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Last updated: Thursday, March 05 2015 07:02 PM

Video: China’s smog documentary (English subtitles)

Thursday, March 05 2015 06:13 PM

Watch the first 10 minutes of “Under the Dome” with English subtitles.

Chinese journalist and environmental activist Chai Jing describes in a video that’s gone viral the moment China’s pollution problem hit home. She was bringing her sick infant daughter home from the hospital and felt compelled to cover her nose with a handkerchief, though she knew the tactic was useless.

“Before this happened, I was never scared of the air pollution,” she says in Chinese to an audience in the video. “I never wore a mask wherever I went, but now you have a little infant in your arms, you need to take care of her when she breaths. … That’s when you are scared.”

The documentary, called “Under the Dome”, contains footage of polluted skies from China’s vast factory network and details the types of particulate matter in the air. The Chinese version of the video has racked up more than 100 million views since it went online Saturday.

Chinese Environment Minister Chen Jining praised the documentary on Sunday, saying it showed the “growing public concern over environmental protection and threats to human health.”

China recently has taken a stronger policy stance on its air pollution. Last year at the APEC summit in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed for the first time to a date of 2030 for peak carbon dioxide emissions and to increase renewable energy consumption.

He said the nation of 1.3 billion would participate in an international conference on climate change in Paris later this year.

Video: Flight landing at LaGuardia skids off runway

Thursday, March 05 2015 05:24 PM

A video posted by _veeestchic_ (@_veeestchic_) on Mar 5, 2015 at 8:25am PST

A Delta flight landing at New York’s LaGuardia Airport skidded off the runway Thursday morning before coming to a rest against an embankment.

The New York Fire Department reported no injuries among the 125 passengers and five-member crew, according to the Associated Press. The flight was arriving from Atlanta.

Photos on social media show passengers deplaning onto snowy ground while flakes continued to fall at the airport, which is centrally located on the New York City borough of Queens, not far from Manhattan.

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

New York City was expecting six to eight inches of snow to accumulate Thursday.

Across the country, nearly 2,300 flights have been canceled with Dallas-Fort Worth and airports in the Washington, D.C., region hit the hardest.

The post Video: Flight landing at LaGuardia skids off runway appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Knife-wielding man arrested after attack on U.S. ambassador

Thursday, March 05 2015 04:35 PM

U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was attacked by a man with a razor blade while giving a lecture in Seoul on March 5, 2015. Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was attacked by a man with a razor blade while giving a lecture in Seoul on March 5, 2015. Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was attacked in Seoul on Thursday by a man wielding a 10-inch knife, who managed to slash his face and wrist before being wrestled to the ground.

Lippert, 42, who had been addressing a breakfast meeting of the Sejong Cultural Institute in the center of the South Korean capital, was taken to a hospital and received 80 stitches to his face.

The assailant, who identified himself at the scene as Kim Ki-jong after being subdued and arrested, was protesting joint U.S.-South Korea military drills, said Jongno Police Station chief Yun Myeong Seong at a televised briefing.

In this handout image provided by The Asia Economy Daily newspaper, the man identified as Kim Ki-jong is arrested at the site in Seoul where U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was attacked on March 5, 2015. Photo by Handout/The Asia Economy Daily via Getty Images

In this handout image provided by The Asia Economy Daily newspaper, the man identified as Kim Ki-jong is arrested at the site in Seoul where U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was attacked on March 5, 2015. Photo by Handout/The Asia Economy Daily via Getty Images

Kim reportedly said during the attack, “South and North Korea should be reunified.” The U.S.-South Korean military drills are viewed by North Korea and its allies as preparation for an invasion.

Lippert tweeted that he would be back in action soon:

The State Department issued a statement saying U.S. law enforcement is working with the Korean National Police on the incident. “The U.S.-ROK (Republic of Korea) alliance is strong; we will not be deterred by senseless acts of violence,” said the department’s deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf.

LBJ linked Latinos, civil rights in ‘Selma’ speech

Thursday, March 05 2015 01:54 PM

President Lyndon B. Johnson addresses Congress on the Voting Rights Act on March 15, 1965. LBJ Library photo by Cecil Stoughton

President Lyndon B. Johnson addresses Congress on the Voting Rights Act on March 15, 1965. LBJ Library photo by Cecil Stoughton

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked a joint session of Congress to respond to the brutal beatings of protesters in Selma, Alabama, by passing a federal Voting Rights Act that would “open the city of hope to all people of all races.”

While this week’s commemorations of the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” may invoke memories of historic events in which the “real hero,” as Johnson said, was “the American Negro,” little is said about Johnson’s call in that speech to include Mexican-Americans in the struggle for equality.

“It was a defining moment for Johnson and Mexican-Americans,” Julie Leininger Pycior, a Manhattan College history professor, said. “And yet it is a moment that is almost totally forgotten.”

Nationally televised images of protesters violently beaten, whipped and tear-gassed — even trampled by horses — at the hands of police during a march from Selma to the state capitol, Montgomery, triggered mass outrage and more demonstrations around the country. The incident, which became known as “Bloody Sunday,” galvanized the nation’s leaders and ultimately yielded passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

During his address to Congress following those broadcasts, Johnson spoke passionately about poverty and equal rights, a sensitivity influenced, he said, by discrimination against Mexican-Americans that he witnessed as a young teacher at a segregated school in Cotulla, Texas, in the 1920s.

William Bonilla, 84, a retired lawyer in Corpus Christi, Texas, was president of the League of United Latin American Citizens in 1965, then the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization. LBJ had told him privately about his Cotulla experience, Bonilla said, and hearing the president share it in a national address was an emotional moment for many Mexican-Americans.

“I could tell he never forgot those students. He was sincere,” Bonilla said.

According to transcripts of the Johnson presidential recordings at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, Johnson told Martin Luther King Jr. of his desire for “equality for all” well before the first Selma march, which took place March 7, 1965.

On Jan. 15, 1965 — King’s 36th birthday — Johnson returned King’s phone call and told him a voting rights bill would be better if “we just extend it (to everyone), whether it’s a Negro, whether it’s a Mexican or who it is.”

“Yeah,” King said.

Johnson went on to say that such legislation could be the “greatest achievement of his administration,” to which King replied, “That’s right. That’s right.”

While campaigning along the U.S.-Mexico border for a U.S. Senate seat in 1948 and again in 1954, Johnson took note of the effects that poverty and discrimination had on Mexican-Americans. One of his first acts in office was to arrange burial at Arlington National Cemetery for Army Pvt. Felix Longoria, who was killed during World War II and buried in the Philippines.

Longoria’s remains were returned to the U.S. a few years later, and a Texas funeral director told Longoria’s widow that he could not provide chapel services for her husband, because “the whites wouldn’t like it.” Johnson intervened, and Longoria was buried at Arlington in 1949.

Johnson “came to understand racism and poverty through the Mexican-American experience,” said Brian Behnken, an Iowa State University history professor and author of a book about the civil rights struggle in Texas. However, Behnken added, Johnson also tread lightly on the issue so as not to incite segregationists.

That changed once Johnson became president.

Appalled by the brutality in Selma, Johnson viewed it as an opportunity to “liberate himself” by linking the voting rights struggle with the struggles, 37 years earlier, of his poorest students in Cotulla, Pycior said.

In his speech to Congress, Johnson called for full equality for black Americans 100 years after Emancipation “because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.” He underscored that sentiment by uttering the civil rights movement’s mantra, “we shall overcome,” then brought up his former students in Cotulla.

“Few of them could speak English, and I couldn’t speak much Spanish,” Johnson said. The students were poor, hungry and aware that people hated them, but they didn’t know why, Johnson said, and he often wished there was more he could do for them.

“Somehow you never forget what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child,” Johnson said.

He said he never thought he’d have the opportunity to help the children of those students, and others like them.

“But now I do have that chance,” Johnson said. “And I’ll let you in on a secret: I mean to use it.”

Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in August 1965, and Johnson signed it into law on Aug. 6.

The post LBJ linked Latinos, civil rights in ‘Selma’ speech appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Source: Obama counsel not aware of Clinton’s email practice

Thursday, March 05 2015 01:39 PM

Photo by Crowther & Carter via Getty Images

Photo by Crowther & Carter via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The White House counsel’s office was not aware at the time Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state that she relied solely on personal email and only found out as part of the congressional investigation into the Benghazi attack, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The person said Clinton’s exclusive reliance on personal email as the nation’s top diplomat was inconsistent with the guidance given to agencies that official business should be conducted on official email accounts. Once the State Department turned over some of her messages in connection with the Benghazi investigation after she left office, making it apparent she had not followed the guidance, the White House counsel’s office asked the department to ensure that her email records were properly archived, according to the person who spoke on a condition of anonymity without authorization to speak on the record.

Clinton announced in a late-night tweet Wednesday that she wants her emails released. She asked the State Department to vet the 55,000-plus pages she handed over, leaving the diplomatic agency with the intensely politicized task of determining which can be made public.

The State Department said it would review the emails as quickly as possible but cautioned it would take some time.

The email saga has developed as the first major test for how the White House and President Barack Obama’s administration will deal with Clinton’s likely 2016 presidential campaign — and the inevitable questions that will only get louder as 2016 approaches.

Since the revelations surfaced this week, the Obama administration has been pummeled by endless questions about Clinton, who hasn’t formally announced a run. In the absence of an official campaign to defend her, the White House press secretary has been put in the awkward position of being a de facto Clinton spokesman and the most public voice speaking on her behalf.

While trying to avoid doing political damage to Clinton, the White House has put the onus on her aides to explain exactly what happened.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged Wednesday that Clinton would have emailed White House officials on a non-government account. But the person familiar with the matter said the White House was not aware that was her sole method of email and that she wasn’t keeping a record of her emails at the State Department.

The person said the White House’s concern was that agencies much maintain records for historical and legal purposes in the case of a Freedom of Information Act request or subpoena. If the State Department didn’t control the records, officials there could not search and ensure they are turning over what is required and that could create a legal issue for the agency.

Earnest said the guidance given to government officials is that they should forward work emails on a personal address to official accounts or even print them out and turn them over to their agency to ensure they are properly maintained.

“If in fact Secretary Clinton’s team did what they say they did — and that is reviewed her email, collected all of her personal email that was related to her official government work and turn that over to the State Department so that they could properly preserve and maintain it — that would be consistent with the Federal Records Act, and that’s the president’s expectation,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday.

The Associated Press has reported that Clinton’s account was set up on a computer email server traced to her home in Chappaqua, New York. On Wednesday, the Republican-led Select Committee on Benghazi issued subpoenas for emails from Clinton’s personal email related to Libya.

Top White House aides have been in contact with Clinton’s team to clarify specific facts that the White House is likely to be asked about. The White House also reached out to Clinton’s team ahead of Tuesday’s press briefing to advise them of what the White House planned to say, according to a senior White House official, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations.

“It’s almost impossible for the White House to give firm answers because there’s just too much you don’t know,” said Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush’s former press secretary. “It’s an extraordinarily delicate dance they have to do to not throw someone overboard, but not get anyone in the White House in deeper trouble.”

The post Source: Obama counsel not aware of Clinton’s email practice appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

How America polled on civil rights 50 years ago today

Thursday, March 05 2015 12:05 PM

American Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968) and his wife Coretta Scott King (1927 - 2006) (center, arm in arm) lead others during on the Selma to Montgomery marches held in support of voter rights, Alabama, late March, 1965. Among those with them are Reverend Ralph Abernathy (1926 - 1990) (at left, facing camera), and Pulitzer-Prize winning political scientist and diplomat Ralph Bunche (1904 - 1971) (front row, third left with glasses) whose his wife, Ruth (nee Harris, 1906 - 1988), holds his arm. (Photo by Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, lead others during the Selma to Montgomery marches in March 1965. Photo by Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images

When civil rights activists led a bloody protest march in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965 that is credited with helping to assure passage of the Voting Rights Act that year, civil rights was a top issue for the American public, but opinions about it were very mixed. Even so, America’s verdict on Selma was clear. In all, the protesters staged three marches that month, and polling showed the public clearly siding with the demonstrators, not with the state of Alabama.

A nationwide Gallup poll in February 1965 found 26 percent of Americans citing civil rights as a problem facing the nation, second only to the expanding war in Vietnam (cited by 29 percent). There was broad-based support for the war at this early stage in its history, but views about civil rights and integration were clearly mixed.

FT_15.03.05_supportOn one hand, Americans continued to support the Civil Rights Act of 1964, at least in principle, but had concerns about its scope and implementation. A Gallup poll in October 1964 reported that the public approved of the new law by nearly two-to-one (58 percent to 31 percent). And in April 1965, Gallup found a whopping 76 percent in favor of a then-proposed equal rights voting law.

But while the public supported civil rights legislation conceptually, they expressed concerns about the pace of its implementation. Indeed, although most supported the new civil rights law soon after it was passed, a national Opinion Research Corporation poll showed 68 percent of Americans wanting to see moderation in its enforcement, with only 19 percent wanting vigorous enforcement of the new law.

In that light, it is not surprising that in early 1965, a Gallup poll found growing numbers of Americans saying that the Johnson administration was moving too fast overall on integration. In March, 34 percent held that view, and by May that sentiment rose to 45 percent, with only 14 percent expressing the view that it was not moving fast enough.

FT_15.03.05_enforcementOpinion about the pace of integration in May 1965 was dramatically different in the South compared with other parts of the country. By a margin of 61 percent to 21 percent, Southerners felt the government was moving too quickly, rather than about right. Outside the South, Americans were about evenly divided: About four-in-ten thought the pace was too fast and about the same percentage thought integration was occurring at about the right pace.

Gallup reported in February 1965 that, when asked about the Civil Rights Act specifically, 42 percent overall believed the federal government was moving too fast in guaranteeing “Negro” voting rights and the right of “Negroes” (the term used in the question) to be served in public places such as restaurants, hotels and theaters, while just 25 percent thought it was not moving fast enough.

FT_15.03.05_selmaBut despite all these reservations, views about what occurred in Selma were another matter. By a 48 percent to 21 percent margin, a Harris poll in May 1965 found its respondents saying they sided more with the civil rights groups involved than with the state of Alabama. Not unexpectedly, virtually all of the African-American respondents sided more with the demonstrators (95 percent), but the balance of opinion among whites was also clearly with them rather than with the state of Alabama (46 percent to 21 percent).

For more information about how contemporary Americans feel about achieving the goal of racial equality, see our full report.

The post How America polled on civil rights 50 years ago today appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

News Wrap: Mexican forces capture Zetas cartel leader

Wednesday, March 04 2015 11:50 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 6.25.35 PM

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JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama’s health care law hung in the balance today before the Supreme Court, at issue, whether tax subsidies to help pay premiums apply nationwide. Most states rely on a federally run insurance exchange.

But the attorney challenging the law, Michael Carvin, said Congress meant to limit subsidies to states with their own exchanges.

MICHAEL CARVIN, Lawyer for Plaintiffs: I obviously believe our case is very compelling, so I’m hopeful and confident that the court will recognize the merits of our statutory interpretation, and not let the IRS rewrite the plain language of the statute.

Now that it’s the law of the land, we need it to be neutrally and fairly interpreted. And that’s exactly why we’re here, to vindicate the rule of law.

JUDY WOODRUFF: U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued the government’s case, with former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal in support.

NEAL KATYAL, Former Acting Solicitor General: When the federal government runs an exchange, it is such an exchange, just like a state one, and should be eligible for the subsidies. And when Mr. Verrilli took the podium, I think you saw that heavily hammered, the idea that this isn’t an ambiguous provision. This is a provision that everyone understood at the time to provide subsidies to both federal and state exchanges.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The high court is expected to decide the case in late June. We will look at today’s arguments in detail after the news summary.

GWEN IFILL: There’s new confusion over same-sex marriage in Alabama. Last night, the state’s highest court ordered probate judges to uphold a ban on gay marriage, despite a federal court ruling that it’s unconstitutional. Today, some counties stopped issuing licenses to gay couples.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Justice Department confirmed today that it will not file civil rights charges in the killing of Michael Brown. His death last summer in Ferguson, Missouri, touched off national protests. Then-police officer Darren Wilson said he feared for his own life when he shot Brown, and today’s report backed that account.

Attorney General Eric Holder:

ERIC HOLDER, Attorney General: I recognize that the findings in our report may leave some to wonder how the department’s findings can differ so sharply from some of the initial widely reported accounts of what transpired.

I want to emphasize that the strength and integrity of America’s justice system has always rested on its ability to deliver impartial results.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The department also officially released a scathing report that found systemic racial bias in the Ferguson Police Department and courts.

GWEN IFILL: In Mexico, the head of Mexico’s notorious Zetas drug cartel, Omar Trevino Morales, is behind bars tonight. Police and soldiers arrested him early today at his home outside Monterrey. Morales is wanted in the U.S. and Mexico on charges of drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder. It’s the second arrest of a Mexican cartel leader in less than a week.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The latest negotiations over Iran’s nuclear future have wrapped up with no breakthrough. Secretary of State John Kerry said today there are still — quote — “significant gaps.”  And a senior U.S. official dialed back hopes for a framework agreement by month’s end.

GWEN IFILL: Russian President Vladimir Putin weighed in publicly today, for the first time, on the murder of Boris Nemtsov. The opposition leader was gunned down near the Kremlin on Friday night, hours after he denounced Putin’s policies in Ukraine.

In televised remarks to Interior Ministry employees, Putin condemned the killing.

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia (through interpreter): The most serious attention must be paid to high-profile crimes, including those with a political motive. We must finally rid Russia of the disgrace and tragedy of the kinds of things we recently saw and experienced. I mean the audacious murder of Boris Nemtsov in the very center of the capital.

GWEN IFILL: There have been no arrests in the case.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in this country, the Senate failed to override President Obama’s veto of the Keystone oil pipeline bill. Supporters of the project fell five votes short.

Meanwhile, the president signed the Homeland Security funding bill. It passed after Republicans gave up on rolling back his immigration policies.

GWEN IFILL: Wall Street gave ground today on profit-taking. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 106 points, ending below 18100. The Nasdaq fell 12 points and the S&P 500 slipped nine.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, the wreck of the giant Japanese battleship Musashi has been found 70 years after it was sunk. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and his research team say they located what’s left of the vessel off the Philippines. U.S. planes sank the Musashi in October 1944.

The post News Wrap: Mexican forces capture Zetas cartel leader appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Health care of 8 million on the line as Supreme Court hears ACA case

Wednesday, March 04 2015 11:45 PM

Supreme Court Hears Case Challenging Obama's Affordable Health Care Act

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JUDY WOODRUFF: A major challenge to the health care law at the Supreme Court today.

NewsHour contributor Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal was there.

And this is the day everyone’s been waiting for.

MARCIA COYLE, The National Law Journal: Big case, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Marcia, we know the court has already weighed in on the constitutionality of the health care law. So, remind us, who brought this complaint and what was it about?

MARCIA COYLE: All right, Judy, this is what we call a statutory interpretation case. It involves the justices looking at a provision in the Affordable Care Act and deciding what it means, what Congress intended in the context and text of the law itself.

This challenge to it was brought by four Virginia residents who claim that there is a provision in the law that says federal subsidies or tax credits for low- and middle-income Americans are available only on exchanges established by the state. They claim that that doesn’t include subsidies for purchases on exchanges that the federal government creates.

The act allows the federal government to step in and create exchanges when a state opts not to. And, as you probably know, only 16 states have created their own exchanges; 34 states opted for the federal government to come in and set up an exchange.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So it sounds like — and it sounds like the justices just jumped right in and started asking questions right away.

MARCIA COYLE: I’m going to boil down Mr. Carvin’s very lengthy argument, and with apologies to him, and say he made basically two arguments here.

First, the language, exchanges established by the state, the plain language dictates a result in favor of his client. His second argument was Congress intended to limit the subsidies to state exchanges in order to induce the states to create their own exchanges. Basically, you don’t create the exchange, you don’t get the federal money.

His plain language argument immediately drew fire from Justices Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor. Justice Kagan said, it’s not so simple that you focus just on a few words in a phrase. The court looks at the phrase in the context of the entire statute to see if it’s harmonious, if it makes sense.

Justice Sotomayor pointed out that, under Mr. Carvin’s and his clients’ interpretation of the act, there would be consequences that Congress could not have intended and, in fact, the law was designed to avoid. Without federal subsidies on federal exchanges, those exchanges would have no customers. There would be a death spiral. Healthy people wouldn’t buy insurance. Insurance costs would skyrocket.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, what is the government’s response to this when it was their turn?

MARCIA COYLE: The government represented by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.

And he agreed with the more liberal justices that the traditional way to interpret a statute is to look at the phrase at issue in the context of the entire statute. He said the consequences that Justice Sotomayor enunciated clearly show that this was — that the challengers’ interpretation wasn’t the statute that Congress intended.

But he faced his toughest questioning from Justices Scalia and Alito. Justice Scalia said, well, it may not have been the statute Congress intended, but the question, is it the statute that Congress wrote? And where the language is clear, he said, the court — clear and unambiguous — the court doesn’t rewrite the statute.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And you were just telling me, Marcia, that it looks as if two justices, in particular, are going to be the ones to determine what happens here.

MARCIA COYLE: I think, at the end of the argument, it looked as though the decision might well rest with Chief Justice Roberts, who said virtually nothing during the arguments — he was very quiet — and Justice Anthony Kennedy, who raised with the challengers what he called a serious constitutional problem with their argument that the Congress intended to induce the states to create exchanges by limiting subsidies to state exchanges.

This, he said, could be coercion, the kind of coercion of the states that violates the Constitution. So I think those two justices are the ones that may well hold the balance here.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Marcia Coyle at the court, thank you.

MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure, Judy.

GWEN IFILL: We take a broader look now at the case with Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute, and Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress. She is a former senior adviser to President Obama and helped write the Affordable Care Act.

Let’s take a little con — let’s go for a little context here. Was the administration, in putting these four words that Marcia was just talking about, into this act, was it intentionally trying to conceal or was it an unintentional loophole?

NEERA TANDEN, Center for American Progress: I actually think it’s neither, if you look at what we were deliberating on.

And, again, there was hundreds of hours of hearings, thousands of hours of discussion in Congress on this issue. The debate that we were having at the time was about where the exchanges, the parameters of the exchanges would be. And we were discussing regional exchanges, the national exchange and the state exchanges.

And this is very clear. The word is — the concept was state exchange. And the reason there was the creation of the federal fallback was to have subsidies available to everyone, regardless of whether a state chose to establish its own exchange or not.

GWEN IFILL: But, Michael Cannon, your argument is that federal fallback itself is the problem.

MICHAEL CANNON, Cato Institute: Well, the problem is that the IRS tried to expand its power under this law by imposing the law’s mandates, its taxes on about 57 million people who are by law exempt, and by issuing the disputed subsidies in states with federally established exchanges.

The law is very clear. It says in multiple places that were added in multiple stages during the legislative process that those subsidies and the taxes that they trigger occur only — quote — “through an exchange established by the state.”

There’s no similar language authorizing those measures in federal exchanges. In fact, the statute is quite clear that state-established exchanges and when the federal government establishes an exchange, it’s established by the secretary of health and human services, who is not a state. And so there’s a clear bifurcation between the two when it comes to the subsidies.

GWEN IFILL: Let me ask you both about Justice Kennedy, who is the one person today in the arguments who made everybody on both sides probably nervous, in your case because he said he was concerned about the impact if suddenly these subsidies had been made available in a couple of, three dozen states suddenly went away.

MICHAEL CANNON: Well, that doesn’t make me nervous for a couple of reasons.

One, he only gets to that analysis if he has agreed with the plaintiffs that the text of the statute is clear. And it appeared that he does agree, and he had a lot of skepticism for the government’s argument that the court should defer to the IRS’ interpretation and expansion of the statute.

But even if he finds that the statute is clear and the plaintiffs are correct, if he says that that’s an unconstitutionally coercive condition that Congress placed on these exchange subsidies, well, then that would create new constitutional law, that would call into question the constitutionality of any number of programs, including the Medicaid program.

GWEN IFILL: Obviously, you can respond to that, but I also want you to respond to Justice Kennedy’s concerns about IRS overreach.

NEERA TANDEN: You know, I was actually very heartened by Justice Kennedy’s arguments, because I think he asked some questions about the IRS. Solicitor General Verrilli responded very clearly.

But he, both in his questions to the plaintiffs and to the government, raised this issue that a number of the — a number of justices followed up on, which is the conception that the plaintiffs want us to believe is that the federal government, that the Congress passed a law that basically said to every state, you’re going to have all these requirements on insurance. If you don’t choose not to — if you don’t set up an insurance exchange yourself, you still have to have those requirements on your insurers, which will raise the cost of insurance in your state and could create death spirals, and according to insurers who have filed will raise costs for people outside the exchanges, and, at the same time, there will be no subsidy for them.

So you’re going to leave millions of people harmed in these states. And the most important point — one of the most important points, I think, came out in the solicitor general’s arguments, is that not a single state during the rule-making process noted, complained, said a word about this problem ,because they didn’t see it, because it has been, frankly, an argument made out of whole cloth by judicial activists who have not been able to get their Congress to pass what they would like to have happen, so they have used the courts.

GWEN IFILL: Michael Cannon, is there a legislative remedy, instead of the courts?

MICHAEL CANNON: Well, certainly.

In fact, one of the benefits, I think, of ruling for the plaintiffs in this case is it would create an opportunity for better health care reforms than what we have seen over the past five years.

GWEN IFILL: And you base that on what, on what action that Congress has taken so far?

MICHAEL CANNON: What would happen if there’s a ruling for the plaintiffs is that a lot of people would see the full cost of the regulations, the mandates that the Affordable Care Act imposes on them, and there would be a lot of dissatisfaction with that.

And the would create an impetus for reform, for change. Now, a lot of the people who supported the passage of this law don’t like that idea. They don’t want those costs to be transparent. They want the law to operate another way. What that basically tells us is, they’re having buyer’s remorse. They didn’t know what was in the law before they passed it.

Now that they see how it works, they don’t like it any more than anyone else does. But if there’s more public dissatisfaction about the law, then that does create an opportunity for low — for reforms that actually lower health care costs.

GWEN IFILL: There are very — only a few seconds left, but I want you both to clear something up for people watching this at home. Is this a political debate that is happening at the Supreme Court about the worth itself of Obamacare after the Supreme Court upheld it or is this something else?

NEERA TANDEN: So, could I just briefly respond?

GWEN IFILL: Very briefly.

NEERA TANDEN: Very briefly respond that it’s not that someone else is doing this. The Supreme Court would decide to take health care away for millions of people. Nearly nine million people would lose health care coverage.

So, that is the result of the — what the Supreme Court would do. If you look at what has happened in the Congress in the last several months, including last Friday, it’s hard for me to believe that they would do a quick fix. And I think that’s one of the reasons why we see this as a political fight.

GWEN IFILL: Mr. Cannon, brief final word.

MICHAEL CANNON: If that happens, that’s because that’s what the Affordable Care Act is. That’s how the Affordable Care Act works and we should change it.

GWEN IFILL: Michael Cannon of Cato and Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress, thank you both very much.


NEERA TANDEN: Thank you.

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Boston bombing suspect’s defense depends on why he did it, not if

Wednesday, March 04 2015 11:40 PM


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JUDY WOODRUFF: After weeks of delays, the trial of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev got under way today in Boston.

Here’s Hari Sreenivasan with more.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The trial’s start was delayed in part by a long jury selection process; 18 jurors and alternates were finally selected from a pool of more than 1,300.

After several different motions to try and change the venue, opening way got under way today, and it was a dramatic day.

Emily Rooney of WGBH starts us off with this report.

EMILY ROONEY, WGBH: Early this morning, victims and their families were bused to the courthouse on Boston’s waterfront and escorted straight inside.

They have waited almost two years, and today they first heard from the federal prosecutor attorney William Weinreb, who said both Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, were terrorists whose mission was to maim and kill.

Weinreb said Dzhokhar’s computer was full of terror schemes and instructions on how to build a bomb out of a pressure cooker. And he described in gory detail how the three victims died, saying one bomb tore large chunks of flesh off 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was just 4’5” weighing 70 pounds.

Shockingly, the defense said they won’t dispute the government’s account of what happened that day. Attorney Judy Clarke said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev walked down Boylston Street, carrying a backpack, and put it down. She said, what he did was inexcusable, but that he was drawn to a path of violence by his older brother, Tamerlan, a special kind of influence dictated by age, culture and sheer force of personality.

That will be a tough argument, as the jury is reminded of what started on April 15, 2013. The winners had finished hours earlier, but back-of-the-pack runners were still streaming in and spectators still lined the streets.

In addition to the three people who were killed, hundreds more were maimed and injured. Then the shooting of MIT police officer Sean Collier four days after the bombings triggered a dramatic manhunt that crippled Boston and surrounding communities. Over one million residents were ordered to stay inside. The chase ended after a wild shoot-out in the Boston suburb of Watertown, where Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed, run over by his own brother, Dzhokhar, as he eluded police for another 20 hours, until he was discovered hiding in a boat a few blocks away.

Meanwhile, the projected four-month-long trial is going to be a hardship for everyone. Between a massive construction site in front of the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse, intense security, mounds of snow and a dearth of public parking, just maneuvering the terrain will be tough.

MAN: It’s only because of the snow, really, and the trial. I mean, the mixture of the two makes it really bad.

EMILY ROONEY: Snow was just one reason for a slow start to the trial, but today was progress, with one victim telling me simply, “I couldn’t believe it.”

HARI SREENIVASAN: Emily Rooney joins us now.

Emily, you were in the courthouse this morning. Tell us a little bit of what it was like in there. There were survivors sitting in the benches.

EMILY ROONEY: I was actually sitting right across from them and looking very intently at them.

At one point, the parents of 8-year-old Richard Martin looked over and the father got up suddenly and left the courtroom. And I thought, wow, this is too intense for him, because it was right in the middle of the opening statement. He came back. I guess it was just sort of an emergency break. But some of them were very, very intently watching and looking and trying to strain to see Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Others were more focused on the jury or what the prosecution or the defense had to say.

HARI SREENIVASAN: And what did Dzhokhar Tsarnaev look like?

EMILY ROONEY: Well, I couldn’t see him because, yesterday, they had him facing the courtroom. I was only like 10 or 15 feet away. He was facing potential jurors and all the media.

Today, his back was to all of us. But he looks very, very sallow, thin. Has got very, very thick, Bushy black hair, a goatee that he strokes constantly. He’s very fidgety. but is also laid back and seems disinterested for the most part, completely disengaged.

HARI SREENIVASAN: As you mentioned in your report, his strategy or his lawyer’s strategy seems to be not that he deny doing this, but really just to prevent him from getting the electric chair or the death penalty.

EMILY ROONEY: Boy, I have to say, Hari, you could have knocked people over with a feather when Judy Clarke came out and the first thing she said was, we’re not going to argue with what the government has said. He was there. He was on there on Boylston Street. He put on a backpack loaded with bombs. He set the backpack down, he detonated his own bomb.

She basically made him a guilty man. But what she did say, we are going to dispute the government’s version that he was a co-conspirator, that she is saying that he was led along and that his age and his youth played into the fact that he was unduly influenced by his brother, Tamerlan.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Emily Rooney of WGBH, thanks so much.

EMILY ROONEY: Thanks, Hari.

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Islamic State blunted by U.S. efforts, says Pentagon

Wednesday, March 04 2015 11:35 PM

An Islamic State flag hangs on the wall of an abandoned building in Tel Hamis in Hasaka countryside after the YPG took control of the area

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to the challenging international mission to defeat the Islamic State group.

We explore the U.S.-led coalition effort, and Iran’s role in Iraqi military offensives, including the biggest one to date.

The battle to retake Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, began Monday.

ALI HUSSEIN (through interpreter): Our troops are now advancing according to the drawn-up plan, though there are so many bombs planted by Islamic State militants to hinder our progress.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Shiite militiamen have joined the offensive, directed in part by a top Iranian general. American warplanes have stayed out of the fight by Baghdad’s choice. The extremists still control much of Northern and Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq, seized last summer.

But, since then, a dozen nations have flown more than 2,000 airstrikes in the two countries. Backed by that airpower, Iraq’s military has slowly retaken a little of what it lost. The country’s second largest city, Mosul, captured last June, remains in the hands of ISIS fighters.

Two weeks ago, a U.S. Central Command official suggested a campaign to retake Mosul could come in April. That comment was later rescinded by Pentagon officials, including the new defense secretary himself yesterday.

ASHTON CARTER, Secretary of Defense: That clearly was not — neither accurate information, nor, had it been accurate, would have it been information that should be blurted out to the press.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, an irritated Iraqi defense minister said Baghdad, and no one else, will decide when to attack Mosul.

In Syria, meanwhile, Kurdish militia fighters have pushed ISIS back from Kobani, near the Turkish border. In turn, the militants, also known as ISIL, have beheaded hostages and carried out mass executions.

But President Obama’s special envoy to the coalition, retired Marine General John Allen, says the atrocities won’t work.

GEN. JOHN ALLEN (RET.), Special Presidential Envoy: The series of brutal acts ISIL has broadcast to the world has, in fact, galvanized the coalition to greater action.

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U.S. General leading coalition sees momentum in fight against Islamic State

Wednesday, March 04 2015 11:30 PM


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JUDY WOODRUFF: And General Allen joins me now.

Welcome to the NewsHour.

GEN. JOHN ALLEN: It’s good to be with you, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, the Pentagon is saying that the momentum of ISIS has been blunted. Does that mean ISIS is on the defensive or does that means there’s a standoff, that neither side is advancing?

GEN. JOHN ALLEN: Well, I think it’s on the defensive.

We are advancing. There are advances. There has been progress in many areas. There’s been progress from the air in arresting its forward momentum and putting it on the defensive, as you have described it. There has been progress in the training process that we have undertaken.

There are four camps that have been established in conjunction with our Iraqi partners to do training of the Iraqi security forces and tribal elements, a heavy coalition presence in all of those camps. There has been an advising that’s occurred for the Iraqi security forces and some of the tribal elements, as they seek to recover the ground and to liberate populations.

And so it’s not Da’esh on the defensive, ISIL on the defensive. We’re beginning to see real momentum beginning to develop on the part of the Iraqis.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, this critical operation to try to retake Tikrit, we described it a minute ago, involving some Iraqi troops, large numbers of Shia militiamen, some Sunni tribal fighters, Iranian military advisers, it doesn’t appear the U.S. is directly involved. Is that the case?

And then, separately, are you concerned about the heavy role of these Shia fighters?

GEN. JOHN ALLEN: Well, I don’t want to get involved or I don’t want to comment specifically on the role that the United States may have in this operation either today or as this operation continues to unfold.

We are in close contact with our Iraqi partners right now, as we have been, and we will watch all of this unfold. But we will be in close contact with them. And the fact that it’s not — it doesn’t appear that we’re involved at this moment doesn’t mean we won’t be later.

We have been very clear that, with the presence of Shia elements, the militia elements in the military activities associated with liberating populations, that we expect that, as they conduct these operations and as they would liberate these populations, that they will not affect retribution, they will not take revenge out on these populations.

Prime Minister Abadi has been very clear in that regard. The grand ayatollah, Ali al-Sistani, has been very clear in that regard. In this operation, as it has unfolded, the provincial governor has supported the operation, as has the chair of the provincial council. Key Sunni sheiks of various tribes have been supportive of the operation.

So, as it has unfolded to this particular moment, the actions of the forces involved here have been about clearing Da’esh. And we would condemn instantly any retribution or any revenge being taken out on the population.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But just by your making that point, it sounds like you’re concerned about that. And I know Vice President Biden just today spoke with President Abadi and made a point of speaking about the — and making sure that the populations who are liberated are reintegrated back into society.

GEN. JOHN ALLEN: Well, this is an important outcome. In each one of the occasions where populations will be liberated, embracing that population and reincorporating the population from being under the heel of Da’esh, or ISIL, back into the mainstream of Iraqi society, binding it back into the broader of concept of Iraq, that is really important.

And it’s important also to make the point that this is not just about the clearing force. We see clearing forces at work right now. What will be equally or perhaps even more important will be the role of the police, which will probably emerge from the local populations. So there we will see the role of Sunni security elements in securing that liberated population.

It will be the governance element, which reconnects that population back to the central government, and, very importantly, perhaps most importantly, how we provide humanitarian assistance and relief and immediate care for the liberated population. All of those together constitute the effect that we seek to have.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But in the meantime, it’s not only these Iranian military advisers who it’s reported are part of this effort to retake Tikrit.

There are multiple reports that it’s an Iranian general who oversees the elite Revolutionary Guard, Quds Force who is overseeing, who is directing this military effort. Is that accurate and is the U.S. coordinating with him?

GEN. JOHN ALLEN: We don’t coordinate with Iranians. We don’t coordinate with Suleimani.

JUDY WOODRUFF: He’s the general, yes.

GEN. JOHN ALLEN: Yes, the Quds Force commander.

We don’t coordinate with him. And we have seen those reports. We have no specific information that his presence is a presence that is leading the process. This is an Iraqi process. And the Iraqis have been very clear that taking back these population centers are going to be an Iraqi effort.

Now, again, we shouldn’t be surprised that there’s going to be an Iranian element from time to time that will be involved here. But this is an Iraqi-led and an Iraqi-executed evolution.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But is Iran playing a helpful role, in that it is part of the fight against ISIS?

GEN. JOHN ALLEN: Well, we have said from the very beginning that we welcome the constructive role of all participants in this battle.

And Iran perceives Da’esh, or ISIL, to be just as great a threat to its own security as Iraq does. And Prime Minister Abadi has been very clear that he desires a good relationship with the United States, a good relationship with all of his neighbors, and he seeks to balance that. And we should give him that opportunity.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Two other quick questions. You said a big part of your goal is to stop or reduce the flow of foreign fighters into the area. Have you had success in doing that?

GEN. JOHN ALLEN: At this point, the foreign fighters are still flowing into the battle space into Syria and Iraq.

The activities that we are undertaking in our partnership with our coalition partners is seeking to do everything from broader community outreach to potentially at-risk populations that could generate these foreign fighters, these recruits, to increasing our cooperation with the sharing of intelligence and tightening border controls.

So we’re taking concerted action across the coalition to staunch the flow of foreign fighters. It hasn’t occurred yet. More work needs to be done. But we’re in — I think, in a good position to start to build momentum towards that end.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Syria. Right now, the U.S. focus against ISIS is clearly mainly in Iraq.

In Syria, you yourself have said it’s more complicated. We know that the coalition is divided in Syria, divided among itself. Some of the coalition partners want the focus to be more on President Assad. The U.S. wants the focus to be on ISIS. Doesn’t this make progress in Syria almost impossible?

GEN. JOHN ALLEN: I think we’re all of one mind on dealing with Da’esh as an entity.

We don’t see Da’esh solely as a Syrian entity or as an Iraqi entity. We see Da’esh, or ISIL, as a regional threat. And so while we will take concerted action right now in Iraq because we have a strong partner in Iraq, we will have to build that partnership over time to deal with ISIL in Syria.

The solution to Syria will never be solved by military means. It has to require a political, diplomatic track. And we’re seeking that diplomatic track. But, at the end of that process, at the end of the process of transition, of the political transition in Syria, Bashar al-Assad will not be part of that.

And I think the coalition members are of one mind on that issue. It’s the modalities of how to get there that — where we would have additional discussion.

JUDY WOODRUFF: General John Allen, special presidential envoy for the  Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, we thank you very much for talking with us.

GEN. JOHN ALLEN: It’s good to see you again. And thank you for letting me be on tonight.

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Why homecoming can be particularly hard for female veterans

Wednesday, March 04 2015 11:25 PM


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GWEN IFILL: After serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, many veterans face an uphill battle finding work in civilian life. There’s been an increase in efforts to help ease their transition, but one segment of the veteran population is often overlooked.

Special correspondent Gayle Tzemach Lemmon reports.

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Katrina Holley finds satisfaction in bringing order to people’s lives.

KATRINA HOLLEY, Air Force Veteran: Ever since I was in the fourth grade, I loved cleaning the house. I can remember vacuuming before I would leave for school.

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Her attention to detail is just one of the skills she honed during 11 years in the Air Force. Holley’s small business in Hillsborough, North Carolina, cleaning homes calls on some of those skills, but for years she’s sought a civilian career that better values her military experience, a background that often catches her clients off guard.

KATRINA HOLLEY: Oh, my goodness. Well, I think so often people are surprised because they don’t think about female veterans. We are coming more into the light in 2014 and 2015 and after Iraq, of course. But I think that it is interesting, because it adds such diversity to your life. That experience is something that I value, value so highly.

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: The transition to a civilian career may be most problematic for female veterans like Holley, who face the greatest challenge in the job market.

Female veteran unemployment rates now are higher than civilian women’s, and a full 20 percent above their male veteran counterparts. More than 150,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet veteran services have not fully caught up with women’s needs. Even those vets who do seek help once they return to civilian life often find the support they need is not yet there.

A pilot program here in North Carolina backed by computer maker Lenovo and run by the nonprofit Dress for Success hopes to help change that. It aims to help female veterans look and feel their best in job interviews.

For Holley, Dress for Success is a chance to get a new uniform for a new mission.

KATRINA HOLLEY: Yes, I love it.

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Dress for Success launched this program by organizing a roundtable to understand these former service members’ needs.

WOMAN: The more information you share with us, the better we will be able to develop programs that fit your needs. And that’s really what this conversation is all about.

TENITA SOLANTO, Navy Veteran: The most difficult was just trying to translate what you did in the military to the English — you would work on all this big equipment, radar, satellites, and then you get out here and everyone is like, what is that? I don’t know.

LAURA PARKINSON, Air Force Veteran: I did have one person who hired me because when she found out I made bombs, she was like, that is cool.


LAURA PARKINSON: And that is how I got started working as a lobbyist and doing the job I am today. But it was because this one woman thought it was neat.

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Some of these veterans who have successfully made the shift to civilian life now help mentor other women. They know the road back can be rough.

GLENDA CLARE, Navy Veteran: They are not making enough money. They are not finding the jobs they need. Their skills are not translatable, or they don’t know how to translate them. And some of them are kind of shell-shocked.

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: At another gathering of female veterans near Washington, D.C., the bond of a sisterhood formed in service is just as strong. But these women have something other than years in uniform in common. All have been homeless after struggling to find work.

ANNA SALANIKA, Navy Veteran: That first two to three years after getting out was the worst. I was scared to tell people, yes, I just got out of the military, because I didn’t know if it was — that’s the reason why they weren’t hiring me, because they felt like I probably had, like, PTSD or something. It was just — it was so hard.

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Four years ago, Jas Boothe founded Final Salute, which offers housing and services to women vets. An Army veteran, Boothe lived out of her car after being diagnosed with cancer and losing her home in Hurricane Katrina.

She says America is failing its female veterans.

JAS BOOTHE, Army veteran: I raised my right hand and I took an oath to never leave a fallen comrade. This is why I am doing this. There’s no celebrity or anything involved in me doing this. But I am doing this in response to the lack of the American people being involved.

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Demand for rooms at Final Salute far outstrips what Boothe can provide. Female veterans are at least twice as likely to be homeless as women who never wore a uniform.

Anna Salanika is a Navy veteran who found herself trapped in a marriage filled with violence and abuse.

ANNA SALANIKA: And I tried to hold a lifestyle by myself, tried to handle my apartment, tried to take care of the kids, just tried to do everything independently,

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: She lived out of her car before finding a haven here. Salanika now works full-time and takes a full college course load as she fights to get back on track.

ANNA SALANIKA: Life is good, but if it wasn’t for Jas and Final Salute, I don’t know where I would be right now.

WOMAN: This is the living room we spent our nights in when I moved here, because my room is just back here. She spent a lot of days sitting on this sofa watching cartoons.

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Final Salute was Chiquita’s only home before heading to war.

So you deployed to serve America in Afghanistan from a house for homeless veterans?

WOMAN: I did.

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: So you were homeless the evening before you deployed?

WOMAN: Boots on the ground from here to training.

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: Boothe says the solution cannot just be left to the military.

JAS BOOTHE: It wasn’t the military’s job to teach me how to be a civilian. America is supposed to welcome me with open arms and help me incorporate back into civilian society. The Army did their part. The Navy did their part. The other services did their part. It’s America that is not doing their part.

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: In North Carolina, that push to help women veterans succeed in the civilian world continues.

For Holley, who is feeling ready to tackle the challenge of growing her business, a new suit is just part of a new start.

KATRINA HOLLEY: And now I just feel part of something bigger, part of something important, part of something that is motivating and supporting and nurturing. And those are important things to me.

GAYLE TZEMACH LEMMON: For PBS NewsHour, I’m Gayle Tzemach Lemmon in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

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Why the House is trying to get ahold of Hillary’s inbox

Wednesday, March 04 2015 11:20 PM


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GWEN IFILL: She’s not officially in the presidential race yet, but Hillary Clinton is under tough new scrutiny this week, after revelations that she relied exclusively on a private, not government, e-mail account, operated from a personal server, when she was — we when she served as secretary of state.

Today, a House oversight committee subpoenaed those e-mails for an ongoing Benghazi investigation.

The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler has been covering the story.

Laura, how unusual is it that anybody, any secretary of state would be using a personal e-mail account exclusively?

LAURA MECKLER, The Wall Street Journal: Well, it wasn’t that unusual, frankly, because there haven’t been that many secretaries of state since e-mail became sort of the normal way to communicate in business.

Secretary Colin Powell used a personal account, his staff confirmed this week. Secretary Rice, who followed him, evidently didn’t use e-mail, and then we had Secretary Clinton. Secretary Kerry uses a regular State Department e-mail address himself.

GWEN IFILL: But exclusively, without any other .gov address involved?

LAURA MECKLER: Yes. Secretary Kerry — well, Secretary Clinton, of course, just used — as you said, just used her personal e-mail address. Secretary Powell did in fact do that, just use a personal e-mail as well, yes.

GWEN IFILL: And to have your own personal server, they call it home brew, which is connected to her home in Chappaqua, actually, how unusual — I guess it’s unusual for most people, but how unusual is that?

I guess the question is, how much does this keep public business private?

LAURA MECKLER: Well, I think that’s the real question here. I think you put the finger on it.

And that is, the question is, why does she have her own — not only her own e-mail address, and not just get the one that is assigned you at work, like the rest of us do, but why does she take the additional step to set up her own network?

Now, Jeb Bush also used a personal e-mail address and he also had his own — owned his own servers as well. But in his case, he was regularly turning them over to the state, so there was a difference. In the case of Hillary Clinton, she didn’t turn any of these over for public examination until after she left office and received a request.

GWEN IFILL: Well, that’s one of the questions. She’s been under, with this Benghazi investigation, pretty constant investigation for a while. Why are we just hearing now about the existence of this private account?

LAURA MECKLER: Well, I don’t think people really knew that it was only the case.

It came out through the committee’s investigation as they requested those e-mails. Now, we should say that the State Department did request those e-mails themselves as part of what they say is a routine effort to comply with federal records-keeping requirements.

And so they asked for all of her e-mails, and then subsequently turned some of those to the House committee. So there is — some of this is sort of being done in the quasi-normal course of events, but it does raise questions on why it took so long after she left office to turn these over.

These of course is the public business, and all sorts of people have interest, not just the House, but in knowing, both for historical purposes and for everyday purposes, and sort of what she was doing and how she was conducting her job.

GWEN IFILL: And part of the defense from the State Department is that she was in the communications — when she was in communication with State Department employees, she assumed it would be archived on their accounts.

So I wonder, what were the rules exactly? Where is the bright line?

LAURA MECKLER: Well, really, that doesn’t really seem to cover it, because of course all of us e-mail people both at our organization and outside of our organization, so, yes, that’s true, but that’s only really a small part of the e-mails that she would send on any given day, presumably.

So, the rules that were in place when she was secretary are a little different than the rules that are in place now. What they said then was, you can essentially have a personal e-mail account, but they have to be preserved.

There weren’t specifications about when they should be preserved, how they should be preserved. They have gotten a lot more detailed about that now. But we’re told by other people who worked in the Obama administration that it was made clear right from the beginning that this wasn’t the right way to do things, they really should be using official government e-mail for official government work.

GWEN IFILL: Combined with last week’s revelations about the foreign donors who gave money to the Clinton Foundation, and now this, is she under new and more intense scrutiny, as people are waiting for her to announce that she’s running for president?

LAURA MECKLER: I think that she is.

I think both of these questions sort of feed into a longtime storyline about the Clintons, both Bill and Hillary, about maybe being a little bit too secretive, little bit playing against the rules a little bit too much, or maybe skirting the rules is a better way to put it, just right alongside it, barely, barely legal.

I don’t know if that’s technically true in either of these cases, but in both cases, it does raise questions. And it’s — we’re sort of in an interesting situation, where she’s not officially a candidate. In fact, she hasn’t even said for sure that she’s running, so she doesn’t have a campaign up there responding to this.

A lot of Democrats are frustrated. They feel like they don’t have the information to defend her. Some of them don’t really feel like defending some of these things. So, it’s tough.


Well, we will be watching as it continues to unfold. There’s always more.

Laura Meckler of The Wall Street Journal, thank you.


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Harry Reid wants Congress to delay Iran legislation

Wednesday, March 04 2015 11:17 PM

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (R) on Capitol Hill in Washington March 3, 2015. Netanyahu made an argument that many Israelis support in warning Congress on Tuesday about a potential nuclear deal with Iran, but critics asked whether it was worth the widening rift with the White House. Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (R) on Capitol Hill in Washington March 3, 2015. Netanyahu made an argument that many Israelis support in warning Congress on Tuesday about a potential nuclear deal with Iran, but critics asked whether it was worth the widening rift with the White House. Photo by Gary Cameron/Reuters

WASHINGTON — Key Senate Democrats led by Minority Leader Harry Reid announced their opposition Wednesday to fast action on a bill giving Congress final say on any nuclear deal with Iran.

The development appeared likely to upend GOP plans to move swiftly on the bill following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Tuesday speech to Congress in which he railed against the emerging agreement.

“I think we are better off on things relating to the Iran deal to wait until we see if there can be something negotiated,” Reid said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“And if there is something negotiated which allows a deal, then we should all jump in with all the energy we have. But until then I think it takes away from the fact that we might get a deal that’s a good deal.”

Reid also used the interview to throw cold water on the chances for Congress passing legislation to authorize military force against Islamic State fighters, and he discussed his eye injury, which he said is improving, though it remains uncertain if he will fully regain vision in his right eye.

Not long after Reid made his comments, the Iran bill’s chief Democratic sponsor, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell along with other Democrats announcing they would not vote in favor of the bill until after a March 24 deadline for a framework for a nuclear deal with Tehran.

The senators criticized McConnell, R-Ky., for moving to bring the bill directly to the floor without going through the committee process. They said that route “suggests that the goal of this maneuver is to score partisan political points, rather than pursue a substantive strategy to counter Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

The bill, which President Barack Obama has said he would veto, would allow a congressional vote on any nuclear deal the U.S. might sign with Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint meeting of Congress in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.

McConnell’s move set up a test vote for early next week on the legislation. But unless some Democrats join Republicans in backing the bill, it will not advance.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest noted the emerging Democratic opposition in the Senate. “It may be a situation where the president doesn’t even have to veto it because … some legitimate questions are being raised about whether or not it’s actually going to even pass the Senate,” Earnest said.

Reid, D-Nev., accused McConnell of “hijacking” the bill, written by Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the chairman, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

On the military force authorization for the Islamic State sought by the White House, Reid said there was so much disagreement on Capitol Hill that it looked possible Congress might not agree to a bill.

“It’s going to be really hard to get something done because some want to give (Obama) a lot more power, some want to give him less power and the sweet spot has not been reached on that legislation,” said Reid.

His expression of pessimism came as Corker announced the Foreign Relations panel would begin a series of hearings next week on the threat from the Islamic State group, with top administration officials to testify.

Reid also said he will not be prevented from seeking re-election by a severe injury to his eye. He was hurt on New Year’s Day while he was working out, when an exercise band broke.

Reid’s right eye is obscured by a tinted lens in his glasses. He said doctors don’t know if he will regain sight fully. He has had extensive surgery.

“This has been a tremendous inconvenience to me, but that’s about what it’s been,” Reid said. “I’ve had black eyes before. I’m getting better. I wish I would get better quicker.”

Reid, 75, will be a top GOP target as he seeks re-election to a sixth term next year.

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Arguments on Obamacare’s future provide few clues about Supreme Court decision

Wednesday, March 04 2015 10:57 PM

Michael Carvin, 2nd R, lead attorney for the petitioners and partner at Jones Day, speaks to members of the media as Attorney General of Oklahoma Scott Pruitt, R, listen outside the U.S. Supreme Court after oral arguments March 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Michael Carvin, 2nd R, lead attorney for the petitioners and partner at Jones Day, speaks to members of the media as Attorney General of Oklahoma Scott Pruitt, R, listen outside the U.S. Supreme Court after oral arguments March 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

For the second time in three years, the federal Affordable Care Act went before the Supreme Court on Wednesday. And before a packed courtroom, a divided group of justices mostly picked up right where they left off the last time.

Once again, commentators and experts were left to wonder where Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered swing votes in the case, stand. A decision is expected by the end of June.

Unlike in 2012, the current case, King v. Burwell, doesn’t challenge the constitutionality of the law’s centerpiece that requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty. In a 5-4 ruling, the court that year decided the law could continue, albeit with a twist: states could elect not to expand Medicaid. But the latest case does challenge another piece that’s pivotal to making the law work: Whether tax credits to help moderate-income Americans afford coverage can be provided in the three dozen states where the marketplace is being run by the federal government.

The court’s most conservative justices seemed to side with the challengers, who say that a sentence in the law stipulating that tax credits are available only on health insurance exchanges “established by the state” means just that. In other words, credits would not be available in the three dozen states that are using healthcare.gov, the federal exchange.

“If Congress did not mean ‘established by the state’ to mean what it normally means, why did they use that language?” asked Justice Samuel Alito.

Liberal justices, however, seemed much more comfortable with the Obama administration’s argument that the phrase encompasses both federal and state-run exchanges — and that reading the text to allow tax help only on state exchanges runs counter to the rest of the law.

If they were to read the law the way the challengers argue, said Justice Elena Kagan, “there will be no customers and no products” on the federal exchange, because no one would be eligible. “When you’re interpreting a statute generally, you try to make it make sense as a whole,” she said.

But almost nothing could be gleaned from the questioning and comments of Roberts and Kennedy.

Kennedy had hard questions for both sides. He suggested at one point that withholding tax credits from states that failed to set up their own insurance exchanges could pose “a serious constitutional problem,” because it could disrupt insurance markets in states that do not set up their own exchanges. Giving states such an unpalatable choice would be unfair coercion by the federal government, Kennedy said.

But Kennedy also questioned whether, in the absence of more specific language, Congress intended to let the Internal Revenue Service decide how to distribute billions of federal tax dollars. “That’s a lot of responsibility,” he said. The question specifically before the court is whether the IRS overstepped its authority in interpreting the law to allow tax credits in both state-run and the federal exchange.

Roberts, meanwhile, was uncharacteristically quiet during the nearly hour and a half argument. In 2012, it was the chief justice who surprised many observers by joining the liberals to find the law constitutional because Congress was using its taxing power.

Outside the court, standing in a light rain, those on both sides predicted victory.

“It looks good for the plaintiffs,” said Michael Cannon of the libertarian Cato Institute. Cannon, who helped push the court case – and travelled the country working to persuade states not to set up their own exchanges – said he was pleased by questions about the IRS’ interpretation. “It’s absurd to give the IRS that kind of authority,” he said.

But Elizabeth Wydra of the Constitutional Accountability Center, which supported the administration’s position, said she thought the arguments leaned her side’s way. “If the court follows the plain text of the law and prior precedents, then it’s clear tax credits are available to all Americans no matter what entity runs the exchange,” she said.

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