Articles on this Page
- 04/05/13--04:43: _Embracing Differenc...
- 04/05/13--05:26: _Two Million Childre...
- 04/05/13--06:00: _Bringing the Classr...
- 04/05/13--08:03: _Why Saving for a Ra...
- 04/05/13--08:32: _Timeline: North Kor...
- 04/05/13--09:30: _Parachute Blows in ...
- 04/05/13--09:34: _The Daily Frame
- 04/05/13--10:50: _Conversation: For P...
- 04/05/13--11:29: _Why We Should Treat...
- 04/05/13--11:35: _How Dismal Were Mar...
- 04/05/13--12:00: _Timeline and Maps: ...
- 04/05/13--15:02: _Discouraging Jobs R...
- 04/05/13--15:04: _Is New Technology C...
- 04/05/13--15:12: _News Wrap: North Ko...
- 04/05/13--15:16: _Within Syria, Milli...
- 04/05/13--15:24: _Judge Orders FDA to...
- 04/05/13--15:31: _Shields and Brooks ...
- 04/05/13--15:43: _Journalists Expose ...
- 04/05/13--16:05: _Shields and Brooks ...
- 04/07/13--11:02: _David Kuo, Former B...
- 04/05/13--04:43: Embracing Difference: Telling Other People's Stories Well
- 04/05/13--05:26: Two Million Children Endangered by Syrian Conflict, Aid Group Says
- 04/05/13--06:00: Bringing the Classroom to Jordan's Exploding Refugee Population
- 04/05/13--08:03: Why Saving for a Rainy Day is Pointless -- For the Economy
- 04/05/13--08:32: Timeline: North Korea Ratchets Up Pressure
- 04/05/13--09:30: Parachute Blows in the Mars Wind
- 04/05/13--09:34: The Daily Frame
- 04/05/13--10:50: Conversation: For Poetry Lovers, April Is Coolest the Month
- 04/05/13--11:29: Why We Should Treat, Not Blame Addicts Struggling to Get 'Clean'
- 04/05/13--11:35: How Dismal Were March's Job Numbers?
- 04/05/13--12:00: Timeline and Maps: North Korea Ramps Up Rhetoric, Missile Systems
- 04/05/13--15:04: Is New Technology Chipping Away at Scope of the American Workforce?
- 04/05/13--15:12: News Wrap: North Korea Loads Missiles Onto Launchers
- 04/05/13--15:16: Within Syria, Millions of Refugees Are Uprooted and Unable to Flee
- 04/05/13--16:05: Shields and Brooks on Redemption Politics and the Final Four
- 04/07/13--11:02: David Kuo, Former Bush White House Official, Dies
As I write this, we are taking note of the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
I am not a fan of ritual anniversaries nor of celebrating death rather than life. But I do believe in the value of memories and history.
Many of us celebrate Dr. King's life in part because his efforts made life easier for us. I was reminded of that this week when I was invited to speak to journalism students at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
There was so much the students wanted to know. How do you get a job? How do you keep a job? How do you deal with professional setbacks?
And this: How do you prosper in a work environment where so few of your colleagues and bosses look like you?
The word diversity has already become crusty around the edges as overuse has dulled its best, original meaning.
So when I am asked these questions, I speak instead about the value of embracing difference. Especially in America's newsrooms, how can we hope to tell the whole story if it is always being told by people who share identical or similar backgrounds, cultural heritages and world views?
For me, understanding the value of difference does not always have to be about conflict and grievance, It can also be about opportunity, and pride, and empathy, and humanity. To express this well, any journalist should possess a measure of sensitivity, a healthy dose of curiosity, and a clear understanding that we do not, in fact, know it all. Journalists, who make a living by telling other people's stories, have a special responsibility to get this right ... and to bring voices to our newsrooms whose backgrounds help us all to see the world differently.
I grew up reading the newspaper and watching the world unfold through the eyes, and voices of people who looked nothing like me. But there were exceptions -- including African-American journalists like Lem Tucker and Melba Tolliver and Simeon Booker, Carole Simpson and Ed Bradley. When I saw those few black faces on the air, it stuck.
Journalism's doors were not closed to me, I knew, because someone else had opened them. I just had to walk through.
This is what I have now found on the other side. Journalism is at a crossroads. We have stories to tell, but many of our audiences have stopped listening to us because they can tell we're not talking about them.
When it comes to diversifying our newsrooms, our multiple platforms and our thinking...we have been slow to grasp that this is not optional. This is about survival.
That's what I told the young journalism students. It's also what I tell my colleagues, and what I tell myself.
We've got to tell the stories better, more fully, and include more voices -- both among the questioners and the questioned -- or we can prepare to become obsolete.
I can't help but think that was what Dr. King knew.
Save the Children's President and CEO Carolyn Miles details the aid group's efforts to support Syrian children within the war-torn country.
The two-year Syrian conflict has endangered nearly 2 million children, limiting their access to basic health care and education, according to a report recently released by Save the Children.
"Three out of four children in Syria have lost a loved one," Carolyn Miles, CEO and president of Save the Children, told PBS NewsHour correspondent Hari Sreenivasan. "So not only the physical trauma but the psychological trauma is really huge."
The report reveals that children face unsanitary conditions from the lack of clean water and sewage systems destroyed during the civil war. In addition, 2,000 schools have been demolished and others have been turned into temporary shelters for displaced Syrians.
Related coverage:Read about how aid groups are working to educate Syrian refugees in Bringing the Classroom to Jordan's Exploding Refugee Population
The NewsHour plans to air a report Friday about the Syrian crisis and the humanitarian efforts within the country. View more of our World coverage.
A Syrian kindergartener in a Jordan refugee camp. Photos by Nicole Itano for Save the Children.
The number of Syrian refugees escaping to neighboring Jordan has surpassed 400,000 with thousands more arriving each day. Many of the refugees are children, who normally would be in school but instead are hunkering down in refugee camps.
International aid agencies and community groups are racing to create enough tent classrooms to accommodate them all.
"Some of the children have been out of school for months and months," said Michele Servadei, deputy representative for UNICEF Jordan. So his organization and others, including Save the Children, are facilitating the creation of temporary classrooms to help the children catch up.
So far, there are two main schools in Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp and a third one in the planning stages. Each school can hold about 5,000 students, though the demand keeps growing.
According to UNICEF's figures, in October 2012 there were 2,400 school-aged children enrolled in the makeshift schools. Today, there are 34,000 school-aged children enrolled.
"We need to open the third school quickly," Servadei said from Jordan.
Kindergarten classroom of Syrian refugees in Zaatari camp in Jordan.
Because Syria is a middle class country with a generally well-educated population, the aid groups can recruit teachers from within the refugee population. Some recruits already were teachers in Syria, but those who weren't can be trained along with the other Jordanian teachers, said Servadei.
Both sets can contribute: the Syrians have expertise in dealing with Syrian children, and the Jordanians have the more formalized education training, "so it's a good combination," he said.
One of the issues that sometimes comes up is the potential for bullying between the refugee and host communities, Servadei said, so parent-teacher associations are organized to be on the lookout.
The refugee students are taught science, math and life skills and vocational training. One of the few deviations from the Syrian curriculum is that in Jordan, the students learn English as opposed to French in Syrian schools, he said.
Drawing by Syrian refugee. Click on image for a larger version.
One program, geared particularly for young children, lets the refugees express their feelings about the violence they witnessed through art. "The drawings can be pretty tough to look at, but it does help kids get through that trauma that they have experienced," said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children.
As the fighting in Syria between pro- and anti-government forces continues, the refugee population in Jordan alone is estimated to reach 700,000 by July, she said. (The U.N. refugee agency keeps track of the numbers on its website.)
And among that refugee population, many feel a strong desire to learn, Servadei said from UNICEF's office in Jordan. At the beginning of the year, he cited as an example, a snowstorm hit and more than 1,000 parents and children chose to live in the schools during the winter break. "They're really eager to learn. We need to make sure we can increase the capacity" to accommodate them, he said.
On Friday's PBS NewsHour, we'll have more on the humanitarian situation within Syria. View all of our World coverage.
Related coverage:Two Million Children Endangered by Syrian Conflict, Aid Group Says
By James Livingston
By examining history, economic historian James "Against Thrift" Livingston says the sacrifice of saving for a rainy day -- of foregoing present consumption on behalf of future growth -- could be potentially destructive of the general welfare. And he says that John Maynard Keynes would be on his side. Photo by Deborah Harrison/Getty Images.
A Note from Paul Solman: Thursday's post on The Business Desk featured the latest libertarian salvo from John Papola, whose brilliant economics videos, "Keynes vs. Hayek: Late Economists' Hip-Hop Legacy" and "'Tis the Season, But Should We Save or Spend? A Holiday Money Conundrum"," we have highlighted -- some might say, exploited -- on PBS NewsHour.
In retort, we feature a response from liberal economic historian James Livingston, whom I first encountered when I read "Against Thrift," his feisty book-length argument in favor of consumption, an application of the Adam Smith quote to today's economic situation.
It would be better to read Papola and then Livingston's reply on "the nonsense of austerity" to get the basics of the debate. Both posts ran on March 6 and elicited more than 500 comments between them.RELATED CONTENT John Papola's Take on Economic Faith, 'Facts' and Follies
James Livingston: John Papola's riposte surprises me: he has made me rethink certain assumptions that were hitherto privileged, you might even say sheltered, by long years of thinking across the grain of mainstream economic theory. So to begin with, thanks, John. I needed that.
Let me first outline the broad areas of agreement that unite us, and then turn to the significant differences that still divide us -- the differences that might be bridged by attention to historical evidence as against theoretical postulates; the difference that results in my urging us all to spend instead of worrying so much about saving in order to invest.
John begins by suggesting that the bedlam of contemporary economic theory forces us back to 18th and 19th century foundations or precedents. He's right. The difference between us is that I reach for the likes of Karl Marx, Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, and Charles Conant, while he pulls David Hume, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill off the shelf. How to adjudicate this choice?
The question has to be answered by reference to the explanatory adequacy of these famous and not-so-famous long-dead "economists." Do these theorists of the past let us address the actually existing conditions of today's post-industrial capitalism, in crisis or not? Beyond that, do they permit a practical, programmatic approach to such conditions? In my view, John Maynard Keynes is the rightful heir to the intellectual legacy of Marx, Beaulieu, and Conant, not his English predecessors. And it is Keynes' notions of saving, investment, growth, and business cycles that I endorse.
But then John Papola makes the identical claim. He goes to great lengths in his riposte to claim that the Keynesian model is more consistent with his savings-and-investment argument than mine -- and he may be right. The ambiguities multiply: if we're both citing Keynes, what's going on here?
John also suggests, in line with Thomas Kuhn's disturbing ideas about scientific revolutions, that facts -- "the data" -- are functions of models, not the other way around. I am in complete agreement. But I want us to consult, compare, and conclude with the historical evidence, even as I acknowledge that such evidence is a result of model building, not the archive we discover without theoretical preconceptions.
How then to choose between facts to fit the models?RELATED CONTENT John Papola: Consuming Our Way to Prosperity is Macro Folly
If the model determines the range of facts we can take for granted, how do we decide between rival accounts of the very same factual phenomenon (in this case, economic crisis)? How do we decide without resorting to the language of values and purposes--the language of moral philosophy: my model is more virtuous than yours?
Clearly, we can't: whatever the model, it presupposes the values and purposes of the person who deploys it. And to his credit, John doesn't dodge the question. He believes, and says, that the consumption of goods is not merely enabled but must be authorized by the prior production of goods. There can be no consumption without production, therefore we must always emphasize the latter. But in saying this, he turns the ideal of equilibrium and the prospect of growth into moral imperatives.
With this line of reasoning, though, John also locks himself into an impossible moral dilemma. The problem is that a market society emphasizing production relies on costs and profits, which in turn rely on the assumption that a producer's income is commensurable with effort. As if.RELATED CONTENT James Livingston: The Nonsense of Austerity
As if hard work on Main Street were rewarded proportionately to paperwork on Wall Street. As if the outlandish salaries and stock options of contemporary CEOs are justifiable in terms of "adding value." As if just having a job will take you off food stamps (about 25 percent of American workers don't earn enough to raise themselves above the poverty line). Or -- as if you're unemployed because you're lazy.
Is the market system fair and efficient? Is it a necessary evil? Or is it a system all too vulnerable to hijacking by the powerful in the name of savings, investment and ever-greater production?
Still, by enlisting Keynes in his account of how saving and investment must drive growth, John Papola has revealed -- or merely reiterated -- a fundamental truth, which is that the mainstream of economic theory from left to right, from Dean Baker and Paul Krugman to Gregory Mankiw and Martin Feldstein, clings to the assumption that, as John puts it, "real growth comes from value-adding investment and production." For example, Dean Baker, the epitome of left-Keynesian rectitude, criticized my New York Times op-ed of Oct. 28, 2011 by saying pretty much what John does: of course investment is the source of productivity and growth, and that anyone who says otherwise must be uncouth or, what is the same thing, untrained in economic theory.
In this sense, they -- Dean Baker and John Papola -- represent the broad mainstream of more or less Keynesian economic theory. I'm still outside it, but that's not a complaint. It's a way of saying that the consensus on saving and investment as the causes of growth is well-nigh universal, and that the would-be renegades, like Baker and Papola, haven't left the reservation, regardless of what they profess.
But here's the thing: Baker and Papola are both right and wrong about Keynes, about investment, and about growth.
Yes, Keynes assumed that investment would eventually drive growth. But (like Hayek) he did not assume that investment flowed naturally from savings at any given interest rate, no matter how it affected consumption. And so Keynes refused to assume that consumer spending was a simple function of either idle savings or active investment. He knew that savings and investment never translated automatically into job creation and thus money in the hands of employees.
Like Papola, who says in passing that growth "is created by value-adding production and investment either from the private sector or the public sector," Keynes didn't care about the sources of investment. He cared solely about their consequences for consumption.
Keynes was not always consistent. He divulged his divided state of mind in three rhetorical modes that didn't often intersect. There is the erudite aplomb of "The General Theory" from 1936, his classic effort to entreat countries like the United Kingdom and the United States to spend and spend to counteract the Great Depression.
The book's punch line is this:
"Thus, since the expectation of consumption is the only raison d'etre of employment, there should be nothing paradoxical in the conclusion that a diminished propensity to consume has ceteris paribus [all else equal] a depressing effect on employment ... The absurd, though almost universal, idea that an act of individual saving is just as good for effective demand as an act of individual consumption, has been fostered by the fallacy, much more specious than the conclusion derived from it, that an increased desire to hold wealth, being much the same thing as an increased desire to hold investments, must, by increasing the demand for investments, provide a stimulus to their production; so that current investment is promoted by individual saving to the same extent as present consumption is diminished.
It is of this fallacy that it is most difficult to disabuse men's minds. It comes from believing that the owner of wealth desires a capital asset as such, whereas what he really desires is its prospective yield."
In short, if people stop spending, investment will make no difference; the economy will not rebound because people save to invest. Just the opposite: it will sink.RELATED CONTENT Keynes-Hayek Rap Video Goes Viral! Non-economists Worldwide Infected!
There is also the awkward, uneven, almost embarrassed attitudes of The Treatise on Money, where Keynes measured a "great expansion of corporate saving" in the 1920s -- his object of study was the U.S. -- which showed up neither as investment nor dividends returned to shareholders. He couldn't quite figure out what happened to the money but he was right about the problem.
In fact, as of September 1929, a month before the most famous stock market crash in American history, non-financial corporations had billions on deposit at Federal Reserve member banks instead of out on loan to businesses and individuals, and more billions "invested" in the short-term call-loan market that did little but fuel more and more trading on the stock exchange.
But as I keep pointing out when talking about the lack of a need for ever more investment, a "deficiency of investment," as Keynes called it, just so happened to coincide with remarkable growth of productivity -- both non-farm productivity (40 percent) and output (60 percent) in the 1920s.
My answer to what puzzled Keynes in 1930: even then, economies like ours and the U.K.'s had amassed more savings than could usefully be invested. As a result, it fed greater speculation instead.
But back to Keynes and his inconsistencies. His third voice is Keynes the journalist. In fugitive pieces for The Nation and Athenaeum and The New Republic, some of which were collected as Essays in Persuasion, Keynes spoke more freely, more fully, about the new possibilities -- the opportunities -- residing in the harrowing crisis we call the Great Depression.
His piece in The New Republic of April 14, 1932, was called "The Dilemma of Modern Socialism." In it, he wondered how the impending end of work -- the decline of what Marx had called socially necessary labor -- would affect the prospects of growth and the future of humanity as such.
"The chief effect of new machinery ... is increasingly, not to make men's muscles more efficient, but to render them obsolete. And the effect is twofold: first, to furnish us with the ability to produce consumption goods, as distinct from services, almost without limit; and second, to use so little labor in the process that an ever increasing proportion [of the total work force] must be occupied either in the field of supplying human services or in meeting the demand for durable [consumer] goods."
As a result of this displacement of labor, the sacrifice of saving for a rainy day -- of foregoing present consumption on behalf of future growth -- had become pointless, and perhaps destructive of the general welfare.
As Keynes put it in 1930 in "Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren," the revolutionary technical changes that had put so many people out of work meant that "mankind is solving its economic problem"; thus it could extricate itself from "the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years," particularly from the compulsive accumulation of wealth in the abstract, the love of money as an end in itself, the profit motive as such: "When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be a great change in the code of morals."
"But chiefly, do not let us overestimate the importance of the economic problem, or sacrifice to its supposed necessities other matters of greater and more permanent significance."
So Keynes, as he worked out his ideas, was of two minds, maybe three. But consistent throughout was his realization that investment out of savings wasn't easy or automatic. Indeed it was doubtful. Job creation and/or growth did not follow, as a matter of course, from the restriction of consumption signified by saving.
What followed instead was a reduction of demand for goods, unless the banking system immediately transferred savings into loans, an unlikely event in the 1930s and again today. And even if such transfers were immediate, there were always plenty of alternatives to the purchase of plant and equipment that would increase demand on labor: government stimulus programs being the most obvious.
Beyond this, Keynes saw that investment and savings were becoming less important in the grand scheme of economic growth. He saw, in other words, that to the extent that capital-saving innovation had improved on labor-saving machinery--well, in that case, withholding any significant portion of national income from circulation as consumer demand would become a constraint on growth.
And now we get to the heart of my argument: that today's policy emphasis should be on spending, not saving; in short, my argument "against thrift."
As an economic historian, I start with history. From the dawn of economic growth until about 1920, growth required more labor time and more investment -- more "capital." As economists now put it, capital/output ratios rose steeply as net investment (net additions to the capital stock, beyond the cost of replacement and maintenance) increased.
Another way to put it is that from roughly 1750 to 1920, growth was driven by saving and investment -- by a relative restriction of consumption.
But after 1920, a sea change occurs. Growth happens, rather spectacularly, but without net additions of either past or present labor time. Capital/output ratios fall, accordingly, and so does net investment. So the relative restriction of consumption, which is of course the condition of saving and investment, is no longer the condition of growth.
This is my point, my punch line. It is the historical reality that no economists of the past could address, because it hadn't happened yet. Only Keynes spotted it, and even he couldn't be sure.
Like almost all the economic thinkers of the past, John Papola assumes that consumer expenditures represent the destruction of value created by prior saving, investment, and, not least, by productive labor. That's why his argument carries such a powerful moral charge, and that's why it remains within the mainstream of economic theory. But, like his compatriots on both left and right, this assumption is precisely what he needs to rethink in view of the historical evidence.
For by adopting it, Papola, like his compatriots on both left and right, covertly reinstates a quasi-Marxist labor theory of value, according to which commodities have more or less value insofar as they contain more or less labor-time, past and present.
But when a greater volume of goods can be produced with less and less labor-time, past and present, because labor-saving technical innovation finally becomes capital-saving as well -- again the 1920s are the watershed -- then the value of commodities cannot be gauged according to any labor theory; to repeat, the relative restriction of consumption, as against saving and investment, is no longer the condition of growth.
That "when" is the record of economic growth and development since 1920. That "when" is now. And this now is the historical reality that mainstream economists cannot address, because, like John Papola, they're still acting as if a quasi-Marxist labor theory of value makes sense, so that saving and investment must appear as the self-evident causes of growth.
The exquisite irony of their position needs no further comment. But I would like, in concluding, to note the larger irony Papola has inserted into these proceedings by stating that "growth is created by value-adding production and investment either from the private sector or the public sector, not consumption or consumer spending." This concession threatens to give up on free market neoliberalism, if not capitalism as such.
Let's suppose he's right -- that public sector investments "create value" in the same way private investment has always been supposed to: by spending money on capital goods (a.k.a. "infrastructure" in the parlance of public spending on roads, bridges, potholes and the like). The production, installation, and operation of this output then create demand for labor, increasing employment, wages, and, eventually, demand for consumer goods.
By Papola's accounting, and everybody else's, this investment comes from a pool of savings that derives, one way or another, from a prior restriction of consumption. In the private sector, we call that pool of savings either profits or retained earnings. In the public sector, we call it tax revenues -- what governments force citizens to save by deducting a portion of their income from their effective demand for goods as consumers.
Now, conduct this thought experiment. If Papola is right to blur the distinction between public and private enterprise, then there's no difference between the forced savings we designate as corporate profits or retained earnings and those we designate as taxes.
In these terms, the popular revolt against increased taxes that seems to characterize the political culture of the last thirty years is a revolt against the saving that governments can impose. In the very same terms, it's a barely legible manifesto on behalf of consumer sovereignty.
But if Papola is right, why aren't the American people now in revolt against the forced saving of corporate profits and retained earnings? Is it possible they've been influenced by those with the profits and earnings to act against their own interests?
In my view, it is very possible, indeed.
North Korea is raising the temperature in the region by conducting nuclear tests and moving missiles.
The parachute for the Mars Science Laboratory mission to Mars opened before launch. Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech. . A newly released series of images snapped by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reveals that the Curiosity rover's parachute has been flapping in the thin Martian wind.
Sure, this may seem hardly newsworthy -- something to file under the why-should-I-care category -- or a no-brainer. Wind moves fabric. Duh.
But it's notable because scientists didn't know if the wind on Mars was thick enough or gusty enough to have this effect. The parachute, by the way, is constructed mostly of nylon, with a patch of polyester in its reinforced center. If you remember, it's what allowed the Curiosity rover to glide slowly down during landing and settle safely onto the Mars surface. Remember this picture?
"Nobody had a prediction on would this thing flap in the wind or not," said Alfred McEwen, principal investigator for the MRO's HIRISE camera. "It's very thin air. What we can see from these images is it's not moving all the time, it's just in episodes. Occasionally there's a strong gust of wind."
Scientists do study wind on Mars. They study it to understand the planet's active sand dunes and how they ebb and flow and evolve over time.
"There have been theories that the wind is so thin, it isn't fast enough to move the sand," McEwen said. "But apparently rare high velocity events are more common than previously known."
It isn't like the wind is picking the parachute up and plopping it somewhere else, he clarified. It's mostly fixed in the same spot with the edges moving around.
This could also help explain why the Viking Lander 1 has remained visible on the Mars surface for nearly 40 years, unburied by dust in a dusty region of the planet, McEwen added. It landed on July 20, 1976, the same date -- but seven years later -- that Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.
After entering the New Yorker caption contest almost weekly for five years, Roger Ebert won with this entry in April 2011.
From Science NOW: "Unborn lizards can erupt from their eggs, days early if vibrations hint at a threat from a hungry predator, new research shows."
Slate has this great shot of the Northern Lights with meteor streaking through.
The life and times of Pregnant Great White Sharks. Researchers tracked several animals off the coast of Mexico and found that, after fertilization, they kept fairly close to their mating grounds, avoided male sharks, then returned to the same area to give birth. From LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet blog.
PopSci gives you nine reasons to yank out your sweet tooth.
NOT SAFE FOR LUNCHWhy I Study Duck Genitalia. Read it. It's fascinating. Here's an excerpt:
Male ducks force copulations on females, and males and females are engaged in a genital arms race with surprising consequences. Male ducks have elaborate corkscrew-shaped penises, the length of which correlates with the degree of forced copulation males impose on female ducks. Females are often unable to escape male coercion, but they have evolved vaginal morphology that makes it difficult for males to inseminate females close to the sites of fertilization and sperm storage. Males have counterclockwise spiraling penises, while females have clockwise spiraling vaginas and blind pockets that prevent full eversion of the male penis.
Photo credit: Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., celebrate the landing of NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars. Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Tom Kennedy, Rebecca Jacobson, Patti Parson and David Pelcyger contributed to this report.
Click to enlarge.
Workers re-install "Fluegelauto" -- a golden, winged Ford Fiesta -- at the City Museum in Cologne, Germany. The car, a creation by German artist HA Schult, was returned to the roof after restoration at a Ford plant. Photo by Oliver Berg/ AFP/ Getty Images.
April is National Poetry Month and that's because of an initiative by the Academy of American Poets beginning in 1996. The Academy claims National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration in the world, reaching over 10 million Americans with programs like the Dear Poet Project and Poem in Your Pocket Day. On Thursday, I spoke to Jennifer Benka, executive director of the Academy, about the festivities:
JEFFREY BROWN: Can you tell me why we need a National Poetry Month, how many years later is it now, 14, 17 years later?
JENNIFER BENKA: Seventeen years. The goal of National Poetry Month is to bring, or rather, refocus attention on the art of poetry, as well as living poets, and also our complex poetic heritage in the United States. The poet Adrienne Rich, who passed last year, said something wonderful about American poetry, which is there is no such thing as one kind of American poetry; there are Americans poetries. And we hope to celebrate the full range of breadth of the wonderful work that is being made today by poets, as well as historical American poetry.
JEFFREY BROWN: And what do you see, if I can use the awful word 'issue,' but what do see is the most important issue or issues for poetry today from your perch there?
JENNIFER BENKA: I see poetry as being very much alive, more alive than ever, and living not only on the page but beyond or post the page. Poets today are sharing work on social media, Facebook, through Twitter, there are Twitter poetry contests, there are twitterary journals, people are reading poems on mobile devices, in many ways. Poetry, I think, is poised to meet the present in very exciting and interesting ways.
JEFFREY BROWN: You say that, of course, even though the death of poetry continues to be pronounced as it has as long as there has been a National Poetry Month and well beyond that, I supposed.
JENNIFER BENKA: Yes. Anytime poetry receives attention someone claims that it has died, which is not at all true, in fact resoundingly the opposite.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, I always wonder if in some fashion both things are right, that it's not what it was, but it's more than it was. Is that possible?
JENNIFER BENKA: I think that there is truth to that. Certainly poetry is taught differently. Sometimes it's taught less than it was generations ago. And as I was saying, it is living in different places. It's not necessarily bound in books anymore -- it's shared via email -- so it's more accessible than ever but visible in a very different kind of way.
JEFFREY BROWN: Tell us about this month, what kinds of things are you pushing or what should people look for?
JENNIFER BENKA: Well, one of the great things about National Poetry Month is that the celebration has really been absorbed into the culture. We see grassroots programs across the United States that range from the poet laureate Erica Goss in Los Gatos, Calif., asking local businesses to put poems in their windows or near the cash register. There's a poet in Washington, D.C., Maureen Thorson, who has challenged people across the world, really, to write 30 poems in 30 days. And that's called NaPoWriMo -- National Poetry Writing Month. There are displays of poetry in libraries across the country. The poet laureate of Indiana, Karen Kovacik, is organizing a display of 20 living poets from the state of Indiana at the Greenwood Library. So that's just a sampling of some of the many, many, many poetry celebrations and projects that are occurring during this month.
We here at the Academy have a few national initiatives that we're promoting. One is the Dear Poet Project. Through this effort we're inviting students in grades 7 through 11 across the country to read poems on our site, Poets.org, by our board of chancellors. We have 15 distinguished poets who serve as our artistic advisers, and we have some of their poems online for students to read. We're asking students to hand-write letters to our chancellors in response to the work, and some of our chancellors will write back, and we'll feature the correspondence on our website in May. We are also promoting --
JEFFREY BROWN: Wait, I want to stop you and say that you're working a bit with us on that -- or, at least, we're working with you on that, I guess, Newshour Extra, online.
JENNIFER BENKA: Yes, thank you very much. You are helping to promote the lesson plan that is supporting this project. We worked with a curriculum specialist to design a ready-made lesson that teachers can simply print out and put to use in their classrooms in support of this project. And you have very kindly helped us distribute that lesson plan. Thank you.
JEFFREY BROWN: You're welcome. I interrupted -- what else were you going to add?
JENNIFER BENKA: The other national initiative is Poem in your Pocket Day, which this year takes place on April 18. This was a project that was launched here in New York by the Department of Cultural Affairs, and we have helped as a partner in the project to take it to a national audience. On April 18 this year we're encouraging people to carry poems with them and share them with their co-workers, with people they're sitting next to on public transportation, in classrooms, and just to make the most of poems that you're carrying with you on that day.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, and by the way, before I let you go, because people have asked me this, and I don't know the answer: Is April a National Poetry Month because of the famous T.S. Eliot line about April being the "cruellest month" somehow?
JENNIFER BENKA: Well, the story that I've heard -- there is a lore and I'm happy to add to the mythology. Back in 1996, when the Academy launched National Poetry Month, they did so by passing out copies of T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" on the steps of the central post office here in New York City on tax day. And, of course, the first line of the poem is "April is the cruellest month." So there was a little tongue-and-cheek component to the launch of National Poetry Month. But it has gone from that, the distribution of a few hundred poems to as, you said, many, many millions of people participating in celebrations of poetry.
JEFFREY BROWN: OK, National Poetry Month is in April. Jennifer Benka is executive director of the Academy of American Poets. Thanks so much for joining us.
JENNIFER BENKA: Thank you, Jeffrey.
JEFFREY BROWN: And thank you for joining us again on Art Beat. I'm Jeffrey Brown.
Journalist David Sheff talks with Judy Woodruff about his new book, "Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy."
It has been more than 40 years since Richard Nixon called for a "war on drugs," and yet our prevention and treatment efforts have largely failed to address the chronic illness of substance addiction that afflicts one in 12 Americans and affects millions more friends and family members.
Journalist David Sheff's son Nic began using marijuana and alcohol at the age of 12, then heroine and crystal meth. Sheff was baffled; his son transformed from an intelligent student and athlete into an addict living on the streets. At first he thought Nic was just being a wild teenager who needed some tough love. But after struggling to find Nic treatment -- and keep him alive -- Sheff realized that his son was dealing with a serious disease, more similar than different from diabetes, hypertension or even cancer.
With his personal experience and more than 10 years of research, Sheff concluded that addiction is a health crisis with a price tag of $600 billion in combined medical, economic, criminal and social costs every year.
In a follow-up to his memoir "Beautiful Boy," David Sheff has written a new book, "Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy," in order to outline a slew of reasons why society and addiction treatments have largely failed to help the 20 million Americans with addictions.
Sheff asserts that the reason that addiction treatments overwhelmingly fail is because of how we view addiction. And he says correcting common misconceptions about the disease can be the first step towards improving the social support and medical treatment systems for those struggling with their addictions.
Below are the top myths about addiction, according to David Sheff. Do you agree or disagree? Let PBS NewsHour know what you think by leaving your comments in the discussion section at the bottom of the page.
Myth No. 1: Good kids don't use drugs, bad kids do.
As our children grow up, we -- parents, teachers, the culture as a whole -- tell them that good kids abstain, bad ones use. Yet 80 percent of America's children will at least try alcohol or other drugs. Do we really believe that most of our children are bad? As a pediatrician told me: "These aren't bad kids. They're our kids."
By moralizing the choice to use or not, we're alienating our kids. This isn't a question of good and bad, it's a question of health and safety. If we keep this in mind, we can better help our kids grow up without succumbing to drugs and continuing to use, trying new and more dangerous drugs, and even become addicted.
Myth No. 2: It's impossible to prevent drug use. Kids who are going to use are going to use.
We've failed to prevent use because we've done most things wrong by focusing on drugs as a criminal and moral problem, and on scare tactics and hyperbole. Prevention efforts will be effective when we focus not on "just say no" tactics, but instead address the reasons kids use.
Kids who have drug problems often use drugs as a way to alleviate stress and otherwise help them cope with stressful lives. Kids who experienced trauma are more likely to have drug problems. The list of risk factors goes on: those growing up in poverty or violent neighborhoods, children whose parents divorce or suffer loss, those with addiction, including alcoholism, in their family, young people with ADHD, with learning disabilities, with a host of psychological disorders including depression and bipolar disorder.
We'll effectively lower or potentially prevent drug use when we address these risk factors and replace them with protective factors.
Myth No. 3: People who get addicted are weak and without morals.
Addiction is a disease. This isn't about character. People who think that addicts are weak assume that will power is enough for a person to stop using.
So if weakness isn't the reason why, when someone's life is negatively affected by their drug use, why don't they just stop? It's because their brains have altered so the new "normal" is the presence of drugs.
Dependence is real, not a choice, biologically rooted, and therefore addicts must be treated. It's critical that people understand that addiction is a serious illness, usually chronic and progressive and often fatal. Addiction is the cause for 120,000 deaths each year.
Myth No. 4: Addicts must hit bottom before they can be treated.
This myth kills addicts. Don't wait for an addict to hit bottom; do everything you can to get them into treatments. Addicts are often told that they must hit bottom, but they need to know that people who enter treatment can and do get well. Many people die before they hit a bottom. We must reject this archaic belief.
Myth No. 5: You don't treat drug problems with drugs.
Wrong again. Many addiction treatments can and should include medication. A variety of medications, when prescribed, monitored, and adjusted by a good psychiatrist, in combination with behavioral therapies, dramatically up the odds of successful treatment.
For many addicts, the impact of medications can be profound -- even lifesaving. And for addicts with concurrent mental illnesses, drugs can be essential. Some of the same medications that help during detox can be part of primary care. Some of these prescriptions inhibit cravings. Some treat the symptoms that come with sobriety following intense and consistent drug use. Some replacement drugs not only reduce cravings but act as deterrents; they block certain drugs from attaching to receptors, thereby preventing the drugs from triggering a high if they're taken. In addition, medications can treat the concurrent and underlying problems, including anxiety, depression, and other disorders, that contribute to addiction.
Myth No. 6: The only way for addicts to stop using is by going to AA meetings.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the Twelve Steps have helped countless addicts get and stay sober. It's a profound program that works for many people. But it doesn't work for a majority of addicts.
People must know that there are other treatments that are effective. Some are used in concert with AA, but AA isn't a requirement to managing addiction. When treatment programs insist that patients must practice the Steps, they can alienate some addicts, often teenagers.
Effective programs should offer many types of treatment, including behavioral and psychological treatments. As I said, some addictions should be treated with medication in addition to behavioral treatments.
Myth No. 7: Marijuana is not addictive. No one's ever died from marijuana. It's not a gateway drug. Marijuana shouldn't be legalized.
Marijuana should be legalized, but not because it's safe, especially for teenagers and young adults. It should be legalized because we must treat marijuana use like all drug use -- as a health issue. The fact that it is illegal just drives using marijuana underground. The last thing we want to do is increase those things by kicking kids out of school or throwing them into the criminal justice system because they were caught smoking pot.
But those who support legalization by saying that pot is harmless -- "it's natural, innocuous" -- are also wrong. Marijuana is dangerous for kids. Part of the reason is that their brains are developing during adolescence and early adulthood. Drugs impede and alter the brain development, and these changes can harm cognition and memory, and can impede kids' emotional maturation.
Marijuana is a gateway drug for some kids who smoke; I've never met an addict who started on heroin -- it's always pot and drinking. And marijuana is addictive for about 7 percent of those who try it. Yes, people don't overdose and die from smoking pot, but those who drive while high are twice as likely to get in car accidents, including ones that are fatal.
Myth No. 8: America's drug problem is unsolvable.
We've failed at solving America's drug problem not because it's impossible to do so, but we've been focusing on the wrong things. The main problem is that we've treated drug use as a criminal problem and drug users as morally bankrupt.
There are several developments that make me optimistic that we can lower drug use, treat addicts and potentially solve many of the problems in America caused by addiction:There's a growing understanding and acceptance that addiction is a disease and must be treated like we treat other diseases. There are advances in treatment that will dramatically improve the likelihood that addicts will get well. There are also new prevention strategies, early assessment, and brief intervention strategies that work. There is progress toward making sure that people who need treatment will be able to find programs that use evidence-based treatment. There is a new organization founded called Brian's Wish To End Addiction -- modeled after the American Cancer Society -- that will work to educate the American public, support research and lobby Congress, all in order to improve addiction treatment and care. The organization is being led by businessmen and scientists determined to unite those throughout America who are working to end this disease. Sections of the Affordable Care Act that will go into effect in January 2014 will profoundly influence addiction care in America. Insurance will have to cover addiction treatments and other mental illnesses as comprehensively as they cover any other disease. For the first time, insurance will pay for whatever level of treatment is needed. Plus the more money available for treatment, the more jobs there will be for good and highly trained therapists and psychiatrists and other treatment professionals. There's a growing movement in America of addicts and family members coming out of the darkness. They are calling for a national and local focus on starting a war on addiction, not on drugs. (I've started a petition online that will be presented to President Obama. It's a model based off the successful 1980s campaign to tackle the AIDS epidemic: Silence = Death. Silence = Death for addiction, too. Find a link at www.davidsheff.com.)
The top myths about addiction above were adapted from content from David Sheff's new book, "Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy. The views are his own.
What do you think about these myths about addiction? Do you agree or disagree? Leave your comments in the discussion section below.
By Paul Solman
At first blink, today's jobs numbers don't look too bad. The official unemployment number dipped again, to 7.6 percent. The number of people reporting that they didn't work even one hour last week and looked for work and are therefore "unemployed" dropped by several hundred thousand to below 12 million. The number of people working part-time, but looking for full-time work, fell by about 5 percent. Those people, included in our comprehensive monthly reckoning of the under- and unemployed, drove down "U-7" -- or the estimate of the number of Americans who say they want a full-time job, but do not have one -- to 16.08 percent from 16.46 percent in just one month.
And yet here's how the mainstream media reacted.
"The slight decrease in the unemployment rate occurred not because more unemployed people got jobs, but because the number of people active in the labor force -- i.e., working or looking for work -- fell," wrote Catherine Rampell in the New York Times. "The labor force participation rate has not been this low since 1979, when it was also 63.3 percent, at a time when women were less likely to be working. Baby Boomer retirements may account for part of the slide, but discouragement about job prospects in a mediocre economy still seems to be playing a large role, economists say."
In The Wall Street Journal, Brenda Cronin wrote:
"The unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since December 2008, but mainly because about 496,000 people dropped out of the work force ... Some 11.7 million workers who wanted a job couldn't find one last month."
James Politi of the Financial Times was no more upbeat:
"Government employment fell by 7,000, offering evidence that austerity at the federal level was setting in gradually. But the jobs in the private sector were much harder to come by than in February, with manufacturing losing 3,000 jobs, construction gaining 18,000 and retail losing 24,000."
Alex Kowalski of Bloomberg chimed in:
"U.S. stock-index futures and bond yields fell as the report raised concern that the world's largest economy may be weakening just as federal budget cuts take hold. The absence of sustained and bigger gains in employment and earnings underscores the Federal Reserve's view that more progress is needed before record monetary policy stimulus can be scaled back."
And finally this, from Washington Post blogger Neil Irwin:
"This is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad jobs report" began his reaction in a post entitled "Today's jobs report is a disaster. But why?"
The answer, according to Irwin:
"Nearly four years into the economic recovery, with the unemployment rate still close to 8 percent, the nation recorded a month in which too few jobs were added to keep up with the growing American workforce (that number is more like 125,000). The headline read that the unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent, but it was almost entirely for bad reasons. A whopping 496,000 people dropped out of the labor force, and 206,000 fewer people reported having a job, meaning that the proportion of Americans currently working actually ticked down, not up."
What is one to make of all the bad press? All of it is intelligent, thoughtful.
But in the short term, I'd say the negativity is overblown. One of the most important pieces of monthly data -- for example, the revisions of previous monthly data -- revealed substantially good news: 61,000 more new jobs have been added in the past two months than previously reported. Add them to today's 88,000, and the net number isn't that bad.
And I'd be a hypocrite if I discounted the steep drop in U-7, due -- it would appear -- to the full-time hiring of so many part-timers.
In the long term, however, the picture is pretty much as has been happening throughout the post-industrial world, and as we've been reporting here for years: too few jobs, even with so many Americans leaving the workforce because they've reached "retirement age." More and more jobs paying less and less. Forty percent of the unemployed out of work for half-a-year or more. Black unemployment above 13 percent. And recently, government dis-stimulus.
We always warn that it's never wise to read too much into one month's data. But the cumulative story remains discouraging. Small wonder there are so many "discouraged workers" out there, as there have been for years.
Five Takeaways from Jobs Report: Grim all around, worrying trend, mixed future, housing positive, unemployed struggle on.wsj.com/14SXSOZ— Real Time Economics (@WSJecon) April 5, 2013
Today's jobs report is a disaster. But why? wapo.st/ZhM7QN— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) April 5, 2013
Interesting detail: 80% of the payrolls sample got their reports in on time this month.2nd highest level since 1981.bls.gov/web/empsit/ces...— Justin Wolfers (@justinwolfers) April 5, 2013
South Korean guards watch North Korea's side of the demilitarized zone in this January 2011 file photo by Larisa Epatko.
View a timeline of events in North Korea with accompanying PBS NewsHour analysis.Each day this week brought another development in North Korea, including threats against the United States and the deployment of mid-range missile launchers to its east coast.
The reclusive communist country reportedly warned foreign embassies inside its borders Friday that it could not guarantee the safety of their staff after April 10.
North Korea is protesting the "hostile" joint military exercises involving the United States and South Korea, and U.N. sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons tests.
The escalating threats have put South Koreans on edge and prompted the United States to send a land-based missile defense system to Guam.
In the past, North Korea has engaged in cycles of rhetoric followed by a return to normalcy, but this time feels "slightly more dangerous because you have a compounding of events that have taken place since December with the launch of a successful missile by North Korea, their nuclear test in February, (and) the U.N. Security Council's sanctions," said Charles Jack Pritchard, former U.S. special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, on Wednesday's NewsHour.
The Washington Post has a map showing estimates of how far North Korea's various missile systems can reach.
A map in the Guardian indicates Japan and South Korea are potential targets.
The New York Times displays the estimated range of North Korean missile systems under development.
Browse a series of NewsHour reports from South Korea in January 2011 following North Korea's show of force, including the sinking of South Korea's ship the Cheonan and the bombing of Yeonpyeong Island.
JUDY WOODRUFF: American employers added 88,000 jobs in March, the smallest gain in nine months, raising new fears that the recovery may be slowing down.
New hiring last month was a sharp decline from the previous two months; 268,000 new jobs were added in February and 148,000 in January. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.6 percent, the lowest in four years, but that was attributed to more people retiring or not searching for work.
Yahoo! Finance's Jeff Macke:
JEFF MACKE, Yahoo! Finance: One-half of one million Americans quit looking for jobs in March. That means they just gave up and they stopped looking. And so that's how you get the unemployment rate to look lower, is because you just shrink the pool.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In fact, the percentage of working adults in the labor force is at the lowest level since 1979. In an interview on Bloomberg TV, Alan Krueger, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said that reflects a number of factors.
ALAN KRUEGER, Chairman, White House Council of Economic Advisers: People will retire as they get older, and we're going to be facing that trend for some time to come. But also when you go through difficult economic times, when unemployment rises, as it did during the recession, you tend to see people leave the labor force. Some go back to school.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Economists often warn not to make too much of any one month's figures. And the stock market, while down today, remains near record highs.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 41 points to close at 14,565. The Nasdaq fell 21 points to close above 3,203. For the week, the Dow shed one-tenth of a percent. The Nasdaq lost nearly two percent.
JEFFREY BROWN: And we take a closer look at today's numbers and some key longer-term trends in the job market with Lisa Lynch, dean of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. She's a former chief economist at the Labor Department. And Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at the Center for Digital Business at MIT's Sloan School of Business and co-author of "Race Against the Machine."
Lisa Lynch, positive numbers, but much less than hoped for, and even expected, right? What do you see here?
LISA LYNCH, Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University: Well, it was, you know, frankly, a miserable report.
We had jobs coming in at less than half of what people had expected. And while there was growth in important sectors, like construction, the health care sector, accounting, we didn't see the employment increase in manufacturing. It decreased a little bit. And there were big decreases in the retail sector.
JEFFREY BROWN: Just to stay with you, whether you look at sectors or other factors, does anything stand out or jump out at you as telling why there was this less-than-expected number today?
LISA LYNCH: Well, people have been trying to point to maybe some seasonality factors. March was a little snowier, so people didn't go to the store, to retail stores, or maybe the upward revisions in February's numbers. Maybe you have to move the two months -- merge the two months together to get a picture of the labor market that is a little bit more accurate.
And folks have obviously been pointing to the impact of the sequester. And, there, I think we have more information looking back at what's happening for growth overall in the economy. Our economy is growing very slowly, at less than half-a-percent. And for that rate of growth, we shouldn't be surprised with a number like we saw today.
JEFFREY BROWN: Andrew McAfee, we look at the monthly numbers. We try to look for signals. You look longer-term as well. What do you see? What important trends do you see that might help us understand even a monthly figure like this?
ANDREW MCAFEE, MIT Center for Digital Business: And I think that this latest monthly figure is part of a long-term and pretty challenging trend.
About 30 years ago, wage growth for the average American worker started to taper off. And for the past 15 years, it's actually been negative. About 12 years ago, job growth started to taper off as well. Of course, that took a huge dive during the great recession and has really not recovered at all.
And I look at these longer-term trends, and I think they're part of a pattern, as are technologies. And especially our digital technologies just continue to get so much more powerful and to demonstrate all these new capabilities. That means that we tend to need human labor a little bit less, as the digital labor gets more and more powerful. That trend, I think, is only going to continue.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. Give us a specific example. I mean, we look at the jobs report like this today. Give us an example of how technology, robotics or something might impact a job that might have been there before, but is not there, not showing up today.
ANDREW MCAFEE: Well, for example, retail has been a huge employer in the United States for a long time. The job growth there has really slowed down and in some cases turned negative.
There are a bunch of factors at play there. One of them, though, is that a lot of us buy things online now, and we do self-service. We get our recommendations from recommendations engines, as opposed to clerks. And even when we go to the store, there tend to be fewer people around to man the cash registers because a lot of that becomes more automated as well.
In some stores where I shop these days, I actually check myself out without any human involvement. So we see technology chipping away at the kinds of things that we used to have people doing. And when I look at what robots and cutting-edge artificial intelligence can do, I think we ain't seen nothing yet.
JEFFREY BROWN: The question -- Lisa Lynch, I will come to you on this -- is how much of the jobs problem we're looking at is, as economists like you say, cyclical or structural, part of what Andy McAfee is talking about here? What do you think?
LISA LYNCH: So, as Andy said, we have been seeing a decrease in the labor force participation rates that actually goes back 12 years ago. It started in 2000.
And some of that is made up of cyclical factors. Economists are saying somewhere between a third and a half of that fall in the labor force participation rate is cyclical factors. But there are two other important source of that fall in the labor force participation.
One is the aging of the work force. So more of our workers are getting closer to retirement. So there is a composition issue playing here. Secondly is young people delaying entry into the labor force. They're in school. They can't get a job. They get an unpaid internship, so they don't get counted as an employee.
But then the last source, as Andy was talking about, is this hollowing out of the economy. And part of it is due to globalization, and part of it is due to these technological shocks that are, when somebody loses a job, they can't find a job back in their same sector.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Andy McAfee, at the same time, doesn't technology create new jobs? I mean, you're not against technology and not against it in the workplace, I assume.
So where -- is it a balancing act? Are you suggesting that longer-term now, we may be at some kind of real strong tipping point that affects the labor market?
ANDREW MCAFEE: Yes, technology is clearly racing ahead.
And I'm a huge technology optimist. I believe it's taking us into a more abundant future. But as it does, it can leave a lot of people behind. And I don't know the economic law that says that technology, by definition, has to create as many or more jobs as it destroys. And I think we're seeing that balance shift these days.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Lisa Lynch, does ...
LISA LYNCH: But ...
JEFFREY BROWN: Oh, go ahead. Go ahead.
LISA LYNCH: But what is interesting is this technology is available around the world. And there are other countries, like Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, that are not experiencing this same decrease in labor force participation rate. Actually, in some of those countries, it's actually been rising over the last 12 years.
So there's something else than just technology. We're not -- technology is not determining our future. And when you look at those other countries, you see institutions in place helping to support workers make the transition from one sector to another that I think frankly are doing a better job than what we have in the United States.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Andy McAfee, just one last word on this. Does your argument suggest that it's harder for policy-makers, harder for the Federal Reserve, for example, to respond to the weakness that we see in the labor market?
ANDREW MCAFEE: Yes, I absolutely agree with Lisa that there are a lot of things we can and should be doing, starting with the good old-fashioned econ 101 playbook of upgrading our education, making life easy for entrepreneurs and job creators and doubling down on infrastructure. That will help us out a lot.
But I do think that our toolkit is going to get more challenged because technology continues to just demonstrate astonishing new capabilities. I have ridden in the Google driverless car. I have tried to play "Jeopardy" against Watson, the world champion supercomputer from IBM. These are astonishing technologies. And they're going to have labor force implications.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, short-term, long-term.
Andrew McAfee, Lisa Lynch, thank you both very much.
ANDREW MCAFEE: Thanks.
LISA LYNCH: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Economics correspondent Paul Solman offers his own analysis of the unemployment picture. That's on our Business page.
KWAME HOLMAN: Tensions grew again today on the Korean Peninsula with reports the North has loaded two medium-range missiles onto mobile launchers. South Korean media said they were hidden on the East Coast.
Meanwhile, South Korea deployed two warships armed with missile defense systems.
We have a report from John Irvine of Independent Television News.
JOHN IRVINE, Independent Television News: It's a rare sight, the legendary spy plane the U-2. It may be an icon of the Cold War, but here it's no relic. Ironically, it's still operational in the one place where that war persists.
Three of them fly out of this U.S. base near Seoul. They can get into and out of hostile airspace within minutes. North Korea's just 50 miles from here, and this is a U-2 returning from a surveillance mission. The aircraft that was the trip wire for the 1962 Cuban missile crisis is now monitoring the North Korean missile crisis.
The North Koreans are maintaining the familiar aggressive posture. Today, they released more pictures of Kim Jong-un. At one point, he picks up a handgun himself. Later, he watches as a huge exercise unfolds. The impression given is that North Korea is preparing to fight, whether it be on land or at sea.
South of the border, the waiting and watching goes on. The U-2s will keep a close eye on things.
KWAME HOLMAN: Also today, countries with diplomats in North Korea said the government warned them their safety could not be guaranteed if conflict breaks out. About two dozen countries have diplomatic missions in Pyongyang.
There were new questions today about what university police knew about the suspected Colorado theater gunman before last summer's attack. Court documents made public late yesterday reveal James Holmes' psychiatrist warned University of Colorado, Denver, campus police that he was dangerous and had homicidal thoughts. That warning came more than a month before the July 20th shootings that killed 12 people.
Operators of 149 airport control towers slated for closure across the country gained temporary reprieves today. The Federal Aviation Administration was due to start closing them tomorrow because of government spending cuts, but a host of legal challenges has pushed back the shutdowns to mid-June.
In China, authorities slaughtered more than 20,000 birds at a major poultry market after six people died from bird flu; 16 people have come down with a new strain of the virus, but so far there are no cases of human-to-human transmission. The bird cull in Shanghai was ordered after authorities found the H7N9 virus in pigeons being sold for meat in the market. Other poultry markets in the city will close tomorrow. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control announced it is working on a vaccine in case one is needed.
At least 47 people died in Western India when an eight-story residential building collapsed; 70 others were injured. It happened Thursday evening on the outskirts of Mumbai. Indian authorities said the building was being constructed illegally, and four of its floors already were occupied. Today, rescuers combed the debris looking for signs of life. More than 20 people still are missing. Bulldozers were being used in the search.
Pope Francis urged the Catholic Church to take decisive action to root out and punish sexual abuse of children by priests. The pope met today with senior members of his staff, saying the church's credibility is at stake. Groups advocating for victims said the statements were just rhetoric until concrete action is taken.
Those are some of the day's major stories -- now back to Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: There was a stark warning today from the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, about the humanitarian crisis caused in Syria and the ability of the international community to help.
A UNICEF spokesperson said, "The needs are rising exponentially, and we are broke."
New figures show the number of Syrian refugees in Jordan alone would more than double to 1.2 million by the end of this year. But they may be the lucky ones. Millions more Syrians remain in their country.
And that's where Hari Sreenivasan picks up the story.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Bab al-Hawa means "gate of the Winds" in Arabic. In Northern Syria, at the border crossing of the same name, it is also the gate into Turkey and escape from the slaughter of civil war.
But for many Syrians, there is no way out. And here at Bab al-Hawa, in Idlib province, thousands live in a squalid makeshift camp within sight of the border and refuge.
Video journalist Ted Nieters traveled to Syria for the NewsHour and found 7,000 people huddled by the frontier. Syrian air force fighter jets flew over the camp, and sent its shell-shocked residents scurrying.
Nawaf Al Moussa came from the countryside of Idlib.
NAWAF AL MOUSSA, Refugee: It's not safe at all because at the moment the aircraft are over the camp. Every day, there is the sound of aircraft because Aleppo, which is 30 kilometers from here, there is war there. We're not fighters. We came here to feel safe, because we are civilians.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The United Nations refugee office says two years of upheaval have uprooted at least four million Syrians. That's about one-fifth of the entire population. More than a million have fled to neighboring nations; more than 300,000 are in Lebanon; a similar number in Jordan; nearly 200,000 are in Turkey, and more than 100,000 Syrians are now in Iraq.
But at least another three million have been displaced internally. And that number comes from the Syrian government itself. The actual number is suspected to be much higher. With Syria's neighbors straining to serve the huge refugee populations flooding their countries, it is becoming harder and harder for many Syrians to leave.
NAWAF AL MOUSSA: We came here and they promised to let us into Turkey. But now we have been here for one month and more, and they don't allow us to go. There is no village left, so I can't go back to my village.
ELIZABETH O'BAGY, Senior Research Analyst, Institute for the Study of War: One of the regime strategies has been kind of the inverse of normal insurgency campaigns that we think of, to the point where what they're trying to do is purposefully displace populations from town centers and from city centers, so that when the rebels take control, they're taking control of empty cities and empty villages.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Elizabeth O'Bagy is a research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington. She says many Syrian who have the financial means and who wish to flee Syria have already gone. Those left behind are largely fending for themselves.
ELIZABETH O’BAGY: They suffer from lack of food. In the winter, there was no heating units. They're in freezing temperatures with little clothing options, blankets. All of these are in short supply. Water has often been contaminated. They don't have adequate water resources, oil resources.
HARI SREENIVASAN: While the refugee populations of surrounding countries receive aid and services of varying quality and frequency, providing assistance to displaced Syrians inside has proven to be an even more difficult operation.
Amna Kizawi came to Bab al-Hawa with her son and daughter; one of her sons was killed amid the fighting.
AMNA KIZAWI, Refugee: They destroyed all the houses. And even though they tried to dig a graveyard, they bombed all the graveyards. I am living in a tent for 15 days with nothing. They haven't distributed anything to us, just a little bread and canned cheese. It's very cold at night and now very hot during the day.
CAROLYN MILES, President and CEO, Save the Children: It's very difficult to get into Syria. The checkpoints are pretty horrendous, up to 20 before we get to where we're going in terms of the aid.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Carolyn Miles is the president and CEO of Save the Children, which has more than 500 people in Syria and surrounding countries. She's just returned from Jordan and the huge Zaatari on the border; 1,600 Syrians came over the border on just one night when she was there.
In addition to the 100,000 people they help feed every day throughout the region, Save the Children is reaching about 80,000 inside the country.
CAROLYN MILES: We are delivering, again, food and water inside of Syria with partners. And when they're caught delivering food, oftentimes, they're tortured.
I think the biggest challenge is that the work that we're doing is targeted, so particularly the health system and the health facilities are being targeted.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Are there hospitals left that people can go to?
CAROLYN MILES: There are. There are still hospitals that are open. People still need health services, and so they're trying to get to those few health clinics and hospitals that are open.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But those few cannot serve millions of internally displaced, many of whom go lacking for even basic health care. Outbreaks of disease typhoid and hepatitis A are starting, thanks to shortages of sanitation and clean water.
ELIZABETH O’BAGY: One of the specific things that they have requested is greater vaccinations, in order to prevent diseases and try and help prevent the outbreak of some of the more contagious diseases that were -- they were facing.
It was significantly hindered by Turkish border authorities who weren't allowing for certain medications and certain vaccinations to get across the border.
HARI SREENIVASAN: At Bab al-Hawa, there is increasing frustration with Turkish authorities:
OMAR IBRAHIM, Serving as Nurse: Turkey promised us many times to allow these people to enter, but in vain. And you can see now that there is a protest at the border. And people want cross into Turkey, but all of that went in vain, because Turkey doesn't allow them to go.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Omar Ibrahim is serving as a nurse in the camp with little to no medical supplies and equipment. There are no doctors.
OMAR IBRAHIM: I have simple equipment, like injections, some kinds of medicine. But for many cases, I can do nothing, like for pregnant women, because they need delivery rooms, and there are no doctors. They have had two cases this winter where babies died of cold.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Lack of good sanitation and clean water is also contributing to the spread of disease.
OMAR IBRAHIM: They are facing many cases of diarrhea and leishmaniasis and scabs. In fact, because these people have not bathed in 40 days, they're going to face all those problems.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The NewsHour was told of other cases of leishmaniasis elsewhere in Idlib province. It is spread by insects. One form causes skin lesions. Another type of the disease causes acute fever, weight loss and, if untreated, is often fatal.
Doctors told 10-year-old Amel and her parents that she would need hospital care and an injection to cure what she calls "these things on my face."
AMEL, Refugee: There is no injection here. And we have to go to Turkey to find it. My mother and father started to get infected, too.
HARI SREENIVASAN: She fled with her family from their village in central Syria after her home was burned. She is one of the estimated two million displaced children in the country, according to a recent report by Save the Children. Three out of four children had lost a loved one. Young Amel is among that number.
AMEL: Everybody. I miss everything in my house, my aunts, my grandmother, even to go to school.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But she does have hopes of one day going home
AMEL: When we go back, I'm going to visit my neighbors, I'm going to play with my friends. My father says we don't have a house. And I said we are going to fix it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But now, for many trapped here in Bab al-Hawa, that day feels like it may never come.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You can learn more about the impact of war on the very young. Watch Hari's extended interview with Save the Children's Carolyn Miles online. Also there, see what life is like for students in a refugee camp classroom. That's on our World page.
JEFFREY BROWN: It's an issue that's been fraught with moral, legal and political implications. And today came the latest step, as a federal judge in New York ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make the most common morning after pill available to women and girls of all ages without a prescription.
The ruling gives the FDA 30 days to lift the age restrictions on Teva Pharmaceutical's Plan B One-Step and its generic form. Under current regulations, the emergency contraceptive, which reduces the risk of pregnancy by half if taken soon after unprotected sex, is only available over-the-counter to women 17 or older.
Younger teenagers must have a prescription. In 2011, the FDA concluded that Plan B One-Step was safe to sell to everyone without that requirement. But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled that decision, saying there wasn't enough evidence to allow the contraceptive to be sold to girls younger than 17 without a doctor's order.
Today, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman called that action "arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable, an excuse to deprive the overwhelming majority of women of their rights to obtain contraceptives without unjustified and burdensome restrictions."
In response, this afternoon in Washington, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the administration stands by its original decision.
JAY CARNEY, White House Press Secretary: Secretary Sebelius made this decision. The president supported that decision after she made it, and he supports that decision today. He believes it was the right commonsense approach to this issue.
JEFFREY BROWN: Today's ruling is now being reviewed by the Justice Department.
More now about the ruling and the long debate surrounding this issue with Sarah Kliff of The Washington Post.
Sarah, strong language from that judge. Fill in a little bit about his arguing.
SARAH KLIFF, The Washington Post: Right.
I mean, he didn't mince words in his ruling. He called it arbitrary, capricious, very much saw it as a political decision on the part of the Obama administration. And one of the things he relied on pretty heavily there was the fact that the FDA, after a rigorous review, decided this should be available over-the-counter, and that the HHS stepped in and said, you know, because of some of the concerns we have, citing not necessarily evidence of this being harmful for young girls, but saying we have concerns about young girls purchasing this, because they stepped in without that evidence.
JEFFREY BROWN: What was the evidence? What do they mean by evidence? It's not the medical safety of the actual drug vs. how it would be used?
SARAH KLIFF: Right.
So, the FDA went through and they did a rigorous study, as they do with all medications, looking at, what are some of the side effects and possible harms if the medication is taken in a way it is not supposed to be? And they found it safe.
Secretary Sebelius in her statement overruling them said that there was no testing done on 11-year-old girls. And since there are some 11-year-old girls who have reached menstruation, that there is a possibility they could use it, and saying because there was no testing on that age group that they shouldn't allow it to go over-the-counter was her argument about a year ago.
JEFFREY BROWN: That was a very controversial decision back then. Right?
SARAH KLIFF: It was.
JEFFREY BROWN: And that led directly to this lawsuit.
SARAH KLIFF: It was the first time an HHS secretary has ever overruled the FDA on a decision like this. So it was really a break from what we're used to.
JEFFREY BROWN: At the same time, as I said in the intro, this has been steeped in politics for a long time, certainly at least going back to the George W. Bush administration, including a number of resignations along the way.
SARAH KLIFF: Right.
Ever since Plan B was first approved for sale as a prescription in 1999, it's been marked with controversy. We saw, right, multiple officials resigned over the issue during the Bush administration. Many expected the Obama administration to quickly make Plan B available over-the-counter.
And many folks who were advocating it, right, were really surprised and disappointed with the decision in 2011 and are really excited about this court ruling right now.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, tell me more about that. What kind of reactions were there today from both sides?
SARAH KLIFF: So, a lot of excitement from both medical groups and women's health groups who have really been pushing the administration hard on this issue.
Some abortion opponents and social conservatives are very concerned about this ruling, that they say it will essentially remove parents and doctors from a decision that they should be involved in. And they're very worried about, you know, what it will mean to have emergency contraceptive on a shelf next to, you know, Tylenol and other over-the-counter medications.
JEFFREY BROWN: HHS and the administration can presumably appeal. Any signals or signs of what the next step would be?
SARAH KLIFF: They are being pretty quiet right now. The Justice Department says -- obviously, the ruling just came out this morning. They're reviewing the options.
Press Secretary Jay Carney for the White House says they stand by their earlier decision, but hasn't commented yet on whether the Department of Justice will pursue action to overturn this.
JEFFREY BROWN: Of course, the politics are still there, right, whichever way they go?
SARAH KLIFF: Yes. It is a tough decision.
And it's kind of been a thorn in the side of two administrations at this point. The politics might be a little bit different than the last time they addressed this issue. They're not facing reelection this time, which might give them a bit more wiggle room. But you are going to have some folks disappointed on both sides of the issue, no matter where you land.
JEFFREY BROWN: In the meantime, what is known at this point about how widely the pill is being used, how much it may have expanded, if at all, in recent years?
SARAH KLIFF: It's pretty widely used.
The CDC looked at this a few years ago, and they found, between 2006 and 2010, that about one in nine women of child-bearing age -- that works out to about 5.8 million women -- used an emergency contraceptive. It is most frequently used by women 20 to 24, and most often used either once or twice.
You don't see a lot of repeat use that some folks would worry about, relying on it as regular birth control. But it's definitely pretty widely used, and there is some feeling that the Affordable Care Act, by eliminating co-pays for contraceptives, may increase the use in years going forward.
JEFFREY BROWN: And is there the expectation that this ruling, if it stands and isn't appealed, that might affect the numbers, presumably?
SARAH KLIFF: Right, if it makes access easier.
One of the issues that has been raised here, while this affects minors a lot, in that they would no longer need a prescription, is that for women over 17, they're not going to have to go to the pharmacist or go to the drugstore when the pharmacy is open. So that could really expand access to older women as well.
JEFFREY BROWN: Sarah Kliff from The Washington Post, thanks so much.
SARAH KLIFF: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
Welcome back to the program, gentlemen.
So let's start out talking about the jobs numbers, David. We heard the analysis earlier in the show, fewer jobs created than what the economists were predicting. The rate went down, which everybody is happy about. But, overall, the picture is what?
DAVID BROOKS: Bad.
We shouldn't even be happy about the rate going down. You know, Austan Goolsbee, the former Obama administration official, called it a punch in the gut. And I think that's accurate.
There was a sense -- and I had been hearing from economists, from businesspeople that we are finally reaching takeoff, because the housing market has been looking a lot better. The private debt has been looking a little better. So all of the fundamentals seem to be fine that we're taking off. And that clearly is not the case, or probably not the case.
And so now we're stuck in this frustrating economy. And, politically, you began to see everybody rallying around their favorite causes. Why does this happen? Some people pick on sequestration. But the timing isn't quite right for that. The sequestration is probably going to hit, to the extent it does, later. Then, oh, maybe it's because the payroll tax was raised or restored to earlier levels.
But, again, retail, jobs were down, retail sales not so much down, maybe health care. Well, it's hard to see. I would only say we should be hesitant about trying to draw a narrative about a short-term cost vs. a long-term, and focus on what we heard in the discussion, some of the more fundamental issues about technology, about globalization, about men in particular dropping out of the wage -- the labor force.
Those big long-term structural problems seem to me the core thing to worry.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, what did you think about this jobs report?
MARK SHIELDS: I think it is sobering, Judy.
I think that Austan Goolsbee deserves the anti-spin award for 2013.
Usually, you get straight partisan explanations. And he said it was a punch in the gut.
It's more than that. It's more than a political setback. I mean, it raises the question -- 11.7 million Americans were looking for jobs to go to last month, and they didn't find one. And we have people, lowest percentage in the work force now in 34 years, 1979, which some of us may recall wasn't a great time economically in this country.
And I think the earlier discussion really raised what I think is the fundamental question. I mean, the moral test of any society is whether that economy serves the human beings in it or the human beings are there to serve the economy. We have got corporate profits at an all-time high. We have got the stock market going through the roof. And yet we have this human waste of capital and these broken human dreams.
And I just think it's time beyond just a quick Band-Aid fix or whatever. We have got to examine that. If we're not going to produce jobs, I mean, what are we going to do with these people with their abilities, with their energy, with their ambition, with their time? I just think it's a serious, serious question.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Should people be looking to Washington right now for solution, for answers?
DAVID BROOKS: I think some of these structural things -- I mean, it's hard. You go into a drugstore now, it used to -- there would be four cashiers checking you out. Now there's four automatic machines and one person helping out the four machines.
So that is what we are seeing. And so what can we do? And it's -- I would say both parties have very bad growth strategies. You know, cutting taxes anymore, I doubt that's going to help. Spending, well, we just can't spend that much more. Maybe some people can argue ...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Even the infrastructure spending?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, so then we look to the long-term stuff.
And infrastructure spending is not a short-term thing. That is a long-term thing that -- and I think most economists would say that would help. As we heard earlier in the program, improving the education system would help. But that is easier said than done.
So we have got a lot of big structural problems we could improve. But, as a short-term fix, you know, we have spent -- I don't know -- we have spent another $5 trillion, $6 trillion dollars in debt over the last -- since the financial crisis. We haven't solved a thing short-term yet.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you are saying neither party is offering the answer?
DAVID BROOKS: I'm really struck by the lack of a persuasive growth agenda from both parties.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
I obviously tilt more towards the Democrats' answer. But I don't -- I don't think where we have come to is that whether we assert and establish that people have a right to decent and productive work, and decent conditions, at fair wages, I mean, is that -- is that a cornerstone of the United States and our value system?
And I think, if you start there, rather than, you know, what are we going to do between now and October, I mean, if that's the question, then I think it becomes a different test for both the private sector and the public sector.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we heard the analyst -- or both of you have mentioned the earlier segment. The analyst, she said other countries have done a better job ...
MARK SHIELDS: That's right. She mentioned Norway. She mentioned Germany. She mentioned Denmark, Netherlands.
JUDY WOODRUFF: ... of supporting the economy when it hits a -- this kind of a pass.
MARK SHIELDS: No, that's exactly right. And I really do think that it is a more humane and humanitarian.
Instead of -- the German example is, instead of laying somebody off, they cut back the hours, so that there's five people working 35 hours a week, instead of, you know, four people working ...
DAVID BROOKS: Well, there are tradeoffs. Look at the European unemployment rate. It is four -- what is it, four or five points higher than ours?
The European economy is not exactly something to self-recommend itself right now. I do think they -- some German ...
MARK SHIELDS: German ...
DAVID BROOKS: German retraining may be better, but they have a different sort of economy than we do. We have a much more disruptive economy.
Then the thing that worries me is long-term -- men in particular dropping out of the labor force. As a number of economists have said, this economy still rewards education, even if this economy. If you have a college degree, your unemployment rate is very low. Women have gotten that message. Men have not gotten that message.
Men have not upped their skill levels. And so why is that? It could have to do with family structure. It could have to do with 1,000 other things, but those are the sort of fundamental things that are really hurting the labor market.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, nothing -- so, can anything be done? I mean, do I hear both of you saying ...
MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think there is an awful lot of work that needs to be done in our society. There's all kinds of tasks that need to be performed.
The question is, are we going to be stuck in this corporate model that says that -- I mean, Wal-Mart, largest employer in the country, its profits are up. It's opened new stores with fewer employees. I mean, if that's the model we are going to going to find, and just -- and turn it over and say that is fine, then we're going to end up with double-digit unemployment and wasted lives.
I mean, I just think there are all kinds of things that can be done and ought to be done. But it does require the public sector to do them.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Here, we get into more of a left-right thing.
Woolworths took jobs away from mom-and-pop 70 or 80 years ago. Wal-Mart is just a more efficient system. I think we need to use human capital more efficiently, and so more productively. And so Wal-Mart is on net an enhancement of productivity levels. But that doesn't mean you do nothing.
You increase training. You increase infrastructure spending. You get the education system, and mostly you devote less resources, fewer resources to the elderly and consumption on health care for the affluent, and much more to young families and young workers, and shift what's turned into a -- really a redistribution machine at the age scale.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of less money for the elderly, President Obama, it has just been reported overnight that in this budget that comes out next week, he is going to propose something the Republicans have been asking him to put out there, and that is cuts, Mark, in entitlements, in Social Security, Medicare, with some carve-outs for those at the lower end of the income scale and for the -- what they call extreme elderly.
They're still talking about cutbacks in benefits for people who look to government for support.
MARK SHIELDS: I agree.
I mean, this is a real body blow to those who have accused President Obama of being a socialist.
This is hardly a socialistic approach.
In addition, I mean, for not taking difficult political stands, he's been bombarded by the liberal part of his own party and many liberal groups. You know, I think, Judy, that he's probably the last best chance we're going have to reach any kind of a big or semi-big agreement is in what the president is going to unveil in his budget next Wednesday.
And I think it's an absolutely legitimate point on his side to say that the Republicans have to come up with revenue if we are going to do this, because this is a blow to the Democrats. It's been the Holy Grail of the Democratic Party platform for the past 70 years, Social Security.
And, you know, I think, in that sense, we will find out whether the commonsense caucus that editorial writers and some of the leading pundits have spoken about, whether it's the Loch Ness Monster of American politics or whether it's a reality.
DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think he's taking the right approach.
I mean, we have the Patty Murray, the Senate Democratic budget over here. We have got the Ryan budget over there. He's sort of a little closer to Murray, obviously, but he's sort of in the ballpark of where a deal will be cut.
And so some of the things I think are right and good policies, this chained CPI, which will be adjusting Social Security revenues or benefits. Some of the things, I think, are a little less persuasive. He's got some Medicare things which are not structural reform, but just trying to tamp down reimbursements at the same time as we are just running away from any kind of effort to control Medicare costs.
But if he can take this chained CPI, this Social Security thing, and he can put in a few little more moderate Medicare reforms, structural reforms, like combining Medicare A and B and some other things that I think that has some bipartisan agreement, then I do believe there are a number of Republicans who would be willing to give on revenues.
And then you -- we're not going to have a grand bargain, but then do you see a bargain. You see a functioning government making progress.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So do you think, Mark, this could lead to some kind of agreement, because right now the Republican leadership in the Congress is saying, no, this isn't enough, and we're not giving on revenue.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes, Speaker Boehner today rejected it, and so did Majority Leader Cantor.
I think one of the real key players here is Dave Camp, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. I mean, there's -- all the Republican plans say, we will send it to the Ways and Means Committee. The Democratic budget doesn't say, we will send it to the Senate Finance Committee to do it. And so they have reposed in the Ways and Means Committee and Dave Camp in particular enormous responsibility.
This is his last big chance as chairman. I mean, if he wants to make history, and Barack Obama, this is 1986 revisited. And Barack Obama is Ronald Reagan, and he is Danny Rostenkowski. Then it does take on a chance.
But I am still looking for those commonsense Republicans who are going to step up and say, yes, Mr. President, you just did bite the bullet. You did, in fact, step on the third rail of American politics, Social Security.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, the president is going over to have dinner with, what, a dozen or so Republican senators on Wednesday night?
MARK SHIELDS: Why won't he have them to the White House?
The only fun to going to the president is to go to the White House. I mean, he always wants to meet them. It's like a strange date in somebody else's house.
DAVID BROOKS: They steal the silverware.
They can't be trusted.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we have only got a couple of minutes.
North Korea, it's been -- it has gotten -- it was scary, David. It sounds scarier today than it did. They are moving missiles into position. They have said just about everything you can say. What are people saying you are talking to? How worried should they be?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, there's two schools of thought.
One is, ehh, they're blustering. It's for domestic use, that sort of thing. They have got a new leader. The second is, no, this is different. They're actually doing, as you say, some substantive things in addition to the bluster. This new leader, maybe he is unpredictable.
And so the one thing they see -- people I hear from seem to be united about is, what do we do about it? And so there are some things we can do. We're trying to pressure China. But I don't hear too much hope about that. And so there's -- so far, there seems it to be relatively little. We have tried the talks, and that doesn't seem to have worked.
MARK SHIELDS: I mean, North Korea is a Chinese client state. Without China, there is no North Korea.
But, unlike Iran, where everybody is exercised about the fact that they may get a nuclear weapon, this fellow has nuclear weapons. He is untested. He's new. He's absolutely unpredictable, and Chuck Hagel's first test as secretary of defense. I mean, I think it more than bears watching. I think it's serious stuff.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, on that sobering note, we thank you both, Mark Shields, David Brooks.
And Mark and David keep up the talk on The Doubleheader, recorded in our newsroom. That will be posted at the top of the Rundown later tonight.
JEFFREY BROWN: Next: With Tax Day looming for millions of Americans, a new investigation exposes the global use of offshore bank accounts to hide trillions of dollars and evade laws.
Again to Hari, who has the story.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Uncovering the complex workings of offshore tax havens has led to one of the largest cross-border collaborations ever between journalists.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has been combing through more than two million files of financial transaction data for more than a year. It's taken this long because the digital file size is 160 times larger than the State Department cables published by WikiLeaks in 2010.
A team of 86 investigative journalists from 46 countries has collectively examined more than 120,000 offshore accounts belonging to individuals and companies from more than 170 countries. The records show how government officials and individuals in a number of countries use covert accounts and companies to shield their wealth and how some of the top global banks work within these offshore tax havens as well.
The investigation is already leading to a series of reports, including one spotlighting the transactions of a Canadian senator's husband, who has hidden money from their equivalent of the IRS, an Australian tied to arms dealing through shell companies, and a Mongolian lawmaker who may resign over the revelations of his finances overseas.
Gerard Ryle directs the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and joins us to discuss the findings.
Thanks for being with us.
GERARD RYLE, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists: It's good to be here.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, first of all, how did you get this trove of information? What is the data?
GERARD RYLE: Well, the data is an enormous amount of sort of very unstructured data. It's got documents, spreadsheets, financial transactions, e-mails.
And it came about because of a long investigation I did in Australia about a fraud that effectively led me to this world, this secret world that I knew nothing about, which was the world of offshore.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, in this report, you say that it's not just the super-rich and the super-powerful, but it's more pervasive. Explain that.
GERARD RYLE: Well, it was probably the biggest surprise that I found.
I initially thought that the people that you expect to use tax havens are the super-wealthy. But when you look at this world, you find that it's not just the super-wealthy that are using it. It is the sort of moderately wealthy. And it pervades right down through society to doctors, dentists, you know, small-time developers.
They have all discovered this world. And they're all using it.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And you said that it contributes to fraud, tax dodging and enables political corruption. Explain that.
GERARD RYLE: Well, the very secrecy of this world allows you to misuse it.
I mean, this world is, for the most part, you imagine -- we can't prove it -- legitimate. And there's nothing illegal with using, buying an offshore company. There is nothing illegal with setting up a secret bank account. It's only if you don't report that to the authorities if you need to report it where it becomes illegal.
But because it's so secret, I mean, rogue nations can use this. We came across a company that was the front for the Iranian shipping line, you know, which has since been outlawed by the European Union, by the U.S. authorities. You know, so, basically, the way that they use it is because they can get away with anything they want.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And so included in this list of names that you have access to is 4,000 American names. Were there any surprises there? Or how are we going to find out about that reporting?
GERARD RYLE: Well, again, it was very difficult for us to work out whether or not any of these people were breaking any laws.
And our first duty as reporters was to, you know, look after the public interest. And where the -- a lot of these people are not public figures, so, therefore, it didn't jump that barrier for us, which was there has to be some there form of public interest. They have to be public figures in some way.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And you also outline that the scope or scale of this, the $21 trillion to $30 trillion dollars that are floating around in this almost second banking network?
GERARD RYLE: Well, the Tax Justice Network, which is an advocacy group, has got the best figures on what they think is the size of this offshore world. And they say that half of all world trade and a third of all world wealth now resides in the offshore world.
And this is the first time that anyone has been able to really see into that world. And I'm not saying that we have got it all comprehensively covered here. We're only looking at a very small slice of a very large world. But it's a very deep slice of that world.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So what are people using this for? Just to try to buy art without telling the IRS about it? Or how are they moving money around? What do they do with it?
GERARD RYLE: Well, some people are using it to hide money from their spouses during divorce proceedings, for instance.
You have got some super-wealthy people who like to own yachts, and they like to have companies that own those yachts for privacy reasons, in some cases. You have to assume that some of it isn't just for privacy reasons, that it's to try to hide it from authorities, not just the U.S. authorities, of course.
I mean, we're talking about data from and names from 170 countries-plus.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What do you think some of the consequences are going to be from the release of this information?
When we saw WikiLeaks, initially, we didn't really know what to make sense of it, and then eventually it had huge political consequences around the world.
GERARD RYLE: It's hard to know what is going to happen here. But the first, I guess, consequence is that a secret world is no longer secret. And it's going to send shivers through this world.
We discovered that there is a whole service industry out there of providers who, you know, are used by big banks and other, you know, everyday institutions. And they provide, you know, the means to set up offshore accounts, the means to set up offshore companies, the means to -- you know, to basically conduct your business through secrecy.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And I got to ask a question on the journalism side of it. How do you keep 80 different newspapers and everybody together and sort of keep a secret as they are developing this process? This idea of distributed reporting is pretty novel.
GERARD RYLE: Yes, but we were able to convince everybody that if they shared information and if they shared resources, that we would all end up with a better product.
And because this world has no borders, and it doesn't have any borders, the reporting took people through one country and into another. And they were able to able to share information that helped each other. And that became apparent very quickly.
And, of course, we grew the number of reporters over time. So it was a -- by the time it got to 86 reporters, the reporters who started with us were able to tell the others that it was worth their while.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So you would show them a name, a list of names and say, are these people significant or not?
So how are we going to see these reports come out? Is it the next few weeks or the next few months?
GERARD RYLE: Well, our plan is to do probably another two weeks of reporting on it and then to go back in.
We think we have only skimmed about 20 percent of the data, even after 15 months of looking at it, because there is so much in there that it is kind of impenetrable. There are even files that we haven't yet to look at because we just can't read them. It took an awful lot of technical know-how to be able to reassemble it all, to use special software to read.
And so we think there are a lot more stories in there. But this is our first attempt, basically, at breaking it open.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Gerard Ryle, thanks so much for joining us.
GERARD RYLE: Thank you.
JEFFREY BROWN: And you can find a link to the reporting by the group of journalists. That's on our home page.
The Doubleheader duo -- syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks -- join us again to weigh in on the politics of sport and the sport of politics. First up: former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's return to politics after marital infidelity caused him to take some time away from the limelight. In the politics of sport, we're down to four teams in the men's NCAA tournament. Mark's papal strategy (sticking with teams from Catholic or Jesuit schools) has not worked. We place a friendly wager on the winner, to be crowned next week.
Have a great weekend.
WASHINGTON -- A conservative Christian who helped to lead President George W. Bush's faith-based initiative but then criticized the effort has died.
David Kuo was 44 when he died Friday in Charlotte, N.C. His wife, Kimberly, tells The Washington Post that he had suffered from brain cancer for the last decade.
Kuo had been a policy adviser to Republican Sen. John Ashcroft and a speechwriter for conservative Republicans Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson and for Republican Sen. Bob Dole. He joined the Bush administration in 2001 as deputy of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
Kuo left the White House in 2003. In a book he described the Bush White House as having sought political gain through the manipulation of religious faith and called the initiative a "sad charade."
Kuo spoke with PBS NewsHour's Ray Suarez about his book "Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction." "It's a story of my political seduction ... making a journey from being more of a social gospel liberal when I was growing up to being very much a card-carrying member of the religious right," Kuo told Suarez in 2006. You can watch the full interview from the NewsHour's archives.