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

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    Watch the final debate in Colorado’s governor’s race at 8 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. MT) tonight, featuring John Hickenlooper (D) and Bob Beauprez (R). Live stream courtesy Colorado Public Television.

    The two candidates for Colorado governor will face off for the final time this election cycle at a Denver debate at 8 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. MDT) tonight.

    This will be the eighth debate in the race between Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican challenger Bob Beauprez.

    Colorado Public Television presents the hour-long event in partnership with CBS4. Shaun Boyd, a political specialist with CBS4, Alan Gionet, a CBS4 anchor, and Eric Sondermann, an analyst with CPT, moderate.

    When PBS NewsHour carried an earlier debate between the two candidates earlier this month, Beauprez had been consistently ahead of Hickenlooper in the polls, though the Democratic incumbent was steadily narrowing that gap.

    Now, with a week and a half left before Election Day, the latest poll puts the sitting Governor ahead by a nose.

    Bob Beauprez (R) and Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) are in a heated battle for the Colorado governor’s mansion. Images courtesy Wikimedia.

    Bob Beauprez (R) and Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) are in a heated battle for the Colorado governor’s mansion. Images courtesy Wikimedia.

    As the numbers have gotten closer, the debates have become increasingly heated. At an event hosted by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry Thursday, Beauprez consistently referred to his opponent as “Obamalooper,” in an attempt to link the Governor to an unpopular president. Hickenlooper likened the moniker to a schoolyard bully’s taunts.

    Energy, specifically the state’s oil and gas reserves, were the central focus of Thursday’s events, but the two candidates have sparred over taxes and jobs, school funding, gun laws and public safety, and abortion.

    The post WATCH LIVE: Colorado’s final Gubernatorial debate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, a record amount of money has already been spent in this midterm election, some $4 billion.

    Today, in a rare message on its Web site, the Federal Election Commission acknowledged being overwhelmed by the unusually large amount of paperwork coming in from campaigns.

    It’s all part of the race to the finish of this election.

    And here analyze it all, Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks, who is New Orleans tonight.

    So, gentlemen, it is the most expensive campaign ever in this country, and it is coming right down to the wire.

    But, David, what we’re hearing more and more about is Ebola. We’re hearing a number of Republican candidates use this, blame the Democrats, blame the president. Is this helping Republicans?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, it feeds into the mood. This is sort of a mood election more than an issue election.

    I guess Barack Obama is on the ballot. Obviously, opposition to Obama is strong in all of these red states. But, mostly, it’s a mood. It’s a mood of anxiety. It’s a mood of fear. It’s a mood of suspicion of elites. It’s a mood of a suspicion of the ruling establishment, the expert class.

    And so Ebola plays into all of that. I’m not sure it’s really a major voting issue, but it plays into all of that. There are a lot of people who are really disenfranchised from the establishment and they don’t really trust a lot of what the experts are telling them. There are a lot of people who are a little suspicious of globalization.

    And here comes a disease that comes from a mysterious, faraway place and seems to insidiously insert itself into our lives. And so there’s just a feeling of sourness and a feeling that the country is being mismanaged. I guess it underlines the mood. I’m not sure Ebola itself is the issue, but the mood is strong and I think that’s more or less driving this election.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You see that as what’s going on?

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I do. I think David makes a very good point, Judy.

    But, as I listen to this and hear charges that, for example, from Republicans, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, about a cartel of Mexican drug lords and terrorists combining and somehow bringing Ebola into the country that way, I’m just reminded of the words of a great senator, Ed Muskie, whose centennial we observed this year, of Maine, who said, in the final analysis, there’s only two kinds of politics.

    It’s not radical/reactionary. It’s conservative/liberal. It’s not Democrat/Republican. It’s the politics of fear and the politics of trust. And this is very much the politics of fear. And David makes a good point. It contributes to the sense of anxiety, that events are in the saddle, and I think that does hurt the party in power.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Below the belt, David, then, is that what it amounts to?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, some of the charges are below the belt, the idea of the drug cartel, some of — there have been some below-the-belt charges. Some, I just disagree with.

    I think it’s a respectable position to say we should not allow flights from West Africa. I don’t think it’s probably very effective, because don’t just fly here from direct to Africa. They fly around the world and then come here. So, I just don’t think it’s effective, but it’s a respectable position.

    But I don’t think it’s below the belt to have a feeling that the establishment or the ruling class in this country is not particularly competent. And you wouldn’t look at the way Ebola has been handled, at least so far, and say it’s been a testimony to the competence of the establishment.

    And there are a lot of people who are just — we have a great social segmentation going on. And so there are a lot of people just with no contact with the people like us they see on TV giving them expert opinion about Ebola or anything else, and they just want to wave it away and they just want to pull in and trust the people they trust and that’s local.

    And when the national borders seem porous and uncontrolled, they are going to react. And I think that’s a completely legitimate reaction.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is there a legitimate strain here, then?

    MARK SHIELDS: There’s a — Ebola is a continental tragedy for Africa. It is not an imminent epidemic in this country.

    Susan Page, our good friend at USA Today, made, I thought, a telling point. She said the Washington Redskins professional football team has used more quarterbacks this year, three, than have cases developed in the continental United States, the two nurses, who have not traveled from West Africa.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now the man…

    MARK SHIELDS: And now the — and Nina Pham, who is at — Texas Christian University ought to be very proud and the nursing profession should be and her family — is, thank goodness, apparently free of the virus.

    So, is there concern? Absolutely. And is there a sense that things aren’t going well, that it isn’t in control? Yes, that’s very much a part of the context and the Zeitgeist of this campaign.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk about what everybody’s watching. Of course, we’re watching everything.

    But, David, the big story of course is the Senate, whether it’s going from Democrat to Republican control. It looks like both parties have headaches here at the end, though, that, for Democrats, Colorado and New Hampshire, supposed to be states that — blue states they thought they were going to be comfortable in. What about those states and what about other states you’re looking at where Democrats have a worry?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think there’s not a tsunami in favor of the Republicans, but a bit of a tide, a small tide in favor of the Republicans.

    I think if you looked at the last few weeks, in most of the pollings — there are exceptions like Georgia and some other places, but most of the polling shows a bit of shift toward the Republicans, mostly because people are upset with President Obama, they are upset with the shape of the economy, they are upset with the shape of the country.

    And so you are beginning to see, I think, late swingers going a bit toward the Republicans more or less unhappily. And so where I am right now, in Louisiana, Mary Landrieu has run a pretty good campaign, but it’s a state where Obama is not popular. And it’s just harder and harder for Democrats to win in red states these days.

    And so I think a lot of Democrats are facing an uphill tide. The second thing I also noticed just in this general election campaign, unlike two years ago, the Republican brand has improved. The candidates are much better. There are no nut jobs running around so far. And so, they have got a — they have reestablished themselves as sort of the business management party.

    And in an economy that’s stagnant, they have got a little more credibility than they did two years ago.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What does the landscape look like?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, for one thing, the great advantage, the gender advantage that Democrats have with women voters seems to be not as pronounced and not as dependable for Democrats this time, especially in Colorado, where the last poll showed Cory Gardner, the Republican, having an edge among women.

    And it struck me, Judy. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader and several others, sent the results of a Gallup poll which asked the concerns of women in the country. And you go through their concerns, and they’re pay equality, they’re discrimination in the workplace, child care, and so forth. At 2 percent is abortion rights and contraception.

    And I don’t know if there’s not the concern that there was in the past about Roe v. Wade being repealed or whatever, but it doesn’t have the same resonance that it did have, even though the women’s advantage still is sustaining two Democrats who are in tough races. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire has a double-digit lead among women. And so does Kay Hagan in North Carolina, an embattled red state.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, is part of this, David, the Democrats are stressing the wrong issues?

    DAVID BROOKS: I sort of think so.

    The Republicans, it’s not exactly Plato’s Symposium over there. But they are hitting the core issue, which is President Obama. But the Democrats have had a bizarre selection of issues, it seems to me, through the last six months. Remember, for a couple of months, they were talking about the Koch brothers over and over again. The Koch brothers are going do this. The Koch brothers are going do that.

    And maybe that was to gin up their donor base. But, as an issue, the Koch brothers are not an issue. Most people don’t know who the Koch brothers are. And then I think with the war on women rhetoric, I think they have just gone to the well too many times with that. And it was an effective issue in elections past.

    But, as Mark said, in a lot of places, it’s just not effective anymore. And I think people — either it’s not germane, it’s not salient to people, or they have just heard it too many times and the issues get stale. And so I think, in election after election, with the exceptions that Mark mentioned, you do not see the gender gaps that the Democrats would need to pull out wins here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just quickly, Mark, do you see anything Republicans need to be particularly worried about? We have talked about Georgia.

    MARK SHIELDS: I think Republicans have to be worried about Georgia.

    And Dante Chinni, who has been our demographer on our show, at American University, had a very, very salient point. Georgia has the highest unemployment rate in the country, Judy. And what makes this interesting is that David Perdue, a CEO who offers himself as the only fortune 500 CEO the Senate would have if he’s elected, hardly something that voters are really going to stream to the polls on.

    But he, in a deposition, under oath, said — asked about outsourcing, said, yes, I have spent my entire life doing that. Well, Georgia’s lost 20 percent of its manufacturing jobs in the last 10 years. And among working-class Georgians, I think there is a resonance there. And I think that could be an issue.

    And I think you have to say that Michelle Nunn has run a very aggressive campaign. As your own piece, she’s campaigning very strongly among African-Americans.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, we have reported…

    MARK SHIELDS: And the question is, can she get above 30 percent of the white vote?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s right, to get there. And then we will see about a runoff.

    Just very, very quickly to both of you at the end here, if the Senate goes Republican, David, what difference does it make? What happens or what doesn’t happen because you have a different majority in the Senate?

    DAVID BROOKS: There will be more judicial fights. There will be more budget fights. Mitch McConnell said they’re going to pick some budget fights, to not fund some things President Obama wants.

    But I don’t see big changes. Remember, as this landscape this year favors Republicans, because so many red state Democrats are up, in two years, there are a ton of blue-state Republicans up. Those people are not going to want to go out on a conservative limb. So it’s going to be a lot harder for Mitch McConnell to govern as a majority leader, if he is one.

    MARK SHIELDS: I think what you will see, in addition to that, is you will see a lot of hearings, that there will be a lot of senators….

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Senate hearings.

    MARK SHIELDS: … vowing to be the Darrell Issa of the Senate. The busiest person in Washington will be the White House counsel answering subpoenas.

    I think there will be a lot of that. Finally, I think we will see — I expect some sort of a Republican health plan. It’s been promised now since Hector was a pup.


    MARK SHIELDS: Some time after the cooling of the Earth, they are going to have a health plan.

    And now, if they do have control of both the House and the Senate, they have to come up with something, because they want all the goodies and all the positives of Obamacare, but none of the responsibilities and the drawbacks. So, I will be fascinated to see that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Are we going to see that, David?

    DAVID BROOKS: Maybe. I wouldn’t — I would look for a tax reform before a health care plan.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right.

    David Brooks, Mark Shields, we will see you here next Friday. Thank you.

    The post Shields and Brooks on changes if the GOP takes the Senate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    File photo of Astrologer Joan Quigley.

    File photo of Astrologer Joan Quigley.

    SAN FRANCISCO — Joan Quigley, the astrologer who helped determine President Ronald Reagan’s schedule and claimed to have convinced him to soften his stance toward the Soviet Union, has died at the age of 87.

    Quigley died Oct. 21 at her San Francisco home after an unspecified illness, the San Francisco Chronicle, quoting Quigley’s sister, Ruth, said Friday.

    Nancy Reagan began consulting Quigley after the 1981 assassination attempt on her husband. She wanted to keep him from getting shot again, Nancy Reagan wrote in her 1989 memoir, “My Turn.”

    Entertainer Merv Griffin had told her that Quigley had predicted that the day the president was shot was going to be a dangerous one for him.

    Quigley would go on to advise Nancy Reagan on dates for presidential trips and news conferences.

    The president became aware of the consultations and warned his wife to be careful because it might look odd if it came out, Nancy Reagan wrote in her book.

    Nancy Reagan began consulting Quigley after the 1981 assassination attempt on her husband. She wanted to keep him from getting shot again, Nancy Reagan wrote in her 1989 memoir, “My Turn.” “If it makes you feel better, go ahead and do it,” she quoted the president as saying.

    The consultations were revealed to great embarrassment for the White House in a 1988 book by former White House chief of staff Donald Regan, who blamed the first lady for his ouster a year earlier. Regan said almost every major move and decision the Reagans made during his time as chief of staff was cleared in advance with a woman in San Francisco who drew up horoscopes. He did not know her identity.

    The woman was in fact Joan Quigley, an heiress and Republican political activist. Quigley told The Associated Press in 1988 after her identity was revealed that she was a “serious, scientific astrologer.”

    “I am really not one of these clowns, and I really don’t like this circus atmosphere,” she said.

    A call Friday to Joanne Drake, a representative of The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, for comment on Quigley’s death was not immediately returned. The foundation was created by President Reagan and manages his library and museum in Simi Valley, California.

    Both the president and Nancy Reagan denied that any policies or decisions were based on astrology.

    But Quigley told a different story in her 1990 memoir, “What Does Joan Say?”

    Before Reagan’s 1985 summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva, Quigley said she advised Nancy Reagan that “Ronnie’s ‘evil empire’ attitude has to go.”

    “Gorbachev’s Aquarian planet is in such harmony with Ronnie’s, you’ll see … They’ll share a vision,” she recalled telling the first lady.

    The post Astrologer who helped guide President Reagan’s schedule dies at 87 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We now turn to campaign 2014 and an issue that has entered almost every Senate race in the nation: the new health care law.

    As part of our joint elections project with public broadcasters across the country, Renee Shaw of Kentucky Educational Television reports.

    VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: The yeas are 60. The nays are 39.

    RENEE SHAW, Kentucky Educational Television: The 2009 Senate vote to pass the health care law, the vote that now five years later has launched 1,000 ads.

    NARRATOR: Obamacare meant threatened insurance plans, higher premiums and broken promises.

    ACTRESS: Obamacare doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work.

    RENEE SHAW: This summer, the ads just didn’t stop. Republicans attacked. Democrats responded, some defending.

    MAN: That’s why I helped pass a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if you get sick.

    RENEE SHAW: Others pledging reforms.

    WOMAN: I’m fixing it. And that’s what my bill does.

    WOMAN: They trust Mark Begich. He’s trying to fix the health care law.

    RENEE SHAW: It’s certainly unpopular. A Kaiser Health poll in August and September showed some 47 percent view the Affordable Care Act unfavorably, just 35 percent favorably. It’s less clear how much the law will matter on Election Day.

    In a unique position is Kentucky, a state where both the economy and health care poll as high issues and where the state’s exchange under the health care law, called Kynect has a very different reputation than the law does when it’s called Obamacare.

    JOE GERTH, The Courier-Journal: When people are polled about Obamacare in Kentucky, they largely say, we don’t like it, we don’t think it’s a good thing. But if you ask them about Kynect, it’s completely opposite, they love it, it’s a good program and it is helping people.

    RENEE SHAW: Joe Gerth is the political recorder for The Courier-Journal in Louisville.

    JOE GERTH: Some of the poorer counties in Kentucky are areas that vote very — very much in favor of Republicans. The jobs in some of these counties are quite often low-paying jobs, the sort of people who would have trouble getting health insurance on their own and now are benefiting from that.

    RENEE SHAW: What explains the disconnect between the Affordable Care Act and Kynect, the state health benefit exchange program?

    JOE GERTH: Five letters, O-B-A-M-A. You have to look at the polling on Obama. His favorability rating in Kentucky is somewhere around 29 percent. He’s not liked. People don’t like his policies. They don’t like him personally. And that’s played a huge roll in why Obamacare is viewed so negatively.

    RENEE SHAW: The president has such little support in Kentucky that, in the 2012 primary, when the president ran unopposed, some 42 percent of registered Democrats in Kentucky voted for uncommitted, rather than the president. In the general election, Republican Mitt Romney took the state by 23 percentage points.

    CHARLES HOWARD, Small Business Owner: I was born and raised a Democrat. I’m not now.

    RENEE SHAW: For Charles Howard, health care and the health care reform law have become difficult issues. He and his wife own and operate Howard’s Metal Sales in Chaplin, Kentucky, a metal siding and roofing operation with four employees and a contract worker. He believes Democrats no longer represent him.

    CHARLES HOWARD: You’re looking pretty good.

    Well, I’m a working man. And, as I have already explained to you, they’re not exactly my party now, and that’s why I have changed. But unlike some people who are Republicans, I wanted to believe what then Senator Obama was saying about having an affordable health care act that worked for everyone.

    RENEE SHAW: According to a recent Bluegrass poll conducted by four media outlets in the state, jobs and the economy ranked the highest in the minds of likely Kentucky voters, but Howard says a big part of the job equation for him is the cost of health care.

    As an example, he says the bill to insure just one of his employees, a 51-year-old man, has increased $125 a month, and he blames Obamacare.

    CHARLES HOWARD: Well, wages are going up for me because if he went from $300 two years ago to $425, they haven’t went up in his check, but they have went up out of our payroll, out of our expenses. So how do you give someone a price increase or a wage increase, I should say, when you’re having to be hit with those increases in insurance that he needs?

    I would just hope people who can say the Affordable Health Care Act has worked for me and my health insurance costs have went down exponentially, that they will realize that someone is paying that. Nothing is free.

    RENEE SHAW: And as a taxpayer and as a business owner, you’re saying you’re picking up the tab.

    CHARLES HOWARD:  Yes, ma’am. And how long can taxpayers and small business owners be the packhorse of the society at large?

    RENEE SHAW: Kendell Nash had a small nonprofit in Louisville that doesn’t offer health benefits. For her, the Affordable Care Act is the key issue affecting her vote and her support of Democrats this election.

    KENDELL NASH, Working Mom: I think the biggest thing that we should be focusing on is the health care and how it’s going to affect Kentucky, is the Affordable Health Care Act and how it’s going to affect Kentucky depending on which candidate is in office.

    RENEE SHAW: For Nash and her husband and son, Obamacare has meant financial stability. Her son has hearing loss and, before the new law, health insurance cost her family double what it does now.

    KENDELL NASH: It literally meant that my husband was working between 30 and 40 hours a week and coming home without a paycheck, because all of the money right back to pay our health care.

    RENEE SHAW: Nash says she’s frightened by the prospect of losing affordable health care.

    KENDELL NASH: If it were repealed, and we went back to the status quo, my family would essentially lose $7,000 from this year to the next. And it’s just really difficult to think about folks who are now insured for the first time ever. They would go back to having nothing. And we would have lower health outcomes and our communities that are devastated by poor health outcomes would continue to spiral.

    RENEE SHAW: Kentucky is full of strong feelings on the health care law, but it’s not clear how much those will affect the election. Like much of the nation, the state is getting ready for the next round of open enrollment on its health care exchange. That will be the next test of the health care law here. Enrollment starts two weeks after the midterm election.

    I’m Renee Shaw with KET.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And I will be in Kentucky next weekend to cover their Senate race.


    The post Will strong feelings about Obamacare influence Kentucky’s election? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    RECALL  monitor  air bag

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s been the worst year ever for auto recalls, and this week provided more disturbing news, the latest concerns, just how many vehicles have air bags that could be dangerous and should be recalled. The air bags made by the Japanese company Takata can rupture, causing metal fragments to fly out and injure someone.

    At least four deaths are connected with those ruptures. Federal regulators said this week that roughly eight million vehicles from nearly a dozen manufacturers should have repairs done or the bags replaced. That’s on top of 14 million already recalled worldwide.

    Moreover, lawmakers said this week that as many as 30 million vehicles could be equipped with those air bags.

    Overall, this year, nationwide, more than 50 million cars and trucks have been recalled for a variety of problems. That is one in five on U.S. roads.

    Micheline Maynard has been covering this for Forbes. She is a professor of business journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

    Micki Maynard, welcome back to the “NewsHour.”

    So, the most recalls ever. How big a deal are these — this air bag problem?

    MICHELINE MAYNARD, Arizona State University: I think a lot of your listeners probably heard about the General Motors issues with ignition switches.

    I actually think this is a bigger problem because it affects far more companies. It affects 11 different car companies, and it affects vehicles that were built from 2000 to 2008. And there are still a lot of those vehicles on the road.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is it clear then, Micki Maynard, who should have the air bags replaced, who should have them fixed? Are they being notified by the auto manufacturers?

    MICHELINE MAYNARD: Yes, it’s the auto companies’ responsibility to notify consumers, but consumers could also be proactive by going to the Web site of the Transportation Department.

    And you can put in the vehicle identification number from your car and find out whether the car is subject to recall. In this case, I would really urge people, if they’re concerned at all about their safety, to go on, see if their vehicle has been recalled, and in that case, get in touch with their dealer.

    I wouldn’t wait in the situation for a letter to come from the car company. If you’re really worried, call your dealer or your mechanic.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, in other words, even though there are only a few deaths so far, you’re saying this is urgent, because some of the stories we’re reading indicate the percentage of problems has been small, but there is still real concern.


    And one of the things that happens to cars as they get older is the parts get older. And, as I just said, some of these vehicles are now 14 years old, and this air bag technology, this passenger air bag technology is evolving. So the latest air bags are probably more precise than these were, but we don’t know. If you drove your car over rough roads, you drove your car in a high-humidity area, you might want to take the precaution of being proactive, rather than waiting.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We should note The Washington Post is reporting that there could end up being something like 30 million cars with this air bag problem.

    Micki, why is it that the auto manufacturers continue to use these air bags, why people weren’t notified sooner about this?

    MICHELINE MAYNARD: This air bag recall has really been kind of drifting along for about six years. And it was only in the last couple of years that we saw millions more vehicles added to these recalls. And one of the reasons is that cars start to get a little bit rickety as they get older. We thought quality was terrific.

    And what we’re finding out is there are certain components where they don’t hold up as well. And that’s one of the situations that’s going on here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But the auto manufacturers didn’t recognize this? And what about Takata, the maker of the air bags? Have they continued to make this particular type? Do we know?

    MICHELINE MAYNARD: This particular type is no longer being made. There’s a new version that’s being made.

    And one of the big problems with this recall is that Takata will have to produce the replacement parts. So here you have here Takata, which has already taken charge against its earnings of $750 million, they will have to spend the money to make replacement parts for millions of vehicles, and that’s going to hold things up.

    There are only a few manufacturers in the world that make air bag inflators to begin with, and now Takata will be burdened with making millions that they didn’t expect to make.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, are you saying there may not be enough parts to fix all these air bags?

    MICHELINE MAYNARD: People are very worried about the speed at which they will be able to get their cars fixed. And we’re hearing anecdotally of folks calling dealerships and trying to sign up for appointments and being told, we don’t have the parts. You will just have to wait.

    I think, with all the public scrutiny that this is getting, that governments, perhaps the United States government and the Japanese government, may have to step in and certainly the manufacturers may have to step in to give Takata some help to meet the demand for these parts.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Micheline Maynard, we thank you.

    MICHELINE MAYNARD: Thank you very much, Judy.


    The post What consumers should know about the Takata airbag recalls appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: While much attention is focused on the Ebola patient in Manhattan, there’s a community in Staten Island that’s paid unusually close attention to the epidemic in West Africa for months now. It’s a neighborhood already feeling the toll in a very personal way.

    Again to Hari Sreenivasan, who spent part of this week in the community.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: While you wouldn’t know it just by looking, this stretch of apartment buildings in a neighborhood called Park Hill on Staten Island is the heart of the Liberian community in New York City. In fact, it’s commonly known as Little Liberia.

    It’s home to one of the largest concentrations of Liberians outside of West Africa. While this community is healthy, the Ebola outbreak happening 4,000 miles away still hits home.

    Fatu Love Kromah, who goes by Love, is a home health worker who emigrated from Liberia in 2011.

    WOMAN: The past months have been terrible for me.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: She’s one of the thousands of people in this neighborhood with family ties to Liberia, and she told us that, three weeks ago, her pregnant sister saw a nurse who had previously dealt with Ebola patients.

    WOMAN: But when my sister got in pain, there was like nowhere else to go.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So your sister died?

    WOMAN: Her baby died.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Her baby died?

    WOMAN: Yes. Her 13-year-old son died.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Her 13-year-old son died?

    WOMAN: Yes.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What’s it been like in the United States when people hear that you’re Liberian?

    WOMAN: Well, I don’t blame anybody because, if it was me, I would do the same.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What Love is forgiving is what’s happening to Liberians everywhere, according to Oretha Bestman-Yates.

    ORETHA BESTMAN-YATES, Staten Island Liberian Community Association: My gosh, we have been like the target.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Bestman-Yates is the president of the Staten Island Liberian Community Association, or SILCA. She says the treatment of Liberians got worse after the news of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who died from Ebola in Texas earlier this month.

    ORETHA BESTMAN-YATES: Then the stigma started, that Liberians were walking around with Ebola, because with the three countries that are affected by Ebola, Liberia has become the face of Ebola.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, there’s stigma here in New York?


    HARI SREENIVASAN: Because you’re Liberian?

    ORETHA BESTMAN-YATES: Because we are Liberians.

    When you get on an elevator, people get out of the elevator, because they don’t want to be on the elevator with you because you’re from Africa. Just the accent alone.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Once they figure out you’re from Africa, they’re scared?

    ORETHA BESTMAN-YATES: They’re scared.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Bestman-Yates said her 6-year-old son, Jordan (ph), came home from school one day saying that he wanted to only be American, not Liberian-American, because the kids at school teased him of having Ebola.

    Since returning from Liberia in July, after visiting family, Bestman-Yates says she’s had trouble going back to her job as a health care worker, even after receiving a clean bill of health from her doctor.

    ORETHA BESTMAN-YATES: My employer is telling me, for administrative reasons, I cannot go to work.

    And what worries us is, we are like the breadwinner right now for our people in Liberia, because they’re looking up to us, you know, financially, because the government is shut down, schools are shut down, no — no work.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In the meantime, Bestman-Yates and SILCA are continuing their weekly food pantry for those in need in their neighborhood, but also raising money to send back to Liberia and help educate.

    Earlier this week, SILCA helped organize a section on the immigration implications of the Ebola outbreak.

    ORETHA BESTMAN-YATES: We are all family in here. If you have any concern about Ebola, the immigration status, please, we have experts here to talk to you on that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The session was run by Corina Bogaciu, an attorney for a New York nonprofit that focuses on helping African immigrants.

    CORINA BOGACIU, Attorney, African Services Committee: So, there are people who are stranded here, who are afraid to go back, are applying to extend their visitor visa, but in the meantime, they can’t work while they’re here. So, they can’t work to support themselves and they can’t work to support family back home who is struggling because of Ebola.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: This afternoon, dozens of protesters organized by African immigrant groups marched from Times Square toward the United Nations, asking for help in the fight against Ebola.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: A high school near Seattle, Washington, went into lockdown today after a student opened fire in the cafeteria. Police in the town of Marysville reported one person was killed, along with the gunman, who shot himself. Hospital officials said four students were wounded, three of them critically with head injuries. Students were seen streaming out of the school as officials searched the campus room by room. Police said they were confident there was only one gunman.

    Canadian lawmakers pledged today to make tougher laws against terrorism after two separate attacks left two soldiers dead. In response to the incidents, the Canadian military told troops nationwide to stop wearing their uniforms in public. The funeral for Corporal Nathan Cirillo was held in Ottawa today. He was gunned down at the National War Memorial before his killer went on a rampage through parliament. Officials said there’s still no link between the gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, and Islamic State militants, although he was a recent convert to Islam.

    Police in New York City labeled a hatchet attack on four rookie police officers a terrorist act by a homegrown radical. The suspect, Zale Thompson, was a Muslim convert, but has no ties to international terrorism. He was killed by police after wounding two officers yesterday in Queens.

    At least 30 Egyptian soldiers died today when their army checkpoint came under siege in the Sinai Peninsula. It was the deadliest single attack in decades on the military. Officials said it started with a car bomb and was followed by rocket-propelled grenades. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the army has been hunting down suspected jihadists in the area.

    There are new concerns today that Islamic State militants are using chlorine gas in Iraq. Three unnamed Iraqi officials told the Associated Press the lethal gas was used last month during fighting in two towns north of Baghdad. About 40 troops and Shiite militiamen showed symptoms of chlorine poisoning, but all recovered.

    In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is still investigating those reports.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:  When mixed in certain ways, and used in certain ways, it can become a chemical weapon that is prohibited under the chemical weapons agreement. And, therefore, these allegations are extremely serious, and we are seeking additional information in order to be able to determine whether or not we can confirm it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: If confirmed, it would be the first known chemical weapons attack by Islamic State in Iraq.

    European Union leaders struck a deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over the next 16 years. Big businesses say that target is too difficult to reach, while environmentalists say it doesn’t go far enough. E.U. Council President Herman Van Rompuy spoke after the late-night deal was agreed to.

    HERMAN VAN ROMPUY, President, European Council: It wasn’t easy, not at all, but we managed to reach a fair decision. It sets Europe on an ambitious, yet cost-effective climate and energy path. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of mankind. Ultimately, this is about survival. It is the example of a long-term policy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The E.U. deal makes it the first major economic bloc to set emission targets before a climate summit in Paris next year.

    Stocks on Wall Street closed out their best week in nearly two years. Strong earnings from Microsoft and other large U.S. companies provided the boost. The Dow Jones industrial average today gained 127 points to close at 16,805. The Nasdaq rose 31 points to close above 4,483. The S&P 500 rose more than 13 points to close at 1,964. For the week, the Dow gained 2.5 percent. The Nasdaq rose 5 percent. And the S&P was up 4 percent.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The governors of New York and New Jersey announced today that all travelers coming from Ebola-affected countries will face a new mandatory quarantine when they arrive at airports in those two states.

    Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie said the existing federal standards were not enough. It came just hours after New York City officials tried to tamp down concerns over that city’s first Ebola case.

    Hari Sreenivasan has the story from New York.

    MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, New York: We have the finest public health system not only anywhere in this country, but anywhere in the world. Its a public health system that has been developed over decades. It is ready for extraordinary challenges, and it’s proving it as we speak.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to reassure citizens this afternoon, a day after Dr. Craig Spencer was diagnosed with the Ebola virus and his fiancee and two friends were placed in quarantine.

    Spencer, isolated and in stable condition at a New York hospital, had recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea. But city health commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said the 33-year- old was symptom-free during his travels.

    DR. MARY TRAVIS BASSETT, Commissioner, New York City Health Department:  So, he was feeling well, had no fever at the time that he left Guinea, which was on the 14th. He continued to feel well with his onward travel from Europe to the United States, where he arrived at JFK on the 17th. And he continued to check his temperature daily.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Officials said Spencer visited the High Line Park, a coffee shop and restaurant in Manhattan on Tuesday as fatigue symptoms appeared. On Wednesday, he went running and rode the subway to a bowling alley in Brooklyn.

    It was at his apartment Thursday morning that Spencer reported having a 100.3 degree fever, and emergency workers moved him to Bellevue Hospital for treatment. Health officials are now retracing Spencer’s steps in the days leading up to his hospital admission. They have cleared the bowling alley and the coffee shop, and maintain that the odds of virus transmission in public spaces remains very low.

    Meanwhile, doctors declared Nina Pham, one of two nurses who contracted the disease while treating Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, free of the virus today. She was released from the National Institutes of Health this morning.

    NINA PHAM, Ebola Survivor: I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today. I first and foremost would like to thank God, my family, and friends. Throughout this ordeal, I have put my trust in God and my medical team. I’m on my way back to recovery, even as I reflect on how many others have not been so fortunate.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Pham later met with President Obama at the Oval Office. Her release is the latest in a series of recoveries by Americans who have contracted the disease. Pham colleague and fellow nurse Amber Vinson, NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, and three missionary workers, Dr. Kent Brantly, Nancy Writebol, and Dr. Rick Sacra have all been declared Ebola-free after receiving treatment at U.S. facilities.

    Still, on Capitol Hill today, National Nurses United co-president Deborah Burger said the Ebola response from U.S. hospitals and governmental agencies has been inconsistent.

    DEBORAH BURGER, Co-President, National Nurses United: Eighty-five percent of the nurses say they are not adequately trained. Give us the tools we need. All we ask from President Obama and Congress is not one more infected nurse.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But John Roth, an inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security, said an audit of previous DHS pandemic preparedness revealed questionable spending practices.

    JOHN ROTH, Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security: We found that DHS has a stockpile of about 350,000 white coverall suits and 16 million surgical masks, but hasn’t been able to demonstrate how either fits into their pandemic preparedness plans.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, in Switzerland, the World Health Organization announced plans to ramp up development of Ebola vaccines.

    WHO assistant director-general of health systems and innovation Marie-Paule Kieny:

    MARIE-PAULE KIENY, Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation, World Health Organization: All is put in place by all partners to start efficacy trials in affected countries in December, as early as in December 2014. Of course, the protocols will be adapted to take into consideration safety and immunogenicity results of the phase one trial as they become available.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: They said hundreds of thousands of doses could be ready for use in West Africa by the middle of next year. The WHO also announced it was sending experts to Mali, where a 2-year-old girl has died with Ebola, the first known case in that country; 43 others are being monitored for symptoms.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The World Health Organization said today there are already more than 9,900 cases of Ebola in Africa during this outbreak and close to 4,900 deaths. Nine cases of Ebola have been seen in the United States since the beginning of August. Only Thomas Eric Duncan, the man from Liberia, died.

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    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Dr. Richard Flyer has been my family’s pediatrician for thirteen years, and to be totally honest: I love the guy. I admire him and I trust him. But three years ago — when my son, Jack was ten — Flyer said something that floored us. He told Jack he wanted him to stop playing soccer, completely.

    Flyer argued that the dozens and dozens of kids he’d seen with serious, sometimes life-altering concussions – some of them from heading the ball — had convinced him that soccer itself was not safe.

    DR. RICHARD FLYER: We need to look at these sports realistically and say, “Are they really something we want our children to do?” Do we want to, in the name of sport, put a child’s brain in harm’s way?

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Flyer’s warning got me and my wife Tory to take a long, uncomfortable look at whether the sport our three kids love is safe. The benefits they get out of the game? Those are obvious, but are they worth the risks of serious injury? For the last few years, we’ve been struggling with a dilemma that’s facing really millions of parents across the country.

    TORY BRANGHAM: I just feel really confused and worried and just unsure what we’re supposed to do now.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It’s important to say that we became a soccer family partly by design. Our three kids are Jack, who’s 13, Gavin is 11, and Ally is nine. When they were little, they all tried a lot of different sports, but when it came time to officially join a team, we really steered them to soccer, which we thought was a ‘safe’ sport, compared to something like football.

    NFL ANNOUNCER: Lot of Dolphins sidelined today, including Donald Brown out with a concussion.

    TORY BRANGHAM: I think I knew enough and this is now ten years ago to know that football wasn’t really an option for our kids.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Because it wasn’t safe.

    TORY BRANGHAM: Because it was considered unsafe.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Then in 2008, that idea was driven home by an awful tragedy in our town. A 16 year-old football player at Montclair high school, Ryne Dougherty, died from a brain hemorrhage he got tackling during a game.

    Three weeks before — he’d had another hard hit and a concussion. The whole town was really shaken up by his death. Did we console ourselves, thinking, well, that couldn’t happen to our kids? I don’t know. Maybe. But we kept signing the kids up — and they were playing – and loving – soccer.

    ALLY BRANGHAM: I really like playing– how there are positions, cause there’s, like, a special thing that you have to do when you’re doing it so you feel like you’re an important part of it.

    GAVIN BRANGHAM: You get to move around a lot, and you have to be a good team, not just composed of good players.

    JACK BRANGHAM: Soccer is just the best sport there is. Period.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That said, I can’t pretend that Dr. Flyer’s warnings weren’t always somewhere in the back of our minds. In 2012, one of jack’s soccer mates, a boy named nick graham, went up for a header, fell to the ground, and suffered such a severe concussion that his headaches and dizziness didn’t get better for months. Nick left the team and hasn’t played since.

    Within the last year, at least three of his teammates have suffered concussions. Did that make us think about taking jack or any of our kids out of soccer? Honestly, no. Seeing them learn the value of hard work and dedication, how to handle the successes and the failures, it all seemed worth it to us.

    TORY BRANGHAM: In this day and age, there’s so many warnings — parental warnings. It’s not safe to walk to school, it’s not safe to drink that drink, it’s not safe to look at that screen. There’s so many “No’s.” And quite frankly some of the things in life that are the most fun and are most rewarding have some risk involved.

    And I’m not encouraging my kids to skydive or to cliff jump. What I’m saying is soccer is fun and it’s thrilling and it’s exciting.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And it gives them so much.

    TORY BRANGHAM: And it gives them a lot of pleasure. So I wasn’t prepared to take that away from them.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But then, during the 2014 world cup, which we loved, but also where we saw some of those really brutal blows to the head, I read this story about a movement to take heading out of kid’s soccer because of concern over concussions.

    I raised this question with a friend who’s spent his entire life around the game. Declan Carney was born in Ireland. He manages my son Jack’s team and our sons have played together for several years.

    DECLAN CARNEY: There’s no question that concussions need to be dealt with and need to be taken very seriously whenever they happen.

    But if soccer, heading a soccer ball was actually a real danger of some sort of brain injury, I think it would’ve exhibited itself somewhere in medical history in Europe or in South America or in Asia, where people play soccer pretty much all their life and have done for the last 80, 100 years.

    And I don’t think the science says it’s there.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I checked, and Declan is right: there aren’t any large-scale, long term studies connecting soccer to brain injury among the millions of soccer players in Europe or South America or Asia.

    But that article I read cited one small American study showing that adult amateur soccer players who headed the ball a lot – between about 900 and 1,500 times a year — showed abnormalities in their brains — represented here by the red and yellow sections. These are effects similar to what you’d see in concussions

    But many of these players said they hadn’t had concussions. The suggestion being that brain trauma might be occurring from a lot of heading without obvious symptoms. Keep in mind, 900 to 1500 headers is far more than any kid I know ever heads the ball, even with regular practice.

    But that article also quoted this man — Dr. Robert Cantu — he’s a neurosurgeon, co-directs a brain study center at Boston University, and is one of the nation’s top experts on youth concussions.

    Cantu acknowledges the science connecting soccer with brain injury is limited. He’s in fact called for much more research, but even so he thinks it’s better to be safe than sorry and not allow young kids to head the ball.

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: If you took heading out of soccer, it wouldn’t be behind football in the incidence of concussion. It wouldn’t even be in the high-risk group. It would be in a low-risk group.

    Cantu told me that heading the ball as well as the collisions and hard falls to the ground that often accompany them are problematic for kids because unlike adult brains kid’s brains are still developing.

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: The young brain is largely not myelinated. Myelin is the coating of nerve fibers that connect nerve cells, similar to coating on a telephone wire, it helps transmission but it also gives strength. And so when you violently shake the young brain, you have a much greater chance to disrupt nerve fibers and their connections than you do an adult brain.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And there’s this: a kid’s head sits on a less developed neck and torso than an adult’s. So the same blow might cause more damage to a kid than a grownup.

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: So, you’ve got a bobble head doll effect with our youngsters, so that the very minimal impact is now gonna set their brain in much more motion than it would an adult brain with a strong neck.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Cantu says strengthening kid’s neck muscles can help, but those soccer helmets and headgear don’t really offer much protection, so he says there’s only one thing left to do.

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: Take the most injurious activity for head injury out of it, but let the rest of the sport go on. And that’s playing soccer without heading.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Some others who know far more about the game than I do are listening to Cantu. One of whom you might recognize. Brandi Chastain’s dramatic penalty shot against China won the 1999 World Cup for the U.S. She also helped win gold for the U.S at two different Olympics.

    She now lives in northern California with her husband and her 8 year-old son Jaden. She coaches his team, and helps coach a Division 1 team at Santa Clara University. She, along with several of her former teammates from the U.S. National team, have joined forces with Dr. Cantu’s organization.

    BRANDI CHASTAIN: We don’t need to have heading in youth soccer, 14 and under.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The interesting thing is just a few years ago Chastain was on NBC saying that heading was safe for kids, as long as they were trained correctly.

    BRANDI CHASTAIN: [NBC News clip] It’s a part of the game, it’s an important part, and it’s a beautiful part of the game.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: At the time, were saying, “I think that it can be taught to kids, and it should stay in the game for kids.” Now you think differently. I wonder what was it in particular that changed your mind?

    BRANDI CHASTAIN: I think it was hearing the information that Dr. Cantu was putting out. The more I started hearing about it, and the more research that has come out, I just thought, you know, I have to protect them, and this doesn’t need to exist at this young age.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Chastain admitted that so far — their campaign really hasn’t taken off. Just a handful of programs have removed heading. She says the lead really has to come from the top, from the international governing body of soccer, FIFA and the U.S. Soccer Federation.

    Those organizations are currently being sued by a group of soccer parents in California who say the groups haven’t done enough to protect kids from head injury.

    We reached out to FIFA and to the U.S. Soccer Federation for comment. While neither would go on the record, citing the litigation, they both said that player safety is a priority. And the Federation indicated heading and concussions are among the topics regularly reviewed by its policy makers.

    Back in New Jersey, the soccer season goes on. We see a fair amount of heading, especially in my older son’s games. The boys take hard ones, soft ones. They score goals with them.

    Our soccer club, Montclair United, says it’s very concerned about concussions and trains our coaches thoroughly but they say they don’t make the rules, and so heading remains a part of our game.

    And quite frankly, there’s a lot of doubt on a lot of people’s minds that heading is a problem at all.

    DECLAN CARNEY: I have a 13 year old son that I wanna protect as much as anybody wants to protect their son. But I will let my son head a ball because I see no evidence whatsoever that there is a danger for anybody in youth soccer playing, heading a ball.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But then our pediatrician, Dr. Flyer says taking heading out doesn’t go far enough in his opinion. He says what he’s sees in his own patients is evidence enough that the sport isn’t safe for kids.

    DR. RICHARD FLYER: We had this 30-year experiment. The results are coming in. It’s not safe for children to do this. It’s a contact sport. That and, you know, that’s also a euphemism. It’s a brain-injuring sport. And if I don’t get this information across, even the risk of upsetting people, I’ve failed.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So where does all this leave us? My wife and kids and I still get up every Saturday and Sunday and get ready for another long weekend of soccer.

    But full disclosure: after all the interviews I’ve done tory and I recently told our kids not to head the ball anymore. So far, it’s not been an issue in their games or with their coaches.

    Even so, when we go out there and cheer them on… our pediatrician’s voice is still in the back of our minds.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Do you feel like we’re doing the right thing by letting them play?

    TORY BRANGHAM: We are sort of punting the ball down the field and avoiding a decision. Which in and of itself is a decision. Our decision is that we’ve let our kids continue to play soccer.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And are you okay with that?

    TORY BRANGHAM: Well, you know, I sort of just sit there secretly hoping at the end of every game that they walk off the field in one piece. I just want them to be whole.

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    Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the nation’s top experts on youth concussions says collisions and hard falls sustained during soccer games are problematic because kids’ brains are still developing. Credit: NewsHour

    One of the nation’s leading experts on concussions in youth sports, Dr. Robert Cantu, chief of neurosurgery at Emerson Hospital and co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, has teamed up with World Cup champion Brandi Chastain to advocate the end of headers in youth soccer for kids aged 14 and under.

    While Cantu acknowledges the science connecting soccer with brain injury is limited, he still thinks it’s a smart idea to get heading out of the youth game. NewsHour’s William Brangham spoke with Dr. Cantu recently for a report about the growing concern over concussions in youth soccer.

    This Q&A has been edited for space and clarity.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A lot of parents I’ve talked to have said, “We understand the concussion risks with football. But soccer is not football. It’s not hockey. It’s not boxing. This is a relatively safe sport. It’s hugely popular. Kids love playing it, and this is an overwrought concern.” What your response to that?

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: Well, they don’t know the statistics. The statistics are that, yes, football has more concussion than does soccer. But soccer kinda falls right behind it. And girls’ soccer is ahead of boys’ soccer.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In the number of concussions?

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: In the number of concussions that are recognized.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: More broadly, what do we know about the connection between brain injury and soccer?

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: There are a number of studies that show that just from the act of heading the ball, if you do enough of it, there can be structural changes seen. … In this one particular study that’s most cited by a Dr. Lipton in Radiology, it was 885 times a year and higher that they saw these changes.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: 885 headers per year.

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: Headers per year. And if you got up to 1,800 headers, then you started to see cognitive problems in people. There have been retrospective studies that looked at people that played soccer over a long period of time, and have found as compared with people that were not into collision sports, that the soccer players didn’t fare as well.

    All of those studies suffer in that they’re retrospective, looking back, and you can always say, “Well, maybe they got their trauma because of lifestyle pursuits or their brain abnormalities because of injury that maybe even happened off the soccer field.”

    So, perfect prospective studies are in place. A few of them have been done. And what they have shown is that soccer players’ brains, compared with swimmers, in one case, show greater brain atrophy and abnormality diffusion tensor imaging MRI studies.

    So, clearly, there has been structural changes that have been shown as a result of repetitively heading the ball at a very high level of heading. Other studies have shown that there have also been metabolic aberrations, meaning functional MRIs have shown the changes in terms of metabolic activity with individuals that have taken a lot of hits to the head over the course of a given year, even though those hits didn’t result in any recognized concussions. Whether they were unrecognized concussions or not, that’s open to question, but at least none were recognized.


    Credit: NewsHour

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You mean, not having a concussion — where you get dizzy, maybe black out a bit. You’re talking about [headers] that might occur a few times in the course of a game, but not feel like they’re causing an injury?

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: Absolutely. And in the course of a practice. Hits to the head, accelerations to the head that aren’t immediately joined up with symptoms where you’d be aware that you had a concussion.

    In the last year alone, there have been 13 studies that I’m aware of — there might be more– that have shown that sub-concussive hits in sports that take a lotta brain trauma, like soccer in some cases, football in other cases, have shown abnormalities on DTI MRI, have shown abnormalities on functional MRIs … and also breakdown of the blood-brain barrier. … And that’s happened without recognized concussion, just from repetitive trauma. And they found the individuals with the highest degree of abnormalities were those individuals that took the highest number of hits over the course of a season.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Is there a difference when we’re talking about the younger brain versus an adult brain? Is this a particular concern when you’re talking about young kids versus older players?

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: Yes, I think it’s a huge concern. And there’s a very big difference between the young brain and the adult brain. Some of the key distinctions are that the young brain is largely not myelinated. Myelin is the coating of nerve fibers that connect nerve cells, similar to coating on a telephone wire, it helps transmission but it also gives strength. And so when you violently shake the young brain, you have a much greater chance to disrupt nerve fibers and their connections than you do an adult brain. A young brain is housed in a disproportionately big head. Ninety percent of our head’s circumference has been achieved by the age of five, but our neck strength and size is very small compared to where it will be as an adult.

    So, you’ve got a bobblehead doll effect with our youngsters, so that the very minimal impact is now gonna set their brain in much more motion than it would in an adult brain with a strong neck.

    Youngsters also, particularly between the ages of ten and 12, are going through what we refer to as connectivity and pruning of connections of nerve fibers. And the nerve fiber tracks that are going to make up our adult intellect and our adult emotional makeup are largely being fine-tuned during that two-year period. And injuries that occur to the brain during those two-year periods may result in somebody not reaching their maximal intellectual state or the stability emotionally that they otherwise were genetically programmed to reach because of brain injury.

    So, youngsters have a number of things going on where their developing brain—that make them not only more prone to injury but slower to recover from injury and have a greater chance for long-lasting effect.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, do these effects go away? If you stopped playing, can you, in effect, heal?

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: Well, that’s where I’ve got a great advantage over a researcher working at– in– in a laboratory or working at a tertiary institution. I’ve got 45 years of having followed youngsters playing sports, youngsters having brain injuries. And I’ve seen a number of youngsters. The overwhelming majority completely recover as best I can measure it from most of the concussions that I have seen over the course of my career. Because I see a lot of post-concussion syndrome, though, I’ve seen a lot of youngsters also who’ve had life-altering changes because of brain injuries sustained from repetitive concussions.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Life-altering?

    Life-altering. Meaning by that, that although they eventually were able to go further with their education, and in most cases go on to college, they’re no longer the same personality in many cases. And many of them are having to work far harder and achieve results not as successful as they were achieving at a younger age, which– with much less effort.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Why is it that some players, some young athletes can have a certain number of headers or concussions and come through it seemingly unscathed, and others don’t? Why is that? Is there some protective mechanism that some people have and others don’t?

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: William, that’s the $64,000 question we’re all studying. Why do some people recover– the overwhelming majority recover from concussions and others go on to post-concussion syndrome? And why do a certain group of people subjected to the same degree of head trauma as somebody else go on to have a later-life neurodegenerative disease that we call chronic traumatic encephalopathy?

    There’s no question that most of us feel there are genetic factors. And there are probably environmental factors as well. We don’t know the answers to just what they are today. … But there’s no question that somebody– some people seem genetically programmed to develop problems with the same degree of head trauma as somebody else can have that head trauma and not develop those problems.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But as a parent, as a coach, as a kid themselves, there’s no way of knowing if you’re that person or not.

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: Right now today, there’s no way of knowing. We don’t know what the genetic makeup is that is putting these people at risk. What we do know, though, is something that I think everybody knows intuitively without a researcher or a scientist or a doctor telling them, and that is, to get hit in the head is not a great thing if you can avoid it.

    Let’s not get paranoid about it. We’re all gonna hit our heads. We’ve got a marvelous protection system going between the scalp, the skull, the cerebral spinal fluid in the brain inside the water bath.

    But if I were to sit here and hit you as hard as I could with a pillow, that’s about what your sustaining with heading soccer balls, especially from close contact. And I’d be charged with child abuse if I whacked my child 20 times with a pillow as hard as I could. And yet, that’s pretty common stuff over the course of a number of soccer games at the youth level.

    So, I think we need to look at our sports and examine them and say, “How can we still play them?” Lord knows, I want everybody to be playing sports. I want sports to be played by more people than are playing them now. If we’re not playing sports as a kid, we’re probably not gonna be very active as an adult. And that has huge health consequences as well as emotional issues. So, we need kids playing sports. But I think we need them playing sports safer. And at certain ages, the sport can be altered to make it safer. Take the most injurious activity for head injury out of it, but let the rest of the sport go on. And that’s playing soccer without heading.

    It’s playing flag football at the very early ages instead of tackle football. These things can be done and the sports can still be played. And the interesting thing is, when I talk with a Brandi Chastain or I talk with other elite world-class athletes that have played this sport at the highest level, they tell me, now that they’re soccer moms and soccer coaches- they tell me the kids play better soccer at the early ages if they don’t try to head the ball. Take the ball off the chest, the thigh or the leg, because they can control it better than they can with their heads at that age. So, they actually function better. And, of course, they function much more safely.

    Because in the act of heading, that’s when accidentally heads collide with other heads, heads collide with other body parts — elbows, shoulder, a wrist– and that’s when concussions happen. So that the risk in heading the ball isn’t just the heading the ball properly. It’s the risk of getting a concussion as well.


    Credit: NewsHour

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: I know one mom in particular who’s interested in trying to do what are called “baseline evaluations” of players ahead of time. Can you explain what the concept behind that is and why that might be useful?

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: Yes. At all levels, baseline evaluation is very, very important. And what you’re really wanting to do is have the baseline evaluation be whatever is going to be the assessment that the individual will have if they’re suspected of having a head injury, if they’re suspected of having a concussion.

    And what we do know is there’s no single test that’s uniformly accurate in diagnosing concussion except in the minority of cases where somebody’s unconscious. If somebody’s rendered unconscious, you know they’ve had a concussion. That happens less than 10% of the time. The other 90% of the time, it’s having one or more of the 26 post-concussion symptoms that we look for.

    And here, it’s very important to have baseline balance evaluation, because you’re gonna use balance in evaluating after–

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Testing their ability to stand upright under certain circumstances.

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: Yes. We normally use standing with two feet together, eyes open, eyes closed, one foot, heel toe, in front of the other– so-called “tandem stance,” eyes open, eyes closed. And then single leg stance– eyes open, eyes closed.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, you test them when they have not been injured to get a baseline, and then if they are suspected of having something later, you test them again to see if there’s a difference.

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: Yes. And you wanna test them for their baseline at a resting state, not exerted, so it’s optimal conditions. Yes, you want to know whether, when you’re seeing someone and they’re making errors now, “Is this really reflecting a change from their baseline?”

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: –or were they always this way?

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: –or were they always that way?” And that’s exactly the case.


    Credit: NewsHour

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Do you worry that by focusing on the injury-causing potential of kid’s sports you’ll actually scare kids and parents away?

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: I want parents to not for a second think about not having their kids play sports. It’s vital that they play sports. Now what sports they play and how they play those sports, we can have a discussion about that perhaps. But definitely kids need to be in sports. And those that are playing contact/collision sports hopefully are gonna be playing them under coaches that are gonna teach the proper technique and under coaches that are gonna minimize the full contact aspects of practice and be teaching skill drills whenever possible.

    We can greatly eliminate the chance for concussion and drastically reduce the amount of subconcussive trauma by just reducing the way we practice sports, taking the full collision practices and holding them to a bare minimum.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, since you’re a father — let’s say you were today a father of young kids, would you encourage them to play soccer, wholeheartedly?

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: I would wholeheartedly want my children playing soccer. If they were young, if they were under the age of 14, I would ask them to not head the ball and make a little pact with the coach. And that probably would preclude what positions they played on the soccer team somewhat, but I would want them playing soccer full-bore.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But you would like leagues around the country to universally say, “We’re gonna take heading out of the game for young kids.”

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: Yes, I would. Because it would greatly reduce the head trauma these youngsters are subjected to, number one. And number two– taking the lead from the Brandi Chastains and the Cindy Parlows and the Joy Fawcetts of the soccer world, it would, in their opinion, enhance teaching of soccer skills, the foot skills that are the hallmark of the sport and the awareness skills of where you are on the field — that are equally as important. And they believe that it would not hurt the product by the time one got in– in– high school. If you wanted to work on some heading drills at an earlier age, head with a much lighter ball, a beach ball or a lighter soccer ball.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And so your scientific opinion is that once the children get into the late teen years, once they get into high school, that they can then physiologically, safely head the ball in soccer.

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: More safely. Yes. We don’t know that if you’re heading it an excessive amount of time, even at the high school level, that there are not some issues to be concerned about. … But it’s certainly much safer than it is at younger ages.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Does strengthening the neck help protect the head?

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: We’ve had, for years, the belief that neck strength reduces your chance of having a concussion — if you see the hit coming. And it’s based on several practical things. One is in a study of NFL players that were in the open field.

    The person that didn’t see the hit coming was concussed every time there was a concussion. The hitter never was. And yet if you take two people, each of whom see the hit coming, you can’t predict who’s gonna have a concussion, if there is a concussion. And it was because the person didn’t see the hit coming, their neck was relaxed.

    And then in the last six months there’s been a publication by Cindy Collins and Dawn Comstock that looked at the incidence of concussion compared with neck strength in high school athletes, across sports. And it was found across sports that those with the stronger necks had fewer concussions. Those with the weakest necks had the highest incidence

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What about helmets? What about the soccer helmets? Do those offer any protection?

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: Soccer helmets offer protection from scalp lacerations and scalp hematomas. They don’t offer protection from concussion. Unfortunately, even football helmets do little to– protect against concussion.

    And the reason is, that although helmets do a fabulous job preventing and reducing linear forces over a very small focal area, they don’t do much for the rotational forces. And that’s what you wind up with primarily when two heads collide. And when a head with a rigid neck and a big body collides with another head, it’s gonna move it quickly.

    And that movement very quickly is what sets up the rotational forces inside the brain that result in a concussion.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, you think soccer could make this adaptation — take heading out of the kid’s game — and the game that so many kids and parents love will not be grievously changed.

    DR. ROBERT CANTU: I hope it becomes even more popular. Because if you took heading out of soccer, it wouldn’t be behind football in the incidence of concussion. It wouldn’t even be in the high-risk group. It would be in a low-risk group. It’s not gonna mean that every concussion’s gonna come out of it. No. You can get a concussion in any sport.

    But it would no longer be in the high-risk group if you took that one act out of it. And you can still play the sport at the youth level at a higher level if you don’t try the heading.

    The post Q&A: Should soccer players wear helmets? Top neurosurgeon weighs in on concussion risks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    CDC Director Tom Frieden listens via videoconference as U.S. President Barack Obama holds a meeting with cabinet agencies coordinating the government's Ebola response, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    U.S. President Barack Obama met with cabinet agencies and the CDC’s Director Tom Frieden via videoconference to coordinate the government’s Ebola response on Oct. 15. In his weekly address Saturday, Obama stressed that science, not fear, must guide the country’s response to Ebola. Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says the U.S. must be guided by science – not fear – as it responds to Ebola.

    In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says he was proud to give Texas nurse Nina Pham a hug in the Oval Office after she was cured of Ebola. He says the other nurse who contracted Ebola is also improving.

    Obama is praising New York’s quick reaction to its first Ebola case. He says he’s promised local officials any federal help they need.

    Obama is reminding Americans they can’t contract Ebola unless they come into direct contact with a patient’s bodily fluids.

    The president says the U.S. can beat the disease if it remains vigilant. He says the best way to stop it is at its source in West Africa.

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    WASHINGTON — The Ebola virus’s arrival in New York City and yet another West African nation – Mali – renewed questions about whether stricter travel restrictions would help lock down the deadly disease. The governors of New York and New Jersey went ahead and issued their own quarantine order.

    There was good news, too, on Friday as one of the two American nurses who caught Ebola from a patient headed home from the hospital, stopping by the White House to get a celebratory hug from President Barack Obama. European nations pledged more money to fight the virus in Africa.

    But the World Health Organization said Saturday the number of people believed to have Ebola has risen above 10,000.

    A look at Ebola developments worldwide:


    Many New Yorkers were rattled by the news that a doctor unknowingly infected with the virus had ridden the subway, visited parks and gone bowling after returning from treating Ebola patients in Guinea.

    Health officials said Dr. Craig Spencer followed U.S. and international protocols by checking his temperature daily and seeking treatment Thursday when he suffered diarrhea and a 100.3-degree fever.

    He was listed in stable condition Friday at a special isolation unit at Bellevue Hospital Center, and a decontamination company was sent to his Harlem home. His fiancee, who was not showing symptoms, was in quarantine.

    Ebola isn’t contagious until the infected person becomes ill, and city officials tried to reassure New Yorkers. But some people were breaking out the hand sanitizer and imagining scenarios where Ebola might spread through the city’s subway and other crowded spaces.

    “There is no cause for alarm,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “New Yorkers who have not been exposed to an infected person’s bodily fluids are simply not at risk.”


    The New York case prompted the governors of New York and New Jersey to issue a 21-day quarantine for any travelers, including doctors, who had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa.

    Earlier in the day, at a congressional hearing, some U.S. lawmakers urged a travel ban or a quarantine. It can take up to 21 days after someone is infected to become sick.

    They cited errors in the handling of the Dallas Ebola case and said the New York situation exposed more problems with the government’s response to the disease.

    “I can tell you it’s not working. All you need to do is look at Craig Spencer,” said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla.

    Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., said health authorities weren’t taking the threat seriously enough.

    “This can’t just be about ideology and happy talk,” Lynch said.

    Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant HHS secretary for preparedness and response, told lawmakers a travel ban would be counterproductive and make it harder to stop the disease in West Africa, where the hardest-hit nations are desperate for more resources and medical help.

    “There is an epidemic of fear, but not of Ebola, in the United States,” Lurie said.

    Doctors Without Borders, which has been at the forefront of the battle against Ebola, stuck by its guidelines for health workers returning from the hot zone. They are closely monitored for disease and don’t need to be quarantined if they aren’t showing symptoms, the group said in a statement.

    Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief organization based in North Carolina, said that its returning aid workers spend three weeks isolated in a “safe house,” where they are monitored for fever and asked to stay away from crowds and not visit with family.


    A 2-year-old girl who traveled by bus from Guinea with her grandmother died of Ebola after arriving in Mali. It was the first case in that West African nation, and World Health Organization officials say that because the child was sick and bleeding from her nose, she may have infected many people.

    Health officials are monitoring 43 people, including 10 health care workers, who might have been exposed and the WHO is sending experts to help.

    The disease is out of control in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Cases also have reached Nigeria and Senegal since the outbreak began in March, but those West African countries were able to stop its spread.

    More than 4,800 people have died in the outbreak.


    As the outbreak continued to spread, the WHO said Saturday the number of people believed sickened by Ebola has passed 10,000. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa is the largest outbreak of the disease ever. There have also been cases in three other West African countries, Spain and the United States.


    The two nurses who caught Ebola from a hospital patient in Dallas are now free of the disease.

    The first to fall ill, Nina Pham, left a government hospital near Washington with a big smile, telling reporters she was eager to reunite with her dog, Bentley, who had been put in quarantine. The King Charles Spaniel so far has tested negative for the disease.

    “I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today,” Pham told reporters outside the hospital.

    Pham, 26, was invited to the White House afterward, where Obama hugged her and praised the bravery of health care workers who put themselves at risk to help Ebola patients.

    Pham and co-worker Amber Vinson were infected while caring for a Liberian man at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Thomas Eric Duncan, who became sick after traveling to the U.S., died in the hospital Oct. 8.

    Vinson “is making good progress” and tests no longer find any Ebola virus in her blood, Emory University Hospital said in a statement Friday. She remains hospitalized.


    The 28 nations of the European Union are pledging more than 1 billion euros – or about $1.26 billon – to the Ebola cause.

    “Helping West Africa to cope with the crisis is the most effective way to prevent a serious outbreak of the disease elsewhere,” EU leaders said Friday in a statement at the end of their two-day fundraising summit.

    Britain’s contribution of 205 million pounds ($329 million) was the largest in the group.

    Separately, China pledged $81 million to the worldwide Ebola effort.

    Associated Press writers Baba Ahmed in Mali, Marilynn Marchione in Milwaukee, Mike Stobbe in New York, and Erica Werner and Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.

    The post More calls for quarantines across US amid Ebola concerns appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Nicole Pries, foreground, and Lindsey Oliver embrace after becoming the first same-sex couple to be married in a ceremony performed by Robin Gorsline in a ceremony outside the John Marshall Court's Building in Richmond, Virginia Oct. 6, 2014. Photo by Jay Paul/Reuters

    Nicole Pries, foreground, and Lindsey Oliver embrace after becoming the first same-sex couple to be married in Richmond, Virginia on Oct. 6, 2014. On Saturday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the federal government’s recognition of same-sex married couples in six additional states. Photo by Jay Paul/Reuters

    The United States federal government will now recognize same-sex married couples in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming, Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Saturday.

    “With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, our nation moves closer to achieving of full equality for all Americans,” Holder said in a statement.

    The announcement comes one week after Holder stated that same-sex married couples in seven states, including, Colorado, Indiana, Nevada and Oklahoma, would now be recognized by the federal government.

    Same-sex married couples in these states will now be eligible for social security and veterans benefits.

    Nearly three weeks ago, the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals on lower-court rulings that struck down bans on gay marriage in states including Virginia and Utah, reported Reuters.

    Same-sex marriage is now recognized in 32 states and the District of Columbia.

    The post Same-sex marriage now recognized in six additional states appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The U.S. military in Texas is training a group of 30 personnel, who will be able to rapidly step up if the next Ebola case occurs, according to a report by Reuters.

    The team, known as the U.S. Military Ebola Rapid Response Team, consists of five physicians, 20 nurses and five certified trainers. The 30-member group assembled last Wednesday and will complete their training by Monday in San Antonio, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

    The establishment of the military medical team is another way the U.S. military has responded to the Ebola crisis. The military already deployed troops to West Africa, where the disease has killed more than 4,900 people, according to the latest report released by the World Health Organization.

    Members of the response team told Reuters that they had not received a request to go to New York, where a doctor who recently returned from Guinea tested positive for the Ebola virus on Thursday. Reuters said team members would deploy if requested by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    The post US military readies domestic Ebola team appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    More than 10,000 people worldwide have been infected with the Ebola virus, the World Health Organization reported Saturday, and nearly half of those people died. 

    The countries hit hardest are Liberia, with a reported 4,665 cases and 2,705 deaths; Sierra Leone with 3,896 cases and 1,281 deaths; and Guinea, which has seen 1,553 cases and 926 deaths, according to the WHO.

    The figures are likely an underestimate since many people in the worst-affected countries have been either too scared or unable to seek medical care,  the Associated Press reported.

    The most recent WHO report shows no change in Liberia’s case toll, indicating numbers may be lagging behind, as shortages of labs capable of dealing with potentially infected blood samples are causing a delay in tracking, the AP reported.

    There have been nine cases of Ebola diagnosed in the United States so far, including Thomas Eric Duncan, who died from the virus on Oct. 8, and the most recent case, Dr. Craig Spencer, who returned to New York last week after treating Ebola patients in Guinea.

    Since his return, governors of New York and New Jersey imposed a mandatory 21-day quarantine period for all doctors, health workers and other travelers who have had contact with Ebola victims in West Africa.

    The first person to be quarantined under the rules was a health worker who arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport on Friday, the BBC reported.

    The woman showed no symptoms, but was found to have a fever. A preliminary test came back negative for Ebola, the New Jersey health department said Saturday. She remains in isolation at this time.

    The post Worldwide Ebola cases top 10,000, WHO reports 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

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You’ve heard assurances from public health officials the last several weeks about the Ebola scare.

    Tonight, we want to go into much greater detail about when the disease is dangerous and when it’s not.

    For more, we are joined by Dr. Stephen Morse. He is a professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University here in New York.

    First, let me I guess start with the news from yesterday when the two governors said they were going to take these increased measures of quarantining medical workers who come back from these countries. Will this work or is this more of a systematic response to the fear that people have?

    DR. STEPHEN MORSE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I think largely it’s something that looks good and will make us feel better, but I think it is largely a response to the fear. After all, these health care workers, although they may be the most likely to be infected because of their close contact with the patients, are also the ones who are most likely to be responsible to take their temperature and be careful.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, you know, there’s this line in the sand about symptomatic versus asymptomatic. People are contagious when they’re systematic. How do we know Ebola is not contagious before the victim starts showing symptoms?

    DR. STEPHEN MORSE: Well, everything we know about Ebola is based on the experience of 24 epidemics from 1976 on. The virus, I don’t think, has changed that significantly. And generally, these don’t change that much. So, what we do know from past experience is it requires direct contact with infected bodily fluids of the patient, or sometimes in the case of those who succumb, the corpse, the skin can also be infectious.

    So, if they’re not bleeding or vomiting or doing any of those other things, there are no infected liquids to come in contact with, the likelihood is very great that they’re not going to be able to infect anyone until they show symptoms.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, one of the concerns has been how viruses have mutated in past. Is there any discussion of the possibility that this virus could mutate into something that’s not just transmitted from bodily fluids but something that could be transmitted by air or any other way?

    DR. STEPHEN MORSE: Well, all of these viruses mutate. HIV does, influenza does, and, Ebola, of course, has been studied recently and a number of mutations have been shown but we don’t have any example ever of any virus that whatever mutations it’s undergone has changed in its route of transmission. HIV has had many opportunities to do that, and it still hasn’t really fundamentally changed in that respect.

    With Ebola, it may not be so much mutation or the amount of mutation but, you know, just simply the experience we have with it suggests that it’s not going to change that much.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK, I’d like to discuss a couple of scenarios that New Yorkers here were very concerned about and perhaps extract from that something the rest of the country could learn. So, if this individual for example, this doctor was standing a foot away on a subway car or if I had taken the taxi after he used it, what are the chances of getting it if he was showing symptoms versus if he was not?

    DR. STEPHEN MORSE: If there were symptoms and if, for example, he had left some blood behind or vomited or something like that, then there might be some risk, especially if one happened to touch it, or touch it to their eyes or nose. But in most cases, there is very little risk. And if there are no symptoms, there wouldn’t be any of this material to leave behind. And there’s not that much virus in sweat during the early stages.

    So, I think it would be very unlikely, in fact almost impossible, for someone to get infected by an asymptomatic patient, one who has not yet shown symptoms of disease.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: one of the concerns here for example is if he touched a specific bowl ball and somebody else touched it, right? I mean, again, it has to be blood or vomit or something else?

    DR. STEPHEN MORSE: Yes, in general. And in general, they have to have had symptoms already.

    And we have a number of examples that I think bear this out. One of the most severely ill patients, Patrick Sawyer, flew from Monrovia, sick as could be, he was so sick he could barely get on the plane, to Lagos, Nigeria, where he thought he had to go to a meeting and insisted on going. And the Nigerian government actually did contact tracing and found all the ones they could of the other passengers on the plane. I think they found 56 other passengers, and not a single one had become infected.

    So, it’s– unless you’re really getting very close, like the health care workers who are taking care of the patients, it’s just not that easy to catch.

    SREENIVASAN: So, there was a lot of concern in New York when initially that first night we heard this patient had a 103 temperature, and then it was clarified that it was 100.3.

    What’s the temperature that we should be concerned about?

    DR. STEPHEN MORSE: Well, this depends, of course, what your normal body temperature is because some people may have a little bit low, or a little bit high from the textbook. But 103 — he is certainly, as in the Duncan case, 103 would be certainly something I would be very concerned about; 100.3 I think is still something to consider, given his circumstances, he probably knew that this was something significant. Ordinarily, you might think you were coming down with a cold or the flu or something like that. But if you have been in contact with Ebola-infected patients you might have a lower threshold for being concerned and doing something.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Dr. Stephen Morse from the Mailman School of Health at Columbia University — thanks so much.

    DR. STEPHEN MORSE: Thank you.

    The post ‘It’s just not easy to catch:’ Dissecting the dangers of contracting Ebola appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Former Florida Gov.  Charlie Crist waits next to an empty podium for Gov. Rick Scott who delayed his entry onto stage for a televised debate due to a dispute over an electric fan. Scott and Crist face off in the governors race. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist waits for Gov. Rick Scott, who delayed stepping onto stage for a televised debate on Oct. 15, due to a dispute over an electric fan. Early voting in Florida is impacting the campaign strategies for both Scott and Crist, reported the Associated Press. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    LOS ANGELES — For over 1 million Californians, the Nov. 4 election is over. That’s because they’ve already voted.

    A growing throng of early voters in the nation’s most populous state – perhaps comprising half of all votes to be cast in California’s general election – has stretched Election Day into weeks. Candidates who wait until the end to close the deal with voters will be too late.

    “The election is not a one-day event anymore. It’s a 30-day event,” said veteran Democratic strategist Bill Carrick, who is spearheading Kennedy clan member Bobby Shriver’s campaign for Los Angeles County supervisor.

    The midterm elections are just over a week away and California is one of more than 30 states in which some form of advance voting is shaping the way campaigns must be conducted. In some rural areas of the state, 8 of every 10 ballots cast could come through the mail.

    The strategy-shifting dynamics caused by early voting are coming into play in states such as Florida, where Republican Gov. Rick Scott faces a tough re-election challenge from Democrat Charlie Crist, and Iowa, where GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst hopes to defeat Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley and pick up one of the six additional seats the party needs for a majority.

    Just this week, first lady Michelle Obama was in Iowa City urging college students to vote early for Braley at campus polling places.

    In California, where nearly all the early voting is done by mail, the number of voters who registered as permanent absentee has been on the rise. In the state’s June primary, nearly 70 percent of ballots were cast this way.

    Other states focus their early voting efforts on placing polling booths in strip malls or other convenient locations weeks ahead of Election Day.

    The early voting trend has been underway for years in many states, as voters seek the convenience of filling out a ballot at their kitchen table, or near where they work, shop or take classes, rather than traveling to a polling place on a particular day and waiting in line.

    Almost 129 million people voted in the 2012 presidential election, 35.8 percent of them before Election Day. In the 2010 midterms, when Republicans regained control of the House, roughly 3 out of 10 voters cast early ballots.

    More than 4 million people mailed in ballots in 2012 in California, up from about 3 million two years earlier.

    “Vote-by-mail in California used to be something reserved for people who had permanent disabilities, people who were out of town on vacation,” said Paul Mitchell, vice president with Political Data Inc., a research powerhouse that helps campaigns identify and track voters.

    Early voting has changed the timing of campaigns. Mitchell recalled a recent campaign that poured money into a last-minute TV ad buy. “They were advertising basically to ghosts, voters who had already voted,” he said.

    For both major parties, finding and locking in early supporters has become essential.

    The goal in the election remains the same, winning, but the playing field is longer. That means just about everything must start sooner and be maintained longer, whether TV and radio ads, phone calls to prospective voters or dispatching volunteers with clipboards to knock on doors.

    Republican consultant Duane Dichiara, who is working on some hotly contested California legislative races, said the elongated voting period has increased the cost of campaigning and made it more challenging for campaigns to sustain fresh advertising messages for voters.

    “It’s a long haul for everybody in the business,” he said.

    Chris Long, a retired schoolteacher, was hard at work on that job this week in a Democratic campaign office in Los Angeles, where his eyes toggled between a computer screen listing voters with mail ballots and the phone he was using to reach them.

    It’s a job that has evolved with technology. Each voter is assigned a bar code, and the party has access to everything from voter ages to historical records that show who is likely to vote and when. That allows volunteers such as Long to zero in on voters at the time campaigns believe they will be making their decisions.

    “We have to get the right candidates elected,” said Long, wielding a plastic wand to record voter responses into the computer.

    Computerized voting data allows campaigns to divide voters between those who vote by mail and those who historically go to the polls on Election Day. Yet even among absentee voters, there are differences. Some tend to mail ballots in immediately after receiving them, while others hold out until the final days.

    Contact with those voters is adjusted accordingly: There is no need to mail candidate ads or make phone calls to a household where ballots were sent in weeks earlier.

    To sort it out “you have campaigns within the campaigns,” said Carrick, the Democratic strategist. “You are literally chasing the ballots.”

    The post Early voting shifts midterm election campaign strategies appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A visitor takes a picture of a Picasso painting during the press day at the Picasso Museum, on October 18, 2014 in Paris, France. Credit: Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images

    A visitor takes a picture of a Picasso painting during the press day at the Picasso Museum, on Oct. 18, 2014 in Paris, France. Credit: Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images

    On the 133rd birthday of the celebrated Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, the Paris museum carrying his name reopened after a facelift five years in the making.

    “Give me a museum and I will fill it,” Picasso reportedly said during his lifetime.

    And so he did. The co-founder of cubism, who died on Apr. 8, 1973 in the south of France, created enough works in his lifetime to fill at least three eponymous museums in Spain and France.

    The Paris museum Musée Picasso Paris, which owns 5,000 Picasso pieces, closed in 2009 for the renovation, which cost about 52 million euros ($66 million) and tripled the size of the exhibition space over five floors.

    French President Hollande, Le Bon, Picasso’s daughter, Maya Widmaier Picasso, as well as the new Minister of Culture, Fleur Pellerin, were among those in attendance at the Paris museum reopening on Saturday.

    “You don’t build anything on nostalgia,” Hollande said, Reuters reported. “Pablo Picasso was a painter of the future, of hope, of conquests, he freed himself from the rules of the past. He was avant-garde. France is an avant-garde country,” he said.

    In June, controversy swirled in New York around Picasso’s tapestry painting ”Le Tricorne” that hung in the Four Seasons restaurant, following a legal dispute between the New York Landmarks Conservancy and the restaurant’s owners. The piece was removed from the restaurant in September.

    The post Happy birthday, Picasso! Museum reopens after five-year renovation appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Jeff Hulbert of Annapolis, Maryland, holds up a sign in front of the White House on October 24, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Hulbert is protesting for a mandatory quarantine for people that have returned from Ebola affected countries. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

    A protestor holds up a sign in support of mandatory quarantine for people that have returned from Ebola affected countries on Oct. 24. Mandatory 21-day quarantines on health care workers returning from Ebola-ravaged West Africa have been put in place by three states. Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Mandatory 21-day quarantines on health care workers returning from Ebola-ravaged West Africa, like those put in place by three states, can have the unintended consequence of discouraging them from volunteering, a top federal health official said Sunday.

    Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that as a physician and scientist, he would have recommended against a quarantine.

    “The best way to protect us is to stop the epidemic in Africa, and we need those health care workers so we do not want to put them in a position where it makes it very, very uncomfortable for them to even volunteer to go.” he said.

    He said active and direct monitoring can accomplish the same thing as a quarantine because people infected with Ebola do not become contagious until they start showing symptoms. Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.

    New York, New Jersey and Illinois imposed mandatory quarantines after Dr. Craig Spencer, a Doctors Without Borders physician who treated patients in Guinea, was diagnosed with Ebola last Thursday. The doctor, who is now in isolation at New York’s Bellevue Hospital, had been on the subway, went bowling and to a park and restaurant before showing symptoms

    Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., said he concluded the quarantine was necessary to protect public health in his state and that he thinks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “eventually will come around to our point of view on this.”

    Christie said Fauci was counting on “a voluntary system with folks who may or may not comply.”

    The governor pointed to an NBC News crew that had returned from West Africa was supposed to self-quarantine because its cameraman was hospitalized with Ebola. “Two days later they were out picking up takeout food in Princeton and walking around the streets of Princeton,” he said. The cameraman has recovered and has been released from the hospital.

    Fauci said Spencer did exactly what he should have done by putting himself in isolation as soon as he developed a fever. “No one came into contact with his body fluids,” Fauci said. “The risk is essentially zero, vanishingly small.”

    Fauci said the health care workers returning from treating Ebola patients are responsible and know that if they have symptoms there’s the possibility of transmitting the disease. “They don’t want to get anyone else infected,” he said.

    As for the unintended consequences, he said, “If we don’t have our people volunteering to go over there, then you’re going to have other countries that are not going to do it and then the epidemic will continue to roar,” he said.

    Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who is on a trip to West Africa to highlight the need for increased international support to combat Ebola, spoke of a need to ensure that returning U.S. health care workers “are treated like conquering heroes and not stigmatized for the tremendous work that they have done.”

    Fauci appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” ABC’s “This Week” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Christie was interviewed on Fox and Power spoke to NBC.

    The post The potential downside of mandatory quarantines appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A deadly disease has been wiping out West Coast starfish for more than a year. One place that has held off the disease the longest is Alaska. Researchers recently traveled there to search for new clues.

    Researchers inspect a Henricia spp. sea star for signs of wasting. About 20 different species of west coast starfish have been found to have symptoms of the disease. Photo by Greg Davis/KCTS9

    Researchers inspect a Henricia spp. sea star for signs of wasting. About 20 different species of west coast starfish have been found to have symptoms of the disease. Photo by Greg Davis/KCTS9

    SITKA, AK — It’s early morning in southeast Alaska. Stars have yet to fade from the night sky. A group of scientists sets out in search of a different kind of star.

    Sea stars, commonly known as starfish, have been vanishing from North America’s Pacific shoreline.

    “Almost everywhere we’ve looked in the last year, we’ve seen catastrophic losses of sea stars,” says Pete Raimondi, a biology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who has been studying an alarming epidemic that’s been killing starfish by the millions.

    Raimondi’s team has been tracking the spread of the disease. They noticed signs of the disease in Sitka in the summer of 2013, but there hasn’t been a mass die-off until now. Scientists believe that warming water or an infectious pathogen, like a bacteria or virus, may be to blame, but no one knows for certain.

    Video by Katie Campbell/Earthfix

    Raimondi works alongside Melissa Miner, a University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher. As waves crash onto the shores of Kayak Island near Sitka, they rope off a patch of shoreline and set to work counting and measuring the creatures that live here.

    Raimondi and Miner’s survey is part of an effort to track the overall health of the Pacific coast’s rocky intertidal habitat. They’ve been conducting surveys at about 150 West Coast sites, many of them for more than 30 years. Their data has provided a critical point of comparison for what normal starfish populations have been in the past. Without similar surveys on the East Coast, it’s been difficult to measure the extent of the wasting there.

    Pete Raimondi, professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, searches for tiny sea stars that hide in the cracks and crevices of rocks on Pirate’s Cove in Alaska. Photo by Greg Davis/KCTS9

    Pete Raimondi, professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, searches for tiny sea stars that hide in the cracks and crevices of rocks on Pirate’s Cove in Alaska. Photo by Greg Davis/KCTS9

    Crouching on the rocks, Raimondi aims his flashlight into the cracks and crevices. He’s hunting for a tiny six-armed star called a leptasterias.

    “These cracks, in previous years, would be full of guys. They’re really empty this year,” Raimondi says.

    Then he finds what he’s looking for — a mottled gray star that even at full-size fits in the palm of his hand. It has whitish lines down it’s arms — one of the early signs of wasting. The symptoms vary depending on the species of starfish, but Raimondi says it usually starts with lesions.

    A sick sunflower star loses arms in Sitka Sound Science Center aquarium. Read more about the sea star epidemic. Photo courtesy of Taylor White

    A sick sunflower star loses arms in Sitka Sound Science Center aquarium. Read more about the sea star epidemic. Photo courtesy of Taylor White

    “They get white lesions, kind of sores. They become necrotic,” he says. “As the tissue dies, they often times will lose arms and then waste away. They disintegrate.”

    Not far away, Miner finds a pisaster ochraceous, or ochre star, that looks even sicker. Two of its five purple arms look ghostly white, like they’ve been dipped in candle wax.

    “This is probably the worst one that we’ve seen here today,” Miner says. “It’s diseased pretty heavily along this arm and it’s also spreading onto this arm.”

    Nearby at the Sitka Sound Science Center, aquarium manager Taylor White recently discovered that starfish in their touch tanks were losing limbs. The aquarium has an open-water system so what’s happening in the tanks is a good indicator of what’s happening in the surrounding marine waters.

    “Every day I come in and I see more and more legs all over the tanks,” White says. “It’s upsetting to see them just flip of a switch start to crawl away from their bodies.”

    White is concerned that the outbreak will wipe out many of Sitka’s starfish.

    “We’ve been telling people to take their children out to low tide to see the starfish before they’re not there anymore,” White says.

    Understanding Wasting Syndrome

    Researchers found many healthy looking ochre stars in the tidepools near Sitka, Alaska, but after leaving Sitka they began receiving reports that starfish there were suddenly becoming sick. Photo by Greg Davis/KCTS9

    Researchers found many healthy looking ochre stars in the tidepools near Sitka, Alaska, but after leaving Sitka they began receiving reports that starfish there were suddenly becoming sick. Photo by Greg Davis/KCTS9

    Sea star wasting syndrome now affects almost every species of West Coast starfish. The plague has hit so hard over the past year that biologists fear some species could go extinct. After analyzing countless samples in the lab, some researchers believe that a virus or bacteria may be the root of the problem.

    But the pattern of the spread of the syndrome has been perplexing. Diseased starfish were first noticed on Washington’s outer coast in June 2013. Over the winter, the disease killed off stars in droves near Vancouver, B.C. and some parts of Puget Sound. Then the syndrome seemed to skip down to California and later returned north to wipe out stars along the Oregon coast and the San Juan Islands.

    “Right now we have no explanation that is consistent with the pattern that we’ve been seeing,” Raimondi says. (Watch a time lapse video of the spread of the disease.)

    Near Sitka, Alaska, researcher Melissa Miner finds an ochre star with whitened diseased arms -- a symptom of sea star wasting disease. Photo by Greg Davis/KCTS9

    Near Sitka, Alaska, researcher Melissa Miner finds an ochre star with whitened diseased arms — a symptom of sea star wasting disease. Photo by Greg Davis/KCTS9

    Marine epidemiologist Drew Harvell has been studying the syndrome from the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Island. She’s been coordinating nationwide research on the outbreaks and says the team has evidence that a pathogen is behind the die-offs.

    “This is what we call a wide host range pathogen. It means that it affects many different species,” Harvell says. “Those are the most dangerous in wildlife disease in terms of a potential risk of extinction.”

    Harvell says the team is testing the hypothesis that warm water could play a role in triggering the outbreaks. Starfish are stressed by higher temperatures, which make them more vulnerable to infection. Harvell’s team has been keeping an eye on the once abundant starfish populations in the San Juans. Cold water here may have helped them withstand the first wave of the disease. But summertime brought warmer waters to the islands and the stars suddenly got sick and the numbers of starfish at their research sites plummeted.


    In recent months temperatures throughout the Pacific have been unusually warm. In August, global sea surface temperatures reached record levels — the average temperature was 1.17 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 20th century average.

    As die-offs continue in Puget Sound and along the coast of Oregon, scientists have been looking north for a sign of hope.

    “The hope is that the waters are cold enough in Alaska, the northern part of their range for many of these species, that they’ll persist there,” Harvell says.

    Scientists hope that Sitka will mark the northern edge of the wasting syndrome. As long as there are still pockets of healthy stars, Raimondi says recovery is possible. That’s because starfish larvae can float in the water for up to 45 days, and ocean currents can carry the babies hundreds of miles from where they were born.

    “That allows there to be replenishment downstream from populations upstream that are not affected,” Raimondi says. “That’s why it’s critical to go north to find whether there are still extant populations that are healthy.”

    Starfish farther north in Juneau seem to be holding strong, Raimondi says. If that continues, parts of Alaska could still serve as a refuge from the disease.

    Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Oct. 14, 2014. A version of this video report will be broadcast on the Oct. 26 episode of PBS NewsHour Weekend.

    The post Can Alaska’s waters be a respite for sick sea stars? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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