San Jose Police Crack Down On Violence

The San Jose Police Department is cracking down on violent crime after the city's 25th homicide this year.

KQED Launches Affordable Care Act Guide

Are you confused about Obamacare? KQED and The California Report created a guide to help answer your questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Bay Area Startups Seek to Transform Health Care

Bay Area digital health startups raised $1 billion in venture capital in 2014, a 125 percent increase from the previous year. The sector promises better management and treatment of diseases like diabetes and improved access to health data. But health care is a notoriously challenging business and the rapid growth of this industry raises serious questions of privacy and efficacy. We'll take the pulse of the digital health industry. What new products and therapies offer real hope? And which are merely hype?

FDA Approves Ecstasy-Assisted Psychotherapy in Marin County

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given a Marin therapist the green light to study whether the illegal drug ecstasy, or MDMA, is effective in treating severe anxiety and depression when taken in conjunction with psychotherapy. A notorious party drug, ecstasy has previously shown promise as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We'll look at the latest MDMA studies and the increased medical interest in the drug, which was banned by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 1985.

PBS NewsHour

Study: Fireworks release high levels of pollution on July 4 weekend

Spectators watch the Macy's Fourth of July fireworks explode over the East River in New York, July 4, 2014. New studies
         show that fireworks may adversely affect peoples' health because of the high levels of pollutants they release into the air.
         Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters

Spectators watch rockets from the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks show explode over the East River in New York, July 4, 2014. New studies show that fireworks may adversely affect peoples’ health because of the high levels of pollutants they release into the air. Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters

An average of 230 Americans end up in the emergency room every day in the month around July 4 because of firework-related injuries, but pyrotechnic mishaps are not the only potential setback of this Fourth of July tradition.

A new study published this week in the journal Atmospheric Environment found that fireworks release high levels of pollution into the sky on July 4 and 5.

“When people think of air pollution, they think of other kinds of things—smoke stacks, automobile exhaust pipes, construction sites,” study author Dian J. Seidel told TIME. “I don’t think most people think of fireworks.”

As a national average, culled from 315 different testing sites, Independence Day fireworks introduce 42 percent more pollutants into the air than are found on a normal day.

Part of that increase is a spike in emissions of perchlorate, a chemical that the Environmental Protection Agency says may “disrupt the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones needed for normal growth and development.”

The post Study: Fireworks release high levels of pollution on July 4 weekend appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

The downside of no downtime for kids

Should parents sign kids up for weeks of camps or leave them to their own devices to fill their summer days? Experts
         say a mix of both is best. Photo by bsrdn/Flickr.

Should parents sign kids up for weeks of camps or leave them to their own devices to fill their summer days? Experts say a mix of both is best. Photo by bsrdn/Flickr.

Is a summer packed with science and sports camps, reading assignments and math practice the only responsible choice?

Have you failed if your fifth grader isn’t learning to code or build tools with 3D printers?

Should you be pushing your child out the door, directing them to find the nearest park on their own?

The answer to all of those questions is probably no, says Alvin Rosenfeld, author of “The Over-Scheduled Child” and perhaps the most quoted man in articles warning of the possible consequences of accounting for too many minutes of your child’s day.
(These consequences, by the way, can include depression, anxiety and a lack of creativity and problem solving skills.)

work-life-balance-badge“First, I’d ask myself what kind of adult you want your kid to grow up to be,” Rosenfeld said. “And then I’d ask how you get there. How do you balance academics, athletics and character?”

Most parents Rosenfeld encounters say developing a strong character is most important. “Unfortunately, actions don’t always follow aspirations in terms of saying character is most important,” he said.

And unscheduled time with family, but without goals or plans, is key to character development, Rosenfeld said. Those are the times children are more likely to wonder about the world and to ask questions.

“Families that play together stay together,” said Fran Mainella, former director of the National Park Service who co-chairs the board of the U.S. Play Coalition. Family play helps kids develop social skills like communication, “so when tougher situations come up, the fact that they’ve played together makes it so they can better communicate in those situations, too.”

And unplanned family time has the added benefit of helping parents and children learn more about each other. “So you know your parents, and your parents know you,” Rosenfeld said. “That’s an essential facet of emotional health. If you feel your parents know you, love you and care for you, life can be difficult, it can challenge you, throw you curves, but you’ll always have that recollection inside and feel beloved.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean evenings should be spent staring at each other across the dinner table, he said.

“If you’re interested, getting taught to play the saxophone, or ice hockey, or gymnastics is terrific,” he said. Just don’t fill all your time with it. “An increase in stress increases performance until you reach a tipping point — then there is a dramatic and total crash.”

Avoiding a ‘total crash’ means striking a balance

Few children get to experience the kind of summers idealized in movies — playing games and riding bikes with their friends in the neighborhood. Research shows that can mean weight gain and a loss of academic skills, especially for low-income children. A 2007 study found one measure of weight increased up to twice as fast for some children during the summer when compared to weight gain during the school year. Other research concludes children can lose as much as two months of math and reading proficiency over the summer.

Summer programs can also be a place where kids who struggle to focus in traditional classrooms can flourish, according to Sarah Pitcock, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association.

“These are kids told throughout the school year that they’re a problem, that they’re bad kids,” she said. “And so often, we see those kids excel and become leaders in a summer setting.”

But for every week of intensive activity or sleepaway camp, Dorothy Sluss said, children need three weeks of less-structured time.

Sluss is an associate professor of elementary and early childhood education at James Madison University and president of the U.S. chapter of the International Play Association.

Children, young children especially, do need time to play and explore and, Sluss said. They need time to just do nothing.

“We may see sitting on a blanket in the yard, looking at the clouds as a waste of time,” she said. “But children view that as a time to wonder, to grow. That’s when they develop and have sensory stimulation.”

Hard and fast rules on numbers of activities or hours of free time aren’t necessary, Rosenfeld said. Parents should listen to their instincts.

“If you sense you’ve gone beyond the tipping point, cut back 5 percent, cut back one night a week, have a “no-activity day” twice a month,” he said. “You’ll feel you have to yell at your kids a little less and that you’re not in crazy zone anymore.”

The post The downside of no downtime for kids appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

After surviving Supreme Court challenge, what’s next for Obamacare coverage and cost?


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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the health care law, the president headed to Nashville today to make the case that more states should participate. More than 20 states, mostly led by Republicans, have rejected an expansion of Medicaid, including in Tennessee.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And the federal government is there to help and to work with those states that are ready to get going.

I will tell you, the states that have taken full advantage of all the federal options available, they have an even lower uninsured rate and a healthier population, and more people signing up for the options that are available than those state how have not taken full advantage of those options. And that’s just a fact.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We pick up on what happens now to the health care law and the issues surrounding coverage and costs.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell is the point person for the administration.

Sylvia Burwell, welcome.

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL, Secretary of Health and Human Services: Thank you so much for having me.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So the administration just won this big victory in the Supreme Court just last week, the president already out on the road saying it needs to be improved, the health care law.

How do you know this is a wise approach when, I guess, half the American people say they’re still not sure they like the law?

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: Well, I think what we want to do is use this as an opportunity to build on the progress that’s been made.

And whether that’s the progress that’s been made for those that are in the employer-based market, those that no longer can be kept out of insurance because of preexisting conditions or can keep their child on until 26, or those that are newly insured, we have made a lot of progress.

And what we want to do is turn now and build on that progress and use this moment as an opportunity to move forward.

JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m sure you know very well Republican members of Congress, Republicans running for president are saying they want to either completely repeal the law or undo big chunks of it.

How worried are you that they may do that either in the next year-and-a-half or when there is a new president?

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: Well, you know, I think the president’s been clear about the issue of repeal.

And what we’re hoping is that the conversation can turn to the substance, and I think that’s what the president was reflecting today, in terms of most Americans want to make sure — they don’t want to go back to a time where you can’t get insurance if you have preexisting conditions or your children up to 26, or in terms of the consumer protections that are in place, and whether that’s lifetime limits no longer exist or annual limits no longer exist.

And I don’t think folks want to go back to that. And so I think what we want to do is focus on there has been a lot of progress made in terms of quality, affordability and access, but we believe that there is more that can be made, and we would like to work together to do that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk about some of the modifications that have been discussed. Even people who support the plan are saying there are parts of it that need changing, the so-called Cadillac tax on the more generous plans.

The thinking is that this could cause employers to cut back on benefits, to pass along the cost. Is that something that the administration is willing to take a look at and maybe get rid of?

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: So, with regard to what we said about the things we want to look at, and how we’re going to think about each of those things is in terms of, how does it impact access, affordability and quality, and what does it do in terms of the deficit and the health of the economy.

These are the things that, for all the issues, we’re ready to have the conversation in terms of — in our budget even, we actually have proposed extending some of the tax credits to a larger group of small businesses. In our budget, we have also proposed things that we think will help with increasing costs in the pharmaceutical space as well.

And that’s about making sure we have the ability to negotiate with pharmaceuticals about price for Part D and Medicare.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what about the Cadillac tax?

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: As I said, in terms of that one, there is the issue of what it means in terms of the deficit. That is a very expensive thing. And so, as we think about that, that’s one of the things that we think is problematic in that space.

JUDY WOODRUFF: As you know, also, one of the persistent criticisms of the law and health care in general is that the costs is so high, that premium costs are high.

We looked at some numbers today. In many places, people are paying 10 percent, 20 percent, even 30 percent of their gross income for these premiums. How do you reverse this trend, which seems to be happening in places all over the country?

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: So, first, I think it’s important to recognize that in terms of premium growth, that we have seen some of the lowest premium growth in the employer-based market that we have seen in many, many years in terms of a decade.

We have also seen that price increases in the health system are at some of the lowest in decades. With regard to what we’re seeing now in terms of some of the premiums that have been posted and are being talked about, those are the proposed premiums.

And part of the Affordable Care Act created a process of transparency and review. So when insurers are going to charge more than a 10 percent increase, that needs to be reviewed and there needs to be justification. The Affordable Care Act actually has put in place things that we believe both increase transparency and increase downward pressure on the premiums, but I think everyone knows, before the Affordable Care Act, we saw these premium increases that existed as well.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about the difficulty in getting people to sign up. This is something I know the administration’s worked very hard on.

But even today, we’re told something like 18 million Americans who are eligible who are uninsured still have not signed up, decided to buy insurance. Many of these are Hispanic, young people, young men. How do you reach out to these individuals? How do you persuade them to sign up when they haven’t been willing before now?

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: So, we know a couple of things.

First, 16.4 million fewer Americans are uninsured now. And that is progress and progress we want to build. We want to do this year as part of our open enrollment and focus, as we did last year, on meeting the consumer where they are, making sure that we understand what these consumers are making their choices on and that they have the information they need to make good decisions and know that they can find affordable, quality care.

We know that many people don’t realize that there are tax credits that can help make it affordable. We also know that many people, differing groups need to be — have individual contact. And that’s why we use navigators and assisters, so that people can ask the questions of an individual and have a conversation about what is a very important and personal matter.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, of course, another important part of this is coverage for low-income individuals, for the poor, Medicaid. A number of governors, a number of states have said they are not going to go along with expanded Medicaid coverage.

There is difficulty. We know the administration is going to be reducing, I guess, from 100 percent down to 90 percent of the portion it covers. You still see state leaders saying this is something they can’t afford to do. How do you persuade them otherwise?

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: Well, first, I think it’s important that the 100 percent goes through 2016.

So, for many governors, it’s important to go ahead and fully get that 100 percent payment that the federal government is willing to make in terms of expanding and providing coverage for many working people in their state who can’t afford that coverage right now.

And we believe that, in terms of the expansion, it’s important for two fundamental reasons. One is for the individuals. And those individuals, as I said, many are working, are people who can get health security and financial security by the expansion.

I think the other thing that’s important is what this does mean in terms of jobs and the economy. And in Kentucky, where they did expand, they have done studies so that they make sure they track what’s happening. And a study done by Deloitte, as well as the University of Louisville, showed that, in the state of Kentucky, by the year 2021, they expect 40,000 new jobs to be created because of the expansion and $30 billion to flow into the budgets of the state of Kentucky.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So that’s something you will think is going to happen elsewhere?

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: We think it is. And we think that it’s because of the substance in terms of what it means in the states, both for individuals, as well as for the states’ economies and providers in those states.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, thank you.

SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL: Judy, thanks for having me.

The post After surviving Supreme Court challenge, what’s next for Obamacare coverage and cost? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

How a time-use expert uses her time

Sociologist and time-use researcher Liana Sayer studies how people spend their time. But when unforeseen delays interrupt her schedule, she’s only human. Here’s the story of how one time-use expert worked to regain control of her day.

A day with a time-use expert — University of Maryland sociologist and time-use researcher Liana Sayer looks for patterns and consequences in the ways people spend their time. Photo by Megan Hickey.

Before her workday even begins, time-use expert Liana Sayer’s schedule is already off course.

A day earlier, strong winds and heavy rain delayed her flight from Lubbock, Texas, routing her through Dallas and New Orleans before she finally arrived in Washington, D.C., after midnight. By the time she got to bed at 3 a.m., it was clear that she wasn’t going to make it to her 6 a.m. spin class.

Sayer studies how the frenetic pace of work, family and personal obligations consume daily life, minutes and hours at a time. But outside of her research, she has not yet managed to apply these same skills to her own life.

“That would be handy if I could do that,” she said with a wry smile. “What it does is make you more aware of the complexities of how you spend your time outside of work.”

As a sociologist and director of the University of Maryland’s Time Use Laboratory, Sayer explores the ways that gender and social class guide the ways that people use their time. She looks for patterns and consequences of time use and the ways that these actions influence people’s daily lives.

When she’s not in her office, Sayer lives with her mother, who depends on Sayer’s care, as well as her husband and their three cats. And her recent trip to Texas was not for pleasure but instead to visit her sick older brother and take care of family business.

Sayer has no children, but she said her life accidentally stumbled into an area of her own research known as the second shift, which is commonly understood to be parents who work full-time professionally while taking care of a child. However, in Sayer’s case, she has served since 2008 as her mother’s caregiver.

“Caregiving has very mixed consequences for people,” she said.

Years ago, Sayer said she would have worked through the night to conquer unforeseen delays and to get her life back on schedule. But these days, life’s demands and mental worry make it increasingly difficult for her to rebound from unexpected setbacks as she once had.

“Over time, it just saps your reserves,” Sayer said. “You’re just less able to tax yourself further and recover from it.”


Meetings, email and software updates — As director of graduate studies for the University of Maryland's sociology department, Liana Sayer offers advice to a graduate student. When she is not in meetings, she reviews journal articles and grant proposals, responds to email and conducts daily business. And that's before she goes home. Photo by Megan Hickey.

By the time she walks 15 minutes from her house and switches on her office’s fluorescent lights, it’s 12:45 p.m. Even during the summer doldrums on the University of Maryland campus, her workday began nearly four hours behind schedule. Half of the day is gone.

At her standing desk, she surveys her email inbox. In it, 49 unread messages wait for her. She checks three times a day — morning, noon and before wrapping up the workday.

“If I responded to them as they came in, I’d get no work done,” she says.

During spring and fall semesters, a flurry of emails and meetings scatters disruptions across her days. She once relied on her own memory to stay on top of her to-do list, but that system just doesn’t work anymore.

“Increasingly, I can’t rely on that. What happens now is I tend to get interrupted or distracted,” she says.

Sometimes, she even needs back-up reminders, setting up a note on her Microsoft Outlook calendar and another in Google Calendar.

“Teaching days, I almost always feel rushed,” she says. “By the time I’ve dealt with one interruption, the other thing [I was suppose to do] is just out of my head, and I won’t think about it again until I get reminded about it.”


For many people, this blur of activity is a symptomatic of a condition that Sayer’s colleague, University of Maryland sociologist and time-use researcher John Robinson, calls “hurry sickness.”

That is when “people run a life out of control” with “so many things to do,” Robinson said.

Hurry sickness is when “people run a life out of control” with “so many things to do.” — University of Maryland sociologist and time-use researcher John Robinson

For five decades, Robinson has studied how people spend their time. In 1965, he directed the first national study that tracked time use. And in recent years, contrary to conventional wisdom, his research has found that people actually have more leisure time than they did when he first began his research.

He says mobile devices, especially smartphones, do much to drive the social phenomenon of hurry sickness.

“All these new technologies, they make me frantic, so i imagine they do the same to other people,” Robinson said. “They make their way into the workplace, so employers can keep better tabs on what you’re doing and increases the possibility that you feel you’re a part of that hurry-up society.”

Sayer herself is planning to update her six-year-old cell phone for a flashier smartphone. She wants to use an app that Belgian time-use researchers developed that crashes on her current phone. She’s even contemplating jumping into social media after having “tweeted maybe three times in my life.”

A growing number of academics are turning to social media to promote their research, she says.

Of course, this would further add to her to-do list and fragment her day.

As a researcher, being able to focus on a single question at a time is one reason why she entered academia in the first place, she says.

Sayer is no multi-tasker. When she talks to you, she stops what she is doing, looks you in the eye and listens to you. It’s actually refreshing. She does not attempt to fumble through conversation while constantly pecking away a response email or reviewing a grant proposal.

She says most of the research on multitasking “shows that people think they’re managing that well, but they’re really not. Neither task is getting done that well because most of these things require your actual attention.”

Liana C. Sayer. Photo by Megan Hickey.

Time-use researcher Liana Sayer reads through a time diary in the University of Maryland’s Time Use Laboratory. With these diaries, researchers track how many minutes and hours each day people spend doing housework, childcare, working or sleeping. Photo by Megan Hickey.

It’s now 2:41 p.m. Sayer sets out to check her office mailbox. Winding through the arts and sociology building and walking down two flights of dimly lit stairs, she runs into an office administrative assistant who is lingering outside of the Time Use Laboratory, looking for a place to store some spare furniture. Not in my lab, Sayer tells her.

She returns to her office by 2:50 p.m. And forgets to check her mailbox.

Coming and going, she always takes the stairs. Her purple FitBit is evidence of the valued role exercise plays in Sayer’s life. She says it helps her to manage stress, and she relishes each chance she has to practice yoga, spin or lift weights.

As she reviews a grant proposal she had promised to submit (the deadline just a few hours away), she hears the pipes in the ceiling above her office gurgle. She notices a growing brown spot over her office doorway and wonders if she needs to throw a tarpaulin over her computer.

Back to her mailbox — this time to tell the administrative assistant about the pipes.

At 3:30 p.m., she’s on her way back to her office with an armful of mail and notices a package full of checks and expense reports for the Population Association of America, a professional group that she serves as secretary-treasurer, that had been priority-mailed to her days ago.


She approves four checks and plans to leave the office by 5 p.m. Then, she has to answer an email that requires a software update for her to view a contract that needs verification. It is now 3:40 p.m.

The next 30 minutes of her life belong to Adobe Acrobat.

At 4:12 p.m., she finally accesses the contract for an upcoming reception for a professional organization where she serves on the board. Apparently, there was a discrepancy about seating.

“Now I should be able to do what I’ve attempted to do for the last 30 minutes,” Sayer says. “It’s one of those things that you think will only take two minutes to do.”

Days when she feels that she has successfully managed her time happen about once a month, she says.

That sense of accomplishment doesn’t usually materialize except when Sayer is staring down the barrel of a grant deadline. Then, she shuts her office door and refuses to answer email in the middle of the day.

On this day, she starts to surrender to her to-do list at 4:28 p.m. There are 44 unread messages in her inbox.

“I’m obviously not going to get through my email today,” she says. “Some of these things, they can wait until tomorrow.”

By 5:15 p.m., maintenance workers show up outside her office to fix the pipes and patch the leak. She looks at the 51 unread messages that now sit in her inbox.

“I’m going to finish at home,” she says with resignation.

She’ll cram the leftover office work somewhere in between tidying up the house, feeding the cats, making dinner, eating (usually around 8), chatting with her mom and husband, cleaning, reading the newspaper and getting to bed by 11:30.

So, even as the day winds to a close, her to-do list only gets bigger.

The post How a time-use expert uses her time appeared first on PBS NewsHour.