House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. (right), and the committee's ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., depart after a briefing with FBI Director Jim Comey about Russian influence on the American presidential ele
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
March 20, 2017

Watch Live: U.S. House Committee Hearing On Russian Election Interference

The NPR Two-Way blog will provide live coverage of the House Intelligence Committee’s public hearing on the investigations into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. The live blog will include streaming video of the proceedings, with posts featuring highlights, context and analysis from NPR reporters and correspondents.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen in Nagato, western Japan, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016.
Toru Hanai/Associated Press
December 29, 2016

Obama Announces Sanctions Against Russia In Response To Cyberattacks

President Obama has imposed sanctions on Russian officials and intelligence services in retaliation for Russia's interference in the U.S. presidential election by hacking American political sites and email accounts. The State Department also has kicked out 35 Russian diplomats from its embassy in Washington and consulate in San Francisco, giving them and their families 72 hours to leave the U.S.

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CIA Headquarters
Brooks Kraft/Corbis via Getty Images
December 10, 2016

CIA Concludes Russian Interference Aimed To Elect Trump

Updated at 1:49 p.m. ET with confirmation from the U.S. official and comments from Sen. Ron Wyden

The CIA has concluded that Russia intervened in the 2016 election specifically to help Donald Trump win the presidency, a U.S. official has confirmed to NPR.

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Tammy Duckworth addresses students at the the Democrats booth at University of Illinois Quad Day Sunday
Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media
August 21, 2016

Duckworth Backs Protection For Civilians In Syria

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth says the country should lead an international coalition condemning the violence in Syria. She says if the country turns its back on victims like the 5-year old rescued from a partially destroyed apartment building in Aleppo, "we could potentially create a dialogue out there that America does not care about the victims of violence."

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Republican Congressman Rodney Davis and Democratic challenger Judge Ann Callis.
October 14, 2014

13th District Candidates: On The Issues

Congressman Rodney Davis (R) and Judge Ann Callis (D) are fighting to represent Illinois' 13th District in the U.S. House. Illinois Public Media spoke with both candidates for an in-depth look at where they land on issues, and how they'd legislate.

Congressman Rodney Davis

Taylorville Republican Congressman Rodney Davis says he believes Democrats and Republicans are getting along better than many Americans believe.  In seeking his second term, Davis says he’s made efforts to reach across the aisle on a number of issues, and points to compromises he made on the 2014 Farm Bill. He spoke with Illinois Public Media’s Jeff Bossert:

 

(to skip to a specific topic, click on the time markers in the audio)

Bridging the political divide between Democrats and Republicans

Congressman Davis says he believes that Americans think Congress is much more polarized, and there’s a lot more bipartisanship than you see in the 24-hour news cycle.  Davis said he compromised on the 2014 Farm Bill, and wished he could have saved more money on the mandatory spending side.  The Republican says he breaks ranks with his party on a regular basis, most recently on a measure to allow for state’s rights to determine its own medical marijuana legislation. 

Jobs/economy

Davis believes Congress should close loopholes in the corporate tax code, and make sure the overall tax brackets for individuals are lower, and more competitive with nations like Canada.   He also believes President Obama should sign the Keystone XL Pipeline that has been ‘studied to death’ by his administration, providing a safer alternative for transporting oil

Health Care

Rep. Davis says he’s concerned that President Obama has delayed provisions of the Affordable Care Act, believing it won’t pay for itself as a result.  But he says the country will see what’s working and what’s not with the next enrollment period.  Davis also hopes the Senate acts on a series of ‘common sense bipartisan changes’ to the law. 

Social Security

Davis says there many options for changing Social Security to make sure it remains solvent, but he says the necessary debate didn’t happen during his first term in Congress.

Agriculture

Davis says the Farm Bill passed in 2014 gives farmers options - which includes risk ‘common sense’ management tools to go with their crop insurance.   The Congressman says he’s never seen the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade measure that, once approved, means countries will be able to join without Congressional approval.

Higher Education funding

Rep. Davis says the debate of paying for a college education should be less about the debt students have upon graduation, and more about decreasing the amount that students have to pay for tuition.   Davis says he has a clear record of voting to increase Pell Grants, and has introduced a measure that allows employers to pay student debt for new workers.  

Immigration

Davis says the country needs a conversation on fixing the broken visa system, and make sure those who are already in line for naturalization process aren’t passed by.   He hopes the Senate would take up a measure that allows for simple enforcement measures at U.S. borders.

War Against Islamic State, also known as ISIS

Davis supported airstrikes, but not advocating for the realistic chance of sending in ground troops.   The Congressman says he won’t entertain hypothetical questions as to when that might happen.   He calls this a ‘war against humanity’, noting most of those who have been killed are fellow Muslims, because ISIS aims to convert or kill. 

Russia

Davis says the US needs to be energy independent, and ships its excess resources, like natural gas, to European allies.  Davis says Russian President Vladimir Putin has built a foreign policy on being the ‘natural gas sugar daddy’ to many Western and Eastern European countries that are now relying on green energy.   Davis says Americans won the Cold War by making sure that the U.S. had a better economy than Russia, and needs to keep the sanctions against the country in place.   

Judge Ann Callis

Ann Callis of Edwardsville, is the Democratic nominee for the U-S House in Illinois' 13th Congressional District. From 1995 until 2013, she served as a judge in Illinois’ Third Judicial Circuit, covering Madison and Bond Counties, as an associate judge at the beginning, and as chief judge in later years. Callis talks with Illinois Public Media's Jim Meadows.

(to skip to a specific topic, click on the time markers in the audio)

Breaking Through Congressional Gridlock

Callis says she has “a history of being able to reach across the aisle to get things done”, and that she showed it as a judge, when she worked with people from both parties to set up veterans’ court and mandatory foreclosure remediation programs in the Third Judicial Circuit.  She says her effective communications skills will help her in making connections with colleagues in Congress, no matter their party

Job Creation

Callis says she would push for investment in the nation’s infrastructure to create jobs and strengthen communities for future development. She says high school vocational education could be bolstered by apprenticeship programs with local businesses. Instead of relying on the Keystone XL Pipeline for job creation, Callis supports an “all of the above” approach to energy development, including wind, solar and biofuels.

Social Security

Callis says she hear voters in the 13th District who oppose privatization of Social Security. She proposes a bipartisan commission to explore ways to protect and strengthen the program, including scrapping the payroll tax cap, and saving money by cutting waste, fraud and abuse.

Affordable Care Act

Callis says the Affordable Care Act is expanding access to healthcare, and she’s heard from people who have been helped by the law, including its provision allowing adult children to stay on their parent’s healthcare until age 26. But she wants to work on controlling costs. She says the most successful parts of the law will encourage more cooperation in Congress to fix the rest of it.

Student Loan Debt

Callis supports the Durbin-Warren Student Loan Bill of Rights, as well as legislation to allow borrowers to refinance their student loans to current interest rates after they graduate.

Minimum Wage

Callis supports raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. She rejects arguments that raising the minimum wage will lead to job elimination, citing the example of Washington State, which saw job growth after raising its minimum wage.

Agriculture

Callis says the latest farm bill, which was passed two years after the previous one expired, shows “the finger-pointing and brinkmanship” that besets Congress.  She says farmers have not been talking to her about the “Ditch the Rule” legislation that the House passed in opposition to EPA rules for smaller waterways, but says she would consider it after hearing the facts and listening to her constituents.

Immigration Reform

Callis says “it’s time we passed comprehensive immigration reform”, and supports the immigration reform measure that passed the Senate. She says she would fight for it in the House, but “I wouldn’t be a finger-pointer, I would try to be a reconciler”.

The Fight Against ISIS

Callis says she thinks the Obama administration acted wisely in ordering air strikes against ISIS. She advocates for a strong coalition with other nations, and that any further action, such as sending ground troops, needs multilateral support. Callis’ son is an Army Ranger stationed who served in Kuwait during the Iraq war, and she’s careful to separate her personal feelings from her decisions on what’s best for the country.

Russian and Ukraine

Callis says the U-S should join with other nations, such as members of NATO, to “ratchet up the sanctions” against Russia, if that country continues to threaten Ukraine.

Same-Sex Marriage

Callis supports same-sex marriage, and says the recent federal rulings on state bans on same-sex marriage --- and the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear their appeals --- are part of a judicial process that “seems to be moving us forward”. She says that process should be respected, whatever the ultimate outcome.


John Shimkus, during an interview with WILL in 2013.
(Jeff Bossert/WILL)
October 09, 2014

Shimkus: Time To Support Allied Action In Russia

Congressman John Shimkus says the US and Russia are in another Cold War.  The Republican said he’s prepared to vote on military action to support Ukraine against Russian-backed separatists.

Shimkus says U.S.-imposed sanctions are having a significant impact, but he believes Russian leaders don’t care. 

 “The President’s done well in talking about Article 5 protection under the NATO treaty for those who are NATO allies, and I would seriously consider moving allied troops into the countries of Georgia and Ukraine based on their request," he said.

Ukraine is a NATO partner, but not a member of the alliance. Hundreds of people have died in fighting in Ukraine since a cease-fire was signed last month. That’s according to the United Nations.

Shimkus is a delegate to the NATO parliamentary assembly.

The Collinsville Republican faces Mahomet Democrat Eric Thorsland in his bid for re-election next month.


May 22, 2014

Russia And China Block Move To Investigate War Crimes In Syria

A U.N. Security Council resolution that calls for the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Syria has failed, after Russia and China voted against the measure.

The resolution seeking accountability for wartime atrocities was introduced by France and had the backing of the U.S.

For our Newscast unit, NPR's Michele Kelemen reports:

"Although more than 60 countries supported the resolution, Russia dismissed the vote as a publicity stunt , once again shielding Syrian leader Bashar al Assad's regime.

"U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson says for three years now, the council has been unable to end this 'extraordinarily brutal war.'

" 'If members of the Council continue to be unable to agree on a measure that could provide some accountability for the ongoing crimes, the credibility of this body and of the entire organization will continue to suffer,' Eliasson says.

"More than 160,000 people have been killed in Syria. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power says that because of the Russian veto the Syrian people will continue to see crime, not punishment."


A worker turns a valve at an underground gas storage facility near Striy on Wednesday. Russia has said state-controlled exporter Gazprom will supply China with natural gas via a Siberian pipeline beginning in 2018.
(Gleb Garanich/Reuters/Landov)
May 21, 2014

Russia, China Secure Nearly Half-Trillion-Dollar Gas Deal

In an agreement reminiscent of the early days of the Cold War, Russia has agreed to supply China with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of natural gas via a pipeline from Siberia pipeline to begin pumping in four years.

NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from Shanghai that in 2018, Russia will begin sending 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas to China each year through the pipeline. Over the life of the 30-year contract, 1 trillion cubic meters would be delivered.

Frank says that Alexey Miller, the chief executive of the Russian company, Gazprom, has said the exact price was a commercial secret, but that the deal is estimated at $400 billion total. Gazprom shares rose 2 percent on the news.

"This is the biggest contract in the history of the gas sector of the former USSR," said Russian President Vladimir Putin, after the agreement was signed in Shanghai between Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC).

"Our Chinese friends are difficult, hard negotiators," he said.

"Both sides were in the end pleased by the compromise reached on price and other terms," Putin said.

The move comes as Russia has been increasingly isolated by Europe and the United States as a result of its annexation of Crimea and continuing unrest in eastern Ukraine. China, too, has been at odds with Washington over confrontations with its maritime neighbors in the South China Sea.

But Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that there was no link between the crisis in Ukraine and the gas deal.

"We don't see any relationship whatsoever to an agreement with respect to gas and energy supplies between Russia and China that they've been working on for 10 years, for 10 years," Kerry told a news conference during a visit to Mexico City.

"This isn't new. This isn't a sudden response to what's been going on," he added.

Frank says that the deal, cemented during Putin's visit to Shanghai this week for an Asian security summit, "is most important to Russia, as its economy slows and it looks for new gas markets."

Reuters says:

"China had the upper hand as talks entered the home stretch, aware of Putin's face-off with the West.

"But both sides could take positives from a deal that will directly link Russia's huge gas fields to Asia's booming market for the first time - via thousands of miles of new pipeline across Siberia that form part of the package."

The BBC notes that "Turkmenistan is now China's largest foreign gas supplier, and last year [Beijing] started importing piped natural gas from Myanmar."


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