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tv   The News Hour With Jim Lehrer  PBS  August 25, 2009 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: good evening. i'm gwen ifill. on the newshour this tuesday, the lead story: ben bernanke wins reappointment as head of the federal reserve, as the deficit balloons.
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judy woodruff takes a look. the other news of the day: half of the nation at risk for swine flu this fall, and we look at how the government is preparing; fred de sam lazaro tells the story of drug-resistant malaria in cambodia; and jeffrey brown talks to pbs journalists from around the country about how the economic and health care debates are hitting home. major funding for the newshour with jim lehrer is provided by: >> what the world needs now is energy. the energy to get the economy humming again. the energy to tackle challenges like climate change. what is that energy came from an energy company? everyday, chevron invests $62 million in people, in ideas-- seeking, teaching, building. fueling growth around the world
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to move us all ahead. this is the power of human energy. chevron. intel. supporting math and science education for tomorrow's innovators. the national science foundation. supporting education and research across all fields of science and engineering. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: president obama nominated the chairman of the federal reserve, ben bernanke, to a second term today.
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the bernanke vote of confidence happened at the same time two government reports projected much higher budget deficits over the next ten years. judy woodruff has our lead story report. >> the man next to me, ben bernanke, has led the fed through one of the worst financial crises that this nation and the world has ever faced. >> reporter: the president picked the middle of his family vacation on martha's vineyard to break the news. >> he's an expert on the causes of the great depression. i'm sure ben never imagined that he would be part of a team responsible for preventing another. but because of his background, his temperament, his courage and creativity, that's exactly what he has helped to achieve. >> i'd like to express my gratitude to president obama for the confidence she's shown in me with this nomination. and for his unwavering support for a strong and independent federal reserve. >> reporter: the white house timing of the announcement deluded the sting from some
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bad news released today. the president's budget director projected record high deficits for the next decade. of $9 trillion. 2 trillion higher than earlier estimates. meanwhile the congressional budget office projected 7.4 trillion dollar deficits over ten years. the lower figure factors in the 2011 expiration of the bush era tax cuts for wealthy americans. both forecasts said the unemployment rate would rise to 10%. and remain there through next year. chairman bernanke's current term ends next january. he will need to be confirmed again by the senate in order to serve a second four-year term. the president said he had earned it. >> ben approached the financial system on the verge of class with calm and wisdom. with bold action, and out of the box thinking. that help put the brake on our economic free fall. almost none of the decisions
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that he or any of us made have been easy. the actions we've taken to stablize our financial system to repair our credit markets, restructure our auto industry and pass a recovery package have all been steps of necessity, not choice. >> reporter: but those choices have brought bernanke criticism as well as praise. the fed did little to reign in mortgage lending practices that contributed to the housing market's collapse and the credit crisis. bernanke helped shepherd the rescue of one investment bank, failing bear stearns, and last fall was involved in the decision to let another, lehman brothers, go into bankruptcy. he was also involved in bank of america's controversial acquisition of merrill lynch. he later pushed for the something shally approved large bank bailout of last fall. the fed pumped an additional $2 trillion into the banking system to stablize it. and through it all, bernanke
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has kept interest rates at record lows. near zero. this morning the chairman spoke of his decision as he looked forward. >> we have been bold or deliberate as circumstances demanded. but our objective remains constant, to refor a more stable financial and economic environment in which opportunity can again flourish and in which americans' hard work and creativity can receive their proper rewards. >> reporter: last week bernanke gave a cautiously optimistic appraisal of that objective, telling a meeting of global banking officials that the u.s. economy is poised for growth. for a closer look at the fed and budget news, we turn to maya macguineas, president of the committee for a responsible federal budget and director of the fiscal policy program at the new america foundation, a non- partisan think tank in washington. krishna guha, u.s. economics editor at the financial times. and david wessel, the author of "in fed we trust: ben bernanke's
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war on the great panic." he's also the economics editor of the "wall street journal." thank you all three for being here. david wessel to you first, why did the president do this, what were the pros that outquestioned the cons? >> the president figured that replacing the driver of the car when the road is still so bumpy and curvey was risky. i think the president decided that continuity rather than change, despite his off site commitment to change, was wiser. and i think the president looked at the alternative to bernanke and thought, you know, this guy isn't such a bad guy after all. >> woodruff: krishna guha, this is the man who was there when the recession was coming, among many others, didn't see it coming. and would argue that his policy that he pursued were part of what brought this recession on. >> well, it's certainly true that chairman bernanke did not perceive the trouble that was brewing, along with most other people. and some of the ideas he
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advanced in the precrisis period, i think he'd think differently about today. but let's not forget, he was only fed chairman for a year and a half or so before this crisis erupted in august of 2007. and it's really impossible to pin the blame for it on him. >> woodruff: david, do you have any sense that anybody else was seriously considered? >> no. we know that larry summers, the president's close economic advisor, has always been rafrded as a rival to mr. bernanke. there were other people who might have been on the list. but our reporting is that once president obama, working with chief of staff emanuel and treasury secretary geithner, focused on the choice they had, they didn't spend much time before they came to the conclusion that in this case continuity was wise and they'd offer him a second term. >> woodruff: your reporting was the same? >> yes. >> woodruff: and krishna guha, he still has to be confirmed by the senate. what should we expect? >> i would be astonished if he
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was not confirmed. but i think it will be a fairly rockry ride. there are a lot of people in congress, who although they credit bernanke for doing everything he could to stop this crisis, are very uneasy about this extraordinary use of fed powers about the way he's been in a sense creating money to pump liquidity into the markets to bias sets. a lot of people in congress don't like that. they fear the concentration of powers in the fed. and so there's going to be some tough questions asked. >> woodruff: david, what's your sense of how the senate process will go? >> i agree with krishna. i think confirmation is almost a certainty. but mr. bernanke and the fed have become a lightning rod for congress hall and public hostility towards the bailout of wall street. he did a good job trying to prevent his side of the story on the news hour and on "60 minutes". but there are a number of members of congress who are looking forward to an opportunity to whack him again, and i'm sure they will. it's important for mr. bernanke that he get through this process with his credibility intact.
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and with some sense that congress does respect the independence of the fed when it comes to making monetary policy moving interest rates. my expectation is like that, but as krishna suggests, it could be a little rocky if they start beating up on him. >> woodruff: ryan mcginnes in, one of the things that will make his life difficult had the months and years to come assuming he's confirmed, are these other numbers that came out today, big, big deficit numbers for the coming decade. tell us what's behind those numbers, what's driving this? >> those are big deficit numbers and they couple the announcement of bernanke with the announcement of deficit numbers, very purposely, didn't they. that was an obvious smafrt move. but what they have to deal with now is a very difficult tight rope walk between helping to let the economic recovery continue, you don't want to start balancing the budget right away, but actinging that his deficit number, tremendously scary and pose a real risk to the recovery. so the new deficit numbers
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show that there will be $2 trillion more over the next ten years added to the deficit. that's a wakeup call that we have to oh come up with a medium term budget plan. and these numbers aren't all from the economic downfurnish, a lot of these are policy driven. the white house has new policys that would make the deficit worse over the medium term. so not all because of efforts to fix the economy. >> no, i don't look at the big deficits this year and say we have a problem. i say that was very appropriate for the downturn. but we have these huge deficits ten years out, and many are because we have policys that will make the situation worse, and we don't enough that will tackle the big deficit. health care is the only one that's being pursued now. we'll see what happens with that, and that's not enough either. >> woodruff: how much, is the administration in a position to change these deficits? or are these number statics, weather we stuck with these? >> they're going to have to. we're going to get out of this one way or to the, either through leadership or a crisis, and let's hope it's
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through the white house and congress coming together and tackling these things. they're going to have to look at slowing the growth of health care costs as a key component of health care reform, but they also have to look at other policys from defense to social security, to taxes. these are the kinds of things, political consultants are not eager to do. but they are what these numbers make clear there's no choice but to tackle them. >> connect these bad deficit numbers to what the administration needs to do about this recovery and the job that ben bernanke has facing him now. >> well, as maya says, the real threat here is the long-term deficit. a structural deficit that look as if they'll still be around long after the immediate crisis has faded. this is a problem on a number of levels. as far as the recovery is concerned, people worry that at some point the bond market is going to get sick of this supply of american government. investors, foreign and domestic, will ask for higher rates of return, making it of course more expensive for the
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federal government to borrow money. this could crown out, private sector, and weaken the recovery. it must be said though at this point the bond market is actually reasonably relaxed. the yields are low, and that's because there's really no competition for savings right now. private sector is not borrowing, people are trying to pay down debt. but at some point in the feature this will be a problem. >> woodruff: how much of a problem will it be for the federal reserve board chairman, david, assuming he is confirmed for the second term? >> i think it's part of the environment that mr. bernanke faces over the next four years if he's confirmed. we borrow, as krishna says, an enormous amount of money, and a lot it comes from foreigners. part of bernanke's job will be to assure them that he has a policy that will keep the american economy relatively inflation-free, and protecting the value of the dollar. because if they think that we're going to have inflation if he's going to bow to political appreciater and wait too long to tighten credit, or
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if they think he wants to let the dollar fall rather than raise interest rates, they may look elsewhere to put their savings, and that may force higher interest rates here, and that would make the cost of capital more expensive, it would make buying homes more expensive, and that's something he wants to avoid. >> woodruff: ryan mcginnes in, as someone who watches the budget very closely, the fact that the federal reserve has essentially gotten into fiscal policy making, it's been the fed that is putting out what, trillions of dollars over the last few months to try to fix what's going on. >> that's right. monetary policy and fiscal policy are now more combined than they have been. and chairman bernanke has been stressing the for stands of responsible budgeting, and sustainant in the budget. part of the reason is political. congress was not eager to have to get involved with all of these bailouts and tarp, and
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all the different things that it was a big political push to get the stimulus done. and it was quite helpful, i believe, that the fed came in and started doing some of these things and helping the liquidity and helping the still luls. the challenge is two-fold, we have to think about an exit strategy for the fed and also an exit strategy in fiscal policy, how to time those, how to sequence them. there's a lot of moving parts here. >> woodruff: you refered to that a few minutes ago, krishna. how big a problem is that for bernanke? what are the choices he has before him? >> well, he's got to figure out both how to unwind these extraordinary measures he's put in place to support the financial system and the economy, and when to pull the trigger. although a lot of the concern is about how he might do it, my feeling is that in the end the really tough call is when. wait too long and you'll get too much inflation. unwind too soon, and we could still have a double dip recession. >> woodruff: how will he know, david, when it's the right moment?
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>> we have to pray that he has just a great gut. it's a very difficult call. and it requires acting before it's clear. one of the toughest problems that mr. bernanke will face is that it will inevitably be his judgment that the time to raise interest rates and tighten is before most americans believe the economy is healthy and the members of congress and the president's political advisors think the tightening is prudent. and the trip will -- trick will be to have the political courage to do what he thinks right even though it will be on doubtedly controversial. >> woodruff: and it's an election year next year. >> it is. >> i'm not certain it will be in play when you have high unemployment numbers, nobody will want to do the -- coming up with deficit reduction plans, those are not popular things. but it a tricky balancing act that if you don't do this quickly enough, you'd lead to inflation or debt spiral. and if do you it too quickly, you can derail the recovery.
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>> woodruff: finish this off, mr. guha. >> i think his judgment so far is pretty good. but let's remember, we're halfway into a game of hearts here. in fighting the crisis he's been extraordinarily active and on balance most people think quite successful. but he's got the second half ahead. getting us back to normal without getting inflation, without getting a renewed recession. so in some sense our assessment of ben bernanke is still provisional today. >> woodruff: all right. good note to leave it on. david wessel, thank you, krishna guha, maya mcginnes in, thank you all three, appreciate it. >> ifill: >> ifill: chairman bernanke talked with jim lehrer at a newshour forum last month in kansas city. you can watch that session on our web site at newshour.pbs.org. in other news, a somber milestone was reached in the war in afghanistan today.
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with the deaths of four american soldiers in a bombing in the south, 2009 became the deadliest year for international troops since the war began eight years ago. at least 295 foreign soldiers have died this year, one more than in all of 2008. in southern afghanistan, at least 41 people were killed when a string of five car bombs exploded in kandahar. the bombs went off simultaneously in the center of the city. more than 60 people were wounded. in the latest political developments in afghanistan, the first preliminary results from last week's presidential election trickled in. with only 10% of the ballots tallied, president hamid karzai has about 41% of the votes. his main challenger, abdullah abdullah, is close behind with nearly 39%. if neither candidate wins an outright majority, they'll be forced into a runoff. the taliban in pakistan
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confirmed for the first time their leader is dead. two taliban commanders told the associated press baitullah mahsud died on sunday of wounds suffered in a u.s. missile strike on august 5. pakistani and u.s. officials had said for weeks mahsud was likely killed in that strike. the two taliban aides also confirmed an earlier announcement that hakimullah mehsud now leads the pakistani taliban. in iraq, a group with links to al qaeda claimed responsibility for last week's deadly suicide truck bombings in baghdad. last wednesday the blasts targeted government buildings and killed more than 100 people, wounding hundreds more. a statement from the group, which calls itself the islamic state of iraq, said they intended to kill iraqi officials, and expose "the weakness of their government." the prime minister of britain made his first public comments today on the release of the lockerbie bomber. scottish officials let abdel baset al megrahi return to libya last week on what they called
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"compassionate grounds." he is dying of cancer. gordon brown condemned the hero's welcome megrahi was given at the airport in tripoli. but he insisted he had no input in scotland's decision to free him. >> i have to tell you that i was both angry, and i was repulsed by the reception that a convicted bomber, guilty of a huge terrorist crime, received on his return to libya. when i met colonel qaddafi over the summer, i made it absolutely clear to him that we had no role in making the decision about his future. >> ifill: scotland's decision to release megrahi has come under heavy criticism from u.s. officials, and from relatives of the 270 victims of the 1988 pan am 103 bombing. on wall street today, stocks held on to their recent gains with encouraging reports on consumer confidence and housing. the dow jones industrial average gained 30 points to close at 9539. and the nasdaq rose six points
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to close at 2024. but first as millions of school children head back to class this week, their back packs will be stuffed with note books, pencils and hand sanitizer. while the nation braces for a new outbreak of the h1n1 virus, known as swine flu, students and adults are learning all over again how to wash their hands. the president's council of advisors on sky expense technology reports children and young people are at special risk for infections, expected to peak in mid-october. its scenario, up to half the u.s. population could be infected. 1.8 million americans might require hospitalization, 300,000 of them in intensive
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care. and for 0 to 90,000 people the disease could be fatal. only 36,000, most of them elderly, die from the conventional flu each year. for more i'm joined by dr. ann schchat. at the centers for disease control and prevengs. welcome. >> thank you. >> do those numbers sound right to you, 60 to 120 million infections, 0,000 to 90,000 of them fatal? >> you know, the advisors offered a planning scenario that was men to be used to take this seriously, so that states and local health department,, the private sector, the public would be aware that things could be quite challenging. but we really can't predict exactly how much disease there's going to be this fall and winter. i can say we're working hard to be prepared and ready to pond. ifz so it's not necessarily a
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prediction? >> they use the words a planning scenario, right. >> ifill: how about, even if there's a possibility of they say 1.8 million hospitalizations, say it's only a million hospitalizations. sounds like a lot. is the u.s. hospital system prepared for that rate of admission? >> you know, we're working closely across government to strengthen the preparedness of the hospital system and the medical community in general. the government has released funds to strengthen hospital preparedness as well as state and local health preparedness, and we're carrying out a number of outreach activities this summer to work closely with the medical community and the public health community as well as communicators to really be as prepared as possible. things could be quite challenging, but we're all in this together and i think we have some time to strengthen further our preparedness efforts. >> ifill: there are different kinds of preparedness, prevention. one are the things we've heard so much about, washing hands, taking care to stay away from
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work and places like that if you think you may be sick. but there's also this question of a vaccine. how available will that vaccine be in time to try to head off some of these numbers? >> well, it's important for people to know that disease hasn't gone away. we continue to see transmission this summer and we're currently at higher levels of influenza disease than would be expected for this time of year. but do think that over the next several weeks as school kids return to classes we'll see increases. and we know that we won't have a vaccine before school kids are back in school. they're already back in school. so we have a number of weeks to months where we'll be needing to use other interventions. but we are work, carefully on vaccine development, testing and planning to implement the vaccination program. at this point we're expecting to be launching a voluntary vaccination program in the middle of october. so it's very important before then for people to remember those important steps they can take, washing their hands, staying home when they're sick,
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staying informed about what's going on. the vaccination program though we are working hard to be ready for. we're expecting doses to be online and available by mid-october. and that additional doses will be coming out every week. and we're working closely with the public health system as well as private providers to find ways to reach people who are recommended to receive vaccines. >> ifill: mid-october is the time the, that is the peak time. won't that be a little late for a vaccine? especially if you're one of the groups like pregnant women for very young people who are most at risk. >> influenza is very unpredictable and none of us really know when disease will peak in any given community. there's the seasonal flu that we do expect to occur this year, often that occurs between december and may every year. we think the h1n1 virus that emerged this year is likely to start to increase in occurrence before the seasonal strains come into prevalence.
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but we don't know in any given community when people oh -- when peak will occur. and we like to remind people that even this things peak, that means 50% of the cases that are going to occur haven't happened yet. so we think there's a lot we can do before vaccine is available and when vaccine becomes available to help protect people and the community. >> ifill: we saw a lot of school closing, a lot of quarantines, especially in other countries, in the earlier outbreak. can we expect to see that again this fall? >> we studied the spring situation as well as the situation in the southern hemispherer and have been able to update our guidance to schools and universities to try to find a balance between interventions that will help and interventions that might be more difficult on the population. for the current level of severity of what we're seeing with the h1n1 virus, we aren't expecting that school closures will be the general way to
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intervene. there are likely to be some school closures, but in general there are other ways we expect the disease to be handled. the principal one of course is staying home when you're sick. another key measure is washing your hands, covering your cough and sneezed and staying informed. so we know that schools are taking stes to be ready if they do immediate to dismiss students, but we think there's a lot of things that can happen without that being necessary. >> ifill: who covers the cost for the disruption, whether it's closing schools or in the private sector, individuals staying home who may not have enough sick leave and lose pay. >> that's a really important question. one of the very difficult things about flu is that it crosses all sectors, everyone is vulnerable to get flu or its complications, and every sector is affected. it's not something that only the health sector has to worry about, the business community, the education sector and so forth are all engaged. and across government we're working hard to address the policy issues that really make
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it challenging for people to stay home from work when they're sick or to keep their children home out of school. and i know that the education department is working hard on ways to help schools manage this challenge. times schools are paid based on the number of kids that are present on a certain day, and that might cause disincentives for kids to stay home when they're sick. so there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes to try to take care of some of those challenges that are really economic in nature. >> ifill: dr. schuchat, thank you for your thoughts. >> my pleasure. >> ifill: now, a story about the global threat of drug-resistant malaria. special correspondent fred de sam lazaro reports from cambodia. >> reporter: in the forests along the border with thailand, scientists have spotted early signs of drug resistant malaria that could threaten
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millions of lives far beyond these isolated villages. but their first challenge is finding patients. it's took nearly two hours for a team from the regional center to reach the village, which has seen several dozen malaria cases in recent weeks. is anyone you know ill, they asked? a short walk took them to this 22-year-old, she was too weak to work the family's small farm field. have you bond vomiting? but inside their tiny home, her 19-year-old brother wasn't eve -- was in tougher shape works a searing temperature that along with nausea and vomiting are malaria symptoms. both siblings agreed to be tested to confirm the diagnosis, before they got any treatment. until now, he had refused all help. >> even if you give him pills,
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if you're not paying attention, he'll throw them out. report he even refused to get free treatment at the health center because he's afraid of pills and needles. his sister didn't go because it cost too much to get there, and he didn't want to leave the house unguarded. there are lots of reasons people don't take advantage of the offer of free care. >> i don't want to go. there's no one to take care of the house. i'm afraid to leave it unattended for so long. >> reporter: so like most people who get ill around here, she got some pills from an aunt who bought them from a store. this is a typical example of how drug resistance can begin, a patient doesn't follow the prescription, and in this case takes only a partial dose. >> have you to take four dose, but this is only two dose. >> reporter: so she's taking the right stuff, but not sufficient amounts. taking less than a full dose means some parasites remain in the body. when they adapt and become
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immune to the drug. the cambodia health ministry )qgts are too poor to afford the whole dose. >> they have only enough money to buy -- >> reporter: not enough for the whole course? >> yes. and sometimes they get better, they feel that they don't need more medicine, so they throw the rest away. >> reporter: or they save it for somebody else, possibly. >> sure. >> reporter: another sort of partial dosing comes in counterfeit drugs, mostly from china and thailand. they contain only a fraction of the active ingredients, so they can be sold cheaply. sold without prescription, and mostly by people with no training. there are quality problems even in pharmacies, like this one we stopped by, in cambodia's second largest city. i s asked for malaria medications.
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so this is an acquired drug, it's on the shelf. a customer stopped by complaining of diarrhea, she's followed one antibiotic pill, there's no guarantee she'll return for the rest of what should be a three-pill regimen. >> she just came and took one pill. maybe they take one time, and then when they don't feel better they come back. >> reporter: the malaria parasite first became resist tab in the 70s, then another medicine. now there are at least nine resistance to the most effect currently on the market. >> we have to think what our next step will be. >> reporter: he co-authored one study, he's with the u.s. army, one of several international agencies working on a renewed effort to contain the problem here. it's sponsored largely by the bill and melinda gates foundation. the foundation is also an underwriter of the news hour. >> in very few instances those
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parasites do appear to return, and they appear to return despite the fact that there are adequate blood levels of anti-malarial in the blood. we're concerned that the resistance is occuring to the last widespread anti-malarial available. report there's no backup drug if this one fails. >> there are drugs in development at the moment, but there's no backup that's readily accessible at this point. >> reporter: the stakes are high in cambodia, where about 200 people died from malaria last year. but they are huge in africa, with thousands of mostly children dying every day. the history of previous malaria drugs that became ineffective is a disturbing guide. frzpreado2, to africa, and it's been documented by studies.
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if that pattern holds true and there's no reason to expect it wouldn't because of global travel today, that that's the pattern that's the concern to spread. there's an efforts on trying to contain parasites. >> reporter: the effort includes distributing bed mats to keep out mosquitoes, and stepping up screening. but most importantly the scientists want to limit the parasite's exposure to the drug, to preserve its effectiveness. so the government has banned its use as a slow low drug, it's allowed only in extreme cases in health centers. all others are to use a blend of older drugs that are no longer as effective by themselves, but work in combination. >> the good thing about this is it could be if it legitimate, treatable, but it's not part of the national regimen, so it's an example of how private sectors unregular ited. it could be good, could be
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bad. >> reporter: you just don't know if this is the real article. however, given the remote region, the lack of law enforcement, there's no guarantee it won't come in from illegal sources. >> what manufacturers, what some illicit manufacturers will do is put a small amount of the active drug in their product so that it can pass simple tests and so on, and also have some effect. and sell those at substantial profit. so there's a lot of stimulus to do that. there has been an effort with international policing agencies with health agencies and so on, to clamp down on this flow of drugs across the border, and that's one way that has been at least moderately effective. >> reporter: later this year in a european program, international agencies here hope to take a different tack against the illicit medicines. a price war to run the counterfeiters out of business. >> we have a new mechanism
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which would put heavily subsidized malaria drugs on the market and allow them to be sold at very low prices, a fraction of what they are currently being sold for, and therefore flood the market with high quality drugs, at will prices, that can actually undercut the illegal drug trade. >> reporter: the plan also calls for training local village volunteers to diagnose malaria cases, utilizing rapid test kits that are now available. >> take a little blood. and there's a solution you put here into the blood, it then my great here. migrates here. like a simple pregnancy test. >> reporter: some individuals are reached far sooner. >> make sure to take all the pills we have good afternoon you. >> reporter: as the team suspected, there was a lot of the deadly parasite in her blood.
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the sister, because she took medicine, had a lower level of infection. after they had urged her to take all her pills and issued a dire warning about her brother. if you can, you must take him to the hospital. do not worry about the money. he doesn't get treatment, he's going to die. i don't want to scare you, but that's the truth. if you didn't take the pills, you would have been just like him. >> reporter: the stern talk was enough to coax him to take at least the first of the four doses in the combination therapy. for the team it was one tiny step in a very long journey to contain drug resistant malaria and a much longer one to eradicate it i. >> ifill: now, in what's turned out to be an unusually restless august when it comes to debates about the economy and health care, we turn to reports from around the nation. jeffrey brown has our survey.
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>> brown: for that, we've asked four journalists and hosts of local pbs public affairs programs to join us. frederica friberg, of "here and now" on wisconsin public television. gene grant, of "new mexico in focus" on knme in albuquerque. nell mccormack of "smart talk" on harrisburg, pennsylvania's witf. and from tampa, rob lori, of wedu's "florida this week." we talked earlier on the program about ben bernanke, his recent pronouncement that the economy appeared to be leveling out, eve than as he cautioned about some continuing problems. how does that jive with where you are? >> well, that's what they say kind of on the coast here in the heart land, job loss still really hurts. this week we learned that mercury marine, expects to move 2,000 jobs out of the state of wisconsin, now our unemployment rate is at 8.7. but there are some pockets in this state, particularly in
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the region where the g. m. plant closed this summer, where the unemployment rate is at 18.5%. so if this recovery is coming, i think we here in wisconsin say bring it on. >> brown: nell abom, what's happening there? >> well, governor rendell this week said that business expansions are growing at a greater rate than business closings. for the first time in a year we have more job openings than we have jobs being lost. but at the same time he cautioned this is not a prediction for the future. right now that looked pretty good. but at the same time we have an unemployment rate of about 8.5%, and similarly we have certain pockets like the philadelphia area that's 10% unemployment. we have state college, which is where penn state university is, that's about 5.8%. but there are pockets all around the state where it's 9%, almost 10%, and those people are really hurting. since december of 2007 the beginning of this recession, pennsylvania has lost 183,000
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jobs. so it's significant to the people who lost those jobs or who are on the cutting edge. harley davidson, by big employer here, they're talking about leaving, that would be a substantial hit both to the seek e and to the reality of people being unemployed. >> brown: jean grant in albuquerque ke, any signs leveling out? >> i think what we've got going on here is a couple of things. we've got some significant revenue short falls couple with our state cough first to the tune of 450 million plus. we've got medicaid cuts being proposed about 300 million. we've got unemployment rate still hovering around 6%, so we've been pretty steady. housing has been interesting. one of the local realtor groups here is predicting, we're saying that they've got about 1,000 homes in the area that have come off the market. and they're hoping that that will have some hope for increase in price at some point soon.
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but it's always interesting when you talk about things like economic confidence in a place like new mexico. we have some very serious economic challenges, we're talking about the 45th state in per capita income. so when you talk about confidence and signs of things either riding or falling, you gotta look and really root around the nooks and cranny, but it all seems to come out to a bit of a wash right now. >> brown: rob lori in tampa, what are you seeing? >> i feel like i'm playing "top this." but florida has a 10.7 unemployment rate. florida was always golden, in the last 0 years since i lived here our economy has gotten better and better. the last two years with the recession we've seen that our unemployment rate is outpacing the national average by a percentage. the pillars of florida's economy include tourism, construction both housing and commercial and also agriculture and two of those killers are in the tank.
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if we don't see any sign that they're going to recovery. when florida recovers it's going to take a year beyond the national recovery. >> brown: let me stay with you. this competition that nobody wants to win, i guess, that you're refering to -- >> right. >> brown: tight it -- tie it out in to health care, because that is the most contentious debate of this summer. how do you see that playing out where you are and tied to some of the factors we've been talking about? >> there's a vigorous debate here in florida about health care, as there is nationwide. all the town hall meetings whether they're staff or held by democrats or republicans are packed with people. floridians want answers. here in florida, 27% of florida's population is without health insurance. the numbers here in florida are the fourth high ners the country. we've got a huge number of kids that are without health insurance. i was at the town hall meeting that was hosted by a local state representative and one of our congress members, kathy cast for, a tended a few weeks
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ago, and the big question from the protesters outside is we want details. we want an explanation, and they got no explanation. i think some people there were, were there to disrupt it. but some had legitimate questions. they want president obama to give more details about what he was proposing, and i think people want to have that discussion and they feel like they're not getting it. >> brown: are you seeing something like that where you are? >> well, certainly there are these town hall meetings being held by members of congress all across the state, and the one i attended was raucous, to say the least. and people do want details. the people i saw at the meeting i went to was in a republican district, and i would say better than half the people there were opposed, and then they worry about things like how much any health care plan, particularly the pup option, my cost. they worry about mandated care. they worry about all the kinds of things that we have heard. however, there were plenty of
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people there, particularly the unemployed, that were very abouted in some kind of a public option, and very much wanting health care reform. i should say, though, as opposed to florida that we've just heard, wisconsin has a very high rate of people who are insured. in fact, second only to massachusetts, less than 5% of the people in the state of wisconsin do not have health insurance. and that's because we have these state programs that get federal waivers where by people of certain incomes can have access to health care. so in wisconsin specifically, this debate comes around much less access and more about the cost of health care, which everyone is concerned about from small businesses to large businesses, to governmental entitys. >> brown: nell abom in harrisburg, what are you hearing, is it uncertainty, is it fear over what change might bring? >> i think that's certainly it. you've seen senator specter at
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his town meetings has been booed. but it was in lebanon county, which went for john mccain by 20 points so, he shouldn't have been priced that the president's plan ran into trouble here. pennsylvania has the third highest percentage of seniors, people over the age of 60. so these folks have insurance. they're happy, pretty much, with what they have. they fear the unknown. they fear some of the things that have been said out there about maybe they would be last on the list of getting services. so there's a great deal of uncertainty there. the other thing you have to consider in pennsylvania, we have one of only two states that still does not have a state budget. that fact that government seems not to be able to perform the core function, to pass a balanced budget every year, they haven't been able to do it. we're in day 57. people don't think government can function, and if you're coming to them and saying we have a government plan to provide health insurance, to change fundamentally the health care system we've had for the last 6 years, peel are
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not ready to buy it yet. and that's i think what these elected officials are experiencing across the state. bob casey held a form up on health care, he didn't get that kind of reception. we'll see what kind of reception he gets. but those are some of the factors that are underlying uncertainty and concern about this plan. >> brown: you're in a tate where the federal government has a fairly large role in the economy and many people's health care, i guess. through veterans, native americans. >> indian health services, absolutely, it's huge, like to the tune of 40 oh% of working new mexicans are under some kind of government run health care plan. so you don't see a lot of seniors with signs talking about getting the government out of their pocket while they have mayor medicare cards in their wallets, that doesn't quite play here. however, it's an interesting situation.
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you've got, gosh, like i said before, medicaid is an enormous part of new mexico's health care picture. and senator bingham, a senior senator in new mexico, a town hall meeting yesterday, that was ra00 al and calm, and people had some interesting questions. and the big push here now is for details. a lot of the town halls here, we have three freshman congressional members, senator udall has his first town hall tomorrow in the southern part of the state. but everyone is still talking in the broad strokes of it, and folks have been tracking this closely, they get it, they're not ready for platitudes, they're ready for details. so you can imagine what it would have been like to have an actual gang of six member. one of the things that was interesting about the town hall was the fact that he said a couple of interesting things.
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he quite calmly in his own interesting way said he would be somewhat consider at of the idea of going to reconciliation to get this done. i believe he might be the only gang of six member to date to go on the record to talk about reconciliation as an option. other things that came up, the senator made it clear that he would prefer to see some other things that were problematic, but public health care option is the big issue, of course. and all three house members here are supportive of it. he has made it clear that if that is what it's going to take, meaning not having a public option as part of the final bill coming out of the senate, he could go there, but his preference would be to have a public option, which of course played very well here. folks here in this state who are under some kind of public plan if you will for their health care coverage now, so people are comfortable witness, they get it. it's not demonized. government health care is not a demonized ten it the here.
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i think that might be an abouting thing for the country to watch as this moves along. >> brown: we will leave it there. thank you all very much. >> ifill: finally, the extraordinary tale of one of the world's most famous brains. that's the focus of tonight's premiere of "nova science now." a warning: there are explicit medical images in the excerpts we are about to show you. >> reporter: this is the braun that more than any other in history has allowed scientists to make sense of your brain. for 82 years it resided in the head of a man named henry gustave mullisom, better known as h. m., he was perhaps the most studied patient ever. and that didn't end when he died last year.
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with h. m.'s permission, the doctor went to work dissecting his brain into 3,000 slices. >> you can imagine the brain being like a book. the slices are the pages of this book. the slices are transparent, so you cannot really see anything, until you use a lot of obscure chemical processes to reveal the features of the tissue. eventually the entire book will be completely stained, and they will tell us the story of this brain. >> reporter: it's a story that begins with epilepsy. epilepsy so severe that by 1953, h. m. had reached his breaking point. >> he had to stop working because of the frequency of seizures, it was just too dangerous. so he was basically at home with his parents, his life was on hold.
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>> reporter: in desperation, h. m. let surge on william scoville remove slivers of brain on either side of his head, each containing a sea horse shaped structure called a hip bowcampus. this might have seemed reasonable at a time when we knew almost nothing about memory. and it did quiet his seizures. though at a terrible cost. >> do you know what you did yesterday? >> no, i don't. >> how about this morning? >> i don't know. i don't, i can't tell you because i don't remember. >> reporter: h. m.'s condition might have seemed like simple dementia. but as the neuroscientist discovered, i was anything but. >> he would say right now it's that like waking from a dream, right now everything is clear. but what happened just before?
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>> reporter: h. m. a normal i. q., he could crack jokes, solve puzzles, even to some extent remember. so h. m. could remember everything that happened, prior to the operation. he could remember the trauma of is a childhood, he could remember going to school, working in the assembly plant. >> reporter: what he couldn't do was hold onto new information for more than a few minutes. in a moment of insight, millne concluded the hippocam pus must make long-term memories out of short ones. >> it showed that the abill toy to establish memories is local yearsed to this tiny area in the brain. >> reporter: f. h. m. had contributed nothing more, his fame would have been assured. but he would go on inspiring discoveries for decade. the next involved a pencil, a mirror and again brenda millner.
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>> she did this brilliant test in which he had h. m. draw the outlines of a star, without looking at the star, but looking into a mirror. >> reporter: it's hard at first to draw within the lines. but could h. m., like people with normal memory, learn to do it with practice? after three days and ten trials, his performance was nearly perfect. >> well, he said i thought this would be difficult, but it looks as though i've done pretty well. he had no memory of all these learning trials that he'd been through, and the beautiful learning. that was the real contrast. >> reporter: so, h. m. could remember a motor skill, but not recall a fact or an event. it was a key discovery, because it showed there were
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different kinds of memory dependent on different parts of the brain. >> ifill: >> ifill: "nova science now" can be seen on most pbs stations tonight. check your local listings for the time. you can also find a link to their web site by going to ours, newshour.pbs.org. >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day. president obama nominated the chairman of the federal reserve, ben bernanke, to a second term. and a string of car bombs exploded in kandahar, afghanistan. at least 41 people were killed and over 60 were injured. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. i'm gwen ifill. thank you, and good night. major funding for the newshour with jim lehrer is provided by: chevron.
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