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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  December 25, 2014 6:00pm-7:01pm EST

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> sreenivasan: as americans line up at the box office to see "the interview" this christmas, or stream it from the comfort of their homes, we take a look at how the movie's release came to happen. good evening, i'm hari sreenivasan. gwen ifill and judy woodruff are away. also ahead: as pope francis calls for peace in the middle east and beyond in his annual christmas address, some insight into how his early life shaped the outlook of this reformer. plus, as common core tries to stay afloat in stormy waters, what principles are some states tossing overboard, and what can be salvaged? >> the states are nervous. anytime more kids don't meet the proficiency mark, it's very
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difficult for states. they have to tell people, are our kids getting dumber? why are our kids not performing well? >> sreenivasan: those are some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions 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.
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>> sreenivasan: this christmas brought all the traditional celebrations of the day, but along with them, new calls for an end to suffering. the most ardent of those appeals came from the vatican. the crowds who filled st. peter's square heard a holiday lament from pope francis. "there are so many tears this christmas," he said-- the ravages of ebola, fighting in the middle east and ukraine, and terror attacks, like the one that killed scores of students in pakistan. and, he decried the persecution of christians and others by islamic state militants. >> ( translated ): i ask him, the savior of the world, to look upon our brothers and sisters in iraq and syria, who for too long now have suffered the effects of ongoing conflict, and who, together with those belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, are suffering a brutal persecution. >> sreenivasan: but many of those beset by strife, including
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refugees in iraq, still found ways to celebrate. and health care workers in sierra leone brought what cheer they could to ebola patients, despite a government ban on public celebrations. meanwhile, christmas in cuba took on a new air of hope that renewed relations with the u.s. will change lives. >> ( translated ): it is a gift, it really is a gift. i hope everything works out in the best possible way because it would bring a lot of benefits to work in better conditions. >> sreenivasan: in london, queen elizabeth took up a similar theme with her own annual message to the world. >> even in the unlikeliest of places hope can still be found. a very happy christmas to you all. >> sreenivasan: it was a sentiment that echoed high into the heavens. >> hello! from the international space station. >> sreenivasan: where astronauts barry wilmore and terry virts shared season's greetings, a miniature floating christmas tree. and, this image of a celestial sunrise on christmas morning.
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back on earth, some of the more unusual traditions played out, as members of the berlin seals winter swimming club took their annual christmas day plunge into a freezing lake. christmas eve brought a second night of protests in berkeley, missouri. a night earlier, a black 18- year-old was shot dead by a police officer after he allegedly pulled a handgun. last night, demonstrators marched down interstate 170, blocking traffic. they also held a vigil and staged a die-in at the gas station where the shooting took place. police say they made a handful of arrests. the loss of a jordanian military pilot in syria prompted appeals from his government and family for his safe return today. he went down yesterday, in a region controlled by islamic state fighters. the u.s. military said his plane crashed and was not hit by enemy fire. we have a report from nelafur hedayat of independent television news. >> reporter: captured by islamic state, the first u.s.-led coalition soldier in the hands of the terrorist
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organization. 26-year-old mu'ath safi yousef al-kaseasbeh, a jordanian pilot, was captured by i.s. after his f-16 fighter jet crashed. initially, islamic state claimed responsibility for shooting the jet down, celebrating with a macabre victory parade through the street. none of this matters much to lt. mu'ath safi yousef al-kaseasbeh. islamic state are well known for brutal treatment and beheading of the captives. today his father youssef al-kasaebeh has added to the many voices pleading for mu'ath safi yousef al-kaseasbeh to be released unharmed. >> i sent a message to the brothers in syria to be generous toward my son. i asked god to fill their hearts with love and to return him home in safety. >> reporter: mu'ath safi yousef al-kaseasbeh has been a pilot for the jordanian air force six years.
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jordanian air force have joined other states forming the 40-strong coalition. >> continuing the fight against terrorism and we know that we will win because this is the right thing to do for the sake of our security and stability of this country. >> reporter: u.s.-led campaign against i.s. started back in september. this month, air strikes have been intensifying as the mission to degrade and destroy islamic state in iraq and syria continues. >> this is the first time a pilot coalition hs been captured. so far, there have been no public demands or conditions set for his release. islamist gunmen in somalia attacked the main base of african union peacekeepers today. the al-shabab militants struck in mogadishu, the capital city. an a.u. military spokesman said eight of the attackers were killed in the resulting gun battle. al-shabab controlled much of mogadishu for four years, until 2011, when the peacekeepers drove them out. and in indonesia today,
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thousands remembered a day of disaster. ten years ago tomorrow a catastrophic tsunami killed nearly some 230,000 people in 14 countries, most of them in indonesia. today, a church in banda aceh, a city that was all but wiped out by the giant wave, held a special christmas service. and, thousands flocked to a mosque that was one of the few buildings to survive. still to come on the newshour: inside the push to bring "the interview" to a theater, or computer, near you. a movement to prevent prospective employers from asking about convictions. how pope francis cultivated his populist appeal. religion, the other front in the ukraine-russia conflict. the backlash against common core, as states pick and choose what elements to keep. and, walking the fine line between enjoying our national treasures and abusing them.
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>> sreenivasan: less than a week ago, sony indicated that under pressure of threats, the moviegoing public was not going to be able to see the comedy, "the interview" at a theater today. but that decision hit quickly on a tripwire of criticisms about geopolitics, freedom of expression, terrorism and more. and in a quick reversal of fortune, the movie opened in more than 300 locations today, mostly at small, independent art house theaters. >> christmas day is usually a busy day for the movies, but this is unlike anything we've experience before. >> sreenivasan: even before the first screenings, the film was selling out at smaller theaters. co-star and co-director seth rogen made a surprise appearance at a midnight screening in los angeles. >> we thought this might never happen at all. >> sreenivasan: president obama, who was on vacation in hawaii and criticized sony's initial decision, wouldn't say if he would watch it, but he said, >> i'm glad it's being released. >> sreenivasan: the release of the comedy, about a c.i.a. plot
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to assassinate north korean leader kim jong un, was canceled last week after hackers threatened potential attacks at theaters. the president has said north korea is behind the hacking of sony. moviegoers were out early at washington, d.c.'s west end cinemas. including mohammed shouman. >> i decided to show my personal support for theaters that show it and my personal support for freedom of speech. >> sreenivasan: sarah arlinghaus admitted the rogen/franco style was not her usual movie fare. >> i wouldn't have seen it if the north koreans hadn't decided i shouldn't see it. i would like to sit near the exits just in case we have to evacuate quickly. >> sreenivasan: "the interview" is also available as video on demand. it can be seen on google play, youtube movies, and microsoft's xbox. still, before major exhibitors pulled out, the movie was originally scheduled to play in 3,000 theaters. arthouse convergence, a coalition of about 250 independent theaters, wrote an open letter to sony earlier this week offering to show the movie. i spoke to the group's director, russ collins, yesterday in ann arbor, michigan, where he also runs the state theater that's showing it today.
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russ collins, why did so many of the members of your organization, the independent theaters, decide to run this movie? >> there were two reasons. one, we initially reached out to the employees and the sony corporation, but their employees in particular, the folks who we have the interface with, just to express our empathy pore the difficulties that they've encountered the last month after their company was hacked and their e-mails went down and their telephone went down and all of the records went down, it's just been a very, very difficult time for sony employees. we wanted to express how we felt and that we wanted to support them and one of the ways we could support them is if sony decided to release the interview, we as independent theaters would be willing to screen that, or at least we thought we might. when the word got out among the art house convergence group that this might be a possibility or something that we could offer, they were enthusiastic in their
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response, and it just kind of took off from there. >> sreenivasan: no disrespect but a seth rogen movie and r. house convergence group don't usually go in the same sentence. this isn't usually the fare of independent movie house. >> that's true. independent movie houses are dedicated to diversity of program, documentaries, independent american films, classic films, but we're also strongly committed to freedom of speech and artistic expression dynamics. art houses do this on a regular basis. when this particular exhibition became a freedom of speech issue, it aligned with the values of independent theaters, making the offers work with our values and our capabilities and the diversity of the programs and facilities and locations that are out there in north america for independent cinema. >> sreenivasan: so one of the things people might be thinking about whether they're going to see this movie at one of your theaters or a different one, are
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there additional safety precautions you're taking into consideration? >> we're encouraging each theater to consult with local law enforcement officials, have the law enforcement officials work their channels to see if there is any concerns. in our particular case, the university of michigan has a korean studies program and we contacted them to get their input. so we are out there concerned and vigilant about seeking any unusual telemetry about unusual behavior. so far we haven't encountered any, at least in our particular market, but i'm sure theaters are going to do what they need to do to assure that their customers and their employees are safe at these screenings. >> sreenivasan: we've seen reports that some screenings of this movie are selling out. i look at some of the web sites like rotten tomatoes and so forth and it's not particularly because this movie is oscar-worthy to put it mildly, do you think it's because of the
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publicity in it that people are attracted to this? >> i think there is two reasons. one is when the initial release was planned, they looked to screen it at two to three to 4,000 screens. the way it's turning out, it's going to be 200 or 300 screens that are actually showing "the interview." obviously, all of the national press that's occurred and all of the issues about the film have resonated a particular interest in the notion of the film and the difficulties sony encounter. so i think there's a lot of curiosity. is curiosity will be satiated quickly and the film will have a long life based on how it's received by audiences. >> sreenivasan: do you see this as an opportunity for more people to reintroduce themselves to the independent or small theaters in their neighborhoods versus the big chains that usually run a movie like this? >> yes, independent theaters, art houses are out there all over the country.
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the objective of the art house convergence is to increase the quantity and quality of art houses. so, yes, this might be a nice introduction to customers who are more interested in going to seth rogen stoner comedy than those who tend to go to the art house fare. however, who knows. this would be the citizen cane of stoner comedies. >> sreenivasan: what about competition with streaming sites? i know youtube an and others are planning to make this available. is the competition shifting away from amc and regal versus art his to art house versus streaming? >> well, in the art house market, video on demand, day on date release streaming has occurred for a couple of years. we're used to that. we like theatrical clearance. if you have a monopoly, you tend
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to do better. but day in date release and diversity ability through online and cable access is normal. >> sreenivasan: thank you for your time. >> thank you, happy holidays. >> sreenivasan: now, a move to make it easier for people who have been convicted of a crime to find employment after being released from prison. several states and municipalities are preventing employers from asking about criminal convictions up front. the so-called "ban the box" movement would eliminate a check-box on initial job applications. brandis friedman from our affiliate wttw in chicago has this report. how do i know i can trust you? >> reporter: it is a question any employer might ask the students in this room. each has a felony conviction and has served time in prison and each of them wants to prove to a future employer that he or she
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can be trusted. 26-year-old karl lynch is one of the students receiving job readiness training from the safer foundation, a nonprofit that helps released prisoners transition back into society. >> the economy is always changing, jobs are always getting tougher. i feel like it will just prepare me to get ready to reenter into the workforce. >> reporter: lynch was released from illinois state prison in early july after serving two years for breaking into a car with someone inside. he said a new job will help make him the father he once was to his two children. >> i know i can't get the time back, but it's importance for me to be there and let them know dad's back. >> reporter: he's hoping to get a job in hospitality or customer service but it's been difficult and he thinks it's because of the box on applications which asks candidates if they've ever been convicted of a crime. >> it gives you anxiety when you
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get to the box, going, wow, how are they going to feel about this crime i committed. >> that has kept a lot of people out of the interview. with this question removed, that would really help you. >> reporter: illinois is the latest in a series of states and municipalities to pass a law prohibiting employers from asking applicants if they'd been convicted of a felony on initial job applications. phil is a labor and employment opportunity in chicago. >> essentially, it delays when a prospective employer can inquire about a candidate's criminal history until the employer has notified the employee that the employee will be granted an initial interview. >> reporter: while each law is slightly different, the goal for each is to get job applicants with convictions past the initial screening. >> hawaii says you have to have a conditional offer of employment. most laws have exceptions that
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vary from state to state as well. >> reporter: the illinois law which takes effects january 1, 2015, applies only to private employers with 15 or more employees. it provides exemptions in situations where state or federal law prohibits hiring applicants with certain convictions where the new hire would require a fidelity bond that eninsurance employees who work with money or where the new applicant would need to be licensed under the medical emergency assistance act. a bill like this has been in the long time in the making. >> employment is the biggest link to reduce recidivism. the first thing they want to do is get a job to show their worthiness and viability first of all to themselves and families. employment discrimination routinely denies that opportunity. >> reporter: safer foundations director policy advocacy anthony lawrey says governments are looking at the ways to cut expense of incarceration and communities are looking to turn
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former inmates into productive citizens. >> it is the biggest challenge of their lives. the criminal worker is the new civil rights issue. people denied employment no matter how mild or old the record is. >> reporter: the illinois department of corrections releases about 30,000 inmates a year and half return to chicago. of those 15,000, experts say 80% come to one of seven neighborhoods like this one, often unfortunately known for its culture of poverty and violence. when entire communities are filled with people who can't get jobs, the cycle of poverty keeps spinning. >> i see people recommit and commit crimes they've done in the past and think something different is going to happen, but it's not. that's why i don't want to go down that route again. i want to try to find work. >> reporter: under existing federal and state a whraws, employers aren't allowed to use a conviction as a pre-screening tool. advocates say it's not working.
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todd is the lead at the justice unit. >> screening is done in nearly every state and that's why the movement precipitated because people are frustrated. we're asking people who commit crimes and endure the time to get education to get extra training and get their lives back on track. when they do, there's no job opportunities because they're being denied outright. >> reporter: attorney jeffrey wish who chairs the illinois chamber of commerce employment council argues the "ban the box" aren't necessary. >> before "ban the box," there was title 7, before "ban the box," there was the illinois human rights act. there are a variety of federal laws that protect candidates from having employers use criminal convictions or arrest records as filters. those exist. they still exist. >> reporter: he says employers already following existing laws
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won't have a problem obeying yet another one, and employers will still be allowed to learn an applicant's criminal history, just not up front. >> how recent, what's the nature of the underlying offense, what facts can we gather, and what exactly, precisely is this person going to do for the employer? all that has to be taken into consideration. >> reporter: and that's exactly what advocates for people like karl lynch are hoping. >> it motivates me to see a person go out there and get a job. >> i'm going to feel like i've got a good chance every day. if i'm going to sit back and be sad and blue, that's not going to get me anywhere. >> reporter: in illinois, it could make a difference for 3 million people who have a criminal background. >> sreenivasan: now,change at the vatican. pope francis is ushering in a new era in rome. jeffrey brown has that.
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>> brown: this is the second time pope francis has delivered a christmas message to the world's catholics. almost two years ago in march of 2013, averagen tine cardinal jorge mario bergoglio became the first non-european pope since the year 741. he was a surprise choice and has captured the world's attention ever since. francis chose a simpler lifestyle residing in the guest house rather than apostolic palace, having a plain black sedan instead of should ever mercedes. he has taken more active role in diplomacy, visited turkey where thousands fled the forces of the islamic state. while there he reaffirmed the use of military force against i.s. now we've learned of his key part in shepherding negotiations led to an opening between the u.s. and cuba. in september of next year,
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francis will travel to philadelphia for an international meeting on the family and is expected to stop in new york city. a new biography begins to fill in more of the story of the man, the great reformer, francis in the making of a radical pope. it's author was austin ivory, british journalist, former advisor to a top english cardinal and co-founder of catholic voices, a lay group that works to improve the church's reputation in the media. and welcome to you. >> thank you. >> brown: when you go back to pope francis' childhood, his roots in argentina, what pictures do you see? >> i see a man of lower-middle-class italian immigrants who understands the pain and suffering of the poor and people who move the new country to the world. a man who's profoundly religious from an early age but not in a particularly pious way. >> brown: not expected he would go to the priesthood?
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>> his policies and intelligence were noticed since childhood. i think you see the future pastoral pope we have now. >> brown: the understanding of the poverty and the poor comes from -- >> from his family. he grew up, actually reasonably comfortably but they didn't throw their money around. they didn't take vacations, they recycled clothes. i think it's more from him. i understand from his childhood friends, he was always doing things for others and helping people and concerned. when he spoke about his future, he said, i don't want to be stuck in the cathedral. i want to be on w the people on the frontiery the poor are. th>> brown: the years in argentina in the jesuit order were horrible. did he do enough to stop the killings and disappearances going on in the so-called dirty war? >> it was an extremely tough time where there was a
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polarization in argentina as well as the jesuits. we have one to have the western hemisphere's largest guerilla forces which generally threatened the state and a ferocious dictatorship which then killed thousands of them to exterminate them and he takes over the jesuit order in a time of internal crisis and refocuses on the mission and the poor and he tries to detach them from ideologies, and that was his role during that time. >time. he stood a delicate line. he protected the jesuits from the dictatorship, the regime. on the other hand, protecting those the dictatorship was after. >> brown: you know how he looks back at those years at that time? does he feel that he did enough then? >> no. he's said so publicly. he's tortured by the fact that there were people who came to
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him for help whom he couldn't help. but he sheltered dozens of poem and got dozens of people out of the country. people lived through that time realized later what happened. >> brown: the book is called "the great reformer." what does that mean? a reformer in what sense? >> it's quite a provocative title for people in the church. reform in the church history has made a schism. but another kind of reform goes wack to testimony sov the great medieval popes who wanted to return the church to the former mission. to reduce dependency on wealth and power, depending on jesus christ and the holy spirit, focusing on the poor. i see him in that tradition and that's why i say he's a great reformer. and i show in the book, in every position he's been in the church, he's actually done that. he's reformed.
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>> brown: it does not mean, though, overhauling church teachings, does it? there was much attention when he spoke out about, for example, saying the church seems t to put too much attention on homosexuality or abortion. >> it was understood by some as weakens or diluting church doctrine. she's saying there is another part of church teaching which is god wants the heal you, save you, the church is a mother as well as a deeper. that's what he thinks has gotten lost in perhaps the effort of the church in the last few years to have a kind of clarity of doctrine. he's not changing church teaching, he's showing it in its fullness. >> brown: some of what he has done as stirred controversy within the church. >> the opposition to francis is really, and it came to the fore in october when he came together with the world's bishops to consider difficult questions. some of them disliked even that and the way the media was
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interpreting it. i reckon it's 20 or 30 out of 90 or 100. we're not talking a majority, but nonetheless a group of people who i think are uncomfortable who want a certain kind of clarity they think francis is threatening. i think he exposes people's ideology rather than the gospel. >> brown: where kyung his biggest impact will be? >> two achievements, the first the reform for which he was elected, clean up of the vatican, finances, that kind of thing. i think it is a very important thing. and in the book i kind of break the story of the remarkable breakthrough happening between catholics and evangelicals, particularly important here in the u.s., most protestant christians are now evangelicals. the catholic church hasn't had much relationship with them. he is very much a charismatic catholic who knows evangelicals as well as i think there will be
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an important declaration in the coming years between catholics and evangelicals which will meant the rivalry between them. >> brown: "the great reformer" austin ivory. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: we turn again now to a country which has dominated headlines for much of the last year-- ukraine. while much has been reported about the overthrow of its former leader, new government, the annexation of crimea, and russian incursions into the country, tonight, special correspondent kira kay brings us a story on the less known battle that's happening in the former soviet republic, over religion. the story was produced in partnership with the bureau for international reporting. >> reporter: in the western ukrainian village of butyn sits a picturesque blue church. it has survived two world wars and the communist and atheist soviet union. now in 2014, with its nation
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gripped in war, st. nicholas has become another battlefront in the conflict: one of beliefs and even political influence. it used to belong to the ukrainian orthodox church of the moscow patriarchate, the country's largest denomination, with a direct link to russia's own politically influential orthodox church. but villagers in butyn say it all began to unravel when their priest refused to pray for the protesters who were calling for the overthrow of a pro-russian president in kiev's city center a year ago. >> ( translated ): that was my child there. they were students and children of other parents that were residents of our village. that was the last straw! >> reporter: svetlana evgenievna and her neighbors felt they had to remove their priest. >> ( translated ): there was a gathering of the village, there were shouts and quarrels, and we weren't sure what to do. one man proposed a referendum: how many for and how many against. >> reporter: villagers voted to
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switch allegiance to the smaller, unofficial but overtly pro-ukrainian church, called the kyiv patriarchate. in october, a new priest arrived and pro-kyiv parishioners, backed by ultra-nationalist activists, took over the grounds. and the village of butyn isn't alone. more than 30 other ukrainian communities have removed priests belonging to the moscow patriarchate. the process has sometimes been chaotic, even violent. in butyn, moscow patriarchate loyalists, like tamara kaznovetska and olga tsimbaluk, were locked out. >> ( translated ): someone told me "you are a bandit, you are a separatist, you pray in the language of the aggressor." i was just going to church; i pray to god, i don't pray to putin! we are not against ukraine. we are simply christians who cannot leave our 1,000-year-old faith. >> reporter: the kyiv patriarchate was started in 1992
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by a breakaway priest named filaret, who felt ukrainians deserved a church separate from russia. last year it grabbed the political moment and not only joined protestors, but protected them. 18-year-old protester irina kocubinskaya was hurt in an attack by riot police and found refuge with others at a monastery run by the church. >> ( translated ): the church played not just an actual but also a symbolic role. people remarked that we were hiding here just like they did from barbarians 1,000 years ago. that the priests here opened the doors i think is important, because the moscow patriarchate would hardly do the same. >> reporter: the simmering perception that the moscow patriarchate is on the wrong side of history in ukraine was too much for some priests, like father vitaly eismonth. >> ( translated ): i was anxious. i thought the church would speak, but the church was silent. and when russian forces intruded in the east, the church i was serving for 23 years, and was
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defending all this time, turned its back on its people. i couldn't defend it any more. >> reporter: eismonth defected to the kyiv patriarchate and joined a church 100 miles from home, subordinate to much younger priests. he says the sacrifice it worth it. >> ( translated ): people are awakening, and i think it's only the beginning. and of course it's alarming for the priests because their influence is not the one they thought they had. >> reporter: kyiv patriarch filaret openly supports ukraine's political changes, and doesn't pull any punches when talking about his rival church. >> ( translated ): in the moscow patriarchate, there are priests and bishops that are openly supporting putin and are calling our government a junta. and when people hear that, they want to leave. >> reporter: bishop kliment is the spokesman for the moscow patriarchate. >> ( translated ): this slander and informational filth has become a real propaganda war against our church, that has escalated to the point where it destabilizes ukraine. >> reporter: kliment says that
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although his church is affiliated with russia, it makes its own decisions. >> ( translated ): we have both a political and military conflict in ukraine and some religious groups are using this to play some kind of card. factually what is happening is a raider seizure. they are unconstitutionally taking away the rights of people. they are the opening a second front inside of ukraine. >> ( translated ): the moscow patriarchate reacts as if we are invading its churches. we are not invading, we are accepting parishes that want to switch. >> reporter: one of the more contentious turnovers, which bishop kliment complained about to the ukrainian parliament, was in the village of khodosy. >> ( translated ): putin stop! no go to ukraine! >> reporter: there was a vote here too, but the moscow patriarchate priest and his followers barricaded themselves inside, using a fire extinguisher to ward off the crowds that had gathered. several people were injured, and
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local officials, like ruslan siviy, say they are not equipped to handle such chaos. >> ( translated ): by law, the government shouldn't intervene into religious affairs. but unfortunately we can't stay out of this, since the tensions are physical. government officials locally and in kiev should create mechanisms to satisfy the people, so that it will be easier for us to manage. >> reporter: ukraine's church crisis is now drawing strong language from moscow, the kremlin labeling it a human rights violation and president putin himself deriding activists for their silence on the seizures, that he calls a tragedy. back in butyn, parishioners don't see it that way and are embracing their new church. >> ( translated ): today we are hearing a prayer for our dear ukraine. we are a hearing prayer for our kids that died. we are hearing a prayer for those who are fighting for our freedom. that's why i am enormously happy. >> reporter: meanwhile, holdouts tamara and olga are journeying to a moscow patriarchate church
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in a nearby town, that has welcomed them and also their priest. it can be seen across the valley from the little blue church of st. nicolas, one more division in a nation at war. this is kira kay in western ukraine. >> sreenivasan: public schools across the country are transitioning to the common core, a set of new academic standards in math and language arts. but increasingly, protests to them have gotten louder this year, and some states are even rethinking their decisions. with a little help from hollywood, special correspondent john tulenko of learning matters helps break down where things stand at year's end. ♪ >> reporter: 1950s hollywood
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drama tells a story of a life bet of survivors of a ship wreck. too full, turns out >> can't save all your lives. there are too many people in this boat! >> reporter: to keep the crowded lifeboat from sinking, some have to get tossed overboard >> i have to let you go not me! let me stay! >> reporter: the dilemma of the old film, who stays on board, who gets thrown over, that's a great way to think about the common core these days. it was launched in 2008, a lifeboat full of big ideas to save public schools. but out on open seas, it's had to toss aside key parts of the plan just to stay afloat and the water is getting rougher. >> no more common core! >> reporter: according to a recent surveys, 60% of americans don't want teachers to follow the common core. >> then i look at the problems and it's like bill has three goldfish, he buys two more, how many dogs live in london?
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>> reporter: to help us navigate these troubled waters, we've turned to three experts. neil of the conservative cato institute. >> clearly, the public opinion of the common core has moved against it, especially if you use the term common core. >> reporter: chris, who made the council of chief state school officers, the group who helped write common core. >> given the amount of attention on the negative side, it is amazing to me we're at a place where we still have all of the states being willing to work together. i think it's a sign of strengthening of standards. >> reporter: and katherine of education week who has been following the journey from the start. >> there's different stripes of criticism and much of it has been not about the content but how the standards came about. >> reporter: common core state standards were created to raise the bar for everyone, developed by the state's governors and others, not the feds, and the expectation was that states
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would adopt them voluntarily. that idea was the first to go when states were slow to sign on. >> we've got the act now. >> reporter: in 2009, washington grabbed the helm through what it called the race to the top. states that agreed to a list of reforms including high standards could win a share of 4.3 billion in federal education funds. this at the height of the great recession. >> first, let's start with the big picture. >> reporter: 45 states signed on to common core. >> and the backlash came because suddenly in 2011 and 2012, districts get confronted with these new standards and they say, what are these? where did they come from? i'm looking at the math, it doesn't make sense. how come i'm hearing good literature is being thrown out? so we moved to a system of national standards without ever having had a meaningful, national debate about doing
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that. >> reporter: and then when the standards reach schools, the boat was rocked by the sudden challenge of getting teachers equipped and ready. >> there's an incredible look and i've seen some of it but in a lot of places we've seen it shown up in the polls. teachers are not getting what they need at all. >> reporter: including books and curriculum aligned with the common core, why large number of public schools and teachers have jumped ship. >> 41% of teachers in favor, 44o supposed. so depending on which states you're in, there are states who have great implementation stories where teachers are polling much higher than those you mentioned earlier, an in the places where it's not, we need to make sure we take that and solve the problems. quite frankly, this is going well across the country right now. >> reporter: but there is one thing teachers almost unanimously oppose. >> where we've seen a big change in opposition to common core is not to the standards themselves,
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it's to the testing and accountability that's connected to it. >> and the tests are in the spring and a lot of teachers feel like we're barely getting our curriculum and tests. >> you will value teachers based on it, reward teachers, value schools based on it, so a lot of teachers and especially state-level you knowous have said we don't like the common core because of all the ramifications attached to it. >> reporter: sharp criticism from teachers forced u.s. secretary of education arne duncan, arguably, the ship's captain, to alter course. >> we think many states want to take the precious off teachers who are working extraordinarily hard this year. >> reporter: the secretary belatedly offered states one-year reprieve from using common core test scores to evaluate teachers. even states are backing away. of the 45 who started, 14 have thrown common core tests overboard in favor of developing their own.
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>> many cited the costs of the test. the ultimate goal is to have them being online. that's expensive. you have to have the band width, the computers. a lot are concerned what happens when something goes wrong on test day. the other thing is possible they dropped out of the test because they know if you leave the test you're essentially leaving common core, and if you control your own test, you can set your own proficiency scores again. >> that's makes them nervous. anytime more kids don't meet the proficiency mark, it's a political very difficult position for states. they have to tell people are our kids getting dumber? why are our kids not performing well? are we raising expectations? but it's harder, tough politically. >> reporter: there's within reason the many states have helped common core stay afloat in treacherously political waters. >> common in, darling! >> reporter: 25 have dropped the name.
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>> ever heard of the next generation content standards and objectives? >> no, but i'm not surprised that someone came up with that name. >> reporter: is this rebranding? >> sure, it is. states recognize that this is tricky stuff. so, yes, some states have renamed, some have rewritten. some have bailed. >> reporter: of the 45 states and the district of columbia that originally signed on, north carolina, tennessee, missouri and georgia are rewriting common core standards. indiana and oklahoma have opted out, with south carolina to follow next year. but that still leaves 38 states more or less on course. >> this is to be expected because as you raise the expectations on any system, there will be pain points. but i think we've weathered the storm. >> we're alive. >> reporter: the boat hasn't landed safely yet and this spring's common core tests could
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produce another storm. john tulenko in new york, reporting for the "newshour". >> sreenivasan: now, a second look at land disputes in the american west. jeffrey brown has the story of a split over how to enjoy and experience natural beauty. stretch a high-tech nylon line some 400 feet above a canyon near mo ab, utah. >> it's tight. >> brown: strap on a harness. going barefoot on a line in between the two. >> brown: and step out into the air. it's called high lining, in the on public lands, a perfectly legal activity that most of us including your correspondent who stayed far back from cliff's edge would never dream of undertaking. >> i'm always a little nervous no matter how many i do.
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>> brown: but haley and he do this several times a week. >> you are forced to focus. i'm thinking about the anchor at the other side, how bad i want to get there, how long it's been since i took my last step, when i'll take the next and what my foot feels like on the line. >> it's a rush of overwhelming happiness because you have done something you were terrified and overcame that fear and then all of a sudden you're proud of yourself, you know, you feel empowered, like you can do anything, really. >> reporter>> brown: in high liy walkers are tethered to the line. as this video of scott rogers shows, that's not the case in other sports like base jumping in which jumpers launch themselves off stationary objects like cliffs and pull a parachute at the key moment. timing is everything. the room for error very small.
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rogers and ashburn know people who have died when the wind blew them back into the cliff or their parachute was opened too late. but that doesn't stop them and certainly doesn't stop them from capturing their exploits on video and posting them online. >> i love spreading the joy because i feel like we know the secret about life, about when you do things that are scary and you overcome your fears, not only is it the most fun you will ever have, but it's so empowering and changes the whole rest of your life. doing what we're doing, making media is our goal for sure. >> it's taking something that's part of our life and then showing it to the world and saying, hey, look, you can have fun doing things you didn't even realized existed. >> brown: there's another way of looking at and being a part of the extraordinary landscape, one that's quieter, calmer, and sees the beauty, drama and extremes in the land itself. the red rock walls, towering
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spires, winder rivers, plunging canyons. in this way of experiencing the wilderness, the long walk, the light footprint, the contemplation of man's small part in the universe take precedence. >> the question is what sort of land protection do you want and what sort of ethic do you want to evolve with the younger generation. part of what the struggle is now is for quiet users to have the space they need. >> brown: colorado historian and nature writer andrew gul gullford says cultural shifts in how people view the outdoors raised important new questions. >> we have a long tradition of public land use in the american west. the new kinds of outdoor activities, though, the extreme sports activities, there's not a lot of nature involved, so today's generation is treating the outdoors as a dirty gym, and that's not what was thought about 50 years ago with the 1964
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wilderness act, with the wild and scenic rivers act. so those conservation laws were about preserving nature for nature's sake, and we've got a new generation of extreme sports enthusiasts who simply want to go out, use the outdoors, photograph themselves with, you know, special little cameras, and hit the blue pod by dark and talk about their exploits. ♪ >> brown: there's been much talk about this particular exploit, the rope swing at corona arch, an iconic landmark just outside moab. a you tube video put out in 2012 has more than 20 million views online. it also got the attention of the federal bureau of land management which recently has taken over the arch from the state of utah in a land swap and
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which administers so much of this state and other parts of the west. >> and it's created over time. >> brown: megan crandall is a b.l.m. spokeswoman. we learn about this on videos, how do you learn about it? >> the same way you do. >> brown: what's your reaction? >> holy cow. that's incredible. >> brown: what happens? you have to figure out how to manage this. >> right. certainly we have a responsibility to manage for some of these new uses. as we've seen with these activities, it's a fire storm. it took off, gained in popularity and we saw the usage surge. >> brown: the surge included one death and one serious injury by rope swingers who misjudged how long their ropes needed to be. randal says blm policy is people use public lands at their own risk but the agency looks at a variety of factors including damage to the rock and the impact on those who want to experience the arch the
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old-fashioned way. ♪ and while they study the impacts, federal officials proposed a ban on rope activities at corona. >> we are putting out for public comment a suggestion that we institute a temporary two-year restriction on roped activities to give us the time and space we need to evaluate if continuing to allow the activities here is the most appropriate use of the area. >> brown: the moab monkeys, of course, say they love the land, too, and are happy to share it. >> seems like a long flight. >> brown: but haley ashburn says there are plenty of places for those who complain about the extreme sports. >> they can go to any national park, i call those no fun allowed zones. >> brown: national parks? yes, nice and quiet, nobody's going to be base jumping, nobody going to be screaming and yelling and having a really amazing time. >> it's something we need to explore. >> brown: the b.l.m.'s megan
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crandall suggests that argument works both ways, that there's as plenty of room for roped activities if the ban is mutt in at corona arch. >> there are other places where you can engage in the activities, but at least for us, we want to take the time to really think about whether it's appropriate for those to continue here. >> brown: the b.l.m. is taking public comments on tissue through the end of the month. >> sreenivasan: the bureau of land management is expected to issue a decision regarding the temporary closure of corona arch in early january. >> sreenivasan: and finally we leave you with a story about giving back. connor morgan, a high school senior at judge memorial catholic high school in salt lake city donates his time by serving those who have served. >> i decided that i wanted to volunteer at the v.a. because when i'm older i want to be a doctor, and also i really love military history. so volunteering at the v.a. kind of combined my two great
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interests, and i also just wanted to give back to my community. i work in the transport office at this v.a. hospital and that entails taking patients to various appointments throughout the hospital. they're on wheelchairs, gurneys, or beds and i also pick up and deliver lab specimens to the blood lab. >> just flow with the traffic. >> i mean, unless you're in a rush. >> nah. >> alright. i really enjoy helping here are the v.a. i mean, as we all know, veterans have done so much for us and most people i don't think truly believe that or appreciate that, so i wanted to do something to help them back. so that's why i volunteer here. >> sreenivasan: to see more stories from our giving back series, produced by schools in our student reporting labs network, please visit pbs.org/newshour. >> sreenivasan: again, the major developments of the day. this christmas day brought all
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the traditional celebrations, and a lament from pope francis for victims of ebola, terror and wars. he told a throng in st. peter's square, "there are so many tears this christmas." the father of a jordanian military pilot, downed in syria, appealed to islamic state fighters not to harm his son. there was no response from the group. and hundreds of independent theaters began showing "the interview", a comedy about a plot to kill north korea's leader. sony pictures initially canceled its release after threats from a hackers group. on the newshour online right now, we look back 100 years, to a unique moment of joy and peace in the midst of world war i, a legendary game of soccer between british and german troops during a christmas cease- fire. see photos of soldiers playing during breaks from war. all that and more is on our web site, pbs.org/newshour. and again, to our honor roll of american service personnel
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killed in the afghanistan conflict. we add them as their deaths are made official and photographs become available. here, in silence, are three more. >> sreenivasan: and that's the newshour for tonight. on friday, we'll look at how young people get their news. plus we'll have the analysis of mark shields and michael gerson. i'm hari sreenivasan. we'll see you on-line, and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and we hope you had a wonderful and peaceful christmas. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions
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>> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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this is "nightly business report" with tyler mathisen and susie gharib. funded in part by -- thestreet.com and action alerts plus where jim cramer an portfolio manager stephanie li share their investment strategies, stock pi market insights. you can learn more at thestreet.com/nbr. welcome to this special holiday of "nightly business report." this is tyler mathisen, susie gharib has the night off. major closing highs for the indexes and lows like plummeting crude oil prices. that wasn't all that happened this year in the world of business. the economy and the job market hit a number of milestones as well. the health care sector dominated deal making, recalls royaled

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