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

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    By Vivek Wadhwa

    A Note from Paul Solman: In January, PBS NewsHour featured a company where the average age was 74. In March, the graying of academia, with a physicist in his 80s who may be a better teacher than ever. On Monday, we featured "senior" entrepreneurs, who also provided tips for those who would start a company in late middle age or beyond. And on Wednesday, entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa revealed the age bias in Silicon Valley, and why it's nuts.

    Vivek follows up with a concrete example. He's out to convince you that, in his words, and building on economic historian Joel Mokyr's distinction between invention (coming up with something completely different) and innovation (actually getting it implemented), "it's never to late for you to innovate."

    Vivek Wadhwa: During the mid-1990s, cardiologist and researcher David Albert had the idea to develop a handheld device that displays an electrocardiogram. He believed that this would save lives by providing immediate information to patients wherever they were. In those days, even the most powerful handheld computers didn't have the needed capabilities. So Albert dropped the idea because it was impossible.

    And then came the iPhone in 2007 -- which has more processing power than some of the supercomputers of yesteryear. In 2010, at the age of 56, Albert started Alivecor with $250,000 from his savings. His goal was to build an iPhone case that performs an EKG. This device was approved by the FDA last December and now retails for $200 -- with a prescription.

    Myths abound about the young entrepreneurs who dreamed up crazy ideas while in their dorm room, raised millions of dollars in venture capital, and started billion-dollar businesses. But these are just the outliers. The typical entrepreneur is more like Albert -- a middle-aged professional who learns about a market need and starts a company with his own savings.

    Research that my team completed in 2009 determined that the average age of a successful entrepreneur in high-growth industries such as computers, health care, and aerospace is 40. Twice as many successful entrepreneurs are over 50 as under 25; and twice as many, over 60 as under 20. The vast majority -- 75 percent -- have more than six years of industry experience and half have more than 10 years when they create their startup. Nearly 70 percent start their companies to capitalize on business ideas that they have -- which they see as a way to build wealth.

    MORE FROM VIVEK WADHWA:Why Older Entrepreneurs Are Crucial, Even in Silicon Valley

    It shouldn't come as a surprise that the motivation for entrepreneurship and innovation comes from experience and necessity. Even Mark Zuckerberg -- the kid in the dorm room who started Facebook -- built this to meet a need for an online directory of college students. Paul Allen and Bill Gates started Microsoft after realizing that their computers lacked software. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs started Apple because they saw the need for a "people's computer."

    As Albert's invention shows, there have been dramatic advances in technology over the past two decades. It has become possible for entrepreneurs anywhere to create world-changing products. These advances are not only in computing. Such diverse fields as synthetic biology, 3D printing, robotics, nanomaterials, and medicine are advancing at exponential rates. Take the sensors in the Alivecor heart monitor: they would have cost thousands dollars and weighed several pounds, 15 years ago. Today, they cost as much as a cup of coffee and weigh less than the cup.

    When Albert demonstrated a prototype of his heart monitor to major medical companies, they were skeptical, he says, that there was any market for such a device. They said that their market research had shown that it was a bad idea and that no one wanted or needed it. Undeterred, Albert continued to pitch his product. He made a YouTube video that garnered so much interest during the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show that Qualcomm and others came to him and offered an investment.

    Renowned cardiologist Eric J. Topol, who is director at Scripps Translational Science Institute told me by email that Alivecor has allowed him, on several occasions, to make a definitive diagnosis for patients with serious heart problems. So Albert's impossible invention -- born of need and his desire to help others -- is already making a difference. It may even become a commercial hit.

    The lesson here is that ideas come from need; understanding of need comes from experience; and experience comes with age. The world may not yet be ready for your idea, but if you believe in it, keep pursuing it until one day the world is ready. It is never too late for you to innovate.

    Vivek Wadhwa is vice president of innovation and research at Singularity University, fellow at Stanford Law School, and director of research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University. He is the author of "The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent."

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

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    Walking down a hallway of the Hart Senate Office Building on Tuesday, Georgetown University law professor Rosa Brooks was reminded that President Barack Obama has seemed uneasy about the administration's highly secret U.S. drone program which targets and kills terror suspects overseas.

    "He should be bothered by it," Brooks remarked.

    "I believe the people engaged in this process -- many of whom I know -- are extremely serious-minded, thoughtful people who care deeply about the set of rule of law issues. But they're saying, 'Just trust us on this.' And that's not good enough," she told the NewsHour.

    Moments earlier, Brooks was a panelist in a two-hour Senate Judiciary hearing -- the first major Congressional session on the controversial drone program.

    It was well-attended except for any witness from the Obama administration, a fact lamented by committee chair Dick Durbin -- the Senate's second-highest ranking Democrat, a close ally of Mr. Obama's and one of a growing number of members of Congress and the public calling on the president to rein in and reform the drone program.

    "Right now we have the executive branch making a claim that it has the right to kill anyone anywhere on Earth at any time for secret reasons based on secret evidence in a secret process undertaken by unidentified officials," Brooks told the judiciary panel.

    Begun under the George W. Bush administration but continued and accelerated by Mr. Obama, the program uses armed drones away from the Afghanistan battlefield -- largely in Pakistan and Yemen -- to kill suspected terrorists determined to pose a threat to the United States.

    The strikes have generated strong anti-American sentiment in both those countries and garner dwindling public support in the United States.

    The New America Foundation recently estimated more than 420 targeted strikes in the last eight years have killed between 2,426 and 3,969 people -- overwhelmingly militants but including up to 368 civilians.

    A foundation representative at Tuesday's hearing noted the number of reported drone strikes has fallen sharply recently -- a fact the representative tied to reports of more personal involvement in administration of the program by Mr. Obama.

    In an October 2012 interview, Mr. Obama said of the drone program, "we've got to ... put a legal architecture in place, and we need Congressional help in order to do that, to make sure that not only am I reined in but any president's reined in, in terms of some of the decisions that we're making."

    The president has not taken up the drone issue in public again but White House press secretary Jay Carney, asked Wednesday about the drone hearing, said, "We have been in regular contact with the committee. We will continue to engage Congress...to ensure our counterterrorism efforts are not only consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but even more transparent to the American people and the world."

    And after the hearing, Brooks, too, sounded optimistic.

    "My own sense is that the executive branch is open to discussion of some kind of judicial process," she said.

    While some experts have argued for court oversight of drone strikes before they're carried out, Brooks sides with those who say that would be unwieldy and unworkable.

    Brooks says however an administration that knows its strikes could face court review after the fact -- with possible damages assessed -- would be more responsible and careful about who it strikes and why.

    "If Congress were to create a statutory cause of action for damages for those who had been killed in abusive or mistaken drone strikes, you would have a court that would review such strikes after the fact. [That would] create a pretty good mechanism that would frankly keep the executive branch as honest as we hope it is already and as we hope it will continue to be into administrations to come," Brooks said.

    "It would be one of the approaches that would go a very long way toward reassuring both U.S. citizens and the world more generally that our policies are in compliance with rule of law norms."

    Brooks says the Obama administration also should release all its legal opinions undergirding the drone program and limit strikes to those who pose the most immediate threat.

    "I have a list," she says, "some which require the executive branch, some which Congress can do on its own."

    But for now, she says, "I think Congress should do exactly what it is starting to do -- convene hearings."

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    In 2012, approximately 84 million adults -- or 46 percent of those aged 19 to 64 -- did not have health insurance coverage for the entire year or were considered underinsured, according to the findings of the Commonwealth Fund's 2012 biennial health insurance survey.

    While the number of medically uninsured young adults dropped over the past two years, coverage of the overall working age population failed to improve, according to the findings of the Commonwealth Fund's 2012 biennial health insurance survey released Friday.

    The survey shows that 11.7 million young adults -- ages 19 to 25 -- were uninsured for any time in 2012, 1.9 million fewer than in 2010. That is a drop from 48 to 41 percent in that age group and a shift from a decade-long climb in the uninsured rate, according to the survey. The report's authors credit the provision in the federal health law that allows young adults to stay on their parents' health plan until the age of 26.

    Dr. Sara Collins, a vice president at the Commonwealth Fund and the lead author of the report, said in an interview that "this has really been a high risk population. They've always had the highest rates of uninsurance, so this is a major change for this age group. .. It's really a positive change."

    But that decline was not mirrored in other age groups.

    In 2012, approximately 84 million adults - or 46 percent of those aged 19 to 64 - did not have health insurance coverage for the entire year or were considered underinsured, which the authors said means their coverage does not provide adequate protection from medical costs. This number has grown from 61 million in 2003 and 81 million in 2010, when Commonwealth last surveyed on the issue.

    The authors attribute the growth to the rising costs of health care and increasing rates of unemployment that occurred following the economic meltdown in 2008.

    According to the report, low- and moderate-income adults were most at risk of being uninsured or underinsured.

    In a Thursday conference call with reporters, Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, said that the survey "shows the continuation of the bad news that sparked the move to reform our dysfunctional health care system." He added that the findings "point clearly to the need to move forward with implementation" of the federal health law.

    But Edmund Haislmaier, a senior research fellow in health policy studies for The Heritage Foundation, which opposes the law, raised a concern about trying to assess the number of people who are underinsured. In comments Thursday before seeing the study, he said, "There's no standard definition of underinsured. Underinsured is simply their subjective opinion and one should put very little weight on that."

    "It's a matter of debate as to how comprehensive insurance coverage should be," he added. "It's very subjective."

    Aside from facing gaps in health coverage or being underinsured, the report also notes that millions in the United States are burdened with medical debt. According to the survey, 75 million adults struggled to pay their medical bills or indicated they were paying off medical-related debt over time. In this group, 42 percent, or 32 million adults, said they received a lower credit rating as a result of unpaid medical bills.

    In that conference call, Collins said that "the Affordable Care Act's new insurance coverage options slated to roll out in 2014 have the potential to significantly reduce the numbers of people who are uninsured and underinsured." As an example, she referred to the estimated 55 million adults in the survey who were uninsured in 2012 and said that "more than half have incomes that would make them eligible for coverage under the law's Medicaid expansion if they are legal residents."

    But, according to Collins, a key challenge is the large number of states considering not expanding their Medicaid programs.

    "If some states don't expand their program as intended, millions of people in low-income families will remain uninsured," she said.

    The poll of 4,432 adults was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 26 to August 19, 2012 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.3 percentage points. Researchers limited the report's analysis to 3,393 survey respondents between ages 19 to 64.

    Alvin Tran reported this story for Kaiser Health News. Read more on the KHN website.

    Read More:

    More Americans Insured: What's Behind the Numbers?

    You can read more reporting on our Health page.

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    The sheer amount of debris in low-Earth orbit is tipping space dangerously close to a cascade of hazardous collisions, scientists announced at a four-day international meeting on the subject this week. And there is an "urgent need" to fly satellites without creating new fragments and to remove those that are already there.

    Here's what we know about space junk:

    After some 5,000 successful satellite launches, scientists estimate there are roughly 30,000 items circling the Earth that are larger in size than 10 centimeters, BBC News reported -- a virtual garbage belt surrounding the Earth. Of these, 17,000 baseball-sized chunks are being regularly monitored from the ground, and 10,000 of these are fragments resulting from explosions and collisions in orbit, according to this European Space Agency video:

    Loading... jwplayer("pi_player").setup({ 'dock': 'true', 'image': 'http://spaceinvideos.esa.int/var/esa/storage/images/esa_multimedia/videos/2013/04/the_space_debris_story_2013/12640981-3-eng-GB/The_Space_Debris_Story_2013_video_production_full.png', 'wmode': 'transparent', 'height': '250', 'width': '400', 'controlbar': 'bottom', 'quality': 'true', 'modes': [ { 'type': 'flash', 'src': 'http://spaceinvideos.esa.int/extension/esadam/design/standard/flash/player.swf', 'config': { 'file': 'mp4:download/public/videos/2013/04/024/1304_024_AR_EN.mp4', 'streamer': 'rtmp://fms.50E6.edgecastcdn.net/8050E6/multimedia-delivery.esa.int', 'provider': 'rtmp' } }, { 'type': 'html5', 'config': { 'file': 'http://wpc.50E6.edgecastcdn.net/8050E6/mmedia-http/download/public/videos/2013/04/024/1304_024_AR_EN.mp4', 'provider': 'video' } } ] });

    Most of the objects are in low-Earth orbit. Most collisions occur near the Earth's poles. And many are caused by accidental explosions due to unused fuel onboard.

    Certain actions taken can reduce the problem, according to the European Space Agency: depleting unused fuel, venting pressure tanks, switching off batteries and removing satellites from heavily frequented orbits at the end of their missions. This is known as "passivation."

    But that doesn't solve the problem posed by objects already in space.

    On February 10, 2009, for example, the Iridium 33 satellite collided with the defunct Kosmos 2251satellite at a speed of 26,000 miles per hour, creating 2,000 additional pieces of space debris. And as more objects accumulate, more of these collisions are likely to occur.

    Scientists are also exploring spacecraft that would capture and "deorbit" some of the larger and most threatening pieces of space junk.

    In October 2007, Hari Sreenivasan interviewed Donald Kessler, former head of NASA's orbital debris research program, who said that a piece of space debris has the potential of "totally catastrophically" breaking up a spacecraft. Plus, he explains, one collision can create a spray of additional debris:

    "They end up producing an awful lot of small fragments," he said. "And the larger of those large fragments then go on to hit something else and cause it to break up and you get essentially a chain reaction of events, where you get an increasing frequency of things breaking up as a result of collisions."


    Syrian Blood Tests Positive for Sarin Gas, U.S. Spies Say

    Absolutely gorgeous. Three years of the sun in three minutes: NASA released this video of the sun seen from different angles over the course of three years:

    From the Washington Post: "Smallmouth bass that draw hundreds of millions of dollars to the Chesapeake Bay region for sport fishing are sick, and many look too awful to ever mount as a trophy."

    Wonderful post by Ed Yong on animals learning from each other. Here's an excerpt:

    "In 1980, a humpback whale in the Gulf of Maine started doing something different. All its neighbours would catch small fish by swimming in circles below them, blowing curtains of bubbles, and then lunging straight up at the corralled shoal. Then one individual, out of the blue, started smacking the water surface with its tail before diving down and blowing its bubbles."

    Berkeley and Boston top the list of the best cities for science, Wired reports.

    Most teen drivers think they drive the same or better under the influence of pot, according to a new survey, Bloomberg.com reports.


    Snails the size of rats can eat through stucco and plaster walls.

    Rebecca Jacobson, Patti Parson and David Pelcyger contributed to this story.

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    Actor Mark Wahlberg encourages students at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., to stay in school. Photo by T.C. Williams Student Reporting Lab.

    The Journal of Pediatrics recently released results of a study conducted in the United Kingdom that indicated celebrity endorsement of a food product increased a child's consumption of it. In other words, celebrities seem to have an effect on the choices children make -- which may not come as any big surprise. In this study, the food was chips (crisps in the British vernacular), but what if a celebrity is pushing something other than junk food? Something wholesome even? An idea.

    Former rapper/model-turned-actor/producer Mark Wahlberg recently visited T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., to encourage students to do something he didn't -- graduate from high school. Wahlberg and the MTV personality Sway came to the campus because it garnered some of the highest numbers of online pledges to graduate in the national getschooled.com competition.

    While Wahlberg managed to become successful and wealthy without earning a walk in the traditional cap and gown, he told students at this high school near Washington, D.C., that he regretted his decision to dropout.

    "If my career goes south, I'm working at McDonald's. I'm driving a tow truck," Wahlberg told a packed room. "That's why I'm going back to high school."

    Even though he's now in his 40's with a busy career and family, Wahlberg has started an online credit recovery program to finally get that diploma.

    PBS NewsHour's Student Reporting Lab at T.C. Williams covered the event at their school. We asked student reporter Lora Strum to find out if Wahlberg's words influenced her classmates' thoughts on earning their own diplomas. Here is what they had to say:

    Sam, junior

    "I think that students will be inspired by Mark Wahlberg's words. Aside from the fact that he's a big star, he came from humble beginnings, which a lot of people [at T.C. Williams] can relate to."

    Sarah, senior

    "Mark's visit to our school was a great star-struck moment. But I think a movie star encouraging kids to stay in school is so removed from real life. I think it's superficial of the administration to think that a movie star with a 'wink and a smile' will inspire kids to graduate from high school."

    Antonio, junior

    "I believe that Mark's appearance was inspirational and affected many people's paths to graduation. His speech really made people realize that graduation is one of the biggest steps towards a successful future."

    Sydney, junior

    "I think it's great that he comes to schools to speak. It is meaningful because like it or not kids look up to celebrities probably more than anyone else. So if they give a positive message and kids listen and act on it, that's a good thing."

    Emma, senior

    "I think he really does regret not graduating high school, especially since he's taking the time to get his diploma and speak to students about the importance of graduating. But it's kind of misleading that he didn't graduate and [yet] somehow became a movie star."

    Kieran, senior

    "As a soon-to-be graduating senior, Mark Wahlberg's message is less directed to me right now, but will help motivate me during my college years."

    Alaiyah, senior

    "I admire his honesty. When he said 'If my acting career [went south] I'm [was] going to be working at McDonalds,' he implied that a high school diploma is all that more necessary."

    Photos by Lora Strum.

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    Doris Meissner, director of the Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute, says the current proposed immigration bill offers "earned legalization" rather than amnesty.

    Provisions in an immigration reform bill introduced earlier this month would give a pathway to citizenship to people who are living in the United States illegally.

    The bill, introduced April 18 by a group of eight senators, would grant "registered provisional immigrant" status to law-abiding non-citizens who have lived in the U.S. since December 31, 2011.

    In exchange for registering and paying a $500 fee, they could work for any employer and travel outside of the country. Registered provisional immigrant status would last six years and could be renewed. After 10 years, non-citizens could adjust their status to "lawful permanent resident."

    Opponents of the proposal have said that the estimated 11 million non-citizens living in the U.S. illegally should be required to return to their home countries.

    Immigration policy expert Doris Meissner acknowledges that people who have illegally crossed the border or who are living in the U.S. on expired visas have broken the law. But she says the country needs to move on.

    "It's time to reconcile this issue because these are people that are contributing. They are in our communities. They are paying sales taxes. They are paying property taxes," Meissner, director of the immigration policy program at the Migration Policy Institute, said in a recent conversation with NewsHour's Kwame Holman.

    The argument that non-citizens be required to return to their countries is hypocritical, Meissner says, because U.S. businesses and consumers have benefited from the labor of a group of workers whose employment has not been subject to U.S. employment laws.

    "Yes, they did violate the law. Yes, they came across the border in ways that they shouldn't have...There needs to be accountability for that, but at the same time, we as a society have been complicit in that," Meissner said.

    "We have as consumers enjoyed lower priced services....Our own housing costs for the last 20 to 25 years have arguably been subsidized by illegal labor."

    Read more from this series:

    Workers From Other Countries 'Lifeline' for U.S.

    Undocumented Individuals 'Deeply Rooted' in American Communities

    Forty Percent of Non-Citizens Live in U.S. on Expired Visitor, Student Visas

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    Doreen Namasala has been a community health worker for over a decade in rural Malawi, a small landlocked country in southeast Africa. With a population of roughly 15 million, an estimated 60 percent of women report having serious problems accessing health care due to distance, according to the country's ministry of health.

    Too often, Malawi's health care centers, hospitals and clinics are overcrowded and understaffed, resulting in an overburdened health system that lacks the resources to effectively treat patients.

    But as mobile technology skyrockets across the African continent -- with mobile phone subscriptions growing 20 percent a year over the past five years -- the Malawi Ministry of Health and NGOs such as Village Reach are collaborating with communities to use cell phones to address some of the causes of poor health care for women and children. Problems include limited availability of timely and reliable health information, access and use of health facilities and delays in services.

    Namasala started working at the "health center by phone" or chipatala cha pa foni in local Chichewa a year ago, answering about 15 to 18 calls per day. Chipatala cha pa foni aims to improve maternal, newborn and child health services and increase community confidence in the health system.

    Currently the pilot project has four key components:

    A toll-free case management hotline

    An automated and personalized service offering tips and reminders for pregnant women and caregivers of children under five

    A health center booking and appointment center

    Community outreach and education on maternal, newborn and child health issues

    The program has seen signs of success, including receiving 400-600 calls per month, with over 75 percent of callers interested in receiving advice and/or registering for tips and reminders.

    However, there are still many factor hindering progress. Phone ownership is low -- less than 25 percent -- in rural areas, making it necessary for patients to rely on community health workers' phones to access the hotline and receive tips and messages. Telecom services and "talk time," or cell phone minutes, are also expensive for Malawians, which deters patients from utilizing the service.

    Despite these setbacks, integrating technology into Malawi's health system is largely perceived as a success. After all, even an expensive lifeline is one that many Malawians didn't have before.

    This story is a series of reports on the impact of mobile technology and health in 10 African countries. For more stories go to the Cheers Report. Additional footage for the video above was provided by Concern Worldwide.

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    JEFFREY BROWN: The Syrians insisted today that they have not used chemical weapons. President Obama issued new warnings, while saying the U.S. and the world continue to seek conclusive evidence. All the while, the civil war in Syria raged on.

    Explosions and heavy fighting rocked Damascus today, as government forces pressed an offensive to retake parts of the Syrian capital from rebels. At the same time, the war of words over chemical weapons escalated. Syrian government officials denied U.S. claims made yesterday. White House letters to senators said, "U.S. intelligence assesses with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale, specifically sarin."

    The disclosure put new pressure on President Obama to take action. He met today with the visiting king of Jordan and said the findings are preliminary.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We're going to be consulting with our partners in the region, as well as the international community and the United Nations, to make sure that we are investigating this as effectively and as quick -- as quickly as we can. It's obviously horrific, as it is when mortars are being fired on civilians and people are being indiscriminately killed. To use potential weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations, that is going to be a game changer.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The president has also said any use of chemical weapons would cross a -- quote -- "red line."

    And on Thursday, Republican Sen. John McCain said, it's been crossed.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.: The president of the United States has now told us that they used chemical weapons. Those stocks of chemical weapons, some of which are in disputed areas, must be secured, and we must give the opposition the capability to drive out Bashar Assad once and for all.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But other lawmakers today were more cautious. Democratic Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland attended a closed briefing on the matter.

    REP. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER, D-Md.: We feel that there has been some chemical weapons that have been used, but we're still investigating who did it, where it's coming from. And right now, we're just in an evaluation stage. I don't think we, just as the United States, want to go into another war.

    JEFFREY BROWN: A spokesman for the Syrian opposition welcomed the administration's findings and President Obama's promise of further investigation.

    KHALID SALEH, Syrian National Coalition: The positions that the U.S. and U.K. took in the last couple of days are very advanced and we welcome them. We will invite investigators. We will cooperate with investigators. And we are certain that the evidence will show that the Syrian regime actually used those chemical weapons against innocent civilians.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It was unclear how long further investigation might take. The president said today, "We have to make these assessments deliberately."

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    JEFFREY BROWN: And we pick up the debate now with Kori Schake, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institute and professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and David Cortright, director of policy studies at the University of Notre Dame's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

    Well, I would like it to ask you both, starting with you, Kori Schake, where are we in this? What do you make of the evidence of chemical weapons so far?

    KORI SCHAKE, Stanford University Hoover Institute: It looks to me like the evidence is pretty strong.

    And that the British, French, and Israelis came to the same conclusion I think strengthens the merits of the case against the Assad government, but the president's not wrong that we should be careful and deliberate and -- as we go forward. I'm a little bit worried, though, that the administration is trying to set a standard so high out of concern for not repeating the mistakes of Iraq that we will make a different set of mistakes this time and prevent action out of fear of taking wrong action.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, let me -- we will pick up on that.

    But, first, David Cortright, what do you make first of the evidence that at least we know publicly so far?

    DAVID CORTRIGHT, University of Notre Dame Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies: Well, it seems that the evidence is very thin.

    So far, all we have are some tissue samples, some blood samples. These have gone through several different hands, so the chain of custody is very unclear. To really be certain about this, we need to have actual physical evidence from a site. We need to know when and where these attacks took place.

    And that will require on-the-ground inspection. The U.N. was asked about a month ago to send some inspectors. Syria has refused. There are discussions about the terms for those inspections to go in. I think the inspectors are sitting right now in Cyprus. So, I think the top priority is to get more evidence, send in an inspection team, workout the modality so that we can find out what really has taken place here. That's the top requirement.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And let me just stay with you to pick up on the idea that Ms. Schake brought up about the president raising the bar at this point. What do you see the president -- how do you see the president's response so far?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, the bar has to be raised to the point where it's convincing. The evidence has to be bulletproof, because in order to deal with this, if it is, indeed, a serious use of chemical weapons by the regime, there has to be international action. We have to take it to the U.N.

    And we have to convince not just U.K. and France and some others, but all of the members of the Security Council, most especially Russia, that there has been indeed this kind of violation. And if we have that, then we can take action, we can work diplomatically through the U.N. and begin to take more measures to isolate and weaken the regime through diplomatic actions.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, Kori Schake, so are you saying we are at the point you think where we have enough evidence, enough to go on to take some action, and what should be done? What are the options at this point?

    KORI SCHAKE: Well, in truth, it's not clear to me that the evidence has -- enough of the evidence has been made public that we can make judgments about it.

    So we need to know that, and we don't know it yet. But it sounds like the intelligence services of the United States, Britain, France, and Israel have come to that conclusion. Moreover, the government of Syria has come to that conclusion. The Syrian government -- the reason the U.N. started an investigation was that the Syrian government claimed that chemical weapons had been used by the rebels and invited the U.N. to investigate.

    Once the U.N. took them up on it, they refused to allow them in the country. So even the Syrians admit that chemical weapons have been used.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, what do you think should happen?

    KORI SCHAKE: I agree that further investigation is probably needed, but it does -- if I were the Syrian government, what I would have done to be the most diabolical choice would be to use just enough and make it difficult enough to prove that you persuade the intelligence agencies, but you have a difficult time making the case in public, because then you can put the president of the United States in the position where he has threatened grave action, but doesn't carry it out.

    And that may dishearten the rebels in Syria. And if I were the Syrian government, that's what I would want to do.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But that's the Syrian government. What do you think the American government should do now, given the state of things? What do you think? What kind of action should be taken?

    KORI SCHAKE: Well, I think there are lots of actions we should take.

    It does seem to me that if the Syrian government has killed 80,000 civilians and has used chemical weapons, that that makes a very strong case for creating humanitarian corridors, take some of the pressure off of the surrounded states, like Jordan and Turkey, who are currently helping so many refugees from Syria.

    Establish safe areas inside of Syria. Allow the Syrian rebels to guard and police them, and us prevent the Syrian government from using military force against them, in particular the way the Syrian government has been terrorizing its own population. It's firing artillery, and using helicopter gunships.

    We have the ability to prevent them from doing that. And I think at a minimum, on safe areas on the borders of Syria's territory, we ought to be doing that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, David Cortright, your response?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, that's, I think, very dangerous. We don't need another war in the Middle East.

    Let's focus this discussion on the chemical weapons threat, the possibility of use of these weapons. That is a dangerous concern. And let's concentrate on what it will take to get the evidence that's needed and then, if it's there, to put pressure on them diplomatically through the U.N.

    There's a lot we don't know yet, and the -- just a few incidents that have been reported, even the U.S. intelligence agency itself says there's varying degrees of certainty about the evidence. So, we shouldn't be talking about military action, I don't think, under any circumstance.

    Even if we were -- confirmed now that there are chemical weapons that have been used, using military force will not deal with that situation. Syria has a huge arsenal of these weapons. If you attack them militarily, that could cause explosions and the release of some of these toxic gases. So military force is not the way to go about this.

    We need to first get the evidence. If it's there, then let's mobilize the U.N. Security Council, begin to take measures, including possibly targeted sanctions. We tried to get sanctions against Syria at the beginning of this crisis. Russia balked. But if we have solid evidence that Syria has used chemical weapon, this might begin to move Russia and get it on our side in terms of putting some pressure on the regime.

    That, I think, is the right step to take. That would begin to weaken them and isolate them diplomatically, and would help to perhaps begin to get a solution to this crisis. We don't need another military engagement here in the Middle East. The Pentagon has said it would take as many as 70,000 troops on the ground to be able to get some certainty about controlling those weapons.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: We're talking about another full-scale war.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Kori Schake, feel free to respond to that, but I want to put it in the context of also what the congressman we heard in our setup talk about, the American public, the lack of an appetite, I think, for more intervention after 10 years.

    KORI SCHAKE: Absolutely. The American public is war-weary, and they should be war-weary.

    The problem is that the Syrian government is taking advantage of that war-weariness to do truly atrocious, inhuman things. It's a war crime to use chemical weapons. Right? So they are capitalizing on our desire, as the president said, for the tide of war to be receding.

    But, unfortunately, we don't get to choose whether the tide of war is receding. The government of Bashar al-Assad is making that choice. And the choice that they have made is to kill 80,000 of their own citizens. And the longer that we let this civil war burn on, the greater the likelihood that the rebels will take assistance wherever they can get assistance.

    We already begin to see the Al-Nusra Front and al-Qaida-related organizations ...

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    KORI SCHAKE: ... who are willing to help fight the evil that the Syrian government is doing...


    KORI SCHAKE: ... and thereby win a foothold of support in the Syrian public. That is just not in American interests, even though we are war-weary.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, and David Cortright, a very brief last word, please.

    DAVID CORTHRIGHT: Well, use of these weapons would be a war crime, and we should take action against it. That's why I think we need to go and get the evidence solid, then go through the U.N. Security Council, start with condemnations, get sanctions, and especially begin to get Russia on our side in putting pressure on that regime.

    That's the most important thing we could do to counter their use of these kind of weapons.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, David Cortright, Kori Schake, thank you both very much. 

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    HARI SREENIVASAN: The surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is now at a federal prison medical center. The 19-year-old was transferred overnight to a facility in Central Massachusetts 40 miles west of Boston. He had been treated at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center since his arrest one week ago. Tsarnaev is facing federal terror charges in the April 15th attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260.

    In Afghanistan, 45 people died early today when a bus collided with the wreckage of a truck that the Taliban attacked. The bus rammed a stranded oil tanker that had been left in the road for several days. It happened near the borders of Helmand and Kandahar provinces. In addition to the dead, 10 others were injured.

    The government of Japan will let Japanese airlines resume flying their Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The transport ministry gave the official approval today. The Dreamliners were grounded in mid-January after incidents of their lithium ion batteries overheating and smoldering. They could return to service in June, with newly installed systems to minimize the fire risk.

    Police in New York City think they have found a piece of one of the airliners destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. A police spokesman said today it's part of a landing gear with a Boeing identification number. Surveyors found the five-foot-tall object on Wednesday as they inspected the planned site of an Islamic community center. The site is about three blocks from Ground Zero. Police have secured the scene for further examination.

    The pace of the U.S. economy picked up at the start of the year. Commerce Department figures today showed an annual growth rate of 2.5 percent for the first quarter. That was up sharply from the end of 2012, but Wall Street had hoped for more. As a result, the Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 11 points to close at 14,712. The Nasdaq fell 10 points to close at 3,279. For the week, the Dow gained one percent; the Nasdaq rose more than two percent.

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

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we turn to the agreement in Washington to address air traffic slowdowns, the result of furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration. The House of Representatives passed a bill today by a wide margin to ease the problem after both parties heard mounting frustration from passengers.

    Margaret Warner has the story.

    MAN: Two-thirds being in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed, and without objection the motion to reconsider is laid on the table.

    MARGARET WARNER: Just before leaving town for a weeklong break, the House voted by a lopsided 361-41 to let the FAA use some $250 million dollars in unspent funds to get air traffic controllers back on the job.

    Last Sunday, the FAA began furloughs of its 15,000 controllers and thousands of others, cutting their work schedules by one day every two weeks. That triggered hundreds of delayed flights. The agency's head, Michael Huerta, insisted Wednesday that mandatory across-the-board cuts, the so-called sequester, had forced his hand.

    MICHAEL HUERTA, Federal Aviation Administration Administrator: The hardest thing that we have to do is reduce these hours. But in order to hit the target we need to hit, we don't have -- we don't really have any choice.

    MARGARET WARNER: Democrats and Republicans disagreed over how many of the flight delays could be attributed to furloughs, but they agreed on the need to act. Still, even some who supported the House measure today criticized the process.

    REP. TOM LATHAM, R-Iowa: I have often said, this is no way to run a government.

    MARGARET WARNER: Republicans like Tom Latham of Iowa accused President Obama of playing politics.

    TOM LATHAM: We are taking action to end the administration's political games that are -- threaten our passengers' rights and their safety. The fact that we're here today trying to solve this problem is the result of the sequester. And I remind you that the president, and again the president brought the sequester to the table.

    MARGARET WARNER: Democrat Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip, rejected the criticism, and he challenged Republicans to address cuts in other agencies.

    REP. STENY HOYER, D-Md.: We ought not to be mitigating the sequester's effect on just one segment, when children, the sick, our military and many other groups who will be impacted by this irresponsible policy are left unhelped.

    MARGARET WARNER: At the White House today, spokesman Jay Carney said Congress is taking what he called a Band-Aid approach to easing the impact of the sequester. But he said the president will sign the bill.

    Now a look at the quick turn of events of the past 48 hours to ease flight delays and what triggered it. Alan Levin covers the aviation industry for Bloomberg News and joins me now.

    Alan, thanks for joining us.

    This kind of quick action on Capitol Hill, this kind of quick agreement is almost unheard of these days. What brought it about?

    ALAN LEVIN, Bloomberg News: Well, I think this -- that when you bring pain to the public, that's when Congress reacts to sequestration.

    A lot of the other cuts are a little bit more theoretical. They don't touch people in a big way. And you also had here some fairly significant lobbies, the airline, some big unions, also weighing in heavily as well.

    MARGARET WARNER: How bad -- we heard a lot of people complaining. We saw long lines at airports. But how bad were the delays at their peak this past week? How many passengers were actually affected?

    ALAN LEVIN: Gosh, I don't have a passenger total, but that's a very good question.

    This is the time of year when you get more thunderstorms and bad weather that affect flight delays, and so they tend to ramp up, and I think overall the total delays we saw were pretty typical for this time of year. Now, having said that, we did see an increase in delays of about between 400 to as many as 1,600 flight delays due directly to this -- these furloughs since Sunday. So it's not an insignificant impact.

    MARGARET WARNER: And I understand it wasn't just that the air traffic controllers had their days cut back, but a lot of other people who, say, do maintenance on radar systems or other things that are kind of vital to the smooth operation of this system.

    ALAN LEVIN: That's true. The FAA has thousands of technicians who keep, you know, the radars and landing systems running. And there were some delays in New York and elsewhere as a result of equipment that went out, and they just didn't have employees to get that back online.

    Now, that was much less significant than the controllers, but it definitely had an impact as well.

    MARGARET WARNER: Now, you cover this industry and this business. Is it possible to know whether the Transportation Department, as the Republicans -- many Republicans charge, actually did have more flexibility to move money around to keep certain vital people on, while still making the kind of cuts they needed to?

    ALAN LEVIN: Well, it's hard to say with 100 percent certainty.

    One of the key things that the Republicans were saying was that FAA had $500 million dollars in money that they could transfer to these controllers, but it turns out the bulk of that money goes for contracts to keep up air traffic control equipment. So it wouldn't have been that simple.

    Now, you know, could they have moved money a little bit about around here and there? That's still an open question.

    MARGARET WARNER: Was there any price paid here during this week by the airlines themselves, I mean, financially, either lost -- just lost revenues or fines or penalties for late flights?

    ALAN LEVIN: Well, a few years ago, the government imposed fines for flights that are more than three hours delayed on the tarmac.

    When these furloughs went into effect, the government said they were going to waive enforcement of that. So there was no cost on that. Now, airlines do incur fairly significant costs when they have delays. We don't have any numbers. That won't come out for months probably. But I'm sure they -- it probably cost them into the millions of dollars this week.

    MARGARET WARNER: And so when the president does sign this bill, whether it's this weekend or soon, how quickly will it take the whole system to get back to normal?

    ALAN LEVIN: We're actually still waiting on word from the FAA and Department of Transportation on that.

    I suspect it shouldn't take more than a day or two or three to get people back to work. But it appears they're still sort of working out some of the details about just how quickly that will be.

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, Alan Levin of Bloomberg News, thanks so much.

    ALAN LEVIN: Thank you. 

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    JEFFREY BROWN: And next to the Bangladesh building disaster. It's now the worst ever for the country's booming clothing industry, with more than 300 killed.

    Ray Suarez has the story.

    RAY SUAREZ: Wailing relatives tried to console one another as the death toll from Wednesday's collapse of an eight-story building kept climbing. This father was left weeping with his son's coffin at his feet. Others held up photos of loved ones still missing.

    WOMAN: For the last three days, I have been looking for my sister, but no trace. I want get my sister back, alive or dead.

    RAY SUAREZ: So far, rescue crews have pulled more than 80 survivors from the rubble. One government official said 41 of those were found alive in a single room overnight. At a nearby hospital, an 18-year-old worker described her ordeal.

    WOMAN: First, a machine fell over my hand and I was crushed under the debris. Then the roof collapsed over me. I was rescued last night, but my hand had to be amputated.

    RAY SUAREZ: And with high humidity and daytime temperatures reaching 95 degrees, there are fears that time is running out for those still trapped.

    Meanwhile, a local television station released video showing police inspecting the site on Tuesday, a day before the deadly collapse. Large cracks were visible, but garment factories at the site continued running anyway.

    Some of them make clothing for several major retailers in North America. Today, thousands of garment workers protested poor conditions and called for the building's owners to be punished. Some demonstrators clashed with police, but the rallies were mostly peaceful. This new disaster came just five months after a garment factory fire in Bangladesh killed 112 workers.

    For more on all of this, we get two views. Avedis Seferian is the president and CEO of Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production, or WRAP, an organization created by the American Apparel and Footwear Association, along with buyers and brands around the world. And Scott Nova is executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, a labor rights monitoring organization.

    Avedis Seferian, we saw the terrible carnage coming out of Bangladesh this week, coming right on the heels of that fire a few weeks ago that killed so many who couldn't get out of the building once that fire started. Is there a rule book, a code? Are there guidelines that everybody plays by? Are there standards that garment factories around the world are supposed to follow?

    AVEDIS SEFERIAN, Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production: This really is an incredibly, incredibly sad tragedy, and our hearts go out to those who were impacted. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost loved ones. And we hope for quick recoveries for those who are injured.

    The question on everyone's mind is exactly what you just asked. Is there a set of standards? And the answer is, there are internationally recognized minimum standards for operating manufacturing facilities, whether it be apparel or elsewhere. And organizations like WRAP, what we do is we promulgate those things. We try to foster those standards and we try to encourage factories to put in place the kinds of systems they need to make sure they do meet these standards.

    We're out there providing them with resources through training mechanisms and obviously certifying them through audits to make sure they do meet these standards, all in all, trying to create, to your point, that rule book which all manufacturers ought to abide by to ensure that tragedies like this do not happen.

    RAY SUAREZ: So, Scott Nova, there are best practices. Are they being complied with?

    SCOTT NOVA, Worker Rights Consortium: They are not.

    And, indeed, Bangladesh itself has reasonable standards on the books. They have reasonable labor laws on the books. They have a national building code. The problem is the national building codes in Bangladesh, the labor laws are works of fiction. They're completely ignored by the factories who are serving the relentless drive of Western brands and retailers for ever lower prices for apparel.

    Bangladesh is the rock-bottom cheapest place in the world to make clothing, wages of 18 cents an hour, ruthless oppression of any attempt by workers to organize a union, and complete disregard for the safety of workers. And brands and retailers in the U.S. and Europe have rewarded Bangladesh for those practices by pouring business into the country, making it the second largest apparel producer on the globe, but at a tremendous cost to workers, as we saw this week.

    RAY SUAREZ: Mr. Seferian, if retailers in the United States want to talk to the people who make the clothes that they buy, is it hard now because of the network of not only subcontractors, but even further down the chain, sub-subcontractors and so on, that sometimes mean there are three or four steps before a completed pair of pants or shirt makes it to the United States?

    AVEDIS SEFERIAN: Sure. The global supply chain is very complex and becoming even more so day by day.

    From our perspective, when you -- however complex the chain may be, however many layers there may be, at the end of the day, what really matters is that the worker at the production facility be able to work in a safe, healthy, ethical environment. So, our work focuses on that level, on the factory level. Our trainings, our certification, our entire organization is geared towards working for the workers and making sure that the standards at the production facility are where they need to be.

    RAY SUAREZ: How has that supply chain been for people who just don't want to know a convenient use of the opaque nature of these relationships?

    SCOTT NOVA: Indeed.

    Part of the purpose of the outsourcing strategy of brands and retailers is to distance themselves from responsibility for the conditions under which their clothing is made. It's a system that works very well for the brands and retailers. They get extremely cheap prices. They get incredibly fast delivery.

    The result is factories striving to meet the demands of these brands and retailers by ignoring the rights of workers, by cutting corners on safety. And then when the inevitable disasters result, the brands and retailers throw up their hands and say, my lord, I can't believe that was happening in these facilities.

    But the reality is, it's the brands and retailers who have the most power in the system. If they want to ensure their factories are safe, they have the power to ensure their factories are safe. They haven't chosen to exercise that power.

    RAY SUAREZ: Well, we have got WRAP here in North America. In Europe, they have the Clean Clothes association, which is trying to do much of the same work.

    Can you give us an example of a place or national industry where shining a lot on bad practices actually has improved conditions, actually has saved workers' lives?

    AVEDIS SEFERIAN: Well, I think a better example, especially in context of Bangladesh, which is the center of our conversation, is to talk about what efforts are ongoing now to prevent such tragedies.

    And you mentioned it in the lead-in to this, the recent factory fires that have been happening. WRAP has been in Bangladesh now for a very long time. We opened our own local office there back in February of 2011. And as of September of 2011, we have had in place a very effective fire safety training program that we have rolled out to hundreds of factories in Bangladesh, with over 600 workers trained and managers trained.

    And the idea there is that we don't want to just handle these by creating better escape procedures, better evacuation procedures. We want to train factories on preventing these things from happening itself. So, the kind of best practices that really will be impactful going forward are to get people to understand what are the things you need to do to not let happen in the first place, the management systems approach to ensuring that people understand the kind of working environment you have to create so that you prevent the tragedies, and not then have to deal with them happening after the fact.

    RAY SUAREZ: As you mentioned, Scott Nova, there are pressures to lower unit costs, to keep costs of productions low. But are there incentives to play by Mr. Seferian's rules, regular recontracting, reorders? If you want to do well by your workers, can that be profitable to you as well?

    SCOTT NOVA: Unfortunately, what the factories have been taught by the decisions of brand and retailers is that what matters to brands and retailers is price and delivery speed, not the rights of workers.

    And I have to disagree and say I don't think this is an issue that can be solved by training. The fundamental reason that workers are dying in factories in Bangladesh is because the buildings are structurally unsafe. They do not have fire exists. They are not soundly built.

    No amount of training can train a worker to walk through flames or to walk out of a building that is collapsing around her. We need a massive program of renovation and repair of the industry in Bangladesh, which basically consists of 5,000 extremely dangerous factories. And that program of repair and renovation has to be funded by the brand and retailers, who have the resources to pay for it. They have to demand it. They have to compel their suppliers in Bangladesh to implement it.

    They have to cover the costs. Then and only then will we see an end to these tragedies.

    RAY SUAREZ: Very quickly, because we really are out of time, briefly, yes or no, practically, are American retailers ready to do what Scott Nova just described?

    AVEDIS SEFERIAN: I think we're exaggerating by saying that we have 5,000 dangerous factories in Bangladesh.

    There are shining examples of good factories out there. We need to make sure that those examples are followed by all of the others, so the industry as a whole gets to where we need it to get to.

    RAY SUAREZ: Gentlemen, thank you both.

    SCOTT NOVA: Thank you.

    AVEDIS SEFERIAN: Thank you. 

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    Gentlemen, let's start with the lead story tonight, and that is Syria.

    Even the administration, Mark, is now saying that chemical weapons have been used by the Syrian government. The president, though, says a red line has not been crossed. So what's -- what is -- what's going on?

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think the president is in the position of having said that he's drawn this red line, and it appears that the red line has been crossed. I don't know if the line is changing. Maybe it's a little less red than it was.

    But what he's reflecting, Judy, I think, is the lack of will and enthusiasm and interest in this country for intervention in another war in the Middle East. And, secondly, it's clashing with the sense of horror and fury at the human cost and toll of death and suffering there that we're seeing, I mean, 80,000 people dead.

    But I think the president is in an awkward position politically right now.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that what it is about, a reluctance to go to war?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, he made the mistake of setting the red line. I think that was the mistake, the first mistake, which was when he set a red line, then you say, if you do X and we will do Y, then you're handing control of your policy over to whoever is doing X.

    And so I'm against red lines. I think he nicely walked back from it today by saying if they cross this line, it will change my calculus. And what that suggests is a proper way to think about this. It's a multipronged problem, and the chemical weapons are one piece of that problem. They're not the whole piece.

    And so then you have got to go to the other layers of uncertainty. What can we do? We talk about a no-fly zone. Does that really address chemical weapons? And then third -- and I think this is the issue hanging over it all -- suppose the Assad government does fall? What happens then?

    My colleague Tom Friedman wrote that the -- why are the Christians shifting to Assad? Because that part of the population is worried about what will happen if the government falls. So, there's the uncertainty over whether there are the weapons. There's uncertainty about whether we can do anything it. And then there's uncertainty about what actually we should be rooting for. And so that does urge caution, I would say.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Does it matter, Mark, how much chemical weapon ...

    ... used?

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes. I think if there's further evidence of it -- and the secretary of state was on record as saying there were twice -- twice instances of the Syrian government having used it.

    I mean, this is quite different from just killing people. This is a universal declaration on chemical weapons. And if they in fact are using them, you cannot -- you cannot stand aside indefinitely and in any way pretend to the moral leadership of the planet.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And yet, as we heard in the earlier segment tonight, Jeff's interview, David, -- you hear the experts saying, well, there is still more testing to be done to find out exactly what happened.

    DAVID BROOKS: Right. There seems to be that.

    Saddam used chemical weapons. And I personally don't think that should always be a red line. Also, though, hanging over this is Iran, because that's the president's other red line. And if that -- if this red line, which he's already declared, washes away, then the Iran red line probably looks like it washes away.

    He has got to be thinking about U.S. credibility vs. Iran. And so I'm not suggesting -- I don't seem to have any answers, but nobody else does. And that's why I think the caution that the president is showing is probably the right ...

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Talk about -- yes.

    MARK SHIELDS: No, no. I think he's in a very difficult position. But I don't think the situation in Syria can be ignored.

    I don't think you can -- and I think that there has to be an insistence upon determining, as evidenced in our earlier discussion with Jeff about -- from the Notre Dame and Stanford people, that we have to determine whether in fact that's the case.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Bring it back home. The Federal Aviation Administration, David, the deal today in Congress to give them some wiggle room, so they can address these flight delays, end these furloughs for the air traffic controllers, what does this say about the way Washington works?

    DAVID BROOKS: I think it's always important to protect the bourgeois, to protect the upper middle class.

    I think we should keep subsidizing corporate suites.

    This is the sort of thing that makes everybody sort of into a populist. And it is true. Kids are getting kicked out of Head Start, but the airplanes are flying. Now, I understand the airline industry, you know, if that gets delayed, the whole economy is hurt, so I understand that pressure.

    But it just looks bad that the people who are bound to have the most lobbying power, which is to say people who fly a lot, get a fix, and the people who go to Head Start don't get a fix.

    And I should say before the whole sequester thing is stupid, because it doesn't solve the debt. It cuts spending in the places we don't want it. It doesn't cut spending in the entitlement programs, speaking of other powerful interest groups. So, it's sort of stupidity on stilts at this point.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Stupidity on stilts.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes. I mean, I think that -- again, I think the administration's position on the sequester had been, this was a meat axe approach. Any changes would have to be comprehensive and across the board. They would have to involve increases in revenue if it was going to be addressed.

    Well, you can honestly say that the administration caved like a lawn chair. I mean, they folded on this. It's a scalpel. It's an interest group changing. It's not AIDS patients. It's not cancer patients. It's not NIH research. They don't have political action committees. And this was a -- and the Congress looks bad in the process.

    The Congress -- this passed the Senate without a single dissenting voice -- vote on either side. And it looked -- as the Congress is going out on recess, that looks -- it looks like a matter of convenience. So I just -- I really think the whole thing is just lousy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, does it say, though, anything, David, about the -- what's going to happen to the larger sequester? Does this mean Democrats have any more negotiating power than we thought they did?

    DAVID BROOKS: Well, maybe a little less than we thought, because if the president spent all those months warning it will be terrible, it will be terrible, and then when it comes time when something sort of is terrible, they cave in on that, then the sequester probably doesn't seem that painful to the country.

    And so I think the sequester is here to stay. There will probably be a series of these pseudo-fixes or patches, but it's hard to see them getting on any sort of serious budget agreement.

    MARK SHIELDS: Well, you know how they can change it. And that's to bring enough political pressure.

    The meat safety inspectors, that was an exception. Understandably, people didn't want to eat tainted, sullied, stained meat. So, that was an exception. Now there's an exception for airline travel. You threaten the safety and security of another enough people or just make it uncomfortable enough for them, there will be patches made.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Second week after the Boston Marathon bombings, we watched a lot of back-and-forth this week.

    But, David, we're starting to hearing noises that maybe the administration should be held responsible for the fact that these -- the Tsarnaev brothers weren't on a watch list, weren't prevented somehow from doing what they did.

    DAVID BROOKS: Right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Is the administration responsible?

    DAVID BROOKS: I don't think so in this case.

    They were on one of these gigantic sort of catchall watch lists of I think half-a-million people or something -- or the older brother was. And so there was -- he showed up somewhere. But to filter that down to predict that he's actually going to do something, to filter it down to actually take him off, deny him certain rights, I think a reasonable person would have to conclude they had no real evidence to put him on that kind of hyper-look.

    So, I think, you know, you have 300 million people in this country. It's just hard, even with the gigantic apparatus we have, to track every random disgruntled 24-year-old or whatever he is young man.

    MARK SHIELDS: I couldn't agree more.

    I think that, first of all, the younger brother was an American citizen. The older one was here with legal status. And he was -- they came as refugees. And so we get a warning from the Soviets that somebody from Chechnya bears watching -- from the Russian authorities, I should say, and not a disinterested party, and certainly not indifferent or neutral when it comes to Chechnya.

    The FBI did follow up. They did the right thing. You can only keep somebody in that file for 90 days. That's the rules. Those are the regulations. There was no fault. I think they did the right thing. I think they worked well together. The president said a week ago Thursday, we will bring these people to justice on Thursday, and on Friday night they were brought to justice.

    And I think the Monday-morning quarterbacking at this point is not only unseemly. I think it's unfair.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Russians to some extent viewed as having an axe to grind with what they did.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes. Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So the George W. Bush, the latest presidential library opened yesterday in Dallas. David, pretty rosy, fond memories all around. What did you think?

    DAVID BROOKS: I'm for opening libraries in the 21st century. It seems like an exotic thing to do.

    I -- Bush's approval ratings are up. He's up to 47 percent. People like him out of office because he seems like a decent guy. He's not pushing himself on the country with a cause. And so I think people are feeling a little more fondly toward him. I think, when you look back on the administration, Iraq, Afghanistan are obviously going to be -- remain polarizing issues.

    I do think you have to say the security apparatus he created post-9/11 was -- has been endorsed basically by the Obama administration. That was a permanent contribution to the country. I personally think he was -- had the potential to be a decent domestic policy president before 9/11 happened and turned him away.

    I think he was heading in a way the Republican Party really should be heading, both with the immigration reform, but with also a sort of -- compassionate conservatism was a kernel of a good idea. And maybe if 9/11 hadn't happened, it would have been interesting to see how he would have developed that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Interesting the distance he puts between himself and his former vice president, Dick Cheney.

    MARK SHIELDS: Yes. No, he did.

    I thought the American people are enormously forgiving. And presidents do look better in the rearview mirror. Probably, every president has. Bill Clinton was at 39 percent approval after he pardoned Marc Rich in 19 -- in 2001. And now he's the most popular figure in the country.

    He's done a lot in the intervening 12 years, I mean, to earn that respect. George W. Bush has been a very private former president. I mean, twice, Barack Obama won the White House by running against him, in '08 and again in '12. And he's been -- he's never carped. He never criticized. I think that has played well with people.

    And -- but I -- it's hard to look back and say that Iraq was anything other than a disaster. And it -- you can see the shadow and the echoes of Iraq in the decision right now about -- as we approach Syria or anyplace else, Iran. It's -- you know, that is -- that was a defining moment for this country's foreign policy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And for his presidency?

    DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think it was the post-9/11 reaction.

    And I guess I would emphasize the two parts, the Iraq and the Afghanistan. And it's hard to defend the Iraq war as we see it right now. But I do think the preventing another terror attack, creating that apparatus, that's on the plus side of the ledger. I'm not sure it outweighs when history will judge, but I do think he gets credit for that.

    MARK SHIELDS: The one thing that -- where I do agree with David is, Mitt Romney lost in 2012 in large part because he at no point showed any empathy and could not connect with voters.

    By 81-18, voters on Election Day said Barack Obama cares more about people like me than Mitt Romney. And they could have used a large dollop of that compassionate conservatism. And it will be interesting to see in 2016 if anybody sounds that theme in seeking the Republican nomination or seeks his endorsement. I mean, Bill Clinton was the defining figure for the Democrats in 2012. It was Bill Clinton's third term that Barack Obama won, to some agree, based upon that speech. And George W. Bush was a nonperson at the Republican Convention.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And speaking of Clinton, it was interesting. Yesterday, he said that he had actually been called by George W. Bush a few times during the second term, and talked about politics, and he said that he hoped there was no record of what he said.

    MARK SHIELDS: Alexander Butterfield, where are you when we need you? That would be a great conversation to listen to.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, great conversation.

    David Brooks, Mark Shields, thank you both.

    MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Mark and David keep up the talk on The Doubleheader, recorded in our newsroom. That will be posted at the top of The Rundown later tonight.

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    March 30, 1981 was a routine day for Judy Woodruff as she traveled with the press pool to cover a speech by President Ronald Reagan, two months into his presidency, at the Washington Hilton.

    But the events Woodruff witnessed as an NBC reporter that day more than 32 years ago would lead to one of America's longstanding and contentious policy debates -- how much should the country regulate firearms.

    Woodruff, now a senior correspondent for the NewsHour, shared what she remembers from the 1981 shooting in a newsroom interview with political editor Christina Bellantoni.

    Reagan survived a bullet to the chest, while press secretary Jim Brady was permanently disabled and paralyzed after being shot in the head. Brady and his wife Sarah would become ardent supporters of gun control battling against the efforts of groups who wanted to protect rights granted under the Second Amendment. In the wake of recent mass shootings across the country, that argument has been renewed.

    Woodruff's recent report on the defeat of a bipartisan proposal to expand background checks on firearms sales shows the evolution of this fierce policy debate over guns in America.

    Follow our coverage of the debate here.

    Joshua Barajas shot and edited this video.

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    The musings of syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks return in this, another episode of the Doubleheader, where we tackle the sport of politics and the politics of sport. Our captains of civility the discuss the legacy of former President George W. Bush, in light of yesterday's inauguration of his presidential library in Dallas. Catch up with this NewsHour conversation about the ceremony from Thursday's broadcast in case you missed it. We also discuss what seemed like a linemen's lineup last night at the NFL draft.

    Have a great weekend.

    Joshua Barajas shot and edited this video.You can subscribe to Hari on Facebook, Google Plus and on Twitter @Hari.

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight: remembering a giant of country music, George Jones.

    It was that distinctive voice and the ability to convey heartache and sorrow in song that made George Jones a country music legend. He turned out number one singles in five separate decades and inspired generations of artists, including many of today's stars.

    GEORGE JONES, Musician: Well, I would be lying if I didn't say I wouldn't like to be remembered. I hope I am. And I'm sure I will be, by a few anyhow.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Jones began singing for tips on the streets of his hometown of Beaumont, Texas, at age 11. He first performed at the Grand Ole Opry in 1956, and recorded some 150 albums in all.

    The hard times he sang about often reflected his own hard living. He got the nickname of "No Show Jones" after years of missing concerts while struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction. Jones was also married four times, most famously to fellow country superstar Tammy Wynette. They recorded the 1976 hit "Golden Ring" 14 months after their divorce.

    JEFFREY BROWN: One of his best-known songs was the 1980 hit "He Stopped Loving Her Today" about a man who carried his love for a woman to the grave.

    George Jones died today in Nashville. He was 81 years old.

    More about the work and life of George Jones. It comes from another well-known country singer and songwriter, Larry Gatlin. He and his brothers were among country's biggest acts in the '70s and '80s with dozens of hit singles. I spoke with him earlier today.

    Larry Gatlin, welcome.

    What made George Jones distinctive? What made him so important in country music history?

    LARRY GATLIN, Country Music Singer: Well, first of all, he was very unassuming. We all -- you know, all of us said, George, you're the best, and if not the best -- my dear friend Coach Bum Phillips -- many years ago, somebody said, Coach Phillips, is Earl Campbell in a class by himself? And Coach Phillips said, well, if he's not in a class by himself, it darn sure don't take long to check roll.

    So, that's how people felt about George. He just had that -- that edge to his -- the way he phrased things. And he kind of go oh, and it's like that. Every country song I ever wrote in my life, I wrote with George Jones singing in my ear.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Really?

    It was that much of a -- it was that much of a direct influence and impact, huh?

    LARRY GATLIN: Oh, well, absolutely.

    Like I say, if he's not in a class by himself -- since Jones comes before R. in the dictionary -- in the alphabet -- that would be Marty Robbins -- or P for Ray Price, or even we can go to the Vs, Vince Gill. I know we turned that around.

    But some of those great singers like that -- he is always considered the -- by almost everyone as just the best pure country singer.

    And here's what he was. He was the most unassuming. It almost embarrassed him for you to -- for us to fawn over him like we all did. But I never worked a lot of shows with him. The brothers and I -- I mean, my brothers and my sisters sang in a backup group with Tammy after George and Tammy had broken up.

    So most of the time I was with him would be backstage at award shows and things. But we -- the last show we did with Mr. Jones was in Florida two -- two summers ago at the Strawberry Festival. I went back, knocked on the bus to go pay my respects. They opened the door and ushered me in.

    I said, Mr. Jones, I came to pay my respects. He said, Larry, you know how much I have always loved you boys.

    You know, so ...

    JEFFREY BROWN: That did it, huh?

    LARRY GATLIN: We lived a great life.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, we mentioned in our setup some of the hard aspects to that life, the -- in addition to the struggles with alcohol and drugs, I just read, he made millions, he lost millions. A lot of that heartache that he sang about was real?

    LARRY GATLIN: Absolutely.

    I mean, you know, people ask me, they say, are all of your songs personal experiences? I say, yes. They're not all my personal experiences, but they are someone's. And that's what songwriters do. That's what singers do.

    George Jones could sit there and sing the alphabet and make you think that he was singing it directly to you, and that's the only song you had ever really wanted.

    A, B, C, D, E, F, G.

    And you would be crying because it was George Jones doing what George Jones did. But, yes, we have a lot of funny stories about him, driving the tractor downtown. He got through mowing the lawn and just decided to drive it right on downtown Nashville, and he sold it to an old boy for $25 dollars.

    So, we all know those stories. He did have his demons, but towards the end of his life, the last 15, 20 years, Ms. Nancy came in there and just -- I wrote her an e-mail today that you, Ms. Nancy, sweetheart, you gave some wonderful years to my friend's later life.

    And, yes, he had demons. We all have demons. But she kind of got him straightened out a little bit. And I think it added to his life.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That's his wife, yes.

    LARRY GATLIN: Absolutely.


    You know, we're all used to these -- these days to the crossover stars, musicians doing a lot of different genres. I gather he really -- he kind of bucked that, right? He just sort of stayed with the style that he himself loved.

    LARRY GATLIN: Absolutely.

    He was flattop, and a flattop guy in a black suit and a white shirt and a black tie. And he just -- you know, he just stood up there and sang like George Jones. I have often said that I thought George Jones was what -- to country music what Frank Sinatra was to pop music or Tony Bennett or Johnny Mathis. He was just a purest. He did what he did, and he let everybody else do what they did.

    And he was the best at it. Like I say, arguably -- here's the deal. If Tiger Woods put the golf ball in the hole the fewest amount of times, he wins. That's an objective endeavor. So, when you start talking about who the greatest singers were, it's subjective. Everybody could come in.

    But I think, if you took a poll, the old Possum would be pretty much on the top of that list almost every time.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Larry Gatlin on the life and music of George Jones, thanks so much.

    LARRY GATLIN: God bless. Thank you.

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    President Obama and King Abdullah II of Jordan; official White House photo by Pete Souza

    President Obama discusses the crisis Syria with King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Oval Office last week. Official White House photo by Pete Souza.

    The Morning Line

    There appeared to be widespread agreement among lawmakers Sunday that the U.S. must respond to Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons, but there was little consensus on the steps that should be taken.

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., warned Sunday that there is no support for sending U.S. forces into Syria.

    "The American people are weary. They don't want boots on the ground. I don't want boots on the ground," McCain said during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." "The worst thing the United States could do right now is put boots on the ground on Syria."

    "That would turn the people against us," McCain added.

    Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., concurred with McCain's assessment. "We don't need to put boots on the ground, but we need to enable their neighbors, the neighbors of Syria, to bring some sort of peaceful resolution to this," Chambliss said. "The whole world is watching."

    In an interview with Foreign Policy last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called for sending U.S. troops into Syria to secure chemical weapons supplies.

    On Sunday, Graham warned that inaction by the U.S. could result in harmful consequences.

    "If we keep this hands-off approach to Syria, this indecisive action towards Syria, kind of not knowing what we're going to do next, we're going to have war with Iran, because Iran's going to take our inaction in Syria as meaning we're not serious about their nuclear weapons program," Graham said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "We need to get involved."

    Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said all options should remain on the table -- including the use of U.S. troops -- in determining how to approach the situation in Syria. "I don't think you want to ever rule it out," McCaskill said on CBS. "Obviously, we don't want to do that unless it's absolutely necessary."

    A survey released last month by the Pew Research Center found little public support for intervening in Syria, with 64 percent of respondents saying the U.S. does not have a responsibility to do something about the conflict. But a Washington Post-ABC News poll from December showed that if chemical weapons were used, 63 percent of Americans would back some form of military involvement.

    The White House, well aware there is little public appetite for engaging in another war, is approaching the news with caution.

    President Barack Obama told reporters Friday the U.S. is working with the United Nation and countries in the region to swiftly figure out what is happening. He said the "preliminary" intelligence assessments shared with Congress last week leave U.S. officials with "varying degrees of confidence about the actual use," and that "there are a range of questions around how, when, where these weapons may have been used." This is just the beginning of a "very vigorous investigation," he said.

    "I've been very clear publicly, but also privately, that for the Syrian government to utilize chemical weapons on its people crosses a line that will change my calculus and how the United States approaches these issues," Mr. Obama said.

    "So this is not an on or off switch. This is an ongoing challenge that all of us have to be concerned about."

    The president said what's happened in Syria is "horrific," and added, "To use potential weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations, that is going to be a game changer."

    "We have to act prudently. We have to make these assessments deliberately," the president said. "But I think all of us, not just in the United States but around the world, recognize how we cannot stand by and permit the systematic use of weapons like chemical weapons on civilian populations. So this is going to be something that we'll be paying a lot of attention to -- trying to confirm, and mobilize the international community around those issues."

    The chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said "some action needs to be taken" on Syria, and urged the president to stick to the red line he previously laid down.

    "It can't be a dotted line. It can't be anything other than a red line," Rogers said on ABC's "This Week."

    On Friday's NewsHour, Jeffrey Brown fielded a debate on different approaches between Kori Schake, research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, and David Cortright, director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

    The debate over the U.S. approach to Syria could subside this week with Congress on recess, but calls for intervention are likely to return if and when the use of chemical weapons is confirmed. In the meantime, expect to keeping hearing words such as "careful" and "deliberate" coming from the White House.


    The Mississippi martial arts instructor arrested Saturday on charges of sending ricin-laced letters to the president and a U.S. senator is expected to appear in federal court on Monday.

    Mr. Obama will nominate Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to lead the Department of Transportation.

    Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is recovering from surgery after a bicycle accident.

    Roll Call's Kyle Trygstad has five things to know about Tuesday's primaries for the Senate special election in Massachusetts.

    Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Sunday that he is still trying to forge an agreement to expand background checks for gun sales.

    The background checks amendment that GOP Sen. Pat Toomey co-sponsored may not have passed, but it did boost his approval numbers in Pennsylvania to the highest they've ever been, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

    Mr. Obama made fun of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., himself and BuzzFeed at the White House Correspondents Association dinner Saturday. Watch the speech here.

    Jonathan Weisman writes for The New York Times that the passage of an Internet sales tax bill next month could signal waning power for Grover Norquist and his anti-tax friends.

    A major Republican donor is investing in immigration reform.

    It hasn't worked wonders, but The Washington Post suggests Mr. Obama's charm offensive may be his last, best hope.

    A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday found GOP Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett trailing potential Democratic challengers in his 2014 re-election bid. Former Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak tops Corbett, 48 percent to 34 percent, in a hypothetical matchup, while Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz leads Corbett, 47 percent to 34 percent. Sestak and Schwartz are tied at 15 percent in the Democratic primary, with 59 percent of respondents undecided.

    Ahead of South Carolina's 1st Congressional District special election, Summerville Patch is hosting and live-streaming the only debate between former GOP Gov. Mark Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch.

    An aide to Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley is considering a Senate bid for retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin's seat.

    Politico's Jonathan Martin has a long piece exploring the political color barrier in the age of Obama.

    Every month, the CIA drops off bags full of cash at the office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, much of which pays off warlords with ties to the drug trade and the Taliban, The New York Times reported Sunday.

    Mitt Romney doesn't hold a grudge. The failed Republican presidential candidate has invited New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie to speak at his "Experts and Enthusiasts" conference in Utah. Romney has made the maximum contribution to Christie's re-election campaign, and apparently, the two text and email regularly.

    Dining chez Atlantic publisher David Bradley and "working with the ubiquitous Beltway fixer Bob Barnett," David Patreaus is making a comeback. But to what extent will he raise his public profile?

    Olivier Knox tells Yahoo News readers what an iPod shuffle, a Hermes golf bag and a sculpture of Alexander the Great's horse have in common.

    So, how is prison food? Yelp can tell you.

    Haven't been to the Jefferson City J. Crew lately, have you, state Sen. Ryan McKenna? In a handwritten amendment, the Missouri Republican suggested prohibiting Missourians over the age of eight from wearing seersucker suits.

    Click a few dots for this Harvard experiment and see if it can guess your age.


    Mark Shields and David Brooks agreed that furloughs for FAA workers should not have been exonerated from the sequester, with David calling the bill "stupidity on stilts" and Mark accusing the Obama administration of having "caved like a lawn chair." Watch their conversation with Judy Woodruff here or below. Watch Video

    And the guys talked with Hari Sreenivasan about the NFL draft and former President George W. Bush's legacy in the Doubleheader. Watch Video

    Christina talked with Judy about being in the press pool the day President Ronald Reagan was shot and how Jim and Sarah Brady became gun control advocates.

    Space junk!


    Wife accidentally kills husband during gun lesson (at home with kids asleep at 3:30 am after a night of drinking) nbcnews.to/Zdmf2Y

    — Peter Daou (@peterdaou) April 29, 2013

    Five Presidents. twitter.com/whitehouse/sta...

    — The White House (@whitehouse) April 26, 2013

    We see you, and raise (race?) you RT @whitehouse: Five Presidents. twitter.com/whitehouse/sta...twitter.com/Nationals/stat...

    — Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 26, 2013

    Enjoying @twitter so far. Where else can you hear from @billgates @paulpierce34 @senjohnmccain @theellenshow @usher in one day? #thisisgreat

    — Bill Clinton (@billclinton) April 25, 2013

    They say there is no crying in baseball. And then sometimes, one hits you in the forehead. @ Randall... instagram.com/p/YkaWXoIk2v/

    — Christina Bellantoni (@cbellantoni) April 26, 2013

    Katelyn Polantz 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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    Runners in Washington, D.C,. gathered last week to support victims of the April 15 Boston bombings. Organizer Adam Siple and at least 150 others participated.

    The April 15 attacks at the Boston Marathon shocked all Americans, but runners couldn't sit still for long. By the next morning, runners across the nation woke up with the same idea: get out and run for Boston.

    Washington, D.C., resident Adam Siple grew up in the Boston area and spent the days after the marathon trying to find out if the runners and spectators he knew there were safe. Thinking of his hometown, he posted a Facebook photo of his running shoes with blue and yellow flowers -- the colors of the Boston Marathon. The post resonated with his D.C. running community, so Siple thought he'd get a group together for a run on the National Mall a week after the bombings.

    The Facebook event quickly went viral, attracting more than 350 attendees and eliciting donations and volunteers. A hotel by the Mall offered to host a post-run happy hour and donate a portion of the proceeds to the One Fund for Boston.

    Siple himself aspires to run the Boston Marathon. "You see people striving for excellence. You want to be a part of it, and you draw inspiration from it."

    D.C. participants used the run to clear their heads and work through their emotions with the support of the group. Running helps, Siple said, because "it's a solitary sport... but you draw strength from other runners."

    Adrienne Levy of Charleston, S.C., ran her first marathon in 2011 and cried at her desk when she heard news of the attack.

    "I'll never forget how I crossed that finish line, the wave of emotion. It hits so close to home."

    The morning after the bombings, she emailed a few of her running friends to see if they would meet up the following Sunday morning for a group run around a neighborhood lake.

    The Charleston run grew way beyond Levy's handful of regular running friends with the help of her Twitter following and a Facebook page run by a local running organization.

    Organizers encouraged people to spread the word about the event and directed them to the One Fund for donations. On the day of the race, more than 500 people showed up, wearing stars and stripes, Boston Red Sox jerseys and T-shirts listing the names of the Boston Marathon victims.

    Levy was amazed by the turnout. "It took off. Everyone wanted to run, to show Boston that we support them."

    It wasn't just marathoners who got into the spirit. Courtney Snelgrove's 8-year-old son came to Colonial Lake with her and ran the 5k -- his first -- in honor of Richard Martin, the 8-year-old victim in Boston.

    In Chicago, Kate Napleton, organizer of Chicago Runs for Boston wanted to show her solidarity with Boston as well. "The spirit [of both cities] is so similar; they're both tough towns with a little bit of pluck to them." She invited her friends to meet up for a memorial run and set up a website to raise money for the Red Cross. Her original target was $1,500, but she had to keep raising the goal as donors surpassed it again and again. They have raised more than $5,900 -- and counting. Eager participants gave her cash donations on the day of the race; $500 went to the One Fund.

    The group met at the Lakefront Trail and ran together through the winding park, Lake Michigan on one side and the city of Chicago on the other.

    "All over America, people feel terrible about what had happened... [Running] connects people," Napleton said. The run helped her get beyond the sadness. "At some point you can start feeling like you can let go of things, and work through things a little better with the rhythm of feet. I try to clear my mind."

    As the D.C. runners made their way around the National Mall, they were cheered on and joined by tourists, other runners and bikers. When the police stopped Adam Siple, he thought they might halt the runners since he hadn't gotten official permission for the event. Instead, they asked how they could help.

    Juliet Glauber, one of the D.C. volunteers, recalled running the Marine Corps Marathon alongside amputees who had to stop to clean off their prostheses throughout the race. Running alongside these survivors, she thought, "If they could keep running, I could keep running."

    She has faith that those injured at the Boston Marathon this year will keep running, too.

    Video shot by Elise Garofalo, Rebecca Jacobson and Ellen Rolfes. Edited by Ellen Rolfes and Justin Sciuletti.

    Ellen Rolfes contributed to this story.

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  • 04/29/13--08:21: The Daily Frame
  • Click to enlarge.

    A Filipino artist applies the finishing touches on a mural for Labor Day protests in Manila on Monday. Thousands of workers and activists will march to protest the government's migrant labor policy and demand higher wages. Photo by Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images.

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  • 04/29/13--09:36: Weekly Poem: 'Stars'
  • By Christian Barter

    Down the driveway, standing on the Russell Farm Road, nothing but stars over my neighbor's field and over my neighbor's house which crouches under them with its lit windows, cozy and distant as a research station. Between the bare branches left hanging like threads on cut shirt sleeves, stars tingle, whole galaxies for the leaves that now fill ditches. And down the road toward the impoundment lot stars fill the river that cuts the trees' black banks. I stand in my work coat, dizzy with nicotine, straining my head back like a boy drinking rain to see more of them, star behind star, rich milk of stars, ripe fruit of stars, cast jewels, lit snowflakes, cityscapes of stars through every window the night has thrown open, through every perforation in the woods, and step on the cigarette I've dropped in the road, nothing but stars, stars falling away forever beneath the veneer of dark that supports my feet.

    Christian BarterChristian Barter's first book, "The Singers I Prefer," was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Prize. His poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, The Georgia Review, The American Scholar and elsewhere. He is an editor at the Beloit Poetry Journal and supervises a trail crew in Bar Harbor, Maine. His most recently collection is "In Someone Else's House" (BkMk, 2013).


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