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

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  • 06/05/13--07:48: Around the Nation
  • Here are four arts and culture videos from public media partners around the nation.

    From NPR: "OK Go: A Tiny Desk Concert In 223 Takes": "We needed to figure out the best possible way to move NPR Music's Tiny Desk from our old headquarters to our new facility just north of the U.S. Capitol. So we had OK Go perform "All Is Not Lost" hundreds of times, as we transported the Tiny Desk from one home to the other."

    From the new Alaska Public Media series Indie Alaska: "I Am An Ice Diver": "Bill Streever is an author, biologist and avid adventurer. He is also a life-long diver. In this edition of INDIE ALASKA we follow the intrepid diver under the ice of Summit Lake, in the heart of the Chugach National Forest, for a view that few Alaskans ever see. INDIE ALASKA is an original video series produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios."

    Watch I Am An Ice Diver on PBS. See more from Indie Alaska.

    A new season of documentaries is coming to POV starting June 24. Here's a preview of one: "Herman Wallace has spent more than 40 years in a 6' x 9' prison cell. He works with artist Jackie Sumell to imagine his 'dream home,' questioning justice and punishment in America."

    Watch Herman's House - Trailer on PBS. See more from POV.

    NYC-ARTS visits the New-York Historical Society for a tour of the Audubon Collection. "The museum is the permanent home to all 474 of his watercolors related to artist John James Audubon's work, 'The Birds of America.' The New-York Historical Society will unveil their collection in the continuing exhibition 'Audubon's Aviary: The Complete Flock' through 2015."

    Watch Curator's Choice: Audubon Collection on PBS. See more from NYC-ARTS.


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    Inside Immigration Reform is a PBS NewsHour ongoing series.

    This week on the PBS NewsHour, we look at the economic costs and benefits of the immigration reform bill currently under consideration in the United States Senate.

    The legislation would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants living in the country -- a provision that has charted contrasting and nuanced views from both the right and the left, as well as within the spectrum of the right.

    Ahead of our discussion segment scheduled to air Wednesday, we want to hear from you. Weigh in on each of the statements below.

    Economist Doug Holtz-Eakin of the conservative think tank American Action Forum suggests that without immigration, the population and overall economy would decline as a result of low U.S. birth rates.

    From his study:

    A benchmark immigration reform would raise the pace of economic growth by nearly a percentage point over the near term, raise GDP per capita by over $1,500 and reduce the cumulative federal deficit by over $2.5 trillion.

    Holtz-Eakin, who is also a former Congressional Budget Office director, noted at a recent Bipartisan Policy Center panel that while the legislation on the floor isn't all positive, it would afford the opportunity for a stronger economy and more rapid growth. He said, as happens often in Congress, "There will be a group of disgruntled people voting 'yes.' And that's what'll happen this time."

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    On the other side of the immigration debate, Robert Rector, of the also conservative Heritage Foundation, claims that legalizing undocumented immigrants would cost U.S. taxpayers $6.3 trillion.

    His study released in May proposes that while well-educated households tend to be net contributors to the economy, "the high deficits of poorly educated households are important in the amnesty debate because the typical unlawful immigrant has only a 10th-grade education."

    Rector told the NewsHour:

    Well it's true that increased immigration makes the GDP bigger, it doesn't make the per capita income better. All the benefits go to the immigrants themselves ... In my analysis, what I do is assume, once you legalize an illegal immigrant, he begins to use public services in equal proportion to his American counterpart here who is his same age.

    document.write('');

    Economist Robert Lynch, a fellow at the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress, estimates that legalizing the undocumented population, depending on the time frame for granting citizenship, could boost the country's GDP anywhere from $832 billion to $1.4 trillion by creating new jobs, raising productivity, and contributing to growth in U.S. tax revenue.

    Lynch told the NewsHour:

    What we know is that illegal immigrants are earning a lot less than they potentially could, and that with pathway to citizenship, they could be earning a lot more and contributing to growth in earnings and tax revenues.

    document.write('');

    Professor Harry Holtzer, of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, found in his 2011 analysis of immigration policy that low-skilled immigrants brought economic benefits primarily to employers paying lower wages and consumers purchasing goods and services produced by that same demographic of immigrants.

    While Holtzer admits to the long standing argument that immigrants could impose some costs on U.S. workers "competing for similar jobs," he also adds:

    Immigration accounts for only a small share of the deterioration we have observed in less-skilled Americans' labor market employment and earnings. In the absence of immigration, wages might rise somewhat in certain occupations and certain areas, but probably not by enough to substantially improve the welfare of less-skilled Americans.

    document.write('');

    For more on this evolving debate, visit NewsHour's Immigration page.

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    Watch Video

    Jamie Munkatchy teaches juniors and seniors how to make ethanol in their South Bronx classroom.

    A trio of girls start shrieking as their crucible of clear liquid catches fire. This is exactly the result they were hoping for.

    "It worked!" they scream. "Ms. Munkatchy, we did it!"

    The flaming liquid is ethanol, something Jamie Munkatchy's high school class at Validus Preparatory Academy in the New York City is learning to make this spring. Fermenting and distilling biofuel is not only a lesson in chemistry, but a way to connect their science education to real world problems, Munkatchy said.

    "There is a trend in the current educational literature that we should mimic as much as possible or perhaps even just do real science in the classroom," she said. "Why spend all this time on the background knowledge and who was Bohr and what did his atom look like when there are current science questions going unanswered."

    And the search for alternative fuel sources is one of those key questions, she said. So Munkatchy teaches her students how sugar, yeast and water can become ethanol for their gas tank.

    The Process:

    The class makes a mixture of table sugar, baking yeast and water in glass beakers, sealing the tops with rubber balloons. The yeast feeds on the sugar and ferments, creating ethyl alcohol.

    But the murky liquid isn't ready for the gas tank yet. After the yeast has been filtered out of the liquid, the students have to heat the mixture until the alcohol evaporates. Then the vapor has to cool down as it travels through a tube, dripping into a separate beaker as ethanol.

    Get the mixture too hot, and the vapor could contain too much water. And if it doesn't cool down quickly enough, the vapor won't condense into a liquid, which makes this a very complex task, Munkatchy said.

    Then there's a simple, if a bit dangerous, test to make sure the clear liquid is really ethanol, not water. They have to set it on fire.

    The heat from that combustion determines how far a car can go on the fuel -- the hotter the flame, the farther the car can travel. Later on the class will measure the heat from burning gasoline, ethanol, and biodiesel to determine which releases more energy.

    "I would say I'm trying to develop a pipeline of kids from the Bronx to go into the STEM fields." --Jamie Munkatchy

    Munkatchy says you can purchase biofuel fermentation and distillation kits, complete with yeast and glassware, but they are expensive. Seventy-five percent of students at Validus Prep in the city's South Bronx neighborhood qualify for free and reduced lunch, so purchasing these kits isn't an option. So she has the students make their own distilling devices with glass round bottom flasks, plastic tubing, Bunsen burners and ice.

    And the class gets inventive. Some students wrap plastic bags of ice around the tubes coming out of their flasks. Others eschew the ice and opt for cold water. One group created an elaborate path of tubing around the sink's cold water taps to condense their ethanol. Creative problem solving is a key part of the engineering design cycle, Munkatchy explains, something that will be demanded of them if they pursue a career in the sciences.

    "You don't have to have fancy things to get results," she said.

    When Things Go Wrong in the Lab, Teaching Moments Happen

    Originally we planned to include fun, one-minute science experiments on video as part of PBS NewsHour's STEM teacher series. But even with the best planning, experiments can give you unexpected results, said Jamie Munkatchy, chemistry teacher at Validus Preparatory Academy in the Bronx, New York.

    Here's how our chemistry "magic trick" turned out:

    While the experiment didn't go as planned, it was a teachable moment, Munkatchy said. Once the flames were out, she and I examined my charred twenty dollar bill. One edge wasn't submerged in the water, she determined, so the flame continued to burn.

    When she tried again with another bill, the trick worked.

    Chemistry labs are full of potential hazards -- corrosive acids and bases, potentially explosive chemical reactions and, most importantly, fire. Safety precautions are crucial, like wearing goggles and keeping fire hazards like long hair, sleeves or headdresses out of the way, Munkatchy tells her classes.

    You can't be afraid of the fire in a chemistry lab, Jamie Munkatchy explained to her students during their lesson on distilling biofuel. Panicking will only make the problem worse, she told them.

    Mistakes and accidents happen; you just have to address the problem and learn from the result, Munkatchy said. Usually, the mistakes in an experiment are more valuable than predictable results, she added.

    "It is in these moments that I learn the most," she said in an email. "When students are presented with abnormalities or confusing results they are primed for learning, more so than if experimentation follows a predictable or predetermined outcome. It is exciting, edgy, slightly dangerous - all things I am proud of."

    Do you know a science or math teacher who has a creative lesson plan for his or her students? Send us your nominations here, and your teacher may be featured as a part of this ongoing series.

    Support Your Local PBS Station


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    Paul Solman interviewed David Stockman on the PBS NewsHour broadcast.

    We recently interviewed former President Reagan budget director and private equity executive David Stockman about his recent tome, "The Great Deformation." In it, Stockman argues that the American economic system is broken, corrupted by debt, crony capitalism, and government intervention. He blames the Federal Reserve in particular for keeping interest rates artificially low. As a result, he says, we're in a speculative bubble that's bound to burst and cause another economic meltdown. Stockman explains how we can avoid collapse in the following excerpt from the transcript of our full interview.

    David Stockman: My prescription is to bench the Open Market Committee in the Fed, get them out of interest rate management, get them out of bond buying, out of the debt market and let's get the free market back into finance, and let's get discipline back into Wall Street. Let's get incumbents out of Washington. The only way you can do that unfortunately is to have long terms [in office] and a limit, one time, [and] you never raise any money, you never go to the PACs.

    Paul Solman: PACs?

    David Stockman: Political Action Committees. You run for office on public money. No private money, not rich guy, not poor guy, not unions, not corporations -- public money. You run once. You serve a six year term. You go back to where you came from. You have a citizen legislature. That is the only way that we're ever going to get money out of politics.

    MORE FROM DAVID STOCKMAN: We're Blind to the Debt Bubble

    Paul Solman: Alright, so the Fed goes out of business?

    David Stockman: It goes into its original business, which is passive liquidity supply on good collateral from banks that have actual loans to business not government debt. Government debt is nuts.

    Paul Solman: You severely restrict what the Fed does, you restrict citizen legislators to six years...

    David Stockman: One term, no campaigning, no raising money. The third thing is break up the big banks. If they're too big to fail they're too big to exist. Reimpose Glass Steagall. I call it Super Glass Steagall, basically saying a bank can make loans to businesses or local homeowners and take deposits, that's it. It can't trade. It can't own a hedge fund. You can't have a proprietary desk or a large balance sheet. If it wants to do that then it can call itself a hedge fund, which is what hedge funds do, be out in the free market and without deposit insurance, without access to the Fed window. We need desperately to get this massive, overgrown, bloated, dangerous banking system under control.

    Paul Solman: So, what else?

    David Stockman: Well, look at it, I'm saying we have to get rid of crony capitalism, which means we get the government out of tax subsidies. We get the government out of energy subsidies, [agricultural] subsidies. We basically get back to a free market system and we maintain that discipline. Next, I say if we want to help people do it through the safety net, we need to have actually a more generous, a more stable and a more adequate safety net for people who cannot pass the means test -- whether they're old, whether they're poor or whether they have a job and need to supplement what they're earning under minimum wage.

    Paul Solman: So, you don't want me or you to get generous -- or maybe any -- Social Security at all?

    David Stockman: No, I want to cut you off from Social Security.

    Paul Solman: And yourself?

    David Stockman: And myself and anyone who has enough assets, or a pension, or other income to have a decent standard of living. So therefore, I say, abolish social insurance. I realize that's radical.

    Paul Solman: I'm glad you realize that!

    David Stockman: Of course I realize that. I was down there and fought the wars all those years, but we're going to get to that point anyway when we get into the 2020s and 2030s and we have this massive retirement generation. We have millions of people who are being driven out of the labor force today. They're on food stamps. They're on disability. They'll never get back in.

    The burden of supporting a welfare state is going to be so massive that only those who pass the means test can get it. So, that's another one. I would get rid of half of these federal agencies we have. Energy Department, Small Business Administration, Labor Department, Commerce Department. They're all a big waste of money as far as I'm concerned.

    We have to focus the limited resources we have on the safety net. That's what needs to be done. Defense -- it's obscene the size of the defense budget 25 years after the Cold War ended. It is 80 percent bigger in real terms than (President) Eisenhower had in 1960 when he was up against the real industrial state enemy. So, we need to have a massive demobilization of the defense establishment as part of getting back to fiscal balance.

    Paul Solman: And as a betting man, and you have been a betting man in your career, what would you say the odds are that anybody is going to adopt your program here in America?

    David Stockman: I would say slim to none because the whole system is geared the other way. It's geared to bailouts, it's geared to easy money, it's geared to entitlements for lots of people that don't need them and [which] we can't afford. It's geared to massive intervention in the private market which shouldn't happen.

    So, as long as we are run by a political system that's based on money, and PACs, and organized special interests, I don't think the American people can ever reclaim their democracy, and if they can't reclaim their democracy, and if we can't reclaim control of the Fed, which is basically a tool of Wall Street, that's the nub of it, then, I don't see how any of the items that I've mentioned could happen. I mention them only as kind of a standard to show how far we are off in the other direction.

    Check back here soon for a response from Nobel Prize winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

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


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    By Diane Lincoln Estes

    Watch Video

    Paul Solman's interview with Paul Krugman on "The Great Deformation" will air on the PBS NewsHour soon.

    We recently sat down with former politician and businessman David Stockman to discuss his controversial book, "The Great Deformation," in which he argues our economic system is busted. In the previous Making Sen$e Business Desk post Stockman explains how to fix it. We also asked Nobel economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman what he would do. That exchange is below.

    Paul Solman: So I asked David Stockman for his prescriptions, economic prescriptions for what ails us. Yours?

    Paul Krugman: More spending right now. But if you want operational, I think the first and easiest thing we can do is [give] aid to state and local governments. We had some of that in the first year of the stimulus, but go back to it, 300 billion [dollars] a year of grants to state and local governments for necessary spending. Rehire school teachers, fill potholes, resume infrastructure projects that have been put on hold. That right there is probably enough to bring the unemployment rate down by about a point and a half. So just there you get quite a lot of traction on the economy.

    RELATED CONTENT: Paul Krugman on Debt, but Are Soaring Interest Rates Running Against Him?

    Then there are other things. There are, in fact, some worthy government spending, federal projects. There's a lot we can be doing on the rail system, not grandiose stuff. I'm not gonna say, "let's build a vacuum tunnel from the East to the West Coast," but there are a lot of, you know, just sort of bad stretches of track that need to be fixed that would accelerate stuff quite a lot.

    Maybe resume that payroll tax cut that expired at the beginning of the year, and meanwhile, have the Fed do more of what it has done recently, announce that it is actually going to raise its inflation target some, maybe. I mean, I say let's make it 3 percent not 2 percent. That may be more than they're willing to do, but that's what I would do. I think all of those things would bring us a long way. I think if we did all of that we'd be well under 6 percent unemployment within 18 months, and it's not that hard.

    RELATED CONTENT: A Paul Krugman Round-Up

    Paul Solman: But that's more government spending!

    Paul Krugman: Well yeah, and the point is the aid to state and local governments is time-limited. It expires once the economy is, you know, back in the zone where we no longer need to use that kind of support. Most of the rest is some government spending. I mean, the notion that government spending is per se evil is a big mistake. We actually need quite a lot of it, and I think if you ask, "What would it do to the U.S. debt outlook?" I think it would actually improve it because we would improve the prospect of the currently long-term unemployed. People finally do eventually get back into the work force.

    Paul Solman: But there's got to be a point at which we simply are taking on too much debt, no?

    Paul Krugman: It's a long way off, and it's not a problem. I mean, the government is a long way from having a debt problem. The household sector has too much debt -- that's clear. We see that's what's driving our depressed economy. So, it's not that debt is never a problem. The question is, is government debt a problem right now and is it enough of a problem even in the future to mean that you shouldn't be doing whatever it takes to get full employment now.

    Check back here tomorrow for more from David Stockman and Paul Krugman.

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


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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A new national security adviser is taking her place at the White House, after four years at the United Nations. Word of the realignment came today from the president.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I am extraordinarily proud to announce my new national security adviser, our outstanding ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The afternoon announcement in the White House Rose Garden confirmed a long-anticipated shift. Rice replaces Tom Donilon, who's stepping down after more than two-and-a-half years as national security adviser.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Susan is the consummate public servant, a patriot who puts her country first. She is fearless. She is tough.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That was as close as the president came to mentioning the fierce Republican criticism aimed at Rice after the attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

    She initially relied on the administration's official version of events, depicting it as an act of Muslim outrage. Instead, it was a terrorist attack. Rice played no role in crafting the so-called talking points, but Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado said today she shares some blame.

    REP. DOUG LAMBORN, R-Colo.: And she went on the talk shows and just parroted the talking points that she was given. She showed no critical thinking. She showed no independent thought. And we need those qualities in a national security adviser. And she failed that test.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Last December, amid the furor, Rice withdrew from consideration to be secretary of state. Unlike that post, the job of national security adviser doesn't require Senate confirmation.

    Today, a leading Senate critic of Rice, Republican John McCain, tweeted that he disagrees with the appointment, but will make every effort to work with her.

    And Rice made clear she's ready to get to work.

    SUSAN RICE, National Security Adviser Designee: As you have outlined, we have vital opportunities to seize and ongoing challenges to confront. We have much still to accomplish on behalf of the American people. And I look forward to continuing to serve on your national security team to keep our nation strong and safe.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In four years at the U.N., Rice has advocated using economic and trade restrictions to try to rein in nuclear programs, both in North Korea ...

    SUSAN RICE: Taken together, these sanctions will bite and bite hard. They increase North Korea's isolation and raise the cost to North Korea's leaders of defying the international community.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: ... and in Iran.

    SUSAN RICE: Our aim remains to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear program and negotiate constructively and in earnest with the international community.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The ambassador also sharply criticized Chinese and Russian vetoes of U.N. resolutions aimed at the Syrian government.

    To replace Rice at the U.N., the president today nominated Samantha Power. She is a human rights expert who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on genocide a decade ago and who served as a White House adviser until earlier this year. Power also worked on the president's 2008 campaign, but had to resign after making disparaging remarks about rival Democrat Hillary Clinton during the primaries. 


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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: For more on what today's announcements mean for President Obama's foreign policy, we get two views. Richard Haass was director of policy planning at the State Department during the George W. Bush administration. He's now president of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "Foreign Policy Begins at Home." Anne-Marie Slaughter also directed the State Department's policy planning shop, but during the Obama administration. She's now professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University.

    And we welcome you both to the NewsHour.

    Anne-Marie Slaughter, to you first. Let's talk about Susan Rice. To begin, we heard the president call her fearless and tough. How is she going to fit in with the foreign policy team?

    ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, Princeton University: Well, I think she's been a core member of the foreign policy team from the beginning.

    I mean, really, as a U.N. ambassador, she's been in the White House, in and out of the White House the whole time. She's played a key role. This is not going to be that much of a transition, I think, for the White House in terms of policy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Richard Haass, she's going to be just a few steps away from the president, down the hall in the West Wing. We also heard the president say it runs in her -- she knows how to throw an elbow, that it runs in her family. What does that say?

    RICHARD HAASS, President, Council on Foreign Relations: Well, you know, that may well be true, but what we need is a national security adviser who really can wear two hats.

    On one hand, in this case, she will have to be the principal honest broker, the person who makes sure the president is well-served by the process, he gets the advice he wants, that decisions are actually implemented faithfully and efficiently. And, second of all, she's going to have to be a counselor.

    No one has ever done it better than Brent Scowcroft, though her predecessor, Tom Donilon, I thought also did an extraordinarily good job.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Honest broker, Anne-Marie Slaughter, is that how you see the role? And, if that is what it is, how will she do in that position?

    ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: That's not the only way to do the role.

    I mean, she certainly does have to make sure all -- all views are heard, but some National Security Council advisers have been more of the counselor side, who have had more of a strong advisory role. And Susan will craft the role the way she is naturally fitted to it and really what the president wants.

    The thing to know about Susan Rice, above all, she's a true professional. She is going to do what the president needs. And she already demonstrated that. She stepped down when she realized that continuing to be a candidate for secretary of state was hurting the president. She stepped down. She said, the last I think I want to do is hurt him. And she is going to do the job he wants her to do.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Richard Haass, there was a New York Times piece today that described her as someone in favor of liberal intervention. So, how much does it matter what her personal views are?

    RICHARD HAASS: Well, she can make these views known to the president, as I expect she will, but the president doesn't have to, if you will, take her advice.

    He will get advice from all quarters. So far, the administration, I think quite properly, has resisted many of the calls which I think are ill-advised for certain forms of intervention in, say -- in, say, Syria. You have got to look at the costs. You have got to look at the likely benefits. You have got to look at alternative uses for American power.

    So she, as well as Samantha Power, may very well make these arguments to the president. But so far, at least, in part because of Tom Donilon, the administration has shown real strategic restraint. And I would hope it will continue to.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Anne-Marie Slaughter, do you see policies changing under Susan Rice, and specifically with regard to Syria?

    ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Well, I agree with Richard that I think the president makes up his -- definitely has his own views on this.

    I think he's getting lot of different advice. I disagree on the merits. I think he's making a real mistake. I think in the end, this -- what has been a war in Syria is going to turn into a conflagration across the Middle East.

    The one thing Susan Rice brings there that's very important, she was in the Clinton White House under Rwanda, and she saw what happened when something that originally was a humanitarian call to intervene in a genocide went unaddressed, and the result is, we have a war across Central Africa where two million people have died and it is a continuing strategic problem.

    So I think she and Samantha Power both understand the ways in which the humanitarian and the strategic are often actually intertwined.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Richard Haass, does that suggest that between the two of them, and particularly in the case of Rice, that there will be more -- there will be more people talking to the president about becoming more involved in Syria?

    RICHARD HAASS: Quite possibly.

    But the big strategic idea of this administration -- indeed, I think its historical idea -- was to place less emphasis on the Middle East, which has so dominated and I would argue distorted America's national security now for more than a decade, and instead to put greater attention on the Asia-Pacific, which is where the great powers of this year are colliding and where American instruments can actually accomplish great good.

    So I would hope the administration will, if you will, stay the course there, as well as also do what I would argue, which is repair some of the foundations of our power here at home. There will be those arguing for intervention, but, again, I'm hoping the president, if you will, stays the course and continues to show real restraint.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What changes do you see coming?

    ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: I think, again, this is a team that agrees on the desirability of focusing on Asia. And Susan Rice has dealt with North Korea and she knows that portfolio.

    I think, though, the world has a funny way of deflecting what you want to do, even on the best advice. And, again, I think both Susan Rice and Samantha Power are people who very much understand the complexity of development issues, terrorism issues, sectarian issues, humanitarian issues in a very complicated strategic calculus.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Richard Haass, pick up on that, and bring Samantha Power into this. She is going to be -- assuming she's confirmed by the Senate, she will be taking up the post at the U.N.

    RICHARD HAASS: Sure.

    She takes the post at a time where, quite honestly, the U.N. as a whole is not terribly central to what is going on in the world. That kind of multilateralism, for the most part, isn't working, in part because the major powers cannot agree.

    Instead, what increasingly we're doing is taking end-runs around the U.N., finding partners to deal with this or that issue where we can, and my hunch is that will be -- that will be the future. But she has two hats, also, like a national security adviser. One is to represent the United Nations at the U.N. The other is to essentially be part of the president's national security team and advocate back in Washington.

    And we will have to see what kind of -- what the president instructs her to do in terms of balancing those two roles.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see Samantha Power in the position at the U.N., assuming she's confirmed?

    ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Well, I actually think this administration has been very focused on the U.N., on North Korea, on Iran, on Syria, indeed, more focused than some people think they should be. They really have insisted on going multilaterally.

    So I think Samantha Power is going to find herself, as Susan Rice did, often as a leading spear carrier for our diplomacy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And just finally, to both of you.

    Richard Haass, what do these appointments say about the president?

    RICHARD HAASS: Well, I think what it says is that here he is in his second term, he doesn't face another election, that he essentially wants to have around him the people who he knows best, who he has worked with as a senator, as a campaigner, as president.

    These are not outsiders, anything but. This is -- if anything, this is a narrowing or tightening of the national security team at the White House.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You worked in the Obama administration. How do you see that, this narrowing of the team?

    ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: Only a man can say this is the narrowing of the team. This is adding two important women to key positions in the White House in a way that I actually think is very important.

    These are more diverse voices right there. And, actually, although they do all know each other, I think there's a broader range of views with Susan Rice and Samantha Power, with many of the other people who are in the White House. And I think we're going to see that make a difference.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Anne-Marie Slaughter, Richard Haass, we thank you both. 


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    If you still aren't sure about how large a role technology will play in creating job opportunities in the future, or whether China rather than the U.S. is the main driver of the global economy, or how worried the younger generation is about climate change, there's a just-released global survey to provide answers. It's a kind of a "millennial crystal ball" that came about when Telefonica, the giant telecommunications company based in Spain, paired up with the Financial Times to sponsor the largest global study of millennials ever conducted: more than 12,000 respondents, in 27 countries, across six continents.

    A majority of young people still say they believe they 'can make a global difference.'

    The survey was weighted in favor of those with a college education, and some of the findings confirmed what we've already learned about the younger generation in the United States and Western Europe: they're worried about the economy and whether they'll have the chance to do as well as their parents' and grandparents' generations. (No surprise, since both regions are struggling with slow economic growth.) In the short run, majorities in every region say it is difficult for their age cohort to "progress from school to the workplace environment."

    So it was striking that most millennials in Asia and Latin America especially, as well as in Central and Eastern Europe, and even in the Middle East and Africa, responded that, despite obstacles like these, they still believe their "country's best days are ahead."

    At the same time, a majority of young people on every continent except Latin America believe technology has widened the gap between rich and poor, a separation they suggest they'd like to see closed. And there is another notable gap in the perceptions of technology: gender. Young men are far more likely than young women to consider themselves on the cutting edge of technology, or to say technology has been influential in shaping their outlook on life. This could have implications for the ability of women to influence the economy, since technology and jobs will go hand-in-hand in many sectors.

    One other finding that probably shouldn't surprise us is the high proportion of millennials outside the United States who say climate change is a "very pressing" issue: 70 percent in Latin America, 59 percent in Asia and 49 percent in Western Europe. In the U.S., only 36 percent say the same, perhaps because of the paramount worry here over jobs and the economy.

    What also comes through in this global survey, the most comprehensive of its kind, is a stubborn personal optimism that is often directly proportional to the level of political freedom respondents enjoy. In the U.S., where worries about jobs and debt trump all other concerns, a majority of young people still say they believe they "can make a global difference." Larger majorities agree across most of Latin America, South Africa, India and South Korea. But in China, with its Communist government (and despite explosive economic growth), only 27 percent of young people say they believe they can make a global difference, and even fewer, 22 percent, say so in Russia, where the government of Vladimir Putin is increasingly repressive.

    The odds are slim to none, but wouldn't it be heartening if the leaders in these and other countries spent a little more time listening to these young people and thinking about the contributions they have to make, both inside their own borders, and beyond?

    Graphic from Telefonica's Global Millennial Survey

    Follow @JudyWoodruff

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    KWAME HOLMAN: An American soldier pleaded guilty today to killing 16 Afghan civilians last year. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales appeared at Joint Base Lewis-McChord outside Seattle. He told a military judge that he entered two Afghan villages at night and shot each victim, most of them women and children. Asked why he did it, Bales answered, "There's not a good reason in this world." If the judge accepts the plea, Bales will avoid the death penalty.

    In Turkey, anti-government activists demanded the ouster of police chiefs over a violent crackdown on protests. They met with the deputy prime minister and also called for lifting restrictions on civil liberties and banning police use of tear gas. Meanwhile, thousands of trade union members marched in Istanbul and Ankara. They waved banners and chanted slogans demanding that Prime Minister Erdogan resign.

    Family, friends and fellow lawmakers gathered in New York today for the funeral of New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Hundreds of mourners, including a number of dignitaries, attended today's service at a Manhattan synagogue. Vice President Biden and others paid tribute to Lautenberg as the Senate's oldest member and last veteran of World War II to serve there.

    VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: He loved the Senate, because he saw it as the place he could do more than all the financial success he had, all the philanthropy he had, all the influence he had in the community. He believed -- and he was right -- there was no place he could do as much to impact on the people he cared about than the United States Senate.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Lautenberg died Monday of complications from pneumonia. He was 89. Tomorrow, his body will lie in repose in the Senate chamber, and on Friday be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

    Apple says it will appeal a ban on imports of some models of its iPhone 4 and iPad 2. The products are made in China. The U.S. International Trade Commission announced the ban Tuesday. It found the Apple devices violate a patent held by rival Samsung. The ruling was the latest round in a long-running fight between the two electronics giants.

    An 84-year-old woman today claimed a Powerball Jackpot worth $590 million dollars. Gloria C. MacKenzie of Zephyrhills, Fla., held the only winning ticket in last month's drawing. In a statement today, she said another person let her cut in line when she bought the ticket at a supermarket. MacKenzie took the lump sum payment option, and will net $270 million dollars after taxes.

    On Wall Street, stocks tumbled after economic reports that showed sluggish job growth and falling factory orders. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 217 points to close at 14,960. The Nasdaq fell more than 43 points to close at 3,401.

    Also today, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed rules aimed at ensuring stability in money-market mutual funds. They would allow share values to float, meaning investors could lose principal if funds perform poorly. The change would affect mainly institutional investors.

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


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    GWEN IFILL: We turn to Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad claimed a major strategic victory today in recapturing the town of Qusayr from rebels.

    We have a report narrated by Neil Connery of Independent Television News.

    NEIL CONNERY, Independent Television News: Syrian army tanks roll into the heart of Qusayr, this key town which both sides have fought over now firmly in the grip of President Assad's forces.

    State television making the most of this victory against the rebels -- the regime's view that whoever controls Qusayr controls the center of Syria. The fierce battle here has seen fighters from the Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah cross into Syria and fight alongside the regime's forces, their intervention proving too much for the rebels.

    "We have nearly 1,000 wounded people here," this man says, "but the outside world has forgotten us."

    The Syrian regime is hailing this as a vital strategic victory. Qusayr dominates an important cross-border supply route in and out of Lebanon. But Qusayr is also the key to controlling the central area of Syria around Homs and the corridor which links Damascus to President Assad's Alawite heartland around the northern coastal city of Latakia.

    I managed to travel to Qusayr last year and saw Syrian tanks and troops during a brief lull in the fighting. But even then, people feared President Assad's forces would take revenge on the town for supporting the rebels.

    MAN: Maybe two or three weeks, not more. And he will come back to shouting and shelling.

    NEIL CONNERY: They did come back, and, today, Qusayr is once again under the control of Syrian forces. 


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Our Margaret Warner is in the region and just visited a Lebanese city where dozens have already been killed in the sectarian violence fanned by the conflict in Syria.

    And, as she reports tonight, the prospects for even further escalation there are high.

    MARGARET WARNER: From the bluffs above Tripoli, Lebanon's second largest city, it looks like the thriving Mediterranean port it's been since antiquity. And not far from the seaside, the commercial district hums.

    It's hard to believe that less than a mile from here, at the north end of town, a primitive sectarian war is raging between two poor neighborhoods, one Sunni, one of the splinter Shia sect the Alawites, who have lined up on opposing sides in the Syrian civil war next door.

    In the past five weeks alone, three dozen people have been killed and at least 250 wounded in clashes that have deeply disturbed the rest of the country. It's the worst sectarian fighting Lebanon has seen in the nearly quarter-century since its own civil war ended in 1990.

    For a closer look, we ventured first to the Sunni neighborhood Bab al-Tabbaneh, on the flat land within eyesight and rifle-shot of Alawite fighters in the Shia district of Jabal Mohsen above. The buildings were riddled by bullets and mortars. Yet, children were playing. And with rumors of a battle to come the next day, Lebanese army troops were taking up stations.

    A neighborhood resident, Ahmed Jamal, gave us a tour of what he said once was called Gold Street.

    AHMED JAMAL, Lebanon: Look at all this damage. All the shops have shut down and gone away.

     

    MARGARET WARNER: Even worse than the physical damage, he said, is the psychological toll.

    AHMED JAMAL: We live day by day. We don't know if we're going to be alive the next day. So, before we buy a house, we buy a cemetery plot or a coffin.

    MARGARET WARNER: Jamal, who is a hummus maker, not a combatant, has bought guns to protect his family. He insisted the outbursts of fighting are always instigated by the Alawite district up the hill, whenever Assad's forces in Syria want to stir up trouble for Lebanon's Sunnis.

    AHMED JAMAL: The orders come from higher command in Syria. Whenever they're under pressure, they give orders and the fighting starts here.

    MARGARET WARNER: But he admits Sunni residents aren't blameless, carrying grudges against Alawites from more than two decades of Syrian occupation that ended eight years ago.

    AHMED JAMAL: Their families were slaughtered, so when the children grew up, they bought guns and wanted revenge for their families.

    MARGARET WARNER: The next block over, in streets of grinding poverty, preparations for battle were under way. From everyone, we heard a deep sense of grievance against Alawites.

    From 21-year-old Ziad Habshiti a desire for revenge.

    ZIAD HABSHITI, Lebanon: I'm fighting because they killed my brother. My brother was 13 years old, and they killed him.

    MARGARET WARNER: What do you think you are accomplishing in this thing?

    ZIAD HABSHITI: We are defending our rights, our land and our people.

    MARGARET WARNER: Do you worry that you're destroying your neighborhoods?

    ZIAD HABSHITI: Homes and houses are not important. People are dying. They are more important. The Prophet Mohammed said, whoever is aggressive against you, you should be against them just as well.

    MARGARET WARNER: Just up the hill, a self-fulfilling prophecy, in the Alawite district of Jabal Mohsen. As his men fortified their fighting positions on the high ground, precinct commander Abu Ali Zumar boasted about why the casualty figures are lopsided in the Alawites' favor.

    ABU ALI ZUMAR, Lebanon: We have machine guns, but we use the technique of sniping. We are organized people. We're not like them, who just take pills and run in the streets.

    MARGARET WARNER: Like his Sunni antagonists, Zumar blames the rival side for instigating the clashes. But he nurses an even older sense of grievance, dating back to the split between Sunnis and Shia 14 centuries ago.

    ABU ALI ZUMAR: It started with the killing of Hussain, and it will not end until judgment day.

    MARGARET WARNER: He was referring to the slaying in 680 of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson, revered Shia saint Imam Hussain.

    Less than five minutes away from the barricades, cafe manager Rabia Suleiman had invited us to sit with him on the street, packed with idle young men and dotted with posters of their fellow Alawite in Syria Bashar Assad.

    RABIA SULEIMAN, Lebanon: There's a truce, but did you hear the gunshots?

    MARGARET WARNER: I did. But who -- isn't that coming from here?

    RABIA SULEIMAN: It's coming from their area.

    MARGARET WARNER: Right now, we heard gunshots, but nobody is moving.

    RABIA SULEIMAN: It is safe. The danger is on the demarcation line.

    MARGARET WARNER: Despite his blase tone, Suleiman was ready for combat.

    RABIA SULEIMAN: I'm a fighter. We are all fighters. Whenever it starts, we all become fighters. We carry weapons to defend our area. And we are expecting these events to spread throughout Lebanon.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yet not far from this "Lord of the Flies" scene, we found humanity at a small eatery near the port in customer Ahmad Moustafa Mohammad.

    AHMAD MOUSTAFA MOHAMMAD, Lebanon: We give them all the support they need, mattresses, blankets, food portions, and we give each family $100 dollars to help in the rent.

    MARGARET WARNER: He heads a local aid organization helping some of the 3.25 million or more refugees who fled the real war in Syria, many to Tripoli and North Lebanon. Help is especially critical in the first three months, he said, before they get their bearings.

    AHMAD MOUSTAFA MOHAMMAD: During these three months is when we step in and we help them. Otherwise, they would be sleeping in the streets and have nothing.

    MARGARET WARNER: Despite funding from U.N. relief agencies and individuals and foundations mostly from the Gulf, he said, his group is struggling as the wave of refugees swells.

    Mohammad took us to a 24/7 medical clinic his charity runs for refugees who are injured or ill.

    ABDUL KARIM AL JERBIL, Refugee: They brought us through the mountains. They had to carry us on animals for transportation until we got here.

    MARGARET WARNER: Twenty-four-year-old Abdul Karim Al Jerbil, a fighter with the Free Syrian Army, or FSA, was hit by an explosion in the early days of the battle for the strategic Syrian town of Qusayr, 40 miles away.

    When we saw him, he was having a skin graft for his shattered forearm, where the skin and tissue had been blown off and left to fester for weeks.

    DR. GHAZI ASWAD, Orthopedic Specialist: The situation here is very tragic.

    MARGARET WARNER: The supervising surgeon, Dr. Ghazi Aswad, a French orthopedic specialist of Syrian descent who came here a year ago.

    GHAZI ASWAD: The pain of the women, the pain of the children, the pain of the people made me come here.

    MARGARET WARNER: But also suffering, as this city is sucked deeper into the Syria conflict, are ordinary Tripoli citizens, the men and women who make this city tick.

    Normally, at midday, this tailor's souk in Tripoli would be bustling with shoppers. But with sectarian fighting and killings in the neighborhoods right next door, nobody knows when the crowds will return.

    Forty-two-year-old Hassan Hamwie has seen his clothes-making and repair business drop nearly 80 percent since the Syria conflict began and Tripoli's rival neighborhoods revived their longstanding feud.

    HASSAN HAMWIE, Tailor: My five-year-old asks me what's happening, and I'm telling him there are clashes. He asks me why there are clashes, and I have no answer.

    MARGARET WARNER: He blames self-serving politicians, an ineffective army and divided Lebanese government and Syrian provocateurs on both sides for using Lebanon as a pawn.

    So does it make you angry?

    HASSAN HAMWIE: One hundred percent it makes me angry, because it has the worst impact on the middle and lower classes in Tripoli and in Lebanon.

    MARGARET WARNER: Just down the row of shops are the shuttered doors of another tailor felled by a sniper in the fighting.

    ADNAN AL KATAMI, Tailor: With all the civil wars and troubles we have had, there has never been as bad an economic time as now.

    MARGARET WARNER: Next door, 75-year-old tailor Adnan Al Katami, who started in business with his father six decades ago.

    Tourists from the region and abroad used to flock to buy Katami's handmade traditional Lebanese dress. Now he doesn't sell, so he can't buy either.

    ADNAN AL KATAMI: I used to go shopping and bring things to the house when I finished the day. Now I can't do it because we are not making enough money.

    MARGARET WARNER: Katami doesn't hold himself out as a soothsayer, but he sees a dark future ahead.

    ADNAN AL KATAMI: It's going to spread in all Lebanon now, because the Sunnis are fighting and the Shia will start trouble in another area. So it's going to be bad, and there will be conflict and war, not only in Lebanon, but the region.

    MARGARET WARNER: A Lebanon that looks like parts of Tripoli? Now, that would be a nightmare scenario. 


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    GWEN IFILL: Next, we examine the economic impact of legalizing the country's undocumented population. It's part of our ongoing series, “Inside Immigration Reform.”

    Ray Suarez has that conversation.

    RAY SUAREZ: The immigration reform bill under consideration in the Senate would provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. And depending on who is crunching the numbers, there are contrasting views on what immigration reform would cost, and whether it would help or hurt the U.S. economy.

    The Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, estimates that legalizing the undocumented could boost the country's gross domestic product anywhere from $832 billion dollars to $1.4 trillion dollars, depending on the time frame for granting citizenship by creating new jobs and raising incomes and tax revenue. The conservative Heritage Foundation, on the other hand, calculates that immigrants gaining legal status would receive $9.4 trillion dollars in government benefits and services over their lifetimes, while paying just $3.1 trillion dollars in taxes, resulting in a net cost of $6.3 trillion dollars.

    We're joined now by the authors of both studies.

    Robert Lynch is a professor of economics at Washington College and a visiting senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. And Robert Rector is a senior research fellow in domestic policy at the Heritage Foundation.

    And, Robert Rector, if we took the millions who are already in the U.S. out of status and made a large number of them legal residents, what are the major costs involved?

    ROBERT RECTOR, Heritage Foundation: Well, one of the things that the bill does, when you grant legalization, is you're granting 10 to 11 million people who are currently legal access to a wide range of government benefits, virtually all of them, such as Obamacare, over 80 different means-tested welfare programs, such as Medicaid and food stamps, and ultimately to Social Security and Medicare.

    The 11 million immigrants have an average education level of 10th grade, so they pay very little and will pay very little in taxes. They are inherently net beneficiaries. And, therefore, when you grant them access to all of these programs, it's extremely expensive to other taxpayers in the United States.

    RAY SUAREZ: Robert Lynch, do you agree that there are a lot of costs involved with bringing people into a legal framework?

    ROBERT LYNCH, Center for American Progress: There are costs, but the benefits far exceed the costs.

    What we know is that every time in the past when we have legalized immigrants who are here undocumented, we have seen tremendous increases in their productivity. They start producing much more, earning much more, paying much more in taxes. They pay much more in taxes not just because they earn more income, but once they become legalized, become aboveground and they start declaring their income, so we also see a tremendous increase in the declared income from these individuals, so that, overall, the benefits far exceed the costs.

    RAY SUAREZ: Robert Rector, would you agree with Robert Lynch that once you bring people into the legitimate economy, not only do they pay more taxes, but their economic possibilities increase?

    ROBERT RECTOR: Absolutely.

    And we looked at the last amnesty that was done in 1986 very carefully, and we modeled into our estimate tax increases that come from -- and income increases that come from legalization. But we find those absolutely dwarfed by access to all of these different government spending programs.

    Just to give an example, we believe in the first years of the bill, that tax payments by the illegal immigrants will go up $15 to $20 billion dollars a year, but that they will also get the earned income tax credit, which costs about $12 billion dollars a year. And then later on, they get vast -- many, many more programs.

    So there will be tax revenue increases. There will be productivity increases. So, I agree with that completely. But those are dwarfed by a magnitude of about 4-1 by all the benefits and services and so forth that they will be able to access over their lifetimes.

    RAY SUAREZ: What about that point, that there will be increased revenue ...

    ROBERT LYNCH: Right.

    RAY SUAREZ: ... clearly, because now they will in the legitimate economy, but also a lot more costs per individual?

    ROBERT LYNCH: Right.

    Well, I think, as everyone who has looked at this study has concluded, it has a series of methodological errors, and one he just mentioned right now. He says that we -- the Heritage study does include increases in productivity, but they include a five percent increase in productivity.

    The last legalization he looked at, 1986, had a 15 percent increase in productivity when they went just from illegal to legal. And subsequent studies have shown another 10 percent to 12 percent increase in productivity when they went from legal to citizen. So, in fact, you see about a 25 percent increase in productivity. His is only five.

    And, therefore, he grossly understates how much extra revenue comes into the government. And, at the very same time, he overstates how much in public services those undocumented immigrants will take. Both those skew his numbers in a way that grossly inflate the cost of immigration reform.

    RAY SUAREZ: But bringing people out of the black economy into the light is such a complicated thing.

    And I'm wondering, Robert Lynch, if you include all the employers who have been making higher profits because they have been exploiting illegal workers. They don't pay disability insurance. They don't pay unemployment insurance. They don't pay many payroll taxes. They don't pay overtime in many cases.

    ROBERT LYNCH: Yes, absolutely.

    RAY SUAREZ: Do things like that go into your calculation?

    ROBERT LYNCH: Yes, absolutely.

    So, what happens is that when workers' productivity increases 25 percent, you see a couple of things that happen simultaneously. On the one hand, you see a tremendous increase in the production of goods and services, expanding the American economy.

    At the same time, the formerly undocumented are earning so much more, they're spending much more. And that houses a demand effect where you see business sales increases. When their sales increase, they produce more and they hire more workers. And you see the jobs for Americans go up and the incomes of Americans as well.

    So, you have to take into consideration not just what happens to the undocumented, but what also happens to native Americans, both employers and American workers.

    RAY SUAREZ: Does it become more expensive to do business if there's this big change in the nature of the American work force?

    ROBERT RECTOR: Well, I don't think it will be because the bill also imports large numbers of low-skill immigrants, in addition to those that are currently here.

    So I actually think it will have an effect of pushing down the wages of the least-skilled American workers. I believe that the illegal immigrants, up to now, have reduced the average wage of a low-skill American worker by about $2,600 dollars a year.

    But let me just say, how do I estimate how much they will cost? It's a fairly simple method. I take each illegal immigrant, and then I compare him to a legal immigrant who has the same education level and the same age and so forth. And I say once you grant the illegal immigrant amnesty status and access to all these programs, which they do eventually get under the bill, then the receipt of benefits of the amnesty recipient will be very similar to those of a current legal immigrant who is of the same socioeconomic status.

    And, once you do that, what you see is the expenditures on these individuals are simply going to skyrocket. Currently, they cost the taxpayers on average overall about $50 billion dollars a year, benefits minus taxes. I think, once you legalize them, that jumps up to around $160 billion dollars a year, based on the benefits that are currently received by similar legal immigrants.

    RAY SUAREZ: Robert Lynch, it sounds like you have a fundamentally different view of not only the today of those workers, but their futures and the futures of their children.

    ROBERT LYNCH: Right. Right.

    This is one of the big problems with his analysis, is that it's completely static in nature. What we know from following millions of examples of people who have gone from being undocumented to legal citizens is that, once they acquire that guarantee of permanent residency here in the United States, they start to invest much more heavily in their English-language ability and their education and training.

    And so we see dramatic improvements in their productivity and rising levels of education and skill levels, which result in much higher incomes. His analysis considers that all static; that never happens.

    We also see people moving into jobs where they're more productive. We also see, once they become legalized, that the formerly undocumented can now get access to permits and licenses and credits, and they start businesses. And we know that newly legalized immigrants create new businesses and hire more workers at higher rates than native-born Americans.

    And so any immigration reform that unleashes this entrepreneurial potential is going to create a bigger economy, more jobs, and a better government system, more -- that is fewer, lower deficits than we have right now.

    RAY SUAREZ: Well, I'm sure we will hear both these arguments on the floor of the House and Senate in the coming weeks.

    Gentlemen, thank you both very much.

    ROBERT LYNCH: Thank you.

    ROBERT RECTOR: Thank you.

    GWEN IFILL: We examine the different claims about the economic impact of immigration reform online, where you can add your voice to the debate. Find that and the other conversations in the series on our Immigration page. 


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    JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight, switching the tone just a bit for a conversation with humorist Dave Barry.

    Barry is well-known for his long-running newspaper column about all things wacky and wonderful in Miami. And Miami is the setting for his new novel, which includes a bachelor party run amuck, a wedding that's interrupted by the arrival of a boat of Haitian refugees, a large python snake, some Russian gangsters and, well, a lot more. The book is titled "Insane City."

    Dave Barry joined me in our studio last week. Here's our conversation.

    David Barry, welcome.

    DAVE BARRY, Author: Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: "Insane City," that would, of course, be Miami.

    DAVE BARRY: That's my town.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Once again giving you a cool all kinds of material.

    DAVE BARRY: Why else do we have Miami, if not to give me material?

    No, I moved there in 1986 from the United States.

    And I have never lived in a more target-rich environment for a humorist.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What is it about Miami that keeps giving?

    DAVE BARRY: People -- I mean, first of all, the people are weird. People come from everywhere. People -- just weird people are attracted to Miami. And they come there not for serious reasons, usually.

    They come there to be criminals. That would be our elected officials for the most part. They come there to party. And then the wildlife is weird. The weather is weird. It's just this festering stew of weirdness.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now, amid the weirdness, though, part of the fun mayhem here, then you bring in this raft of Haitian refugees arriving in the midst of a lavish wedding, right? Now, that part, at least migration is not funny, in and of itself.

    DAVE BARRY: No. No.

    The goal there was, I wanted to give the hero of the book, a guy named Seth, who is kind of a slacker who is getting married, something that he had to be responsible for. He's been a guy who sort of drifted through life. And he accidentally, on the night of his bachelor party, gets very, well, wasted -- and that's normal -- but then, without intending to, ends up rescuing a Haitian woman who washes ashore with her two children in a place where Haitians regularly do come ashore in Miami, and is then suddenly responsible for them.

    And he has -- on the weekend of his what is supposed to be perfect wedding has Haitians living in his bachelor suite, which is not ideal.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now, but as a writer then, you -- the tone -- you have to balance that tone, right, of sort of over-the-top humor and, well, Haitian refugees.

    DAVE BARRY: Yes. And I tried very hard to treat them very seriously. It is a life-and-death problem that they are dealing with.

    But, at the same time, the machinations of the groom and his groomsmen and the bride trying to get the wedding to go ahead the way it is supposed to around that is meant to be funny.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, part of -- it seems like you are always -- you're taking normal things and pushing them.

    DAVE BARRY: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, is that the M.O. here? Where does it start? Does it start with the normal thing and then you sort of imagine, oh, I wonder how far I -- what I can do with it?

    DAVE BARRY: Yes.

    Like, one of the other problems that the groom has to deal with is he's -- he loses the wedding ring. He has been entrusted with the wedding -- really nothing but the wedding ring, this valuable heirloom wedding ring. He loses it. And I thought, well, what would be a really good way to lose it? And I decided that he would lose it to an orangutan. So there's an orangutan named Trevor.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Wait a minute.

    DAVE BARRY: Yes.

    Well, this happens all the time. Never -- this is why are you not supposed to have an orangutan at a wedding. You know that. Right?

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. And I'm not supposed to ask why losing a ring -- it would be a nice way to lose it to an orangutan.

    DAVE BARRY: Well, it's just because it is a little bit, as you say, pushing, pushing the envelope.

    And what is funny is that I meant for Trevor to be like a minor character, just he was going to be the mechanism by which the ring gets lost. But I liked him a lot. And he really -- he kind of took on a life of his own, and he became, in fact, a romantic character in this novel.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And then the other thing is the mundane craziness, and I think -- I guess I'm imagining this is your reporter's eye. I did an experiment this afternoon.

    I just opened the book randomly. I was on page 244. But one of the characters is trying to buy something at a drugstore.

    DAVE BARRY: Right.

    JEFFREY BROWN: This is something we all go through.

    DAVE BARRY: Yes.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And then he said -- but you write, "She was the" -- he is behind one customer -- "She was the nightmare customer to be stuck behind, a woman with coupons."

    And then you kind of riff on that.

    DAVE BARRY: Yes. This is a guy who is a gangster, basically, who needs to get some diapers for the Haitian -- it's complicated, but he needs to get some diapers for the Haitian mother's kids. And he gets stuck behind this woman.

    JEFFREY BROWN: That is complicated.

    DAVE BARRY: And we have all been stuck behind that woman with, you know -- and she has a coupon, but it is not for the right thing. Well, what is the right thing? That is a cent off -- you know, that -- so I wrote a long scene where this poor man with a gun is stuck behind this woman.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Tell me about -- of course, you wrote this column for a long time -- the biggest difference between turning that out and then this kind of -- this kind of work.

    DAVE BARRY: Well, when I'm writing columns, it's -- all I'm thinking about is jokes, joke, joke, joke, setup, punch line, joke, joke, joke. And I really don't care where it goes.

    I don't have a point the make. I have never had a point in my life to make. I'm just trying to entertain the reader. So I'm happy to start on one topic and end on another one entirely, as long as it's funny.

    With a novel, you have to have a story. It's much more important to have it matter to the reader what happens to people, and it has to make sense and end in a way that is satisfying. So I spend a lot more time thinking about that. Then the writing itself usually is easier for me, because I know where it's going.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But those columns won you a Pulitzer for commentary.

    And you are saying joke, joke, joke, you had no point to make?

    DAVE BARRY: Sometimes, it gets really -- I became, after I won the Pulitzer Prize, a juror. And it can be a long day reading Pulitzer Prize entries. So I think maybe they were just happy to have something that wasn't serious.

    JEFFREY BROWN: No, but you -- but you also -- you would go to scenes, right? You were reporting the city in a sense in a joking way.

    DAVE BARRY: Yes, I mean, I ...

    DAVE BARRY: Yes, yes. If you are trying to give me a compliment here, by gosh, I'm going to take it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: OK. Take it and run with it.

    I mean, no, but did you see yourself sort of -- and in this too, it's kind of reporting a city. Am I taking this too far?

    DAVE BARRY: No, no, you are absolutely right.

    And I do try to raise certain issues. They're not like major abstract policy issues, but, you know, dealing with the issue in this case of why is it OK for Haitian -- for Cuban immigrants to come to Miami and just walk ashore and they're allowed to stay, and Haitian immigrants are not?

    And that suddenly becomes important to this guy who never even thought about immigration. So I guess I'm raising that issue.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Do you have a favorite literary humorist of the past that you look to, either as columnist or novelist?

    DAVE BARRY: My favorite novelist of all time is P.G. Wodehouse.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Wodehouse.

    DAVE BARRY: And when I write a book, that is the guy I'm thinking of, like many different characters with many different motives banging off each other in someplace, like Blandings Castle, with no idea what the other ones are up to, and somehow some resolution at the end. I love that kind of plotting.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And what is to come? More Miami keeps giving? What?

    DAVE BARRY: Yes, Miami, you can never run out of material. As long as you have Miami around you, you will never, never stop being amused.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right. Well, this one is "Insane City."

    Dave Barry, nice to talk to you.

    DAVE BARRY: Same here. Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And, online, you can watch more of Dave Barry as he reads an excerpt from his new novel. 


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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight, it's been nearly half-a-century since civil rights leader Medgar Evers was murdered. Today, outside Washington, current and former leaders gathered to honor his life and legacy.

    The somber sounds of memorial echoed this morning across Arlington National Cemetery, where Medgar Evers is buried. Evers, a veteran of World War II, died at the hands of an assassin in 1963.

    Former President Clinton spoke of Evers as a warrior who fought for his country on more than one front.

    FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, United States: The meaning of Medgar Evers' life was that he came home, and even though he had a gorgeous wife and beautiful kids and an unbelievable life to look forward to, he said, it can't be that I was a soldier in the American Army and I stood up for freedom, and I can't vote, and my neighbors can't vote.

    GWEN IFILL: Evers ultimately became the NAACP's first field secretary in the South, as racial tensions boiled over. He was gunned down outside his home in Jackson, Miss. His family heard the shots as they waited for him inside.

    It took more than 30 years for white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith to finally be convicted of the murder. He died in prison in 2001.

    At President Obama's second inaugural in January, Evers' widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, urged Americans to continue the push for equality. At Arlington today, she said her husband's legacy lives on.

    MYRLIE EVERS-WILLIAMS, Widow of Medgar Evers: I can hear Medgar's voice saying: "I thank all of you for believing in me, but it's really not necessary. Just get out there and prove that you believe in me and that you believe in my country, which is our country."

    GWEN IFILL: Just last month, Evers-Williams delivered the commencement speech at the University of Mississippi, which once refused to admit her husband because of his race.

    For more on the legacy of Medgar Evers, we turn to Jerry Mitchell, a reporter for the Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger, who won two George Polk Awards and a MacArthur genius grant for his investigative civil rights coverage.

    Thank you. And welcome. Thank you for coming in.

    JERRY MITCHELL, The Clarion-Ledger: Good to be here.

    GWEN IFILL: Fifty years later, 30 years after -- it took 30 years to find his killer.

    JERRY MITCHELL: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: What kind of legacy does there exist now for Medgar Evers?

    JERRY MITCHELL: I think his legacy in a sense is growing.

    There's a realization -- you know, Martin Luther King said, one day, the South will recognize its true heroes. And I think that's taking place before our eyes. We see the service today, the recognition of Medgar Evers.

    You had President Clinton speak there and many others speak there. And I think that says something about the stature of Medgar Evers. When he died, the moment he died, he really wasn't known nationally, but yet he became known through his death. And so his assassin, in trying to kill -- in killing Medgar Evers, thought that he was going to kill the movement: I'm going to stop the movement.

    And yet he didn't. He kind of brought more attention it.

    GWEN IFILL: Gave it more life. It feels like that assassination was a turning point in many ways in the movement.

    JERRY MITCHELL: It really was, if you think about it, because, in the wake of that, and, of course, Kennedy's assassination, you had the passage of the Civil Rights Act of '64.

    GWEN IFILL: Myrlie Evers, who I know you have spent a good deal of time with, said today at Arlington that she had recently seen for the first time, the actual rifle that was used to kill her husband.

    JERRY MITCHELL: Yes. Yes.

    It's on -- and, believe it or not, it's on display right now as part of an exhibit at the Mississippi Department of Archives of History.

    GWEN IFILL: Wow.

    JERRY MITCHELL: And, of course, it has pictures of Medgar and his life. And she talked about that rifle as like the epitome of evil. But, yet, when it fired, it lit a fire that didn't go out.

    GWEN IFILL: Are the wounds still open?

    JERRY MITCHELL: I think so.

    I think, you know, there's a certain amount of wounds that go through. I saw that this morning with the family. They mingled, hugs and tears and love, as they gathered themselves early this morning at the -- in Arlington by the grave site.

    GWEN IFILL: How about the South?

    JERRY MITCHELL: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: I mean, you have chronicled, in fact, uncovered a lot of cold cases which otherwise would have gone -- including of Byron De La Beckwith -- that would have otherwise gone undiscovered.

    Do you find that there's more acceptance now, or is there still a lot of anger?

    JERRY MITCHELL: I think it's split.

    I think there's a certain amount of anger still out there. But I think more and more, over time, I think that people have come more to terms with, yes, we need to rectify this. This needs to happen. This needs to -- you know, these convictions need to happen. They should have happened years ago and should have been done.

    And so this is kind of a matter of cleaning up the past of what -- you know, sometimes, there are things you can do about the past. And you can take things to -- make steps to help improve that.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, you have certainly done things to change or at least illuminate the past. Did it change the direction of your career and your life in any way?

    JERRY MITCHELL: It has changed my life completely.

    I mean, I -- Fannie Lou Hamer, one time, someone asked her why she chose to get involved in the civil rights movement. And she said, well, I didn't choose it. It chose me.

    And I kind of feel that way about my job, as one case seemed to lead to the next that led to the next. And now there have been -- and I am not crediting myself with this, but there have been 24 convictions in these cold cases from the civil rights era.

    GWEN IFILL: Wow.

    You also recently discovered or republished -- published for the first time an old Eudora Welty, the great Southern writer ...

    JERRY MITCHELL: ... story.

    GWEN IFILL: Short story that she wrote about the assassination.

    JERRY MITCHELL: Yes.

    What is real fascinating is, the original version had Medgar Evers' name in it and real Jackson landmarks and things like that. And all those got removed when Byron De La Beckwith got arrested, because there were concerns about libel and those kinds of things. So, New Yorker said to her, OK, you have got to take all that stuff out.

    So she took it all out. So, we got permission from the Eudora Welty estate to actually print the -- her original short story as she intended it.

    GWEN IFILL: It was awfully angry.

    JERRY MITCHELL: And that's what she talked about.

    She felt like it was the only thing she ever wrote in anger, and she said, I know what this killer was thinking. She literally wrote it from the mind-set of the killer. And it's haunting. It's haunting. It's a haunting work.

    GWEN IFILL: This whole episode in our history is haunting, with the anger and relief in honor today at least on the 50th anniversary.

    JERRY MITCHELL: Absolutely.

    GWEN IFILL: Jerry Mitchell of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, thank you.

    JERRY MITCHELL: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. 


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    This rap about the math concept known as the Fibonacci Sequence, is by Elissa Malcolm.

    Last week, we announced the finalists for the PBS NewsHour's Gza-inspired science rap contest. The entries were terrific and ranged from rocks and space and dinosaurs to cell division and cancer research. But it's since been called to our attention that not every finalist chosen met all of the criteria in our contest guidelines.

    These comments were valid, and many equally excellent entries met the caliber of science we were looking for while following the rules: metaphor, rhyme and 16 bars of verse, among them. So to give everyone a fair shake, we've opted to expand our list of finalists, including the one above about the Fibonacci Sequence.

    We're adding five entries to the adult category and five entries to the high school category. One video explains clouds. One uses emoticons and symbols on an iPhone text message screen to illustrate a rap about gravitational force. You can see the entire list of finalists here. Winners will be chosen by Columbia University Teachers College professor Christopher Emdin and his Teacher's College team.

    Christina Bellantoni and I chatted about the contest earlier this week:

    Watch Video

    For more:

    Songs in the Key of Biology: Students Write Hip-Hop to Learn Science

    Science Rap Finalists Announced

    For more Science and Technology coverage, visit our Science homepage.

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    NSA SEALThe Morning Line

    Hours after President Barack Obama named Susan Rice to be his new national security adviser, another Washington "NSA" was thrust into the spotlight over reports it is secretly collecting phone records of millions of Americans.

    The revelations about the National Security Agency have reignited a debate over civil liberties and how much power the government should be allowed for domestic spying.

    Late Wednesday The Guardian broke the story that the government was granted "unlimited authority" to collect phone records of millions of Verizon customers, according to an order issued in April by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorized by the Patriot Act. It's set to expire in July, but it's not clear if there are broader orders that extend to other providers or for longer periods of time.

    From the story by Glenn Greenwald:

    The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

    The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk - regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

    It is similar to the 2006 revelations that the government had obtained phone records for millions of clients of the major cell phone providers as part of a massive database, all in the name of fighting terrorism.

    Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies, a civil liberties advocacy group, told the New York Times her group's concern about the order. "[A]bsent some explanation I haven't thought of, this looks like the largest assault on privacy since the N.S.A. wiretapped Americans in clear violation of the law" under the Bush administration, Martin told the paper, adding: "On what possible basis has the government refused to tell us that it believes that the law authorizes this kind of request?"

    The Washington Post's Ellen Nakashima spoke with a legal expert who put the policy into context:

    An expert in this aspect of the law said Wednesday night that the order appears to be a routine renewal of a similar order first issued by the same court in 2006. The expert, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive issues, said that the order is reissued routinely every 90 days and that it is not related to any particular investigation by the FBI or any other agency.

    The expert referred to such orders as "rubber stamps" sought by the telephone companies to protect themselves after the disclosure in 2005 that widespread warrantless wiretaps could leave them liable for damages.

    And you can expect a new term to enter in the political lexicon: "meta data." The Guardian detailed what it means, exactly, under the order:

    The order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson, compels Verizon to produce to the NSA electronic copies of "all call detail records or 'telephony metadata' created by Verizon for communications between the United States and abroad" or "wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls".

    The order directs Verizon to "continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this order". It specifies that the records to be produced include "session identifying information", such as "originating and terminating number", the duration of each call, telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, and "comprehensive communication routing information".

    The information is classed as "metadata", or transactional information, rather than communications, and so does not require individual warrants to access. The document also specifies that such "metadata" is not limited to the aforementioned items. A 2005 court ruling judged that cell site location data - the nearest cell tower a phone was connected to - was also transactional data, and so could potentially fall under the scope of the order.

    What it doesn't do, however, is collect the content of the calls.

    Administration officials Thursday told reporters the order printed by the Guardian "does not allow the government to listen in on anyone's telephone calls," and said the process, allowed under the law, is a "critical tool" to protect the country.

    Progressives were already mobilizing in anger, with at least one group circulating a petition demanding that Congress investigate.

    Many liberal members of Congress -- and even then-Senator Obama -- raised concerns about the FISA courts, and the slippery slope of government intrusion. One thing that's changed since then is a new contingent of tea party lawmakers who have made a cause out of civil liberties issues.

    Attorney General Eric Holder is on Capitol Hill Thursday to testify at a Senate hearing about the Justice Department budget, and no doubt he'll face questions about the issue. We'll be livestreaming the hearing.

    Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Obama elevated Rice to replace National Security Adviser Tom Donilon. It was a choice that pokes at Republicans critical of Rice over the issue of Benghazi -- and the position does not require a confirmation vote. The president named longtime friend and adviser Samantha Power to replace Rice, and she will face Senate confirmation.

    Donilon told the president at the event that he's seen Mr. Obama "make the most difficult decisions a Commander-in-Chief can make," including sending troops to war. He continued:

    When confronted with competing agendas and interests, you always bring the discussion back to one question: What's in the national interest, what's best for America? I've seen your abiding commitment to the core values that define us as Americans, our Constitution, civil liberties, the rule of law. Time and time again, you have reminded us that our decisions must stand up to the judgment of history.

    Politico's Glenn Thrush and Reid Epstein explored what the Rice pick means for the West Wing and what it says about the president's management style. The Washington Post's Scott Wilson wrote that the new team signals a more aggressive stance from Mr. Obama, and the New York Times' Peter Baker labeled it a "defiant" move.

    The NewsHour examined the Cabinet choices as the lead of the show Wednesday night. Judy Woodruff talked with Richard Haas and Anne-Marie Slaughter.

    Watch the segment here or below:

    Watch Video

    LINE ITEMS

    Mr. Obama on Thursday visits Mooresville Middle School in Mooresville, N.C. to showcase innovations in education. Our own John Tulenko profiled the school's use of technology five years ago for a Learning Matters story.

    Democratic Rep. Ed Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez met Wednesday night for their first debate ahead of this month's Massachusetts Senate special election. The encounter featured clashes over abortion rights, national security and gun control legislation.

    Two top IRS officials involved with the agency's implementation of the Affordable Care Act have been placed on administrative leave for allegedly accepting more than $1,100 in free food and other items during a 2010 health care conference, BuzzFeed's John Stanton reported Wednesday. He also wrote that the agency has started the process of removing the employees.

    Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli charged Wednesday that the IRS was withholding $125 million owed to the state because of his opposition to the Obama administration. Later in the day the Treasury Department said it would begin issuing payments to the state, prompting Cuccinelli's gubernatorial campaign to take credit for the decision. But Cuccinelli told reporters the state's congressional delegation had been working with the IRS to obtain the funds.

    The National Journal sees Cuccinelli's Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe running an "Obama playbook" in Virginia.

    PolitickerNJ reported Wednesday that New Jersey Democratic Rep. Rush Holt plans to run in the state's upcoming Senate special election, according to three Democrats familiar with his thinking.

    The political action committee run by former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is urging New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to look at gun control when selecting a replacement for the late Lautenberg. The group sent supporters an email declaring the governor "should pick one who supports expanding background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the deranged."

    A Gallup poll released Wednesday found that 52 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, while 20 percent of respondents said they had an unfavorable impression of the Republican. The survey also showed that Christie's name recognition nationwide has increased to 72 percent, up from 49 percent in March 2011.

    Florida Sen. Marco Rubio warned again Wednesday that the immigration reform plan currently working its way through the Senate will not pass the Republican-controlled House unless the border security provisions included in the bill are strengthened.

    The bipartisan immigration reform talks in the House are near collapse because of a stalemate over health care for immigrants, ABC News reported Wednesday. And The Hill detailed a big shakeup in the group's composition, noting that Idaho GOP Rep. Raul Labrador "informed colleagues Wednesday that he could not sign on to legislation the group hopes to release in the coming weeks."

    At a breakfast for reporters Wednesday, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., previewed a new piece of health care legislation. Politics Online Production Assistant Meena Ganesan reports that Price said he soon plans to introduce a bill that would repeal the president's landmark Affordable Care Act and replace it with a "patient-centered" alternative.

    "We propose making it financially feasible for every single American ... to purchase the coverage they want for themselves, not that the government wants for them, and you do that through the tax code," Price said.

    The measure also addresses medical malpractice reform, which Price said would provide doctors more protection in court, discourage "defensive medicine" and prevent billions of dollars in unnecessary tests and care.

    A state budget change in Wisconsin would push investigative journalists out of their workspace.

    A new automated survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling found that Democratic Rep. Gary Peters leads eight different potential GOP challengers in the 2014 Michigan Senate contest, with advantages ranging between five and 20 percentage points.

    The Senate will vote on two dueling bills to keep student loans from doubling on July 1. Both are expected to fail and with the deadline in less than a month, the vote may come down to a last-minute battle.

    Watchdog.org details the $29 billion in credit card charges from government workers.

    Paul Kane of the Washington Post examines the legacy of Rep. John Dingell, who marks a career milestone this week.

    The head of the Transportation Security Administration told the Associated Press Wednesday that the agency was scrapping a plan to allow small knives, souvenir bats and golf clubs onto planes. The reversal came after the initial announcement of the new carry-on rules drew criticism from lawmakers and the airline industry.

    CNN reported Wednesday that former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards is looking to open a new law firm in Raleigh, N.C., this September.

    The National Journal looks at how Twitter seems to turn mild-mannered David Plouffe into a terror.

    Beloved local hardware store Frager's was destroyed in a massive fire Wednesday night. Plumes of black smoke could be seen billowing over Washington, D.C. and firefighters worked into the night to contain the blaze at the 93-year-old Capitol Hill institution.

    Donald Trump plans to turn D.C.'s Old Post Office building into an hotel and spa, the Washington Business Journal reports.

    One world leader naps, another hosts a basket of pups and two sport too-short shorts. Buzzfeed presents "The Last 13 Presidents In A Different Light."

    NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

    Gwen Ifill interviewed longtime Clarion-Ledger investigative reporter about the legacy of Medgar Evers and how the civil rights movement has evolved. Watch: Watch Video

    Christina chatted with Science Reporter Producer Jenny Marder about our science rap contest as we release an expanded list of finalists. Watch here or below. Watch Video

    Ray Suarez continued our Inside Immigration series with a heated debate about the costs of a pathway to citizenship.

    For Science Wednesday, Rebecca Jacobson played with fire. Don't miss her $20 bill going up in flames.

    Judy's Notebook this week looks at a new survey of millenials.

    Here is the latest in our series of live chats with NewsHour correspondents. Jeffrey Brown answered your questions on journalism bias, where he gets his inspiration and his favorite stories.

    Avoiding economic collapse requires restricting the power of the Fed and cutting other government agencies, argues former President Reagan budget chief David Stockman in an excerpt from our interview about his recent book, "The Great Deformation."

    Offering his own prescriptions for our economic future, Nobel economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman argues debt isn't the problem; the federal government should actually be spending more money to relieve unemployment.

    TOP TWEETS

    I've marked my calendar RT @rickklein: no worries, the FISA court order will be declassified. On "12 April 2038."

    — Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) June 6, 2013

    Casket of late-Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) comes to the Capitol today. He will lie in repose in the Senate chamber this afternoon.

    — Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) June 6, 2013

    I hear Christie emissaries are currently reaching out today to potential placeholders about their interest in serving a short Senate term

    — Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) June 5, 2013

    Happy #NationalRunningDay! twitter.com/whitehouse/sta...

    — The White House (@whitehouse) June 5, 2013

    @cbellantoni @tcd004 I like the evolution of TV technology in this pic

    — Jordan N. Davis (@jordanndavis) June 5, 2013

    QB @kaepernick7 made a surprise visit to his high school last week to thank his former coach. Check out his speech: 49rs.me/lKh7L

    — San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) June 5, 2013

    Break: Al Jazeera America has named NBC's Mike Viqueira as its first-ever White House correspondent: politico.com/blogs/media/20...

    — Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) June 5, 2013

    Katelyn Polantz and 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 @tiffanymullonFollow @meenaganesanFollow @ljspbs

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    Watch Video

    President Obama called for expanding broadband access in schools nationwide Thursday, so that teachers can use technology to better educate their students. Learning Matters' John Tulenko reported in 2011 on one North Carolina school district which was ahead of the curve on using technology in the classroom. Mooresville has now become a model for other districts. Watch the original report above or read a transcript of the story.

    Updated 4:59 p.m. EDT | President Obama's long push for expanding broadband access nationally will pick up some new momentum on Thursday with a new proposal for delivering faster broadband and high-speed wireless connections to nearly every school throughout the country.

    The goal of the president's plan is to ensure that 99 percent of students are able to access much faster connections at their schools and libraries within five years, a move that would help promote learning in the digital age and keep the U.S. more competitive with other countries, senior administration officials said Wednesday during a conference call.

    White House officials, who insisted on not being named during the call, didn't put a specific price tag on the plan, but said it would likely cost several billion dollars.

    For the 2012-2013 school year, Mooresville School District distributed more than 4,000 laptops to students and staff at eight different elementary, middle and high schools. --Mooresville Graded School District 2012-2013 annual report

    To help make the case for his plan, known as ConnectED, the president is visiting a middle school in Mooresville, N.C., on Thursday. That school district has garnered major attention -- including this report in 2011 by special correspondent John Tulenko -- for going completely digital in its approach to education.

    The administration also says it believes it can fund the program without additional funding or authorization from Congress.

    The president is directing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to consider adjusting a program that already helps subsidize the cost of broadband for school districts and libraries. The E-rate program, as it's called, could use savings it already has, or possibly increase monthly telephone bills by no more than 40 cents a month to subsidize the plan, administration officials said.

    The additional fees would be temporary and could be approved by the FCC on its own.

    While more than 90 percent of schools have a broadband connection, most educators say that their school's Web connections are far too slow in the modern age of video and don't work well with educational programs developed for the Web today. The aim is to give students and teachers access to connections of one gigabit per second -- much faster than many home connections.

    Fewer than 20 percent of educators find their school's Web connection meets their teaching needs, according to a paper issued by the White House. The upgrade will help "transform teaching and learning in this country," Obama administration officials said during the call.

    The E-Rate program -- created in 1996 as part of the federal Telecommunications Act -- is designed to help schools cover technology costs and is in the mind of some, overdue for an update.

    Acting FCC chairwoman Mignon Clyburn issued a statement in response to the White House Thursday in support of the president's call for an update to the E-rate program. "Basic Internet access is no longer sufficient, and the FCC has been taking a hard look at ways to further modernize the E-Rate program to bring robust broadband to schools and libraries, especially those in low income and rural communities."

    Mooresville is not an especially affluent school district. About 40 percent of the kids receive free or reduced-price lunch. But it is considered a leader in digital-based education.

    As John Tulenko reported on the NewsHour back in 2011, the district began giving laptops to every student teacher from high school down to fourth grade. The program is even wider now, giving children in kindergarten some access to computers. The district's graduation rate has jumped above 90 percent (from 80 percent) and nearly 90 percent of students met proficiency standards for reading, math and science, according to the paper issued by the White House Wednesday.

    In the paper distributed by the White House, administration officials say the Mooresville School District is now ranked third in test scores in the state and second in graduation rates. Mooresville's success is considered even more impressive because it ranks 100th out of 115 districts in North Carolina in dollars spent per student.

    The new initiative comes as the president seeks to draw attention from critical hearings and stories of late . The Hill also reported earlier this week that Democrats are seeking to find new ways to appeal to rural voters before the 2014 election and the broadband plan fits very well into that goal. .

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    By Diane Lincoln Estes

    Watch Video

    David Stockman, budget director under President Reagan, spoke to Paul Solman on The PBS NewsHour Tuesday.

    As regular readers already know, we recently aired an interview with David Stockman, the former budget director under President Reagan and private equity player, about his book, "The Great Deformation." You can find the transcript here. For a response we turned to Paul Krugman, New York Times columnist and Nobel-winning economist at Princeton University. That interview is slated to air on the PBS NewsHour tonight but you can watch it here right now. Here on the Making Sen$e Business Desk, Stockman and Krugman have offered dueling plans for solving today's economic problems. Stockman argued that we have to "get the free market back into finance."Krugman called for "more spending right now." Today, we bring you their quite different takes on pre-Fed America, starting with Stockman's:

    Paul Solman: Paul Krugman called you a "cranky old man." You're not a lot older than me, if at all. Neil Irwin in the Washington Post called yours a "a spittle-filled diatribe," and the essence I think of both of their critiques was that you are putting all of your faith in a free market that surely has its own excesses, its own degradations, its own horror shows, no?

    David Stockman: No. I think if you look at all the great cycles we've had since World War II, they were all caused by the Fed, or they were caused by the warfare state, and so therefore the idea that the market is a monstrous unstable dystopia is an illusion created by Keynesians.

    The people who attack me, the two names that you mentioned, are unreconstructed Keynesians. And I'll tell you what, my book is a polemic against decades of Keynesian policy. I struck a raw nerve because I said, "You guys are pedaling nothing more than debt, and debt, and more debt, and more money printing, and it's not sound economics and it's going to fail." And, they didn't like that.

    MORE FROM DAVID STOCKMAN: Fed, Big Banks, Social Security Beware: You're on David Stockman's Hit ListDavid Stockman: We're Blind to the Debt Bubble

    Paul Solman: But there were depressions, crashes in 1837, 1857, 1873 -- they called that one the Great Depression at the time --1893, 1907 -- we created the Fed in response to that. So, there have been huge contractions.

    David Stockman: But, we got over them very quickly. The whole dystopian idea that the 19th century was one crash after another is just mythology.

    Paul Solman: Was it also mythology that there was an incredible difference between the people at the top and the people at the bottom?

    David Stockman: We had the greatest growth in GDP [in the] 40 years from 1870 to 1912: 3.7 percent compounded [over] 43 years, nothing like it ever since; nothing like it before.

    There were some crashes on Wall Street because of the old National Banking Act. That was the main cause of it. Those crashes did not spill over into Main Street. Of the five big panics, three of them had no effect on GDP at least to the extent that they can measure it retroactively.

    So, we had the greatest growth in standard of living in human history during that period. Twenty-five million people migrated to America during that 40 year period when we started with only 45 million citizens. Why did they come here? Because it was a dystopia? Because there was a crash every two or three years? Because there were constant depressions? Bologna! They came here because this was the greatest economic opportunity that had ever existed prior to then in human history.

    Paul Solman: So rough and tumble sure, winners and losers sure, but net/net this is just better than what we've got now?

    David Stockman: I would say with one addition the 19th century would be in good shape. We had sound money. We had fiscal discipline. We had free markets. We didn't have a safety net for people that [needed] help from their fellow citizens and that's what we added in the New Deal. He didn't say it was a safety net but essentially that's what was added.

    Paul Solman: "He" meaning Franklin Roosevelt?

    David Stockman: Roosevelt and all the rest of them. It needed to be perfected. Milton Friedman said, "Take all these different benefit programs, put them into a negative income tax and thereby provide cash benefits to people that need support." Add that to free markets, fiscal rectitude, and honest money -- not this Fed money printing machine; honest money and you will have a viable democracy and you will have a more prosperous Main Street.

    Paul Solman: But you don't think that's likely to happen any time soon?

    David Stockman: Not a chance. Not a chance of it happening.

    Paul Krugman weighed in on this too. We'll post his analysis shortly.

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


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    Photo of President Xi Jinping by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    Chinese President Xi Jinping, who just took office in March, and President Barack Obama meet in California on Friday and Saturday to discuss in a casual setting some issues the White House deems critical, including China's alleged cyber spying on U.S. businesses.

    "One of the issues that threatens to damage U.S.-China relations, as well as potentially damage the international economy and China's reputation, is the use of cyber technology, particularly as a means of obtaining intellectual property from American companies and institutions," said a senior administration official in a background briefing for reporters.

    China-red-3.png Sources: Bloomberg, The Economist, Huffington Post, Reuters, PBS NewsHour. Graphic by Elizabeth Shell.

    The official said the White House was looking for recognition on China's part of the urgency and the scope of the problem, and to do something about it. "Every government has a responsibility to seriously investigate what may be happening within its own borders, including its virtual cyber borders, and make best efforts to put a stop to activities."

    President Obama also is hoping to enlist China's support -- and Russia's -- on a political transition in Syria, and to engage the new leader in cooperative efforts to denuclearize North Korea and provide security in the disputed islands of the Asia-Pacific.

    An area of agreement between the two countries is in economic development. Xi, who already has met with some U.S. governors about encouraging foreign investment, "seems to be someone who is fast on his feet, who is open to engagement, who is willing to speak directly to Americans and to issues of concern to Americans in a manner that was not the hallmark of some of his predecessors," the administration official said.

    After the two leaders meet at the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, Calif., the next key summit for the two countries is the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, D.C., on July 8-12.

    Related Resources

    Kenneth Lieberthal of the Brookings Institution and author Gordon Chang discussed the issues of trade, defense and cybersecurity for China and the United States in this March 14 PBS NewsHour interview: Watch Video

    China Looks to U.S. as New Source for Meat

    Is China Pivoting Toward the Middle East? Author Vali Nasr Says Yes

    National Pride Is at Heart of China and Japan Dispute Over Islands

    Faces of China's New Government

    View all of our World coverage.

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    Watch Video

    In a web exclusive interview, author Rick Atkinson talks with PBS NewsHour senior correspondent Ray Suarez about what went into writing his latest book, "The Guns at Last Light". Watch more of their interview on Thursday's broadcast.

    Knowing what we know now, says author Rick Atkinson, it might be easy to judge the actions taken during World War II, such as the deplorable treatment of black soldiers and the firebombing of inhabited cities.

    But we shouldn't let judgments block our understanding of what happened, said Atkinson. His new book is "The Guns at Last Light", the final installment in the Liberation Trilogy, which also includes "An Army at Dawn" and "The Day of Battle".

    Around the time of World War II, the treatment of blacks in the U.S. military and on the home front was "morally indefensible," said Atkinson. "I can't begin as a historian to defend it, but I can try to understand it."

    As infantry units were depleting, the military allowed black soldiers to become privates and serve as riflemen in otherwise white units. It was an experiment of integration that worked well, he said, but after the war, the units dissolved and segregation returned.

    Similarly, firebombing cities such as Dresden, Germany, was viewed as controversial even at the time, Atkinson continued, but many believed that in order to get the Germans to surrender, their cities had to be obliterated.

    "I think when you walk a mile in their shoes it's easier to understand, even as we can -- 70 years after the fact -- I think all agree that this is a pretty horrible way to make war."

    More Author Talks:

    "The Dispensable Nation" by Vali Nasr

    "Foreign Policy Begins at Home" by Richard Haass

    "Insane City" by Dave Barry

    View all of our World coverage.

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