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

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    BETTER EBOLA SUIT monitor

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    GWEN IFILL: The most recent West African Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone sickened nearly 25,000 people and killed 10,000. Medical professionals are particularly vulnerable, as they work closely with infected and highly infectious patients.

    But changes in the equipment they use to see the infected may make it easier to protect workers from the disease.

    NewsHour special correspondent Mary Jo Brooks reports.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Jill Andrews is normally busy this time of year.

    JILL ANDREWS, Wedding Dress Designer: I thought that would be really cute.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Sowing silk, lace and beads to create elaborate wedding gowns in her Baltimore studio.

    JILL ANDREWS: You like that?

    MARY JO BROOKS: But for the last five months, she’s been making an elaborate creation of a different sort, an Ebola protection suit made of bright yellow Tyvek fabric.

    JILL ANDREWS: It was all-consuming. It was definitely — you’re thinking about it all night long. I’m playing like origami in my mind with Tyvek. You’re solving problems. It’s just about constantly solving problems and thinking about what needs to happen next.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Andrews was among 60 people who took part in a grand challenge at Johns Hopkins university. Participants included doctors, engineers, public health experts and grad students. The goal?  To devise better ways of protecting health care workers from the deadly Ebola virus.

    WENDY TAYLOR, U.S. Agency for International Development: What we do is, we define the problem and put that challenge out to the world and get some of the brightest minds to come forward and think about new ways to tackle these problems.

    MARY JO BROOKS: USAID’s Wendy Taylor was responsible for creating the Grand Challenge competition.

    MAN: I come from Malawi.

    MAN: Raised in Baltimore.

    MAN: Canada.

    MARY JO BROOKS: For the past several years, she’s put out the call for people from all walks of life to help solve difficult global problems.

    WOMAN: It’s human-powered.

    MARY JO BROOKS: The first challenge, issued in 2011, resulted in new ways to reduce infant mortality.

    WENDY TAYLOR: It’s really opened up our eyes to new ways to solve some of these tough development challenges that we haven’t really been able to crack.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Last fall, USAID decided it need a new way to think about fighting Ebola.

    WENDY TAYLOR: We started to see health care workers on the front lines face some real obstacles in providing care to their patients, and we thought it was an area that was ripe for innovation.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Johns Hopkins responded by holding a weekend-long hackathon.

    YOUSEPH YAZDI, Johns Hopkins University Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design: Frankly, I was skeptical of what would come out of it. How can a group of novices address a problem and come up with solutions that are, you know, better than what the established players have come up with?  But we decided to just give it a try.

    So what’s the plan?

    MARY JO BROOKS: Youseph Yazdi, who spearheaded the effort, said they assembled a wide variety of materials to test their ideas.

    YOUSEPH YAZDI: We raided fabric stores for everything you would need to test out your own ideas on the way to design a suit, cooling equipment, chocolate syrup, sewing machines.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Why chocolate syrup?

    YOUSEPH YAZDI: Because you want the see if you can protect yourself from contamination. So you rub the stuff all over yourself and then try to take off the suit and then see if any of it got on your skin. That’s — it’s a poor man’s simulation.

    MARY JO BROOKS: The working group divided into eight teams, each trying to deal with a different problem with the existing protective suits. They’re hot. The goggles fog up. It takes too long to put on and take off, and there are too many places where infection can put in.

    MATTHEW PETNEY, Johns Hopkins University Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design: Right. But it’s a big problem. There is skin showing. You can’t have any skin showing when you are treating Ebola.

    MARY JO BROOKS: So that — the multiple pieces was one of the problems you had to solve?

    MATTHEW PETNEY: Absolutely.

    WOMAN: Started to fog up.

    MATTHEW PETNEY: And this is — it’s 60 degrees and not humid.

    WOMAN: Right.

    MATTHEW PETNEY: So you can see how much worse it would be.

    MARY JO BROOKS: The prototype they built eliminates the need for separate goggles and creates an air channel in the hood to prevent fogging.

    MATTHEW PETNEY: It’s very different from the neck up. Right?  You see all of the face. As he breathes, as he exhales, the fogging is limited to this area. And all of the exhale leaves here. So you’re constantly bringing in fresh air from above, from these inhale vents.

    MARY JO BROOKS: The new suit is cooler, which means workers can wear it twice as long. Instead of 45 minutes, they can wear it for an hour-and-a-half.

    MATTHEW PETNEY: We have moved the zipper to the back, because the front is generally the most contaminated. And, hopefully, by moving it from the front to the back, we can reduce the need for an apron which they wear, which is heavy and adds to the heat burden.

    MARY JO BROOKS: The new suit is also easier to put on and take off with less chance of contamination. But not all of the ideas at the Grand Challenge were good ones.

    JILL ANDREWS: One of the first things that I was really interested in was using magnets, but that got nixed.

    YOUSEPH YAZDI: Plenty of bad ideas, plenty of really bone-headed, stupid ideas. But that’s what we love. Even if it’s a crazy idea, we encourage people to write it down. And then, as a leadership team, we filter through them to see which ones were feasible and fit within the constraints.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Enough good ideas were generated to design a prototype suit that was then one of 15 projects chosen by USAID to be funded. That was out of 1,500 ideas submitted by individuals, labs and universities all around the world. The prototype is now being further refined and many of the changes will appear in suits that will begin manufacture this summer.

    MAN: Replacing the idea of tubing.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Professor Yazdi says he’s become a big believer in the idea of grand challenges.

    YOUSEPH YAZDI: The more of this type of approach that the government takes of other organizations, like Gates Foundation, et cetera, I think it’s a wonderful model to rapidly solve problems. The old approach of having people spend years in the lab developing stuff is great to develop new science and technology.

    But when it comes to solving problems, to bridging between science — between human knowledge and human need, this approach is really, I think, a very good one to take.

    MARY JO BROOKS: In Baltimore, Maryland, I’m Mary Jo Brooks, reporting for the PBS NewsHour.

    The post Fashioning a better Ebola suit with sewing machines and chocolate syrup appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    book terms of service

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    GWEN IFILL: Now the latest addition to the NewsHour bookshelf, “Terms of Service.” It’s a look at the erosion of privacy in the age of social media.

    Jeffrey Brown recently talked to author Jacob Silverman at Busboys and Poets, a restaurant and bookstore chain in and around Washington.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Welcome to you.

    JACOB SILVERMAN, Author, “Terms of Service”: Thanks for having me.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The case you’re making — and it’s a strong case — we don’t know or we don’t seem to care enough about what we’re giving away in our digital lives.

    JACOB SILVERMAN: Right.

    Well, the same systems that make it so easy to communicate with one another and live these lives where we’re essentially all public figures now also make it very easy to sort of spy on us, to collect personal information, whether you’re companies or governments or other bad actors.

    And I think that a lot of people don’t really realize how much is being collected on each and every one of us, that there are big data brokers out there forming dossiers on hundreds of millions of people.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There’s been a lot of emphasis on government surveillance. Here, you’re really pointing to what we perhaps don’t know as much about, corporate surveillance.

    JACOB SILVERMAN: Right.

    Well, actually, corporations have really led the way turning the Internet into what is really a remarkable surveillance machine. Ever since the introduction of the cookie about 15 years ago, we have sort of shifted paths to make the Internet all about monitoring what users do, so that we can direct ads toward them.

    But really that same framework has caused it so that we are only giving away more and more personal information as the years go by, and as these systems become more sophisticated, more intrusive and more sort of intensive in their data-gathering.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, what’s an example? What did you find? We all kind of get to that point where we have to push the button, right?

    JACOB SILVERMAN: Sure.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Read the terms or push the button. What did you find out that kind of shocked you?

    JACOB SILVERMAN: Well, one thing that really troubled me is I learned that Facebook actually — not only do they track of course everything you do on the site, not only what you post, but whose profiles you look at, how often you log on, where you’re logging in from, but they will even track statements that you write into the status bar and then delete.

    And they call this self-censorship. And I think this is very revealing of Facebook’s mind-set. They think that if someone is writing something into the status bar and decides not to post it, that that’s a form of self-censorship, that we’re actually sort of denying ourselves some form of expression.

    And I think that’s revealing of Facebook’s mind-set, which is that they really want to know everything we’re kind of doing and thinking and our responses to pretty much almost any form of stimuli. And I think that’s really troubling and not really a fair arrangement.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so what do you do? When you come to that — the terms of service, right, the language that we’re all supposed to read, and I suspect most of us just push the button and move on.

    What do you do?

    JACOB SILVERMAN: I often do the same.

    I have tried to be a little more careful and start paying more attention to things like app permissions when I install apps on my phone, but really these problems are very difficult for any individual to tackle. And that’s why I often talk about more collective solutions, whether it’s things like regulation or more transparency on behalf of companies of what data are they collecting, how are they using it, who are they selling it to, how long are they storing it for?

    These are very basic pieces of information about how these companies operate, and we really don’t know the answers to these questions.

    JEFFREY BROWN: People feel like they’re getting something out of this digital life, whether it is convenience, whether it’s information, whether it’s connections to communities. We perhaps understand that we’re giving up something to get that.

    JACOB SILVERMAN: There will always be a kind of bargain, I think. But no one has ever said that it has to be so lopsided, I think. And…

    JEFFREY BROWN: You think that’s the issue? The balance is out of whack?

    JACOB SILVERMAN: Sure. I think there is a real lack of power on behalf of users.

    We really don’t know what kind of information we’re giving over or how it’s being used, and we have to accept the data collection regimes and the privacy standards for these companies. It’s either all or nothing. And we really have very little control, and I just would like to see some more control returned to the hands of users.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Do you see a difference in generations, young people who have grown up giving away in a sense more about themselves?

    JACOB SILVERMAN: There is sort of a kind of more ease for young people in terms of slipping into these systems and adopting them wholesale.

    But I also think young people are very savvy. And they often take steps to protect their privacy and even their identity online, especially if they’re minors, in ways that we might not appreciate. There’s an old technique called white-walling, which a lot of — some young Facebook users do, in which they post messages on each others’ Facebook walls, and then will completely delete every message on their walls after they know it’s been seen.

    So there are these sort of savvy methods that some young people have shown. And I think you can even point to something like Snapchat, which had its security issues over the years, but this is an app that really took off with young people, not only because of the more prurient possibilities with it, but because young people also knew that it provided some measure of privacy because their messages wouldn’t be permanently stored.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, some things, individuals can do. The rest, you think requires what you call collective action?

    JACOB SILVERMAN: Sure.

    I mean, privacy isn’t just an individual issue. It really involves all of us. A lot of regular sort of John Q. Internet user might be some middle-class person who is very comfortable on Facebook and Twitter giving away a little bit of personal information here and there and isn’t very worried.

    But privacy is much more about the collective, about society. I might not be worried about my own privacy, but I should care about the privacy of other people, about people on the margins, the more vulnerable people, people that might not have the time to sort of tend to their online profile and reputation. Those are the people who privacy legislation and various tools are supposed to protect.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, the book is “Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection.”

    Jacob Silverman, thanks so much.

    JACOB SILVERMAN: Thank you very much.

    The post How can we return privacy control to social media users? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    processed foods - screen shot

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    GWEN IFILL: Now to Minnesota, where one part old technology, and several new ideas from retired workers, are creating a recipe of hope for many in the developing world.

    Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro has the latest story in our Breakthroughs series on innovation and invention.

    WOMAN: I promise you a perfect cake every time you bake. That’s right, perfect. You be the judge. Or write General Mills, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and get your money back.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Minnesota is where the idea of making things easier in the kitchen became an industry, the birthplace of such fictional legends as the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Jolly Green Giant and Betty Crocker.

    WOMAN: A perfect cake every time you bake, cake after cake after cake.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Perfect?  Maybe not. But convenient and efficient?  No question.

    ERV LENTZ, Volunteer: Some with nuts, some without.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And that’s the idea behind a nonprofit company in Saint Paul called CTI, or Compatible Technology International. Different kind of cakes, though.

    ERV LENTZ: Just plain trash.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Erv Lentz is squeezing discarded peanut shells, trying to make fuel briquettes. He’s 83, one of dozens of retired engineers, agronomists and other with ties to the food business who volunteer here.

    They’re now working on conveniences for a very different kitchen and customer, millions of mostly women in developing nations who toil for hours to provide food or to collect water for their families.

    VERN CARDWELL, Volunteer: If you want to do the cranking there, get her up to speed.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Seventy-eight-year-old Vern Cardwell is working on a hand-cranked thresher that could save hours of labor and extract grain far more efficiently than the manual methods used now.

    VERN CARDWELL: We’re obviously stripping all of the florets off that contain the grain.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: This test was on stocks of pearl millet, a staple in parts of Africa.

    ERV LENTZ: Just blows your mind when you think how overnight, we can, for instance, help their useful pearl millet from 30 to 35 percent to darn near 90. The impact here is endless in terms of the impact on people.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: At least in theory. Over the years, they have learned hard lessons about the reality in a Minnesota lab and that in a village in, say, Malawi or Tanzania.

    Steve Clarke says they went to try out one invention in those African nations.

    STEVE CLARKE, Volunteer: We had this great tool here called the grinder, which we knew could grind peanuts into peanut butter very, very well. But when we got over to those countries, we found out they didn’t make a lot of peanut butter.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: What they needed was a peanut sheller. Diet, social traditions and general all play a role in how a product is received, says CTI’s director, Alexandra Spieldoch.

    ALEXANDRA SPIELDOCH, Director, Compatible Technology International: Tools that are designed in a void are largely not going to be adopted. The whole process of design needs to be about really understanding the context.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: One device they have had some success with is a water chlorinator. Unlike those used in rich countries, this one uses no electricity or pumps.

    Wesley Meier is one of few paid staffers at CTI. He heads this program in Nicaragua.

    WESLEY MEIER, Compatible Technology International: Simple device, designed by an engineer based out of Saint Paul. So this is just the container for the tablet. This is the actual chlorine tablet. There’s five of them in here.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Dozens have been installed in remote mountainous communities in this Central American nation.

    The water supply in this area is mostly driven by gravity. It comes from natural streams up the mountain and flows by gravity into tanks like this one. The tiny community of Las Animas is having a CTI chlorinator installed. When it’s done, the 380 residents of the village will have safe water at almost no additional cost.

    The device costs just $150. Its plastic pipes and chlorine tablets are available locally.

    MAN (through interpreter): At this point, the water passes through the chlorine tablet and mixes with the water. As it mixes, it eats up the bacteria and cleans the water.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Community leaders like Emili Juarez are instructed to monitor chlorine levels and to change the tablets periodically.

    EMILI JUAREZ (through interpreter): We really didn’t have potable water, and we really needed to install this system. We know that unclean water can lead to diseases like diarrhea and hepatitis.

    ERV LENTZ: When we go to play bridge at the club, people will often times come along and, it’s about once a month, the thing, and, “Well, how’s the water system doing?”  And I usually put a little needle in and say, well, we could do a lot better if we had a little more money, you know.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Does that end the conversation there?

    ERV LENTZ: No.

    (LAUGHTER)

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: CTI’s annual budget is $750,000, mostly from charitable donations. But that doesn’t include thousands of hours volunteers like Erv Lentz put in pursuing the perfect pedal-powered potato slicer, grinder or pepper shredder.

    Vern Cardwell did manage to come up with a peanut sheller and got to see it demonstrated in Malawi.

    VERN CARDWELL: By hand they can get two pounds of nuts shelled an hour, and with our disc peanut sheller we can do 50 to 60 pounds of nuts an hour.

    And the women look at that, and they’re just giggling, and they’re all excited about this piece of equipment, and everybody wants — you’ll leave it here?  You’ll leave it here, so we can use it?

    And that kind of excitement is very infectious.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It’s what’s kept him and the other coming here almost full time for years.

    This is Fred de Sam Lazaro for the PBS NewsHour in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

    GWEN IFILL: A version of this story aired on the PBS program “Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.”

    Fred’s reporting is a partnership with the Under-Told Stories Project at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

    The post How simple tools can shave hours off food preparation in the developing world appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    (GWEN) ¤W0 22 ]] C2.5 G 0 [[ GI O/C ¤W1 45 ]] C2.5 G 0 [[ *CG GFX MON #StudentReporting NOW, A UNIQUE LOOK AT SCHOOL SAFETY ISSUES... THROUGH THE EYES OF YOUNG PEOPLE. TODAY WE'RE LAUNCHING A NEW FEATURE FROM OUR NETWORK OF STUDENT REPORTING LABS -- MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL JOURNALISM PROGRAMS AROUND THE COUNTRY. IT EXPLORES HOW THE CONCEPT OF SAFETY HAS BEEN REDEFINED SINCE THE SANDY HOOK TRAGEDY TWO YEARS AGO. OUR FIRST REPORT COMES FROM  STUDENT TELEVISION NETWORK CORRESPONDENT SYDNEY PAYNE AT CARLSBAD HIGH SCHOOL IN CALIFORNIA.

    On Oct. 10, 2010, a gunman entered the premises of Kelly Elementary School in Carlsbad, California, armed with a .357 magnum, a propane tank and a gas can. He fired six shots in succession and announced he was here to, “burn them all.” Students from Carlsbad High School visited the school four years later to see how it is healing.

    What does it mean to feel safe and be safe at school?

    newsafelogo-1000This month marks the anniversaries of the shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech. And while the continuous news cycle can make school shootings seem like an epidemic, below the surface, school communities are changing and rethinking ways to protect students. PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs and the Student Television Network asked scholastic broadcast journalism programs across the United States to tell their own stories. The students reported on how social media threats affects school culture, the changing roles of armed guards, metal detectors and new entry procedures, how administrators are using technology as a safety tool, and shifting ideas about integrating security into architecture, including the new design for Sandy Hook elementary school.

    Finding a balance between school security and a comfortable learning environment is a challenge many schools face. Stay tuned as more youth reporters file stories from around the country and continue the conversation at #thenewsafe.

    The post The New Safe: Stories from the frontlines of school safety appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    DEEP DIVIDE GRAND CANYON COLORADO RIVER  monitor

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    GWEN IFILL: The Grand Canyon has long been recognized as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. But, increasingly, there are fights over what kind of development should be allowed near it, and even within it, to allow visitors to see more.

    The latest battle is over the Colorado River that runs through it.

    Jeffrey Brown has the story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Much of the fight revolves around what could happen to the 277-mile stretch of the Lower Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon, a crucial part of the ecosystem, and the majestic vistas five million people come to see each year.

    One issue: A developer wants to create a tramway to bring as many as 10,000 tourists a day to the bottom. It would be on Navajo land, and the company has been working with some tribal leaders to create a hotel near the plateau and a restaurant at the bottom.

    Separately, a mining company hopes to reopen a uranium mine near the canyon’s rim. And a nearby town wants to create 2,000 more homes near the park’s South Rim entrance. All of this led the environmental advocacy group American Rivers, to put the Colorado at the top of its new 10 most endangered rivers list.

    Its president, Robert Irvin, joins me now.

    And welcome to you.

    ROBERT IRVIN, American Rivers: Thank you for having me.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And to be clear, this is not a list of the most polluted or damaged rivers. This is what might happen.

    ROBERT IRVIN: That’s right.

    This is the 10 most endangered rivers. And we have three criteria. The rivers have to be of national or regional importance. There has to be an imminent threat to them, and most importantly there has to be something that’s going to happen this year, some decision that’s going to be made that concerned citizens can influence.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So in the case of the Colorado River at the Grand Canyon, I just listed some of your concern, but fill that in a little bit.

    ROBERT IRVIN: Well, everyone knows about the Grand Canyon.

    And the Colorado River is the lifeblood of the Grand Canyon. This is an amazing national and indeed international resource, and there are significant threats to it. We all think of it as being protected as a national park. But the reality is that there is a huge construction project proposed right in the heart of the canyon.

    There’s the threat of expanded and new uranium mining around the canyon. And there are proposals to add 2,000 homes to an existing town just outside of the south entrance of the park, which will be terribly damaging to the water supply in that region.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now, we reached out to a developer and others and they were unable to join us tonight, but we found on the Web site of the developer — as we said, they have been working with some Navajo tribespeople.

    And we found this audio clip from that site. Let’s listen to that.

    ADVOCATE FOR PROJECT: It would be nice to have a job for my mom and I that’s closer to home. I would have more time with my mother and not have to worry about her driving morning and night to work. This Escalade project will benefit many people of my generation. It’s our jobs, our community, our state, too.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, so more jobs, that’s one of the arguments. Better access for more people to see the canyon.

    Do you deny that, or do you just think that the costs outweigh any such benefits?

    ROBERT IRVIN: Well, no one can deny that the Navajo people need greater economic development. The question is: What type of economic development?

    Is it the best thing to do to sacrifice this nationally important, internationally important resource, the Grand Canyon, and the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers in the name of economic development? The confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado River is a sacred place to many Navajo, to the Hopi, to the Zuni and to other tribes, and it’s an internationally important place as well.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You are — you have got nine other lists — nine other rivers on this list. Can’t go through them all. But can you give us a sense of the kinds of threats that you see maybe with a couple other examples?

    ROBERT IRVIN: Sure. Sure.

    One of the common themes in this year’s list is the threat to clean drinking water, be it from mining operations or from inadequate sewage treatment around the country. And so we have a couple rivers in Tennessee, the Harpeth River and the Holston River, and in Montana the Smith River, which is threatened by a massive copper mine.

    And even in Alaska, the Chuitna River is being threatened by one of the world’s largest strip mines for coal.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So the purpose of the list then is public awareness? What do you want to happen next?

    ROBERT IRVIN: Well, mostly, we want Americans to stand up for their rivers and say, we care about our rivers. They’re important to us for drinking water, they’re important to us as places to fish and to paddle, and they’re important to our children and our grandchildren.

    And so this list alerts people to the threats to their rivers and gives them the tools they need to stand up to protect them.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Robert Irvin of the American Rivers, thanks so much.

    ROBERT IRVIN: Thank you.

    The post How a plan for the ultimate tourist experience could threaten the Grand Canyon appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    elementaryschool

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    GWEN IFILL: Now a unique look at school safety issues through the eyes of young people.

    Today, we’re launching a new feature from our network of Student Reporting Labs, middle and high school journalism programs around the country. It explores how the concept of safety has been redefined since the Sandy Hook tragedy two years ago.

    Our first report comes from student television network correspondent Sydney Payne at Carlsbad High School in California.

    As part of our series on what’s changed, she and her team visited a local San Diego elementary school that was the scene of a terrifying shooting in 2010.

    We’re calling the series The New Safe.

    SYDNEY PAYNE: Friday October 8, 2010, began as any other day begins at this suburban San Diego elementary school. It was lunchtime, and the students were heading out on to the playground.

    At about the same time, 41-year-old Brendan O’Rourke pulled up to a curb outside the school. He was armed with a .357 Magnum revolver, a red gasoline can and a propane tank.

    BARBARA SWEARINGEN, Administrative Assistant, Kelly Elementary School: It was a typical Friday. Everyone was wearing their spirit wear. It was very relaxed and we heard what we figured later was the last gunshot.

    TRESSIE ARMSTRONG, Principal, Kelly Elementary School: We heard over the walkie-talkie the custodian was yelling that somebody was shooting at the children.

    CARSON SCOTT, Student Eyewitness: There was a loud bang and everybody thought it was just like a big firework. And so just everybody is looking up, like up over there, because that’s where he was. Everybody just, like, looked up at everything, and nobody knows what’s going on. And then a few people started screaming and then everybody starts screaming.

    SYDNEY PAYNE: It’s lunchtime, and Carson and his friends are out on the playground. The loud ping that he hears is actually the sound of a bullet from a .357 Magnum handgun hitting this metal pole, only about 10 feet away from where Carson and his friends were playing.

    CARSON SCOTT: I see a man who looks like he’s wearing all black, like a black — like everything all black, like a beanie and a shirt and long sleeves. And he’s just running with a gun.

    KEVIN LEHAN, Sergeant, City of Carlsbad Police Department: He ends up shooting a couple rounds and ends up getting confronted by a school aide. At that point, he raises the gun, points it at her chest and pulls the trigger. Well, he ran out — he had a revolver. He ran out of ammunition.

    SYDNEY PAYNE: Before running out of bullets, the gunman randomly shot six rounds into an open playground of children. Two girls, ages 6 and 7, were caught in the gunfire.

    SGT. KEVIN LEHAN: His statements were, “Shoot them, burn them, blow them up.”  And I don’t think he was planning on just taking a couple shots and leave. I don’t think that was sufficient for him.

    SYDNEY PAYNE: Alarmed by the students’ screams, three construction workers who were working on the roof of the school noticed Brendan O’Rourke as he climbed back over the fence. O’Rourke had run out of ammunition and he was heading back to his car to reload.

    The men were able to wrestle him to the ground after one of the workers hit the shooter with his truck. Nobody at Kelly Elementary School ever expected something like this to happen here.

    TRACY MARKS, Teacher, Kelly Elementary School: My life won’t be the same, no. I mean, I worry when I send my kid to school, you know, that something could happen. It won’t be the same. Our Kelly bubble was broken that day.

    TRESSIE ARMSTRONG: I think, when somebody tries to hurt kids that badly and we love these kids so much, and you think that somebody tried to do that to them, it’s emotional. That hurts me that that happened for them. And I’m also very proud of them, because kids are super resilient.

    Peggy Parish teaches kindergarten at Kelly. As the school went into immediate lockdown, Parish ushered 15 students and three classroom helpers into a bathroom. They would stay there for the first 45 minutes of the nearly four-hour lockdown.

    PEGGY PARISH, Teacher, Kelly Elementary School: About 45 minutes, we were all in this one bathroom, and then we had some go into the other bathroom after about 45 minutes.

    And at the beginning, we were all just up kind of against the wall, and then, as time went along and as I was reading and doing lessons, I had to sit there on the floor.

    SYDNEY PAYNE: Right.

    PEGGY PARISH: And, so, yes, it was cozy. There were — it was tight.

    SYDNEY PAYNE: Right.

    Parents were asked to congregate in a nearby park. For nearly four hours, they would wait as law enforcement searched the campus, ruling out the possibility that there was a second gunman.

    BARBARA SWEARINGEN: It was amazing to see them waiting in the park so patiently. They just waited. It was amazing.

    SYDNEY PAYNE: Carson was asked to testify at O’Rourke’s trial. His vantage point on the play structure allowed him to get a good look at the gunman. Four years have passed since the shooting at Kelly Elementary School. It takes time to heal, and for some, the process can be a difficult one.

    REESE FELS, Student, Kelly Elementary School: I think that, what if it happens again? What if somebody comes again and shoots at our school?

    PEGGY PARISH: Kids are going to be in school for a long time. And I don’t want them to approach every morning as a place that they’re going to a place that’s scary. I want them to know that school is safe and that there are people, way more people who are good people in the world than people who might try to hurt them.

    TRESSIE ARMSTRONG: Educators, not me, not just me, but everybody, the staff, would put their lives on the line for children. And when push comes to shove and there’s a big situation, the adults who are caring for the kids will put their lives on the line for them.

    And the public out there needs to be aware that educators are really dedicated to the kids in their care and we will do what it takes to make sure that they’re safe.

    SYDNEY PAYNE: The shooting happened on a Friday. Meeting over the weekend, the staff decided to reopen school on the following Monday. This would be the beginning of an extraordinary healing process.

    TRESSIE ARMSTRONG: We decided that we really needed to celebrate a miracle, and not let this incident destroy us, but help us come together. We wanted to choose love over hate and courage over fear, because that’s how this community works together.

    SYDNEY PAYNE: While a few families transferred to other elementary schools in the district after the shooting, the vast majority chose to remain at Kelly.

    KAYLA LEHMAN, Former Student, Kelly Elementary School: I decided to stay at Kelly because it is like — it really brought us all closer together. And I thought not to run away from your fear. I thought it was cool that, even after that, that I could come become and feel safe.

    GWEN IFILL: You can see more student reports and the entire New Safe series on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.

     

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    Followers of the Houthi movement raise their rifles as they shout slogans against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa

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    GWEN IFILL: In Saudi Arabia today, Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced the U.S. will accelerate delivery of arms and intelligence, to boost the Saudis’ 13-day-old bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen.

    Yemen’s slide towards humanitarian disaster has seen airports and sea trade cut off and a government coup. Iran’s supreme leader, who is said to back the Houthis, said today foreign interference must stop.

    Journalist Safa Al Ahmad gets a rare inside look inside an unstable nation and into the lives and aspirations of Houthi fighters in tonight’s “Frontline” documentary, “The Fight for Yemen.”

    SAFA AL AHMAD, Journalist: For the moment, the Saudi border may be the limit of Houthi control, but their ambitions go way beyond it.

    MAN (through interpreter): The Houthis are part of the Muslim world. We can’t be defined by a sect or confined by borders. Our borders are the holy Koran and the Islamic and Arab world. We will help oppressed people all over the world.

    SAFA AL AHMAD: So, this barbed wire here means nothing to you?

    MAN (through interpreter): It means nothing. It represents nothing.

    MAN (through interpreter): If the relationship between the Yemeni and Saudi Arabian people is strengthened, then it will ease the fall of the House of al Saud.

    Yes, it will be a painful surgical procedure, but in the end, there will be healing from the sickness.

    SAFA AL AHMAD: The Saudis see them as a potent threat and accuse the Houthis of collusion with their regional archrival, Iran. It has been widely reported that Iran gives the group weapons, money and training.

    MAN (through interpreter): This is not true. These accusations have been made for a long time.

    SAFA AL AHMAD (through interpreter): No financial, military or moral support?

    MAN (through interpreter): No financial or military. If there is moral support, we support Chavez in Venezuela. Why this insistence that we receive support from Iran, other than wanting to turn the struggle in this country and the region into a sectarian one, based on the American and Zionist agenda?

    SAFA AL AHMAD: But the struggle against the Houthis inside Yemen is fierce. For years, powerful Yemeni tribes received money from Saudi Arabia. Now the Saudis back the Sunni tribes opposed to the Houthis with cash and arms. And then there is al-Qaida.

    GWEN IFILL: I spoke to journalist Safa Al Ahmad a short time ago.

    Safa Al Ahmad, thank you for joining us.

    You spent some time on the border, as we just saw, going places most people don’t get to go in Yemen and talking to people most people don’t get to talk. So, but what is the attitude on the ground? What is the sense of this kind of irrevocable slide we’re seeing in Yemen?

    SAFA AL AHMAD: Yes. I mean, when I was there, I could see the beginning of that schism within the Yemeni society between those who are pro- and anti-Houthi.

    And it was juxtaposed with the reality on the ground of them used to suffering through a lot of corrupt political groups. And so for a lot of people, they saw the Houthis as hope that there would actually be an honest government finally. But, unfortunately, that wasn’t true. So, the victim, who were the Houthis for over a decade, now have been the victimizer.

    GWEN IFILL: You were there before the Saudis started their airstrikes that began 13 days ago. Tell us a little bit about what the Houthis, how they came to be where they came to be now, as you described.

    SAFA AL AHMAD: Yes.

    In the beginning, it was an ideology. Hussein al-Houthi, the founder of the Houthi movement — and this is where the name came from — started off as a Zaidi revivalist, which is a very specific sect that falls under the umbrella of the general Shia sect, but have very different beliefs than, for example, Iranian Shia.

    And he had very strong anti-imperialist ideas as well. He was quite affected by September 11. And he saw the wars on Iraq and the war on Afghanistan as a pretext by the Americans and the West to occupy Muslim land.

    And so, beginning with that, Ali Saleh, who used to be the president of Yemen at the time, was really worried about that ideology. And he waged six wars against the Houthis. So, he’s the one who effectively transformed them from an ideology, from just a group of people having religious discussions in the mountains of Sa’ada in the north of Yemen, into a fully fledged rebel movement.

    And one of the things that came out of that is that they no longer wanted to be marginalized. They wanted to be at the table of power. And this is why they ended up taking control of Sanaa and large parts of Yemen.

    GWEN IFILL: You describe in your piece at the end that we showed that we showed — then there came al-Qaida.

    Is there a connection, any comparison that can be made, especially in ideology, between the Houthis and al-Qaida?

    SAFA AL AHMAD: Yes.

    Well, I mean, the ironic factor that is between the Houthis and al-Qaida, that is, they both have very strong anti-American sentiment. So, for example, the slogan of the Houthis is death to America and death to Israel and God curse the Jews and victory to Islam.

    And besides that, there is very little in common between al-Qaida and the Houthis as far as ideology goes, but they do see themselves as having a common enemy, which is America. And so America is in an interesting situation, where the Houthis are fighting al-Qaida quite viciously on the ground, yet now the Americans are allied with Saudi Arabia in strikes against the Houthis.

    It just shows you how complex Yemen is, really, and the whole region at the moment.

    GWEN IFILL: And what is Iran’s role here?

    SAFA AL AHMAD: Well, I don’t know. It depends how much you buy into that the Iranians are actually fully backing the Houthis.

    I think what is happening is that Houthis and the Iranians have common interests, but there’s very little good journalism that’s been done to uncover the true extent of that relationship between the Houthis and Iran. But, obviously, I do think that they — they benefit from the rhetoric of the Houthis on the ground.

    But, also, they do have a connection, but not to the extent that is being covered in the media at the moment by describing them as a Shia militia backed by Iran. I think that’s an overstatement.

    GWEN IFILL: Safa Al Ahmad, your documentary tonight inside Yemen airs on most PBS stations on “Frontline.”

    Thank you very much for joining us.

    SAFA AL AHMAD: Thank you for your time.

    The post What drove a small sect to take control of Yemen? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Residents queue up to receive humanitarian aid at the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, in Damascus

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    GWEN IFILL: The United Nations is demanding immediate access to Palestinian refugee camp in Syria that’s come under Islamic State control. About 18,000 civilians at the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus are caught in the crossfire. One U.N. official described the scene there as beyond inhumane.

    Paul Davies of Independent Television News narrates our report.

    PAUL DAVIES: Syria’s civil war has reduced many communities to rubble. Yarmouk on the outskirts of Damascus is particularly tragic, for the civilians caught in the crossfire are not even Syrian. They are Palestinian refugees who came here to escape their own conflicts, only to find themselves in the middle of someone else’s, and at what a price.

    Yarmouk, officially a refugee camp, became a battleground because fighters from groups aligned to Islamic State moved in and used it as their base. The Syrian army responded, bombarding the area, effectively placing Yarmouk and all those who have taken shelter there under siege.

    The U.N. has become increasingly concerned about a developing humanitarian crisis. Last year, a U.N. photographer captured this remarkable picture of a civilian population trapped in a war zone. It’s estimated 18,000 Palestinian men, women and children remain in Yarmouk.

    Today, the Security Council said it was time for intervention.

    DINA KAWAR, President, United Nations Security Council: The members called for the protection of civilians in the camp, for ensuring humanitarian access to the area, including by providing lifesaving assistance.

    PAUL DAVIES: But getting help to trapped civilians is not possible while Islamic State and other groups are locked in war with President Assad’s military.

    Humanitarian groups are calling on all powers that have influence over the men with guns to use it to organize a cease-fire that would allow an evacuation of noncombatants.

     

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    GWEN IFILL: Jurors in the Boston Marathon bombing trial spent their first day deliberating today without reaching a verdict.

    Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is accused in the 2013 attack that killed three people and wounded 264. He’s also charged with killing a policeman. The defense admits his guilt, and has focused, instead, on trying to save him from the death penalty.

    There’s word the government tracked calls from the United States to nations linked to drug trafficking for more than 20 years. USA Today reports the effort was ultimately discontinued, but it served as a model for even more extensive surveillance after 9/11. The account says drug enforcement officials recorded call numbers and patterns, but not the content of the calls.

    Republican Senator Rand Paul has formally launched his 2016 presidential campaign. Paul announced in his home state of Kentucky, with a libertarian message that blasted Washington and government surveillance. He told supporters in Louisville that he wants a return to liberty.

    SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) Kentucky: I have been fortunate. I have been able to enjoy the American dream. I worry, though, that the opportunity and hope are slipping away for our sons and daughters.

    As I watch our once great economy collapse under mounting spending and debt, I think, what kind of America will our grandchildren see?  It seems to me that both parties and the entire political system are to blame.

    GWEN IFILL: The first-term senator’s father, Ron Paul, has run for president several times, without success.

    The CIA’s former station chief in Pakistan and its one-time general counsel will face criminal charges over a U.S. drone attack. A Pakistani judge ordered the charges filed today. They’re related to a strike that killed two people in the North Waziristan tribal region in 2009.

    In Iraq, forensic teams have begun exhuming bodies from mass graves found in Tikrit. The remains are believed to be soldiers massacred by Islamic State fighters last June. The city was recaptured last week. Relatives of the victims, along with Shiite militiamen, paid respects at one of the grave sites today. They offered prayers and lit candles for the dead.

    The Iran nuclear agreement gained a key endorsement today from the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard. The Guard’s commanding general said negotiators — quote — “succeeded in defending the rights of the Iranian nation, and the Iranian nation and the Guard appreciate their honest political efforts.”

    Separately, President Obama told NPR news that Iran would remain a year away from building a bomb for at least a decade.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What is a more relevant fear would be that, in year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that can enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and, at that point, the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.

    Keep in mind, though, currently, the breakout times are only about two to three months, by our intelligence estimates.

    GWEN IFILL: House Speaker John Boehner shot back, saying the president has now confirmed what critics of the deal have been saying.

    This was Election Day in Chicago, with the mayor’s office on the line. Incumbent Rahm Emanuel was heavily favored to win a second term in a runoff against Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a Cook County commissioner.

    And three city council seats were at stake in Ferguson, Missouri, in the city’s first election since last year’s shooting of a black teenager by a white policeman. The council could go from five whites and one black member to a 50-50 split.

    The National Transportation Safety Board is calling for urgent safety improvements for trains hauling crude oil. The agency issued four recommendations today after a series of derailments and fires. They include installing ceramic thermal blankets and other systems on oil cars to withstand fire, and sharply reducing the speed of oil trains.

    Wall Street had a quiet day, with all of the major indexes drifting slightly lower. The Dow Jones industrial average lost five points to close at 17875. The Nasdaq fell seven points, and the S&P 500 slipped four.

    And Duke celebrated today after its return to the pinnacle of men’s college basketball. The Blue Devils topped Wisconsin last night, in a 68-63 comeback victory. It’s the fifth title for Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. The women’s championship game is tonight between Connecticut and Notre Dame.

    The post News Wrap: U.S. officials charged for 2009 Pakistan drone attack appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Editor’s Note: Journalist Philip Moeller, who writes widely on health and retirement, is here to provide the Medicare answers you need in “Ask Phil, the Medicare Maven.” Send your questions to Phil.

    Today, Phil weighs in on the Medicare rules that make a financial distinction between certain visits to the hospital depending on how doctors characterize them and even the time of day.

    Moeller is a research fellow at the Center on Aging & Work at Boston College and co-
    author of “How to Live to 100.” He wrote his latest book, “How to Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security,” with Making Sen$e’s Paul Solman and Larry Kotlikoff. Follow him on Twitter @PhilMoeller or e­mail him at medicarephil@gmail.com.


    Welcome to yet another chapter of the loony world of Medicare rules. You will need to pay careful attention here to fully appreciate Medicare’s lack of common sense.

    Today’s installment revolves around what is called the “Two Midnight Rule,” which may affect whether your visit to a hospital is considered a formal admission or an observational stay. The distinction is hugely important because Medicare pays a whole lot less for observational hospital stays than admissions. By the way, this is true even if the actual care a person receives in both situations is identical – same doctors, same procedures, same medications, same supplies, same everything.

    When Medicare pays less, Medical beneficiaries usually pay more, and occasionally a lot more. This is an “it depends” consequence that hinges on the differential costs of whether the visit is covered by Medicare Part B (as an out-patient) or Medicare Part A (as an in-patient). Being on the hook for steeper out-of-pocket expenses would be something nice for patients to know before they undergo treatment. But there is no requirement for hospitals or doctors to tell patients whether their stay is considered observational or an admission. And in their defense, of course, caregivers may not know at the time the patient enters the hospital for evaluation.

    Further, and potentially more serious, in order for Medicare to provide insurance for subsequent short-term stays in skilled nursing facilities, patients are required to have had at least three days of hospital care as admitted patients. When they are treated as observational patients, they can’t qualify for such nursing care, which can be very expensive if not covered by Medicare.

    Are the pupils of your eyes dilating yet with incredulity? Read on.

    Medicare contracts with private companies as recovery audit contractors (RACs). RACs audit a lot more than whether a patient’s stay is observational or an admission. But their incomes are linked to how much money their audits can recover, and the observational-admission revenue differential has been seen as attractive low-hanging fruit for recovery efforts. If RACs could show that providers inappropriately billed a Medicare patient’s hospital visit as an admission instead of an observational stay, it just might be cork-popping time.

    One of the measures used to determine the appropriateness of these admission decisions is the patient’s subsequent health status. This seems logical but the RACs don’t have to make these decisions in real time, as doctors and hospitals do. Instead, they can select observation-admission decisions made as far back as three years, look at subsequent patient outcomes, and then initiate recovery procedures if certain patients with healthy post-hospital outcomes had been admitted rather than treated on an observational basis. Health care providers face the loss of not just their excess billings but all their billings for a patient.

    To avoid these potentially costly RAC audits, hospitals and doctors began classifying more and more hospital visits as observational. Between 2006 and 2012, Medicare hospital visits were about flat but observational visits rose nearly 90 percent to 1.8 million, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), which advises Congress about Medicare.

    To counter this trend, Medicare instituted the Two Midnight Rule in 2013. It says that if a patient’s medical condition could reasonably be expected to require staying in the hospital more than two midnights, he or she should be formally admitted and care should be billed accordingly.

    I can find no clinical basis for a Two Midnight Rule as opposed to the “Two 8 A.M. Rule” or the “1.9 4 P.M Rule” or the “Whatever Reasonable Time We Say It Is Rule.” Medicare needed a time measure and this was the one it chose.

    By giving the RACs a more precise time measure to use in their audits, however, the rule ran into stiff opposition from health care providers, and Medicare has prevented the RACs from auditing hospitals and doctors over its use. This has effectively prevented RACs from auditing hospital admissions longer than two days. RACs say this has permitted some hospitals to abuse the system and boost their Medicare revenues. The hospitals deny this.

    The ban on enforcing the Two Midnight Rule was set to expire last month but has been extended until the end of April. It would be extended for six more months under the so-called Medicare “doc fix” bill that recently passed the House and is awaiting Senate action next week when Congress is back in session.

    MedPAC commissioners voted late last week to recommend that CMS junk the Two Midnight Rule altogether as part of broader recommendations to improve the RAC program. AARP is readying a study that will include information about the financial impact on Medicare beneficiaries from this mess.

    Meanwhile, Medicare also has stepped up its efforts to reduce hospital readmissions, which cost the system a pretty penny. Its thinking is that hospitals’ efforts to discharge Medicare patients prematurely have contributed to this trend, and that socking offenders with financial penalties for high readmission rates will improve care and save money.

    One way to avoid readmissions is to never admit the patient in the first place, but classify their visit as observational. Is this a cynical explanation for why some Medicare beneficiaries are not admitted to the hospital?

    You bet. And why should this be surprising?


    Your Medicare Questions

    Medicare rules and private insurance plans can affect people differently depending on where they live. To make sure the answers here are as accurate as possible, Phil is working with the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). It is funded by the government but is otherwise independent and trains volunteers to provide consumer Medicare counseling in state and local offices around the country. The nonprofit Medicare Rights Center is also providing on­going help.


    Dennia – Mo.: I retired from an employer who partially paid my medical coverage as part of my retirement compensation in 2013. I did not take Medicare B at 65 because I worked for another company until two weeks ago. I am 66 now and am at full retirement age for Social Security. I discovered that although I have retirement medical coverage partially paid by my ex-employer, I have to pay a penalty for Medicare Part B coverage because I refused it when I turned 65 thinking that since I had retirement coverage and paid more than $675 a month for medical benefits, that I did not need to take Medicare B and pay another $208 a month on top of the $675 I already was paying. To add salt to the wound, I found out that I have to wait until June before Medicare Part B becomes effective. Can you help me understand how they can make me wait until June before I can use Medicare Part B and also have to pay a penalty on top of the $208 each month? The bills I am getting already have reached more than $5,000.

    Phil Moeller: Wow, Dennia! I thought for sure that the health care advisors at SHIP who help me with these answers would have whistled a foul on Medicare for how you were treated. But, no, it turns out that the regulatory thicket that passes for Medicare’s rules actually produced an outcome that was correct for your situation.

    While this explanation may not help you, it is yet another cautionary tale that what you don’t know about Medicare can hurt you. Ignorance of its rules is no excuse, even if those rules are effectively impenetrable to Medicare beneficiaries.

    You are correct that the requirement to get Medicare at age 65 is waived if you have group health coverage from an employer (unless the employer has fewer than 20 employees). But the fine print here (which, honestly, I had never stopped to think about until now) is that this group health coverage has to be provided by an employer where you actively work. In your case, you were working for an employer, but your health insurance was not from that employer but from a previous employer.

    Medicare has a special enrollment period that allows 65-year-olds with group health coverage from a current employer to defer enrolling in Medicare until they leave their job or cease getting health coverage from this employer. Because this was not your situation, you fall under the program’s general enrollment provisions. And because you missed the time frame for applying under these general rules, you face premium penalties and the related coverage hassles you describe.

    It will not come as a surprise that I am not on the list of people that Medicare consults about its rules. I doubt Medicare beneficiaries are, either. But it seems to me that paying a premium penalty is bad enough without also having to go without coverage for months because of what is nearly always an unintentional failure to sign up for Medicare. The purpose of the program is to insure people and encourage healthy behaviors. That’s not happening here.


    Dawn – Pa.: I have a Medicare Advantage. I don’t mind the $8 co-pay to see my primary care physician (PCP), but I have a $40 co-pay at each therapy and medical check-up appointment at my community mental health facility. Is this the average with Medicare Advantage plans? Would I possibly be paying less with just a Part D prescription plan? My therapist is licensed to bill Medicare.

    Phil Moeller: As with most matters regarding Medicare, Dawn, your answer is “maybe” or “it depends.” Realistically, your best bet is to spend a lot of time around Labor Day reviewing all the Medicare plans available next year in your ZIP code. Then, when 2016 open enrollment begins in early October, you can make an informed choice about the coverage combination that is best for you.

    Your choice will be between Medicare Advantage and traditional Medicare, which includes Part A (hospital) and Part B (physician, outpatient and certain equipment) expenses. Also, traditional Medicare saddles you with a 20 percent co-pay with no maximum out-of-pocket ceiling. Many people insure against this exposure by buying a Medicare Supplement plan, also known as Medigap coverage. On the flip side, traditional Medicare lets you choose from among all participating doctors, whereas a Medicare Advantage plan may levy you steep upcharges for going outside its provider network.

    Medicare Advantage plans have to cover everything that traditional Medicare covers in Parts A and B of the program. But they can set their own co-pay rates. Some MA plans offer dental and other benefits that traditional Medicare does not. Most MA plans include drug coverage but some do not, permitting you to sign up for a separate Part D drug program. I wouldn’t try to benchmark plans against an average cost. Trying to develop an average is hard and could produce misleading results anyway. Besides, the costs that matter are your costs, not some average.

    Step one for most people is to find out what plans their doctors participate in. Next, go to Medicare’s Plan Finder and do a very thorough assessment of the premium, deductible and co-pay costs for each plan. Don’t do this before details for 2016 plans are loaded into Plan Finder. There are enough plan changes from year to year that the best choices in 2015 may not be the best choices next year.

    This is particularly true of your prescription drugs. Each insurance plan has its own drug formulary. Pay special attention here to the different levels, or tiers, of a plan’s drug coverage. More expensive drugs are included in the upper tiers of a plan’s formulary, which usually saddle consumers with higher proportions of drug expenses. You can analyze MA drug plans and stand-alone Part D drug plans as part of your comparison.

    You will face trade-offs in making your decision, and I’d make a list of plusses and minuses as I went through the various plan choices. Your local SHIP office, at (800) 783-7067, can help guide you through this process.

    The post Loony Medicare rules can turn a hospital visit into a costly adventure appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Debris from an Airbus A320 is seen in the mountains, near Seyne-les-Alpes, March 24, 2015 in this still image taken from TV. The Airbus operated by Lufthansa's Germanwings budget airline crashed into a mountainside in the French Alps on Tuesday, killing all 150 people on board including 16 schoolchildren. Photo by Reuters

    Debris from an Airbus A320 is seen in the mountains, near Seyne-les-Alpes, March 24, 2015 in this still image taken from TV. The Airbus operated by Lufthansa’s Germanwings budget airline crashed into a mountainside in the French Alps on Tuesday, killing all 150 people on board including 16 schoolchildren. Photo by Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Germanwings air crash investigation shouldn’t set a precedent for future investigations because it sought to assign blame before the probe was complete, which could jeopardize airline cooperation if it became the practice, the head of a trade association representing the global airline industry said Wednesday.

    Airlines and aviation safety regulators around the world have long-established procedures for investigating crashes that put identifying and correcting safety risks ahead of assigning blame, Tony Tyler, the CEO and director general of the International Air Transport Association, told reporters. Investigating with the intent to punish risks a loss of transparency and openness, he said.

    French prosecutors revealed within days of the crash that the plane’s cockpit voice recording indicated that one of the pilots deliberately flew the plane into a mountainside, killing all 150 people on board. The subsequent investigation has focused in large part on the pilot’s history of depression and procedures at Germanwings and its parent company, Lufthansa, for screening pilots for mental health issues.

    “The circumstances of investigation of the Germanwings accident have been highly unusual, and something that began as an accident investigation morphed into highly public criminal investigation in which it seemed that every day new revelations were coming out,” Tyler said. “This is a truly extraordinary case in many ways, but it shouldn’t set a precedent for the future.”

    The Paris prosecutor’s office said last week it is looking into claims that information from the investigation was wrongly leaked to the media. The move came after a lawsuit was filed by France’s leading pilots union, SNPL, over leaks about the crash investigation. The union is claiming a violation of French law about keeping information about investigations secret while they are ongoing.

    “I’m not going say that they anyone’s done anything wrong, but the important principle to bear in mind is that accident investigations should be conducted on a non-punitive basis,” Tyler said. “When you have the possibility of punitive measures resulting from accident investigation you then start to introduce unhelpful dynamics into the whole process where you risk losing the transparency, the openness” that’s needed “to identify what caused the event.”

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    North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, right, is seen allegedly shooting 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back as he runs away, in this still image from video in North Charleston, South Carolina taken April 4, 2015. Slager was charged with murder on Tuesday. The FBI and U.S. Justice Department have begun a separate investigation. Handout photo via Reuters

    North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, right, is seen allegedly shooting 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back as he runs away, in this still image from video in North Charleston, South Carolina taken April 4, 2015. Slager was charged with murder on Tuesday. The FBI and U.S. Justice Department have begun a separate investigation. Handout photo via Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The law gives police officers latitude to use deadly force when they feel physically endangered, but there’s far less legal flexibility when it comes to opening fire at fleeing individuals. Here’s a look at legal issues raised by Saturday’s police shooting in South Carolina in which video recorded by a bystander shows a black man being shot in the back and killed as he runs away.

    Is there a federal legal standard to judge the appropriateness of police use of force?

    Yes. The Supreme Court held in a 1989 case, Graham v. Connor, that the appropriateness of use of force by officers “must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene,” rather than evaluated through 20/20 hindsight.

    That standard is designed to take into account that police officers are frequently asked to make split-second decisions during fast-evolving confrontations, and should not be subject to overly harsh second guessing. The Justice Department cited that legal threshold last month when it declined to prosecute former Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death last summer of an unarmed black 18-year-old.

    Can police officers shoot at fleeing individuals?

    Only in very narrow circumstances. A seminal 1985 Supreme Court case, Tennessee vs. Garner, held that the police may not shoot at a fleeing person unless the officer reasonably believes that the individual poses a significant physical danger to the officer or others in the community. That means officers are expected to take other, less-deadly action during a foot or car pursuit unless the person being chased is seen as an immediate safety risk.

    In other words, a police officer who fires at a fleeing man who a moment earlier murdered a convenience store clerk may have reasonable grounds to argue that the shooting was justified. But if that same robber never fired his own weapon, the officer would likely have a much harder argument.

    “You don’t shoot fleeing felons. You apprehend them unless there are exigent circumstances — emergencies — that require urgent police action to safeguard the community as a whole,” said Greg Gilbertson, a police practices expert and criminal justice professor at Centralia College in Washington state.

    Gilbertson said he thought the video of the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina, was “insane” given what he said was the apparent lack of justification.

    Though the legal standard has been established, courts continue to hear cases involving use of force against fleeing felons under a variety of circumstances. Just last year, the Supreme Court sided with police officers who were sued over a high-speed, two-state chase in Arkansas that ended with the deaths of the fleeing driver and his passenger.

    In cases where police officers are not supposed to use deadly force against a fleeing person, what should they do?

    Each case involving a suspect who flees the police, whether in a car or on foot, poses a balancing test for an officer, said Chuck Drago, a police practices expert and former Oviedo, Florida, police chief.

    “Am I creating more of a danger by chasing this person than if I let this person stay at large?” Drago said. “Especially in a vehicle pursuit, is it worth risking everyone on the road to catch this guy?”

    In a pursuit on foot, the more reasonable option might be to call for backup, including perhaps with a police dog, so that other officers can set up a perimeter and trap the suspect, Drago said.

    In the South Carolina case, the former lawyer for the North Charleston officer, Michael Slager, said Monday that Slager felt threatened and had fired because Scott was trying to grab his stun gun — an older model that would have had to have been manually reloaded. But if the stun gun was on the ground at the time Scott fled, Drago said, then “there is no longer a threat. The threat is gone.”

    There’s also no indication on the video that after the physical encounter between the men, where the officer has said he believed Scott had tried to get ahold of his stun gun, that he shouts any instructions.

    Is there a role for federal involvement in the investigation?

    The FBI and the department’s Civil Rights Division are working together to examine the case. Though the officer faces a state murder charge in South Carolina, the federal government will be looking at the shooting for potential civil rights violations.

    That means federal agents and prosecutors will be looking to establish not only that Slager killed Scott, but that the officer willfully deprived Scott of his civil rights and used more force than the law allowed.

    The Justice Department often investigates police use of force, though not all investigations result in prosecution. In some cases, such as in the 1991 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, federal prosecutors have moved forward either with their own investigation or prosecution after the conclusion of a state case.

    Associated Press reporter Eric Tucker wrote this report.

    The post When can police use lethal force against a fleeing suspect? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Watch an excerpt of the PBS NewsHour’s interview with Secretary of State John Kerry on Iran holding up its end of the deal.

    Iran must disclose its past military-related nuclear activities as part of any final deal on its nuclear program, Secretary of State John Kerry told PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff on Wednesday. “It will be part of a final agreement. It has to be.”

    The International Atomic Energy Agency has been trying to secure the information as part of its review of Iran’s nuclear activities. Kerry’s comments came a week after a breakthrough in efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear program, which it has said is for civilian purposes only.

    Watch the full Kerry interview from Wednesday’s NewsHour:

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    Watch the portion of the PBS NewsHour’s interview with Secretary of State John Kerry on Congress’ role in the Iran nuclear deal.

    Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that Congress has a role moving the Iran nuclear framework agreement forward as long as it’s “constructive.” He spoke to PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff in an interview airing in full on Wednesday’s broadcast.

    “Should Congress play a role and have a role? Of course,” he said. “But it’s what kind of a role. … Is it part of a process of legitimate oversight and review or is it an effort to try to prevent the president from exercising his constitutional authority?”

    A bill currently making its way through Congress would temporarily suspend President Barack Obama’s ability to lift sanctions as part of a final agreement curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

    “The president is absolutely correct in making sure that what Congress does, does not assault presidential authority and the Constitution, and doesn’t destroy his ability to be able to negotiate this final deal,” said Kerry.

    Congress will get a chance to vote on lifting congressionally imposed sanctions, he added.

    Watch the full Kerry interview from Wednesday’s NewsHour:

    The post On nuke deal, Kerry says Congress shouldn’t interfere with Obama’s role appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Watch an excerpt of the PBS NewsHour’s interview with Secretary of State John Kerry on Iran’s actions in the region.

    A week after negotiating a deal on its nuclear program, Iran has sent naval ships to the Gulf of Aden, ratcheting up tensions with neighboring Yemen. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that the United States wouldn’t “stand by” while the region declines.

    “Iran needs to recognize that the United States is not going to stand by while the region is destabilized or while people engage in overt warfare across lines — international boundaries — in other countries,” Kerry told PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff in an interview that airs in full on Wednesday’s broadcast.

    “What we’ve made clear to our friends and allies is we can do two things at the same time. We have an ability to understand that an Iran with a nuclear weapon is a greater threat than an Iran without one. And at the same time we have an ability to be able to stand up to interference that is inappropriate or against international law, or contrary to the region’s stability and interest and those of our friends.”

    Iran’s ISNA news agency reported that the ships are meant to protect trading vessels from piracy.

    Watch the full Kerry interview from Wednesday’s NewsHour:

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    Photo by REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

    President Obama called two key senators on Wednesday to lobby against undermining diplomatic efforts with Iran. Photo by REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

    WASHINGTON — Democratic senators are intent on changing a bill that would give Congress a say in an emerging nuclear deal with Iran — tweaks that could make it more palatable to President Barack Obama, who called two key senators on Wednesday to lobby against undermining diplomatic efforts to end a standoff with Tehran.

    The president’s calls to Republican Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, were the latest consultations in the White House’s full-court press to convince Congress that an international framework agreement reached last week is the best way to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.

    “I am trying to bridge the differences here — not that I feel I’ll be able to get the president as a cheerleader to the bill but try to deal with some legitimate concerns,” Cardin said in an interview.

    Cardin, who spoke with the president for about 15 minutes, said he hopes an amended bill can carry out two purposes: provide Congress with an orderly way to review any final agreement reached with Iran and mandate periodic reports on compliance so Congress can take action if Iran violates a final deal — if it can be reached.

    Obama has threatened to veto the bill, which was introduced by Corker of Tennessee and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. Whether the measure could garner a two-thirds majority in the full Senate to override a presidential veto is not known, but it’s clear there is bipartisan support for finding a way for Congress to weigh in on any deal, regardless of whether the White House wants it to or not.

    “I would hope that if we get it done the way I’m hoping to get it done that the concerns that the president has raised” will be addressed, said Cardin, who is proposing more than a handful of amendments. “Now, the president may feel compelled because of separation of powers to veto it. I understand that.”

    White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama’s conversation with Corker was not an opportunity for the two men to negotiate the terms of legislation, but rather a chance for the president to speak directly to the chairman to “underscore his view about the opportunity that now exists.”

    “The mode that we’re in right now is helping members of Congress understand exactly what’s included in the commitments that Iran has made thus far,” Earnest said. “And our principle concern is to make sure that the U.S. officials who are responsible for negotiating the details of this agreement have the time and space that they need to complete this agreement by the end of June.”

    On Capitol Hill, the focus is on the committee, which is scheduled to vote on the bill Tuesday.

    As it’s written, the Corker-Menendez bill would require Obama to submit any final agreement reached with Iran to Congress within five days. It would require Obama to send a report that explains the extent to which the secretary of state will be able to verify that Iran is complying with the deal. The bill also would require the White House to certify that the agreement does not jeopardize U.S. national security, including preventing Iran from pursuing nuclear-related military activities.

    In implementing any final deal, Obama could lift sanctions imposed through presidential action, but the bill would prohibit him — for 60 days — from suspending, waiving or otherwise easing any sanctions that Congress imposed on Iran. During that 60-day period, Congress could hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on any final nuclear agreement with Iran.

    If Congress passed a joint resolution approving a final deal — or took no action — Obama could move ahead to ease sanctions levied by Congress. But if Congress passed a joint resolution disapproving it, Obama would be blocked from implementing any relief of congressional sanctions.

    After the 60-day congressional review period, the bill requires the president to assess Iran’s compliance with the agreement at three-month intervals. If the president cannot certify Iran’s compliance, or if he determines there has been a breach of the deal, the bill says Congress could quickly vote to restore sanctions that had been waived or suspended.

    There’s one provision of Corker-Menendez that has especially irked the White House. The bill calls on the Obama administration to certify that Iran has not directly supported or carried out an act of terrorism against the United States or an American anywhere in the world.

    The White House is opposed to hinging any deal to U.S. concerns about Iranian support of terrorist groups. Administration officials insist they are only negotiating an agreement to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. An amendment proposed by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., would strip that provision from the bill.

    Another Democratic member of the committee, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, has introduced her own Iran congressional oversight bill. It seeks to ensure that Congress has a central role in overseeing any nuclear deal with Iran, requires the Obama administration to report to Congress about Iran’s compliance and sets up an expedited process for Congress to reinstate sanctions if Tehran violates the deal.

    Boxer intends to file her bill as an amendment to the Corker bill, and might file additional amendments before Tuesday’s vote.

    The post Obama lobbies Congress on Iran; Dems seek changes to bill appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Wisconsin v Duke

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    GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight: A pair of coaching legends add to their Hall of Fame resumes.

    Jeffrey Brown looks at what sets them apart and how they have adapted to a new era.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Last night, it was the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team claiming their third title in a row, and 10th overall for their coach, Geno Auriemma. That matched him with the game’s most famous coach, John Wooden.

    On Monday night, Duke University won its fifth title for coach Mike Krzyzewski. In the men’s game, no other coach has won as many, other than, again, John Wooden.

    And we’re joined now by two who know the game well, Danielle Donehew, executive director of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and a former collegiate player herself, and John Feinstein, author of several books about college basketball and a columnist for The Washington Post. John joins us from Augusta, Georgia, for the Masters golf tournament.

    And let’s start with you, Danielle Donehew.

    Ten championships for coach Geno Auriemma. What has been his secret?

    DANIELLE DONEHEW, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association: I will tell you, Jeff, Geno constantly pursues perfection. And he’s a master at knowing how to motivate his players.

    I think Geno is one of the greatest masterminds, also, in terms of his offensive philosophies, defensive philosophies to really take advantage of the talents and the strengths of his players.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And has he had to change over time?

    DANIELLE DONEHEW: He has. He has.

    I think he’s modeled a lot of his basic principles, his core principles from the teachings of John Wooden. But he’s certainly evolved over time, with other recommendations from other friends and certainly his own concepts that he’s created throughout his coaching career.

    He is one of — he’s very consistent. He’s one of the best teachers of the game that I have seen. He is incredible to watch also in practices. When you see his teams play, it’s almost poetry in motion. They’re great passers, great passers.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, John Feinstein, Mike Krzyzewski certainly has had to adjust several times to a change in games, winning in several different eras, right?

    JOHN FEINSTEIN, The Washington Post: Absolutely, Jeff.

    He first coached at West Point in 1976. And a lot of who he is as a coach was shaped by being a cadet there playing for Bob Knight and by coaching there, because when you’re a plebe at West Point, there are three answer you’re allowed when addressing an upperclassman, yes, sir, no, sir, and no excuse, sir.

    And that’s what Krzyzewski has done when he’s failed. He has never blamed anybody but himself. And what happened in the last year is a perfect example. When they — Duke lost in the first round to Mercer last year, he didn’t blame anybody but himself. He went back, he reinvented himself as a coach. He learned how to text with his players.

    That sounds like a small thing, but in today’s era, it’s important. And this year, he even played zone, which is one of the things he hates most in life. But realizing that his young team couldn’t quite grasp his man-to-man defense early in the season, he incorporated zone into what they were doing and allowed them to learn slowly how to play the man-to-man defense that ultimately won them the national title.

    JEFFREY BROWN: John, you have watched the chronicled the evolution of coaching over a long time now. The pressures, the pressure cooker of being a coach at this level, what’s that like?

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: Well, when you are the target, the way Krzyzewski is every year, because he went to his first Final Four in 1986, you have to be able to adapt, as we said, to the game, and you have to understand that you are everybody’s biggest game.

    The three-point shot didn’t exist when Mike Krzyzewski went to his first Final Four. One-and-done didn’t exist until eight years ago. That has changed coaching tremendously, because you have to recruit and then re-recruit. He is going to have a whole new team next year, rather than those three freshman stars coming back for three more years.

    So he’s had to change the way he approaches recruiting, the way he approaches relationship with his players, and the way he approaches the notion that he is everybody’s target on and off the basketball court.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Danielle Donehew, is it the same, those same pressures on the women’s side?

    DANIELLE DONEHEW: I think they’re very complementary, yes.

    Geno constantly is seeing everyone’s best effort every time UConn steps on the floor. And I would just add these coaches in both men and women’s basketball, they also have to hone in on great business skills. They have got to be great coaches on the basketball court, but also great businesspeople.

    It’s a corporate — it’s like a corporation now. You have to be good at marketing and financial management. You have got to be able to recruit. You have got to be able to hire and fire your staff. These coaches are asked to do so many things, and they’re talented in all of these areas.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, I was wondering about that, because we have done a number of stories on this program, for good and ill, in this sports world now.

    John, I will start with you on this.

    These coaches can be more important on campus than the presidents. They can wield more power. They are the brand, in a sense, of their college.

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: Yes. And that’s why Mike Krzyzewski is by far the highest paid employee at Duke University. He makes $6 million a year. Why? Because he’s their chief fund-raiser.

    When the basketball team does well, people give more money to the school. He’s asked to take part in fund-raising activities. It’s a constant part of his job. And he’s under constant pressure because Duke doesn’t have a very good football program, even though it’s gotten a little bit better in the last few years. But Krzyzewski is the guy at Duke.

    Geno Auriemma at least has a very good men’s program that can help him out at UConn.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, Danielle Donehew, a last word from you on that?

    DANIELLE DONEHEW: I would agree with that.

    And Geno plays a very, very important role on campus and in the community and nationally in terms of elevating our game and being kind of the standard bearer for the women’s game right now. But he does a great deal of fund-raising for UConn and exposing their brand to all markets around the country.

    JEFFREY BROWN: They won three in a row. Will it continue?

    DANIELLE DONEHEW: That’s up to Geno. I look forward to watching.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Danielle Donehew and John Feinstein, thank you both very much.

    JOHN FEINSTEIN: Thanks, Jeff.

    DANIELLE DONEHEW: Thanks. Thanks, Jeff.

    The post Two legendary coaches add another NCAA victory to their legacies appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Public schools in 29 states are taking the same Common Core standardized tests for the first time this spring. Slammed by the political right as federal overreach, and by the left as too much testing, the roll out of Common Core has been bumpy, to say the least.

    Special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza visited one school in Washington, D.C., that has made great academic strides in recent years to see how they are handling a new, more challenging test.

    Her report is part of our American Graduate series.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: It’s pep rally day at Jefferson Middle School in Washington, D.C. There are prizes and gift certificates and lots of cheering, all meant to get children psyched about the high-stakes tests they’re about to take.

    Sixth grader Nazar Harper says it works.

    NAZAR HARPER: It makes me really pumped up and feel like I can do the test and I can really just ace it.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Principal Natalie Gordon and assistant principal Greg Dohmann do this every year.

    NATALIE GORDON, Principal, Jefferson Academy:
    I think testing can be a very anxiety-filled time for students. It’s an anxiety-filled time for staff members, for sure.

    GREGORY DOHMANN, Assistant Principal, Jefferson Academy:
    I think it’s really taking the stigma away from testing and not make it an event that they dread, but an event that we really build up and they actually look forward to.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: They say the strategy has worked. Just four years ago, Jefferson was struggling with low morale and equally low test scores.

    Then Principal Gordon took over. She hired new teachers, changed the curricula and implemented home visits. That resulted in enviable double-digit gains in both math and reading on the D.C.-CAS, the test the District used to measure whether students were on grade level.

    Now she’s hoping all that groundwork will help students conquer the new, more difficult tests based on the Common Core state standards.

    GREGORY DOHMANN: The PARCC is my opportunity too. Remember, I’m giving out gift cards for those people who are demonstrating that they’re ready to rock this test, to show not only D.C., not only this school, but the world how smart Jefferson Trojans are.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: The Common Core standards were created by states as an attempt to set unified high expectations about what students should know and be able to do at each grade level, to be prepared for college and work.

    The District of Columbia was an early adopter, but, until now, what students knew was measured by the locally developed test. This year, 29 states and D.C., approximately 12 million children, will take one of two tests, Smarter Balanced or PARCC.

    Sixth grader Nevaeh Edwards has high expectations for herself.

    NEVAEH EDWARDS, Student:
    I’m a little nervous because we’re probably going to be compared to the other states like Ohio and New York. But I’m really happy at the same time because we do have really, really smart children at Jefferson and we can show what we know to the rest of the country.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: There are other differences. This test is computerized and timed.

    NEVAEH EDWARDS: And with the D.C.-CAS, it was on paper and I could visually see everything, and it wasn’t timed.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Her classmate, Nazar Harper, agrees.

    NAZAR HARPER: I think doing the test on the computer is more difficult, because some people might not have a computer at home and they’re new to technology.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: The school got 60 additional computers this year, and staff has restructured classes, so that children have more opportunities to practice basic keyboarding skills.

    Math teacher Latisha Nero has been working with students all year on the tougher standards that focus on complex problem-solving.

    LATISHA NERO, Math Teacher, Jefferson Academy: I think we’re all worried about it, only because we do understand that it is a very, very big jump for our students, because it’s a completely different way of thinking.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: She says, in the past, students were asked a question that focused on just one skill. Not anymore.

    LATISHA NERO: So they may have to do a word problem where they’re using decimal computation to then go ahead and find the area of a different shape or figure. So, everything is more combined, and it’s really testing their understanding of the concept vs. just the skill.

    BRITTANI OGDEN, Testing Coordinator, Jefferson Academy:  Pardon the interruption. At this time, all seventh grade testing groups should begin testing.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: It’s test time.

    Testing coordinator Brittani Ogden spent the day making sure children could log in.

    BRITTANI OGDEN: When you are the testing coordinator, you do a lot of moving around the building. So, for instance, today, I have already taken 15,000 steps.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: While it went fairly smoothly, the first day was stressful. There were lots of computer glitches.

    BRITTANI OGDEN: Just being unfamiliar with how long it would take students to get into their testing locations, how long it would take us to read directions. And so everything got kind of pushed back. We had to alter our schedule, and I think just, overall, students and staff being nervous.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Nevaeh ran out of time.

    NEVAEH EDWARDS: I didn’t finish on time because I had one question unanswered. I felt bad because I was wondering how it was going to affect my score on the test.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA:
    Are you worried that, with this new rigorous PARCC test, that your test scores are going to go down?

    GREGORY DOHMANN: I think, to some degree, it’s a little unavoidable. Now, of course, we don’t want to like resign ourselves to saying our scores are going to be low. We know that next year, when they take the PARCC, we’re going to see significant growth, and every year after that, we’re going to see significant growth. So this year is really giving us a baseline. We want that baseline to be as high as possible.

    But it’s going to be what it’s going to be, and then we’re going to push on from there.

    NATALIE GORDON: Ditto.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: There are concerns among educators that testing takes away time from teaching. But Nero says it can serve a purpose.

    LATISHA NERO: So if we are giving students tests, we need to make sure that we are looking at the data, we’re analyzing that, we are identifying areas of weakness, areas of strength, and we’re using that to inform our instruction. If we’re just giving tests just to get one score and move on, then that’s more of a concern.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Principals Gordon and Dohmann say they’re on board with the PARCC test because, in some ways, it is leveling the playing field, making sure children from all different backgrounds have access to a high-quality education.

    NATALIE GORDON: I want my kids to know that they are as smart as the best kids in New York or California or wherever else they’re taking the PARCC. I want them to know that and. And, right now, there’s no way to know that they’re going to be able to compete when they go to Harvard or University of Pennsylvania or Dartmouth. Like, they — right now, we don’t have a way to prove that, so, if not the PARCC, something else.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA:
    And the students seem to have picked up on that attitude.

    REECE PAULING: If I did really good, I would feel really happy. But if I didn’t do so good, I would say, I still tried, so — and that’s like the important thing here.

    KAVITHA CARDOZA: Students at Jefferson Middle School Academy will take the second half of the test in May, and the results are expected late fall.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Kavitha Cardoza in Washington, D.C.

     

    The post How an underperforming school rallied to turn around test scores and conquer the Common Core appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Still image from video allegedly shows police officer shooting man in the back in North Charleston

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    GWEN IFILL: Joining me to talk about this story’s resonance in the wake of similar incidents around the country are Brian Hicks, a columnist for The Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston, Jessica Pierce, the national co-chair of the Black Youth Project, and Philip Stinson, a professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green University.

    Brian Hicks, there a history of racial tensions that we should know about, especially in North Charleston?

    BRIAN HICKS, The Post and Courier: Yes, this has been going on for years, Gwen.

    Several members of the community, the NAACP, they have claimed for well over a decade that North Charleston police use racial profiling and — to pick on black citizens. And what they do, their standard M.O., according to their critics, is to stop a black man on some minor traffic violation, and then harass him, use it to detain him to see if there’s an arrest warrant out for him, or to search him and his car.

    This has been a charge that’s been made. The police department has refuted this charge. And now Slager, with this action, has gone and proved exactly what the critics said has happened has been happening.

    GWEN IFILL: Philip Stinson, how unusual is it for officers in general to be charged with this sort of crime, with this sort of offense? We saw it happen very rapidly here.

    BRIAN HICKS: I’m sorry.

    PHILIP STINSON, Bowling Green State University: Well, there are a lot of police shootings, but it’s very rare that an officer is actually charged with an on-duty shooting.

    We see it about four times a year, in my research, where an officer is charged with an on-duty shooting, charged with murder or manslaughter. And, typically, in those cases, it’s very similar to this case, in that we have a completely unjustified shooting.

    Most of the time in the cases that we have studied, other officers have come forward that have witnessed the shooting and have said that the officer who shot someone wasn’t justified, that there was no imminent threat of deadly force or serious bodily injury. It simply wasn’t justified.

    Here, we have a little bit different situation. We’re starting to see this in a few cases where we have somebody with a smartphone who was able to take a video.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me ask you about that. You have been doing a lot of research on this topic. And I wonder whether you believe that the difference in this case is the smartphone, is the existence of video.

    PHILIP STINSON: Oh, absolutely. There is no question about that.

    I’m not so sure that we wouldn’t have the same result eventually, because forensic investigation would have found that the man was shot in the back seven or eight times. And it clearly — under the law in the United States, you can’t shoot somebody in this type of circumstance in the back if they’re fleeing.

    There’s two things that really trouble me about this case. One is that the officer’s first thought when the man that’s running away from him is not to run after him and tackle him, but to shoot him, as if it were on target practice, a very casual type thing. And the second thing is that his second thought was to immediately try to cover it up, to tell the dispatcher that the man had grabbed his Taser, as if he had the Taser when he was shot, and then to place the Taser next to Mr. Stone’s (sic) body, and it’s just — clearly, the officer’s intent was to cover it up.

    And that’s very troubling.

    GWEN IFILL: Jessica Pierce, the Black Youth Project has been speaking out about this, not only in New York, but Cleveland and Albuquerque, all around the country. And how different is the discussion now, since Ferguson, about these kind of issues?

    JESSICA PIERCE, Black Youth Project 100: The discussion for us really isn’t different, I would say, at this point in time.

    It’s a continued discussion. We still look at the fact that, every 28 hours, we know that a black person is going to be killed by police force in this country. So, you know, for us, it’s a day-to-day issue that we’re looking at in the same way.

    I think, for us, in this case, you know, we’re happy that an officer is being indicted, or I should say a former officer at this point. But, for us, when we talk about justice, justice is not indicting one officer. It’s not the conviction even of one officer. Justice, for us, is an indictment of the entire system at this point.

    And I think that that’s what we really need at this point, is not to look at this one individual case, but to look at the entire system and say, what type of changes do we need on a systemwide level?

    GWEN IFILL: Well, you heard Brian Hicks said, was that there had been complaints like this before, but obviously the video made the difference.

    Does that make you feel better, that video exists, that some citizens now feel empowered to videotape these kinds of incidents?

    JESSICA PIERCE: Yes. I think that’s one of the really great things that we have seen, especially on social media, is that people have been sharing the fact that it’s completely legal in all 50 states in this country, as a citizen, to take a video of an interaction with a police officer, as long as it doesn’t impede with them doing their jobs.

    And I think that, before, people might have been nervous or scared. And I do think it’s a helpful thing that people are feeling empowered to do it, that it is happening, and that, contrary to our belief, that, you know, body cameras are going to make the difference — even the mayor, when he came out yesterday, talked about he’s ordering more body cameras, because they have 115 body cameras, but 340 officers.

    But, for us, this wasn’t a body camera situation. Right? This wasn’t a body camera that captured what was happening. It was a civilian capture. So, I think, for us, it makes us feel a little bit better. But I think that feeling is temporary.

    GWEN IFILL: I want to talk to — get back to you on the body camera issue.

    But, Brian Hicks, I want to ask you about something you wrote today in your column. You said that officer Slager didn’t just wound Walter Scott, kill Walter Scott. He wounded the community. Tell me what you mean by that.

    BRIAN HICKS: Well, he set back community relations with the — between the neighborhoods and the police by years.

    He’s proven critics of the police department to be correct, at least in this instance, and he’s created an atmosphere of distrust that was already there. He’s basically fanned the flames. I think that most people would say that the city acted swiftly and decisively here when they saw the video.

    And I agree that I think the forensics were of such that the state law enforcement division probably would have cried foul in this case, but, still, the residents today at a rally, at a press conference, very upset, still upset with the city, because this is just — this just confirms a pattern that many people have seen for years.

    GWEN IFILL: Jessica Pierce just said that this is systemic, not individual failure. What do you think about that?

    BRIAN HICKS: I can’t speak for any other police departments. I know a lot of police officers in North Charleston. I think they’re, by and large, good people who are risking their lives doing rough jobs for a very modest pay for what they have to do.

    But when you have 343 people, you’re going to have people of different viewpoints and people who do things wrong. I’m not saying that any of the charges that have been leveled against the police department earlier weren’t true. Certainly, nothing like this has happened before with North Charleston.

    GWEN IFILL: Philip Stinson, I want to ask you about the body camera issue. We now see what people are doing with their smartphones. But, in your research, have you discovered whether body cameras are a beginning of a solution to this sort of activity?

    BRIAN HICKS: I believe they are.

    GWEN IFILL: I’m sorry. I’m talking to Philip Stinson. Go ahead.

    PHILIP STINSON: However, it is…

    GWEN IFILL: Go ahead.

    PHILIP STINSON: However, it’s just another tool that’s available for investigators to use.

    I think it’s important that not only we have body cameras, but that we do have citizen videographers, people who are using their smartphones to take — to take — to film these types of incidents, because it’s important to get this from different angles. You know, you see a different picture from the officer’s vantage point with a body-worn camera than you would from the smartphone.

    But I do think it’s important. I think body-worn cameras are important. I think they ought to be standard equipment for officers. We don’t even have best practices in place yet in terms of how body cameras ought to be used, when they should be turned on, when they should be turned off. And those things need to be fleshed out. And that’s something that’s happening now across the country.

    GWEN IFILL: Jessica Pierce, what about what’s not caught on tape?

    JESSICA PIERCE: I think that that’s the bigger question. Right?

    I think even when we look in this case, now we’re looking back into his history, right, as a police officer, and we found that there is one case where he was interviewing a suspect around a burglary, and that person said that they were Tased for absolutely no reason, and they said that they were beaten and then dragged on the floor, right?

    So I think that’s really the question, is, we don’t find out about some of these situations until it’s too late. And so I think that that’s why it is a systemic issue. It’s not just about these individual police officers, because I think we can humanize the story of anyone.

    And we all know stories of good and bad people in every single institution, I think. That’s why we have to indict the institutions and we have to say we need to pass the End Racial Profiling Act. We need to talk about publicly elected independent police review boards that have some level of hire-and-fire power as an accountability system.

    It’s not to say that we want to be completely — have all oversight at all times over police officers, but I think it’s more than just police officers’ responsibilities to keep our communities safe.

    GWEN IFILL: Jessica Pierce of the Black Youth Project, national coordinator, co-chair, Brian Hicks of the Charleston Post and Courier, columnist, and Professor Philip Stinson of Bowling Green State University, thank you all very much.

    JESSICA PIERCE: Thank you.

    BRIAN HICKS: Thanks.

     

    The post How a bystander’s video revealed the truth about a police shooting in South Carolina appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Muhiydin Moye D'Baha of the Black Lives Matter movement leads the protest at a rally in North Charleston

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Now the police shooting in South Carolina that made national headlines today.

    Americans everywhere watched video of a white officer killing a black suspect in the city of North Charleston.

    If you haven’t seen it yet, a warning: The images are disturbing.

    The chilling footage, from a bystander, captured Saturday’s fatal confrontation. Patrolman Michael Slager fired eight times as 50-year-old Walter Scott ran away. Slager later claimed Scott had grabbed for his Taser during a traffic stop. But after the shooting, the officer walked over and handcuffed Scott’s motionless form. Then he walked back to where he’d opened fire, picked up a black object, apparently the Taser, returned to where Scott lay, and dropped the object there.

    The initial police statement relied on Slager’s account. But once the video surfaced, he was charged with murder and fired from the force.

    Police Chief Eddie Driggers spoke at a briefing today.

    EDDIE DRIGGERS, North Charleston, South Carolina, Police Chief: I have watched the video. And I was sickened by what I saw. And I have not watched it since.

    GWEN IFILL: Scott’s mother also spoke on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

    JUDY SCOTT, Mother of Victim: When I looked at that tape, that was the most horrible thing I have ever seen. To see my son running defenselessly, being shot, it just tore my heart to pieces. And I pray that this never happens to another person. This has got to stop.

    MAN: This is what democracy looks like.

    GWEN IFILL: That same demand was echoed by protesters outside city hall.

    MAN: A police culture has existed for a long time in which an officer can feel comfortable, can feel comfortable shooting somebody eight times in the back.

    GWEN IFILL: Mayor Keith Summey struggled to be heard at today’s briefing, as protesters repeatedly demanded more answers. The mayor said he could not answer most of the questions because state investigators have taken over the case.

    The FBI and the Justice Department are also investigating for possible civil rights violations.

    The post Protesters demand answers after video shows police officer shooting S.C. man in the back appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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