Gwen Ifill will host a reddit AMA starting 1 p.m. EDT Thursday.
Gwen Ifill will answer your questions on reddit during her first "Ask Me Anything" session beginning at 1 p.m. EDT Thursday.
Ifill is a senior correspondent for "PBS NewsHour" and the moderator and managing editor of "Washington Week." She's covered six Presidential campaigns, moderated two vice presidential debates. She is the author of the book "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama."
A teen girl gets an HPV shot. Photo by Getty images.
Since the introduction of a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer in 2006, the number of new infections of human papillomavirus or HPV among teen girls has plummeted in the United States, Centers for Disease Control officials announced on Wednesday.
Among 14- to 19-year-olds, vaccine-type HPV prevalence dropped by a full 56 percent, according to a study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. CDC officials said the results were even better than expected, possibly because vaccination rates may be contributing to "herd immunity," meaning those who aren't vaccinated are partially protected because less of the disease is circulating in the general population.
CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said the report "should be a wake-up call to our nation to protect the next generation" by increasing vaccination rates against the sexually transmitted infection that can lead to cervical cancer.
Despite a long-standing recommendation that nearly all teen girls receive the shots, only about a third of those 13-17 are fully vaccinated. Frieden noted that even comparatively poor countries such as Rwanda have vaccinated more than 80 percent of their teen girls.
"Our low vaccination rates represent 50,000 preventable tragedies -- 50,000 girls alive today will develop cervical cancer over their lifetime that would have been prevented if we reach 80 percent vaccination rates," he said. "For every year we delay in doing so, another 4,400 girls will develop cervical cancer in their lifetimes."
Some parents, doctors and conservative organizations protest universal vaccination, saying that it could promote sexual activity among teens and potentially open young people to more harm (watch a NewsHour debate about the idea of mandatory HPV testing here). But Frieden said that waiting until teens are sexually active "misses the point" by not allowing the vaccine enough time to become fully effective against potential infection.
In 2006, the CDC first recommended that girls age 11 and 12 routinely receive the vaccine to protect against developing cancer or spreading HPV to sexual partners later in life. They followed it with a similar recommendation for boys in 2011.
But relatively few families followed the recommendation due to "all the controversy that has swirled around the vaccine," Rob Stein of the Washington Post told the NewsHour's Jeffrey Brown in 2011. "This is one of those health issues that's been kind of bogged down and got kind of sucked into the politics and economics of the some of the issues that it raises." Watch the full interview:
The disease -- back in the news lately after actor Michael Douglas blamed his throat cancer on oral sex and HPV -- infects 79 million Americans, according to the CDC. Most are in their late teens and early 20s. About 14 million more people become infected each year.
HPV leads to about 19,000 cancers each year among U.S. women -- primarily cervical cancer -- and about 8,000 cancers in U.S. men, largely throat cancer.
Frieden pointed to the new study as proof that those kinds of numbers are no longer necessary.
"The bottom line is that it's possible to protect a generation from cancer and we've got to do it," he said.
Musician David Rothenberg plays his clarinet with the buzz of cicadas as his accompaniment.
In early June, David Rothenberg journeyed to the Ulster County Fairgrounds in New York's Hudson Valley in search of fellow musicians. These are not your typical musicians -- they're found in the grass and the treetops and make their best music in the heat of the day.
They are cicadas, specifically the Brood II periodical cicadas that emerge along the East Coast of the United States every 17 years. Science correspondent Miles O'Brien has been following their return this spring, and will air a piece on Wednesday's PBS NewsHour broadcast. With as many as 1 million per acre, the insects emerge after feeding on tree roots for 17 years underground.
Rothenberg finds a few dozen cicadas, hiding in the trees and grasses of the park. He scoops them up and drops them into a net. They will accompany him in a concert that night at the Mohawk Mountain House.
They sound like white noise, a loud buzz from a distance. Cicadas' mating calls can reach 90 decibels or more, making them as loud as a passing truck or a jackhammer.
But if you listen carefully, you can pick out individual calls, Rothenberg said. The Magicicada cassini, the smallest of the periodic cicades makes the loudest buzzing noise. Then Magicicada septendecim joins in, with a long low tone that sounds like "pharaoh, pharaoh." Magicicada septendecula pipes up with a percussive rattle. And the females respond with a faint click of her wings. It's melodic, he said, just as beautiful as birds.
"So you have a three-part motet or a trio here, three different species singing together, so it really then becomes like a piece of music," he said.
Making music with the animal world is a side job for Rothenberg, who is a professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He's played with birds and whales, and has written books on connecting with the animal world through song.
These jam sessions with the natural world also stretch our notion of what music can be, Rothenberg said.
"Music is an incredibly important kind of communication that humans do, and yet we don't really know how it works," he said. "We don't know what it means. We don't know what it signifies. We can't translate it to anything but we know it's so important to us."
Rothenberg's latest book "Bug Music," published this year, is his seven-year journey to understand how cicadas, beetles, crickets and other insects have rhythms and melodies, which have inspired human music.
"Bug Music" also includes Rothenberg's jazz compositions with the bugs. In a viral YouTube video, Rothenberg played the alto saxophone with the Brood XIX cicadas in 2011. This year he's been going out with his clarinet to play with the bugs. He's also brought out an iPad to play more electronic insect-sounding tones to them.
David Rothenberg, an environmental philosopher and jazz musician focused on "interspecies jazz," traveled to Springfield, Ill., to convene with the "Great Southern Brood" -- the vast hatch of 13-year cicadas buzzing and mating across 16 states in the south and Midwest.
The cicadas represent a chance to communicate with the insect world, Rothenberg said. They break all the stereotypes of insects, he said. They don't sting or bite, and they're not toxic. And it's never been a better time for the cicadas to be out, he said. With the growth of social media since their last emergence, many more people can be drawn into their sounds and their poetic, if short, lives above ground.
"Only for a few weeks, they're singing," he said, "Sing, fly, mate, die...There's this melancholy sense of the moment. It's so simple and yet so poignant."
Miles O'Brien will have more on the life and death of the Brood II cicadas on tonight's PBS NewsHour.
The man who predicted the crash of 2008 thinks energy and heavy manufacturing have the potential to fuel an economic boom not seen since the 1950s and 1960s. Photo courtesy of Jim R. Bounds/Bloomberg via Getty Images.
What's remarkable is how well Morris' analysis of the crash, written before the crash, holds up half a decade after it. So when I saw that he was calling his newest book "Comeback," I felt obliged to take a look.
I'll let him take it from here.
Charles Morris: It's the best-kept secret in the economics media: The United States is on the brink of a period of solid, long-term growth rivaling that of the 1950s and 1960s. It is not a finance-driven, self-destructive boom, like the 2000s' housing bubble. No, the new economy will be durably grounded in energy and heavy manufacturing, even though it will take several years to come to full fruition.
Evidence? Dow Chemical has commenced a $4 billion development in new plastics manufacturing in Texas, for example, that will start coming on stream in 2015 and be fully operational only in 2017, but it will be productive for a very long time. This will be a growth cycle with staying power.
Why haven't you heard about the boom? Official economic forecasters, like the International Monetary Fund and the Congressional Budget Office, simply have not factored America's emerging new economy into their forecasts. Instead, they still see us limping along at an average of 2 to 2.5 percent real (after inflation) growth to the farthest horizon -- a hobbled, aging power, borne down by debts and deficits, shorn of its old bounce-back vigor, tottering along just fast enough to stave off out-and-out stagnation.
There is no question that the financial crash has left deep economic scars. But the fundamentals will turn in America's favor and when they do, annual GDP growth should kick back up to at least the 3.3 percent average real growth rate that has prevailed since 1950. That's far from a startling forecast for a recovery, but even at that level, the budget problems that have so paralyzed official Washington will shrink rapidly in the rear-view mirror as tax receipts grow, making debts and deficits shrink. The seemingly crushing post WWII debt -- 120 percent of GDP -- quickly dropped from the radar screens with growth in the 3-4 percent range in the 1950s. So what are the positive portents?
Specifically, the CBO found that the measure would reduce the deficit by $197 billion over the next decade and $700 billion in the next 20 years. And 8 million of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States could find themselves on the pathway to citizenship.
Jaron Lanier, the widely regarded father of virtual reality, recounts his early experience introducing virtual reality to Hollywood and how his vision of his own technology differed from what some people wanted. Our interview with Lanier about his book, "Who Owns the Future?", and how technology is widening inequality can be seen here. An excerpted transcript of Paul's conversation with Lanier about virtual reality follows.
Paul Solman: I remember when I first became aware of you in the 1980s. You were pioneering virtual reality and you were suggesting that it was right around the corner. And here we are, 25 years later, and it still hasn't really arrived.
Jaron Lanier: Virtual reality has become an almost universal industrial technology. Every single vehicle you've used in the last 10 years was designed in virtual reality first, so it actually has happened -- just not for consumers. I'd always predicted that around 2020, so I still have a few years to be proven wrong on virtual reality.
In 2006, NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured this backlit view of of Saturn's rings during an eclipse of the sun. Courtesy Cassini Imaging Team/ Image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI.
Editor's note: Carolyn Porco is the leader of the imaging team for the Cassini mission at Saturn and a veteran imaging scientist on the 1980s Voyager mission. She participated in the famous 1990 Pale Blue Dot image of Earth taken from beyond the orbit of Neptune by NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft.
More than 50 years of traveling invisible interplanetary highways around our solar system and nearly a decade of orbiting Saturn have brought us to a keen awareness of the celestial bodies in motion around the sun and the series of events responsible for their birth and development. We could hardly claim to know the complexity of the planetary systems that lie beyond the asteroid belt, the chronology of the early solar system, or the wide range of extraterrestrial environments where biological processes might be at work, were it not for the many exploratory expeditions that we have mounted to these far-flung worlds.
But perhaps the greatest, most profound legacy of the quest we have undertaken to understand our origins is perspective: that crystalline, uncorrupted view of our cosmic place that erodes all delusion and confronts us with a powerful recognition of ourselves, a recognition that never fails to move us.
It is surely for this reason that of all the millions of images taken of the worlds in our solar system since the beginning of the space age, those that reach deeper into the human heart than any other are those of our own home, as it might be seen in the skies of other worlds: small, alone in the blackness of never-ending space and awash in the blue of its oceans.
Defense attorney Cheryl Bormann, seen in this sketch from May 5, 2012, wears the Muslim hijab when the defendants are in the courtroom. Sketch by Janet Hamlin/AFP/Getty Images.
The pre-trial hearing on the five suspected 9/11 plotters continued Tuesday at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- without the accused present. The day focused on why the International Red Cross opposes requests to disclose its confidential condition reports on Guantanamo detainees.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected architect of the 9/11 attacks, and four accused co-conspirators were in the courtroom on Monday, but they chose not to attend Tuesday's proceedings.
At the hearing, Matthew MacLean, a civilian attorney for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the ICRC must maintain its reputation as a "strictly impartial" entity and, therefore, couldn't release the confidential Guantanamo detainee condition reports to the defense attorneys who requested them.
"The primary method we have to get access to places that nobody else can access" is to keep the information it collects confidential, he said. "Our role is too unique and too important" to compromise on that point.
A periodical cicada basks in the sun at a cemetery in Lorton, Virginia. Photo by Jenny Marder.
On a hot spring day in late May, I went hunting for periodical cicadas with John Cooley, a veteran expert of the behavior, distribution and unusual courtship rituals of these insects. The trip was for a tape piece we've been preparing on cicadas, which is slated to air on Wednesday's NewsHour broadcast.
As our van pulled into Deep Run Park, just outside Richmond, Va., a noise rose up from the din, first a soft buzzing, like a bike engine from a distance, but rising increasingly in volume and pitch as we drove along a row of tall pine trees lining the road.
"This is a fairly pure chorus of Magicicada septendecim," Cooley said, referring to the specific species of periodical cicada. "I can see one flying right over there."
Sure enough, a cicada was flitting along the treetops. And then another. And another. Cicadas in cicada territory are like stars. The longer your eyes search for them, the more the bugs come into focus, and the more you see.