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

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    GWEN IFILL: Today's long-threatened Senate shakeup will force drastic change on how the chamber does its business and break a growing logjam over the confirmation of the president's judicial nominees.

    WOMAN: Senator voting in the affirmative.

    GWEN IFILL: Today's 52-48 vote overturned decades of Senate precedent. It was opposed by all Republican senators and three Democrats. The presiding senator, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, made it official.

    SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, D-Vt.: So, under the precedent set by the Senate today, November 21, 2013, the threshold for cloture on nominations, not including those to the Supreme Court of the United States, is now a majority.

    GWEN IFILL: Since 1975, it's taken 60 votes to overcome filibusters against presidential nominees, but, today, Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the so-called nuclear option, allowing confirmation with a simple majority.

    Republicans, he said, have abused the process.

    SEN. HARRY REID, D-Nev.: The American people are fed up with this kind of obstruction and gridlock. In the history of our country, some 230-plus years, there have been 168 filibusters of executive and judicial nominations. Half of them have occurred during the Obama administration.

    GWEN IFILL: Republicans disputed the numbers.

    Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted the Senate has confirmed 215 of President Obama's nominees and rejected only two.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky.: This was nothing more than a power grab in order to try to advance the Obama administration's regulatory agenda, and they just broke the Senate rules in order to exercise the power grab.

    So, I would sum it up by saying it's a sad day in the history of the Senate. After today, advise and consent probably means to them 100 percent consent.

    GWEN IFILL: Democrats have threatened to change the rules before, but matters finally came to a head this week when Republicans blocked three nominees to the powerful U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia.

    They include Patricia Ann Millett, an appellate lawyer in Washington, Georgetown University law professor Cornelia Pillard, and federal district court Judge Robert Wilkins.

    At the White House, President Obama applauded the vote. He said both parties have misused filibusters over the years, but that Republicans have been especially reckless and relentless.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: But today's pattern of obstruction, it just isn't normal. It's not what our founders envisioned. A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the results of the election is not normal, and for the sake of future generations, we can't let it become normal.

    GWEN IFILL: The new simple majority rule applies to nominees for federal judgeships and federal offices. It will still take 60 votes to defeat filibusters of Supreme Court nominees and legislation.

    The rules change inflamed debate today on Capitol Hill.

    I spoke a short time ago to two lawmakers in the middle of it, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

    Senators, welcome.

    Explain to me how this all came to a head today. This is a discussion we have had for a long time, this discussion about filibuster reform, starting with you, Senator Merkley.

    SEN. JEFF MERKLEY, D-Ore.: You bet.

    This is all about to restore the constitutional framework of the balance between the benches of government. The Senate is supposed to service advice an consent on nominations, but it's not supposed to be able to systematically undermine the executive branch and the judicial branch.

    And what brought this to a head today was a decision by the minority that they were going to block any nominee, no matter their qualifications, no matter their high character, if the president -- if they were nominated by President Obama. And that type of approach is just completely unacceptable.

    GWEN IFILL: Senator Johnson, on the losing side of this today, is this the way you saw it, that this was about Senator Obama -- I mean, President Obama's nominees?

    SEN. RON JOHNSON, R-Wis.: No, Gwen, this is a very sad day for the Senate.

    Basically, Senator Harry Reid and his colleagues on the Democrat side have basically broken the rules of the Senate to change the rules, and this wasn't about President Obama not getting his nominations. The vast majority, well in excess of 95 percent to 98 percent of his nominations, have been approved in a pretty expeditious basis.

    This is just a blatant power grab, I guess to probably change the subject off the disaster is that is the implementation of the health care law, but also to pack the D.C. Circuit Court, which is going to be the regulating court of all of the -- or basically the deciding court on all these regulations for Obamacare and all the regulations that President Obama is going to be implementing through his regulatory agencies because he can't pass them as laws.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let me ask you and then Senator Merkley as well, the basic questions for many people watching this who don't know from nuclear options, they want to know what was the virtue in having a 60-vote threshold in the first place, and what is the disadvantage of getting rid of it, starting with you, Senator Johnson?

    RON JOHNSON: Well, first of all, the advantage is, as Senator Merkley said, advise and consent.

    What consent is there if you have to agree to every nominee of this president? Since 2009, we have approved more than 200 of President Obama's judicial appointments and we have only blocked two. So that's an incredibly high rate of approval. So at some point in time, the minority does have to have some rights if the advise and consent clause has any meaning whatsoever.

    GWEN IFILL: Senator Merkley, you want to weigh on that?

    JEFF MERKLEY: You bet.

    The tradition has been up-and-down votes with rare exception. But what we have had instead is, in the history of the United States of America, there have been 23 filibusters of district court nominees; 20 of those have been by the Republican minority during President Obama's presidency, 20 out of 23 in our entire history.

    And we can take those same statistics and go to area after area. This perpetual war on President Obama has to come to an end. It's not serving the American people. The American people want us solving problems on the floor of the Senate, addressing the issue of living-wage jobs, addressing the issue of low employment, addressing the issue of the high expense of college.

    What they don't want is our time wasted throughout the entire year on perpetual filibusters of nominees.

    GWEN IFILL: Senator Merkley, your -- the president whose name you keep invoking, when he was a senator in 2005, said there should be -- that the rules are the rules and you shouldn't be changing them in midstream. What's different now?

    JEFF MERKLEY: Well, let's take 2005. In 2005, a deal was reached by a group of seven Republicans and seven Democrats.

    The deal was that there would be no change in the rules if the Democrats agreed to only filibuster for rare exceptional circumstances, those being terrible problems with character or experience. This deal was completely honored by the Democrats. In fact, they didn't filibuster a single judge thereafter under the Bush administration.

    But, immediately upon the Republicans becoming the minority party, they broke the deal, and the statistics I have given you just reflected that. And they didn't break it just on judicial nominees. They did it on executive nominees as well.

    Now, Harry Reid and the leadership have repeatedly tried to restore the social contract, restore the understanding of filibuster only on rare exception. But that hasn't been possible.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let me ask Senator Johnson the flip side of this, which is that Senator McConnell, now the minority leader, also in 2005, argued that there should be up-or-down votes on nominees. That's when there was a Republican president. What's different now?

    RON JOHNSON: Well, again, I just got here in 2010.

    Under the rule of Senator Harry Reid -- and the fact of the matter, the reason -- the reason the Senate is so dysfunctional is because of his leadership or lack of leadership. We haven't passed an appropriation bill in the Senate in over two years. That's a dysfunction.

    And all this talk about filibuster, it's not real filibusters, because Senator Harry Reid fills up the amendment tree, doesn't allow Republicans to offer any amendments. He files cloture and then, all of a sudden, he accuses us of doing the filibustering.

    I realize this is arcane Senate rules. The dysfunction is all about Senator Harry Reid's utter lack of leadership and just totally not able to actually have the Senate function and respect minority rights whatsoever. This is a raw power grab. And we saw what happened last time the Democrats had total power in the Senate. We passed Obamacare. America is experiencing the disaster of that law right now.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, let me ask you both this question. And I guess it's what I was getting to in the last one as well.

    Does whether you think this is a good idea, these rules changes are a good idea depend on whose ox is being gored, that is, who is in the minority, that if you're in the minority, you want up-or-down votes, and if you're in the majority, you want to have the -- or the other way around -- if you're in the majority, you want up-or-down votes, and if you're the minority, you want to have that 60-vote threshold that you can deny the other person.

    Is that what this comes down to, Senator Merkley?

    JEFF MERKLEY: Well, Gwen, let's recognize what has happened in America, which is much more polarization.

    So in the past, when there was an understanding of the rare use of the filibuster, it worked, because senators worked together across the party boundary. But now what we have is a situation for many senators that their base demands that they exploit every rule in order to obstruct any bill from the Democratic side or any nominee from the Democratic president.

    That change has resulted in many senators who said in 2005 that they would always support up-and-down votes whether they were in the minority or the majority. But when they were in the minority, they changed their position, because their base demanded it. It's unfortunate. It reflects a bigger problem in society, but, within that structure, it is our responsibility to make the Senate serve the American people and enable it to take on those big challenging issues facing America, improving the base for the American family, success of the middle class.

    GWEN IFILL: Senator -- Senator Johnson, what about that whose-ox-is-being-gored question?

    RON JOHNSON: Well, first of all, Gwen, we already have one chamber in Congress that's ruled by the majority. And that's the House.

    The Senate was supposed to be more deliberative. It was supposed to protect the minority rights. And Senator Robert Byrd has got to be rolling over on his grave, based on what his colleagues, his Democratic colleagues have done today.

    This is a very sad day. And, you know, the fact of the matter is, the way the rules in the Senate should be changed is an incredibly bipartisan way before the start of every Congress by a two-thirds vote. That's how you get bipartisanship. That's how you start healing this divide that really, really began with the totally partisan vote around Obamacare.

    That split our parties. That split this nation. And it hasn't been healed yet. And I'll tell you, today's action certainly isn't helping heal that division. It's widening it. It's a very sad day for the United States Senate and for America.

    GWEN IFILL: That's what I was going ask you both, as a final question.

    Do you feel like the Senate is more divided today than it was before, Senator Merkley?

    JEFF MERKLEY: You know, the vision of the Senate was it, it would be a cooling saucer. That's the way George Washington described it. That's why we have staggered terms. That's we have six years.

    But no one intended for the Senate to be a deep freeze. But that's what it's come with the abuse of the filibuster. What I hope is that both sides will see the success of improving the function of the Senate that will flow from today's action and will join together in a bipartisan way to take on the dysfunction on the legislative side which is so much hoped for by the American people.

    GWEN IFILL: Final word, Senator Johnson?

    RON JOHNSON: Gwen, the Senate is in deep freeze because Senator Harry Reid doesn't move bills, doesn't bring appropriation bills.

    It's the primary function of Congress to authorize and then appropriate funds for federal government activity. Senator Harry Reid is not doing any of those things, basically digging in his heels, making sure that Obamacare becomes the permanent law of the land. And, again, we're understanding the exact -- the harmful consequences of majority rule in the Senate, and Obamacare is exhibit A from that standpoint.

    GWEN IFILL: It sounds like a cooling saucer might be in order at this point.

    Senator Ron Johnson, Republican, Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat, thank you both for joining us.

    RON JOHNSON: Have a great day.

    JEFF MERKLEY: Thank you, Gwen. Take care now.

     


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    In 1979, the House's Select Committee on Assassinations reported the assassination of John F. Kennedy was likely the result of a conspiracy. But after decades of news coverage and investigations, NewsHour co-founders Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer agree that there was insufficient evidence to conclude any theory of conspiracy.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tensions escalated today between the United States and Afghanistan, one day after both sides announced they had reached an historic agreement, paving the way for the U.S. to leave forces in that country beyond 2014.

    PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI, Afghanistan (through interpreter): My trust with America is not good.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Afghan President HAMID KARZAI opened a meeting of tribal elders in Kabul with a blunt assessment of his often testy relations with the U.S. Still, he urged the loya jirga to endorse a new security agreement, allowing thousands of American troops to stay another 10 years in training and support roles.

    HAMID KARZAI (through interpreter): The security agreement will give us the opportunity to move from a transitional process to a stable process. As we are in a pullout process, this withdrawing of foreign troops from Afghanistan should be a happy process. If the foreigners leave Afghanistan unhappy, it will be very dangerous for us. I hope you get my point.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Then, toward the end of his hour-long speech, Karzai threw a new curveball; he called for delaying the actual signing of the agreement until after next April's presidential election. The U.S. had wanted a deal signed last month.

    In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. is seeking clarification.

    JEN PSAKI, State Department: We have been very clear, as the secretary was when he was in Kabul just last month, that the -- in order to create certainty, in order for the United States, in order for our NATO allies to plan, we must do this as quickly as possible. Otherwise, it puts the planning and the post-2014 presence at risk.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The proposed agreement has several key provisions, among them, granting U.S. troops immunity from prosecutions in Afghan courts and barring Americans from raiding Afghan homes, except under extraordinary circumstances.

    In addition, President Obama sent a last-minute letter to Karzai, promising the U.S. will respect Afghan sovereignty and the dignity of citizens in their homes and private lives.

    In response, Karzai today underscored his country's expectations.

    HAMID KARZAI (through interpreter): If Americans would like to sign the bilateral security agreement, in return, we ask them to provide us with stability and peace. I am sure peace is in their hands.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Foreign combat forces are already under a deadline to depart Afghanistan by the end of next year. Without a security agreement, all U.S. troops will leave, just as happened in Iraq, when Baghdad failed to sign a similar agreement in 2011.

    That would leave nearly 350,000 Afghan security forces without further U.S. military training and funding. The loya jirga will debate through Sunday. Its decisions are not legally binding, but, either way, the Afghan Parliament would still have to ratify the agreement.

    To help us understand this back-and-forth and the need for a deal is James Dobbins. He is the Obama administration's special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Ambassador Dobbins, welcome to the NewsHour.

    JAMES DOBBINS, U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan: Thank you.

     

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So what is the timetable for this deal? President Karzai is saying it wouldn't be signed until April. The administration wanted it done last month. Which is it?

    JAMES DOBBINS: Well, the two sides agreed last November that we would do this within a year. And we continue to believe it's important to achieve that timetable.

    And we're pleased that we were able to reach agreement within that time frame on the text, and we're hopeful that the loya jirga will give a positive signal. We're pretty confident that the Afghan Parliament, which will also review this, will be positive. And we do expect that -- it to be signed expeditiously thereafter.

    We think that's important, both because we have our own need to plan for our future commitment -- or lack of commitment, if it's -- if the agreement is never concluded. All of the other participants in ISAF -- there's some 40 of them -- they need to plan. And their plans are dependent on our plans.

    And, finally, Afghanistan is going to a very difficult, delicate election at a time of considerable uncertainty. And we need to provide the maximum degree of certainty in the background about the international presence, about the American commitment.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just to clarify, delaying the signing until April doesn't jeopardize this?

    JAMES DOBBINS: I think delaying the signing to April will make it much more difficult for us to make our commitments. It will make it more difficult and make it virtually impossible for other countries to make their commitments. I think it will have a long-term deleterious impact on the scale of international assistance to Afghanistan.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So you're trying to get them to change his mind?

    JAMES DOBBINS: And, besides that, it's a two-round election, and it's not necessarily over in April. It could extend several months beyond that, because, if the first round doesn't produce a clear winner, there will be a second round.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So it sounds like you're trying to get him to change his mind and make it -- make it sooner.

    JAMES DOBBINS: Absolutely.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, the reports are, Ambassador Dobbins, 8,000 to 12,000 mostly U.S. troops staying in Afghanistan another decade, until 2024, in a training and counterterrorism mission.

    Is that what the U.S. wants?

    JAMES DOBBINS: The U.S. hasn't made any -- the president hasn't made any decision on the numbers of the American troops. We do intend that we would probably the largest contributor in an allied force.

    The force would be in a non-combat role, train, assist, and advise. There would also be a small American counterterrorism force that would be stationed under this agreement. But the bulk of the troops would be in the train-advise-assist, and it would be a NATO force, with the United States as the largest single contributor, but with a significant number of other countries contributing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But you're talking in the thousands of U.S. troops?

    JAMES DOBBINS: Potentially.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And you said not in a combat role, but in counterterrorism, so they'd be armed. They'd potentially be putting their lives at risk.

    JAMES DOBBINS: I think the counterterrorism element would be relatively small compared to the train, advise, and assist.

    Afghanistan remains a dangerous environment, and, yes, our forces would be assuming some degree of risk. But U.S. casualties are way down already, because Afghans are in the lead. And at the point we're talking about, the Afghans will be comprehensively undertaking the defense of the country.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What is the argument to the American people that they should support an agreement that keeps any number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan for several more years, up to 10 more years?

    JAMES DOBBINS: Well, we continue to want to deny Afghanistan as a launch point for international terrorism.

    The Taliban continue to be linked with al-Qaida. If the Taliban were able to come back, seize control of some or most or even all of the country, you would again have a regime linked to al-Qaida and prepared to facilitate those kinds of attacks. And we now believe that we can do it with much -- a smaller commitment, because we have raised and trained and helped support an Afghan army and -- and police force of about 350,000.

    But we don't believe that we can afford to abandon Afghanistan altogether.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The agreement -- the agreement also has language in it, though, that puts limits on what U.S. troops can do in terms of not going, for example, into private homes unless there's an urgent reason to do so. How much of a disadvantage is that?

    JAMES DOBBINS: The agreement actually pretty much describes what we're already doing. Afghan troops are in the lead. We don't go into Afghan homes.

    We sometimes accompany Afghan troops that go into Afghan homes if they have reason to search the home. So the things that we're precluded from doing in the agreement are by and large things we have already ceased doing, and, after all, we want these roles to be assumed by the Afghans. We don't want to continue to have to do them ourselves.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I ask because that specific language is in the agreement. The Afghans were -- felt very strongly that it should be in.

    JAMES DOBBINS: Right. Right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, Ambassador Dobbins, the idea -- among other things, what President Karzai said today was, he said, "My trust with America is not good."

    Again, for Americans to see their troops committed to a country where the relationship between the leaders -- or at least on the part of President Karzai toward the United States, is shaky at best, how do you -- how do you explain that to the American people?

    JAMES DOBBINS: Well, President Karzai is not going to be president of the country more than another four months, approximately four to six months, depending on whether the election goes into a second round.

    Afghanistan is a democracy. It's holding elections. I think we will judge Afghanistan's attitude toward our forces and toward our commitment by what the loya jirga, which is currently meeting, decides, and perhaps equally importantly, what the parliament ultimately decides when this agreement is submitted to them. At this point, we anticipate strong support this both forums.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You do expect strong support?

    JAMES DOBBINS: Yes.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And a new leader with a better attitude toward the United States?

    JAMES DOBBINS: Well, there's -- at this point, there are 11 candidates.

    The entire political class of the country is engaged as candidates or supporting candidates. I think most -- several of the candidates have already said that they would sign this agreement if President Karzai didn't. We don't want to postpone a signature to that point.

    So I don't want to characterize, you know, the individual candidates. We're not backing any one of them. But I don't think there's any of them we couldn't live with.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Ambassador James Dobbins, who is the administration's special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, thank you.

    JAMES DOBBINS: My pleasure.

     


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    GWEN IFILL: Hopes to reach an interim deal over Iran's nuclear program were tempered by tough words and few positive ones in Geneva today.

    Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner is covering the talks for us.

    I spoke with her a short time ago.

    Margaret, good to see you.

    Everybody around the table in Geneva seems to be talking about some version of trust. What happened today?

    MARGARET WARNER: What happened today, Gwen, is, one, we have got a news blackout. Two, I would say two new dynamics emerged.

    The two sides are now definitely talking about the substance. That is, they have a text in front of them, a draft, and they're trying to iron out the differences. But the new dynamic is, the only substantive talks taking place are between the Iranian foreign minister, Zarif, and the E.U./U.N. co-chairman of these talks, Catherine Ashton.

    And I was told by the Iranians that that was at Iran's insistence. They don't want a situation where they agree to something, they think they have agreed to something, and then some other foreign minister flies in, like the way the French did last time, and raises objections.

    And a European source confirmed to me tonight that that was the case. That was Iran's insistence.

    GWEN IFILL: So it's fair to say that Secretary Kerry is not there. Do we know if he's coming?

    MARGARET WARNER: No. And early in the day, there was a lot of buzz about -- and you certainly saw a lot of security guys around appearing to prepare for all kinds of foreign ministers to fly in.

    But, tonight, when -- the sense very much is this could go into the weekend. The talks have already ended. They ended around 9:00 between Ashton and Zarif. Ashton now has to go back and consult with these -- her six countries, including the U.S.

    GWEN IFILL: Now, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in Washington that he is going to put off any further Senate action on whether sanctions should be increased against Iran until after the holiday, after Thanksgiving.

    Was that the kind of deal, the delay that Kerry was looking?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, it was going into these talks, but it still wasn't a reassuring signal. And here's why.

    What Harry Reid, who has successfully bottled up any attempt to pass new sanctions through parliamentary maneuvers, was saying today is, come December 9, when we're back, all bets are off, and, in fact, I'm going to help move -- we're going to move a bill, a bipartisan -- a new sanctions bill through the Senate.

    The House has already passed one. The Iranians have said if that happens as far as they have concerned -- during negotiations, if that happens, then negotiations are really -- they haven't said over, but pretty impossible, because Rouhani, the president, the new president, is going to be under such pressure from the supreme leader and hard-liners at home.

    And so this -- you know, you can say, well, it buys them two weeks, but it adds a sense of urgency to these talks. An Iranian told me tonight that Zarif, too, is under pressure at home. And he pointed to this TV monitor that showed Zarif and Ashton walking in and sitting down in a meeting. And he said, just look at his body language. And it's true. I have seen Zarif in person several times.

    And he definitely is not as warm and as expansive just in his attitudes here as he was before. He's under a lot of pressure to produce. And this Iranian, who is very much, very much involved with the delegation, said, if this -- if they don't get a deal this time, it's not even clear that Zarif will be allowed to return.

    And, of course, as we discussed last night, or Judy and I did, Secretary Kerry and President Obama are under a lot of pressure in the U.S. also.

    GWEN IFILL: So, is there any way of knowing, on a day like today, when so much happened behind closed doors, whether we're closer or farther away?

    MARGARET WARNER: Well, I would say we're closer than yesterday, when they didn't even talk about substance.

    What's clear now is the "process" they were talking about -- quote, unquote -- had to do with this insistence by the Iranians they were only going to deal with one person. So they're probably closer.They're still talking, and they're talking on substance. But there are several outstanding issues, as we know, this so-called -- Iranians' insistence on the right to enrich.

    There is some indication from both the U.S. and Iranians they have figured out a way to finesse it, which is, the U.S. will have one understanding and the Iranians will have another, and the Iranians have said -- Zarif said, well, we don't really need the world to recognize our right to enrich, which is a softening of their position.

    But there are a lot of others, some of the ones that the French were very hard-line on. And the real issue is, now that the Iranians have come back with their counterproposals on certain parts of the consensus text, can the six foreign ministers, the U.S. through the French, stick together? And the French foreign minister had some tough words today when asked if there was a deal possible.

    He said, well, it's all a question of firmness, and right now the Iranians can't accept what the six -- what the six want.

    Well, the six are going to have to make some further decisions here, and that's really the outstanding question.

    GWEN IFILL: Well, at least the conversations are still continuing.

    We are glad you are there watching them, Margaret Warner, for us in Geneva.

    MARGARET WARNER: Thanks, Gwen.

     


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, shocked this nation to the core and rattled the world.

    Our own Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer were both on the ground in Dallas, covering the president's visit that day. And although they wouldn't formally meet for years, these two journalists crossed paths multiple times.

    I talked with them recently about the day and its aftermath.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: It was one of those days that a reporter finds himself musing about when he's half-asleep sometimes on a plane. Your mind drifts as you prepare for the big story: What is likely to happen at this moment and that?

    Sometimes, your mind drifts to the most extreme thing that could happen, and you hastily dismiss it because the most extreme thing never does happen.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The day started out drizzly and cool. For Robin MacNeil, it was a milestone: his first presidential trip as an NBC White House correspondent.

    He was assigned to cover President John Kennedy's speech in Dallas that afternoon, an anticipated rebuttal to the president's conservative critics. City officials had beefed up security ahead of the visit. The previous month in Dallas, United Nations Ambassador Adlai Stevenson was met by angry right-wing protesters, who spat on him and struck him with signs.

    And thousands of anti-Kennedy flyers accusing the president of treason had been distributed downtown in the days before his arrival. Despite that backdrop, supporters turned out in droves outside the president's hotel in Fort Worth that morning, where he was to give a speech before heading to Dallas.

    It was a breakfast event for the Chamber of Commerce, and first lady Jackie Kennedy stole the show, receiving a standing ovation upon her arrival.

    FORMER PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY: A few years ago, I said that -- I introduced myself in Paris by saying that I was the man who had accompanied Mrs. Kennedy to Paris. I'm getting that -- somewhat that same sensation as I travel around Texas.

    (LAUGHTER)

    ROBERT MACNEIL: When we got on to the press plane, and the press plane flew to Dallas in seven minutes. At that time, the tradition on the press plane was, stewardesses, as we called them in those days, immediately left the gate, came down with a tray of Bloody Marys. And I had a Bloody Mary.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On a seven-minute...

    JIM LEHRER: A seven-minute...

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes. And I was still -- I was still tipping up the glass and the ice and the little lemon peel thing in it was bumping against my nose as we landed in Dallas. That's how short it was.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Among the crowd waiting at Love Field was Jim Lehrer, then a reporter for The Dallas Times Herald.

    JIM LEHRER: I was checking the telephone line back to the city desk downtown. And the rewrite man says, well, look, are they going to have the bubble top on the presidential limousine? Because I had done a lot of the advance stories in the newspaper about the Kennedy visit.

    And the idea was, if the weather was bad, there would be a bubble top to protect the Kennedys from the rain. And it had rained that morning in Dallas. So, I put the phone down. I go down to the ramp. And there were six cars, six or seven cars, all the cars, the official cars in the motorcade. And the presidential limo was one of them, and the bubble top was up.

    And the bubble top was a one-quarter-inch-thick Plexiglas, and it was designed strictly -- it wasn't bulletproof or any of that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Not bulletproof.

    JIM LEHRER: No. A lot of people thought it was, but it wasn't.

    JIM LEHRER: At any rate, the Secret Service agent who was standing at the top of the ramp I happened to know. And I said to him, Mr. Soros, I see the bubble top is up. Rewrite wants to know if it's going to be up during the thing.

    And he looks up at the sky. I will never forget this. He looks up at the sky, and it's clear. And he says, well. And he yells down at an agent with a two-way radio -- who has got a two-way radio. And he says, check it downtown? What's it like down town? The guy goes, blah, blah, blah, blah.

    And then he says, clear downtown. And the agent that I'm talking to then yells to the other agents who are in charge of the motorcade, lose the bubble top.

    So they take the bubble top down.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Air Force One descended that morning with more than 2,500 people watching.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: The Kennedys got out, and were a resplendent sight. And she glowed.

    When she got off Air Force One at Love field with that -- with the bright, brilliant sun that day shining on her gleaming black hair and the pink outfit she was wearing, the whole atmosphere was one of something glowing with extra light. Then they put a big armload of blood-red roses in her arms against the pink suit, and it was -- the images and the color hurt the eyes.

    And there were some students there holding the Confederate Flag and the Texas flag.

    JIM LEHRER: There were also very positive signs. That people in the crowd were for the most part -- because I -- it's amazing that you didn't -- what did you look like then? I don't remember seeing you.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: I looked about 50 years younger.  

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The presidential motorcade started its journey toward downtown Dallas, the press buses not far behind. More than 150,000 people lined the 10-mile-long route.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: It looked like a flooded river, and you wondered how the cars, how the motorcade could go through.

    But the atmosphere was really extraordinary. I mean, it was -- the radiance on the faces of the people, the absolute delight in seeing the Kennedys was so apparent.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Then, tragedy. At 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time, shortly after the presidential limousine turned onto Elm Street to make its way through Dealey Plaza, President Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally were struck.

    You heard a shot?

    ROBERT MACNEIL: There was a -- there was a bang. And we all said, what was that? Was that a shot? Was that a backfire? And then there were two shots much closer together, bang, bang, very close.

    And I said, those are shots. And I got up and said, stop the bus. And I got out of the bus. And the air was filled with the most incredible screaming. It just -- it was like -- it was like choirs all singing out of tune, and just the most amazing sound.

    And, anyway, I looked, and there were people running up a grassy slope, the grassy knoll, as it came to be known, including some policemen. And there were people lying on the grass covering their children with their bodies. And I thought, they have seen some gunman, they're chasing him, so I ran up the grassy knoll behind them. And I thought, oh, my God, I better call NBC, shots fired, you know?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The first building he saw was the Texas Book Depository, where a young man in shirtsleeves directed MacNeil to a telephone inside.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: It wasn't known if the shots were aimed at the president. Repeat: It is not known if the shots were aimed at the president.

    This is Robert MacNeil, NBC News, in Dallas, Texas.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: After recording a short NBC radio spot, MacNeil had to figure out a way to get to the hospital.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: I stopped a car that came along. It was a young man delivering cake boxes or something. I said, the president's been shot. I will give you five bucks if you drive me to Parkland Hospital. Five bucks was five bucks then.

    I kept punching him on the shoulder, saying, never mind the red lights, never mind the police.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Outside Parkland Hospital, a stunned crowd had begun to gather and was absorbing the news.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: There was a visiting room there, and there were two coin-operated phones on the wall. And I grabbed one of them, and I had it for the rest of the afternoon. And various interns and doctors and people would hold it for me as I went off to find other stuff.

    FRANK MCGEE, NBC anchor: We are expecting momentarily a telephone call -- that's why I'm seated near this telephone here -- from NBC's Robert MacNeil.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: With NBC anchors Frank McGee and Chet Huntley on the other end of the line, MacNeil spoke in phrases which were repeated by McGee and patched live into living rooms around the nation.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: And last rites of the church have just been administered.

    FRANK MCGEE: And last rites of the church have just been administered.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: That's all for the moment, Frank.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Thirty minutes after the planned start of the president's speech at the Dallas Trade Mart, acting White House Press Secretary Mac Kilduff made the announcement from a makeshift briefing room in a nurses' classroom.

    MAC KILDUFF, acting White House Press Secretary: He died of gunshot wounds in the brain.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Hours later, back at Love Field, Secret Service agents loaded President Kennedy's casket on to Air Force One.

    Shortly afterward, Vice President Lyndon Johnson took the oath of office aboard the plane, with Mrs. Kennedy at his side.

    Meanwhile, Lee Harvey Oswald has been apprehended at the Texas theater in Southwest Dallas after police discovered empty rifle shells by the sixth-floor window of the book depository where he worked.

    It wasn't until years later in the book "The Death of a President" that historian William Manchester would identify that young man in shirtsleeves, the one who told MacNeil was to find a phone, as Oswald himself.

    Unknown to Manchester, in a report not published by the Warren Commission, the Secret Service concluded that Oswald had actually talked to Pierce Allman, a Dallas radio reporter. But it has always been a what-if moment for MacNeil.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: When they talked about a connection with the book depository and a man being arrested after a policeman had been shot and that he worked in the book depository, I thought, oh, my God, that's where I went, and I wonder if.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back at Dallas police headquarters, Oswald was hauled in for questioning.

    LEE HARVEY OSWALD, suspect: I didn't shoot anybody, sir. I haven't been told what I'm here for.

    JIM LEHRER: I was there when they -- just as they brought in Oswald. And I wrote his name down. I still have the notebook. I'm one of those people who asked, hey, did you shoot the president? 

    ROBERT MACNEIL: I was also in the police station that evening and doing reports for NBC.  

    And I saw Oswald paraded back, and when he said, "I didn't kill anybody. I'm just a patsy"

    JIM LEHRER: And the guy standing next to me, who I didn't know at the time, is Jack Ruby. It wasn't until Sunday, when he shot Oswald, and I saw the picture and I said, holy smokes.

    MAN: There is Lee Oswald. He's been shot. He's been shot. Lee Oswald has been shot. There's a man with a gun. It's absolute panic, absolute panic here in the basement of Dallas police headquarters.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: NBC was on the air when it happened. And my friend and colleague the late Tom Pettit was the one who said, he's been shot, Oswald's been shot.

    And somebody at NBC had the wit to say, go live at that moment when Oswald was brought out.

    MAN: He is not -- lying very pale.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Oswald was rushed to the hospital, but died less than two hours later.

    What about the -- the Oswald piece of this, the person who was behind it. Been so many theories since then about whether it was one person, whether it was not. Does your having been there, been so close to what happened given you a strong feeling one way or another?

    JIM LEHRER: I ran down every conspiracy theory. And I had covered the Warren Commission stuff and all that.

    And I came away with this view, Judy, that I was unable to -- in my own mind, looking at it professionally, I was unable to conclude that there was a conspiracy. I was always prepared to entertain the possibility that Oswald didn't act alone. Now we sit here 50 years later. No story has developed that, to my satisfaction at least, that shows beyond any -- that goes beyond showing the possibility, real possibility, that there was a conspiracy.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: All I can contribute to this is the question in my own mind, what made me run up the grassy knoll after getting out of the bus? Why did Dallas policemen run up there?

    Because somebody thought they heard something up there over the overpass at the top of the grassy knoll and where various conspiracy theories have posited another gunman. And the single-bullet theory, all this sort of stuff, I assume that Dallas policemen were as experienced as anybody could be in hearing gunshots echoing off buildings in an urban atmosphere.

    Somebody heard something that made them run up there. And that's all I can contribute. I haven't seen anything that is real evidence of a conspiracy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in Washington, just minutes after Oswald's death in Dallas, President Kennedy's flag-draped casket entered the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

    The following day, an estimated one million people lined the streets of Washington as the state funeral procession wound its way from the Capitol to the White House, to St. Matthew's Cathedral, and finally to Arlington Cemetery.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: For three days, all -- it's -- all my emotions were frozen.

    And I was, oh, God, what a story? How do I do this? What do I do -- where do I go next? It wasn't until the funeral on Monday -- and I was still in Dallas. And with the NBC crew, I went up to the top of the grassy knoll, and there was a small little gathering of flowers and notes and things where it had happened, sort of like beginnings of what became a worldwide form of mass grieving.

    And while we were filming, an old man came along, and he sat down near where I was on a kind of stone bench. And he took out a transistor radio and put it down. And at that precise moment, the Black Watch Highland Regiment and Band were passing a microphone in the parade.

    And I simply burst into tears. It was just the sound of the bagpipes and everything, my own cultural background.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You were Canadian.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: It was so strange.

    I had only a few days before in the South Lawn of the White House watched as the same Black Watch Regiment and Band paraded up and down, while President and Mrs. Kennedy sat on the South Portico with their children in their laps watching this. And I had two children at that time exactly the same age, a girl and a boy, the same age as Caroline and John-John.

    And I don't know whether that contributed, but it all just flooded out of me suddenly.

    JIM LEHRER: In our case at The Times Herald, every one -- every one of us worked around the clock for two, three days.

    And then, when the funeral that walked down Pennsylvania Avenue and all that, and, suddenly, everybody was just running and then every -- and then, suddenly, everything was absolutely silent in our newsroom. And we all started crying.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes. Yes.

    JIM LEHRER: Same thing.

    ROBERT MACNEIL: Yes.

    JIM LEHRER: And it was just -- it was disbelief.

    What I took away and have taken away -- and it still overrides everything that I have done in journalism since -- what the Kennedy assassination did for me was forever keep me aware of the fragility of everything, that, on any given moment, something could happen. I mean, my God, if they could shoot the president...

    ROBERT MACNEIL: And that president.

    JIM LEHRER: ... that president, just like that on a beautiful sunshiny day, my God, three -- three -- three rounds fired at 15 seconds changed the course of history, that, if it could happen once, it could happen again and again and again.

    And when I later became city editor of that same newspaper, I had a rule, that every phone that rang in that newsroom got answered, because you never knew who was on the other line.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think -- just to wrap that up, what do you think is the long, the enduring view of the people of Dallas about what happened?

    JIM LEHRER: Well, at first, there was -- there was shame and embarrassment and grief for what had happened and that it had happened in their city and all of that.

    But, in some ways, it was a marching-off spot, too, for a lot of people in Dallas, who had tolerated intolerance and said, we're not going to do that anymore. And it made a big change, made -- in a lot of people.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Seven years after the assassination, city leaders asked if Lehrer would write an inscription on a Kennedy memorial in Dealey Plaza on behalf of the people of Dallas.

    JIM LEHRER: It probably is the most memorable, lasting words I have ever written in my life or ever will write.

    "It is not a memorial to the pain and sorrow of death, but stands as permanent tribute to the joy and excitement of one man's life, John F. Kennedy's life."

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A half -century after his death, the Kennedy Memorial in Dallas continues to honor the life of the 35th president of the United States.

    President Obama has ordered all flags flown at half-staff tomorrow in honor of President Kennedy.


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    Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON -- New discord surfaced between the U.S. and Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday, with Karzai saying he would prefer his successor sign a new security pact with the United States, and Washington saying that no signatures by the end of 2013 could be a deal breaker.

    Secretary of State John Kerry and Karzai agreed this week to language of a proposed bilateral security agreement that could allow thousands of U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan as trainers and advisers after 2014 when the NATO-led combat mission ends.

    But then, just as about 2,500 tribal elders from around Afghanistan assembled in Kabul to consider the document, Karzai said he wanted it to be signed by the next president, who won't be elected until April at the earliest. That could make the draft document a political football in the Afghan presidential election and complicate U.S. efforts to prepare for a residual force to battle terrorists and train, equip and assist Afghan forces beyond 2014.

    It's unclear why Karzai said he would rather his successor to sign any deal, which has been the focus of nearly a year of negotiations fraught with frequent ups and downs and pauses. James Dobbins, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said U.S. officials are trying to get Karzai to change his mind.

    "I think delaying the signing to April will make it much more difficult for us to make our commitments," Dobbins told "PBS NewsHour."

    "It'll make it more difficult - and make it virtually impossible for other countries to make their commitments. I think it'll have a long-term, deleterious impact on the scale of international assistance to Afghanistan," he said.

    Asked if the U.S. was trying to get Karzai to reconsider, Dobbins replied: "Absolutely. And besides that, it's a two-round election and it's not necessarily over in April. It could well extend several months beyond that because if the first round doesn't produce a clear winner, there'll be a second round."

    Afghan experts in the U.S. suggested that Karzai might be trying to pressure the U.S. into making more concessions. His move also could be his attempt to avoid taking personal responsibility for an agreement that Afghans might see as selling out to foreign interests. Karzai hinted that asking for the deferral could be personal - that neither he nor the U.S. trust each other and that it would be better if someone else put pen to paper.

    "It all turns to trust, and between me and America, there is not very good trust," Karzai told the elders on Thursday. "I don't trust them and they don't trust me. The last 10 years has shown this to me. I have had fights with them and they have had propaganda against me."

    Whatever the reason, the Obama administration pushed back. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters on his plane flying to Halifax that Karzai's move "puts the United States in a very, very difficult position."

    "Until we get that BSA (bilateral security agreement), we can't do any more than train and it really needs to be done by the end of this year," Hagel told reporters.

    The agreement is set to remain in force until the end of 2024 and beyond, unless terminated by mutual agreement or by either party with two years' written notice. The agreement was designed to give some U.S. forces the legal right to remain in the country after the NATO-led mission concludes in December 2014, and to pledge U.S. backing for Afghanistan and its security forces for many years to come.

    President Barack Obama has not decided how many U.S. troops to keep in Afghanistan after 2014 if the agreement is approved, or how long any U.S. troops would be there. An Obama administration official said, however, that once a bilateral security agreement gets final approval, the president would decide within weeks how many U.S. troops would stay. The official was not authorized to discuss the subject by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Karzai or his designee would sign the document and then the parliament would ratify it, according to the State Department. After ratification, the Afghan president would have to again sign the agreement to make it law. That is something Karzai might or might not choose to do even if the gathering of elders, known as a Loya Jirga, embraced it and the parliament ratified it.

    Stephen Biddle, a professor of international affairs at George Washington University who has advised U.S. commanders in Afghanistan, said Karzai might be trying to gain leverage in negotiations.

    "If the deal isn't done, then you can always renegotiate the terms and get something better," Biddle said. "If the hypothesis is right that he's trying to keep the deal open as long as possible in hopes of getting better terms, then he's not necessarily in sales mode with the jirga. His leverage is higher if he's got some possibility that the deal might explode."

    The ongoing debate over the agreement is testing the patience of some U.S. lawmakers. Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said: "This latest stunt is fraying the nerves of many in Congress. Further delaying the BSA puts into question Karzai's intentions and seriousness about forging a strong post-2014 partnership with the U.S."

    Associated Press writers Julie Pace and Bradley Klapper in Washington, Lolita C. Baldor in Halifax, Canada, and Patrick Quinn and Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan, contributed to this report.

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    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid talks to reporters about the use of the 'nuclear option' at the U.S. Capitol Thursday. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    They went nuclear.

    No, Senate Democrats aren't glowing green, but Thursday they voted to implement historic rule changes that could dramatically reshape the remaining years of President Barack Obama's second term in office.

    It's easy to get bogged down in the parliamentary procedural particulars, but the short version is this: It will take just 50 Democrats and Vice President Joe Biden as the tiebreaker to confirm Mr. Obama's judicial and top administration nominees.

    The lower threshold for clearing Mr. Obama's nominations means Rep. Mel Watt, the first sitting member of the House to be denied approval in 170 years, and three of the president's nominees to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court, could be approved when the Senate returns from recess in early December. It also clears the way for some of the president's more senior Cabinet members to step aside, given their replacements could face swifter confirmation. (Or, as Ezra Klein points out, the president could fire people because he knows they'd be replaced quickly.) Finally, the nominees could become more partisan in nature because mathematically Mr. Obama would no longer need to win any GOP votes. There are currently 53 Democrats, two independents who caucus with the Democrats and 45 Republicans.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the change, dubbed the "nuclear option" on Capitol Hill, so nominees no longer face a 60-vote threshold for approval. He argued Senate Republicans have dangerously delayed Mr. Obama's picks for years, and that the unprecedented move could ease government gridlock.

    The Senate GOP counters that Democrats have taken advantage of their majority and will regret it. For years, some lawmakers have worked to avoid such a change, with senators in both parties warning others that they won't like the new rules if the majority shifts.

    The Morning Line

    Three Democrats joined with all of the chamber's Republicans to oppose the move: Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

    Roll Call's Niels Lesniewski explains in more detail:

    The new precedent represents what's likely to prove the most significant change in Senate rules since 1975, when the cloture threshold was reduced to 60 votes in most cases (from two-thirds of senators present and voting).

    "The Senate is a living thing. And to survive, it must change. To the average American, adapting the rules to make Congress work again is just common sense. This is not about Democrats versus Republicans," Reid said opening the Senate. "This is about making Washington work -- regardless of who's in the White House or who controls the Senate. To remain relevant and effective as an institution, the Senate must evolve to meet the challenges of a modern era."

    On the Senate floor, retiring Democrat Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin applauded Reid for "leading the Senate into the 21st Century."

    "I've waited 18 years for this moment. The sky will not fall, the oceans will not dry up, a plague of locusts will not cover the earth," he said. He also wants to see broader changes. (Right now, the rule change does not apply to legislation or to Supreme Court nominees.)

    But Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., complained: "It's another raw exercise of political power to permit the majority to do whatever it wants whenever it wants to do it."

    Politico's Manu Raju deconstructs how Reid managed to make the change happen, given the leader for months had threatened to do so but ultimately backed down.

    Both parties spent the day reminding the others of what they have said previously on the topic. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell once liked the idea, and then-Senator Barack Obama hated it.

    "Anything less than 100 percent is obstructionism to them," the Kentucky Republican said on the floor.

    McConnell also penned an op-ed in Friday's USA Today reminding Democrats that they once opposed the idea. It concludes:

    This "naked power grab," as Biden put it, is dangerous for our democracy. Rather than learn from past precedents, Democrats have set yet another one; they will one day regret this one, too, when the Senate majority inevitably changes -- as it always does.

    Mr. Obama delivered a statement to reporters hailing the move to end what he dubbed "unprecedented" obstruction.

    "Public service is not a game. It is a privilege. And the consequences of action or inaction are very real. The American people deserve better than politicians who run for election telling them how terrible government is, and then devoting their time in elected office to trying to make government not work as often as possible," Mr. Obama said.

    No matter how things move forward, this will certainly be an issue for Senate hopefuls and incumbents during next year's midterm elections.

    The NewsHour examined the change, then Gwen Ifill fielded a debate between Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

    The late Sen. Robert Byrd "has got to be rolling over in his grave," Johnson said. Merkley countered it's the GOP's own fault. "What brought this to a head today was a decision by the minority that they were going to block any nominee, no matter their qualifications, no matter their high character, if the president -- if they were nominated by President Obama. And that type of approach is just completely unacceptable," he said.

    Watch the segment here or below:


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    Melting glaciers mean more water to explore and profit from in the Arctic, but it can also mean danger for mariners. Photo by NewsHour

    HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- The U.S. military is looking for ways to expand operations in the vast waters of the Arctic as melting ice caps open sea lanes and other nations such as Russia compete for the lucrative oil and gas deposits. But the effort will take money and resources to fill the broad gaps in satellite and communications coverage, add deep-water ports and buy more ships that can withstand the frigid waters or break through the ice.

    There are no cost or budget estimates yet. But by the end of this year, the Navy will complete plans that lay out what the U.S. needs to do to increase communications, harden ships and negotiate international agreements so that nations will be able to track traffic in the Arctic and conduct search-and-rescue missions when needed.

    En route to a security conference here Thursday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said climate change, energy resources and security issues revolving around the Arctic will continue to grow in importance, particularly as the melting ice opens a new polar sea lane.

    "That's going to give many new opportunities to countries, to the world," Hagel told reporters traveling with him to the conference where the Arctic was expected to be a topic of discussion. "That will come with new challenges as well. So the United States needs to be very active in this group and be very involved."

    President Barack Obama in May unveiled a 13-page U.S. strategy for the Arctic, asserting that nations must protect the region's fragile environment and keep it free from conflict. At the same time, however, the U.S. wants to make sure it is not left behind as countries like Russia, China, Canada and Norway map out plans ranging from gas and oil exploration to research and military exercises.

    U.S. officials estimate the Arctic holds 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil reserves and 30 percent of undiscovered gas deposits. Until recently, however, areas that could reap hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues were frozen over and unreachable.

    Experts now say the Arctic waters could see largely ice-free summers as early as 2030, and there could be ice-free conditions for as long as a month by the mid-2020s. Ice-free means that about 10 percent of the water is ice-covered.

    Already, maritime traffic through the Bering Strait shot up by about 50 percent between 2005 and 2012. Last year, 483 ships moved through the strait, some picking up cargo in the Arctic and taking it out, others using icebreakers to travel across the Arctic through what's called the Northern Sea Route. Officials estimate they will continue to see a 10 to 20 percent increase each year in ship traffic through the region.

    "We're looking at a pretty dramatic increase in shipping, and that brings into play the concern by the Arctic nations - how do they respond to emergencies, search and rescue and people that get into trouble up there," said Rear Adm. Jonathan White, who is the Navy oceanographer and director of the Navy's task force on climate change.

    Speaking at his office in the U.S. Naval Observatory, White said the Navy needs to determine what it needs to invest in now in terms of training, doctrine and types of ships, aircraft and communications. He said if the U.S. wants to operate various ships or aircraft in the region by 2025, the question becomes: "What do I have to start thinking about now - about research, planning, making long-term investments for things like hull strengthening or bridge insulation, even how we conduct routine operations like ship and aircraft refueling?"

    Right now the Coast Guard has just two working icebreaker ships. Navy leaders are happy to rely on the Coast Guard for that capability but say Navy ships will also need improvements, including hardened hulls and better insulation, in order to operate in the frigid, icy waters.

    Search-and-rescue operations could be in greater demand in the coming years as more cruise ships and smaller vessels sail into Arctic waters, giving patrons a close-up view of wildlife and icebergs. If a ship gets stuck or has a problem, U.S. officials say they need to be able to locate and talk to the ship's crew and have ways to deliver supplies or aid to those on board.

    The other key issue is the enormous amount of resources in the Arctic, including large stores of oil off the Alaska coast.

    In 2007, a Russian research ship placed a Russian flag on the bottom of the Arctic Ocean near the North Pole in a symbolic gesture. And just last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Arctic was essential for his country's economic and security interests. He noted that work was underway to restore a major Soviet-era military base on the New Siberian Islands that had been shut down.

    China has also joined the jousting, sending its first icebreaker ship through the Arctic last year, even though China doesn't abut Arctic territory.

    Associated Press reporter Lolita C. Baldor wrote this report. Follow her on Twitter at @lbaldor.

    Read more:

    China may have new shipping shortcut thanks to melting Arctic ice

    Unmapped routes may pose dangers for shipping boom in Arctic waters

    Melting ice, warming waters could erode way of life for Alaska's North Slope

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    Moroccan King Mohammed VI, left, in Dakar, Senegal, in March. Photo by Seyllou Diallo/AFP/Getty Images

    When King Mohammed VI of Morocco visits the White House on Friday, President Barack Obama plans to speak to him about democratic reforms in the North African nation and other regional issues such as extremism and economic development.

    But a longstanding issue involving Morocco's disputed southern territory, Western Sahara, might come up in light of Morocco's recent diplomatic rows with Algeria. Algeria supports Western Sahara's independence movement and houses refugees connected to the fight. Morocco temporarily recalled its ambassador from Algeria last month after the Algerian president called for human rights monitoring in Western Sahara.

    A U.N.-brokered ceasefire agreement between Morocco and Western Sahara in 1991 directed a referendum for self-determination in Western Sahara which has yet to take place.

    The United States is concerned about al-Qaida-affiliated groups expanding in the Sahara, and a breakdown of cooperation in the region might encourage such expansion.

    Read more:

    Regional instability threatens already tense Western Sahara

    The 37-year-old refugee situation you know nothing about

    View all of our World coverage.

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    In October of 1950, the first of seven fantasy novels in the Narnia series was published. C.S. Lewis has since influenced and affected generations of readers and writers. As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Lewis's death, we take a look back "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" covers over the years.

    In October of 1950, the first of seven fantasy novels in the Narnia series was published. C.S. Lewis has since influenced and affected generations of readers and writers. As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Lewis's death, we take a look back "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" covers over the years.

    Pauline Baynes, 1950

    C.S. Lewis handpicked Pauline Baynes to illustrate the cover and interior art for the first publication of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" in 1950. Baynes's original cover art was re-distributed in 2010 for the 60th anniversary edition, as shown here. Photo: C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd.

    Chris Van Allsburg, 1994

    HarperCollins commissioned two-time Caldecott winner Chris Van Allsburg to create the cover, and although he rarely agrees to do so for other authors' works, he readily agreed to do create this 1994 cover. Photo: Chris Van Allsburg

    Leo and Diane Dillon, 1994

    Leo and Diane Dillion created the cover art for the mass market paperback editions of the Narnia series that were published backed in 1994. This "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" cover was published at the same time as the 1994 Van Allsburg hardcover. Photo: Lee Dillon

    Pauline Baynes, 1997

    Pauline Baynes illustrated a new cover cover for "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" in 1997. This cover was for the gift edition of the novel, with thicker paper, full color art, and a satin ribbon market. Photo: HarperCollins

    Christian Birmingham, 2000

    For the 50th anniversary of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," Christian Birmingham illustrated the cover art for the 2000 abridged picture book version of the novel. Photo: Christian Birmingham

    Pauline Baynes, 2000

    Pauline Baynes re-illustrated "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" in 2000 for the 50th anniversary of the novel. This edition featured full color artwork created by Pauline Baynes, unlike her original artwork in 1950 witch featured detailed black and white sketches throughout the story. Photo: C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd.

    Cliff Nielsen, 2002

    To replace the 1994 mass market edition with cover art by Leo and Diane Dillion, Cliff Nielsen illustrated this cover of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." This version was published in 2002. Photo: C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd.

    Pauline Baynes, 2003

    The cover art for the 2003 gift edition of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was also created by Pauline Baynes. This edition also had full color art throughout the book. Photo: C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd.

    David Wiesner, 2007

    The most recent cover of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was illustrated by three-time Caldecott winner David Wiesner. Photo: C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd.

    Pauline Baynes, E-book

    Pauline Baynes was commissioned again to create color illustrations for the e-book of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Photo: Pauline Baynes


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    PHOTO: Huge backup at Bay Bridge toll plaza due to no #BART service. CHP reporting delays on many Bay Area roadways. pic.twitter.com/t6Rrow24CB

    — ABC7 News (@abc7newsBayArea) November 22, 2013

    San Francisco's commuter rail system has resumed service Friday, recovering from a system-wide computer failure that stranded hundreds of overnight passengers and disrupted the morning commute.

    Jim Allison, spokesman for San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit, BART, said that technical problems occurred shortly after midnight, affecting 19 trains with 500 to 1,000 passengers. Allison said that computer systems were not communicating properly with the track switches, according to the Associated Press.

    As the nation's fifth-largest rail commuter system, BART carries 400,000 riders daily.

    Commuters previously endured shutdowns and delays from two major transit strikes this year.

    Commuters trying to fig. out what 2 do now that Bart trains aren't running. System has computer pblms. pic.twitter.com/e96lDCAy1N

    — Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) November 22, 2013

    People back on the platform at West Oakland Bart station. Station agent announced they are back in service pic.twitter.com/iY1FPrqHZx

    — Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) November 22, 2013

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    Working in the news business means making critical decisions every day. Everything we choose to cover -- and more importantly, the stories we do not cover -- is affected by judgment (much of it subjective) and resources.

    So with that in mind, I was intrigued to read a new Pew Research Center report on the amount of time television devoted to two huge stories this month -- the record-breaking Typhoon Haiyan and the fractured rollout of the health care law exchanges.

    Four thousand people and counting were killed in the Philippines, and recovery could take years. As far as we know, no one has yet died at the hands of Obamacare, but political fights seem to consume us.

    Pew compared coverage provided by four cable news networks, which, to be fair, also have to make choices. Reporting process and debate from Washington is inherently less expensive and less difficult than sending correspondents and crews halfway across the world.

    But according to Pew, the resulting coverage turned out to be driven far more by brand identity than by the weight of the news.

    The typhoon disaster was a story of great interest to climate change activists, America's robust communities of Filipino immigrants and descendants, and ordinary viewers transfixed by the scope of the damage.

    But for MSNBC and Fox News, two channels that assiduously cultivate liberal and conservative identities, the domestic health care story consumed far more time. After studying 20 hours of programming, Pew found that MSNBC devoted four times as much time to the partisan health care fight at home than to the unfolding disaster abroad. On Fox, the domestic coverage was 80 times greater than that of the storm aftermath in the Pacific.

    By contrast, CNN and Al Jazeera America -- with their global focus, spent more time covering the typhoon than the health care rollout. (Pew did not include PBS in its study, but a quick scan of newshour/pbs.org would show we devoted a robust chunk of our nightly programming to health reform and the Philippines.)

    I'm no media critic. I am pretty clear that these decisions are driven by factors that have more to do with money than ideology. It costs money to cover the news. Studio debates are cheaper to mount than unfolding disaster. The farther away the story is, the tougher it gets. I get that.

    But viewers can be forgiven for being confused about why they see what they see (and don't see) on the news. Perhaps the story of a deeply flawed health care rollout that could cost you health and wealth does provide a more compelling narrative than bad things that happen to someone else.

    But for those who want to know more about the world beyond our borders, there's got to be some place to go where the story gets told. Fortunately, there is. News consumers just can't be lazy about finding it. Otherwise, our eyes turn to our navel and remain there.

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    How would health care change if you paid for good care and not for every test? Harvard's David Cutler explains how Massachusetts is tackling the state's most expensive health care service.

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    C.S. Lewis constructed the world of "Narnia" through seven novels, the most recognizable of which is "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

    Even today, Gregory Maguire, author of the bestselling "Wicked," gets lost in C.S. Lewis' world of Narnia.

    "Imagine yourself going through a wardrobe and you think that you know the wardrobe is 4-feet deep and it has a back wall, but you don't get to the back wall, you keep going on. And then you find yourself in a snowy fantastic landscape that is nothing like the world in which you've known before."

    And so begins "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" of the "The Chronicles of Narnia," the beloved children's novels by C.S. Lewis that have sold more than 100 million copies and have been translated into 46 languages.

    Friday marks the 50th anniversary of Lewis's death. He died from renal failure in 1963 at the age of 64. It was one week before his 65th birthday.

    Gregory Maguire spoke to chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown about the Narnia series and C.S. Lewis's influence on the world of fantasy and Maguire's own construction of Oz. Listen to the whole conversation below.

    C.S. Lewis broke new ground in 1950 with his fantasy series "The Chronicles of Narnia." Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Getty Images

    Born in Belfast, Ireland in November 1898, Clive Staple Lewis became one of the most well-renowned and widely recognized names in children's literature. However, Lewis was primarily an author of adult novels. He published 30 books in total, including "The Screwtape Letters" and "The Great Divorce."

    Still, the seven installments that compromise "The Chronicles of Narnia" are his most well-known. According to Maguire, who is also a scholar of children's literature, Lewis was hugely influential for both children's literature and fantasy alike.

    In fact, Maguire says, "You only have to open any book and you see, the wardrobe has many imitators." One such imitator he points out comes from Philip Pullman's 1995 "The Golden Compass." Maguire points to a scene early in the book when Lyra, the protagonist, hides in a wardrobe to eavesdrop on her uncle in Oxford.

    For Maguire, Narnia was magical. Lewis created this world over his whole lifetime. He drew from the stories that his Irish nurse would tell him as a child. Several years later, at the age of 16, Lewis fantasized about a faun carrying parcels and an umbrella through a snow-covered forest. And then, during World War II, Lewis was inspired by four children who stayed at his country house.

    Located in Belfast, Ireland, "The Searcher" by Ross Wilson depicts C.S. Lewis looking into his magical wardrobe. Photo by Mike Johnson

    When he finally sat down to write "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," Lewis called on his memories, including sitting in an old wardrobe with his brother, and his youthful imaginings to create the Narnia known today.

    While Lewis was exploring his make-believe world, his close friend J.R.R. Tolkien was creating Middle Earth in "The Lord of the Rings" series. Together, the two created syntax for fantasy writing that is widely used today, but according to Maguire, they did so in almost opposite ways.

    "The differences between Middle Earth and Narnia ... are really vast because Narnia is built on the back of existing conventions," Maguire says. "There's a bit of Father Christmas there, there's a bit of Christianity, there's a bit of the Odyssey, there's a bit of the Arabian Nights. Little scraps and bits and tatters from everything on the bookshelf that interested Lewis." Tolkien wanted to create a whole new world that concealed his roots. He tried to "make something ... new as if it had never been sighted before," Maguire says.

    In terms of his own writing, Maguire looked to Lewis for help: "When it was time for me to write 'Wicked,' I said I want to look at Oz that way C.S. Lewis looked at Narnia. I want to explore every corner and give it a deep and abiding subtlety and mystery the same sort that we can smell of Narnia whenever we walk into a piney wood even in upstate New York."

    Three major motion pictures have already been made from the Narnia series and the fourth, "The Silver Chair," is in development.

    Check out the slideshow below to view "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" cover art from 1950s to the e-book today.

    View Slide Show

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    ESPN's "First Take" discusses the Fritz Pollard Alliance's demand to ban the N-word from the NFL. Video by ESPN

    The group responsible for promoting diversity within the NFL released a statement Thursday that called for a ban of the N-word from the playing field.

    Following racially-charged incidents involving the Washington Redskins and the Miami Dolphins, Harry Carson and John Wooten of the Fritz Pollard Alliance said that "we cannot condone on any level the use of the N-word."

    "As former players (along with thousands of others) who have worked hard in different eras of the game to leave proud legacies for those who follow us," read the statement, "we are appalled and extremely disappointed to learn that the worst and most derogatory word ever spoken in our country is being used during games as well as casually in the locker room."

    They added: "We are not asking players to point fingers or to report who said what when. We are simply asking that you respect the dignity of your teammates, fellow players, officials, coaches, fans and yourselves."

    Citing an anonymous source, The Washington Post reported Friday that the NFL was "unlikely" to take disciplinary action against Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams, who was accused by Fritz Pollard Alliance of using the N-word and profanity against umpire Roy Ellison during last Sunday's game at Philadelphia. Both Williams and Ellison are African-American.

    Williams said Thursday that he did not use the slur against the official.

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    Is it possible to have a Thanksgiving meal prepared with only ingredients from within 100-miles? Yes, says this turkey that lives 120 miles from your house. Photo by Flickr user BBM Explorer

    Depending on where you sit down for your Thanksgiving feast, your meal may look a bit different -- cornbread dressing in the south, oyster stuffing in the northeast, chiles rellenos in the southwest. But no matter where you are in America, turkey, fixings and pie will likely be on your menu. Flash back to the original holiday, which began as a harvest celebration, and your menu might have included deer, corn and shellfish. You know, local food.

    These days the food that makes our Thanksgiving feast doesn't have to be local, yet over the past decade demand for local food has increased. With the explosion of farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture Programs, or CSAs, it's easier than ever to shop for locally produced food. People who eat said food were even given a name. In 2007, the New Oxford American Dictionary officially recognized "locavore."

    "Economically, buying local supports your community by creating jobs and places to gather like farmers markets," said Barbie Marshall who owns her own sustainable farm outside of Philadelphia. "Environmentally, buying local foods reduces the carbon footprint and emissions from transportation. One of the health advantages you have now is that you can ask the farmer what growing practices were used and when it was harvested."

    The idea of a "local diet," which has roots in the locavore movement and J.B. MacKinnon's book, "The 100-Mile Diet," is as popular as ever today. There are restaurants, grocery stores and even a television series dedicated to the practice.

    But then there's Thanksgiving.

    Whitney Pipkin of Alexandria, Va., is planning to host a 100-mile turkey day this year. "This year will be the first time I'm in charge of the lion's share of dishes for the Thanksgiving feast and am, therefore, able to take full advantage of the local offerings for more than side dishes," Pipkin said.

    The freelance journalist sources most of her food as close to home as possible on a regular basis.

    "Buying locally means I can get to know the wonderful people growing my food and know more about what's going into it," Pipkin said. "Thanksgiving is the culmination of the farming season and close to the end of my neighborhood farmers market. I can think of no more fitting way to celebrate and say thank-you to the people who've fed me all year than to buy the fixing's for the meals from them."

    Up the East Coast in Bayport, N.Y., Christine Egan and her family have been having 100-mile Thanksgivings for the past five years.

    "It's a great way to prepare your Thanksgiving meal," Egan said. "It really puts the whole family in touch with the food you eat. It's also a great way to avoid the busy supermarket, help your local farmer and eat what is in season."

    Across the country in Sacramento, Calif., Patrick Mulvaney and his wife Bobbin will be preparing a 100-mile meal, not for their family but for 150 people in their restaurant on the Monday of Thanksgiving week.

    "Our food focuses on the seasonal and local everyday so our Thanksgiving day meal will too," said Mulvaney. "I think this helps raise awareness about all the great things we have growing in our region 12 months a year plus we enjoy the challenge of using a local box of crayons."

    Mulvaney, however, admitted that the one non-local product on their menu is the pasta.

    "Each year we honor Calvin Trillin by serving his and our favorite Thanksgiving dish -- Spaghetti Carbonara," Mulvaney said, referring to the venerable food writer.

    That is one of the biggest challenges of the 100-mile diet. What do you do if you really want that one dish, but it isn't local? And then there are the other challenges, like cost and availability.

    "You may not have cranberry sauce if cranberries aren't within your 100 miles," said Marshall.

    Beth Bader, author of "The Cleaner Plate Club," understands the difficulty of adhering to a 100-mile diet. The flavors on Thanksgiving alone are enough to give most people pause.

    "Think about it, unless you are on a coast and happen to know how to make your own sea salt, forget that brine on a local pastured turkey, the kind of lean meaty not fatty bird that is going to be dry as bone without brine," Barder said. "No cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or ginger or vanilla. No coffee with that pie. Sweeteners have to come for sorghum or honey. No baking powder or baking soda. No cranberries unless you are in New England."

    So is a 100-mile Thanksgiving even possible or desirable? It depends on where you live and how dedicated you are to finding your ingredients.

    "If you're looking for specific foods, you may need to drive to various farms to find exactly what you are looking for," said Egan.

    Pipkin, who admitted that buying a turkey from a farmer made her realize just how much turkeys are supposed to cost, suggests starting small and with what's in season where you live.

    "If you were going to make an asparagus dish, why not substitute it for something more seasonal, and therefore, more delicious, like brussels sprouts," she said.

    Bader agreed.

    "Frankly, the 100-mile diet was the biggest emotional barrier for enough mass of consumers to embrace eating local. What makes a bigger impact is when more people buy at least some things local.who want to eat in a way that helps the environment and the local economy can start by buying at least some local products.

    She practices what she preaches.

    "So, what has shown up from local sources on my Thanksgiving table or is used in our dishes? Turkey, kale, chard, garlic, lettuces, apples, pears, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butter cream, eggs, wine and beer, pecans, chestnuts, bread, honey, milk, cheese. But I sure do use salt," Bader said.

    What's on Pipkin's, Egan's and Mulvaney's Thanksgiving menus? Check out our "what does Thanksgiving look like near you" map for suggested menus and even some recipes from people around the country adding local dishes to their menu. And let us know yours in the comments.

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    By Simone Pathe

    Retirement PlanAmericans are more confident in their own understanding of financial decision-making than they are in the financial system's ability to provide a secure future, according to the latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll. Photo courtesy of Kick Images via Getty Images.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed Friday at 16,064.77. But is the height of the market inspiring confidence in the financial system and Americans' own financial decisions?

    It's a mixed tale. Americans are much more confident in their own financial decision-making than they are in the promise of the financial system. And yet, at the same time, Americans aren't making all the financial decisions they know they should be -- sometimes, because they simply can't.

    MORE FROM THE BUSINESS DESK: An 8.3 Percent Return on Your Money, Guaranteed for Life?

    Americans are pessimistic about the future of the country; only 23 percent believe the country is headed in the right direction and a majority isn't convinced President Barack Obama's economic policies have helped the economy, according to the latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll. About half think we're still in a recession.

    But ask Americans about their understanding of financial decisions, and it's a different story. Americans are much more confident in their own financial faculties. Almost 90 percent believe they understand what they need to know to make financial decisions.

    But what kind of financial decisions are they making? If you believe 58 percent of Americans, participating in the financial system is still the safest way to secure their families' financial futures, even if they don't think that future will be so secure. Most have checking and savings accounts and credit cards; employee-sponsored 401(k) plans are more rare, as are personal investment accounts. Yet how can one retire without them?

    In other words, just because Americans think they know what the right financial decisions are, that doesn't mean they're even close to making them. For example, three-quarters of Americans say they understand what it takes to save for retirement, but nearly half (44 percent) believe they're behind in that saving.

    That's not surprising, especially for older folks, said Eleanor Blayney, the consumer advocate for the Certified Financial Planner Board, speaking about the results of the poll on a panel at Washington's Newseum, Nov. 22. Admitting you can no longer drive happens last; the ability to make financial decisions goes first, she said. (Check out Paul Solman's animated explanation of Harvard economist David Laibson's research on the relationship between age and fluid intelligence. Lew Mandell, author of "What to Do When You Get Stupid," has taken to the Business Desk several times to explain how to close the retirement income gap -- before it's too late.)

    But if you don't have the wages to begin with, no amount of financial planning will make a difference, Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, said. The recession impacted different demographics in different ways. Older Americans' savings may have taken a hit. But for young people, she explained, the biggest effect is in weaker job opportunities. (Shierholz recently talked to us about the obstacles confronting new entrants to the labor market.)

    MORE FROM THE BUSINESS DESK: Folly of the Fed: Why Janet Yellen May Be a Dangerous Choice

    But the same can be said for older workers, forced to work longer to build up -- or replenish -- that nest egg, as we've reported extensively. Of course, many boomers are dropping out of the labor force because of retirement, but many people 55 and over are also part of the "missing workforce" -- those folks whose long-term unemployment excludes them from the officially unemployed, ironically, lowering the unemployment rate. Many more of those boomers would be working today, Shierholz argued, if it weren't for the recession.

    There is reason to worry, said former FDIC chair Sheila Bair at Friday's event, since most of the recovery has been driven by an increased valuation of the market. Share prices may be up, but there's no way to know, she said, whether that's the doing of the companies or of the Fed's monetary stimulus program. And the fact that only 30 percent of Americans have a personal investment account and are benefiting from Thursday's record closing underlines what Bair called the "uneven" nature of the recovery.

    National Journal editorial director Ron Brownstein, a demographic slicer-and-dicer, compiled a thorough roundup of the socioeconomically divergent ways Americans approach the financial system and have experienced America's recovery.

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


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Americans and the world marked the 50th anniversary today of one of the 20th century's defining moments, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

    Hari Sreenivasan reports on the day's events.  

    ("TAPS" PLAYING)

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The gray skies at Arlington National Cemetery this morning matched the somber occasion.

    Joined by family members, the president's sister and last surviving sibling, Jean Kennedy Smith, laid a rose at the grave, where a flame burned as it has for the last half-century.

    Hours later, at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, people gathered in bitter, wet cold as bells tolled at 12:30 Central time, the exact moment when the president was shot as he motorcaded through 50 years ago.

    Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said his city has grown since that horrific day.

    MIKE RAWLINGS, mayor of Dallas, Texas: While the past is never in the past, this was a lifetime ago. Now, today, we, the people of Dallas, honor the life, legacy and leadership of the man who called us to think not of our own interests, but of our country's. We give thanks for his life and service. We offer condolences to his family.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The mayor unveiled a new memorial imprinted with words from a speech that President Kennedy had been set to give in Dallas.

    It also rained in the slain president's native Boston, as Governor Deval Patrick laid a wreath at the Kennedy statue outside the Massachusetts Statehouse.

    CHOIR (singing): America, America.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Across the city, music marked the day at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

    And excerpts of his speeches were read aloud, including the address to the nation on civil rights in June of 1963, five months before the assassination.

    ELAINE JONES, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund: We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The remembrances extended around the world as well. In Britain, Kennedy's granddaughter, Tatiana Schlossberg, laid a wreath at a memorial to the slain president.

    TATIANA SCHLOSSBERG, granddaughter of John F. Kennedy: We have come here today to honor his memory as this monument does so well. But today is a difficult day, because it is a reminder of a moment of profound sadness for my family, for America, and for the world.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And back in Washington, the 44th president met with Peace Corps volunteers carrying on the legacy. The organization was created during the Kennedy presidency.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama said today the Kennedy assassination reshaped the Secret Service, and that the agency does an outstanding job. He told ABC News he doesn't worry about his own safety.

     


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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. has stepped up pressure on Afghan leaders to sign a security deal by year's end. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today that, otherwise, there won't be time to plan for keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan past 2014. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said yesterday he wants his successor to sign the pact, after elections next spring.

    Today, his spokesman said, "We do not recognize any deadline from the U.S. side."

    Secretary of State John Kerry headed to Switzerland this afternoon to join six-nation talks with Iran on freezing its nuclear programs. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had arrived in Geneva earlier. That, in turn, raised speculation that negotiators may be edging toward a compromise. In a few minutes, Margaret Warner updates us from Geneva.

    United Nations-sponsored climate talks -- climate change talks were scheduled to wind up in Warsaw, Poland, today, but delegates from more than 190 nations kept talking. They're trying to fashion a deal to reduce carbon emissions. It's supposed to be adopted at a 2015 summit in Paris.

    The U.S. special envoy acknowledged, it's been slow going.

    TODD STERN, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change: I don't think anybody expected anything different from that. There are disagreements that are part of these negotiations, and we are still two years from Paris, so, certainly, it was never a -- a metric of success for this agreement that the big issues were going to go away.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Hundreds of environmental activists walked out of the talks yesterday over the failure to make headway.

    The Pakistani physician who helped locate Osama bin Laden has been charged with murder. The lawyer for Shakil Afridi said today the case relates to the death of a patient in 2006. Afridi was already facing retrial on other charges. The doctor ran a vaccination program that helped the CIA find bin Laden. Pakistani officials regard him as a traitor.

    The death toll from the typhoon that struck the Philippines topped 5,200 today. The country's national disaster agency also reported some 23,000 injured, with 1,600 still listed as missing. The agency said only about half the city of Tacloban has been cleared, so it's likely the number of dead will go higher still.

    Wall Street scored new gains to finish out the week. The Dow Jones industrial average added more than 54 points to close at 16,064. The Nasdaq rose 22 points to close at 3,991. The S&P 500 hit a new benchmark, closing above 1,800 for the first time. For the week, the Dow gained just over 0.5 percent; the Nasdaq rose 0.1 percent.

     


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