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

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    2014 is a year of auditioning, positioning, networking and just plain hard work for people who might run for president in 2016. There’s plenty to do, and the pace has quickened since The Associated Press last took a broad look at preparations for a potential campaign. Here’s a look at 14 prospective candidates.

    A woman casts her vote for president in Los Angeles in 2012. Photo by Joe Klamar/Getty Images

    A woman casts her vote for president in Los Angeles in 2012. Photo by Joe Klamar/Getty Images


    HILLARY CLINTON:

    Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former Secretary of State speaks during an event at the University of Miami's Bank United Center on February 26, 2014 in Coral Gables, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former Secretary of State speaks during an event at the University of Miami’s Bank United Center on February 26, 2014 in Coral Gables, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    Nondenial denial: “I haven’t made up my mind. I really have not. I will look carefully at what I think I can do and make that decision sometime next year.” — ABC, December 2013. “Give me your name and number…. Obviously, thinking about all kinds of decisions.” — Coyly deflecting questions from a college student who asked her about running, March 22, Tempe, Ariz.

    Book: Yes, again. Previously published author has a new book coming in 2014, with a national book tour to follow.

    Visited Iowa: No. Steering clear of the early caucus/primary states. But Ready for Hillary, a super political action committee laying national groundwork for her potential candidacy, now is mobilizing for her in the state. The group dispatched 250 volunteers to Democratic county conventions to drum up support for her. (Third-place shocker in 2008 caucuses won by Obama portended scrappy nomination fight to come.)

    Visited New Hampshire: No. But Ready for Hillary is already working for her there. The group courted New Hampshire local officials, union leaders and the state Democratic chairman in a January visit and returned in March for a series of meetings with state lawmakers and organizers. (She beat Obama in 2008 primary to regain traction in nomination contest.)

    South Carolina: No. (Distant second to Obama in 2008 primary.)

    Foreign travel: Do birds fly? Former secretary of state doesn’t need to globe-trot any time soon. Spent 401 days overseas, flying nearly 1 million miles. Limited overseas travel in 2013: honorary degree at St. Andrews University in Scotland in September; trip to London in October for a diplomacy award and a fundraising concert for the family’s foundation. Attended memorial services for Nelson Mandela in South Africa in December. Two recent speeches in Canada.

    Meet the money: Can tap deep well of Democratic and activist money. She’s been raising money for Clinton foundation. Supporters launched a super PAC, Ready for Hillary, to support another presidential run, raising more than $4 million in 2013. Priorities USA said in January 2014 it will back Clinton if she runs, a sign that senior members of President Barack Obama’s campaign team are lining up behind her. Prominent bundlers such as Hollywood moguls Jeffrey Katzenberg and Haim Saban have signaled support. Clinton worked fundraising circuit to help Terry McAuliffe’s campaign for governor in Virginia and Bill de Blasio’s mayoral bid in New York City. Both won.

    Networking: A steady presence now on the speaking circuit, delivering paid speeches to industry groups and conferences and appearing before a number of groups with ties to the Democratic coalition, including stops on college campuses in Miami, Los Angeles and Tempe. Accepted lifetime achievement award from American Jewish Congress in March. Crossed paths again with potential GOP rival Jeb Bush at education event in Texas in March, six months after he awarded her the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia in his capacity as chairman of the National Constitution Center.

    Hog the TV: No. But late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel interviewed her at Arizona State University in March, when she called for a mass movement against global warming. Largely avoided TV interviews in 2013, giving a few when she departed the State Department, then sitting down with ABC’s Barbara Walters, who named her the “Most Fascinating Person of 2013″ in December. She appeared jointly with Obama on CBS’s “60 Minutes” early in 2013. NBC dropped a planned miniseries about her under pressure both from her allies and from Republicans.

    Do something: For now, a record to be judged as secretary of state, senator and first lady. Through the Clinton Foundation, she has launched an initiative to help children’s health and a separate partnership to promote women and girls.

    Take a stand: You name it, she’s had something to say about it in her varied political life. Post-Cabinet speeches have focused on the economy, housing, finance and opportunities for women. Obama objected to her proposed individual mandate for health insurance in 2008 campaign — a contentious idea then and now — only to adopt it in office. After Russia sent troops to Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, Clinton likened Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions to those of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. She has said the health care overhaul should be implemented and improved.

    Baggage: Age, Benghazi, and the politics of being a Clinton. She would be 69 on Inauguration Day in 2017. She lived through some grueling days as secretary of state. She counters with recollections of her energetic schedule as top diplomat. Republicans would love to pin blame on her for the 2012 deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. She does just fine politically, until she gets political. Then her old enemies come out of the woodwork. In long-confidential documents released from Bill Clinton’s administration, advisers urged her to “be real” and “humanize” herself, revealing concerns about her authenticity as a public figure.

    Shadow campaign: Keeping a traditional shadow campaign at arm’s length for now but she’s got a steamroller behind her. Ready for Hillary super PAC has received endorsements from Democrats such as Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm; several old Clinton hands are advising the group, including Craig T. Smith and Harold Ickes. The group is encouraging Clinton to run and laying a foundation of grassroots supporters for a campaign if Clinton chooses to pursue one.

    Social media: About 1.2 million followers on Twitter, her preferred social media outlet. In a tweet on Super Bowl Sunday, Clinton needled Fox News, the cable network that has often been critical of Democrats. “It’s so much more fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed & sacked!” Clinton’s quip was retweeted more than 57,000 times.

    - Ken Thomas


    GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, D-N.Y.

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Photo by Getty Images

    Andrew Cuomo. Photo by Getty Images

    Nondenial denial: “I’m sorry, I’m losing you. We have a technical difficulty. I’m running for governor of the state of New York.” — Pretending not to hear a question about his presidential intentions. Fox Business Network, Feb. 25.

    Writing a book: Yes. Expected in 2014 from HarperCollins. “Profound moments” of the New York governor’s first term in office plus “a full and frank account” of his private life.

    Iowa visits: No. Has stayed close to home, avoids most travel that would feed speculation of campaign ambitions.

    New Hampshire: No.

    South Carolina: No.

    Foreign travel: Yes, but not lately. Visited Israel twice in 2002 when running for Democratic nomination for governor.

    Meet the money: Raised $33 million so far for 2014 re-election with support from New York City developers and financiers. Attended December 2011 California fundraiser held for his 2014 governor’s re-election campaign by advocates of same-sex marriage. Cocktails, $1,000 a ticket’ dinner; $12,500 a ticket. Facing little-known opposition in his fall re-election race from Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

    Networking: Sparingly. Rarely leaves New York. Did not appear at 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., choosing instead to hold a side event for New York delegates at a Charlotte hotel. Skipped last year’s national governors meeting.

    Hog the TV: No, mostly avoids it, prefers radio. February appearance on Fox Business was rare exception. After being named sexiest 55-year-old by People magazine in November, called into the CNN show hosted by his brother, Chris, to rub it in. Asked why he doesn’t go on Sunday news shows, he told The New York Times, “Then you would say I’m running for president.”

    Do something: 2014 budget proposal calls for tax cuts for businesses, homeowners and renters. In 2013, pushed through nation’s first gun-control law after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre. Led New York’s effort to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011. Minimum wage boost, on-time budgets, teacher standards.

    Take a national stand: Environmentalists nationally and the energy industry are closely watching his pending decision whether to allow fracking in upstate New York counties near the Pennsylvania line.

    Baggage: Trumpets “remarkable string of accomplishments” in the state but record-high poll numbers fell in late February to about 60 percent favorable opinion, lowest level since he was elected. State economy grew at slower pace than national rate in 2012. Deflection: “I’m focusing on running this state and doing it the best I can. And that’s all there is to that.” Cuomo’s first marriage to Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, ended in a public and bitter divorce in 2005. Cuomo lives with Food Network star Sandra Lee.

    Shadow campaign: Overshadowed by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s shadow campaign. Considered a likely contender if Clinton ends up not running.

    Social media: Few if any personal tweets; Facebook also generated primarily by staff.
    - Michael Virtanen


    FORMER GOV. JEB BUSH, R-FLA.

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush takes the stage during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush takes the stage during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images


    Nondenial denial: “I can honestly tell you that I don’t know what I’m going to do.” — Standard disclaimer. “There’s a time to make a decision. You shouldn’t make it too early, you shouldn’t make it too late. There’s a time. There’s a window. And this is not the time for me. This is the time to show a little self-restraint.” — November 2013, CNN.

    Book: Yes. Co-authored “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution,” which he promoted on all five Sunday morning TV talk shows on March 10, 2013.

    Iowa visits: Yes, in 2012, economic development meeting in Sioux City, but he’s not making splashy visits to early-voting states yet, in keeping with his views about showing restraint.

    New Hampshire: No record of recent visits.

    South Carolina: Yes, in April 2012. Spoke to Empower S.C. Education Reform meeting.

    Foreign travel: Yes, a few times a year. Several visits to Israel, as governor (1999) and since then (private visit 2007). Also went there as Florida commerce secretary in 1980s.

    Meet the money: Yes, he’s got longtime connections on Wall Street and beyond — as a Bush, a former governor and now a senior adviser at the financial firm Barclays. Flew to Las Vegas in March to meet GOP super donor Sheldon Adelson and address senior members of Republican Jewish Coalition at Adelson’s company airport hangar. In February, his short video for a GOP fundraiser at Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., estate was a bigger hit than Sen. Ted Cruz’s keynote speech. Party in summer of 2013 for his immigration book at home of Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets and a leading Republican bundler.

    Networking: Picking up the pace this year. Recent travels to Tennessee, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas. Skipped Conservative Political Action Conference in March, after giving keynote speech to the influential group a year earlier. 2013 Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting. Speeches and meetings on education policy. Told Kemp Foundation in October he considers the U.S. a “center-right country” and conservatives must “get outside our comfort zone” to govern effectively.

    Hog the TV: No. Blanketed the Sunday talk shows in March 2013 to plug his book on immigration, but not many appearances since.

    Do something: Staked a position on immigration to the right of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and some others. Strong job approval ratings as governor of Florida, a swing state. Revamped state educational system, cut taxes, managed state through several hurricanes.

    Take a stand: Most prominently, an advocate for an education overhaul, including publicly financed private school vouchers and stricter accountability standards for teachers and students. A champion of “Common Core” academic standards developed by a bipartisan group of governors and state school officials and later promoted by Obama administration. Many conservatives — and some potential GOP rivals — see them as a federal takeover of local classrooms. Also supports immigration overhaul.

    Baggage: The Bush factor. Jeb is yet another Bush, which is a plus for many people but a huge negative for a big slice of the electorate that either didn’t like Bush 41 and/or 43, or simply objects to the whole idea of a political dynasty. Even Barbara Bush, when asked about son Jeb running, said last April, “We’ve had enough Bushes.” Not much he can do to deflect this, other than show he’s his own man, and keep 41 and 43 at a distance. “It’s an issue for sure,” he acknowledges. Also, his Common Cause advocacy and position on immigration put him at odds with some on the right.

    Shadow campaign: He’s a Bush — he’s got tons of connections. Sally Bradshaw, his chief of staff when he was governor, is his go-to political person.

    Social media: Tweets and posts many Wall Street Journal stories, education thoughts and some Bush family doings. Tweeted in November 2013: “Why would our President close our Embassy to the Vatican? Hopefully, it is not retribution for Catholic organizations opposing Obamacare.” Fact-checkers pointed out the U.S. Embassy in Rome was relocating, not closing.

    - Thomas Beaumont


    GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.

    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie responds to a question from a shore resident during a Town Hall meeting in Belmar, NJ, Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Photo by Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg News

    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie responds to a question from a shore resident during a Town Hall meeting in Belmar, NJ, Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Photo by Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg News

    Nondenial denial: “I am enormously flattered that folks would talk about me in my party as someone who they think could be a candidate for president. But I am absolutely in — nowhere near that consideration process.” Jan. 9 news conference addressing the scandal over Fort Lee, N.J., traffic tie-ups.

    Book: Not yet, and it’s a notable gap, but there’s time.

    Iowa visits: Yes, in 2012. Also in 2011 and 2012 to help U.S. Rep. Steve King raise money. More politically driven travel is clearly in the cards now that he’s chairman of Republican Governors Association for 2014 election year.

    New Hampshire: Yes, three times in the 2012 campaign, endorsing Mitt Romney in a visit to the state, campaigning for him there in January 2012 and returning in September for Ovide Lamontagne, GOP nominee who lost governor’s race. Schmoozed with New Hampshire delegates at GOP convention. The day after his November 2013 re-election victory in New Jersey, the New Hampshire GOP announced the hiring of Christie’s regional director, Matt Mowers, as its executive director.

    South Carolina: Yes, visited in 2012 to help Romney raise money.

    Foreign travel: Yes. First official trip overseas was in July 2012, to Israel, then Jordan. Visited Western Wall, met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told him Israel and New Jersey are similar in size and population but New Jersey probably has “better neighbors.”

    Meet the money: Yes, became RGA chairman in November 2013, giving him regular access to GOP’s top national donors. In that capacity, has already met donors in Idaho, Vermont, Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts and Utah. Was among a handful of high-profile Republicans to meet with super donor Sheldon Adelson in Las Vegas at his resort casino in late March. Went on an aggressive national fundraising tour in early 2013, courting GOP donors in New York City, the Washington area, Boston and Miami. Also raised money in Ohio, Wisconsin, Texas and California, where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hosted an event at his Palo Alto home.

    Networking: Yes, broad outreach now as chairman of GOP governors group, a position that offers regular face time with top party officials and donors nationwide. March speech pleased activists at Conservative Political Action Conference, a group that did not invite him to speak last year because he’d been too chummy with President Barack Obama in Superstorm Sandy’s aftermath. Addressed Republican Jewish Coalition spring meeting in Las Vegas, spending a full day with top donors and GOP operatives. Also was keynote speaker at 2012 Republican National Convention. At Aspen Institute in July 2013, started spat with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., from afar, criticizing libertarians in the party. Invited to speak to Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom conference, but declined and instead appeared with Bill Clinton in Chicago to talk about disaster relief.

    Hog the TV: Not so much these days. Typically avoids the usual sober circuit — most conspicuously, the Sunday news shows, although he appeared on four of them the day after his 2013 re-election. Preferred to cut up on late-night TV before the traffic scandal surfaced and investigations kicked in.

    Do something: Won November 2013 re-election, becoming first Republican to earn more than 50 percent of the New Jersey vote in a quarter-century. Led state’s response to Superstorm Sandy. Agreed to expand state’s Medicaid program under Obama’s health law, while some other Republican governors have refused to do so. Vetoed a bill that would have sanctioned gay marriage, but declined to appeal a court ruling that legalized it. Signed law increasing pension and health costs for public workers.

    Take a stand: Bridges partisan divide. Showed in disaster response that pragmatism trumped party labels, although questions arose later about whether politics played a part in recovery aid. In re-election, outperformed Republicans elsewhere among women and minority voters. Moderate stance could be a strength in a presidential election, although a weakness in striving for his party’s nomination, because accommodation is not what core constituencies of either party want to see. But he’s pleased some conservatives by taking on labor unions, voicing opposition to gay marriage and to abortion rights except in case of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman.

    Baggage: If you have to declare “I am not a bully,” you’ve got a problem. Christie apologized in January 2014 for highway lane closures near the George Washington Bridge apparently ordered by his aides as political retribution against a Democratic mayor who did not endorse him for re-election. He denied knowledge of the machinations. The episode deepened questions about what Christie, or at least those around him, will do to win, and took a toll in his popularity. Investigations are underway into the traffic episode and an allegation his administration linked Sandy aid to approval for a real estate project. Partial deflection: A nearly two-hour news conference packed with apologies, but it didn’t put questions to rest. One investigation cleared him but critics dismissed it as a whitewash because lawyers chosen by his own office conducted it.

    Shadow campaign: RGA chairmanship allows him to grow his national profile with voters and party officials with regular travel and key appearances. Began building broad coalition of donors through his national fundraising tour in spring 2013. There were also “draft Christie” movements in Iowa and South Carolina in 2011, where activists continue to support him. Hired senior Romney media mind Russ Schriefer in late spring 2013. But the shadow of scandal still hangs over his shadow campaign.

    Social media: More engaged in Twitter (“It was great to be able to visit with the owners of Rossi’s Rent-A-Rama in Ortley today”) than Facebook, where posts are by staff. No second-guessing himself in this post-election tweet: “if I walk away with 70 percent of my agenda, NJ is 70 percent better off than it would have been otherwise.”

    - Steve Peoples


    SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS

    Then-Senate candidate Ted Cruz speaks at the 2012 Republican National Convention. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

    Then-Senate candidate Ted Cruz speaks at the 2012 Republican National Convention. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

    Nondenial denial: “My focus is entirely on working for Texans in the U.S. Senate.” — February. Standard disclaimer when asked about running.

    Book: Yes, book deal disclosed by his agent in April. Also, a coloring book featuring Cruz has sold tens of thousands of copies since its December release.

    Iowa: Yes, four visits in eight months. In March, Cruz addressed influential Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators in Des Moines while also keynoting a packed county GOP event in Mason City. Went pheasant hunting and spoke at Reagan Dinner state GOP fundraiser in October, to conservative Christians in August and met privately with evangelical leaders in the American Renewal Project in July.

    New Hampshire: Yes, making his second and third trips in April to attend “Freedom Summit” sponsored by conservative groups including the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity in Manchester, and two weeks later, headlining a county GOP Lincoln Day Dinner at a North Country ski resort. First came for August 2013 state GOP committee fundraiser.

    South Carolina: Yes, “Pastors and Pews” event in November, cultivating relationship with religious conservatives. Also visited last May, speaking to annual state GOP dinner.

    Foreign travel: Yes, first visit to Israel in December 2012 even before being sworn in as senator. Again in January 2013 as part of Senate Republican delegation that traveled to Afghanistan, too.

    Meet the money: Yes, met in March with top California conservative donors and keynoted a February GOP fundraiser packed with high-rollers in the ballroom of Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., estate, Mar-a-Largo — though those gathered offered louder applause for a short video from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Cruz also huddled with Trump in New York City in November and has a list of potential donors that’s still skyrocketing after collecting more than 1.5 million signatures and counting for the online petition “Don’tFundObamaCare,” which he began in 2013.

    Networking: Yes. Addressed Conservative Political Action Conference in March, after landing the group’s coveted keynote role in 2013. He’s engaged in persistent courting of religious and economic conservatives in Texas and beyond, and pitched social conservative principles at Values Voter meeting in October, while also meeting privately beforehand with evangelical leaders. Addressed 2012 Republican National Convention before he was even elected to the Senate.

    Hog the TV: Yes, several Sunday news show appearances already this year, plenty last year. Frequent guest on Fox News and CNN.

    Do something: Threatened to filibuster February legislation raising the federal debt limit to avoid a government default, forcing U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and much of the GOP Senate leadership to vote against him and defy the tea party. His 21-hour, 19-minute quasi-filibuster on the Senate floor in September helped spark the government shutdown the following month. Argued before U.S. Supreme Court nine times, eight of them as Texas solicitor general (2003-2008).

    Take a stand: Cruz stood all night during his marathon Senate speech that began by opposing “Obamacare” but veered into his reading “Green Eggs and Ham.” He joked at the Gridiron Club dinner in March that the speech featured 21 hours of “my favorite sound” — his own voice. His encore debt-limit filibuster threat only further embodied core aspirations of the tea party.

    Baggage: Reputation as an upstart who seeks out controversy, which is also part of his appeal. Has always been polarizing in his own party, but GOP leadership was downright enraged with him after debt-limit filibuster threat. Also has family baggage: His father has called for sending President Barack Obama “back to Kenya.” But Ted Cruz has birther baggage of his own: Questions about his constitutional standing to become president because of his birth in Canada, to a Cuban father and American mother. Deflection: Cruz promised in the summer of 2013 to renounce his Canadian citizenship — but still hasn’t done so.

    Shadow campaign: Has a leadership PAC, Jobs Growth and Economic Freedom. Has been one of the largest beneficiaries of former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, and has gotten millions of dollars and grassroots logical support from the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and Ending Spending PAC. Heritage Action PAC helped sponsor Cruz’s 2013 tour of Texas and different states, opposing the health care law. His chief of staff is Chip Roy, who ghostwrote Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2010 book about federal overreach.

    Social media: Active on Facebook and Twitter, poses with a hunting rifle on his campaign accounts and in the usual suit and tie with flag backdrop on his Senate accounts. Much content is pumped out by staff.

    - Will Weissert


    GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, R-LA.

    Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks alongside other governors after a State Dining Room meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House February 25, 2013. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

    Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks alongside other governors after a State Dining Room meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House February 25, 2013. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

    Nondenial denial: “My honest answer is I don’t know what I’m going to be doing in 2016.” – February 2014.

    Book: Yes. But hardcover “Leadership and Crisis” from 2010 is dated. No set plans for another book, inner circle says. But his moves toward managed-care privatization in health care and school vouchers in education could anchor another policy-themed tome.

    Iowa: Yes, summer 2013 visit, then flew with Iowa governor to governors’ association meeting in Milwaukee. In Iowa seven times in 2012.

    New Hampshire: Yes, keynote speech to local Republican organization in March, headlined state GOP fundraiser in May 2013, two visits in 2012.

    South Carolina: Yes, attended August 2013 fundraiser for Gov. Nikki Haley, then back in September for Republican Governors Association fundraising.

    Foreign travel: Rarely, but that may be changing. January 2014 trade and investment mission to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, first time overseas as governor. Traveled to Canada in August 2013 to speak to Oilmen’s Business Forum Luncheon about his support of the Keystone XL Pipeline. A few trips while in Congress, 2004-2008.

    Meet the money: Yes, met leading GOP donors in New York City. Among prospective candidates who visited Iowa GOP donor Bruce Rastetter’s farm in August 2013 for annual fundraiser for the governor.

    Networking: Big time and small time, far and wide. Addressed Conservative Political Action Conference in March, also in 2013. Made time for fundraiser for local sheriff in Michigan. Altogether, has spent much of his time during six years as governor on the road, talking to GOP and activist groups in other states, supporting Republican candidates and promoting his achievements. Travel schedule has been unpopular at home. Has close ties with social conservatives. In March, created a political action committee to help conservative candidates running for Congress, giving him continued opportunities to network nationally.

    Hog the TV: Not usually, only occasional Sunday news show appearances since 2012 election. But he did monopolize the microphone at a February gathering of governors, issuing harsh criticism of President Barack Obama on the White House lawn, saying the president “seems to be waving the white flag of surrender” on the economy.

    Do something: Set an example for effective disaster response in several hurricanes and the Gulf oil spill (but unlike New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, trashed the Obama administration). Privatized a major chunk of Louisiana’s Medicaid program and most of the university-run public hospital system. Created statewide voucher program that uses tax dollars to pay for private school tuition. Signed abortion restrictions, backed a science education law that some academics say amounts to back-door promotion of creationism and fought to keep it impossible for gay couples to adopt jointly.

    Take a stand: Stands for “fundamental shifting (of) the size and focus of government” and has record on privatization to show he means it. Happy to carry social conservative banner while demonstrating curious mind on policy issues, at the risk of making him look seriously wonky.

    Baggage: Pesky state governance issues. Had to scrap ambitious plan to replace Louisiana’s corporate and personal income taxes with higher sales taxes because of strong opposition. THAT speech: No doubt critics will be happy to dredge up video of disastrous GOP response to Barack Obama’s first presidential address to Congress in 2009, a prime showcase that went awry when Jindal delivered a dud. Decades-old writing about an exorcist-type act he claims to have watched as a college student.

    Deflection: The first Indian-American governor in the United States helped banish the memory of the GOP response with funny, well-delivered speech to media elite at 2013 Gridiron dinner, which included this self-deprecating reference to his own prospects for a presidential run: “What chance does a skinny guy with a dark complexion have of being elected president?” Low approval ratings in home state. Biggest accomplishments have some holes critics can pounce on: a troublesome audit pointing to lack of accountability and performance standards in voucher schools; the Jindal administration’s award of a $200 million Medicaid contract came under investigation by state and federal grand juries; ethics overhaul that he called reform made it harder to prosecute ethics code violators.

    Shadow campaign: Setting up PAC called Stand Up to Washington to help GOP candidates in fall elections and extend his political and fundraising ties. Created Washington-based nonprofit, America Next, in October 2013 to push his policy ideas nationally. His media consulting shop is OnMessage, based in Alexandria, Va., where campaign strategist Curt Anderson has had a long relationship with him. Timmy Teepell, a former campaign chief of staff for Jindal, has been made a partner.

    Social media: Active on Twitter and on Facebook, where he lists among favorite books, “John Henry Newman: A Biography,” about canonized British cardinal and sage. Also favors James Bond movies.

    - Melinda Deslatte


    SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.

    U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) waves as he speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 29, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.Nondenial denial: Says he will decide after the 2014 elections whether to run. “We’re definitely talking about it, my family is talking about it. I truly won’t make my mind up until after the 2014 elections. But I haven’t been shy in saying we’re thinking about it.” — Fox News, March 9.

    Nondenial denial: Says he will decide after the 2014 elections whether to run. “We’re definitely talking about it, my family is talking about it. I truly won’t make my mind up until after the 2014 elections. But I haven’t been shy in saying we’re thinking about it.” — Fox News, March 9.

    Write a book: Yes. But may need something less flame-throwing than 2012′s “Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans Are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds,” and something less dated and more broadly pitched than 2011′s “The Tea Party Goes to Washington.”

    Iowa visits: Yes, three times in 2013. In March snagged the state GOP chairman, who announced he was quitting to join Paul as an adviser.

    New Hampshire: Yes, visiting state for spring events in Dover and Manchester. Won straw poll at March meeting of Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua. Several visits last year.

    South Carolina: Yes, foreign policy speech at The Citadel military college and small GOP fundraiser in Charleston in November 2013 visit; headlined several fundraisers earlier last year.

    Foreign travel: Yes. Visited Israel, Jordan in 2013, met Palestinian Authority as well as Israeli leaders, said in speech in Israel that U.S. should trim aid to Israel gradually. Member of Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    Meet the money: Yes, attended Mitt Romney’s Utah retreat in June with big GOP donors, golfed with some there. Met potential donors in New York City and California. Raised money for Nevada GOP at Las Vegas event in July. Has met donors and supporters in Texas, which his father represented in Congress.

    Networking: Yes. Generated plenty of buzz and won a symbolic straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March. Campaigned in fall 2013 for GOP candidates in Virginia governor’s race and Senate election in New Jersey. Met Michigan Republicans in September. Pitched social conservative principles at Values Voter meeting in October, also meeting privately beforehand with evangelical leaders, in what shaped up to be an audition on social issues for several prospective candidates. Earlier in 2013 spoke to CPAC, Faith and Freedom Coalition forum, FreedomFest libertarian event in Las Vegas and at Reagan Presidential Library on California trip that also took him to Silicon Valley tech companies. Planning spring speeches at Harvard and University of California.

    Hog the TV: Yes, a fixture on the Sunday news shows; he’s on a first-name basis with the hosts. Also frequent guest on news networks, especially Fox.

    Do something: One-man, nearly 13-hour Senate filibuster to protest drone policy made country take notice, and impressed civil-liberties advocates outside his tea party constituency.

    Take a stand: Tea party plus. Fiscal conservative, criticizes surveillance state, praised Supreme Court gay marriage ruling as one that avoids “culture war,” aggressive in seeking repeal of the health law. In February, filed lawsuit against Obama and others in the administration over the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. Joining in 2014 with liberal lawmakers and others in effort to roll back some mandatory minimum sentences and give judges more flexibility in fitting punishment to crime. Snippy exchanges with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signal scrappy nomination fight if they both run, and he’s reaching across party lines — to take swipes at Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    Baggage: Dear old dad: Must move beyond fringe reputation that kept father’s presidential runs from going far. Deflection: Full-speed ahead. Aggressively pressing libertarian principles, especially on anti-terrorism. Past positions: Expressed misgivings about how Civil Rights Act bans racial discrimination by private businesses. Deflection: Reaching out directly to black voters and insisting the party needs to broaden appeal to minorities. He needs to broaden his appeal, too, beyond his tea party roots. The Washington Times canceled his column after he was found to have used passages from other people in his speeches and writings as if they were his own. Deflection: Promising proper citations and footnotes for his pronouncements “if it will make people leave me the hell alone.”

    Shadow campaign: Has formidable leadership PAC called Rand PAC, has maintained ties to father’s political network in early primary states, and benefits from strong tea party support.

    Social media: Aggressive. Bragged last year that he’d attracted more than 1 million likes for his Facebook page, where he lists his own books as his favorites. Countered Christie’s couched criticism of his opposition to warrantless wiretapping with a tweet declaring that Christie “worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom.”

    - Ken Thomas


    GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the 2013 NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center on May 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the 2013 NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center on May 3, 2013 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


    Nondenial denial: “It’s a long way down the road.” — Iowa, February. Says he’ll decide in December.

    Book: Not since 2010.

    Iowa visits: Yes, visited Des Moines suburbs and Davenport in February, meeting GOP activists and attending an event with business leaders sponsored by the Koch brothers’ Americans For Prosperity. Also met with Gov. Terry Branstad and addressed a Des Moines crowd of 400 in November.

    New Hampshire: No.

    South Carolina: Yes, spoke to state GOP in December. Also visited in August to raise money for Gov. Nikki Haley’s re-election campaign. This is the state where he announced his failed presidential campaign, in August 2011, and where he dropped out, in January 2012, two days before its primary.

    Foreign travel: Yes, has visited Israel numerous times including an October trip that included a photo op with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meeting Cabinet members, and a separate stop in London to see British officials and financial leaders.

    Meet the money: Yes, very friendly with major donors nationwide as former head of the Republican Governors Association, and has strong contacts with both grass-roots activists and mainstream GOP donors from his years in office. Since announcing last summer he won’t seek a fourth full term, has had more time to work the phones privately. Also has led many job-poaching missions in big states with Democratic governors and met privately during those trips with key donors, especially in New York and California.

    Networking: Yes, spoke at the past two Conservative Political Action Conferences, as well as its regional meeting in St. Louis in September. Addressed conservative activists at a RedState Gathering in New Orleans in August, mistakenly saying he was in Florida. Job-rob tour in various states helped make connections.

    Hog the TV: Raising his profile lately, making several national TV appearances while starring in a flood of media spots in California designed to persuade businesses based there to move to Texas. Previously, though, not much. Only a few Sunday talk show appearances since 2012 election, including one in February with three other governors. Said on CNN in February “it wasn’t appropriate” for his old friend, renegade rocker Ted Nugent, to call President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel.” Perry debated health care law on “Crossfire” in September with Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who’s considering running for Democratic presidential nomination.

    Do something: “Texas Miracle” job-creation boom has seen state create a third of the net new jobs nationwide over last decade, although Texas has disproportionately high percentage of hourly workers earning minimum wage or less. Helped muscle new abortion restrictions into law last summer. Challenged the Democratic candidate to replace him as governor, state Sen. Wendy Davis, on the abortion issue by asking, what if her mother had aborted her?

    Take a stand: A prominent voice on conservative issues since before the birth of the tea party. Wants to ban all abortion in Texas, relax environmental regulations, boost states’ rights; opposes gay marriage and says the health care law is doomed.

    Baggage: “Oops!” Memories of his stumbling 2012 campaign, a quick progression from a front-runner to flameout. Deflection: He’s got a more serious, mature look with dark-framed eyeglasses first donned in August and more touches of gray for the man long dubbed “Governor Good Hair.” He followed up his “oops” brain freeze in a November 2011 debate, when he forgot the name of the third federal department he wanted to close — the Energy Department — by poking fun at himself and by noting frequently that “second chances are what America’s all about.”

    Shadow campaign: Created a political action committee, Americans for Economic Freedom, in 2013 to raise his profile again, help him test the waters and broadcast ads promoting Republican governors around the country. Using more than $200,000 left over from the PAC that raised millions for his 2012 campaign, the group was formed with Jeff Miller, a former chief financial officer for the California Republican Party, as CEO. Board members include Marc Rodriguez, chairman of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and a fellow Texan, St. Louis beer baron August Busch III, economist Art Laffer and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose 2012 White House campaign Perry endorsed upon giving up his own presidential bid. That PAC and private marketing fund Texas One have paid for much of Perry’s domestic and overseas travel.

    Social media: Active. One popular tweet was accidental — from his pocket, he said — and consisted of “I.” Followers jumped in to complete his sentence. One offered: “I … really like Obamacare.” (He doesn’t.) Facebook appears staff-generated. Calls himself now simply a politician, though he was still listed on Facebook as a presidential candidate long after he left the 2012 race.

    - Will Weissert


    SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.

    Sen. Marco RubioNondenial denial: “That’s something that I’ll consider later in this year, early next year.” March 2014, NBC.

    Book: Yes, now has a new book tentatively scheduled for release in late 2014, from same publisher of his 2012 memoir “An American Son.”

    Iowa visits: Yes, just days after 2012 election, but largely holding off on a new wave of trips to early voting states until later this year.

    New Hampshire: Making his first appearance of the 2016 season, in May, at county Republican dinner. Multiple appearances before 2012 election. In May 2013, his Reclaim America PAC put up ads to defend GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte against attack ads from group financed by then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

    South Carolina: Yes. In ahead of the 2016 pack, headlining state’s Silver Elephant dinner in 2012. Stay tuned for more.

    Foreign travel: Yes. Delivered foreign policy speech in London in early December, visited the Philippines, Japan and South Korea in January; Israel, Jordan, Palestinian Authority in February 2013. Also went to Israel after 2010 election to Senate, Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2011, Spain, Germany, Haiti and Colombia in 2012. Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    Meet the money: Yes, aggressive national fundraising outreach, including trips to New York and California to meet potential donors. Among a handful of possible candidates to attend September 2013 event at home of Woody Johnson, New York Jets’ owner and Mitt Romney’s national finance chairman. Also attended a fundraising strategy meeting at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters in Washington with well-connected lobbyists and Mitt Romney bundlers from 2012 election. Among top fundraisers in early 2016 field in campaign and leadership political action committees.

    Networking: Yes, conservative and party activists, focused in part on repairing tea party relationships strained over immigration. Well-received speech to Conservative Political Action Conference in March, though he lagged in the symbolic straw poll. Campaigned for Republican in Virginia governor’s race last fall. Spent more than $200,000 in early December 2013 from PAC to help U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, who’s running for the U.S Senate in Arkansas. In October won standing ovations at Values Voter conference when affirming his Christian faith and denouncing “rising tide of intolerance” toward social conservatives. Delivered keynote address at fundraiser for the Florida Family Policy Council, an evangelical group that led the successful 2008 effort to ban gay marriage in the state. In late November, delivered foreign policy speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute before going to London.

    Hog the TV: Staying on par with most rivals in Sunday news show appearances. Blanketed all five Sunday shows one day in April 2013, before he dropped the subject of immigration; made several other appearances since. Frequent guest on news networks. Was granted coveted chance to present televised Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union speech in 2013, which he did in two languages and with jarring reach for drink of water.

    Do something: Broker of Senate immigration overhaul, though he’s gone quiet on the issue. Worked with anti-abortion groups on Senate version of bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. Early leader in so-far futile effort to starve federal health care law of money.

    Take a stand: A 2014 initiative on poverty that calls for replacing the earned income tax credit with a federal wage supplement for workers in certain low-paying jobs. Also, consolidate anti-poverty federal money into a single agency that would transfer the money to states. Advocate tea party fiscal conservatism and repeal of the health care law. Recent focus on foreign policy and education, too.

    Baggage: A rift with his tea party constituency on immigration, “a real trial for me.” Deflection: Go aggressive on a matter of common ground, which he did in pledging to take apart Obama’s health law. Dry-mouthed Rubio suffered embarrassing moment when he clumsily reached for water while delivering GOP response to Obama’s State of the Union address. Deflection: Self-deprecating jokes about it. Thin resume for presidency, but others — Obama included — have powered through that problem. Bush shadow: unclear if he would run should his mentor, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, get in the race.

    Shadow campaign: Reclaim America PAC led by former deputy chief of staff, Terry Sullivan, veteran of South Carolina politics. The PAC has already spent six figures to defend Ayotte on gun control and expects to be active behind GOP candidates across country in 2014 election. Will begin more aggressive travel to early voting states starting in May.

    Social media: Aggressive, with large followings, appears to make personal use of Twitter more than staff-generated Facebook. Takes lots of shots at the health law. On Facebook, lists “Pulp Fiction” movie and “The Tudors” historical fiction TV series among favorites.

    -Steve Peoples


    REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WIS.

    Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan. Photo by Rod Lamkey/Getty Images

    Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan. Photo by Rod Lamkey/Getty Images

    Nondenial denial: “Jane and I are going to sit down in 2015 and give it the serious … conversation, consideration that are required for keeping our options open. But right now I have responsibilities in the majority in the House of Representatives that I feel I ought to attend to and then I’ll worry about those things.” March 9, CBS.

    Book: Yes, coming this year.

    Iowa visits: Yes, keynote speaker for Iowa GOP’s big fundraising dinner in Cedar Rapids this spring. Main speaker at governor’s annual birthday fundraiser in November 2013, in first visit since 2012 campaign. “Maybe we should come back and do this more often,” he teased. Wife’s family is from Iowa and their Janesville, Wis., home is only a few hours away.

    New Hampshire: Yes, headlined Manchester fundraiser in February for former House colleague, Frank Guinta, who is trying to win back the seat he lost in 2012.

    South Carolina: During 2012 campaign.

    Foreign travel: Yes. Middle East travel during congressional career, visited troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Meet the money: Yes, attracts Wall Street interest, attended Mitt Romney’s Utah retreat with major GOP donors, where he took some guests skeet shooting. Place on 2012 ticket gives Ryan a leg up on money matters.

    Networking: Yes, prime networker as 2012 vice presidential candidate, addressed Conservative Political Action Conference in March, the 2013 Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting and more. Helping fellow House Republicans raise money.

    Hog the TV: Many Sunday news show appearances since 2012 election. Occasional guest on network news.

    Do something: Republican broker of the bipartisan budget deal in December that averted a potential government shutdown in early 2014 and scaled back across-the-board spending cuts. The deal draws a contrast between Ryan and potential rivals who oppose it. A budget-hawk record to be judged on. May be emerging as influential moderate on immigration.

    Take a stand: Cutting spending, taking on entitlements. Anti-poverty initiative has also become a focus, taking him to poor precincts and producing detailed report on the poor that could be precursor to legislation. Pushing for immigration overhaul, largely behind the scenes.

    Baggage: On one hand, budget pain. Critics are sure to dust off ads from 2012 presidential campaign blasting the sharp cuts that Ryan advocated for Medicare and other programs. But this is catnip to GOP conservatives. On the other hand, his December 2013 bipartisan budget deal risks trouble with the tea party. Still carries stigma of national ticket loss in 2012. Immigration position rankles some conservatives. Comments in March about cultural “tailspin” in inner cities and “generations of men” having lost the work ethic there struck some as veiled racism. Deflection: Called his remark “inarticulate.”

    Shadow campaign: His Prosperity Action PAC.

    Social media: Aggressive, with large following. King of Facebook among potential rivals in both parties. Seeks $10 donations for “Team Ryan” bumper stickers for his PAC and kisses a fish. Posts photo of President Barack Obama with his feet up on Oval Office desk. Commanding presence on Twitter, too, via an account associated with his political action committee and another as congressman.

    -Calvin Woodward


    FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PA.

    Rick Santorum appears on the PBS NewsHour during the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, Florida.

    Rick Santorum appears on the PBS NewsHour during the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, Fla.

    Nondenial denial: “I’m certainly looking at it pretty seriously.” March 7, Fox.

    Book: Yes, coming in 2014, “Blue Collar Conservatives.”

    Iowa visits: Yes, recent visit with strategists and media. Also, August 2013 speech to conservative Christians in state where he won the 2012 caucuses. Illness kept him away from an event last April by Faith and Freedom Coalition. Screened his new Christmas movie in Iowa in November.

    New Hampshire: Yes, March speech to Northeast Republican Leadership Conference marked his return to a state where he performed weakly in 2012 campaign.

    South Carolina: Yes. Campaigned in April 2013 for former Gov. Mark Sanford’s opponent, Curtis Bostic, in a GOP House runoff race. Sanford won.

    Foreign travel: Scant foreign travel while in the Senate drew notice in 2012 GOP campaign.

    Meet the money: 2012 shoestring campaign was largely fueled by a super political action committee to which Republican donor Foster Friess gave more than $2 million. Santorum bunked at supporters’ homes on occasion.

    Networking: Opened 2014 with Texas speech to conservative think tank and followed with speech to Conservative Political Action Conference criticizing GOP establishment. Speeches around the country. In 2013, previewed “The Christmas Candle,” a film made by his Christian-themed movie company, for conservative religious leaders at Values Voter conference in Washington. Screened it for other like-minded groups.

    Hog the TV: Yes, largely in pursuit of plugging his Christmas movie. “The Colbert Report,” Fox News, MSNBC and more. Radio, too. Teamed up with Democrat Howard Dean as sparring partners for debates on the air and with audiences. Occasional Sunday news shows.

    Do something: Making Christian-themed, family-friendly movies at the moment; has record from Senate days.

    Take a stand: Lately, against “dangerous” U.N. Disabilities Treaty. Social conservative activism goes way back. Focus on blue-collar economic opportunity.

    Baggage: Overshadowed by newer conservative figures, conceivably out-popes the pope on some social issues. 2012 positions included opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest and support for right of states to ban contraception and gay marriage. Deflection: Being overshadowed means being an underdog, and he can thrive at that. Feisty 2012 campaign became the biggest threat to Romney’s march to the nomination at one point.

    Shadow campaign: Keeps in touch with chief supporters of his winning 2012 Iowa caucus campaign, giving him a leg up on a campaign organization in the state.

    Social media: Active on Twitter and Facebook, where he relentlessly plugs his new Christmas movie, gives away tickets and goes after the health law.

    -Calvin Woodward


    GOV. SCOTT WALKER, R-WIS.

    Republican National Convention, rnc, 2012

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    Nondenial denial: “I’m really focused on 2014, not getting ahead of the game. … You guys can predict all you want.” — Jan. 5, CNN.

    Book: Yes. “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge,” was out in fall 2013.

    Iowa visits: Yes. In May 2013, spoke to 600 at GOP fundraiser outside Des Moines. Talked about his seven years as a young child living in Plainfield, a tiny town in northeast Iowa. “Yeah, I’m going to Iowa, but I get invited to other states that have nothing to do with presidential politics,” to Wisconsin State Journal.

    New Hampshire: Yes, headlined a GOP state convention in October 2013, keynote at state party convention in September 2012.

    South Carolina: Yes, attended August 2013 fundraiser for Gov. Nikki Haley, who came to Wisconsin to campaign for him in 2012 recall vote.

    Foreign travel: Yes. China in 2013 on trade mission. Hasn’t been to Israel.

    Meet the money: Yes, addressed Republican Jewish Coalition at a Las Vegas gathering in March where the main attraction was Sheldon Adelson, a prolific Republican donor and casino owner who’s looking where to place his bets in GOP field. Headlined 2013 fundraisers in New York and Connecticut.

    Networking: One of only a few 2016 prospects who spoke to Republican Jewish Coalition. Skipped the big Conservative Political Action Conference in March, appeared there last year. Campaigned for GOP in Virginia governor’s race. Spoke to Michigan Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island last September. Hosted the National Governors Association summer meeting in Milwaukee in 2013. Conservative Political Action Conference, Aspen Institute. Aides said he hoped to campaign for Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., but couldn’t schedule it.

    Hog the TV: Already on the Sunday news show scoreboard for 2014, with a couple of appearances. Half-dozen such appearances since 2012 election. “Crossfire” debate with Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del., former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, D-Mont., and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. Also, Piers Morgan, Lou Dobbs, more.

    Do something: Curbs on public service unions became a national flashpoint, but he won the effort and the recall election that followed.

    Take a stand: Fiscal stewardship, from a GOP point of view. Tough guy against the unions and liberal defenders of the status quo. Says presidential and vice presidential candidates should both be current or former governors because GOP in Congress is the party of no.

    Baggage: Some things that give him huge appeal with GOP conservatives — taking on unions, most notably — would whip up Democratic critics in general election. Wisconsin near bottom in job creation despite his main campaign pledge in 2010 to create 250,000 private sector jobs in his term. Release of thousands of emails in February shed new light on a criminal investigation into whether Walker’s aides were illegally doing campaign work for the 2010 governor’s election while being paid as county employees. Walker, then a county executive, wasn’t charged but the episode has proved a distraction as he campaigns for re-election in the fall.

    Shadow campaign: Keeps close counsel with in-state group led by Keith Gilkes; also stays in touch with top national GOP governor strategists such as Phil Musser and Nick Ayers.

    Social media: Posts vigorously on Facebook and on his Twitter accounts. “Wow is it cold out.” Many exclamation points. “Glad USDA is keeping cranberries on school menus. I drink several bottles of cranberry juice each day!” Promotes policy achievements and his TV appearances, reflects on sports, pokes President Barack Obama.

    -Calvin Beaumont


    VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN

    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Photo by Thanassis Stavrakis/Getty Images

    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Photo by Thanassis Stavrakis/Getty Images

    Nondenial denial: “There may be reasons I don’t run, but there’s no obvious reason for me why I think I should not run.” — February, CNN.

    Book: Not lately. Could be time for a sequel to “Promises to Keep” from 2007, though his position as vice president might constrain him.

    Iowa: Yes, spoke at Sen. Tom Harkin’s fall 2013 steak-fry fundraiser. Raised money for Iowa congressional candidate Jim Mowrer. Schmoozed with Iowa power brokers during 2013 inauguration week in Washington. (Poor Iowa caucuses showing knocked him out of the 2008 presidential race.)

    New Hampshire: Yes. In March trip for Nashua job-training event, made time to raise money for three New Hampshire Democrats. Asked about presidential ambitions, he quipped, “I’m here about jobs — not mine.”

    South Carolina: Yes. Headlined annual fundraising dinner in May for South Carolina Democratic Party, a speculation stoker in big primary state. Appeared at Rep. James Clyburn’s annual fish fry. Spent Easter weekend last year with wife at Kiawah Island, near Charleston. Vacationed there for a week in 2009 as well.

    Foreign travel: You bet. Countless trips to Iraq and Afghanistan during President Barack Obama’s first term. Sent to Poland and Lithuania in March to reassure NATO allies anxious about Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Spoke regularly to Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, until Yanukovych fled to Russia. Seven trips to the Americas since 2009, including a March visit to Chile. December 2013 visits to China, Japan and South Korea, much more foreign travel earlier in Obama’s presidency.

    Meet the money: Actively fundraising for Democratic committees and candidates in the 2014 midterms. Headlined fundraiser at home of Biden donor in Florida for House candidate Alex Sink in February; Sink lost the special election in March. Regularly schmoozes contributors at private receptions.

    Networking: And how. Plans to campaign in more than 100 races in the 2014 election. Meets regularly with former Senate colleagues and congressional Democrats. Cozied up to important players during inauguration week, including reception for activists from New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina among other states; dropped into the Iowa ball, met environmental and Hispanic activists. Gives keynote speeches at annual state Democratic Party dinners across the country. Making calls for House Democrats’ campaign organization, assisting in recruitment of candidates. Campaigned for new Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, new Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey. Speaks regularly to special interests.

    Hog the TV: He’s back. After being largely absent from airwaves for more than a year, has resumed frequent interviews, including TV blitz the morning after the State of the Union and a CNN interview aboard an Amtrak train. Even dished on his skin care routine and his wife’s oddball pranks during an interview with Rachael Ray to promote the health care law. But not a Sunday news show fixture.

    Do something: Leading Obama’s review of federal job-training programs. Point man on gun control, which failed. Lots with foreign policy. Leading administration’s efforts to engage more with Latin America. Called on to lobby former Senate colleagues on Syria, Iran. Visiting ports across the U.S. to promote infrastructure and exports. Point man on Violence Against Women Act. Credited with pushing Obama to embrace gay marriage. Called upon by the administration to be a go-between with the Senate. Negotiated fiscal cliff deal.

    Take a stand: Guns. Violence against women. Gay rights. Veterans. He’s touched on everything as senator and vice president.

    Baggage: Age, flubs, fibs. Biden would be 74 by Inauguration Day 2017. Saddled by Obama’s low approval ratings.

    Deflection: Unfailing enthusiasm and a busy schedule. Habit of ad-libbing and wandering off reservation is a turnoff to some, endearing to others. Biden’s response: “I am who I am.” A tendency to embellish a good story dates to first run for president, when he appropriated material from the life story of a British politician, sometimes without attribution. Pew Research polling found public perceives him as not so bright, clownish. Those who like him in polling say he’s honest and good.

    Shadow campaign: Tapped longtime adviser and former lobbyist Steve Ricchetti to be his new chief of staff starting in December 2013. Maintains close contact with his political advisers past and present. Creating a shadow campaign would be difficult too soon in Obama’s second term as the public perception could hasten Obama’s lame-duck status.

    Social media: His office actively promotes his public appearances on Twitter, including more humanizing moments like a shared train ride with Whoopi Goldberg and, on his 71st birthday, a photo of him as a young boy. Not active on Facebook, occasionally contributes to his office’s Twitter account. Narrates “Being Biden” photo series showing him behind the scenes.

    -Josh Lederman


    GOV. MARTIN O’MALLEY, D-MD.
    Gov. Martin O'Malley, D-Md., speaks at a news conference after a Democratic Whip meeting in the Capitol Visitor Center on the need to reach an agreement on debt reduction. Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call

    Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md., speaks at a news conference after a Democratic Whip meeting in the Capitol Visitor Center on the need to reach an agreement on debt reduction. Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call

    Nondenial denial: “No one ever goes down this road, I would hope, without giving it a lot of consideration and a lot of preparation and a lot of thought work, and so that’s what I’m doing.” — February. Spoke earlier of building “a body of work that lays the framework of the candidacy for 2016,” in an acknowledgment of presidential ambition that is rare in the field.

    Book: No. “I’m not sure where I’d find the time for that.” It’s probably only a matter of time before he suddenly finds the time.

    Iowa: Yes, in fall 2012 headlined U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry, a must-stop for many Democrats seeking to compete in the leadoff caucuses. In Maryland, attended fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, who is running for the Senate in Iowa.

    New Hampshire: Yes, last November, spoke at Democratic Party dinner, where he criticized a political climate with “a lot more excuses and ideology than cooperation or action” and promoted himself as Baltimore’s former mayor and a governor who can get things done. Also spoke at a 2012 convention of New Hampshire Democrats. Appeared at fundraiser in Washington area last year for U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

    South Carolina: Yes, 2013 speech to Democratic activists.

    Foreign travel: Yes, considerable. Israel last year for a second time. Also Denmark, Ireland, France, Brazil and El Salvador in 2013. Asia in 2011, Iraq in 2010.

    Meet the money: Has many bases covered as one of the party’s top fundraisers. Raised more than $1 million for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and in December ended his year as finance chairman for the Democratic Governors Association.

    Networking: Yes. Busy spring, with speeches to California Democratic state convention in March, Wisconsin Democrats in April and Massachusetts Democrats in May. Was Democratic governors’ chairman for two years until December 2012. Campaigned in October 2013 for Democratic candidates in Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and elsewhere.

    Hog the TV: He’s getting back in the swing. January 2014 Sunday news show appearance on CNN was first in months, followed by CBS in February. In September 2013, sparred with Texas Gov. Rick Perry over job creation and health care on CNN.

    Do something: Has posted some victories as governor that appeal to liberals: toughened gun laws, repealed the death penalty, saw voters approve gay marriage after he got behind legislation to approve it, set up a framework to develop offshore wind power. In April, won legislative approval of minimum wage increase, a 2014 priority.

    Take a stand: Liberal checklist: increased spending on education, infrastructure, transportation; supports same-sex marriage, immigration overhaul, repealing death penalty, pushes environmental protections.

    Baggage: State-run health insurance exchange website was an expensive bust, prompting officials to make an embarrassing switch in April to one based on Connecticut’s. Deflection: Says Maryland still exceeded first enrollment goal of 260,000, largely due to much greater Medicaid enrollments than projected. Contraband- and drug-smuggling scheme at state-run Baltimore City Detention Center that resulted in 44 people being indicted prompted O’Malley to take immediate actions and make a variety of budget and policy proposals to increase security at the detention center and prisons.

    The governor has a record of raising taxes that could be challenged by less liberal Democrats, never mind Republicans. Higher taxes on sales, corporate income, gasoline, people making more than $100,000 and sewer bills.

    Shot across the bow from the head of Maryland’s Republican Party, Diana Waterman: “Outrageously high taxes, a hostile regulatory environment, and thousands of people who are closing shop or leaving the state for greener pastures. This ‘progress’ he likes to boast about will be a tough sell to voters in Iowa and tax-wary New Hampshire.” O’Malley’s deflection: A vigorous defense of his record and state’s business climate, praise from U.S. Chamber of Commerce for state’s entrepreneurship and innovation.

    Shadow campaign: Set up political action committee called O’Say Can You See and hired two people for fundraising and communications.

    Social media: On Twitter, standard governor’s fare but promotes rare appearances by his Celtic rock band, O’Malley’s March, for which he sings and plays guitar, banjo and tin whistle. On Facebook, his PAC-generated page is more active than official governor’s account.

    -Brian White

    The post Here’s your guide to every major 2016 presidential contender appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo via Not a Bug Splat

    Photo via Not a Bug Splat


    An oversized poster of a child covers a field in Pakistan’s Kyhber Pukhtoonkhwa province — a frequent target of U.S. drone strikes.

    The art is the first piece in a collective project from artists from the United States, Pakistan and France entitled “Not a Bug Splat,” which aims to challenge military references to their drone attack targets as such. The collective hopes the poster, meant to be visible from a drone’s targeting cameras and intended to put a human face on drone strikes, “will create empathy and introspection amongst drone operators, and will create dialogue amongst policy makers, eventually leading to decisions that will save innocent lives.”

    The post Giant art installation in Pakistan recasts drone attack targets as more than ‘bug splats’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Video by YouTube user mozpiano2

    Forty years ago Monday, members of the Swedish pop group ABBA stepped on stage during the Eurovision Song Contest to take a risk that eventually led to their international superstardom.

    Donning silver platforms and bellbottom flares, ABBA performed their breakthrough hit “Waterloo” in 1974, in an attempt to gain exposure beyond Scandinavia. But even though “Waterloo” topped the charts following the group’s appearance on Eurovision, the group struggled to become anything other than a one-hit wonder.

    “The problem, I think, is that the Eurovision Song Contest has always been very ridiculed as a media event, which is regarded as quite cheesy and ridiculous,” Swedish musicologist Alfred Bjornberg explained to NPR.

    Despite the perceived handicap because of their connection to the cheesy event, ABBA was able to score another hit, more than a year later, with “SOS.”

    Since then, ABBA — which is an acronym of the first letters of the band members’ first names, Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid — has had several worldwide hits to their name, a “Mamma Mia” musical that adapts some of those hits, and a dedicated museum in Stockholm.

    The post 40 years ago, people took a chance on ABBA appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A job seeker reviews listings in the Job Finder at the Rigzone Oil & Gas Career Fair in San Antonio, Texas. The U.S. Senate is set to pass jobless-benefits legislation for the long-term unemployed that expired last year. Photo by Eddie Seal/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    A job seeker reviews listings in the Job Finder at the Rigzone Oil & Gas Career Fair in San Antonio, Texas. The U.S. Senate is set to pass jobless-benefits legislation for the long-term unemployed that expired last year. Photo by Eddie Seal/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Updated | 6:21 p.m. EDT: WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, the Senate voted, 59-38, to extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed that expired late last year.

    Capping a three-month struggle, the approval sends the legislation to a hostile reception in the House, where majority Republicans generally oppose it.

    The bill was the first major piece of legislation that Democrats sent to the floor of the Senate when Congress convened early in the year, the linchpin of a broader campaign-season agenda meant to showcase concern for men and women who are doing poorly in an era of economic disparity between rich and poor.

    In the months since, the Democrats have alternately pummeled Republicans for holding up passage and made concessions in an effort to gain support from enough GOP lawmakers to overcome a filibuster. Chief among those concessions was an agreement to pay the $9.6 billion cost of the five-month bill by making offsetting spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.

    The measure would retroactively restore benefits that were cut off in late December, and maintain them through the end of May. Officials say as many as 2.7 million jobless workers have been denied assistance since the law expired late last year. If renewed, the aid would total about $256 weekly, and in most cases go to men and women who have been off the job for longer than six months.

    Even before the Senate vote, Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., the bill’s leading supporters, said they were willing to consider changes in hopes of securing passage in a highly reluctant House.

    Heller also said he was seeking a meeting with Republican House Speaker John Boehner to discuss the measure.

    Some Democrats assailed Boehner rather than seek to meet with him. Said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.: “The House needs to extend unemployment benefits to millions of Americans right now, without attaching extraneous issues that are merely an attempt to score political points.”

    Boehner has said repeatedly a condition for any vote to renew the benefits is inclusion of job-creating provisions in the same legislation.

    “The Senate is sitting on dozens of bills that we’ve sent over there,” he said at a recent news conference. “So I think it’s time for the Senate to work with the House to help get the economy moving again. That’s the real issue.”

    Whatever the bill’s fate in the House, Senate Democrats have taken steps to follow their action with a test vote on a bill to strengthen “equal pay for equal work” laws. That measure includes a provision giving women the right to seek punitive damages in lawsuits in which they allege pay discrimination, a change that Republicans call a gift to trial lawyers who contribute extensively to Democratic campaigns.

    Next up in the Democratic attempt to gain ground during the election year will be a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. It is currently $7.25 an hour.

    Underscoring the political backdrop, a little-noticed provision in the jobless-benefits legislation is specifically designed to benefit the long-term unemployed in North Carolina, where Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan faces a stiff challenge for a new term. It would make residents eligible for long-term benefits if the state negotiates an agreement with the Department of Labor. North Carolina residents are currently ineligible because state benefits were reduced below a federal standard.

    In an additional indication of the challenge confronting the broader legislation, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies sent a letter to lawmakers citing “significant concerns about the implementation of the legislation” after a Senate compromise emerged last month. The organization represents state agencies that would be responsible for administering the law.

    Citing the letter, Boehner pronounced the Senate bill “unworkable,” and a blog posting by his aides quoted the Ohio Republican as saying there was “no evidence that the bill being rammed through the Senate by (Majority) Leader (Harry) Reid” would help create more private sector jobs.

    The drive to renew the lapsed program comes as joblessness nationally is slowly receding, yet long-term unemployment is at or above pre-recession levels in much of the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it accounts for an estimated one-third or more of all jobless individuals.

    In a study last summer, the Urban Institute reported that “relative to currently employed workers, the long-term unemployed tend to be less educated and are more likely to be nonwhite, unmarried, disabled, impoverished and to have worked previously in the construction industry and construction occupations.”

    The post Senate votes to extend jobless benefits for long-term unemployed appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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     Rwandans hold a candle light vigil at Amahoro Stadium during the 20th anniversary commemoration of the 1994 genocide April 7, 2014 in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    Rwandans hold a candle light vigil at Amahoro Stadium during the 20th anniversary commemoration of the 1994 genocide April 7, 2014 in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


    Thousands of Rwandans filled the Amahoro Stadium in the capital city of Kigali Monday for a memorial service to mark the 20th anniversary of the genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed nearly a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days.

    On April 6, 1994, Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down over Kigali, unleashing an intense killing campaign orchestrated by the Hutu extremist government. The violence persisted, despite the presence of United Nations peacekeepers, until the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a Tutsi-led rebel group commanded by current President Paul Kagame, took over Kigali in July of that year.

    After laying a wreath at the Kigali Genocide Memorial with Kagame Monday, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressed the crowd at the stadium, where UN troops had protected some Rwandans during the slaughter. The secretary general admitted that UN troops didn’t do enough to stop the killing. “We should have done much more,” he said. “In Rwanda, troops were withdrawn when they were most needed,” he added.

    The stadium ceremony occurs each year to open Rwanda’s 100-day national remembrance period, but this year, as The New York Times reports, a last-minute diplomatic rupture with France underscored lingering tensions between the two nations. Sunday evening, the French Justice Minister declined to attend the memorial after Kagame reportedly told a French-language magazine that France held some of the blame for the planning and execution of the genocide. France had supported former president Habyarimana and the extremist Hutu regime before the genocide. AFP reports that France’s ambassador to Rwandan was then disinvited from the ceremonies.

    Video by AFP

    After honoring the victims and praising Rwanda’s strength, Kagame made a couched pass at France, saying his government will continue to search for “concrete explanations” for the genocide. “People cannot be bribed or forced into changing their history and no country is powerful enough — even when they think they are — to change the facts,” Kagame added.

    Kagame, a darling of Western donors in the years since the genocide, has been credited with engineering Rwanda’s economic recovery, and criticized for his authoritarian governance – both at home in Rwanda, where mention of ethnic division is forbade, and internationally, for supporting Tusti-backed incursions into the Democratic Republic of Congo. A 2013 UN report implicating Rwanda in the M23 militia’s attacks in Congo led the United States and European states to suspend military aid to Kagame last summer.

    The post Rwanda marks 20th anniversary of genocide appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The numbers reveal the horror of the Great War: Sixty-five million soldiers fought. Nine million killed in combat. Nearly 20 million wounded. 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the conflict that reshaped Europe, redefined international power structures, introduced the U.S. as a global superpower and fundamentally changed the role government played in people’s everyday lives.

    Photographer Peter Macdiarmid collected modern photos from around Europe and overlaid World War I-era images, giving a sense of how much–and how little–has changed since the War to end all Wars.

    The town hall and belfry of Arras, France is seen from the main square in this archive photo of destruction wrought during WWI. The date of the photo is unknown, but the belfry was destroyed on October 21, 1914. Medieval tunnels under the city, which were expanded during the war, were pivotal in helping British forces to hold the city. 2014 photo by Macdiarmid/Getty Images. Archive photo by Roger Viollet/Getty Images

    The town hall and belfry of Arras, France is seen from the main square in this archive photo of destruction wrought during WWI. The date of the photo is unknown, but the belfry was destroyed on October 21, 1914. Medieval tunnels under the city, which were expanded during the war, were pivotal in helping British forces to hold the city. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images. Archive photo by Roger Viollet/Getty Images

    Basilica of Notre-Dame de Brebieres in Albert, France stands at the center of this 1915 photo. The statue of the Virgin Mary on the belfry was damaged by a shell in 1915. 1915 photo by Apic/Getty images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    Basilica of Notre-Dame de Brebieres in Albert, France stands at the center of this 1915 photo. The statue of the Virgin Mary on the belfry was damaged by a shell in 1915. 1915 photo by Apic/Getty images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    German airplanes at Place de la Concorde in Paris were wrecked by celebrating crowds on the day of the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine. November 18, 1918. 1918 photo by Maurice-Louis Branger/Roger Viollet/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    German airplanes at Place de la Concorde in Paris were wrecked by celebrating crowds on the day of the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine. November 18, 1918. 1918 photo by Maurice-Louis Branger/Roger Viollet/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    Members of a Royal Garrison Artillery of the British Army carry duck-boards across the frozen Somme canal at Frise, March 1917. 1917 photo by Lt. J W Brooke/IWM/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    Members of a Royal Garrison Artillery of the British Army carry duck-boards across the frozen Somme canal at Frise, March 1917. 1917 photo by Lt. J W Brooke/IWM/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    A large crowd of men respond to a call by the War Office for married men aged between 36 and 40 to become munition workers. They gathered outside the Inquiry Office at Scotland Yard in London, England during World War 1. Undated archive photo by Paul Thompson/FPG/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    A large crowd of men respond to a call by the War Office for married men aged between 36 and 40 to become munition workers. They gathered outside the Inquiry Office at Scotland Yard in London, England during World War 1. Undated archive photo by Paul Thompson/FPG/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    In 1914, German troops sit on the steps of the Vareddes Town Hall, France, during the First Battle of the Marne. 1914 photo by Print Collector/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    In 1914, German troops sit on the steps of the Vareddes Town Hall, France, during the First Battle of the Marne. 1914 photo by Print Collector/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    In Trafalgar Square, London, street urchins dressed as soldiers with paper hats and canes as guns stand to attention watched by a small crowd in November, 1914. Behind them is a notice declaring 'The Need for Fighting Men is Urgent.’ 1914 photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    In Trafalgar Square, London, street urchins dressed as soldiers with paper hats and canes as guns stand to attention watched by a small crowd in November, 1914. Behind them is a notice declaring ‘The Need for Fighting Men is Urgent.’ 1914 photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    Rheims Cathedral in Rheims, France is swallowed by a cloud of smoke during a bombardment in 1917. 1917 photo by Photo12/UIG/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    Rheims Cathedral in Rheims, France is swallowed by a cloud of smoke during a bombardment in 1917. 1917 photo by Photo12/UIG/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    Soldiers stand outside the ruins of the railway station at Roye, Somme, France, in 1917. 1917 photo by Culture Club/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    Soldiers stand outside the ruins of the railway station at Roye, Somme, France, in 1917. 1917 photo by Culture Club/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    Les Halles in the Belgium town of Ypres was the site of three major battles during World War I, and was almost completely devastated by bombing in 1915. 1915 photo by Hulton ARCHIVE/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    Les Halles in the Belgium town of Ypres was the site of three major battles during World War I, and was almost completely devastated by bombing in 1915. 1915 photo by Hulton ARCHIVE/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    A French soldier walks through the ruins of Verdun, France after a German bombing In 1916. Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    A French soldier walks through the ruins of Verdun, France after a German bombing In 1916. Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    A vintage postcard shows the 4th King's Own Royal Lancers Regiment marching into Tonbridge, England during World War One, circa March 1915. Postcard image by Popperfoto/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    A vintage postcard shows the 4th King’s Own Royal Lancers Regiment marching into Tonbridge, England during World War One, circa March 1915. Postcard image by Popperfoto/Getty Images. 2014 photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

    The post Haunting photos of World War I reveal how little Europe has changed in 100 years appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Under proposed FDA guidelines, food companies would no longer be allowed to add sugar or other sweeteners to pure honey and still call it "honey". Photo by Flickr user Beeyond the Hive

    Under proposed FDA guidelines, food companies would no longer be allowed to add sugar or other sweeteners to pure honey and still call it “honey”. Photo by Flickr user Beeyond the Hive

    Honey sitting on American supermarket shelves might not be the real thing. On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration took steps to ensure that if it’s labeled “honey,” it actually is.

    Under drafted guidelines, food companies would not be allowed to add sugar or other sweeteners to pure honey and still call it “honey.” If a company does, it would have to call it a “blend of sugar and honey” or a “blend of honey and corn syrup.” The FDA warned enforcement of the policy is possible against both American businesses and importers. Honey imports are frequently tested for drug residue and unlabeled added sweeteners.

    A honey bee pollinates an apricot tree. Photo by Flickr user turnbud

    A honey bee pollinates an apricot tree. Photo by Flickr user turnbud

    Meanwhile, a study by the European Union found honey bee death rates across Europe are lower than previously feared. The E.U. surveyed 32,000 bee colonies across 17 member countries from late 2012 until summer of 2013 and found winter mortality rates ranged anywhere from 3.5 percent to 33.6 percent. The highest rates were in northern Europe, where the 2012-2013 winter was particularly harsh.

    The post How sweet it is: Honey guidelines and the future of bees appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    In this handout photo from the United Nation Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, Yarmouk refugees in Syria gathered to wait for food aid in January 2014. Photo by UNRWA

    In this handout photo from the United Nation Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, Yarmouk refugees in Syria gathered to wait for food aid in January 2014. Photo by UNRWA

    WASHINGTON — A threatened, but averted, American missile strike to punish Syria’s government for a chemical weapons attack last summer would not have been powerful enough to change the course in the Syrian civil war, Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday, in an attempt to deflect criticism that the U.S. hasn’t done enough to stem the violence there.

    Under pointed questioning by a Senate panel he used to chair, Kerry said the scrubbed strike would have been limited, and would have been aimed only at preventing Syrian President Bashar Assad from delivering more chemical weapons to his forces.

    “It would not have had a devastating impact by which he had to recalculate, because it wasn’t going to last that long,” Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Here we were going to have one or two days to degrade and send a message. … We came up with a better solution.”

    That solution, Kerry said, was to negotiate an agreement with Russia to lean on Assad to ship out and destroy his government’s chemical weapons stockpiles, considered to be one of the largest in the world. That agreement came after a frantic few days after President Barack Obama initially threatened to launch a missile strike in response to the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack. Obama pulled back because he decided congressional approval was necessary first.

    Obama had earlier threatened that Assad would face consequences if he crossed a “red line” by launching deadly chemical weapons against his own people. The U.S. says more than 1,400 Syrians were killed in the Aug. 21 attack, although human rights groups have reported a lower death toll of below 1,000.

    An estimated 140,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war that is now in its fourth year – including 60,000 since last August, said Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the panel’s top Republican.

    “We didn’t take actions at a time when we could have made a difference; so many on this committee wanted us to do that,” Corker said.

    Kerry said more than half of Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile – 54 percent – has so far been shipped out of Syria. He also said the U.S. is sending increased assistance to moderate Syria opposition forces – something they have long pleaded for – but refused to offer any details about what the aid would consist of or where it would go. The U.S. has resisted sending heavy weapons and massive lethal aid to Syrian rebels for fear it would fall into the hands of al-Qaida and other extremist groups who are also fighting Assad in pockets across the country.

    Kerry predicted that the war will end only through a negotiated political agreement – not a military strike by outside forces.

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has long pushed for more lethal aid for Syrian rebels, scoffed.

    “Any objective observer will tell you that Bashar Assad is winning on the battlefield,” McCain said.

    The post U.S. missile strike wouldn’t have altered course of Syrian civil war, Kerry says appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    When educators, parents and other community members joined in St. Louis’s Nine Network of Public Media town hall on improving the city’s schools, they talked about how to help more students graduate from high school with the skills they’ll need for college and the workplace.

    One question they tackled was whether corporations are doing enough to partner with local schools by providing the resources and adult mentors that can improve student success.

    Nine Network examined one long-time apprenticeship program at Purina, which has adjusted to meet the needs of today’s high school students.

    During the town hall discussion, Mike Jones from the Family and Workforce Centers of America questioned whether corporate donors are willing to reach out to the schools that present the biggest challenges and are most in need of their help. Desiree Coleman, civic relations manager with Wells Fargo in St. Louis, said employees from her company who have worked with the city’s high school students have seen the powerful influence the presence of a caring adult can have on student achievement.

    Be sure to follow the American Graduate reporting team on Twitter @NewsHourAmGrad and Facebook.

    This story and PBS NewsHour’s education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    The post American Graduate lesson from St. Louis: the power of public-private partnerships appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Science Nation explores how bioengineering is helping Parkinson’s patients and uncovering the secrets of brain plasticity. Video courtesy Science Nation.

    For Parkinson’s sufferers, the connection between the brain and the body breaks down. The disease causes nerve cells to die, which leads to rigid movement and tremors.

    With the help of computer technology and the brain’s ability to rewire itself, Parkinson’s patients may regain some of the control they have lost. Using a cap fitted with electrodes, Gert Cauwenberghs, a bioengineer of the Jacobs School of Engineering and the Institute for Neural Computation at the University of California San Diego, and his colleagues study neurons in Parkinson’s patients as they move through a series of computer tests.

    Their goal is to develop new technologies to help patients with Parkinson’s disease better navigate the world, but these studies also teach scientists how our brain controls our movements. They want to know how nerve cells can create new connections and regain function.

    “Parkinson’s disease is not just about one location in the brain that’s impaired. It’s the whole body … We’re using advanced technology, but in a means that is more proactive in helping the brain to get around some of its problems — in this case, Parkinson’s disease — by working with the brain’s natural plasticity, in wiring connections between neurons in different ways,” Cauwenberghs said.

    In the video above, Miles O’Brien has more on this story for the National Science Foundation series Science Nation.*

    *For the record, the National Science Foundation is an underwriter of the NewsHour.

    The post Using ‘gooey’ caps and Bluetooth to keep Parkinson’s patients moving appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Procrastination is more than just laziness. It's a serious problem that affects our health, our relationships and our work. But what controls our willpower? Photo by Robert Daly/Getty Images

    Procrastination is more than just laziness. It’s a serious problem that affects our health, our relationships and our work. But what controls our willpower? Photo by Robert Daly/Getty Images

    Procrastination is in your genes, according to a study from researchers at the University of Colorado at Bolder.

    “Everyone procrastinates at least sometimes,” explains psychological scientist and study author Daniel Gustavson in the journal Psychological Science. “We wanted to explore why some people procrastinate more than others and why procrastinators seem more likely to make rash actions and act without thinking.”

    The study found that procrastination and a propensity for impulsivity share considerable genetic similarity.

    Scientists surveyed 181 identical-twin pairs and 166 fraternal-twin pairs to understand the relative importance of genetic and environmental influences on particular behaviors, including the ability to set and maintain goals.

    Want to know more about procrastination? In February, reporter Rebecca Jacobson explored the science behind the behavior.

    The post Procrastinators, you can blame it on genetics…tomorrow appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    The Philippine Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a law providing free family planning services to the nation’s poor is constitutional, sparking outcry among some Catholic leaders. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    In a landmark decision Tuesday, the Philippine Supreme Court ended a months-long legal battle with Catholic leaders when it upheld a bill that provided free contraception and sexual education to its nation’s poorest citizens.

    The so-called Reproductive Health Law directs government health centers to provide free access to family planning services including contraception, sexual education and care for complications from illegal abortions.

    Although contraception is widely available in the Philippines, it is often prohibitively expensive in a country where one-third of residents live in poverty. The law, which President Benigno Aquino III signed in 2012, was aimed at curbing that population’s high rates of teen pregnancy, maternal mortality and new cases of HIV and AIDS.

    But Catholic leaders and church groups mounted an immediate legal challenge, arguing that such legislation would pave the way for legal abortion.

    “Preventing fertilization is not a surgical, but a chemical or medical abortion,” said Father Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life.

    “It will destroy the trend of marriage in our country. And slowly when you bring down the bar of morality, everything follows.”

    The Supreme Court’s decision struck down their petitions by maintaining the law’s constitutionality as a matter of separation of church and state in a country that is heavily Catholic.

    “This monumental decision … affirms the supremacy of government in secular concerns like health and socio-economic development,” said the law’s principal author Edcel Lagman.

    Supporters lauded the ruling as a victory for the nation’s poor.

    “Millions of Filipino women will finally be able to regain control of their fertility, health and lives,” said Nancy Northrup of the Center for Reproductive Rights, “empowering them to make their own decisions about their health and families and participate more fully and equally in their society.”

    According to Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te, opponents will have 15 days to appeal, and continued criticism seems likely.

    The post Philippine top court says reproductive health law constitutional appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Is the A-10 Warthog a Cold War relic, or a battlefield workhorse? U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Greg L. Davis

    Is the A-10 Thunderbolt a Cold War relic, or a battlefield workhorse? U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Greg L. Davis

    The Defense Department decision to retire an Air Force plane built specifically to support ground forces has ignited a firestorm of criticism from the airmen whose job is to embed with Army ground forces and spot enemy targets. Meanwhile, one top Air Force commander is defending his service’s decision to eliminate the A-10 Warthog, despite acknowledging the aircraft’s value.

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in February announced his intention to retire 343 Warthogs, saying the aircraft “is a 40-year-old single-purpose airplane originally designed to kill enemy tanks on a Cold War battlefield. It cannot survive or operate effectively where there are more advanced aircraft or air defenses.”

    Lt. Gen. Mike Hostage, U.S. Air Forces Central Command commander, stands in front of a B-2 Stealth Bomber at Whiteman Air Force Base in Mo U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Carlin Leslie

    Lt. Gen. Mike Hostage, U.S. Air Forces Central Command commander, stands in front of a B-2 Stealth Bomber at Whiteman Air Force Base in Mo. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Carlin Leslie

    The military commander responsible for ensuring that the Air Force is prepared and capable of winning future wars said the move was unfortunate, but unavoidable in a tightening fiscal environment.

    “I absolutely would like to have a fleet of A-10s, no questions asked,” Air Force Gen. Michael Hostage told the PBS NewsHour in a March telephone interview. “I just flat can’t afford it.”

    Hostage, a veteran fighter pilot, who has flown F-15s, F-16 and F-22 fighter jets during his 36 year Air Force career, said he could “sympathize with the folks that are upset” with the decision.

    “We are not coming at this because I don’t like the A-10, [or] I don’t want the A-10. I don’t think it’s useful… This is not about what I want to do. This is about what I have to do.”

    The Air Force says it can save $3.7 billion over five years if it retires the entire fleet of A-10s. That money is to be spent on higher priority weapons, including the long-delayed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

    “I absolutely would like to have a fleet of A-10s, no questions asked,” Air Force Gen. Michael Hostage told the PBS NewsHour. “I just flat can’t afford it.”The leader of Air Combat Command told the NewsHour that the Air Force had to rebalance its capabilities and better prepare to fight wars against “near-peer competitors,” meaning adversaries that have military capabilities almost as good as the United States.

    “We are going to have to shrink” the portion of the Air Force dedicated to counterinsurgency operations – like those in Iraq and Afghanistan – and build up the service’s capability to fight in the “high-end, near-competitor realm,” said Hostage, apparently referring to potential future adversaries like Russia or China. “And that’s the strategy, that’s the world that we’ve been told to focus on and be ready for.”

    The four-star general said the “A-10 would have no place in that fight” because “it doesn’t have the range” and “because it doesn’t have the weapons to be able to deal with a near-peer competitor environment.”

    But a number of highly trained airmen called “JTACs” — who embed with ground forces and call in air strikes against enemy forces in close proximity — told the NewsHour the A-10 would perform well against a near-peer competitor of the future. JTACS — pronounced “jay-tacks” — is short for “joint terminal attack controllers.”

    “The A-10 was designed in a period of time that anticipated robust integrated air defense systems against the Soviet Union,” says retired Chief Master Sergeant Russell Carpenter, a 30-year veteran and specialist in leading JTACs. “It was developed with the intent to operate in an environment where the enemy contested the airspace. It was designed to operate in support of ground forces and built to take punishment from surface-to-air fires. Bottom line was it was developed during an era that anticipated both Secretary Hagel’s primary limiting factors [such as] air defense and advanced aircraft.”

    For more on the features built into the A-10, watch an interview with one of the plane’s chief designers:

    Other JTACs similarly stressed that the A-10 is still needed today.

    “Everybody is absolutely opposed to this. Absolutely opposed,” said one former JTAC who deployed to Afghanistan in 2003 and also worked with Special Operations Forces, Army Rangers, as well as conventional Army forces. “The decision to get rid of that asset while we still have folks down range [in combat] is crazy, it’s borderline irresponsible.”

    This one-time JTAC, who is in contact with many current and former JTACs, asked in a phone interview not to be named in this article because he works for a company with Defense Department contracts.

    “It just seems to me and everyone in the community that there are other options to get rid of,” the former JTAC said. “If you want to cut the budget, look at the B-1.”

    The B-1 bomber was designed to fly from the United States to the Soviet Union and drop nuclear weapons. It has been reconfigured to carry only conventional munitions.

    Both the B-1 and A-10 were produced in the early 1970s through the 1980s.

    Russell, the retired Chief Master Sergeant, echoed the sentiment that a vast number of JTACs resent the decision made by the leaders of their service to retire the A-10.

    “I can tell you what the JTACs are telling me, and that is the idea of retiring the A-10 is ‘F—ed up,’” Carpenter said in an e-mail exchange. “I have had dozens of them tell me … that retiring the A-10 is going to cost lives of our Army brothers and sisters.”

    Air Force brass say they want to retire the A-10 because it would be more cost-effective to field aircraft that perform multiple missions, in contrast to the Warthog’s specialty in just a single mission, called “close air support.”

    Watch our full report on the budget cuts that could lead to the retirement of the A-10:

    Hostage said the flight characteristics that make the A-10 good at close air support limit that aircraft’s ability to perform other missions. The aircraft flies low and slow – an asset for targeting enemy ground troops. And its cockpit is heavily armored, which protects its pilot from ground fire.

    Its low and slow characteristics, and its limited range, “basically rule it out for anything other than close air support,” the Air Combat Command chief said. “I can’t use it for interdiction. I can’t use it for air superiority. I can’t use it as a multi-role platform. It is good for one thing and one thing only. And it’s really good at that. And that is close air support.”

    However, another former JTAC told the NewsHour the Air Force continues to field many other types of weapons that are capable of solely one mission.

    “Air Force leadership is quick to point out that the A-10 is a ‘one-trick pony’, but then again so is the F-22, B-1, B-52, C-17, [and] ICBM [Intercontinental Ballistic Missile],” said one retired senior master sergeant who has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan eight times in support of special operations units. This former JTAC also requested anonymity in this article because he works for a company with Defense Department contracts.

    “When was the last time we had an air-to-air engagement that would justify having F-15Cs, F-16s, F-35s, and F-22s? Desert Storm? Kosovo? Early days of OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom]?” the former sergeant said in an email. “A-10s justify their existence every day on the battlefield.”

    This joint terminal attack controller spent hundreds of hours controlling A-10s and received two Bronze Stars with Valor and a Purple Heart medal.

    “Don’t let the Air Force hierarchy state that the A-10 is antiquated, old, and not as capable as other aircraft,” he added. The latest version of the A-10 “with its new avionics and targeting suite, is more capable than any F-16 in the current inventory when it comes to CAS [close air support],” the source said.

    An A-10A Thunderbolt II aircraft flies over a target area during Operation Desert Storm. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Fernando Serna

    An A-10A Thunderbolt II aircraft flies over a target area during Operation Desert Storm. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Fernando Serna

    “I love when leadership says the A-10 is out of date, yet we continue to hold on to B-52s, which are as antiquated as rotary-dial phones,” the one-time JTAC claimed. “If you want to dump an out-of-date and technologically inept aircraft, then look at the B-52.”

    Hostage acknowledges the A-10 is the best aircraft for performing the close air support mission.

    “I don’t disagree that there are certain things the A-10 can do that others can’t do, it flies slow, it flies lower over the battlefield than the other fighters do,” he said in the recent interview. “And the combination of low and slow gives it an advantage in spotting targets.”

    However, the general said the Air Force would still be able to conduct close air support missions using other aircraft. Hostage said he pledged to the Army that the Air Force would build on what it has learned during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The Air Force would continue to develop the “exquisite ability to support the Army with a range of capabilities” including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems the air service typically operates during conflict. “And then our ability to pull wounded soldiers off the battlefield under hostile conditions with our CSAR [combat search and rescue] forces. We are not going to give up any of the elegance of what we developed.”

    But from the perspective of some joint terminal attack controllers, no substitute for an A-10 has ever performed as well as the Warthog.

    “My team has made decisions not to conduct a mission based off of the fact that we could not get A-10s to support us, even when other aircraft were offered up. This was because we knew we would make contact [with the enemy] and we wanted the best aircraft and pilots to support us,” the retired senior master sergeant told the PBS NewsHour.

    “Me and my team would roll out on foot patrols with four U.S. personnel and a few Afghans to conduct raids and identify future targets for action,” he said. “We went out in [minimal] force and were confident, only because we knew we had A-10 support a radio call away.”

    This former JTAC called A-10s “a force multiplier” that “gave us the confidence to take risks we would not have taken with other aircraft.”

    Armed with that “flexibility,” the JTAC and his team could “conduct a number of successful missions and when things got ‘hairy,’ the A-10s were there to get us out of bad situations,” this source said. “Ask any soldier, marine, etc., what aircraft they want when things go bad? You may get some AC-130 [ground-attack gunship], but I guarantee the overwhelming response will be the A-10.”

    A number of JTACs told the NewsHour they prefer to use the A-10 when striking targets that are called “danger close,” meaning that friendly forces are so nearby enemy forces that the friendlies could be hit by the bomb fragments dropped from the aircraft, or fired from other weapons.

    “I generally will not employ the other types of aircraft” – like B-1s, F-15s or F-16s – “danger close, regardless of munitions, if I have other alternatives,” including the A-10 or less-commonly used Army Apache helicopters, Carpenter said. “What I need is the tank-killing gun that can engage large formations of enemy armor, vehicles or even infantry at close range.”

    Carpenter, who achieved the highest enlisted rank in the Air Force, said during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, he even turned away aircraft that were on station overhead because he preferred to use an A-10 to attack a group of Russian-made vehicles, known by the acronym “BRDM.”

    “I have personally sent F-16s back to a CAS [close air support] stack and pulled A-10s out because, during the Battle of the Escarpment in Operation Iraqi Freedom 1, I had no luck with F-16s that could not identify my friendly armored vehicles closing on enemy positions,” he said. “The resultant delay enabled the enemy to adjust fire on top of our armored column that was breaching the escarpment. The A-10s checked in and, in rapid succession, destroyed three of the four BRDM reconnaissance vehicles that were calling in fires on top of our column. The F-16s simply could not ‘see’ the enemy vehicles.”

    Carpenter controlled 67 combat air strikes during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He was recognized with the Bronze Star with Valor, the military’s fourth-highest individual military award, for his actions in the Battle of the Escarpment.

    Hostage said that under certain circumstances, he could understand why JTACS prefer the A-10.

    “If I had a danger close situation and I had a choice between an A-10 and an F-16, I would most certainly pick the A-10. That is an easy answer,” he told the NewsHour.

    But Hostage also said that if there were no A-10s available during a close-proximity fight, he was sure JTACs would accept whatever aircraft were available.

    “If I had no A-10s, and I have a danger close situation, and I’ve got an F-15 Strike Eagle, or an F-16 in the stack, I would be willing to bet you he’s going to call in danger close,” the general said. “It’s one thing to say you wouldn’t do it when you have the choice. It’s another thing to say you wouldn’t do it … despite the fact you have air support that is available; you’d let people die, because, gosh, it’s too close to friendlies.”

    “If you are going to die, you are going to roll them in,” said Hostage, referring to aircraft that would remain after the A-10 is retired. However, the general added, he was “not saying” that having an F-15 or F-16 available for close air support “is a better situation than having an A-10.”

    Hostage — whose overall responsibility is to ensure that the Air Force is organized, trained and equipped to provide combat-ready forces for rapid deployment underscored that he can’t have every combat aircraft he might want.

    “If I have to sacrifice something in order to be able to fight the range of military conflict,” Hostage said, “I’d rather have the F-35 and be able to fight the full range, than have an A-10 and be world class at close air support, and then lose completely in any kind of high-end fight.”

    The post Airmen at odds with Air Force brass over future of beloved A-10 plane appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    newswrap

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Search crews in the Indian Ocean failed today to pick up more underwater pings from a Malaysian jetliner, one month after it disappeared. Officials acknowledged time is short, since locator beacons on the two black box recorders were designed to transmit just a month before their batteries die.

    In Perth, Australia, Defense Minister David Johnston said it’s a Herculean task.

    DAVID JOHNSTON, Defense Minister, Australia: This is day 32. I want to confirm that we have at least several days of intense action ahead of us. The weather out there today is reasonable, and, so, you can be assured that we are throwing everything at this difficult, complex task in these — at least these next several days, whilst we believe the two pingers involved are still active.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: An Australian ship towing a U.S. Navy deep-water sound detector picked up pings on Saturday and Sunday. They were consistent with the sort the black boxes would emit.

    Crews digging through the mudslide in Washington State have found a 34th body. Officials also said about a dozen people are still listed as missing. And the White House announced that President Obama will visit the site on April 22, and meet with victims’ families, survivors and recovery workers.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel got an earful in China today over territorial disputes with Japan and the Philippines. The Chinese defense minister warned his government is ready to use force, if needed, to defend islands it claims. Hagel took part in an honor cordon with his Chinese counterpart and held a two-hour-long meeting.

    Afterward, he said the U.S. will protect its allies, and he warned against miscalculations.

    CHUCK HAGEL, Secretary of Defense: Every nation has a right to establish air defense zones, but not a right to do it unilaterally, with no collaboration, no consultation. That adds to tensions, misunderstandings, and could eventually add to and eventually get to dangerous conflict.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Hagel was in Japan earlier this week, where he reassured its leaders of ongoing U.S. support.

    In Vienna, talks on curbing Iran’s nuclear program resumed today, with the focus turning to concrete steps Iran would have to take. The U.S. and five other world powers are offering to remove economic sanctions if a long-term deal can be reached. July is the informal deadline for an agreement.

    On Wall Street, stocks broke a three-day losing streak. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 10 points to close at 16,256. The Nasdaq rose 33 points to close just shy of 4,113. And the S&P 500 added nearly seven and finished near 1,852.

    The post News Wrap: Hagel, Chinese defense minister discuss disputed islands appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Ukraine

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: There was more unrest in Ukraine today, as the government pushed back at pro-Russian supporters in the country’s east.

    But, as chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports, the demonstrators still hold control of government buildings in two key cities.

    MARGARET WARNER: Riot police surrounded the regional government headquarters in Kharkiv today after Ukrainian security forces late last night ousted scores of pro-Russian separatists.

    The protesters, who had declared that eastern region’s independence yesterday, were taken into custody.

    Ukraine’s interior minister was in charge.

    ARSEN AVAKOV, Interior Minister, Ukraine (through interpreter): Around 70 people were detained, weapons were taken, and fire was extinguished. Right now, the city administration building is under control.

    MARGARET WARNER: But armed separatists remain entrenched at the regional government building in Donetsk, also in the east, where the governor told us on our visit three weeks ago that he thought he had the situation in hand.

    SERGEI TARUTA, Governor, Donetsk Region (through interpreter): When I arrived, this building was blocked and the Russian flag was flying on the roof. Today, the situation is quite different.

    MARGARET WARNER: But, last weekend, pro-Russian protesters stormed the building, barricaded it with tires and barbed wire, and vowed to stay until a vote is held on separating from Ukraine to join Russia, just as Crimea did a month ago.

    ALEXEI, Protester (through interpreter): We are here for the sake of our families, for our salaries, for our health, for all those people who have already shed their blood. We will not leave this place until we will make the referendum happen.

    MARGARET WARNER: A similar weekend scene played out at the state security building in Luhansk. Authorities said protesters wired the building with explosives and are holding some 60 hostages, a claim the demonstrators denied.

    The unrest in the east also stoked tensions at Ukraine’s Parliament in Kiev. A fistfight broke out after the head of the Communist Party blamed Ukrainian nationalists for provoking Russia.

    At a Senate hearing in Washington today, Secretary of State John Kerry laid the blame for the unrest squarely on Moscow.

    JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: Russia’s clear and unmistakable involvement in destabilizing and engaging in separatist activities in the east of Ukraine is more than deeply disturbing. No one should be fooled — and believe me, no one is fooled — by what could potentially be a contrived pretext for military intervention, just as we saw in Crimea. It is clear that Russian special forces and agents have been the catalysts behind the chaos of the last 24 hours.

    MARGARET WARNER: In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov flatly rejected the allegation.

    SERGEI LAVROV, Foreign Minister, Russia (through interpreter): Our American partners are probably trying to analyze the situation, attaching their own habits to others. We are deeply convinced, and nobody has so far challenged this conviction, that the situation cannot be calmed down and changed into national dialogue, if the Ukrainian authorities go on ignoring the interests of the southeastern regions of the country.

    MARGARET WARNER: Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Russian troops remain massed just across Ukraine’s eastern border. That brought a new warning from NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen against further Russian incursion into Ukraine.

    ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, Secretary-General, NATO: It would be an historic mistake. It would have grave consequences for our relationship with Russia, and it would further isolate Russia internationally.

    MARGARET WARNER: There are plans under way for diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, the U.S., and the European Union to hold talks on the crisis, but no date has been set.

    The post Kerry criticizes Eastern Ukraine protests as ‘contrived pretext’ for Russian force appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    US-POLITICS-OBAMA

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama and congressional Democrats launched a coordinated effort today to draw attention to women’s wages.

    Republicans on Capitol Hill said the push had little to do with policy and everything to do with politics.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Thank you, everybody.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Women in the work force, and how much they earn, were the focus at the White House on this Equal Pay Day.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: And it’s nice to have a day.

    (LAUGHTER)

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: But it’s even better to have equal pay.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president was joined by advocates, including Lilly Ledbetter, famous for her lawsuit that led to pay equity legislation, the first bill Mr. Obama signed after taking office.

    Today, he took two executive actions aimed at federal contractors. One bars companies from retaliating against workers who discuss their pay with each other. The other requires compensation data broken down by race and gender. Census data shows women make 77 percent of what men make, and Equal Pay Day marks the date when the average woman’s earnings finally equal a man’s total earnings for the previous year.

    The president challenged Republicans to support a Senate bill that would make it easier for workers to sue over pay discrimination.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If Republicans in Congress want to prove me wrong, if they want to show that they in fact do care about women being paid the same as men, then show me.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the Senate, Democrats, led by Maryland’s Barbara Mikulski, joined in trying to ratchet up the pressure.

    SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI, D, Md.: We want the same pay for the same job. And we want it in our law books and we want it in our checkbooks.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Republicans accused the president and Democrats of using the pay issue purely for political gain.

    Cathy McMorris Rodgers represents a district in Washington State.

    REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS, R, Wash.: So, on this Equal Pay Day, I would urge us to stop politicizing women and let’s start focusing on those policies that are actually going to help women and everyone in this country have a better life.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said both sides should take a look at existing laws.

    REP. ERIC CANTOR, R, VA, House Majority Leader: It’s probably better for us to sit down and see how we can make sure that the law is being properly implemented, rather than play politics with this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The political volleys underscore the key role of women voters in elections. Mr. Obama won women by double digits in the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, as did Democrats in the 2006 midterms, when they captured majorities in both the House and Senate.

    But Republicans narrowly won women in 2010, when they took back control of the House. Now, Democrats are hoping equal pay will turn out women in their favor, and help fend off a Republican bid to win the Senate.

    The paycheck fairness bill faces a procedural vote in the Senate tomorrow.

    We explore the broader issues raised by this political fight with Genevieve Wood. She’s a senior contributor to The Foundry, a news and commentary site affiliated with the Heritage Foundation. And Ariane Hegewisch, she’s the study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

    And we welcome you both to the NewsHour.

    Ariane Hegewisch, to you first.

    How serious is the gap in wages between men and women today in this country?

    ARIANE HEGEWISCH, Institute for Women’s Policy Research: It’s pretty serious. And it’s stuck.

    Women who work full-time, year-round, the most committed workers, only make 77 cents on average for every dollar made by a man. So if you accumulate that over a year, over a lifetime, it makes for a lot of less money and less money to pay for pensions and to buy cars and to invest in your family. So it’s a big issue.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Genevieve Wood, do you agree it’s a serious gap?

    GENEVIEVE WOOD, Heritage Foundation: Well, I think the problem is the way people calculate those numbers, Judy.

    Look, if you compare apples to apples, so a woman and a man in the same job, they bring similar experience to the table, they bring similar skills and education background to the table, when you look at it that way, the wage gap all but disappears.

    As a matter of fact, that’s even according to the Department of Labor, who did a study on this. Where you get the larger discrepancy is when you combine all jobs. So, a high school teacher who, let’s say, is a woman, with many members of Congress who happen to be men, who make more money, when you look at it that way, it looks like men are making more.

    But if you compare a female member of Congress to a male member of Congress, they’re making the same amount of money. And I think it’s really important to look at that, because we — I’m a woman. I think women should make equal to what men should make if we’re doing the same job and we’re bringing the same to the table, but I think it’s very discouraging and a disservice to young women who are entering to the work force now to say to them, you need to be nervous about this. You need not have confidence walking in to a new job and asking for a raise if you think you deserve one.

    And I think that’s what this kind of — frankly, this political rhetoric actually does. It does a disservice to young women, as opposed to telling them, we have made great strides, go for it, you can make the same.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me come back to you, Ariane Hegewisch. What about this point that if you compare the same job, women and men are earning the same thing; it’s just that women happen to occupy a lot of lower-paying jobs?

    ARIANE HEGEWISCH: I think Congress is a great example, because in Congress male and female representatives do make the same money. They do the same work, they make the same money.

    We just analyzed the 20 most common occupations, and in none of them do women make the same as men. You know, there’s a pay gap in each of them. And if you take something like financial advisers — and there are studies on this — the women have the same training, they have the same qualifications, but they make less, because there is discrimination in who gets access to the best jobs.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Discrimination.

    ARIANE HEGEWISCH: It’s discrimination.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Genevieve, what about that?

    GENEVIEVE WOOD: Well, I would have to say, you have got to look at the Labor Department study on this.

    They — they did that very thing. They looked at men and women in the same professions with similar years in the work force, similar backgrounds, and said the wage gap basically disappears, anywhere from 96 cents to a man making a dollar up to 98 cents. So there’s two cents we need to make up.

    But I think, look, men and women make different choices. Georgetown did a great study that I thought was very interesting. They looked at what majors guys choose when they go to college and what majors women choose. Men tend to outnumber women in the top 10 wage earners, the majors that end up making the most money once you get out of college, in all of the top 10 except for one.

    Women outnumber men in the bottom set. So, if you want to make a lot of money, go be a petroleum engineer. Those who major in things like visual arts, they make less money. But that’s a choice people make.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Ariane Hegewisch, is it all about the choices women are making?  They’re just not making — they’re not choosing to go into the more lucrative jobs?

    ARIANE HEGEWISCH: I think it’s an issue of women being more likely to work in lower-paid occupations.

    The question is whether this is choice or whether it’s the way jobs are. We need teachers. And to say a teacher ought to be paid — you know, all teachers have to become engineers or I.T. professionals would be ruin to economy, because we need teachers and teachers need to be well-paid.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Just a second.

    ARIANE HEGEWISCH: The second issue is how much we — we just did a study on women working in blue-collar jobs, and a lot of those are electricians, you know, carpenters. They pay very well.

    And you don’t have to pay for your education, because it’s apprenticeship. Not one of the women we interviewed had been told about this prospect by counselors in school. You know, it was all happenstance.

    And then a lot of them face discrimination. And we — there are some cases of petroleum engineers or women who want to go, and you don’t want to look at what happened to them. So, it’s not quite as easy.

    GENEVIEVE WOOD: Well, I was just going to say, maybe we should pay teachers what we pay congressmen and reverse it out.

    (LAUGHTER)

    GENEVIEVE WOOD: But, listen, I think one thing that we should look at too is if you look at young women today in metropolitan cities who are single, childless, they are actually making 8 percent more than their male counterparts in those places.

    So I think there’s a lot of good news. And I think we ought to — we should talk about that, and we shouldn’t distort the numbers, which I think the White House is doing. And, Judy, I think your piece set it up. It’s a political year. They want women to think there’s a war going on against them. The fact is, women are doing pretty well.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s — yes, let’s — OK. It sounds like there’s going to be a disagreement about just how serious the gap is.

    But just in the little bit of time we have left, Ariane Hegewisch, what needs to be done? The president is saying, contractors who do work for the government need to disclose how much they’re paying women. They need to disclose whether women are earning the same as men.

    And they’re saying that there needs to be an even playing field.

    ARIANE HEGEWISCH: Exactly.

    And I think the rule for contractors says, if there’s transparency — and there’s social science research to show this — if there’s transparency, the gender wage gap disappears. You know, there might be some women who are better than men. There might be some men who are better than women, and they might get paid more. But you need to have objective criteria. And that’s what they’re trying to get.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Genevieve Wood, what about this notion of disclosing how much everyone is paid on a — whether it’s a government contractor or someone else, which would require congressional legislation?

    GENEVIEVE WOOD: Yes.

    Well, I don’t think we ought to be forcing private industry to do such a thing. But the fact is, Judy, I think, with all these things, good intentions and what sounds good, you have got to look at the repercussions of this. And I think we should be very concerned that if we have Washington, the government telling employers, here’s what you have got to pay people, you have got to pay people in these different jobs the same amount, what you’re going to do is actually end up having employers say, you know what? If I have got to pay everybody the same, wages come down.

    Things like performance pay and bonuses go out the window. That’s bad for women and men.

    ARIANE HEGEWISCH: Well, employers have had to do this for a long time.

    They have to monitor their pay, and they’re not allowed to discriminate. And performance-related pay hasn’t disappeared, nor have pay differences disappeared. You just want discrimination to disappear.

    And the — there’s one more point. It’s not a war on women. Women are really angry about discrimination. It’s an issue that women bring to the government. And they’re trying to do something about it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We are going to leave it there.

    We thank you both for being with us, Genevieve Wood, Ariane Hegewisch. Thank you.

    ARIANE HEGEWISCH: Thank you.

    The post Obama signs executive orders on pay transparency for federal contractors appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    EBOLA OUTBREAK  africa monitor

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Several countries in West Africa are now coping with the worst outbreak of the Ebola virus in years. The World Health Organization describes it as one of the most challenging episodes of the disease it’s ever faced. More than 100 people have died so far.

    Ebola, which is spread by a virus initially transmitted from wild animals, has a high fatality rate.

    Jeffrey Brown has more on the struggle to contain it.

    JEFFREY BROWN: One of the concerns is that Ebola has crossed borders. Guinea is where the outbreak began and was first made public in March. More than 100 deaths and 150 cases have been reported there.

    Another troubling aspect: The disease has turned up in a wide area, from tropical forests to the capital of Conakry to the Liberian border. In Liberia, investigators believe there are at least 10 deaths. Health officials are now investigating possible cases in both in Mali and Ghana.

    And more than 60 percent of infected people so far have died.

    Laurie Garrett of the Council on Foreign Relations has tracked outbreaks in the past as a journalist and author of several books on global health and disease. She joins us now.

    Laurie, welcome back to the program.

    First, remind us a bit about what Ebola is and exactly how it’s transmitted.

    LAURIE GARRETT, Council on Foreign Relations: Thank you.

    Yes, Ebola is an RNA virus, a very small virus that attacks the endothelial linings that maintain the integrity of your blood vessels, blood veins, capillaries, first little microscopic holes through which bits of blood and fluids will leak, but eventually larger and larger holes, until the individual begins to hemorrhage internally, and hemorrhaging blood through tears, from the mouth, from the nose, all over the body, so that they become quite frightening to see.

    And individuals will get a high fever. They may get blood in the brain, which will lead to even more insane behavior, a kind of deranged look in their eyes, all of which contributes to a great deal of fear.

    On top of it all, the fluids contain virus, so they’re highly, highly contagious to the touch.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, in — so, in the current situation, as we mentioned, we’re seeing it spreading into several countries. That’s — that’s unusual, right?

    LAURIE GARRETT: We have never seen this before.

    This — as NSF put it correctly, this is unprecedented. We have had outbreaks before, but they have always stayed within a country and even within a pretty confined part of the country. The outbreak I was in, in Kikwit, Zaire, in 1995, only got to a few peripheral villages, a large distance, but walking distance.

    There were no ways to get around other than walking and Land Rovers, no streets, no roads, no real airports, and so on. This is different because Conakry is a real city. It has a real, serious airport. Senegal is next door, and Dakar is one of the biggest airports in all of West Africa.

    It has indeed crossed borders, involved multiple governments, multiple sets of policies. It’s in all different kinds of religious communities, cultural communities, different languages, all of which makes conquering it much more difficult, because your number one obstacle with Ebola is fear and how the public responds.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But, at the same time, health officials have said — they’re reporting that they have traced the sources of transmission for everyone who’s sick. Now, that sounds like a good sign for trying to contain this.

    LAURIE GARRETT: Could be. Could be.

    But there are some — fundamental mystery here. Something’s going on in the rain forest, because what these countries share is a special ecology, a special rain forest region, in which are the fruit bats that normally carry the Ebola virus harmlessly to the bat population, but can pass it on to other primates, which can be eaten by the humans, or to people, hunters that may be in the rain forests.

    And it’s possible that we’re getting multiple introductions, or at least more than one, across the region. So if something is going on in the rain forest that is why the bats are stressed and passing the virus, then we will see multiple rounds of reintroduction.

    But the bottom line here is to extract individuals from their homes, put them in quarantine, give them safe and, you know, humane care, and make sure that all the caregivers have proper protective gear.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And all that hasn’t really changed all that much since Ebola was first found in 1976, right, I mean, in terms of what can be done once an outbreak begins?

    LAURIE GARRETT: We understand it a little better, but we don’t have any different technology today than we have had all along since we have known of the Ebola virus in 1976.

    It’s all about hand-washing, latex gloves, protective gear masks, and a kind of infection control.

    JEFFREY BROWN: So, on the one hand, the WHO is saying they’re getting a handle on this, but they’re also saying that it may take months to deal with. What does that tell you?

    LAURIE GARRETT: Well, it tells me that we have a real problem because it’s so dispersed.

    It’s across a broad, broad territory, multiple different ecologies, different cultures. And let’s not forget, this is a region that has recently been through civil wars, Sierra Leone’s civil war, Liberia’s civil war, Mali ongoing conflict.

    This means that the infrastructure is in terrible shape, that the nerves of the people are raw. There’s a lot of suspicion and countersuspicion between populations and for or against government. So trying to conquer a problem like this means overcoming a lot of larger political issues that have been rife in the region for a long time.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Laurie Garrett, thanks so much.

    LAURIE GARRETT: Thank you.

    The post Unprecedented Ebola outbreak crosses borders in West Africa appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    As the deadline to file taxes fast approaches, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing Tuesday about taxpayers, and how to protect them from incompetent tax preparers.

    More than 40 million taxpayers use tax preparers who do not have to meet any standard of competency in order to prepare taxes.

    In 2011, the IRS tried to implement a mandatory exam and continue education for all tax preparers who were not CPAs, attorneys or enrolled agents. But federal courts ruled that the IRS had overstepped its statutory authority. Today, only four states — including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden’s home state of Oregon — have regulations for all tax preparers.

    IRS Commissioner John Koskinen urged Congress to grant the IRS authority to regulate all tax preparers, which he testified “will translate into improved overall tax compliance.”

    Several of the questions that IRS Commissioner Koskinen faced were related to allegations of the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups. In response to questions about the timing of new 501(c)(4) regulations, Commissioner Koskinen said that he hoped many of the six investigations currently underway would be completed before final regulations were issued.

    National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson — who represents the voice of the taxpayer inside the IRS — has been pushing for the regulation of tax preparers since 2002.

    “Other financial professionals, whose work affects the financial lives of their clients are widely regulated, yet anyone can hang out a shingle as a tax return preparer with no knowledge, no skill, and no experience required.”

    James McTigue Jr., Director of Strategic Issues for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), testified about the findings from a new study on paid tax preparers.

    At the request of the Senate Finance Committee, the GAO went undercover in February and found that correct returns were prepared by only two out of 19 preparers tested. While the study was limited, the findings were similar to a 2006 GAO report, which found errors in 19 out 19 preparers tested.

    William Cobb, President and CEO of H&R Block, said that he supported legislation to regulate tax preparers.

    “We want a level playing field,” Cobb told the Committee.

    The CEO of the biggest commercial tax preparer in the country welcomed federal regulation and warned that unscrupulous tax preparers were currently operating under the radar by not signing tax returns they prepared, as required by law.

    But not everyone agreed with need for additional regulation.

    “Congress should not give the IRS additional authority over tax preparers,” testified Dan Alban, an attorney for the Institute for Justice Tax who successfully sued the IRS over the agency’s 2011 regulatory plan.

    Alban argued that tax preparers are already regulated by numerous statutory requirements imposing both civil and criminal penalties on bad preparers.

    “These tools already provide the IRS with what it needs to identify, track, and penalize the few bad apples.”

    Beyond regulating tax preparers, both Chairman Wyden and ranking member Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah agreed that making the tax code simpler and more straightforward would reduce errors and reliance on paid tax preparers.

    The post Senate Finance Committee holds hearing on tax return preparer regulations appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The term “Equal Pay Day” was used Tuesday at the White House and on Capitol Hill to highlight the pay gap between men and women.

    The Census finds that, as median income goes, women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. And the point of holding “Equal Pay Day” around this time of the year is to show how much longer — nearly three months — a woman would have to work to make up that other 23 percent.

    There’s even a purpose to holding it on Tuesday — it represents the extra day or two women would have to work to equal the income of men from the previous week.

    But all that didn’t start with this White House or any other White House, for that matter.

    The phrase dates back to 1996 and was coined by the National Committee on Pay Equity, an all-volunteer group of women who began meeting in 1979.

    The women noticed the disparity in median pay and wanted to bring attention to it. So, 18 years ago, they came up with “National Pay Inequity Day.”

    But that wonky phrase didn’t get much pick up.

    “It didn’t have a good ring to it and was confusing,” said Michele (pronounced Michael) Leber, chairwoman of the group. She’s been on the board since 1985 and a member since its inception.

    “Equal Pay Day” sounded a lot better and started to get some traction. And so a Washington phrase was born.

    “It has succeeded beyond what we would have expected,” Leber said, noting that a handful of other countries have even recognized it.

    But Leber said the 77 percent statistic is often misused.

    “Sometimes people say this 77 cents is for people doing the same work, and it’s not,” she said.

    The statistic is often cited by Democrats as evidence of pay disparity. Republicans used a similar statistic to point out the aggregate pay disparity in the White House. A study by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, found that women in the White House make 88 percent of what men make in the White House. But, just like the 77 percent statistic, that accounts for everyone working and is not about equal pay for equal work.

    Leber said the group is pleased with the executive orders and frustrated with Republicans for having blocked the so-called Paycheck Fairness Act, which passed the House twice previously and got 58 votes in the Senate. It is slated to come up for a vote Wednesday and will likely not get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. And even if it does, it has zero chance of being taken up by the Republican-led House.

    The post Equal Pay Day: what is it, when did it start? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The little padlock that that sits next to the web address of the site you just logged into — the one that’s meant to protect your privacy, your passwords, your online files — isn’t as secure as you thought.

    The New York Times reported Tuesday that security researchers in discovered a bug in the encryption technology on Monday. The flaw — called “Heartbleed” — could essentially give hackers access to your valuable online information, spurring sites like Tumblr to warn users to reset their passwords.

    The kicker? If your information has been compromised, there’s no way of knowing. That is, unless a hacker publicly posts your information.

    The post Flaw in encryption technology may compromise your data appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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