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

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    Election day is fast approaching. What burning questions do you need answered before making your way to the voting booth? Not sure what initiatives are on the ballot in your state? Curious how voter ID laws and early voting could impact turnout? Wondering whether President Obama’s low approval rating will benefit the GOP as much as analysts predict? What about the 36 states who are electing officials to occupy not just the Senate, but the governor’s mansion? And what is #fangate?

    PBS NewsHour’s politics team has agreed to answer your midterm questions in a Twitter chat. Share your questions using the form below, and join us on Twitter on Thursday, Oct. 30, from 1-2 p.m. EDT. Senior politics producer Domenico Montanaro (@DomenicoPBS), producer Mary Jo Brooks (@MaryJoBrooks) and politics reporter/producer Rachel Wellford (@rachelwellford) will address the questions you submit using #NewsHourChats.

    The post What are your midterm election questions? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The Healthcare.gov website is displayed on laptop computers arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    The Healthcare.gov website is displayed on laptop computers arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — HealthCare.gov’s new EZ application for coverage can’t be used by legal immigrants or naturalized U.S. citizens, prompting concern that many Hispanics and Asians will go right back into long enrollment queues this year.

    The Obama administration has placed a high priority on signing up more Latinos under the health care law for 2015. As the nation’s largest minority group, Hispanics tend to be younger and more likely to be uninsured. An administration official says there have been significant improvements in the application process for immigrants, and more are expected in the future.

    But advocates are unimpressed.

    “The whole idea was that HealthCare.gov was going to be a seamless and easy process, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for immigrants,” said Alvaro Huerta, an attorney at the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles. “I think this is happening because the federal government hasn’t taken the steps necessary to resolve issues with their verification system.”

    President Barack Obama’s law offers taxpayer-subsidized private health insurance for people who don’t have access to coverage on the job. Open enrollment for 2015 starts Nov. 15. It’s estimated that 6 million more people will enroll for next year, bringing the total to about 13 million.

    While immigrants living in the country illegally cannot get coverage, millions who are lawfully present are entitled to the law’s benefits, as well as people who were born overseas and later became U.S. citizens.

    It turns out that immigrants and naturalized citizens are a major exception because they’re in a category the administration calls “complex cases.” The administration is highlighting a simplified online application as one the major improvements for 2015. Most new applicants will page through 16 screens, instead of the 76 that applicants had to muddle through previously. But it turns out that immigrants and naturalized citizens are a major exception, because they’re in a category the administration calls “complex cases.”

    Andy Slavitt, the top technology official for HealthCare.gov, said there have been several improvements to make things easier for immigrants, including expanding the list of documents that people can use to establish eligibility and updating the computer system so it won’t get hung up on certain special characters used in some names.

    “I wouldn’t say by any means that we have achieved the best we can, but I do think we have taken appropriate steps across the board,” Slavitt said. “I would suspect in future years we will be able to do more and more electronically.”

    People navigating the new HealthCare.gov will encounter early on a screen with a series of questions, the gateway to the streamlined application. But legal immigrants, naturalized citizens, and families in which someone is an immigrant or naturalized citizen will have to work through more screens and answer more questions.

    About half of Latino adults were born abroad, according to research from the Pew Hispanic Center. Of those who have become U.S. citizens, 21 percent lack health insurance. That’s well above a 15 percent uninsured rate among naturalized U.S. citizens who are not of Hispanic origin. Latinos are also more likely to be married to an immigrant.hispanic“Immigrants could be unjustly excluded even though they are eligible,” Huerta said.

    Asian-American groups are also concerned.

    “The problems will persist for our communities,” said Bonnie Kwon, health law program manager for the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum in San Francisco. “It shows a lack of commitment to provide adequate access for immigrants.”

    Kwon explained that many immigrants require help to get through the application. Trained helpers are in short supply. So the more time it takes to finish one application, the fewer uninsured applicants can be helped.

    Slavitt disagreed that the administration has overlooked immigrants. The law’s requirements mean that some people have to answer more questions and supply more documentation. He also said he thinks immigrants will benefit indirectly from the EZ application because it may free call-center operators from handling routine cases.

    “The immigrant community has been a particular thrust, and more of a passion, for us,” he said. “These are the people our team spent time with all of the year. If we don’t make it easier for them on the front end, it will mean spending more time with them on the back end.”

    HealthCare.gov served 36 states this year. Huerta, the immigration lawyer, said states running their own insurance exchanges may face similar difficulties signing up immigrants because they also must use federal verification systems.

    The post HealthCare.gov’s EZ form not an easy route for legal immigrants appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Four candidates in South Dakota’s U.S. Senate race will debate live from Vermillion, S.D., at 9 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. MT) on Thursday, Oct. 23. Mike Rounds (R), Rick Weiland (D), Gordon Howie (I), and Larry Pressler (I) participate. Live stream courtesy South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

    With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, the four candidates in one of this cycle’s most intriguing U.S. Senate races will meet for a live debate at 9 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. MT) tonight.

    Mike Rounds (R), Rick Weiland (D), Gordon Howie (I), and Larry Pressler (I) will face off on the campus of the University of South Dakota, each vying to replace retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D). South Dakota Public Broadcasting is hosting the hour-long debate alongside AARP and the S.D. Newspaper Association. Stephanie Rissler, a producer and journalist for SDPB, moderates.

    Long thought a lock for the Republican Rounds, a former governor, this race has been thrust into the national spotlight in recent weeks as Weiland and Pressler have gained on him in the polls, raising concerns among the GOP, who need to gain six seats this cycle to win control of the U.S. Senate.

    The race even received a “Colbert Bump” last week, when the comedian poked fun at the sudden attention being showered on a state usually neglected during election cycles.

    Controversy entered the competition when questions began to arise about Rounds’ knowledge of and participation in an alleged scheme to sell immigration visas during his tenure as governor. Following the death of Richard Benda, who directed the program through which the EB-5 visas were administered, investigations revealed that key documents had been destroyed, and that the alleged embezzlement had likely lost the state millions of dollars.

    Weiland and Pressler, Rounds’ closest competitors, have hammered upon these accusations in recent weeks. Weiland, a former FEMA administrator and CEO of a building safety advocacy group, has made reforming the role of money in politics a centerpiece of his campaign.

    Howie, a former state legislator who is running the most traditionally conservative campaign, trails his opponents.

    Mike Rounds (R), Rick Weiland (D), Gordon Howie (I), and Larry Pressler (I) will face off on the campus of the University of South Dakota, each vying to replace retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D).

    Mike Rounds (R), Rick Weiland (D), Larry Pressler (I), and Gordon Howie (I) will face off on the campus of the University of South Dakota, each vying to replace retiring Sen. Tim Johnson (D).

    Tonight’s debate come on the heels of one more round of accusations being levied on the former Governor. On Wednesday, a Sioux Falls newspaper published an article asserting that, shortly before leaving office, Rounds had granted state funds to a private company Benda was about to begin working for. It is unclear whether Rounds knew of his cabinet member’s conflict of interest before signing off on the grant.

    In light of these allegations, as well as a spate of outside ad spending pouring into the Mount Rushmore State, the outcome of this race is guaranteed to be a squeaker. Expect passion to run high at tonight’s debate, especially as new polls show Pressler, a former Republican congressman and Senator for the state, now running as an independent, making an increasingly strong showing.

    Notably, Pressler has recently been joined on the campaign trail by John Good, a retired FBI agent who oversaw a sting operation that offered bribes to several Congressman in 1980. Pressler was the only lawmaker to refuse the offer.

    In case alleged corruption and outsider spending do not entirely dominate tonight’s debate, the state of the economy is sure to be up for discussion. South Dakota is one of five states considering a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage. Healthcare may also be a topic of debate — Pressler recently came out in favor of the Affordable Care Act — as well as the Keystone XL Pipeline.

    The post WATCH LIVE: South Dakota Senate debate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Former President Jimmy Carter (center) waves to the press after he crosses the border into North Korea through the border truce village of Panmunjom for a four-day visit aimed at easing the peninsula's nuclear crisis on June, 15 1994. Photo by Choo Youn-Kong/AFP/Getty Images

    Former President Jimmy Carter (center) waves to the press after he crosses the border into North Korea through the border truce village of Panmunjom for a four-day visit aimed at easing the peninsula’s nuclear crisis on June, 15 1994. Photo by Choo Youn-Kong/AFP/Getty Images

    Editor’s Note: A U.S.-North Korea Agreed Framework, signed 20 years ago Tuesday, was intended to replace North Korea’s nuclear power plant program with light water reactor power plants in the interest of nuclear nonproliferation, but the deal eventually broke apart.

    Across Europe and scattered parts of the old British Empire, 2014 has been a centenary year in books and commemorations that ask yet again how great nations sleepwalked into the catastrophe of World War I. More happily this week, in an auditorium in Washington, former officials took note of how the U.S. and North Korea barely avoided slipping into a major war 20 years ago.

    The conference came with a title much less resonant than “The Guns of August”, perhaps the most widely read book on the outbreak of World War I. Indeed the conference title was so veiled, “The 20th anniversary of the 1994 U.S-DPRK Agreed Framework,” that many graduate students walking past at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies had no idea what was being discussed inside.

    Unlike the 25,000 or so books on the start of World War I, the U.S.-North Korean crisis of 1993-94 has produced barely one book (“Going Critical: The First North Korean Nuclear Crisis”) and remains mostly wrapped in the fog of nuclear physics and some unorthodox diplomacy with a country largely isolated from the rest of the world, the province of a handful of specialists and diplomatic historians.

    Even so, as the conference participants repeatedly noted, the U.S. efforts to stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons came close to a war that could have killed as many as a million people on the Korean peninsula. Many of them would have been South Koreans who were not directly involved in the standoff, 40 years after their country had been reduced to rubble in the Korean War. Yet, by 1994 and despite heavy coverage by the PBS NewsHour and other major news outlets, the Clinton administration had made no major effort to warn the American public that the two nations were on the edge of war. Only a last-minute diplomatic mission to North Korea by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who traveled with a CNN crew, brought the story out of the realm of specialists and into the universe of 24 hour cable television

    Months later, a pact emerged in which North Korea agreed to freeze a program that produced bomb-grade plutonium, and the allied nations would provide the country two light water reactors to serve its power needs. That deal, the Agreed Framework, has become wrapped in domestic political controversy in the 20 years since and led to more years of diplomatic negotiations that seemed as endless as they were fruitless.

    The Framework eventually collapsed in 2002 amid U.S. charges that the North Koreans were cheating. North Korea is now believed to have material for as many as 10 nuclear bombs. It has conducted three nuclear tests as well as test firings of missiles that might carry nuclear warheads at increasingly long distances, though not yet as far as the continental United States.

    With that mixed legacy, the conference participants who all played key roles in the original drama insisted the U.S. decisions of 1993-94 averted a war and could have led to more diplomatic breakthroughs had events broken the right way in Washington and Pyongyang at the turn of the century.

    Once again, the speakers demonstrated that the most vivid history is told through anecdotes and sometimes in self-deprecatory humor. Providing much of both was Robert Gallucci, an assistant secretary of state then and since an academic and foundation executive. Even his key role was an accident.

    The crisis erupted in the spring of 1993, when the International Atomic Energy Agency accused North Korea of secretly trying to develop weapons grade plutonium and threatened to go to the U.N. Security Council. North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    From the beginning, the U.S. and its Asian allies of South Korea and Japan saw the crisis as a nuclear proliferation issue. But Gallucci and other speakers said North Korea’s real aim was to use the nuclear issue as a wedge to create a diplomatic opening and relationship with the United States. The recently installed Clinton administration agreed to talk with the North Koreans but did not want to give them a high-level or well-known American interlocutor, such as Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord. Hence, as Gallucci acknowledged, he got the nod, an official totally unknown to the North Koreans and who had only been to the peninsula once in his career.

    From the beginning, the talks in New York came with bizarre touches. The Korean delegates decorated their ill-fitting suits with lapel pins bearing a picture of their leader Kim Il Sung. Gallucci said he never went into a negotiation with such a slim briefing book, an indication that Washington thought Pyongyang would quickly accede to the idea of joining the Asian economic miracle in exchange for intrusive inspections and an American promise not to invade their country. The Korean negotiator cited an obscure passage from “Gone with the Wind” — the wagons roll but the dogs keep barking — that totally baffled the Americans. Both sides finished off the first round of talks at an elegant French restaurant. The Koreans poured Tabasco sauce over their food.

    Not surprisingly, the talks in New York and later Geneva went nowhere and in following months the U.S. stepped up preparations to end the North Korean nuclear program by force, an airstrike on the Yongbyon nuclear plant and/or even an invasion of the North. A military buildup, as many as 140,000 American military in or around the peninsula, moved apace. By spring 1994, Americans in Korea were quietly sending their school age children home, weeks ahead of their final exams.

    Gen. Gary Luck, the top American commander in Korea, recounted a conversation with President Bill Clinton. The general assured the president U.S. forces could reach the Yalu River in six months but suggested he keep two figures in mind — one million, one trillion. “What do you mean?” the president asked. “One million killed and one trillion spent,” the general responded. The president said, “No one told me that before.”

    James Laney, the U.S. ambassador to Seoul, described how he and Luck were growing increasingly worried, and Laney kept his fellow Georgian Jimmy Carter up to date on developments. Gallucci also was briefing Carter, a nuclear engineer who understood the technical issues involved.

    Carter had a standing invitation to visit North Korea, and with mixed feelings, President Clinton and his top officials decided he should go.

    Gallucci described the situation in the Cabinet Room of the White House, the secretaries of state and defense and other top aides awaiting word from the former president on his meeting with Kim Il Sung. Secretary of Defense William Perry made a reference to “The Guns of August”, and insisted the U.S. could not fail to do the right thing just because North Korea might do the wrong thing. An aide entered the room, announcing President Carter was on the line. Everyone there expected he wanted to talk to President Clinton. Instead, the aide said, “He wants to talk with Gallucci.”

    Gallucci said he saw his career dissolving in front of him. “At least I had the money to take a cab home.”

    Gallucci reported to the room what Mr. Carter told him: North Korea would allow international inspectors back if the U.S. agreed to continue negotiations. Some in the room said that was not good enough. And then Gallucci added, Carter said he is going on CNN.

    “You told him not to go on CNN,” someone said, and Gallucci responded he did not make such suggestions to a former president. There was much moaning and groaning. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said to Gallucci, half a question, half a statement: “You did say something to him.”

    The meeting broke up to watch Carter on CNN, with Vice President Al Gore saying it was time to turn lemons into lemonade.

    And it was Gallucci who was sent to the White House press room, to a corps of reporters clamoring for administration reaction to the Carter statement. He expected the reporters to ask if war had been avoided or was imminent; instead the first questions were whether President Clinton had subcontracted American policy to a former president.

    The Carter trip and the subsequent Agreed Framework came in for much criticism, especially from Republicans. When they took control of Congress after the 1994 mid-term elections, they refused to appropriate money to carry out the U.S. obligations of the deal.

    But Gallucci said Mr. Clinton has not been “given enough credit for being courageous and flexible to solve this situation short of war.”

    Gallucci also reminded that two constants remain over the decades. The U.S. agreed to a less than ideal arrangement 20 years ago, partly in the belief that the North Korean regime would soon collapse. Now, after three generations of rule by the one family, the same predictions for North Korea are still voiced in Washington.

    Finally, Gallucci added: “One thing is the same now and in 1994. We were really ignorant of North Korea then, even though we have some real experts. We are still ignorant of North Korea.”

    Michael D. Mosettig was the PBS NewsHour’s foreign affairs and defense editor from 1985 to 2012. He now watches wonks push policy in Washington’s multitude of think tanks and writes occasional dispatches on what those scholars and wannabe secretaries of state have in mind for Europe, Asia and Latin America.

    The post 20 years later, commemorating a war averted appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A pamphlet for the " Ferguson October" demonstrations is seen on the a makeshift memorial for Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Protests continue in Ferguson, Missouri, 75 days after teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by police.

    The latest round last night was sparked after details from the official autopsy report of Brown conducted by the county were leaked to The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.

    Joining us now is Dr. Judy Melinek. She’s a forensic pathologist and associate professor of Pathology at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center. She reviewed the autopsy for The Post-Dispatch.

    Dr. Melinek, thank you very much for joining us.

    So you were provided with a copy of this autopsy report. What did you take away from it? What did you learn?

    DR. JUDY MELINEK, University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center: What I got from the report was that there’s a gunshot wound of the thumb that is going from the tip of the thumb towards the wrist.

    And that particular wound, they had microscopic sections of. So this is new information. There’s particulate material in that wound that is consistent with gunpowder. And we now know that there have been gunshots, one or two gunshots in the vehicle.

    So that is most likely the shot that occurred while the struggle was occurring in the vehicle. And it indicates that the hand was in line with the gun, meaning that the thumb was pointing towards the muzzle of the gun, for that trajectory to make sense.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So what does that tell us about what happened? Why is that significant information?

    DR. JUDY MELINEK: It is significant only in that it’s different from what we had heard from the second autopsy.

    Remember, the second autopsy was done after the first autopsy was completed by the Saint Louis Medical Examiner. And that’s done on a body that has been washed and been embalmed, and all of the evidence has been taken off of it as part of the primary independent autopsy.

    So a second autopsy is not going to catch trace evidence such as this. And so this is different information because it confirms that a close-range gunshot wound occurred of the hand probably during the struggle in the vehicle.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So the second autopsy report, that refers to the autopsy that was commissioned by Michael Brown’s family, I think a week or two after the incident.

    DR. JUDY MELINEK: That is correct.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Can one conclude then, Dr. Melinek, from this how Michael Brown died?

    DR. JUDY MELINEK: Well, we know he died from multiple gunshot wounds. That is not a question.

    The issues in the case pertain to what we call trajectory analysis in forensics. So, when you have multiple eyewitnesses — and there have been multiple eyewitnesses — and they’re all giving different stories or slightly different stories, the question then becomes for the forensic pathologist is, do you look at the wounds on the body, and then how do you line them up, and how do those line up with the stories that you are being given?

    And that is the information that is going to be presented to the grand jury, not just the witness testimony, but the forensic evidence. And it’s up to the grand jury to decide whether the forensic evidence is matching with the witnesses’ statements or not.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just to be perfectly clear about this, listening to what you have just said, what questions are answered by this autopsy report, and what questions have yet to be answered?

    DR. JUDY MELINEK: Well, what’s answered is, we know that he died from multiple gunshot wounds. It confirms the number of gunshot wounds, to a minimum of six, a maximum of eight.

    And it also shows us that there is a downward trajectory at the top of the head, which really makes sense under these circumstances, if Mr. Brown is leaning forward or moving forward with his head down. So, that way, the top of his head is exposed to the bullet and to the officer who is shooting at him.

    So that can be interpreted in lots of different ways. It depends on what the witnesses say. It could be that some people would perceive that as he is collapsing or that he is surrendering and bending down. Or others could say that he is lunging or moving toward the officer.

    You can have multiple interpretations that match up with the trajectories. There are also going to be multiple witness statements that don’t much up with the trajectories. And it’s really up to the grand jury to get all that information and synthesize it and make a decision.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So the questions that cannot be answered by this are several. It’s, as you said, how far away — it’s not so much how far away the gun was, but what else was going on at that time.

    DR. JUDY MELINEK: It’s also questions pertaining to, what else is at the scene? We don’t have the scene data. We don’t have the police reports. We don’t have all the witness statements.

    There’s other information that hasn’t been gleaned. For instance, where were the casings? How distant was the officer actually from Mr. Brown when the shots started and when they ended? And then, also, how high is the weapon off the ground? How tall is the officer and the height of the muzzle when he is pointing it?

    So all of these are data points. All of these — all of this is information that we still don’t have, and that should be presented in order to get a more nuanced picture, a more complete picture of what happened here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You have obviously dealt with a number of — many cases over the course of your career. Is it possible to say from this what the grand jury would take away from this?

    DR. JUDY MELINEK: At this point, we can’t say what the grand jury is going to do.

    And it’s going to depend on what they see. And they are sequestered. And some — they are going to be seeing evidence that we don’t see. All we have been given is what was apparently leaked. So it’s not a complete picture by any means. And their determination is going to be based on the complete set of data, not on just snippets of what we are seeing here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Last question, Dr. Melinek.

    Michael Brown’s family has said that they do not accept the results of this autopsy report by the Saint Louis County Medical Examiner or, they said, any account that comes from — an official account that supports what the police officer, Darren Wilson, has said.

    My question to you is, how credible, how much can one count on the accuracy of this autopsy report or any autopsy report?

    DR. JUDY MELINEK: I want to reiterate that medical examiners, forensic pathologists are not police. We’re not cops. We are independent practitioners. We’re physicians. And Saint Louis Medical Examiner is an independent agency and is part of the Department of Health, not the police.

    They’re not in the business of covering up for the police. They’re in the business of collecting evidence and documenting it. And you have to understand that all that evidence eventually becomes public record. So whether a family trusts it or distrusts it — and it’s perfectly understandable that people will distrust public agencies when there has been a death in the police custody or an officer-involved shooting. That is understandable.

    But these are physicians at the medical examiner’s office. And they are collecting the evidence and that evidence will be presented to the grand jury. And whether they indict or not, it will eventually all become public. So there will be complete scrutiny. There will be access to all that information. And it will eventually come to light. We just have to let the justice system do its thing, take its time, and be cautious and understanding as that happens.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Dr. Judy Melinek at the University of California at San Francisco, we thank you.

    DR. JUDY MELINEK: Thank you.

    The post What the forensic evidence says about Michael Brown’s death appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Soldiers from the U.S. Army 615th Engineer Company, 52nd Engineer Battalion put on one of three pairs of protective gloves during the final session of personal protective equipment training at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The World Health Organization reported the Ebola outbreak is still racing well ahead of efforts to stop it. West Africa needs at least 4,000 more hospital beds and thousands more workers.

    In addition, the first case in Mali was confirmed today. And while drugs and vaccines are still being developed, there’s a push to see if science can find new and different answers.

    The president’s team had a meeting on that subject today.

    Shortly afterward, our science correspondent, Miles O’Brien, sat down in the Briefing Room with the president’s top science adviser, John Holdren.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Dr. Holdren, thank you so much for being with us.

    JOHN HOLDREN, Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy: Happy to be here.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Tell us a little bit — for people who are uninitiated, a little bit about this group and this meeting. What was the goal here today?

    JOHN HOLDREN: Well, the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology is a group of leaders from the scientific, engineering and biomedical communities from around the country who advise the president on a part-time basis, bringing perspectives from that wider science and technology community to bear on the policy issues the president has on his plate.

    Of course, one of the big policy issues the president has on his plate now is the Ebola challenge. And the idea of this meeting was to call together the PCAST members, at the president’s request, to share their ideas with him, particularly about what capabilities, ideas and approaches from the private sector and the academic sector could be married to what the government is already doing on the Ebola challenge, which is a lot, in order to amplify and improve the effectiveness of the whole effort.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Let’s talk a little bit about technology here.


    MILES O’BRIEN: Are there technological solutions out there that are within the time frame of the current crisis that could make a dent?

    And one of the things we think about, of course, is protecting our health care workers. Is there a better garment and a better procedure out there that your group is seeing?

    JOHN HOLDREN: Well, in fact, we have been working inside the government on better personal protective equipment. They call it PPE.

    We had a two-day workshop October 10 and 11 with over a hundred innovators, inventors, public health practitioners, doctors, working on how to improve these garments. Of course, part of the challenge with the garments we have is making sure you put them on and take them off in a way that is safe.

    But a further problem with them is that they’re not air-conditioned. And a lot of this work is going out in very hot and humid environments. The workers can only stay in these garments for maybe 40 minutes to an hour. So, we’re working on garments that can be cooled. We also have assistance from NASA in this space.

    This is very much inside the government, an interagency effort. NASA knows how to make protective suits that work in extreme environments. We’re tapping that expertise, along with others, to end up with better suits so that the health care workers can work longer and safer.

    MILES O’BRIEN: So, if we can put a man on the moon, we can make them safe to deal with Ebola, can’t we?


    JOHN HOLDREN: Exactly.


    JOHN HOLDREN: Exactly.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Let’s talk a little bit about another technological solution that I read about. I was a little bit skeptical about it, the idea that robots could somehow be employed to deal with this crisis in a way that would protect human beings. Is that realistic at this point?

    JOHN HOLDREN: Well, in fact, we are having a workshop, my office, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and a number of other partners on November 7 on potential uses of robots in the Ebola challenge.

    Perhaps the best example of how a robot can be useful is cleaning up and decontaminating a room that has had Ebola patients in it, and has a lot of contaminated stuff in it. Obviously, if you could have a robot do that, and do it effectively, it would be safer than having a human being dealing with all of that contaminated waste and mess.

    MILES O’BRIEN: But are robots really ready for that?

    JOHN HOLDREN: I think they probably are.

    I mean, you would be amazed at what robots can now do. You know, we have robots being developed that can fight fires and go into dangerous fire situations that you wouldn’t want to send a human fireman into. We can certainly — we can certainly make a robot that can decontaminate a room.


    MILES O’BRIEN: I suspect that’s not within the time frame of the immediate crisis, however, right?

    JOHN HOLDREN: I wouldn’t be so sure. I think we could probably adapt some existing robots to be useful in the current situation in a fairly short span of time.

    MILES O’BRIEN: All right.

    Let’s talk a little bit on the science side for a minute. I know this is not your particular area of expertise, so — and there are other people in the government who are…

    JOHN HOLDREN: Thank you for recognizing.


    MILES O’BRIEN: You are a physicist, and I get that. So, as — but there are a lot of people who have been working for some time on vaccines.


    JOHN HOLDREN: Absolutely.

    MILES O’BRIEN: But Ebola has been around for a long time, and we’re still waiting for a vaccine. Is it still quite some time before one might be available?

    JOHN HOLDREN: Well, obviously, the current crisis has ramped up the interest and the effort in developing an Ebola vaccine. There is a promising vaccine in what they call phase one testing right now, looking to confirm the immunological response that one is looking for in a vaccine that would then, if it passes that test, go into what they call phase two and three testing, where they are looking for efficacy and the absence of any unmanageable side effects.

    It is possible that we would have a vaccine by some time next year. These time scales are challenging. You have to do clinical trials to be sure that you are dealing with a vaccine that is going to do a lot of good and not a lot of harm on the side.

    And with luck, we will have a vaccine in a matter of months, not in years. But then you have the challenges of ramping up the production. And one of the things that, with PCAST, the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, is looking at is, how can the government and the private sector work together to make sure that we have the production capacity that would be needed the moment we have a good vaccine?

    MILES O’BRIEN: I would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the travel ban, much discussed, much misunderstood. The question is, you know, if you are trying to stop the spread of a disease, isn’t it prudent to stop the spread of the people who might be carrying the disease, and wouldn’t it be prudent to initiate a travel ban from people coming out of these countries?

    JOHN HOLDREN: We think a travel ban is actually a bad idea, in that it would make the American public less safe and our challenge of dealing with this epidemic worse.

    MILES O’BRIEN: How so less safe?

    JOHN HOLDREN: And the reason is that, if you emplace a travel ban, first of all, you only catch a modest fraction of the people who are moving around.

    We have, for example, about 150 people a day traveling directly to the United States from these countries, that is, not on a broken itinerary, where they stop for a week in London or Paris or Brussels in between, about 150 a day; 55 percent of those are American citizens who have a constitutional right to return to the United States.

    Another 10 percent are green card holders who one is not sure their permanent residence. We’re not sure that it would be a great idea to keep American green card holders from returning. But the worst thing about a travel ban is that it would drive travel underground.

    Right now, we are able to identify and monitor the people who are coming in from these countries. As you know from the newspaper, we now have them all funneling into five airports. Everybody who comes in from these countries is advised to monitor and report in every day on their temperature and whether they are showing any symptoms.

    You put a travel ban on, you’re going to drive the travel underground. There are lots of routes by which people can get into this country without being noticed in the net you would have under a travel ban. And you will have far less control, far less insight, far less monitoring than you have now.

    You would, in addition, of course, with a travel ban, make it much harder for health workers to come in and out, make it much harder for us to control the epidemic there. If we can’t control the epidemic there, the sources from which it could spread to the United States will propagate and, again, in that longer-term respect, we will also be worse off.

    MILES O’BRIEN: To the extent that you are dealing with in this country an epidemic of fear more than an epidemic of disease, would announcing a travel ban, to the extent that it might allay some fears, would it be prudent in that respect?

    JOHN HOLDREN: I think embracing a bad policy for reasons of optics is almost always a bad idea.

    In fact, as a scientist, I would venture to say it is always a bad idea. If this is a bad policy, we shouldn’t do it. And we should use our ability to communicate with the American public and to educate them to persuade them why it is a bad idea. It is a bad idea because it would make us less safe, and not more safe.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Dr. John Holdren, thank you so much for your time.

    JOHN HOLDREN: My pleasure.

    GWEN IFILL: So far, the more immediate Ebola threat domestically, at least, has been the fear and anxiety it has sparked. Online, we break down the impact this kind of stress can have on your health. That is on our Rundown.

    The post Space-inspired safety gear, contamination-cleaning robots: How innovation could aid Ebola prevention appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Demonstrators have been gathering in Ferguson, Missouri, since the Aug. 9 shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown by a local police officer. Protesters have been gathering nightly to call for the arrest of the officer, Darren Wilson. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Demonstrators gathered in Ferguson, Missouri, after the Aug. 9 shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown by a local police officer. Details within a recent autopsy of Brown, leaked to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, have created controversies over interpretation. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    After the official autopsy on Michael Brown was leaked to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Wednesday, details of the autopsy seemed to be partially misconstrued, according to outside experts commissioned by the newspaper to review the report.

    The St. Louis County medical examiner’s autopsy report indicated that 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot in the hand at close range during an altercation with Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. To support that finding, the autopsy said a microscopic exam found foreign matter “consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm” on the tissue of Brown’s thumb wound.

    The county’s report also showed that Brown was shot six times, with gunshot wounds to the head and chest as the cause of death. An additional toxicology report detected marijuana in Brown’s blood.

    According to the Associated Press, the report, however, did not explain why Wilson shot Brown after a struggle in the police officer’s SUV nor clarified whether Brown was surrendering or reaching for the officer’s weapon.

    Wilson has said that Brown reached for his gun, while various witnesses have stated that they saw Brown being shot while running away. An independent autopsy commissioned by Brown’s family — that was publicly released in August — did not conclude that Brown was shot at close range.

    Forensic pathologist Judy Melinek and St. Louis city medical examiner Michael Graham reviewed the county’s report for The Post-Dispatch. The paper quoted Melinek as saying, “[This] guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound.” Hours later, she told MSNBC that her words were taken out of context, adding that the findings could also explain other scenarios besides Wilson’s self-defense argument.

    “What happens sometimes is when you get interviewed and you have a long conversation with a journalist, they’re going to take things out of context,” she said Wednesday. “I made it very clear that we only have partial information here. We don’t have the scene information. We don’t have the police investigation. We don’t have all the witness statements. And you can’t interpret autopsy findings in a vacuum.”

    In a blog post, Melinek posted the email exchange between her and the Post-Dispatch, detailing the misrepresentation in the paper’s resulting article.

    Graham, who also reviewed the autopsy report for the Post-Dispatch, told the NewsHour that the report showed an altercation took place at the car.”Whether or not it’s self-defense, you’ve got to look at all the accounts,” he said. “This report doesn’t fundamentally answer the question of whether at some point [Brown] had his hands up as witnesses have said, or whether he surrendered, or whether they were up in an aggressive posture.”

    “As you look at this [report], people are grabbing onto one thing, trying to make a whole case on this one finding,” said Graham. “You can’t do that.”

    After the autopsy was leaked to the Post-Dispatch, 200 people gathered outside the Ferguson police headquarters Wednesday night. Local authorities arrested five people for disturbing the peace or failing to disperse. Protesters had pelted officers with objects, including rocks. No injures were reported.

    The killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old, by a white police officer has thrown the town of Ferguson, Missouri into weeks of unrest. The county’s report was not meant to be released until after a grand jury decided whether to criminally try Wilson for Brown’s death.

    The post What does Michael Brown’s official autopsy report actually reveal? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Canadian police announced today they have found no connection between two fatal attacks this week on soldiers. That word came as Parliament cheered the man who put an end to yesterday’s shooting assault.


    GWEN IFILL: A hero’s welcome awaited Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers at the opening of the day’s session of Parliament. He was visibly emotional as lawmakers stood in thunderous applause.


    GWEN IFILL: It was Vickers, a former Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman, who shot and killed the gunman stalking the halls of Parliament yesterday. The incident touched off panic, as police rushed in and lawmakers and staffers scrambled to get out.

    STEPHEN HARPER, Prime Minister, Canada (through interpreter): The goal of these attacks was to instill fear and panic in our country, and to interrupt the business of government.

    GWEN IFILL: Today, just 24 hours after the chaos, Prime Minister Stephen Harper insisted Canada will not be intimidated.

    STEPHEN HARPER: We will be vigilant, but we will not run scared. We will be prudent, but we will not panic. And, as for the business of government, well, here we are in out seats, in our chamber in the very heart of our democracy and our work goes on.


    GWEN IFILL: And in a chamber often divided by politics, unity was the message of the day.

    JUSTIN TRUDEAU, Leader, Liberal Party of Canada: Yesterday’s events were a shared national tragedy. It is fitting that we have come together in this place immediately to let the world know that Canada’s values are strong, our institutions are resilient, and our people are united together.


    THOMAS MULCAIR, Leader of the Opposition: It only strengthened our commitment to each other and to a peaceful world. Now, let us not become more suspicious of our neighbors. Let’s not be driven by fear, because, in Canada, love always triumphs over hate.

    GWEN IFILL: Police now say the lone gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was a recent convert to Islam with a long record of violent crimes.

    They released security camera video today showing the gunman running into the Parliament building with a rifle. Minutes earlier, he’s seen entering the National War Memorial grounds, where he shot and killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a member of the honor guard.

    Back at the Parliament, lawmakers paused for a moment of silence in remembrance of Cirillo. Family members of the shooter condemned his actions.

    In a statement, his mother, Susan Bibeau, said: “We wish to apologize for all the pain, fright and chaos he created. We have no explanation to offer. I don’t understand and part of me wants to hate him at this time.”

    Police now say Zehaf-Bibeau had recently applied for a passport, apparently intending to go to Syria, but he wasn’t under surveillance.

    BOB PAULSON, Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: I can confirm that Zehaf-Bibeau wasn’t one of the 90 high-risk travelers that the RCMP is currently investigating. According to some accounts, he was an individual who may have held extremist beliefs.

    GWEN IFILL: His attack came just days after another Canadian with Islamist militant ties rammed two soldiers with his car near Montreal, killing one, before being shot dead by police. Investigators said they have found no connection between the two incidents, but Prime Minister Harper pledged aggressive action.

    STEPHEN HARPER: In recent weeks, I have been saying that our laws and police powers need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, detention, and arrest. They need to be much strengthened, and I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that work which is already under way will be expedited.


    GWEN IFILL: But the city of Ottawa stayed on edge. At one point today, as the prime minister and his wife laid flowers at the war memorial, police drew their guns and forced a man to the ground. He was later arrested for disturbing the crime scene.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And in other news of this day, six West Africans who traveled to Connecticut are being quarantined for possible exposure to Ebola. Officials said today the family arrived on Saturday, planning to live in the U.S. They will be monitored for 21 days.

    There was also word that a New York hospital is testing a man with Ebola-like symptoms who worked for Doctors Without Borders in West Africa. We will hear from the president’s top science officer on stopping Ebola after the news summary.

    GWEN IFILL: In Nigeria, suspected Boko Haram militants kidnapped at least 25 girls in a remote northeastern town. It came amid ongoing talks aimed at freeing more than 200 other girls seized by the Islamist group in April. The abduction also raised further doubts about a cease-fire announcement last week.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: New questions surfaced today about the U.S. strategy to confront Islamic State forces. The Washington Post reported moderate Syrians will be trained to defend themselves, but not to try to retake territory. The report cited unnamed U.S. and allied officials. Islamic State militants already control large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq.

    GWEN IFILL: The Maryland man who allegedly jumped the White House fence last night was ordered held without bond today. Dominic Adesanya was quickly arrested by uniformed Secret Service agents and their dogs. He was unarmed, but he’s charged with punching and kicking the dogs and making threats.

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest said today the challenge is to balance security with public access.

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: I think the point is, it certainly would be possible to build a multistory bomb-proof wall around the 18-acre White House complex of the White House, but that, I don’t think, would be striking the appropriate balance that I described earlier.

    GWEN IFILL: Last month, another fence jumper made it past five layers of security and into the White House.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: California’s prison system will end its policy of locking down inmates based on race. Guards have frequently invoked the policy after racial violence among inmates, regardless of whether they’re directly implicated. The settlement would end a longstanding civil rights lawsuit.

    GWEN IFILL: A batch of strong earnings reports sent Wall Street surging again today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 216 points to close near 16,677; the Nasdaq rose almost 70 points to close at 4,452; and the S&P added 23 to finish at 1,950.

    The post News Wrap: Canadian prime minister pledges stronger law enforcement after attacks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Flickr user Erik (HASH) Hersman

    Photo by Flickr user Erik (HASH) Hersman

    Editor’s Note: Nearly 25 million Hispanics are eligible to vote on Nov. 4. In states with large Latino populations, they’re a coveted potential voter bloc with the potential to swing elections. But Latino voter turnout dips significantly in midterm years. As Rocky Mountain Community Radio’s Bente Birkeland reports from Colorado, this has led to stepped-up efforts, on both sides of the aisle, to court el voto.

    Latinos make up about twenty percent of Colorado’s population and continue to be a highly courted voting bloc. It’s a group that more frequently votes for Democrats, but Latinos also turn out less often in midterm elections like 2014.

    Republicans have long been trying to make inroads with Latino voters – especially in competitive states like Colorado – where a small number of votes could swing key races for the U.S. Senate and Governor.

    “Colorado Republicans cannot be the party of no,” said Dick Wadhams, the state’s former GOP chairman. He said Republicans must appeal to Latinos if they hope to win statewide elections.

    “We have to have a proactive agenda,” Wadhams continued. “It’s one thing to not be for the Senate Democratic bill on immigration, it’s quite another to have no alternative. The Hispanic vote continues to rise in Colorado.”

    According to 2014 census data analyzed by Rocky Mountain PBS I-News, 57 percent of Colorado Hispanics registered to vote in the 2012 presidential election, and more than 90 percent actually cast a ballot.

    In mid-term elections it’s a different story.

    For nonpartisan groups like Mi Familia Vota, the goal is to engage Latino voters who are more likely to drop off at higher rates than white and black voters.

    “What we hear is people don’t necessarily think it’s as important,” said Carla Castedo the state director of Mi Familia Vota in Colorado.

    “We don’t have Latinos who are overwhelmingly in support of one party or the other, it could go either way. So, now it’s the candidates’ job to do their best and reach out to the Latinos. I would advise that people should not get comfortable,” said Castedo.

    Colorado Democrats though are bolstered by the fact that 4 out of every 5 Latino voters supported President Obama in 2012. Several Hispanic politicians helped mobilize volunteers for incumbent Senator Mark Udall from a field office in the heavily Latino Adams county.

    “Let’s talk about how they don’t pass comprehensive immigration reform,” said state representative Joe Salazar (D-Thornton). “Let’s talk about how they didn’t support a resolution for equal pay. They didn’t support ASSET. Let’s talk about how they didn’t support driver’s licenses for all.”

    ASSET allows students who were brought into the country illegally, but who have graduated from a Colorado high school, to receive in state college tuition. But Democrats have been criticized for the disorganized rollout of the driver’s license bill and for underfunding the program.

    “There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” said Megan McGee Bonta with Catholic Charities in Eagle County, which according to I-News has the highest percentage of immigrants in the state. “People are very frustrated with the process and the hurdles, especially being in an area without a DMV because they do need to go to Grand Junction or Denver.”

    There’s an even larger issue on the table that Democrats and Republicans have to overcome. Surveys show most Latinos have family members or friends who are undocumented, making immigration reform not only a top priority, but also an issue that hits close to home.

    “Anything Obama does won’t be good enough” said Mi Familia Vota’s Castedo. “What we focus on is the congressional side not an executive solution. Actually having a solution that is permanent so that ten years from now we’re not back in the same situation.”

    In Colorado immigration reform hasn’t been the central issue this election season, but it has come up in recent candidate debates.

    “In 2007 you said, what happens with the estimated 12 million who are here illegally?” said Hickenlooper in an exchange with his Republican challenger Bob Beauprez at an Oct. 9 debate. “Pretty obviously if they can’t demonstrate legal status then they go home. You refer to this as a cleansing somehow. Do you still stand by this statement?”

    “Governor, the cleansing was in reference to them getting legal status,” Beauprez responded. “You were the one who said you were going to lead a march on Washington, you’re the one who has Barack Obama’s ear, if you really wanted to have it done it would’ve been done by now.”

    Independent political analyst Eric Sondermann said even if it isn’t dominating the television airwaves, both parties are trying to use immigration as a wedge issue to turnout their bases.

    “What candidates want is they their cake and eating it too,” Sondermann said. “They want to be able to mobilize their vote, in the Democrats case largely the Latino vote, without also mobilizing the push back vote on the other side. The GOP doesn’t want to do anything to exacerbate that branding problem. At the same time they don’t want to turn off some of their core voters.”

    A recent poll from the National Council of La Raza Action Fund says Latino voters are more enthusiastic than they were in 2012, listing unemployment and the economy, closely followed by immigration reform and healthcare as the top issues leading up to Election Day.

    The post Will Colorado’s Growing Latino Vote Turn Out For The Midterms? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A newly-reported Ebola patient, New York's first, is being treated at Bellevue Hospital in ManhattanPhoto by Flickr user Jeffrey Zeldman

    A newly-reported Ebola patient, New York’s first, is being treated at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. Photo by Flickr user Jeffrey Zeldman

    A doctor tested positive for Ebola in New York City after returning from a trip treating the disease in Guinea, the Associated Press reports.

    Craig Spencer, a 33-year-old Doctors Without Borders physician and emergency room doctor, was brought to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan Thursday after reporting a 103-degree fever. Spencer is currently being treated in an isolation ward within the hospital.

    Spencer is the first diagnosed Ebola patient for New York and the fourth confirmed case in the United States.

    Bellevue Hospital released a statement Thursday afternoon after Spencer’s transfer, but before confirmation of his diagnosis:

    Today, EMS HAZ TAC Units transferred to Bellevue Hospital a patient who presented a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms.

    The patient is a health care worker who returned to the U.S. within the past 21 days from one of the three countries currently facing the outbreak of this virus.

    The patient was transported by a specially trained HAZ TAC unit wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). After consulting with the hospital and the CDC, DOHMH has decided to conduct a test for the Ebola virus because of this patient’s recent travel history, pattern of symptoms, and past work. DOHMH and HHC are also evaluating the patient for other causes of illness, as these symptoms can also be consistent with salmonella, malaria, or the stomach flu.

    Preliminary test results are expected in the next 12 hours.

    Bellevue Hospital is designated for the isolation, identification and treatment of potential Ebola patients by the City and State. New York City is taking all necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of all New Yorkers.

    As a further precaution, beginning today, the Health Department’s team of disease detectives immediately began to actively trace all of the patient’s contacts to identify anyone who may be at potential risk. The Health Department staff has established protocols to identify, notify, and, if necessary, quarantine any contacts of Ebola cases.

    The Health Department is also working closely with HHC leadership, Bellevue’s clinical team and the New York State Department of Health to ensure that all staff caring for the patient do so while following the utmost safety guidelines and protocols.

    The chances of the average New Yorker contracting Ebola are extremely slim. Ebola is spread by directly touching the bodily fluids of an infected person. You cannot be infected simply by being near someone who has Ebola.

    The post Doctor tests positive for Ebola in New York appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Dr. Jerry Brown tries to comfort Esther Tokpah, 11, before she was released from care on Sept. 24 in Monrovia, Liberia. She lost both parents to Ebola. Photo by Michel du Cille/The Washington Post via Getty Images

    Dr. Jerry Brown tries to comfort Esther Tokpah, 11, before she was released from care on Sept. 24 in Monrovia, Liberia. She lost both parents to Ebola. Photo by Michel du Cille/The Washington Post via Getty Images

    Dekontee Davis, 23, lives just outside of Liberia’s capital of Monrovia. She nearly died of Ebola, but is healthy and strong today.

    Now, Davis is one of a team of Ebola survivors tapped by groups such as UNICEF to care for children in quarantine facilities in Monrovia.

    Davis contracted Ebola from an aunt-in-law who ended up dying of the disease. “It was so terrible,” she recently recounted by phone. Days dragged by before Davis responded to treatment at last.

    As an Ebola survivor, Davis is immune to getting the disease again and can safely tend to children whose parents have died from Ebola and are waiting out the 21-day incubation period to make sure they don’t have the virus as well.

    UNICEF estimates that at least 3,700 children have had one or both parents die from Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the outbreaks began in March.

    “The unique thing about this child-protection emergency is you can’t reach down and touch children,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF’s representative to Liberia. “Survivors are the ones who can provide that care, support and love, and human contact that others can’t.”

    The survivor workers, who get paid a small stipend by the government, are eager to give something back, said Yett. “Many have gone through the living depths of god awfulness. So they’re thrilled to be alive and give back to the community.”

    They also serve another purpose, as “a beacon of hope,” said Yett. Many people are afraid to call help lines or tell others they might have the disease because they think it’s a death sentence. “But the message from survivors is if you call the help line early enough and see a doctor, you’re much more likely to survive.”

    The interim care centers are for children who don’t have parents who would otherwise be monitoring their symptoms, he said. Their temperature is taken regularly and if they show signs of the virus, they are taken to Ebola treatment centers.

    The orphans who are cleared of the disease are often placed with extended family members, said Yett. “The good thing about Liberia is there is an extensive system of foster care, and of relatives taking care of other children.”

    When Ebola survivors return to their communities, depending on where they live, they can be stigmatized by others who don’t fully understand that they are no longer contagious, said Yett.

    Even children whose parents have died of Ebola and are sent to live with other relatives suffer the stigma, said Davis.

    “That is why I decided to work with the children at the center — to love the children like my own,” she said. “When they come to the center, we will care for and love them because we know what they are going through.”

    The post With a disease where you can’t touch, Ebola survivors lend a caring hand appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The Morning Line

    Today in the Morning Line:

    • Interest in election may be low from general public, but the power players care and are investing
    • Nearly $4 billion expected to be spent, more than any midterm in history
    • Outside groups also to set record

    Can’t buy me love? Money can be a dense issue in campaigns. Everyone’s always writing how the system is flooded with money, and it’s easy to turn away, dismiss it and make it a reason not to be interested. BUT what’s happening in this campaign shouldn’t be dismissed. Even though the general public is saying their interest in this election is at the lowest in at least a decade, the most powerful are VERY interested and engaged. That’s evidenced by the fact that this midterm is going to be the most expensive in history, a Center for Responsive Politics analysis finds. It projects that with less than two weeks to go until Election Day, $4 billion will have been spent, more on congressional races than ANY election in history, including the 2012 presidential campaign. In 2012, when $6 billion was spent overall, more than $3.6 billion was spent on House and Senate races.

    The outsiders: In this election, candidates and the parties will have spent $2.7 billion, while outside groups will have spent $900 million. That’s a remarkable number considering outside groups in the 2012 presidential campaign — when outside spending peaked after the Citizens United ruling — spent just $400 million more in total, $1.3 billion. Remember the Republican primary and how everyone had a Super PAC? That doesn’t even exist this time and outside spending is almost as much. Conservative groups will outspend liberal ones, CRP projects, $1.92 billion to $1.76 billion. And, by the way, this just includes all the money REPORTED to the Federal Election Commission. “Democrats and liberals will hold a slight lead when it comes to House and Senate party committee spending, and in the amount spent overall by outside groups,” CRP writes. But that “lead in outside group spending … does not include money that groups spent on certain kinds of ads that didn’t have to be reported to the FEC if they were aired more than two months before the election (or 30 days before a primary); conservative groups appear to have dominated in that category.” As the Wall Street Journal points out, “What’s even more startling is that the $4 billion figure — which also includes $315 million spent on operating costs by PACs — doesn’t include the full picture of outside spending in this year’s races.” By the way, Time has a neat interactive showing that the cost of running has risen faster than inflation, health care and even private college tuition.


    • Georgia Democrat Michelle Nunn leads Republican David Perdue 47 to 44 percent in a CNN/ORC poll released Friday. They’re effectively tied, given the survey’s margin of error. The same poll gives State Sen. Jason Carter a 48 to 46 percent lead over Gov. Nathan Deal among likely voters.

    • Michelle Obama called Colorado Sen. Mark Udall a five-generation Coloradan, but he was born in Tucson. Conservatives ran with it to point out that it’s GOP Rep. Cory Gardner who’s the five-generation Coloradan.

    • Gardner leads Udall 46 to 41 percent in a Quinnipiac poll released Friday.

    • Colorado has been a political swing state since it was founded in 1876, and this year’s Senate race is no exception, with both sides spending millions to claim the bellwether win.

    • In Massachusetts’ gubernatorial race, Republican Charlie Baker leads Democrat Martha Coakley 45 to 36 percent in a Boston Globe poll released Friday. Meanwhile, the Independent candidate is getting some help from a Morgan Freeman impersonator.

    • Republican fixer Chris LaCivita’s rescue effort for Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts this fall hasn’t been about making the senator more likeable; it’s all about making Independent Greg Orman equally unlikeable.

    • Sarah Palin endorsed Alaska’s Independent ticket for governor, snubbing GOP Gov. Sean Parnell who served as her lieutenant governor.

    • The conversation in North Carolina’s Senate race has made a late shift from local issues (education is Sen. Kay Hagan’s “secret sauce,” writes National Journal’s Alex Roarty) to national issues, which could give GOP State House Speaker Thom Tillis an opening for a last-minute victory.

    • South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham stumped for Iowa Republican Joni Ernst Thursday, while Ernst has canceled her meeting with The Des Moines Register’s editorial board citing their negative editorials about her.

    • Hillary Clinton will be back in Iowa next week to help Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley.

    • Despite West Virginia’s overwhelming vote for Mitt Romney two years ago, Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall held onto his seat. His toss-up race for a 20th term this year, which has attracted $14 million in spending, will say a lot about Democrats’ viability in Southern border states.

    • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee poured an additional $1.3 million into five races to boost incumbents, including Rahall, Friday.

    • With the election just over a week away, Republicans are sounding a lot more attached to Social Security in their ads.

    • The airwaves are so saturated with ads for Senate races, that gubernatorial races are getting drowned out.

    • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s approval rating has dropped to 41 percent — back where it was after the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.

    • The Florida Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the state’s newly redrawn congressional districts in March.

    • Some members of the Secret Service are doing their jobs, just not the two-legged ones.


    For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

    Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

    Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Rachel Wellford at rwellford-at-newshour-dot-org.

    Follow the politics team on Twitter:

    The post The $4 billion midterm — most expensive ever appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Barbara Smith, RN, Mount Sinai Health Sysytems and Bryan Christiansen MD,(monitor-R) CDC Infection Control Team for the Ebola Response demonstrate the proper technique for donning protective gear during an ebola educational session for healthcare workers at the Jacob Javits Center in New York on October 21, 2014.  AFP PHOTO / Timothy A. Clary Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

    Nurse Barbara Smith Dr. Bryan Christiansen of the CDC Infection Control Team for the Ebola Response demonstrate the proper technique for donning protective gear during an Ebola educational session for healthcare workers in New York on Oct. 21. Craig Spencer, a 33-year-old physician who had treated the disease in Guinea, is the first Ebola patient in New York. Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — The new case of Ebola diagnosed in New York City has raised “even more questions about procedures in treating patients and risks to Americans,” a Republican committee chairman said Friday.

    Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., spoke as he convened a hearing of his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the Ebola problem. It came a day after news broke of the first case in New York, which involves a doctor who returned recently from treating patients in Guinea. It was the fourth case diagnosed in the U.S.

    “I think we all know that the system is not yet refined to where we could say it’s working properly,” Issa said. “It would be a major mistake to underestimate what Ebola could do to populations around the world and any further fumbles, bumbles, missteps … can no longer be tolerated.”

    But the committee’s top Democrat, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said that the swift and comprehensive response to the case in New York shows that the U.S. health community has made strides since the initial misdiagnosis of a patient in Texas, who later died. Two nurses who cared for that patient also got infected, though both now seem to be doing well.

    “It appears that health care authorities have come a long way in preparing for Ebola since Thomas Duncan first walked into a Texas hospital last month,” Cummings said.

    A top Health and Human Services official assured lawmakers that the likelihood of a significant outbreak of Ebola in the U.S. is remote, though she said government agencies are preparing for any contingency.

    “Ebola is a dangerous disease, but there is hardly a reason for panic,” Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant HHS secretary for preparedness and response, said in prepared testimony. “There is an epidemic of fear, but not of Ebola, in the United States.”

    Republicans in particular have questioned the Obama administration’s response to Ebola, and the hearing, taking place less than two weeks before the midterm elections, was likely to feature more criticism.

    Republicans have called for a travel ban and quarantines of travelers arriving here from the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the epidemic that has killed thousands. The Obama administration has resisted such steps even while increasing screening of arriving travelers arriving and ensuring that they are monitored for 21 days, the incubation period for the deadly disease.

    The post Rep. Issa: New case raises questions on Ebola appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Frank Mankiewicz

    Frank Mankiewicz speaks at the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration on Capitol Hill Jan. 20, 2011. Mankiewicz, an aide to Robert Kennedy, died Thursday at the age of 90. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Frank Mankiewicz, the press secretary who went before television cameras to announce the death of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and later served as political director for presidential candidate George McGovern, died Thursday. He was 90.

    Mankiewicz died of a heart attack at George Washington University Hospital, said a family friend, journalist Adam Clymer.

    Mankiewicz was a longtime Democratic political operative as well as a lawyer, journalist and author. McGovern once recalled his former campaign aide as a perceptive, straightforward political adviser.

    “I never got any bad advice from Frank,” said McGovern, a senator from South Dakota who was the Democratic nominee for president in 1972. “I found him just fascinating to travel with during the campaign. I picked up a lot of perspective, a lot of insights and a lot of humor from Frank.”

    The son and nephew of Hollywood filmmakers, Mankiewicz studied journalism and law. He worked for newspapers in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles before assuming the role of President John F. Kennedy’s Peace Corps director in Lima, Peru, in 1962 and later was a regional director in Washington. In 1966, he became press secretary to Sen. Robert Kennedy, D-N.Y., who was assassinated two years later while campaigning for the party’s presidential nomination.

    In June 1968, Kennedy had just won the California primary and finished his victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Mankiewicz left the entourage for a moment to help the candidate’s wife, Ethel, step off a platform.

    “She was at the time three months pregnant, although I don’t think anybody knew it, except the inside group,” Mankiewicz recalled on the 30th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination. “We helped her down. And then she said, ‘Go on,’ and we started to move off quickly to catch up. And that’s when we heard the shots.”

    Kennedy was gunned down in a kitchen pantry by Sirhan Sirhan, a young Palestinian later convicted of his murder. Mankiewicz issued medical bulletins throughout the day as Kennedy lingered near death at The Good Samaritan Hospital. Some 26 hours later, Mankiewicz emerged, pale and haggard but poised, to deliver tragic news.

    “I have a short announcement to read which I will read at this time. Sen. Robert Francis Kennedy died at 1:44 a.m. today, June 6, 1968. … He was 42 years old,” Mankiewicz said.

    He would later recall: “That, in many ways, was the shaping influence in my adult life.”

    Mankiewicz went to work for McGovern in 1971, reflecting some time afterward that he “thought McGovern had the right issues, and history has tended to bear him out.”

    An outspoken critic of Richard Nixon, Mankiewicz wrote two books about the disgraced president: “Perfectly Clear: Nixon From Whittier to Watergate” and “U.S. v. Richard M. Nixon: The Final Crisis.” He was delighted when Nixon resigned.

    “I think we should celebrate Aug. 9 as a day of national liberation every year,” he told the Philadelphia Bulletin. “Every country celebrates the day the government got rid of its tyrants. We should too.”

    After McGovern’s decisive defeat, Mankiewicz wrote a column for The Washington Post and in 1976 made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for a House seat from Maryland. He was named president of National Public Radio in 1977 and was credited with strengthening its news operation and doubling its audience. He resigned in 1983 as NPR faced a multimillion-dollar budget deficit and then joined the public relations firm of Gray & Co., which eventually became Hill & Knowlton.

    Born on May 16, 1924, Mankiewicz grew up in Beverly Hills, California, among a family of notables. His father, Herman J. Mankiewicz, was a screenwriter who won an Oscar for co-writing the landmark film “Citizen Kane.” His uncle, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, won four Oscars for writing and directing “A Letter to Three Wives” and “All About Eve.”

    Frank Mankiewicz served in the Army during the latter part of World War II. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1947, followed by a master’s in journalism from Columbia University and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

    Survivors include his wife, author Patricia O’Brien, and two sons from an earlier marriage, NBC News correspondent Josh Mankiewicz and Turner Classic Movies cable channel host Ben Mankiewicz.

    The post Frank Mankiewicz, aide to Robert Kennedy, dies at 90 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Nina Pham

    Nina Pham, a 26-year-old Dallas nurse, contracted Ebola while caring for patient Eric Thomas Duncan. Video still by PBS NewsHour

    The first nurse in the U.S. diagnosed with Ebola, Nina Pham, is now free of the virus and was released from the hospital earlier today.

    Pham is one of two nurses to contract Ebola in Dallas while caring for infected patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who succumbed to the virus earlier this month. She was transferred to Bethesda, Md., where she was treated at the National Institutes of Health hospital.

    “I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today,” said Pham, addressing reporters outside the hospital, before adding that “it may be a while before I have my strength back.”

    Still, Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the NIH, that Pham represents no threat to the public. “She is cured of Ebola, let’s get that clear,” Fauci said, explaining that Pham had passed five consecutive tests that showed there was no virus left in her blood.

    The news of Pham’s release comes amid mixed news on the broader fight against Ebola. Yesterday, the second nurse afflicted by Ebola in Texas – Amber Vinson – was declared free of the life threatening virus. But, today, officials in New York confirmed the city’s first case of Ebola.

    Craig Spencer, a Doctors Without Borders physician who returned from treating patients in Africa last week, began showing symptoms (fever, nausea, pain and fatigue) Thursday morning and was promptly admitted to the Bellevue Hospital Center.

    Spencer is currently being held in isolation but investigators who reconstructed his movements since arriving back in the US say that he did ride the subway, go for a jog and visit a bowling alley. His fiancé, along with his two friends, are under quarantine and the bowling alley has been temporarily closed.

    Like in previous cases, officials in New York have been working to stem public panic. “”There is no cause for alarm,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “New Yorkers who have not been exposed to an infected person’s bodily fluids are simply not at risk.”

    Elsewhere, Ebola has spread to yet another West African country, Mali. It was carried by a two-year old girl who crossed the border from neighboring Guinea.

    A press briefing on Pham’s discharge is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. EDT. Watch the live NIH stream here.

    The post Dallas Nurse declared Ebola free, set to be released from hospital appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The economy is still feeling the longer term consequences of the financial collapse. Photo by Flickr user Kevin Harber.

    The economy is still feeling the longer-term consequences of the financial crisis. Photo by Flickr user Kevin Harber.

    For 29 years now, Paul Solman’s reports on the NewsHour have been trying to make sense of economic news and research for a general audience. Since 2007, our Making Sen$e page has striven to do the same, turning to leading academics and thinkers in the fields of business and economics to help explain what’s interesting and relevant about their work. That includes reports and interviews with economists affiliated with the esteemed National Bureau of Economic Research.

    Making Sense/NBER logo

    Founded in 1920, NBER is a private nonprofit research organization devoted to objective study of the American economy in all its dazzling diversity, combining data with rigorous analysis to describe and explain the material world in which we live long before data analytics became fashionable. “Why Some Women Try to Have It All: New Research on Like Mother Like Daughter” and “Why Does the First Child Get the Gold? An Economics Answer” have been among our most popular posts on Making Sen$e, both of them largely based on NBER research. We thought our readership might benefit from a closer relationship.

    Each month, the NBER Digest summarizes several recent NBER working papers. These papers have not been peer-reviewed, but are circulated by their authors for comment and discussion. With the NBER’s blessing, Making Sen$e is pleased to begin featuring these summaries regularly on our page.

    Read more from NBER’s October Digest: “After medical legalization, what are the costs of getting high?” and “Earning more? Thank immigrant STEM workers.” Find all NBER posts on Making Sen$e here.

    – Simone Pathe, Making Sen$e Editor

    The financial crisis that began in 2008, and the ensuing Great Recession, cost the U.S. a substantial amount of output.

    In 2013, output was 13 percent below its trend path from 1990 through 2007. In “Quantifying the Lasting Harm to the U.S. Economy from the Financial Crisis” (NBER Working Paper No. 20183), Stanford economics professor Robert E. Hall starts from the widely accepted proposition that the financial crisis was the cause of the collapse in product and labor demand.

    He offers a complementary analysis of other aspects of the post-crisis economy, focusing on the durable effects of the crisis that a boost in product demand would not correct quickly. These effects are lost total factor productivity, lost investment resulting in a lower capital stock, and low labor force participation lingering after job-creation incentives have returned to normal.

    Graph courtesy of NBER. Click on the image to go to full digest.

    Graph courtesy of NBER. Click on the image to go to full digest.

    The analysis suggests that out of the 13 point output shortfall, the largest contributor was the depletion of the stock of plant and equipment, which accounted for 3.9 percentage points. The second largest was a shortfall of 3.5 percentage points in total factor productivity. The third was a shortfall of 2.4 percentage points in labor force participation. Just 2.2 percentage points was the result of lingering slackness in the labor market in the form of abnormal unemployment and substandard weekly hours of work.

    Hall observes that while the capital stock is responsible for the largest part of the output shortfall, it cannot respond immediately to a boost to product demand. He suggests that a boost in demand would probably trigger an accelerator response that would close some part of the shortfall in capital. In the longer run, the strong mean reversion in the historical capital/output ratio should work to close the entire gap.

    Unemployment has fallen slowly during the recovery, reaching 1.3 percentage points above normal in 2013, and contributing 0.9 percentage points to the shortfall in output in that year. The return to normal has been slower than in previous post-recession episodes because the crisis shifted the composition of job-seekers toward those with low job-finding rates. People who lost jobs without hope of returning to the lost job are the most important group with long spells of unemployment. Mean reversion of unemployment is a well-established feature of the U.S. economy and there seems little reason to think that the crisis would affect the unemployment rate in any highly persistent way.

    Labor force participation fell substantially after the crisis, contributing 2.5 percentage points to the shortfall in output. The decline showed no sign of reverting as of 2013. The author believes that part of the participation decline is demographic and part reflects low job-finding rates, which had returned to close to normal in 2013. But an important part may be related to the large growth in beneficiaries of disability and food-stamp programs. Bulges in their enrollments appear to be persistent. Both programs place high taxes on earnings and so discourage labor force participation among beneficiaries.

    Les Picker, National Bureau of Economic Research

    The post This is why the recession still hurts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The Wshington Post's Ben Bradlee in the composing room looking at A1 of the first edition, headlined "Nixon Resigns." Bradlee died Tuesday at the age of 93. Photo by David R. Legge/The Washington Post via Getty Images

    The Wshington Post’s Ben Bradlee in the composing room looking at A1 of the first edition, headlined “Nixon Resigns.” Bradlee died Tuesday at the age of 93. Photo by David R. Legge/The Washington Post via Getty Images

    I am one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of journalists able to say with satisfaction and no small amount of pride: “I worked for Ben Bradlee.”

    Like the vast majority of us alums, I was not one of Ben’s stars. I spent my seven years at the Washington Post basking in the journalistic stardom all around me, learning the value of nuts and bolts journalism from reporters like Ann Devroy, Dan Balz and George Lardner.

    Farther up the ladder in the firmament were the truly famous — people like Bob Woodward, who treated the weekend staff to ice cream sundaes whenever he was in charge; or Dave Broder, who never hesitated to share intelligence and inquire after you.

    At the top of the pile in those days (I left the Post in 1991) were the yin and yang of American journalism — modest, sweater-wearing Don Graham, who succeeded his mother as publisher and famously knew the name of every single employee in the 15th Street building; and Ben Bradlee, whose barrel-chested bravado preceded him into every room.

    Ben Bradlee and Publisher Katharine Graham in 1971 after winning a Supreme Court ruling allowing continued publication of the Pentagon Papers. Photo courtesy of The Washington Post

    Ben Bradlee and Publisher Katharine Graham in 1971 after winning a Supreme Court ruling allowing continued publication of the Pentagon Papers. Photo courtesy of The Washington Post

    I was intimidated by Ben, and mostly kept my head down when he periodically breezed through the newsroom. He was more of a guy’s guy. Plus, I also spent most of my Post career on the metro staff, covering county councils and local elections — stuff Ben really didn’t care about.

    To get a job at the Post — which when I arrived was still basking in the afterglow of Watergate as well as recovering from the shame of the Janet Cooke debacle — prospects met with a gauntlet of editors who ran you through the traps before you ever got to the big glass office where Bradlee sat. I called it the “eat with your feet” interview, because by the time you met with him, you’d have to commit some really gauche faux pas not to get hired.

    He met me, asked me questions I no longer remembered, and then strode into the newsroom to ask Michel Martin, now of NPR, whether I was as good as she was.

    Michel was a good friend, and answered, promptly and with good humor, “Better!”

    It occurred to us both that he probably never asked that question about a white male applicant to a white male staffer. But that was part of the deal working in a newsroom where black journalists were, at best, in short supply. We knew we could excel, but first we had to get in the door.

    I came to adore Ben Bradlee. He was funny, ribald and affectionate, once he knew you. He protected his troops fiercely. Once, when I was roughed up by a Secret Service agent at a national political convention, he didn’t just call the head of the Secret Service to complain. He called the Treasury Secretary, who at the time was in charge of the Secret Service.

    In more recent years, Ben was an unflagging supporter of my television career, greeting me with compliments and bear hugs whenever I saw him. I was honored a few years ago to be asked to deliver the Bradlee lecture at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where I got the chance to talk about the kind of journalism Ben stood for, as he sat in the front row.

    He was tough and fair and irreverent about the things that didn’t matter, while remaining reverent about the things that did. In his case, the things that did matter were truth, justice and the American way.

    And if you think that made Ben Bradlee Superman … well, for those of us who were fortunate enough to work under his cape … he kind of was.

    Rest in peace, Ben.

    The post Gwen’s Take: Remembering Ben Bradlee appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Majority control of the U.S. Senate hangs in the balance this November and, as voters head to the polls on Election Day, viewers can count on PBS NewsHour for results, context and analysis. Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will co-anchor the NewsHour’s online and on-air coverage, reporting on the latest updates as polls close across the country.  Throughout the evening, the PBS NewsHour politics team and an array of special guests will provide in-depth reports, extensive analysis and live results.


    6pm ET/ 7pm ET/ 9pm ET (Check local listings) – PBS NewsHour, hosted by Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff, providing live coverage of the midterm elections. The broadcast will air at 6pm ET, with updated, live programs again at 7pm ET and 9pm ET (on-air where made available by PBS member stations or live-streamed online at www.pbs.org/newshour).   The programming will include the live, updated results from Senate, House and gubernatorial races as well as updates on voter turnout and ballot initiatives.

    11pm ET – A special, 30-minute election night broadcast produced by the PBS NewsHour and hosted by Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff airing across PBS. The special report will feature the latest news from races around the country, contributions from reporters in several PBS stations and a team of the best political analysts on television.  Contributors will include PBS NewsHour senior correspondent and weekend anchor Hari Sreenivasan, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, columnist and former presidential speechwriter Michael Gerson, political analysts Amy Walter and Stu Rothenberg, the NewsHour’s own Domenico Montanaro and Lisa Desjardins, and more.


    6pm ET – 11:30pm ET –Continuous, live-streaming coverage with the latest results and analysis from PBS NewsHour and a wealth of additional election-related content. Available at www.pbs.org/newshour and www.ustream.tv/pbsnewshour.

    The NewsHour’s website will also feature:

    • Election Live Blog- A dynamic live blog pulling in reports and updates from all over the U.S.  Updates will also be published to the NewsHour’s many social media streams (including http://www.facebook.com/newshour and www.twitter.com/newshour). Follow along at #PBSelections.
    • Live Election Results: Senate, House and gubernatorial race results will be updated in real-time in our interactive election center. You will also be able to browse maps, real-time balance of power graphics and state-by-state returns.

    PBS NewsHour is seen by over four million weekly viewers and is also available online, via public radio in select markets, and via podcast. PBS NewsHour is a production of NewsHour Productions LLC, a wholly-owned non-profit subsidiary of WETA Washington, D.C., in association with WNET in New York. Major funding for PBS NewsHour is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and public television viewers. Major corporate funding is provided by BAE Systems and BNSF with additional support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Lemelson Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Friends of the NewsHour and others. More information on PBS NewsHour is available at www.pbs.org/newshour. On social media, visit www.facebook.com/newshour on Facebook or follow @NewsHour on Twitter.

    The post PBS NewsHour Plans Special Broadcast and Multi-platform Midterm Election Coverage on November 4th, 2014 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, a musical collaboration with a most unlikely duo, one a living legend known for his voice and smooth style, the other one of the biggest pop stars on the planet.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.


    JEFFREY BROWN: A classic from the 1930s, popularized by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the kind of song you might still expect from one of the greatest ever crooners of American standards, Tony Bennett,


    JEFFREY BROWN: But not so much from his duet partner, Lady Gaga, one of today’s mega pop stars. She is known for her shape-shifting persona and over-the-top performances. Her millions of devout followers call themselves Little Monsters, and for hits like “Bad Romance.”


    JEFFREY BROWN: But there they are together, dancing cheek to cheek on a new album that hit number one on the charts, as well as a PBS “Great Performances” special debuting tonight.

    The 88-year-old Bennett is one of the last of a bygone era that included Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin. Later in life, he’s been reaching out to collaborate with artists often well outside his generation or genre, or both.

    In 2011, for example, he celebrated his 85th birthday by recording with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, the late Amy Winehouse, and other stars, including Lady Gaga.

    That experience, he told me yesterday in New York, made him want to work with Lady Gaga again.

    TONY BENNETT, Singer: I love performing with her and she loves performing with me. And she happens to be a wonderful jazz singer. She improvises beautifully. Funny enough, she started out as a jazz singer, and was kind of turned down. The promoters said, you know, do something more contemporary that the young people like and all that.

    And she regretted it. When I listened to her, I said, by the way, you sing so spontaneously and beautiful. Let’s do a jazz album together. And she said, I would love it. And so I put together a tremendous swing, big band, the best jazz artists around.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You, 88.

    TONY BENNETT: Eighty-eight, right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Why are you still doing this?

    TONY BENNETT: I love it.

    I had a — I was blessed with a wonderful Italian-American family. My father died when I was 10 years old. And all my relatives, aunt, uncles, nieces, nephews, they would come over every Sunday. And my brother, my sister and myself would entertain them. They would make a circle around us.

    And it was just at the time, being 10 years old, I was saying, what am I going to do in life? Who is — is anybody ever going to know me or anything like that? And my family would say, we like the way you sing and we like the way you paint those flowers. So they created a passion in me of always trying to improve.

    And here I am, 88, and I’m still working and trying to get better and better at what I’m doing.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You still feel that, right?

    TONY BENNETT: Oh, absolutely.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I mean, you remember that young guy first starting to sing, and then here you are, still singing.

    TONY BENNETT: Well, I was blessed under the G.I. Bill of Rights when I came out of the service and the war.

    I joined the American Theatre Wing. And it was a great source, that they allowed us to continue school that we missed during the war. The main thing I that learned from them was to always stay with quality, never compromise. You know, don’t just try and get a hit record. Do something’s that is going to last and that’s intelligent. So, I treat the audience that way.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What about treating yourself and you’re — taking care of yourself, taking care of your voice to keep going?

    TONY BENNETT: Right.

    I had good training with good teachers that taught me how to sing properly. And three times a week, I exercise and I stay in shape, and have a wonderful wife that treats me wonderful. And so I’m feeling very good about life. And I’m — I will never retire. I will actually just…

    JEFFREY BROWN: You will never retire?


    JEFFREY BROWN: Why — you say that, you’re clear about that?

    TONY BENNETT: I’m just starting to learn now.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Bennett also still works hard to make sure that young people learn about the arts. The foundation that he and his wife set up, Exploring the Arts, works in public schools in lower-income areas of New York, including in neighborhoods where he himself grew up that otherwise have little access to the arts.

    He told me he’s especially eager to help keep the jazz music he loves alive. And that, too, ties into the new work with Lady Gaga.

    TONY BENNETT: Unfortunately, the record companies think in a contemporary way, and they don’t realize how powerful jazz is.

    It’s the only great art form that’s ever been created in the United States, by African-Americans in New Orleans. They invented it to improvise, elongated improvisation. And it’s a wonderful art. And for whatever reason, they don’t promote it enough.

    So, that’s the reason I did the album with Lady Gaga, to reach that young audience that she has. And for the first time in their life, they hear wonderful songs that swing and last forever. They’re great American songs that were done in the ’20s and ’30s.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And you’re hoping, once young people hear these songs, they will want to hear more?

    TONY BENNETT: It’s the first time they have ever heard it.


    JEFFREY BROWN: Through you and Lady Gaga, huh?

    TONY BENNETT: Right. Exactly.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Tony Bennett, thanks so much for talking to us.

    TONY BENNETT: Well, thank you very much. Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Wow, is he impressive.

    You can watch “Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek LIVE!” tonight on most PBS stations.


    The post Tony Bennett goes Gaga on ‘Cheek to Cheek’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: As we reported earlier, the doctor in New York City with Ebola, Craig Spencer, contracted the virus while on a mission for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea.

    Tonight, special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro brings us a closer look at that organization and its oftentimes life-risking and lifesaving work.

    A version of the story aired on the PBS program “Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.”

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: They have been front and center, not just in the fight against Ebola, but in every humanitarian crisis in recent memory.

    Widely known by its French acronym, MSF, Doctors Without Borders is in hot spots of disease, natural disaster and war around the world, and on the front lines to get the international community to wake up to some of the world’s crises.

    DR. JOANNE LIU, Medicins Sans Frontiers: Medicins Sans Frontiers has been ringing alarm bells for months, but the response has been too late, too little.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: That’s MSF president Joanne Liu, who has been expressing growing frustration on Ebola to world leaders.

    DR. JOANNE LIU: Today, Ebola is winning. The isolation center you have promised must be established now. There is today a political momentum the world has rarely, if ever, seen. As world leaders, you will be judged — you will be judged by how you use it.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Beyond medicine, MSF’s mission is to bear witness, to speak out. It goes back to its founding in 1971 by a group of French Red Cross volunteers working amid grave violence in Nigeria’s civil war.

    Sociologist Renee Fox wrote of their frustration in a book about the group.

    RENEE FOX, University of Pennsylvania: They pledged their commitment to not speak of what they saw in the field, very much in keeping with the professional confidentiality that physicians keep vis-a-vis their individual patients, and when they saw these abuses taking place came together with the conviction that there was something wrong with not speaking out.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Four decades later, MSF calls itself a movement. It has chapters in 24 mostly wealthy countries, and 25,000 people deployed around the world.

    Ninety percent are hired locally. Most are not doctors and nurses. They are construction, experts in logistics, in water, in sanitation. The teams move swiftly, as we saw in this 2008 report from a hurricane-ravaged Haiti.

    The construction workers aren’t finished yet, but the hospital work is already in full swing since it’s the only hospital now in Gonaives, a city of more than 200,000 people.

    One reason it can move quickly is MSF raises over a billion dollars a year, critically, with few strings attached.

    RENEE FOX: Ninety percent of their finances come from people like you and me who make modest contributions or more than modest contributions to MSF.

    SOPHIE DELAUNAY, MSF USA: We don’t need to wait for funding from a government to be able to react to a crisis.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And MSF USA’s Sophie Delaunay adds they don’t accept money from governments heavily involved in events, no U.S. funds work in Afghanistan, for example.

    But she admits the thinking has shifted in the Ebola epidemic, where MSF supports the U.S. military’s aid.

    SOPHIE DELAUNAY: In principle, we really try to take as much distance as possible from military, but in these particular circumstances, we don’t want to be dogmatic. And we feel there is a value in taking a different position.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: MSF’s reputation Drew Dr. Benjamin Levy to sign on for a six-month stint in 2011 in a field hospital in Ethiopia. Thousands of refugees were fleeing famine and civil war from neighboring Somalia.

    DR. BENJAMIN LEVY, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: It was a place where sort of the idealism of medicine came to practice.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Levy, who now works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, remembers a culture of debate.

    DR. BENJAMIN LEVY: There was healthy debate as to what diseases we could treat, what diseases we didn’t have the capacity to treat, and where to take the programs that we were running as the emergency ended.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And before it begins working an emergency, particularly in war zones, MSF works to gain safety assurances from all factions.

    SOPHIE DELAUNAY: You’re going to treat their brothers, their cousins, their family, et cetera. It’s a very good protection, actually. The second criteria that we use is, we want to be able to have an evacuation route.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: MSF has evacuated from Afghanistan in 2004 for five years after two workers were killed, and from Somalia after two were kidnapped.

    It pulled foreign staff and closed a hospital in Syria after five workers were kidnapped. However, in recent conflicts like Burma, Sri Lanka and Yemen, MSF stayed on, agreeing not to criticize government policies it acknowledged were repressive.

    Bearing witness is complicated by the reality on the ground, says author Fox.

    RENEE FOX: When they were young, they thought witnessing was an unmitigated virtue. As they matured, they came to see how complex the ramifications of witnessing might be.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: They have learned to be politically pragmatic, she says, without being political.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Fred’s reporting is a partnership with the Under-Told Stories Project at Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota.

    The post Saving lives and bearing witness in hot spots around the world appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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