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

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    FBI photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19.

    By many accounts, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who is wanted in the Boston Marathon bombings, was an athletic student who liked rap music and sports. As police continued to pursue the suspect in Watertown, Mass., questions swirled around possible motivations for the attacks.

    His brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died overnight in an encounter with police. According to the Associated Press, Tamerlan Tsarnaev studied accounting as a part-time student at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston.

    Their uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md., said the two men came from a Russian region near the southern predominately Muslim republic of Chechnya and had lived in the United States for about 10 years, reported the Associated Press.

    The men's father, Anzor Tsarnaev, who spoke with the AP by telephone from the southern Russian republic of Dagestan, called Dzhokhar a "true angel" and "intelligent boy" who was studying medicine.

    Dzhokhar graduated from the public high school Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, where he was on the wrestling squad, reported the Washington Post.

    A friend and former high school classmate, Ty Barros, 21, called Dzhokhar "a normal regular American kid" who liked rap music and sports and hung out with other kids.

    Their uncle, Tsarni, spoke to reporters in front of his house saying he had followed the marathon bombings in the news, and "I never would imagine that somehow the children of my brother would be associated with that."

    He said the last time he saw them was in December 2005 and hadn't been in touch with his brother, but was never aware of any ill will toward the United States. When asked why he didn't associate with his brother's family, he said, "I just wanted my family (to) be away from them."

    Tsarni said if he could speak to the hiding Dzhokhar, he would say, "Turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness. ... You put shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity."

    You can watch his full statement:

    Watch Video

    The dual bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured approximately 170.

    Related

    Ongoing Coverage: Hunt for the Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects

    Streets of Boston Eerily Quiet as Residents Take Shelter

    Boxing Coach Calls Bombing Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev 'Very Good Athlete'

    Boston Bombing Suspects' Uncle: 'Turn Yourself In'

    Bombing Suspects' Aunt: 'They are Just Normal Young Men'

    Follow @NewsHourWorld

    Support Your Local PBS Station


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    The new film "No Place on Earth" tells the incredible story of a small group of Jews who literally went underground, into caves, to escape the horrors of the Holocaust. It happened in 1942 in the Ukraine. The story began to come out only much later when a cave explorer from New York City happened upon the scene. And now it's told in a documentary that mixes the first-person accounts of survivors with re-enactments of events from the past.

    I recently spoke to the filmmaker, Janet Tobias, who is a veteran of network news and PBS, and Sonia Dodyk, one of the film's subjects who tells of her experiences as a young girl in the caves.

    A transcript will be posted soon.


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    Watch Video

    Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the two Boston Marathon bombings suspects, attributes their alleged actions to "being losers." He pleaded with the younger suspect, who is still at large, to turn himself in and ask for forgiveness.

    The uncle of the two men suspected in Monday's Boston Marathon bombings appeared overwhelmed with anger and emotion in front his home in Montgomery Village, Md., Friday. Ruslan Tsarni said he has not been in touch with his nephews in a number of years and that he hasn't seen the boys since 2005.

    Late Thursday night, the two suspects led Boston police on a wild car chase through suburban neighborhoods before one of them, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died in a shootout. The other suspect, identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, remains at large and was considered "extremely dangerous."

    Tsarni has urged the younger Tsarnaev to turn himself in.

    "Dzhokhar, if you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness," Tsarni said to reporters from his driveway Friday.

    Tsarni said he hasn't seen them since December 2005 and did not know of any possible involvement in terrorist groups or whether either had any paramilitary training. He added that his family is ashamed and that he loves and respects the United States.

    "Of course we're ashamed. Yes we're ashamed. They're children of my brother," he said.

    Related

    Ongoing Coverage: Hunt for the Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects

    Streets of Boston Eerily Quiet as Residents Take Shelter

    Teen Suspect in Boston Bombings a 'Regular American Kid'

    Boxing Coach Calls Bombing Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev 'Very Good Athlete'

    Bombing Suspects' Aunt: 'They are Just Normal Young Men'

    Support Your Local PBS Station


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    Watch Video Bob Russo coached Tamerlan Tsarnaev when he was a competitor at the Golden Gloves amateur nationals in 2009. Tsarnaev, one of the suspects of the Boston Marathon bombings, was killed Friday while in pursuit from police. Photo by Julia Malakie, Lowell Sun

    As the manhunt continues for 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, stories begin to unfold about his older brother and suspected accomplice in Monday's attack that killed three and wounded 170.

    Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed early Friday morning in an encounter with police. According to the Associated Press, the brothers are ethnic Chechen who had lived in Dagestan, which neighbors Chechnya in southern Russia. They had been in the U.S. for about a decade, an uncle said, and were believed to be living in Cambridge, Mass.

    Tamerlan studied accounting as a part-time student at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. He was also an aspiring boxer. According to the Lowell Sun, Tamerlan was a Lowell Golden Gloves boxer who told the paper in 2004 "I like the U.S.A." after winning his first fight in the north Massachusetts town.

    PBS NewsHour spoke to Bob Russo, Portland Boxing Club owner, who coached Tamerlan at the Golden Gloves amateur nationals in 2009.

    Russo said he didn't know the young boxer very well, but said he was very quite and "a very good athlete."

    Related

    Ongoing Coverage: Hunt for the Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects

    Streets of Boston Eerily Quiet as Residents Take Shelter

    Teen Suspect in Boston Bombings a 'Regular American Kid'

    Boston Bombing Suspects' Uncle: 'Turn Yourself In'

    Bombing Suspects' Aunt: 'They are Just Normal Young Men'

    Support Your Local PBS Station


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    Family, friends and acquaintances have come forward to describe the two Tsarnaev brothers, suspected of bombing Boston's Marathon. Ray Suarez talks to Farah Stockman of The Boston Globe and WBUR Public Radio's David Boeri about the city's extreme security measures, as well as what reporters know about the lives of the suspects.

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    Sophisticated technology and crowdsourcing have helped police and the public work together in identifying the suspects in the Boston bombing. But some of the theories posited online have targeted innocent people. Ray Suarez interviews former deputy homeland security adviser Richard Falkenrath and Will Oremus of Slate.

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The search for survivors from a fertilizer plant explosion persisted today in the small town of West, Texas, with word 60 people are still unaccounted for.

    Search-and-rescue workers sifted through the mangled, burned-out remains of buildings consumed by Wednesday night's explosion. Until this morning, the death toll was unknown, but Texas public safety officer Jason Reyes gave this figure.

    JASON REYES, Texas Department of Public Safety: It is with a heavy heart that I can confirm 12 individuals have been recovered from the fertilizer plant explosion. The deceased have been taken to the Dallas forensics lab for proper identification. To date, there have been approximately 200 reported injuries.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Late today, the death toll grew to 14. Reyes added that he couldn't say how many of the dead were first-responders.

    MAN: So, bomb just went off inside here. It's pretty bad. We have got a lot of firemen down.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: One was identified as Captain Kenneth Harris, a 30-year veteran of the Dallas Fire Department who was off-duty, but lived near West and responded to the scene.

    Authorities have now searched and cleared 150 buildings and have another 25 to examine. Meanwhile, federal investigators started collecting debris and other evidence to find a cause.

    AMY HUTYRA, Texas: I have friends here. I have relatives just down the road, and you can’t get in touch with them. So that's why I'm here, just to see if they're even alive.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: This afternoon, Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz toured the devastation. Cornyn said there are still 60 people missing.

    SEN. JOHN CORNYN, R-Texas: We know that there are a number of people unaccounted for. And right now, the authorities are going to the hospitals and making sure that they know where people are. So they're in the process. There are a number of confirmed dead, but there are others, people unaccounted for right now and, of course, more than 150 who suffered injuries. So, they're in the process of going -- of making that determination.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, the first remembrances of the victims began last night, as locals gathered for a candlelight vigil at St. Mary's Church. Authorities have also said there is still no sign of a criminal connection in the plant explosion.

    It's been a violent 24 hours in Iraq, as the country prepares to hold provincial elections on Saturday. Mortar fire and bombs targeted two groups of worshipers north of Baghdad as they were leaving Friday prayers. Nine people died and 29 others were injured. Overnight, a suicide bombing at a popular cafe in the capital killed 36 people and wounded dozens more. Today, the families and friends of the deceased came to a hospital morgue to collect their loved ones' bodies.

    Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is now in police custody after being taken -- after taking refuge at his home on the outskirts of Islamabad. The ex-military ruler is facing treason charges for firing senior judges while he was in power. Musharraf was arrested a day after fleeing the high court in a black SUV, as angry lawyers yelled after him, calling him a traitor. Musharraf insists his arrest is -- quote -- "politically motivated."

    Serbia and its former province of Kosovo reached a tentative deal today to normalize relations. The pact brokered by the European Union aimed to settle the status of Kosovo's Serbian minority, which doesn't recognize the ethnic Albanian leadership. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. A deal could clear the way for Serbia to start negotiations toward E.U. membership.

    Nicolas Maduro was sworn in today as Venezuela's new president. He was confirmed the winner in Sunday's election by a slim majority, after which his main challenger, Henrique Capriles, demanded an audit. Maduro's supporters wore red and lined the streets of Caracas leading to the national assembly, where he took the oath of office. The crowds also honored Hugo Chavez, who hand-picked Maduro as his successor before he died.

    The Federal Aviation Administration issued a statement today clearing all Boeing 787 Dreamliners to fly again by next week. The planes have been grounded for more than three months because of a battery system prone to overheating. Boeing redesigned the system and the FAA approved the changes. The grounding has cost Boeing an estimated $600 million dollars.

    The Boy Scouts of America said today they will ask their national council to vote on a proposal that would permit gay Boy Scouts, but continue to ban gay leaders. The organization, which has long banned gays, said the new direction is based on survey results from the scouting community. The vote is scheduled for late May.

    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 10 points to close at 14,547. The Nasdaq rose more than 39 points to close at 3,206. For the week, the Dow lost two percent; the Nasdaq fell 2.7 percent.

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


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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JEFFREY BROWN:And we close the week and this most unusual day of news with the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Mark, I used the word extraordinary at the top of the program, a major American city in lockdown. Your thoughts on seeing that?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, I mean, it's obviously reminiscent of 9/11 and a reminder of what this sort of a national trauma, and particularly a regional trauma, can do to a nation.

    I mean, we followed New York, the attack on New York and the attack on Washington, which obviously were far greater in volume and suffering, but -- by going into two wars and changing the way we live in this country.

    And you can see right now, I mean, the willingness of people to accept Boston becoming a ghost town, basically.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But 9/11 was a while ago. Have we forgotten that sense of -- in our own cities?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, I don't think so, judging by the reaction.

    When this is all over, I want to see a debate from people who know what they're talking about, about the wisdom of shutting down a region to chase one 19-year-old. I mean, it -- it could be an overreaction. We will wait and see.

    And, also, when you go to places that suffer from these sorts of attacks, Israel and other places, one of the things they tell you is that the power and the importance of resilience and the importance of normalcy. So, say in Israel, during the Intifada days, when there would be an attack in a cafe, that cafe would be open the next day. And so the idea was to keep society normal, not to minimize what's happened, but to keep society as normal as possible.

    And so I'm not sure we're achieving that with the media coverage and the shutting down an entire city.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But that's what you mean about the potential impact on the larger psyche.

    DAVID BROOKS: Right. You want your society to be a resilient society. And to be a resilient society, you want as much normalcy as possible.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, what do you think about that, how we ...

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, we have heard resilience in the people of Boston praised, including the president, and the governor, and the mayor, and just about everybody else, especially at the ceremony at the Holy Cross Cathedral on Thursday.

    And virtually every commentator has spoken about the pluck, the mettle, the intestinal fortitude, the toughness of the people of Boston so, at some point, it becomes a little bit self-fulfilling. If everybody thinks we are, we're going to be. And we are, and, damn it, we will show them.

    I think that seems to be the very unrepresentative, unscientific sample that have appeared, at least before television cameras and microphones.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But, at a ceremony, the one you mentioned, the president speaks, we have had these before. This is when we look for a certain kind of leadership, right?

    DAVID BROOKS: Right.

    And I think all the leaders have done a nice job, Deval Patrick, the mayor, the president. I think you can sort of be proud of people stepping up. The other thing that strikes me is that you go through these phases of a certain type of violence. We don't know exactly what motivated these people.

    We have had a lot of violent act by loners, by people who have slipped through the cracks of society, whether it's the school shootings, potentially these two, some other things down the road. So, once upon a time, it was anarchists 100 years ago. Then it was part of big terror organizations. This might be atomized, lonely, dissenting individuals.

    And so that's a different kind of society and producing a different kind of nut job.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, we have spent the whole program talking about what we know and most -- a lot of what we don't know.

    MARK SHIELDS: That's right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Is it too early to talk about political consequences? It wasn't too early for some to bring it up already today talking about potential impact, for example, on immigration law.

    MARK SHIELDS: No, I think we had Ann Coulter, a leading conservative commentator, saying it's too bad suspect number one won't be able to be legalized by Mario -- by Marco Rubio in an obviously sarcastic observation, a knock on Rubio for his leadership on the immigration bill.

    I don't think there's any question that it -- Boston had a negative impact on the vote on the Manchin-Toomey compromise on gun control in the Senate. And I think the fear -- and legitimate fear -- on the part of those in political office is that it will embolden candidates like Steve King in Iowa, who's sort of a xenophobic, anti -- anti-immigrant candidate, to challenge for the Republican Senate nomination, and move the dialogue and the debate.

    And depending upon what the effect is on the Senate, where there seems to be strong support, not deep, but strong -- wide support for the immigration bill, the impact on the House -- if you're scared stiff as a House Republican that you're going to be challenged in a primary, because the primary determines who does win those districts, this could make them a lot more timid in supporting immigration reform.

    DAVID BROOKS: I'm a little bit dubious that it will have a huge effect on immigration reform.

    These are not typical immigrants. They have been here a while. They're -- American schools, reasonably assimilated, judging by their Twitter feeds. And I just think the immigration debate is going to take over itself. And I'm a little -- I have become much more pessimistic, even in the Senate.

    So -- but I doubt this will play into that. That will be a big separate debate over a series of weeks or months.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What about gun the control? By any measure, that was the big political story of the week, the defeat in the Senate, including the push for stronger background checks. What happened?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I was surprised.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You were?

    DAVID BROOKS: I was saying on this show that it would pass, at least some sort of weak background checks.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.

    DAVID BROOKS: And I think what we learned was, there's long been a structure that has made it hard to pass gun control laws.

    And then when Sandy Hook happened, we think that underlying political structure is changed, but it wasn't changed. If you're in a red state, whether you're a Democrat or Republican, there's still no advantage to voting for it, mostly because the people who oppose guns vote on that issue. The people who oppose gun control vote on that issue. The people who support those gun control measures tend not to vote on this issue.

    And so the political calculus in those states is still all against reform, and the political mobilization never reached those areas.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So it was all politics?

    MARK SHIELDS: No, I don't think it was all politics.

    I think there were real changes. I think there was some -- we talk about cowardice, and -- but there was some real courage. I mean, there were a lot of senators, western senators, Mark Udall, Michael Bennet, Tom Udall, New Mexico, Colorado, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley in Oregon, historically -- Jon Tester in Montana, Tim Johnson in South Dakota -- states that historically had not -- it had been sort of a write-off.

    You didn't vote for gun control, because the gun culture community was too strong there, the hunting community. So I think Ron Brownstein had a really interesting piece that he could see this emerging as a national issue. There were 21 states where both senators voted for the Manchin-Toomey gun control amendment. And they represented 261 electoral votes.

    There were 17 states where both senators vote against it. They represent only 146 electoral votes. They're smaller, more rural, and less popular states. And if -- to the degree that Marco Rubio, for example, if he were to be the Republican nominee in 2016, he'd have trouble in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

    He'd have trouble in winning women's votes, having been strongly against gun control -- so the possibility of this being a national issue. The other mistake that was made, in my judgment, that nobody I think has addressed publicly is that the Democrats had a golden opportunity.

    Once 13 Republicans said they would lead a filibuster, that's when they should have thrown down the gauntlet and said, OK, you want to have a filibuster? Let's have a filibuster on background checks. And we will go day and night and put the face on the opposition to gun control on that issue.

    And I think -- I think you would have routed them. I really do. But, obviously, Sen. Reid and the Democratic leadership made a different decision.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, the president came out afterwards very angry, right, at the White House. He said 90 percent of Americans favored the background checks. The majority of senators favored it.

    He was essentially saying democracy has been foiled. It sounds like he's trying to play to what Mark's talking about to build some kind of outrage.

    DAVID BROOKS: I think he was genuinely angry.

    I mean, he was genuinely moved by what happened, by spending so much time with the families.

    MARK SHIELDS: The families, that's right.

    DAVID BROOKS: And so I think he was genuinely angry.

    But it is a fact or a nature of our politics that, when you have a dedicated minority going against a broad coalition defending a compromise piece of legislation that none of them are entirely happy with, that dedicated minority often beats the broad and fragile majority. And I think that's what happened here. And that may happen on immigration, by the way.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But when the president says that this still -- he still wants to come back with this, Sen. Manchin said it still has some life, the families vow to keep it alive, you think they are wrong?

    DAVID BROOKS: You have got to start in the red states. You have got to start with -- Manchin and Toomey was a step, an important step.

    MARK SHIELDS: It was an important step.

    DAVID BROOKS: And you have got to start there and make sure it's not a cultural issue, the East Coast and West Coast telling the center of the country what to do. You have got to start with the red states and then go outward.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But you're suggesting it still may have life?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think Manchin and Toomey both deserve credit. I mean, they really did. They both took a risk politically.

    I do -- I think Jeff, that this is an issue -- and it's fascinating to me. We have seen same-sex marriage emerge as just a bare majority issue in the past three months, and you have a flood of people running to support it. I mean, Heidi Heitkamp, the new Democrat from North Dakota, all right, who voted against the background check, now, I'm willing to bet that in North Dakota, there are more people who are for a background check than there are who are for same-sex marriage.

    And I think it comes back to what David has said. There isn't on the pro-gun control side a political infrastructure. There aren't volunteers. In the LGBT community, the lesbian, gay and bisexual, transgender community, there's political activity. There are those who are willing to get involved in the campaign, write a check.

    There isn't that. And there is on the anti-gun side. And that's I think what has been missing from the pro-gun control side is really shock troops and people who are willing to volunteer in the field and write checks.

    JEFFREY BROWN: We're just in our last 45 seconds here.

    But today you were writing about how guns and immigration sort of will show us the future of politics, particularly on the right.

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Immigration is the big one.

    If the Republicans do not -- and this is a bitterly divided party on immigration, growing more divided, the opposition growing in the Republican ranks. If they shoot down this immigration reform, that will really doom the party. That's the big one this year.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That's bigger than -- than guns?

    DAVID BROOKS: Than guns and anything else, yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: David Brooks, Mark Shields, thanks very much.

    MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Jeff.


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    Watch Video

    The Daily Download's Lauren Ashburn and Howard Kurtz discuss the #stopKony movement's effectiveness with PBS NewsHour's Christina Bellantoni.

    The Kony 2012 video skyrocketed to almost 100 million views on YouTube in the course of one year. But was a nonprofit group's attempt to make the African warlord a household name effective if he's still in power?

    Lauren Ashburn and Howard Kurtz of the Daily Download explored the #stopKony movement with me in a special web-only segment. The key question -- one year after activists promised that the world would know Joseph Kony's name -- did it work?

    "There was something about it -- maybe because it was such an odd phenomenon -- that caused it to catch fire," Kurtz said. "What we learned in even the most viral of videos, the Internet is far better at enlightenment than enforcement."

    But perhaps the unfulfilled momentum wasn't for lack of passion from the Kony campaign's supporters. An Australian newspaper looked at the finances of Invisible Children, the group that launched #kony2012 and the viral video, and found that the largest portion of money it took it in last fiscal year went toward promotions.

    As we noted in the segment, the effort is still alive, despite officials suspending the manhunt earlier this spring.

    But Alex Naser-Hall, a spokesman for the Invisible Children group, sent us this story which reports that Ugandan authorities have said they would resume the search after "requisite consultations" with the African Union and United Nations.

    Naser-Hall took issue with Kurtz's statement questioning "concrete results" from the effort, and pointed us to the group's year-in-review roundup.

    "There has been so much progress made since the film's launch and the public response," he said. "However, as you all discussed in your clip, the main objective of the campaign -- seeing Joseph Kony arrested -- has yet to be completed. A ton of progress has been made, though, by the U.N., A.U., Ugandan Military, U.S. advisers, etc. They're getting closer."

    Naser-Hall added it is the group's hope that "these discussions continue until he is captured."

    His comments echo the perspective of other nonprofit group leaders. In most cases, the strategy with social media is to tell the story of the nonprofit.

    AdAge spoke with the founder of a creative studio who worked on the Kony project after it went viral. "Usually in the nonprofit space, it's about storytelling and visuals and making sure the donation platforms work. This was a totally different kind of beast," Javan Van Gronigen said in the article.

    Kelly Williams, vice president of marketing and communications for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, one of the largest U.S. charities, echoed him in an interview with the PBS NewsHour. A video that finds millions of viewers is "always absolutely awesome," she said, but that the goal overall of marketing content online is to drive donations.

    Big Brothers Big Sisters posted a series of webisodes beginning in November 2011 that told stories of mentor relationships. The projects' view counts haven't been enormous -- they're downright modest by Kony standards, with some 3,000 to 5,000 views per episode. But by the last episode's release one year later, online donations to the group had jumped 7 percent. That money may not intensify the public's activism in the operation, but it does allow an organization to expand.

    "Its all integrated. It all works together," Williams said.

    Invisible Children has a new video on its site, and it concludes with a fundraising ask. Watch it below.

    And here is the story Lara Logan recently did about Kony for 60 Minutes.

    Support Your Local PBS Station


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  • 04/22/13--05:55: The Daily Frame
  • Click to enlarge.

    "Redball by American artist Kurt Perschke is installed Sunday at Quai de Valmy in Paris. Perschke's RedBall Project has been exhibited in cities around the world. Photo by Laurent Emmanuel/Getty Images.


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    By Dara Wier

    You said one thing as a way of not saying something else. You wrote something so that other things wouldn't be written. You drew me a picture of one thing and not anything else. I'm trying to figure out how this applies to what you've gone And done in case, by doing so, a solution to the problem we've been Having no success solving makes itself evident. For the sake of Argument, let's say I'm a crime and you're a clue and someone Else, we don't know who, is the detective. We're on the Wind River and it's twilight and you have on your windbreaker of many Pockets and I have on my boots in which I hide whatever needs To be hidden. To be perfectly accurate you are barefoot and I Have nothing to hide at the moment. Wild geese. Two butterflies Of black and blue geometry. A coal train. Skid marks on the Curve in the road that will point us slowly into a nearby cave. Dara WierDara Wier is the author of 10 collections of poetry, including "You Good Thing" (Wave Books, 2013), "Remnants of Hannah" (Wave Books, 2006) and "Reverse Rapture" (Verse Press, 2005). She is on the permanent faculty in the MFA program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


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    Flowers at a memorial site along the course of the Boston Marathon. Photo by Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images.

    The Morning Line

    The investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings and the push on Capitol Hill to overhaul the country's immigration system have converged in recent days.

    Supporters of immigration reform say the attacks should prompt lawmakers to quickly pass legislation to gain a better understanding of the millions of undocumented people estimated to be residing in the country.

    "What happened in Boston and international terrorism, I think, should urge us to act quicker, not slower when it comes to getting the 11 million identified," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

    "I think now is the time to bring all the 11 million out of the shadows and find out who they are. Most of them are here to work, but we may find some terrorists in our midst who have been hiding in the shadows," added Graham, a member of the bipartisan group of eight senators that introduced a comprehensive immigration bill last week.

    Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., another member of the so-called Gang of Eight, made a similar case for the group's proposal during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."

    "The worst thing we can do is nothing. If we do nothing, leaving 11 million people in the shadows, not making our border safer, not having the information that comes from employment and these visa holders, we will be less safe in America," Durbin said. "Immigration reform will make us safer. And I hope that those who are critical of it will just come forward and say what their idea is. We've come up with a sound plan to keep this country safe."

    But some conservatives have urged proponents of immigration reform to ease up in their campaign in light of the events last week, given that the suspects in the bombings are two brothers of Chechen heritage who immigrated to the U.S. more than a decade ago.

    At the first hearing on the Gang of Eight's proposal Friday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Iowa Republican Charles Grassley said the investigation could "shed light on the weaknesses" of the current immigration system.

    Grassley said the incident raises serious questions, among them: "How can individuals evade authorities and plan such attacks on our soil? How can we beef up security checks on people who wish to enter the U.S.? How do we ensure that people who wish to do us harm are not eligible for benefits under the immigration laws, including this new bill before us?"

    Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., also voiced support for slowing down the pace of immigration reform. "You usually end up with bad policy if you do it in an emotional way or an emotional reaction," Coats said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

    "We have a broken system, it needs to be reformed. But I'm afraid we'll rush to some judgments relative to immigration and how it's processed," Coats added.

    The national debate over the approach to immigration reform in the aftermath of the Boston bombings has also divided residents of the west Philadelphia suburbs, reports Trip Gabriel of the New York Times.

    With the Boston attacks occurring the same week the Gang of Eight unveiled its proposal, the connection between immigration reform and national security was unavoidable. The questions going forward then are how long do those two issues remain linked and which side is able to make a stronger case for either moving forward or slowing down the legislative process when it comes to immigration policy?

    Those questions will begin to be answered Monday as the Senate Judiciary Committee holds its second hearing looking at Gang of Eight's proposal.

    THE MIRANDA QUESTION

    Graham prompted a separate discussion about Americans' rights after the conclusion of the Boston bomber manhunt on Friday, when he suggested that captured suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shouldn't hear his Miranda rights from investigators before they questioned him.

    Graham tweeted:

    If captured, I hope Administration will at least consider holding the Boston suspect as enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes.

    — Lindsey Graham (@GrahamBlog) April 19, 2013

    The last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to "remain silent."

    — Lindsey Graham (@GrahamBlog) April 19, 2013

    David Graham of the Atlantic calls the South Carolina Republican's suggestion "breathtaking." Tsarnaev is an American citizen who committed crimes on U.S. soil, he points out.

    But reporter Charlie Savage explains in the New York Times how police planned to delay Mirandizing Tsarnaev. The Obama administration cited a "public safety exception" that allowed investigators to seek information that could prevent other violence before reading him his rights.

    ACLU executive director Anthony Romero disagreed with the decision. He said in a statement:

    Every criminal defendant is entitled to be read Miranda rights. The public safety exception should be read narrowly. It applies only when there is a continued threat to public safety and is not an open-ended exception to the Miranda rule. Additionally, every criminal defendant has a right to be brought before a judge and to have access to counsel. We must not waver from our tried-and-true justice system, even in the most difficult of times. Denial of rights is un-American and will only make it harder to obtain fair convictions.

    Generally, a thin majority of Americans prefer advising terrorism suspects of their Miranda rights, according to this FiveThirtyEight blog post with poll data from 2010.

    Whether Tsarnaev is physically able to answer questions raises another issue. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said over the weekend the suspect couldn't communicate because of his condition. Officials noted a severe injury to his throat, possibly caused by a suicide attempt. But NBC News reported that Tsarnaev was answering some early questions Sunday in writing.

    The focus on the decision over Tsarnaev's Miranda rights led conservative lawmakers to lobby for a broader legal situation for the suspect. He should be tried as an enemy combatant, they said. That distinction would further suspend his rights and take him out of the federal criminal justice system. Instead, he would be charged "under the laws of war in a military commission or held indefinitely without charge as a prisoner or detainee of war," the Washington Post explained.

    Sens. Graham, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and John McCain of Arizona and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., released this statement Saturday:

    We have concerns that limiting this investigation to 48 hours and exclusively relying on the public safety exception to Miranda, could very well be a national security mistake. It could severely limit our ability to gather critical information about future attacks from this suspect. We should be focused on gathering intelligence from this suspect right now that can help our nation understand how this attack occurred and what may follow in the future. That should be our focus, not a future domestic criminal trial that may take years to complete.

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who serves as the Senate Intelligence Committee chair, countered that the enemy combatant approach for Tsarnaev would be "unconstitutional," she said on "Fox News Sunday."

    So far, there's no indication that the Republican leaders' approach would apply to Tsarnaev. Federal prosecutors still are at work on bringing charges against him.

    If you'd like to relive Friday's drama as it unfolded, the NewsHour produced two shows Friday night, with an original broadcast that coincided with police's frustrated message that Tsarnaev was still on the loose and an update for viewers on the West Coast around 9 p.m. ET as the final standoff ended.

    Sometimes it's the PBS NewsHours. We did two tonight. twitter.com/tcd004/status/...

    — Travis (@tcd004) April 20, 2013

    We looked at what is known about the Tsarnaev brothers and their connections. The NewsHour also reported how technology and social media were major factors in the investigation.

    Watch Friday night's breakings news here or below:

    Watch Video

    On Friday, the consoler-in-chief made a briefing-room appearance in his statement to the nation. President Barack Obama had been silent on the manhunt Thursday night and for most of Friday, partly to stay out of investigators' way, Buzzfeed's Evan McMorris-Santoro wrote.

    Watch Mr. Obama's statement:

    Watch Video

    LINE ITEMS

    As the debate in Washington shifts from guns to immigration, The Fix articulates what Beltway-types have been hinting: Immigration reform stands a much stronger chance than the gun bill, and maybe even because of gun control legislation's failure.

    But Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Friday morning that his background checks amendment could get 70 votes if the NRA didn't score of votes. But members, he said, are "scared to death." Sporting jeans with a blazer and on his way to the mountains to hunt after a press breakfast at the Third Way, Manchin said his mission now is using his credibility as a gun-culture guy to get out the facts about his amendment to what he called the majority of NRA members who support "common sense" background checks.

    Families of Newtown victims accused senators of "cowardice" over the weekend. "I'm honestly disgusted that there were so many senators that are doing nothing about the fact that my mom was gunned down in her elementary school," Erica Lafferty told CBS' Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation." Lafferty mother, Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, was killed in the December shooting.

    Mother Jones spotlights this prescient chart from the Sunlight Foundation, which helps explain why senators voted the way they did.

    Democratic donors, including former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley, plan to cut their funding to Democratic senators who voted against the background checks bill.

    Stuart Rothenberg examines why one red state Democrat up in 2014 voted for the Manchin-Toomey amendment.

    The Wall Street Journal traces the religious evolution of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother.

    The NRCC on Monday is unleashing the "Patriot Program" to bolster its 11 most vulnerable members before it turns to attacking Democrats during the 2014 election season.

    The Democratic tracker following Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage handed over his recording devices before a Chamber of Commerce dinner last week. But that didn't keep the Bangor Daily News from hearing that LePage said in his speech he'd be "the next Scott Walker."

    New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie announced measures Friday to strengthen the state's already strict gun laws, which would also make it easier to commit the mentally ill and require labeling of "mature" video games.

    Peter Baker takes New York Times readers on a tour of the new George W. Bush Library. Mr. Obama will attend a dedication ceremony there Thursday.

    And Bush says he hopes his brother Jeb will run for president in 2016.

    While the NRCC may have dropped Mark Sanford, he received a little drop in the bucket from McCain's leadership PAC at the end of last week. But even without a VoteVets ad targeting Sanford debuting Monday, groups against Sanford are outspending groups supporting him by more than three-to-one in the district.

    The Republican National Committee kept its books in the black through the first quarter of 2013, with $8.67 million cash on hand and no debt. The committee raised $18.02 million, a total notable for coming largely from grassroots efforts to expand. Chairman Reince Priebus and the committee said 20 percent more first time donors gave than in the same three-month period of 2011, and 98 percent of the donations were less than $200. "These numbers show there's great enthusiasm among Republicans to grow our ranks, welcome new voters, and build our party," Priebus said.

    The Republican Party is splintering over which major operative -- Karl Rove, the Koch brothers or another group -- will manage its voter data, Politico reports.

    "I'm the Raul Labrador of the House," not "the Marco Rubio of the House." National Journal's Tim Alberta profiles the Idaho Republican who's bringing conservatives on board with immigration reform in the House.

    As Maryland Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley ponders what's next, he's trying to build a solid "policy framework" modeled after Bill Clinton's efforts before his 1992 campaign.

    Koch Industries, the private company led by one-half of the pair of conservative activist brothers, is thinking about purchasing Tribune Company's regional newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun. The New York Times reports this story.

    Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., fell into a fountain at a gala, Roll Call's Heard on the Hill dishes.

    Well put, Amy Poehler.

    NewsHour reporter-producer Katelyn Polantz will be joining an esteemed group at UC Berkeley in a few weeks as a New York Times Fellow for "The Changing Face of America: Inside the Latino Vote and Immigration Reform."

    NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

    Mark Shields and David Brooks reacted to how an American city responds to emergency and reflected on the defeat of the gun background checks bill, agreeing that supporters of gun control -- and to some extent, immigration reform -- don't have the kind of mobilizing power that has propelled same-sex marriage proponents.

    Watch here or below:

    Watch Video

    Christina Bellantoni and the Daily Download team looked at what happened to the #StopKony movement one year after millions watched the promotional video. Their segment explores the differences between marketing and activism. Watch Video

    TOP TWEETS

    Virginia March unemployment rate falls to 5.3%. Lowest since Dec 2008. Related: Maryland is 6.6%. Growing gulf between bordering states

    — Tucker Martin (@jtuckermartin) April 19, 2013

    Odd fact: If Congress fails to pass the online sales tax bill, the gas tax will go up automatically in MD & VA.

    — Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) April 22, 2013

    Remember when MoDo would just hand her column over to Sorkin instead of conjuring a democracy bent to fit his plots? nyti.ms/11bEJC9

    — Sasha Issenberg (@sissenberg) April 21, 2013

    Less than the times per day my mom reminds me that I'm not married RT @may_gun I wonder how many marriage proposals per day corybooker gets?

    — Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) April 21, 2013

    I love you, @theoniontwitpic.com/cki05r

    — Elise Foley (@elisefoley) April 19, 2013

    So, here's a picture of Bill Clinton wearing a Fedorabuzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/b...

    — Doug Mataconis (@dmataconis) April 21, 2013

    Christina Bellantoni and politics 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

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

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    First Bomb Blast on Boyleston Street Top photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

    Last Monday afternoon, author Erica Brown had some time on her hands in Boston. She was there to address a cultural arts gathering, and, with a few hours before the appearance, she decided to check out the Boston Marathon.

    Brown had lived in Boston for a number of years, so she knew the importance of the event. She also knew how to read the expression of elation on the faces of the runners as they crossed the finish line. Twenty-six miles is a long way to go even if you are an experienced long-distance athlete.

    Then came two ground-shaking blasts. Chaos. Panic.

    And there she was, smack-dab in the middle of what could have been the last day of her life. She even thought to herself, "Today is the day I could die."

    Death is something Erica Brown has thought quite a bit about. As the author of the new book "Happier Endings: A Meditation on Life and Death," she embraces the end that will someday come and makes a plea for people to do a better job of planning for it.

    Yet last week, Brown found herself going through the same emotional trauma as everyone else. She was scared. She was confused. And she was numb.

    I spoke with her about those emotions -- and how they were impacted by the ideas in her recent book about death -- late last week.

    BETTY ANN BOWSER: Erica Brown, thank you so much for joining us. We had originally planned this book conversation for 2 p.m. last Monday but we had to postpone it, which left you with some free time mid-afternoon before your event. Since you were in Boston that day, you decided to go check out the marathon. Tell us about your experience.

    ERICA BROWN: Well, my hotel was right near the finish line, so I decided to head down there. I was walking around and taking pictures, texting them to my kids. And then the explosions went off. Nobody knew what was going on, and then, all of a sudden, there was this rush of human beings running down stairs, running down the block, eyes wide open, mouths wide open. People not understanding what was going on, but screaming. A lot of screaming, a lot of sirens.

    Everything changed so quickly. The atmosphere had been so liberating. It's this real sense of the human triumph of spirit at the finish line and people are high-fiving each other and hugging each other and strangers are giving people flowers. And then when this happened, it's as if it all got erased in a few moments.

    BETTY ANN BOWSER: So you were about a block from the finish line and you heard these two explosions. And having just written this book, what in the world went through your mind?

    ERICA BROWN: Well I also lived in Israel during the first two intifadas, so those sounds and that screaming and the explosion and the sirens was unfortunately not so foreign to me. And of course, you go through in your mind and you say, 'Gosh, I could die today.' I wasn't at the site of the explosion. But I think the sense of not really knowing if this was it or if this was just the beginning was very paralyzing. And certainly, the whole image of Sept. 11 went racing through my head.

    BETTY ANN BOWSER: So this thought: "I could die today." You're processing that thought. Were you processing it about yourself, about other people? How were you trying to work through that?

    ERICA BROWN: I would say I'm still working through it because obviously it was just a very shattering experience that takes a while to process. I look at the pictures that I took on my phone of the finish line and it's hard to imagine that I was there and a short time later, there was going to be blood there and all these reports of people dying.

    I think I was thinking about my own death and how that would affect my family. In the process of writing the book, I took my own advice. And part of that, in the process of preparing for your demise, is creating an ethical will, making sure your finances are in order, buying burial plots. So those basic pieces were done. And so I think I actually took comfort in the fact that my last wishes would be respected and they were known. No one had to second-guess them.

    Money is not unique. It's in many ways the least distinctive aspect of you that you can pass on. The most distinctive thing is your wisdom and life experience, so why should you keep that for yourself? -- Author Erica Brown

    BETTY ANN BOWSER: But these are things that generally people do toward the end of their lives, when they're in their 60s, 70s, 80s. In the case of Monday, the three people who died were under the age of 30. How could anyone have thought to plan for something like that?

    ERICA BROWN: I think most people don't. I think sometimes you have soldiers going into battle who will write letters, who will think about their mortality and I think there are certain people who are of a more philosophical orientation or people who face personal illness or illness in their family who do have a sense that you could die at any minute.

    But I think that human beings are great factories for denial. And it is the most evident piece of knowledge that we have. People say it's death and taxes. But we know that we're going to die more than we know that we're going to pay taxes. For those who are in tax-evasion mode, there's no death-evasion mode. The angel of death comes either way.

    So why wouldn't you have the conversations you need to have or grant the forgiveness that you need to grant or write down the wisdom that you've collected? When you're a child -- an 8-year-old who passes away -- it's only natural that those are not things that you would ever think about. But as you age, as you start thinking about who you want to be professionally, as you choose life partners, when you have your first child, I think there are certain stages where you say, "It is time for me to get things in order."

    BETTY ANN BOWSER: And in your opinion, what should "getting things in order" look like?

    ERICA BROWN: Well most people that I speak to have financial wills. But very few people I speak to have ethical wills. And I always tell people, "Money is not unique. It's in many ways the least distinctive aspect of you that you can pass on. The most distinctive thing is your wisdom and life experience, so why should you keep that for yourself?"

    Make it a project that every 10 years on that birthday, you'll sit down and re-write an ethical will, or what you've learned. Because people who have those from relatives who have passed on, they treasure that. So even if you just take an hour to do it, that's more than most people will spend in a lifetime.

    BETTY ANN BOWSER: Why do you think Americans have such a tough time talking about death? Even opening the subject to discussion?

    ERICA BROWN: I think that we live in a society that prides itself, sometimes falsely, on its exceptionalism. And one aspect of exceptionalism is the sense of invincibility. A lot of it has to do with a certain naïve way in which we think we'll live forever, we'll be strong forever, we'll be powerful forever. And that makes us so woefully under-prepared for the times when we're not. There are societies where the average citizen is much more vigilant about life because they understand that life is fragile and that we're vulnerable.

    In my research, I read a great endorsement for another book on this topic called, "Good to Go." The endorsement said: "If you or someone you know is going to die, buy this book." And it just made me laugh, because it's so emblematic of the society in which we live today.

    BETTY ANN BOWSER: A lot of our parents come from a generation where we don't talk about this. And if you have a parent from that generation who doesn't want to even discuss the subject but you know that the subject needs to be held, how can you suggest that you open a conversation?

    ERICA BROWN: That's one of the reasons I wrote the book -- to give people some language and structure to facilitate those difficult conversations. I think the gentle touch rather than judgmental touch usually works best. Ask them: Have you ever thought about the collected wisdom that you gained about friendship, wisdom, marriage, money, charity? Sometimes it's the circuitous route that helps people think about their collective wisdom. Then you can get into other questions: Have you written a will, have you thought about burial?

    Unfortunately, in the fog of losing someone, the death industry comes in and takes tremendous advantage because there are expensive funeral costs that could be diminished for your family or the second-guessing or the in-fighting that happens when people have not specified where their possession should go. You watch these things and it rips apart families. I don't believe that any mother or father would want to experience their children fighting over their legacy because the parents themselves didn't make it abundantly clear. So I think in that way, we actually give the gift to ourselves with the knowledge that we're preparing the way for a clear vision for the next generation.

    BETTY ANN BOWSER: You discuss religion quite a bit in the book. But do you think that's crucial to the process of preparing for death?

    ERICA BROWN: No, I don't. I do think that in interviewing people from different spiritual traditions that if you have a strong belief in the afterlife, that it does help people deal with death a little better. Often, if people have been in the military or have served in a war, they're often more honest and candid about their mortality. But I don't think you have to be a religious person. I think most people are spiritual beings even if they're not religiously affiliated with a church or house of worship or particular denomination.

    I think it may give more language, so it may make it more accessible. And you may be in a house of worship where you're clergy person does speak about these issues with frequency. But no, I don't think you have to be religious. I think you just have to have a pulse. In the sense that you have to be alive enough to realize the importance of living while you're living and preparing to die because that's part of the life cycle.

    BETTY ANN BOWSER: What advice would you have for people in the Boston area, and for that matter in Texas, as well, where there have been a number of deaths in an explosion down there, who are going through the suddenness, the unexpected nature of this sudden loss? What advice would you have for them on how to deal with it?

    ERICA BROWN: Having lived there, I can say that Boston is a tough town and a resilient town. But I think it's time to mourn and grieve and honor those who are ailing by sending our best wishes towards them and by being a more vigilant society. I think we're not as careful in terms of planning events and making sure that we can all be on the front lines to make sure these incidents don't happen or that we are more careful.

    But it helps us to remember that we don't know when the last day is. So if you could craft a last day, then craft it now and live it now. Are there things that you want to do on your bucket list? I always encourage people to have an emotional bucket list. Is there forgiveness that you have to grant or forgiveness that you have to ask? Are there regrets that you have to correct right now? Are there relationships that you could cement? Is there an 'I love you' that must be said? If these are things that we can do now, why wait? Because we don't know when that last day is. For some people, unfortunately, it was this past Monday.

    BETTY ANN BOWSER: You've written so much about this, you've thought about it so much, you've interviewed so many people. When you think of your own death, how do you think of it?

    ERICA BROWN: I guess I range between being terrified of not existing and feeling remarkably blessed by the life I've had thus far, which has been relatively pain-free. I feel extremely blessed. I have four beautiful and healthy children. I've been married for 25 wonderful years, I've watched my career blossom. I'd love to keep living and keep experiencing the blessings. But I understand that if I had to go today, I hope I could look back and say, "I made the most of the day."

    I think that desire to squeeze meaning out of every day has helped me come to terms with the fact that one day I'm going to go. I've done my wills -- including my ethical will -- I've made my burial request, I've put those pieces into place. So at the very least, I think my children will be free of that burden. And I think that the people I love know that I love them.

    BETTY ANN BOWSER: All things to consider. Erica Brown, thank you so much for joining us.

    ERICA BROWN: Thank you.

    This interview has been edited for clarity. Top photo: Officials react as the first explosion goes off on Boylston Street near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15. Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

    For more coverage on topics like this one, visit our Health homepage.

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    By Larry Kotlikoff

    Larry Kotlikoff's Social Security original 34 "secrets", his additional secrets, his Social Security "mistakes" and his Social Security gotchas have prompted so many of you to write in that we now feature "Ask Larry" every Monday.

    We are determined to continue it until the queries stop or we run through the particular problems of all 78 million Baby Boomers, whichever comes first. Kotlikoff's state-of-the-art retirement software is available, for free, in its "basic" version. His considerable and often very useful output is available on his website.

    Mikhail -- Tempe, Ariz.: I am 66 and planning to work until 72 when my wife will reach 66. Will I have larger benefits if I wait until 72 to start to take them?

    Larry Kotlikoff: Do not wait beyond age 70 to collect your retirement benefit. There is no increase in your retirement benefit for waiting beyond age 70. None at all. So if you wait until age 72, you will simply give up two years of retirement benefits for nothing. These are benefits you earned.

    You should, of course, wait until 70 if you can afford to, since your benefit will be 32 percent higher than if you were to take benefits now, at age 66. When your wife reaches age 66, she can apply just for your spousal benefit and wait until age 70 to collect her largest possible retirement benefit. If she reaches age 66 before you reach age 70, you can file for your retirement benefit and suspend its collection until age 70. This filing and suspending will permit your wife to collect her spousal benefit.

    If you file and suspend before your wife reaches full retirement age (66) and she applies for a spousal benefit, she will be forced to take a reduced retirement benefit and her spousal benefit won't equal half of your full retirement benefit. Instead, her spousal benefit will be calculated as an excess spousal benefit equal to her full spousal benefit less her own full retirement benefit (her retirement benefit were she to wait until 66 to collect it). If this excess benefit is negative, it will be set to zero. So be careful what you do here!!

    MORE SOCIAL SECURITY ANSWERS Is Suspend-and-Collect a Flawed Plan?

    Janet Kohler -- Centennial, Colo.: I draw Social Security survivor benefits on my deceased husband's account. I have remarried. If my current spouse dies, can I draw survivor benefits on his account also?

    Larry Kotlikoff: I take it you remarried after age 60. Otherwise you could not be collecting a survivor benefit from your deceased husband while being married. I presume you are not collecting a spousal benefit from your current spouse. You cannot collect a spousal benefit from a current spouse and a survivor benefit from a deceased spouse simultaneously. You will receive the larger of the two benefits.

    If your current husband dies you can collect the larger of the two survivor benefits. But again, you cannot collect two survivor benefits. No one can.

    MN1947 -- New York: I am a single, divorced woman who was married for less than 10 years. I turned 66 this year and am eligible to receive full benefits. I am still working part-time and the Social Security Administration projects taxable income of about $17,000 annually if I work until age 70. I collect a municipal pension which is only taxed federally as long as I remain in New York or another state without income tax.

    I have gotten conflicting advice as to whether to wait until I'm 70 to take Social Security. Many people tell me it's better to take it now because of vagaries in future benefits and it's more money in my pocket now, especially if I have an emergency. I would plan to bank the Social Security money I receive now as I have sufficient income for the moment.

    The projected difference in my monthly benefits if I take them now as opposed to age 70 is about $750 per month, assuming I keep working part-time. My figures before taxes show I would break even at about the age of 78 if I took them now as opposed to waiting.

    Obviously, the greater dollars if I wait would start to benefit me only after the age of 70. I have no children. My health is average; both of my parents died before the age of 72. Do you recommend waiting until age 70 for someone in my category or taking benefits now?

    Thank you for your help.

    Larry Kotlikoff: I know I can sound like a broken record on this issue to those of you who read this page regularly but, once again: You can't count on dying on time or at some break-even date. You have sufficient income now, you write. That means you don't need to start taking benefits in order to live. Do you really want to run the risk of outliving your savings? Is that less likely than an "emergency" in the next four years that you won't be able to afford? An emergency that four years of Social Security will pay for?

    So my advice is to work as long as you can, because Social Security pays you more if you do so, and to wait until 70 to collect your retirement benefit then.

    As for your ex's earnings record, you can't receive any benefits on it because you weren't married for 10 or more years.

    MORE SOCIAL SECURITY ANSWERS Why You Should Wait Until 70

    Rich -- Dayton, Ohio: My wife is two years, three months older than me. She has not worked 40 quarters. What is the youngest age that she can get spousal benefits if I wait until 70 to retire?

    Larry Kotlikoff: As soon as you reach full retirement age, you can file for your retirement benefit and suspend its collection. This will permit your wife, at that point, to apply for a spousal benefit based on your work record. And you can then wait until age 70 to reactivate your own benefits and collect them at that point, starting at their highest possible value.

    You don't say what age you are, but for you -- and those who are wondering when the age extensions kick in -- here are the numbers, by birth year, courtesy of the Social Security website.

    1943--1954: 66

    1955: 66 and two months

    1956: 66 and four months

    1957: 66 and six months

    1958: 66 and eight months

    1959: 66 and 10 months

    1960 and later: 67

    Note that if the maximum benefit retirement age isn't extended, Social Security recipients will be foregoing less and less by waiting until 70.

    Judy: I am 62, started drawing my Social Security last November. I was married for 26.5 years and am now drawing $200 off my ex. We made a lot of money, sometimes paying $90,000 in income tax, and should have paid a lot of Social Security tax too. I think I should be drawing a lot more than $200 off him. What can I do? I really need more money to live on. I know that amount can't be right.

    Larry Kotlikoff: If you have no other funds to live on, you are stuck. There is nothing more you can get from the Social Security system and it doesn't sound like you can get more from him either.

    If you have other savings or retirement accounts to tap (though it doesn't sound as if you do), you could repay all the benefits you have received so far from Social Security, then wait until full retirement age -- in your case, 66 -- to collect your full spousal benefit (equal to half of your spouse's full retirement benefit). You could then wait again until 70 to collect your own retirement benefit, when it would be as much as 76 percent larger than it is now.

    Dan Maher -- Portland, Ore.: If Social Security's cost of living adjustment (COLA) is going to be capped, then these politicians should also forego any raises until the cap is lifted. Idiotic!

    Larry Kotlikoff: No one is suggesting that Social Security's COLA would be capped. What President Obama included in his proposed budget, in what he called a compromise with those insisting on "entitlement reform," is that the formula used to calculate the Social Security COLA would be changed to what's called a chain-weighted consumer price index. This will likely reduce the degree of inflation adjustment in future years, but it's far from a ceiling.

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


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    Seattle's Bullitt Center bills itself as the world's greenest office building for its local and sustainable materials. Video courtesy of KCTS9/Earthfix

    Before skyscrapers, Seattle's waterfront held little more than tide flats edged with evergreen forests. Those forests ran off the sunlight and rainwater that fell on them, and they did nothing to pollute the area.

    What if today's urban landscapes could return to that level of natural efficiency?

    That's what the Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation is attempting to do by creating "the world's greenest office building" on the edge of the Capitol Hill neighborhood overlooking downtown Seattle.

    "We're taking a piece of land that was a ramshackle bar, and we're turning it into something that has characteristics of the Douglas fir forest that was there before. It is a building that is in complete balance with nature." says foundation president Denis Hayes.

    Hayes is known for coordinating the first Earth Day in 1970, and it only makes sense that the grand opening for the Bullitt Center will be held today.

    "The foundation decided that we really wanted to walk our talk," Hayes says. "We've been preaching this stuff for the last two decades. Now we're going to show that not only that it can be done, but that we will do it."

    After breaking ground a year and a half ago, the building is nearing completion and tenants have begun to move into what is expected to be the largest structure to qualify for the Living Building Challenge, the world's most rigorous standard in sustainable building.

    Unlike other green buildings, Living Buildings must prove themselves for a full year. They can't contribute any waste to the environment. They can only use as much water as they can collect. And they must only be powered by as much energy as they can generate.

    In addition, all the heavy building materials like concrete and steel must come from within 300 miles of the site. And none of the building products can contain any of the red-listed 362 toxic chemicals that are commonly used in construction materials.

    It was Joe David's job to screen all the materials. Today David can walk through the building and point to any material -- the concrete, the glass, the building's protective coating -- and explain where it came from and what toxic materials it normally would contain and the lengths they went through to remove them.

    "It was surprising how often you'd come across a product that may have some toxic component, but it was still being used because it was industry standard," says David, who works for the building developer Point 32.

    Much of the internal structure of the building is made of heavy timber because in the Pacific Northwest, timber is an abundant renewable resource. And every single piece of wood in the structure was sustainably harvested, making the Bullitt Center the first commercial building in the United States to earn the Forest Stewardship Council's certification for using 100 percent FSC-certified wood.

    "We can go pallet by pallet and figure out what forest the wood was extracted from and where it was processed and guarantee that it the harvesting practices meet the Forest Stewardship Council standards," David says.

    In addition, those forests must be within a 600-mile radius of the building site. Most of the building's timber came from forests in Washington and Oregon.

    Heavy timber office buildings haven't been built in Seattle since the 1920s because they required old-growth trees with a large circumference to support the weight of upper floors. But the columns in the Bullitt Center are made by gluing together smaller beams to form columns that are just as strong. Those glue-laminated beams, or "glulams," are made at Calvert Company in Vancouver, Wash.

    Watch a video of Calvert's beam-making process:

    Going to all these lengths comes at a price. Overall the foundation has spent $30 million to build the Center. That figure includes the price of the land, years of working with regulators to find ways to permit the project and about $18.5 million in construction costs. The construction added up to about $355 a square foot. That's about $55 more per square foot than a typical commercial building in Seattle. But the Hayes says it's worth it. After all, he expects the building to still be around in 250 years.

    "You want to build things that will endure. Something that will become part of the quasi-permanent wealth of society. Not something that you put up and rip down a few years later," Hays says.

    Net-Zero Energy

    In addition to being built to last, the structure will be 80 percent more efficient than the average high rise office building in downtown Seattle. And twice as efficient as the greenest office building in the area.

    A 50,000 square-foot building has to be super efficient in order to be powered exclusively by the sunlight that falls on the building's 575 rooftop solar panels that extend beyond the building like a brim of a sombrero.

    The 14,303 square feet of photovoltaic panels are expected to generate 240,000 kilowatt hours per year, hopefully just enough for the building to break even. All that electricity will be fed directly into the electrical grid and sold to Seattle City Light. The building will purchase energy back as needed using a typical house meter.

    Each tenant in the building will get a percentage share of the energy being generated on the roof and that percentage equates to the amount of energy they're allowed to use.

    "If they can operate their business within that energy budget, the Bullitt Foundation will right the check to pay their utilities bills," David says. "So a tenant who can live within their energy budget will never have to pay a utility bill while officing here."

    But living within these energy constraints shouldn't be painful. Hayes promises that the building will still have ample lighting and plenty of energy to power computers and keep refrigerators running cold.

    "We're not sacrificing any services, we're just doing it vastly more efficiently," Hayes says. "If you can build it in Seattle and make it work, then there's certainly no excuse to build it anyplace in the southern two thirds of the United States where they actually have some sunlight."

    Net-Zero Water

    The solar panels will also collect rainwater and funnel it into a 56,000 gallon cistern. The goal is to harvest enough rainwater to satisfy all the building's water needs. The rainwater will be filtered and purified until it's clean enough to drink. But tenants won't be drinking the rainwater just yet.

    "Currently, it's not legal to operate a system like this," David explains.

    For now, the building is connected to Seattle's water supply system to provide potable water for sinks, showers and the fire sprinkler system.

    "We're going to go through a year of testing to demonstrate that this system is functional and we'll be working with policymakers on the state and federal levels," David says.

    Once the Washington Department of Health and Seattle Public Utilities give their approval, the building will switch over to using treated rainwater as the sole source for potable water.

    But then they face an additional challenge. According to federal regulations, rainwater must be chlorinated before it can be used for potable purposes. But chlorine is on the Living Building Challenge's list of forbidden toxic chemicals.

    "The real question is whether chlorine needs to be added to system or not. Everyone says it does. So we're trying to figure out how to add chlorine simply into this system so that we can operate our rainwater-to-potable system right away," David says. "There's a pathway there. We're just working through the details."

    Net-Zero Waste

    Once water is used in sinks, showers and floor drains, this "greywater" must somehow be treated, cleaned and returned to nature.

    Here's how they plan to do it. Greywater will go through a series of screens and will be held in a 400-gallon tank in the basement. From there it will be slowly pumped to a wetland-style roof garden over the second floor of the building. The water will be cleaned through natural filtration and some of the water will evaporate at this point. The rest will drip slowly into a drain field on the sidewalk level and eventually recharge the groundwater beneath the building.

    In front of the building, the Bullitt Foundation is partnering with the Seattle Parks Foundation to build the first landscape project in the world to meet the standards of the Living Building Challenge. The sycamore-covered triangle called McGilvra Park is being transformed into a demonstration site for green stormwater infrastructure, natural drainage systems and permeable pavement.

    And as for the human waste, that will be dealt with by way of the world's first six-story composting toilet system. When someone uses a Bullitt Center toilet, the waste travels down into a composter in the basement.

    Inside the composter, wood shavings and water are added to the waste, helping it decompose until it's turned into leachate, which will be pumped out and picked up once a month and taken to a facility where it will be combined with other compostable materials and eventually be used as fertilizer.

    And in case you were wondering, it doesn't stink. Not even a little.

    Life In A Living Building

    So far 80 percent of the Bullitt Center has been rented and tenants have recently begun moving into space.

    University of Washington Architecture professor Rob Peña will be one of those tenants. He's part of the university's Integrated Design Lab, which will be reside on the second floor of the center.

    Once their offices are set up, Peña's team will treat the space as a living laboratory -- testing and monitoring every dimension of the super green building.

    "We can really poke and prod the building's vital signs and learn all we can about it to get that information out to the public," Peña says.

    What's life like in a living building so far?

    "We're noticing being in the space that it's so comfortable. The heating is all by warming the (concrete) slabs with geothermally heated water. So there's this evenness to the temperature that's really quite pleasant," Peña says.

    Peña says many of building's green aspects actually make it a quiet, comfortable place to work. There's no noisy ventilation system; windows open silently when fresh air is needed. And he says the daylight from the tall windows is more natural and appealing than the fluorescent lighting in most office buildings.

    Peña says he hopes his team can begin to quantify the human benefits of working in a super green office building.

    "Fundamentally this building is about making healthier communities," Peña explains. "We forget that the biggest cost of doing business is your people, not the real estate. If this building can demonstrate there really is a happier, healthier, more productive place to work, then all of these questions about energy, water, even real estate costs become a whole lot less important."

    The Future Of Green Building

    Unlike other green building certifications, Living Building status won't be bestowed upon the Bullitt Center until it proves over the course of a year that it indeed meets the requirements of being net-zero waste and net-zero water and energy use. The clock will start ticking once the building is finished and the tenants move in, likely sometime in early summer.

    The main purpose of building the greenest office building in the world, Hayes says, for the final product to be so elegant and energy efficient that it will inspire builders around the world to think differently.

    "It's impossible to say that something is impossible if it exists," Hayes says. "If you took just the office buildings in the United States today and reduced their energy consumption by half, you would be saving twice as much energy every year as America imports from the Middle East. These are big things."

    The success of the Bullitt Center won't be measured in the next year alone, he says.

    "I would really like 20 years from now to have buildings that are better than this one. And for people to come to this one and say, 'What was all the fuss about? It looks like all the other buildings'," Hayes says. If we actually get to that point, I think we will be spectacularly successful."

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    EarthFix is a public media project of Oregon Public Broadcasting and Boise State Public Radio, Idaho Public Television, KCTS 9 Seattle, KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio, Northwest Public Radio and Television, Southern Oregon Public Television and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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    By Diane Lincoln Estes and Paul Solman

    Watch Video

    We interviewed Judi Henderson-Townsend, the owner of Mannequin Madness, for our story on senior entrepreneurs, airing on the Monday broadcast of PBS NewsHour. Surrounded by "stiffs" in an Oakland, Calif., warehouse, Henderson-Townsend told us how she got into the business and described the surprising reasons customers come to her for mannequins.

    Paul Solman: What inspired this business?

    Judi Henderson-Townsend: I am an accidental entrepreneur so nothing really inspired it. I was looking for a mannequin one day for an art project, I wanted to put it in my garden, and I was surfing on craigslist and saw a guy was selling what I thought was one mannequin.

    It turned out he had fifty mannequins to sell and I was kind of amazed by all these mannequins. He just casually mentioned that he had a mannequin rental business and now that he's leaving the state there won't be a place to rent a mannequin in the Bay Area.

    Paul Solman: And an entrepreneurial light went off in your head?

    Judi Henderson-Townsend: It was an "aha" moment. I thought, "The Bay Area is such a creative community." I figured there should be as least one place to rent a mannequin.

    Now, I never planned for it to be a full-time venture for me. It was just going to be a part-time hobby.

    RELATED CONTENT:Ten Tips for Senior Entrepreneurs

    Paul Solman: So, who are your customers?

    Judi Henderson-Townsend: My customers run the whole gamut. I have seen every age, every ethnic group, every sexual orientation, every income group in here, because people aren't just buying mannequins for a retail store.

    They may be selling something online, say on eBay or etsy. They might be doing an art project, going to Burning Man, they may be doing a video shoot. Sometimes they're going to a craft show.

    Many times we had people who were doing a trade show or they're having a party and they want to put their mother's or their grandmother's gown on display at the party. There's no limit for the imagination that people come up with to use a mannequin.

    Paul Solman: Burning Man?

    Judi Henderson-Townsend: Burning Man is this big art installation that takes place in Nevada, I think in the fall. People have come here and bought the oddest things to make art projects. Some guy bought fifty legs that he was just going to do something with. People make furniture with mannequin parts. Mannequin hands are very popular items. I have a board on Pinterest that just has mannequin art.

    Paul Solman: So you must be a major supplier to the mannequin artists?

    Judi Henderson-Townsend: A lot of artists come here and they go through our boneyard. Our boneyard is where we have things that really aren't in intact condition, but they're still creative for art projects. Say you want to mosaic a mannequin or something like that, you don't need something that's in perfect condition. You want something that just has the human shape. You're going to put something in your garden like what I was planning to do or sometimes people just want to have a torso sticking up out of something, like a Halloween display.

    Paul Solman: What about your most memorable customer?

    Judi Henderson-Townsend: My most memorable customer was a photographer who hired a nude model to pose among the mannequins here. So it's like nude on nude and she also was heavily tattooed. We had to have a closed set that day.

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


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    Watch Video

    Former INS Commissioner Doris Meissner describes the makeup of the 11 million undocumented people currently living in the U.S.

    An agreement between labor groups and lawmakers seems to have set the stage for the unveiling last week of a bipartisan plan to reform the country's immigration policy as well as develop a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented individuals currently residing in the U.S.

    The input from industry seemed key to developing the plan because a shortage in the labor industry is what initially to led to the flow of people in the 1970s from other countries into immigration hub states such as New York, Texas and California. By the 1990s, new residents were making their home in the Midwestern states of Kansas and Iowa and also, South Carolina, says Doris Meissner, senior fellow and director of the Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute.

    "There haven't been the same number of younger people coming into those labor markets as might have been the case before. That has coincided with jobs having moved to some of those areas -- some manufacturing, food processing, meat packing, big growth in the service economy. So there has been a demand for workers."

    In a conversation with PBS NewsHour's Kwame Holman, Meissner, who served as the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner from 1993 to 2000, describes how these workers have become "deeply rooted" into American communities.

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    U.S. Guest Worker Program Still 'Riddled With Bureaucratic Procedures,' Says Farmer

    Former Activist Says Pathway to Citizenship Is Possible in 2013

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