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

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    nobel1

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now back to today’s two Nobel Peace Prize winners. One’s a global icon. The other is largely unknown, even in his home country.

    Hari Sreenivasan has more on both of them.

    THORBJOERN JAGLAND, Chairman, The Norwegian Nobel Committee: The Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 is to be awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: For Malala, the announcement in Oslo, Norway, came two years and a day since a Taliban attack propelled her to prominence. She’d begun advocating education for girls at age 11.

    In a 2009 documentary, New York Times correspondent Adam Ellick profiled Malala struggling in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, where her school was shut down by the Taliban.

    MALALA YOUSAFZAI: In the world, girls are going to their schools freely. And there is no fear. But in Swat, when we go to our schools, we are very afraid of Taliban. He will kill us. He will throw acid on our face. And he can do anything.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Taliban threats turned to action on October 9, 2012, when masked gunmen boarded Malala’s school bus and shot her in the head.

    She was flown to Birmingham, England, for multiple operations, but she eventually made a full recovery and with her family settled there. Last month, she told the NewsHour she has no regrets about the choice she made to speak out.

    MALALA YOUSAFZAI: And at that time, I had really two options. One was to remain silent and wait to be killed. And then the second was to speak up and then be killed. And I chose the second one, because I didn’t want to face the terrorism forever.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Ironically, the attack that was meant to silence Malala thrust her into a global spotlight. In the two years since, she’s campaigned for women’s rights and universal access to education, penned her own memoir and created her own charity.

    She also delivered an impassioned appeal to a youth assembly at the United Nations.

    MALALA YOUSAFZAI: Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Today, in Pakistan, people from all walks of life celebrated news of the Peace Prize.

    MALIK BASHEER MAQBOOL, President, Islamabad Traders Union (through interpreter): As Pakistanis, this is a great honor for us that a youngster, a young girl, got this award because of her bravery, because of her courage that she displayed.

    ZULFIQAR SAFDAR, Lawyer (through interpreter): She can be presented to our new generation, especially women and young girls, as a beacon and an inspiration for them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But among some Pakistanis, rumors still swirl that the attack on her life was staged and that she is a puppet of the West.

    Tariq Khattak, editor of The Pakistan Observer, gave voice to that view on the BBC NewsHour today.

    TARIQ KHATTAK, The Pakistan Observer: She is a girl, a normal, useless type of a girl. That’s it. Whatever she says, or she has written or is something is attributed to her, it’s the craftsmanship of her father or some hired professional writers. She is nothing special.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: For her part, Malala appears unfazed by such criticism, as she told the NewsHour’s Margaret Warner last year.

    MARGARET WARNER: Some Pakistanis say you shame their country, or that you’re an agent of Western interests who want to undermine Pakistan or Islam. How does that make you feel, when you’re out here fighting this fight?

    MALALA YOUSAFZAI: The first thing is that it’s one’s right to express his feeling or her feelings.

    When I look at the groups that speak against me in Pakistan, or anywhere, it’s a very small group, a very tiny group. I must look at the millions of people spared. I must look at the support of people who raise the banners of “I am Malala” and who are still supporting me. So I think I must not lose hope, and I must not look at the small group.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, the man who’ll share the Peace Prize, Kailash Satyarthi, is far less known to the world than Malala. But he was no less overjoyed today when he got the news in New Delhi.

    KAILASH SATYARTHI, Nobel Prize, Peace: It is not just an honor for me. It’s an honor for all those who are fighting against child labor globally. I may not be knowing them, but there are many people who are sacrificing their time and their life for the cause of child rights. And I would like to thank and congratulate all of them, because it is symbolic for me.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Starting in 1980, the now 60-year-old Satyarthi has become a leading voice against child slavery and the exploitation of children for financial gain.

    He’s led peaceful demonstrations to raise awareness, and helped rescue some 75,000 child laborers. Like Malala, he too has been physically attacked for his activism.

    Last year, NewsHour special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro joined Satyarthi as he conducted a rescue raid for underage workers in Delhi. He lamented in an interview the status of some of his country’s young.

    KAILASH SATYARTHI: You can buy a child for a lesser price than an animal. The buffaloes and cows are much more expensive than buying a child to work full-time and for all of his life.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Satyarthi estimates some 60 million children across India are forced to work in unsafe conditions, including many doing so to support their impoverished families.

    In choosing laureates from India and Pakistan, the Nobel committee also signaled its wish to ease longstanding tensions between the two countries.

    THORBJOERN JAGLAND: The committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947, and the Nobel announcement followed four days of fighting in disputed Kashmir, the worst in more than a decade.

    Today, Malala said she and Satyarthi hope to promote peace between their nations by inviting their prime ministers to the Nobel awards ceremony on December 10.

    The post Looking back at the peace-promoting work of Malala Yousafzai, Kailash Satyarthi – Part 1 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Clinton poses with Monica Lewinsky in a Nov. 17, 1995 photo, that was released Sept. 21 by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr as part of more than 3,000 pages of documents pertaining to the scandal. Reuters

    President Clinton poses with Monica Lewinsky in a Nov. 17, 1995 photo, that was released Sept. 21 by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr as part of more than 3,000 pages of documents pertaining to the scandal. Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The White House plotted strategies to defend President Bill Clinton against the political fallout of his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky and other scandals, according to documents released Friday by the National Archives that delve into painful chapters in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life as she ponders another bid for the presidency.

    The papers include lists of talking points, questions prepared for media interviews and efforts to defend the president against impeachment, part of 10,000 pages of records being released from the Clinton administration. The documents did not appear to reveal any new information that might affect a potential Hillary Clinton campaign.

    Many records involving Lewinsky are redacted, but one document sheds light on her job: Lewinsky sent an official request to hang a picture of Clinton, signing a telecommunications bill, in a White House legislative affairs office.

    Behind the scenes, Clinton officials were adamant that they were not trying to discredit Lewinsky.

    “There is no evidence whatsoever that the White House was directing or involved in any campaign against her,” Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal wrote in a January 1999 memo.

    In another email, Blumenthal derides Linda Tripp, a former White House aide who secretly recorded Lewinsky discussing the president.

    But the case caused political tensions. An aide notes in one document that then Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, a Democrat, explained “why he felt he needed to distance himself” from Clinton.

    The papers touch on the 1993 death of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster, the Whitewater investigation into Bill and Hillary Clinton’s land dealings in Arkansas, and pardons Bill Clinton granted in the final hours as president.

    With these documents the National Archives will have released about 30,000 pages of papers since February. Both the Obama White House and the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, have signed off on their release.With these documents the National Archives will have released about 30,000 pages of papers since February. Both the Obama White House and the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, have signed off on their release.

    The papers show that the Republican-led investigation into Foster’s suicide infuriated the White House, which tried to recruit bestselling author William Styron to write a piece critical of the probe. It is unclear if the piece was ever published.

    Elena Kagan, now a Supreme Court justice, makes a cameo appearance.

    As a White House counsel, Kagan defended Bill Clinton in the lawsuit brought by ex-Arkansas state employee Paula Jones. Clinton’s testimony for the Jones lawsuit, in which he denied a sexual relationship with Lewinsky, led to his impeachment in 1998. The House approved two articles of impeachment against Clinton, but he was acquitted by the Senate.

    In a 1996 memo to then-White House counsel Jack Quinn, Kagan says, “I realize now that I may have really (messed) up” in not passing on word of a conversation in connection with an upcoming appearance related to the Jones case on the CNN show, “Crossfire.” Kagan used another verb in the memo, one that’s more profane. “God, do I feel like an idiot,” she added.

    Hillary Clinton’s influence in the White House is also explored, from her role in Clinton’s unsuccessful health care overhaul plan to her 2000 Senate campaign in New York. Bill Clinton left office in January 2001.

    The memos offer only a narrow look at her Senate race — discussion among lawyers and staff over paying for political travel.

    But some are devoted to one of the Clintons’ longest-running political roller coasters: the Whitewater real estate saga. As the case threatened to mushroom into a scandal, the president, first lady and their circle of advisers hatched a strategy to convince the public the Clintons had done nothing wrong — and had nothing to hide.

    Some advocates, suggesting the Clintons step before the cameras to make their case, provided a point-by-point primer.

    “In this situation, the Clintons’ attitude is their message. They must be relaxed, open and forthcoming. Any sense of bitterness, anger or righteous indignation will not work,” said a March 11, 1994, memo written by Clinton adviser Paul Begala. “No matter how justified some of our feelings on this may be, this will be the first time most Americans will hear directly from the president and first lady.”

    “Discussion of plots, pain and personal injustice could strike some viewers as self-serving or just plain weird,” he continued. “The most important point to stress is that we have nothing to hide, we are fully complying with an independent investigation.”

    The Clintons were never implicated in the Whitewater case, but their real estate partners, Jim and Susan McDougal, were convicted in a trial that also resulted in the conviction of then-Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker.

    The documents touch on financier Marc Rich, who was indicted on fraud and other charges in 1983. He fled to Switzerland and was later pardoned on Clinton’s last day in office. Quinn, who had left the White House by then, suggests in a handwritten note that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak discussed a pardon directly with Clinton.

    Past installments of the documents have offered an unvarnished look at Clinton’s two terms, detailing his unsuccessful attempt to change the health care system, Republicans’ sweeping victories in the 1994 midterm elections and the shaping of his wife’s public image.

    Hillary Clinton, who went on to serve as a senator from New York and as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, now is a powerful advocate for Democrats in the midterm elections and the leading Democratic prospect for president in 2016.

    The possibility of a presidential campaign has heightened interest in the documents by media organizations, political opposition researchers and historians.

    Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Donna Cassata, Calvin Woodward, Charles Babington, Steve Peoples, Ronnie Greene and Stephen Braun in Washington, Jill Colvin in Newark, New Jersey, Nicholas Riccardi in Denver, Bill Barrow in Atlanta and Kelly Kissel in Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed to this report.

    The post Clinton documents show how the White House closed ranks during the Lewinsky scandal appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrap

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Pakistani girl who was almost killed by the Taliban is now the youngest Nobel laureate ever. Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize today for advocating education for girls. She will share the honor with Kailash Satyarthi of India, who’s campaigned for decades against child slavery and labor.

    Malala heard the news in Birmingham, England, where she now lives.

    MALALA YOUSAFZAI, Nobel Prize, Peace: I felt more powerful and more courageous because this award is not just a piece of metal that you would wear or an award that you would keep in your room. But this is really an encouragement for me to go forward and to believe in myself to know that there are people who are supporting me in this campaign.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We will have a full report on the two Peace Prize winners after the news summary.

    The number of Ebola deaths has now passed 4,000, out of nearly 8,400 cases — that word today from the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, seven more people were admitted to a hospital in Madrid, to be monitored. They had contact with the first person diagnosed with the disease in Spain. And the Associated Press reported that a Liberian man, Thomas Duncan, had a fever of 103 degrees when a Dallas hospital initially turned him away. He died on Wednesday.

    The United Nations is warning of a massacre if Islamic State fighters in Syria capture Kobani, a town on the border with Turkey. The militants have already taken 40 percent of the town from its Kurdish defenders, and fighting raged again today. That’s despite stepped-up coalition airstrikes.

    In Geneva, the U.N. envoy to Syria said he fears the worst.

    STAFFAN DE MISTURA, Special Envoy for Syria, United Nations: We know, we have seen it, what ISIL is capable of doing when they take over a city. We know what they are capable of doing with their own victims, with women, children, minorities and hostages.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So far, Turkey has refused to order its military to intervene in the Kobani fight.

    Speculation about who was in charge in North Korea flared again today. It came as the communist nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, missed another major public event.

    Lucy Watson of Independent Television News is watching the situation from Beijing.

    LUCY WATSON, ITN: It’s North Korean state television that is showing sight nor sound of the country’s supreme leader, as the nation celebrates the founding of his Workers’ Party without him.

    Kim Jong-un rules the most isolated country on Earth, yet hasn’t been seen for 37 days, missing a number of high-profile events. In a democracy, his disappearance would generate curiosity, but in the most secretive state in the world, it breeds rumors.

    This is the North Korean Embassy. And outside the country, the speculation is that Kim Jong-un may have been overthrown in a planned revolt by power brokers within the country, or that it could have been a more subtle takeover, leaving him to be more of a figurehead in the future or simply that he’s suffering from an illness.

    But the longer these theories persist and he fails to make any public appearances, then the more likely it is that the problem is a serious one, a problem that’s worse than just the leg injury he suffered in the past. But it’s a theory being dismissed by South Korea and the man in charge of stabilizing relations with the North.

    “Kim Jong-un’s leadership is normal as usual,” he says.

    So, it’s now a watch on whether Kim Jong-un will reappear and how soon, because in such an opaque nation, almost any scenario is plausible.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Reuters quoted a North Korean source today who said Kim hurt his leg in a military drill, but remains in full control.

    Back in this country, protests in South Saint Louis spilled into a second night over Wednesday’s killing of a black teenager by a white policeman. A candlelight prayer vigil turned into a standoff with police in riot gear. Protesters shouted taunts, and officers used pepper spray to force the angry crowd back. More protests are set this weekend over the August killing of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.

    There’s going to be an independent review of the Secret Service and breaches in presidential security. The homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson, named four former White House and Justice officials today. They served under Presidents Obama and George W. Bush. Recommendations are due by December 15.

    Wall Street ended this volatile week with more losses. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 115 points to 16,544. It’s now erased all of this year’s gains. The Nasdaq was down 102 points to close at 4,276. And the S&P 500 slipped 22 to 1,906. For the week, the Dow lost more than 2.5 percent. The Nasdaq fell 4.5 percent. And the S&P shed 3 percent.

    The post News Wrap: UN warns of massacre if Kobani falls to Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    sugarydrinks

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    JADE MAR: I don’t like Gatorade — its 2 dollars.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It’s Wednesday afternoon — school’s out — and 13 year-old Jade Mar is doing what thousands of kids in San Francisco do after school: debating what drink to get at the corner store.

    JADE MAR: Chocolate milk? Or Sprite… Coke.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The attempt to try and steer the choices of what kids like Jade drink — really what all Americans drink — has become a big political fight in San Francisco in recent months. That fight broke out in large part because of Jade’s own father — San Francisco supervisor Eric Mar.

    ERIC MAR: If you just think about this, my daughter’s generation — 1/3rd of them will develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: One third?

    ERIC MAR: And if you’re black or Latino, it’s one half.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Despite its reputation as a mecca for healthy food and healthier living, San Francisco still suffers from high rates of obesity and diabetes. Nearly half of San Franciscans are overweight or obese. Officials say not only is this bad for those individuals, but they say those ailments costs taxpayers as well — at least an estimated 750 million dollars a year in San Francisco alone.

    Supervisor Mar argues that sugary drinks are one of the prime culprits in this health crisis, and so earlier this year, he introduced an initiative that, if passed by voters in November, would raise taxes on sugary drinks across the city.

    Here’s how it would work: the city would impose a two cents per ounce tax on any beverages that contain added sugar or non-diet sweeteners. So any soda, tea, energy drink — whatever has added sugar in it — gets the tax. The tax is imposed on the distributors, who would then pass it onto the retailers. Proponents hope the store owners would then raise the price of those sugary drinks in their stores.

    For example, a can of soda that now sells for, say, $.99 would now cost about $1.24 . A two liter soda — currently at about $3.99 — would be more than $5.00. The whole idea behind the tax is when those sugary drinks are pricier than their counterparts, consumers will choose something else — something healthier — something that isn’t hit with the tax.

    ERIC MAR: I think when a consumer sees that a product will cost a little bit more, they will either reduce their consumption of that harmful product, but also they might choose a healthier option — non-fat milk drinks, even water as the healthiest and most readily available and accessible drink as well.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The city estimates this tax could both reduce consumption of sugary drinks by up to 31%, and could generate upwards of $50 million — money the city plans to steer into programs to cut hunger, increase access to healthier foods, and pay for more p.e. teachers in schools.

    It’s not the first time we’ve seen this kind of attempt. Even though Mexico implemented a soda tax earlier this year (and saw consumption go down) numerous other communities in the U.S. have tried similar proposals, and most failed to become law.

    The best known example was New York city, where former mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to ban soda servings bigger than 16 ounces — an idea that made the rounds on late night TV.

    STEPHEN COLBERT: The Colbert Report: No more giant sodas? Come on! This is America — the land of plenty! We haven’t even achieved Type 3 diabetes yet. We’re so close!

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Bloomberg’s initiative — along with many others — was defeated. But that didn’t deter officials in San Francisco, where city supervisors debated the proposal.

    MALIA COHEN: Bullets are not the only things that are killing African American males, we also have sugary beverages that are also killing people.

    KATY TAN: What is gonna stop someone from going across the way to Daly City, to Costco, stocking up on sugary beverages in another area not in San Francisco.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The initiative passed and was placed on the November ballot under the name “Proposition E” — but then the beverage industry — much like it did in New York and many other communities — launched a big campaign to defeat the proposal.

    ADVERTISEMENT: “Two cents per ounce can really add up fast!”

    KAREN HANRETTY: The beverage industry I think has tried to do a lot over the years — it’s never going to be enough for some people.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Karen Hanretty is helping lead the industry’s campaign. She’s the policy director for “Californians for Food and Beverage Choice,” an offshoot of the American Beverage Association. Their effort — with posters and billboards and TV ads in three languages — all argue that the proposed tax will hurt businesses and hurt consumers.

    Hanretty argues that the soft-drinks industry has already done a lot for public health: introducing a variety of healthier drinks, putting calorie labels on the fronts of bottles and cans, and last week’s big industry-wide pledge to reduce the calories in their drinks by 20 percent over the next decade.

    KAREN HANRETTY: We think that consumers should be able to make the choice for themselves without taxes or regulation trying to influence their behavior, or trying to penalize their behavior.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Why a tax? Why not just educate people, show them what a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle looks like? Isn’t that a better approach than taxing a particular product?

    LAURA SCHMIDT: We’ve been doing that for a long time.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Laura Schmidt, from U.C. San Francisco, has been researching public health policy for over twenty years. Though she was consulted by the supervisors who drafted the beverage tax, she says she’s not taking a position for or against.

    LAURA SCHMIDT: A lot of obesity prevention for many years has been trying to educate kids about healthy diet and nutrition.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And that does not work?

    LAURA SCHMIDT: And the evidence shows that over time, you can kinda change kids’ attitudes. You can increase their knowledge. But what you don’t get are lasting changes in behavior.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Schmidt says, one of the best ways to change behavior is education, but education combined with raising the prices of unhealthy products.

    LAURA SCHMIDT: There’s very strong evidence that taxation is one of the most effective public health interventions for reducing the consumption of harmful products.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You raise the price of a product, people use less of that product.

    LAURA SCHMIDT: Yes. Anything you can do to make that price a little higher is gonna discourage the consumer from consuming it in large amounts.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Officials in San Francisco argue that your industry’s products are part of the reason why we have an obesity and diabetes problem in this country, and they argue that taxing those particular products is a way of steering people away from those products and maybe helping the health of everyone. Isn’t that the role that government should be playing?

    KAREN HANRETTY: Well, it’s a dicey road to go down. Because we definitely have an obesity problem. We have a weight problem in America. There’s no denying that. But you can’t single out I think any one food or beverage and say, ‘Ah-ha, that is the culprit.’ Because, again, we have seen a significant decline in consumption of soda, for instance, and while those numbers were declining, obesity rates were going up. And diabetes, type II diabetes, was also going up.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It’s true that soda consumption has declined somewhat in recent years, but some of our most popular drinks these days deliver the entire recommended daily amount of sugar in a single container. Some have far more sugar in them. In fact, sweetened drinks are still the largest single source of sugar in our diets today. But the debate in San Francisco has gone beyond public health.

    Critics of the so-called “soda tax” have raised several other concerns: one being that this tax could be what’s called a “regressive” tax — one that hurts poorer people more because they tend to buy more sugary drinks. Supporters counter that those communities also disproportionately suffer from chronic health conditions that they say this tax would help address.

    ERIC MAR: I look at it this way — I think diabetes and obesity are regressive. They impact most heavily the lowest income and especially communities of color. That is incredible regressive. Soda tax will help to address that problem of obesity and diabetes in low-income communities.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The other concern raised by critics is that the tax will hurt small businesses. The beverage industry’s ad campaign features owners of small mom and pop businesses all complaining that the tax will hurt their bottom line. Mosa Sadoon — who owns a small grocery store with his brother in San Francisco — says raising the cost of sugary drinks is going to drive customers away.

    MOSA SADOON: The amount of tax? I mean, $0.02 per ounce is absurd. So I’m gonna be, what, selling a two-liter Coke for $4.99?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That’s steep.

    MOSA SADOON: That’s steep. You come from New York, you’re gonna think I’m ripping you off or I’m crazy, you know, either one of ‘em.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Of course, it’s unknown if the tax is even going to pass in the first place. Despite the failure of similar efforts in many other communities, supporters here argue that of all places, Northern California might be the spot where they finally find success at the ballot box.

    The post Sugar showdown: Vote on San Francisco soda tax draws near appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Sweetened drinks are the largest single source of sugar in American diets today. Graphic credit: Lisa Overton/NewsHour Weekend

    Sweetened drinks are the largest single source of sugar in American diets today. Graphic credit: Lisa Overton/NewsHour Weekend

    Facing rising costs from obesity and Type II diabetes, officials in San Francisco have taken aim at what they argue is one of the main culprits in this health crisis: sugary drinks.

    “Proposition E” – which will be voted on in November — would levy a two-cent-per-ounce tax on any drink that contains added sugar. Proponents believe that if those sugary drinks are a little bit pricier than their counterparts, San Franciscans will pick a smaller drink, or a healthier one that costs slightly less.

    But do taxes really change behavior?

    Supporters of the proposal say tobacco taxation proves their point. According to the Institute of Medicine, research shows that a 10 percent increase in cigarette prices could reduce overall cigarette smoking by 2.5 to five percent.

    Critics of San Francisco’s proposal, including the beverage industry, argue the city’s proposed tax won’t have the intended effect, and will instead hurt consumers and small businesses. You can watch our video report on the tax proposal here:

    If the proposal passes, will the so-called “soda tax” actually change behavior? To find out — in a highly unscientific survey — NewsHour Weekend spoke with a few San Franciscans as they bought their favorite drinks.

    We asked: if the price of your favorite beverage choices increased, would it change your behavior?

    Do you agree with the people we polled in San Francisco? We want to know your thoughts.

    Sound off on the proposed tax on sugary drinks in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook.

    The post Would you switch your favorite drink if it cost more? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — The government’s authority to screen airline passengers for potential Ebola exposure and order them quarantined if necessary is far-reaching and rooted in the Constitution and federal law, public health experts say.

    Temperature checks of passengers arriving from three West African countries experiencing the Ebola outbreak, along with other screening measures, will begin Saturday at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and expand over the next week to four other major American airports.

    The measures may seem intrusive but are legally permissible because of the government’s broad authority in matters of public health and border control, experts say.

    “It’s really not different in kind to security screenings you have to go through at the airport,” said Michael Dorf, a Cornell University constitutional law professor. “If somebody doesn’t like being screened for weapons and they sue, they’re going to lose.”

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite as legal authority the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, under which the government regulates trade with foreign countries. The 1944 Public Health Service Act also allows the federal government to take action to prevent communicable diseases such as Ebola from spreading into the country and between states.

    “One can argue whether the Obama administration waited too long, but I think it would be irresponsible for the administration not to use its legal authority to protect the health of the public,” said Peter Jacobson, a University of Michigan professor of health law and policy. “Otherwise, why bother?”

    Beyond the airport precautions, the government has wide-ranging authority to order people into isolation or quarantine when necessary, as happened with several individuals who shared an apartment in Texas with Thomas Eric Duncan, the only person to die from the disease in the U.S.

    The Constitution affords state governments “inspection” powers, and a significant 1824 U.S. Supreme Court opinion, Gibbons v. Ogden, specifically references state authority to enact quarantine laws. In addition, states have public health codes that grant authority to issue quarantine or isolation orders, though specifics vary, and governors typically have the ability to declare a public health emergency in the event of, for instance, a bioterrorism attack, Jacobson said.

    The CDC has said it issues a few isolation orders a year – which separates sick people from those who aren’t ill – and usually for individuals arriving from other countries with infectious tuberculosis. A federal quarantine, which separates people exposed to a communicable disease but who aren’t showing symptoms, is very rarely used.

    “There’s very little in the way of strong limits” against issuing the orders, except for the advice and best judgment of government public health experts, said Wendy Mariner, a Boston University health law professor.

    “When we’re thinking of these issues, we use them as a prevention measure of last resort,” Mariner said. “And that’s because they would only be useful in a situation where there is a very dreadful disease that is very easily transmitted and for which we have no vaccine or treatment.”

    A U.S. citizen who presents a heightened risk of disease upon arrival in the United States has a legal right to re-enter the country and be safely quarantined, said Lawrence Gostin, a public health law expert at Georgetown University. That same guarantee would not apply to non-U.S. citizens, but as a practical matter, giving them immediate care might be safer than turning them away and putting them on a plane back home.

    Still, there’s no question that the airport screening taps into a broader debate about balancing the government’s authority to protect public health against the obligation to uphold civil liberties – especially if the measures were made more intrusive, such as drawing blood. Those issues do surface occasionally in the courts, as in a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that said police usually must try to obtain a search warrant before ordering blood tests for drunken-driving suspects.

    Jacobson, at the University of Michigan, said that though he believed the screening measures were justified, it was imperative that U.S. citizens maintain the right to challenge quarantine or isolation orders in court.

    “You need to assume that regardless of the ability to challenge, the courts are going to defer to the public health experts,” Jacobson said. “If CDC experts testify that an individual is infected with Ebola. … I can’t imagine a court overturning a CDC quarantine or isolation.”

    Plus, he added, “It’d be hard to see taking someone’s temperature as particularly intrusive if it is – as is certainly the case with Ebola – part of treating the disease.”

    The post Ebola airport screenings may seem intrusive, but they’re legal, experts say appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Kmart is the latest retailer targeted by a data breach involving malware which may have compromised some customers’ payment-card information, the Associated Press reported.

    Sears Holdings Corp., the holder of Kmart stores, said on Friday that Kmart’s information technology department had detected the breach of payment data systems on Thursday.

    According to Bloomberg, the retailer is working with a top security firm to assess the attacks on private data, which started last month.

    The store payment data systems were infected with a form of malware that was undetectable by current anti-virus,” according to Friday’s SEC filing. “Kmart was able to quickly remove the malware. However, Kmart believes certain debit and credit card numbers have been compromised.”


    Other companies that have been targeted by data thieves include Target, Home Depot, JP Morgan Chase and Neiman Marcus.

    The AP reports that while Kmart wasn’t able to provide the number of cards affected, the company said it believes no personal information, debit card PIN numbers, email addresses and social security numbers were compromised.

    The post Kmart latest retailer targeted in data breach appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s promise to limit U.S. military engagement against Islamic State militants makes it difficult to accept Turkey’s terms for joining the fight in neighboring Syria.

    Turkey and other American allies want the U.S. to create a no-fly zone inside Syrian territory. Yet doing that would mean embracing one of two options President Barack Obama long has resisted: cooperating with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government or taking out its air defenses, an action tantamount to war.

    There are increasing demands for the creation of a secure buffer on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey.

    The U.S. and others in the coalition fighting the militants are pleading with Turkey, a NATO ally, to prevent the fall of Kobani, a border town where the United Nations is warning of mass casualties.

    A “safe zone” would require Americans and their partners to protect ground territory and patrol the sky, meaning enforcement of a no-fly area.

    For Turkey, a buffer might stem the flow of refugees and could give Syrian opposition fighters a staging ground for their drive to oust Assad, an Ankara aim.

    The U.S. wants to keep the focus on combating Islamic State militants who have captured large areas of northern Syria and Iraq.

    Some of America’s closest partners and Obama’s fiercest foreign policy critics are sympathetic to Turkey’s request.

    France came out in support this past week. The Republican leader of the House Foreign Affairs Committee believes Arab countries would shoulder the load. Even Secretary of State John Kerry says a no-fly zone is worth examining.

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has shown little enthusiasm, saying American leaders are open to discussing a safe zone, but creating one isn’t “actively being considered.”

    For the U.S. military, there are red flags about establishing an area in Syria safe from attacks by the Islamic State group and Syria’s air force.

    Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has estimated it would require hundreds of U.S. aircraft and cost as much as $1 billion a month to maintain, with no assurance of a change in battlefield momentum toward ending the Syrian civil war.

    That means U.S. enforcement could become open-ended.

    The Pentagon learned that lesson in Iraq, when in 1991 in the aftermath of the Gulf War, it established a no-fly zone over northern Iraq to protect Iraqi Kurds and another protective zone over southern Iraq to protect Shiites. Those zones were enforced by U.S. Air Force and Navy pilots for a dozen years, until the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    A zone in Syria would set the stage for a direct confrontation with one of the Mideast’s most formidable air defenses, a system bolstered in recent years by top-of-the-line Russian hardware.

    The Syrians possess multiple surface-to-air missiles providing overlapping coverage and thousands of anti-aircraft guns capable of engaging attacking aircraft at lower levels.

    Moscow infuriated Washington last year when it confirmed that it would sell to Syria its S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, considered to be the cutting edge in aircraft interception technology.

    The political challenges of a no-fly zone may prove even greater.

    Given the threat to U.S. pilots, the Pentagon would need rescue personnel stationed nearby, perhaps in Turkey or Iraq. If a plane were downed, American troops then would have to hit the ground in Syria, which Obama repeatedly has ruled out.

    Direct military action against Assad’s government also would stretch the United States’ already tenuous claims that intervening in Syria is legal under U.S. and international law.

    Many members of Congress are challenging Obama’s justification for war on the basis of the Bush administration’s 2001 authorization to fight al-Qaida. The Islamic State group grew from the al-Qaida movement, but the two now are enemies. The U.S. has no U.N. mandate to wage war in Syria.

    The U.S. could try for an accommodation with Assad. But even if Syrian forces are similarly battling the Islamic State militants, Obama has ruled that out because of alleged human rights violations and war crimes by those forces. Western governments and human rights groups cite massacres of civilians and opposition forces and chemical weapons attacks by Assad’s troops.

    Washington is searching for an alternative approach with Turkey.

    On Friday, retired Marine Gen. John Allen, the U.S. special envoy, and his State Department deputy Brett McGurk met in Ankara with Turkish officials and NATO’s secretary-general. More U.S.-Turkey talks were set for this coming week.

    Turkey has agreed to support efforts to train and equip the Syrian opposition.

    Kerry, who was heading to a conference in Cairo on Gaza reconstruction this weekend, was expected to discuss the effort against the Islamic State group with officials from Arab countries that are pressing for more robust American action.

    The post Turkey appeals to US to create ‘no-fly zone’ inside Syria appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    accessibility

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: One of the most recognizable symbols in the world is getting a major redesign to help change peoples’ perceptions. 

    For 45 years, this has been the international symbol of access for the disabled. But here in New York City, the Department of Transportation is in the middle of installing an updated version of the symbol that advocates say better represents those with disabilities.

    VICTOR CALISE: I saw it and it looked pretty cool. I was like, ‘what a great representation of people with disabilities.’

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Victor Calise is the New York City Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. Calise, who was paralyzed in a mountain biking accident, says this seemingly small change actually makes a big difference.

    VICTOR CALISE: The old symbol is very sterile, very erect. And it really doesn’t portray movement. And the new symbol shows what people with disabilities in New York City are. They’re always moving and they’re always moving forward.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The updated symbol was the creation of designers in Massachusetts and started as a street art campaign that illegally put the updated image over existing signs. Now its creators have co-founded an advocacy organization that is pushing to have the symbol accepted around the world.

    The city has been using the new icon on car placards since last December, and hopes to have all DOT parking spots updated by the end of the year.

    New York State is now also using the new symbol and the word ‘handicapped’ is being removed from state signage. Commissioner Calise says the new symbol isn’t costing New York City any extra money. The new icons are simply replacing worn out ones. But that either way it’s worth the effort.

    VICTOR CALISE: I believe the symbol will help make us more accessible. It just portrays something that’s exciting and new and fresh and having that forward moving motion.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Social Security Administration has also started using the new logo.

    The post Street art inspires redesign of accessibility icon appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Kenyan health officials help passengers fill out medical forms before screening them as they arrive at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on Aug. 14. Photo by Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: For the latest on the Ebola scare, we are joined once again from Washington tonight by Dr. Anthony Fauci.

    He is the director of the National Institute of Allergy And Infectious Disease.

    Dr. Fauci, these airport screenings we are now hearing about — they’re supposed to give us a snapshot of someone’s health. How do they work?

    ANTHONY FAUCI: Well it works in a couple of phases.

    The first is that people who come from the designated areas — the West African areas — will be brought off to the side and first a temperature will be taken, and then there will be history asked as to whether or not they have symptoms, or whether or not they have come into contact to their knowledge with someone who is suspected of or who has Ebola.

    If the temperature is negative, and if in fact the questionnaire proves no risk at all, they will be given instruction on how to monitor themselves over a period of time of 21 days.

    If you then get someone who does have a temperature or does have a suspicion that they were in contact, they would be then handed over to a CDC person who would then go a little bit more depth about the determination of whether or not there is cause to go even further, namely isolate the person or bring them to a facility where they can be observed.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What we’ve heard is obviously there is an incubation period where a time that the Ebola virus can get worse in a person up to 21 days.

    So what if when they’re getting off the plane, they seem fine?

    ANTHONY FAUCI: Well again, you could never ever get 100 percent risk free, but if you look at the exit screening that will have taken place with those same passengers when they got on the plane in the West African country to come to the United States and superimposed upon that, the entry screening, the risk of missing someone is extraordinarily low.

    It will never be perfect — nothing is perfect when you’re dealing with biological phenomenon like symptoms and fever.

    But it really dramatically diminishes the likelihood that someone will get through under those circumstances.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You know, it seems that the weak link here is someone lying on the answers to the questions survey.

    Is there any sort of database that something that’s going to track, “Okay, here’s what you said on the survey,” if it didn’t turn out to be right if that person gets sick later on.

    ANTHONY FAUCI: Well certainly, obviously, if you’re gonna to identify someone later on who gets sick, you can go back and look at what the questionnaire was so you can get data.

    But again, I really believe that that is an unlikely event. First of all, they would have to lie about an exposure and yet still be without a fever.

    You put all the things together, the odds ratio of someone getting through is still extraordinarily low.

    I mean we keep coming back to what if this one particular exception, but I think in the big picture, if you look at the likelihood of someone getting through is very very low, particularly now that we superimposed upon this extra layer of entry screening.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You know, there’s also people that are saying that there are conflicting messages that they are getting on.

    On the one hand, we are hearing how difficult it is to get the disease because most people would be exhibiting symptoms if you came in contact with them.

    But on the other hand, we’re taking precautionary measures by quarantining, say, the members of an NBC crew that might have had contact with their cameraman.

    ANTHONY FAUCI: Well again, what we’re seeing is just the extra layer of caution to try and protect the American people from any possibility of exposure.

    I mean, obviously that may seem like a rather draconian approach, but it isn’t. It’s trying to do whatever you can within reason to protect the American public.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And finally, the World Health Organization said earlier this week that the problem is getting worse that Ebola is entrenched in at least the three major capital cities, and it’s in other parts of Africa as well, and that we just do not have enough health care workers there to deal with it there.

    ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, at the present time, that is certainly the case. If you look at the numbers of people who are getting infected, the rate at which they are getting infected, at the present time, we are behind the curve.

    But the scaling up of activities, particularly on the part of the United States government, with the military going in, the 3,000 to 4,000 troops going in to provide the logistics, the engineering, and the setting up of the hospital beds.

    And hopefully, other countries will come in also and step up to the plate and put a considerable amount of effort and resources.

    So things are pouring in, but you are absolutely correct. Right now the rate of infection is really quite high.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Thanks so much.

    ANTHONY FAUCI: Good to be with you.

    The post Can airport screenings curb the spread of Ebola? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    E-ticker stock market

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: After a long climb the stock market suffered its biggest losses this past week in 2 and a half years. The DOW dropped 2.7 percent, the SNP fell 3.1 percent and the NASDAQ was down 4.5 percent. To help us understand the forces behind the sudden drop, we are now joined via Skype from Richmond, Virginia, by Roben Farzad. He’s the host of the radio program ‘Full Disclosure.’ Let’s talk first about what happened in Europe this week. What happened, and why does it matter to the U.S. stock market?

    ROBEN FARZAD: A couple of things, the big pillars in Europe, mainly Germany and France. We got some worrying news. One in the case of France, you have their credit outlook downgraded by Standard & Poor’s, the big credit rating company here in the United States. They’re worried about sluggish growth and they’re worried about lackluster pace of reforms. This is a country that has significant structural problems with labor and wages, and has a significant debt overhang. It’s hugely indebted and is trying to come out of the hangover of the great European economic crisis of 2009 and 2010. And similarly that’s connected to Germany. Germany is the giant player of the continent today. It has a hugely export-driven economy and you’ve got some weak numbers out of Germany. So, their new concern is that the entire continent and sub-continent of Western Europe can come unhinged at a time when we need all the growth globally that we can get.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And this is happening at a time when the U.S. dollar is getting stronger. So, how does that work?

    ROBEN FARZAD: Right. It’s actually very few people, you know men on the streets – that a weak currency is actually in the interest of your exporters. They can sell their wares? For a more compelling price. For example, if you’re getting more bang for your Euro than the Dollar, the more European countries and consumers are going to be amenable to buying American exports. It’s the same with Japan and its Yen, the same thing with China and its Yuan. The United States is now looking comparatively more hale and healthy than some of these struggling economies in Europe. And that’s a currency that’s uniting more than a dozen economies. It’s really important for these guys to be able to hold their own against the Dollar, but not become so strong they crowd out their own exporters.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And finally, oil prices going lower is usually good news for consumers here, but there’s also this concern about what China does in terms of buying or not buying much oil.

    ROBEN FARZAD: That’s right. China is a fifteen-ton elephant in the room. Ten, twelve years ago people would worry what oil would break $20 or $30 a barrel. Then China suddenly sends and buys this stuff voraciously. Now we’re talking about worries about triple digit oil. When you get weakness out of China, the big emerging players like Brazil, suddenly its economy is lackluster. People are worried about Russia. People are worried about the kind of secondary emerging economies. And obviously Europe, which drinks a ton of oil. Suddenly the price is going to fall. And we have new things in play here in the United States. North Dakota is suddenly producing more than the smallest member of OPEC, which is Ecuador. Production is coming up at a time when prices are falling and that stands to reason that prices could fall even more.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Roben Farzad, the host of the radio program ‘Full Disclosure’ joining us from Virginia. Thanks so much.

    ROBEN FARZAD: My pleasure.

    The post What’s behind the stock market’s sudden turmoil? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Pakistani students pray for child education activist Malala Yousafzai in celebration of Malala winning the Nobel Peace Prize, at a girls school in Malala's hometown Mingora in northwestern Swat valley on October 11, 2014.  Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai, who became the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, made the high-level peacemaking move of inviting the prime ministers of oft-warring India and Pakistan to the ceremony in Oslo in December after sharing the award with India's Kailash Satyarthi for championing children's rights.   AFP PHOTO/ A MAJEED        (Photo credit should read A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)

    Pakistani students pray for child education activist Malala Yousafzai in celebration of Malala winning the Nobel Peace Prize on October 11, 2014. The UN spotlighted the problem of violence against women around the world during its third International Day of the Girl on Saturday. Credit: A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images

    World leaders and the United Nations spotlighted the problem of violence against women around the world during the U.N.’s third International Day of the Girl on Saturday.

    “Gender-based violence — from domestic violence and human trafficking to genital cutting and early and forced marriage — condemns girls to cycles of dependence, fear, and abuse,” President Barack Obama said in a statement Friday.

    “On International Day of the Girl, we stand with girls, women, and male and female advocates in every country who are calling for freedom and justice, and we renew our commitment to build a world where all girls feel safe, supported, and encouraged to pursue their own measure of happiness,” Obama said.

    The day was designated: “Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence.”

    On Oct. 10, girls’ education rights activist, Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan received a joint 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with India’s Kailash Satyarthi. At 17, Yousafzai is the youngest Nobel laureate.

    “As a recipient of one of the world’s highest honors, Malala’s resilience and courage challenge us all to support the struggle against brutality, ignorance, and violence,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement for the International Day of the Girl. “She inspires hope in millions of people and embodies our commitment to human rights and education.”

    Yousafzai first gained notoriety  in 2012 after Taliban members shot her in the head on her way to school on Oct. 9. Yousafzai was taken to a hospital in Birmingham, England, after the bullet was removed from her head by surgeons in Pakistan. She was released from the hospital in February 2013.

    Here is a look back at Yousafzai’s work and some of the controversy it has sparked, as reported by PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan:

    Through the Malala Fund, which Yousafzai co-founded with her father, a poet and Pakistani school director, her work has had global reach and supported projects in Yousafzai’s home country of Pakistan, as well as in Jordan, Kenya and Nigeria.

    “As my father always says, he did not give me something extra,” said Yousafzai speaking at a press conference in Birmingham, England on Friday. “What he did was that he did not clip my wings. So I’m thankful to my father for not clipping my wings, for letting me to fly and achieve my goals, for showing to the world that a girl is not supposed to be the slave.”

    The post UN highlights gender inequality on International Day of the Girl appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — A top federal health official says the Ebola diagnosis in a health care worker who treated Thomas Eric Duncan at a Texas hospital shows there was a clear breach of safety protocol.

    Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the worker had treated Duncan multiple times after the Liberian man was diagnosed.

    Frieden tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that all those who treated Duncan are now considered to be potentially exposed. Frieden couldn’t give an exact number.

    Health care workers treating Duncan were to follow CDC protocol that included wearing protective gear.

    Among the things CDC will investigate is how the workers took off that gear – because removing it incorrectly can lead to a contamination.

    Duncan died of the disease last Wednesday.

    This report was written by Carole Feldman of the Associated Press.

    The post CDC: Protocol breach apparent in treating Dallas Ebola patient appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Tom Frieden and Dr. David Lakey, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, will give a briefing today on Dallas’ response to Ebola.

    Watch it live in the player above at 11 a.m. EDT.

    The post LIVE at 11 a.m. EDT: Press conference on second Ebola case in US appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Screen shot 2014-10-12 at 1.12.22 PM

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    JAMES EARL JONES: 1, 2…

    I was to stand there, say the 10 numbers.

    4, 5…

    and then fall over– fall flat over. That was exiting. And the kids liked that, too. That’s the one thing they remember—

    9, 10

    JEFF BROWN: In 1969 James Earl Jones was the first celebrity guest to appear on Sesame Street. Since then he has lent his voice to some of the most recognizable characters in popular culture.

    LUKE SKYWALKER: He told me you killed him.

    DARTH VADER: No. I am your father.

    SIMBA: I’m not who I used to be.

    MUFASA: Remember who you are. You are my son and the one true king.

    JEFF BROWN: Beyond the voice, of course, has been the actor. And at 83-years-old he’s still going strong, now back on Broadway in a revival of the classic 1936 screwball comedy, “You Can’t Take It With You.”

    JEFF BROWN: You spend much of this play smiling from ear to ear.

    JAMES EARL JONES: You caught me.

    JEFF BROWN: I did. I know it’s the character. But you look like you’re just having a great time.

    JAMES EARL JONES: That happens to be true. But also, it happens to be a choice that the director and I made.

    JAMES EARL JONES: Well, you know, it’s the first time I’ve ever been in a comedy.

    JEFF BROWN: The first time, I mean, w– why did it take you so long to get into a comedy?

    JAMES EARL JONES: Well, I don’t know. I guess I thought if you if you took acting seriously, you had to take acting as serious, you know, and serious stuff.

    TAX MAN: According to our records, Mr. Vanderhoff, you have never paid an income tax.

    JAMES EARL JONES: That’s right.

    TAX MAN: Why Not?

    JAMES EARL JONES: I don’t believe in it.

    JEFF BROWN: In “You Can’t Take It With You,” Jones plays Grandpa, the patriarch of an unusually happy — and wacky — family in Depression-era New York whose members live life as they please — not paying income taxes, not working, simply because they don’t feel like it.

    One review said Jones “infuses every word with a steady grace.” But Jones told us for as long as he can remember he’s been uncomfortable with words — a man with difficulty expressing himself.

    How can you think of yourself as inarticulate? You don’t— You think of yourself that way?

    JAMES EARL JONES: Uh-huh.

    JEFF BROWN: Really?

    JAMES EARL JONES: Oh, at parties, yeah. I’m– I’m good at listening. That I learned well. And– keepin’ up– is– could be– can be a chore.

    JEFF BROWN: It began early during what he’s described as a difficult childhood. His father abandoned the family and he was raised by primarily by his grandparents, first in Mississippi and then on a farm in Michigan. And he developed a severe stutter.

    JAMES EARL JONES: People would come to the house and there’d be introductions made and I couldn’t introduce myself.

    JEFF BROWN: It was that bad?

    JAMES EARL JONES: Yeah.

    JEFF BROWN: It’s kind of remark–

    JAMES EARL JONES: I found it was oh, so good sometimes because silence isn’t bad. It’s good to listen. And I learned to listen.

    JEFF BROWN: Jones says it was, in part, that very thing, that drove him toward acting. A high school teacher had helped him overcome his stutter by having him recite poetry at the front of the class. In the early 1950’s, Jones had just gotten out of the Army and decided to give New York theatre a try.

    JAMES EARL JONES: And I didn’t know I was landing in the middle of the revolution that involved theatre being changed to every man. I just came and walked into it like a dummy outta the Army. And this stuff is going on around me. Suddenly, I began to put it together. And it’s quite wonderful.

    JEFF BROWN: It was a time when Broadway embraced stories about regular people like Willy Loman, the protagonist in Arthur Miller’s “A Death of a Salesman” and Stanley Kowalski in “A Street Car Named Desire,” famously performed by Marlon Brando.

    But in Jones’s very first small role on Broadway in 1958, in Sunrise at Campobello, a play based on President Franklin Roosevelt’s struggle with polio, an old problem came back to haunt him.

    JAMES EARL JONES: I was playing a houseboy. And I had a scene. I came into Eleanor Roosevelt. I said, “Mrs. Roosevelt, supper is served.” Well, I got as far as “Mrs.” M– we’re often hung on the M word, the mama word or whatever you wanna call it, us stutterers.

    I think the audience knew what was happening. It was a play. They bought tickets. And I’m up there acting. And I can’t talk. My line was simple, “Mrs. Roosevelt, supper is served.” And I exited. And that’s the last time it’s ever happened to me.

    JEFF BROWN: It may surprise you that Jones, with undoubtedly one of the most recognizable voices in the world–

    JAMES EARL JONES: This is CNN

    JEFF BROWN: –says he still struggles with stutter to this day. But it hasn’t held him back on stage, film, or television. Jones has won three Emmy Awards, an honorary Academy Award and two Tony Awards for his stage performances in the “Great White Hope” about a black boxer, and for August Wilson’s play, “Fences” about the African American experience and race relations.

    JAMES EARL JONES: Don’t you try and go through life worried if someone had liked you or not. You best make sure that they are doing right by you.

    JEFF BROWN: Jones had several other notable roles, including Othello on Broadway.

    JAMES EARL JONES: People will come, Ray.

    JEFF BROWN: And in the modern film classic, Field of Dreams. Jones told us that early on, his roles were limited because of his race.

    JAMES EARL JONES: I’m going to bust it wide open and the we are all going to go out for a champagne lunch.”

    JEFF BROWN: But despite being one of the most prominent African American actors of his generation, Jones has never defined his career in racial terms.

    JAMES EARL JONES: I never thought there was a thing– such a thing as black theatre or African American theatre.

    JEFF BROWN: Race wasn’t even a consideration in the current production of “You Can’t Take it with You.” All the other actors playing members of his family are white. But the 1936 version of the play did have some racial references, one of which made Jones uncomfortable.

    JAMES EARL JONES: My questions were, for instance, okay, these characters, these– these writers wrote in two black people, It’s two people who were servants. When the girl who plays my daughter, Penny, says, “Oh, they’re so cute. They’re a little, like, Porgy and Bess.”

    JEFF BROWN: Really?

    “Porgy and Bess”, the opera first performed in 1935, portrayed African Americans in ways that some–then and now—felt were racist stereotypes.

    JAMES EARL JONES: I recommended we don’t say that line. ‘Cause why– why beg the question?

    JEFF BROWN: The line was ultimately taken out.

    Ironically, after all his success on stage and screen in more than 200 roles, jones is probably still best known for being the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars trilogy. And the first movie, released in 1977, may have been his easiest gig ever.

    Star Wars was almost, like, for you it wasn’t a big deal, right? I mean, you recorded it fairly quickly, I understand.

    JAMES EARL JONES: Oh, in two and a half hours. Yeah.

    JEFF BROWN: Two and a half hours. Yeah. And, yet, it became one of the most well-known voices in the world.

    JAMES EARL JONES: Because the overall theme of that project meant something to everybody.

    JEFF BROWN: Jones says the roles he’s most proud of, though, are ones in which he played characters who, like himself, struggle with language. Men like Lennie in “Of Mice and Men” and Hoke in “Driving Miss Daisy.”

    SON: She can say anything she like but she cant fire you., you understand?

    HOKE: Sure I do. Don’t worry none about it. I hold on no matter what way she run me. When I was nothing but a little boy on the farm butt naked razzle hogs on the ground at killing time and no hog get away from me yet.

    JAMES EARL JONES: Very simple people, people who don’t articulate much, people like me, who don’t have language, who are inarticulate. I like Hoke in Driving Miss Daisy. Hoke invents a language of his own. He doesn’t know how to use English as you and I are doing right now. But he has a way of talking that is quite poetic.

    The post From stutterer to star: How James Earl Jones found his voice appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Stephen B. Thornton/For the Washington Post

    U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, right, greets George Edwards, left, after Cotton addressed a crowd of supporters at a Republican headquarters office April 26, 2014 in Hot Springs, Ark. Sen. Pryor is in a tight reelection campaign with Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton. 2014 Credit: Stephen B. Thornton/Washington Post

    WASHINGTON — A free steak dinner for everyone who predicted the Senate races in Kansas and South Dakota would be in doubt three weeks from Election Day.

    Or that the most-discussed campaign TV ad would show a smiling woman talking about castrating hogs.

    Oh? No takers?

    When the run toward the 2014 election began, several things were certain:

    -Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, was in deep trouble.

    -Republicans easily would hold Senate seats in states that President Barack Obama lost badly.

    -Domestic issues, and especially the president’s health care law, would rise above all others.

    All that, and more, has changed.

    Kasich’s re-election now seems so assured that fans talk of his making a second run for president. (It helped that his Democratic opponent was found in a dark parking lot with a woman who’s not his wife.)

    In the Senate, Republicans still seem on track to pick up the six seats they need to take control. They recruited good candidates and focused on several states Obama lost. Democratic retirements made West Virginia and South Dakota slam dunks.

    Democrats facing re-election offered big targets in Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska and North Carolina.

    But with Senate control so tantalizingly close, Republicans find themselves investing time, staff and money into protecting a three-term senator in Kansas – one of the most conservative states.

    “Anyone who predicted that last year is either psychic or psychotic,” said Matt Bennett, a veteran of Democratic campaigns.

    Even if GOP Sen. Pat Roberts survives the challenge from independent Greg Orman, Republicans also must lock down South Dakota, a once-unthinkable concern.

    Democrats are pouring $1 million into TV ads attacking Republican Mike Rounds, a former governor. Driving the uncertainty is third-party candidate Larry Pressler, who spent 18 years in the Senate as a Republican. Republicans answered quickly with $1 million worth of TV ad buys.

    If Republicans lose either of those states, and fall one seat short of controlling the Senate, it will rank among the most crushing failures in recent political history. Especially with a 2016 map that strongly favors Democrats.

    Other 2014 campaign surprises:

    - The “incredible disappearing Obamacare debate,” as described by Dan Schnur, a former top Republican aide who now teaches at the University of Southern California.

    For the third straight election, attacking Obama’s health law is the Republicans’ go-to tactic. But strategists in both parties say the relentless criticism is losing punch as millions of people acquire insurance under the law. Many GOP candidates have broadened their denunciations to Obama’s overall competency and tying their Democratic opponents to him generally.

    - The rise of fear – of terrorism and disease, especially – as an issue.

    Neither was a topic of discussion during the months of state primaries. But the rise of Islamic State militants, Obama’s decision to order airstrikes against them, and the outbreak of Ebola have roiled the final weeks of the campaign.

    Several Republican candidates are replacing their ads attacking the health law with sometimes frightening warnings about the risks and threat of the militants and the virus.

    Obama, they argue, isn’t doing enough, or isn’t competent enough, to keep Americans safe.

    Democrats call the claims grossly exaggerated and fear-mongering. Yet they worry about the impact.

    “Democrats are once again being seen through the old lens about the party on security issues: as weak, indecisive, and afraid to use force,” Bennett said.

    - The power of one TV ad. Joni Ernst was struggling in Iowa’s crowded Republican primary for the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. Then she appeared in a TV ad cheerily saying: “I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork.”

    The ad helped push her to an easy primary victory, and her rise began. She’s now in a neck-and-neck race with Democrat Bruce Braley, a congressman who started the race as a clear favorite.

    Both candidates have stumbled at times. But Ernst proved that a pitch-perfect ad can break through the din and transform a race almost overnight.

    - The role of third-party candidates. They run in every election, but rarely play much of a role. Not this year.

    Orman refuses to say whether he would align himself with Democrats or Republicans. But he still shook up the Kansas Senate race by driving out the Democratic nominee and possibly consolidating the anti-Roberts vote.

    In South Dakota, Pressler didn’t scare away the Democrats’ nominee, but he has rattled Republicans with his rise.

    Third-party Senate candidates in Louisiana and Georgia could force runoffs that might leave control of the Senate in doubt until December, or even January. Both states require a runoff if no one exceeds 50 percent on the November ballot.

    In Maine, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has angered many voters, “but he’s alive because of a liberal third party gadfly hurting the Democrats,” Bennett said.

    NewsHour Weekend reported on the unexpected political races in Kansas. Watch the report from September below: 

    The post As midterms near, political shake-ups in Kansas, South Dakota possible appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has gotten an update about the latest developments on Ebola from his health secretary and his assistant for homeland security.

    The White House says Obama has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to move as quickly as possible in investigating the apparent breach of infection control procedures at the Texas hospital that had treated a Liberian man with the virus.

    Obama also is having federal authorities take more steps to make sure hospitals and health care providers are ready to follow the proper procedures in dealing with an Ebola patient.

    The post Obama receives update on latest Ebola developments appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    UPDATE: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed test results that a health worker from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital is positive for Ebola.

    In a statement, the CDC said that the hospital and patient had been notified of the confirmatory test results.

    “This development is understandably disturbing news for the patient, the patient’s family and colleagues and the greater Dallas community,” the statement said. “The CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services remain confident that wider spread in the community can be prevented with proper public health measures, including ongoing contact tracing, health monitoring among those known to have been in contact with the index patient, and immediate isolations if symptoms develop.”

    G.C. Williford, Battalion Chief of the Dallas Fire Department, walks on Sunday past a barrel containing waste material that was removed from the home of the health care worker diagnosed Saturday night with Ebola in Dallas, Texas. Credit: Mike Stone/Getty Images

    G.C. Williford, Battalion Chief of the Dallas Fire Department, walks past a barrel containing waste material removed from the home of the health care worker preliminarily diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, Texas. Credit: Mike Stone/Getty Images

    This report was originally published on Oct. 12 at 2:34 ET.

    A second case of Ebola in the United States has been preliminarily identified in a Dallas health worker, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Sunday.

    Speaking at a press conference late Sunday morning, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said a breach of safety protocol was apparent and that more cases of Ebola may emerge.

    “Unfortunately it is possible in the coming days we will see more Ebola cases,” he said.

    The person who has preliminarily tested positive for Ebola is a hospital employee who had extensive contact with Thomas Duncan, the first Ebola patient in the U.S. who died from the virus on Wednesday.

    Dr. Daniel Varga, of the Texas Health Resources, said during an earlier press conference on Sunday that the health care worker had reported a fever on Friday night as part of a self-monitoring process required by the CDC. The health care worker tested positive for Ebola on Saturday night.

    Frieden said confirmatory testing is currently underway at the CDC to affirm the positive test result.

    The health care worker, who has not been identified and whose family has requested total privacy, treated Duncan during his second visit to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, when Duncan was placed in isolation and his condition deteriorated.

    According to Frieden, the health worker had worn protective gear when treating Duncan. In turn, the CDC is evaluating other hospital employees for possible exposure.

    “The care of Ebola can be done safely, but it’s hard to do it safely,” Frieden said. “It requires meticulous and scrupulous attention to infection control and even a single, inadvertent, innocent slip can result in contamination.”

    The post UPDATE: CDC confirms health worker in Dallas has Ebola appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Candidates in Michigan’s governor’s race will face off for the only time before November’s general election at a town hall forum this weekend.

    Incumbent Republican Governor Rick Snyder will square off against Democratic challenger Mark Schauer before a live audience on Sunday, Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. EDT on the campus of Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich.

    Detroit Public Television, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press sponsor. Christy McDonald, an anchor at Detroit Public Television, hosts. Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor at the Free Press, and Nolan Finley, editorial page editor of The Detroit News, moderate. You can watch and participate in the event live here: http://bit.ly/MichTownHall

    Left: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder delivers his inaugural remarks in front of the state Capitol in downtown Lansing, Michigan in 2011. Photo from Flickr user Joe Ross. Right: Democratic challenger Mark Schauer in 2008. Photo from Flickr user mic stolz.

    Left: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder delivers his inaugural remarks in front of the state Capitol in downtown Lansing, Michigan in 2011. Photo from Flickr user Joe Ross. Right: Democratic challenger Mark Schauer in 2008. Photo from Flickr user mic stolz.

    Through a partnership between PBS NewsHour and Detroit Public Television, citizens across the country will be able to watch together and share their thoughts in real time in a live, online screening of the event.

    Laura Weber Davis, a producer and host of “Detroit Today” at WDET, Detroit’s public radio station, will provide expert analysis throughout the screening. She will be joined by the PBS NewsHour reporters and producers who have been closely monitoring this election cycle.

    Throughout their campaigns, Gov. Snyder and Schauer have sparred over economic issues, including the minimum wage and education spending. With Detroit still reeling from its municipal bankruptcy, the incumbent will have to defend his record on spending, job creation and balanced budgets, while Schauer, a former Congressman, will have to make the case that he could do it better.

    Join the NewsHour team in watching this debate playout live, at http://bit.ly/MichTownHall.

    The post Watch the Michigan gubernatorial debate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Thousands of health care workers in Liberia said they would go on strike starting Monday because of a dispute in pay, a move that could be a damaging blow to containing the Ebola virus’ spread in the country.

    Members of Liberia’s National Health Workers Association said they would not report to work on Monday unless a demand for an increase in hazard pay — currently less than $500 — was met, the Associated Press reported.

    Association members have demanded $700 in monthly hazard pay on top of monthly salaries that are generally around $200 or $300.

    The strike could leave hundreds of patients without care as health workers threaten to abandon patients in Ebola treatment units, clinics and hospitals if their demands for improved pay are not met, Reuters reported.

    Data compiled by the World Health Organization  show there have been 2,316 confirmed, probable and suspected deaths linked to the Ebola virus in Liberia.

    The post Amid Ebola outbreak, health workers in Liberia call for strike appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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