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

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    GWEN IFILL: Today's action at the Supreme Court centered on the question of whether the president can make temporary appointments without Senate approval.

    Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal was in the courtroom this morning and joins us now, as always. She was in the courtroom this morning.

    It sounds like today's arguments were about current day politics, the kind that we see being argued on Capitol Hill, but also about early history of our nation.

    MARCIA COYLE, The National Law Journal: Very much so, Gwen.

    This case was about the recess appointments clause in the Constitution. And, surprisingly, the Supreme Court has never taken a look at the meaning and scope of that clause. So, today, we heard a lot about the words in the clause and their meaning, historical documents at the time the framers of the Constitution were writing this and what they thought, and also a very, very long tradition of how presidents used or didn't use the recess appointments power.

    GWEN IFILL: How did this end up coming to the court after all this time?

    MARCIA COYLE: Sure.

    This case basically stems from a labor dispute, a common one, between Noel Canning, which is a Washington State-based soft drink bottler and distributor, and its workers union. There was a disagreement about -- over contract negotiations. The union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. The board ruled in favor of the union. The company took an appeal to a federal appellate court here in Washington, D.C.

    Its main argument was that the board lacked the authority to make a decision because three of its five members had invalid recess appointments to the board. The lower federal appellate court agreed, disagreed with the government's argument that those three members were appointed January 4, 2012, during the period when the Senate had adjourned, but was reconvening in what we call pro forma sessions, not to conduct business.

    The administration said that was a recess, the appointments were valid.

    GWEN IFILL: Now, whenever we have seen this sort of fight happen, it has happened completely on the political level based on whose ox is being gored. If it is a Democratic president, Democrats think executive power of this sort is fine. And if it's a Republican president, Republicans think the same thing did.

    Did it play out that way in the courtroom today and at the chambers?

    MARCIA COYLE: Well, I don't think so.

    I think the justices from some of their questions were very aware of the politics behind this. But they also were very engaged in exploring the meaning of the phrases in the clause that are at issue here. And there are really three issues before the court.

    The recess clause gives the president the power to fill all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate. And so they were trying to decide, what is the recess? May the president only make appointments in that break between the biannual sessions of Congress or, as presidents have, during recesses in the middle of a session?

    What about "may happen, vacancies may happen"? Does that mean the vacancy has to arise during the recess or, as presidents have done, existing vacancies can be filled during the recess? And one final question, what about these pro forma sessions where business isn't conducted? Is what a real session of the Senate or is it a recess, as the administration claimed, but was argued today?

    GWEN IFILL: Did we expect -- did we see the originalists against the liberals? Did we see Scalia and Thomas? I mean, did we see the regular divide, I guess?

    MARCIA COYLE: Well, we did in a sense.

    I would say every justice today was an originalist, because they really did try to look at the text and understand what its meaning was. But, for example, on the "may happen" phrase, those same justices, most of the justices said they felt that the opponents of the government had the stronger argument, that may happen means arises during.

    But some of the same justices, more pragmatic, said, well, what about this 100-year-plus tradition of appointing vacancies that have already existed? So there was that tug-of-war on almost all three questions, the meaning vs. the tradition, and what should prevail, what was more persuasive.

    GWEN IFILL: How unusual is it for the justices to have this kind of a clean slate to come before them, not -- it's not like abortion or the other issues we talk to you about where there is a long, long history of jurisprudence.

    MARCIA COYLE: Right.

    GWEN IFILL: This is something they get to kind of make up.

    MARCIA COYLE: Oh, yes.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GWEN IFILL: Well, kind of.

    MARCIA COYLE: It's very unusual, and they have -- don't have prior decisions to look to.

    So, yes, they're going to be going back to the text, the documents, the tradition, and trying to figure it out. I think the only case comparable to it in recent years was the Second Amendment case involving the District of Columbia's gun ordinance.

    GWEN IFILL: And did this whole debate that we have been having in Washington about filibusters, nuclear options across the street at the Senate, did that come up?

    MARCIA COYLE: It didn't at all.

    And I'm not surprised that it didn't, because, in a sense, although it made it easier for President Obama to get his appointments confirmed, Senate rules change, as we saw with the filibuster rule. And future presidents and future Senates may have this same issue. So the Supreme Court is focused on the questions before it, not on the politics.

    GWEN IFILL: One final question. The court also today didn't do something. They decided not to take up an Arizona abortion case.

    This is -- a couple of states had decided they would put this 20-week ban into effect. And the court basically backed away and says, this is the state's business.

    MARCIA COYLE: Well, it didn't say anything.

    GWEN IFILL: It didn't say anything.

    MARCIA COYLE: Right. It just declined to get involved, to review Arizona's appeal.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    MARCIA COYLE: The lower federal appellate court here had said the law violated the Supreme Court's precedent on, you know, when an abortion may occur. So they didn't say anything.

    They didn't say anything when they declined to get involved in two other cases that came from Oklahoma. So, we really don't know what the court is thinking about. These cases, they could have had procedural problems. We don't know.

    GWEN IFILL: But we know it had to get worked out at the state level.

    MARCIA COYLE: Well, for now, but there's lots of litigation going on. And it also means the court may see the question again, and maybe they will take a case.

    GWEN IFILL: Marcia Coyle with The National Law Journal and our own, thank you so much.

    MARCIA COYLE: My pleasure, Gwen.

     

     


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Going online to work, shop, or check in with loved ones is now just a part of daily life.

    But, for some senior citizens, the World Wide Web is a maze they are yet to navigate.

    The NewsHour's Mary Jo Brooks reports on a program trying to change that.

    WOMAN: Do you remember how to get into your e-mail?

    MARY JO BROOKS: At 76 years of age, Bing Fajardo is trying to become Internet-savvy.

    BING FAJARDO, senior sitizen: I'm still groping. But I'm getting to know it a more, but it will take a little time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Although Fajardo worked with computers as a secretary for many years, using the Internet is a completely new experience. She would like to become more adept, so she could stay in touch with family members in the Philippines and with her daughter in Switzerland, who wonders why her mother doesn't answer e-mails.

    BING FAJARDO: She says, you mean you haven't opened my e-mail yet?

    (LAUGHTER)

    MARY JO BROOKS: And what prevents you from opening it?

    BING FAJARDO: I get frustrated opening this because it takes time.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Fajardo hopes that frustration will lessen now that she's taking an Internet class sponsored by the St. Barnabas Senior Center in Los Angeles.

    The center, which for more than five decades has provided seniors with a broad variety of services, including exercise classes, hot meals and medical checkups, now has added computer and Internet training to its roster of offerings.

    WOMAN: Today, we're here for Facebook one, the starter kit.

    MARY JO BROOKS: The day we visited, there was a class about how to use Facebook, the popular social networking site.

    WOMAN: So these would be the people who were trying to contact me?

    MARY JO BROOKS: About 15 seniors listened intently as instructors walked them step-by-step through the process of how to set up an account, look for friends and open up attachments and links.

    MAN: You click it.

    MARY JO BROOKS: Instructor Andres Gonzalez says, often, his elderly students need even more basic instructions, like how to use a mouse and keyboard.

    ANDRES GONZALEZ, St. Barnabas Senior Center: There's a fear of touching it, of being in the room with it. So what we do in the first class with them, we do an introduction class. We go over the equipment itself, what is everything used for. We go over, how do you touch it? Unless you're banging it, you're not going to break it.

    MARY JO BROOKS: But helping seniors overcome this digital divide is a daunting task. The Pew Research Center estimates that only about half of all Americans over the age of 65 use the Internet.

    That number is certainly up from the year 2000, when just 13 percent were online. But, still, with more and more information being offered digitally, from banking statements to government forms and medical records, seniors who don't use the Internet will be left behind.

    Rigo Saborio, the director at St. Barnabas, says getting seniors digitally connected is vital for their long-term health and well-being.

    RIGO SABORIO, St. Barnabas Senior Center: It's really about moving through that gateway to allowing you to open up your horizons to be able to access the various services and information that is available to people to really make a difference in their lives, to truly transform who they are.

    It's going to have a profound impact on health, mental health, physical health, and financial health. So, I think it's very critical that we do what we can to enable people to have greater access to health, financial, emotional information through the computer system.

    MARY JO BROOKS: One of the great barriers for many seniors is, of course, the cost. That's one reason St. Barnabas established a cyber cafe, where, for a small monthly fee, seniors get unlimited use of the computers, the Wi-Fi and one-on-one help with technical questions.

    The center is now working to raise money to buy laptops and tablets to lend people who can't afford them. St. Barnabas is also expanding its mobile technology program, setting up laptops, mobile hot spots and offering classes to homebound people in low-income and retirement communities.

    RIGO SABORIO: We feel like there's a sense of freedom and opportunity in that process. When they're able to use e-mail and all of a sudden they're actually communicating with a friend or a loved one far away, and a big smile. It just brightens your day. And then you know you're making a difference.

    PHILIP WHITE, senior citizen: I like to see friends of mine that I haven't physically seen in a couple of years

    MARY JO BROOKS: That's certainly been the case for 78-year-old Philip White. He says he was initially slow to embrace certain kinds of social media on the computer. But he now regularly comes to the cyber cafe to check in on Facebook and use Skype to make video calls with friends around the world.

    PHILIP WHITE: A friend called me from New Jersey, and we were chatting away. And I took up pictures of my brother at a gig that he did and my kids and my dad, and talking about my family with him. And it was great. You just put them up there and chat about whatever it is.

    MARY JO BROOKS: And that's one of the encouraging things about computer use and the elderly. Once they are exposed to the Internet, they do use it.

    According to that same Pew study, 70 percent of seniors who have Internet access use it on a daily basis. The number using social networking sites has increased 150 percent over the last two years, with 45 percent of senior Internet users saying they use Facebook.

     


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Much of the national focus on improving health care has centered on the expansion of coverage that's starting to take effect. But a report out today says it's time for the country to pay more attention to the socioeconomic conditions that play a role in health outcomes, especially for lower-income Americans.

    The recommendations, issued by a nonpartisan commission created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, call for new investments like pre-k education for children under 5.

    David Williams is a professor at Harvard's School of Public Health. He was a staff director for the commission as well.

    And, for the record, the foundation is one of our sponsors for health coverage.

    Professor Williams, it's good to have you with us.

    DAVID WILLIAMS, Harvard School of Public Health: It's good to be with you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So what is the rationale for thinking that doing something about socioeconomic conditions is going to be connected to a health improvement?

    DAVID WILLIAMS: Well, first, the larger context is, as a nation, we have a huge problem. We spend more money on medical care than any other country in the world.

    According to the World Bank, half of the money spent on medical care in the world annually is spent in the United States. Yet we rank among -- at the bottom of the industrialized world on health and we are losing ground over time. So we have a crisis. And the problem is not just a problem of the low-income individuals and the poor.

    Even the best-off Americans are not currently achieving a level of health that is possible. And more medical care spending will not solve it. We now need to look at what are the drivers of health in the first place.

    Our health care system is wonderful. We have great facilities. We have the best-trained medical work force in the world, but to a large degree, medical care is a repair shop that takes care of us once we get sick, and it doesn't determine whether we get sick or not in the first place.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what is an example of something that can be done to improve someone's what we call socioeconomic status, whether it's education or something else, that then leads to an improvement in health?

    DAVID WILLIAMS: So, let's talk about early childhood development.

    What we know is that the foundations of health in adulthood are laid in childhood. And the opportunities and the experiences that children have even before they go to school shape their risk of chronic disease 30, 40 years later, so that everything that we can do to prepare those children and give them the optimal health and optimal developmental opportunities in the preschool area, then they're ready for school, and they have high levels of education, and they will have better health for the rest of their life.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But can you give us an example of something they would learn in school that would then lead to a better health outcome?

    DAVID WILLIAMS: Certainly, more health education and more physical fitness in school are good, but that is not where I'm going.

    We're going on preparing those kids for learning. So, for example, a child exposed to toxic stress -- and toxic stress are examples of being taken care of by a caregiver who is chronically depressed, growing up in chronic poverty, being a victim of abuse -- that child will have more problems in success in school, but will also have more health problems as an adult.

    Studies show that we can actually measure the alteration of brain structure in those preschool kids linked to their exposure to toxic stress.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: At the same time, I was reading today that, of course, there is disagreement among experts about whether universal pre-K education, which is one the things I think your task force is calling for, is good for all children.

    How do you look at the arguments that are out there about this?

    DAVID WILLIAMS: I think every child needs the opportunity for healthy development.

    For many children, they may get that in the home. And they don't have to go to a preschool setting. So we are not necessarily calling for preschool -- universal preschool for all. We are calling for universal preschool for those who are in environments where they need that healthy environment to do well.

    And that certainly characterizes many of our lower socioeconomic populations.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Looking at -- looking again at some of your recommendations, it's a pretty ambitious agenda. How do you pay for it?

    DAVID WILLIAMS: That is a really good question.

    Given our expenditure on medical care, this money is not -- there isn't a shortage of money in this country. The question is, how do we spend our money and what are our priorities? But the good news is, there are promising models all across the country right now with creative public-private participations, like in the state of Minnesota, where the business community and the state has come together to provide scholarships so that all poor kids can get a preschool education.

    Or there's an example from Texas where the state raised the sales tax by one-eighth of a penny, and that money is allocated for preschool education. So there are wonderful examples.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you are saying the evidence is already out there that this works?

    DAVID WILLIAMS: Let me tell you how powerful the evidence is.

    The best evidence comes from a study done in Ypsilanti, Michigan, more than 50 years ago, the Perry Preschool study, where kids were randomly, by the flip of a coin, received preschool or didn't receive preschool. They have now been followed for 40 years. Those kids that got the preschool, 40 years later, higher levels of education, higher levels of income, higher levels of home ownership, higher levels of marriage, less involvement with the criminal justice system, less involvement with the social welfare system.

    And for every dollar invested, there is a $17 return to society from that preschool program. That is stunning. That is amazing economic development that we can achieve.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just very quickly, finally, is this something you have to persuade the White House and the Congress to go along with to make it happen?

    DAVID WILLIAMS: I think there is a lot of interest in pre-K education across the political spectrum in the United States now, because the evidence is so strong that there is such enormous benefit for our society.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Professor David Williams of Harvard, we thank you very much.

    DAVID WILLIAMS: Thank you.

     


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    GWEN IFILL: Now to Iran, and two different foreign policy challenges facing the Obama administration.

    JOHN KERRY, U.S. Secretary of State: Let me be crystal clear about something. Iran is currently a major actor with respect to adverse consequences in Syria.

    GWEN IFILL: In Paris today, Secretary of State John Kerry made plain his frustration with Iran's role in Syria's civil war. He said that Tehran has helped prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, undermining Western efforts to force him to step down.

    JOHN KERRY: Iran is supporting another terrorist-designated organization called Hezbollah. And they are supporting Hezbollah to come out of Lebanon across the border into Syria and to be a fundamental, basic fighter. No other country, no other nation has its people on the ground fighting in the way that they are.

    GWEN IFILL: Kerry is in Paris to discuss plans for a Syrian peace conference next week in Montreux, Switzerland. Iran currently is not set to join that gathering.

    But, on another front, Iran reached agreement with the U.S. and five other countries yesterday to implement an interim nuclear deal. It calls for the Islamic republic to dial back enrichment of nuclear fuel. In exchange, financial sanctions will be eased, allowing the release of $4.2 billion in frozen Iranian funds.

    Some in Tehran were cautiously optimistic today.

    MAN (through translator): I think we can take this agreement as a very good starting point, but we have to be very cautious and remain vigilant, as America has a bad reputation and can destroy this agreement at any moment.

    GWEN IFILL: But hard-liners rejected the deal out of hand. And most Iranian lawmakers are supporting a plan to enrich uranium at even higher levels.

    Much of the U.S. Senate is skeptical as well. At least 57 senators now support imposing new sanctions on Iran.

    This afternoon, President Obama warned against taking that move.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My preference is peace and diplomacy. And this is one of the reasons why I have sent a message to Congress that now is not the time for us to impose new sanctions. Now is the time for us to allow the diplomats and technical experts to do their work.

    GWEN IFILL: For now, the agreement with Iran is set to take effect January 20. Negotiators begin talks next month on a final deal.

     


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    GWEN IFILL: Joining me now to discuss the challenges facing the Iran nuclear deal and the country's involvement in Syria is chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner.

    Margaret, we were talking about this in November, this big deal. They finally have agreed to something. What is different? What is important now?

    MARGARET WARNER: I think what's important, Gwen, is, as you said, in November, it's easy -- it's not easy -- it was very difficult to get a deal after marathon negotiations, but really, as they say, the devil is in the details.

    And the parties clearly were determined to work out all these complicated technical -- technical aspects of how verification would work, who would take what step first. I think that the cautionary element here is that it was thornier than they expected. It was more complicated than they expected.

    At one point, the Iranians staged a mini-walkout. And so it suggests that getting the big comprehensive deal is going to be tough. Still, I think what is most important is, it is a real milestone. And if the administration had failed to get this deal, it would have been “Katy, bar the door”  on Capitol Hill with this pressure for sanctions.  

    GWEN IFILL: Well, and there is still pressure on Capitol Hill. The Iranians, as you pointed out, walked away. They have pressure at home as well.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes.

    GWEN IFILL: Which is the -- which is the most pressing pressure, I guess?

    MARGARET WARNER: I think it's pressure on both presidents, actually.

    And, certainly, on Capitol Hill, this agreement announcement yesterday didn't appear to have changed the battle lines. You had Eric Cantor, the majority -- House majority leader, saying, well, it does nothing but cement a bad deal; further, it's a deeply flawed deal.

    And the 60 senators, as you mentioned, are close to, have signed up for this. And the administration is hoping to forestall it even being introduced. So, at least now they can argue the program is frozen.

    GWEN IFILL: They must be worried. The president brought that statement we just saw up unprompted today in this meeting on an unrelated issue. He wanted to say this is not something we should do.

    MARGARET WARNER: Oh, he really wanted to say it.

    And yesterday, Gwen, there was a briefing by State Department officials, a backgrounder on the phone. And it was ostensibly to discuss all these technical aspects, but really constantly the participants kept pounding home this same message. If it is brought to the floor, which they hope to forestall, then what they are really looking at is trying to get a veto-proof margin.

    GWEN IFILL: Iran is central to so much. John Kerry is in Paris preparing to go to Montreux, Switzerland, to talk of perhaps Syrian peace talks. And Iran could be the fly in the ointment there as well.

    MARGARET WARNER: Yes, there is huge pressure.

    I mean, you wonder what to make of this tough talk from Kerry. The fact is, the pressure is on. Next week is the conference. And Iran is proving a hurdle, because the U.N. and the Russians -- I think you pointed out about the U.N. -- want them involved, saying, look, Iran has influence with Assad like nobody else other than the Russians.

    But the U.S. doesn't want Iran in the -- sort of in the mix if they won't agree to at least the sort of underlying principle that this conference was convened on, which is this terrain to transition. So I also think it relates to the nuclear issue, in that the Saudis who already have their nose out of joint about the Iran issue, our allies, really don't want Assad and Syria -- I mean, don't want Iran in the Syria game.

    As you know, both those countries have opposing forces on the ground.

    GWEN IFILL: And -- but when you talk about Iran's influence on Syria, we're not just talking about diplomatic influence or friendship. We're talking about weapons, arms.

    MARGARET WARNER: Weapons, arms, and by most intelligence estimates, hundreds of Iranian Revolutionary Guard actual fighters, really good troops on the ground there, as well as, of course, as Kerry pointed out, Hezbollah, for which Iran is a major patron.

    So the U.S. has a lot of problems with what Iran is doing in Syria right now.

    GWEN IFILL: And how much does the U.S. have riding on coming up what -- it feels like, as if there are balls in the air, any one of which, the nuclear deal or the Syrian peace talks, could crash to ground and ruin everything, spill over everything else.

    MARGARET WARNER: I think, Gwen, that is why the administering has decided not to tie the two together, because the Obama administration, the number one priority is stopping this nuclear program. That's the thing that is a threat to the U.S. That is the thing that is potentially a threat to allies in the region like Israel.

    And so -- and also it offers an opportunity for a cleaner victory. I mean, there is at least the prospect of a legacy-producing deal. It's at least in sight. Whatever happens in Syria, the outcome is going to be very messy. It's not going to be pretty. The war is not going to end any time soon.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    MARGARET WARNER: And, finally, of course, the Obama administration, the president is on the hook potentially to intervene militarily if the Iranian nuclear deal should fail and Iran should resume its pell-mell pursuit. They're -- he's not obligated like that in Syria.

    GWEN IFILL: But this pause deal is just for six months.

    MARGARET WARNER: Just for six months.

    GWEN IFILL: And it is a very steep uphill battle to get to the next step.

    MARGARET WARNER: Absolutely, as the negotiations for this pause deal showed.

    GWEN IFILL: Margaret Warner, thanks so much.

    MARGARET WARNER: Thank you.

     

     


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, we update the situation in Haiti, four years after it was hit by a catastrophic earthquake that killed more than 100,000 people.

    Efforts to rebuild the poverty-stricken island were led by the United Nations. But in a cruel twist, U.N. soldiers sent there to help are thought to have inadvertently started a cholera epidemic one year later.

    Now a lawsuit is being brought by more than 5,000 Haitians.

    We have this report by Inigo Gilmore of independent television news.

    INIGO GILMORE: The Artibonite River is in many ways Haiti's life source. For generations, people have come here to bathe. It had always provided a natural and safe source of drinking water, too -- that is, until it was poisoned with cholera, just over three years ago. People around here started dying.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): This is where we take water to wash our clothes, to shower, to drink. And the U.N. is up there dumping their bathroom waste into the water. We got infected from the water.

    INIGO GILMORE: Soldiers stationed at this United Nations base perched by the river in the town of Mirebalais were accused of being the source of the cholera outbreak.

    In October 2010, it was alleged that dark liquid from an overflowing septic tank was spewing from the base into the river.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): My daughter got cholera when she was 2 years old, and, recently, she got sick again. She spent three days in hospital. She was much bigger than this. She's lost a lot of weight.

    INIGO GILMORE: Three years on, there's been nearly 700,000 cholera cases. Now this insidious disease is growing more deadly.

    At this Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Leogane, we met countless young families in distress.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): She was just crying. She was crying for three days, so we drove her here. She had diarrhea in the car. When we got here, they ran some tests, and it revealed she had cholera.

    INIGO GILMORE: The doctors are acutely worried about her child, Alchena. She's malnourished and fungus is spreading inside her mouth.

    Another sick baby, Ruji, is just six months old. Ravaged by their harsh living conditions, young and old are succumbing quickly to cholera, which should be easy to treat. But the number of clinics and doctors here is actually decreasing, as Haiti drops off the international agenda and aid budgets are slashed.

    DR. KENNETH LAVELLE, Doctors Without Borders: There are less and less treatment centers, you know. There is less and less preventive activities. So, as the organizations, as the government have disengaged from the day-to -day management of cholera, the number of deaths is increasing.

    This is the only facility where they can come. Everyone else, including the Ministry of Health, they're not present. They're not engaged in this medical activity, which is absolutely unacceptable.

    INIGO GILMORE: Haiti had never had a recorded case of cholera before 2010. Proof of its source is not definitive, but the scientific evidence from international and local experts has been stacking up.

    DR. JEAN ANDRE VICTOR, Haitian Association of Environmental Rights (through interpreter): Scientifically, you can't be 100 percent sure. But the waste from the base was being dumped into the river. And the first victims were drinking water from the river.

    The soldiers at the base came from Nepal, a country where cholera exists. The bacteria we identified matches the one from Nepal. All this cannot just be coincidence.

    INIGO GILMORE: It's nearly 10 years since the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti was launched. It's the third largest peacekeeping operation in the world, even though Haiti has not been at war.

    The U.N. mission has a fractious relationship with Haitians. Its force is accused in dozens of rape and sexual abuse cases, and now for bringing cholera. The epidemic is now reaching some of the most remote corners. Surrounded by rice paddy fields, this village lies more than two hours downstream from the U.N. base in Mirebalais. But, even here, cholera has taken a heavy toll.

    MAN (through interpreter): This is the water we used to drink from. We got cholera from this water.

    INIGO GILMORE: Villagers step forward to tell us about the loss of their loved ones.

    MAN (through interpreter): I lost my child. And I had cholera myself. When I lost my child, I thought he'd been poisoned. I took him to a traditional healer. Before we could do anything, the child was dead.

    INIGO GILMORE: This old man lost his brother, a cousin, and his two children. He seemed shell-shocked, wondering aloud who would now look after him.

    They took me to a nearby cemetery. And in the undergrowth, blue plastic sheeting was clearly visible. They told me how they wrapped the bodies in plastic and buried them hurriedly in unmarked graves, fearing the spread of contagion. There's no dignity in death around here. A human bone was lying near one grave.

    First, there was sorrow. Now there's real anger.

    MAN (through interpreter): The United Nations must be held accountable. We lost a lot. They should compensate us and they should do it right away.

    INIGO GILMORE: Their cause has been taken up by Haiti's leading human rights lawyer, who is seeking compensation from the U.N. for over 5,000 Haitian victims, whose plight, he says, is being ignored.

    MARIO JOSEPH, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (through interpreter): The recognition of human rights for rich people, human rights for poor people, we can't accept that, because United Nations is an organization for the world.

    INIGO GILMORE: Mario Joseph has now launched a lawsuit in New York's federal court to challenge the U.N.'s claims of immunity from prosecution. But over at the U.N. headquarters in Port-au-Prince, there's a refusal to even discuss the issue.

    Why didn't the United Nations committee just admit it's responsible for the outbreak of cholera in Haiti?

    SOPHIE DE CAEN, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti: Well, unfortunately, I can't comment on that particular side of the issue.

    INIGO GILMORE: Why?

    SOPHIE DE CAEN: Because we're not supposed to be commenting on issues that are being considered by the legal office in our -- in our headquarters.

    INIGO GILMORE: But it's not just a legal matter. There's a moral matter here as well. People are appalled by what's happened. They blame the U.N.

    SOPHIE DE CAEN: As I said, I'm sorry, but I can't -- I can't comment on it. I think what's more important is how to deal with it here and now.

    MARIO JOSEPH: The United Nations promotes the due process, the rule of law, the human right. They need to give Haitian people a day in court.

    INIGO GILMORE: But as he seeks his day in court against the U.N., it seems he won't be getting much help from his own Health Ministry, which is clearly reluctant to take on the world body.

    MARIE GUIRLAINE RAYMOND, Haitian Health Ministry (through interpreter): We support the Haitian people who are victims of cholera.

    INIGO GILMORE: You said you support victims of cholera. Do you support the claim of 5,000 against the United Nations?

    MARIE GUIRLAINE RAYMOND (through interpreter): We support the Haitian people.

    INIGO GILMORE: Can you answer the question? Do you support this claim, please?

    MARIE GUIRLAINE RAYMOND (through interpreter):: Do you answer my -- do you Do you hear my answer? You are the level of the Health Ministry.

    INIGO GILMORE: Suddenly, she'd had enough. She headed for the door, jumped in her car, and drove off.

    The Haitian government says it's working with the U.N. on a 10-year plan to rid Haiti of cholera. But the aid agency trying to hold back a disease that's already claimed over 8,000 Haitian lives says it's an emergency right now.

    DR. KENNETH LAVELLE: So who's going to treat these patients, yes? This problem is not going away, yes? An eradication plan over 10 years is a great idea, a great initiative, but it doesn't address the needs of the Haitian people today.

    INIGO GILMORE: Four years ago, the world responded to Haiti's massive earthquake with promises to rebuild the country and make it better than before. Four years on, many pledges still remain unfulfilled, and the world body stands accused of heaping more misery on this ravaged people.

     

     


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    Creative commons photo by Flickr user @Doug88888

    One cup of joe and your brain is ready to go, study finds

    Your morning cup of coffee may jump start your memory. That's according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, who have discovered a link between caffeine and improved memory for up to 24 hours.

    For the study, participants looked at a bunch of images. Five minutes later, they were blindly given a pill of either caffeine or a placebo. A day later they were shown a similar -- but not the same -- series of images. Those who had the caffeine were more likely to point out that the images were not the same ones they'd been shown the day before. To the researchers, this was proof the caffeine enhanced their memory.

    "To actually give caffeine after the study phase is something that has never been done in human studies before," said Michael Yassa, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins. "You really exclude all the other effects that are non-memory. It becomes about memory more than anything else."

    Researchers also found that the amount of caffeine can have varying effects on memory. Yassa said the "optimal dose" was around 200 milligrams, which is equivalent to one strong cup of coffee. "Above that dose people start to report some unfortunate side effects like headaches and nausea and so on," he said. "And below that you really don't get the benefit."

    Video by Johns Hopkins University

    H/T Bridget Bowman


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    Senators Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., talk before the start of a November Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing. On Monday, Mikulski announced the bipartisan spending deal Murray helped craft the framework for last month. Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

    House and Senate negotiators took another step away from governing by crisis Monday, reaching a deal on a $1 trillion spending measure to fund the government through September. The agreement avoids many of the politically-charged provisions that could have torpedoed a compromise and pares back the automatic, across-the-board spending reductions known as the sequester.

    The talks were led by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who released a joint statement Monday evening announcing the accord.

    The Morning Line

    "As with any compromise, not everyone will like everything in this bill, but in this divided government a critical bill such as this simply cannot reflect the wants of only one party," the lawmakers said. "We believe this is a good, workable measure that will serve the American people well, and we encourage all our colleagues to support it this week."

    The agreement fills in the framework set up in December under the bipartisan budget agreement crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, the chairs of the House and Senate Budget committees. The December deal called for a one percentage point cut to the cost-of-living adjustment for working-age military retirees, but the new proposal would roll back that provision for disabled veterans.

    The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery and Ed O'Keefe break down the numbers in the bill:

    All told, the bill would provide $1.012 trillion to the Pentagon and other federal agencies. An additional $92 billion would be set aside for overseas operations, including military activity in Afghanistan and assistance for the growing flow of refu­gees fleeing the war in Syria. The bill also authorizes $6.55 billion for domestic disaster relief.

    The measure authorizes a 1 percent pay increase for civilian federal workers and U.S. military personnel. But in response to several examples of excess spending by federal agencies, the bill would put in place new limits on certain conferences, official travel and employee awards.

    The National Institutes of Health would receive $29.9 billion, $1 billion more than under the sequester but $714 million less than the agency was due to receive last year before the sequester hit last March.

    While Democrats managed to stymie Republican efforts to strip funding for the Affordable Care Act and block the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, GOP lawmakers did win some concessions. The New York Times' Jonathan Weisman outlines those:

    The bill would cut $1 billion from the Affordable Care Act's Prevention and Public Health Fund, which Republicans have long targeted, fearing the administration would use it to bolster the law's online insurance exchanges.

    The legislation also would impose new requirements for the Internal Revenue Service in reporting its activities to the public and Congress after the agency's scrutiny of Tea Party groups' applications for nonprofit status. The $11.3 billion appropriated for the I.R.S. is down $503 million from the level enacted in 2013.

    Even with those victories, many conservatives are likely to oppose the measure given the size (1,500-plus pages), cost ($25 billion more than the original House target) and inclusion of funding for the implementation of the health care law. Just how staunch that pushback is will become apparent after House Republicans gather Tuesday morning for their weekly conference meeting.

    With less than 48 hours until government funding is set to expire, lawmakers are expected to approve a three-day spending measure to buy themselves additional time to move the compromise through both chambers.

    LINE ITEMS

    Was Gov. Chris Christie right to have included himself in advertisements for Jersey Shore tourism after Superstorm Sandy? Did Christie snub the Jersey City mayor too after not receiving his endorsement last year? Questions about Christie's political nature keep coming, just as he's set to deliver the State of the State address Tuesday afternoon and further acknowledge the George Washington Bridge mess. But while the rest of the country hones in on Christie, almost 60 percent of New Jersey residents still approve of his leadership, and 75 percent say political retaliation is politics as usual.

    The government released new enrollment data on the Affordable Care Act, including that many people who've signed up in federal and state marketplaces are older.

    Mr. Obama called former Defense Secretary Robert Gates a "good friend" despite the critical memoir Gates released last week.

    The president's highly anticipated speech Friday about the National Security Agency and its surveillance practices will be at the Justice Department.

    The Supreme Court Monday declined to review an Arizona law that would have blocked most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

    Democrats in Arkansas, particularly Sen. Mark Pryor, face an uphill battle in the next election because of their ties to President Obama's health care law, the Associated Press reports.

    Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Monday announced the hiring of Paul Teller, the former executive director of the Republican Study Committee in the House. Teller was fired last month for leaking internal documents to outside conservative groups in an effort to undermine the bipartisan budget agreement negotiated between Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

    Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., will retire that after four decades in Congress. "I look forward to one last year in Congress fighting the good fight and then working in new venues on the issues that have inspired me," Miller said in a statement announcing his decision.

    What happens when Congress cuts its own budget? The National Journal's Alex Seitz-Wald says the result leaves much to be desired.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio and Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan hope they can convince Pope Francis to visit New York City. In other news, test your skills in this New York Magazine "Who said it?" quiz, "Bill de Blasio or the Pope?"

    Detroit may not have to sell its art collection because of bankruptcy.

    Laura Vozella for the Washington Post writes about the history of Virginia gubernatorial pranks, including now-Gov. Terry McAuliffe's early morning surprise Monday from former Gov. Bob McDonnell.

    Despite Republicans' requests to remove it, Nevada's "None of these candidates" option will stay on statewide ballots. The Supreme Court chose not to hear a case regarding it.

    NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

    Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal explained how the Supreme Court Monday tackled a complicated case about when the president has power to make temporary political appointments without Senate approval and what it means for the Senate to be in recess. Those questions arose in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning. The Obama administration defended the president's practice of making well-timed appointments to skip congressional gridlock. Conservatives, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, believe the Senate holds more power.

    Judy Woodruff spoke with Ashton Marra, a reporter in West Virginia, and Coral Davenport, who covers energy and the environment for the New York Times, about the West Virginia chemical spill that polluted hundreds of thousands of residents' water. The Charleston Gazette describes in detail what federal inspectors saw at the spill site: the "Band-Aid approach."

    Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

    TOP TWEETS

    Seeking roommate. 20 terms in the House & unmatched legislative record preferred. Lover of cold cereal a must. http://t.co/oHy8z7wrKR

    — Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 13, 2014

    Sketch: POTUS spokesman Jay Carney and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell sitting on same bench at #SCOTUS args. pic.twitter.com/ja5DVMqv8K

    — Arthur Lien (@Courtartist) January 13, 2014

    I know, I know, we're "over" White House petitions. But: Make Rob Ford an honorary US citizen. https://t.co/84LpSz6ztk

    — Olivier Knox (@OKnox) January 13, 2014

    2% of Americans think this man is Joe Biden http://t.co/aKaEKD1f9Upic.twitter.com/5wL0P6k3nJ

    — The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) January 13, 2014

    PIC: This giant bear was left in @terrymcauliffe office by @bobmcdonnell#prank#vagovpic.twitter.com/avecVweXXJ

    — Joe St. George (@JoeStGeorge) January 13, 2014

    Only way ARod could get less popular is to announce run for Congress.

    — David Plouffe (@davidplouffe) January 13, 2014

    Aileen Graef contributed to this report.

    For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

    Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

    Questions or comments? Email Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

    Follow the politics team on Twitter:

    Follow @burlij

    Follow @kpolantzFollow @elizsummersFollow @ljspbs

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    Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday he considers Edward Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who leaked information about the National Security Agency's secret surveillance programs, a "traitor" who did not work within the carefully constructed system to correct perceived wrongdoing.

    Gates' comments came during an interview with co-anchor Judy Woodruff airing in full on Tuesday's PBS NewsHour. You can watch the NewsHour live online at 6 p.m. ET or on your local PBS station.

    Gates said neither the House nor the Senate's intelligence oversight committees had indicated any wrongdoing by the NSA or any lack of awareness of its surveillance programs. The question is whether NSA went beyond the limits of what the president and Congress approved, and that would be revealed in a review that President Obama plans to announce later this week, he said.

    "I think that the revelations have done a lot of damage," Gates said, adding about Snowden, "I think he's a traitor."

    He said the government has built an institution of oversight over intelligence-gathering for the past 40 years, and there are avenues for people to pursue with the authorities if they believe a law has been broken. Gates said for Snowden to make public his allegations instead "is an extraordinary act of hubris."

    Gates said if Snowden, who has taken refuge in Russia, was truly motivated as a truth-teller, he would have returned to the United States to "face the music."

    Read more: Robert Gates: Imposing new sanctions on Iran would be a 'terrible mistake'

    View all of our World coverage.

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    By Nick Corcodilos

    If an interviewer is rude or downright abusive, don't be afraid to walk out. You won't be missing any opportunities, advises headhunter Nick Corcodilos. Photo courtesy of Flickr user BPSUSF.

    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.

    Question: You have an awesome newsletter and I am glad that I have subscribed to it. I wish more people (especially companies that hire) would read it. Have you ever heard of an interview process where there is more than one interviewer, and the second or third interviewer just sits there and acts bored or is rude the whole time (yawning, etc.)? How would you recommend dealing with it? What is this type of interview? I have found no information on the web about it.

    I have never personally had this happen to me, but I have had friends tell me these things have happened to them. One interviewer will ask a question and, when the interviewee attempts to answer, the second or third interviewer will start talking to another interviewer or yawn in what seems like an obvious attempt to throw the interviewee off guard.

    I was in the Army some time ago, and I heard that this was frequently done during oral board interviews for promotion. The military I get, but not a company that is supposed to be professional.

    Nick Corcodilos: Thanks for your kind words about the newsletter -- glad you enjoy it. Believe it or not, there are lots of HR folks who subscribe. They tell me they're not the "personnel jockeys" I write about. I figure if they keep reading, maybe they're not!

    The situation your friends are experiencing is a variation on the "stress interview," where an employer will introduce something to stress out the job candidate. The classic move is for the interviewer to start yelling at the applicant, just to see what he'll do. (Of course, your friends might just be visiting employers that have actual, rude employees or managers in those interviews!)

    But it doesn't matter to me whether we're talking about rude interviewers or about interviewers who intentionally abuse applicants to test them. My advice is the same: Stop the interview. (See "Raise your standards.")

    Calmly but firmly explain that you're there to talk shop -- to demonstrate how you'll do the job profitably for the employer. If the interviewers don't stop their lousy behavior, ask yourself what their real intentions are. Here is what I'd say at that point: "But I don't work for jerks, or tolerate bad behavior in any business environment, including this interview."

    MORE FROM NICK CORCODILOS: Ask The Headhunter: Four Fearless Job Hunting Tips to Land a Job That Makes You Happy

    Then I'd walk out calmly, without raising my voice or being rude in any way -- because you're dealing with jerks. Some readers have suggested that a better response is to try to get the interview back on a good track by offering to show how you'll do the job, which is what I recommend normally. But in my opinion, an employer that has committed to the "stress interview" as a tactic is too far gone. (My advice to employers: "Don't conduct junk interviews.")

    If you really want to drive home the point to those interviewers, explain it to them this way:

    "If you worked in sales and treated a prospective customer like this, would you be surprised if the prospect got up and walked out? Of course not. You wouldn't be surprised, either, if your V.P. of sales fired you. Now, what do you think I'm going to tell people in our professional community about my experience here?"

    Honest -- that's what I'd do. People who behave like that are either naturally jerks, or they're "trained" jerks who behave that way because someone told them it was a cool way to interview people, by abusing them. None of it is acceptable.

    The minute you convince yourself that it's acceptable and try to appease your abuser, you become a sucker for an employer that one, has no idea what it's doing, or two, has just revealed what life will be like if you take a job there. I've walked out of meetings like that, and I've felt great. I couldn't care less what "opportunity" I might have missed because dealing with people like that is no opportunity.

    A company that tests you to see how you will deal with jerks is risking its reputation. I believe such "techniques" are invented by failed human resources managers who are clueless about how to judge people, so they start "HR consulting practices" and invent goofy tricks that they then "sell" to their clients. And it goes around like an infection.

    What kind of salary would you expect an employer to pay you to go to boot camp and be a full-time soldier for them? What kind of salary would you accept to work for a jerk?

    Dear readers: Have you ever been abused in a job interview? How? What did you do? How would you advise this reader?

    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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    Watch an excerpt of the interview with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

    Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States had "no choice but to sit down at the table with the Iranians" once they agreed to negotiate on the development of their nuclear program. In an interview airing on Tuesday's PBS NewsHour, he called sanctions, which Congress is considering, a "terrible mistake" and "strategic error."

    "The big question is what happens with a final agreement" on Iran's nuclear development, said Gates, who was wearing a neck brace after a fall at his home. He said six months should be a firm deadline for the nuclear deal.

    "The Iranians are first-class experts in slow-rolling their ... adversaries," and there is a risk of negotiations dragging out beyond the six months, he said.

    "Imposing new sanctions right now is a terrible mistake and would be a strategic error," Gates continued. Any new sanctions should be tied to the failure of negotiations, and that would strengthen the president's hand at the negotiating table, he said.

    Gates also said his new book, "Duties: Memoirs of a Secretary at War", is actually a positive assessment of President Obama, despite early attention deeming him critical of the sitting president. And Gates said if he had waited until 2017 -- the end of Mr. Obama's term -- to publish the work he would have lost the chance to try to contribute to the thinking behind current policies dealing with challenging countries. "To wait until 2017, makes any contribution that I could make irrelevant."

    Read more: Former Defense Secretary Gates calls NSA leaker Snowden a 'traitor'

    View all of our World coverage.

    Follow @NewsHourWorld

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    A new report claims that NSA surveillance may not be as useful combating terrorism as the government suggests. Video still by PBS NewsHour

    A report from the New America Foundation says that bulk surveillance of phones and emails by the NSA does not heavily contribute to terrorism prevention.

    The report, published Monday by the non-profit, nonpartisan public policy institute, says claims by the government that suggested the usefulness of the data, including four cases that were declassified in the wake of Edward Snowden's leaks, were "overblown and even misleading."

    For the report, the NAF conducted an analysis of 225 individuals, "recruited by (al-Qaida) or a like-minded group or inspired by (al-Qaida's) ideology" and charged in the United States with an act of terrorism post-Sept. 11. NSA surveillance contributions to initial investigations, the report states, were minimal.

    American telephone metadata was only found to have played a role in initiating 1.8 percent of investigations, with a total contribution from NSA surveillance to investigations coming to 7.5 percent of cases. Traditional investigative methods, however, including informants, community tips and targeted intelligence provided 59.6 percent of impetus for those investigations.

    The widespread use of informants suggests that if there was an NSA role in these cases, it was limited and insufficient to generate evidence of criminal wrongdoing without the use of traditional investigative tools.

    The report also concluded that bulk collection of American telephone metadata also had "no discernible impact" on terrorism prevention and only "the most marginal of impacts" on terrorist-related activities.

    Read the full report:

    Do NSA's Bulk Surveillance Programs Stop Terrorists?

    Related:

    What policies should be in place to 'fine tune' U.S. surveillance practices?

    President Obama to suggest changes to NSA surveillance programs

    Judge rules NSA's bulk collection of phone records is likely unconstitutional

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    Video streaming by Ustream

    Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J, gives the New Jersey State of the State address Tuesday afternoon. As part of his comments, he is expected to speak on the Fort Lee bridge scandal.

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    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a dinner in July 2013 as part of the Middle East Peace Process Talks. Parties from both Israel and the Palestinian Territories were in attendance. Photo by AFP/Paul J. Richards

    Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon vocally criticized U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's peace initiative between Israel and the Palestinian Territories on Tuesday.

    Ya'alon condemned the State Department's policies on Israel and called for the U.S. to leave Israel to negotiate on its own, reports Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli tabloid newspaper.

    "Secretary of State John Kerry - who has come to us determined and is acting out of an incomprehensible obsession and a messianic feeling - cannot teach me a single thing about the conflict with the Palestinians," Ya'alon said in the interview. "The only thing that can 'save' us is for John Kerry to win his Nobel Prize and leave us alone."

    Ya'alon is a prominent official in Israel's defense establishment and a member of Israel's right-wing Likud party. Before his appointment to the defense minister post, he fought in the Yom Kippur War, was appointed head of Israeli military Intelligence, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs.

    The U.S. State Department quickly issued a rebuke of the comments. "The remarks of the defense minister, if accurate, are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel's security needs," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a short, but rare statement criticizing Israel, traditionally a close American ally. Ya'alon


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    D.C. Appeals Court. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor AgnosticPreachersKid

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down the Federal Communications Commission's open Internet rules today. The court's decision could give broadband providers, like Verizon and Comcast, the ability to charge content providers more for faster speeds.

    The FCC's net neutrality rules were created to ensure Internet service providers treat similar content equally. The court found that the FCC did not have the authority to impose these regulations. Because they did not recognize broadband carriers as common-carriers, such as telephone companies, these companies do not have to operate under the same regulations. Common-carrier refers to a company that provides a product to the general product, under the supervision of a regulatory body.

    The federal appeals court threw out another FCC regulation, which kept internet providers from blocking Internet traffic completely.

    The survival of net neutrality is now dependent on the FCC reclassifying the Internet. Chairman Tom Wheeler has said he supports net neutrality, but also opposes regulation of the Internet.

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    One of the most famous attractions at the Detroit Institute of Arts is a mural by Mexican artist Diego Rivera.

    While debate raged about the prospect of liquidating the collection at the Detroit Institute of Art, U.S. Chief District Judge Gerald Rosen, the federal mediator in the Detroit bankruptcy, came up with an innovative, alternative solution.

    Rosen called the head of Community Foundations for Southeastern Michigan to see if foundations might be interested in buying the museum from the city, thereby providing millions of dollars. That money would then be used to save pensions, which are currently on the bankruptcy chopping block.

    Calls were made to foundations, and on Monday Rosen announced the pledge of $330 million by nine organizations, including both influential, national foundations and smaller, local groups.

    In 2003, the DIA was the second largest municipality-owned museum in the U.S.

    According to the Detroit Free Press, that level of support, specifically through a coalition of foundations, is unprecedented.

    But does this deal have legs? The total pledged is $170 million less than Rosen's original goal of $500 million. Will that smaller sum be enough for unions aiming to protect pensions?

    The museum has asked the state for money to protect the art, offering in return an expansion of statewide exhibitions and educational programs. As of now, it is unknown whether the state will add money to the pot.

    The Detroit Free Press also reported that other creditors are likely to be unsatisfied and will continue to push for liquidating the DIA assets.

    Christie's auction house appraised part of the collection at $454 million to $867 million in a report commissioned by the city and released in December. That audit only took into account the 2,773 works of art purchased with city funds, not the 66,000 works that are in the collection and owned by the city. Other creditors believe it's worth billions of dollars.

    If the deal does go through, the museum and its collection will be safe.

    "The city would have no claim on any of the art. So it would permanently shield the museum from the vagaries of municipal finances," Mark Stryker, the arts reporter for the Detroit Free Press told Art Beat.

    In December, Detroit Public Television premiered it's documentary "Detroit Art City: The Detroit Institute of Arts Story," which tells of the story of the one of America's most significant art collections and how its fate came to rest in a legal battle over the Motor City's future.


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    UNAMID police advisors from Nigeria stand in formation during the celebration of the Police. Photo by Flickr User Albert González Farran - UNAMID.

    After Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, signed a bill last week penalizing gay marriage and gay clubs, societies and organizations, dozens of gay men are reportedly arrested across Nigeria.

    The legislative, widely condemned by the international community and Secretary of State John Kerry, enforces penalties of 14 year in jail for gay marriage and up to 10 years for membership or encouragement of any gay organizations.

    Dorothy Aken'Ova, executive director of the country's International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights, told the Guardian that the laws will endanger program combating HIV-Aids in the gay community in a country with the second-largest HIV epidemic in the world. Nigeria has an estimated 3.4 million people living with HIV.

    President Jonathan's spokesman said the law " is in line with the people's cultural and religious inclination. So it is a law that is a reflection of the beliefs and orientation of Nigerian people".

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The House of Representatives today approved a bill to fund the government through Saturday, and sent it to the Senate. It buys three more days to pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill for the rest of the fiscal year. The omnibus measure fleshes out the budget deal that Democrats and Republicans reached at the end of last year.

    There's no agreement yet on legislation to restore extended unemployment benefits. Democrats and Republicans clashed again today on the issue. It's now unclear whether any action is possible before the Senate leaves next week for the Martin Luther King day recess. We will hear more about all of today's action and inaction in Congress right after the news summary.

    President Obama warned Congress today that he means to move his economic agenda one way or the other. At a Cabinet meeting, the president said, "We need all hands on deck to build on the recovery," and added that means using all the tools available, including executive orders.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We're not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we're providing Americans the kind of help that they need. I have got a pen and I have got a phone. And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president has already used executive orders to advance some of his ideas on gun control and immigration. Others, including a higher minimum wage and universal preschool, cannot happen without congressional approval.

    Internet providers won a big legal victory today on so-called net neutrality. A federal appeals court set aside rules that ensure content providers get equal access to broadband networks, such as Verizon and AT&T. The decision means that the networks are free to decide what gets transmitted to consumers and at what price. The Federal Communications Commission is considering an appeal.

    More of the Charleston, W.Va., area was cleared to use tap water today, six days after a chemical spill. A near-total ban has now been lifted for 35 percent of some 300,000 customers. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said today he thinks the entire system should be back up and running by tomorrow.

    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has apologized again for a scandal involving allegations of political retribution by his staff. Christie had already denied any role in closing part of a busy bridge to punish a Democratic mayor.

    Today, the potential Republican presidential contender addressed the issue at the outset of his state of the state address in Trenton.

    GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: Mistakes were clearly made. And, as a result, we let down the people we're entrusted to serve.

    I know our citizens deserve better, much better. Now, I'm the governor. And I'm ultimately responsible for all that happens on my watch, both good and bad.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Christie said he will cooperate with state and federal investigations, but he insisted his administration and lawmakers will not let the issue sidetrack the state's priorities.

    French President Francois Hollande had his own high-profile public appearance today, and his personal life was front and center. Hollande held his annual New Year's news conference days after a tabloid reported that he's having an affair.

    We have a report from James Mates of Independent Television News.

    JAMES MATES: The setting in the ornate splendor of the Elysee Palace befits the head of state of a great European power, which is why Francois Hollande's first appearance since being rumbled making furtive overnight visits to an actress has assumed such importance.

    In the French way, a leading journalist was designated to broach the embarrassing subject, nothing too searching.

    "Is your partner, Valerie Trierweiler, still the first lady of France," he asked?

    "Private matters are dealt with privately," was the sum of his answer, though he did say that his partner's status would be sorted out before he makes an official visit to President Obama in Washington next month.

    On the newsstands, the press have been less respectful, and, as for claims the French don't care about the private lives of their leaders, Closer magazine, which published the photos, has had to rush out an emergency reprint to satisfy demand. The only good news, it doesn't seem to have cost him any popularity.

    FRANCOIS-XAVIER BOURMAUD, journalist: There is not a lot of damage on his popularity because he was already very low in popularity. I guess he was at 20 percent, and it was lowest level ever known to a president in France.

    JAMES MATES: Valerie Trierweiler, the woman who may or may not still be France's first lady, remains in hospital undergoing what the French call a cure de sommeil, a sleep cure, in which she is kept sedated until she feels better. She may be there for the rest of the week, but when she comes out, that's when the real trouble for the president, personal and political, may begin.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In Iran today, President Hassan Rouhani claimed his government won a victory with a landmark nuclear agreement. Under the deal, Iran is to scale back its nuclear enrichment in exchange for economic sanctions relief over the next six months. Rouhani told supporters in the city of Ahwaz that the U.S. and others caved to Iran's demands.

    PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI, Iran (through interpreter): The Geneva agreement will be put into action within the next few days. Do you know what the Geneva means? It means the surrender of great international powers before the great nation of Iran. The Geneva agreement means the breaking of the barrier of sanctions that had been imposed wrongfully on this dear and peace-loving nation of Iran.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Iranian hard-liners have criticized the deal, arguing it infringes on Tehran's right to nuclear enrichment.

    A little later in the program, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates also weighs in on the Iran agreement.

    The National Football League's concussion settlement with former players ran into a body block today. A federal judge in Philadelphia denied preliminary approval of the deal worth $765 million. She voiced doubts that it's big enough to cover the health costs for some 20,000 retired players. The judge asked for more financial information.

    Wall Street bounced back from Monday's plunge, thanks to an upbeat report on retail sales. The Dow Jones industrial average gained almost 116 points to close near 16,374. The Nasdaq rose nearly 70 points to close at 4,183.

     

     


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    With extended deployments and multiple tours for U.S. troops, some people have asked whether the U.S. military should return to a draft. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says the military leadership does not consider this the answer.

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Lawmakers reached a deal Monday on a wide-ranging spending bill, but they remain divided over extending long-term unemployment benefits.

    NewsHour congressional correspondent Kwame Holman reports on today's action.

    MAN: In the opinion of the chair, two-thirds being in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the joint resolution is agreed to.

    KWAME HOLMAN: The House used a voice vote to pass a stopgap bill that will fund the government until the weekend. That takes care of a Wednesday deadline, allowing members to finish work on a massive bipartisan measure that will pay the bills through September.

    House Speaker John Boehner:

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-Ohio: We're in a situation where the government is in fact going to run out of money. We're going to have to move a short-term C.R. But we want to get this government funding in place as soon as possible.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Next up for the House: passing the main $1.1 trillion package, which runs nearly 1,600 pages. That vote could come tomorrow. Some Tea Party-backed Republicans are expected to oppose it, but Democrats are likely to join more moderate Republicans in pushing the bill to passage, and sending it to the Senate.

    Democrats claimed some victories in the bill, holding off Republican efforts to strip most funding for the president's Affordable Care Act. They also blocked efforts to reverse Clean Water Act regulations and controls on greenhouse gases. And the bill increases funding for Head Start by more than $1 billion.

    But Republicans won some concessions as well. The bill continues the ban on using federal money for abortions. And a GOP provision does cut a billion dollars from the health care law's Prevention and Public Health Fund. Another prohibits transferring Guantanamo Bay inmates to the U.S.

    More broadly, the so-called omnibus bill restores billions in pending automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs. And it exempts disabled veterans and spouses in those killed in action from a 1 percent cost-of-living benefit cut.

    President Obama praised the compromise at a Cabinet meeting today.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I was very pleased to see the House and the Senate agree to a budget and to put forward a bill that will fund our government at levels that allow us to take some important steps to provide the services and the help that Americans need, that American families need in order to get ahead in this economy.

    KWAME HOLMAN: But the bipartisan spirit didn't extend to the Senate's fight over providing benefits for the long-term unemployed. Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid offered to let Republicans have five amendments if they can get 60 votes to pass them.

    SEN. HARRY REID, D-Nev.: We want to have relevant amendments. I think that's only fair. And we hope -- we hope for my Republican colleagues, in the interest of getting an up-or-down vote on final passage, that's something that should -- should be fair.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly scotched that idea.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky.: Honestly ridiculous offer that he knows we couldn't possibly accept, which is that all of our amendments are at 60, final passage is at 51, and no budget points of order are available. They're typically available on every bill.

    KWAME HOLMAN: Later, the two sides blocked each other's proposals on the floor.

    Despite that dispute, the Senate is expected to come together to pass the large spending bill by Saturday, thereby avoiding a new government shutdown.

    GWEN IFILL: We take a closer look now at some of the specific provisions in the spending compromise with Ed O'Keefe. He reports on Congress for The Washington Post.

    Ed, we want to talk about the details of this budget bill, but I also want to ask you about this unemployment insurance standoff. Does that mean that any effort to extend the unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed, is that dead tonight?

    ED O'KEEFE, The Washington Post: It's not necessarily dead, but it's certainly on life support.

    I think, as Kwame there outlined, there are sort of procedural wrangling still going on between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats, Republicans wants to get this done, but I think Democrats still continue to insist that Republicans have to follow their will, and that's causing a lot of consternation for GOP senators.

    The bottom line, this issue will not be resolved most likely by the end of the week, and then, of course, the House and Senate are out of town next week for the Martin Luther King holiday, which means that this issue won't come up again until late January, right before checks would normally go out.

    GWEN IFILL: OK.

    Well, let's go back to the budget for a moment. The House and -- the Congress moved today on a short-term extension for a few days, and -- but the big news, is they're going to work on this long-term extension.

    What is the difference between what they're trying to work out here?

    ED O’KEEFE: Well, really, at this point, you know, it's all done except for the voting. This is a $1.1 trillion plan to fund the government until the end of the year, no more threat of a shutdown for fiscal 2014 and pretty much for fiscal 2015 as well.

    What that means basically is Congress and the federal government overall get back to normal order, to regular order. They now can go back to writing appropriations bills that outline specifically how money is supposed to be spent. Spending levels dip now back to levels that were seen during the late years of the Bush administration, before the economic downturn and the stimulus programs, and about $20 billion gets restored to the military, while other agencies continue to see some cuts.

    GWEN IFILL: Let's talk about some of those. It's really interesting sometimes to talk about the big numbers, but not to talk about the big impact.

    Something like embassy security, which might get lost in the big numbers, there's actual change in the spending on that?

    ED O’KEEFE: That's right.

    Remember, there was a lot of concern after the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, about embassy security, not only there, but around the world. And there's a little less in it this year because there was more put in last year, but, essentially, improvements and ongoing construction projects will continue around the world.

    There's also money for temporary diplomatic outposts -- outposts, like the location still in Benghazi and the bigger embassy in Tripoli.

    GWEN IFILL: How about the president's efforts to close Guantanamo? Is that affected by what is in this budget?

    ED O’KEEFE: Well, he can't move terrorism detainees out of Gitmo into the United States. That provision stays put.

    It's a long-simmering dispute really between lawmakers and the president. He would like to close it, but he will not be able to move them into a detention facility that he was eying in Illinois, lawmakers still saying it's too unsafe and too costly to do.

    GWEN IFILL: How about Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration? We're all -- we have still been obsessed about security and protecting ourselves. Does this budget affect that?

    ED O’KEEFE: Sure. The massive Homeland Security Department sees about a $300 million cut in spending.

    Some of this is targeted at TSA. It's not actually seeing a big change in its budget, but it is seeing a big change in policy, in that Republicans successfully were able to get Democrats to agree to begin allowing more private security contractors at some airports.

    Now, a lot of Republicans in the post-9/11 era who want to see private companies and not a government agency running security at smaller airports, even some bigger ones. And there are a collection of them around the country that do that. This essentially allows them to begin doing that a little bit more, but still caps overall security personnel to check you as you go in for a flight at about 46,000 workers.

    GWEN IFILL: Democrats also had a couple of wins in this, or else obviously they wouldn't be agreeing to it. And one of them is restoring funds for Head Start. How much is that?

    ED O’KEEFE: That's right.

    Overall, the program will see about $8 billion in funding. That's a big increase over last year. And a lot of the money is going towards things like grants for preschool programs, the Early Head Start program,a big victory for the president. It wasn't necessarily done the way the Democrats and the White House would have wanted in education funding, but getting that money back in for Head Start was seen as a big victory for Democrats.

    GWEN IFILL: And there's a little foreign policy working out in this budget, too, sending messages to people like Hamid Karzai: Sign the deal that we set up for you, or else.

    ED O’KEEFE: Exactly. If the Afghan government doesn't agree to the bilateral security agreement that is awaiting Karzai's signature, the government won't necessarily get more U.S. aid. But there's still $85 billion set aside of course for ongoing military operations in Afghanistan.

    Same goes for Libya. No U.S. aid to Libya until Secretary of State John Kerry ensures that the Libyan government has been cooperating with those investigations into that 2012 attack at the compound in Benghazi.

    GWEN IFILL: A lot of policy tucked away behind all those numbers.

    Ed O'Keefe, thanks a lot for helping us with it.

    ED O’KEEFE: Great to be with you.

     


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