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Analysis, background reports and updates from the PBS NewsHour putting today's news in context.

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    Andy Haner and daughter Emory visit a third grade classroom at Olympic Hills Elementary School outside of Seattle, Washington. Photo By Mike Fritz/PBS NewsHour.

    SEATTLE -- It's not unusual to see babies while walking around Olympic Hills Elementary School in suburban Seattle. Each month, several infants visit the campus as part of Roots of Empathy, a program designed to foster empathy in children and decrease aggressive behavior. But there are not a lot of dads who regularly accompany their little ones to the classroom. Andy Haner is an exception.

    Once a month since school began last year, Haner and his wife Layla bring eight-month-old Emory to see Autumn Doss's third graders. Emory is the "teacher" and students learn about and discuss feelings and emotions as they watch her grow over the course of the school year. The parents share the new things that have happened since the students last saw Emory, guided through particular themes by Roots of Empathy instructor Rene Hawkes.

    Watch some of the milestones eight-month old Emory Haner has reached as she visits a third grade class.

    For many reasons it's primarily the mothers who visit the classrooms for Roots of Empathy. But Haner felt there was something in particular he could bring to the lessons. He talks about his feelings or emotions when there's a natural place to do it, because, in his experience, not a lot of men do that.

    Andy Haner talks about why he visits third graders with his wife and daughter.

    Doss, whose classroom the Haners visit each month, told PBS NewsHour that many of her young male students in particular could really use a positive male role model.

    "To watch him play with the baby and smile at baby Emory and hold her and be concerned for her is another great way that he's modeling how to be a dad for all these young students who eventually will be dads," Doss said. "Maybe they've never seen that before and this the first time they get so hopefully they'll remember this and be awesome dads later."

    American Graduate is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities across America find solutions to the dropout crisis.

    Related Content:

    Anti-Bullying Lessons With the BardStudent Reporting Labs Share Bullying Stories, SolutionsBringing Babies to the Classroom to Teach Empathy, Prevent Bullying

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    Watch Video Watch an excerpt of PBS NewsHour's interview with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. He responds to Rachel McNeill, a Iraq War veteran affected by the backlog. Expect a full broadcast story and extended interviews later this week.

    Nearly 250,000 veterans wait more than a year for their medical claims to wind through the Veterans Administration before receiving their earned benefits, according to an investigation conducted by the Center for Investigative Reporting. The report, based on the VA's own internal numbers, also shows that almost 1 million veterans are currently waiting for their benefit claims to be processed and that the wait time has grown 2,000 percent in the past four years. For more statistics, see this infographic.

    Read more from Center for Investigative Reporting about the benefits backlog.

    The VA says it has a plan and that things will improve. The agency says it aims to have all claims processed within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy in 2015.

    The video above is an excerpt of an interview for a story about the benefits backlog at the VA. We will also publish longer interviews we conducted with the veterans and Secretary Shinseki in the coming days, in addition to the full broadcast report, which will air on PBS NewsHour.

    Joshua Barajas and Charles Anderson shot this video. Barajas edited it. You can subscribe to Hari on Facebook, Google Plus and on Twitter @Hari.

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    Supreme Court demonstration; photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

    Same-sex marriage supporters rally Wednesday outside the Supreme Court. Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call.

    The Morning Line

    For supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage, the arguments are over, and now the waiting begins.

    In the meantime, there is much speculation about how the Supreme Court will rule on the cases heard Tuesday and Wednesday, based on the various lines of questioning from the justices.

    Wednesday's arguments dealt with the Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA, a 1996 law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman and prevents same-sex couples from receiving federal marriage-related benefits.

    As with Tuesday's case involving Proposition 8, California's voter referendum-approved ban on same-sex marriage, there also appeared to be a consensus among court-watchers on Wednesday's arguments about DOMA.

    In the case of DOMA, the analyses suggest that five justices are prepared to strike down the law.

    Justice Anthony Kennedy, widely seen as the swing vote on the court, questioned whether the federal government might have overstepped with DOMA, regulating an area traditionally reserved for the states. Doing so, Kennedy said, poses a "real risk of running in conflict with what has always been thought to be the essence of the state police power, which is to regulate marriage, divorce, custody."

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, meanwhile, suggested that DOMA effectively created a two-tiered system of marriage: "the full marriage, and then this sort of skim milk marriage."

    On Tuesday, most court observers agreed that the justices would not hand down a wide-ranging ruling to impose nationwide recognition of same-sex marriage.

    But if recent history is any example (see: last year's decision on the Affordable Care Act), then the safe bet is waiting for June, when the official word will likely come from the court.

    Kwame Holman started off our coverage on Wednesday's broadcast with a report from outside the court, which was less crowded than for Tuesday's hearing on Proposition 8. Those who gathered Wednesday were mostly supporters of same-sex marriage.

    The NewsHour spoke with Nicole Connolly, a New York teacher married to a woman who is a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. "I am here for housing allowance. I am here for medical. I am here for death benefits. I'm here for next of kin qualifications, a plethora of reasons," said Connolly.

    Ray Suarez and Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal then examined some of the key exchanges inside the court.

    Coyle noted that some of the justices raised questions about President Barack Obama's decision not to defend DOMA but to still enforce the law. "And there was some hostility," Coyle said. "Chief Justice Roberts said, well, if the president decided that this law was unconstitutional, and yet is going to enforce it until the Supreme Court says otherwise, why didn't the president have the courage of his convictions, if he believes the law is unconstitutional, and not enforce it?"

    Suarez and Coyle also looked at an exchange between Justice Elena Kagan and Paul Clement, the lawyer arguing in support of DOMA on behalf of a group of House Republican lawmakers.

    RAY SUAREZ: Did it sound like Paul Clement had many supporters elsewhere on the bench for his reading of why this law exists in the first place?

    MARCIA COYLE: That's a hard read.

    I think that at least four justices, or possibly five, have a problem with his arguments. Justice Kagan was getting at the second major issue in this case, and that's whether the law discriminates under the Equal Protection Clause guarantee of the Fifth Amendment.

    She wasn't satisfied with his answer. In fact, she followed up by reading specifically from the House report on DOMA where the legislators said that they were expressing their moral disapproval of homosexuality. So she was making a point that it appeared there was another reason.

    And Mr. Clement's response is that maybe some were motivated that way, but -- and if the court believes that the whole statute was based on that, then it should strike it down. But he claims there are -- that was -- it's really not sufficient, because there are many other interests that justify DOMA.

    Watch Video

    Judy Woodruff spoke with Mary Bonauto, special counsel for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and Ken Klukowski, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council.

    Bonauto said equal protection concerns would ultimately hold more weight when it came to deciding DOMA.

    "We have never had a situation where the Congress has wiped out a whole class of marriages for purposes of every federal law and program, and that's what DOMA is," Bonauto said. "In the context of any particular program, yes, there's play in the joints, but there's never been a law that just said, oh, these people who were actually married by a state are not married for any federal purpose."

    Klukowski contended that DOMA represents a legitimate exercise of Congress' authority.

    "Who can get married is a state issue," he said. "But what federal benefits, mainly, usually entitlements, what federal benefits go to which sort of unions, that's a legitimate exercise of federal power, so long as it's one of Congress' powers in Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution."

    Watch the discussion here or below:

    Watch Video

    If you missed our coverage from Tuesday's arguments and the debate over Proposition 8, you can find it all by going to the NewsHour's Supreme Court page.

    Also, a quick programming note for our readers: The Morning Line will be off Friday and next week, returning Monday, April 8.

    KEEPING UP THE FIGHT

    Mr. Obama will hold an event Thursday with law enforcement officials and mothers in support of gun control to mark 100 days since the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

    Meanwhile, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has released the first television ad featuring families of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims. The spot presses Connecticut's legislature to adopt an expanded ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

    While Mr. Obama pressures Congress to adopt gun control legislation when it returns from recess, Roll Call reports that "a little-noticed Senate vote" in the wee hours of Saturday's vote-a-rama on the non-binding budget resolution may not bode well for Mr. Obama's hopes of passing tougher gun legislation. An amendment from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, requiring two-thirds approval of any gun legislation didn't garner enough votes to pass, but six Democrats from gun-friendly states backed it, which should tell Mr. Obama something about the Senate's support for gun rights.

    If Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., can't round up the 60 votes needed to pass Democrats' legislation, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, may be ready with what one GOP aide called "a break-the-glass kit." Grassley, the only Republican on the Judiciary Committee to support tougher penalties for straw purchases, is drafting an alternative gun control bill, presumably without the expanded background checks that he has opposed and which are central to the Democrats' bill.

    LINE ITEMS

    Ashley Judd has decided not to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in 2014.

    The Boston Globe reports Democratic Reps. Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch tangled over health care in the first televised debate between the two candidates competing for the party nomination in the Massachusetts special election race for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by John Kerry.

    Politico's Manu Raju reports that Mr Obama will continue his outreach to Senate Republicans next month, attending a dinner hosted by Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia.

    North Carolina's Kay Hagan became the latest Democratic senator to announce support for same-sex marriage."We should not tell people who they can love or who they can marry," Hagan told the Raleigh News & Observer.

    FreedomWorks is out with a new online ad attacking "Obamacare" for cuts to Medicare Advantage. In the ad, an elderly man says, "Congress, keeps your hands off my Medicare."

    Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters while touring the U.S.-Mexico border that the bipartisan Senate group is "90 percent" done with its draft of legislation to revamp the country's immigration law.

    The Washington Post has an update on the effects of the sequester on federal agencies.

    Rick Santorum ventured to South Carolina Lowcountry on Wednesday to bolster the social conservative credentials of congressional candidate Curtis Bostic ahead of his special election runoff against Mark Sanford.

    Montana Sen. Max Baucus' split from his fellow Democrats on tax policy and the budget isn't all that shocking given that he's up for re-election in a state Mr. Obama lost by 13 percentage points. Bloomberg's Richard Rubin dives into the interests of the senate finance chair.

    Mother Jones details the "Clinton Cash Freeze" keeping top donors from opening their checkbooks to promising Democratic governors until Hillary Clinton decides about a presidential run in 2016.

    Five of the Supreme Court justices have officiated at marriages.

    Here's a pretty neat interactive on drone strikes since 2004.

    New York City Council speaker and 2013 mayoral candidate Christine Quinn seems to have made some enemies. The New York Times has the tale of political revenge.

    Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is expected to announce Thursday that he won't seek a sixth term.

    Michigan's right-to-work legislation takes effect Thursday, but what that means for labor unions and the state's economy will take a little longer to emerge.

    Today's tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA: While the income gap between rich and poor has widened over the past half century, it's actually the income gap between the rich and the middle class that has widened the most.

    NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

    Ray Suarez visited a classroom in New York where teachers use rap music to convey science concepts. Ray also talked to rap legend and science nerd GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan. Watch a preview of his album "Dark Matter" and submit your own science rap in our contest.

    In our continuing coverage of inequality in the U.S., Jeffrey Brown explored the question: Why are some top achievers missing out on a shot to go to the best universities?

    A dispute between an online company that sends spam and one trying to mitigate spam has led to one of the largest reported cyber attacks in history, creating widespread congestion for millions of users on sites like Netflix. Hari Sreenivasan looked at that story with Nicole Perlroth of The New York Times.

    Co-host of NPR's "On the Media" Bob Garfield writes about the death of dishonest advertising on our Making Sen$e page.

    Nearly a quarter million veterans wait more than a year for their medical claims, according to a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting. Ahead of our on-air report, watch an excerpt from our interview with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. He responds to a veteran affected by the backlog.

    In the latest from the American Graduate series, Mike Fritz and April Brown report on the effects of teaching empathy in the classroom.

    TOP TWEETS

    After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family.

    — ashley judd (@AshleyJudd) March 27, 2013

    McConnell is probably sad about the news. Running against Hollywood is one of the best playbooks in Republican politics.

    — Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) March 27, 2013

    Who is more disappointed by @ashleyjudd decision not to run for Senate: Mitch McConnell or the press?

    — Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) March 27, 2013

    Just witnessed a woman successfully climb an 18-ft bollard fence a few yards from us in #Nogalestwitter.com/SenJohnMcCain/...

    — John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) March 27, 2013

    For someone who came of age long before memes, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sure knows how to create one. #SkimMilkMarriage

    — Ari Shapiro (@arishapiro) March 27, 2013

    After much thought & prayer, I have come to my own personal conclusion that we shouldn't tell people who they can love or who they can marry

    — Senator Kay Hagan (@SenatorHagan) March 27, 2013

    Quick, is the fellow on the right @larrysabato or @terrybranstad ? lockerz.com/s/288290656

    — jmartpolitico (@jmartpolitico) March 27, 2013

    I am not sure "Just say Nos" is the most effective campaign slogan. #burbank#vacationinstagram.com/p/XXZfyIIkwI/

    — Christina Bellantoni (@cbellantoni) March 27, 2013

    Meena Ganesan and Christina Bellantoni contributed to this report.

    For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

    Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

    Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

    Follow the politics team on Twitter:

    Follow @cbellantoni

    Follow @burlijiFollow @kpolantzFollow @elizsummersFollow @indiefilmfanFollow @tiffanymullonFollow @dePeystahFollow @meenaganesan

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  • 03/28/13--06:52: The Daily Frame
  • Click to enlarge.

    The Duke of Lancaster, a decommissioned cruise liner in Mostyn, Wales, has become a canvas for several artists. The ship's owners recently granted permission to street artist collective Dudug to transform it into an open air art gallery, which they hope will become a tourist attraction. Photo by Andrew Yates//AFP/Getty Images.


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  • 03/28/13--07:06: Around the Nation
  • Here are four arts and culture videos from public broadcasting partners around the nation.

    On Friday, American Masters explores the life and career of award-winning novelist Philip Roth. In this web extra/preview, "the greatest living American writer" discusses the future of reading:

    Watch Philip Roth: Future of Reading on PBS. See more from American Masters.

    In the latest "Blank on Blank" from PBS Digital Studios: "Larry King on Getting Seduced":

    MN Original profiles sculptor Kim Matthews, whose postminimalist work explores "the development of consciousness."

    Oregon Art Beat profiles graphic artist Emek, whose mostly hand-drawn work is reminiscent of the classic rock art of the 1960s and is highly sought after by musicians:

    Watch Poster Artist Emek on PBS. See more from KOPB.


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    By Robert Lawrence

    In response to complaints from a world-class California surfboard maker that protective tariffs from abroad are hurting his business and America, Harvard economist Robert Lawrence mounts a spirited defense of freer trade.

    A Note from Paul Solman: Renowned Harvard economist Robert Lawrence, a former member of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors, has been our go-to guy on trade for years now. He once took me around our Brookline, Mass., neighborhood to explain why Americans should get over their "globaphobia" about foreign trade.

    A few years later, he and I visited steel and textile mills in the South to explore two industries and a region facing stiff competition from abroad.

    In 2007, he helped us assemble a group of his foreign executive students at the Kennedy School of Government to explore the pros and cons of trade.

    And last year, he parried veteran anti-free trade journalists Donald Barlett and James Steele when I interviewed them about their book, "The Betrayal of the American Dream."

    A few weeks ago, we traveled to Dana Point, Calif., (without Robert) to report on a surfboard maker trying to make waves with the charge that while boards come into America duty free, protectionist barriers across the globe prevent him from exporting. All he wanted, said the surfboard maker, was the proverbial "level playing field."

    In our story, Robert Lawrence, as he so often has, played the role of reality check. Now, he elaborates on the few remarks we had time to include in last week's program, and on research from his new book, "Rising Tide: Is Growth in Emerging Economies Good for the United States?"

    Robert Lawrence: As one of the economists in Paul Solman's story last week on surfboard trade barriers, I want to set the record straight on protectionist tariffs - in the tiny surfboard industry and more generally.

    In the NewsHour piece, surfboard manufacturer Steve Boehne complains that he faces protective tariffs for his products when he sells them abroad, while bemoaning the fact that the United States allows foreigners to sell surfboards in the U.S. duty-free. The piece gives viewers the idea that when it comes to trade policy, the U.S. is guilty of unilateral disarmament: We've opened our markets, chumps that we are, but others continue to protect theirs.

    Not only does this view need to be seriously qualified, but the response to this situation advocated by the surfboard maker -- that we should raise our tariffs -- is exactly wrong. Indeed, raising U.S. tariffs would not only violate our international obligations under the trade rules, but by setting off a trade war, could also reverse the powerful trend towards lower tariffs underway in our trading partners ever since World War II. The fact that our tariff levels are lower than those of our trading partners is a good reason for us to sign more trade agreements, rather than to avoid them.

    It is fair to say that the U.S. is an open market -- although nowhere near as open as economies such Hong Kong and Singapore that have no tariffs at all! According to the World Economic Forum's Global Enabling Trade Report, for example, the U.S. market was ranked the 31st most open out of 132 Countries in 2012 -- more open than most but by no means all.

    The important point is that having an open market is good for us, because it helps to raise our living standards. For years, even centuries, the argument has raged: is freer trade good for a country, or is it bad? Do the long-term gains to consumers, that is, more than offset the short-term losses to producers imperiled by cheaper competition?

    Ever since Adam Smith, economists have been of pretty much one mind: the benefits of trade outweigh the costs. To be sure, the losers need to be compensated: even Smith advocated trade adjustment assistance for workers who lose their jobs. But what's better, he asked: Countries warring with one another, as they so regularly had throughout recorded time, or trading with one another? Which is more likely to produce global prosperity: countries protecting their producers from foreign competition or a world in which everyone can compete with everyone else?

    To be sure, real wages in the U.S. have been stagnant in recent years and that has been a key argument against lower tariffs. It's why so many people, including the surfboard makers in the NewsHour story, have a reflex response to "free trade." But even those workers agreed that they benefit from the cheaper costs that global competition brings.

    My contention is that real wages have declined in America not because of our trade with other economies, but in spite of it. And I think I can prove it. South African economist Lawrence Edwards and I have just published a book with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, "Rising Tide: Is Growth in Emerging Economies Good for the United States?" We show that imports not only provide us with cheaper and more varied products but they also spur our firms to be more productive. Indeed, we estimate that on average our imports of manufactured goods alone raise U.S. living standards by about $1000 per person -- $1000 we would otherwise have to spend on more expensive products. Imports from China and from other emerging economies each account for about a quarter of the gains.

    Has the U.S. really disarmed unilaterally? Absolutely not. We've consistently made reductions in our tariffs at home conditional on reciprocation from our developed trading partners. Since the 1940s, when tariffs on industrial products averaged over 40 percent worldwide, they've been steadily coming down. While sensitive to how you measure them, it's fair to say that U.S. non-agricultural tariffs are now basically in line with those of other developed countries. According to the World Trade Organization, for example, in 2012, U.S. average applied tariff rates for non-agricultural goods were 3.3 percent versus an average of 3.9 percent for the European Union and 2.6 percent for Japan.

    Think what this means. With an average tariff of 40 percent, if you buy a foreign car for $15,000, say, it would actually cost you $21,000; a $10 string of Christmas tree lights would cost $14. At a 3.3 percent tariff, they would cost about $15,500 and $10.33 respectively.

    Admittedly it is fair to say, as brought out in the surfboard story, that on average U.S. exporters face higher tariffs abroad than the U.S. imposes at home. According to the World Economic Forum Report, in 2012 for example, the average tariff faced by U.S. exporters was 6.1 percent. But this is far lower than the 40 percent that prevailed in the 1940s and it is for an understandable reason. Tariffs are still higher in emerging markets because of what is known as the "infant industry" argument: a country can protect its domestic industries until they become sufficiently competitive to survive without protective tariffs. The United States protected our goods when we started out as a country.

    But what needs to be borne in mind is the pace at which foreign economies have been bringing down their tariffs. Consider the chart below, showing the World Bank's estimate of the average tariff applied on all products in the world.

    Source: tradingeconomics.com The Tariff rate; applied; simple mean; all products (%) in World was last reported at 6.18 in 2010, according to a World Bank report published in 2012. Simple mean applied tariff is the unweighted average of effectively applied rates for all products subject to tariffs calculated for all traded goods.

    What is so striking is the way in which worldwide tariffs have been coming down, especially since the mid 1990s. And this has been particularly true in large emerging economies such as India and China.

    To be sure, as might be expected given their lower levels of development, these countries currently still have substantially higher tariffs than the U.S. In 2012, according to the WTO, tariffs were 9.6 percent and 12.6 percent in China and India respectively. But consider that just 20 years ago, China's average rate was 37 percent; as recently as 1997, India's average rate was 29 percent. The strength of the trends towards opening in these economies is clear.

    The bottom line is straightforward and indisputable: to use the standard cliché of the trade debate, the playing field of international competition is becoming more level. All around the world, despite the impasse in the Doha Round negotiations at the World Trade Organization, both unilaterally and in regional agreements, countries are reducing their tariffs. Indeed, it was particularly noteworthy that average world tariffs remained unchanged during the global financial crisis - a remarkable development considering the way tariffs were hiked during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Given these global trends, it would surely be wrong for the United States to now reverse course and lead the world economy in the direction of raising barriers just as others are now reducing their tariffs closer to our levels.

    And in fact, that's just what President Obama is trying to do with his bi-lateral trade initiatives: work around the complications of global treaties and lower tariffs with our trading partners, one by one. Eventually, that should someday include eliminating the customs duties on surfboards made in the U.S.A.

    This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown -- NewsHour's blog of news and insight. Follow @PaulSolman


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    It isn't often that the country stops what it's doing as long as it did this week to pay attention to a Supreme Court argument -- in this case, to two of them, both with the potential to shake up social and cultural norms across the land.

    It was riveting to listen to the justices speak with passion about what gives the federal government the right to decide what marriage is, or to hear the U.S. Solicitor General allege the unfairness of the law enacted in 1996 to deny benefits to same-sex married couples because, among other things, "the spouse of a soldier killed in the line of duty cannot receive the dignity and solace of an official notification of next of kin."

    Throughout these arguments, there were references to the "sea change" in public opinion, and "this institution, which is newer than cell phones or the Internet." Indeed, polls show that in the past 10 years, there's been a significant shift in favor of same-sex marriage, driven largely by the younger generation.

    .

    The Pew Research Center reports the growth in support is among the largest changes in public opinion on any policy issue over this time period. It's hard to think of anything so controversial that compares. Ten years ago, 47 percent of Americans said homosexuality should be accepted by society; today that number has jumped to 57 percent. Among women, it's even higher, 61 percent. For the young, born between 1980 and 1995, it shoots up to 74 percent. Even among so-called Generation X'ers -- today's 33 to 48 year olds -- fully 62 percent are accepting, compared to 50 percent a decade ago.

    Along partisan lines, the shift has been most pronounced among Democrats and self-described moderate/liberal Republicans. By almost two to one, Democrats today disagree that same-sex marriage undermines the traditional family. On the other side of the coin, conservative Republicans are only slightly less inclined to believe same-sex marriage is harmful: 78 percent compared to 81 percent in 2003.

    Why has this change come so rapidly? Several theories are offered. The gay rights movement has encouraged young people to "come out" as early as they are comfortable, so more people actually know a family member, a friend, a co-worker or someone else in their lives who is gay. What used to be whispered about is much more openly discussed; in the larger metropolitan areas, few think twice about seeing a same-sex couple out in public. This is not to say there isn't still discrimination, even deplorable gay-bashing in less tolerant corners of the United States. After all, the polls that report growing acceptance also show 44 percent of Americans still oppose legalizing same sex marriage. But the negative attitudes are less prevalent than they used to be.

    The factor that may have been the most influential, however, is the children of gay couples. The growing realization that children are growing up and thriving with nurturing parents of the same gender has begun to change the face of the gay rights movement. Everyone took note when conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose coveted "swing" opinion was being sought by both sides in the debate, told the lawyer arguing against same-sex marriage that the "40,000 children in California" who "live with same sex parents...want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in this case."

    The lawyer arguing to uphold California's Proposition 8 tried to change the subject, suggesting the children aren't the issue. But Kennedy had introduced an image that lingered in people's minds -- and perhaps, in the minds of the justices.

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    Watch Video Teachers in New York are using rap to teach complex science. PBS NewsHour senior correspondent Ray Suarez reports on the effectiveness of this strategy and interviews hip-hop legend GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan.

    In his upcoming solo album, "Dark Matter," Wu-Tang Clan's GZA raps about the Big Bang -- the moment that the sun, moon, stars, planets and all matter contained within sprung from chaos, from nothing.

    The legendary rapper performed the new material at Bronx Compass High School, where he hopes to pique students' interest in science by introducing hip-hop to the lesson plan. GZA has teamed up with Columbia University professor Christopher Emdin and ten New York City public schools to use hip-hop to teach everything from biology to physics. Students write verse about scientific concepts and compete against one another for the best lyrics. Now you can, too.

    Enter your own science rap or hip-hop verse for a chance to win a PBS NewsHour mug signed by GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan along with a personal video shout-out from the rap legend himself. Our contest is modeled after the Science Genius competition, a partnership between GZA, Emdin and Rap Genius. Entries will be judged by Emdin and two of his Columbia University Teachers College graduate students.

    How to submit a video:

    Create your science rap video according to the guidelines below and upload it to YouTube. Click here to submit your entry in the contest. (You must log in to your YouTube account.) Now, choose the video from your channel and submit it as a response to GZA's YouTube video. Videos will be reviewed and approved before they become visible on the PBS NewsHour channel.

    Competition guidelines:

    Entries must incorporate at least one scientific topic/concept into 16 bars of verse. (16 bars is the length of a traditional verse, and a bar is made up of beats of four.)

    The main topic/concept of the rap must be referenced in different ways at least three times in the verse.

    Be creative in your expression of the science (E.g.: envision yourself either as somebody involved in the scientific process or an object undergoing the scientific process. Draw connections between your real world experiences and the concepts themselves.)

    Information must be scientifically accurate and verifiable.

    Lyrics must rhyme, and incorporate metaphor/analogy

    Entries are due by Friday, May 3.

    If you have questions about the contest or you are having trouble uploading a video, email science reporter Jenny Marder at jmarder@newshour.org.

    Related

    GZA Performs Excerpt From His Album, "Dark Matter"

    Hip-Hop Helps Kids Compose Songs in the Key of Science

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    As part of Holy Thursday celebrations March 28, Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 prisoners at a youth detention center in Rome to mark Jesus' same gesture when he washed the feet of the 12 apostles the night before his crucifixion.



    Watch Pope Francis' inaugural Mass.

    Pope Francis Arrives

    Pope Francis greets the director of the Casal Del Marmo Youth Detention Center, Liana Giambartolomei, on March 28, 2013 in Rome. All photos by Servizio Fotografico L'Osservatore Romano via Getty Images. Photo: Servizio Fotografico L'Osservatore Romano

    Processional

    As part of a procession of priests and altar servers, Pope Francis enters the youth detention center in Rome to celebrate Mass on Holy Thursday. Photo: Servizio Fotografico L'Osservatore Romano

    Celebrating Mass

    Pope Francis celebrates Mass of the Lord's Supper the night before Jesus died on Good Friday. Photo: Servizio Fotografico L'Osservatore Romano

    Jesus' Gesture

    Pope Francis washes the feet of a prisoner in observance of the Bible's account of Jesus' gesture of humility toward his 12 apostles on the night before he was crucified. Photo: Servizio Fotografico L'Osservatore Romano

    Breaking with Tradition

    Modern popes have washed the feet of fellow priests, so Pope Francis broke with tradition by washing the feet of prisoners. Among the 12 were two women and two Muslims, another new element to the ritual. Photo: Servizio Fotografico L'Osservatore Romano


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: There were urgent appeals for new laws to curb gun violence today at the White House and at gatherings nationwide. It was all part of efforts to build momentum for votes in Congress.

    It was called a National Day to Demand Action. Rallies took place across the country to push Congress for gun reform. Some gatherings were small, like this one in Golden, Colorado.

    MAYOR MARJORIE SLOAN, Golden, Colo.: Colorado legislators have already been very brave and they have taken measures to reduce gun violence. It's now time for our federal delegation to do the same thing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In all, organizers said there were more than 100 events scheduled from coast to coast.

    NARRATOR: Demand action now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The rallies are coordinated with an anti-gun ad campaign launched in 13 states this week by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others.

    MAN: She just wanted to teach little kids, and that was her goal, and she died doing it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Some of the ads feature family members of the school shooting victims in Newtown, Connecticut. Bloomberg is spending $12 million dollars of his own money on the campaign to encourage support for stricter background checks on gun buyers.

    But the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre had this message for the mayor on Meet the Press last Sunday.

    WAYNE LAPIERRE, National Rifle Association: He's going to find out this is a country of the people, by the people, and for the people. And he can't spend enough of his $27 billion dollars to try to impose his will on the American public.

    They don't want him in their restaurants. They don't want him in their homes. They don't want him telling them what food to eat. They sure don't want him telling them what self-defense firearms to own.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tougher gun control legislation will be high on the agenda for Congress next month, when members return from recess, but it faces a tough road.

    That was on President Obama's mind today at the White House, joined by parents of the victims of gun violence.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The grief doesn't ever go away. That loss, that pain sticks with you. It lingers on in places like Blacksburg and Tucson and Aurora. That anguish is still fresh in Newtown. It's been barely 100 days since 20 innocent children and six brave educators were taken from us by gun violence.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president urged the nation not to forget Newtown and not to let the moment pass.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: The entire country was shocked. And the entire country pledged we would do something about it and that this time would be different. Shame on us if we have forgotten. I haven't forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we have forgotten them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There were other reminders today. Newly released search warrants showed that the Newtown killer, Adam Lanza, had an even larger arsenal than previously known. Police found his Connecticut home had a cache of guns, more than 1,700 rounds of ammunition, a bayonet and swords.

    Meanwhile, the man accused in another mass shooting, James Holmes, has now offered to plead guilty to killing 12 people at a Colorado movie theater last summer. He would agree to spend life in prison in order to avoid the death penalty.

    We also learned new details in the past 24 hours about the behavior of Jared Lee Loughner. He's the man who killed six people and injured 13 others in Tucson in 2011, including former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

    We get more on these stories from a pair of reporters, Sean Holstege of The Arizona Republic and Ray Rivera of The New York Times.

    And, Ray, let's begin with you on the news from Newtown. What's the most important thing police revealed about what they found at the home of Adam Lanza?

    RAY RIVERA, The New York Times: Well, I think most of what they revealed, I think, was known. The extent of what was known, I think the extent is what's important here, that he had access to a great deal of weapons. We didn't really know how much was in there, as you mentioned the numerous rounds of ammunition.

    Many of the rounds of ammunition belong to guns that we didn't -- that they didn't find in the home, including .45-caliber and .303-caliber. So, you know, it's difficult to say exactly how many weapons this man had access to. We also learned that -- go ahead. I'm sorry.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: No, I was just going to say, a huge amount of weapons, of ammunition, and he apparently had access to all of it? It wasn't locked away? Or is that clear?

    RAY RIVERA: That's correct. It wasn't locked away.

    And in fact one of the search warrant's affidavits, not in the inventory list itself, says that the gun safe was in what they believed was his bedroom.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in addition, Ray Rivera, we read -- we saw that there were photographs of -- or a photograph of a shooting victim, apparently a dead person. There were school records from Sandy Hook Elementary, where he had gone to school, books about Asperger's syndrome.

    And was there anything there to give a sense of a -- any better idea of a motive on his part?

    RAY RIVERA: Well, I think that's what's really missing and we don't see that from these documents.

    They found numerous journals, I think seven journals, as well as drawings and other things. And you mentioned his school records. Now, without knowing what the contents of those journals were, it's hard to know exactly what his motives were.

    And we did see that they mentioned a newspaper clipping of a school shooting from 2008 at Northern Illinois University which, and we have seen some similar reports like that which raises a copycat factor. But, again, we don't really get a sense of what his motive was.

    And that's been one of the big challenge -- big mysteries of this story. So few people seem to know Adam Lanza, including former classmates. And he seemed to be so isolated that really much about him remains a mystery.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And video games? We saw there was some more information about that? Anything else about his mother?

    RAY RIVERA: Well, I think what we see about his mother is really the extent to which she was a gun enthusiast, or perhaps more.

    Most of these weapons, it appears, that she purchased, one thing we note in there, although it's not dated -- and it's possible it's a typographical error -- but we see a holiday card with a check in it that she gave to him for what police identified as a firearm.

     

    So, that shows that she apparently was quite comfortable with her son having access to these firearms.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And then video games?

    RAY RIVERA: The video games, again, we don't learn a great deal about video games from these warrants, except that he had several different kinds of players.

    And we learned from an affidavit, one witness or one person who apparently knew him said that he was an avid gamer and really enjoyed playing "Call of Duty" and violent -- other violent video games. This, I think, was already known. And I think there's a lot of -- there's some debate about there -- about whether violent video games lead somebody to do something like this ...

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

    RAY RIVERA: ... or somebody with the proclivity to do something like this chooses to play violent video games.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me turn to Sean Holstege now with the Arizona Republic.

    Sean, 2,700 pages of information the police put out. What -- tell us what important comes from that.

    SEAN HOLSTEGE, Arizona Republic: Well, the documents that we read yesterday that were released after a court battle fill out the picture; they don't complete the picture.

    There were a couple of story narratives that were advanced by this. The biggest hole that we were rooting for, what exactly happened in that house in northwest Tucson? What exactly did Jared Lee Loughner's parents, Randy and Amy, do to try and curb his behavior?

    We know quite a bit about Jared Loughner and his motives. We don't know what was done to try and prevent him acting violently or how late in the narrative he started getting violent thoughts.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Does more of a picture come together from all this information, though, of how his parents were struggling with his apparent mental illness?

    SEAN HOLSTEGE: Absolutely.

    In the court testimony leading up to his sentencing, while the judge was trying to reconcile whether he was competent to stand trial, the psychologist who reviewed his file determined that he had visible signs of schizophrenia as early as 2007 or 2008. Randy and Amy Loughner both testified to police in their home about four hours after the shooting that they knew their son was sick.

    What we didn't know is what they tried to do about it. And what they both told police was that the Pima County Community College people came to their house and told them, if there were any guns in the house, to keep them out of sight or locked away. Randy put them the trunk of his car. We found out from Amy that they tried to get and did get Jared Loughner drug-tested sometime after his expulsion or suspension in October, before the shooting.

    So there are a number of things that indicated they were worried about his mental state. There were not a lot of indications -- and I'm not sure Randy or Amy would have had those indications -- that he was starting to think violently. He only bought the gun a few weeks before, a couple weeks before Christmas, a month before the shooting almost, a little more than a month before the shooting.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And his parents were concerned enough they were disabling the car so he couldn't drive in the days leading up to the shooting. Is that right?

    SEAN HOLSTEGE: That's right. They put a prohibition on him, sort of a house rule, no driving at nighttime, because we want to make sure you're safe and that we can keep an eye on you.

    They let him drive during the day so that he could find a job. And that gets to his motivations. He had had a string of failures going back a number of years. He could not keep a job. He could not stay in school. He lost a girlfriend in high school. There were just a number of disappointments. He couldn't enroll -- enlist in the Army. There were a number of disappointments in his life that in his writings online leading up to this painted a very clear picture that he was angry, depressed, sometimes suicidal.

    All that was clear. What wasn't clear was what the parents could or were able to do about it, because they have never given an interview to anyone. They have only released a one-paragraph statement in all this time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All this information beginning to be pieced together.

    Sean Holstege with the Arizona Republic, Ray Rivera with The New York Times, we thank you both.

    SEAN HOLSTEGE: My pleasure.

    RAY RIVERA: Thank you, Judy.

    RAY SUAREZ: You can follow our ongoing coverage on the gun debate in America. Find that on our home page. 


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    HARI SREENIVASAN: The focus in South Africa turned to former president Nelson Mandela today. He was hospitalized for the third time in four months at the age of 94.

    We have a report from Rohit Kachroo of Independent Television News.

    ROHIT KACHROO, Independent Television News: Nelson Mandela is not only the most revered person in the world, but an elderly man fighting a persistent lung infection.

    His 94th birthday last summer was a rare chance to see him in public, surrounded by his family. Another glimpse of the former president last February. He had gained weight. He looked healthier, but he's been taken to hospital twice since then.

    Last night, he was taken from his Johannesburg home to an unnamed hospital.

    MAC MAHARAJ, South African Presidential Spokesman: The doctors are attending to him and ensuring that the best -- he receives the best possible expert medical treatment and is kept comfortable. President Zuma has wished Madiba a speedy recovery.

    ROHIT KACHROO: Twenty-seven years in prison made Mandela a global icon, this country's first black president, uniting his nation. Many South Africans yearn for his style of leadership today.

    But this is a young country, and though South Africans celebrate his birthday, most are too young to remember the dark years of racial segregation. A figure from the history books, he may be, but he matters here and his health is a national concern.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: This evening, the South African government said Mandela is responding positively to treatment. And, at the White House, President Obama voiced hope for Mandela's recovery, and said he's been an inspiration to all of us.

    In Rome, Pope Francis marked Holy Thursday by washing the feet of young jail inmates. The pontiff performed the ritual washing and then kissing the feet of a dozen young people at a juvenile detention center. They included orthodox and Muslim detainees and two young women. Previous popes have celebrated the foot-washing ritual, but Francis is the first to include women in the rite.

    New tensions are boiling over among thousands of Syrians who fled the civil war in their country. Refugees rioted today at one site in Jordan when guards stopped them from trying to go home. And unrest broke out in Turkey yesterday at a large camp near the Syrian border. Military police used tear gas and water cannons, but Turkey denied reports that it is deporting at least 600 rioters.

    In Geneva, Switzerland, a spokeswoman for the United Nations said the claims, if true, would be troubling.

    MELISSA FLEMING, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Spokeswoman: Deportations to Syria would be, if they occurred, against the principles of international law. And so we are very much hoping this didn't occur. We do remind refugees that they have a responsibility to abide by the law in Turkey.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, in Damascus, mortar shells struck an outdoor cafeteria at a university there, killing at least 10 people. Syrian state TV broadcast images of the aftermath and the wounded. The regime blamed terrorists, the name it uses for all rebel groups.

    The U.S. military answered North Korea's new threats today with a show of force, flying a pair of B-2 stealth bombers over South Korea and dropping dummy munitions on a South Korean island. The Yonhap News Agency in South Korea captured stills of the B-2s south of Seoul on mock bombing runs. They flew from a base in Missouri, and returned there.

    In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said it's a deliberate response to North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

    VICTORIA NULAND, State Department Spokeswoman: When a country says the kinds of things that the DPRK is saying, you have to take it seriously, and you have to take steps to ensure that, when we say in response we can and will defend our own nation and we can and will defend our allies, that that is credible.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: North Korea has recently cut several hot lines with the South and even threatened to fire missiles at the U.S. That's after the U.N. imposed new sanctions to punish the North for conducting a nuclear test last month.

    Banks in Cyprus reopened today for the first time in nearly two weeks, but with strict controls on transactions. Long lines formed outside banks as people waited to do what business they could. The controls were designed to prevent runs that would drain all funds from the country's financial system. To qualify for an international bailout, Cyprus has agreed to shrink its banking sector and to impose heavy losses on large depositors.

    Wall Street passed a new milestone today. The S&P 500 closed at a record high of 1,569, topping its previous peak from October of 2007. The other main indexes also rallied. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 52 points to close at 14,578. The Nasdaq rose eleven points to close at 3,267.

    Those are some of the day's major stories -- now back to Ray.


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    RAY SUAREZ: Same-sex marriage was the issue before the Supreme Court this week. And for many supporters and opponents, their religious views were a guiding factor.

    The crowds outside the U.S. Supreme Court this week vocally and visually shared their views on same-sex marriage. And many made clear that their opinions are rooted in religious beliefs.

    RUTH CHAMORRO, Opponent of Same-Sex Marriage: We love all, just as God loves everyone, but God just doesn't like the sins that we do. And one of the sins are -- happens to be homosexuality.

    PATTY JOHNSON, Supporter of Same-Sex Marriage: Well, I think our faith brings us to this issue. It's a moral issue all -- all are God's children and are not to be discriminated against.

    RAY SUAREZ: That kind of division was also evident among religious leaders who turned out.

    REV. SAMARIS GROSS, Opponent of Same-Sex Marriage: We know that God created one man and one woman to be the holy marriage, holy matrimony. And we oppose most certainly, not the people, but the ways, because the Bible tells us differently. God definitely opposes it.

    BISHOP GENE ROBINSON, Supporter of Same-Sex Marriage: It's really important for progressive religious people to be here to counter the notion that religious people are against marriage equality. There are lots of different ways of reading Scripture.

    RAY SUAREZ: Even during the legal arguments inside the court, moral overtones were never far away. At one point, Attorney Paul Clement, representing House Republicans, was asked about the beliefs behind their support of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

    Justice Elena Kagan:

    ASSOCIATE JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court: Is what happened in 1996 -- and I'm going to quote from the House report here -- is that Congress decided to reflect and honor of collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality. Is that what happened in 1996?

    PAUL CLEMENT, Attorney for U.S. House of Representatives: Does the House report say that? Of course, the House report says that. And if that's enough to invalidate the statute, then you should invalidate the statute.

    RAY SUAREZ: Along those same lines, Chief Justice John Roberts questioned Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer for a woman who challenged DOMA, about the Senate's vote.

    CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, U.S. Supreme Court: Eighty-four senators based their vote on moral disapproval of gay people?

    ROBERTA KAPLAN, Attorney: No, I think I think what is true, Mr. Chief Justice, is that times can blind, and that back in 1996, people did not have the understanding that they have today that there is no distinction, there is no constitutionally permissible distinction.

    CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Well, does that mean -- times can blind. Does that mean they didn't base their votes on moral disapproval?

    ROBERTA KAPLAN: No, some clearly did.

    RAY SUAREZ: Now both sides must wait to parse the high court's decisions on DOMA and California's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage. The decisions are due by June.

    And we get two perspectives now on how leaders of different faiths are approaching the issue of same-sex marriage.

    Michael Schuenemeyer is minister for LGBT concerns with the United Church of Christ, the first Protestant church to endorse gay marriage. And Richard Langer is professor of biblical studies at Biola University. He's also an ordained minister with the Evangelical Free Church of America.

    Rev. Schuenemeyer, during the run-up to these two very important court cases, religious groups were not shy about where they stood. Did your denomination, the United Church of Christ, take a public decision on the Supreme Court cases?

    REV. MICHAEL SCHUENEMEYER, United Church of Christ: Well, yes, we did.

    We were involved in at least three of the briefs, amicus briefs, that were submitted to the court supporting marriage equality in both the Perry and Hollingsworth case and the Windsor case as well. We feel very strongly that everybody's relationship ought to be respected, that people ought to have equal rights, and that governments should really get out of this argument and allow everyone to have the freedom to marry.

    RAY SUAREZ: Professor Langer, did your nomination, the Evangelical Free Church, and your school, Biola, which says it's committed to biblically centered education, take a public stand on these cases? And, of course, being in California, you're directly implicated by the Prop 8 debate.

    RICHARD LANGER, Biola University: Yes, it's been a very controversial issue here in California, as it has across the country.

    My particular domination, as far as I know, at least, didn't take an official stand because we don't really have much of an official organization that carries forward those stands. But it definitely represents a denomination that predominantly would have been opposed to same-sex marriage, as Biola would be as well.

    RAY SUAREZ: The Congress brought up morality repeatedly during the arguments, as we noted in the tape report.

    And, Professor, in the legislation itself, Congress decided to reflect and honor, the legislation said, collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality. That was 1996.

    In 2013, do you think the United States Congress would write the same thing?

    RICHARD LANGER: Yes, I would doubt the United States Congress would write the same thing in 2013.

    I think we really have had a lot of change in those kinds of broad public perceptions. That's different than the question of what a person might say coming from an underlying biblical world view or coming from the Christian faith. But I think there's been a lot of motion in our culture over the course of these last 17 years or so.

    RAY SUAREZ: So, during the time that there's been a lot of motion, has the church basically -- or your branch of the church -- stayed in the same place?

    RICHARD LANGER: Yes, I think so.

    I would argue that really the Christian faith has always been somewhat out of tune with the cultural ethics of the time. If you go back to New Testament time, you have a Greco-Roman culture that certainly didn't embody Christian values in terms of human sexuality. And Christianity was countercultural.

    And the Old Testament religion was countercultural to the Canaanite context it was in. So it really isn't that big a deal for us to feel like we're a little bit out of step with where our culture happens to be at some given time.

    RAY SUAREZ: Rev. Schuenemeyer, sort of the same question. Did the United Church of Christ look at the shifts in the culture and come to a different conclusion than Professor Langer?

    MICHAEL SCHUENEMEYER: Well, I think so.

    Martin Luther King Jr. said that the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice. And my Old Testament professor Walt Brigaman says and the moral arc of the Gospel bends towards inclusion. And that's certainly been something that's been foundational about the theology of the United Church of Christ, where we believe that God is still speaking and that we continue to evolve as a society and come to understand how is it that we can live out the Gospel.

    And we find that when we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, we don't find very many people, if anybody at all -- actually, we say Jesus never turned anyone away. And those are very important values when we come to look at an issue like this.

    When we come to look at a relationship as important as marriage is, it's not just a piece of paper. It's about a relationship. And it's really not about the gender. It's about the quality of that relationship, about the love and respect, the communication, the kind of relationship that two people share.

    And society has come to understand marriage in a way that society can benefit from marriage. There are many tangible benefits that society gets from marriage. And the kind of social benefits that government offers to people who are married are very important. And they're important to the community, not just to the couple.

    RAY SUAREZ: Well, one-third of the states, home to more than one-third of the U.S. population, have either gone to legalize gay marriage or recognize civil unions or legally recognize domestic partnerships.

    What has changed for religious organizations in those places that have already changed their laws?

    Professor Langer, anything?

    RICHARD LANGER: You know, right now, I live a state that hasn't -- that that is very much in flux and very much in question.

    I don't know that a huge amount of things have changed. The thing that's interesting to me is the notion that Michael just mentioned about marriage not having anything to do with gender. And I really think that's a revolutionary sort of statement. That's very, very different than what marriage has meant for millennia, frankly.

    It has been a thing that has been very much associated with gender, and particularly with heterosexual sex and reproduction. There's a whole set of things that really don't attach much to religion, but rather just ordinary human life and human nature that have made marriage something that you very much regulate and is very much associated with gender issues and very much associated with the next generation, with children.

    RAY SUAREZ: Quick response, Rev. Schuenemeyer?

    MICHAEL SCHUENEMEYER: Well, I think that the aspect of gender really becomes neutral when we look at the vows of marriage themselves, because we're really talking about in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want, and all the kinds of various conditions of life.

    And when two people are willing to make a loving commitment to each other for a lifelong relationship, those are really what the values of marriage are about, that love and commitment and that stick-to-itiveness that people have in a relationship.

    And we have found and our experience is -- in fact, my own personal experience is that people who are gay and lesbian are able to receive the vocation of marriage, to live out those vows faithfully and in ways that are life-giving to themselves and to their family and to their community.

    RAY SUAREZ: Before we go, I want to hear from you both briefly on the very steady objections during this debate from religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage that didn't want to face coercion in states that change their marriage laws, didn't want to do anything apart from what their consciences told them in this matter once the law changed.

    In your awareness, in your view, has this been a problem anywhere among the states that have either contemplated the change or moved to the change, Professor?

    RICHARD LANGER: I'm not aware of that having happened yet, but I think that's definitely a concern that I share, is, where will this go in the long run?

    This has become a civil rights issue, in terms of the way people like to frame it. It's not a question of definition of marriage, but a question of denying someone a civil right. And I think that's made it very problematic, because if you end up on the wrong end of a civil right, you can end up in prison, you can end up losing a tax-exempt status, you can end up with all kinds of very, very strong consequences.

    So it's one of those areas that you worry this isn't just a matter of, hey, let people do what they want to do, because as soon as that happens, suddenly, you can't do what you would like to do or you are required to do things that you never would have done by conscience.

    We have seen this happen with doctors in abortion issues, where it's one thing to say abortion is permissible, but it's not long until OB-GYNs are required to do abortions and be trained in abortions, or else they have to find a different specialty.

    RAY SUAREZ: Rev. Schuenemeyer, do the states that have already changed their laws provide a test case, where we can see where coercion of actions against religious belief are a problem?

    MICHAEL SCHUENEMEYER: Well, one of the important values of our country is religious liberty.

    And I think that marriage equality allows everybody to practice their faith and to continue to do so. So I don't really see where coercion is going to be an issue. When two people marry each other, there's the role of the state, which is to provide the rights and benefits and also the obligations. It's a publicly accountable relationship at that point.

    And then each religion has the responsibility to offer rights and blessings, sacraments, whatever it is that they do in their traditions, according to their teachings and doctrines. And our values in our country respect that religious liberty.

    RAY SUAREZ: Thank you both, Rev. Schuenemeyer and Professor Langer.

    MICHAEL SCHUENEMEYER: Thank you.

    RICHARD LANGER: Thank you.

    RAY SUAREZ: Politics editor Christina Bellantoni headed a Google Hangout with faith leaders from different sides of the debate. Watch their conversation on our home page. 


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: to the automatic federal budget cuts known as the sequester.

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today that the Pentagon is trying to ease the impact on as many as 800,000 civilian employees, cutting the number of unpaid furlough days by a third. Hagel credits a new spending bill signed by President Obama. It gives the Defense Department more flexibility to deal with billions of dollars of across-the-board cuts that began on March 1st.

    At a news conference this afternoon, however, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey said that the Pentagon is still being forced to make difficult choices.

    GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman: On Monday, we will be halfway through the fiscal year, and we will be 80 percent spent in our operating funds. We don't yet have a satisfactory solution to that shortfall. And we're doing everything we can to stretch our readiness out.

    To do this, we will have to trade at some level and to some degree our future readiness for current operations. It will cost us more eventually in both money and time to recover in the years to come. We will be trying to recover lost readiness at the same time that we're trying to reshape the force. We can do it, but that's the uncomfortable truth.

    RAY SUAREZ: Despite the Defense Department's efforts to mitigate the impact of sequestration on the nation's military readiness, the across-the-board budget cuts are already starting to take a toll in communities where federal spending is the backbone of the local economy.

    That's true of southeastern Virginia.

    Correspondent Cathy Lewis of WHRO in Hampton Roads brings us this update on how her region is coping. Her story is part of our collaboration with public media partners across the country in a series we call Battleground Dispatches.

    PROTESTER: No more furloughs!

    CATHY LEWIS, WHRO: These federal civilian workers know furlough notices are coming, and they're not happy to lose the work.

    In the Hampton Roads region of southeastern Virginia, where nearly half the economy relies on federal spending, workers were protesting being forced to take days off without pay between now and September. Today's news from the Defense Department will ease that pain, reducing the number of furlough days from 22 to 14.

    But this region remains anxious over the impact of sequestration on the local economy. The cuts are the result of the so-called sequestration act, the automatic across-the-board reduction in spending that started to kick in March 1st. It mandates roughly $85 billion dollar cut from federal spending by September.

    MAN: Blow your horn! Blow your horn!

    CATHY LEWIS: Staying home one day a week adds up.

    MAN: It's going to affect my whole family. I got three kids. I got kids in school. It's ridiculous. It's a lot of money. It's roughly about seven grand.

    CATHY LEWIS: Hampton Roads has the largest concentration of American military assets in the world. Six percent of the population here wears a military uniform. It's the only place in the country where nuclear aircraft carriers are built, but the federal presence extends far beyond the fleet.

    The region is home to a NATO command, the largest concentration of Coast Guard assets in the world, and 13 federal departments, including NASA and the Jefferson Lab. It's beginning to sink in that sequestration is part of a bigger trend here, an inevitable new normal of less defense spending, now that the U.S. is out of Iraq and disengaging in Afghanistan.

    Craig Quigley is a retired rear admiral who now heads the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance.

    RET. ADM. CRAIG QUIGLEY, Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance: We can get smaller in our defense establishment and I believe still do what the nation requires their military to do, but sequester is not the mechanism to do it. It takes away all judgment. It doesn't allow for chopping off from the bottom of the least important programs to protect the most important programs.

    CATHY LEWIS: While the president exempted uniformed personnel from pay cuts, service members are not spared the effects of sequestration.

    Because it needed to reach the dollar targets of the sequester, the Navy canceled the six-month deployment of the aircraft carrier Truman, all with only two days' notice. That sent more than 5,000 sailors scrambling.

    CRAIG QUIGLEY: If you're a single sailor and you were expecting to deploy and that was stopped at the last minute, if you own a car, you have put it in storage or perhaps you have sold it. You have gotten out of an apartment or a home you may share with a few other people. You have put your household goods in storage. You have disconnected from the world.

    And now, all of a sudden, you're not going. And now I need to get that car back, I need to get my household goods out of storage, I need to find another apartment. And the Navy pays for none of that.

    CATHY LEWIS: There are also nearly 40,000 civilians at work in shipyards like this one. When a ship goes into the yard, it's called an availability. There were 11 such availabilities on tap this summer that were threatened by federal inaction.

    Now it looks like the money will be there for those 11 availabilities, along with two aircraft carrier overhauls. But no one is celebrating just yet.

    MAN: Insecure. Everybody is insecure, fear, a little angry. But what can you do?

    CATHY LEWIS: Captain Bill Crow spent more than 30 years in the Navy. Today, he heads the Virginia Ship Repair Association, representing more than 200 shipyards.

    RET. CAPT. WILLIAM CROW, Virginia Ship Repair Association: If they were to cancel these availabilities, I can tell you, yes, they were concerned about being able to put bread on their table from being furloughed or laid off. And that may still come to pass.

    But I will also tell you that, deep down in their heart, each and every one of those 40,000 people take great pride in the fact that they play a part in the maintenance and readiness of our United States Navy. And they're doggone proud of that.

    CATHY LEWIS: Both Quigley and Crow say, in all their years around federal budgeting, they have never seen anything like this.

    Neither have the owners of Davis Interiors. For more than 58 years, they have custom-built and installed the furniture that goes on ships at sea. It's a three-generation family business for Whitney Metzger.

    WHITNEY METZGER, Davis Interiors: We know that we will be busy at least through May or June, but after that, we're not entirely sure what's going to happen. Right now, we have had to let go about five employees, unfortunately. And we have furloughed most of our staff that were working three- and four-day workweeks.

    People are working Fridays on an as-needed basis, but, for the most part, it's empty here on Fridays now.

    CATHY LEWIS: Like many in the front offices and on the front lines, Metzger worries about the future for her company and her employees, and she wants Washington to know that real people's livelihoods are on the line.

    WHITNEY METZGER: This isn't a political game. And it's very frustrating to see so many politicians in Washington turn it into that.

    CATHY LEWIS: Ten of the 11 members of Congress from Virginia voted against the bill that would have avoided sequestration. Metzger says trimming the staff now allows Davis Interiors to retain a smaller, but still highly skilled work force.

    Keeping those skilled workers in the area when work is becoming more scarce is a concern shared by the region's leaders who, some say, haven't done enough to diversify the economy.

    Craig Quigley says the potential loss of 12,000 good-paying jobs and more than $2 billion dollars in the local economy may be a wakeup call that's finally too loud to ignore.

    CRAIG QUIGLEY: The day has arrived. OK? The federal spending in Hampton Roads is going down. So, we can accept a lower level of economic vitality, no growth, flat economy. Is that really what we want?

    Or do we want to get serious finally about diversifying the economy, finding something to supplement, not replace -- I don't want to go to zero in federal spending, but I want to supplement it and reduce it as a percentage of the gross regional product, so that we are not totally drug-dependent on that.

    CATHY LEWIS: But this region that depends so heavily on the business of government had hoped for a phased withdrawal of federal spending. Making so many cuts by Sept. 30th feels to many like quitting cold turkey. 


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: two stories about how children learn.

    The first focuses on a Seattle program that uses babies to prevent bullying. A recent study by the University of Virginia found the dropout rate was 29 percent above average in schools with significant levels of teasing and bullying, compared to schools in the study with lower rates.

    Our story is part of our ongoing American Graduate series.

    At seven-months-old, Claire Fitzpatrick is a typical baby. She is sitting up on her own, eating solid foods and developing a little bit of a mischievous streak. But what separates Claire from most infants is that she is also a teacher. Once a month, Jenny and Kyle Fitzpatrick bring their daughter into a classroom full of Seattle-area kindergartners. As soon as Claire arrives, students welcome her with a song.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Then, for the next 40 minutes or so, Claire is at the heart of lessons on what it means to care for and about others, as part of the program Roots of Empathy.

    Roots of Empathy started in Toronto in 1996 with the lofty mission of building more caring and peaceful societies by raising the level of empathy in children. Empathy, as it turns out, has been found to reduce negative social behaviors like bullying and teasing.

    KIM SCHONERT-REICHL, University of British Columbia: Well, some people would actually describe empathy as one of the most important of all personality characteristics, because it not only stops us from behaving aggressively to another person. It actually is the instigator of us helping another person.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Kim Schonert-Reichl is a professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver who has studied the effectiveness of Roots of Empathy.

    She believes that babies can be powerful springboards for getting at difficult subjects that are seldom addressed in traditional classroom settings and that this program, which costs U.S. schools roughly $60 dollars per student to implement, has shown empathy can be taught.

    Young Seattle-area students currently going through the program seem to be grasping the concept.

    LINSEY SANTIAGO, Student: Empathy is to have, like, feelings for others and care about them.

    ELIJAH RUSS, Student: If they're sad, and you try to help them out, you feel empathy for them.

    LUISA LORMEDZ, Student: Empathy is like if someone is feeling happy, you're feeling happy for them. If somebody is feeling sad, you're feeling sad for them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Students from kindergarten to eighth grade cover nine themes over the course of a school year, with subjects ranging from the safety of the babies ...

    JENNY FITZPATRICK, Roots of Empathy Mom: Some books that are on a bookshelf that are heavy that she could probably reach that we're going to have to put away.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: ... to why babies cry.

    WOMAN: How can you tell, boys and girls, that she might be getting a little tired? Is a yawn.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But bringing a baby into a classroom full of children was a hard sell for Aimee Miner, the principal here at Lake Forest Park Elementary, one of the first U.S. schools to adopt Roots of Empathy in the U.S.

    AIMEE MINER, Lake Forest Park Elementary: When I first heard about the program, I thought, that's crazy to bring a new infant in a classroom of 23 5-year-olds. The first thought was, you know, risk management. What are they going to say about this? But then I saw it in action and I saw the power of it, and I was a true believer and that this is the right thing to teach kids.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So every month during the school year, Claire and instructor Marilyn Enloe teach the kids social and emotional literacy by following Claire's growth and development.

    MARILYN ENLOE, Instructor: There's two balls, Claire. What do you do with two?

    STUDENT: And her hands aren't big enough to hold both of them in one hand.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Before each of Claire's visits, students eagerly predict what she might have learned since they last saw her. And if Claire should do something new, it's marked with curiosity.

    JENNY FITZPATRICK: Has she ever done this before?

    STUDENTS: No.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Claire's mom, Jenny Fitzpatrick, says it's been a privilege to watch her daughter captivate the classroom.

    JENNY FITZPATRICK: It made a lot of sense that you would teach it through a baby, because sometimes when you try to teach kids to respect each other just using their peers, they don't always pay attention.

    But a baby is pretty much a universal little thing that people care about, and it's a really simple way, because Claire tells you how she's feeling. She's not going to pull any punches.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Reflecting on how people are feeling is an integral part of every lesson and part of the plan to instill empathy at this young age, says one of the program's instructors, Rene Hawkes.

    RENE HAWKES, Roots of Empathy Instructor: The piece that becomes really important with Roots of Empathy is having them understand that, you know, some children enter kindergarten reading, and some children are still working at reading in third grade, and that's OK.

    And so what can we do to help each other? And then it becomes not a piece of, I'm smarter than you or I'm better than you. It becomes a piece of, hey, I have already learned how to do this. How can I help you do this as well?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Kim Schonert-Reichl has found that children who go through Roots of Empathy show more kindness and compassion, in addition to becoming less aggressive, and that students who don't actually become more aggressive over the course of the year.

    Research has also shown that students exposed to programs like this one perform better in the classroom.

    AIMEE MINER: Students who had received the social and emotional learning programs not only increased in their social and emotional skills and decreased in behavior problems, but they also had an 11 percentile point increase in standardized achievement test scores.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Autumn Doss says the program has been a welcome relief inside her third grade classroom at Olympic Hills Elementary. Layla and Andy Haner bring their baby, Emory, every month to see Doss' students, many of whom come from low-income households with difficult family situations.

     

    AUTUMN DOSS, Olympic Hills Elementary: It's been a struggle. It's been really hard to teach people that, no matter how much you cram in their brains, no matter how long they have math, no matter how long their reading blocks are, if they are thinking about the trauma that they experienced last night or they are thinking about a kid who pushed them on the playground or they are thinking about somebody who took their ball or somebody who whispered something nasty about them, they are not learning.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Doss says her students are making up to two years of growth every school year in subjects like reading and math because the learning environment has become safer.

    AUTUMN DOSS: With this program, we are able to teach them how to deal with those feelings, how to solve those conflicts, how to take a breath, and then they can go into the academics, and that's when they are learning.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And long after class is over, babies who take part in the program get an additional benefit from teaching these lessons. Their students share their own tips on how to survive the perils of elementary school.

    Third grader Lacy George has this advice for little Emory.

    LACY GEORGE, Student: Well, maybe try to do your homework a little earlier in the day, not when you are really cranky at the end of the day or when you are really tired. You have to work hard and you have to do your best work in school, so make sure you're doing that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The program is now in three U.S. states, as well as Canada, parts of Europe and New Zealand. The organization plans to expand in the coming year.

    Online, high school and middle school students from our Reporting Labs share their personal experiences with bullying and they offer some solutions. American Graduate is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 

     


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    RAY SUAREZ: And to our second story about very young children, this on the rapidly growing use of mobile technology among the toddler set. That's the subject of this month's cover story of The Atlantic.

    Writer Hanna Rosin looks at the new touchscreen generation: why toddlers are learning to use tablets and smartphones before they're even out of diapers and the questions those changes are raising.

    Rosin joins me now.

    And, Hanna, I guess because my youngest is a teenager, I have to admit that I was unaware that the -- the amount -- of the amount of smartphone and tablet use among the youngest children, two and even younger.

    HANNA ROSIN, The Atlantic: Absolutely.

    It would seem alien to a parent with older children. I have older children, but I also have a little baby who came out exactly in the same time as the iPad and -- who came of age, I should say -- and it's kind of alarming watching a little kid -- he was still in diapers at the time -- be so utterly competent with this piece of technology, almost as if he was born knowing how to do it.

    He can swipe his fingers. It's extremely intuitive, very different from how my other children interacted with technology, which is me teaching them how to use a mouse and what the relationship is between what they're doing with their hand and what's happening on the screen. With him, it's a different story. It's like he was born to the technology.

    RAY SUAREZ: So, we know that kids are on these devices. What are they doing, what kinds of activities?

    HANNA ROSIN: There's a whole explosion of apps designed for kids.

    And what I found was that parents are extremely confused. The researchers found this the pass-back effect, which means we pass our phones back to our children, but we're very ambivalent. We're not sure if it's a good thing. Is this wrecking their brains? But, on the other hand, we live in a technological world.

    I think, largely, there's a lot of anxiety out there, so what I try and do in the story is alleviate the anxiety a little bit, explain to parents that there are bodies of research here and that there are extremely good apps and things that children can learn from this technology, and it's here. So we should accept it and learn how to use it in the best way possible.

    RAY SUAREZ: Well, since you mentioned the brain, do we know what's going on in the brain of young children using touchscreen devices that's different in the nature of interaction, in the level of engagement, different from, let's say, sitting and watching a television show?

    HANNA ROSIN: We do know about that.

    We do seem to know that the more interactive technology is, the more children learn from it. That's a little different than what's going on in their brains. That science is still developing. But we know that they are extremely engaged when they can hear a voice talking back to them, when they feel like the technology is including them and listening to their voice.

    Television has been studied for a good 30 years, because when "Sesame Street" came out, people found that alarming, that there was television designed for very young children. And so they began to study it pretty closely. And just recently, there was something called the pause developed.

    And for any parents of young children, you will recognize it from the show "Blue's Clues" or "Dora the Explorer," where the narrator asks the question, and then there will be a pause and the child gets to answer the question. And that was researchers' first clue that if you had the child interact in some way, that created a much richer experience for them.

    And apps do that automatically. Almost all apps are forms of interaction, where the child can make something happen, the child can talk and the voice gets echoed back. The child can draw a picture and then narrate it. So the kind of technology you find on smartphones and iPads is much more enriching for children, let's say, than even television was.

    RAY SUAREZ: Are some of the misgivings that you report on in your story just the latest technological iteration of the sort of technology-based anxiety that comes along with every new technology? You mentioned people's misgivings about "Sesame Street." That was the late 1960s.

    HANNA ROSIN: Yes, yes.

    I mean, it happened with the novel, right? So, any time a new technology comes and we feel like it's about to be ubiquitous, we get nervous about what it's going to do either to the morals of our young children. Right now, we're in a neuroscience, neurobiology age, so we worry about the brains of young children.

    But each generation brings worry that this is not childhood as we know it. And I think we need to get past that phase, because, in fact, these things are ubiquitous. They're very different from television. They're there on the counter. They're in your purse. They're on the kitchen table. They're really a part of our lives in the way that no other technology ever has been.

    And so I think we just need to accept that young children can do interesting things with this technology.

    RAY SUAREZ: Did you come away from your reporting with any rules for the road, some ways to discern between good screen time and bad screen time in the final analysis?

    HANNA ROSIN: Yes. Yes, absolutely.

    I do talk about some apps that I think are pretty good and why I think they're pretty good. Largely, this is a question of your individual child. I actually have different rules for different children. I have one child who's prone to sort of doing and watching and being engaged way too much, so I put strict time limits on him.

    But with other -- my other two kids, I let them explore quite a bit. And I actually did an interesting experiment with my youngest son, which I write about in the story, where I let him have free access to the iPad at some point. And, in fact, he treated it almost like he treats every other toy, his trucks, his puzzles. He was sort of obsessive about it for a couple of weeks and then just dropped it and forgot about it, just like he does with every other toy.

    So I think interesting things can happen if we just relax our paranoia and nervousness.

    RAY SUAREZ: But you wouldn't want it to exclude everything else?

    HANNA ROSIN: No, that's pretty clear.

    And there's a couple books which I mention in the story which give you pretty good rules. And one of them is, if you find that your child is doing that almost to the exclusion of other things, or doing that in a way that you feel is too much -- that's not to say at every half-hour, you should say, why is he playing the iPad? He should be outside or she should be outside.

    It's not a zero-sum game. But if your child is doing it way too much or seems way too drawn to it, you will know it.

    RAY SUAREZ: Hanna Rosin, thanks so much.

    HANNA ROSIN: Thank you. 


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    In a monthly column on the PBS NewsHour website, Dr. Howard Markel revisits moments that changed the course of modern medicine. Above: A child with high levels of lead in her blood stands next to a peeling lead paint wall in her family's apartment in New York. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

    Humans have mined and used lead for over 6,000 years. Across time, the pliable, soft metal has been fashioned into tools and utensils, used as a sweetener for wines, and even to provide an extra kick to a gallon of gasoline or add a gleaming sheen to a coat of paint.

    Doctors have recognized that high doses of lead are downright poisonous since, at least, the days of Hippocrates. But it was not until March 29, 1979 that a pediatrician and child psychiatrist named Herbert Needleman first documented the dangers of even the lowest forms of lead exposure. This medical detective story is one of many disturbing and intertwining tales told in a fascinating new book, "The Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America's Children," by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner.

    Lead interferes with the normal functioning of just about every cell in the body because it chemically displaces elements that are essential to daily life, such as calcium, zinc and iron. So lead can botch up the elegant way red blood cells carry and deliver oxygen, how one moves his muscles or her limbs, and, perhaps most importantly, the transmission of electrical messages by the brain. Because the brains and bodies of young children are still developing and growing on a daily basis, lead is especially harmful to youngsters.

    For much of the 20th century, the worst cases of lead poisoning garnered all the attention from doctors. Severe lead poisoning is a bona fide medical emergency characterized by children with horrific seizures that simply do not stop, severely swollen brains, and, too often, death.

    Sometime in the late 1950s, however, Dr. Needleman observed that patients with milder cases of lead poisoning kept returning to the emergency room soon after being treated. And when these children would return for follow-up visits, Needleman noted a number of unruly behaviors among many of them.

    Sadly, these children lived in homes -- typically unkempt slum houses in the inner city -- riddled with lead paint flaking off the walls and windowsills. Small children, who tend to explore the world with their mouths -- like eating the lead chips because they taste sweet.

    When lead paint chips are broken down, one is left with a toxic dust that is easily inhaled. Paint companies were required to remove lead from their products in 1978.

    Lead in gasoline wasn't banned by the U.S. government until 1996. Photo courtesy of Flickr user taberandrew.

    Nevertheless, more than 38 million homes in the United States contain deteriorating lead painted walls. Landlords refuse to abate these homes because it costs so much money; the renting parents have neither the funds nor access to safer housing elsewhere.

    Making matters even worse, for decades, Americans were constantly exposed to lead in the form of lead gasoline fumes. Lead remained a gas additive (it makes engines run smoother) until the U.S government began reducing the lead gas content in 1972 and completely banned it in 1996.

    Hypothesizing that no amount of lead was safe, Dr. Needleman focused on the psychological effects of much lower levels of lead poisoning. It was an idea that changed the entire science of environmental toxicology. Rather than studying how much of exposure to a particular toxin it took to kill someone, he insisted on ascertaining the minimum amounts that cause subtle but, nevertheless, damaging effects. Eventually, science and the technology to measure trace but dangerous exposure to environmental toxins caught up with his theory.

    Lead typically settles in the bones and teeth of the body. Consequently, Needleman collected the "baby teeth" -- an easy and painless way to gather bone samples-- of first and second graders living in Boston, some of whom had been exposed to a lot of lead and others who had not. What he found was that the children with high dentine lead levels scored far less well on IQ tests than those kids with low lead levels.

    He reported these findings in a landmark paper in the New England Journal of Medicine on this very day, some 34 years ago. The research that followed showed how low levels of lead exposure can set in motion a wide range of learning disabilities, anti-social behaviors, and even mental health disorders. As Needleman famously explained, "lead is a brain poison that interferes with the ability to restrain impulses. It's a life experience which gets into biology and increases a child's risk for doing bad things".

    Dr. Herbert Needleman. Photo courtesy of the Heinz Awards.

    Not surprisingly, Needleman made real enemies among those working in the lead industries who feared the financial ramifications of the lawsuits resulting from tying decades of lead paint exposure to the poor health of millions of children. These corporations waged a 13-year war by ferreting out Needleman's work for every mistake and error.

    Hiring a team of scientists, the lead companies and their surrogates accused him of scientific research fraud, falsification and plagiarism. None of these charges stuck. In 1992, the U.S. Office of Research Integrity acknowledged that while some human errors appeared in his published papers, these errors did not refute the results and exonerated Dr. Needleman of all charges of fraud. Fortunately, by this point of time, a large cohort of researchers had reproduced and broadened Needleman's findings.

    In 2012, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowered the acceptable blood lead level to a 5 micrograms/dl, a mere fraction of the acceptable levels only 30 years earlier. In reality, even this seemingly "low" amount represents too high an acceptable level in a child's body and brain. The only safe lead level is no lead.

    Despite the overwhelming body of science on this danger, millions of American babies and children are at risk to be poisoned on this anniversary of the discovery of just how damaging lead could be to the developing brain. Who will pay to abate such an environmental hazard -- the landlords, the lead paint producers, the government, everyone -- remains to be seen, as the usual subjects duke it out in courtrooms across America.

    For more than a decade, the lead industry, their lawyers and a team of highly paid scientists fought, fumed and sued to discredit Needleman's work. Fortunately, he survived these attacks and the nation's children are the healthier for it. We still have a long way to go in the fight to "get the lead out" of our environment, but Dr. Herbert Needleman's heroic scientific sleuthing made it a great deal more imperative.

    Dr. Howard Markel is the director of the Center for the History of Medicine and the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan.

    He is the author or editor of 10 books, including "Quarantine! East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892," "When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed" and "An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine."

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    Do you have a question for Dr. Markel about how a particular aspect of modern medicine came to be? Send them to us at onlinehealth@newshour.org.

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    REUTERS/U.S. Air Force/Lt Col Leslie Pratt/Handout A MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft, operated by U.S. Air Force is one of the types of drones used to attack terror suspects. Questions about the authorization of their use by President Obama remain unanswered. Photo by REUTERS/U.S. Air Force/Lt Col Leslie Pratt/Handout.

    As the American Civil Liberties Union's chief Washington lobbyist, Chris Anders spends a lot of time with members of Congress and their staffs. But he says no one seems to know when President Barack Obama will fulfill his promise to engage Congress and the public on the controversial use of U.S. drone attacks to kill terror suspects.

    "I was just in a meeting yesterday with a couple of key congressional staff who've asked the White House if they have a proposal, if they have anything they want to engage on and they got nothing back in response," Anders said by phone Thursday as he rode in a taxi to a Capitol Hill meeting.

    "The administration has not given Congress any guidance on what [it's] looking for other than a promise that the president would be providing a longer explanation of the targeted killing program and explaining it to the country," said Anders.

    In October 2012 on The Daily Show, Mr. Obama said of the U.S. drone strike program, "we've got to ... put a legal architecture in place, and we need Congressional help in order to do that, to make sure that not only am I reined in but any president's reined in, in terms of some of the decisions that we're making."

    The highly secret drone program dates to the George W. Bush administration, but the vast majority of away-from-the-battlefield strikes -- largely in Pakistan and Yemen -- have occurred under Mr. Obama.

    The strikes have generated anti-American sentiment in both those countries.

    The New America Foundation counts more than 420 targeted strikes in the last eight years which killed between 2,426 and 3,969 people, overwhelmingly militants, as well as up to 368 civilians.

    A year ago, after an American-born suspected terrorist, Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen, Attorney General Eric Holder endorsed the strikes as legally permissible.

    "The use of force in foreign territory would be consistent with ... international legal principles if conducted, for example, with the consent of the nation involved -- or after a determination that the nation is unable or unwilling to deal effectively with a threat to the United States," Holder said in a speech at the Northwestern University School of Law.

    "The U.S. government's use of lethal force in self-defense against a leader of al Qaida or an associated force who presents an imminent threat of violent attack would not be unlawful -- and therefore would not violate the Executive Order banning assassination," Holder said.

    The ACLU's Anders calls that an "elastic" interpretation of self-defense.

    And the administration has been reluctant to share the specific legal memoranda that certify their assertions.

    During the confirmation process for new CIA director John Brennan, documents certifying the legality of strikes on Americans on foreign soil were shown to members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees.

    But Anders says there are six more legal memos that claim perhaps even broader authority to attack non-Americans outside the U.S. that the administration has not shared. The ACLU has sued the government to get them.

    "What Congress needs to see are the other six legal opinions because if they saw [them] they would have a much better idea of the breadth of the legal authority the president is claiming to use drones and other lethal force away from the battlefield," Anders said.

    "It's telling that there isn't a single country in the entire world that agrees with the U.S's claims of authority to use lethal force away from the battlefield. So the U.S. is on its own. My guess is if the rest of the legal opinions dealing with non-citizens were publicly disclosed we would find that they're even farther afield from where the law is and ... that is why they haven't been disclosed."

    In recent weeks, supporters of President Obama, including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and former Clinton administration official John Podesta, have urged the president to involve Congress and open up about the drone program and its justifications.

    Meanwhile, fresh polls show the drone strikes are increasingly unpopular with the public, potentially cutting into Mr. Obama's political strength in coming policy battles with Congress.

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    Leaked Drone Memo Creates More Questions Than AnswersCouncil on Foreign Relations: Targeted KillingsExploring Technology, Effectiveness, Consequences of Drone WarfareDoes U.S. Drone Use Set a New Precedent for War?

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    If you live along the mid-Atlantic from North Carolina to Connecticut, get ready to witness the loud and "spectacular" mating ritual of the cicadas. Photo by Michael Raupp.

    Sometime around Memorial Day, in the declining hours of daylight, swarms of male cicadas will rise up en masse from the soil, where they've lived for 17 years, sucking on plant roots underground. They'll emerge as nymphs, and begin shedding their exoskeleton in a process called "molting," revealing wings and an adult body. Then part flying, part walking, they'll start a mad dash up houses and trees to avoid predators. Once safe in the treetops, they'll spend the remaining months of their lives engaged in a chorus of mating calls, searching for a partner to help continue their gene pool. The females will follow shortly.

    "This is the tail end of their lives, but god it's spectacular," said Michael Raupp, a professor of entomology at the University of Maryland. "It's joyous. This last burst of glory is what they've been waiting for."

    Not long after mating, females will use an appendage on their abdomen to cut slits into the bark of pencil-sized branches, where they'll lay their eggs. And a couple months later, tiny cicada nymphs will climb out of these branches, dive bomb from the trees to the earth below, burrow underneath the soil, and start the 17-year-cycle all over again.

    While cicadas exist throughout the world, periodical cicadas -- the 17-year-variety -- are only found in the eastern United States. They are often mistakenly confused with locusts, but they're more like giant aphids, said John Cooley, a research scientist at the University of Connecticut. Locusts, for example, can do terrible damage to crops. Cicadas are mostly only seen as a nuisance for their noise.

    Cicadas emerge in swarms, as many as a million per acre, and they grow to 1.5 inches, about the length of a standard triple A battery. They have black bodies, red eyes and clear, cellophane-like wings. And in a populated area, their chirping reaches 100 decibels -- imagine putting your ear up to a lawnmower, or standing uncomfortably close to a jet engine.

    "It's one of mother nature's loudest noises," Raupp said.

    Only males make the noise, and they do so with sound-producing membranes called tymbals, attached to the sides of their bodies like drumheads. Females respond by clicking their wings together.

    The periodical cicadas are separated into broods, defined by geography and the date that they emerge. Brood 2, this year's brood, is expected stretch along the mid-Atlantic from North Carolina to Connecticut. Cooley, who has studied the insects since the nineties, has been preparing maps and a GPS system to track their distribution. He collects his own data, but also relies on citizen scientists to help crowd source the cicada maps. His aim is to understand how the species has evolved as the world's climate has changed.

    As the temperature warms, the nymphs will start building escape tubes to crawl out from the earth. But the internal trigger that prompts them to emerge won't activate until the temperature reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Once out, they're subject to heavy predation by birds, mice, skunks, foxes and raccoons. Any large mammal will eat them, Raupp said.

    "Their gig is to just be so abundant that they overwhelm the guts and gullets of their predators. Their predators can't eat enough to do them in."

    If they do appear on your property, Cooley advises against trying to kill them or use insecticide.

    "The most important thing to tell people is don't freak out," he says. "Don't try to kill them. Just sit back and enjoy the music, and they'll be gone in a month."

    QUICK BITES

    In time for the start of baseball season: engineering the perfect swing.

    From Reuters: A short cut to the International Space Station.

    "The skeletal remains of an individual living in northern Italy 40,000-30,000 years ago are believed to be that of a human/Neanderthal hybrid, according to a paper in PLOS ONE," Discovery News reports.

    Eye Drops are becoming an increasingly popular poison. One man stands accused of intentionally putting Visine brand drops in his girlfriend's drink. Another used the same method to poison his father's milk. The effects, once thought to be relatively mild and even humorous, are no joke, reports Wired Science.

    NOT SAFE FOR LUNCH

    From the New York Times: "This month, New Jersey declared victory in its war against the Asian long-horned beetle, an invasive, hardwood-eating insect that arrived on the shores of New York City in 1996, most likely on wood pallets."

    Photo credit: Swarms of cicada nymphs emerge from the ground. Photo and video by Michael Raupp.

    Patti Parson and David Pelcyger contributed to this report.

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    By M.V. Lee Badgett

    An economist looks beneath the same-sex marriage debate to the costs incurred by couples who can't marry, by regions that won't let them, and by the economy as a whole.

    Wedding photo in Times Square; photo by Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images Chris and Renee Wiley pose for a wedding photo on Times Square in New York, December 12, 2012. Same-sex marriage in New York state became legal on July 24, 2011.

    A Note from Paul Solman: I usually answer reader questions here on Friday. But given the visibility of the same-sex marriage debate this week, I asked one of America's foremost researchers on the economics of the subject to answer a question of mine: What's the bottom line on same-sex marriage? Lee Badgett was quick to respond.

    M.V. Lee Badgett: This week, all eyes were on the Supreme Court as it grappled with same-sex marriage in California and its non-recognition by the federal government. Heartwarming stories of the plaintiffs in these cases show the emotional and cultural side of what's at stake for same-sex couples. Those of us of a more practical nature, however, might want to know what the economic implications are.

    The first point worth noting is that marriage can make a big difference for same-sex couples' financial well-being. A few years ago, two New York Times reporters calculated that even ordinary same-sex couples could lose as much as $500,000 over a lifetime because they can't marry and therefore can't get employers' spousal health insurance, among other disadvantages. As a result, people in same-sex couples are much more likely to be uninsured than are people in different-sex couples. And if the uninsured avoid preventive care or get care they can't pay for, they wind up costing us all. Marriage also helps couples make economic decisions that create both private and social benefits, like investing for retirement, and looking after each other's health.

    On the other hand, the fact that governments and employers use marriage to dole out benefits makes some wonder if same-sex marriage equality would come with a price tag for state and federal budgets. For example, Edie Windsor sued the U.S. government because she had to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes when her wife died, all because their marriage didn't count under federal law. Recognizing her marriage would have meant less money for the government in federal estate tax revenue.

    However, more than a decade of research by myself and other economists and analysis by the Congressional Budget Office under the direction of Douglas Holtz-Eakin suggests just the opposite: that state and federal budgets will actually get a positive boost if gay couples are allowed to marry. Any additional state and federal spending on benefits would be outweighed by savings from lower cash assistance and Medicaid spending. Moreover, many same-sex couples would also discover - unhappily, one imagines - the marriage penalty in the federal income tax system, resulting in a likely increase in tax revenue.

    And here's something the government might consider in reckoning the bottom line with regard to legalizing gay marriage: Hundreds of thousands of excited couples would start planning weddings, generating at least $1.5 billion, by my calculations, in spending on flowers, cakes, bands, meals, photographers, hotels, tourism in general, suits and gowns (not to mention those one-off gowns for the members of the bridal party). And of course all those purchases generate millions in sales tax revenue for state and local governments.

    Those fairly obvious fiscal benefits just scratch the surface of what our economy might have to gain. Big corporations want same-sex couples to be allowed to marry because they believe gay marriage is good for business. Hundreds of employers large and small, including Google, Apple, Verizon, Walt Disney, Viacom, Nike, Morgan Stanley, and Microsoft, signed onto two friend-of-the-court briefs related to this week's Supreme Court arguments over challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8. Those employers argued that they want to recruit and retain the most creative and productive workers to make their businesses competitive, and that includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workers. They want their LGBT employees to be able to focus on their jobs, not on dealing with the stigma and inequality that creates problems for their families.

    But businesses can only treat their LGBT employees equally if the law lets them -- and these briefs argue that it does not. A gay man who lives in Massachusetts with his husband might not want to transfer to an office in Ohio where his marriage isn't recognized. The Defense of Marriage Act creates administrative nightmares for businesses who must, for example, withhold taxes on the value of a same-sex spouse's health benefits but not those for different-sex spouses. The companies filing these briefs argue that these are burdens on business competitiveness.

    The economic ripple effects of gay marriage can spread even further. Some observers, most notably competitiveness guru Richard Florida, argue that tolerant policies and environments -- including for gay people -- are essential for nurturing creative workers who will drive economic growth. By that reasoning, businesses, cities, states -- and maybe even nations -- that allow same-sex couples to marry will also send a strong signal to every worker that his or her talent and creativity will be valued.

    Admittedly, the same-sex couples challenging California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act are probably not thinking about how far their efforts will reach into our economy. However, their short walks down the aisle some day -- whether as a result of a Supreme Court decision or the changing tide of public opinion -- may well strengthen the very foundations of our economy.

    M. V. Lee Badgett is director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and is research director of the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. She was an expert witness in the Proposition 8 trial and is the author of "When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-sex Marriage?"

    This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown -- NewsHour's blog of news and insight. Follow @PaulSolman


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    A poor young boy from an impoverished village comes to a sprawling, wild, sometimes violent city, where he makes and loses a fortune.

    This is the tale of "How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia," set in an unnamed country very much like Pakistan, told in the form of a self-help book. Author Mohsin Hamid grew up and still lives in Lahore, Pakistan.

    Jeffrey Brown talks with Hamid on the NewsHour Friday. We'll post the full conversation after the broadcast.

    For now, you can watch their extended interview on Hamid's cross-cultural upbringing and education, and the importance of building fantasy worlds as a child.

    Watch Video

    Watch Mohsin Hamid read an excerpt from "How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia":

    Watch Video

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