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NOW on PBS

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Called "one of the last bastions of serious journalism on TV," PBS's weekly news show NOW engages viewers with documentary segments and insightful interviews that probe today's most important issues, including media policy, corporate accountability, civil liberties, the environment, money in politics, and foreign affairs. In an era when commercial journalism risks overwhelming democratic values, NOW continues to stand apart as the "one program going against the grain."
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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.
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 NOW broadcast series is ending -- the show will go off the air in just three weeks. NOW looks back on eight years of in-depth investigative reporting to examine what's been uncovered and accomplished, as well as what still needs to be done to preserve and enhance our democracy. Is true investigative journalism disappearing just when we need it most? Compare past to present through our NOW on PBS lens, and decide for yourselves.
A Town Revitalized?

A Town Revitalized?

2010-04-0924:09

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.
Maximum Capacity

Maximum Capacity

2010-04-0222:48

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?
"Gasland"

"Gasland"

2010-03-2623:45

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.
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?
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.
Angry Voters

Angry Voters

2010-02-1922:39

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.
Caring About Congo

Caring About Congo

2010-02-1222:39

Even with the recent outpouring of support for earthquake victims in Haiti, Americans' attention span for global crises is usually very short. But is there a way to keep American audiences from tuning out important global issues of violence, poverty, and catastrophe far beyond their backyards? NOW talks with filmmaker Eric Metzgar about "Reporter," his documentary about the international reporting trips of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. In the film, Metzgar provides fascinating insight into how Kristof breaks through and gets us to think deeply about people and issues half a world away.
To gain their historic control of Congress, Democrats fielded moderate candidates who didn't always follow the party line, especially when it came to abortion. Now that the Democratic Party has the legislative upper hand, are they willing to negotiate away reproductive rights for other political gains? NOW goes to Allentown, Pennsylvania to ask: Are abortion rights now in jeopardy at the very hands of the party that has historically protected them? Among those interviewed are pro-life Democratic U.S. Representative Bart Stupak and former DNC Chairman Howard Dean. "If there was a bill on the floor to reverse Roe vs Wade, and says 'life begins at conception,' I would vote for it." Congressman Stupak tells NOW. Jen Boulanger, director of the often-protested Allentown Women's Center, says, "I would expect more from the Democratic Party, to stick to their ideals, not just throw us to the curb." Has the Democratic Party traded principles for power?
Saving Haiti's Mothers

Saving Haiti's Mothers

2010-01-2922:39

Haiti's catastrophic earthquake, in addition to leaving lives and institutions in ruin, also exacerbated a much more common and lethal emergency in Haiti: Dying during childbirth. Challenges in transportation, education, and quality health care contribute to Haiti having the highest maternal mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere, a national crisis even before the earthquake struck. While great strides are being made with global health issues like HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality figures worldwide have seen virtually no improvement in 20 years. Worldwide, over 500,000 women die each year during pregnancy. A NOW team that had been working in Haiti during the earthquake reports on this deadly but correctable trend. They meet members of the Haitian Health Foundation (HHF), which operates a network of health agents in more than 100 villages, engaging in pre-natal visits, education, and emergency ambulance runs for pregnant women. The United Nations Population Fund, which trains midwives to share life-saving birth techniques, says that with proper funding, public support, and wider application of simple but scarce innovations, such deaths could be reduced by nearly 70%. As humanitarian attention on Haiti slowly fades, the issue of maternity mortality remains as imperative as ever. But with an estimated 63,000 women in Haiti currently pregnant -- and a main midwife training school devastated by the earthquake -- the mission of keeping mothers alive has never been more daunting.
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.
Is good journalism going extinct? Fractured audiences and tight budgets have downsized or sunk many of the fourth estate's major battleships, including this very program. NOW's David Brancaccio talks to professor Bob McChesney and journalist John Nichols about the perils of a shrinking news media landscape, and their bold proposal to save noncommercial journalism with government subsidies. Their new book is "The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again." Should public journalism get the next government bailout?
Targeting the Taliban

Targeting the Taliban

2010-01-0822:48

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.
Student Loan Sinkhole?

Student Loan Sinkhole?

2009-12-2522:48

According to the Department of Education, the average amount of an undergraduate student loan in this country is now more than $22,000. And sudden changes in lenders' terms and rates can quickly turn a personal debt into a financial sinkhole, grounding the dreams of many college graduates even before they've started. NOW follows the story of a single mother in Baltimore trying to dig herself out of a $70,000 student loan debt. While issues of personal responsibility are debated, there's no question the high price of higher education is creating an ocean of student loan debt for people who can least afford it -- and yet another frustrating complication for America's economic recovery.
In rural Rwanda, the simple and time-tested idea of medical house calls is not only improving the health of the community, but stimulating its economy as well. NOW travels to the village of Rwinkwavu to meet the Rwandan doctors, nurses and villagers who are teaming up with Boston-based Partners in Health and the Rwandan government to deliver medicine and medical counseling door-to-door. Would such an innovation work in America? In the capital of Kigali, NOW's David Brancaccio sits down with Rwandan President Paul Kagame to talk about international aid and Kagame's ultimate vision for a healthy, financially-independent Rwanda.
Over the next four years, approximately 30,000 Marines and their families will move to the small island of Guam, nearly tripling its presence there. It's part of a larger agreement that the U.S. signed with Japan to realign American forces in the Pacific, but how will this multi-billion dollar move impact the lives and lifestyle of Guam's nearly 200,000 residents? This week, NOW on PBS travels to the U.S. territory of Guam to find out whether their environment and infrastructure can support such a large and quick infusion of people, and why the buildup is vital to our national security.
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.
Climate Crisis

Climate Crisis

2009-11-2722:39

The Maldives, a nation of roughly 1200 low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean, could be underwater by the end of this century if climate change causes ocean levels to rise. On the eve of the big climate summit in Copenhagen, the country's president, Mohamed Nasheed, is warning of a massive exodus from the Maldives if drastic global action is not taken. NOW talks with President Nasheed about the climate crisis and why he compares it to genocide.
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