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

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    On Nov. 22, 1963, Secret Service agents removed an optional feature of the JFK's 1961 Lincoln Continental, a plastic cover to protect the family from bad weather. As a Dallas Herald-Tribune reporter, Jim Lehrer recounts the decision to remove the "bubble top," and whether the Plexiglass could have saved Kennedy.

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    GWEN IFILL: With every new report of the shockingly high incidence of sexual assault in the military comes new debate over how to end it.

    Today's played out on the floor of the United States Senate, as lawmakers prepared to vote on legislation that would fundamentally change how the military prosecutes its own.

    NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman reports.

    SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, D-N.Y.: Sexual assault is not new, but it has been allowed to fester in the shadows for far too long.

    KWAME HOLMAN: New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand led off the debate with an impassioned appeal to change the way the military deals with sexual assaults.

    KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Too often, these men and women find themselves in the fight of their lives, not on some far-off battlefield against an enemy, but right here within our own soil, within their own ranks, with their commanding officers as victims of horrible acts of sexual violence.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Gillibrand's amendment to the defense authorization bill would strip commanders of the power to decide whether to prosecute service members accused of serious crimes, including rape and sexual assault. Instead, that authority would be given to a corps of trained prosecutors.

    KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: And so when that commander looking at the case file says, ah, you know, can't possibly have happened, didn't happen this way. He weighs the evidence differently, differently than someone objective, who's trained, who actually knows the difference in these crimes and who knows what a rape is. They know that a rape is not a crime of romance. They know that a rape is a crime of dominance.

    KWAME HOLMAN: But, in a sharply divided Senate, Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill warned that taking immediate commanders out of the loop actually gives victims less protection.

    SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, D-Mo.: And use common sense. You're back in your unit. You have been assaulted. Which way are you going to have more protection? If a group of colonels half-a-continent away are looking at the facts of the case or if your commander has signed off? Of course if your commander has signed off, because that sends a message to the unit, we're getting to the bottom of this.

    KWAME HOLMAN: McCaskill wants to keep prosecution decisions with commanders, but limit their ability to overturn convictions in such cases. And there would be civilian review of decisions not to prosecute.

    CLAIRE MCCASKILL: It strengthens the role of the prosecutor, because it provides another layer of review over the prosecutor's decisions. It increases the accountability of commanders, making this -- evaluated on their forms and adding that other layer of review.

    KWAME HOLMAN: The push for congressional action was fueled by a Pentagon survey that estimated 26,000 service members experienced unwanted sexual contact, from touching to rape, last year, but only 3,400 of them were willing to report it. Since then, reports have jumped 50 percent. But it's unclear whether that reflects an increase in actual assaults or in reporting.

    Military leaders have steadfastly opposed any move to strip commanders of prosecutorial decisions, as the Joint Chiefs made clear in June.

    GEN. RAYMOND ODIERNO, U.S. Army Chief Of Staff: Without equivocation, I believe that maintaining the central role of commander in our military justice system is absolutely critical to any solution.

    KWAME HOLMAN: The chiefs say the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines are already taking steps to address the problem, including increased training on sexual assault awareness and prevention.


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    GWEN IFILL: It's been nearly two weeks since Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines, leaving thousands dead and millions in need of aid.

    Tonight, we look at the challenge of helping those most affected by the deadly storm.

    The familiar sounds of the market meant signs of life were returning today to devastated Tacloban. The coastal city of 220,000 lay squarely in the typhoon's path when it blasted through the Central Philippines nearly three weeks ago.

    Some of the vendors returning to the streets freely admit their wares were stolen goods, lifted from other stores and establishments during the time residents were cut off from aid and supplies.

    LORENA CAHEDIOS, typhoon victim (through translator): What we did was loot, because we were worried that we would have nothing to sell. But when we started selling what we looted, canned goods, groceries, anything, we were very happy that it all sold. Then, we had hope.

    GWEN IFILL: Others, equally resourceful, have begun using discarded refrigerators as makeshift fishing vessels.

    Elsewhere, thousands of people of all ages continue combing the debris, trying to salvage what they can, even as bodies are being counted, identified and hauled away. The official death count now stands at just over 4,000, with 1,600 missing.

    Meanwhile, aid by the truckload is starting to arrive in remote areas like eastern Samar Province.

    ALBERT MADRAZO, International Committee of the Red Cross: Slowly, slowly we are reaching the different affected population in the different areas.

    GWEN IFILL: The aid comes from the United States, Thailand, Japan, and Australia, as well as France and Britain. China announced today it's sending an emergency medical team and a naval hospital ship. The Chinese had been criticized for doing little until now.

    Foreign governments have now pledged about $320 billion in aid. But the sheer scope of the devastation remains a huge obstacle.

    ERTHARIN COUSIN, World Food Program: We are identifying areas of need on a daily basis.

    GWEN IFILL: In Manila yesterday, the head of the U.N.'s World Food Program outlined the problems confronting the relief effort.

    ERTHARIN COUSIN: The challenges of the Philippines are primarily the geographical challenges, this being an island nation, and the logistics challenges of reaching all the different pockets of small communities here.

    GWEN IFILL: So far, the U.N. says it has reached 1.9 million people out of the estimated 2.5 million still in need of food.

    Nancy Lindborg, the assistant administrator for humanitarian assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development, is just back from the epicenter of the disaster. And she joins us now.


    NANCY LINDBORG, U.S. Agency for International Development: Thank you, Gwen.

    GWEN IFILL: So, give me a sense. In the two weeks since the typhoon hit, what has been done and what remains to be done?

    NANCY LINDBORG: So, we were tracking the storm for about a week before it hit, and had teams pre-positioned in Manila.

    It took a couple of days, but we were able, working closely with the U.S. military, to be one of the first governments getting in there with airlifted supplies. When I arrived on Saturday, we had a full up-tempo relief operation under way with an air bridge by the U.S. military. We have got supplies coming in on a steady stream from our regional warehouses.

    We have focused, the U.S. government, on setting up logistics systems that can get to some of these more remote areas, bringing in shelter, emergency shelter, lifesaving food, setting up clean water systems, working with UNICEF. We focused on getting the municipal water system back up and running in Tacloban, which is now 100 -- which is reaching 100 percent of the city residents.

    GWEN IFILL: What is the biggest challenge? You mentioned water, transportation, sanitation, logistics. What is the biggest barrier to getting things done?


    NANCY LINDBORG: The biggest barrier has been the logistical challenges.

    The airports, the roads initially were all inaccessible. And so what has happened now is most of the major arteries are cleared away. The airports and the seaports are working, not perfectly, but we're able to get that supply chain operating and we're focused on moving lifesaving supplies through those logistical systems.

    GWEN IFILL: You have been on the ground for many of these types of disasters in the past.

    As you watch this one and compare to other ones you have seen, what is the most effective kind of aid that comes in these early days?

    NANCY LINDBORG: Well, first of all, we had extraordinary coordination across the U.S. government, U.S. aid working closely with our military and closely with the government of the Philippines.

    Unfortunately, that's a government that has a lot of experience with responding to disasters. They have had 26 named storms this year alone.

    GWEN IFILL: This year.

    NANCY LINDBORG: They have run through the alphabet, A through Z. That's the level of battering weather they experienced.

    GWEN IFILL: That makes this year the worst on record?

    NANCY LINDBORG: The worst since 1993.

    And the month ahead is the worst storm season typically. So, we worked very closely with the government of the Philippines to increase their preparedness and ability to respond, which is some of what you saw with the level of evacuation in advance of the storm and the coordination that has emerged on the ground to get distribution out to remote areas.

    GWEN IFILL: We see all -- we saw all of the aid that is coming from countries around the world. Which is most useful, direct cash or food aid?

    NANCY LINDBORG: You know, it's always looking at, what is the context?

    This was a vast-swathe storm. Plus, the surge of water affected 13 million people. In the epicenter of Tacloban, where we're focused, it's too early for cash to be given out. So we're focusing on urgent lifesaving shelter, food, clean water, hygiene kits, so people have soap. People have lost everything. They are dealing with a life-changing set of losses. We will move as quickly as possible to more early recovery and helping people get back up on their feet.

    GWEN IFILL: You know, in other disasters, in prior recovery efforts, like in Haiti, comes to mind, a lot of effort put in, a lot of money, a lot of logistical help from around the world, and then it emerges later that it didn't have its desired effect.

    How do you guard against that happening here?

    NANCY LINDBORG: You know, the most important business is that, in the Philippines, you have a much more capable government that is used to dealing with storms. And...

    GWEN IFILL: There is an infrastructure, a governmental infrastructure that still exists?

    NANCY LINDBORG: At every level.

    I visited a command center that the local government has set up in the middle of Tacloban City, Tacloban, which is humming with hundreds of Philippine volunteers assembling family packs. We were able, using our flexible food assistance money, to locally procure rice to go into those packs.

    They have already got that system up and running. There's been a remarkable resilience at the community level, the local government, and at the national government.

    GWEN IFILL: Does that resilience also extend to rebuilding, or is it too soon to start talking about looking forward in that way?

    NANCY LINDBORG: You know, rebuilding is always the hardest. That's when people stop paying attention and the cameras go away.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    NANCY LINDBORG: I invite you, Gwen, to ask that question, re-look at how this is going six months from now.

    That's the long, hard work of rebuilding and helping people really rekindle hope and get a future again.

    GWEN IFILL: Is it also part of the rebuilding or the future-oriented process to try to figure out ways to prepare for this kind of attack, onslaught again?

    NANCY LINDBORG: Absolutely.

    We have -- USAID has focused globally on rebuilding resilience, as we have look this increased tempo of extreme weather. So, it's everything from rice seeds that are resistant to saltwater. It's -- when you walk around Tacloban, you see the structures that are still standing were of better materials and better built. We can do -- we can help those communities build more storm-resistant structures.

    GWEN IFILL: And what -- and what does happen? You just alluded to this. What does happen when, inevitably, we all look away?

    NANCY LINDBORG: Well, we won't look away.

    The U.S. government is committed to staying in a supportive role and to help with that reconstruction process. We're already focused on what are the ways to move into early recovery and to take what is our AID program and help adjust it. It's -- that's the longest, hardest part of this journey, and it's critical that people stay engaged.

    GWEN IFILL: Nancy Lindborg of the U.S. Agency for International Development, I hope you get some rest. Thanks for going, and thanks for coming back.

    NANCY LINDBORG: Thanks for having me, Gwen.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now the latest on the president's moves to deal with the cancellations of health insurance policies and the challenges of trying to fix it.

    State insurance commissioners, who will play a big role in all this, met with President Obama this afternoon.

    And that brings us back to our series on the impact of the Affordable Care Act, as people learn more of the details.

    Tonight, we have the story of a Colorado woman whose current insurance plan is being canceled.

     KATHLEEN BAKER: My name is Kathleen Baker. I work part-time in the real estate industry here in Denver. And I have had an individual health insurance policy for the past six years.

    I'm insured with Kaiser Permanente. And I have found the quality of their care to be perfect, excellent, in many ways, better than I could have expected.

    I'm a fairly healthy person, so, most of all, I go to them once a year for my annual visit. The few times I have needed to see them in addition to that, they have always been very responsive. I was planning to keep this plan for the future. I had hoped that, as had been said, that if you had an existing policy that you were happy with, that you would able to keep it.

    I, of course, was one of the millions of Americans who got a letter that said my policy wasn't one of those that I could keep.

    "Because your current plan does not meet the requirements by law, you will need to choose a new Kaiser Permanente plan by December 15, 2013, or you will lose your coverage."

    They gave me what my options were. They told me in that letter which policy going forward they felt was the most comparable to the one I have had historically. The monthly premium has gone up by 17 percent. That, by itself, really not that bad.

    What's otherwise bad is that I had an annual deductible of $3,000. The closest to that is now to have a $4,500 annual deductible. My previous annual deductible was also my annual total out-of-pocket maximum. Going forward, it looks like the maximum annual out-of-pocket expense is going to be $6,350.

    Now, that's 112 percent of what my prior amount was. If I add my premiums together with my maximum potential out-of-pocket expenses, I have about a 61 percent potential increase in my health expenditures on an annual basis.

    I know that the president and the administration have said -- and I presume, if they say it, they believe it -- that these plans are substandard. This wasn't a substandard plan. It was a plan that was good for me. Now I have to have a higher-premium plan, a higher potential out-of-pocket maximum on an annual basis.

    I don't see how this could be a better plan for me. When I saw that the health care act had been passed, I really did believe that I would be able to keep my health care plan. While I don't like to participate in sort of conspiracy theories, I do believe that because of the economics of how the plan works, they need a number of people who underutilize services, but pay for those services, to go onto the exchanges.

    And in order for that to happen, if they cancel my plan, I go onto that exchange, of course, the economics of that is that somebody else who does use health care services more often will be subsidized through me. I understand that that's how it works.

    I expected that I would be paying something more. I don't know how we can cover all those who aren't insured without some of us paying more. I don't think I expected a 61 percent increase to my health care costs as a result of this. I think that's much higher than any one of us could have expected.

    I have written to all of my congressmen. I am hoping that I will hear back from them. And I have until December 15. And I'm hoping that, at the very least, since they're not going to roll back Obamacare, I'm hoping that they at least go with their promise of allowing those of us that had plans that we liked to keep them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We checked back with Kathleen Baker, and she says she doesn't know yet whether her insurer will now let her stay with her current plan. Even if that were to happen, she told us, she's concerned the president's action only buys her one more year before another likely cancellation.

    We try to fill out the bigger picture again.

    And Julie Rovner of NPR is back with us to help.

    Welcome back.

    JULIE ROVNER, National Public Radio: Nice to be here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it is understandable why Kathleen Baker is upset, 61 percent increase in what she would pay. What is your sense? What's our understanding of the likelihood that she will be able to keep the current policy?

    JULIE ROVNER: We really don't know. This was something, of course, that the president tried to sort of plug in last week, as a way to try to at least not, if make good on his promise, at least try to make a little bit better on his promise.

    But it's very complicated. He started out saying, if you like your plan, you can keep it. And then it sort of become, if you like your plan, you can keep it maybe for one more year and maybe if your insurance company says so. And then it became if your insurance company says so, but only if your state insurer says so, and now maybe not even that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, now, we know -- and we just reported this -- the president meeting late this afternoon with a handful of some state insurance commissioners. How are they reacting? They have some say in how all this turns out.

    JULIE ROVNER: That's right.

    And they're reacting kind of all across the board. We really don't know yet. Only a handful of states have really said. But it turns out it's even more complicated than the insurance commissioners deciding. In some number of states -- we don't know the exact number, but it seems to be about a dozen -- the states have actually written into either their state laws or their state regulations these same requirements to mirror the federal requirements, that after January 1, 2014, insurance companies can no longer sell or renew policies that are not in compliance with these new federal rules.

    So even if the state insurance commissioners wanted to say, OK, you can have another year, they can't because their hands are tied by their own state laws and regulations. So it becomes that much more difficult to basically uncancel these canceled policies.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And it's interesting, because it looks as if some of the states that were trying to go along with the president and the health care law are the very states who are now saying, we can't double back and make changes.

    JULIE ROVNER: That's right. And there are reasons.

    I mean, some of them are practical, that it's very difficult in a short amount of time between now and January 1, to do this. But it's also because they're worried about the risk pools. And I think, you know, that basically the -- our woman from Colorado is correct, that, in some cases, they are asking healthy people to pay more to help offset the cost of those sick people.

    And they're worried that if it's the healthy people who have been paying less who keep their plans, who keep these plans for another year, that there will be only sick people in the risk pools and then, for the following year, for 2015, insurers are going to raise their rates. That will make healthy people not anxious to sign up, and then you get into that terrible insurance death spiral that we hear so much about.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we talked about the commissioners, Julie. What about the insurance companies? How are they dealing with this?

    JULIE ROVNER: Well, they have also been sort of all over the place.

    I know, in Florida, a number of insurance companies have said that, yes, they will uncancel these plans. But a lot of them, again, have been worried more about the practicalities. They have to go in. They have to send more letters. They have to give people a choice of other plans or of keeping their plans or of going on the exchange.

    They have basically spent most of this past year setting up new plans, setting up their software networks. It would be extremely difficult for them to undo all of this in that short a period of time, even if they were allowed to. They have to go back to state regulators. If they're going to offer these plans for another year, they would probably want to get rate adjustments. They have to go to regulators to get permission for that.

    All of this, again, is very, very difficult.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And is there a timetable here? Is there a date by which they really have to make a decision?

    JULIE ROVNER: Well, if they have canceled these plans starting on January 1, that would be the date. In the exchanges, you have to basically purchase a plan by December 15 in order to have coverage begin January 1.

    We're really talking about that short a window now. It's towards the end of November. You have to, at least in the exchange, select your coverage by December 15. That's getting to be a really short amount of time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let's talk about the administration's other big headache, and that is the website, which has been the problem from the beginning of the rollout in October.

    There was some testimony on Capitol Hill yesterday, a little bit of new information. What does it look like?

    JULIE ROVNER: Well, of course, what we learned yesterday is that there are parts of the website,  particularly some of the back-end parts of the website, or they call them the not-consumer-facing parts of the website, that are not basically yet built.

    And what they are saying is that these are things to connect some of the payments to some of the insurers, things that won't necessarily be needed quite yet, because, after all, payments don't start coming in until the middle of December or until January.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, is that -- is that something that they're confident can be fixed?

    JULIE ROVNER: That's what they're saying, but, of course, they have been confident that all of this could be fixed.

    And one of the ironies today is that the website has been down most of the day today. Secretary Sebelius was off doing a demonstration. She tried to get on the website and found that the website was down.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So this -- the promise or the comment from a couple of weeks ago that it will be available and usable for most people who try to use it by the end of November, what are they saying?

    JULIE ROVNER: That is still what they're saying.

    What they're saying is that the people for whom it not be available and usable by the end of November are mostly people who have -- not because the website won't be working, but because they have individual situations that are such that they will need to go to specialists. They will need to make a call. They will need other kinds of help.

    So, they do insist that they're going to have this ready and running smoothly. But that's basically just a week and a couple of days away from now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we are really glad to have you here to help us walk through all this.

    Julie Rovner of NPR, thank you.

    JULIE ROVNER: You're welcome.


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    GWEN IFILL: Talk to people who work in the space business, and you will often hear worry that the public is losing interest in the space program.

    But, earlier this year, a Canadian astronaut helped change that, at least for a while, by taking advantage of the digital age to provide a unique look at what life is like in orbit.

    NewsHour science correspondent Miles O'Brien has a conversation with Chris Hadfield from our New York studio.

    NEIL ARMSTRONG, NASA astronaut: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

    MILES O’BRIEN: There was a time when astronauts were global superstars, household names. Those days may be gone, but one recently retired spacefarer has managed to cut through the clutter and make an extraordinary connection between life on and off the planet.

    His out-of-the-world-cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" went viral faster than a speeding space station.

    MAN: Do you have your trusty floating guitar pick with you?

    MILES O’BRIEN: Before he released the video, he had set himself apart by performing far-flung accompaniment to artist likes Neil Young and Barenaked Ladies. And he made videos that offered some fascinating slices of life in the world of micro-gravity, where even the mundane is worth exploring.

    How do you trim your fingernails? Hadfield has a video how-to.

    COL. CHRIS HADFIELD, retired Canadian astronaut: That one got away.

    MILES O’BRIEN: He is a star on Twitter, with about a million followers, and generally goes out of his way to share the experience of leaving the planet.

    His latest effort is a memoir entitled "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything.

    Colonel Chris Hadfield, welcome.

    CHRIS HADFIELD: Thanks very much, Miles.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Not every astronaut makes it a priority to share the experience with the public. You have. Why?

    CHRIS HADFIELD: I have since the beginning.

    I flew in space three times. And I was a kid growing up who would have loved the opportunity to meet an astronaut or to get some more insight. I wrote to NASA for them to mail me stuff. And I watched what the Apollo astronauts did, and it kind of set really strongly in me that, if I ever get an opportunity to do something like this, I'm going to do everything I can to share it with people.

    This last time, having Internet connectivity, have wide bandwidth where we could send video down and where I could take a picture and within minutes tweet it to a million people, it just finally allowed me to really share the experience with as many people who wanted to come on board.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Well, how much of this was serendipity and how much of this was planned? It looks in retrospect like a pretty concerted effort to build a following for space and you, too.

    CHRIS HADFIELD: The Canadian Space Agency recognized that this was going to be a great chance to show people what it is like to live in space, so a couple of years before flight, they gave me a video camera and they said, hey, as you're going through training, just make little videos and we will learn together how to turn out little YouTube clips.

    And when I got to orbit, I sort of had the idea that I would do it, but we didn't really have a big plan. And then one day, I opened up a can of peanuts. And I just peeled that back that little -- that little sort of foil lid, and it looked like it was like full of cockroaches.

    I slammed it shut again going, yee. I looked again, and it's just because the peanuts were all bouncing around inside. And Tom Marshburn and I were going, hey, that's cool.

    And I thought, if that looks cool to us, this will look cool to everybody. And so I just grabbed an iPad, did a little film of it, sent it to the ground. The CSA put it up, and millions of people looked at it. And so it kind of built from that. We had built a little bit of plan, but it was very snowballish and it just kind of grew on itself, and the results were huge.

    MILES O’BRIEN: So, what's the lesson of the peanuts and the fingernails?


    MILES O’BRIEN: Is it -- is it that there's no amount of minutia that is too small when it comes to being in space or that people are focused on stuff that really isn't that important in the grand scheme?

    CHRIS HADFIELD: People want to know what it's like in space.

    You and I have talked about space for a long time. I have gone to thousands of places to go talk about spaceflight. And people always want to know, what is it like? How do you go to the bathroom? What happens when you sneeze? What happens if? What happens if? How do you use everything? How do you use a toilet? How to you make lunch?

    And so they're asking the up-front curiosity question. But the real motivation is, how does that matter? And that's what I tried to do the whole time up there, was to show them, hey, this is cool, this is fun, but, meanwhile, you're coming on board a space station that will show you that if I float a ball of water with pepper oil in it, think about what you could do with that experiment.

    Think about what this environment could allow you to do, everything from taking photographs of the Earth to maybe recording a rock video.

    MILES O’BRIEN: So, aside from the amazing pictures of floating peanuts, fingernails, and an amazing cover of David Bowie's music...


    MILES O’BRIEN: ... give us a justification for this space station, $100 billion spent.


    MILES O’BRIEN: Do you feel like this is -- the taxpayers should feel good about this?

    CHRIS HADFIELD: Oh, yes, absolutely.

    I mean, if you pull a number out of the air, like $100 billion spent, you have to put it in context, right? What else over that length of time, over the 20-plus years we have been working on space station, what are all the other things we have spent money on? Otherwise, you know, it's a number that just becomes sort of an out-of-reference thing.

    But let's just talk about space station. Countries that were enemies within living memory, Germany, and Japan, and Russia, and the U.S., and Canada, and all across Europe, doing something that rises above the day-to-day squabbles of life, giving ourselves sort of a common enemy of complexity and cost, and it's really the only way a space station like that could get built.

    It has to be international, because it's such a long-term thing. And so it serves a great function as a symbol of what can happen when you do things right. It's also a laboratory, and a laboratory like none we have ever built.

    There are, like, 200 experiments running up there, everything from a device that we invented that can do blood analysis in 10 minutes in a thing the size of a shoe box or a toaster, right through to looking at nanoparticles and how they behave in magnetic fields, so we can use them for shock absorbers and holding up buildings in earthquakes, to the alpha magnetic spectrometer, which is like a Nobel Prize-level thing that is trying to understand what the whole universe is made of.

    We don't know what 95 percent of the universe is even made of, and we can figure that out, hopefully, using the space station. So it is both a great source of invention and research, but also an unbeatable point of inspiration for the planet.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Final question. You're now on the sidelines, retired, after an illustrious career in space.


    MILES O’BRIEN: And you have had a little bit of time to think, I think, about where we have been and where we're going. When I say we, I mean that collectively.

    Where should we be going in space?

    CHRIS HADFIELD: You know, when I'm trying to predict the future, I try to look at the past and look for examples.

    And the way we have always done it is, we kind of send out a probe to see what might be there, get a feel for what's possible, see if it will sustain us, and then we start moving there. It's natural. It's what we have done in space so far.

    We sent out the earliest to see if we could even sustain suborbital, then orbital. And then we started the building Skylab. And then we built space station, and we have now moved to Earth in low-Earth orbit.

    And, to me, the obvious next step -- the beauty of a space station is we can bail out and be home in a couple of hours. The obvious next step, I think, is the moon. It's three days away. We have so much we need to invent before we go further out into the solar system. How do you generate power? How do you navigate? How do you do all those things?

    And the moon, if things all go to hell in a handbasket, we can get in and be home in three days. So, to me, the obvious next choice, beyond the space station, would be go to the moon, and, once we learn everything there, then go further.

    MILES O’BRIEN: And to those who say, been there, done that, what do you say?

    CHRIS HADFIELD: Been there, done that?

    That would indicate that the reason we went to the moon was purely for entertainment. And that's not why we explore. That's not how we have ever settled anywhere. That would have been like, I don't know, Leif the Lucky or Columbus going across the Atlantic to saying, wow, there is a whole continent here, but there's no reason to ever come back because I have already been here once.

    That's just -- that's not human nature. It's not our pattern, and it won't be our pattern in space.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Colonel Chris Hadfield, thank you very much.

    CHRIS HADFIELD: Thanks, Miles.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight: honoring the accomplishments of notable Americans with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It's the highest civilian award given in the United States.

    John F. Kennedy first proposed the medal 50 years ago, but he died before he could present it to anyone.

    Today, following in the tradition of every president since then, President Obama bestowed the honor to a diverse group in the East Room of the White House.

    PRESIDENT PRESIDENT OBAMA: On behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Musicians, scientists and politicians were among those honored.

    The group also included Ben Bradlee, who oversaw The Washington Post's coverage of the Watergate scandal, the late astronaut Sally Ride, whose longtime partner accepted on her behalf, and Mario Molina, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on how pollutants deplete the ozone layer.

    Sports heroes were honored, including Hall of Famer and Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: A man who came up through the Negro Leagues making $7 a day and became the first black player to suit for the Cubs and one of the greatest hitters of all time. Ernie became known as much for his 512 home runs as for his cheer and his optimism and his eternal faith that someday the Cubs would go all the way.  


    JUDY WOODRUFF: The University of North Carolina's legendary basketball coach Dean Smith wasn't able to attend, but his wife did.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Dean Smith is one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history, but his successes go far beyond X's and O's.  

    Even as he won 78 percent of his games, he graduated 96 percent of his players.  

    While Coach Smith couldn't join us today due to an illness that he's facing with extraordinary courage, we also honor his courage in helping to change our country. He recruited the first black scholarship athlete to North Carolina and helped integrate a restaurant and a neighborhood in Chapel Hill. That's the kind of character that he represented on and off the court.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, a tribute to two music stars.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Loretta Lynn was 19 the first time she won the big -- she won big at the local fair.

    Her canned vegetables brought home 17 blue ribbons...


    PRESIDENT OBAMA: ... and made her Canner of the Year.


    PRESIDENT OBAMA: For a girl from Butcher Hollow, Ky., that was fame.

    Fortunately for all of us, she decided to try her hand at things other than canning. Her first guitar cost $17, and with it this coal miner's daughter gave voice to a generation, singing what no one wanted to talk about and saying what no one wanted to think about.

    As a young man in Cuba, Arturo Sandoval loved jazz so much, it landed him in jail. It was the Cold War, and the only radio station where he could hear jazz was the Voice of America, which was dangerous to listen to.

    But Arturo listened anyway. Later, he defected to the United States knowing he might never see his parents or beloved homeland again. Without freedom, he said, there is no life. And, today, Arturo is an American citizen and one of the most celebrated trumpet players in the world.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: This year marks the 50th anniversary for several pivotal moments in civil rights history. Mr. Obama honored two notable figures, the Reverend C.T. Vivian, a leader in the movement, and the late Bayard Rustin, who helped organize the 1963 March on Washington.

    His partner was on hand.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: But Bayard had an unshakable optimism, nerves of steel, and, most importantly, a faith that if the cause is just and people are organized, nothing can stand in our way.

    So, for decades, this great leader, often at Dr. King's side, was denied his rightful place in history because he was openly gay. No medal can change that, but, today, we honor Bayard Rustin's memory by taking our place in his march towards true equality, no matter who we are or who we love.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: A pioneer of the women's movement was celebrated as well, Gloria Steinem.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: As a writer, a speaker, an activist, she awakened a vast and often skeptical public to problems like domestic violence, the lack of affordable child care, unfair hiring practices.

    And because of her work across America and around the world, more women are afforded the respect and opportunities that they deserve. But she also changed how women thought about themselves. And Gloria continues to pour her heart into teaching and mentoring. Her one piece of advice to young girls is -- I love this -- do not listen to my advice.


    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Listen to the voice inside you and follow that.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president awarded a medal to President Clinton. While the two men have had their differences over the years, President Obama thanked him today.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: And I think lifting up families like his own became the story of Bill Clinton's life.

    As president, he proved that, with the right choices, you could grow the economy, lift people out of poverty. We could shrink our deficits and still invest in our families, our health, our schools, science, technology. In other words, we can go farther when we look out for each other.

    And, as we've all seen, as president, he was just getting started.

    I'm grateful, Bill, as well for the advice and counsel that you have offered me on and off the golf course...


    PRESIDENT OBAMA: ... and -- and, most importantly, for your lifesaving work around the world, which represents what is the very best in America.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Two long-serving members of Congress received honors, former Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana and the late Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii.

    As for Oprah Winfrey, the president cited not just her television shows, but other accomplishments.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Even with 40 Emmys, the distinction of being the first black female billionaire, Oprah's greatest strength has always been her ability to help us discover the best in ourselves. Michelle and I count ourselves among her many devoted fans and friends.  

    As one of those fans wrote, "I didn't know I had a light in me until Oprah told me it was there."

    What a great gift.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: Two others received a medal, the Nobel Prize winner psychologist Daniel Kahneman, and Patricia Wald, a former federal appellate judge who served on the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.


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    GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight: a different take on clashing cultures in Afghanistan.

    Playwright CHARLES RANDOLPH-WRIGHT captured that in an unusual love story that also casts light on the role of women in a war zone. "Love in Afghanistan" had its world premiere at Arena Stage in Washington recently.

    Jeffrey Brown talked to the Randolph-Wright, who is also the director the hit Broadway show "Motown: The Musical."

    Here is an excerpt of that conversation.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I think the first question should be, why write about Afghanistan, something we see in the news, we cover on this program?

    CHARLES RANDOLPH-WRIGHT, playwright: Exactly, often, every day, actually.

    I read an article about the practice of bacha posh, which is young girls dressing up as boys to survive. And it -- it stunned me, and I thought, I have to tell this story. And I couldn't get it out of my head and just started reading everything I could. And the next thing I knew, "Love in Afghanistan," this play, was created.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And when you say reading everything, you mean suddenly everything in the news and...

    CHARLES RANDOLPH-WRIGHT: Yes, because every day there -- in every day, there are articles about Afghanistan.


    CHARLES RANDOLPH-WRIGHT: Everything, there's something.

    But I looked for all the things that were the other side of Afghanistan. You see the things about war. I wanted to know about the people and about lapis lazuli, just everything that I could find.

    And it's a wealth of material on the Internet about the people there. That's what interested me.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, I was curious, because writers -- the mantra is write what you know. Right? But writers often write about what they don't know. But when you're writing about -- you haven't been to Afghanistan, right, or in the war -- when you're writing about something that is so contemporary, that people are so sort of in your face, is it harder, or do you feel more responsibility to get it right in some way?

    CHARLES RANDOLPH-WRIGHT: Yes, you do feel the responsibility to be accurate, to learn as much as you can.

    So I had a lot of people who assisted me on this who were Afghan, who are from the military. But I looked at it at the perspective of the character, the hip-hop artist that goes there. I'm that person, in a way, and the audience is that person, because he's our way in. We are the ones who know nothing about that world. Even though we have been there for so long, we don't know those people.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That was the way in, to have that character coming in?

    CHARLES RANDOLPH-WRIGHT: Yes. And so he -- the questions that we would ask, he asks in this piece.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It's set in war, but a lot of humor, obviously, there, and it's a love story.

    CHARLES RANDOLPH-WRIGHT: It's a love story.

    And it's not just these two people falling in love. It's about love of country, love of family. And that's ultimately why I called it "Love in Afghanistan," because it deals with different parts of that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, I'm thinking about playwright, director, and an actor as well.

    CHARLES RANDOLPH-WRIGHT: Back in the day.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Back in the day.


    JEFFREY BROWN: It's an interesting and successful career you're creating and have created. Was any of it planned?

    CHARLES RANDOLPH-WRIGHT: What was planned was just to tell the truth, was to follow the stories I believed in.

    And I loved working in all forms of media. People say, do you write or direct? And I say, yes. Do you work in television, film, or theater? And I say, yes, because I love each one of them. They inform each other, how they work together.

    Theater is my first love, because it's live. But I love working in all aspects of the business. And to be able to tell stories is a great gift. And I take that seriously.


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    On Nov. 22, 1963, Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer were two reporters covering a presidential visit. MacNeil was a White House correspondent for NBC News. Lehrer was working the federal beat as a reporter for the Dallas Times-Herald. Both men were assigned to cover President John F. Kennedy's visit to Dallas. They ended up reporting on his death.

    Watch NewsHour co-founders MacNeil and Lehrer's full interview with Judy Woodruff in the playlist above. And tune in to Thursday night's broadcast of PBS NewsHour to catch our special report on the JFK assassination.

    For more on Kennedy's legacy, explore all of NewsHour's coverage to mark the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

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    Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., exits D.C. Superior court after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges of possession of cocaine on Wednesday. Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images

    It's not every day a "wakeup call" for a member of Congress involves getting busted for buying 3.5 grams of cocaine. But that's what freshman Rep. Trey Radel called it late Wednesday night when announcing he would take a leave of absence from his work in the House to attend an intensive substance abuse program in Florida. He will donate his salary to charity.

    The Florida Republican pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor possession of cocaine, as authorities revealed he'd tried to purchase the drugs for $250 from an undercover law enforcement officer at Circa, a Dupont Circle restaurant. He will be on probation for one year and must undergo treatment.

    The Morning Line

    Politico's Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer note that Speaker John Boehner "has made swiftly dealing with bad behavior a signature of his leadership, at times working behind the scenes to orchestrate an exit or levy a punishment on lawmakers caught in ethical or legal mishaps," but hasn't done so in this case. Roll Call's Matt Fuller and Hannah Hess, meanwhile, learned that Radel tried to meet with Boehner but wasn't able to talk with him until after the news broke Tuesday.

    The Washington Post has more detail:

    During his late-night news conference Wednesday, Radel mentioned painful events in his past, including his mother's alcoholism and her death from choking during his wedding reception. He said he is seeking "intensive inpatient" treatment but did not say how long the treatment or his leave of absence would last. During his absence, he said, he plans to donate his congressional salary to charity.

    Radel spoke lovingly of his wife and son. But even as he focused on his troubles, he never dropped the sweeping language of a congressman. He would begin recovery not just for his family, he said, but for his district.

    "I hope, like family, southwest Florida can forgive me for this. I've let them down," Radel said. "But I do believe in faith, forgiveness and redemption." Talking Points Memo posts all the photos Radel has taken of himself as he's traveled. The 37-year-old lawmaker, a former newscaster, built a name for himself on social media.

    It's not clear whether Radel's actions will have longer lasting effects on his GOP caucus or his Sunshine State seat, but we'll keep an eye on the story.


    Senators will return today to the Defense Authorization measure setting military policy and other matters, with amendments on how to curb sexual assault front-and-center in a heated debate. It's unclear when the Senate will vote on the amendments, or the final passage of the measure, something that has senior lawmakers flustered.

    Armed Services Chairman Sen. Carl Levin scolded colleagues Wednesday for slow-walking the process. If they don't finish the bill before Thanksgiving, there will not be a conference report because both chambers are only in for one more week before the end of the year. It would be "the first time in 50 years" that Congress hasn't passed a defense bill, the Michigan Democrat said. He suggested some of his colleagues were working to get "leverage" on their amendments amid political arguments. "Which I guess is the currency around here apparently," Levin said.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Roll Call he would try to limit debate if there is "no hope" to get something finished.

    The NewsHour examined the amendment to the Defense Authorization Act proposed by New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand that would take the decision to prosecute military sexual assault cases out of the chain of command. Kwame Holman notes the idea has some opposition from senators and military leaders.

    Watch the segment here or below:

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    Students release lanterns during the opening ceremony of the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival in #Myanmarpic.twitter.com/cyc8pYaxVD

    — Agence France-Presse (@AFP) November 21, 2013

    The Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival marks the end of the rainy season in Myanmar and is celebrated on a full moon in November.

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    After President John F. Kennedy's death, a nation grieved. As reporters, NewsHour co-founders Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil gathered any information to make sense of the tragedy. But it was personal too. Lehrer and MacNeil reflect on the profound impact of the Kennedy's death on their lives.

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    Without the convenience of cell phones or Internet, Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer spent a lot of time finding telephone land lines to report details on President John F. Kennedy's assassination. MacNeil describes the moment when then-press secretary Malcolm Kilduff confirmed that Kennedy had died of a gunshot wound to the brain.

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    Video via Reuters

    620 miles south of Tokyo, a new Japanese island has taken form thanks to an eruption of an undersea volcano.

    The new landmass measures 660 feet in diameter and joins approximately 30 islands in Japan's Ogasawara chain and reportedly is the first volcano-created island for Japan since the 1970s. The Telegraph reported an interview with a volcanologist that said the island's stay in the area could be brief due to errosion. There does stand a chance, he said, that it could remain permanently.

    Japan seemingly would embrace the latter. "If it becomes a full-fledged island," said a chief government spokesperson, "we would be happy to have more territory."

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    At about 11:10 a.m. EST, Thursday, the Vice Presidential pool rolled up to Capriotti's, a Delaware-based Italian hoagie chain -- one of Vice President Joe Biden's favorite -- celebrating its grand opening in downtown Washington, D.C.

    AP White House reporter Josh Lederman did a play-by-play on Twitter.

    Biden swings by grand opening of DC branch of Delaware sandwich shop Capriotti's pic.twitter.com/pEjzxjGmV8

    — Josh Lederman (@joshledermanAP) November 21, 2013

    Not even a lunch run allows the Vice President to step away from politics. While in line, the former senator from Delaware was asked if he supported Harry Reid's push for the "nuclear option," which would reform the filibuster in the Senate.

    At sandwich shop, asked if he supports what Senate is doing today, @VP#Biden says "Yes, I do."

    — Josh Lederman (@joshledermanAP) November 21, 2013

    While needing no help to answer the reporters, it appears the Vice President did need some help to pay for his meal.

    .@VP#Biden, at sandwich shop, short on cash, borrows some from aide pic.twitter.com/tOvKNasnOl

    — Josh Lederman (@joshledermanAP) November 21, 2013

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    As the doctors at Parkland Hospital scrambled to save the president's life, Jim Lehrer was still at Love Field Airport in Dallas and unaware Kennedy had been shot. It was not until he went into a restaurant at the terminal that he discovered the news.

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    WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats eased the way for swift approval of President Barack Obama's current and future nominees on Thursday, voting unilaterally to overturn decades of Senate precedent and undermine Republicans' ability to block final votes.

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    On Nov. 22, President John F. Kennedy was gunned down as his presidential motorcade made its way through downtown Dallas. A half-century later, the world's fascination with the 35th president of the United States hasn't waned. 10 authors, historians and others remember the assassination of a president.

    View full content

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    Massachusetts has the most expensive health care costs in the country. Harvard's David Cutler explains what the state is doing about it.

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    President Obama travels in a heavily armored Chevrolet Cadillac, dubbed the Beast, and has a Secret Service made up of 3,200 special agents and 1,300 uniformed officers. But PBS NewsHour co-founder Robert MacNeil remembers the 1960s when it was not nearly as difficult to get close to the commander-in-chief.

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    GWEN IFILL: The Senate's long-festering fight over filibusters came to a head today. Majority Democrats pushed through a rules change, making it easier to force action on presidential nominees. Before, it took 60 votes. It will now take 51. Democrats said it will end gridlock. Republicans say it's an abuse of power. We will hear some of the debate and talk to two senators right after the news summary.

    Wall Street rallied past a new milestone today on signs of improvement in the job market. The Dow Jones industrial average added 109 points to close above 16000 for the first time. The Nasdaq rose nearly 48 points to close at 3969.

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged tribal leaders -- tribal elders today to support a security deal with the U.S. It would keep thousands of American troops in Afghanistan for another decade. But Karzai said he will leave the signing of the agreement to his successor next year. The U.S. special representative on Afghanistan will join us later in the program.

    An apparent U.S. drone strike in Pakistan has killed another senior figure of the Haqqani Network. Police said he was one of three top militants who died when missiles blasted an Islamic seminary. There's been a series of recent attacks on Haqqani leaders. The Afghan group is allied with the Taliban.

    The Geneva talks on curbing Iran's nuclear program made little headway today. The U.S. and five other powers are trying to reach a draft agreement with Iran to ease some economic sanctions if Tehran freezes its nuclear efforts. But Iran's deputy foreign minister said this morning there'd been a loss of confidence since the last round earlier this month.

    ABBAS ARAQCHI, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister: I'm not in a position to go into the details of that, but we have some differences still, and those differences are on every side almost now.

    QUESTION: Including sanctions?

    ABBAS ARAQCHI: On the sanction part as well, yes.

    GWEN IFILL: Later, the Iranian official met with the European Union's top diplomat and emerged saying, "We regained some of our lost trust." We will talk to Margaret Warner about that in Geneva later in the program.

    This was another bloody day in Iraq, where a series of bombings killed nearly 50 people. More than half the victims died in a truck bombing at an outdoor market 90 miles northeast of Baghdad. More than 5,500 Iraqis have been killed since the wave of violence began eight months ago.

    A new flood of Syrian refugees is surging across the border into Lebanon. It started Friday, when Syrian troops launched an offensive in a mountainous region north of Damascus. A U.N. official says more than 13,000 people have fled to Lebanon since then, including 500 families last night alone. Aid agencies are scrambling to find shelter for them.

    There's word that an 85-year-old American is being held in North Korea. According to his son, Merrill Newman visited Pyongyang as a tourist last month. The Korean War veteran was taken from his plane by a uniformed officer just before his flight home.

    The U.S. special envoy for North Korea was asked about the incident in China today.

    GLYN DAVIES, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea: Well, we have seen those reports. I have to say at the outset what I can't do is comment in any specificity about them, because we do not have a privacy act waiver. And we, of course, are calling on North Korea, as in the case of Mr. Kenneth Bae, who has now been there for over a year, to resolve the issue and to allow our citizens to go free.

    GWEN IFILL: Bae is a Christian missionary. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for what North Korea called hostile acts.

    The state of Alabama granted posthumous pardons today to three of the so-called Scottsboro Boys. Charles Weems, Andy Wright, and Haywood Patterson were among nine black teenagers falsely convicted of gang-raping two white women in 1931. All served time. One man was pardoned earlier, and convictions against five others were overturned.

    A federal jury in California has ordered Samsung Electronics to pay Apple $290 million for copying iPhone and iPad features. A previous jury had awarded Apple $1 billion, but the judge ruled the panel miscalculated, and she ordered a new trial. Samsung is expected to appeal this latest verdict.

    Federal regulators are ready to allow cellular calls during U.S. flights. The Federal Communications Commission proposed today to let airline passengers make calls and send text messages above 10,000 feet. The FCC votes on the proposal next month.

    Hundreds of activists walked out of U.N. climate talks today over lack of progress. Nearly 200 nations are meeting in Warsaw, Poland, to lay the groundwork for a climate pact in 2015. They have been stymied by disputes over making rich countries pay for losses when poor nations suffer. The meeting ends tomorrow.



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