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

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    NEW BEGINNING white house meeting with congress

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    GWEN IFILL: More than a dozen Capitol Hill lawmakers from both parties gathered around a table in the White House Cabinet Room today to talk shared priorities and shared difference.

    It was the first face-to-face exchange between President Obama and leaders of the revamped Republican-controlled Congress. The president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both indicated they are in search of compromise.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: On each of these issues, I’m going to be listening to everybody around this table. And I’m hopeful that, with the spirit of cooperation and putting America first, we can be in a position where, at the end of this year, we will be able to look back and say we’re that much better off than we were when we started the year.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, Majority Leader: Our job here in the Senate is to see if we can make some progress for the country right now. And one of the reasons we — the president and I and president in the meeting we had this morning spent our time largely talking about the things we agree on, is that we don’t want to use the fact that there’s an election coming up as a rationale for not making some progress.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner had taken sharp issue with President Obama earlier in the day, but after the meeting, his office released a statement saying both sides had discussed opportunities to work together.

    GWEN IFILL: To talk about today’s meeting and the mind-sets of the leaders in both branches, we are joined by “NewsHour” political director Domenico Montanaro, who is at the White House tonight, and “NewsHour” political editor Lisa Desjardins, who is at the Capitol.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Domenico, let’s start with you.

    What are folks at the White House saying their priorities were for this meeting and for going forward?

    DOMENICO MONTANARO: Well, they’re really hoping that they can find some areas of common ground. They said President Obama brought up some things, like you mentioned. Cyber-security was one thing that was on the table. Tax reform is always something that kind of gets dangled that some of us are kind of skeptical of.

    We listened to Mitch McConnell talk about we don’t want to let an upcoming election get in the way. We just got through an election, but yet they’re already talking about another election coming up. They do think there are some things they can work on, but, remember, the White House has already issued five veto threats on some items, the Keystone pipeline, an item in the Affordable Care Act that they find to be unacceptable.

    And they say that’s Republicans not wanting to compromise, because they — they pushed through some of these what they called recycled, old pieces of legislation that they knew the president would be against.

    GWEN IFILL: Lisa, it’s interesting on Capitol Hill to hear John Boehner so tough earlier in the day and so relatively mild later in the day. Did they actually come away from that meeting having accomplished something, from their point of view?

    LISA DESJARDINS: That was fascinating to listen to. Just a few hours made quite a difference in tone.

    And, yes, Gwen, in fact, talking to Republicans who were in that meeting today, I heard and noticed a couple of similar phrases from them, neutral to warm, things like positive signs, there were lots of discussions, and a lot of opportunities for compromise. Those are the phrases Republicans are using here.

    And I also have to say, I have noticed that the tone here on Capitol Hill has shifted dramatically. Things are not as sharp. There’s not that sense of bitterness that there was just after the midterm elections. So call it a midterm mildness, but it seems like the president is capitalizing on this moment — or trying to — to bring these two forces together.

    All that said, of course, the politics have not changed, even if the tone has. The truth is that, on major issues, like even tax reform and, of course, immigration, other major matters facing this country, the divide may have even increased. In talking the people about what happens next, you can see Republicans sense that voters have moved Congress in more of a direction toward the right and the divide technically may have gotten larger.

    GWEN IFILL: Domenico, we have seen this — we have been here before, where they sound mild when they meet first face to face, and then they go farther and farther apart.

    Was there anything specific that they walked away from today after this meeting that they could point to and say, well, yes, we are doing something?

    DOMENICO MONTANARO: Well, it’s interesting.

    Yes. I think on authorization for use of military force, which isn’t something I think people were thinking about coming in, but when you talk about the politics and just having come out of a midterm, this is something that White House officials said tonight that, look, members of Congress didn’t want to touch this with a 10-foot pole during the election, but now they seem more willing to take this on.

    This is to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and in Syria. But they said, the White House, that President Obama doesn’t want to have to jump in on this alone, and, you know, just kind of give legislation to Congress on this. He wants someone like Mitch McConnell or Bob Corker, who is a Republican senator from Tennessee, to help craft some of this legislation on AUMF, on the authorization for use of military force.

    But, as Lisa says, the politics really have not changed. That’s a very minor thing. And when you think about immigration in particular, that’s going to be a real sticking point.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Lisa, speaking of sticking points, on many of these things, it sounds like they are going to work together, but we know there is one big issue where there is potentially a major impasse that could not only derail that issue, but a lot else along with it.

    LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right.

    By February 27, Congress needs to approve a new budget for the Department of Homeland Security. And we have been sort of picking at this as a theme throughout this entire segment. The issue there is immigration. Congress — Republican congressmen last session wanted to change the president’s policy on immigration. He did this through executive order, so that’s very difficult for Congress to change.

    So they held it — they have changed the Homeland Security budget, so that it would only go until February 27. Now Congress has to figure out how to fund that. And, tomorrow, the House will vote on a special Homeland Security funding bill.

    Gwen and Judy, it’s particularly important to watch, because Republicans will pass several amendments that will try and undercut the president’s immigration policies, especially allowing some undocumented people to stay in the country, including those so-called DREAM Act kids or kids who are part of DACA, the Deferred Action for Children.

    The Republicans will vote against that tomorrow. That will likely passes the House. Here’s the problem, everyone. The House passes its budget. It gets to the Senate. Talking to Senate leaders today, it’s not clear that it has 60 votes. And we could be back to the issue of, how do we fund a major agency of government with just a month-and-a-half to go?

    GWEN IFILL: Domenico, one more question for you. You mentioned early on at the top of this that the president has been vetoing or at least threatening to veto a lot of things. Is that part of the White House strategy, just to be a little in-your-face with members of Congress?

    DOMENICO MONTANARO: Well, look, I think a lot of negotiations, they will say, have started with something like a veto threat, where you say,  this is my position on this, and we’re not going to budge on this.

    They’re not going to roll back their executive actions on immigration, and the bet that they’re making here is that Republicans don’t want to shut down the Department of Homeland Security, which is what would happen February 27 if it’s not funded.

    GWEN IFILL: Domenico Montanaro and Lisa Desjardins on the scene for us tonight on Capitol Hill and the White House, thank you so much.

    DOMENICO MONTANARO: Thank you.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Thank you.

    The post Despite milder tone after White House meeting, immigration may pose political impasse appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo illustration by Getty Images

    Photo illustration by Getty Images

    Couples spend $30,000 on average planning their big day–but new research shows the more you spend, the shorter your marriage will be.

    You’ve planned the bachelor and bachelorette parties, the rehearsal dinner and the day-after brunch. There’s the photo booth, which is a definite necessity these days. And what couple doesn’t have a website designed to share with the world the first time they laid eyes on each other?

    The sane person will certainly agree with sociologist and sexologist Dr. Pepper Schwartz when she says, “The whole thing has gotten way out of hand.” The whole thing being the never-ending list of costly accompaniments that now come along with planning a wedding.

    Yet until Emory University economics professors Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon decided to organize a study last year, no one had paused to question whether this out-of-control spending was having an effect on, well, the actual marriage. Spoiler alert: it does. And it’s not a positive one. Francis and Mialon surveyed more than 3,000 people–all of whom have been married just once–and found that across income levels, the more you dish out on the big day the shorter your marriage will be. Now, that’s a raw deal. A few takeaways from their research:

    • Guys, dropping $2,000 to $4,000 on an engagement ring means you’re 1.3 times more likely to get divorced compared with the more frugal fellows who only allocate $500 to $2,000.
    • For both sexes, spending more than $20,000 on the wedding ups the odds of divorce by 3.5 times compared with couples who keep it between $5,000 and $10,000.
    • For the best odds, though, keep the festivities to less than $1,000.

    According to wedding media company XO Group, the average wedding budget has soared to an all-time high of almost $30,000–and that’s not including the honeymoon. And, 1 in 8 couples spend more than $40,000 on their nuptuals. The wedding industry generates $55 billion a year, research firm IBISWorld calculates. Costs soar as couples increasingly want to demonstrate their commitment with cash. “Advertising has fueled the norm that spending large amounts on the engagement ring and wedding is an indication of commitment or is helpful for a marriage to be successful,” the researchers wrote in an email.

    Francis and Mialon say one possible explanation for their findings is that post-wedding debt can stoke marital tensions. But, as Schwartz is quick to point out, correlation is not the same as causation. She says part of the problem may be that “the wedding has become the highlight rather than the beginning of something.”

    After almost three decades of planning weddings, Kim Horn, whom bridal geeks might recognize from her cameos on the WE network’s My Fair Wedding, agrees. “The focus is not on the relationship and the long-term commitment,” Horn says. Since the 1980s, when Horn first started her career, she feels the industry has become much more hyped. Between bridal magazines and reality TV shows, couples are inundated with advertising, so she says it’s not surprising that average spending has doubled in the last 30 years.

    But there’s still hope if you have your heart set on throwing a huge bash for your wedding day. It may seem contradictory, but while excessive nuptial spending is a hazard to lasting love, a hefty guest list has the opposite effect. So instead of opting for a smaller wedding to save money, simply spend less per person. Rather than renting a photo booth, pick up a couple Polaroid cameras. Or save the $1,000 a DJ charges and try this novel idea: make your own playlist.


    The PBS NewsHour is sharing this story as part of our new partnership with OZY Media.

    The post Why spending less on your wedding could save your marriage appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    frenchPM

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: National leaders in France vowed today to take the fight to Islamist radicals. The call to action came as investigators probed deeper into last week’s terror attacks in Paris, and as the French Parliament paid tribute to the dead.

    It was the National Assembly’s first session since the terror attacks, and lawmakers honored the 17 victims with a moment of silence and with a spontaneous sing of “La Marseillaise,” the country’s national anthem.

    They also listened as Prime Minister Manuel Valls vowed to pursue stricter surveillance of convicted extremists after they’re released. France, he said, has gone to war.

    MANUEL VALLS, Prime Minister, France (through interpreter): Yes, France is at war against terrorism, jihadism, and radical Islamism. It’s not against religion. France is not at war against Islam and Muslims.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Lawmakers underscored that resolve, voting 488-1 to continue military operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq. One of the Paris gunmen, Amedy Coulibaly, claimed allegiance to the Islamic State. The others, Cherif and Said Kouachi, said they acted on behalf of al-Qaida’s Yemen branch.

    New footage emerged today of the brothers’ attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper office, where 12 people died. Police also confirmed that the Kouachis’ weapons came from abroad, and that several people are wanted in the funding of the attacks.

    CHRISTOPHE CREPIN, French Police Union Spokesman (through interpreter): I can’t go into how many people we are exactly talking about, because I would be lying if I told you I knew exactly. One thing is for certain. This cell didn’t include just those three. We think, with all seriousness, that they had accomplices because of the weaponry, the logistics and the costs of it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, prosecutors in Bulgaria announced a French national arrested earlier this month had ties to Cherif Kouachi. He now faces extradition to France.

    And, in Jerusalem, mourners buried the four Jewish victims killed Friday by Amedy Coulibaly at a kosher supermarket in Paris.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel (through interpreter): These are not only the enemies of the Jewish people. They are the enemies of all humanity. The time has come for the civilized world to unite and root out these enemies from us.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: While, back in Paris, President Francois Hollande joined victims’ families at a ceremony for three slain police officers.

    PRESIDENT FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, FRANCE (through translator): Thanks to them, thanks to you, freedom won over barbarism. It’s the people of France who stood up to express its attachment to living together, in harmony and fraternity, in front of the leaders of the whole world.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Amid such appeals for harmony, Charlie Hebdo went to press again, with a defiant cartoon cover of the Prophet Mohammed holding a sign saying “Je suis Charlie.”  The cartoonist defended the choice.

    RENALD LUZIER, Cartoonist, Charlie Hebdo (through interpreter): Then there was nothing else but that, this idea of drawing Mohammed, “I am Charlie.”  And I looked at him, he was crying, I cried. And it was the front page. We had found the front page. We had finally found that bloody front page.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Many news organizations, including the PBS NewsHour, have decided not to show the cover. The paper is printing up to three million copies.

    French Muslim leaders today criticized the showing of representations of Mohammed, an act considered blasphemy by most Muslims. But they urged their followers to respect the right to free expression.

    GWEN IFILL: In other news this day, President Obama renewed a push to beef up the nation’s cyber-defenses. It came one day after the U.S. Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube accounts were hacked by Islamic State sympathizers. The president cited that attack and one last month on Sony Pictures.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We’re more prepared to defend against cyber-attacks, but every day our adversaries are getting more sophisticated, and more determined, and more plentiful. So, every day, we have got to keep upping our game at the same time. We have got to stay ahead of those who are trying to do us harm.

    GWEN IFILL: The proposed legislation would grant limited lawsuit protection for companies that share cyber-threat information with the government. It would also increase information-sharing between government agencies.

    In Indonesia, divers retrieved the second black box from the wreckage of AirAsia Flight 8501 in the Java Sea. The cockpit voice recorder was found today just 33 feet away from where the flight data recorder was recovered a day earlier. Now Indonesian authorities in Jakarta will examine the data to try to determine why the plane went down last month.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Pope Francis carried calls for reconciliation and justice to Sri Lanka today, as he began a six-day trip across Asia. Up to 80,000 people died on the island nation during a 25-year civil war mostly between Hindu Tamils and the Buddhist Sinhalese majority. The war ended in 2009, but the pope said today that only the truth about human rights abuses will help heal lingering divisions.

    POPE FRANCIS, Leader of Catholic Church: For the sake of peace, religious beliefs must never be allowed to be abusive in the cause of violence and war.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Earlier, the pontiff rode on an 18-mile route from the airport into Colombo, the capital. Costumed elephants and thousands of well-wishers lined the way.

    GWEN IFILL: The top appeals court in Egypt has cleared the way for releasing deposed President Hosni Mubarak from custody. The court today overturned a verdict that sentenced Mubarak to three years for corruption. Supporters jumped up and cheered when the decision was read in a Cairo courtroom. There was no word on when the 86-year-old Mubarak might be released from the Cairo hospital where he’s been held.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street had a day of wild swings, as oil prices dipped again, and then recovered. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 280 points early on, before giving back all of that ground and then falling by 140. In the end, the Dow finished with a loss of just 27 points to close at 17613. The Nasdaq fell three points to 4661. And the S&P slipped five to end at 2023.

    The post News Wrap: French lawmakers reaffirm fight against Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A growing number of people are living to be age 85 or older in the United States, and researchers from the National Center for Health Statistics have looked into the effect this demographic shift has affected hospital discharges and care after a patient leaves the hospital. Photo by Dana Neely/Getty Images.

    A growing number of people are living to be age 85 or older in the United States, and researchers from the National Center for Health Statistics have looked into the effect this demographic shift has affected hospital discharges and care after a patient leaves the hospital. Photo by Dana Neely/Getty Images.

    How will the U.S. health care system cope with a rapidly growing, older population? Researchers are looking at hospital discharge data to better understand how older Americans navigate the health care system, and when they’re most in need of long term care.

    While people age 85 or older accounted for just 2 percent of the U.S. population in 2010, they made up nearly 10 percent of all hospital discharges that year, according to a new report released today by the National Center of Health Statistics.

    Once discharged from the hospital, people in that 85 or older group are significantly less likely to go home. They’re likely to be admitted into a nursing home at a higher rate than people who are just 10 years younger.

    hospital85over

    And complications from a hip fracture, almost always the result of falling, is the biggest reason why people in this older age group needed to go to the hospital in the first place. Last year, the NIH announced a $30 million study of senior falls.

    The rate that people age 85 or older sustain hip fractures is nearly three times higher than people just one decade younger. This finding surprised health scientist Shaleah Levant, who contributed to the study, which she said “provides a good foundation for understanding where the country is coming from as our population ages, and a growing percentage will be in the 85-and-older age group.”

    The post How to prepare the health care system for an aging population appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images

    Facebook users will now get local Amber Alerts on their News Feeds. Photo by Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images

    Facebook and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have teamed up to post Amber Alerts on Facebook News Feeds, beginning this week. While the alerts, which notify people if a child has gone missing in their area, are currently broadcast through cellphones, television and radio, this marks the first time a social media site will post them.

    The alerts will include a photo of the child and a possible location of the abduction, NPR reports, and will only be sent to users local to the abduction. According to Facebook’s trust and safety manager Emily Vacher, Facebook has a history of being used as tool to bring home missing children.

    “We’ve noticed over the last couple of years that when kids go missing, people started posting about this on their Facebook pages to share information within their own communities,” Vacher said to NPR. “And we saw a lot of successes out of this. Kids have actually been brought home because of the information people shared on Facebook.”

    The post Facebook to include Amber Alerts in News Feeds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Newborn baby Makenzie, daughter of Stephanie Sanchez, 25, and Kenneth Vega, rests in a nursery after she was born at 10:25am at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York October 31, 2011. The world's population will reach seven billion on October 31, 2011, according to projections by the United Nations, which says this global milestone presents both an opportunity and a challenge for the planet. While more people are living longer and healthier lives, says the U.N., gaps between rich and poor are widening and more people than ever are vulnerable to food insecurity and water shortages. Photo byLucas Jackson/Reuters

    Women and their doctors should share concerns over the birth plan before delivery, says doctor and mother Carla Keirns. Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    “Labor is an intricate dance of hormones, muscles and emotions,” writes Dr. Carla Keirns in her essay, Watching the Clock: A Mother’s Hope for a Natural Birth in a Cesarean Culture, featured in the January issue of Health Affairs.

    Health AffairsGiven this telling description, it’s easy to see why obstetrics is arguably one of the most high-stakes areas of medicine, since health decisions made for an expecting mother directly impact the health of the unborn child.

    In her essay, Keirns notes that the average age of expectant mothers in the United States has increased in recent decades as women choose to delay children until later in life, thus increasing the chance for pre-existing medical conditions that can complicate pregnancies. At the same time, the rate of cesarean sections performed has increasingly grown in the U.S., likely owing to age and a number of other factors. While cesareans can be life-saving for mother and baby in certain situations, some think many doctors are becoming too reliant on the procedure over natural birth.

    Keirns, who specializes in palliative care and clinical ethics and is associate director for medical education at the Center for Medical Humanities at Stony Brook University in New York, became pregnant at 40. Due to her diabetes, Keirns’ pregnancy was monitored closely by her doctors, who decided to induce labor just shy of 40 weeks into the pregnancy in order to minimize the risk of stillbirth. Although Keirns was adamant about having a natural birth barring emergency circumstances, as her labor advanced she found herself in a hospital bed surrounded by doctors pressuring her to opt for a cesarean delivery, even though she felt the medical reasoning was not there.

    I had been in the hospital for two days in induced labor, unable to get out of bed or eat, almost twenty-four hours on an oxytocin drip. Doctors and nurses shuffled in and out of my room, many wearing worried expressions. They wanted to start magnesium for suspected preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening complication from pregnancy, but couldn’t prove whether I had the condition because the baby’s head was causing bleeding from my bladder. The doctors started to talk about stalled labor, a stuck baby, and going to the operating room. I had assisted at dozens of caesareans when I was a medical student, but I didn’t think we were there yet. More time. I just needed more time, I thought, as I started flipping through numbers on my mobile phone, looking for friends from medical school who were obstetricians and pediatricians now. I needed another opinion.

    After three days of labor and intense monitoring, mother and baby came through safely. But the experience made Keirns consider what could have been done differently and how might her experience help others without her medical expertise.

    The NewsHour spoke with Dr. Keirns about her experience and what changes she believes must be made in obstetric intervention policy in order for mothers to exercise greater control in the delivery room.


    NEWSHOUR: First off, what benefit does vaginal birth offer to mother and baby, as opposed to cesarean?

    CARLA KEIRNS: It depends on the mother and baby’s condition, but for women and babies who have not had complications or compelling medical reasons to have a cesarean, vaginal birth offers women a quicker recovery, a reduced chance of injury from surgical site injuries and a reduced chance of infection. For the baby, risk of injury is smaller but there’s a slightly increased risk of neonatal respiratory distress in babies born by cesarean rather than vaginal birth. That’s predominantly seen in babies whose mothers have not labored because the amniotic fluid is actually squeezed out of the baby’s lungs in transit through the birth canal.

    For me, I would certainly have another hospital delivery because my medical history calls for that. But I would want to make sure that I had had that kind of conversation with my doctors and that I had heard their concerns as well as them hearing mine.NEWSHOUR: Then why has cesarean section become so prevalent in the U.S?

    CARLA KEIRNS: Cesareans have become much more common over the last approximately 40 years for a variety of reasons. There have been a lot of reviews and a lot of questions raised about that. Some people think it’s because our pregnancies are higher risk. Some people think it’s because we’ve reduced our use of forceps, which a number of people have pointed out are much harder to teach obstetricians to use — it’s more of a hand feel and a craft skill, whereas most situations that would have previously required forceps can be handled with a cesarean. There are a variety of technical reasons and reasons having to do with practice style, and then there are the folks who say that it has to do with convenience for the mothers or doctors, or scheduling or even the fact that some docs may be paid more for cesarean than a vaginal birth, although that varies tremendously.

    NEWSHOUR: What can women with less medical expertise than you do to exercise more control in their own deliveries?

    CARLA KEIRNS: The first thing is choosing a health care provider whose philosophy matches yours. As several people have written to me since my article was published, you might want to make sure that everybody who shares their call cycle or everybody in their medical group shares your philosophy because of course if they share calls then it may not be your doctor who does the delivery. Women do better with childbirth education, for sure. There are everything from hospitals to Lamaze and other organizations to a variety of groups that try to help empower women with information. In New York, there’s a unique resource. New York state’s Department of Health’s Maternity Information system provides hospital level information on intervention rates. Everything from cesareans to vaginal births after cesareans to episiotomies (an incision made to open the birth canal for the baby to more easily pass through), so you can find out what does the average practice pattern look like in the place you’re considering delivering and see whether you might consider a different place if it concerns you.

    NEWSHOUR: Would you like to see something like that expand to the rest of the country?

    CARLA KEIRNS: It’s a helpful tool. There’s good evidence for the use of doulas in labor, both to provide support to the pregnant woman and also to bring some expertise. The downside is sometimes they’re not covered by insurance and since you’re talking about someone who’s going to stay with you through labor, it can cost several hundred dollars or more. So a lot of women will not choose that. The issue about midwives has come up of course also. At least in this country, my experience is that most of the midwife groups won’t work with high risk women. Some folks have argued for a partnership model between high risk obstetrician and midwives so that the high risk obstetrician can focus on the medical side of things and the midwives can focus on the obstetric pieces. This isn’t my area, so why there aren’t more partnerships like that, I couldn’t say. But it’s an interesting model.

    NEWSHOUR: What can or should obstetricians do to make prospective mothers more aware of their options in regard to their own delivery?

    CARLA KEIRNS: Talking about the delivery plan and making a delivery plan together before the women is at the hospital is something that I think all good obstetricians do. But making sure that the plan includes discussion about what to do if there are complications and how to proceed — I’m not so sanguine about women putting together birth plans on their own because, for example, I practice palliative medicine and I see a lot of living wills. Often they’re either not relevant to the clinical situation at hand or simply not feasible in the situation. I’ve heard obstetricians say the same thing about birth plans, and I can see why. It has to be a collaborative planning process.

    NEWSHOUR: What is the biggest change you would like to see in obstetric intervention as the number of women giving birth later in life grows and more preexisting conditions arise?

    CARLA KEIRNS: The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Society for Internal Medicine and NIH have put together some excellent evidence-based guidelines for how to manage labor and delivery. They mostly call for using objective data to make decisions and for recognizing what the normal process for labor and delivery are. Obviously guidelines can’t be applied in a cookie cutter way to every patient, but if doctors aren’t going to use them there should be a good reason why.

    NEWSHOUR: What’s your biggest takeaway from this experience?

    CARLA KEIRNS: Well, besides my beautiful little boy, it would be that mutual respect between patients and their healthcare providers is really key for good medical care. Not just being nice, but also communicating all of the relevant clinical information so that decisions can be made on the best possible basis. For me, I would certainly have another hospital delivery because my medical history calls for that. But I would want to make sure that I had had that kind of conversation with my doctors and that I had heard their concerns as well as them hearing mine.

    NEWSHOUR: Is it realistic to think women with less medical expertise than yourself can achieve the same satisfaction?

    CARLA KEIRNS: I think it’s very possible. I may not be an obstetrician but I do teach medical students and residents about communication with patients and there are a lot of good ways of making sure that patients understand what they’re hoping for and what might happen that they don’t want so that they can make good decisions about both. It’s the responsibility of physicians and other healthcare providers working with pregnant women to make sure they feel informed, empowered and heard.

    The post When to say no to a C-section: how to talk with your doctor about your delivery options appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite is scheduled to launch on January 29, 2015. It will orbit between the Earth and the Sun a million miles away, monitoring space weather and taking images of the Earth. Image courtesy NASA.

    The Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite is scheduled to launch on January 29, 2015. It will orbit between the Earth and the Sun a million miles away, monitoring space weather and taking images of the Earth. Image courtesy NASA.

    On January 29, NOAA, the U.S. Air Force and NASA plan to launch the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite, which will orbit the Earth from a distance of one million miles, measuring increased magnetic fields and particle fluxes from solar storms. Positioned between the Earth and the Sun, the satellite will act like an ocean buoy in space, warning scientists about incoming solar storms, said Doug Biesecker at the National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

    For scientists watching, the launch will represent the end of a long wait. Known by its acronym, DSCOVR, the satellite has been in storage at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center since 2001. DSCOVR’s journey to space has taken more than a decade, mired in political controversy and tragic timing, said Ghassem R. Asrar, formerly NASA’s chief earth scientist and currently director of the Joint Global Change Research Institute, which studies solutions to global climate change.

    In 1998, then-Vice President Al Gore approached NASA with an idea: a satellite that would take continuous photos of the Earth from the first LaGrange Point, or L1, one million miles from Earth. He hoped that the continuous stream of photos would encourage the public to care about Earth’s fragile environment. He cited Apollo 17’s famous “Blue Marble” image as inspiration.

    At the time, Asrar saw the potential for much more. NASA’s space weather satellite, ACE, which was already located at L1, needed to be replaced. A new satellite at that orbit could provide better forecasting for solar storms that knock out electricity grids and communication systems on Earth.

    After further discussions with Gore, NASA scientists dreamt up a satellite that would revolutionize climate science, said Adam Szabo, NASA’s project scientist for the mission. From that vantage point, scientists could image an entire sunlit side of the Earth in a 2048 by 2048 pixel image every two hours in visible, infrared and ultraviolet light. A three-color camera would capture the Earth’s ozone, cloud patterns, dust from the Sahara desert or vegetation growing around the world, Szabo said. At a million miles away, scientists could compare how the seasons change from year to year.

    “Low Earth orbiting satellites have to stitch together images,” he said. “It can take a full day to piece together a full image of the Earth. From L1…you can start to study things like global cloud pattern changes. You can see large-scale weather systems as they change in a day.”

    “We could predict where the next famine around the world would be before the next harvest begins,” he added.

    The satellite would also measure how much solar radiation was being absorbed and reflected by the Earth, a key to understanding global warming, Szabo said. It would be like a thermometer for the entire planet, he said.

    The scientific possibilities were exciting, and the mission would open up opportunities for education and communication about earth science, Asrar said.

    “We took that very simple idea of a three-color camera and turned it into a full-scale science mission,” he said.

    But at an MIT summit that March, before NASA could put out calls to the scientific community for proposals, Gore announced the satellite, which he named Triana after the sailor on Christopher Columbus’ ship who spotted North America, Asrar said. Suddenly, Triana was on the fast track and under intense political scrutiny.

    science-wednesday

    Construction of the satellite was completed in 18 months, record-breaking time for such a project. At $150 million dollars, it was three times as expensive as Gore proposed, Asrar said.

    Triana became a political football. By the time it was completed in 2000, Gore was leaving office. Its connection to Gore made the satellite an easy target for Republicans who lampooned Triana as an expensive vanity project. NASA scientists were repeatedly summoned to the Hill to defend the mission, Asrar recalled. The project was panned as “GoreSat” by opponents.

    Its launch was delayed until the first year of the Bush administration. The plan was that the space shuttle Columbia would launch the satellite from its cargo bay. But Columbia’s schedule was fully booked carrying equipment to build the International Space Station, and that took priority. Triana was put in storage until Columbia had room to carry the satellite. When the Columbia disintegrated reentering Earth’s atmosphere in 2003, the tragedy was the final nail in the coffin for Triana, and “all hope was lost,” Asrar said.

    “The science of the mission had become so meritorious, so exciting. I could see the potential educational aspect. We could never get over the political discussion,” he said. “I really do consider this a huge missed opportunity for our country.”

    NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft, or DSCOVR, comes out of storage more than a decade after the originally mission was put on hold. Photo by: NASA/Kim Shiflett

    NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft, or DSCOVR, comes out of storage more than a decade after the originally mission was put on hold. Photo by: NASA/Kim Shiflett

    In 2012, the satellite reemerged as DSCOVR. Scientists have spent the past two years testing the equipment. That meant taking apart the satellite from top to bottom and checking every circuit, updating the electronics and replacing batteries, Szabo said. Even so, it’s possible the satellite could still have problems after a decade in storage, Asrar cautioned.

    DSCOVR will still carry out its Earth-observing missions, Biesecker said, but its primary objective now is to measure the magnetic fields that radiate from solar storms. When magnetic fields from solar eruptions collide with the Earth, they can disrupt communication systems and overwhelm power grids, causing damage to equipment. Like a weather forecaster, it’s up to the Space Weather Prediction Center to warn people in time. The ACE satellite, which was near the end of its life in 1998, delivered poor data to space weather forecasters in 10 of the last 44 major geomagnetic storms, Biesecker said, and they hope that with DSCOVR, they can deliver better warnings faster.

    “We need to measure magnetic fields so we can tell customers this is how big the storm is going to be and when this storm will be coming,” he said.

    At the end of the month, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will launch DSCOVR into space. For Szabo, who has worked on the project since its beginning, the launch will be the realization of 17 years of hard work.

    “I’m elated. We really put lots of effort into it. It wasn’t a throwaway,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see that it will see space after all.”

    The post Politics delayed Al Gore’s favorite satellite for 10 years, but in two weeks, it’ll fly appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user chris.alcoran

    A measles outbreak has been linked back to Disney’s California theme parks. Photo by Flickr user chris.alcoran

    California’s Department of Public Health confirmed Monday seven more cases of measles tied to outbreaks from Disney theme parks in California, bringing the total number of infected to 26.

    Officials say 22 of the cases are in California, two are in Utah, with one each in Washington state and Colorado.

    The first confirmed cases began in January, the AP reported. Health officials say most of the patients visited either the Disneyland or Disney California Adventure theme parks between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20 last year, with others contracting the illness through contact with those infected.

    Because the measles virus is airborne and has a nine-day infectious period, Dr. Ron Chapman, director of California’s Department of Public Health, advised those who may have been infected to call a physician before seeking treatment in order to prevent spreading the virus further.

    “The best way to prevent measles and its spread is to get vaccinated,” Chapman said in a statement.

    The measles virus was classified as eliminated in the United States in 2000, though the virus has found its way back to the U.S. on occasion by international travelers.

    Disney officials have stated that they will work with California public health authorities to provide any necessary assistance.

    The post Seven new measles cases reported, virus traced to Disney theme parks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

    Four high-ranking Secret Service executives have been reassigned after several mishaps in 2014. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — A U.S. official says four of the highest-ranking Secret Service executives have been reassigned in the wake of a series of security mishaps.

    The agency’s assistant directors for investigations, protective operations, technology and public affairs have all been reassigned within the Secret Service. A fifth assistant director is retiring.

    The official says the shakeup reflects the need for new leadership at the top echelons as the Secret Service works to improve its practices. The official wasn’t authorized to comment publicly and requested anonymity.

    The reassignments mark the biggest shift in Secret Service leadership since former Director Julia Pierson was forced to resign last year. Her ouster came after a fence-jumper with a knife made it far into the White House.

    The Washington Post first reported the staff shake-up.

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    A Syrian refugee receives aid from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, in Batroun, northern Lebanon Jan. 13, 2015. Photo by Omar Ibrahim/Reuters

    A Syrian refugee receives aid from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, in Batroun, northern Lebanon Jan. 13, 2015. Photo by Omar Ibrahim/Reuters

    Syrians fleeing the ongoing civil war in their country now make up the largest group of refugees in Brazil, the EFE reported.

    Brazil took in 2,320 refugees in 2014, the bulk of whom came from Syria, the country’s Justice Ministry said Tuesday. In total, Brazil now houses 1,739 Syrians out of about 7,000 refugees from 80 different countries. Angolans are the second largest group in Brazil with 1,071 people granted refugee status.

    The Justice Ministry’s refugee agency also said Brazil received more than 8,300 applications last year from Syrians seeking asylum in the South American country, a 29 percent increase from the nearly 6,000 applications it received in 2013.

    Although the country is in a different hemisphere, Brazil has a strong connection to the Middle East and Syria, in particular, because of an early 20th century immigration wave that led to three million Brazilians with Syrian ancestry, UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, said.

    Now in its fifth year, Syria’s civil war has displaced millions, including more than 3.7 million Syrians registered as refugees with the United Nations.

    As of December, the U.S. has only accepted 300 Syrians refugees, the Los Angeles Times reported, although Washington officials have promised that the State Department was considering 9,000 applications, expecting “admissions from Syria to surge in 2015 and beyond.”

    UNHCR released a report Wednesday calling for more international humanitarian support as large swaths of Syrian refugees slide into abject poverty. Two-thirds of Syrian refugees in Jordan now live below the poverty line, the report said.

    U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said, in a statement, the “insufficient” global response would fail to give Syrians living in Jordan and other neighboring countries a “dignified life.”

    Guterres also told the NewsHour in November that this “mega-crisis” in Syria “reflects the lack of capacity of the international community to prevent conflicts and to timely solve them.”

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    Five years since a magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook their nation, 80,000 Haitians remain in tent camps, a visible reminder of the slow humanitarian effort to rebuild the poor country and move its affected residents to permanent housing. Photo by Ed Kashi/American Jewish World Service

    Five years since a magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook their nation, 80,000 Haitians remain in tent camps, a visible reminder of the slow humanitarian effort to rebuild the poor country and move its affected residents to permanent housing. Photo by Ed Kashi/American Jewish World Service

    On Jan. 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake reduced the impoverished island country of Haiti to rubble, leaving 220,000 dead, another 300,000 injured, and more than a million homeless. Many of those who survived also lost limbs to falling walls and debris from buildings that weren’t constructed to withstand seismic waves.

    According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the tectonic plates hadn’t produced a large-scale earthquake of comparable strength in the Caribbean area for 150 years.

    The tragedy triggered an international response that raised $13.5 billion in donations from governments and individuals, with the U.S. leading the relief operation. President Barack Obama spoke directly to Haitians — “You will not be forsaken. You will not be forgotten” — but every year since, critics have asked the same question: Where did the money go?

    Five years later, the “build back better” reconstruction promise remains limp, critics argue, while tens of thousands of people are still in temporary housing. While the number of Haitians living in these tent camps have decreased since the earthquake, 123 camps housing more than 85,000 people remain open, Amnesty International said.

    “On paper, with that much money in a territory the size of Haiti, we should have witnessed miracles; there should have been results,” Haiti-based photographer Gael Turine told Time magazine.

    An overshot of Jalousie, a shantytown that was the target of a government project that relocated people that took shelter in the tent camps provided after Haiti's 2010 earthquake. As part of the $1.4 million effort to beautify the slum, the Haitian government painted the facades of these dwellings. AJWS, among other critics, said the move was a cosmetic change that provided Petitionville, Port-au-Prince's wealthiest neighborhood, a colorful view that belied the poor conditions the slum's inhabitants faced. Photo by Ed Kashi/American Jewish World Service

    An overshot of Jalousie, a shantytown that was the target of a government project that relocated people that took shelter in the tent camps provided after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. As part of the $1.4 million effort to beautify the slum, the Haitian government painted the facades of these dwellings. AJWS, among other critics, said the move was a cosmetic change that provided Petitionville, Port-au-Prince’s wealthiest neighborhood, a colorful view that belied the poor conditions the slum’s inhabitants faced. Photo by Ed Kashi/American Jewish World Service

    A woman hangs her laundry to dry in front of her home made out of tin and tarps that her family built over the land where their homes once stood before a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck on Jan. 12, 2010, destroying their homes and killing as many as 316,000 people on in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Five years later many of the tent camps and shantytowns that once sheltered some 1.5 million people now hold about 80,000 as the government tries to move them into permanent homes. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    A woman hangs her laundry to dry in front of her makeshift home made out of tin and tarps. Five years after the devastating Haiti earthquake, many of the tent camps and shantytowns that once sheltered some 1.5 million people now hold about 80,000 as the government tries to move them into permanent homes. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Then, for the first time in a century, Haiti suffered a cholera outbreak that emerged 10 months after the earthquake. As of August 2014, the disease had claimed 8,592 lives and sickened more than 700,000, the United Nations Children’s Fund said.

    A four-person panel appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon released a report in May 2011 that investigated if U.N. peacekeepers had inadvertently caused the outbreak when an overflowing septic tank in one of their camps spewed into the Artibonite River, a main water source for many Haitians. The report did no find the U.N. at fault. Haitian plaintiffs, in response, filed a class-action lawsuit in the hopes of holding the U.N. accountable for the outbreak.

    Frustration in Haiti has boiled over into public outcry against government corruption. Two days before the fifth anniversary of the country’s earthquake, anti-government demonstrators gathered in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, to protest the long-delayed elections and called for the departure of President Michel Martelly.

    A woman walks past the fence that covers the view of what was the Presidential Palace before it was destroyed when magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck just before 5 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    A woman walks past the fence that covers the view of what was the Presidential Palace before it was destroyed when magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck just before 5 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Children sit on the wall next to the National Cathedral that was destroyed five years ago by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. Five years later a church has been built next to the ruins and the city of Port-au-Prince struggles to recover even as the government is locked in a stalemate over parliamentary elections that have been delayed for several years. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Children sit on the wall next to the National Cathedral that was destroyed five years ago by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. Five years later a church has been built next to the ruins and the city of Port-au-Prince struggles to recover even as the government is locked in a stalemate over parliamentary elections that have been delayed for several years. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Although reconstruction efforts have removed much of the rubble — the National Palace, once the symbol of slow recovery, was demolished in 2012 — the most visible reminder of the earthquake has been the country’s displacement camps, where poor conditions are compounded by chronic poverty and political upheaval. With an unemployment rate of nearly 40 percent, the majority of Haitians live under the national poverty line, the Associated Press reported.

    Photographer Ed Kashi, working for American Jewish World Service, captured earthquake survivors still living in Haiti’s tent camps. Kashi photographed Camp Immaculée, which will soon close, leaving its residents with an uncertain future.

    Tens of thousands of earthquake survivors remain in tent camps like Camp Immaculée, located in Port-au-Prince. AJWS said the camp's residents face imminent eviction, and most have nowhere to go next. Centered is Jackson Doliscar, who, at the time, represented FRAKKA (Force for Reflection and Action on Housing), an organization that acted as advocates on behalf of earthquake survivors, providing legal aid and calling for a more sustainable plan to resettle displaced persons. Doliscar is flanked by camp committee members who, at every one of these camps, help promote the rights of the people living in these camps, AJWS said. Photo by Ed Kashi/American Jewish World Service

    Tens of thousands of earthquake survivors remain in tent camps like Camp Immaculée, located in Port-au-Prince. AJWS said the camp’s residents face imminent eviction, and most have nowhere to go next. Centered is Jackson Doliscar, who, at the time, represented FRAKKA (Force for Reflection and Action on Housing), an organization that acted as advocates on behalf of earthquake survivors, providing legal aid and calling for a more sustainable plan to resettle displaced persons. Doliscar is flanked by camp committee members who, at every one of these camps, help promote the rights of the people living in these camps, AJWS said. Photo by Ed Kashi/American Jewish World Service

    Children play a game of dominoes as they hang out together near the homes made out of tin and tarps that their families built over the land where their homes once stood before the Haiti earthquake. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Children play a game of dominoes as they hang out together near their makeshift homes. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Friends hang out together near the homes made out of tin and tarps that they built over the land where their homes once stood before a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck five years ago. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Friends stand together near homes made out of tin and tarps that they built over the land where their homes once stood. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Additionally, women face an increased risk of sexual violence in tent camps, AJWS said, among other human rights violations. Photo by Ed Kashi/American Jewish World Service

    Women face an increased risk of sexual violence in tent camps, AJWS said, among other human rights violations. Photo by Ed Kashi/American Jewish World Service

    A family looks out from behind the tarp that serves as the front door to their home built over the land where their home once stood before a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck five years ago. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    A family looks out from behind the tarp that serves as the front door to their home. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Jackson Doliscar of FRAKKA, left, speaks with camp residents. Photo by Ed Kashi/American Jewish World Service

    Jackson Doliscar of FRAKKA, left, speaks with camp residents. Photo by Ed Kashi/American Jewish World Service

    Most of these children were born at Camp Immaculée, adrift in this temporary tent camp -- and its poor conditions -- for the past five years. Photo by Ed Kashi/American Jewish World Service

    Most of these children were born at Camp Immaculée, and live adrift in this temporary tent camp — and its poor conditions — for the past five years. Photo by Ed Kashi/American Jewish World Service

    A young lady looks out from behind a cloth that serves as the front door to the home made out of tin and tarps that her family built over the land where their home once stood before a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti five years ago. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    A young lady looks out from behind a cloth that serves as the front door to the home made out of tin and tarps. Her family built the shelter over the land where their home once stood before the 2010 earthquake. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    The post Photo essay: Haiti’s earthquake victims wonder where the reconstruction money went appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    grippingclimb

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    GWEN IFILL: Two rock climbers made history today in California’s Yosemite National Park, completing what’s being called the hardest climb in the world.

    Thirty-year-old Kevin Jorgeson and 36-year-old Tommy Caldwell became the first to free-climb a 3,000-foot sheer slab of granite to reach the summit of El Capitan. The two started their journey on December 27, and continued their half-mile trek up the Dawn Wall route to the peak. They marked their progress through different pitches or sections of the route. They used no climbing aids, other than safety ropes, to catch their falls.

    Here’s Kevin Jorgeson on the Dawn Wall talking about the weather conditions they faced earlier in their trek.

    KEVIN JORGESON, Climber: We looked at the forecast and saw that there’s this crazy arctic wind storm happening today. It’s getting pretty rowdy. The portal edge, despite being latched down, is getting tossed around like a rag doll.

    GWEN IFILL: For more on this journey, I spoke earlier with Chris Weidner, a freelance writer for numerous publications and a climber himself.

    Chris, I have to start by asking you this. Why are they doing this? Just because it’s there?

    (LAUGHTER)

    CHRIS WEIDNER, Boulder Daily Camera: Well, that’s certainly a common misconception.

    It surely is there. Many people, though, many thousands of people have climbed El Cap before. They’re doing this particular route in the style they’re doing it, which is free-climbing, because, as you said earlier, it is the hardest big wall free-climb in the world, hands down.

    GWEN IFILL: So, explain to us how this is different from other people. Other people have scaled this particular rock before, but why is this way different?

    CHRIS WEIDNER: So, the key to understanding why this is different is all about the free-climbing aspect. And that is simply a chosen, self-imposed rule, basically, that makes it much more challenging, because, frankly, for climbers as good as Caldwell and Jorgeson, just starting at the bottom of the Dawn Wall and going to the top is unchallenging.

    So what they are doing is, they’re climbing El Cap as you would imagine two climbers climb. They’re just going up the rock. They’re placing gear. They’re tied into ropes. If they fall off, they are going to be just fine, they’re caught.

    What people don’t understand about this climb is the free aspect, which means — well, which means what I just explained, but basically not free-climbing is the hard part to understand; 99.9 percent of climbers…

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let me help you here. Let me help you.

    I have heard that they have climbed, and their fingers are bleeding, that they are literally not using any equipment to attach themselves to the rock face.

    CHRIS WEIDNER: That’s not exactly true. Yes, their fingers are bleeding.

    They are using equipment to attach themselves to the rock, for example, at the top of each pitch. However, what they’re not doing is placing gear and grabbing it to make upward progress at a hard spot. They’re not stepping on a bolt or a piton, for example. They’re not resting on the rope.

    All of those things are considered aid climbing. So, they’re not doing any of that. They’re just free-climbing.

    GWEN IFILL: So, how long have they been doing this and what kind of shape are they in at this point?

    CHRIS WEIDNER: Gosh.

    Well, they have specifically worked on the Dawn Wall now for seven years. And I know, for Tommy, at least, it’s been his main objective in those seven years. And for Kevin, it’s been his objective for at least five of those years. So they’re absolutely in the fittest shape of their lives for this type of climb.

    GWEN IFILL: How do you prepare for something like this?

    (LAUGHTER)

    CHRIS WEIDNER: Man, a lot of preparing for this specific climb, initially, anyway, the first couple years, was just exploring the face, exploring the Dawn Wall.

    On rappel, Tommy would swing around and try to find the path of least resistance up this pretty smooth shield of rock. So, to start, the preparation was just — was just finding the best way. And then it’s just down to pure training. And I know Tommy and Kevin both have been training harder than they have ever trained before, especially this year.

    GWEN IFILL: Basic question, how do you sleep on a sheer rock face?

    CHRIS WEIDNER: Well, so they have had these two portaledges set up that you have probably seen photographs of in the middle of the wall. And so that’s kind of like their base camp.

    And, believe it or not, it’s actually a lot more comfortable than it might look. It’s nice and flat. They have hanging stoves. They have their comfy sleeping bags and pillows, you know.

    GWEN IFILL: OK. That’s comfortable by a climber’s point of view.

    CHRIS WEIDNER: Yes.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: But here’s a basic question too. How much is this difficult and how much of this is dangerous?

    CHRIS WEIDNER: OK.

    That’s a great question, because I think the public tends to misunderstand that. It’s really not very dangerous. In fact, it’s probably no more dangerous than any other climb of El Capitan, which — one way to look at that is, it’s probably more dangerous just to drive to Yosemite, say, from where Tommy lives, in Colorado, than it is to climb El Cap.

    So, what they’re doing is not more dangerous. It’s just way, way more difficult.

    GWEN IFILL: Chris Weidner, thanks so much for helping us out.

    CHRIS WEIDNER: Yes. Thank you very much.

     

     

     

    The post Yosemite free climbers complete their gripping feat appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    cleaningtheair

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama has been increasingly active about greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Today, through the power of executive action once again, his administration announced a plan to cut down on methane emissions created by new gas drilling and oil production. The goal? Reduce those emissions by at least 40 percent by the year 2025 from the levels the U.S. reached in 2012.

    This comes amid the big rise of fracking in America.

    For a closer look at the concerns around methane and the potential impact, we check in with Coral Davenport. She’s a reporter with The New York Times. And Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University and a member of U.N. panels that have issued reports about climate change.

    And we welcome you both back to the program.

    Coral Davenport, to you first. Why is the president doing this now?

    CORAL DAVENPORT, The New York Times: The president really wants to use these last two years of his term to build a legacy on climate change. He knows that he can’t move anything through Congress. He tried that in his first term, and it failed.

    Now, with the new Republican Congress, any kind of legislation is DOA, so he’s turned to the power of the Clean Air Act, an existing law, under which he can put out regulations to govern pollution from different sectors of the economy. We have seen him move forward on regulations on emissions from vehicles, emissions from power plants.

    So this is another piece of the economy. He’s going sector by sector by sector to rein in emissions wherever they are. So these methane emissions from oil and gas wells, the oil and gas sector are a big piece of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Michael Oppenheimer, help us understand why methane is such a concern. We hear a lot about carbon dioxide. What about methane?

    MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER, Princeton University: Well, methane is right behind carbon dioxide as the second most important global warming gas.

    In fact, it contributes more than 20 percent of the current warming effect. The other thing about methane that you have to understand is, per ton emitted, it’s at least 28 times — 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. It’s just that we emit a lot more carbon dioxide.

    So it’s important to reduce the emissions of methane if you’re going to solve the problem. Finally, methane responds much more quickly to reductions in emissions than does carbon dioxide. So if you want to affect the rate of warming over the next few decades, you need to complement the very deep cuts in carbon dioxide that we need to solve the problem with parallel cuts in methane.

    And that will give human beings a greater opportunity to adapt to climate change by slowing the rate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Professor Oppenheimer, following up, we mentioned fracking. Is fracking inherently producing methane and that’s a big part of this, or is it the fact that there’s just more fracking than there used to be, so the amount of methane is increasing? Help us get that straight.

    MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER: The gas — the process of extracting, delivering and using gas leaks end to end, and part of that is the leaking at the wellhead. And fracking is certainly an important part of that problem.

    We don’t have good numbers for the whole stream, but we can tell you that from the extraction of the gas, to the pumping of it, to putting it in the transmission lines, to transmitting it to cities, to distributing it, and then right to the utility, to the appliances in your home, the system leaks. And getting those leaks fixed, not in any one spot, but through the whole system, including the wellheads of the fracking wells, is very important. And that’s what this proposal aims to do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Coral Davenport, how is the oil and gas industry reacting to this?

    CORAL DAVENPORT: The oil and gas industry hates new regulations.

    They have been insisting all along that they don’t need these new regulations. One of their arguments is, methane is a component of natural gas, and thus a part of what oil and gas producers are pulling out of the ground and moving to market and selling.

    Oil and gas producers say, look, it’s in our financial interest to keep those leaks from happening. The more methane leaks, the more we lose money, you don’t need to regulate us, we’re going to self-regulate anyway.

    And that’s sort of been the industry’s argument. The problem with that is, there are a lot of leaks, as Professor Oppenheimer said. There was a study in “Science” last year that found that methane is leaking from oil and gas production and transportation systems at rates 50 percent higher than previously thought. So they don’t like it, but they do also have the technology to comply.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What about the environmental community? What are they saying? Are they pleased?

    CORAL DAVENPORT: The environmental community is partially pleased, partially displeased. I think it’s — these regulations are never fully strong enough for them.

    These regulations address new or future oil and gas production facilities. They actually don’t directly address existing oil and gas production facilities. So, environmentalists say, well, this is great. New oil and gas production will have to be built with regulations to prevent leaks.

    The regulations will say — the administration will work with the industry on voluntary plans for existing facilities. Environmentalists say, that’s not good enough. They’re going to push for the administration to move forward later with regulations on existing facilities. But we may not see that for several years.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Michael Oppenheimer, we know the president has signed on, has committed to some international agreements on improving the environment. How will this set of regulations, this particular set of regulations on methane play into that? How much of a difference will it make?

    MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER: We have to make a full-court press if we’re going to get ahead of global warming and avoid the danger zone, which starts above a warming of somewhere around three-and-a-half or four degrees Fahrenheit warming.

    We’re never going to make that unless we have deep cuts in carbon dioxide and make collateral cuts in the other greenhouse gases. And this has to start now, or else we will simply never get there. I just want to add to one of Coral’s points, that the cost of these measures is really modest.

    It’s estimated at about one penny per 1,000 BTU. So, if — 1,000 cubic feet. So, for instance, for a typical home in New York during the winter, it might add dimes to the heating bill of a typical user. You’re not really going to notice this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Michael Oppenheimer, Coral Davenport, we thank you both.

    CORAL DAVENPORT: Thanks so much.

    The post Obama administration announces goal to rein in methane leaks appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    undertheradar

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The issue of sexual assaults in the military has been front and center in recent years, and has sparked a heated political debate.

    Tonight, we take a look what happens when some sexual offenders are released from the armed services.

    Correspondent Mark Greenblatt of the Scripps News Service investigative unit has our story.

    MARK GREENBLATT: In the calm of Central Wisconsin’s rolling hills, big-city dangers seem as if they’re an entire world away. Yet, right here in the small town of Reedsburg, population 10,000, a serial sex offender from the military chose his latest victim, an unsuspecting civilian.

    WOMAN: I can’t sleep at night knowing that that man was in our house and that I didn’t catch it, I didn’t know it, I didn’t realize it, I didn’t suspect anything.

    MARK GREENBLATT: This Wisconsin mother, who asked us not to use her name to protect her family, is talking about Matthew S. Carr, who met her daughter on the Internet in 2010. He claimed he was a gynecologist assistant in the U.S. Air Force awaiting deployment to Afghanistan.

    The looming departure seemed to help explain her daughter’s fast-moving relationship.

    WOMAN: And it wasn’t many weeks later that she shared with me that he planned on moving to Wisconsin and they were going to get engaged. Well, I still wanted to check him out, so I went online and did a search.

    MARK GREENBLATT: She looked for crimes and also on registries for sex offenders.

    And what did you find?

    WOMAN: Nothing. Nothing at all.

    MARK GREENBLATT: But it turns out Carr was concealing a secret. The Air Force had kicked him out following a court-martial conviction in 2003 for the indecent assault of seven women. It sentenced him to seven years in prison for conning one woman after the next into fake gynecology exams.

    But it all came back up when another suspicious family member dug up Carr’s military record and gave it to the mother.

    WOMAN: I read it, could not begin to believe it or comprehend it at first. My blood turned absolutely cold, started to shake and I said, she’s in danger right now. And so that’s when we decided to act immediately.

    MARK GREENBLATT: What did you do?

    WOMAN: We jumped in our vehicle and we headed towards Reedsburg, which is a good 45 minutes to an hour away.

    MARK GREENBLATT: But, by then, Matthew Carr had already sexually assaulted her daughter.

    Had he been registered as a sex offender, you would have found that out before he ever moved out here.

    WOMAN: Yes. It didn’t have to happen the way it did.

    MARK GREENBLATT: Eventually, Matthew Carr went to prison in Wisconsin, but it turns out there are hundreds of convicted military sexual offenders whose names and offenses don’t appear on any public registry once they leave the service.

    A nine-month investigation by Scripps News discovered at least 242 offenders who have gone under the radar, disappearing into neighborhoods across the country and, in some cases, have gone on to prey again and again.

    The federal Adam Walsh Act requires civilian sex offenders to register before they’re released from prison, but the military lacks the authority to do that. So, instead, the Department of Defense turns to the honor system, trusting the very sex criminals that it convicts to register themselves after they leave the military brig.

    Of more than 1,300 cases reviewed, we found that one in five rapists, child molesters and sexual offenders convicted in the military do not appear on any public registry. And there are other problems. When Matt Carr showed up in New York, federal probation officials say mistaken paperwork from the military made it appear as if he was convicted of a lesser assault, just a misdemeanor that is not a sex offense there.

    New York State ruled he didn’t have to register. That allowed Carr to move in stealth to Wisconsin, where he never checked in with police.

    TIM BECKER, Chief, Reedsburg Police Department: And now he has victimized people outside in the civilian world, where he didn’t need to. We could have stopped all that from happening.

    MARK GREENBLATT: And then there’s former Army Specialist Basil Kingsberry.

    Convicted of rape and forcible sodomy at court-martial, Kingsberry got out of Fort Leavenworth in 2005 and told the military he was heading to Mississippi. He ended up in Georgia instead, where he slipped through the system’s cracks.

    Have you found Basil Kingsberry yet?

    VERNON KEENAN, Director, Georgia Bureau of Investigation: Not yet.

    MARK GREENBLATT: You’re looking?

    VERNON KEENAN: Oh, yes. Oh, yes, we’re looking.

    MARK GREENBLATT: Vernon Keenan is the director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which had Kingsberry in its sights nine years ago, but investigators here mistakenly thought his military conviction was overturned.

    They wrote for clarification to the sex offender unit at the military prison in Fort Leavenworth and even to the U.S. Army records center in Virginia, requesting a written reply if Kingsberry did in fact have to register.

    But Keenan says:

    VERNON KEENAN: We have no record of him responding.

    MARK GREENBLATT: And so Georgia ruled he didn’t have to register, allowing Kingsberry to move around freely ever since.

    We tracked him to this small town in York County, South Carolina. Authorities had no idea they had a convicted sex offender living in their community.

    TRENT FARIS, Constable, York County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Office: In the state of South Carolina, if you move here, you have to — and you’re a convicted sex offender, you have to come to the local sheriff’s office and register as a sex offender.

    MARK GREENBLATT: Incredibly, the York County Sheriff’s Office arrested Kingsberry in June on a domestic violence incident at this apartment complex. But local officials never knew about the Army convictions, his 11-year sentence or that he needed to register.

    Law enforcement officials have no idea where he is today, and they’re worried.

    VERNON KEENAN: I think any time we have a sex offender who is not registered as required by law, that that is a matter of public safety.

    MARK GREENBLATT: And when there are hundreds that are unregistered?

    VERNON KEENAN: That is a disaster waiting to happen.

    MARK GREENBLATT: The Department of Defense’s own inspector general concluded this August that the military’s inability to register its own prisoners while still behind bars enables offenders to evade registration later.

    The Department of Defense declined repeated on-camera interview requests, so at a recent Pentagon press briefing about sexual assault in the military, we asked about the hundreds of convicted sexual offenders who leave the military and go under the radar.

    This is something that has not come to your attention yet?

    MAJ. GEN. JEFFREY SNOW, Director, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office: No, it has not.

    I knew — I knew — I have seen an extract of what you are describing, but I will tell you that is not one that I am well-versed in.

    MARK GREENBLATT: Major General Jeffrey Snow leads the military’s office in charge of preventing and responding to sexual assaults inside the military.

    Should be there an aspect of prevention and response of further sexual assaults in the civilian community as well that comes under your leadership?

    MAJ. GEN. JEFFREY SNOW: In light of your question, we will obviously take a hard look at that. So, thank you.

    REP. JACKIE SPEIER, (D) California: This has to be fixed. This is a gaping loophole.

    MARK GREENBLATT: Congresswoman Jackie Speier is a California Democrat who serves on the House Armed Services Committee.

    REP. JACKIE SPEIER: It’s a damnation of the military justice system, and it’s a damnation of the military and their responsibility in protecting civil society, because, in fact, they are not.

    MARK GREENBLATT: Four years ago, Speier pushed legislation that would have required a military database tracking sexual assaults.

    REP. JACKIE SPEIER: Today, I’m announcing that I have introduced HR-3435, with 44 co-sponsors.

    MARK GREENBLATT: But her office told us she backed off when the military told them this wasn’t an issue, claiming they were vigilant about ensuring offenders were being put on registers upon release.

    What’s your take now?

    REP. JACKIE SPEIER: I’m sick to my stomach.

    MARK GREENBLATT: What would your message, Director, be to the Department of Defense if they don’t embrace change on this issue?

    VERNON KEENAN: I can’t imagine they’re not going to embrace change. This is too serious of a matter.

    MARK GREENBLATT: Separately, a DOD official e-mailed us to say that, if Congress required it, the DOD could register an offender officially, but the onus would remain on offenders to re-register as they move from state to state. And he concluded it would have no practical effect upon the problem.

    But the mother from Wisconsin is not convinced.

    WOMAN: I would ask him if he has a daughter and how he would feel if this had happened to his own daughter.

    MARK GREENBLATT: Mark Greenblatt with Scripps News for the “PBS NewsHour” in Washington.

    GWEN IFILL: Scripps reporter Mark Greenblatt followed up with the Pentagon for additional comment after Major General Snow’s news conference.

    A spokesman responded via e-mail, saying: “The department takes this issue very seriously. And that is why we have been, and remain in the process of developing department-wide policy and a partnership with the United States Marshals Service, which will ensure that convicted sex offenders fully comply with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, as the law intends.”

    He added that the policy is expected to be finalized in early spring.

    The post How military sex offenders fly under the radar after returning to civilian life appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    offtotheraces

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    GWEN IFILL: Just in the past seven days, the 2016 race for president has moved from mostly theoretical to quite substantial.

    In a minute, we will analyze that campaign landscape, but, first, a brief look at the action of just the past week and where things stand at the moment.

    The 2016 field is already crowded, with nearly two dozen potential candidates all jockeying for position. But set aside that entire group for a moment. This past week, about half of that field made significant moves. We start alphabetically with the Republicans.

    Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is meeting with top GOP donors and his leadership PAC is now up and running. In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie is planning to set up his own fund-raising PAC as early as this month, according to The New York Times. Next, another former governor, Arkansas’ Mike Huckabee, released a book last week, a now predictable part of running for president.

    Another state leader, former New York Governor George Pataki, told The Boston Globe this week he is seriously considering a bid. And Kentucky Senator Rand Paul announced yesterday that he has hired a presidential campaign manager. And upending this entire process, 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney told a group of donors last week that he is considering a third run for the Oval Office.

    Then there is Marco Rubio, who also released a new book just yesterday. Rounding out the field, former Senator Rick Santorum brought his former campaign staff together to meet in Washington this week.

    For the Democrats, all eyes are on Hillary Clinton, who’s starting to put some key staff on the payroll, including a pollster who worked for President Obama and John Podesta, who is expected to leave the Obama White House this spring.

    So, joining us now to discuss this whirlwind of activity are Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Nia-Malika Henderson of The Washington Post.

    Why, all of a sudden, is all of this happening?

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: It feels like the new year kicked in and everybody kicked in.

    Amy.

    AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: This is not surprising at all.

    In fact, it’s what we saw in 2007. By the time we hit February, the end of February, we had John McCain and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had all announced. But this is a multimillion-dollar operation that these people are putting together.

    You don’t raise that kind of money overnight. You don’t put the staff together just in a couple of months. This takes a great deal of time and effort to put together this kind of operation.

    GWEN IFILL: So, Nia, is this driven by competition or by the need to raise the money?

    NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, The Washington Post: Well, it’s both, really.

    And that’s why a lot of these conversations are going on among donors. Mitt Romney goes to donors and says, I want to be president. Marco Rubio is going to get his gang together down in Florida next weekend to figure out where they are and what his viability is going forward. It really is about raising, what, a billion dollars you have got to raise. And you have got to make the case to these donors that you are a worthy investment. And so that’s what’s going on right now, the invisible primary.

    AMY WALTER: And it doesn’t hurt — that’s right. And it doesn’t hurt to try to scare off your competitors, too.

    NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Which is part of what is going on.

    GWEN IFILL: But let’s start with the big surprise, Mitt Romney. Third time’s the charge — charm, he’s hoping, but really?

    (LAUGHTER)

    AMY WALTER: We talk to people around him and they say, really. He was a — yes, in 2013, he said no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, I’m not going to do this.

    AMY WALTER: And Ann Romney made it very clear she didn’t want him to do this again.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    AMY WALTER: 2014 comes around, he was a very sought-after surrogate on the campaign trail. He went and campaigned for a lot of successful 2014 candidates.

    There was adoration for him. He saw I what life could like as a national candidate again, a lot of people saying, Mitt, you did such a great job. Just imagine if you had been president. None of this bad stuff would have happened.

    So, now he’s reassessing, seriously reassessing.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, and Jeb Bush, honestly, was reassessing, too, because only a few months ago, he was sending signals that he wasn’t interested. His mother was sending signals that he wasn’t interested.

    NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: And he always pretty much had that same line, that, oh, he would have to consult with his wife, his family wasn’t quite on board, including his mom.

    And then I think what’s happened is, he’s obviously had a change of heart. And Mitt Romney’s had a change of heart. Partly, I think, they’re looking across the aisle, looking at Hillary Clinton, and figuring maybe she isn’t as strong as her poll numbers suggest. They’re also looking at this field where someone like Chris Christie doesn’t look as strong as he used to look maybe a year or two ago.

    And they’re also looking at, like we talked about, this landscape in politics where you have got to make a credible case that you can raise a billion dollars. And over the last years, who has been able to do that? Bush — the Bush family has been able to do that and Romney has been able to do that.

    And I also think, if you get back to Romney, Romney, I think, looks at what happened in 2012, the map — he got clobbered with the sort of electoral map. But in terms of votes, it was five million. And I think he’s looking and say, well, you switch a few here and there, maybe it would look different.

    GWEN IFILL: Where are the fresh new faces, if I can be forgiven?

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: We have a Clinton. We have a Bush. We have a Romney. And we have a Santorum. We have a Huckabee. We have a lot of people who have run for president before. What is different?

    AMY WALTER: So, what this suggests, if I’m a Republican governor, I’m actually not very nervous right now, because what I would be looking at is, fine, let these guys go out there, put themselves out front.

    I know that the public is looking for something new. In fact, we were just talking about this. You talk to voters out there, you listen to focus groups, there’s a hunger right now for somebody that is new and different.

    GWEN IFILL: So, if you’re Scott Walker or Bobby — I’m going to get as many names in as possible — if you’re Scott Walker or Bobby Jindal or Chris Christie, you’re sitting back…

    AMY WALTER: Or John Kasich from Ohio.

    GWEN IFILL: Or John Kasich.

    AMY WALTER: People like Snyder, maybe, who knows, who are not family names — well-known names, but who are well-positioned, in that they’re not part of Washington, they’re new, fresh faces.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    AMY WALTER: They have executive experience, and they can potentially parlay that into success.

    They’re not going to be able to show that they can raise the money quite yet, but if they get a little bit of momentum, it’s funny. The donors seem to follow.

    GWEN IFILL: Now, as you mentioned, both — all of these folks are looking across the aisle at Hillary Clinton and they’re thinking to themselves, she’s beatable, right?

    So, is she? Who else is rising on the Democratic side who would give her a run?

    NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Well, you know, that’s funny you should ask. Maybe Jim Webb, who ran for senator in Virginia, 2006, didn’t win by much and decided not to run again, because I think he felt like, A, he doesn’t really like politics, and maybe he wasn’t going to win.

    He’s now talking about really looking at working-class white men and that that would be the way he is able to have an edge against Hillary Clinton. But if you look at how he did among white men, didn’t do so well in that race, did about as well as any other Democrat.

    Maybe somebody like Martin O’Malley, the former governor — the outgoing governor of Maryland, somebody like that. Bernie Sanders, who’s a socialist. But hard to see how they really challenge Hillary. I think if you talk to folks in that Hillary campaign…

    GWEN IFILL: You didn’t mention Elizabeth Warren.

    NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Elizabeth Warren, right.

    Well, Elizabeth Warren isn’t really mentioning Elizabeth Warren.

    GWEN IFILL: She keeps saying no, but her name doesn’t go away.

    NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: She keeps saying no.

    You’re right. She keeps saying no, no, no. I don’t know if she’s said no as many times as Mitt Romney had, but I think the question about Elizabeth Warren, is she kind of a boutique liberal or is she a liberal in the mold of Barack Obama who could really reshape the Democratic Party? Could she get African-American voters and that coalition on the ascendance?

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    If you look at the Hillary world, it matters who you’re hiring and who’s coming on your side. And a lot of these folks, we assume, are lining up for one of the candidates at this point. So, we have seen a little bit of movement on this. How much of it is significant is it that she has hired President Obama’s pollster, that he has hired his ad men, and that apparently John Podesta is going to be leaving the White House to go work for her?

    AMY WALTER: One of the biggest criticisms against Hillary Clinton in the 2000 campaign was that she was too insular. She was relying on the Bill Clinton group to come and give her advice. She needed to get outside that bubble.

    So, she’s doing that by hiring the Obama team. Hillary Clinton’s biggest problem is certainly not in the primary. There’s no empirical evidence that I have seen yet that there’s a hunger for a fresh face on the Democratic side, like there is on the Republican side.

    At the same time, history is not kind to a candidate trying to be a third term. For Democrats, if you don’t count FDR, which I do not, you have to go back to the 1830s. It is a tough, tough, tough thing to do.

    GWEN IFILL: I hate sports analogies, but spring training seems to apply here.

    AMY WALTER: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: This is exactly what this is.

    Amy Walter, Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you both.

    NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Thank you.

    AMY WALTER: Thank you.

    The post 2016 presidential hopefuls aim to prove their worth in campaign warm up appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mass Unity Rallies Held Around The World Following Recent Terrorist Attacks

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Today’s events in France, from the arrests to the rush to buy the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo, raise a number of questions about the limits of speech.

    We at the NewsHour have made the decision not to show the cartoon on the new cover of the satirical magazine depicting the Prophet Mohammed. The reason? We believe the offense it could cause outweighs the news value.

    We want to explore these questions of freedom of expression now with longtime radio France journalist and current senior editor Bertrand Vannier. And Daisy Khan, she is executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement.

    And we welcome you both to the program.

    Bertrand Vannier, how much of a debate is there under way today in France about what has happened with Charlie Hebdo, with the new cover, the decision to show it or not to show it?

    BERTRAND VANNIER, Radio France: I think that there are two different debates now, one on the political side. National unity is still working, if I may say so.

    And there’s a different debate in the society and mainly in the Muslim — five million Muslims in France, which start to say, look, there is a double standard here. You let the Charlie Hebdo print the cartoons of the prophet and you leave the mosques and the Muslim school in France unprotected. And there have been 54 incidents against mosques and Muslim schools in those — the last three days.

    So, there’s a double standard to — towards the Muslim population in France — we start to hear that kind of reflection.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Daisy Khan, is it a double standard, from your perspective, as a0 prominent Muslim here in the United States?

    DAISY KHAN, American Society for Muslim Advancement: Judy, the problem is that Muslims who live in the West are largely judged by the lens of national security.

    Certainly, here in America, we are largely defined by what happened on 9/11. And so whatever Muslims do is scrutinized, since many Muslims complain in the United States that there is a double standard for them, that free speech is not — they don’t enjoy free speech. If they criticize their government, they are seen as unpatriotic. If they criticize the policies of Israel or even question them, they are called anti-Semites.

    And if they, you know, call for examining the root causes of terrorism, they are seen as aiding and abetting. So there is a sense that free speech is not for Muslims, and that it’s only to be enjoyed by Westerners.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: BERTRAND VANNIER, how do you as a news editor see it? Do you see a different set of standards when it comes to portraying Mohammed, when it comes to the Muslim community?

    BERTRAND VANNIER: As a professional journalist, I don’t think so. I hope not.

    But, you know, I’m a journalist. I’m not the one who listened to what — what I say on the radio. So it’s very difficult — different, depending on the side you are on. I can understand that, if I were a Muslim today in France, which I am not, I could feel that there is definitely a double standard.

    Look, there was a law voted in France a few years back which forbid the young Muslim women to wear the burqa in the public space. And the young Muslim women said, you forbid us to wear the burqa, but you authorize — you authorized Charlie Hebdo to print the cartoon.

    So that’s a new example of double standards. I hope — I hope — I don’t know — I hope that we journalists, we are not doing the same. We’re trying to find — to work equally.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Daisy Khan, pick up on that. Is it seen as unfair because Muslims are being, as you said, lumped in with this national security debate? Is it possible to separate what’s going on right now out and say, well, this is a conversation about journalism, about what is written about in the news media, what pictures are drawn?

    DAISY KHAN: I think the most important conversation we need to be having right now is about the rise of terrorism.

    You know, since 9/11, we have seen an increase in terrorism, in spite of all the wars we have gone to and in spite of all the money that’s been spent by Western nations. Just look at America. We have a footprint in many, many Muslim countries right now, and yet this terrorism seems to be flourishing.

    So, what needs to be done right now — and we don’t have enough time to go into a deep commentary, but I would say that what needs to happen right now is the kind of beautiful display that we saw in Paris the other day, when everybody came out hand in hand and were — basically, we need to take that to the next level to see how we could collaborate together, law enforcement, and Muslim communities and government, to see how we can really push back on terrorism, which is just flourishing everywhere.

    And, by the way, Westerners are not the only ones that are getting killed by these terrorists. Muslims are the biggest victims of terrorism. So, I know that Muslims in France — I visited Lyon recently. I was there. I heard many perspectives.

    They are very anxious to work with law enforcement to prevent their communities from being harmed, not only being harmed physically, but really it’s having a deep effect on the psyche of Muslims. And that’s dangerous.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: BERTRAND VANNIER, is it possible to separate the kind of unity that Daisy Khan is describing, the need to focus on terrorists, the terrorist threat, from this other debate that’s going on? You described it yourself about what is and isn’t permissible in the media.

    BERTRAND VANNIER: I don’t know if it’s possible to separate the two debate and the two conversations.

    These days in France after the Charlie Hebdo attack, it’s not possible to separate the two debates. It has to be separated, because, if it’s not, you start having a conversation about different views and different ideas within the Muslim community, when were seen or shown as too close to terrorist activities or terrorist ideas.

    So there’s a very thin line. And that thin line is very well seen today in France, that there is a risk to put the Muslim community on the bad side of the debate.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Daisy Khan, just finally, I want to ask you, a number of news organizations in the United States argue that it was acceptable to show this new cover of the magazine Charlie Hebdo because they say it’s a more acceptable portrait of the Prophet Mohammed. It shows him weeping. It has the statement “All is forgiven” over it.

    How do you as a Muslim answer that?

    DAISY KHAN: Well, I personally don’t take offense to anything whose intent is to provoke or push people over the edge.

    However, all the previous caricatures that I have seen are just that. They’re caricatures. They don’t resemble the prophet at all. But today’s — the publication, the cover today was the closest to his character. And I think this is why you don’t see the kind of outrage from ordinary Muslims that might have said this is offensive.

    I think they’re saying, finally, we’re — we’re acknowledging who the prophet really was. He was sent as a mercy to humankind and he was very forgiving of his enemies and he tried to transform his enemies. And I think this is — what we need to be discussing right now, are the actions of the terrorists really the teachings of the prophet or are they teachings of some ideology that nobody understands or recognizes?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it is certainly a discussion that continues.

    We thank you both, Daisy Khan, the American Society for Muslim Advancement, Bertrand Vannier with Radio France.

    DAISY KHAN: Thank you so much for having us.

    The post Do Western Muslims face a free speech double standard? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrap

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Worries about the world economy weighed on Wall Street today. The World Bank cut its global growth forecast, and the price of copper, a bellwether commodity, dropped sharply.

    That sent the Dow Jones industrial average falling 186 points to close at 17427. It had been down nearly twice that much, earlier; the Nasdaq dropped 22 to close at 4639; and the S&P 500 slipped 11 to finish at 2011.

    GWEN IFILL: Kremlin officials warned today of budget cuts and double-digit inflation in Russia’s worst slowdown in 15 years. The finance minister called for cutting 10 percent of government spending, excluding defense. A few weeks back, Russian President Vladimir Putin had insisted state spending wouldn’t be touched.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. House of Representatives challenged President Obama on two fronts today. Majority Republicans voted to block his executive actions protecting millions of people from deportation. It’s part of a broader bill funding the Department of Homeland Security.

    Speaker John Boehner said the president’s orders, in 2012 and last year, violated the law.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER, Speaker of the House: Enough is enough. By their votes last November, the people made clear that they wanted more accountability from this president. And by our votes here today, we will heed their will and we will keep our oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It is unclear whether the bill can get the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate. But House Democrats, including Representative Steve Israel of New York, charged Republicans are interested only in scoring points with supporters.

    REP. STEVE ISRAEL, (D) New York: We have a bill that shouldn’t be controversial, that should fund our homeland security, but has been turned into a divisive political strategy on immigration.

    Madam Speaker, let’s face it. This bill is not about homeland security. This bill is about Republican political security.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The House also voted to ease requirements on big banks under the landmark Dodd-Frank law. It was adopted after the 2008 financial crisis. President Obama has threatened to veto both the banking and the immigration measures.

    GWEN IFILL: The FBI arrested an Ohio man today on charges of plotting to bomb the U.S. Capitol. Court documents say federal agents began watching Christopher Cornell after he expressed support for Islamic State militants and tweeted about jihad. He allegedly planned to set off pipe bombs, and then open fire on lawmakers and staffers.

    Search teams near Indonesia have found the fuselage of the AirAsia passenger jet that crashed into the Java Sea last month. Photos taken by an underwater robot showed the main section of the plane today lying on the sea floor with part of one wing still attached. Officials believe many of the victims are still entombed in the fuselage.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The International Space Station had a scare today when alarms signaled a toxic ammonia leak on the U.S. side. It turned out to be a false alarm. But the crew, two Americans, three Russians, and one Italian, moved into the Russian side for much of the day.

    GWEN IFILL: Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s foreign minister are making a new bid for progress on curbing Iran’s nuclear program. Kerry met with Mohammad Javad Zarif in Geneva, ahead of broader talks tomorrow involving other nations.

    Going in, Zarif expressed hope, but he also put the onus on the U.S. and its partners.

    MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, Foreign Minister, Iran (through interpreter): We have reached a stage that it is necessary for the other side to make its decisions so that we could move forward. In our opinion, reaching a deal is completely possible, but a political decision and will is needed.

    GWEN IFILL: Zarif and Kerry met for five hours, then held a second unscheduled session late at night. Negotiators failed to make an earlier deadline, and are now trying to get a framework deal by March 1.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A Washington Post reporter in Iran now faces trial there on unspecified charges. The Iranian state news agency reported today that Jason Rezaian has been indicted. He holds dual American-Iranian citizenship, and he has been held since July. It’s unclear when the trial will begin.

    GWEN IFILL: There was a glimmer of hope today in West Africa. The World Health Organization reported Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone had fewer new cases last week than any time since last summer. At the same time, the death toll topped 8,400.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s word that hundreds of boat people seeking asylum in Australia have gone on a hunger strike in Papua New Guinea. They’re being held there at an Australian-run detention center on Manus Island, and they have been attacked by locals who want them gone. The refugees say they have stopped eating in protest, and Reuters reports that some even sewed their mouths shut.

    GWEN IFILL: Back in this country, new questions swirled today about police and deadly force. Two officers in Albuquerque, New Mexico, killed a suspect yesterday, saying he had fired on them first. A day earlier, two other law enforcement officers were charged with murder arising from a 2014 shooting there. And in New York, the Associated Press reported jail guards used force more often than ever last year. There were nearly 800 more incidents than in 2013.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama pushed today to get rid of state laws that block high-speed Internet access. He called for the Federal Communications Commission to preempt any statutes that bar communities from developing their own broadband networks.

    The president spoke in Cedar Falls, Iowa, which does have such a network.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I believe that a community has the right to makes its own choice, and to provide its own broadband if it wants to. Nobody is going to force you to do it, but if you want to do it, if the community decides this is something that we want to do to give ourselves a competitive edge and to help our young people and our businesses, they should be able to do it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president said his administration will give technical and financial aid to towns and cities that want to improve Internet access.

    GWEN IFILL: There has been a new shakeup at the Secret Service, after an embarrassing string of lapses in presidential security. The Washington Post reports four senior officials are being removed and a fifth has decided to retire. The agency’s director resigned in October.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And the state of California announced the nation’s strictest limits on a widely used pesticide. The chemical is injected into the soil before planting strawberries, tomatoes, and other crops. State officials say that it also causes eye irritation, coughing fits and headaches. The new rule will mean higher prices on the affected produce.

    The post News Wrap: House GOP vote to block Obama immigration action appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: It’s been one week since the bloodbath at a Paris publication that terrorized the city for three days.

    Today, police launched a new crackdown on those supporting extremism and terror, as the newspaper defiantly proclaimed its return.

    Even before newsstands opened in Paris this morning, long lines formed to buy a copy of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

    VALERIA DE LUCA, France (through interpreter): In my opinion, it’s a historical issue of the magazine, and it may relaunch the newspaper that was decimated.

    ALEXANDRE GILBERT, France: Charlie Hebdo is the French “South Park.”  It’s nothing aggressive. It’s nothing annoying, even for all my Muslim friends. They love Charlie Hebdo for most of them.

    GWEN IFILL: Three million copies quickly sold out, as people snatched up the first issue since Islamist gunmen killed 12 people at the newspaper’s offices.

    Today’s issue featured a new cartoon of Mohammed with a sign reading “Je suis Charlie,” “I am Charlie.”  Many news organization, including the “PBS NewsHour,” have chosen not to show it. Reaction from the Muslim world, official and otherwise, was emphatically negative.

    IYAD AMEEN MADANI, Secretary General, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (through interpreter): As an organization, we are in constant discussions in international forums to explain that the freedom of expression is not an invitation to hatred and it is not to offend the religion of the others.

    MAYADA AL-HOMSI, France (through interpreter): I am against publishing the drawing of any prophet, not only the Prophet Mohammed. This is unacceptable. They can not abuse such prophets who were sent by God.

    GWEN IFILL: While France celebrated free expression, officials also launched a crackdown on hate speech, with 54 arrests. They included popular comic Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, who has multiple convictions for racism and anti-Semitism.

    At the same time, as a makeshift memorial to the Charlie Hebdo victims grew, the leader of al-Qaida in Yemen issued a formal claim of responsibility.

    NASSER BIN ALI AL-ANSI, Al-Qaeda leader in Yemen (through interpreter): We clarify that the one who chose the target, laid the plan, financed the operation and appointed its emir is the leadership of the organization. We did it in compliance with the command of Allah.

    GWEN IFILL: The government of French President Francois Hollande has vowed to battle Islamic extremists. Today, he visited the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and announced it will support operations against Islamic State militants in Iraq.

    We will explore budding debate in France over freedom of expression right after the news summary.

    The post France arrests dozens for hate speech; Charlie Hebdo returns with first issue since attack appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The 114th Congress convenes Tuesday.

    The FBI arrested an Ohio man for purchasing weapons to attack the U.S. Capitol

    The FBI arrested 20-year-old Ohio man Christopher Lee Cornell for purchasing weapons with the intention of attacking the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

    Cornell, known online as Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, says he “purchased and possessed firearms in furtherance of a plan to shoot and kill United States Government officers and employees.”

    FBI agents had been monitoring Cornell’s Twitter, as he posted tweets in support of the Islamic State.

    The arrest comes a day after it was reported that a bartender from Ohio tried to poison House Speaker John Boehner.

    The post FBI arrest man for terrorist plot on U.S. Capitol appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, Pennsylvania

    Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, Pennsylvania. GOP members of the House and Senate are in the sweet city for meetings this week.

    HERSHEY, Pa. — Think of it as a family gathering for a family that has never before gathered in one place.

    Republicans from the House and Senate met here in the “Sweetest Place on Earth” Thursday to hash out their agenda, determine what they will try to do with their newfound control of both chambers and present a public face of unity.

    Usually the two teams of Republicans meet separately (often someone invokes the old yarn, “The Democrats are not the enemy; the other chamber is our enemy), but the House and Senate GOP spent most of Thursday together working through issues in teams led by bicameral leaders and committee chairmen.

    Highlights:

    Ernst to give GOP response to State of the Union: At a joint news conference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced that freshman star Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, will give the Republican response to the State of the Union. Ernst stressed a get-it-done approach. “I am excited to get to work in order to craft and implement real solutions as we chart a new path forward for our great nation,” she said. The choice was tightly held, with few Republican staffers knowing about the announcement before it happened. As an unintended result, no one had made provisions to lower the mics or podium for Ernst (or provide a step for her to stand on), and she was surrounded by microphones at face level.

    Is the Department of Homeland Security headed for a shutdown when its funding runs out Feb. 27? Republicans presented varying takes on “no” to this question, insisting that while they object to the president’s immigration policies and will pass legislation aiming to block those policies, that ultimately neither side will let the agency shut down. After the House passed a Homeland Security funding bill containing provisions that the president has threatened to veto, the question marks focus on the Senate. “Are there 60 votes there?” a reporter asked McConnell. “We’re going to try to pass [the House bill],” he answered, “If we’re unable, we’ll see what happens.” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., spoke with reporters off camera on the topic. “Shutting down the Department of Homeland Security, that’s off the table,” he said, but then added, “What the Senate will do — I don’t know.”

    The big discussion at the retreat? Money. And leverage: Republicans spoke at length about the plans for new balanced budgets — the House aims to pass a balanced budget in April — but GOP lawmakers are most fervently discussing if and how they would use the process of budget reconciliation. Under that process, which can be used once a year, a bill that includes revenue or spending can pass through the Senate with a simple majority vote. It can avoid the 60-vote hurdles that generally paralyze most other legislation. “There are a lot of discussions,” McCarthy told reporters when asked about reconciliation. A platoon of ideas is vying for inclusion, most prominently tax reform and Obamacare appeal.

    The post Money — and leverage — big themes at GOP retreat appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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