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Last updated: Thursday, September 03 2015 05:11 AM

News Wrap: CIA, Special Ops launch drone campaign against Islamic State

Wednesday, September 02 2015 11:50 PM

The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in McLean, Virginia, August 14, 2008.      REUTERS/Larry Downing      (UNITED STATES) - RTR2146J

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JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama secured a major victory today on the Iran nuclear deal. A 34th Senate Democrat came out in favor, enough to uphold a presidential veto of any attempt to reject the agreement.

Maryland’s Barbara Mikulski provided the 34th vote, and called the deal — quote — “the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb.”

But on CNN’s “Amanpour,” Secretary of State John Kerry called for even more support.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: Well, obviously, 34 votes are enough votes for the president’s veto to be able to be upheld. But we’re not — that’s not the way we’re approaching this. We want anybody and everybody hopefully to be able to vote for it. We’re going to continue to try to persuade people up until the last moment.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It would take at least 41 senators to block a Republican resolution of disapproval from coming to a vote. Republican leaders said today that they will go ahead with the debate next week.

GWEN IFILL: Another day, another swing for Wall Street, this time to the upside. Investors came to the market in a buying mood a day after the latest sell-off. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 290 points to close above 16350. The Nasdaq rose 114 points, and the S&P 500 added 35.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The CIA and U.S. special operations forces have launched a drone campaign against Islamic State leaders. The Washington Post reports drones are being used for targeted killings inside Syria. The effort marks a substantial increase in the CIA’s overall role in the Syrian conflict.

GWEN IFILL: In Iraq, masked men dressed in military uniforms kidnapped 18 Turkish construction firm workers in Baghdad. The kidnappers stormed a site at a sports complex early this morning, as the workers were sleeping. Turkish officials said the Turkish workers were separated out from the rest and taken away.

TANJU BILGIC, Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman (through interpreter): At this stage, it is difficult to comment on why this kidnapping happened or the motive behind it. We are in touch with the Turkish construction company. We have learned that, among the 18 people kidnapped, there were 14 workers, three engineers and one accountant. Of course we will continue to follow the issue.

GWEN IFILL: There was no claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on Islamic State forces. Turkey recently began airstrikes against the militants in Syria.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The state of California moved today to post crucial data on police and the public online. A new Web site displays the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, as well as suspects who die during arrests or in custody. According to the data, the state had 685 in-custody deaths annually between 2005 and 2014, and an average of 10 police officers were killed on the job every year from 1980 to 2014.

GWEN IFILL: President Obama closed out his three-day visit to Alaska today by putting a spotlight on the lives of native groups. He visited a village where he got a firsthand look at local salmon fishing. He also hoped to highlight how the warming climate is destabilizing native communities.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And one of the last two survivors of the great San Francisco Earthquake has died. Ruth Newman was just 5 years old, living on a ranch north of the city, when the quake hit in 1906. The violent shaking touched off fires that raged unchecked for days. Much of the city was destroyed, and more than 1,000 people died. Her family says that Ruth Newman passed away in late July. She was 113 years old.

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Thousands of refugees stranded at Budapest train station

Wednesday, September 02 2015 11:45 PM

Hungarian police guard refugees at a makeshift camp in an underground station near the Keleti train station in Budapest, Hungary September 2, 2015. Hundreds of migrants protest in front of Budapest's Keleti Railway Terminus for a second straight day on Wednesday, shouting "Freedom, freedom!" and demanding to be let onto trains bound for Germany from a station that has been closed to them by Hungarian riot police officers.  REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger - RTX1QSV9

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GWEN IFILL: There is even more tragedy to report tonight, as desperate migrants and refugees attempt to make their way to and through Europe.

At least 11 people drowned near the Greek island of Kos when two boats sank, including this small boy, captured in a photograph that immediately went viral. They are all thought to be Syrian refugees.

Meanwhile, in Hungary, the governments halted rail travel for refugees and migrants, creating a desperate and angry situation in the capital, Budapest.

James Mates of Independent Television News is there and he filed this report.

JAMES MATES: The mood is darkening outside Budapest’s main station. Almost 36 hours now since the exit route north to Austria and then Germany was closed, and there is growing impatience among the thousands here stuck in a country where they don’t want to be.

They chant the name of the place where they believe they will find a welcome. The police kept riot gear, even cans of C.S. gas close to hand, though, in the event, none was needed. But it is down beneath the station in a concourse leading to the city’s metro that most of the thousands here are making home, a small sea of humanity spread across concrete floors, most with nothing more than a blanket or piece of foam.

It is shelter from the blazing sun and some cover at night. But for parents with young families, this is no place to be living.

Samir Hasnan was a computer engineer in Damascus traveling now with his wife and three sons. Unhappy as he is right here, it is better than where he came from.

SAMIR HASNAN, Syrian migrant: What pushed me to be over here is the war in my country, which is I don’t want to be killing or be killed from other people. So, I have to run away with my children from over there. So, I need peace, peaceful place on the earth.

JAMES MATES: There are many, many children here, some physically small, and even the very young are pressed into family duty. There is food and water, but nothing for them to do from morning until night. A volunteer brought in paper and pencils, a kind thought, but no more than a gesture.

A standpipe has been erected for basic washing and hygiene, but aid workers fear what will happen if this situation drags on.

LYDIA GALL, Human Rights Watch: There are thousands of people here. You can see that there is only one water source here for people. Everything else is provided for by volunteers, ordinary Hungarians who bring the stuff to the people. The government is nowhere to be seen. They’re stuck here. They can’t travel further.

JAMES MATES: Far from this spot in grand buildings on the Danube, the government insists that it alone is enforcing European rules.

ZOLTAN KOVACS, Hungarian Government Spokesman: Law and order should be reestablished at the borders of the European Union. Discipline should be reintroduced to the system through which not only Hungary, but the European countries are handling migrants. And we have to face reality. This is not a refugee crisis. This is a major — this is a mass migration that is coming from Africa and the Near East, which requires a different handling, a new set of rules.

JAMES MATES: There are undoubtedly economic migrants among the thousands here, though it’s also true a clear majority are refugees from war in Syria, or Iraq or Afghanistan. And as they remind us, above all, they are human, and might have expected, even deserve, better than this.

The post Thousands of refugees stranded at Budapest train station appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Europe grapples with how to help refugees fleeing conflict

Wednesday, September 02 2015 11:40 PM

Watched by Hungarian police, refugees enter a regional train supposed to carry them to a nearby refugee camp at a railways station in Budapest, Hungary September 2, 2015. Hundreds of migrants protest in front of Budapest's Keleti Railway Terminus for a second straight day on Wednesday, shouting "Freedom, freedom!" and demanding to be let onto trains bound for Germany from a station that has been closed to them by Hungarian riot police officers.  REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo   - RTX1QSF3

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GWEN IFILL: For more on the economic and humanitarian tensions sparked by the rising tide of migrants, we turn to Astrid Ziebarth, a migration fellow with the German Marshall Fund in Berlin, and Nancy Lindborg, the president of the U.S. Institute of Peace here in Washington. She previously served as assistant administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Welcome to you both.

Nancy Lindborg, why are we seeing this uptick? I think uptick is almost too small a word to describe this flood of migrants.

NANCY LINDBORG, U.S. Institute of Peace: Well, we are seeing an uptick. It’s on pace to double from the number who entered Europe a year ago.

But we really need to remember that this is a small tip of a very large global crisis, where we’re seeing 60 million people displaced from their homes over this past year. This is the largest ever. And you have people who are giving up hope. They are living in conditions of repression, poverty, conflict that isn’t ending, and they are seeking a better life at great cost, at great danger for themselves and their families.

GWEN IFILL: Some people try to distinguish between people who are escaping conflict and people who are escaping economic pressure. Is there any distinction to be made?

NANCY LINDBORG: Well, I think there is a distinction. Clearly, legally, refugees are those who are fleeing persecution, conflict and danger. That 60 million is people who have been specifically displaced from their homes and are still either internally displaced or are already refugees.

The importance, however, is how these issues are so intermixed, where you have repressive, poor governance, and poverty that is so correlated with conflict.

GWEN IFILL: One thing leads to the other and leads to the other.

NANCY LINDBORG: Exactly.

GWEN IFILL: Astrid Ziebarth, in Germany, Chancellor Merkel, among others, have said they will accept up to 800,000 of these migrants and find some way to take care of them. But 100,000 thousand arrived just last month. Is there a plan that’s Germany-specific or Euro-specific that can begin to tackle this?

ASTRID ZIEBARTH, German Marshall Fund: Well, first of all, we have to have note that the 800,000 are a projection for the full year, and this was stated by our interior ministry, but it’s not entirely transparent how those numbers come about, so we always have to be cautious about this, because the government — the authorities also switched their statistical system of how to account for it.

So, this is just a note as we go into numbers. What is to be noted is that Germany is able currently to take up that many migrants and refugees, but, as you also stated, we have to be cautious not to just see that those are refugees from Syria are fleeing conflict and violence, but almost 42 percent are also from the Western Balkans and their rate of recognition for asylum is less than 1 percent.

So this is something where the German government is trying to figure out how to speed up the processes for those who are fleeing persecution and violence, but also trying to figure out if those who are not, how they can be returned.

GWEN IFILL: Well, let me stay with you for a moment, because there has been some backlash in Germany, not only Germany, but we saw some of this in Hungary, where people are beginning to say, we can’t absorb all of this. Is that picking up speed, that attitude?

ASTRID ZIEBARTH: At the moment, I mean, with the number of 800,000 being put out there also in the public, it’s remarkable that the public mood in Germany is still somewhat positive.

You have — the latest public opinion polls state that you have 60 percent of Germans who say that we can cope with this, and the interior minister also said, well, we can cope with this for a while, but if we can deal with such a high amount for a long run is the question. And here’s where the German government also turns to the European level.

GWEN IFILL: Nancy Lindborg, you said this was the tip of an iceberg. So, theoretically, someone has figured out or tried to address how to handle this before.

There’s something called a Dublin mechanism, which is the way that people try to absorb this. Explain what that is and whether that is working anymore.

NANCY LINDBORG: Well, the Dublin mechanism was simply an agreed-upon rule within the European Union that where you landed was the country in which you sought asylum. And that’s what’s being shifted right now.

The larger question is not just how, however, we deal with those who are arriving in Europe right now, but how do we address the continuing conflicts and repression that is pushing people out? Because you have a large pipeline of people who are displaced, but still within their borders. And as these conflicts remain unaddressed, there are many, many more who may be seeking refuge into the future.

GWEN IFILL: And, at some point, these nations — we have seen Iceland — a lot of people say they would open their homes to refugees. There are others. But at some point, a lot of nations are hanging back and you wonder whether the backlash will make this a problem on this end, as well as that end.

NANCY LINDBORG: Absolutely.

And I would also note that if you look at the Middle East, this was a region saturated with refugees even before the Syrian crisis. And since then, you have the countries in the immediate region like Turkey, and Lebanon, Jordan who have taken the majority of the four million Syrian refugees to date.

In Lebanon, one out of four people living there is Syrian, which is an almost unimaginable number to imagine happening in Europe or this country.

GWEN IFILL: Astrid Ziebarth, is there any discussion about imposing quotas on the number of people allowed in?

ASTRID ZIEBARTH: Well, yes, there has been discussion about quotas.

What is remarkable, that a year ago, no one at the European level or national level would have talked about quotas, but we’re now seeing that the crisis has gotten so urgent that at first the European Commission introduced the discussion about quotas in the spring. And then they also proposed their action plan on migration.

It was met by fierce opposition because they wanted to have binding quotas. But then the other member states said, well, no, we don’t want to have binding quotas. And here you had especially Eastern European countries that were against binding quotas. They were pushing for voluntary quotas, but anything that is voluntary is always hard to come on an agreement on that one.

So, we’re now seeing again the discussion about quotas and it will be definitely on the table for the upcoming conference in September, when the interior ministers meet.

GWEN IFILL: Nancy Lindborg, is there any discussion at all about resettling any of these refugees or migrants in the United States?

NANCY LINDBORG: Well, the United States takes about 70,000 refugees every year. And, as a country, we have actually benefited tremendously from the vibrancy that many of these refugees bring.

Since 9/11, it’s been a lot harder to bring in refugees from the Middle East. And I think the number from Syria thus far is around 1,000. I certainly hope that we can find our way to increase that, because we will probably benefit as a country, as well as giving a home and a future to so many people.

GWEN IFILL: Nancy Lindborg, president of the U.S. Institute of Peace, and Astrid Ziebarth of the German Marshall Fund in Berlin for us tonight, thank you very much.

NANCY LINDBORG: Thank you, Gwen.

The post Europe grapples with how to help refugees fleeing conflict appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

How NASA measures the death of a glacier from space

Wednesday, September 02 2015 11:40 PM

The south end of Bowman lake in Glacier National Park. Photo by Catherine Woods

The south end of Bowman lake in Glacier National Park. Photo by Catherine Woods

Editor’s note: This story is part of a two-part feature on the basic research of sea level rise

My photos from last summer capture a beauty that is disappearing faster and faster each year. But the images don’t do the experience justice. Standing on frozen ground, tasting air heavy with huckleberries, I had to perch on a lofty boulder in order to focus the whole ice mass in my smartphone screen. Only 25 glaciers remain inside Glacier National Park — down from 150 in the mid-19th century — and scientists estimate that these peaceful giants that sculpt the homes of grizzly bears and wildflowers will be gone by 2050.

It’s long been known that much of the Earth’s ice is melting. But we don’t know how fast that melt is occurring, or how soon the corresponding sea level rise could mean coastal cities and crops will be under the water. We need data to establish an effective plan against climate change, said Dan Fagre, an ecologist at the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center of the US Geological Survey. science-wednesday

“We [Glacier National Park] will be a story about what happened when climate change started,” Fagre said. “People’s grandchildren or great-grandchildren will probably never see a glacier at Glacier National Park.”

Glaciers are made from snowfall that turns into ice that is large enough to last through the warm months. People call them “living” glaciers because the bottom layer isn’t solid. They move and ooze, dragging rocks and sediment with them, Fagre said. Glaciers move under the pressure of their own weight and gravity, carving any earth that’s in the way, and they must be roughly 25 acres large to do so. But when their rate of melting outpaces the rate of freezing, they shrink and lose the necessary weight to slide and sculpt the surrounding earth. As they lose mass and weight, they slow down, losing the ability to push forward, until they eventually stop and melt away — like a snowbank at the end of winter.

The size of a glacier is a direct indicator of climate change, Fagre said. Glaciers can’t adapt to warmer weather with behavior the way that animals or insects might. So any changes you see are a direct result of the weather.

Grinnell Lake in East Glacier National Park. Photo by Catherine Woods

Grinnell Lake in East Glacier National Park. Photo by Catherine Woods

In 1850, Glacier National Park had 150 living glaciers — that’s six times more than it has now. Since at least that time, glaciers there have been declining. But 50 years ago, the rate of decline jumped and the number of glaciers in the park took a nosedive. The situation has become increasingly bleak with time. The snow is melting faster, forcing bears and birds to adapt to new food patterns. Less snow through July and August means warmer waters, which hurts endangered species like the bull trout and the meltwater stonefly. The hotter climate means less water in the forest, which can lead to an increase in the number of fires and a depleted water supply.

Fagre’s team does most of its glacier monitoring on the ground, using photography, tree ring studies and snow measurements. Tracking all 1,583 square miles of the park would be easier from space; but the technology to zoom in on the national park’s glaciers — which are “crumbs” compared to large ice masses in the north and south pole — isn’t in space… yet.

Meet ICESat-2. NASA’s new Ice Cloud and Land Elevation satellite is designed to provide a more detailed picture of the state of global ice melt than we’ve ever had. It will measure ice both big and small, in sea and on land. How, you ask? With a really cool laser.

Almost everything at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in southern Maryland is big – big ideas, big 40-foot-high chambers for prepping the space satellites and a big love of ice from guys like Tom Neumann, the deputy project scientist for NASA’s ICESat-2.

40-foot-tall vacuum chamber at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Photo by Mike Fritz

40-foot-tall vacuum chamber at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Photo by Mike Fritz

“I’m a land ice guy” said Neumann, who looks like the world-saving physicist you might see in an apocalyptic blockbuster movie. His hair flows like a young Einstein around black-rimmed glasses and a warm smile.

NASA Goddard is ICESat-2’s birthplace. The satellite lives in a three-story, dust-free “clean room” with slatted doors that resemble a garage from the outside. Black tape covered the panels to keep light from the satellite’s laser from seeping out during testing. The laser was off on the day of my visit, and I got to peek inside through a viewing window. A half dozen scientists in full body protective gear, or “bunny suits,” were darting around the satellite. The room is kept so pristine that the team must print all of their checklists on a special flake-free paper.

ICESat-2 engineering station at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Photo by Nsikan Akpan

ICESat-2 engineering station at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Photo by Nsikan Akpan

Scientist work on ICESat-2 in clean room at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Photo by Mike Fritz

Scientist work on ICESat-2 in clean room at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Photo by Mike Fritz

ICESat-2. Photo by Michael Fritz

ICESat-2. Photo by Michael Fritz

Using a laser to survey the globe isn’t new. The satellite’s predecessor — ICESat-1 — used Lidar (think radar, but with a laser) to measure ice from 2003 to 2009. But ICESat-2’s laser, referred to as Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System or ATLAS, is designed to capture much more detail.

“It’s so powerful that it can tell if you mowed your front lawn last weekend,” said project scientist Thorsten Markus.

Here’s how it works. Light particles, or photons from the laser will continuously beam down to Earth with 10,000 emitted per second. These photons will reflect off water, snow, grass and rock — and then bounce back into space. A receiver on ATLAS will detect returning photons. (Note: The photons from ICESat-2 are harmless — an infinitesimally small fraction when compared to the photons in daily sunlight.)

Scientists will determine distance by measuring how long it takes each photon to depart the satellite, bounce off the earth and return to the satellite. Clocks on ATLAS are extremely precise — they measure time within “a billionth of a second,” Neumann said.

So what does all this tell us about ice? Imagine a floating piece of ice in the Arctic Ocean. To measure this piece of ice, the photons bounce off the ice itself and the water that surrounds it. Now imagine one ATLAS photon bouncing off the frigid water and returning back to the satellite. As the satellite moves forward in space, another photon will strike adjacent to where the last photon landed, on top of the floating ice. The laser keeps moving until it covers the entire piece of ice and surrounding water. Then scientists can calculate the difference between the distance traveled by the photon that made contact with water and the photon that made contact with ice. That difference is how much the ice sticks out of the water, which can be used to calculate total ice thickness.

The ATLAS box structure, which houses ICESat-2's laser, is lowered onto the shaker table to test whether it will withstand the strong jolts and vibrations during launch.  Photo by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Debbie McCallum

The ATLAS box structure, which houses ICESat-2’s laser, is lowered onto the shaker table to test whether it will withstand the strong jolts and vibrations during launch. Photo by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Debbie McCallum

But wait, it gets better. Onboard ICESat-2, the laser snakes through a seven-foot obstacle course before leaving the satellite. Bouncing off mirrors and passing through optics, it breaks into three pairs, for a total of six beams. This setup allows ICESat-2 to take a measurement on the ground around every two feet. Not bad for a satellite 300 miles from Earth.

Measuring the thickness of the ice is important, but scientists also need to know the rate of change. “ICESat-2 will take the same measurements over the same track every 90 days,” Neumann said. “So if you compare the data today with data 90 days from now, and then 90 days later, you can see how the ice is changing through time.”

Before it launches in 2017, ICESat-2 must pass a series of tests. Inside a huge vacuum chamber, ICESat-2 will have to face both frigid and hot temperatures, simulating what it will experience as it passes in and out of the sun’s rays. Because the satellite will hitch a ride into space on the NASA Delta II rocket, scientist will also put the satellite on a giant vibrating platform, as they do with all satellites, to see if it can withstand the vigorous shaking experienced during a launch.

NASA's ATLAS laser box structure sits on a shaking platform designed to test whether satellites can withstand the intense vibrations during launch. ATLAS is the laser system for the ICESat-2 satellite, which will measure global rates of melting ice.  Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Kate Ramsayer

NASA’s ATLAS laser box structure sits on a shaking platform designed to test whether satellites can withstand the intense vibrations during launch. ATLAS is the laser system for the ICESat-2 satellite, which will measure global rates of melting ice.
Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Kate Ramsayer

Speaker used to test satellites for vibration integrity at vacuum chamber at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Photo by Mike Fritz

Speaker used to test satellites for vibration integrity at vacuum chamber at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Photo by Mike Fritz

Many are rooting for ICESat-2 to pass these tests. Just like ICESat-1, ICESat-2 data will be made available to the public. “I hope everyone uses this data; it’s going to be fabulous data. It’s going to change everything,” Neumann said.

ICESat-2’s smaller footprint will be important for Sinead Farrell, a scientist at the University of Maryland that used ICESat data in the past. She studies sea ice or floating chunks of ocean ice that are much smaller than a glacier. Only one-eighth of sea ice is above water, and LIDAR can only measure ice above the water, which makes sea ice tough to quantify with accuracy.

Since ICESat-1 completed its mission, her team has turned to data from an interim NASA project called Operation IceBridge – a lidar-equipped plane designed to monitor the most problematic areas until ICESat-2 is launched. But IceBridge is only a temporary solution, as it would cost at least a billion dollars more to have a plane cover all the ground that ICESat-2 will cover.

There should be an embedded item here. Please visit the original post to view it.

NASA video outlining the results from ICESat-1 and IceBridge

ICESat-2’s range will be bigger, and its use will extend beyond ice. In fact, Amy Neuenschwander, an engineer at University of Texas’ Center for Space Research, plans on using the data to measure tree height.

“What might take months and months to measure ten trees in a plot in Africa, you can do with one pass from a satellite,” Neuenschwander said.

Farrell said sea ice influences climate change by acting like a baseball cap, a blanket and a conveyor belt. The white surface of sea ice reflects light better than liquid ocean water. So the presence of sea ice keeps sun rays from warming the seas, much like a baseball cap keeps your face cool. Sea ice behaves like a blanket by preventing water molecules from easily escaping into the atmosphere via evaporation. Water vapor in the atmosphere leads to further heating, worsening ice melt, Farrell said. Finally, ocean particles — water molecules, silt, salts — from the surface to the sea floor are constantly in motion. They slowly move along a conveyer belt — pivoting from top to bottom as they reach the edge of the sea. This is called Thermohaline circulation, and it is driven by how salty and warm the ocean becomes in warmer season. Melting sea ice has the potential to slow or halt this natural churning of the ocean.

“We know that sea ice plays an important role in the thermohaline circulation, but it remains unclear exactly what influence a diminishing sea ice pack would have on the global ocean circulation. Through new measurements, such as those expected from ICESat-2, we hope to learn more about these processes,” Farrell said.

Between 2003 and 2012, the Arctic Ocean lost about 580 square miles of winter sea ice, Farrell said. That is a little over half the size of Rhode Island. With less sea ice, we can expect warmer waters, more evaporation and altered currents. All of this is happening at an accelerated rate, Farrell said.

Upturned sea ice blocks in the Beaufort Sea, Arctic Ocean. Photo by NOAA/Sinead Farrell

Upturned sea ice blocks in the Beaufort Sea, Arctic Ocean. Photo by NOAA/Sinead Farrell

Ilukissat, Greenland, 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Photo by Ken Burton/Vancouver Maritime Museum

Ilukissat, Greenland, 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Photo by Ken Burton/Vancouver Maritime Museum

Ice melt is the primary contributor to sea level rise, which is increasing three to four millimeters per year, said Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center. Scambos used ICESat data to monitor Antarctic ice shelves – floating sheets of ice attached to the earthy mainland. Ice shelves can act as gatekeepers to larger glaciers. But when an ice shelf collapses, humongous glaciers move rapidly into open warmer waters and start to shrink. This event can cause an abrupt rise in sea level. Scambos will use ICESat-2 data to help predict how long these weakening ice shelves will hold.

To Scambos, ICESat-2 is the next step in combating climate change. “We need to transition from a science of discovery about climate change to a science of monitoring – how does this happen and how is it progressing?”

In the meantime, David Greene, an environmental policy expert at the University of Tennessee suggests that everyone take a hard look at their energy consumption. Walk and bike more, he said, reserve your air conditioner for freeway driving, and brake and accelerate less. A lighter car with “less drag” is a greener car.

But that will only take us so far. Even if we were to drastically change our behavior, Glacier National Park would be glacier-less within this century, Neumann said. If all of Greenland melted away, he said, it would raise sea-level by 21 feet. But if the rate of sea-level rise stays constant, that will take 20,000 years. So there is still time to save the large masses of land ice.

The post How NASA measures the death of a glacier from space appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Eastern Ukraine cease-fire violated with ambush on army vehicle

Wednesday, September 02 2015 11:35 PM

ukrain aptn 2

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JUDY WOODRUFF: While much of the world’s attention turned away from Ukraine this summer, the fighting there largely raged on, killing and wounding more fighters and civilians and continuing to displace people in that country’s East.

Yet another cease-fire between Russian pro-separatists and Ukrainian forces went into effect this week, but many aren’t holding their breath.

Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner has this update.

MARGARET WARNER: For children across Ukraine, even in war-torn Donetsk, this is back-to-school week, with its traditional assemblies and ceremonies. It also provided the occasion for a cease-fire that went into effect yesterday. But it was violated today near rebel-held Luhansk, when a Ukrainian army vehicle was ambushed, killing two people.

Indeed, now in its second year of conflict, cease-fires brokered by European powers have repeatedly failed to stick. Instead, trench warfare rages on in Eastern Ukraine between government troops and Russian-backed separatists. All told, some 6,800 people have been killed, more than two million have fled their homes, and those who remain live in a constant state of fear.

WOMAN (through interpreter): When it’s evening, when the night is coming, we are waiting for something, because there are almost no quiet nights.

MARGARET WARNER: Washington Post reporter Thomas Gibbons-Neff just returned from Eastern Ukraine, where he spent five days on the front line with a Ukrainian army unit in Pisky, with rebels just a thousand yards away.

THOMAS GIBBONS-NEFF, The Washington Post: Every night, it was kind of the same routine, but that same routine involved a really, you know, palpable sense of tension. They were ready for someone to say, hey, tanks are coming across this field, get ready to fight to the death, or prepare to retreat.

Like, it was a strange routine, in the sense that it happened the same every night, but that same night, every night involved, hey, maybe this is it, maybe this is going to be the big attack.

MARGARET WARNER: The conflict in the East has stoked political tensions in the capital, Kiev. Far-right nationalists protested Monday outside Parliament, as it voted to grant greater autonomy to rebel areas.

Violence broke out, killing three national guardsmen and hospitalizing 140 people. Inside, the lawmakers held a rowdy session, replete with chanting, paper-tossing and impassioned speeches over whether to decentralize power, a condition agreed to by President Petro Poroshenko, as demanded by Russia, in last February’s Minsk accord designed to end the violence.

The Ukrainian Parliament speaker urged his colleagues to vote for the measure.

VOLODYMYR GROYSMAN, Ukrainian Parliament Speaker (through interpreter): Difficult decisions are not easy to make. The thing we must do today will stop the Ukrainian nation being a slave to others. The authority of a given place will belong to the people and Ukraine will be an independent, sovereign, united, and rich country.

MARGARET WARNER: Meanwhile, Washington blames Russia for the continued turmoil.

VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: The fact of the matter is, Ukraine is now under siege. Russia is building military outposts on Ukrainian soil. The brazen attempt to redraw the borders of Europe by force threatens not only Ukraine, but the shared aspiration for a Europe that is whole and free and at peace.

MARGARET WARNER: NATO is now conducting annual exercises on Russia’s doorstep. Yesterday, five U.S. warships and 1,000 troops joined other nations in Operation Sea Breeze in the Black Sea.

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In Ukraine, why resistance is growing to a negotiated settlement with separatists

Wednesday, September 02 2015 11:30 PM

KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 31: Protestors clash with National Guards troops nearby Verkhovna Rada building on August 31, 2015 in Kiev, Ukraine. 120 were wounded and 1 is dead in clashes after lawmakers gave initial approval to changes of Constitution of Ukraine granting more autonomy to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine Attackers threw a hand grenade at National Guard troops guarding the building of Rada. (Photo by Ivan Kovalenko/Kommersant Photo via Getty Images)

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JUDY WOODRUFF: And Margaret joins me now.

Margaret, welcome.

So, how significant is this cease-fire? You pointed out it was broken almost right away.

MARGARET WARNER: It was, though, in the view of U.S. officials, it is holding enough to be holding.

And so they want the Europeans now, who are really handling these negotiations, to push Putin very hard, Russian President Putin very hard, to keep up his end of the bargain, which was, in return for the constitutional changes that Poroshenko is pushing for the East, is to withdraw Russian heavy weapons and troops from Ukraine.

The question is, what’s the incentive for Putin to do this? If Putin’s objective is to keep Ukraine weakened and divided, make it very, very hard for them to become the kind of progressive, forward-looking European nation they want to, at low cost, he’s succeeding. And the only answer the Americans can come up with, and the Europeans, is, well, maybe the sanctions are beginning to bite, maybe he will decide he has to keep up the military — carry out the military side of the deal.

But they do not think that will end Putin’s maneuvers to undermine Ukraine.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So you were reporting on this vote in Parliament over the last couple of days, devolving authority back to the East. Violent protest, what was driving that?

MARGARET WARNER: I think, Judy, this was actually the more disturbing thing that has happened in the last week or two. And that is that there is growing resistance to the idea of a negotiated settlement with the Russians.

We have had a growing kind of radicalization in the western part of Ukraine as this war has ground on and on. And so, on its face, there were these two fringe far-right parties who did very poorly in the elections. Svoboda is one. The other is called the Right Sector.

And people call them skinheads, thugs. Putin calls them Nazis. And they were behind the actual event. But the deeper problem for Ukraine is that there is growing unhappiness with the idea of a negotiated settlement and the attitude of these hard-right parties is, why should we give anything to these separatists, when they continue killing — you know, there’s been hundreds killed since this Minsk agreement.

And that is — they’re calling for all-out war right now on the eastern front. And that, of course, is fantasy. If the Ukrainian forces were to try to step up the war, the Russians and their proteges would crush them. But it is a very persistent theme from them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, is it clear what the broader Ukrainian public thinks?

MARGARET WARNER: Yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, there were the demonstrations, but what do most people think?

MARGARET WARNER: So, there are polls showing that while the most extreme rhetoric has not resonated yet — the leader of one of these parties, Yarosh, says, well, now it’s time to go after our internal enemies, meaning President Poroshenko.

That is not hitting the public. But this sense that they are being played as fools by Putin, that Ukrainians are dying — those stories are in the paper every single day — that this whole idea of a negotiated settlement is flawed.

The problem with that is that, since neither NATO, the U.S., the Europeans aren’t willing to enter and help Ukrainians militarily, a negotiated solution is the only solution for them. So it puts the Ukrainian government in a difficult position. Plus, the public is furious because economically life is very hard.

All these things they had to do to meet IMF requirements, for example, or get their debt restructured has meant end of subsidies and people pay more for electricity and fuel. So, all in all, it’s kind of a stew of discontent. And, again, if the aim of Putin is also perhaps to so destabilize this government that the public will essentially kick them out, they will put in someone, or try to, more amenable to Russia.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And just quickly, the U.S., what is the U.S. role in all of this? What do U.S. officials you talk to think is going to happen?

MARGARET WARNER: Two things, Judy.

The U.S. — we have seen multiple phone calls from Vice President Biden, Secretary Kerry, even the president to Ukrainian government officials. They have been mentoring them on how to handle the economic issues and so on.

But they recognize that, again, in the absence of the U.S. being willing to step up military assistance, give true military assistance, that Ukraine is, to some degree, on its own, and one senior official said to me they have to play survivor, which I think the model is outwit, outplay and outlast your opponents with a little help from the U.S. and the Europeans.

But it is not — that is not the image of a powerful alliance that can rescue Ukraine.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Another tough one.

MARGARET WARNER: Yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Margaret Warner, we thank you.

MARGARET WARNER: Always a pleasure.

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Palmyra, where East met West, is symbolic target for Islamic State

Wednesday, September 02 2015 11:25 PM

Columns are pictured in the historical city of Palmyra

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GWEN IFILL: But, first, militants in the Islamic State group have been destroying temples and historic treasures in Syria over the past couple of weeks, all part of a continuing campaign to target the region’s cultural heritage.

Jeffrey Brown has the story, part of our continuing series Culture at Risk.

JEFFREY BROWN: Satellite images released yesterday by the U.N. confirmed the fears: the destruction of the Temple of Bel in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.

GIOVANNI BOCCARDI, UNESCO: We know for sure that some time after the 27th of August, most likely on the 30th of August, this temple was blown up by explosives.

UNESCO official Giovanni Boccardi:

GIOVANNI BOCCARDI: It was dedicated to a local god, Bel, but during Byzantine times, it was turned into a church and then with the arrival of the Arabs, it was turned into a mosque. So this is why it has this profound humanistic meaning, which goes beyond sort of historic and even aesthetic aspects.

JEFFREY BROWN: Palmyra, a modern city and antiquities site located 150 miles northeast of Damascus, was taken over by ISIS forces in May, who then continued a pattern of targeting ancient sites in Iraq and Syria. Last week, they destroyed a smaller temple at Palmyra and, before that, beheaded Khaled Al-Asaad, an 82-year-old Syrian archaeologist who had looked after the city’s sites for more than four decades.

On another front, the FBI last week issued a statement urging U.S. art dealers to be careful when buying antiquities from the Middle East, saying there is evidence collectors have recently been offered artifacts plundered by Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq.

Joining me now is Brenton Easter, senior special agent with the Homeland Security Department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Michael Danti, an archaeologist at Boston University who’s worked in the region for many years and advises the State Department.

Michael Danti, let me start with you.

Help us to understand a little bit more about what has been lost. Tell us about Palmyra and the specific temple.

MICHAEL DANTI, Boston University: Palmyra is a site that dates back to the Bronze Age, several thousand years B.C., but what it’s most known for is standing Greco-Roman remains that largely date to first and second centuries A.D.

It was essentially an antiquity where East met West in the Syrian desert, linking up with the great caravan traffic between the Mediterranean and East Asia. So it’s an incredible fusion of cultures and antiquity. It was known in antiquity for its multicultural diversity.

JEFFREY BROWN: You and I talked about this issue most recently after the destruction of sites in Iraq. When you look at something this, is there a pattern that you can discern about why specific sites are being targeted at this point?

MICHAEL DANTI: Yes.

In many ways, Palmyra serves as a microcosm for the larger picture, for Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra destructions as they move into new territory. As their footprints have expanded out, the first step generally is they carry out deliberative destructions of Muslim heritage, generally Sufi and Shia sites, such as mosques, historic schools and cemeteries.

And those destructions happened immediately after ISIL moved into the Tadmor region, the Palmyra region.

JEFFREY BROWN: Right.

MICHAEL DANTI: They blew up two very important Muslim sites.

Then they move on to looting cultural assets, museum collections, the collections of private individuals. And they began discussions in ISIL leadership in Tadmor about looting the archaeological site of Palmyra using contractors. That was followed by the planting of large IEDs in many of the structures at Palmyra. And then it was just a matter of waiting before something happened.

And we don’t know what the timing yet means of these destructions of Baal Shamin and Bel temple. That may become clearer…

JEFFREY BROWN: Let me bring in Brenton Easter on that issue, particularly on — we have the FBI issuing this warning. We hear a lot about the antiquities as a source of revenue for ISIS.

Is this a certainty at this point? And what specifically are you seeing coming onto the antiquities market?

BRENTON EASTER, Immigration and Customs Enforcement: One of the things that HSI has done phenomenally over the past few is we have begun to target these cases not just as cultural property investigations, but also as financial investigations.

So, we are tracing the money. And we do see that these revenue streams can feed into other things. We are trying to tackle that angle. One of the things that I heard earlier on the program that Gwen Ifill was speaking about is how conflict is a problem with immigration.

Well, when you have conflict areas where people are fleeing or moving in large quantities, you’re also going to have a lot of these smuggled commodities, which ISIS can use as a revenue fund, being smuggled as well.

JEFFREY BROWN: How much — can I just ask, in that, how much…

BRENTON EASTER: Sure.

JEFFREY BROWN: Do we know how much money we’re talking about? Do we know how many pieces we’re talking about? What is the extent of the damage and of what’s flowing on the market?

BRENTON EASTER: Well, that’s a very good question.

And I don’t know if you’re ever going to be able to get an exact number or total on any of that. You’re hearing different reports from all different people saying different things. What we have seen is that there are these commodities coming out, they are being offered to people outside of Syria. Sometimes, the pieces are still in Syria when we see them being offered.

Other times, they have made it to some of the transshipment locations. What we have noticed is that once they do leave, they enter into a very large transnational criminal organization network, which is expert at smuggling these things, it’s expert at layering false provenance and paperwork to be associated with these pieces, so that they can be entered onto the market.

They also are very good at storing these things for a period of time, so, sometimes, you will have these pieces sit for five, 10 years before they will actually be shown somewhere in one of the major consumer markets like New York.

JEFFREY BROWN: Well, I was going to ask you briefly about the U.S. Is there evidence that it is coming in? I know this is — you’re working very hard to stop it from coming into the U.S. Is there any evidence that pieces are getting in yet?

BRENTON EASTER: Well, what I can tell you is that we are creating a very large database that deals with looted and stolen antiquities.

Now, that includes not just coming out of Syria or Iraq or the Middle East, but stuff that’s being looted all around the world, although we do have a lot of stuff that is specifically coming out of these conflict regions that we’re discussing tonight.

When it does come across the U.S., we hope to intercept it. When it does hit the markets, we do hope to hit it. However, at this point, we aren’t seeing large amounts of this commodity hitting at this time.

JEFFREY BROWN: Michael Danti, just very briefly, 30 seconds, if you could, are we expecting — the way that this gets attention, do you expect to see more of this or what can be done at this point?

MICHAEL DANTI: With regard to the deliberate destructions, what can be done is to eliminate ISIL. Nonstate actors in Syria and Iraq are primarily responsible for this type of destruction.

Sources on the ground in Tadmor claim that there will be more of these ISIL destructions, so that they can gain media attention and to take away some of the attention from their recent failures in other areas in Iraq and Syria.

JEFFREY BROWN: You think some of it does have to do with failures; that’s why they might be doing this?

MICHAEL DANTI: Yes, I think sometimes that they’re trying to control the message and to divert attention away from territorial losses to Kurdish forces in the north and in some other theaters in the conflict zone.

It serves as a very powerful ideological tool for the organization for recruiting and it’s a form of psychological warfare. And ISIL believes that this type of destruction of pre-Islamic heritage is primarily targeting the West.

JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Michael Danti and Brenton Easter, thank you both very much.

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Why doctors are prescribing legal aid for patients in need

Wednesday, September 02 2015 11:20 PM

Sequence 1

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Struggling through an illness is never easy. But studies have shown it is even harder for people who do not have much money, education or other resources.

In response, many hospital systems across the country have begun establishing so-called medical-legal partnerships. Lawyers become allies, not adversaries, teaming up with doctors, helping disadvantaged patients work through problems that could interfere with their health.

Special correspondent Jackie Judd reports from Omaha, Nebraska.

JACKIE JUDD: Diego Salcido is only 5 years old, and he has had more happen in his young life than people 10 times his age. A diagnosis of leukemia led to a bone marrow transplant, which failed, so he had a second. Diego’s mother is a constant presence by his side.

HILDA OLMEDO CUEVAS, Mother (through interpreter): It’s been a very rough year. But God has kept me on my feet. I don’t know where he comes up with all this strength, my son.

WOMAN: White count today is up to 1.7.

JACKIE JUDD: Diego has a team of doctors, social workers and lawyer — yes, lawyers — trying everything they can to get him well.

What do you think it’s going to be like when you go home?

HILDA OLMEDO CUEVAS (through interpreter): I would be very happy when we go home. Diego will be as well. We just have to face these new difficulties.

JACKIE JUDD: One of those difficulties is whether the family apartment is safe enough for Diego to live in once he is discharged. On this day, a team from Legal Aid of Nebraska that works in partnership with Nebraska Medicine is dispatched to investigate.

Diego’s father, Victor, shows them evidence of an infestation of bugs, including cockroaches.

VICTOR SALCIDO, Father (through interpreter): There are so many and we can’t seem to get rid of them. They come and fumigate, but there has been no relief from the problem.

JACKIE JUDD: The bugs present too great a health risk to Diego, whose immune system is a ticking time bomb.

Lawyer Ann Mangiameli delivers the news to Diego’s mother that little boy cannot return home.

ANN MANGIAMELI, Attorney (through interpreter): So, what we would like to do is maybe try to reach out and find some resources to help you guys find a new apartment, and then help you terminate the lease with the landlord and get your rental assistance or your rental deposit back, if that’s OK with you.

JACKIE JUDD: Even though lawyers are often the last people doctors want to see involved in patient care, a new attitude has taken hold here.

MAN: We physicians have relatively little understanding of the legal process. And we will say — we say things like you ought to be out of that house, you ought to be in someplace clean, and then I sort of wash my hands of it, and don’t realize the downstream implications. Somebody’s got to help them get the resources.

JACKIE JUDD: Cancer surgeon Kerry Rodabaugh is that somebody who gathered the resources. In fact, she only accepted a job with Nebraska Medicine once she was assured a partnership, similar to the one she formed at her last hospital, would be created.

DR. KERRY RODABAUGH, Nebraska Medical Center: I ran a medical-legal partnership, and came to find that I could not practice medicine without that.

We are learning that we really are impacting health. So, if we can get somebody reinstated with their insurance plan, then they’re going to be able to afford to take their anti-hypertension medication and their blood pressure’s going to be improved. And who would’ve thought of that, that an attorney’s going to fix somebody’s blood pressure?

JACKIE JUDD: Omaha is part of a growing movement modeled on a partnership founded in 1993. Doctors at Boston Medical Center linked cases of childhood asthma to mold in homes and brought in lawyers to take on negligent landlords.

The idea took years to catch on. But national leaders say there are medical-legal partnerships now in almost 300 hospitals and health centers, and that dozens more are being planned.

ANN MANGIAMELI: Housing issues are the biggest problem.

JACKIE JUDD: The cases that Mangiameli and her team of six lawyers and two paralegals take on range from landlord-tenant issues, to insurance enrollment and reimbursement, to deathbed wishes involving child custody and wills.

ANN MANGIAMELI: They don’t understand the system, and that’s where we help. And it is a great deal of stress it takes off, because we know the system.

JACKIE JUDD: In Omaha, almost 17 percent of the city’s residents live in poverty. So, to meet the need, the partnership has grown from one department in one hospital to all five of the city’s major hospital systems, including two neighborhood clinics.

WOMAN: There’s just a lot of questions — questions I need to ask.

JACKIE JUDD: There, patients are screened not only for health problems, but problems that lawyers could help with as well.

Nebraska Medicine’s payments to Legal Aid of Nebraska have increased from $25,000 to more than $200,000 a year. And in seven years, it has recouped $2 million from insurers in contested reimbursements.

Partnerships are an increasingly attractive model for health systems, as more of them get paid by insurers, not for specific services, but set amounts for keeping people healthy.

Hospital administrator Theresa Franco says, if everything aligns, partnerships become a win-win for patients, doctors and hospitals.

THERESA FRANCO, Nebraska Medicine: If we can take some of these issues and reduce the number of visits to a physician, reduce the number of times that they’re going to end up in the emergency room, reduce the number of times that they’re going to have to be admitted to the hospital, that in itself will help from a standpoint of using the dollars that are going to be allocated going forward in a much more conscientious and wiser manner.

JACKIE JUDD: Those twin purposes, healthier patients and reduced costs, brought breast cancer survivor Denise Lauritsen to Legal Aid.

Dr. Rodabaugh wouldn’t put Lauritsen through the trauma of additional surgery, which would add to the cost of care, without knowing whether Lauritsen had cancer in other parts of her body. So, a CAT scan was ordered.

DR. KERRY RODABAUGH: She just really wouldn’t have been certain of her disease status, and we wouldn’t have been clear on what the next best step for her care would have been. So the CAT scan was critical.

JACKIE JUDD: But Medicaid refused to approve the CAT scan. After nine months, multiple legal briefs and court decisions, Legal Aid and Lauritsen won.

DENISE LAURITSEN, Patient: It gave me peace of mind. I couldn’t sleep at night. I worried all the time. I wasn’t at peace with myself. And I think that CAT scan was just the final — just the closure on all of it.

JACKIE JUDD: Lauritsen, who did have surgery in 2014, is now strong and well.

Because medical-legal partnerships are relatively new, research to prove and to quantify how they improve health outcomes is only just beginning. Diego’s mother already is certain that having lawyers work side by side with the medical team has boosted her son’s chances of living a long life.

HILDA OLMEDO CUEVAS (through interpreter): It’s a lot of help I’m receiving. I thank God for all of the angels he has sent me.

JACKIE JUDD: This is Jackie Judd for the PBS NewsHour in Omaha.

JUDY WOODRUFF: This story was produced in collaboration with the Solutions Journalism Network.

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More stress, less stigma drives college students to mental health services

Wednesday, September 02 2015 11:15 PM

College student studying at computer

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GWEN IFILL: As students head back to campus, colleges and universities across the country are facing a growing demand for mental health care.

Schools have long provided counseling, but, increasingly, colleges are facing new dilemmas about how to best treat a student, especially one at risk.

Hari Sreenivasan is in our New York studios with the story.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In fact, rates of anxiety and depression among college students in the U.S. have soared in the past decade. There’s more awareness of problems, risks and diagnoses, and combined with the stresses of college life, schools are trying to figure out the right course of treatment, counseling and intervention.

The Chronicle of Higher Educatio examined this in a new series about what it calls an epidemic of anguish.

Jennifer Ruark is the editor of the series, which has been in the works for 10 months. And Micky Sharma joins us. He is director of the Association for the University and College Counseling Center. He’s director of the Office of Student Life Counseling at Ohio State.

So, Jennifer, I want to start with you. Your reporters spent a long time on this series. What did you all find?

JENNIFER RUARK, The Chronicle of Higher Education: Well, we found that colleges are seeing an increase in the number of students who report to counseling centers with anxiety disorders, with clinical depression.

And they’re also seeing more incidents of serious situations that need immediate intervention.

HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Micky Sharma, I’m watching, and I’m thinking about this and saying, well, listen, haven’t the stresses of moving away from home, perhaps the big breakup with the girlfriend or boyfriend or partner, bombing a test when you get there, hasn’t that been around for decades, as long as college has been around?

What is so different about the student population now?

MICKY SHARMA, Ohio State University: Well, I think there’s many things that have caused some of these changes that Jennifer alluded to.

I think the stigma regarding mental health has decreased locally here at Ohio State and nationally across the country. Students are more apt to reach out and meet with a counselor when they’re struggling with things.

We have students in this generation that are working and growing up in a very fast-paced society. There’s additional stressors, more things that they’re carrying on their shoulders. And there’s an increase in the anxiety that we see in students.

Traditionally, historically, depression was always the number one thing that students brought to university counseling centers. About four years ago, that flipped. And now anxiety is the number one presenting problem that students bring to the counseling center at Ohio State, as well as nationally. And depression is number two. And that divide between anxiety and depression, it grows each year.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Jennifer, are there schools dealing with this change differently?

In a couple of your stories, I found that one school really tried to send the kid away as fast as possible to get help, and another school didn’t. There doesn’t seem to be any uniformity.

JENNIFER RUARK: Every school obviously wants its students to be in an environment where learning is possible, both for the troubled individual and for the rest of his or her classmates.

But the care that they’re able to offer varies widely from campus to campus. You have some college campuses that are able to have an on-site psychiatrist, but there are many that don’t. There are many campuses which don’t have as many hours available at their counseling center, who are staffing the center with interns or trying to rely more on peer education and faculty intervention, simply because they don’t have the resources that they need.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Micky Sharma, you are at one of the biggest schools in the country, probably better-resourced than, say, community colleges or graduate schools around the country that might also be dealing with these populations and these challenges.

But what are the appropriate boundaries for an institution of learning today between caring for the mental, the physical, the emotional, the psychological well-being of a person, because someone is going to ask, listen, wasn’t your job just to be a university or a college and help teach? Now we’re really asking you to think about health care and mental health care.

MICKY SHARMA: So, I think that the job of the university is to provide as much as it can in terms of support services to help students be academically successful.

And, at the end of the day, that’s what university counseling centers are doing. That’s what my center is doing, is providing support to students, so that they can come to the university, be successful, graduate, earn a degree, and launch their career.

So, for many university counseling centers, what we’re doing is providing short-term treatment and on a time-limited basis at many centers, so that we’re able to provide students and reach as many students as possible.

Additionally, many centers have evolved into providing a menu of service options, so the majority of what we do is individual counseling, but there’s a lot of group counseling that we offer, as well as drop-in workshops to get coping strategies, better stress management strategies in the hands of as many students as possible.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Jennifer, what did your reporters find about the balancing act that some schools are having to do between trying to have their student populations safe and well cared for on the one hand and balancing privacy rights on the other?

JENNIFER RUARK: Well, a college is not going to know whether students come to campus with preexisting mental health conditions, unless the student or his family chooses to disclose that.

About one in four students reporting to campus counseling centers now are already on some kind of psychotropic medicine, in part because of the lifting of the stigma that you referred to earlier. So, if a faculty member or administrator notices a troubled student or notices signs that a student may be troubled, they can encourage that student to seek counseling and to talk to people, but unless it becomes a crisis situation, they can’t really force the student to seek counseling.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Micky Sharma, tell me a little bit about the challenge that that poses.

If you have a larger population coming to you year after year who might already have been in therapy for several years before they come to college or if, as Jennifer referred to, if they’re already on prescription medications, what does that do when you have to talk to them first?

MICKY SHARMA: So, in terms of what that does to the services at the university counseling center is, it forces us to look at different ways to reach students.

So, as I mentioned before, we do have in our center — the individual therapy is the number one thing that we do, but we also have psychiatrists who provide treatment. But we also look at other forms of resources to provide students, such as psychoeducational programming, the group counseling that we provide to reach more students simultaneously, and look at matching the services to a particular student’s need.

I often tell our faculty and staff, just because a student is crying doesn’t mean he or she needs psychotherapy. Sometimes, that’s actually the emotional response that I want to see. So we’re looking at getting the right level of service to match an individual student’s need.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Micky Sharma, Jennifer Ruark, thanks so much for joining us.

JENNIFER RUARK: Thank you.

MICKY SHARMA: Thank you.

JENNIFER RUARK: Thank you.

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What the Internet’s free culture has cost us in art

Wednesday, September 02 2015 11:10 PM

piracy

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, we close with an essay: a new occasional feature on the NewsHour bringing, we hope, a fresh perspective on provocative issues.

Tonight, we hear from author Joshua Cohen. He gives us his thoughts on the value of intellectual property, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, and what it means when it’s stolen.

JOSHUA COHEN, Author: What’s the only thing that a pirate is afraid of. The daaaark.

I remember hearing that joke when I was 10 years old. I remember the guy I heard it from. His name was Herman Pollack ph. He was an older guy around the synagogue and he had a lot of jokes, and a lot of them were about pirates.

Why did the pirate quit his ship to write poetry? He did it for the love of the aaaarts.

Anyway, this guy from the synagogue told these jokes to me, and he told them to me free of charge. And now NewsHour is paying me to tell them to you. How do I justify this? Do I owe Herman Pollack or his heirs a percentage of whatever I’m earning?

A few years after I heard the jokes was the first time I went online, 1994. This was the first time online for a lot of people. In many ways, mine was a test generation. Everything was free for us or felt free. We wanted some music, we downloaded it. We wanted to print out a photo and hang it on the wall, so what? We downloaded books, or e-books, with a single click. Woe downloaded games. It all seemed like a game.

There was so much to hear and see and read. We played around in the imagination of strangers, or whoever it was who produced all this stuff. They weren’t even strangers. They weren’t even human. Culture just came out of the void.

I remember clicking on some site full of jokes, and some of the jokes on the site, I already knew. And I remember that feeling. None of this was created by anyone. It was all just here to begin with.

But then I started writing for myself, and I came to know the months, the years it took to make something and the pride of having made something, how it feels to receive credit for bringing a reader a spark.

Now, I take credit, and not money, because the chief evil of piracy or intellectual property theft or whatever you choose to call it is not that it deprives me and other artists of a living, but that it deprives the audience and even the art itself of a life.

It’s my belief that culture has to be paid for, if not with money or even praise, then with time and attention. There are more things to hear and see and read than ever before, but the cheaper it is to get your hands on them, the cheaper your appreciation of them will be.

The cost of a thing is the care you give it. Fact is, you could rip off a million books, but they’re not truly yours if you’re not going to read them. Songs aren’t songs if they’re never heard. Films aren’t films if they’re never watched. Canons can’t survive, they can’t evolve if the memory they animate is your computers, and not your own.

Culture must be lived. It must be active. It can’t just be in a folder on your desktop or a bundle of bytes on your hard drive. Herman Pollack, the man who told me the pirate jokes, seemed to love pirate jokes because they were about language, they were about puns, and English was the fourth language he spoke.

He learned these jokes, and they taught him the language. Herman grew up in a world that didn’t have as many books as ours does. And what decent books that world had, it tended to burn. Because Herman didn’t have such free access to books, he took to memorizing any he could find. Memorizing these books was how he earned them, how he owned them.

His memory of them was his truest possession. No one could take that away from him, which reminds me. Why don’t pirates ever learn the alphabet? Because after A and B, they spend all their lives at C.

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First polio outbreak since 2010 reported in Europe, WHO says

Wednesday, September 02 2015 10:42 PM

A Pakistani health worker gives polio vaccine drops to a child during a polio vaccination campaign in Rawalpindi on Thursday, October 3, 2013. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries in the world where the highly infectious, crippling disease remains endemic. Polio cases in Pakistan hit 198 in 2011, the highest figure for more than a decade and the most of any country in the world, according to the UN.  There were 223 cases of polio in 2012, with all but six of these in Nigeria (122), Pakistan (58) and Afghanistan (37), according to WHO data. Health officials had planned to immunize 34 million children across country,  but the UN officials say there are about 161,000 children in North Waziristan district alone who have not received a polio vaccine since June last year when the Umbrella Taliban faction in Pakistan  banned polio vaccinations in the tribal region of Waziristan, alleging it was a cover for espionage.Photo by Muhammad Reza

Ukraine saw a decrease in polio immunization supplies. Pictured here, a Pakistani health worker gives polio vaccine drops to a child during a polio vaccination campaign in Rawalpindi. Photo by Muhammad Reza.

The World Health Organization reports two children in southwestern Ukraine have been diagnosed with polio for the first time in Europe since 2010.

The 10-month-old and four-year-old living in the Zakarpattya region have been paralyzed due to the virus.

WHO confirmed that Ukraine was particularly vulnerable because of a decrease in immunization supplies. Last year, Ukraine only immunized 50 percent of children against polio and other preventable diseases.

The two cases are vaccine-derived polio, which is rare and occurs when the strains of poliovirus in the oral vaccine genetically mutate.

The weakened vaccine-virus replicates in the intestine for a period of time developing immunity by building up antibodies. During this time, the vaccine-virus is excreted and can continue to circulate and spread in the immediate community.

The strain must circulate in a seriously under-immunized population for a period of at least 12 months for this type of polio to occur.

National health authorities are currently in discussion in order to plan and implement a response to the outbreak.

Polio, which is highly contagious and has no cure, can lead to paralysis, breathing problems, or death. The infectious disease affects the most vulnerable populations including those living in places with poor sanitation.

According to WHO, more than 10 million cases of polio have been prevented, and the disease has been reduced by more than 99 percent since 2000.

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Twitter chat: How do ‘invisible’ illnesses affect people?

Wednesday, September 02 2015 09:51 PM

Suffering the Silence - Vivian

Join the Twitter discussion on invisible illnesses Friday at 1 p.m. EDT. Photo by Amanda Crommett

In the United States, about 50 percent of adults have been diagnosed with at least one type of chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease, or multiple sclerosis. Many of these chronic illnesses are “invisible”, that is, much of the time, these people will exhibit no obvious symptoms. Both chronic illnesses and their invisibility can have profound effects on people’s lives.

In a Twitter chat this Friday at 1 p.m. EDT, we will talk about those illnesses. How do they affect people? What can be done to manage them? What systems can be put in place to support people with chronic illness? How can people who do not suffer from chronic illness help those who do?

To help us discuss these issues, we will be joined by @BobTwillman of the American Academy of Pain Management, @alliecashel, author of Suffering the Silence, @PatriciaFennell of Albany Health Management Associates, and eminent physician and doctor and author @HowardMarkel. Follow along using #NewsHourChats.

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Photos give powerful visibility to chronic illness

Wednesday, September 02 2015 09:35 PM

Suffering in Silence - Allie and Erica

Friends Erica, left, and Allie, right, began the “Suffering in Silence” photo project as a way of empowering people to come forward with their experience with chronic illness. Photo by Amanda Crommett

Erica Lupinacci and Allie Cashel both have chronic illnesses. But unless they tell you, there’s almost no way to know that — they don’t “look sick” or “act sick” most of the time. And this, they both say, can be difficult.

“I think a lot of people, when you say you’re sick and when you tell someone your diagnosis, it can go two ways,” Lupinacci said. “Either because it’s invisible, they assume that it’s not that big of a deal and that you’re okay — or people assume that you can’t do things. They see you as just your illness. They don’t see you as a full person with dreams and goals, that you’re just like everyone else, but with an extra challenge.”

“These illnesses affect so much more than our bodies … They affect our friendships and relationships; they affect our identities.” — Allie Cashel
Recently, Cashel and Lupinacci have addressed that problem head-on in a book by Cashel and web campaign called “Suffering the Silence,” which is aimed at enabling those with chronic illness to discuss their illness publicly and on their own terms. Participants write the name of their illness on their arm and pose for a photograph with their hand covering their mouth. A small paragraph under the photograph tells the participant’s story. The campaign began with the series of photos, like the ones pictured here, but anyone can post their own image online with the hashtag #SufferingTheSilence.
Suffering the Silence - Allie

“For a long time I was terrified to tell people about my illness experience because I was scared they wouldn’t believe me. I needed to become an advocate for myself, especially in conversations about my controversial diagnosis. I had doctors tell me I was having a mental breakdown and needed to find the strength to tell them otherwise. It hasn’t been easy, but finding my voice and sharing my story has been an incredibly powerful tool in my healing process.” – Allie. Photo by Amanda Crommett

The pictures and captions are powerfully honest, painting a picture of a complete person — not just an illness.

Suffering the Silence - Erica

“Every day I’m trying to learn how to love a body I can’t control. The unpredictability can be the most painful aspect of this disease. I get scared that my body will keep me from living the life I envision but I’ve also decided I won’t let that fear hold me back. I’m incredibly passionate about my life and am dedicated to making my very big dreams come true. Fighting Lupus has helped me truly understand the extraordinary power of believing in yourself.” – Erica. Photo by Amanda Crommett

“That’s really what we’re trying to do with the site and with the campaign,” Cashel said. “Focus honestly on what life is like with chronic illness, but also not to harp on it, to find ways we can integrate it into our daily lives in a positive way.”

Suffering the Silence - Ty

“There is such a stigma around HIV, people automatically disable you and don’t think that you can do anything else. Just because I have something like this doesn’t mean that I still can’t go out and sing and do the things that I am meant to do. It doesn’t mean that I can’t date, that I can’t love, it doesn’t mean that I can’t do any of those things. I’m still a person, I’m still human.” – Ty. Photo by Amanda Crommett

For many people with chronic illnesses, finding a space like the web campaign, where they describe their experiences on their own terms, is difficult, Cashel said.

“These illnesses affect so much more than our bodies,” she said. “They affect our friendships and relationships; they affect our identities. And I think that’s really hard to talk about.”

Suffering the Silence - Vivian

“My family and friends sometimes forget that I have it, they’ll forget that I wake up every morning with my back hurting. It doesn’t register in their heads. It’s not their fault, I dont complain constantly about it so its easier to forget I have it. I also work as a waitress so a lot of times I’m viewed as weak because I choose not to carry heavy trays. I physically can’t and I have to remind people. I think in their heads they think I’m lazy or making it up. If I could choose to be stronger, I would love to be stronger.” – Vivian. Photo by Amanda Crommett

Currently, approximately one person a day posts their image online. But the campaign is not just about those on the site. It’s also about helping those with chronic illness who may not want to pose for a portrait or write up their story yet.

“A lot of people reached out and have said they’ve used the portrait to communicate to their loved ones what it’s really like to live with this,” Cashel said. “And that’s what we wanted from the start, we wanted this to be a platform to use to help people communicate their experience.”

Suffering the Silence - Patrick

“90% of people with Hemophilia contracted HIV and/or Hepatitis-C in the late 80s, early 90s because of the Blood Contamination Crisis that is one of the most unfortunate events in American health history. On the converse, today we have the medicine to live very normal lives. I’m a part of the first fully healthy generation of people with hemophilia and yet 80% of the world still doesn’t have access to the medicine or care that we do, that allows someone like me to live to see beyond the age of 3 or 4. The history is dark and the people who lived through it still feel the effects of that. It’s a very conflicted community. It’s strange to look and feel normal but be a part of something that is very specifically complicated.” – Patrick. Photo by Amanda Crommett

For Cashel and Lupinacci though, the web campaign has had a more personal effect.

“It’s been incredibly therapeutic for me,” Lupinacci said. “This has helped me so much. It allows things to not get backed up so much and I can process things a lot easier. It’s kind of crazy just having all of this out there, but it’s also kind of a relief.”

Suffering the Silence - Tatianna

“The biggest thing, especially with endometriosis, is that so many women go undiagnosed for so long because they’ve never heard of it. The problem I had with my doctor was that I would go in complaining of pain and he said “Everyone goes through this, it’s called a period.” It took me a good six years before I finally got diagnosed. Although on the outside it may look like every now and then I get period pains, you don’t realize that no, it’s an every day thing and just because I don’t want everyone to know I’m in pain-I am.” – Tatianna. Photo by Amanda Crommett

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Hundreds of migrants stranded in Budapest

Wednesday, September 02 2015 08:56 PM

A makeshift refugee camp near the Keleti train station.  REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

A makeshift refugee camp near the Keleti train station. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Hundreds of migrants have been left stranded outside the Keleti Train station in Budapest after Hungary blocked asylum-seekers from travelling to European countries for the second day today.

The situation in Hungary is just the latest in a series of crises occurring as European nations struggle to cope with the largest mass migration since the end of World War II. The influx of migrants – many of whom are fleeing violence and instability in their home countries – has been disproportionately impacting the poorer countries of the EU such as Greece, Italy, and Hungary.

This year, Hungary has accepted more than 150,000 migrants in an often lax effort to register all of them. While migrants remained stranded, Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, plans to meet with European leaders in Brussels on Thursday to reconcile the current crisis.

The dangers that befall migrants in the desperate position to cross borders are well documented. But now, migrants are experiencing these risks within the EU. Just last week 50 smuggled migrants were found dead in a van on the outskirts of Vienna.

The influx of migrants, the burden they are placing on countries, as well as the risks they are facing have all forced many in the EU to question its asylum policy. Currently, under the Dublin System, refugees should apply for asylum in the first country the enter. However, Greece has said it has been inundated with applications, and Hungary has been building a controversial razor-wire fence around its borders to keep migrants out.

Recently, Germany agreed to suspend the Dublin System, and said it will begin registering migrants in Germany. Finland has also agreed to stop sending migrants back to the country they arrived in.

However, many countries in the EU are still struggling to determine how they will deal with the influx, which shows no sign of abating.

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COLUMN: How raising taxes on the rich could prevent mass shootings

Wednesday, September 02 2015 08:39 PM

Sheldon Gilton (L) and Brea Butler hold candles during a candlelight vigil for victims of the Thursday night shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, July 24, 2015. A 59-year-old man who had been committed to a hospital for psychiatric care was identified by authorities as the gunman who fatally shot two people in a rampage at a crowded movie theater in Lafayette before turning the gun on himself as police closed in. REUTERS/Lee Celano      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1LQFO

Sheldon Gilton and Brea Butler hold candles during a candlelight vigil for victims of the Thursday night shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, July 24, 2015. A 59-year-old man who had been committed to a hospital for psychiatric care was identified by authorities as the gunman who fatally shot two people in a rampage at a crowded movie theater in Lafayette before turning the gun on himself as police closed in. Photo by Lee Celano/REUTERS

Editor’s Note: There is no arguing that, for a highly developed country, the United States suffers from a unusually high rate of mass murder and murder by gun violence. There is, however, debate as to how to lower the mass murder rate — one that usually focuses on gun control laws and mental health.

Economist John Komlos argues that the United States needs to adopt universal mental health insurance as a way to lower the murder and mass murder rate. Of course, universal mental health insurance means one thing: taxes. Below, Komlos, author of “What Every Economics Student Needs to Know and Doesn’t Get in the Usual Principles Text,” makes his case.

Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor


Weep America, weep again! Murders in Moneta, Virginia and mass murders in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Charleston, South Carolina and in a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, shock the nation again and again in a matter of days. Will the pundits still dare to say that we live in “the best country in the world?”

As these shootings continue, it seems like we’re just condemned to live with it. The discomfort around discussing mental health and gun control is almost taboo — one that prevents solutions from being found.

The numbers are depressing: The FBI counts no less than 160 such mass shooting incidents between 2000 and 2013. And it’s been increasing. Between 2000 and 2006 there were seven weeks separating such incidents, but since 2007 the interval shrank to but three weeks. And that does not even count the recent bizarre attack on Dallas Police headquarters with an armored vehicle.

Have we gone mad? I think so.

Derangement has many faces: the victims are heterogeneous. The Chattanooga killings were politically motivated, while the Charleston killings had racial hatred as a motive. But the proximate cause can also be religious hatred: six killed at the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin by a racist white supremacist; three Muslim students killed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and three people were killed in front of a Jewish Community Center in Kansas. It can be fueled by misogynist resentment as were the murders in Isla Vista. Other mass murders don’t fit neatly in one category: 20 of the 26 killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were children; the 12 killed in the Aurora movie theater were random movie goers. The unifying theme in all of these mass murders is the derangement of the perpetrator. Their hatred and venom can be directed at just about any ethnic and religious group or gender — including you and me.

And then let’s not forget that there are no less than 30 “normal” murders in which the victims are fewer than three, are either known to the perpetrator, or occurs in the course of a conventional robbery or something like that. Moreover, there are 100 suicides daily. Suicides are the third highest cause of death among people ages 15-24, and among men in their 50s the rate just about doubled in the course of the 21st century. These trends, in addition to mass murders, should worry us deeply.

But I thought that Making Sen$e covered economic issues. What has all this got to do with economics? A lot. We desperately need universal mental health insurance and other social services, particularly in schools that would provide a safety net to help identify mental illness and provide psychological treatment in a timely manner. And that means taxes.

Early intervention is crucial, because children with behavioral problems in school are much more likely to get into trouble with the law as adults. In a 25-year study in New Zealand such children were more than 10 times as likely to commit violent crimes as children with normal behavioral patterns. Preventive treatment would support families who do not have the means to pay for psychiatric help out of pocket.

There is ample evidence that interventions promoting mental health reduce crime and violence significantly. Mass murderers often exhibit depressive symptoms and anti-social behaviors for an extended period, as did the recent killers in Moneta and Lafayette. That means that there is a window of opportunity to help these individuals cope with their mental challenges.

Of course, a universal mental health care could only be financed through taxes. And as long as the wealthy refuse to be taxed appropriately, we are not going to be able to provide the safety net to help those in desperate need. We are simply not going to be able to go to the movies, to school or to church with peace of mind.

The spirit of the times is dominated by an anti-government world view wishing to deprive the government of as much revenue as possible. The strategy is often referred to as “starving the beast.” (Note that spending trillions of dollars for regime change in the Middle East is exempted from this strategy.) Unfortunately, a starving beast is unable to take care of its people and the people do not have the means to take care of their mental health by themselves especially in a sour economy.

As a consequence of this conundrum, public goods such as mental health facilities and social services in schools are in short supply. A long time ago the Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith contrasted our “private affluence” with “public squalor.”

Let’s face it: happy, mentally stable people do not commit murder. All of the 10 countries in which people are happiest (Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Canada, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia) have universal health insurance that includes ample provisions for mental health. The murder rate in the U.S. is on average no less than five times as high as it is in these countries. Moreover, as a percentage of GDP, the expenditure on social services is 20 percent lower in the U.S. than in these 10 countries. The implication is obvious: For a happy population and a low homicide rate, a country has to take care of its citizens, and the only way to finance that is through taxes.

The problem in the U.S. is that the ultra-rich have fought for and gotten an incredibly good tax deal. Even the billionaire investor Warren Buffett thinks that the super-rich are being coddled. We can hardly expect the poor to pay for the additional taxes needed, and the middle class is struggling to keep up with its student loan and credit card debt payments (together adding up to an amazing sum of nearly $2 trillion.) So the only common sense thing to do is to ask the super-rich to cut down on their conspicuous consumption for the common good. After all, they were the only beneficiaries of the bailout of the financial sector at the community’s expense. And how many of the super-rich would be able to earn the kind of millions they do today if it were not for the government subsidized basic research that brought us the Internet and satellite networks sponsored by the community? This is as good a time as any to pay back the community.

Let’s keep in mind that those who earn between $200,000 and $500,000 pay an average of 20 percent taxes, while those who earn above $500,000 effectively pay 23 percent. That is not progressive enough. Let’s keep in mind that median household income is $52,000 and pay an average of 8.5 percent taxes. So a household that enjoys an income of $500,000 has roughly 10 times the median income, but the rate at which they are taxed is merely 2.5 times as high.

Here are some facts about the ultra-rich from IRS data: there were about a million IRS returns above the $500,000 threshold in 2012 with a total income of $1.8 trillion. The average income in this group was $1.7 million, and they paid $423 billion in taxes. So their combined after-tax income was some $1,433 billion or $1.3 million per return. Suppose we’d reduce the after-tax income in this elite group to a round number of $1 million per household by collecting an additional $300,000 per return in taxes. That $1 million allowance should give them plenty of opportunities to continue their conspicuous consumption albeit at a slightly reduced rate, but at the same time enable Uncle Sam to collect an additional $329 billion. The average tax rate of these million individuals would increase from 23 percent to 40.5 percent, but would be about the rate they would have without deductions and still much less than the top tax rate under the Carter administration which was still 70 percent!

I accuse my economist colleagues, who teach that taxation is inefficient and distorts the free market of complicity, of misleading the public in promoting a worldview in which starving the beast dominates. In their view, taxes are supposedly inefficient because they reduce the incentive for highly productive workers to work, so they’ll work less, thereby decreasing total income. However, this inference is based on inappropriately oversimplified assumptions. It assumes that the CEOs would actually work less if their tax rate increases.

According to their claim, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Inc. who earns about $400 not per day, not per hour, but per minute, would work less if his salary were reduced to $300 per minute or even $200 per minute. I seriously doubt it. Would Beyoncé sing fewer songs if her taxes were doubled? Would LeBron James play fewer games? I doubt that too.

In fact, there is no empirical evidence that higher taxes on the super-rich would bring forth less managerial skills. After all, lower managerial salaries have not hurt German, Swiss or Japanese firms even though their CEOs make a fraction of their counterparts in the U.S. Not counting stock options, average CEO pay in the 15 largest companies was $10.4 million in the U. S., but “merely” $3.6 million in the Netherlands, $6.8 million in Germany and $6 million in Australia.

Including stock options, the average U.S. CEO earned some $24.4 million in 2007. Between 2003 and 2007, CEO compensation increased by 45 percent in the U.S., while the pay of the average worker increased by barely 3 percent. Today a CEO earns more than 350 times the earnings of an average worker. In 1980, the comparable ratio was closer to 50. Could it be that the productivity of CEOs has increased by a factor of seven relative to the rest of the workforce? No way! Their product is a joint effort, so it is nearly impossible to allocate productivity gains among the participants. Moreover, relative productivity of CEOs did not increase so much in other countries. In the Netherlands, for example, the ratio is “only” 103. Rather, these distortions are due to deficiencies of corporate governance.

As a matter of fact, economists Paul Samuelson and William Nordhaus write in their influential textbook Economics, “Empirical evidence… suggests that the damage of taxes on work effort is limited… Most studies find that taxes have only a small impact on labor effort for middle-income and high-income workers.”

Thus, efficiency would not at all be reduced by increasing the taxes of the super-rich, because they would continue to be as productive as before. Furthermore, their contribution would enable us to invest in mental health which would lower the murder rate and thereby improve the quality of life. After all, the saved lives would contribute to efficiency. The lower anxiety level and improved security would also contribute to the quality of life — that should count toward efficiency as well. What kind of life is it when we are worried if our children go to school or to the movies or to the mall or to church? That cannot be a decent life. Increased taxes on the ultra-rich would lead to a safer and more relaxed society, which, in turn, would improve our sense of well-being.

Note that our annual expenditures on mental health care amounts to $135 billion, so the additional revenue would enable us to provide universal mental health care coverage and enable us to more than triple expenditures on mental health. That should greatly reduce mass murder and the homicide rates, hopefully to that of European levels. That has to be our absolute goal.

And there can be no conversation on how to prevent mass murders without mentioning the need for a sane system of gun control. Other democratic societies such as the United Kingdom can do it, why can’t we? Switzerland has restrictive gun laws, even though it allows reservists to keep a rifle at home (but without ammunition), and still retains its status as a model democracy to be emulated. In short, we must overcome our firearm fetishism.

The recent ghastly mass murders in Moneta, Chattanooga, Charleston and Lafayette in quick succession should be a catalyst to reduce our fascination with firearms. The inconvenient truth is that we are experiencing an epidemic of mass murder based essentially on mental health challenges of the perpetrator and their extremely easy access to dangerous firearms. This must be the moment to come to our senses and set entirely new priorities for our society in vigorously confronting the mass murder epidemic head on. We will never be able to lead decent lives unless we are capable of reigning in the terror at home, because we will continue to live with constant anxiety.

Instead of vacuous slogans of growing the economy and ineffective lamentations about the vicious murders, which will do absolutely nothing to lower the murder rate, we should set ourselves the explicit goal of reducing mass murders in the same way President John F. Kennedy declared the goal of reaching the moon within a decade. Ask the parents of the Sandy Hook Elementary School disaster if they’d agree with such a national mobilization at any price. We cannot do that on borrowed money. The only way to accomplish such a goal is by paying for it through additional taxes and a reduction in the conspicuous consumption of the super-rich. There is no getting around that. Continuing a policy of starving the beast will be the equivalent of shooting ourselves in the foot.

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