tv PBS News Hour PBS November 7, 2013 7:00pm-8:00pm EST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: the food and drug administration said today companies may soon have to eliminate artery-clogging artificial trans fats from their products. good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. also ahead this thursday, wall street's all a-twitter. the social media giant goes public, turning 140-character messages into a company now valued in the tens of billions. >> woodruff: and in one colorado county, health insurance costs are much higher than in the rest of the state, complicating the push to get the uninsured signed
up for new plans. >> every single one of whom have gotten to the point of looking at the rates has taken one look and walked out the door. >> woodruff: those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
>> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> 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: the most powerful storm on earth this year has hit the central philippines with sustained winds of nearly 200 miles an hour. thousands of residents were forced to evacuate, and officials warned of catastrophic damage. hours before landfall, the typhoon was already dumping heavy rain. the target area included a province devastated by an earthquake last month. trans fats could soon disappear from the american diet. the food and drug administration
wants to ban the artery clogging substance found in processed foods from margarine to cookies to frozen pizza. the f.d.a. says that could prevent nearly 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year. we'll have more on this right after the news summary. the senate voted today to ban workplace discrimination against homosexual, bisexual and transgender employees. the outcome underscored the nation's evolving attitude toward gay rights. newshour congressional correspondent kwame holman has our report. >> the bill as amended is passed. >> reporter: the vote on the employment non-discrimination act, enda, marks the first major movement in nearly two decades on legislation aimed at barring employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. a similar measure failed by one vote in the senate back in 1996. >> let the bells of freedom ring! >> reporter: today, supporters celebrated a markedly different outcome, 64 to 32.
democrat jeff merkley of oregon: >> the senate has clearly spoken to end discrimination in the workplace. we have fought to capture that vision of equality and liberty and opportunity and fairness embedded in our founding documents and in our founding vision. we've taken a huge stride today in that direction. >> reporter: ten republicans and two independents joined all 52 democrats who voted in passing the measure. only republicans voted no. republican opponents mostly stayed silent over three days of debate, but today indiana's dan coats warned the bill could encroach on the religious beliefs of some employers. >> so there's two types of discrimination here that we're dealing with, and one of those goes to the very fundamental right granted to every american through our constitution, a cherished value of freedom of expression and religion.
and i believe this bill violates that freedom. >> reporter: the bill does exempt religious institutions, but republican pat toomey of pennsylvania lost a bid to expand the number of groups that would qualify. the question now is whether enda will make it to the house floor. speaker john boehner's office issued a statement this week saying again he believes the bill is unnecessary and would subject businesses to frivolous lawsuits. >> ifill: reports of sexual assaults in the military surged nearly 50% last fiscal year. the pentagon said today the armed forces had more than 3,500 complaints, up from about 2,400 the previous year. officials said they can't tell if the spike signifies an actual increase in sexual assaults or that more people are reporting them, or both. twitter went public today and turned out to be a hit. the stock closed its first day of trading at just under $45 a
share, more than 70% above the initial price set by the social media giant. we'll have more on that later in the program. the twitter debut couldn't stop a sell-off on wall street. it started after third quarter growth came in nearly a full point better than expected. the report raised fears that the federal reserve might curb stimulus efforts soon. the dow jones industrial average lost nearly 153 points to close below 15,594. the nasdaq fell 74 points to close at 3,857. the heads of british intelligence warned today that surveillance leaks are doing serious damage to efforts to stop terrorism. they made an unprecedented joint public appearance before a committee of parliament. lucy manning of independent television news reports. >> reporter: for the first time coming out of the cold, the heads of g.c.h.q., m.i.6 and m.i.5-- the men in charge of our spies-- and there was little
doubt who they think is helping the enemy: edward snowden, the american intelligence analyst who leaked secrets to the "guardian" and others has hurt they claimed the fight against terrorism. >> the leaks from edward snowden >> they put our operations at risk, our adversaries are rubbing their hands with glee. al qaeda is laughing at us. >> reporter: the leaks from edward snowden now in moscow have led directly they said to terrorists around the world changing the way they communicate. >> we have actually seen chats around specific terrorist groups-- including close to home-- discussing how to avoid what they now perceive to be vulnerable communications methods. and so the cumulative effect of the media coverage, global media coverage, will make the job that we have far, far harder for years to come.
>> reporter: across the river from parliament, the agents at m.i.6 and the other spy agencies insist despite the snowden allegations of mass surveillance they weren't listening to everyone's calls or monitoring their emails, so has the damage from these revelations damaged their role keeping the country safe? >> it doesn't surprise us that the intelligence chiefs would much prefer that there was no disclosure of their work. that they would always say they any daylight on their work will damage their ability to operate. >> reporter: and the terror threat is expanding-- more britons killed abroad this year than the previous seven years combined and an increased risk from the hundreds fighting in syria and returning to the u.k. >> ifill: another revelation on u.s. surveillance surfaced today-- this time, involving the c.i.a. and a.t.&t. the "new york times" reported the spy agency is paying more than $10 million a year for access to company records, mostly on international calls. the report said a.t.&t. is cooperating voluntarily.
the data is used in overseas counterterror investigations. the pakistani taliban has chosen a hardline commander as its new leader, mullah fazlullah. he's known for planning the shooting of teenage activist malala yousafzai last year. the new leader replaces hakimullah mehsud, who was killed in a u.s. drone strike last week. with today's announcement, the taliban ruled out peace talks with the pakistani government. secretary of state john kerry is warning israel that if peace talks fail, there could be a new palestinian uprising. kerry spoke in amman, jordan, on his current round of shuttle diplomacy aimed at getting talks back on track. he said if there's no comprehensive agreement, israel could face growing isolation, and palestinians could resort to bloodshed. >> as long as there is this conflict-- and if the conflict frustrates yet again so that people cannot find the solution-- the possibilities of
violence, of other kinds of confrontation, other alternatives become more real. >> ifill: kerry is making a previously unscheduled return visit to jerusalem tomorrow for another meeting with israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu. the white house confirms the u.s. and other world powers might ease some sanctions on iran if the iranians dial back their nuclear program. that word came today as a new round of talks opened in geneva. iran's chief negotiator suggested there could be a deal as early as tomorrow. we'll have more on the nuclear talks later in the program. >> ifill: also ahead on the newshour: removing trans fats from our diets; twitter's big day on wall street; the challenge of getting affordable healthcare in one colorado community; new research suggests more asteroids are likely to strike earth; and richard rodriguez is back with a spiritual autobiography.
>> woodruff: let's look closer now at the government's decision to ban artificial trans fats from the american diet. the food and drug administration says those partially hydrogenated fats are not considered safe in food. their use has declined substantially in recent years as manufacturers have increasingly removed them, but they are still consumed in significant amounts. the director of the u.s. centers for disease control, dr. thomas frieden, has been a leading public health voice on this since he was health commissioner in new york city. dr. frieden, thank you for being with us. first of all, remind us what foods contain these trans fats. >> well, first off, artificial trans fats are just that, they're artificial. they don't exist in nature and they're created by bubbling hydrogen through vegetable oil. they make oil solid at room temperature. unfortunately it also makes that oil solid in your coronary
arteries and increases your risk for a heart attack. the food industry has done a great job. they've gotten about half -- a little more than half of the trans fats out of the system but there's still a lot in the system. we're able to measure that in the studies we do in people throughout the u.s. and it continues in a variety of products, either in low concentrations or some in higher concentrations in things like frosting and some prepared foods. the. >> woodruff: so, again, if the manufacturers are already doing a lot to remove or take these out of foods, why is it knows go the extra step and require it? >> what we've seen is that there's been progress but probably a stall of that progress. some groups-- places like wal-mart-- have committed to completely eliminating artificial trans fat by 2015. that's terrific. but others are continuing with trans fat in the food supply. the results of that are heart attacks and death from heart disease that don't to happen.
we estimate that as many as 7,000 deaths per year or more, and 20,000 heart attacks per year will be prevented by this action. >> woodruff: and, again, we're talking about these partially hydrogenated fats, oils. we mentioned frozen pizzas. i was just looking it up. you mentioned frosting. microwave popcorn. what else would people be on the lookout for? >> well, it's interesting. if you want to know, you can look at the label in that tiny print and if it says "hydrogenated vegetable oil" that's artificial transfat. but the bottom line is this is not necessary. and if you look at any product category-- like frozen pizzas or microwave popcorn-- there are products out there that don't have it and what that suggests is that it's possible for them to be eliminated, as wal-mart and other companies are doing. in fact, what the f.d.a. is doing is not banning it. what it's doing is making a statement of scientific fact that this product is not
generally recognized as safe and it's inviting comment from industry and others and saying how long will it take to get it out of the food supply? >> woodruff: is so there will still be some food that contains trans fats naturally? is that right? >> well, there are also naturally-occurring trans fats but they appear to behave quite differently in the body and they may not be nearly as toxic and harmful as the artificial transfats are. you know, most of us don't know we're getting these kind of chemicals that are artificially created in our foods but they are increasing the risk of heart attack. >> woodruff: dr. frieden, does this mean some of these foods are going to go away? i mentioned microwave popcorn. some people, like i do, like it a lot. does that mean it's gone? >> no. we think -- when new york city took this action people said the sky would fall, they would be more expensive, it would taste different. bottom line is you can make the
same tasting food for no more money but it may take some reformulation. so it may take some time for the industry to adapt. in fact, you won't know the difference when the trans fat is gone. only your heart will know the difference. >> woodruff: there's a new pew research poll that we just saw this afternoon. it's a related question. it's not exactly what the government is proposing, but it asks people what do they think about prohibiting restaurants from using trans fats in foods. a majority of americans-- 52%-- said they don't like the idea. they oppose it. how do you answer critics who say the government really doesn't need to be meddling in what people eat? >> you know, i think it these do really with often how you ask questions. if you ask people "do you want to have a substance in your food that may kill you that's artificial and you didn't know it was there" i think you'd get a very different response.
the bottom line is we want people to go about their lives and not have to worry about being harmed by somethat that they didn't ask for. they didn't order at the counter and could kill them. >> woodruff: so finally, dr. frieden, you're -- it's now been put out to the public and to manufacturers for comment. what happens next in this process? >> the f.d.a. has given 60 days for comments. once they receive those comments they'll look at them and issue a final determination and that will include a time frame. the what the group in new york city found was that it was necessary to give industry time. some products could be very rapidly reformulated. others took a year or two. so the f.d.a. will be looking for what industry says about what are the challenges. there are new products coming on the market that give the same kind of taste, the same kind of nutritional approach without the harm and toxicity of artificial trans fat. >> woodruff: dr. thomas frieden, the director of the centers for disease control.
thank you. >> thank you. >> ifill: twitter's little blue bird soared on its first day of flight into the public markets, but there are questions about what underlies that high stock value. hari sreenivasan has the story. ( bell rings ) >> sreenivasan: the new york stock exchange began trading twitter stock just before 11:00 a.m. at more than $45 a share, or 73% above its asking price. it was a long way away from march 21, 2006, when then-c.e.o. jack dorsey posted the first tweet. the san francisco startup has since grown. the microblogging site, where messages are limited to 140 characters, now has more than 230 million users around the world. many use it as a news feed or to watch moments capturing international attention, including when president obama
tweeted out "four more years" after being reelected. it was the most retweeted message of 2012. the british monarchy used it to announced the birth of prince george this summer. >> i use twitter just to catch up with events with the celebrities and hear what everybody's gossiping about and just to entertain myself, man, basically. nothing major. >> i use twitter to promote my music. >> sreenivasan: yet even on twitter, or perhaps especially on twitter, questions swirled about today's valuation. while revenues continue to climb, the company has never turned a profit, and it lost $65 million in the last quarter alone. ahead of the i.p.o. this morning, on cnbc, twitter c.e.o. dick costolo tried to reassure investors about the company's prospects. >> we have an absolute perspective on the long-term company we want to be, in service to being the public, conversational, real-time distributed platform. >> sreenivasan: one particular challenge ahead: while more than three-quarters of all of twitter's users are overseas, only 26% of its revenues currently come from abroad. some perspective on twitter's appeal and challenges ahead from two who know the tech and
finance worlds well: bill hambrecht is a financier and investment banker with his own firm-- he has helped launch a number of i.p.o.s including google, apple and genentech, among others; and alistair barr, senior technology reporter for "u.s.a. today." so alistair, let me start with you. what fueled today's demand? >> there are really two things: one is fundamentals of a company off into the future and the other-- which is probably more important today-- was the supply and demand of the stock. there wasn't a lot of stock available and there was a lot of demand from big institutional investors. >> sreenivasan: mr. hambrecht, who made money today. of the 230 million users i talked about i imagine very few got in a share at $26. >> i think you are right. the system of an i.p.o. that basically calls it a public offering, it really isn't. i mean, it was an offering to really select institutions and
some clients of the underwriters. but the public at large just really didn't have any access to it at all. >> sreenivasan: also stair barr, where does twitter say it's going to make its money? >> well, right now it makes most of its money in the u.s., but most of its users, interestingly, are abroad. over 70% of them, actually. and so when wall street is in a good mood, they look at something like that and they say well, there's a great opportunity for future revenue growth. so what twitter needs to do is take those users overseas and start showing them ads in a much more efficient way and making a lot more revenue out of it. right now most of the revenue is generated from a smaller number of users in the u.s. >> sreenivasan: so alistair, staying with you, you said there are quite a few challenges, it's not that easy to convince the existing user base on how to use the service. how do they do that overseas? >> if i was trying to explain twiter to my mother it would
probably be extremely difficult for her. and you see this in the comparison between facebook and twitter. twitter has 230 million users, facebook has over a billion. and when music news has come to the twitter site it's not immediately clear and easy how to use it or how relevant it's going to be. so one of the main things twitter has to do is fix that and make it much easier for new users to come to the site and say, "hey, that's relevant to me." >> sreenivasan: bill hambrecht, if they're facing usability or the overseas market challenges, are investors going to take concern or pause? take a time out here? >> that's going to be hard to guess. you know, i think it's very clear that are facebook -- facebook? twitter has great respect, i think, in the technology world. they've done a very good job of distinguishing themselves in the mobile market.
sure, they have a lot of internet business but that's in a long run going to be a growth business for them and i think it's a very well-respected company and that's why you see so much demand coming into the marketplace. sooner or later markets reflect a companies' standing within their industry. and i think facebook is going to do just fine. sorry, i keep saying facebook. twitter. twiter will do just fine. >> sreenivasan: since you are mentioning facebook, it seems they went out of their way to avoid the pitfalls fake book had on its i.p.o. what did they learn? >> well, every company and particularly twitter wanted to price their issue fairly so that the buyers felt that they were dealt with fairly and that there would be a good aftermarket for the shares. i would be very surprised if they expected as big a runup as they got because, you know, it's clear that there is big demand. i mean 117 million shares traded
in the mid-'40s today so there's big demand for that stock. but i'm sure they wanted everyone to feel good about buying it. i think the problem, of course, is that the user base that creates the value for a company like twitter doesn't have access to it. so if they come in to buy now, they have to pay, you know, the mid-40s for the stock. >> sreenivasan: alistair barr, i want to ask, how does it differ fundamentally from the other social media platforms that exist today? or perhaps even the public ones? >> the main two comparisons are facebook and linked in and they're really on other ends of the spectrum. facebook is friends keeping in touch with friends and relatives and linked in is a professional net work where you keep in touch with people you work with. and twitter kind of fits into the middle and it has much more of a realtime news aspect to it. so it's basically about following your interests and basically keeping up with those
interests in realtime. and that both has benefits and drawbacks as well. it means that from an advertising point of view big brands like coca-cola and things like that, they can get involved in realtime conversations with people and that's one of those things that separates it from a facebook. >> sreenivasan: alistair, it also seems young teenagers, for them twitter has jumped the shark. it's old news. they've moved on to other platforms is that the sign that perhaps the younger audience isn't going to grow into this? >> well, twitter is actually working on some messaging, some development in its messaging area. you can message people on the twitter platform. but that's really the area where young people have gone now without snap chat and things like that which are obviously getting quite high valuations as well. there's messaging going listen to so twitter will have to -- one of the challenges almost by definition when something like this goes public and gets
institutional investors it has to work very, very hard to stay on its toes and keep up with these hot new trends. >> sreenivasan: bill hambrecht, is this kind of a goldilocks i.p.o. moment in that it came at the right time? there seems to be significant demand in the market for people looking for those early stocks. >> i think the i.p.o. market, yes, has recovered and twitter came at a very good time. i also think they did it right. you know, from the point of view of coming early. you know, they -- their growth is accelerating in a lot of areas true they're not possible yet on a gap basis but they've got an established business model now that i think has the ability to perform very well for the new investors over the next few years. so i think actually they've planned it well. i wish they used an auction because i think that's a much better way to price a deal, but i do think that the company is
there good shape to perform over the future. >> sreenivasan: bill hambrecht, alistair barr, thank you for the time. we apologize to our audience for the technical difficulties. thank you for joining us. >> ifill: the u.s. and five other nations are back meeting with iran over its nuclear program, and there were signs today that a preliminary deal could be within reach. the second round of talks in geneva followed promising sessions just three weeks ago. american officials have now floated possible terms: if iran suspends nuclear activity for six months and actually reverses part of its program, then crippling economic sanctions could be eased. in washington, white house press secretary jay carney confirmed that's what's on the table between iran and the five permanent members of the u.n. security council plus germany, the so-called "p-five plus one."
>> we're taking advantage of a new level of seriousness that we've seen to engage in negotiations. but we are doing it in a way that makes clear that actions are what matter here, that steps that the p-5 plus one would insist upon in return for the moderate relief that i described would have to be verifiable and it would be reversible. and if a comprehensive agreement were not reached, that relief would be terminated and there would be the opportunity to ratchet up sanctions further. >> ifill: carney called the negotiations "serious and substantive." and iran's chief negotiator said the world powers have accepted its framework plan for capping some nuclear activities. later, the iranian foreign minister, javad zarif, offered his own assessment. >> ( translated ): we hope that during these two days we either come to a definite result or make noteworthy progress. these negotiations are very grand and very tough also.
it may need very lengthy discussions. our feeling is that the possibility exists in these two days, but there might be a chance that there will be a need for more negotiation. >> ifill: but prime minister benjamin netanyahu of israel, a nation thought to have the middle east's only nuclear arsenal, objected to the budding deal. >> this proposal would allow iran to retain the capabilities to make nuclear weapons. israel totally opposes these proposals. i believe that adopting them would be a mistake of historic proportions. they must be rejected outright. >> ifill: both israel and the u.s. have warned they will not allow iran to obtain nuclear weapons. iran denies harboring any such ambition. i'm joined by michael borden who is covering the geneva talks for the names and our own chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner. michael, tell us, when did this
new accommodation come about and how? >> well, it began with the arrival of the new iranian president rouhani who reached out to the west and made clear he was seeking an accommodation on nuclear issues. of course, it remains to be seen how far reaching an agreement the iranians are willing to accept and also what the west is willing to give in return. but they've become quite serious. they've been working hard behind closed doors and there's an expectation there could be an interim agreement as early as tomorrow, friday. >> ifill: so the interim agreement means exactly what? we heard about this six months. we heard about the lifting of sanction bus how hard and fast is it so far? >> well, the obama administration prefers to call it the first step. they don't like that word "interim agreement" because it implies it might be an end in itself and also because israel has warned against a partial agreement so they call it the first step. and we haven't seen any of the
details of this agreement. in fact, none of this has been announced. but the basic idea is to put some constraints on the iranian program that would freeze in the place and perhaps even walk some of it back so that iran is not marching along with its nuclear effort while negotiators are seeking a more comprehensive accord. and in return the united states would lift some modest sanctions. they probably provide access to frozen assets but they would take some steps but they would keep the core financial and other sanctions because, first of all, it's politically difficult to lift those in the united states and second of all they don't want to play that card unless they get a real final comprehensive agreement. >> ifill: it's interesting to hear michael talk about the u.s.'s characterization of this as a first step. how active has the united states been behind the scenes or in front of the curtain to get to this point? >> oh, very active, gwen.
but this blueprint, adds i know michael notes, we've talked about it, this blueprint of a first step but at the same time agreeing on an end goal is actually blueprint that the iranians proposed because iranians said privately to us, look, president rouhani has all these hard-liners at home. if we can't say that the world powers agree that at the end of this road we are going to have our right to enrich recognized and all the sanctions lifted in return for what we do with our own nuclear program than he can't even sell the interim step. so this is very much following both public and private conversations that the two sides have had. certainly mostly beginning since rouhani won election promising to take a new approach. but, of course, there had been talks going on, back channel talks, for years and years. they just never led anywhere. if. >> ifill: back-channel talks involving the u.s. and iran but what about the rest of the p 5 plus 1?
this is technically an international agreement not just the two nations. >> and the europeans have been talking to the iranians a lot. they have much closer commercial ties. but the two big players with so much distrust are the u.s. and iran and that is why one senior iranian official said to me president rouhani literally cannot afford politically to even sell the interim step if he doesn't also have some agreement on the end state or end goal. how precise that is remains to be seen. >> ifill: what about the u.s. congress's role? if the sanctions are going to be partially lifted don't they have a say? >> they do, gwen, though there's a little back door. obviously international sanctions can't be changed by the president but there are some sanctions that were either imposed by congress legislatively but they left a waiver provision or the president under certain conditions can waive them temporarily. and also some were imposed by executive action. so that's what the administration has been looking at. the problem is that there's also a move afoot on the hill to not
only dosh, one, impose further sanctions before -- while the negotiations are going on which the iranians say would be a deal-breaker but also senator bob corker and others are now considering a bill -- in fact, he said yesterday that that it would take away the president's authority to exercise these waivers. so you have the president on the phone to key members of the senate last week and also secretary kerry and vice president biden in private meetings up there trying to say, look, at least give us 60 days. let's see what we can get here. >> ifill: michael, let's talk about some of the nuts and bolts here. what kind of controls can be placed on these nuclear stockpiles in order for this agreement to have any kind of peace? >> well, i think the categories that have been trotted out is -- i mean, what could be done is you could put constraints on the number of centrifuges iraq would utilize to enrich uranium. you could stipulate that they have to in some way render a
less useful than 20% enriched uranium that they already have in their stockpile. you could require them to suspend work on a heavy water plant that would eventually produce a plutonium. the basic idea is to freeze the program in place and, you know, what's interesting, gwen, is that there's already a rather furious debate about this agreement that hasn't yet been concluded or announced pitting the israeli prime minister and critics against the administration. and the basic debate boils down to this: is this the first step toward a comprehensive agreement or is it the first step also the last step? meaning is this basically an elaborate finesse that will allow iran to sort of freeze its program but maintain a potential option down the road to pursue nuclear weapons in return for some sanctions relief? i think that's what's at the heart of the congressional concerns and so there's already debate about an agreement that doesn't even exist.
>> ifill: the israelis have been pretty consistent, margaret, about this. that they don't even want a partial deal. why so firm? >> well, the israelis are afraid-- just as michael said-- that this will be a feint on the part of iran, that they'll get just enough relief from sanctions on the frozen funds to at least let their economy breathe slightly-- though i don't think that's much. and that -- and then they will continue not only with this full capacity to enrich-- which they can restart at any moment-- but will maybe even continue enriching at this lower level, 3.5%, not to get technical about it. because what the key of this interim agreement as i understand is that for both sides the steps have to be completely reversible. so the president account say to the israelis and to congress, look, if we get the idea eight months from now these negotiations are going nowhere, we can reverse them. >> ifill: israel isn't even buying that. they're saying the intention is bad so there's no room for their
agreeing. >> woodruff: exactly. and they -- the israelis do not believe the iranians could ever be trusted to have any enrichment program at all even under full i.a.e.a. safeguards and the americans have signaled they are ready to make that recognition. >> ifill: michael gordon of the "new york times," our own margaret warner here in washington, thank you both very much. >> woodruff: now to our continuing coverage of the health care law and its impact. some of the essential concerns for rural parts of the country: will premiums be low enough? and will there be enough competition among doctors, hospitals and insurers? the national picture is still being assessed, but residents in one colorado county are already flagging worries there. the newshour's mary jo brooks has the story. >> reporter: summit county, colorado, is a premiere travel destination, home to world-class skiing, mountain biking and trout fishing.
its also 28,000 residents are mostly middle class, with an average household income of $67,000 a year. 10% live below the poverty level. for two months now, counselors here have been meeting with residents to explain the health insurance options now offered under the affordable care act. the goal is to sign up as many of the estimated 6,000 uninsured residents as possible. so far, they haven't gotten a single one. >> every single one of them for who we've gotten to the point of actually looking at the rates has taken one look and walk out the door. it's just prohibitive to them. >> reporter: tamara drangstveit is the director of the family and intercultural resource center, which has been contracted to help people navigate the myriad of plans offered in the state-run exchange. even she has been shocked by the high prices. >> i really thought this was going to level the playing field, that finally families were going to get access to care and insurance and it was going to be affordable.
and it's not leveled the playing field. it really hasn't. >> reporter: colorado is one of the 25 states that has expanded medicaid under the a.c.a., and that will help some of the currently uninsured get health coverage. but many don't qualify, and they are facing premiums that in summit county are sometimes double what people are paying elsewhere in the state. for example, a 40-year-old non- smoking male in denver could pay as little as $245 a month for a mid-level plan. that same person in summit county would have to pay $446 it's a disparity that health officials say has always existed but has become more evident because the a.c.a. makes rates more transparent. colorado chose to establish 11 geographic zones for insurance companies to set rates. rates were then determined by the price of medical services in those zones and how often
services were utilized. both costs and utilization rates are extremely high in summit county, but retired physician dr. don parsons, who serves on the boards of the county's only hospital and community clinic, says that's because the state counts all medical visits, even by the thousands of visiting tourists who may use the services. he says that's not fair. >> it's a regional population and a resort population and they're two very different groups and somehow we have to acknowledge that the people who live here full time cannot afford the same kind of those prices that the more affluent resort population can afford. >> reporter: u.s. representative jared polis is concerned about that discrepancy. he's a strong supporter of the affordable care act but thinks it needs to be fixed to work better in some areas. >> the affordable care act works
for most of my district. families in loveland, ft. collins, boulder are saving money. it's affordable for young people. you know, $280 to $320 a month with subsidies for many of them gets it down to a lower price point. but in the mountain communities, summit and eagle county, at the price point of $400 or $500 a month, it just doesn't work. >> reporter: polis has asked colorado insurance commissioner marguerite salazar to address the problem. she, too, says she was dismayed when she saw the imbalance. >> and when i saw that, it didn't make sense to me at all. and so, i understand the frustration that people have when they look at those and say "wait a minute, it's supposed to be more affordable." i take that very seriously, and we're going to do everything we can to make it more affordable. >> reporter: salazar says it's too late to adjust rates for 2014, but she will begin holding town hall meetings and hopes to incorporate changes for the 2015 plans. she warns, however, that fixing it in one area will have consequences for others.
>> you can't just change one without making dramatic changes in another or it affecting the other side. maybe we should just have one geographic rating; maybe everybody kind of pays a little bit to get everyone on equal footing. but then there is the idea that the poorer areas are subsidizing the more expensive areas. and i think we need to get to the costs to really start trying to make this issue seem more equitable. >> reporter: polis has requested a waiver from the federal government, asking that summit county residents have one more year before they are required to sign up for insurance. some republicans say that's hypocritical and one more sign that the a.c.a. isn't working. >> the problem with washington and the way we're stuck here. there's some on my side of the aisle that don't want to add any flexibility or change a thing.
and there's some on the other side of the aisle that want to see obamacare fail and don't want to make it work. so we have to find the pragmatic, common ground. if we need to update or change the law to make it work. >> unless summit county granted that waiver, residents here-- like all across the country-- will have to have health insurance in place by the end of march. in an interview with nbc news today president obama said he's sorry some people have been dropped from their insurance plans when he promised they could keep plans they like. >> woodruff: it's not just in sci-fi movies; asteroids really are hitting the earth more frequently. the one that caught everyone's attention struck last february when a chunk of a meteor hit near the russian city of chelyabinsk. it was only 60 feet wide but injured more than 1,200 people.
new research about that meteor and other asteroids was published yesterday. experts say fragments are hitting ten times more often than known before. newshour science correspondent miles o'brien fills us in. miles, hello there. so what was it about this incident in russia that has caused scientists to believe that rocks may be hitting earth more often. >> it's interesting because this one caught everyone by surprise. it came from the direction of the sun and so nobody saw it coming. what was also interesting about it was there were a lot of dashboard cameras and cctv cameras that captured it so scientists became much more fascinated by this than they have in previous cases because they had so much documentary evidence. as they looked at it and its size they started asking the question how frequent are these events really? and when they looked at the sensor data used to guard against above-ground nuclear testing over the years they
identified what may be many more strikes like these perhaps over the ocean, perhaps over an unpopulated area over the course of the past century or so. and that leads me to believe these are much more common than we thought. >> woodruff: how much more common? >> on the order of 20 to 30 years as opposed to once every century. this thing was 60 feet long, weighed 10,000 tons and was moving about 60 times the speed of sound. it came down brighter than the sun so while it's small relatively it's a pretty scary thing and it caused a lot of damage on the ground, caused some injuries, fortunately no one died. >> woodruff: are scientists saying how -- now that they've done this research, how worried are they saying people should be? >> well, they're not losing sleep at night but it does call into question what we should all be doing about it. we have done a pretty good job in recent years. let's say one of the really big
rocks, the kilometer size rocks, ones that would do to us what a rock did to the dinosaurs 65 million years ago we've identified about 95% of those. as the rocks get smaller they can still cause a lot of damage. they can take out a city, for example, or in this case cause a lot of ground damage just by the shock wave. we don't have the infrastructure to spot these smaller asteroids so there's a lot of talk about the united nations getting involved, space agencies in the world getting involved and even one private foundation, the b foundation, wants to launch a satellite that would hover near have us is that would see smaller asteroids including those that we can't see because the sun's in our eyes. >> woodruff: how much of that that they're talking about doing is under way now. >> bell, there's talk about it right now. there's a grange realization of the threat and the which he will ya binsing event crystalized these thoughts but the sad fact is we haven't gathered together
the nations of the world to do a concerted effort and focus on this problem. just look at the moon. look at the pocks in the moon. that's what happens when you don't have an atmosphere or tectonic movements to cover over the asteroid impacts. basically we're in the same neighborhood. it's a rough neighborhood. we're going to get hit by a rock if we don't watch out and if we can identify them and we have enough advanced warning-- talking about decades-- we have the technology to go out there and nudge it out of our way and ensure we don't go the way of the dinosaurs. >> woodruff: but you're saying only if we have enough warning? >> we need the warning. we do. we can send a nuclear weapon out there and nudge it off. there's all kinds of ways of attaching perhaps a rocket motor to an asteroid headed in our direction. it only needs to be perturbed a little bit if you know decades in advance. the closer they are to us the big err problem it can be so that's why it's important we keep looking.
>> woodruff: miles o'brien, thank you. i don't know how many of us are going to sleep soundly tonight. >> i feel like chicken little. >> woodruff: thank you. >> ifill: finally tonight, writing about belief and doubt in the modern world. jeffrey brown has our book conversation. >> brown: it's a daunting task recognizing religion, sexuality and place in the week of 9/11. that's the goal of a new selection of essays titled "darling: a spiritual autobiography" by author and former long time newshour contributor richard rodriguez. thank you very much for being here. >> it's a pleasure to be back on this set. talk about place, to be back on this set after more than ten years. >> brown: the subtitle here "a spiritual autobiography." in what sense? this is not a straightforward
narrative of spiritual awakening. >> it's a record of the years after september 11 and the quandary and the exploration of my soul coming to term with the fact that those men, terrorists on that day that flew into if world trade center were traying. they were praying to allah, which is another name for the god that i also worship. that puzzle, that religion which is so ennobling for so many lives, that intimacy with god can be so dangerous. the notion -- the proclamation why god becomes possessive. my god, began this journey for me of looking at what religion could be. >> brown: in your life and their lives and all of our lives we're talking about praying to religions of the desz cert as you put it. >> that's what the terrorists
oddly led me to. i traced their lives and they took me back to the middle east and i realized my relidge john a desert religion and my got is a desert god despite the cathedrals of europe. >> thousands of roman catholics, the afterkas, everything. >> and in december i get christmas cars with baby jesus surrounded by the swiss pines, you know, as though it all took place in switzerland somehow. >> brown: so how do you make the connection? >> well, the story of abraham, the belief that abraham is father become becomes a desert story. the dry old man becomeser if file by god. it begins as an announcement that the desert will be fertile that out of these desert tribes will come civilizations so vast that they remember us as the
stars do in the night. well, all of that was new to me and it forced me to -- most of my friends are non-believers and really hostile toward religion but they would say, well, we're going to these desolate places, how can you -- what is there? there's nothing there? for the believer it seems to me that's the question. why would god who is believed to have penetrated particularly of time not that moment, not this moment but this, that moment. also particular they place. not that place, not this place but that place. why there? it seems to me why would god reveal himself in a place of desolation? >> brown: i raurl in essays in the past it comes out here that you are a believer, a
questioner, a doubter, an explorer of what belief means. >> i'm glad you said doubter because my religious tradition has always accepted doubt as part of the procedure of believing in god. that becomes kind of a protection of extremism. but religion is under assault from various places. there's a new atheism in the air coming into the country and it's -- it has a dogmatism to it that doesn't understand that religion itself has within it disbelief. that there isn't a religious life of, what shall we say, seasons of belief and doubt. >> one is not either a believer or non-believer? >> that's right. it's the composite that seems to be the prayer. >> so to the extent that many of your friends are not believers-- probably many of your readers would not be believers-- what do you want us to take from this?
>> i want you to at least acknowledge at a time that the world is affair with religion that you may tell me you're not a believer but you better consider what belief is and it seems we better know what is going on in the world. we're living in a world that's increasingly disconnected from place. it is has a way of losing a sense of place. we're not even buried anymore. we put our ashes at the -- the side of a lake or mountain or something. the wind blows it away. where we no longer have it in cemeteries, our dead, we no longer visit the dead in cemeteries. it seems to me at a time in which we are losing a sense of place. that what i would like my reader to understand is that place is central to religion and this is why darling is the center chapter of the book is that my relationship to women, particularly heterosexual women
--. >> brown: as a gay man. >> as a gay man. is crucial to my formation. i dedicate the book to the sisters of mercy, an irish orders of nuns who educated me. they were fiercely determined that i would become this american man that you listen to. they were the precursors to, in my judgment, the real beginning of my own emancipation out of the closet came with women in the 19th century, those nones but also the women in european streets and the capitals watching the for the vote, the suffragettes. that becomes the crucial people in this book, not the gay man trying to find his place. but women. where are women going play? what role are they going to play in this theological battle? >> brown: there's more i want to talk to you about. we'll do that in our online section of this but for now the new book is "darling, a
spiritual autobiography." richard rodriguez. thanks so much. >> thanks, jeff. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day. a typhoon hit the central philippines with winds of nearly 200 miles an hour. it's the most powerful storm on earth this year. u.s. officials said secretary of state kerry will go to geneva to join talks on iran's nuclear program amid signs that a deal could be in the offing. the food and drug administration called for phasing out all trans fats in processed foods. and twitter closed at nearly $45 a share on its first day of trading, more than 70% higher than the initial price. >> ifill: on the newshour online right now, when low-wage workers get money in their pocket, they spend it. so why not pay them more? that's today's argument in part four of our "living wage" series. that's on our "making sense" page. you can find all that and more on our web site, newshour.pbs.org.
>> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on friday, we'll look at the latest jobs numbers and what they say about the current employment picture. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> my customers can shop around; see who does good work and compare costs. it can also work that way with healthcare. with united healthcare, i get information on quality ratings of doctors, treatment options and estimates for how much i'll pay. that helps me and my guys make informed decisions. i don't like guesses with my business and definitely not with our health. that's health in numbers. united healthcare.
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