: Very much so. I mean, it’s like a — something I would absolutely hold up my hand and admit to. And it was one of the joys of doing the film was the learning process of seeing how poorly men age and how wise women are, whereas we — it’s not even like we think we’re living in the past. We just are, and we’re not admitting it to ourselves for so long.
And that’s one of those things that happens in the film. So, you have your cake, you have your fun, but you also — you learn from it as well, I think.
JEFFREY BROWN: The new film is a sequel to the 1996 original “Trainspotting,” about four heroin-using, small-crime committing, wild-living young men.
Based on a 1993 novel by Irvine Welsh, it was a low-budget affair, Boyle’s second feature film, with then little-known actors, but it became a smash hit, one of the most successful films ever made in Britain, with a large, almost cultish following in the U.S. and worldwide.
DANNY BOYLE: We believed in it very fervently, very passionately, in the book and how we wanted to make it as a film. This is Irvine Welsh’s extraordinary voice that he creates for these people, and that we inherit in the movies.
He gives a voice to people who are marginalized, and they are from an extraordinary city, Edinburgh, but they’re from the fringes.
JEFFREY BROWN: The first one was about this youthful experience of, you know can almost do anything. And they do, like heroin and all kinds of antics. But you feel immortal. But now this is inevitably a kind of meditation about aging and mortality.
DANNY BOYLE: The first film is really boyhood, or, you know, when you emerge from childhood into those late teens, early 20s and you feel reckless and careless, and you can take all the risks, terrible risks you take with yourself and other people.
And most of us get away with it. And they have — most of them have got away with it. But they move from boyhood to manhood, really. You get a little sense of the beginning, a glimmer of understanding of where they are in the world and what they should be and what they need to atone for.
JEFFREY BROWN: For the sequel, again based on work by Irvine Welsh, the four lead actors, including Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller, have returned.
All had gone on to successful careers, as has Boyle, who won an Oscar for best director for “Slumdog Millionaire,” and later made the biopic “Steve Jobs.”
When you’re making a remake like this, there’s an opportunity, because you have a built-in audience, in some sense, but isn’t there also kind of, I don’t know, albatross or something of expectations?
DANNY BOYLE: Oh, totally. And you have to learn very quickly to take off the albatross. Otherwise, it just gets heavier and heavier, worrying about what people will think of us going back.
JEFFREY BROWN: You just say, don’t blow it, right? I have this memory of a film I love.
DANNY BOYLE: Yes. The affection for the first film was palpable. And, indeed, that was one of the reasons we went back to it. There was still an appetite for these characters.
But, yes, you’re concerned about not besmirching the original and the memory of the original. But we felt — and we tried 10 years ago, and we abandoned that attempt, because it would have disappointed people, we knew, because it was just a rehash of the original. It was kind of like a caper.
JEFFREY BROWN: “T2” is no rehash, but it does pay homage. Scenes are recreated from the original, again addressing addiction at times, but equally about the bonds of friendship.
ACTOR: I need to detox the system.
ACTOR: Detox the system. What does that even mean? It doesn’t mean anything. It’s not getting out of your body that’s the problem. It’s getting out of your mind. You are an addict.
JEFFREY BROWN: Obvious question is, why go back?
DANNY BOYLE: Yes.
Well, because I think it is kind of — it is a natural inclination in human beings. The past is alive in us, and you often ignore it for long periods of time.
JEFFREY BROWN: But there is it.
DANNY BOYLE: Yes, but there it is. And that’s why we have those catchup moments where you go, it’s not, is it, 20 years like that?
JEFFREY BROWN: And to the extent that we’re talking about a film about aging men, you’re older, too.
DANNY BOYLE: I am.
JEFFREY BROWN: Did you feel any trepidation about going back to your early period?
DANNY BOYLE: Oh, yes, because you think — you’re measuring yourself against the past, really.
JEFFREY BROWN: Oh, you feel that?
DANNY BOYLE: Oh, yes, very much so, yes.
I also — because I have a philosophy, a belief, which I can see in many, many other directors that your early work is your best work, because you don’t know what you’re doing. And I certainly felt that way when we were making the first “Trainspotting.”
We were in the dark, me and the actors, but none of us had much experience. And so you’re taking huge risks, ridiculous risks, a bit like the bravado of the characters in a way. Obviously, when you come to a later one and you look back, then you begin to simulate some of that innocence and some of that naivete work and that freshness really.
And I hope some of that is in the new movie as well.
JEFFREY BROWN: It’s an interesting philosophy of life and directing. It’s all downhill from here. Right?
DANNY BOYLE: Absolutely, yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: “T2: Trainspotting” opens around the country today.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Jeffrey Brown.
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Failing to close deal on health care, House GOP delays vote Author: PBS NewsHour
Thu, Mar 23, 2017
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In a setback for President Trump and congressional Republicans, the plan to hold a vote in the House of Representatives this evening on a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has been delayed.
We have reporters at both the White House and Capitol Hill on today’s frenzied efforts to win over GOP holdouts.
Let’s start with Lisa Desjardins at the Capitol.
LISA DESJARDINS: At the U.S. Capitol, the day began with empty space, the room where Republicans had hoped to hold a meeting of all their members, and an empty podium, where Speaker Paul Ryan’s usual lunchtime news conference was delayed.
Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions explained in an unusually blunt update about the GOP leaders’ health care bill.
REP. PETE SESSIONS, R-Texas: We think we have to make changes, but today we are here right now to say I don’t have all those answers.
LISA DESJARDINS: And Republicans also didn’t have the votes. And so, yet again, members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus went to the White House to negotiate with President Trump. They had already won concessions over the weekend. The bill would cut Medicaid spending by at least $880 billion over the next decade, and now gives states the option of cutting Medicaid further, by possibly adding work requirements.
It also gives a lump tax credit to recipients, based largely on age. and it would also end the taxes in the Affordable Care Act immediately. But conservatives pressed for additional changes today. Specifically, they want the bill to cut the so-called essential health benefits guaranteed by Obamacare. That would mean insurers would no longer have to provide coverage in areas like mental health, maternity and prescription drugs.
But when the Freedom Caucus returned from the Capitol, swarmed by media…
QUESTION: Are you a yes yet?
MAN: No, I’m not going to address that.
LISA DESJARDINS: There was no deal yet and the first indications that there wouldn’t be a vote either.
Michigan’s Justin Amash:
REP. JUSTIN AMASH, R-Mich.: We always try to get to yes, but I think it would be mistake to move forward today.
QUESTION: Not today?
LISA DESJARDINS: Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows:
REP. MARK MEADOWS, R-N.C.: I am still a no at this time. I am desperately trying to get to yes. And I think the president knows that. I told him that personally.
LISA DESJARDINS: But the White House was also negotiating with moderate Republicans, who openly oppose some of the changes for conservatives and the bill itself.
As Republicans faced two internal fronts, Democrats stayed on the attack.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif., House Minority Leader: Donald Trump may be a great negotiator. Rookie’s error for bringing this up on a day you clearly were not ready.
LISA DESJARDINS: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made Republicans a kind of offer.
REP. NANCY PELOSI: If this bill were to fail today, rookie day, I would I — I stand ready to negotiate with them on how we can go forward, incorporating some of their ideas. This is a bad day for them. It’s bad if they win and it’s bad if they lose.
LISA DESJARDINS: The view from the White House podium could not have been more different. The president’s spokesman, Sean Spicer:
SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: We have been very clear about this is a priority of ours and we worked with them. But, again, I go back to at the end of the day we can’t make people vote.
LISA DESJARDINS: And at the end of the day, neither could Republican leadership, pushing off the vote until at least tomorrow.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And Lisa is with us now live from the Capitol. And she’s joined by John Yang, who is at the White House.
So, Lisa, how certain are they that this vote will be tomorrow?
LISA DESJARDINS: They’re not certain.
In fact, the House, the man in charge of scheduling, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, is only saying that he hopes this vote will happen tomorrow. Tonight, the full House Republican Conference will meet, Judy. We will have an idea after that roughly of where things stand.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, John, what are they saying at the White House? This afternoon, the press secretary, Sean Spicer, was sounding confident this vote was coming, that they had the votes. That didn’t work out.
JOHN YANG: Well, Judy, they still say they are confident when the vote takes place, what whenever that may be, they will have the votes. But it’s clear behind the scenes that they don’t. They aren’t there yet. The president is working the phones, we’re told. He was working the phones until midnight last night.
He had meetings today, as Lisa reported, with both conservatives and moderates. They are still working to get the votes to get it through the House. And, of course, after they do that, then they have got to work to get it through the Senate.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Lisa, pick up on that. I mean, talk about this, really a dilemma the Republican leadership is faced with. They are trying to appeal both to moderates and to conservatives at the same time, and each side wants something different.
LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right.
Initially, House leaders thought they could offer something to conservatives that wouldn’t be a problem for moderates. But they have gone past that point. Now, for everything they offer conservatives, every essential health benefit, for example, that may come out of this bill in some form, that is something that moderates see as a loss for their constituents.
Moderates are worried about coverage. Everyone is worried about coverage. Let’s say this. But, as a matter of priorities, moderates are worried about coverage and people covered. The conservatives are worried about how much government is involved, how much government is spending here.
And so every dime that you take off the table, moderates see that as a coverage loss. And that’s a real dilemma for Republicans.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, if it is a dilemma for Republicans on the Hill, John, it’s certainly a problem for the White House. How are they approaching this divided set of needs or demands coming from Republican members?
JOHN YANG: Well, you know, the president is not an ideological president. He’s less worried about the ideological issues here. He’s worried about getting to yes, getting to the votes they need to get this through Congress.
The message that you are hearing from the White House is that the House Republicans, recalcitrant House Republicans , is, this is something you campaigned on, this is something you promised your voters, now is the time.
Sean Spicer today had some pretty tough words, reminding House Republicans of all the — quote — “free votes” they took to repeal Obamacare, knowing that President Obama would veto those bills. But now he said it’s a live ball. In other words — and this is my interpretation of Sean’s words — it’s time to put up or shut up.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And now, Lisa, in the middle of all of this, late this afternoon, the Congressional Budget Office has come out with another calculation, if you will, of the fiscal impact of this bill as it was being modified, tweaked.
And it’s interesting. The numbers have just as many people losing coverage, and yet a smaller decrease in the size of the deficit.
LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right. Essentially, the CBO is saying that Republicans with their changes are spending more money. They still ultimately would shave a little off the deficit, about $150 billion, but that’s less than they would have saved in their initial version.
The CBO is saying, even though the price tag has gone up on this bill, there are not more people covered. Now, one reason for that, Judy — this gets a little wonky — is the way that the House did this, they offered a new tax deduction, but really that money is meant for the Senate to spend later to add coverage.
So, it may not — it may be a bit of a false read. Either way, we know that many millions wouldn’t be covered under this Republican health care bill.
And to pick up on something that John was saying, I talked to one Republican here. This is a test for the White House. But Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a deputy whip, told me, this is a test over whether Republicans can move from being an opposition party to being a governing party. He said, we still have to pass that test.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, John, what do they say at the White House? What is your read on what is at stake for them?
JOHN YANG: Well, there’s a lot at stake. Not only is this the first legislative initiative on the president’s part. Not only does he say this would clear the way for tax — the tax cut legislation and the infrastructure legislation to come that he promises this year, but also this is a president whose whole image is based on success and deal-making.
And if he fails on his first time out, the question is whether that image is tarnished.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, all eyes are on the places where the two of you are tonight. John Yang at the White House, Lisa Desjardins at the Capitol, thank you both.
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News Wrap: British officials identify London attacker Author: PBS NewsHour
Thu, Mar 23, 2017
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And in the day’s other news: British police identified the man who drove a car into pedestrians near Parliament yesterday, and fatally stabbed a police officer, before being shot to death himself. Officials called it a lone wolf attack.
Paul Davies of Independent Television News reports from London.
PAUL DAVIES: We know what he did. We now know his name. The man on the stretcher, the man who launched his own attack on democracy yesterday was Khalid Masood. He had been living in the West Midlands, where he hired the car he used as a lethal weapon. He was born in Kent. The so-called Islamic State say he had become one of their soldiers.
Today, because of his actions, flags were flying at half-mast over Parliament, while side-by-side a painstaking investigation into an act of terror was being conducted, as the workings of the democracy he had come to hate were continuing. The prime minister left Downing Street heading for the Commons in a show of business as usual.
THERESA MAY, British Prime Minister: We are not afraid. And our resolve will never waiver in the face of terrorism.
PAUL DAVIES: There has been a huge and deliberate effort to reflect life as normal here, an impression that’s been supported by the reopening of the bridge that was the scene of carnage yesterday.
Aysha Frade, a 43-year-old who worked at a school in London, and Kirk Cochran, a 54-year-old American tourist, had been named as the two pedestrians knocked down and killed yesterday. Seven others who were injured by the terrorist car as it crossed Westminster Bridge are still said to be in critical condition.
They include a Romanian woman seen in this footage falling into the Thames as she tried to avoid the vehicle. Last night, police raided properties in London, Wales and here in Birmingham, an operation that has continued through today.
JUDY WOODRUFF: This evening, another victim of the attack died of her injuries.
In Israel, police arrested a Jewish teenager today, and said he’s the main suspect in dozens of bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the U.S. The man also holds U.S. citizenship. He covered his face with a sweatshirt at a court hearing near Tel Aviv. His lawyer said he has behavioral problems.
GALIT BASH, Attorney: This is a young person, that because of his very, very serious medical condition, didn’t serve in the army, didn’t go to high school, and didn’t go to elementary school. So, that is why the medical condition can actually affect the investigation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s unclear what the suspect’s motive might have been. His identity is being withheld by order of the court.
The chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the House of Representatives apologized today, after publicly disclosing, and sharing with the president, intelligence intercepts of the Trump transition team. Devin Nunes announced yesterday that these occurred during legal surveillance of foreign nationals.
This and his briefing of the president came without first telling committee Democrats. Today, Nunes said it was a judgment call.
But a Democrat on the committee, California’s Jackie Speier, said that’s not enough.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER, D-Calif.: He just apologized. He didn’t specify what his apology was about. He knows full well that there is grave question about his objectivity. And I think over next few days, we’re going to assess whether or not we feel confident that he can continue in that role.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Democrats accused Nunes of trying to give Mr. Trump cover for unsubstantiated claims that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. We will look into the partisan fighting over this, and what happens next, after the news summary.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has told U.S. embassies to begin extreme vetting of foreigners applying for visas. Reuters quotes diplomatic cables that ask U.S. officials to identify — quote — “populations warranting increased scrutiny.”
The report says Tillerson also wants mandatory social media checks for any applicant who’s ever been in a territory controlled by the Islamic State group.
The U.N. Refugee Agency is warning that the worst is yet to come for Iraqis in Western Mosul. An estimated 400,000 civilians are trapped in areas still controlled by ISIS fighters, as government troops fight to recapture the city. U.N. officials say they’re in desperate need of food, medical aid and basic supplies. As many as 12,000 have been fleeing each day.
Democrats in the U.S. Senate served notice today that they will try to block confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer went to the Senate floor to announce his opposition. He also made clear that a filibuster is coming.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., Minority Leader: After careful deliberation, I have concluded that I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court. His nomination will have a cloture vote. He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation. My vote will be no. And I urge my colleagues to do the same.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Under the current rule, majority Republicans would need to peel off at least eight Democrats to get to 60 votes. Or they can scrap that rule, allowing Gorsuch to be confirmed by a simple majority.
Meanwhile, the judge’s confirmation hearings wrapped up today, with lawyers, advocacy groups and others getting their say about Gorsuch, for and against.
And on Wall Street, the delay of the health care vote in the House wiped out an early rally. The Dow Jones industrial average lost four points to close at 20656. The Nasdaq fell about four, and the S&P 500 slipped two.
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How Nunes threw the House’s Russia investigation independence into question Author: PBS NewsHour
Thu, Mar 23, 2017
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JUDY WOODRUFF: We return now to the controversy created by allegations that were made by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee having to do with surveillance of the Trump transition.
Hari Sreenivasan has the story.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And for more on all of this, we turn to Matthew Rosenberg, who has been following this for The New York Times.
Matthew, the Intelligence Committees both on the House and the Senate side have been one of these last bastions of bipartisanship and cooperation. What has been happening in the last 24 hours?
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, The New York Times: Well, first, we had Devin Nunes going public with information that people close to Trump, he had gleaned their names from intercepts that were passed around the previous administration. It was really unclear what exactly he was saying.
Then he went to the public. Then he ran to the White House to brief the president before he even told his own committee members. And for — basically, for all the Democrats on the committee in the House, this prompted them to say, look, this investigation is not going to be independent. Mr. Nunes is either going to be a White House surrogate or he’s going to run an independent investigation.
And it really put into question whether the House could run an independent investigation. It also completely muddied the waters. It wasn’t really clear what he was talking about.
So, when intelligence is gathered, if the U.S., the NSA or CIA are listening to a foreign official, if an American is on that, say, calls them or an American is discussed by that official, that is called incidental collection. The American has been incidentally swept up into the intelligence gathering.
And when that intelligence is then spread to other parts of the government, their name and identity is supposed to be obscured. It is called masked or minimized.
And Nunes sort of suggested they might have been unmasked inappropriately. But it’s not really clear. It is just — it is incredibly confusing. That is part of the problem here.
Today, Nunes went and apologized to his committee members, but the damage was really done here.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Most of the work of these committees happens behind closed doors, not in front of cameras and microphones. When a piece of information comes to the committee, how does it usually work its way through, and what happened this time?
MATTHEW ROSENBERG: Well, what tends to happen is, the first thing they do is, they brief the rest of the committee on it.
And depending on what kind of information it is, it remains private. In this case, this is classified information. The existence of these intercepts is classified. The contents are obviously classified.
So, Nunes did two things here. First, he didn’t even brief his fellow committee members. He just went out to the public and then went to the White House, which is, of course, the subject of this investigation.
And, at the same time, he discussed classified information publicly. And this is a man who has complained about leakers extensively and grilled the FBI director about prosecuting leakers.
HARI SREENIVASAN: There are three different types of alternatives that are being proposed. Some people ask for a special prosecutor. I think Senator Jack Reed was calling for that today. And then there are folks that say we need a 9/11-style special commission.
And then there’s also people who say, well, let’s take a select committee approach that may be similar to what happened with Benghazi.
What is the likelihood of any of those three?
MATTHEW ROSENBERG: You know, at this point, everything I predict around here doesn’t go right. So, I am hesitant to make — to kind of put the odds on this one.
I think, you know, you are going to have a lot more Democrats pressing for a truly independent investigation, especially because the FBI is pursuing — they’re pursuing their own counterintelligence investigation, but there is a criminal element to that.
And I think there are a lot of people on the Hill who would like to have an investigation that could bring charges if necessary.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What this done to the tension that exists between the two leaders of the committee? They have gone out of their way to make sure as this investigation progressed that this would be somewhat cordial and that they would be respectful of each other trying to get to the same end goal.
MATTHEW ROSENBERG: And that is what was sort of amazing about what happened yesterday, is that you are right. Mr. Schiff — Mr. Nunes and his Democratic counterpart, Adam Schiff, had made this real show of working together.
And even at Monday’s hearing, the body language between the two of them was incredibly positive. And then, yesterday, it seemed to just blow up. And it is not really clear exactly what happened there or why. But it does seem that there is a real lasting damage there.
HARI SREENIVASAN: There was calls from Senator McCain on the Republican side, and I think Joe Biden even tweeted where he wrote, “Checks and balances? Chair of committee investigating White House can’t share info with White House. McCain is right. Need select committee.”
Is that gaining any momentum?
MATTHEW ROSENBERG: It’s hard to say right now. The House has been deep into the health care bill over the last day-and-a-half. The Senate is obviously dealing with the Gorsuch nomination.
So, I think we’re going to see in the next few days where this goes, as those issues fade and this issue comes back. And there are supposed to be more hearings next week by the House Intelligence Committee.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Matthew Rosenberg of The New York Times, thanks so much.
MATTHEW ROSENBERG: Thank you.
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How GOP health bill could dramatically change lives of small business employees, Medicaid recipients Author: PBS NewsHour
Thu, Mar 23, 2017
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JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: how the Republican bill could change insurance coverage and costs, if its core ideas become law.
Our team has traveled across the country to capture the stories and the voices of those who could be most impacted.
We have two of those profiles tonight.
We start with the perspective of a small business owner and her employees in Zanesville, Ohio. She say she hopes that a new law would offer cheaper insurance options with fewer required benefits. That’s been the source of much debate today, and is a possible element in health care’s next act.
KELLY MOORE, Vice President, GKM Auto Parts: My name is Kelly Moore. And I am the vice president of GKM Auto Parts. We operate as a NAPA Auto Parts store.
Before the ACA, we offered full insurance, as far as meaning that we paid at that point 80 percent of the premium. The employees paid 20 percent of the premium. It covered not only their office cares and their medical and hospital, but also prescription drug plan.
DARIN LAWLER, Store Manager, GKM Auto Parts: My name is Darin Lawler. I’m 51. I have been with the company for around seven years.
When I first got here, I had insurance for my family and I through the company, you know, relatively good insurance. We had health care, and we had dental. And it was affordable.
KELLY MOORE: When the exchanges opened, and the Affordable Care Act came into play, every year, with the exception of one, my insurance went up double digits for the first time ever.
We had mandates imposed on everyone. And those mandates made us cover things that we wouldn’t normally be necessarily involved in. Suddenly, we are having to cover things like pregnancy and other conditions that my folks may not need the coverage on.
And so because we’re having to share that mandate with everyone, our coverage had to go up. We had to scale back our premium portion from 80 percent to 70 percent and then to 60 percent in order to afford it.
It got to the point for us as a company that it was no longer a benefit for the employees.
DARIN LAWLER: We were forced to go on our own, and it’s — affordable care isn’t very affordable. At this point right now, my family and I do not have insurance because of the act.
And we’re actively searching, but we just have not come up with anything that we can afford at this point.
KELLY MOORE: It was gut-wrenching to make that decision, to pull that trigger. I lost sleep. I did everything I could. I spent most of my time at my desk, not doing the other duties of my job, but rather trying to crunch numbers to find a way to offer that insurance benefit.
DARIN LAWLER: You could see it in her eyes. And she just — just kind of the way she talked. Just, it was upsetting to her. And, you know, it would be, because they have always — you know, that was one of the things. We had decent benefits here. And that was one of the things that they can’t do for us anymore, and, you know, it was hard on her.
KELLY MOORE: I hope that the government steps back a little more from the business of offering health care. I would like to see health care traded across state lines, the way we do auto insurance, the way we can get our business insurance. I would like to see fewer mandates on the program.
I would love to offer insurance again, when it becomes affordable.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Affordability is clearly a big issue in the debate over the health care replacement.
But so is the question of who’s covered. The Republican bill would end the expansion of Medicaid over time, and would phase out government coverage for millions of people.
We visited a current Medicaid recipient in Shreveport, Louisiana, who got coverage because of the Affordable Care Act and is now worried about what may happen.
JULIA RAYE, Medicaid Expansion Patient: My name is Julia Raye. I’m 50 years old, and I live in Shreveport, Louisiana.
I have been unemployed for about a year now, and I will be starting a new job in April at a nonprofit. And while I was unemployed, I have relied solely on Medicaid expansions, and for my health conditions with diabetes and seizures.
I am a chemist by degree, and I have worked for the CDC. I have worked for EPA. I have worked for FDA. And I never planned to not work, but then there have been situations in my life where the contractor, the job ended, and I needed insurance.
There was a time when I didn’t have any health care coverage. I use two types of insulin, and I would take the needles. I would rinse them out with alcohol, and then I would reuse the needles. And I remember thinking, am I getting the right dosage?
Obamacare allowed me to get medicine for whatever illness it was I had. And, without it, I wouldn’t be healthy enough to even have a job.
Medicaid has been frustrating at times. The issues are, in some cases, there might not be a doctor that takes Medicaid or that situation. But make no mistake. It is — it is a blessing to have Medicaid, and to be medically assisted by Medicaid.
As I hear the news about the changes in Medicaid for the future, I am very excited about my new job. But the job is, in all essence, a contract position. At some point in time, it may be that I — this job closes down, and I find myself needing insurance.
I am worried that, what happens if I have no income, and that puts me at a point where I need Medicaid again? I mean, at this point, do I take the medicine that I get now or that I get in the future, and do I, instead of taking all my medicine, do I take two of the three pills I’m supposed to take, and start stockpiling it, so that — you know, for a rainy day?
You know, people have stockpiles of food for possible war. Do I stockpile my medicine in case I don’t have it?
I went to the hospital three times in one year with sugars above 600, because they were not — I wasn’t taking the right medication. If you don’t think that Medicaid is important, then you’re signing my death sentence. If you’re comfortable with that, then go right ahead.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We are going to have more of these profiles of how people could be impacted by the new health care plan in the days to come.
You can watch all of them on our Web site right now at pbs.org/newshour.
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Why the Trump administration is sending more troops to Syria Author: PBS NewsHour
Thu, Mar 23, 2017
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JUDY WOODRUFF: United States military involvement in Syria has deepened since President Trump took office. The Pentagon has authorized the deployment of 400 more troops, some of whom are already there. Five hundred special operations forces sent by the Obama administration are also on the ground. War planners reportedly are seeking to send an additional 1,000 American troops to Syria.
Yesterday, in Tabqa, Syria, American forces aided Syrian rebel and Kurdish forces in the taking a strategic dam and road from ISIS. All this comes on a complex battlefield and under the wary eye of Syria’s northern neighbor Turkey.
For more on what’s happening now and what may come, I’m joined by Andrew Exum. He served in the Obama administration until this January as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy. He’s also a former Army Ranger and a contributing editor at The Atlantic. And Bulent Aliriza, he’s the director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. It’s a Washington think tank.
And we welcome both of you back to the program.
Andrew Exum, to you first.
How much of a change is what we are seeing right now in Syria from what was going on in the Obama administration?
ANDREW EXUM, Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense: So, significant in one way. Significant in terms of the numbers. It is clear that the Trump administration doesn’t have the same reticence that the Obama administration did in terms of putting more boots on the ground, especially conventional troops, as opposed to special operations troops.
Where it is similar is that what we are trying to do, it seems, is replicate the success we have had in Iraq working, by, with and through local forces, so no direct combat themselves, but really enabling local forces to try to win the fight.
It seems what the U.S. military is trying to do is put the same infrastructure on the ground that has proved successful in helping the Iraqi army in Mosul in Syria to help the Syrians successfully take Raqqa.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, if the Trump administration seems to be headed toward 2,000, assuming this next 1,000 contingent gets there, is that where the Obama administration would have eventually gotten, or is that not even clear?
ANDREW EXUM: So, it’s a really good question.
Over the past 18 months, we have steadily ramped up our commitment in terms of resources to both Iraq and Syria, and certainly, as the fight developed in Iraq, we continued to put more troop there, for example, building up the Qayyarah West Airfield in presentation for the fight against Mosul.
So, you could say the Obama administration might have eventually done something similar to this. We really don’t know. In some ways, this is typical of the ramping up of the strategy so far.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Bulent Aliriza, do you see in as a continuation or as something tangibly different?
BULENT ALIRIZA, Center for Strategic and International Studies: It is a combination, exactly as Andrew says.
It is a continuation in the sense that the Obama administration was relying on the Syrian Kurds, the YPG, which causes terribly tremendous heartburn in the context of the Syrian Democratic forces. The difference is that, in Iraq, the U.S. is relying on the Iraqi army, supplemented with Peshmerga Kurdish forces.
In this case, the primary reliance on the Syrian Kurds, with lots and lots and complications.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, expand a little bit, Bulent Aliriza, on why the Turkish government is so concerned about — or growing concerned?
BULENT ALIRIZA: The Turkish government regards the YPG, the fighting arm of the Syrian Kurdish party the PYD, as an extension of the PKK, which has been fighting Turkey for over three decades.
With the Obama administration and subsequently with the Trump administration, Turkey tried to persuade the U.S. not to rely on the Syrian Kurds for this reason, and to actually look to opposition groups backed by Turkey who have actually moved into Northern Syria with Turkish backing recently, and maybe even the Turkish army to take Raqqa.
But it seems that the Obama administration’s recommendation, which was reviewed by the Pentagon, has led the Trump administration to continue with the Syrian Kurdish option.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, as far as you know, Andrew Exum, how does the — you know how the Obama administration viewed Turkey’s concerns. What does it look like the Trump administration, how do they see these concerns by Turkey?
ANDREW EXUM: Yes.
No, my colleague sketched out exactly right. We actually started meeting with the Turks in the summer of 2015 to try to see if there was any way to make use of these opposition forces that Turkey had identified.
The bottom line is that there are too few of them and they weren’t combat-ready in the same way that our other partners were ready. And the Turkish military was never on the table during the Obama administration, although, of course, Turkey committed its own forces into Northern Syria late in the day in the administration.
Unclear how this administration looks at it. I think they had been trying to see if there was some way they could do this without angering a NATO partner in Turkey. And this may be why they’re putting more U.S. forces on the ground, so that they don’t have to provide the same type of equipment to the YPG they might have to — had to have otherwise done if they had been trying to do this with fewer U.S. forces.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Bulent Aliriza, as you look, as you step back and look at this, does it look like the Trump administration is making a smart move here in the way they are handling this?
BULENT ALIRIZA: I think their primary motivation here is to try and live up to the commitment that Trump made during the campaign, to actually deal with ISIS as quickly as possible.
And, in this case, the Syrian Kurds offered the best option in order to get this done as soon as possible. Beyond that, I think there are going to be lots and lots of complications, but, frankly, this is where we are. And nobody is really thinking beyond the takeover of Raqqa from ISIL.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You assess it the same way?
ANDREW EXUM: I do.
I think the problems really begin in some ways after you take Raqqa, because it is clear that the Islamic State is going to retreat to Deir el-Zour. The regime has a strong toehold in Deir el-Zour. So I think the key questions going forward is, do you follow Da’esh to Deir el-Zour? Do you try to work with the regime in Russia?
I think the geography only gets more complicated the farther south you go.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And what about — Bulent Aliriza, what about — to both of you, what about once ISIS is cleared out? Is there a plan for what to do with those spaces that are vacated, that are emptied out?
BULENT ALIRIZA: Well, the Syrian government under Bashar Assad seems to have survived.
Initially, the Obama administration, like Turkey and many other countries, was committed to his ouster. With Russian backing, with Iranian backing, they have survived.
But in this process, ISIL emerged and began to be the problem within Syria and beyond that it has. Now, even if you take Raqqa, even if you take Mosul across the border in Iraq, unfortunately, the problem posed by radical jihadists is going to continue.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Which spells — go ahead.
ANDREW EXUM: I think that is right.
I think that, unfortunately, I think that we have already put our U.S. special operators in a very difficult position in Northern Syria already. You can see them refereeing between the Turkish-aligned forces and U.S.-backed forces.
I have real concerns about their ability to enable local forces to not just seize Raqqa, but then to hold Raqqa. And what is unclear to me is, what is the endgame? How do we eventually exfiltrate U.S. forces out of a very complicated situation in Northern Syria, once we have defeated the Islamic State?
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, for folks who are watching this, Bulent Aliriza, and they are wondering, OK, what are the risks that the Trump administration is taking, how would you describe them?
BULENT ALIRIZA: Well, the risks in Syria to the U.S., to the Trump administration are minimal. It is the risks beyond Syria posed by ISIL and other organizations like that.
And so dealing with them in Syria, as I said, is relatively easy. But it might actually make the difficulties posed by the radical jihadists beyond Syria’s borders even more intractable.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And in just a few words, you see it the same way?
ANDREW EXUM: Well, I think what the United States is going to try to do after this is, we have figured out a way to squeeze Da’esh from multiple directions in Iraq and Syria. I know our military planners are now thinking through, what does that mean on a global scale? How do you avoid exactly the situation that my colleague is describing?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Making it much worse elsewhere, once you get rid of them, so to speak.
ANDREW EXUM: Exactly.
JUDY WOODRUFF: If that happens in Syria.
Andrew Exum, Bulent Aliriza, we thank you both.
BULENT ALIRIZA: Thank you.
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The odds of a second term? You can bet on all things Trump Author: PBS NewsHour
Thu, Mar 23, 2017
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JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump is not only dominating the news here in the United States. His agenda, and his style of governing, is even the subject of betting markets, of all things.
Our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, recently traveled to Dublin to meet with Ireland’s most visible bookie about all things Trump.
It’s part of our weekly series Making Sense.
PAUL SOLMAN: So how is the Trump action?
PADDY POWER, Paddy Power: Pretty nonstop. I mean, he is literally top story in the news every single night, still.
PAUL SOLMAN: The political prediction markets, where you can bet real money on an almost endless variety of political outcomes. Well, the betting is heavier than ever these days on Donald Trump.
Even here in Ireland?
PADDY POWER: Even here in Ireland.
PAUL SOLMAN: That’s Paddy Power of the eponymous Irish online betting site Paddy Power, a legal bookmaker which took a very visible million-dollar loss this fall when it paid off on bets for Hillary Clinton, an 85 percent favorite, to win the presidency, 20 days before Donald Trump won.
PADDY POWER: We decided to pay out on Clinton early, and we got that completely wrong, obviously. So, got Brexit completely wrong.
PAUL SOLMAN: Now we have been covering various political prediction markets as a successful example of applied economics since the 2004 Bush-Kerry presidential campaign, when we featured New Yorker economics columnist James Surowiecki on the sidewalks of New York crowdsourcing a guesstimate of the number of jelly beans in this jar.
WOMAN: Five hundred.
MAN: How many did you say?
WOMAN: Ten thousand.
WOMAN: Ten thousand.
PAUL SOLMAN: Ten thousand.
As wildly divergent as the guesses were, their average was eerily close to the real number, 1,350.
Surowiecki was touting the so-called wisdom of crowds, the theoretical advantage of markets and their supposed collective best guesses, which we cover here with the usual stock footage. And he cited the historical accuracy of the Iowa Electronic Markets, which have allowed political betting, for research purposes, since 1988.
JAMES SUROWIECKI, The New Yorker: Historically, the election eve forecast in this market has only been off by 1.4 percent, which is better than any poll.
PAUL SOLMAN: Better than any poll. That’s been the track record of all the prediction markets pretty much forever. Study them, said market expert David Rothschild during last year’s campaign:
DAVID ROTHSCHILD, PredictWise: And you see something that is more accurate than any collection of pundits or statistical polling averages, and extremely well-calibrated.
PAUL SOLMAN: But what’s remarkable is that, even though prediction markets failed so spectacularly on Trump, bettors are flocking to them as never before. That’s why I asked Paddy Power for a quick chat in downtown Dublin.
PADDY POWER: We have actually launched a new betting hub, purely dedicated to Trump.
PAUL SOLMAN: A betting hub?
PADDY POWER: Yes, literally a micro-site, a Trump micro-site.
PAUL SOLMAN: A Trump micro-site? And so how many bets can you make on Trump?
PADDY POWER: There’s 100 open bets on Trump, different markets on Trump at the moment. The politics trader literally can’t handle the volume, so we’re hiring a Trump betting expert at the moment.
PAUL SOLMAN: That’s because, when it offers a bet like next member of the Trump administration to resign or get sacked — it’s Jeff Sessions at 2- 1 — Paddy Power needs an expert to set the opening odds. If they’re too far away from what bettors are likely to think, Paddy could lose its shirt.
PADDY POWER: We’re advertising for some kid out of college, hopefully, a political graduate or whatever, to become an expert on Trump, all things Trump. They’re going to manage our Trump betting, because it’s literally millions of dollars.
PAUL SOLMAN: What are the odds of him being impeached, not convicted, but impeached before four years? Is that the bet?
PADDY POWER: Yes. That’s the bet. That’s the main bet, the most popular one. At the moment, he’s 6-4, and that means he’s about 40 percent likely. The odds would suggest it’s 40 percent likely he’s impeached in his first term, yes.
PAUL SOLMAN: So what’s an odds-on favorite at this point with regard to Trump, that is more than 50 percent likely, according to the prediction markets, to happen?
PADDY POWER: Well, it’s more than 50 percent likely that he won’t see a second term, right? It’s more than 50 percent that he’s going to see his first term out, though, that he will get there in the end.
PAUL SOLMAN: Power showed me the latest odds on some of the other Trump bets as well.
Two-thirds chance that he will start building the wall.
PADDY POWER: In 2017.
PAUL SOLMAN: In 2017.
PADDY POWER: Yes.
PAUL SOLMAN: But you need to consult the Web site itself for the very latest odds.
On Mexico, funding the wall. When will Sean Spicer leave or get sacked as White House press secretary? U.S. Congress inquiry to officially declare that Obama ordered a wiretap of phones in Trump Tower.
It’s the Irish, like those walking past us on Grafton Street, making real money Trump bets and presumably taking the odds seriously.
But there’s no reason at this point, is there, for me or anybody in the audience to believe these odds?
PADDY POWER: No, absolutely not. We have been wrong, so wrong.
PAUL SOLMAN: So, why have prediction markets failed as abysmally as they have?
PADDY POWER: I think — I have been thinking about this a lot, because it is — it is a head-scratcher.
PAUL SOLMAN: But Mr. Power does have a theory.
PADDY POWER: We’re just behind. The world is slowly going bonkers, all around the world, because you can see the way the political structure is just changing everywhere.
I think it’s just taking us a bit of time to catch up with that, because we still look at — like, we look at form. Like, in sports betting, you look at form and what’s happened before.
PAUL SOLMAN: Is this a horse that generally wins?
PADDY POWER: Yes, exactly, or if this team always wins at home or whatever it might be. And when you look at the form, like that’s literally ripped up and thrown out the window on this occasion, you know?
PAUL SOLMAN: Or, with Donald Trump, and so many other political phenomena these days, if you will forgive the rather obvious cliche, all bets are off.
Economics correspondent Paul Solman, reporting for the PBS NewsHour from Grafton Street in Dublin, Ireland.
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For a veteran NewsHour journalist, an early loss defined her life’s journeys Author: PBS NewsHour
Thu, Mar 23, 2017
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: how memories can shape a life.
That’s the lens through which a new memoir unfolds.
Jeffrey Brown has the latest add to the NewsHour Bookshelf. And it’s from a member of our extended family.
JEFFREY BROWN: For years, Elizabeth Farnsworth traveled the world as a foreign correspondent for the NewsHour to hot spots such as Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, and Latin America.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH, Author, “A Train Through Time: A Life, Real and Imagined”: I very much wanted to be reporting where a lot was on the line. I think — you may share this — I think that that’s what reporters like to do and want to do, and where it’s really important that you get the story that’s the truth.
JEFFREY BROWN: She’s written about this in a new book, “A Train Through Time.”
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: I’m somewhat obsessed with the disappeared. I had worked in Chile, and I know people that were disappeared.
And the book is partly about people who you don’t know what happened to them. And I think I want people to pay attention when other people are suffering. When people die, I think I really care that people pay attention to that.
I was so lucky to get to work in a way that I could call attention. When I first reported from Chile or reported from Guatemala, a lot of people didn’t realize what was happening. And I was so lucky to be able to say, pay attention to this.
JEFFREY BROWN: But this is more than a story of her reporting. It’s also about her childhood in Kansas, and dealing with the loss of her mother when Elizabeth was age 9.
Soon after her mother’s death, she took a train ride with her father on the Union Pacific’s Portland Rose from Topeka to San Francisco, which becomes the spine of her new book.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Her death was a mystery. I didn’t know that she really was dead. They didn’t use the word: She died. She’s gone. We don’t have her anymore.
She’d been sick. But, in those days, I have what I call very good bad luck, in that I had a wonderful father, wonderful aunts, grandparents, but they didn’t think to ever tell me that my mother was dying of cancer.
And the fact that they didn’t tell me that made me believe that she disappeared. And so I looked for her from that train, and I think that that’s part of solving the mystery. Why did I look for her? Why is that memory so vivid?
JEFFREY BROWN: You know, we have been friends a long time, but I realized in this that I don’t know how much you tend to look back at your young self. And I wondered, when you did, what did you see? Who was that person? Does it feel like the same you, or…
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Yes, it does very much. It’s interesting you should ask that, Jeff. It does.
And it has partly to do, I think, with losing a parent. I think it — I think, in my experience, it made you both empathetic with people who are losing something. But I also think it makes you tremendously appreciative of life, because the person most important to you, her life was so fragile.
And so I see a person who had some sadness, but who also wanted to live life to the fullest, and that pretty much is who I am now too.
JEFFREY BROWN: One of the other themes here, of course, is the passage of time, right? And you even refer to you as a young girl on the train, when you’re saying, does it change depending on how fast we’re going, that metaphor of the train again, right? The train’s going so fast.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: What time will it be?
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Yes. Will we get ahead of time?
I’m sort of fascinated by time in general. And I think listeners will share this. I think we all have moments when we’re living in about four times at once, when something reminds us of something or when we realize we’re reacting to something because it comes from that past time.
JEFFREY BROWN: The train ride amidst great loss is the touchstone for one of her biggest concerns as a reporter, the role of fixers, the local producers who help us do our work, sometimes at great risk to themselves.
One man in particular, Fakher Haider, worked with Elizabeth in Iraq. He was later killed while working with another news organization.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: I realized in about — it started really in about 2000, before 9/11, but really after 9/11, when I spent quite a lot of time in the Middle East, that the shoots that we were on were far more dangerous for the cameraman, the soundman and the fixer than for me and for the producer.
And there are reasons for that. It has to do partly with having a camera, which means that it looks like a gun sometimes. We had people point guns at us because they thought that we had a gun.
And then fixers are local people who interpret and do a lot more for us too. And we all are probably going to get helped in going back home if something bad happens.
JEFFREY BROWN: You have somewhere to go to.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Yes. And the fixer doesn’t.
And I won’t take the time here, but I could tell you stories of ways in which correspondents hurt fixers by not being sensitive to them.
And that is not what happened with Fakher. People were quite sensitive to him. But he was such a good reporter and doing such great work, did great work for us. He did great work for The New York Times.
And, as I say in the book, he joined the ghosts that wake me up at night sometimes.
JEFFREY BROWN: There is an interesting blend of fact — that’s all we’re talking about here — and fiction, of deeply reported events and your imagination.
And I wonder how you thought about that line.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: It’s funny. I asked Jim Lehrer about it. Can I do this?
And he said, as long as you tell people what the fiction is.
And that’s what I do in the afterward.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: I think, any time you remember something, one can write a memoir — and I know people that have done this — that everything is researched. You don’t say anything just from memory.
But I didn’t want to do that, because part of what I was trying to do was recover the imagination that created who I am now. I was very imaginative as a child, and I wanted to see what it was that I thought about my mother’s death, not what the facts were.
I could’ve gone to try to find the medical records. But I wanted to be in her mind. And I understand that you take chances when you start. I started imaging this on the train in a certain way, which we won’t reveal, and certain things happened on the train which are a mystery.
And I just went with it. And I do explain that that part isn’t true. And I think that there’s a reason why I did go with it and the role it plays in the book. And we will let other people decide what they think.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, as you say, memory and imagination are closely linked. You just decided to allow the linkage to happen.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: I think of imagination as really a way of seeing things that you cannot see any other way.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the book is “A Train Through Time.”
Elizabeth Farnsworth, thank you very much.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Thanks, Jeff.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we are so proud of our former colleague Elizabeth.
You can watch Matthew Moyer’s tribute to Fakher Haider. That’s online at pbs.org/newshour.
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Vote looming, House health care bill hasn’t yet won pivotal GOP support Author: PBS NewsHour
Wed, Mar 22, 2017
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JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump is pressing hard on members of his own party for support of the Republican bill to replace Obamacare.
But, at this hour, it is not clear he has the votes. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill on Thursday. For millions, it would change the amount of money they receive to buy insurance and eventually end an expansion of Medicaid. Last week, the Congressional Budget Office estimated 24 million more people would be uninsured over a decade if it were to pass.
Lisa Desjardins reports on the battle from Capitol Hill.
LISA DESJARDINS: In the basement of the Capitol, House members heading to more predictable votes today conveyed the Republican divide over the big health care vote set for tomorrow.
New York’s Tom Reed became a yes in the last day, thanks to help for his district.
REP. TOM REED, R-N.Y.: I think just a continuation of the information, the improvements, as the detail come out. I think more and more members are getting more and more comfortable with it.
LISA DESJARDINS: But not New Jersey’s Leonard Lance, who met with the president yesterday.
He didn’t change your mind?
REP. LEONARD LANCE, R-N.J.: I think that he wanted to listen to members, and I was pleased he invited me and other members to meet with him.
LISA DESJARDINS: That sounds like a polite no. He didn’t change your mind.
REP. LEONARD LANCE: I was honored to be in the White House and to meet with the president.
LISA DESJARDINS: The semantic dance comes because GOP leaders may not have the votes they need, this as their bill hit its last stop before a final vote the House floor, the House Rules Committee. It’s stacked with bill supporters, but Republican Rob Woodall worried about noted the bumpy ride
REP. ROB WOODALL, R- Ga.: It seems like we’re going out of our way to make this more divisive than it has to be.
LISA DESJARDINS: Budget Chairman Diane Black aimed for pragmatic unity.
REP. DIANE BLACK, R-Tenn.: We all know that analogy that is made, it’s kind of like sausage, not pretty watching it being made, but tastes pretty good at the end when you get it right. So I think that that’s something we have to encourage all members to continue to bring their suggestions forward.
LISA DESJARDINS: Meantime, President Trump tried to wrangle votes, meeting with unhappy, and much needed, conservatives privately. Publicly, at least, he was confident.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We’re going to help get this done. We’re going to get it figured out. It’s a tough situation our country has been put in. It’s not easy.
LISA DESJARDINS: But the White House effort has still not won over the pivotal conservative Freedom Caucus.
Chairman Mark Meadows:
REP. MARK MEADOWS, R-N.C.: We had a great meeting with the vice president. You know, they are fully engaged, but I can say this at this particular point. We need changes to the underlying bill before we vote on it in the House.
LISA DESJARDINS: This as pressure keeps mounting from outside the Capitol. Among those whipping for no votes, and dinging those who vote yes, are prominent conservative groups the Heritage Foundation and Club for Growth.
Pushing in the opposite direction, the National Taxpayers Union, which came out for the bill today. As Republicans worked behind the scenes, Democrats were happy to provide public optics, with a flag-waving news conference celebrating the seventh anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif., House Minority Leader: Today, we are gathered to say how proud we are of what was accomplished and contrast it with what is being proposed, will be less care for more money.
LISA DESJARDINS: The Democrats called up doctors, rural hospital workers, business owners and patients, all stressing opposition to Medicaid cuts in the GOP bill, as did former Vice President Biden.
JOSEPH BIDEN, Former Vice President of the United States: We are talking about eliminating close to a trillion dollars in benefits that go to people to able to meet the commitment we made that health care is a right and we’re transferring all that to the wealthy.
LISA DESJARDINS: But it is the current White House now in the spotlight.
QUESTION: Is there a plan B?
SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary: This is no plan B. There is plan A and plan A. We’re going to get this done.
LISA DESJARDINS: An emphatic message to Republicans from the White House press secretary.
SEAN SPICER: This is it. If you want to see Obamacare repealed and replaced, this is the vote.
LISA DESJARDINS: And if they say no? To that, President Trump said today, “We will see what happens.”
And just in the past few minutes, we have some news out of the Freedom Caucus. Reporters say that the chairman of that caucus, Mark Meadows, who we featured, now says he’s encouraged by negotiations, and he sees some headway. That’s different than a yes, but indicates perhaps some movement late tonight.
Also, as we speak, the House Rules Committee right above me is still meeting. They have been at it since 10:00 this morning. So far, no changes to the bill, but they’re expected to go late tonight, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Lisa, and as you showed, there have been a few members throughout the day who are now saying they’re shifting in the direction of yes, that they have been persuaded by specific promises. So what do you know about that?
LISA DESJARDINS: They’re absolutely is horse-trading going on today.
Two cases that we know about for sure, Pennsylvania’s Lou Barletta, he tweeted out that he is now a yes after getting a guarantee from House leadership for a vote on a bill that he wants that would end — that would ban tax credits for undocumented immigrants. Also, Steve King of Iowa, he is now a yes, sources tell me, because he has gotten an assurance that the president will push for some insurance regulation changes in the Senate.
Now, those are two new yes votes, Judy, but there’s also at least two, probably more, new no votes, some on the record, some off the record. So it’s very fluid. I think it’s hard to draw conclusions right now about where this bill is.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa, what about those who are truly still on the fence? What is known about what they want or what they need to vote?
LISA DESJARDINS: Here’s what conservatives want. Conservatives say they want this bill to include a full repeal of the individual mandate and also of the essential benefits that says what must be in insurance packages.
The leadership in the House and Senate say they can’t do that because of the rules of the reconciliation process, because of the way the Senate works. The House Freedom Caucus says they’re not so sure that’s true. So they’re having a procedural argument, but it also is about substance. It’s about trying to end the mandate, which they don’t think this bill does. That’s a lot of the discussion right now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, Lisa, will the Republican leadership go ahead and hold a vote tomorrow if they’re not sure they have the votes?
LISA DESJARDINS: You know, I spoke to one member who told me that he has heard that Speaker Ryan will hold the vote regardless, but that’s just one member.
And history tell us, Judy, usually, if they don’t have the votes, speakers will pull the bill. But we’re in unusual times, as we all know.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We are in unusual times.
Lisa Desjardins, thank you.
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News Wrap: Deadly attack wreaks havoc outside London Parliament Author: PBS NewsHour
Wed, Mar 22, 2017
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Chaos erupted outside Britain’s Parliament Building, and when it was over, at least four people were dead. They included an attacker who drove into a crowd, a policeman he stabbed before being shot dead, and two civilians hit by the car.
Paul Davies of Independent Television News reports from London.
PAUL DAVIES: Parliament in lock down. Emergency vehicles block all roads. An air ambulance arrives to collect the casualties.
The security services have warned there’d been many close calls before, but this was the day the terror threat arrived at Westminster, and even entered the grounds of the mother of parliaments. Here, a police officer throws a bag of emergency supplies over the fence. Inside the grounds, medics are desperately trying to help a colleague who has been stabbed.
A second person seen here being treated on the left of this picture is believed to be the attacker who’s been shot by police. As news spreads, so does panic. Tourists run away, and then we hear the sound of gunshots.
While armed officers enter Parliament, M.P.s are briefed on what’s happening outside.
DAVID LIDINGTON, Leader of the House of Commons: What I am able to say to the House is that there has been a serious incident within the estate.
PAUL DAVIES: But there was more to this horrifying event, much more. On Westminster Bridge, a trail of carnage. A car had mounted the pavement, deliberately mowing down pedestrians as it headed for the houses of Parliament.
The injured are scattered where they were knocked down. There are multiple casualties. The car reached the perimeter of Parliament before crashing into railings. In this image, there’s still smoke coming from its engine. Tourists mill around it. Police say the man on this stretcher is the one who was shot by their officers.
MARK ROWLEY, Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police: And whilst we currently believe there was only one attacker, I’m sure the public will understand us taking every precaution in locking down and searching the area as thoroughly and exhaustively as possible.
PAUL DAVIES: At this stage, police are not speculating about the motive of the attacker, the man they are calling a terrorist.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The incident came one year after Islamist militants killed 32 people in Brussels, Belgium.
Turkey’s president issued a stark warning to European states today. Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that they stop barring Turkish government officials from rallies of Turkish emigres. They’re meant to drum up support for expanding Erdogan’s powers.
In Ankara today, the Turkish leader said that Europe has to change its ways, or face the consequences.
PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turkey (through interpreter): These incidents are closely followed. If you continue this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. If you stay on this dangerous path, you will sustain the biggest damage.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Turkey holds a referendum on expanding Erdogan’s powers next month.
There’s word tonight that U.S. agencies may have intercepted communications by Trump transition officials. The chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, says it happened during legal surveillance of foreign nationals. Nunes briefed the president at the White House today, and said the information is not related to any contacts with the Russians.
REP. DEVIN NUNES, R-Calif.: What I saw has nothing to do with Russia and nothing to do with the Russian investigation, has everything to do with possible surveillance activities. And the president needs to know that these intelligence reports are out there. And I have a duty to tell him that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Nunes says he believes the intercepts may have been improperly included in intelligence reports. The chairman did share the information with the ranking Democrat on the intelligence panel before going public. That is representative — or, rather, he didn’t share it with him. And that is Representative Adam Schiff of California.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-Calif.: The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he’s going to act as a surrogate of the White House, because he cannot do both.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Chairman Nunes repeated today that there’s still no evidence for the president’s claim that he was wiretapped. But Mr. Trump said he feels — quote — “somewhat vindicated” by this disclosure.
This was day three of the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, and he again declined to divulge his views on a host of legal issues. Republicans gave him glowing reviews, but Democrats complained that he’s concealing his views to win confirmation. We will have excerpts from today’s testimony and analysis later in the program.
Representatives of 68 nations gathered in Washington today to assess the fight against the Islamic State group.
John Yang has our report.
JOHN YANG: The full 68-nation anti-ISIS coalition convened at a moment of major gains.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:
REX TILLERSON, U.S. Secretary of State: Hard-fought victories in Iraq and Syria have swung the momentum in our coalition’s favor. Defeating ISIS is the United States’ number one goal in the region.
JOHN YANG: Tillerson called for other nations to step up their own efforts, and he said the focus of the ISIS fight will soon shift to stabilization. That would involve creating conditions so refugees can return home.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi appealed for new attempts to bring peace.
HAIDER AL-ABADI, Prime Minister, Iraq (through interpreter): I call for containing the regional differences and regional conflicts because these are the main reasons these terrorist groups rise.
JOHN YANG: In Iraq, government forces pressed the now-five-month battle to retake Mosul from Islamic State fighters.
MAN (through interpreter): The security forces are continuing to help move civilians. ISIS is done. I swear they are running. They have nothing left in Iraq, I swear.
JOHN YANG: Some of the fiercest fighting is unfolding around the al-Nuri Mosque. That’s where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in July 2014. The ISIS militants are also steadily losing ground in Syria. Today, U.S. aircraft dropped Syrian Kurdish fighters and allied forces near the town of Tabqa, about 30 miles from Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of ISIS.
If the operation is successful, it would essentially cut off the militants’ Western approach to the city.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m John Yang.
JUDY WOODRUFF: North Korea test-fired another missile today. But, this time, the U.S. military says it blew up just after launch. Hours later, an American B-1B bomber joined South Korean fighter jets in a show of deterrence. Less than a month ago, the North had test-fired four ballistic missiles that landed in Japanese waters.
An urgent new appeal today about famine in four war-torn countries. The International Committee of the Red Cross says that it needs $300 million in emergency aid in the next three to four months. Otherwise, it says mass starvation looms across Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Northeastern Nigeria.
DOMINIK STILLHART, International Committee of the Red Cross: This is not business as usual; 20 million people facing starvation is not something that we are dealing with every day. And, therefore, we really need to act now. And, if we act now, especially in Yemen and in Somalia, famine can be averted.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The United Nations has also warned of the famine danger.
Back in this country, the governor of Arkansas signed a law allowing concealed handguns at state colleges, other government sites and some bars. Gun owners would have up to eight hours of active shooter training — have to have. Supporters said it will let law-abiding people defend themselves. Opponents said it will make everyday life more dangerous.
Police in Los Angeles say fear of deportation is now discouraging Latinos from reporting crimes. Chief Charlie Beck says there’s been a 25 percent drop in Latinos reporting sexual assaults since January. Reports of domestic violence are down 10 percent. Beck says that people are afraid of contacting police or appearing in court.
And Wall Street had a quiet day. The Dow Jones industrial average lost six points to close at 20661. The Nasdaq rose 27 points, and the S&P 500 added four.
Still to come on the NewsHour: the Russia file, allegations that a former Trump campaign manager worked on behalf of Russia — one on one with Susan Rice in her first interview since leaving public office; the Gorsuch hearings, more questions for the Supreme Court nominee; and much more.
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