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

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    Lorenzo Brunato, 80, suffers from early stages of dementia, but he enjoys a friendly game of Bingo with other people who are experiencing the same ailment. Doctors say there are a number of steps, like socializing regularly, that can be taken to reduce the risk factors of dementia and Alzheimer's. Photo by Vince Talotta/Toronto Star

    When Jamie Tyrone found out she had a 91 percent genetic risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, she saw only two paths ahead of her -- live in fear of the debilitating dementia, or do everything she could to stave it off.

    Tyrone chose the latter, and five years later, she is practically a celebrity at The Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Arizona, where researchers hope to someday prevent onset of the brain disease.

    "My life was changed when I was given this information," Tyrone said, "so I will do whatever it takes."

    Tyrone has volunteered for a biomarker study at Banner Alzheimer's Institute. The study will help scientists track the development of the disease.

    Jamie Tyrone, right, participates in a study to help scientists track the development of Alzheimer's disease. Photo by Dan Caston/PBS NewsHour

    "They need research subjects and I feel it's part of my moral duty," Tyrone said.

    The research is part of a major new initiative at the institute to shift the focus from years of disappointing drug trials aimed at treating the disease toward new trials designed to prevent its onset.

    "Our strategy is: Let's focus on people who are at very high risk," said director Dr. Pierre Tariot. "If the treatment works, we'll be able to see a slowing of the emergence of the disease that would otherwise be inevitable."

    Only 2 to 4 percent of the population has a 91 percent lifetime risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer's.

    In the hopes of attracting volunteers for the study, the Banner Alzheimer's Institute has created an online registry.

    "There's a number of different prevention studies that need to take place," said Banner's Jessica Langbaum. "It can be as simple as answering an online survey, coming in to be tested, or it could be participating in a clinical trial."

    Jamie Tyrone is putting her own stamp on advancing research. She has founded B.A.B.E.S, an acronym for Beating Alzheimer's by Embracing Science.

    "We're an all-volunteer organization, and the money we raise will go towards the most promising areas in research," said Tyrone.

    Tune in to Monday evening's PBS NewsHour broadcast for more about the recent research shift from treatment to prevention.

    In the meantime, here are some lifestyles changes you can make to reduce the risk factors of Alzheimer's, courtesy of Carol Steinberg, president of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.

    10 Tips for Reducing Risk Factors for Alzheimer's Disease, According to Carol Steinberg

    1. Make a healthy lifestyle a way of life

    While it's best to start young and continue on with healthy lifestyle habits, adapting successful aging strategies at any age -- even late in life -- is a smart move. Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center in Los Angeles, and a member of AFA's Medical and Scientific Advisory Board, studied this concept with the help of the RAND Corporation, and estimated that there might be one million fewer cases of Alzheimer's disease than anticipated within five years if everyone in the United States adopted just one healthy brain lifestyle. The rule of thumb: What's good for the heart is good for the brain.

    2. Get checked -- regularly

    Evidence continues to mount that several health conditions, including diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and metabolic syndrome, are linked to Alzheimer's disease -- so it's important to control these risk factors. It helps to know your family health history, especially regarding these conditions; the U.S. Surgeon General's office provides a tool to construct a family portrait.

    Be regimented about having an annual physical exam, and make sure your clinician checks your brain as well as your body. One of you should bring up the word "memory." It's critical to be proactive on this front, since clinicians miss 25 to 90 percent of cases of dementia. If you're a Medicare beneficiary, take advantage of the various preventive screenings -- including detection of cognitive impairment -- that are part of the new Medicare Annual Wellness Exam. And follow doctors' orders.

    3. You are what you eat

    Since obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, high cholesterol and other conditions that can trigger Alzheimer's disease, keep your weight and body mass in check. It's not only about how much you eat, but what you are eating. Choosing the right foods can lower cell damage. Strive for a balanced diet, chock full of foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, sardines and nuts; and a rainbow array of antioxidant fruits and vegetables, including leafy green vegetables. Your banned list should include foods such as red meats, processed foods, saturated fats and added sugars.

    4. Get moving

    From a successful aging vantage point, physical activity serves multiple purposes, including staying trim and de-stressing. Regular exercise can keep blood flowing to your brain to rejuvenate and even replenish brain cells. Ideally, take a brisk 30-minute walk each day. Consider other aerobic exercises like jogging or kickboxing.

    5. Exercise your brain

    The brain has the ability to create new neurons, so use it. Brain boosters can include puzzles, online games and reading. Learn something new, from attempting a foreign language or musical instrument to even brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand.

    6. One is the loneliest number

    People who regularly socialize are much less likely to experience cognitive decline when compared to those who are lonely or isolated, according to the latest research. Stay connected with friends, volunteer and join social clubs or special interest groups. Better yet, punch up the power of mental and physical activities by adding a social component. For example, read the newspaper and then discuss current events with a friend; go to a museum with a companion and critique the collection together; or check out SilverSneakers, a fun, energizing program -- available through some Medicare plans -- that encourages physical activity and offers social engagement.

    7. Feed your soul

    In addition to physical fitness and mental fitness, add spiritual fitness to your regular schedule of activities. Chronic stress is a major health hazard that ups the risk for various illnesses, including depression and weight gain, which can boost the chances of developing Alzheimer's disease.

    One study found that relaxed individuals had a 50 percent less chance of developing dementia than those who were overanxious and socially isolated. Manage stress by getting a massage, using aromatherapy, meditating, practicing yoga, journaling, praying and even sneaking into a quiet, private space every now and then.

    8. Control vices

    Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption. On the latter, some studies show the brain- health benefits of red wine. But the key, as always, is moderation. According to Dr. Richard E. Powers, a member of AFA's Medical and Scientific Advisory Board, alcohol consumption should be limited to one ounce a day -- and zero for people with dementia. Prolonged and excessive drinking of alcohol can cause alcohol-related dementia, one of the most common types of dementia in older adults.

    9. Safeguard your environment

    More and more research indicates that certain moderate to severe head injuries and repeated concussions may increase the risk of developing dementia later in life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury for all ages, and of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults. One out of three people aged 65 or older falls each year. So clear the clutter, fix uneven walkways, install banisters, add grab bars near bathroom fixtures, remove scatter rugs and improve lighting.

    10. Get an attitude adjustment

    Do you see the cup as half empty or half full? It helps to view life from a positive perspective. Laughter, compassion and happiness can feed the soul. And, as the saying goes, "Dance like there's nobody watching."

    Related Content

    Top 10 Food Tips for Boosting Brain Health

    Food writer Paula Wolfert reflects on cooking to cope with Alzheimer's

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    Life on the ocean floor looks to be be exciting if you're a crab net.

    Attaching a GoPro camera to his baited trap over two days in December in Bunburry Australia, YouTube user Scott Murray captured video showing that a crab net can be a popular attraction while under the sea, and not just for crabs. Throughout its numerous stays in the water, the net is visited by schools of fish, hungry crabs, sting rays and even a curious bottlenose dolphin.

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    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a study Monday on how best to keep the invasive species Asian carp from overwhelming the Great Lakes and threatening the area's multi-billion dollar fishing industry. Ash-har Quraishi of WTTW Chicago reported in 2012 how fishermen and scientists were catching the fish in an attempt to keep the invasive species' population in check. Video by WTTW

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a long-awaited study Monday that listed options on how to best keep the Great Lakes' waterways clear of Asian carp, an invasive species that has threatened the region's $7-billion-a-year fishing industry and the mid-country ecosystem since the 1990s.

    The Corps' study -- the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study, GLMRIS -- offered eight options on preventing 13 invasive species -- including varieties of Asian carp -- from transferring between the aquatic pathways of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi waterways. Congress authorized the Corps to conduct its study in 2007.

    The proposal includes a "No New Federal Action" option that requires no additional cost and relies on the existing electric barrier between the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan that has been, for years, the last line of defense against the Asian carp.

    Half of the other options cost at least $15 billion. The most expensive option, topping $18 billion, calls for a physical barrier between the lakes and the Mississippi River basins and would take 25 years to complete. The study explains that two new reservoirs and tunnels would be needed to manage the flooding risks resulting from this option.

    The completed project times for almost all the options are 25 years. Several of the other options suggest physical barriers at different locations. The study refrains from recommending any one option.

    At the Big Muddy National Fish & Wildlife Refuge in Missouri, an Asian carp jumps high out of the water to escape biologists' nets. Photo by Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

    Asian carp are native to China and were first introduced to the U.S. in the 1970s to control algae build-up at sewage treatment plants in the South, the USGS said. The Asian carp escaped into the Mississippi River and its tributaries and eventually made their way up north to Midwest waters.

    Of the four Asian carp species, the most feared culprits include the silver carp -- which can weigh as much as 60 pounds and are known for rocketing out of the water -- and the non-flying bighead carp, which can swell to 100 pounds in size. Asian carp are ravenous creatures that reproduce quickly and consume between 20 to 120 percent of their body weight in plankton each day, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

    A 2012 U.S.-Canadian study concluded that as few as 10 mature females and even fewer males could establish a foothold in the lakes that crowds out the native fish populations. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also reported in December that, while there's no evidence that the invasive fish are bypassing the electric barriers, Asian carp can still evade the electrical field with the help of passing vessels.

    "Initial findings indicate that vessel-induced residual flows can trap fish and transport them beyond the electrical barriers, and that certain barge configurations may impact barrier electric field strength," the report said. "Additionally, the preliminary DIDSON, dual-frequency identification SONAR, findings identified the potential for small fish, between two to four inches, to pass the barrier array in large groups, or schools."

    USGS research also confirmed in October that the grass carp, a species of Asian carp, were found living and breeding in the Sandusky River in Ohio as "the result of natural reproduction within the Lake Erie basin." If grass carp reach high densities in the area, the report said, it could disrupt early development of native fish populations.

    More troubling, finding the less-aggressive grass carp in the Great Lakes watershed is "an indication that other species of Asian carp -- silver, bighead and black carp -- might be able to reproduce there," the report said.

    Three bighead carp were caught in Lake Erie in the 1990s, but dismissed as accidents, The New York Times reported. Bone analyses years later revealed that the fish had apparently lived in the lake for several years. The Times also reported that Asian carp DNA was found in Lake Michigan last year, although the source of said DNA remains unclear.

    As a means to curtail the species' upward migration into the Great Lakes, Ash-har Quraishi of WTTW Chicago reported in 2012 that scientists and fisherman took to catching and marketing Asian carp, hoping to change a nuisance into a lucrative business for commercial fishermen.

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    GWEN IFILL:  Bitter arctic cold gripped the Midwest, pushed eastward and dove into the Deep South today.  Millions of people across dozens of states faced unheard-of temperatures. 

    The frigid cold rushed in on the heels of near-blizzard conditions, emptying roads of traffic in parts of Illinois, while, in Michigan, accidents littered highways in icy, snowy conditions.  And St. Louis cleaned up from Sunday's one-day record snowfall: 10.6 inches. 

    But the real danger was the cold.  Indiana Gov. Mike Pence urged people to use common sense. 

    GOV. MIKE PENCE, R-Ind.: If you can stay in today, stay in all day today.  We ask you to heed signs about road closures.  We ask you to heed the leadership and announcements of local communities.  And they are for your safety, and it's important that we take this weather event very, very seriously. 

    GWEN IFILL:  The arctic air, known as a polar vortex, stretched all the way from the Dakotas to the Deep South.  Wind chill warnings and advisories were in effect all the way to the Gulf Coast through Tuesday. 

    And temperatures just kept dropping, to minus-16 in Bloomington, Minn., and with the breeze of a windchill, makes that minus-40.  Officials warned that frostbite can happen in just five minutes in temperatures that low.  People who did go outside bundled up to ward off the subzero temperatures. 

    MAN:  I have got a heavy ski jacket and my scarf, and -- but I have got 12 blocks to walk in downtown Chicago. 

    GWEN IFILL:  Some plunged into the deep freeze anyway.  This Green Bay Packers fan went to extremes to see Sunday's NFL playoff game with the San Francisco 49ers. 

    WOMAN:  I have four layers of long johns, two sets of snow pants, four shirts, a sweatshirt and a coat. 

    GWEN IFILL:  The Packers lost. 

    Today, the cold and snow shuttered school systems in the entire state of Minnesota and in St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, and Detroit.  For air travelers, it was hard to get anywhere, with more than 8,000 flights canceled since Friday, more than 3,000 today.  

    WOMAN:  We finally got on the plane about an hour late, headed out, de-iced, started to de-ice, stopped de-icing, waited, de-iced again, headed for the runway, waited, and then turned around and went back to the gate again, and waited, and then finally got off the plane. 

     (LAUGHTER)

    WOMAN:  So there was a lot of waiting, but here we are.  What can you do? 

    GWEN IFILL:  The low, low temperatures are expected to last through tomorrow, then gradually inch their way into double digits by the end of the week.  


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    GWEN IFILL: Double-digit temperatures probably sound good right now to both of our guests, a pair of mayors who are dealing with the very real impact of this in their cities: Betsy Hodges from Minneapolis and Francis Slay of St. Louis. 

    Welcome to you both.

    Mayor Hodges, you're known as being pretty tough people in Minnesota.  Is this as bad as you have ever seen it? 

    MAYOR BETSY HODGES, Minneapolis:  You know, it hasn't been this cold in many years in Minneapolis. 

    But we -- we know how to handle it here in Minneapolis.  We have been preparing for quite some time, especially given we know the impact climate change will have on our city over time. 

    GWEN IFILL:  Well, Mayor Slay, let me ask you the same question.  They're pretty tough in Minneapolis, but St. Louis, you don't think of as being a place that is weather-stricken like this. 

    MAYOR FRANCIS SLAY, St. Louis:  Yes, this is a very unusual weather event. 

    It's not so of the amount of snow we received.  It's the bitter cold.  We haven't had subzero highs, temperatures, for many, many years in St. Louis, so it's been very, very dangerous.  But we have -- our biggest concerns have been, our oldest, our youngest, our -- most low-income residents as well as our homeless residents in St. Louis. 

    GWEN IFILL:  Mayor Hodges, you're the pro.  Tell us, how do you prepare for something like this? 

    BETSY HODGES:  Well, I mean, certainly, you know, we encourage folks, if they need to, to stay in.  The governor canceled schools statewide.  Our school system is also going to be shut tomorrow.  In our city, we have delayed garbage collection for a day. 

    The folks who work outside, we need to make sure they have the protections that they need, especially our first-responders.  You know, we make sure they have the protection they need, but they are heroes.  And they are doing their jobs in this cold. 

    GWEN IFILL:  How do residents respond to this?  Do they just say, oh, it's -- it's cold, we know what cold is in January in Minnesota, and go about their business, or do they take this more seriously this time? 

    BETSY HODGES:  I think it's both.  You know, people take it seriously, but we know how to handle it.  And so we -- you know, our protocols come into play.  There's a lot of phrases like, oh, it's very brisk outside.  It's very brisk. 

     (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL:  Brisk sounds like it is an understatement.

    Mayor Slay, you also have to worry, as you pointed out, by the most vulnerable among you.  Do you have homeless considerations that you have to take into effect, people who don't have shelter? 

    FRANCIS SLAY:  We do. 

    And we have opened up emergency overflow shelters and we have got a lot of organizations here in St. Louis who have been working together, St. Louis City, St. Louis County.  And it has been very, very successful.  We have not turned anyone down. 

    The numbers are up.  But they seem to be -- people that are attending these have been very comfortable and seem to be very satisfied.  I visited one of those shelters today.  The other thing we're doing is, for our homeless seniors -- our homebound seniors, who may not have someone checking on them, we have a functional needs registry, where we call thousands of these homebound seniors to see how they're doing. 

    If we don't hear back from them, we check on them.  So we're out checking on them as well.  And certainly we're concerned about our lowest-income residents, who have problems with their utility bills.  We do have an organization, Heat Up St. Louis, where if someone can't pay their utility bills, it's a private organization that will help pay those bills for them, so they can keep their heat on and keep their family safe. 

    GWEN IFILL:  Mayor Hodges, same question to you.  How do you take -- do you take special precautions to deal with the most vulnerable among you? 

    BETSY HODGES:  Absolutely, we do. 

    I mean, the biggest thing we need to do is get the word out to people that this is happening and what services are available and are provided to them.  We have a very robust program for working with homeless folks.  And we need -- you know, we make sure that they get what they need as well. 

    And kids, you know, I mean, the schools were canceled because we don't want kids waiting out in the cold.  We don't want, you know, the danger to hit them, if we can.  But like I said, we're pretty hearty people.  This is not unusual for us.  We have been preparing for weather events like this for many, many years, and people are pretty familiar with what needs to be done. 

    GWEN IFILL:  Do you have -- are you hoping for, are you counting on the prospect of warmth any time soon, Mayor Hodges? 

    BETSY HODGES:  Well, it sounds like we're going to be warming up into the 20s or the 30s this weekend, which is about 50 or 60 degrees warmer than it is now, so that sounds pretty good to folks around here. 

    GWEN IFILL:  How about you, Mayor Slay? 

    FRANCIS SLAY:  Warm weather is on its way.  We will be in the 20s tomorrow.  It looks like, by Wednesday, it will be up in the 30s, and by the weekend, it could be up to 50 degrees. 

    So we're looking at some pretty quick thawing.  But, in the meantime, it's still going to be very dangerous, and our street crews and others are out cleaning the streets still.  It is still going to be dangerous for people to drive.  So, they have got to be careful, they have got to safe, they have got to smart and be very patient. 

    GWEN IFILL:  Mayor Slay, we wish you thawing in St. Louis.

    And, Mayor Hodges, stay out of the briskness in Minnesota.

    Thank you so much. 

     (LAUGHTER)

    BETSY HODGES:  Thank you very much. 

    FRANCIS SLAY:  Thank you. 

    BETSY HODGES:  Thank you.  


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    GWEN IFILL:  The Senate returned from its holiday break today and took up the issue of restoring long-term unemployment benefits.  Democrats needed 60 votes to proceed on the issue, and vowed to keep up at if they fail.  We will explore the issue further and talk to the secretary of labor later in the program.

    Janet Yellen won Senate confirmation this evening to lead the Federal Reserve.  She will be the first woman to run the Central Bank, taking over from Ben Bernanke, who is stepping down after eight years as chairman.  Yellen has served as vice chair for the past three years.

    In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appealed to the people of Fallujah to drive out al-Qaida militants who seized control there last week.  Iraqi troops have encircled the Sunni-dominated city, but Maliki has not yet ordered them to move in.  We will look into what's behind the growing conflict right after the news summary.

    The same al-Qaida group that's active in Iraq is also at the target of new infighting among rebel groups in Syria.  A coalition of other factions attacked the militants on Friday in Aleppo and Idlib province.  Fighting spread today to the city of Raqqa in the east.

    Peace talks to end three weeks of fighting in South Sudan are still stalled.  Negotiations technically began Saturday in neighboring Ethiopia, but the two sides have yet to hold face-to-face discussions.  In South Sudan today, President Salva Kiir faulted the African Union and United Nations for not doing more to help his government stop a rebellion.

    SALVA KIIR, South Sudanese President:  They should have come out very openly condemning these people who took this action.  There was no reason.  But, if they have decided to keep quiet, that means, you know, it is their failure to uphold the constitution and their responsibilities.

    GWEN IFILL:  The violence has killed more than 1,000 people so far.

    The Supreme Court put a hold today on same-sex marriages in Utah, at least for now.  The hold will stay in effect while the state appeals a lower court's ruling that lifted a ban on same-sex marriages.  Since that decision, more than 900 gay and lesbian couples have married in Utah.

    Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has ended her U.S. Senate bid in Wyoming.  She'd mounted a primary challenge to incumbent Republican Mike Enzi.  Cheney didn't mention the resulting party rift today.  Instead, in a statement, she said, "Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign."

    A Pennsylvania woman known as Jihad Jane was sentenced today to 10 years in federal prison.  Colleen LaRose pleaded guilty to plotting to kill a Swedish artist in 2009 for depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a dog.  In Philadelphia today, she told a federal judge that she is no longer obsessed with radical Islam.

    The cost of keeping Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River could top $18 billion.  The Army Corps of Engineers gave that figure today as its high-end estimate to stop the invasive species.  It offered eight possible plans, from physically separating the waterways to using electric barriers.

    On Wall Street today, stocks fell to start the first full trading week of the new year.  The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 45 points to close at 16,425.  The Nasdaq fell 18 points to close at 4,113.

     


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    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Today, the Obama administration announced it will accelerate sales and deliveries of military equipment to Iraq, as that country's government continues to fight for control of two key cities. 

    Gunfire echoed across Fallujah today, as al-Qaida militants held on to the city they overran last week, while Iraqi army tanks lined the outskirts.  The military held off an all-out assault.  Instead, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki urged Sunni tribal leaders to help remove the militants.  One of the leaders said meetings were under way to try to return the city to government control. 

    SHEIK ALI AL-MEHEMDI, Tribal Leader (through translator):  Tribesmen are in constant communication to impose security and expel armed men out of the city.  We are about to recall the police forces to the city to assume security responsibility after the artillery shelling stops. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  But, in the streets, al-Qaida fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant warned of retribution. 

    FALLUJA MILITARY COUNCIL MEMBER (through interpreter):  The revolutionaries of our tribes in Fallujah have resolved to punish the tribesmen who support the sectarian government forces. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  The militants also seized nearby Ramadi last week, also in Anbar province, where Sunni hostility to the Shiite-led government is centered.  It boiled over last April, when security forces assaulted a Sunni protest camp, sparking months of bombings across Iraq. 

    On Saturday, Maliki warned Sunnis against aiding extremists. 

    NOURI AL-MALIKI, Iraqi Prime Minister (through interpreter):  I am calling on those who are deluding themselves to reconsider.  They have been involved without knowing in supporting al-Qaida projects and protecting it in several ways, including giving media and political support. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Fallujah is where American troops suffered some of their greatest losses before the final withdrawal two years ago. 

    Yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry ruled out sending troops back in. 

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:  We're not contemplating putting boots on the ground.  This is their fight, but we're going to help them in their fight. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Today, White House officials said part of that help will come in the form of new surveillance drones to help track insurgents. 

    So how did al-Qaida-linked militants make these gains in Western Iraq, and what is at stake for the U.S.? 

    For that, we turn to James Jeffrey.  He was the U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2010 to 2012.  And Jane Arraf, she's a freelancer for Al-Jazeera America and "The Christian Science Monitor" who has been reporting from Iraq since 1991.  She spent eight years as CNN's Baghdad bureau chief. 

    Thank you both.  It's good to have you with us. 

    JAMES JEFFREY, Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq:  Thank you. 

    JANE ARRAF, Al-Jazeera:  Thank you. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Jane Arraf, let me start with you.  You were telling us today this is a situation that has been building for many months. 

    JANE ARRAF:  It has. 

    And I think while the West was ignoring Iraq, essentially, the country has become partitioned.  And in Fallujah -- Fallujah is really just -- it's less than 40 miles from the center of Baghdad, right, but to get to Fallujah, you have to pass roadblocks.  The army has essentially sealed off the town, the same way they have sealed off other Sunni areas. 

    It's been a year of grievances, a year of protests.  And as the American military always used to say and the American State Department, there's no military solution to this.  But the political solution that people feel we should have been seeing just hasn't been there. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  And what has been behind Prime Minister Maliki's moves to isolate, to seal off the Sunnis in this part of the country, the Anbar province?

    JANE ARRAF:  It's really easy to see this, I think, as a sectarian conflict, Sunni vs. Shia, but I think that's oversimplifying it in a very complicated country in a really complicated, increasingly complicated region. 

    At the heart of Maliki's decisions, I think, having covered him for many years, is the real fear that his government is in a precarious position.  It's the only Shia-led government, essentially, in the Middle East, and he firmly believes that given half a chance Sunnis will come from Anbar and other places, tear down the barriers in the Green Zone and come and kill them all.  It's that basic.  It's a fight for survival. 

    And that is at the heart of it. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  And, Ambassador Jeffrey, so what effect has that strategy had on the Sunni population in Iraq?

    JAMES JEFFREY:  Well, it has isolated them and alienated them.  but this would have been bearable if it wasn't for the situation in Syria.  That has provided an al-Qaida cousin group, the ISIS, ground to develop themselves to dig in, to receive a great deal of money and weapons and recruits from around the Middle East. 

    And they have now united with the remnants of the former al-Qaida in Iraq group.  And what we see is al-Qaida taking -- taking the offensive, really. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Now, the al-Qaida linked militants are Sunni as well.  How -- how much sympathy, how much alliance is there between them and the Sunni tribes in Iraq? 

    JAMES JEFFREY:  Well, it's almost down to a personal level. 

    In general, the tribes who of course rebelled against the al-Qaida-controlled areas of Anbar province back in 2006-2007 have grievances against al-Qaida that at the moment go more deep than the grievances against the Iraqi government.  Iraq, remember, is still primarily 80 percent a Kurdish, a Shia Arab state, so there is no danger of the al-Qaida people overrunning the country. 

    The question is control in these areas.  Right now, Maliki can quasi-count on the support of most of the tribes in this three-way battle against al-Qaida. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  So, Jane, we read today that Maliki, that the government forces have now surrounded Fallujah.  At least that's the way it's described in the wire reports. 

    What are you hearing?  And are they -- are they in -- and Maliki has called on the Sunni tribal leaders to drive out the al-Qaida militants on their own.  Is that something they're capable of doing? 

    JANE ARRAF:  That is an absolutely extraordinary statement, because really what we're talking about are people -- let alone the tribal leaders -- we're talking about a city that in 2003 was essentially taken over by al-Qaida. 

    They had rigged bombs in a lot of the houses.  There were trip wires almost everywhere.  And what we're talking about now is another version of al-Qaida.  They have had a lot of practice and they have come from Syria, where there are foreign fighters, where there is money pouring in.  This is not the al-Qaida of 2003.  And it's still a city of people and of tribes who are not that fond of the Iraqi government. 

    They're going to form alliances, but one of the things we have to really talk about, I think, is the Sahwa, the Awakening, the tribes who turned against al-Qaida and fought with the American forces and then were essentially abandoned by the United States. 

    Their leaders have been assassinated.  They're the people who are being called to fight al-Qaida.  And it's not that clear they're going to. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Well, that's my question, Ambassador Jeffrey.

    What can we look to happen?  Maliki is saying, you do this.  But then he's got troops on the outside of the town, of the city.  I mean, can his forces year overrun al-Qaida if they want? 

    JAMES JEFFREY:  In the end, he's got enough heavy armor, artillery, and he's got hundreds of thousands of troops.  So he can win any conventional set piece battle. 

    The question is, does he want to do that in a city with some 300,000 inhabitants?  We basically had the inhabitants evacuated before we went in, in 2004.  The tribes can't do it alone.  But, together, the hope is that they will put enough pressure on al-Qaida that they will fade back into the desert.  Whether that will happen or not, we are just going to have to wait and see. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Meanwhile, Ambassador Jeffrey, what is the -- what is the interest for the United States here?  Clearly, the U.S. is opposed to al-Qaida getting a foothold.  But, beyond that, what does the U.S. want to have happen and how much can it affect it?

    JAMES JEFFREY:  Well, I would disagree with -- respectfully, with Secretary Kerry.  This is our fight. 

    We fought there in 2004.  And we fought there to in part drive al-Qaida out after they established a foothold.  The Maliki government, for all of its problems, is still a government that is a quasi-ally of ours.

    It is a constitutional regime.  They do work one way or another with many of the Sunnis and most of the Kurds.  And it's in our interest not to allow al-Qaida to establish another foothold.  That is the basic premise on all of our actions.  And we're taking pretty good actions, with the additional equipment, the drones, the Hellfire missiles, the advice, the intelligence and such. 

    We probably need to do more.  And we need to have a different attitude, I think, in how we pitch this, because people are watching us in Iraq to try to find out, are we in this game, not with ground troops, not with our solders fighting, but with support for whoever, be it Maliki, be it the tribes who are willing to take on al-Qaida?  That is not completely clear yet. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Jane, how -- having been in the region so recently, is the view of the people there that the U.S. is or isn't engaged?  Where do you see this going? 

    JANE ARRAF:  I think it is definitely the view that the U.S. isn't engaged and hasn't been engaged for some time. 

    And I think it's completely clear Iraqis do not want to see U.S. troops.  I also don't think it's clear though that Hellfire missiles and drones are the answer.  I mean, this really is a region that feels that it's not a part of Iraq.  And when I have been there, I have interviewed women who have been imprisoned to put pressure on their husbands to confess to terrorism, countless executions that take place, children being rounded up. 

    It's not just a matter, really, of al-Qaida controlling Fallujah.  It's a matter of, is this country actually even going to work?  And you can't cut off Fallujah.  You can't cut off the Sunni areas.  Then it ceases to be Iraq.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Well, we're certainly going to be watching it.

    Jane Arraf, Ambassador James Jeffrey, we thank you both. 

    JAMES JEFFREY:  Thank you, Judy. 

    JANE ARRAF:  Thank you.


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    GWEN IFILL:  We return to the debate over extending unemployment insurance benefits.  The Senate was slated for a critical test vote late today, but that was just delayed until tomorrow morning. 

    NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman starts us off. 

    SEN. HARRY REID, Majority Leader:  I'm optimistic, cautiously optimistic, that the new year will bring a renewed spirit of cooperation to this chamber.  It's really very badly needed. 

    KWAME HOLMAN:  Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid began 2014 with a push to restore emergency benefits for the long-term unemployed.  The payments ended for 1.3 million Americans on December 28, and the White House says 4.9 million others will lose benefits this year. 

    SEN. HARRY REID:  We have never had so many unemployed for such a long period of time.  The long-term unemployment rate is twice as high as it was any other time we have allowed emergency unemployment benefits to end. 

    KWAME HOLMAN:  The current program began under President George W. Bush in 2008.  It offers extended federal benefits after the expiration of state benefits.  On average, it means about $300 a week for someone out of work. 

    This new bill, sponsored by Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Republican Dean Heller of Nevada, would extend the federal program for another three months. 

    President Obama's chief economic adviser, Gene Sperling, spoke at the White House today.

    GENE SPERLING, Director, White House National Economic Council:  The clear right thing for us to do right now is pass this measure now in its current form.  And, again, it's just for three months.  It gives more time to have those type of, you know, further bipartisan discussions about what else you might do to extend it after that. 

    KWAME HOLMAN:  But a number of Republicans, including Alabama's Jeff Sessions, said the cost must be offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. 

    SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, R-Ala.:  This bill borrows every penny on it, just a total violation of promised fiscal responsibility.  It just is.  It just is.  I wish if weren't so.  I wish we could just do this and it wouldn't cost anything. 

    KWAME HOLMAN:  The president means to step up the pressure on Congress tomorrow, when he hosts a White House event for people who've lost benefits. 

    GWEN IFILL:  Now we look more closely at the broader political fight brewing this election year, first, the case made by the president's team. 

    Thomas Perez is the secretary of labor.  He joined us from the White House earlier this evening. 

    Secretary Perez, thank you for joining us. 

    THOMAS PEREZ, Secretary of Labor:  My pleasure. 

    GWEN IFILL:  The unemployment insurance benefits have been extended now 11 times.  What do you think is the risk of not extending them again? 

    THOMAS PEREZ:  Well, there are 1.3 million Americans who were supposed to receive their check today, but they didn't, because the program has not been renewed. 

    And so immediately they have gone from a situation of dire need to one of catastrophe.  And that's not simply 1.3 million, but that's also their family members.  And so that's why it's so important for Congress to act immediately to restore these programs. 

    And I'm very heartened by the fact that there is a bipartisan bill in front of the Senate, with Senator Reid from Rhode Island and Senator Heller from Nevada, because this program has always enjoyed bipartisan support.  And I'm confident and hopeful that this time it will be no different. 

    GWEN IFILL:  Except at last nose count, it didn't look like the Democrats or Mr. Heller had the votes to get to that 60-vote threshold to consider debate.  Do you know differently? 

    THOMAS PEREZ:  My role is not as the vote-counter here, but I can give you a sense of history, which is that Congress has always on a bipartisan basis supported emergency unemployment compensation. 

    When President Bush was in office, five times, the bill was passed, no strings attached any of those times.  And so I'm confident and hopeful that this will pass.  And if it doesn't, it not simply affects the 1.3 million people who no longer have their benefits and their families, but it also has a negative impact on the economy.  There have been a number of studies that have shown that somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 jobs would be lost, because when people have less money in their pockets, they spend less.  Companies hire less because they're selling less.  And the economy contracts. 

    That's an unnecessary situation.  It can be avoided.  And it can be avoided simply by extending emergency unemployment compensation for three months.  And hopefully during that time, a longer-term agreement can be worked out. 

    GWEN IFILL:  Are you concerned that the continued need for a program like this might point to an underlying problem with the economy that perhaps is not being addressed? 

    THOMAS PEREZ:  Well, this -- extending unemployment insurance benefits on an emergency basis is certainly not the only strategy that we're undertaking right now. 

    We have seen 45 consecutive months of private sector job growth, to the tune of over eight million jobs.  But that's not enough.  We need to pick up the pace of growth.  And the long-term unemployment rate right now is at a historic high.  That's -- one aspect of the recovery from the great recession is just that.  The average duration of unemployment in 2007 or 2008 when President Bush first signed the extension was 17 weeks. 

    And the unemployment rate was something like 5.6 or 5.7 percent.  Now the average duration is 36 weeks.  And what we have to do in addition to extending emergency unemployment compensation is pass the president's jobs agenda.  He's put forth a very forward-leaning proposal to help us invest in our infrastructure, tax cuts for businesses that would enable one-time revenues that would allow us to expand infrastructure when we pass immigration reform.  That will grow the economy. 

    The best way to address and attack the long-term unemployment problem is to grow the economy, to expand GDP.  And that's what the president wants to do. 

     (CROSSTALK)

    GWEN IFILL:  Pardon me for interrupting, but some Republicans who object to this particular proposal, this Dean Heller-Jack Reed proposal, are saying that they don't object to the idea of expanding benefits or renewing benefits.  They object to the idea that we're not paying for it.  Is that not a reasonable argument?

    THOMAS PEREZ:  Well, certainly, when President Bush signed five extensions, there were no strings attached, when President Bush signed it.  I believe 14 out of the last 17 extensions of unemployment benefits have been signed with no strings attached. 

    So, historically, there has been an understanding that we call it emergency unemployment compensation for a reason, because people are in a state of emergency.  And we're talking about a bill here that is of a three-month duration.  And during that period of time, I'm hopeful that Congress can work together on a bipartisan fashion, once again, to come up with a longer-term fix. 

    GWEN IFILL:  I heard you mention minimum wage and immigration, for instance.  I'm wondering if this is the beginning of a bigger fight on the administration's part on these economic issues? 

    THOMAS PEREZ:  Well, I think we have to do everything to put people back to work, to help people have those -- that lifeline while they're looking for work, and to make sure that work pays a decent wage.  Nobody should have to -- nobody who works a full-time job should be living in poverty.  And there are so many people who are. 

    And that is why the president and I and so many others on a bipartisan basis so strongly support an increase in the minimum wage.  But that's not enough either.  We do so much at the Department of Labor, for instance, to invest in skills, so that people have the tools necessary to compete for today and tomorrow's jobs and have those ladders of opportunity to the middle class. 

    And these wide-ranging investments that the president has been putting forth are really a multifaceted strategy for growing the middle class, for insuring that we can lift people out of poverty, and giving that critical lifeline to those who are in a situation of long-term unemployment through no fault of their own. 

    GWEN IFILL:  But is there any room at all for bipartisan agreement, as you keep alluding to, in an election year like this? 

    THOMAS PEREZ:  Oh, I think so. 

    I was working, Gwen, for Senator Kennedy in 1996.  People say that you can't get anything passed in a presidential election year.  Well, you look back on that year, the minimum wage was increased.  There was a hate crimes bill passed.  Welfare reform passed.  Immigration reform passed.  There was a major health reform bill that passed, all in a presidential election year. 

    So it can be done.  It has been done.  And I think right now, you look at the situation across America, too many people are working hard and falling further behind. 

    GWEN IFILL:  Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, thank you so much. 

    THOMAS PEREZ:  Thank you. 

    GWEN IFILL:  And now for an alternate view, we turn to Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office from 2003-2006.  He also was a top economic adviser to President George W. Bush.  He's now the president of the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank. 

    So the White House says that benefits need to be increased, that this emergency unemployment insurance needs to be extended.  What's the argument against that? 

    DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN, Former Congressional Budget Office Director:  Well, I think the first thing is to agree with the fact there's a real problem, and that the best solution would be better strategies for more rapid economic growth and getting people jobs and increases in income. 

    Patching things after the fact, which is all unemployment insurance really does, really doesn't help.  And so that I think is the key, and the president should spend time on bipartisan approaches for better economic growth.  It would be, I think, a more fruitful path than to push on this. 

    The second is to simply be clear about matching problems and solutions.  If the problem is someone can't find a job because they don't have the skills and they need some retraining, extending emergency unemployment isn't going to solve that.  You need the job training programs or the skills bills that come out of the House and are sitting in the Senate. 

    If you have a problem where you have just poverty, long-term insurance benefits for an emergency aren't going to solve that either.  You have got to fix the social safety net.  Unemployment insurance was meant to be a bridge for temporary spells of unemployment.  And even there, it cuts both ways.  The good news is, people have some income.  They can take some time to find a job and have one that matches. 

    The bad news is all the evidence is that the longer you have unemployment insurance, the longer people stay out of work, their skills erode.  The job they ultimately get pays less.  And that's not to their benefit.  So the question becomes what is the right length of unemployment insurance?  And here's the debate, 26 weeks, which is the safety net that will remain right now, vs. effectively 40 weeks, so six-and-a-half months to 10 months, which is what is at play in the Senate. 

    And we don't know the scientific answer to that. 

    GWEN IFILL:  You put a lot of things out there. 

    DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN:  Sure.

    GWEN IFILL:  I just want to go one that you mentioned, which is that it is a patch, that it is a temporary patch. 

    We just heard Secretary Perez say this is the kind of patch that was applied just fine in the Bush years without strings attached.  Is that not -- is he incorrect about that? 

    DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN:  It may have been, but I think we all know the budgetary environment we live in.  We all know the troubling future for federal deficits.  They should pay for everything.  This shouldn't be special on this bill or another one.  The Congress has to get serious about controlling spending. 

    GWEN IFILL:  What about the argument that is made, which is by putting more money in the pockets of people who need it, even if for a temporary period of time, you put more money in the economy?

    DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN:  It's right.  It's just not that big.  If it was a huge impact, then the stimulus bill would have been an amazing success and we wouldn't be having this conversation right now.  So, yes, true, but let's get the magnitude straight.  This isn't that big. 

    GWEN IFILL:  Until you can figure out the longer-term fix, what's wrong with this three-month, what is it, $6 billion fix which is being mentioned, $6.5 billion fix which is being debated right now on Capitol Hill? 

    DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN:  Well, on a policy basis, the two questions are, one, are you going to pay for it or not?  I at least think you ought to pay for everything. 

    GWEN IFILL:  Even if it is temporary?

    DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN:  Absolutely.  There isn't a good excuse for not paying attention to the fiscal outlook at this point.  Those days are gone. 

    And the second one is, well, we want to have a bridge.  But we want to have a bridge that works to the effective help of workers, not harm them in the end, so what is the right length?  And you can make a principled argument for 40.  You can make a principled argument for 26, which is what we have if we don't extend it. 

    GWEN IFILL:  So what is the immediate solution or likely solution or possible solution that you would prefer for the long-term underlying problem of long-term unemployment?

    DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN:  Well, there are things that, for example, the president has proposed and talked about, but has not put serious effort into.  I would say tax reform would be number one. 

    A lot of agreement that our companies are not internationally competitive with the tax code, a lot of agreement that we would get a boost to short-term economic growth from tax reform.  Let's put some effort into getting real tax reform moving through the Congress.  Former Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, now going to be the ambassador to China, spent a lot of time this.  Dave Camp spent a lot of time on this.

    There is a bipartisan underpinning for it.  The White House needs to weigh in, in a serious way. 

    GWEN IFILL:  I have to ask you the same question I asked Secretary Perez, which is this idea of grand bipartisanship which can be reached in a election year, how can that happen? 

    DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN:  The only way you get bipartisanship is with great White House leadership.  Congress is fundamentally a partisan place and the White House has to broker those deals. 

    GWEN IFILL:  Are we having -- when it comes right down to it, especially when it comes to issues like unemployment, where you can -- especially right after the holiday, are we having an economic argument here, or are we having an emotional one? 

    DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN:  Oh, this is a great political argument and a very emotional one.

    But I always think that, even though that's true, it's important to step back and look at the facts, figure out what is big, what is small, and always target the solution and the policy issue correctly.  Don't try to solve the wrong problem with unemployment insurance. 

    GWEN IFILL:  What is the wrong problem in this case? 

    DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN:  Well, look, I think there's a big problem with skills and that we do need better training programs, we do need a way to get people from careers that are dead-end into new careers. 

    Unemployment insurance doesn't do that. 

    GWEN IFILL:  And what is the political problem? 

    DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN:  The political problem here for the White House is they have a bad economic record.  They want to change the subject and start pointing fingers.  This is a good way to do it. 

    GWEN IFILL:  OK.

    Douglas Holtz-Eakin, thank you so much. 

    DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN:  Thank you.  


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    What are some of the financial impacts of caring for a loved one? Click the image to see a breakdown.

    Imagine working twenty hours a week at a part-time job for five years -- and never getting paid. That's the average amount of time a long-term health care caregiver volunteers to care for a parent, spouse, family member or friend. This figure is even more startling because chances are, a lot of us will be a caregiver at some point in our lives -- 40 percent of all women 18 or older and 37 percent of all men 18 or older provide care for someone. It can be as simple as driving to the grocery store and helping clean the house, or as extensive as helping with daily bathing and eating. On average, a long-term health care caregiver is a 49 year-old woman caring for her widowed mother.

    Why does this matter? The AARP has found that a caregiver 50 years old or older who leaves the workforce to look after a parent forgoes, on average, $304,000 in lost salary and benefits over their lifetime. These estimates range from $283,716 for men to $324,044 for women. Being a caregiver can hurt women especially hard. Besides a higher amount in lost income as compared to men, women who are family caregivers are 2.5 times more likely than non-caregivers to live in poverty and five times more likely to receive Supplemental Security Income. And 20 percent of employed women caregivers over 50 years old report symptoms of depression, compared to 8 percent of their non-caregiving peers.

    Lost productivity and time off costs businesses an estimated $33.6 billion a year; a full-time working caregiver costs his or her company a yearly average of $2,110.20.

    Here's a look at who these long-term health care caregivers look like.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Alzheimer's disease remains among the most devastating diseases that medicine has yet to crack.  There's no known cure or treatment that has substantially helped curb memory loss and the decline in cognitive skills.  One in eight Americans over the age of 65 has Alzheimer's now.

    Researchers are hoping they can find a more promising future by intervening well before any symptoms show. 

    Jeffrey Brown has the story. 

    JAMIE TYRONE:  This photograph is a picture of my father and myself at a father/daughter dance at school.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  At age 48, Jamie Tyrone decided on a whim to sign up for a study that offered genetic testing for 22 diseases. 

    JAMIE TYRONE:  This is at my wedding day. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  The results were shocking and life-changing. 

    JAMIE TYRONE:  My genetic status is that I have a 91 percent lifetime risk of getting Alzheimer's disease. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Alzheimer's, a debilitating form of dementia, wasn't even on Tyrone's radar screen.  She'd had no symptoms.  And hearing the news sent her into an emotional tailspin. 

    JAMIE TYRONE:  I was very, very lonely and very, very isolated.  And at one point, I was told that it's probably best not to talk about it because you might be discriminated against.  And so I went into a really dark hole. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  All this began five years ago, ironically, just as her father began showing signs of mental confusion. 

    JAMIE TYRONE:  Want to look up at me, dad?  I'm taking a picture of you.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Tyrone watched as his health quickly declined.  He was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer's. 

    JAMIE TYRONE:  When my father was still alive, and I looked at him, all I saw was my destiny.  And I was frightened for me, but I was more afraid for my family, because I didn't want -- I didn't want them to go through what we were going through with my father. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  And her story is now part of a new approach to experimental Alzheimer's research, treating people for the disease before they show a single symptom. 

    WOMAN:  I'm going to ask you a bunch of questions that just look at various aspects of memory and thinking.  And I want you to just take your time and relax. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Tyrone volunteered for a biomarker study at Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Arizona.  Here, she is given cognitive tests, medical screening, and brain imaging. 

    JAMIE TYRONE:  I panic every time I go through it, because I'm like, oh, my goodness, if I forget something, do I have Alzheimer's? 

    WOMAN:  Immediately, you were able to recall that.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  So far, her tests have been encouraging. 

    WOMAN:  So, you got 27 out of 30, which is considered normal.

    JAMIE TYRONE:  Yay!

    JEFFREY BROWN:  The biomarker study Tyrone entered is part of an ambitious goal set by Banner to prevent and even eradicate the disease. 

    DR. PIERRE TARIOT, Director, Banner Alzheimer's Institute:  It's incurable, it's debilitating, it's relentless, and it's unacceptable. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Dr. Pierre Tariot is on a team of doctors that launched the Alzheimer's prevention initiative. 

    We think the best way to find an end to Alzheimer's disease, without losing another generation, is moving earlier.  The most important studies to do are in people that don't have any manifest symptoms yet.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  One new study will involve people with no symptoms, but at high risk, because they carry two copies of a gene called APOE-e4. 

    DR. PIERRE TARIOT:  There's credible evidence that lifestyle variables matter.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  And while Jamie Tyrone fits that genetic profile, she is too young to participate. The trial will track people 60 to 75 years old. 

    DR. PIERRE TARIOT:  If we learn that making this red goes away or preventing it from even occurring...

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Last summer, the study received a big boost, $33.2 million from the National Institutes of Health. 

    DR. PIERRE TARIOT:  We and others really think that the way to put this disease behind us is to find therapies that attack the underlying biology, and apply them in the right way at the right time.  And if we can do that, we may be able to help preserve identity and preserve autonomy, which are the goals. 

    The areas that are blue are essentially little amyloid protein deposits.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  One long-held hypothesis is that a buildup of amyloid protein in the brain is the main culprit in the onset of Alzheimer's.  These new trials will test drugs aimed at halting that progression. 

    DR. PIERRE TARIOT:  We will be comparing change in people who get active treatment vs. a placebo or sham treatment, and our hypothesis is the active experimental treatment will slow down or possibly even prevent the otherwise almost certain loss of memory and other thinking ability. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  To this point, drug trials to treat people who already have the disease have proven disappointing, thus the change in thinking. 

    DR. PIERRE TARIOT:  There has been a significant paradigm shift in just the last couple of years.  Maybe using these promising experimental agents at a time when the disease has already ravaged the brain is too late, so maybe what we ought to do is intervene at the very beginning, before the damaged has occurred, and before symptoms have emerged.  And so that's a big change.  That's a real pivot in the field. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  It also raises new ethical considerations to administer Alzheimer's treatment to people with no current symptoms. 

    DR. PIERRE TARIOT:  In every case, it boils down to the ability for everybody to appreciate the potential risks and the potential benefits, benefits for oneself, benefits for one's family or future generations.

    WOMAN:  You're going to draw trees in the background.  Yours is looking great.

    JEFFREY BROWN:  For people who already have Alzheimer's, the institute creates environments, like this art class, where patients can feel productive and successful. 

    JAN DOUGHERTY, Family and Community Services, Banner Alzheimer's Institute:  I think it works for people with Alzheimer's because every day they face failure, because their memory, their brain can't keep pace.  But as I tell people with this disease, look, not all of your brain is not working.  There are parts that work beautifully, and I think art is one of those areas that work beautifully

    JEFFREY BROWN:  According to the Alzheimer's Association, 5.2 million Americans are affected by the disease.  A new diagnosis is made every 68 seconds, and the number of cases is expected to triple by 2050. 

    DR. PIERRE TARIOT:  The World Health Organization has labeled Alzheimer's disease as the coming pandemic of Western societies in this century, predicting that as we age successfully, the numbers will become so extraordinary that unless we find a way to put it behind us, it could overwhelm our societies. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Feeling overwhelmed by her husband's diagnosis is something Judy Starbuck is familiar with. 

    JUDY STARBUCK:  I have periods of great grief, great grief, of loss.  You know, they say start planning to make a life for yourself.  And I don't want to. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Starbuck volunteered for the prevention trials, but was found to carry no risk and therefore didn't qualify.  In fact, researchers acknowledge it may be tricky to find volunteers.  So the Banner Institute has created an online Alzheimer's prevention registry. 

    JESSICA LANGBAUM, Principal Scientist, Banner Alzheimer's Institute:  One of the biggest challenges is just finding enough people to participate.  Typically, research studies often take place in people who already have the disease, and here we're trying to do prevention-focused studies. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  Jamie Tyrone says she can't help being optimistic. 

    JAMIE TYRONE:  Oh, my goodness.  What it means is that there's hope, there's actual hope.  There is a possibility that there may be a prevention in my lifetime, and my family won't have to go through what we have in the past.  So, that's very, very promising and very, very exciting. 

    JEFFREY BROWN:  The prevention trials are expected to begin in 2015. 

    GWEN IFILL:  You can learn more about Alzheimer's prevention, including how to eat your way to a healthier brain.  That's on our Health page.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Finally tonight, a future where your home can act a little smarter, your car starts with just the sound of your voice, and your clothes can measure your heart rate and other personal data.  Those are just some of the possibilities being discussed at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  It's a gathering to highlight some of the latest developments in technology, featuring plenty of high-end gadgets, and often a bit of hype as well. 

    This year's theme is about the so-called Internet of things. 

    Cecilia Kang of The Washington Post joins us from Las Vegas to fill us in on that idea and more. 

    Cecilia, welcome back to the program. 

    So, I'm almost afraid to ask.  What is the Internet of things?

    CECILIA KANG, The Washington Post:  Well, the Internet of things really represents the idea that the Internet is moving beyond just smartphones and tablets, and has really become part of so many more aspects of our life, where so many more machines, so many more accessories and gadgets are connected to the Internet, everything from a toaster to a car, to a wristwatch to your stocks. 

    So the idea is that so many more machines and parts of your lives can be connected to the Internet.  And this really is sort of the next step beyond the smartphone revolution.

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  So what have you seen there that's caught your attention? 

    CECILIA KANG:  Well, cars will be a really big theme here, and the smart sort of Internet-connected car. 

    There's a lot of aspects to that.  The idea is that you're in the car for a long time, and what carmakers and Silicon Valley hopes is that you will do some of the things that you do in front of your computer and over your smartphone in your car as well, which, of course, present some concerns about some questions about safety. 

    But the idea is that to put 4G high-speed wireless Internet connections into cars.  Audi is going to announce that.  GM is announcing that this week.  And the -- this will allow -- say, for example, you're in a minivan and you have four kids in the car and two parents, six people total. 

    Everybody should be able to be listening to the music they want, watching the video, streaming the videos they want, playing with the apps and updating their Facebook status all at the same time in the car.  And carmakers really hope that this will be sort of the next stage of their industry, which is really trying to figure out a way to attract more and younger buyers. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Instead of looking out of the window. 

     (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  And we're hoping -- and we're hoping the driver is paying attention to where he or she is going. 

    CECILIA KANG:  That's right. 

    And there will be some big questions about safety.  And federal regulators will certainly look into this.  There are -- there are so many concerns about distractions in the car.  And there was a huge effort over the last few years to get drivers to stop texting while driving.  And then suddenly we have this idea of so many more Internet distractions potentially while you're driving. 

    The solution that the companies hope -- that the Web companies and the car companies hope to introduce would be voice-recognized commands, that that would hopefully avoid of the idea of people glancing too much at a screen and actually tapping on apps.  But a lot of that remains to be seen.  And it's also an insurance question as well.  Who picks up the liability when there's accidents?

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  And, Cecilia, we have been hearing over the last year or so about driverless cars.  Does this mean we're coming closer to that? 

    CECILIA KANG:  It certainly does.  It certainly does, in the sense that there's no reason why the technology and the way that it's moving -- sensors are so cheap, cameras are so cheap -- there is no reason why your car can't have loads of them all over the car to help prevent -- and also connect to GPS connections and have this Internet connection -- to sense when other cars are too close. 

    And all that capability, all these technological advances are available today, or at least are conceptually available in labs.  And Google has introduced that two years ago.  Audi has talked about its own prototype for working on this.  Every carmaker is sort of interested in this idea about the idea of potentially having people in their cars doing things other than actually steering the car, and having more time to be on the Internet, if you will. 

    But it will take some time, Judy.  It will probably take about five to 10 years is what the carmakers say.  There are regulatory concerns.  You have to get approval from your local and state highway patrol.  And you also have all these questions again about liability.  Who picks up the insurance plans and the burden of liability when there's an accident?

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Now, there's also -- there are so many other devices and gadgets, as you mentioned.  Smarter TVs, tell us about that, and how much smarter are they than the TVs we have now?

    CECILIA KANG:  Sure.

    Well, I would love to state that they are so much smarter, Judy.  But it seems like they're not that much smarter than last year's and the year before that.  The problem with TVs, smart TVs, and the idea of smart Internet TV that it all sounds good, and most TVs actually that are sold today in retail stores do have Internet capabilities. 

    And a lot of people are buying Apple boxes and Roku boxes to enable them to get on to apps like Netflix and Pandora and Amazon Prime online.  But the thing is, most people actually are also pretty happy with the TV, the hardware that they have itself.  And there's -- TVs have become so cheap.  So the idea of buying some of the TVs that are coming out at the CES show this week, which are in the tens of thousands of dollars and are huge, 105-inch screens and ultra-Heard -- that means incredible resolution -- the idea of spending that kind of money is really so far out of the budget of most consumers. 

    But like most products here at CES, the -- what your -- the providers like the companies like Samsung and LG are trying to do is to pique your interest and sort of get you curious and fascinated with the possibility of what could be.  So it will be probably a small market size for those people who want to buy Internet-capable TVs.  It will grow slowly. 

    But it's probably not going to be the big hit for the consumer electronics market going forward. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  And just in a few seconds, wearable gadgets, how far are they getting along with those? 

    CECILIA KANG:  Well, there's lots of -- there's a lot of interconnectivity activity trackers, like the Fitbit and the Nike FuelBand.

    And those are getting smarter.  And you're seeing the same kind of technology that those -- that those wristbands have make its way into other parts of your clothing and accessories, from socks to shoes to headbands.  And there's so many other things that people are measuring. 

    The question is -- I think what consumers want is a good price point, and they probably want a device that looks good and also has a few more capabilities than just tracking your steps and counting your calories.  They're hoping for something that might have a little bit more incorporation of some of the smartphone functionality that you have in your wristband. 

    But there is a lot that has to come together for a consumer to want to spend more than $200 on something like that. 

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  And they also need to be able to understand it. 

    CECILIA KANG:  Yes.

     (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF:  Cecilia Kang, The Washington Post, thanks very much. 

    CECILIA KANG:  Thank you.  


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    Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. at a November news conference calling for renewing long-term unemployment benefits. Reed is co-sponsor of a measure to temporarily extend benefits to 1.3 million Americans. Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call.

    Senate Democrats abruptly postponed a vote Monday evening to extend unemployment insurance, buying themselves some extra time to search for enough Republican votes to advance the legislation. Despite the delay, it appeared Democrats remained short of the 60 supporters needed to move forward with the proposal, which is now scheduled for a procedural vote Tuesday morning.

    The Morning Line The measure put forward by Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., would provide emergency unemployment benefits to 1.3 million Americans for an additional three months, at a cost of about $6 billion. Republicans are demanding that the price be offset with spending cuts.

    Speaking on the floor Monday, Reed urged his colleagues to back the proposal, which would give lawmakers time to negotiate a long-term solution. "Give us three months to work on issues, work on funding, work on anything else. But don't leave these people without anything, throwing them off the cliff," Reed said.

    As the vote neared, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, objected to the timing, noting that many lawmakers had not yet returned to Washington because of travel delays due to weather.

    "This is a serious issue, but if this was anything other than a political exercise, the Majority Leader would have rescheduled this vote when we did not have 17 members of the United States Senate unable to be here and vote on this," Cornyn said.

    "This ought to be postponed to a later time when we can have a real debate, we can also look for how to pay for this extension of unemployment benefits and how to get the economy growing again so people can find jobs," he added.

    In response, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., asked that the vote be pushed back to Tuesday morning.

    Three Republican Senators have said they would join Democrats in supporting the plan. They are Heller, plus moderates Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

    Politico's Burgess Everett reports that President Barack Obama has been working the phones in an attempt to sway GOP lawmakers:

    Though she planned to vote for the bill, Collins said she told Obama to "help us find an offset for it." Collins declined to say how Republicans prefer to pay for the legislation because she did not want to "preempt" talks among Senate Republicans who are trying to find a way to pay for the legislation.

    "I also talked with him about restructuring the program. What I argued is that if someone is unemployed for more than a year it is very likely that the job that they once had is not coming back. And that it would be better if as a condition of continued unemployment benefits for us after a year, for us to link it to a job training program," she said. "He seemed very interested."

    Even as the president works the phones, he also intends to apply pressure by rallying public support for the measure. Mr. Obama will host an event at the White House Tuesday morning that will include people who lost their unemployment benefits in December.

    Should the extension fail to win enough support Tuesday, Democrats plan to keep at the issue, having signaled that they intend to make income inequality a theme for the duration of the 2014 midterm cycle.

    The Washington Post's Philip Rucker and Robert Costa note that the income gap is shaping up to be a central issue for both parties in the upcoming campaign:

    But there is deep disagreement among Republican leaders and strategists over whether to embrace an economic-mobility agenda in the 2014 midterm campaigns. Some Republicans are wary of doing so, seeing it as playing on Democrats' home turf, and think they are better off drawing voters' attention to the rocky rollout of the health-care law and other problems plaguing Obama.

    "People on the right say, 'We don't have to have much of a forward-looking agenda, and it gives a target to Democrats if we put things forward, and let the liberals crumble under their own weight,'" said Peter Wehner, a former adviser in the Reagan administration and both Bush administrations and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

    But Wehner added that what may help Republicans in the 2014 midterms may hurt them in the 2016 presidential election, which will attract a larger electorate with more minorities. "The problem with the Republican Party is they're out of step and out of tune and out of touch with many Americans," he said.

    Still, outside conservative groups are pressuring Republican lawmakers to block an extension of unemployment benefits.

    "Taxpayers not cannot afford tens of billions in new spending," Heritage Action for America said in a statement. "And even if lawmakers attempt to offset this new spending with real cuts elsewhere, they would still be throwing taxpayer money at an ineffective and wasteful program."

    Andrew Roth, the vice president of government affairs for the Club for Growth, wrote: "Congress should end the federal unemployment insurance program and return the authority back to the states, which already have programs in place. Absent this, Congress should pay for this extension by cutting spending elsewhere in the budget."

    The NewsHour looked at the debate over extending emergency benefits on Monday's program. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez outlined the Obama administration's reasoning in an interview with Gwen Ifill. Conservative economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former Congressional Budget Office director under President George W. Bush, also joined Gwen on the topic.


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    Kai Huang, Shara Yurkiewicz and Samyukta Mullangi are three of Dr. Rafael Campo's medical students, who are learning poetry to supplement their training. For Yurkiewicz, poetry is a way to deal with all the emotions that doctors have to face. "The very first time that I wrote a poem was third year after a patient passed away."

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    By Nick Corcodilos

    Job hunting is an over-defined process, says headhunter Nick Corcodilos. And for the most part, the prescribed methods don't work. Instead, here are Nick's four tips to overcome the obstacles standing between you and the job you want. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Kate Hiscock.

    Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979, and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community over the past decade.

    In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards, or salary negotiations. No guarantees -- just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.

    To start the New Year, I'd like to share four tips from the latest Ask The Headhunter publications. If you find something useful in them, I'll be glad.

    The idea behind my "Fearless Job Hunting" books is that finding a job is not about prescribed steps. It's not about following rules. In fact, job hunting is such an over-defined process that there are thousands of books and articles about how to do it -- and the methods are much the same.

    What all those books conveniently ignore is that the steps don't work. If they did, every resume would get you an interview, which would in turn produce a job offer and a job. But we know that's not how it works.

    The key to successful job hunting is knowing how to deal with the handful of daunting obstacles that stop job hunters dead in their tracks. Here are four excerpts from "Fearless Job Hunting" that address four daunting obstacles you're likely to face -- along with my suggestions for how to overcome them. (All of the "Fearless Job Hunting" books are available in the Ask The Headhunter Bookstore.)

    Four Tips for Job Hunting Success:

    You just lost your job and your nerves are frayed. Take a moment to put your fears aside. Think about the implications of the choices you make. Consider the obstacles you encounter in your job search.

    1. Don't settle An excerpt from "Fearless Job Hunting, Book 1: Jump-Start Your Job Search," p. 4, "The myth of the last-minute job search":

    When you're worried about paying the rent, it seems that almost any job will do. Taking the first offer that comes along could be your biggest mistake. It's also one of the most common reasons people go job hunting again soon -- they settle for a wrong job, rather than select the right one.

    MORE FROM NICK CORCODILOS: Ask The Headhunter: Am I Burning Myself out for Success?

    Start early: Research the industry you want to work in. Learn what problems and challenges it faces. Then, identify the best company in that industry. (Why settle for less? Why join a company just because it wants you? Join the one you want.)

    Study the company, establish contacts, learn the business and build expertise. Rather than being just a hunter for any job, learn to be the solution to one company's problems. That's what gets you hired, because such dedication and focus make you stand out.

    2. Scope the community An excerpt from "Fearless Job Hunting, Book 3: Get In The Door (way ahead of your competition)," p. 6, "It's the people, Stupid":

    You could skip the resume submission step completely, but if it makes you feel good, send it in. Then forget about it.

    More important is that you start to understand the place where you want to work. This means you must start participating in the community and with people who work in the industry you want to be a part of.

    Every community has a structure and rules of navigation. Figure this out by circulating. Go to a party. Go to a professional conference or training program. Attend cultural and social events that require milling around with other people (think museums, concerts, churches). It's natural to ask people you meet for advice and insight about the best companies in your industry. But don't limit yourself to people in your own line of work.

    The glue that holds industries together includes lawyers, accountants, bankers, real estate brokers, printers, caterers and janitors. Use these contacts to identify members of the community you want to join, and start hanging out with them.

    3. Avoid a salary cut An excerpt from "Fearless Job Hunting, Book 7: Win The Salary Games (long before you negotiate an offer)," p. 9: "How can I avoid a salary cut?":

    Negotiating doesn't have to be done across an adversarial table -- and it should not be done over the phone. You can sit down and hash through a deal like partners. Sometimes, candor means getting almost personal.

    How to Say It: "If I take this job, we're entering into a sort of marriage. Our finances will be intertwined. So, let's work out a budget -- my salary and your profitability -- that we're both going to be happy with for years down the road. If I can't show you how I will boost the company's profitability with my work, then you should not hire me. But I also need to know that I can meet my own budget and my living expenses, so that I can focus entirely on my job."

    It might seem overly candid, but there's not enough candor in the world of business. A salary negotiation should be an honest discussion about what you and the employer can both afford.

    4. Know what you're getting into An excerpt from "Fearless Job Hunting, Book 8: Play Hardball With Employers," p. 23: "Due Diligence: Don't take a job without it":

    I think the failure to research and understand one another is one of the key reasons why companies lay off employees and why workers quit jobs. They have no idea what they're getting into until it's too late. Proper due diligence is extensive and detailed. How far you go with it is up to you.

    Research is a funny thing. When it's part of our job, and we get paid to do it, we do it thoroughly because we don't want our judgments to appear unsupported by facts and data. When we need to do research for our own protection, we often skip it or we get sloppy. We "trust our instincts" and make career decisions by the seat of our pants.

    When a company uses a headhunter to fill a position, it expects a high level of due diligence to be performed on candidates the headhunter delivers. If this seems to be a bit much, consider that the fee the company pays a headhunter for all this due diligence can run upwards of $30,000 for a $100,000 position. Can you afford to do less when you're judging your next employer?

    Remember that next to our friends and families, our employers represent the most important relationships we have. Remember that other people who have important relationships with your prospective employer practice due diligence: bankers, Realtors, customers, vendors, venture capitalists and stock analysts. Can you afford to ignore it?

    Thanks to all of you for your contributions to this community throughout the year. Have you ever settled for the wrong job or failed to scope out a work community before accepting a job? Did you get stuck with a salary cut or with a surprise when you took a job without doing all the necessary investigations? Let's talk about it!

    Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth "how to" PDF books are available on his website: "How to Work With Headhunters...and how to make headhunters work for you," "How Can I Change Careers?", "Keep Your Salary Under Wraps" and "Fearless Job Hunting."

    Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

    Copyright © 2013 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark. This entry is cross-posted on the Rundown -- NewsHour's blog of news and insight. Follow @PaulSolman


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    Rafael Campo's book of poetry, "Alternative Medicine," explores the relationship between language, empathy and healing. He sees poetry everywhere, "When we read a poem, we participate in another narrative. We really get inside another person's head, under their skin and medicine and medical interactions are very very similar."

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    A new study finds SNAP programs at farmers markets help local economies. Photo by Abhijit Tembhekar

    When farmers markets incentivize the use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, the consumption of fruits and vegetables raises, a new health study finds.

    Over two years, the Healthy Food Incentives Cluster Evaluation, looked at incentive programs at more than 500 farmers markets in 24 states and the District of Columbia to see if people using SNAP, which provides financial assistance to low-income families, would purchase healthier options.

    The incentive programs at the farmers markets matched the dollars of SNAP spent on fruits and vegetables, so that an individual that spent $4 on fruits and vegetables would actually get $8 worth of produce.

    Four non-profit organizations ran the incentive programs, and while they found that consumption of fruits and vegetables rose overall, produce purchases rose by 80 percent at the Fair Food Network and Wholesome Wave programs.

    The study also found that the incentive programs generated more than $4.3 million in economic activity and saved or created up to 47 jobs.

    Community Science, with funding from Aetna Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kaiser Permanente, National Network of Public Health Institutes and Open Society Foundation, conducted the study.

    H/T Bridget Shirvell

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    Curiosity Rover's self portrait at "John Klein" drilling site. Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

    The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum's is displaying more than 50 of its best photographs from the two Mars rovers, ten years after NASA first landed them on Mars.

    The exhibit, "Spirit and Opportunity: 10 Years Roving Across Mars" opens Thursday and will feature photographs of craters, meteorites, rock formations, dust clouds, dunes and the Martian sunset, the AP reports.

    NASA's director of planetary science says the rovers made huge strides in gathering information about Mars to one day send humans there.

    Related links

    Mars Rover Mission Team Celebrates One Year

    New Discoveries From NASA's 'Curiosity' Rover's Mission to Mars

    Mission to Mars: Anticipating NASA Rover 'Curiosity' Touchdown

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    More than one hundred former city workers, including New York City police officers, firefighters and prison guards, have been charged of faking psychiatric problems in order to receive federal disability benefits.

    Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. announced the charges Tuesday.

    "The brazenness is shocking".

    Prosecutors believe the scheme goes back to 1988. Four ringleaders would coach officers on how to describe symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome and other mental illness problems. Some of those charged falsely claimed their conditions were caused by the Sept. 11 attacks. They received payouts as high as $500,000.

    Many of the retired city workers have been collecting benefits for years while claiming they were incapable of working. According to prosecutors, one of the defendants who said he couldn't work was teaching martial arts. Another who claimed his disabilities were so crippling he couldn't leave the house was photographed on a Sea-Doo watercraft. Many who said they could no longer use computers had Facebook pages.

    In total 72 police officers, eight firefighters, five corrections officers and one Nassau County Police Department officer were among those arrested.

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    Kate DiCamillo is an award-winning children's book author and the new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. She recommended six books that kids would could enjoy on the next snow day.

    For Kate DiCamillo, the author of award-winning children's novels, "Because of Winn-Dixie" and "Tale of Despereaux," reading changes people.

    DiCamillo was recently named the Library of Congress' National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, a two-year position dedicated to promoting children's literature.

    DiCamillo was raised reading Scott O'Dell's "Island of Blue Dolphins" and Louise Fitzhugh's "Harriet the Spy" which helped her appreciate the joy of storytelling. She read every Beverly Cleary novel to develop her writing skills and quickly embraced the power of children's books to appeal to adults as well as youths.

    "I was about 32 years old ... reading about (Cleary's) Ramona in Kindergarten and I was engaged."

    This cross-generational love of reading is a part of DiCamillo's goals to "bring more people into the room." Just as a video game can be entertaining and bring a family together, DiCamillo's message to parents is to set the example that reading is neither chore nor responsibility, but a privilege. "Read out loud together as a family. Stories are what make us human."

    Because of the recent spate of school closings and sub-zero temperatures across the country, we asked DiCamillo, the new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, to recommend books perfect for kids stuck inside:

    E. B. White's "Charlotte's Web" and "Stuart Little,"

    "The Borrower" by Rebecca Makkai

    "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio

    "Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson

    "The Watsons Go to Birmingham -- 1963" by Christopher Paul Curtis

    For more suggestions, we asked our friends at the Library of Congress' Young Readers Center to share some new titles. See their lists of award-winning books selected by distinguished and credible literary organizations:

    American Library Association Notables and Award Winners/Honor Books

    Pre-K-Grade 2

    "Creepy Carrots!" by Aaron Reynolds. Illustrated by Peter Brown (Simon & Schuster)

    "Extra Yarn" by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen (HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray)

    "Green" written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. (Roaring Brook/Neal Porter)

    Grades 3-5

    "Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin" written and illustrated by Robert Byrd (Dial/Penguin)

    "Bomb: The Race to Build -- and Steal -- the World's Largest Most Dangerous Weapon" by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook/Flash Point)

    "The One and Only Ivan" by Katherine Applegate. Illustrated by Patricia Castelao (HarperCollins/Harper)

    Grades 6-8

    "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" by Benjamin Saenz (Simon & Schuster/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

    "A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return" written and illustrated by Zeina Abirached (Lerne/Graphic Universe)

    "My Family for the War" by Anne C. Voorhoeve. Trans. By Tammi Reichel (Dial/Penguin)

    Young Adult Library Services Association -- Best of 2013

    Young Adult Fiction

    "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" by Jesse Andrews (Abrams/Amulet Books)

    "The Diviners" by Libba Bray (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

    "Seraphina" by Rachel Hartman (Random House/ Random House Books for Young Readers)

    Graphic Novels -- Non-fiction

    "My Friend Dahmer" by Derf Backderf (Adams)

    "Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb" by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Hill and Wang)

    "Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller" by Joseph Lambert (Disney/Hyperion/Disney Book Group).

    Graphic Novels -- Fiction

    "Ultimate Comics Spider-man V.1." by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli (Marvel)

    "Friends with Boys" by Faith Erin Hicks (Roaring Brook/First Second)

    "A Flight of Angels" by Alisa Kwitney, Rebecca Guay and others (DC/Vertigo)

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    Flickr user thebarrowboy Five supermarkets in Germany found themselves with large hauls of Cocaine packed within delivered banana crates. Photo by Flickr user thebarrowboy

    Supermarkets in Germany found themselves with some new, and unexpected, produce on Monday: Cocaine.

    Workers found the drug across five stores around Berlin, packed across seven crates of bananas. The crates, received from the fruit wholesaler, were later seized by German police who believe that contraband got sent to the stores due to a "logistical error" by smugglers.

    The seven crates, which were part of a shipment of 1,134 crates total to the port of Hamburg, Germany from Colombia, held a total of 309 pounds of cocaine -- an estimated street value of $8.2 million. According to Reuters, this marks the largest discovery of the drug in the German capital in 15 years.

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