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


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)
Loading...

More Channels


Showcase


Channel Catalog


Loading...

Channel Description:

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

older | 1 | .... | 484 | 485 | (Page 486) | 487 | 488 | .... | 1175 | newer

    0 0

    A view of cellular communication towers on March 6, 2014 in Emeryville, California. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    A view of cellular communication towers on March 6, 2014 in Emeryville, California. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is collecting data from thousands of cellphones through high-tech gear deployed on airplanes that mimics communications towers, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

    The newspaper said the hunt for information about criminal suspects is also collecting data from many innocent Americans.

    Citing sources familiar with the operations, the newspaper said the U.S. Marshal’s Service program, which became fully operational in 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports to collect the data. The airports were not identified in the Journal story.

    The planes are equipped with devices that mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting unique registration information. The 2-foot-square devices allow investigators to collect data from thousands of cellphones in a single flight, the Journal reported. The devices collect their identifying information and general location.

    The Justice Department would neither confirm nor deny the existence of such a program to the Journal. An official told the newspaper that discussion of such matters would allow criminal suspects of foreign powers to determine U.S. surveillance capabilities, adding that Justice Department agencies comply with federal law, including by seeking court approval.

    Calling it “a dragnet surveillance program,” Christopher Soghoian, chief technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “It’s inexcusable and it’s likely — to the extent judges are authorizing it — they have no idea of the scale of it.”

    The Justice Department would neither confirm nor deny the existence of such a program to the Journal. The device being used by the Marshals Service identifies itself as having the closest, strongest signal — though it doesn’t — and causes all the cellphones that can detect its signal to send in their unique registration information. Cellphones are programmed to connect automatically to the strongest cell tower signal.

    Phone companies are cut out in the search for suspects. Law enforcement has found that asking a company for cell-tower information to help locate a suspect can be slow and inaccurate. This program allows the government to get that information itself.

    People familiar with the program told the Journal they do get court orders to search for phones, but it isn’t clear whether those orders describe the methods used because the orders are sealed.

    The post Planes mimic cellphone towers to collect data appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    There's no trickle-down effect on the rest of the workforce of having gender quotas for corporate boards, according to research from the NBER. Photo by Flickr user Alex Proimos.

    Gender quotas for corporate boards have no trickle-down effect on women’s representation and the gender pay gap in the rest of the workforce. That’s according to a study of Norway’s boardrooms from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Photo by Flickr user Alex Proimos.

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

    Making Sense/NBER logo

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

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

    The following summary is written by NBER and does not necessarily reflect the views of Making Sen$e.

    – Simone Pathe, Making Sen$e Editor


    After Norway passed a law mandating that public limited-liability corporations create boards with no less than 40 percent of each gender represented, the number and quality of women board directors rose and the pay gap vis-a-vis male board members shrank.

    But 10 years into this experiment, which now is being copied in other countries, there’s not much evidence of a trickle-down effect for other women in the workforce, according to “Breaking the Glass Ceiling? The Effect of Board Quotas on Female Labor Market Outcomes in Norway” (NBER Working Paper No. 20256).

    “We find no evidence of significant differential improvements for women in the post-reform cohort, either in terms of average earnings or likelihood of filling in a top position in a Norwegian business,” write authors Marianne Bertrand, Sandra E. Black, Sissel Jensen and Adriana Lleras-Muney, although large standard errors mean they cannot rule out the possibility.

    At best, the reform may have increased women’s representation in the C-suite of targeted firms, a very small group of individuals. “The representation of women does not improve anywhere else in the [targeted] firms’ income distribution (top 95th percentile, top 90th percentile, top 75th percentile). We also see no improvements on gender wage gaps among top earners and find no evidence of changing work environments in affected firms.”

    Additionally, there is no evidence that the rise in female board members inspired younger women to consider business careers or delay child-rearing in order to further careers. In the authors’ survey of 763 students at the prestigious Norwegian School of Economics, from which many board members have graduated in the past, fewer than 10 percent of women said the reform encouraged them to get a business degree. “If anything, the share of women obtaining business degrees fell after 2004 (except for 2007).” The authors also write that “we see no apparent reduction in the large gender gap in earnings that emerge in the first few years post graduation.”

    “Corporate leaders argued there were not enough qualified women to fill the board positions.”

    Although the World Economic Forum ranks Norway third among nations for opportunities for women, the proposed reform in 2003 met with considerable resistance in the business community. Before it was enacted, corporate leaders argued there were not enough qualified women to fill the board positions.

    Even after the reform, most companies did not do much to increase female participation. By 2005, only 17 percent of board positions were held by women. So the government added sanctions, which took effect in 2008. That’s when the average share of women on the boards of those companies reached 40 percent.

    In addition to increasing the representation of women on boards, the reform improved pay equity within boards. The pay gap with male counterparts on boards narrowed from about 38 percent to 28 to 32 percent. Moreover, despite the business community’s stated fears about decreasing quality, female board members post-reform were actually better-educated than the pre-reform cohort. The study found they had an extra half-year of education and MBA degrees on par with the male board members.

    The reform may have affected too few women to have a large impact. A majority of the 563 public limited-liability companies subject to the law in 2003 went private or otherwise changed their corporate status, leaving only 179 firms subject to the legislation by 2008. Although not all of this decline can be attributed to the legislation, it limits the number of firms and women affected by the law and thus the law’s potential impact.

    “While we do not observe any trickling-down to other top managerial positions in affected firms or elsewhere, it is possible not enough time has passed for such spillovers to occur,” the authors write.

    Laurent Belsie, National Bureau of Economic Research

    The post Don’t count on corporate gender quotas to break the glass ceiling appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hold a news conference at the Pentagon Oct. 30, 2014 in Arlington, Virginia. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hold a news conference at the Pentagon Oct. 30, 2014 in Arlington, Virginia. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    Updated 12:15 p.m. | WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered top-to-bottom changes in the management of the nation’s nuclear arsenal Friday, saying a lack of sustained attention and investment in the force caused it to “slowly back downhill.”

    Speaking to Pentagon reporters, he said the Defense Department will boost spending on the nuclear forces by about 10 percent a year for the next five years — an increase of nearly $10 billion — adding there is no problem on this issue the Pentagon can’t fix.

    “The internal and external reviews I ordered show that a consistent lack of investment and support for our nuclear forces over far too many years has left us with too little margin to cope with mounting stresses,” said Hagel, who was flanked by senior Air Force and Navy officers. “The root cause has been a lack of sustained focus, attention, and resources, resulting in a pervasive sense that a career in the nuclear enterprise offers too few opportunities for growth and advancement.”

    Hagel ordered two reviews in February — one by Pentagon officials and a second by outside experts — as a result of a series of Associated Press stories that revealed lapses in leadership, morale, safety and security at the nation’s three nuclear Air Force bases. The Pentagon studies “found evidence of systematic problems that if not addressed could undermine the safety, security and effectiveness of elements of the force in the future,” Hagel said.

    The good news, Hagel said, “is there has been no nuclear exchange in the world.”

    Acknowledging the years of neglect, which included glaring problems that prompted then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates to fire his top military and civilian Air Force leaders in 2008, Hagel vowed renewed accountability.

    “Previous reviews of our nuclear enterprise lacked clear follow-up mechanisms,” he said. “Recommendations were implemented without the necessary follow-through to assess that they were implemented effectively.” Hagel added that this time, people will be held accountable to ensure the improvements are done.

    Navy Adm. Cecil Haney, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, said the nuclear force has been operating securely.

    “You don’t see the mushroom cloud or that sort of thing. We must continue that,” he told reporters.

    Hagel’s moves, while not dramatic, are designed to get at the core of the problem.

    The reviews concluded that the structure of U.S. nuclear forces is so incoherent that it cannot be properly managed in its current form, and that this problem explains why top-level officials often are unaware of trouble below them. The reviews found a “disconnect” between what nuclear force leaders say and what they deliver to lower-level troops who execute the missions in the field.

    To illustrate the degree of decay in the intercontinental ballistic missile force, the reviews found that maintenance crews had access to only one tool set required to tighten bolts on the warhead end of the Minuteman 3 missile, and that this single tool set was being used by crews at all three ICBM bases in North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. When one crew needed it, they had ask the crew holding it to send it by Federal Express.

    Hagel said Friday the crews now have one at each of the three bases and will soon get two each.

    Among his more significant moves, Hagel authorized the Air Force to put a four-star general in charge of its nuclear forces, according to officials.

    The top Air Force nuclear commander currently is a three-star. Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson is responsible not only for the 450 Minuteman ICBMs but also the nuclear bomber force. Hagel has concluded that a four-star would be able to exert more influence within the Air Force and send a signal to the entire force that the mission is taken seriously, the defense officials said.

    Hagel also OK’d a proposal to upgrade the top nuclear force official at Air Force headquarters in the Pentagon from a two-star general to a three-star.

    The review’s authors, retired Air Force Gen. Larry D. Welch and retired Navy Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., found fault with one of the unique features of life in the nuclear forces. It is called the Personnel Reliability Program, designed to monitor the mental fitness of people to be entrusted with the world’s deadliest weapons.

    Over time, that program has devolved into a burdensome administrative exercise that detracts from the mission, the authors found. Hagel ordered an overhaul.

    Hagel concluded that despite tight Pentagon budgets, billions of dollars more will be needed over the next five years to upgrade equipment. That will include a proposal to replace the Vietnam-era UH-1 Huey helicopter fleet that is part of the security forces at ICBM bases. The Air Force declared them out of date years ago but put available resources into other priorities.

    The Navy, which operates nuclear-armed submarines, has had its own problems, including an exam-cheating scandal this year among nuclear reactor training instructors and has suffered from a shortage of personnel.

    When he ordered the reviews, shortly after the Air Force announced it was investigating an exam-cheating ring at one ICBM base and a related drug investigation implicating missile crew members, Hagel was said to be flabbergasted that such misbehavior could be infecting the force.

    “He said, ‘What is going on here?’” said one senior defense official, who spoke about the review on condition of anonymity.

    Hans Kristensen, a nuclear expert with the Federation of American Scientists, said Thursday that while he had not seen the Hagel reviews or heard what actions Hagel was ordering, he was skeptical that it would make much difference.

    “Throwing money after problems may fix some technical issues but it is unlikely to resolve the dissolution that must come from sitting in a silo hole in the Midwest with missiles on high alert to respond to a nuclear attack that is unlikely to ever come,” Kristensen said.

    A cascade of embarrassments befell the Air Force over the past two years, beginning with an AP story in May 2013 revealing one missile officer’s lament of “rot” inside the force. Another AP story in November disclosed that an independent assessment for the Air Force found signs of “burnout” and elevated levels of personal misconduct among missile launch crews and missile security forces.

    The AP also disclosed last year that four ICBM launch officers were disciplined for violating security rules by opening the blast door to their underground command post while one crew member was asleep.

    Just last week the AP disclosed that the Air Force fired two nuclear commanders and disciplined a third, providing evidence that leadership lapses are continuing even as top Air Force officials attempt to bring stability to the ICBM force.

    After his Pentagon announcement Hagel was expected to fly to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, home of a Minuteman 3 missile unit whose recent setbacks are emblematic of the trouble dogging the broader nuclear force.

    The post ‘Systematic problems’ with management of U.S. nuclear forces, Hagel says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Undocumented immigrants on July 24, 2014 in Mission, Texas.  Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

    Undocumented immigrants on July 24, 2014 in Mission, Texas. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. government will launch a program in December to grant refugee status to some minors under the age of 21 who live in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and whose parents legally reside in the United States.

    U.S. officials say parents can ask authorities free of charge for refugee status for their children in the Central American countries, which are plagued by poverty and vicious gang violence. The program does not apply to minors who have arrived in the U.S. illegally.

    Vice President Joe Biden is set to announce program later Friday at the Inter-American Development Bank, where the presidents of the three Central American countries will present a plan to stem child migration from their countries.

    U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the program’s formal announcement, said that children deemed refugees will be able to work immediately upon arrival in the U.S., opt for permanent residency the following year and for naturalization five years later. They did not say how long the process of receiving refugee status will take.

    An official said the Central American children that meet the requirements will be part of a quota of 4,000 people from Latin America receiving refugee status each fiscal year. The U.S. quota of Latin America refugees currently consists of Cubans and Colombians.

    Applicants who don’t meet the requirements will be evaluated to see if they can be admitted conditionally under a non-permanent migratory status that allows them to work temporarily in the U.S.

    The program aims to be a legal and safe alternative to the long and dangerous journey some Central American children take north to reach the U.S. and to reunite with their parents here. Tens of thousands of unaccompanied child and teenage migrants showed up at the U.S. border earlier this year.


    Biden’s announcement comes as President Barack Obama is poised to act soon to unveil a series of executive actions on immigration that will shield possibly around 5 million immigrants living in the country illegally from deportation, according to advocates in touch with the White House.

    Biden was not expected to announce any additional funds to support the Central American initiative, which will focus on the communities of origin of many of the children heading to the United States, officials said. Central American officials have not provided the expected cost of the plan. Officials said U.S. cooperation with Central America currently amounts to $600 million a year.

    On Wednesday, Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez said the plan includes measures to stimulate economic growth, improve public safety, improve government agencies and provide better education and training opportunities.

    The post U.S. to grant refugee status to some child migrants appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Jon Stewart and Maziar Bahari sat down with senior correspondent Jeffrey Brown to discuss their new film, “Rosewater,” and how humor can be a salve in adverse situations.

    “Rosewater,” the screenwriting and directorial debut of “The Daily Show” host and executive producer Jon Stewart, retells an ordeal endured by journalist Maziar Bahari, who was held captive in Iran after returning to the country to cover the presidential election in 2009.

    Other members of Bahari’s family had also been held captive. Bahari’s father was imprisoned by the Shah of Iran in the 1950s. His sister was held under the Revolutionary Government of the Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s.

    Both Stewart and Bahari told Jeff that humor — satire particularly — can play a powerful role even in dealing with horrible situations.

    “Even in the darkest time, humor is one of those elements that you can retain your sense of humanity with, that can give you some comfort, and act as some defense,” said Stewart said.

    And a nice coda to the story: Bahari and his wife, a lawyer who championed his cause, gave birth to a baby girl days after his release from prison.

    Tune in to tonight’s broadcast of the PBS NewsHour to watch Jeffrey’s conversation with Jon Stewart and Maziar Bahari. You can watch on our Ustream Channel at 6 p.m. EST or check your local listings.

    The post Jon Stewart and Maziar Bahari on the importance of satire in the face of darkness appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    Jon Stewart and Maziar Bahari sat down with senior correspondent Jeffrey Brown to discuss their new film, “Rosewater,” and how it all came about.

    Having delivered pointed political barbs and satire about the media and much more since 1999, Jon Stewart took somewhat of a creative detour two summers ago. The movie “Rosewater” marks the screenwriting and directorial debut of “The Daily Show” host and executive producer, and brings to the screen the story of Stewart’s friend, journalist Maziar Bahari.

    The film — debuting tonight nationwide — depicts Tehran-born Canadian citizen Bahari’s return to Iran in 2009 to interview Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the chief challenger to incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Bahari, who works mostly for the BBC now, was primarily writing for Newsweek at the time he returned to Iran, where he was accused of spying and held captive.

    Tune in to tonight’s broadcast of the PBS NewsHour to watch Jeffrey’s conversation with Jon Stewart and Maziar Bahari. You can watch on our Ustream Channel at 6 p.m. EST or check your local listings.

    The post How ‘Rosewater’ became Jon Stewart’s directorial debut appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Health Insurers Balk At Obamacare Concessions Over Concern On Rising RiskWASHINGTON (AP) — Many of the 7 million consumers who got insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law will see their premiums rise next year unless they switch to another plan, independent analysts said as the government released details Friday.

    The Health and Human Services department released a massive computer file of 2015 premiums one day ahead of the start of open enrollment. Those numbers will take time to crunch.

    Overall, they are expected to show that premiums for a type of low-price plan that the government uses to set subsidies for consumers will cost roughly the same as this year, about $330 a month. Many people will pay much less after subsidies, about 25 percent of the cost, which will be good news for first-time customers.

    But there is a catch if you are already a customer: Your plan may no longer be the lost-cost benchmark in your community. In that case, you’ll pay more unless you switch.

    “Just because you enrolled in a low-cost plan this year is no guarantee that your plan will also be low-cost next year,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. He analyzed a 48-city sample of 2015 premiums from data available earlier this week.

    “Last year’s low cost plans will experience premium increases, meaning the majority of consumers will experience cost increases if they re-enroll in the same plan,” said Caroline Pearson of Avalere Health, a private market analysis firm.

    The complications are due to the ups and downs of the market, and to cost-saving provisions written into the law.

    The Affordable Care Act offers subsidized private health insurance to people who don’t have access to coverage on the job. HealthCare.gov and state insurance markets are launching their second annual sign-up season, which runs through Feb. 15. This year, 85 percent of their customers received tax credits to subsidize their premiums.

    Those existing customers will be renewing coverage for the first time. Some could face sticker shock.

    The following example uses actual premiums from HealthCare.gov, and was provided the Kaiser Foundation:

    Take a hypothetical 40-year-old retail salesperson in Miami making $20,000 a year. This year, she signed up for the benchmark low-cost plan in her area, the “Coventry $10 Copay.” The full premium was $270 a month. Her government tax credit covered $184 of that, so her share was $86 a month.

    For 2015, Coventry is no longer the benchmark plan. Instead, it’s the “Molina Silver HMO,” with a monthly premium of $274. If the consumer switches to Molina for 2015, the government will pay $191 and her share will be $83.

    But if she wants to stay with Coventry, she’ll see a 40 percent increase.

    That’s because Coventry increased its premium to $311 for 2015. And also, the federal share will be capped at $191 — what the government would pay for the benchmark Molina plan.

    The consumer would be on the hook for $120 a month.

    If she does nothing between now and the end of the year, she might not discover the price hike until January, when her Coventry plan would be automatically renewed.

    Part of the reason for such shifts is that the health care law was designed like a voucher system.

    You get a tax credit for health insurance based on your income and on the premium for the benchmark plan in your area, called the “second-lowest-cost silver plan.” Plans are offered in four “metal levels” of coverage: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. The benchmark silver plan can change every year based on bids submitted by insurers.

    If you pick a higher-cost plan, or if you stay in a plan that has lost its benchmark status, you are responsible for the entire difference in premiums.

    The idea was to create incentives that would force insurers to compete and keep premiums low.

    Competition is helping to drive down the price of the benchmarks, said Levitt, which is good for the federal budget. “But competition is also messy, particularly for consumers.”

    The administration has acknowledged the potential. Asked to comment on Kaiser’s 48-city analysis, spokesman Aaron Albright released this statement: “Based on a preliminary analysis, a majority of current marketplace consumers could save money on their premiums if they come back and shop for a plan in the same metal level.”

    The post New health care customers may see hike in premiums appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Getty

    Getty

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Same-sex couples seeking the right to marry are asking the Supreme Court to settle the issue of gay marriage nationwide.

    Appeals being filed Friday urge the justices to review last week’s lower court ruling that upheld anti-gay marriage laws in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

    The ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, was the first appellate ruling to side with states seeking to preserve gay marriage bans since the Supreme Court struck down part of a federal anti-gay marriage law last year.

    Last month, the justices rejected appeals from five states of rulings favoring same-sex couples, but that was before the recent ruling created a division among lower courts.

    Same-sex couples can marry in 32 states, parts of Kansas and Missouri, and the District of Columbia.

    The Kentucky and Michigan cases involve the right of sex-same couples to marry. The Ohio appeal focuses on the state’s refusal to recognize out-of-state gay marriages because of its own ban, while the Tennessee case is narrowly focused on the rights of three same-sex couples.

    In asking the Supreme Court to reverse the 6th circuit, the plaintiffs in Ohio pressed the argument that states should be forced to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The 6th circuit ruling “robs married same-sex spouses and their children of dignity and legal respect from cradle to grave,” Cincinnati attorney Al Gerhardstein wrote.

    Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, said lawyers for the state would review the appeal. “The Ohio Attorney General’s Office had previously stated that it did not anticipate opposing a Supreme Court review of the same-sex marriage issue,” Tierney said.

    The speed with which the appeals are being filed — eight days after the ruling — indicates the court could take up and decide the issue this term, by the end of June.

    The states have a month to respond. If they don’t seek extra time, the gay marriages cases should be before the justices for their first private conference in 2015, on January 9. If the court decides then to hear the cases, there should be time to schedule arguments in late April. The justices would have two months to write their opinions.

    The post Same-sex couples ask Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage nationwide appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

     Photo by Hill Street Studios/Blend Images via Getty.

    Photo by Hill Street Studios/Blend Images via Getty.

    Coffee consumption may help offset some of obesity’s negative side effects, according to a new study published in the journal Pharmaceutical Research.

    Researchers at the University of Georgia conducted two sets of experiments to determine the preventive and therapeutic effects of chlorogenic acid, or CGA, a chemical compound found in coffee. In the first experiment, a group of mice was fed a high fat diet while receiving twice-daily injections of CGA. In the second experiment, a group of already obese mice was treated with CGA injections. The researchers found that CGA significantly reduced obesity-related insulin resistance and liver steatosis, or accumulation of fat in the liver, in both sets of mice. While the body weight of the obese mice that were treated with CGA did not change, the CGA injections prevented the onset of obesity in the mice that received them while consuming a high fat diet.

    Before you run out the door to your local Starbucks, it is worth noting that the mice in both experiments received a much larger dose of CGA than a human could absorb by drinking copious amounts of coffee. Diet and exercise are still the most effective treatment for obesity and its accompanying health risks. However, the researchers do believe CGA could be used to supplement treatment for those at risk. “Our results suggest that drinking coffee is beneficial in maintaining metabolic homeostasis when on a high fat diet,” the study concluded.

    The post Could coffee help prevent obesity’s negative side effects? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0
  • 11/14/14--13:40: Senior Partnerships Producer
  • Department: Editorial, NewsHour Productions, LLC

    Supervisor:  Senior Vice President and Executive Producer

    Date:  November 2014

    Status: Full-Time, Exempt

     

    Overall Job Objectives

    Manage and plan production and delivery of high quality, innovative content from various partner organizations for the NewsHour Productions, LLC – PBS NewsHour in collaboration with executive producer and senior production team. Reports to Senior Vice President and Executive Producer.

    Principal Responsibilities

    • Manage, plan, and coordinate production and delivery of high quality content produced in partnership with third party outlets for the NewsHour and/or repurposed for the NewsHour.
      • Coordinate story development, script writing, script editing, video production, management and communication of deadlines, content deliverables, promotion, social media and broadcast roll out plans.
      • Participate in daily editorial meetings, providing and developing stories, products and projects with the partners especially, from ideas through execution and delivery.
      • Plan and deliver creative, high quality content to meet deadlines, news calendar and planning needs.
      • Will work from pitch through development, execution and delivery of content for broadcast and digital platforms.
      • Participate in broadcast and digital planning and development.
      • Hold high standards for quality of delivered content, meet strict deadlines and ensure the growth, development, health and effectiveness of such valuable partnerships.
    • Act as main point of contact for third party outlets working with NewsHour online and on air, reporting directly to executive producer and in coordination with other senior level staff.
    • Maintain, grow and develop critical partnership relationships. Partners can include other public broadcasting stations and programs, journalism schools, non-profit organizations, documentary makers and other traditional and new media outlets.
    • Act as senior level member of staff.
      • Participate in planning and day-to-day management of staff and resources.
      • Communicate effectively and fill in at other senior level roles as needed.
    • Participate in special projects and perform additional duties as assigned.

    Qualifications

    • Demonstrated knowledge in national and international news production management for daily, 24/7 or weekly television and digital outlets, including breaking news and feature and documentary story telling.
    • Demonstrated knowledge in the field and in studio production of news, preferably for a daily, 24/7 or weekly outlet.
    • Demonstrated knowledge of and ability to edit broadcast scripts and produce digital content.
    • Exceptional communication skills, including both verbal and writing skills, and managing information, workflow and communication with multiple stakeholders.
    • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.  Ability to interact with a wide variety of people using diplomacy, tact and discretion.
    • Demonstrated ability to work effectively both independently and in a team environment.
    • Demonstrated ability to effectively organize, lead, and supervise others in an atmosphere of multiple projects, shifting priorities, and deadline pressures.
    • Demonstrated understanding and application of computer technology to efficiently accomplish work, using Microsoft Office programs, email, and the Internet.

    Education and Experience

    • Bachelor’s Degree in related field or equivalent combination of education and experience.
    • Minimum 8 years of progressively responsible experience with a national level news broadcasting and/or digital platform. Supervisory experience is preferred.
    • Experience must include working with third-parties to deliver broadcast and/or digital content.

    For consideration, please send letter of interest, salary requirements, and resume to hr@weta.org or visit our website at www.weta.org for the full job description and on-line application.

    WETA is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

    The post Senior Partnerships Producer appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0
  • 11/14/14--13:47: Senior Content Producer
  • Department: Editorial, NewsHour Productions, LLC

    Supervisor:  Senior Vice President and Executive Producer

    Date:  November 2014

    Status: Full-Time, Exempt

    Overall Job Objectives

    Manage, plan and produce news and feature content for nightly broadcast and digital associated platforms of The NewsHour Productions, LLC – PBS NewsHour in collaboration with executive producer and senior management team. Reports to Senior Vice President and Executive Producer.

    Principal Responsibilities

    • Manage, plan and produce news and feature content for nightly broadcast and digital associated platforms.
      • Participate in daily editorial meetings, providing and developing stories, products and projects from ideas through execution, focusing especially on production from the field, in the US and internationally.
      • Plan and deliver creative, high quality content to meet strict deadlines, news calendar and planning needs.
      • Develop and supervise production, edit scripts.
      • Supervise, mentor, and train freelance, third party and staff contributors from pitch through development, execution and delivery of best possible products.
    • Manage in coordination with executive producer and other senior level staff, relationships with outside contributors and third party groups to grow and enhance NewsHour content and development.
    • Act as member of senior staff.
      • Participate in planning and day-to-day management of staff and resources..
      • Communicate effectively and fill in at other senior level roles as needed.
    • Participate in special projects and perform additional duties as assigned.

    Qualifications

    • Demonstrated knowledge in national and international news production management for daily, 24/7 or weekly television and digital outlets, including breaking news and feature story telling.
    • Demonstrated knowledge in the field and in studio production of news, preferably for a daily, 24/7 or weekly outlet.
    • Exceptional creative, verbal and writing skills.
    • Knowledge of and ability to use content management systems and web publishing.
    • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.  Ability to interact with a wide variety of people using diplomacy, tact and discretion.
    • Demonstrated ability to work effectively both independently and in a team environment.
    • Demonstrated ability to effectively organize, lead, and supervise others in an atmosphere of multiple projects, shifting priorities, and deadline pressures.
    • Demonstrated understanding and application of computer technology to efficiently accomplish work, using Microsoft Office programs, email, and the Internet.

    Education and Experience

    • Bachelor’s Degree in related field or equivalent combination of education and experience.
    • Minimum 10 years of progressively responsible experience with a national level news broadcasting and/or digital platform.  Supervisory experience is preferred.

    The post Senior Content Producer appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    “Jelly! Jelly!” scientists cried out excitedly. One jellyfish was tangled in their net as they pulled it out of the Arctic sea ice.

    Scientists traveled to Barrow, Alaska to crack open the ice, looking for the tiniest members of the Arctic food chain: sea ice algae. The microscopic organism hides in the ice during the winter. When the spring sun warms up the ice, the sea algae blooms and trickles into the water.

    They pull sea creatures out of the water, testing them to find out which animals feed on the algae. That jellyfish is a hopeful confirmation of Craig Aumack‘s idea: Algae are the base of all Arctic marine life.

    “It was like ‘Wow, are jellyfish even adapted to swim so close to the bottom and drag their oral tentacles because they’re feeding on the algae that collect along the bottom during this season?’” said Aumack, a post-doctoral researcher at Columbia University.

    The tiny sea algae may form the base of the food chain for animals from jellyfish to polar bears. But dwindling snowfall could mean earlier blooms for the algae, and big changes for the Arctic animals that feed on them. Miles O’Brien has more on this story for the National Science Foundation series “Science Nation.”*

    *For the record, the National Science Foundation is also an underwriter of the NewsHour.

    The post Researchers crack open ice to find tiniest Arctic creatures appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Photo by Getty Images

    Photo by Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a path devised by the Obama administration that allows religious nonprofit groups to avoid paying for contraception under the president’s health care law.

    In a 3-0 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a challenge by the groups, which claimed that the accommodation still imposes a substantial burden on their expression of religion.

    The Affordable Care Act requires that women covered by group health plans be able to acquire Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods at no additional cost. In response to an outcry from religious groups, the government devised the accommodation, but the groups continued to oppose the regulations.

    To be eligible for the accommodation, a religious organization must certify to its insurance company that it opposes coverage for contraceptives and that it operates as a nonprofit religious organization.

    The religious groups argued that the notice to insurance companies requesting the accommodation is a trigger that will result in the government hijacking their health plans and using them as conduits for providing contraceptive coverage to their employees and students.

    The appeals court said that all the religious groups must do to opt out is to “express what they believe and seek what they want” via a letter or two-page form.The appeals court said that all the religious groups must do to opt out is to “express what they believe and seek what they want” via a letter or two-page form.

    “That bit of paperwork is more straight-forward and minimal than many that are staples of nonprofit organizations’ compliance with law in the modern administrative state,” wrote appeals judge Cornelia Pillard, who was nominated by President Barack Obama.

    “Religious nonprofits that opt out are excused from playing any role in the provision of contraceptive services, and they remain free to condemn contraception in the clearest terms,” she added.

    The contraceptive coverage requirement was adopted to “promote women’s equal access to health care appropriate to their needs,” the ruling stated. That need in turn “serves women’s health, the health of children, and women’s equal enjoyment of their right to personal autonomy without unwanted pregnancy.”

    Among the organizations challenging the accommodation are the religious group Priests For Life and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

    “The court is wrong, and we will not obey the mandate,” said Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests For Life.

    The other judges in the case were Judith Rogers, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, and Robert Wilkins, an Obama appointee.

    Friday’s decision follows a Supreme Court ruling that some companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptive requirement in Obama’s health care law. The justices left in place lower court rulings in favor of businesses that object to covering all methods of government-approved contraception. The Supreme Court ruling marks the first time the high court has declared that businesses can hold religious views under federal law.

    The post Obamacare contraception loophole for religious groups is not too restrictive, court rules appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    rosewater

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Finally tonight:  Jon Stewart finds humor and humanity in a most unlikely place and in a very new way.

    Jeffrey Brown is back with a look at the new film “Rosewater.”

    ACTOR: You must not just take his blood. You must take his hope

    JEFFREY BROWN: In 2009, Maziar Bahari was held for 118 days in solitary confinement in a Tehran prison, a very real ordeal dramatized in the new film “Rosewater.”

    Bahari was a Canadian citizen who’d returned to his native Iran as a journalist working for Western media organizations, his assignment, to cover a momentous election that would end in mass demonstrations and mass arrests, after reformer Mir Hossein Mousavi’s challenge to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ended in a defeat widely condemned and discredited as fraudulent.

    The film shows how Bahari, played by actor Gael Garcia Bernal, met and interviewed protagonists on both sides, before being arrested and charged as a spy. He then endures interrogation by a man known only as Rosewater.

    One bit of absurdist evidence, an actual appearance in a Tehran cafe that Bahari had made on the Comedy Central program “The Daily Show.”

    MAN: What do I have in common with you?

    MAN: Who is the number one enemy of the United States?

    MAN: Al-Qaida.

    MAN: Al-Qaida is also the number one enemy of Iran.

    JON STEWART, “Rosewater”: And then you are going to back up and just go out of frame that way.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That connection and the courage and even humor shown by Bahari even in the face of torture drew the real-life host of “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart, to the story, and to his first foray into directing a feature film.

    JON STEWART: Here’s what I want to accomplish right now.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The two would become good friends and then collaborators. They told me about it when we met earlier this week at the Newseum in Washington.

    JON STEWART: It was compelling in the generational aspects of it, in his family, the fact that his father had suffered a similar fate under the shah. His sister had suffered it under Khomeini. He had suffered under Khamenei.

    Here are — these are regimes that are some Western-allied, some enemies of the West, all using authority to suppress their people and building these apparatuses.

    MAZIAR BAHARI, “Rosewater”: When they arrested me, the questions were not about what I was doing. It was, you have to tell us, how did you put this politician in touch with the British Embassy? How did you put this politician in touch with the CIA?

    JON STEWART: Right.

    MAZIAR BAHARI: And I didn’t know what to say. So in the absence of evidence to implicate me, they brought forward this ridiculous evidence, including my appearance on “The Daily Show.”

    JON STEWART: If someone wants to weaponize something innocuous, they’re going to do it, whether it’s the — you know, something banal that you have given them or something else.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s absurd, right?

    JON STEWART: The interrogator…

    MAZIAR BAHARI: It was as if they had read Kafka, and they thought it’s a good manual to have — run a regime like that. And then they thought, it’s not absurd enough, so let’s just add a little bit of Monty Python to Kafka.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In his more familiar day job, of course, Jon Stewart tackles all kinds of topical issues. But the humor is very much in your face. It’s a comedy show, after all.

    JON STEWART: The Democrats got taken out back and Old Yellered by the American electorate.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: He took three months off from “The Daily Show” to shoot his film, most of it in Jordan, including in a real prison.

    Was it hard for you to play it straight?

    JON STEWART: No, because the humor of it, so much of the humor in it is what appealed to me, Maziar’s ability to — you know, in some ways, he’s the canary in the coal mine for things that I believe, that even in the darkest time, humor is one of those elements that is — that you can retain your sense of humanity with.

    It can give you some comfort and act as some defense. There’s sometimes a misperception, I think, of satire, that it is clownish, in the sense of — no disrespect to clowns, but that it’s baggy pants farce. It’s not. It’s a way of expressing ideas and synthesize information that you truly believe in just using the tools of satire.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In the film, we see Bahari feeling he’d been forgotten and abandoned, not knowing that his family, employers, and political figures were waging a strong public campaign to get him released.

    Just days after that finally happened, his wife gave birth to their first child. He would write about it all in a memoir titled “Then They Came For Me.”

    MAZIAR BAHARI: In the film, we see that I humanize my interrogator who is brutalizing me.

    JON STEWART: Who is also not presented as a monster.

    MAZIAR BAHARI: Exactly, and not because of altruistic reasons, because of very selfish reasons, because, if I regard him as a monster, I cannot defeat him.

    So, when I’m — like many people who live in the West, when I’m stuck in the subway or the Metro in D.C. and it’s hot and it’s crowded, I say, oh, it’s torture. But then, coming through that ordeal, I know that’s not torture.

    JON STEWART: He’s not saying it’s pleasant.

    MAZIAR BAHARI: I’m not saying pleasant, but it’s not torture.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s not torture.

    MAZIAR BAHARI: Exactly.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I read in another interview you did, you said:  I consider “The Daily Show” and this movie a conversation that we are having with the culture and with people.

    JON STEWART: Yes, that’s right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What’s the conversation? Or what’s the conversation about?

    JON STEWART: Well, that — the conversation is about many different things.

    The conversation is about the space between the public face of our leaders vs. the private strategies that produce that face, the facade that’s placed over it. The conversation is about corruption, whether it comes to governance or whether it comes to media. The conversation is about, you know, what is activism?

    This particular conversation is about the cost of oppression, and not just to Maziar, but to all the journalists and bloggers and activists who are being held.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s interesting. You spend a lot of time lampooning journalists on your show, and then you made a film where you’re really honoring a journalist.

    JON STEWART: Right, right, which seems completely logical.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It does?

    JON STEWART: Well, absolutely, because the satire comes from a place of urging. It comes from a place of an ideal. It’s — the humor only works as a counterpoint to seeing something that you feel is not at the level where you know it could be, of opportunity squandered.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And you now devote your life to press freedom issues?

    MAZIAR BAHARI: Parts of my life.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes?

    MAZIAR BAHARI: We have…

    JON STEWART: He also goes out to eat some.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JON STEWART: He does…

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes? Yes?

    MAZIAR BAHARI: I am one of the privileged people who work for the Western media. People knew my name.

    Many of my friends and colleagues in Iran and in different countries, they do not have that international profile. So I have the responsibility to talk on their behalf and try to raise their profile.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And you have gone back to your day job.

    JON STEWART: Still have my parking space, yes. So, that’s…

    JEFFREY BROWN: Still have your parking space.

    JON STEWART: Yes, that’s right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And are you going to keep that? Does this…

    JON STEWART: Why? What did you hear about my parking space?

    (LAUGHTER)

    JON STEWART: Am I losing that?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Has this changed your thinking about your own future, about what you would like to do?

    JON STEWART: I think it just, again, reinforces the idea of it as a longer journey, that it’s not so much — you know, it’s continuing to work on projects that I’m interested in and believe something is important to talk about with.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Jon Stewart, Maziar Bahari, thank you.

    JON STEWART: Thank you so much.

    MAZIAR BAHARI: Thank you so much.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: We have more of Jeff’s interview, including Jon Stewart’s take on the importance of satire in his storytelling and how he came to direct “Rosewater.”  Find those clips on Art Beat.

    The post In ‘Rosewater,’ remembering humor and humanity after torture appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    The U.S. Department of Energy will spend $425 million to research and construct supercomputers, such as NASA’s “Discover” machine seen here. Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    The U.S. government wants to take back the crown for world’s fastest supercomputer, and they’re willing to spend the money to do it — twice.

    The Department of Energy announced a $425 million budget Friday that will be allocated towards research and construction of supercomputers. A $325 million deal with IBM and Nvidia will see the creation of two new supercomputers that would each claim the title of fastest in the world; with $100 million going towards the research into the future of supercomputer science.

    The two supercomputers, “Sierra” and “Summit,” will be built to work at almost double and triple the speed, respectively, of China’s Tianhe-2 supercomputer. Sierra, which will be used for nuclear weapons simulations, will clock in at 100 petaflops, while Summit, which will be stationed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee for civilian research, will perform at 150 petaflops. Tianhe-2, currently the world’ fastest, operates at 55 petaflops.

    The rest of the budget will go towards research into “extreme scale supercomputing” technology, that aims to prepare for future supercomputer construction. The program, named FastForward2, looks to develop chips, memory and other technology that would allow the next generation of machines to operate at more than 20 to 40 times faster than today’s models.

    “High-performance computing is an essential component of the science and technology portfolio required to maintain U.S. competitiveness and ensure our economic and national security,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said in a release. “DOE and its National Labs have always been at the forefront of HPC and we expect that critical supercomputing investments like CORAL and FastForward 2 will again lead to transformational advancements in basic science, national defense, environmental and energy research that rely on simulations of complex physical systems and analysis of massive amounts of data.”

    The post U.S. plans to build world’s fastest supercomputers with $425 million appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...
    0 0

    shieldsbrooks

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama strikes a climate change deal, with talk of executive action on immigration, as Congress returns to take on Keystone.

    To analyze it all, Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    And, Mark, since you look like you’re climbing out of the banks of Charles River behind you in Boston, I will start with you.

    (LAUGHTER)

    HARI SREENIVASAN: This deal the — the climate deal that was struck at the Asian summit with the president and the Chinese president, Xi, big deal?

    MARK SHIELDS: I think it’s a big deal.

    Let’s first understand you don’t cobble together something of this significance on the spot or over the weekend. They have been working on it for months, and I think credit, or blame, I guess, in some quarters has to be to the president, John Kerry, the secretary of state, to John Podesta, for whom it’s been a priority at the White House.

    But I think it’s significance because one of the principal arguments against moving on carbon emissions has been that the United States, to act unilaterally, that would let China off the hook. And now with the United States and China, the two biggest polluters globally, moving together, it puts pressure. It blows the cover of those other countries. It puts pressure on India and other places.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: David?

    DAVID BROOKS: I hope so.

    Well, first, it’s a big deal just because we reached a major agreement with China. U.S.-China relations have been deteriorating, not because of anything the U.S. has done or Barack Obama has done, because of what China has done. They have gotten more aggressive on all sorts of military fronts, in the oceans.

    And there was some danger that the U.S. and China could just have a much more hostile relationship. So, it’s good to see some positive agreement. It’s good to see goals. And that’s what sad.

    I guess my question is, what exactly — what’s changing? China promised in 15 years to — or a little more than 15 years to set some targets, no interim targets, just some big target a chunk of time away from now. We have agreed to set targets, but what policies are actually going to change? Will there be a carbon tax? How aggressively will China move to get away from coal toward oil and natural gas or other cleaner forms?

    It’s hard to know. But at least they got a deal and at least they set a vision. So, it’s more like a precedent, but it’s sort of hollow in the middle.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. So, because of those lack of targets, do you think that Congress will be easier on them?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, the targets are there. What’s not there is the means to reach the targets.

    And so it depends what the means are. And so will we get a big global climate deal? Well, clearly, it makes more likely. The big global climate deal was pretty much dead. But when you got — as Mark said, when the two largest polluters are on board, that at least creates a little life. Will Congress ratify that? No way. We’re not going to do that.

    And so we’re not going to get a big global climate treaty. But at least, nation by nation, you can begin to see China actually moving toward cleaner forms of energy, which they have to do both for economic reasons, but also so they can breathe in their cities.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Mark, do you think he’s going to get pushback in Congress for this?

    MARK SHIELDS: I think there will be pushback in Congress. There’s no question, especially with Jim Inhofe, the new chairman of the Environmental Committee in the Senate, who is essentially an archfoe and a denier on climate change.

    But I think that — two things. China is under the gun. I mean, they’re under the gun at home, as David put, on their own air. They had to close down the industrial plants 400 miles away to clean up the air just so they could have the economic — the Asian economic conference there in Beijing. That’s how bad it is.

    And let’s be very blunt about it. They’re going to be competing now on alternative energy, which I think, as the president has pointed out, is good for the United States as well. If there’s a competition in that area, it can only be good for humankind.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.

    Shifting gears about energy, let’s talk about the Keystone XL pipeline. The House voted on it today. It’s likely to get to the Senate floor, at least on Tuesday. Is this purely political? I mean, it was motivated in part by the race that is happening in Louisiana with Mary Landrieu and her competitor.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, it’s purely political in the timing. There’s nothing wrong with politics. It’s interest people — interest groups trying to get their interests advanced.

    And so the timing is political. I happen to think the president’s opposition is purely political. There is a big State Department series of reports, gigantic reports on the effect of the Keystone pipeline. They found, economically, it would create thousands of jobs, not huge amounts of job, but thousands of jobs. The economic damage, they found, would be none.

    The greenhouse gas emissions, that oil is going to be pumped or not pumped depending on the price of crude, not depending on whether we have a pipeline. It’s either going to be pumped and sent through hundreds of thousands of train cars or be sent in a more environmentally friendly way under the ground.

    And so the environmental rationale for the pipeline seems to be strong. The economic rationale is not huge, but it’s significant. And so if you follow the science, if you follow the research, the case for the pipeline is overwhelming. The president is not doing it to secure his left base, because it’s a good a fund-raising tool for a lot of people. Not for very good reasons.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.

    Mark?

    MARK SHIELDS: This has to be the most thoroughly researched, meticulously studied idea, this pipeline, in the history of humankind.

    It’s been slow-walked to the point of a standstill. And now it’s going to come to a vote finally in the Senate because Mary Landrieu, who is in a runoff for her Senate seat and an underdog in Louisiana December 6, has pushed it and is going to demonstrate her own independence from the White House and her clout or leadership or however you want to put it.

    And the senators who want to vote against it will get a chance to vote against it. And people who want to vote for it will vote for it. And I think the president will veto it. And I think that will be the end of it, other than it won’t be built, and it will not be a major issue in the 2016 campaign.

    But I do think that the argument basically politically is on the side of those who want to build it.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.

    Something that will likely show up in the 2016 campaign is immigration. The president has said he plans to use an exclusive order to deal with immigration. We don’t know exactly what day that will show up. But do you think that there’s a chance for comprehensive immigration reform without an executive order, or does an executive order actually decrease those chances, David?

    DAVID BROOKS: I think it decreases.

    I support president’s the position on the policy, on the substance of it. A lot of what it does is going to keep families together. And so, on the substance of it, I think it’s fine. On the politics of it, on the effect on our country, I think it’s just a terrible, terrible idea, sort of a Ted Cruz stick in the eye of any chance we would have bipartisanship.

    The Republicans were saying reasonable things after their victory:  We want to start out small. Let’s try to pass some legislation on things where we agree on.

    And they weren’t major pieces of legislation, but they were pieces. It would be nice to pass a law. We haven’t passed a significant piece of legislation in this country in like four years. It would be nice to do something just to get something done.

    I think this very aggressive way the president has led with a very difficult issue makes that much less likely. Second, I do think it takes immigration reform much less likely over the next five or 10 years. I think the Republicans were eventually going to have to get around to it. Just — they just know eventually they have to get around to passing this thing. That makes it much less likely.

    And then, finally, I just think it’s constitutional overreach. Basically, five million people, maybe six million people are going to be affected by this. I think it just, constitutionally, for the sake of our system, when you have something that major, redefining the status of five million or six million people, I think it should go through the legislative process. I’m not a constitutional lawyer. I don’t know the effect of that.

    But I just think it’s a major change in American policy, and it would be nice to go through Congress, rather than just by the signature of a pen.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Mark?

    MARK SHIELDS: I think it’s always nicer to go through Congress.

    I would just point out that, after the 2012 election, Republicans went through a period of deep introspection. They concluded as a party that they had to do something on this issue, that they had — were seen as anti-immigrant, not only to Latinos, but also to Asians and other minorities in this country.

    And so they didn’t do anything about it. They — some Republicans joined the 68-32 majority in the Senate on June 27, 2013, to pass a really comprehensive immigration reform bill. And John Boehner, the speaker of the House, had negotiations with the president, couldn’t bring it up for a vote, couldn’t bring it up for a vote. It had the votes to pass in the House, but it wouldn’t pass with a majority of Republicans.

    The House voted 54 times to repeal Obamacare, 54 times, but they couldn’t vote once on immigration. Obamacare was never going to go anywhere in the Senate, the repeal of it, that is. And this is something that could have become law.

    And the president had told the speaker that — in private conversation, that he was going to act. He didn’t act before election because of, quite frankly, Democratic senators in red states were concerned about it. But he’s not the first president to do it.

    Ronald Wilson Reagan in 1987 unilaterally moved to protect 200,000 Nicaraguans from returning to the Sandinista regime. So — and so did President Kennedy and President Johnson and President Clinton and President Bush.

    So, you know, I think it wasn’t going to happen anyway. I agree with David. It would be nice to have harmony, but when the principal priority of your opposition is to repeal the signature legislation of your administration, Obamacare, you know, I think the hopes for that are probably pretty unrealistic.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Mark, what about the fact that, if this comes through an executive action, that it could be rescinded by the next president?

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes. And that’s the key point.

    I mean, any time either side advocates executive action — Republicans did it under President Bush, and Democrats are certainly doing it under President Obama — it’s with the understanding that, A, you’re expanding executive power, and that — usually at the cost of the legislative power and regular order.

    But you’re also risking it’s just going to be repealed. But I think, quite frankly — and I think David would agree — that it’s unlikely whoever is elected in 2016 would set about repealing that law — that act.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: David, the topics that we’re all talking about in the context of the results from the midterm elections that just happened, do you see a general pattern here? Is this part of a more concerted strategy from the White House, saying, here’s the two years that we have got left, here’s what Congress looks like, here’s what we can do, and let’s just start going out and doing it?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes.

    Well, there are a couple ways to interpret that, and I suspect all these things are part of the thinking. One is, there’s a lot of stuff we want to do. We held back just for political relationships. As you say, let’s just get it done. We believe in this. Let’s do it.

    The second, more cynical strategy is the idea that the Republicans have a strong incentive to get stuff done. Anybody who wins elections, they want to pass stuff. And if you can obstruct, it seems you can hurt them. The Republicans obstructed President Obama when he won. Now President Obama is going to obstruct the Republicans.

    And that’s a tit for tat. And the problem is, we’re stuck with that. We’re stuck with World War I, essentially, with everybody obstructing the other.

    The third fact factor here is money. The — my newspaper has a story on the powerful — the $300 million the immigration groups have pumped into some of the immigration reform. The Keystone pipeline is a big fund-raiser. And so every politician is thinking about, how do we keep the donor base going? And I wouldn’t say that’s the major element here, but that is certainly an element here.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.

    Mark, we have got about 30 seconds.

    MARK SHIELDS: I think there’s no question that the tension in immigration is between the Republicans in the Senate and Republicans in the House.

    Mitch McConnell’s on record saying, under no circumstances will we close the — shut down the federal government, will we default on the federal debt, on the national debt. The speaker, with a — as he calls them, 16 knuckleheads in his caucus, probably more after the election, is in a position where he says, we can’t take anything off the table.

    And he has got members now talking about impeachment. So, that — and there’s no question there’s been mischief created in the Republican ranks by the White House.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, “New York Times” columnist David Brooks, thank so much.

    The post Shields and Brooks on the China carbon deal, Obama’s immigration action appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    BIG GAMBLE_Monitor

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Casinos in the U.S. rack up billions of dollars in profits each year. But as they pop up in more states and expand in places like New England, classic gambling spots suffer, case in point, Atlantic City.

    Our economics correspondent Paul Solman has the story, part of his ongoing reporting Making Sense of financial news.

    MAN: I got laid off at Showboat August 31 — 28 years.

    MAN: We’re actually fighting for our lives out here.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Workers in Atlantic City, New Jersey, protesting a threatened slash in pay and benefits at the latest casino under siege here, the Trump Taj Mahal.

    What will you do if the Taj closes down?

    WOMAN: I don’t know. I don’t have an idea, because no jobs. So, what do I do?

    PAUL SOLMAN: Four casinos closed already this year, thousands unemployed, and now the Taj, unless its 3,000 or so workers and the city make concessions.

    Hotel union president Bob McDevitt.

    C. ROBERT MCDEVITT, President, UNITE-HERE Local54: The average wage is about $12 an hour. What makes these middle-class jobs is the health care and the — and the retirement plan. And that’s part of the original legislation that brought gambling to Atlantic City.

    PAUL SOLMAN: It was an economic strategy forged to restore the city to its heydays, says Mayor Don Guardian.

    MAYOR DON GUARDIAN, Atlantic City: Atlantic city’s been around for 160 years, it’s been a destination.

    PAUL SOLMAN: First as a health spa, with rolling chairs to ferry the feeble.

    DON GUARDIAN: Then we built beautiful Victorian hotels to attract the rich people from Philadelphia and New York, and that worked for about 40 years.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Into the 20th century, that is.

    DON GUARDIAN: Then we decided to ignore prohibition. That was very successful.

    PAUL SOLMAN: So successful that when the game of “Monopoly” was popularized in the 1930s, its board was laid out as Atlantic City.

    DON GUARDIAN: And this is Park Place and we’re walking right up on our boardwalk now.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Further inland, the still upscale Marven Gardens, the still downscale Mediterranean Avenue. Atlantic City was, after all, a city, with its share of poverty, crime, corruption. Postwar, it suffered white flight, urban blight.

    In 1976, New Jersey voters approved casino gambling to revive Atlantic City. And for a long time, it seemed to work.

    DON GUARDIAN: Every year, you either had a new casino, a casino hotel or casino garage that opened up. It provided tons of jobs to anybody that wanted them, minimum education. You work 60 hours, you make a hundred thousand dollars, you had benefits for you and the family.

    PAUL SOLMAN: No surprise, says Tom Ballance, who runs the Borgata, the fanciest casino in town. For nearly two decades, the next closest legal gambling was in Nevada.

    TOM BALLANCE, President, Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa: When people decided that they wanted to gamble, if they were east of the Mississippi, they were coming to Atlantic City.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But gambling, once the best bet in town, is a monopoly no more.

    Otto Graham, who pushes today’s equivalent of the 19th century rolling chair, says his business has stalled as casinos have sprouted elsewhere.

    OTTO GRAHAM: New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, they’re all over now. And then now you can go online. You don’t even have to leave your house. You can sit in your bedroom, living room, and go online and gamble.

    TOM BALLANCE: How do I convince a person who lives closer to Philadelphia Park or Aqueduct in New York to invest an extra 60 or 90 minutes traveling and an extra $50 or $75 in gas and tolls to come enjoy an Atlantic City experience?

    PAUL SOLMAN: The Borgata’s answer, invest in Iron Chef restaurants, nightclubs, entertainment, a Jersey Shore makeover, a la Las Vegas.

    Over at the Golden Nugget, says general manager Tom Pohlman:

    TOM POHLMAN, General Manager, Golden Nugget Atlantic City: We built a $10 million five-star spa. We’re a four-diamond resort that completely redid all our rooms.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And like the Borgata, they put a premium on customer service.

    Linda Miller is a regular from Long Island.

    LINDA MILLER: I like this place. I like the dealers. I like the whole atmosphere. I love the craps table.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But many, if not most of Atlantic City’s casinos just milked their cash cows. In a city rife with economic forecasters, though, monopoly forever? Did no one consult Izabella?

    WOMAN: Did you know a goal without a plan is just a wish?

    PAUL SOLMAN: But how could a plan to compete have come as a surprise, as neighboring states moved to legalize gambling in the mid-2000s?

    Again, hotel union president Bob McDevitt:

    C. ROBERT MCDEVITT:  Ten years, ago the people in Atlantic City, the casino folks, were considering themselves geniuses because the city was making $5.2 billion a year. It’s — it’s sort of like, you know, the rooster thinking that he makes the sun come up in the morning.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And why not believe the short-term illusion if you’re raking it in? Until, of course, the day you’re not. And when your casino is finally squeezed, one option is to squeeze the employees, by pulling health benefits, for instance.

    SONJA TOMLJANOVICH, Taj Mahal Waitstaff: How am I going to take my kid to the doctor? We have only two weeks’ notice. Our health care going to be discontinued.

    VALERIE MCMORRIS, Taj Mahal Employee: I work with girls that have cancer. I work with people that need medication. And it’s just — it’s absolutely outrageous.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Another option for a collapsing casino, local property tax concessions from the city. But the mayor is holding firm on the Taj.

    DON GUARDIAN: Everyone has to pay property taxes. I have senior citizens on fixed incomes. They don’t get a break. I have people that lost their jobs that worked for casinos, they have to pay their property taxes too, and certainly we brought businesses into town for two reasons, to pay taxes and to provide good jobs for — for our residents.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But the city has far less of both, with tourist traffic down more than 25 percent in less than a decade and casino revenue down nearly 50 percent.

    So was it crazy to wager Atlantic City’s future on casinos, as opposed to, say, an airport like the huge one in Newark, New Jersey?

    Urban planner Alan Mallach studies such questions.

    ALAN MALLACH, Center for Community Progress: An airport is a powerful generator, spinoffs, other companies, distribution centers — a casino a lot less so.

    PAUL SOLMAN: That’s because most of the casino money goes to the owners, to workers who live out of town, and to the state of New Jersey, which collects the gambling taxes, not Atlantic City.

    ALAN MALLACH: Even though the casinos were drawing in literally billions of dollars, very, very little was trickling out to the rest of the city.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Just look at once-pricey Pacific Avenue, right behind the boardwalk casinos.

    ALAN MALLACH: You will see a bunch of cash-for-gold places. You will see some pawnshops, and then you will see a lot of the kind of low-end stores, dollar stores and things like that, that you see in any poor struggling city in the United States and not much more.

    MAN: Hey, Mr. Mayor.

    DON GUARDIAN: How we doing, guys?

    PAUL SOLMAN: The very popular Republican mayor is working hard to turn things around.

    DON GUARDIAN: So, you will see a doubling and tripling of conventions in Atlantic City in 18 months to — to three years. Then what we need is research and development companies coming here and to be creating jobs that are beyond just tourism.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But if the Taj shuts down, there go its tax payments to the city and its jobs. So, as Izabella might counsel the mayor:

    WOMAN: Your enthusiasm could overcome your better judgment.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And she might even extend that warning to new casino ventures everywhere these days, visions of more good jobs and higher tax revenues notwithstanding.

    This is Paul Solman reporting for the “PBS NewsHour” from Atlantic City.

    The post Atlantic City shuffles for business as casino luck runs out appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    frieden

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Now: the continuing fight to combat Ebola.

    Hospital officials in Omaha, Nebraska, are preparing for a new case this weekend. The patient is a surgeon who is a national from Sierra Leone and a permanent resident of the United States. He reportedly was infected while treating patients in Sierra Leone. All eight Americans treated in the U.S. have survived. Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national, died in Dallas.

    Nearly all of the more than 5,100 killed by Ebola have been in West Africa.

    Jeffrey Brown has more.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The situation in Sierra Leone continues to be dire, with 435 new cases in just the past week, and now Mali is the latest country in the region to be hit with an outbreak. At the same time, infection rates in Liberia, the main focus of the disease in recent months, appear to be slowing.

    New reports out today from the CDC examine all this. And its director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, joins me now.

    And, Dr. Frieden, welcome again.

    There have been these recent positive signs in Liberia. Is that how it looks to you? And, if so, what has gone well that might offer hope elsewhere?

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director: We’re seeing proof of principle that the strategy of reducing Ebola by helping to ensure safe care, safe burial, community involvement, contact tracing, that works.

    We’re seeing decreases in at least two of the counties in Liberia that were hardest-hit. But we have much farther to go than we have already come. We’re nowhere near out of the woods.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Nowhere near, and flesh that out a little bit for us. In Liberia, in Sierra Leone, it conditions. We just mentioned Mali. How concerned are you about — about it spreading still?

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: We’re having real challenges in every place that has Ebola in West Africa.

    In Liberia, we’re seeing about one new cluster each day. And our staff and others are having to travel to remote areas to prevent each of those clusters from becoming a large outbreak with dozens or hundreds of cases.

    For the past four decades, we have evaluated and helped stop one outbreak every year or two. Now it’s every day or two just in Liberia. In Sierra Leone, we’re still seeing widespread transmission. In Guinea, we have seen now the largest increase in the whole history of the epidemic there in Guinea, so big challenges in Guinea.

    And we’re deeply concerned about Mali. In Mali, we already have a cluster of cases, with hundreds of exposed people who need to be tracked. So making sure that we do everything possible to get the situation in Mali under control, so it becomes the next Nigeria, which stopped a cluster, rather than the next Liberia, which had a countrywide epidemic, is the crucial thing to be focusing on now.

    And that’s what our staff are doing.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What about here in the U.S.? What can be said at this point? Is it possible to say it’s under control?

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: Well, at this point, there’s no one in the U.S. with Ebola. That’s the first time that’s been the case since early September. We have learned a lot about how to treat Ebola, how to ensure that the people caring for people with Ebola do so minimizing their risk of infection.

    And I think people have a better sense of what’s needed going forward. At the CDC, we’re working very closely with hospitals throughout the country to have them prepared. And one thing that we have done that’s gone extremely well is to work with state and local health departments, which are now tracing every person returning from the affected countries in West Africa, checking in with them every day, and if they develop fever, even if from flu or some other infection, getting them safely transported to a health care facility and safely evaluated.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You know there were a lot of — there was a lot of anger, there were a lot of questions early on over U.S. authorities and questions of competency, including you yourself. Were there issues or problems of omission, of communication, of competence early — in those early days? And do you think we’re past that?

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: Well, I wish we had known then what we know now.

    But when the first person ever to have Ebola in the U.S. arrived, we based our decisions on the best available data. And when new data, new experience became available, we updated our guidance. We updated our practices. And that’s one of the reasons we have had no further spread of Ebola within the U.S.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And so what happens now? What lessons — what’s the key lesson that you have learned from that?

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: We have to keep up our guard.

    We won’t get the risk of Ebola to zero in the U.S. until we stop it in West Africa. And Ebola is hard to fight. It requires intensity. It requires speed and flexibility. And that’s why we have put 170 people on the ground in West Africa. It’s the largest response in CDC history. They’re working, traveling by helicopter, by dugout canoe, going to remote villages to stop Ebola at the source, because that’s most important thing we can do to protect Americans.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Dr. Thomas Frieden of the CDC, thank you once again.

    DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: Thank you.

    The post CDC director Frieden: We’re ‘nowhere near out of the woods’ with Ebola appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    NUKES monitor nuclear

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Earlier today, the nation’s top defense official said there are systematic problems in the management of America’s nuclear weapons stockpile, adding that without billions of dollars for improvements, the safety and security of the force could be undermined.

    Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports.

    CHUCK HAGEL, Secretary of Defense: Our nuclear enterprise is foundational to America’s national security and the resources and attention we commit to the nuclear force must reflect that.

    MARGARET WARNER: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the shake-up after two reviews that began in February. They found the country’s aging nuclear infrastructure, including facilities, silos and its nuclear submarine fleet, has decayed markedly and will cost billions of dollars to fix.

    CHUCK HAGEL: The internal and external reviews I ordered show that a consistent lack of investment and support for our nuclear forces over far too many years has left us with too little margin to cope with mounting stresses.

    MARGARET WARNER: Among other things, the findings revealed equipment problems, including the fact that crews maintaining the nation’s 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles shared a single specialized wrench that’s been shipped from base to base, and blast doors atop 60-year-old silos that no longer seal.

    These lapses were attributed to a culture of micromanagement and bureaucracy that left top-level officials unaware of problems and personnel shortages and poor career advancement opportunities in the infrastructure force.

    A series of embarrassing incidents led to the reviews. In 2007, six nuclear warheads, still attached to missiles, were flown across the country, in a violation of safety rules. In 2013, the Air Force decertified 17 launch officers in North Dakota for poor performance. And this year, a cheating scandal involving nuclear launch officers erupted at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. The head of the nuclear wing there resigned last March, and nine other officers were removed.

    In the meantime, the Navy had its own exam cheating scandal involving reactor training instructors.

    Today, Hagel said the Pentagon took its eye off the ball in recent years, and has to act quickly.

    CHUCK HAGEL: If we don’t pay attention to this and if we don’t fix this, eventually, it will get to a point where there will be some questions about our security.

    MARGARET WARNER: Estimates are the fixes would cost nearly $10 billion over the next five years. To give the Air Force nuclear ranks more clout, Hagel authorized putting a four-star general in charge, instead of a three-star.

    The secretary later flew to Minot Air Force base in North Dakota to meet with nuclear personnel manning a Minuteman-III missile unit.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: We take up the proposed overhaul now with Bruce Blair. He is a research scholar at Princeton University. He was once an intercontinental ballistic missile officer in the Air Force. He’s also co-founder of Global Zero, the movement to eliminate nuclear weapons. And David Trachtenberg, he focused on nuclear weapons at the Pentagon during the George W. Bush administration and served on the House Armed Services Committee’s staff. He now has is own consulting company. So, Bruce, let me start with you. You have heard from the secretary today. You read through the report. Do you agree that there are systemic problems with what we consider a nuclear force?

    BRUCE BLAIR, Princeton University: Oh, absolutely.

    We have had systemic problems for decades, going all the way back to my service. And I think the report did a fine job of identifying the short-term problems in aging hardware and personnel and in offering fixes to those problems at a reasonable cost, which I think would — was projected to run around $8 billion over the next five years.

    So, we obviously have to maintain properly and man properly our existing nuclear arsenal, or else risk a catastrophic failure in security or safety.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: David, do you agree that there are systemic problems here?

    DAVID TRACHTENBERG, Former Defense Department Official: Well, I think the report was a good step toward identifying problems that need to be addressed and I welcome the administration’s commit to addressing them.

    The difficulty that I have with the particular findings of the report is that they suggest kind of a culture and an attitude of neglect that has been apparent, not just within this administration, within previous administrations as well. However, I think it’s been much more pronounced during this administration for a variety of reasons.

    And I think the difficulty that the Obama administration has is basically trying to square the circle between arguing the need to maintain the robustness and efficacy of our nuclear deterrent while at the same time advocating for the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Bruce, that seems to be kind of a big philosophical difference here.

    BRUCE BLAIR: Well, these problems have been longstanding.

    I stay in touch with many former missileers, going all the way back to the ’80s and ’90s and 2000s, through all the administrations, and the problems have really been pretty much the same throughout this entire period.

    My basic problem with the report is its attempt to link morale and leadership of our nuclear arsenal to the need for long-term massive modernization of our nuclear arsenal, which I think is a — is wrong, wrongheaded and misguided, for a number of reasons, beginning with the fact that massive nuclear arsenals don’t deal with the real threats that keep presidents up at night worrying, like nuclear terrorism and cyber-attack on our financial institutions, et cetera.

    This modernization is simply unaffordable. I mean, we’re really talking about a lot of dough here, on the order of $1 trillion over the next 30 years. And I don’t think that when the budget battles really get under way, that the land-based rocket force will survive the process.

    I think that they will probably be jettisoned, and they should be.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.

    So, David, will the recommendations in this report about increasing funding, about changing certain things around, and really spending that money over the next 30 years, will that make the difference?

    DAVID TRACHTENBERG: Well, it will — I hope it will make part of a difference and it will address at least some of the problems.

    Where I disagree with what was just said is that I believe nuclear modernization is essential, and I do believe that it has — nuclear modernization has been deferred literally for decades, to the point where we have reached the stage where things break, problems exist, and need to be remedied.

    Unfortunately, our nuclear deterrent needs to be kept resilient. It needs to be kept robust. We do live in a dangerous world. That didn’t change with the end of the Cold War. If anything, arguably, the world today is more dangerous than it was then. Our nuclear weapons provide our ultimate deterrent.

    They not only defend the United States and deter aggression against the United States, but they’re also used to extend that deterrent to allies as well. So they have a fundamental role to play in our national security.

    Many administrations have sought to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and policy. Unfortunately, again, I believe the problem this administration has had is sort of trying to square a circle. To argue that we need to maintain the efficacy of our nuclear deterrent on the one hand, while on the other hand arguing that what we want to do is get rid of nuclear weapons I think is somewhat counterproductive, to say the least. And I think…

    BRUCE BLAIR: Hari, the…

    DAVID TRACHTENBERG: I think, given the state of the world today, and some of the actions that we see on the part of other actors out there, I think moving in that direction would — at this particular point in time, I think that’s completely ill-advised.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Bruce, go ahead, just a few seconds left for you. Go ahead.

    BRUCE BLAIR: Yes, I was just going to say that we have been pursuing these parallel tracks of reduced reliance on weapons and at the same time modernizing them for a long, long time.

    I think Senator Hagel had it right two years ago when he teamed up with the former head of the strategic forces, General Jim Cartwright, in calling for deep cuts in the nuclear arsenal over the next 10 years, including the elimination of the entire land-based rocket force, the ICBM force. Now, that would make a difference.

    That would really take care of a big piece of the problem that we’re seeing out in the field.

    DAVID TRACHTENBERG: I actually think Secretary Hagel had it right today in expressing strong support for the maintenance and preservation of the strategic nuclear triad on which our nuclear deterrent is based, contrary to the recommendations of the Global Zero movement.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Bruce Blair, David Trachtenberg, thanks so much for your time.

    DAVID TRACHTENBERG: Thank you.

    BRUCE BLAIR: Thank you.

    The post How should the U.S. deal with decaying nuclear arms infrastructure? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    0 0

    PIPELINE POLITICS monitor

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The long-delayed and much fought-over Keystone XL pipeline is back on Congress’ to-do list. It won a new vote of support today in the U.S. House, and headed for the Senate, propelled by the midterm elections.

    Parts of the massive pipeline already exist, and new parts are being built every day, including this pumping station in Hartford, Missouri. Now the Republican-controlled House has approved the final phase of Keystone for the ninth time. It’s never gotten through the Democratic-controlled Senate, but that may be changing.

    Keystone is a key issue in next month’s runoff between Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Republican challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy. It’s their bills that are being voted on. The pipeline, owned by Canadian energy company TransCanada, would carry oil from Canada all the way to the Texas Gulf Coast, where refineries can turn it into gasoline, diesel and chemicals.

    In House debate, Texas Republican Ted Poe and others argued it’s a vital alternative to importing oil.

    REP. TED POE, (R) Texas: The Keystone pipeline from Canada to Texas will bring as much crude oil as we get from Saudi Arabia. It will bring energy security and national security. It will bring jobs. The pipeline will make Middle Eastern politics and energy irrelevant.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Environmentalists warn that extracting oil from Canada’s vast tar sands is too expensive and toxic. The pipeline has also drawn protests from some landowners in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska, who fear the 875 miles of pipeline will pollute land and water.

    A 2010 pipeline break in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River was the largest inland spill in U.S. history. It took two years to clean up, with money from an oil liability fund that oil companies pay into.

    But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says the House bill gives TransCanada a pass on contributing.

    REP. NANCY PELOSI, House Minority Leader: TransCanada does not have — will be exempted from paying into the oil spill liability trust fund, even though the tar sands component of what they’re transmitting is highly corrosive. So, God willing, there would never be a leak, but if there is, they are totally off the hook.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: That debate will carry over to next week, when the Senate takes up Keystone.

    North Dakota Republican John Hoeven says supporters hope to muster the 60 votes needed now, or next year, when Republicans take control.

    SEN. JOHN HOEVEN, (R) North Dakota: If we don’t get 60 votes on Tuesday, in the new Congress, we will have 60 votes. And, again, if you just go through the election results, not only did the American people speak, but when you look at the candidates, we have 60 votes for the bill. Then it’s up to the president.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama has repeatedly delayed action on Keystone, and today in Myanmar, he again voiced serious misgivings.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I have to constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices.

    Understand what this project is. It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The president stopped short of saying that he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

    The president also challenged Republicans on another issue today: immigration reform. It’s been widely reported that he may announce plans to shield five million people from deportation as early as next week. House Speaker John Boehner warned yesterday the Republicans will fight the move tooth and nail, but the president was undeterred.

    BARACK OBAMA: I indicated to Speaker Boehner several months ago that if in fact Congress failed to act, I would use all the lawful authority that I possess to try to make the system work better. So, they have the ability to fix the system. What they don’t have the ability to do is to expect me to stand by with a broken system in perpetuity.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The president made his remarks after meeting privately with Myanmar’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. He praised her efforts for democratic reforms and said a law barring her from running for president — quote — “doesn’t make much sense.”  Suu Kyi was a political prisoner for two decades before her release four years ago.

    From Myanmar, the president traveled to Brisbane, Australia, for a summit of the world’s leading economies. But tensions are brewing there between the host country and Russia. President Vladimir Putin touched down in Brisbane today following news that four Russian warships have taken up stations off Australia’s northeastern coast. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott accused Putin of trying to reclaim the lost glories of the Soviet Union.

    In Iraq, government officials claimed new success against Islamic State fighters. State television reported Iraqi troops backed by allied Sunni fighters drove the militants out of Baiji and away from a strategic oil refinery. The Islamic State group seized the town during a summer offensive.

    In economic news, Europe showed modest improvement in the third quarter and narrowly avoided falling back into recession. That’s due in part to Greece, where a grinding six-year recession has officially ended.

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras hailed the news.

    PRIME MINISTER ANTONIS SAMARAS, Greece (through interpreter): I promise you today that growth will continue at an even faster pace. No Greek will miss out on this growth. In spite of the misery in which many speculated, hope is back. Greece is back.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The Greek economy is now 25 percent smaller than it was in 2008.

    Wall Street had a lackluster ending to its week. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 18 points to close at 17,634. The Nasdaq rose eight points to close at 4,688. And the S&P 500 moved a fraction higher to 2,039. For the week, the Dow and the S&P gained about half-a-percent. The Nasdaq rose 1 percent.

    A Justice Department official is defending federal marshals for collecting cell phone metadata to track fugitives. The Wall Street Journal reported the program uses devices on small planes to mimic cell phone towers, gather data and locate the user. A Justice official insisted today the marshals are not interested in tracking the cell phones of ordinary Americans.

    And European scientists watched and waited today, hoping the spacecraft that landed on a comet can keep working. It’s apparently sitting in the shadow of a cliff that’s blocking sunlight needed for its solar panels. The lander did manage to drill 10 inches into the comet’s surface, but it may not have enough power to transmit the data back to Earth.

    The post News Wrap: GOP-controlled House greenlights Keystone XL bill appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


    Loading...

older | 1 | .... | 484 | 485 | (Page 486) | 487 | 488 | .... | 1175 | newer


Loading...