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

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    Patients with insurance may not be transferred to specialized trauma centers as quickly as those without, a Stanford study has found. Photo by Getty Images.

    Patients with insurance may not be transferred to specialized trauma centers as quickly as those without, a Stanford study has found. Photo by Getty Images.

    It’s called “patient dumping” – when hospitals transfer patients without insurance to public hospitals. But a new study from Stanford University has turned dumping on its head. It finds that hospitals are less likely to transfer critically injured patients to trauma centers if they have health insurance.

    Researchers at Stanford University looked at more than 4,500 trauma cases at 636 hospitals around the country to see what happened to critically injured patients brought to emergency rooms that aren’t designated trauma centers. They found that non-trauma centers were much more likely to admit patients who had insurance, whether it was private insurance or Medicaid coverage, than to transfer them to more skilled facilities.

    “It’s the opposite of the overly aggressive transfer of a poor patient,” said Dr. Arthur Kellermann, the dean of the U.S. Military Medical School, and a trauma care expert who was not involved in the study. “This is actually suggesting that patients who have coverage for critical injuries may not be getting transferred as quickly as they should be.”

    “This is actually suggesting that patients who have coverage for critical injuries may not be getting transferred as quickly as they should be.”Getting to a designated trauma center matters for patients with serious injuries. Severely injured patients are 25 percent less likely to die at a trauma center than in a typical emergency room. It’s not just a matter of getting in the door at the closest hospital, but getting in the door at the right hospital, Dr. Kellermann said. “That’s the whole point of trauma centers. The expertise, the speed of response, the capacity to manage complex injuries is significantly better at major trauma centers. That’s the whole reason certain hospitals are designated trauma centers.”

    The study didn’t assess how patients at non-trauma centers fared. The researchers excluded patients over 65, and only looked at patients who were admitted or transferred. Dr. Kit Delgado, the study’s lead author and former Stanford emergency medicine instructor, says critically injured patients “admitted to hospitals that are not trauma centers are at risk for worse outcomes.”

    It’s unclear just who makes that decision to admit or transfer. Emergency physicians and nurses typically don’t know whether their patients are insured. But Delgado, who is now an emergency care researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, says hospital administrators often weigh in on where uninsured patients end up, and that same dynamic could help explain why non-trauma centers are reluctant to give up paying customers. “As an emergency physician,” Delgado said, “you may get a tap on the shoulder by a case manager that suggests that you should consider transferring the patient out to a hospital where they can be taken care of and they’re willing to accept them without insurance.”

    The business of medicine too often dictates where patients are cared for, said Kellermann, and that includes whether a hospital admits patients or transfers them. “That decision should not be influenced by economics one way or the other. It should be influenced only by what’s in the best interest of patients,” he said.

    It’s not the first time researchers have found hospitals holding on to insured patients: low-birth-weight babies do better at high-volume neonatal intensive care units, but babies covered by insurance are less likely to be transferred.

    Still, there may be other reasons why patients aren’t transferred to hospitals with more expertise: Delgado is currently researching whether patients prefer to stay at their local community hospital instead of being moved to a trauma center that may be a public hospital or located in an inner-city area. If that’s the case, Delgado says hospitals need to do a better job educating patients about where the best care is available.


    Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

    The post Insured patients are often not transferred for better care, study finds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Although freezing temperatures wrecked havoc in parts of the U.S. last month, the world experienced the fourth warmest January on record. Image courtesy of NOAA National Climatic Data Center

    Although freezing temperatures wrecked havoc in parts of the U.S. last month, the world experienced the fourth warmest January on record. Image courtesy of NOAA National Climatic Data Center

    Even though large-scale winter storms have bombarded parts of the U.S. in the last few weeks, global temperatures in January were the fourth warmest on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday.

    Since records have been kept, beginning in 1880, the average global temperature — 54.8 degrees Fahrenheit — in January was 1.17 degrees higher than the 20th century average and the highest since 2007, NOAA reported. The 2000s have seen the hottest global temperatures for January, with 2002, 2003 and 2007 being the warmest.

    The U.S. had its warmest year in 2012 with the world experiencing its 11th warmest on record, the Associated Press reports.

    Another cold front is expected to blanket parts of the U.S., starting Sunday.

    The post Despite cold spells in U.S., world had fourth warmest January on record appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Barack Obama's 2015 budget proposal will lose the offer to make cuts to entitlement programs, including Social Security, White House officials said Thursday. Photo by Brendan Smialowsky/Getty Images

    President Barack Obama’s 2015 budget proposal will lose the offer to make cuts to entitlement programs, including Social Security, White House officials said Thursday. Photo by Brendan Smialowsky/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — The White House says President Barack Obama’s upcoming budget proposal will not include his past offer to accept lowered cost-of-living increases in Social Security and other benefit programs. Those had been a central component of his long-term debt-reduction strategy.

    Officials said Thursday that those potential reductions in spending, included in last year’s Obama budget, had been designed to initiate negotiations with Republicans over how to reduce future deficits and the nation’s debt. But Republicans never accepted Obama’s calls for higher tax revenue to go along with the cuts.

    The decision to drop the cost-of-living proposal was essentially an acknowledgement that Obama has been unable to conclude a “grand budget bargain” with Republican leaders, even by including in his previous budget plan a benefit reduction opposed by many Democrats.

    “The president was willing to step forward and put on the table a concrete proposal,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “Unfortunately, Republicans refused to even consider the possibility of raising some revenue by closing some loopholes that benefit only the wealthy and the well-connected.”

    While many Democrats cheered the new decision, Republicans portrayed the White House move as abandoning any commitment to fiscal discipline.

    “The one and only idea the president has to offer is even more job-destroying tax hikes, and that non-starter won’t do anything to save the entitlement programs that are critical to so many Americans,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “With three years left in office, it seems the president is already throwing in the towel.”

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Democrats had stood behind Obama’s efforts to negotiate on a long-term budget deal, but she said Democrats applauded Obama for eliminating that cost-of-living reduction from his budget.

    Earnest insisted the offer would remain on the table in the event of new budget talks but that it would not be part of the president’s formal spending blueprint for fiscal 2015 when it’s unveiled March 4.

    The new Obama proposal would eliminate congressionally mandated automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to continue kicking in through 2015 by adding $56 billion to the budget, evenly divided between military and domestic spending. That increase would include money for what the White House calls an “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative.”

    Officials said the budget would also expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without children.

    All the additional spending, officials said, would be paid for with a mix of other spending cuts and the closing of some tax loopholes, officials said. They did not describe the specific cuts or tax changes.

    The officials said the White House will retain other spending reductions in benefit programs that it has proposed in the past, including a requirement that wealthier Medicare recipients pay more.

    The Obama budget would build on the recently passed bipartisan congressional agreement that signaled an end to the brinkmanship that defined recent fiscal confrontations.

    The proposed cost-of-living trims, now put aside by Obama, had faced significant opposition from Democrats. Just last Friday, 16 Senate liberals called for Obama not to include in his budget any provision that would reduce increases in Social Security benefits to future retirees.

    That proposal, supported by many Republicans, would use a different inflation index to adjust annual benefit payments. Many economists believe the revised formula, called a “chained consumer price index,” better reflects consumer spending behavior.

    Even though the Obama proposal does not include that significant debt-reduction idea, the White House says that passage of a separate overhaul of immigration law, combined with more slowly growing health care costs, would eventually result in a national debt that is lower as a share of the total economy than projected in past administration budgets. It says deficits as a share of the economy will be below 2 percent after the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

    The administration’s budget is expected to be more bullish about the fiscal picture than a recent forecast by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Economists at CBO projected earlier this month that deficits would fall to 2.6 percent of the economy in 2015 and then rise to about 4 percent between 2022 and 2024.

    The post New Obama budget proposal abandons Social Security cuts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WhatsApp has more monthly users than any other social messaging app. Since November, the popular texting app has more than 450 million monthly active users. Image by Canalys.

    WhatsApp has more monthly users than any other social messaging app. Since November, the popular texting app has more than 450 million monthly active users. Image by Canalys.

    On Wednesday, Facebook acquired messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock, a number that left many scratching their heads, including “The End of Big” author Nicco Mele.

    “The valuation is crazy to me,” Mele said in a phone interview to PBS NewsHour.

    Do you remember the days when $1.6 billion was considered a lot of money? That’s how much Google bought YouTube for back in 2006.

    In a billion-dollar deal, Facebook purchased the photo-sharing social network Instagram in 2012. In November, messaging app Snapchat rejected Facebook’s $3 billion offer.

    When did $19 billion become the appropriate amount to purchase a tech application — one that already turned down a $10-billion offer from Google — from a company that employs 55 people and charges its subscribers $1 per year?

    WhatsApp accomplishes Facebook’s aim to reach international and mobile audiences, Mele said. The company boasts that it has 450 million monthly users and more than 320 million daily active users. And since WhatsApp is an international SMS text messaging application, many of those users are outside of the U.S., a market that Facebook is trying to reach as its growth in the U.S. slows.

    With Facebook’s help, WhatsApp now has a greater value than half of the companies in the S&P 500 index.

    “Is it really worth more than Southwest Airlines?”

    In December, Facebook reported that 945 million monthly active users worldwide access the social network through a mobile device. According to a Pew Research Center report, one-third of those users only use mobile. Investing in mobile applications makes sense for Facebook’s growth and is in keeping with their prior acquirements of mobile applications.

    But why invest so much money in an application that’s so similar to others?

    Mele points out that when Google bought YouTube, the video-sharing website was one of a kind.

    “WhatsApp is not unique by a long shot. If all you’re buying is the WhatsApp reach or audience, is that really worth 19 billion?”

    According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, it was.

    Circa reported that in a conference call Wednesday, Zuckerberg said, “WhatsApp had every option in the world, so I’m thrilled that they chose to work with us.”

    Only time will tell if that $19 billion was worth it.

    The post Is WhatsApp really worth the $19 billion price tag? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    While the number of farms in the U.S. is shrinking, market values of crops, livestock and total agricultural products have reached record highs according to a new government survey. Photo by USDA

    While the number of farms in the U.S. is shrinking, market values of crops, livestock and total agricultural products have reached record highs according to a new government survey. Photo by USDA

    WASHINGTON — American agriculture has experienced a boom, with market values of crops, livestock and total agricultural products reaching record highs even as the amount of U.S. farmland declined, according to a new government survey.

    Continuing a long-term trend, the number of U.S. farms dropped to 2.1 million in 2012, about a 4 percent drop from five years earlier. But some of the bigger farms got bigger. The average farm grew from 418 to 434 acres.

    The state with the most farms was Texas, which saw the number of farms increase slightly over the five years. Still, it lost about 200,000 farmland acres over the same period.

    The survey, taken every five years and released Thursday, shows some growth in nontraditional elements of agriculture. While the industry is still overwhelmingly white, there’s been a rise in the number of minority-operated farms. And there are more farms in New England and many states in the Mountain West, while that number has declined in many states in traditional farm country.

    In Connecticut, for example, the number of farms jumped by 22 percent over the five years.

    George Krivda, legislative program manager at the state Department of Agriculture, attributes the increase in part to rising demand for locally grown food. “All of it is great, and it all speaks to the average consumer who’s more in touch with where food comes,” he said.

    All told, U.S. farms sold nearly $395 billion in products in 2012, a third more than five years earlier. That averaged to about $187,000 per farm – or an increase of $52,000 over 2007 totals.

    In Montana, Department of Agriculture Director Ron de Yong said crop prices have fallen since 2012. “It’s part of the cycle, and we should cycle back up again,” he said.

    While most of farm country is getting older — the average farmer is 58.3 years old — more people under the age of 34 are trying their hand at farming.

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the small boost in the number of younger farmers — around 2 percent — is partly due to increased interest and government support for locally grown foods and a thriving export market. Many younger farmers work at smaller operations, where the good farm economy and a rising consumer interest in where food is grown have helped them.

    He said he wants farm country to “be aggressive” about recruiting and retaining younger people, as a third of farmers were older than 65 in 2012.

    “The reality is, over time those folks won’t be able to continue farming, and the question for all of us is, if they don’t, who will?” Vilsack said after the report was released.

    Vilsack has made the revitalization of rural America a priority at USDA. As people have moved to suburbs and cities, many communities have increasing poverty and fewer young people to take over family farms. He has also argued that the dwindling population has led to less political clout — made evident by a recent three-year congressional struggle to enact a new farm bill. President Barack Obama signed the bill, which provides farm subsidies and food stamps, into law earlier this month.

    “My question is not just who is going to farm, but who is going to defend them?” Vilsack said.

    Vilsack said he is most concerned about the survival of middle-sized farms, which declined in the last five years. The number of larger and smaller farms mostly held steady.

    He said he believes that decline partly came from a lapse in disaster assistance while Congress haggled over the farm bill, drought in many states and rising feed costs.

    Ideally, he said, many of the younger farmers who are working on smaller farms will eventually expand their operations.

    One area of growth for agriculture is farms that are minority-operated. The number of farms operated by Hispanics, African-Americans, American Indians and Asians all grew between 2007 and 2012, and the number of Hispanics who were principal operators of farms grew by 21 percent. Still, farm country remains overwhelmingly white – 92 percent of farms are operated by whites, while less than 64 percent of the general population is white and the minority population is growing.

    Similarly, only 14 percent of farms are operated by women, and more than 90 percent of those were smaller farms.

    The survey also found:

  • Most U.S. farms are small: 75 percent had sales of less than $50,000 in 2012.
  • New England, Texas, Florida and many states in the Mountain West saw increases in the number of farms and some saw an increase in farmland. Many Midwestern, Southern and mid-Atlantic states saw decreases. Vilsack said much of the growth in those states comes from an increase in specialty crops, mostly fruits and vegetables, that are increasingly popular with consumers.
  • The 10 states with the most farms are Texas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, California, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Only Ohio is new to the list since 2007.

    Associated Press writers Matt Volz in Helena, Mont., Stephen Singer in Hartford, Conn., and Betsy Blaney in Lubbock, Texas, contributed to this report.

    The post U.S. agriculture booms to record highs appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Pete Souza/The White House

    Photo by Pete Souza/The White House

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama met with the Dalai Lama at the White House Friday over the stern objection of China, which warned the meeting would “inflict grave damages” on the U.S. relationship with the Asian nation.

    Obama greeted the Dalai Lama while the Tibetan spiritual leader and fellow Nobel laureate was in the U.S. on a speaking tour. The meeting was closed to photographers, and, unlike during some previous visits, the Dalai Lama departed the White House without speaking to reporters.

    In a statement after the meeting, the White House said Obama offered his “strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions” and for human rights protections for Tibetans in China. The Dalai Lama told Obama he’s not seeking Tibetan independence, and both leaders said they hoped talks would resume between Beijing and the Dalai Lama’s representatives.

    When the White House announced the meeting late Thursday, China responded almost immediately, urging Obama to cancel it in what has become something of a diplomatic ritual whenever the president meets with the exiled Buddhist monk. In a biting statement, China’s government accused Obama of letting the Dalai Lama use the White House to promote anti-Chinese activities.

    “It is a severe violation of the principles of international relations,” said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry. “It will inflict grave damages upon the China-U.S. relationship.”

    Beijing has often protested when world leaders have granted audiences to the Dalai Lama, including when Obama met with him in 2010 and again in 2011. Chinese officials denounce the Dalai Lama as a separatist responsible for instigating self-immolations by Tibetans inside China, but he is widely respected around the world for his advocacy of peace and tolerance.

    Obama hosted the Dalai Lama in the White House’s Map Room, rather than the Oval Office, where the president traditionally brings a visiting leader for a round of photographs. The private meeting, closed to reporters despite media requests for access, suggested an attempt to avoid the appearance of a formal meeting between two heads of state.

    The White House said Obama was meeting with the Dalai Lama in the visitor’s capacity as a cultural and religious leader. As if to indicate a reaction had been expected, officials reiterated that the U.S. recognizes Tibet as part of China and doesn’t support Tibetan independence.

    At the same time, officials said they were concerned about tensions and deteriorating human rights in China’s Tibetan areas, urging Beijing to resume talks with the Dalai Lama or his followers without preconditions.

    China bitterly opposes the Dalai Lama’s quest for greater Tibetan autonomy and is wary of Obama’s efforts to increase U.S. influence in the region.

    Relations between the U.S. and China are already on edge over Beijing’s increasingly aggressive steps to assert itself in the region, including in territorial disputes with its smaller neighbors. China’s emergence as a leading global economic and military power has strained ties with Washington, and the two have also clashed over cybertheft and human rights.

    A frequent visitor to the U.S., the Dalai Lama has lived in exile in northern India since fleeing China in 1959.

    Zhao Liang in Beijing contributed to this report.

    Earlier today, .

    The post Obama shows support for Tibetan traditions during meeting with Dalai Lama appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by MPI/Getty Images

    E.E. Cummings in January 1920. Photo by MPI/Getty Images

    When Susan Cheever was a high school sophomore, E.E. Cummings came to her school for a reading. Her father, novelist John Cheever, was friendly with Cummings and a great admirer of the poet, so the younger Cheever went along with him to see the reading.

    “He was an inspired reader and lecturer. Just astonishing,” Cheever told chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown. “He used his voice as if it was a musical instrument. He rehearsed until he got it exactly right.”


    Listen to Jeffrey Brown’s conversation with Susan Cheever.

    Afterwards, Cummings asked for a ride back to New York, so the three piled into the family car for a trip that Cheever will never forget.

    E.E. Cummings in 1955. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

    E.E. Cummings in 1955. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

    “It was an extraordinary ride. Cummings was very on, he was very funny, he was very musical and he and I got along like a house of fire … He was on my side and I fell in love mostly with the idea of being a writer and being free.”

    Cheever has just published a biography reassessing this modernist’s story: “E. E. Cummings: A Life.”

    One of the most popular poets of his time, Cummings’ work is linked to groundbreaking explorations by creatives like Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound. The group of modernists from the 1930s and ‘40s covered all artistic mediums.

    “You’ve got the whole idea in painting that the painting should not represent the form and you’ve got the whole idea in writing that words should not just mean something, but that the sound of the word was also tremendously important,” said Cheever.

    “He really was a formalist who twisted the forms so much that it looks as if it’s formless.”

    In traveling for promotion of her new biography, Cheever has come across many people with a favorite poem by Cummings that they remember from their time in college.

    “It doesn’t surprise me. I think his poems are extraordinary and wonderful and engaging but I think it would be great if people started reading Cummings more again … I hope (the book) sends people back to read more Cummings.”


    Listen to Susan Cheever read a few of her own favorite Cummings poems.
    Buffalo Bill’s
    defunct
    who use to
    ride a watersmooth-silver
    stallion
    and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
    Jesus
    he was a handsome man
    and what i know to know is
    how do you like your blueeyed boy
    Mister Death

    Me up at does
    out of the floor
    quietly Stare
    a poisoned mouse

    still who alive
    is asking What
    have I done that
    You wouldn’t have.


    “E. E. Cummings: A Life” went on Sale February 11. Photo of Susan Cheever by Michael Falco.

    The post Susan Cheever writes of life behind E.E. Cummings’s famous verse appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Rhonda Marshall, 58, waves to visitors outside the Hacienda public housing complex in Richmond, Calif. She’s been living on the high-rise’s first floor for years and has watched the building deteriorate. She says sees cracks in the walls running from the sixth floor to the ground and smells mold in the hallways and stairwells. Photo by Lacy Atkins/San Francisco Chronicle

    Rhonda Marshall, 58, waves to visitors outside the Hacienda public housing complex in Richmond, Calif. She’s been living on the high-rise’s first floor for years and has watched the building deteriorate. She says sees cracks in the walls running from the sixth floor to the ground and smells mold in the hallways and stairwells. Photo by Lacy Atkins/San Francisco Chronicle

    The Center for Investigative ReportingRICHMOND, Calif. — Geneva Eaton has learned to deal with life in Hacienda: the stench of mold from the stairwell in front of her door, the winter she spent huddled at her stove for heat, the broken security gate that allows drug dealers and squatters to walk past the paid security guards and urinate on her doorstep. But the mice were too much.

    For eight months, the 73-year-old woke to handfuls of half-dead mice wriggling in the glue traps lining the floors and cupboard of her apartment. In the space of a few hours, she caught 12. She put her nicest family belongings into storage. She went to bed with the lights on, afraid that the vermin she heard chewing through her walls would bite her in her sleep.

    Officials at the Richmond Housing Authority know the Hacienda high-rise, one of its five public housing projects, is infested with mice and roaches. Residents have filed more than 80 complaints about it in the past year, according to agency records. But maintenance workers had done little to fix the problem. So for months, Eaton lived a daily routine: She threw out food she could barely afford. She called a maintenance line for help. She bathed her walls in bleach in the hopes of scaring away the insects.

    Eaton lives in one of the worst apartment buildings managed by one of the worst public housing agencies in the country. Here in Richmond, some of the poorest, oldest and most vulnerable people in the Bay Area live in squalor and fear due to the housing agency’s mismanagement and neglect, The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

    A resident peeks out her front door after hearing yelling in the courtyard at the Hacienda housing complex. Hacienda has paid security guards, but some have admitted that the place intimidates them. Photo by Lacy Atkins/San Francisco Chronicle

    A resident peeks out her front door after hearing yelling in the courtyard at the Hacienda housing complex. Hacienda has paid security guards, but some have admitted that the place intimidates them. Photo by Lacy Atkins/San Francisco Chronicle

    There were at least 16 life-threatening health and safety violations at the five public housing projects managed by the housing authority, according to the two most recent years of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports. Seniors and disabled residents lived amid exposed wiring and missing smoke detectors and fire alarms. Most well-kempt housing projects don’t have these major health and safety violations, HUD says.

    Nearly 1 in 5 apartments in the Hacienda and Nevin Plaza complexes are infested with insects and cockroaches, inspection records show.

    Read the entire investigation by The Center for Investigative Reporting, produced in collaboration with the San Francisco Chronicle and KQED.

    The post Residents live in filth, fear in mismanaged Bay Area public housing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Bureau of Labor Statistics underestimates how many American jobs require and will require higher education, dangerously discouraging college attendance. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics underestimates how many American jobs require higher education, dangerously discouraging college attendance. Above, job seekers line up to apply for positions at an American Apparel store in New York City. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

    Editor’s Note: It’s no secret that, like the rest of Americans, college graduates are struggling to find jobs. Are there just too many of them over saturating the labor market? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it would seem so: only 27 percent of jobs in the U.S. require at least an associate degree and the ranks of under and unemployed college graduates are likely to grow over the next ten years.

    Maybe, as economist Robert Lerman has suggested, more energy should be poured into apprenticeship programs, given that so few jobs will absorb our college graduates.

    But that’s not the whole story. The BLS projections of demand for college grads are dangerously understated, argue Anthony Carnevale and his colleagues at the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. Why dangerously? Because they discourage disadvantaged students, for whom tertiary education is not a foregone conclusion, from earning a college degree.

    Carnevale is director of the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, where Nicole Smith is senior economist and Jeff Strohl is director of research. In October, Carnevale explained on this page why it’s taking so long for millennials — the most educated generation — to reach the middle of the wage distribution. (Hint: it’s not because their parents are crowding them out of the labor market.)

    Simone Pathe, Making Sense Editor


    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the premier government source for information on jobs, shows that only 27 percent of jobs (percentage calculated from table 2) in the U.S. economy currently require a college degree (associate degree or higher). By comparison, the Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of 60,000 households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, shows that 47 percent of workers have an associate degree or higher.

    Graph courtesy of the authors.

    Graph courtesy of the authors.

    The BLS projections to 2022 are even more depressing. They suggest that the number of overqualified and underemployed college graduates will only get worse. According to BLS, the economy will create 50.6 million job openings by 2022 and only 27.1 percent will require college degrees. That’s a projected increase of only 2.1 percentage points since 1996.

    We at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce respectfully disagree, particularly as it relates to the education required for those jobs. Our projections suggest that the economy will create 55 million new job openings over the next decade, and 65 percent, or 37 million, of these new job vacancies will require some postsecondary education and training.

    According to table 2 in the December 2013 edition of the BLS’ Monthly Labor Review, only 23 percent of jobs will require a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2022. By comparison, our projections show that, by 2020, 35 percent of jobs will require a bachelor’s degree or higher.

    The BLS estimates are frighteningly low given that so many of our competitor nations have far exceeded them over the past decades. The United States was one of the top countries in college achievement in 1992 but has since fallen to number 11 among Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations. The United States performs especially poorly in sub-baccalaureate attainment, where we now rank 15th among our peers.

    But of even more concern are the far reaching consequences of these understated numbers. The BLS numbers have contributed to growing skepticism about the value proposition of higher education by many vocal and influential public figures, such as William Bennett, Charles Murray, Richard Vedder, George Leef and Peter Thiel.

    According to the BLS, only 27 percent of us need college degrees for our jobs. Yet, 47 percent of the workforce currently has a college degree. This 14.9 percentage point difference equates to 21 million overqualified degreed workers in a workforce of 140 million; or the size of the 2013 fall postsecondary enrollment.

    If these data are taken at face value, given an expected class of 2.1 million new first-year college students each year in the nation’s colleges and universities — at least from an economic point of view — we should consider shutting the nation’s two and four-year colleges down for the next 10 years to absorb the existing surplus of graduates.

    Otherwise, if you take these official BLS data seriously, the army of unemployed and underemployed college graduates will only grow over the next decade. According to the BLS, the demand for college degrees will grow by a paltry three-fifths of 1 percent over the next 10 years, about 800,000 people.

    There are several problems with the BLS data. First, the data are not based on data at all. The BLS does not claim to analyze educational demand as measured by hiring or wage differences. Instead they “assign” the minimal education and training requirements for employment. Their educational assignment method is based on the subjective judgment of BLS analysts in consultation with an unstated number of external consultants to cover change in 755 occupations. The process is hardly transparent.

    To some extent, the BLS’ limited efforts are a function of their limited goals. The fine print in the BLS data states at great length that their purpose is to represent the minimal education and training requirement in particular occupations. The BLS recognizes that assigning a single education level to a job does not accurately reflect what skills are needed on the job. As the bureau will tell you if you ask, virtually every occupation in the economy comes with a variety of legitimate educational attainment levels. In addition, because it focuses on the lowest level of education required for an occupation, it is not forward-looking in an economy where entry-level skill requirements have been increasing rapidly since the 1980s.

    But the problems run much deeper than the methods. The BLS data disagree with the mainstream research in labor economics, where economic demand is measured by employment levels and earnings; economists agree that whoever gets hired and earns more is more in demand. When we use the conventional metrics of employment and earnings differences to measure differences in demand, we get very different outcomes than the BLS does. Unemployment rates and underemployment rates for college graduates are consistently a fraction of the rates for high school dropouts or high school graduates.

    The evidence on earnings and college degrees is unequivocal: Employers continue to demand better-educated employees and are willing to pay more to get them. The college wage premium — the difference between the average wages of college and high-school-educated workers — has spiked since 1967. By 2005, that difference had reached 81 percent for men, up from 37 percent in 1967. The story was similar for women, with the college wage premium rising from 54 percent to 81 percent over that time.

    We could conclude that employers are just hiring degree-holders and paying more for them because they are dazzled by college graduates. But we know that employers are very sensitive to wage costs. For example, when the baby boom entered the workforce in the 1970s, college degrees were oversupplied and the wage premium for college degrees over high school degrees fell from 59 to 48 percent before rising again in the 1980s. This suggests that employers were not getting fooled by shiny sheepskin just because there were plenty of them around.

    The fact that the college wage premium soared from a meager 37 percent in the 1970s to peak at 81 percent in 2005 suggests that college graduates are undersupplied. This perspective is one widely agreed upon among economists, comprehensively stated by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz in “The Race Between Education and Technology” and quantified further in our recent report “The Undereducated American.”

    Moreover, it’s not at all clear that a temporary surge in college graduates is bad economics in the longer term. True, a surge in college graduates as occurred in the ’70s can temporarily drive down the college wage premium for individuals, but it may ultimately lead to productivity increases that boost growth and college wages later on. Growth economist Daron Acemoglu and others argue convincingly that the oversupply of college-educated labor in the 1970s helped to leverage growth that otherwise would not have occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. In other words, postsecondary demand has been increasing because of both supply and demand effects.

    In our study “The Undereducated American,” we found that if we increase the overall number of college graduates by 20 million by 2025, the share of the workforce with bachelor’s and graduate degrees will increase from 32 percent to 46 percent. The immediate effect of this surge in college attainment, holding productivity constant, might be to reduce the college wage premium from the current 74 percent to as low as 46 percent.

    The good news here is that the benefits of a college degree would be more broadly shared and the earnings differential between college and non-college workers would fall to more respectable historical levels. But if the new college graduates boost economic performance as Acemoglu and others would argue, then overall wages for both college and non-college workers would rise and the decline of the college wage premium would be moderated.

    The BLS data also suggest that employers were smart in the ’70s and dumb ever since. If the BLS is right, workers with postsecondary education are getting an appreciable economic benefit from their degrees that they didn’t earn. It would mean that employers were smart enough to cut back the college wage premium in the 1970s when they experienced an oversupply, courtesy of the baby boom, but the same employers started throwing money at degrees in the 1980s and continue to do so. If the BLS is correct, the increasing wages for college workers have us headed for a college bubble that will surely burst, which would mean markets don’t work, employers are irrational and preparing your children for college is naive for all but a very select few.

    We agree there is some mismatch between college curricula and career opportunities. Career development is only one of many purposes that college curricula serve. As the BLS data demonstrate, there are bartenders with bachelor’s degrees even in good times. However, they take the argument about over-qualification way too far in the wrong general direction. The bartenders with bachelor’s degrees (and similar stories) are a testament to our failure to connect college programs to career pathways, but they do not signal overproduction of college degrees in general.

    To the contrary, since the 1980s the evidence suggests that we have been under producing college talent, and the rising college wage premium is the best summary proof. Degree production in the 1980s flattened out after baby boomers reached college graduation age and has remained flat ever since. The supply of college talent has increased at roughly 1 percent per year and the employer demand has risen by as much as 3 percent. Over the past decades, employers have responded to scarcity in college talent by raising college wages relative to the wages of workers with no more than high school diplomas.

    Despite the growing economic advantage of college degrees, the overproduction or over-qualification school of thought implicit in the BLS data has a strong following.

    Going forward, both demography and labor market change favor increased demand for college degrees. The baby boom that reduced the college wage premium in the 1970s by surging into the workforce will be surging out of the labor force over the next two decades. This most highly educated generation includes more than 40 million workers, each with roughly 40 years of experience. The retirement of college-educated baby boomers will only increase the demand for degrees to make up for their lost educational attainment as well as their experience.

    Our focus on this issue is not driven by a desire to complain about the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS is the gold standard for occupational and industry job data, and we would not be able to do much of our own analysis without them. But the BLS education data is the exception to the rule. The relationship between education and jobs falls in the crack between the government’s education and jobs statistical agencies. The education statistical agency doesn’t track jobs and the jobs statistical agency doesn’t track education, while neither tracks the relationships between education and jobs. The U.S. Census Bureau does track both jobs and education, and it finds that people with college have a substantial wage advantage over high school dropouts or high school graduates.

    The BLS data are most troubling because they send bad advice cascading from the federal to state governments and to student counselors and into the hands of young people and their parents.

    For example, the BLS education data say that a two-year degree is what’s required to become a registered nurse even though we know that over 50 percent of nurses already have a four-year or graduate degree and that those nurses have more responsibilities and higher earnings than nurses with associate degrees once they get on the job. So the backward-looking advice implicit in the BLS data misrepresents the education it takes to be a registered nurse and the earnings potential of these nurses.

    The BLS data encourages policymakers who see higher education attainment programs as a place to cut their budgets, and, worst of all, it encourages bad decisions about college-going that are made at kitchen tables all across America. But the sensationalist stories about high unemployment among college graduates and the misleading official data are unlikely to keep advantaged youth from going to college.

    The real tragedy of these headlines is the message they send to less privileged youth for whom college is not an assumed or easy path. The negative press on college fuels biases among working families that college is neither accessible nor worth the cost and effort. Moreover, the bad press and worse data strengthen the hand of elitists who argue that college should be the exclusive preserve of those born into the right race, ethnicity and bank account; college is for me and mine but not for thee or thine.

    The post Too many college grads? Or too few? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Grace Villamil

    Photo by Grace Villamil

    Garrick Utley, a former foreign correspondent and anchor for NBC News, died on Thursday night from prostate cancer.

    Over the course of his 30 year career, Utley was NBC’s chief foreign correspondent, visiting some 75 countries. He was the bureau chief in London and Paris and served as the weekend anchor for NBC Nightly News. He also moderated for Meet the Press from January 1989 to December 1991.

    Utley was 74.

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    The Canadian men's ice hockey team celebrates their win over the U.S. in Sochi, Russia on Friday. Photo by Getty Images

    The Canadian men’s ice hockey team celebrates their win over the U.S. in Sochi, Russia on Friday. Photo by Getty Images

    After defeating the United States 1-0 in the semifinals of the Olympics men’s hockey tournament Friday night, Canada advances to a gold medal match with Sweden on Sunday.

    U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick made 36 saves, but the U.S. team was not able to overcome Canada, whose Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars scored in the second period. The Canadians now have a chance to win their third gold medal in four Olympics this Sunday. The U.S. will challenge Finland on Saturday for the bronze.

    Instead of medals, Twitter offered an alternative prize for the Olympic hockey winner with the hashtag #loserkeepsbieber.

    This match follows the U.S. women’s 3-2 loss in overtime to Canada on Thursday.

    In other olympics news, 18-year old Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest-ever gold medalist in Olympic slalom skiing.

    Mikaela Shiffrin skis the giant slalom at Sochi on Friday. Photo by Simon Bruty /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

    Mikaela Shiffrin skis the giant slalom at Sochi on Friday. Photo by Simon Bruty /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

    Shiffrin is the youngest alpine skier to win gold in the slalom. Photo by Alexander Klein/AFP/Getty Images

    Shiffrin is the youngest alpine skier to win gold in the slalom. Photo by Alexander Klein/AFP/Getty Images

    The post U.S. men’s hockey team loses to Canada, keeps Bieber appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Esfahan uranium conversion facility in Iran.

    Technicians work at the Esfahan uranium conversion facility in Iran. The facility converts uranium into a hexaflouride gas, which is then enriched in centrifuges. Photo by Getty Images.

    Iran and six world powers have agreed on a framework for negotiating a comprehensive deal over Iran’s nuclear program. At issue is how to stem Tehran’s ability to create enough fissile material — the stuff capable of sustaining a nuclear fission reaction — for an atomic weapon. The first round of talks concluded on Thursday in Vienna, with the next set scheduled for March.

    Iran tour button

    “What this is about is reducing the timeline it would take Iran to convert a peaceful nuclear program into a military one,” said Mark Hibbs, senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment’s Nuclear Policy Program. “If this negotiation succeeds, then the time it would take Iran would be significantly longer. It could be measured in a small number of years, instead of weeks or a small number of months, if it were really, truly successful.”

    Many countries have accused Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons capability, although Iran has insisted that its program is for peaceful purposes only. Severe economic sanctions have been imposed on Iran by the U.S. since the mid-1990s (with other sanctions stretching back to 1979 Tehran hostage crisis), the UN since 2006 and the EU since 2009. Iran hopes that these talks will lead to lifting the sanctions.

    The international community’s goal is to build on November’s interim, six-month accord in Geneva, designed to give negotiators time to hammer out the details of a longer term plan. That agreement, which went into effect in January and expires in late July, mandates a cap on the enrichment of uranium at 5 percent, suspended construction of a reactor, and heightened inspections of facilities, among other things.

    In return, Iran gets some minor relief from sanctions over the interim period, totaling less than $10 billion. That figure pales in comparison to the $100 billion of Iranian reserves that the U.S. has restricted or blocked from use, and the $80 billion in oil the country was prohibited from selling over the past two years.

    “The relief is comprised mostly of allowing Iran access to its own money denied by sanctions,” David S. Cohen, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, testified at a Senate hearing in December. “In light of the Iranian economy’s deep distress, the approximately $6 to $7 billion value of the relief package … simply will not move the needle on the Iranian economy.”

    Making fissile material from uranium requires several steps; the goal of the agreement is to slow Iran’s ability at each phase in the process. Here’s a simplified explainer on how that process works.

    First, uranium ore is mined from the Earth. That ore gets processed into what’s known as yellowcake powder and then converted to a gas. Uranium oxide contains two main parts, or isotopes: uranium-235 and uranium-238. To make an atomic bomb or power a nuclear power plant, the uranium needs to contain more of the uranium-235 than the uranium-238. That’s done using a centrifuge. The centrifuge spins the gas so quickly that the heavier uranium-238 flings out towards the sides of the centrifuge. The lighter, sought-after isotope — uranium-235 — concentrates near the center. Connecting thousands of centrifuges together creates what’s called a “cascade” through which the uranium moves, and becomes enriched as the distribution of uranium-235 increases.

    Nuclear power plants rely on uranium enriched to 3 to 5 percent, whereas reactors used for research use uranium enriched between 12 and 20 percent. At 20 percent, the uranium is considered enriched enough to power a weapon. At 85 percent, it’s considered weapons-grade and the uranium can be weaponized — a very sophisticated and complex process on its own.

    “Am I hopeful that this agreement, if it’s fully implemented, would stop them from actually deploying a weapon?,” said Anthony Cordesman, a proliferation expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Yes. There’s been rollback in South Africa, rollback in Brazil and Argentina, rollback in places like Canada and Sweden. They all could build a bomb. They haven’t done it.”

    One requirement of the interim agreement calls for no enrichment past 5 percent, well within the low-enrichment level.

    Why is 5 percent enrichment a line in the sand? It’s kind of like a new runner training for a marathon — the first part is the hardest. Getting to 5 percent enrichment is difficult, according to Christopher Bidwell of the Federation of American Scientists, but enriching beyond that gets exponentially easier.

    “It’s more like you’re 70 percent there when you’re [at] 20 percent enrichment,” he said.

    Despite optimism from the negotiators over the latest plan to move forward, Iran’s supreme leader said Monday he was neither optimistic nor opposed to the talks.

    “What our foreign ministry and officials have started will continue, and Iran will not violate its (pledge),” said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, according to reports by IRNA, Iran’s official news agency. “But I say again that this is of no use and will not lead anywhere.”

    President Barack Obama has previously said chances of success for a final agreement were no more than 50-50.

    “I think [the president] is right,” Hibbs said. “That’s not an evasion tactic, that’s where things really are. There’s a lot of heavy lifting that needs to happen. It involves the Iranians admitting to disclosing activities that they so far refuse to do. They’re going to have to agree to essentially, significantly reduce the scope of their nuclear program. They haven’t agreed in public to do that yet.”

    But Christopher Bidwell, senior fellow for Nonproliferation Law and Policy for the Federation of American Scientists, says there’s hope.

    “The good news is that in 1978 you could fly direct to Tehran,” he said. “So there’s a history of good relations. That isn’t lost on people. Iran is not North Korea. It’s a country that trades, and many of its leaders were educated in the U.S. So there is some hope in that sense.”

    The post Taking apart Iran’s nuclear program appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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  • 02/21/14--13:34: Painted Bus
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  • 02/21/14--13:34: pakistan4
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    PBS NewsHour holds Twitter chats every Thursday. Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images

    PBS NewsHour holds Twitter chats every Thursday. This week, the topic focuses on cancer prevention. Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images

    Each year 318 out of every 100,000 people in the United States develop a form of cancer — the sixth highest rate in the world — according to the World Cancer Research Foundation.

    Beyond statistics, what do you need to know about the real risk of getting cancer?

    Join PBS NewsHour, the Mayo Clinic and the American Association of Cancer Research for a Twitter chat on Feb. 27, from 1 to 2 p.m. EST. Doctors Axel Grothey, Paul Limburg, Sandhya Pruthi and Stephanie Hines, along with psychologist Matthew Clark and Sheryl Ness, editor of the Mayo Clinic’s Living with Cancer blog, will take questions on cancer risks and prevention.

    Submit your questions in the comments section below or live during the chat on Twitter using the #newshourchats.

    The post Twitter Chat: What are some of the biggest risks for developing cancer? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Dogs' brains react to human voices in a very human way, a new study finds. Photo by Flickr user Pim Geerts

    Dogs’ brains react to human voices in a very human way, a new study finds. Photo by Flickr user Pim Geerts

    In a finding sure to delight many a dog lover, a study published Thursday suggests the brains of canines react to human voices in a very human-like way.

    The study, published in the journal Current Biology, was conducted by scientists at Eotvos University in Budapest and concluded that dogs’ brains contain a vocal region that functions similarly to the region located in the temporal lobe of human brains. In addition, the researchers found that vocal emotional cues activated a similarly located non-primary auditory region of the brain in both humans and canines.

    Translation? The next time you hear a pet owner say their beloved pooch can actually understand what they’re saying, they may be correct.

    The study placed 11 well-trained pups and 22 human subjects inside an MRI machine and measured the location and response characteristics of electrical impulses in their brains after playing an array of 200 different noises for them ranging from car sounds and whistles to human voices. The findings were striking.

    “We do know there are voice areas in humans, areas that respond more strongly to human sounds that any other types of sounds,” Dr. Attila Andics, the lead author of the study, explained to BBC. “The location (of the activity) in the dog brain is very similar to where we found it in the human brain. The fact that we found these areas exist at all in the dog brain is a surprise — it is the first time we have seen this in a non-primate.”

    Beyond simple vocal recognition and processing, the study confirmed something dog owners have long suspected: dogs can understand and react to human emotions.

    “We know very well that dogs are very good at tuning into the feelings of their owners,” said Andics, “and we know a good dog owner can detect emotional changes in his dog – but we now begin to understand why this can be.”

    Andics said this points to the ancient history between humans and dogs, and that the evolutionary origins of the species’ relationship may have even older origins than previously known.
    The study did note, however, that dogs respond much stronger to sounds from other dogs, and while they are able to recognize human voices, their ability to do so was still far less than in that of human brains. Andics also pointed out that the study was only of human sounds, not words, so dog lovers shouldn’t expect their faithful companions to understand every conversation they have around the house. Andics is planning future studies to study the effects of words on dogs’ brains.

    Still, the findings are particularly interesting when considered in conjunction with past studies on canine behavior. An Emory University study last October suggested that dogs really do have an emotional connection to their owners, and a Helsinki University study this past December showed that dogs can recognize familiar faces in much the same way humans do. And while Andics’ study comes with the caveat of only testing the dogs with human sounds and not words, dog lovers should consider this: in a 2008 National Geographic study, an Austrian Border Collie named Betsy was shown to be able to learn more than 300 separate words and commands.

    The next time a dog’s wagging tail cheers you up after a tough day, there might be more going on behind that furry face than you once thought.

    The post Dogs have special ability to react to human speech, study shows appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The U.S. flag flies over the Camp Delta maximum security area at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    The U.S. flag flies over the Camp Delta maximum security area at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    Five former Guantanamo Bay prisoners are seeking damages after years of alleged sexual, mental and physical abuse.

    According to AFP, the men from Turkey, Uzbekistan and Algeria have told an appeals court they were subjected to torture, including forced nudity, sexual harassment and beatings while imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

    “From their earliest interactions with US soldiers and interrogators, [the men] were subjected to physical, mental and religious abuse carried out by US soldiers and/or civilians who were under the command authority of officials in the Department of Defense,” said Russell Cohen, the group’s attorney.

    The US government, though, said neither American nor international laws apply in the case because the men are “non-resident aliens located outside United States sovereign territory.”

    Justices at the court likely won’t make a ruling for several weeks.

    During his January 28 State of the Union Address, President Obama renewed his push to close Guantanamo.

    “…With the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay – because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action, but by remaining true to our Constitutional ideals, and setting an example for the rest of the world.”-President Obama

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    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration says cuts to Medicare Advantage plans are on the table for next year.

    The private insurance alternative is popular with seniors, and the insurance industry is fighting back in an election year.

    The administration says costs per person in the private plans will grow more slowly in 2015. Analyst Matthew Eyles of Avalere Health estimates a reduction of 1.9 percent.

    The plans serve nearly 16 million people, about 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries.

    The administration says insurers don’t need to be paid as much to turn a profit, because the growth of health care spending has slowed dramatically.

    But insurers say they’ll be forced to pass on higher costs to seniors, and some plans may drop out.

    Final rates could change when they are released April 7.

    The post Popular Medicare Advantage plans could face cuts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A U.S. military review looked at the records of thousands of soldiers to find those overlooked for the Medal of Honor.  This medal was awarded posthumously to  Lt. Michael P. Murphy on October 2, 2007. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brandan W. Schulze/U.S. Navy

    A U.S. military review looked at the records of thousands of soldiers to find those overlooked for the Medal of Honor. This medal was awarded posthumously to Lt. Michael P. Murphy on October 2, 2007. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brandan W. Schulze/U.S. Navy

    WASHINGTON — Seeking to correct potential acts of bias spanning three wars, President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans following a congressionally mandated review to ensure that eligible recipients were not bypassed due to prejudice.

    The unusual mass ceremony, scheduled for March 18, will honor veterans, most of Hispanic or Jewish heritage, who had already been recognized with the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest military award. Only three of the recipients are living.

    The Army conducted the review under a directive from Congress in the 2002 National Defense Authorization Act. The law required that the record of each Jewish American and Hispanic American veteran who received a Service Cross during or after World War II be reviewed for possible upgrade to the Medal of Honor.

    The Pentagon said the Army reviewed the cases of the 6,505 recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars and found an eligible pool of 600 soldiers who may have been Jewish or Hispanic. The Army also worked with the National Museum of American Jewish Military History, the Jewish War Veterans of the USA and the American GI Forum, the largest Hispanic-American veterans group, to pinpoint potential medal recipients.

    Of the 24, eight fought in the Vietnam War, nine in the Korean War and seven in World War II.

    The three living recipients are all veterans of the Vietnam War:

    • Spec. 4 Santiago J. Erevia of San Antonio, for courage during a search and clear mission near Tam Ky, South Vietnam, on May 21, 1969.
    • Staff Sgt. Melvin Morris of Cocoa, Fla., for courageous actions during combat operations in the vicinity of Chi Lang, South Vietnam, on Sept 17, 1969.
    • Sgt. 1st Class Jose Rodela of San Antonio for courage during combat operations in Phuoc Long province in South Vietnam on Sept. 1, 1969.

    The post Obama to award medal of honor to 24 overlooked veterans appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mikaela Shiffrin skis the giant slalom at Sochi on Friday. Photo by Simon Bruty /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ukraine pulled back from the brink just a bit today. The pro-Russian president reached agreement with pro-Western opposition leaders to limit his power and speed up elections. Protesters are supposed to disarm and withdraw, but it’s far from clear they will, after scores were killed and hundreds wounded this week.

    James Mates of Independent Television News filed this report.

    JAMES MATES: Independence Square in Kiev for once at a standstill, the only sound the chanting of priests, as the coffins of three of yesterday’s dead are ceremonially hoist above the crowd.

    The death of so many for their cause is making it extremely difficult for those who live to settle for anything less than total victory. The deal that was signed today by embattled President Yanukovych, opposition leaders and two European foreign ministers is less than total victory.

    It’s a compromise that will see a new constitution and fresh elections later this year. The foreign ministers of Germany and Poland have shuttled between the sites for almost 24 hours. Poland’s Radoslaw Sikorski was overheard warning the most hard-line protesters that there will be terrible consequences if this didn’t end.

    RADOSLAW SIKORSKI, Foreign Minister, Poland: I hope — I hope that I’m wrong. If you don’t support this, you will have martial law, the army. You will all be dead.

    JAMES MATES: A potent warning from a man who himself had fled martial law in Poland in the early ’80s. He later confirmed to me he had been deadly serious.

    You were overheard warning them of the possibility of martial law if they didn’t accept the deal. Was the — is that a serious threat? Do think there was a real possibility that the army could have been sent in?

    RADOSLAW SIKORSKI: To my knowledge, the interior troops were being readied.

    JAMES MATES: They stepped back from the brink is what you’re saying?

    RADOSLAW SIKORSKI: Well, as you can, it’s almost miraculous. Within minutes of the agreement being signed, the riot police are leaving.

    JAMES MATES: And, indeed, the police were everywhere heading back to barracks. This morning they had ringed the country’s parliament. An hour or so later, there wasn’t a sign.

    And the only police near Independence Square today were a group of 40 who had deserted their posts in the western city of Lviv and traveled here to join the protests. Little wonder perhaps that some protest leaders have no time for compromise want the president both out of office and on trial.

    YAROSLAV KUCHER, Protest Leader: Yanukovych, go away from Ukraine. You are not the president here now. Your hands are in blood.

    JAMES MATES: That is a sentiment you hear in every corner of the square. They don’t seem to be about to return to their homes, leaving behind them the shrines to their dead. There is a deal. The deal may in time bring this crisis to an end, but that is not a certainty.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Later in the day, Ukraine’s Parliament voted for the release of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko from prison. She’s a major rival of President Yanukovych.

    In Washington, White House officials welcomed the turn of affairs and said President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation by phone. We will return to Ukraine right after the news summary.

    In Moscow, eight Russians were convicted today of rioting at a 2012 protest against President Putin. Opponents called it a show trial, and outside the courthouse, police waded into a crowd that had gathered in support of the protesters. More than 200 people were arrested and carried off to waiting buses. The judge postponed sentencing for the eight defendants until Monday, after the Olympic Games conclude in Sochi, Russia.

    As for the competition at the Olympics, a spoiler alert: Tune out for a moment, if you don’t want to know the results just yet. In men’s hockey, Canada beat the U.S. 1-0, and plays Sweden on Sunday for the gold medal. Canadian men also won gold in the curling competition. And 18-year old American Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest ever gold medalist in Olympic slalom skiing.

    In Somalia, the presidential palace came under attack today by Islamist militants linked to al-Qaida. A car bomb exploded at the compound in Mogadishu, and Al-Shabab gunmen then opened fire on the guards. When it was over, the site was strewn with wreckage. But the security minister said the president was unharmed and the militants were dead.

    ABDIKARIM HUSSEIN, SSecurity Minister, Somalia (through interpreter): The attack was carried out by nine men equipped with machine guns. Seven of the nine men were shot dead by the security forces after a brief face-to-face fight, and the other two were driving the vehicles which exploded.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: This was the latest in a series of recent attacks by Al-Shabab. The group had been ousted from Mogadishu in 2011.

    A federal judge has ruled the New York City Police Department’s surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey was legal. The NYPD was accused of spying on mosques, restaurants and schools in the state since 2002. The judge ruled the operation was a legal effort to prevent terrorism and that it didn’t violate civil rights.

    Arizona could become the first state to let businesses refuse service to gays on religious grounds. State lawmakers approved it last night. Supporters cited the example of wedding photographers who decline to work at gay ceremonies. Gay rights advocates warned the bill amounts to a license to discriminate. Governor Jan Brewer has not indicated whether she will sign it.

    President Obama held a private meeting with the Dalai Lama today, over strong objections from China. Beijing has accused the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader of inciting violence in his quest for an independent Tibet, a charge he’s long denied.

    Today, the Chinese denounced his White House visit.

    HUA CHUNYING, Spokeswoman, Chinese Foreign Ministry (through interpreter): The Dalai Lama is a political exile who has long used the cloak of religion to engage in anti-China separatist activities. The meeting is a gross interference in China’s internal affairs and a serious violation of the norms of international relations. It will also seriously damage China-U.S. relations.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The meeting was closed to the press and the Dalai Lama left later without speaking to reporters.

    The bankrupt city of Detroit filed its plan today on how to restructure its $18 billion of debt. It calls for slashing monthly pensions for general retirees by 34 percent, cutting pensions for retired police and firefighters by 10 percent, and offering bondholders about 20 percent of what they’re owed. The plan is subject to approval by a federal bankruptcy judge.

    The nation’s railroads will adopt voluntary standards for hauling crude oil after a series of deadly accidents. The Associated Press reports the industry has agreed on slower speeds for oil trains in major cities and increased inspections, among other things. The number of tanker cars carrying crude has risen 40-fold since 2008.

    Mortgage giant Fannie Mae reports that it’s ready to finish paying back its entire federal bailout. The company will send a dividend of $7.2 billion to the U.S. Treasury next month. Added to what it’s already paid, that will more than cover the $116 billion it received in 2008. Smaller sibling Freddie Mac has also fully repaid its bailout. The two agencies own or guarantee half of all U.S. mortgages.

    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost almost 30 points to close at 16,103. The Nasdaq fell four points to close at 4,263. For the week, the Dow lost three-tenths of a percent; the Nasdaq rose half-a-percent.

    The post News Wrap: U.S. skier Shiffrin, 18, becomes youngest to win slalom gold appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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