Articles on this Page
- 07/28/15--06:13: _To boost patient he...
- 07/28/15--06:43: _Moammar Gadhafi’s s...
- 07/28/15--13:16: _In Yemen, people ‘b...
- 07/28/15--14:22: _Pollard, U.S. analy...
- 07/28/15--15:15: _Teens sing in suppo...
- 07/28/15--15:20: _How Dr. Seuss’s pub...
- 07/28/15--15:25: _How slavery and mur...
- 07/28/15--15:30: _New Mexicans claim ...
- 07/28/15--15:35: _Why hosting the Oly...
- 07/28/15--15:40: _What dropping the b...
- 07/28/15--15:45: _Is there a connecti...
- 07/28/15--15:50: _News Wrap: Turkey s...
- 07/28/15--16:25: _What makes this mon...
- 07/29/15--05:07: _What the annual Med...
- 07/29/15--05:54: _In Morocco, Muslims...
- 07/29/15--06:12: _House, Senate move ...
- 07/29/15--06:20: _Conservative move a...
- 07/29/15--13:34: _Why we’re drawn to ...
- 07/29/15--13:35: _World’s first trans...
- 07/29/15--14:36: _The worst humanitar...
- 07/28/15--06:43: Moammar Gadhafi’s son sentenced to death by firing squad
- 07/28/15--13:16: In Yemen, people ‘begging for food’ amid bombings and blockades
- 07/28/15--14:22: Pollard, U.S. analyst convicted of spying for Israel, to be freed
- 07/28/15--15:15: Teens sing in support of Black Lives Matter
- 07/28/15--15:20: How Dr. Seuss’s publisher helped finish a forgotten book
- 07/28/15--15:25: How slavery and murder goes unpunished on the high seas
- 07/28/15--15:35: Why hosting the Olympics may not be a golden opportunity
- 07/28/15--15:40: What dropping the ban on gay leaders means for the Boy Scouts
- 07/28/15--15:45: Is there a connection between Pollard release timing and Iran deal?
- 07/28/15--16:25: What makes this monkey red in the face?
- 07/29/15--05:07: What the annual Medicare and Social Security reports miss
- 07/29/15--05:54: In Morocco, Muslims and Jews study side-by-side but for how long?
- 07/29/15--06:12: House, Senate move toward passage of short-term transportation bill
- 07/29/15--06:20: Conservative move against Boehner a sign of discontent
- 07/29/15--13:34: Why we’re drawn to fizzy drinks
- 07/29/15--13:35: World’s first transgender modeling agency to open this summer
- 07/29/15--14:36: The worst humanitarian crisis since World War II
Cancer patients who do rehabilitation before they begin treatment may recover more quickly from surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, some cancer specialists say. But insurance coverage for cancer “prehabilitation,” as it’s called, can be spotty, especially if the aim is to prevent problems rather than treat existing ones.
It seems intuitive that people’s health during and after invasive surgery or a toxic course of chemo or radiation can be improved by being as physically and psychologically fit as possible going into it. But research to examine the impact of prehab is in the beginning stages.
Prehabilitation is commonly associated with orthopedic operations such as knee and hip replacements or cardiac procedures. Now there’s growing interest in using prehab in cancer care as well to prepare for treatment and minimize some of the long-term physical impairments that often result from treatment, such as heart and balance problems.
“It’s really the philosophy of rehab, rebranded,” says Dr. Samman Shahpar, a physiatrist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
The main component of cancer prehab is often a structured exercise program to improve patients’ endurance, strength or cardiorespiratory health. The clinician establishes baseline measurements, such as determining how far a patient can walk on a treadmill in six minutes, and may set a goal for improvement. He also evaluates and addresses existing physical impairments, such as limited shoulder mobility that could be problematic for a breast cancer patient who will need to hold her shoulder in a particular position for radiation. Depending on the program, patients may also receive psychological and nutritional counseling or other services.
Some early research suggests prehab may improve people’s ability to tolerate cancer treatment and return to normal physical functioning more quickly. In one randomized controlled trial of 77 people with colorectal cancer who were awaiting surgery, two groups of patients participated in an exercise, relaxation and nutritional counseling program. Half went through the program in the four weeks prior to surgery and half in the eight weeks after it.
Eight weeks after their surgery, 84 percent of prehab patients’ performance on a six-minute walking test had recovered to or over their baseline measurements compared with 62 percent of rehab patients, according to the study, published last year in Anesthesiology.
“Prehab could be a relatively cheap way to get people ready for cancer treatment and surgery, both of them stressors,” says Dr. Francesco Carli, a professor of anesthesiology at McGill University in Montreal who co-authored the study.
More study is needed to determine whether prehab actually improves cancer patients’ outcomes, experts say.
“There are some physiatrists who don’t believe in prehab,” says Catherine Alfano, vice president of survivorship at the American Cancer Society. “They feel like the science isn’t there yet.”
Insurance plans typically cover rehabilitation services such as physical therapy and occupational therapy. But patients can face problems with coverage such as preauthorization requirements and limits on visits. There may be even more coverage obstacles with prehab.
“What we need is a system that systemically screens people for problems with physical and mental health that is then coordinated with their oncology care,” Alfano says.
The STAR Program is one effort to accomplish that. It helps hospitals and cancer centers establish interdisciplinary teams to improve cancer rehabilitation services, including offering prehab services.
“What we know from the literature is that 65 to 90 percent of cancer patients could benefit from rehab services, but delivery of those services is often less than 5 percent,” says Dr. Julie Silver, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School who founded STAR — it stands for Survivorship Training and Rehab–in 2009.
The Peoria, Ill.-based Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is STAR-certified. It was originally launched as a program to help breast cancer and other patients cope with problems associated with lymphedema, a swelling of the arms or legs following removal of lymph nodes. But it became clear that cancer patients could benefit from a much broader array of services, says Kate Horst, the institute’s director of research and clinical innovation. Now, in addition to occupational, physical and speech therapists, the institute also offers cancer patients acupuncture, oncology massage and nutritional counseling.
Many of their patients are referred by physicians for prehab following their cancer diagnosis, says Horst. Specialists do an evaluation to determine if patients need any prehabilition services. Some don’t, and they’re discharged.
“But most of the time, people are about to embark on the most difficult period of their lives, and they’ve already got some problems,” says Horst.
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can view the original report on its website.
The post To boost patient health, rehab sometimes starts before cancer treatment appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
A court in Libya has sentenced Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of slain Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, to death by firing squad for murder and inciting genocide during the 2011 civil war.
It is unclear when Tuesday’s sentence will be carried out since a militia in western Libya refuses to turn him over to the government, the Associated Press reported.
The court in Tripoli also sentenced to death eight other ex-officials, including former spy chief Abdullah al-Senoussi, foreign intelligence chief Abuzed Omar-Dorda and former Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi.
The rulings can be appealed.
The post Moammar Gadhafi’s son sentenced to death by firing squad appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
In a Skype interview, Tariq Riebl, Oxfam’s head of program in Yemen, describes the worsening situation on the ground.
A new Oxfam report says fighting and economic blockades in Yemen are making food prices soar and causing an additional 25,000 people to go hungry each day.
Even before the current conflict between government supporters and Houthi rebels began in March, about 41 percent of Yemen’s 26.7 million population didn’t have enough to eat, according to the U.N. World Food Program.
The fighting has made the situation even worse. Neighboring Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes against the rebels and imposed a naval blockade on Yemeni ports “to protect the legitimate government of Yemen from falling and from facing any dangers from an outside militia,” said Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. Adel al-Jubeir.
People now are waiting in long lines at fuel stations, sometimes for days, and swarming delivery trucks for scarce supplies that are priced increasingly higher, said Oxfam’s head of program in Yemen Tariq Riebl in the capital Sana’a.
“The prime coping strategy is to reduce meals to one a day or even less,” he said. “Many of the displaced population are sleeping out in the open by the sides of main highways and begging for food. They don’t even have tents.”
The World Food Program has distributed emergency food rations and fuel to about 1.7 million people since the conflict began, with millions more in need, and groups such as Oxfam are providing as much cash and vouchers as their funding will allow, Riebl said.
But humanitarian assistance is not the solution, he added. “They need to have the commercial sector operating normally again” and a non-military solution to the conflict.
The post In Yemen, people ‘begging for food’ amid bombings and blockades appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Jonathan Pollard, the former Naval intelligence analyst whose conviction of spying for Israel stoked fierce international passions, has been granted parole and will be released from prison in November after nearly 30 years.
The decision to free Pollard from his life sentence, announced Tuesday by his lawyers and then confirmed by the Justice Department, caps an extraordinary espionage case after decades of legal and diplomatic wrangling. Critics have condemned the American as a traitor who betrayed his country for money and disclosed damaging secrets, while supporters have argued that he was punished excessively given that he spied for a U.S. ally.
Pollard is due to be released on Nov. 21, three decades after he was arrested while trying to gain asylum at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Though the Jewish American community has wrestled with how much leniency he should get, Israelis have long campaigned for his freedom. The government there has recognized him as an Israeli agent and granted him citizenship.
“We are looking forward to his release,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Tuesday.
White House and Israeli officials denied that the release was in any way tied to the nuclear deal recently reached with Iran, or that it was intended as a concession to Israel. Secretary of State John Kerry, who testified before Congress on the nuclear deal on Tuesday, told reporters Pollard’s parole was “not at all” connected. And Israeli officials have said that while they would welcome the release it would not ease their opposition to the Iran agreement.
The U.S. had previously dangled the prospect of his release, including during Israel-Palestinian talks last year, when the Obama administration considered the possibility of freeing Pollard early as part of a package of incentives to keep Israel at the negotiating table. As it turned out, the peace effort collapsed and nothing came of the proposal.
The Justice Department noted that federal sentencing rules in place at the time of Pollard’s prosecution entitled him to parole after 30 years of his life sentence. Department lawyers did not contest his parole bid, which was granted following a hearing this month before the U.S. Parole Commission.
Though parolees are required for five years after their release to get government permission for foreign travel, Pollard’s lawyers say they intend to ask President Barack Obama to grant him clemency as well as authority to leave the United States and move to Israel immediately.
Said Netanyahu, in Israel, “Throughout his time in prison, I consistently raised the issue of his release in my meetings and conversations with the leadership of successive U.S. administrations.”
“Immense joy,” Israel Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked wrote on her Facebook page in Hebrew, adding that “thirty years of suffering will come to an end this November.”
She echoed statements of American officials in saying that he was being released because of the justice system and not because of the Iran deal.
Pollard, 60, has faced health problems in recent years. He is being held in the federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, and his lawyers said they have secured housing and a job for him in New York once he is released. They said he was “looking forward to being reunited with his beloved wife, Esther.”
The Pollard prosecution represented one of the most sensational and divisive spy cases in recent American history. His supporters maintain that he provided information critical to Israel’s security interests at a time when the country was under threat from its Middle East neighbors, but prosecutors and many in the U.S. intelligence community have long maintained that his disclosure of voluminous classified documents constituted a criminal breach on par with that of America’s most infamous spies.
The U.S. says Pollard provided reams of sensitive and classified information to Israel, including about radar-jamming techniques and the electronic capabilities of nations hostile to Israel, including Saudi Arabia.
A court statement from then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger said Pollard did “irrevocable” damage to the U.S. and had provided the Israelis with more than 800 U.S. classified publications and more than 1,000 classified messages and cables. Portions of the Weinberger document that have been declassified state that Pollard admitted passing to his Israeli contacts “an incredibly large quantity of classified documents” and that U.S. troops could be endangered because of the theft.
“He took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, and he failed it,” said M.E. “Spike” Bowman, the director of Naval Intelligence at the time of Pollard’s arrest. “The fact that he gave it to an ally, that makes absolutely no difference to me. I’m glad that it was an ally rather than the Russians, but what he did makes absolutely no difference.”
Eliot Lauer, one of Pollard’s lawyers, rejected that assessment, saying his client “loves this country” and “never intended to do anything to harm the United States.”
“We are grateful and delighted that our client will be released soon,” said a statement from Pollard’s lawyers, Lauer and Jacques Semmelman.
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Deb Riechmann in Washington and Ian Deitch in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
The post Pollard, U.S. analyst convicted of spying for Israel, to be freed appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
In our NewsHour Shares series, we show you things that caught our eye recently on the web. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, or tweet to @NewsHour using #NewsHourShares. We might share it on air.
Our colleagues from KQED in San Francisco profiled Vocal Rush, a teen a cappella group from Oakland who used the stage to pay homage to the Black Lives Matter movement and to acknowledge their own city’s troubled history.
GWEN IFILL: Finally: Dr. Seuss’ popular empire is about to grow once again. A newly published book of his immediately shot up to number one on the Amazon bestseller list today.
Jeffrey Brown has more on its interesting backstory and the enduring appeal of the children’s author.
JEFFREY BROWN: Ah, the choices that life presents. For example, “We want a pet. We want a pet. What kind of pet should we get?”
Those are the opening lines of a new book, actually, an old one, never finished, until now, by Theodor Geisel, who, as Dr. Seuss, wrote and illustrated such classic children’s books as “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham,” 44 books in his lifetime — he died in 1991 — that have sold more than 650 million copies and counting.
Now comes “What Pet Should I Get?” discovered in a box in 2013 and completed by Cathy Goldsmith, who worked with Theodor Geisel as a designer and art director for his last six books. She continues to work at Random House, which has just published the new book. Also with us is author and illustrator Greg Pizzoli. His debut picture book, “The Watermelon Seed,” won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award in 2014.
So, Cathy Goldsmith, let me start with you. And let me ask, what do you make of this book and what should we make of this book? Why did Theodor Geisel set it aside?
CATHY GOLDSMITH, Random House: Well, I think that he set it aside mostly because he got involved in other things. He was famous for always working on more than one project at a time.
And I just think this was one that he wrote and moved on almost immediately afterwards to “One Fish, Two Fish.”
JEFFREY BROWN: How much work did you have to do on it to bring it to publication?
CATHY GOLDSMITH: Well, in the box, we found the complete black line art for this book and also the manuscript. What we didn’t find were the color specs for the book.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, so, therefore, what did you do?
CATHY GOLDSMITH: So that fell to me to try to work out a color scheme for this book that would be consistent with what Ted himself might have done if he were still with us today.
JEFFREY BROWN: Which meant what, looking at the kind of work around that time? How did you figure it out?
CATHY GOLDSMITH: Because I think it’s so closely related to “One Fish, Two Fish,” I started with the color palette for that book and then worked out what needed to happen in this book to make this book work.
JEFFREY BROWN: So, Greg Pizzoli, two children in this book, they’re trying to decide on a pet. They start with a dog and cat. And then, in Dr. Seuss fashion, they imagine ever more extravagant types of animals. What did you see in this book?
GREG PIZZOLI, Children’s Book Author: Well, I’m a cat person, so I was hoping for the cat.
But I have found this the Dr. Seuss that I have loved since I was a child, the fun rhyming text, the amazing illustrations, and the Dr. Seuss that we all love.
JEFFREY BROWN: Tell us more. What accounts for that love or that readership?
GREG PIZZOLI: Well, I think, you know — particularly, I think, when people think of Dr. Seuss, they think of his rhyme to verse, that very particular imaginative quality he had with language.
But I think, as an illustrator myself, I was looking at the books today and just marveling at the pen and ink illustrations, and how he was able to do so much in the illustration that wasn’t being said in the text itself.
And, Cathy, I have to say, the colors look great, so great job.
CATHY GOLDSMITH: Thank you for that.
JEFFREY BROWN: The line in this book that got me, and it kind of brought me back to reading Dr. Seuss as a kid, he says, “Oh, boy, it is something to make a mind up,” you know that very human moment of, I can’t decide, but I have to decide.
GREG PIZZOLI: Right.
CATHY GOLDSMITH: I think — yes, I think this book not only is about choosing a pet, but it’s really about making a choice.
And it’s a problem that children and adults have throughout their lives at various times.
JEFFREY BROWN: Tell us more, Cathy Goldsmith, about Dr. Seuss, or Theodor Geisel, the man. He’s described often as a perfectionist. I saw where he said, “I know my stuff looks like it was rattled off in 28 seconds, but every word is a struggle and every sentence is like the pangs of birth.”
That’s quoting him.
CATHY GOLDSMITH: Well, that is a quote that he made, yes.
And I think it really described the way he worked. He rewrote and rewrote and redrew and seldom actually shared a project with those of us at Random House until he was well into it and knew that he was on the path to being finished with it. But he also expected the same thing of those around him, which is why we take taking care of his legacy so seriously at Random House.
JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Greg Pizzoli, you were talking about the drawing itself. He was — he could have done a lot with his art. I mean, he could have done many other things, but he put it in the service of children’s books.
GREG PIZZOLI: Right. He did political cartoons during World War II. He was, you know, a very fantastic sculptor.
He really could have done anything, and he chose children’s books. He saw children’s books, children’s publishing as a legitimate art form worthy of his particular genius, and in doing so, he elevated the field. I think he should be very largely credited for the sort of golden era of picture books we’re seeing today.
JEFFREY BROWN: Cathy Goldsmith, any reservations? Was there ambivalence for you or for Random House or for his widow, for anybody involved here, in bringing this to the public?
CATHY GOLDSMITH: Not at all. We have a tremendous respect for the legacy of what Dr. Seuss did when he left us, and we wouldn’t have published this book if we didn’t feel that it fit very nicely and reputably into his work.
JEFFREY BROWN: Is there possibly more to come then?
CATHY GOLDSMITH: I don’t — there was nothing else found in that box that was complete, so, no, there’s no other new books coming down the line.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, Greg Pizzoli…
GREG PIZZOLI: Send any of those ideas to me, Cathy. That’s fine.
JEFFREY BROWN: Send them to you?
CATHY GOLDSMITH: We can talk.
JEFFREY BROWN: And you would like to complete them?
GREG PIZZOLI: Yes, I will finish them up, yes, yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Greg Pizzoli, Cathy Goldsmith, thank you both so much.
CATHY GOLDSMITH: Thank you.
GREG PIZZOLI: Thank you.
The post How Dr. Seuss’s publisher helped finish a forgotten book appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now a look at some uncharted waters and the dangers faced by those out at sea.
William Brangham reports.
And a warning: The story contains some graphic images.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It’s easy to overlook just how dependent our lives and the entire global economy have become on shipping and the seas.
Today, several million ships carry roughly 90 percent of the world’s goods. But a New York Times series shows how little we know about the lawless seas. Migrants, stowaways and fishermen disappear, often killed in accidents, or worse. There’s evidence of murders taking place offshore.
And tens of thousands of workers are essentially enslaved each year. All the while, international maritime law seems wholly inadequate and few authorities ever step in.
Ian Urbina reported this series, and he joins me now.
IAN URBINA, The New York Times: Thanks.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In the first part of your series, you talk about a particular ship, the Dona Liberta. And you document a whole manner of crimes, terrible treatment of its crew, throwing stowaways overboard, dumping oily residue into the water. You’re able to name the owner of the ship, but yet nothing seems to be done about that.
Why is that?
IAN URBINA: Number one, a lot of these companies are essentially P.O. boxes, and they’re sort of shells over shells over shells.
And that was the case here. So, just pinning down the owning company was tough. But, secondly, you have a boat that has maybe 10 different nationalities, in terms of the crew, the captain from yet another nation. The company that owns it is the third nation, and it’s flagged to a fourth nation, and it’s passing through international waters.
So, even figuring out who would prosecute or investigate a crime is tough. And then the last part is there is really no one wanting to investigate these matters. When crimes occur, it’s usually against crew or the environment. And the crew are typically from poor countries and those countries don’t have the wherewithal to prosecute.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Is there a governing body or an organization that is supposed to have jurisdiction in these matters?
IAN URBINA: The flag that a ship flies is ultimately the country that should take responsibility.
But those flags are businesses. And they don’t have enforcement wings. They don’t have police. They don’t have investigators. And they don’t have much incentive really to investigate their clients. There are overarching bodies, like at the U.N., the International Maritime Organization, but, again, it’s not an enforcement agency, so complaints can be filed with it, but they usually sit there on record.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You document in your series some — the conditions for fishing boat workers, and the way you describe it is that many of these workers are, in essence, slaves. Who are these men and how did they end up in the circumstances that they’re in?
IAN URBINA: So, that’s a story that we focused on the South China Sea, where this problem is most acute.
Most of these vessels that we looked at were Thai-flagged trawlers or fishing vessels. They are smaller boats. And the crews predominantly come from Laos, Cambodia. And there are many Burmese. And they are trafficked into the country across the border illegally, oftentimes under the pretense that they are going to get a job in construction or some land-based job.
Next thing they know, they are at the port, and they are being sort of shuttled onto a ship. And the traffickers sells them essentially to the boat captain. And they are indentured on the boat and are supposed to work until their debt is cleared. But once you get out to sea, it’s not a realm of bookkeeping and exact accounts.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You can’t just get off.
IAN URBINA: Right, so they stay there.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In your series, you document a horrible incident that happened, I believe it was in the Indian Ocean, of this very graphic cell phone video of men being shot in the water.
Again, this is pretty clear evidence of a graphic, horrible crime. And yet no one has been held to account for this. How do you explain that?
IAN URBINA: It’s pretty amazing.
So, this was a cell phone video that was found. And it shows a clear case of murder. There are four men floating in the water. And over 10 minutes, they are shot. And at the end of the video, the most striking part is that those involved in the shooting pose for selfies.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: They have just shot men to death in the water, and then here they are taking selfies of themselves.
IAN URBINA: And the video ends up on the Internet. And so the question is, how is it possible, with this much evidence? There were four large tuna long-line vessels in the area, so that means there are dozens of witnesses, a video on the Internet with the culprits.
And — but it gets to the heart of the issue that you raised before. There is no interested party that has the wherewithal to prosecute or investigate. And, at the end of the day, the seas are this sprawling space. And so pinning down when and where something occurs out there, when there are so few other people that weren’t party to the crime, is difficult
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The environmental crimes that you document in this series are also quite stark.
You write: “Ships intentionally dump more engine oil and sludge Into the oceans in the span of three years than that spilled in the Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez accidents combined, ocean researchers say, and emit huge amounts of certain air pollutants, far more than all the world’s cars.”
What is being done to combat those types of crimes?
IAN URBINA: Not a whole lot, again, because, while there are rules on the books, rules are only as good as their enforcement.
And that’s where the high seas become especially difficult, because it’s super costly to put boats on the water. It’s such a huge space to patrol. And no nation has the jurisdiction to do that on the high seas, because it belongs to everyone and no one. So there are strong rules on the books prevent — forbidding that kind of behavior, but there is no one out there to stop it.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Ian Urbina of The New York Times, thank you very much.
IAN URBINA: Thank you.
The post How slavery and murder goes unpunished on the high seas appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
GWEN IFILL: This month marked the 70th anniversary of the first test of a nuclear bomb. It was a milestone for science, and credited with leading to the end of World War II.
But one group isn’t celebrating. They call themselves the Downwinders, because they lived downwind of the blast site.
Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery reports from South Central New Mexico.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: The solemn reading of names at a candlelight vigil. This one with traditional New Mexican luminaries, is in a baseball field in the village of Tularosa. These are victims of a different kind of loss.
GLORIA HERRERA, Tularosa Resident: There’s just — there’s too much cancer here.
WOMAN: There’s so many tears.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Gloria Herrera knows about cancer, from her friends, her neighbors and her husband, Henry, who’s had three different kinds. The Herreras blame the disease on a day etched in Henry’s memory. He was 11 years old.
HENRY HERRERA, Tularosa Resident: Boom, that thing exploded. And I mean it was a big explosion. It wasn’t like these regular ones we had been hearing.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: In July 1945, scientists worked in secret on the world’s first atomic bomb in a part of New Mexico’s desert called Jornada del Muerto, or Journey of Death.
They hoisted a 19-kiloton device called the Gadget on top of a 100-foot tower. At 5:29 in the morning on July 16, a tremendous flash came first, and then a mushroom cloud stretched seven-miles high. It was the same size and power as the plutonium bomb that would be dropped 24 days later on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, killing tens of thousands.
July is the rainy season in New Mexico. Hours after the blast, the skies opened up. But no one told residents to evacuate, even as radioactive ash poured down on livestock, crops, water cisterns, and laundry hanging on lines.
HENRY HERRERA: It was just black, black, real, real fine dust, because momma had just hung up her clothes, white sheets and pillowcases and all the white clothes that she washed first.
WOMAN: And it was on the roof. We got it into the cistern. It was on our food. It was on our chickens, our cows, our rabbits.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: A 2010 report from the Centers for Disease Control examined radioactive fallout from several nuclear tests. For Trinity, the study found some radiation levels were almost 10,000 times what is currently allowed in public areas.
People here believe the radiation caused a spike in numerous cancers among those who lived downwind of the site.
HENRY HERRERA: There isn’t a family in Tularosa, I will bet you 10 dollars to a doughnut, that don’t have somebody in their family with cancer, maybe one, two, maybe the whole family, you know?
GLORIA HERRERA: We were the first people that the atomic bomb was used on. We were the first Downwinders. The government came into our backyard and used us as guinea pigs. They experimented with us. And they left.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: The Hinkle family was one of the hardest-hit. Edna Kay Hinkle is a breast and skin cancer survivor. Her grandparents had a ranch 27 miles away from the blast site.
EDNA KAY HINKLE, Tularosa Resident: And my dad and his uncle were out there asleep on the front porch. And the — a bomb went off and woke them up. And they saw the mushroom. Every one of my grandparents’ kids were affected. Oh, there were 14 in that one family, you know, and then you add granny’s siblings, well, there’s 20 in one family. And that’s a lot of cancer.
MAYOR RAY CORDOVA, Tularosa: My brother died of cancer. My oldest son from my first marriage had a brain tumor. And it was a very rare tumor.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Ray Cordova is the mayor of Tularosa, which sits around 40 miles from ground zero, population about 3,000. He says the numbers affected by cancer are climbing.
Most Americans have family and friends who have battled cancer. One in two men, one in three women will contract the disease at some point over their lifetimes. But are cancer rates higher here in the towns and villages near the Trinity test site?
CHUCK WIGGINS, New Mexico Tumor Registry: So, if you like the analogy of a war on cancer, we are the people who are drawing the map for that war.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Chuck Wiggins heads the New Mexico Tumor Registry, and his data doesn’t show higher cancer rates in the area around the test site.
CHUCK WIGGINS: When you compare Anglos in the Trinity site area to Anglos in other parts of New Mexico, the rates are really quite similar, same with Hispanics and Natives. The rates really are — are quite similar to other parts in the state.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Wiggins says there is a link between radiation and certain cancers. But exposure can occur in many ways, for example, X-rays and other diagnostic tests, flying in airplanes, tanning or smoking cigarettes.
CHUCK WIGGINS: Cancer is one of the leading causes of illness and death in New Mexico. What I would say is, is that that’s true in Tularosa. It’s also true in Santa Fe County and many other counties throughout the state.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: But that argument doesn’t fly in Tularosa.
RAY CORDOVA: I do not believe that, not for one minute.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: Tina Cordova, the mayor’s niece and a thyroid cancer survivor, has organized the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium. They have collected health surveys from hundreds of people and compiled names of the dead. Gloria Herrera is one of the list-makers.
GLORIA HERRERA: What if I give you a list of 285 people that we know? We have attended their funerals. We have seen them. We have gone to take food to the families, 285 people that we know of, and there’s probably more.
TINA CORDOVA, Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium: Our goal has always been basically two things, number one, to get the government to acknowledge and apologize to the people in all of these small communities in and around Trinity, and, then, number two, to include us in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: That act passed by Congress in 1990 apologized and awarded $50,000 to $100,000 to miners and participants exposed to radiation in nearly 200 nuclear weapons tests. But Downwinders were only compensated in three states, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
GLORIA HERRERA: They forgot about New Mexico.
HENRY HERRERA: They didn’t do nothing about us.
GLORIA HERRERA: They forgot all about New Mexico.
HENRY HERRERA: Zilch. Nothing.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: It now will take a congressional amendment to change that, something Senator Tom Udall has worked on since he was elected to Congress in 1998. This year, on the anniversary of the Trinity test, he again urged his colleagues to make amends to the people of his state.
REP. TOM UDALL (D), New Mexico: They deserve justice. They deserve compensation. And they are still waiting, 70 years later, still waiting.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: People in Tularosa aren’t counting on getting a check from the government any time soon.
GLORIA HERRERA: There’s not enough money in this whole wide world to compensate the people in Tularosa. We could fill a lake with the tears and the prayers.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: At the White Sands Missile Range, an obelisk marks the spot where the bomb stood. The ranch house where it was assembled is two miles away. Tiny pieces of green glass litter the ground, melted sand that’s still slightly radioactive.
The National Cancer Institute is embarking on an assessment of what people ate and how they lived in an effort to determine how much radiation they got. But those results aren’t expected until at least 2017.
In Tularosa, there’s skepticism about a government study.
GLORIA HERRERA: The Cancer Institute is coming to question us 70 years later? What happened 10 years afterwards, 20?
WOMAN: Think about how many people we have lost this year.
TINA CORDOVA: I’m not certain we need more studies. In my mind, what we need to put money into is compensation, is health care, is screening, is helping people who need help.
KATHLEEN MCCLEERY: I’m Kathleen McCleery for the “PBS NewsHour” in Tularosa, New Mexico.
GWEN IFILL: The Trinity site is open to the public only twice a year, but you can take a tour with us in a slide show of images on our Web site. That’s at PBS.org/NewsHour.
And later tonight on PBS, a new film takes an in-depth look at the race to produce the first atomic bomb, the ethics of using a weapon that could end human civilization, and the lives of those who built it. “The Bomb” airs tonight on most PBS stations.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Hosting the Olympic Games has become a kind of Olympian feat in itself. Many cities have struggled with it, while others have said the outcome is well worth it.
But Boston’s ambivalence about hosting the Summer Games and the decision it announced yesterday is casting a fresh spotlight on these questions.
MAYOR MARTY WALSH, Boston: This is a commitment that I cannot make without assurances that Boston and its residents will be protected.
JUDY WOODRUFF: With that announcement yesterday, Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics came to an end. Mayor Marty Walsh:
MAYOR MARTY WALSH, Boston: I refuse to mortgage the future of the city away. I refuse to put Boston on the hook for overruns. And I refuse to commit to signing a guarantee that uses taxpayers’ dollars to pay for the Olympics.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The move follows a months-long multimillion-dollar campaign that preceded even January’s selection of Boston by the U.S. Olympic Committee as America’s candidate city. High-profile athletes with Boston ties made pitches, and planners envisioned venues spread across metro Boston and Massachusetts.
But the bid soured soon after Boston was picked. As Bostonians learned of the cost details, their support plummeted. In a statement yesterday, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s CEO, Scott Blackmun, said the USOC “does not think that level of support enjoyed by Boston’s bid would allow it to prevail over great bids from Paris, Rome, Hamburg, Budapest or Toronto.”
U.S. Olympic officials now have until September 15 to name a replacement candidate city. One possibility is Los Angeles, which hosted the Games in 1932 and 1984, and has already expressed interest.
The U.S. hasn’t hosted a Summer Olympics since Atlanta in 1996, or any Olympics since the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games. Boston’s doubts and decision underline the great costs borne by Olympic host cities. Rio de Janeiro, which will hold next year’s Summer Games, is spending about $12 billion on the event. And Russia spent upwards of $50 billion to organize the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
The question that many are asking in the wake of Boston is whether it ultimately is worth hosting the Games. There are various ways of measuring that.
And we get two different takes. George Hirthler has been a communications strategist for 10 Olympic campaigns, including Atlanta’s successful 1996 bid and Vancouver in 2010. And Andrew Zimbalist is a professor of economics at Smith College and author of the book “Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup.”
And we welcome both of you.
So, let’s talk about Boston first, Andrew Zimbalist, to you.
What would you add to what was just reported about what went wrong in Boston? Why were they chosen and then what fell apart?
ANDREW ZIMBALIST, Author “Circus Maximus”: I think, from the very beginning, when Boston was selected back in January — and, by the way, the USOC said they selected Boston because it was the most walkable of the four competitors.
Ever since the announcement was made that Boston was selected, the Boston ’24 Committee came out with a lot of incomplete and deceiving and misdirection-oriented information. And over the last several months, every couple of weeks, some new piece of information has been released that I think has lessened the trust of Bostonians and citizens of Massachusetts, who, after all, just a few years ago, went through the Big Dig construction in Boston, which was supposed to cost $2 billion and ended up costing over $20 billion.
JUDY WOODRUFF: George Hirthler, anything to add to that about what went wrong in Boston?
GEORGE HIRTHLER, Olympic Campaign Strategist: What went wrong, Judy, was the public narrative that was pretty much controlled by Professor Zimbalist and the cohort of — his cohort of colleagues at No Boston Olympics.
They kept the public conversation completely focused on the financial risks of the Games. So the public never had a chance to consider what it would be like to have athletes from 200 countries around the world living in an Olympic Village in their midst. The Games would have been extremely walkable for 90 percent of the fans who came into the Boston.
And because the economic argument prevailed and kept things going, a lot of fear was introduced. And bids don’t usually get their economic numbers really worked out until well into the international phase, which doesn’t even start in this race until September. Boston was at a great disadvantage in that regard.
It had gone through a domestic phase, and then you’re just looking at preliminary numbers. Professor Zimbalist and Chris Dempsey and the others came in attacked every single number and kept the public conversation completely focused on risk and fear.
And so the people never really had a chance to look at the overall benefits and aspects that might have been delivered in the Games.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I do want to move on to the larger question we raised here, but, Professor Zimbalist, let me give you an opportunity to respond.
ANDREW ZIMBALIST: I just want to thank George for making me out to be so powerful. I don’t think we had nearly that impact.
But, look, here’s the reality. Every single Olympic Games since 1960 that we have financial data for has had a cost overrun. The average cost overrun of the Summer Olympics since 1980 has been 3.5 times, which means, if you compare the initial bid numbers to the final numbers, you have to multiply them by 3.5.
They talk about that the last three Olympic Games in the United States were in surplus, in profit, they say. Well, in fact, there are three buckets of money that gets spent when you host the Olympics. The first bucket is the operations budget of the 17 days of the Games.
Then there is the venue budget, and then there is an infrastructure bucket. It’s true that the last three U.S. Games in the operations budget had a surplus. That doesn’t mean overall there’s a surplus. It doesn’t mean overall that there’s a lot of public money going into the Games.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, George Hirthler, do you want to respond to that? And then I do want to move on to this bigger question.
GEORGE HIRTHLER: Well, the obvious example that I can talk about — I’m no economist, but I can talk about the economics of Atlanta a little bit, anecdotally.
Since the flame went out in Atlanta, Judy — and, by the way, the venues were built out of marketing revenues in Atlanta. There wasn’t a separate bucket, as Professor Zimbalist has just said, for the development.
We built eight competitive competition venues for $520 million out of the marketing revenues for the Atlanta Games and still ended up with a profit. But since the flame went out in Atlanta, Judy, there’s been $3.2 million of investments around Centennial Olympic Park, which was not park of the original plan, that served as a catalyst for the economic redevelopment of downtown Atlanta.
Last year, we hopped the National Center for Civil and Human Rights right off the park, next to the World of Coke, next to the Georgia Aquarium, next to a lot of new hotels, condos, restaurants, and businesses, all of which came to Atlanta because of the Olympic Games.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So…
GEORGE HIRTHLER: Professor Zimbalist might also add in his comments that the Games don’t help raise the image of the city internationally.
Today, Atlanta has 18 Fortune 500 headquarters here. That’s up from 12 before the Games, because — primarily because of the image enhancement we got out of the Olympic Games.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I do want to broaden this out.
ANDREW ZIMBALIST: This reminds me of the story…
JUDY WOODRUFF: I do want to broaden this out, Andrew Zimbalist, though, and ask you, is your belief, is your argument that there’s a better model for deciding where these Games go, or that the U.S. shouldn’t be bidding for them, period?
ANDREW ZIMBALIST: I think it’s a very difficult proposition to come out economically neutral when you host these Games, very difficult.
Los Angeles obviously did it in 1984 under very special circumstances. I think Barcelona achieved some positive economic results from hosting in 1992, also because of some very special circumstances.
In terms — I wouldn’t say you should never bid. I think that it’s possible that a Los Angeles bid might make sense. They have most of the venue infrastructure and the transportation infrastructure already in place, so the amount of investment they would have to make would be quite small.
That’s something that we have to see when the plans develop and whether or not Mayor Garcetti is willing to sign the guarantee to the IOC that they will cover any cost overruns or revenue shortfalls.
JUDY WOODRUFF: George Hirthler, is there a better model, I guess, is the question I’m getting at here, because, clearly, some cities have struggled with the cost that is required to put these Games on, and there are real questions. There were questions in Boston. Is there a better model?
GEORGE HIRTHLER: There are new models, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Go ahead.
GEORGE HIRTHLER: There are going to be new models. And Boston would have invented a new model, I’m sure, in line with the Agenda 2020 reforms that the International Olympic Committee has recently begun to implement.
But forget that. There is a better story, and it’s the story of the Olympic movement and its value to our world. And you never hear about it in the economic, financial risk stories of the opponents of the Games. Right now, the Olympic movement is at work in 200 countries around the world 365 days a year, instilling the values of excellence, friendship and respect, respect for opponents, other cultures, differences in young children, millions of young children around the world.
In our world, we need a positive force like that at work around the world. They invest — the Olympic movement invests a billion dollars every year in the development of sport around the world. And that money flows directly from the sponsorships and broadcast rights that are sold for the cities that are hosting the Games.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me…
GEORGE HIRTHLER: So, the IOC draws money from these host cities in order to develop sport globally.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me…
GEORGE HIRTHLER: And I would like to know what the value of the development of sport, giving kids to a chance to choose sport everywhere, what’s the economic development of that?
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, let me just quickly turn in the little bit of time we have left to Andrew Zimbalist.
What about this bigger benefit that you hear Mr. Hirthler describing? Why doesn’t that outweigh some of the economic questions that you’re focused on?
ANDREW ZIMBALIST: Look, the Olympic movement is a good thing. Olympic values is a good thing. Nobody is contesting that.
The issue that we’re talking about is whether or not it makes economic sense for cities to host the Olympic Games, whether or not it pays off for them to do that. And all of the academic literature, all of the serious, unpaid-for literature finds that it’s not a good investment for cities to make.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right.
ANDREW ZIMBALIST: That’s the argument that I’m representing here.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, we’re going to have to leave it there.
We thank you both for joining us, Andrew Zimbalist and George Hirthler.
GEORGE HIRTHLER: Thank you, Judy.
ANDREW ZIMBALIST: Thank you.
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GWEN IFILL: After years of debate, the Boy Scouts of America voted last night to end a ban on adult leaders who are openly gay. The policy still would allow church-sponsored Scout units to maintain an exclusion for religious reasons. The Scouts decided two years ago to allow openly gay youth.
Several religious organizations are either apprehensive or oppose the new policy, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which sponsors more Scout troops than any other denomination. Mormon leaders said in a statement they will reexamine their ties to the Boy Scouts. “The church,” they said, “has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation. However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.”
We invited several religious organizations to appear tonight, but they declined.
Zach Wahls is the executive director of Scouts for Equality.
Thank you for joining us, and welcome.
So, how big a deal is this? We have seen this coming bit by bit for a time.
ZACH WAHLS, Scouts for Equality: This is an historic step by the Boy Scouts of America.
They first implemented this policy in 1978, 37 years ago, and for them to go from that policy, which they adopted in the ’70s, to voting last night to end the ban, even though there is a religious exemption, as you mentioned, is still a pretty big chapter for the Boy Scouts to be moving on to.
GWEN IFILL: So, how did it happen? We heard Robert Gates, who used to be secretary of defense and is now the head of the Boy Scouts, say that this was — maintaining the old policy was no longer sustainable. What does that mean, sustainable?
ZACH WAHLS: Well, I think, in this context, Gates was referring to the fact that the Boy Scouts’ policy was under essentially assault from both legal challenges that were being placed in New York and in Colorado, but also the fact that this is the kind of ban that is going to create stories that will really illustrate the damage that the ban was creating.
For example, in April of 2012, Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian den mother from Bridgeport, Ohio, was thrown out of her Cubs Scout troop.
Earlier this year, we finally heard from — in New York that a gentleman had been hired to work in their summer camp, which is the first time that has ever happened. Up until this point, the Boy Scouts had refused to hire gay adults.
GWEN IFILL: But you’re talking anecdotally. How widespread an impact will this really have on the culture of Scouting?
ZACH WAHLS: Well, it’s really difficult to say without — with specificity, simply because we don’t have reliable polling data.
But what we do know is that since James Dale, who was a gay assistant Scout master from New Jersey, was removed from the Boy Scouts in 1990, and his challenge to the Boy Scouts would later become the Supreme Court case Dale v. BSA, the Boy Scouts have seen a precipitous decline in their membership since 1990.
GWEN IFILL: In coming to this agreement, the Boy Scouts agreed to allow for exemptions essentially for religious organizations. Is that something that you find that acceptable?
ZACH WAHLS: Our position has always been that discrimination at any level sends a harmful message to youth, gay or straight alike, and that discrimination has no place in Scouting.
All the same, I think it’s important to recognize that this is a big change for the Boy Scouts and it makes sense that they’re going to have to find a compromise with their religious partners.
GWEN IFILL: So big organizations, churches, Mormons that we described earlier, if they decide to just pull out of Boy Scouting entirely, doesn’t that undermine Scouting itself?
ZACH WAHLS: I want to be very clear. We hope the Mormons don’t leave.
Our belief has always been that Scouting is stronger when it has a more diverse representation in its members. And we think that the Mormons should stay, as well as the Catholics, the Baptists. Our position has never been that people should be forced out of Scouting. We have always said that the values of Scouting are universal they should be welcome to everyone who is willing to live by the Scout oath and the Scout law.
GWEN IFILL: So that means that conversations will continue between you and people who agree with you and with these church organizations?
ZACH WAHLS: Absolutely.
GWEN IFILL: In what way? Has it begun already? Have there been discussions?
ZACH WAHLS: We have already heard from faith groups that are going to be coming back to the Boy Scouts. Those include the Unitarian Universalist Association, which announced today that they are going to be trying to reestablish a relationship with the Boy Scouts.
They left after the Supreme Court decision that upheld the Boy Scouts’ gay ban. We’re also reaching out to other organizations, including the Union for Reform Judaism. We hope that the United Church of Christ will increase its commitment to the Boy Scouts. We’re very excited about building a stronger, more inclusive Boy Scouts moving forward.
GWEN IFILL: What do you say to people who say that whether it’s a Scout member or a Scout leader, that their sexuality just shouldn’t be an issue in these cases?
ZACH WAHLS: I agree sexuality absolutely shouldn’t be an issue. And that’s why we thought that the ban had to end.
I have got two moms, Jackie and Terry. I don’t know if they’re watching at home, but they were able to be a small part of my Scout experience growing up because we happened to live in a progressive community, where their involvement wasn’t an issue.
But in places like Bridgeport, Ohio, where Jennifer Tyrrell is, it clearly was an issue. And no parent should be denied from their Scouting — their son’s Scouting experience simply because those parents happen to be gay.
GWEN IFILL: Zach Wahls, executive director of Scouts for Equality, thank you for joining us.
ZACH WAHLS: Thanks, Gwen.
The post What dropping the ban on gay leaders means for the Boy Scouts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Lawyers for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard announced today that the U.S. government will be granting the 60-year-old parole. The former Naval intelligence analyst was convicted of selling classified information to Israel, and has been in prison for nearly 30 years. Israeli leaders have been asking for Pollard’s release for decades.
Reporter Devlin Barrett has been covering the story for The Wall Street Journal and he joins me now.
And welcome back to the program.
DEVLIN BARRETT, The Wall Street Journal: Hi. Thanks.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Devlin, remind us who Jonathan Pollard is and why he was sent to prison for life?
DEVLIN BARRETT: He was sentenced to life after — in 1985, he was arrested and charged with passing suitcases full of classified documents from his work at the Navy to the Israelis. And it was an amazing case in a lot of ways, because, you know, the U.S. is very close to Israel.
And, traditionally speaking, the U.S. view is that nations that are this close don’t spy on each other this aggressively. So, when he was sentenced in ’87, he received a life sentence. And, basically, that set off a decade of disagreement and pressure from Israel to release him before he died.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, he pleaded guilty.
DEVLIN BARRETT: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what was the argument by Israel that he should be released?
DEVLIN BARRETT: Well, the argument has always been, you know, he was spying for an ally. He didn’t actually harm U.S. national security, the same way a spy for the Soviet Union would, because those secrets were taken by a friendly nation.
I think one of the quirks of the Pollard case is that, in a lot of spy cases, we will swap them for our own agents that we want back. For Pollard, unluckily, I guess, there was really no one ever to swap for him, and so that’s part of the reason why he’s remained in prison all this time.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How much is known, Devlin, about what was in the material that he took and gave to Israel?
DEVLIN BARRETT: The defense secretary at the time, Caspar Weinberger, said he could not imagine a case that did more harm to national security.
I think there is some debate within the intelligence community about that, because certainly spies like Aldrich Ames are credited with giving up information that directly led to deaths of agents, that got people killed. That has been an issue of a debate around Pollard, but no one has — the government has never come forward and really explicitly made that accusation against him.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, today, the U.S. Parole Board is saying that there is no connection between this decision to let him out in November and what’s going on with Iran, the Israelis, obviously, very upset with the U.S. deal on nuclear weapons with Iran.
You talked to U.S. officials, though, who give you a somewhat different spin.
DEVLIN BARRETT: Right. I spoke to multiple U.S. officials who said they believe there is some connection, that that’s not the sole reason, but that’s part of the thinking behind releasing him now.
I will say that Obama administration officials adamantly deny that as being in any way related to a foreign policy consideration. What’s sort of funny about that is that, if that were true, this would be probably the first time in this man’s life in maybe 30 years that he wasn’t part of a foreign policy discussion.
He’s basically been a human bargaining chip for the last 20 years.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what — is this supposed to have an effect on, a salutary effect on U.S.-Israeli relations?
DEVLIN BARRETT: I think it could, but I think anyone who thinks that this will significantly affect the way Israel views the Iran deal is mistaken, that it may create some goodwill just in the general Israeli population, maybe even among Israeli leaders.
But, in the end, the Iran deal is bigger than Pollard. As important as Pollard may be to Israel, the Iran deal is simply bigger than Pollard.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And what happens to Jonathan Pollard once he gets out of prison?
DEVLIN BARRETT: Well, he very much wants to go to Israel. Israel granted him citizenship in 1995. The U.S. government has to decide whether to let him do that.
His lawyers have said, if he can’t leave the country, which is sometimes a condition of parole, he will move to the New York area.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And — but that has to be worked out?
DEVLIN BARRETT: That’s still to be worked out. And his official release date is November, so there’s a little time to work that out still.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Devlin Barrett with The Wall Street Journal, we thank you.
DEVLIN BARRETT: Thank you.
The post Is there a connection between Pollard release timing and Iran deal? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
GWEN IFILL: NATO ambassadors convened a rare emergency meeting today in Brussels on the Islamic State threat in Turkey, after a string of attacks. Representatives from 28 nations gathered at NATO headquarters for the special session, at Turkey’s request.
Afterward, the alliance’s secretary-general spoke to reporters.
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO Secretary-General: All allies stand in solidarity with Turkey. We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks. We express our condolences to the Turkish government and to the families of the victims in Suruc and other attacks against police and military officers.
GWEN IFILL: At the same time, Turkey faced more violence from Kurdish militants. A Turkish soldier was shot in the head near the border with Iraq. In retaliation, Turkish jets hit Kurdish rebel sites in the southeast.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the peace process with Kurds is on hold for now.
PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Turky (through interpreter): I don’t think it’s possible to continue a peace process with those who take aim at our national security and brotherhood. There should have been national unity and brotherhood. Brotherhood comes above the peace process.
GWEN IFILL: The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, said the airstrikes against them rendered the peace process meaningless. But they stopped short of formally pulling out. The PKK and its affiliates are part of the effort to fight ISIS in Syria.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Obama administration officials today made their second pitch to Congress over the Iran nuclear deal, this time before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: There are conclusions that have been drawn that just don’t in fact match with the reality of what this deal sets forth.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary of State John Kerry began his testimony well aware he would face challenging questions from lawmakers over the nuclear deal with Iran. He was joined by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
Committee Chairman Ed Royce claimed the deal, which lifts sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program, would only strengthen Tehran.
REP. ED ROYCE (R), California: If this agreement goes through, Iran gets a cash bonanza, a boost to its international standing, and a lighted path toward nuclear weapons.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Kerry, as he has repeatedly, equated walking away from the deal to giving Iran a fast track to the bomb, but he had a hard time making his points.
JOHN KERRY: You know, we hear these complaints. We hear, well, this agreement doesn’t do this. It doesn’t stop their terror. This agreement’s going to give them some money. This agreement’s going to do this. What this agreement is supposed to do is stop them from having a nuclear weapon.
Now, I want to hear somebody tell me how they’re going to do that without this agreement. What’s the next step for the United States? Nobody’s answering that question.
JUDY WOODRUFF: At times, Kerry was visibly frustrated as lawmakers peppered him with their doubts about the deal.
MAN: Your time has expired.
MAN: I have suggested to the members ask the questions and leave time for response.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Members from both parties also expressed concern over the fates of four Americans in Iran, three held by the regime, one whereabouts unknown, and over Iran’s support for militant groups.
REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), California: They are supporting Hamas, Hezbollah and Houthi, and those are just the organizations that begin with the letter H.
MAN: We stand adjourned.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Congress began a 60-day review period on the deal last week, and Secretary Kerry leaves later this week for the Middle East to discuss the agreement with Arab allies.
The deal did pick up critical support today from Democratic Representative Sander Levin of Michigan. He’s Jewish and a strong supporter of Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the agreement a historic mistake.
GWEN IFILL: In his last day on the continent, President Obama pushed African leaders to do their part to make Africa more stable and economically attractive. During a speech to the African Union meeting in Ethiopia, the president called on his counterparts to support human rights, prioritize job creation and clean up corruption.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, United States: Nothing will unlock Africa’s economic potential more than ending the cancer of corruption. When someone has to pay a bribe just to start a business or go to school or get an official to do the job they are supposed to be doing anyway, that’s not the African way. It undermines the dignity of the people you represent.
GWEN IFILL: The president also said, nobody should be president for life, remarks aimed at African leaders who have held onto power long after their terms expire.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The son of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was sentenced to death by firing squad today in Tripoli. Saif al-Islam Gadhafi was convicted of war crimes committed during the 2011 uprising that forced his father out of office. Gadhafi’s son wasn’t in the courtroom when the ruling was handed down. He’s been held for four years by a militia in Western Libya that has refused to hand him over.
GWEN IFILL: Back in this country, an Upstate New York prison worker pleaded guilty today to helping two killers escape. Joyce Mitchell wept as she entered her plea today in Plattsburgh. The former prison tailor admitted to smuggling hacksaw blades and other tools to the men inside frozen hamburger meat.
Richard Matt and David Sweat’s daring prison break last month triggered a three-week manhunt. Mitchell could face up to seven years in prison. Her sentencing is set for late September.
JUDY WOODRUFF: More than 1,000 scientists and tech experts warned today of the danger of an artificial intelligence arms race. In an open letter, the signatories called for a ban on autonomous weapons that are beyond meaningful human control. Technology could make robots on battlefields a reality within years, not decades. Stephen Hawking, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, were among those who signed the letter.
GWEN IFILL: Archaeologists in Jamestown, Virginia, have discovered the remains of four of the first colonial leaders in America. Their burial sites were discovered two years ago in the earthen floor near the altar of what’s left of America’s first Protestant church. The men were buried between 1608 and 1610 alongside various artifacts, a rare practice at the time. It included a small silver box with bone fragments and a holy water container, a mysterious Catholic find for the Anglican religion of the colony.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The National Football League officially has its first female coach. The Arizona Cardinals hired 37-year-old Jen Welter to coach inside linebackers during their preseason training camp. Welter, who has a Ph.D. in psychology, previously coached and played for the men’s professional indoor football league’s Texas Revolution team.
GWEN IFILL: The four-game suspension against New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will stand. He was suspended by the league for his role in using underinflated footballs during last season’s AFC Championship Game. Brady and the team have denied the charges. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also said today Brady had his cell phone destroyed on the day he was due to meet with an independent investigator in the Deflategate scandal.
JUDY WOODRUFF: A wave of strong corporate earnings reports coupled with a rise in the price of oil boosted stocks on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 189 points to close at 17630. The Nasdaq rose 49 points and the S&P 500 added 25.
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Why the red face, bald uakari monkey? Are you hot? Are you embarrassed that your Amazonian treemate isn’t wearing any clothes? Or are you sick?
A new study in Royal Society Open Science opts for choice #3. By scanning the skin architecture of bald uakari monkeys, the scientists argue that the primates’ red faces serve as an indicator of health status.
There are a couple of ways to change skin color. The first involves melanin, a natural colored pigment made by the body. This pigment sits in microscopic pouches in the skin, called granules, and helps protect against damaging UV rays. Mild sun exposure causes the skin to produce more of these melanin granules as a defensive shield. The result is a tan.
Blood flow is a second route for darkening skin. When extra blood cells course into the skin, it turns red. Such is the case when people get sunburns. Excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays causes damage and inflammation in the skin, which widens vessels and ups the blood flow. The same happens when you blush after being embarrassed, though the trigger in that case is a hormone — adrenaline — rather than sun rays. The intensity of the redness depends on how much oxygen is carried by the blood.
To explore which option accounts for red faces in Amazonian primates, an international group of veterinarians and scientists collected skin specimens from deceased monkeys in the jungles of Peru. The primates had either died of natural of causes or been hunted for food by the local indigenous people. “No animals were killed specifically for the research, and hunters were never paid to collect samples,” the scientists write.
In the end, the team compared skin specimens from two red uakari monkeys (Cacajao calvus ucayalii) against two Poeppig’s woolly monkeys (Lagothrix poepigii), two monk sakis (Pithecia monachus), two brown capuchin monkeys (Sapajus macrocephalus) and one howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus).
The researchers found that the red faces of uakari monkeys are caused by a higher density of blood vessels located just underneath the surface of the skin. This trait is especially true for the uakari monkey’s cheeks and forehead, which have four times as many blood vessels per square millimeter as primates without red faces. The facial skin of uakari monkeys is also 60 to 70 percent thinner than other monkeys, meaning when their blood vessels are full, the redness seems more pronounced versus regular primates.
With regards to melanin, there is none. The researchers didn’t spot any melanin granules in the facial skin of red uakari monkeys.
The team argues that if facial hue is tied to blood flow, then it might serve as a beacon for when a monkey is sick with blood parasites. As evidence, they reference a study that showed uakari faces turn white when they’re infected with the South American germ Trypanosoma cruzi. Another theory suggests that the red faces help the monkeys choose a mate, as blushing in mammals is tied to sexual hormones like estrogen and testosterone.
It will take more research to explain why these faces are red and if subtle changes in hue are cues for certain behaviors. But for now, we know the how.
Editor’s Note: Journalist Philip Moeller, who writes widely on health and retirement, is here to provide the Medicare answers you need in “Ask Phil, the Medicare Maven.” Send your questions to Phil.
Trustees of the Medicare and Social Security programs released their annual reports last week, detailing their operations during 2014 and their outlook for the future. As is the case with these reports nearly every year, they occasioned mass amnesia. Politicians, lobbying groups, and the news media all appeared to forget that 2013’s report (and the ones before that) essentially said the same thing.
And yet, breathless news accounts were written as if these two reports had last been issued in 1914. Conservative and progressive interest groups responded with their traditional dances in front of their respective microphones to lament either the profligacy of these programs or the stone-cold values of those who would even think of trimming benefits.
Politicians, of course, travel with their microphones in a mutually dependent embrace. They stepped up as well, particularly Jeb Bush, who spoke of the need for reforming Medicare and was immediately eviscerated by a large school of liberal piranha. That’ll teach him to attempt a nuanced discussion. Yet, is there really anyone, liberal or conservative, who doesn’t think Medicare is in need of change?
GOT MEDICARE QUESTIONS?
In Factland, by contrast, there was modest news in the reports, even allowing for the lax standards of a summer day in Washington. The Medicare trust fund, which everyone thinks is very important but really isn’t that important, is projected to cease being able to pay out all its benefit obligations by the year 2030. This is the same year as was projected in last year’s report.
The reason the Medicare trust fund is not that important is that it covers only hospital expenses incurred under Part A of Medicare. Meanwhile, Parts B (doctors and outpatient expenses) and D (prescription drugs) have more or less a blank check from Uncle Sam to cover most of their expenses every year. Even Part C (Medicare Advantage) gets a federal subsidy.
Descending a wee bit into the statistical weeds here, it turns out that the Part A shortfall was only a bit more than $15 billion last year. This was the gap between Part A spending and what consumers forked over in Part A payroll taxes and other taxes on Part A benefits. In Parts B and D, by contrast, consumer insurance premiums totaled only $77 billion versus benefits spending of nearly $340 billion. Nearly all of the difference was funded by general Treasury revenues. That’s why the headlines about the Part A trust fund are misguided.
Social Security has two trust funds — one for retirement and one for disability benefits, respectively. The disability fund is in crisis and is projected to run out of money in 2016. In last year’s report, the disability fund was projected to run out of money in — you guessed it — 2016.
There was a smidgen of good news in the Social Security report. The retirement trust fund now is projected to run out of money in 2035 — one year later than in last year’s report. The long-run deficit in the program was also trimmed a bit, but nearly no news accounts dwelled much on that.
Perhaps the biggest news is that Part B premiums will run amuck next year for a sizable minority of beneficiaries. Part B premiums are designed to cover only about a quarter of program expenses (the rest comes from the blank check I mentioned earlier). Normally, everyone’s part B premiums would increase to come up with that 25-percent share. If that was the case next year, the report said, everyone’s premium would rise, from this year’s base level of $104.90 a month to $120.70. This is a big hike and is driven by higher-than-expected increases in the government’s Part B expenses.
But in the Rube Goldberg world that passes for Medicare and Social Security governance, there is a “hold harmless” rule that says the government can’t raise Part B premiums on existing beneficiaries if their Social Security benefits don’t also increase. Because there has been so little inflation in the past year, it looks like there will be no cost of living adjustment (COLA) next year for Social Security benefits. So, ipso whatever, these folks can’t be pegged with higher Part B premiums.
This will load the entire burden of required beneficiary Part B payment onto roughly 30 percent of beneficiaries, a group that includes wealthier folks and those who will be new to Medicare next year. So, 70 percent of beneficiaries will still pay $104.90 a month (or more if they have higher incomes). But the Part B premiums of the other 30 percent could soar by more than 50 percent, the report said — from a base level of $104.90 a month this year to as much as $159.30 next year. Welcome to Medicare, you newbies!
While the trustee reports fade from the headlines and public consciousness, I want to share with you a note I got last week from Marie in Alaska. She should have been up on the podium last week with Medicare and Social Security trustees. It’s her report — not theirs — that we should keep in mind as we continue to fail in any meaningful way to put these critical senior support programs on sustainable trajectories.
Seniors face many issues on Medicare. There are too many doctors who won’t accept Medicare patients or new Medicare patients. There is a lack of wellness care. Medicare will only cover consultation with a nutritionist if one already has diabetes or kidney failure. Regular consultations with a nutritionist could prevent many cases of diabetes and kidney failure. Medicare covers a chiropractor to crack a back, but not a massage therapist. Many people would receive greater health benefit from a massage than a back cracking. That vision, dental, and hearing care is not covered just leads to people becoming less healthy, less independent, and less able to contribute to society.
I hope to see these kinds of issues addressed. I am 67 and am trying to be fiscally responsible and physically healthy. I pay for Medicare Part B, a supplemental plan [Medigap], and Part D out of Social Security income of $700 a month. I have no TV and do not travel. I hardly ever see a doctor. I had to pay $2,000 for a root canal, and I neglect my eyes, which are important to me. I asked to see a nutritionist but was told Medicare would not cover it. I am proud to be able to pay for my own food and do the best I can, but the Medicare program needs to be improved to attend to more than medical emergencies and the dying.
I wrote back to Marie and suggested any number of programs that Medicare provides to help pay for drugs and other care that is covered by Medicare. Her response:
I have some savings so my assets don’t qualify me for extra help. I could spend them down in a flash. But what person who values their independence and wants to retain some dignity would want to spend down their savings? All we really want is some good preventive care to stay healthy and the opportunity to manage our own lives with a low income and limited assets as best as possible.
I will ask Marie each and every year from now on for her annual report on the status of Medicare and Social Security. If we can make life better for the Maries of the world, then we just might be on the right track.
The post What the annual Medicare and Social Security reports miss appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Watch a report about the Jewish community in Morocco, not as vibrant as it once was.
For many people, Judaism in the Middle East conjures images of discord. But the Islamic nation of Morocco is an exception — it’s a place where Jews are not just tolerated but embraced in some circles as an important part of the country’s history and culture.
Even before the arrival of Islam in Morocco, Jews called this North African coastal nation their home. About 400 years ago, the Moroccan Jewish community forged a strong connection and alliance with the country’s ruling dynasty, the Alaouites.
In the 20th century, persecutions across Europe brought new waves of Jewish immigrants to Morocco seeking safe haven. Their hope was not in vain — in 1940, when the Nazi-controlled French government in Morocco issued anti-Semitic decrees, the Alaouite Sultan Mohammed V rejected the racist laws.
In one oft-repeated story, he refused to ask his Jewish subjects to wear the yellow stars. “There are no Jews in Morocco,” he reportedly said. “There are only subjects.”
Today in Morocco, Jews enjoy equal rights and privileges. One of King Mohammed VI’s senior advisers, André Azoulay, is Jewish. Morocco also has state-funded Jewish schools and Jewish religious courts.
At the Jewish courts, called Bet Din, civil cases are heard and adjudicated by rabbis. Morocco’s Bet Din is the only such Jewish court system outside Israel, officially recognized as an alternative legal body and housed within the same complex as Muslim courts.
Despite the tolerant atmosphere, Morocco’s Jewish population is steadily decreasing. Although Moroccan Jews are largely free from the persecution and animosity that they may face in other Muslim nations, there was a series of suicide bombings on May 16, 2003 in Casablanca that targeted sites of Jewish life and killed three Jews.
Moroccan Jews have been flowing to Israel, Europe and the Americas for religious reasons, fear of persecution and to better their economic situation. At its height in the 1940s, Morocco’s Jewish population exceeded 250,000; today, only about 4,000 remain.
The Jewish community has mostly abandoned its formerly vibrant existence in Moroccan cities like Tangier, Fez, Salé and Tetouan. Only the city of Casablanca maintains a significant population and is now the center of Moroccan Jewish life.
Casablanca boasts 17 active synagogues, three Jewish schools, an extensive Jewish museum, and a community center that cares for the sick and elderly. But the mellahs (Jewish quarters) of other Moroccan cities stand empty or repurposed.
Because of the mass exodus, some in Morocco are racing to preserve the country’s Jewish culture and community. At the Jewish Museum in Casablanca, which is the only one in the Arab world, Muslim curator Zhor Rehihil is passing on the history of Morocco’s Jews to all who visit.
And American scholar Vanessa Paloma has launched KHOYA, an oral archive of Jewish sounds, songs and interviews that she hopes to one day make available to all Moroccans. “Even with all the imperfections that exist here, what Morocco has is amazing. I don’t want the future to lose that. I feel that it is imperative, it is our responsibility,” she said.
For Paloma, preservation is the answer. “In the next 20, 30 or 40 years, will the Jewish community still be here and thriving? I hope so. But we don’t know.”
This article and video were produced through the GlobalBeat program at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. Credits: Madeline Gressel, writer/reporter; Zoe Lake, correspondent; Siyi Chen and Kesley Doyle, camera/ editor; Khadija Boukharfane, field producer.
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WASHINGTON — The House and Senate are moving toward passage of a three-month patch to keep federal highway and transit aid flowing to states while lawmakers seek the right mix of policy and revenue to achieve a long-term transportation deal.
The House is expected to take up the short-term, $8 billion bill on Wednesday before leaving town for Congress’ August recess. The Senate plans to take up the House bill later in the week, but before a midnight Friday deadline when authority for the Department of Transportation to process aid payments to states will expire.
Lawmakers said they were loath to take up yet another short-term transportation funding extension — this will be the 34th extension since 2009. But Republicans and Democrats don’t want to see transportation aid cut off, and they are eager to pass an amendment attached to the extension bill that fills a $3.4 billion hole in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ budget. The money gap threatens to force the closure of hospitals and clinics nationwide.
Before taking up the short-term extension, Senate GOP leaders say they are determined to first pass their own sweeping, six-year transportation bill. The $350 billion bill would make changes to highway, transit, railroad and auto safety programs, but only provides enough funds for the first three years.
The bill also renews the Export-Import Bank, which makes low-interest loans to help U.S. companies sell their products overseas. The bank’s charter expired on June 30 in the face of opposition from conservatives, who call it corporate welfare.
Senate GOP leaders have been struggling to complete work on their long-term transportation bill before the August recess in the hope that the House would pass it and send it to the White House. But their Republican counterparts in the House have made it clear they won’t be hurried into accepting the Senate measure.
“The House also needs to make its voice heard and put forth its own priorities for such a significant piece of legislation,” Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in a statement.
It has been a decade since Congress last passed a 6-year transportation bill even though lawmakers in both parties generally support highway and transit aid. The difficulty has been finding the money to pay for programs in a way that doesn’t increase the federal deficit.
For decades, highway and transit programs were paid for with gas tax revenues and other transportation taxes and fees. But the federal 18.4 cents a gallon gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1993 while the cost of construction has risen. The gas tax brings in about $35 billion a year for highway programs, but the government is spending about $50 billion. President Barack Obama and many lawmakers say even $50 billion is far too little.
Congress could raise the gas tax, but lawmakers fear a voter backlash. Obama and House Republican leaders want to change corporate tax laws that encourage U.S. companies to park profits overseas and use the resulting revenue to fully pay for a 6-year transportation bill.
But there is no consensus on the details of the corporate tax changes, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he’s skeptical they “can be shoehorned into a multiyear highway bill by the end of the year.”
Associated Press writer Erica Werner contributed to this report.
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WASHINGTON — An effort by a conservative Republican to strip House Speaker John Boehner of his position as the top House leader is largely symbolic, but is a sign of discontent among the more conservative wing of the House GOP.
On Tuesday, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who was disciplined earlier this year by House leadership, filed a resolution to vacate the chair, an initial procedural step.
The proposal was referred to a committee stocked with leadership loyalists, and it is unlikely to emerge. The move, however, reflected the discontent, whose members have been frustrated with leaders’ willingness to compromise on some legislation.
The resolution said Boehner, R-Ohio, “has endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making, bypassing the majority of the 435 Members of Congress and the people they represent.”
Meadows told reporters that he hoped his action prompted a “discussion” with Boehner and other House leaders “about representing the American people. It’s about fairness.”
Meadows said he wants Boehner and other GOP leaders to make sure that “every voice and every vote is respected, and votes of conscience are respected and not punished.”
The acrimony within the Republican Party has been on stark display in Congress. Last Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., of lying about votes. And more Republican infighting broke out Monday night as an email from an aide to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, suggested that conservative groups should take Lee’s fellow Republicans to task if they opposed him on a legislative maneuver to advance a repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Lee’s move angered Republicans, and Lee sought to contain the damage, telling colleagues in a closed-door meeting that he hadn’t authorized the email.
The resolution Meadows filed accused the speaker of causing “the power of Congress to atrophy, thereby making Congress subservient to the Executive and Judicial branches, diminishing the voice of the American People.” And it said Boehner “uses the power of the office to punish members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the speaker.”
Last month, the leadership briefly stripped Meadows of his subcommittee chairmanship over his votes in a move supported by Boehner, but later relented after conservatives objected.
Boehner’s office had no comment. He is in his third term as speaker.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., dismissed the resolution and Meadows’ move.
“You don’t raise any money, you need a way to raise money, you do gimmicks like this,” said Nunes, who is close to Boehner.
Meadows disputed that claim.
“This is really more about an issue of fairness. It is not about raising money” for re-election, said Meadows, a two-term lawmaker who was elected in the tea party-backed 2010 class and represents the western tip of North Carolina.
Some GOP lawmakers backing leadership voiced concern that by keeping his effort to depose Boehner alive during the August recess, it would blunt the Republican effort to focus voters on why President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is bad.
“There’s been no one that’s been stronger on the Iran message. And to suggest we can only have one message when we go back home to talk to the American people would be to imply that our town halls can only have one question,” Meadows said.
Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., who has experienced the wrath of the leadership and is a Boehner foe, complained that the leaders are “not listening to the American people.” He faulted leaders for not allowing quick votes against same-sex marriage and federal money for Planned Parenthood.
“He just has the courage to do something about it,” Jones said of Meadows.
Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this story.
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Snap-click, ahh, gulp. It’s a familiar sound at a barbecue, an ingredient in summertime nostalgia. Who doesn’t crave a fizzy drink on a hot summer day?
Indeed, sales of carbonated water have seen a sharp incline over the past half decade, increasing by 56.4 percent from 2009 to 2014, according to the market research firm, Euromonitor International. Sales of La Croix alone, the trendy carbonated water in a can, have tripled to $179 million since 2009, the Washington Post reports.
But why? What’s happening in our mouth when we guzzle fizzy drinks? Why are we drawn to carbonation?
“The main component of carbonation sensation is the pain,” said Paul Wise, a scientist at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. Scientists like Wise have studied the interplay of gas and bubbles on the human taste system.
The slightly painful quality of the drink — its bite — is thanks to a receptor found on our tongues. This receptor, called TRPA1, detects sour tastes, among other things.
Sour receptors protect us from hazardous chemicals like the hydrogen peroxide found in cleaning supplies — our tongues are designed to taste danger. They also give seltzer its bite. It’s the carbon dioxide in carbonated drinks that triggers these sour receptors.
Carbon dioxide – the bubbles in our beverage – enters the mouth and dissolves into oral tissue. A protein in the mouth, called carbonic anhydrase, converts carbon dioxide into acid. The TRPA1 receptor detects the acid and sends a message to the brain.
The degree to which this receptor is stimulated may determine whether the signal is interpreted as pleasure or pain. Such a theory could explain our varying response to the cinnamon flavor, which also excites TRPA1. We happily chew Big Red gum, but consuming large amounts of cinnamon — known in pop culture as the cinnamon challenge — is painful, and extremely dangerous.
In fact, the body mounts a defense response when many TRPA1 receptors are activated, Wise said.
“At higher levels [of stimulation], in addition to sensation, you’ll get physiological defense responses designed to dilute and clear – so that is increased saliva, coughing, sneezing, tearing and also respiratory reactions.”
Pain sensors that detect harmful gases are also found in your nose. But the skin of the tongue and the mucous in the nose are different as they relate to carbon dioxide, said Bruce Bryant, a scientist also at the Monell Chemical Senses Center.
In the case of the tongue, carbon dioxide has a thick layer of cells to get through before it reaches the receptor. But in the nose, that layer is thin. This is why a belch can burn in our noses — the nasal cavities are more sensitive to the carbon dioxide that gurgles back up.
Which brings us back to the bubbles. What role do the bubbles play in the bite? Researchers tested this by asking people to drink carbonated drinks in a hyperbaric chamber, where controlled atmospheric pressure removes the bubbles, but not the carbon dioxide, from the drink. Without the bubbles, they found, participants still taste the bite.
Not true for mountain climbers who take carbonic anhydrase inhibitors to avoid altitude sickness, which keeps the bubbles, but removes the bite. Such medicine prevents carbon dioxide from becoming an acid and stimulating TRPA1. The adventurers described their victory beverages as dishwater-y, according to a researcher interviewed in this NPR segment. (This taste could be due to more than just the lack of acid, Bryant adds. The medicine “plays havoc with your taste system.)
Scientists have also found that bubbles increase the perception of sourness. Bryant and colleagues collected evidence showing that bubbles can enhance the pungency of carbonation. Even when paired with sugary drinks, bubbles can actually decrease a drinker’s perception of sweetness. A study published on July 10 in Neuropsychologia showed that foods with rougher textures are rated as more sour.
But Bryant thinks that seltzer’s success may be thanks to it’s “refreshing” taste, which he defines as “some combination of cooling and clean mouth feel.” Mucins are proteins in the mouth that reduce friction between oral surfaces, like your tongue and teeth. Astringent drinks, like lemonade or tannin-heavy wine, wash out mucins and give that clean-mouth feeling.
And just like all cold beverages, chilled seltzer stimulates nerves that detect cooler temperatures. “The cooling may interact to reduce or change the quality of the pungency that you get out of carbon dioxide,” Bryant said. From personal experience, we probably all agree that seltzer cans left in the sun are less refreshing on a hot day than the chilled version.
By the way, only a small amount of the fizz released from a bottled beverage makes it into the stomach. Despite concerns that have been raised, research shows that carbon dioxide doesn’t cause gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastrointestinal cancer or bone disease. And while sugars and other acids found in sodas can contribute to tooth decay, carbon dioxide alone doesn’t have a significant impact on oral health.
Seltzer scientists agree that our love for carbonation and other pain-inducing foods like chili peppers is learned.
“A lot of kids take a while to develop a taste; I saw it with my own kids,” Wise said.
And interestingly, animals in the lab reject carbonated drinks, Bryant said.
Children develop strong flavor associations. Consider spicy desserts: Habanero jam, kiwi salsa, or ghost pepper brownies. Pair the spice of a hot chili with a pleasurable carbohydrate like sugar, and over time you develop a preference for the painful taste.
This may be true for seltzer and soda too. Today’s carbonated soda does pack a lot of sugar — just over ten sugar cubes. And many of us start with soda and graduate to seltzer water.
But would we love seltzer if we’d never loved soda?
As yesterday’s soda drinkers enter today’s low-sugar diet, they are increasingly turning to seltzer – a calorie-free drink with a sensation that reminds them of the sugar. Some food for thought: if our passion for bubbles comes from a previous love for sodas, then will new, health-conscious generations avoid soda and never learn to love seltzer?
At a time when transgender models are gaining more recognition than ever, Thailand-based firm Apple Model Management is set to open the world’s first modeling agency for transgender models this summer in Los Angeles.
The agency began representing transgender models in 2014 and its new branch in L.A. will exclusively represent transgender models. Apple has signed six models for the venture so far and is looking to add more.
Angel Qinan, one of Apple’s models, started her modeling career at Apple Model Management in Bangkok, Thailand, and eventually became a member of Apple’s transgender board. She said the agency has been supportive from the beginning.
“I’m excited to be able to express my authentic self and be the best model I can be in Los Angeles,” Qinan said.
Qinan became the first transgender model to walk the runway during Sacramento Fashion week in February. She said the support she received from the fashion community was “inspirational.”
The agency prioritizes equal treatment for transgender models, Cecilio Asuncion, Apple Model Management’s L.A. director, said.
“It’s important for transgender models to be treated equally in the workplace. At Apple Model Agency you are an Apple model first, and transgender second,” Asuncion said.
The move comes during a transformative time for transgender talent in the fashion and beauty community. Just this year, Andreja Pejic was the first-ever transgender model to be profiled in Vogue. Jazz Jennings, a 14-year-old transgender activist, landed a deal this year with Johnson and Johnson’s Clean and Clear skin care line. There’s also Brazilian model Lea T, who became the face of Redken in 2014, the first transgender model to become the face of a global cosmetic brand.
But the fashion community can still do more to create supportive spaces for transgender models, Asuncion said. “Fashion is just one instrument” to create change, Asuncion said.
The post World’s first transgender modeling agency to open this summer appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
The Syrian refugee crisis is the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. And we think people should know more about it.
Of the 4 million refugees, the vast majority are women and children. And nearly 3 million of those children are out of school with no hope of returning to any formal education.
For this week’s Shortwave, P.J. Tobia interviews Saba Mobasalat from Save the Children. She talks about a little boy who makes a dollar a day crawling into empty diesel tankers to sponge up and sell leftover oil, and she talks about food aid that’s about to run out of funding.
— UNICEF Australia (@unicefaustralia) July 2, 2015
He also interviews Nihad Sarmini in Jordan, who travels into Northern Syria to help child refugees.
“There is a lot of child labor there, and we found out that their work is very dangerous, and actually it’s affecting their mental and physical health,” he said. Click “listen” on the podcast above to learn more.