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

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    WASHINGTON — Unlike the active jockeying among Republicans thinking about running for president, there is little public action among the Democrats considering a White House bid. Here’s a look at where they stand.

    Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks on "Smart Power: Security Through Inclusive Leadership" at Georgetown University in Washington Dec. 3,  2014. As people continue to speculate if Clinton will run for president in 2016, those closest to her in the Democratic party are advising her to take a middle-road approach when it comes to the economy. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

    Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks on “Smart Power: Security Through Inclusive Leadership” at Georgetown University in Washington on Dec. 3, 2014. Clinton is widely expected to announce a campaign for president in the coming months. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

    The leading contender, Clinton is widely expected to announce a campaign in the coming months. She has maintained a low profile since mid-December. She has been meeting with advisers to plan for a potential campaign and has limited the number of upcoming public appearances; her next scheduled address is this month in California.

    JOE BIDEN

    The vice president has said he will make a decision later in the spring or summer, but has taken few steps to build the foundation of a campaign structure.

    JIM WEBB

    The former Virginia senator and Navy secretary announced an exploratory committee last year, but has done little publicly in recent weeks as he recovers from knee replacement surgery. He expects to make a decision in the spring.

    MARTIN O’MALLEY

    The former Maryland governor has said he will need “a couple of months” to get his family settled after a move to a new home in Baltimore before deciding on a bid. O’Malley signed on with a speaking firm after leaving the governor’s office and will be as a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University. He plans to return to the early voting states of South Carolina in late February and New Hampshire in mid-March.

    Sanders addresses a news conference in support of a proposed constitutional amendment for campaign finance reform, on Capitol Hill in Washington

    U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders addresses a news conference in support of a proposed constitutional amendment for campaign finance reform, on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 8, 2014. The independent senator from Vermont is ramping up his activities as he decides whether to pursue a campaign for president in 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    BERNIE SANDERS

    The independent senator from Vermont is ramping up his activities as he decides whether to pursue a campaign. Sanders was returning to New Hampshire this weekend and has a four-day trip to Iowa planned for this month.

    ELIZABETH WARREN

    The Massachusetts senator remains the subject of a draft movement by liberal activists but has repeatedly declined interest in running for president. She remains an influential voice within the Democratic party and has made clear she hopes to influence the 2016 debate, arguing that the economic benefits from the recovery have helped Wall Street instead of boosting wages for middle-class families.

    The post Which Democratic candidates will run in 2016? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters. A payday loans sign in the window of Speedy Cash, London, December 25, 2013. For the first time, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plans to regulate payday loans using authority it was given under the Dodd-Frank law.

    A payday loans sign in the window of Speedy Cash, London, December 25, 2013. For the first time, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plans to regulate payday loans using authority it was given under the Dodd-Frank law. Photo by Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters.

    WASHINGTON — Troubled by consumer complaints and loopholes in state laws, federal regulators are putting together the first-ever rules on payday loans aimed at helping cash-strapped borrowers avoid falling into a cycle of high-rate debt.

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says state laws governing the $46 billion payday lending industry often fall short, and that fuller disclosures of the interest and fees – often an annual percentage rate of 300 percent or more – may be needed.

    Full details of the proposed rules, expected early this year, would mark the first time the agency has used the authority it was given under the 2010 Dodd-Frank law to regulate payday loans. In recent months, it has tried to step up enforcement, including a $10 million settlement with ACE Cash Express after accusing the payday lender of harassing borrowers to collect debts and take out multiple loans.

    A payday loan, or a cash advance, is generally $500 or less. Borrowers provide a personal check dated on their next payday for the full balance or give the lender permission to debit their bank accounts. The total includes charges often ranging from $15 to $30 per $100 borrowed. Interest-only payments, sometimes referred to as “rollovers,” are common.

    Legislators in Ohio, Louisiana and South Dakota unsuccessfully tried to broadly restrict the high-cost loans in recent months. According to the Consumer Federation of America, 32 states now permit payday loans at triple-digit interest rates, or with no rate cap at all.

    The CFPB isn’t allowed under the law to cap interest rates, but it can deem industry practices unfair, deceptive or abusive to consumers.

    “Our research has found that what is supposed to be a short-term emergency loan can turn into a long-term and expensive debt trap,” said David Silberman, the bureau’s associate director for research, markets and regulation. The bureau found more than 80 percent of payday loans are rolled over or followed by another loan within 14 days; half of all payday loans are in a sequence at least 10 loans long.

    The agency is considering options that include establishing tighter rules to ensure a consumer has the ability to repay. That could mean requiring credit checks, placing caps on the number of times a borrower can draw credit or finding ways to encourage states or lenders to lower rates.

    Payday lenders say they fill a vital need for people who hit a rough financial patch. They want a more equal playing field of rules for both nonbanks and banks, including the way the annual percentage rate is figured.

    “We offer a service that, if managed correctly, can be very helpful to a diminished middle class,” said Dennis Shaul, chief executive of the Community Financial Services Association of America, which represents payday lenders.

    Maranda Brooks, 40, a records coordinator at a Cleveland college, says she took out a $500 loan through her bank to help pay an electricity bill. With “no threat of loan sharks coming to my house, breaking kneecaps,” she joked, Brooks agreed to the $50 fee.

    Two weeks later, Brooks says she was surprised to see the full $550 deducted from her usual $800 paycheck. To cover expenses for herself and four children, she took out another loan, in a debt cycle that lasted nearly a year.

    “It was a nightmare of going around and around,” said Brooks, who believes that lenders could do more to help borrowers understand the fees or offer lower-cost installment payments.

    Last June, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld a legal maneuver used by payday lenders to skirt a 2008 law that capped the payday loan interest rate at 28 percent annually. By comparison, annual percentage rates on credit cards can range from about 12 percent to 30 percent.

    Members of Congress also are looking at payday loans.

    Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, plans legislation that would allow Americans to receive an early refund of a portion of their earned income tax credit as an alternative to a payday loan.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wants the U.S. Postal Service to offer check-cashing and low-cost small loans. The idea is opposed by many banks and seems unlikely to advance in a Republican-controlled Congress.

    The post Federal regulators plan payday loan rules to protect borrowers appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo shows Malaysia Airlines flight 17 leaving Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands bound for Malaysia on Jul. 17, 2014. The plane was shot down over the Ukraine. Officials meet in Montreal this week to address safety concerns after a series of aviation disasters that happened in 2014. Photo by  Fred Neeleman/AFP/Getty Images

    Photo shows Malaysia Airlines flight 17 leaving the Netherlands for Malaysia on Jul. 17, 2014. The plane was shot down over the Ukraine. Officials are meeting in Montreal this week to address safety concerns after a series of aviation disasters. Photo by Fred Neeleman/AFP/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Government and aviation industry officials from dozens of countries are meeting in Montreal this week to try to find consensus on how to keep from losing airliners like the one that vanished without a trace in Asia and another shot down in Eastern Europe.

    It is only the second high-level safety conference in the 70-year history of the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency, but last year was calamitous. A Malaysia Airlines flight disappeared in March and has not been found. In July, another Malaysia Airlines flight was down shot down while flying over an area of Ukraine where ethnic Russian rebels are trying to secede.

    There is broad agreement that the agency should build a database where governments can send intelligence or warnings about risks to aircraft flying over conflict zones. Historically, though, nations other than the United States rarely have posted public warnings about such risks in other countries. Few have global intelligence networks, and it has been considered almost impolite for one country to issue a warning about another. Instead, the practice has been for each country to issue warnings only about its own airspace.

    But that is changing.

    ICAO, the U.N. agency, sent an urgent warning to members on Jan. 14 that airlines flying over Libya risk being shot down. On Jan. 22, the European Aviation Safety Agency distributed a French warning that flights over Pakistan might be subject to “terrorist attacks.”

    Ukraine had warned airlines flying over its territory to remain above 32,000 feet. The Malaysia plane, however, was flying at about 33,000 feet from the Netherlands to Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, when it was fired upon.

    A majority of the 298 people aboard were Dutch citizens. The Netherlands wants airlines to tell passengers before takeoff whether a plane’s flight path will cross a conflict zone. Airlines and other nations say that goes too far.

    While sympathetic to the Dutch concerns, “we’re also confident that an ICAO centralized database represents a reasonable balance,” said Kenneth Quinn, former general counsel at the Federal Aviation Administration.

    There also are disagreements about whether database information should be screened before being made public, and how to handle conflicting or inaccurate information. Besides official intelligence, the database is expected to include media reports and other unofficial information.

    The U.S. does not believe the U.N. agency is capable of evaluating the information and wants sources of reports be identified so users can decide how much weight they want to give them, said a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the issue is politically sensitive. “There may be conflicting information, but you don’t make the world safer by protecting people from ambiguity,” the official said.

    As for keeping track of planes, there is agreement it needs to be done better, but no certainty on how to do that.

    The U.N. agency and the International Air Transport Association, the world’s leading airline trade group, want long-haul flights over ocean to report their whereabouts every 15 minutes. If a plane deviates from its route or if there is some irregularity, the plane automatically would report its position every minute. That way an impact site should be within about 6 nautical miles of the last reported position.

    Some airlines are balking at the potential cost. There also is disagreement over whether specific technology solutions should be required or whether airlines should be allowed to choose their own, so long as a plane can meet the reporting standard.

    Malaysia Airlines 370 vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard. The Boeing 777 was capable of reporting continuous location information by satellite, but the system was not in use. The plane is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean. More than 25,000 square miles of ocean have been searched, but nothing has been found.

    Current global aviation standards require that airliners flying long distances over water report their position about every 45 minutes, but satellite services can provide more precise information. Customers of Spidertracks, a New Zealand company that provides satellite-based tracking mostly to charter operators flying to remote or dangerous parts of the world, can monitor the movements of planes in near real time on their smartphones or laptops and exchange two-way text messages with the aircraft.

    Part of the need to find lost planes is for the recovery of flight data and cockpit voice recorders, also known as “black boxes,” to learn what happened.

    European regulators and aircraft maker Airbus want planes equipped with black boxes that automatically eject and float to the surface in the event of a water crash. The boxes would have emergency locator transmitters, but there are doubts about their effectiveness.

    Boeing officials, who oppose the idea, have told aviation forums that the company is unaware of a single instance in which one of its airliners has been found as the result of an emergency locator transmitter. The company wants the flexibility to decide which technologies work best.

    One way to get around the need for floating black boxes would be for airliners to stream much of the data via satellite to ground stations or cloud data storage sites. But cost is a major factor, and there are concerns about privacy and security.

    The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that black boxes and flight tracking methods also be made tamper resistant. MH370′s transponder and other equipment that might have been used to track the plane shut down during the flight. Global aviation officials suspect they were deliberately turned off, but without the plane or its black boxes there is no way to know for certain.

    The post Officials meet to confront safety concerns after aviation disasters appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman reads a new edition of "The Little Prince" book on April 11, 2013 in Paris. France is marking the 70th anniversary of the world-loved "The Little Prince" with a host of special editions, including a new biography of its author, native son Antoine de Saint-Exupery. "Le Petit Prince", a series of parables in which a boy prince recounts his adventures among the stars to a downed pilot on Earth, was first published in New York in 1943, in English and French.   AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK        (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

    A woman reads a new edition of “The Little Prince” book on April 11, 2013 in Paris. Photo by Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images

    Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Feb. 2, 2014.

    If you just watch the game, a conservative estimate of the running time of the Super Bowl is at least three and a half hours.

    Add in the pre-game and post-game analysis and the entire event could top six hours.

    What else could you be doing with that time? Reading a book is one option.

    Click to view slideshow.

    According to Forbes magazine — which did the math in the article “Do You Read Fast Enough to be Successful?” — the average adult has a reading speed of about 300 words per minute. The book publishing standard runs to approximately 250 words per page.

    So, an average adult should be able to read at least one 200-page book during the Super Bowl.

    Access the full text or learn more about the 14 books below:

    The Little Prince,” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    Casino Royale,” Ian Fleming

    The Wasteland,” T.S. Eliot

    We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” Shirley Jackson

    The Hound of the Baskervilles,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    The Great Gatsby,” F. Scott Fitzgerald

    The Interpreter of Maladies,” Jhumpa Lahiri

    Metamorphosis,” Franz Kafka

    Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time,” Dava Sobel

    Into the Wild,” Jon Krakauer

    Frankenstein, Or the Modern Prometheus,” Mary Shelley

    Animal Farm,” George Orwell

    The War of the Worlds,” H.G. Wells

    The Old Man and the Sea,” Ernest Hemingway

    The post 14 books you could read in the time it takes to watch the Super Bowl appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Robert Galbraith/Reuters. A worker installs a sign on the new span of the Bay Bridge, San Francisco, California August 26, 2013. The President's budget would tax U.S. companies' foreign profits to fund bridge upgrades and other public works projects.

    Photo by Robert Galbraith/Reuters. A worker installs a sign on the new span of the Bay Bridge, San Francisco, California August 26, 2013. Obama’s budget would tax U.S. companies’ foreign profits to fund bridge upgrades and other public works projects.

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s budget will propose an ambitious six-year, $478 billion public works program of highway, bridge and transit upgrades, half of it financed with a one-time mandatory tax on profits that U.S. companies have amassed overseas, White House officials said.

    The proposal, one of the main components of the $4 trillion spending plan for the 2016 budget year that Obama will send to Congress on Monday, attempts to tap into bipartisan support for spending on badly needed infrastructure repairs and construction.

    The tax on accumulated foreign profits would be set at 14 percent and due immediately. Under current law, those profits only face federal taxes if they are returned, or repatriated, to the U.S. where they face a top rate of 35 percent. Many companies avoid U.S. taxes on those earnings by simply leaving them overseas.

    The foreign earnings tax would be part of a broader administration plan to overhaul corporate taxes by ending certain tax breaks and lowering rates, a challenging task that Obama and Republican congressional leaders insist they are poised to tackle this year.

    Obama’s budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 will offer an array of spending programs and tax increases that Republicans now running Congress have already dismissed as nonstarters.

    “What I think the president is trying to do here is to, again, exploit envy economics,” Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the new chairman of the tax writing Ways and Means Committee. “This top-down redistribution doesn’t work.”

    But Ryan also told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he was willing “to work with this administration to see if we can find common ground on certain aspects of tax reform.”

    The White House believes it has some leverage on taxing foreign earnings by linking the revenue to construction projects that potentially could benefit the states and districts of virtually every member of Congress.

    White House officials were not authorized to discuss the budget by name and described the proposal to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

    The proposal improves on an idea that the administration has pushed since the summer of 2013. The administration’s budget last year proposed a smaller four-year bridge and highway fund. While it paid for it by taxing accumulated foreign earnings, it did not specify a formula.

    This time, the budget will call for the one-time 14 percent mandatory tax on the up to $2 trillion in estimated U.S. corporate earnings that have accumulated overseas. That would generate about $238 billion, by White House calculations. The remaining $240 billion would come from the federal Highway Trust Fund, which is financed with a gasoline tax.

    The former chairman of the House Ways and Means, now-retired Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., proposed a similar idea last year with a lower mandatory tax, but the plan did not make headway in Congress.

    At issue is how to get companies to bring back some of their foreign earnings to invest in the United States. The current 35 percent top tax rate for corporations in the United States, the highest among major economies, serves as a disincentive and many U.S. companies with overseas holdings simply keep their foreign earnings abroad and avoid the U.S. tax.

    Under Obama’s plan, the top corporate tax rate for company profits earned in the U.S. would drop to 28 percent. While past foreign profits would be taxed immediately at the 14 percent rate, going forward new foreign profits would be taxed immediately at 19 percent, with companies getting a credit for foreign taxes paid.

    Most U.S. companies and Republican lawmakers prefer a “territorial” tax system employed by most developed countries, in which companies are taxed only on income earned within a country’s borders. That difference could be a major hurdle to a broad overhaul of corporate taxes.

    Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., have proposed paying for highway and bridge fixes by letting companies voluntarily pay taxes on foreign earnings at a one-time low rate of 6.5 percent. The White House opposes such voluntary “tax holidays,” however, and critics say that without broader tax fixes, such holidays simply encourage companies to park their foreign profits overseas.

    Other lawmakers have proposed boosting the Highway Trust Fund with a higher gasoline tax, an idea considered more palatable now that gas prices are low.

    The Obama plan proposes a 75 percent increase in funding for projects such as light rail and other public transportation systems. It also would nearly double spending on grants for local road, rail, transit and port projects. Since 2009, Congress has approved more than $4.1 billion for the competitive grants; the budget asks for $7.5 billion over six years.

    Obama is releasing his budget as the federal deficit drops and his poll numbers inch higher. Though Republicans will march ahead on their own, they ultimately must come to terms with the president, who wields a veto pen and has threatened to use it.

    Obama is proposing to ease painful, automatic cuts to the Pentagon and domestic agencies with a 7 percent increase in annual appropriations. He wants a $38 billion increase for the Pentagon that Republicans probably also will want to match. But his demand for a nearly equal amount for domestic programs sets up a showdown that may not be resolved until late in the year.

    Another centerpiece of the president’s tax proposal is an increase in the capital gains rate on couples making more than $500,000 per year. Obama wants to require estates to pay capital gains taxes on securities at the time they are inherited. He also wants to impose a fee on the roughly 100 U.S. financial companies with assets of more than $50 billion.

    Obama would take the $320 billion that those tax increases would generate over 10 years and funnel them into middle-class tax breaks, expanded child care and a free community college program.

    Altogether, the White House calculates that Obama’s tax increases and spending cuts would cut the deficit by about $1.8 trillion over the next decade, according to people briefed on the basics of the plan. For 2016, the Obama budget promises a $474 billion deficit, about equal to this year. The deficit would remain under $500 billion through 2018, but would rise to $687 billion by 2025 – though such deficits would remain manageable when measured against the size of the economy.

    The post Obama to propose foreign profits tax to fund public works appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Football fans pose in the pouring rain in front of an NFL Super Bowl XLIX sign in downtown Phoenix, Arizona Fri. Jan.30. Just days before the Super Bowl, health officials have warned of a potential outbreak of measles. Photo by REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson.

    Football fans pose in the pouring rain in front of an NFL Super Bowl XLIX sign in downtown Phoenix, Arizona Fri. Jan.30. Just days before the Super Bowl, health officials have warned of a potential outbreak of measles. Photo by REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson.

    As thousands of Super Bowl XLIX spectators flood into Phoenix for Sunday’s game, health officials are on high alert to make sure the flare-up of measles in the state doesn’t get worse. 

    As of Friday, officials confirmed seven measles cases in the state, Arizona Department of Health Services’ Director Will Humble wrote in a blog post. The Arizona cases have been linked to the outbreak that began at the Disneyland theme park in Southern California in January.

    Arizona health officials are currently monitoring as many as 1,000 people who may have been exposed to the highly contagious disease and warned the public to monitor themselves and children for signs of the virus.

    Meanwhile, an estimated one million people are expected to be in and around the city of Phoenix for Super Bowl-related festivities, in addition to the 73,000 people who will pack into the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., for the big game.

    “This is a critical point in this outbreak,”  Humble wrote. “If the public health system and medical community are able to identify every single susceptible case and get them into isolation, we have a chance of stopping this outbreak here. However, if we miss any potential cases and some of them go to a congregate setting with numerous susceptible contacts, we could be in for a long and protracted outbreak.”

    In a phone call with reporters on Thursday, Dr. Anne Schuchat, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official asked anyone with symptoms of the measles virus not attend the Super Bowl. “The very large outbreaks we’ve seen around the world often started with a small number of cases,” she said.

    Arizona officials are recommending any unvaccinated individual exposed to measles not attend work, school or spend time in public places during the virus’ 21-day incubation period.

    The post Arizona officials on alert for measles as thousands flood in for Super Bowl appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    NFL: Super Bowl XLIX-New England Patriots vs Seattle Seahawks

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Today, of course, is Super Bowl Sunday.

    In the days leading up to the game, fans debated which team will win, and economists debated the wisdom of cities trying to host the big game.

    Yesterday, Hari Sreenivasan spoke with Mina Kimes, a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, each year, we see cities compete for the Super Bowl as if it’s the Olympics, as if it is going to bring tons of money, and energy and excitement.

    Is it worth hosting the Super Bowl?

    MINA KIMES, ESPN The Magazine: Well, so for Glendale, which is where this year’s game is, it might not be.

    The city hosted the game in 2008. And I had read that they had said, oh, we actually lost money, which was surprising.

    So, I called the mayor, who told me, not only did we lose money then; we are totally going to lose money this year, which is an absolutely stunning statement from a public official.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: How are they losing money?

    MINA KIMES: So, the game is in Glendale, but many of the events, the tourists, the hotels, are actually in Phoenix and Scottsdale.

    So, you’re going to have a lot of people coming in for the game and then leaving. And the city has to spend money on security, costs like that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, this also happened last year when…

    MINA KIMES: Exactly.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: With the Super Bowl in New York, right?

    MINA KIMES: Right.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Actually, I said New York.

    MINA KIMES: There you go, right, a perfect example, right.

    MINA KIMES: The actual game was in New Jersey, but everyone remembers that it was the New York Super Bowl.

    So, as a result, New Jersey felt kind of spurned in a way by the game.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: OK.

    So, what about — how do the NFL owners feel in these towns? Is there tension between the mayors and the owners?

    MINA KIMES: Well, there definitely is in Arizona.

    So, the owners, they want game. There’s huge benefits to have it at their stadium. It’s great for the team.

    And the Cardinals’ owner, Mike Bidwill, has actually publicly clashed with the mayor of Glendale about his, shall we say, lack of enthusiasm over hosting the game this year.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And cities and towns put a lot of money into building stadiums…

    MINA KIMES: Yes.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: … so that they can get events like this.

    MINA KIMES: Glendale being a perfect example of where that has gone wrong.

    This city has contributed money to three major sports facilities over the last 10 years and now is absolutely mired in debt.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You know, there are economists or that — that are going to say, look at all of — or, I should say, maybe even the NFL will say, look at all the money that comes in with all the tourists.

    Don’t they spend a couple extra bucks here and couple extra bucks there?

    So you are saying — or the mayor of that town is saying that it doesn’t make up for the cops that I have to put on the beat?

    MINA KIMES: So, the NFL definitely says that.

    Economists mostly don’t. In fact, a lot of economists will — who are independent, right, will come out and say, actually, the benefits of these games and especially stadiums are incredibly overblown, because, in a lot of cases, you are displacing other tourists that would normally be in especially a warm place like Phoenix in the winter.

    And, oftentimes, it is indirect spending, publicity, things you can’t really put a clear number on.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Right. And I would imagine that the NFL is also going to say that the — what about the sort of brand that you build…

    MINA KIMES: Right. Yes.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: … and the exposure argument, that you are getting all this free airtime. Everybody is talking about the Super Bowl in your town.

    MINA KIMES: And yet you just said the Super Bowl in New York last…

    HARI SREENIVASAN: I mean, not East Rutherford, New Jersey, right.

    MINA KIMES: A perfect example, right?

    Really, what branding? I mean, our — in America in a year, are people going to remember the Super Bowl was in Glendale?

    Some people will, but I’m guessing a lot of people will just say Phoenix.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Yes.

    And so, and all the celebrities, all that traffic goes to Phoenix, that they don’t…

    MINA KIMES: Yes.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: … necessarily come out to Glendale until exactly the game time, and they’re there for the game and then they leave.

    MINA KIMES: Much like in New York, I don’t think, you know, most of these celebrities were staying in New Jersey last year.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Mina Kimes, senior writer for ESPN The Magazine, thanks so much for joining us.

    MINA KIMES: Thanks for having me.

    The post Do cities actually lose money hosting the Super Bowl? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Vienna born U.S. chemist, novelist and playwright Carl Djerassi, known for the development of the first oral contraceptive pill, talks during a news conference in Vienna November 11, 2008. He died at age 91 on Friday, Jan. 30. Photo by Heinz-Peter Bader/REUTERS.

    Vienna born U.S. chemist, novelist and playwright Carl Djerassi, known for the development of the first oral contraceptive pill, talks during a news conference in Vienna November 11, 2008. He died at age 91 on Friday, Jan. 30. Photo by Heinz-Peter Bader/REUTERS.

    Dr. Carl Djerassi, the scientist who has been called one of the many fathers of the birth control pill, died Friday. He was 91.

    Djerassi, who had been ill from complications due to bone and liver cancer, died “peacefully and surrounding by loved ones” at his home in San Francisco, a Stanford University spokesman said in a post on the university’s website.

    It was Djerassi, along with two colleagues, who patented the key ingredient that led to the development of the oral contraceptive in 1951. He was also instrumental in creating the first commercial antihistamines in the 1940s.

    “Carl Djerassi was first and foremost a great scientist. Together with his colleagues, he transformed the world by making oral contraception effective,” Stanford President John Hennessy said. “Later in life, he became a great supporter of artists and a playwright whose plays entertained while they also educated.”

    While he wrote more than 1,200 scientific articles throughout his career, Djerassi also found success as a novelist, poet and playwright.

    He wrote five novels, four of which he described as “science-in-fiction,” which portrayed the lives of real scientists. His plays were, too, often incorporated the life and achievements of scientists and scientific advancements, and some of his poems also reflected his life as a chemist.

    “You can become an intellectual smuggler by packaging the truth in a fictional context,” Djerassi said. “If it’s exciting enough, they’ll learn something.”

    Djerassi, who was Jewish, was born in Vienna and later fled with his mother to Bulgaria at the start of World War II. In 1939, they emigrated to the United States

    Djerassi is survived by his son, stepdaughter and grandson.

    The post Carl Djerassi, a creator of the birth control pill, dies at 91 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Student leader Alex Chow (front 2nd R) walks with other students during a march in Hong Kong February 1, 2015. Thousands of pro-democracy protesters returned to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday in the first large-scale rally since protests rocked the global financial hub late last year. The banner is part of a slogan to urge Chinese government to withdraw the decision on political reform.       REUTERS/Liau Chung-ren  (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR4NRHK

    Student leader Alex Chow (front 2nd R) walks with other students during a march in Hong Kong Feb. 1, 2015. REUTERS/Liau Chung-ren

    Pro-democracy protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday in their first major march since police crackdowns and ebbing public support halted demonstrations in December.

    Though the protesters numbered around 10,000, the turnout fell short of organizers’ goal of 50,000.

    Despite a considerable security presence, there were no reported violent clashes between police and demonstrators as seen in some previous protests.

    Policemen guard barriers during a demonstration in Hong Kong, February 1, 2015. Though protesters and police clashed in earlier protests, Sunday's march remained peaceful. Photo by Liau Chung-ren/Reuters

    Policemen guard barriers during a demonstration in Hong Kong, February 1, 2015. Though demonstrators and police clashed in earlier protests, Sunday’s march remained peaceful. Photo by Liau Chung-ren/Reuters

    The protesters turned out to demand free elections and voice their opposition to an election plan enacted by Chinese legislators last August. The plan would allow Hong Kong’s citizens to elect the territory’s next chief executive in 2017, but only from a short list of candidates loyal to Beijing.

    Although last year’s Occupy campaign shut down key areas of the former British colony for months, protesters made no such efforts on Sunday. In fact, organizers secured police permission for the march, a departure from earlier unapproved demonstrations.

    Protesters carrying the yellow umbrellas that have become symbolic of the pro-democracy movement march in Hong Kong February 1, 2015. The demonstration was the first since police dismantled protest camps in December. Photo by Bobby Yip/Reuters.

    Protesters carrying the yellow umbrellas that have become symbolic of the pro-democracy movement march in Hong Kong February 1, 2015. The demonstration was the first since police dismantled protest camps in December. Photo by Bobby Yip/Reuters.

    The ongoing protest movement is the largest pro-democracy challenge to the Communist Party of China since the quashed 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

    Despite Western calls for open elections, Chinese President Xi Jinping is “very unlikely to show any flexibility,” Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group told NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff in September.

    “The international community can complain, but there is no potential that sanctions or punishment are going to be exerted against the Chinese government,” Bremmer said.

    The post Thousands take part in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    American poet and writer Langston Hughes (1902 - 1967). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

    American poet and writer Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967). Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

    Feb. 1, 2015 would have been the 113th birthday of Langston Hughes, the African-American jazz poet and social activist who became the leader of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s.

    Hughes is also the subject of Sunday’s Google Doodle, which kicks off the start of Black History Month this year.

    In honor of the man whose work includes poetry, novels, essays, children’s books and political writings that spotlighted black life and culture, here are 8 quotes from life of Langston Hughes.

    1. “Books -where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language, not in monosyllables, as we did in Kansas”
    - I Wonder as I Wander: An Autobiographical Journey, 1956

    2. “My soul has grown deep like the rivers.”
    -The Negro Speaks of Rivers, 1920

    3. “Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.”
    -”April Rain Song”

    4. “Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”
    - Montage of a Dream Deferred, 1951

    5. “Ever’thing there is but lovin’ leaves a rust on yo’ soul. An’ to love sho ‘nough, you got to have a spot in yo’ heart fo’ ever’body – great an’ small, white an’ black, an’ them what’s good an’ them what’s evil – ‘cause love ain’t got no crowded-out places where de good ones stay an’ de bad ones can’t come in. When it gets that way, then it ain’t love.”
    - Not Without Laughter, 1930

    6. “7 x 7 + love = An amount Infinitely above: 7 x 7 – love.”
    - The Collected Poems, 1995

    7. “…the only way to get a thing done is to start to do it, then keep on doing it, and finally you’ll finish it,….”
    - The Big Sea, 1940

    8. “Frosting
    Freedom
    Is just frosting
    On somebody else’s
    Cake–
    And so must be
    Till we
    Learn how to
    Bake.”
    - The Panther & the Lash, 1926

    What are some of your favorite works by Langston Hughes? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Sunday said the NFL should consider how referees can control game footballs instead of individual teams and he defended his aggressive stance with congressional Republicans during a live interview during NBC’s Super Bowl pregame show.

    The Obama interview mixed a discussion of the game’s high-profile controversy – deflated footballs – with a brief discussion of politics. But the president ducked picking between possible 2016 Democratic presidential contenders Joe Biden and Hillary Rodham Clinton. “Love `em both,” Obama said with a smile.

    He also wouldn’t pick a favorite in the Patriots Super Bowl match-up against the Seattle Seahawks. “I think it’s always wise for me not to choose a team because then I just alienate one big city,” Obama said.

    As the NFL investigates how the New England Patriots used the deflated balls in their 45-7 AFC championship victory, Obama said the Patriots would have defeated the Indianapolis Colts “regardless of what the footballs looked like.”

    “The one thing I did not realize – and I’ll bet most fans didn’t – was that each team prepares its own footballs and brings them to the game,” Obama said. “I don’t think there’s any other sport like that so I’m assuming one of the things the NFL is going to be doing just to avoid any of these controversies is figuring out how the officials are in charge of the footballs from start to finish.”

    Pressed on whether the Patriots were cheating, Obama said: “I think that if you break the rules then you break the rules.”

    Obama traditionally gives a live interview in the pregame show, and this year Today Show co-host Savannah Guthrie brought a morning show vibe by staging a casual discussion in the White House kitchen over samples of White House-brewed beer.

    On the topic of politics, the president rejected the idea he was doing his own end zone dance with a defiant State of the Union address after Democrats lost seats in the midterm election. “My job is not to trim my sails,” Obama said, confidently arguing for his ability to win over even some of his political rivals. He spoke on the eve of his presentation of a budget to Congress, where his proposals are certain to get a rough reception from the Republican majority.

    “One thing I’ve learned over the last six years is that when I tell the American people very clearly what direction I think the country should go in, sometimes people change their minds,” Obama said. “And even Republicans occasionally start agreeing with me, although sometimes a little bit later than I would like.”

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    PewDangerPoll

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A new study conducted by the Pew Research Center found a large gap between what the public believes is dangerous and what scientists believe.

    For more about this, we are joined now from Washington by Lee Rainie. He is the organization’s director of Internet, science and technology research.

    Your survey showed some really dramatic gaps between what the general public and scientists believe about things like climate change and vaccines and scientific research.

    Let’s talk about some of those gaps, specifically about the foods that we eat.

    You posed the statement that it’s — quote — “safe to eat genetically modified foods, or GMOs.”

    Thirty-seven percent of the general public says it’s safe, whereas 88 percent of scientists said it was.

    On the statement — quote — “It’s safe to eat foods grown with pesticides,” 28 percent of the public agreed those foods are safe, while 68 percent of scientists said they were.

    How do you explain that — that seeming chasm there?

    LEE RAINIE, Director of Internet, Science and Technology Research, Pew Research Center: One of the striking things that has happened in our culture in the past couple of years is that food, food politics, food policy, food as just a part of social life, has been much more elevated.

    And I think people are perhaps more tuned in to sort of food issues now in a way that they weren’t before.

    But it also makes them more sensitive about food issues.

    And so they’re skeptical about the safety of genetically modified food.

    They’re also not sure that scientists are aware of all the safety dangers that are connected with it.

    On the pesticides question, it was much more a case of people just being wary of things that are going into their bodies and a little less sure that the food they are eating might be as safe as scientists think it is.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Let’s talk about one of the survey questions you asked about the growing population of people on Earth.

    You posed the statement that — quote — “The growing population will be a major problem.”

    Fifty-nine percent of the general population felt it will be a problem, while 82 percent of scientists said it would be.

    Some of our viewers might remember Paul Ehrlich back in the late ’60s wrote “The Population Bomb,” raising concerns about the growing population on Earth.

    Since that time, our population has doubled, and yet it seems that the general population doesn’t seem to see this as an issue.

    LEE RAINIE: I think that people are a little less concerned, in part because they — since the time of Ehrlich’s book, even since the time a couple of centuries ago that Thomas Malthus was writing about these issues, we have seen large growth in the population, and yet the amount of cataclysm that you might connect with population growth, like famine and things like that, hasn’t seemed to be on the rise.

    The other thing that might be going on, from the scientists’ perspective here, is that they are worried about what they call wicked problems.

    They see issues like climate change and global warming. And they worry that some of the human contribution to that is making a big problem.

    And yet the public isn’t nearly as close to where scientists are on the solution to global warming.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You asked a question about the value of animal testing. And you said, do you favor the use of animals in research?

    Forty-seven percent of the general public favored it, but 89 percent of scientists approved of it.

    What do you make of that gap?

    LEE RAINIE: I think there’s a real values clash that’s going on here.

    Women are much less likely than men, for instance, to believe that animals should be involved in scientific research.

    In addition, the people who have higher education degrees, they have a college degree or a graduate degree, are much more likely to support the scientific community in its use of animals and research than people who have a high school diploma.

    So, there are a variety of factors there that sort of tie the people’s values, as well as their knowledge about what is going on.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Lee Rainie from the Pew Research Center, thank you very much for joining us.

    LEE RAINIE: Thanks, William.

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    Wu Tianyang, who is five month pregnant with her second child, attends a sonogram at a local hospital in Shanghai September 12, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Barria  (CHINA - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS) - RTR494SD

    A mother attends a sonogram in 2014. The U.K. is slated to vote on a controversial three-person in vitro fertility treatment next week. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

    Should doctors be allowed to exchange bad genes for good ones in order to produce a healthy baby? 

    That’s what members of Parliament are set to decide on Tuesday in the United Kingdom when they vote whether to legalize a provocative technique of three-person in vitro fertilization that gives the offspring genes from a mother, a father and from a female donor.

    If passed, the U.K. would be the first country in the world to legalize this kind of IVF.

    On Sunday, international advocates urged Parliament members Sunday to consider families at risk of incurable genetic disorders when weighing the controversial fertility treatment, known as mitochondrial donation, next week.

    The vote “offers families the first glimmer of hope that they might be able to have a baby that will live without pain and suffering,” representatives from advocacy groups like the U.S.-based United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation wrote in an open letter to British lawmakers, Reuters reported.

    Critics, however, say mitochondrial donation could lead to the creation of “designer babies.”

    During the procedure, a modified egg, made by replacing faulty DNA from the mother’s egg with healthy DNA from the female donor’s, is fertilized and a healthy embryo is implanted into the mother.

    This technique removes the risk of the child later suffering from diseases and conditions like epilepsy or blindness caused by defective genes.

    In June 2014, a panel of scientists came out in support of three-person IVF. London’s charity organization Nuffield Council on Bioethics deemed the technique ethical for families at risk of passing on life-threatening hereditary diseases in 2012.

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    W. S. Merwin, a former U.S. Poet Laureate, reads his poem “Rain Light” from his home in Hawaii. You can find the text of the poem below.

    It was at our second meeting, in New York for an interview in 2008, that William Merwin first said, “You should come visit us in Maui.”

    Yes, I thought, wouldn’t that be fine! But did he really mean it? People say things all the time, don’t they? Merwin, I came to realize, means what he says. I’d been reading his work off and on since the mid-’70s, beginning with his collections, “The Carrier of Ladders” and “The Lice“. I didn’t meet the man himself until years later while doing a story on writers and other artists protesting the Iraq war.

    He is a man of passions — particularly when it comes to the environment — but in my experience, at least, he wears those lightly. I’ve found him a pleasure to be around: dignified, whimsical, a twinkle in his blue eyes, a storyteller with a lot of stories to tell. (Read his memoir, “Summer Doorways“, just for a start).

    So, Maui. It was where William and his wife, Paula, had bought land on an old pineapple plantation. When they came in the ’70s, it was considered an agricultural wasteland of depleted soil ruined by chemicals and deforestation. Slowly, slowly, the Merwins began to build it back and plant trees, first native Hawaiian species and later with seeds from all over the globe. Decades later, it’s considered one of the largest and most important private collections of palm trees in the world.

    But would I ever see it? We all have our regrets, the shoulda’, woulda’, coulda’s of life. About a year ago I started thinking that I didn’t want this to become one of those. There was a sense of urgency: William and Paula are getting older and both have had serious health problems. I wondered whether it was too late. But I started talking to mutual friends, then to Paula’s son John Burnham Schwartz, and then to the Merwins themselves. They said: Yes, come. I’m very glad I did.

    One afternoon my wife and I joined the Merwins on the ‘lanai,’ or patio, of their house in the forest, talking for several hours while drinking Chinese tea that William brewed. The next day I returned with a camera crew and we walked all through the palm forest, talking to the chief gardener, the head of the National Tropical Botanical Garden who’d come over from Kauai, and to William himself. It’s a spectacular, even magical, place, part wild forest, part garden.

    And William is a magical person. At 87, he has lost much of his sight and even reading is difficult. But he knows his way among the palm trees — he planted most of them himself. And when I asked if he would recite a poem for our cameras, he stood in a little opening in the potting area and gave us, as you’ll see here, “Rain Light.”

    Rain Light

    All day the stars watch from long ago
    my mother said I am going now
    when you are alone you will be all right
    whether or not you know you will know
    look at the old house in the dawn rain
    all the flowers are forms of water
    the sun reminds them through a white cloud
    touches the patchwork spread on the hill
    the washed colors of the afterlife
    that lived there long before you were born
    see how they wake without a question
    even though the whole world is burning

    Stay tuned: the PBS NewsHour will broadcast chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown’s conversation with W. S. Merwin in the coming days.

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    “Boyhood” director Richard Linklater reflects on growing up in front of the camera and how changing technology will effect today’s kids who are documented constantly.

    Richard Linklater’s latest film has gotten a lot of attention since it came out in July. In January, “Boyhood” won best motion picture — drama, best director and best supporting actress for Patricia Arquette at the Golden Globes and it’s nominated for six Academy Awards, adding Ethan Hawke to the mix as best actor in a supporting role.

    The film was made over the course of 12 years. It tells the coming-of-age story of a young boy named Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane who began filming at age 6. Coltrane and Linklater’s daughter Lorelei, who plays Mason’s sister, grow up in front of the camera, their childhood passing by on-screen.

    So, were there moments from the director’s childhood when he was happy a camera wasn’t around? His answer, “all of them.”

    Tune in to tonight’s broadcast of the PBS NewsHour to see chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown’s conversation with Richard Linklater. You can watch on our Ustream channel at 6 p.m. EST or check your local listings.

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    US-GAY-MARRIAGE-COURTTwo Supreme Court justices who once seemed open to the idea of cameras in the courtroom said Monday they have reconsidered those views, dashing even faint hopes that April’s historic arguments over gay marriage might be televised.

    In separate appearances, Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor said allowing cameras might lead to grandstanding that could fundamentally change the nature of the high court.

    Sotomayor told an audience in West Palm Beach, Florida, that cameras could change the behavior of both the justices and lawyers appearing at the court, who might succumb to “this temptation to use it as a stage rather than a courtroom.”

    “I am moving more closely to saying I think it might be a bad idea,” she said.

    During her confirmation hearings in 2009, Sotomayor told lawmakers she had a positive experience with cameras and would try to soften other justices’ opposition to cameras.

    Speaking at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, Kagan told an audience that she is “conflicted” over the issue and noted strong arguments on both sides.

    Kagan said that when she used to argue cases before the court as Solicitor General, she wanted the public to see how well prepared the justices were for each case “and really look as though they are trying to get it right.”

    But Kagan said she is wary now of anything “that may upset the dynamic of the institution.”

    She pointed to Congress, which televises floor proceedings, saying lawmakers talk more in made-for-TV sound bites than to each other.

    “If you look at different experiences, when cameras come into a place, the nature of a conversation often changes,” Kagan said. “Honestly, I don’t think Congress is a great advertisement for this.”

    The comments come less than two weeks after demonstrators briefly disrupted proceedings in the courtroom and managed to sneak a camera past security to record part of the protest. It was the second time in a year that the group 99Rise was able to smuggle a camera in and post footage on its website.

    Last month, a coalition of media and public interest groups called on the court to open the gay marriage arguments for broadcast.

    “While the cases affect millions of people’s everyday lives, only those present in the courtroom that day will get to see and hear the oral arguments as they happen,” the Coalition for Court Transparency said in a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts.

    The post The Supreme Court won’t be airing its same-sex marriage decision on live TV appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by NASA

    Long-term space travel may not be kind on the human immune system. Photo by NASA

    Human expeditions to asteroids and Mars are potentially looming on the horizon, with programs such as Mars One even looking to establish a permanent human colony on the red planet. With the potential for long-term human space travel and habitation, researchers are working to understand the potential effects of remaining in regions with little-to-no gravity for extended periods of time.

    Now, according to a study published Monday in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, spaceflight may have detrimental effects on the immune system.

    While simulating the effects of low-gravity conditions on mice, researchers found that exposure to those conditions led to the premature aging of the rodents’ immune systems. The key change was noticed in the bone marrow of the mice, which began to produce the B lymphocyte — cells that create antibodies — at levels similar to those of elderly mice.

    This recent study isn’t the first of its kind to suggest a relationship between spaceflight and negative immune system effects. In August 2014, NASA released results from two collaborative investigations that looked at changes in the immune systems of 28 crew members from the International Space Station. The research found that, during spaceflight, the immune systems of crew members were “confused” — some cell functions were more depressed than normal, while other cell activity was heightened. The problem rested with the lowered function:

    When cell activity is depressed, the immune system is not generating appropriate responses to threats. This may also lead to the asymptomatic viral shedding observed in some crew members, which means latent, or dormant, viruses in the body reawaken, but without symptoms of illness. When activity heightens, the immune system reacts excessively, resulting in things like increased allergy symptoms and persistent rashes, which have been reported by some crew members.

    “Things like radiation, microbes, stress, microgravity, altered sleep cycles and isolation could all have an effect on crew member immune systems,” said Brian Crucian, a NASA immunology expert. “If this situation persisted for longer deep space missions, it could possibly increase risk of infection, hypersensitivity, or autoimmune issues for exploration astronauts.”

    Both the FASEB and NASA studies, however, came to similar conclusions with what to do with the data: prepare. The studies state that the continued study of these immune system responses will be key to creating countermeasures to prevent these immune changes from taking place, whether in the form of drugs or in spacecraft design. In addition, the researchers believe that improved understanding about the immune system may provide benefits to people who choose to remain in Earth’s atmosphere — aiding elderly or bed-ridden people and preventing future disease in healthy adults.

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    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during the sworn-in ceremony of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia. Phto courtesy of REUTERS/Miraflores Palace.

    Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro speaks with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during the sworn-in ceremony of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia. Phto courtesy of REUTERS/Miraflores Palace.

    WASHINGTON — Fraught relations between the United States and Venezuela turned openly hostile on Monday as the U.S. slapped new visa restrictions on Venezuelan officials and their families and Venezuela’s president accused Vice President Joe Biden of plotting to overthrow him.

    Current and former Venezuelan officials believed to be associated with human rights abuses or corruption will be subject to the restrictions, which bars those individuals from entering the United States. In a first, the U.S. said its ban would also apply to the individuals’ immediate family members, too.

    The exchange of barbs undermined hopes that the U.S. and Venezuela could pursue improved ties following a rapid deterioration of relations last year. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. was showing clearly that human rights violators and their families “are not welcome in the United States.”

    Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro reacted angrily, saying he would write a letter to Obama over what he called an attempt to violate Venezuela’s national sovereignty. He argued that U.S. policy toward Venezuela has been kidnapped by “irresponsible, imperial forces that are putting the United States on a dead-end” in its relations with Venezuela and the broader region.

    At the same time, the U.S. dismissed as “ludicrous” Maduro’s recent claim that that Biden had conspired against him.

    In a televised address over the weekend, Maduro claimed that Biden sought to foment the overthrow of his socialist government during a Caribbean energy summit Biden hosted last month in Washington. According to Maduro, Biden told Caribbean heads of state that the Venezuelan government’s days were numbered and it was time they abandon their support.

    “What Vice President Jose Biden did is unspeakable,” Maduro said.

    During the public portion of the energy summit, Biden never mentioned Venezuela in his remarks. It was unclear what Biden might have said to foreign leaders behind closed doors, but the vice president’s office said Maduro’s description of Biden’s comments were “patently false.”

    Biden’s office, in a statement, added that Maduro’s accusations “are clearly part of an effort to distract from the concerning situation in Venezuela, which includes repeated violations of freedom of speech, assembly, and due process.”

    Maduro, who is struggling to keep Venezuela’s oil-dependent economy afloat despite mounting problems, frequently accuses foreign governments of conspiracies, coup attempts and assassination plots, including the U.S.

    The U.S. and Venezuela have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010. But just one month ago, Maduro and Biden shook hands and expressed an interest in warmer relations during an impromptu meeting in Brazil.

    A photograph of Biden and Maduro smiling warmly at each other at Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s swearing-in ceremony became a meme in Venezuela, and Maduro described the meeting as “cordial.” U.S. officials later said Biden had offered ways Venezuela could pursue better U.S. relations, including by releasing political prisoners.

    “Vice President Biden: Look me in the eyes. I saw you in Brazil, I gave you my hand,” Maduro said in his televised address. “You, who said this is a new era for relations in Latin America, were going to conspire against Venezuela.”

    Last year, the U.S. targeted 24 high-ranking Venezuelan officials with a travel ban and Obama signed into law sanctions legislation allowing him to freeze assets of officials involved in a crackdown on opposition protests. Many U.S. lawmakers have advocated for extending travel penalties to family members, noting that while Venezuelan officials themselves don’t tend to travel to the U.S., their wives and children are known to vacation here.

    The U.S. didn’t name the individuals being barred Monday, citing visa confidentiality laws.

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    The nominations for the 2015 Academy Awards were announced this morning. "Boyhood" received a total of six nominations, including best picture, best actor in a supporting role (Ethan Hawke), best actress in a supporting role (Particia Arquette), best directing and best original screenplay.

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: One of the most honored movies of the year, and a leading candidate for several Oscars, is “Boyhood,” a film by an independent director with a unique style of telling stories.

    Jeff spoke with him recently, as part of our occasional feature, NewsHour Goes to the Movies.

    ELLAR COLTRANE, Actor: Yes! Yes! Yes!

    ETHAN HAWKE, Actor: All right. All right. Don’t worry about it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In most films, the aging of characters is a slight of hand, suggested through makeup of using multiple actors.

    In “Boyhood,” the passage of time is real. Director Richard Linklater shot the film over the course of 12 years, annually gathering his four leading actors together for a few days to shoot scenes to tell the story of a young boy named Mason played by Ellar Coltrane from ages 6 to 18.

    RICHARD LINKLATER, Director, “Boyhood”: It was planned as much as it could be. It’s kind of like your life. How much can you really plan for the next 12 years?

    You can have your goals and your outline of what you’re working toward, which is certainly what the film did. I knew the last shot. I knew where I wanted it to end, but I didn’t really — you know, I’m collaborating here with an unknown future, like we are all at all times. So it had to incorporate — it had to incorporate that into the actual storytelling.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Linklater, age 54, has played with time and storytelling often in his career, notably in the so-called “Before” trilogy, “Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight,” which tells the story of a romance between two characters played by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, as they grow older.

    ETHAN HAWKE: I think the book I wrote in a way was like building something, so that I wouldn’t forget the details of the time that we spent together.

    RICHARD LINKLATER: I have always been obsessed with cinematic narrative and storytelling. The artificiality of so much plot always bugged me, so I think I have kind of naturally tended toward time structures, because I think that’s closer to how we actually process time and the way we perceive the world, and even our own — the way we drift through, you know, a day, a year, or a life, you know, is it’s kind of time-based.

    I think it’s one of the fundamentals of kind of my cinematic thinking. It must be because I keep kind of playing around it. I don’t intellectualize it too much.

    PATRICIA ARQUETTE, Actress: You know what I’m realizing? My life is just going to go, like that, a series of milestones, getting married, having kids, getting divorced.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What does that mean, though, the artificiality of film?

    RICHARD LINKLATER: It’s not inherent to film. It’s inherent in storytelling in general. It depends on how you approach it. I think the three-act structure is an artifice. A lot of plot points that work so well in a thriller, you know, that doesn’t happen in most of our lives, but there are these beautiful constructs.

    But all film is a construct. It’s just what you want, how you want to be perceived and how you want an audience to take in your particular story. And if you’re not — I’m often going for a very realistic — I want an audience to lose themselves in the story I’m trying to tell and make it feel like it feels like your own life, to some degree.

    So, cinema can be anything. Let’s face it. And it’s wonderful. It’s the greatest storytelling medium ever. And it can be so many things. And I have done a lot of movies, so each one kind of has its own requirement.

    JEFFREY BROWN: “Boyhood” is filled with scenes that feel like real life, sometimes in all its awkwardness, as here, when Ethan Hawke, playing the divorced dad, picks up his two children.

    ETHAN HAWKE: How about you? How was your week?

    LORELEI LINKLATER, Actress: Fun.

    ETHAN HAWKE: What you been up to?

    LORELEI LINKLATER: Nothing really.

    ETHAN HAWKE: You still working on that sculpture project?

    LORELEI LINKLATER: Yes.

    ETHAN HAWKE: Yes.

    LORELEI LINKLATER: I’m all finished.

    ETHAN HAWKE: What’s it of?

    LORELEI LINKLATER: Nothing.

    RICHARD LINKLATER: It comes from myself as the kid I was once, talking a lot with my dad, who would pick me up on a weekend. And we — our best conversations were in the car, because you’re just in a car. I lived an hour-and-a-half away from him, so we would spend three hours a weekend driving. And that was the best conversations.

    ETHAN HAWKE: That is not how we are going to talk to one another. All right? I will not be that guy. You cannot put me in that category, all right, the biological father I spend every other week with and I make polite conversation, you know, while he drives me places and buys me — no.

    RICHARD LINKLATER: It’s fun to see him sort of figuring out fatherhood and being a very conscientious parent and trying so hard. It’s endearing.

    So, and Ethan and I are very similar in that way, that, you know, our parents were divorced, and we have these relationship, both in our past and to varying degrees in our present. So, you know, a film — a scene like that comes up pretty natural for us.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Linklater works collaboratively, getting ideas from his actors, including his young ones. But, he says, this is not improvised.

    RICHARD LINKLATER: I never really improvise. I never have.

    There’s a couple of moments even in “Boyhood” where — I knew what they were going to say. We were on subject. And I had two cameras, and I let — in one case, it’s a campfire scene, where Ethan, as dad, and Ellar as son are — they’re talking about a potential future “Star Wars” movie, if there ever was going to be one.

    ETHAN HAWKE: You think they will ever make another “Star Wars”?

    ELLAR COLTRANE: I don’t know. I think if they were to make another one, that the period where this game is set is where it would have to be, because there’s nothing after, really.

    ETHAN HAWKE: Yes. “Return of the Jedi,” it’s over. There’s nothing…

    ELLAR COLTRANE: Yes, there’s nothing else to do there.

    RICHARD LINKLATER: And we had talked about it. I knew what they were going to say in general, but I didn’t think it had to be scripted specifically.

    But, other than that, everything is very scripted and very rehearsed and planned out just to — it has to be very tight for me to make it seem loose. I wouldn’t know how to turn on the camera and see what happens.

    ACTOR: One time, I had lunch with Tolstoy. Another time, I was a roadie for Frank Zappa.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Richard Linklater came out of the independent film world, scoring early hits like “Slacker” in 1991 and in 1993 “Dazed and Confused.”

    ACTOR: I want that piece of paper on my desk before you leave here today. Do you hear me?

    JEFFREY BROWN: In a world of blockbusters made for far more money, he has continued to build a career of smaller, more personal films.

    RICHARD LINKLATER: Look at the end of the year here. A lot of the films that people are talking about would definitely fall into personal visions from directors. And, you know, they’re not big, manufactured entertainments, but they are — you know, they succeed in their own way.

    So there’s always a lot of films like that. Hollywood is more — I would think their business model changed. They’re structured because of the cost to only do bigger films, so they have kind of abdicated the middle ground of the films they used to do — are completely done kind of outside their system.

    They will still distribute them, though. So, it’s always changing, but the bottom line, it’s always a good year for movies. There’s always a ton of great movies, more than you will have time to see, worldwide, and people will always want to make movies that mean a lot to them personally.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the film is “Boyhood.”  Richard Linklater is the director.

    Thanks so much for talking with us.

    RICHARD LINKLATER: Yes, good talking to you, man. Good to be here.

    GWEN IFILL: Jeff continues his conversation with Richard Linklater online, where the director recommends five of his favorite films.

    Find that list on our home page, PBS.org/NewsHour.

    The post Director Richard Linklater collaborates with the future in ‘Boyhood’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    TAKING SHOTS monitor measles

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: President Obama echoed the concerns of health officials yesterday when he said in an interview that children should be vaccinated.

    Joining me now is Patricia Stinchfield. She’s the director of infection prevention and control for the Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota.

    Welcome. Thank you for joining us.

    How does this outbreak compare to what we have seen in the past? Or should we be really worried by these numbers?

    PATRICIA STINCHFIELD, Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota: I think we should be concerned by these numbers because the spread of measles is so easy to happen amongst people who are un-immunized.

    That virus can stay aloft in the air for two hours after someone with measles has walked through a room, whether it’s a lobby in a clinic, or  a grocery store or a football game. And anyone who comes through that room who is not immunized will get measles; 90 percent of un-immunized will get measles. It’s very contagious.

    I spent my 27-year career at Children’s ever since the 1990s measles outbreak trying to explain to people how dangerous measles is. You had an entire ward filled with measles kids, and two of them died. And ever since then, I have tried to commit myself and Children’s in Minnesota has as well to the message that measles is dangerous, measles kills.

    It gets in the lungs, it gets in the brain. It is not just a virus. The vaccine is safe, it’s effective, it works, and it should be used by parents to help protect their children.

    GWEN IFILL: Is there any other reason to explain the sudden return of measles, other than the fact that people decided that vaccinations are not safe?

    PATRICIA STINCHFIELD: Well, we’re a global society. And we do know that measles cases in the United States do have an international link, oftentimes.

    But we also know that, in the last few years, we have seen a dramatic increase in many communities of people opting out of vaccines. This is a recipe for an outbreak. If you have a vulnerable community and you have an introduction of the measles virus, you will have disease.

    And we’re seeing that come out of California and spread very quickly through the United States. I think the good news here is that if we didn’t have 90 percent of parents following the usual immunization schedule, we wouldn’t be talking about 100 cases. We would be talking about thousands and thousands of cases.

    GWEN IFILL: But that is the number that confounds me. If 92, 95 percent of people are getting the vaccination, how much is this — how dangerous is this, except for a small subset who are not?

    PATRICIA STINCHFIELD: Well, we always have vulnerable populations.

    So, you can only get the vaccine when you’re 12 months of age and older. That’s your first dose. So, lots of babies are under 1 year of age, and that special vulnerable valley is from six months to 12 months, where mom’s antibodies have dropped off, they’re not old enough yet to get the vaccine. So babies six months to 12 months are especially vulnerable.

    Pregnant women can have severe miscarriages if they get measles. And then of course immune-deficient or those people getting chemotherapy or cancer are very highly at risk for a severe measles case.

    GWEN IFILL: How does this outbreak compare to other ones we have discussed certainly on this program before involving the flu or Ebola?

    PATRICIA STINCHFIELD: Well, they’re — Ebola, flu and measles are all viruses. They’re all contagious.

    But there is nothing as contagious as measles. It’s highly contagious. I would say influenza is next, HIV below that, and Ebola is the lowest in terms of viral contagion. It’s very difficult to get Ebola. It’s very easy to get measles. Both can take people’s lives, however.

    There’s a vaccine for measles, measles-mumps-rubella. There is not a vaccine for Ebola. And at this point in time, there’s no reason for parents not to vaccinate their children and protect them against measles.

    GWEN IFILL: Are there other diseases where people — where vaccines — or choosing not to have a vaccine has shown that that disease is back or is on the rise?

    PATRICIA STINCHFIELD: We are definitely seeing more whooping cough than we have. There’s been spread of whooping cough, or pertussis, throughout the country in the last few years. That vaccine is not quite as effective as measles vaccine, but also the spread is going through communities of those who are opting out of vaccines.

    We are seeing an increase in that as well.

    GWEN IFILL: And finally and briefly, what are the symptoms that we should be on the lookout for when it comes to measles?

    PATRICIA STINCHFIELD: Measles as fever, rash and the three C’s. The C’s are cough, conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, and then coryza, or runny nose.

    But the rash looks like a bucket of rash that is poured over the head and goes down onto the trunk, and then clears that way. It’s a very distinct rash, but only for those of us who have seen it. So, get in and get checked if that’s the rash you’re seeing.

    GWEN IFILL: Dr. Patricia Stinchfield at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, thank you very much.

    PATRICIA STINCHFIELD: Thanks for having me.

    The post Opting out of vaccination is ‘recipe for outbreak’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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