From high mortgage rates to shortages that have spread coast to coast, New York Times reporter Emily Badger explains the roots -- and consequences of our country's broken housing system.
A Liberian man in Texas is the first to be diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil. Health officials assess up to one hundred people that may have been put at risk. And a cameraman working for NBC news in Liberia tests positive for the virus. Secret service director Julia Pierson resigns, following a grilling on Capitol Hill and emerging details about security breaches on her watch. California passes a law allowing family members to request guns be seized from a relative they fear is dangerous. And the U.S. economy added 248,000 jobs in September, dropping the unemployment number to a six year low of 5.9 percent.
- John Prideaux Washington correspondent, The Economist.
- Sheryl Gay Stolberg Washington correspondent, The New York Times.
- Alexander Burns Senior political reporter, Politico.
Watch The Full Broadcast
MS. DIANE REHMAnd thanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. The first Ebola case is diagnosed in the U.S. in Texas and an NBC cameraman tested positive for the disease in Liberia. Secret Service director, Julia Pierson, resigns. An interim director is named. And the U.S. economy adds nearly 250,000 jobs in September. Here for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup, Alex Burns of Politico, Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times and John Prideaux of The Economist.
MS. DIANE REHMAnd since it's Friday, you can watch a live video steam of the program. Go to drshow.org and click on Watch Live. You can also join us by phone, 800-433-8850. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And thank you all for being here.
MR. ALEX BURNSThanks, Diane.
MS. SHERYL GAY STOLBERGGood morning.
MR. JOHN PRIDEAUXThanks.
REHMGood to see you all. First, let's start with Ebola. We're doing a full hour on Ebola on Monday, but what do we know about the young man, Thomas Eric Duncan who was questioned before he got on the plane coming from Liberia to the U.S.? What happened there, Sheryl?
STOLBERGSo we know that in Liberia, he had been exposed to a young woman who he had helped take to the hospital. He, then, got on a plane to come to the United States to visit relatives, passed a -- did not disclose on his form that he had been exposed to the Ebola virus, got on this plane, came through Dulles Airport in Washington, showed no symptoms while he was on the plane so the CDC says there is no risk of transmission to any of the other passengers.
STOLBERGAnd we do know that Ebola is not spread through the air. It's spread through contact with body fluid. So he goes through Dulles Airport in Washington, lands in Dallas, moves in with relatives in Dallas and proceeds to become sick. He went to a hospital there. He told a nurse he had been in West Africa. The nurse didn't transmit the information to the medical team. He was turned away with antibiotics.
STOLBERGWent back to this apartment and was very, very ill and the people who were in the apartment, his relatives, could see this and were very concerned, took him to the hospital. He's been admitted. Those relatives, four of them, are now being quarantined in Dallas. He is said to have come into contact with a hundred people in Texas, including some school children. Of those, about 12 or 13 were close contacts. The CDC now has a team on the ground in Dallas trying to do contact tracing to find everybody he's come into contact with to contain the spread of this virus.
REHMAlex Burns, it would seem that this young man, apparently, vomited outside his apartment building. I wonder what kind of risk that would pose to anyone in the area.
BURNSWell, vomited outside his apartment building was reportedly sweating profusely in the bed that he was sharing with the woman he was staying with there. As Sheryl mentioned, when you're not actually showing symptoms, it's fairly difficult to transmit the virus. But once you do begin to show symptoms, when there's, you know, vomit on a sidewalk, you don't necessarily think -- you think that's disgusting. You don't necessarily think it's potentially lethal.
BURNSI think the sort of surreal element to this is that there are apparently no more serious safeguards on people's travel back and forth than just a form at the airport. You know, I'm one of those people who obsesses over, you know, the itemized value of all the souvenirs I'm bringing back...
REHMOf course, of course.
BURNS...into the country, right, and whether I'm really being responsible. The idea that he checked -- dishonestly checked the wrong box on a form and the next thing you know, Ebola is in Dallas, I think, to a lot of people, that's just a surreal thing to hear.
REHMAnd now, the four people in that apartment are being held there, asked not to leave.
PRIDEAUXThat's right, Diane. They're in isolation. And, obviously, this is something everybody's worried about. It's such a horrible disease. People have seen it spread so fast in West Africa. But I think it's important to remember that at the moment, it's one man with Ebola. The staff in the hospital and the CDC are confident they can prevent this from spreading everywhere else and, you know, one person has in America, 7,000 people have had it in West Africa.
PRIDEAUXSo while it's very scary, we shouldn't get too carried away with it yet.
REHMSheryl, tell us about the NBC cameraman.
STOLBERGSo this is another report of a 33-year-old American NBC cameraman who was working in Liberia as a freelance journalist for NBC and is said to have contracted Ebola there. NBC is quarantining its medical reporting team, including Dr. Nancy Snyderman, its lead medical correspondent. The young man is going to be flown back to the United States. I believe NBC said it would charter a private jet to take him back.
STOLBERGHis family has said they don't think he can get here before Sunday. Obviously, they're very concerned and, you know, he will be, presumably, taken to a hospital that has appropriate care for an Ebola patient.
REHMWhat about Nancy Snyderman herself?
STOLBERGWell, you know, I'm sure she's concerned, but as we have said previously, unless you're, you know, coming into contact with body fluids, vomit, diarrhea, saliva, semen..
REHMWhich, I'm sure she's taken absolute care now to do.
STOLBERGI'm sure she has. So we shouldn't, you know, this is not like the flu that spreads through droplets, but nonetheless, I do think there is cause for concern. And one thing I'm especially concerned about is the response we're seeing in Dallas. For instance, these sheets and towels that this man, Mr. Duncan, was using are still in that apartment there. Dallas officials have said they are having trouble getting companies to come in and just do the cleanup.
STOLBERGWe saw a bungling at the hospital where this man showed up sick -- I was impressed, frankly, with his own relatives. His nephew called the CDC alarmed and said, we think our uncle has Ebola and he's not getting proper treatment. So that's just one case. If this were to multiply, how many cases can we withstand where people are calling the CDC and not -- yeah.
REHMAnd there's no record of his having called the CDC.
STOLBERGThat's correct. That's correct, so.
REHMSo the other element here is that at least the Dallas hospital said that there was some flaw in the electronic records.
STOLBERGRight. And they're going to correct it.
REHMAnd how they had been transmitted to the doctor. Well, as I said, we're going to do a full hour on this on Monday so perhaps we'll know a little more by then. The one question I have, John Prideaux, is do you expect that there will be some kind of travel ban imposed from Liberia?
PRIDEAUXI think it's possible, but I think it's harder than people suggest. I mean, you could ban direct flights from Monrovia to Dulles, but actually the man in question flew to Brussels first before he flew into America. And so that kind of direct travel ban would not, in fact, have affected him, I think. And so it's harder than...
REHMSo he flew from Liberia to Brussels to Dulles to Dallas.
PRIDEAUXThat's exactly right. So unless you stop all flights out of Liberia, in which case you'd, I'm sure, be, you know, trapping various American citizens in a country and prevent them from getting out, which would be difficult as well, there's not a straight forward way to do this, is my view.
STOLBERGAnd the CDC director has actually cautioned against that and said that if you ban travel or tried to stop flights, that it would perhaps further spread the virus in countries where it's endemic and that would, in the end, put all of the rest of us even more at risk.
BURNSWell, and now you also have American military personnel over there. You have humanitarian personnel. And as we just discussed, you have reporters so you wonder, you know, given the precautions that everyone is being asked to take, I think people would probably prefer to see additional screening at airports, certainly. But who would be the people, you know, would you do more to contain the spread of the virus or to inconvenience the people who are actually trying to get this thing under control.
REHMYou've also got school children who have, apparently, been in contact with Mr. Duncan so not only are they staying home, but other children in that same school have been withdrawn by their parents.
PRIDEAUXThat school's had a thorough cleanup as well. I mean, I think we're in a -- because of the amount of time it takes Ebola to go to sort of -- to show itself, we're in this kind of nervous waiting period where everyone's waiting to see, you know, will it spread from this one man. Hopefully, it won't and, you know, in a few weeks' time we'll say, what was all the fuss about.
STOLBERGAlso, Diane, not to turn the attention away from public health to politics, but this is D.C. and we're already seeing the first hints of Republicans blaming President Obama. Thom Tillis, the Senate candidate in North Carolina saying we should ban all flights. Ted Cruz saying yesterday that the Obama administration has been inconsistent and how it's monitoring people coming into the country and calling for a tougher FAA rules on this.
STOLBERGAnd I wouldn't be surprised if we see this Ebola story somehow creep into our midterm election discussion.
PRIDEAUXI was in Arkansas recently, Sheryl, and there Mark Pryor, who's the Democratic incumbent, has been running adverts pointing out that Tom Cotton, his challenger, voted once, though he later changed his vote, against a bill for sort of pandemic preparedness and saying, you know, here's the Tea Party shooting down Ebola preparations. So I think you're right and I think it's already happening.
REHMWell, and the Congress as a whole cutting back on money for the WHO.
BURNSWell, and for the CDC in particular which has lost more than half a billion dollars in funding since 2010 so you're hearing this argument from sides. I think when that Pryor ad about Ebola came out earlier in the summer, some people thought it was really outlandish, that is Ebola really going to be relevant in this election. And look, I don't know that people -- there are gonna be that many people voting just on the Ebola issue, but, you know, the CDC is sort of an interesting example of a place where I think people generally do trust the government and do want to trust the government, right?
BURNSAnd this is -- most of the arguments that you have about the size and power of government, the scale of government spending, they don't happen in the context of, my goodness, there's a potential pandemic on our hands.
REHMAlex Burns of Politico. Short break here and when we come back, we'll talk about Secret Service and its handling of security.
REHMAnd welcome back to the domestic hour of our Friday News Roundup. And you know you can watch this hour of the Friday News Roundup by going to drshow.org and clicking on watch live. Here in the studio, Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times, Alex Burns of Politico and John Prideaux of The Economist. And John Prideaux, your take on the Secret Service, Julia Pierson who resigned this week. Was this really expected given all the security breaches?
PRIDEAUXI think she had to go after this latest security breach which, as you recall, a man managed to jump over the fence outside the White House which makes it sound like a small fence. It's not. It's a very big fence. And he had a knife and he managed to get all the way to the East Room at the White House before he was intercepted.
REHMAnd to the Greenroom.
PRIDEAUXThat's exactly right. And it turns out that over the past five years about 16 people have, in fact, got through the fence. One of them was accidental. Apparently a toddler somehow managed to squeeze through the bars. I'm not surprised that she went after this. And the story was followed up with a scoop from the Washington Post about how the Secret Service had also allowed a man who was a security guard to travel in a lift with the president. And this man was armed and he had a criminal record. I think that, in a sense, looked even kind of worse than this slip up.
REHMAnd hooking into our last story on the CDC, it was at the headquarters of the CDC that the president happened to be on an elevator with a person who had had a criminal record and who also had a gun. And Secret Service began getting very upset when the man used his cell phone to film the president but -- and refused to stop. There was an interesting piece this morning in the New York Times, Sheryl, about how African Americans in this country fear that this African American president is not being watched over carefully.
STOLBERGYes. I thought that was a fascinating piece by my colleague Peter Baker talking about how some of the outrage among Democrats in congress, especially black Democrats, reflects what they are hearing from their constituents about fears for President Obama's life. And a wonder among the constituents about whether or not the Secret Service is perhaps purposely not being as diligent with this president, our first African American president as they could be.
STOLBERGNow congressmen have said, you know, absolutely not. They do not believe race is at work here but this really plays into, I think, an ongoing theme of President Obama's presidency and really of all black politicians in this country. You remember when Colin Powell was thinking of running for president and his wife didn't want him to because she worried about the dangers.
STOLBERGWhen President Obama ran for office, he was -- he got Secret Service protection earlier than any other presidential candidate because of threats. When he became president, the Secret Service reported an alarming surge in threats against him, although they've never detailed exactly how many. And so there has been this concern for his safety. And many black people, and especially many older black people who remember the assassination of Martin Luther King, feel -- they are worried about him and...
REHMAlex Burns, what about the replacement to Julia Pierson?
BURNSWell, you have this man Joseph Clancy who is the head of the presidential protective detail both under this president and under the previous president. As soon as his name was announced you had folks like David Axelrod, advisors to George W. Bush saying he's the perfect man for the job. He had left the service and was working as the head of security at Comcast actually. So I think a lot of people view him as kind of a steady hand in a tough situation.
BURNSI do think that some of the issues that have been revealed here clearly go well beyond who the director is, that when Julia Pierson was brought in to begin with, it was a reaction against the notion of a sort of culture of laxity at the Secret Service, that there was this incident in Colombia with prostitution and Europe with real excessive inebriation on the job.
BURNSI think what we've seen here, you know, this story from Atlanta, the federal contractor with the criminal record who was allowed armed into the president's presence, that's an issue not just about screening who gets to be close to the president. That's who gets to be a federal contractor. That's who gets to be armed in any situation.
REHMYou bet. You bet.
BURNSAnd these are -- you know, I think one of the challenging things here, and we've seen it a number of times this summer with the Department of Veterans Affairs as well, the resignation of the secretary there, where the media or somebody unearths what is clearly a systemic bureaucratic or cultural problem. And the result we get is you fire the person at the top and then we all kind of move on.
REHMSo the question will be, what kinds of changes would you expect to see, John Prideaux?
PRIDEAUXWell, one that I don't expect to see, but which I think would be sensible would be to change the way the president is protected when he's moving around. It's very striking when you observe the way other countries' equivalence of the Secret Service protect their head of state. They often, when they're moving around, do it quite quietly. They move in a couple of cars, they move fast. They're in and out before you know it.
PRIDEAUXWhen the president moves around, his presence is announced by the closing off of streets, by huge motorcades, you know, hundreds of -- not hundreds but many motorbike outriders and then this kind of enormous train of cars. It almost seems more like an advertisement for the power of the president than it is about trying to keep him safe. And I'm not sure that that is a particularly sensible thing.
REHMAnd it drives motorists crazy.
PRIDEAUXIt does that too.
REHMI mean, it just locks up traffic wherever you go. I think you have a good point there but the question is, given the kind of security that the president, any president needs at this point, especially after the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. Is that required?
STOLBERGIs a small presence footprint required? I don't know. I think you would have to balance that against the president's needs. I'm someone who's covered two presidents. I know that they travel with a lot of aids, with a big medical staff and ambulance, the press. You would have a big uproar frankly among the press if they cut the press out of traveling with the president. But one thing that I'm really struck by in this is this sort of idea of the cover up being worse than the crime. And I think that's something that we ought to also explore.
STOLBERGYou know, the Secret Service covered things up, right. They didn't immediately reveal that this intruder had a knife. They didn't immediately reveal that he got all the way into the East Room. This elevator story, the president heard about this...
STOLBERG...moments before it was reported in the press. So that was Julia Pierson's undoing. And that is also, I think, kind of the shocking thing, the thing that shocks very many people. The other thing that worries me is that just these disclosures of ineptitude by the Secret Service somehow further expose the president because the Secret Service has had an image of invulnerability. It seems to be, you know, a group that you wouldn't mess with. And so having the perception out there that the Secret Service is operating like the keystone cops is really not good for the security of the president.
BURNSI think that's dead on. And I do think it's important to emphasize it is the perception that they're operating as keystone cops, right. These are a number of troubling incidents over several years. You know, viewed in one angle we've been at war and facing a sort of sustained campaign of global terrorism for over a decade. We've elected our first black president and nobody has actually gotten close to genuinely physically harming the president or a member of the first family. That's an accomplishment.
BURNSBut I think, as Sheryl says, it's about to get tougher because people are going to see this as sort of an invitation to give it their best attempt, so to speak. And, you know, I think a lot of people thought it was alarmist when after this fence-jumping incident happened that you had some members of congress or commentators saying, well, what if six people jumped the fence? What if they were armed? Well, what if they were?
REHMAnd what if they were loaded with self-explosives? I mean, that's the...
STOLBERGYeah, or just the idea that somebody got into an elevator with the president.
STOLBERGI mean, I can tell you, you know, when reporters travel with the president, we are screened. Our bags are, you know, -- you know, there are bomb-sniffing dogs and we don't get anywhere near an elevator with the president. So the idea that some contractor with a gun was in the same elevator as the president is astonishing frankly.
BURNSYou know, what I think one sort of unfortunate downside to all of this, and it may seem trivial compared to sort of the safety of the life of the president is, you know, I think it's hard to imagine this isn't going to end with the president more tightly enclosed in a bubble, right. That you started to see this spring the president getting outside the court and just a little bit, you know, once or twice, taking a walk on the street. And you see how thrilled people are to see him out there, right. I do wonder whether one side effect of this is going to be an even more conservative approach to who the president is allowed to interact with and how much he's actually allowed to see the country he's running.
REHMAll right. Alex, I want to turn to another somewhat better report, and that is the jobs report just out, 248,000 jobs added in September and the rate of unemployment falling to 5.9 percent. Does that indicate the economy is a little stronger than we had previously thought?
BURNSIt does, and I think on top of what you just mentioned, they've revised upward the job creation rates for July and August. So more than 60,000 jobs that we didn't realize had been created, we now realize were created. The 5.9 percent unemployment rate is the lowest in six years. So it does, you know, I think confirm what a lot of people at sort of the elite economist level have been saying for some time, which is that you do have a steadier economic recovery at this point.
BURNSI don't know that the American people are feeling it. I don't know that they're feeling it enough to reflect -- this is the last jobs report before the midterm elections -- I don't know that people are feeling the economic recovery enough for that to be reflected in their votes. But there's a lag time on these things. And if you continue to have a couple more months of, you know, 200,000 plus jobs, a quarter million jobs a month, you know, maybe people will start to -- that sort of persistent gloom that we've had for a couple years now even well past the point that the actual recession ended, maybe you do start to see that dissipate a bit.
REHMJohn Prideaux, what does it mean for the Federal Reserve as they look at unemployment rates falling?
PRIDEAUXWell, the Federal Reserve is due to end its bond-buying program this month, which is partly a reflection of how they think about the strength of the economy. But I think as far as interest rates, you know, they really want to see unemployment coming down a little bit further before they can put interest rates up. And I think there's a strange thing going on in these jobs reports which is that although, as Alex mentions, we've had strong growth in, I think, seven straight months over 200,000 jobs, you know, this is undoubtedly good news.
PRIDEAUXAt the same time you have this not such -- you know, this kind of disappointing trend which is the number of Americans dropping out of the labor force entirely continues to be really high. And on that, you know, we're back where we were in the 1970s. And so whilst you do have this sign of strength in the economy with the job forecast, there's something really sort of wrong with the fact that so many Americans are dropping out of the labor force altogether. And that's a troubling thing.
REHMJohn Prideaux of The Economist, and you're listening to "the Diane Rehm Show." I know you wanted to add to that, Sheryl.
STOLBERGWell, Alex mentioned the midterm elections, and certainly the numbers today are happy news for the president, the unemployment rate especially being below 6 percent. And we are seeing the White House doing everything in its power to trumpet the figures. The president was in Chicago yesterday giving a speech on the economy. He wants to remind Americans ahead of what are going to be very difficult midterms for Democrats, that the economy has improved on his watch.
STOLBERGHe will head to Princeton today to talk about manufacturing. The White House likes to say that since 2010, the country has added 700,000 manufacturing jobs, that the manufacturing sector has grown at twice the rate of the rest of the economy. And I am fairly certain cabinet secretaries will also be fanning out to talk about manufacturing today. So this is going to be a theme that we see coming out of the Obama Administration as it tries to rescue Democrats in the midterm elections next month.
REHMLet's talk about those midterm elections. Where are the closest races, Alex Burns, and where are Republicans still gaining ground?
BURNSThey are. They're not gaining ground at the same rate that they may have been six or eight months ago when the focus was really on the health care law and the rocky rollout of the enrollment website. But over the last two weeks I think a lot of Democrats have started to say that they're feeling gravity kick in, that their candidates have been running great campaigns. They've been raising a ton of money. But when you're this close to the actual day of voting, you start to feel the environment take hold.
BURNSSo you're seeing polls out of places like Colorado and Iowa, really closely divided states that the president won in both his campaigns, suddenly Republican Senate candidates are inching ahead. That Iowa race in particular is a source of real concern for Democrats because that's a state where they got the candidate they wanted. They thought they had done everything necessary and that they had kind of cracked the code on how to win Iowa, a state that used to be a George W. Bush state. At this point, you know, in a different year I think they'd still feel very good about it. But when you just start to feel voters who may have been paying attention to the election casually or who may have been undecided start to make up their minds, it does seem like they're shifting in a Republican direction.
STOLBERGYeah, I would agree with that. When I look out at the landscape, you see a candidate -- well, first of all, Democrats are running in tough states, right. President Obama can't really go to a lot of these Democratic states. You've got races like Kentucky where Alison Lundergan Grimes is challenging Mitch McConnell the Republican leader. The president can't go there to campaign for her. And she -- Grimes was really the Democrat's best hope there. She's -- you know, it's going to be a tough battle for her.
STOLBERGGeorgia, Michelle Nunn is running against businessman David Perdue. Michelle Nunn is the daughter of Sam Nunn, the last Democrat elected to the Senate from Georgia. Again, she was a bright hope for Democrats but these are very, very tough races. And I was struck, Diane, by the NPR poll that Mara Liasson talked about earlier today. She said that both parties are kind of locked in. Democrats are really going to vote for Democrats. Republicans are really going to vote for Republicans. So it'll turn on independents.
STOLBERGAnd in the independents, 57 -- by 53 to 37 percent, a 16-point spread, independents are saying they prefer Republicans when asked generically would you vote Republican or Democrat. And that's troubling.
REHMAnd at the same time let us not forget how wrong polls have been in the past.
STOLBERGYes. Yes, well, it's not over until the voters vote.
REHMAbsolutely. But what about the Shawnee County panel of judges ruling unanimously that the Kansas Democratic Party cannot be compelled to file another Senate candidate in Chad Taylor's absence, Alex?
BURNSYou know, this is really the biggest freak show in national politics at this point. In the U.S. Senate race there, there was -- you have Pat Roberts, longtime Republican incumbent running for re-election. The New York Times revealed that he's not really a resident of his state and so that has damaged him severely. There was a weak Democratic candidate, a local district attorney as well as an independent candidate, a wealthy businessman whose exact ideological orientation is mostly a question mark at this point.
BURNSThe Democrat dropped out of the race in deference to this independent Greg Orman. And Republicans tried to sue to force Democrats to name a candidate so that Roberts would be able to run against two opponents. They were unsuccessful. So you do have this sort of outlandish scenario developing where in theory control of the Senate could rest on one man who's never really never run for office before and never held office and could side with either party once he comes to Washington.
REHMAlex Burns. And we'll take a short break. Right back.
REHMAnd welcome back. It's time to go to the phones. Let's go first to Joseph in Orlando, Fl. Hi, you're on the air.
JOSEPHGood morning, good morning.
JOSEPHI wanted to make a comment regarding the Ebola crisis.
JOSEPHI believe that this incident in Dallas puts the spotlight on the fact that we do have to take some kind of dramatic yet fair action to protect the American people. I think that this incident shows that we cannot depend upon foreign governments screening people coming to this country. So we would have to screen them as they come into the United States. We would require people coming from any country where Ebola is spreading -- today that would be three or four countries -- to submit themselves to a physical exam, a quick exam.
JOSEPHIf they are symptomless, they can proceed. If they show any symptoms, we should then require them to take a blood test at a small laboratory in some of our major airports and they would have to wait maybe an hour or two for the results of that blood test before they could proceed to travel.
REHMAll right, you're asking for a great deal, Joseph, and that may be a question we put to Dr. Fauci on Monday when he comes on the program. Sheryl?
STOLBERGYou know, this is not unheard of. And I can actually speak from personal experience a few years ago when my daughter went to China and the H1N1 flu epidemic was rampant. Anyone who came in to China was -- they get -- they took their temperature right away with one of these little guns, you know, that you point a laser-type gun that you point.
STOLBERGIf a traveler had a fever, that traveler was segregated and placed into quarantine and was watched over by Chinese authorities because they were so concerned about spread of the H1N1. And many Americans, actually including my daughter, were quarantined. She was on a plane with a kid who came over and had a fever. That kid was hospitalized. He developed H1N1. All the kids in her group were later quarantined and observed.
STOLBERGSo this is actually something that other countries do. They don't require physicals and blood tests, but they do at least take the temperature as an indicator of symptoms. I don't know that our government would do that.
STOLBERGBut it's not unheard of.
REHMLet's not forget, John Prideaux, that Mr. Duncan had no temperature when he left.
PRIDEAUXI was going to make that point, Diane. I think the reason that health officials are confident that people on the plane weren't being infected was that he wasn't showing any symptoms on the plane.
PRIDEAUXSo what Joseph calls in and described actually wouldn't have picked him up.
REHMI have a scenario to present to you, however. Suppose Mr. Duncan had vomited on that plane, then what happens? What do you think, Alex?
BURNSWell, I mean, that's obviously a horrendous scenario for everybody on that plane.
BURNSAnd it's a nightmare for the government to deal with because this is really unchartered territory. And I think one of the things that, look, if you don't envy too many things about the Chinese system of government. But when you look at a situation like this, it actually is easier to contain an epidemic when your government has totally unrestricted power and the executive doesn't have to ask Congress for money and you don't need to worry about people's civil rights. Fortunately, in almost every case, it's fortunate that we don't have that system in the United States.
STOLBERGAnd Alex mentioned civil rights, and there is, in fact, a debate right now in Dallas over this family that's being quarantined.
STOLBERGAre they being quarantined appropriately? The court said that they were non-compliant and they didn't follow directions to stay in their apartment, so they imposed a...
STOLBERG...a mandatory quarantine.
STOLBERGBut civil rights issues do come into play and they're very delicate issues.
REHMAll right, let's go to Monica who's in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Hi there.
MONICAHi, Diane, thank you for taking my call.
MONICAMy comment is about the Secret Service story. From the incident Colombia to the fence jumper to the man in the elevator, these are the things that are in the headlines. But I haven't heard you mention even the South African sign translator who was two feet next to the president when he was -- he had a criminal, history of mental illness and wasn't even translating in sign language.
MONICAI think considering the increase in threats against this president, this is something that cannot fall out of the news cycle within a matter of weeks. This is completely outrageous. I mean, the fact that this is the Secret Service. These are only the things we know about. They are notoriously private, so it just bears the question, how many more lapses has -- how many more times has the president actually been in danger? These are just the ones that we know about.
BURNSWell, it is one of the times when the investigating power of Congress actually becomes very important that so many times when you have a legislative panel looking into an executive agency or really is just political grandstanding trying to score point in an election. I don't know that there are that many electoral points to be scored in the Secret Service issue, but it's really -- it is alarming that it's been years now and we're all essentially relying on one reporter -- one newspaper, the Washington Post, to tell us what the heck happened here.
REHMAll right, let's go to Sally in Cleveland Heights, Oh. You're on the air.
SALLYHi. When I was in school -- college -- a long time ago and took an economics class, we learned that 5 percent is the normal unemployment rate, that there's -- they call it friction where people are changing jobs and things like that. And I have never heard that said in all the time I've been hearing about the unemployment rate going down. It would seem like 5.8 is pretty darn close if the 5 percent is still what's considered normal.
REHMActually it's 5.9, but go ahead, John.
PRIDEAUXIt's 5.9. You're right, Sally, there is this debate among economists about -- they call it the natural rates of unemployment.
PRIDEAUXWhich sounds like a pretty cruel thing to say, but as you correctly said, it picks up the fact that there's a certain amount of job churn in the labor market, that people, you know, leaving a job and being picked up in the unemployment statistics, maybe in a job the following month. It's not an exact science. People aren't completely sure where it is. There's some belief that it's higher than it was -- that it used to be, the natural rate.
PRIDEAUXBut to me, there's no doubt the 5.9 percent still sound a touch on the high side. But I think more than that, you have to look at what we mentioned before, why so many people are dropping out the labor force and also look at the unemployment rates among different groups. I think if you take people who've dropped out of high school before graduating, the unemployment rate is around 40 percent. That's obviously way too high. So we need to figure out what we can do for those folks.
STOLBERGYeah, I'd be interested in knowing what the unemployment rate is, for instance, currently among African American men, which is -- it's typically been about twice...
STOLBERGAnd I'd be interested in knowing if it's falling.
STOLBERGI don't know, I didn't see that this morning.
REHMLet's go to Shirley in Cincinnati, Oh. Shirley, you're on the air. Shirley?
SHIRLEYEbola is here now, and I am outraged that four human beings are being sacrificed because no one will clean up that apartment. These are human beings who should have the same rights as anyone else, whether they're citizens or not. And I just think if we could -- if the United States can't, as the Texas governor said, he couldn't get anyone to clean it up, where is the CDC? Where is the United States?
SHIRLEYWe sent people to Africa to set up medical things in Africa, why can't we -- why are we leaving these people exposed to this for all these days with the excuse? If America can't do it, then who can?
REHMAll right, Alex.
BURNSWell, I think that's a great -- a great question and I think it's a question that probably a lot of people in Texas and Washington are asking. It is disturbing that they haven't been able to find somebody to clean up the apartment. It would seem that that would be a pretty elementary thing for a state or a municipality even to be able to do. But this does, again, point to how unprecedented this is as an issue to deal with.
BURNSAnd, you know, when you're dealing with an epidemic, when you're dealing -- it's almost like when we suddenly started talking about nuclear terrorism a couple of decades ago, right, that don't the rules change a little bit? Doesn't law enforcement have to have other prerogatives? Don't people who are trying to contain this disease have to be given some leeway to, you know, hopefully not make mistakes, but really to overcorrect in the interest of caution.
BURNSYou do feel terrible for those four people. But at this point, you do have to ask yourself, what is the alternative if the systems aren't in place to let them out of the apartment safely?
STOLBERGI think she makes a good point. If we can send troops to Africa to build treatment centers and hospitals there to care for Africans. You know, why can't they get somebody to clean up this apartment?
REHMAll right, to Sandy in San Antonio, TX. Hi, you're on the air.
SANDYI'm just calling -- maybe it's related to your last caller. But I live in Texas and I think what we're noticing or what I'm noticing is this common thread of contract people doing horrible things. I mean, I'm aghast of a contract person in the elevator with our president. I'm aghast about some of these Snowden leaks, he was a contract worker. I just have a belief that I think we're noticing all of the consequences of our budget cuts in order just to keep taxes low for the 1 percent. I mean, I'm very upset about it.
SANDYI'm embarrassed about my state government. Every time we get a visitor from the federal government, they're treated horribly. It's happening -- Sibelius was here. She was treated horribly. When the president comes in. I mean, I love my government. I write my legislators. When I write to the federal congressman and to my state senator, I never get answers. I get answers only about how much they don't like the president. And it's just -- they just rag on him every day. I mean, this atmosphere of we hate the federal government, it has to stop.
REHMAll right, John Prideaux.
PRIDEAUXI wonder if, as Alex mentioned earlier, this is Ebola is an issue where you will see a slightly different attitude to the federal government. People want the CDC to do its job, they want it to be well-funded, they want it to be on their side. So...
PRIDEAUXIt may be a case that there's a sort of, you know, there's an honorable exception even among the people who are most hostile to the federal government made on this issue.
REHMI would wonder whether the four people in that apartment will not be quarantined for the full three weeks to see if, in fact, they do not develop symptoms as a result of having been so close to this gentleman.
STOLBERGHonestly, I think they are going to be watched very carefully.
STOLBERGI mean, we know that this -- he was vomiting. He had diarrhea. His niece was very concerned about him and they wrapped him in a -- bought a blanket for him and wrapped him in this blanket, apparently took him to the emergency room with the blanket.
REHMIn the blanket.
STOLBERGAnd, you know, they were obviously in very, very close contact with him.
STOLBERGAnd they themselves must be concerned. And I have to actually give them a lot of credit for trying to do the right thing, for seemingly trying to do the right thing by calling authorities, by making sure he went to a hospital, at least to get...
REHMSo if you and our caller had your druthers, would you rather see those four people transported to a hospital and cared for in that way rather than being quarantined in that room?
STOLBERGI think that's a matter for public health experts really to determine what the most appropriate situation is. You know, once you transport to a hospital, then you're exposing hospital workers, et cetera. And are the -- is that necessary or is it just as appropriate as a public health measure to keep them quarantined where they are? I'm not expert enough to know the answer to that.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's go to Jack in Belle Glade, Fl. Hi there, you're on the air.
JACKThank you, Diane. Pleasure to be on your show.
JACKI want to ask the gentlemen if there's any danger that terrorist may purposely infect themselves and come into this country or Europe.
REHMYou know, it's an interesting question because, of course, there have been people concerned about terrorists using a very communicable disease to infect the U.S. population. One has to only wonder whether that is something that could happen, John Prideaux.
PRIDEAUXI would like to hope not. I mean, one of the awful things about Ebola is it starts -- it sets off people's worst fears. So I think another cruel thing about is it tends to punish people who try to do the right thing and try and help out. I mean, this poor man, Mr. Duncan, who has the first case in America caught it while he was helping a 19-year-old woman and get to a hospital who was herself sick.
PRIDEAUXAs for terrorism, I think these sorts of terrorism we've become sadly familiar with over the past decade or so tends to favor sort of high visibility act. So, you know, so things involving airplanes that you can see blow up on television, I think Ebola, horrible as it is. You know, the part -- the scary thing about this is you can't see it and, therefore, one would hope that it wouldn't appeal to those kind of folks.
REHMAll right, and finally to Marilyn in Gaithersburg, Md. You're on the air.
MARILYNHi, Diane, thanks for taking my call.
MARILYNI'm a -- I'm a nurse and there's a question I haven't heard addressed or answered on any program, including Sanjay Gupta on CNN and Charlie Rose. This nurse screened this patient and it's stated time and again she did not transmit this information to the team. I don't understand it. As a nurse, I don't diagnose, treat or discharge a patient. That's up to the doctor. The doctor would have to do that.
MARILYNA history and physical, diagnose the patient, order the antibiotics, that's not even mentioned. He would have -- he or she would have to do his or her own assessment. And it would not have to depend on just the nurse passing on this information.
REHMAll right, thanks for calling. Sheryl?
STOLBERGSo what she's stating is that obviously the doctors and the medical team failed to find out on their own that he had been in West Africa and exposed to Ebola. And obviously that is true since they sent him away with only antibiotics. But I think the concern about the nurse is that she had pertinent information, and there was an opportunity there to transmit it to the medical team, which did not discover it on its own. And that opportunity was lost and that is very unfortunate.
REHMWant to ask you all quick question, what does President Obama's plan for migrant children entail, John Prideaux?
PRIDEAUXWell, if you remember, Diane, earlier this year there was a lot of concern when a lot of unaccompanied children were crossing the border. And the president's political opponent said, you know, the border's not secure, this is out of control. There was a lot of, you know, legitimate concern for the well being of these, in some cases, very young children who are crossing the border.
PRIDEAUXWhat the White House has said was that they will begin processing asylum rather than immigration applications within Latin and Central America. There are about 70,000 sort of permits for asylum granted every year. The White House has said of that 4,000 more or less will be allocated to Latin America and the Caribbean. And the idea is that those people who have legitimate claims for asylum in the U.S. will be able to have them processed before they arrive here rather than arrive then have them processed and then, you know, many of them be sent home.
REHMJohn Prideaux of the Economist, Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times, Alex Burns of Politico. Thank you, all.
PRIDEAUXThank you, Diane.
STOLBERGThank you, Diane.
REHMHave a great weekend, everybody. Thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
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