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

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    A pedestrians walks past the Little Green Pharmacy medical cannabis dispensary in Denver, Colorado, on Tuesday, August 2, 2011. Photo by Randall Benton/Sacramento Bee via Getty Images

    A pedestrians walks past the Little Green Pharmacy medical cannabis dispensary in Denver, Colorado, on Tuesday, August 2, 2011. Photo by Randall Benton/Sacramento Bee via Getty Images

    Finally, science has discovered why marijuana gives people the munchies.

    Potheads and doctors have known for a long time that smoking weed increases appetite, said Tamas Horvath, a neurobiologist at Yale University School of Medicine. But how does a drug make people ravenously hungry?

    “What drives that, nobody has ever really known. We accidentally bumped into that,” Horvath told The Washington Post.

    In a paper published in the journal Nature Neuroscience this week, Horvath and his colleagues found that cannabis tricks your brain into thinking you’re starving, even if you’re full.

    “It’s like pressing a car’s brakes and accelerating instead,” Horvath said in a press release. “We were surprised to find that the neurons we thought were responsible for shutting down eating, were suddenly being activated and promoting hunger, even when you are full. It fools the brain’s central feeding system.”

    Our brains produce their own cannabinoids, lipids that help control our appetite, mood, memory and pain reception. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, produced in marijuana latches on to cannabinoid receptors in our brain, mimicking the same chemicals.

    Horvath found that THC flips a switch in the mouse’s hypothalamus. Instead of producing the chemical that signals you’re full, suddenly neurons start telling the hypothalamus you’re hungry.

    “Even if you just had dinner and you smoke the pot, all of a sudden these neurons that told you to stop eating become the drivers of hunger,” Horvath told NPR.

    Horvath’s lab found in earlier studies that cannabis also plays with cannabinoid receptors in olfactory bulb, which not only makes food smell and taste more intense, it also affects how much we eat.

    Mice make a good model, but further research is needed to determine if this is what is happening in humans too, Horvath said.

    The post Why weed makes you super hungry, according to science appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Miss P, a 15-inch Beagle who won "Best in Show", is run during the final judging at the139th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in the Manhattan borough of New York February 17, 2015.  REUTERS/Mike Segar  (UNITED STATES - Tags: ANIMALS SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR4Q0LC

    If we’re being honest, Miss P stole the show. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    Fanfare and pageantry, egos and talent, multi-synonym names — the Westminster Dog show has it all.

    For those who made it to the creme de la creme of canine competitions, the pressure began immediately. Here’s what happened to those dogs before, during and after Miss P, a beagle whose full name is Ch Tashtins Lookin for Trouble, won Best-in-Show Tuesday night.

    They prepared

    Ace, a Basset Hound from Lithuania, wears a hood as he waits with a handler before competition in the Hound Group at the 139th Westminster Kennel Club's Dog Show in the Manhattan borough of New York February 16, 2015.  REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS) - RTR4PU1A

    Ace, a Basset Hound from Lithuania, stands at attention before competing in the Hound Group competition. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    Milton, a Bulldog from Fitch Bay Quebec, Canada, stands with his owners as they check into the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York City ahead of the139th Westminster Kennel Club's Annual Dog Show in the Manhattan borough of New York February 15, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS) - RTR4POXF

    A master at the art of meditation, Milton — a bulldog from Fitch Bay Quebec, Canada — readies for the big show. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    Mick, an Alaskan Malamute from Portland, Oregon waits for an elevator with his owner and handler Thea Robinson inside the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York City ahead of the139th Westminster Kennel Club's Annual Dog Show in the Manhattan borough of New York February 15, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS) - RTR4POYQ

    Don’t let Mick — an Alaskan Malamute from Portland, Oregon — and his goofball look fool you. This face is all part of his strategy. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    They lounged

    Rocket, a Shih Tzu and winner of the Toy Group, sits before the "best in show" judging at the 2015 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York February 17, 2015.  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: ANIMALS SOCIETY) - RTR4Q097

    It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, but that didn’t seem to worry Rocket, a Shih Tzu and winner of the Toy Group. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    Lana, a standard Poodle from Scarsdale, New York yawns in the grooming area before judging at the139th Westminster Kennel Club's Dog Show in the Manhattan borough of New York February 16, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS) - RTR4PT29

    Lana — a Poodle from Scarsdale — doesn’t have time for your nonsense. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    They obeyed humored

     A Neapolitan Mastiff looks on before the Working Group round of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show on February 17, 2015 in New York City. The show, which is in its 139th year and is called the second-longest continuously running sporting event in the United States, includes 192 dog breeds and draws nearly 3,000 global competitors. This year's event began on Monday and will conclude with the awarding of 'Best In Show' on Tuesday night. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

    “Whatever,” thought this Neapolitan Mastiff. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    An Old English Sheepdog in the judging area at Pier 92 and 94 in New York City on the first day of competition at the 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show February 16, 2015. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is a two-day, all-breed benched show that takes place at both Pier 92 & 94 and at Madison Square Garden in New York City.    AFP PHOTO /  TIMOTHY  A. CLARY        (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

    “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful,” said this Old English Sheepdog. Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

    THE WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB DOG SHOW -- 'The 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show' at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Tuesday, February 17, 2014 -- Pictured: Skye Terrier -- (Photo by: Dave Kotinsky/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

    Pro-tip from Skye Terrier GCH Cragsmoor Good Time Charlie: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Photo by Dave Kotinsky/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    They performed

    THE WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB DOG SHOW -- "The 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show" at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Tuesday, February 17, 2014 -- Pictured: Flame the Standard Poodle -- (Photo by: Dave Kotinsky/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank)

    Flame, also known as GCH Dawin Hearts On Fire, was ecstatic after winning first in the Non-Sporting group. Photo by Dave Kotinsky/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank

    A dog competes during an agility event at the 139th Westminster Kennel Club's Annual Dog Show in the Manhattan borough of New York February 14, 2015.     REUTERS/Carlo Allegri   (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS) - RTR4PLG4

    This dog thought it was leaps and bounds over the rest of the competition. Photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    A Komondor runs during competition in the Working Group, at the139th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, at Madison Square Garden in the Manhattan borough of New York, February 17, 2015.  REUTERS/Mike Segar  (UNITED STATES - Tags: ANIMALS SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR4Q0GM

    This Komondor worked it in the Working Group competition. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    The post Photos: Dogs being dogs at the Westminster Dog Show appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user nola_agent

    Photo by Flickr user nola_agent

    Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has apologized to India for a police officer’s handling of a 57-year Indian man who left was severely injured and partially paralyzed.

    Writing to Indian Consul General Ajit Kumar, the governor on Tuesday said that he deeply regretted the “unfortunate use of excessive force” on Sureshbhai Patel, who had in early February gone out for a walk in Madison, a suburb of Huntsville, Alabama, when two police officers approached him in response to a call of a suspicious person. The caller described Patel as a “skinny black guy.” Footage from a dashboard camera showed that while the officers held Patel’s hands behind his back, he was forcibly pushed onto the ground.

    India’s Ministry of External Affairs released a statement saying, “We want to make it abundantly clear that we are extremely worried about what has happened to Mr. Sureshbhai Patel, an Indian national … We intend to leave no stone unturned in communicating our approach to all authorities, therefore we will communicate it in Washington, in Alabama and, if necessary, again in New Delhi.”

    Eric Parker, the officer who inflicted the injury, was suspended from the Madison Police Department. He has since been charged with assault, although he has pleaded not guilty.

    Harvey Sherrod, the Patel family’s lawyer, has sued the Madison Police Department, and the FBI is conducting its own investigation to see if federal laws were violated.

    Patel had been in the United States for less than two weeks when he was encountered by the two officers. He was there to help care for his grandson, who was born prematurely.

    Less than a week after the incident, a fundraiser to cover Patel’s medical expenses was initiated. As of today, it has raised more than $190,000.

    Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect that Sureshbhai Patel was in Madison when the incident occurred.

    The post Alabama governor apologizes to India for alleged police assault on one of its citizens appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    matheny2

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Now to a profile of a man who’s truly become a pioneer in helping to develop advanced arm prosthetics.

    Last week, science correspondent Miles O’Brien reported on the latest in artificial limbs and their limitations.

    Tonight, he tells us the personal story of an amputee who’s willing to take risks.

    Johnny Matheny is the Chuck Yeager of advanced arm prosthetics. He has tested them all and is pushing the barriers.

    WOMAN: And stretch again. Ready, and go.

    MILES O’BRIEN: He is a pioneer.

    JOHNNY MATHENY, Advanced Prosthetics Test Subject: And everybody tells me that I’m the only one that has had my stump into every advanced prosthetic in the United States.

    Yes, I would say I’m a pioneer of it now.

    MILES O’BRIEN: He lost his arm to cancer in 2008. Unable to return to work as a retail bread sales and delivery man, he was looking for a new purpose in life. He wondered if he could help wounded warriors.

    JOHNNY MATHENY: I said, I have had three children in the service. I said, luckily, they have come out with all their extremities, but they have had a lot of their buddies that wasn’t so lucky. And I would like to get in to maybe help contribute — contribute back for all those who give for us.

    I want to be able to have an arm that they can put back on, that they can go right in, and they can touch their baby’s cheek and feel the softness of the skin. I want them to be able to go down and change their diapers and know that they have got it right, it wasn’t too loose or too tight.

    What I wanted to do was get myself working to a way that I could contribute to helping out with the new prosthetics and stuff that would be coming along.

    I will tell you what I’m doing with my phantom limb, so you will know how it’s creating this here. It’s like, right now, I’m opening my hand up.

    MILES O’BRIEN: He underwent targeted muscle reinnovation surgery, which moved the nerves that control his missing limb into muscles in his stump, so that he can better control the modular prosthetic limb designed at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory,

    He has volunteered to be a subject in a study at Cleveland VA Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University which is giving arm amputees sensory feedback from their prosthetic. And he’s interested in participating in a study osseointegration prosthetics, which are implanted in an amputee’s bone.

    At age 60, Johnny believes he’s the perfect person to take the risks on behalf of other amputees.

    JOHNNY MATHENY: I would rather it be me than these young guys coming back, because still got their whole life ahead of them. I want to be up there. If it works, that’s great. If it fails, I would rather it be me than somebody else.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Johnny is a man on a mission. He has turned misfortune into an opportunity to help change the world for the better.

    JOHNNY MATHENY: Ever since I have been small, I have always thought there was a reason for the season. So, certain things happen to you in your lifetime, you know there’s a reason for it.

    And you — and most of the time, you know, you may not know at the beginning what it is, but eventually you figure out why. And that’s the way it is. When I lost my arm, I had not a clue, you know, why I would lose my arm. And then all of a sudden, man, it just — this world opened up, I got on this train, and I have been at full speeds ever since. They just can’t slow me down.

    MILES O’BRIEN: He is helping researchers break the barrier between engineering and biology.

    JOHNNY MATHENY: It’s A-OK, Joe.

    MILES O’BRIEN: One intrepid volunteer making bionics a reality.

    JOHNNY MATHENY: I will be able to walk down the road and see some of the arms that I have worked with, I have tried, I know they work. I have bettered somebody’s life. And I can hold my head up high and throw my shoulders back and say, yes, I helped them. That’s my payday.

    MILES O’BRIEN: Miles O’Brien, the PBS NewsHour, Laurel, Maryland.

    WOMAN: All right, and we have got octopus arm.

    JOHNNY MATHENY: Now you can see octopus arm.

    WOMAN: Oh, my gosh.

    The post Meet a pioneer of advanced arm prosthetics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Kahindo, 20, sits in her home with her two children born out of rape in the village of Kayna, North Kivu, in Eastern Congo, April 12, 2008. Kahindo was kidnapped and held for almost three years in the bush by six interhamwe, who she claims were Rwandan soldiers.  They each raped her repeatedly, and she had one child in the forest, and was pregnant with the second by the time she escaped.  An average of 400 women per month were estimated to be sexually assaulted in the autumn of 2007 in eastern Congo, while in the first months of 2008, the figure dropped to an average of 100 women per month. Still, many women never make it to treatment centers, and are not accounted for in these statistics. Photo by Lynsey Addario

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: the life and times of a prize-winning photojournalist who has covered every major international conflict over the past 15 years.

    Jeffrey Brown has our book conversation.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Cuba 1997, Calcutta 2000, Afghanistan before and after the Taliban, Iraq with American forces in Baghdad, famine and war in Darfur, and Libya, where, in 2011, she was bound, blindfolded and held with three fellow journalists for six days by soldiers of Moammar Gadhafi.

    Photojournalist Lynsey Addario, the youngest of four girls from a Connecticut suburb, has traveled the world and now tells her story in a memoir, “It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War.”

    And welcome to you.

    LYNSEY ADDARIO, Author, “It’s What I Do”: Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Early in this book, you tell of an epiphany that comes at an exhibition from the great photographer Sebastiao Salgado, where you see that photography can be art and journalism?

    LYNSEY ADDARIO: Yes, it was a moment.

    I hadn’t — I had no training in photojournalism or in photography, so I really was learning as I went along. And I remember walking into this exhibition of Salgado’s. And I walked in and the prints were massive. They were just wall-size.

    And I looked around, and I was so overcome by not only the beauty of the images, but the power of the images and the fact they were showing the lives of these workers.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, what did it make you want to do?

    LYNSEY ADDARIO: It made me want to do that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes? Yes?

    LYNSEY ADDARIO: It made me want to use photographs to tell stories.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And how do you do that? Give me an example. One focus throughout your work has been on women, for example, especially in the Muslim world. So how do you tell the stories of them?

    LYNSEY ADDARIO: Sure.

    I try — first of all, I do a lot of research before I even go. So people think photography is about lifting the camera and taking a picture. To me, it’s so much about doing your homework, going into a situation, getting to know the subject, making them feel comfortable, getting intimate access, getting access to all different aspects of people’s lives, so that I am essentially telling an entire story, and not just a single one.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All this is before you lift the camera, I mean, getting comfortable, getting into their lives?

    LYNSEY ADDARIO: Getting — exactly. All of that is before I even start shooting, unless we’re talking about covering a front line.

    To me, covering a front line, you just go in, and there is so much happening around you, it’s just a matter of shooting. But when I’m documenting, for example, a story on women in Afghanistan, I will do a huge amount of research and a lot of time on the ground just getting to know the women before I even start shooting.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In covering front lines or in other dangerous situations, you write about how it’s not that you don’t feel fear, right? You do feel fear, but you feel something else. What’s the compulsion to be there?

    LYNSEY ADDARIO: Well, I think I feel fear the entire time I’m on the ground usually, because the proximity to the possibility of dying is so obvious. And when there are bullets flying everywhere, of course it’s terrifying.

    But for me, I try and manage that fear and I try and compartmentalize it while I’m working, and put it somewhere, and continue to photograph. But, also, when I’m actually in that situation, and I initially feel the fear, I forget to photograph, because I’m trying to figure out how to stay alive.

    So I remember, in the Korengal Valley, we had been on a six-day-long operation with the 173rd Airborne Battle Company, and we had been dropped onto the side of a mountain and we were walking six days. And we were ambushed by the Taliban on the sixth day. And we were hit from three sides.

    And I actually had run off alone to find a place to go to the bathroom, and the ambush started. And when I finally made my way down the mountain and got back with the troops, I still hadn’t taken a picture, like, five minutes into the ambush. And I remember looking to my right, and the late photographer Tim Hetherington was just standing there filming.

    And I just thought, oh, my God, I’m the worst photographer ever. I have completely forgotten.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But even mentioning his name, Tim Hetherington, who died doing the work, you must get asked this all the time. Why do it? Why put yourself…

    LYNSEY ADDARIO: Everyone asks me that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    LYNSEY ADDARIO: And everyone says, do you do it for the adrenaline?

    No. I think — I think, as a person who has done — covered conflict for the last 15 years, I didn’t voluntarily just start covering war to be a war photographer. There were the issues that I felt were important. I would go to cover the issues. And then at some point, I would get pulled into the actual combat because it was part of the story.

    But for me, it’s more about being there, bearing witness to history, bearing witness to what’s happening, what our country, the position our country is taking overseas. I want policy-makers to see the fruits of their decisions, basically, and to try and influence foreign policy.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You know, in that very harrowing section of the book about the capture of what happened in Libya, you write about the danger is growing, your sense of it is growing.

    LYNSEY ADDARIO: Sure.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You’re with three other journalists, all men, and then you say, I didn’t want to be the cowardly photographer or the terrified girl who prevented the men from doing the work. You didn’t want to speak up and say, hey, guys, we have got to get out of here.

    LYNSEY ADDARIO: Sure. Sure. Sure.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You were already a very experienced war photojournalist then, but you still felt that?

    LYNSEY ADDARIO: I think I will always feel it. I think that I will always feel — I’m aware of my gender. And my colleagues are not. I — my colleagues wouldn’t have cared less had I been the one to say, hey, let’s go.

    I do think that I work in a man’s world. I work — there are not that many women war correspondents — or war photographers. Actually, there are correspondents. There just are not many women war photographers. And I’m always sort of aware of my gender in those situations. And so I think at some point, Steve Farrell said, hey, it’s time to go. And I sort of was like, oh, yes, I agree. Me, too.

    But I think…

    JEFFREY BROWN: But it was too late.

    LYNSEY ADDARIO: It was late at that point. I think we all were very conscious of the fact after the fact that we had pushed the envelope.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You do say here that, because this is about love, as well as war, right, that episode did change your life in some way. You decided to have a child finally with your husband.

    LYNSEY ADDARIO: I did. I think it was a combination of many things. I think it was what happened in Libya. I think it was the fact that Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed in Libya exactly a month after we were released, and Joao Silva, the photographer, New York Times photographer, had just lost his legs in Afghanistan.

    And they were all friends. And I was seeing what was happening around me. And I had put my personal life on hold for 35 years. And I finally said, OK, now it’s time.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But you continue it, the work?

    LYNSEY ADDARIO: I continue. I do continue the work.

    I am still working war zones, but I’m trying to stay safe. I’m trying to do it in a way that I am not in the middle of combat. I’m covering refugees. I’m covering the humanitarian aspect, but less going into combat.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the memoir is, “It’s What I Do.”

    Lynsey Addario, thank you so much.

    LYNSEY ADDARIO: Thank you so much.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you can see a slide show of some of Lynsey Addario’s photographs on our Web site. That’s at PBS.org/NewsHour.

     

     

     

     

    The post Photojournalist Lynsey Addario focuses on war and love in her new memoir appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    SCIENCE AND BELIEF monitor

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: So, even snowfall can spark debate. Some say it’s proof global warming doesn’t exist. Others argue it is proof climate change is behind the extreme weather. It’s just another example where science and doubt feed on each other.

    We wondered whether that divide, what you might call a culture of disbelief, is taking hold.

    WOMAN: Every parent has a right to choose what is in the best interest of their children. If you go online and you read, there’s horrific stories.

    GWEN IFILL: Those stories are about vaccines. And it’s the kind of misinformation that health officials say has dangerous consequences. More than 140 cases of measles have surfaced in 17 states. That’s in under two months. There were nearly 700 cases all of last year. A decade ago, there were fewer than 50

    Most who’ve gotten sick this year, including in an outbreak at California’s Disneyland, were not vaccinated, this in spite of efforts from health officials to calm doubts about the vaccines themselves.

    DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. Surgeon General: They know they are safe, that they are effective when it comes to measles, and that they are what the scientific community recommends.

    GWEN IFILL: For many, the debate over what is true and what is believable extends far and wide. According to the Pew Research Center, 86 percent of scientists think childhood vaccines should be required. But just 68 percent of U.S. adults agree.

    On another hot-button issue, climate change, the gulf is even wider; 87 percent of scientists believe climate change is caused by human activity. Only half of adults agree. The biggest gap in the Pew survey: the safety of genetically modified foods; 88 percent of scientists say they’re OK to eat, but only 37 percent of adults surveyed buy into that.

    No matter what the scientists say, the disconnect extends to other issues as well, including evolution and the value of using animals in research.

    National Geographic magazine’s March cover story tackles those issues.

    We’re joined by its author, Joel Achenbach, a writer for The Washington Post, and Cary Funk, the associate director of research at the Pew Research Center, who came up with some of those interesting numbers we just saw.

    Joel, why is nothing settled?

    JOEL ACHENBACH, The Washington Post: Everything is contested now.

    I think one of the differences today is just the Internet. It has changed the whole information universe. It’s democratized, small-D, information out there. There are fewer sort of gatekeepers of knowledge.

    Instead, people go out and seek information, and they often find what they’re looking for that reinforces their belief. The Internet, you know, it doesn’t facilitate consensus, as anyone has noticed who’s gone on the Internet. Instead, it creates these sort of filter bubbles, these rabbit holes, these echo chambers. And these communities of sort of alternative knowledge develop that are often in opposition to the scientific mainstream.

    GWEN IFILL: So, you can selectively find something to support whatever it is you already…

    JOEL ACHENBACH: Whatever you believe.

    GWEN IFILL: … to believe.

    So, as you were doing the research, Cary Funk, did people give reasons for why they absolutely disagree with what the scientists say?

    CARY FUNK, Pew Research Center: In some cases.

    Certainly, when it game to G.M. foods, we asked a second follow-up question about whether or not scientists have a clear understanding of the health effects of G.M. foods, and about two-thirds said, no, they don’t have a clear understanding. So, in that case, it looks like there’s some skepticism about how much knowledge there is.

    GWEN IFILL: Is the skepticism defined by gender or age or any other kind of educational level?

    CARY FUNK: I mean, that’s actually what’s really interesting, looking across this set of science-related topics, is that it varies depending on what issue we’re talking about.

    So, I think vaccines, we were talking about, has a strong relationship with age. Younger adults are less likely to say vaccines should be required. But when it came to something, I think, like the safety of G.M. foods, age groups don’t really differ.

    GWEN IFILL: Joel?

    JOEL ACHENBACH: One thing that’s different about the world we’re in today is, this is such a highly engineered world that’s more complicated than the one that my grandmother lived in on the farm in Indiana.

    I mean, she didn’t have to worry about genetically modified foods. She grew her own food out in the garden.

    GWEN IFILL: So, there was no question.

    JOEL ACHENBACH: There’s no question that we are faced with these technological issues that are — they’re not intuitive, that we have to do a lot of risk analysis of things that we don’t know very much about.

    And although science will say, well, this is the consensus on it, this is the best science has to offer, it’s easy nowadays to find contrarian views, anti-scientific views, pseudoscientific views, whether it’s Bigfoot or UFOs or whatever.

    And some of these issues are, I think, really important issues for the future of the planet. Climate change is such a contentious issue now, even though it wasn’t nearly as divisive just 15, 20 years ago.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, I wonder whether there has always been a community of contrarians who have always existed and that perhaps these kinds of issues and the technology feeds that and allow it to exist and to flourish.

    CARY FUNK: Yes.

    I mean, the Internet and the rise of the Internet is certainly one source of change, but scientific innovation is also picking up the pace. That’s happening at a faster, faster pace, and science is really a big, broad cluster or conglomeration of topics. It’s not one thing.

    So that’s part of what we’re seeing, is that there are lots of attitudes that are influenced by longstanding values, religious beliefs, political beliefs, other personal experiences. And that’s actually a longstanding pattern we have seen many years, but we have new issues.

    GWEN IFILL: And people aren’t necessarily anti-science in these views, I gather.

    CARY FUNK: Right.

    JOEL ACHENBACH: No, but people love science.

    GWEN IFILL: They do.

    JOEL ACHENBACH: I mean, scientists have an enormous amount of respect and trust in a society in which a lot of institutions do not anymore.

    I mean, look at Congress or even look at the news media. But scientists in general are respected. And when I did my interview for the “National Geographic” story, I was struck at how, on even these really contention issues, people don’t say, I don’t believe in science. They say, well, I have my own set of facts, my own information, my own science.

    GWEN IFILL: Were you surprised how big the gaps were in agreement on this, Cary?

    CARY FUNK: Yes, actually, we were.

    One thing, we were surprised about the size of the gaps. That 51-point gap on the safety of G.M. foods was larger than I have seen over 30 years, as well as the frequency of gaps across the set of diverse issues.

    GWEN IFILL: Who benefits when the divide goes that deeply? Who is — there certainly is an industry out there which is interested in keeping the differences on display.

    JOEL ACHENBACH: Well, I think that there are people who are demagogues in the media world that benefit from, you know, dividing and conquering. They want to have people who — they want to say, trust only me on this issue.

    I think the stakes are large for all of us in this more technological, engineered world, where we need to get this stuff right, because, I mean, just last week, the National Academy of Sciences put out a report on geoengineering. And one of the ideas is shooting up aerosols into the atmosphere to block sunlight as a way of combating climate change potentially, a very iffy idea.

    Should we do something like that? And the public needs to be to — to understand how science works, understand the process of it. And we all need to try to find sources that we can trust that are reliable because the stakes are so large.

    GWEN IFILL: You see, but that’s the point, sources that we can trust that are reliable. And you can decide what you consider your source is.

    JOEL ACHENBACH: This show right here.

    GWEN IFILL: Right here — other than this program.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: I wonder whether a little skepticism isn’t helpful in the public debate, in the public arena?

    CARY FUNK: There are so many issues. In fact, what you brought up is an example of how much there would be to know if you tried to master the whole universe.

    JOEL ACHENBACH: Right.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    CARY FUNK: And that’s probably not realistic.

    People are busy. They have multiple things they do in their lives. And studying all the scientific issues is probably not the only thing they have in mind.

    JOEL ACHENBACH: And you’re exactly right. Skepticism is good. And scientists are skeptics.

    Doubt is a tool in science. And it’s a tool in journalism, too. We don’t believe everything we’re told. We try to figure out…

    GWEN IFILL: We’re not supposed to.

    JOEL ACHENBACH: We’re not supposed to.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, this has an effect, we assume, on policy somewhere along the line.

    JOEL ACHENBACH: Yes. And then the question is, for scientists — you can take it away here — is, on — the most recent poll showed that I think it was 87 percent of scientists think they should be involved with policy issues, but involved in what way is the question.

    CARY FUNK: Right. And that remains an open question. And I think, really, science issues have become civic issues.

    So, for the public as well, the question is, you know, how does this play into their policy views?

    GWEN IFILL: It’s very fascinating. And I get the feeling we’re going to see a lot more gaps widening and closing, or maybe not closing.

    Cary Funk from the Pew Research Center, Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post, National Geographic, thank you very much.

    JOEL ACHENBACH: Thank you.

    CARY FUNK: Thank you.

     

    The post Why we pick and choose which science to believe appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    GWEN IFILL: If it’s possible for an entire major metropolitan city to be under the weather, Boston fits the bill this winter. The latest round of snowfall dumped on New England has shuttered schools, stalled mass transit, and smothered an entire region. And, yes, the forecast calls for more snow this weekend.

    Emily Rooney of public broadcaster WGBH looks at how tough New Englanders are coping with the present and preparing for the future.

    EMILY ROONEY, WGBH News, Boston: The storms have all had different names, Juno, Kari, Linus, Marcus, Neptune, and Octavia, but they all look the same to us.

    It’s not that we aren’t used to snow in Boston. We are. It’s just that there’s been so much coming so fast with no end in sight. During torrential winter downpours, New Englanders like to say, imagine if this was snow. This winter, we have been robbed of our imagination.

    Since January 27, Bostonians have weathered a relentless string of storms, dumping almost 100 inches in total, and with no thaws in between, it’s layer upon layer, pile upon pile.

    WOMAN: When it snows like this, where are you going to put the snow?

    EMILY ROONEY: There’s been an on-street parking ban in effect on and off for three weeks, but in Boston, a ban on parking doesn’t necessarily mean much. Crowded brownstone neighborhoods are exempt. You can keep your own car in your own private igloo for as long as you want.

    CANDACE CUMMINGS: Everywhere you look, there are just mountains. And, sometimes, you say, is there a car underneath that?

    EMILY ROONEY: Candace Cummings admits she didn’t dig out the spot where her car is currently parked, but says she does her part.

    CANDACE CUMMINGS: With the limited parking in the South End, doing just like five minutes of shoveling helps everyone who is going to need parking down the line.

    EMILY ROONEY: And just down the street, David Breckley is helping out a neighbor whose car has been socked in for more than three weeks.

    What’s your plan of attack here? Are you going to get through this?

    DAVID BRECKLEY: Hopefully cutting across here, and if I can get some of it over there just to make a pathway.

    EMILY ROONEY: This phone keeps going off, so somebody else wants to have him get their car out.

    DAVID BRECKLEY: Yes.

    EMILY ROONEY: But not everyone is so friendly. According to a time-honored practice in some neighborhoods, you shovel it, you own it, at least for now, with a red cone, a lawn chair, or something more creative marking your spot.

    Boston’s South End is trying to ban space savers. Tell that to the owners of two cars who had their tires slashed for parking in a spot someone else had shoveled out. And here’s a note to another neighbor who disregarded the space saver. “You are an idiot,” it begins.

    So why would anyone try to drive in this? Simple answer, they have to. Despite efforts to keep the rails clear, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, or simply the T, was forced to shut down and is still running on a limited schedule. MBTA officials now say it could be up to a month before the system is back to normal.

    MAYOR MARTY WALSH, Boston: It’s going to be a while before people see what you want to see out in the community.

    EMILY ROONEY: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has also been on defense, under fire for letting the snow pile up before asking for the National Guard and for not getting snow melters on the road sooner. And then there was that little matter of a Super Bowl celebration, a parade scheduled for a Wednesday, just two days after a two-foot snow dump. Residents say their neighborhood suffered while the parade route was cleared.

    WOMAN: They are definitely doing that. All the alleys are closed.

    MAN: Well, they’re not around here.

    EMILY ROONEY: Already, Boston public schools have closed eight times, forcing the city to cancel upcoming school holidays and possibly one school vacation week. And the trial of accused marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been also been delayed. Even the wheels of justice turn slower in the snow.

    Then there’s the very real threat of roof collapses. Public safety officials are warning people to clear their roofs, as dozens of homes and businesses have caved in under thousands of pounds of snow.

    MAN: I got started last night. And I thought I would be done last night.

    EMILY ROONEY: Icicles and ice stands are another issue. Call a roofer and the answering machine says, sorry, too busy to respond. But as in any winter snowmageddon, there’s always a silver lining.

    MAN: Look at that. Look at that.

    EMILY ROONEY: Now that townhouses on Beacon Hill are suitable for what our forefathers had in mind, ski in, ski out.

    From Boston, this is Emily Rooney of WGBH reporting for the NewsHour.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Boston mayor is dealing with another annoyance, though, brought on by the weather. And that is people filming themselves jumping out of windows into snowbanks, and posting the videos on social media. Mayor Walsh warned, “It’s a foolish thing to do and you could kill yourself.”  We have the story on our home page, PBS.org/NewsHour.

    The post No stranger to snow, Boston struggles to weather a relentless string of storms appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    CONFRONTING EXTREMISM  monitor frontline

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: how to combat violent extremism. That was the focus of a gathering at the White House today.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: These terrorists are a threat first and foremost to the communities that they target, which means, communities have to take lead in protecting themselves.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Being careful not to fault a set of religious beliefs, the president urged religious leaders to do more to defeat the Islamic State group and similar radical organizations. He said the three-day summit was designed to prevent terrorists from inspiring more followers, not to single out Muslims.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And when all of us together are doing our part to reject the narratives of violent extremists, when all of us are doing our part to be very clear about the fact that there are certain universal precepts and values that need to be respected in this interconnected world, that’s the beginnings of a partnership.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Beyond the brutality that Islamic State has made its gruesome calling card, it has also focused on luring recruits from around the world to join its ranks.

    Sophisticated Web-based media, much of it in English, is aimed at potential recruits. More than 3,000 Westerners have reportedly traveled to Syria to join Islamic State militants. While most of the recruits are European, it’s cause for concern in the U.S. as well.

    The focus of today’s summit was to highlight domestic efforts to engage local communities in countering radicalization. But the focus of the summit has itself come under attack. Some conservatives have criticized President Obama for avoiding the term Islamic extremism, while Muslim groups argue the summit is unfairly singling out Muslims and Islam

    U.S. Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim member of Congress, highlighted another concern: that outreach to Muslim communities is a cover for surveillance

    REP. KEITH ELLISON, (D) Minnesota: We reinforce the false narrative that America is at war with Islam when we appear to violate our own requirements of the Constitution regarding surveillance, when we mix surveillance and outreach. This is a very shortsighted thing to do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The summit comes after two high-profile attacks in Europe this year. A Danish Muslim man, radicalized in prison, shot up a free speech meeting and a synagogue in Copenhagen over the weekend.

    And Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, spoke today, her city still reeling from last month’s killings at “Charlie Hebdo” magazine and a kosher grocery. French-born gunmen claiming allegiance to an al-Qaida group and Islamic State were responsible.

    MAYOR ANNE HIDALGO, Paris (through interpreter): Regardless of one’s religion or one’s origin, everybody in Paris must find a way to success, integration, and fulfillment.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tomorrow, the summit’s focus moves to counter extremism overseas.

    For more on the conference and the fight against extremism, I’m joined now by Zainab Al-Suwaij, co-founder and executive director of the American Islamic Congress. And Matthew Levitt, he’s the director of the Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute. He was deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Treasury Department and an FBI analyst.

    And we welcome you both to the NewsHour.

    Matthew Levitt how much is known about why people are drawn to the kind of extremism we’re seeing today?

    MATTHEW LEVITT, Former FBI Counterterrorism Analyst: A lot is known.

    And one of the things you are going to hear coming out of this conference is how much more needs to be done and how much more empirical research we need. Anybody who answers the question how are people radicalized with a simple answer is someone you shouldn’t listen to.

    There are so many different things that can radicalize a person. And for any given individual, it’s going to be a different combination of issues and circumstances. So, while there are local grievances that factor in, and the includes access to education and job opportunities and whether one feels that one is fully, for example, French or Danish or American, along with other identities, there are also ideological issues.

    And the president was quite clear today, really the first time I have heard him this clear, in the need to contest those ideologies as well, both dealing with the community issues, very important, and also the counternarrative.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Zainab Al-Suwaij, what would you add to that?

    ZAINAB AL-SUWAIJ, American Islamic Congress: What the president emphasized today, that the war, it is not against Islam. It’s against radical extremists who are speaking and committing all of these crimes in the name of Islam.

    A lot of people were part of the summit today. And they were emphasizing on the same message, the ideology was of radical extremists. It’s very clear. It’s very loud. It’s been demonstrated in a very violent way against so many people. And Muslims are the first victims of that.

    And the message was clear in terms of, what are the measures that we should be taking? What are the things that we should be doing differently to overcome this problem?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Before we get to that, what would you add to our understanding of why people, especially young people, are drawn to this ideology?

    ZAINAB AL-SUWAIJ: There are so many different reasons.

    I think there — a lot of people are recruiting these young people, whether here in the Western world or in the Middle East, providing them with extreme ideologies through books, through social media, through sermons sometimes, and recruiting these young people for one reason or another, in the name of their religion, in the name of God, and many people get drawn into that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Matt Levitt, we know some effort is being been made, the administration talking about pilot programs in a few cities right now.

    Is what you see — do you have a sense that they’re moving in the right direction, getting closer to these communities, trying to talk to them about what to watch out for? I mean, do you have a sense that they’re on the — moving in the right direction?

    MATTHEW LEVITT: It’s taken a very long time, but we now really are finally moving in the right direction.

    And one of the things I like about these three pilot programs in Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Boston is that they’re not the same. Each is tailored to the circumstances that they find in those particular communities, because, as both Zainab and I have said, so many different things can lead someone to radicalization.

    Some people are driven mostly by ideology, some by lack of opportunity. Many people today going to Syria and Iraq are there for adventure, for the companionship. The percentage of people going to Syria and Iraq from the West who are from broken homes and criminal backgrounds is much larger than we have ever seen before.

    So, when you work in communities, each of these communities is different and we need to tailor these issues. What you can at 40,000 foot recognize is the need to counter the narrative and work with communities, community policing, community outreach, and building the trust with these communities.

    As Zainab said, there are people who are carrying out acts of violent extremism in the name of ideologies and in the name of Islam. That doesn’t mean that it’s Islam that is doing it. It means that people are doing it in the name of that religion. And that needs to be contested.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, one of the things, Zainab Al-Suwaij, the president said today is that while it’s not religion that is solely responsible for this, he said Muslim leaders have a responsibility to talk to people in their community about that.

    Is that being done now? Is it being done enough? What more needs to be done?

    ZAINAB AL-SUWAIJ: Certainly, it’s being done on many different levels, on many different fronts.

    I can tell you about a program that American Islamic Congress is doing called Project Nur in over 55 college campuses to — when we have young Muslim students involved encountering radicalism and violence, extremism, and they just had — they launched a campaign called Voices Against Extremism — I’m sorry — Voices Against Radicalism, when these young students from these 55 colleges around the country taking the initiative to encounter such a radical movement that they are facing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What is an example of the message that they are trying to convey to these young people?

    ZAINAB AL-SUWAIJ: There are so many different messages, some of them, the idea of victimhood that’s been spread, the Western world is against you, the Westerners are — non-Muslims are out there to get you, to get Islam.

    And people at a young age, sometimes, they don’t — they feel that maybe they are bullied at school, or they’re having problems, and they get drawn into these ideologies very easily, and then they get recruited. Within no time, they are shipped somewhere to be fighting alongside with all of these radical groups.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Matt Levitt, at this stage, clearly, this is a long process. What needs to be done in the near term to make progress? Are we talking more pilot programs, more people in the community involved? What’s needed?

    MATTHEW LEVITT: Yes, we need more programs like these three pilot programs that get the attention of the federal government and get funding.

    What I keep telling people is, it’s wonderful for the president to host this conference and come and speak to this conference. Show me the money. There are programs now the Department of Justice and others are putting in place to secure funding for these types of programs that will be carried out by local NGOs, local community groups like the American Islamic Congress and others, which are doing fantastic work.

    But we need to put in place the ability for these programs to exist over the long term. This is something that is going to take significant investment in time, in manpower and, yes, in money.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We hear you both, something that is going to take time.

    Matthew Levitt, Zainab Al-Suwaij, it’s good to have you both with us.

    ZAINAB AL-SUWAIJ: Thank you.

    MATTHEW LEVITT: Thank you.

    The post What can the U.S. do to stop radicalization at home? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Images of "Fai Chun" or Chinese New Year couplets, which read, "Wishing you wealth and prosperity" (3rd R) and "Progress in Year of the Goat" (2nd R), are shown on the facade of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Hong Kong February 12, 2015. The Chinese Lunar New Year on February 19 will welcome the Year of the Sheep. Photo by Bobby Yip/Reuters

    Images of “Fai Chun,” or Chinese New Year couplets, which read, “Wishing you wealth and prosperity” and “Progress in Year of the Goat,” are shown on the facade of the Hong Kong Cultural Center in Hong Kong Feb. 12. The Chinese Lunar New Year begins Thursday and will welcome the Year of the Sheep. Photo by Bobby Yip/Reuters

    China’s spring festival, Chunyun, began earlier this month and people are on the move. Billions of them.

    The Chinese government estimates that people will make more than 3 billion trips in China during the 40-day festival marking the Year of the Sheep, which runs into March. Many are traveling to their hometowns for the holiday, to visit family.

    Baidu heat map China

    The Chinese web service Baidu features a heat map of travel throughout China during its Spring festival.

    Using a smartphone app, the Chinese internet portal Baidu has created a “Heat Map” of its 350 million users’ travels.

    “It’s not just the world’s biggest human migration, it’s the biggest mammalian migration,” Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo told the Associated Press. “It’s a sight to behold. It’s quite miraculous that nothing goes terribly wrong.”

    See some photos from “the world’s biggest human migration” from Reuters photographers, below.

    Passengers are seen through the window of a train at Beijing Railway Station, Feb. 5. Chinese Ministry of Transport said a total of 2.807 billion trips are expected to be made during the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush, which began on Feb. 4 and will last until March 16, Xinhua News Agency reports. Photo by Jason Lee/Reuters

    Passengers are seen through the window of a train at Beijing Railway Station, Feb. 5. Chinese Ministry of Transport said a total of 2.807 billion trips are expected to be made during the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush, which began on Feb. 4 and will last until March 16, Xinhua News Agency reports. Photo by Jason Lee/Reuters

    Residents set off fireworks as part of Chinese New Year celebrations in Shanghai Feb. 19, 2015. According to the Chinese lunar calendar, the Chinese New Year welcomes the Year of the Sheep (also known as the Year of the Goat or Ram). Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    Residents set off fireworks as part of Chinese New Year celebrations in Shanghai Feb. 19, 2015. According to the Chinese lunar calendar, the Chinese New Year welcomes the Year of the Sheep (also known as the Year of the Goat or Ram). Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    Traditional dancers perform at the Temple Fair, part of Chinese New Year celebrations at Ditan Park, also known as the Temple of Earth, in Beijing, Wednesday. Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

    Traditional dancers perform at the Temple Fair, part of Chinese New Year celebrations at Ditan Park, also known as the Temple of Earth, in Beijing, Wednesday. Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

    A boy makes faces as he looks out a window of a train at a railway station in Huizhou, Guangdong province Feb. 11. Photo by Reuters

    A boy makes faces as he looks out a window of a train at a railway station in Huizhou, Guangdong province Feb. 11. Photo by Reuters

    A herdsman feeds his goat with corn at Dashiwo village, on the outskirts of Beijing. The Chinese Lunar will welcome the Year of the Sheep (also known as the Year of the Goat or Ram). Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

    A herdsman feeds his goat with corn at Dashiwo village, on the outskirts of Beijing. The Chinese Lunar will welcome the Year of the Sheep (also known as the Year of the Goat or Ram). Photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

    A vendor, selling traditional decorations for the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year, waits for customers at a shopping area in downtown Shanghai on Feb. 12. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    A vendor, selling traditional decorations for the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year, waits for customers at a shopping area in downtown Shanghai on Feb. 12. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    A police car leads a parade of migrant workers who ride their motorcycles to go home for the Spring Festival, in Fengkai county, Guangdong province, Feb. 12. Photo by China Daily via Reuters

    A police car leads a parade of migrant workers who ride their motorcycles to go home for the Spring Festival, in Fengkai county, Guangdong province, Feb. 12. Photo by China Daily via Reuters

    Paramilitary police officers walk at Hongqiao train station in Shanghai, ahead of Chinese New Year, Feb. 9. Chinese Ministry of Transport said a total of 2.807 billion trips are expected to be made during the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush, which began on Feb. 4 and will last until March 16, Xinhua News Agency reports. Photo by Aly Song/Reuters

    Paramilitary police officers walk at Hongqiao train station in Shanghai, ahead of Chinese New Year, Feb. 9. Chinese Ministry of Transport said a total of 2.807 billion trips are expected to be made during the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush, which began on Feb. 4 and will last until March 16, Xinhua News Agency reports. Photo by Aly Song/Reuters

    We also looked at some of the Chinese New Year celebrations around the globe on Sunday.

    The post Photos: Billions set to travel as China rings in Year of the Sheep appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CRISIS-MILITARY

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    GWEN IFILL: To help us better understand the latest stumbling block for the Ukraine government, and the international reaction, I’m joined by chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner.

    Margaret, we just saw those amazing photographs from Debaltseve. And I wonder why that town is so important and how much of a setback is it that it was lost.

    MARGARET WARNER: It was very important, Gwen, because it was a little peninsula that Kiev still controlled surrounded by rebel-held territory.

    And it’s actually such a crucial rail and highway hub that, as you can see from the map, now that they control it, they can unite or cement all the links between Luhansk and Donetsk, which are the capitals of the two breakaway regions. And they are going to have a much better communication and political control there.

    Secondly, it was a crucial commercial link between the east and the rest of Ukraine through which a lot of industrial products went back and worth and out for exports, so even though a lot of that’s died down anyway, it’s going to make even hard effort to knit this country together.

    But then the biggest disaster for the Ukrainian government is just the morale disaster. Here, Poroshenko had insisted that the Ukrainian military could withstand this, they would create these fortified positions, and in the end it ended in a horrible defeat. So it is really a setback for both him and the military leadership.

    GWEN IFILL: We just saw President Poroshenko basically talking about the U.S. and European nations coming to his support and his defense, but it seems like for all intents and purposes the cease-fire we talked about just last week has collapsed.

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, even though the U.S. and Germany and the troops Western powers aren’t willing to admit that, and it’s interesting that they won’t — they won’t declare it dead. They will just denounce what happened.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    MARGARET WARNER: But — and the reason is, they say, is that in other ways the cease-fire is taking hold. And some of the fighting has died down.

    And the fact that Russia signed on to this last week, they don’t want to let any gains they can make in quelling the conflict to evaporate.

    GWEN IFILL: And he doesn’t have any other options here really.

    MARGARET WARNER: Exactly. Exactly.

    Well, I mean, Poroshenko doesn’t have any other options, but Putin is definitely driving this train. There is no doubt about it. So the U.S. and Germany are saying, well, in the end, last week’s deal was about implementing the September Minsk deal and that will call for withdrawing heavy weaponry, ultimately resolving the conflict. Until Putin blows it up, we’re not ready to blow it up.

    GWEN IFILL: But does it increase pressure on the West and on the U.S. in particular to do what some people have been urging them to do all along, which is arming the government?

    MARGARET WARNER: Oh, yes, because there really are only two options.

    One is the German approach, which is the slow, steady applications of more sanctions, and as they love to say, we thought the Berlin Wall would never fall, and ultimately it did. You just never accept the legality of what Russia or the Soviet Union has done, and keep up the pressure.

    But the other is the arming of the Ukrainian military. But both European and American diplomats said to me today the Ukrainian military just proved itself so incompetent that, how do you send in more sophisticated weapons to them without sending in NATO trainers to train them?

    And in the end, Gwen, Ukraine is so much more important to Russia than it is to either the U.S. or Europe. Just think if it was Mexico. You know, and so Putin’s made it clear, you arm the Ukrainians, I will match you dollar for dollar. And one diplomat said to me, you know, how far are we ready to go down that path?

    GWEN IFILL: So, it sounds like we go through the motions, but that the current thinking is that we step back and let it just play out on its own?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, nobody really knows what the thinking of the White House is.

    And so President Obama says that remains on the table. But it certainly — practically, it looks like a difficult option, for the reasons I just said, and also that Poroshenko’s own government could be in trouble here because it undercuts his image of competence at home, which makes it harder for him to do all the economic reforms he needs to do. So, our friend in this fight, Ukraine, is really struggling.

    GWEN IFILL: Sounds like a hamster wheel to me.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: Margaret Warner, thank you very much.

    MARGARET WARNER: As always.

    The post What the defeat at Debaltseve means for Ukraine appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    pro russian rebel flag ukraine

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    GWEN IFILL: As we reported earlier, thousands of Ukrainian troops withdrew today from Debaltseve in Eastern Ukraine after a relentless assault by Russian-backed separatists.

    Alex Thomson of Independent Television News reports from near the key transit hub, as the three-day-old cease-fire appeared to be unraveling.

    ALEX THOMSON: The rebel flag hoisted over Debaltseve today, and across the day, hundreds of Ukrainian troops have been leaving town, telling stories that speak of just one word: defeat.

    MAN (through interpreter): It was very heavy. We couldn’t even go to take food or water. Yes, we were urinating in a can, all the time we were sitting in the bunker very, very heavy shelling. We were praying all the time and said goodbye to our lives a hundred times. They had really good and heavy artillery.

    ALEX THOMSON: Kiev says it is a tactical withdrawal with heavy weapons. But its president is begging the world to act.

    PRESIDENT PETRO POROSHENKO, Ukraine (through interpreter): Today, we have taken new defensive lines. And during my talks with the leaders of the United States of America and the European Union, we demanded a hard-line response by the world to the brutal violation of the Minsk agreements by Russia, of the cease-fire regime, for the beginning of withdrawal of the armaments. And we will prepare organized and coordinated actions.

    ALEX THOMSON: The Russian line: This town was already surrounded and thus not part of the Minsk peace deal. Kiev has only itself to blame.

    We headed north from Donetsk this morning, and we were not alone. Days after heavy weapons should have moved back, the rebels were moving forward.

    (GUNFIRE)

    ALEX THOMSON: Even into the afternoon, pro-Russian rebels firing into Debaltseve.

    MAN (through interpreter): As you can see, there’s fighting. We’re taking positions back from them. Apart from that, everything is fine.

    ALEX THOMSON: Fine is a relative term here. Vuhlehirsk, like so many other places, tells its own story of the recent days and weeks of fighting.

    YEVDAKIYA TIMOFEYEVNA, Ukraine (through interpreter): Our house is divided in two. Mine is OK, but my neighbor’s is destroyed.

    ALEX THOMSON: Tanks and armored fighting vehicles litter the streets of this town. We’re about three miles from Debaltseve itself. It’s down that road there where the man on the bicycle is going. The intermittent sounds of shelling all morning indicate that the fight for that town is still very much under way.

    Kiev says tonight around 80 percent of their forces have left Debaltseve. On the streets of Vuhlehirsk, they have written them a message. The message on the gun barrel reads, “Send this souvenir to Kiev, to Poroshenko, and to their American and European backers.”

    You can’t stay long in these places. We needed to leave. But then we met Victor, dragging his coal home.

    VICTOR SERGEYEVICH, Ukraine (through interpreter): I was born here and I will die here.

    (GUNFIRE)

    VICTOR SERGEYEVICH (through interpreter): Why are you scared? I’m Victor Sergeyevich.

    QUESTION: Just tell me, how is your house? Is it intact?

    VICTOR SERGEYEVICH (through interpreter): Well, thank God it’s still there. I have no idea what’s next. We live day to day. War has never made anything beautiful for anyone. First, the children die because they’re curious and they’re foolish, and then the older people.

    ALEX THOMSON: And Victor, like so many here, has seen that brutal truth proved again before his eyes.

    The post Ukraine loses key town to separatists despite cease-fire appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrap_20150218

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    GWEN IFILL: Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose by 22 percent last year. An annual U.N. report showed 3,699 Afghan civilians were killed and nearly 7,000 were wounded. It also found more Afghans died in battles between the Taliban and government forces than from bombs. That’s a change from previous years.

    In Kabul, the human rights director for the U.N. mission said women and children were especially hard-hit.

    GEORGETTE GAGNON, Human Rights Director, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan: We saw a 40 percent increase in children causalities, with some 2,700 children killed and injured compared to 2013 and an increase in women causalities by 21 percent, with some 300 women killed and 611 injured.

    GWEN IFILL: The rise in casualties was attributed largely to the use of mortars, rockets and grenades in populated areas of Afghanistan.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A deep freeze gripped the Southeastern U.S. today. Snow and ice that blanketed the states the day before refroze overnight and created treacherous conditions. The weight of ice-coated branches brought down power lines; 250,000 people in the region are still without electricity. And even colder temperatures are looming. Forecasters warned the mercury could plummet to record levels tomorrow.

    GWEN IFILL: President Obama has tapped Joseph Clancy to be the next director of the Secret Service. Clancy had been in charge on an interim basis for the past four months. He will succeed Julia Pierson, who was forced to step down after the agency suffered a string of security lapses and misconduct scandals.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Oregon has a new governor, after its longest-serving chief executive resigned in disgrace. Democrat Kate Brown pledged to — quote — “restore the public’s trust” during a ceremony at the state capitol in Salem. She was previously the Oregon secretary of state, the state’s second most powerful position. Brown also becomes the first openly bisexual governor in the country.

    GWEN IFILL: Anyone who began enrolling in the latest round of sign-ups for federal health insurance will get more time to finish up. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said about 150,0,000 people who encountered technical problems will be able to take advantage of an extended February 22 deadline. The White House says 11.4 million Americans enrolled in private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act during the latest open enrollment period.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Greece put the finishing touches on a proposal to request an extension loan from its international creditors. The request has been a major sticking point in negotiations between the new Greek government and the 19 members of the Eurozone. The offer is expected to be submitted tomorrow, but German officials maintain Greece has to keep its original bailout agreement.

    GWEN IFILL: And with one eye on Greece, U.S. stocks ended the day with mostly small losses. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 18 points to close above 18000; the Nasdaq rose seven points; and the S&P 500 dropped less than a point.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And in China, over 200 million people traveled to their hometowns to celebrate the lunar new year, the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar. Across the country, people welcomed the Year of the Sheep with elaborate light displays, dancing, and even a fireworks-like performance using molten iron.

    The Chinese government did urge citizens to ease up on using fireworks to help curb toxic air pollution.

    The post News Wrap: Afghan civilian casualties rose in 2014 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama arrive in the East Room for the unveiling of Bush's official portrait at the White House on May 31, 2012. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

    Former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama arrive in the East Room for the unveiling of Bush’s official portrait at the White House on May 31, 2012. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

    The Morning Line

    Today in the Morning Line:

    • The president defends his words on terror
    • A problem for the White House
    • Can you tell which quotes are from President Obama and which are from former President George W. Bush?

    Word play: Leading up to President Obama’s Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, which continues at the White House today, critics of this president have tried to read between the lines of his speeches to say he really doesn’t get the threat posed by the Islamic State militant group. They point out the pains Mr. Obama goes through not to mention the phrase “Radical Islam.” The president took that head-on Wednesday, arguing that he does not want to grant IS, which he calls ISIL, “legitimacy” by ascribing “Islam” to them. “Leading up to this summit, there’s been a fair amount of debate in the press and among pundits about the words we use to describe and frame this challenge,” Obama said. “So I want to be very clear about how I see it. Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders — holy warriors in defense of Islam. That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the ‘Islamic State.’”

    The message problem and the irony: The problem for this White House can be that President Obama sometimes seems to be reacting to critics and winds up coming across as defensive, passive or even politically correct, irking even some Democrats. His lack of definitiveness can leave room for others to more succinctly capture a message that’s more easily translated. The irony, by the way, in President Obama’s attempt not to inflame Muslims in the United States is that many in Muslim communities are upset with the administration’s initiatives to more closely monitor and work with leaders in those communities to identify potential extremism in this country. “People believe that even talking about foreign policy puts you on some kind of watch list,” Jaylani Hussein of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on Muslim-American Relations, or CAIR, told Politico’s Michael Crowley.

    Not much different from Bush on Islam? Bloomberg notes that George W. Bush also avoided the term “Radical Islam,” saying it’s a “longstanding U.S. policy.” Why? As Elliot Abrams, who served as deputy National Security Adviser to George W. Bush told Eli Lake, “We were invading two Muslim countries, and we were being accused of being at war with Islam. So the administration wanted to make it very clear that we are not at war with Islam and every Muslim in the world.”

    In fact, here’s a fun game. Here are some statements from Presidents Obama and Bush. See if you can guess who said which. Answers at the bottom of the Daily Trivia:

    1. “Ours is a war not against a religion, not against the Muslim faith. But ours is a war against individuals who absolutely hate what America stands for.”
    2. “They’re terrorists. And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”
    3. “Our war is not against Islam, or against faith practiced by the Muslim people. Our war is a war against evil.”
    4. “Our enemy doesn’t follow the great traditions of Islam. They’ve hijacked a great religion.”
    5. “Given the…nature of the enemy — which is not a traditional army — this work takes time, and will require vigilance and resilience.”
    6. “The terrorists do not speak for over a billion Muslims who reject their hateful ideology.”
    7. “The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself.”
    8. “How do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities — the profound good…the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends?”
    9. “There are thousands of Muslims who proudly call themselves Americans, and they know what I know — that the Muslim faith is based upon peace and love and compassion.”
    10. “This great religion in the hands of a few extremists has been distorted to justify violence.”

    Quote of the day: “My brother’s administration, through the surge, which was one of the most heroic acts of courage politically that — that any president’s done, because there is no support for this, and it was hugely successful. And it created the stability that when the new president came in, he could’ve built on to create a fragile but more stable situation that would’ve not allowed for the void to be filled. The void has been filled, because we created the void. And so the lesson, I think, is engagement.” — Jeb Bush talking about Iraq in the Q&A following his foreign-policy address in Chicago.

    Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order giving the military the authority to relocate and intern Japanese-Americans. What event prompted the creation of these internment camps? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Kenneth C. Davis ‏(@kennethcdavis) and Joni Johnson (@celeste1958) for guessing Wednesday’s trivia: Who is the only U.S. President to have served in the Confederate Congress? The answer: John Tyler. (Answers to Bush-Obama language quiz: 1-Bush, 2-Obama, 3-Bush, 4-Bush, 5-Obama, 6-Obama, 7-Bush, 8-Obama, 9-Bush, 10-Obama)

    2016

    • Jeb Bush’s gubernatorial tenure, during which he pushed a conservative agenda that he called “big, hairy, audacious goals,” or “BHAGs,” may blunt primary attacks on his conservatism. His expansion of gubernatorial power, however, could turn off voters who think recent presidents have abused executive power.

    • A Washington Post review of the Clinton Global Initiative’s finances found plenty of overlap between the foundation’s donor base and the Clinton political operation. Half of Ready for Hillary’s major donors and half of the bundlers for her 2008 campaign have donated at least $10,000 to the foundation.

    • With the Clinton camp keeping decisions closely guarded, so-called Clinton “allies,” “insiders” or “loyalists” have room to spin their own stories — even if they don’t really know what’s going on.

    • Scott Walker was scheduled to attend a Wednesday night dinner at Manhattan’s 21 Club with supply-side economists like Arthur Laffer.

    • As Milwaukee County Executive, Walker backed an immigration bill denounced as “amnesty.”

    • During a trip to South Carolina Wednesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he has not yet decided whether he’ll run for president. Kasich told reporters, “All options are on the table, and I’m not even close to making a decision on this.”

    • A local activist in Las Vegas confronted Sen. Marco Rubio about his opposition to deportation relief during a stop on his book tour.

    • Voters in Iowa, Colorado and Virginia disapprove — by a nine point margin — of the job President Obama is doing. They want an “un-Obama president,” according to Thursday’s Quinnipiac swing state poll.

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    Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Rachel Wellford at rwellford-at-newshour-dot-org.

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    The post Who said it? Bush vs. Obama on Islam appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Video still by PBS NewsHour

    White House economists are pushing for higher wage gains to make up for paycheck stagnation in the U.S. Video still by PBS NewsHour

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s top economists say that even as the U.S. has managed to kick start a lasting and growing recovery, modest wage gains are far from making up for decades of paycheck stagnation for middle-class workers.

    The White House, in its annual report to Congress, also warns that despite the U.S. relative economic strength, slowdowns abroad still pose dangers at home.

    The 400-page “Economic Report of the President” is a largely bullish portrayal of the economy replete with appendices, charts and statistical tables designed to support Obama’s policy initiatives.

    As a political document, the report is likely to find little favor in the Republican-controlled Congress. But as an assessment of the state of the economy, it broadly tracks with Republicans who say lack of significant wage growth is a critical flaw of the current recovery.

    Middle class income is already emerging as a key economic issue for the 2016 presidential and congressional elections.

    The report dates weaknesses in wages back to 1973 when productivity slowed and income inequality between the top 1 percent and the bottom 90 percent expanded. Starting in 1995, fewer Americans began to participate in the labor force, further compounding pressure on wages.

    “This is the big-picture challenge that we’re trying to overcome as an economy,” said Jason Furman, the chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

    The report concludes that if the productivity, income gap and labor participation trend lines that were evident before 1973 had continued, a typical household would have nearly doubled its income by 2013, or an additional $51,000 a year.

    The document uses the data to buttress Obama’s domestic policy goals, including raising the minimum wage, increasing spending on education, overhauling the business tax system, and expanding international trade. As such, it underscores the difficulties facing Obama over the next 23 months of his presidency.

    Republicans, who have majorities in the House and Senate, resist new spending initiatives and minimum wage increases. A majority of Democrats oppose trade deals. And changing the tax system is a heavy lift under any circumstance.

    Also tucked into the report are cautionary signals.

    “The available 2014 indicators suggest that the economies of Japan and our euro area trading partners are sagging,” the report states. “A slowdown abroad not only reduces our exports, but also raises risks of financial and other spillovers to the U.S. economy.”

    The report also says difficulties by consumers in obtaining low-interest loans are creating a headwind for the housing sector. It says that mortgage underwriting standards are tight, reducing access to home loans.

    Despite efforts by the administration, the report concedes it may be some time before lenders improve access to credit, especially for borrowers with “less-than-pristine credit histories.


    You can read the full 2015 Economic Report of the President below:

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    Photo by Flickr user Phera Laster

    The caramel coloring used in soda has been linked to a rise in cancer risk. Photo by Flickr user Phera Laster

    The brown coloring in your soda may be linked to increased cancer risk, according to a new study.

    A chemical called 4-methylimidazole, found in some caramel colors used to give colas a brown color, may also increase cancer risk in those that ingest beverages containing it. A study by Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Consumer Reports found that every day, “more than half of Americans between the ages of 6 and 64 typically drink soda in amounts that could expose them to enough 4-MEI to increase their cancer risk.”

    A 2013 study looked at the amount of 4-MEI in colas and sodas, and found that of the 110 drinks tested, the average amount of 4-MEI in the beverages was between 3.4 and 352.4 micrograms per 12-ounce soda. There are no limits for the amount of 4-MEI legally allowed in a soda, but there are laws requiring sodas sold in California to have a cancer warning label if a soda contains more than 29 micrograms of 4-MEI.

    The recent study, published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, was a follow-up to find how much soda is consumed by 6- to 64-year-olds, and thus estimate the risk of cancer from consumption. The average amount of soda ingested per person per day was found to range between one 12-ounce soda to 2.5 cans, and the age group with the largest consumption, 16- to 44-year-olds, averaged about three cans per day.

    While soda is not the only food 4-MEI is found in, it is one of the biggest sources. In all, the study claims that, in the next 70 years, there could potentially be between 76 and 5,000 cases of cancer in the U.S. caused by 4-MEI exposure alone.

    The post Chemical used to color sodas linked to cancer risk appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver stops to speak at microphones as he leaves the U.S. Federal Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City January 22, 2015. Silver, 70, one of the state's most powerful Democrats for more than two decades, was charged with fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and other criminal counts after a lengthy corruption investigation federal authorities said. Photo by REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

    New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver stops to speak at microphones as he leaves the U.S. Federal Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City January 22, 2015. Silver, 70, one of the state’s most powerful Democrats for more than two decades, was indicted Thursday on three charges. Photo by REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

    NEW YORK — Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was indicted Thursday on three charges after his arrest in a federal bribery case.

    The indictment was returned in Manhattan federal court, where he appeared briefly last month when he was freed on bail just a day after sharing the stage with Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his State of the State address.

    The indictment doesn’t add to the charges against Silver when he was arrested, but it’s a critical step that provides a legal roadmap for prosecutors’ presentation of evidence. Silver will now have to enter a plea, at a date yet to be set, to charges that include two forms of honest services fraud, plus extortion under the color of official duties.

    “Our client is not guilty. We can now begin to fight for his total vindication. We intend to do that fighting where it should be done — in court,” Silver’s lawyers, Joel Cohen and Steve Molo, said in a statement. Silver has said he is confident he will be exonerated.

    Silver’s arrest came after he had led the Assembly for over 20 years, becoming one of the most powerful and savvy figures in New York state politics.

    But prosecutors said there was a dark side to his reputation as a potent backroom operator who played a major role in state budgets and laws, controlling which lawmakers sat on which committees and what bills got a vote.

    The government said he had collected nearly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks since 2002 and disguised the proceeds as legitimate income.

    The Democrat has since resigned as speaker but has said he intends to keep his Assembly seat.

    Silver’s arrest rocked the state Capitol, even though state lawmakers’ arrests have become ruefully common. Some 28 New York legislators have stepped down because of criminal or ethical issues in the past 15 years. Four others remain in office while they fight charges, including Silver.

    A day after announcing Silver’s January arrest, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at a breakfast meeting at a law school that it sometimes seems like Albany has become a “cauldron of corruption.”

    He was particularly critical of what he called a “three-men-in-a-room” system of government that puts too much control in the hands of the governor, Assembly speaker and Senate president.

    The post Ex-NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver indicted on 3 charges appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Sandy Wright gets some help from her Certified Nursing Assistant Jessica Haynes at her home in Peoria, Illinois, November 25, 2013. Wright has Neuromyelitis Optica and has a Certified Nursing Assistant come to help her around the house. Now, patients like Wright are at the forefront of an experiment, under way in Peoria, Illinois, and hundreds of other U.S. cities, that could transform the way doctors, nurses and hospitals deliver care to patients. Amid the barrage of criticism over the rollout of Obamacare, groups known as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are quietly going about the business of testing the potential for healthcare reform. The efforts, born of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, are part of the biggest experiment yet to fix the costly and error-plagued U.S. healthcare system. The new models of care, which encourage providers to form networks to coordinate care and cut costs, involve close monitoring of the sickest patients to address budding health problems before they cause a costly trip to the emergency room or an extended hospital stay. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    Sandy Wright gets help from her Certified Nursing Assistant Jessica Haynes at her home in Peoria, Illinois, Nov. 25, 2013. Long-term care, whether it be in-home care, assisted living or nursing homes can be very costly. Here are some helpful tools to plan coverage. Photo by Jim Young/Reuters

    We hear from families and caregivers every day as they try to manage the care for loved ones while attempting to navigate health and long-term care options to meet their needs. Many of their concerns are based on the high costs of caring for relatives or friends who can no longer care for themselves. Few families can afford the ongoing expense of in-home care, assisted living, or, especially, nursing homes, which now approach $100,000 per year in some parts of the country.

    Long-term care in the U.S. is confusing, there is no doubt about it, and trying to sort through the elements and options can be stressful. But there are some resources to help. Here’s a selection of frequently asked questions that we receive, along with recommended sources for further information.

    Q. I am confused about the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. Will either program help my 64-year-old mom, who has Parkinson’s disease?

    First, let’s clarify some concepts: long-term care for adults traditionally refers to nursing home care, assisted living, and home- and community-based services such as in-home care for people with chronic or disabling disorders such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, diabetes, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. Long-term care services are specifically for people who can no longer manage daily activities such as dressing, bathing, eating and medication management, or who might need 24-hour supervision and/or nursing care.

    In the United States, families, not institutions, provide most of this care, and in many cases, they pay out-of-pocket for some or all the expenses. Standard health insurance policies do not cover long-term care.

    To help you determine if assistance is available for your mother, you’ll need to find out if she’s eligible for any state or local community services, in addition to Medicare/Medicaid.

    Medicare and Medicaid are federal healthcare programs (Medicaid is both federal and state). Both offer a variety of services and have different requirements.

    Medicare is the health insurance program for people age 65+ and those with disabilities. It is mostly concerned with acute care, to cover such things as hospital stays, doctor visits, medications and diagnostic tests. Under certain circumstances, Medicare may pay for limited skilled nursing facility care or rehabilitation. Fees for Medicare are covered by taxes and taken out of monthly Social Security checks, with additional premiums, co-payments and deductibles.

    Medicaid is a free or low-cost program designed to help low-income families, and may cover both acute and long-term care. It will help pay nursing home expenses in certain facilities for those who qualify (states are not required to use Medicaid to pay for assisted living but some do.) People may qualify for Medicaid after they have “spent-down” their assets. In the case of a couple, the spouse not needing care is entitled to retain certain limited assets so as not to be completely impoverished as a result of paying for their a spouse’s care. Some people, labeled “dual eligibles,” qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. For a summary of eligibility requirements for Medicaid, click here.

    For more detailed information, and to find out which programs might be applicable, check these websites and organizations:

    Q. Should I buy long-term care insurance to cover future expenses?

    Whether or not to purchase long-term care insurance (LTCI) is not a clear-cut decision. Long-term care insurance is one way to pay for a variety of services used by people with disabilities or chronic illnesses. It may cover in-home care, community programs such as adult day services, assisted living and nursing home care.

    Long-term care insurance is sold privately by insurance companies. While this insurance might be the answer for some families, for others it can be unaffordable, inaccessible, or too late to provide assistance. Premium costs are fairly high and vary greatly depending on the age and health status of the purchaser, the benefits covered by the policy and other factors. Some policies have loopholes that disallow certain types of assistance, or have a long waiting period.

    Like most insurance, LTCI is something of a gamble. The purchase must be made before you actually need the coverage. It’s possible to be paying monthly premiums for years — even decades — for coverage you never use. Often, people first purchase LTCI in their 50s or 60s, but most people utilizing coverage are in their 80s. Approximately 4 percent of seniors reside in nursing homes; a higher percentage stay only for a short time or need in-home care or assisted living. For those with lower incomes, Medicaid may pay the cost of a nursing home.

    Every family’s situation is unique, and there is no single answer to whether you should purchase long-term care insurance. Before you make the decision — and ideally before you speak with a sales person — educate yourself on the basics of LTCI. You may wish to talk to a financial planner about your personal situation.

    To find out more about the risks and benefits, visit:

    Q. My father has Alzheimer’s. My parents don’t have a lot of money, but they’ve lived in their home for 35 years and they’ve built up a lot of equity. My mom is thinking about selling the house but hates the thought of moving. Should they get a reverse mortgage instead to pay for care for my dad?

    Reverse mortgages provide you with tax-free cash by tapping into the equity in your house without requiring that you sell or move out. Funds from a reverse mortgage may be used for any purpose, and do not have to be repaid as long as you remain living in the home. You must be age 62 or older to qualify, and you may receive the funds as a line of credit to be accessed when needed, as monthly income or as a lump sum. The funds do not affect your Social Security income.

    For many people, this is one way to pay for long-term care expenses. Fees are high, however, and you must be careful not to exhaust the funds, especially if you choose to take a lump sum. This decision will also affect your heirs, since it takes away from the final sales proceeds of a home. Because this can be a complex financial move, counseling prior to getting a reverse mortgage is required.

    For additional information on reverse mortgages:

    Q. I quit my job to take care of my mother, so now I have no income. Is there a way I can get paid for providing her care?

    Very few programs will pay family members or friends to provide care on a regular basis. Sometimes, caregiving families can obtain some financial relief for specific purposes, such as for respite care, to purchase goods and services or for certain home health services.

    For example, the Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP), a federally supported program under the Administration on Aging, provides services to help ease the financial burden of caregiving to a person 60 years and older. This program is available through your local department on aging. Services include information and assistance; counseling and support groups; education and training; respite care to give you a break; and supplemental services, including the purchase of consumable supplies, emergency response systems and home modifications.

    Also, national disease-specific organizations, such as CancerCare, may offer grants or other financial assistance to people with the disease and their family caregivers. For more information about disease-specific organizations active in your area, as well as other programs, click here and select your state.

    If funds allow, some families decide that the main caregiver — often an adult son or daughter — will be paid directly by the parent who is ill, or by a sibling or another family member. When this is the arrangement for care, we recommend drafting a Personal Care Agreement. This Agreement is a written contract that spells out responsibilities and salary. If changes in care need to be made, the agreement can be revised.

    Your state may offer additional support programs for family caregivers. In certain cases, Medicaid (which may go by a different name in your state) may pay family members who provide care to Medicaid recipients.
    We suggest that if possible, before you quit your job, explore any and all options, because you will not only lose your employment income and possibly your health insurance, you will reduce future Social Security income or other retirement benefits as well.

    For information about the services your state provides to family caregivers and the benefits for which you or your family member may be eligible, see:

    Q. My wife has cancer and really needs help during chemotherapy. I’m afraid I’ll lose my job and wind up unemployed if I take time off work to care for her.

    The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a federal law, provides certain employees in all states up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for themselves, a sick family member (limited to a spouse, child or parent), or a new child without losing their jobs or health care insurance. Note that this law applies only to companies with 50 or more employees and that an employee must have worked at least 52 days full-time or 1,250 hours during the previous year before taking FMLA leave.

    In addition, some states have laws that expand leave protection. For example, they may include care for relatives who are not covered by FMLA, such as grandparents, siblings and in-laws. Other states have programs that continue to pay workers part of their wages while they take time off to care for an ill family member.

    For additional information on family leave policies, see:


    More Information & Resources

    Eldercare Locator
    Locate Area Agencies on Aging and other resources
    800-677-1116
    www.eldercare.gov

    National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
    3275 West Ina Road, Ste. 130
    Tucson, AZ 85741
    520-881-8008
    www.caremanager.org

    Lotsa Helping Hands
    A website to help you create, organize and stay in touch with your family, friends and care community.
    www.lotsahelpinghands.com

    Residential Care Search
    Listings by geographic area:
    directory.caregiver.org


    Long-Term Care Options Explored on PBS NewsHour:


    More Helpful Publications from Family Caregiver Alliance:


    About Family Caregiver Alliance

    Family Caregiver Alliance
    National Center on Caregiving
    785 Market Street, Suite 750
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    415-434-3388
    800-445-8106
    Website: www.caregiver.org
    E-mail: info@caregiver.org

    Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) offers an extensive online library of free educational materials for caregivers. The publications, webinars and videos offer families the kind of straightforward, practical help they need as they care for relatives with chronic or disabling health conditions.

    Family Care Navigator is FCA’s online directory of resources for caregivers in all 50 states. It includes information on government health and disability programs, legal resources, disease-specific organizations and more.

    Residential Care Search: listings by geographic area

    Helpful FCA Publications:

    Community Care Options
    Hiring In-Home Help
    Legal Planning for Incapacity

    The post Q&A: How do you pay for long-term care? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    burwell

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: It’s been an important week for the health care law that may provide the cornerstone for President Obama’s legacy. More than 11 million people have signed up for insurance coverage in the second year of the new marketplaces. That’s higher than year one, when 6.7 million people ultimately enrolled through federal or state exchanges.

    But there are big questions ahead. In just two weeks, the Supreme Court will hear its second challenge to the law, this one about whether states can provide subsidies to buy insurance sold through the federal exchange. More than 80 percent of enrollees have been eligible for the subsidies, and 8.6 million of those who signed up this year enrolled through the federal exchanges.

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell is the secretary of health and human services. I sat down with her earlier today at the agency’s headquarters.

    Secretary Burwell, thank you for joining us.

    You announced this week that 11 million people have now signed up for the Affordable Care Act, but that the numbers could change?

    SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL, Secretary of Health and Human Services: The 11.4 million people have signed up, and what we know is, as we go through the process, the number of people that pay may be lower than that number.

    And there will be puts and takes. You probably also saw we have a special enrollment period for those who were still in line at the time that open enrollment closed. There will be some additions and probably be some subtractions from those numbers over time.

    GWEN IFILL: You mentioned a special enrollment period. Is there some discussion under way about also extending this in April for people who don’t realize they’re about to get socked with some pretty tough tax penalties if they don’t enroll?

    SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: So, that is an issue that has been raised.

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: And we are considering and will come out very soon with a decision one way or another on whether or not we will extend the period for those individuals.

    GWEN IFILL: So, last week, we saw the president make a big pitch for young enrollees with his YouTube/BuzzFeed video. How did that work out?  Did that effort to try to reach young people who are the young invincibles who are necessarily signing up for insurance, is there any way to measure whether that worked?

    SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: What we do know is, we know the access in terms of the numbers of people that viewed the video. And certainly, in the first less than 24 hours, it was 22 million views.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, I viewed the video, but I’m not the — who you’re going for.

    SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: You’re not the — so this is why — we know the number of views, so we know that people accessed the information.

    What’s important to know over time is whether people acted on that information and that, we will have to wait and see until we can break down the demographics.

    GWEN IFILL: If you had to measure from the beginning of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act to now, how would you measure the trajectory toward your goal of getting uninsured people enrolled?  Is it steep?  Where are we?

    SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: So, I would actually think about from the passage of the act the question of the three things that the act was about, quality, affordability and access, about all three of those things and how we’re making progress against all three of those things.

    With regard to the issue of quality, in terms of what has happened to people who are in the employer-based market, their quality improved. Preexisting conditions, something you don’t have to worry about. If you’re a woman, you don’t have to worry about being discriminated against in terms of pricing, things like you can have your 25 — up to 25-year-olds on your plan.

    And so that’s improvements in quality that are happening and happening to millions. And so that’s been a steady pace at the point at which those things kicked in. With regard to the number of uninsured, we know that last year, from 2013 to 2014, we saw about a 10-million person drop in the number of adults uninsured. And that was a jump that we hadn’t seen since the 1970s.

    It was basically historic in its level. And this year, we’re building on that. So, that is how I would describe that part.

    GWEN IFILL: One big cloud looming on the horizon is the Supreme Court. March 4, they are going to hear challenges to the law. What is the best possible outcome and the worst possible outcome from that Supreme Court case?

    SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: We believe the best possible — and confident about in terms of our position going into this case — is the fact these subsidies were meant for everyone in the United States.

    I have traveled all over the country to a number of places. And the idea that the United States Congress would pass legislation that would give a federal tax benefit to people in New York, but not Texas, is just something that doesn’t make a lot of sense. And when you meet the people that are benefiting from this across the country, you know, the individuals — and whether it was a woman who had M.S. and had not treated her M.S., except through the emergency room, that she wasn’t supposed to get a tax subsidy, and someone in New York was, the idea of that, I think we believe we’re in the right position.

    With regard to what the ramifications are, it’s been articulated I think by many folks, and that is we know that 87 percent of the people who have come through the federal marketplace are eligible for subsidies and, on average, they qualify for $268 per month per individual.

    When that goes away, you lose affordability. And when you lose affordability, we increase the number of uninsured. In addition, when that happens, what we see is, we see a path that people that will be insured in the individual market will be sicker, most likely. Less healthy people will go in. And that drives premiums up as well.

    GWEN IFILL: And so the plan B is what if that were to happen, for states to step in?  Several of them have said they won’t.

    SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: As I have said before, we’re focused on where we believe we are in the right place right now.

    GWEN IFILL: Have you been speaking to governors or to state legislators about what they do, giving them advice on what their reactions should be and what kinds of things they should do to protect their citizens should this be overturned?

    SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: So, my focus has been on implementation of the law. And whether that’s in open enrollment or with governors, my conversations have focused on Medicaid and those issues of expansion.

    You probably know that, in Indiana recently, we have seen that expansion. We’re continuing those conversations. In Arkansas, we saw a new governor move through his legislature pretty quickly that he would continue on this path.

    GWEN IFILL: But a lot of states are resisting expansion.

    SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: Absolutely. And we want to continue to work with them.

    GWEN IFILL: If this doesn’t happen, if Medicaid expansion doesn’t expand, if the Supreme Court were to step back, how severely damaged would be the ultimate goal of this administration, of expanding health care coverage to all?

    SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: So we have made so much progress. As we just mentioned earlier, the idea that we have had that 10 million drop, that there are millions of people, the 11.4 million that we’re talking about, this is and baked into how they lead their lives, their financial security, their health security.

    The people I have met, the women I have met who have gone for their wellness exams, one woman, her mother and her grandmother had the BRCA gene. She has gone, she’s found out she didn’t have it. And just seeing what this means and how this is built in — or the woman who said — who is in her ’50s who said, you know, I used to walk down the street and be afraid I would fall, because it would bankrupt me.

    And so this is built into the system now for so many people.

    GWEN IFILL: Sylvia Mathews Burwell, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, thank you very much.

    SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: Thank you, Gwen.

    The post A look at the challenges threatening the health of Obamacare appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    debbie voigt

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    GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight: hitting the high notes through the ups and downs of life.

    Jeffrey Brown sits down with an opera standout.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Deborah Voigt has made headlines for her star performances on the world’s greatest opera stages.

    DEBORAH VOIGT, Author, “Call Me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-to-Earth Diva”: When everything’s working, you don’t feel it at all. It just happens. You’re very much in the moment. The voice is working, the acting is working, you’re playing with a character, and you’re not thinking about anything else.

    JEFFREY BROWN: She’s also made headlines for something else: her size, most famously in 2004, when she was dropped from a London production because she couldn’t fit into what became known as the little black dress.

    DEBORAH VOIGT: When I walked out on stage at that time, I was, as I say in my book, a poster child for obesity. It wasn’t just, oh, she’s a big girl. I was a big girl. And that’s something that I realize now they decided they didn’t want in their production.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Voigt’s new book, titled “Call Me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-to-Earth Diva,” takes readers through her ups and downs.

    Growing up in Illinois, she was a child who loved to act out and dress up, a challenge for her strict Southern Baptist parents.

    DEBORAH VOIGT: They were, as you mentioned, very conservative in their beliefs, in their religious beliefs. And they wanted me to use my voice to the glory of God, and not to be perhaps a trollop dancing across the stage, is probably what they thought at the time.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But you grew up somehow to become — to play mythical goddesses, larger-than-life figures, put yourself on the stage before audiences around the world.

    DEBORAH VOIGT: It’s true. It’s true. There was a transition time, though, when I was just beginning to do lead roles. And when I knew my parents were in the audience, I always had to stop and think, OK, now don’t pay attention to the fact that your parents are out there. It’s OK to make out with this tenor. You’re expected to. It’s all right.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: She would become one of the most prominent singers of her generation, heralded for performances such as Brunnhilde in Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” at the Metropolitan Opera. She played Salome in the Strauss opera of that name here at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

    She told me those were two of her favorite roles.

    DEBORAH VOIGT: I always just say, oh, I just fell into opera. Well, the truth of it is that I worked my ass off. It was really tough.

    Brunnhilde, of course. I mean, we see her in all phases of her life. The first time we meet her, she’s a young tomboy, and she discovers love. And, you know, it’s just — the journey she takes is incredible. Salome, the tempestuous 16-year-old, that’s quite an acting stretch, but a lot of fun nonetheless.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JEFFREY BROWN: Much of the book, though, delves into times of far less fun, recounting the depression and insecurity that led to addictions to alcohol, bad relationships, and binge-eating.

    DEBORAH VOIGT: It’s a very lonely business, and you go home at the end of the night and it can be just you in your head. And if you are a person that has some issues with depression, or self-esteem, those tapes go, and it becomes something that you really feel the need to quiet, and my first trick was through food.

    JEFFREY BROWN: When did you realize that it was a problem?

    DEBORAH VOIGT: Well, it stared me back in the mirror for a long time before I finally decided I didn’t — I tried everything, for one thing. I tried every diet. My knees were starting to hurt. I was getting winded walking across the stage. And it was keeping me from the ability to portray roles on the stage that I wanted to play.

    I did Tosca, who is supposed to be this beautiful opera singer, when I weighed 300 pounds, and I was always uncomfortable about it. I always felt a little, you know, sticky about these issues.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The weight problem was overcome with the help of gastric bypass surgery, the rest, she writes, through sobriety programs and a recommitment to her faith.

    She’s still singing, while also performing soon in a one-woman show she helped develop called “Voigt Lessons.”

    DEBORAH VOIGT: If there’s one thing I learned about myself in writing this book, and looking back, and reading it, is that I have an incredible sense of resilience that I didn’t really realize I had.

    Things would happen in my life, and I would pick myself up, and dust myself off, and go about it. But when I read event after event in the whole package, I think, wow, how have you managed to do this? How have you managed?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Deborah, or Debbie Voigt, thanks so much for talking to us.

    DEBORAH VOIGT: Thank you, Jeff.

     

    The post Diva Deborah Voigt on the ‘lonely business’ of opera that led to addictions appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A young girl holds up signs during a rally to show support for Walmart workers on Black Friday outside the Walmart store in Lakewood, Colorado, in November. The signs refer to the strikers' demand to have a $15 minimum wage for Walmart employees. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    A young girl holds up signs demanding a $15 minimum wage for Walmart employees during a rally to show support for Walmart workers on Black Friday outside the Walmart store in Lakewood, Colorado, in Nov. 2014. Today, the big box store announced it would increase their wages to at least $9 an hour. Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

    The nation’s largest private employer, Walmart, announced on Thursday that they will be raising their minimum wage to at least $9 an hour, according to the Associated Press. The announcement comes after years of public criticism for their low wages and lack of benefits.

    The wage increase is part of a larger $1 billion plan for Walmart to change the way they train and pay their employee’s. Not only will the company distribute raises over the next half of a year to 500,000 workers, almost 40 percent of their 1.3 million U.S. employees, they will also change the way workers are scheduled and add training programs for sales people to create longevity and promotions within the company.

    “We are trying to create a meritocracy where you can start somewhere and end up just as high as your hard work and your capacity will enable you to go,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said during an interview with the Associated Press.

    This new initiative comes amidst months of protest by thousands of U.S. hourly workers calling out big business for their low wages and debates between politicians about increasing the minimum wage. That debate includes President Obama, who proposed to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

    Walmart expects these changes to hurt their profits this year, adding to the last two years of sluggish sales. The massive retailer is not the first to raise their wages in recent times, following Swedish furniture store Ikea and clothing chain Gap Inc. who raised their wages within the last year.

    The post Walmart gives into criticism, plans to raise minimum wage to $9 an hour appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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