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Analysis, background reports and updates from the PBS NewsHour putting today's news in context.

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    GWEN IFILL: Later this week, President Obama travels to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

    Iran, Syria, and reviving the Middle East peace process will be high on the agenda. The president faces challenges bridging differences between Israelis and Palestinians and fractures within both camps. We will examine those divisions tonight and tomorrow night.

    Jeffrey Brown begins with Israel's new government.

    JEFFREY BROWN: In Jerusalem today, workers literally rolled out the red carpet, part of the final preparations ahead of President Obama's trip to the region.

    At the same time, Israel's new coalition government was itself installed, led again by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but including some new key players. Its formation took weeks of negotiations after Netanyahu won reelection in January's parliamentary elections, a victory accompanied by the surprisingly strong second-place finish of Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party.

    Today, Netanyahu had this to say about his new government's stance on relations with the Palestinians.

    PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israel: With a Palestinian partner who is willing to conduct negotiations in good faith, Israel will be prepared for historic compromise that will end the conflict with the Palestinians forever.

    JEFFREY BROWN: On one important issue, new Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the country's new housing minister said yesterday that building would continue in -- quote -- "accordance with what the government's policy has been thus far."

    The Palestinian leadership has refused to enter peace talks while Israel continues the settlement policy. Another issue at the top of the new government's agenda is Iran and its nuclear program.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: We face very great threats. Iran continues in its race to obtain an atomic bomb. It continues to enrich uranium in order to produce a bomb.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Iranian officials have said their nuclear work is only for peaceful purposes. In an interview that aired on Israeli television last week, President Obama said it would take Iran a year to develop a nuclear weapon, a longer timetable than that put forward publicly by Israeli leaders.

    But the president reiterated his commitment to keep that from happening.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: When I say that all options are on the table, all options are on the table. And the United States obviously has significant capabilities. But our goal here is to make sure that Iran doesn't possess a nuclear weapon that could threaten Israel or could trigger an arms race in the region.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The new cabinet doesn't include members of Israel's ultra-Orthodox parties. They have been excluded for the first time in a decade. 

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    JEFFREY BROWN: And for more on the Israel that President Obama will encounter, I'm joined by Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, now director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution in Washington, and David Makovsky, head of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

    Welcome to both of you.

    Martin, let me start with you. As the president goes to Israel, what will he find in general terms in this new government? What do we know or not know?

    MARTIN INDYK, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution: Well, it's only a couple of days old. And so it's a very hard to tell exactly what it's going to shape up to.

    What we have is right-wing parties with a shift within the Likud further in the right in terms of its composition. And we have got a large center party, Lapid, this new rising star, who has 19 seats. And then to his left is Tzipi Livni, who was the only candidate to campaign on the two-state solution. And she only got six seats. So ...

    JEFFREY BROWN: Somehow, they all work together -- or are supposed to work together.

    MARTIN INDYK: There's a special glue on the seats of Israeli cabinet chairs which kind of keep them stuck there for a while at least.

    They have to respond to their constituencies. And that is I guess the key point here, is that their constituents want them to focus on domestic issues, on social issues, on sharing the burden of getting the ultra-Orthodox serving the army. Those are the primary issues that they're going to have to deal with.

    JEFFREY BROWN: David Makovsky, what do you see?

    DAVID MAKOVSKY, Washington Institute for Near East Policy: Look, basically, both President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu were elected on a more domestic, I would say, platform.

    And Martin is 100 percent right in the way he depicted it. Basically, the Israelis look out, see the Middle East, they think things are very murky, very tumultuous, uncertain. They don't feel they have an ability to shape this Middle East. They don't know where Egypt is going. They don't know if Syria is disintegrating in front of their eyes. Hamas, they don't like in Gaza.

    So, they said, look, the one thing they can make a difference are -- is the domestic scene. So, what they basically have I think is two sets of issues, one, a desire to integrate the ultra-Orthodox into the work force, into the military, which is compulsory in Israel for everyone but the ultra-Orthodox, and to wean away the ultra-orthodox from being the primary welfare class.

    And the second thing is that Netanyahu, Lapid that we saw in the set-up piece, and this guy Bennett, both have kind of, I would say, a neo-liberal economic reform approach. And they want to move quickly on those sorts of things. So, those are, I would say, the two main domestic drivers of the government.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, and then when we get to the thing we always talk about, Israeli-Palestinian relations, Martin, is there -- is it clear where the government stands? Is there any -- is there an even a possibility, given this focus on domestic issues, for any movement there?

    MARTIN INDYK: As we saw in the setup piece, the prime minister continues to say that he would like a historic compromise with the Palestinians.

    But within his own party, his defense minister and his foreign minister say nothing can be done with the Palestinians. The other rising star, Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party, says that his platform is to annex 60 percent of the West Bank and he will never agree to a two-state solution.

    So the only supporters of the two-state solution are Lapid and Tzipi Livni, and the prime minister, who is important in this. But it's clearly any movement forward on this is going to split this government. And so it's -- it was hard to see how the previous government would move forward. I think it's even harder to see how this government is going to handle it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Do you see any potential?

    DAVID MAKOVSKY: Well, I think there is some potential here.

    Look, out of 68 seats -- remember, it takes 61 out of the 120 to have a majority in the Knesset. You have got 25, as Martin says, that are not part of this right-of-center bloc, which is actually double the number than you had the last time under -- when Ehud Barak was the defense minister.

    So you do have a group. And what keeps things the way for Israel to be a normal Western country goes through the Palestinian issue. So, it will be interesting how it turns out. But Martin is correct that the key positions, the defense minister, the housing minister and the Knesset finance chairman, are pro-settler.

    The one glimmer I think here is this, is this idea of reciprocity. Ya'alon is known as someone believes, why can't the Palestinians just say two states for two peoples? They don't say that anymore. And I was in Ramallah last week too and I just came back yesterday. And I'm a little concerned.

    On the Palestinian side, there's a belief, you know, we're on the highway. The Israelis are isolated. We went to the U.N. We will go to the International Criminal Court. And I feel they feel that there's no reason to compromise.

    I think the open sesame thing here is just to get the basics. If the president could get the Palestinians and the Israelis just to talk about two states for two peoples, it might sound like a cliche, but I think it's the one thing that could have an impact on this, because it deals with, does each side recognize that there are Palestinian and Jewish nationalists movements?

    The Israelis are willing to do it, but the Palestinians are not.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, we're going to focus tomorrow specifically on the Palestinians.


    JEFFREY BROWN: But I'm wondering, on the Israeli side, is it fair to say that their real focus now as a security issue is much more on Iran than on Palestinian relations?

    MARTIN INDYK: Well, Iran, I think, in the exit polls only rated -- 10 percent of the people said that that was their top priority in the Israeli election. So, it really didn't play in this election campaign.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What does that tell you?

    MARTIN INDYK: Well, I think that, well, it does remain a threat, even an existential threat. But as the president said, it's a year away before they get the bomb. He wasn't challenged by anybody in Israel, as far as I know, which was kind of interesting, because Netanyahu had said summer of 2013.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. He's had a much closer deadline.

    MARTIN INDYK: And he's not challenging the president. I don't expect he will when the president is there because he has every interest in showing that everything is hunky-dory between him and the president.

    So, it's not that the issue has receded. It's just that the Israeli public are focused on their domestic concerns at the moment. Levels of violence are at an all-time low. There's this turmoil around them everywhere they look. But somehow they have turned inwards and they want their government to address those issues.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And yet there was -- remember -- we all remember Benjamin Netanyahu at the U.N. with the bright red line. And he was the one talking about a much closer deadline.

    DAVID MAKOVSKY: I would say this.

    I would say that where I might just differ just a little bit is this ...

    ... is that I feel that the Israeli public largely wants the United States to take care of this problem, that they would love to see their first choice, diplomacy, works, there's a breakthrough, they could forget about this issue.

    Second choice, the United States of America is the superpower and let them deal with it. But I think that the third choice is, if you don't get your first two choices in life, and the same security establishment that to a man and woman -- mostly to a man -- wants the U.S. to take care of it, including Ya'alon, who is not known as being -- the defense minister -- as energetic as Barak, if it turns out that Barack Obama doesn't succeed with the diplomacy -- and here there's going to be definite -- there's going to be real tension on the ground in al Qaeda quiet meeting that what won't come out to the public on what is a breakthrough on diplomacy.

    And we might not have time to talk about that. But -- and Obama doesn't deal with it, he says, I'm not bluffing, but he's bluffing, then the same people, I think, swing around to Netanyahu and -- because I have been looking for years. I cannot find one supporter of containment, the idea that Israel can live with the bomb.

    Both the U.S. and Israel share that objective of Iran not having a bomb. But I think the security establishment feels, if the U.S. doesn't deal with it, they have to deal with it. So, I think this is going to be a huge issue behind closed doors, but it won't come out in public. And, in public, it is going to be a great success story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    DAVID MAKOVSKY: Obama is going to succeed. You will see.


    We will see what happens later in the week. And we will follow it.

    Martin Indyk, David Makovsky thanks, both, very much.

    DAVID MAKOVSKY: Thank you.

    MARTIN INDYK: Thank you.

    GWEN IFILL: Margaret Warner is traveling with the president to the Middle East. Her first report tomorrow will examine the political and ideological rifts among the Palestinians. 

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now the latest in our series of reports about older workers, our focus this time, the interesting and sometimes perplexing dilemmas colleges and universities face as their teaching work force is graying.

    Economics correspondent Paul Solman was back on campus, part of his ongoing reporting Making Sense of financial news.

    STEPHEN TRACHTENBERG, George Washington University: When my doctor or my wife tells me I ought to stop, I will stop.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Seventy-five-year-old former George Washington University president Stephen Trachtenberg still teaches public service there.

    DON GALLEHR, George Mason University: You guys are all working well together and that's wonderful.

    PAUL SOLMAN: At George Mason University, 71-year-old writing professor Don Gallehr is still teaching too.

    DON GALLEHR: If the kids are happy and learning and I'm happy and learning, I'm here.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And how long does 69-year-old Boston University particle physicist Larry Sulak plan to keep blowing up protons?

    LAWRENCE SULAK, Boston University: I have no idea. Shelly is a good model.

    PAUL SOLMAN: That would be his 80-year-old colleague, Nobel-winning physicist Sheldon Glashow.

    And when do you intend to retire?

    SHELDON GLASHOW, Boston University: That, I don't know.

    PAUL SOLMAN: America's work force is graying, and so is academia along with it. Professors over 65 have more than doubled since 2000. Some 40 percent of all workers say they will work past 65.

    In academia, however, however, a full 75 percent plan to work past a normal retirement age.

    Historian Claire Potter is at The New School in New York.

    CLAIRE POTTER, The New School: Most of us believe that we should be able to work on our own terms for as long as we want.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Potter blames lifetime tenure, meant to protect professors from political firings, and the legal end to mandatory retirement in 1994. But Potter insists she will be different.

    CLAIRE POTTER: I'm going to retire when I'm 67.

    PAUL SOLMAN: A blogger for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Potter has argued that older scholars are clogging the pipeline for the younger ones. The number of Ph.Ds now far outstrips the number of tenured job openings.

    CLAIRE POTTER: There's a lot of rage out there about being trained for jobs that you can never have. Is it worth keeping younger people out, not giving them the chance to have full-time work, to develop themselves, so that older people can hang on to keep everything we love?

    PAUL SOLMAN: And these days, even younger people aren't always spring chickens. It's been seven years since 38-year-old Joe Fruscione earned his Ph.D in English from George Washington University. He has yet to land a full-time job.

    JOSEPH FRUSCIONE, Adjunct Professor: The market for Ph.D.s in humanities is almost super-saturated. There have been some positions where I have had to compete with hundreds of applicants who all on paper have roughly the same education and skill sets.

    So Fruscione works three part-time gigs. One is running a Moby-Dick discussion group at a Washington, D.C., bookstore.

    JOSEPH FRUSCIONE: When you hear Moby-Dick, you think?

    WOMAN: Whale.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Fruscione also has part-time gigs at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and George Washington.

    So-called contingent faculty like Fruscione are paid class by class. Fruscione earns $4,500 to $7,500 hundred dollars per course, typically teaches eight over two semesters, all in, less than $50,000 thousand dollars a year.

    JOSEPH FRUSCIONE: There aren't any guaranteed benefits, or anything towards retirement. It's essentially getting paid just for the teaching. It's hard in some level to predict how much I will get paid per week or per month.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Of course, cost-conscious colleges could rely on cheaper contingent labor even if tenured faculty were retiring. But immovable veterans are an added impediment.

    Don Gallehr has been teaching just what Joe Fruscione does for 47 years.

    DON GALLEHR: Am I keeping somebody who wants a tenure-track job from getting a job? Yes.

    And that's OK. As long as I'm a good teacher, that's what's important.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Sheldon Glashow, hired away from Harvard by Boston University at age 67, heartily agrees.

    SHELDON GLASHOW: I'm still actively engaged in the triumvirate of activities that are required of a B.U. faculty member. I teach, and I teach well, most of the time, and I engage in service activities, and I do research, and I do it well.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Now, if some of us don't ebb as we age, Glashow is a good bet to be one of them. At age 78, he debunked a much-publicized experiment claiming that particles could move faster than the speed of light.

    For most of us, though, cognitive function shrinks with our height, our abs, our libido. In work by Harvard economist David Laibson and others, skills like word recall and counting backward from 100 by sevens declines steadily throughout life. But, as we age, we gain experience. Our so-called experiential capital rises. And the net effect is positive. People become better decision-makers as they age, up to a point.

    But the negative effects start to dominate in our '50s. And by the '70s, the decline steepens for the average person.

    Steve Trachtenberg is 75.

    STEPHEN TRACHTENBERG: I'm still cooking with gas, but I'm not the man I was at 65 or 55.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Even so, Trachtenberg thinks traditional retirement at age 65 is too young.

    STEPHEN TRACHTENBERG: People live longer now and are healthier longer now. But I think that having an age at which the institution and the individual could together decide whether the person ought to retire would be a useful thing.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Trachtenberg says 70 would be a good age to do that. So why does he continue to work at 75?

    STEPHEN TRACHTENBERG: Well, if we had the conversation, I would push back. I would say, no, I'm still working.

    LOU BUFFARDI, George Mason University: Everybody's situation is different.

    PAUL SOLMAN: George Mason psychology professor Lou Buffardi is retiring this spring at age 70. But he doesn't think everyone should.

    LOU BUFFARDI: And there are many folks my age and older who are some of our very best people.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Sure, says Claire Potter, but there's a catch.

    CLAIRE POTTER: I think one of the things you get if you have an aging faculty is there's a kind of break on innovation that is unnecessary. Younger people who are going into academia are more excited about their teaching. Many of them are involved in the digital world.

    And they have a substantially less important role in shaping what we teach, how we teach, and how our universities run than much older people who were educated 30, 40, and even 50 years ago.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But let's face it. Today, many of us are working past the traditional retirement age. I myself am 68, have been a TV business reporter for 36 years, and teach. But I have no plans to hit the hammock.

    Look, a lot of us love our work, even define ourselves by it. Professors are no different.

    LOU BUFFARDI: It isn't just a job. It's who we are. And to leave that is just tough.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Lou Buffardi has joined George Mason's voluntary phased retirement program. Long-serving faculty teach a reduced course load for two years at full pay in return for a promise to retire thereafter.

    LOU BUFFARDI: As it gets closer, I thought, you know, what was I thinking?

    PAUL SOLMAN: One-third of George Mason's tenured professors are 60-plus, up from just 10 percent in 1990. It's one of many schools trying to grease the skids to retirement.

    WOMAN: The central task of retirement is really finding activities that provide meaning and purpose for your life.

    PAUL SOLMAN: It gives courses on lifestyle and financial planning, even tips on staying in shape.

    WOMAN: This is your new favorite exercise.

    PAUL SOLMAN: More faculty left after phased retirement debuted in 2010. Mason now runs focus groups to find new incentives.

    MAN: If they had offered a part-time job in perpetuity, I would have been first in line to grab it.

    PAUL SOLMAN: But don't these people have a fallback, hobbies, say?

    MIRIAM RASKIN, George Mason University: We're so entrenched in everyday crises and writing and doing what we have to do here that we leave very little time for anything outside.

    TERRY ZAWACKI, George Mason University: I think it's more also that when you leave, there's a real sense of being physically disconnected, that you don't belong in that place somehow. I'm not sure what it would look like, but if there were a space where you could work or you could have some -- some of your books or something.

    MAN: We should just take over a building.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Larry Sulak claims neither he nor his older colleague Sheldon Glashow has lost a step, but as chair of Boston University's physics department, he had to ease out many over-the-hill underachievers. Their first reaction?

    LAWRENCE SULAK: I'm not going to go. I don't have any reason to.

    But you sit down and find out what the sweeteners are. What does someone really want, an office forever, a title of emeritus, help getting a job elsewhere, helping his wife get a job or his husband get a job? All these things are necessary, and you play every trick you can.

    PAUL SOLMAN: Because, say Sulak and others, you need to renew the ranks, nurture the next generation. And these days, more and more scholars wait in the wings, like Joe Fruscione, who, after wrapping up his contingent class at George Washington, traipses back to his car -- he doesn't even get parking -- and drives to his next adjunct class in Baltimore.

    JOSEPH FRUSCIONE: It takes about 45 minutes to get there in the middle of the afternoon, which is not horrible; it's not great.

    PAUL SOLMAN: No wonder folks like Fruscione are called road scholars, their careers a constant commute, as their elders stay put. What keeps them humming along?

    JOSEPH FRUSCIONE: There's a way where this is a very nice job, a tenure-track job one set of colleagues, one office, one parking space.

    PAUL SOLMAN: And if he got that, he might never want to leave either.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, how long do you plan to work? We want you to weigh in. Go to Paul's Making Sense page to let us know. 

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    GWEN IFILL: We turn now to politics, as Republicans plot a path forward with a new report that examines what they must do to reclaim the White House.

    Last November, Mitt Romney became the fifth of the last six Republican presidential nominees to fail to win the popular vote. Last week, he told a meeting of party conservatives that he fell short.

    MITT ROMNEY, Former Republican Presidential Candidate: As someone who just lost the last election, I'm probably not in the best position to chart the course for the next one.

    GWEN IFILL: Romney's defeat has inspired much Republican soul-searching. And, today, party chairman Reince Priebus unveiled his solution.

    REINCE PRIEBUS, Republican National Committee Chairman: We want to build our party. And we want to do it with bold strokes to show that we're up to the challenge and we're done with business as usual.

    GWEN IFILL: The 98-page report detailed the party's failures in 2012.

    REINCE PRIEBUS: As it makes clear, there's no one reason we lost. Our message was weak. Our ground game was insufficient. We weren't inclusive. We were behind in both data and digital. And our primary and debate process needed improvement. So there's no one solution. There's a long list of them.

    GWEN IFILL: Called the Growth and Opportunity Project, or GOP, the report is unsparingly self-critical, conceding, among other things, that the party is increasingly seen as the province of -- quote -- "stuffy old men."

    The report recommends the GOP spent $10 million dollars toward new minority outreach efforts and even more on technology and building an improved voter database, embrace comprehensive immigration reforms, and restructure its presidential nominating process to reduce the number of primary debates and settle on a nominee earlier in the year.

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush used last week's Conservative Political Action Conference to foreshadow many of the conclusions contained in today's report.

    FORMER GOV. JEB BUSH, R-Fla.: We must move beyond the divisive and extraneous issues that currently define the public debate. Never again, never again can the Republican Party simply write off entire segments of our society because we assume our principles have limited appeal. They have broad appeal.

    GWEN IFILL: But Sen. Marco Rubio told the conservative meeting that the party shouldn't embrace change for its own sake.

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-Fla.: And so our challenge is to create an agenda applying our principles. Our principles, they still work -- applying our time-tested principles to the challenges of today.

    GWEN IFILL: Yet, the biggest hits at last week's conference hailed from outside the national party mainstream. They included Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

    Joining us now to talk about how deep the party's fissures go are Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today, and Stuart Rothenberg of The Rothenberg Political Report and Roll Call.

    To listen to Jeb Bush and Reince Priebus talk, Susan, I got the sense that they were giving a belated rebuttal to the Mitt Romney "47 percent will never vote for us" argument.

    SUSAN PAGE, Washington Bureau Chief, USA Today: And look what they called this. They called this an autopsy on the Republican Party. On whom do you do an autopsy? Something that is dead.

    I think that Reince Priebus, Jeb Bush and other establishment Republicans feel that the party has gone seriously astray, and in an America that is increasingly diverse and younger, that it's chartered an appeal that will no -- will not be able to win a national election unless they change course.

    GWEN IFILL: How unusual was it for you to read something, 100 pages worth, of that much, what -- I think I called it unsparing criticism.

    STUART ROTHENBERG, The Rothenberg Political Report: Right.

    Well, it was very forthright and forthcoming as to the party's problems. Susan and I were talking about this. And we have seen parties go through this angst over the years, over the decades.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: But you get the sense that there are many people in the Republican Party that believe this is an unusually difficult period that they face and that the future is rather bleak unless they make some dramatic changes.

    GWEN IFILL: Are they talking message or are they talking policy?

    SUSAN PAGE: Well, a lot of this talked about message, but I wonder if they're correct.

    You can talk about putting something in a nice box, but if the content of the box haven't changed, I'm not sure it appeals to people. You can talk about spending $10 million dollars on outreach to minority groups, but if you don't change the policies that have prompted a lot of minorities, African-Americans, Hispanic, Asian-Americans to go with the Democratic Party, I'm not sure it has an effect.

    GWEN IFILL: I remember hearing about the big tent many years ago.


    Well, part of this is about mechanics. It's about how many phone calls and who makes the calls and the amount of data you have and microtargeting and things like that. And that, I think the national party can talk about and do and raise money for.

    I think Susan is right and you're right that the problem is the message and whether this is a big tent party or not. This report was clearly written by big tent folks. When you look at the people who are involved in drawing it together, a top ally of Jeb Bush, Ari Fleischer, who is a big tent Republican, the National Committee woman from Puerto Rico, the national committeeman from South Carolina who happens to be African-American, these are folks who understand the party has a message problem.

    The problem is that there are lots of Republicans and conservatives who think a different message is a better message.

    GWEN IFILL: So, before we go any further, we should say this is what the party chairman and the party mainstream says, but that's not necessarily what anybody else is saying who have been driving the party.

    SUSAN PAGE: Well, that's right.

    Who has been -- the foot soldiers for GOP for a generation have been provided by evangelical Christians, by social conservatives, who wouldn't be happy, for instance, with a party that was -- moderated its position on abortion rights or that embraced same-sex marriage. That's one problem.

    And where is some of the energy from the party now? Who won the CPAC straw poll? It was Rand Paul, not an establishment Republican, a person from the libertarian wing of the party. These other parts of the party are not necessarily together, even on some of the mechanical things.

    Like, the report recommends going to primaries, as opposed to caucuses and conventions, because that's a broader electorate. Well, caucuses and conventions are the way somebody like a Rand Paul or even a Rick Santorum is going to be able to be a real competitor for the nomination.

    GWEN IFILL: And it also talks about cutting in half the number of primary debates, so a little bit of the early season cannibalization doesn't occur.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Yes. Well, we see this after a party loses a presidential race or two. There's ...

    GWEN IFILL: Whatever they did last time, they shouldn't do.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: That's right. They try to do something else.

    But I think the problem for the RNC is this, that our politics and our lives, our world, has changed. We're no longer -- politics is no longer dominated by the hierarchical national parties that 40, 50 years ago could dictate when they're going to have conventions and who can run for office and raise the money.

    And now you have all these other sources of power and influence, whether it's talk radio or Tea Party groups or Club for Growth.

    GWEN IFILL: And they concede that they want these friends and allies to take a lot of the -- a lot off their plate.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Yes, but the friends and allies have a different view of where the party needs to go.

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: That's the problem.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let me ask about outreach for a moment, because one of the things they did in this report was a complete turnaround from where the party has been. And that's on Hispanic outreach, in saying that the party should embrace, the word is, comprehensive immigration reform.

    Even a lot of Democrats aren't saying that yet.

    SUSAN PAGE: And contrast that to what we heard about immigration in all those primary debates ...

    GWEN IFILL: About deportation.

    SUSAN PAGE: ... where there was a rush to see how harsh you could be on the issue of immigration.

    The Republican Party nationally is trying to turn on a dime on the issue of immigration. But, you know, you still have to get an immigration bill through a Republican-controlled House. And you don't hear -- you hear from a lot of members either silence or they continue to represent districts where comprehensive immigration reform, which means a path to legal status for the 11 million illegal immigrants who are here today, is not -- that would not be a popular thing in a lot of these Republican House districts.

    Immigration is perhaps the best possibility for a big piece of legislation to get through this year, but it is not a done deal.

    GWEN IFILL: When you -- go ahead.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Oh, I was going to say, I think it reflects party insiders, probably party establishment, how strongly they feel about Hispanics as an important constituency in the party going forward.

    GWEN IFILL: The one thing that Gov. Romney and Reince Priebus in this report said is that the future of the party lies in statehouses, with governors. And that's -- it raises an interesting question, because their last nominee was a governor, a former blue state governor. So, how is that the solution?

    SUSAN PAGE: Well, because they have elected governors. Right? They have got 30 governors in this country now. They have a lot less success electing senators or presidents.

    And some of the most interesting figures in the party, some of the figures who might be able to kind of bridge the divides, the factions of the GOP are in fact governors, a Bobby Jindal, a Chris Christie perhaps, a Susana Martinez. Some of the more interesting Republicans that might have broad appeal are in the statehouses. So, I think that's why he talked about that.

    STUART ROTHENBERG: Yes, I understand this argument.

    And it's true. Governors have to deal -- balance budgets. And they have got to raise revenue and cut spending to balance the budgets. And they have to deliver -- deliver services. And so kind of it's more like constituency-oriented stuff.

    But let's remember that why we have most of these Republican governors -- 2010 election, which was a Republican wave. And I went earlier today and I looked to see what percentage of the African-American vote some of these governors got and Hispanics. It's not that all -- not all that different. Romney got 44 percent of women. Scott in Florida got 45, Walker in Wisconsin 48. Kasich got 47. When you look at younger voters and Hispanics, they did better, but not dramatically so.

    GWEN IFILL: Not necessarily. So, we don't know whether this is going to be a report that ends up on a shelf or is this fundamental change.

    Susan Page -- what's your name again? -- Stu Rothenberg, thank you both very much.

    Online, you can read more about the party's self-examination, what Chairman Priebus said today, and you can find a link to the full RNC report. Plus, watch behind-the-scenes video dispatches from the weekend's conservative conference. That's all on our Politics page. 

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  • 03/19/13--00:20: Ireland: Is the Worst Over?
  • Unfinished Homes Unfinished homes sit empty on an abandoned housing development in Keshcarrigan, Ireland. Photo by Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg.

    Ireland was once one of the poorest countries in Western Europe. Then it went on a tear, became "The Celtic Tiger," and was no longer poor at all. How fast did the average Irish resident prosper? The gross domestic product per person in Ireland from 1980 until 2011 was roughly $22,500. At the end of the boom in 2008 it was about $45,000.

    Good things happened. Irish men and women who had left the country to make their fortunes elsewhere came home. Snazzy new buildings rose alongside Dublin's Georgian row houses. Investment money poured in, justifying to Irish leaders the government's years of heavy education funding. Ireland was hot.

    When the world economic crisis began Ireland's economy came crashing to earth, and suffered a recession that pushed banks into failure, left new subdivisions and office buildings half completed, drove unemployment to 15 percent, and sent people fleeing again to places like Canada and Australia.

    Unemployment is ticking down slowly. A recent sale of Irish debt did not see investors demanding the heavy risk premiums charged the governments of Greece, Italy and Spain. The rate of homeowners losing houses and businesses failing has slowed. Is the worst over? Even with all the losses of recent years Ireland is still richer than it was in the early years of this century, but when deciding how they're doing, the average person doesn't pull out a calculator. He or she thinks about this month's bills, and how much is left over.

    At the Dundrum Town Centre shopping mall just outside Dublin it was easy to look at the concourses packed with shoppers on a St. Patrick's Day national holiday and wonder, "What crisis?" But a quick check with those same shoppers showed a sobriety created by bad times. One woman told me she hoped better times were coming, and quickly added that the years of economic distress had made her wary, and she saw her shopping differently. She would now pay cash and wait to make purchases instead of whipping out the credit card.

    An employee of the National Health Service taking his son to the movies said government work had not insulated his home from setback. He had suffered wage cuts, but held on to his job. He knew others that hadn't been so lucky. He told me the Irish were a pretty resilient bunch, but sadly noted that once again the country was exporting bright, skilled, young people.

    Another man relaxed with a coffee while feeding his 9-month-old daughter who lay contented in a stroller. His home had lost something in the range of 40 percent of its value since he bought it, just before the peak of the boom in 2008. There was no question he would continue to pay the mortgage, as the bankruptcy laws made it difficult to do what so many underwater homeowners had done in America: walk away. He figures it's going to be a long time until his house is close to being worth what he paid for it.

    Suburban office parks tell a big part of the story: major American corporations like Microsoft, JPMorgan/Chase and Google live in smart new office buildings. Standing nearby is a 10-story building half-finished when the boom went bust, now sprouting rusting rebar, the wind snapping the plastic sheeting once stretched over its empty floors where the windows were meant to be. In Dublin's trendy Temple Bar the streets are lined with smart new restaurants, and storefronts with For Sale and To Let signs.

    Every fresh crisis in the eurozone over another country's debt crisis sends a shiver through the Irish economy. It's fragile recovery craves stability and predictability in interest rates, and its financial sector held its breath in the last week as Cyprus went to wall, crafting an 11th-hour deal that left Cypriots furious, and the Irish finance minister relieved.

    The small business sector is expected to pick up some of the slack left in the Irish economy when the Celtic Tiger was declawed. I'll have more on the slow recovery in Ireland later this week here online, and on the PBS NewsHour.

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    Updated March 19 at 5:40 p.m. ET: Pope Francis officially became the leader of the Roman Catholic Church on Tuesday in a ceremony at the Vatican, where he urged those with leadership responsibilities and all others to respect one another and protect "God's gifts" of creation.

    Tenderness is not a virtue of the weak but of the strong, he said during the homily of his installation Mass in St. Peter's Square. "Let us remember that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives."

    Watch his full homily:

    The inaugural Mass was attended by 132 government delegations, representatives of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and other faiths, and thousands of other well-wishers and onlookers.

    Before the ceremony, Pope Francis received the fisherman's ring made of silver and gold that shows the image of St. Peter, and the pallium -- a lamb's wool wrap bearing five red crosses which represents the Good Shepherd who carried the lost sheep on his shoulders.

    Vice President Joe Biden led the U.S. delegation attending the Mass. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and John DeGioia, president of the Jesuit-affiliated Georgetown University, accompanied him.

    Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, was elected by the College of Cardinals on March 13 after Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement last month.

    Watch the full Mass in two parts:

    Prior to the ceremony, Pope Francis visited the crowd, blessing babies and a disabled man:

    Tuesday afternoon, Jeffrey Brown spoke with John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter and CNN about the tone and approach the pope has taken in the first few days since his selection was announced to the world - and the challenges ahead.

    Allen explained one of the challenges Pope Francis will likely have to address is the growing concern that Vatican leaders have not be seen as very responsive to the role of women in the Catholic Church.

    Watch Video

    You can watch Jeffrey Brown's full interview on PBS NewsHour's broadcast Tuesday evening.

    Read all of the NewsHour's Papal Transition coverage and follow us on Twitter:

    Follow @NewsHourWorld

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    By Nick Corcodilos

    When you see a job description for which you are an almost perfect fit, there are many ways to overcome any shortcomings. Headhunter Nick Corcodilos advises that you take control during an interview and explain what separates you from the crowd. Photo by YinYang/Getty Images.

    Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979, and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community over the past decade.

    In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards, or salary negotiations. No guarantees -- just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.

    Question: In a recent column, "The Only Interview Question That Really Matters," you talked about showing how you would do the job in the interview.

    What do you do when the employer interviewing you has four requirements, you meet three of them and you know that you're the best person for the job? How can I turn this kind of situation into a job offer?

    Nick Corcodilos: Isn't this the way it goes? The candidate is very sure the job is a perfect fit, but the manager isn't sure enough.

    This problem often arises because the manager doesn't see "the required experience" on your resume, and so rejects you without going any further. (The manager might not even read your resume until you're already in the interview!) This is where resumes cause real problems, and this is one reason why I don't like resumes. They can sink you -- and you'll never know it. For more on this, please see my article, "Don't Defend Your Resume."

    I'll let you in on a secret: Often, managers are not very good at figuring out whether a candidate really fits a job. Many managers are not good at interviewing, and they don't know how to select the best candidates. This gives you the advantage, because it creates an opening to change the interview entirely.

    This is where I will pick up on what we discussed in the column you referred to. Some people get this immediately, but others reject it because they believe it's up to the manager to extract the information during the interview.

    An interview is a two-way street. Don't be afraid to drive the conversation where you want it to go.

    If you lack something an employer wants, but you're a match on other counts, don't wait for the employer to decide to take a chance on you. She probably won't. Don't wait for her to figure out what to do with you. Instead, figure it out for her and explain it.

    Use the interview to demonstrate what you can do.

    Few job candidates ever do that in an interview. (They are content to field interview questions.) A good employer who's looking for a confident, talented, dedicated worker will react well to an assertive applicant. Ask the manager point-blank whether she's hesitating to hire you because of the one missing requirement. Get the problem out on the table. Then explain that you'd like to prove you're a fast learner and that your other skills will more than compensate for anything that might be lacking.

    "May I take a few minutes to show you, right now, how I would do this job?"

    This is an incredibly powerful approach. Of course, it's also risky and you must be prepared to do a demonstration. But, if you aren't prepared to do this, then you have no business in the interview. If you attempt it, and you fail, you've lost nothing because the manager was ready to reject you anyway.

    How can you demonstrate your abilities? It depends on the job. Here are some examples from different job scenarios:

    Show how you would operate a computer or other machine. Explain how you would talk with a customer. Draw an outline of how you would perform a task. Explain how you'd solve a particular problem.

    Then explain how you would come up to speed on the one thing you're lacking:

    What materials would you need to read and study? What kind of tutoring or training would you require? How long would it take you to come up to speed?

    Help the manager balance the job requirements. "I can immediately deliver three of your four requirements. And I just showed you how I'd quickly come up to speed on the fourth. Meanwhile, the job wouldn't be sitting vacant."

    If all candidates lack one requirement, but you're the only one who offers a plan for dealing with the learning curve, it might be the deal-maker you need to land the job.

    When an interviewer begins to lose interest, or suggests you're lacking a key qualification, don't give up, but don't argue. Instead, make an offer. It's up to you to turn things around. Stand and show you can deliver. Show that you know what you're lacking, and indicate a clear willingness to ride a fast learning curve. If a manager doesn't respond well to that, move on to an employer who will take notice of a candidate who's ready to put it all on the line.

    Of course, if you just can't prove you can do the work after all, you must reconsider how you are selecting job opportunities. For more about this, please see "The Interview, Or The Job?." It's possible you're pursuing the wrong kind of job.

    Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sen$e readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth "how to" PDF books are available on his website: "How to Work With Headhunters...and how to make headhunters work for you," "How Can I Change Careers?" and "Keep Your Salary Under Wraps."

    Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sen$e. Thanks for participating!

    Copyright © 2013 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark. This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown -- NewsHour's blog of news and insight. Follow Paul on Twitter.Follow @PaulSolman

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    Wedding photo in Times Square; photo by Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

    Chris and Renee Wiley pose for a wedding photo last year in Times Square. Photo by Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images.

    The Morning Line

    A new national poll reflecting a major evolution on attitudes toward gay marriage highlights the continued cultural shifts on the issue one week before it faces a monumental test at the Supreme Court.

    The Washington Post/ABC News survey released Monday found that 58 percent of Americans believe it should be legal for gay couples to get married. The survey showed 36 percent of respondents opposed making same-sex marriages legal.

    The Post's Greg Sargent breaks down in detail the dramatic splits on the issue among certain demographic groups: Voters ages 18-29 support legalizing gay marriage, 81 percent to 15 percent; non-white voters support legalizing gay marriage by 61-32; and college-educated whites support legalizing gay marriage by 65-29.

    All of these constituencies have favored Democrats in national elections.

    As David A. Fahrenthold and Jon Cohen note in their story, the survey "reflects a remarkable -- and remarkably fast -- turnabout in American public opinion on one of the most emotionally raw and politically divisive issues of the past decade."

    It also found "a broader shift in American attitudes about homosexuality," they write. "Two decades ago, fewer than half of all Americans said being gay was an identity people are born with, not a choice; today, a sizable majority, 62 percent, says so."

    Consider that a decade ago, strategists with former President George W. Bush's re-election campaign helped the party plot state-by-state marriage votes they knew would boost the Republican's chances at securing a second term. They worked with state parties to make sure efforts to ban gay marriage were on 2004 ballots, which brought out evangelical voters and others who overwhelmingly backed Bush. That strategy wouldn't work today.

    Ten years ago, Virginia lawmakers hosted a major event around the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. the Board of Education. They stood on the steps of the portico and apologized on behalf of the commonwealth's forefathers for segregating schools and for the "Massive Resistance" movement in Virginia attempting to thwart desegregation.

    Some Democratic lawmakers were joined by the first openly gay delegate to implore their colleagues to remember the moment. They compared the issue to the civil rights movement and argued that by banning marriage at the state level they might be setting up another apology decades in the future.

    Those comments were seen as dramatic at the time, and the majority of the country opposed gay marriage and overwhelmingly backed state efforts to enshrine marriage as between a man and a woman. There have been all sorts of studies examining the issue, but over the years the nation has seen a slow shift in the other direction, as evidenced in Monday's Post poll.

    With just one week until the Supreme Court hears arguments in two major cases addressing gay rights -- California's Prop 8 law and the Defense of Marriage Act -- more and more public figures are starting to declare their support for gays having the same marriage rights as everyone else.

    There were all the Republicans who signed amicus briefs in favor of same-sex marriage, plus corporations coming forward to say it's a recruitment issue that could boost the economy.

    Former President Bill Clinton penned an op-ed earlier this month explaining why he no longer agrees with the Defense of Marriage Act he signed into law in 1996. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman declared his position changed last week, telling his constituents that he evolved after his son came out to him.

    And on Monday, in a possible overture for a 2016 presidential bid, Hillary Clinton announced in a long web video why she supports gay marriage.

    She outlined what she had seen abroad as secretary of state and said she believes it is "in our DNA" to "champion the freedom and dignity of every human being."

    "I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples. I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law embedded in a broader effort to advance equality and opportunity for LGBT Americans and all Americans," Clinton said. She even acknowledged marriage can be challenging.

    On his new political blog, David Catanese gets reaction to Clinton's announcement from hotshots in early presidential primary states. When she ran in 2008, Clinton had wide support in the gay community but only backed civil unions. Early-state reaction was generally positive, but it's important to note she's actually one of the last possible contenders to embrace same-sex marriage. Vice President Joe Biden, and Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Martin O'Malley of Maryland were out front on the issue last year.

    Watch Clinton's video here or below:

    The release of the Post poll on this major cultural issue came as the Republican National Committee released a forensic examination of its challenges connecting with younger and minority voters, as previewed here. (The report, which you can read in full here, actually makes no mention of marriage despite some officials acknowledging the party is losing younger voters on the issue.)

    Politics desk assistant Simone Pathe was at the RNC's Washington rollout and filed this report looking at the blueprint for the GOP's path forward.

    On the NewsHour, Gwen Ifill talked with Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report and Susan Page of USA Today about the splits among Republicans and how they can work to win the next national election.

    Watch the segment here or below:

    Watch Video


    The Senate Democrats' gun bill won't include California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's assault weapons ban proposal as part of its core legislation. Instead, the assault weapons ban will be offered as an amendment to a bill that could include gun trafficking, school safety and background check measures.

    Politico rounds up the five things to watch for in Tuesday's primary for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District. Republican former Gov. Mark Sanford may not grab enough votes for a clean win of his party's nomination, so he and another candidate could advance to an April runoff. The winner there likely will face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch ( comedian Stephen Colbert's sister) in the election to fill the seat left vacant when Republican Tim Scott was appointed to the Senate.

    Three women have now retracted claims that they were paid to have sex with Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. They admitted a Dominican lawyer paid them to fabricate the allegations.

    President Barack Obama's approval rating has dipped to 47 percent in a new CNN/Opinion Research survey. Fifty percent of respondents said they disapproved of his job performance. The poll also shows the Republican Party's brand in bad shape, with 54 percent of respondents holding an unfavorable view of the GOP. Just 38 percent said they have a favorable view of the party.

    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will announce his support for a path to citizenship Tuesday morning before the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

    Immigration reform has become the top political issue for Latino voters, according to a Latino Decisions poll released Monday. Latino voters who say that new policy on immigration is their top priority has risen to 58 percent, compared with 35 percent in November. Nearly two-thirds of the 800 who participated in the telephone survey conducted last month said that either a member of their family or a close personal friend is an undocumented immigrant.

    The Senate's bipartisan Gang of Eight plans to unveil its immigration reform legislation after a two-week recess in early April, although members claim they're on target to finish by the end of March.

    Former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Richard Camona announced Monday he will not run for governor of Arizona in 2014.

    Chris Cillizza uses seven charts to illustrate the Republican Party's challenge with Hispanic voters.

    The Miami-Dade County online elections system faced a cyberattack in an August primary last year. The attack requested thousands of absentee ballots and is the first known attack of its kind on a U.S. election.

    Reproductive rights groups plan a big rally Wednesday against anti-abortion measures in Raleigh, N.C..

    Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank announced Monday she will leave the post to become the next chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Former Washington state Gov. Booth Gardner has died.

    Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, objected last week to a resolution commemorating Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week over what an aide said was insufficient time to review the measure.

    Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is turning her attention to the homefront, forgoing interviews with Hill publications for a profile in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, in an effort to bolster support in her district. She was re-elected in 2012 by one percentage point.

    Baltimore Magazine profiles the city's former mayor, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, and gets him on record regarding that little TV show he doesn't like to acknowledge. He calls it "David Simon's whinings."

    Stuart Rothenberg gets ""in the weeds" for a district-by-district look at what each party has going for them to win control of the House in 2014.

    Poop cruise is not a joke. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., plans to introduce legislation for a "cruise-ship bill of rights," which would protect passengers in case of an on-board emergency.

    Need a pick-me-up? The Washingtonian posts letters from children welcoming the new elephants to the National Zoo.

    Today's tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA totals billions of pounds of pollution caused by traffic congestion.


    Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal joined Gwen Ifill on Monday's NewsHour to discuss a voter registration case heard by the Supreme Court. The case questions whether Arizona's Proposition 200 measure, which requires registering voters to prove their U.S. citizenship, oversteps the National Voter Registration Act. Still, the ongoing controversies over voter rights and Arizona's immigration crackdown provided a backdrop for the case.

    Watch the discussion here or below.

    Watch Video

    We livestreamed Pope Francis' installation Tuesday. Watch video of the festivities here.

    Our final coverage of the Conservative Political Action Conference includes Allie Morris' profile of the man who has sold buttons there for four decades and Cindy Huang's behind-the-scenes video showcasing the activists running booths to attract young conservatives.

    We reflect back on 10 years since the Iraq War began. You can join in the conversation by tweeting @NewsHour using #Iraq10.

    Ray Suarez blogs from Ireland about the evolution of the country's economy.

    Kaiser Health News looks at how hospitals rank.


    #ff RT @simonmaloy: Protecting Our Ocean Passengers' Civil Rights Under Inconvenient Sailing Environments Act

    — Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) March 18, 2013

    Schumer's poop cruise bill shall be known as the FECES Act: Fully Ending Cruise Excrement Situations Act

    — Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) March 18, 2013

    As of 3:30 pm, there have been 324,960 views of the RNC's Growth & Opportunity Project report, per an RNC source

    — Abby Livingston (@RollCallAbby) March 18, 2013

    The President has submitted a #NCAA bracket on time every year, but has been late with his #budget 4 out of 5 years. -- @gopwhip

    — Bob Goodlatte (@RepGoodlatte) March 18, 2013

    Scoop: Fmr Rep Bono Macl joins FaegreBD Consulting, will focus on entertainment, media & tech. Me @politicopro: politico.pro/16Gh5m2"

    — Tony Romm (@TonyRomm) March 19, 2013

    A mug celebrating @barackobama#israel visit, and a warning of the traffic and parking nightmares that come with it! twitter.com/JohnKingCNN/st...

    — John King (@JohnKingCNN) March 19, 2013

    From press bus at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv. Brought Nikon. Will have better snaps later. twitter.com/MajorCBS/statu...

    — Major Garrett(@MajorCBS) March 19, 2013

    Terence Burlij, politics desk assistant Simone Pathe and Cassie M. Chew contributed to this report.

    For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

    Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

    Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

    Follow the politics team on Twitter:

    Follow @cbellantoni

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    Photo by Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images.

    Dear Sisters,

    It has been so exciting to be here for the announcement of our new Holy Father, Francis. The locals have been so welcoming, offering me at every turn the chance to buy figurines, key chains, pendants, magnets, mugs, books, shirts, holy cards, rosaries (as if I need more!), pictures and postcards. I will need an extra suitcase! And at every cafe and restaurant, the waiters have offered to give me samples of every wine in their cellar. They're a little pushy, to be honest, but I haven't been to Rome since 1982, so as they say, When in Rome...

    Wish you were here, Sister Mary You don't have to be a follower to understand what a big deal this week has been for Catholics around the world, including the nun in the photo above (and vendors in Vatican City). Just look at how HAPPY she seems. So write a caption to the photo above -- it doesn't have to be a letter; that was just our idea -- and we'll send the author of our favorite a NewsHour mug. And no, Pope Francis will not be on it.

    How it works: Every other Tuesday, we post a photo. You compose a caption, submit it in the comments section below or on NewsHour Art Beat's Facebook page by 5 p.m. ET Friday.

    We'll announce the best caption on Art Beat the following Tuesday and send the winner an official NewsHour mug. The tiebreaker for similar or identical entries will be earliest time of submission.

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    This proton-proton collision event, from the CMS experiment at CERN, shows characteristics expected from the decay of a Higgs boson. Photo by CERN.

    Following last week's major announcement at CERN, I finally had time to sit down and read Dennis Overbye's long-form feature extravaganza, Chasing the Higgs Boson, published in The New York Times on March 5. If you have time to spare, and you're looking to brush up on your particle physics, consider this a must-read.

    It's science writing at its best, plus it has everything you'd find in a blockbuster Hollywood hit. Power struggles, blind ambition, high-stakes competition. Marriage proposals, rap videos, sex. (Really, it's there if you read close enough.) And wonderful narratives. For example, this:

    "On the way to fulfill what they thought was their generation's rendezvous with scientific destiny, the physicists dangled from harnesses in hard hats to construct detectors bigger than apartment buildings in underground caverns. They strung wires and cranked bolts to coax thousand-ton magnets to less than a thousandth of an inch of where they needed to be. They wrote millions of lines of code to calibrate and run devices that would make NASA engineers stand by the track with their hats in their hands in admiration."

    And this on Fabiola Gianott, leader of the Atlas detector, described here as "graceful and strong as piano wire."

    "As the spokeswoman for the Atlas collaboration, Dr. Gianotti, then 46, was the nominal herder of 3,000 putative Einsteins, the orchestrator of a hive mind of brilliance -- responsible for getting all the trains to run on time; for all the calibrations and simulations to match; for all the physicists, from the computer analysts who massaged the final data to anyone who ever wielded a screwdriver in the detector cavern, to sign off on the results from those fireball collisions."

    Plus, the story does a terrific job explaining the tricky science, complete with drawings, animations and a "guide for the perplexed."

    The piece covers how the Higgs boson came to be called the "God particle," and then the "goddamn particle." How scientists might discover Higgs without ever actually seeing it, how it splits into a cascade of decay particles, which "after trillions of collisions...might accumulate statistically to form a bump on a chart." How one bump replaced another bump, changing everything.

    And finally, it delivers an emotional ending that will get you in the gut if you've devoted the time to get there.


    Miles O'Brien reports on printable insect-like robots, designed to be cheap and useful. One might help someone in a wheelchair reach for objects. Another, modeled after the segway, uses sensors to avoid obstacles. He reports for the National Science Foundation's "Science Nation."

    From Discover magazine: "The possibility of someday recording all the neurons firing in a living creature's central nervous system has inspired generations of neuroscientists. Now, a group of researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has finally achieved the feat."

    Google wants to replace all your passwords with a ring.

    Can scientists revive extinct animals? And should they? Speakers covered this topic and the other issues at this TEDx De-Extinction meeting in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

    What words can you make using the periodic table?


    A new study finds that people who consume processed meats are more likely to die early. From U.S. News & World Report.

    *The National Science Foundation is an underwriter of the NewsHour.

    Tom Kennedy, Rebecca Jacobson, Patti Parson and David Pelcyger contributed to this report.

    Related Content:

    Strong Signs of Higgs Discovery

    At CERN, Art Collides with Science

    What the 'Rock Star' Discovery of the Higgs Boson Means for Science

    Physicists Discover Clear Evidence of Elusive Higgs Boson

    NOVA: The Higgs Particle Matters

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    Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor waves after addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 15, 2013. Photo by Nicholas Kamm/ AFP/ Getty Images.

    As Republicans work to reassess their party message and policy prescriptions for America, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has stepped up his outreach to minority groups who helped to re-elect President Barack Obama last fall.

    The Virginia Republican in recent weeks has done the rounds by paying tribute to major civil rights landmarks, giving speeches about the importance of diversifying his party and on Tuesday, spoke to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

    According to prepared remarks sent over by Cantor's press office, he relayed that in Congress he hopes to significantly fix the education system for the most vulnerable -- that high unemployment is directly tied to a quality education.

    "Suppose colleges provided prospective students with reliable information on the unemployment rate and potential earnings by major," Cantor said during the keynote address at the legislative lunch. "Armed with this knowledge, students and their families could make better decisions about where to go to school, and how to budget their tuition dollars."

    Cantor concluded his speech vaguely alluding to the immigration debate: He told the story of his grandparents' journey to the United States from Russia, and reminding the audience of their united front.

    Cantor received the group's USHCC's Legislator of the Year Award. He also received the award in 2010.

    In a recent speech at Harvard University, Cantor said it's time for a change. "Our party needs to do a better job of getting to know different constituencies," he said. "I am much about trying to force that to happen."

    Earlier this month GOP leader Cantor traveled to Selma, Ala., to mark the anniversary of what's known as "Bloody Sunday." In 1965, 600 non-violent protesters led by John Lewis, then chair of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, marched across the Edmund Pettus bridge to highlight the need for voting rights protections in Alabama.

    The bloody confrontation on the bridge was a pivotal event in the civil rights movement and outcry against the beatings eventually led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which opened up voting access for African-Americans. Lewis leads a bi-annual pilgrimage to Selma, and this year among those marching with him were Cantor, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Rev. Al Sharpton.

    Few if any Republicans usually make the trip attend, and Cantor stood out in the crowd.

    Lewis told the NewsHour that all members of Congress are invited. "He took us up on our invitation and I know he was sincere in his outreach. We have to always look for any way we can find common ground," Lewis said.

    Cantor hasn't stopped there. Following the Alabama trip, he posted photos of that day on his website. Cantor said on the House floor he was "so proud to have been in Selma" and he announced that he, Lewis and two others are launching a new website, The House and Selma: Bridging History and Memory. Cantor said it will help preserve historic testimonies from lawmakers about their contributions to the civil rights movement. "Their stories are part of our nation's heritage and serve as a reminder to every American of the determination and sacrifice that shaped the greater democracy we live in today," he said.

    Cantor also visited this winter a private school in New Orleans to push his education reform ideas. He toured a depressed area of Washington, D.C., north of Capitol Hill, that is undergoing gentrification.

    Cantor pushed through legislation last week called the SKILLS Act, designed to improve the nation's workforce through training. Democrats opposed the bill, arguing it eliminates or consolidates 35 separate jobs programs and will wind up killing the training systems for those who need it most, but Cantor muscled the bill through on a mostly party line vote 215-202.

    Politico recently wrote about Cantor's push making some Republicans uncomfortable.

    On Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Cantor told the activists gathered about some poor families that he had met over the last few weeks. He said the GOP can provide an agenda steeped in conservative principles of limited government and freedom to help families, but also told the red-meat-craving crowd that they have their work cut for them.

    "Let's face it, the opposition is organized," Cantor said. "President Obama and his allies believe that the best solutions to our ills is cradle-to-grave government support. It is hard to get anything done in Washington when common ground is being held hostage by tax hikes."

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: A full decade after the Iraq war began, the violence has not abated. Today was the bloodiest day this year, as insurgents staged multiple attacks. A high-level minister was assassinated and dozens more died.

    A warning: Our story contains some graphic images.

    Thick black smoke rose above the Sadr City district in Baghdad, where a car bomb went off today in one of several coordinated attacks to rock the Iraqi capital; 65 people were killed and more than 200 wounded. In another instance, an explosion ripped through a popular market near Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

    MAN: There is a checkpoint at the main gate, but it is in vain. They don't search anybody. The car arrived and parked here, exploding and killing people.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The violence targeted mainly Shiite neighborhoods and highlighted the sectarian strife that still exists 10 years to the day since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began.

    FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, United States: At hour, American coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It started with a wave of Shock and Awe airstrikes. Explosions lit up the night sky in Baghdad. Three weeks later, the capital fell, as residents cheered the arrival of American and coalition forces.

    Marines toppled a statue of ousted leader Saddam Hussein, one of the first iconic images of the conflict. Another iconic image from the war came in May of 2003, when President George W. Bush announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq while aboard the U.S. Abraham Lincoln.

    PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But it would be more than eight years before the last U.S. military convoys rolled out of Iraq.

    SOLDIER: I'm happy. I'm happy to be out of Iraq.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Nearly 4,500 Americans were killed during the war that spanned close to nine years, along with more than 100,000 Iraqis. Some of the conflict's bloodiest battles were fought in Fallujah when U.S. forces faced off against insurgents and four U.S. contractors were attacked. Their charred bodies were dragged through the streets.

    In Dec. 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. troops, who found him hiding in an underground hole. He would be tried by an Iraqi tribunal and found guilty of crimes against humanity and was executed in December 2006. What wasn't found in Iraq were active weapons of mass destructions, or WMDs, something many in the Bush administration had stated Saddam Hussein had at his disposal.

    President Bush addressed the issue during a 2005 speech.

    PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: When we made the decision to go into Iraq, many intelligence agencies around the world judged that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. This judgment was shared by the intelligence agencies of governments who didn't support my decision to remove Saddam. And it is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A report released this month put the cost of Iraq's reconstruction at more than $60 billion dollars so far, that on top of $1.7 trillion in estimated war costs, according to a recent study by Brown University.

    Today, some Baghdad residents spoke of little progress and expressed anger at the United States.

    WOMAN: The Americans didn't do anything when they came to Iraq. They granted freedom to Iraq? What freedom are they talking about?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Washington, President Obama issued a statement marking the anniversary, saying he joined in paying tribute to all who served and sacrificed in one of our nation's longest wars.

    Earlier, I spoke to Jane Arraf, a reporter for Al Jazeera English and The Christian Science Monitor about today's violence in Baghdad and life in post-war Iraq.

    Welcome, Jane.

    What is known about who or what's behind today's car bombings and suicide attacks?

    JANE ARRAF, Al Jazeera: Well, the finger, Judy, is always pointed at al-Qaida and al-Qaida-linked groups, because they do -- the attacks do have the fingerprints of that sort of organization.

    It was an extremely coordinated attack, as you saw, more than 20 bombs, many of them car bombs. And then for good measure, they threw in some suicide bombers, as well as sticky bombs on the bottoms of buses, huge variety of targets, most of them Shia targets or security targets. And that fits in with what al-Qaida has been doing, trying to destabilize the country by showing people that its security forces can't protect them and trying to stir up the sectarian war that this country has just recently emerged from.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How unusual is it to have so many attacks on the same day?

    JANE ARRAF: It was a bad day. That is certainly indisputable.

    But I was at a university during the day talking to university students and they were actually holding a party because they were graduating. You could see the smoke rising and you could hear gunfire and these are people, young Iraqis who grew up in war. And they were so unfazed by it. They just went on with their day. They went to classes. They went to their ceremonies.

    So people here, Iraqis have learned to live with this, which is a very sad comment. But, at the same time, what happened today did scare people a little bit. I think probably you will see fewer people on the streets in the next couple of days.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Jane, tell us what are conditions like in Iraq now? What is day-to-day life like for ordinary Iraqis?

    JANE ARRAF: It's a lot better than it was a few years ago.

    But I think we have to keep mentioning, that was such a low bar, because we always say it's a lot better than it was a few years ago. Well, a few years ago, there were bodies in the streets. A few years ago, you literally when you left your house didn't know whether you would return home.

    A few years ago, there are families who lost people whose bodies they never found. So there's a bit of a sense of relief that that is not happening. And because it was so bad, people kind of get on with their lives here. If you go down one of the main streets, one of the main commercial streets at night, you probably will have to wait to get into a restaurant.

    There's so many families going out. But, at the same time, you can go into places here. A couple of days ago, I went and saw someone on the edge of town in a neighborhood where there is hardly any electricity.

    There's no sewage system. The kids don't go to school because there's no school there. And that's not that unusual.

    This is potentially a hugely rich country, but you wouldn't know it when you walk through the streets. Somehow, around the edges, people have found a way to make it seem as if some semblance of normal life goes on, but they realize that this isn't normal. They realize that it could be so much better.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, Jane, what are people saying there about the war?

    JANE ARRAF: That's such a question -- that's such an individual question.

    And the answer to that -- and I ask it constantly with that underlying question, was it worth it? And the answer to that depends on what happened to each person, what happened to each family. There are a lot of people here, probably a majority of people, who are still very glad that Saddam Hussein is gone. But what I have found increasingly in covering this country over the years and being here day to day is that people are more and more saying, yes, it's great he was gone, but maybe we would have put up with him for the sake of the certainty of knowing that our kids would be OK when they go to school.

    Really, what happened was that people traded the oppression that they were under for freedom in a sense, but that freedom came with a lot of danger that they face every day. There was no fuss made about the anniversary. People here don't really commemorate anniversaries like that, unless they're politicians.

    But when people think back on the last 10 years, it is a history of loss, of sadness. Young people are in a bit of a different frame of mind. They didn't lose quite so much. And when you talk to them, they're looking forward towards the future and they're generally more optimistic. It's their elders that look back over the past 10 years, over the past few decades and think of the tragedy of what this country could have been that it wasn't and still isn't -- Judy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Jane Arraf joining us from Baghdad, thank you.

    JANE ARRAF: Thank you.

    GWEN IFILL: We will come back to the legacy of the Iraq war at the end of the program tonight. 

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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seated, talks to ministers after posing for a group photo marking the formation of the new Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, Israel. Israel's 33rd government was sworn in Monday after almost six weeks of negotiations to piece together a coalition government. Photo by Ronen Zvulun-Pool/Getty Images.

    JERUSALEM -- They've dressed up this timeless city for President Barack Obama's arrival. Rabbinical student Inbar Shalem, waiting for a bus on King David Street yesterday, said she has high hopes for the president's visit here tomorrow will bring. "We have a new government, and so does the United States. I hope it is a new beginning for the relationship," she said. "And I hope that means we'll see the peace process move faster and farther than it has in recent years."

    But the hopes of left-leaning Israelis like Shalem -- that President Obama's first presidential visit to Israel brings a new commitment to push the Israeli-Palestinian peace agenda -- doesn't take into account Netanyahu's changed circumstances. In the eyes of many observers here, Netanyahu -- whose new coalition government took office Monday after weeks of haggling -- is weaker, not stronger, than he was before. And that could mean he has less room to maneuver on this historically-controversial and emotion-laded issue.

    Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapi, left, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and Our Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, right, form the core leadership of Israel's new coalition government.

    Imagine a shotgun marriage of convenience: that is perhaps an apt description of his new coalition government. Netanyahu has joined with two younger political newcomers who scored well in January's elections - former TV host Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid Party, and software entrepreneur Naftali Bennett, head of the right-wing settler Our Jewish Home party. Both ran campaigns focused on domestic issues. And neither offers himself as an ally to move forward on the peace process front, even if President Obama urges Netanyahu to do so and Netanyahu is so inclined.

    Lapid did endorse reopening negotiations, but the issue wasn't anywhere near the top of his agenda, nor on his list of coveted cabinet posts. Bennett's base is found in the Jewish settlements in the Palestinian Territories; his party landed the critical Housing Minister's job.

    What's more, Netanyahu had to accede to their demands to put together the over-60 majority he needed to govern. At their insistence, he didn't invite his longtime allies, the ultra-Orthodox, into the government. Netanyahu also has lost ground with the public since the election. His popularity rating has dropped, while Lapid's and Bennett's have surged. "He's weaker in the eyes of his colleagues in the political system," said leading Israeli columnist Nahum Barnea. "He lost votes. And in the coalition negotiations, he looked weak. It's not enough to be prime minister."

    The prime minister's office concedes Netanyahu didn't get the defection-proof coalition he wanted. So if he makes a move strongly opposed by Bennett or Lapid , either one could leave the coalition and Netanyahu's government would fall. But he has retained the title of prime minister for himself, and appointed longtime peace advocate Tzipi Livni to run the negotiations. So Netanyahu's advisers insist he has room to maneuver -- at least for a time -- if he decides to move down the peace process track. He made prominent mention of "historic compromise" in his remarks Monday when the government was formed.

    Bennett has said he won't oppose renewing negotiations with the Palestinians , noted an Israeli official who has worked with Netanyahu, "so he won't put a straitjacket around Bibi's and Livni's ability to negotiate." The rub will come if Netanyahu decides to offer a confidence building measure of the kind the Obama administration is talking about privately -- like announcing a temporary freeze on settlement building beyond the recognized settlement blocs.

    "Jewish Home is a settler party. It's not likely Bennett would agree to those restrictions," said a Western diplomat here. "This is not a coalition that can do anything big on the Palestinian issue." But Netanyahu's advisers have a different reading on Bennett, viewing him as more of a pragmatic businessman than an ideologue. "His party has been in the political wilderness for years. Now they will have the benefits, and patronage, of being in government" the Israeli official said. "I don't see Bennett throwing that away over a confidence building measure on settlements, at least not in the first year."

    On one point the doubters and the Netanyahu insider agree: with President Obama and new Secretary of State John Kerry focused on this issue, now is the time to act. "Right now the prime minister is surrounded by young Turks, but when it comes to diplomacy and security, he's the seasoned one," said the Netanyahu aide. "He has room to maneuver. But if it's going to happen, it has to be in the next couple of months - or it's not going to happen."

    The larger unknown is whether Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas -- both weakened politically -- even want to take the risks of the give-and-take required to breathe life into the limp peace process patient. That's the most pressing task facing President Obama in his three days in the region this week, to look each man in the eye and determine if the venture is promising enough for yet another American president to pursue.

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: There were dueling claims today over whether Syrian rebels executed a chemical weapons attack in the northern part of the country. Footage from state-run television showed victims arriving at a hospital in Aleppo province. Government officials put the number of dead at 31, with more than 80 others wounded. But rebels denied they fired any chemical weapons.

    And in Washington, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney questioned the Syrian government claims.

    JAY CARNEY, White House Press Secretary: We have no evidence to substantiate -- substantiate the charge that the opposition has used chemical weapons. We are deeply skeptical of a regime that has lost all credibility. And we would also warn the regime against making these kinds of charges as any kind of pretext or cover for its use of chemical weapons

    HARI SREENIVASAN: President Bashar Assad is widely believed to have a chemical weapons arsenal, including nerve agents, as well as mustard gas.

    The parliament of Cyprus voted to reject a bill that would tax bank deposits in order to qualify for an international bailout package. To receive $13 billion dollars from the E.U. and the International Monetary Fund, Cyprus has to raise $7.5 billion dollars on its own. But taxing people's bank accounts proved unpopular, even when the provision was added to shield small savers. Banks across Cyprus will remain closed until Thursday to avoid a run on cash.

    Uncertainty about the Cyprus situation set markets around the world and on Wall Street on edge. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than three points to close above 14,455. The Nasdaq fell eight points to close at 3,229.

    Seven U.S. Marines were killed after a mortar unexpectedly exploded during a training exercise in western Nevada. Military officials said that prompted the Pentagon to halt the use of the mortar worldwide until an investigation can be completed. The accident happened last night at the Hawthorne Army Depot. The Marines who were killed were based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Seven other Marines and sailors were injured in the explosion.

    A proposed ban on assault weapons will not be part of a gun control bill slated for debate next month. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said it will instead be offered as an amendment. But that amendment is unlikely to survive because of solid Republican opposition. Three other gun control measures have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, a measure to decrease gun trafficking, a proposal to increase school safety money, and a background checks bill.

    Republican Sen. Rand Paul put his support behind comprehensive immigration reform today. During a speech at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky Republican said the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants should have a legal way to stay in the U.S.

    SEN. RAND PAUL, R-Ky.: If you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you. In order to bring conservatives to this cause, however, those who work for reform must understand that a real solution must ensure that our borders are secure. We must also treat those who are here already with understanding and compassion, without also unduly rewarding them for coming illegally.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Bipartisan efforts are under way in both the House and Senate to overhaul U.S. immigration laws. Today, Speaker of the House John Boehner called the House version -- quote -- "a pretty reasonable solution."

    The number of Americans dying from Alzheimer's disease has increased by 68 percent in the last decade. According to the Alzheimer's Association, one in three seniors have some form of dementia when they die, and the disease accelerates the progression of other life-threatening conditions.

    Because Alzheimer's has no cure or treatment to slow symptoms, a growing elderly population means dementia mortality rates will only continue to rise.

    Those are some of the day's major stories -- now back to Gwen.

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    GWEN IFILL: Pope Francis formally took office today with a special mass and ceremonies.

    We begin with a report from James Mates of Independent Television News in Rome.

    JAMES MATES, Independent Television News: He is promising a simpler, humbler papacy. And it was amongst the ordinary pilgrims to St. Peter's that Pope Francis started his day.

    It is common now for a pope to kiss babies, less so for him to get out of the popemobile and walk over to give a blessing to a disabled worshiper. The inauguration mass at St. Peter's Square was shorter and less ornate than in the past, but it could not be described as either simple or understated.

    Heads of state, all their representatives occupied the front rows, but this service was squarely aimed at the 150,000 pilgrims who had stood since early morning to see the new leader of their church, among them, of course, many from Argentina, who watched as for the first time ever the symbol of the papacy, the fisherman's ring, was placed on the finger of a man from Latin America.

    His homily was an instruction to get back to core principles. Embrace, he said, the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important.

    For almost a week now, his introduction to the papacy has been a series of services, meetings and now this magnificent inauguration. But after today, the work proper begins and the to-do list is considerable. In his first week, Francis has been spectacularly successful in defining the style of his papacy. Winning approval for its substance will take a lot longer.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And to a look at the early messages from the new pope and the challenges ahead for him.

    For that, Jeffrey Brown talked with John Allen a short time ago. Allen covers the Vatican for the National Catholic Reporter and is an analyst for CNN.

    JEFFREY BROWN: John, welcome once again.

    So, what signals and tone are people there picking up from the pope today and in recent days?

    JOHN ALLEN, National Catholic Reporter: Well, Jeff, in effect, today was the end of a beginning. That is, from Wednesday, when Pope Francis stepped out on that balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square, through his inaugural mass this morning, what he's been doing in effect is to introduce himself to the world.

    And as introductions go, I think most people here believe it's been a bravura performance. He's charmed people endlessly with this emphasis on a humbler, simpler style in the papacy closer to the people.

    But, of course, beginning now, the focus shifts from style to substance, and the question becomes, how is this new tone going to be translated into the hard work of actually governing the church? And there, of course, the challenges are considerably more steep.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, give us a sense of what he's up against. A lot of talk about the hierarchy, the bureaucracy of the Vatican, how the -- the fixed nature of how things work. What is he up against?

    JOHN ALLEN: Well, it's quite clear to everyone that this pope was elected on a reform mandate. That is, the other 114 cardinals in the Sistine Chapel who elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis want someone who is going to shake up entrenched ways of doing business in the Vatican.

    And when they talk about reform, they're not talking about the secular model of reform, meaning changes to church teaching on matters such as abortion or birth control.

    But, instead, they're talking about changes in business management in the Vatican towards making the bureaucracy here more transparent, that is, both internally and externally, making it clearer who's making decisions and why and also doing a better job communicating with the outside world, towards making it more accountable, that is, the idea that there ought to be penalties for poor performance, and towards making it efficient, the notion being is that this old concept of thinking in centuries may have cut it once upon a while. But, in a 21st century world, it simply doesn't do it anymore.

    That's what these cardinals mean by reform. And they have embraced Pope Francis as the man who can deliver it. Whether it plays out in practice that way, of course, remains to be seen.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Is there an expectation that on one key matter, the sexual abuse scandals, that he has to do something fairly quickly, whether it's make some kind of gesture or take some kind of action?

    JOHN ALLEN: Well, I think it's very clear to anyone who's been paying attention that the child sexual abuse scandals, which have been such a cancer for the Catholic Church for the better part of the last decade, have been the most significant blow to its moral authority in our lifetime.

    And I think many cardinals -- and, of course, well beyond the College of Cardinals, Catholics worldwide are hoping the new pope will take aggressive action. There have already been some reports that have raised questions about his record on the crisis in Argentina. There are cases from priests dating from 2007 and 2008 where allegedly then Cardinal Bergoglio didn't react aggressively enough.

    I suspect, however, what is going to loom much larger is not what's in his past, but what's in his present. That is, how is he going to respond as pope? And, certainly, if you look to critics of the church's response of the sexual abuse crisis, what they would tell you is that although Benedict XVI did move the church forward in terms of embracing a zero tolerance policy for abuser priests, that wasn't matched by an equal commitment to zero tolerance for the bishops who covered it up.

    And they are looking for a clear signal from the new pope, Pope Francis, that there will be accountability for bishops who drop the ball, who don't respond as they should to accusations of abuse against Catholic clergy. If he delivers that, then I suspect most people will be willing to say that this pope, on that issue at least, does indeed profile as a reformer.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You mentioned these looks at his performance in Argentina. Of course, the other thing that people have looked at since he was chosen was his role during the so-called dirty war, some daily stories looking back on the role of the church generally and he -- him specifically.

    How seriously is that being taken there at the Vatican? Can you tell?

    JOHN ALLEN: Well, I think, on that issue, there is basic confidence that these accusations probably aren't going to have any licks.

    They were first surfaced actually eight years ago in the run-up to the conclave in 2005, when then Cardinal Bergoglio was also a serious candidate. A book came out in Argentina alleging that he had been complicit in the arrest and torture of two Jesuits. Remember that the new pope is a member of the Jesuits, and during the '70s he was a provincial, meaning a regional superior, in Argentina for that religious order.

    The charge was that he had been complicit in the arrest and torture of two members of his order. He firmly denied those charges. What has happened in the meantime is that one of these two Jesuits who now lives in Germany has come forward to say that, as far as he is concerned, the case is closed and he's praying for the success of Francis' papacy.

    And a Nobel Peace Prize winner in Argentina known as a ferocious critic of the military junta has come forward to say that he believes the charges against the new pope basically are false and don't have any merit.

    So, I think the Vatican has basic confidence that at the end of the day, his record on these issues is going to survive scrutiny and that evaluations of him are not going to be based so much on his past as his present, that is, how he responds to the challenges facing him as pope.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And just very briefly, John, going back to what we saw today, this -- you're talking about the substance going forward. But what we saw today, the emphasis on humility, the less pomp, the way he was out in the square today, all that must have played awfully well there, being there for it, right?

    JOHN ALLEN: Oh, absolutely. It played enormously well, Jeff, everywhere except with the Vatican security personnel.


    JOHN ALLEN: That's probably the one constituency that hasn't succumbed to the charm of this new pope, because they are scrambling to figure out how to keep up with a guy who quite clearly doesn't want to be shackled by protocol and does not want to be put inside a bubble and separated from people.

    And, frankly, I think there are some real concerns going forward if he continues to comport himself in this very accessible fashion whether or not they are going to be adequately able to guarantee his security.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, well, John Allen in Rome, thanks, as always. Thanks so much.

    GWEN IFILL: You can watch more of Jeff's interview online, as well as the full installation mass, which includes the pope's homily translated into English. 

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next to the Middle East, where President Obama is headed tonight. He will make three stops: Jerusalem, Ramallah on the West Bank, and Amman, Jordan.

    Last night, we explored fractures in Israel's new coalition government. Tonight, we turn to the political and ideological split among Palestinians.

    Margaret Warner reports.

    MARGARET WARNER: This is not your typical after-school program. Called Futuwwa, or youth in Arabic, it's paramilitary training for Palestinian high school students in Gaza. It was instituted by Hamas, the militant Islamist movement ruling this impoverished district, which Israel withdrew from in 2005.

    Gaza is home to 1.7 million Palestinians packed into an area the size of Atlanta.

    MAN: I'm here to learn how the use weapons. The program teaches us to defend ourselves, to organize in school and everywhere.

    MARGARET WARNER: Futuwwa is now offered in all of Gaza's high schools. It's further evidence of Hamas' entrenched grip on power here.

    After winning a majority in Palestinian elections in 2006, Hamas violently expelled Fatah from Gaza. Fatah is the older established secular party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, which now runs Palestinian affairs on the West Bank.

    As President Obama travels to Israel and the West Bank this week, he will be trying to assess whether a real opportunity exists for the United States to try to revive the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But among ordinary Palestinians, he will find no expectations that the U.S. can or will do anything to change the situation.

    MOHAMMED MOUSSA, Palestinian: When Obama came to power, we hoped he'd have a different policy, but Israeli pressure has had influence on him.

    FIRAS EID, Tea Vendor: He is not welcome here in Palestine. What will he do for us? All of them are standing with Israel, not with the Palestinian people.

    MARGARET WARNER: An even bigger hurdle to reviving peace prospects: the deep division among Palestinians reflected in the ongoing split between Hamas and Fatah.

    This wall on the street in Gaza is adorned by the smiles of two dead men, Yasser Arafat, the Fatah founder and first Palestinian president who died in 2004, and Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin, assassinated by Israel earlier that year.

    But Hanan Ashrawi, a longtime member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, says the two movements are poles apart.

    HANAN ASHRAWI, Palestinian Liberation Organization: Hamas and Fatah certainly have a serious split. It's multifaceted. It's ideological, because Hamas is partly based on political Islam. And it's also social. It's territorial, because Hamas controls Gaza. And it's personal in the sense that you have many people who have vested interests and who have positions of privilege.

    MARGARET WARNER: The two movements also represent two schools of thought on how to deal with Israel.

    Mark Perry is a foreign policy analyst who remains close contact with the Hamas leadership.

    MARK PERRY, Author: Abu Mazen has gambled very explicitly and he has said very explicitly that there will be no violence against Israel and he will negotiate in good faith with Israel. The problem is that hasn't gotten him anywhere. Hamas has a totally different approach, and their approach is resistance. They believe that Israel will only come to the table when they feel pain.

    MARGARET WARNER: A growing number of Palestinians see justification for that belief. Last November, a week of Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes led to an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.

    As part of that, some Israeli restrictions on Gaza were eased. The year before, Hamas secured the release of 1,000 prisoners from Israeli jails in return for handing over Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier it kidnapped in 2006.

    HANAN ASHRAWI: This has sent a clear message to the Palestinian people: If you abduct soldiers, Israeli soldiers, we will release prisoners. But if you sign agreements about with us about releasing prisoners, we won't honor those agreements.

    MARGARET WARNER: Many Israelis say the Palestinian split means there's effectively no one for Israel to negotiate with. And among Palestinians in Gaza at least, there seemed to be some confusion on that point as well.

    NEMEA KHADER, Student: The PLO, represented by Abu Mazen, is the only representative.

    SAMER IBRAHIM ABU SEIF, Graduate Student: There are two authorities and leaderships. We hope this division ends soon.

    MARGARET WARNER: The PLO, led by Abbas, is internationally recognized as speaking for the Palestinians, a fact Hamas says it accepts. But Abbas cannot simply move forward without Hamas, says Shibley Telhami, director of the Sadat Center for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland.

    Can Abu Mazen speak for the Palestinian people?

    SHIBLEY TELHAMI, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, University Of Maryland: Not without Hamas. And let me put it this way.

    There's no question the Palestinian people are divided. And in my own mind, there is no way that any Palestinian leader can sell a compromise solution, which means, ultimately, he's going to have to have Hamas backing.

    MARGARET WARNER: Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal have engaged in halting reconciliation talks moderated by Egypt's new Islamist government.

    But both camps suspect a major outside player may be trying to dissuade a healing of the breach.

    The U.S. has been pressuring the Palestinian leadership not to reconciliate with Hamas?

    HANAN ASHRAWI: If I may be blunt, I think that the pressure has not been overt or public, but, yes, there have been pressures.

    MARGARET WARNER: Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil Gaza sees the same.

    SALAH AL-BARDAWIL, Hamas Spokesman: The reconciliation is no longer between Fatah and Hamas. It's become something between Fatah, Hamas, the U.S., Israel, the E.U. and some Arab regimes. The external pressures and the American dictates that bring up conditions on the reconciliation are what prevent it from happening.

    MARGARET WARNER: Mark Perry says U.S. funds for the Palestinian Authority may have been used as a cudgel.

    MARK PERRY: The reconciliation talks were going very well up until the end of February. And what happened is, Obama announced that he is going to Israel, and the United States, Hamas believes, made it clear to Abu Mazen that if reconciliation talks were to continue, there would be no funding for the P.A.

    MARGARET WARNER: The U.S., Israel and the E.U. consider Hamas, whose charter threatens the obliteration of Israel, to be a terrorist organization.

    In 2011, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked if a just-announce preliminary agreement between Hamas and Fatah would prompt the U.S. to reconsider aid for the Palestinian Authority. Secretary Clinton said: "We have made it very clear that we cannot support any government that consists of Hamas, unless and until Hamas adopts principles that have been well known to everyone for a number of years."

    The principles include recognizing the state of Israel. Shibley Telhami says the U.S. should be prepared to drop that insistence when it comes to political parties if it hopes to broker a peace deal.

    SHIBLEY TELHAMI: I think we should insist that any Palestinian government, whether it includes Hamas or whoever, it insists meet certain conditions, including being against terrorism, meeting its international obligations. With parties, we never insist that they meet certain obligations. And I think right now we're going to have to reassess. The environment has changed. If there's still time for a two-state solution, we're on the last leg.

    MARGARET WARNER: Why the last leg?


    SHIBLEY TELHAMI: Israelis and Arabs no longer believe in the two-state solution.

    MARGARET WARNER: During our recent trip in January, we found many Palestinians who had lost belief in the peace process. Nasser Hantouni owns Birds of Peace, a pet shop just inside the West Bank. He works in sight of the security wall Israel erected during second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in the early 2000s.

    NASSER HANTOUNI, Birds Of Peace: We feel very frustrated. For the past 20 to 22 years, we have had hope in negotiations, and yet there are no concrete results on the ground and still we haven't reached peace. All we see is more settlements, the wall, checkpoints, closures, and constraints over the Palestinians.

    Ninety percent of us have lost hope of reaching a peaceful solution with the Israelis.

    MARGARET WARNER: Do you think that there's a possibility that if nothing happens on the peace front, more violence will break out?

    NASSER HANTOUNI: It could be, yes. It is a valid alternative due to the stress this nation is living under.

    MARGARET WARNER: Hanan Ashrawi worries that without progress, Abbas may not be able to hold it together much longer.

    HANAN ASHRAWI: Obviously, what's happening is a situation of tremendous volatility. I think the Palestinians are on the verge of, I don't want to say explosion or implosion, but public opinion is extremely inflamed. People are very angry at what's been happening. The leadership is losing support, certainly for a variety of reasons, including the nondelivery of peace or security for the Palestinians.

    MARGARET WARNER: A giant tangle awaiting Mr. Obama on his first venture into the thicket of the Middle East.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: After filing that story, Margaret left for the Middle East. She will file reports about President Obama's trip all week. 

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    GWEN IFILL: Now we turn to what appears to be an evolving sea change on attitudes toward gay marriage, even as the Supreme Court prepares to tackle the issue.

    Steadily and remarkably, public and political support for same-sex marriage is on the rise. The shift has been under way in the courts, in Congress, and most recently among leading politicians of both parties.

    President Obama's flip from opposition to support dominated headlines last year.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: At a certain point, I have just concluded that, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.

    GWEN IFILL: Last week, Ohio's Rob Portman became the first Senate Republican to announce his support. Two years ago, he said, his son told him he is gay.

    SEN. ROB PORTMAN, R-Ohio: And that launched an interesting process for me, which was rethinking my position, talking to my pastor and other religious leaders, and going through a process of, at the end, changing my position on the issue.

    GWEN IFILL: Republican response was muted. House Speaker John Boehner said his position remains the same.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio: And I appreciate that he's decided to change his views on this. But I believe that marriage is a union of a man and a woman.

    GWEN IFILL: Yesterday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she, too, has expanded on her previous support for civil unions.

    FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, United States: That's why I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples. I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law, embedded in a broader effort to advance equality and opportunity for LGBT Americans and all Americans.

    GWEN IFILL: Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, is now calling on the Supreme Court to overturn a federal ban on same-sex marriage that he signed in 1996. A challenge to that law is scheduled for court argument next week.

    Recent surveys tracked the change in public opinion; 58 percent of those polled by The Washington Post and ABC News now say it should be legal for gay couples to wed. As recently as seven years ago, 58 percent of Americans told pollsters they opposed gay marriage. The justices are also taking up a related issue this term, California's ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8. The Justice Department argues that Prop 8, as it is known, violates the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection.

    But the hard-and-fast party line that once defined the issue appears to be fading. More than 100 Republicans have signed on to a legal brief arguing for reversal of the California law.

    But Prop 8 supporters in a new brief filed with the court today argued that, while political winds may be shifting, legalizing same-sex marriage offers -- quote -- "a genderless conception of marriage that is essentially unconcerned with procreation."

    Now joining us to discuss what has been changing and why are Michael Dimock, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, and Greg Lewis, a professor with the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. He's written extensively about shifting attitudes toward same-sex marriage.

    Michael Dimock, what is driving this change? It's unarguable that that there's a change going on, but why?

    MICHAEL DIMOCK, Pew Research Center: Yes, it's one of the biggest changes we have seen in the last decade in its people's policy views.

    And it's driven by two things, the arrival of a new generation that now makes up over 25 percent of adults in this country, millennials, who are very supportive of this. And their support is growing more intense as time passes.

    But you're also finding a lot of people of all ages who have changed their minds on this over time, that about a third of supporters say that they themselves have shifted in that direction as time has passed.

    GWEN IFILL: Greg Lewis, as you look at the this, is it -- do you determine that it's a political shift or a cultural shift, or neither, or both?

    GREG LEWIS, Georgia State University: I would say it's all of those things.

    We have seen very dramatic 20-point rises in support for same-sex marriage over the past decade. We have been seeing increases of that size on a variety of gay rights issues sort of lagged over the past 30 years.

    GWEN IFILL: Michael Dimock said it was about young people changing their minds and people getting more exposed to other people with different backgrounds. What is your sense in your research?

    GREG LEWIS: Definitely, the younger people are much more supportive.

    Basically, every 10 years younger a person is, they're about seven points more likely to support same-sex marriage. People born since 1980 are about 35 points more likely to support marriage than people born before 1930. And every year, the population is shifting more and more to the people born since 1980.

    Clearly, there's some major political and religious things going on here. Liberals, moderates, Democrats and independents are moving faster on this issue than are Republicans and conservatives. Likewise, Catholics, Protestants are moving faster than evangelical Protestants.

    GWEN IFILL: Michael Dimock, this argument used to be about civil unions vs. marriage. And marriage used to be sacrosanct, untouchable not a very long ago. And now -- but no one talks about civil unions anymore.

    MICHAEL DIMOCK: You know, you don't hear as much about it.

    There's still a divide. About two-thirds of people would say they'd favor fully equal rights for same-sex couples as heterosexual couples, but support for actual gay marriage is lower than that across any different polling. So there is still a gap there.

    I think the issue has shifted in the way it's been argued on both sides, that this seemed to be maybe a safe middle ground or stepping-stone towards marriage for some people. I think a lot of advocates don't see it that way, that it's now -- defining it as something different than marriage is not what they want to see happen.

    GWEN IFILL: When you define it as being legal vs. illegal, is that different than saying the right -- the sacrament of marriage? You ask the question differently that way, do you get different answers?

    MICHAEL DIMOCK: Yes, you do.

    And I think that suggests that there are some people who are torn over this. We find that a majority of people say that they think gay marriage goes against their religious beliefs. But a majority also says they think that same-sex couples should have the same rights. You have somewhere over a quarter of the public who's kind of torn between their moral and religious arguments and their feelings about fairness and equity.

    And those people can be affected by the way questions are worded in the context of what they're being asked.

    GWEN IFILL: Greg Lewis, we talk about a lot about demographics, but I wonder also whether there's a geographic part of this and also an educational part of this, educational attainment which would drive people's opinions. Have you been able to see that?

    GREG LEWIS: Definitely.

    Currently, there are about 12 states where there is majority support for same-sex marriage, and all of them have got some sort of legal recognition for same-sex couples. On the other hand, in the Deep South, support is still probably mid-30s, whereas it's probably 60 percent or more in Massachusetts and much of the Northeast.

    Likewise, people with college degrees or bachelor's degrees are markedly more likely to support same-sex marriage than are people who didn't complete high school or have no college.

    GWEN IFILL: Michael Dimock, are the people ahead of the politicians, or are the politicians ahead of the people on this?

    MICHAEL DIMOCK: You could argue it either way.

    Barack Obama announced his support for gay marriage after the lines had crossed in the public level, after a majority of Americans had already tipped in that direction. But I think when you look at the Republican Party and what this segment talked about, the changes in the Republican Party and people like Rob Portman, those are the minority views within that party.

    Republican views on this issue nationwide have been fairly stable. Only about a quarter of Republicans tell us that they support gay marriage. So, in some ways, some of these Republican politicians are arguably ahead of where the rest of their party is in the direction of that change.

    GWEN IFILL: So, Greg Lewis, is it possible that these surveys that we're looking at maybe don't pick up a silent majority perhaps who could still oppose gay marriage?

    GREG LEWIS: There's really no evidence of that.

    We have never seen that, once public opinion shifts towards gay rights on any issue, that it drops back for any length of time. Also, it appears that our estimates, based on the polls, of how much support there for gay marriage in each state have been very good predictors of the percentage of people who voted against the constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. So it seems that the polls are reflecting real attitude change.

    GWEN IFILL: Michael Dimock, this is still working its way through a lot of statehouses as well, but next week we are going to see a big -- the first big shoe drop at the Supreme Court. Is there any way to know whether people are following that piece of the argument closely enough to drive opinion?

    MICHAEL DIMOCK: It's hard to say.

    I mean, court cases will draw a lot of attention. What is complicated in this situation is there are a number of different legal arguments going on across different cases that have been combined into this. And I'm not sure the public is really engaged in all of those particulars. I think that what we're sensing is that the shift is reflecting this generational component, and also for people just that their experiences in life have changed their views on this.

    GWEN IFILL: Like Rob Portman, because he has a son ...

    MICHAEL DIMOCK: Like Rob Portman. A lot of the folks who have shifted their views, who tell us they changed their mind talk about people they know, talk about just a personal shift in how they look at these things and that the world just seems different to them today.

    And to the point, there's not a lot of sense that that would shift backward under any circumstances.

    GWEN IFILL: Next stop, gay adoption. We will see whether things begin to change there.

    Michael Dimock of the Pew Center and Greg Lewis of Georgia State University, thank you both so much.

    MICHAEL DIMOCK: Thank you.

    GREG LEWIS: Thank you. 

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, we return to Iraq and the lessons learned 10 years after the U.S. invasion.

    I'm joined now by two journalists who have written extensively on the subject, New York Times reporter and author of "The Endgame: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq From George W. Bush to Barack Obama" Michael Gordon, and Washington Post editor Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone."

    We welcome you both to the NewsHour.

    Rajiv, it's been more than a year since the U.S. pullout. What shape is Iraq in after the war? What's the legacy of the war now?

    RAJIV CHANDRASEKARAN, The Washington Post: Well, Iraq, in my view, still remains a tinderbox with some real red-hot embers inside.

    There's some parts of the country where things are not just stable. They're booming in the southern parts of the country dominated by the majority Shiite population, fueled by plentiful oil revenue. You see construction. You see investment. Life's pretty good for those people.

    In the central part of the country, where the minority Sunni Arab population largely lives, particularly out west, people feel a lot more frustrated, a lot more disenfranchisement. In the capital, there have been some large protests by the Sunni community because they feel they have been cut out of the political process.

    And up north, where a quarter of the population lives, the ethnic Kurdish population, again, things look pretty good for them economically, but there are real questions about the tensions there between them and the central government, particularly over oil revenue -- some key issues unresolved among these communities that were supposed to be addressed with the addition of more American troops that really have not been solved over these last several years.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Michael Gordon, you see problems associated with how the U.S. left and what's happened since then.

    MICHAEL GORDON, The New York Times: Well, one factor -- and I agree with Rajiv's breakdown of the situation in Iraq -- but another factor has really been the decline of American influence.

    And really over the last several years, it wasn't really the withdrawal of all of the forces, which Secretary Panetta has said has curtailed American political influence, but also there's been a bit of a disengagement on the part of the Obama administration itself.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you mean?

    MICHAEL GORDON: Well, I think they view Iraq as just another country. They don't have the same emotional or psychological or even foreign policy stake in it that the previous administration had.

    So I think the United States can't solve all the problems in Iraq certainly, but it's not playing as active and forceful and influential role in mediating these internal issues.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What's the relationship, Rajiv, between the people of Iraq and their government? How is that working?

    RAJIV CHANDRASEKARAN: Depends on which people.

    For the majority Shiite population, they see the government as largely working in their interests. The others look at the government and say, these people aren't here to help me and serve me. I think there is a desire among many Iraqis for sort of a big tent, more secular government. But that's not the shape of the political system that they have today.


    And much of this, in my view, is a result of the legacy of the American occupation and our military intervention there, decisions made almost 10 years ago today. De-Baathifying the country, meaning excluding some members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, those who didn't have any blood on their hands from future involvement in the country's economy and government, disbanding the army, those have had a lasting legacy in pushing these other groups out into the fringes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What would you add about the government?

    MICHAEL GORDON: Well, a big problem is not merely the sectarian and ethnic divides, but the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has been an increasingly authoritarian figure.

    And he was a person that actually was picked by the American ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad -- encouraged at least -- to run for the prime minister's post. But a problem that a lot of communities have in Iraq, the Sunni, the Kurds and even some Shia, is that he is overstepping the bounds of his constitutional authorities as commander in chief.

    The Obama administration made an effort before it took out the troops to try to curtail that and create a different governing arrangement. But it didn't work out.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me bring you both to the U.S. side.

    Michael, how -- you talk -- you both talk to the military a lot. But what -- how does the U.S. military view the war and what happened in Iraq for the most part?

    MICHAEL GORDON: Well, you're never going to have any one view even within an institution like the military certainly.

    I do think that the military can look at what they did in Iraq and they see a lot of early mistakes in the first years which exacerbated the conflict, the rush to failure, so to speak, handing over to the Iraqis before they were ready to shoulder the burden. I do think the surge, as a military operation and military strategy, was effective and was essential.

    In fact, I can't imagine how President Obama could have withdrawn the forces and left behind a reasonably stable Iraq without it. So, I think the military acquitted itself well. Where there's been a shortfall has been on the political side in trying to craft a political set of arrangements in Iraq that leads to a stable and democratic country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Rajiv, what's your sense on how the military views it and also lessons learned?

    RAJIV CHANDRASEKARAN: You look at the military today that is fighting still in Afghanistan, it looks nothing like the military that went into Baghdad in 2003, the advancements in vehicles, from soft-skin Humvees with no armoring, to these big, hulking, mine-resistant trucks, the advancements in battlefield medicine, just in the way our troops suppress insurgencies, instead of focusing in on killing and capturing bad guys exclusively, as we tried to do in 2003, this focus on counterinsurgency strategy and how it's really been absorbed within the ranks and implemented.

    People can debate about whether it's a wise strategy or not or it's a -- it involves a good use of resources, but the way the military has gone about adapting and learning, particularly from those grim early years of the Iraq war, is nothing short of phenomenal, in my view.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What about the legacy? How do you see the legacy in terms of what the military has learned and how it's affected U.S. foreign policy?


    MICHAEL GORDON: Well, I think the military learned how to do counterinsurgency. The public opinion may no longer support that, but forever is a long time. And I think you can't say we won't have to do that again at some point in the future.

    Foreign policy-wise, Iraq poses some challenges, particularly now because of Syria, because Maliki has become and emerged essentially as a supporter of Assad, Bashar al-Assad, because he fears the consequences of a Sunni success really in Syria and what it might mean for his own domain and his own rule in Iraq.

    And so it's become a very serious foreign policy challenge. And he, in fact, has been essentially cooperating with Iran, which has been flying military supplies across Iraq to Damascus.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you see as the long-lasting effects on U.S. foreign policy?

    RAJIV CHANDRASEKARAN: I think that these sorts of large costly conventional force operations we saw in Iraq, we had in Afghanistan, I think, has led many to recoil here in Washington, particularly at senior levels of the Obama administration.

    And, to some degree, I think it's propelled the White House toward a greater reliance on drones, on intelligence operations, on the use of small special forces teams to target terrorist cells around the world, as opposed to trying to go and do more traditional nation-building and remaking of societies.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Michael Gordon, thank you for helping us look back.

    RAJIV CHANDRASEKARAN: Pleasure to talk to you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we are collecting your Iraq war stories, your reflections and lessons learned on this anniversary. Find out how to share those on our home page. 

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    NEWARK, N.J. | Even as he was patting them down for jewelry and cash, Sampson Davis knew he'd had brighter ideas than this: robbing drug dealers.

    It was the summer before Davis's senior year of high school and the plan to jump the Montclair drug boys seemed simple enough when he and three buddies -- Snake, Duke and Manny -- first dreamed it up in the schoolyard. They would dress in black "to blend in with the darkness." In and out. No one gets hurt.

    And as Davis describes in his new book, "Living and Dying in Brick City," that's exactly how it went down ... until a four-door Chevy Citation pulled up to the scene carrying two men in jeans and polo shirts. The four boys had been about to make their getaway when the men in the car started yelling something about being lost. What happened next would trigger a series of events that led Davis to medical school and Snake to the morgue.

    Davis took a few steps toward the car, just close enough to see a police radio on the floor. And it registered with him almost immediately: undercover cops. Within seconds, the group was practically surrounded by police cars.

    In the days that followed, Snake, Duke and Manny were each sentenced to multiple years behind bars. But because Davis was just 17 and had a relatively clean slate, he got probation, four weeks in juvenile detention and another chance.

    Today, Dr. Davis is an emergency medicine physician at St. Michael's Medical Center in Newark, just blocks from the scene of the crime.

    NewsHour senior correspondent Ray Suarez recently traveled there to discuss the new book -- which Davis describes as "part memoir, part self-help, part anecdotal" -- and to explore why growing up in America's poorest communities not only increases the chance for social missteps, but can also lead young people to poor health and drastically shorter lives.

    Having lived in Newark for most of his life, Davis knows too well the social forces fueling epidemics as diverse as diabetes and domestic violence in neighborhoods like his. But for the same reason, he also knows that personal choices play into those crises. Young people, he says, need to be shown a better way.

    Davis thinks of Snake to this day. About a decade after they were busted, the former friends crossed paths once again -- this time when Davis was a first-year resident and Snake was another of the gunshot wound victims who wouldn't make it out of the ER. Standing in the room where his friend ended up dying, Davis said he felt like a "survivor pulled from the wreckage over a pile of dead bodies, wondering: Why? Why me? Why had I survived?" He also thought about Snake and whether, "beneath all the bravado and rage he'd had dreams, like me, but had been too afraid to share them, or whether life had choked every bit of hope from him from the start."

    Watch Davis's full discussion with Suarez in the video above. Below, read his take on seven things young people can do to stay out of the emergency room.

    Seven Things Young People Can Do To Stay Out of the E.R., According to Dr. Sampson Davis

    1. Learn How to Resolve Conflicts without Resorting to Guns

    I see many young men and women in my E.R., on a stretcher, clinging to life after an argument gone bad. In the heat of fury, words are exchanged, tempers flare, and like wood to a fire, a simple disagreement escalates, a gun is pulled, and someone goes down. Too many young lives are lost before their time because young people, young men especially, concerned about their "rep," don't use words to deflate a potential blowup.

    Of course, words can't resolve every conflict, and there are unfortunately times when nothing can deter a person bent on committing an evil act. But words like "I'm sorry," "my bad," or "my fault" still can go a long way in deflating an argument and saving a life. No need for "macho posturing" in a heated situation. Better to let go of ego, keep pride at baseline, say "my misunderstanding" and walk away with your life -- a true victory.

    2. Say No to Drugs

    It was almost a joke back when this phrase became popular; it made the solution to drug use seem far too easy. Well, it indeed starts there -- with a choice to say "no," and we must continue to teach this to our young people. In every community across the country, there is a spike in drug use, particularly the new drugs of choice, prescription drugs -- so much so that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling prescription drug abuse an epidemic. Drug overdose has now surpassed automobile collisions as the leading cause of accidental death.

    In 2010, two million people reported using prescription pain killers non-medically. Best way to avoid an addiction is by not starting (experimenting). Drug addiction is a horrible disease -- I've seen it up close both in the E.R. and in my own family. Once you start, your whole life falls apart, and inevitably, you wind up in the E.R. Avoid a life of agony and misery with the initial decision to say NO. And if it's already too late for that, get help. No one can battle addiction alone. There is help available. But the person with the addiction has to really want to be free from it, and they must be willing to do what it takes to get there.

    3. Seek Help Early for Mental Health Issues

    Mental health issues show up in different forms: depression, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive behavior, anxiety, anti-social behavior, etc. In some communities, particularly among minorities, there seems to be something taboo about even talking about mental health. That has made many who need help and sometimes their family members fearful of seeking it. Family members and friends may not understand mental illness because there aren't any physical signs. But there are signs.

    Pay attention to yourself and to friends and family members if you suspect there is a problem. Many of the men behind the most recent spate of mass shootings suffer from various forms of mental illness. The problem often plays out in emergency rooms after someone suffering from depression has attempted or succeeded at suicide.

    Again, I experienced it firsthand when a young man from my childhood took his own life during a solo game of Russian roulette. I'd recognized when I last saw him that he wasn't quite himself, but I knew little or nothing about depression at the time. If you aren't feeling your normal self, reach out, seek medical help. You aren't 'crazy,' but rather, you may be experiencing a real medical crisis. You may need therapy, or you may need medication. But the point is, there is help.

    4. Develop/Maintain Good Eating and Exercise Habits

    Since 1980, the number of overweight children in this country has tripled. One out of every three children is overweight or obese. Exercise and healthy eating habits are extremely important in combating these statistics. Obesity eventually leads to increased risks of hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart attack and cancer. With today's generation predicted to have a shorter life span than their parents, we need to move towards a healthier America. Eating a balanced, healthy diet and exercising lead to decreased visits to the E.R. and a longer, better-quality life.

    5. Report Domestic Violence and Avoid the Abuser

    Rich or poor -- domestic violence doesn't discriminate. Ninety-five percent of domestic violence cases are women, but just 30 percent of them seek help for their injuries. One in five cases of domestic violence ends in death. If he hits you, get out; he more likely than not will hit you again, especially if he does not get help. I grew up in a home where domestic violence unfolded often.

    My most memorable case of domestic violence was a woman I treated in the ER and tried to convince to call the authorities and report the abuse. She refused. She blamed herself and was steadfast in her decision to go back to her husband. A year or so later, I came across her again, but this time she was in cardiac arrest from the blunt trauma sustained during a beating by her husband. It broke my heart to pronounce her dead. More than three women are murdered by their significant others every day.

    Do not tolerate any abuse -- physical, psychological/emotional, or sexual. A new form of abuse has surfaced with advances in technology -- cyber-space abuse, which can be just as devastating. Walk away and live another day, and report the offense. Likewise, if you or someone you know is being abused, reach out to the National Domestic Violence hotline -- 1-800-799-safe.

    6. Practice Safer Sex or Abstain

    I lost my own sister to HIV/AIDS. It was one of the most painful things I've experienced in life -- to watch my once beautiful, vibrant sister, whom I loved very much, succumb to this vicious disease. Young people, take control of your sexuality. There is too often among young women a false sense of security in trusting their partners. But please keep in mind, there is no way possible to look at a person and know whether he or she has a sexually transmitted disease. Abstinence is the only type of protection that is 100 percent foolproof, but if you decide to have sex, use common sense, use protection. As the saying goes, "no glove, no love, no sleeve, you must leave."

    7. Surround Yourself with Positive People

    Ultimately in life, you are the company you keep. Make sure to choose your friends wisely and keep company with the group that is going in a positive direction versus a negative one. Do well academically in school, earning as many A's and B's as possible. Go to college, have a vision and embark upon your journey towards greatness. If you decide to hang around the perceived 'in crowd' or people who are not interested in their futures, they will have more influence on you than you realize. Before you know it, you could see your own life and dreams spiraling out of control. That, of course, increases the likelihood that you, too, will land in the E.R. with one of the issues listed above. Follow what I call my three D's -- Stay Determined, Dedicated and Disciplined, and the rest will fall into place.

    Do you have a question for Dr. Sampson Davis? Leave them in the comments section below or send them to onlinehealth@newshour.org. He'll answer them in a web chat on the PBS NewsHour's website next week.

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