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

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    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell; photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans speak to reporters Tuesday. Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images.

    The Morning Line

    When President Barack Obama landed in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, he told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he was glad to be abroad. "It's good to get away from Congress," reporters captured the president saying on the tarmac.

    Perhaps that's because 5,900 miles away, senators were settling in for a marathon session of amendments and debate over legislation to fund the government beyond March. It's a fiscal battle fraught with drama, as lawmakers seek to include their priorities and with little agreement on what should be excluded from the across-the-board automatic budget cuts that kicked in a few weeks ago.

    And once the $984 billion, six-month continuing resolution passes, negotiations are far from over, given that the Senate version is unlikely to mirror what passed the Republican-controlled House earlier this month. Plus, they're just getting started.

    This lede from David Rogers' story in Politico says it all: "Meat, machismo and [Sen. Jerry] Moran all collided in the Senate on Tuesday, stalling action on a stopgap spending bill and threatening to push the long-awaited budget debate into the holiday recess beginning this weekend."

    Moran, a Republican from Kansas, stalled proceedings Tuesday as he argued that air traffic controllers in rural areas like in his home state should be protected from cuts. There's also tension over funding for ranchers, Rogers reports.

    Debate Tuesday also featured sparring over a missile defense system and a space shuttle program some senators say are unnecessary, and bigger-picture arguments over cuts to programs like food stamps and Head Start.

    Jonathan Weisman and Annie Lowery described the continuing resolution (CR) as a "mixed blessing" for Mr. Obama, given that it will allow the Defense Department more flexibility in what gets slashed and make the sequestration cuts seem "less arbitrary."

    They write:

    But the new continuing resolution might have a political impact beyond the numbers: It could reduce some of the most obvious disruptions in federal services, potentially easing the pressure that Mr. Obama had hoped would soften Republican opposition to a replacement that combined spending cuts with tax increases.

    Procedural stalling tactics mean the final vote on the CR could be as late as Thursday. And with unlimited amendments allowed on both that spending legislation and the budget, the Senate is preparing for what's known in Washington as a "vote-a-rama."

    Aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., expressed exasperation Tuesday, making snarky statements mocking Republicans for slowing down the process. They noted that the GOP has been criticizing the Senate for failing to pass a budget, but that the stall on the CR has prevented the chamber from getting to that debate.

    "There will be no more talk of not having a budget," Reid said Tuesday. "We're going to have one before we leave here for recess."

    Reid threatened to hold senators over the weekend to complete work on the budget after the CR clears and before the Easter recess.

    From a political perspective, Democrats are eager to fight over GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal, The Hill's Mike Lillis reports. They're saying Ryan's plan will hurt the poor, women and minorities in a series of press conferences, floor speeches, YouTube videos and cable news interviews. It's all designed for the Democrats' uphill battle to win back the chamber in the fall 2014 midterm elections.

    Talking Points Memo's Sahil Kapur notes that Senate Republicans do not sound all that excited to vote on Ryan's plan. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, met with Ryan this week. "I wouldn't be surprised if Ryan's budget doesn't come up one way or the other in this process," Sessions said. Kapur reports that Sessions "praised the House budget chief's work as 'honest' and 'wonderful' but said Senate Republicans 'might have different views' on how to move forward."

    POLLING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

    On Tuesday, the NewsHour took a close look at the shift in public opinion on gay marriage, which we examined here, one week ahead of Supreme Court arguments over Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

    Gwen Ifill reported on the latest developments and spoke with Michael Dimock of the Pew Research Center and Greg Lewis of Georgia State University, who has studied the issue for decades.

    Watch the segment here or below:

    Watch Video

    Meanwhile, Roll Call's Emily Cahn outlines the political fight over House Republicans spending $3 million in taxpayer funds to defend DOMA during next week's case.

    And Chris Geidner details the confusion about marriage licenses in New Mexico.

    LINE ITEMS

    As Mr. Obama touched down in Tel Aviv on Wednesday morning, he declared, "It's in our fundamental security interest to stand with Israel," adding, "I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our two nations." The NewsHour's Margaret Warner is on the trip and will be reporting from the Middle East all week.

    Former Gov. Mark Sanford captured 37 percent of the vote in Tuesday's Republican primary battle for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District seat. A recount Friday will determine Sanford's opponent in the GOP runoff to be held in April. The winner of that contest will face Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, in the May 7 general election.

    Reid told reporters Tuesday that the gun control legislation in his chamber would be brought to the floor without the ban on assault weapons sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. "Right now, her amendment, using the most optimistic numbers, has less than 40 votes. That's not 60. I have to get something on the floor so we can have votes on that issue," Reid said.

    In Colorado on Wednesday, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is expected to sign new gun control measures passed by the legislature.

    Roll Call's Steven Dennis finds members adjusting to the reality of the sequester as the nation "shrugs" off its impacts.

    New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez's friend and donor Salomon Melgen posed for photos with Mr. Obama and flew Reid on his private jet. Politico's Ken Vogel dives in with the details.

    Politico's Manu Raju has an interesting story about "Democratic heavy-hitters -- including Bill Clinton" who are privately working to woo another candidate into the 2014 Kentucky race against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Actress Ashley Judd is mounting a bid and seems to have support, but Raju reports that Clinton and others are courting Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who does not carry the potential pitfalls that a non-politician would bring to the race.

    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. will headline a major GOP dinner in Iowa. The conservative told CNN's Wolf Blitzer Tuesday he has not made a decision on whether he will run for president in 2016.

    The Washington Post plays the semantics game with Paul, who pointedly did not use the term "citizenship" in his immigration speech Tuesday, despite clearly endorsing the concept.

    While the media waited for Paul to make his speech Tuesday morning, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., spoke optimistically at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast about the Republican softening on immigration since the election. He heralded the cooperation of Ryan and the leadership of Rep. Tim Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the Judiciary Committee's immigration subcommittee, for bringing witnesses before the committee that both sides could work with. Looking at Sen. Marco Rubio's evolution, Gutierrez sees the Florida Republican having been where Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is now on amnesty, "which gives me hope," he said.

    The Hill sees consensus emerging on a bipartisan House immigration deal.

    A new automated survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling shows former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist leading GOP Gov. Rick Scott, 52 percent to 40 percent. Scott's approval numbers among Democrats ticked up slightly over the last two months, during which time he announced his support for Medicaid expansion.

    Bloomberg profiles a new tea party super PAC that wants to get involved in GOP primaries and stick a thumb in Karl Rove's eye.

    The Boston Globe's Matt Viser sees tension flaring up over the Republican National Committee's proposed changes to the presidential primary process.

    Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren will write a book about the financial crisis and its aftermath, titled "Rigged."

    Organizing for Action has an event Wednesday with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake about the impact of the sequester on schools.

    Signifying the seriousness of the charges against Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., the House Ethics Committee has formed an investigative subcommittee to look into Andrews' use of campaign funds for personal expenses. The committee revealed that Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, is now also in their sights for potential ethics violations, which the Wall Street Journal characterizes as related to travel expenses.

    After pressing Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to condemn remarks by one of his financial backers comparing slavery to abortion, Democrats on Tuesday released video footage from last June of Cuccinelli speaking before the Family Foundation and saying that the country has reached the "right position" on slavery and abortion.

    Conan O'Brien is doing a fundraiser for Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., ahead of the former comedian's 2014 re-election bid. It's being billed as "brunch with Conan and Al."

    Mr. Obama picked Louisville, Indiana, Ohio State and Florida to advance to the Final Four in his NCAA men's bracket. In the women's tournament he has Baylor, Connecticut, Notre Dame and California.

    Roll Call posts its annual March Madness brackets for both men and women, broken down by congressional district:

    .@rollcall matched each school in the NCAA #MarchMadness bracket with its House member twitpic.com/ccqdan Play: bit.ly/Y19FZB

    — Meena (@MeenaGanesan) March 19, 2013

    .@rollcall's #marchmadness women's bracket, Congress edition, is out too. twitpic.com/ccvvfs Play here: bit.ly/WURjsu

    — Meena (@MeenaGanesan) March 20, 2013

    Sunlight rounds up fundraisers tied to March Madness.

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg blares the NewsHour while pumping iron, according to a profile of the Supreme Court's famed personal trainer.

    Archer apparently is a fan of Frontline.

    Today's tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA: Two-thirds of U.S. children breath polluted air, as defined by federal standards.

    NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

    Ten years after the first strikes in Iraq, we look at the lessons learned since the invasion. Judy spoke with New York Times reporter Michael Gordon and Washington Post editor Rajiv Chandrasekaran about the legacy left behind and perspective on the war. Watch that discussion here. Online, we're collecting your experiences, impressions and viewpoints on the war and all that came with it. Participate on Twitter with #Iraq10.

    Jeffrey Brown spoke with the National Catholic Reporter's John Allen about the message Pope Francis sent in his inaugural mass Tuesday. You can watch that discussion here and catch more of their conservation, as well as video of the pope's homily, here.

    Coordinating producer Linda J. Scott and Meena Ganesan take stock of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's recent outreach to minority groups.

    Warner blogs about Netanyahu's weakened position in Israel.

    For Lunch in the Lab, Jenny Marder breaks down Dennis Overbye's New York Times piece about discovering the Higgs Boson.

    TOP TWEETS

    Sen Portman randomly clutching a 6er of high life twitter.com/dcbigjohn/stat...

    — john r stanton (@dcbigjohn) March 19, 2013

    10 yrs ago began the long, difficult work of liberating 25 mil Iraqis. All who played a role in history deserve our respect & appreciation.

    — Donald Rumsfeld (@RumsfeldOffice) March 19, 2013

    House Science Cmte chair Lamar Smith says the smallest asteroids could "destroy an entire city in a direct hit." That's cool I'm not worried

    — Ali Weinberg (@AliNBCNews) March 19, 2013

    Talking to college kids Wed night about how WH, Congress & influence industry use the press. What would you tell them?

    — Christina Bellantoni (@cbellantoni) March 19, 2013

    Katelyn Polantz, Meena Ganesan and politics desk assistant Simon Pathe 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

    Follow @burlijiFollow @kpolantzFollow @elizsummersFollow @indiefilmfanFollow @tiffanymullonFollow @dePeystahFollow @meenaganesan

    Support Your Local PBS Station


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  • 03/20/13--06:49: The Daily Frame
  • Click to enlarge.

    David Bowie's "Starman" costume from his appearance on "Top of the Pops" in 1972 is displayed at "David Bowie is," an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The show runs Saturday through August 11 and features more than 300 objects, including instruments, handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos and set designs. Photo by Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images.


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  • 03/20/13--07:25: Around the Nation
  • Here are four arts and culture videos from public broadcasting partners around the nation.

    Off Book looks at the rise of web comics: "Moving beyond the restrictions of print, web comic artists interact directly with audiences who share their own unique worldview, and create stories that are often embedded in innovative formats only possible online. Sometimes funny, sometimes personal, and almost always weird, web comic creators have taken the comic strip form to new, mature, and artistic heights."

    Watch The Rise of Web Comics on PBS. See more from Off Book.

    From KCET's ARTBOUND, "Under the Influence: Michael Miller's L.A. Hip-Hop Photography," a look at "the go-to lensman for countless album covers and publicity stills during one of California hip-hop's most vibrant eras."

    video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

    From OPB's Art Beat, a profile of painter Matthew Dennison, whose "work combines figures and environments in unexpected ways -- such as a bear on the Bonneville Dam, or a narwhal confronting a family in a ski boat -- to re-jigger assumptions about where animals belong in our ever more human-dominated world."

    Watch Painter Matthew Dennison on PBS. See more from KOPB.

    Idea Channel asks, "Do Knock-Offs Prove the Value of a Brand" "We're willing to pay hundreds or thousands more for a specific brand name item, but sometimes it can be tempting to go the way of the knock-off for a fraction of the price. The counterfeit industry is huge and isn't going anywhere, and companies spend huge amounts to dissuade people from buying "fakes". But are knock-offs REALLY a negative for the brand?"

    Watch Do Knock-Offs Prove the Value of a Brand? on PBS. See more from Idea Channel.


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    Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

    The roller coaster often starts in the middle of the night with a long-distance phone call. "Miss Bowser," the caller begins tentatively. "It's about your Mother."

    And that's how my chaotic ride through the years of taking care of Mom got going. It ended 10 years later when she died at the age of 90.

    Throughout this downward spiral of life, I had power of attorney, giving me responsibility for all major decisions about her medical care, her money and ultimately how she died.

    It was a journey through what the policy people call long-term care. And it was painful.

    I exhausted her life savings of $200,000 in just a few short years paying for a one-room apartment and three meals a day in a retirement home.

    I sold her house, many of her precious antiques and I uprooted her from her beloved Tidewater, Va., where she had spent more than 80 years. At one point I packed up her things, loaded them onto a U-Haul and drove her across country to an assisted living facility near where I lived in Colorado.

    Many doctors, numerous hospital stays and a few years later, I packed her up again. But this time all she needed where she was going was clothing.

    My mother had the distinction of finally being broke enough to qualify for Medicaid. It's a government program that pays for 24-hour-a-day care in a nursing home. To her credit, she kept a stiff upper lip.

    But I kept thinking: here was a woman who had survived the Great Depression and World War II. All the money she and my dad had saved in 40-plus years of marriage was gone.

    And she was now spending her final days in a place where most of the residents were suffering from dementia, wore diapers and often could not distinguish one day from the next. The food was disgusting and the medical care was terrible.

    Now that it's over and I have had two years of hindsight, I can console myself in knowing that there are LOTS of Americans out there like me. They're well-meaning. They love their parents. But they find out quickly that the current state of long-term care for the elderly is complicated and unfriendly -- unless you have a money tree growing in the back yard.

    The experts say that in just a few short years, as the population of baby boomers retires, long-term care of the elderly will become a national crisis. In fact, it's estimated that 70 percent of Americans who reach the age of 65 will need some kind of long-term care for at least three years during their lifetime.

    But Dr. Bruce Chernof -- president and CEO of the SCAN Foundation, which focuses on senior issues -- says this doesn't have to be a crisis if Americans commit themselves to a national dialogue on long-term care and do it now.

    Chernof was recently appointed to a commission created by Congress that will make recommendations to lawmakers about how to address the nation's long-term care crisis. And in a series of papers released Wednesday, the SCAN Foundation detailed the depth of the current problem and highlighted some potential solutions.

    I spoke with him about his thoughts on these issues earlier this week.

    Betty Ann Bowser: First of all, Dr. Chernof, thank you so much for being with us today.

    Dr. Bruce Chernof: Thank you so much for inviting me.

    Betty Ann Bowser: Let's start generally. What exactly falls under the category of long-term care?

    Dr. Bruce Chernof: It's a good question because long-term care in many people's minds is a nursing home. In 2013, that's just not the case anymore. For the vast majority of folks, what this means is long-term services and supports that can be delivered in the home or in a community setting. Most people don't understand that 70 percent of us -- when we're over the age of 65 -- will need some form of long-term services and support. That could be a nursing home, but more than likely it will be in the community. And on average, we'll need that for three years. So all of us should be planning for this.

    Betty Ann Bowser: What does something like that cost?

    Dr. Bruce Chernof: The average nursing home today costs about $81,000 a year. And part-time help at home and in the community is in the range of $21-$22,000 a year. So it's not insignificant.

    Betty Ann Bowser: Where in the world would the average American family lay their hands on $81,000 dollars?

    Dr. Bruce Chernof: Well that's why we think this discussion is so important. People need to plan, and we think planning needs to come in two forms. First, we all need to be aware that we will likely have needs as we age, and we should be talking to our family about them. We should all want to live with independence, dignity and choice. We should be able to talk about those things so that our friends and family know how to help us think and plan.

    The other piece, which is what you're alluding to, is that we need to plan financially. And sadly, there really aren't that many tools out there right now for American families. There's a very large misperception that Medicare pays for this. But these are not services provided by Medicare in the long-term, and families are left with few other choices. For some folks, purchasing long-term care insurance is an option, but it is expensive. So for many people, they have to rely on other resources or savings. That's why we think new tools are really necessary for American families.

    Betty Ann Bowser: What happens to a family when one of their loved ones who is elderly gets really sick, and they need all this care? They have their life-savings in the bank, and they need long-term care. What happens?

    Dr. Chernof: Well, what happens to many of those families, actually, is that they spend through those resources. They've waited too long to buy long-term care insurance, so it's not available to them because they're either too ill or it's too expensive -- relative to the other expenses in their day-to-day lives. And so for most individuals, what it means is they end up having to spend those resources or savings to pay for various needs -- it could be in the community, it could be in a nursing home.

    Betty Ann Bowser: What exactly is the role of Medicaid in all of this, once the money has run out. Then the government picks up the tab for their care?

    Dr. Chernoff: That's correct. Once you spend down to the point of qualifying for Medicaid, the government then picks up the costs of long-term care needs. Now for most older individuals, they'll still have their Medicare, as well. Medicare generally pays for the acute care components that you have. But when it comes to those long-term care needs, extended time in a nursing home, or extended community needs, those are often paid for by Medicaid.

    Unfortunately, the Medicaid program was built in a different time and place. And while many states are working to re-balance their services and make more services available in the home and the community, for many folks, the only option may be in a nursing home.

    Betty Ann Bowser: How common is it for a family to have to spend down their resources almost entirely before they qualify for Medicaid?

    Dr. Bruce Chernof: It's actually very common -- far more common than people understand. And most families are not well-prepared, particularly right now, because we've gone through this incredible economic downturn. And for many seniors who've been living on a fixed income, whatever savings they've had have not kept up and/or are not delivering the kind of day-to-day income that they need to live. People are actually spending their savings, because, for example, they're not generating enough income off their savings.

    The other observation that's really important is that for many seniors, their most valuable asset may be their home. And home prices in many parts of the country -- while they're starting to improve -- are still underwater. And so that really important nest-egg that might have been a reserve is less strong today than it was a few years ago. So the likelihood for spending down goes up dramatically. And not just for folks who are close to being poor, but for middle-income folks who just aren't prepared for the enormous cost that long-term care can bring.

    Betty Ann Bowser: If you own a home, does Medicaid require that the home be sold?

    Dr. Bruce Chernof: No, generally not. There is a limited number of assets a family can keep, and homes are generally not something that have to be sold, because you might have a spouse or others living in that home.

    Betty Ann Bowser: One of the options that could be made available to people is long-term care insurance, but you seem to be implying that hasn't worked very well.

    Dr. Bruce Chernof: Well, it hasn't to date for a variety of reasons. Let me start by saying: I do think the insurance model is a good one in this space, because we know that many people will have a need in the future, and there's enough known about how much need is out there that it should be what we call an "insurable risk." We ought to be able to get to the place where there is good insurance and good tools. But we haven't been able to do that so far, and I think that's true for a couple of reasons.

    One, there needs to be broad uptake on long-term care insurance. It needs to be affordable and accessible. Long-term care insurance tends to appeal to a fairly narrow audience, and it tends to be fairly expensive. It's also really important that we have products out there that people trust and believe will be out there when they need it. There have been concerns that "I'm buying a product today that I may not need for 20 years" and "Will it actually be there, will it be flexible enough and will it cover my needs?"

    So while I do think that long-term care insurance is a good concept, we're still not quite there in having the kinds of products out there, the kinds of tools out there that are accessible and available to most American families.

    Betty Ann Bowser: Is this the kind of situation that most people just don't really think about until the last minute ... until they realize they've got a crisis on their hands of monumental proportions that could go on for years?

    Dr. Bruce Chernof: Sadly, for many of us, that's how this discussion begins, with an unexpected phone call, and sometimes a very unpleasant surprise. Somebody goes home for Thanksgiving and discovers Mom or Dad is very different than the last time they were home. We've got lots of families spread across the country, and that usual check-in call sounds OK, and then you get home and find things that you never expected to find ... And between those kinds of events, and the middle-of-the-night phone call when you know, "Mom fell" or "Dad had a stroke in the middle of the night that no one saw." That sets off a chain reaction that many families are not prepared for.

    So that gets back to our earlier discussion about the two forms of planning we all need to be engaged in. One is family planning so that we're talking about the dignity and choice and independence that we all want, and how we want that expressed in our lives, expressed in our health care. We also need to make sure there are tools to help families so they can prepare for those needs financially.

    Betty Ann Bowser: What do you think the role of government should be in all of this? You've just been appointed to a commission that's going to be looking into this issue and making recommendations ...

    Dr. Bruce Chernof: So, I think the work of the commission will be very, very important. I think among us, we have the obligation to come up with a small handful of pragmatic policy options that can help move this discussion forward. And when I say pragmatic, I mean that they have the opportunity to generate bipartisan support. Because vulnerable aging is not a partisan issue. It's going to happen to all of us, regardless of what we believe along the political spectrum.

    So I see public policy maybe helping to clear some of the challenges that have existed in creating low-cost, viable products. Helping to think about ways to create better access to those low-cost products through work or other kinds of choice options. And finally, I think there's a real need for public policy to help educate people about the fact that we're all going to get to this place where we might need a little bit of help in our lives. And it really isn't about the scary discussion of "you could end up in a nursing home." It's the positive discussion that for all of us, a little bit of help may be necessary. And we're going to want some say and control over that, and we need tools to make that possible.

    Betty Ann Bowser: But do you think policymakers will ever make a substantive move on this? They've tried many times before and have gotten nowhere.

    Dr. Bruce Chernof: I think for all elected officials in Washington, it should be a high priority. Because I firmly believe that you can't solve the entitlement challenges in front of us without taking on this question of helping people plan for their functional needs as they age. The reality is that the medical system will always be the nightlight for people when something happens in their lives and when things spin out of control. So when things don't go well in the middle of the night, the light's always on in the emergency room. And solving these needs on the backs of the medical or Social Security system alone will never get us there. So if we're serious about thinking about reimagining the entitlements that we currently have so they're sustainable, we need to create an avenue to plan for these needs.

    Betty Ann Bowser: You say in a report that the SCAN Foundation is releasing this week that time's running out on this issue, and if anything meaningful is to be done, it needs to be done in the next five years. Why five years?

    Dr. Bruce Chernof: The time is now. For those who might doubt that point, and say, "Every five or 10 years, we have a discussion about long-term care, and generally not a lot has come of it, and you know, the sky hasn't fallen. Is this just another Chicken Little debate that we're having here?" And the answer is no, for a few very important reasons.

    First, a new tool set needs to be available, and it needs to be available to people that are working so they have enough time to participate, to save, to create a large enough insurance pool to be able to manage the kinds of risks people will face over time. You need enough time to build the product, get the product out there and give folks the time to pay into it -- whatever it is. I'm not presupposing any kind of particular product. And five years is about as fast as anyone could imagine doing that.

    The idea is that we have so many boomers who are nearing retirement. If you wait more than five years, the majority of boomers will either be retired or be within five to seven years of retirement and it will be hard for them to save. They will then need to use the currently available mechanisms, Medicare and Medicaid or some form of long-term care insurance.

    The other reason is the demography of the country is really changing. We are going to reach a point where there are going to be many fewer workers. Families are going to be smaller, there are going to be fewer people to rely on to do that caregiving for Mom or Dad as we watch the boomers move through their retirement and into their older age.

    So the opportunity is now to put in place some solutions and still leave enough time for them to have really meaningful impact on people and their families.

    Betty Ann Bowser: What happens if nothing meaningful is done in five years?

    Dr. Bruce Chernof: I think we will have more of the same, meaning we will continue to watch people spend down in a period of time when people are likely to have fewer resources and needing to use the Medicaid system, which will be incredibly difficult, predominantly on states, because states pay such a huge portion of the Medicaid bill. But also on the federal government because they pay the other half of the puzzle. And ultimately on taxpayers, because we're all paying for that.

    Then the other observation I'd make, when things don't go well, the first stop is usually the emergency room -- and the second stop is upstairs in the hospital. And that's a very expensive way to solve problems. And hospitals are not the safest places in the world for older people. We know that. So we will then leverage the Medicare system, which is really built predominately for acute care issues, to solve these dysfunctions in people's lives because of functional needs, as opposed to medical needs. Again, not a very efficient use of resources.

    So I worry that we will put incredible strains on both the Medicare and Medicaid programs in ways that they were never built to address in their original creation. I think that's the risk of not taking action now.

    Betty Ann Bowser: Can you see a day coming when all of these folks needing all this long-term care could literally collapse the Medicaid system?

    Dr. Bruce Chernof: Well, I think that's the risk that's out there. I think we as a country would never stand for turning our backs on the most vulnerable elderly. But I do think it would create a great reckoning and very, very hard choices would need to be made in ways that most Americans can't imagine right now. And I don't think that in the long-term, just having this rest on the back of Medicaid -- the way it's currently constructed and with the current set of tools out there -- is sustainable.

    Betty Ann Bowser: Thank you, Dr. Chernoff, so much for joining us.

    Dr. Bruce Chernof: Thanks so much for covering this. I hope that this is the beginning of an important discussion for your audience -- for themselves and their own families -- and that the nation as a whole pays more attention to this as we go through the entitlement debates in front of us.

    For more Medicaid coverage, visit NewsHour's Health page.

    Follow @BettyAnnBowser

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    Watch Video Hari Sreenivasan interviews Joanne Davies about her plans to trek across Antarctica and finish what Sir Ernest Shackleton started.

    Next year marks the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton's historic, ill-fated and ultimately failed expedition to become the first person to traverse Antarctica. Shackleton's team was just 85 miles from the continent's Vahsel Bay in 1914, when the ship became trapped and then crushed by thick pack ice surrounding the continent. After nearly a year spent on the ship, and a series of exploits to escape, he managed to save his entire crew despite dwindling supplies.

    And though he never completed the journey, Shackleton's leadership in the face of some of the most brutal conditions imaginable went on to inspire a generation of adventurers ahead of him.

    One of those adventurers is Joanne Davies, who plans to honor her childhood idol by leading an expedition on skis to complete his historic route. If successful, she'll be the first person ever to do so. The route will begin at the Weddell Sea, traverse the South Pole and end at the Ross Sea.

    But the road ahead is a difficult one. NewsHour correspondent Hari Sreenivasan interviewed Davies recently about the arduous journey, which will require dragging 300-pound sleds filled with food and gear across more than 1,700 miles of icy plateaus.

    Antarctica

    The team has been in Norway practicing their kite skiing -- on which they will rely heavily during their journey -- and dragging 50-pound tires attached to rope wrapped around their waists -- to simulate carrying their immense packs.

    All told, the trip is expected to take about 85 days. Along the way they will face treacherous terrain and temperatures below minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit. At those temperatures, exposed skin freezes in minutes.

    Still, Davies hopes her latest challenge will be a fitting tribute to a man she grew up admiring. In our interview, she explained how Shackleton's courage even in the face of failure helped shape her own career.

    "He was such a great leader, a real hero of mine," she said. "I felt it was quite sad that he hadn't done what he set out to do. It was unfinished business, and I'd like to do his unfinished business for him."

    Photo credit: Joanne Davies is training to lead a trek across the Antarctic continent. Photo by NOVA.

    For more coverage, visit NewsHour's science page.

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    Silicon Valley entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa discovers that the famed "meritocracy" of Silicon Valley is a myth and that women are systematically discriminated against there, despite the fact that they're more productive, on average, than their male counterparts. He has a plan to change the Valley.

    Paul Solman: Silicon Valley entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa is a widely heard voice on the value of immigration for the U.S. economy. We first featured him a year ago in "Man v. Machine," a story on the automation of work and did so again on this page last fall on the threat posed by a programmable robot named Baxter.

    An immigrant himself (from India), Wadhwa used to think Silicon Valley was a a paragon of open access: talent like his would inevitably prevail. But he has been writing and speaking lately about the Valley's "myth of meritocracy." All, he realized, was not as it seemed, and he followed up his dawning disillusionment with research, which he will publish soon. But his findings seemed so noteworthy, I asked if he would share them with us at the NewsHour. And so he has.

    Vivek Wadhwa: Visit any company in the Valley, and you'll see that it resembles the United Nations. At the Google cafeteria, they always serve Indian, Chinese and Mexican food; hamburgers and hot dogs are nowhere to be found. Indeed, my research team documented that 52 percent of startups in Silicon Valley during the recent tech boom were founded by immigrants -- like me. So I used to call Silicon Valley the world's greatest meritocracy.

    This was before I moved to the Valley and my wife pointed out something strange: that practically all of the people at Silicon Valley's big networking events were male. They were mostly white, Indian, or Chinese. Women, blacks and Hispanics were nowhere to be found. When I analyzed company founder data from the Kauffman Foundation, I was shocked to learn that only 3 percent of the tech firms were founded by women. When I looked at the executive teams of the Valley's top tech firms, with a couple of notable exceptions, I couldn't find any women technology heads. Even the management team of Apple didn't have a single woman in it. And I learned that virtually all of Silicon Valley's venture-capital firms are male dominated -- the few women whom you find there are in either marketing or human resources. Indeed, of the 89 venture capitalists on the 2009 TheFunded list of top venture capitalists, only one was a woman.

    So I was wrong; this is no meritocracy.

    Since then, I have researched this topic in greater depth. When I analyzed data from my own studies on entrepreneurship, I was surprised to learn that there is virtually no difference in motivation between men and women entrepreneurs. Women start companies for the same reasons as men: because they want to build wealth and capitalize on business ideas, like the startup-company culture and are tired of working for others. Women entrepreneurs are as highly educated as their male counterparts, have the same early interest in starting their own business and learn the same valuable lessons from their work experience and from prior successes and failures.

    This raised the question: Are women less competent as entrepreneurs than men? Are they not cut out for the rough-and-tumble world of entrepreneurship? The answer turned out to be none of this. An analysis performed by the Kauffman Foundation showed that women are more capital-efficient than men. Babson College's Global Entrepreneurship Monitor found that women-led high-tech startups have lower failure rates than those led by men. Other research has shown that venture-backed companies run by women have annual revenues 12 percent higher than those by men and organizations that are the most inclusive of women in top management positions achieve a 35 percent higher return on equity and 34 percent higher total return to shareholders.

    Could the education of women be the problem? Not according to data from the National Science Foundation. Girls now match boys in mathematical achievement. In the U.S., 140 women enroll in higher education for every 100 men who do. Women earn more than 50 percent of all bachelor's and master's degrees, and nearly 50 percent of all doctorates. Women participation in business and MBA programs has grown more than five-fold since the 1970s, and the increase in the number of engineering degrees granted to women is almost tenfold.

    This shows that there isn't a fundamental problem, and that things are moving in the right direction. I have also interviewed about 300 women in tech over the past three years, and my research team at Stanford University recently completed a survey of more than 500 women founders. We are still analyzing the complex findings (and will likely publish a paper in the summer). At a glance, though, the new research shows a distinct change in attitudes over time. Women are becoming more confident and assertive, and they are helping each other. Men are also beginning to mentor and coach women.

    That's not all. Many technologies are now advancing exponentially. We all know how computing is advancing -- our computers get more powerful every year as prices drop. The same is happening in fields such as robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, nanomaterials, medicine, and synthetic biology. This is making it possible for small teams to do what was once possible only for governments and large corporations to do: solve big problems. Starting exponential companies requires relatively small amounts of money, and entrepreneurs with cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills have the advantage. This plays to the strengths of women: they are in the catbird seat for the new era of innovation.

    To encourage, inspire and educate women to become engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs -- and help solve humanity's grand challenges, I am myself taking advantage of an exponential technology: crowdsourcing. I plan to harness the genius of the crowd to produce a book about women at the frontier of technology. Along with journalist and author Farai Chediya and my lead researcher Neesha Bapat, we are planning to ask hundreds -- possibly thousands -- of women to co-author this book with us. We will presell the book on a crowdfunding site such as Indiegogo and donate all of the profits to fund the tuition of women through the Graduate Studies Program at Singularity University and to support women-led startups coming out of this program. This is a 10-week program designed for leaders who want to build innovative solutions to global grand challenges.

    So Silicon Valley may not have been the perfect meritocracy, but there is hope that it will soon be, and that our women may save the world. Vivek Wadhwa is Vice President of Research and Innovation at Singularity University, a fellow at Stanford Law School, and Director of Research at Duke University. He is also the author of an Economist Book of the Year for 2012--Immigrant Exodus. You can follow him on Twitter: @wadhwa.

    This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown -- NewsHour's blog of news and insight. Follow @paulsolman


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  • 03/20/13--14:53: On the PBS NewsHour Tonight
  • On Wednesday's NewsHour:

    President Obama kicked off a four-day trip to the Middle East, reaffirming U.S. support for Israel

    Were chemical weapons used in the Syrian war?

    An update on gun-control legislation

    An E.R. doctor's stories of health and poverty

    Plus, the shift to video online

    While the above promo is written for the radio in the morning, it is a tentative snapshot of what we're covering on the show. With the ebb and flow of news headlines, chances are segments will be added, scrapped or moved to another night.

    Tune in to the broadcast at 6 p.m. ET, online and on-air.

    Follow @NewsHour

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    Photo by Bloomberg

    As audiences spend more time watching television online and as websites such as Netflix develop shows like "House of Cards" streamed only to the Internet, one thing is clear: Broadband is redefining the landscape for how people are consuming -- and producing -- entertainment.

    Wednesday on the NewsHour, correspondent Hari Sreenivasan kicks off a three-part series, looking at the implications high-speed broadband will have over time.

    In part one, Hari speaks with New York Times reporter Brian Stelter -- whose recent article compared made-for-the-net television and network programs -- and Maker Studio co-founder Lisa Donavan, a star in her own right on YouTube, about the evolving format of content creation and distribution.

    We're asking: How is broadband reshaping your entertainment time? Do you view T.V. shows, films and video games online or on television? Consider this an open thread and tell us in the comments below.

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    GWEN IFILL: On the first foreign trip of his second term, President Obama today reassured Israelis of his commitment to the nation and renewed warnings to Iran and Syria. 

    We begin our coverage with a report from Margaret Warner, who is on the ground there. 

    MARGARET WARNER: It was all sunshine and smiles as the president arrived on a sparkling day outside Tel Aviv, his tense, occasionally stormy relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu set aside as he began his first presidential visit to Israel. 

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: How are you?

    PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israel: Good to see you. 

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good. Thank you so much.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Good to see you here.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: It's wonderful to be here. 

    MARGARET WARNER: The apparent goodwill led to a moment of levity about a deadly serious issue topping the agenda: the U.S. and Israel's differing views on how to confront Iran's advancing nuclear program and what should be the trigger for military action against it. 

    ISRAELI OFFICER: You hear about “red lines” all the time, right? 

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Bibi's always talking about red lines. 

    This is all a psychological ploy.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: This was minutely planned.

    MARGARET WARNER: Netanyahu famously set his red line for action against Iran's progress toward a bomb at the U.N. last fall. Iran maintains its nuclear program is solely for peaceful energy production. 

    The president viewed a missile battery of the Iron Dome defense system heavily financed by the U.S., which knocked scores of rockets from the sky during Israel's brief November war with Gaza. The president's remarks were heavy with allusions to millennia of Jewish history in the Holy Land and a nod to the broad purposes of his trip. 

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Across this region, the winds of change bring both promise and peril. So I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate America's unwavering commitment to Israel's security, and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors. 

    MARGARET WARNER: He was referring to another focus of this visit, to listen to what Israeli and Palestinian leaders say they're willing to do to revive the stalled peace process between them. 

    Later, at a press conference at the prime minister's Jerusalem residence, the president was asked about yesterday's reports of a possible chemical weapons attack in northern Syria. Mr. Obama said last year that if the regime used such weapons, that would cross a red line of a different sort. 

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I have instructed my teams to work closely with all other countries in the region and international organizations and institutions to find out precisely whether or not this red line was crossed. 

    I will note, without at this point having all the facts before me, that we know the Syrian government has the capacity to carry out chemical weapon attacks. We know that there are those in the Syrian government who have expressed a willingness to use chemical weapons if necessary to protect themselves. 

    I am deeply skeptical of any claim that in fact it was the opposition that used chemical weapons. The broader point is, is that once we establish the facts, I have made clear that the use of chemical weapons is a game changer. 

    MARGARET WARNER: Both leaders spoke extensively about Iran and about the different timetables the countries are on for possible military action to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon. Mr. Obama said he thinks there is still time for diplomacy, but added:

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Each country has to make its own decisions when it comes to the awesome decision to engage in any kind of military action. 

    And Israel is differently situated than the United States. And I wouldn't expect that the prime minister would make a decision about his country's security and defer that to any other country, any more than the United States would defer our decisions about what was important for our national security. 

    MARGARET WARNER: Netanyahu was asked if he agreed with Mr. Obama's comment to Israeli television last week that Iran was over a year from having a nuclear weapon. 

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: If Iran decides to go for a nuclear weapon, that is, to actually manufacture the weapon, then it probably -- then it will take them about a year. I think that's correct. 

    Iran right now is enriching uranium. It's pursuing it. It hasn't yet reached the red line that I had described in my speech at the U.N. In any case, Iran gets to an immunity zone when they get through the enrichment process, in our view, in our view. And whatever time is left, there's not a lot of time. 

    MARGARET WARNER: The president continues his trip tomorrow to the West Bank to speak with Palestinian leaders, then back to deliver a speech in Jerusalem. 

    GWEN IFILL: I spoke with Margaret a short while ago. 

    Margaret, it's good to see you. 

    This is the president's first foreign visit of his second term. Why Israel and why now? 

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, that's a good question, Gwen, because, as I think we all know from the campaign, President Obama never did visit Israel as president and got quite a bit of criticism and question about that. 

    So the White House and the president decided this was the perfect time to come to demonstrate -- the number one purpose of this trip was to demonstrate to the Israeli public and to Prime Minister Netanyahu that the U.S. does have Israel's interest at heart and, as the president said himself today, that the U.S. has Israel's back. 

    And the reason that's important is because President Obama really needs to work together with Prime Minister Netanyahu on two particularly difficult issues. One is how to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and the other is what to do about the fallout from this conflict in Syria. In addition, the president would like to advance the will Israeli-Palestinian piece process.

    And, again, he would need Prime Minister Netanyahu for that. But, above all, the White House and the president calculate that if he can move Israeli public opinion about him from its deeply unfavorable view now -- only 10 percent in a poll last week have a favorable poll of the president. 38 percent think he's hostile to Israel -- but if he can move that and have the Israeli people trust him more, it will be easier for Netanyahu to cooperate with the president and actually harder for Netanyahu to confront or oppose the president. 

    GWEN IFILL: Netanyahu actually is just forming his new government. The president is just starting his second term. They both have some domestic limitations on their minds, haven't they? 

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, they have, Gwen. 

    The president and Prime Minister Netanyahu both have had difficult situations at home politically, as we know from the president and Prime Minister Netanyahu as well here, with all the different parties in his government. That said, his new government is not really -- doesn't give him in fact even as much freedom to maneuver as he had last time. 

    So there was a sort of funny remark at the end when Prime Minister Netanyahu commented really on a question the president had been asked about, well, why didn't you make much progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front in your first term or why didn't you all work better together, or words to that effect. 

    And Prime Minister Netanyahu said something like, well, for this, you need a second term as president and a third term as prime minister. And both of these men, I think, see that for legacy-building that, again, if they can work together, they can accomplish a lot more than having this headbutting that they had at times in their -- in the president's first term. 

    GWEN IFILL: And it seemed today watching the two of them that they were getting along a little bit better. 

    Let me ask you about the first thing that Benjamin Netanyahu said and the first question the president got. First was about Iran, and the first question the president got was about Syria. These are two big looming questions, especially for Israel, which they see, it seems, as a more immediate problem than often the U.S. has indicated. 

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, I think with Prime Minister Netanyahu -- and the president acknowledged that -- it's almost -- I mean, it's much more in the neighborhood of Iran. Let's take Iran first, but that it's really because of Israel's less-developed military capabilities that, if military action needs to be taken -- and the prime minister made clear today Israel is not going to subcontract its security out to anyone -- that it has a shorter window to act. 

    That said, they also actually have a difference on when the point will come at which Iran will be so far along with the number of centrifuges it has and enriched uranium that no one can stop it from getting a nuclear weapon. In other words, a moment will come in which Iran can say we're leaving the IAEA, close its doors, and that it would take three weeks. 

    So, one, yes, there's a difference based on more vulnerability here in Israel, but also they actually have a difference about how good even U.S. intelligence is to know when that moment comes for both of them. 

    On Syria, they're actually a lot closer. Both -- neither one is calling for greater intervention right now. You don't hear Netanyahu calling on the United States to get in there with troops. They both are deeply concerned about the chemical weapons. The president has said it's the use of chemical weapons he's most concerned about in the past. 

    Today, he moved closer. He embraced the prime minister's view, which is, we are also deeply concerned or we would consider essentially it a red line the transfer of nuclear weapons. And that, of course, is what Israel is worried about, that right next door, if Hezbollah, its sworn enemy, next door in Lebanon get these weapons, there will be hell to pay for Israel. 

    GWEN IFILL: And we will be talking more about Syria later in the broadcast.

    Margaret Warner, thank you. 

    JEFFREY BROWN: Tomorrow, Margaret reports on President Obama's trip to the West Bank and his meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. 


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    HARI SREENIVASAN:  The Federal Reserve stood by its aggressive plan to stimulate the U.S. economy, keeping short-term interest rates at record lows.  And it said there are signs the economy is getting stronger.  One of those signs, unemployment, fell to a four-year low of 7.7 percent in February.

    Still, the Fed predicted it won't reach 6.5 percent until 2015. 

    The Fed and its chairman, Ben Bernanke, also had words of caution for Congress. 

    BEN BERNANKE, Federal Reserve Chairman:  I do believe that long-term fiscal stability is extremely important.  And I urge Congress and the administration, as I always do when I go to testify, to do whatever is necessary to put us on a sustainable fiscal path going forward.  But, in doing so, I think it's a good idea to pay attention to the impacts in the near term on what is still not a completely satisfactory recovery. 

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  Congress moved a step closer to advancing a spending bill that would keep the federal government running through September.  The Senate passed the legislation this afternoon along bipartisan lines.  The measure funds the day-to-day operating budgets of every Cabinet agency, gives $87 billion dollars to fund overseas military programs and keeps a pay freeze for federal workers.  The House is expected to vote on the bill tomorrow. 

    Markets on Wall Street responded well to the Fed statement.  The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 56 points to close above 1,4511.  The Nasdaq rose 25 points to close at 3,254. 

    European markets rebounded today from a three-day losing streak, amid hopes Cyprus will raise funds to qualify for a Eurozone bailout.  Yesterday, the Cypriot parliament rejected a bill to tax bank deposits.  Today, lawmakers crafted a plan B. 

    We have a report from Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News. 

    JONATHAN RUGMAN, Independent Television News:  Why would the finance minister of a sun-kissed island be braving Moscow's weather?  Because he's desperate for money.  Mr. Sarris came begging here for around $5 billion euros, and he doesn't intend to leave without it. 

    MICHALIS SARRIS, Finance Minister of Cyprus:  There was no offers, nothing concrete.  We are continuing discussions.  We are happy with a good beginning and we are looking forward to continuing these discussions over the next few hours. 

    JONATHAN RUGMAN:  And while the Cypriots have flown to Russia, the Russians have flown to Cyprus, their executive jets on the hunt for money perhaps, theirs, in a country where cash points still work, even if the banks behind them don't.  These banks are not set to reopen until next Tuesday.  Any dash for cash, and they could collapse. 

    PHIDIAS PILIDES, Cyprus Chamber of Commerce:  Cyprus is facing on the economic side a question of survival. 

    JONATHAN RUGMAN:  Even the Orthodox Church has joined the scramble for a solution.  The island's archbishop today told the president he would put the church's vast property portfolio up as collateral.  Yet, this is a government running out of time, and in the absence of an agreed financial lifeline, possibly the first to leave the Eurozone. 

    HARI SREENIVASAN:  German Chancellor Angela Merkel said today she is looking for a way to work with Cyprus.  The European Central Bank warned it would have to pull the plug on a bailout unless Cyprus can make a quick decision. 

    In South Korea, a suspected cyber-attack caused networks at major banks and top television broadcasters to crash simultaneously today.  The attack paralyzed bank machines across the country.  Some were down for more than seven hours and customers couldn't use their debit and credit cards.  There was no claim of responsibility and North Korea made no comment about the attack.  Last week, the North accused the U.S. and South Korea of a cyber-attack that shut down its Web sites for two days. 

    A new government estimate puts the number of schoolchildren with autism at one in 50.  Officials from the Centers for Disease Control said this number relies on parents who report their child's disorder.  The figure comes from a nationwide phone survey of 95,000 parents of children of all ages in 2011 and 2012.  An earlier government estimate of one in 88 came from a study that used medical and school records.  But it focused on 14 states and only on children who were eight years old. 

    A deadly type of acute leukemia may have a chance at remission from cell therapy.  The journal "Science Translational Medicine" published the findings today.  The treatment is experimental and has only been used on five adult patients whose bodies resisted chemotherapy.  The treatment genetically alters a patient's own immune cells to fight the cancer.  One patient saw all traces of his leukemia disappear within eight days of treatment.  And three of the five patients have now been in remission for five to 24 months. 

    General Motors announced a recall of 27,000 vehicles because of problems with their automatic transmissions.  The recall affects the 2013 models of Buick's full-size LaCrosse cars and Cadillac SRX crossover SUV.  GM cited a software problem that could cause the transmission to shift to sport mode and increase the risk of a crash, although none have been reported. 


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    JEFFREY BROWN:  We continue our focus on the Middle East with a deeper look at the question of chemical weapons and their possible use in Syria. 

    I'm joined by Leonard Spector, deputy director of the Monterey Institute's Center for Nonproliferation, and David Ignatius, foreign affairs columnist for the Washington Post. 

    David, I want to start with you.  And tell us what is known and not known about the possible use.  What do we know about these incidents? 

    DAVID IGNATIUS, The Washington Post:  Yesterday, the Free Syrian Army, the rebel military group, began telling U.S. officials that they had reports of victims of two attacks in Syria, one location in the north near Aleppo, another location in Damascus. 

    And they began counting the numbers coming into hospitals for treatment.  In the north, the numbers were larger.  They talked about 54 in the initial report, 14 of them dead on arrival, a smaller number in Damascus.  They have added more details today.  I talked to the Free Syrian Army officials I'm in contact with. 

    The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, senior U.S. official, has said publicly that he believes there is a high probability that there were chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, as claimed by the rebels, and we now have President Obama saying he is studying the information.  It's not clear how those studies will be done since the sites are remote. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Well, that's your question.  How do we monitor these things?  We have heard different things now, the Israelis saying one thing, the -- Ambassador Ford, U.S. Ambassador Ford today was saying there's no evidence so far.  So, how does one monitor it? 

    LEONARD SPECTOR, Monterey Institute's Center for Nonproliferation :  Well, first, I think you want to observe the victims, see what they have experienced.  There are still some that are alive and were brought to the hospital with wounds. 

    So you will have a chance to interview them if the hospitals are within a location where the Free Syrian Army can get to them, which it sounds like they are.  And of course I imagine there are agents of friendly countries in the area who might have the opportunity to do those interviews. 

    A lot would also depend on the kind of weapon that might have used to deliver the chemicals.  If it was a Scud missile, that sort of signals it's going to be the Syrian government.  If it's something like an artillery shell, it could be ambiguous.  And, of course, the Syrian government has called for an investigation with a neutral international group.  So, that suggests that they are at least claiming nothing has happened that they're responsible for. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  And when we say chemical weapons, is there a range of -- what are we talking about?  Is there a range of things that are more or less dangerous that would fall in that category? 

    LEONARD SPECTOR:  Well, the nerve gas is sarin and V.X., which we know they have sarin -- we think they may have V.X., which is a more persistent nerve agent -- are quite deadly. 

    But if you have got a very small dose, as may have happened, you would have some very nasty symptoms, but you might survive, and this may be what we're observing.  If it's mustard, it's blisters.  I don't think any of the photographs we saw showed that.  And most of the individuals that we saw were on some kind of respirator, suggesting if something of this occurred, it may have been sarin. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  So the president said the investigation is going on to see if they can confirm this.  He talked again about it being -- the use of chemical weapons being a game changer, talked about that red line.  What is going on behind the scenes in terms of preparations if it in fact turns out to have been chemical weapons? 

    DAVID IGNATIUS:  The obvious answer is that we don't know, that the preparations are and have been secret. 

    I should just note, on the question of fact, my sources in the Free Syrian Army say they believe the attack in the Damascus area was sarin and that they're less sure about the other.  And I have heard from U.S. government sources that they think it's possible that the casualties in these attacks might have been much greater if the weapons had performed as they were supposed to have. 

    There's a problem, always, in dispersing chemical weapon agents.  It's not so easy to disseminate them.  So, it's thought that the casualty total might have been much larger.  On your question of what the U.S. is going to do about it, obviously, the question for the president is what do you do when the red line that you have drawn is crossed, if you get the evidence to confirm that? 

    We have been making military preparations to go in and, with U.S. allies, secure the chemical weapons stocks that are in Syria to the extent that that's possible, but that's a big military operation.  I would think the other thing that the U.S. is doing, probably right now, is talking to Russia, which has also said use of chemical weapons in Syria -- Syria is an ally of Russia -- is unacceptable. 

    So, I would think that's the first stop, is talk to the Russians. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  And this, we have talked about on this program before.  Just remind us.  How large is this stockpile?  How difficult would it be to go in and secure it? 

    LEONARD SPECTOR:  Well, it's vast, because it was intended for military use against foreign troops.  So, typically that's, you know, hundreds, maybe thousands of tons of chemical agent dispersed at a number of sites, and these sites are still under Syrian government control. 

    So it's not as if we could arrive on the scene and they would say, yes, you may take these over and protect the sites.  They may fight to hold on to them.  So the options for us are not so immediately obvious.  One thing that will certainly happen is that if this was a chemical weapon attack, we will be going out to get as much evidence as we possibly can to make a convincing international case that time for action has come and to convince the Russians and others. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  What about this question, the charge by the Syrian government that it was in fact the rebels?  Is anybody taking that seriously? 

    DAVID IGNATIUS:  I haven't heard anybody take it seriously.  It's a somewhat implausible charge. 

    There's no evidence that the rebels have obtained access to chemical weapon stockpiles in Syria.  I think what this will do is push the debate about what the next step for the U.S. in Syria is to a different level. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Which had already been ramping up in some ways. 

    DAVID IGNATIUS:  That had been happening anyway. 

    President Obama has been deeply wary of making a military commitment in Syria, but I think the pressure, for example, for some kind of safe haven in the north, in the areas that have been liberated by the Syrian rebels, with some kind of protection against air attack, I think there will be a growing push in that direction, already is in the administration. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  You're agreeing with that? 

    LEONARD SPECTOR:  I would think so. 

    Also, I think so we are going to have to try to provide some assistance for the victims. 

    DAVID IGNATIUS:  Yes. 

    LEONARD SPECTOR:  So, that will certainly be another part of the operation if, indeed, this was a chemical weapon attack. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  How does one do that?  How does...

    LEONARD SPECTOR:  Well, I think you probably want to get them out of the country to hospitals where they can be treated more effectively, where there are no sort of limitations on access to medical assistance and so forth. 

    And, unfortunately, there is some experience in dealing with victims of these attacks because of the Iran-Iraq War.  So I would imagine the place would be probably Jordan, possibly Lebanon. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Leonard Spector and David Ignatius, we will keep watching.  Thanks very much. 

    LEONARD SPECTOR:  Thank you. 


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    GWEN IFILL: Next: the latest on the battles playing out at both the federal and state levels to tighten gun laws. 

    Judy Woodruff has our update. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF: For gun control supporters, today's signing ceremony in Colorado spelled a significant victory in a Western state where many people like their guns. 

    Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law a series of measures requiring new background checks for private and online gun sales. The law also limits ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. But it was a bittersweet moment as well. Before that ceremony, Hickenlooper remembered his friend and the state's head of corrections, Tom Clements, who was shot and killed at his home yesterday evening. There are no known suspects. 

    GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER, D-Colo.: Tom Clements dedicated his life to being a public servant, to making our state better, to making the world a better place. And he is going to be deeply, deeply missed. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The passage of the new law comes eight months after the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. And it's the latest example of a larger battle playing out in state legislatures around the country. 

    More than 3,000 pieces of gun-related legislation are being considered in statehouses. But even as momentum picks up in some states, a similar push on Capitol Hill has slowed. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid acknowledged one bill, an assault weapons ban crafted by California's Dianne Feinstein, didn't have enough support to move forward. 

    SEN. HARRY REID, D-Nevada: But, right now her amendment, using the most optimistic numbers, has less than 40 votes. I -- that's not 60. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A disappointed Feinstein later said on CNN that she -- quote -- "will not play dead on the issue," adding Reid assured her she will have a chance to offer the ban as an amendment to a larger bill. 

    SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-Calif.: If it's an amendment, that is not a symbolic vote. 

    I did the bill in 1994 on the floor as an amendment. It enacted a law. It went on to the House. It was enacted. What Senator Reid told me is that I would have an opportunity for a vote. I take him at his word. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF: For now, Reid and Senate Democrats are trying to find a way to get other measures passed. That includes an expansion of background checks, new penalties for gun trafficking, and for so-called straw purchases, when other individuals buy guns for those who aren't authorized to own them. Reid is aiming for votes some time after the Easter recess. 

    But there's still little, if any, Republican support for that effort. 

    For more, I am joined by Ed O'Keefe, who has been reporting on this subject for The Washington Post. 

    Welcome back to the NewsHour, Ed. 

    First of all, Majority Leader Reid said he was pulling the plug on this because it just didn't have enough votes. Why has it been so hard to get the votes for the assault weapons ban? 

    ED O'KEEFE, The Washington Post: Well, it basically boils down to campaign politics. 

    You have got about 15 Senate Democrats who are up for reelection in 2014, and they hail mostly from states in the South and the Midwest and the West that have stronger gun cultures than most. And so asking those moderate Democrats who are in states that have, you know, strong gun cultures to vote for things on a ban on almost 160 specific assault rifles is a bridge too far for Reid, who understands that in order to maintain his majority in the Senate, he has got to see most, if not all, of those senators reelected. 

    Already, it is a difficult prospect, and it would be made more difficult, Reid fears, if they were asked to vote on this. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, when Senator Feinstein says that Reid has promised hear, in essence, he will let her introduce an amendment, there will be a vote on the amendment, what are the prospects it's going to get any easier then? 

    ED O'KEEFE: Well, as Reid said very specifically yesterday, quite astonishingly, he says he doesn't think it has even 40 votes.

    But what it will do is fulfill a promise that he has made on behalf of the president to hold an up-or-down vote on this measure, even if it doesn't have the support. It has broad support in most polling, polling that the Washington Post has done, that Pew has done and other groups.

    But just considering the breakdown of the Senate, where you need 60 votes in order to end debate on something, and then about that number -- well, you really need just about 50 for final passage, but in order to get over the procedural hurdle in the Senate, you need 60.

    And though there are 55 Senate Democrats, at least 15, maybe 20 of them are not comfortable voting for this. And there certainly aren't enough Republicans either. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So public opinion polls don't translate into votes in the Senate? 

    ED O'KEEFE: At this point, it doesn't.

    There's some hope that in the two-week recess that is approaching, that perhaps these gun control groups, whether it's a group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which is led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, or a bunch of new grassroots organizations that are led by parents, frankly, who are outraged about what happened at Newtown, that there's some hope that if they can meet with lawmakers in the coming weeks and try to put some pressure on them and remind them that they also vote, that perhaps you will see some people come back from the recess in the mood to perhaps consider voting for this. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So how does the lobbying by these gun control -- these groups that favor gun control, Ed, stack up against the NRA, the parents of Newtown, the Mayor Bloomberg organization and others? 

    ED O'KEEFE: You know, while the mayors group is very well-funded and backed by dozens of big-city mayors across the country and police chiefs who show up here on Capitol Hill regularly, what's less clear at this point, still, is really whether they have the money and the political power behind them. 

    We haven't had an election since Newtown, so it's difficult to gauge. What Bloomberg's group has said and what these parent groups have said is, come next year, if you're somebody who faces a difficult reelection and you didn't vote for this, we also now will put up money. We will put manpower in your district or in your state to get you kicked out, much like the NRA has done for years with lawmakers that vote one way or the other. 

    I had a conversation with one activist this week who said that, in meetings that her group has had with both Democrats and Republicans, the lawmakers and their staffs have said great. Great to see you. It's about time you showed up, because when it comes to guns, the only group we ever really hear from is the NRA. We don't hear from the other side. 

    So, there has been very well-organized opposition to the status quo. And the thinking is the personal stories of these parents who have been affected, the concerns of parents who don't want to see this happen again, plus the mayors, might turn the tide. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. 

    So, if the assault weapons ban is a bridge too far, what about other pieces of legislation that have been proposed, the background checks, the gun trafficking penalties and so forth? 

    ED O'KEEFE: Right.

    Well, at this point, the gun trafficking penalties is seen as the one that has the most bipartisan support. It does a very simple thing. It basically makes the practice of someone knowingly buying a weapon for someone ineligible to have one a federal crime for the first time. This is something that has been asked for from law enforcement officials for years. It would make it a federal crime. 

    It has Republican support, not only in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but believed also in the broader Senate. The problem is you talk to police officers, police chiefs across this country, they say, look, we can't just have gun trafficking. We also need an expansion of the background check program, because if you do that, you can essentially close the incentive on somebody to go out and make a straw purchase.

    Plus, you make it easier for us to track gun crimes in the future. At this point, there's a Democratic proposal to expand the background check program that would encompass all private and commercial sales. That is seen as a bridge too far again for some Republicans who say, look, there should be exemptions for if, or example, a father wants to hand over or sell a rifle to his son or to a cousin or to a close neighbor across the street. 

    There are talks under way in which that type of exception might be permitted, but as part of those talks, Democrats want to establish a record-keeping system for those private noncommercial transactions, saying that they also need to be tracked, just in case that weapon one day ends up being used in a crime.

    Republicans turn around and say no. That's akin to creating a national gun registry. That would violate the Second Amendment. We just can't do it. In the next two weeks, again, during this recess, the hope is among those tracking this that there can be some kind of bipartisan consensus and that something can be put together in time for votes after the recess. But, look, they have been talking for months, and there has been no agreement so far. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ed, just quickly, before we go, back to the beginning of the segment, we talked about what's going on in the states, Colorado passing legislation, New York, other states, a number of other states looking at this. Could the states end up moving more quickly than the Congress? 

    ED O'KEEFE: Certainly. 

    And many already have. New York, for example, already establishing a much stronger assault weapons ban. And the fact that a purple state like Colorado is moving forward is also seen as encouraging to gun control advocates. You're seeing movement, successful movement in places like Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California, the bigger urban states that suffer from this gun crime most especially.

    But it's faltering in places like Minnesota, where they would like to see some progress, and Washington State. So, yes, some states may get ahead of the federal government, but certainly not all of them. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post, thank you. 

    ED O'KEEFE: Great to be with you. 


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    JEFFREY BROWN: Next: An emergency room doctor returns to Newark and grapples with pressing public health issues. 

    Ray Suarez has our conversation. 

    RAY SUAREZ: Dr. Sampson Davis is the fifth of six children in his family. He was raised in Newark, N.J., in the 1970s. He was surrounded by crime, drugs, and murders and by the notorious high-rise projects that earned Newark its nickname, Brick City. 

    Many of those high-rises have since been torn down. Dozens of other buildings in the city's neighborhoods have been abandoned. Newark remains one of the tougher urban areas in the country, with a third of its residents living below the poverty line. The city's medical system also is under stress. 

    WOMAN: Not ignoring you. It's just that it's been very busy. 

    RAY SUAREZ: Many residents lack access to primary care. The city's three remaining emergency rooms -- three others were shut down in the last decade -- are often packed to capacity with patients. 

    After making a pact with two of his high school friends graduate medical school, Dr. Sampson Davis returned to Newark to work in the E.R. to try to make a difference. 

    DR. SAMPSON DAVIS, "Living and Dying in Brick City: An E.R. Doctor Returns Home": All right, let's go see another patient and fast-track. Want to go out towards the waiting room. 

    RAY SUAREZ: The lessons he learned there and the stories of the people he met and treated are the subject of a new book, "Living and Dying in Brick City: An E.R. Doctor Returns Home."

    SAMPSON DAVIS: We'd see about 100 patients, 125 patients a day. 

    RAY SUAREZ: I spoke with him recently at Saint Michael's Medical Center in downtown Newark, New Jersey. 

    Dr. Davis, welcome to the program. 

    SAMPSON DAVIS: Thank you. Thank you for having me. 

    RAY SUAREZ: The stories are gripping, memorable. The people you meet along the way are the kind of people who, I can see why they stick with you forever. 

    But the thing that's unusual about the book is that, along with these stories, there's all sorts of resources and diagnostic guides, and information digests, where to get help for certain kind of illnesses. It makes it an unusual book, really, in that way, the way it's structured. 

    SAMPSON DAVIS: It was definitely a tough book to write, in the sense that I feel like it's part memoir, part self-help, part anecdotal, so I think it's a lot of different moving pieces that came together. 

    But I feel like it sort of was important to tell the story of a person who had a certain ailment, vs. talking about the ailment, because if you tell the story about the mother who's a nurse, who works in a hospital, who calls the ambulance because she's having some shortness of breath, and the ambulance isn't arriving in time, and now she's succumbing, and she's having difficulty breathing, her husband puts her in a car, drives her to the hospital, and before she reaches the hospital, she succumbs and passes out. 

    I rush out with a gurney, place her in a gurney, and we rush her back into the emergency department. She's full-term pregnant. We do a stat C-section, remove the baby, and then unfortunately we were unable to resuscitate her. 

    So you have this person who is a part of the community, who's here to help the community. When she called the ambulance, the ambulance for whatever reason, it didn't show up in an expeditious way. So now at the end of that chapter, you talk about some of the signs and symptoms when you're having shortness of breath and what to do.

    But then you also get to the issue, the social issue at hand. We have an overflux of patients coming into the emergency department, and if you're using the ambulance system for a non-emergent issue, you are taking away from that person who's not able to breathe. Now, imagine that was your grandmother, imagine that was your father who was having trouble to breathe. 

    RAY SUAREZ: Reading your book reminded me that living in the poorest neighborhoods in this country is not only unpleasant, but it's bad for you. It can shorten your life. 

    SAMPSON DAVIS: It absolutely can. 

    I mean, these stories, collection of stories in this book really chronicles patients that I have seen throughout my career practicing emergency medicine. And it's always issues around health care and access to health care in inner cities. 

    RAY SUAREZ: Access ends up being an enormous issue, because very sick people land in the E.R.s where you have worked, and it's a lifetime of accumulated effects, and now you have to fix them. 

    SAMPSON DAVIS: Right, and fix them fast, in that split-second. 

    So I see patients come in who are suffering from heart attacks, obviously, who have strokes, but the strokes are a result of uncontrolled high blood pressure, who maybe are on dialysis, and that's an effect of their uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure. 

    I see trauma cases, gunshot -- young gunshot victims who prematurely lose their lives on the streets. I see cases of patients who don't have health insurance, and so they try to doctor themselves at home. And when all else fails, they just sort of finally give in and cave and come to the emergency department for treatment. 

    On the other side of the spectrum, I'm also seeing mental illness, exacerbation of mental illness, depression, schizophrenia untreated, undiagnosed, where the patients have chronically suffered from these ailments and never seek treatment. Society just sort of passed them by, and there's no outlet for them to sort of tap into, so that they can treat their depression or their illness that they're suffering from. 

    RAY SUAREZ: That's a lot of the tension in the stories that you tell. 

    As an emergency room doctor, you're seeing people in a fleeting, rather than longitudinal, way, and your frustration comes through a lot, because you can't change their lives in one night together. 

    SAMPSON DAVIS: Right. And that's exactly the point. 

    So, for me, it's important to say, what can we do, what can be done, and to step outside the emergency part, to step outside the confines of my comfort zone, the hospital, and reach into the community and say, hey, listen, you need to take your medications every day, you need to be a champion of your ailment. 

    As a family, everyone needs to sort of bond together and help treat dad who may be suffering from cancer or who hasn't gone for his precancerous screening. Prevention is so key. And a lot of the patients unfortunately that I see, they don't go for the preventative care. And by the time they're diagnosed, it's too late. 

    And then the frustration comes through from my end, because I'm saying, I could have been -- diagnosed you with the throat cancer, or told you to stop smoking, or been an advocate in your health care and have the screening that you needed to sort of diagnose this early. You could have had treatment, and lived long enough to see your kids grow up and your grandchildren born, and see them thrive. 

    There's sort of fear sometimes and apprehension when it comes to medicine because of the lack of what are -- difficult to perceive and understanding what's going on with your body. And it's truly -- it's not. Once you invest that time and that energy, you can take better care of yourself than any physician or nurse practitioner or health care worker can do for you. 

    RAY SUAREZ: But you can't fix some of the original causes of these illnesses, the malnutrition that's driven by poverty, the asthma that's made worse by life in an aging tenement home. 

    There are causes that you know very well since you grew up in Newark that can't be changed even by the best health care. It's too late by that time. 

    SAMPSON DAVIS: I agree. 

    And so the issue is multifaceted. It's not one sort of spot that you can fix and change everything. But I think this is a start. I'm also advocating education, because I feel that, if we educate ourselves, the more we educate ourselves, that we can overcome poverty, and the fact that if we do it as a community, and we stick together, we bond together, and we support one another with education, with health, then we can start to fix some of the issues at the root of the cause. 

    And so we can erase -- we can erase families who are struggling to get by on minimum wage. We can erase the drug abuse that we see on the streets and in the home. We can erase the gun violence and the domestic violence, and we can start to bring attention to mental illness. 

    But this can only be done if everyone in the community is invested. And so I think it has to be a position that we all take in which we say, yes, take better care of yourself. Yes, go for your pre-screening to make sure that you don't have any ailment that can be detrimental to you down the road. 

    But we also can then turn to our youth and our adults and say, it's OK to get educated on these matters. It's OK to do well in school for the young person that's in school. It's OK to achieve and be academically successful and show your academic excellence. 

    Sometimes, in the inner cities, especially amongst the adolescent peer group, there's some tension where it comes to you doing well in school. It's almost perceived as you're being a nerd, or you're corny, you're trying to do better than everyone else. And so I wanted to erase that sort of issue and take away and empower the youth and say if they call you a nerd today for doing well in school, that's OK, because they will be calling you boss tomorrow. 

    RAY SUAREZ: The book is "Living and Dying in Brick City."

    Dr. Sampson Davis, thanks a lot. 

    SAMPSON DAVIS: Thank you. 


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    JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight: the start of a series about the growing impact of broadband and the way it's changing our habits, our work and our communities. 

    High-speed access to the Internet at home has risen steadily in recent years. Studies show that some 66 percent of Americans now have broadband connections. 

    We begin with a focus on how all this is playing out in the entertainment industry. 

    And again to Hari, who has that story. 

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Traditional Hollywood studios have long produced the movies and television programs we love to watch, but in the era of high-speed broadband, companies like Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and Hulu are some of the new power players. 

    All of them stream movies, TV and video. Increasingly, they're creating their own unique content as well. For the moment, Netflix has raised the stakes most prominently. Last month, it debuted all at once 13 episodes of its original $100 million dollar series "House of Cards" all at once. It stars Kevin Spacey as a cynical U.S. House majority whip. Its success turned up the heat on its competitor, Amazon Prime, which is spending millions on new content. 

    Amazon in turn announced an exclusive deal with PBS to stream its hit show "Downton Abbey." Cable providers like Xfinity and Time Warner are making more of their content available for their online customers, an audience that is growing.

    According to comScore, a company that tracks digital media, every day, 75 million people in America watch videos online. 

    We take a closer look at this now with Brian Stelter, who covers the space for the New York Times, and Lisa Donovan, a producer and co-founder of Maker Studios, an online video production company responsible for hundreds of millions of video views. 

    Thanks for joining us. 

    Brian, I want to start with you. 

    If broadband is ushering a new era of what we would consider networks, how are these different? 

    BRIAN STELTER, The New York Times: Well, there are a couple of distinguishing factors about what Netflix and Amazon are producing and what other companies in the space could produce. 

    For one thing, these shows don't have to be a half-hour or an hour long. They can be various lengths. For the most part, they don't have advertising in the traditional sense. They could add advertising in the future, but right now they don't have it. And they can also be on demand pretty much forever. They could be at the click of a button. They're not confined to a traditional television schedule. 

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And, so, Lisa, you work with more than 10,000 producers. What are some of the advantages that you have that sort of traditional media or traditional networks don't? 

    LISA DONOVAN, Maker Studios: Well, I think we're able to move very quickly. 

    The producers, the content creators are really able to do and produce what they want without having to ask, you know, permission to do it. So, if something happens in pop culture, they can make a video immediately and get it out to their fan base. They're able to communicate directly with their audience and have, like, a very, very engaged audience connection. 

    And I think that's an advantage that you don't get to see in mainstream entertainment. 

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Brian, on the business side of things, you have reported that Netflix is essentially buying up shows without even having seen a pilot. 

    BRIAN STELTER: Right. 

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, in this land grab, explain to me what the return on investment is, or how they measure success when Amazon and Netflix are going out and buying so much content? 

    BRIAN STELTER: It's pretty hard for to us measure success, especially for Netflix because they won't release ratings. We don't know how many viewers are watching these shows.

    But, for Netflix, this is all about getting people not to unsubscribe. If they can just hold on to their subscribers, that's a win. And if they can convince new people to sign up because they have heard about "House of Cards" or they have heard about "Arrested Development" and they need to see it for themselves, that's an even bigger win for Netflix. 

    And it's true for Amazon as well. Amazon is in the business of keeping you subscribed to Amazon Prime. For something like YouTube, the model is a little different, because YouTube is only advertiser-driven. It's not producing $100 million or $50 million dollar shows. But it is seeding the environment with lots of little investments. And over time, some of those could be subscriber services as well. 

    You could imagine a future where some YouTube channels are behind the subscription wall and they're going to be in the same business as Netflix, trying to convince you that it's worth paying a few dollars a month to watch their programming. 

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Lisa, let's talk about the economics on that YouTube platform. Are the Madison Avenue advertisers convinced? Do you have a predictable, steady revenue stream? 

    LISA DONOVAN: Well, I started on YouTube in 2005, before it was even monetized, so it's come such a long way. 

    In 2007, I think, we became a partner and we started monetizing. And the CPMs keep rising. And I think that's the future, hopefully, is that the ad dollars will move over to online. And I think you're already starting to see that. And I think it's -- it's starring to become more and more predictable. I think we have a little ways to go before it's completely predictable.

    But we're getting there, and you're seeing a lot of content creators being able to make a living doing this and some very -- a very good living. 

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Lisa, when you say CPM, explain that briefly. 

    But, also, are advertisers expecting the same kind of hit like when I, say, buy an advertisement on the Super Bowl? I know x-number of million people have watched it. 

    LISA DONOVAN: Right. It's different. It's different online. 

    I think that's the thing. The value of a view online, I think that's what we need advertisers to really understand. I obviously believe that it's incredibly valuable and it's as valuable as a TV ad, even more so, because we're talking about people who are making videos with such an engaged audience that just love this person that is making the content, and that ad I think or if they're doing a branded integration I think is so incredibly valuable. 

    And I think, over time, advertisers are starting to really understand the value of that. And, hopefully, they will be willing to pay as much as you would see on a network television show. And it's not there yet, but that is the goal is to hopefully have a lot of those ad dollars head over to online. 

    And, as you see, you know, things are merging. We see a lot of things, mainstream moving to online, and the connected TVs, and I think that's where it's headed. 

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Brian, when you look at the cost of production here, for a standard TV episode, maybe $1 million, $2 million dollars. For a small content creator that has their own YouTube channel, maybe they can make a show for $10,000, $15,000 dollars. Do you see networks going out and scouting for this and making lots of bets on these smaller experiments? 

    BRIAN STELTER: I do. 

    I think of a spectrum where shows exist, and I think what we're seeing is a lot blurring happening, where traditional television looks more like the Web. And the Web can look more like traditional television. Recently, FOX Broadcasting took one of the YouTube channels that its parent company had invested in, called WIGS, brought it in-house, and said they're going to start taking some of these short YouTube shows which most viewers probably never heard of and start to turn them into television shows, big, blockbuster television shows. 

    That's an example of the cross-pollination that I think we are going to see more and more of going forward.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And, Lisa, so, this is an odd question, but are you seeing any aspirational shift, in the sense that it used to be the goal was to get yourself on TV? Are you seeing content creators coming specifically to stay online? 

    LISA DONOVAN: Yes.

    That was -- when we found Maker, too, we wanted to be working with content creators who really didn't see it as a stepping-stone, but saw it more as a place to really find a home and really build an engaged, long-term audience. And, essentially, they're building their own distribution, and that's a very powerful thing that we want the content creators to take very seriously. 

    So, I think we work with a lot of people that really do value what they're creating online, and not that they won't be doing traditional things or can, but it's something where you don't want to give up on your audience, and you want to make sure that you keep building that. 

    And I think we're starting to see a lot of mainstream celebrities or talent want to come online and start building their online presence. We signed Snoop Dogg last year, and that's been really an exciting partnership with him. So ...

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Brian, are there enough Snoop Doggs of the world that are going to go on the YouTube platforms that will make the networks sit up and take notice? 

    BRIAN STELTER: I think there is. I think we're beginning to see it.

    It's a great time to be an actor or a producer or a writer because there are more outlets than ever. Jeffrey Tambor, who is best known for "Arrested Development" on FOX, this year, he's on "Arrested Development" on Netflix, and he's also on a pilot program for Amazon. And he has got more options than he used to have. 

    It's not going to replace TV. TV is not going away. But it is going to add to TV. And it's going to add up to a better experience for consumers, I think. 

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Brian Stelter from the New York Times, Lisa Donovan from Maker Studios, thanks so much for your time. 

    BRIAN STELTER: Thanks.

    LISA DONOVAN: Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Our next report looks at the city with the fastest Internet in the Western Hemisphere: Chattanooga, Tenn. 


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    Watch President Obama's full speech in Jerusalem.

    Updated at 12:20 p.m. ET: President Obama made the case for restarting the peace process before Palestinian and Israeli audiences Thursday. "We cannot give up on the search for peace no matter how hard it is. ... Too much is at stake."

    In a speech before an Israeli audience at the Jerusalem Convention Center, President Obama addressed the turmoil in Syria, saying President Bashar al-Assad "must go so Syria's future can begin," and the threat of Iran's nuclear program: All options "are on the table" to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

    But he spent the bulk of the speech talking about how peace is necessary and the only path to true security in Israel, and how the only way it can succeed is through an "independent and viable Palestine."

    Peace has to be made among peoples, not governments, President Obama said. "No wall is high enough and no Iron Dome (missile defense system) is perfect enough to stop every enemy who is intent on doing harm."

    But he said in terms of Palestinian leadership, he felt that Israel has a true partner in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. "There's an opportunity there."

    He reiterated the U.S. stance that the two sides must re-enter direct negotiations, and that although the "United States opposes unilateral actions undertaken through the United Nations," Palestinians' right to justice must be recognized.

    Earlier in the day, President Obama had met with Palestinians aged 15-22, and he described his impressions. "I honestly believe that if any Israeli parent sat down with those kids, they'd say, 'I want these kids to succeed, I want them to prosper'."

    President Obama and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

    The president delivered the same message -- that peace and a two-state solution are possible despite the many hurdles -- at press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.

    "I absolutely think it's still possible but it's very difficult" because of the political constraints on both sides and the compromise that's required, he said.

    "We seek a viable and contiguous Palestinian state through continued negotiations," said Mr. Obama. "We cannot give up on the search for peace no matter how hard it is. ... Too much is at stake."

    Resolution to the long-standing conflict also would help open more opportunities on both sides, he continued. "One of the ironies of this conflict is the Israeli and Palestinian people are entrepreneurial and could lift up the economy as a whole."

    He said he thought many Israelis and Palestinians would support a peace deal. "If we can get direct negotiations started again, I believe that the shape of a potential deal is there. If both sides can make that leap together, not only do I believe the Israeli and Palestinian people would support it in huge numbers ... but I think the whole world would cheer."

    When pressed on the issue of Israel continuing to build settlements in the West Bank, President Obama said he's "been clear" with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders that the United States doesn't consider continued settlement activity to be constructive, appropriate, or something that can advance the cause of peace. "I will say with respect to Israel, the politics there are complex, and I recognize that that's not going to be an issue that's solved immediately."

    But "if the expectation is that we can only have direct negotiations when everything is settled ahead of time, then there's no point for negotiations."

    Israelis have concerns about rockets flying into their cities, as occurred last night, he said, and "it'd be easy for them to say, 'you see, this is why we can't have peace'."

    The two sides should focus on the core issues: how to get sovereignty for the Palestinian people and security for the Israeli people, he added. "If we solve those two problems, the settlement problem will be solved."

    President Obama said part of the goal of his trip was to hear from Netanyahu and Abbas about how the process can move forward on the broader mission, and now he and Secretary of State John Kerry will see what they can do.

    Abbas reiterated at the press conference that the settlement activity is illegal. "We hope that the Israeli government understands this and listens to the many voices inside Israel speaking about the illegality of the settlements," he said through a translator.

    He said the younger generation of Palestinians sees the settlements growing in the West Bank and becomes convinced that nothing can be done.

    But he maintained that he has "full confidence" that President Obama and Kerry can help remove the obstacles to the peace process.

    View more on President Obama's trip to the Middle East on the NewsHour's World page.

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    Kwame Holman speaks with Second Amendment expert Joyce Lee Malcolm.

    With news that Sen. Dianne Feinstein's, D-Calif., recent assault weapons ban will not get a vote on the Senate floor, PBS NewsHour examined the gun debate. Judy Woodruff detailed the developments Wednesday night with a report and interview with The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe.

    Correspondent Kwame Holman recently spoke with Second Amendment scholar Joyce Lee Malcolm, a professor at George Mason University School of Law and author of "To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right."

    Malcolm spoke about how the Second Amendment came to be and what research suggests the framers of the Constitution intended.

    She said that the assault weapons ban was unlikely to move to the Senate floor because it seems to ignore recent Supreme Court decisions that establish an individual right to own guns are commonly used for protection.

    "I don't really think the idea that you can ban them or reduce the magazine will really pass constitutional muster," Malcolm said. "If your standard is common use, these are all in common use for lawful purposes."

    In an interview with NPR that aired Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden said that he and President Barack Obama still plan to pursue legislation that would ban assault weapons.

    Feinstein has said she will introduce her proposals as amendments during the yet-to-be-scheduled Senate floor debate. The bill that could reach the floor after the Easter recess may include language that would outlaw gun trafficking and strengthen the background check system.

    Related Content:

    Americans Support Range of Proposals to Reduce Gun Violence

    Inside the Nation's Gun Show

    What Democrats and the NRA May Have in Common over Gun Policy

    For more political coverage, visit the NewsHour's Politics page.

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    Martha Raddatz in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2007.

    For the journalists covering the Iraq war, the experience was in many ways unlike any other war. If you were part of the invasion -- which began this week 10 years ago -- it often meant being "embedded" with the American military for weeks, with your gas mask never more than an arm's length away.

    Television and radio journalists broadcast the sprint of troops and armor through the desert to Saddam Hussein's capital -- live -- to the living rooms of so many around the world, as the war began throughout the fall of Baghdad several weeks later. Print reporters brought their readers the tales of heroes and enemy forces that seemed to disappear into the sand. The pictures captured by photojournalists from those early days of the war were extraordinary; the smiling faces of Iraqis welcoming their liberators, and the last gasps of the Baathist regime.

    It was a quick end, but really just the beginning. For the hardened reporters who stuck with the story 10 years of war brought a new understanding of the order of battle, of the lives of a people under occupation, under siege perhaps, as long internalized anger turned neighbor against neighbor drawn on religious lines. No one would have guessed it would go on so long, in fact the public was told it wouldn't. And it was extremely dangerous. According to numbers from the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 150 journalists and 54 media support workers were killed between March 2003 and December 2011 in Iraq.

    On this anniversary of the Iraq war's start, we spoke with two veterans journalists with years of war coverage under their belts. Their answers have been edited for clarity and length.

    Martha Raddatz is the senior global affairs correspondent for ABC News. When the war began, she went from being a Pentagon correspondent to covering the war on the frontlines. Raddatz made more than 20 trips to Iraq, reported on American forces, interviewed top military commanders and was embedded with troops at some of the worst points in the fighting. She also brought focus to the spouses and loved ones who feared that each day could bring devastating news. For those soldiers that made it home, she brought light to the physical and mental scars that don't end with the war. She wrote about these themes in a book entitled "The Long Road Home".

    For a veteran war reporter like NPR's Middle East correspondent Deborah Amos, conflict coverage was the routine. But in Baghdad after the invasion it became clear to her that this war presented a different and new kind of dangerous. Preferring "civilian embedding" over military coverage, she focused on the Iraqis who were struggling with the war as deeper sectarian divides bubbled up. In the later years, Amos immersed herself in the lives of Iraqi refugees in Syria. Her time there resulted in a book, "The Eclipse of the Sunnis", where she chronicles the sectarian strife that engulfed the magnitude of displaced Iraqis.

    What were some of the challenges that you and other journalists faced in the first few years that U.S. troops were on the ground in Iraq?

    Martha Raddatz: It really changed. When it began, you could go around to the main areas pretty easily. I remember flying into the country in late summer or early fall of 2003. There was really quite a bit of freedom of movement, and you didn't have to worry too much.

    By mid-2004 you couldn't go anywhere outside of Baghdad without the military and it got increasingly more dangerous, particularly for television reporting.

    It was the lack of front lines that made this war was so different. If you look back in history, in Vietnam you'd have these intense battles for days, but then you could go back and feel fairly secure in some places, but in every place our service members were [in Iraq], they were at risk. They were safe nowhere.

    How did this affect the soldiers?

    I think you've got so many guys coming home, who spent years with adrenaline going all the time. I remember some early conversations about the fact that you could just drive around and get blown up.

    I remember one soldier saying to me when we were just walking around on patrol one night in some particularly bad area and he said, "it just makes me crazy to know that no matter how hard I've trained, no matter how much I know, no matter how much mental discipline I have, they have this advantage where I could just walk across something and get blown up." They had to adapt to that, and they did what they could to try and fight the IEDs, but it's pretty darn hard to keep ahead of that.

    So many soldiers have come home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Was this a result of this nature of war as you described?

    Well, I'm not a psychologist so I can't say that, but I'll tell you what has to be a contributing factor: the number of deployments. These two wars together [with Afghanistan], and you have to talk about the two wars together because some people started deploying in 2001, are some of the longest wars that we've had. There are some amazing people I've met who seem to be just fine, but you can't expect everyone to deploy three or four times, lose so many friends, and see so many things that no one should have to see and not be affected by it.

    There are people who are really struggling, and I think, "oh I met so-and-so seven years ago and he's great and he's a double amputee." Well, they still are. Or I see these young spouses whose husbands went off to war and came back six weeks later brain injured. And now, truly 10 years later, they're still taking care of them. There's a mother who takes care of a Marine. That will be their life. Their whole life will be taking care of their loved ones.

    U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division 3-7 infantry Corp. Charles Johnson (left) from Myrtle Beach, S.C., shows his squad an Iraqi flag captured during an raid on a Iraqi border post on March 21, 2003. Photo by Scott Nelson/Getty Images.

    Did we as a nation learn anything from the war?

    Yeah, I think we have. One of the things I'm proud of is that the American public figured out that things weren't going very well. The press would get a very hard time from some saying, "you're only telling us the bad news and pointing out the awful things." During that time you did hear from the administration that things were going better than they were. President Bush in one of his final interviews said he had to say those things to keep morale up, but I think the troops knew full well what was going on over there. The American people figured out that wasn't the case.

    In all the times that you've reported from Iraq, was there something that you underestimated or weren't prepared for?

    I guess I underestimated the length of time I would be going there. It would take up such an enormous part of my life, my passion, and what was important to me. I guess I wasn't prepared to forge the bonds that I did, I guess I didn't think about it. I started covering the Pentagon in peacetime. It wasn't as if I was going in with the idea of going off to war, it was a gradual thing, and in so many ways, what was happening to our military and our country of getting sucked into that war, I was too. I am proud of that work, and I am grateful for the people that I've met. I have seen more tragedy than I wish I'd witnessed, but from that I've met some amazing people.

    The other profound memories are of the moon in Iraq. It was one of those things where if it was the end of the day and you'd seen something terrifying or uplifting, the moon in Baghdad is a pretty amazing thing. There's the old cliche that it's the same moon back home, but when you're looking at it there and there are helicopters flying by in the desert, it is just stunning and beautiful.

    How did you first start to cover the war?

    Deborah Amos: I first came to Baghdad in early May of 2003, when it was a remarkable place to be. You could go anywhere and do anything in the country. We went from Kurdistan to Basra, and I think nobody understood or saw how bad it was gonna get in those early days. It's hard to say, but I think it's really hard to get over it, and I ask people who go what it's like, and if you have been there in the terrible days it's really hard to get over it. It was bad. There were bodies everywhere all the time and so that tends to be my major memory of Iraq and how bad that violence was until 2005.

    Were you embedded with the military at any point?

    I never was. Not that I think there's anything wrong with it, it just wasn't for me. I usually get embedded with civilians. I'm more comfortable with that kind of coverage. There was a real split in who came. There were lots of people who were Pentagon reporters, I was a regional reporter, I had covered the Arab world and so that's where my expertise was, if I had any. I chose to stay on the civilian side of things.

    An Iraqi woman and her children flee the fighting in southern Iraq's main city of Basra on March 28, 2003. Photo by Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images.

    What did you do after Iraq?

    I went to Syria and started covering the Iraqi refugees. I came back to the Middle East after the Rafik Hariri assassination was there in 2006 during the Israeli invasion of Beirut. Then, all of a sudden it became clear that there were 2 million Iraqis in Damascus. So I was covering the shadow of the Iraq war by covering the refugees in Damascus, because there were 2,000 arriving every day.

    In looking at the lives of displaced refugees or considering reconstruction efforts within Iraq, is there progress that's going unmentioned as other Middle East conflicts have taken more attention in recent years? Did we forget about Iraq because the war has essentially ended?

    I don't think it's because the war has ended, honestly. I think the reason that we don't talk about it much is because I think the American Public doesn't want to hear about it, and that usually means our editors don't want to hear about it. I don't want to compare it to Vietnam, but I think it's going to take us awhile as a country to assess that war and its cost and whether or not it was worth it or not. My sense is that it's very hard to get Iraq coverage in the newspaper. Of course, within the Middle East there are other things that take its place. I saw this happen in Lebanon after 1982. There are some moments where we just turn our eyes away for a while. It's either too painful or we haven't assessed it properly. In this case we have a 10-year anniversary so we're forced to look back.

    What were some of the things that stayed with you from your reporting?

    You always remember your translators, because if was how you understand the society. When we first got there I didn't ask who was a Sunni and who was a Shiite. I came to find out later that all of our translators were Shiites and all of our drivers were Sunnis. As time went on, you had to be very aware of the sectarian divide because you'd be taking a Shiite translator into a Sunni neighborhood, and they would say terrible things of Shiites there.

    Then you have these people who had been so friendly and open and demanding, this militant hospitality that you're always subjected to in the Middle East, but it became too dangerous for them to ever bring us home. To be associated with us was way too dangerous for them.

    So what I saw was this progression, into the most violent place I had ever seen. We lived in compounds with manned machine guns on the roof, and we built safe houses and rooms with metal doors. I've covered wars my entire career, but it was never anything like that.

    You had to think about what if "they" -- and you didn't know precisely who "they" were -- climbed over the walls of your compound? How long could you hold out before someone could come and save you? That was just part of everyday coverage. It wasn't written about or talked about, but it was there.

    Was that something you expected?

    I had seen Lebanon fall apart, Afghanistan was dangerous, Bosnia was dangerous, but this was an element that I hadn't seen before. It was surprising only because I had that early memory of how open the country had been in the beginning. I had covered Iraq in 1991, and I always said I wouldn't go back to Iraq until Saddam was gone. I knew how brutal the regime was. It was a joy as a journalist to go back in 2003 and be able to go to places that I never thought I would go to: Basra, Tikrit, Mosul. These were all places that were out of the question when Saddam was in power. It was an amazing experience, and so that difference of going down into that terrible violent black hole I think was all the more shocking because of the comparison.

    On Tuesday, PBS NewsHour senior correspondent Judy Woodruff spoke to reporters and authors Michael Gordon and Rajiv Chandrasekaran about their recollections of the war:

    Watch Video

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    The U.S. Capitol; photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    The U.S. Capitol. Photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

    The Morning Line

    With the Senate having advanced a bill Wednesday to avert a government shutdown and the House expected to follow suit Thursday, lawmakers are already embroiled in their next fiscal fight over the 2014 budget.

    By a 73 to 26 vote, senators approved a $984 billion stopgap measure to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year in September, leaving in place the lower spending levels installed as part of the automatic reductions in the sequester. But Senate lawmakers made adjustments to the version passed by the House earlier this month, giving additional agencies greater flexibility to administer the cuts, such as allowing money to be shifted to avoid furloughs of food safety inspectors.

    The chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., praised the end result. "The House sent us a bill which we felt was skimpy and spartan," Mikulski said. "We didn't want brinksmanship politics. We didn't want ultimatum politics."

    The chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Hal Rogers, R-Ky., told reporters after Wednesday's vote that the Senate version would likely make it through the House without further changes. "It's a great success," Rogers said, according to Reuters.

    There appeared to be far less common ground Wednesday as both chambers also debated the budget for the coming fiscal year.

    Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., spoke in favor of the Democratic proposal that seeks to raise $1 trillion in fresh revenues while also trimming spending for health care providers, defense and domestic agencies. The blueprint also calls for eliminating the automatic reductions contained in the sequester.

    "The highest priority of our budget is to create the conditions for job creation, economic growth and prosperity built from the middle out, not the top down," Murray said.

    The top Republican on the budget panel, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, dismissed the Democratic proposal because it calls for "more government" and "less commitment to efficiency." He said lawmakers need to adopt a "budget that balances" and is "oriented toward growth and prosperity."

    Roll Call's Alan Ota and Niels Lesniewski note that the "main event -- a continuous sequence on nonbinding votes known as a vote-a-rama -- is expected to begin Friday." They report that the many votes on amendments often put lawmakers in a politically tough spot.

    Across the rotunda Thursday, House Republicans are expected to pass their own budget, a 10-year, $41 trillion spending plan authored by Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., which seeks to balance the budget within a decade. The party can afford just 15 defections given that every Democrat is expected to oppose the legislation.

    All the fiscal action on Capitol Hill comes more than two weeks before President Barack Obama will reveal his budget, setting the stage for yet another spending showdown after lawmakers return from their two-week Easter recess.

    BIDEN: WE'LL KEEP PUSHING ON ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN

    Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that Mr. Obama will continue the fight to enact a ban on assault weapons as part of a larger piece of legislation, even though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., won't include the proposal in gun control legislation the Senate is expected to consider this spring.

    Biden outlined the administration's view in an interview Wednesday with NPR's Melissa Block on "All Things Considered."

    "I haven't given up on this," Biden said. "I'm still pushing that it pass -- we are still pushing that it pass. The same thing was told to me when the first assault weapons ban in '94 was attached to the Biden crime bill, that it couldn't possibly pass. It was declared dead several times."

    The NewsHour examined the issue Wednesday after Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a package of gun control measures during an emotional ceremony. Judy Woodruff reported on that legislation and other state efforts as the national measure stalled. She spoke with The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe about the political pressure that led Reid to pull the assault weapons ban.

    Watch the segment here or below:

    Watch Video

    Meanwhile, after pushing for tough limits on magazine capacity, New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signaled Wednesday evening that he's looking to walk back the newly passed restriction before it takes effect April 15.

    Kwame Holman recently sat down in the newsroom with a Second Amendment scholar about her interpretation of gun rights. Watch that here or below:

    Watch Video

    You can find all of our coverage on this issue here.

    LINE ITEMS

    Julianna Goldman and Margaret Talev of Bloomberg News report from the Middle East that Mr. Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu worked to present a united front on goals for peace. Here is our field report from correspondent Margaret Warner. Watch Thursday's NewsHour for the latest on the trip.

    The Washington Post's Peter Wallsten writes that the bipartisan immigration plan in the Senate could double the number of visas for highly skilled workers.

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told Politico's Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei that the guest worker program has a lot to do with whether a comprehensive effort will pass. "There are elements in organized labor that don't want one," he said. "[W]hether we can create a viable guest worker program that protects American workers, but also ensures that in the future [if] we need foreign labor for limited periods of time, we're able to access that in a legal way. Because if we don't have a program like that in place, we're going to have 10 million illegal immigrants here in a decade again."

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., expressed frustration Wednesday with what he contends is the slow pace of progress on overhauling the country's immigration system. Leahy said he had urged Mr. Obama to send his own proposal, but that the president had delayed such a move to give a bipartisan group of senators time to develop a plan. "Because we do not yet have legislative language to debate, the Senate Judiciary Committee will not be able to report a comprehensive immigration bill by the end of April, which was my goal," Leahy said.

    BuzzFeed's Rebecca Berg reports that Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said Wednesday that a pathway to citizenship was a "minor detail" when it comes to immigration reform.

    Bloomberg News' Hans Nichols reports that Mr. Obama is considering Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to be the next secretary of transportation.

    Under the headline "Lobbying Without a Trace," Roll Call's Kate Ackley has an important story on how "[n]early half of the lobbyists who were registered with Congress in 2011 and then went 'inactive' in 2012 remained with the same employer, and many continued to influence public policy."

    Nearing the three-year anniversary of Mr. Obama's landmark health care plan becoming law, Politico's Jennifer Haberkorn takes stock of how it will be used by members on Capitol Hill.

    A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows Americans know very little about the health care law and that 57 percent wrongly think it includes a public option.

    A Pew Research Center poll on attitudes toward gay marriage shows the trend moving toward supporting it but not as strongly as the dramatic shift shown in a Washington Post poll released earlier this week.

    Roll Call's Daniel Newhauser does a where are they now retrospective on the Tea Party Caucus.

    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told CNN's Jake Tapper that he prays daily for the president and vice president.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told the Associated Press that she intends to seek re-election in 2014 unless something "catastrophic" were to happen to her or a family member.

    The Republican National Committee raised $5 million in February, thanks to smaller-dollar donors and first-time givers. The RNC has $7.5 million in the bank.

    Roll Call's Abby Livingston scoops that the National Republican Congressional Committee raised a record $14.4 million at its annual March dinner.

    National Journal's Alex Roarty reports that the National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $2.17 million in February after bringing in $1.54 million in January. By contrast, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee hauled in $8.5 million in the first two months of 2013.

    Democrat Rob Zerban will run again against Republican Rep. Paul Ryan in Wisconsin.

    Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., asks his supporters to sign a petition in support of the Voting Rights Act.

    Huffington Post talks to Republicans who voted against the Iraq War to get their take -- and bragging -- one decade later.

    Yahoo News' Olivier Knox rounds up Vice President Biden's trip to Vatican City. Knox was the pool reporter for the journey.

    The president's limo, known as "The Beast," broke down Wednesday ahead of the Mr. Obama's arrival in Israel. The Secret Service said the cause was a mechanical problem and not the wrong type of fuel used, as had been reported by some news outlets.

    Hotline On Call's Sarah Mimms scoops that Democrats in West Virginia "may have finally found their unicorn" to holding onto retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller's seat.

    Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., invited his supporters to a small fundraising lunch to discuss the possibility of him making a bid for retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss' seat, which he said he's giving "serious consideration."

    The Hill takes a look at outside groups exploiting loopholes in the "People's Pledge" to influence the Massachusetts special Senate election.

    Some lawmakers have offered a bill that would prohibit the term "Redskins" from being trademarked, as the debate over the NFL team's name expands from the legal system and the court of public opinion to Capitol Hill, the Washington Post's Ben Pershing reports.

    Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is writing a book about her 2012 Senate race against former GOP Rep. Todd Akin. No word yet if it will include her awesome diet tips.

    BuzzFeed analyzes the NCAA tournament brackets of both Rubio and Mr. Obama.

    New paintings from former President George W. Bush!

    Today's tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA: Many Americans don't qualify to take time off or simply aren't covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

    NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

    In case you missed it, we livestreamed, Mr. Obama's and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' news conference Thursday morning.

    Jeffrey Brown looked at the question of chemical weapons and their possible use in Syria with Leonard Spector of the Monterey Institute's Center for Nonproliferation and David Ignatius of The Washington Post.

    Hari Sreenivasan kicked off a new series about high-speed broadband in America with New York Times reporter Brian Stelter and Maker Studios co-founder Lisa Donovan. Online, we're asking: How is broadband reshaping your entertainment time?

    For Science Wednesday, desk assistant Jaywon Choe marks the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton's historic but ultimately failed trek across Antarctica.

    Ray Suarez interviewed Sampson Davis about his book "Living and Dying in Brick City," which explores what it's like being an emergency room doctor in Newark, N.J., given the injuries he sees caused by violence. Watch that here. And Jason Kane has more on the author.

    TOP TWEETS

    Yoko Ono joins #guncontrol debate by tweeting photo of John Lennon's bloodstained glasses. via @yokoono: twitter.com/yokoono/status...

    — Jim Roberts (@nycjim) March 21, 2013

    Fist bumping has officially jumped the shark when Chuck Schumer and Barbara Mikulski do it on the Senate floor.

    — frates (@frates) March 20, 2013

    Just saying..it is fun to watch @senatorbarb manage a bill on Senate floor. Upbeat and take no prisoners attitude

    — Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) March 20, 2013

    Sometimes you don't even need a whole sentence to have a great blog post: slate.com/blogs/browbeat...#productivity

    — Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) March 20, 2013

    Can't believe Obama stomping on his Fed Chairman's presser.

    — Ben White (@morningmoneyben) March 20, 2013

    No fewer than 5 GOP staffers are struggling to wheel Obamacare "red tape" tower from Capitol. twitter.com/ShaneGoldmache...

    — Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) March 20, 2013

    Congrats @hollandscheese for winning Grand Champion of US Cheese Championship w/Marieke Gouda! It's fantastic! ow.ly/i/1IYXT

    — Governor Walker (@GovWalker) March 20, 2013

    Meena Ganesan, Cassie M. Chew and desk assistant Simone Pathe 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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    Watch Video

    Deepa Gangwani explains how her group Together as One field-tested a cheaper cook stove.

    A shocking incident involving her maid and a trash collector helped set Deepa Gangwani on her quest to help the poor communities near where she lived in India.

    By her mid-30s, Gangwani, the daughter of two Indian shopkeepers, had picked up an MBA from Stanford and spent several years consulting for health care and renewable energy companies. She was professionally a success but -- surrounded by her country's poverty -- was suffering an existential crisis, asking whether she was doing anything really meaningful with her life. That was three years ago.

    No longer working from offices in cities like Mumbai and Kolkata, Gangwani took the NewsHour's call from a small municipality in southeastern India, where she was networking with one of the many nongovernmental organizations she hopes will take a look at a bioenergy system she's helped engineer over the past few years.

    It's made of a set of composting bins and a distillation tube that turn foods scraps and agricultural detritus into ethanol and animal feed and that Gangwani envisions being set up in towns across India to help generate a more stable source of electricity. These systems would also establish a more dignified type of work for India's trash collectors.

    Gangwani first took an interest in trash when she was volunteering for a community organization helping to improve the quality of living of the women trash collectors in her hometown of Pondicherry. These are women who go door-to-door collecting trash by hand and who are often looked down upon in India.

    At a meeting with some of these women in 2009, Gangwani learned that the maid at her own home had, in a fit of annoyance not long before, dumped a pile of garbage on another trash collector's head. She was shocked this had happened in her house, where she felt she treated those who worked with her with respect.

    "We consider ourselves to be very civilized and to treat people with dignity, and yet we haven't been able to overcome some of these very deep prejudices that exist," Gangwani said, speaking about the middle class milieu she's witnessed.

    Gangwani decided to quit her consulting job and launched Together as One, her bioenergy nonprofit, which she intends to make self-sustaining through the sale and partial ownership of the ethanol-producing systems, designed together with researchers and students at the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and with $60,000 in venture funding from Echoing Green, a New York nonprofit that helps social entrepreneurial startups.

    About 10 workers are needed to operate each system, which Gangwani says will produce enough ethanol to provide energy to 100 families a year. In India hundreds of millions of people live without stable electricity.

    With the design finished and a test system successfully running at a research institute in Pune, India, Gangwani said she and other nongovernmental and community organizations are embarking on recruiting waste workers across the country to manage a series of hub-and-spoke energy systems centered around these energy-generating machines. Workers at each site would truck agricultural leftovers and food scraps from surrounding fields and towns to the centralized fermentation site, where they'd dump the garbage into a series of giant covered bins. A yeast culture is added to this organic garbage, which ferments for three days, and the resulting liquid is fed into a distillation column, where it's heated and transformed into ethanol.

    No towns have yet installed one of the systems, but in practice, villagers could buy this ethanol and carry it home, using the fuel to power farming equipment, stoves and other small utilities. Of the solid waste that's left after the ethanol is produced, a portion could be sold as animal feed, and the rest would be converted to methane, used to power the entire system. With much of a town's organic "wet waste" gotten rid of this way, the town's other trash pickers wouldn't have to dig through as much sludge to gather the plastics and other recyclables they sell.

    Thanks to earlier government subsidies for community-scale biogas plants, Indian townships are already comfortable with the idea of local bioenergy plants. The problem, according to Gangwani, is the existing bioenergy plants primarily produce a gas, which has to be pumped out to the villages, not a liquid fuel like ethanol that can be sold in a can.

    "We run into villages where we'll see a biogas plant five kilometers away from someone's home, and they'll have a string of pipes running over all kinds of towers, piping the gas into homes in all sorts of dangerous configurations," she said.

    Gangwani intends to manage Together as One as a nonprofit but says the organization -- which is registered in California, where two of its five-member board live -- will keep an ownership stake in the energy systems it distributes so that it can recoup its investment costs and continue to grow, sustainably. Her goal is to install 100 of the systems in 2013, and she envisions installing 20,000 in India over the next three years and licensing the technology to organizations in other countries.

    Vivek Wadhwa, vice president of academics and innovation at Singularity University in Moffett Field, Calif., said he thinks the Together as One concept is great but might be difficult to implement on a large scale if it's dependent on the involvement of nongovernmental organizations.

    "If I was talking to (Gangwani), I would encourage her to go ahead and do it and try it out in a couple of small towns and villages, but I'm not optimistic she'll be able to get it spread widely unless she comes up with some kind of invention that's so easy to replicate" it can be set up without much NGO involvement, he said.

    "It's easy to build some technology; it's easy to reach a few people. The question is how are you going to impact the whole of India. How are you going to take it beyond one region and take it to another region? This is where the problems always are."

    But Gangwani isn't daunted and said the goal is for each local energy system to generate profit enough to operate on its own.

    "We recognize that the need right now is to generate capital at the grassroots level," she said. "It's not just that we're looking for a way to provide lighting or the ability to charge a mobile phone. What we're really looking to do is to leap out of this background of energy poverty to one where people could actually generate additional opportunities for their livelihoods."

    Slideshow by David Pelcyger. The NewsHour's Agents for Change series highlights individuals helping communities solve problems, build businesses and create jobs. We'll feature 10 of these social entrepreneurs just starting to make their mark, and invite your recommendations for others -- tweet us @NewsHourWorld and use hashtag #AgentsforChange. Or you can post them below in the comments section.

    Follow @NewsHourWorld

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  • 03/21/13--06:48: The Daily Frame
  • Click to enlarge.

    A woman looks at "Sequined Mannequins," a painting by American artist Tom Blackwell, at "Hyperrealism 1967-2012," an exhibition at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. Photo by Pedro Armestre/AFP/Getty Images.


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