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

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    People wait in line to receive free food at a food bank in Richmond, Calif. Food charities are anticipating increased demand for emergency aid after millions of Americans had their food stamp benefits cut. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    American food banks that saw demand for emergency meals take off during the recession are working to meet yet another increase for 2014, following cuts to food stamps that took effect Nov. 1, 2013.

    The $5 billion cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will affect 47.7 million people, one out of every seven Americans. A family of four will lose $36 a month in food assistance, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, dropping from $668 to $632 a month.

    In New York City, with 63 percent of pantries and kitchens reporting shortages, the cuts will add stress to an already strained system, says Triada Stampas, a spokesperson for Food Bank for New York City. That food bank, the nation's largest, delivered 72 million meals last year. The organization calculates that across the five boroughs, SNAP cuts will mean that New Yorkers who get assistance will eat a total of 76 million fewer meals acquired with food stamps in the next year.

    "We've been talking to private donors for months about these cuts," said Stampas. "But I want to dispel the notion that private charity can make up for the cuts, that's simply not possible. "

    Bob Aiken, the CEO of Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks nationwide, said their branches are going to see more visitors as SNAP cuts shrink monthly food budgets.

    Feeding America expects to deliver 3.3 billion meals in 2014, an increase from the 3.2 billion meals delivered in 2013 and the 2.2 billion meals delivered in 2009.

    With a 46 percent increase in the number of people seeking meals after the recession hit -- from 25 million in 2006 to 37 million 2010 -- Feeding America has been struggling to keep up with demand.

    "We are very concerned about the impact this cut will have on struggling low-income people and our network food banks," Aiken wrote in a statement in response to the SNAP cuts. "Unfortunately, our food banks across the nation continue to be stretched thin in their efforts to meet sustained high need in the wake of the recession."

    Not all charities have been able to expand service to catch up to demand. Meals on Wheels anticipates delivering 214 million meals in the 2014 fiscal year, down from the 228 million meals delivered in 2011. As their capacity to serve diminishes due to rising costs and reduced private funding, spokesperson Erika Kelly says the demand is greater than ever, with waiting lists stretching as long as 600 names in cities like Savannah, Ga.

    Meals on Wheels, an organization focused on delivering nutritious meals to seniors both at their homes and in senior centers, will see demand for their services rise because 19 percent of the recipients of home-delivered meals are on the SNAP program, according to Kelly.

    "That's why programs like SNAP are critical," said Kelly "We're able to get more seniors that can utilize SNAP, which can help us fill in the gap for some of these demands."

    The rise in demand corresponds with growing food insecurity for seniors, which went up 88 percent from 2001 to 2011. In 2011, 8.8 million seniors were faced with the threat of hunger, according to a report by National Foundation to End Senior Hunger.

    Jeff Baldwin, a spokesperson for FeedMore, a network of food banks in central Virginia that provides 75,000 meals a day, says his organization needs volunteers to donate time and resources to make up for the loss of meals from the cuts.

    "Food banks aren't set up to be the only provider of food. It's set up nationally to be an emergency relief program," said Baldwin.

    Related Content:

    Food stamp program cuts lead to 'staggering' increase in need

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    Nearly 9 in 10 Americans who need some form of long-term care (LTC) get that assistance from family members or friends who volunteer their time. More than a third of these 'informal' caregivers are taking care of an aging parent, and assist with tasks like getting in and out of bed, going to the bathroom, eating, housework and transportation.

    So what is the economic cost when mom moves in because she's not quite able to take care of herself, but you either can't afford or do not want to send her to a nursing home just yet?

    The answer: quite a bit. In 2011 the Congressional Budget Office estimated the value provided by informal LTC caregivers doing home-aide type services was worth a whopping $234 billion. To see just how much that sum is, we put it into context of the GDP, the federal budget and Facebook, among other things.

    See the full breakdown in our infographic here.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The holiday plans of many thousands of Americans lay at the mercy today of a major winter storm that's arrived before winter actually starts.

    The system has led to the deaths of at least 11 people since it blew onto the West Coast last week. The storm rolled toward the east as a wintry mix of heavy rain, wind, snow, and ice on the eve of the Thanksgiving travel period. This morning, road conditions in eastern Kentucky were already getting dangerous.

    NEVIN WHITIS, traveler: It's been pretty terrible. It's -- since I got on 75, it's been rain, and now it's all been ice and snow.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The system had earlier crossed the west and southwest, dumping snow and ice from Southern California into Texas and Oklahoma. By today, it was spreading from the Gulf Coast region up the length of the Eastern Seaboard.

    Salt trucks hit the roads from North Carolina to the Northeast, trying to get the jump on expected snow and ice.

    MAN: Yes, we're getting ready.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Airlines braced for major cancellations and flight delays through tomorrow, just as millions of people try to get home for the holidays.

    In New York today, some hoped to beat the bad weather by flying out early.

    KIM POWELL, traveler: It was many hundreds of dollars to change our tickets, but we had family plans in Chicago that we can't miss, so off we go and we have to suck it up.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: For others, it was too late. Some were stuck in Miami yesterday after flights to Dallas and other Western cities were canceled.

    COREY KEYS, traveler: I can't get home. Had to spend a whole night in here in this airport on this cold floor.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: They were feeling the frustration in Milwaukee as well.

    MIKEY SMITH, traveler: Now we are trying to connect to Kansas City and get back to Texas. So, yes, I just -- wish I could click my heels three times and be home, but this is pretty tough here.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: To avoid getting stuck at airports or on the roads, some people decided to take the train.

    AMY JACOBSEN, traveler: My son said, don't you think about driving. And I'm so glad we are not driving.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, according to AAA, 90 percent of travelers will be on the roads this week, and nearly 40 million are expected to drive 50 miles or more from home.

    The U.S. Supreme Court will hear another challenge to President Obama's health care law. At issue is a provision that employers provide birth control coverage under their health benefits. A number of business owners have cited religious objections. Lower courts have divided in their rulings on the issue.

    Two American B-52 bombers flew over disputed islands in the East China Sea today. On Saturday, Beijing announced an air defense zone over the islands, which Japan also claims. The U.S. rejected the Chinese restrictions. Meanwhile, China sent its only aircraft carrier on a training mission today into the South China Sea. Disputes in that region center on oil and gas fields. We will have more on this right after the news summary.

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai is making new demands before signing a security agreement with the U.S. The Washington Post reported today that Karzai wants the U.S. to help start peace talks with the Taliban and to release Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo. Karzai made the demands during a two-hour meeting Monday with the president's national security adviser, Susan Rice.

    She warned against delay in signing the security pact.

    SUSAN RICE, U.S. National Security Adviser: If the agreement isn't signed promptly, what I said to the president is, we would have no choice. We would be compelled by necessity, not by our preference, to have to begin to plan for the prospect that we will not be able to keep our troops here, because they will not be invited.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The agreement would allow some 8,000 American troops to stay in Afghanistan after next year, helping to train Afghan forces.

    In Thailand, thousands of protesters forced the evacuation of several key government ministries and announced they mean to bring down the government. Crowds have already seized a number of government buildings. They vowed today to shut down more offices if Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra doesn't resign. She called for calm and she offered to negotiate.

    France pledged today to send 1,000 troops to the Central African Republic in an effort to restabilize the nation. The former French colony has fallen into near anarchy since rebels ousted the president in March. Now the U.N. is warning of mass atrocities.

    In Paris, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius outlined his hopes for the mission.

    LAURENT FABIUS, French Foreign Minister (through interpreter): In this operation, what are we aiming for? First, assist an abominable humanitarian situation -- I mean really abominable -- then restore security in a country that is imploding, thirdly, allow a political transition because there are transitional authorities, and, fourthly, at some point, allow a kick-start of the economy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The French deployment is in conjunction with a regional peacekeeping force being deployed by the African Union.

    CBS News has ordered 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan and her producer to take a leave of absence over a story on last year's raid in Benghazi, Libya. The October report cited a security guard's claim that he was there when the U.S. mission was attacked in September 2012. It turned out that he told his employer and the FBI that he wasn't there. A CBS internal review found Logan did a poor job of vetting the man's account.

    Wall Street was relatively quiet today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained a fraction of a point to close at 16,072. The Nasdaq rose 23 points to close at 4,017.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: China's new push into part of the East China, an area also claimed by Japan, has increased volatility in the region. China demands that before planes enter the disputed area, they must first notify the Chinese government.

    This morning, the U.S. sent two Air Force B-52 bombers over the area without giving notice.

    For more on this, I'm joined by Julian Barnes of The Wall Street Journal.

    Thank you for being here.

    JULIAN BARNES, The Wall Street Journal: Thanks for having me.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, why did the U.S. send over these bombers over an area over the Chinese just over the weekend said, we control?

    JULIAN BARNES: Well, the U.S. right after that announcement by China said they're not going to change the way they operate in the region.

    The United States doesn't take sides in this territorial dispute, but we have an agreement with Japan to defend Japanese territory and the territory they administer. So the U.S. believes the status quo means that this that -- that this defense zone alters the status quo, and so that they cannot abide by it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what was the reaction from the Chinese after the U.S. did this today?

    JULIAN BARNES: Well, the U.S. was prepared, but didn't expect that China would try to intercept or contact the planes. There was no contact by China when the B-52s flew over the disputed islands.

    They flew from Guam. They returned to Guam without incident. Now, China is sticking by this -- their establishment of the ADIZ, this air defense identification zone. And we will have to see what happens with subsequent flights.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So does the U.S. just -- I mean, is this a matter of the U.S. not taking the Chinese seriously?

    JULIAN BARNES: No, not at all.

    This is a matter of reassuring allies. The U.S. doesn't want to see the dispute over the islands escalate into a military conflict between Japan and China. So it's very important for the U.S. to be a calming influence. And so that's why we see the U.S. taking action almost to prevent Japan from doing something.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, but the U.S. -- but what is the risk that the U.S. sees here, I mean, the risk that this could end up escalating?


    This dispute has gone on for more than a year. I mean, obviously, it goes back far before that. But we have had repeated conflicts over these islands over the course of the last year. The U.S. is urging the status quo, urging calm. They -- but there's quite worry of a miscalculation on either side.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: They are worried.

    So what then are the chances -- what are the U.S. plans at this point in terms of future flights? Are they going to keep on making these bombing runs over the area?

    JULIAN BARNES: Defense officials say they regularly exercise in this area. This is part of international airspace. They fly there. They're going to continue to do this.

    They believe that this is administered by Japan, and so that they can operate there. And they will continue to fly bombers and other planes over it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right. We will keep watching. Julian Barnes of The Wall Street Journal, thank you.

    JULIAN BARNES: Thank you.


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    GWEN IFILL: Now to the debate within the debate over immigration reform.

    Even as a sweeping overhaul remains politically out of reach, hundreds of thousands of undocumented residents are still being deported. And that has angered some of the president's most loyal supporters.

    PRESIDENT PRESIDENT OBAMA: I said it was time.

    GWEN IFILL: The president was making his case for immigration reform on Monday in San Francisco, when a dissenting voice rose right behind him, demanding an end to deportations that divide families.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Most importantly, we will live up to our character as a nation.

    JU HONG, undocumented immigrant: Our families are separated. I need your help. There are thousands of other...


    JU HONG: ... immigrants.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: That's -- that's -- that's exactly what we're talking about here.


    JU HONG: ... every single day.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: That's what why we're here.


    JU HONG: Mr. President, please, use your executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 undocumented immigrants in this country right now.

    GWEN IFILL: The man making the plea was Ju Hong, a 24-year-old undocumented immigrant from South Korea. Others joined in, chanting for action, even as the president waved the Secret Service away.


    MAN: Stop deportation.


    PRESIDENT OBAMA: What I would like to do -- no, no, don't worry about it, guys.

    MAN: Stop deportation. Yes, we can.

    GWEN IFILL: The administration has deported record numbers of undocumented immigrants, about 400,000 every year. Protesters have pressed for executive action to halt the practice just as Mr. Obama ordered a stop to deporting undocumented immigrant children last year.

    But the president insisted yesterday that, in this case, his hands are tied.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: The easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws.

    And what I'm proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve, but it won't be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying and getting it done.



    GWEN IFILL: Still, the prospect of getting it done as part of broad immigration reform seems remote for now. A bipartisan measure passed the Senate in July, but House Republicans have no plans to take it up before year's end.

    The issue, however, continues to play out on the local level. In Boston, the newly elected mayor said today he wants to pull out of a federal program that tracks people in the country illegally. But detention and deportation continues apace.

    For more on that, we turn to Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, and David Martin, a law professor at the University of Virginia. He served in the Obama administration as deputy general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security.

    Welcome to you both.

    Ms. Hincapie, we -- why have deportations increased, in your view?

    MARIELENA HINCAPIE, National Immigration Law Center: Well, under the Obama administration, we're seeing a record number of people being detained and deported. These are your working mothers, working fathers. They're people picking our fruits, serving our food at restaurants.


    And there have been a number of programs like Secure Communities, which is a program that the administration created and has enforced vigorously. We also see a lot of collaboration between law enforcement agents at the ground, as well as with immigration agents.

    And we are about to rake a record of two million deportees under this administration.

    GWEN IFILL: So, David Martin, why is that happening?

    DAVID MARTIN, Department of Homeland Security: Well, Congress has funded enforcement at those levels. The administration is carrying out the laws, honoring the president's obligation under the Constitution to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

    And so this is both a congressional and an executive policy. But I want to emphasize that the Obama administration has made an effort to redirect deportations and enforcement actions so that they focus on a better set of priorities, to prioritize people with criminal involvement or recent border crossers or people with serious immigration violations.

    And the best example of that, I think, is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, the policy for the so-called DREAMers, for people who came here as young children and are not accountable for their illegal presence in the country. That was a policy announced about 18 months ago that provides a form of status for those people.

    So all of that is part of the process. The president doesn't have the authority to simply wave off enforcement of the laws. That's not the kind of system we have. So there's been an effort to reprioritize it.

    GWEN IFILL: Ms. Hincapie, is that re-prioritization enough for you? The president, that's essentially what he said yesterday to the heckler in the crowd: Listen, it's not up to me. Go talk to Congress.

    MARIELENA HINCAPIE: I think the young immigrant in the crowd was really voicing a growing concern among immigrant communities because of the frustration of congressional inaction, as well as the fact that this administration is deporting more people than any prior administration.

    And David is right that the appropriations -- Congress has -- is partially at fault here in terms of the amount of money that they're throwing away, $18 billion in last fiscal year alone, more than all law enforcement -- all federal agent -- law enforcement agencies combined. That's incredible that this nation is spending that much time, that much money at a time that we're facing such a federal deficit.

    But the administration with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program did identify that DREAMers, in particular young immigrants, are eligible or considered to be low-level priority. The problem is that the administration isn't necessarily enforcing or applying even its existing policies and procedures.

    GWEN IFILL: But what do you say to David Martin's point that the law is the law is the law?

    MARIELENA HINCAPIE: Well, I think there are -- we believe in the rule of law as well.

    And we believe that the administration should be enforcing -- and hopefully under new DHS leadership with Jeh Johnson's nomination, they will actually put in place an implementation of existing policies and priorities. So the way that the administration has identified who is a -- considered a low-level priority, we shouldn't continue to see immigrant workers, people who are paying taxes, people who are raising a family, who are contributing to our economy in so many different ways, the same very people that would be eligible for immigration reform, which the administration has identified as its top legislative priority.

    We couldn't -- we shouldn't be deporting today the citizens of tomorrow.

    GWEN IFILL: David Martin, how much latitude does the president have to say, OK, these are criminals over here who are out of immigration status and these are mothers and children who are out of immigration status, and these I will deport or detain and these I won't?

    DAVID MARTIN: The president does have discretion to set the priorities, and that's pretty much what the president has tried to do.

    It's not just for people with criminal records, but also, for example, for recent arrivals, even if they're just coming here to work. I think that's a sound overall policy. So the president does have authority. And it can be adjusted some beyond what it is right now. And also I share Marielena's concern.

    Steps need to be strengthened to make sure that the priorities are really followed. But the president doesn't have the authority to do what some of the people I think were asking for yesterday, essentially to stop all deportations of any of the estimated 11.5 million people who are here in the country. Prosecutorial discretion is the authority to focus resources, to direct toward priorities. It's not the authority to negate the law or ignore it.

    GWEN IFILL: Can I ask you another question about that? I'm curious how this -- she alluded to the fact that this -- these are record numbers of deportations. How does what this administration is doing compare to past administrations?


    DAVID MARTIN: Well, the administration has not ramped up enforcement beyond essentially what it was at the end of the Bush administration.

    There was a big run-up in enforcement and especially in congressional appropriations for that in the Clinton administration and then in the George W. Bush administration. I did some calculations on how that was. The final year of the Bush administration, there were 391,000 removals and returns by ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the interior enforcement agency.

    Currently, it's running about 400,000. And it is increasing somewhat in line with the appropriations. But this is -- this may be record deportations now, but it's only slightly above the level that it reached in the Bush administration, again, with Congress' very active support.

    If we're going to change that pattern, we really need to get new legislation and also the focus has to be as well on Congress and on the appropriations process.

    GWEN IFILL: Marielena, a final word?

    MARIELENA HINCAPIE: Yes, I think Congress is -- the final decision really rests with Congress. Congress must enact immigration reform. That's where the permanent solution rests.

    However, in the meantime, the president does have, we believe, the legal authority and the moral authority to reduce the number of deportations, so that people who are considered low-level priorities that would be eligible today for immigration reform if Congress acted shouldn't be deported anymore.

    GWEN IFILL: And, David Martin, is this a legal and moral -- legal or a moral issue, I guess?

    DAVID MARTIN: Well, both are involved.

    The effort to try to infuse more of this moral perspective -- people really disagree on what that is -- but that perspective into our overall enforcement picture has to be primarily done through working on amendments for the laws. We're involved in that process. It's a very difficult process, politically fraught.

    But I think serious continuing level of enforcement has got to be a key part of the overall package and the long-term effort to make our immigration system healthy.

    GWEN IFILL: David Martin at the University of Virginia and Marielena Hincapie of National Immigration Law Center, thank you both so much.

    MARIELENA HINCAPIE: Thank you, Gwen.

    DAVID MARTIN: Thank you.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The head of the Free Syrian Army announced today that his group will not be attending the so-called Geneva II conference aimed at bring a political solution to the country's crisis.

    Instead, FSA commander Salim Idris vowed to continue fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    But, as Margaret Warner reports, that objective has become increasingly unlikely as the underfunded and outgunned group is forced to fight additional enemies.

    MARGARET WARNER: Last November, we met Colonel Abdul-Jabbar Aikidi at his rebel command post outside Aleppo. His Free Syrian Army units were on the march, he told us, taking ground in the city and surrounding area and seizing the momentum against Bashar al-Assad's government forces.

    COL. ABDUL JABBAR AL AIKIDI, Free Syrian Army (through interpreter): We have almost full control on the ground, though they are superior in the air and with rocket launchers, tanks and artillery. But we are superior on the ground and we have control.

    MARGARET WARNER: But earlier this month, the well-regarded commander resigned his post. In this YouTube video, he voiced frustration with all the in-fighting among the rebellion's disparate units and leaders, including jihadist brigades.

    ABDUL JABBAR AL AIKIDI (through interpreter): You warlords, stop chasing positions and status and carrying about being famous. Return to the battlefield and leave behind your egos.

    MARGARET WARNER: Joshua Landis, head of Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma, says the resignation of Aikidi, a favorite of the U.S. and the West, shows a rebellion in crisis.

    JOSHUA LANDIS, University of Oklahoma: He was the go-to man for supplying the non-lethal aid, and many people had proposed that he should get most of the lethal aid. His quitting shows you that the Western attempt to develop a supreme military council and the Syrian National Council and so forth has largely collapsed.

    MARGARET WARNER: Right now, the regime is attacking rebel-held areas in Aleppo and the suburbs of Damascus and in Qalamoun, used by rebels to cross from nearby Lebanon.

    Another top commander, Abdul-Qadir al-Saleh, was just killed in an airstrike. And last month, Assad's forces retook the town of Safira outside Aleppo, the latest in a string of setbacks that began with the June siege and fall of Qusayr, where Assad's forces were boosted by fighters from Lebanon Shiite militia Hezbollah.

    JEFFREY WHITE, Washington Institute for Near East Policy: They have extended their influence.

    MARGARET WARNER: That assault established a playbook for the months ahead, says former defense intelligence official Jeffrey White of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

    JEFFREY WHITE: This is what I call the Qusayr rules. They use massive firepower, air artillery, armor. They use Hezbollah forces to provide the infantry. If they can, they will isolate an area and pound it into submission.

    MARGARET WARNER: Before this reversal of fortune, the U.S. and Russia were pushing to convene a peace conference here in Geneva, hoping that the warring parties, having fought to a stalemate, would negotiate a political solution to their conflict.

    Though there's now a new conference date set for January, many who've been involved in the struggle to end the conflict are skeptical of its chances for success, including Fred Hof, who ran the State Department's Syria transition operation until the fall of 2012.

    FRED HOF, Atlantic Council: It's going to be very difficult, I think, to convene a Geneva conference and to have a result that essentially amounts to peaceful, negotiated regime change in Syria so long as that regime itself believes it is winning.

    MARGARET WARNER: What's more, the Free Syrian Army -- or FSA -- now finds itself fighting on two fronts, against Assad's and against extreme Islamist elements of the rebellion, groups like the al-Qaida-linked Al-Nusra Front and ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham.

    Funded generously by wealthy individuals from the Gulf, they're attracting Sunni jihadist fighters from throughout the Arab and Muslim world and even non-like-minded Syrians.

    FRED HOF: The jihadi groups are well-financed, well-equipped, well-armed. Their priority seems to be to establish various forms of pseudo-Islamic governance on the villages and towns and cities where they're in control.

    MARGARET WARNER: They're taking that control in some places from the more centrist FSA forces, says Jeff White.

    JEFFREY WHITE: The extreme Islamists, let's say, are very good at taking control. They have a very effective strategy of seizing ground, expanding that area of control, bringing in good governments and -- good governance, in the sense that it's not corrupt and criminal.

    Initially, they were pretty clumsy. The first thing they would go would be to establish an extreme form of Sharia law. Now they're more clever. And they also deliver services.

    MARGARET WARNER: Their growing power alarms the FSA's commanding general, Salim Idris, who spoke with us by phone from Turkey.

    GEN. SALIM IDRIS, Free Syrian Army: They are fighting against the Free Syrian Army. They are trying to control the territories which we liberated before. And they don't fight against the regime. And they are, for us, very dangerous and maybe sometimes more dangerous than the regime.

    MARGARET WARNER: And is that because they're better trained and equipped? Why are they so dangerous?

    SALIM IDRIS: When the regime is trying to do some pressure on a front, they begin and start to do a lot of trouble for our forces in other regions, so that we are forced to send fighters to face them.

    MARGARET WARNER: Idris repeated a longstanding plea, that the U.S. and other friendly powers give his forces more weapons, equipment, training, and money. The lack of those resources helped prompt the resignation of his friend, Colonel Aikidi, he said.

    SALIM IDRIS: When we don't receive any support, sometimes, we can't withstand the pressure, and the humans have limits, and sometimes someone as Colonel Abdul-Jabbar comes to the limits and say, OK, enough; as a commander, I can't continue.

    MARGARET WARNER: And you're talking about the United States in particular not giving enough support?

    SALIM IDRIS: The supporting countries to the regime are doing very well, and supporting countries to the FSA and to the Syrian revolutions in general, the support is very little. Our friends, they hesitate.

    MARGARET WARNER: Earlier this year, the Obama administration did approve the shipment of some arms and ammunition to vetted FSA rebels under a covert operation by the CIA.

    But, to be effective, says Fred Hof, the mission must be ramped up and aimed at creating a unified, disciplined rebel structure.

    FRED HOF: I think the answer is for the United States to employ the U.S. Department of Defense in an effort -- in an effort, really, to take control over the whole process.

    MARGARET WARNER: But the counterargument has, for now, won the president's ear.

    JOSHUA LANDIS: No, I wouldn't do it. First of all, America has very few interests in Syria.

    JEFFREY WHITE: Most of the important militia forces on the ground are loyal to al-Qaida or they're very Salafist. They would see American intrusion as an imperialist act, and they would begin blowing us up, in the same way that they did in Iraq.

    MARGARET WARNER: So where does this brutal war go from here? Jeffrey White thinks the regime is going to wear down the fragmented rebel forces.

    JEFFREY WHITE: They can't match up to the regime. And the regime is going to keep winning these local battles. And the regime -- and the regime is implacable.

    MARGARET WARNER: Landis predicts a conflict that grinds on as far as the eye can see.

    JOSHUA LANDIS: No one is willing to intervene. They're going to fight it out. And that's -- that's -- that's been devastating so far, and it will continue to be.

    MARGARET WARNER: For a country that suffered three years of war, at least 110,000 dead, more than two million refugees driven out, and four million displaced inside Syria, a grim forecast of more suffering to come.


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    GWEN IFILL: Now to our interview with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, the first governor in history to survive a recall vote, a distinction which has vaulted him into 2016 presidential speculation.

    In a new book, "Unintimidated," Walker chronicles his battles with public sector unions and offers his prescription for national leaders.

    Jeffrey Brown caught up with the Republican governor during a visit to Washington last week.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Governor Scott Walker, welcome.

    GOV. SCOTT WALKER, R-Wis.: Good to be with you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I want to start with the title "Unintimidated." It sounds combative, tough, good guys, bad guys.

    Why that tone, at a time when Americans -- many Americans say they're tired of this kind of fighting?

    SCOTT WALKER: Well, I think there's a difference between what you see in Washington and what you see in the states like Wisconsin.

    In Washington, I think in many ways probably appropriately so, most Americans see the fighting as being for the sake of fighting. They don't feel like they're fighting for something. They feel like they're just fighting as though it's a game sport.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You think they see that when they watch what's going on in politics?

    SCOTT WALKER: Oh, I think so across the board, Republican and Democrat alike in Washington.

    I think, though, in the states -- and I think that really changed the tide for us eventually in my recall election -- is, people saw what we were doing was fighting for them, fighting for the hardworking taxpayers, taking on the status quo, taking on the entrenched special interests, and for us and for other governors, I think that's why there's a difference out there.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But I was in Wisconsin, I told you, for the recall election. And I -- so many people on both sides said to me that they had never seen the state so divided, so polarized.

    I remember the teacher in Oconomowoc who said, "I feel like public enemy number one. That's how teachers have been made to feel."

    Given all of that, how can Wisconsin be a model for what you would like to see in Washington?

    SCOTT WALKER: Well, because we have moved on.

    Even in the midst of all these protests, I would still go out to public schools and read with kids, because it was a part of my reading program. I would meet usually cases in a lounge or in a library with teachers for about an hour. And I remember the second or third question on that particular day was someone who said, why do you attack, why do you hate teachers? Why are you going after teachers?

    And I said, you will be hard-pressed to find any comments I have ever made about teachers as governor where I haven't said anything but positive words about the good public servants we have. So the people who are making you feel under attack is your union leadership, and they're doing it for politically intense reasons...


    JEFFREY BROWN: So you just put all of that on the union leaders? Because there was a lot of intensity on both sides. There was a tone of -- certainly a feeling among government workers and teachers in particular of, this is all against us, and we didn't cause the problems of this state.


    SCOTT WALKER: But the irony of that is, the reason why -- one of the big mistakes I talk about in the book was the fact that I didn't make the case early on for the need for the reforms, that I just went out...


    JEFFREY BROWN: You didn't make it early -- that's something you...


    SCOTT WALKER: No, I talked about it in the campaign.

    But from the time I was elected until the time when the reforms came up on February 11, I admit in the book, I say, I was so eager to fix things, I didn't spend time talking about why we needed to fix them, because usually most politicians in either party talk about things, but never fix them.

    What I learned -- one of the lessons learned from here is that you have to do both. You have to talk about it and fix it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, where do you see the Republican Party right now? You have said, for example, you thought House Republicans were wrong to push the government shutdown.

    SCOTT WALKER: Well, I think the federal government is too big and too expansive and too involved in our lives.

    So what -- I think I would like to see a more narrowly focused government. For what's left, though, what's necessary, we should show that it can work. And the optimism I show in the book is that, while I don't see enough of it in the Washington, I see it in plentiful measure all across the country in the 30 states that have Republican governors, the nearly as many states that have Republican legislative majorities.

    And the difference there is governors -- not just I, but other governors that I talk about, share the lessons learned from other places around the country -- are talking in terms that are much more optimistic. We're not just against things. We're for things. When we lay out a plan to make our citizens' lives better, we talk about it terms that are relevant.

    JEFFREY BROWN: There are a lot of people that think it is the party of no when it comes to all kinds of issues.

    SCOTT WALKER: Oh, and I can see how they see that by some of the statements that come out of people in Washington.

    That's why in the states, and not just overall -- but think about it. It's not just 30 states. It's states like Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Florida, Nevada. What do all those states have in common? They are historically known as battleground states in the presidential election. They were all carried by Barack Obama. Every single one of them has a Republican governor.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Is the Republican Party too conservative on social issues now, gay marriage, for example, abortion?


    I think, again, there's room in that, but I think they're -- if you look at all 30 governors, all of them on social issues as well as economic and fiscal are probably more conservative than Mitt Romney. And yet we won in all those states, including many of those battleground states.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But not at the national level.

    SCOTT WALKER: Well, but the difference is, we haven't had a nominee -- in fact, some would argue that actually the nominees the last two cycles have been too moderate and Republicans and conservatives have sat home.

    I think the bigger issue is, we have had in particular -- I mention a whole chapter in this book where, when you have a void, you allow the other side to define things that aren't the top of list of priorities. Most people in my state, I would argue most people in America, want leaders who are going to tackle the economic and fiscal issues facing us today that are the real crises here.

    And I think, in the last presidential campaign, you would be hard-pressed to find a typical American voter who could tell you what Mitt Romney was going to do to make their life better when it came to economic and fiscal issues.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But I think many Americans looking at what has happened in the election and since would say divided government, Republicans -- the president wants to do this, Republicans don't allow that.

    You haven't had to deal with divided government in Wisconsin. So what would be your -- what do you think could be done to get past it?

    SCOTT WALKER: My argument is, I don't think that split government, dividing things is a good idea.

    Conventional wisdom in Washington for years has been that divided government is good because of a check and a balance. What I believe happens all too often, regardless of which party -- because the same sorts of things happened to George Bush when -- at the end of his term, when Democrats were in charge of the House and the Senate -- is there's gridlock.

    And I think the better argument is give one party a chance, give them a chance with a House and a Senate and a president. Give them a few years to see what they can do. And if you don't like it, put another party in.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You would say that even though we have a very divided country, a very divided electorate?

    SCOTT WALKER: Well, I do.

    But, again, you look at the -- not just Wisconsin, but battleground states all across the United States where they are evenly divided. The real reforms I think you will see happening aren't happening in the deep red states. They're happening in the purple states, the Midwestern states in particular, where we're tackling big, tough issues.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I have to ask you. Should this book be read as a further move to a national stage, in fact, towards a 2016 presidential run?

    SCOTT WALKER: No. In fact, I think a lot of people would be surprised. This is not a campaign book here.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But you have said the next nominee should be a governor. Your description sounds an awful lot like Scott Walker.

    Do you have aspirations, presidential aspirations, to be your nominee -- the party's nominee?

    SCOTT WALKER: I had to work pretty hard, not once, but twice, the last two years to become governor. I will have to work hard again a third time in four years to become governor.

    I'm really focused on being governor. But I do believe that chief executives that are successful make good chief executives. And whether it's a current or it could be a former governor, I think in America today there would be 30 great candidates all across this country and a number of former governors who would be outstanding presidents, should that opportunity arise in the future.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Governor Scott Walker, thank you very much.

    SCOTT WALKER: Good to be with you.


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    GWEN IFILL: African-American stories have been told in fits and starts over the years, but seldom all in one place.

    In "The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross," Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. offers an exhaustive, but not exhausting, journey through five centuries. The six-part series, which covers everything from slavery to "Soul Train," concludes its run tonight on PBS.

    Part of the finale deals with the story of the Black Panthers, who turned to violence after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968.

    NARRATOR: Across the country, some African-Americans who had patiently withstood injustice for decades now set their cities on fire in a spontaneous outpouring of despair and anger.

    But, in Oakland, Calif., people had somewhere else to turn. The Black Panther Party, a militant group started in 1966 to defend the city's black community.

    KATHLEEN NEAL CLEAVER, former Black Panther: People jammed the Black Panther offices, saying: "We want guns. We want guns. We have to do something about this."

    NARRATOR: By April 1968, the Panthers had gone from promoting self-defense to advocating revolutionary change.

    GWEN IFILL: Welcome, Professor Gates.

    So it's not Black History Month and it's not the anniversary of the March on Washington, so why are we telling these stories again?

    HENRY LOUIS GATES JR., "The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross": Five hundred years of the contributions, achievements and sacrifices of 42 million -- of the ancestors of 42 million Americans, that's not important?

    Do you know that the first person of African descent landed in what is now North America in 1513? And we even know his name. His name was Juan Garrido. He wasn't a slave. He was free. And he came with Ponce de Leon.

    He was a black conquistador, and he was looking for the Fountain of Youth, just like the white guys.


    HENRY LOUIS GATES JR.: And he's been lost to history, except for a few specialists.

    And so we start with Juan Garrido, and we go 500 years, half-a-millennium to the second election and the second inauguration of the first black president, Barack Obama.

    GWEN IFILL: Which is the story you will be telling Tuesday night.

    But, tell me, how do you decide? Of all of those stories in those 500 years to tell, how do you decide which ones to tell?

    HENRY LOUIS GATES JR.: We chose things that were emblematic of larger phenomenon.

    You could not tell the story of every runaway slave, so you pick Harriet Tubman. You can't do every riot, so in this episode, we do the L.A. riots. This story of Solomon Northup, which has been -- so many Americans have seen in "12 Years a Slave."

    GWEN IFILL: Yes.

    HENRY LOUIS GATES JR.: We picked Terrence Stevens, a black man who was framed for drug possession on a Greyhound bus, has M.S., in a wheelchair, and served in prison for 11 years before he was pardoned.

    GWEN IFILL: But there's a theme that runs throughout all six parts of this.

    And that is that African-Americans, no matter how they came to this country, in the worst possible way, managed to create something out of nothing, whether it was culturally, historically, whether it was food, somehow created something out of nothing.

    HENRY LOUIS GATES JR.: Yes, I wanted to achieve two effects, one, to show the effects of black agency, the fact that our people had a will to survive.

    We call one episode "Making a Way Out of No Way," which you know is fundamental to the black tradition, that expression. And our ancestors deferred gratification. They had no idea that slavery would actually end. But they functioned as if it would. They could not imagine that you would be the co-host of a national news program...

    GWEN IFILL: I couldn't imagine it either, so that's OK.

    HENRY LOUIS GATES JR.: ... interviewing me, a professor at Harvard University who's executive producer of a six-hour series on African-American history, that our people would ever get to that point.

    Yet they functioned as -- in such a way as to make it possible. I wanted to create the effect of overhearing the conversation about the black experience among black people, in the special way that when you go to get your hair done or you go to a barbershop or you're in church, and people aren't worried about public perceptions of what they will say. They're just their cultural selves, as I think of it.

    And I think that's what we did. And we came up with 70 stories. And they tell the tale.

    GWEN IFILL: How do you fill a gap that isn't being filled in the schools? Is that what this is about as well?

    HENRY LOUIS GATES JR.: Oh, absolutely.

    The -- I have received thousands of e-mails over the last five weeks, but the ones I treasure most are from either teachers or students, and teachers saying, already, I'm using it to teach, say, slavery or Reconstruction or the creation of Jim Crow or the Harlem Renaissance or the Great Migration.

    And why is it important? It's important because our schools shape who we are as citizens. Think about the things you learned in first grade, my country 'tis of thee, I pledge allegiance to the flag, "America the Beautiful." Your teacher doesn't say, today is citizen lesson. I'm going to teach you how to be a citizen. They implicitly teach you how to be a citizen.

    Every time there's a racial incident in this country, our leaders call for a town hall meeting, a conversation about race. No one has a conversation about citizenship. It happens implicitly, invisibly everyday. That's where the real conversation about race has to happen, kindergarten, first grade, every day. Every day has to be Black History Month, in the sense that our story, this narrative has to be integrated inextricably in the story of America. And that's what we have provided in the series.

    GWEN IFILL: In the year when we have seen "The Butler" with this great critical success and "12 Years a Slave" with its great commercial success, both of them, there are those who could say that we're in the middle of another big black cultural renaissance of story -- historical storytelling.

    HENRY LOUIS GATES JR.: I was around when "New Jack City" and "She's Gotta Have It" and "Do the Right Thing"...

    GWEN IFILL: Spike Lee's big moments.

    HENRY LOUIS GATES JR.: Yes. They all came out at the same time, and everybody was talking about a renaissance of black film about 1990, 1991.

    I think it's the second-generation effect of affirmative action. One of the themes of our final episode is that, to quote Dickens, it's the best of times, it's the worst of times for our people. And what do we mean by that? The black upper-middle class has quadrupled since that terrible day in 1968 when Dr. King was killed because of affirmative action.

    At the same time, the percentage of black children living at or beneath the poverty line is almost identical to what it was the day Dr. King was killed.

    GWEN IFILL: So there's this huge wealth gap, even though we have a black president and we're supposed to be past all of this.

    HENRY LOUIS GATES JR.: Yes. That's right.

    And for those of us who were able to take advantage of affirmative action and then replicate ourselves over the years, we were able to take advantage of more access to the means of production than any other generation of black people before us.

    GWEN IFILL: Including telling our own stories.

    HENRY LOUIS GATES JR.: Including telling our own stories.

    And, also, we have a huge market, a huge group of black people who can afford to go to movie theaters, buy a ticket, TiVo, buy DVDs. And you see all these forces coming together. So I think that we are in a kind of renaissance, but it's the result, paradoxically, or curiously enough, of the civil rights movement and affirmative action. We're just seeing its effect 40 years later.

    GWEN IFILL: The story is "The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross." The last episode airs tonight, but you can get it on DVD and online, of course.

    And the spiritual leader behind it all is Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.

    Thank you for joining us.

    HENRY LOUIS GATES JR.: Thank you.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now for another in our Thanksgiving week food series: a profile of food writer and cookbook author Paula Wolfert, as she calls on her culinary skills to battle back against Alzheimer's.

    Paula Wolfert has the hands of someone who's been cooking a long time.

    PAULA WOLFERT, chef: What I'm going do is, I'm just going to fry this for flavor.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the kitchen of her Sonoma, Calif., home, Wolfert is preparing a cauliflower recipe she loves.

    PAULA WOLFERT: This is an Armenian dish taught to me by a very famous Armenian cook. I actually like the dish because it's so simple to make.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The 75-year-old Wolfert has been writing about Mediterranean food for four decades. She authored nine cooking books and has won numerous awards, including five James Beards.

    Wolfert made her mark long before the rise of the modern-day celebrity chefs, but her commitment to authentic recipes and ingredients still influence many in the culinary world today.

    PAULA WOLFERT: I like real food. I'm not a chef who makes up dishes. That's today's world.

    I was interested in real food of the countries that I had visited. And I had visited all the countries of the Mediterranean by the time I got around to writing about the food. And in writing about the food, you have to explain the people.

    Now, at that time, people didn't do that very much in cookbooks. They just tried to make it look fast and easy and just get in there and make it. But I was interested in how they really made the food.

    This is the very first clay pot I ever bought. And I saw this, and I said to the woman, what is this? And she said, it's tripière. And I said, what's a tripière. And she says, it's to cook's tripe. I said, what's tripe?

    I think I was 19. I think I was 18. I didn't know what tripe was. You see, you put all the food in here. I remember, Tunisia, there was about 12 women in the room and I said in French, who makes the best something. I can't remember the dish. And I could see all the heads turn. The same thing in Greece. The same thing everywhere, in Sicily.

    I always got a bunch of women together, and then I would ask about rare dishes. And then I said, I want that -- that's what I want to learn.

    What should I have for low gluten?

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Most Friday mornings, Wolfert can be found browsing the Sonoma farmer's market.

    PAULA WOLFERT: This is the best food in the country. The growing season is longer. The quality is here. The farmers care. For a cook, this is heaven.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Wolfert lives with her husband, Bill Bayer, a bestselling crime fiction writer. Several years ago as she was touring the country to promote her most recent book, Wolfert says she started to suspect she was having neurological problems.

    PAULA WOLFERT: I knew there was something wrong. I just wasn't sure what it was. But I had memory problems. I didn't understand sometimes when people questioned me with complicated questions even about things that I wrote about myself in a book I just finished.

    The first neurologist said is it's mild cognitive impairment. But she did send me to this big scientist, because he does big tests, you know, these trials. And he read it and he said, no, no, no, that's Alzheimer's.

    BILL BAYER:  When Paula first started telling me, she says, I'm worried, I think I'm losing my mind, I can't remember anything.

    I was in denial, and I think most of the people who knew her. There was one time she came up and she said, you know, I forgot how to make an omelet. She was standing in front of the stove. It was a very poignant time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Wolfert began reading everything she could about trying to slow the progression of Alzheimer's, and she turned to the thing she knows best to wage her battle: food.

    PAULA WOLFERT: The kale, the avocado, the blueberries, the coconuts, these are the main ingredients.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Every morning, Wolfert assembles a shake chockful of superfoods and supplements she believes are helping stave off further cognitive decline.

    Some of the ingredients have well-known health benefits, like leafy greens and nuts. Some have not been proven scientifically to boost brain function, like coconut oil. But Wolfert says she's never felt better.

    PAULA WOLFERT: It is tough going, because it's not delicious. I didn't make this to be delicious. I make this to be nutritious. My grandmother told me -- my grandmother told me during the Second World War, we were sitting in the vegetable garden. She said, if you want to win a war, you have got to be willing to fight. This is how I fight.

    BILL BAYER: Alzheimer's is just a crushing word. You don't want to hear that word. But I have been incredibly impressed by the way she's handled this, because I think of how I might have handled it, and I don't think with anywhere near the kind of courage that she's shown.

    PAULA WOLFERT: I have to look at my own recipe because I can never remember anything. Lightly brown. Stir in the tomatoes, crushed red pepper, OK.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Wolfert still occasionally cooks these days, but she now relies on her own cookbooks.

    PAULA WOLFERT: I can't remember what I read two minutes after I read it. That's a real problem. I know what the dish is supposed to taste like. I just don't remember the amounts. I have to check the proportions, and I can't -- I can't remember. I can't remember from going there to here and back again.

    I just -- it's just -- it's not fair that these things happen, but they do, so I just to what I have to, do what I can. If this works in making me nice and healthy, I will be buying it all the time.

    BILL BAYER: Who knows what the future holds and how this will play out. I try not to think too much about it, but, sure, we discuss it, too. What will the future be? That's what's so scary about this, and that's what everyone is very conscious of, because your memory is your self and your ability to recognize and ability to think.

    I miss the testing years, when you would be developing a wonderful dish.


    BILL BAYER: I understand why they're over.

    PAULA WOLFERT: My husband, every once in a while, I couldn't eat like you. I would rather die. I said, no, you wouldn't. , you wouldn't. I want to be here as best I can, and I can't do it about food. I did that for 50 years. That's fine.

    I loved it. I loved every moment of it. I love my friends. I love Alice Waters. But that isn't where my head is right now. My head is with my children, my husband, my friends, and sharing with the Alzheimer's Association whatever I can share, because this is the most important thing I want to say. The shame that people have about their memory loss is -- and the denial that exists and their friends saying, oh, everybody has -- you know, it's senior moments, forget it.

    And by the time they finally become like the old ladies or old men become, it's too far. You can't help -- those people can't be helped. It's too late. It's too late. We have to come out the way people with HIV came out, the way people with cancer came out. We're not going to get enough money from the government or from anybody else unless we stand there and say, hey, I'm not an old zombie. I'm me, and I need help, and all the people around me who are suffering the way I am, we need help.

    But we have to come out and say it. We're worried. We need to do something.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we're cheering you on, Paula.

    Wolfert says she plans to do something by becoming a volunteer advocate for the Alzheimer's Association. Her doctors say they haven't seen signs of any further cognitive decline in the past six months.


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    Architects, engineers, designers and students build their structures for the 17th annual Canstruction competition in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Photo by Tidewater Community College

    Every year in more than 150 cities throughout the globe, architects, engineers, designers and students face off to fight hunger through an annual competition known as Canstruction. The "delicious" rivalry results in 10-foot sculptures built almost entirely of canned foods and then judged in categories including "Structural Ingenuity," "Best Use of Labels," and "Best Meal."

    After the creations have been on display for a few days, they are carefully dismantled and all of the canned goods -- upwards of 30,000 pounds of food from a single competition event -- are donated to local food banks and pantries. Worldwide, last year's Canstructions brought in more than 3.4 million pounds. The goal this year is 4 million.

    Snapshots of winners from the local competitions are shipped to the American Institute of Architects' national convention, where they will be judged for international bragging rights next year.

    Art Beat recently visited the Selden Arcade in Norfolk, Va., to profile the 17th annual Hampton Roads Canstruction. Tune in for Jeffrey Brown's full report on Wednesday evening's PBS NewsHour.

    But first, it's your turn to do a little judging. To which of this year's Norfolk Canstructions would you give top marks? Check out the images and then vote in our poll below.

    "End hunger with a BANG!" -- Tidewater Community College Engineering Club

    With over 11,000 pounds of food, the Tidewater Community College Engineering Club created a bridge waiting to be blown up. You can see the dynamite and TNT below the bridge to symbolize "blowing up hunger."

    "Faceblock" -- PF&A Design

    PF&A Design has competed in Canstruction many times. This year, they created a box with a face trying to get out. Paul Finch from PF&A described it as a person "trying to get out of the box of hunger."

    "DOHn't PLAY with Your Food" -- HBA Architecture & Interior Design

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    RT nhsathletics: FINAL at Masuk: Newtown (11-0) 42, Masuk (7-4) 7. Happy Thanksgiving!

    — Newtown High School (@NHS_TWEETS) November 27, 2013

    The Newtown High School football team finished its season undefeated Tuesday night, the same week the Connecticut State's Attorney released a report about the Dec. 14, 2012 mass shooting at nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    BuzzFeed reports that the Nighthawks dedicated their season to the 26 victims of the shooting, wearing the number 26 and the color green on their helmets. The Hardford Courant also has pictures of the team's "dedicated season."

    Newtown's win in the annual Thanksgiving game secures a No. 1 seed for the team in the state tournament.

    Monday's report revealed the shooter, Adam Lanza, planned the rampage on his own and had an obsession with mass killings. It also concluded that the motive for the attack may never be known.

    H/T Sam Lane

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    WASHINGTON -- Some immigrants who have stayed in the United States longer than they were allowed can soon apply to keep living in the U.S. under another immigration policy change quietly authorized by the Obama administration.

    According to a Nov. 14 policy memorandum from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, some immigrants from 37 Visa Waiver Program countries who are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens may be allowed to stay.

    People from visa waiver countries don't have to get a visa before coming to the U.S., but they can only stay for up to 90 days. The program covers mostly European countries.

    The new policy was issued in mid-November, a day before the administration announced plans to let some immigrant parents, children and spouses of U.S. military personnel stay in the United States.

    By Alicia A. Caldwell, Associated Press

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    A ballot initiative to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour in SeaTac, Wash., has won -- three weeks after Election Day. King County election officials certified the 77 vote margin of victory Tuesday. The Proposition also grants paid sick leave to airport and hospitality workers in SeaTac, the small city surrounding the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. But not long after the official victory, Common Sense SeaTac, the business-backed political action committee that opposed the initiative, announced they are requesting a recount by hand. The losing side has to pay 25 cents per ballot for a recount by hand, which comes to about $1,500. Even small business owners, which would be exempt from having to paying $15 an hour, have objected to the wage hike, claiming that it would divert employees away from their businesses toward airport jobs. At $9.19 an hour, Washington state already has the highest minimum wage in the country, and that will increase statewide to $9.32 an hour in January.

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    Is a bubble boosting the market? Wall Street money manager Doug Dachille thinks so. He points to a smaller bubble that has a lot in common with the recent housing bubble and could be a sign of bigger things to come.

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    #PHOTO: Berlusconi expelled from parliament pic.twitter.com/BBXKs5I08J

    — AFP Photo Department (@AFPphoto) November 27, 2013

    ROME -- The Italian Senate voted Wednesday to expel ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi from Parliament after his tax fraud conviction, the Associated Press reports.

    The 77-year-old prime minister was sentenced in August to a four-year prison term, which has since been reduced to one year of house arrest or community service, for a tax evasion scheme at his media company Mediaset.

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    Comet ISON photographed via a telescope on November 8, 2013. Photo by Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

    While Americans cook their Thanksgiving turkeys on Thursday, a tiny comet called ISON will pass 684,000 miles above the surface of the sun and endure its own roasting. If the fragile little comet survives the trip, ISON just might generate a spectacular show in the northern hemisphere's night sky until Christmas. It will be "a nice holiday comet", said Jim Green, director of the planetary science division at NASA.

    What are the odds the comet survives? Right now, 30 percent, said Carey Lisse, astronomer and head of NASA's Comet ISON observing campaign. The "dirty snowball" is made of dust and ice, and it's delicate. ISON is only about 2/3 to 3/4 of a mile in diameter, while an average comet is about 1.5 miles in diameter, Lisse said. As they pass the sun, comets lose an average of 3 feet of material--an enormous loss for a tiny celestial body like ISON.

    ISON is making its first trip around the sun. It comes from the Oort Cloud which is 6 trillion miles away, well beyond the planets. As a new comet, it doesn't have a thick, "baked" crust like other periodic comets, meaning it's even more likely to crumble into dust and fall into the sun, said Karl Battams, astrophysicist at the Naval Research Laboratory. But even if no large pieces of the comet survive, it may still have a spectacular death.

    "If it becomes a burnt-off cinder and survives, and it doesn't have much 'oomph' left, then it will be faint from the ground," Lisse said. "But I don't think we'll be disappointed."

    Animation of ISON's trajectory. Courtesy NASA/Goddard

    But if any part survives the trip through the sun's outer atmosphere, the scattered dust from the comet could create a beautiful paintbrush in the sky, which is what happened to Comet Lovejoy last year, Lisse said. If that happens, the remains of the comet will travel over the North Pole through December, possibly into the holidays.

    Stargazers can start looking for remains of the comet around December 7, about half an hour before sunrise in the eastern horizon, or after sunset in the western sky. Take some binoculars or a telescope for better visibility, but "your results may vary", Lisse joked.

    Comets lose gases and dust as they approach the sun, creating their characteristic tails which glow as they reflect the sunlight. They are brightest when they are closest to the sun, and Comet ISON will reach its closest point, or perihelion, between 1:00 and 3:30 pm Eastern Time.

    But please, watch the comet safely from your computer, Lisse said. Staring into the midday sun looking for ISON will burn your eyes and cause permanent damage. Eager astronomers can watch its approach starting at 1:00 pm ET on this website, and NASA will host a Google Hangout to chat with astronomers about the comet and its amazing trip around the sun.

    You can also follow the showdown between the sun and Comet ISON on Twitter with the hashtags #ISON#willitbreakup, follow @CometISONnews, and ask NASA scientists questions using #askNASA.

    Comet ISON's trip through the constellations. Courtesy NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Axel Mellinger, Central Michigan Univ.

    "Sungrazer" comets are pretty common; the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite has spotted 900 since 1995. But scientists rarely get this much time to study comets like ISON, Battams said. Since ISON was first spotted in 2012, it's been photographed, measured and scrutinized by telescopes on Earth and in space, and even by instruments on Mars and Mercury as the comet passed the inner planets.

    While it isn't generally visible to the naked eye, Comet ISON emits a brilliant lime-green, a common color for comets, said Adam Block with the Mount Lemmon Sky Center at the University of Arizona who photographed ISON with a telescope.

    But ISON has been "acting weird", Battams said. The comet has gone through flare-ups recently, suddenly growing brighter and then dimming. Its gas and dust emissions began fluctuating, which may mean that the comet has already fallen apart, he said.

    "It's driving us crazy and we're throwing our hands up at times. At the same time, it's fabulous because it's doing something really different and that's what we hope for," Battams said.

    STEREO-A spacecraft's latest images of ISON's approach to the sun, on the right. Courtesy NASA

    Even if it is falling apart, ISON is a great chance to study the sun, said Dean Pesnell, solar physicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. As the comet's ice and dust start evaporating around the sun, they break into particles which become ionized and start to glow. The glowing particles are then drawn to the sun, like iron filings to a magnet, he said.

    "It will light up the sun's magnetic field and we'll see parts of the sun we don't normally get to look at," Pesnell said. "Here we have something going by that will leave tracer pellets and we will know what the magnetic field will do as [the comet] passes through."

    And as ISON falls apart, it will reveal the recipe for the planets, Lisse said. Layers of gas and dust peel off of the comet like an onion, he said, revealing the comets' "ingredients" and how they're made. Scientists know how comets come together to form planets, but they don't know how the dust and ice in the universe forms a comet.

    "Comet ISON is a relic," Lisse said. "You need comets in order to build the planets, and this comet has been in deep freeze in the Oort Cloud halfway to the next star for the last 4.5 billion years...and we are going to watch it bake and boil."

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    Mercy Cabrera, an insurance agent with Sunshine Life and Health Advisors,helps customers navigate the online healthcare marketplace.

    Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Barbara Neff of Santa Monica is one of the roughly 1 million Californians who recently got word that their health insurance coverage would be expiring soon. The canceled plans sparked a political firestorm as people realized President Barack Obama's promise - "If you like your plan, you can keep it" -- didn't apply to everyone.

    But Neff, a 46-year-old self-employed writer, isn't outraged. She's relieved. Even though she makes too much money to receive a subsidy to buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the policy cancellation was good news for her.

    Neff says she's been stuck in a bad plan because treatment for a back problem years ago red-flagged her with a preexisting condition.

    "The deductible has ranged anywhere from $3,000 to as high as $5,000, which means I have to spend that much each year before the insurance even kicks in," she says. "I was rejected [from a more affordable policy] because I'd had a bout of sciatica five years previously that has never returned."

    On Jan. 1, the federal health law prohibits insurers from denying coverage or charging more for such preexisting problems. That's opened an array of options for Neff, who has enrolled in a new plan through California's state-run insurance marketplace, Covered California. On Thursday, the exchange board voted unanimously that it would not extend canceled policies, rejecting the president's proposed fix for the problem.

    Neff's policy has a $2,000 deductible and her premium will go up by $24 a month. Under the federal law, she'll no longer have to pay for preventive care, and she figures that alone will more than make up for the additional premium costs.

    "I've been paying for my mammograms out of pocket and that's $400 to $450 per year," says Neff. "That type of care is 100 percent covered under this new policy."

    Huge deductibles have been the norm for Tim Wilsbach, a 40-year-old TV editor who lives in Culver City with his family. Like Neff, Wilsbach also makes too much to qualify for federal subsidies, so when he received his cancellation notice a few weeks ago, he was worried his premium would go up.

    Wilsbach has two plans for his family. The one being canceled is a bare bones policy with an $11,000 deductible that he has for himself and his four-year-old son.

    "It was not a great policy," he says, "which is essentially why we had a second plan for my wife which we paid a little more for."

    Wilsbach and his wife are planning to have a second baby, so they bought a policy for her with better coverage and a $5,000 deductible.

    After getting the cancellation notice, Wilsbach checked out plans on the Covered California website and he was pleasantly surprised. He found a plan for the whole family that offers broader coverage, a much lower $4,000 deductible and a more affordable monthly premium.

    "Our premium went down, not quite 100 bucks, and just looking through what the plan covers versus what used to be covered, yeah, I'm quite happy about it," Wilsbach says.

    Jane Bradford found that she would save money when she shopped for a new health care plan in the online marketplace after her old plan was cancelled. (Photo courtesy of Bradford family)

    Jane Bradford, 52, is a stay-at-home mom in Pasadena. She's losing the HMO insurance she has for herself and her three kids, who are 16, 21 and 23. Her policy offers low co-pays for doctor visits and a relatively low $3,000 family deductible, but she'll shed no tears to see it go. Bradford says that's because she's found several plans that will cost hundreds less in monthly premiums - even though her husband's income is too high for the family to qualify for a federal subsidy.

    "Saving possibly $400 or more a month is awesome, so I'm not sad at all," Bradford says.

    None of this comes as a surprise to Micah Weinberg, a senior researcher at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute in San Francisco.

    "A lot of the anecdotes about people having policies canceled and gigantic increases are real but not representative of what's happening more broadly in the marketplace," Weinberg says.

    Weinberg predicts many people who are losing their policies will come out ahead -- even if their premiums go up -- because of lower deductibles, full coverage of preventive care and no penalties for preexisting conditions. What's more, he says, health insurance will almost certainly be cheaper for those who qualify for subsidies - in California, that's an estimated 1.9 million people.

    Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. This story is part of a partnership that includes NPR, Southern California Public Radio, and Kaiser Health News.

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    GWEN IFILL: A major winter storm system slammed into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast today, just as millions of Americans hit the roads, rails and skies for the Thanksgiving holiday.

    A dismal mix of rain, snow, wind, and sleet greeted holiday travelers, who braved long airport lines, heavy traffic and dangerous road conditions on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

    CHRIS ZONA, traveler: I just lost control and hit the side of the bridge, and I guess I spun, and landed over there.

    GWEN IFILL: North of Pittsburgh, this man managed to escape with minor injuries after flipping his car.

    And up and down the East Coast, the wintry mix led vehicles to spin out and drivers to throttle back.

    WOMAN: Yes, I usually try to slow down a little bit and -- even though I have a lead foot.

    ROB POLLARD, traveler: Definitely the speed limit, a little bit up under. And check your tires. You know, that's very important on the road.

    GWEN IFILL: Some 39 million drivers are expected to hit the road over the long holiday weekend.

    But for those taking to the skies, about 200 flights were canceled earlier today, mostly in the busy Northeast hubs of Newark, Philadelphia, and New York's La Guardia. While there were many weather-related delays, overall, the situation wasn't as bad as once feared.

    At Washington's Reagan International Airport, passengers were trying to stay positive.

    MICHAEL KENNEDY, traveler: I keep hearing that everything is going to be delayed, so I tried to get on an earlier flight. Now they're saying that flight is full, so I might be stuck here for a while. I don't know.


    THOMAS WALKER, traveler: So, we arrived two hours early for our flight because we were concerned about weather delays. And we do, in fact, have weather delays. Hopefully, we will get out under a three-hour range.

    GWEN IFILL: It was a busy day at nearby Union Station, too...

    MAN: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a very full train this afternoon.

    GWEN IFILL: ... where train passengers said they were glad they'd avoided the roads.

    KATE EPTING, traveler: Could be on a bus, so I'm thinking this is better than being on a bus.

    GWEN IFILL: The National Weather Service says more than a foot of snow could still fall in Western Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont before lifting tomorrow.

    But, in many areas, the storm's expected to clear out as temperatures fall through the evening. That may be too late for Macy's annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Dancers donned ponchos in Herald Square, practicing their routines in the rain. But high winds are threatening to take the air out of the larger-than-life balloons that parade down Broadway for the first time in more than 40 years; characters like Snoopy and SpongeBob SquarePants might be grounded. Officials plan to make that call early tomorrow.


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    GWEN IFILL: For the latest on the storms and how they are affecting holiday travel, we turn to Bernie Rayno, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.

    Bernie, as far as late fall, early winter storms go, how big is this one?

    BERNIE RAYNO, AccuWeather: It's a big storm, certainly, but it's certainly storms that we have seen in the past.

    And, typically, these kind of storms produce mostly rain along the East Coast, with the snows across interior parts of Pennsylvania and New York state, and that's certainly what we have had with this storm. Unfortunately, this storm occurred on the worst possible day, that being the busiest travel day of the year.

    GWEN IFILL: So, where along -- the busiest travel day of the year, where there are some pretty big transportation corridors. Where is it hitting hardest? We're talking ice in some place, rain in some place, snow in others?

    BERNIE RAYNO: At this point right now, the biggest impact has been the rain.

    Back edge of the rain now is pushing through Philadelphia. We're going to continue to get soaking rains from Boston all the way up toward Portland, Maine. At least the strong winds that we had out ahead of this storm have eased for now. So, I-95, Southern New England up in into Maine, still some slowdowns.

    Watch yourself if you're traveling in New York State and Pennsylvania. While we're not looking at any big amounts of snow and ice from here on out, there certainly still can be some slippery spots on the roads and especially the bridges and overpasses.

    GWEN IFILL: It sounds like the most treacherous part of this is the slippery roads, as well as the potential for ice on power outages. Have we had any reports of that?

    BERNIE RAYNO: Oh, we certainly have had that over the last 24 hours, especially across New York State and Pennsylvania.

    But, thankfully, now, most of the precipitation with the storm is occurring in the warm air. So the snow and ice that we were seeing last night, mostly just some snow showers, still some slippery spots on roads. But things have gotten a little better where it was snowing in the last 24 hours.


    GWEN IFILL: How are the winds? I know that there were a lot of worries that some of these Thanksgiving Day parades might not be able to happen.

    BERNIE RAYNO: Well, that's still a close call in New York City for tomorrow, because, behind this storm, while we certainly had lots of wind out ahead of it, behind the storm, the wind will start picking up.

    Certainly, this evening, in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., late tonight, tomorrow morning in New York City, we're going to see gusts between 30-35 miles per hour, but, in New York City, gusts around 20 to 30 tomorrow morning. That may cause some problems.

    But, from what I understand for the Macy's Day Parade, you need sustained winds between 20 and 25 miles per hour. I don't think they're going to be that strong on Thanksgiving morning, but it's certainly going to be a close call.

    GWEN IFILL: And by the time everybody sits down with the turkey tomorrow, most of this will be passed?

    BERNIE RAYNO: It will be long gone. But you know what the big story is going to be is the cold. In fact, we're looking at record cold temperatures on our Wednesday night, Thursday morning, all the way down into parts of Florida and Texas.

    In fact, we're looking at temperatures below freezing south of I-10 across the Florida Panhandle. So, it is certainly not going to feel like the end of November. It is going to feel more like January.

    GWEN IFILL: Bernie, you're making me cold just thinking about it.


    GWEN IFILL: Bernie Rayno of AccuWeather, thank you so much.

    BERNIE RAYNO: My pleasure.


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    GWEN IFILL: Another aspect of the health care law will be delayed, this time, the online health insurance marketplace for small businesses.

    Obama administration officials announced the one-year delay during a conference call with reporters today. They said pushing back the deadline for implementation would give the troubled healthcare.gov Web site time to make needed fixes. We will get more details on the delay and what it means to small business owners after this news summary.

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai softened some of his security demands today. He told Radio Free Europe he'd sign a deal with the U.S. if military raids on Afghan homes end and if the U.S. helps restart peace talks with the Taliban. He said, "Whenever the Americans meet these two demands of mine, I am ready to sign the agreement." That agreement would govern the future of American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014. The U.S. wants it signed by the end of the year, but Karzai has said it can wait until next spring.

    A string of attacks across Iraq left at least 36 people dead today. The violence ranged from suicide bombings to drive-by shootings to an assault on a police station. Separately, police found the corpses of 13 men killed execution-style in Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad. The men had no identification on them and their legs and arms had been tied before they were shot in the head.

    One more person was rescued today from a sailboat that capsized in the Bahamas, bringing the total rescues to 111. But officials estimate between 20 and 30 of the Haitian migrants crammed on board died. U.S. Coast Guard video shows survivors clinging to the overloaded boat's hull and mast. Others grabbed driftwood and took refuge on small islands nearby. Officials think the boat was headed to the U.S.

    An accident at Brazil's main World Cup stadium in Sao Paulo two workers today. A crane collapsed while it was lifting a section of the soccer stadium's roof into place. The metal structure sliced through the stadium's outer wall, destroying rows of seats. Brazil's preparations for next year's World Cup have been plagued with problems, including delays, accidents and overspending.

    The prime minister of Latvia resigned today in the wake of a supermarket collapse that triggered public outrage in the Baltic state; 54 people were killed last week when the building's roof collapsed during peak shopping hours. The Latvian government came under fire for its lack of oversight of building projects.

    Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis acknowledged the disaster in his announcement.

    PRIME MINISTER VALDIS DOMBROVSKIS, Latvia (through interpreter): Considering the tragedy in Zolitude, and taking into account that a government with a clear majority in Parliament is needed to solve the situation that has developed in the country, I announce my resignation from the post of prime minister, taking political responsibility for the tragedy.

    GWEN IFILL: A criminal investigation into the supermarket's construction is under way.

    The Italian Senate expelled former Premier Silvio Berlusconi from parliament over a tax fraud conviction. Despite the move, the 77-year old pledged to stay involved in politics. Without a seat in Parliament, however, Berlusconi is no longer immune from prosecution. He has multiple cases pending against him, including political bribery and paying for sex with a minor.

    On Wall Street today, stocks headed into the holiday break with record highs for both the Dow and the S&P 500. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 24 points to close at 16,097. The Nasdaq rose 27 points to close above 4,044.

    The first book printed in America sold at auction last night for a record $14.2 million. The Bay Psalm Book was auctioned off at Sotheby's in New York. It was printed in 1640 by the leaders of the Massachusetts Bay colony. Only 11 copies are known to survive.

    Auctioneer David Redden explained what the buyer intends to do with it.

    DAVID REDDEN, Sotheby's: It sold for $14.165 million to David Rubenstein, a philanthropist who will be sharing it with libraries around this country and eventually putting it on long-term deposit at one of those libraries.

    GWEN IFILL: The seller of the book was Boston's Old South Church, which sold it to finance its ongoing ministries. The church still has another copy.

    President Obama kicked off the Thanksgiving holiday early at the White House today with the traditional annual turkey pardon. Flanked by his daughters, the president officially saved a bird Named popcorn from ending up on a Thanksgiving table. A second backup turkey named Caramel was also pardoned, but didn't appear at the ceremony.

    Pardoned turkeys end up at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate in Virginia.



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