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

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    Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (R) and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts take questions at a community meeting about new youth curfew legislation going into effect on August 8 at the University of Baltimore Law Center in Baltimore Tuesday July 29, 2014. Baltimore, faced with high crime rates, is set to impose one of the strictest U.S. curfews for young people, with the mayor facing residents on Tuesday to explain the new rules. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan   (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW) - RTR40KXR

    Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts in 2014. Photo by Reuters/James Lawler Duggan.

    Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake fired Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, a news release announced today.

    Though a specific reason was not provided for the firing, the move comes amid a spike in violence following the death of Freddie Gray, an unarmed man who died while in police custody, and the riots surrounding it.

    On Tuesday night’s PBS NewsHour, Rawlings-Blake spoke about the surge in violence in Baltimore:

    “We have seen an uptick in homicides and violence since the unrest that we had in the city. We have also seen an uptick in arrests, and we know that we’re not going to be able to arrest our way out of it.”

    May was Baltimore’s deadliest month in 40 years.


    Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Gary Slutkin of Cure Violence spoke with Gwen Ifill about the surge in violence across the country.

    The post Baltimore Mayor fires city’s police commissioner appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    NewsHour Bookshelf

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    GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight, the latest edition to our NewsHour Bookshelf.

    William Brangham talks to one prominent writer about his defense of television.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The way we get our various media, our news, music, movies, books, and TV, has undergone tremendous change in recent years.

    Along with those changes came a surge of new digital platforms, from Facebook and Twitter, to BuzzFeed, Netflix, to VICE, and Vox, to name just a few. These Web-based entities, we’re told, will only speed the decline of our dusty old media.

    But not so fast, says columnist and critic Michael Wolff. He has just written he calls a more honest guide to the changing media landscape around us. It’s called “Television Is the New Television: The Unexpected Triumph of Old Media in the Digital Age.”

    Michael Wolff, thanks for being here.

    MICHAEL WOLFF, Author, “Television Is the New Television: The Unexpected Triumph of Old Media in the Digital Age”: Thank you for having me.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Television is the new television. Explain. How is that true?

    MICHAEL WOLFF: What do you do all day? What are we doing now? What does everybody — I think I can fairly say, everybody watching now, how do they spend most of their — a good part of their day, certainly more time than they do on the Internet? They watch television.

    As a matter of fact, I think you can go further. What are the most seminal cultural moments in this day and age? It’s watching television, whether it’s “Mad Men,” or “Game of Thrones,” or whatever.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Or the Super Bowl.

    MICHAEL WOLFF: Television is this centerpiece of our lives.

    Now, the interesting thing is that we have been told for rather a long time now that that isn’t true, that it isn’t true and that it would be ever less true, that the Internet, social media, mobile applications, this was the future, this was media, this was transforming how we thought about media and how we thought about ourselves.

    I thought to myself, whoa, wait a minute, is this really true? And I think it turns out not to be true on an actual, practical basis. We watch television. But then, on the other side, it turns out not to be true — it’s not true on a business basis either.

    So we have grown all these digital media companies, and the dirty little secret is that they don’t work, they don’t make money, that they are — that they have actually created businesses that are bad businesses.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You write in your book — quote — “Not only has the Web not destroyed TV, but the source of new media’s strength, attracting ever more traffic, truly phenomenal traffic, may in fact become its greatest weakness.”

    How is that so? How is building a bigger audience a weakness?

    MICHAEL WOLFF: Well, the first thing, you have to look at the quality of the audience.

    So, BuzzFeed brags of an audience of 150 million people a month, millions bigger than the Super Bowl. But is that really true, since it doesn’t come remotely, not 1 percent remotely, close to having the earning power and the revenues of the Super Bowl audience? You have to say, what’s wrong with this picture?

    And, really, where you come out on this, I think, is saying, no, it’s not an audience. As a matter of fact, they don’t think even call it an audience. They call it traffic. And it is literally like traffic speeding by, and what BuzzFeed does is put up billboards, which you glimpse for a second, and then you’re past.

    And that’s basically what advertising is in digital media.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, in your mind, is TV a better business model or are they delivering something that is more valuable to us as consumers?

    MICHAEL WOLFF: Well, I think television has done this — actually, it isn’t as if television has stood still. Quite the opposite.

    It responded to the competition and did two things. It made a better product. Remember when television was the wasteland? I think you can now argue that digital media and social media, that’s the wasteland. And, also, television converted its business model. It used to be 100 percent advertising-supported, except for PBS.

    And now it is actually only 50 percent advertising-supported. The rest comes from fees — well, we all pay an enormous amount every month for television. Digital, on the other hand, because, really, its stated purpose was to eat television’s lunch, and it said, let’s make everything for free, and we will be fully advertising-supported, a decision that basically means that digital media is — will always be a marginal business.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Is there something in the digital media world that you look at and you think, this is actually a hopeful model for how the business could go?

    MICHAEL WOLFF: Well, curiously, Netflix.

    But what that means — and I think almost everybody in the digital world is now coming around to this thinking — is, let’s go into the television business, because Netflix, while it says it’s the disrupter of television, is television. That’s what we watch on Netflix.

    And, in fact, Netflix pays almost $2 billion a year to Hollywood and the television industry in licensing fees. But I think almost everybody, Google, Facebook — BuzzFeed recently made the announcement, Huffington Post recently made the announcement that they want to find a way into the television business.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, what does that tell you, that if television has created a model that all of these digital disrupters, as you call them, are now emulating, what does that say about what the audience, what we want?

    MICHAEL WOLFF: I think it says very clearly what we want is old-fashioned story. We want well-written, intelligent, structured, well-performed, well-produced content. And I think we want to sit there, and I think we want to enjoy it.

    WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The book is “Television Is the New Television: The Unexpected Triumph of Old Media in the Digital Age.”

    Michael Wolff, thank you very much for being here.

    MICHAEL WOLFF: Thank you.

    The post TV is dead? Author says there’s something wrong with that picture appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    brad sherman

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: From financial problems abroad to a big money debate in this country.

    Last week, the United States’ Export-Import Bank hit a political wall. Its authority to conduct new business expired, as Congress hotly debates whether it should exist. The bank is a multibillion-dollar government agency that helps foreign companies buy American goods.

    Here’s how that works. An American company wants to sell goods to a foreign corporation. The Export-Import Bank then gives the foreign company a loan or loan guarantee, and that company buys the goods from the American business. Ideally, the loan gets repaid, but there is a risk to taxpayers that the foreign company could default.

    Who exactly benefits? Well, last year, the bank financed nearly $30 billion worth of U.S. exports. The single largest winner? Boeing and the aircraft industry. Thousands of small businesses also gained with more than $10 billion in financing. But the 81-year-old bank faces an uncertain future.

    Some conservatives argue that it is a bloated government giveaway, while others insist it is a critical competitive tool for American business.

    Joining me now to discuss all this from Capitol Hill are two members of Congress, Democrat Brad Sherman of California, and we hope to be joined shortly by Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio.

    Congressman Sherman, thank you very much for joining us.

    Let me just begin with one of the main criticisms one hears from Republicans. And that is that the Export-Import Bank is all about corporate welfare, that something like $8 billion went, as we said last year, to Boeing and other big companies that really don’t need this kind of government help.

    REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), California: The money goes to those who are buying our products.

    By making these loans, we support tens of billions of dollars of exports and 164,000 jobs. Many of those jobs are with big employers. Others are with smaller employers, including all of Boeing’s suppliers, but also up to roughly 90 percent of the bank’s total transactions are with small businesses that are exporting.

    We need to support 164,000 jobs, and we can’t sacrifice them in the worship of Ayn Rand, the deity of libertarianism.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But the argument is still that it’s these big companies like Boeing that get the lion’s chair of the money.

    REP. BRAD SHERMAN: Well, Boeing doesn’t get the money. The money goes to the customers.

    And you’re trying to outcompete Airbus, for example. You’re trying to outcompete some of the best competition in the world, world-class competition. They have their finance authorities. Germany has triple the size that we do. France, Japan, China are all using the system to get their exporters the contract. If we don’t get the contract, we lose the 164,000 jobs.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me make another point that one hears from the critics, and that is that this Export-Import Bank is really helping just a small percent, a tiny percentage of the total exports the United States engages in, that it’s a drop in the bucket and, if the bank goes away, it’s not going to make much difference.

    REP. BRAD SHERMAN: Well, 164,000 jobs is just a drop in the bucket to the United States economy, but we can’t afford to give up one job.

    We certainly can’t afford to give up 164,000 jobs. And if we abolished everything we did in Washington that created fewer than 164,000 jobs, then we would lose 1 percent of our economy here, 1 percent of our economy there, and that’s — and, remember, just 1 or 2 percent unemployment rate is the difference between a healthy economy and an unhealthy economy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The other criticism we hear, and it’s related to what you just said, is that these jobs numbers are truly inflated, that they have been calculated, cooked up, so to speak, to make it look like the bank is making a big difference, when, in reality, it’s not the case.

    How can you — how do you — what do you say to the opponents, to the critics who say these are not real numbers?

    REP. BRAD SHERMAN: It’s clear that the exports being financed support 164,000 jobs.

    Now, you can guess how many of those contracts we would have gotten otherwise, but that’s like telling Ford to abandon its finance promotion and people will still buy the cars. The fact is Chevy and Toyota are offering pretty good cars as well. That’s why Ford has, from time to time, export — or, rather, finance promotion. That’s why the other auto companies do as well.

    And if you tell our companies we cannot have finance promotion, but the German companies will, the French companies will, the Chinese companies will, we’re going to lose jobs. And that’s why it’s important to these 164,000 jobs that we are reauthorize an agency that makes money for the federal government, almost $700 million last year, nearly $7 billion over the last couple of decades.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s exactly a point that one reads the critics making, and that is they’re saying that, in all, the government — the government doesn’t gain from this; it ends up paying, because of the money that ends up going to the companies that could make the money otherwise, and the taxpayers end up the ones who are held liable and American taxpayers lose out.

    REP. BRAD SHERMAN: The CBO is the score keeper around here.

    And we even have instant replay. We can look back over the last 20 years and see this bank has transferred almost $7 billion to the treasury. CBO says they made $700 million last year. And this is after taking into account their costs of operation and an allowance for bad debts.

    So this is a — the CBO tell us that if we abolish this agency the deficit has gone up by almost $1 billion. It’s making money.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just finally, what’s your forecast? Do you think this bank is going to survive or not?

    REP. BRAD SHERMAN: It needs to be resurrected at this point, and resurrections are difficult and rare.

    But I think that we will be successful. Overwhelming majorities in both the House and the Senate realize that this entity creates jobs and makes money, and that the opponents are simply clinging to this ideological, theological belief that these agencies shouldn’t exist.

    And they might be right in a world in which Germany, Japan and China didn’t have similar agencies. We have to compete, and that’s why we need this agency to help our exporters compete with those other exporters.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Representative Brad Sherman, we thank you.

    And, as we said, we had hoped to have Representative Jim Jordan join us. We hope to talk to him in the future.

    We thank you again.

    REP. BRAD SHERMAN: Thank you.

    The post Should Congress revive the Export-Import Bank? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A man watches a board showing the graphs of stock prices at a brokerage office in Beijing, China, July 6, 2015. Chinese stocks rose on Monday after Beijing unleashed an unprecedented series of support measures over the weekend to stave off the prospect of a full-blown crash that was threatening to destabilise the world's second-biggest economy.  REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon - RTX1J5JS

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    GWEN IFILL: And Margaret joins me now.

    So, Margaret, what is at the root of this — what seems like a sudden slide in the Chinese market?

    MARGARET WARNER: Gwen, it was really a classic bubble.

    Last year — the Chinese economic growth has actually been slowing. And the government started encouraging individual investors to get into this market and help capitalize these small entrepreneurial companies, not the big state-owned enterprises, but the ones that have trouble getting money from banks, sometimes with good reason.

    And so they did it by, for one thing, relaxing the restrictions that used to not allow you to borrow money to finance your stock purchases. So that’s the first thing. You now had all this margin lending.

    Well, then, if the market goes down, these investors have to pay back with real money, either what they have got in the stock market or in other assets. And, secondly, as that all developed, the most — the ones that were caught are these smaller investors, which, as we said in the setup, are 85 percent of the market.

    These are uneducated people. You can see it in the quotes that we had from people. And so they are what is known as momentum investors. They jumped in, in like April and May, when stocks were selling at 150 percent price-to-earnings ratio, even worse than before the Nasdaq bubble here in 2000 in the U.S.

    And so they are getting tremendously hit because they were not in for the run-up.

    GWEN IFILL: So, does that mean that the government has had to step in to arrest this, not so different from what we had to do in 2008?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, true, but here’s the difference.

    You saw some of the steps they took. They’re making brokerage firms buy stocks. They are making executives no longer sell stocks. They are putting government money into it. The difference is that, in the U.S., the U.S. bailed out big financial institutions that they thought posed a systemic risk to our whole system.

    GWEN IFILL: Too big to fail.

    MARGARET WARNER: Too big to fail, classic.

    They did not say our — but they said our test is restoring GDP growth and employment. They didn’t make the markets a test. So people didn’t sit there and watch television and go, oh, my God, we’re failing. So what are they doing in China is, they set up the markets as the test of their own economic management and of this whole theory of economic liberalization.

    And the danger is, of course, that the more they do and it doesn’t work overnight, then it encourages more panicked selling and that, in fact, it’s going to make people lose confidence in government’s economic management.

    GWEN IFILL: So, does this have political ramifications for President Xi?

    MARGARET WARNER: Of course. Of course.

    And that’s certainly clearly what the Chinese leadership is worried about. One, they had set this up as — really, the president is not supposed to be in charge of economic policy, but he has presented himself as this sort of all-powerful leader. And getting into economic liberalization was considered a vote of confidence in his system.

    OK, so they get more people in it. As somebody said to me last night, he owned the run-up, he owns the slide. Clearly, secondly, they’re worried about economic popular discontent. You could hear that from one of those people in our piece, that now that more Chinese-owned — now, it’s small compared to the U.S. In the U.S., 55 percent of the Americans are in the market in some way.

    In China, it’s only been 10 percent. But this past year, it’s, by some estimates, gone up to 17 percent. And these are poor people. So that is the threat that they’re worried about.

    And then third, of course, is that if people don’t feel confident, they’re not going to buy things. Well, this is a government that said, we’re going to change our economy from export-driven to consumer-driven. And…

    GWEN IFILL: But that’s what’s happening inside China.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: Is there a potential, briefly, for this to spread?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, as Jack Lew, the treasury secretary, said today, not in terms of investment exposure, because the Chinese have kept this market so insular. Only 5 percent of the investors are even foreign.

    But the danger is that it will slow economic growth, which will affect — because it’s the world’s second largest economy — will affect a lot of other export-driven economies and that it could have a sort of knock-on effect on the commitment of President Xi to continue with economic reforms.

    GWEN IFILL: Fascinating, Margaret. Thanks for keeping us up to date.

    MARGARET WARNER: My pleasure.

    The post Will China’s market crisis spur a confidence crisis for President Xi? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Passers-by walk in front of a panel displaying the closing Hang Seng Index and China Enterprise Index in Hong Kong, China July 8, 2015. Losses on the mainland weighed heavily on Hong Kong shares, with the Hang Seng Index down 3.3 percent and shares of Chinese companies listed in the city falling 4.2 percent. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu - RTX1JIFP

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    GWEN IFILL: The Chinese stock market has been in freefall over the past month, spurring worries that the contagion could spread beyond the massive nation’s economic and political borders.

    Margaret Warner has the story.

    MARGARET WARNER: Another brutal day ravaged China’s two main stock markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen, as a three-week plunge accelerated.

    Small investors, who make up 85 percent of China’s traders, have been hit hard, people like 67-year-old He Meizhen.

    HE MEIZHEN, China (through interpreter): When I look at the index, I feel nervous all over my body. I worry so much. The market opens with a plunge to its daily limit. How can we stand it?

    MARGARET WARNER: The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index lost another 6 percent of its value. It’s down more than 30 percent since mid-June, and by day’s end, nearly half of all stocks on the two exchanges had stopped trading, all of this despite a series of drastic moves by Beijing to rein in the selling.

    Financial analyst Michael Every in Hong Kong says, so far, nothing’s worked.

    MICHAEL EVERY, Head of Financial Markets Research Asia-Pacific, Rabobank: Will they suspend the entire market? Possibly. I don’t think anything can be ruled out if we keep seeing 8 percent falls day after day after day. One would hope not, because China was supposed to be moving towards greater reforms in the financial market area. And everything they are doing at the moment is backsliding from that.

    MARGARET WARNER: Those reforms toward greater liberalization have been pushed by President Xi Jinping. And for a time, the markets skyrocketed. From mid-June 2014 to mid-June 2015, the Chinese markets gained 150 percent.

    Even after recent losses, their value is still up 70 percent from a year ago. Chinese regulatory officials now complain of irrational selling driven by a panic sentiment. Others worry about what desperate investors might do.

    MAN (through interpreter): The people work hard to make money. They are not bosses. They work hard. Older people use their retirement payment, like us, selling things on the street to make some money. People might kill people or set fire to things. People might die.

    MARGARET WARNER: U.S. officials are also watching closely. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew counseled calm today.

    JACK LEW, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury: I will say that China’s markets are still pretty much separated from world markets. They’re obviously moving towards being more integrated, but right now they’re not. So you’re not going to, I don’t think, see the direct linkage there. I think the concern that is a real one is, what does it mean about long-term growth in China?

    MARGARET WARNER: Still, there is some spillover: Hong Kong’s main index dropped sharply today, as did Japan’s, South Korea’s and Australia’s.

    The post China’s stock markets plunge despite efforts to curb selling appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Mackinac Light House

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Concern continues to rise across the country about the nation’s aging infrastructure. That concern is particularly apparent when looking at older pipelines that carry crude oil and natural gas.

    One of those pipelines carries oil under some of the most pristine water in the country, the Great Lakes’ Straits of Mackinac in Michigan. Scientists say a spill in the straits would be an environmental and economic disaster.

    Elizabeth Brackett from public television station WTTW in Chicago reports.

    ELIZABETH BRACKETT, Special Correspondent: The air is crisp and the water is cool in the Northern Great Lakes, a body of water that contains 90 percent of the freshwater in the United States. And it’s the reason nearly a million tourists visit Mackinac Island every year.

    WOMAN: You’re back for another season? All right.

    ELIZABETH BRACKETT: But this year, islanders have more on their minds than tourists. Just north of the famed Mackinac Bridge, two aging pipelines carry 20 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas a day under the Straits of Mackinac.

    Longtime island resident and former biological sciences professor Lorna Straus worries about a possible pipeline break.

    LORNA STRAUS, Mackinac Island Resident: It would be a devastating thing. Oil is very hard to clean up, so I guess I’m worried that a leak would be an impossible — close to an impossible thing to solve.

    ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Pipeline number five is owned by Enbridge Energy. The Canadian company operates the largest crude oil and liquids pipeline system in the world.

    Line 5 is 645 miles long. It stretches from Wisconsin across Michigan’s upper and lower Peninsulas and terminates in Ontario, Canada. The 30-inch pipeline splits into two 20-inch lines when it crosses 4.5 miles under the lake.

    Lake Michigan and Lake Huron join here at the Straits of Mackinac. Because this area is far from any major urban center and because the shoreline is lined with forest and not agriculture, very little pollution gets into this water. That means these waters are some of the most pristine in all of the Great Lakes.

    Thirty million people depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water. And company spokesman Jason Manshum says that’s one of the reasons why Enbridge works so hard to keep Line 5 safe.

    JASON MANSHUM, Enbridge Energy: Line 5 has been in operation here in Michigan for more than 60 years, and it’s been operating safely and reliably at the straits. We have not had any incidents over that four-and-a-half-mile stretch.

    ELIZABETH BRACKETT: It’s those 62 years underwater that trouble retired Dow Chemical engineer Gary Street.

    GARY STREET, Former Chemical Engineer: My biggest concern is that the line is very, very old. It’s probably suffered the usual wear and tear that any older facility can suffer. I think there’s a real reason to be concerned that the line could fail at almost any time.

    JASON MANSHUM: Over the last decade, we have safely transported more than 13 billion gallons of crude oil throughout the U.S. and Canada. That’s a success rate of 99.9993 percent.

    ELIZABETH BRACKETT: But a National Wildlife Federation report found that Enbridge was responsible for more than 800 oil spills between 1999 and 2010.

    Aging pipelines are a national concern. Over 5,000 spills were reported to the federal government over the last 15 years, including this major spill in Michigan. In July of 2010, an Enbridge pipeline ruptured in the Kalamazoo River, dumping one million gallons of oil near Marshall, Michigan.

    Enbridge spent $1 billion and three years on cleanup, and the EPA says oil still remains in the Kalamazoo. Environmental activist Jim Lively says it was that spill that prompted concern about the safety of the Enbridge pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

    JIM LIVELY, Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities: Just weeks before that spill, they said very much the same thing, no concerns this pipeline is very safe. And then it leaked for 17 hours over a million gallons into the Kalamazoo River. The largest inland oil spill in America happened right here in Michigan.

    JASON MANSHUM: What the incident did in the Kalamazoo River, ultimately, is it’s made us a far safer company. We have gone through pretty radical wholesale changes across the board on things like advanced leak detection, pipeline integrity, training of our personnel.

    ELIZABETH BRACKETT: The pipeline in the straits is now monitored with computerized systems that operate both inside and outside the pipeline. The findings are analyzed in Enbridge’s control room that operates 24/7 in Edmonton, Canada.

    In addition, Manshum says, dive teams physically inspect the pipeline every other year.

    JASON MANSHUM: But it hasn’t aged in the bottom of the water. The coating is in fantastic shape and the steel has not deteriorated. It looks just like it did in 1953.

    ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Though there is one difference, says engineer Gary Street: The pipeline is now covered with invasive mussels, which didn’t enter the Great Lakes until the 1980s.

    GARY STREET: Zebra mussels create three problems. They create extra weight on the pipeline, weight that was never allowed for in the design of the pipeline. They mask any problems from the outside that could be observed by a diver or by a remote camera. And the third thing is that the zebra mussels excrete a very acid material. If that acid material were to get behind the protective coating, it will cause corrosion, and the line will fail prematurely.

    ELIZABETH BRACKETT: What nearly everyone up here agrees on, even Enbridge, is that an oil spill in these pristine waters would have a major impact.

    Ecologist Knute Nadelhoffer of the University of Michigan’s Biological Field Station says the environmental impact of a spill could take years to overcome.

    KNUTE NADELHOFFER, University of Michigan: This is a fairly simple food chain. We have a limited number of algae in the water, limited number of species, aquatic plants on the shorelines, compared to more diverse ocean systems. Chemicals will propagate through this system faster. They are likely to change the system in ways that affect it for decades or centuries.

    ELIZABETH BRACKETT: As the mayor of Mackinac Island gets ready to open her hotel for the season it’s not the next decade or century she’s thinking about. It’s the impact of an oil spill right now.

    MAYOR MARGARET DOUD, Mackinac Island: Mackinac is the gem of Michigan as far as a tourist destination. It would be just catastrophic if something happened in the straits area.

    ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Enbridge insists a pipeline failure in the straits would be detected almost immediately.

    JASON MANSHUM: We have isolation valves on each side of the straits to isolate that particular section. And those valves will be completely closed within three minutes.

    GARY STREET: You shut the line at Mackinac City, you shut it off at St. Ignace, you still have 325,000 gallons in each of those lines that could spill, that can and will spill into the straits.

    ELIZABETH BRACKETT: That’s why activists say the only sure way to avoid a possible environmental and economic disaster is to shut the pipeline down.

    JIM LIVELY: I believe that Enbridge is trying hard to make sure that they could minimize a spill. Of course they’re trying hard to do that. But do I trust them? No. Should we trust them? Of course not, not with this, not with the Great Lakes.

    ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Shutting down the pipeline is one of the options being considered by a pipeline task force chaired by Michigan’s attorney general. The commission will also look at the economic impact of shutting down the four-and-a-half-mile stretch under the Straits of Mackinac.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Elizabeth Brackett in Chicago.

    The post Are Michigan’s pristine lakes at risk from aging pipelines? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    p2 - Encryption

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    GWEN IFILL: Earlier in the day, the Obama administration went to Capitol Hill to make its case to allow government great access to encrypted information. Essentially, the government wants to be able to read certain data that intelligence agencies cannot get now because it’s been protected with special codes. That’s at the heart of an ongoing battle with tech companies.

    JAMES COMEY, FBI Director: Encryption is a great thing. It keeps us all safe. It protects innovation.

    GWEN IFILL: But, FBI Director James Comey warned at Senate hearings today, it’s also a double-edged sword. That’s because the technologies that seal off smartphones from surveillance also impede efforts to track criminals and terrorists.

    JAMES COMEY: We are moving inexorably to a place where all of our lives, all of our papers and effects, all of our communications will be covered by universal strong encryption. And that is a world that in some ways is wonderful and in some ways has serious public safety ramifications.

    GWEN IFILL: Google, Apple and other tech firms have ramped up data encryption in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations of sweeping government surveillance. They’re also responding to stepped-up hacking coming from Russia and China.

    But, at the same time, Islamic State followers and other militants are now using encrypted communications to recruit at a rapid pace. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates underscored that point today.

    SALLY YATES, Deputy Attorney General: ISIL currently communicates on Twitter, sending communications to thousands of would-be followers right here in our country. When someone responds and the conversations begin, they are then directed to encrypted platforms for further communication.

    And even with a court order, we can’t see those communications. This is a serious threat. And our inability to access these communications with valid court orders is a real national security problem.

    GWEN IFILL: And the FBI’s Comey suggested it’s just a matter of time before that leads to a terror attack.

    JAMES COMEY: We are stopping these things so far through tremendous hard work, the use of sources, the use of online undercovers, but it is incredibly difficult. I cannot see me stopping these indefinitely.

    GWEN IFILL: In a new report, 14 of the world’s top cryptographers and computer scientists argue that giving the government access will compromise commercial and consumer secrets.

    PETER SWIRE, Georgia Institute of Technology: We’re in a golden age of surveillance, not darkness.

    GWEN IFILL: Others focused today on privacy concerns. Peter Swire, with the Georgia Institute of Technology, said the government already has plenty of ways to track people.

    PETER SWIRE: For the first time in human history, most of us carry tracking devices called cell phones. And when you add in video surveillance and the upcoming Internet of things, evidence about a suspect’s whereabouts at a time and date is far, far more often available then ever before.

    GWEN IFILL: Ultimately, federal officials said, they hope to work with tech firms to strike a balance between privacy interests and public safety.

    But where is that proper balance?

    For insight into that debate, we turn to Stewart Baker, who was assistant secretary of homeland security during the George W. Bush administration and general counsel at the National Security Agency during 1990s. And Susan Landau, she is one of the authors of the report objecting to increased government access. She’s a professor of cyber-security policy at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

    Stewart Baker, we have heard James Comey say many things. Among them, he wrote that he — there’s no doubt that bad people can communicate and that he essentially can’t stop them with impunity. Tell me how that works.

    STEWART BAKER, Former Homeland Security Department Official: So it is possible now to write codes that no one can break and to use those codes to communicate — to store everything on your phone in an encrypted fashion or to communicate with co-conspirators in a fashion, really for the first time since we have had modern communications, that no government can get into.

    And so government intel loses, slowly, the ability to understand what people are saying to each other on modern communications. Hasn’t happened yet, but it clearly is getting ready to happen as encryption becomes ubiquitous.

    GWEN IFILL: Susan Landau, what’s the danger in having the government have another tool in which they can use to protect us?

    SUSAN LANDAU, Worcester Polytechnic Institute: So it’s not a question of having another tool.

    The real issue is whether or not we should have what they call exceptional access, access to encrypted communications. And exceptional access described in the abstract sounds good, but you have to actually think about it in particulars.

    For example, one technology that’s been introduced is called forward secrecy. Forward secrecy is the idea that you have a key — that you use an ephemeral key to encrypt your communications, so if at any point your key is stolen, all past communications are secure.

    So, if Sony had become aware, for example, when its keys were stolen, when its data was stolen, all — it could have changed keys and no new communications could have been intercepted, but even more importantly, all the old communications would have been safe against the people who hacked Sony.

    SUSAN LANDAU: So, that’s the issue. The issue is…

    GWEN IFILL: Go ahead.

    SUSAN LANDAU: The issue is that the government is saying exceptional access, without explaining how they want this done, and all security matters in the details.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let’s talk about that. The government is asking basically for these companies to share their keys, to allow backdoor access to our information for national security purposes. What are the limits of that?

    STEWART BAKER: So, I think one of the things clear is the government isn’t trying to say this is exactly how we want you to do it, because I’m sure that Susan Landau would be saying, well, that won’t work and we have got these objections to being told how to do it.

    The government is saying, here’s a problem, we think it needs to be solved, there may be multiple ways to solve it. And, indeed, there are. It is possible, for example, for the companies that make this encryption to keep keys or to store the data encrypted with their own keys, as well as with the users’ keys.

    This is really what the companies were doing until recently.

    GWEN IFILL: Susan Landau, you wrote somewhere that you consider this magical thinking. Explain why.

    SUSAN LANDAU: Right.

    So, when Stu mentions the idea of keeping the data securely at the companies, we have numerous examples. For example, the Google database of surveillance targets was hacked presumably by Chinese hackers, and what it did was a great counterintelligence operation that exposed which agents were under U.S. government surveillance.

    What we have seen over and over again is that, with a determined opponent, the data is not secure. The only way it’s secure is if there’s end-to-end encryption. I completely agree with Director Comey that it makes the FBI’s and law enforcement’s job more difficult, but the question is balancing different types of security against each other.

    And Stu is correct that I want specific suggestions, because the idea that we could come up with some magic solution that solves the problem isn’t correct. You need specific solutions. You need to analyze them carefully to see where the security vulnerabilities are, so that you don’t introduce more problems.

    GWEN IFILL: Stewart Baker, what is the government asking for that’s different than what they already have?

    STEWART BAKER: What they want to do is make sure that, as this encryption becomes ubiquitous, that it doesn’t leave them completely helpless even when they have a court order.

    And they’re asking companies to take that concern seriously and not simply say, that’s not our problem, that’s your problem, we’re putting end-to-end strong encryption out there, and if terrorists use it or pedophiles use it, that’s your problem, too. It’s not our problem.

    And what Jim Comey is saying is, no, that’s a social problem, and, yes, there are security risks in building in some capability for the government to get access to that, but there are security risks of a very different sort if we don’t have access to those communications.

    GWEN IFILL: And, Susan Landau, is there middle ground here? Is there something that you can imagine the tech companies could concede that would allow the government to get a greater access, but not maybe the blanket access they may desire?

    SUSAN LANDAU: There is no easy way to enable easy access to everybody’s communications and data at rest, unless you have the keys stored in an insecure way, unless you have the systems done in an insecure way.

    That’s why our tech report was very clear, tell us the proposal, don’t say you can do it, but tell us the proposal and we can look at it and analyze it. There is also an issue that hasn’t yet been brought up, which is that, what happens when you have a multinational firm and communications between the U.S. and the U.K. or between the U.S. and France or between the U.S. and China?

    Do both countries have access? How do you manage that? What happens when a U.S. person travels overseas? If we’re going to demand this sort of thing, then, of course, other nations will, and then U.S. communications will be quite insecure.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, it sounds like you’re right. There is no easy answer, and not a difficult one either.

    Susan Landau of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Stewart Baker of Steptoe & Johnson, thank you very much.

    STEWART BAKER: It’s a pleasure.

    SUSAN LANDAU: Thank you.

    The post Can the government get special encryption access while preserving privacy? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    People look at the United Airlines timetable in Newark International Airport, New Jersey July 8, 2015. United Airlines resumed flights at all U.S. airports on Wednesday after they were grounded due to computer issues, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.  The FAA issued the order to prevent all United Airlines flights from taking off following a systemwide computer glitch, which was resolved, the agency said. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz - RTX1JKUJ

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    GWEN IFILL: Worries over the vulnerability of our technology and computer networks dominated the day for travelers and for Wall Street.

    Even before what turned into a series of cascading computer failures, hacking intelligence and security — national security were already the focus of a day of hearings on Capitol Hill.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The nation’s biggest airline, biggest stock exchange, and most prominent business newspaper suffered long service interruptions.

    First, an Internet router issue at United Airlines suspended all its flights for nearly two hours. The problem led to 800 flight delays and 60 cancellations. Then, shortly before noon, what was labeled a technical problem halted trading at the New York Stock Exchange. It lasted almost four hours, the longest suspension of trading on that exchange in several years.

    Finally, the web site of The Wall Street Journal suffered technical difficulties that sent readers to a temporary site.

    We explore disruptions and vulnerabilities now with Michael Regan of Bloomberg News, and Kevin Mandia, who is the president of FireEye. That’s a company that specializes in dealing with cyber-security and network protection.

    And we welcome you both to the program.

    Michael Regan, to you first. Let’s start with the New York Stock Exchange, closed down for over three hours. How big a disruption was this and what’s known about what caused it?

    MICHAEL REGAN, Bloomberg News: Well, the problems at the New York Stock Exchange actually started even before the market opened, when traders send pre-market orders to the exchange, and it was clear that the communication between brokerages and the exchange wasn’t working properly.

    A lot of customers were not getting the confirmations that their orders had been received. That obviously can cause a lot of problems. It could possibly cause traders to resend orders and have duplicate orders in the system.

    And, at first, it looked like it was just a routine glitch that exchanges deal with all the time. However, by 11:30, as you said, the exchange made the decision to shut down trading on that exchange. Now, it’s important to point out that there are 11 official stock exchanges in the U.S. right now and in the neighborhood of 50 alternative venues where trades can be matched.

    So the market was able to function pretty much as normal. They simply routed orders away from the New York Stock Exchange to the other exchanges out there. That said, it certainly is the type of thing that can affect investor confidence, especially after a long series of glitches on electronic exchanges that we have seen over the last five years or so.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what about the other two institutions we mentioned, of course, United Airlines, where flights were delayed, were canceled, and The Wall Street Journal?

    MICHAEL REGAN: So, United had an issue with a computer router, which is the device that connects various networks, and it caused them not to be able to issue tickets to passengers and not be able to dispatch staff properly, so it shut down flights for about two hours.

    At the same time, about 20 minutes or so after the New York Stock Exchange went down, The Wall Street Journal home page, as you said, started having issues and was unavailable. So there was a lot of sort of speculation flowing through the markets that all three incidents were related and that there was some sort of targeted attack on the U.S.

    Those concerns were dismissed pretty quickly. You know, the officials from the companies said that they were not related. Homeland Security said it didn’t appear like cyber-attacks were the issue. So, at the moment, it looks like it was just three separate computer issues at three separate companies. It is possible The Wall Street Journal got a lot of heavy traffic after the New York Stock Exchange shut down, when people went to look up the news about what was going on.

    So, although they haven’t said that, that certainly sounds like a plausible explanation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Kevin Mandia, what would you add to that in terms of what is known about the cause and whether there was the possibility of some cyber-attack?

    KEVIN MANDIA, President, FireEye: Well, any time you have — your network goes dark, you have a hardware or a software problem or a security problem. So, it’s one of the three or a combination of them.

    But right now everything I’m hearing, it’s a software glitch or a hardware problem. And no one’s talking about a security issue here. What we can take from this, though, is the day there are attacks and there are security issues, it’s always good to have a second way to do business, go back to the old-fashioned way of doing things, whether it’s a hardware, software or security issue.

    So, we probably got a good drill today.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Kevin Mandia, staying with you, what does this tell us, if anything, about the vulnerability of these big systems? And I realize they’re all very different operations. Because we know the technology is getting bigger, it’s getting more complex, what does it say about their ability to handle that?

    KEVIN MANDIA: Well, we rely on these things, but I think we’re doing pretty good. It’s hard to be in the airlines and go dark and have nobody notice, or to be a news outlet like The Wall Street Journal and go dark and have nobody notice, or be a stock exchange and not have availability and nobody notice.

    You’re talking three of the most prominent businesses or industries you can be in. There’s nowhere to hide when you have an issue like this, but these issues don’t come up every day and I anticipate we will probably go multiple years before we see something like this happen again.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Michael Regan, as somebody who has covered the exchanges and covers Wall Street, how vulnerable do these institutions think they are to this sort of thing? Do they feel they are prepared for what may come?

    MICHAEL REGAN: The U.S. stock market has become this massive, complex computer system spread out over, like I said, so many different exchanges.

    These type of glitches do happen from time to time, but this one made headlines because it’s the New York Stock Exchange. It’s an icon. But, again, what happens today sort of shows how it’s good that the system is spread out over this many exchanges, that when one goes down, the others are able to take up the slack and take over the business for them temporarily.

    And you know, in that respect, it was a success today that the system operated that way. That said, there are a lot of people that believe, a lot of critics of the industry that believe it has gotten way too complex, that we don’t need 11 stock exchanges and the other venues, that maybe four or five would be enough, and this is certainly going to reignite the debate about whether or not the market has become too complex.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, pick that up, Kevin Mandia. Whether it’s the stock exchange or the airlines or another big institution, how prepared are they for the kind of incredibly more complicated technological world that we know we’re heading into?

    KEVIN MANDIA: Well, everybody is trying to get more prepared. That’s what we’re all doing.

    If you look over the last 15 years in cyber-security, there has been more and more attacks. The watermark of security is going up in our nation because everybody is more aware with all the headlines that you read almost on a daily basis about another attack or another threat.

    We don’t have good rules in cyberspace right now. We have countries hacking other countries. We have criminals trying to hack on a daily basis. So everyone is getting more prepared for that, because right now, if you’re hacked, whether you’re hacked by a 15-year-old kid or hacked by a military garnering intelligence from your organization, the liabilities are the same, so everybody is really raising their awareness.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Kevin Mandia, Michael Regan, we thank you both.

    MICHAEL REGAN: Thank you.

    KEVIN MANDIA: Thank you.

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    newswrapimage

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Wall Street battled bad news all day and ended with sizable losses. The market was hit by shockwaves from a Chinese sell-off and a computer glitch that stopped trading for hours. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 260 points to close back near 17500. The Nasdaq fell nearly 90 points and the S&P 500 fell 35.

    GWEN IFILL: Microsoft announced today it’s cutting another 7,800 jobs, or about 6 percent of its global work force. The cuts affect the company’s struggling phone business. Microsoft already cut 18,000 jobs in that sector as part of a major restructuring.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Greece made a new financial bailout proposal today, in the face of a new deadline and a possible Grexit, a Greek exit from the Eurozone, the European Monetary Union.

    It came as Greece’s prime minister addressed the European parliament in Strasbourg, France.

    Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News reports.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN: He arrived to mix of cheers and scattered boos, his country in crisis, but Alexis Tsipras seemingly not so. Greece, he said, had been turned into an austerity lab, but the experiment had failed, though he promised to provide detailed reform proposals in next few days.

    PRIME MINISTER ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Greece (through interpreter): We are asking for productive and fair compromise. I believe, together, we can rise to this historical challenge.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN: His fellow Greeks with their “No” signs loved it. But their leader’s defiance was a little muted, because today Greece formally requested another three-year aid package in exchange for promises, which Europe’s stony-faced leaders are no longer inclined to believe.

    GUY VERHOFSTADT, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe: You are talking about reforms, but we never see concrete proposals of reforms. I’m angry because, we are in fact sleepwalking towards a Grexit.

    JONATHAN RUGMAN: Alexis Tsipras still believes that he can strike a deal to keep Greece inside the Eurozone. But his European partners are far from sure. And this remains a battle of wills and a war of nerves.

    In Brussels last night, Greece was given what sounded like an ultimatum. Europe will keep Greek banks afloat until Sunday, but only beyond that if serious talks have begun. At a midnight press conference, a weary German chancellor appeared to rule out any more debt cancellation, extending debt repayments perhaps Germany’s only acceptable definition of compromise.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Greek business leaders warn that, if there’s no deal, the country will see an explosion of unemployment and virtual economic collapse.

    GWEN IFILL: The exiled government of Yemen announced today it will accept a truce with Shiite Houthi rebels, who control much of the country. As part of the deal, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi called for a rebel pullout from southern and eastern provinces. The Houthis had no immediate response.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, a Baghdad court sentenced 24 Islamic State militants to death for the massacre of 1,700 Iraqi soldiers. The troops were killed last year near Tikrit, when ISIS overran the city. Government troops have since retaken Tikrit. Another 600 militants accused in the massacre are still at large.

    GWEN IFILL: Back in this country, the mayor of Baltimore fired Police Commissioner Anthony Batts amid escalating violence. Arrests have plunged and killings have surged since April’s riots over the death of Freddie Gray in police custody.

    Today, with interim Commissioner Kevin Davis looking on, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced it’s time for a change.

    MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), Baltimore: We cannot continue to have the level of violence that we have seen, particularly over — in recent weeks in our city. And I remain committed to work every single day to make Baltimore a safer city. We have made progress, and I don’t want to lose any of that progress.

    GWEN IFILL: Just yesterday, the police department announced an outside review of its response to April’s unrest.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: New York City will stop demanding cash bail for suspects in low-level or nonviolent crimes. Today’s reform addresses complaints that too many poor people wind up in the troubled Rikers Island complex because they can’t afford bail. Under the new policy, judges have the authority to order supervision options, including daily check-ins.

    GWEN IFILL: And a federal judge today ordered that the Washington Redskins’ trademark be canceled. He ruled the team’s name is offensive to Native Americans. The ruling allows Washington to keep the name, but makes it harder to sue for trademark infringement. The team says it will appeal.

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    Large Blue butterflies (Maculinea arion; pictured) lay siege to ant colonies by using oregano as a beacon to find their prey.  Photo by David Simcox

    Large Blue butterflies (Maculinea arion; pictured) lay siege to ant colonies by using oregano as a beacon to find their prey. Photo by David Simcox.

    The Large Blue butterfly is a warrior. With its azure wings, the butterfly appears fragile in the European breeze, but in truth, it is a bombardier in search of a target — nests of Myrmica ants buried under oregano or thyme plants. The butterfly’s mission, scientists have found, is part of a delicate dance that restores balance to the ecosystem it inhabits. The ants destroy the oregano’s roots. The butterfly destroys the ants and saves the oregano.

    “But many oregano plants grow in spots where Myrmica ants are absent, and to lay eggs on these would condemn the butterfly’s offspring to death,” said University of Oxford ecologist Jeremy Thomas, leaving scientists to wonder how the butterflies find their preferred victims among the thousands of ant species that might live underground near oregano.

    In a new study, Thomas and an international collaboration of biologists outline an answer: The oregano plant uses chemical warfare.

    The researchers found that when ants invade oregano’s territory, the plant makes a chemical agent that first tries to directly kill the ants, but then attracts pregnant Large Blue butterflies and their ant-gobbling larvae as reinforcements. The findings were published July 7 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

    Ant-loving butterflies, known as myrmecophiles, are common. Of the 17,500 butterfly species on the planet, nearly a quarter boast larvae that interact with ants. But experts say the complexity of this newly discovered battle consisting of moves and countermoves is beautiful, unique and a first-of-its-kind discovery.

    science-wednesday

    Of the known myrmecophiles, I’m not aware of another relationship that involves three species at once or middlemen to find prey, said ecologist Karsten Schönrogge of Center for Ecology & Hydrology in England, who wasn’t involved in the study.

    Large Blue butterflies are considered “social parasites” because they take advantage of a social organism, in this case ants. After a Large Blue butterfly lays an egg, the resulting caterpillar produces a scent to trick the Myrmica ants into thinking it’s an ant too, at which point, the Myrmicas unknowingly carry their doom into the nest.

    “The parasitic butterfly larvae live in the ant nest for at least 11 months, during which time they eat ant grubs and gain more than 90 percent of their biomass,” said entomologist and ecologist Francesca Barbero of the University of Turin, who co-authored the study. In the end, the caterpillar’s feast annihilates the nest.

    In 2009, Barbero and her colleagues showed that these caterpillars take this manipulation to the extreme by producing sounds that mimic the ant queen. By elevating their social status to the highest in the ant colony, the caterpillars are left in peace to eat.

    “There is a beauty in the complexity that makes these communities work,” Schönrogge says.

    A pregnant Large Blue butterfly deposits an egg on an oregano flower (Origanum vulgare). Photo by David Simcox

    A pregnant Large Blue butterfly deposits an egg on an oregano flower (Origanum vulgare). Photo by David Simcox.

    However, scientists had never observed any direct contact between adult Large Blues and Myrmica ants. The pregnant butterflies don’t spot the nests from above, since the flyers lay their eggs during a time of day when the ants are underground. Plus the Myrmica ants rarely climb the stems of oregano plants or leave a chemical trail that lasts long enough to be sniffed by the butterflies.

    However when under duress by pests, such as when ants destroy their roots, plants are known to produce chemicals to ward off invaders. So for this study, Barbero and her colleagues grew oregano in enclosed terrariums with Myrmica ants, and then collected the chemical scents emitted by the plant.

    The researchers found that the plants made twice as much of a chemical agent called carvacrol versus normal plants grown without Myrmica ants.

    Carvacrol is a known bug killer, but in a surprising twist, the researchers found that Myrmica ants switch on a set of genes that neutralize oregano’s chemical weapon. Meanwhile, other types of ants lack this defense and succumb to carvacrol, the team found.

    Carvacrol is responsible for oregano’s warm odor, and the researchers wondered if it might serve as a pungent attractant for pregnant Large Blue butterflies. They created a Y-shaped platform that paired carvacrol on one arm against unscented air on the other. The gravid butterflies picked carvacrol eight times as often. The same pattern applied when carvacrol was replaced by an oregano plant that had its roots destroy by Myrmica ants. But in contrast, the smell of a regular plant as well as the scent of Myrmica ants on their own had no influence on the butterflies.

    This is the first demonstration of a plant using chemical scents to attract a social parasite as part of an indirect defense strategy, said Barbero.

    In a battle of three armies, Large Blue butterflies (1) are lured to oregano plants where the insect flyers lay their eggs (2). After two weeks, the consequent caterpillars crawl to the bottom of the plant where they exude a scent that tricks Myrmica ants into carrying the butterfly larvae into the underground colony. The caterpillars spend the next 11 months feeding on the ant grubs (4,5) and gaining 98 percent of their body mass, before ultimately killing the colony and escaping.

    In a battle of three armies, Large Blue butterflies (1) are lured to oregano plants where the insect flyers lay their eggs (2). After two weeks, the consequent caterpillars crawl to the bottom of the plant where they exude a scent that tricks Myrmica ants into carrying the butterfly larvae into the underground colony. The caterpillars spend the next 11 months feeding on the ant grubs (4,5) and gaining 98 percent of their body mass, before ultimately killing the colony and escaping. Photo by Patricelli D et al. Proc. R. Soc. B. 2015.

    If we could hop into a time machine to the early days of Large Blue butterflies and Myrmica ants, we would see that they were once friends rather than enemies, Thomas said. Much like aphids, the caterpillars and ants had a mutualistic relationship where the caterpillar fed entirely on plants but secreted sugars and amino acids that were consumed by ants.

    “The ants gained abundant food and in return tended to and protected the caterpillar from enemies,” Thomas said, but then the caterpillars shifted to the dark side and began capitalizing on the ants kindness.

    Thomas said, “This lifestyle is believed to have evolved at least 14 times independently among lycaenids,” which is the family of butterflies that contains Large Blues. “All are convincingly shown to have evolved from mutualistic ancestors, which is by far the most common relationship with ants,” he said.

    Large Blue caterpillars only gain 1 to 2 percent of their body weight by nibbling on the oregano leaves during the early stages of life. The overwhelming majority of their sustenance — 98 to 99 percent — comes from eating ants. But if butterfly larvae tried to trick the wrong patsies — non-Myrmica ants — they’d likely get eaten. Guessing right is a matter of life and death, and especially important given the Large Blue Butterfly has relatively few eggs and is endangered.

    From an evolutionary perspective, Thomas and Barbero say that the Large Blue butterflies gained an advantage by using scents to glean which oregano plants are fighting off Myrmica invasions. At the same time, the plant only loses a small, non-lethal amount of its leaves to the caterpillar. And though Myrmica might lose individual battles to the butterflies, the ants are invasive enough that their total populations aren’t at risk of being harmed by the butterflies.

    “The relationship between blue butterflies and their ant hosts is one of the wonders of the natural world, and this study solves one of the remaining puzzles, ” said evolutionary biologist Ashleigh Griffin of the University of Oxford, who wasn’t involved with the study. “This study appeals to any biologist who likes to see a genuine mystery solved.”

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    Illustration by Getty Images

    Illustration by Getty Images

    In June, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development released a survey on work-life balance in advanced nations. The results? The United States ranked 29th out of the 36 countries polled.

    Despite U.S. residents saying that work-life balance was very important to them (it ranked fourth out of eleven priorities) they were not able to prioritize it. While the U.S. ranks very high in on scales measuring income and wealth they spent an average of only 14 hours a day on themselves, and that was including sleep.

    So why are Americans so bad at establishing a work-life balance? Is this a recent development, a product of social media and the “lean in” culture? Can we establish a better work-life balance in America? Should we?

    To address these questions and more, join PBS NewsHour for a Twitter chat at 1 p.m. EDT Thursday. We will be joined by Brigid Schulte (@BrigidSchulte), who covers social issues for the Washington Post, as well as Liana Sayer (@LCHSayer) and John Robinson of the University of Maryland, who both study how people use their time. Additionally, many of the PBS NewsHour staff who participated in the great work-life balance experiment will participate.

    We will use the hashtag #NewsHourChats.

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    The illustration depicts genetically modified Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (white) living on mammalian cells in the gut (large pink cells coated in a "forest" of microvilli). Chemical molecules (small green dots) trigger the production of light-generating proteins called luciferase, creating glowing bacteria. Other common bacteria (purple) are depicted too. Photo by Janet Iwasa

    The illustration depicts genetically modified Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (white) living on mammalian cells in the gut (large pink cells coated in a “forest” of microvilli). Chemical molecules (small green dots) trigger the production of light-generating proteins called luciferase, creating glowing bacteria. Other common bacteria (purple) are depicted too.
    Photo by Janet Iwasa

    Biologists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a genetically modified version of a common bacteria found in the gut that can sense the environment there and fight disease. And when this designer bacteria works, the proof is in the poop — glowing poop. (In this case, mouse poop.)

    We wanted to equip this bacteria with the ability to do new things, like turn on the production of therapeutic molecules or sense disease inside guts, said Timothy Lu, a biologist and senior author on the study. The designer bacteria is modeled after a common gut bacteria called Bacteroides Thetaiotaomicron.

    In the past, clinical studies and lab experiments made use of manmade modified bacteria, like E. coli and Listeria, to deliver medicine to treat cancer or obesity. But E. coli and Listeria have a downside. They’re cleared from the body rapidly. Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron is already highly abundant in the human gut, meaning that an altered version of this bacteria designed for therapeutic treatment would last longer within the intestines. This designer bacteria, in other words, could play an important role in drug treatment.

    But to monitor whether it was working, Lu’s team had to see the results first.

    To do that, they used a technique called bacterial conjugation to insert a gene called luciferase that codes for fluorescence into the gut bacteria’s genome.

    “You can turn on genes in the bacterium based on what you feed the mouse,” said Christopher Voigt, a biologist at Massachusetts Institutes of Technology and also a senior author on the study .

    Researchers wired the bacteria to switch on when mice chowed down on a plant-based edible starch called arabinogalactan. This starch interacts with a protein that turns on the production of the luciferase gene. Mice fed arabinogalactan had a 75-fold increase in luciferase in their stool. And the more starch the mice were fed, the more the gene turned on, Lu said. In other words, eating starch caused the designer bacteria to produce glowing poop.

    Lu’s team also created an off-switch for the bacteria’s glow using CRISPR, a genetic technology that edits DNA. This year, scientists reported that they could edit human embryos using CRISPR, in a bid to possibly tweak genes that cause heritable human diseases.

    The end result of the current study, published July 9 in the journal Cell Systems, was that mice with the designer bacteria produced fluorescent poop. Scientists hope this research could eventually help humans with gut diseases like colon cancer or Crohn’s disease.

    “You could engineer a Bacteroides to live in the gut and detect when inflammation is just starting, and then flip a switch to turn your poop a certain color, so that you can seek treatment right away,” Lu said.

    Or scientists could insert DNA segments into Bacteroides that create therapeutic molecules like aspirin, Lu said.

    Some questions remain. Lu’s team would like to invent a signal that would prevent the bacteria from producing too much of a desired gene, which could be harmful. And even though they can turn genes off and on, it’s still unclear how long Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron will stick around in the gut.

    Editor’s note: This piece was modified to remove the term, “Frankengut.”

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    An illustration picture shows a projection of binary code on a man holding a laptop computer, in an office in Warsaw June 24, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel (POLAND - Tags: BUSINESS TELECOMS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTX10ZB5

    Could the technical difficulties experienced by the New York Stock Exchange, United Airlines and the Wall Street Journal be a coordinated cyberattack? Photo by Kacper Pempel/Reuters

    On Thursday, United Airlines, the Wall Street Journal, the popular financial blog site ZeroHedge and the New York Stock Exchange all had to shut down their services for “technical reasons.” Although the Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying that there was “no sign of malicious activity” at the New York Stock Exchange, intellectual speculators quickly joined their financial peers to suggest these events were not coincidental and the result of a coordinated cyberattack.

    Simple probabilities support the view that this was not a mere technical failure.

    Given the criticality of technology to United Airlines, let’s assume for a moment it has a daily reliability rate of 99.99 percent, meaning it has a system failure once every 10,000 days, or once every 30 years. Seems reasonable. Now, let’s assume the New York Stock Exchange has a daily reliability rate of 99.9 percent, meaning it fails once every 1000 days, or approximately once every 3 years. Given the Wall Street Journal doesn’t directly handle billions of dollars or millions of lives, let’s assume its daily reliability rate is 99 percent, equating to one failure every 100 days.

    If these events were truly random and independent, then the frequency of all three of these events happening at the same time is — are you ready? — once in a billion days, or once in about 2.8 million years! If for some reason you feel that the Wall Street Journal’s reliability is higher, say 99.9 percent, then the three events would happen even less frequently — once in 10 billion days! Coincidental failure is possible, sure, but it does seem highly unlikely. The numbers suggest that these events are not actually independent.

    When looking at other global developments, one is immediately drawn to China’s imploding stock market. Might there be a connection? Some have suggested that disgruntled Chinese hackers were behind the attack, a fact that both a real-time cyberattack map from Norse and a digital attack map produced by Google Ideas and Arbor Networks appear to validate. Perhaps the Chinese are not happy that the Wall Street Journal reported on China’s plunging stock market? Or could they be unhappy about the regularly falling prices of their U.S. listed securities?

    Whether my speculative musings prove true or false, one thing does seem certain: cyber risks are large, they’re rising and they will affect almost everyone. Travel by air? Even before yesterday’s shut down of United Airlines, the industry has been warning that a major cyberattack is “absolutely inevitable.” Just last month, Poland’s LOT Airlines was grounded after hackers disrupted their flight planning technologies.

    And critical infrastructure controls are also at risk. The University of Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies and the Lloyd’s of London insurance market recently concluded that if an attack on the U.S. power grid disrupted New York and Washington, it could have the potential to cost up to $1 trillion. Want to dismiss this as a wild scenario by risk thinkers gone wild? Don’t. Since 2000 there have been 15 cyberattacks on the U.S. electricity system.

    Lest you think cyberattacks only affect information and electricity, think again. They have the potential to damage the physical as well. Last year, a German steel mill was hacked, and the perpetrators blocked the control systems from properly shutting down a blast furnace, resulting in massive damage. Given this risk to facilities and equipment, it’s not surprising that insurance giant AIG invested in K2 Intelligence, an emerging leader in the field of cybersecurity.

    One reason for their investment was to better understand the costs of cyberattacks, which are likely to be enormous. PwC’s 2014 Global Economic Crime Survey found that almost 7 percent of U.S. organizations lost more than $1 million due to cybercrimes and 19 percent of organizations reported financial losses of between $50,000 and $1 million. That’s just in the U.S. The global costs are much higher. The Center for Strategic and International Studies estimates that cybercrimes and espionage cost more than $445 billion globally.

    And please don’t dismiss these risks as just being about hackers stealing customer information from large corporations such as Target or Home Depot. Cyberattacks will soon be a risk we bear in our everyday lives. Use the Starbucks app to buy your daily latte? Cyberattacks have enabled hackers to drain bank accounts through the Starbucks app. As the Internet of Things booms (IDC estimates there will be 200 billion connected devices by 2020) and devices as far ranging as refrigerators to cars are brought online, vulnerabilities multiply.

    One particularly problematic area is the domain of medical devices. Insulin pumps can be hacked, as can many other wirelessly controlled medical devices, rendering patients vulnerable to medical cybercrimes. Remember the “Homeland” episode in which the Vice President’s pacemaker was hacked by terrorists, allowing them to administer a lethal cyberattack? As explained by the show’s producers and noted by Dick Cheney’s doctor, hackers can quite literally break your heart.

    The post Creepy cyber coincidence? Probably not appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) addresses the National Review Institute's 2015 Ideas Summit in Washington on April 30, 2015.  Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) addresses the National Review Institute’s 2015 Ideas Summit in Washington on April 30, 2015. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush raised $114.4 million in the first six months of the year to fuel his White House ambitions.

    It’s a historic amount that takes full advantage of the nation’s evolving campaign finance laws.

    No candidate for president has benefited from so much money so early in a campaign.

    The total includes $103 raised by Right to Rise, a super PAC that will support Bush in the crowded GOP contest. The rest was raised by Bush’s formal campaign.

    Right to Rise is not subject to the limits placed on donors to Bush’s campaign, and he spent the past six months traveling the country to attend fundraisers for the super PAC.

    The suggested donation at Right to Rise events was often as much as $100,000.

    The post In six months, Jeb Bush’s campaign raises $114.4 million for presidential bid appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Willie Nelson performs at the 56th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California January 26, 2014. Photo by Mario Anzuoni

    Willie Nelson performs at the 56th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California January 26, 2014. Photo by Mario Anzuoni

    Willie Nelson is the first country music star to receive the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the Library of Congress announced Thursday, calling the red-headed stranger a “musical explorer.”

    “Like America itself, [Nelson] has absorbed and assimilated diverse stylistic influences into his stories and songs,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a statement. “He has helped make country music one of the most universally beloved forms of American artistic expression.”

    The prize was named after George and Ira Gershwin and since 2007, it has honored living musicians with a “lifetime achievement in promoting song to enhance cultural; entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations,” the statement read.

    Nelson is the prize’s seventh recipient, following previous honorees Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Carole King and others. Nelson will receive the award at a November ceremony to be held in Washington, D.C.

    “It is an honor to be the next recipient of the Gershwin Prize,” Nelson’s quoted as saying in the statement. “I appreciate it greatly.”

    With more than 200 recordings to his name, Willie Nelson has a storied discography that points to how tireless the 82-year-old Texas musician has been throughout his career, including songs such as “Crazy,” made famous by Patsy Cline in the 1960s, and “On the Road Again,” and classic albums like “Shotgun Willie,” “Red Headed Stranger” and “Stardust,” where Nelson established a raw honky-tonk sound dubbed “outlaw country.”

    PBS NewsHour spoke with the country music legend last year on his tour bus. There, Nelson spoke about his songwriting chops in the humblest of terms.

    “I know that some days you write and some days you don’t. And you learn to live with that,” Nelson said. “Roger Miller said one time that the well goes dry, and you have to wait until it fills up again.”

    Showing no signs of slowing down six decades into his career, Nelson released another album with Merle Haggard a year later. “Django and Jimmie” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country album chart in June.

    The post Country music legend Willie Nelson named next recipient of Gershwin Prize appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Video shot and edited by Justin Scuiletti.

    When was the last time you dove into a ball pit and clambered your way out? Chuck E. Cheese’s, circa 1999?

    The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., just took that colorful concept and flipped it on its head, turning their Great Hall into a massive beach complete with an ocean made of 700,000 to 1 million translucent plastic balls.

    “We didn’t count every single one,” said Chase Rynd, executive director at the National Building Museum.

    “The Beach” is 10,000 square feet. Its deep end is about four feet, which provides just enough of a challenge for the common swimmer to stay afloat. A “pier” offers beach chairs and a snack bar for those looking to rest.

    Brooklyn-based design firm Snarkitecture concocted the idea as a follow-up to the museum’s “Big Maze” interactive, designed last year by the Bjarke Ingels Group. Though “The Beach” provides plenty of fun, there’s more to its purpose than just having a ball.

    “The primary motivation is to inspire people to look at the built world differently,” Rynd said.

    fieldwork

    PBS NewsHour’s Colleen Shalby and Justin Scuiletti, in the field. Photos by Shalby and Scuiletti.

    “The Beach” is entirely white. As sunlight floods into the Great Hall from a window-laden ceiling four stories above, the pristine space dazzles below. It’s not until people arrive that colors and patterns appear.

    “When people enter here, and start diving in, that’s when we start to see the color palate,” Rynd said.

    As soon as the doors open to the public, shouts of “cannonball!” fill the air. Babies waddle into the shallow area with moms and dads, and summer vacationers of all ages lounge and wade.

    If you close your eyes, you can almost hear the sea.

    Photo by Noah Kalina

    “The Beach” is 10,000 square feet. Photo by Noah Kalina

    “The Beach” is open until Sept. 7.

    The post There’s a giant ball pit ‘beach’ in the middle of DC appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters

    Photo by Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration says hackers stole Social Security numbers from more than 21 million people and took other sensitive information when government computer systems were compromised.

    The Office of Personnel Management says more than 19 million who had applied for background investigations were affected. The government also said nearly 2 million people were also affected who weren’t applicants, but rather their spouses or other family members.

    The number affected by the breach is higher than the 14 million figure that investigators gave The Associated Press last month. They said the government was increasingly confident that China’s government, and not criminal hackers, was responsible for the extraordinary theft of personal information.

    China has publicly denied involvement in the break-in.

    The post Government reveals hackers stole Social Security numbers for nearly 22 million people appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    College Campus von Harvard Photo by  Franz Marc Frei/Getty Images.

    Is college always worth the cost? Photo by Franz Marc Frei/Getty Images.

    We’ve all heard some version of, “If you don’t go to college, you won’t get a good job. And if you don’t get a good job…” But is that actually true? Is college worth the financial cost?

    Paul spoke with Peter Cappelli, a professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School and the author of “Will College Pay Off?” about whether or not one’s investment in college is worth the cost through a strictly economic lens.

    Below, Cappelli spells out what parents and students need to know to make the best financial decision on which college to attend. The text of the following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity and length. Watch tonight’s Making Sen$e segment on the subject.

    Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor


    Paul Solman: So what’s the difference between sending your kid to a school like University of Pennsylvania, which is private, and let’s say Penn State, which is public?

    Peter Cappelli: There are couple of things on the cost side. The first one is that you’re likely to be able to get much better financial aid at elite schools. The evidence suggests that on average, for a kid who gets financial aid, the tuition difference is only $9,000 between a private and state school. The other two things that affect the cost is the school’s completion rates and how long it takes to graduate.

    Paul Solman: Right, because every extra year is another year worth tuition, room and board.

    Peter Cappelli: Right. And there are lot of things that the schools control that can affect completion rates. For example, how complicated are your majors? And do you actually have the resources to support them? And so the completion rates at a school like University of Pennsylvania is 98 percent in four years. Across the U.S., the completion rate is only 40 percent in four years. And if you look at the difference between private and public universities, private schools are about 10 percentage points better when it comes to completion rates.

    Paul Solman: What’s the difference in terms of completion rates between University of Pennsylvania and Penn State?

    Peter Cappelli: At Penn State, which is an elite public institution, it’s 65 percent in four years. At University of Pennsylvania, it’s 98 percent in four years. The kids might be a little different, but I think it’s also what the colleges do in order to make sure that the kids graduate on time. There’s a lot of support if you have trouble. There’s a lot of tutoring, coaching, and psychological programs to help. At some of the schools there are freshmen seminars, where it’s only other freshmen in a small class, and there is a real professor who is keeping track of you.

    And another simple thing, which matters a lot, is that the better schools make sure you don’t make mistakes in elective courses. One of the problems with undergraduates is that they’re often overconfident in their abilities. And sometimes they take advanced electives that they’re not prepared for.

    Paul Solman: So a parent who is trying to make a wise economic decision about a school for their kid should be looking at the graduation rate, the factors that go into the graduation rate, and what else?

    Peter Cappelli: The cost, of course, matters a lot, but part of the cost is financial aid and avoiding too many student loans. We don’t pay enough attention to how onerous student loans are. Most of the student loans are at 7 percent interest rates now, and most of them accumulate interest from the day you take them out. There are only a few direct subsidized federal loans that wait until you graduate before the interest starts. I think most parents would flip out if their kid took out a car loan for $50,000 at 7 percent interest. But we sort of blithely sign away these loans at 7 percent for a long term, when you can’t even get out from under them if you file for bankruptcy. To put it in perspective, car loans are about 2 or 2.5 percent. Even the cheapest of the federal subsidized loans are about 4.8 percent now.

    Paul Solman: But isn’t the return on investment demonstrably high? I mean all the data that I’ve ever seen is, you’re better off getting that college degree.

    Peter Cappelli: Well, I think most of all the data that you hear people talking about is the difference between a high school graduate’s pay and a college graduate’s pay. It’s not that college graduates are making more money, it’s that high school graduates collapse. So what you really want to think about is, will you make enough money to pay off the cost of college? That’s the rate of return. And if you think that the chance your kid will get a degree is 50 percent, then that halves your rate of return right there. If you think it may take your kid six years to graduate, then the rate of return goes way down.

    Paul Solman: So are you telling parents, maybe you shouldn’t send or help your kid go to college?

    Peter Cappelli: The first thing a smart parent would ask is, “Is my kid ready to go to college?” If you send them to college, because you can’t think of anything else to do for them, then it’s probably not the greatest financial bet in the world. But I think what really bites is that over time in the U.S. we have made college way more expensive. It’s now about three times more expensive in real terms than it was in the eighties.

    Paul Solman: When I went to college and graduated in ‘66, I knew exactly how much it cost, because I had a full scholarship. It was $1,450 tuition in 1962, and it went up to about $1,800 by the time I graduated.

    Peter Cappelli: Well I did a quick calculation for the Wharton Business School and the University of Pennsylvania in general, and in the 1950’s you could work for about 30 to 40 weeks or so and make enough money with a minimum wage job to pay your college tuition cost. Now, you’d have to work for many years, I think about five, at a minimum wage job to pay off those tuition cost. And that’s assuming, you’re not paying living expenses, taxes or anything else.

    So cost has gone up enormously, and incomes are roughly flat over that same period of time. So it’s a big expense for people. If your family doesn’t have a lot of money, do you take out a ton of loans to send your kid to college? You better think carefully about that. And where do you send them and to do what? It’s very possible that you will make a very poor investment. The folk at this company Payscale, which has calculated rates of return based on this data set of millions of people, found that in about a quarter of the colleges in the US, the degrees from that college earned a negative rate of return. That means, you’re never going to make back the money that you invested to go to college in the first place.

    Paul Solman: What kind of colleges were these that earned a negative rate of return?

    Peter Cappelli: They are small regional colleges for the most part. And the problem there is, people just don’t get through. Now some of that probably has to do with the kind of kids who go there. And some of that has to do with the fact that these schools probably don’t have the help to get kids through.

    Paul Solman: So somebody would conclude that there is a one in four chance that sending their kid to a random school would be a negative investment.

    Peter Cappelli: Yeah. Right.

    Paul Solman: So what’s the best thing they can do?

    Peter Cappelli: Well in terms of the rates of return by college, the colleges that do best overall are the ones that don’t have people who go into low wage jobs, right? These are colleges with no social work and teaching majors, so they’re engineering schools for the most part. Now that doesn’t mean engineers make more than investment bankers make, but it means that they don’t have any graduates going into low wage jobs. So on their rankings, the schools that do the best are state universities, like the Colorado School of Mining and Maritime Universities, because these colleges are low cost and they provide majors and degrees in technical fields. And some of them are places like MIT that provide a lot of financial aid and their graduates get pretty good jobs. But most importantly, few of their graduates take really low paying jobs.

    Paul Solman: So I would be better off sending my grandchild to the Colorado School of Mining than say, Yale or Harvard?

    Peter Cappelli: If all you’re concerned about the average rate of return on the investment, then yes. And the reason is, they’re cheaper. But I think the real story for the average parent is that they don’t have to worry about the average. Parents can figure out where are they in the income distribution. What kind of financial aid can they get? So for example, if you’re from a family that doesn’t have a lot of money, Yale could be a tremendous financial investment, because it doesn’t cost you very much to go there with financial aid. They are need blind and they have a lot of money. So they can provide a ton of financial aid for kids whose families are, not just poor, but middle class even. Deep pockets matter.

    Paul Solman: OK, so what major should a student go into? Coding is all over the place now as the entry level job to really good career tracks.

    Peter Cappelli: Well, the important thing about coding and a lot of IT work to remember is that you don’t need an IT degree to do it. And more generally, one of the things that employers seem to say is that they’re not so concerned about your course work. What they really want to see is experience. If you’ve done some coding, you took a couple of classes in college, maybe got an online certificate in coding, but you’re a philosophy major and you can demonstrate that you have done coding, you might do very well in the job market.

    Paul Solman: Is there anything else that parents who are trying to advise their kids should know?

    Peter Cappelli: I would be very concerned about the marketing that is directed at kids and their parents with job titles as course descriptions and degrees—a degree in Healthcare Records and Administration or something like that. And you see advertisements for programs like this in public transport, everywhere. The big risk with such programs is that the jobs might not be there when you graduate, and some of those fields could disappear with the change of technology. And the issue there is, what have you not learned when you spent your college years learning how to do Healthcare Records Administration?

    This is even true for programs that have a lot of internship opportunities. They sound great, but as a parent you’re paying tuition for your kid to do free work for some employer. And tuition’s a pretty expensive way to get unpaid work experience. So I would be very concerned about the vocational majors and degrees that sound like job training. I think the odds are that they’re going to be useful for the kid in the long run are poor.

    Paul Solman: So what would you do?

    Peter Cappelli: So there are lot of these majors and degrees which look like job titles, like golf course construction or turf engineering or casino construction or sales. There are actually degrees you can get in sales, like pharmaceutical sales. They are highly specific, and the question you want to ask yourself is, “What happens if nobody is hiring in pharmaceutical sales the year I graduate?” What can you do?

    There was an interesting study in the UK that compared kids who graduated from England, which has a college system where you do three years of highly focused education, to those who graduated from Scottish universities. In England, if you are a chemistry major, you only take chemistry classes, while in Scotland they have a system more like the liberal arts system in the U.S. with broader courses. And one of the things they found is that after graduation, when the English kids changed fields, they really stumbled in comparison to the Scottish kids. First they changed fields more often, and they were less likely to stay in field that was their major. They really had a hard time transitioning to a new field likely because they didn’t have that kind of breadth of college experience.

    The post The formula for making a good college investment appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    NO  CHILD LEFT BEHIND  BULLETS

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: No Child Left Behind, the country’s most sweeping education law, has long been blamed for a rise in standardized testing and for unfairly labeling schools as failing.

    This week, the Senate took up the first bipartisan effort to replace the law since it expired eight years ago. It would remove much of the federal footprint from education.

    Hari Sreenivasan has the details.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Instead of federal rules for grading and punishing schools, the Senate legislation would let states design their own accountability systems. But serious disagreements remain.

    The White House is calling for rules that tell states when to intervene in low-performing schools. And some Republicans want federal funds for low-income students to follow them to the school of their choice.

    Here to look at what this could mean for schools are Rick Hess, director of education policy studies for the American Enterprise Institute. And Bob Wise, former governor of West Virginia and president of the Alliance for Excellent Education.

    So, Rick, I want to start with you first.

    All schools were supposed to be at this place where kids were learning at grade level by last year. We didn’t get there. How does this piece of legislation think it can fix that?

    RICK HESS, American Enterprise Institute: It turns out that when you pass a law like No Child Left Behind back in 2001 that says 100 percent of children will be proficient in reading and math by 2014, the fact that Congress would like it to be so doesn’t make it so.

    And I think that’s the big lesson here. No Child Left Behind really did two things around accountability. One is, it created enormous — made an enormous contribution, because for the first time we had real comparable data on every child in every state on how they were doing in reading and math grades three to eight, again in high school and science at elementary, middle and high school.

    What No Child Left Behind got wrong was, in their desire to make a difference, Congress wrote this convoluted, problematic, overreaching accountability system, which tried to tell states how to decide which schools were doing well or not and how to intervene in those schools.

    Turns out, Congress is actually horribly configured to do this. And what you wound up creating was a lot of test mania, a lot of compliance, and very little that actually contributed in any way to helping kids get better.

    What I think you see in the laws, in the proposals right now that just passed the House and that is getting debated in the Senate is an effort to keep the part of No Child Left Behind that worked well, this transparency and this regular assessment, but to get the federal government out of that micromanagement business.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Bob Wise, you have been a governor before. Will replacing federal guidelines with state guidelines fix the problem, especially for those parents out there who are seriously complaining about testing and the culture that it’s created?

    BOB WISE, President, Alliance for Excellent Education: So what we have, I think, is a legislative Goldilocks right now.

    Rick is absolutely right. I agree with him that the early No Child Left — No Child Left Behind was too prescriptive, too hot. But at the same token, the House version particularly removes any kind of meaningful accountability.

    And so what you need is, you need the ability to report on students that are having low outcomes, measure them over a period of time, and then for the federal government to say to states, look, you have got to do something. We’re not telling you what.

    That’s what they tried to do in No Child Left Behind. We’re not telling you what, but we are saying that you do need to act and there is a federal role in helping support that. So that’s where I think we still have to get it right in terms of where the Senate bill is.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Rick, if the federal government says that you can create your own measurements of success and failure, do we basically go to a pre-No Child Left Behind era, where we have 50 sets of measurements in different states?

    FREDERICK HESS: Well, basically, with No Child Left Behind, we have actually had 50 sets of measurements from 50 states, because each state gets to choose its standards and its tests.

    So what you have are data that are comparable for every child in a state, but not necessarily across states. That doesn’t change under the laws being debated. What you really go back to — I describe it as a long way home. What you go back to is what Bill Clinton actually proposed in 1994, which was he said, look, let’s have every state test every child once in elementary school in reading and math, once in middle school, once in high school, and let’s make sure that data is out there, so that parents and policy-makers and educators and voters can make informed decisions.

    What we’re going to wind up with under, say, a House bill is what Clinton imposed in ’94 on steroids. You actually have tests every grade level from three to eight in reading and math, again in high school, and then science elementary, middle and high school

    What it does, is, unlike pre-NCLB, it makes sure that folks can’t hide problems. You’re going to break out data for all these different subgroups by economic status and by ethnicity. And what you’re going to have, what’s going to be different from under No Child Left Behind is the federal government will not be in the business of deciding which schools need to be intervened in and how you’re supposed to intervene in them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Bob Wise, one of the questions and one of the points of contention between the House and the Senate bills is this idea that the dollars should follow low-income kids if they choose to leave a low-performing school and go either to a better-performing school, which I guess is the goal. But how much money are we talking about? How significance is this and what’s the impact on the states?

    BOB WISE: The impact on the states can be great, and I think it’s significant.

    We’re talking roughly $14 billion to $15 billion in Title I. And those are the dollars that go to concentrations of low-income children. But I think it’s significant to note that the Senate rejected that approach, even when offered by the Republican chairman. In the House, I don’t believe — either they didn’t take it up or they rejected it as well.

    But I think that what Rick talks about is important to note. Yes, there’s going to be more flexibility, regardless of what version passes. But I’m concerned that I don’t want to see the Bill Clinton 1994 approach — he says on steroids — I don’t want to see it run amok.

    If you have got 1,200 high schools that are graduating — or where more than one-third of their kids drop out, I think it’s fair for the federal government to say, why do you have these high dropout rates? We’re not telling you how to fix it, but after this has happened for several years, what are you going to do to fix it and what are the tools you need to fix it?

    That I think is the key debate that is still taking place, particularly on the Senate side.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Rick, is this legislation essentially reflecting this kind of popular uprising against the Common Core?

    FREDERICK HESS: No, I think it’s more accurate to say the Common Core got caught up in the frustration of No Child Left Behind.

    I think you have got parents who feel like their children are being overtested. It’s not so much the federally mandated tests under No Child Left Behind. It’s more all of the urgency put behind getting kids to make sure they’re proficient on those tests, which has led school districts to do lots of formative assessment, to make sure kids are ready for the tests, lots of test preparation.

    The idea is, by keeping the transparency, but by loosening the terror of being on the federal government black hat list, that what’s going to happen is school districts will be able to be more sensible and measured about these tests.

    And I think what is going to happen is on debates around testing, around evaluation of teachers, around standards and Common Core, you would actually see a lessening of some of the temperature, because people are going to feel that the stakes have been reduced to a more moderate range.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Bob Wise, a quick last word?

    BOB WISE: Yes, Rick, I think, has summed up well a lot of the situation.

    I just want to add that let’s also remember that it was the states, whether they adopted the Common Core or they adopted their own college and career ready standards, every state has now moved to a college and career ready standard. We want to make sure that the federal government is supporting that state initiative.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Bob Wise and Rick Hess, thanks so much for joining us.

    The post What should replace No Child Left Behind? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Jimmy Carter

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn now to former President Jimmy Carter, out this week with his 29th book, “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety.”

    President Carter, welcome back to the NewsHour.

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: It’s good to be back, Judy. Thank you very much for letting me come.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it has been an extraordinary life. There is so much in this book, starting with growing up in rural South Georgia.

    There’s a lot in there about race relations. And the reason I want to ask you about that to begin with is, it’s very much in the news right now, the U.S. Congress having a vote on it today, the state of South Carolina deciding to remove the Confederate Flag. That was what Congress was discussing today.

    You had the police shootings around the country, the murders in Charleston. Why do you think this country still wrestles so much with race?

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Well, I think we kind of breathed a sigh of relief back in the ’60s, after we had 100 years of racial discrimination with separate but equal, and the Supreme Court and the Congress and everybody else agreed to that, all the churches.

    And after the Johnson years of Voting Rights Act and Martin Luther King Jr., Andy Young and others being successful, I think the United States kind of breathed a sigh of relief and said, well, we have resolved the race issue now, and there won’t be anymore, detectable, at least, elements of an American society where whites are in the supreme position, to the detriment of blacks.

    And I think the recent high publicity about the police and black confrontations and the tragedy in Charleston have reminded us that we still have a long way to go. There’s still an innate racism in our country that needs to be addressed accurately.

    And I think the Confederate Flag has been for some people a lingering element of this. Georgia did away with it 14 years ago. And I think the governor that did it was soundly defeated when he was up for reelection, partly because of the flag.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s a complicated subject.

    And you write about that in the book. You talk about how you had African-American playmates when you were growing up, and yet your father believed in the separation of races. When you were inaugurated as governor of Georgia, you talked about the time for discrimination is over, and yet, when you were running for governor, you talk about inviting George Wallace to speak in Georgia.

    What do you think you have seen and learned about how politicians handle the subject of race?

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Well, I think politicians really go with the tide.

    But I was immersed in a black culture from the time I was born, until I was — when I was 4 years old and on and until I left at 16 years old. And I experienced the first dramatic demonstration of the benefits of racial equality when Harry Truman — seven years before Rosa Parks sat in the front of a bus or Martin Luther King’s really being active, Harry Truman, as president, commander in chief, ordained peremptorily that all racial discrimination would be done away with in the military services, and also in the public service, civil service, by the United States government.

    So that was a good indication to me about the real advantages of doing away with racial segregation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And I want to ask something, before I get to the book — there is so much in the book to ask you about — and that is the emerging 2016 presidential campaign, the contest for the Democratic nomination.

    Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator, is out there getting big crowds, talking about economic inequality.

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: I know.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary Clinton, of course, is out as well. He says he would do more on this. He says he wants to cut taxes on the wealthy. She hasn’t gone that far. Who do you think speaks more, speaks better on the subject of economic inequality?

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Well, I really think that, more inherently, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The senator was in the forefront of saying equality and doing away with discrimination economically, constraining Wall Street, and doing away with the domination that the rich people now have over the political system.

    And so since Elizabeth Warren decided not to run, I think Bernie Sanders has kind of inherited her mantle for promoting less distinction on an economic basis of American citizens.

    So, at the same time, I know that the stupid decision by the Supreme Court on Citizens United to let money dominate America’s political system is giving, I would say, Hillary Clinton a big advantage that will be, I think, overwhelming toward the end of the campaign.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But you’re saying you think at this point Bernie Sanders speaks more…

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: I think he speaks more for a liberal and the active wing of the Democratic Party, yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And speaks — are you saying has more to say about economic inequality, has a better message…

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: So far, he does. I think he’s been a lot bolder in his promulgation of his own ideas than has Hillary Clinton. But I think she is going to come along later and win.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There is so much in this book about your early life. And I know you have written about it before.

    But I was struck by how you wrote about your father.

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You talked about craving attention from him. In fact, you include a painting that you drew of your father. But you said he was sparing with his praise, and there’s part of a poem that you wrote.

    You talked about the pain you mostly hide and you said you felt ‘a hunger for his outstretched hand, a man’s embrace to take me in, the need for just a word of praise.”

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you think that affected you?

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Well, I was totally dominated and revered my father. I admired everything he did. He was a great sports person. He loved me. I was his only boy at that time, before my brother, Billy, came along.

    He expected the highest possible achievement on my part in the field or when I had my own business or when I was carrying out his instructions or his advice. And when I was erring, he was punitive. And I would resent it for a short period of time, but I would get over it. And, eventually, I look back on those times as a time of my hungering for his word of approbation or kind — or approval.

    And so then I realized toward the end that I — when I had my three boys, that I treated my boys the same way and…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Sparing in praise for them?

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Sparing in praise, that’s true.

    And then I said, my daddy is still a part of me, which is true.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You also note, you write about your ancestors, your grandfather, I guess, who died in a gunfight.

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: And my great-grandfather, too.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And your great-grandfather.

    Your grandfather was 45 on your father’s side when he died.

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Your father was just, what, 58 or 59 when he died of cancer.

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You have so far outlived them. How much do you think about that?

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Well, I think about it with regret, obviously, because all my family have died with cancer. And my — both my sisters died with pancreatic cancer. My brother died with pancreatic cancer. My daddy died of pancreatic cancer. My mother died with breast cancer.

    They all smoked cigarettes. And I never have smoked a cigarette. So, I think that may be a triggering device to some genetic factor. I don’t know what the background is.

    But the health service of America kind of adopted me as a target. We were the only family in the world for a number of years that was known to have pancreatic cancer deaths in four members. And so I have escaped it so far, thank goodness.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But living as long as you have is a gift.

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: It is. I know that. I realize that. And I’m grateful for it.

    And I think a lot is just luck. And a lot of it is the fact that Rosalynn and I live a very carefully orchestrated life of proper diet and a lot of exercise. But some of my family members have also had proper diet and a lot of exercise. So, I would say luck.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And so what do you want to do with the rest of your long, long life?

    (LAUGHTER)

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Well, I’m going to stay active as long as I can politically, and with the Carter Center primarily, and if I’m able mentally and physically, will continue to be quite active.

    But this has been the most traveled year that I have had in a number of years. Just happen to have a lot of things come up. But the Carter Center has programs in 80 countries in the world, so we have a lot of things going on.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s not a quiet life at all.

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: No, it’s not a quiet life. It’s a challenging and exciting and unpredictable, adventurous, enjoyable life.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you’re already working on your next book.

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Well, always I’m working on some of book. That’s the way I make a living.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Jimmy Carter, thank you for coming to talk to us.

    FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: Thank you, Judy. I have always enjoyed being with you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.

    The post Former President Jimmy Carter shares his full, lucky life in new memoir appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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