NOW on PBS Podcast

NOW on PBS

A News and Politics podcast
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In the debate over energy resources, natural gas is often considered a "lesser-of-evils". While it does release some greenhouse gases, natural gas burns cleaner than coal and oil, and is in plentiful supply -- parts of the U.S. sit above some of the largest natural gas reserves on Earth. But a new boom in natural gas drilling, a process called "fracking", raises concerns about health and environmental risks. NOW talks with filmmaker Josh Fox about "Gasland", his Sundance award-winning documentary on the surprising consequences of natural gas drilling. Fox's film -- inspired when the gas company came to his hometown -- alleges chronic illness, animal-killing toxic waste, disastrous explosions, and regulatory missteps.
How could a struggle over land lead to the brutal murder of an American nun? David Brancaccio interviews award-winning filmmaker Daniel Junge on his latest film "They Killed Sister Dorothy." The documentary focuses on Sister Dorothy Stang, a Catholic nun from Dayton, Ohio, who in 2005 was killed on a muddy road in the Brazilian Amazon she worked tirelessly to save. But it's also the story of peasant farmers hoping to preserve their way of life in the face of powerful industry interests. Who will dare stand up in the battle between the haves and the have nots, and will our world's ecosystem pay the biggest price? "Peasant people... don't have a chance to share in the riches that the planet can offer because some people are taking off so much of the pleasures of this world, and there's only so much to go around," Sister Dorothy said before her death.
On March 13, financial ministers and central bankers of the world's economic superpowers will meet in London to lay the groundwork for next month's crucial meeting of their country's leaders, known as the G20. Will their work revolutionize the global economy and lift us out of this economic hole, or will politics get in the way? David Brancaccio interviews Kenneth Rogoff, Harvard economics professor and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, about how high we should raise our hopes and what's at stake for America and the world.
How is Secretary of Education Arne Duncan going to spend $100 billion in stimulus money -- almost twice the education budget -- to fix our nation's schools? During his seven years running Chicago's public schools, Duncan went head to head with the teacher's union and skeptical parents by closing down low-performing schools, getting rid of all the teachers, principals, even the janitors, and reopening them with new staffs as "turnaround schools." It's a drastic step, but the results have been promising. NOW travels to Chicago to investigate the collateral damage of a top-to-bottom school makeover, and to get a glimpse of what the future of education might look like for the rest of the country. "We have to be willing to experience a little bit of pain and discomfort, but our children desperately need it and deserve it," Secretary Duncan tells NOW. "Just as we have to do it, unions have to change, principals have to change, teachers have to change, parents have to step up... business as usual is not going to get us there." Do we need to gut our public schools in order to save them?
With health care reform now the most pressing and talked-about domestic issue in America, the hallmark PBS programs NOW ON PBS, TAVIS SMILEY and NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT are collaborating to provide a single timely and much-needed in-depth look at health care reform in America and the latest government proposals to address the issue. The program will include late-breaking news and analysis on the health care debate and also feature cultural, political and economic insight from each program: NOW ON PBS will examine how reform may change the way we live, especially for boomers who have their own coverage, but are also responsible for aging parents and grown children. NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT will investigate the costs and controversies of employer-provided health care and new coverage requirements many companies are adopting as a means of controlling health care. TAVIS will examine the causes and effects of childhood obesity, particularly within communities of color, and explore ways to address this health care crisis. An examination of one of the most far-reaching and controversial initiatives in decades, from the most trusted journalists in America. A PBS Special Report: Health Care Reform.
From the raucous tea party rallies to the painful sacrifices families are making behind closed doors, voter angst and anger are sweeping the country like a storm. Directly in its path: the 2010 midterm elections. NOW examines the strong impact this groundswell has already had on electoral politics, and what we can expect in November. Our investigation uncovers what motivates people who've come together under the tea party banner, and how a larger dissatisfaction among voters spells trouble for incumbents in both parties, some of whom have decided to avert the storm by leaving Congress altogether.
President Obama is sending as many as 30,000 more troops to combat Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan this year, but are we missing the true target? NOW reports directly from Pakistan's dangerous and pivotal border with Afghanistan, where Pentagon war planners acknowledge many of the enemy fighters and their leaders are based. The U.S. has been relying on Pakistan to act against Taliban militants there, but the Pakistani army's commitment is in question.
The Pentagon estimates that as many as one in five American soldiers are coming home from war zones with traumatic brain injuries, many of which require round-the-clock attention. But lost in the reports of these returning soldiers are the stories of family members who often sacrifice everything to care for them. NOW reveals how little has been done to help these family caregivers, and reports on dedicated efforts to support them.
Once one of the most dangerous and violent cities in the West Bank, Jenin was the scene of frequent battles between the Israeli military and Palestinian fighters, and was the hometown of more than two dozen suicide bombers. Today, however, there's been a huge turnaround. Jenin is now the center of an international effort to build a safe and economically prosperous Palestinian state from the ground up. On Jenin's streets today, there's a brand new professional security force loyal to the Palestinian authority and funded in part by the United States. But can the modest success in Jenin be replicated throughout the West Bank, or will the effort collapse under the intense political pressure from all sides? NOW talks with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the international community's envoy to the region and an architect of the plan. We also speak with a former commander of the infamous Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade about his decision to stop using violent tactics, and to residents of Jenin about their daily struggles and their hopes for the future.
With the economy in a downward spiral, more and more people are taking advantage of credit card offers to make ends meet, but are the credit card companies really taking advantage of their customers? NOW meets with families struggling to pay off the credit card debt they've accumulated -- a debt made even larger thanks to questionable industry practices like doubling and tripling interest rates without warning, increasing fees and penalties, and shrinking credit limits. We take a hard look at the small print in credit card offers, and at Congressional legislation aiming to regulate the industry. Are you getting the credit you deserve?
The number of inmates in American prisons is outpacing the system's ability to hold them all. In one startling example, California prisons hold well over 50,000 more inmates than they're designed for, even though the state has built a dozen new prisons in the last 15 years. One of the biggest reasons is rampant recidivism. NOW goes inside an Illinois prison that may have the answer to California's problems. With its innovative plan to keep released inmates from coming back, the Sheridan Correctional Center is trying to redefine "tough on crime" by being the largest fully dedicated drug prison in the country. The approach involves aggressive counseling, job training, and following the convicts after they get out. Can their novel approach keep convicts out of jail for good?
NOW on PBS goes off the air with not just a look back at our most memorable moments, but a mission to leverage these eight years of investigation and insight into lasting inspiration. In the special, NOW examines economic hardships and innovative solutions, the human faces behind the health care fight and other political battles, environmental crises both here and around the world, and more 21st century issues that defined and changed us. NOW on PBS dedicates this last show, as it has every show, to the issues that matter. Because -- now, more than ever -- they still do.
Just this week, a top UN official predicted that by the middle of this century, the world should expect six million people a year to be displaced by increasingly severe storms and floods caused by climate change. But for many island nations in the South Pacific, climate change is already more than just a theory -- it is a pressing, menacing reality. These small, low-lying islands are frighteningly vulnerable to rising temperatures and sea levels that could cause flooding and contaminate their fresh water wells. Within 50 years, some of them could be under water. NOW travels to the nation of Kiribati to see up close how these changes affect residents' daily lives and how they are dealing with the reality that both their land and culture could disappear from the Earth. We also travel to New Zealand to visit an I-Kiribati community that has already left its home, and to the Pacific Island Forum in Niue to see how the rest of the region is coping with the here-and-now crisis of climate change.
With this week's swearing-in of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, President Obama's economic team is finally ready to tackle the massive challenge before them. One big question: how much control will they wield over America's banks, the first recipients of the federal bailout? David Brancaccio sits down with financial reporter Bethany McLean -- who broke the Enron story -- to look at options on the table for stabilizing the country's financial system. If banks are nationalized, it will have an enormous impact on depositors, shareholders and taxpayers. Everyone agrees that our banks need federal money to avoid even more calamity, but how much is too much, and who's watching how they spend it?
NOW on PBS has been covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for as long as we've been on the air. In that time, we've recognized that there's much to these conflicts than be covered by short segments and passionate punditry. In fact, our body of work -- which includes being embedded with U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, meeting soldiers' families in Texas, taking fire in Iraq's Anbar Province, and seeing how we treat wounded veterans back home -- shines a new light on human costs of war, and the price we pay going forward. In NOW on PBS' second-to-last show ever -- we take a look back at Iraq and Afghanistan to hopefully reveal insight about the dangerous and tricky road ahead, and how our leaders and soldiers should be traveling it.
The economic crisis is affecting people in all income and social brackets, but America's baby boomers and seniors don't have the option to wait it out. The housing meltdown, market crash, and rising costs of everything from food to medicine have taken the luster out of seniors' "golden years" or worse, put them into deep debt. Some are reluctantly exiting retirement to look for jobs, while others are falling prey to predatory lending companies. NOW travels to South Carolina, a state where many retirees and winter refugees are being forced to rewrite the last chapter in their lives, to see how they are coping and what options are left.
The national economic disaster hit the city of Braddock Pennsylvania like a wrecking ball. But Braddock Mayor John Fetterman -- dubbed "America's Coolest Mayor" by The New York Times -- is taking very unconventional approaches to reinventing the town and re-inspiring its residents. Home to the nation's first A&P supermarket and Andrew Carnegie's first steel mill, Braddock is being revitalized with new youth and art programs, renovations of abandoned real estate, and bold plans to attract artists and green industries. NOW sits down with Mayor Fetterman to learn how the 6'8" 370-pound political novice is trying to turn his town around, and if other devastated communities can and should follow his large footsteps.
Americans have a longstanding love affair with food -- the modern supermarket has, on average, 47,000 products. But do we really know what goes into making the products we so eagerly consume? David Brancaccio talks with filmmaker Robert Kenner, the director of Food, Inc., which takes a hard look at the secretive and surprising journey food takes on the way from processing plants to our dinner tables. The two discuss why contemporary food processing secrets are so closely guarded, their impact on our health, and another surprising fact: how consumers are actually empowered to make a difference.
The majority of American goods are transported by trucks, even though freight trains are greener and more fuel-efficient. Where should America be placing its bets for moving our economy and what would you personally sacrifice for it? Correspondent Miles O'Brien looks at the contemporary needs, challenges, and solutions for transporting vital cargo across America, and how those decisions affect the way you live, work, and travel.
What role did the credit rating agencies play in the current economic crisis? A former managing director at Standard & Poor's speaks out on U.S. television for the first time about how he was pressured to compromise standards in a push for profits. Frank Raiter reveals what was really going on behind closed doors at the credit rating agencies the public relies on to evaluate the safety of their investments. "During this period, profit was primary; analytics were secondary," Raiter tells NOW Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa. Who was watching the watchers? Surprising new revelations in the economic debacle.
In 1995 and 1996, 66 gray wolves were relocated from Canada to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho to help recover a wolf population that had been exterminated in the northern Rockies. The gray wolf relocation is considered one of the most successful wildlife recovery projects ever attempted under the Endangered Species Act; today there are more than 1,600 wolves in the region. But a debate has erupted between conservationists and ranchers over the question: how many wolves are too many? Last year, the Obama Administration entered the fray by removing federal protection for some of these wolves, paving the way for controversial state-regulated wolf hunts. The move has wolf advocates fuming, with more than a dozen conservation groups suing the Interior Department to restore federal protections. NOW reports on this war over wolves and implications for the area.
There are places in the world where the success of a soap opera is measured not just in TV ratings, but in human lives. NOW travels to Kenya, where ambitious producers and actors hope one such TV show, "The Team", can help foster peace amongst the country's 42 official tribes. During presidential elections two years ago, tribalism-influenced protests in Kenya left almost 1,500 dead and nearly 300,000 displaced. Tensions continue today over issues including extreme poverty and widespread corruption. In "The Team", soccer players from different tribes work together to overcome historic rivalries and form a common bond. The hope is that commonalities portrayed in fiction can inspire harmony in the real world. Early reaction to the show's inaugural season is promising. "I was very surprised to see how Kenyans want change, how they want to live in peace and the way the responded to us," Milly Mugadi, one of the show's stars, noted during a local screening. "There were people from different tribes talking about peace and how to reconcile with each other... they opened up their hearts." John Marks, whose organization Common Ground produces versions of "The Team" in 12 different countries, is cautiously hopeful. "You don't watch one of our television shows and drop your submachine gun," explains Marks, who says he was inspired by the influence of "All in the Family" on American culture. "But you can change the environment so it becomes more and more difficult to be in violent conflict." Can this soap opera for social change really make a difference in stopping violence?
Thousands of U.S. troops are getting discharged out of the army. Many suffer from post traumatic stress disorders and brain injuries, and aren't getting the care they need. The Army claims these discharged soldiers have pre-existing mental illnesses or are guilty of misconduct. But health advocates say these are wrongful discharges, a way for the army to get rid of "problem" soldiers quickly, without giving them the treatment to which they're entitled.NOW covered this issue last summer, and this week we revisit the army's controversial position and follow up with affected soldiers we met. As a result of the media attention from our report and others, the Department of Defense revised its criteria for diagnosing pre-existing conditions and, now, fewer soldiers are receiving the diagnosis, making more of them eligible for care.Also on the show, we update how the distant Pacific nation of Kiribati is dealing with the reality that both their land and culture could disappear from the Earth due to global warming. Kiribati President Anote Tong is now considering purchasing land abroad to save his people. He says his pleas for international support have largely fallen on deaf ears. Experts predict millions of people will become climate change refugees in the years to come.
Should violence against medical doctors who perform abortions be viewed and prosecuted as domestic terrorism? NOW sits down with two of the remaining handful of doctors who publicly acknowledge performing late abortions. The murder of Dr. George Tiller has reignited the abortion debate, and raised the question: should violence against medical doctors who perform abortions be viewed and prosecuted as domestic terrorism? NOW Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa sits down with two of the remaining handful of doctors who publicly acknowledge performing late abortions, including Leroy Carhart, a fellow doctor in Tiller's Wichita, Kansas clinic. Carhart discusses his vow to carry on Tiller's mission and what it's like for him and his family to live as "targets". The show also investigates claims that law enforcement dropped the ball when it came to stopping Tiller's alleged murderer, Scott Roeder. Hinojosa travels to Colorado as well to talk with Dr. Warren Hern, another late abortion provider who says he's been living "under siege" for decades. Dr. Hern works behind four layers of bulletproof windows and is now under round-the-clock federal protection. NOW goes into the eye of the abortion rights storm to see how Tiller's killing and its ramifications are impacting doctors, free speech, and a civilized society.
A record 115,000 U.N. peacekeepers are now deployed in 20 countries, and their mission is more vital than ever. But critics and insiders alike are openly worried that the current peacekeeping model is overstretched -- and at risk of failure. NOW travels to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to witness today's largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation. There, 17,000 U.N. troops are tasked with protecting millions of people over a rugged and dangerous territory the size of the Eastern United States. But the effort is struggling -- last November, local rebels massacred civilians less than a mile from one of the U.N. bases. How can U.N. peacekeeping be improved so that it fulfills its promise of protection to the world?
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Podcast Details
Started
Jun 6th, 2008
Latest Episode
Apr 30th, 2010
Release Period
Weekly
No. of Episodes
85
Avg. Episode Length
24 minutes
Explicit
No

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