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

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  • 11/24/14--11:45: Watch the PBS NewsHour Live
  • The post Watch the PBS NewsHour Live appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference after a meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, on Nov. 22. Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference after a meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, on Nov. 22. Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruffled feathers Monday when he said women and men are created differently, and women can’t be expected to do the same work as men.

    “You cannot put women and men on an equal footing,” he said at a conference on justice for women in Istanbul. “It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. Their constitution is different.”

    Erdogan also said “motherhood is the highest position” women can achieve.

    “Our religion regards motherhood very highly,” he continued. “Feminists don’t understand that, they reject motherhood.”

    Critics have said Erdogan’s government is trying to degrade the country’s secular principles and limit the rights of women.

    The post Turkey’s president says women not equal to men appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Getty Images

    “Advanced Life Support” ambulances may lead to more death, according to a new study by Harvard University researchers. Photo by Getty Images

    Emergency treatments delivered in ambulances that offer “Advanced Life Support” for cardiac arrest may be linked to more death, comas and brain damage than those providing “Basic Life Support.”

    That’s according to a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, which suggests that high-tech equipment and sophisticated treatment techniques may distract from what’s most important during cardiac arrest — transporting a critically ill patient to the hospital quickly.

    “They’re taking a lot of time in the field to perform interventions that don’t seem to be as effective in that environment,” said Prachi Sanghavi, lead author of the study and a PhD student in Harvard University’s Program in Health Policy. Those interventions include the use of advanced defibrillators to shock the heart, the administration of IV drugs, and perhaps most risky in the field, intubation — the insertion of a plastic tube in the airway to help with breathing.

    “Of course, these are treatments we know are good in the emergency room, but they’ve been pushed into the field without really being tested,” she said. “And the field is a much different environment.”

    Adding to the danger is the fact that many paramedics in “advanced” units are trained in these procedures but rarely have a chance to perform or practice them in high-pressure situations, often leading to more delays, Sanghavi said.

    Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances stick to simpler techniques, like chest compressions, basic defibrillation and hand-pumped ventilation bags to assist with breathing. More emphasis is placed on getting the patient to the hospital as soon as possible.

    For decades, ALS has been the standard method for transporting patients to the hospital after an emergency. But little scientific evidence supported the “advanced” practices over BLS. And while studies in other countries called into question the effectiveness of these high-risk procedures in the field, the topic hasn’t received much attention in the United States.

    Survival rates for cardiac arrest patients are extremely low regardless of the ambulance type. In fact, roughly 90 percent of the 380,000 patients who experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year don’t survive to hospital discharge.

    But in this study, researchers found that 90 days after hospitalization, patients treated in BLS ambulances were 50 percent more likely to survive than their counterparts treated with ALS. The basic version was also “associated with better neurological functioning among hospitalized patients, with fewer incidents of coma, vegetative state or brain trauma.”

    The researchers collected Medicare data for ambulance services provided to patients in non-rural areas between 2006 and 2011. They then compared neurological outcomes and survival rates for the two types of care, using statistical methods to balance for differences between the groups, including age and other factors that could influence the type of ambulance used and chance of survival.

    “Our study shows that we clearly need a shift in the way we respond to cardiac arrest in this country,” Sanghavi said.

    But not everyone’s so convinced. Judith R. Lave, a professor of health economics at the University of Pittsburgh, called the study “interesting”, but far from definitive.

    “They’ve done as much as they possibly can with the existing data,” she said. “But I’m not sure that I’m convinced they have solved all of the selection biases.”

    For instance, some hospitals might send a BLS ambulance if the patient is close to the emergency room or relatively stable. That would mean the comparison is not truly equal and other factors besides the type of ambulatory care may have been at play.

    “There’s no way you can really control for this,” Lave said. “I would say that it should be taken as more of an indication that there may be some very significant problems here.”

    The Harvard team agrees that more research is needed. Joseph Newhouse, co-author of the study and director of the Division of Health Policy Research and Education, said it’s “a little bit premature to talk about any implications for programs like Medicare.

    “But I think that if these results were found to be similar for other kinds of diseases, then we could start to have a conversation about whether Medicare should be more proactive in trying to make some changes in the way it reimburses hospitals,” he said.

    Which is among the reasons the group’s next project will be to investigate how ambulatory care impacts patients facing other emergencies, including stroke, respiratory failure and trauma.

    “Stay tuned,” Newhouse said. “We’ll be back.”

    The post Why you don’t want a high-tech ambulance if you’re in cardiac arrest appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    PBS NewsHour will live stream events from the Ferguson grand jury decision today. You can also watch the NewsHour live at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. EST in the player above.

    It’s a story that has been at the forefront of the news, beginning with local protests the day after a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, on Aug. 9. Today the Washington Post and CNN report that the grand jury considering whether or not to indict Wilson has reached a decision, which is expected to be announced this evening.

    We are also expecting press conferences from Missouri governor Jay Nixon and the St. Louis County prosecutor. Watch those and any other events from the Ferguson grand jury decision in the player above.

    Keep up with the latest developments in Ferguson by following these journalists, local officials and individuals on the ground. But a warning, this feed will be updated in real time. It may contain graphic content that we will remove if it is deemed inappropriate for readers. And although we trust this list of people, we cannot verify the reporting contained in this feed.

    Who’s who?

    Local journalists/media outlets:
    @stltoday (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
    @JesseBogan (Jesse Bogan: St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter)
    @STLsherpa (Joe Holleman: St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist)
    @joelcurrier (Joel Currier: St. Louis Post-Dispatch crime and police reporter)
    @manofsteele (Lynden Steele: St. Louis Post-Dispatch director of photography)
    @PDPJ (David Carson: St. Louis Post-Dispatch staff photographer)
    @kodacohen (Robert Cohen: St. Louis Post-Dispatch photojournalist)
    @brosepd (Bob Rose: St. Louis Post-Dispatch deputy managing editor)
    @RayFarrisSTL (Ray Farris: St. Louis Post-Dispatch president and publisher)

    @stlpublicradio (St. Louis Public Radio)
    @stephlecci (Stephanie Lecci: newscast producer, St. Louis Public Radio, personal accounts of experience in Ferguson protests)
    @durrieB (Durrie Bouscaren: covers public health and research for St. Louis Public Radio, currently covering Ferguson protests)

    @ArgusRadio (KARG Argus Radio in St. Louis: website hosts extensive live stream coverage of Ferguson protests)

    @RiverfrontTimes (The Riverfront Times, alternative St. Louis newspaper)
    @StLouisLindsay (Lindsay Toler: The Riverfront Times news blogger)
    @RayDowns (Ray Downs: staff writer, the Riverfront Times)
    @D_Towski (Danny Wicentowski: staff writer, the Riverfront Times)
    @mitchryals (Mitch Ryals- writer, the Riverfront Times)

    @StLouisAmerican (The St. Louis American, weekly paper targeting the African-American community in St. Louis)
    @chriskingstl (Chris King: managing editor, the St. Louis American)
    @JamesTIngram (James T. Ingram: columnist, the St. Louis American)
    @BridjesONeil (Bridjes O’Neil: multimedia community reporter, the St. Louis American)

    National/International Media:
    @WesleyLowery (Wesley Lowery: journalist, national politics, the Washington Post)
    @ryanjreilly (Ryan J. Reilly: justice reporter, the Huffington Post)
    @aterkel (Amanda Terkel: senior political reporter and politics managing editor, the Huffington Post)
    @BmoreConetta (Christine Conetta: producer, Huffington Post Live and Huffington Post Politics)
    @mattdpearce ( Matt Pearce: national reporter, the L.A. Times)
    @jonswaine (Jon Swaine: U.S. correspondent for the Guardian)
    @robcrilly (Rob Crilly: Pakistan/Afghanistan correspondent, the Telegraph, currently reporting from Ferguson)
    @Yamiche (Yamiche Alcindor: breaking news and criminal justice reporter, USA Today)
    @trymainelee (Trymaine Lee: national reporter, MSNBC)
    @AmyKNelson (Amy K. Nelson: journalist, Animal New York)
    @ReporterFaith (Faith Abubey: reporter/anchor WFMY- North Carolina Piedmont Triad community)
    @elonjames (Elon James White, founder and CEO of TWiB! Media, LLC)
    @stephenmfee (Stephen Fee, reporting from Ferguson for PBS NewsHour)
    @MoriRothman (Mori Rothman, reporting from Ferguson for PBS NewsHour)

    The New York Times team on the ground:
    @juliebosman (Julie Bosman: national correspondent covering the Midwest, the New York Times)
    @alanblinder (Alan Blinder: Atlanta bureau, the New York Times)
    @jeligon (John Eligon: Kansas City correspondent, the New York Times)
    @FrancesRobles (Frances Robles: Florida, Central America and the Caribbean correspondent, the New York Times)
    @tanzinavega (Tanzina Vega: reporter covering race and ethnicity, the New York Times)

    Local Officials:
    @AntonioFrench (Antonio French: St. Louis Alderman, tweets frequent live stream coverage from Ferguson)
    @PresReed (Lewis E. Reed: president of the Board of Alderman)
    @TomShepardStl (Tom Shepard: Lewis E. Reed Chief of Staff)
    @Patricialicious (Patricia Bynes: Democratic committeewoman of Ferguson township)
    @DrDanIsom (Daniel Isom, St. Louis Chief of Police)
    @GraylingTobias (Grayling Tobias, superintendent of the Hazelwood School District)

    Other People/Organizations of Interest:
    @attorneycrump (Benjamin Crump, esq.: attorney representing Michael Brown’s family)
    @stlcountypd (St. Louis County Police Department)
    @ReverendStarsky (Rev. Starsky Wilson, president and CEO of Deaconess Foundation)
    @MsPackyetti (Brittany Packnett, executive director of Teach for America in St. Louis)
    @SheenBean32 (Rasheen Aldridge, director of Young Activist United St. Louis)
    @brownblaze (Ashley Yates, a co-founder of Millennial Activists United)
    @TefPoe (Tef Poe, rapper and activist for Hands Up United)
    @BeckJamesHatte (Becky James-Hatter, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri)

    The post LIVE: News from Ferguson via Twitter appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    PBS NewsHour will live stream events from the Ferguson grand jury decision today. You can also watch the NewsHour live at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. EST in the player above.

    A St. Louis County grand jury has reportedly reached a decision on whether or not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri.

    We are also expecting press conferences from Missouri governor Jay Nixon and the St. Louis County prosecutor. Watch those and any other events from the Ferguson grand jury decision in the player above.

    The announcement of the decision is expected to come later today. The St. Louis area is preparing for protests ahead of that revelation, and Ferguson-Florrisant School District officials closed school Tuesday for the district’s 11,000 students.

    We’ll track social media reaction to that news here. You can also follow reporters and officials who are on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri.

    hashtags data by hashtagify.me


    According to Hashtagify, “Gaza,” “Anonymous” and “Tcot” are three of the most popular Twitter hashtags related to “Ferguson.”

    The post WATCH LIVE: Ferguson grand jury announcement expected today appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    U.S. President Barack Obama announced executive actions on U.S. immigration policy during a nationally televised address from the White House in Washington, Nov. 20, 2014. Obama outlined a plan on Thursday to ease the threat of deportation for about 4.7 million undocumented immigrants. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

    U.S. President Barack Obama announced executive actions on U.S. immigration policy during a nationally televised address from the White House in Washington, Nov. 20, 2014. Obama will return to Chicago to discuss the next steps of his plan. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, the onetime community organizer, is returning Tuesday to the city where he says he first forged his ties to the Latino community to pitch his new executive actions on immigration.

    Obama is trying to seize the advantage in the heated dispute over the contentious issue while Congress is on a Thanksgiving recess and Republicans scramble to coalesce behind a unified opposition strategy.

    The president was scheduled to speak to Chicago community leaders, part of an ongoing effort to defend and promote his decision to bypass Congress and direct sweeping executive actions that could spare millions of immigrants illegally in the United States from being deported.

    Obama will speak at a center in the city’s predominantly Polish-American far northwest side, underscoring how his immigration measures would affect more than Latino immigrants. Chicago has the largest population of Poles in the United States.

    Under a series of measures Obama announced last week, nearly 5 million immigrants will be eligible to avoid deportation and sign up for work permits. The number who could benefit represents about 45 percent of the total number of immigrants who either entered the country illegally or have overstayed their visas.

    Republicans have vowed to rein Obama in, but have not fallen behind any specific plan.

    Obama has called on Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul that he has said would render his executive actions moot.

    Chicago is Obama’s hometown — he worked in the city as a community organizer in the 1980s — and its metropolitan area has the fifth largest Latino population in the country.

    The White House says Obama will draw attention to the contributions of immigrants and their role in creating businesses and jobs and will cite economic estimates from the White House that the executive actions would boost the economy and expand the tax base.

    The Chicago visit is his second trip out of Washington to draw attention to his actions since he announced them Thursday. Last Friday, the president spoke in Las Vegas, another city with a large Latino population.

    Obama has a mixed history in Chicago over the question of immigration. He conceded in his 2006 book “The Audacity of Hope” that his experiences there led him to reflect on the meaning of citizenship and “my sometimes conflicted feelings about all the changes that are taking place.”

    In 2006, when he was a senator from Illinois, he denied a request from about 30 Mexican nationals living in Chicago for a special piece of legislation that would protect them from deportation. The decision infuriated immigration activists in the city.

    But Obama has also backed an overhaul of immigration law, and while he initially angered advocacy groups by delaying his executive actions until after this month’s midterm elections, last week’s measures have generally been greeted with enthusiasm from immigration advocates and Latino groups.

    The post Obama to pitch immigration actions in Chicago appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user King Huang

    While certain cities have passed local laws requiring restaurants and other food establishment to post calorie counts, long-delayed FDA rules will expand the requirement nationwide. Photo by Flickr user King Huang

    WASHINGTON — Whether they want to or not, consumers will soon know how many calories they are eating when ordering off the menu at chain restaurants, picking up prepared foods at supermarkets and even eating a tub of popcorn at the movie theater.

    The Food and Drug Administration is announcing long-delayed calorie labeling rules on Tuesday, requiring establishments that sell prepared foods and have 20 or more locations to post the calorie content of food “clearly and conspicuously” on their menus. Companies will have until November 2015 to comply.

    The regulations will also apply to convenience stores, bakeries, coffee shops, amusement parks and vending machines.

    The idea is that people may pass on that bacon double cheeseburger if they know it has hundreds of calories — and, in turn, restaurants may make their foods healthier to keep calorie counts down. Beverages are included in the rules, and alcohol will be labeled if drinks are listed on the menu.

    “Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home and people today expect clear information about the products they consume,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said. The effort is just one way Americans can combat obesity, she added.

    The menus and menu boards will tell diners that a 2,000-calorie diet is used as the basis for daily nutrition, noting that individual calorie needs may vary. Additional nutritional information beyond calories, including sodium, fats, sugar and other items, must be available upon request.

    The rules deal a blow to the grocery and convenience store industries, which have lobbied hard to be left out since the menu labels became law in 2010 as a part of the health care overhaul. Even before the new rules were announced, some Republicans in Congress had expressed concern that they would be too burdensome for businesses.

    The law came together when the restaurant industry agreed to the labeling in an effort to dodge a growing patchwork of city and state rules. But supermarkets, convenience stores and many other retailers that sell prepared food said they wanted no part of it. The restaurant industry pushed to include those outlets, as they have increasingly offered restaurant-like service.

    The FDA issued proposed rules in 2011 that included supermarkets and convenience stores but excluded movie theaters. The final rules being released Tuesday include all of them.

    The restaurant industry, along with nutrition and consumer advocates, has said any business that sells prepared foods should be included. If a rotisserie chicken is labeled with a calorie count at a takeout restaurant, it should be labeled at a grocery store, they argued.

    Representatives for the supermarket industry have said it could cost them up to a billion dollars to put the labels in place — costs that would be passed on to consumers. They said the rules could cover thousands of items in each store, unlike restaurants, which typically have fewer items.

    To assuage some of their concerns in the final rules, FDA excluded prepared foods that are typically intended for more than one person to eat and require more preparation, like deli meats, cheeses or bulk deli salads.

    But a sandwich for sale at the same counter would have to have a calorie label nearby, and the majority of prepared foods in the grocery store will have to be labeled — from the salad bar to the hot food bar to cookies and birthday cakes in the bakery.

    The pizza industry, led by delivery giant Domino’s, has also vigorously fought the rules, saying there are millions of ingredient combinations possible. The FDA attempted to mollify some of their concerns by allowing pizza restaurants to label pizza calories by the slice, as they had requested, but would still force the labeling on menu boards in takeout restaurants.

    The delivery pizza industry had asked to post information online instead, saying only a small percentage of customers walk into their stores and about half order online.

    As in the proposed rules, the final version still exempts airplanes, trains, food trucks and other food served on forms of transportation.

    The idea of menu labeling is to make sure that customers process the calorie information as they are figuring out what to eat. Many restaurants currently post nutritional information in a hallway, on wrappers or on their website. The new law will make calories immediately available for most items.

    New York City was the first in the country to put a calorie posting law in place, and other cities and states have followed since then. Several restaurant chains have already put calories on menus and menu boards nationwide.

    The post New FDA rules will require calorie counts in food establishments appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Protesters approach a police line with their hands up after a grand jury returned no indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown. Photo by Adrees Latif / REUTERS

    Protesters approach a police line with their hands up after a grand jury returned no indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown. Photo by Adrees Latif / REUTERS

    WASHINGTON — A St. Louis County grand jury declined Monday to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri. The decision resolves one aspect of the case, but additional investigations remain and the community for months has been bracing for demonstrations in anticipation of the grand jury’s decision.

    A look at some of the likely next steps in Ferguson:

    Q. What other investigations are underway?

    A: The FBI and the Justice Department are continuing to investigate the shooting for potential civil rights violations. Investigators would need to satisfy a rigorous standard of proof in order to mount a prosecution. Whereas the county grand jury could consider multiple charges, Justice Department lawyers have a single focus: whether it can be shown that Wilson willfully deprived Brown of his civil rights. That is a difficult burden to meet, especially considering the wide latitude given to police officers in using deadly force. Some other past high-profile police shootings, including the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo in New York City, did not result in federal prosecutions.

    Q. What about broader allegations of racial insensitivity on the part of the Ferguson police department?

    A: Beyond the shooting itself, the Justice Department is conducting a wide-reaching investigation into the practices of the entire department. That investigation is focusing on stops, searches and arrests and generally looking for patterns of discrimination within the overwhelmingly white department. It has the potential to require major changes in the policing methods of the Ferguson force. Such broader reviews typically rely on data and interviews in the community and can take far longer than a criminal investigation.

    The Justice Department has initiated roughly 20 investigations of troubled police departments in the past five years, or more than twice the number undertaken in the five years before that.

    And regardless of the outcome of the criminal investigation, there’s also the potential that Brown’s family could file a wrongful-death lawsuit against Wilson.

    Q: How long might these other investigations go on?

    A: The Justice Department has not set a timeline for either investigation, though outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder has said he expects the federal investigation into the shooting to be concluded before he leaves office. He said late Monday that that investigation was independent of the local probe, and that “we have avoided prejudging any of the evidence.”

    Q: How will authorities deal with any protests?

    A: President Barack Obama appealed for calm and understanding Monday after the no-indictment announcement, saying the country needed “to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make.” Holder, too, said the decision should not lead to violence. Even so, within minutes of the announcement, crowds in the streets of Ferguson shattered windows, vandalized cars and taunted police while officers released smoke and pepper spray to disperse the gatherings.

    In anticipation of the protests, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon pre-emptively declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard. Gun sales surged before the grand jury decision and some shop owners boarded up their stores. A federal law enforcement team has been working with top commanders in Ferguson and from neighboring police departments to help reduce tensions and build trust.

    Q: Are there longer-term efforts to deal with underlying problems?

    A: Nixon several days ago named 16 members to a panel aimed at helping the community heal after the shooting. The commission, which will study underlying social and economic conditions, is expected to make recommendations in a report due by September 2015.

    The post What are the next steps regarding the Ferguson case? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Hours after the grand jury’s decision in the Michael Brown case was made public, fires erupted in Ferguson Missouri. Several buildings and a police car were fully engulfed in flames by 11 p.m. local time. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports there were more than 60 arrests, 10 businesses damaged and two people wounded by gunshots overnight. Protesters, many marching peacefully, were disbursed by the police after the violence erupted. “They told the crowd ‘this is no longer a peaceful protest. Move along or you’ll be arrested,” said PBS NewsHour Weekend producer Stephen Fee.

    Watch the PBS NewsHour tonight for more on the aftermath of the decision in Ferguson and coverage of the national response to the grand jury’s decision.

    The post VIDEO: Fires, smoke and gunshots disrupt Ferguson protests appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user Engin Erdogan.

    Not having a degree may hold you back, but if you’ve already won an interview, you’re in a position to show you can do the job. Photo by Flickr user Engin Erdogan.

    Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979, and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community over the past decade.

    In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards, or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


    Question: I have 10 years of work experience, but I do not have a degree, and I keep getting rejected for jobs I know I can do. What is the best way to answer when an interviewer asks why I do not have a degree? I know that my experience is more than sufficient to do the jobs that I am applying for. How should I answer this question? Can I get around my lack of a degree?

    Nick Corcodilos: Before I address your question, I’ll offer some advice to non-degreed people who will naturally ask how to get in the door for an interview when a job posting requires a degree.

    When you don’t have the money to buy something you want, you either forego the thing, or you come back when you have the money. If you are pursuing jobs that require a college degree, stop fooling around, pretending a degree shouldn’t matter. If you choose to apply to an employer that requires a degree, go get a degree. You can do this cost-effectively (in terms of both time and money) at accredited distance learning schools. One that I recommend is Thomas Edison State College, a state-funded school in New Jersey. Beware of unaccredited or self-accredited colleges.

    “A degree is not necessary to have a successful career, but not having one means foregoing certain jobs.”

    I find that older workers tend to rationalize this problem more than younger ones do. They think they’re too old to get a degree. That’s nonsense if what you want is a job that requires a degree. I recently met someone who just completed his B. A. — and he’s 62.

    A degree is not necessary to have a successful career, but not having one means foregoing certain jobs. If you think not having a degree is hindering you, find the time, make the investment, and earn it.

    But you’ve already gotten in the door — good for you. What can you say in an interview when asked about your lack of a degree? Be honest, because a contrived answer will hurt you.

    Why haven’t you earned a degree? If it’s because you don’t think it’s necessary for the work you do, then say so, and be ready to explain why. Start by outlining the work you would do for this employer, to show that you truly understand it. That by itself will score points with the interviewer. Then explain how you would apply your skills and specific tools to do that work successfully.

    Here’s where I recommend taking an extra big step. Say this to the interviewer:

    “I appreciate your taking the time to meet with me. But I don’t expect you to hire me unless I can convince you that I can do the work — and do it profitably.”

    That’s a very powerful statement that implies a commitment. Employers love commitments. Now it’s up to you to explain why your approach to your job is profitable to your employers. Take the time before your interview to work this out — be ready.

    • How do your methods reduce costs, improve efficiency, or increase revenues?
    • How does the way you do the job increase customer satisfaction, or reduce errors?
    • Focus on the outcome of how you would do the job, and your lack of a degree might not be an obstacle.

    Whether a degree is required or not, a job applicant must be able to show how he or she will do the job properly and to the employer’s satisfaction. All job hunters face this challenge, but few meet it, whether they have a degree nor not.

    Many degreed applicants think their degree speaks for them, so they don’t need to prove themselves. This is not true. A degree is not an automatic “in.” Be ready to compete with degreed applicants on the basis of what you can do. Just remember that it’s entirely up to you to demonstrate your abilities clearly — unfortunately, few employers will figure it out for themselves. They’ll just use your lack of a degree as an excuse to reject you.

    “Many degreed applicants think their degree speaks for them, so they don’t need to prove themselves. This is not true.”

    Bear in mind that degrees are very important to some employers — and the knowledge behind them might be necessary to do some kinds of work. Lots of people believe that while a degree might not make you an expert at your job, it allows you to interact effectively with other educated men and women. There’s something to be said for that, although I know lots of degreed people who fail on this measure.

    Having said all this, now I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret, if you don’t already know it. A college degree does not guarantee you a job. Worse, colleges and universities market education as the path to a great job — but few build their curricula and degree programs to support your getting a good job.

    I’m a believer in education for its own sake, and I think a college education is a powerful benefit in life. But I also think colleges have an obligation to prepare all students for a job — while few do a good job at this. I wish that parents who fund college educations (and students themselves) would revolt and demand better career components to all college curricula. I’m really tired of college administrators pontificating that “Preparing students for a job is not our responsibility. Our job is to educate them.” I think that’s bunk and a cop-out.

    Nonetheless, I’m not here to tell you to get a degree. At some point in your career you’ll probably find that lack of a degree will hold you back. What you do about that is up to you.

    The bottom line is, if an employer requires a degree, an non-degreed applicant will likely lose. If skills and experience are acceptable substitutes for a degree, then your success hinges on how well you can prove that by demonstrating your abilities. For more about this, see “No College Degree, No Problem” and “Desperate: No degree, can’t get interviews!”

    Dear Readers: If you don’t have a college degree, have you nonetheless won jobs that required a degree? How? Do you think you’ve been wrongly rejected because you lack a degree? Tell us your story — give us some inspiration and alternate ways to prove you are worth hiring.


    Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “How Can I Change Careers?”, “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

    Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

    Copyright © 2013 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

    The post Ask the Headhunter: How do I explain my lack of a college degree? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Michael Brown’s family held a news conference Tuesday to respond to Monday’s grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Brown. The family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, spoke alongside Rev. Al Sharpton to detail the family’s response.

    The post Michael Brown’s family holds news conference on grand jury decision appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Emily Hagel (left) and Ciji Wagner (right) helm kitchen operations at Miriam’s Kitchen where they infuse creativity and nutrition into breakfasts and dinners. Photos by Ariel Min.

    Miriam’s Kitchen in Washington, D.C. has its own Hippocratic oath: serve food you’d find at a restaurant or a family table. Open for breakfast and dinner, the organization, founded three decades ago to provide meals for the homeless, has served everything from duck breasts to seafood stew. The kitchen cooks 78,000 meals a year, spending roughly 50 cents a plate.

    “Just because you don’t have access to food doesn’t mean you don’t have a sophisticated palate,” said Emily Hagel, a chef there.

    With Thanksgiving approaching, here are a collection of holiday recipes we’ve culled from restaurants, shelters and churches that serve those in need, but also value nutrition and fine cooking. Below, Hagel’s Butternut Squash Souffle.

    DSC_4864

    Butternut Squash Souffle

    Ingredients

    1 ½ butternut squash
    6 tablespoons butter, melted but not hot
    3 eggs, lightly beaten
    ½ cup sugar
    ½ cup flour
    1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ½ teaspoon salt

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    2. Cut top and bottom off butternut squash
    3. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds
    4. Roast, cut side down, on parchment lined sheet tray for 40-45 minutes, until soft
    5. Allow to cool to room temperature
    6. Scoop out flesh with spoon
    7. Puree in food processor until completely smooth
    8. Fold in eggs, then fold in melted butter
    9. Whisk together the dry ingredients
    10. Fold dry ingredients into squash mixture, being sure to not over-mix
    11. Put squash mixture in 9” x 9” greased baking dish
    12. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until beginning to brown but still slightly loose in the center

    Serves 8-10

    Brad and Libby Birky, SAME Cafe
    Denver, Colorado

    SAME

    Volunteers like Toni Lopez (left) sustain SAME Cafe in Denver with a new locally-sourced menu every day. Photos by Rebecca Jacobson.

    Brad and Libby Birky opened SAME Cafe two years before the economic collapse in 2008. Working “so all may eat,” their “pay what you can” restaurant model was a hit, with the average soup, salad or pizza meal coming out to $7.50. But when people in their community began losing their jobs, the average contribution plummeted to $2.00 per person and meals spiked to 100 a day, up from 30. “As things have ebbed and flowed naturally, we see a microcosm of what’s happening nationwide here inside the cafe,” said Brad. Today, SAME Cafe is sustained by donations and the Birkys’ desire to “minimize the economic disparity that comes through food” is still strong.

    DSC_0095Turkey Cranberry and Brie Pizza

    Ingredients

    1/2 cup cranberry sauce
    1 teaspoon fresh cilantro, stemmed and minced
    1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of red onion, finely chopped
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    Pre-made pizza dough for a 12” crust
    1 cup shredded turkey (or more, to taste)
    1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
    1/3 cup tiny cubes of brie cheese

    Ingredients

    1. Mix cranberry sauce, cilantro, red onion and cumin together to create sauce
    2. Roll out pizza dough on a greased 12-inch pizza pan
    3. Spread sauce evenly over pizza dough
    4. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese evenly over dough, followed by turkey and brie
    5. Bake pizza for 10 minutes at 400 degrees
    6. Allow to cool
    6. Garnish with fresh cilantro before serving

    Serves 2-4

    Kevin Lenihan, Salvation Army West Women’s Shelter
    Portland, Oregon

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    Carrots can be supplemented in this comforting side dish for a more nutritious approach. Photos by Ariel Min.

    Working in the Peace Corps in Ghana changed chef Kevin Lenihan’s outlook on food security. “Although we have tons of food, we have an issue with providing access,” he said. He joined the kitchen staff of a women’s shelter with a mission to help a specific population: survivors of domestic violence.

    “It’s not just the poor here,” he said. “Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. There are people here who have experienced multigenerational poverty and others with good jobs and college degrees.”

    A southern native, Kevin cooks comfort food, but with a healthy twist.

    “Seeing the joy that food brings is very rewarding,” he said. “I don’t get paid much, and this isn’t a great job by those standards. But the interactions are where the payoff is.”

    DSC_5218

    Candied Yams with Peaches

    Ingredients

    4 large yams, washed and cut into 1 inch cubes
    1 cup dried Peaches (or other dried fruit)
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 teaspoon nutmeg
    1 pinch salt
    2 tablespoons maple syrup

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
    2. Mix yams in a roasting pan with olive oil, salt and spices. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until yams are soft
    3. Rehydrate peaches in 1 cup of water for 20 min, then chop into quarter inch pieces or use a food processor
    4. Remove yams from oven and mash them, top with dried peaches and maple syrup and return to oven for 5-10 min
    5. Remove from oven.

    Serves 6-8 as a side dish

    Note: For a healthier dish, yams can be supplemented with mashed carrots. Canned peaches can also be used instead of dried peaches if the syrup washed off first. Brown sugar (or another sweetener) can be substituted for maple syrup or the additional sweetener can be omitted altogether.

    The Water Ministry
    Washington, DC

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    Penny Ray (left) and Thelma Triche (right) are longtime volunteers of the Water Ministry. Photos by Ariel Min.

    The Water Ministry began in Tenleytown in 1990 when St. Columba’s Episcopal Church parishioner Dick Dowd asked three chronically homeless men what they needed most. Hot water, they responded, for laundry and showers. So when St. Columba’s expanded their parish hall, a wing was built to serve both those needs. A decade later, Kathi Chapman, a professional caterer and member of the church, began volunteering to cook hot lunches.

    “She established a legacy of excellence in cooking,” said volunteer Thelma Triche.

    Now, the kitchen requires more cooks and a nicer space to accommodate the 40 guests they receive every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

    DSC_5095Kielbasa Cabbage Stew

    Ingredients

    1 pound or 1 ring of smoked turkey kielbasa or Polish sausage, sliced
    1 pound of potatoes, peeled and cubed
    1 cup shredded cabbage
    1 cup carrots, diced
    1 large onion, chopped
    14 – 15 ounces of chicken stock
    3/4 cup of water
    2 tablespoons of sugar
    1 teaspoon of caraway seeds
    1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
    1 can (16 ounces) of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    3 tablespoons cider vinegar
    1 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
    1 tablespoon olive oil

    Instructions

    1. Brown the kielbasa or sausage in a large sauce pan &/or skillet
    2. Add the potatoes, cabbage, onion and chicken stock
    3. Add water, sugar, caraway seeds and pepper
    4. After bringing to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes while stirring occasionally until the potatoes are tender
    5. Add beans and cider vinegar, cover and simmer 5 to 10 minutes
    6. In a separate bowl, combine flour and remaining water until smooth, stir into stew
    7. Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2 to 5 minutes or until thick

    Serves 6

    The post Amazing recipes from chefs who feed the homeless appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Children learn how to tie-dye at a street festival in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2012. Photo courtesy of the Ferguson Youth Initiative

    Children learn how to tie-dye at a street festival in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2012. Photo courtesy of the Ferguson Youth Initiative

    When Gail Babcock, program director of the Ferguson Youth Initiative, heard about the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer in August, her first thought was this: had he only gotten a citation for walking on the street, he would have been referred to her organization for community service. And he would be alive today.

    “It was hard to wrap my mind around that,” she said by phone from Ferguson, Missouri, on Tuesday, a day after violent protests greeted the grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer.

    “A lot of the youth realized that could have been them,” said Babcock. “I’m not here to second guess the judgment, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. The youth have said, ‘We need to change our attitude, and the police need to change their attitude with us.’ The only way that change is going to come is by knowing each other.”

    The Ferguson Youth Initiative, founded in 2010, aims to do that by providing programs for youth ages 13-20 of all races to mingle with each other and work on projects together. They paint murals in the arts program. They organize street festivals with live bands, rock-climbing walls and face painting. There’s an Earn-a-Bike program where they learn maintenance and receive their own bicycle, helmet and lock.

    And the FYI’s Ferguson Community Service Program gives youth 16 years and older a chance to erase their fines and their misdemeanor charges by performing community service and undergoing mental health and substance abuse screenings.

    “The youth who are fined tend to run away and get bench warrants for their arrests,” Babcock said. Those who participate in the community service program are held accountable by doing good things for the community, such as cleaning people’s yards, helping at farmer’s markets and working at community events.

    “The goal is to pull them back to the community so that they do not feel alienated,” she said. And it seems to be working. The 53 youth who have completed the program so far have stayed out of trouble. The community is now looking into a similar program for adults.

    Following the Michael Brown shooting, the Ferguson Youth Initiative held a youth summit in September — run by the teens — to explore ways to improve relations with police.

    Watch a recap of the 2014 Youth Summit and what community members want to do to move forward.

    Some of the suggestions made at the summit included having the police officers introduce themselves to the community, play sports or have meals together, and do role-playing exercises.

    Now might not be the time to launch these programs, while police are so busy, Babcock said. But she is seeking a grant from the federal government to pay the police overtime for participating in community-engagement activities.

    She said the recent violence in the St. Louis suburb was perpetrated by opportunists looking to destroy and loot, and was not indicative of the community as a whole. “We know we have issues and we’re trying to address those issues. What happened last night is not who we are.”

    View all of our Social Entrepreneurship profiles and tweet us your suggestions for more groups to cover.

    The post If Michael Brown had lived, this group might have helped him appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo courtesy of Doug Kline.

    Sony is settling government charges that it misled consumers about its PlayStation Vita hand-held gaming console.

    The Federal Trade Commission announced the settlement Tuesday, saying it took issue with some of the advertising claims that Sony Computer Entertainment America, the U.S.-based arm of the PlayStation business, made about “game changing” technology features of its PS Vita gaming console.

    Among the claims challenged:

    —That the pocket-sized console would revolutionize gaming mobility by allowing consumers to play their PlayStation 3 games via “remote play.”

    —That people could engage in “cross platform” play by starting a game on a PlayStation 3 and then continuing the game on the PS Vita from where they left off.

    Not really true, said the FTC.

    With the cross platform play feature, the agency says it was only available for a few PS3 games, and the pause-save features varied from game to game.

    For “remote play,” the complaint says Sony told consumers that PS Vita users could easily access their PS3 games on their hand-held consoles. But most PS3 games, the FTC said, were not remote playable on the PS Vita.

    “As we enter the year’s biggest shopping period, companies need to be reminded that if they make product promises to consumers — as Sony did with the “game changing” features of its PS Vita — they must deliver on those pledges,” said Jessica Rich, head of the agency’s consumer protection bureau.

    Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The ad claims at issue were made during the U.S. launch of the product, around the early days of 2012, when the console sold for about $250.

    As part of the proposed settlement, Sony will provide refunds to people who bought the PS Vita console before June 1, 2012. They’ll be eligible for either a $25-cash or credit refund or a $50 merchandise voucher from Sony. And Sony will contact consumers about the refunds or vouchers via email.

    The post Sony to pay customers for misleading Playstation ad appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Ferguson, Missouri Mayor James Knowles spoke Tuesday on the state of the city following Monday’s grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

    Knowles, alongside community leaders, clergy representatives and business owners, addressed the protests in the street in response to the decision and the arrival of National Guard troops.

    When asked about the status of Officer Wilson, Knowles said that the officer remained on administrative leave pending the results of an internal investigation.

    The post Ferguson’s mayor speaks on state of city after grand jury decision appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo courtesy of Flickr user hdzimmermann

    Photo courtesy of Flickr user hdzimmermann

    Most people can recognize Microsoft founder Bill Gates and know that hashtags belong in tweets, but are confused about whether having a privacy policy means that a company actually keeps consumer information confidential, according to a new Pew Research study released Tuesday.

    The results underscore what many techies say is a growing problem for the U.S.: a generation reliant on the convenience that technology brings, but with little understanding of the risks of conducting nearly every transaction using zeroes and ones.

    Aaron Smith, senior researcher at Pew and author of the report, said he thought it would be interesting for policy makers and tech designers to find what knowledge gaps existed in modern life.

    “Just because people use these gadgets a lot doesn’t necessarily mean they know everything about how they work and where they came from,” he said.

    The 17-question quiz is available online.

    Not surprisingly, people under 30 seemed to do better on some of the questions than older Internet users, such as knowing what a “Wiki” or “captcha” is. But young or old, only about 6 in 10 Internet users understood that “net neutrality” refers to the equal treatment of digital content by service providers. The Federal Communications Commission is considering whether it should regulate the broadband industry more aggressively to prevent providers from playing favorites among content sites like Google, YouTube, Amazon or Netflix.

    Another area where age didn’t seem to matter was the false assumption that the existence of a privacy policy means that a company keeps the data it collects on consumers confidential. More than half — 52 percent — of Internet users thought that was the case, whereas privacy policies often explain that a company reserves the right to sell a person’s information to advertisers or other third parties.

    Three-fourths of people surveyed thought the “Internet” was the same thing as the “World Wide Web.” The Internet refers to the infrastructure that uses specific protocols to connect various networks; the web is one application that uses that architecture to share information using web pages.

    The online survey was conducted Sept. 12-18 among a sample of 1,066 adult Internet users 18 years of age or older. The survey was conducted by the GfK Group using KnowledgePanel. Sampling error was plus or minus 3.2 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence.

    The post Quiz: Do you know how the Internet works? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon spoke at a news conference Tuesday, condemning “criminals intent on lawlessness and destruction” that “terrorized” Missouri communities Monday night in the wake of the Ferguson grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown. Nixon promised the deployment of “hundreds more” National Guard troops to Ferguson in an attempt to keep the peace.

    “We must do better,” Nixon said. “And we will.”

    The post Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon speaks on violence, promises ‘significant’ National Guard increase appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Demonstrators march through the streets following the grand jury decision in the Ferguson, Missouri shooting of Michael Brown, in Seattle, Washington November 24, 2014.  REUTERS/Jason Redmond

    Demonstrators march through the streets following the grand jury decision in the Ferguson, Missouri shooting of Michael Brown, in Seattle, Washington November 24, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

    Cities across the country are planning organized responses to yesterday’s decision by a grand jury not to indict Darren Wilson for fatally shooting unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

    The Ferguson National Response Network is maintaining an online list of dozens of protests that are planned for Tuesday night. Protesters have organized around the hashtag #IndictAmerica on Twitter and Facebook to spread information on protest plans.

    The group Black Lives Matter Boston will host a protest in downtown Boston tonight, and organizers in New York plan to gather in Union Square, where protests began yesterday following the decision.

    In Philadelphia, Knoxville, TN and Asheville, NC, protesters are instructed to wear black for demonstrations today. A planned demonstration in New Orleans, LA, asks attendees to wear black and red.

    Protests will begin at police departments in several cities, including Boston, Austin and Dallas. The Baltimore People’s Power Assembly is gathering in McKeldin Square in Baltimore this afternoon for a protest and march, according to WBAL. In Washington, D.C., protesters will gather in Mount Vernon Square at 7 p.m. Facebook events are also publicizing protests in Providence and Houston.

    People are also organizing gatherings outside the U.S. Several protests are planned in Canada, and people in Ottawa will gather for a vigil at the U.S. Embassy tonight. A protest and silent march is also in the works for Dec. 5 in Tokyo, according to the Ferguson National Response network.

    The post Protests and vigils planned Tuesday night after Ferguson grand jury decision appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A graphic designer by trade, Eric Rieger, better known as HOTTEA, uses the grid of chain-link fences as the backbone for his non-destructive, yarn-based instillation art. Rieger shares his history with the art form and explains how he became HOTTEA. Video produced by Kate McDonald, shot by Matt Ehling. Photographed and edited by Adam Geiger of Minnesota Original, Twin Cities Public Television

    Eric Reiger used to create his street art with paints, but after a run-in with the law, he went looking for a new medium to creatively use the city as his canvas.

    “I wanted to create a project that I could do on the street, non-destructively because I wanted to do art in the street, un-commissioned, wherever I wanted,” said Reiger

    HOTTEA

    He eventually settled on yarn, creating a project now known as HOTTEA. Reiger, who was looking for a medium that would be less damaging to city property than paint, came to yarn because not only is it non-destructive, but it also comes in a wide array of colors and it’s easy to manipulate. Perhaps more importantly, Reiger felt connected to the fabric because his grandmother had taught him how to knit when he was young — yarn brought him back to his roots.

    Reiger surveys a city by examining how he can interact with its surfaces. He is also a graphic designer and brings that knowledge to the way he integrates his yarn.

    HOTTEA

    “Early on, it was very much like learning the alphabet, and then after continuing on for three or four years, you begin to see the potential behind the fence.”

    His work isn’t something easily overlooked and he thinks yarn is getting people’s attention.

    “A lot of times we pass by things, like graffiti, and a lot of people just see it as graffiti and that’s it. I noticed as I was doing work, people were confused, they were curious, they saw something more to it,” he said. “There’s more than just type on fences. There’s a concept behind that, there’s a story, there’s a reason why I’m doing this.”

    Local Beat is a weekly series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation.

    The post Graphic designer spins yarn into textured street art appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    To capture the first-ever image of a black hole, a team of international scientists travel to extreme altitudes in Northern Chile’s Atacama desert, home to the world’s best view of the night sky.

    In a control room atop a 16,500-foot mountain in Chile’s Atacama desert, Shep Doeleman and his international team of scientists are pulling the “heart” out of a $1.4 billion telescope. They are removing the atomic clock that the telescope relies on to read signals from space, and replacing it with a better one, one that won’t lose a second for the next hundred million years.

    “Basically what we’ve done is perform a heart transplant for ALMA,” said Doeleman, an astronomer at MIT and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

    science-wednesday

    It’s a delicate operation. Scientists wear oxygen tanks so they don’t pass out from the altitude. Special housing protects the atomic clock from Chile’s violent earthquakes. Doeleman and his team won’t open the casing to show us the clock, especially while they’re running tests. It is too sensitive, and they don’t want to risk jarring it.

    Doeleman holds a device in his hands that they are using to test the new clock. It’s a clock too, but it looks more like a bomb — which made getting through airport security from the U.S. to Chile tricky, he said.

    If their operation is successful, the most powerful radio telescope in the world, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, will join 11 international observatories capture the first-ever image of a black hole. PBS NewsHour recently traveled to Chile to meet some of the scientists behind this international collaboration.

    ALMA's Operations Support Facility at night, just as most astronomers are getting to work. Photo by Joshua Barajas/PBS NewsHour

    ALMA’s Operations Support Facility at night, just as most astronomers are getting to work. Photo by Joshua Barajas/PBS NewsHour

    When we arrived at ALMA’s low site — at 9,500 feet above sea level — Richard Simon met us in the control room there. He was the astronomer-on-duty at ALMA that week from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. He towers over the other scientists and engineers; at 6’10” tall, he may be the world’s tallest astronomer, he joked. At 9 a.m., the control room was fairly empty — just two people tapping away at the circle of computers. Unfinished puzzles were strewn across a table. Above, monitors showed the antennas at the high site.

    In the middle of the night when ALMA takes most of its observations, this room is filled with scientists from all over the world, he said. ALMA is run by a conglomeration of radio astronomy organizations from Europe, Canada, Japan, Chile and the U.S.

    Simon rubbed his eyes. He’d been awake for more than 18 hours, and just finished his overnight shift. Earlier that morning, Jupiter and Venus had passed each other in the sky. The image ALMA scientists captured looked as if Jupiter and Venus were flashing a “thumbs up”. They printed the image and tacked it up in the control room, on a white board atop shift schedules and notes.

    How does it feel working 16,500 feet above sea level? Scientists at the ALMA observatory in Chile report.

    It’s images like that which make dealing with high altitude sickness, long shifts, nausea and the driest desert in the world worth it, Simon said. And the prospect of seeing a black hole is key to ALMA’S existence.

    “We are reaching out to the universe to study these mysteries,” Simon said. “The black hole at the center of our galaxy is something that wasn’t even imagined a few decades ago.”

    Black holes are voracious eaters that swallow everything they can — dust clouds, stars, planets and other space debris — and they’re surrounded by what’s known as an event horizon, the area where the gravitational pull is so strong that nothing — not even light — can escape.

    Jupiter gave ALMA scientists' a "thumbs up" as it passed Venus on August 18th. Photo by Joshua Barajas/PBS NewsHour

    Jupiter gave ALMA scientists’ a “thumbs up” as it passed Venus on August 18th. Photo by Joshua Barajas/PBS NewsHour

    “Black holes are some of the most exotic objects in the universe,” Doeleman said. “They come about when matter gravitationally collapses in on itself, when the atomic forces that normally hold, let’s say, a rock into its shape are overcome by gravity and everything becomes pulverized and crushed down into a single point.”

    Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicted the existence of black holes in 1916, and to date, they’re the best explanation we have for many phenomena in our universe, Doeleman said.

    But how do you see something that is, by definition, unseeable?

    Other instruments have been able to observe and measure the effects of a black hole on stars, planets and light, but no one has ever actually seen a black hole, said David Rabanus, instruments manager for ALMA.

    “There is no telescope available which can resolve such a small radius,” he said. “It’s a very high-mass black hole, but that mass is concentrated in a very, very small region.”

    MIT astronomer Shep Doeleman explains how the Event Horizon Telescope works.

    Without an image of one, no one has been able to confirm that black holes even exist, Doeleman says.

    This Earth-sized telescope is science’s best hope of seeing one, Doeleman said. And it relies on a technique called very long baseline interferometry, or VLBI.

    VLBI works in the same way that ALMA’s 66 antennas combine to make one telescope, only on a much larger scale, Simon said. The antennas are spread out across a wide area. As radiation from space hits the antennas, the data is sent to the correlator, ALMA’s “brain”, which pieces the information together to make an image. ALMA’s atomic clock measures exactly when the waves of radiation hit the receivers.

    ALMA’s antennas are the most precise and sensitive in the world. Keeping them working means cooling the receivers to 3 or 4 degrees Kelvin, or almost absolute zero, Rabanus said. A blue drum called a cryostat nests inside each 100-ton antenna, chilling the receivers to the point where they can see the coldest objects deep in space.

    “Cold clouds, cold gases, which are maybe 20 Kelvin only…We have to be colder than that in order to receive it. If we were warmer than those we would actually send out that radiation,” Rabanus said.

    The receivers aren’t the only highly sensitive equipment. Each antenna’s dish needs a very specific surface texture to pick up minute radiation waves from space. The roughness of the surface needs to be accurate to within 50 microns, or the width of a human hair, Rabanus said.

    In the lab at ALMA, engineers work on testing and maintain cryostats, the big blue drums that keep the receivers at 3 or 4 degrees Kelvin -- cold enough to receive faint radiation from space. Photo by Rebecca Jacobson/PBS NewsHour

    In the lab at ALMA, engineers work on testing and maintain cryostats, the big blue drums that keep the receivers at 3 or 4 degrees Kelvin — cold enough to receive faint radiation from space. Photo by Rebecca Jacobson/PBS NewsHour

    Those antennas are what will boost the Event Horizon Telescope’s sensitivity by a factor of ten, Doeleman said. Still, the observatory can’t do it alone.

    To get a wide enough “lens” with a high enough resolution to see a tiny black hole, the Event Horizon Telescope connects observatories around the world — from Chile, to Mexico, Hawaii, California, Spain and all the way to the South Pole. To sync all these observatories up, every telescope needs to use the same atomic clock — hence ALMA’s surgery.

    Together, they will act as a single telescope, peering 152,844,259,702,773,820 miles past stars and planets, through gas clouds and dust to catch a picture of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.

    There, a cloud of space dust, simply called G2, is circling the black hole. If it falls in, the edge of that black hole — called the event horizon — will light up, the brightest it has been in 100 years. The black hole will cast a shadow against that flare.

    “Einstein’s equations tell you exactly what the size and shape of that shadow should be, so if we could image a shadow we’d be able to test Einstein’s theories in the one place where they might really break down — at the edge of a black hole,” Doeleman said.

    Dimitrios Psaltis, a theoretical physicist at the University of Arizona, admits he’s hoping to see something unexpected emerge from the data.

    “This is the horse we’re betting on,” Psaltis said. “Most people go into fundamental research not because it’s exciting being on a computer 18 hours a day. We do it in hope that we hit gold and make a fundamental discovery that will be remembered. This project has that chance.”

    If the shape of the shadow doesn’t match Einstein’s equations, it will be a transformative time for physics, Psaltis said. It will give the field a chance to move forward.

    And if it matches, and Einstein’s theory of general relativity is confirmed?

    “That would tell us that Einstein was on the right track, that all methods that rely on general relativity are sound,” Doeleman said. “It would be a wonderful confirmation of one of the most beautiful theories that’s ever come out of physics.”

    The post How seeing a black hole’s shadow will tell us if Einstein was right appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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