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


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)
Loading...

More Channels


Showcase


Channel Catalog


Loading...

Channel Description:

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

older | 1 | .... | 460 | 461 | (Page 462) | 463 | 464 | .... | 1175 | newer

    0 0

    A sign taped inside a community center notifies people in Onondaga, New York, where voting will take place during a midterm election. Photo courtesy of Flickr/DemocracyInAction2011

    A sign taped inside a community center notifies people in Onondaga, New York, where voting will take place during a midterm election. Photo courtesy of Flickr/DemocracyInAction2011

    The upcoming 2014 midterm elections could result in a power shift on Capitol Hill. The struggle for a majority is being fueled by what some estimate could be record-breaking outside spending. Could Republicans gain control of the Senate? Could a two-term presidency hurt Democrats in the House of Representatives? So much for the idea that midterm elections are a sleepy affair. Before it is time to cast your ballot on Nov. 4, take our quiz and see how much you know about the contest and candidates.

    The post Quiz: How much do you know about the 2014 midterm elections? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Hill Street Studios/Getty Images

    200,000 registered voters don’t have a driver’s license

    Editor’s Note: In recent years, a spate of states have passed laws requiring voters to show identification before casting a ballot. Supporters of these measures say they prevent voter fraud; opponents say they disenfranchise minorities, students, and urban and older voters who are less likely to have state-issued IDs such as driver’s licenses. Matt Laslo of Virginia Public Radio reports that the new law in Virginia has voting rights advocates scrambling.

    Virginia’s new voter ID law has Virginia Democrats worried after the state board of elections found nearly 200,000 registered voters don’t have a driver’s license.

    Back in 2013 when Virginia and a string of other Republican controlled state legislatures were pushing forward with new voter ID laws, Attorney General Eric Holder likened the laws to “poll taxes” and promised an NAACP audience the government would protect minorities.

    “In our efforts to protect voting rights and to prevent voter fraud, we will be vigilant and we will be strong. But let me be clear … we will not allow political pretext to disenfranchise American citizens of their most basic right.”

    Virginia Democrats worry that’s what’s happening now. The State Board of Elections reports 198,000 registered voters don’t own a driver’s license. Robert Dempsey, the executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, says many of those are minorities and elderly voters. He says that’s changing their get out the vote strategy.

    “We are incorporating that into our phone calls and our direct voter contact programs. It’s just one more thing to be considerate of, so we are targeting those voters who we feel might need that extra reminder, a little bit more push now with the ID law.”

    Other forms of ID are acceptable, including passports and student IDs from Virginia institutions, though Dempsey worries people may not know that.

    “I am concerned that there is some misinformation out there, also just a perception about what the law indicates. And so we are concerned that might actually keep some people away.”

    This will be the first election with the new law in place. Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee. He says it’s a welcome change.

    “There is a serious problem with voter fraud across our country. Just recently it was discovered that over 160 people had voted both in Maryland and Virginia in the last election. Voted in both states, in violation of the law.”

    Those cases are still under investigation, but Goodlatte says the new law will help instill public trust in the system.

    “I think this will be a great thing in building the public’s trust in our election laws, which are really vitally important. Voting is one of the most important things one can do to protect our representative democracy.”

    Voters who don’t have a proper ID on Election Day can fill out a provisional ballot. The state is also issuing free voter IDs to people who can prove their eligibility to their local registrar. That’s why Garren Shipley, communications director for the Republican Party for Virginia, says Democrats are making much ado about nothing.

    “The burden here is so minimal in exchange for the certainty that comes with knowing that the person who shows up at the pole is who they say they are. There are instances of voter fraud out there and each one of those is a serious crime. Every vote that’s cast fraudulently disenfranchises someone’s vote who was cast legally.”

    Still, Dempsey of the Democratic Party, says any additional barrier to voting is antithetical to the Constitutional guarantee of the right to vote.

    “This law is very unnecessary and it is very unfortunate. It just presents one more hurdle for folks to vote. What we are advocating is accessibility to the polls and we do not feel that this does anything to make voting any easier of a process.”

    The election is now less than a month away and while candidates are criss-crossing the state making their pitches to voters, their campaign staffs are making another appeal to voters: check that you have the right form of ID in hand before heading to a voting booth on November 4.

    The post Voter ID law has Virginia Democrats scrambling appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    George Washington isn’t the sexiest of American presidents in our public imagination, nor the most accessible. Perhaps we are all too weighed down by the “father of his country” image, the cherry tree myth, his powdered wig and bone-and-ivory (no, not wooden) teeth.

    But historian Aaron David Miller argues in his new book, “The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President,” that of the three undeniable “greats,” Washington actually had the hardest job.

    Harder than Abraham Lincoln, who had to steer his nation through its Civil War? Harder than Franklin Roosevelt, who had to tame the Great Depression and wage World War II?

    Yes, said Miller in our interview — because unlike Lincoln and Roosevelt, Washington didn’t even inherit a real nation. “He had no predecessor, he had no established country. He said himself, ‘I trod unproven ground.’”

    Miller’s book expands further. “Even in extremely threatening circumstances, Lincoln and certainly Roosevelt had inherited an established country to govern,” he writes. But in Washington’s case, “America had yet to demonstrate it could exist and function as a unified polity … Having won independence, Washington was now expected to help create a nation de novo — a republic, no less, for which there was no real precedent — and to fashion it out of a group of former colonies lacking a strong center and without a tradition of central authority.”

    Washington had a “conviction that the early Republic needed a strong central authority,” but that wasn’t easy to fashion in a post-colonial climate of deep public suspicion on any such authority.

    How did Washington do it? “I call it ‘presidential improv,’” Miller told me. “He was making up a lot of it as he went along.”

    Watch the PBS NewsHour tonight to hear Margaret’s full conversation with Aaron David Miller.

    The post Why Washington — not Lincoln or FDR — had the hardest job of any U.S. president appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Farmer Paul Schlagel grows genetically modified sugar beets outside Longmont, Colorado. Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

    Farmer Paul Schlagel grows genetically modified sugar beets outside Longmont, Colorado.
    Photo by / KUNC and Harvest Public Media.

    Editor’s Note: With a month left before the Nov. 4 general election, voters in Colorado and Oregon are considering a measure requiring the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients (GMOs). Proponents of these laws say consumers have a right to know what’s in their food. Opponents believe labeling laws will cause hardship for those who grow and sell GMO crops and derived products. It’s a ballot issue inspiring strong emotion – and large campaign donations – from both camps. For KUNC and Harvest Public Media, Luke Runyon explores the science, politics, and personal concerns motivating this debate.

    At a west Denver grocery store, Ben Hamilton says he puts a lot of weight on food package labels.

    “I am a label reader,” says Hamilton, a human resources consultant. “I think a lot of people read labels and are curious.”

    That means gravitating toward organic options and scanning nutritional facts. But Hamilton says he wants more information, specifically whether or not the food he’s about to buy includes a genetically modified ingredient.

    Before the current run-up to November, Hamilton and 19 other voters in Colorado sat on a citizen review panel tasked with hearing from both sides. At the end of three days of debate, the group wrote up their conclusions and took a straw vote. The panel voted 11 to nine in favor of labels. Hamilton’s “yes” vote is right in line with consumer groups that say GMOs come with too many unanswered questions.

    “I think this boils down to a consumer’s right to know,” Hamilton says. “So it’s not to debate whether GMOs are safe or they’re good for you or bad for you. But it is about a right to know what’s in our food supply.”

    Denver resident Ben Hamilton sat on a citizen panel tasked with writing a report on proposition 105, which would require the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. Photo courtesy of Luke Runyon, KUNC and Harvest Public Media.

    Denver resident Ben Hamilton sat on a citizen panel tasked with writing a report on proposition 105, which would require the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. Photo by Luke Runyon/KUNC and Harvest Public Media.

    Efforts to pass labeling laws through ballot initiatives in other states have been unsuccessful. Similar measures failed in California and Washington state. Vermont is being sued for the labeling law it enacted earlier in 2014.

    Oregon voters will also be voting on GMO labeling in this election. Like Colorado, there was a similar citizen review panel. Ernest Estes, a Portland lawyer who sat on that panel has his doubts.

    “I’m not convinced we need it at this point,” Estes says. “And I’m not sure it does much for Oregonians.”

    Estes wasn’t alone in that sentiment. The citizen panel in Oregon also voted 11 to nine, but in the opposite direction as the Colorado panel. They turned down the labeling proposal.

    “If there is little to no risk to the public,” Estes says. “I’m not sure the government should be in the role of requiring things like this.”

    Current science hasn’t found adverse health effects from humans eating genetically modified foods. That’s supported by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the World Health Organization. Many scientists, including the board of directors of the AAAS, say labeling initiatives are being driven by misconceptions about genetically modified crops being unnatural or untested.

    As it’s written, the Colorado labeling proposal includes a bevy of exemptions. The meat from a cow that’s fed GMO corn and hay won’t be labeled. Neither will dairy products, chewing gum, alcohol and pet food. Colorado Right To Know leader Larry Cooper, who spearheaded the signature gathering campaign to get the issue on the ballot, says the proposal had to be narrowly written.

    “We had to be very careful what subjects we put in the ballot. Yes, we’ve eliminated some specific areas, but certainly they can be added later,” Cooper says.

    Even with narrower language, lawsuits are likely inevitable if it passes, like in Vermont. Legal experts say to expect even more legal wrangling over labeling as more states look to add to the national patchwork of GMO laws.

    “When you’re compelling a business to say something or a producer to say something, there has to be some governmental interest. There has to be a substantial government interest,” says Justin Marceau, a University of Denver constitutional law professor.

    The proposals in Oregon and Colorado bring up thorny constitutional issues about free speech and commerce, Marceau says. If a GMO labeling law makes it all the way to the Supreme Court, and opponents are unable to prove genetically modified food is harmful, Marceau says the law would be in jeopardy for violations of the First Amendment and Commerce Clause.

    “Why do we need this information? If it’s idle curiosity that we’re all just really curious about what’s in our food, that might not be good enough. If it is GMOs are harmful, then that’s a different matter,” Marceau says.

    GMO labeling would undoubtedly have economic implications. Opponents of the measure say implementation of the new labels could raise the average family’s food bill by several hundred dollars per year. Labeling proponents say those figures are blown out of proportion.

    Farmer Paul Schlagel says he’s sympathetic to curious consumers who want to know how their food is grown, but GMO labels are too far down that rabbit hole. He grows genetically engineered sugar beets outside Longmont, Colorado. The sweet tasting beets are turned into granulated sugar at a nearby plant.

    Nearly 50 percent of the nation's sugar comes from sugar beets, which resemble turnips with their white, fleshy roots. This sugar beet has been genetically modified to withstand the herbicide glyphosate. Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

    Nearly 50 percent of the nation’s sugar comes from sugar beets, which resemble turnips with their white, fleshy roots. This sugar beet has been genetically modified to withstand the herbicide glyphosate. Photo by Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media.

    “When you process the sugar beets, there’s no GE material in the sugar. The sugar is identical to conventionally grown sugar, sugar cane, even organic sugar,” Schlagel says.

    Schlagel’s beets are Roundup Ready, meaning the plant’s DNA has been altered to withstand applications of the herbicide glyphosate, though the particular gene that allows for the resistance isn’t present after the fleshy beet root is processed into sugar. If Proposition 105 passes though, the sugar that’s grown on his farm will bear a label saying it was genetically engineered.

    “It’s just misinformation. It’s misleading. Prop 105 is a mistake and I hope the consumers can figure that out,” Schlagel says.

    Both Colorado and Oregon consumers will have a chance to make their voices heard at the ballot box in November. And with more states taking up proposals, the national debate about GMO labeling is far from over.

    The post No matter how Colorado votes, GMO labeling debate far from over appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    aiweiwei2

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight:  A world-renowned artist barred from leaving his home country of China explores the idea of freedom in a new exhibit in America’s most notorious prison.

    San Francisco Public Media KQED’s Mina Kim’s takes us behind the scenes.

    MINA KIM: So much about this exhibit is different, beginning with how you get there, by ferry to an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Most of these passengers are going to tour the legendary former prison Alcatraz.

    Within its crumbling walls, they may stumble upon seven new works by superstar artist and Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei. We came to see the process of installing one of the exhibits.

    And this exhibit with the kites will take up an entire space?   

    CHERYL HAINES, FOR-SITE Foundation: An entire space. There are more than 100 kites that comprise the body of the dragon.

    MINA KIM: Exhibit curator Cheryl Haines dreamed up the idea of bringing Ai’s art to Alcatraz three years ago. The artist had just been released from an 81-day detention by Chinese authorities for alleged tax evasion. Ai’s supporters say it was more about suppressing his relentless criticism of China’s government.

    CHERYL HAINES: I mean, really, one of the baseline concepts of this exhibition is, what is freedom? And as you walk through the various works, you will get a sense that this is a very central theme, very important idea that he is addressing here.

    MINA KIM: Ai has been unable to leave China since 2011, after authorities confiscated his passport.

    Finding freedom within constraints is a worthy challenge, Ai said from his Beijing studio. Still, his inability to leave the country is hard.

    AI WEIWEI, (through interpreter): For an artist to be unable to see the venue and to be unable to interact with the audience, if I had to imagine the toughest restriction of an exhibition, that would be it.

    MINA KIM: Ai Weiwei conveys the situation in this giant dragon kite installed inside a prison where prisoners once laundered uniforms for the army.

    CHERYL HAINES: It will be suspended above the viewer. It will be flying. It will be free, but it’s also restricted within the building, so this is a really interesting conversation between control and freedom.

    HOWARD LEVITT, National Park Service: But what does it mean to be in prison? What is a prison?

    MINA KIM: So much about this exhibit is different, beginning with how you get there.

    HOWARD LEVITT: For most visitors to Alcatraz, this is probably the only prison they are ever going to be close to. And so what thoughts are evoked when they come to a prison? And we felt that the Ai Weiwei exhibition would be an opportunity for visitors to explore those thoughts a little bit.

    MINA KIM: The Park Service had to seek clearing from the U.S. State Department to host one of the most vocal critics of China’s government on federal land.

    The challenges of bringing the work to Alcatraz only add to the intrigue. The entire island is a historical site without a power grid or a freshwater source.

    AI WEIWEI (through interpreter): We basically cannot touch the walls. We cannot touch anything. We cannot add anything. It’s a hanging installation. Like the prisoners themselves, it is only there for a period of time.

    MINA KIM: This piece was shipped by barge, then pushed up a 13-story hill. The five-ton transforms solar collectors from Tibet into a massive bird’s nest.

    Some of Alcatraz’s best-known prisoners include Chicago gangster Al Capone or the Anglin brothers, who plotted a daring escape. Less known are the political prisoners held on the island during the time Alcatraz was a military prison.

    Nicki Phelps oversees visitor programs at Alcatraz.

    NICKI PHELPS, Golden Gates National Parks Conservancy: During the military prison era, around 18925, there was a group of Hopi Indian elders that were brought to Alcatraz because they had refused to send their children to school under the Army’s direction. They wanted to raise their children in the Hopi tradition.

    MINA KIM: Ai references that history in the sound installation. A Hopi chant echoes against the walls of a former psychiatric observation cell.

    Here, a row of decaying cells is the setting for the poetry and music of people imprisoned around the world for expressing their beliefs, the late musician Fela Kuti, who decried police repression in Nigeria, and feminist rockers Pussy Riot, who criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    In a piece titled “Trace,” the faces of more than 175 dissidents are fashioned in LEGOs. Many are largely unknown. Ai wants to make them familiar.

    CHERYL HAINES: And to have the opportunity to find out more about their lives and their personal stories has been deeply enriching.

    MINA KIM: The exhibit includes biographies of these men and women being held in the Middle East, Africa, Asia.

    And there’s Edward Snowden, wanted for leaking U.S. classified documents. Some consider him a patriot, others a traitor. Here, visitors are being asked to write pre-addressed postcards who exiles and people Ai deems prisoners of conscience.

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Chad Coerver says Ai walks a fine line.

    CHAD COERVER, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: There’s a huge debate in the art world about exactly who Ai Weiwei is, in the sense that there’s the folks in the art world are deeply concerned that he’s too much of an activist and not enough of an artist. The folks in the activist world think that he’s too much of an artist and not an activist.

    MINA KIM: There’s no doubt that Ai benefits by being both. His activism has given him a stardom that few other artists enjoy. His artwork is in high demand and a staff of dozens implement his ideas.

    But will Ai’s work effect change?

    CHAD COERVER: Art done well has the ability to communicate viscerally issues that — or to snake its way into us through beauty or through the way we view it that a stray demonstration or a poster would never achieve.

    MINA KIM: The show runs until the April 26.

     

    The post Artist Ai Weiwei explores definition of freedom at Alcatraz appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    Photo by Flickr user Tequiua. Photo by Flickr user Tequiua.

    Editor’s Note from Paul Solman: One of the most exciting developments in economics in recent years has been its conjunction with psychology. What do we really want? How might we behave in what’s truly our own best interest?

    These are questions we’ve explored on Making Sen$e with, among others, Dan Ariely of Duke, Jerome Kagan of Harvard, Jeremy Bailenson of Stanford University’s Virtual Reality Lab, and Grover of Sesame St., to whom we administered the fabled “Marshmallow Test”: could he hold off eating just one marshmallow long enough to earn a second as well?

    Now comes an essential book on the subject of gratification delay by the father of the Marshmallow Test, Columbia University psychologist Walter Mischel: “The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self Control.” Our interview with him, posted as part 1 today and part 2 tomorrow, is — how to put this emphatically enough? — well worth delaying other gratifications to read.

    The Marshmallow TestPS: Let’s start with some of the basics. I read the interview that the woman at The Atlantic did with you, and I was so struck by the fact that what she was mainly concerned about was that her child had, and I use the term in quotes, “failed the marshmallow test.”

    WM: She is representative of so many parents.

    PS: So what’s going on there?

    WM: The unfortunate interpretation that’s been made of the research, which I must say the media have helped to create, is that your future and your destiny are in a marshmallow, which in turn translates into the widespread belief, I think, in the genes. And I think both of those are really deep misunderstandings that have very serious negative consequences for how we think about self-control.

    From my point of view, the marshmallow studies over all these years have shown of course genes are important, of course the DNA is important, but what gets activated and what doesn’t get activated in this library-like genome that we’ve got depends enormously on the environment. And what we as individuals do and think and experience, and the stress levels we encounter, the stuff we smoke, the toxins we inhale, and the things we do and feel — the way we manage our emotions, the way we regulate our lives — enormously influences how the DNA plays out.

    The good news in this is really that human beings potentially have much better potential for regulating how their lives play out than has been typically recognized in the old traditional trait series that willpower is some generalized trait that you’ve either got or you don’t and that there’s very little you can do about it. The research shows there’s a great deal you can do about it; there’s a great deal that is being done about it in many kinds of — not only experiments, but school programs, pre-school programs, and so on. I think that the evidence that self-control skills are highly protective is, to me, much more interesting that the evidence that extreme differences in high self-control versus low self-control play out in different kinds of minds in different degrees of efficacy and success.

    PS: But the New Zealand study, for example, which is not subject to the criticisms sometimes leveled at your studies, which is that your sample is too small (because they’re talking about 10,000 people or more followed longitudinally where you had fewer than 100 that you followed for 30 years) …

    WM: Actually, by now, it’s over the course of 40 years … and it actually is a bit over 100. And it, of course, depends. There’s no question that the sample becomes increasingly selective. That sample in itself, I think, is open to lots of loose interpretation because, to me, Paul, the amazing thing is that they found any long-term differences in a sample that began with such enormous homogeneity. All of those kids were essentially white kids from an elite university — either the children of Stanford faculty or the children of Stanford graduate students in which the conversation scene in kindergarten between kids was about things like, “What area did your father get his Nobel prize in?”

    PS: But doesn’t that imply your results, and the much larger sample results from New Zealand, that there is a significant genetic factor? I’ve corresponded with psychologist and behavioral economist George Ainslie about your work and the New Zealand study, and he, for example, thinks it’s entirely plausible — not demonstrated — but plausible that there is a self-control trait (not to say “gene,” but “trait”) that, all else equal, is predictive of, among other things, and of particular interest to me, the ability to save and plan and prosper financially in the future.

    WM: I have several comments on that. I don’t think there’s any question that genetics are enormously important. But I think that what the research, for me, over the years has shown is that whether we call it willpower or whether we call it the ability to delay gratification, what’s involved is really a set of cognitive skills for which the current label is “executive control” or “executive function.”

    And what executive control fundamentally involves is the activation of the areas in the pre-frontal cortex (the attention control areas) that allow you to do really three things: to keep a goal in mind (I want those two marshmallows or two cookies), to inhibit interfering responses (so I have to suppress “hot” responses, for example, thinking about how yummy and chewy and delicious the marshmallow is going to be), and have to instead do the third thing, which is to use those attention-regulating areas in the prefrontal cortex to both monitor my progress toward that delayed goal, and to use my imagination and my attention control skills to do whatever it takes to make that journey easier, which we can see illustrated beautifully in any video that I can show you of how the kids really manage to transform the situation from one that is unbearably effortful to one that’s quite easy. They throw off their sandals and turn their toes into piano keys in their imagination and play them and sing little songs and give themselves self-instruction, so that they’re doing psychological distancing to push the stuff that’s fun (the treats and the temptations) as far from themselves as they can.

    To me, the interesting thing about the marshmallow study is not so much the long-term correlation as is what we discover when we look at what those kids are doing and what the parallels are that we can do when dealing with retirement planning or with giving up tobacco and so on.

    PS: So even Ainslie’s argument about hyperbolic discounting and that you have multiple selves battling against one another — even that involves the executive function, if you will, some role for the prefrontal cortex that then inculcates habits, or strategies that can become habits, like the playing of your toes, that will affect your behavior regardless of your predisposition to wait.

    WM: I think that’s putting it very well, yes. As you know, the point of the marshmallow studies is, after you’ve made the choice, and you’re in the restaurant and you’re facing the dessert tray that the waiter is flashing in front of you, and you’ve gone into the restaurant with the resolution “no dessert tonight,” what happens when you actually see the stuff?

    I’m right now in the midst of a very interesting collaboration with David Laibson, the economist at Harvard, where our teams are working on that Stanford sample doing a very rigorous, and very well designed and very well controlled study to see what the economic outcomes are for the consistently high-delay versus the consistently low-delay group.

    PS: So explain what it is exactly you’re doing with Laibson’s team?

    WM: Well, what we’ve done is used very complete and rigorous measures that David’s team came up with of the wealth, of the credit card debt, of the endless stuff that economists love about their financial situations.

    I keep reminding myself of the extraordinary nature of finding differences in this sample, where, when we’re talking about educational level, for like 500 kids (which is a large sample in psychology), in that whole bunch of kids, we found, I think, three who didn’t complete college, and they probably went on to start Microsoft or something! So when we’re talking about educational outcomes, we’re talking about how many advanced degrees they got.

    That’s why I have been both fascinated by getting any long-term results here, and why I moved from Stanford to Columbia, in New York City, where I’m sitting on the edge of the South Bronx. I came, originally, with the idea of doing studies in the South Bronx – not in Riverdale – but in some of the most impoverished and stressed areas, where we find very interesting parallel results. And to me, the most interesting thing in the Bronx studies – and we’ve had them repeated now in areas of Oakland, California – what’s much more interesting than the predictive effects of the correlations of these relatively small samples is the protective effects, by which I mean that kids, for example, who are severely predisposed to aggression and to violence and to acting out, if they have self-control skills — that is, if they wait longer for more m&m’s later rather than just a few now — the level of aggression that they have is much less. They’re still aggressive, but they don’t hit the counselor over the head with a flashlight and give her a concussion.

    PS: So to you, what that says is not that there’s this genetic endowment – people are stuck with it and there’s nothing you can do – it’s just the opposite.

    “The problem here is that we’ve got economic advisers in the White House, but we don’t have psychology advisers.”

    WM: Exactly right. It means that no matter what the DNA lottery has dealt them, people have a hell of a lot more choice and freedom if we can reduce their stress levels and if we can give them access to the kinds of skills and the kind of mental transformations that let them think differently about delayed and immediate outcomes, their temptations, their own dispositions and so on. That’s why I think both the philosophical and the policy implications are profound. I’m meeting this month with people from the British cabinet in London who worry about this kind of stuff. The problem here is that we’ve got economic advisers in the White House, but we don’t have psychology advisers.

    Editor’s Note: Find the continuation of Paul’s conversation with Walter on Making Sen$e Thursday.

    The post What the marshmallow test really tells us appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    nova_planes

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Now: the continuing search for a missing jetliner that captured the attention of the world.

    More than six months ago, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 mysteriously disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, triggering a massive search. The plane was thought to have crashed somewhere in or near the Southern Indian Ocean with 239 people on board. A nearly two-month-long search for wreckage and clues proved futile, yielding no definitive answers about just what happened to the plane. It’s been months, but now the search is back on.

    Jeffrey Brown has more.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The break gave investigators time to create a kind of map of the understood water seabed, and the search resumed on Monday. Three ships will be involved in this next phase, which could last as long as a year.

    Last spring, ships and planes from 14 countries served vast areas of the South China Sea and other regions.

    Tonight’s “NOVA” focuses on the continuing investigation and many questions that remain and the technology of tracking planes.

    Our science correspondent, Miles O’Brien, is the producer and reporter for the report titled “Why Planes Vanish” and he joins me from Boston.

    So, Miles, as the search restarts, where do things stand? What exactly are they focused on now?

    MILES O’BRIEN: Well, they’re focused on a very big area.

    And, Jeff, it’s hard not to say that we’re sort of still at square one on this one. And that’s an amazing thing to say so many months after the loss of MH370. The search zone has been defined by some ingenious mathematics. Essentially, engineers in this company Inmarsat, which operates communications satellites, which was part of what was equipped on MH370, were able to turn a communications capability into a positioning tool and were able to define this location in the Southern Indian Ocean as a search zone for the flight, which flew on seven hours after it disappeared from radar screens.

    But we know it’s in that hemisphere by virtue of this mathematics, but it’s in a very, very big region, a big swathe. They can’t define a bullseye. So we have got to be ready for a long search here.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So the mystery of where it is, but still the mystery of what happened. And I know your documentary is looking at various possibilities of what might have happened, from accident to human intervention.

    How much — where — is the evidence pointing in any particular way at this point?

    MILES O’BRIEN: Well, first of all, let’s just say I wouldn’t take anything off the table yet.

    All the scenarios that you have heard and discussed are still in play, as far as I’m concerned. It’s very difficult, however, to walk away from a scenario that doesn’t involve some sort of deliberate action, a human hand being involved in some way.

    After it fell off the radar screens, it made a 180-degree turn back toward the Malaysian Peninsula. The plane then took a right turn, and threaded the needle between airspace between Indonesia and Malaysia, and then flew up off the radar screens, literally, off of primary radar screens, at the northern tip of Indonesia, in Banda Aceh.

    That route doesn’t bespeak a plane that is crippled and the crew is unable to communicate, or a ghost plane, if you will. That tells me somebody was manipulating controls. But what was happening beyond that is difficult to say.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, bringing this story forward, you’re — you’re looking at what can be done to better track planes now and in the future.

    We have a clip from the film on — it’s on the technology called NextGen. Let’s look at that.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Here, they’re using a technology called Automatic Dependence Surveillance Broadcast, or ADSB.

    It is the keystone component of NextGen. An aircraft outfitted with this system determines location using GPS and transmits that data back to controllers very radio, which has a greater range than radar. But, still, when an aircraft flies over the ocean, it will be out of range.

    So the industry is testing a space-based system where planes would report to locations via satellite wherever they are in the world. There are numerous technical details that need to be worked out, but ADSB could eventually make blind spots a thing of the past.

    MAN: We have currently one aircraft under ADSB coverage at the moment. This is a United flight from Chicago going to Beijing.

    MILES O’BRIEN: The aircraft depicted in white is using ADSB to broadcast its exact GPS location automatically once a second.

    MAN: We see the aircraft. We know it’s there. We know exactly where the aircraft is at all times.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You refer there to technical details to be worked out. I know another barrier to something like that has been cost. How near or far are we from a technology like that to track planes in the future?

    MILES O’BRIEN: Well, it’s a problem. It’s taken a long time. The FAA rollout of next generation technology has been slow and has been criticized for being poorly funded and not implemented well.

    It needs to happen. I mean, Jeff, we’re — it’s the 21st century, and we’re relying on 1940s technology to track airplanes, radar, which has a range of 200 miles, and that’s it. Only 2 percent of the surface of the Earth is covered by radar.

    So we have satellites that can do this. The technology is off the shelf. It’s just a matter of forcing the regulators to move quickly, funding it properly, and insisting that the airlines equip their airplanes with this. And it’s difficult. The airline business is a tough business. And the airlines don’t want to put this investment into this sort of technology unless they have to, frankly.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, you know, there are so many pieces to this story. And I wonder, as you went back to look at it all, what jumped out at you as most interesting or surprising or is still sticking with you?

    MILES O’BRIEN: Well, it’s astonishing to me, number one, that an airliner could vanish in this day and age. It’s astonishing.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That’s — even just that, that gripped everybody for so long, that has — that’s never gone away, right?

    MILES O’BRIEN: Yes. And I can’t — I can’t get out of my head, Jeff, that after all these months, seven months, we haven’t seen a seat cushion, a flight magazine or a shoe that has been floating in the ocean as some evidence that there is, in fact, wreckage out there.

    You know, when Air France 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, they ultimately picked up 3,000 pieces of floating debris in the ocean. So when planes go into the ocean, it’s not like they just go in cleanly and disappear that way. There would be something floating.

    So where is it? And I’m mystified at that. And I remain — I walked in thinking I was going to have an answer to where this plane is, and I walked away still wondering.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Do you think it will be solved eventually?

    MILES O’BRIEN: I don’t think they will stop looking. They can’t. It’s a huge, huge region.

    We’re going to have to be very patient. Here’s my worry, though. When they find the black boxes, and they will one day, when they find those black boxes, it may not answer the mystery. If it shows it was a perfectly good operating aircraft that ran out of fuel, and you have a cockpit voice recorder that is silent, what has that told you? You don’t know who did it or why.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, “Why Planes Vanish” is on “NOVA.”

    Miles O’Brien, thank you so much.

    MILES O’BRIEN: You’re welcome, Jeff.

     

    The post Will flight tracking evolve in wake of Malaysia Air mystery? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    presidents

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next:  Do Americans expect too much from their presidents? And what makes a great commander in chief?

    Margaret Warner explores those questions with the author of a new book.

    MARGARET WARNER: Aaron David Miller is known for his decades of work on U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East in four administrations. But now he’s returned to his training in American history with a new book, “The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President.”

    He argues there have only been three truly great presidents, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt, and that Americans should stop searching for another one.

    We spoke about this at Mount Vernon, home of George Washington.

    Aaron Miller, thanks for joining us.

    AARON DAVID MILLER, Author, “The End of Greatness”: Pleasure, Margaret.

    MARGARET WARNER: You write in this book that Americans, we Americans need to get over our obsession — you actually call it an addiction — in seeking out, also searching for a great president. Why not? Why not the best?

    AARON DAVID MILLER: Well, you could search, but what if you search — and it be ennobling — what if you search for something you cannot have? That’s the predicament that we’re in.

    We have created a sense of expectation in a job that’s already, some would argue, impossible. Let’s just say it’s implausible, given the nature, the complexity of the presidency, the terrifying contingency about politics, so many factors beyond our control, and yet we want to turn the president into a kind of a combination between Harrison Ford in “Air Force One” and Superman. And the realty is, we can’t have presidents like that anymore.

    That’s the real issue. We have to stop pining for the presidents, the great transformative ones, because those are not going to come back, it seems to me, and allow the presidents who we do elect to be good. Stop expecting them to be great, and allow them to be good, in the meaningful sense of the word.

    MARGARET WARNER: What did the three greats, Washington, Lincoln, and FDR, have that the others didn’t or achieve that the others didn’t?

    AARON DAVID MILLER: Transforming a nation encumbering crisis. That defines greatness.

    Without crisis — and I’m not talking about marginal crisis or a serious crisis — I’m talking about a crisis that encumbers the nation for a sustained period of time. That is what separates the capacity of the greats, the undeniable greats — I call them the indispensables — Washington, Lincoln and FDR, the three greatest challenges the nation faced produced, fortunately for us, our three greatest presidents.

    MARGARET WARNER: But you also say they all have things in common. You call them the three C’s.

    AARON DAVID MILLER: I do.

    The three C’s of presidential greatness, the cocktail if you will, you mix them all together, you get a great president. First of all, the crisis, which opens the door. The founders basically set it up this way. They wanted an energetic executive, but they didn’t want power to be irresponsibly collected and aggrandized.

    So crisis is what opens the door. Then, if you have character and capacity, you can figure out what to do with the crisis. And that in essence is my definition of greatness, nation-encumbering in crisis, out of which the undeniables extract transformative change which fundamentally alters the nation for the better.

    MARGARET WARNER: And what is the character, the essential character that’s needed?

    AARON DAVID MILLER: There’s the internal definition of character, the will, the drive, the ambition, the capacity to harness their individual futures to a broader enterprise. You put that together, and you get my definition of character, which produces a pretty compelling personality.

    MARGARET WARNER: Go back to your point about the fact that our search for greatness in a president, that keeps them from being good. What do you mean by that?

    AARON DAVID MILLER: We have a cardboard, I would argue, cartoonish view of leadership.

    Great man and, some day, woman is elected, high principle, lofty vision — great repetition — and somehow, by force of personality or will, change happens. That’s not the way change happens in America.

    MARGARET WARNER: Does it affect the way they approach things? Does this make a president swing for the fences when he or she shouldn’t or too cautious?

    AARON DAVID MILLER: Yes, you have to read the real estate correctly, all right?

    Lincoln inherited the most profound crisis of any president. He also midway during his tenure believed he somehow had to extract a transformative change out of it. It was emancipation. He waited for the exact moment. And he dressed it up not as some transformative declaration of principles, but as a war measure, The Emancipation Proclamation.

    Barack Obama inherits two crises, the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression, and the two longest wars in American history, and believes somehow the stage is set for his capacity to transform the nation at home and abroad.

    He misread the real estate. I’m not blaming him. Every president aspires, but you need to understand the real estate and figure out what you can do and what you can’t.

    MARGARET WARNER: Now, are you really prepared to say we will never have another great president?

    AARON DAVID MILLER: It would be terrific if we could have a Washington, Lincoln and FDR in a more modern guise.

    But the reality is, I’m pretty confident we can’t. What we need are good presidents, and not good in the banal sense, good in the sense that they are competent and effective, good in the sense that they are morally resonant, and they understand the law. Harry Truman once said that Nixon read the Constitution, but he really didn’t understand it.

    And good in the sense that they are emotionally intelligent. They are not haunted by demons and aspirations of greatness go — that go beyond their capacity to achieve. You give me presidents like that, and we will be on the way to beginning to address some of the crises that ail the nation.

    MARGARET WARNER: You are a Middle East expert. You spent your entire career in that.

    Did you have any hesitation about wading into this ground where so many presidential historians have tread? I mean, some people might say, frankly, what’s Aaron Miller’s standing to offer a thesis like this?

    AARON DAVID MILLER: Look, this is a national conversation. It’s a conversation every American has the right to participate in, because the presidency is ours.

    I have a right, an incentive, as all of my fellow Americans do, to participate in this debate and to judge and evaluate our presidents, not unrealistically or aspirationally, but in a way that will make the country better and stronger.

    MARGARET WARNER: And you hope this book will start that conversation?

    AARON DAVID MILLER: I wrote the book to begin a conversation, not to end one.

    MARGARET WARNER: Aaron Miller, thank you.

    AARON DAVID MILLER: Thanks so much, Margaret.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And hear why Aaron David Miller thinks George Washington actually had the hardest job of all. That’s at PBSNewsHour.org.

     

    The post Stop expecting American presidents to be great and allow them to be good, says author appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    gaymarriage

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Now to gay marriage, an issue that’s once again roiling Republican politics for the midterm elections and beyond.

    Federal courts have been striking down gay marriage bans right and left, and then, on Monday, the Supreme Court stepped in again. The justices refused to hear appeals from five states that wanted to keep banning same-sex marriage. Six other states are also affected by the court’s refusal.

    Competitive Senate races are under way in at least five states where gay marriages are or could soon now be legal, Virginia, Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, and in West Virginia, where Republican Shelley Moore Capito is running against Democrat Natalie Tennant for the seat being vacated by Jay Rockefeller.

    She addressed the issue in a debate last night.

    REP. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, (R) West Virginia: My voting record and my personal belief is that marriage is between a man and woman. And I have a long history on that being — dating back from when I was in the West Virginia legislature. But I believe the decision that’s been made is basically saying that the states will make their own decisions, and I will abide by what the state of West Virginia decides in this matter.

    GWEN IFILL: But a fault line has already developed among Republicans. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who may run for president in 2016, is criticizing the court itself.

    SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) Texas: We shouldn’t have unelected judges striking down our marriage laws, trying to impose their public policy notion on the state of Texas and on states where the elected legislatures have made the decision to preserve and protect traditional marriage.

    GWEN IFILL: Far from ending the political part of the gay marriage debate, Monday’s action seems to have reignited it. Another federal appeals court struck down bans on gay marriage in Idaho and Nevada yesterday.

    But at the court today, Justice Anthony Kennedy immediately granted Idaho’s emergency petition to delay action.

    We take a closer look at the political and legal landscape surrounding same-sex marriage with Jonathan Allen, Washington bureau chief for Bloomberg News.

    Jonathan, did the Supreme Court’s action force this on to the midterm election agenda?

    JONATHAN ALLEN, Bloomberg News: Absolutely.

    As you showed just a moment ago, it’s already something that’s being discussed in Senate debates. And within 24 hours of that decision, you had political candidates coming out and talking about it, feeling like they had to. I think the party committees, particularly the Republican Party committees, don’t want to talk about this right now, but the candidates are going to have to.

    So, it’s moved out of the court system and back into the political arena.

    GWEN IFILL: What is the reasoning for Republicans not wanting to talk about it and then, for that matter, Democrats not wanting to talk about it much?

    JONATHAN ALLEN: Well, the big reason for Republicans to not want to talk about it is the American public has shifted on this issue.

    If you look back at Gallup polling back in 2006, 42 percent of Americans approved of same-sex marriage. Now you’re talking about 56 percent. There’s been a sea change over the last few years. You can see it in the Democratic Party primary in 2008. The major candidates said they were for civil unions or they were domestic partner benefits, but they wouldn’t embrace same-sex marriage.

    Now, in 2014, looking at 2016, all of the major Democratic candidates are going to be in favor of same-sex marriage. So you have seen that happen that way, a big shift in public opinion. As far as Republicans go, there’s a division in their party between those who want to promote traditional marriage and those who think that this is an issue that has already passed them by.

    We saw Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and former presidential candidate, stand with Ted Cruz basically today and say, look, I want to stand with a party that has guts to fight on this issue. It’s not over. And if the Republican Party won’t fight on it, he said he’s going to become an independent.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let’s talk about another well-known conservative also keeping his eye on 2016. That’s the governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal. He’s not saying what Ted Cruz is saying.

    JONATHAN ALLEN: Yes, there are — I mean, there are positions all over the place right now.

    I think this is the problem for the Republican Party. It’s very divided. And I think you’re going to see some conservatives, some longtime conservatives, take a different position on same-sex marriage if they’re running for president in 2016 than has traditionally been the party’s message.

    Rob Portman, Ohio conservative in the Senate, is somebody looking at 2016. He was the first Republican in the Senate to endorse same-sex marriage back in 2013, after his son revealed that he was gay to his father, then Senator Portman came out and supported it.

    So I think you’re seeing a Republican Party that is really struggling with this issue. I think that Democrats don’t want to talk about it at the moment because you have a lot of tough races in swing states where gay marriage is not as approved of as much as it is on the national level. And I think the Democratic Party committees don’t want to hurt their candidates in those places by trumpeting this issue.

    GWEN IFILL: Jonathan, is there a comparison to be drawn here? It reminds me of what the parties are dealing with on immigration, where they don’t necessarily agree, and some would just rather move on to something else.

    JONATHAN ALLEN: Well, I think that’s certainly something that you’re seeing. Again, I think you’re seeing, in the Republican Party, there’s division on immigration.

    I think there’s a portion of the party that thinks it really has to get into the sort of situation where you are legalizing folks who have already been here. And there’s a portion of the party that says, heck no.

    The Democrats have been pretty unified. We saw a pretty overwhelming bipartisan Senate vote for what they call comprehensive immigration reform that does border security and temporary workers and also that legalization process. So, again, I think that’s an issue Democrats are pretty comfortable with, and Republicans are having a hard time with, except for Democrats in certain swing states, where that issue isn’t helpful to them.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, it was just last session in the Supreme Court where we — they ruled on the Hobby Lobby case. It was a free speech and religious case, and people said, ah, the culture wars are back. Now they ruled on gay marriage — or not to rule on gay marriage, at least for now. And it seems like the culture wars are over, or are we going too fast?

    JONATHAN ALLEN: I think you’re going too fast there.

    I think the culture wars are back. What has happened over time is there has been a change. And it used to be the Republicans were able to very effectively use social issues against Democrats as a wedge. They split the Democratic Party.

    I think what you have seen more recently is a pendulum shift, where Democrats have figured out how to become unified on major social issues, whether you’re talking about abortion, whether you’re talking about same-sex marriage, and use them against a more divided Republican Party.

    And, look, this is part of American politics. Each party is always trying to calibrate, trying to reset itself, to reframe itself a little bit and to find consensus and union. Right now, Republicans don’t have it on these major social issues. And I think you are going to continue to hear Democrats talk about those issues.

    I think they really invite and embrace the culture wars now, in a way that they didn’t just eight or 10 years ago.

    GWEN IFILL: A lot of calibration between now and November.

    Jonathan Allen of Bloomberg News, thank you.

    JONATHAN ALLEN: My pleasure.

     

    The post Supreme Court reignites same-sex marriage as campaign issue before midterms appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    islamicstate_airpower

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama’s meeting at the Pentagon today comes as there are considerable doubts over whether the U.S.-led coalition can stop and roll back the Islamic State group’s advances.

    To help assess the campaign against the militant group, I’m joined by Michele Flournoy, former undersecretary of defense for policy during the first term of the Obama administration. She’s now chief executive officer at the Center for a New American Security. And Colonel Derek Harvey, he was an intelligence officer and special adviser to the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. He’s now director for the Global Initiative on Civil Society and Conflict at the University of South Florida.

    And welcome both of you back to the program.

    Colonel Harvey, to you first.

    The reports we had earlier in the program are that it looks as if the town of Kobani on Syria’s border with Turkey may be about to fall to the Islamic State. Is that what you’re hearing and, if so, how big a loss is this?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY (RET.), Former Army Intelligence Officer:  Well, I think that’s what is happening in Kobani.

    And it’s unfortunate for that population there. There is significant offensive activity by the Islamic State. They’re using combined arms. That’s tanks, mortars, artillery and infantry. And they’re coming in on the city from at least three directions.

    It is expected to fall some time in the next three to five days, according to the sources that I’m talking to.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And how big a loss, Michele Flournoy, if this happens?

    MICHELE FLOURNOY, Former Defense Department Official:  I think it’s worsened because it is right up against the Turkish border, and that will ISIS that much more room to operate along the border and possibly even do cross-border incursions in some areas.

    But — so it’s of concern, but I think we have to be realistic in our expectations. This campaign, no matter how effective, is not going to be able to stop every ISIS movement or to roll them back in every place. Where we need to focus is really on the most strategic areas and, importantly, building up the ground forces that can retake and hold territory. Airpower alone cannot do that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in fact, Secretary of State Kerry said today, was quoted as saying that it wouldn’t be a strategic defeat if Kobani goes down.

    Colonel Harvey, do you agree with that?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Well, I think it’s significant if Kobani goes down, just like it’s significant when we lost Mosul.

    And you have the humanitarian crisis that will ensue from that, and massacres. And we have the capability to intercede at this point to have an impact, like we didn’t take in the case of the Yazidis.

    I don’t think we need to fight everyplace, but it’s clear that the air campaign is, in my judgment as a professor at the University of South Florida, if I was to give this campaign a grade to date, I would say it’s a D, maybe a D-plus. It lacks intensity. It isn’t driving the enemy in a way that we need it to. It’s taken some initiative away. It’s degraded them some, but, overall, ISIS continues to act like a Pac-Man in the video game, gobbling up territory in Syria and in Iraq.

    And that’s something that is going to continue to happen unless we change the air campaign’s posture, increase intensity, resourcing and improve intelligence.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Michele Flournoy, what does it say that this town and other parts of Syria and Iraq are going down, despite this air campaign on the part of the U.S. and its allies?

    MICHELE FLOURNOY: Well, I do agree that we should ramp up the intensity of the air campaign and try to be more proactive and get out ahead of some of ISIS’ movement and so forth.

    But the real — what’s really going to make a difference on the ground is when the Iraqis are able, with our help and our support, to really start engaging on the ground, when the Kurds and when the Syrian opposition forces are able to engage on the ground. The problem is, that is going to take time. Reconstituting those forces, enabling them to be fully effective is going to take some time. And that’s the frustrating part right now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what does that time, that waiting time mean, Colonel Harvey?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Well, I think we’re really looking at a year or more, and that’s going to be unfortunate for the people of Iraq and in Syria, but it’s also going to give the Islamic State a great deal of opportunity to entrench themselves, to improve their capabilities, and make it that much harder for us to dig them out in these communities that they’re becoming well-entrenched in, in Iraq and in Syria.

    A year or more is too long, and we just have not put the resources in place to support building the Iraqi security forces or partnering with Sunni-Arab tribes in both Iraq and in Syria in order to build the capability for a force on the ground that we can work with.

    It’s a missing component and there’s just not enough energy and effort into this at this point.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Michele Flournoy, does this put pressure on the administration to either find a way to get boots, either boots on the ground by the U.S. or get boots on the ground faster by countries in the region?

    MICHELE FLOURNOY: I think the pressure is to actually move the advise and assist and training with the Iraqis faster and, actually, as Colonel Harvey said, to more fully engage the Sunni tribes, to try to get them to start taking on ISIL.

    I don’t think the answer is large conventional U.S. ground units, because, ultimately, you have got to have the indigenous folks on the ground owning this for it to be a sustainable outcome.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Colonel Harvey, what are you hearing about — again, you talk to people in the military. What are they saying about how they view the success of this air campaign?

    And from another perspective, we’re hearing now complaints of a different sort in Iraq, the U.S. employing Apache helicopters, something that wasn’t expected. What is the perspective you’re hearing from folks you talk to?

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Well, what I hear is that there’s incredible frustration about the inability to bring the resources to bear to this fight that we have that we can engage with.

    The intensity, as Michele has talked about, is not there. We don’t even have AC-130 gunships being employed, which are ideal for this type of combat in this type of a theater. So there’s a lot left of capability being left on the table that commanders would like to be able to engage in order to improve the air campaign.

    Secondly, the attack aviation that came out of Baghdad International Airport, U.S. aviation in an attack manner is incredibly important in this environment and it’s a capability that they would like to have, but it brings risk. The risk is that helicopters are more vulnerable to ground fire.

    If you lose a helicopter in this environment, you are going to have to have a quick reaction force to get in there and extract those people. You are going to need medevac. That puts all of those other elements at risk. You need those capabilities in place.

    I’m afraid we could wind up with a Mogadishu-type incident, where you have a situation that doesn’t play well in the international media and domestically at home. It’s a significant problem if we do this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I hear you.

    I do quickly want to come back, Michele Flournoy, to his comment that the folks in the military are telling him that there is capacity that is being left on the table by the U.S.

    MICHELE FLOURNOY: I think that’s often true in operations. The question is, you know, aligning that with a strategy.

    And I think here there has to be a discussion about whether there’s more we should be doing, whether the risk of doing more is acceptable, and whether it really fundamentally changes that timeline. Can we get to real progress against ISIS on the ground inside of a year, not waiting a full year, but bringing that timeline forward? That’s the real question.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tough questions.

    Michele Flournoy, Colonel Derek Harvey, we thank you.

    MICHELE FLOURNOY: Thank you.

    COL. DEREK HARVEY: Thank you.

     

    The post Can air power alone stop advance of Islamic State militants? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    ebola1

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: This was a sobering day in the battle against the Ebola outbreak. As the death toll climbed, the first patient diagnosed in the United States died, and plans for screening ramped up at major American airports. The CDC is at the center of the government’s response, both here and abroad.

    Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery got an inside look at how the agency is tackling the job.

    MAN: CDC Emergency Operations Center. This line is being recorded. Watch officer Baker speaking.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: The Emergency Operations Center at CDC headquarters in Atlanta never sleeps. A quiet hum belies the frenzy of activity here.

    WOMAN: This phone number, it’s under 2014 Ebola International.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: This is the nerve center for the effort to contain and control the Ebola virus.

    CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden:

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: We work to protect Americans, and we do that with boots on the ground in every state, in 50 countries around the world. We do that by the top-quality science and scientists and we do that by action.

    GORDON MAY, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: We are the watch team here at the CDC. We are basically like the CDC’s 911.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Gordon May oversees the watch station, which gets calls from the public, the media and health officials.

    GORDON MAY: They’re seeking information on what to do with their patients. They’re seeking information on waste disposal. They’re also seeking information on protocols in the event that they do receive an Ebola patient.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: The questions are fielded by others, about 150 in all who work in this high-tech hub. Plasma screens display giant maps pinpointing places the virus has been found and areas where even more CDC staff have been deployed.

    WOMAN: Hey, good morning, everybody. Welcome to Monday, day 90 of the EOC activation.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Top managers meet daily to exchange updates on the number of cases and the global response.

    Dr. Barbara Mahon attends that meeting. Her team is monitoring the Texas investigation into the first case diagnosed in the U.S. and tracking people who may have been in contact with Thomas Duncan. After serious missteps in Dallas, the CDC and others faced a flurry of criticism, including the hospital’s response when Duncan arrived.

    DR. BARBARA MAHON, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: I guess the way I look at it is that preparedness is really a process. It’s not a stage or an activity. It’s a process. It’s a state of mind. And so what we need to do in this situation is to learn everything we can from those bumps in the road to try to make it go better if — and, hopefully, there won’t be, but if there is another case.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: The CDC’s attention goes well beyond the U.S. border. The Global Migration Group focuses on air and sea travel, including outreach to passengers.

    The group’s leader is Dr. Marty Centron.

    DR. MARTY CENTRON, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The most important thing that we’re trying to do is help fill in the gap between the public health sector and transportation sector in terms of readiness.

    Our job is to train people how to ask questions about symptoms, how to ask questions about exposure and risk, whether they had contact with an Ebola case, and how to measure objectively in a safe way temperatures of people who are intending to leave, identify those people, and move them out and prevent them — prevent sick people from getting on airplanes that could potentially spread.

    MAN: Are you focusing mostly on Liberia?

    AIMEE SUMMERS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: No, all of the…

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Epidemiologist Aimee Summers is a disease detective just back from Liberia. More people have died there than any other country. Summers helped find those who may have been exposed, a process called contact tracing.

    AIMEE SUMMERS: There are a lot of challenges in Liberia, and I think probably the most challenging part of it is that there’s a lot of stigma attached to people over there, so people are basically running away, because nobody wants to be associated with it.

    So there is one case that we went out with. And by the time we got there, all of the contacts who were associated with that case had fled the area.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Teams in West Africa process specimens to determine if patients have Ebola. Here in Atlanta, scientists are working on genetic sequencing to see if the virus changes.

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: I worry when people have irrational fears of Ebola. But there are rational fears as well. If you’re a health care worker taking care of a patient with Ebola, you better be scared and you better use that fear to make sure that you do absolutely everything right when you’re caring for that patient.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: The CDC has sent scores of its own staff to Africa, but many more are needed. That’s why they’re offering hands-on exercises like this one in Alabama earlier this week.

    Thirty-six health care workers came to this rural spot to learn how to put on personal protective equipment, suits, masks, boots, and gloves.

    Dr. Michael Jhung, an influenza expert who has turned his focus to Ebola, put the curriculum together.

    DR. MICHAEL JHUNG, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: What we try to do is create a facility here that mimics an Ebola treatment unit in West Africa.

    We’re not trying to recreate the U.S. hospital, where there’s much higher levels of technology available, and we’re not trying to recreate a general hospital in West Africa. It’s a specific facility for caring for Ebola patients. What we ask our students to do is do a practical exercise, a hands-on exercise every day of the three-day course. Today, they did a simulated blood draw.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: For Nurse Heather Bedlion, drawing blood is easy, but wearing heavy gear will make her job tougher when she leaves for Liberia this weekend.

    HEATHER BEDLION, Volunteer Nurse, Partners In Health:It’s warm here. It’s hot in West Africa. So, goggles fogging, of course, that’s a little bit — a bit of a challenge — it’s a lot of a challenge. Being able to see of course is a big challenge.

    The dexterity of your hands to make sure that you draw — handle any sort of fluids that could possibly infect you is most important, and making sure that you do that safely.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Captain Paul Reed will be in charge of clinical operations at the new hospital the U.S. is building in Liberia. The Public Health Service doctor has been deployed to hot spots many times, but for the father of four this, assignment feels different.

    DR. PAUL REED, Captain, U.S. Public Health Service: My family is used to me traveling and being deployed for a number of different reasons over a long period of time, a 20-year career. This one has a little bit different flavor, obviously, and there’s some expressed anxiety on the part of my wife and my kids, as you can imagine.

    But I think, generally, they know I’m going to be smart about what needs to be done, and I will make sure that I’m safe, as well as the folks that I’m taking care of are safe.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: But training doesn’t happen overnight. The challenge is keeping pace with the fast-moving epidemic.

    DR. MICHAEL JHUNG: We can run 35 to 40 students per course. We can run one course per week. We intend to run a course every week until the demand goes away, and if that takes a year or two, we will run it for a year or two.

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: A single control lapse can result in an infection of a health care worker, so we really want to make sure that it’s done well. And that’s why we’re doing this detailed, in-depth training for anyone who wants to go over and assist with the response as an initial training.

    But, also, the stakes are so high in Africa. If we don’t stop it in West Africa, the risk of it spreading to other parts of Africa is very great. And if that happens, it could be around for years and a global threat for years, and that would have impact on how we do medical care in this country. That would have impact on travel and trade and economies and political stability. So the stakes are very high.

    KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Those high stakes drive the CDC effort, but the question remains, can the agency move fast enough to combat the worst Ebola outbreak the world has ever seen?

    GWEN IFILL: Online, you can hear more from the health care workers we talked to on what’s going through their minds as they prepare to go to West Africa. That’s at PBSNewsHour.org.

     

    The post Meet the disease detectives tracking Ebola at the CDC appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    newswrap

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Liberian man who was diagnosed in Dallas with Ebola died today. Thomas Eric Duncan showed no symptoms when he arrived in Texas last month, but he became the first confirmed case inside the U.S. Officials said his body will be cremated.

    Hours later, the head of the CDC announced new screening, including fever checks for travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: If any travelers are found to either have a fever or have history of contact with Ebola, then the on-site Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public health officer will further interview that individual, assess the individual and take additional action as appropriate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The measures take effect Saturday at JFK International Airport in New York, and next week at international airports in Newark, New Jersey, Washington Dulles, Chicago, and Atlanta.

    GWEN IFILL: The worldwide toll in the Ebola outbreak has risen again. The World Health Organization put the casualty count today at nearly 3,900. That’s out of 8,000 confirmed cases. And, in Spain, there was new unrest linked to the infection of a nurse.

    Neil Connery of Independent Television News is there, and he filed this report.

    NEIL CONNERY: Anger on Madrid streets, the authorities’ handling of this Ebola crisis under attack, these protesters dragged by police from the block where the infected nurse and her husband lived. They were trying to stop the couple’s dog from being put down by officials, but, as the world beyond looks on, it’s the bigger picture here that’s giving serious concern.

    The nurse, Teresa Romero Ramos, seen here with the dog, says she may have been infected by touching her face with a glove as she changed her protective clothing.

    Anna Gomerth, a friend of the nurse, told me she’s no faith in the government’s response.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): The people are afraid and angry because they don’t know anything about this illness or what’s happening here.

    NEIL CONNERY: According to her union, the nurse start help three times over a week before she was tested for Ebola. Last Tuesday, she reported a fever, but was told to take paracetamol. She rang the hospital again on Thursday, but no action was taken. When she rang again on Monday, she was told to go to a local hospital, where she was kept on a public ward behind only a fabric screen and some tape.

    Only when her Ebola test came back positive was she finally transported to the Carlos III. There’s a deep sense of mistrust here at how the authorities are handling this crisis. Aside from the medical efforts to contain this outbreak, regaining the public’s faith in the coming hours and days is going to prove crucial.

    Today, the Spanish prime minister boasted the country’s health system is one of the best in the world. Back in the suburban block where the infected nurse and her husband lived, the residents may beg to differ.

    GWEN IFILL: We will get a closer look at what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is doing to fight the outbreak, here and abroad, after the news summary.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Islamic State forces made a new push on the Syrian town of Kobani this evening, despite coalition airstrikes. Kurdish defenders told of fierce new fighting in the town near the Turkish border. Earlier, the Kurds said the air attacks had slowed the militants’ advance. But they also warned that the U.S.-led campaign needs to be even stronger.

    Meanwhile, President Obama met with U.S. commanders at the Pentagon. And he counseled patience.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Our strikes continues alongside our partners. It remains a difficult mission. As I have indicated from the start, this is not something going to be solved overnight.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The battle for Kobani also triggered more violence in Turkey, where Kurds are demanding action to help their brethren in Syria. Police used fire cannon — water cannon and fired tear gas at demonstrators in the latest clashes. Officials said at least 19 people have died in two days of rioting.

    Lawyers for Kenya’s president have asked the International Criminal Court to toss out charges of crimes against humanity against him. Uhuru Kenyatta is accused of sparking post-election violence in 2007 that took more than 1,000 lives. The defense argued today that the case has collapsed. Prosecutors said Kenyatta’s government has obstructed the investigation.

    GWEN IFILL: Two Americans and a German won this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry today for making microscopes more powerful than anyone thought possible. U.S. researchers Eric Betzig and William Moerner and German Stefan Hell used fluorescent molecules to see deep inside the inner workings of living cells. Their achievements have greatly enhanced research into Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Telecom giant AT&T will pay $105 million to settle allegations that it put bogus charges on customers’ bills. The practice is known as cramming, and it’s sparked complaints that customers are charged for services they never requested, like daily horoscopes.

    Tom Wheeler chairs the Federal Communications Commission.

    TOM WHEELER, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission: It’s estimated that 20 million consumers a year are caught in this kind of trap, costing hundreds of millions of dollars. It stops today for AT&T.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The settlement includes $80 million for customer refunds.

    GWEN IFILL: Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson appeared in court today in Texas on charges of child abuse for using a tree branch to punish his young son. Peterson was surrounded by reporters and cameras as he arrived at a courthouse in Conroe, Texas. Trial was tentatively set to begin December 1. The running back has been suspended until the case is resolved.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Supreme Court now has to decide whether workers should be paid for time spent in security screenings after shifts end. Two former workers at online retailer Amazon claimed that they were kept waiting up to 25 minutes every day. Business groups say employers could face billions in retroactive pay if the workers win.

    GWEN IFILL: Wall Street roared back after the Federal Reserve showed it’s in no hurry to raise interest rates. The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 275 points, recouping all of yesterday’s losses and closing at 16,994; the Nasdaq rose 83 points to close at 4,468; and the S&P 500 added 33 to finish near 1,969.

    The post News Wrap: CDC announces new Ebola screening procedures after death of victim in U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    A girl picks out a book at the Scholastic store in New York City. Credit: NewsHour

    A girl picks out a book at the Scholastic store in New York City. Credit: NewsHour

    YA is a booming business.

    Young adult fiction is one of the largest categories of book sales for the publishing industry today, and people have begun to take notice. Numerous authors whose credits are titles marketed for adults are trying to capitalize on this voracious market by adapting their own work for a younger segment of readers, the New York Times reported.

    While the book genre targets an intended audience aged 12 to 18, the largest segment — nearly 43 percent — of buyers of YA books is readers ages 18 to 29.

    While YA abbreviation seems to be a buzzy one today, it’s not exactly new. One of the earliest books written for a teenage audience was “Seventeenth Summer” by Maureen Daly, published in 1942. Some more popular YA titles have appeared on the shelves over the years include S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders” and numerous titles by authors such as Judy Blume and Lois Duncan.

    In a recent appearance on PBS NewsHour Weekend, author Lois Lowry said that books targeted toward teenagers can have lasting effects just as they did on her.

    “The book and character for me was Jody in “The Yearling,” and I’ve said that for many years,” Lowry said. “It was a book that had a profound impact on me when I was about eight, and it was the first book I had ever experienced, though I was a voracious reader even at that young age, that had had such a profound emotional impact on me, that dealt with real characters who suffered.”

    In a recent Student Reporting Labs post, young adults from around the country shared the most influential novels they’ve read.

    The post For readers young and old, YA is A-OK appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    El Salvador police officers Daniel Campos and Raul Garcia check to see if a man's shotgun is legally registered. Photo by Jude Joffe-Block

    El Salvador police officers Daniel Campos and Raul Garcia check to see if a man’s shotgun is legally registered. Photo by Jude Joffe-Block/Fronteras Desk

    SANTA ANA, El Salvador — El Salvador has a population of just more than 6 million, but almost 16,000 children from that country have arrived at the United States border from last October and the end of August.

    While that migration is attributed to multiple factors, it has directed attention to the country’s struggle with organized crime. Now that nation’s new president is looking to community policing as a strategy to tackle insecurity.

    On a recent day, community police officers Daniel Ivan Campos and Raul Alonso Garcia patrolled a neighborhood on the outskirts of the city of Santa Ana on foot.

    “We try to walk our whole beat,” Campos said in Spanish. He said it helps them see who is around and prevent crime.

    This area is semi-rural, with dirt roads.

    The two officers both wear dark uniforms. Garcia, 47, is the veteran of the pair. He has 20 years of experience in the police department, but only two years as a “community police officer.” Campos is 26 and began this assignment just six months ago.

    We stop in front of a cement wall covered in graffiti.

    “We are going to erase this,” Garcia said.

    The graffiti belongs to a gang known as La Mirada Loca. It loosely translates as “The Crazy Stare.”

    A wall with gang graffiti in the outskirts of Santa Ana. Photo by Jude Joffe-Block/Fronteras Desk

    A wall with gang graffiti in the outskirts of Santa Ana. Photo by Jude Joffe-Block/Fronteras Desk

    Local residents asked Campos and Garcia to take care of this kind of graffiti. This neighborhood doesn’t have too many gang problems and residents are anxious to keep it that way.

    The pair has already painted over a number of graffiti-plagued walls, and this is the last one they still have to paint.

    Campos and Garcia said they try to respond to community members’ concerns. Sometimes that means tasks that are beyond the realm of traditional police work — lately the officers have been digging a ditch to prevent flooding.

    There’s a benefit, though: it earns trust.

    As we walk, Garcia and Campos spot a man carrying a 12-gauge. They demand to see his paperwork to make sure it is a legal weapon.

    Garcia looks over the papers and says it checks out. The man with a gun is Mario Martinez. He is a security guard for a company that drives around selling cell phone credit.

    Martinez said he is glad the police stopped him.

    “It’s good,” Martinez said. “This way they know who is legal and who isn’t.”

    In the last couple years, Garcia and Campos’ police department received training and assistance from the U.S. State Department.

    “It is all part of this philosophy of prevention,” said James Rose, the State Department’s regional gang adviser, who works out of the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador. “To achieve prevention you have to have a proactive attitude from the police.”

    The State Department helped the Santa Ana police make a number of reforms, including implementing new data collection strategies, creating programs to keep kids out of crime and introducing community policing techniques.

    “Knowing your community, knowing who is there, who is coming, who is going, who is involved in criminal activity,” Rose said. “What changes are going on. What the concerns are of the community. And by doing that [the police] are able to win the trust of the community and they are able to collect that useful data.”

    Raul Garcia and Daniel Campos are community police officers in the city of Santa Ana. Photo by Jude Joffe-Block

    Raul Garcia and Daniel Campos are community police officers in the city of Santa Ana. Photo by Jude Joffe-Block/Fronteras Desk

    The model is a contrast to the mano dura — or iron-fist policies — that Salvadoran police used in the past.

    Rose said right after the U.S. launched its program with the Santa Ana precinct in 2011, the agency used the new techniques to prevent future gang homicides. By analyzing the data of past homicides, Santa Ana officers found a pattern.

    “One clique was responsible for over 60 percent of [gang] homicides,” Rose said. “So then they knew how to create a tactic to lower the homicide rates: they went after that clique.”

    Rose said that under mano dura, police likely would have sent out as many officers as possible and rounded up every known gang member for minor offenses, only to see them released quickly due to a lack of evidence.

    The U.S. isn’t alone in promoting these community policing models. Some local leaders have gone in the same direction. And this summer the new president, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, announced a plan to expand community policing nationally.

    At the end of September, Sánchez Cerén also announced a plan to create a council with representatives from the Catholic Church, the private sector, and government officials to come up with an action plan to reduce crime.

    In 2012, during the former president’s administration, a secretive truce was brokered between the two biggest gangs. But crime rates have risen since then, and it is widely believed that the truce is no longer in effect.

    Back on patrol with Garcia and Campos, it’s evident that community policing is not always friendly.

    A man in a white shirt and sagging jeans comes from around the corner. Within moments Campos and Garcia have stopped him and are patting him down.

    Garcia grills him about whether he is in La Mirada Loca, and what his alias is.

    A Salvadoran law allows police to stop and frisk anyone they suspect of being in a gang. These officers have the man’s shirt pulled up, and search his back and torso for gang tattoos.

    It is legal for police in El Salvador to stop and frisk people they suspect of being in a gang. Photo by Jude Joffe-Block/Fronteras Desk

    It is legal for police in El Salvador to stop and frisk people they suspect of being in a gang. Photo by Jude Joffe-Block/Fronteras Desk

    The man introduces himself as Alexander Herrera Toledo. He has been drinking. He claims he is no longer an active gang member.

    “It’s been six years since I retired from the gang,” Herrera Toledo said.

    He said he became a Christian and dropped out.

    Herrera Toledo doesn’t have any weapons or drugs on him, just a flask and some video games. The officers let him go, though they didn’t buy his story.

    “They always say they are retired,” Garcia said. “But it is a lie.”

    Garcia insisted anyone who actually leaves the gang would be killed. He said he and Campos had previously identified Herrera Toledo as a gang member, which is why they stopped and frisked him.

    The neighborhood president here is a 58-year-old petite hairdresser named Martalicia Medina.

    Medina believes these police are doing a good job.

    “There wasn’t trust before, but now I think there is,” Medina said. “When criminals see the police around they get a little scared and leave. It’s been a big help.”

    Still, Medina isn’t sure community policing will be enough to save El Salvador. Her daughter lived in another town, which unlike this one is controlled by gangs. That daughter fled to the U.S. with one son when her older son was murdered.

    “I think something stronger is needed,” Medina said. “The community police do everything they can. But they need stronger laws.”

    I ask her what that would be. Medina shrugs.

    “I don’t know!” Medina said. “Put the gang members away somewhere where they will be calm and will leave everyone else alone?”

    It’s what many want here. But of course, it’s not that simple.

    This story was reported by the Fronteras: Changing Americas Desk, a multimedia collaboration among seven public radio stations. It is led by KJZZ in Phoenix and KPBS in San Diego and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as part of its Local Journalism Center initiative.

    Read more: Can U.S.-style youth programs in Central America keep kids from migrating?

    The post El Salvador tries to rein in crime with community policing appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Photo by Echo/Getty Images

    Setting up care for an elderly loved one can be a tough task, but these steps can make it easier. Photo by Echo/Getty Images

    Concern about mom or dad’s health and well-being is top of mind for many baby boomers today. Worrisome signs of your parent’s frailty, progressive memory loss or the decline in health require more and more of your help and attention. But what if you live a good distance away? Whether you live an hour away, in a different state, or maybe even in another country, caregiving at a distance presents very real challenges.

    No longer just a devoted daughter or son, you’re now what the professionals in the aging field call a “long-distance caregiver.” Thrust into what is often a new world of intricate responsibilities, you may find it hard to see the personal rewards ahead. But they are there, as is the help available to assist you on this caregiving journey.

    There is no one right way to be a caregiver; everyone’s situation is different. You will find that, among a host of things, family dynamics, financial resources and the ability of your parent(s) to provide guidance for the support that they desire will shape your situation.

    You can expect your caregiving responsibilities to include, at a minimum, two key functions: information gatherer (from your parent[s], websites, books, word of mouth, etc.) and coordinator of services (contacting potential service providers, scheduling, coordinating payment, monitoring medical care). Do plan on traveling and spending some time on the phone to arrange care and services.

    Critical Information

    It will help you immensely if, before there is a crisis, your parent(s) provide you with information to locate their important records, phone numbers, email addresses and other essential contact information. If a crisis has already occurred, such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury, this information is still important to gather, but it may require more detective work on your part.

  • Family Caregiver Alliance’s “Where to Find My Important Papers” will help you collect information which will simplify communication with government agencies such as Social Security or the Veterans Administration, help with banking and other financial transactions, and make speaking with your parent’s attorney, accountant and physician easier.
  • Legal documents, such as Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Durable Power of Attorney for Asset Management can and should be prepared before a health condition makes it impossible for your parent to do so. For more information, read, “Legal Issues in Planning for Incapacity.”
  • One organization to contact to find an attorney knowledgeable about estate planning or with special training in elder law is the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

  • To keep things in order, long-distance caregivers will benefit from keeping a care notebook — a central place to keep the important information that you gather. A number of care notebook templates — hard copy or digital — are available for purchase. Or you can create your own, either a digital version or by using a good old three-ring binder with pocket dividers. Be sure your notebook contains current information on your parent’s prescriptions.
  • If paid caregivers are employed to provide care to your loved one, you will want them to maintain a separate notebook documenting medication administration, vital signs, and other key physical and mental health status information. We’ll talk more about privately hired caregivers in another column.
  • If you feel overwhelmed at any point, never hesitate to call in a friend or professional to help. An objective advisor knowledgeable about Medicare and Medicaid can be immensely helpful in sorting out health care eligibility and coverage. A social worker (National Association of Social Workers) or geriatric care manager (National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers) can facilitate a family meeting to help prepare a care plan and/or deal with family dissension. No one can master everything, not even the people who are experts in their field. The solution lies in putting together a team and using each team member’s strengths — including yours.

    To help you get started, here are a few key tips to keep in mind:

  • Communicate: As much as possible, involve the one who needs care in any decision making process, especially those related to care and housing. Be sure to listen to his or her expressed preferences and respect their known values, even when these differ from yours. Instructions to paid caregivers should be in writing.
  • Learn what help is available: Educate yourself on the care and services available. Although every area is unique in the type of services that are offered, similar kinds of services are found throughout the U.S. (e.g. adult day care, home care, case management, etc.). Eldercare Locator at (800) 677-1116 can direct you to the Area Agency on Aging appropriate for your parent(s). FCA’s Family Care Navigator offers a state-by-state searchable database to help you locate help in your state.
  • Taking care: Take care of yourself. Caregiving can be stressful. Create a support network for yourself. Talk with friends and family. Allow yourself to hire help or involve other family members. Trying to do it all yourself is not healthy for you or your loved one.
  • Changing needs: Understand that care needs will change over time; it’s not too early to think about possible future needs. Once you locate resources, speak to a social worker who has experience in planning for eldercare. There are many options to be considered, and you’ll want to make informed, well-thought-out decisions about your parent’s care.
  • The sudden realization of your new role as a caregiver is likely to be stressful. How can you be both a caring daughter or son and the coordinator of a multitude of tasks required when taking on the day-to-day responsibilities of a loved one? You may feel overwhelmed and isolated. In reality, you have lots of company. Approximately 76 million of us are baby boomers, many with parents who are approaching a time in their life that will require aid and assistance. We know that an estimated 43.5 million Americans provide or manage care for a relative or friend 50+ years or older. And this number is growing every day.

    The good news is that with so many of us involved in care from a distance, there’s lots of information to help. Here are a few additional guides offering checklists and specific tips to help you in your long-distance caregiving journey.


    More Information & Resources

    Family Caregiver Alliance: National Center on Caregiving
    Handbook for Long-Distance Caregivers: An Essential Guide for Families and Friends Caring for Ill or elderly Loved Ones

    The National Institute on Aging
    So Far Away: Twenty Questions and Answers About Long-Distance Caregiving

    AARP
    Tips for Long distance Caregivers


    Long-Term Care Options Explored on PBS NewsHour:


    About Family Caregiver Alliance

    National Center on Caregiving
    785 Market Street, Suite 750
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    (415) 434-3388
    (800) 445-8106
    Website: www.caregiver.org
    E-mail: info@caregiver.org

    Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) offers an extensive online library of free educational materials for caregivers. The publications, webinars and videos offer families the kind of straightforward, practical help they need as they care for relatives with chronic or disabling health conditions.

    Family Care Navigator is FCA’s online directory of resources for caregivers in all 50 states. It includes information on government health and disability programs, legal resources, disease-specific organizations and more.

    Residential Care Search: listings by geographic area.

    More Family Caregiver Alliance Posts in This Series:

    Additional Helpful Publications from Family Caregiver Alliance:


    Founded in 1977, Family Caregiver Alliance was the first community-based nonprofit organization in the U.S. created to address the needs of caregivers. FCA and its National Center on Caregiving are nationally and internationally recognized for pioneering programs—information, education, research and advocacy—that support and sustain the important work of families and friends caring for loved ones with chronic, disabling health conditions. Visit www.caregiver.org or call (800) 445-8106 for more information.

    The post How to care for your aging parents from a distance appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    It was a hard statistic to get my head around: San Francisco Bay, one of the nation’s most scenic bodies of water, has lost almost 90 percent of its wetlands over the last century. I learned this while reporting for the NewsHour on the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project — the largest wetlands restoration project currently underway on the West Coast.

    As someone who has lived and covered the Bay Area for years, I’ve seen all the businesses and homes along the edge of the bay, and I’ve flown into San Francisco and Oakland airports where you feel like you will be actually be landing in the bay, until a strip of land suddenly appears right before the wheels touch down. So I felt like I had a good grasp of the Bay Area landscape, but I was surprised to learn just how much of the bay’s natural habitat has disappeared due to human development.

    The loss of the tidal wetlands has had a devastating impact on some species of fish and wildlife, including the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse which we highlight in our piece. And with climate change and sea level rise looming in the future, scientists are concerned how the already-threatened wildlife in the Bay Area will fare.

    I recently spent several days with project leaders from the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project — an ambitious 50 year project to turn former barren industrial salt ponds back into thriving wetlands habitat. The hope is that the restored tidal marshes will mitigate some of the impacts of sea level rise. Executive Project Manager John Bourgeois took us to one area near Palo Alto that shows just what’s left of most of the Bay’s wetlands — in the video above — and the challenges wildlife face now, and in the future with sea level rise.

    See the full report on tonight’s PBS NewsHour.

    The post See just how much is left of San Francisco Bay’s shrinking wetlands appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

    A Republican congressman and the White House are clashing over renewed allegations against the Secret Service. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Two years after a prostitution scandal rocked the Secret Service, a Republican congressman renewed allegations Thursday about possible involvement by a White House volunteer and said he smelled efforts to cover it up. White House officials adamantly denied wrongdoing and said there’d been no attempt to keep anything quiet.

    Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who’s been investigating the Secret Service as chairman of a House oversight subcommittee, said in an interview that the White House had new questions to answer in light of information he had received from Secret Service whistleblowers, as well as from a report in Thursday’s Washington Post.

    “The immediate question for the White House is whether or not they’re going to share the information they have with the Congress,” said the Utah Republican. He said the White House had never explained how officials had been able to clear the volunteer of wrongdoing in its own investigation.

    At issue is President Barack Obama’s trip to Cartagena, Colombia, in the spring of 2012 for the Summit of the Americas. Before it ended, the trip was overshadowed by news that some Secret Service agents and U.S. military personnel setting up security ahead of Obama’s arrival had hired local prostitutes and brought them back to their hotel rooms.

    Around two dozen people were implicated, and more than a half-dozen Secret Service agents were subsequently fired. Others were disciplined.

    Thursday, The Washington Post reported new details of allegations against a White House volunteer, Jonathan Dach, who was helping with advance work on the trip. He was cleared in the White House investigation at the time and went on to get a job at the State Department, where he works as an adviser in its Office of Global Women’s Issues.

    That review found “no corroborating evidence” to indicate that the volunteer staffer had brought a prostitute to his room, White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One when asked about the issue Thursday.

    Schultz also rejected claims of a cover-up. He didn’t specifically say if the White House would share information with Congress but said, “We do comply with all legitimate oversight requests.”

    Richard Sauber, a Washington lawyer representing Dach, said the allegations “don’t ring true” and are not supported by records about Dach’s movements while in Cartagena.

    Rep. Chaffetz noted that Dach’s father, Leslie Dach, is a major Democratic donor. Schultz said the father’s position had no impact on the investigation.

    Campaign records show Leslie Dach, a former executive for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., contributed at least $28,000 to Obama’s campaign and the Democratic Party in 2008, and an additional $20,000 to help Obama’s re-election effort four years later. Leslie Dach is now a senior adviser at the Health and Human Services Department.

    In 2012, the White House denied any involvement in the Cartagena incident by White House staff. And when a Department of Homeland Security inspector general investigation some months later turned up a hotel record indicating a White House advance team volunteer on the trip had hosted a prostitute in his hotel room, the White House disputed it and said the hotel log was wrong.

    Chaffetz said Thursday that new details he’s received from Secret Service whistleblowers, and information reported Thursday in the Post, seemed to provide additional evidence. That included corporate records from Dach’s Cartagena hotel suggesting the man had an overnight guest.

    Chaffetz also said that officials in the inspector general’s office alleged they were discouraged from pursuing questions related to White House involvement and in some cases were put on leave when they did.

    “All signs point to a cover-up, but I want to give the White House a chance to explain itself,” Chaffetz said. He promised hearings.

    The White House dismissed the allegations as thoroughly investigated old news.

    “As was reported more than two years ago, the White House conducted an internal review that did not identify any inappropriate behavior on the part of the White House advance team,” Schultz said. “And of course there was no White House interference with an (inspector general) investigation.”

    The Secret Service is in the midst of its own embarrassing self-examination after a string of failures, including an incident last month in which a man with a knife climbed over the White House fence, sprinted to the mansion’s front door and made it to the East Room. The Secret Service director, Julia Pierson, resigned last week and the agency is now being run by an acting director pending reviews of what went wrong.

    Unlike some of the earlier incidents, where Republicans and Democrats joined together to criticize the Secret Service, the Cartagena case has the potential to provoke partisan clashes on Capitol Hill and create political problems for Obama — with congressional elections less than a month away.

    Another potential headache for the White House involves the role of Kathy Ruemmler, the former White House counsel and a leading contender to be Obama’s next attorney general.

    Schultz said Ruemmler conducted the Cartagena review in a “careful, thorough way.”


    Associated Press writers Julie Pace, Alicia Caldwell, Jack Gillum and Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

    The post White House denies renewed allegations about Secret Service scandal appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    gawande_bookfly

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight: deciding what’s important, and preparing for the inevitable, a conversation about the end of life.

    Jeffrey Brown has that.

    JEFFREY BROWN:“I learned about a lot of things in medical school, but mortality wasn’t one of them,” words written by a surgeon, but if you take out the reference to medical school, probably true of most of us. We might learn to live. Few of us learn to die.

    That is the subject of a new book titled “Being Mortal.”  And the aforementioned surgeon is also the author, Atul Gawande.

    And welcome to you.

    DR. ATUL GAWANDE, Author, “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End: Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There are two facts of life you seem to focus on. One is that, yes, we all age and die, and the other is that we don’t seem to understand it very well.

    DR. ATUL GAWANDE: No.

    Medicine has taken over mortality in some sense. We are responsible more and more for trying to fix the problems of aging and dying. But we don’t know how to do it. And I think the thing that I discovered was, we have a fundamental failure. We don’t recognize that people have priorities besides just living longer.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Why do we not understand that, I mean, that we want to live longer, but we want to live longer in a certain way with certain values and beliefs?

    DR. ATUL GAWANDE: Yes, I think you’re exactly right.

    Some people will say it’s really important to me that my brain work, that I am who I am. Other people will say, look, I just want to know that I’m not suffering and that I’m not in pain. Others will say, I have a life project that’s really important to me.

    And the fact that we in medicine, we prioritize health, safety, and survival. We think that that must be what people place first. But, in fact, we make choices all the time in our own homes about risks we take.

    And one of the consequences is that, in medicine, as we face problems we can’t fix, like aging or a terminal illness, we often sacrifice the very reasons that people want to be alive.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You’re writing about your profession. You’re writing about some large societal issues, but you write about it in very personal terms, in your own family, right?

    DR. ATUL GAWANDE: I interviewed more than 200 patients and family members about their experiences with aging and serious illness.

    I tracked geriatricians, palliative care specialists, nursing home workers. And my dad along the way got a diagnosis of a brain tumor in his brain stem and his spinal cord. And I realized the stakes of this was, how could we make it so that he is not — that he gets every chance he has, but then that we’re also not making him suffer right through the end and taking away things that are really important to him?

    What I found is that it’s pretty simple. Priorities really matter for patients. The most reliable way to know people’s priorities is to ask about them.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Just ask.

    DR. ATUL GAWANDE: And we don’t. We don’t in medicine.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, why is that? I mean, it seems so — I read it and you say it and it sounds obvious. Just ask, what is it you want when you’re at the end of your life?

    But doctors don’t. Even family members don’t.

    DR. ATUL GAWANDE: Well, first of all is, it’s the words. Right?

    That’s a really painful set of words to say to somebody.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    DR. ATUL GAWANDE: What do you want at the end of your life? Are you saying I’m — are you saying I’m — might as well give up now?

    What I found was tracking people who are really good at these conversations, they ask the questions in very different ways. They ask, well, what’s your understanding of your condition?

    And people will often say, well, I know I can’t be cured or that I might even die. Then you say, what are your fears and worries for the future? What are the goals you have if your health should worsen? And what are the tradeoffs you’re willing to make and not willing to make?

    And asked that way, what you’re saying to people is, I want to know your priorities, besides just being a, you know, pulsing body alive, but not getting to have life, not really living.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And all of this, of course, in a society that is — we’re living longer. Technology allows that. So these kinds of issues come up evermore.

    I don’t think there’s — there is probably not a person listening to this that hasn’t faced it in some way.

    DR. ATUL GAWANDE: That’s right, either because we ourselves face it or we have a parent that is facing it.

    And the difficulty is all of that success, our ability to have technology that can always do something more. We can put you on the ventilator. We can give you another round of chemotherapy — that we haven’t learned, well, what does it mean to even die?

    And then going further upstream, what does it mean to make choices where some of these things take away quality of life that we care about, even before you die? And I think the answer is that we haven’t had the words around articulating what our priorities really are.

    For example, doctors, our approach used to be 50 years ago, it was doctor knows best, paternalism. We’re going to tell you exactly what you’re going to get, and we’re not going to actually tell you what’s going on with you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Right.

    DR. ATUL GAWANDE: And we rebelled against that in the ’80s and ’90s. We moved to doctor informative, almost a retail mode. Here are the options, A, B, C, D. Here are the risks, the benefits, the pros, the cons. What do you want?

    And people would say, well, what do you recommend, Doctor. And I was taught to say, well, it’s not my decision. This is yours.

    What people want is a counselor. An effective counselor is someone who can talk to you about, what do these numbers mean? What are you actually worried about for me, Doctor, and then let me tell you my priorities and help me choose which option will meet them.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Do you see that changing in your profession? Do you see a better understanding of the empathy that’s required to ask the kinds of questions you’re proposing?

    DR. ATUL GAWANDE: I think we actually are full of people in our profession who have had that empathy.

    If I can judge from my own situation, I wanted to do better. I tell the story of a 34-year-old woman diagnosed in her eighth month of pregnancy with terminal lung cancer. And we actually spoke about the idea that we didn’t want to make — we didn’t want to be on the train all the way to the end to the point that she never had time and quality of life, because she knew it was going to be incurable, but she wanted the best possible treatments.

    And yet we took it, took that train right off the cliff practically. We never got off with making sure that quality of life got there. And I think the reason why is, we have anxiety about asking these questions, patients, doctors, family members, because we haven’t had the words.

    And I think we know now increasingly more about what people who are really good at these conversations do, and it’s important to understand they are a skill. They require asking a few of these questions. And you have to ask them repeatedly over time, because people’s priorities change as time goes on.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    You know what? We will continue our discussion online.

    And, for now, the book is “Being Mortal.”

    Atul Gawande, thank you so much.

    DR. ATUL GAWANDE: Thank you.

     

    The post We all die, so why don’t we die well? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    paycheckpolitics

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In this midterm election, the fight for control of the Senate dominates the headlines.

    But as Jacob Kauffman of KUAR Public Radio in Little Rock, Arkansas, reports, there are issues like raising the minimum wage which might be key to driving voters to the polls.

    GLORIA SMITH, Arkansas Community Organizations: We’re letting you know so you can go out and vote and vote for this.

    JACOB KAUFFMAN, KUAR: Going door-to-door in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Little Rock, Gloria Smith is urging people to get out to vote for a minimum wage increase.

    GLORIA SMITH: And I’m just coming out telling you go out and vote for the minimum wage, $8.50 an hour.

    JACOB KAUFFMAN: Currently, the Arkansas minimum wage is $6.25 an hour, a dollar less than the federal minimum wage. Georgia and Wyoming are the only other states to have rates below the federal level.

    The proposal on the Arkansas ballot would raise the rate in stages to $8.50 by January 2017.

    GLORIA SMITH: And I know you’re a registered voter.

    JACOB KAUFFMAN: Smith says such an increase is long overdue.

    GLORIA SMITH: It would help a lot of families, especially mothers that have children in day care. A lot of people have to go to churches to get food to make out because they can’t afford to buy food. So, I would to see business pay people what they’re worth.

    JACOB KAUFFMAN: Thirty-six-year-old Gregory Stewart would certainly like to see employers pay a higher wage. He holds down two jobs throughout the year at a restaurant and a ball park. And still, to make ends meet, he and his two daughters had to move in with his mother and grandmother.

    He says raising his wages would make a huge difference for his family.

    GREGORY STEWART: Certainly being able to provide a good home life where they can have at least three very good meals a day.

    JACOB KAUFFMAN: But Roger Lacy, who owns a janitorial service company, says he believes raising the minimum wage would actually hurt the people it intends to help.

    Lacy employs more than 200 workers. Most are part-time and nearly all earn the minimum wage.

    ROGER LACY, Businessman: My big opposition to the minimum wage is what it does to the teenage community. Currently,  about 24 percent of minimum wage workers are teenagers. And when you price the per-hour rate to where it’s people don’t want to hire them, then they won’t get on the ladder to getting a job.

    JACOB KAUFFMAN: Arkansas is one of five states where voters will decide this fall whether to raise their state’s minimum wage. Ironically, four of the five states are Republican strongholds. Democrats are hoping that these measures will help spur liberal-leaning voters to turn out in greater numbers, which could help Democratic candidates up and down the ballot.

    GREGORY SHUFELDT, University of Arkansas at Little Rock: There’s a large number of voters that vote in presidential elections, but drop off or don’t vote in off-year elections. So issues like the minimum wage and ballot initiatives are meant to kind of reach those voters to get them to go to the polls.

    JACOB KAUFFMAN: Gregory Shufeldt is a political science professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and says it’s no accident that in most of the states where minimum wage is on the ballot, there’s also a competitive Senate race.

    In Arkansas, the race is between two-term incumbent Mark Pryor, the Democrat, and Republican U.S. Representative Tom Cotton. Pryor is the first statewide elected official in Arkansas to support the increase. Cotton, until recently, said he opposed minimum wage increases, but just two days after the measure was officially put on the ballot, he said he would vote for the November initiative.

    With polls showing overwhelming support for the measure, Republicans have virtually no choice but to indicate approval, says Shufeldt.

    GREGORY SHUFELDT: And they might have philosophical reasons or economic reasons why they think it might be a bad idea, but, politically, it’s a nonstarter for them.

    DAVID BRANSCUM, (R) Arkansas State Representative: My dad started this mill in 1947.

    JACOB KAUFFMAN: That is certainly the case with state Representative David Branscum.

    DAVID BRANSCUM: People don’t realize the expenses.

    JACOB KAUFFMAN: He owns a cattle ranch and a sawmill in Northern Arkansas. He pays above the minimum wage, but says, as a businessman, he’s opposed to having the government dictate the wages he pays employees.

    DAVID BRANSCUM: The reality is, in a small business environment that I’m in, I can only pay so much. I mean, I am dictated by the national markets. The lumber market, the tire market, they all tell me what I’m going to get. I have no control over that.

    But if I — if the government is going to come in and say, well, all right, you’re going to have to do this, then maybe I can’t. Maybe I shut down.

    JACOB KAUFFMAN: But as a representative, Branscum says he’s going to have to support the ballot initiative.

    DAVID BRANSCUM: Well, that’s because, what, 80 percent of the people are for it. I mean, it’s hard to come out and be strongly opposed to a position when everybody wants to try to help everybody out. That’s why we’re here, to try to help people. But, as a Republican, you don’t want to hurt business. So it’s a delicate balancing act that we have to do.

    JACOB KAUFFMAN: Patrick Hays is the former mayor of North Little Rock. A Democrat, he’s running for a U.S. House seat in Arkansas’ most Democratic-leaning district. He recently greeted people at the Taste of the Town, an annual festival featuring local restaurants.

    He says he’s hopeful that, with Republicans saying they support minimum wage measures, there may even be enough bipartisan cooperation to get a federal increase passed.

    PATRICK HAYS,(R) Arkansas Congressional Candidate: There needs to be an increase. And whether it be $10.10 or whether it be something less, I would hope that we could arrive at that on a bipartisan basis and then go forward, because I think the country — the country will benefit by that.

    JACOB KAUFFMAN: Prospects of a federal increase are unlikely, with many Democrats, including Senator Pryor, opposed to a higher rate.

    But passage of the five different state measures is quite likely, especially if history is any guide. Since 2002, 10 states have voted on minimum wage increases, and all 10 measures were approved with overwhelming support.

     

    The post Arkansas Republicans fall in line to support popular minimum wage hike appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    saltmarsh-bird

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Much of our reporting on climate change has focused on the impact it could have on people or on the environment in which they live.

    But one area that tends to get less attention is how climate change will affect wildlife. There’s a major habitat restoration project in San Francisco Bay that’s trying to address that very issue.

    The NewsHour’s Cat Wise has our report.

    RACHEL TERTES, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: So, welcome, everyone, to our first morning of trapping.

    CAT WISE: On a recent morning, a small group of volunteers clad in rubber boots gathered at a park on the edge of the San Francisco Bay.

    RACHEL TERTES: So when the animal walks in, he sets the trap off.

    CAT WISE: They’d come to help U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials gather traps in a restored tidal marsh to determine if an endangered species, found only in this area of the bay, is making a comeback.

    Wildlife biologist Rachel Tertes carefully opened the first trap and out spilled a tiny creature, just what they were hoping to find.

    RACHEL TERTES: This cinnamon belly would tell us pretty much right away that this is a salt marsh harvest mouse.

    CAT WISE: The endangered harvest salt marsh mouse is, well, pretty cute. It’s lost about 90 percent of its habitat due to human development along the bay, and now, according to Tertes, it faces a new threat: climate change.

    RACHEL TERTES: The mouse is really tied to this habitat of pickleweed. They live on this plant. They move up and down the plant throughout the tide cycles.

    One of the concerns with the climate change is really going to be the sea level rise portion of it, so, as the tide increases, you have more water covering more plants, and so they have less areas for those — for the mice to move up.

    CAT WISE: While the odds are stacked against it, the harvest salt marsh mouse and several other endangered and threatened species in San Francisco Bay may have a fighting chance, thanks to a large-scale ecological project now under way.

    It’s called the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, and it’s the largest tidal wetland restoration effort on the West Coast.

    JOHN BOURGEOIS, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project: We’re at over 15,000 acres, which is an area about the size of Manhattan.

    CAT WISE: John Bourgeois is the project’s executive manager. He’s heading up a multiagency collaboration to turn former industrial salt ponds back into thriving marshland habitat for wildlife and fish.

    The ponds, which have lined San Francisco Bay’s southern shores for more than 100 years used to be owned by the Cargill Corporation. In 2003, the state, the federal government, and several private foundations acquired them for $100 million, and turned them back into public lands.

    Since then, 3,500 acres, about 25 percent of the overall project, have been restored.

    JOHN BOURGEOIS: We’re going to show you how much the habitat has come in.

    CAT WISE: To see the results firsthand, we hopped on a boat with Bourgeois and traveled several miles to one of the first salt ponds that was opened back up to bay waters.

    JOHN BOURGEOIS: Were entering into what used to be an industrial salt pond. We actually had to cut through this narrow strip of marsh and through this giant levee here. And what used to be here in was a vast salt flat. It was white, barren, looked like a moonscape, hard pack, dense salt.

    And eight years later, with these natural processes coming in and allowed to take over, we have got several feet of mud that’s actually accumulated, and with this a new marsh.

    CAT WISE: The restored marshes have quickly been repopulated with wildlife. Native bird populations have doubled and fish are thriving. Leopard sharks and other predators have returned, a sign, scientists say, of a healthy ecosystem.

    While it may seem like a typical wetlands restoration, open up the levees and let Mother Nature do her thing, this project is actually charting new ground in restoration science. And officials here say, with climate change looming in the future, they are taking a very hands-on approach.

    JOHN KRAUSE, California Department of Fish and Wildlife: As these marshes are creating sediment and keeping pace with sea level rise, we’re also trying to put other enhancements into the landscape.

    CAT WISE: John Krause of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife showed us one of those new features specially built into the restored areas to help the harvest salt marsh mouse and other wildlife adapt to rising sea levels.

    JOHN KRAUSE: There’s a mound out in the marsh, and what that has is higher ground that’s still within the marsh plain, and away from the developed edge where there are predators or people, and providing a place for them to seek refuge, and have a place to hide when there are high-tide events.

    CAT WISE: In addition, the sides of existing levees are being widened, and planted with native grasses. Krause says scientists are closely monitoring how wildlife and fish react to these changes.

    JOHN KRAUSE: Adaptive management is a term of art and science where you are incorporating change in the landscape, and watching those changes over time to learn how you might apply that into the future.

    CAT WISE: Some species of birds actually flourished in the former salt ponds. So project managers have decided some areas will remain as ponds, but with less salinity and newly added nesting grounds.

    Project manager JOHN BOURGEOIS:

    JOHN BOURGEOIS: This pond in particular has been called a Disneyland for birds. Were really trying to maximize the amount of habitat that’s available to them in a novel way.

    CAT WISE: While the focus of the restoration has been to help wildlife, people will also benefit from new recreation opportunities and, most importantly, from increased flood protection.

    Seven million people live near the edge of San Francisco Bay, which is expected to rise between 16 and 55 inches over the next century. And many Silicon Valley companies, including Facebook and Google, are a stone’s throw from the water’s edge. Scientists say the restoration of these marshlands, which can dampen storm surges and prevent tidal erosion, may be the best hope some communities have at mitigating the impacts of sea level rise.

    CHARLES TAYLOR: We consider ourselves the St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans, in the Bay Area.

    CAT WISE: Charles Taylor is a high-tech worker who lives in a small community called Alviso at the southern end of the bay. The town has sunk about 13 feet over the years due to groundwater depletion. Flooding is a common occurrence. And now Taylor says residents are worried about what might lie ahead with climate change.

    CHARLES TAYLOR: Tidal marshlands, of course, are the best prevention for flooding. So — so, yes, we’re definitely hanging our hats on — on this project.

    CAT WISE: But while the community is embracing the restoration of the salt ponds, Taylor says residents feel the effort has been too focused on wildlife. They want project leaders to help them open up seven acres of slough near the town which has grown over in recent years.

    CHARLES TAYLOR: We’d like to see the Port of Alviso restored. They’re concentrating on the wildlife. They’re saying it’s a wildlife habitat. But it was human habitat prior to that, so at what point do you decide — how far back do you restore?

    CAT WISE: The project’s billion-dollar price tag has also been criticized. And some House of Representatives Republicans took issue with federal funding to protect the harvest salt marsh mouse during the 2009 stimulus debate.

    MAN: We will be paying taxes and interest on this $30 million dollar mouse.

    CAT WISE: In recent years, the project has been hampered by budget cuts, but Bourgeois says he’s doing the best he can for everyone.

    JOHN BOURGEOIS: The folks that are very wildlife-orientated are concerned that were providing too much public access. The people that are really concerned about flooding are concerned that we’re spending too much time on habitat, and vice versa.

    So it’s all a balancing act. And I figure, in my role, if everyone is just a little bit upset with me, I’m probably walking the right line.

    CAT WISE: The project is expected to take another 30 years to complete. The planning is now under way for a new levee breach, which will bring back bay waters to several hundred acres for the first time in more than a century.

    GWEN IFILL: Online, we have an even better view of exactly how much is left of the tidal wetlands in San Francisco Bay. You can find that video at PBS.org/NewsHour.

     

    The post Restored wetlands welcome wildlife and protect against future floods in San Francisco Bay Area appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...

older | 1 | .... | 460 | 461 | (Page 462) | 463 | 464 | .... | 1175 | newer


Loading...