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

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    A massive power outage hit downtown Detroit this morning, affecting 100 of the city’s buildings, including fire stations.

    The outage prompted Detroit public schools to close early. Additionally, Wayne State University cancelled classes on their main campus.

    Detroit Press Office told Detroit News that “the city’s public lighting grid suffered a major cable failure that has caused the entire grid to lose power at approximately 10:30 this morning.”

    Firefighters worked to free several people reportedly trapped in elevators.

    And city-wide evacuations ensued shortly after.

    The city is working to restore power.

    The post Widespread power outage hits Detroit appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    The Senate Commerce Committee will hear from representatives from the major professional sports leagues on domestic violence Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. EST

    The Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday will hold a hearing on domestic violence in professional sports.

    Representatives from the major professional sports leagues — the National Football League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League — are scheduled to testify before the committee. In addition, members from those professional leagues’ players’ unions — with the exception of the NFL Players Association — will also appear at the hearing.

    Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, called the hearing due to what he says is the leagues’ history of doing “little to nothing in response” to “a long list of players” charged or convicted of domestic violence.

    The post WATCH LIVE: Senate hearing on domestic violence in professional sports appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo courtesy of Flickr user "fruit flavor."

    Photo courtesy of Flickr user “fruit flavor.”

    Multicultural and interfaith marriages are on the rise in America. According to the Pew Research Center, 15 percent of new marriages in the United States in 2010 were between individuals of different races or ethnicity- more than double the percentage of new marriages that were interracial in 1980. A 2013 article in The Economist reported that 45 percent of marriages in the U.S. in the past 10 years were between individuals who either practiced different religions, or observed radically differing doctrines of Christianity. “Americans are more likely to marry someone of a different faith than someone who supports a different political party,” the article stated.

    The number of married couples who come from different backgrounds is growing, and as a result, so is the number of multicultural and interfaith families. For many households, preserving the religious and cultural backgrounds of each member means blending traditions and customs, and even creating some new ones. We want to hear from you. Do you celebrate the holidays and observe the customs of more than one culture or faith? How do your holiday customs today differ from the traditions you had growing up? What factors caused you to change the way you celebrate?

    Join the conversation on Twitter this Thursday from 1-2 p.m. EST. PBS NewsHour’s data producer Laura Santhanam (@LauraSanthanam) will share her insights along with Sheryl Parbhoo (@SherylParbhoo), author of the blog Southern Life, Indian Wife. Follow the conversation and join in using #NewsHourChats.

    The post Twitter chat: Share your multicultural holiday traditions appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A healthcare worker at Mount Sinai Hospital  wears protective apparel similar to what staff must use if treating an Ebola patient. Mount Sinai Hospital is one of 35 hospitals that will house Ebola treatment centers nationwide.

    A healthcare worker at Mount Sinai Hospital wears protective apparel similar to what staff must use if treating an Ebola patient. Mount Sinai Hospital is one of 35 hospitals that will house Ebola treatment centers nationwide.

    Thirty-five hospitals throughout the United States are “prepared, trained and ready” to treat patients with Ebola, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Ebola treatment centers in each of the hospitals have been “staffed, equipped and have been assessed to have current capabilities, training and resources to provide the complex treatment necessary to care for a person with Ebola while minimizing risk to health care workers,” the CDC announced on Tuesday.

    State health officials made the official designation for each of the hospitals, with a CDC Rapid Ebola Preparedness team assessing each facility’s readiness for infection control, personal protective equipment use and details like handling and management of trash from each patient’s room.

    More than 80 percent of travelers returning from Ebola-stricken countries live within 200 miles of one of the hospitals, the CDC reports.

    The facilities will supplement the three “National Bio-Containment Facilities” at Emory University Hospital, Nebraska Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health – which the CDC officials say will “continue to play a major role in our overall national treatment strategy, particularly for patients who are medically evacuated from overseas.”

    In the coming weeks, additional hospitals will be designated with “Ebola treatment centers” to expand geographic reach.

    “As long as Ebola is spreading in West Africa, we must prepare for the possibility of additional cases in the United States,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden in a released statement.

    The 35 hospitals with Ebola treatment centers include:

    • Kaiser Oakland Medical Center; Oakland, California
    • Kaiser South Sacramento Medical Center; Sacramento, California
    • University of California Davis Medical Center; Sacramento, California
    • University of California San Francisco Medical Center; San Francisco, California
    • Emory University Hospital; Atlanta, Georgia
    • Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; Chicago, Illinois
    • Northwestern Memorial Hospital; Chicago, Illinois
    • Rush University Medical Center; Chicago, Illinois
    • University of Chicago Medical Center; Chicago, Illinois
    • Johns Hopkins Hospital; Baltimore, Maryland
    • University of Maryland Medical Center; Baltimore, Maryland
    • National Institutes of Health Clinical Center; Bethesda, Maryland
    • Allina Health’s Unity Hospital; Fridley, Minnesota
    • Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota; St. Paul, Minnesota
    • Mayo Clinic Hospital; Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • University of Minnesota Medical Center, West Bank Campus, Minneapolis;
    • Rochester, Minnesota
    • Nebraska Medicine; Omaha, Nebraska
    • North Shore System LIJ/Glen Cove Hospital; Glen Cove, New York
    • Montefiore Health System; New York City, New York
    • New York-Presbyterian/Allen Hospital; New York City, New York
    • NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation/HHC Bellevue Hospital Center; New York City, New York
    • Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital; New Brunswick, New Jersey
    • The Mount Sinai Hospital; New York City, New York
    • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; Galveston, Texas
    • Methodist Hospital System in collaboration with Parkland Hospital System and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; Richardson, Texas
    • University of Virginia Medical Center; Charlottesville, Virginia
    • Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center; Richmond, Virginia
    • Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    • Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin – Froedtert Hospital, Milwaukee; Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    • UW Health – University of Wisconsin Hospital, Madison, and the American Family Children’s Hospital, Madison; Madison, Wisconsin
    • MedStar Washington Hospital Center; Washington, D.C.
    • Children’s National Medical Center; Washington, D.C.
    • George Washington University Hospital; Washington, D.C.

    The post ‘Ebola treatment centers’ now in place at 35 U.S. hospitals appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    As Ashton Carter emerges as President Obama’s likely nominee for defense secretary, we dug up some old interviews from the NewsHour archives. If nominated and confirmed by the Senate, Carter would replace Chuck Hagel, who resigned last week.

    In the past three years, the NewsHour interviewed the former deputy defense secretary several times, mostly about budget cuts imposed on defense spending.

    On August 6, 2013, Ray Suarez interviewed Carter as the Pentagon pushed back against what some Pentagon officials described as “crippling budget cuts.” Carter, who led the budget review at the Pentagon, sharply criticized sequestration. Steep cuts, he argued then, could compromise training and lead to decisions that are not strategically sound.

    “Staying good at countering terrorism” is a priority, he told Ray in the same interview. “This problem of terrorism, you know, al-Qaida and so forth, is something that is going to be part of our strategic future — and that’s one of the things we considered in the review — as long as there’s human society.”

    Seven months earlier, in January 2012, NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown interviewed Carter on a similar topic. He talked then about cutting back ground forces and weapons systems, along with possible base closings.

    “National defense isn’t a partisan matter,” Carter said then about the cuts. “It’s something that touches us all. We’re just trying to be as honest and straightforward and analytical as we can, so that we make this huge adjustment, which is forced on us by the Budget Control Act, in the most sensible way, so that it has the least impact on our national defense. It’s still a dangerous world. We need a strong national defense. We’re just trying to do it all in a smart way.”

    And from an interview a month after that with Judy Woodruff, he said national security was at stake:

    “We ought to constantly be asking ourselves, ‘What kind of defense do we need? How much should we spend? Are we using our defense dollars wisely?’ And the answer is, not in all cases are we. And, you know, that is something that I think we need to constantly keep pressure on.”

    The New York Times reported that the president may announce Carter as his choice later in the week.

    The post Meet Ashton Carter, likely defense secretary nominee appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Atlantic City has changed since its heyday, when it served as the model for the Monopoly board. NewsHour still image.

    Atlantic City has changed since its heyday, when it served as the model for the Monopoly board. NewsHour still image.

    Atlantic City was once known as “America’s favorite playground,” and has been referred to (retrospectively) as the “boardwalk empire.” But the glitzy resort city where generations have reveled is seeing a downturn in tourism from its glory days. Its lifeblood, the casino industry, has taken a back seat to competitors in New York and Pennsylvania.

    When Atlantic City’s economy soared in the early 20th century, the Parker Brothers used the city’s layout as the foundation for the now-classic board game, Monopoly.

    Walking around the city now, it’s obvious to locals what has changed since Atlantic City’s Monopoly days. But if you’re not from Atlantic City, the original Parker Brothers’ board serves as a helpful guide for just how much things have changed.

    According to Vicky Gold Levi, co-founder of the Atlantic City Historical Museum, the neighborhoods sectioned off by color on the board have been transformed.

    Many of the cheaper properties on the board (the brown, light blue and magenta rectangles) have fallen behind. Places like Pacific Avenue have deteriorated, and Atlantic Avenue, once the best shopping street in Atlantic City’s heyday, has bowed to an outlet mall. The new six-block shopping district doesn’t even exist on the streets on the board.

    “The city has changed its ‘dimensionality’ over the years,” Levi said. “There’s now neighborhoods that aren’t so great that were homey neighborhoods. There are slums and nice areas right next to each other.”

    Another thing that has blurred the lines of certain neighborhoods is the city’s growing diversity. Areas that used to be predominately African American or Jewish have seen growth in Vietnamese, Bangladeshi and Hispanic neighbors.

    One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the value of the Monopoly board’s highest-priced properties.

    “The boardwalk has always been the artery of the city. It’s always flourished even in dark times,” said Levi. “They say ‘location, location, location.’ Here, it’s ‘ocean, commotion and don’t forget the sun lotion!’”

    Watch Paul Solman’s report on Atlantic City’s dying casino industry below.

    And don’t miss Paul’s previous encounter with Monopoly in our “Money on the Mind” video:

    The post Does Monopoly’s Atlantic City still exist? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    ABC News, in partnership will Facebook, will broadcast the first ever social media newscast, anchored by ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Starting this week, Facebook users may have noticed “Facecast,” a one-minute video update of world news hosted by ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir. The partnership is the first of its kind — a short newscast exclusively for a social media site.

    According to a press release from ABC News, “Facecast: The One Thing” will air every weekday and feature global news and trending topics. Yesterday’s debut covered the St. Louis Rams players’ response to Ferguson and Cyber Monday sales, and garnered about 60,000 views within its first two hours, according to MediaBistro.. While Facecast is still in its beginning stages, MediaBistro noted that a recent Facebook event hosted by George Stephanopoulos to answer viewer questions about Ebola had more than 10 million viewers, a stark difference to yesterday’s Facecast.

    The newscast is filmed in ABC’s New York offices and may be the start of other journalism and social media partnerships. “A newscast produced for the mobile use case is a great way to leverage Facebook’s platform and engage people in the journalism ABC News is known for,” said Andy Mitchell, ABC’s director of news and global media partnerships.

    The post Facebook and ABC News launch first social media newscast appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Side by side view of skull found in parking lot believed to be King Richard III of England. Image from the University of Leicester, portrait in National Portrait Gallery, London.

    British scientists have determined with nearly 100 percent accuracy that the remains of lying under a municipal parking lot in the central English city of Leicester belonged to King Richard III of England.(L) The skull found in a parking lot believed to be King Richard III. Image from the University of Leicester. (R) Late 16th century portrait of King Richard III in London’s National Portrait Gallery.

    A 500-year-old cold case is nearing its conclusion. British scientists have determined with “99.999 percent” accuracy that the remains of King Richard III of England really were lying under a municipal parking lot in the central English city of Leicester. Over the centuries his grave was lost, but in 2012 an ambitious project to find it was launched by the University of Leicester. Incredibly, and in short order, his bones were unearthed at the former site of Greyfriars Abbey, where he was interred after his death in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

    Image from the University of Leicester

    Image from the University of Leicester

    Research scientists extracted genetic material and put it through rigorous DNA analysis. Their most recent findings were published in the journal Nature Communications. They compared their samples to DNA collected from living relatives. The tests found a link to a modern-day niece of Richard III, Wendy Duldig who is 18 times removed, and Michael Ibsen, a nephew 16 times removed. It also points to a new mystery of possible infidelity in the family tree. DNA passed down on the maternal side matches these living relatives, but it does not match on the paternal side.

    Genetics expert Dr. Turi King led the research effort and said, “Even with our highly conservative analysis, the evidence is overwhelming that these are indeed the remains of King Richard III.” A leading British historian has called the findings into question. Michael Hicks, formerly the head of history at the University of Winchester, said “It tells us that the two modern relatives share the same mitochondrial DNA as the bones, not that the bones belong to Richard III.”

    Richard reigned for two years, from 1483 to 1485 and was the last English monarch to die in battle. Researchers determined he was probably killed by a blow to his bare head. Using genetic markers, they also found Richard probably had blond hair and blue eyes.

    Watch University of Leicester scientists remove one of the skull’s teeth for DNA analysis here:


    The post DNA all but confirms 500-year-old bones are King Richard III’s appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    GWEN IFILL: Finally: new questions about how the Federal Reserve supervises big banks.

    ProPublica and public radio’s “This American Life” have produced reports focusing on the role of a former supervisor from the New York Fed, Carmen Segarra, who was monitoring Goldman Sachs. Segarra was placed inside the bank, as required by law, but she also made secret audio recordings that seemed to show other Fed officials were going too soft on Goldman, including over a deal one regulator called legal, but shady.

    Segarra was fired a few months later. The Fed has denied any connection, but said it will conduct its own review.

    Those issues were the subject of a recent Senate hearing with New York Fed President William Dudley.

    Jake Bernstein helped break the initial story for ProPublica.

    Judy spoke with him recently.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Jake Bernstein, welcome.

    So, tell us more about what has sparked interest in the Fed all over again and how it does its job.

    JAKE BERNSTEIN, ProPublica: Sure.

    The genesis of this is really a bank examiner who was at the Fed in 2011 and 2012. She was fired after about seven months on the job. But before she was fired, she secretly recorded hours, approximately 46 hours, of meetings of her on the job with her colleagues and at the bank that she was supervising, which happened to be Goldman Sachs.

    We got access to those recordings and have written some stories based on them.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And how does the Fed explain it? As we mentioned before, they seemed to suggest the Fed going soft on Goldman Sachs. How — is that a fair interpretation? And how does the Fed explain it?

    JAKE BERNSTEIN: Well, what is interesting is that that is not our interpretation, or simply our interpretation, because, in 2009, the Fed brought in an outside consultant to do a top-to-bottom review of their supervisory practices involving big banks.

    And this outside consultant found that the New York Fed was too deferential to the banks it was supervising and that there was a climate of fear. I mean, he basically said that the culture of the New York Fed was the biggest obstacle to completing its mission.

    And so we sort of used that as a baseline to then look at what these recordings showed. And what they seemed to demonstrate was that not a lot had changed since that consultant’s report in 2009.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And how does the Fed defend its actions?

    JAKE BERNSTEIN: The president of the New York Fed, Bill Dudley, said in a Senate hearing, you should judge us on the fact that the banking system is stronger since the financial crisis, that there hasn’t been another crisis since 2008, and that we are — that is evidence that we are doing a better job.

    But there have been a number of incidents, not just our reporting, but other people’s reporting and a Senate report, that have pointed to problems still existing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, and, as we also mentioned, we know now the Fed has announced it’s conducting its own internal investigation of how it — how it deals with the big banks, how its own examiners deal.

    What is the genesis of that? What’s expected to come out of that?

    JAKE BERNSTEIN: That’s a very good question.

    They will not say what the genesis of it is, but it seems clear that it is the result of these media reports, ours in particular, that sort of prompted this. There are going to be two investigations, one internal by the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C., and one by the inspector general. They will be parallel, but overlapping.

    And they’re going to be looking at the Fed’s — the regional banks, not just the New York Fed, but the other regional bank — Fed banks that supervisor big banks, Richmond Fed, the San Francisco Fed, some of the others, and they’re going to be looking at how they do their supervision of these big banks.

    And particularly they’re going to be looking at whether, when examiners find things, they are able to communicate that to the higher-ups, and the higher-ups actually act on it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, does it appear, Jake Bernstein, that the Fed may be headed toward some reforms in the way its bank examiners operate and how they view their conflicts of — potential conflicts of interest?

    JAKE BERNSTEIN: There seems to be gathering steam in that direction.

    I mean, only time will only tell if it actually happens, but there has been a bill introduced in the Senate that would make the president of the New York Fed a nominated position by the president and confirmed by the Senate. That seems to have a little bit of energy behind it. And then you have these two investigations.

    So I think that there is sort of a gathering movement for it, you know, recognizing that there’s the need for some reform, and that reform could very well happen.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And — and what about the role the U.S. Congress is playing in all of this?


    I mean, I think that the Federal Reserve Board is one of those things that unites the left and the right. They sort of approach it from different places. You know, the Republicans are a little bit more concerned about monetary policy. The Democrats are a little bit more concerned about supervision.

    But I think they’re both concerned about transparency and whether there is sufficient oversight over the Fed’s operations. And I think there could be a meeting of the mind in the next Congress about that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Jake Bernstein, who did this reporting for ProPublica, we thank you.

    JAKE BERNSTEIN: No, thank you.

    The post Cozy relationship between Fed and big banks draws scrutiny appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    GWEN IFILL: Whether it’s hurricanes, a health scare, or a cyber-attack, communities and institutions bounce back only if they can prepare for the unpredictable.

    That’s the topic of a new book called “The Resilience Dividend” by Judith Rodin, who’s also the president of the Rockefeller Foundation.

    I sat down with her recently at the Miami Book Fair.

    What is resilience?

    JUDITH RODIN, Author, “The Resilience Dividend”: Well, somewhere in the world, at least once a week, there is a storm or a new epidemic people hadn’t heard about six months before, civil unrest, a cyber-attack.

    And in this age of so much unpredictability and so much turmoil, we need to shift our paradigm. And so we are very much focused now in the United States and around the world on relief and recovery, and not enough on preparedness and readiness.

    And let me tell you just one short story. And I think it will make the point about preparedness. Boston, for at least six or seven years, had been rehearsing for something to go wrong, whether it was a terrorist attack or a violent storm or flooding. They didn’t know what it would be.

    And, of course, none of us know what it will be. So this is about readiness for any kind of disruption makes you better ready for every disruption.

    GWEN IFILL: In Boston’s case, it was about the Boston Marathon bombing…

    JUDITH RODIN: Right.

    GWEN IFILL: … something which, even though you say they were preparing, for some reason, that kind of disruption, you’re still completely unprepared.

    JUDITH RODIN: But they brought together all the elements of government. They brought together communications companies and water companies and transit companies and all of the medical responders precisely because they didn’t know what it was, and they had a plan, so that they really knew who was on first.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, now, think about the word resiliency. I think about it as bouncing back. Does this mean that there always has to be a disaster involved?

    JUDITH RODIN: No, because, obviously, this is about planning in case something goes wrong.

    The idea here is that not every disruption has to become a disaster. The dividend that I talk about is really the investment in preparedness that pays off whether or not something going goes wrong. And that’s the ambition.

    GWEN IFILL: So much of the disasters or the disruptions that you write about in the book have to do with water, and I think of Katrina. That’s a case in which we would be hard put to say that that city, that New Orleans, that the Gulf Coast was terribly resilient or prepared.

    JUDITH RODIN: It is very clear that New Orleans was completely unprepared.

    Think about all of the elements that made them dysfunctional, a great deal of poverty, being — having housing in areas that were totally vulnerable to floodplains, even if the levees had not broken, a very dysfunctional city government, and very high rates of crime.

    It will be 10 years next year since Katrina. And I was in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago, and they used their recovery to revitalize in the most profound and really elegant way. They took over all their public schools, and the schoolchildren’s performance now is truly extraordinary. They completely diversified their economy. Diversity is such an important component of resilience, because it gives you strength.

    GWEN IFILL: When you talk about diversity, you have a different definition that would leap to mind for many people when they talk about diversity.

    JUDITH RODIN: So, it is both, actually. One of the elements of resiliency is diversity. And, typically, we think about that as redundancy. And redundancy is critical.

    I will give you another example from the book. And that is many people will remember the debacle of Lululemon’s yoga pants in 2011, when they were so unbelievably sheer. Well, they lost $2 billion of market caps — cap, and they had many, many lawsuits and of course lost consumer confidence.

    What was wrong is that they were relying on a single manufacturer for a single source of that fabric from a single kind of fiber. So, redundancy in that sense is really very critical.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, here’s another example. In Japan, the Fukushima disaster ultimately was conceded to be a disaster made in Japan.

    JUDITH RODIN: Well, I talk about Fukushima and analyze it deeply in the book because they had for the first time a post-situation commission.

    It’s the first time in the history of modern Japan that they have ever been willing to publicly analyze what went wrong. So there’s a wealth of data. And part of it, they absolutely attribute to their culture, the culture of acquiescing, the culture of not being willing to call out something that goes wrong, the culture of not being able to be adaptable and flexible.

    But there’s a positive example from Japan, Toyota. Toyota lost almost 700 plants and 370,000 cars, so they slipped from number one car producer in the world to number four. But Toyota has this amazing culture. They rebounded very quickly, and they revitalized. And two years later, while Japan is still reeling economically, Toyota is again the number one car producer.

    GWEN IFILL: But isn’t it a natural human instinct to not to want to acknowledge risk, let alone plan for it?

    JUDITH RODIN: I’m a psychologist, and I would argue that we need to acknowledge potential risk or potential failure in order to cope better, and that that’s something we need to teach our children to do more effectively.

    It’s really easy to learn how to succeed. It’s harder to learn how to fail. And part of resilience-building is learning how to fail safely, and not catastrophically, whether you’re a person or a city or a business. That’s, in a way, what this is really all about. So we are building core elements of strength when we are building resilience in people, in institutions, and in our cities.

    GWEN IFILL: Judith Rodin, thank you very much.

    JUDITH RODIN: Thank you, Gwen.

    GWEN IFILL: And thank you all.


    JUDITH RODIN: Thank you all.


    The post New book examines how preparing for disaster is key to bouncing back appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    GWEN IFILL: The number of students fleeing Philadelphia’s troubled neighborhood schools has almost tripled in the past decade. This year, 70,000 students are choosing charter schools instead.

    Tonight, special correspondent for education John Merrow looks at what the city schools are doing to fight back.

    JOHN MERROW: Philadelphia cannot force students to attend their neighborhood schools, so the system is trying to make them more appealing by copying other successful schools, like Science Leadership Academy.

    STUDENT: It makes noise. So, we said that it teaches, like, cause and effect.

    JOHN MERROW: This school relies on project-based learning. Students work in teams doing real-world research. These seniors are exploring how a baby’s brain develops by designing toys for them.

    MAN: You will need to research what’s going on in the brain of an 8-to-12-month-old.

    JOHN MERROW: Test scores at this public school are among the highest in the city, but it is not open to everyone. It sets admission standards and rejects nine out of every 10 applicants.

    Philadelphia’s challenge, can an innovative curriculum be successful in schools that accept all comers and all skill levels?

    WILLIAM HITE, Superintendent, The School District of Philadelphia: We believe it can. And we believe it can because it has.

    JOHN MERROW: William Hite, Philadelphia’s superintendent, acknowledges the obstacles and challenges, including finding teachers and principals who are willing to try something new. And, he says, that’s not all.

    WILLIAM HITE: One additional obstacle is a true belief that all children can succeed.

    JOHN MERROW: Who doesn’t believe these kids can learn?

    WILLIAM HITE: I think some of the adults who are working with them, many — some of the community members who are in, some of the individuals who are leading special admit schools.

    JOHN MERROW: The superintendent said there are people in Philadelphia who do not believe that kids like this are capable of learning.

    NEIL GEYETTE, Principal, U School: That’s exactly right. And that’s exactly the belief. These young people themselves don’t believe that they can do it. And so something is happening where young people aren’t being given opportunities and being trusted to demonstrate success.

    JOHN MERROW: I told some of principal Geyette’s students what the adults were saying.

    How does that make you feel, that statement?

    JADE SNAITH: I feel offended. I feel like they’re belittling me as a person. They say kids like you don’t have the ability to learn. And that’s basically discouraging me, instead of encouraging me, to want to fight and go to college, and do things that kids like us don’t do.

    JOHN MERROW: These ninth graders have an opportunity to prove the naysayers wrong. They’re now attending the U School, a neighborhood no-admission-test high school that’s following an innovative path.

    STUDENT: I’m from a loving mother and a ghost of a father.

    STUDENT: I am colored skin. I am sick and I am hungry.

    JOHN MERROW: The U School is one of three innovative public schools that opened this fall. Here, everything is project-based. In English class, students wrote poems about themselves and their world. Now they are turning their poems into video presentations.

    SAM REED, Teacher: You need to decide who’s going to be the producer.

    JOHN MERROW: Teacher Sam Reed has high hopes and big plans for his students.

    SAM REED: You’re like, what are the problems here at our school, what are problems in the community at large, and how do we highlight those, those problems through creating blogs, through creating podcasts, through creating visual infographics?

    JOHN MERROW: These students weren’t exactly beating down the doors to try project-based learning.

    STUDENT: This was kind of my backup plan to come here.

    STUDENT: I could have went to my neighborhood school, but my mom wanted me to come here.

    JOHN MERROW: Once they got here, students found something else that made the U School different.

    JADE SNAITH: Everybody learns at their own pace. So if I’m quicker than Chauncey, I will be able to keep going, instead of waiting for him to come to my level, or vice versa.

    DESTINY PEDRACA: My friends, they want to come. They want to join this school.


    DESTINY PEDRACA: Because they like how we learn. They like that we get to learn at our own pace.

    JOHN MERROW: Class projects are divided into a series of goals, entered on the school’s computer network. Each time a student achieves a goal, the teacher grades the work, and the student moves on to the next. Programs like this one track student progress.

    JADE SNAITH: You have to make a goal plan. So it will say, I want to get task one through three done in this time span, and you have to keep up with it.

    JOHN MERROW: Principal Neil Geyette and his teachers strive to make U School a nurturing environment. When kids misbehave, instead of punishments being handed out, teachers and students come together to explore what went wrong and what can be done to prevent future occurrences.

    DESTINY PEDRACA: So let’s say I had a bad day. We can talk, and they can help me out with that. So it’s, like, a caring community.

    JOHN MERROW: A caring community?

    DESTINY PEDRACA: Yes, like, we all care. We don’t leave anybody behind.

    JOHN MERROW: Contrast that approach with the message that greets students at this neighborhood school every morning: “Unexcused absences are unlawful, punishable by a ride to the truancy center.”

    Principal Geyette knows from experience that threatening kids does not work.

    NEIL GEYETTE: They’re removed. They come back. The teacher and the student never have a conversation about it, and everybody pretends like it doesn’t happen, right? And so the step — the first step for us was to get young people to own — try to get — start to get young people to own what they’re doing.

    JOHN MERROW: Ownership means taking responsibility for what they’re doing. Principal Geyette’s second step? Give students a chance to show who they are and what they can do — in their video presentations, for example.

    STUDENT: We are from mouth-watering cheese steaks, creamy milk shakes, and salty fries.

    STUDENT: We are from strong single mothers. We are from the U School, where my fellow classmates want to become something great.

    JOHN MERROW: Superintendent Hite is giving his innovative schools five years to make a go of it, and he wants to open more every year. However, keeping up with charter schools will be a challenge. More than 40 organizations have applied to open new charter schools in Philadelphia next year.

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    GWEN IFILL: The House and Senate are back in Washington for the final weeks of the 113th Congress. Big-ticket items, from financing government to tax breaks for corporations and classroom teachers, remain up in the air.

    Lisa Desjardins reports on the high-stakes to-do list, as Republicans and Democrats alike debate deadlines.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Crowded halls, a crowded agenda and a bit of frenzy have taken over the U.S. Capitol.

    REP. PAUL RYAN: I’m running late for something.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Late and not much time left. House Republicans are trying to leverage their election momentum in these final weeks of this Congress with a big and critical to-do list: reauthorizing Defense Department spending, funding the fights against Ebola and Islamic State militants, and extending dozens of tax breaks which expired last year.

    Among those tax breaks, billions of dollars for corporations to promote things like research. The package also includes tax breaks for teachers to buy supplies, as well as — get this — special provisions for NASCAR and some incentives for mass transit.

    That’s the relatively easy stuff. Both the House and Senate are poised to extend those tax breaks for one year. The White House is thinking about it. But things could get dicier when the federal government runs out of funds next week. Republicans insist that they will fund almost all of government at current levels, but they are hotly debating a way to limit one thing, the president’s executive orders protecting more illegal immigrants from deportation.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER, Speaker of the House: This is a serious breach of our Constitution. It’s a serious threat to our system of government. And, frankly, we have limited options and limited abilities to deal with it directly. But that’s why we’re continuing to talk to our members.

    LISA DESJARDINS: House Republicans, led by Speaker Boehner, are fuming, and considering a creative option, fund most of government for the next year, but fund the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration, only until March, and potentially try to cut funds for that agency.

    The man who oversees those funds, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, objected to the Republican idea today at a House hearing, charging it could be freeze vital things like new agent hires.

    JEH JOHNSON, Secretary of Homeland Security: I need the help of Congress to support and build upon border security, which I believe all of you support. So I’m urging that we act on our current appropriations requests now for the purpose and for the sake of border security and homeland security.

    LISA DESJARDINS: For now, House Republicans are debating their plan. The president is debating a veto, and all of Congress is wondering if this to-do list can be done in the two weeks officially left on the calendar.

    Lisa Desjardins, “PBS NewsHour.”

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    GWEN IFILL: Now to a funding crisis at the United Nations’s World Food Program. Yesterday, the organization announced that it can no longer provide food vouchers to more than a million-and-a-half Syrian refugees, even as winter approaches.

    At a makeshift camp in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley last week, a Syrian refugee, one of 1,000 at this location, grimly assessed conditions after winter storms hammered the place where she’s lived for a year.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): These tents don’t keep us warm. Even when lit, the heaters don’t keep us warm. I survive only thanks to the U.N. food vouchers. I don’t get anything else.

    GWEN IFILL: But now those vouchers, a vital lifeline to so many, have been suspended by the U.N.’s World Food Program because of a severe cash shortage. That means 1.7 million Syrians living in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq face an immediate food shortage.

    They’re part of an estimated 3.2 million Syrians spread across the Middle East. The WFP says donor countries failed to meet financial commitments, and it warned today of potentially dire consequences.

    JANE HOWARD, Public Information officer, World Food Programme: We are expecting that people will maybe have to send their children out to work. They will have to skip meals. They will have to do without food. And what we are worried about is that some may even feel that they are forced to go back to Syria, even though their towns and villages are not necessarily safe.

    GWEN IFILL: The U.N. agency got a cash infusion from the U.S. last week to cover November’s voucher operation. But it needs another $64 million for December. It’s the latest hard blow to refugees like this woman from Syria’s northwestern Idlib province.

    KHALDIYEH MOHAMMAD ABBAS, (through interpreter): This is unfair. The Syrians do not deserve this. We fled our country from the ongoing war and hunger, and became refugees here. I have patience for one day without food, but my son cannot.

    GWEN IFILL: The World Food Program also assists four million people inside Syria, and that program will run out of money in February.

    I spoke earlier today with Muhannad Hadi, the World Food Program’s regional emergency coordinator. He was in Amman, Jordan.

    Muhannad Hadi, thank you so much for joining us.

    I want to start by asking about the suspension of the voucher program. How did we get to suspension?

    MUHANNAD HADI, Regional Emergency Coordinator, World Food Programme: Well, basically, the suspension is a decision that the World Food Program has to take, simply for the lack of — for the lack of funding.

    It’s a decision we were forced to take, unfortunately. And, as a result, we have more than 1.7 — more than 1.7 million people, refugees, lacking food this month, and the months after, if the situation doesn’t change.

    GWEN IFILL: What is the value of food vouchers or these debit — this debit card system, as opposed to just handing out food directly to the recipients?

    MUHANNAD HADI: The most important thing about this voucher program, that it keeps the dignity, it retains the dignity of the refugees, and it puts the decisions in their hands. They’re the ones who decide from where to do their shopping, what to buy.

    It gives the mothers the right to decide what do they want to feed their children on any night for dinner. And it also resolves issues of protection and a lot of tension between local communities and the refugees. So it’s a preferred option. And this is the best way to serve the refugees in such circumstances.

    GWEN IFILL: So explain the shortfall to me. Is it because they’re not — there’s not enough money being pledged or not enough pledges being fulfilled?

    MUHANNAD HADI: Mainly not enough pledges being fulfilled.

    As we know, in Kuwait conference, pledging conference, more than $2 billion were pledged, but, unfortunately, I think 40 percent of that has been committed. And we are running a big program in Syria. I mean, in Syria and in the neighboring countries, every — every month, we feed four million people inside Syria, in addition to approximately two million refugees in neighboring countries.

    That’s a big program. We’re talking about six million people the World Food Program feeds every month. And on that, we need approximately $35 million a week to do this operation. This month only and in order to resume the operation for the refugees, we need $64 million immediately, but the beauty of the program that we have, if we get the money tonight.

    But the beauty of the program that we have, if we get the money tonight, by tomorrow morning, we can charge and load the cards of the refugees, and they can start their grocery shopping as of tomorrow, so they will not miss a meal if we get funds immediately.

    GWEN IFILL: Who are you counting on to fill this gap?  Are we talking about donor nations?  Are we talking about corporations, individuals?

    MUHANNAD HADI: Well, we’re talking — we’re counting on everybody.

    We’re counting on the United States. We’re counting on the big donors. And we’re also counting on the regional countries. We’re also approaching the GCC countries, Saudi Arabia, and everybody else. The crisis in Syria is not about Syria only and not even about the region anymore. It’s become an international crisis.

    It has taken so long and the suffering of the people has also — has also increased. We are counting that the international community standing will stand by the Syrian people. The Syrian — the Syrian problem, the Syrian conflict is a political conflict. We are doing a humanitarian solution, in absence of a political solution.

    And that’s why the humanitarian solution must be supported by the international community until the Syrian problem is resolved.

    GWEN IFILL: But is there a connection to be made between food insecurity and stability, political stability in Syria and beyond?

    MUHANNAD HADI: Right now, people have no choice.

    The people who we are — whom we are feeding are totally dependent on the World Food Program to feed them, simply because they have no job opportunities. Their livelihoods have been destroyed. They’re either displaced within their own countries or refugees living in camps or in makeshift shelters or informal settlements in neighboring countries.

    They have no access to the labor market. It’s — their lives have been destroyed. And until that situation is rectified somehow, the humanitarian operations must remain to support the Syrian people.

    GWEN IFILL: Muhannad Hadi, the regional emergency coordinator for the World Food Program in Syria, thank you so much.

    MUHANNAD HADI: Thank you.

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    GWEN IFILL: President Obama may be ready to announce his nominee for secretary of defense later this week. It was widely reported today that Ashton Carter will be the choice, after he’s thoroughly vetted. He served as deputy defense secretary from October 2011 to December 2013.

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest wouldn’t confirm the reports, but he spoke highly of Carter.

    JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: He’s somebody that certainly deserves and has demonstrated strong bipartisan support for his previous service in government. He is somebody that does have a detailed understanding of the way that the Department of Defense works. So, I think it’s for all these reasons that it’s been widely reported that Mr. Carter has been on the short list.

    GWEN IFILL: Chuck Hagel resigned as defense secretary last week, highlighting ongoing tensions between the Pentagon and the White House.

    There’s word today a woman who’s married to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is being held in Lebanon. Authorities in Beirut say the woman and a boy who may be Baghdadi’s son were detained near a border crossing with Syria. The officials suggested they may be swapped for more than 20 Lebanese soldiers and police held by Islamic State militants.

    In Kenya, Al-Shabab militants have carried out a new mass killing of non-Muslims. This time, the victims were 36 workers at a quarry. Police loaded the bodies onto trucks after the massacre near the border with Somalia. Al-Shabab said the attack was in retaliation for the presence of Kenyan troops inside Somalia. But Kenya’s president insisted the troops will not be withdrawn.

    PRESIDENT UHURU KENYATTA, Kenya: We will not flinch or relent in the war against terrorism in our country and our region. We shall continue to inflict painful casualties on these terrorists until we secure our country and region. Our stability and prosperity depends on a secure neighborhood.

    GWEN IFILL: The president also fired the interior minister and accepted the resignation of his national police chief.

    Canada today warned its citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately for their own safety. In the last few weeks, Afghan insurgents have increasingly targeted foreigners, killing four since last Friday. The Canadian statement said the threat is extremely high.

    Israel’s governing coalition crumbled today, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired two cabinet ministers and called for early elections. Longstanding tensions came to a head over a bill defining Israel as the Jewish state. The two centrist ministers charged it would discriminate against Israeli Arabs. In a televised address, Netanyahu rejected their criticism.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel (through interpreter):
    In one word, that is called putsch. And that makes it impossible to run a government. That makes it impossible to lead a country. Therefore, also due to the necessity to ensure a stable and proper conduct of government, I decided to push forward legislation to dissolve the Knesset and go to election as soon as possible.

    GWEN IFILL: The early elections put the Israeli government in political limbo amid growing violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

    Three founders of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement called today for protesters to retreat. The leaders also said they’re turning themselves in. The protests demanding free elections in 2017 have paralyzed the city center for two months, and triggered violent clashes with police.

    Back in this country, about 100 buildings in downtown Detroit lost power for much of the day, after a major cable failure. The lights went out around 10:30 in the morning, forcing public schools to dismiss students at midday. The bankrupt city’s mayor, Mike Duggan, said the power grid run by the Public Lighting Department, or PLD, has not been modernized in decades.

    MAYOR MIKE DUGGAN, Detroit: Today is another reminder of how much work we still have to do to rebuild this city. And a bankruptcy order doesn’t solve the decades of neglect in our infrastructure and that’s what we saw today in the PLD system.

    GWEN IFILL: Power was fully restored by late this afternoon.

    Thirty-five U.S. hospitals have been officially designated Ebola treatment centers, should the need arise. The Department of Health and Human Services released the list today. Most of the hospitals are in major cities, and have the best-trained staff and essential equipment. The announcement came as President Obama visited the National Institutes of Health to highlight progress toward an Ebola vaccine.

    A federal report card out today finds U.S. hospitals are making fewer serious mistakes. Errors dropped 17 percent between 2010 and 2013. As a result, 50,000 fewer patients died and $12 billion in health care costs was saved.

    In economic news, Chicago’s City Council voted to increase the city’s minimum wage nearly $5 to $13 an hour by 2019. It affects about 400,000 workers. And automakers reported surging sales in November. Chrysler led the way with a gain of 20 percent.

    The upbeat news on auto sales and on construction helped Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 102 points to close at 17879. The Nasdaq rose 28 points to close at 4755. And the S&P 500 added 13 to finish at 2066. 

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    On Nov. 22, 2014, UVA's President, Teresa Sullivan announced the suspension of fraternity social activities until Jan. 9, after a detailed publication of campus sexual assault.

    On Nov. 22, 2014, UVA’s President, Teresa Sullivan announced the suspension of fraternity social activities until Jan. 9, after a detailed publication of campus sexual assault.

    Last month, Rolling Stone magazine published an article detailing the gang rape of a University of Virginia freshman, Jackie, by seven men in one of the campus’ fraternity houses and the university’s failure to investigate once the attack was reported to an administrator. The piece drew the attention of national news outlets, including the PBS NewsHour and roiled the distingushed school.

    In response, University President Teresa Sullivan announced Greek activity would be suspended at the school through the end of the semester. In a statement posted on the university’s website she wrote that “the wrongs described in Rolling Stone are appalling and have caused all of us to reexamine our responsibility to this community.”

    Now, the reporting behind the graphic telling of Jackie’s rape by Rolling Stone contributing editor Sabrina Rubin Erdely is drawing criticism from many of the same publications that picked up the story when it first came out.

    Last week, a Slate podcast host asked Erdely whether she attempted to contact the men suspected of raping Jackie.

    Erdely’s indirect answer, that she spoke with the chapter president and a national fraternity spokesperson, led Slate to ask follow-up questions of Erdely and her editor. Their conclusion is that the accused men, who are never named in the article, were not contacted at Jackie’s request and Erdely and Rolling Stone staff verified Jackie’s story by talking with her friends.

    Columnists at the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times and others say not contacting the men calls the veracity of the event Erdely’s story is built around into question.

    Erdely and Rolling Stone have not responded to a NewsHour request for an interview. In an email to the Washington Post Erdely wrote:

    “[T]he gang-rape scene that leads the story is the alarming account that Jackie — a person whom I found to be credible — told to me, told her friends, and importantly, what she told the UVA administration, which chose not to act on her allegations in any way — i.e., the overarching point of the article. THAT is the story: the culture that greeted her and so many other UVA women I interviewed, who came forward with allegations, only to be met with indifference.”

    The questions raised about Erdely’s reporting haven’t eased concerns raised at the university about an overboard fraternity culture. Bloomberg reports campus faculty are calling for the fraternity ban to be extended until August.

    The post Critics question why Rolling Stone reporter did not contact men accused of UVA gang rape appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke Wednesday on a New York grand jury’s decision not to indict NYPD police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of unarmed, 43-year-old Eric Garner.

    “This is a national moment of grief,” said de Blasio, “and a national moment of frustration.”

    Mayor de Blasio said that though many honor the tradition that police exist to protect, he acknowledged that “for so many of our young people there is a fear and for so many of our families there is a fear.”

    He added that Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch have pledged that a federal review of the Garner case will be launched.

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    It will take a big rocket to get to Mars, and a big space capsule to protect humans during the months-long journey. It also takes decades of testing and development to plan a mission that will take humans further into space than ever before. NASA’s Orion project, which will launch its first test capsule on Thursday, hopes to put humans on the red planet sometime before 2040.

    Orion Exploration Flight TestThe unmanned Orion test capsule will be launched Thursday aboard the largest rocket platform in the U.S. fleet, a Delta IV. Later missions will be propelled by the new multi-stage rocket dubbed the Space Launch System. In this image, the vehicle undergoes final launch preparations inside the Mobile Service Tower at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37.

    Orion test flightThe unmanned Orion capsule will orbit the Earth twice, once at a distance of 3,600 miles above the Earth, before re-entering Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 20,000 miles per hour. This is a key test for the spacecraft, which NASA hopes to use to send astronauts to Mars. Image by NASA.

    15744571277_b978b82f9b_oUsing a mockup of the vehicle at Johnson Space Center, spacesuit engineers demonstrate how four crew members would be arranged for launch on future Orion missions. Photo by Robert Markowitz/NASA.

    orion capsule installing heat shieldEngineers install a heat shield on the Orion spacecraft on June 5, 2014. On its test flight, the capsule will orbit Earth twice, reentering Earth’s atmosphere at temperatures of 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Returning from Mars, the future capsules will have to withstand 6,000 degrees. Photo by Daniel Casper/NASA

    15311714397_a69e13b02b_o Thursday’s test flight will carry a live, but unmanned crew module, and the exercise will enable NASA to test many systems inside the Orion craft. Photo by NASA

    15054409130_b6738c30b9_oAfter its flight, the space capsule will parachute into the pacific ocean for retrieval by ship. NASA tested Orion’s seaworthiness and capsule retrieval procedures in August, 2014. Photo by NASA

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    Two mothers in California go into labor at the same moment and head for the hospital. Both pregnancies are low-risk. Both will be first-time mothers. They’re identical in almost every way.

    But their stories differ in one major way: They choose different hospitals. And the differences in care they receive can impact their health — and the health of their child — for years to come.

    New analysis from the California Hospital Assessment and Reporting Taskforce found shocking variations in performance for four measures of maternity care. The California Healthcare Foundation turned their conclusions into the infographic below.

    A Tale of Two Births

    The data included mothers who delivered a single baby in a head-down position after 37 weeks gestational age. All were having their first baby. Read more about the analysis and check out an interactive map of the highest- and lowest-scoring hospitals in California here.

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    Tweed Rides span the globe, from Washington, D.C., to Riga, Latvia. Photos by Lorna Baldwin and Flickr user Māris Greidāns.

    “Tweed Rides” span the globe, from Washington, D.C., to Riga, Latvia. Photos by Lorna Baldwin and Flickr user Māris Greidāns.

    Tweed, once a staple of the British landed gentry, is taking off on the path of rebirth and reinvention. It graces runways in Paris and New York. It adorns Hollywood A-listers from Benedict Cumberbatch to Miss Piggy. It’s the reason cyclists gather for “Tweed Rides” around the world, and now it’s even available imbued with the fragrance of whisky.

    An up close look at Harris tweed. Photo by Flickr user Peigi MacLean

    An up close look at Harris tweed. Photo by Flickr user Peigi MacLean.

    Referred to as Clò Mór in Gaelic, “the big cloth” is a rough, handspun woolen fabric originally made in Scotland. Famous for its moisture-resistance and warmth, it quickly gained popularity for outdoor activities like hunting and shooting. It was so ubiquitous by the 1950s that British actress Hermione Gingold was quoted as saying, “Contrary to popular belief, English women do not wear tweed nightgowns.”

    The Western Isles of Scotland have been the heart of the trade since the 18th century. It was Catherine Murray, the Countess of Dunmore who promoted and developed Harris tweed, named for the Isle of Harris, in the 1840s, helping create a market for it in London.

    The nearly deserted beaches of the Isle of Harris. Photo by Flickr user Stuart Herbert.

    The nearly deserted beaches of the Isle of Harris. Photo by Flickr user Stuart Herbert.

    Harris tweed carries its own protection from the British government. The Harris Tweed Act of 1993 states the cloth must be “hand-woven by the islanders of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra in their homes, using pure virgin wool that has been dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.”

    Harris tweed hit its peak production in 1966 with 7.6 million yards. That number declined drastically over the next 40 years and a decade ago it was in danger of disappearing altogether. In 2007, the formation of Harris Tweed Hebrides gave the industry a big boost and brand director Margaret Macleod says after 7 years they now export to 60 countries, accounting for 60 per cent of sales this year. Macleod says Japan is where the company is seeing some of its biggest growth. “Our Japanese customers use the cloth across all types of products, showing a real appreciation for the history and provenance woven into our cloth,” said Macleod.

    Harris tweed comes in a multitude of colors. Photo by Flickr user marcus_jb1973

    Harris tweed comes in a multitude of colors. Photo by Flickr user marcus_jb1973.

    Photo by Flickr user gaspar shieh.

    Photo by Flickr user gaspar shieh.

    Harris Tweed Hebrides is one of three mills currently operating on the islands. Weavers are free to work for any of them or sell independently. Once their cloth is woven, it’s taken to the Harris Tweed Authority where it receives the official Orb stamp — the longest continuous trademark in British history. Kristina Macleod, who represents the Harris Tweed Authority, says there are about 190 weavers, and that seems to be enough to sustain the industry. “Looms are passed down through families, and where you might find the older generation deciding they have had enough of pedaling Harris Tweed looms, they have younger family members that can be trained up to take over and keep those looms going.”

    A loom up close. Image by Flickr user The Croft.

    A loom up close. Image by Flickr user The Croft.

    Harris Tweed Hebrides is also reinventing the idea of the cloth, using technology to create “smart” textiles. Johnnie Walker Black Label, for example, collaborated with the producer to create a line of spirit-scented products that will be launched tonight in Berlin. Developed with Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, tiny micro-capsules fuse with the fabric to maintain the lasting fragrance. Brian Wilson of Harris Tweed Hebrides, said ”It’s not really a whisky smell. It’s the smell of the ingredients, the aroma of the ingredients which make up the nose of the Johnnie Walker Black Label.” Germany, Greece and Belgium will be the initial markets for a range of products by the Milan-based designer Angelo Bratis.

    To learn more about how Harris tweed goes from sheep to shop, watch this video from the Harris Tweed Authority on the cloth’s production.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now the substantial problems that Native Americans in the U.S. face, particularly with education.

    That was the focus of a new report issued today and a meeting President Obama had with Native Americans in Washington. The president announced a series of initiatives to prepare young American Indians for college and the work force.

    They include a push to strengthen tribal control of education on reservations. The Federal Bureau of Indian Education is responsible for educating nearly 50,000 students in 23 states. The high school graduation rate is for Native Americans the lowest of any ethnic or racial group. The bureau is part of the Department of the Interior.

    And Interior Secretary Sally Jewell joins me now.

    Welcome to the “NewsHour.”

    SALLY JEWELL, Secretary of the Interior: Thank you very much.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, we know the problems in the Native American community, they’re deeply entrenched. They go back a long time, to the very beginning of this country. What are just a couple of the ways the administration thinks it can make a real difference?

    SALLY JEWELL: Well, the report that the White House just issued on Native American youth does a very good job of chronicling the challenges.

    And they are deep-seated. They have been around for, not just decades, but literally hundreds of years, policies that tried to kill the Indian to save the man, policies of assimilation, of squishing cultures. And, in so doing, they really diminished the confidence and the pride of Native Americans.

    What the president has done — and he’s charged his Cabinet with this — and this was really powerfully brought home to him in a visit with young people at the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe — is that he doesn’t want to stand by and let this happen anymore.

    So, he’s charged his administration very directly with being part of the solution, with charting a different course. And that’s what we’re doing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And the challenges, we know because of all the attention on it today, facing young Native Americans particularly tough. I was reading that more than a third of them live in poverty. The statistics, we just reported them, are really discouraging.

    First of all, how did it get so bad after all this time? And, again, how can the administration make a real difference this time?

    SALLY JEWELL: Well, the short answer is, there have been reports that have gone back for decades.

    There was a major report under President Kennedy’s leadership on Indian education that showed many of the same problems. And the difference today, and the difference that we believe strongly in, is around turning over control of these schools to tribal leadership and giving them the tools they need to figure out where are the bright spots, what’s going well and why, so that we can help them bring those lessons to their schools, and yet they have accountability.

    You mentioned 23 states. That’s 23 different sets of rules, very, very difficult for us to administer, and a lack of accountability because, you know, we’re a federal bureaucracy. Tribes will hold people accountable for doing the right job for their kids, and that’s the basic premise here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What makes you think that’s going to work?

    SALLY JEWELL: We have some great bright spots out there.

    The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has done a wonderful job with tribal control of schools. They hire a director, reports to the tribal council and the tribal chief. And they have done a great job. And I visited their reservation and I saw it in action.

    I have been to many schools where the kids are wonderful. The kids are curious. The kids don’t know how the deck is stacked against them. And we need to nurture that. And I see individual schools working hard to do that. But I see them doing it in crumbling facilities, and I see them doing that without the kind of support that they need from us.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we know that some Native American leaders point — they point to these years of promise — you mentioned the Kennedy administration — about children getting a better education. They’re saying many of those promises have been broken.

    I was reading today a Minnesota newspaper editorial written on behalf of an Indian reservation. And they said the Obama administration — quote — “has ignored the fundamental need for safe, functional schools.”

    SALLY JEWELL: So, the — in Minnesota, they’re in the middle of a series which I would say is very helpful, because it’s shining a spotlight on the challenges we have.

    Of the schools that I administer through the Bureau of Indian Education, it’s about 183 of them, one — fully one-third of them are considered in poor condition. One of them was a school I visited up there, the Bug O Nay Ge Shig School.


    SALLY JEWELL: None of us would want our kids to go to school there. It’s not safe. It wasn’t designed for that purpose. It’s too cold. It’s too hot. It has no labs for science. It’s not serving children well.

    So we need support in our budget to be able to do that. We need to get creative, which I’m getting, in figuring out what other sources of support might there be, in the private sector, in the philanthropic community, in states, but also stepping up to our obligations as a nation and putting money in the budget to take care of these schools, which we’re obligated to do, but we’re not funded to do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we know it’s a tough set of problems.

    And I want to — I also want to ask you about another part of your portfolio, another test, tough set of issues. And that’s energy. We know both the oil and gas industry and environmentalists separately are very anxiously awaiting final rules on hydraulic fracturing, fracking, on public land.

    The environmentalists say they’re worried this is going to destroy the environment, do terrible damage. The industry is saying, no, if you don’t do fracking, you’re going to cost all these jobs. How do you strike the right balance here?

    SALLY JEWELL: Well, first, I’m an environmentalist, and I’m also a petroleum engineer. I started my career working for Mobil Oil. I have personally fracked wells before.

    So, fracking can be done safely and responsibly, but it needs to be regulated in a modern way, because fracking has gone a long way since I was in the industry. So we’re modernizing our regulations. There are three key things that we’re looking at in the regulations. The most important thing is wellbore integrity.

    If you have got a good wellbore integrity and the fracked fluid has gone where it’s supposed to go, it can unlock resources with a very small footprint on the land. That wasn’t true when I was in the industry. You drilled individual wells as soda straws. Now you can drill directionally and you can frack horizontally.

    But you need to know what’s being put down the hole. You need to have good wellbore integrity. And you need to know what’s happening with the fluids as they come back. And that’s what our regulations are addressing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And — and those are coming out just in the next few weeks, we understand.

    SALLY JEWELL: We haven’t set a date, but we have taken comments twice, over a million comments. And we’re synthesizing those. And we hope to have them released in the relatively near future.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And when they do come out, we hope you will come back and we can talk to you about it.

    SALLY JEWELL: That would be great. Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, thank you.

    SALLY JEWELL: Thank you.

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