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- 04/03/13--15:24: What Do Federal Spending Cuts Mean for Science and Researchers?
- 04/03/13--15:39: After 42 Years in Jail, Conviction Overturned in Case of Deadly Fire
- 04/04/13--05:18: Judy's Notebook | Mapping the Brain: "Something We Can All Cheer"
- 04/04/13--07:05: The Daily Frame
- 04/04/13--08:13: Live Chat: Gwen Ifill Answers Your Questions
- 04/04/13--09:47: Around the Nation
- 04/04/13--10:49: Assessing Your Risk of Alzheimer's Disease
- 04/04/13--11:01: A Libertarian Take on Economic Faith, 'Facts' and Follies
- 04/04/13--15:02: New Threats From North Korea; Missile Repositioned at Border
- 04/04/13--15:06: News Wrap: Connecticut Governor Approves New Gun Legislation
- 04/04/13--15:19: Estimating the Soaring Price Tag and Other Costs of Dementia Care
- 04/04/13--15:36: Sandra Day O'Connor Explores Supreme Court History, Inner Workings
- 04/04/13--16:03: Former INS Chief Talks Politics of Immigration Reform
GWEN IFILL: Now our continuing coverage on the impact of across-the-board federal spending cuts kicking in this spring in Washington and around the nation.
Tonight, Jeffrey Brown looks at what it means for science and research.
JEFFREY BROWN: In the world of science, the government is a big player disbursing money for grants and research. With most federal agencies set to see reductions of roughly 5 percent of spending, that will mean cuts for the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Energy, NASA, and other key players.
Matt Hourihan has been tracking the immediate and potential impact. He's director of the R&D Budget and Policy Program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
And welcome to you.
MATT HOURIHAN, American Association for the Advancement of Science: Thank you.
JEFFREY BROWN: Generally speaking, how big a deal is this in the world of government -- government-supported scientific research?
MATT HOURIHAN: It's a very big deal. It's a very big deal.
We're looking at roughly $9.5 billion dollars worth of R&D cuts this year as a result of sequestration. It's about -- those are cuts adding up to almost 7 percent. These are the largest cuts we have an actually seen in a single year in about 40 years.
JEFFREY BROWN: Those are big numbers. Explain to us how the funding works, and maybe through a specific example or two.
MATT HOURIHAN: Sure. Yes.
Well, there are a number of different agencies that have large science portfolios. So, each one of those agencies of course receives its funding from Congress every year. And there are a number of competitive grant programs and other mechanisms by which the federal government provides R&D funding to researchers at universities and elsewhere, and, again, generally through a competitive grant process and other mechanisms.
And sequestration essentially lops off about almost 7 percent of that funding that's available. So, you know, rather than the $140 billion dollars typical of federal R&D in recent years, we're going see more like $130 billion dollars.
JEFFREY BROWN: Going to see more. Are we seeing -- are they feeling it already? Are they taking action already?
MATT HOURIHAN: Some are. Some are.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
MATT HOURIHAN: For instance, we know NIH, National Institutes of Health, has ...
JEFFREY BROWN: Which is a huge player, right? We're talking a lot of money.
MATT HOURIHAN: Huge, huge player, yes. It's the largest non-defense funder of federal R&D in government, in life sciences specifically.
We know that they have -- they have said they are going to reduce funding for continuing grants by about 10 percent. That's going to continue. And what that means is that researchers at universities -- and NIH primarily funds university research -- researchers at universities are going to have to change their plans when it comes to their own research projects.
We're likely going to see fewer opportunities for postdocs and graduate assistants. So that's kind of -- NIH is certainly the big player. But there are many others as well.
JEFFREY BROWN: And does NIH control, make those decisions about where the money is going to go or not going to go?
MATT HOURIHAN: Yes.
NIH has a competitive peer review process. So a number of experts look at each proposal and rate them based on scientific merit. And so it does come down to NIH how many grants are going to be funded, what kinds of grants, what subject areas. What's not up to them is the amount of funding they have to distribute. That comes out of the Congress.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, the argument out there -- and we have heard it on the program many times, of course -- is that spending is out of control, that everybody has to take a cut, has to tighten their belt, this area as well as many other areas across the board in government. What's the response been to that in the scientific community?
MATT HOURIHAN: There's a couple responses.
For one thing, in the past few years, federal R&D has already declined by about 10 percent. We peaked at about $155 billion dollars in 2010. We're down about -- before sequestration, we were down about 10 percent from that high water mark. So we have already seen quite a bit of belt tightening on the part of federal science agencies and research institutions who are trying to plan their own project trajectories.
So we're kind of at a point now where there isn't a whole lot of fat left -- a lot of fat left to cut. And we're cutting past the fat into the muscle. The other thing I would mention is that sequestration only actually covers about one-third of the federal budget. Two-thirds of the federal budget, which is what's known as mandatory spending, entitlements, things along those lines, for the most part doesn't get touched by sequestration.
Yet, that part of the budget is what's actually driving deficit growth.
JEFFREY BROWN: And what -- would privately funded research not step into the breach at least in some cases of research?
MATT HOURIHAN: Probably not, perhaps to some extent. And there is a lot of talk in the university community about better partnering with private industry to help fund research.
The problem with that, though, is that private R&D is very different from public R&D. Private R&D, industrial R&D tends to be much more focused on product development. It's less risky. It's short-term. It's geared towards realizing returns in the near-term, whereas public R&D is much more focused on the kinds of basic and applied research projects that are much more longer-term in nature, high-risk, and, frankly, too risky for the private sector.
JEFFREY BROWN: Let me just ask you very, very briefly, is the research community gearing up to fight in this in some sense, or they have giving into it and they're preparing for ways to deal with it?
MATT HOURIHAN: Well, a little bit of both.
We have got to obviously prepare. There are a lot of, again, research institutions that are changing their plans. There are a number of universities that are -- we know are scaling back their admissions, given the specter of reduced funding.
At the same time, we do believe that what's needed is a more balanced approach to deficit reduction. And that's been the big problem so far.
JEFFREY BROWN: OK.
MATT HOURIHAN: So ...
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Matt Hourihan, thank you very much.
MATT HOURIHAN: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It's Science Wednesday online. Read about the impact of cuts on breast cancer experiments and research on rare diseases.
GWEN IFILL: The cheating scandal in Atlanta is prompting questions again about testing and whether public schools are too focused on teaching to the test.
But some places are trying new approaches.
The NewsHour's special correspondent for education, John Merrow, visited another school district in the South to see its model.
JOHN MERROW: Odds are students in Danville, Ky., are attending classes that do not look like the ones you remember. They're learning how to make a guitar, design a presentation, debate an argument, and more.
JADEN MAYES, Student, Danville High School: So, do you guys know what germs are?
JOHN MERROW: Jaden Mayes and her classmates created a project for their science class, using glitter to teach preschoolers how germs spread.
JADEN MAYES: So there are going to be our germs. You are going to act like these are germs, OK? So Haley sneezed in her hand, and now she's -- and she didn't wash her hands, and now she's going to shake hands with everybody. So shake Haley's hand. Look at all the little germs.
JOHN MERROW: This is not just science.
JADEN MAYES: That's why you got to wash your hands.
JADEN MAYES: These seventh graders are learning another set of skills: creativity, communication and teamwork.
So you weren't just playing?
JADEN MAYES: No, we were actually teaching them a lesson in a fun way.
JOHN MERROW: Why make it fun?
JADEN MAYES: They would enjoy it more and it would stay in their minds because they would remember, oh, that was fun, I enjoyed that.
JOHN MERROW: This seemingly simple lesson is an example of something far more complicated called project-based learning. It's one of many changes happening in a school district that wants to spend less time testing and more on what is now being called deeper learning.
Only about one percent of schools nationwide are committed to this approach. Danville is a small district with just 1,800 students, 60 percent of whom live in low-income households. But it's got big plans. Danville wants to do something that few, if any, traditional school districts have ever done: transform teaching and learning in every classroom.
For this to work, everything and everyone has to change. Parents have to get on board. Teachers need to learn new ways of teaching. Students must adapt to new ways of learning. And test scores can't be ignored. If they go down, the reforms won't last.
Parents are often the hardest to convince that change is necessary, but not in Danville.
KATHY MERRYMAN, Parent: We were a part of a group of parents who came together and said, enough is enough. We want better for our students.
JOHN MERROW: School reform is usually a last resort. Things get so bad that schools have no other option. Although Danville's test scores were below the state average, the state isn't making them change. Danville wants to do things differently.
MICHAEL STRYSICK, Parent: The world is changing. And I think as -- as our kids get older and then try to take on leadership positions, just knowing facts and information isn't going to help them.
KELLY RANKIN, Parent: Teachers are -- are taught, are forced to teach to the tests. I want my kids to do well on the SAT and ACT. I want them to be in the top 10. But what I really want, I want them to be successful after they get out of college.
JOHN MERROW: When we met up with Kelly Rankin's son Jacob, he was learning to make a rocket.
JACOB RANKIN, Student: I love building. I love designing. And I might want to be an engineer when I grow up. I don't know yet. I'm just a freshman.
KELLY RANKIN: It started out as a nice little project. But by the time he was done, he could tell me all the equations that went along with it.
JACOB RANKIN: There's going to be problems that you would never even think of, and the teacher, he will, say I don't know. What do you think?
KELLY RANKIN: Knowing how to solve a problem or take a project and say, I don't know all the -- the answers to this, but I know how to work with other people to come to a solution, that's a life skill.
JOHN MERROW: Based on our quick survey, parents seem enthusiastic about Danville's plan for reform. But how do teachers feel?
DANNY GOODMAN, Teacher, Danville High School: It's fun. The kids like it. And the teachers like it. Being active, you know, the kids get to do stuff.
JOHN MERROW: Danny Goodman teaches high school physics.
DANNY GOODMAN: Today, they were doing math. They were calculating -- we were talking about the standard frequency of a given guitar string. And then they have got to then calculate the different positions of the different frets in order to get different frequencies. So, hopefully, this feels like fun and they don't even know they're learning.
Are they learning? Yes. I feel like they're probably learning more than they ever would just sitting there hearing me tell them about a certain section of the textbook.
JOHN MERROW: It may be fun, but it's also a lot more work. Most teacher training doesn't cover project-based learning, and so teachers like Andrew Groves are learning on the job.
ANDREW GROVES, Teacher, Danville High School: Project-based learning is something that I wasn't as familiar with until I really came here. And as a new teacher, they said, well, why don't you give it a shot? Make one of your geometry classes project-based. So I said, OK. Well, let me talk to some teachers who have done it.
JOHN MERROW: These 10th and 11th graders are creating city layouts and learning basic geometry in the process.
ABBY SALLEE, Student, Danville High School: We learned lines, like transversal lines, congruent lines, parallel lines. We also learned like slope, like Y=MX+B and how you have to graph that to get your city to come together.
ANDREW GROVES: Being able to demonstrate mastery visually rather than A-B-C-D on a multiple-choice test really shows that depth of knowledge. It pushes them to look for more real-world applications in mathematics.
JOHN MERROW: But coming up with content-rich projects that students like isn't easy.
ANDREW GROVES: It's a tough job. It's something that I'm still learning. I'm learning as I'm going.
DR. CARMEN COLEMAN, Superintendent, Danville Schools: I think it's fair to say everyone's going to have to change, yes. And everyone has, to some degree, or some have gone.
JOHN MERROW: She's not kidding. Since Carmen Coleman became superintendent in 2009, about 40 percent of the teachers have left the district, some by their own choice, some shown the door.
CARMEN COLEMAN: This is not for everybody, but this is the direction that we're moving.
JOHN MERROW: It seems to be the right direction. Danville's math and reading scores on state tests are up substantially. But Danville is not ready to celebrate.
CARMEN COLEMAN: We still are in this other system. And we have to follow the rules of the old system.
JOHN MERROW: That's the fourth and final hurdle, the tests. Teaching and learning seem to be changing in Danville, but the state is in charge of testing. So Danville students are expected to work in teams, communicate effectively and learn to think critically, but still be able to do well on the state's bubble tests.
DANNY GOODMAN: Tough to play both games. It takes a lot of time for kids to discover something. It's very quick for me to say, this is what it is. Give it back to me tomorrow.
And so right now, the tests are built on a breadth of -- you know, a wide scope of curriculum. If you're going through that discovery method, where the kids are discovering it themselves, it's going to take more time. And so you might not be able to get through as much, but you can get through it in more detail.
JOHN MERROW: The state tests breadth, but Danville wants depth.
Would you just as soon get rid of those state tests?
CARMEN COLEMAN: Yes, I really would.
JOHN MERROW: The district would rather be held accountable by its scores on the ACT, a national test similar to the SAT that's recognized as a good measure of college readiness.
JOHN MERROW: So you're really asking for your own set of rules.
CARMEN COLEMAN: We are. We are a little. We are asking for our own set of rules.
JOHN MERROW: That could happen. In the next few weeks, Kentucky may designate Danville a district of innovation, which could give it more say over how its students are evaluated.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A deadly fire at an historic hotel, a guilty verdict for a teenager, and now, more than 40 years later, freedom for the man convicted of murder.
LOUIS TAYLOR, Newly Released from Prison: This is the tale of two tragedies, man, you know, the 29 souls, poor souls that lost their lives there, and my conviction.
JUDY WOODRUFF: For Louis Taylor, today was the first day in more than four decades that began outside a prison cell. Taylor had been behind bars since he was a teenager, convicted of starting a fire in 1970 at Tucson's Pioneer Hotel that left 29 people dead. Now 58, Taylor was released yesterday as part of a plea deal with prosecutors, after new evidence surfaced questioning his guilt.
MAN: How do you plead, guilty, not guilty or no contest?
LOUIS TAYLOR: No contest.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Taylor maintained his innocence today. By entering a no-contest plea, he gained his immediate release, but he also gave up the opportunity to seek compensation from the state.
LOUIS TAYLOR: I wasn't going to give them another minute, another hour, another decade. You know, I wanted out. The whole world knows I'm innocent.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Prosecutors said yesterday they still believe Taylor is guilty, but cited factors that would make a new trial difficult.
BARBARA LAWALL, Pima County Attorney: Both the arson review committee and the Tucson Fire Department investigators concluded that, because of the lapse of time, the evidence no longer being available, the fact that some of it was degraded, some of it was missing, some of it had been destroyed, that the cause of the fire could not be determined at this time.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Taylor's release came just days after a follow-up to a 2002 "60 Minutes" report cast doubts as to whether the fire was, in fact, arson. Taylor's lawyers alleged that prosecutors committed misconduct in the original trial by neglecting to inform the defense team that no accelerants were found at the hotel.
For more on this story, we are joined by Richard Ruelas. He is a reporter with the Arizona Republic and he was in the courtroom yesterday.
Welcome to the program.
Remind us, why was Mr. Taylor, Louis Taylor, convicted in the first place?
RICHARD RUELAS, Arizona Republic: He was there at the fire that night.
He was there at the fire that night, December 1970. He told us today he was going there to attend some parties, maybe get some free food and drinks. He was kind of a juvenile delinquent in the area and known to police. The fire starts, and he ends up helping people out of the hotel. But as police are looking for suspects, he made some odd statements. He couldn't quite explain what he was doing at the hotel. They found matches on him.
And police took him in for several hours of questioning and arrested him.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And then what was the new evidence that ultimately caused the law enforcement system to give him this chance to get out?
RICHARD RUELAS: It's not so much newly discovered evidence, but a new way of looking at the evidence.
The science of fire has changed so much since 1970. One fire expert told me this week that the old way of determining arson was pretty much guesswork. But science had determined ways of finding out when there's a flashover fire, and things that might have looked like arson before now might have been caused by an accident or something else like that.
So experts now looking at the evidence, his defense attorneys say, would have not been able to say it was arson and might have determined it being an accidental fire.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And as we just heard, Richard Ruelas, the prosecutors still say they believe he's still guilty. He insists he's innocent. So, does a cloud hang over this from now on?
RICHARD RUELAS: Well, there's a gap between being able to take a case to court and prove it beyond a reasonable doubt and being able to actually exonerate somebody.
Legally, he is a convicted felon, and he has the legal responsibility for what happened. His no-contest plea allows him to maintain his innocence, but it has the legal weight of a conviction. He says that he didn't do it and that he was wrongly convicted, and there's a lot of evidence around the trial of withholding of the lack of accelerant being found. Prosecutors didn't tell that to the defense.
They might have jumped to a conclusion that it was Louis Taylor based on his race, was one allegation, and the faulty science about the arson. Then again, there are people who will say Louis Taylor made a lot of inconsistent statements to police, and there were those books of matches he had on his person that are kind of unexplained.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tell us what it was like in the courtroom yesterday.
RICHARD RUELAS: It really seemed to open up some wounds for the relatives of victims who were in the front row of the gallery of the courthouse -- the courtroom.
One of them chose to make a statement on behalf of all 29 victims. He said he didn't want them to just be a list of names. He was four years old when his father died in the fire. And he let Louis Taylor know he bore no ill will against him, and he hoped that he didn't waste his new beginning.
Taylor told us today that during the hearing, he wanted to hug that man, but his lawyers told him he needed to kind of maintain. And he said he wanted the hearing to be over with as soon as possible because, as he heard -- as you heard him say on the clip, he didn't want to give the state of Arizona one more minute, one more hour of his time.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Other than the sheer drama of this case, what is the importance of it?
RICHARD RUELAS: Well, if this conviction was overturned based on faulty science from the '70s and -- from the '70s, there's other arson cases from the '70s and '80s that might be reexamined under the light of the new ways of looking at fire science.
So there might be more of these cases coming down the pike.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And what happens to Louis Taylor? He's been in prison for 42 years. I read that he had very few family members. I guess just a niece was in court yesterday. What happens to him? Is there a system to help him acclimate back to the real -- to the rest of the world?
RICHARD RUELAS: There is no formal system, because, you know, in -- the Department of Corrections, if they know you're going to be released, might help you reacclimate.
But the attorneys who worked on his behalf to get him out have kind of turned into ad hoc social workers over the last few weeks, trying to set him up with a place to live in Phoenix and try to help him reacclimate himself. This is a man who was a grade school dropout. He spent a lot of years in juvenile detention and reform schools. He was called incorrigible.
And he spent his adult years behind bars. And he said he picked up a lot of really bad habits doing so. And this was a man who didn't ever think he would really face the possibility of release. So he learned some skills behind bars. He learned how to be a barber. He was a seamstress for a while. And he learned how to be a medical technician. And he's going to have to hope that employers look beyond what is a felony conviction and maybe give him a chance at getting a job.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Remarkable story.
Richard Ruelas, thank you very much.
RICHARD RUELAS: Thank you. Good evening.
GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight, to the latest in our series on high school dropouts, this time through the words of the bard, William Shakespeare.
Nearly half of all students experience some sort of bullying. A University of Virginia study last year showed the more bullying in a school, the lower its graduation rates.
In Colorado, actors and educators are teaming up with an unusual solution.
Jeff is back with the story, part of our American Graduate project.
WOMAN: Prospero had been wronged. He seethed. He burned. He wanted revenge.
JEFFREY BROWN: Shakespeare's Prospero, one of the great characters in world literature, is a man with good reason to seek retribution. And as "The Tempest" begins, he's conjured up a storm to shipwreck his brother and the king of Milan after they had wronged him.
In one reading of the 400-year-old tale, it depicts a classic cycle of violence, where the victim becomes the perpetrator of evil deeds, that is, until this moment in the play, when Prospero realizes there is another choice.
WOMAN: The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance. They being penitent, the sole drift of my purpose doth extend not a frown farther. Go release them, Ariel.
JEFFREY BROWN: This was the Colorado Shakespeare Festival on a recent visit to Thornton High School, just north of Denver, presenting an adaptation of the play with a very specific goal: as part of an anti-bullying program aimed at reducing teen and preteen violence.
Director Tim Orr says using Shakespeare is a natural choice.
TIM ORR, Director, Colorado Shakespeare Festival: Shakespeare is an expert in violence. There is so much violence in all -- and intimidation. And he explores every possible way, family violence, nation violence, kings and queens, husbands and wives, power, husband and wife, children and parents.
The thing about -- that Shakespeare does so well is, he always shows the moment of choice that these characters had. They could have gone that way or they could have gone this way. And if you keep going this way, this is what eventually happens.
JEFFREY BROWN: The idea was conceived two years ago by the theater group in conjunction with the University of Colorado's Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence.
By the end of this school year, nearly 150 schools will have participated, involving 30,000 students from all grade levels.
Beverly Kingston, who heads the center, says the idea is to get students thinking and talking about the various roles people play in bullying situations.
BEVERLY KINGSTON, University of Colorado, Boulder: It's so amazing that Shakespeare wrote this so long ago, but there really is a place in it for everyone, for the -- there's characters in the plays that have -- that are more the bullying type. There's some that are the victims, some that are the bystanders. And so it really lends itself to a conversation about all those roles.
JEFFREY BROWN: Last year, the program featured "Twelfth Night," with the tormented character of Malvolio, servant to a rich countess.
Crystal Eisele is one of the actors.
CRYSTAL EISELE, Actor, Colorado Shakespeare Festival: Poor Malvolio gets bullied beyond belief. He's asked to wear crazy things. He's given a note from people who say it's from somebody else and so and so likes you. This happens all the time in schools. Right? He's mercilessly teased for that.
JEFFREY BROWN: These days, of course, it happens in forms not known to Shakespeare, including cyber-bullying. And in this version of "Twelfth Night," that harassing note arrives on Malvolio's cell phone.
WOMAN: Alas, Malvolio, this is not my writing.
JEFFREY BROWN: After the hour-long abridged performances ...
WOMAN: What is somebody had gotten in trouble for something that they shouldn't have been doing or whatever?
JEFFREY BROWN: ... the actors lead small group workshops to get students to role-play modern-day scenarios.
WOMAN: And this is the parking lot after school. No physical contact, though, but I want to see it. You ready? Hit it, guys.
STUDENT: Man, I will kill you. You almost got me caught! I'm going to get in trouble. You know what my dad's going to do to me?
CRYSTAL EISELE: Within the workshop, we then focus on, so, what in your world, what do you guys see? What issues do you guys see that you are dealing with that -- where the cycle of violence is continuing or bullying is happening? And we ask them first, what do you know works?
TIM ORR: These are basic, basic acting exercises that we have taken into the classroom and applied to this situation. And that's all acting is, is taking situational material, changing the outcome, making choices. Why did you make this choice?
JEFFREY BROWN: Ninth graders Stephen Banks and Jade Trujillo said they could very much relate well to the characters in the tempest.
STEPHEN BANKS, Student: I think if everyone just chose virtue, it would be way better because, like, it's the better way to go, because if you get revenge against someone, it's just not going to fix anything. It's going to make you feel bad and it's just escalate into something worse.
JADE TRUJILLO, Student: Like how Ariel told Prospero that he should forgive him -- them, his brother and the king, it's like one of those things where if you see someone -- like something happening to somebody else, you should probably stand up and like tell them to leave them alone.
WOMAN: We are such stuff as dreams are made of.
JEFFREY BROWN: Thornton language arts teacher Cheryl Newey says she's under no illusions that a two-hour Shakespeare session will change a school climate overnight. But she thinks it's a useful tool to encourage students to speak up.
CHERYL NEWEY, Teacher, Thornton High School: Ironically, the kids that were outspoken in the breakout session were -- are kids I would label sort of our kids that are on the fringe. And I thought that was very interesting, that they felt comfortable in this type of setting raising their hands and asking James many questions, and whereas many of the kids that are probably more popular, they were quiet.
JEFFREY BROWN: Crystal Eisele says she is often approached by students who say the workshop has helped them realize they have other choices than violence. She described an encounter with one young man earlier this year.
CRYSTAL EISELE: He said, “I saw myself in that character in ‘Tempest,’ that Ariel character, that is trying to make everything better, but at the same time is enslaved.” And he gave me some specifics about his world and what was going on with that and what he was doing to solve some of the situations.
WOMAN: As you from crimes would pardoned be, let your indulgence set me free.
JEFFREY BROWN: It's certainly not the first time Shakespeare has been adapted to speak to contemporary issues. And the program's creators say they're hopeful that theater companies in other cities will adopt similar programs.
GWEN IFILL: American Graduate is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
While much of the country's news "diet" this week has been filled with stories about North Korea, the debate in the U.S. over guns, and the college basketball finals, I was fixed on a story about that most mysterious of human organs -- the brain. President Obama staged a White House ceremony to describe an ambitious project his administration is launching to map the brain and better understand how it does its job.
The United States started working on putting a man in space in the 1950s under President Eisenhower, followed by President Kennedy's goal of a man on the moon, culminating with the first American astronauts to make that 475-thousand mile round-trip safely in 1969. What an exciting time that was. Unlike some huge advances that grew out of the private sector only, like the light bulb and the telephone, government investment and organization were essential to the Apollo program and its sister projects like the shuttle and the international space station.
Government was also instrumental in the launch of the Internet, which began as a communications system established during the Cold War. So it is the government that's going to be putting up the biggest share of money -- some $100 million in the coming fiscal year -- to join with a few private or nonprofit medical centers to do what National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Frances Collins told my colleague Ray Suarez in February. "Right now, we can measure the activity of a single brain cell, a neuron, and see when it fires, or we can look at the whole brain in pictures...MRI scans, PET scans," Collins said. "But a big intermediate zone there where you want to understand entire circuits in the brain and how they function when the brain is actually doing something, that has been out of our reach."
Collins summed it up: "...let's be clear. The brain is the most complicated organ in the universe. We have learned a lot about other human organs. We know how the heart pumps and how the kidney does what it does...we have read the letters of the human genome. But the brain has 100 billion neurons. Each one of those has about 10,000 connections. So that means there's something like 1,000 trillion connections inside your brain...right now." More than mapping, Collins and other scientists and physicians want to find out why the brain sometimes doesn't work right -- what happens in Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, autism and traumatic brain injury, as well as countless other neurological problems people have.
As the mother of a grown son with a traumatic brain injury, I couldn't be more excited about the prospect of finding out how to repair even a small part of the damage that changed his life. Perhaps it will come in time to make a difference for him. Certainly it will come in time to help others in the future with similar injuries. President Obama made the goal sound long overdue when he announced the initiative at the White House this week. "As humans we can identify galaxies light years away, we can study particles smaller than an atom; but we still haven't unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter between our ears."
Unlocking a mystery that will lead to easing a world of heartache. That's something we can all cheer.
The residents of the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia, with its large military presence, are on edge: sequestration is going into effect.
Sequestration is the term for the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts the federal government must make by September, including $42.7 billion in Defense Department cuts.
According to the above video report from WHRO correspondent Cathy Lewis, which aired March 28 on the PBS NewsHour, the Navy had to cancel a six-month deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in order to reach its spending reduction targets, giving the 5,000 sailors just a few days' notice.
"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," retired Adm. Craig Quigley of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance told Lewis.
The government also is expected to make cuts through temporary unpaid leave, or furlough days, for some civilian employees. Trying to ease the blow, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently announced that civilian Pentagon employees would be furloughed for 14 days, rather than 22 days as originally planned, and that furloughs would be delayed until June.
Before the sequestration deadline passed, and Congress was still struggling to make a budget deal to avoid the mandatory cuts, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told Judy Woodruff Feb. 20 on the NewsHour that in addition to furloughs, sequestration meant cutting back on military training for conflicts other than Afghanistan.
"By the end of the year ... two-third of our Army units, active-duty Army units and all of our reserve units will not be ready to fight other wars," he warned.
We'll publish a selection of stories here on the Rundown.
Read more about sequestration cuts in this Washington Post report.
The Council on Foreign Relations describes how the budget got to where it is today in this Debt, Deficits and the Defense Budget backgrounder.
See all of our military and world coverage.
Click to enlarge.
On the table: all things politics.Chat with Gwen Ifill of Washington Week and the PBS NewsHour
Here are four arts and culture videos from public broadcasting partners around the nation.
Idea Channel asks, "Will Kickstarter Replace Hollywood?" "Although it's funding is nowhere NEAR the amount Hollywood invests in moviemaking each year, crowdfunding is a way better indicator of what the audience wants to see, the one area Hollywood has failed in time and time again. Will Kickstarter put an end to the Hollywood system?"
The PBS Online Film Festival wrapped up its second year: "For three weeks you let us surprise you with 25 films that garnered more than 300,000 views and more than 21,000 votes. Now it's time to reveal the winners."
From NYC-ARTS, a profile of the Dance Theatre of Harlem: "Dance Theater of Harlem opened in 1969 with rave reviews, but after 35 years in the limelight, debts forced it to shut down the company for eight years. Now Dance Theater of Harlem is back, bringing the best classical ballet to audiences around the world. NYC-ARTS visited its studios and spoke with the company's members."
Watch Profile: Dance Theatre of Harlem | NYC-ARTS Profile on PBS. See more from NYC-ARTS.
From PBS Digital Studios' "Inventors" series, a profile of Mark Setteducati, "a magician and artist who uses principles of mathematics and illusions in the toys and puzzles he invents. He's also a founder of the Gathering For Gardner, a biennial celebration of the life of mathematician and writer Martin Gardner. Here he talks about how math and magic influence him as an inventor."
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor sat down with Judy Woodruff last week to talk about her new book "Out of Order." A collection of historical anecdotes about the nation's highest court, O'Connor -- the court's first female justice -- said she wrote the book because "people know really very little about the court" despite its great significance.
O'Connor, who retired from the Supreme Court in 2006, offered a few insights into the behind-closed-doors decision making of the Justices. When asked about the court's role in the 2000 Bush v. Gore decision, O'Connor said she didn't think it was the court's perceived role to do the explaining of a political nature. "They aren't politicians, they aren't running for reelection, and what they do need to explain is the legal reasoning for a particular decision."
She also acknowledged that while the issues at stake in any given case always have important consequences, no matter how the Justices cast their votes: "You don't want to offend anyone, particularly. But the decisions in many cases will bother a great segment of the public, of necessity."
But, for those looking for glimpses into how she makes up her mind, O'Connor doesn't mince words. As for her own "judicial philosophy" O'Connor says: "I'm not on the court anymore so no use looking for my philosophy. If somebody's waiting for that, they can wait for another justice."
A new study shows that Americans spent as much as $215 billion on care for dementia patients in 2010 and that costs are rising steeply.
Alzheimer's disease can't be prevented or cured, and it ranks second only to cancer among diseases that people fear. Still, a study last year found that about two-thirds of respondents would want to know if they were destined to get the disease.
Although there are no definitive tests that predict whether most people will get the disease, people sometimes want such information for legal and financial planning purposes or to help weigh the need for long-term-care insurance. The cost of the disease can be staggering, as a new national study suggests. The researchers found that Americans spent "$41,000 to $56,000 per case, with a total cost of $159 billion to $215 billion nationwide in 2010," and those costs are rising steeply.
Current tests to identify the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease when no symptoms are present provide only limited information, and health insurance generally doesn't cover them. But that's not stopping some people from trying to learn more.
Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, gradually robs people of their memory and other intellectual capabilities. Most of the 5 million people who have Alzheimer's developed it after age 60. In these cases, the disease is likely caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. About 5 percent of Alzheimer's patients have inherited an early-onset form that is generally linked to a mutation on one of three chromosomes.
Research suggests that the brain may show signs of Alzheimer's decades before obvious symptoms appear. Scans can identify the presence of beta-amyloid, a protein that is often deposited in the brains of people with the disease, for example. Changes in proteins in the blood or cerebrospinal fluid may also be associated with Alzheimer's disease.
But tests to measure these changes are available only in a research setting, and insurance typically doesn't cover them. James Cross, head of national medical policy and operations for Aetna, says his company "does not consider blood tests or brain scans medically necessary for diagnosing or assessing Alzheimer's disease in symptomatic or asymptomatic people because the clinical value of these remains unproven."
Genetic testing is somewhat easier to arrange, but insurers generally won't pay for it, either.
In addition, genetic counselors caution that long-term-care insurers may use genetic testing results when evaluating whether to issue a policy. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act prohibits health insurers and employers from discriminating against people based on their genetic information. However, life and long-term-care insurers are not covered by the law.
"Before anyone has genetic testing, they should get life insurance and long-term-care insurance," says Jill Goldman, a certified genetic counselor at the Taub Institute at Columbia University Medical Center.
Genetic testing for late-onset Alzheimer's involves one gene, the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene on the 19th chromosome. The gene comes in three different forms -- E2, E3 and E4. Everyone inherits one form, or allele, from each parent. Having one or two of the E4 variants can increase a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease three to 15 times.
About half of those who develop late-onset Alzheimer's, however, don't have any E4 alleles at all. Genetic testing in asymptomatic people therefore isn't definitive or even all that informative, say experts. For late-onset Alzheimer's, "the predictive value of genetic testing is low," says Mary Sano, director of the Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.
But sometimes people want information, even if it's inconclusive.
Brian Moore, whose father died of Alzheimer's at age 89, wanted to know more about his genetic risk for the disease. Moore, 48, was better equipped than most to understand the testing: A neuropathologist who co-chairs the department of pathology at Southern Illinois University's School of Medicine, he has performed hundreds of autopsies on the brains of people who died of Alzheimer's disease.
Moore contacted 23andMe, a company that for $299 offers a genetic analysis of a person's risk for more than 100 diseases and conditions, including Alzheimer's, based on the APOE gene. The company sent him a specimen kit with a container for saliva collection that he then sent to a lab for analysis. About six weeks later, he logged on to the company's Web site and learned that he has two E3 alleles, the most common variants, which means that his Alzheimer's risk is average, at least as it relates to the APOE gene.
"It was reassuring," he says. "I know it's not determinant, and environment and lifestyle also play a role. But at least I have that base covered."
The National Society of Genetic Counselors and the American College of Medical Genetics practice guidelines recommend against direct-to-consumer APOE testing for late-onset Alzheimer's, in part because of difficulty interpreting the results.
Ashley Gould, 23andMe's vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer, says that if people want help understanding their results, genetic counselors are available. The service is available by phone for a fee based on the level of service.
But in the case of the APOE gene, some experts say, the information isn't all that helpful.
"The things we know that really impact the disease are related to lifestyle," says George Perry, dean and professor of biology at the University of Texas at San Antonio, who is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. "Be mentally and physically active, eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. These reduce the risk of developing the disease by at least half."
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
Still from a John Papola-produced rap on saving vs. spending, a la Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes. Thursday's post is round three in the debate between Papola and his opponent, economic historian James Livingston. Image Courtesy of John Papola and Russ Roberts at EconStories.tv.
By John Papola
A Note from Paul Solman: America must save and invest. No, that's "the nonsense of austerity." This debate rages in Washington today as it has since the 1930s, when economists John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek squared off in the economics fight of the century. We reprised it on the PBS NewsHour in late 2009 with Keynes biographer Robert Skidelsky in one corner and a tag team of libertarians - economist Russ Roberts and master video maker John Papola - in the other. (This was also the debut of the libertarians' brilliant and notorious Keynes vs. Hayek video rap, 'buked and scorned when word first got out that such a thing was about to appear. I've included some details at the bottom of today's post.)
But savings vs. spending -- Hayek vs. Keynes -- remains as sharp a divide as ever and was vividly debated on PBS NewsHour, during the holiday season, when Papola released his latest economics video, "Deck the Halls with the Macro Follies" and economic historian James Livingston tried to refute it by taking me Christmas shopping at New York's Grand Central Station.
The two men then continued to duke it out here on the Making Sense Business Desk in pugnacious posts in March: Papola's "Consuming Our Way to Prosperity is Macro Folly" and Livingston's counterpunch, "The Nonsense of Austerity."
Here is round three of debate. John Papola takes on Livingston in particular and economics in general. Expect Livingston's retort soon.
John Papola: As a filmmaker and entrepreneur with a passion for economics, I find inquiring into how nations become wealthy absolutely exhilarating. Along the way, I've discovered that some of the deepest insights into how civilization develops are not only found within the work of early writers like John Stuart Mill, David Hume and Adam Smith, but that these insights have largely been lost today. That early generation of classical liberal thinkers sought to combine their economics with a broader view of humanity and social interaction. They are important not because of some geeky canonical reverence or nostalgia, but for the richness of their understanding and its continued applicability to our world today.RELATED CONTENT John Papola: Consuming Our Way to Prosperity is Macro Folly
Ironically, none of the foundational greats in the history of economic thought could get into Harvard University's Ph.D. economics program today.
This is not because of radical advances in our understanding of economics. To paraphrase Milton Friedman, we have only advanced one step beyond David Hume in our understanding of economics. Rather than advance real understanding, the economics profession, bewitched by a century-long envy of the physical sciences, has collapsed into an esoteric and pointlessly hyper-mathematized maze of confusion. The result is an economic mainstream so disconnected from reality that we must resurrect 1800s debates over whether consumption, which by definition uses up our wealth, can somehow increase society's supply of wealth as a result.
We are living in a dark age of economic understanding.
Professor James Livingston's response to my holiday EconStories video and Newshour editorial, "Consuming Our Way to Prosperity is Macro Folly," encapsulates how, starting with a mistaken methodology, the modern economist can end up in bedlam.
That Livingston holds to a different approach than I do about how an economy grows, and perhaps what "an economy" even is, is not the only reason. Yes, I believe he's wrong. Increased consumption is never a path to prosperity, but a result of it. His insistence that using up valuable resources can mysteriously produce plenty as if by a perpetual motion machine is certainly part of the problem with today's mainstream views.
He disagrees. No problem. There have always been pointed debates about these issues for centuries and always will be. But it is the means and methods of his disagreement which cause me such concern for the state of the profession.
Too Much Politics in Political Economy
Mr. Livingston kicks off his rebuttal with a politically-charged round of ridicule complete with a barrage of buzzwords like "austerity," "trickle-down" and "Reaganomics" whose sole purpose is to rile partisan fervor in the reader. My argument was thus hand-waved away as mere "faith" in classical economics with the assertion that "no amount of evidence" can shake me of my baseless dogma.RELATED CONTENT James Livingston: The Nonsense of Austerity
This is a strange start considering the substantial evidence I put forward drawn directly from respected economic historians, and mainstream data sources, for both the Great Depression and Great Recession in support of savings and investment as the key drivers of growth and the business cycle. What's especially ironic is that I provided more actual data about consumption, investment and employment for both major events via links than Mr. Livingston, whose "massive evidence" is dominated by an error-filled historical narrative about which theories came into vogue at the turn of the century.
More unfortunate, though commonplace in today's economic discourse on both the "left" and "right," is the attempt to undermine the opposing view through ad hominem and guilt by association. My argument has nothing to do with "Reaganomics." In fact, understanding the central role of saving and investment in value-adding productivity by no means requires that one be a "libertarian," or fan of free markets.
Consider a recent Huffington Post piece by progressive economist Jeffery Sachs in which he assails "crude Keynesianism" of the sort put forward by Mr. Livingston. Sachs writes "crude Keynesians believe that for all intents and purposes, 'spending is spending.' ... Spending is not spending. The U.S. needs productive public investments, not wasteful spending."
At the core of Mr. Sachs' assault on crude Keynesianism and its fixation on aggregate demand is a view fully consistent with the Law of Markets: real growth comes from value-adding investment and production. That he believes the public sector should (or could) play a larger role in that investment is a separate issue.
Are we to believe that Jeffery Sachs has been indoctrinated by dogmatic "faith" in "Reaganomics" or even "libertarianism"? I think not. There's no political or philosophical dogma necessary to understand and appreciate the Law of Markets. Growth is created by value-adding production and investment either from the private sector or the public sector, not consumption or consumer spending. The arguments for which institutions have the knowledge and incentives to excel at creating value, rather than wasting or destroying it, are another matter.
I see Mr. Livingston's approach as symptomatic of our new dark age of economics. Today, even Nobel Prize-winning economists often seem to spend more time calling other people names and proudly exclaiming how they ignore opposing points of view than taking other arguments seriously and at face value.
What We Know That Isn't So
The truth is that there's a great deal of "faith" that goes into ALL macroeconomic analysis, particularly work like Mr. Livingston's which purports to derive results purely from the "data."RELATED CONTENT Keynes-Hayek Rap Video Goes Viral! Non-economists Worldwide Infected!
On second thought, perhaps "faith" isn't the right word at all. Bias is the word. Without any strong way to test macroeconomic analysis against a real counterfactual and see what would have happened had there been different policies or behaviors, economists have turned to sophisticated mathematical modeling in their efforts to look more scientific. As economist Ed Leamer noted, there's a lot of "con" going on in "econometrics." The process of building these models is rife with biasing judgment calls about how to input and manipulate the "data."
When studying any complex system, especially an entire economy, there is essentially an infinite amount of "data" from which to choose. Attempts to tease out correlations often fall victim to confirmation bias. With such "data," seek and ye shall find.
A rapidly growing economy also exhibits rising levels of personal consumption. Is the growth enabling the consumption or is the consumption causing the growth? Good luck getting an answer from nothing but the "data." And that assumes that the data has been accurately measured in the first place, a far-from-safe assumption.
Theoretical assumptions color even the choices and methodologies through which various "data" is collected, often leaving gaps which an alternative approach may require.
In fact, especially in modern macroeconomics, what is often talked about as "data" isn't even really data at all. It's just computer simulations. When the Congressional Budget Office attempted to determine the impact of the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act "stimulus" legislation, which was dominated by temporary transfer payments aimed at encouraging consumption spending, they concluded that the program "increased the number of people employed by between 0.4 million and 2.4 million."
First off, that's a six-fold range of potential impact. Not so precise. Second, it's obviously far below the predicted outcome at the time the legislation was passed, as the now infamous stimulus employment projections graph reminds us.
But most importantly, it's a fiction. It's a computer-generated fabrication. The CBO didn't actually gather the "data" showing who received stimulus money and how many people were hired as a result to come up with these numbers. Rather, they collected new total employment and output data, comparing it against the total money actually spent and re-ran the computer models with their so-called "multipliers" to guesstimate how reality may be different from an alternative world where the stimulus wasn't passed. This "data" has been cited as the primary defense of the stimulus and "proof" that the policy "created jobs." That's not real science. It's computer games.
Macroeconomists have a very special kind of "faith." They hold to a belief in their models even when the predictions of those models fail.
All of this is happening now in our modern era of ubiquitous global real-time data. One can only imagine how error-prone the data from the early 1900s must be. Mr. Livingston claims that, based on the "data," something changed in 1919 such that, simple economic logic be damned, consumption became the engine of growth. But our national income accounts were developed after this period, in the 1930s and 40s. And as I wrote previously, even these metrics feature problematic categorizations and assumptions that render them quite limited for our understanding of what actually generates economic growth. Older data is even more prone to error.
Consider Mr. Livingston's reference to "the long slump of 1873 to 1896." There is considerable debate over this period, particularly because it was marked by deflation which post-1930s economists had reflexively (and incorrectly) come to associate with depression. New estimates indicate that real GDP grew steadily throughout the period. Since increasing output in a world with stable money (such as under a gold standard) will lead to lower prices through competition, the period saw rising output AND falling prices. At least, that's what many economists who study the period now believe.
Again, given the nature of this data, it's hard to know for sure. And that's the point. In economic analysis, the "data" alone isn't enough. We must combine the best data we can find with logical and behaviorally sound theories about the way the world works and then seek to falsify them.
In considering these ideas it's important to note that, when looking back at the pre-Fed era, economies did grow rapidly and recover from recession without a central bank or active government intervention on behalf of stimulating recovery. This indisputable fact is easy to forget in our modern dark age of macroeconomics.
When Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek were lonely voices in the wilderness, carefully laying out their economic and behavioral theories for why socialism and central planning would prove unsustainable, what was believed to be the "data" suggested they were wrong.
Paul Samuelson was including graphs in his famous economics textbook that showed gross national product in the Soviet Union eventually exceeding the United States. From 1948 until 1990 this bullish prediction for the U.S.S.R. continued, though the projected date for Soviet economic domination kept being pushed farther and farther into the future without any note about the prior error. And Samuelson wasn't alone in the economics profession in his bullishness, though there's strong indication that ideology played a role. These were the mainstream textbooks.
In the end, the faux-scientific economists and their mathematical models were wrong while Mises and Hayek were right. The Soviet Union was revealed to be a house of cards able to launch satellites into space only at the expense of poverty and slave labor for the mass of their people. Central Planning came at the expense of private planning and individual efforts, devastating the real living standards of the people while the planners built their rockets.
Did Samuelson or his colleagues publicly renounce their methodology in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse? Have the champions of fiscal stimulus admitted their model was wrong in the face of significantly higher unemployment than their forecasts?
As I said, we are living in the dark ages of macroeconomics.
Know The Other Side
Mr. Livingston fundamentally misrepresents the classical debate and the law of markets, demonstrating a lack of understanding about that which he criticizes. He claims that classical theory asserts that "the production of goods always generated enough income in the form of profits and wages to pay for all the goods produced -- to clear the market at remunerative prices." This is objectively false.
The law of markets is emphatically NOT "supply creates its own demand." There was never any question among economists in the classical tradition about whether recessions or systematic business losses could or did occur. In fact, the law of markets was the classical foundation for understanding why recessions occurred in the first place.
David Ricardo noted that "men err in their productions. There is no deficiency of demand." His point was simple: if goods are collecting on the shelves it's not because of "overproduction," but because the wrong goods were produced and thus could not be sold at remunerative prices. The solution was to restructure production. And as I noted, the classical economists, from Hume through Hayek, also understood how reactionary hoarding of money could make a bad situation worse. Today's "market monetarists" like Bentley University economist Scott Sumner, who surely cannot be accused of ignoring monetary effects on the economy, are merely an extension of this classical tradition. No classical economist of any significance denied the possibilities of recession the way that Mr. Livingston posits. In fact, there is a massive body of business cycle literature devoted to classical explanations of recession fully rooted in the classical law of markets.
Moreover, Mr. Livingston's intense focus on consumer spending even puts him at odds with Keynes himself. Keynes' framework was developed in response to the volatility of investment and its impact on growth and employment. Yes, his proposed solutions were underconsumptionist, advocating even preposterously wasteful expenditure as stimulus, and his methodology was blindingly over-aggregated to the point where he failed to distinguish between value-creation and value-destruction.
Yet Keynes was within the broad classical tradition and the broad and ongoing historical record in building a theory around booms and busts in investment activity. Which brings me back to one of the key pieces of empirical evidence which falsifies Mr. Livingston's thesis that consumption drives growth: the actual pattern of growth and employment over time.
As we've seen time and again, consumption is relatively stable throughout the business cycle yet growth and employment still fluctuate with changes in investment. The 2001 recession is of particular interest because growth declined and unemployment rose even through consumption never faltered. How can this be the case if consumer spending drives the economy? Why is investment spending so important to the business cycle?
Why does every significant business cycle theory in the past 100 years, including Keynesianism, focus on investment volatility as a core empirical issue to understand if consumption is the driver of our economy? Mr. Livingston has yet to engage this question.
And no, hand-waving these concerns away as "short run" considerations isn't sufficient. What is the "long run" if but a series of "short runs"? Bad policies today will make us poorer tomorrow.
Mr. Livingston has also ignored the work of economic historian Robert Higgs regarding the impact of investment on the Great Depression. He points to fast growth rates in 1933-1937 as proof that investment doesn't matter, failing to take into account that 1933 was the trough of Great Depression. What caused the turnaround in 1933? Many modern students of the Depression, including former Obama economic adviser Christina Romer and Bentley's Scott Sumner, point to the devaluation of the dollar, which finally ended the Federal Reserve's deflationary spiral, not some sudden increase in consumption.
If not for a change in monetary policy, then a sudden increase in consumption spending surely begs the question: where did these consumers get the money? And that is the most simple, yet most crucial question Mr. Livingston ignores. The core logic and insight of the law of markets is that our ability to demand goods and services from the market is enabled by our supply of valuable goods and services at remunerative prices.
In short, we have to earn an income before we can have an income to spend. Mr. Livingston denies this, claiming "Commodities are not ultimately bought with other commodities, regardless of what John Stuart Mill said. They're bought with money, the universal commodity."
How, sir, does one acquire this universal commodity? Is it not through providing goods or services to others or getting it from someone who does? How does the passage of time between earning an income and spending it change the fact that someone must first earn it?
Despite the enormous changes and global complexity of our modern monetary economy, production and exchange continues to underlie it all. Money is an important component of any macroeconomic story, but its role in economic growth is purely one of aiding exchange.
Our real incomes are best understood as the actual goods and services we ultimately consume, not the pieces of paper that help us do it. For if economic growth were as simple to generate as creating "demand" out of thin air, the path to universal prosperity would be as simple as matching our unlimited human desire with a hefty printing press. Global history of inflationary collapse from China to Interwar Germany to Zimbabwe has shown that this approach truly is the worst of all macro folly. We can't consume our way to prosperity.
I fear that the economics profession, once a bulwark against popular economic fallacies, has now become a net drag on society and our collective understanding of the world. Not the economic way of thinking, which in its simplest form remains powerful and empowering. Not every economist. But the profession as a whole. As economist Arnold Kling recently put it: "It is a self-perpetuating, in-bred, smug, narrow guild." These are harsh words from a member of the guild. But there's truth in them too.
Early Reaction to the Keynes vs. Hayek Video Rap: Scorn
Paul Solman: Because libertarian John Papola is a master of economics video-making, we have featured his work early and often on PBS NewsHour and The Business Desk, though when his John Maynard Keynes vs. Friedrich Hayek video rap with economist Russ Roberts debuted here in late 2009, it was anticipated with derision.
As the estimable Bruce Bartlett wrote in a blog post, Roberts was booked for the story as the counter to Robert Skidelsky, noted Keynes biographer and enthusiast.
But why Roberts instead of Richard Rahn, the conservative economist we had initially asked?
"Because he was prepared to make his points in the form of rap," wrote Bartlett. "I'm not making this up. For a segment on the economics of John Maynard Keynes, this news program found someone who apparently has produced a rap video on the subject ...The absurdity of being rejected for an economist who brings bling, babes and limos to the table was bad enough. The idea of making a rap video about Keynesian economics made it even more absurd."
Four million page views later, the Keynes-Hayek video rap -- "Fear the Boom and the Bust" -- may well have become one of the most popular lessons in the history of macroeconomics. The visual punchline tilts toward Hayek as Keynes gets progressively drunk in the video. But as Lord Skidelsky himself said at the time of the Keynes portion: "Absolutely fair and brilliantly rhymed. It's not a complete account of Keynes but it seems to be completely right."
JEFFREY BROWN: There were new rumblings from North Korea today, as it tried to bolster its latest threats against the U.S. by moving a missile with -- quote -- "considerable range" to its eastern coast.
The announcement of that move came from South Korea's defense minister. But he also said that the missile wasn't capable of reaching the United States.
DEFENSE MINISTER KIM KWAN-JIN, South Korea: As I see its firing range, it is not aimed at the U.S. mainland. We're closely monitoring North Korea. We haven't found any signs of all-out war, but we consider that its provocation is always possible and we are ready for it.
JEFFREY BROWN: Pyongyang's newest provocation is part of its ongoing rallying cry against joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises on the peninsula and a reaction to the U.N. Security Council's renunciation of the North Korea nuclear test in February. State television broadcast North Korea's latest threat against the United States.
WOMAN: We will cope with the U.S. nuclear threat with a merciless nuclear attack. And we will face this infiltration with a justified all-out-war. This is our military and our people's unchangeable stance. The U.S. and those followers should clearly know that everything is different in the era of respected Kim Jong-un.
JEFFREY BROWN: That response comes after the Pentagon announced yesterday it deployed a land-based missile defense system to Guam in response to North Korea's escalating military threats.
And for a second day, the border to a shared factory park in North Korea remained closed to workers from the South. Some South Koreans were finally able to return home from the Kaesong Industrial Park. They expressed concerns that heightened tension between the two countries was trickling down to employees still at work.
WOMAN: I'm nervous, of course, since travel was suspended. I hope it would be normalized soon. Both South and North Korean workers are all nervous.
JEFFREY BROWN: Kim Jong-un's escalating rhetoric and actions, including news the country would be restarting once-shuttered nuclear weapon production facilities, has come under fire from the international community.
Today, Russia's foreign ministry spokesman underscored North Korea's nuclear intentions were unacceptable.
ALEXANDER LUKASHEVICH, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman: We are categorically against Pyongyang's indifference to the U.N. Security Council's resolutions that form the base and the sphere of nuclear nonproliferation. This radically complicates, if it doesn't in practice shut off the prospects for resuming six-party talks to resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.
JEFFREY BROWN: And State Department Press Secretary Victoria Nuland said the U.S. wouldn't back down from North Korea's threats.
VICTORIA NULAND, State Department Spokeswoman: It is incumbent upon us to take prudent steps to defend the United States, to defend our allies, to be prepared for a necessary deterrence, et cetera. That is reflected in the moves that you have seen announced from the Pentagon, et cetera.
That said, we continue to make the case that it doesn't have to go this way. The DPRK could chose a different course.
JEFFREY BROWN: Despite the calls to defuse hostilities, North Korean state television again aired undated footage of mass rallies against the U.S. and South Korea. Marchers chanted anti-American slogans and carried banners reading, "Let's destroy our mortal enemy, the United States."
JUDY WOODRUFF: The heated rhetoric is being watched closely on a small South Korean island two miles from the maritime border with North Korea.
It is from there that John Irvine of Independent Television News reports.
JOHN IRVINE, Independent Television News: This remote South Korean outpost in the Yellow Sea paid the price the last time this conflict went beyond the slanging match.
Yeonpyeong Island lies just off the North Korean coast and two-and-a-half years ago, it found itself in the crosshairs of the rogue state. Four people would be killed. In a single brazen daylight bombardment, the North Koreans fired almost 200 artillery shells and missiles into this island. The South Koreans have preserved these bombed-out buildings as a permanent reminder of who they're dealing with.
This crisis has persuaded some residents of Yeonpyeong Island to leave. Those still here have been on edge, ever since Kim Jong-un was seen rallying his troops on a nearby North Korean island early last month.
The images of an adoring throng waving and wading through icy waters added to the world's amusement back then. How serious things have become since, with this region held hostage to the unknowable intentions of an inexperienced despot. These are dangerous, uncharted waters indeed.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The governor of Connecticut has now signed into law some of the toughest gun control measures in the nation. He made it official at a signing ceremony in Hartford, surrounded by family members of victims of gun violence, including December's Newtown school massacre. The new legislation will restrict sales of high-capacity ammunition clips, and expand the list of guns on the state's assault weapons ban. It also requires a background check for all firearms sales.
Gov. Dannel Malloy hailed it as a major step in the right direction.
GOV. DANNEL MALLOY, D-Conn: We have come together in a way that relatively few places in our nation have demonstrated an ability to do. In some senses, I hope that this is an example to the rest of the nation, certainly to our leaders in Washington, who seem so deeply divided about an issue such as universal background checks, where the country is not divided itself.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Other states like California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have also imposed tough gun control measures of their own. Congress is slated to take up gun legislation when members return from recess next week.
The U.S. announced today it is looking for ways to keep the hunt for a notorious African warlord on track. A recent change in leadership in the Central African Republic meant the search for Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, was suspended. But, yesterday, the U.S. State Department announced a new $5 million dollar reward for any information leading to Kony's arrest. His band of warriors abduct children and adults and turn them into fighters and sexual slaves.
Japan's Central Bank took a bold step today to stimulate its economy. The Bank of Japan announced it is flooding its financial system with money, buying more than $530 billion dollars a year in government bonds. The move is designed to get people and companies to borrow and spend more. Japanese stocks soared on the news, but the yen sank.
The Bank of Japan decision sent stocks on Wall Street edging slightly higher today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 55 points to close at 14,606. The Nasdaq rose six points to close at 3,225.
Those are some of the day's major stories -- now back to Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We update the story of Texas officials shot to death recently, as law enforcement investigates possible ties between the murders and a white supremacy group.
Mourners fill the First Baptist Church of Sunnyvale, outside Dallas, Texas this afternoon to remember Kaufman County district attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia. The couple was found shot to death inside their home over the weekend. Their murders came two months after the county's assistant district attorney, Mark Hasse, was shot and killed.
Before today's memorial service, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced he had doubled the reward to $200,000 dollars for information leading to arrests in both cases.
GOV. RICK PERRY, R-Texas: We cannot react with fear. We got to react with resolve. And our local, state and federal authorities are pursuing every lead, exhausting every line of inquiry in a relentless pursuit of those who are responsible for these crimes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: No suspects have been identified, but some attention has turned to a state prison gang, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. On Tuesday, the assistant U.S. attorney in Houston who was to head the prosecution in a 2012 case involving 34 members of the white supremacist group stepped aside from that role. He cited security concerns, according to an attorney for one of the defendants.
RICHARD ELY, Defense Attorney: I understand why someone would want to step back. And it makes sense to me, especially people that have families.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The indictment, tied to federal racketeering charges, was announced last November. State officials later issued a warning that the group was -- quote -- "involved in issuing orders" to inflict mass casualties or death to law enforcement tied to the case.
McLelland was part of a multiagency task force involved in the investigation. And in Colorado, police continue the search for those tied to the murder of the state's prisons chief, Tom Clements, who was gunned down last month. Ex-convict Evan Ebel was one of the suspects. He was killed two days after Clements' death during a shoot-out with police in Texas. Colorado authorities are now looking for two other men, both associated with the white supremacist prison gang the 211 Crew.
For the latest on what is unfolding in Texas, we turn to Tanya Eiserer. She's a reporter with The Dallas Morning News.
Tanya Eiserer, welcome to the program.
Tell us what the latest is on these cases.
TANYA EISERER, The Dallas Morning News: Well, as you can imagine, they're still -- authorities are still working around the clock on this investigation. They have not identified a suspect. In fact, they have no solid leads about any particular individual or individuals, which is, of course, of great concern given the nature of these assassinations.
JUDY WOODRUFF: When you say no solid leads, literally no evidence at all?
TANYA EISERER: Well, I know people involved in this investigation and they're running down hundreds of leads. There are many leads coming in regarding the Aryan Brotherhood. There are many leads coming in regarding possible cartel involvement, as well as other people that were prosecuted by that office.
But they don't have any evidence that says this is the person or this is the -- the people that might have done this. So it's -- from what I'm gathering from talking to people just last night, one official said to me, it's a whodunit.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So the only connection then at this point to the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, with this prison gang, is this threat that came out a few months ago?
TANYA EISERER: Well, it's a little more than that.
Yes, there was the threat that came out in December. There have been -- there has been some leads that investigators have been following about the Kaufman County office. They had prosecuted a fairly major case last year involving a high-ranking Aryan Brotherhood member. And so there have been some tips that perhaps it's linked to that case, but to say that they have developed solid evidence of it, I can't say that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tell us a little bit more, Tanya Eiserer, about the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.
TANYA EISERER: Well, they're obviously a very violent group. They were formed in Texas prisons in the '80s.
They modeled themselves after a California group. They are primarily involved in meth dealing, and they are known for being particularly brutal in the way they do their business.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And active, obviously, inside the prisons, but what's the evidence or what's their record outside prison?
TANYA EISERER: Well, in the indictments that were handed down in Houston, those involved a number of murders outside of prison, and, in fact, very vicious murders.
And they also -- within those indictments, there were a number of threats that involved law enforcement and threats to kill law enforcement. And in that -- in the Kaufman County case, those involved a pretty brutal kidnaping where one -- this captain wanted to kill this guy because he wanted out of the group.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tell us, do you know any more about this Houston assistant U.S. attorney that's recused himself or said he is not going to part of this anymore?
TANYA EISERER: Yes.
He basically sent an e-mail to all of the attorneys that were involved in that investigation -- in that case Tuesday morning telling them that he had decided to remove himself from the case, and he cited security concerns.
I spoke to a number of the attorneys in that case and they said that he didn't -- he wasn't specific about what those concerns were.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So it's not known whether there's any connection to the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas or any other particular group?
TANYA EISERER: Well, he's obviously involved in the prosecution of the Aryan Brotherhood, so obviously he must have some concern.
Now, the question is, did he receive a specific threat? We don't know. But what some law enforcement officials have told me is they're really concerned that when you start having prosecutors drop off cases, that sends a really bad message to the criminals out there.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there any sense that there may be more law enforcement officials who take themselves out of this investigation, out of this process?
TANYA EISERER: We haven't heard any reports of that. I have had a number of people who -- who simply don't want their names in the paper. People in the past that would have been fine with having their names used, there's a lot of concern.
People don't know -- obviously, you had the McLellands killed and Mark Hasse killed, but we don't know, are there are other targets out there?
JUDY WOODRUFF: And you mentioned the cartel. I assume you meant Mexican drug cartel or criminal cartel earlier.
TANYA EISERER: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tell us what's known about any involvement they may have in this.
TANYA EISERER: Well, there have been some tips related to the Mexican cartels and perhaps that some of the cases that Kaufman County had prosecuted might have some -- might have some cartel involvement.
Kaufman County was known to be a district attorney's office that was very tough. I mean, they didn't cut sweet deals. They pretty much went to the mat. So there were a lot of angry criminals out there who could have had reason to want to harm someone in the DA's office.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, tell us a little bit about the additional security that is being provided law enforcement officials in the wake of all this in Texas.
TANYA EISERER: Yes. They have around-the-clock security on many -- on the members of the DA's office, and not just them, the judges in Kaufman County, the other elected officials out there.
And you have to question and you have to wonder how long can it continue? Because, obviously, around-the-clock security is very expensive. But what I'm hearing from the people involved in this investigation is that it is going to have to continue for some period of time because we don't know who is doing this and why. And are there other targets?
JUDY WOODRUFF: Tanya Eiserer with The Dallas Morning News, we thank you.
TANYA EISERER: Thank you.
JEFFREY BROWN: And now the rising toll from dementia economically, medically, and emotionally.
A study by the RAND Corporation published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine estimates the cost of caring for Americans with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia between $157 billion and $215 billion dollars a year. On a per-person basis, that translates into $41,000 to $56,000 dollars annually.
The costs include direct medical spending, informal family care, lost productivity and long-term care. The latter accounted for 84 percent of total costs. And the problem is growing fast. The costs and number of people with dementia are expected to more than double within 30 years.
We explore the findings and implications with two experts, Dr. Ronald Petersen, the director of the Alzheimer's Research Center at the Mayo Clinic, and Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, which is part of NIH. His institute financed the new study.
Dr. Petersen, let me start with you.
First, define dementia for us. What does that encompass?
DR. RONALD PETERSEN, Director, Alzheimer's Research Center, Mayo Clinic: Well, dementia is an umbrella term that involves individuals who have a problem usually with memory and with other thinking skills that is of sufficient severity to affect their daily function.
So that's dementia. Now, under dementia, we look for a variety of causes of the dementia. And in aging, in 70- and 80-year-old individual Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of the dementia.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, Dr. Hodes, why the very -- why the rise -- why the very steep rise? Not just a rise, but it's a very steep rise. Why is that happening?
DR. RICHARD HODES, Director, National Institute on Aging: Well, the principal factor responsible for rise is the increased number of older people who are at risk.
Age is, in effect, the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. And due to successes in public health and many other aspects of our environments, we have generated an increase in life expectancy. More people grow to be old and therefore become at risk for Alzheimer's disease.
JEFFREY BROWN: So the good news is that we live longer, but as we do it, this is part of the bad news?
RICHARD HODES: That's precisely right. And that's why there's such an imperative for us to do something about it, to make sure these projections, which assume that we're not going to be able to interfere, to slow the progression of Alzheimer's or prevent it is not the case.
And so we focus a great deal of attention now on research with, I must say, a great deal of optimism as well as hope in finding ways to prevent ...
JEFFREY BROWN: OK. But before we get to that, I want to focus a little bit more on the study, Dr. Petersen, because this study looked at the costs. And that's the kind of news here is the ballooning costs. Where are those costs rising the most?
RONALD PETERSEN: Well, the costs are a combination of direct costs to the medical care system and then informal costs in terms of nursing home care, long-term care, individuals being cared for at home.
And it's really the latter aspect that really escalates the costs for dementia care over the upcoming years. The medical costs rise as well because people with dementia will cost the system more than people without dementia for other medical illnesses like diabetes, but the real cost increase comes from the care that these individuals require, either at home or in a nursing home environment.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, Dr. Hodes, some of that care especially at home would come from family members. And we have an aging baby boom. It's part of what you're talking about with the number, the increased number of aging people.
RICHARD HODES: Exactly.
Although we recognize what direct costs mean, the costs that are consequent to people who stay at home and provide care or the loss of income from those who can no longer be productive is huge. And as you're suggesting, with the baby boom generation moving on, we are going to have a larger and larger number of older people.
And because families tend to be smaller and demographics are in that direction, there are going to be fewer children, people who are able to sustain the roles that are traditionally those of caregivers, so fewer people to take care of more people and an aging population with Alzheimer's disease.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, let me ask you. You started to talk about some of the diagnosis and treatment. Where are we in terms of effective diagnosis and treatment?
RICHARD HODES: Well, the past years have seen really remarkable progress in a number of areas.
For example, we are able through studies of brain imaging and other biomarker studies to detect some of the early processes in Alzheimer's disease years and even decades before symptoms appear. And this has given hope that it may be possible to test interventions at that early stage before a great deal of damage has been done in the brain and be more effective than we have been to date.
JEFFREY BROWN: Hope, but where are we in the process? Are we just at the hope stage or at early research? Or what do you tell the millions of people who might be facing this?
RICHARD HODES: Research, as it needs to, is over a spectrum, from the most basic.
But it includes the initiation of clinical trials, which for the first time are testing interventions, treatments at this very early stage before symptoms. So in the years to come, we will be learning about whether they are effective or not and have real reason to hope that we may exceed the past disappointments.
JEFFREY BROWN: Dr. Petersen, fill that in a little bit. How do you see that, the situation for research? And what are the particular challenges of research and treatment in something -- over something like this?
RONALD PETERSEN: Well, as Dr. Hodes says, the current drugs on the market are what are called systemic drugs. So they treat some of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
But what we really need to have an impact on this disorder is to have disease-modifying therapies. And there are many of these, 50 to 100 at any given time that are under investigation by a variety of biotechs, pharmaceutical industry. And these trials are ongoing, and it just takes one two of these to hit to actually have an impact on the underlying disease process that will affect the numbers that we have seen in this study from the RAND Corporation.
JEFFREY BROWN: Let me just stay with you for a minute, because I'm imagining that many people watching this have personal connections or concerns about this. What do people look for? I'm going back to the definition of dementia in a sense. What should people look for in themselves and in loved ones when you talk about short-term memory loss, long-term memory loss?
What are the signals?
RONALD PETERSEN: Well, one of the areas of progress in the last few years has been our ability to detect the disease at an earlier and earlier state.
So we now don't wait for the dementia stage, but we actually identify people at what's called the mild cognitive impairment stage. This is a stage in which people are forgetful, more forgetful than they used to be and probably more forgetful than they ought to be for their age, but otherwise their cognitive and functional abilities are preserved.
Nevertheless, when we marry these subtle memory impairments with biomarkers, we're able to detect those individuals who are at risk for developing the disease. So what families can look for is unusual, atypical forgetfulness in their family member.
So if somebody starts forgetting now information that they typically would have remembered without difficulty, a doctor's appointment, a golf tee time, things of that nature, and they start doing that on a repeated basis, doesn't mean they have Alzheimer's disease, doesn't mean they have mild cognitive impairment, but it may warrant an evaluation by their personal physician to see if there might be other interventions, treatable causes that could account for those symptoms.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, Dr. Hodes, coming back to the cost rise, whether it's personal cost or government cost, all kinds of institutional costs, what can be done? What can be done as a society? We just talked a little bit about individually.
RICHARD HODES: Well, the United States in the past two years has initiated a national plan, as have some other nations across the world, which is comprehensive. So it calls for action at the research level, but it also looks for ways in which clinical care of those affected and long-term care and support can be initiated.
So we're in a real era of improved coordination to address what are otherwise, as you have alluded to, just enormous problems.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, Dr. Petersen, a last word from you. What would you say? What can be done at this point?
RONALD PETERSEN: Well, I think the National Alzheimer's Project Act that led to the first United States plan for Alzheimer's disease is a major step in that direction.
This plan, which was announced last May, really outlines a blueprint for attacking this disease at the prevention level, at the treatment level, dealing with individuals and families who have the disease and how we are going to measure this as a federal government. So I think we're going in the right direction, and hopefully we will be able to muster appropriate resources for it.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Dr. Ronald Petersen and Dr. Richard Hodes,, thank you both very much.
RICHARD HODES: Thank you very much.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, online, you can learn more about genetic testing and your own risk for Alzheimer's. That's on our Health page.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And now to Kenya, a key U.S. ally.
During last month's elections, only one part of the country saw violence, the coastal region, where 12 people were killed by separatist insurgents. And the coast also suffers from a religious divide. It is a predominately Muslim part of an otherwise Christian nation.
Special correspondent Kira Kay recently traveled to the port city of Mombasa to explore the new tensions.
KIRA KAY: Saturday mornings, the Salvation Army Church in Mombasa, Kenya, is alive with choir practice.
Musical director Charles Muthama leads the rehearsal.
CHARLES MUTHAMA: We are very proud of this church. We are proud of the band. It is the only band in the coast, in the coast region.
KIRA KAY: The Salvation Army is a Christian congregation, nestled in the heart of a predominantly Muslim city. But Salvation Army church member Mary Ivusa says their faith had never been an issue.
MARY IVUSA, Salvation Army Church: hey are our neighbors here. Most of these houses you see here, they are Muslims. We have been here for many years, and we have never had problems with them.
KIRA KAY: But that changed in August last year. Hundreds of youths, angry over the suspicious death of their controversial Muslim leader, took to the streets and attacked the Salvation Army Church and several others in the city. Five people were dead. Dozens more were injured. Property was destroyed.
MARY IVUSA: I felt so bad. We had worked so hard. But in just a minute, everything we had done had gone to ashes. Band instruments were taken. Some of them were destroyed. Some of them even some of them were thrown on the roads.
KIRA KAY: The overtly religious nature of the violence was unprecedented in a part of the world once known for coexistence.
Besides its many mosques, cathedrals and temples dot Mombasa's streets. The city has East Africa's largest port and its historic Old Town is a magnet for tourists. But human rights groups say a perfect storm had been brewing here in recent years, starting with the longstanding unhappiness of coastal residents over neglect by the central government.
HUSSEIN KHALID, Muslims for Human Rights: There has been, you know, very clear discrimination and marginalization of the Muslim-dominated regions. That's a fact.
KIRA KAY: Hussein Khalid runs the group Muslims for Human Rights, or MUHURI.
HUSSEIN KHALID: If you look at education, for example, our region remains to be the one with the least number of schools per population if you compare the ratio. We have very poor infrastructure. And there's no other region that has more resources than coast, but, unfortunately, it receives the least from the central government.
KIRA KAY: While Mombasa's grievances are shared by residents of all faiths, Khalid says pressures on Muslims in particular have been stoked by Kenya's role in the global war on terror.
Kenya has been the target of major attacks, including the U.S. Embassy bombing in 1998. And it has become a significant player in regional stabilization, fighting against the al-Qaida-linked militants Al-Shabab in neighboring Somalia. There is evidence that Al-Shabab has recruited youth from Mombasa to fight against the Kenyan troops and it has bombed targets on Kenyan soil.
But, in response, local Kenyan police have sometimes employed strong-arm tactics that have come under criticism from international human rights groups.
HUSSEIN KHALID: Every other week, you hear of a raid, police raiding a home, probably harassing people. And then, a few hours later, they would come back and tell you, well, we didn't find anything.
And when a community feels when they are aggrieved, when they are harassed, then there's no way that someone will come to their aid, there's no way the law will be used to address their issues, then you feel completely helpless.
KIRA KAY: A main target of Kenyan investigators was controversial local sheik Aboud Rogo Mohammed. Known for his anti-government sermons and on U.S. sanctions lists for his support of Al-Shabab, Sheik Rogo worried many of Mombasa's other Muslim leaders, including Sheik Muhdhar Khitamy.
SHEIK MUHDHAR KHITAMY, Kenya: We knew that there was going to be -- we are headed for -- for bad things, because the youths were given -- the youths have got virgin minds. And, you know, they were given these ideologies by this preacher. And when this particular preacher was assassinated, right, then the sentiments came out.
KIRA KAY: On Aug. 27th, Sheik Rogo was shot more than a dozen times in broad daylight while driving down a Main Street. The Salvation Army Church was next to Rogo's mosque and became an easy target for followers who suspected Rogo was assassinated by Kenyan authorities.
HUSSEIN KHALID: The youths were against the states. The states, to them, is represented by the Christian faith.
KIRA KAY: Father Wilybard Lagho, the vicar general of Mombasa's Catholic Church, says he feared reprisal attacks from his own community.
FATHER WILYBARD LAGHO, Catholic Church: One needed only to attack a Muslim mosque, and it will appear like now it's a religious conflict.
KIRA KAY: Father Lagho convened an emergency session of a group he chairs called the Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics. Sheik Khitamy is a member of the council.
SHEIK MUHDHAR KHITAMY: We had to come out and condemn in the media, in the mosques. We went round the mosques, right, to preach peace.
It is not part of the Islamic tradition.
And we sat together. We had a series of meetings with the church leaders. We went to the public. And, you know, things went down.
KIRA KAY: Despite these successful efforts to calm the streets, Father Lagho believes radicalism has taken its toll on society here.
WILYBARD LAGHO: This relationship has been strained a lot, because on the part of Christians, they might not be able to distinguish whether this particular Muslim is a radical Muslim or he's a tolerant Muslim. And on the part of the Muslims as well, they may not be able to distinguish between an intolerant Christian preacher and the majority who are very peaceful Christians.
KIRA KAY: And so Lagho's council remains vigilant.
MAN: There is a breakdown of communication between the youth and the elder structure.
KIRA KAY: Meeting regularly to share intelligence from within each religious community and craft responses when tensions emerge.
WILYBARD LAGHO: The whole concept of interfaith, inter-religious dialogue is new. It's new in the world. It's new in Kenya. It's new in Mombasa. Some people view it like, are you trying to mix up religions? And that mind-set will change with time.
KIRA KAY: Sheik Rogo's assassination remains unsolved. Mombasa government officials declined our requests for interviews, but deny allegations of police brutality and say they have appointed a special counsel to investigate Rogo's murder.
But human rights lawyer Hussein Khalid is skeptical.
HUSSEIN KHALID: You cannot send the police to come and investigate a killing in which they are the prime suspects. We say this publicly. The police cannot investigate the police. The death of Sheik Rogo will remain a mystery for many years to come. That's for sure.
KIRA KAY: Khalid does put some hope in Kenya's new constitution. The country's recent election puts into office local senators and governors, who should have a greater say over coastal politics and resources.
In the meantime, MUHURI is focusing on at-risk youth.
Ruweidah Obama is an outreach worker with MUHURI.
WOMAN: One of the biggest churches around here was burnt by young people.
KIRA KAY: She says high unemployment and lack of education make the poor neighborhoods of Mombasa fertile recruiting grounds for Al-Shabab and other radical groups.
WOMAN: When you don't have anything to do, what will you do? You would rather join whoever is trying to push for issues of radicalization, so you would rather join the group in order for you to get some little cash to help your family.
KIRA KAY: To counter the lure of radical recruiters, MUHURI has teamed up with a local theater group to scare the youth straight that joining radical groups can lead to injury and shame.
MAN: I ask for forgiveness from you and dad, and promise as of today I will no longer burn churches, if you could just help me find a job.
MARY IVUSA: So this one was replaced. This is the new flag.
KIRA KAY: Back at the Salvation Army Church, congregants like Mary Ivusa considered their future.
MARY IVUSA: The soldiers we have here, we call them the soldiers, they like this place very much. And we always think maybe God has a purpose for us to stay here.
KIRA KAY: And so they picked up the pieces, repairing the damage and once again filling their hall with music, believing Mombasa's history of coexistence will prevail over current pressures.
JEFFREY BROWN: Kira Kay's story is part of our partnership with the Bureau for International Reporting and their series "Fault Lines of Faith."
JUDY WOODRUFF: Next: a look at the inner workings of the Supreme Court and her own approach to service there, as told by former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
I sat down with her recently to talk about her new book, "Out of Order: Stories From the History of the Supreme Court."
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, welcome back to the NewsHour.
FORMER SUPREME COURT JUSTICE SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR: Thank you. I'm honored to be here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So the book, "Out of Order," you suggested at one point that this was done in an effort to bring the Supreme Court to life for people who view it as a sort of distant, forbidding place, to make it more human.
Why did you think that was important?
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Well, I don't know that it is, but I think people no very little, really, about the court, how it works and its history. And both of those things are important in our country, but they're not things that most citizens know much about.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, you write -- you tell so many wonderful stories and you write about the court in the very early days when some of the justices were riding circuit on horseback.
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Yes.
That was a terrible and lengthy period of time for the court. Imagine being assigned from some distant place to be on the court, and then ordered to travel 90 percent of your time. And they had no trains, no buses, no airplanes. And they had to go horse and buggy or horseback, long distance.
JUDY WOODRUFF: It might have been a disqualifier today.
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Oh, it would have been horrible.
I think most people didn't want to do court duty.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You write about some -- you also write about some fascinating choices for the court.
Andrew Jackson picked one justice who ran for president four times while he was serving on the Supreme Court.
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Yes. Can you imagine? It was very different in those days. That's for sure.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In all your -- you did a lot of research for the book, Justice O'Connor.
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Was there -- as you looked at the presidents over time and how they made their choices for the Supreme Court ...
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: ... was there some -- was there a set of qualities or a set of judgments that you think lent themselves to better choices for the court than others?
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Well, yes. I can pick out a few grounds that would improve the chances of getting a good one, but I don't think that was primary in the case of most appointments.
I think a great many of those appointments were really influenced a lot by the political situation. They wanted to put somebody on that the president himself thought was politically a wise choice and wouldn't give him problems, by virtue of poor appointments. I think a lot of consideration was given to things like that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think that's still the case today?
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Well, maybe to some extent, but much less so.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You have spoken about this before, and that is the fact that American public opinion of the Supreme Court has declined. I mean, just recently, there was a poll that ...
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Apparently, it has.
It had historically -- for many years, it had been higher than that of the other branches. And in very recent polls, I have seen a rather steep decline. And it may relate a little bit to the Bush/Gore case and all the unpleasant publicity that that produced. I don't know.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think, in the after ...
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: You might have a better guess about it than I do.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But do you think, in the aftermath of that case and some other controversial cases, like the health care decision of last year on the president's health -- Affordable Care Act, that the court could do a better job of explaining to the American people why it did what it did, including in Bush v. Gore?
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: I don't think it's the court's perceived role to do some explaining of a political nature.
They aren't politicians. They aren't running for reelection. And what they do need to explain is the legal reasoning for a particular decision. That needs to be done. But it doesn't make for very exciting reading for people to read legal technicalities. But, often, it turns on that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think it matters how high the court is held in public -- in the public's regard?
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: I don't know. It matters to me, as a former member of the court. I like to think that the court will continue to be held in high regard by the public. I think it should be.
It's an institution that depends on making tough decisions in close cases for reasons that it explains well and that, in the past at least, have proven satisfactory to the public.
JUDY WOODRUFF: When it comes to sensitive cases, I notice that you did another interview recently with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And she asked you if you feel sometimes that the court's legitimacy is threatened.
And you answered -- and I'm going to quote -- you said, "It's always threatened if there's an issue out there on which public opinion is divided. You want to be particularly careful about how you decide it not to offend people."
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, my question is, how do you decide which group you don't want to offend?
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Well, you don't want to offend anyone particularly.
But the decisions in many cases will bother a great segment of the public, of necessity. Some of these decisions are drawn by pretty fine lines, and on the basis of legal arguments that don't have much resonance with the public.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So ...
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: So I think it's inevitable that some of the court's decisions will be found by a segment of the public to be not the right decision or subject to criticism.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So how much should a justice take that into consideration?
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Well, you can't.
You have to answer the question, like it or not. And the questions deserve a valid legal response, even if the response isn't one that will be easily understood. You have an obligation as a member of the court to do what you are bound to do under federal law, even if it isn't an attractive resolution from a public standpoint.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to ask you about you -- one of the things you write in the book, Justice O'Connor, is you write about women, the role of women, of course, as first on the court, the first woman justice.
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But you also write about the role of women as law clerks, very important ...
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Yes. Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: ... appointments by the justices ...
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Very much so.
JUDY WOODRUFF: ... and how there have only been -- I guess, recently, there have only been as few of a third of them were women.
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But more than half of the women coming out of law school -- of the students coming out of law school ...
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Are women.
JUDY WOODRUFF: ... are Women.
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Why ...
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: The number of law clerks ...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Why is that, though, that it isn't keeping up at the court?
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: I don't know.
But, historically, it took a long time before the court took any women law clerks. Finally, it did, but the numbers have never matched very effectively the percentages of law graduates out of graduating classes. We have far more than we ever did before and it's continued to grow, but it isn't a nice match yet.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Did you -- do you -- is it something you ever discussed this with other justices?
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Oh, I think it comes up on occasion, but not frequently.
Each justice hires their own clerks, and applications are made individually to the justices. It isn't a group decision.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Excuse me. I didn't mean to interrupt.
Was it something that was important to you to do, to bring in women law clerks?
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Very much so. Very much so.
I like to have a pretty even distribution, and did.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I have one last question, because one of the reviewers I was reading of your book said he's still looking for book from Sandra Day O'Connor that explains her judicial philosophy.
Is that a book that's coming?
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: I don't think so.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Why not?
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Because I think it's not necessary.
I'm not on the court anymore, so no use looking for my philosophy. If somebody's waiting for that, they can wait for another justice.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we will leave it there.
Former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, thank you very much for talking with us.
The book is "Out of Order: Stories From the History of the Supreme Court."
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: And I didn't want to be out of order answering any questions.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you.
SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you.
JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight, remembering the popular movie reviewer and television co-host Roger Ebert. He was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize.
He died today at age 70.
Hari is back with our remembrance.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Ebert was the longtime film critic for The Chicago Sun-Times and was syndicated to more than 200 newspapers. He also became well known for co-hosting a weekly show with fellow critic Gene Siskel. And, in 2005, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and spoke about his love for the movies.
ROGER EBERT, Film Critic: Movies are the most powerful empathy machine of all the arts.
When I go to a great movie, I can live somebody else's life a little bit for a while. I can walk in somebody else's shoes. I can see what it feels like to be a member of a different gender, a different race, a different economic class, to live in a different time, to have a different belief.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Ebert began a long battle with cancer in 2002. By 2006, he lost the ability to eat, speak and drink after surgeries for thyroid and salivary gland cancer. He continued to review and write about the movies and his own illness on his blog and on social media, where he reached a robust new audience.
On Tuesday, he announced on his blog that his cancer had returned.
For more, we're joined by David Edelstein. He's the film critic for New York Magazine and for NPR's "Fresh Air."
Thanks for being with us.
DAVID EDELSTEIN, New York Magazine/ “Fresh Air”: My pleasure on this sad occasion.
HARI SREENIVASAN: It is.
So, why was Roger Ebert's voice so large in the film industry?
DAVID EDELSTEIN: Well, it's a funny thing.
Most of us don't remember that, in Ebert's early days, he was a bit of a hell-raiser and a partier, went to the Playboy Mansion, drank a lot. He wrote about all this. But when he sobered up, he decided, I think, that he was going to be a public figure.
Now, most film critics are kind of private, twisted loners, myself included. But Roger almost styled himself an ambassador of the movies and a sort of mayor of movie criticville.
And when he got this show, when he started the show, he was able to, I think, frame certain discussions about the movies, frame his own responses in a way that become enormously appealing to great numbers of people, people who maybe thought of film critics as kind of Rex Reed types who would come on talk shows and drop insults and give their opinions.
Roger had this great gift for being able to speak in whole paragraphs. He knew from his topic sentence what his conclusion was going to be. And he was going to pull you into that, whether you were an elitist pointy head or just a guy wanting to be entertained. He could communicate with you what the joy of movies really was.
HARI SREENIVASAN: He started writing in '67. He won his Pulitzer in, what, '75.
DAVID EDELSTEIN: Yes.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Hasn't been on TV in a half-dozen years, but here's a guy who has got more than 800,000 followers on Twitter. How did he transcend these generations?
DAVID EDELSTEIN: Well, it's an amazing thing.
When he first started on TV, remember, he wasn't universally loved. He and Gene Siskel were people -- a lot of people tuned in just to see them bicker, because it was said that they kind of didn't like each other off-camera. And people referred to them derisively as the fat guy and the other one.
But, slowly, as people grew up with Roger, as new fans came of age, he in part -- also because of his Pulitzer -- managed to acquire a lot of authority, and to make film criticism serious on television, which it really hadn't been at that point.
Then, what was absolutely stunning was that his greatest gift was his voice, his ability to speak extemporaneously. When he lost that, he went and he reinvented himself. He turned himself into this amazing blogger, more passionate than ever, someone whose voice was infectious and who every day set an example for all of us in what to do when -- you know, when life gives you a lemon.
I think he wrote 1,000 times better after he lost his voice than he did before. In some ways -- in some ways, I mean, as terrible as, of course, it was, it was a blessing for him as a writer and a thinker that he could lay out his philosophy of life, his aesthetic and his politics in a way that he never had before.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what is it about that show that made it so successful? The two of them co-hosted it together for almost, what, 23, 24 years.
DAVID EDELSTEIN: Well, a lot of critics went on TV and talked and were not really challenged by anybody.
But they were very, very different people. You had Siskel, who was very prickly and scattershot and really, really kind of moody and not that much of an intellectual, and Roger, who was -- who managed to be very, very centered and to kind of keep the discussion on track.
And they taught us not just how to think about movies, which I think we knew how to do, but how to talk about them, so that we didn't just sit there and say, well, I liked it. Well, I liked it, too. Let's give it a yes.
They actually engaged with each other. They thought. They aired different world views, different personalities, different temperaments. And I think they created a template for a lot of shows that followed, none of them anywhere near as good as the original "Siskel & Ebert at the Movies."
HARI SREENIVASAN: Did getting a thumbs up or thumbs down actually have a measurable difference on a movie?
DAVID EDELSTEIN: Oh, sure it did.
I mean, look, the phrase two thumbs up has passed into the lexicon. There are people still nowadays who say, I give it two thumbs up, even if it's their own thumbs. Yes, you know, it was -- Roger often lamented that, you know, quote ads were all reduced to silly superlatives and adjectives.
And I once reminded him, to his great irritation, that as much as he wanted to see more intelligent quote ads, a lot of it these days was two big thumbs.
On the other hand, if you could win over Ebert and Siskel, you knew that there was going to be an audience.
Ebert -- you see, Ebert didn't think just about his own responses. And he didn't think about the history of cinema. I mean, he did, but first and foremost, he thought about you, the viewer at home. You know, what are you going to make of this? What is everybody going to make? What can we learn from this? How can we support this filmmaker or that filmmaker? It's really an inspiring legacy.
HARI SREENIVASAN: I mean, it seems even Facebook stole the thumbs up for the like button, right?
I want to ask ...
DAVID EDELSTEIN: He copyrighted it, though. He did copyright it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Did he really?
DAVID EDELSTEIN: Yes, he did. Oh, yes.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, I want to ask, what are you going to remember about him as a peer? Because I'm sure there's hundreds of movies that the two of you disagreed on. But when you read his work and compared it to your own, what is going to leap out at you?
DAVID EDELSTEIN: Well, I think the funny is, you know, Roger never really represented a certain aesthetic.
He wasn't -- his writing wasn't transformative, the way someone like Andrew Sarris or Pauline Kael was, people whose aesthetic we still argue about. As I said, what I remember about Roger was that public persona, that public dimension.
He reminded us that movies weren't just some private thing that we sat in the dark and were sort of bathed, bathed in the light of the screen, that they were -- that each and every one of us, our own responses, you know, were -- were a starting point for a larger debate, a larger cultural debate. What does this mean? What is this artist trying to do? How can movies transform all of our lives, teach us what it is to transcend our mundane reality?
That's what inspires me most about his legacy, not just even so much any individual things he wrote, although he was a fine writer. He was a lucid writer. It was the -- it was that -- it was that public dimension to what he did that is hugely important.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, David Edelstein, thanks so much for your time.
The fence that stands on the United States-Mexico border in Naco, Ariz. Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/ The Washington Post via Getty Images.
Doris Meissner sometimes gets accused of taking a pro-Democratic view in her current work as senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, which calls itself an "independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit" analyzer of migration issues worldwide.
But Meissner, a former official in the Clinton administration, ends up talking a lot about politics when the subject is potentially landmark immigration reform legislation now gathering steam in Congress -- a plan she said offers more benefits than deficits for the United States.
"This is now an issue of politics. The issues have been out there for a long time. This is an issue of coming to a political meeting of the minds," Meissner told the NewsHour this week in her office eight blocks from the White House.
The importance of politics in the effort to make fundamental changes to the nation's immigration policy comes as no surprise to Meissner, whose job it is to understand millions of Latino legal residents and the 11 million undocumented people living in the United States who could gain a path to citizenship under the proposal.
Meissner agrees with the prevailing analysis that Latino voters swung heavily toward President Barack Obama and other Democrats in November in large part because of a perceived anti-immigrant bent of former Gov. Mitt Romney and the Republican Party.
"Those of us working in this field have known for a long time the potential of the Latino vote being a pivotal election-changing vote has always been there," she said. "But it has been one of those population groups that's had lower voting rates."
Polls show that Latino voters were energized by the Democrats' support for immigration reform and the feeling that Republicans opposed it.
"We're talking about U.S. citizens. They don't have a stake in immigration reform in a way that people illegally in the county do, but they do have a stake in immigration reform because they are characterized as bad people in this political fracas, as people who somehow don't have a right to be here and that has been deeply offensive to Latino voters," Meissner said.
Meissner -- who was commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now Immigration and Custom Enforcement) for most of President Bill Clinton's two terms -- said the actions of Latino voters suddenly turned immigration reform from "an issue that had been a complete third rail into the issue that both parties could come together on."
And Meissner said the swing toward support for immigration reform extends to traditional Republican constituencies, notably in mid-Western and Southern states that have seen substantial increases in Latino immigrant residents in recent years.
"I think what's going on now in the Christian right and the evangelical world is extraordinarily influential. Because evangelicals and those churches and pastors have taken up this issue of welcoming the stranger and the values in the Bible that believers should be following. They have really embraced this and they are doing very savvy and sophisticated media campaigns in states around the country that are heavily influenced by the evangelical vote, explaining why immigration reform, why citizenship for people who are in the country illegally is consistent with religious belief and the values of those churches," said Meissner.
Meissner also notes the states immigrants have moved to have seen decreases in their own native populations, leaving many towns to rely on the new immigrants.
"Let's look just at the pragmatic side of that, which is that the evangelical movement's fastest-growing group are immigrants and Latino immigrants. So they're finding this in their own churches, they're finding in their own congregations people who do not have legal status. And they're confronting the hardships that that creates in their church community. That's powerful," she said.
But even if the political stars seem to continue to align for immigration reform, Meissner can imagine at least two scenarios that could impede the legislation - governors may balk at the costs of applying legal status to millions of undocumented people, or the sheer size of the undertaking.
"It's the quintessential devil in the details. The sweep of this kind of a bill is enormous. If a bill like this passes, this is going to be a project for our country for the rest of our lifetimes and beyond. This is [a] very substantial set of changes," she said. "So any of the particular features of it could -- because it then involves so many constituencies, so many political interests -- could bring it to unravel."