Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel

Embed this content in your HTML


Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Channel Catalog


Channel Description:

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

older | 1 | .... | 283 | 284 | (Page 285) | 286 | 287 | .... | 1175 | newer

    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: the White House announcement that another key element of President Obama's health care law is not ready to go. Small businesses will not be able to enroll their employees on the federal website until November of next year. Coverage wouldn't take effect until January of 2015. They can continue to go through insurance companies and brokers.

    It is the latest in a series of setbacks that have plagued implementation of the president's plan.

    To fill us in on the details, we turn to Louise Radnofsky of The Wall Street Journal.

    Louise, welcome back to program. Why did the administration do this?

    LOUISE RADNOFSKY, The Wall Street Journal: Well, they did it because it wasn't ready and because they said that they were focusing on other things, getting the website up and running for individuals. This was something they felt they could jettison, and they did.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, tell us which small businesses are affected. I know not all of them have to pay attention to this regulation, those with employees under 50? Is that right?


    And a number of small businesses do voluntarily provide coverage to their employees right now and want to continue doing so next year. There's nothing in the law that requires them to do so, but the law includes tax credits towards the cost of the coverage in some cases.

    So, for small businesses that were looking to buy through healthcare.gov, which would be in one of the 36 states where the exchange isn't being run by the state itself, they're not going to be able to use the website. They're going to have to continue to go to an insurer or an agent or an broker, probably somebody they're using already, and then they will have the opportunity to apply later in the year for tax credits, basically any time before they file their taxes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, expand on that. Explain, what is the difference going to be then? If you're -- if you run a small business and you were counting on signing up through the exchange, and now you're told you need to go through an insurance company or broker, what is the difference going to be for you?

    LOUISE RADNOFSKY: Well, the difference is that it -- and it's really quite a big blow to the idea of the exchange, which was supposed to be an online marketplace where you could compare plans and then finalize the process. It was designed to increase more competition and more transparency into the insurance-obtaining process.

    You can still go online starting Dec. 1 and actually browse through oppositions, but you can't complete the sign-up. So, at that point, you go to the insurer or the agent or the broker. And that's really the key difference here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And do you then lose out because you're not eligible for any sort of tax credit subsidy?

    LOUISE RADNOFSKY: You're still able to get the tax credit. The tax credit is supposed to be applied to any plan that the agent or broker or insurer is offering that would have been available on the exchange. In other words, it had been certified as being compliant with the new requirements in the law.

    The requirements of the law for small group plans actually go a little further, too. They do affect the way small group insurance is priced for the first time, again, no preexisting conditions a lot of age-rating restrictions around that, and so small businesses across the board, however they get their coverage, will benefit from that.

    But the exchange was such an important centerpiece of this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Louise, how big a blow is this to the implementation of this new law?

    LOUISE RADNOFSKY: Well, it only affects small businesses, and, clearly, for the most high-profile part of the law, attempting to extend coverage to individuals who don't have it, it doesn't affect it.

    But if you think about it in terms of what it would have meant if it had been the individuals, you can understand quite how important it is to the small group. It's the administration basically saying, we can't get this particular part of the exchange up and running for another year, so we're giving up. Just go back to your insurer and we will try and figure out that tax subsidy issue later.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, meanwhile, Louise, late this afternoon, the administration announced another change. They say they are replacing the Web hosting provider for the online exchange. Tell us about that.

    LOUISE RADNOFSKY: Well, this is a decision that, apparently, was reached in the summer or earlier, but the Web -- the Verizon provider of the data center that was supporting the site had had a number of outages that started to emerge after Oct. 1.

    It's been very embarrassing for everybody involved. They are making a switch. They're planning to do that by around the end of March. What people need to know about that is that, first of all, the existing provider is going to be staying in place for the time being and that provider has had some problems. But, secondly, the transition itself, they have to get this into gear, could be bumpy, and it's not as if the website doesn't have enough problems already.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And so summing it all up for people who have been looking at the Nov. 30 deadline the administration set as the new deadline for people to be able to sign up, they said the website’s going to be faster starting this weekend. What should people expect?

    LOUISE RADNOFSKY: Well, what we think we know is that the pages are loading faster. A lot of errors aren't emerging. In other words, the site looks better at the front end.

    The administration says it's also been working on the back end, the really complicated issues that might not be immediately apparent to people, but could cause them to have difficulty signing up for coverage. The administration says that people will not only be able to navigate the site. They will be able to use the system as a whole, the vast majority of them, at any rate, to successfully enroll for coverage. So, we're going to discover on Dec. 1 is if that is the case.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will find out. It's just right around the corner.

    Louise Radnofsky of The Wall Street Journal, thank you.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: It could be the biggest fraud scandal to hit the Navy in years, involving allegations that top commanders received cash, prostitutes and other favors for inflated contracts that cost the Pentagon hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: For decades, Leonard Francis, known as "Fat Leonard" for his imposing girth, has been well-connected in top U.S. Navy circles, perhaps too connected.

    His company, Glenn Defense Marine, provided logistics support to U.S. warships at ports in East Asia. Since 2011, the company has won more than $200 million in Navy contracts, contracts that federal investigators now charge are at the center of an elaborate criminal conspiracy involving bribery, fraud and more.

    Last month, The Washington Post reported that Francis plied top Navy commanders with prostitutes, cash, luxury hotel rooms...


    JEFFREY BROWN: ... even tickets to a Lady Gaga concert in Thailand. In return, officials at the Justice Department say, Francis received classified information on ship deployments. He also allegedly pressured commanders to steer ships to ports where his company would then overcharge for services like sewage disposal and tugboats.

    In September, the Justice Department arrested Francis and two Navy commanders, as well as a top agent in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service who allegedly fed him information. Two admirals, including the director of naval intelligence, have been placed on leave and lost their security clearances.

    For more on all this, I'm joined by Craig Whitlock. He broke the story for The Washington Post.

    Craig, welcome back.

    CRAIG WHITLOCK, The Washington Post: Thanks, Jeff.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, first, describe the alleged schemes here. What kind of contracts are we talking about?

    CRAIG WHITLOCK: Well, it's really the nuts and bolts of keeping the Navy ships serviced and supplied in Asia. So, most of the Navy ships are in the Pacific.

    And this company, Glenn Defense Marine, would -- they would supply the ships when they would come to port. They would give them a tugboat to bring them in if they needed it. They would provide the gangway, security, food resupplies. They would pump out the bilge and the sewage. Anything they needed when they came to port , this company was supposed to provide those services.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Presumably a competitive business, at least normally.

    CRAIG WHITLOCK: A very competitive business, that's right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now, the man at the heart of this is a -- he's got the nickname, but he's a colorful character in many ways.

    CRAIG WHITLOCK: Well, he is a colorful character, but he's an extremely well-known in Navy circles.

    His nickname in the Navy is Fat Leonard because he's a very large guy. His attorney in court the other day sort of jokingly referred to him as big Leonard. And his competition, they just known him as Leonard. So, in all of Asia, you talk to people in this industry and you mention Leonard, they immediately know who you're talking about.

    He would dress in tuxedos. He would lavish gifts on people in port. He would -- he lived the high life. He had a mansion in Singapore with Christmas lights everywhere. He was at all sorts of parties. So, he definitely was a character.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And I gather that he bragged about his -- his connections to top Naval brass.

    CRAIG WHITLOCK: Well, that's right.

    And as you saw in your report, he had pictures with his arm around or shaking hands at appearances. And that wasn't uncommon to go to events like that. But he would. Even -- to the papers filed by prosecutors in this case, people would warn him, his moles inside the Navy. They would say, you need to watch out. They're on to you about this or that or they're asking questions.

    And he would brag that, don't worry, I got it covered. And what prosecutors allege is he had a mole in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service that would feed him inside information about the scope and process of the investigation.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, OK. So, in addition to the moles, what else are the Naval officers accused of, in terms of the bribery and getting him information?

    CRAIG WHITLOCK: Well, they would steer his ship -- steer Navy ships to ports in Southeast Asia where he had a leg up, where he could allegedly charge a lot more for basic services, or fake invoices or make fraudulent claims.

    He would say, hey, baby, send that aircraft carrier to my port in Malaysia. And that's where he would control things. And he knew in those places how he could submit fake bills to the Navy, whereas, if he went to other major ports in Singapore, it was a little harder for him to get away with it.

    So, these Navy officers, some of them, they would try -- he would lean on them to steer the ships to his ports, where he could control things and he could overcharge the government.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, in exchange, we heard some of the things they -- they are alleged to have received.

    CRAIG WHITLOCK: Well, the basic temptations of life.

    He would provide prostitutes, according to the government. He would provide cash. He'd provide travel. He'd set them up in luxury hotel rooms throughout Asia. In one case, he gave Lady Gaga tickets, "Lion King" tickets, and even travel for family members of these Navy officers.

    So, he knew how -- what -- what would work with them.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The two admirals that I mentioned who have been placed on leave, what is thought to be their involvement? It's for before they were made admirals; is that correct?

    CRAIG WHITLOCK: That's right.

    These are not just admirals. One of them is a three-star admiral who is the director of Naval intelligence, so an extremely sensitive position, and one of his deputies who is also in Naval intelligence. They aren't accused of doing anything in their current jobs, but previously they both served in the Pacific. And the Navy is saying it's some sort of personal misconduct connected with this investigation.

    We don't what kind of personal misconduct. That hasn't come out yet. But for the Navy to suspend or to put on leave two admirals of that rank in that kind of position, it's a very serious matter.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Is there supposed to be some kind of oversight of this kind of these contracts, or are these the very people that are supposed to be overseeing them?

    CRAIG WHITLOCK: Well, there is supposed to be lots of oversight. This is a competitive business. These contract goes out for bid. They're supposed to be picked over, all these companies' bids, who has the comparative advantage, who would do the best job.

    They're supposed to be reviewed constantly. And that's something the investigators are looking at is, how did Leonard and his company get these contracts over time, despite some clear problems with some of the services he was providing, how -- and the fact that they had been under investigation for some years, and yet they kept getting more contracts.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, that's what I was wondering about.

    There were all kinds of red flags, apparently, along the way. There have been -- this guy has been looked at for a long time. Is the thinking now that it wasn't taken seriously enough or that they just didn't have enough evidence?

    CRAIG WHITLOCK: Well, that's a really good question.

    The Navy says they didn't have enough evidence, and that they were thwarted in their investigation by these moles...

    JEFFREY BROWN: Oh, the moles.


    CRAIG WHITLOCK: ... who would enable him to stay a step ahead.

    But there were so many red flags that it does raise questions. Why would they keep giving him contracts, additional contracts? As recently as this past July, they gave him a no-bid contract for more port services, even though he was still under investigation. So that's definitely a very -- a major question in this case.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Is -- I guess another big question is whether this is a very specific type of example, bad example, or is it -- does it signify some larger systemic problem that the Navy or perhaps other -- the rest of the military has?

    CRAIG WHITLOCK: Well, I think the military in general does have a problem.

    We see this kind of case come up not infrequently, where -- contract fraud, people overcharge the government. It's a very chummy business with retired Navy or military officers. Leonard had retired Navy officers on his payroll. And so I don't think this is an isolated case. And I think we may see some more investigations into this kind of business with the Navy, not just his company, but others as well.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And Leonard Francis himself remains in jail.

    CRAIG WHITLOCK: He's still in jail, in federal prison in San Diego. He was revoked -- he tried to get bond and the judge said, no, he was too much of a flight risk.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And just briefly, what happens next? What -- what's the -- which case comes next?

    CRAIG WHITLOCK: We don't know which would go to trial yet. They have still been suspending and charging so many, that I think they're still trying to get to the bottom of it and see how far it goes.

    The Navy has been very open that they expect more officers to be implicated, and that this is not the end of it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Oh, we have not seen the end of this?

    CRAIG WHITLOCK: No, I don't think so.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right. All right.

    Craig Whitlock of The Washington Post, thanks so much.

    CRAIG WHITLOCK: Thanks, Jeff.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Schools nationwide are implementing new shared standards in math and reading, but what about for the arts? Are those required to be taught as well?

    The NewsHour's special correspondent for education, John Merrow, has this report.

    JOHN MERROW: Most public schools in the United States offer some sort of music instruction, but according to a federal government report, about four million elementary school students do not get instruction in the visual arts.

    WOMAN: Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin.

    STUDENTS: Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin.

    JOHN MERROW: Ninety-six percent of public elementary schools do not offer theater or drama and 97 percent do not offer dance.

    These grim numbers contradict what most states say about the arts; 46 states require that the arts be taught in elementary school, including North Carolina, which mandates that every student receive equal access to art instruction. It's a law that doesn't seem to be enforced.

    Jones County, in rural North Carolina serves 1,200 students, most from low-income families. While its four elementary schools do offer music instruction once a week, not one offers instruction in dance, theater or art.

    JIMMI PARKER, Maysville Elementary School: Every year we kind of joke about it and we ask, oh, are we getting an art teacher this year? I mean, I was hired into this county probably 10 years ago. And I cannot remember having an elementary art teacher.

    JOHN MERROW: With no art teacher on staff, principal Jimmi Parker of Maysville Elementary has had to rely on local talent.

    JIMMI PARKER: We do our best. We have volunteers come in. All kinds of artists live in our area.

    JOHN MERROW: These sixth graders remember when a professional artist came to their school for a month.

    STUDENT: I liked the work we did with her, when we did the shadows with the trees.

    STUDENT: Oh, this is really cool.

    JOHN MERROW: Unfortunately, that was three years ago, when these students were in the third grade.

    Would you like to have more art?

    STUDENTS: Yes.

    JOHN MERROW: Two hours west of Jones County, the picture is very different. Like Maysville, Bugg Elementary School in Raleigh serves mostly low-income families. But, unlike Maysville, Bugg has four full-time certified arts teachers in dance, music, the visual arts, and theater.

    I asked these fifth graders how many minutes of the arts they have in a week.

    STUDENT: During the week, the calculation would be about nine hours.

    STUDENT: I would say about 15 hours.

    STUDENT: I would say around 10 hours a week.

    JOHN MERROW: OK. So we have got seven-and-a-half, 10, nine.

    MICHAEL ARMSTRONG, Bugg Elementary School: I love the idea that the kids couldn't fully answer that.

    WOMAN: So she called up the doctor and the doctor said...

    JOHN MERROW: Michael Armstrong is principal at Bugg Elementary.

    MICHAEL ARMSTRONG: They definitely have 45 minutes a day with a true, trained arts teacher. And then, because all of our staff are trained in the arts, that will bleed over into more time.

    MARIA EBY, Bugg Elementary School: I'm going to turn into the beanstalk now and I want you to understand the beanstalk's side of the story.

    JOHN MERROW: First grade teacher Maria Eby is using the story of Jack and the Beanstalk to teach drama and science.

    MARIA EBY: We are studying plants and what they need and what they give and how they relate to the world.

    What are three things that plants do for us?

    STUDENT: They give us food.

    MARIA EBY: They give us food, like beans.

    And then the drama part of it, they had to improvise as that character.

    You are the old lady that gave them the beans. And why did you let him in the castle?

    STUDENT: Because...

    JOHN MERROW: What's the goal? Do kids learn more?

    MARIA EBY: Well, children all learn in different ways. And its our job to make sure we're presenting things in different ways.

    JOHN MERROW: But nobody said dress up like a beanstalk.

    MARIA EBY: Nobody made me do that, no. That was my own free will.

    MICHAEL ARMSTRONG: Pull out your iPads with your portfolio on it, OK?

    JOHN MERROW: This school feels rich.


    JOHN MERROW: Are you?

    MICHAEL ARMSTRONG: Not at all. There's two parts to that. The money is one part. Mind-set is another whole thing. So if you really believe that the arts are of power, that alone can have an impact. And if you don't have that mind-set, then I don't think there's enough money in the world to pay for a strong enough arts program.

    JOHN MERROW: But money makes a difference.

    Bugg Elementary is what's known as a magnet school. Magnet schools receive additional resources to attract a diverse student body. Bugg gets an extra $406 per child, nearly $250,000 a year. Principal Armstrong spends much of that money on the arts, and says he has watched his students thrive.

    MICHAEL ARMSTRONG: Students that have been in this program from kindergarten to fifth grade have a higher self-confidence, have a higher understanding of how they learn, and are actually making higher test scores.

    JOHN MERROW: In contrast, instead of the arts, Jones County has focused its efforts on improving math and reading instruction. Over the past few years, both schools have improved, although Maysville Elementary has outperformed Bugg on most state tests.

    This year, the mind-set in Jones County seems to be changing. The district hired an elementary art teacher.

    CINDY O'DANIEL, Maysville Elementary: You see all the different kinds of coral.

    JOHN MERROW: At Maysville Elementary, Cindy O'Daniel teaches seven art classes, back to back, with just one break and no time between classes to set up or clean up.

    I was looking at your schedule. It's a pretty hectic day.

    CINDY O’DANIEL: We move quickly. But the 45 minutes is a better time slot to get something accomplished. And I have other schools that it's 30 minutes, and so it's hurry up and start, and hurry up and finish.

    Hey, you guys, listen up. We're running out of time.

    JOHN MERROW: One of her classes is actually two kindergarten classes combined.

    CINDY O’DANIEL: It is organized chaos, and it's tough to get around to all the students in a regular class size in 45 minutes.

    JOHN MERROW: And Maysville is not her only school.

    How many schools do you teach in?


    JOHN MERROW: How many kids do you work with?

    CINDY O’DANIEL: I haven't slowed down long enough to figure it out.

    JOHN MERROW: Nationwide, nearly half of elementary school art teachers work in more than one school. I asked the students at Bugg how they would feel about having only 45 minutes of art a week.

    STUDENT: I guess if I had never been in this school to start with, I would think it's normal. But now that I'm here, I realize if I were to go to another school and it only has 45 minutes of art, I wouldn't feel like it's a real school.

    CINDY O’DANIEL: I would love for it to be every other day. I would like them to have more time to think, more time to absorb, to assess information, instead of hurry up, hurry up, clean up, time is running out.

    JOHN MERROW: Do the kids at your school get enough art?

    JIMMI PARKER: No. They still don't get enough art.

    JOHN MERROW: How much is enough?

    JIMMI PARKER: I guess enough would be when the kids are satisfied. When we ask them, do you get enough art, and they can say, yes, I feel like I have art in everything I do every day. It might not ever reach that point, but when they tell us they're getting art, that will be enough.

    JOHN MERROW: You're a ways from there.

    JIMMI PARKER: A long ways from there, a long ways.

    JOHN MERROW: In 2014, a coalition of arts organizations will release new standards for the arts. But it will be up to each state to decide whether to adopt and enforce them.



    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The devastating typhoon that struck the Philippines illustrated the vulnerability of island nations to extreme weather and added a spark to the international debate already under way over who bears the costs from climate change.

    MARCIN KOROLEC, Environment Minister of Poland: Climate is a global issue, global problem, and a global opportunity at the same time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The United Nations' 12-day conference on climate change began earlier this month with an audacious goal: a new agreement to cut climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.

    They met with renewed purpose. Typhoon Haiyan had just slammed into the Philippines with 195-mile-per-hour winds. Among the strongest storms ever recorded, it caused massive flooding, widespread destruction and took at least 5,200 lives.

    Although scientists have not pointed to global warming as the direct cause for massive superstorms, they caution that greenhouse gas-fueled climate change could bring about extreme weather. A delegate from the Philippines went on hunger strike to demand an ambitious deal.

    NADEREV YEB SANO, Philippines Climate Change Commissioner: We stand together on this urgent call for climate action and solidarity among the most vulnerable peoples on Earth.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Last week in Poland, talks focused not only on the global effects, but on a shared responsibility for curbing emissions.

    CHRISTIANA FIGUERES, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: Every single country, small or large, every single sector, every single city has to contribute, because, otherwise, we're not going to be able to change the trajectory of greenhouse gases.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But the great disparity between the emissions produced by the industrialized leading economies of the world and developing nations hung over the talks. How to finance assistance for developing nations to build cleaner-emitting industry was a major issue, as were demands for compensation by nations already suffering effects of climate change.

    A European Union official looked at that proposal skeptically.

    CONNIE HEDEGAARD, European Commissioner for Climate Change: We cannot have a system where there will be automatic compensation whenever severe weather events are happening one place or the other around the planet. You will understand why that is not feasible.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The talks were fractious. Environmental activists staged a walkout, disappointed at what they saw as lack of progress. Marathon negotiations ended early Sunday, pointing towards a make-or-break agreement in 2015.

    Now I'm joined by two people who attended the U.N. climate conference in Warsaw.

    Brandon Wu is a senior policy analyst at ActionAid USA, an international development organization. And Robert Stavins is professor of business and government and director of the Environmental Economics Program at Harvard University.

    Welcome to you both.

    I want to ask both of you just in a sentence, why was this conference held?

    And I will start with you, Robert Stavins.

    What question or questions was it supposed to resolve?

    ROBERT STAVINS, Harvard University: The basic question that needed to be resolved in Warsaw -- and I think it was accomplished -- was whether or not the countries of the world could remain on the track that was started two years ago at a similar conference in Durban to build up to Paris two years from now, where a final agreement needs to be reached, which is essentially the post-Kyoto international climate change agreement.

    If that sounds like the goal was mainly procedural, you're right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Brandon Wu, how would you put it in a sentence? What -- what was supposed to be resolve here?

    BRANDON WU, ActionAid USA: So, I agree with that.

    I think that's right. We were supposed to be on a track towards a new global climate regime agreed in 2015. However, there also needed to be some more concrete things put on the table. There needed to be more clarity from developed countries on what is called climate finance, which is money for developing countries to help deal with the impacts of climate change and their own emissions.

    And there needed to be a mechanism created around what's called loss and damage, which is how countries deal with impacts after they have happened, so, for example, how the Philippines can deal with Typhoon Haiyan after that's happened, how we can help as an international community.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let's talk about -- before we talk about what went wrong -- and there were some problems -- Robert Stavins, what was accomplished? Was anything accomplished at this conference?

    ROBERT STAVINS: Well, one of the things that was accomplished -- and I know this will sound mild or trivial -- is that no harm was done. That is, the countries of the world stayed on track to Paris to put together a new climate agreement, one that will have a substantially larger foundation in terms of the number of participating countries than what we currently have under the Kyoto regime.

    That may not sound like much, but in this world of annual climate negotiations that are exceptionally challenging, that's what success looks like.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Brandon Wu, would you agree that that was one positive that came out of this?

    BRANDON WU: I think that's one positive.

    I think that that's the political reality. Right? The political reality is, these negotiations are incredibly challenging. It's very difficult to get countries to agree to, say, ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But there is also a scientific reality that we're faced with.

    It's a scientific reality that we're on track for a world that is going to be massively warmer than it was before the industrial era. And we know -- or we at least have some sense of how catastrophic some of the impacts from that might be. And so we have a scientific reality where we need to deal with this problem urgently, and then we have a political reality where we can't. And we need to shift that political reality.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I hear you.

    And so let's talk about the specifics, Robert Stavins, of what didn't happen here. For one thing, there was a massive walkout. Some 800 participants just walked out of the meetings one day. What was the main disagreement there over?

    ROBERT STAVINS: Well, I think there was rampant disappointment, particularly from members of civil society, from activist groups.

    And I actually understand that disappointment. And the way I see it is that the current structure that we have been using in the Kyoto protocol, is equivalent -- if you allow me to use a metaphor, it's equivalent to trying to build a 70-story skyscraper on top of a foundation that is 10 feet by 10 feet.

    You may be able to build the first floor. You might even do the second floor, but you're never going to get the sufficient ambition that is required. The Kyoto protocol, that current structure we have, which includes a very limited set of countries, part of what the industrialized world is, it accounts for only 14 percent -- 1-4 -- 14 percent of global emissions.

    What's happening now is that the countries of the world are trying to establish a larger foundation. That includes all countries, importantly, the key, large, growing countries, plus the rich countries of the world, in a larger foundation, so that we can build a meaningful agreement to really address this crucial problem.

    I think activists and many members of civil society look at that and they see that, wait, we had one floor built, and now they're going back to building the foundation. But I think that was essential.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Brandon Wu, you were part of -- of this walkout. You supported the idea.

    But what -- and what about this question that Mr. Stavins has just raised, that -- this idea that, originally, it was a small number of developed countries who were bearing most of the responsibility, but now the world is changing, there's growth in a lot of countries that were previously considered developing and needy, and that the balance and responsibility needs to shift?

    BRANDON WU: That's true.

    However, the devil's in the details. So, I would agree that all countries have to do their fair share to deal with the global problem of climate change, but how you define fair share exactly is where we run into disagreements.

    And just -- just to -- just to raise the oppositional points about the world, the world is changing, you know, there are some countries we considered poor that are no longer so poor, even now, if we look at the developed world, so the U.S., other industrialized countries, which is about less than 20 percent of the population, those countries are responsible for over 70 percent of the greenhouse gases that are in the Earth's atmosphere.

    And these are countries, therefore, that have a responsibility to deal with this problem, whereas countries like the Philippines, Bangladesh, people in those countries have very little to do with the climate crisis, and yet they're the people who are most vulnerable to its impacts.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me come back to you, Robert Stavins.

    What about that point? Yes, these other countries like China, India, Brazil are growing, and they are growing fast, but it is the far-along developed countries that have contributed principally to the pollution and emissions that are in the atmosphere.

    ROBERT STAVINS: So we could either look at the problem by looking backwards or look at the problem by looking forwards.

    If we look backwards at the problem, historically, the bulk of the emissions in the atmosphere, as Mr. Wu points out correctly, have come from what are now the industrialized world. I should point out, however, that although the United States is the leader in cumulative emissions to the atmosphere, China is going to surpass the United States, as it already has, of course, in annual emissions, is going to surpass the United States in cumulative emissions, depending upon the rates of economic growth of the two countries, somewhere within a decade or maybe two decades.

    If we're look forward, which I think we need to do if we want to reduce emissions, then it's a very different picture, because if all of the industrialized countries, essentially the OECD, if those countries were to cut their emissions, not by 20 percent, not by 50 percent, not by 80 percent, but by 100 percent, completely eliminate their emissions, nevertheless, next year and the year after, worldwide emissions will increase, because 62 percent of worldwide emissions are now coming from countries that are outside of the existing agreement.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, given that and just in less than a minute, Brandon Wu, how do you bridge the gap? You said the devil is in the details. How do you bridge the gap, given where -- the lack of progress at a meeting like the one in Warsaw?

    BRANDON WU: There's a gap in trust. There's a gap in trust.

    So, I agree, countries like China and India, they will need to do something in the future to reduce emissions, because it's not going to work if it's only developed countries that do this. But the fact of the matter is, developed countries agreed to reduce emissions decades ago. And what we have seen from them is -- has been a lack of action. They have not reduced emissions to the extent that they need to.

    They haven't provided money to help developing countries reduce their own emissions and adapt to impacts. And so developing countries have very little reason to trust that, if they move forward on their actions to reduce climate change impacts, that developed countries will follow along.

    And so they're waiting for developed countries to take the lead, as they are legally obligated to in the U.N.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We hear you both.

    Brandon Wu, Robert Stavins, with a look at this climate change conference, thank you.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight, our Thanksgiving week food series continues with a look at a global competition by architects and engineers designed to be a fresh twist on the typical holiday food drive.

    Jeff Brown is back with that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Pork and beans, sweet corn, tomato sauce and tuna fish, mix them together and what do you get? Well, if you're in Norfolk, Virginia, you get a 12-foot arched bridge.

    Elsewhere, similar ingredients have cooked up a football at the 20-yard line, a sea creature stuck in the sand, video games gone wild, even a beating heart. This is Canstruction, an annual competition dating back to 1992 and now held in more than 150 cities throughout the world where architects, engineers and designers face off to build the most elaborate structures out of full canned goods, all for a good cause.

    The rules are basic. The statues must be self-supporting, formed almost entirely of cans, and completed in just six hours. Ribbons go for structural ingenuity, best use of labels, and potential to make a nutritious meal, among other things. After a few days in the spotlight, the edible building blocks are donated to local food banks.

    Mark Hinckley has been organizing the competition in Norfolk for the past 17 years.

    MARK HINCKLEY, Canstruction Hampton Roads, Inc.: Architects, by nature, like to compete against each other. There's always a lot of competition, and there are very few projects, and there's also a lot of architects and engineers that are going after the same projects.

    And it's nice to have those bragging rights when you can beat out your competition, especially if you're a smaller firm going up against the more goliath firms.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But what occasionally looks like child's play has a very serious purpose. Organizers hope these Canstructions will raise awareness about hunger in local communities throughout the globe and bring in far more donations than a typical food drive.

    It generally takes between 5,000 and 10,000 cans to build a sculpture this big, and that translates to 30,000 to 90,000 pounds of donated food each year in Norfolk. The worldwide total from Canstruction events in 2012 alone weighed in at 3.4 million pounds. And the sculptures just keep getting bigger.

    Disney broke the Guinness World Record for largest Canstruction statue to date in 2010, just to be plowed under by John Deere's creation in Illinois a year later, built with more than 300,000 cans.

    JOANNE BATSON, Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia: We have gotten far more than we have had to.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But these, of course, only begin to address the needs of so many struggling in a difficult economy.

    At the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, CEO Joanne Batson says the haul from this year's Canstruction will be gone in a few days.

    JOANNE BATSON: As soon as they come in, we will get them out. We deal with, at this facility, over a million pounds of food every month, so it's in and it's out.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Batson says the city of Norfolk and the wider area, known as Hampton Roads, were rocked hard by the economic downturn and the government cutbacks that followed. And she said the trend deepened in recent weeks after many families saw a reduction in their food stamp dollars.

    JOANNE BATSON: We have seen, just in the Hampton Roads area, a 65 percent increase since 2008 in the number of people that need our help. And, most recently, we have seen 40 percent of the people that are coming to us now, at this one location, over the past month are new people. They have never been in a food bank before.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Deana Ogbe is one of those out of work and down on her luck. She had almost given up on the idea of fixing a Thanksgiving meal this year for the 10-year-old granddaughter she's raising.

    DEANA OGBE, grandmother: We are a family of two and we're only getting $63 now. And there's no way you could get Thanksgiving dinner with that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Then Ogbe heard about a local church giving away Thanksgiving meal kits, including cans from the food bank.

    DEANA OGBE: It just means the world that we're going to have a turkey on our table for Thanksgiving and we will be together.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Stories like that represent the larger, serious goals of Canstruction, even if the way to get there is a bit adventuresome, even risky, like getting cans of tuna to do something like this.

    The arched bridge by a team of students from Tidewater Community College contains more than 11,000 pounds of food. Building it in just six hours left everyone on edge.

    MAN: The most minimum mistake can have the biggest impact on it. Towards the last part, we miscalculated by about a half-an-inch. And it kept us struggling for a good 20 minutes to get it finished.

    WOMAN: There's a lot of people, not only us, but other competitors, all standing around watching us.

    WOMAN: It was also nerve-racking, because the tuna cans started moving.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In line with the rules, the arch is built mostly of cans, 13,000 of them, but it also contains some small wooden wedges to help the tuna cans form the arch and cardboard to help stabilize the layers. No permanent adhesives are allowed, making for an uneasy couple of minutes when the team removed the central wooden support known as the template.

    MAN: The moment that that template comes down, and you can actually see the light from the other side of the arch, that's the moment of, yes, it works.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In the end, the Tidewater students came out on top for structural ingenuity.

    "Faceblock" took home the award for juror's favorite. Images of both of these creations will be sent to the next level, where the two can -- maybe that toucan -- compete for a slice of national action and much bigger glory at the American Institute of Architects Convention next year.


    0 0

    By Lewis Hyde

    Lewis Hyde, author of "The Gift," explores the practice of gift-giving at the first Thanksgiving. Above, a depiction of early settlers of the Plymouth Colony sharing a harvest Thanksgiving meal with members of the local Wampanoag tribe at the Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, Mass., 1621. Photo by Frederic Lewis/Archive Photos/Getty Images.

    Paul Solman: Back in 1983, six years into my TV business reporting career, writer Lewis Hyde published a book called "The Gift." Hyde went on to become a MacArthur "genius" Fellow, a professor at Kenyon College, and author of two more books, "Trickster Makes the World" and "Common as Air." "The Gift" went on to become something of a classic.

    So, on the 30th anniversary of the book, published by Vantage, I invited Lewis to join me for a trip to "Plimoth Plantation," the must-see (and -hear) living history museum in Plymouth, Mass., for an examination of the practice of gifting on the cusp of its annual memorialization in America, Thanksgiving. The resulting story runs Thursday on the NewsHour.

    But "The Gift" is 385 pages in its latest edition -- more than 100,000 words. On the program, its author will get an extravagantly high number of words for a TV story: 252.

    So the least we could do, I thought, was to invite Lewis Hyde to use this page to be a bit more expansive. He was gracious enough to oblige.

    Lewis Hyde: When Paul Solman asked if I might reflect on gifts given in 1621 at "the first thanksgiving," I immediately thought of that strange old phrase, "Indian giver." The earliest record of this expression dates to Thomas Hutchinson's 1764 history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony where a footnote explains that an Indian gift "is a proverbial expression signifying a present for which an equivalent return is expected." We still use this, of course, and in an even broader sense, we call those friends "Indian givers" who are so uncivilized as to ask us to return the gifts they've given.

    Surely the phrase bespeaks a problem of cross-cultural understanding. For the Europeans who landed in Massachusetts in the 17th century, something seemed so odd about the natives' sense of property that they felt called upon to give it a special name. What exactly was odd?

    Anthropology is the discipline that eventually arose to answer such questions, and one of the things that anthropology teaches us is that all over the world, and especially among tribal peoples, we find gift-exchange institutions. Not all societies circulate their material goods through purchase and sale; many do so primarily through elaborate systems of gift-giving.

    One cardinal ethic of such exchanges is that "the gift must always move": the receipt of a gift comes with an obligation of reciprocity and the gift, or some equivalent, has to be passed along in turn. Gifts are not yours to keep; you are their guardian or steward, not their owner. Anyone who understands and acts on this ethic will appear to be an "Indian giver" to all those who don't.

    As for that Thanksgiving itself, one thing that the NewsHour's portrait makes clear is how wonderfully complex is the grain of the history of this holiday. The Pilgrims and the Wampanoag peoples surely had different understandings of the meaning of the feast that they shared. Similarly, many years later, George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation did not mean the same thing as Abraham Lincoln's of 1863: the former was a celebration of an emerging union while the latter was intended to heal a union split by civil war.

    My 1983 book "The Gift" explores the meaning of gifts as they are given in many such contexts. My particular focus in that work is on gift exchange as "the commerce of the creative spirit," and the book as a whole is a defense of the non-commercial aspect of artistic practice. Reprinted here is a part of my introduction to "The Gift," a point of entry for anyone who wishes to delve into questions of gift-giving and art.

    Excerpt from the "Introduction" to Hyde's "The Gift":

    "The artist appeals to that part of our being...which is a gift and not an acquisition - and, therefore, more permanently enduring." - Joseph Conrad

    At the corner drugstore my neighbors and I can now buy a line of romantic novels written according to a formula developed through market research. An advertising agency polled a group of women readers. What age should the heroine be? (She should be between nineteen and twenty-seven.) Should the man she meets be married or single? (Recently widowed is best.) The hero and heroine are not allowed in bed together until they are married. Each novel is a hundred and ninety-two pages long. Even the name of the series and the design of the cover have been tailored to the demands of the market. (The name Silhouette was preferred over Belladonna, Surrender, Tiffany, and Magnolia; gold curlicues were chosen to frame the cover.) Six new titles appear each month and two hundred thousand copies of each title are printed.

    Why do we suspect that Silhouette Romances will not be enduring works of art? What is it about a work of art, even when it is bought and sold in the market, that makes us distinguish it from such pure commodities as these?

    It is the assumption of this book that a work of art is a gift, not a commodity. Or, to state the modern case with more precision, that works of art exist simultaneously in two 'economies,' a market economy and a gift economy. Only one of these is essential, however: a work of art can survive without the market, but where there is no gift there is no art.

    There are several distinct senses of 'gift' that lie behind these ideas, but common to each of them is the notion that a gift is a thing we do not get by our own efforts. We cannot buy it; we cannot acquire it through an act of will. It is bestowed upon us. Thus we rightly speak of 'talent' as a 'gift,' for although a talent can be perfected through an effort of the will, no effort in the world can cause its initial appearance. Mozart, composing on the harpsichord at the age of four, had a gift.

    We also rightly speak of intuition or inspiration as a gift. As the artist works, some portion of his creation is bestowed upon him. An idea pops into his head, a tune begins to play, a phrase comes to mind, a color falls in place on the canvas. Usually, in fact, the artist does not find himself engaged or exhilarated by the work, nor does it seem authentic, until this gratuitous element has appeared, so that along with any true creation comes the uncanny sense that 'I,' the artist, did not make the work. 'Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me,' says D. H. Lawrence. Not all artists emphasize the 'gift' phase of their creations to the degree that Lawrence does, but all artists feel it.

    These two senses of gift refer only to the creation of the work - what we might call the inner life of art; but it is my assumption that we should extend this way of speaking to its outer life as well, to the work after it has left its maker's hands. That art that matters to us - which moves the heart, or revives the soul, or delights the senses, or offers courage for living, however we choose to describe the experience - that work is received by us as a gift is received. Even if we have paid a fee at the door of the museum or concert hall, when we are touched by a work of art something comes to us which has nothing to do with the price. I went to see a landscape painter's works, and that evening, walking among pine trees near my home, I could see the shapes and colors I had not seen the day before.

    The spirit of an artist's gifts can wake our own. The work appeals, as Joseph Conrad says, to a part of our being which is itself a gift and not an acquisition. Our sense of harmony can hear the harmonies that Mozart heard. We may not have the power to profess our gifts as the artist does, and yet we come to recognize, and in a sense to receive, the endowments of our being through the agency of his creation. We feel fortunate, even redeemed. The daily commerce of our lives -- 'sugar for sugar and salt for salt,' as the blues singers say -- proceeds at its own constant level, but a gift revives the soul. When we are moved by art we are grateful that the artist lived, grateful that he labored in the service of his gifts.

    If a work of art is the emanation of its maker's gift and if it is received by its audience as a gift, then is it, too, a gift? I have framed the question to imply an affirmative answer, but I doubt we can be so categorical. Any object, any item of commerce, becomes one kind of property or another depending on how we use it. Even if a work of art contains the spirit of the artist's gift, it does not follow that the work itself is a gift. It is what we make of it.

    And yet, that said, it must be added that the way we treat a thing can sometimes change its nature. For example, religions often prohibit the sale of sacred objects, the implication being that their sanctity is lost if they are bought and sold. A work of art seems to be a hardier breed; it can be sold in the market and still emerge a work of art. But if it is true that in the essential commerce of art a gift is carried by the work from the artist to his audience, if I am right to say that where there is no gift there is no art, then it may be possible to destroy a work of art by converting it into a pure commodity. Such, at any rate, is my position. I do not maintain that art cannot be bought and sold; I do maintain that the gift portion of the work places a constraint upon our merchandising.

    The particular form that my elaboration of these ideas has taken may best be introduced through a description of how I came to my topic in the first place. For some years now I myself have tried to make my way as a poet, a translator, and a sort of 'scholar without institution.' Inevitably the money question comes up; labors such as mine are notoriously nonremunerative, and the landlord is not interested in your book of translations the day the rent falls due. A necessary corollary seems to follow the proposition that a work of art is a gift: there is nothing in the labor of art itself that will automatically make it pay. Quite the opposite, in fact. I develop this point at some length in the chapters that follow, so I shall not elaborate upon it here except to say that every modern artist who has chosen to labor with a gift must sooner or later wonder how he or she is to survive in a society dominated by market exchange. And if the fruits of a gift are gifts themselves, how is the artist to nourish himself, spiritually as well as materially, in an age whose values are market values and whose commerce consists almost exclusively in the purchase and sale of commodities?

    Every culture offers its citizens an image of what it is to be a man or woman of substance. There have been times and places in which a person came into his or her social being through the dispersal of his gifts, the 'big man' or 'big woman' being that one through whom the most gifts flowed. The mythology of a market society reverses the picture: getting rather than giving is the mark of a substantial person, and the hero is 'self-possessed,' 'self-made.' So long as these assumptions rule, a disquieting sense of triviality, of worthlessness even, will nag the man or woman who labors in the service of a gift and whose products are not adequately described as commodities. Where we reckon our substance by our acquisitions, the gifts of the gifted man are powerless to make him substantial.

    Moreover, as I shall argue in my opening chapters, a gift that cannot be given away ceases to be a gift. The spirit of a gift is kept alive by its constant donation. If this is the case, then the gifts of the inner world must be accepted as gifts in the outer world if they are to retain their vitality. Where gifts have no public currency, therefore, where the gift as a form of property is neither recognized nor honored, our inner gifts will find themselves excluded from the very commerce which is their nourishment. Or, to say the same thing from a different angle, where commerce is exclusively a traffic in merchandise, the gifted cannot enter into the give-and-take that ensures the livelihood of their spirit.

    These two lines of thought - the idea of art as a gift and the problem of the market - did not converge for me until I began to read through the work that has been done in anthropology on gifts as a kind of property and gift exchange as a kind of commerce. Many tribal groups circulate a large portion of their material wealth as gifts. Tribesmen are typically enjoined from buying and selling food, for example; even though there may be a strong sense of 'mine and thine,' food is always given as a gift and the transaction is governed by the ethics of gift exchange, not those of barter or cash purchase.

    Not surprisingly, people live differently who treat a portion of their wealth as a gift. To begin with, unlike the sale of a commodity, the giving of a gift tends to establish a relationship between the parties involved. Furthermore, when gifts circulate within a group, their commerce leaves a series of interconnected relationships in its wake, and a kind of decentralized cohesiveness emerges. There are, as we shall see, five or six related observations of this kind that can be made about a commerce of gifts, and in reading through the anthropological literature I began to realize that a description of gift exchange might offer me the language, the way of speaking, through which I could address the situation of creative artists.

    And since anthropology tends not to concern itself so much with inner gifts, I soon widened my reading to include all the folk tales I could find involving gifts. Folk wisdom does not differ markedly from tribal wisdom in its sense of what a gift is and does, but folk tales are told in a more interior language: the gifts in fairy tales may, at one level, refer to real property, but at another they are images in the psyche and their story describes for us a spiritual or psychological commerce. In fact, although I offer many accounts of gift exchange in the real world, my hope is that these accounts, too, can be read at several levels, that the real commerce they tell about stands witness to the invisible commerce through which the gifted come to profess their gifts, and we to receive them.


    The first half of this book is a theory of gift exchange and the second is an attempt to apply the language of that theory to the life of the artist. Clearly, the concerns of the second half were the guide to my reading and theorizing in the first. I touch on many issues, but I pass over many others in silence. With two or three brief exceptions I do not, for example, take up the negative side of gift exchange -- gifts that leave an oppressive sense of obligation, gifts that manipulate or humiliate, gifts that establish and maintain hierarchies, and so forth and so on. This is partly a matter of priority (it has seemed to me that a description of the value and power of gifts must precede an explication of their misuse), but it is mostly a matter of my subject. I have hoped to write an economy of the creative spirit: to speak of the inner gift that we accept as the object of our labor, and the outer gift that has become a vehicle of culture. I am not concerned with gifts given in spite or fear, nor with those gifts we accept out of servility or obligation; my concern is the gift we long for, the gift that, when it comes, speaks commandingly to the soul and irresistibly moves us.

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

    0 0

    Judy Woodruff sits down with Alice Waters to talk about the organic revolution, the role of food in schools and Thanksgiving traditions. The conversation airs Thursday on the PBS NewsHour.

    This Thanksgiving, Alice Waters, owner of restaurant Chez Panisse and founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project, answers a few questions from NewsHour viewers. Stay tuned for her full conversation with Judy Woodruff that airs tonight on the NewsHour.

    Via Twitter: Why make dining so expensive only few can afford?

    Dining doesn't have to be expensive, but it can and should be affordable. It will never be really cheap, and it shouldn't be, because if we don't pay the real cost of food and labor then someone is missing out, whether that be the people who are farming or the people in the kitchen. When we cook with seasonal ingredients and cook simply then there isn't any reason it should be prohibitively expensive. It is why at my restaurant we have always had an affordable fixed price three-course meal option, currently $25. I never wanted to price out the people who have always come to Chez Panisse, and I've never wanted a fancy restaurant.

    Via Facebook: What is your approach to Thanksgiving, and what are you cooking this year? What is your favorite Turkey Day dish?

    This year, I am not cooking because I have just got home from a whirlwind book tour. My friends are going to cook for me, and that is something I am very thankful for! Usually, I like to cook two turkeys, one for the meal and one to give away. It usually lasts the entire weekend! I also like to cook simple, seasonal sides. The farmers markets have wonderful produce at this time of the year -- the end of the harvest -- and that is really where the roots of Thanksgiving are.

    Via Twitter: Do you have tips for leftover veg/sides, etc? What can we do with all these yams?!

    Some things keep well and can be eaten over the next few days, but, really, I would encourage people to be sensible about how much people are really going to eat and plan ahead. That way, you avoid waste and save.

    Support Your Local PBS Station

    0 0

    Thanksgiving day Buffalo New York Turkey Trot in 18 degree snow! Let's do this! ❄️🏃👟pic.twitter.com/wHJhDIbjIG

    — carly sargent (@cali_girl907) November 28, 2013

    On Thursday, cities across the country will hold their annual Thanksgiving Day races, often known as "Turkey Trots." Running in the USA, an organization that lists races in each state throughout the year, lists more than 900 racesbeing run on Thursday. The races range from a Turkey Trot Marathon in Santa Monica, Calif., to a one-mile "fun run" in Rosemary Beach, Fla.

    The oldest Turkey Trot and the oldest consecutively run footrace in North America kicked off in Buffalo, N.Y. this morning. Fourteen thousand runners, many wearing costumes, faced 20-degree temperatures as they raced across the city.

    5k turkey trot to benefit @SOME_DC. @kristindlee& I are crazy b/c it's so cold but great cause! pic.twitter.com/gdLkdG2uhK

    — Christina Bellantoni (@cbellantoni) November 28, 2013

    Many Thanksgiving races raise funds for charities. In Buffalo, the proceeds from the Thanksgiving run support Western New York YMCA programs. Ten thousand runners in the nation's capital participated in the 12th Annual Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunger, which benefits So Others May Eat, an organization committed to helping the poor and homeless of Washington, D.C.

    Support Your Local PBS Station

    0 0

    Video by The Atlantic

    Forty million Americans are driving to their Thanksgiving meals this year, perhaps traveling to different regions of the country from which they're from or currently live. All this traveling is bound to result in some mixed-accent tables this holiday.

    Drawing on Harvard professor Bert Vaux's 2003 Dialect Survey, The Atlantic called people around the country to hear how they pronounce certain words in the American vernacular whose pronunciation is disputed. They recorded the responses and layered them over North Carolina State University graduate student Joshua Katz's heat maps of Vaux's data.

    Support Your Local PBS Station

    0 0

    What are the tensions surrounding China's new air zone all about? Experts give their views http://t.co/yWtPK5qbFjpic.twitter.com/hSGr7bnfgp

    — BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) November 28, 2013

    Updated 3:55 p.m. EST | China sent fighter jets and an early warning aircraft on an normal air patrol over the newly declared maritime air defense zone Thursday, according to air spokesman Shen Jinke and a report by Xinhua agency. The Associated Press reports that it is not known when exactly the warplanes were sent.

    Japan and South Korea confirmed they continue to make routine military surveillance flights over an East China Sea zone that China declared an "air defense identification zone."

    "Even since China has created this airspace defense zone, we have continued our surveillance activities as before in the East China Sea, including in the zone," Japan's top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga told BBC News. "We are not going to change this [activity] out of consideration to China."

    China announced Saturday that any flights through the region must report plans, but Seoul and Toyko have continued flying through the zone without alerting the Chinese government in Beijing.

    The region includes islands claimed by Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan.

    Related links:

    China's navy breaks out to the high seas

    How China's push into disputed territory is increasing tension in East Asia

    View all of our World coverage.

    Support Your Local PBS Station

    0 0

    Art historians have often dismissed Norman Rockwell as merely a commercial illustration artist. But Deborah Solomon, author of "American Mirror," says Rockwell "mirrored what (Americans) wanted to be" and gave the nation a common culture. Solomon joins Jeffrey Brown to discuss Rockwell's influence and legacy.

    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Americans at home and abroad celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday today. The annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade passed through the streets of Manhattan. It defied strong winds that threatened to ground its 16 giant balloons.

    Elsewhere, shoppers got an early start hunting down bargains typically reserved for Black Friday. More than a dozen major retailers kept their doors open for the holiday.

    Meanwhile, U.S. forces in Afghanistan enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast with turkey and all the trimmings. Combat troops are preparing to leave the country by the end of next year.

    Iran extended an invitation to the U.N. nuclear agency today to visit a facility that houses an unfinished nuclear reactor. The U.N. team will visit the heavy water plant in the central city of Arak on December 8. This invitation is not part of the nuclear deal Iran made last week to freeze its nuclear program for six months in return for a limited reprieve in economic sanctions.

    Chinese warplanes are now patrolling the country's new air defense zone in the East China Sea. China's state news agency announced the move hours after South Korea and Japan flew planes through the disputed airspace. A spokesman for China's defense ministry in Beijing defended the country's new flight restrictions.

    YANG YUJUN, Chinese Defense Ministry (through interpreter): According to international law and practices, a country's aircraft are allowed to enter the air defense identification zone of another country. But, in the meantime, the country that sets up the defense identification zone has the right to identify the aircraft.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Two American B-52 bombers passed through the zone Tuesday, without any response from China's military.

    Thailand's embattled prime minister appealed today for an end to five days of anti-government protests across Bangkok. Yingluck Shinawatra called for negotiations with the opposition. But the demonstrators rejected the idea of talks. They surrounded several ministry buildings in the capital, waving flags and blocking traffic. They also cut off electricity to the national police headquarters.

    There was word in Brazil today that the stadium slated to host the first match in next year's World Cup could delay its opening until February. A crane collapsed there Tuesday -- or yesterday -- killing two workers and damaging the concourse area of the stadium.

    Nick Ravenscroft of Independent Television News is in Sao Paulo.

    NICK RAVENSCROFT: Cracked in half, it collapsed sideways and still lies where it fell across a stand being built for the World Cup finals.

    Construction is halted until next week, says the company, for up to a month, say the unions. Nobody knows, but everybody is worried, because this is the venue for the first World Cup match, and it's meant to be finished by the end of next month.

    This builder was on site yesterday when the accident happened. He knew from the deafening crash it was the crane. Were they rushing, I asked him?

    MAN (through interpreter): The timing was very tight, but we'd never crossed the safety limit.

    NICK RAVENSCROFT: Do you feel safe?

    MAN (through interpreter): Yes. But thank God we had finished working on the building that was crushed.

    NICK RAVENSCROFT: But a local M.P. who leads the construction workers union says concerns were raised about the stability of the crane just hours before the accident. But workers were told to keep going, though the developers reject this.

    Today, investigators are trying to figure out exactly what brought this huge crane crashing to the ground. But looming above the scene are wider questions. Brazil has known it's hosting the World Cup for years. Why is everything so last-minute and before the first ball is even kicked off here in June?

    For the two workers who died here yesterday and their families, the accident was a personal tragedy. For Brazil's World Cup dreams, it's a warning.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Soccer's governing body, FIFA, has said it wants all 12 World Cup stadiums ready by the end of December. But, today, it released a statement saying worker safety is the top priority.

    A comet barreling toward Mars had a close encounter with the sun today, passing just 730,000 miles from its surface. As comet ISON approached, the sun's radiation and gravitational pull melted the comet's ice and broke its body apart. Scientists watched the breakup closely to try and learn more about the origins of the solar system.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The government of Egypt enacted a law this past Sunday that forbids protests at places of worship and gatherings of more than 10 people without a permit.

    The prohibition on protests did little to silence Egyptians calling for the release of demonstrators held by the military-appointed government. It was immediately controversial and defied in a country that has seen mass protests play a major part in the removal of two presidents in three years.

    Twenty-four activists were arrested Tuesday after protesting a new controversial law limiting demonstrations. Authorities say the measure was needed to fight terrorism and foster stability in the country. Egypt is in a state of upheaval once again. It has been nearly three years since the revolution which swept President Hosni Mubarak from power, and nearly five months since the military's removed the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, the first elected president in the country's history.

    But this most clampdown on protests has sparked outrage among Islamists and secular Egyptians alike.

    MAN (through interpreter): Is freedom of expression, which has been reserved by international decrees and human rights, a crime?

    WOMAN (through interpreter): What do you mean that I have to get permission to go out and demonstrate against a law that I am opposed to? This is ridiculous. It's a joke.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Security forces used water cannons and tear gas to break up Tuesday's protests by secular activists in front of Parliament. Fourteen women involved in the demonstrations were beaten and dragged off by police before being released on a deserted desert highway in the middle of the night.

    And, yesterday, arrest warrants stemming from the protests were issued to two prominent liberal activists, Alaa Abd El-Fattah and Ahmed Maher. Their supporters decried the order.

    MOHAMED FAWAZ, April 6th Movement: What they are doing is making some kind of distraction from public opinion.

    They want the public opinion to realize that the people -- that what the people who made that incident yesterday were terrorists. Neither Alaa Abd El-Fattah or Ahmed Maher are terrorists. They are peaceful protesters. They are peaceful fighters for the freedom. Nor what happened yesterday was an act of violence. The Ministry of the Interior did that, not us. The Egyptian regime did that, not us.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Fattah was arrested today.

    Maher spoke with the NewsHour's Margaret Warner in September and was, at that time, under extreme pressure from the military, its supporters and even some of his liberal allies for having denounced Morsi's removal as undemocratic.

    AHMED MAHER, April 6th Movement (through interpreter): There are many people like me. We will continue to say that the military establishment must stay away from political work. This is better for the army and better for politics. The military council is not convinced by our demands, and doesn't understand the word democracy to begin with.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The government crackdown on dissent extended yesterday, as nearly two dozen women and girls in Alexandria were handed lengthy prison sentences, some as long as 11 years. They were charged with inciting violence and damaging public property. They were convicted for participating in an October 31 demonstration against Morsi's ouster.

    The verdict spawned more protests today and clashes with military forces outside Cairo University. At least one student was killed in the violence.

    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Earlier today, I spoke with NPR's international correspondent Leila Fadel in Cairo about how Egyptians are responding to these arrests.

    What's the latest on the crackdown that's been happening over the last few weeks?

    LEILA FADEL, NPR: Well, the thing that's different this week after months of crackdown on supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi is that, under this new protest law, they have cracked down on secular and leftist activists. They have arrested dozens of them now released on bail, the women all released in the middle of the desert.

    And we have also seen escalation with the conditions of 14 young Islamist women in Alexandria of 11 years just for protesting in support of the ousted president.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, how's that playing out? Obviously, the news of those 14 arrests is now out there. Is there a public outcry about how those protesters were treated?

    LEILA FADEL: I don't know if it's really a public outcry, but we're seeing human rights organizations saying this is unacceptable, saying this is worse treatment than they even saw under ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

    You're seeing some leading secular politicians calling the authorities, saying this might be a little too much, and the families themselves saying they will appeal and this is evidence that this is clearly not a democratic country, this is clearly a military-led authoritarian nation, and that was a -- it was a coup against the former president.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, you seem to be saying the military is turning away -- its spotlight away from the Muslim Brotherhood, which they might have successfully cracked down on, and is now focusing it back on these secular activists, really the ones who helped get them into power in the first place.

    LEILA FADEL: Yes, the spotlight very much has been almost solely on the Islamists, the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    And some people say they really kind of made a calculated mistake on Tuesday by going after these young secular leftist activists. But these are a couple hundred people at this point. We're not seeing a huge tide turn against the army as of now, but for the first time a much wider outcry from the political elite when they see non-Islamists getting the treatment that we have seen Islamists getting in the last few months.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, while we're hearing about them overseas, is there some censorship going on in the media? Are these stories getting covered?

    LEILA FADEL: We are seeing the stories within some local media, but overall the private television stations here have been really cheerleaders for the army so far.

    We have been though seeing reports more and more, especially with the recent crackdowns and the Alexandria girls, coming out in the local newspapers, but not in a widespread criticism of the army here or the interim leaders.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You mentioned human right groups and a report. Are the political classes, are the people on the street looking back at this entire experiment and saying perhaps we were better off under Mubarak? Has it gotten that bad?

    LEILA FADEL: Well, I think that's a sentiment that people have been feeling for a while now, not necessarily because they loved Mubarak, but because they expected certain things to come out of the revolution in 2007, economic prosperity, social justice, all these things that they haven't seen.

    So, many people are saying, at least we had stability. And so that's why you're seeing many people who supported the overthrow of Morsi and ultimately a path to stability, rather than democracy necessarily. Over the last two years, it's been such a difficult roller coaster, a difficult transition as people try to elect leaders, try to create what they think the future of their country should be.

    And that huge amount of infighting is creating instability, creating governments that aren't functioning, that are in deadlock. And so a lot of people are starting to, I don't want to say regret what happened, but at least, you know, wondering whether it was in a mistake, because life isn't better in the general household in Egypt. Things aren't better. So, there isn't social justice. They're not feeding their families. There isn't better employment.

    Those types are of things are not better so far.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Is there any interest in any sort of a dialogue? Has the military made any overtures to groups, whether the Brotherhood or the secularists? Or does the leadership just feel so emboldened and empowered that they feel like they don't really have to listen to anybody, it's either our way or the highway?

    LEILA FADEL: We haven't seen real efforts from the army towards the Brotherhood for a dialogue, for reconciliation. It's almost a dirty word these days.

    You know, they're calling them terrorists. They're saying it's a banned group. People are being arrested just for having symbols of the Muslim Brotherhood or of their protests, just for maybe a ruler, a balloon, or a T-shirt.

    But when it comes to the secular and leftist activists, we did see a very different reaction. We saw members of the 50-member assembly that's tasked with amending the constitution suspending their membership briefly, saying this was unacceptable, calling for the release of those activists.

    So, in that sense, I think there was a real awakening among secular and leftist activists and amongst some of the political elite, saying, well, this seems to say that no protests are acceptable, that no dissent, not just Islamist dissent, no dissent is acceptable now. 

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Leila Fadel, thanks so much for joining us.

    LEILA FADEL: Thank you. 

    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio


    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now a look at some of the larger issues raised in the ongoing debate over the Affordable Care Act, questions of how deeply a government should involve itself in the personal welfare of its citizens, of individual rights and collective responsibilities, even whether the law's troubled rollout might be seen as a challenge to the viability of the liberal philosophy at its core.

    The latest major setback came yesterday, when the Obama administration announced a one-year delay in launching the federal Web site for small businesses to enroll their employees with insurers.

    Jeffrey Brown gets two views on these bigger issues at stake.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And for that, we're joined by Jacob Hacker, director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. He worked on the broad blueprint of the health care law and has written a number of books about social policy in the U.S. And Avik Roy is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the new book "How Medicaid Fails the Poor." He served as Mitt Romney's health care adviser during the 2012 presidential campaign.

    Jacob Hacker, let me start with you.

    Even before we get to the problems of the rollout, how do you see the affordable health care act fitting into a larger debate in the U.S. over many decades over the role of government in the lives of its citizens?

    JACOB HACKER, Yale University: Well, we have been debating the place of health care in the American social contract since the early part of the 20th century.

    And that debate for 75 years or so has resulted in legislative failure. And the Affordable Care Act was a landmark step forward. Americans for a long time have believed that health care is an essential public responsibility.

    What changed in the last 20 years or so is that the sector of the economy that was providing health benefits, employers, increasingly started to off-load them, and the Medicaid program started to pick up a lot of that slack.

    And so from the -- Bill Clinton's health effort in 1993 through the successful passage of the Affordable Care Act, we saw more and more pressure being put on this issue by those who are concerned about the increasing gaps in American health insurance.

    So I think it clearly is designed to become an integral part of the American social fabric, like Medicare or Social Security is. 


    Avik Roy, is it a -- is it an essential part of the fabric -- how do Americans see it? Is it a responsibility of government? Is it a right of citizens?

    AVIK ROY, The Manhattan Institute: Well, I don't think the American public hand -- the polls echo this -- that the American public doesn't necessarily believe that government should have complete responsibility for the health care system or even a broad responsibility for the health care system.

    However, I do share the goal and I think a lot of conservatives do share the goal that a basic safety net that does provide basic health care for everyone is an attractive and worthy goal. The problem with our system today is the enormous waste and the unaffordability of the system today and the federal spending, which is increasingly a burden on middle-class taxpayers.

    And the thing with the Affordable Care Acting is, while it does expand coverage, it actually makes health care less affordable for a lot of people.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So -- just to stay with you, Avik Roy, so, is it a question of where to draw the line with how much government action in this?

    AVIK ROY: Yes.

    I mean, if we -- unfortunately, because of the way our system evolved, it evolved in a very idiosyncratic way, right? We have Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the very poor and then filled in the blanks with a lot of different patches. And, as a result, the system we have today is very inefficient.

    If we had started with a system that really focused on providing adequate and basic health care to the poor, we'd have a much more efficient and cost-effective system today. Unfortunately, we don't, and that's why we're stuck in what Paul Starr would call a policy trap, where re-allocating health care resources from the elderly, from other people who benefit from the status quo is very difficult.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Jacob Hacker, can you agree with part of that, that we're sort of stuck in a kind of trap that -- of effectiveness, of efficiency?

    JACOB HACKER: Absolutely.

    I actually think that Paul Starr's formulation of this in his -- in his work as a basically a path-dependent story, where we -- we never would have chosen the system we have today, but it came out -- about through a series of missteps and policy defeats, is very much true.

    And it's absolutely true, too, that the system is quite inefficient. But the important thing to keep in mind is that the Affordable Care Act was designed really to work with the existing system. And I think some of its difficulties reflect the huge fragmentation of that system, the fact that it's relying so heavily on private insurance plans, that it's not trying to displace the existing employment-based system, which I think Avik and I would agree isn't -- wouldn't in an ideal world be the best way to provide coverage.

    After all, if you lose your job, you lose your health insurance. And tying health care so closely to employment reduces job mobility, is not a great idea for employers in a global economy, and so on. So we have to deal with the reality of the system as it is today.

    And I think the real question before us is how do we move forward given the fact that we do have an inefficient system that simultaneously fails to cover everyone and costs far more than the systems in other advanced industrial democracies.

    The Affordable Care Act was an important step forward. I still think it's going to make an enormous positive difference, but this has been a very difficult period because the implementation of it has been so poorly handled and because it's such a fragmented system.


    JEFFREY BROWN: What about, Avik Roy, the question of American individualism vs. communitarianism? We have had on this -- our regular viewers know we have been highlighting, profiling a lot of individual cases of their experience of the new health care act.

    And some people, I'm ready -- I see I have to sacrifice so that others can get it. They -- they're willing to take that approach. Other people say, why should I pay more so that others can be covered?

    AVIK ROY: Well, I think what this comes down to is the fact that, again, if somebody is born with Down syndrome -- I think most Americans would say a child that is born with Down syndrome, let's try to provide that child with adequate health care.

    The question becomes when you create a system that disincentivizes people from being economically productive, that incentivizes people to drop out of the work force, that incentivizes them to rearrange their income to gain higher amounts of government benefits, that's a system where the average taxpayer works hard and plays by the rules feels -- feels like he's not being treated fairly.

    And then a large part of the problem, again, is the existing system of subsidy, which overwhelmingly benefits the elderly, who end up receiving a lot more in benefits than they put into the system in terms of payroll taxes and premiums.

    So, the system in general is largely redistributed, but in the wrong direction and in an unfair direction. Unfortunately, again, the Affordable Care Act makes a lot of these problems worse. It takes the individual insurance market, where people shop for coverage on their own, which is already a disadvantaged market, where people pay higher prices net than other people do, and it makes that market more expensive.

    And so, again, people who are healthy, who work out, who try to eat right, who stay healthy, but shop for coverage on their own, are now having to pay a lot more for coverage to subsidize other people. And, again, we may say that we want to subsidize other people to a degree, but we're -- we're doing that on the backs of people who probably are not exactly the most advantaged people in the system today.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, let me let Jacob Hacker respond to that.

    JACOB HACKER: Well, I mean, I think that we should recognize there are a lot of cross-subsidies in the present system in redistribution.

    In fact, because of the way the tax breaks for health insurance are structured, the current system is actually very favorable to people who have insurance and to higher-income people. So part of the goal of the Affordable Care Act was to make subsidies for health insurance, to make help for health insurance available to those with lower incomes.

    And so if you look at the law, it's actually very much supporting the idea that people should be in the work force and receiving their health benefits through their hard work. For example, it is trying to encourage employers to continue to provide health insurance, which I think over the long term, is going to be difficult to maintain.

    But it's certainly an approach that's consistent with the work-oriented system we have today. And the only thing it's really doing on the side of bringing up benefits is to really try to make sure that it fills those gaps that exist now between the Medicaid program for the very poor and those who have good health insurance through their employment, often people who have higher wages and who are receiving larger tax breaks.

    One thing I would say -- and I really think I need push back against a point that Avik made -- is that there are some people who are losing out because they were low-risk people who had very inexpensive individual policies. But those policies were in no way guaranteed in the individual market. Insurers are changing their policies every year.

    Moreover, they were advantaged in part because they were, in the years that they were healthy, able to get these low-cost policies. A system that's going to make sure that people have coverage over their lifetimes and it's going to make sure that those who are healthy are paying in, as well as those who are sick, is going to have to make sure that policies are available, are continuous, and sometimes that will be more costly.

    But, for most people, we have seen the costs are going to be lower than they have -- than the policies they had today, especially when you take into account the large subsidies that people are going to receive if they have lower incomes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Avik Roy, you get a last word on that.

    AVIK ROY: Yes.

    So, this really comes down to the question of individual liberty vs. a central design of the insurance market. And I think what we have seen is that when you give people more control over their health dollars through health savings accounts, through choice of their own insurance plans, the costs are much lower and the quality of plans is much higher.

    It's when the government starts to determine what the plans must contain that you have problems with access to care. In Medicaid, it's very for patients to getting access to physicians. The health outcomes are much worse than they are for people with private insurance. These are the problems -- these are the concerns that Americans have.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Jacob Hacker and Avik Roy, thanks so much.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: As the bloody civil war in Syria rages on, the head of the United Nations Refugee Agency today called on European and Gulf states to take in the growing number of refugees. He said some three million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries and 6.5 million more have been displaced inside the country. As a result, the daily lives of regular citizens has drastically deteriorated.

    Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News has this report on the increased suffering.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: They look like such normal kids, but their families have fled to central Damascus from the suburbs, where they saw things no child should see.

    "There was no life. Everything was dead," he says. "Everyone was mourning their children who had been killed."

    "There was nothing but fighting and shelling," she says. "And I didn't have any friends to play with."

    At least they're safe here. Every day, they go to classes at the center where displaced people learn multiple skills. Men's grooming is popular. The project was originally from refugees from Iraq, but the cycle of misery in the Middle East has moved around.

    Now most of the Iraqis have gone home. One has stayed on to teach English to his former hosts. Syrians didn't need food aid before the war. They do now. The women tell me everyday items such as sugar and chicken have increased sixfold or more. Getting supplies to Damascus is easy, but nearly half the places U.N. agencies are trying to reach are contested or in rebel hands.

    MATTHEW HOLLINGWORTH, World Food Program: We're moving thousands of truckloads of food every single month with thousands drivers. You have families at home who worry about them as well. And it's -- it's frequently just a simple case that they are too frightened to go into particular areas until the fighting calms down.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: Fighting and a government blockade are preventing food from reaching tens of thousands of civilians in the suburbs around the capital that are under rebel control. Many of these people have fled the Damascus suburbs, which are still besieged. Very little is getting in or out.

    Over the summer, people there have been able to survive because they grow vegetables. But the winter is coming, and the fear is that the government will use food as a weapon of war and try and starve out both the rebel fighters and the residents.

    These pictures of empty shelves are east Ghouta, a suburb controlled by the rebels and besieged by government forces for more than a year. Even vegetables seem to be running low now. People use firewood to cook because gas is in short supply. And, sometimes, even that's too expensive.

    Um Malek has been reduced to cooking on animal dung. Her husband hadn't worked since he was wounded, so she uses her meager earnings as a seamstress to feed their three boys.

    UM MALEK, Syria (through interpreter): We eat only one meal a day, and if we have some food, they can have soup in the morning. Some days, they do not eat. Only one meal the afternoon, that's all. That's what we can manage.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: The country is crisscrossed with front lines. More than 2,000 rebel groups are fighting each other and the regime. Local Red Crescent volunteers are often the only ones who can persuade an angry man with a gun to let supplies in.

    KHALED ERKSOUSSI, Arab Red Crescent: It comes to that guy on the checkpoint. And, sometimes, he is says, OK, you have the approval, but those people inside, they killed my brother, they killed my mother, they killed my father. I will never let you in. I will never let you deliver food for the people who are shooting at me. It comes to that.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: Routine vaccination, 17 cases of polio, eradicated in Syria a decade-and-a-half ago, have now been confirmed. The crippling disease was apparently brought in by jihadi fighters from Pakistan, where it's endemic.

    HAMIDA LASSEKO, UNICEF: There was quite a central panic. This panic, in a way, was positive on our side because it helped us -- it helped us to make the community realize that it is important to bring their children for vaccination, and also for the community to accept those vaccinators who are coming house to house.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: Government and rebels are now allowing vaccines across the lines, but more food and other medicines are urgently needed. War has brought in its wake an era of hunger and disease that no Syrian could have imagined in this century. 

    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio


    HARI SREENIVASAN: This Thanksgiving, we have three holiday-themed stories.

    First up, Judy Woodruff visits with trendsetting restaurateur Alice Waters.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In a day when nearly all farmers markets and grocery stores carry organic produce, it's hard to imagine the idea as novel. But when chef Alice Waters opened her restaurant Chez Panisse in a Berkeley neighborhood over 40 years ago, her concept of cooking with seasonal organic ingredients bought fresh from local farms was new.

    ALICE WATERS, chef/restaurateur: If it's just picked, it has a kind of life about it. It's evident to the people who are coming into the restaurant.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The style became known as California cuisine, and Waters one of its pioneers. Waters has become a leader outside the kitchen, too, educating students about food and where it comes from.

    In 1995, she founded the Edible Schoolyard Project. Students learn to plant and harvest a garden, then prepare the produce in the kitchen. It now has a network of some 3,000 schools around the world.

    ALICE WATERS: Well, it's helped me realize how much stuff actually grows in the ground and how much stuff -- you know, everything comes in packages these days.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Waters is the author of 14 books. Her latest, a cookbook, "The Art of Simple Food II," came out this fall.

    Alice Waters, thank you for talking with us.

    ALICE WATERS: Pleasure.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you were one of first proponents of organic food, locally grown food. Now, across the country, we have grocery stores filled with organic food. Locally grown food is available just about everywhere, farmers markets popping up.

    Is this what you wanted to see?

    ALICE WATERS: You know, when I opened Chez Panisse 42 years ago, I wasn't really looking for a marketplace. I was looking for taste.

    And -- and it was that sort of search for something that really tasted like the food I had eaten in France, I ended up at the doorsteps of the organic local farmers and producers.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And why -- why do you -- you have talked about this a lot. Why do you believe organic food, locally grown food, especially organic, is so important for people?

    And I ask because there have been a couple of studies, one big study, that said it's really not that much healthier for people.

    ALICE WATERS: Well, first and foremost is that the organic growers are taking care of the land. And that's where our food comes from.

    So, we want the farmers to be supported who really care about not only our nourishment, but the nourishment of the land. And I think that's -- that's really what it's about. It's reconnecting with people who are those stewards and those caretakers.

    But I have also found that they plant all kinds of fruits and vegetables now that have more flavor. So, I'm looking for the vegetables and fruits particularly that are the varietals, that have this kind of gastronomic importance.

    And I don't think we have really thought about that so much in this country. When I go to Italy, that's -- that's -- that's what the farmers do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And I know you get asked this question all the time, but what about those people who can't -- who say, it all sounds great, I wish I could afford it, but I can't afford to buy organic food, I can't afford to buy locally grown food?

    ALICE WATERS: Well, I think there's the issue of knowing how to cook and making a dinner in an affordable way.

    I think we have lost all of our -- our cooking knowledge and understanding about seasons because the sort of fast food industry would like us to believe that even cooking is drudgery and sitting down at the table is unimportant, and, you know, it's just better and cheaper to buy something that's prepared for us.

    But, you know, when you think about it, when something is very cheap, it means that somebody is losing out, and I think that person is the farmer.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But is that kind of food that you believe we should all eat more of, is it available? Is it available to most people?

    ALICE WATERS: Well, it could be. And it should be.

    And I'm -- I just am focused completely on public education, because that's the place where we can learn about food and what's good for us and reconnect to nature. It's so important to that we go into the public schools and we feed all of the kids something that is really good for them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is this part of the same conversation the country has been starting to have about obesity?

    ALICE WATERS: Absolutely.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We have heard some of it from the White House, but there's -- there's a whole movement around that right now.

    ALICE WATERS: Well, you know, we pay either up front or we pay out back. And we are really paying out back with our health and our lack of health, good health.

    And I think there's a way that you can -- children particularly -- just fall in love with food that's good for them. And that's been my experience. You know, I have been working in the schools, in the public schools, for 19 years. And we have been doing the Edible Schoolyard Project.

    And we are bringing children into a relationship, a new relationship to food and to growing food. And it's not a gardening class and it's not really a cooking class. They do their math in the garden. It's like a living lab. And it's just -- it's captivating.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Here's a question I'm dying to ask you. What about cooking on the part of people who think they're too busy, who just don't time to cook? What do you say?

    ALICE WATERS: Well, that's -- that's a beautiful question.

    And I always say that if you go to the farmers market on a weekend, and you buy really delicious-tasting fruits and vegetables, all -- all other things as well, a nice organic chicken, you can very easily cook during the week, because you have ingredients that have taste.

    Like, in the summer, you're just slicing that tomato, and it's so effortless. You're -- you're cooking a little piece of fish. It's difficult to cook when you don't have those ingredients. And it's -- it's beautiful to take a whole chicken and roast it in the oven, and maybe keep those bones, make a soup at the end of a meal, and then have another dinner the next night that incorporates that stock that you have made.

    But when you're just every day trying to start from scratch, and it's overwhelming when you're working. But I can -- I feel like I could cook a meal in 10 minutes if I have the ingredients there.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, this is Thanksgiving week when we're -- when we're talking. Are there particular traditions in Alice Waters' family that you believe is really important to remember around this time?

    ALICE WATERS: Well, certainly, there are traditions in my family since I have been about 20 -- 20, someplace around there , after I had gone to France.

    But I always cook with my friends. They all come over, and we do it together.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Alice Waters, it's a delight to talk with you.

    ALICE WATERS: Thanks.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you very much. And I know you are -- have answered some questions from our viewers. And we will be posting those online. Thank you.

    ALICE WATERS: Well, thank you very much.


    0 0

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: We look back now at a time when organic food was the only option.

    Paul Solman explores the different economic attitudes held by Native Americans and the first Pilgrims.

    It's part of his ongoing reporting Making Sense of financial news or, in this case, history.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Thanksgiving time at the Wampanoag Homesite, a 17th century living history exhibit at Plimoth Plantation. But what's cooking came as a surprise.

    WOMAN: Its called iompweawasapwigik. It's a venison stew.

    Would you like to try?

    PAUL SOLMAN: Well, sure.

    But I was going to ask you about turkey.


    PAUL SOLMAN: No feathered friends sacrificed for the traditional dish, Mashpee Wampanoag Kerri Helme was sharing, however.

    That's venison?

    WOMAN: It is. And you would probably see more of this, you know, at the first Thanksgiving than turkey.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In fact, while the 1621 celebration in Plymouth, Massachusetts, is sparsely documented, it probably didn't much resemble today's Thanksgiving in a lot of ways, including what you might call its economics.

    The Pilgrims, who had already moved toward a cash exchange economy in Europe, encountered native people with very different attitudes -- toward real estate, for instance.

    TIM TURNER, Plimoth Plantation: The land that was here was for everybody to use. We didn't believe in possessing or owning land.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Tim Turner manages the Wampanoag indigenous program at Plimoth.

    TIM TURNER: You might see somebody use a piece of land, but there was never a fence. You were crossing people's property all the time. People were cutting through your homesite all the time.

    So, our concept of land ownership vs. the concept that the English had was totally different.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Also totally different, it appears, the Wampanoag, though they did trade with each other, debate seem to have been profit maximizers.

    TIM TURNER: You weren't trying to make a profit or look better than anybody else. If you took more than everybody else, people in the community wouldn't have liked that.

    PAUL SOLMAN: In the 17th century English community, however, colonists were moving toward economic growth, through trade with the natives for land, for example.

    With plantation deputy director Richard Pickering as our guide...

    RICHARD PICKERING, Plimoth Plantation: I want you to meet two of the residents who were here for the harvest feast in 1621.

    PAUL SOLMAN: ... we stepped back in time to get the colonist perspective from so-called interpreters playing Edward Winslow and Stephen Hopkins.

    MAN: How do you do?

    PAUL SOLMAN: A merchant who explained his motive is to earn as much as he can from trade.

    MAN: We are a trading company.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Including trade with the natives.

    MAN: There's fellows who come in here, and they're wanting, oh, I don't know, a little three-penny knife like that or something, for which they're willing to trade a pelt that might fetch 14, 15, 16 shillings back in London.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Do you feel that you are taking advantage of the people you trade with if you give them less than you could?

    MAN: The furs they're giving to us, they already got them on their backs. They wear them like clothes, so it's not as worth to them, but, to us, it's how we make our money.

    PAUL SOLMAN: You could say there were two contrasting economic models at work: the settlers trading to profit, and thereby pay back their investors, and hopefully reinvest to grow the Plymouth economy, but to the native people, the exchange of goods was more akin to gift-giving, says writer Lewis Hyde.

    LEWIS HYDE, "The Gift": In the European sense, something that's given to me becomes mine, and it's as if it's contained in my ego. I have complete control over it. In the gift exchange sense, it's not yours. You are the steward of something which is just passing through you.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Thirty years ago, in a book that's become something of a classic, "The Gift," Hyde began with the origin of a pejorative he'd learned as a kid: Indian giver.

    LEWIS HYDE: It meant that you have given a gift to somebody and then you wanted to get it back. So you're not really generous. But it seemed to me that this was probably not the original meaning of the word.

    So I found the first use of it, which turns out to be in Thomas Hutchinson's book about the early colonies in the United States. So actually what's being described is gifts which are given have to be returned in some way.

    RICHARD PICKERING: So the first winter in Plymouth was horrific. Half of the company dies in two-and-a-half months.

    PAUL SOLMAN: The remaining 53 celebrated a good harvest with a feast. They were joined by Wampanoag leader Massasoit and his men. Elizabeth Hopkins, wife of merchant Stephen, remembered that the Wampanoag offered gifts.

    WOMAN: When they arrived, their king, Massasoit, sent several of his men out, and they came back with five deer, which they presented to some of the chief men in the town. And this was a marvel to me, for, if you look at them, you think they are wild men who live in the woods, and yet you could find good order amongst them, for they honored their king, but they also honored the chief men of our town as well.

    PAUL SOLMAN: To Lewis Hyde, this was the gift economy at work, much as it functions in all cultures, at least some of the time. We give a bottle of wine when we come to dinner, for example, not a cash equivalent.

    LEWIS HYDE: The key difference between gift exchange and commercial exchange is the gift exchange sets up a connection. Particularly if I feel grateful for the gift you have given me, I may want to do something in return. And this begins to set up a relationship between you and me.

    PAUL SOLMAN: It's been said that the Pilgrims invited the Wampanoag to their feast as thanks for helping them survive their first year.

    Richard Pickering isn't so sure.

    RICHARD PICKERING: Whether the original participants saw it that way is not clear, that for them, all that we know is Governor Bradford set aside days for the special manner of rejoicing.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But, regardless, the very idea that two cultures rejoiced together matters today, says Lewis Hyde, because the downside of a gift economy is its dividing line between those in the group and those outside it.

    LEWIS HYDE: One critique of gift exchange is that it excludes some people.

    What's of interest in the first Thanksgiving is that it breaks this boundary. So it's not just Pilgrims giving thanks to God in their community. It's two communities coming together. One thing to think about in any Thanksgiving celebration is, have you invited the stranger into your circle, and could you do that?

    PAUL SOLMAN: Thanksgiving in the very broadest sense, that is, of gifts creating community.


    0 0

    By Rene Almeling

    Egg agencies and sperm banks, while they offer new fertility technology, have helped perpetuate old gender stereotypes, explains Yale sociologist Rene Almeling. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ian Crowther.

    Today's fertility industry is an economic force to be reckoned with. And not just because the egg agencies and sperm banks that receive sex cells pay a lot for these "donations." This is a booming market, it's true, and it's one predicated on new technology. But this market has had the unintended consequence of perpetuating stereotypes about men's and women's economic roles, namely where different genders fit in the labor market. Rene Almeling, author of "Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm," explains. Almeling is an assistant professor of sociology at Yale University.

    Rene Almeling: Unimaginable until the 20th century, the clinical practice of transferring eggs and sperm from body to body is now a multi-million dollar industry. Egg agencies and sperm banks help create families, but they're part of a medical market where the economic model is infused with gendered stereotypes.

    Women providing eggs are usually paid around $5,000 to $10,000, while men earn around $100 per sperm donation. Yet, staffers in egg agencies and sperm banks consistently refer to this practice as "donation." Depending on the sex of the donor, however, there are subtle differences in how donation is understood: egg donation is portrayed as an altruistic gift, while sperm donation is considered an easy job. Given that eggs and sperm are similar kinds of cells -- each contains half the genetic material needed to create an embryo -- what explains these different understandings?

    It's not just biology, and it's not just technology. Four years of research into the medical market for eggs and sperm, including interviews with nearly 100 program staff and donors all over the country, reveal that traditional gendered stereotypes -- of women as caregivers and men as breadwinners -- influence how egg agencies and sperm banks do business.

    The Business of Egg and Sperm Donation

    Tens of thousands of people turn to fertility clinics each year, seeking donated eggs and sperm to conceive children. Egg agencies and sperm banks are similar in that they are in the business of recruiting "sellable" donors who will attract these recipient clients. It is the details of how they go about doing this that reveal the importance of gendered stereotypes in their day-to-day operations. For example, drawing on the stereotype of women as nurturing caregivers, egg agencies emphasize the plight of infertile couples in selecting women who want to "help" people by giving the "gift of life."

    In contrast, sperm banks rarely mention recipients, and they encourage men to think of donation like a "job." One cheeky ad calls on them to "Get paid for what you're already doing!" So the market for sex cells is structured both by traditional economic forces, such as the supply of and demand for donors, as well as by cultural expectations of women and men that are associated with reproduction and the family.

    More evidence comes from the procedures used to screen prospective egg and sperm donors. Egg agencies and sperm banks alike require extensive medical evaluations, including a family health history that goes back three generations. But that is where the similarity ends. Some differences are driven by medical guidelines to optimize fertility. For example, egg donors must conform to rigorous height/weight ratios; sperm donors do not. And women over 30 are unlikely to be accepted as donors, while sperm donors can donate until they are 40.

    Many of the screening standards, though, are driven by social concerns. Sperm banks usually require that men be at least 5 feet 8 inches tall; egg agencies do not set height minimums. Most sperm banks require that men be enrolled in college or have a college degree; egg agencies do not. Most egg agencies require psychological evaluations to assess how women feel about having children out in the world; sperm banks do not require that men discuss this possibility with a mental health professional.

    Certainly, there are biological sex differences that are important to take into account when analyzing this market. As a result of these differences, women who provide eggs must self-inject fertility medications for several weeks before undergoing outpatient surgery. Sperm donors do not face any such physical risks, to say the least. But many people do not realize that sperm banks require men to donate on a regular basis, usually once a week, for at least a year. (It costs a lot of money to screen donors, so sperm banks have to make sure that the tiny fraction of men who are accepted as donors donate often enough during their year-long commitment to make the investment worth it.)

    But neither biology nor technology explains why producing eggs for money is a gift and producing sperm for money is a job. Gendered stereotypes do.

    Not only do they shape the organization of the market, framing paid donation as a gift or a job has profound implications for the donors themselves. Egg agencies are constantly thanking women for the wonderful difference they are making in the lives of recipients, and the egg donors I interviewed spoke with a great deal of pride about helping people have children. Some egg donors even described the money they received as a "gift" for the gift they had given.

    MORE FROM THE BUSINESS DESK: Why Some Women Try to Have It All: New Research on 'Like Mother, Like Daughter'

    Sperm banks treat men more like employees who are expected to clock in on a regular basis, and sperm donors respond by calling the money "income" or "wages." Nobody is waxing poetic about the great significance of sperm donation, and men are more likely to receive funny tchotchkes like sperm pens and t-shirts than thank-you notes. More importantly, several of the sperm donors said they felt like "assets" or "resources" for the sperm bank, suggesting a sense of alienation from their own bodies.

    I did not hear that kind of language from the egg donors, even though they are making much more money than the sperm donors. These kinds of differences demonstrate the powerful influence that fertility agencies have on donors' perceptions. Calling a donation a gift or a job is not just a matter of rhetorical flourish; there are actual effects on women's and men's experiences of exchanging sex cells for money. Both egg and sperm donors help people achieve their dreams of having a family, but it is only women who walk away from this exchange with a sense of pride about the huge difference they are making in the lives of others.

    Why Is This Market Controversial?

    Generally speaking, markets for bodily goods and services provoke controversy. Think blood, organs, surrogate motherhood, prostitution. As in those cases, the market for eggs and sperm raises hackles because economic value is being assigned to the human body. We tend to think of commodifying the body as inherently degrading, but there has actually been relatively little direct research on the experiences of those who participate in such markets.

    As a result, we need to learn more about how these markets work in practice. The comparison between egg and sperm donation makes clear that bodily commodification is not a generic or uniform process, and it can result in different kinds of outcomes for different kinds of people in different kinds of situations. It is not only the monetary exchange that matters, but how cultural assumptions about women and men interact to structure the organization and experience of particular markets. As the anthropologist Rayna Rapp has noted, it is often the newest technologies that tend to attract the oldest stereotypes. So in addition to all the advances in high-tech reproduction, we also need advances in how we think about women and men.

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

    0 0

    If you're sick of everything Black Friday, NASA has an alternative: Black Hole Friday. Throughout the day, they'll be tweeting facts and images about black holes, and giving Black Friday forgoers a reason to celebrate.

    For retail, it's #BlackFriday. For us, it's #BlackHoleFriday. Today, we'll post info & images all about black holes. pic.twitter.com/jsk9vUjcr4

    — NASA (@NASA) November 29, 2013

    Did you know? A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can't get out. #BlackHoleFriday#BlackFriday

    — NASA (@NASA) November 29, 2013

    Hungry on #BlackFriday? Big & small black holes have simple feeding habits http://t.co/V9rD87fijo#BlackHoleFridaypic.twitter.com/vE03ED54ZY

    — NASA (@NASA) November 29, 2013

    Support Your Local PBS Station


older | 1 | .... | 283 | 284 | (Page 285) | 286 | 287 | .... | 1175 | newer