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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  December 23, 2014 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: surprising new numbers show tremendous momentum for the u.s. economy, reaching its highest growth rate in a decade. we'll take a look at what economists are expecting for 2015. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. also ahead, peru's ruins have stood for centuries, but extreme el nino storms threaten to wash them away. we explore how archaeologists are bolstering the defenses of these ancient treasures, piece by piece. >> woodruff: plus, side by side on the front lines of battle, soldiers and their canine counterparts form a special bond in the face of danger. a look at man's best friend as his source of strength in
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combat. >> they were on a patrol and colton was shot by a taliban sniper, and he sort of fell where he was standing. and the dog's reaction was to climb on top of him, on his fallen body, and protect him. >> woodruff: those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> at bae systems, our pride and dedication show in everything we do; from electronics systems to intelligence analysis and cyber- operations; from combat vehicles and weapons to the maintenance and modernization of ships, aircraft, and critical infrastructure. knowing our work makes a difference inspires us everyday. that's bae systems. that's inspired work.
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>> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer. >> and the william and flora hewlett foundation, helping people build immeasurably better lives. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions 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: it turns out the summer surge of economic growth was even stronger than first thought. revised figures today showed the best performance since 2003. the government said the economy expanded at an annual rate of 5% from july through september. that was even better than the 4.6% showing during the spring months. we'll take a closer look at
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what's behind the numbers in just a few minutes, after the news summary. >> woodruff: wall street took the economic data as a reason to keep buying. the dow jones industrial average closed above 18,000 for the first time, with a gain of 64 points. the s&p 500 added 3, to finish at 2,082. the nasdaq fell 16 points, due to a drop in the biotechnology sector, to close at 4,765. >> ifill: protesters in new york plan to go ahead tonight with demonstrations against police use of force. they've rejected mayor bill de blasio's plea to suspend protests out of respect for the families of two murdered police officers. rafael ramos and wenjian liu were killed saturday by a gunman who later took his own life. de blasio and his wife laid flowers today at an impromptu memorial to the policemen. the mayor also led a moment of silence at the exact time of the shooting, and he appealed for understanding. >> we have to put divisions of
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the past behind us. they were left to all of us in this generation and we have to overcome them. we need to protect and respect our police, just as our police protect and respect our communities. we can strike that balance, we must. >> ifill: new york's police commissioner said today it's "unfortunate" that protest organizers are ignoring the mayor's call to suspend their activities. >> woodruff: the obama administration is touting new enrollment numbers for the federally run health insurance site. officials reported nearly 6.4 million americans have signed up. of those, 1.9 million are new customers. the rest were automatically re- enrolled. >> ifill: new york congressman michael grimm pleaded guilty today in a federal tax evasion case. the staten island republican was accused of hiding more than $1 million in sales and wages at a health-food restaurant. he entered a guilty plea to a
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single count of aiding in filing a false tax return. last month, grimm won re- election to a third term. he would not say today if he'll resign. >> woodruff: house republicans have charged for more than a year that the internal revenue service improperly targeted conservative groups for scrutiny. but an official report today, from the house oversight committee, found no evidence that the white house was involved. committee democrats say the report cherry-picked facts to fit a political narrative. >> ifill: in ukraine, parliament moved today to abandon the country's non-aligned status, possibly leading to eventual nato membership. the proposal passed with an overwhelming vote of 303 to nine. supporters insisted that ukraine pivot toward the west in its confrontation with russia. >> ( translated ): we cannot afford the luxury to have non- aligned status. we have no time and no money to waste and need urgently to build the ukrainian army in order to defend our homeland.
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we need to become part of the collective system of defence which is nato. ukraine's place is in europe, ukraine's place is in nato. >> ifill: russia called the move counterproductive, and said it will only worsen relations between moscow and kiev. >> woodruff: there's word that hundreds of libyans have died in the fighting that's gripped their country since late august. the united nations warned today of a humanitarian crisis. it said at least 120,000 people have fled their homes. at the same time, a u.n. envoy said rival factions have agreed to hold new peace talks next month. >> ifill: amnesty international accused islamic state fighters today of forcing hundreds of iraqi women and girls into sexual slavery. the victims belonged to the yazidi religious minority. they were captured in august when the militants overran the town of sinjar near the syrian border. amnesty says girls as young as ten faced torture, rape and forced marriages.
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>> woodruff: an islamic state ally blamed for beheading a french hiker in algeria, has been killed. the algerian military announced today that troops ambushed and killed abdel-malek gouri last night, after a three-month manhunt. he had been a top al-qaeda commander before forming his own group. >> ifill: 2014 was another deadly year for journalists. the committee to protect journalists says at least 60 reporters, photographers and others were killed, nearly a third of them in syria. the total is down from 70 last year, but all told, the past three years are the deadliest on record for news professionals. >> ifill: still to come on the newshour: new figures show record growth for the us economy, but can the recovery sustain itself in the new year? who's really behind the sony hacking attack? not everyone blames north korea. archaeologists trying to protect some of the western hemisphere's oldest treasures from destruction. the f.d.a. recommends lifting
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its ban on gay blood donors. hope for opening the door to a cuban import that may give major league baseball a lift. and, meet the war dogs who join soldiers in some of the world's most dangerous places. >> woodruff: let's take a closer look at what was behind today's strong numbers on the economy and impressive recent growth. for that, we turn to nariman behravesh, he is the chief economist at i.h.s., an economic forecasting and research firm. nariman behravesh, thank you very much. so what's behind this? what's driving this? >> well, the good news is it's fairly broad-based. the revision that we saw today was mostly due to two factors, consumer spending which is revised up in large part because of reestimates of higher spending on healthcare.
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but that wasn't the only thing. capital spending was also revised up quite considerably. so it's a fairly broad-based upward revision in gdp. the goods in, as you said at the outset of the program, is there's a lot of momentum in the u.s. economy and that will keep us going for a while. >> woodruff: seems like just yesterday we were being told that the economy was not picking up. so does this represent a sudden turnaround or were the fundamentals there all along? >> no, the fundamentals were definitely there all along. let's just look at the consumer for the moment. if you look at things like employment growth, the strongest in over ten years, consistently throughout 2014. consumer finances in great shape. consumer debt levels relative to take holm pay the lowest since 2002. the big drop in gasoline prices like an $80 billion to
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$100 billion tax cut to consumers, that's money right into their pockets. so alof this is good news and fundamental changes. these are sustainable changes that will keep consumer spending growth going for some time soivment we've also been reporting regularly for some time probably all this year that even though we're starting to see some good economic statistics out there, most people aren't feeling it, and that's, in large part, due to the fact wages have been stagnant. what do you see on the pay front front? >> you're absolutely right. certainly the employment recovery has been there, but the wage recovery has not. until recently, i should say. the most recent numbers, the november numbers, for example, on wages, did show an upward movement. the income data that came out today suggested doesn't growth in terms of wages and salaries. so we may actually be seeing the beginnings of a recovery on the wage front. but as you say, the fact that
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that hasn't, until just very recently, recovered, makes people feel like what recovery? they're not seeing it in any meaningful way in terms of their salaries and what they're taking home. >> woodruff: is there an explanation for why wages are starting to go up? >> well, there's been a variety of explanations as to what has been going on and why that's changing now. certainly one of them is, until very recently, there's been a lot of slack, if you will, in the labor market, and that's beginning to disappear, in the sense that the labor market is beginning to tighten. and that inevitably results in high wage growth and we're in the early stages of that here in 2014, and i think we'll see more wage growth in 2015. which is good for the economy. means the consumers will have more to spend and the recovery will be sustained for a while longer. >> woodruff: so what is the outlook for 2015? what are you seeing?
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>> well, the way to say it is that the underlying growth rate of the u.s. economy now is around 3%. you know, we'll get quarters of 5%, we may get quarters a little less than that, but the average is going to come out around 3%, which is very solid. so that's the kind of number we're seeing for 2015. again, quarter by quarter, it's going to bump up and down. it will depend on the weather maybe, some special factors, but solid 3% average in 2015. >> woodruff: and you and other folks who watch this feel confident about that? >> well, anything can happen, obviously. there's the unknown unknowns, if you want to say it that way, or, you know, the stuff that could happen that you can't even begin to predict. but if we don't get a bad shock, if you will, then certainly i think it's easily going to be that 3%. and all the foundations of growth are there, especially in terms of consumer spending and capital spending.
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so barring some horrible shock, yes, i think we're pretty confident we'll see that 3%. >> woodruff: the only other question i have nariman behravesh is how long will this last? >> at least a couple of years, in the sense that inflation is not a problem, and usually that leads to some -- you know, aggressive tightening by the federal reserve which we don't see for the next couple of years. so 3% plus or minus growth through 2016 i think is quite achievable. >> woodruff: nariman behravesh, great to have good news for a change. thank you. >> ifill: sony pictures entertainment revived plans today to release its comedy about a plot to kill north korea's leader. it was the latest twist in a saga that's played out in hollywood, pyongyang and washington. today's announcement means "the interview" will begin showing
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christmas day, the original release date, at potentially hundreds of independent theaters around the country. in a statement, the studio's c.e.o. michael lynton said sony had always intended to release it: sony yanked the film last week, after major theater chains refused to screen it, in the face of threatened violence by a hackers group. the same group had already carried out a massive hacking of sony's computer system. on friday, president obama and the f.b.i. formally blamed north korea. >> we will respond proportionally, and we'll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose. >> ifill: but the president today applauded sony's latest move. yesterday, north korea was hit by an internet shutdown that continued sporadically today. but the state department refused
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to confirm or deny any u.s. role in the outage. >> the president has spoken to what our potential response is, separate and apart from what we've seen over the last 24 hours might be. and i leave it to the north koreans to talk about if their internet was up, if it wasn't and why. >> ifill: almost all of north korea's web links pass through china, but beijing flatly denied it had any role in the cyber- attack. when president obama laid blame for the sony hack squarely at north korea's door, some cyber security experts were skeptical, and remain so. the debate continues in journals, blogs and here tonight, with two experts from cyber security companies who have tracked breaches around the world. marc rogers is principal security researcher at cloudflare, and, joining us again, dmitri alperovitch, co- founder and chief technology officer at crowdstrike. dmitri alperovitch, you came on the program last week and made
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the case that the president was correct and that the f.b.i. was correct and this was definitely, definitely north korea. why so certain? remind people why are we so certain of that? >> i can't speak for the f.b.i. or u.s. government who are very certain but i can speak for crowdstrike who has done independent analysis and we have tracked it to a group active since 2006, primarily south korea, u.s. forces korea are looking for military planning, exercises observe the peninsula, things of natural concern and importance to north korea. we've seen them engage in destructive attacks like the sony attacks in colluding use of same infrastructure, some i.p. addresses used in the attack on sony were used in some of the past attacks and part of the malware, the code used in sewny, has been shared across some of the previous attacks, so we've seen them attack south korea in 2009, 2011, 2013, so we have a tremendous amount of visibility into this group.
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>> ifill: sounds persuasive, marc rogers. what's your problem with that? >> the biggest problem is a lot of this information is based on evidence that isn't accessible to a lot of folks. so if you look at the evidence that the f.b.i. passed out in its notice, on its own, it's largely speculative and it's not backed up by any really solid evidence. there are hints, however, that there may be things like signals intelligence and other information they can't disclose for national security purposes. unfortunately, without having that information there's no way for other security experts to really validate that. my colleague dmitri has access to channels other folks don't have, so to me it's interesting to hear the stuff he's talking about. but until i see tangible stuff myself, seems more than just correlations between certain pieces of malware, i'm going to remain skeptical. >> ifill: let's break it down a little bit, dmitri alperovitch. let's talk just about the i.p.
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address issue which the american government is making the case we're familiar with these i.p. addresses, that they have been used in other hacks. is that part of the evidence you're talking about? >> well, what they're actually saying is something different. there are certain i.p. addresses used in the attack directly on sony. what the f.b.i. said is they have observed presumably through signals intelligence that those machines were actually contacting north korean structure. they were going through proxies but they were able to observe the connections between the proxies and the north korean structure used in past attacks. >> ifill: proxies is different than saying north korea itself is involved. it's saying somebody else was doing it on their behalf? >> i mean the machines, not necessarily the people. you don't attack directly through a country. you go through servers in germany or thailand. >> ifill: does that sound
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reasonable to you that maybe it's not the north korean government as a state actor but the north korean government going through proxies? >> it's certainly plausible. i've said all i long you can't rule out north korea as being behind this, but we need evidence that ties into it. the proxies dmitri mentioned are fairly well known. if you look up i.p. addresses looking at representation ace long line, you will see they involve malware campaigns and used by other cybercriminals, so no surprise to see someone else is using those, and the north koreans. to say bad guys are in the neighborhood doesn't tell me who they are. >> ifill: is this something you would know? as you suggested ukes the federal government, the f.b.i. maybe has information that backs this up that you wouldn't have? >> that's entirely possible but it's difficult to be swayed by an argument where somebody says
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we have absolute proof because we have signals intelligence that tells us this is it but we don't county tell youn't ate. when it comes to laying blame at a foreign government, we have to be pretty careful. i'm no fan to have the north korean regime and, to be honest, if they are responsible, i hope this gets hung around their neck, but we have to make sure that we have absolute solid evidence, and i believe the evidence should be dealt with in a transparent way as possible. obviously, we don't want the n.s.a. to destroy leaks or sources they use, but, at the same time, we would give a certain amount of evidence before convicting a person of a crime. why doesn't a country deserve the same level of evidence? >> one of the piece of evidence we can't ignore is the statements from north korea themselves. they came out in the summer long before the movie was released saying the release of this movie would be an act of war. i think we should take them at their word. in the fast when they've made such inflammatory statements, they've sunk south korean ships,
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sun,et cetera. on prereleased movies like annie and furiy, the one release they did not release was the interview. >> ifill: an interesting point marc rogers made is if you're going to lay that kind of allegation hat the door of an enemy or hostile government, shouldn't there be more revealed about why we know that? >> i think they revealed some things. certainly some security companies like ours revealed other information. my guess is they're biding their time, that there will come a point where they will reveal more. though don't feel like they need to at the moment. >> ifill: marc rogers, i want to ask you about another point that dmitri alperovitch just made which is some of the movies released online and some weren't and the threats were made, is it possible that the knowledge that
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was on display here was actually something that came internally from someone within sony? >> again, you can't rule that out either. if you look at the way the malware was distributed throughout the network, how many machines it took down, how they were able to set up the edge of sony's network to distribute tone zoney's data later on, that required a certain level of access. the access could have come from attackers who had been sitting in that network for many, many months, or that access could have as easily come from somebody inside it. and when dmitri says that the one film that didn't get released was this one, we don't know that. we don't know how many films sony is working on so we don't know how many films didn't get released. also, with respect to the messages north korea makes, having spent years living in south korea myself, north korea
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makes these kinds of threats all the time. they're telling us constantly they're going to obliterate us. if you do this, we'll obliterate you. the number of their threats that have actually come true is the lower rather than higher percentage. that's not to dismiss some of the atrocities they have committed which are absolutely terrible. >> ifill: since we're talking about threats, we see the film will be in limited release probably later this week. if i were running an independent theater in austin, texas, that's going to begin showing this film at midnight on christmas day, should i be afraid? are they taking a risk at this point? >> gwen, you can be absolutely certain the companies involved in distribution of the movie are taking this movie seriously and working with companies like crowdstrike to make sure they're prepared. >> ifill: what do you think about that, marc rogers? >> i think it's highly unlikely
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the cinema in texas will face much threat from a regime or group of hackers. yes, there is some stuff these guys could do but i think it's unlikely. not something that's been seen before. when there is threats saying they will create 9/11 within a cinema, my skepticism goes all the way through the roof. >> i actually agree with marc on the physical threat but on the cyber perspective, i think it's real. >> ifill: thank you both very much. >> thank you very much. >> woodruff: now, a desert that's being overrun by rushing water. jeffrey brown looks at the effort to preserve ancient archeological sites in northern peru against the destructive power of el nino. it's part of his ongoing series, "culture at risk." >> brown: it looks like a giant sand castle.
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it's walls and towers slowly being reclaimed by the earth. this is the ancient city, nine square miles wide, once the largest in the americas and the largest adobe city in the world. it served as the center of political, legislative and religious life for the chimu people who ruled this region from the ninth century till the late 1400s when they were conquered by the incas. here you get a hint of the splendor before and after restoration of palace ceremonial halls, all of it in one of the dryest regions on the planet. >> this is much more desert than south america. no rain for 15 years, then one day, boom. >> booming, rushing, flooding. these images from february 1998 show the impact of the weather phenomenon known as el niño at its worst, drenching the region, destroying homes, bridges and
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endangering the lives of those who live nearby, as wells the thousands of archeological sites that dot the land here, slicing through centuries-old adobe walls and smearing away paintings more than 1,000 years old. peru's deputy cultural minister castillo was a young archaeologist and devastated when el niño hit his country. >> when i was in my early 20s, the el niño happened and took everybody by surprise. we were not prepared. in the past, they would do human sacrifices to prevent the rain from falling. we're not doing that anymore. >> brown: that's not even allowed at the culture ministry. >> no. we can invest money and unleash the archeology gists to do their work. >> brown: it can look as simple and daunting as this, a local worker with a syringe swirting water into a crack
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reinforcing an adobe wall. imagine how many injections are required for the area. but the work is going on after climatologists predicted a strong el niño for this winter and spring, the government for the first time put in a plan at the cost of $8 million, hiring around 1,000 workers. one wheelbarrow at a time, heavy equipment isn't allowed here, they're transporting sand to shore up walls, to prevent water from accumulating and breaking through. they're also building roofs for murals and vulnerable areas and laying expensive drainage systems. outside the site itself, river banks are being fort tied and paths cleared for water to flow. >> my mother told me a story about when we lived in northern peru when the water was up to our knees in our house. >> brown: peruvian born francisco chavez would grow up to study el nineio patterns as
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an oceanographer at the research institute in california. we met in lea lima. >> there is a difference between what happens in the western pacific and in peru. we're still at the point where it's still very difficult for us to predict the timing and magnitude of the events. >> brown: el niños occur observe average every five years, when the typically cool surface temperatures of the equatorial pacific ocean warm, altering weather patterns in peru and other parts of the world including in the u.s. they've happened for centuries. the chimu and chang chang experienced them. the spanish name came from peruvian fisherman who in the northern ports use traditional boats like this. the waters come around
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christmas, hins is t association with el niño, the baby jesus. a definitive link with climate change remains elusive, but francisco chavez say scientists are now seeing a new phenomenon. >> what we think we can say is that the changes that we're seeing recently are of larger ample nude bot -- amplitude in h directions. if that pattern continues, then over the next 15 to 20 years, we'll see a number of large el niños. >> brown: not far, against a dusty mountain backdrop, another dramatic site, the temple of the moon. nestled at the base of sierra blanco, the white mountain, it's the home of the people who preceded the chimu. wall by wall of painted murals
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of mythic gods, humans and animals including from the nearby ocean. ricardo morales is co-director of the site and one of peru's leading conservativ conservator. >> they're not just pictures and decorations, they're forms of communication that tell a story through an image. >> here, too, the faces of gods washed away is evidence of damage from previous el niños. and here, too, the preservation work goes on, as workers use a local species of cane to build roofs to divert the coming rains. and uncover new murals and treat them with protective chemicals. morales told us modern conservators can learn from the ancients who themselves faced el niño devastation, here it's new technology mixed with the old. >> el niño teaches us there are types of adobe, the brown type
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most resistant to rains. so we have a more rain-resistant adobe used to protect the sites and the people are using in their homes. >> ifillhomes. >> brown: you're learning from them. >> yes. all these structures are knowledge. we take advantage of ancient knowledge and improve techniques using modern construction. >> brown: on the clorl square of the nearby is i of trujillo, another construction was underway as christmas decorations were put up. christmas may be getting a break. the latest forecast downgrading the severity of the eminent el niño. everyone told us there's no way to know for sure. all they can do is prepare and perhaps pray to the gods of old. for northern peru, jeffrey brown for the prb the pbs "newshour".
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>> ifill: since the early days of the aids crisis, much has changed, but one ban has endured. gay and bisexual men have not been allowed to give blood, out of fear they could transmit h.i.v. today, the f.d.a. announced plans to end the lifetime ban, arguing that it is outdated. instead, the prohibition would be limited to men who have had sex with men during the previous 12 months. the american red cross said today it backs the change to what it called an unwarranted policy, and... glenn cohen of the harvard law school specializes in medical ethics and also supports the change. thank you for joining us. why, professor cohen, lift the ban now? >> the ban we had in place was
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outdated. it dates back to 1983, the early days of the hiv crisis, and a few things have changed since then. first of all, our ability to test and test quickly and accurately for hiv, that's dramatically improved. hiv has gone from a fatal disease to a much more chronic disease, at least in america. and we also have the experience of other countries, we are an international outlier on the lifetime ban. other countries have used shorter deferral periods and we have data from those countries suggesting no adverse affects for moving to a shorter period. >> ifill: why is it other countries move more quickly and what does that data show? >> so the data shows, again, it's a mix, canada is about five years, the u.k. is about 12-month ban, south africa about six months, and the country that we think is the most progressive on this and me and my co-authors and the journal of the american medical association think this is the right way to go about it is italy.
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italy said let's not do blanket policies, let's do individualized risk assessments and italy made the move in 2001, and data published in 2013 show no appreciable risk of infection rate in the italian blood supply. this is a long-time coming. >> ifill: yet, not wiping out or lifting the ban entirely, we're going to this one-year kind of prohibition moratorium. why? why only go to one year? why not wipe it out if it's so safe entirely? >> so, again, i think fda is a conservative institution. it wants to track what its pure countries are doing. my own position is it would be better to move to an individualized assessment where we don't say being gay or having sex with a man is an automatic disqualifier but look at the
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individual. they're going to look at the data, but it's important to realize most sexually active gay men will have had sex with someone in the past year. what this does is bring in men who have had sex with men once since 1977. the current prohibition that fda is changing says if you've ever had sex with a man even once, you're disqualified and that's about 8.5% of the american male population disqualified originally. >> ifill: that doesn't sound like that adds a lot to the number of potential blood donors. not only are you opening the potential pool to more people, but it's also a very narrow subset of those people. >> an estimate from the williams institute which looked at the demography of gay men in america and the rate of having sex and whether they're willing to donate calculates this move will move about 317,000 pints of blood a year. getting rid of the ban will get
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more blood. this is too conservative, but we are hopeful the fda will move a bit. it took 30 years for the fda to move at all. we hope they will view this as an experiment, view data and consider a more relaxed standard. >> ifill: what if the timing of this rollout? >> the fda planned on today's press release, we'll have comment. my expectation is in the next year, we'll see the policy changed effectively and all at once and at that point the red cross said they'll change their policies. >> ifill: should we worry our blood supply will be compromised due to the relaxed rule? >> my experience is no. the best data and experience is to look at our neighbors and seeing what's happening with them. none of that data gives us reason to worry.
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fda is an extremely conservative institution when it comes to safety. every pint of blood donated is already tested for hiv. all we're doing now is saying you had a classification that was overbroad, it excluded many people, and now you relax that. the good news is this should hopefully add to the blood supply as well as liberate things like bone marrow and the like which also tracked the blood rules. >> ifill: professor glenn cohen of harvard law school, thank you so much. >> thank you for having me. >> woodruff: since president obama announced the u.s. would normalize relations with cuba, much of the discussion has focused on human rights, freedom, democracy and commerce. but opening the doors to normal relations with cuba could also lead to some profound cultural changes, including in the world of sports and particularly baseball, a game that so many cubans love. hari sreenivasan sat down with a
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baseball watcher to discuss the possibilities in our new york studios earlier this week. people talk about traditional images of cuba, one major cultural touchstone has been sports, specifically the country's historical reservoir of baseball talent. baseball has hong been the most popular sport on the island and cuban players have found their way into american baseball for more than 100 years, some making a legendary name for themselves like louie, a three-time all-star pitcher. last year cuban on the rosters in major baseball teams in the united states and more than 200 players defecting over time to play baseball in the u.s. cuban players have stood out in recent seasons like the slugger for the los angeles dodgers who illegally crossed the border from mexico to texas in 2012 and an all-star closer for the cincinnati reds. major league baseball has long
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had an eye on tapping into more cuban talent now that the u.s. and cuba are moving toward a different relationship there are lots of questions about how it might impact the sport. the national sports correspondent for the associated press joins me now. so if the relations are normalized, i'm assuming one of the things that would change the decrease in the number of stories of how players defect and get themselves across the border, i mean, some of these stories are pretty harrowing. >> well, yeah, and almost anything would be better than the status quo, quite frankly. i mean, without making it too simple, the best thing you could be if you're a cuban defector would be over the age of 23 with five years of professional experience because then you wouldn't with subject to the international draft by major league baseball and so you're intentionally a free, free agent and you're able to negotiate your own deal. you need residence outside the u.s. there are tax problems, there are all sorts of things. yet we have one side try to minimize what they pay for the talent and the other side, agents and ball players try to
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maximize that so they'll probably meet in the middle. >> sreenivasan: some of the free free agents have made a very pretty penny. >> there's about three or four that just signed contracts pre-dimensioned. they're getting six-year, seven-year deals for around $70 million. they're all roughly between 24 and 27 and very valuable assuming that the other agents as in the past, usually with more of the caribbean ball players but age is always an issue. >> sreenivasan: tell me why these players are so sought after. we players from venezuela or the dominican republic. >> because major league baseball has set up cad misin both of those countries and have begin to open up the pipeline of talented ball players. cuba has a state's sponsored system and always has because of both the national team and their
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own league. so they've had development programs going on for a long time. the problem is that really after the breakup of the soviet union, a lot of funding disappeared, when the defections sort of ratcheted up quite a bit and that was usually guys leaving their teams while traveling somewhere. then the cuban officials locked down on the players they brought with them, and that began the more desperate attempts. there's a saying no one walks off the island. so people got involved with agents, got involved with drug smugglers, got involved with all kinds of unsavory people, and the major league baseball people know this. they don't always want to know the details. >> sreenivasan: would this be different than how we treat players coming from japan or south korea? would we set up academies like we have in other countries as well? >> that will be under discussion. i don't know cuban officials would want to scrap their system or have two systems side by side. those things will be negotiated.
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we'll see probably a mainly league baseball team, maybe outside of ten years, but i think you will begin to see a normalizing relation, where ball players will be able to play winter ball in cuba. it used to be, quite frankly, sort of a wintering season for a lot of the great negro players because cuba allowed black players around 1900. >> sreenivasan: there are market forces at work. cuba obviously has no incentive to try to have all of it best players jump over to the united states right away and then if you bring all the players over at the same time you can't sign the contracts like the one you were talking about for millions of millions of dollars because you have an increase in supply, right? >> right. that's going to be the ultimate supply and demand, how many ball players can cuba provide. there is a lot of people who think the talent cupboard is empty becauseo a lot of their great ball players have managed to get out in the last couple of years. the national team is not as feared as it was international play, but it's not just a talent question that cubans still allow
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aluminum bats. but they had an older squad late on in international play in the mid '90s and the early 2000s. so there's not a good sense of how much young talent is in the pipeline. but like venezuela and the dominican republic, i think if there's a more orderly process and a better resource process, we'll see more talent come out of the island. people in the u.s. don't always know, o as you mentioned in the introduction, the game goes back 200 years there. it was a rallying point when they fought war of independence against spain because cubans didn't want to go to the bull fights, they wanted to play baseball 6789 so it became an independent society a long, long time ago. >> sreenivasan: the united states knows this isn't going to happen, major league baseball knows this won't happen overnight. what the major league baseball doing to prepare for what might happen five or ten years down the line? >> they're trying to find a way
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to minimum muse the cost, i guarantee you. there's already been talk the next bargain agreement with the players, they will try to make everyone outside the u.s. subject to the same international draft, taking away the incentive for the smug lick part. but if cuban players want to leave, they will probably have to agree to return some portion of their salary, what they have been doing in current places like japan. so all of these things are yet to be worked out. i think, again, major league baseball will try to find a kay to bring cuban ball players and talent over here in larger numbers but at a much more reasonable cost. >> sreenivasan: jim litke of the associated press. thanks so much. >> thanks for having me. >> ifill: finally tonight, margaret warner speaks with the author of a new book about the special bond between warriors walking on four legs, and those born with just two. >> he's a good dog, been my best
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friend over here. >> warner: for u.s. forces in iraq and afghanistan, man's best friend has more than lived up to the billing. some 2,500 dogs have accompanied soldiers and marines there on patrol and in close combat, like the raid to kill osama bin laden. >> warner: it's the latest job for canines over centuries of battle, from ancient rome through world war i. the u.s. military first officially used dogs in world war ii, as scouts and enemy tracker, and again in vietnam. and when u.s. troops in iraq and afghanistan faced a barrage of improvised explosive devices, the dog and handler teams proved the best detection tool of all. rebecca frankel, a senior editor at "foreign policy" magazine whose "war dog of the week" is a signature online feature, writes about all this in a new book:
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"war dogs: tales of canine heroism, history and love." we met at the working dog kennels of the quantico marine base outside washington. >> that is a good dog, that is a good dog. >> warner: and spoke at the national museum of the marine corps neay. >> warner: rebecca frankel, thank you for being with us. >> thank you for having me. >> warner: you write early on that you thought you'd be writing about dogs in military service, and instead you found yourself writing as much about people. >> yeah, i joke sometimes that you can't really interview a dog. they certainly have their own stories, but once i started to talk to their handlers and to talk to the families of handlers, it really became more about what the dog was doing or bringing forth from these people and how it changed their lives. >> warner: and it is worth noting that these dogs and their handlers, as a team, have a very dangerous role to play. >> they do. their job is very dangerous. and i think sometimes that gets lost a little bit. a handler, as much a dog, is out in front of a patrol. you know, there are bombs on the road then it's their job to find them. and it's their job not just to find people safe, but to make
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them feel as though they're trusted. that they can walk down this road. that they're safe to keep their eyes and ears on other things, and so it's quite a responsibility for them to bear. but they're also trained to protect them, to physically use the dog and all of the assets that they have, from their teeth to their powerful jaws to just the weight and force of their body, to protect them. >> warner: so what makes a great war dog and what makes a great handler. what sets them apart? >> so, i think a good dog is good at smelling, and good at taking commands. and the handler is good at recognizing the talent of their dog. but, it's a relationship so they have to know each other very well. the connection between the dog and the handler. you can have a really, really talented dog, but if the handler and the dog aren't synced up or if they're not a solid team, then the work that they do is not going to be as solid. >> warner: now, time and again
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in these stories, and in these chapters, you would turn to the theme of trust. what are they trusting one another for. >> well, i think that a dog that is maybe more experienced is going to know whether or not they're handler is confident in what they're doing. >> warner: that's a tough test: >> it is because they can tell. the handlers will say often times that the emotions run up and down the leash. if a handler is nervous or uncertain about what they're doing, the dog is going to be put off by that. i've seen a very seasoned dog not take commands from their handler because they were stubborn and they felt like, "i know what i'm doing," so they'll just sit and plant and not really follow through. >> warner: they also feel very protective toward each other. you have one story about a young marine named colton rusk and his big black lab. >> yes, so colton rusk was a handler from texas. he deployed on his 20th birthday, so he was a very young man when he left and he went with an improvised explosion detection dog eli, a black lab. and labs are known to be affectionate. so, they were very close.
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they were on a patrol and colton was shot by a taliban sniper, and he sort of fell where he was standing. and the dog's reaction was to climb on top of him, on his fallen body, and protect him. and in the frenzy of sort of the moment and the chaos, the dog wasn't sure, you know, who could be trusted. so, he wouldn't let anyone come near him. and they were able to get the dog away, and they tried to save him, but he didn't make it. >> warner: but then at the end of the book, eli joins the family and he protects them again, but in a different way. >> the marine corps, and other branches of service, don't do this very often, where they take a young dog whose in the middle of their career and let them adopt out to the family, but they did in this case. and, the effect i think they had on their household, i think was very profound. just knowing that we'll have a little piece of colton, in eli i just wish he could talk, and tell us some stories.
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cathy rusk, colton's mother, said, for example, that when they brought eli home, he went straight to colton's room. and so for them, to sort of see that, i think, it was a sign that they had part of their son back, again. they have a younger son, colton's younger brother, and eli would get in bed with him every night and stay in bed with until he fell asleep. and cathy says that when she has tough days, that eli will come and find her, and he just kind of sits with her, and keeps her company until she can get herself out of bed. >> warner: and the dogs are as vulnerable to the emotional or psychological strain of war through their deployments as some humans. >> absolutely. they call it canine ptsd or cpstd. i think it would be a little bit foolish to think that a dog, who are sentient beings, they have emotions, or at least i believe they do, could experience the same tension and chaos and loud sounds and having i.e.d.'s
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explode near them and not be affected by it. >> warner: and death >> yes, and death. >> warner: just outside the national marine corps museum stands a monument, to 25 dogs who died helping liberate guam in world war ii, and to all american military dogs slain the decades since. when dogs die on the battlefield are they always memorialized? >> they are, the handler will give a talk; they'll say what the dog meant to them and what the dog did in his or her career and then everyone in the unit or battalion commemorates them. it's just like any other fallen service member. >> warner: and that was true of iraq and afghanistan? >> yes, iraq and afghanistan >> warner: how does the military look on these dogs? as servicemen to be taken care of when they're damaged or as a piece of equipment to be used and discarded? >> they are treated like a service member. if they deploy with handler, they come back with a handler,
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as one marine said to me - we bring everybody home, and that includes that dogs. >> warner: so, as the us gets out of iraq, winding down in afghanistan, what is happening to all these dogs. >> and a lot of these dogs getting adopted out, or being transferred over to homeland security or police canine units, which is wonderful. these are trained working dogs and they deserve a place to work. >> warner: in your concluding chapter you said, "to know war dogs is not to know war, but they can help us understand it better". what do you mean? >> i meant that i think these are stories that are important for us to hear. and i think that sometimes we are very distant from the military and certainly the service members who have been going over to combat, they represent such a small proportion of our overall population, and i think to see dogs also, the leash is still there. so if you know the story of the war dog, and i think inevitably you know the story of the person holding the leash, which is important. >> warner: rebecca frankel,
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thank you. >> thank you. >> ifill: online, you can find more from rebecca frankel on the enduring bond between a marine and his combat dog. that's on our homepage at >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day. pre-christmas tornadoes struck the deep south, killing at least two people in mississippi. the u.s. economy grew at an annual rate of 5% over the summer, the most in more than a decade. and sony pictures reversed itself and announced a limited release of "the interview", a comedy about a plot to kill north korea's leader. >> ifill: on the newshour online right now, a maryland artist turns plain old plywood into stunning pieces of abstract furniture. you can watch a video of his creative process, from our partners at maryland public television, on our homepage.
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and, since politics and spirits often mix this time of year, we visited a couple of famous watering holes in washington to ask revelers what gifts they think members of congress should be getting this year. that video and more are on our web site, >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday, we'll look at an elite college like no other. smart students, prestigious faculty, but with a start-up mentality that is rejecting every other trapping of school. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you on-line, and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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