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

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    A plow pushes through snow in Lancaster, NY. Some areas of western New York received 5 feet of snowfall. With more to come between Wednesday and Friday, clearing the streets has been a daunting task. Photo courtesy: John Hickey/Buffalo News

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: President Obama served notice today he’s ready to force congress’ hand on immigration reform. The White House said he will give a prime-time address tomorrow night to announce his plan to shield up to five million people from deportation.

    The president himself spoke in a video posted on the White House Facebook page.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken.

    Unfortunately, Washington has allowed the problem to fester for too long. And so what I’m going lay out is the things that I can do with my lawful authority as president to make the system work better, even as I continue to work with Congress and encourage them to get a bipartisan comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem.

    GWEN IFILL: Republicans have warned the president’s unilateral action will poison the well with the next Congress, when they will control both the House and Senate.

    Today, Texas Senator John Cornyn called it an abuse of power, unfair to those going through the legal immigration process.

    SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) Texas: We are the most generous country in the world when it comes to naturalization, almost a million people a year. But the president is going to tell the people waiting patiently in line, playing by the rules, get in the back of the line. I’m going to put millions of people ahead of you in front of the line who have not played by the rules.

    GWEN IFILL: We will look more closely at the political implications of what the president means to do after the news summary.

    A snowstorm for the ages left parts of Western New York State struggling to recover today, with at least six people dead. The slow-moving system was fueled by the Great Lakes and turned into kind of a monstrous snowmaking machine.

    All day yesterday and for much of today, the snow kept coming hour after hour, inch by inch,  foot upon foot.

    MAN: It’s pretty incredible, the amount of snow when I came out this morning.

    GWEN IFILL: The Buffalo region is long since used to brutal winters, but this much snow this early caught everyone off-guard. By this morning, as much as six feet of powder blanketed areas south of the city, buried houses up to the roofline and triggered a state of emergency.

    Photos of the massive lake-effect storm showed a hulking wall of snow rolling off Lake Erie yesterday. It piled up so fast that a 132-mile stretch of the New York Thruway shut down, trapping more than a hundred vehicles.

    QUESTION: Where are you trying to go?

    MAN: Buffalo.

    QUESTION: And how’s that going?

    MAN: Not well.

    GWEN IFILL: The Niagara University women’s basketball team was stranded in a bus for more than 24 hours before being rescued early today.

    And all across the region, people tried to shovel and plow out of nearly head-high drifts, only to have fresh snow cover their tracks at the rate of several inches an hour.

    MAN: It’s horrible. It’s just backbreaking. The snowblower doesn’t even do anything.

    MAN: It’s just too much shoveling. I would rather be inside all cuddled up in a blanket, watching TV.

    GWEN IFILL: The storm’s first wave finally moved slightly north today to places that received just a dusting earlier, but a second round was expected to bring another two to three feet of snow by tomorrow.

    RICHARD TOBE, Deputy Erie County Executive: That will get them to 90, 100 inches of snow. That’s a year’s worth of snow in four days.

    GWEN IFILL: And that spelled trouble for the Buffalo Bills football team, scheduled to host the New York Jets Sunday. Officials were scrambling to see if they can clear the snow from Ralph Wilson Stadium in time.

    Elsewhere, the wintry blast brought the kind of cold usually seen in January or February, if at all. There were readings at or below freezing yesterday in all 50 states, making it the coldest November morning nationwide since 1976.

    Late today, transportation officials announced the hardest-hit sections of the New York State Thruway will stay closed at least through tomorrow.

    Israel reimposed tough security measures today in a bid to stop attacks in Jerusalem. Crews demolished the home of a Palestinian man who drove his car into a crowd last month, killing two people. Relatives walked through the rubble in East Jerusalem after the home was blown up before dawn. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised there’s more to come.

    BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister, Israel (through interpreter): I am impressed by the genuine effort to intervene in real time against disturbers of the peace and terrorists. This is a significant and important step, and there will be more home demolitions. There will be many more steps. We have nothing against the residents of Eastern Jerusalem, but we will not tolerate attacks on our citizens, and we will act against those who do these things and against those engaged in incitement.

    GWEN IFILL: The policy of demolishing homes was largely suspended in 2005, after security chiefs concluded it wasn’t an effective deterrent.

    In Pakistan, four relatives of a pregnant woman who beat her to death were sentenced to death themselves today in Lahore. The victim’s father, brother, cousin and another relative had attacked her last May after she married against her family’s wishes. Hundreds of Pakistani women are murdered every year in so-called honor killings.

    The Ebola death toll has risen to more than 5,400 in eight countries. The World Health Organization reported the new figure today. It also said there have been more than 15,000 confirmed cases. Meanwhile, the World Bank said economic losses in West Africa are far less than once feared, due to efforts to contain the disease. It estimated the damage at $3 billion to $4 billion. The worst-case had been $32 billion.

    A warning today from the acting director of the Secret Service. Joseph Clancy told a House hearing that a series of scandals at the agency has badly damaged morale and operational security. One of the incidents came in September, when a man jumped the White House fence and got inside the executive mansion. An internal review found multiple failings.

    JOSEPH CLANCY, Acting Director, Secret Service: I found the findings devastating. What hits the hardest is the range of shortcomings that ultimately allowed Omar Gonzalez to enter the White House practically unencumbered. Although I firmly believe the Secret Service is better than this incident, I openly acknowledge that a failure of this magnitude, especially in light of other recent incidents, requires immediate action and longer-term reform.

    GWEN IFILL: Clancy was appointed to his post just last month after Julia Pierson resigned as director, under pressure.

    The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation announced a windfall today. It sold the royalty rights to drugs used to combat the fatal lung disease. Royalty Pharma paid $3.3 billion. The foundation had invested about $100 million to help create the first medicine that treats the genetic roots of cystic fibrosis.

    In the face of California’s prolonged drought, the city of San Diego is taking a step that was once unthinkable. The city council voted last night to recycle sewer water for drinking. The project will cost $2.5 billion. San Diego currently draws 85 percent of its water from the Colorado River and Northern California.

    Wall Street paused today after reaching a series of record highs. The Dow Jones industrial average lost two points to close at 17,685; the Nasdaq fell 26 points to close at 4,675; and the S&P slipped three points to finish at 2,048.

    The post News Wrap: Early, monster snowstorm catches Western New York off guard appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Jason Collins

    Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins announced his retirement from the NBA today. He was the first openly gay active player in the U.S.’s four major sports leagues. Photo by Andrew Theodorakis/NY Daily News via Getty Images

    After a 13-year career in the NBA, Jason Collins, the first openly gay professional basketball player, is retiring. Eighteen months ago Collins came out as gay through a first person article published in Sports Illustrated. In the first line he wrote, “I am a 34-year old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” He announced his plans to retire today, again through first person, this time on The Players’ Tribune.

    “It was a fighting, thrilling 13 years dedicated to making myself the best possible basketball player I could be,” Collins told the PBS NewsHour Wednesday night. “But I am beyond ready for this day to come, to make this official, and to get ready to become just a fan now, not a participant. Next time I’ll be participating will be in an exhibition game.”

    Several major athletes have made personal announcements through first person articles including LeBron James earlier this year.

    Collins said he really loved telling his story this way. “I put a lot of detail into that Sports Illustrated article and then also with this Players Tribune article; there’s a lot detail in there,” Collins said. “I really wanted the reader to get a glimpse of what it was like for me … a glimpse into that world that I went through.”

    “Yes, I was the first out active male professional athlete in the four major sports groups but, you know, I want my legacy to be that of a good teammate.”Jason Collins was first drafted into the NBA in 2001. He then spent over a decade playing for various teams. Last year he finished the 2012-2013 season with the Washington Wizards and then became a free agent. It was while he was a free agent that he made his sexuality known. He did not play basketball again until Feb. 23, 2014, when the Brooklyn Nets signed him for a 10-day contract. He wrote that he was afraid he may not be signed again after coming out because teams would see him as a distraction.

    “The ironic thing about the dreaded “D” word is that I had never felt more comfortable playing basketball than I was as an openly gay man,” he wrote. “You know what the real distraction is? Maintaining a lie 24 hours a day.”

    Collins finished the 2014 season with the Brooklyn Nets where he had spent most of his playing career.

    Collins’ retirement means there will be no openly gay player currently playing in any of the four major U.S. sports leagues: NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB. Michael Sam, a former football player for the University of Missouri and now a free agent, came out in February and was drafted to the St. Louis’ Rams, but has since been released. Addressing the lack of openly gay players, Collins wrote that we are not “there” yet when it comes to accepting openly gay players in major league sports.

    When speaking with the NewsHour he said we will be “there” when same-sex families can wait in the family room with everyone else, as Collins’ boyfriend has done.

    “We will be there when people feel that they don’t have to hide that part of what makes them unique,” Collins said. “We have a long ways to go in regards to that because there are others that I am in contact with who are hesitant about making it a public announcement for a multitude of reasons, but as a society we need to encourage them to live their authentic lives in a way that can help inspire and help the future generation.”

    Collins’ last 18 months have been filled with recognition from President Obama at the State of the Union address to being named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People. Yet, as he leaves the NBA he doesn’t want his sexual identity to be his only defining legacy.

    “Yes, I was the first out active male professional athlete in the four major sports groups but, you know, I want my legacy to be that of a good teammate,” Collins said.

    After retirement Collins will continue working with the NBA as an NBA Cares Ambassador promoting health and fitness through basketball. He will also be working with various communities, charities and organizations such as the Billie Jean King Initiative to spread of diversity and inclusion in leadership.

    In more immediate plans, he told us he was about to cheer on his former team the Brooklyn Nets against his former teammate Jason Kidd.

    “Even though, obviously, I wish J-Kidd the best. I hope that J-Kidd has a great coaching game, but that the Nets win,” he laughed.

    The post Jason Collins, first openly gay NBA player, reflects on legacy, life after basketball appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. President Barack Obama (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a press conference in Beijing, China, after the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders conference, on Nov. 12. Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images

    U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a press conference in Beijing, China, after the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders conference, on Nov. 12. Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Tensions between the U.S. and China have deepened during the rule of China’s president, Xi Jinping, and the risk of an inadvertent military clash in the Asia-Pacific is growing, a congressional advisory panel said Thursday.

    The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission criticizes “unsafe, unprofessional and aggressive” behavior by Chinese military personnel in the past year as the rising power has intimidated its neighbors and challenged decades of American pre-eminence in the Asia-Pacific.

    The commission’s annual report was drafted before President Barack Obama visited Beijing last week and agreed with Xi to improve military cooperation to help reduce the risk of a confrontation. Obama’s trip also yielded a breakthrough deal with Xi on combating climate change, seen as sign that despite their strategic rivalry and differences over human rights, the two governments can cooperate.

    But since Xi came to power two years ago, the panel notes U.S.-China relations have been increasingly strained by China’s territorial ambitions in the East and South China Sea, where it has disputes with nations including U.S. allies Japan and the Philippines.

    “It is becoming clear that President Xi’s government is willing to cause a much higher level of tension in the bilateral relationship than past administrations have. Unfortunately, China’s pursuit of a more confrontational relationship with the United States likely will persist,” the commission says.

    Commission Chairman Dennis Shea said that conclusion still held, despite Obama’s upbeat visit to Beijing.

    Shea said the trip improved the atmospherics between the U.S. and China, but fundamental problems remain. He cited continuing Chinese state-sponsored cyberespionage; an increasingly hostile environment for U.S. business in China; and Chinese military modernization aimed at least in part at countering the U.S. military in the Pacific.

    The commission advises Congress on the national security implications of the relationship between the two world powers. It doesn’t set policy, and Beijing is typically very critical of its findings.

    The report says the potential for “security miscalculation” in the region is rising, and that as China increases its military spending by double-digit percentages year after year, the balance of power is drifting away from the U.S. and its allies.

    It notes that by 2020, China could have as many as 351 submarines and missile-equipped surface ships in the Asia-Pacific. The U.S. Navy, by comparison, plans to have 67 submarines and surface ships stationed or deployed to the region, the report says.

    The commission cites several publicized incidents in which it says Chinese military aircraft and vessels have engaged in risky behavior with Japanese and U.S. forces, which it says could have resulted in the loss of life or a major political crisis. It cited an incident in August when an armed Chinese J-11 fighter jet passed within 20 feet to 45 feet of a U.S. Navy P-8 surveillance plane.

    The post Commission warns China will continue to strain relations with U.S. appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen signs a copy of Time Magazine while testifying on Capitol Hill earlier this year. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen signs a copy of Time Magazine while testifying on Capitol Hill earlier this year. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

    One recent brisk morning in the nation’s capital, about 30 community leaders and workers from around the country, all clad in matching green T-shirts, posed for a group photo on Constitution Ave. Ten guards huddled at the top of the walkway separating them from the Federal Reserve.

    The workers weren’t protesting. They weren’t sightseeing. They were there to meet Janet Yellen.

    “That’s a big deal,” said former Fed vice chair Alan Blinder.

    Friday marked the third time in the past month that Yellen has been in the public eye for engaging with the public, or at least with economic issues much more on their minds than, say, quantitative easing.

    First, it was her speech at a conference on inequality organized by the Boston Federal Reserve. On that same trip, she met with the jobless at a nearby community center. And then, she posed for selfies.

    The string of incidents has raised questions about the public face of the Fed, and when it’s appropriate for Yellen, an unelected government official with enormous power, to inject herself into public debates that may have political overtones.

    “I see no harm in her talking and listening to people,” said Michael Strain, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “But those situations can magnify and invite off-the-cuff remarks.”

    Yellen certainly doesn’t want to be a politician, said Alan Blinder, vice chair of the Fed under Bill Clinton. But making those off-the-cuff remarks is an “occupational hazard” of the position, he added, especially when testifying in front of lawmakers. Some chairs have handled it better than others, and both Blinder and Strain agree that Yellen’s comments about inequality were slight as indiscretions come. Alan Greenspan was famous for weighing into policy debates too freely, as when he endorsed George W. Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security in 2005. That behavior inspired Ben Bernanke to shy away from any incursions into the public dialogue unrelated to monetary policy.

    A Rare Meeting

    Bridging the gap between the public dialogue and what’s arguably the most powerful economic institution in the world is exactly what Yellen has been doing.

    While her remarks about inequality have sparked the most controversy, her invitation to a coalition of community organizers, labor leaders, low-wage workers, faith leaders and liberal economists is the farthest step she’s taken toward involving the public in the Fed and its policies. She didn’t just meet the “Fed Up” campaign, as they call themselves, in a spare conference room. They sat in the inner sanctum of one of the most cloistered agency’s of the U.S. government — the board of governors meeting room, where the Federal Open Market Committee meets in private to decide monetary policy.

    Fed Up’s tagline — “What recovery?” — illustrates the disconnect between the two-thirds of voters who told exit pollsters earlier this month that the economy is getting worse and headline economic figures that are growing stronger. Unemployment is now as low as it was before the recession. But wages are barely keeping pace with inflation, while unemployment for some demographics and geographic regions remains much higher than the average. Nationally, African Americans were unemployed at a rate of 10.9 percent in October. In Atlanta, the unemployment rate for blacks is nearly 14 percent, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, one of the parties to the Fed Up campaign.

    Workers didn’t travel to Washington to protest Yellen, said Amador Rivas, of Harlem; they just wanted her to hear what’s happening on the ground. Jean Andre echoed those remarks. Andre, a member of New York Communities for Change, used to do locations support in the film industry. “You know, one of those names at the end of the movie that no one reads,” he said. He lived a middle-class lifestyle. But after the financial crash, he lost his home and struggled to find a full-time job to pay for a mortgage modification.

    Jean Andre, a member of New York Communities for Change, speaks at an Oct. 14 press conference before Fed Up's meeting with Yellen. Photo by Simone Pathe.

    Jean Andre, a member of New York Communities for Change, speaks at an Oct. 14 press conference before Fed Up’s meeting with Yellen. Photo by Simone Pathe.

    To some on the right, though, Yellen’s meeting looked like it was going beyond a simple meet-and-greet with the public. American Principles in Action blasted her for discussing monetary policy “with representatives of an extreme political view,” and requested a similar meeting for a chance to express their concerns with low interest rates.

    Fed Up does have an agenda when it comes to monetary policy: they want the Fed to keep interest rates low to stimulate jobs and, they argue, higher wages. They’d also like the Fed to buy municipal bonds as a form of lending to cities and states.

    Their campaign took off earlier this month with a call to democratize the very table at which they met Friday. In early 2015, the presidents of the regional Federal Reserve banks in Philadelphia and Dallas are stepping down, and Fed Up called on the board of governors and regional banks to release the names of possible successors and to give the public input, if not the opportunity to serve on the regional boards. (The Philadelphia Fed on Friday morning released the name of the search firm vetting candidates, which has established an email to receive public inquiries.)

    “We had Wall Streeters in the building all the time,” Blinder said, reflecting on his time as vice chair. This “signals the Fed is as interested in these groups as the financial markets.”

    “The Fed is too important of an institution to be insulated from the voices and perspectives of working families,” said Ady Barkan, an attorney at the Coalition for Popular Democracy, the group that organized the meeting.

    That’s why Friday’s meeting with Yellen was so significant for them. “The people who are the true consumers who finance the economy finally have a chance to have input,” Andre said. The meeting was a significant event for the Fed, too. “We had Wall Streeters in the building all the time,” Blinder said, reflecting on his time as vice chair. This “signals the Fed is as interested in these groups as the financial markets.”

    A Central Bank Can Only Do So Much

    Even if their message resonates, though, the Fed, and Yellen as its public face, does not necessarily have authority to address every plight of working Americans. Yellen has herself said many times that wages are still too low in this recovery. “If they’re trying to elicit sympathy that wage earners aren’t making enough,” Blinder said about Fed Up, “they’re preaching to the converted.”

    The "Fed Up" campaign gathers for an Oct. 14 press conference outside the Federal Reserve before meeting with Chair Janet Yellen. Photo by Simone Pathe.

    The “Fed Up” campaign gathers for an Oct. 14 press conference outside the Federal Reserve before meeting with Chair Janet Yellen. Photo by Simone Pathe.

    The central bank has no control over wages, except in the sense that wages typically rise in a tighter labor market, said Blinder. Holding short-term interest rates low is supposed to boost employment, and it has — unemployment has dropped from above 10 percent to below 6 percent — but so far, that’s done little for wages.

    As for buying municipal bonds to lend to cities and states in need, Blinder doesn’t think that’s the Fed’s business, even if it does have the legal authority to do so. Its dual mandate to maintain full employment and stable prices is about national economic policy, he said, and there’s no way it would be able to choose which states’ bonds to buy.

    The Fed and Inequality

    Likewise, the Fed has no policy tools to directly address economic inequality. That’s why Yellen’s Oct. 17 speech, more than anything else, has left Blinder, a close friend, and Strain, who still thinks she’ll “make a great chair,” feeling uneasy.

    Of course, the Fed isn’t totally removed from the debate over inequality. The central bank conducts research on the subject as an economic phenomenon, and the Boston Fed organized the entire October conference at which Yellen spoke around the topic.

    In fact, plenty of the Fed’s critics accuse the central bank and its bond buying program of contributing to the divide between Wall Street and Main Street. “The fact that quantitative easing has driven up the stock market to what some would call dizzying heights does in fact exacerbate wealth inequality,” Blinder said. But to him, that’s just collateral damage. “If the instruments you have are limited and work through financial markets,” he added, “that’s going to be a side effect.”

    But reduced income inequality can also be a side effect of the Fed fulfilling its mandate. Blinder pointed to the second Clinton Administration as a period when plentiful jobs — “if your breath showed in the mirror you could get a job” — slowed the growth in the gap between top and bottom earners. (Clinton’s economic legacy — including his administration’s impact on inequality — is a subject of continuous debate.)

    The “Fed Up” campaign isn’t interested in side effects, though. Their mission statement singles out the Fed for its ability to make a difference in the lives of working Americans: “President Obama, Congress, and most state legislatures have failed to strengthen the economy — and have often made things worse. But the Federal Reserve has tremendous power over the economy.”

    That power is precisely why Blinder and Strain agree that the Federal Reserve must be insulated from politics. Talking to labor, community leaders and Wall Street is important, said Blinder, but the transparency for which Bernanke, and now Yellen, has been lauded is about monetary policy, not taxes or inequality.

    A Step Too Far?

    For many conservatives, Yellen crossed the line with her Boston remarks, especially when she said, “The extent of and continuing increase in inequality in the United States greatly concern me.”

    To Strain and others on the right, Yellen sounded far too Democratic in her concerns about inequality, as she did when she alluded to universal pre-k, another policy priority often associated with the Democratic Party.

    Did Yellen betray herself as too blue? Richard Reeves, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, doesn’t think so. The substance of Yellen’s speech offered more to conservatives, he wrote, particularly her acknowledgement of business ownership and inherited wealth as “building blocks” of opportunity in the United States.

    Republicans in Congress may not see it that way, though, which is another reason Yellen’s remarks worried Strain. He’s afraid they’ll only fuel GOP efforts to rein in the central bank. There’s a reason Congress doesn’t have oversight over monetary policy: it doesn’t mix well with politics, said Blinder. “You’d get too high inflation because there’s the temptation, among all these politicians, to juice up the economy just before elections.”

    For Fed Up organizers, though, Yellen’s meeting with them last Friday is not a sign she’s identifying with either party, but that the Fed can be, in the words of the Kansas City Rev. Stanley Runnels, of Communities Creating Opportunity, “an unconventional source of hope” for millions of Americans.

    The post Taking selfies and talking inequality, has Janet Yellen gone too far? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Mike Nichols and wife Diane Sawyer pose at The Opening Night of 'The Real Thing' on Broadway at American Airlines Theatre on October 30, 2014 in New York City.  Nichols died Wednesday night at the age of 83. Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

    Mike Nichols and wife Diane Sawyer pose at The Opening Night of ‘The Real Thing’ on Broadway at American Airlines Theatre on October 30, 2014 in New York City. Nichols died Wednesday night at the age of 83. Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

    Mike Nichols, an award-winning director known for his versatility and genre-blending productions for film, TV and stage, died on Wednesday evening.

    Over the course of a more than five decades long career, Nichols, known for such hits as “The Graduate,” “Angels in America” and “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” won an Academy Award, a Grammy and multiple Tony and Emmy Awards. He is one of the rare few to garner such awards.

    Nichols was born Michael Igor Peschkowsky on Nov. 6, 1931 in Berlin, where he lived until the age of seven before fleeing with his family from Nazi Germany for America. He fell in love with the theater at age 15, when he saw Marlon Brando in “A Streetcar Named Desire” with his then-girlfriend.

    His own career began as part of a celebrated improvisational comedy duo with Elaine May. They shocked audiences in the late 1950s and early 1960s by openly tackling subjects such as sex, marriage and family. They earned a Grammy in 1960 for best comedy recording for their Broadway show “An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May.” The two split up shortly after, but came back together in ‘90s to collaborate on “Primary Colors” and “The Birdcage.”

    In 1966, Nichols made his directorial film debut with “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. A year later, Nichols directed “The Graduate,” which launched the career of Dustin Hoffman, who starred alongside Anne Bancroft. That film — which included the famous line, “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me” — won him an Oscar for best director.

    Nichols went on to work with such famed actors as Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Emma Thompson, Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, Robin Williams and Julia Roberts. The list goes on.

    On stage, Nichols moved effortlessly between comedy, classics and musicals. He won nine Tonys for his direction of Broadway productions, including his 1964 “Barefoot in the Park,” “Luv” and “The Odd Couple” in 1965, “The Real Thing” in 1984” and “Death of a Salesman” in 2012. He also won a Tony for musical direction with the 2005 “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” and for producing the 1977 “Annie” and the 1984 “The Real Thing”.

    In the early 2000s, Nichols directed two TV adaptations: the HBO production of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” in 2003 and the 2001 adaptation of Margaret Edson’s “Wit.” Both won Nichols an Emmy.

    His 50-year career, filled with creativity and daring humor, was marked by his skillful ability to jump from the stage to the screen, blurring the lines between genres as he moved.

    “I have never understood people dividing things into dramas and comedies,” Nichols said during an interview with the Associated Press in 2004. “There are more laughs in `Hamlet’ than many Broadway comedies.”

    His death was confirmed in a statement by ABC News president James Goldston on Thursday.

    “He was a true visionary,” Goldston said. “No one was more passionate about his craft than Mike.”

    The post Award-winning director Mike Nichols dies at 83 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Rescue teams continued searching for missing passengers Thursday aboard a capsized ferry off the coast of South Korea. Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

    The head of the company that oversaw the ferry that sunk back in April, killing more than 300 passengers, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

    A South Korean district court Thursday sentenced the chief executive of Chonghaejin Marine Company — which operated the ferry involved in the April disaster that killed more than 300 people — to 10 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and embezzlement.

    Kim Han-sik, one of 11 put on trial for their involvement relating to the April sinking of the ferry Sewol, was found guilty of not taking action after junior officials reportedly informed him of the ship’s instability. Judge Yim Jung-yeob focused on the part Kim played in overseeing the refurbishment of the vessel to increase the ferry’s capacity by adding further cabins to the upper decks, an adjustment that made the Sewol top-heavy. The dangerous unbalance, investigators said, combined with the overloading of the ship, were responsible for the disaster.

    “Kim remodeled the ship and overloaded it with cargo in an effort to overcome the company’s deficits,” Judge Yim said in his ruling, “despite being briefed that the ship’s ability to balance itself was compromised.”

    Kim was also charged with embezzling money from the company.

    The ruling comes a week after the captain of the Sewol, Lee Joon-seok, was sentenced to 36 years in prison for abandoning the hundreds of passengers aboard the vessel — most of them high school students — while it was sinking.

    The post South Korea ferry company chief sentenced to 10 years in jail for April disaster appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    ISP pool Dennis Brack/Black Star

    President Obama plans to announce executive action on immigration Thursday night, leaving Republicans planning their response. Photo by ISP pool Dennis Brack/Black Star

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is poised to level broad authority to grant work permits to millions of immigrants living illegally in the United States and to protect them from deportation, but the plan would leave the fate of millions more still unresolved. Republicans vowed an all-out fight against it.

    “Congress will act,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned on the Senate floor Thursday, hours before Obama’s 8 p.m. EST address sidestepping Congress on this volatile issue.

    “We’re considering a variety of options,” McConnell told Senate colleagues. “But make no mistake. When the newly elected representatives of the people take their seats, they will act.”

    PBS NewsHour will live stream the president’s prime time address Thursday. Watch it in the player above.

    Obama’s measures could make as many as 5 million people eligible for work permits, with the broadest action likely aimed at extending deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, as long as those parents have been in the country for five years.

    Other potential winners under Obama’s actions would be young immigrants who entered the country illegally as children but do not now qualify under a 2012 directive from the president that’s expected to be expanded.

    Changes also are expected to law enforcement programs and business visas. But with more than 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally, Obama’s actions would not affect millions of other illegal immigrants, although their chances of getting deported if they have not committed a crime are low.

    “What I’m going to be laying out is the things that I can do with my lawful authority as president to make the system better, even as I continue to work with Congress and encourage them to get a bipartisan, comprehensive bill that can solve the entire problem,” Obama said in a video posted Wednesday on Facebook.

    But the vehement reaction of Republicans, who will have complete control of Congress come January, made clear that Obama was courting what could be one of the most pitched partisan confrontations of his presidency.

    How Republicans will respond remained uncertain, and the party was divided. But a major battle on Capitol Hill looked inevitable.

    Some on the right pushed for using must-pass spending legislation to try to shut-down Obama’s move. One lawmaker — two-term Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama — raised the specter of impeachment.

    Party leaders warned against such talk and sought to avoid spending-bill tactics that could lead to a government shutdown. They said such moves could backfire, alienating Hispanic voters and others.

    In a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans, McConnell urged restraint. Still, there were concerns among some Republicans that the potential 2016 presidential candidates in the Senate would use the announcement to elevate their standing, challenging Obama directly.

    And as far-reaching as Obama’s steps would be, they fall far short of what a comprehensive immigration overhaul passed by the Senate last year would have accomplished. The House never voted on that legislation. It would have set tougher border security standards, increased caps for visas for foreign high-skilled workers and allowed the 11 million immigrants illegally in the country to obtain work permits and begin a 10-year path toward a green card and, ultimately, citizenship.

    “This is not the way we want to proceed. It will not solve the problem permanently,” White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri acknowledged Thursday on MSNBC.

    None of those affected by Obama’s actions would have a path to citizenship, and the actions could be reversed by a new president after Obama leaves office. Moreover, officials said the eligible immigrants would not be entitled to federal benefits — including health care tax credits — under Obama’s plan.

    Some immigrant advocates worried that even though Obama’s actions would make millions eligible for work permits, not all would participate out of fear that Republicans or a new president would reverse Obama’s actions.

    “If the reaction to this is that the Republicans are going to do everything they can to tear this apart, to make it unworkable, the big interesting question will be, will our folks sign up knowing that there is this cloud hanging over it,” said Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza.

    Still, Democrats battered by election losses two weeks ago welcomed Obama’s steps.

    “The last two weeks haven’t been great weeks for us,” said Rep. Joe Crowley of New York, one of 18 congressional Democrats who had dinner Wednesday night with Obama. “The president is about to change that.”

    Associated Press writers Julie Pace, Donna Cassata and Alicia A. Caldwell contributed to this report.

    The post What are the limits of Obama’s immigration action? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    San Diego approved of a plan to purify sewage water for reuse. Photo by Flickr user Jase Curtis

    What’s there to do when your city is in the midst of an ongoing drought and the price tag on imported water continues to spike? Recycle your sewage water, that’s what.

    On Tuesday, the San Diego City Council approved plans to turn sewage water into drinking water through a heavy-duty purification process.

    “We can no longer afford to use water just once in this region,” Councilwoman Marti Emerald said.

    The city is pouring $1 million into efforts to educate the public on why drinking purified wastewater isn’t harmful — what critics call “toilet-to-tap.”

    The process involves sending sewage water through an intense filtration system to ultimately kill any and all contaminants. The “Pure Water” project mirrors a plan that was raised in Orange County, California, and San Diego back in 2008.

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    Students at A Miami Dade College event announcing 22 scholarships for undocumented students through TheDream.US. Photo by Cristian Lazzari\Miami Dade College Media Relations.

    Students at A Miami Dade College event announcing 22 scholarships for undocumented students through TheDream.US. Photo by Cristian Lazzari\Miami Dade College Media Relations.

    The day after President Barack Obama unveils his plans for new changes to enforcement of the country’s immigration laws, he’ll make his case for the changes at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas. Talking about what is on its face an immigration and work permit program at a school is no coincidence.

    Obama’s 2012 immigration order created a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It temporarily halted deportations and offered two-year, renewable work permits to people 30 and under who entered the U.S. illegally before turning 16. The Migration Policy Institute estimates about 1.2 million people were eligible when the program began and more than 580,000 have had their applications for the program approved as of last month. A nationwide survey released earlier this year found 70 percent of DACA recipients started a new job, more than half reported being more financially independent.

    In Miami, Yesmyn Alcarazo applied for DACA as soon as he could. Then 21, he had been helping in the office of his father’s mechanic shop since graduating from high school but a new job wasn’t what he had in mind.

    The same survey of DACA recipients found that 23 percent, like Alcarazo, have used their new status to go back to school.

    Alcarazo moved to Miami from Peru with his family in 2002. It wasn’t until Alcarazo started filling out college applications seven years later that his parents explained they were living in the country illegally.

    At first he just felt surprised. “After that, frustration,” Alcarazo said, “because all of your friends are planning to go to college. I was actually making the plans, I didn’t find out until the very end. I had sent applications and everything and then I found out.”

    But he didn’t give up on the idea of going to college.

    “I did the research,” he said, “but I would have qualified as out-of-state and it’s really expensive. I couldn’t burden my parents.”

    Now 23, Alcarazo is a year into getting an associate’s degree at Miami Dade Community College. The campus was one of two in Florida to start offering in-state tuition to DACA recipients last year.

    Students with DACA are not eligible for federal financial aid but with a scholarship from TheDream.us, a group that supports undocumented college students, Alcarazo can take classes full-time. Without the funding he said he would likely follow a pattern common among undocumented students.

    “We’re a working family, we’re not rich and school isn’t exactly the cheapest thing,” he said. “I would probably do one semester on and one semester off to work.”

    A survey by the National UnDACAmented Research Project found about 43 percent of DACA recipients pursuing a college degree “stopped out” from their studies at least once to spend time working to support family or save money for school.

    “What was reported very often [by DACA recipients] was because they could now legally work it made it more possible for students to afford college,” said Margie McHugh, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. “And to feel they could do something like take on an additional class.”

    This summer Florida became the 17th state to pass a law granting in-state tuition waivers to students who are undocumented or part of the DACA program if they meet certain criteria, like graduating from a high school in the state that they attended for at minimum number of years.

    Higher education boards or campus officials in eight more states have adopted policies granting in-state tuition to undocumented students at some or all of their public colleges and universities.

    The combination of in-state tuition and the opportunity to work legally helped helped Maria Banderas, who came to the U.S. with her parents when she was 4 or 5, put her skepticism about applying for DACA aside.

    “It is just an executive order, not a law, it’s just something that can be changed when the next president comes in,” the 20-year-old biology major said over the phone from the Hispanic Center for Academic Excellence at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. “Another thing that made me skeptical was the fact that the government would have all of my information.”

    She said her parents urged her to take the risk and she spent her first year with work authorization juggling two jobs, one a full-time as a customer service representative for AT&T and a part-time position bussing tables at a restaurant.

    “I always knew I wanted to go to college,” Banderas said. “I was never sure it would be a possibility, but it was something that I was always going to try to get to do. I feel like with DACA and in-state tuition here, that really helped me a lot.”

    Between the 2004-05 school year and 2012-13 the number of students applying for an in-state tuition waiver at Utah’s public colleges and universities rose to 929 from 149, according to the system’s communications department.

    Jonathan Puente, director of the Hispanic Center at SUU said he talks to students like Banderas all the time.

    “They have to pay everything out of pocket, which is a huge roadblock,” he said. “We help them find private scholarships but we have lots of students who want to come to college but don’t have the money.”

    Six states make state-funded financial aid or privately funded scholarships available to undocumented students. In 2013, California’s first year of offering financial aid, nearly 20,700 people completed the state’s Dream Act application and 6,943 received a CalGrant award, which covers tuition or additional school expenses for low-income students. This year the number of applications rose to 26,676. Out of those, 8,282 received CalGrants and 6,400 got one of the state’s new middle class scholarships, according to the state’s Student Aid Commission.

    DACA hasn’t only sent people into the country’s higher education system.

    At Seattle Education Access, Jeff Corey, the group’s program manager, said they’re seeing an increase in undocumented people entering programs to complete high school diplomas or a GED and transition into college. DACA applicants must have either credential to qualify.

    “Three years ago we worked with undocumented students and had to be really careful advising them about which programs to go into,” Corey said. “We told people right off the bat that they cannot go into healthcare because of the background checks it usually requires. Now, people can to go into new growing fields like IT and healthcare where we’re seeing lots of job openings.”

    But Margie McHugh of the Migration Policy Institute said whether people can access programs like Corey’s varies from state to state.

    “We wish there was more evidence of systematic activities to support these youth,” Margie McHugh of the Migration Policy Institute said. “Are we comfortable as a nation that one’s ability to benefit from this federal immigration program is greatly impacted by your state of residence? If you are a DACA eligible youth in Georgia, there is a set of state policies that make it extremely difficult to access majority of adult ed programs.”

    Groups like Floridians for Immigration Enforcement would like to see more states limiting undocumented students’ access to public higher education.

    “In-state tuition for illegals is in fact an amnesty disguised as an educational initiative,” the group argues on its website. “College entrants slots are fixed and limited. In-state tuition for illegal aliens places U.S. citizens in direct competition with adult illegal aliens for limited slots and tuition benefits.”

    Republicans in Congress have already promised to respond forcefully in the new year to the expansion of deportation deferrals Obama will outline tonight, which many expect to cover as many as 5 million more undocumented immigrants.

    That opposition keeps Utah student Maria Banderas on edge.

    “I’m still a little bit worried,” she said, “because it still only temporary. But it does feel like there is some hope, whereas before DACA I felt like nothing was going to be done about it.”

    Extending that hope to more people with new, legal access to work could make more take the bet that Banderas has, that investing in an education while she can will pay off in the future.

    Related: Growing up undocumented, students find hope in DACA

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

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    Video still by PBS NewsHour

    Video still by PBS NewsHour

    WASHINGTON — Dissenters within the National Security Agency, led by a senior agency executive, warned in 2009 that the program to secretly collect American phone records wasn’t providing enough intelligence to justify the backlash it would cause if revealed, current and former intelligence officials say.

    The NSA took the concerns seriously, and many senior officials shared them. But after an internal debate that has not been previously reported, NSA leaders, White House officials and key lawmakers opted to continue the collection and storage of American calling records, a domestic surveillance program without parallel in the agency’s recent history.

    The warnings proved prophetic last year after the calling records program was made public in the first and most significant leak by Edward Snowden, a former NSA systems administrator who cited the government’s deception about the program as one of his chief motivations for turning over classified documents to journalists. Many Americans were shocked and dismayed to learn that an intelligence agency collects and stores all their landline calling records.

    In response, President Barack Obama is now trying to stop the NSA collection but preserve the agency’s ability to search the records in the hands of the telephone companies — an arrangement similar to the one the administration quietly rejected in 2009. But his plan, drawing opposition from most Republicans, fell two votes short of advancing in the Senate on Tuesday.

    A now-retired NSA senior executive, who was a longtime code-breaker who rose to top management, had just learned in 2009 about the top secret program that was created shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He says he argued to then-NSA Director Keith Alexander that storing the calling records of nearly every American fundamentally changed the character of the agency, which is supposed to eavesdrop on foreigners, not Americans.

    Alexander politely disagreed, the former official told The Associated Press.

    The former official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because he didn’t have permission to discuss a classified matter, said he knows of no evidence the program was used for anything other than hunting for terrorism plots in the U.S. But he said he and others made the case that the collection of American records in bulk crossed a line that had been sacrosanct.

    He said he also warned of a scandal if it should be disclosed that the NSA was storing records of private calls by Americans — to psychiatrists, lovers and suicide hotlines, among other contacts.

    Alexander, who led the NSA from 2005 until he retired last year, did not dispute the former official’s account, though he said he disagreed that the program was improper.

    “An individual did bring us these questions, and he had some great points,” Alexander told the AP. “I asked the technical folks, including him, to look at it.”

    By 2009, several former officials said, concern about the “215 program,” so-called for the authorizing provision of the USA Patriot Act, had grown inside NSA’s Fort Meade, Maryland, headquarters to the point that the program’s intelligence value was being questioned. That was partly true because, for technical and other reasons, the NSA was not capturing most mobile calling records, which were an increasing share of the domestic calling universe, the former officials said.

    The dissent prompted NSA leaders to examine whether the agency could stop gathering and storing domestic landline calling records and instead access the records as needed from the telephone companies, Alexander said. The NSA consulted with the Justice Department, Congress and the White House, newly occupied by President Barack Obama.

    But the government ultimately decided against changing what most officials still view as a necessary bulwark against domestic terror plots, Alexander and other former officials said. The program collects and stores so-called metadata on every landline phone call made in America — the phone number called from, the phone number called and the duration of the call. Some estimates have estimated the program collects records on up to 3 billion calls a day.

    In 2006, the program came under the supervision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The agency, which continues to obtain the records from telephone companies under a court order, says it searches them only for connections to phone numbers suspected of association with overseas terror groups.

    Under a process known as “contact chaining,” analysts examine the numbers that had been in contact with the “dirty number” and then the numbers in contact with those. Sometimes the circle is expanded to a “third hop” — a process that could include analysis of millions of American phone calls. Only 30 intelligence employees are permitted to access the database, officials have said, and it is done about 300 times a year.

    Current and former intelligence officials disagree about whether the phone record searching has been important in stopping terror attacks. The U.S. has been able to point to a single terrorism case that came to light exclusively through a domestic phone records match — that of a San Diego cab driver who was sentenced earlier this year to six years in prison for sending money to Somalia’s al-Qaida affiliate.

    To address their concerns, the former senior official and other NSA dissenters in 2009 came up with a plan that tracks closely with the Obama proposal that the Senate failed to pass Tuesday. The officials wanted the NSA to stop collecting the records, and instead fashion a system for the agency to quickly send queries to the telephone companies as needed, letting the companies store the records as they are required to do under telecommunications rules.

    In a departure from the bill that failed Tuesday, however, they wanted to require the companies to provide the metadata in a standardized manner, to allow speedy processing and analysis in cases of an imminent terror plot. The lack of such a provision was among the reasons many Republicans and former intelligence officials said they opposed the 2014 legislation.

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    Image by NASA/NSBRI

    Image by NASA/NSBRI

    On Earth, human bodies share many similarities, yet also possess many differences, including factors influenced by both sex and gender. However, what happens to those factors when you put the human body in space?

    A study assembled by NASA, in partnership with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, compiled years of published and unpublished human spaceflight data in order to examine the physiological and psychological changes during spaceflight between sexes and genders. The data was given to six workgroups, who focused on “cardiovascular, immunological, sensorimotor, musculoskeletal, reproductive and behavioral implications on spaceflight adaptation for men and women.”

    The compendium of the groups’ research, “Impact of Sex and Gender on Adaptation to Space”, was published in the Journal of Women’s Health this month. The result, NASA says, is the “most current, comprehensive report on sex and gender differences related to human physiology and psychology in spaceflight and on Earth.”

    The groups found no direct evidence of differences between the sexes when examining behavioral or psychological responses during spaceflight, as well as no differences of “neurobehavioral performance and sleep measures.” Yet, the groups did find several physiological differences.

    In their research, however, the groups made note that it was difficult to come to a concrete conclusion on sex and gender data alone due to the disparity between available data for spacefaring men and women. As of June 2013, 477 men have made it to space as opposed to 57 women, prompting the groups to recommend the selection of more female astronauts for space-based missions.

    NASA summarized the study’s findings on their website:

    The Sex & Gender work groups released five recommendations:

    • Select more female astronauts for spaceflight missions.
    • Encourage and facilitate the participation of more female and male subjects in both ground and flight research studies.
    • Focus on the responses of individual astronauts to spaceflight and return to Earth.
    • Include sex and gender factors in the design of the experiments.
    • Incorporate sex and gender and other individual risk factors into NASA-funded research programs.

    A summary of the Sex & Gender work groups’ major findings is listed below:

    • Orthostatic Intolerance, or the inability to stand without fainting for protracted periods, is more prevalent upon landing in female astronauts than in their male counterparts. One possible reason for this observed difference in orthostatic intolerance between the sexes is reduced leg vascular compliance, which was demonstrated in bed-rest studies – which is a ground analog for spaceflight.
    • Women have greater loss of blood plasma volume than men during spaceflight, and women’s stress response characteristically includes a heart rate increase while men respond with an increase in vascular resistance. Still, these Earth observations require further study in space.
    • The VIIP syndrome (visual impairment / intracranial pressure) manifests with anatomical ocular changes, ranging from mild to clinically significant, with a range of corresponding changes in visual function. Currently 82% of male astronauts vs. 62% of women astronauts (who have flown in space) are affected. However, all clinically significant cases so far have occurred in male astronauts.
    • Changes in function and concentration of key constituents of the immune system related to spaceflight have been reported. However, differences between male and female immune responses have not been observed in space. On the ground, women mount a more potent immune response than men, which makes them more resistant to viral and bacterial infections; once infected, women mount an even more potent response. This response, however, makes women more susceptible to autoimmune diseases. It is not clear if these changes on the ground will occur during longer space missions, or missions that involve planetary exploration (exposure to gravity).
    • Radiation presents a major hazard for space travel. It has been reported that female subjects are more susceptible to radiation-induced cancer than their male counterparts; hence radiation permissible exposure levels are lower for women than men astronauts.
    • Upon transition to microgravity after arriving at the International Space Station (ISS), female astronauts reported a slightly higher incidence of space motion sickness (SMS) compared with men. Conversely, more men experience motion-sickness symptoms upon return to Earth. These data were however not statistically significant, due both to the relatively small sample sizes and small differences in the incidence of SMS reported by the men and women astronauts.
    • Hearing sensitivity, when measured at several frequencies, declines with age much more rapidly in male astronauts than it does in female astronauts. No evidence suggests that the sex-based hearing differences in the astronaut population are related to microgravity exposure.
    • The human musculoskeletal response to gravity unloading is highly variable among individuals and a sex-based difference was not observed.
    • Urinary tract infections in space are more common in women and have been successfully treated with antibiotics.
    • There is no evidence of sex differences in terms of behavioral or psychological responses to spaceflight. Analysis of ISS astronauts’ neurobehavioral performance and sleep measures showed no sex or gender differences using the Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT) of alertness and Visual Analog Scales of workload, stress and sleep quality. Since all all astronaut candidates undergo a robust process of psychological screening and selection, the likelihood of an adverse behavioral health condition or psychiatric disorder is greatly diminished.

    The post How does space affect men and women differently? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Final rule for being happier at work: Laugh more. Photo by Flickr user Glen Wright

    Final rule for being happier at work: Laugh more. Photo by Flickr user Glen Wright

    This story was originally published on Next Avenue.

    A story caught my attention on the NBC Nightly News last night. It was about Clockwork Active Media, a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based digital strategy agency and its 75 employees say they love, love, love to work.

    Clockwork staffers can come in and leave any time and their vacation time is unlimited as long as they get their work done. Ice-cold beer is always on tap and the employees can bring in their kids whenever they want. “WE LOVE MONDAYS,” is emblazoned across the company’s home page and “it’s true,” says CEO Nancy Lyons.

    Great for them. Most employees, however, aren’t so lucky. Just four in 10 are highly engaged, according to the Towers Watson 2014 Global Workforce Study. Little wonder that Americans are quitting their jobs at the fastest pace since early 2008, according to a U.S. Labor Department survey released last week.

    But I believe there are a few ways you can fall in love with your job even if you don’t like it right now. (In fact, I’ve written a book coming out in March 2015 to inspire you: “Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness.”)

    When I hear people whining about their jobs or their boss I want to shout: suck it up! Do something about it. Stop being a victim. If you can make it work where you are right now, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.

    In this sneak preview of my upcoming book, here are 10 ways to do it:

    1. Focus on what you like about your work and ramp it up. This will give you the strength to tackle the tough parts. Consider things like your coworkers, your (perhaps only occasionally) stimulating assignments, opportunities for learning, the respect you engender and the perks — whether that’s cold beer or a 401(k).

    2. Make a change — even a small one. Boredom is often at the root of unhappiness at work. So take a single step toward modifying what’s getting you down. Challenge yourself to look for one area that would give you more joy at work and then make it happen. If you persistently add worth to what you bring to the job, chances are your boss will notice and reward you for it.

    One way to do this: sign up for continuing education or professional development programs offered by your employer. When you acquire knowledge, you notice the world around you. Your mind turns on.

    As author Bruce Rosenstein writes in “Create Your Future The Peter Drucker Way,” it’s your responsibility to “remain relevant” in your work. Rosenstein told me: “Drucker [a management guru] believed that education never ended for a successful knowledge worker.”

    3. Declutter your office. When people feel low on energy, often it’s because they’re not clearing out as they go. Their inbox is overflowing. Their desk is a disaster. Their file drawers are jammed.

    Decluttering is liberating and empowering. Says career coach Beverly Jones: “You are saying, ‘This is valuable, this is not.’ It’s a physical, practical way to engage in making decisions about your life and what you want to do with it.” Getting rid of stuff brings a new perspective, she adds.

    4. Find a positive image to inspire you and help you cope with a job. I call mine “going to my happy place.” I close my eyes and visualize a green field in the Virginia countryside with a sweeping view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I go there in my head and sit. It calms me down, I feel peaceful and my attitude shifts.

    If you want a more concrete focal point, tape a picture of a special image on your office wall, away from your computer and phone. That way, you’ll have to turn to look directly at it, which can be transporting. The very action of directing your attention away from your work opens up the door in your day for a respite, a restart, and a new view. It’s reviving and centering at the same time.

    5. Volunteer — either through work or on the side. Helping out at a nonprofit gets you out of your own head and that swamp of negativity and lets you gain perspective on others’ needs. When the volunteer effort is initiated by your employer, it builds relationships with co-workers (and perhaps your boss), as you work side-by-side to make a difference.

    Check with your HR department or supervisor to learn about volunteer projects that may already be in place and how you can get involved.

    6. Get up to speed on your field. If you become complacent about trends, you’ll get left behind. Then, when new and interesting opportunities do arise at work, you might not be nimble enough to grab them.

    Make a practice of reading trade publications. And set up a Google Alert to notify you about the latest news in your industry. Being in the know can inspire you to think of projects you might be able to nominate yourself for at work or start on your own.

    7. Raise your hand and ask for new duties. Dissect your current position to pinpoint a new responsibility you can add that will refresh your focus and maybe even scare you a bit. Keep your ear to the ground to get the scoop on positions opening up or emerging projects — even if they’re short-term. Then throw your name into the hat.

    Say “yes” to new assignments. If you’re worried you’re not up to the task, accept the invitation gracefully and with confidence and then get moving to figure out how to do it. The adrenaline will charge you up and when you succeed, the rewards will be internal and external.

    8. Explore finding joy around the edges. For example, if you have a musical bent, form a band with a group of coworkers to play music or start an a cappella group. Maybe you can arrange to play gigs gratis at local assisted living and nursing homes or hospices.

    As Richard Harris wrote on Next Avenue, The National Institutes of Health, for example, has the N.I.H. orchestra, drawing on the musical talents of its staff around Bethesda, Maryland, Marsh & McLennan Companies, a global professional services firm, has an employee choir: The MMC Chorale.

    Alternatively, if your interests are more physical, join or organize a company team sport — say, softball, kickball or bowling. Or create a walking, biking or running group with co-workers.

    9. Look into telecommuting. When it comes to what makes people love their jobs, this is a biggie. Telecommuting employees are happier, more loyal and have fewer unscheduled absences, according to a survey by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

    Working from home without a boss hovering over you also gives you more flexibility to get your job done when you want and how you want. In my own research and interviews with hundreds of workers, I’ve discovered that more flexibility in scheduling day-to-day activities leads to greater happiness on the job. And this is especially true as you get older.

    10. Finally, laugh more. A recent Gallup poll found that people who smile and laugh at work are more engaged in their jobs. And the more engaged you are, the happier and more enthusiastic you’ll be. This won’t just trickle down to the quality of your work; people will want to have you on their team. Plus: couldn’t we all use a laugh?


    Why You Need to Love Your Job More

    In a Rut? 4 Ways to Get Unstuck

    Is Your Job Meaningful?

    Kerry Hannon has spent more than 25 years covering personal finance for Forbes, Money, U.S. News & World Report and USA Today. She is the author of “What’s Next? Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job in Your Forties, Fifties and Beyond“; “Great Jobs for Everyone 50+” and Suddenly Single: Money Skills for Divorcees and Widows. Her website is kerryhannon.com. Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon.

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    In this file photo, children as young as 12 mine for gold in the Philippines. Globally, 168 million children are still engaged in some form of child labor. Photo by Larry C. Price/Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

    In this file photo, children as young as 12 mine for gold in the Philippines. Globally, 168 million children are still engaged in some form of child labor. Photo by Larry C. Price/Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

    Thursday marks the 25th anniversary of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The treaty outlines international standards for children’s rights in areas ranging from health to education to child labor and marriage laws. One hundred and ninety UN countries have ratified the treaty. Only three have not- Somalia, South Sudan and the United States.

    In spite of the overwhelming support for the treaty, some of the numbers concerning the implementation of the standards outlined in the CRC are startling. According to the WORLD Policy Analysis Center’s online resource bank on the treaty, nearly a quarter of the countries that ratified the CRC still charge tuition fees for secondary education, and globally 69 million children are not enrolled in secondary school. Only 19 percent of the countries that ratified the CRC protect disabled children’s right to education. Just 49 percent of the nations that ratified the CRC prohibit child marriage with parental consent. Child labor is a practice that still affects 168 million children worldwide, and many countries do not legally protect children from working.

    Where has the most progress been made in terms of protecting children’s rights, and what areas are most in need of improvement? How have obstacles to ensuring children’s rights changed in the last 25 years, and what are the most effective ways of protecting children’s rights today? We took the discussion to Twitter. Dr. Jody Heymann (@WPolicyForum), Dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and founding director of the WORLD Policy Analysis Center, shared her insights, along with several of the center’s analysts. Read a transcript of the conversation below.

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    WASHINGTON — After years of wrangling with Congress over how to fix the country’s immigration system, President Barack Obama is ready to announce his plan to take action alone.

    Just how far does he go? Who’s going to be covered? How do Republicans manage their anger?

    A guide to what to watch for Thursday night:


    There are an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally, and most of them aren’t going to be covered by Obama’s executive action. The big question is which subsets of immigrants will and won’t be shielded from deportation by the president’s plan — in essence, who wins and who loses?

    Up to 5 million people are expected to be covered by the president’s plan, including parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for five years. Obama also is expected to loosen eligibility rules for a 2012 program that already protects some young immigrants from deportation. Among the likely losers: Parents of those participating in the young immigrants’ program. They were under consideration, but didn’t make the final cut.


    For more than a year, Obama has been prodding Congress to fix the “broken” immigration system, saying his own authority to act was limited by the Constitution.

    Republicans are circulating 22 examples of Obama stressing the limits of his authority. Among them, this quotation from February of 2013: “I’m not the emperor of the United States.”

    Now, Obama has to do a rhetorical about-face and provide justification for acting alone.

    Look for him to point to the actions of past presidents: The White House says Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and both Bushes all took unilateral action to make immigration changes by relying on their executive authority.


    For many Americans, their interest in the president’s immigration plan will be limited to a broad-brush idea of how many people are covered. But for millions of immigrants, the smallest details of the plan could well be life-altering.

    Immigration advocates and lawyers say their offices already are being flooded with calls from people wondering how they will be affected. Exactly who will get added to the young immigrants’ program? Will immigrant spouses of U.S. citizens be covered? What about protection for farm workers? The minutiae of definitions, deadlines and cut-off dates will be hugely important.

    For example, the president will lay out a new ranking of priorities for who gets deported, lowering the likelihood of deportation for parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents who have been in the U.S. for less than five years, and for other immigrants who have been here illegally for more than 10 years.


    It’s a given that most Republicans in Congress aren’t going to be happy with the president’s plan, casting it as a case of presidential over-reach and arrogance. But they have vastly different ideas on how best to express their anger.

    If their reaction is over the top, that could raise questions about the Republicans’ ability to govern just as they are taking control of the Senate and expanding their majority in the House. It also could alienate Hispanics, who represent a large and growing voting bloc.

    Some Republicans have raised the prospect of the immigration dispute resulting in another government shutdown and there even have been mentions of impeachment, but GOP leaders insist it won’t come to that. Others are talking about legal action.


    The White House scheduled a rare prime-time presidential address to lay out the president’s plan, hoping to explain directly to the American people both the need for action and the reasons Obama chose to go it alone.

    But who will tune in? Univision is delaying the start of the Latin Grammy Awards to carry the president’s brief speech live at 8 p.m. EST. But ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox networks won’t be airing the address. Obama will be competing with the likes of “Grey’s Anatomy,” ”The Big Bang Theory,” ”The Biggest Loser” and “Bones.” CNN, Fox News and MSNBC will carry the president’s speech live.

    The post Five things to watch in Obama’s immigration speech appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    In an address to the nation tonight, President Barack Obama laid out his strategy for immigration action. The president’s plan includes providing border law enforcement with additional resources to “stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over,” make it easier for “high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy,” and allow immigrants who have stayed in the U.S. for more than five years, those whose children are legal citizens or residents, to apply to stay in this country temporarily “without fear of deportation” after registering and passing a criminal background check.

    The president reminded that these actions “are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every single Democratic President for the past half century.”

    Members of the Republican and Democratic parties responded to the president’s actions:

    Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):

    “The President’s unilateral action announced today fails to address the root causes of the dysfunction in our immigration system … I believe that we Republicans must remain committed to advancing the broad, common-sense conservative agenda we share, and prove to the American people we can legislate solutions and govern effectively.”

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi:

    “The President’s actions fall well within the clear constitutional and legal authority of his office, and the well-established precedent set by every president since Eisenhower. Even Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush used this authority to refine our immigration system in service of the national interest.”

    House Speaker John Boehner:

    “[Obama’s] ‘my way or the highway’ approach makes it harder to build the trust with the American people that is necessary to get things done on behalf of the country. Republicans are left with the serious responsibility of upholding our oath of office. We will not shrink from this duty, because our allegiance lies with the American people.”

    Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA):

    “In June 2013, I was proud to cast my vote in support of bipartisan legislation that would take major steps to fix our broken immigration system. After nearly a year and a half of inaction from the House, I support President Obama’s decision to take action within his executive authority to address some of the problems our bipartisan Senate bill set out to fix – including much-needed improvements to border security, updates to our visa system and additional relief for families who live in the shadows but want to play by the rules by paying taxes and submitting to criminal background checks.”

    Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV):

    “Today’s immigration announcement is great news for families in Nevada and across the country. Millions of families in our nation and thousands in Nevada will no longer have to live in fear of losing a loved one to deportation. The President’s executive action will not only keep families together, it will enforce our immigration laws in a way that protects our national security and public safety. It will strengthen our economy by creating new jobs and allowing these families to fully contribute to the only country they call home.”

    Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO):

    “For too long, Colorado’s immigrant families have waited for the U.S. House of Representatives to follow the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan example and act on immigration reform. For months, the House refused to act — while millions of families were torn apart. I am proud the president has finally heeded my calls and acted.”

    The post Members respond to Obama’s immigration action appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Immigration reform activists in front of the White House march and chant following President Barack Obama's speech on his executive action on immigration policies on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

    Immigration reform activists in front of the White House march and chant following President Barack Obama’s speech on his executive action on immigration policies on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s sweeping immigration executive orders cap a turbulent, six-year quest to make headway on a thorny issue that has at times put the White House at odds with some of its fiercest supporters.

    To those who argue the actions are long overdue or don’t go far enough, Obama pins the blame solely on Republicans who oppose broader legislation. But Obama himself has contributed to the delays, making political calculations that left legislative efforts languishing throughout his first term and paused the promise of executive action in his second.

    In recent months, the protracted process has been aimed in part at finding more favorable political terrain to unveil measures that spare as many as 5 million people in the U.S. illegally from deportation. However, Obama’s decision to ultimately wait until after the midterm elections to exert his presidential powers has only heightened the anger from victorious Republicans, who have suggested responding with everything from lawsuits to impeachment.

    “The action he’s proposed would ignore the law, would reject the voice of the voters and would impose new unfairness on law-abiding immigrants — all without solving the problem,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who is soon to become Senate majority leader.

    Obama announced the executive actions Thursday after a fitful year of stops and starts. While the measures were widely welcomed by advocates, many said they had come far too late.

    “It has been painful to see that it has taken so long because the politics get in the way all the time,” said Ben Monterroso, the executive director of the advocacy group Mi Familia Vota.

    As a presidential candidate, Obama told supporters he would “guarantee” an immigration bill within his first year in office. Yet his entire first term slipped by without a real effort to seek legislation.

    The president’s advisers say the economic collapse forced Obama to shift his priorities and spend much of his first year seeking to stem massive job losses. Still, the president pursued health care legislation before losing the Democratic control of Congress that would have given him his best opportunity to pass an immigration bill.

    Immigration advocates quickly turned their attention to pressing Obama to halt deportations on his own — an authority he insisted he did not have.

    “With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed,” Obama said in 2011.

    Despite that assertion, Obama moved in 2012 to defer deportations for some young people who had been brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The action was viewed cynically by Republicans, who saw it as a ploy to bolster election-year support among Hispanics, the nation’s fastest-growing voting bloc.

    Obama ultimately carried more than 70 percent of the Hispanic vote in his resounding re-election win. In the days after his victory, he reached out to Hispanic activists and other supporters to assure them that he planned to make immigration reform his first piece of major legislation.

    Anxious over their party’s paltry support among Hispanics, some Republican leaders appeared ready to move on legislation too. A handful of GOP senators began working with their Democratic counterparts on a comprehensive bill that included a pathway to citizenship and enhanced border security.

    But within weeks of the election, the White House’s legislative strategy was upended by the horrific shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Appalled by the deaths of 20 children, Obama thrust gun-control measures to the forefront of his legislative agenda. Despite the outrage over Newtown, a pared-down measure eventually failed in the Senate after three months of wrangling.

    Obama announced the executive actions Thursday after a fitful year of stops and starts. While the measures were widely welcomed by advocates, many said they had come far too late. That brief delay in pursuing immigration legislation allowed conservative Republicans who opposed a broad bill to regain strength. While the Democratic-controlled Senate passed wide-ranging legislation in June, the GOP-led House repeatedly refused to take it up.

    Again, advocates pressed the president to act on his own. But Obama appealed to them for more time, insisting there was still a window to pursue legislation.

    It was June before the president acknowledged publicly that the prospect for legislative action was stalled and he would instead pursue executive actions before the end of the summer. But the joy and relief among immigration activists would be short lived.

    Less than three months later, the president announced he was delaying unilateral measures until after the midterm elections. The move came in response to requests from nervous Democrats who feared the controversial actions could upend their chances of keeping control of the Senate.

    Immigration advocates were furious. And the politically motivated move did nothing to help Democrats keep their Senate seats.

    In January, Republicans will assume control of the chamber for the first time in Obama’s presidency. They vow to launch an all-out fight to stop him from following through on executive actions that were six years in the making.

    The post Why it took 6 years for Obama to act on immigration appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. President Barack Obama announced executive actions on U.S. immigration policy during a nationally televised address from the White House in Washington, Nov. 20, 2014. Obama outlined a plan on Thursday to ease the threat of deportation for about 4.7 million undocumented immigrants. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

    U.S. President Barack Obama announced executive actions on U.S. immigration policy during a nationally televised address from the White House in Washington, Nov. 20, 2014. Obama outlined a plan on Thursday to ease the threat of deportation for about 4.7 million undocumented immigrants. Photo by Jim Bourg/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s announcement of sweeping changes to the nation’s immigration system is likely to lead to a battle over their legality. Is he on solid legal ground?

    For months, the White House and Obama’s supporters have insisted that he has the authority to direct immigration authorities to exercise discretion in deciding which immigrants in the country illegally will face deportation and which won’t.

    “The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican president and every Democratic president for the past half century,” Obama said Thursday night.

    But Republicans in Congress disagree with the White House view. They’re calling Obama’s plan an unconstitutional power grab.

    “The president seems intent on provoking a constitutional crisis by adopting policies that he previously said were illegal,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said.

    Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Congress will act to stop the president’s executive actions when his party takes control of the Senate in January.

    Among those being protected from deportation under Obama’s plan are the parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, roughly 4.1 million people.

    A senior administration official said Thursday that the decision to protect this group is in line with existing law that allows adult citizens to sponsor their parents for immigration. Obama’s plan goes a step further because the sponsoring citizen doesn’t have to be an adult. And in such cases, the protection from deportation would be temporary — 3 years. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to be identified by name.

    A year after Ronald Reagan and Congress enacted an overhaul that gave legal status to up to 3 million immigrants who had no authorization to be in the country in 1986, Reagan’s Immigration and Naturalization Service expanded the program to cover minor children of parents granted amnesty. Spouses and children of couples in which one parent qualified for amnesty but the other did not remained subject to deportation, leading to efforts to amend the 1986 law.

    President George H.W. Bush in 1990 established a “family fairness” program in which family members who were living with a legalizing immigrant and who had been in the U.S. before passage of the 1986 law were granted protection from deportation and authorized to seek employment. The administration estimated that up to 1.5 million people would be covered by the policy. Congress later made the protections permanent.

    At issue is how far Obama can go on his own to shield from deportation immigrants who are in the country illegally. The administration and its supporters have argued that the use of prosecutorial discretion — the ability to decide which cases will be pursued by prosecutors, either in immigration or criminal court — allows the president to decide which groups of immigrants should be a priority. Obama has argued that he can go one step further and use a provision in immigration law called “deferred action” to formally protect particular immigrants from deportation.

    Immigrants granted deferred action are also eligible for work permits.

    What the president can’t do is halt all deportations, or permanently change the immigration status of any specific group of immigrants. Only Congress has that power. What the president can’t do is halt all deportations, or permanently change the immigration status of any specific group of immigrants. Only Congress has that power.

    While Obama’s proposals have been cleared by lawyers from both the Homeland Security and Justice departments, some of the Republican governors meeting in Florida this week said they were weighing a lawsuit to block the president’s action.

    Outgoing Texas Gov. Rick Perry said a lawsuit was “very likely,” and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal suggested they’d be willing to join the legal challenge.

    “It should be immediately challenged in court and we should seek an immediate stay,” Pence said in an interview.

    It’s unclear how such a challenge would fare. A lawsuit challenging the 2012 program that protects many young immigrants from deportation was filed in federal court in Texas, but was dismissed on technical grounds.

    Associated Press writer Steve Peoples in Boca Raton, Florida, contributed to this report.

    The post Does Obama have authority for his immigration orders? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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  • 11/21/14--07:24: Senior Director, Foundations
  • NewsHour Productions, LLC is looking for a frontline fundraiser to secure restricted and unrestricted funds from foundations, government agencies and corporate philanthropic giving programs to support PBS NewsHour and ensure its continued economic viability. The Senior Director of Foundations will develop and implement strategies and secure funding for PBS NewsHour; and cultivate and maintain relationships with representatives of foundations, government agencies and corporate philanthropic giving programs. Must have demonstrated track record of success in securing six and seven-figure grants; college degree or equivalent combination of education and experience; minimum ten years of progressively responsible experience in national foundation and federal government fundraising and stewardship.


    For consideration, please send letter of interest, salary requirements, and resume to hr@weta.org or visit our website at www.weta.org for the full job description and on-line application.


    WETA is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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    President Barack Obama speaks onscreen during the Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    President Barack Obama speaks onscreen during the Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas. Today, Mr. Obama sets off on a sales mission on his executive action on immigration. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    I’ve spent so many years talking about lame ducks in the White House and Congress, and it’s never occurred to me to find out what the heck it means.

    It turns out it’s an old English hunting term — something about firing at a duck without quite killing it. In any case, the hobbled duck limps on, at a distinct disadvantage.

    In political parlance, this applies to legislatures approaching the end of their terms and presidents grasping at their final shot at a positive legacy.

    The defining theme is powerlessness. It’s the end of the road, the end of the year. It’s time to move on to something fresh and new.

    But sometimes the ducks won’t comply.

    In the scant few weeks since the midterm elections vaulted Republicans into power and humbled Democrats, it’s been interesting to watch lawmakers lean into, not away from, fights.

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi picked one with CBS News reporter Nancy Cordes, who asked a pretty straightforward question at a news conference about whether Pelosi had considered stepping down after the Democrats’ midterm defeat.

    Pelosi immediately launched into tongue lashing, accusing the Capitol Hill press corps of sexism and ageism — although the reporter’s question did not mention her age nor sex.

    On the Republican side, House Speaker John Boehner popped up periodically in front of Capitol Hill microphones to fiercely vow that he would fight the president “tooth and nail” on executive action.

    In the Senate, Minority (soon to be Majority) Leader Mitch McConnell aggressively turned aside efforts to scale back NSA bulk data collection, while Democrats blocked an effort to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

    Make no mistake about it; there is a message behind all this assertiveness. Everybody is keeping one eye on those midterm election results.

    “If we don’t get 60 votes on Tuesday, in the new Congress we will have 60 votes, “ North Dakota Republican Senator John Hoeven said just before the Keystone vote failed. “And if you just go through the election results, not only did the American people speak, but when you look at the candidates, we have 60 votes for the bill.”

    But probably the most muscular pushback has come from the White House, where the president bristles at questions about legacy, apparently because he feels he is not done yet.

    So in China, a climate deal is cut. In Washington, an attorney general is nominated. In Vienna, the Iran nuclear talks continue apace. In Las Vegas, the president will stand with soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to talk about taking executive action on immigration.

    In every case, opponents object strenuously. Actual policy debates break out. News is committed.

    Everyone at least behaves as if they are paying attention to the voters’ unhappiness with lawmakers who spend too much time dueling to a gridlocked standstill.

    This explains why both sides say they only have the American public at heart. Even when it comes to unilateral action to force immigration reform, the president says it’s not about him. It’s about the other guys.

    “There is a very simple solution to this perception that somehow I’m exercising too much executive authority,” the president told reporters at an economic conference in Brisbane Australia at the top of the week. “Pass a bill I can sign on this issue.”

    Back on this side of the word, McConnell tossed the challenge right back a few days later, saying: “If President Obama acts in defiance of the people and imposes his will on the country, Congress will act.”

    Action, or the illusion of action, is key in these rhetorical standoffs, especially when the onus is on someone else.

    And the last one out of the water is the lame duck.

    The post Gwen’s Take: When a lame duck … just isn’t appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Counselors Amelia Kupchyk, L, and Vanessa Gomez, R, help clients with computer work required to navigate the second round of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act as HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell tours the Greater Prince William Community Health Center in Manassas, VA on Nov. 15, 2014. Photo by Linda Davidson/The Washington Post

    Counselors Amelia Kupchyk, L, and Vanessa Gomez, R, help clients with computer work required to navigate the second round of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act as HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell tours the Greater Prince William Community Health Center in Manassas, VA on Nov. 15, 2014. Photo by Linda Davidson/The Washington Post

    Just days before the health law’s marketplaces reopened, nearly a quarter of uninsured said they expect to remain without coverage because they did not think it would be affordable, according to a poll released Friday.

    That was by far the most common reason given by people who expect to stay uninsured next year, according to the latest tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) Forty-one percent of individuals without health insurance said they expected they would remain uninsured, while about half said they plan to get coverage in the coming months.

    The law includes subsidies to reduce premium costs and cost-sharing assistance for those who qualify, although it was not clear if the uninsured knew that.kaiserpoll3Despite heavy news coverage and marketing from insurers about the re-opening of enrollment, about 9 in 10 of the uninsured said they didn’t know when the health law’s open enrollment period began (Nov. 15). That was similar to the findings in last month’s Kaiser poll.

    More than 8 in 10 of the uninsured said it is at least somewhat important to them to have health insurance, with 62 percent saying it’s very important. Seven in 10 said health insurance is something they need.

    Other findings in Kaiser’s November poll include that most of the public reports their families have not been directly impacted by the health law, with more (24 percent) saying they have been hurt than helped (16 percent).

    Forty-six percent of those surveyed hold an unfavorable view of the law and 37 percent view it favorably, a slight change from last month’s survey, where 43 percent of those questioned held an unfavorable view of the law and 36 percent a favorable one. Despite heavy news coverage and marketing from insurers about the re-opening of enrollment, about 9 in 10 of the uninsured said they didn’t know when the health law’s open enrollment period began (Nov. 15).

    With the midterm elections giving Republicans control of the Senate and increasing the party’s majority in the House of Representatives, Americans were divided about whether the debate between the two parties over the health law would increase, the poll found. Forty-seven percent expected it, while 42 percent predicted it would stay at about the same level.

    There’s a variety of opinion about what Congress should do next with the health law. Twenty-nine percent of the public supports the law’s repeal, 17 percent favors scaling the law back, 20 percent wants the law to move ahead as is, while 22 percent chooses expanding the law.

    Republicans are more likely to favor repeal (52 percent) or scaling it back (24 percent), while Democrats are more likely to favor moving ahead with the law in its current form (40 percent) or expansion (34 percent). Independents fall in between, but lean toward repeal or scaling back.

    The poll was conducted from Nov. 5 through 13, using a telephone sample of 1,501 adults. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points for the full sample and +/- 9 percentage points for the uninsured.

    Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. Jay Hancock contributed to this report.

    The post Nearly a quarter of uninsured say they can’t afford coverage, poll finds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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