Wednesday, July 17, 2019
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Mayor’s corruption scandal further fuels Baltimore’s cynicism about politics

Baltimore is once again beset by allegations of corruption. The city’s mayor, Catherine Pugh, is accused of bestowing contracts and political favors on companies and organizations that purchased large orders of her book. The scandal, plus rising crime and a lack of economic opportunity, keep Baltimore residents cynical about government. William Brangham looks at the scandal that has become central in Baltimore, even as residents grapple with much bigger problems, like crime and a lack of economic opportunity. William Brangham: Pugh has since taken a leave of absence and resigned her board seat at the university medical system. The city has also gone through four police commissioners in the last 18 months, while the city's crime is surging. Could you just help us understand the nature of — the allegation against the mayor is that these medical centers were buying all of these copies of her book, self-published book, which is really money right into her pocket. And she was voting on legislation that favored the expansion and development of the Maryland Health Care System and other hospitals while she was on the board. She's been on the board for many years of the Maryland hospital system. William Brangham: The governor, the city council all seem to say the mayor has to go.

‘Political meltdown’ grips UK after Theresa May’s Brexit defeat

The United Kingdom continues to face political turmoil over Brexit, as Prime Minister Theresa May failed to find enough support in Parliament for her amended agreement with the European Union. Read the Full Transcript Judy Woodruff: And we continue our look at today's vote and where the U.K. goes from here with Sir Peter Westmacott. I think at the moment it means that it is less likely that we leave on the 29th of March, as scheduled, because of today's vote, which was resoundingly against Theresa May's package, but also because, tomorrow, parliamentarians are very likely to vote heavily against the idea of leaving with no deal. And a lot of the signs today — this evening — since the vote, are that the European Commission and the European member states are not giving this away for nothing, that they will have their own views as to how long the extension might be. Judy Woodruff: Peter Westmacott, why has this been so messy and so difficult? Peter Westmacott: The core of it, Judy, is that it was always going to be very, very difficult. But once you have scrambled them, unscrambling eggs is really difficult and a hard thing to do. Peter Westmacott: Well, you can point the finger of blame on lots of people. So — and you can probably think of a whole lot of other people who you can blame for it. I don't actually buy that, because it was the British people who asked to leave.

Venezuela’s political battle over foreign aid turns to violent confrontation

Meanwhile, Vice President Pence traveled to Colombia to meet with opposition leader Juan Guaido, promising that the U.S. would increase sanctions on Venezuela in an attempt to oust President Maduro, and calling for other countries to do the same. Special correspondent Nadja Drost reports. Nadja Drost: The town of Urena on the border with Colombia was the front line on Saturday in the battle between the two leaders for control of Venezuela. Nadja Drost: They're following a plan devised by the man they now consider their president, Juan Guaido, who is trying to peel away support of President Nicolas Maduro from the military to allow aid into the country. Protesters want to make their way onto the bridge that crosses the river into Colombia, but the national guard has been blockading all groups from access. No matter what happens, protesters here today say they will find a way to break the blockade of the national guard in order to allow humanitarian aid from Colombia to pass the border into Venezuela. Nadja Drost: As the national guard took to the streets and started firing at protesters with rubber bullets, many of them were rescued by mobile units of volunteer nurses and brought to the nearest safe house, before being transferred to this private health clinic opening its doors to anyone injured. While the opposition blames Maduro for not allowing shipments of food and health supplies donated by the U.S., seen by the Maduro's government as their number one enemy, the government says the effort to force in aid is a form of foreign intervention and threat to sovereignty. While the Venezuelan Red Cross has offered to administer whatever aid is in the country, it has refused to participate in an operation where alleged political motivations eclipse humanitarian ones. Patients either don't come because they know the hospital can't to treat them, or they cross into Colombia.

Parkland’s legacy: Heightened security, stricter dress codes and political advocacy

The NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs spoke to several of them about the tragedy’s impact on their daily experiences, how safe they feel and the role of politics. We wanted to take some time tonight to hear from students around the country. Memphis Cleveland: Obviously, Parkland was a really big turning point in this, but it has happened in a lot of different places that, you know, maybe we don't hear about every day. But because of Parkland, so many things have changed, even in my smaller school. Like, right after it happened, everyone was a lot more paranoid than they are now. The doors are locked all the time. James Abbot: I actually feel unsafe, a lot more unsafe after Parkland, just because a lot more kids realize they have the opportunity to shoot up a school. You know that it's not that hard to get a gun, and a lot of kids know that. And it really has done a lot in the face of lawmakers and people that can make change. Kim Leadholm: I feel hopeful that I will feel safer in the future.

How these 3 governors say we can overcome political polarization

On Monday, Judy Woodruff sat down with three governors trying to work across party lines: Larry Hogan, R-Md., Chris Sununu, R-N.H. and Tom Wolf, D-Pa. Read the Full Transcript Judy Woodruff: As Washington, D.C., feels more divided now than ever before, some leaders at the state level are aiming for something often unheard of in today's politics, common ground. But the governors also struck a hopeful note about the state of American politics. : You know, I know people are very frustrated. I'm frustrated, not just with Washington, but the divisive, angry politics. And I know a lot of people are ready to give up, and they say that the system is broken and that we can't do anything about it. Know what respect is, and practice it. And that should give people hope. The system really, really works. Judy Woodruff: Our conversation at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore also touched on the 20 presidential contests and speculation over Governor Hogan's own ambitions. And I'm flattered that people are talking about that as a possibility, but it's not something I'm focused on.

Florida politics play into disaster relief debate

Hurricane Michael, and the federal and state response to the disaster, could determine the outcome of Florida’s hotly contested Senate race as Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), one of the chamber’s most vulnerable Democrats, and Gov. “People remember this stuff.” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, who is the mayor of Tallahassee, has been interviewed the most on television in recent days, according to consultants in the state, which is likely to help his campaign for governor. “Now is the time for the federal government to come to everybody’s assistance." Congress traditionally tries to set partisan politics aside when responding to a national disaster on the scale of Hurricane Michael, which laid a path of destruction through Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, which are still recovering from the devastating impact of Hurricane Florence. Democrats say it would be a big boost for Nelson to secure a promise for an emergency funding from GOP leaders before Election Day, but as of now it doesn’t look like he’s going to get it. Republican leaders this week said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has enough money to pay for the initial relief efforts. Senate GOP leaders say they’ll wait on states hit by Hurricane Michael to assess the damage before moving forward. “They need to do an assessment first and then I’m sure we’ll address that as soon as they’re ready,” said Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), adding he does not know the timing of congressional action. “But FEMA, I assume, is resourced at least initially well enough to be able to respond.” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said work on a disaster relief package won’t begin immediately. A spokeswoman for Shelby said “the chairman will work closely with leadership and the southeastern state delegations regarding the best path forward to ensure we meet the needs of those affected.” North and South Carolina received an initial infusion of $1.68 billion in the Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill, which the Senate passed earlier this month, to pay for the first round of repairs related to Hurricane Florence, a GOP aide noted.

How will Trump’s undermining of May play out in British politics?

President Trump lobbed a volley of verbal grenades at British Prime Minister Theresa May in a tabloid interview before he arrived in the UK, saying May had botched Brexit and praising the former foreign secretary as a potential prime minister. News of the Russia indictments came as President Trump was in Britain. In an interview conducted with The Sun tabloid before he arrived, the president said may botched Britain’s leaving the European Union. After a meeting and lunch with May, both leaders took questions. I didn’t criticize the prime minister. You are changing a lot of things. While Theresa May may not have expected the president to support publicly her path that she’s chosen for taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union, the so-called soft Brexit, she definitely would have been looking for him to very publicly endorse the idea that, once the U.K. leaves the European Union, its biggest trade partner, it can definitely have a very solid trade relationship and trade deal, free trade deal, with the United States. You know, he undermined the prime minister, you could say, but will he really change the political landscape when it comes to the almost existential question of how the U.K. exits the European Union. And I think the answer to that is, maybe not so much, because, after all, if you think about it, a lot of the people that support a real hard break, the U.K. making a hard break with the European Union, members of the Conservative Party in this country, well, they’re actually, politically speaking, a bit further for the left than, say, the Republicans in the United States. Yes, it will embolden the marginal powers in the U.K., the people that aren’t in the houses of Parliament in the government, the seat of power behind me here, but it’s not entirely clear that he is going to be able to bring down the prime minister with that interview that he gave before he arrived here, or that he’s really going to be able to change the course of how this country exits the European Union.

Shields and Brooks on Trump’s Supreme Court politics, Ocasio-Cortez’s primary upset

Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including the retirement and legacy of Justice Anthony Kennedy, a shocking Democratic victory in Queens, and the continued fallout over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and family separation. Mark Shields: No, let me just say, God likes Donald Trump, because she has now given him a second appointee to the Supreme Court, something that Barack Obama, in eight years, got two. But the second thing is, he was a liberal on individual rights and sort of social issues. So, in that sense, the nominee will be to the right of him, and it will perhaps energize Republicans who were not energized about 2018. It will energize the left, too, but more — in the coming campaign, it puts pressure on the people in the middle. David Brooks: Yes. And I so think the balance of the evidence so far is that Democratic voters around the country are not upset with Democratic establishment the way Republican voters were with the Republican. Mark Shields: I don’t see it as part of a national trend. David Brooks: There was — also, it came at a time when the border issue is such a vital issue, which aroused a lot of people’s sense of, we have got to have our people in there. David Brooks: I don’t like any sentence that includes both Trump and czar at the same time.

Remembering Barbara Bush, political dynasty matriarch

We look back at the life of former first lady Barbara Bush. Barbara Bush: What’s the matter with Americans? President George W. Bush: Yes. There was a lot of psychobabble about my relationship with my parents during the presidency, and it’s natural, because people haven’t had a chance to ask many presidents, what it’s like to be president with your father being a former president and mother a former first lady? President George W. Bush: I did, yes. I look out in the pews, and there is the president’s parents, you know, President George Bush, Barbara Bush. Judy Woodruff: And you have told us that you went on to have a great friendship with them. Bonnie Steinroeder: It was a huge part of her life and of President Bush’s life as well. You could see it in the motivation that they felt to help other people, to be good people, to be kind, to be generous. And I do think that’s probably what helped her at the end of her life to have that sense of peace, because we had talked a long, long time ago about her beliefs that she knew she would be reunited with the people she loved who had gone before her.