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

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    GWEN IFILL: In Ukraine, protesters are back at the barricades, their anger refueled by their president's new dealings with Moscow.

    Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports.

    MARGARET WARNER: Russian President Vladimir Putin threw embattled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych a lifeline today, agreeing to buy $15 billion in Ukrainian bonds and to slash the selling price of Russian natural gas by about a third. He launched their talks at the Kremlin by voicing solidarity with his economically strapped neighbor.

    VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russian President (through interpreter): I very much hope that we will be able to move forward in solving the most sensitive issues for us. Without any doubt, Ukraine is our strategic partner and ally in every sense of this word.

    MARGARET WARNER: But Putin insisted there was no discussion of Ukraine becoming part of an economic trading bloc of former Soviet states, over which Yanukovych has been criticized at home.

    VLADIMIR PUTIN (through interpreter): I would like to calm everybody down. We have not discussed today at all the question of Ukraine joining the customs union.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yet, back in the Ukrainian capital, news of the bailout angered protesters who want Ukraine to move toward the European Union, not back into Russia's fold.

    One opposition leader, former heavyweight boxing champ Vitali Klitschko, insisted their battle is not over.

    VITALI KLITSCHKO, opposition leader (through interpreter): They have given up Ukraine's national interests, they have given up Ukraine's independence, and they have given up perspectives of better life for all Ukrainians.

    MARGARET WARNER: The protesters have been camped out in Kiev's Maidan Square since November 25, when Yanukovych, under pressure from Russia, unexpectedly reneged on plans to sign a political and trade agreement with the E.U.

    Last week, they were boosted by a visit from Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who handed out bread and encouragement. And E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton came away from a meeting with Yanukovych saying he'd pledge to sign the agreement after all.

    But, on Sunday, E.U. officials said negotiations were going nowhere, and the crowd in the square swelled to some 200,000.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.: The free world is with you. America is with you. I am with you.

    MARGARET WARNER: Arizona Senator John McCain told the demonstrators that Ukraine's destiny lies with Europe, not with Russia.

    Back in Washington today, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Kremlin bailout doesn't address the protesters' concerns, nor Ukraine's deeper economic problems.

    JAY CARNEY, White House Press Secretary: As we have said in the past, we urge the Ukrainian government to listen to its people and to find a way to restore a path to the peaceful, just, democratic, and economically prosperous European future to which Ukrainian citizens aspire.

    MARGARET WARNER: The Kremlin plans to buy the first installment of Ukrainian bonds this week.


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    GWEN IFILL: And Margaret joins me now.

    Let's start at the Kremlin. What was going on there?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, this was Vladimir Putin trying to lance a boil.

    It's worth remembering, Gwen, that these are the biggest protests in Eastern Europe in this century since the Orange Revolution in 2004, bigger than the protests that came out against Putin about three years ago. And Putin, for once, really played this smart. He didn't force Yanukovych to sign this customs union. He didn't rub his nose in it. He gave him this lifeline, which he desperately needs.

    Now, nobody knows what private assurances were given. Also, nobody knows how the opposition is actually going to react, and whether this will sort of quell their -- quell their protests or not.

    GWEN IFILL: What are the protests about? What is at the root of all of this?

    MARGARET WARNER: Two things. One is economic. I mean, the Ukraine has been badly mismanaged. There's terrible corruption. There are horrible -- huge subsidies, overspending. That's one.

    And Ukrainians of a new generation, they look at their neighbor Poland. The Poles joined the Europeans. They live a great life. They have personal freedom. They have money to spend. They have a flourishing economy, and they say, why not us? So there's that.

    There's also this deeper, sort of old historical and cultural ties between Russia and Ukraine. Russia really does want to reconstitute, not a new Soviet bloc, but a group of countries that are in its orbit economically and dependent on them. And it's used a lot of economic muscle against Armenia, against Moldova, just to name two.

    But Ukraine is the big surprise. Ukraine and Russia go way back centuries. And, in fact, they are the two entities that formed the Soviet Union in 1922. And I remember I was staying with Russian friends when Ukraine decided to break away. And to the father of that family, it was like a betrayal in the family.

    So there's a lot -- for Putin, getting Ukraine in this orbit is the golden prize.

    GWEN IFILL: It's cultural as well, and emotional as well as everything else.


    GWEN IFILL: But tell me a little bit about what is at stake for the U.S. You have been doing a lot of reporting talking to U.S. officials. some of them have been over there, E.U. officials as well, trying to figure out where to land in all of this.

    MARGARET WARNER: There's a lot at stake for the U.S., Gwen, and also for the West in general.

    And that is, because Ukraine is such a strategically important country, if -- it's not a cold war that is going on anymore, but there's still a geopolitical rivalry between two ways of life. And one is the sort of Western market-oriented, the more personal freedoms of the West in Western Europe and now Eastern Europe -- the western part of Eastern Europe.

    And then there's sort of a group around Russia that is more authoritarian, fewer personal freedoms, more controlled economy, and a lot of corruption. And so if the West could manage to reorient Ukraine toward the E.U. to taking the tough steps they will have to, to get IMF loans, which is what they will have to do, a lot of economic pain, but that could have a huge impact, the U.S. believes, on the region and maybe even on Russia.

    GWEN IFILL: You know, it's interesting. We just saw in your piece that Yanukovych seems to tell whoever he talked to last what they want to hear.


    GWEN IFILL: He told the E.U. what it wanted to hear -- $15 million later -- $15 billion -- I don't know. How much is it?

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes, billion.

    GWEN IFILL: Billion dollars later, he is telling Russia what they want to hear.

    How do people read him here?

    MARGARET WARNER: Both Europeans and Americans -- and I can't name any names -- seem him the same way.

    Carl Bildt, the Swedish prime minister, called him complete double-speak two-face. But the Americans -- and I include everyone from U.S. senator to U.S. officials and European officials -- say when you get in a meeting with him, first of all, he is very obsessed with old grievances, and the E.U. didn't come through in the way they should have and didn't treat him with proper respect and give him enough money and doesn't -- he doesn't -- they don't understand the pressure he is under.

    And Russia is essentially saying, we will ruin you if you go this direction. So it's tough to stand up to that. And -- but, more fundamentally, they don't think he is a man who is really thinking about the future of this country in the long term. They think he is very preoccupied with himself, his political future. He wants to run for reelection.

    And, also, it is alleged, the incredible corruption racket that he and his family have going, and so...

    GWEN IFILL: Is it me, or does it sound like Afghanistan? The same relationships, awkward relationships with the leader.


    MARGARET WARNER: It may. Yes, the same awkward relationships, yes.

    And so the big -- the big question out there really is, how does Yanukovych sell this when he gets home? Does he say to everybody, look, I bought us a year now, we can pay our debts -- because they have huge debts coming up next year -- but now we're going to also move down the IMF path, or does he just say, take it or leave it?

    GWEN IFILL: I have cast my lot with Moscow.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes. And he said today, I had no alternative but to sign these.

    And, secondly, how do these protesters react? The U.S. has spent a lot of time and energy, Victoria Nuland and others, working with them to stick together, keep it moderate, not make excessive demands. They have kept it very, very well-controlled. But there's a long, cold winter ahead. Are they going to stay out there? Is something violent going to happen? Anything could happen.

    GWEN IFILL: And I know you're keeping your finger on the pulse. Margaret, thank you.

    MARGARET WARNER: Of course.

    Thank you.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to El Salvador, home to some of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the world.

    NewsHour special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on what it means for women there when abortion is considered murder, without exception.

    A version of this story originally aired on the PBS program "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly."

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Farm laborer Elias Cruz took the day off recently to visit his daughter's pro bono attorney.

    ELIAS CRUZ, agricultural laborer (through interpreter): She feels her case has been abandoned. They did not investigate as they should have to get concrete evidence.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Nineteen-year-old Glenda Cruz was recently began a 10-year sentence for aggravated homicide after her pregnancy ended under suspicious circumstances. She said it was a miscarriage. Her father blames her abusive boyfriend, who then testified against her.

    Lawyer Dennis Munoz Estanley plans to appeal.

    DENNIS MUNOZ ESTANLEY, attorney (through interpreter): Glenda has never been alone. Maybe it's because she is in prison that she thinks she is alone.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Across town at the state's medical legal department, which advised the prosecution, JOSE FORTIN MAGANA has no doubt this was a case of infanticide.

    DR. JOSE FORTIN MAGANA, El Salvador (through interpreter): She is in prison because of an abortion. It's absolutely false what she says. What happens is when someone murders someone else, he or she doesn't turn up on the TV and say, I'm guilty of murder. Maybe there has been a mistake, but in most cases they are guilty.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Glenda Cruz's one of several cases that have come under public scrutiny in the debate over one of the world's most stringent abortion laws.

    Since 1997, abortion has been illegal in El Salvador with no exceptions, which had once existed for cases such as rape, incest, or threat to the mother's life. Dozens of women have been prosecuted for illegal abortion, in some cases for aggravated homicide.

    The change reflected a strong influence in this conservative, largely Catholic nation of the group Si ala Vida, or Yes to Life, and church leadership, with close allies in the National Republican Alliance, or ARENA, party, which rose to power after the civil war ended in 1992.

    Miguel Angel Aquino is bishop of the city of San Miguel.

    BISHOP MIGUEL MORAN AQUINO, Roman Catholic Bishop of San Miguel (through interpreter): We cannot accept any law that goes against life. It is not a question of faith and religion, but of humanity.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Many doctors say the law has put them in a very difficult position. Obstetrician Jorge Cruz says they cannot intervene to preserve a woman's health even if a pregnancy has no chance of coming to term.

    JORGE CRUZ, obstetrician-gynecologist (through interpreter): The law does not permit us to terminate pregnancies that are unviable, such as ectopic pregnancies, as long as there is a fetal heartbeat. Often, there is a rupture and hemorrhage, and often women die from the shock.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: He and colleagues feel that many doctors, particularly junior ones, are being intimidated into betraying patient confidentiality, for fear that they could be prosecuted as accessories.

    JORGE CRUZ (through interpreter): In the public health system, patients coming in with an abortion, whether self-inflicted or septic, providers were told they had to report the patients for prosecution.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But medical legal officer Magana says the doctors' fears are exaggerated.

    JOSE FORTIN MAGANA (through interpreter): The statistics of the doctors in jail because of the crime of abortion is zero.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In truly dire circumstances, he says, doctors can save a woman's life. He points to the cast last summer of a 22-year-old woman whose situation drew international attention and whose conclusions seemed to skirts the law.

    Known only as Beatriz, she was suffering from the immune disease lupus syndrome kidney failure. She was pregnant with a severely deformed fetus that could not survive outside the womb. After deliberating for several weeks and at 26 weeks into the pregnancy, El Salvador's supreme court denied a petition for an abortion, a decision that drew widespread protests. The court upheld the recommendation of Fortin Magana's office.

    Just one week after the court decision, doctors were then allowed to perform a Caesarean section, a process that in, Fortin Magana's view, respected the infant's right to life.

    JOSE FORTIN MAGANA (through interpreter): The department of legal medicine said Beatriz wasn't at imminent risk, and we were right, because time went on and she continued with her pregnancy. The baby was delivered. He lived for eight hours, and then he died.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But the weeks-long ordeal harmed the mother's health and caused Beatriz needless suffering, say these obstetricians, including Mirna De Rivas.

    MIRNA DE RIVAS, obstetrician-gynecologist (through interpreter): One of the consequences of all of this is that consultations with women in these situations have gone way down, and that creates even more complicated cases.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For some women whose pregnancies fail, it's been difficult to prove that they have not been responsible for miscarrying. About nine years ago, Cristina Quintanilla, 18 at the time, was close to term when she says she suffered a miscarriage.

    CRISTINA QUINTANILLA, El Salvador (through interpreter): I sat on the toilet and I felt a strong pain. Next thing I know, I'm in the hospital.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Quintanilla's mother called the police, a common practice in emergencies here because ambulances are unreliable, a call she fears was construed as a complaint.

    CARMEN QUINTANILLA, mother (through interpreter): It was very depressing when I realized what I did. We were scared that she could die. The authorities misinterpreted it.

    CRISTINA QUINTANILLA (through interpreter): I was dizzy because of the anesthesia and blood loss, and I saw a man wearing blue asking for my name. He said, "You're under arrest for the murder of your child."

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Quintanilla was sentenced to 30 years for aggravated homicide, even though she says the autopsy was ruled inconclusive. Her sentence was eventually commuted to time served, four hellish years, she says.

    CRISTINA QUINTANILLA (through interpreter): I felt so terrible, because the prosecutor would keep pointing at me and saying, "She killed her baby, she killed her baby."

    If you go to prison for an abortion, they beat you up. And it's not just me. There are other women in there.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Including Glenda Cruz. Lawyer Munoz represented both women and hopes he can get a similar commutation for Cruz.

    DENNIS MUNOZ ESTANLEY (through interpreter): I don't believe she is capable of what they've accused her. She's not violent; she was raised with Christian morals.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: We tried without success to talk to the prosecutors in the Cruz case. Defense attorney Munoz Estanley has managed to free eight women jailed in abortion cases.

    DENNIS MUNOZ ESTANLEY (through interpreter): In most of these cases, these are poor women, women with not very much education. Sometimes, there are cases of women who are illiterate. It's important to remember that before 1998, therapeutic abortions and abortions of deformed fetuses or for rape were allowed, and now it's not the same political climate.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Bishop Aquino said the conservative climate is a backlash against feminist groups that have tried to impose liberal social legislation that is counter to the culture here. The Beatriz case was the latest such interference, he says.

    MIGUEL MORAN AQUINO (through interpreter): They want to promote therapeutic abortion. This would open the window to other kinds of abortions, then same-sex marriage and adopting children by homosexuals or lesbians.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Recent polls show most Salvadorians oppose abortion, but support some exceptions. However, with elections looming next year, political analysts say it's doubtful there will be any changes to the laws governing abortion any time soon.


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    GWEN IFILL: "Masterpiece" is a PBS crown jewel, and for 25 years and counting, Rebecca Eaton has been at its helm. Now she's written a book about bring British drama to the American screen.

    Jeffrey Brown has our conversation.

    It's the longest-running weekly prime-time drama series in the country and one of the most honored, with 57 Emmys and 17 Peabodys to its credit. Upstairs, Downstairs put Masterpiece Theater on the map in 1974. Other British dramas followed.

    ALISTAIR COOKE, host: Good evening. I'm Alistair Cooke.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Each program introduced by a host, with Alistair Cooke holding the position for 22 years.

    ACTOR: Refugee, Jewish, I think.

    ACTRESS: What's to become of him?

    ACTOR: What is to become of anybody?

    JEFFREY BROWN: The series helped launch the American careers of many now renowned British actors.

    ACTRESS: She was murdered, Michael. She was found in a prostitute's --- Now, I want you to look at this photograph.

    ACTOR: Presumably, they thought you were a waiter, sir.

    ACTOR: Now, look here, Jeeves.

    ACTOR: Excuse me, sir.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Several years ago, Masterpiece updated its look and moved into three parts, "Masterpiece Classic," "Mystery" and "Contemporary."

    ACTRESS: Killed in a stupid car crash.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And it's now, of course, home to Downton Abbey, the highest rated PBS drama of all time.

    Behind the scenes for the last 25 years, executive producer Rebecca Eaton, author of the new book "Making Masterpiece."

    And Rebecca Eaton joins us now.

    Welcome to you.

    REBECCA EATON, "Making Masterpiece": Thank you, Jeffrey.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, you start this book with a little anecdote about how you first said no thanks to a proposal about a new drama with a British aristocratic family.

    REBECCA EATON: Yes. Yes. Yes.


    REBECCA EATON: Big country house, people downstairs, people upstairs. They lived in Downton Abbey, a place called Downton Abbey. Yes, I did say no.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. You said no, but somehow the rest is history, yes?


    I was very lucky. Some television angel must have been sitting on my shoulder, because it made the rounds of other American television executives and they too said no. I didn't say no because I didn't like it; we just had too much that year.

    And then I heard that Maggie Smith had been cast. And Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Lady Cora, said, it's very good. And so I picked up the phone, and thank God it was still available.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But this angel question sort of goes to -- and I will steal one of the titles of your chapters, which is, what does an executive producer do all day anyway?


    JEFFREY BROWN: How do you -- in making "Masterpiece," how do you define your role?

    REBECCA EATON: Well, I'm the person who tries not to choose the bad British programs.




    JEFFREY BROWN: Wait a minute. That was almost a double negative. But you are trying to avoid the bad ones.

    REBECCA EATON: Yes, I save the American public.

    No, these programs are made in England. They are made by, I think, some of the best drama producers and writers and directors and actors in the world, and we are their American partners. So my job is to read the scripts, take the pitches, and try to choose the ones I think will work best for Masterpiece, and best on the air. And, sometimes, I get it right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, and the mysterious process of getting it right or wrong, is it...

    REBECCA EATON: It is mysterious.

    JEFFREY BROWN: ... "I know it when I see it" kind of thing or...

    REBECCA EATON: It is quite subjective, I have to say, kind of "seat of the pants" programming.

    A little bit of experience goes a long way. And I have been doing it now for 26 or 27 years, and we watch the ratings. We know what the audience likes. So there aren't focus groups. It is -- we have a very small shop. But we get to know the players and what works.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I don't know if I should start with what works, or I always want to hear like what doesn't.

    REBECCA EATON: What doesn't work?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Tell us your worst mistake.

    REBECCA EATON: I don't want to talk about that.


    REBECCA EATON: There have been a few.

    I'm a sucker for actors, for good actors. And sometimes I can convince myself that a not-very-good script or not-very-good story is going to be great because somebody is in it. We actually did have Colin Firth, he of Pride and Prejudice, in something called Nostromo by Joseph Conrad. It was a good book, I guess, but it just sat there as a drama.

    So, that's one of the ones I think not many people watched.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You mentioned Colin Firth. It's kind of funny because you have said that people get confused. I was thinking of Pride and Prejudice, where -- his great vehicle, right, for an American public.

    REBECCA EATON: Yes, his vehicle. yes, Jane Austen...


    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Jane Austen wrote it for Colin Firth, right?

    REBECCA EATON: Her vehicle, yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That's right.

    But people come up to you and say that was incredible, but that was not a Masterpiece program.

    REBECCA EATON: Yes. It was not.

    It was on another network, but I say thank you.


    JEFFREY BROWN: But that goes to you sort of creating this -- or "Masterpiece" creating a genre for an American audience.

    REBECCA EATON: Yes. Yes.

    I think it was born, Masterpiece was born in 1971. PBS was only a couple years old. And as I say in the book, you know, "Forsyte Saga" had just aired, the first Forsyte Saga. And suddenly there was an appetite for British drama. And there were shelves of already produced programs in England.

    And so the people at WGBH in Boston and at Mobil Oil realized that this was a huge opportunity. There was only Julia Child on public television then and some lectures, so they started buying the already produced programs, and the audience completely turned up. So, now we have to just keep feeding.

    JEFFREY BROWN: When it comes to a Downton Abbey, why does it -- why is it such a hit?

    REBECCA EATON: Man, if I knew that, I would certainly not tell you, for one thing.


    REBECCA EATON: And Julian Fellowes, who created Downton, is asked that all the time, and he doesn't know.

    I tell the story in the book that when he was a little boy, his mother used to turn the kitchen over to him every now and then. And one time she turned the kitchen over to him, and he made the most fantastic chocolate eclairs. And he gave them to her, and she said, Julian, did you do it? Can you do it again?

    And he never could it again. So it's little bit of magic, television lightning striking once. He was ready to do it. I think he was to the manner born, Julian himself. I think he understood these characters. He knew what they would be because he had them in his own family tree.

    And I think -- my -- my theory about it is that it's a perfect television precinct drama, but there's a certain goodness of intent to all of these characterize. And I think that has been missing in television, British and American.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, you know what? We are going to talk more about "Downton Abbey" and other things. We will do that online.

    And, for now, the book is "Making Masterpiece."

    Rebecca Eaton, thanks so much.

    REBECCA EATON: Thanks, Jeff.


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    SHAWN GROFF: It’s about 260 square feet… and everything is really compact, it’s gotta be multifunctional…

    MONA ISKANDER: Shawn Groff is a 26-year-old employee at Whole Foods, who lives in a building that consists solely of what are known as micro-apartments.

    SHAWN GROFF:  We’re standing in every room, we’re standing in my kitchen, living room, dining room and my bathroom is just around the corner.

    The table comes up….

    MONA ISKANDER: His dining room table is also… his bed. For about $950 a month, he learns to make do with his 260 square foot space.

    SHAWN GROFF: If I have company and I need another chair, I can use my coffee table again and maybe even pat it down and they can enjoy as well.

    SHAWN GROFF: This is a solution for people like myself, perhaps in the stage of my life where I don’t have that many things and don’t need that much space. I’m not really home that often. You ask yourself what you really need and if you’re honest about that, a lot of things become unnecessary.

    MONA ISKANDER: He happens to live in Vancouver, Canada, one of the first North American cities to embrace the tiny living concept. But the idea is catching on in a number of cities in the United States as well... like Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Providence and Cleveland… they’ve all been pursuing projects to develop this new model. It’s an idea may be new to North America but countries like Japan have for years looked to micro apartments as a solution to high urban density. 

    SARAH WATSON:  There's very little -- housing restrictions in Tokyo.  So, the housing really does correspond with the population need. 

    MONA ISKANDER: Sarah Watson is the deputy director of a non-profit research group in New York: the Citizens Housing and Planning Council. For the last five years, the organization has been studying new concepts in housing. Watson says the number of people living by themselves in the United States has increased dramatically --- In the '40s and '50s it was less than 10 percent. Today, that population is closer to 30 percent. …people are getting married later, getting divorced at higher rates than they once did and are living longer. And Watson says the supply of housing for single people hasn’t kept up with this changing demographic.

    SARAH WATSON: If the population changes but there's not housing supply to follow, what happens is people start going underground and living informally. And that's why you see this huge growth in the Craigslist market, people trying to make room in housing stock that's not designed for it.

    MONA ISKANDER:  And the problem is only going to get worse. For instance, New York’s population is expected to rise by approximately 600,000 people by the year 2030. That’s about an 8 percent increase.

    SARAH WATSON:  We can’t just keep building taller buildings. So, there has to be some new ways to accommodate these people within it.

    So this whole space is 325 square feet…

    MONA ISKANDER:  So her organization lobbied to convince Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration to consider new types of housing in New York, including micro-apartments, like this one on display at a recent exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York.

    MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: This is for big cities—particularly cities that attract young people—going to be a very big problem coming down the road, and this is the first step that we’re taking to try to find a solution.

    MONA ISKANDER: In a city where space is at a premium, Mayor Bloomberg launched a pilot project to be developed on city-owned land on Manhattan’s east side. Each of the 55 prefab units will be housed in a single building. And each will be less than 400-square-feet. In order to do that, Mayor Bloomberg said he would waive zoning regulations put in place in the 1980s to protect against overcrowding. Construction is set to begin this December or January. 

    MONA ISKANDER: So, it's basically an experiment.

    SARAH WATSON: Right. It's an experiment. And the city's using it to -- to properly test what happens if you just relieve a few elements, a few controls, really to see what-- the options could be. 

    MONA ISKANDER: New York’s micro-unit building will require that 40 percent of the units are rented at an “affordable” rate. This being New York, the word “affordable” is relative. The rent for those tiny subsidized apartments will be between $940 and $1,800 a month. That’s actually quite low for the neighborhood.

    JOHN INFRANCA: This for many cities this is actually a selling point.

    MONA ISKANDER: John Infranca is a law professor at Suffolk University in Boston who studies affordable housing and land use policy.

    JOHN INFRANCA: I think it's good for cities in terms of being able to retain-- young professionals, recent college graduates who might otherwise be priced out of the city. You know, that'll add a certain, you know, dynamism to the city. Boston, for instance, is really pushing that front, that they want to retain their recent graduates who otherwise can't afford to live there. And -- and those graduates are gonna be important for the city's -- broader economy to grow.

    MONA ISKANDER: But there has been backlash. In Seattle, community groups have voiced concerns that these units crowd too many people together and that they make neighborhoods less stable as young people come and go. In Vancouver, critics worry that micro-apartments will replace housing for the poor. For example, the apartment building where Shawn Groff lives, used to be a single room occupancy building. Locals complained its residents were being forced onto the street.

    MONA ISKANDER: I mean, critics say that these are really geared towards young -- high-income people who are moving to the city for the first time.  It's not really addressing the needs of -- lower-middle-income, workers who also need the housing--

    SARAH WATSON: A lot of these pilots that are happening in cities are definitely on the higher end -- because they're happening in high value areas, but-- but we believe if you could really think through the design concepts of these small spaces and situate them in other locations, you know, you can -- you're really changing the price point for that. And you can target different populations.

    SARAH WATSON: We have a small one drawer dishwasher…

    MONA ISKANDER: And Watson believes micro-units make sense for the way many people live today.

    SARAH WATSON: There's a reason why this is catching on in the country because, you know, you can live quite comfortably now with your music collection and your-- you know, your books all on -- a very tiny laptop. I mean, it's actually transformed our need for space in the last five years, technology. So, you couple that with new transformable furniture and you can really maximize a small space in a positive way. 

    Credits: Renderings of New York micro-apartments courtesy of nARCHITECTS.


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    As Russia gears up to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, it has also ramped up anti-gay laws, generating international protest.

    WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama named openly gay athletes to the delegation that will represent the U.S. next year at opening and closing ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, sending a clear signal to Russia about its treatment of gays and lesbians.

    Tennis champion Billie Jean King will join the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremony, while Caitlin Cahow, a women's ice hockey player and Olympic medalist, will represent the U.S. at the closing ceremony. Both athletes have identified publicly as part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

    White House spokesman Shin Inouye said that the delegation "represents the diversity that is the United States" and that Obama was proud to cheer America's athletes on at the 2014 Olympic Games.

    "He knows they will showcase to the world the best of America -- diversity, determination and teamwork," Inouye said.

    The decision follows a public campaign by gay rights groups to urge the White House to include gays, lesbians and their supporters in the delegation in hopes of drawing attention to Russia's national laws banning "gay propaganda." Those laws and the broader issue of discrimination against the LGBT community in Russia have become a flash point as the world looks to next year's Olympic Games in Sochi.

    The Human Rights Campaign, one of the groups that wrote the White House last month asking Obama to include gays and lesbians in the delegation, applauded the unveiling of the delegation Tuesday.

    "It's a positive sign to see openly gay representatives in the delegation," said spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz. "Hopefully it sends a message to the Russian people and the rest of the world that the United States values the civil and human rights of LGBT people."

    On other fronts, the 2014 delegation appears to be a step back from previous years, when the U.S. sent top-level administration officials to represent the U.S. at the Olympic ceremonies. First lady Michelle Obama led the delegation to the London Games in 2012, while Vice President Joe Biden headed the effort in 2010 in Vancouver.

    Obama's schedule will not permit him to attend the games in Sochi in February, the White House said.

    In Sochi, former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will lead the delegation to the opening ceremony. A former Arizona governor, Napolitano left the Obama administration earlier this year to take over as president of the University of California system. U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, figure skater Brian Boitano and presidential adviser Rob Nabors will round out the delegation.

    At the closing ceremony, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns will lead the delegation, joined by McFaul, Cahow and speed skaters Bonnie Blair and Eric Heiden. Cahow, Blair, Heiden and Boitano are Olympic medal-winners, while King has coached U.S. Olympic teams.

    Read more:

    Russia breaks its 'Zero Waste' commitment for Sochi games

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    Photo By Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images

    A man smokes marijuana on the west steps of the State Capitol in support of a medical marijuana rally. Photo By Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images

    Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana late last year. Washington followed suit a month later. Medical marijuana is now legal in 20 states while recreational marijuana is decriminalized in 17 states.

    The drug's status has not only evolved legally, but socially as well. A recent report from the National Institutes of Health finds that 60 percent of 12th grade students say marijuana is not harmful and 6.5 percent use marijuana regularly, up from the 56 percent who found it harmless last year and 6 percent who used it regularly. But the pronounced shift is in comparison to 1993, when 30 percent viewed it as harmless and only 2.5 percent of students used regularly.

    Dr. Wilson Compton, the deputy director at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says there are a number of ongoing investigations into whether marijuana laws have shifted public perception, or vice versa.

    "As we have changing policy and legal environment, there's this perception that (marijuana) is safe or a harmless substance, which is not true," said Compton, "But as community and society change their attitude, they may be more willing to approve these policy changes."

    An October Gallup poll showed support for marijuana legalization is now at a majority 58 percent, a five fold increase from when Gallup first posed the question in 1969, when legalization support stood at 12 percent.

    Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, attributes the seismic shift in public opinion to the advent of the internet, which allowed people to anonymously access a wide range of scientific information on marijuana.

    "When the public had the ability to learn for themselves about it," says Armentano. "The support for change in policy began to change."

    But with more than 12 percent of eighth graders reporting they've used marijuana in the past year, Compton says NIDA is concerned about the rate of marijuana use among young adolescents. A recent Northwestern Medicine study found teens who use marijuana daily for an extended amount of time have abnormal brain structures and perform poorly on memory tests. The study also found that individuals who begin using marijuana at a younger age had more abnormally shaped brains, possibly indicating a link.

    "We're concerned about use by anyone, but particularly by very young people. They're in a crucial development stage," says Compton. "The impact of the substance may be particularly significant for the adolescent brain."

    David Sheff, the author of "Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy", says the public education on marijuana has been misleading, and subsequently, lost its credibility with students.

    "There was an effort to paint broadstroke that all drugs are bad, that you'll steal from your family, end up in jail and die," said Sheff. "But that message was discredited by what kids saw. Kids saw kids smoking pot and doing ok."

    The spotlight on marijuana hasn't produced a comprehensive and nuanced public discourse on the safety of the drug, says Compton. Marijuana is not necessary just safe or not safe, harmful or harmless.

    "It could be possible that marijuana could be helpful, but also harmful in other dosages and situations," says Compton. "We see that with many medications, we see it with stimulants, in the right hands all medication can be helpful and important, but it can also cause harm in other situations."

    The merits of a nuanced public discourse and well-crafted educational campaign are highlighted in the survey findings of declining use of tobacco and alcohol. Cigarette smoking among 8th, 10th and 12th graders sampled are at an unprecedented 9.6 percent, compared with the 24.7 percent recorded in 1993 and 16.7 percent in 2003. Alcohol use for seniors stands at 39.2 percent, down from the 52.7 percent in 1997.

    "Certainly in the area of tobacco, there's been changes in youth attitude toward social disapproval," says Compton.

    Sheff argues schools and communities need to target marijuana use the same way they targeted cigarette and alcohol use. He cites the success of the truth campaign, which targeted cigarettes ads for manipulating kids into thinking smoking was cool. And the nuanced national discussion around safe alcohol use, leading to wider social awareness of how much an individual drinks and when it's safe to drink.

    Armentano says educators and policymakers ought to focus on why alcohol and tobacco use has declined among teens and apply that lesson to marijuana.

    "We have a blueprint on how to drive down access," Armentano says. He says that we talk about use and abuse with a legal substance like alcohol, but make no distinction between casual and frequent marijuana use because of its illegal status. He cites important distinctions such as "social drinking and binge drinking, consuming alcohol and alcoholic, having a beer at dinner and one for the road,"

    "The classification doesn't allow us to have those conversations of when use is potentially abused," Armentano says.

    The survey also found that 34 percent of marijuana-using 12th graders living in states where medical marijuana is legal obtain through someone else's medical prescription, and 6 percent of them obtained it with their own prescription.

    Compton says NIDA is unprepared to make conclusions. In the report, the researchers note: "the team of investigators who conduct the survey will continue to explore the link between state laws and marijuana accessibility to teens."

    Compton says the results of the 2013 Monitoring the Future Survey, which samples 8th grade, 10th grade and 12th grade students, impels the NIH and NIDA to do further research on the effects of marijuana on the adolescent brain.

    But Sheff says it's important to understand why kids are using marijuana, now just how.

    "There's more stress, more anxiety, more alienation," Sheff says, "We have the race to succeed, and other kids are growing up in bleak environments."

    Read more:

    Survey: Fewer teens using 'fake pot' and other synthetic drugs

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    Quantitative easing -- keeping interest rates low -- has increased the flow of capital to foreign markets, notes former Fed economist Catherine Mann.

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    Fewer that 1 percent of teens are using the synthetic drug known as "bath salts," according to a report released Wednesday by the National Institutes of Health. Photo by NewsHour

    WASHINGTON -- Fewer teens are trying fake marijuana known by such names as K2 and Spice, apparently getting the message that these cheap new drugs are highly dangerous, according to the government's annual survey on drug use.

    Synthetic marijuana is thought to have appeared in the U.S. in 2009, and soon after came a spike in emergency room visits, even deaths, as the drug caught on among young people.

    About 8 percent of high school seniors said they've used some type of synthetic marijuana this year, according to the report released Wednesday by the National Institutes of Health. That's a sharp drop from the 11 percent of seniors who'd experimented with fake pot in 2012.

    Use of synthetic drugs among younger teens dropped as well -- and fewer than 1 percent of students also are trying another new kind of illegal drug known as bath salts, said University of Michigan professor Lloyd Johnston, who heads the annual Monitoring the Future survey of more than 40,000 students in the 8th, 10th and 12th grades.

    "The message has gotten out that these are dangerous drugs," Johnston said. "Their ever-changing ingredients can be unusually powerful. Users really don't know what they are getting."

    Synthetic marijuana is made of dried plant material sprayed with various chemicals and packaged to look like pot. The Drug Enforcement Administration banned a number of chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana in 2011, but new chemical varieties continue to appear. Earlier this year, federal health officials discovered that two new types of fake pot had sickened more than 200 people in a month in Colorado.

    The annual survey also found that teenage perceptions of the dangers of marijuana use continued to decline. In 1993, more than 60 percent of high school seniors considered marijuana dangerous, while this year less than 40 percent thought that.

    The rate of use stayed steady, with 6.5 percent of high school seniors saying they regularly used marijuana in the past year.

    The survey results were being released just weeks before recreational marijuana sales become legal in Colorado and Washington state for people over 21. Opponents of legalized marijuana long have said they worried about its impact on children.

    Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said researchers worry that as perceptions of marijuana as a dangerous drug continue to decline use will keep increasing among teenagers.

    Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project which advocates for regulating marijuana, said steady rates of marijuana use among teenagers "underscores the benefits of regulation versus prohibition."

    Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but the Justice Department in August pledged not to target the marijuana industry in states where the drug has been legalized as long as the states keep pot away from children, other states, criminal cartels and federal property. While only two states have legalized the production, sale and use of recreational marijuana, 18 others and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana.

    Associated Press reporters Alicia A. Caldwell and Lauran Neergaard wrote this report. Follow Caldwell on Twitter at @acaldwellap.

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    Photo by Flickr user dave.dave.dave

    Going away for the holidays and leaving your dog with a pet sitter? You may want to leave some selfies with your four-legged friend.

    A new study shows that dogs recognize familiar faces in images. Before you get too excited about your smart canine, though, the study also found that dogs paid more attention to images of other dogs, regardless of the familiarity.

    A team of researchers at the University of Helsinki conducted the study. They measured dogs' eye movements when the dogs were exposed to facial images of familiar humans and dogs, compared to their responses to facial images from dogs and humans the canines had never met. The dogs spent more time looking at familiar faces than strange ones, but did look at images of other dogs longer than images of humans, regardless of their familiarity with the faces in the images.

    According to the researchers, the results suggest that dogs' facial recognition skills may be similar to humans.

    One more reason to FaceTime with your dog if you really miss them, because they really do love you.

    H/T Bridget Shirvell

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    Photo by Karen Bryan/Flickr

    Plastic money. That isn't just an economic term. Soon it will be fact for British pound users.

    The Bank of England announced Wednesday that come 2016, they will trade paper banknotes for plastic. The decision comes after a three year research project by the Bank to gauge public reaction to the potential switchover.

    The notes will be made out of polymer: a thin, plastic film; making the currency more durable, stay cleaner and have added security features.

    Because they would last longer, the Bank of England says the notes would be more environmentally friendly and cheaper to produce than paper, over time.

    The first polymer banknote to receive a facelift would be the 5 pound note and would feature former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. The Bank plans to feature Jane Austen on the subsequent release.

    Victoria Cleland, head of the Notes Division at the Bank of England provides more details about polymer banknotes. Video by YouTube channel bankofenglanduk

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    Screengrab of HealthCare.gov

    WASHINGTON -- Consumers worried that tight deadlines around the holidays and lingering computer problems could thwart their efforts to secure coverage under President Barack Obama's health overhaul will get extra time to pay, the health insurance industry said Wednesday.

    The board of the industry's biggest trade group - America's Health Insurance Plans - said consumers who select a plan by Dec. 23 will now have until Jan. 10 to pay their first month's premium, instead of a previous New Year's Eve deadline set by the government.

    For coverage to take effect, consumers must make sure they pay their initial premium on time.

    Karen Ignagni, the group's CEO, said the voluntary decision was taken "to give consumers greater peace of mind about their health care coverage." AHIP represents more than 90 percent of health insurance companies, including the major national carriers and nearly all of the BlueCross BlueShield plans.

    Wednesday's announcement does more than grant extra time.

    It also reduces the risk that consumers switching plans could suffer an interruption in coverage because of technology woes still afflicting HealthCare.gov, the federal online sign-up system, as well as some state-run websites.

    That's particularly important for at least 4 million people whose existing individual plans were canceled because they did not meet standards under Obama's law. Disruptions in coverage for those consumers could trigger another round of political problems for the president and beleaguered Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

    Back in 2009, Obama had promised that people who liked their insurance would be able to keep it under his health overhaul plan. But that guarantee was shredded by the wave of cancellation notices, which crested right around the same time that HealthCare.gov was refusing to function for millions of potential customers. Obama's poll ratings took a nosedive.

    Under the industry announcement, consumers still must select a plan by Dec. 23 -- next Monday.

    But instead of having to pay their first month's premium by New Year's Eve, they now have until Jan. 10. That would let them have coverage retroactive to Jan. 1. Patients who get a pharmacy or medical bill during that period can later submit it to the insurance company for payment.

    Insurers have complained that a significant number of the enrollments they have gotten from HealthCare.gov have problems that could prevent a consumer from getting covered on Jan. 1. That includes missing or incomplete information, duplicative entries and garble. The administration says its technical experts are aggressively tackling the problems, and that errors have been cut dramatically. But insurers say useless or corrupted files are still getting through. Government and industry are working together to clean up the records.

    Without the extra time granted Wednesday, a consumer who paid in early January would have had to wait until Feb. 1 for coverage.

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    The White House says it's releasing a task force report that recommends changes on how the National Security Agency collects intelligence data.

    White House spokesman Jay Carney says the recommendations will be made public Wednesday, ahead of the schedule the White House had initially set.

    Obama met with members of the group, called the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, on Wednesday morning. Carney says the report was being released Wednesday because its contents were being mischaracterized in the news accounts.

    Wednesday's meeting with the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology comes in the wake of a federal judge's ruling that NSA collection of phone records was likely unconstitutional.

    Moreover, the meeting comes a day after Obama met with technology CEOs who have demanded restrictions on information the U.S. collects through their systems.

    The review group worked under the Director of National Intelligence to examine NSA spying following revelations from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

    The White House is reviewing the recommendations and preparing its own study. White House officials had previously said Obama would announce any changes to the government's intelligence gathering sometime in January.

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    How does the Fed reach policy decisions? Paul Solman simulated a meeting of the Fed's Open Market Committee to find out.

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    At its best, Twitter connects people and ideas that are miles, states, even worlds apart. In 2013, people sent an an average of 500 million tweets per day. From that list of billions, here's a look at some of our favorite Twitter moments of inspiration, amusement and wonder:

    A down-to-Earth look that's out of this world Astronaut Chris Hadfield became a Twitter sensation in 2013. For five months aboard the International Space Station, the Canadian commander tweeted from space. Beaming down visions of Earth, he ended each night with a finale beyond the world of ordinary, including this shot of the sun peeking through the horizon.

    Spaceflight finale: To some this may look like a sunset. But it's a new dawn. pic.twitter.com/iVgyUihqEN

    — Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) May 13, 2013

    Strength in numbers In April, the five-day search for Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev captured the attention of the country. News organizations ran the story day and night on-air and on social media, for better and for worse. Though details of the Tsarnaev brothers flooded Twitter, it was #BostonStrong that rose to the top, reminding us all that tragedy does not equal defeat.

    Boston you're OUR home #BostonStronghttp://t.co/ghdzLRpE9c

    — Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) April 16, 2013

    Sit back, and enjoy the show Sometimes, the biggest moment during a television special isn't one that's observed on television. Sometimes, it exists on the so-called "second screen," where a show-related remark on Twitter becomes a talked about sensation. One of the biggest examples of a show-stealing tweet in 2013? Oreo's brilliant response within minutes of the Super Bowl surprise blackout.

    Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC

    — Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013

    Batkid to the rescue In mid-November, a five-year-old Batkid took San Francisco and the Internet by storm. When Make-a-Wish Foundation vouched to make Miles Scott's dream to be Batman a reality, a San Francisco-turned-Gotham City played its part too. And the rest of the country? They got to join in on Twitter. They too reveled in the pint-sized Batkid's heroic efforts, and believed -- at least for the day -- in superheroes.

    Here he comes!!!! #SFBatkidpic.twitter.com/PhF85F4Mw3

    — Make-A-Wish Bay Area (@SFWish) November 15, 2013

    A message from the White House In the year since President Barack Obama's reelection, the White House social media team has continued to ensure that the president's presence on Twitter remains active and connected to people beyond the realm of politics. Perhaps there was no better tweet that captured that approachability, than Bo-meets-Mean Girls.

    Bo, stop trying to make fetch happen. pic.twitter.com/Ez6hWGFpFc

    — The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 13, 2013

    Living in the moment One of the greatest examples of Twitter's ability to connect the world on the most human of levels occurred in late July when NPR Weekend Edition host Scott Simon tweeted from his mother's bedside as she took her last breaths of life. For five days in the moments before, during and after her passing, he shared her insight with the world beyond that hospital room.

    I think she wants me to pass along a couple of pieces of advice, ASAP. One: reach out to someone who seems lonely today.

    — Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 28, 2013

    What did you think were some of the most powerful moments on Twitter in 2013? Tell us below.

    And think you're a twitter politico? Take our quiz and see if you can identify these top political tweets of 2013.

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    Gandalf the Grey, played by Ian McKellen, travels J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth in the film "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." It turns out Tolkien was quite the climatologist when it came to modeling his mythical land. Photo by Mark Pokorny

    It doesn't take magic to make the climate on J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth. It takes physics and a lot of computing power.

    Fans of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy praise the fantasy series -- which also include "The Hobbit" and "The Silmarillion" -- for its detail. Tolkien's son posthumously published his father's laborious creations that describe the entire universe of Ea, and the lands beyond Middle Earth. The books contain detailed maps and descriptions of the land's geography, from the Grey Mountains to the Shire. Even the weather along the hobbits' journey is painted in meticulous detail based on Tolkien's own travels around the world, as this 2002 article from the journal Weather points out.

    Climatologist Dan Lunt at the University of Bristol in England has been a Tolkien fan since his childhood. He created a climate model of Middle Earth using the university's supercomputer. Lunt published his findings on the university's website as a tongue-in-cheek scientific study by Radagast the Brown, the forest-dwelling wizard of the fantasy series. Lunt likens him to the "environmental scientist" of Middle Earth. And according to Lunt, the climate described in the fantasy series holds up to science.

    Courtesy of Dan Lunt/University of Bristol

    Overall, Middle Earth's climate was much like western Europe and northern Africa. The model showed that in northern Middle Earth, the wind comes from from the east, allowing the elves to set sail from Grey Havens to reach the Undying Lands in the west at the end of "Return of the King," the third in "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. And the Misty Mountains creates a rain-shadow, keeping the lands to the east dry and dropping more rain and snow on lands to the west. Those rain patterns leave warm deserts covered with small shrubs over Mordor in the south, comparable to West Texas, Los Angeles, California or Alice Springs in Australia. The Shire, home to the series' hobbits -- the diminutive characters that inhabit Middle Earth -- has an annual average temperature of 44 F, and 24 inches of rain each year, making it very similar to Belarus, Leicestershire, England, or north of Dunedin on New Zealand's South Island.

    Running climate simulations for Middle Earth shows the wind patterns that let the elves set sail from Grey Haven to the Undying Lands in the West. Courtesy Dan Lunt/University of Bristol.

    The climate model also maps the vegetation of the rest of the world. While it can't account for deforestation by dwarves, dragons or the "wanton destruction by orcs," most of Middle Earth is covered with forests, says Radagast in the paper, remarking: "This is consistent with reports I have heard from Elrond that squirrels could once travel from the region of the Shire all the way to Isengard."

    The paper, which is also published in the Tolkien-invented languages of Elvish and Dwarvish, was just a fun exercise in his free time, Lunt said, but it has a serious point to make.

    "These are the same models we use to predict our future and the climate on lands we've never been to, whether it's our future (Earth), Mars, Venus or Middle Earth," he said. "These models are complex and they are based on such fundamental science that they can model anything."

    Map of Wilderland from Tolkien's "The Hobbit" give geographical details to the fictitious country. © 2012 by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

    This exercise shows climate modeling isn't magic; it's physics, said Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Supercomputers run millions of lines of code, processing fluid dynamics calculations to determine how air and water will move over our spherical planet. These formulas explain the formation of clouds, wind, rain, snow, hot summers, cold snaps and droughts. Over the past 30 years, faster computers brought these calculations into finer detail, modeling the Earth's present, past and future climates in 100 square kilometer blocks, Schmidt said.

    It's a matter of plugging specific data and boundaries into the complex formulas, Lunt said. What does the surface of the planet look like? How tall are the mountains? What is the atmosphere made of? Lunt fed the descriptions of Middle Earth's geography into the supercomputer and ran the simulation for about 5 days, generating 70 years worth of climate data. Everything in model starts in stasis -- there's no wind, no clouds, no plants, and the oceans are still. As the calculations continue, waves form on the oceans, storms and hurricanes form and fade, vegetation grows and pictures of the climate on Middle Earth take shape.

    But relying on those models' predictions takes proof that they're right. That's why scientists model the Earth's past climate in the same way Lunt modeled Middle Earth, feeding the supercomputers data based on the Earth's past geography. Then they measure the model's outcome against evidence from ice core data, tree rings and other paleolithic records.

    "We try to predict things that have already happened; that's why you go back to the past and you poke and you prod and see if it reacts the same way the real world did. Does it respond to greenhouse gases the way we think it did over the last 50 million years? Does it change to the climate in the same way?" Schmidt said.

    Manipulating a model not only shows scientists how the climate changed in the past, it builds their confidence in the model's ability to predict future climates.

    "We can look at things happening now and in the past and in the future and look at things that are more fanciful and get a sense of how that whole system reacts when it changes," Schmidt said. "It turns out Tolkien wasn't such a terrible climatologist."

    (Although, Tolkien didn't account for how dragons breathing fire would have affected his world's atmosphere, which could have led to a real "Smaug situation," he joked, referring to the mythical creatures.)

    Climate models are pretty robust, but they aren't the same as a weather forecast, Lunt said. Chaos theory means a small change can have a large impact down the line. In other words, a butterfly flapping its wings in the Shire may cause a hurricane in Mordor, he said.

    And they aren't perfect. The more scientists learn, the more they can add to the equations and make the future projections more accurate, Schmidt said. For example, ten years ago climate projections did not predict that Arctic sea ice would melt as rapidly as it has today, he said. Scientists recently reran the calculations with modern supercomputers; still the models didn't quite match reality.

    As a result, scientists are asking what other factors need to be included in climate models to make those predictions better. Now scientists are learning how drifting dust and soot in the atmosphere, like the smog from growing cities like Beijing, moves and affects the climate around the world, Schmidt said. With each change to the Earth's atmosphere and geography, climate scientists return to the models to add information with the hopes of making their predictions more accurate.

    Lunt said he has had lots of requests from science fiction authors to model their dream planets, but no plans to do another fantasy climate model. But he's been touched by the number of teachers who have already used this as an example in their classrooms. By learning about modelling Middle Earth's climate, he hopes people will better understand how climate modelling works.

    "In some way, it lends confidence to future projections, where we can predict a different world than the one we're living in today."

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    GWEN IFILL: The Federal Reserve is ready to begin winding down its economic stimulus. Chairman Ben Bernanke announced today the Central Bank will start reducing the bond-buying program next month. He said the economy has strengthened enough to make it possible. We will hear some of what Bernanke said, and dig into what it means, right after the news summary.

    The Fed's finding of economic progress sent Wall Street soaring. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 292 points to close near 16,168, a new record. The Nasdaq rose 46 points to close at 4,070.

    The Senate gave final approval today to a two-year budget agreement 64-36. It erases $63 billion in automatic spending cuts, and replaces them with targeted cuts and additional revenues. Nine Republicans joined 55 Democrats and independents in voting aye, after supporters and opponents jousted over the measure.

    SEN. ANGUS KING, I-Maine: I think one of the problems we have around here often is that we don't know how to declare victory. We don't celebrate our successes. I'm not prepared to declare victory in the fight for fiscal responsibility, but I am prepared to declare progress.

    SEN. TOM COBURN, R-Okla.:  We have before us a bill today that is a purported compromise. But I want to describe who it's a compromise for. It's a compromise for the politicians. It's not a compromise for the American people, because what it really does is increase spending and increase taxes.

    GWEN IFILL: The budget bill now goes to President Obama for his signature.

    An outside review board presented a raft of recommendations to the president on curbing the government surveillance programs. The proposals today target the National Security Agency's sweeping collection of phone and Internet data here and abroad. We will get the details later in the program.

    The prime minister of Ukraine insisted today that a Russian-financed bailout will ensure his country's economic stability. Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian bonds and slash the price of Russian gas. In Kiev overnight and today, anti-Russian demonstrators again accused the Ukrainian government of selling out. They have been camped out in Independence Square for weeks.

    Ethnic fighting is threatening to tear apart the world's newest country, South Sudan. Government officials in the African nation said today at least 500 people have been killed since Sunday.

    This report is narrated by Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: The foreigners are fleeing. Aid workers and diplomats gathered at Juba Airport this morning trying to get on flights to neighboring countries. Few South Sudanese have that option.

    The U.N. says that up to 20,000 people have sought protection in their two compounds in Juba, where they hope there will be safe. But, although fighting eased today, just running for shelter has at times been deadly.

    Government forces appear to have retained control after fighting broke out between two factions of the presidential guard on Sunday. The government calls this was a coup attempt, but it seems to be more a political and ethnic power struggle. President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, appeared on TV on Sunday and again today, offering to talk to his enemies, specifically the former Vice President Riek Machar, whom he sacked in July.

    Machar, an ethnic Nuer, denies that he has tried to overthrow his former boss. He has reportedly returned to his home area north of Juba.

    Today, the U.N. secretary-general spoke to the president.

    BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General: I also impressed on him the need to resume dialogue with the political opposition. I welcome the reports this morning that President Salva Kiir is willing to enter into such talks.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: On the streets of Juba and now in other towns, South Sudanese fear what will come next. Already, some Nuer say they're being targeted by Dinka soldiers loyal to the government.

    In 2011, South Sudan celebrated independence from the North after decades of war. Citizens wept in joy, but they could equally have shed tears of rage. Their leaders are dragging them back into conflict, condemning them to endless poverty and strife.

    GWEN IFILL: In Egypt, prosecutors brought new charges against ousted President Mohammed Morsi today. He's accused of plotting with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon to wage a campaign of violence after he was overthrown. Morsi is already on trial for allegedly inciting the murders of protesters last December.

    The U.N. and European Union aid agencies are calling for a humanitarian cease-fire in Syria. They said today they need to deliver critical supplies to people facing another harsh winter. Meanwhile, a government assault on the besieged city of Aleppo continued with a fourth day of airstrikes. Activists say more than 100 people have been killed in that time.

    A main figure in the Great Train Robbery 50 years ago died today in Britain. Ronnie Biggs was part of a gang that held up the Glasgow-to-London mail train in 1963. They got away with more than $50 million in today's currency. Biggs was caught, but escaped and spent 35 years at large. He returned to England in 2001 and won his release from prison in 2009. Ronnie Biggs was 84 years old.

    A Georgia woman will get half of last night's huge prize of $648 million in the Mega Millions lottery. Officials identified the woman today as Ira Curry of Stone Mountain. She bought her ticket at a tiny newsstand in Buckhead. The other winning ticket was sold at a gift shop in San Jose, Calif.. Ticket holders have 180 days left to claim the prize.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Federal Reserve has been warning for months that it would shift and reduce the size of its role in spurring the economy. But right up to this afternoon's announcement, many were still wondering when the Fed would dial back and how it would do so.

    Ben Bernanke came to his last scheduled news conference as Fed chairman as the Central Bank announced it will start scaling back its long-running stimulus program.

    BEN BERNANKE, Federal Reserve Chairman: Today's policy action reflects the committee's assessment that the economy continues to make progress, but that it also has much farther to travel until conditions can be judged normal.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Fed has been buying $85 billion in Treasury bonds every month to hold down interest rates and boost economic growth. Starting next month, that amount will be reduced by $10 billion a month.

    At the same time, a benchmark short-term interest rate will stay near zero. The Fed says that policy will hold well past the point when the unemployment rate falls below 6.5 percent. It's now at 7 percent.

    BEN BERNANKE: The job market has continued to improve, with the unemployment rate having declined further. At the same time, the recovery clearly rings far from complete, with unemployment still elevated and with both underemployment and long-term unemployment still major concerns.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: For Bernanke, the announcement is a climax to an eight-year tenure that's been marked by big moments in U.S. financial history.

    He took over as Fed chair from Alan Greenspan in 2006. Two years later, the housing bubble burst and foreclosures exploded. Mortgage-backed securities collapsed, taking down some big banks and sending shockwaves through the stock market.

    Bernanke's Fed responded with massive bond-buying, starting in 2008, known as quantitative easing. Now the challenge is to wean the economy from that support. But, Bernanke cautioned today, it all depends on how the economy does.

    BEN BERNANKE: If we are making progress in terms of inflation and continue job gains, then I imagine we will continue to do probably at each meeting a measured reduction. If the economy slows for some reason or we are disappointed in the outcomes, we could -- we could skip a meeting or two. On the other side, if things really pick up, then, of course, we could go a bit faster.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Bernanke's term ends on January 31. The Senate could confirm his successor, Janet Yellen, later this week.

    We examine today's moves and the larger impact of the Fed's stimulus program with three people who watch this all closely.

    Adam Posen worked on the Monetary Policy Committee from 2009 through 2012 for the Central Bank of England. He is now the president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. John Taylor is a former undersecretary of the treasury during the George W. Bush administration. He is a professor of economics at Stanford University. And David Wessel is an economics editor at The Wall Street Journal and the author of "In Fed We Trust."

    Welcome to you, all three.

    David Wessel, to you first.

    What would you add to the explanation of what the Fed did today exactly?

    DAVID WESSEL, The Wall Street Journal: Well, I think the Fed is beginning the end of what has been an extraordinary period of monetary policy.

    When Ben Bernanke became chairman, they had a portfolio of $800 billion. Today, it's $4 trillion. That is just unprecedented. But Mr. Bernanke made clear that they are going to keep interest rates very low for a long time. And that seems to be what the market is focused on, because the stock market was just jumping for joy at this announcement, not fearing that the dreaded tapering.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, David, why did they do it now?

    DAVID WESSEL: Well, Mr. Bernanke said that they did it now because the economy had reached the point where they thought it was time to start turning the dial. The labor market had improved substantially.

    He insisted it had nothing to do with the fact that he's leaving office in January. But it's very hard for me to believe that that wasn't at least a factor in their minds: It would be good to get this going before he handed the gavel to Janet Yellen, his likely successor.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Adam Posen, was this the right move?

    ADAM POSEN, Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics: It's a mild mistake.

    The cart is before the horse in what David just said. It wasn't an extraordinary period in monetary policy. It was an extraordinary period in the economy. And the monetary policy tried to react to that. We're coming to the end of that extraordinary period, so we're shifting a bit. Probably, the Fed is tapering a bit too soon, because there's no inflation in sight and the unemployment is still high. But it's not a huge deal one way or the other.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You think they should have kept their foot on the pedal?

    ADAM POSEN: I think they should have. I think there was very little risk and it would have been possible for them to dial it back later.

    But, as you and David acknowledged, there wasn't the kind of ripples through the markets we saw in May, when the Fed first talked about tapering. And I think it's not just they're used to it, but the news has been genuinely been good about the U.S. economy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: John Taylor, how do you read this? Was this the right move, in your mind?

    JOHN TAYLOR, Hoover Institution: Yes, I think it is.

    I think the quantitative easing has not been very effective. It's been -- interest rates are higher now than they were when quantitative easing three began. The purpose was to lower interest rates. So I think it's a good move to begin to get off of this. And hopefully the economy will actually be working a little better now. I don't think it's helped the economy.

    Your comment about the Fed's actions during the panic in September-October 2008, are well taken, but after that, I think the interventions they have had have not really helped the economy, unfortunately. And it's been a low recovery by any measure. And unemployment has only come down gradually and would be even much slower if so many people had not dropped out of the labor force.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Adam Posen, how do you respond to those comments?

    ADAM POSEN: I think -- I think John is missing the point.

    We have seen in other countries like Greece, like Spain, where they didn't ease monetary policy subject to the same shock, and things got much worse. When we say that the quantitative easing -- I believe quantitative easing made a huge difference. We had fiscal tightening at the state and local government level, and then at the federal level outside of 2009. We had European crisis. We had household saving extra amounts.

    And so we only recovered in large part because the Fed did this. We got ourselves back towards normal because of Q.E., not despite it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: John Taylor?

    JOHN TAYLOR: No, I think -- if you think about the purpose of the quantitative easing as stated was to lower long-term interest rates, and if -- again, look at QE3. It began just in December of last year, September of last year.

    And rates are higher now than they were then. So how you can say it helped? Low interest rates have not been the result. I would say, again, to distinguish between these actions taken in September-October 2008 and everything else since then. Those actions are were classic central banking. They were good. Ben Bernanke did a good job at that point.

    But, since then, I just think there's not evidence. And I think the market is going to do better basically when the Fed gets off of these extraordinary, unprecedented policies. David's right. There's nothing been like this -- nothing like this been done before in Federal Reserve history.

    And when these kinds of actions have not been taken, when they have been avoided, we have had much better recoveries. This is the worst recovery we have had...


    JUDY WOODRUFF: Adam Posen.

    ADAM POSEN: This is really disingenuous of John, because the idea that the economy is going to get better proves the Q.E. stopped working is backwards.

    The reason they are easing up on Q.E. is because the economy is improving. So, playing that game doesn't make any sense. More importantly, more importantly...

    JOHN TAYLOR: There's nothing disingenuous whatsoever with what I said.


    ADAM POSEN: ... it's not reasonable to focus on the tools, rather than the goals. What matters is the state of the economy, not what tools they use.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: John Taylor, you want to come back?

    And then I want to go to David Wessel.


    There is absolutely nothing disingenuous. You can just look at the data. You look at American history. You can see what works and what doesn't. This policy has not worked. I actually think that's why a lot of people want to get off of it. It's not so much that the economy looks better. It's this is an opportunity to get back to a more normal policy, like we had in the '80s and '90s, which worked very well.

    A lot of people had been skeptical about the Q.E. It's not just me. It's what we see when we look at the data.


    ADAM POSEN: Except all the bond markets keep buying U.S. bonds, and the economy is now responding. And look at all the housing market and labor data that Ben Bernanke cited. You're just ignoring the Fed.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me turn to David.

    David, give this debate that is still raging out there about what the Fed did, any more light you can shed on how they came to this decision?

    DAVID WESSEL: Well, I think that there was some doubt at the Fed among some people about whether it was really doing any good.

    I think, in response to John Taylor, they would say, the question isn't, are rates lower now than they were when they began QE3? The question is, what would rates have been had the Fed not had done this?

    But there are people on the Fed who thought this policy had outlived its usefulness, and it was causing more concern inside the Fed, which is why they decided to pull back, but, at the same time, to emphasize -- and I think it's really important -- that the short-term interest rates, their traditional tool, will remain low for a very long time, probably into 2015, if not 2016.

    And that's a pretty big deal. And it may give the economy some support as they -- as it begins to get to a more normal situation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, as we -- we know that Ben Bernanke is going to be around a little more than another month. So it's not the end of his term, but this -- we're nearing the end. And this is a moment when we can look, I think just briefly, Adam Posen, at his record.

    What has he accomplished or not? Has he accomplished what he set out to accomplish?

    ADAM POSEN: I think Chairman Bernanke did an incredible job.

    There were a couple errors, I think the mishandling of the taper announcement last May, certainly his role in the excessive deregulation, loose supervision of the early 2000s, but everything else was great. They reacted to the panic in 2008-2009. They got international agreement on loosening policy. He increased the transparency of the Fed.

    He creatively came up with new methods when they couldn't cut interest rates below zero. And he has responsibly talked to the American people. I think he has done great.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: John Taylor, how would you size up Ben Bernanke at this point?

    JOHN TAYLOR: Well, I think the actions taken during the panic in September-October 2008 were good, classic central banking, lender of last resort, providing liquidity. But if you look before and after that, I think you have to ask questions.

    After Ben Bernanke joined the Federal Reserve Board, they held interest rates quite low for a long time. I think that added to the housing boom, to the search for yield and the risk-taking. And then when the bust came as a result of this boom, the action was quite slow. They thought it was liquidity. They pumped liquidity in and didn't address the problem.

    The bailouts began with Bear Stearns, but then there was uncertainty about Lehman, caused a lot of problems in the markets. Then you go beyond the panic itself into 2009-'10 and to the present, and I think these very unprecedented policies were not what the economy needed. The Fed's growth rates were -- forecast were much higher than what actually happened with the policies.

    You can -- we can debate this for a long time, but I think the record in terms of unemployment, business cycle stability is not so good during this particular term.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: David Wessel, I'm going to let you wrap this up, describing how you think Bernanke has changed the Fed.

    DAVID WESSEL: Right.

    Well, I think he's changed the Fed fundamentally. We were used to having very autocratic Fed chairmen, Paul Volcker, Alan Greenspan. He brought much openness and democracy to the Fed. It's going to be a problem for his successor, Janet Yellen.

    And even after we get done with this bond buying, interest rates return to zero -- return to normal from zero, I think the Fed will be a more open place. Twenty years ago, the Fed didn't even announce when it made an interest rate decision. Today, the Federal Reserve chairman spent 67 minutes explaining what they did on live TV. That's a change that will not ever be put back into the bottle.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We are going to leave it there. We have got a little more time to look at his tenure. We appreciate all three of you being with us, David Wessel, John Taylor, Adam Posen.


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    GWEN IFILL: Now: striking the balance between liberty and security.

    An independent committee appointed by the president called today for new rules to government surveillance.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The 300-page report recommends scores of changes in how the National Security Agency gathers intelligence.

    It urges the massive amount of phone record data collected by the agency be stored by telephone companies themselves or a third party. It also proposes requiring a court to approve individual searches of phone and Internet records.

    At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama plans no public comment on the findings.

    JAY CARNEY, White House Press Secretary: In January, when the overall internal review is completed, the president will make remarks about the work that he has undertaken and the outcomes of his review.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The outside assessment was ordered after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked secret details about the agency's efforts last summer.

    Intelligence officials maintain their data collection operation has thwarted a number of terror attacks. But opponents argue it goes too far.

    Carney insisted the president's top priority is the safety and security of the American people.

    JAY CARNEY: He does believe that we can take steps to refine our practices and make sure that we are collecting intelligence, gathering intelligence in a way that serves our security needs in a focused way, and not just because we can because we have the capacity to do so.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The full report was originally expected to be released in January. But Carney said the administration decided to release it early because initial media reports were inaccurate.

    And for more on what the review panel is recommending, we turn to Michael Leiter, the first director of the National Counterterrorism Center under President George W. Bush and President Obama. He is now with a private technology firm. And Kate Martin, the director of the Center for National Security Studies, a civil liberties advocacy group.

    And welcome to both of you.

    First, I would like to just get an overview of how you read the panel.

    Let's start with you, Kate Martin.

    How strong is this?

    KATE MARTIN, Center for National Security Studies: It's very strong.

    It flatly recommends an end to the bulk collection program for telephone records. It questions the -- all of the various programs for bulk collection. It has some specific recommendations for changing other authorities. And it has a lot of recommendations for increasing transparency on this kind of national security intelligence gathering.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Michael Leiter, how do you read it?

    MICHAEL LEITER, former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center: Well, I would agree with some of what Kate say.

    It is relatively strong. It doesn't actually recommend the termination of any of these programs. It recommends changing how they are done. And it highlights the importance of transparency and some more effective oversight. So I think it is more a modification than a revolution in what we have been doing.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so, specifically, to look at one recommendation, well, one of the big ones is to take the data and keep it with the phone companies or a third party, as opposed to the government. What would that do?

    MICHAEL LEITER: Correct.

    So, this is talking about telephone metadata, the length of calls, who made the calls -- or I should say the numbers that made the calls. And right now, the NSA, the National Security Agency, holds all of that data and analyzes it on its own. It recommends new legislation so the phone companies are an outside -- and they would hold it.

    And then the NSA would have to get judicial approval to actually do searches against it. I think that's quite good, and technology allows that to occur in the future. It insures that there is less of a privacy invasion, because the government wouldn't hold the data. But it still provides the NSA with the flexibility it needs to do the sorts of searches to find national security threats.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You would agree that that is a good move?

    KATE MARTIN: I would agree it is a good move.

    I would disagree about how major of a move it. At the moment, what the law provides is that the government goes and has made a database with five years of metadata on every call by every American. This recommendation would stop that. The government would no longer have a database like that.

    And, instead, when they had a specific telephone number that they believed was reasonably connected to a terrorist, they would go to a judge, get permission to then go to the telephone companies and ask for information about that telephone number. And the report is very detailed about the reasons why a bulk database of information on Americans is a bad idea, and not necessary for national security, and quite different from allowing the government to go to the phone companies.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Do you see, Michael Leiter, thins here, specific things, or in the totality that would harm, that go too far on the security side of that?

    MICHAEL LEITER: I don't really see any individual recommendations here that are problematic.

    What does concern me is that, taken in totality, if these things are applied with the sort of bureaucracy that can sometimes occur in the government, it could slow things down significantly.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Such as? Give us an example.

    MICHAEL LEITER: Well, there is much more responsibility for FISA court judges. That's not all bad. There is a larger role for the president's Civil Liberties Oversight Board. There is more of a role for the FISA court reviewing what the FBI does.

    So, in sum, all of these things I think do pose a risk of slowing down the broader system and making intelligence officers much more risk-averse. But I think the devil will be in the details. This is really the first salvo. We will have to wait and see what the president says and ultimately what Congress does on the legislative front.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What do you think about -- a lot of these things that he's talking about go to the transparency question, right?


    JEFFREY BROWN: And accountability and oversight.


    JEFFREY BROWN: So, you put them all together, and the question is, is it too much? Does it slow down? Does it -- does it make security less effective?

    KATE MARTIN: Well, I think the answer to that is that two members of this handpicked panel by the president, of course, were former extremely senior or high-level counterterrorism officials.

    One of the things they say in their report is that they looked at these programs, and they didn't find the programs to be necessary for national security. So, the question about whether or not it slows it down, you know, they're saying we have got to readjust the programs.

    One of the things that is obscured, with all due respect, I think, is, we're not talking about in the main here intelligence gathering in a war zone, in Iraq or Afghanistan. We're talking about the government gathering information on its own citizens.

    And so, yes, you want it slowed down. And, in fact, one of the important insights in the report is that security is both a matter of national security and privacy. And the fact that that conclusion was reached by former counterterrorism officials, I hope the president takes that into account.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You want to respond to that?

    MICHAEL LEITER: Well, I mean I think -- I hope it is readily apparent that privacy and civil liberties are a national security interest as well. There is no doubt about that.

    And I commend the panel for talking about the ways in which transparency and oversight can be improved. I actual just think that Kate misreads some of this. First of all, many of the recommendations are not about U.S. persons. So, there is much in here which is about other programs which the review group specifically says are quite helpful, to include some of the e-mail collection issues.

    And what I would stress again is, this group doesn't actually recommend the termination of these programs. It recommends a modification for greater oversight, greater transparency. As a general matter, I think that's an outstanding thing.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And we should say...

    KATE MARTIN: Could I just...


    JEFFREY BROWN: OK, very briefly.

    KATE MARTIN: Quote: "We recommend that this program, the telephone metadata program, should be terminated as soon as reasonably practicable."

    And that is something that the president can do on his own.


    JEFFREY BROWN: Go ahead.

    MICHAEL LEITER: Very quickly, what Kate doesn't say is that she then -- they then recommend legislation to allow the telephone companies to do this, so NSA can search that same data.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    KATE MARTIN: No, they made it clear that legislation is not necessary for the telephone companies.


    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, I do -- we will end, but I want to say, there is a lot more there.


    JEFFREY BROWN: And these are recommendations. So, these are going to be debated for some time.

    MICHAEL LEITER: Exactly.


    JEFFREY BROWN: We will come back to it.

    Michael Leiter and Kate Martin, thank you both very much.

    MICHAEL LEITER: Thank you.

    KATE MARTIN: Thank you.


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    GWEN IFILL: Secretary of State John Kerry announced today the United States will provide $25 million in additional aid to help the Philippines recover from the devastating typhoon that struck that country last month.

    Kerry visited hard-hit Tacloban, and also spoke of the need to act to prevent global warming and extreme weather.

    Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro is in the Philippines and filed this report on the recovery effort.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Tacloban, the typhoon zone's main city, remains under a thick blanket of debris, rubble and downed trees. Many of the 1,800-plus people still listed as missing were trapped underneath.

    The tally of bodies still being recovered is in the dozens each week. By now decomposed well beyond recognition, they are added to the confirmed death toll of more than 6,000. Five weeks after Haiyan, or Yolanda, as the Philippines named the epic typhoon, relief workers say there has been progress, even though it's hard to see at first glance.

    Elizabeth Tromans is with Catholic Relief Services.

    ELIZABETH TROMANS, Catholic Relief Services: I can see a lot more roofs on buildings, I can see a lot more partially damaged walls that have been patched up with a tarp or with salvaged iron sheeting that used to be on top of roofs. You can hear the chain saws buzzing in the background. There's lots of lumber being cut up, so it's opening up even more areas. Just, it's -- it's every day.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Families like the Briones, Ronald, his wife, Magnolia, her mother and two teenage sons, have returned to the spot where once stood their modest two-story home. All but a twisted heap of electronic plastic and rebar was washed out to sea.

    Washed ashore when they returned, one almost next door to them, were several cargo ships containing loads of cement. But the Briones family's most basic needs, so desperately lacking in the early days, are now being met.

    MAGNOLIA BRIONES, Typhoon Victim (through interpreter): We get rice, fish, some vegetables, noodles, and sardines.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The food comes not from a market, but from what seems like a typhoon of food aid.

    Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week in this temporary warehouse, there are some 200 volunteers from the community preparing care packages for an estimated 2.5 million to three million mouths that need to be fed every single day.

    The volunteers are supervised by staff from the Philippine Department of Social Welfare. Soldiers help sort and pack other consignments in a nearby building. If there's a go-to person here, it's Oliver Bartolo. He's not with any aid agency or the government, but on loan, as its contribution to the relief effort, from UPS, United Parcel Service.

    Bartolo arrived a week after the disaster, tasked to bring coherence to the chaos, he says.

    OLIVER BARTOLO, UPS: Most of the incoming relief goods, they were just unloaded in the warehouse, and just stacked And without any dates in it, no labeling, so That it would be hard for us to track down what has come first that needs to comes out first also.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: You have a real hard time knowing what you have in this?

    OLIVER BARTOLO: Right. Right. That's correct. And it's hard to coordinate.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Bartolo has begun to do that now with a 10-member team, including people from other freight companies. They have brought equipment, trucks and forklifts, and, as Filipinos, critical expertise.

    MAN: We have now got, it seems, a surplus of empty containers at the port.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: On this day, an official with the U.N.'s World Food Program need empty freight containers cleared away at Tacloban's small port. New shipments of the critical staple rice were due in soon, and Bartolo promised to speak to the official in charge.

    OLIVER BARTOLO: I can speak to her, and probably we can find a place where we can put all those empty containers.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: With so little time and space and so much need, the Food Program's Tommy Thompson says Bartolo's team has shortened delivery times by days.

    TOMMY THOMPSON, World Food Program: What they provide is, they provide us local expertise. And that's the thing, because we're really in a race against time. They can alert us to the way systems work in a country. So we now know how to import, how things should be labeled to come into countries so that they don't get delayed by customs.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Back at the warehouses, Bartolo's big challenge is to ship things out without delay. He worries a lot of it is in danger of rotting in the heat and humidity.

    OLIVER BARTOLO: Especially the rice. In the afternoon, there's always a downpour. And we're afraid that some of the roofings of the warehouse are not yet repaired, so there are leaks.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: For now, relief officials say at least the most basic food need is being met. The ongoing challenge will be to keep replenishments moving in and out swiftly.

    The next priority for many in the recovery effort is sanitation, everything from latrines to toiletry essentials.

    ELIZABETH TROMANS: It's intended to last one month for a family of five.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: But Catholic Relief Services' Elizabeth Tromans says people are beginning to look beyond their most basic daily needs.

    ELIZABETH TROMANS: The thing that we're hearing over and over and over again is shelter. Shelter is our priority. So many people lost their homes. And so CRS right now is -- in the first month, we have been focusing on just emergency shelter. We have been giving a tarp, a strong, sturdy tarp along with some nails and some tools, so that people can erect something very, very simple to have a closed structure around them and their families.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The Briones and neighbors who've lived in this informal waterfront shantytown for decades may never get beyond that makeshift housing.

    The government has declared this low-lying land off-limits to housing in the future to protect people from storms. But Magnolia Briones is not sure where they could go. In this densely populated Visayan region, there's little land to be had, and, as simple laborers, they couldn't afford it anyway -- not that staying here is worry-free, especially for their 14-year-old son, Ronald Jr., who has nightmares and sleeps clinging to his parents.

    MAGNOLIA BRIONES (through interpreter): He's scared of the big waves, worried that a boat will slam into us.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It's hard to imagine, but this family is still better off than tens of thousands who remain in evacuation centers, in tents, a handful even on the cement ships, now firmly beached, their hulls a mass of hardened concrete.

    GWEN IFILL: Fred's reporting is a partnership with the Under-Told Stories Project at Saint Mary's University in Minnesota.



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