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

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    File photo of Mexico-Texas border by John Moore/Getty Images

    File photo of Mexico-Texas border by John Moore/Getty Images

    HOUSTON — The White House promised an appeal Tuesday after a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration and gave a coalition of 26 states time to pursue a lawsuit aiming to permanently stop the orders.

    U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision late Monday puts on hold Obama’s orders that could spare from deportation as many as five million people who are in the U.S. illegally.

    Hanen wrote in a memorandum accompanying his order that the lawsuit should go forward. Without a preliminary injunction, he said, the states would “suffer irreparable harm in this case.”

    “The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle,” he wrote, adding that he agreed that legalizing the presence of millions of people is a “virtually irreversible” action.

    In a statement early Tuesday, the White House defended the executive orders issued in November as within the president’s legal authority, saying the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress have said federal officials can establish priorities in enforcing immigration laws.

    “The district court’s decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision,” the statement said.

    The U.S. Department of Justice will appeal the ruling, the White House said. The appeal will be heard by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

    The first of Obama’s orders — to expand a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — was set to start taking effect Wednesday. The other major part of Obama’s order, which extends deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years, was not expected to begin until May 19.

    Joaquin Guerra, political director of Texas Organizing Project, called the ruling a “temporary setback.”

    “We will continue getting immigrants ready to apply for administrative relief,” he said in a statement. The nonprofit says it promotes social and economic equality for low to moderate income Texans.

    The coalition of states, led by Texas and made up of mostly conservative states in the South and Midwest, argues that Obama has violated the “Take Care Clause” of the U.S. Constitution, which they say limits the scope of presidential power, and that his executive actions would be difficult to undo once immigrants started to apply for deferred action. They also say Obama’s order would force increased investment in law enforcement, health care and education.

    House Speaker John Boehner said Monday’s ruling wasn’t a surprise and underscores that Obama acted beyond his authority.

    Boehner said he hopes that Senate Democrats will relent in their opposition to a Homeland Security Department spending bill that overturns Obama’s action. The department’s funding expires Feb. 27 and Congress has only a few legislative days to act.

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the decision a “victory for the rule of law in America” in a statement late Monday. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who led the state into the lawsuit when he was the state’s attorney general, said Hanen’s decision “rightly stops the President’s overreach in its tracks.”

    Hanen, who’s been on the federal court since 2002 after being nominated by President George W. Bush, regularly handles border cases but wasn’t known for being outspoken on immigration until a 2013 case. In that case, Hanen suggested that Homeland Security should be arresting parents living in the U.S. illegally who induce their children to cross the border.

    Congressional Republicans have vowed to block Obama’s actions by cutting off Homeland Security Department spending for the program. Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled House passed a $39.7 billion spending bill to fund the department through the end of the budget year, but attached language to undo Obama’s executive actions. The fate of that House-passed bill is unclear as Republicans in the Senate do not have the 60-vote majority needed to advance most legislation.

    Among those supporting Obama’s executive order is a group of 12 mostly liberal states, including Washington and California, as well as the District of Columbia. They filed a motion with Hanen in support of Obama, arguing the directives will substantially benefit states and will further the public interest.

    A group of law enforcement officials, including the Major Cities Chiefs Association and more than 20 police chiefs and sheriffs from across the country, also filed a motion in support, arguing the executive action will improve public safety by encouraging cooperation between police and individuals with concerns about their immigration status.

    The post Federal judge stalls Obama’s executive action on immigration appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by J.A. Bracchi via Getty Images.

    “The non-profit world seems to attract many narrow minds — more so than the commercial world,” says Nick Corcodilos. Photo by J.A. Bracchi via Getty Images.

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

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

    Question: Hey Nick, love your stuff and searched your site. Surely someone has asked how you translate your advice to non-profits and government work? Tell me what to do. Thanks!

    Nick Corcodilos: My profit-based methods for job hunting work with “non-profits,” too, because there’s no such thing as a non-profit. (See “The New Interview.”) Every organization must produce more than it uses in resources, or it goes out of business. But my methods work only in non-profits and government agencies that worry about profit. The rest don’t get it. And that’s what you should worry when you interview with non-profits and government agencies.

    The non-profit world seems to attract many narrow minds — more so than the commercial world.

    The big challenge I see in the non-profit world is petty management bickering that ensues when an organization doesn’t know what its real objective is — to do profitable work.

    I know that’s a huge generalization, but I have seen it so consistently that I suggest any job applicant look under the hood closely at how the place is managed and how employees behave. If the non-profit you’re looking at comes up roses, that’s great. But if you detect an undercurrent of bickering, you’ll find it obstructs the flow of productive work.

    The non-profit world seems to attract many narrow minds — more so than the commercial world. And I think the reason is simple: Though it’s certainly not true in all cases, I find that some of the weakest business people gravitate towards these organizations because they think they can survive better in a place where “profit isn’t the point.” The best these folks and their organizations do is muddle along.

    The truly successful non-profits operate more like successful commercial enterprises. Their output is measured regularly and objectively. Management isn’t focused on bickering because organizational objectives are clearly defined. Management is smart, and narrow minds are not welcome.

    So my advice is, choose your non-profit targets very carefully, based on the people and on how productive they really are. If something seems off, run.

    The truly successful non-profits operate more like successful commercial enterprises.

    But my practice is to assume the best, even if you know the odds are against it. So be at your best when you walk into those interviews. Keep your own standards high. Be ready to show how you will contribute to the bottom line – however it’s defined. But beware if the interviewer doesn’t know what that means. (See “Profit-based job hunting and hiring.”)

    Follow-up Question: Nick, this is awesome! Thanks. What about the federal government? Do you deal with the profit issue by addressing efficiency? Your stuff is unconventional and a little scary, but since nothing else has worked for me, I’m giving it a try and will keep you posted.

    Nick Corcodilos: Government is funded by seemingly unlimited tax revenues, so in practice costs don’t seem to matter. Efficiency often doesn’t matter. This leads many government operations to behave like doing profitable work doesn’t matter, either. In other words, there are no metrics applied to see whether what government produces is worth more than it costs to produce.

    Government and non-profit employees will sometimes argue that they’re “not in it for the money.” And that’s fine, because the outcome of their work doesn’t have to be cash profit. But it has to be some kind of measurable profit.

    An organization’s efficiency is a good measure — but you must bring a yardstick.

    I find that it helps to ask a hiring manager to tell you what his or her objectives are in concrete terms. That is, if they hired you, what would they want you to accomplish (I prefer the word deliver) in a month, three months, six months, and a year? Then ask what the benefit is, and how that’s measured.

    Government and non-profit employees will sometimes argue that they’re “not in it for the money.” And that’s fine, because the outcome of their work doesn’t have to be cash profit. But it has to be some kind of measurable profit.

    Armed with a definition of the desired output — again, whether it’s measured as cash profit, or as efficiency, or customer satisfaction — you can show how you’ll do it. You must be ready to present a sound, defensible plan for doing the work to produce the desired outcome. And that outcome must be something that can be objectively measured in terms everyone has already agreed on.

    I don’t see many non-profits or government agencies operating this way. I see a steady flow of frustrated workers and managers leaving non-profits and wondering what they did wrong. Most of the time, what they did wrong was to take a broken job in a toxic organization. (See “Don’t suck canal water.”)

    When you’re interviewing with this profit-based approach, a savvy manager will recognize a worthy job candidate, and that will be clearly evident to you. This will also put you ahead of your competition. A weak manager won’t know what you’re talking about, and that’s the signal to run. Find an organization that cares about productivity, and I think you’ll be able to land a good job that’s profitable for you, too.

    Thanks for your kind words. I hope something I’ve said is helpful, if not overly cynical. Let me know how it goes!

    Dear Readers: Have you worked for a non-profit? Was it a healthy experience or a frustrating one?

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

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

    Copyright © 2013 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

    The post Ask the Headhunter: Why you should worry about interviewing with non-profits appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. Border Patrol agents escort a group of undocumented immigrants into custody near the U.S/ Mexico border in Texas. Photo by John Moore and Getty Images

    U.S. Border Patrol agents escort a group of undocumented immigrants into custody near the U.S./ Mexico border in Texas. Photo by John Moore and Getty Images

    The Morning Line

    Today in the Morning Line:

  • Federal judge halts Obama’s executive action the day before it’s set to take place
  • Obama administration to appeal decision
  • Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of foreign policy
  • Why Jeb Bush has to talk about the Iraq war
  • Immigration order delayed: A day before President Obama’s executive action on immigration was set to take place, delaying deportation for as many as 5 million people, a federal judge in Texas blocked it at least temporarily. Judge Andrew S. Hanen, a George W. Bush appointee and outspoken critic of the Obama administration, sided with Texas and 25 other states opposing the action. “Texas and the other states said the executive measures were an egregious case of government by fiat that would impose huge new costs on their budgets,” the New York Times notes. The White House responded saying, in part, “The Supreme Court and Congress have made clear that the federal government can set priorities in enforcing our immigration laws—which is exactly what the President did….” It also notes that the administration will appeal the decision. This is by no means a death knell for the executive action, but will mean a delay for people who were expecting to begin filing paperwork Wednesday.

    DHS funding battle latest: The Tweets keep coming from both sides, following House Speaker John Boehner’s interview on Fox News Sunday, and his statement that he’s “certainly” willing to let Department of Homeland Security funding run out next week if the Senate won’t act on a House-passed immigration bill. Short summary of the fallout: the blame game for a potential shutdown has moved into high gear. Boehner and Republicans continue to blame Senate Democrats for blocking votes, while Democrats point out that it’s not clear Republicans have put together any other funding plan with enough GOP votes to make it through the House. Quick summary of where we are: At the moment only two options seem politically feasible — (1) a short-term funding bill that keeps the issue (and DHS) alive or (2) a partial shutdown of DHS starting a week from Saturday. (“Partial” because a majority of DHS staff is considered “essential” and could be required to work without pay in a budget impasse.) By the way, the Tribune’s Mike Memoli and Lisa Mascaro point out that “President Obama’s veto threats outnumber the bills Congress has been able to send him.”

    Poll watch: Congressional Republicans aren’t the only ones facing tough news on their ability to govern. A CNN/ORC poll finds Americans have a sharply negative view of how President Obama is handling foreign policy. A whopping 57 percent disapprove of his handling of IS while just 40 percent approve. That mirrors his overall handling of foreign affairs (41 percent approve, 57 percent disapprove). What’s worse for this president, when it comes to the security of electronic information, 60 percent disapprove of his handling; just 35 percent approve. Ironically, foreign policy and terrorism had been the area that held up as a strength for much of Obama’s presidency.

    Jeb Bush has to answer questions about Iraq: To some 2016 news… Jeb Bush is set to give a major foreign-policy address Wednesday, but he indicated to Bloomberg that he is not going to get into the Iraq war. “I won’t talk about the past,” he said, adding, “I’ll talk about the future. If I’m in the process of considering the possibility of running, it’s not about re-litigating anything in the past.” That is not going to be politically acceptable for the entirety of the 2016 presidential campaign. One of, if not THE, main obstacle to his being able to win in a general election will be his last name. And not because of “legacy,” but because of policy. For as much as Americans disapprove currently of Obama’s handling of foreign policy, they were even more critical of George W. Bush’s decision to get the U.S. involved in Iraq. Bush HAS to explain at some point how his foreign policy would be different from his brother’s. Asked last month in Detroit about the hurdle his last name presents, Jeb said, “If I have any degree of self-awareness, this would be the place where it might want to be applied.” That’s true. He might want to apply that self awareness to foreign policy.

    Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1972, President Richard Nixon departed for his historic trip to China; he was the first U.S. president to visit the People’s Republic of China. Which Chinese leader did Nixon meet with during his trip? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to roy wait ‏(@ind22rxw) for guessing Thursday’s trivia: Which president installed a radio in the White House? The answer: Harding.


    • ICYMI: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s out with his first campaign ad set in the early primary state of New Hampshire.

    • In other news from the Perry world, the Texan is beefing up his team for the Iowa caucus.

    • Sunday’s NBC/Marist early state polls show that the GOP nod is still anyone’s to win. Mike Huckabee narrowly leads among possible GOP caucus-goers in Iowa, while Jeb Bush leads in New Hampshire. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is ahead in his state.

    • Scott Walker’s budget cuts funding for the University of Wisconsin system by 13 percent. He’s comparing his new fight against public universities to when he took on public sector unions four years ago.

    • Speaking at a GOP dinner in New Hampshire Monday, Chris Christie said the first two pieces of legislation he’d push within 100 days of his presidency would be tax reform to keep companies from leaving the country and a national energy policy. Get ready to see a lot more Christie in the Granite State; his team is planning a series of town-hall meetings.

    • Politico reports that Wall Street is on high alert over possible Rand Paul presidency.

    • Jeb Bush was at Richmond’s Jefferson Hotel on Presidents’ Day to headline a fundraiser for the Republican State Leadership Committee.

    • Michael Schiavo told the AP he will be “very active” in the campaign against Bush, who sided with Terri Schiavo’s parents to try to keep their daughter’s feeding tube in.

    • Barbara Bush wants everyone to know she’s changed her mind about there being “too many Bushes” in the White House.

    • Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul went to Sen. Marco Rubio’s home state of Florida Saturday and took aim at Rubio’s foreign policy choices in the Senate.



    For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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

    Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Rachel Wellford at rwellford-at-newshour-dot-org.

    Follow the politics team on Twitter:

    The post Texas judge blocks Obama immigration action appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Destroyed Ukrainian military armored vehicles are seen on the northern outskirts of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Feb. 17. Despite a ceasefire, which began on Sunday, artillery shelling was heard in the nearby town of Debaltseve. Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images

    Destroyed Ukrainian military armored vehicles are seen on the northern outskirts of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Feb. 17. Despite a ceasefire, which began on Sunday, artillery shelling was heard in the nearby town of Debaltseve. Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images

    A ceasefire imposed Saturday night on Ukrainian and Russian-backed separatists was largely holding Tuesday, except in the strategic railway town of Debaltseve in eastern Ukraine.

    Rebels and Ukrainian soldiers exchanged fire around the train station on Monday and into Tuesday, several news agencies reported. Both the rebels and government forces say they have control of the area. International monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have said they could not enter the town.

    Under the Feb. 12 agreement, both sides had two days after the ceasefire to start withdrawing from a buffer zone. But both forces say Debaltseve is on their side of the buffer.

    A rebel military spokesman, Eduard Basurin, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying they would begin withdrawing heavy weaponry from the frontlines, but that did not appear to include Debaltseve.

    The leaders of Germany, France and the United States expressed concern that the fighting has continued and that five Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since the ceasefire began.

    In all, more than 5,600 people have died in the conflict, which has been going on for more than a year.

    The post Fighting continues in eastern Ukraine despite truce appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Children work alongside adults at the Panique mining area about 10 kilometers outside the town of Aroroy on the Island of Masbate. Masbate is about 350 miles south of the Philippine capital of Manila. Photo by Larry C. Price

    Children work alongside adults at the Panique mining area about 10 kilometers outside the town of Aroroy on the Island of Masbate. Masbate is about 350 miles south of the Philippine capital of Manila. Photo by Larry C. Price

    Small-scale gold mining in the Philippines uses mercury and cyanide to extract elemental gold from ore extracted from mines and pits dug by hand. Very young children, some as young as four, are put to work at less dangerous but still rigorous tasks in the gold mining areas. These include panning in streams or rivers and hauling ore sacks that can weigh up to 60 pounds.

    Children often play near mechanized equipment and highly toxic mercury and cyanide. These chemicals, used to help extract elemental gold from ore, are leached into nearby watersheds where fish and other marine life, mainstays of the Philippine diet, are poisoned. The high price of gold and the poor economy in many developing countries has led to an increase in small-scale gold mining throughout the world.

    A young miner tends a ball mill beneath a Diwalwal home. Mercury in the blue pan is used during the process. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2013.

    A young miner tends a ball mill beneath a Diwalwal home. Mercury in the blue pan is used during the process. Image by Larry C. Price. Philippines, 2013.

    Young boys process gold using plastic tubs and mercury along the banks of the Guinobatan River outside the town of Aroroy.  A liquid sludge, made by tumbling gold ore and water in mechanized tumblers, is mixed with mercury then  "panned." Mercury is often spilled into the river creating an environmental hazard.  Photo by Larry C. Price

    Young boys process gold using plastic tubs and mercury along the banks of the Guinobatan River outside the town of Aroroy. A liquid sludge, made by tumbling gold ore and water in mechanized tumblers, is mixed with mercury then “panned.” Photo by Larry C. Price

    Compressor miners working in the gold fields at Dalas Labo, a village in the provide of Camarines Norte on the island of Luzon. Photo by Larry C. Price

    Compressor miners working in the gold fields at Dalas Labo, a village in the provide of Camarines Norte on the island of Luzon. Photo by Larry C. Price

    Children pan a muddy slice that will eventually be mixed with toxic mercury or other chemicals to extract gold. Photo by Larry C. Price

    Children pan a muddy slice that will eventually be mixed with toxic mercury or other chemicals to extract gold. Photo by Larry C. Price

    Children sift through ore at an illegal gold mine in the Philippines. Photo by Larry C. Price

    Children sift through ore at an illegal gold mine in the Philippines. Photo by Larry C. Price

    Miners extract gold flakes with mercury and then burn away the liquid metal leaving only gold behind. Photos by Larry C. Price

    Miners extract gold flakes with mercury and then burn away the liquid metal leaving only gold behind. Photos by Larry C. Price

    Wearing no protection from noxious fumes, workers burning an amalgam of mercury and gold, the last—and most dangerous step—in the gold smelting process. Image by Larry C. Price

    Wearing no protection from noxious fumes, workers burning an amalgam of mercury and gold, the last—and most dangerous step—in the gold smelting process. Image by Larry C. Price

    A miner burns away borax, in a process that is less toxic than using mercury, to extract gold from ore. Photo by Larry C. Price

    A miner uses charcoal to extract gold from ore. Photo by Larry C. Price

    A miner holds a gold nugget, extracted from ore at an illegal gold mine in the Philippines. Photo by Larry C. Price.

    A miner displays a nugget worth about $2100, extracted from ore at an illegal mine in the Philippines. Photo by Larry C. Price.

    This story is published in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

    The post Photos: Child miners exposed to toxic chemicals in illegal gold mines appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JEFFREY BROWN: Alexandra Fuller grew up in Southern Africa, Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia. This backdrop of war, beauty, hard living and two almost larger-than-life parents has been the inspiration for two bestselling memoirs, “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight” and “Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness.”

    And now comes a third, “Leaving Before the Rains Come,” about her move to the U.S., the end of her marriage, and her continuing connection to all she left behind in Africa.

    Alexandra Fuller, welcome.

    ALEXANDRA FULLER, Author, “Leaving Before the Rains Come”: Thank you.

    JEFFREY BROWN: I want to start with that last thought about connections to place, because part of this is — at least it struck me as about belonging and not belonging. That’s something you wanted to explore and gnaws at you?


    ALEXANDRA FULLER: I think that’s just part of the condition of being a white Southern African. You’re just — particularly at my age, you’re dispossessed at birth, and you’re very aware of it, particularly when you have parents like mine, who sort of fought on what I consider the wrong side of history, but then felt so connected to that land that they stayed.

    And so you’re a sort of living disconnect. You’re white African, and then — and you sort of move to the U.S., and you look like white, middle-class U.S. housewife.

    JEFFREY BROWN: But you’re not, really.

    ALEXANDRA FULLER: But I’m African.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Your parents, who you have written about now in the three memoirs, I used larger than life because I wasn’t quite sure what to say, because they are. You almost can’t make up these two in a way.

    There’s the quote from your father in this one that says, “The problem with most people is that they want to be alive for as long as possible without having any idea whatsoever how to live.”

    ALEXANDRA FULLER: And I think the extraordinary thing for me is, the older I get, the more I realize, they’re not larger than life; they’re simply alive. They’re just deeply authentic.

    They have, I think, eschewed every tribe that would have them be a member and really deeply become more themselves. And it’s not a bad model to follow.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, you know, there is a passage in here that I loved because it kind of goes to the talk we have in this country about how to raise children, you know, and coddling them and scheduling them.

    And your father says to you — he tells you to run around freely and he says, “You have got the whole of bloody Africa to play in.”

    I love that. Just get out there. And that was his philosophy of parenting?

    ALEXANDRA FULLER: Pretty much. My sister and I were laughing about that.

    It wasn’t just — we were also free to do anything we wanted, as long as we didn’t shoot each other above the knees. That was the limit.


    JEFFREY BROWN: And you laugh, but guns were around quite a bit. Right?


    And I think it’s — one of the things that I explore in all my work is that there’s this constant sort of conflict that’s not easy. It’s a lot of contradictions. I adore my family. I don’t love their politics. I think they’re wonderful parents. They were dreadful at parenting.

    I admire them enormously. I, you know, assiduously do not follow most of what they have told me to do. And yet the one thing my father did say is, you know, live your own life. That’s it. And you will know it’s your own life because it’s lonely and it’s frightening. And there’s — when you look back, there will be only one set of footprints, and they’re yours.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You know, this book is also, as I said, a memoir of a divorce.


    JEFFREY BROWN: There was one reviewer had a line that I liked. It said, “Alexandra Fuller has written a divorce memoir for people who may not like divorce memoirs.”

    And it’s interesting, because you sort of say that yourself in the book. Right?


    JEFFREY BROWN: You go around and start reading these things as your own marriage is breaking up, and you don’t like what you’re reading.

    So what did — how did you come to it? How did you find your way to writing about it?

    ALEXANDRA FULLER: I think that’s what I do, right? I write and I read, and I write and read my way into and out of ideas and life. And that’s what we do. That’s what storytellers do.

    And the closest I could come to anything was actually Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking,” because it felt to me not like a divorce.


    ALEXANDRA FULLER: It felt to me kind of like a death. I mean, 20 years with someone, when you have committed so much of yourself, when you have made such an attempt, I think, to mold yourself in a relationship, and then find yourself in what feels like really solitary confinement, to break out of that, there must be a kind of death.

    I mean, anything else, it — you know, I think the one thing I really was allergic to was this idea that was divorce was some kind of celebration. It felt to me like a really catastrophic ending. And, yes, something new came from it, but it was much more Carl Jung than let’s celebrate the freedom of some — yes, whatever the other paradigm…

    JEFFREY BROWN: You know, you said you’re a writer, so you write about what happens. That sort of goes to my — the larger question is, where does this compulsion to write about — because you’re sort of telling your life story in all these memoirs. Right? Why?

    ALEXANDRA FULLER: Well, you know, I wanted to be a writer.

    That was just it. Right? So I think you either have that compulsion or you don’t. And it’s — for me, it’s like breathing. I mean, I want to make words out of life. That’s bigger than me. That’s as big a creative force as — bigger than, for me, even having children. That felt more accidental, wonderful, but accidental.

    This is a deliberate and very enormous feeling in me. And I did try to write fiction. I wrote 10 novels. And they were all just awful.


    ALEXANDRA FULLER: And my agent at the time fired me. And she said, you may have a minuscule bit of talent, but you have got no story, and so you’re on your own.

    And I thought, no, wait, I do have a story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You have got a story.

    ALEXANDRA FULLER: Yes, I have got a story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Yes. And I’m going to tell it.

    ALEXANDRA FULLER: And then what sort of happened was that first book, ” Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight,” which was really a memoir of growing up with my extraordinary mother, everyone called it brutally honest.

    And it really made me realize how much everybody else must just be lying through their teeth all the time. And I think that is part of the gift of growing up Southern African. For all our faults, we really hash things out.

    We’re very funny. We’re very direct, and we’re very honest, I think, because, if someone is not waving a gun at you, really, what’s the worst thing that can happen if we tell the truth? So, we don’t have freedom of speech, and we use it. And here, there’s freedom of speech, and people take the Fifth.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right.

    Well, the new memoir is “Leaving Before the Rains Come.”

    Alexandra Fuller, thank you.

    ALEXANDRA FULLER: Thank you.

    The post Author Alexandra Fuller on how growing up in Africa inspired a ‘very honest’ divorce memoir appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Bahamas National Trust Warden Steve Smith releases a piping plover after it has been banded by a team of scientists. Photo by Walker Golder/National Audubon Society

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Now: finding, tracking and protecting endangered birds.

    Last year, a National Audubon Society report found climate change is likely to disrupt the habitat of about half of North America’s bird species by 2080. While a number of conservation efforts are being made in America, scientists want to get a better understanding of where some birds go when they leave the U.S., in order to protect that habitat as well.

    Like humans, many head to warmer climes in the winter.

    The NewsHour’s Cat Wise reports on a new effort to track them.

    CAT WISE: As the sun came up on a recent morning, a team of U.S. scientists who were camping out on a remote island in the Bahamas packed up and loaded their gear into an awaiting boat.

    They were part of a National Audubon Society-led expedition, searching for a special visitor to these uninhabited spits of land called the Joulter Cays.

    WALKER GOLDER, Deputy Director, Audubon North Carolina: Often, on this end of the island is where we see the majority of our shorebirds.

    CAT WISE: This breathtaking area is home to dozens of species of native and migratory birds, including a small gray shorebird called a piping plover, which has been on the endangered species list in the United States since 1986.

    WALKER GOLDER: They fly about 4,000 miles round-trip to — from their breeding grounds to their wintering grounds. It’s an amazing migration.

    CAT WISE: Walker Golder is a biologist with the National Audubon Society. He was part of a small team of scientists who went looking for piping plovers in the Bahamas about five years ago.

    WALKER GOLDER: When we got to one place on the very northern tip of the Joulter Cays and found nearly a hundred piping plovers in one place, that was a wonderful moment, and we realized that this is a significant place in the wintering grounds of this species.

    CAT WISE: The birds, which nest along beaches in eastern parts of the U.S. and Canada, used to be a common sight in those areas, but their numbers have dropped to about 8,000 worldwide. Much of that decline can be attributed to human development.

    And now, says Walker, like many shorebirds, piping plovers are already feeling the impacts from rising sea levels.

    WALKER GOLDER: Climate change is a serious threat to these birds, and equally serious is how we react to climate change. When we begin to try to harden our shorelines, and build stone or hard structures on our beaches in an attempt to hold back the ocean, the habitat for these birds disappears. When we lose the habitat for these birds, we lose the birds.

    CAT WISE: For a number of years now, a big effort has been made to protect the birds while they are nesting in the U.S. Portions of certain East Coast beaches are even closed off during their breeding season, to the chagrin of some beachgoers.

    But, until recently, their winter habitat was a mystery. Now that the scientists know, they’re trying to track and study the birds here.

    MAN: Let’s pull in there and see what we see, yes.

    CAT WISE: But, first, you have to find them, no easy task, with miles and miles of beaches to search.

    WALKER GOLDER: I think they have already left.

    CAT WISE: Then, after a bit more searching, success.

    MAN: Wait, look right over there. Look to the left. Yes, right — very tip in.

    MAN: Yes.

    MAN: You see them?

    MAN: Got them.

    CAT WISE: They moved in for a closer look.

    WALKER GOLDER: I got 47.

    So we would put one to two nets here, right?

    MAN: One here and one where you are.

    CAT WISE: The team began setting up for a key task of their expedition, to net and capture the birds. It took some time, and a bit of patience, but soon they were launching their nets.

    After removing and inspecting the birds, they put easily identifiable bands, pink for the Bahamas, on their legs.

    Dan Catlin is with the Virginia Tech Shorebird Program. He’s helped capture and band more than 4,000 piping plovers.

    DANIEL CATLIN, Virginia Tech Shorebird Program: We can actually see where each one of these birds is found during the migration and then where they are found during the breeding season. And so we can start to put these areas into perspective and determine what levels of protection are needed and what is already there.

    CAT WISE: Over the course of their three-week expedition, the team was able to capture 27 birds.

    While the primary focus of the scientists here is to advance their understanding of the piping plover and where it spends the winters, they also have another goal: to preserve this pristine habitat by enlisting the help of the local community, the government of the Bahamas, and the tens of millions of bird enthusiasts in the U.S. and around the world.

    MATT JEFFERY, International Alliances Program Director, National Audubon Society: How many people in the room today would like to take people out bird-watching and get paid for it?


    CAT WISE: Matt Jeffery is with the Audubon’s International Alliances Program. They would like to see the Joulter Cays turned into a national park to protect the piping plovers’ winter habitat from the kind of tourism and big development that have become a hallmark of the Bahamas.

    But, in order to do that, they need the support of communities near the Joulters, communities that haven’t benefited much from tourism.

    MATT JEFFERY: There are 46.7 million bird-watchers in the United States. This is what people are paying to go and watch birds, $17.3 billion. Do you guys want some of that?

    AUDIENCE: Yes.

    CAT WISE: Interested locals who complete a 14-week course will be given an Audubon birding certification, but Jeffery says the real key to the effort is making sure the Joulters are kept pristine.

    MATT JEFFERY: We could go on forever answering the science questions, and we’d lose the habitat. Somebody would come in and build a resort, or take out that habitat if we don’t address the conservation needs right now. We really need to bring economics into the equation in order to get people to give a greater value to the environments that we’re trying to conserve and preserve.

    CAT WISE: But not everyone is enthusiastic about turning the area into a national park.

    Phillip Rolle is a local bonefishing guide. Bones, as they are known, are fast, hard-to-catch fish which live in shallow waters. The sport is one the few sources of tourism income in this area. Rolle doesn’t want the Joulters to become overly developed. But he says many locals are equally concerned about the area becoming off-limits to them.

    PHILLIP ROLLE, Bonefishing Guide: They are concerned, not knowing exactly what they mean by being a park, whether that means they can’t go out and bonefish anymore. They think, when you say it’s a park, then you can’t touch it, you can’t do anything. And that’s when — that’s why most of the natives are saying, no, we don’t want it to be a park.

    CAT WISE: Even if everyone agrees going forward, money is a problem. Just a few park rangers currently manage several million acres.

    ERIC CAREY, Executive Director, Bahamas National Trust: The Joulter Cays is a fairly remote area. It is going to require two or three staff. It’s going to require a boat.

    CAT WISE: Eric Carey is the executive director of the Bahamas National Trust, which manages the country’s parks.

    ERIC CAREY: We certainly believe that it makes sense for a legislator in the U.S. when they’re thinking about funding conservation to note that it doesn’t make sense to only protect within the U.S. borders, because these birds fly south. Of course, it doesn’t take away the responsibility of the Bahamas government to protect the environment, and we take that very seriously.

    CAT WISE: Meanwhile, back on the Joulters, the scientists hope a decision about whether the area will be turned into a national park will be made some time soon. But, for now, the focus around the campfire is about where to look for plovers in the morning.

    I’m Cat Wise in the Bahamas for the PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: It’s well known that four out of every five middle-aged women deal with hot flashes, night sweats and other difficult symptoms of menopause. New research finds those symptoms often last a great deal longer than conventional wisdom had it.

    It comes from the largest study of its kind done so far of more than 3,300 women. It concluded that the median duration for hot flashes lasted seven years, and that in some cases symptoms can last as long as 14 years. Moreover, the problems were worse for some women of color.

    The median duration was 10 years for African-American women and almost nine years for Latinas.

    Nancy Avis is the lead researcher of the study. She’s a professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

    Professor Avis, thank you for joining us.

    What is different that was learned in this study that wasn’t previously understood?

    DR. NANCY AVIS, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center: I think one of the things that was different is that we were able to follow women for a longer period of time. So we did learn that there are women who experience hot flashes for at least seven — 14 years, that up to 40 percent of our sample was still experiencing hot flashes, night sweats after 14 years.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And is it understood anymore why that is happening and how many women are experiencing it?

    DR. NANCY AVIS: Well, in our sample, it’s about 40 percent of our sample that were still experiencing hot flashes at that time.

    We will continue — we are continuing to follow women, and we will know in a few years how much longer they might last and what that percentage is. But this is what we found at this time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And what about in terms of the why?

    DR. NANCY AVIS: Well, we do know that women who begin to get their hot flashes when they’re younger and earlier before they reach menopause experience them a longer period of time.

    And women who don’t get them until they reach menopause experience them a shorter period of time. And that was a big difference that we found.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So bad news potentially if it happens sooner, rather than later.

    What about other correlations among women experiencing these symptoms of hot flashes longer?  We mentioned a difference in racial, ethnic groups. Is that right?

    DR. NANCY AVIS: That’s right.

    And, as you pointed out, we did find that African-American women reported them for a longer period of time. And, in our sample, we had Chinese and Japanese women living in the U.S., but of Chinese and Japanese origin, and they experienced them for a shorter period of time.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, again, any understanding of why that would be?

    DR. NANCY AVIS: You know, we have found this in cross-sectional studies conducted around the world, where Asian women do tend to report, in general, fewer hot flashes. And we have also found in the U.S. that African-American women report more hot flashes in terms of prevalence.

    So that’s a consistent finding. It’s very hard to try to figure out just why, because there could be differences in lifestyle, differences in diet, reproductive factors, hormonal factors. It’s very complicated. It’s a fascinating question, but we really don’t have an answer just yet.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you’re saying the study continues. In the middle of this, though, is there any new information, any advice for women who are going through these difficult symptoms?

    DR. NANCY AVIS: I think one of the important messages is that there is just huge variability among women.

    We found that about 20 percent only experienced hot flashes and night sweats for maybe two years, while another percentage found — experienced them for 14 years. So, there’s just a wide variability of what women experience. And we don’t really know what can explain that ahead of time for women.

    But for those who do experience them a long period of time, we need to find some safe and effective ways to relieve these symptoms. As of now, we really don’t have good methods on the long term. People are investigating some methods such as acupuncture, hypnosis, mindfulness, stress reduction. Those are safe and effective for some women, worth a try — pharmaceuticals potentially, but they should talk to a health care provider about those.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, all very interesting, I know, to many, many Americans.

    Thank you very much, Dr. Nancy Avis.

    DR. NANCY AVIS: Thank you.

    The post Women can suffer menopause hot flashes for more than a decade, study finds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A miner holds a gold nugget, extracted from ore at an illegal gold mine in the Philippines. Photo by Larry Price.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: The Chinese new year, celebrated this week, often marks a frenzy of gold-buying. But some of that gold comes at a high price for the impoverished nations that produce it.

    The NewsHour’s P.J. Tobia has this report, the latest in a series by photographer Larry C. Price. It was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

    P.J. TOBIA: These best friends, Duku and Yoyo, 8 and 10 years old, earn just a few dollars a day, every day, mining gold in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Yoyo’s mother thinks it may be all they ever do.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): I have a plan to get out of here, just no money.

    P.J. TOBIA: Duku and Yoyo have worked the mines for two years. They don’t get many breaks, they don’t have any toys, and they’re not in school regularly.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): Yoyo can read a little, but Duku cannot, because he hasn’t gone to school yet.

    P.J. TOBIA: When asked if he’d rather be in school, Duku just shrugs and gets back to work. Other children labor underground, unfortunately well-suited for this grueling labor, tiny tunnels, tiny bodies.

    Small, artisanal gold mines can be found on every continent, often in remote regions of unstable countries. Indonesia is one of the world’s leading suppliers of this precious metal. The Philippines also produces tons of gold, much of it ripped from the earth by hands like these.

    Parents don’t choose this life for their children, but there’s no other option.

    CARLOS CONDE, Human Rights Watch, Philippines: Those parents are forcing them.

    P.J. TOBIA: Carlos Conde is a researcher at Human Rights Watch in the Philippines.

    CARLOS CONDE: You always have that component of parents, if not forcing, convincing them that they have to work in the fields, that they have to work in the factory or that they have to work in the mining operations. It’s poverty, basically.

    P.J. TOBIA: These children spend their days crushing the rocks that miners like Duku and Yoyo chisel from the earth.  They sift through the ore, looking for sparkling gold residue no bigger than a grain of sand.  It’s tedious, but the worst is still ahead.

    Liquid mercury, one of the most dangerous heavy metals on the planet, is used throughout the processing of gold ore.

    RICHARD GUTIERREZ, BAN Toxics: Mercury is an immediate public health issue because it’s toxic. It’s one of the most potent neurotoxins out there.

    P.J. TOBIA: Demitria Durano owns a few of these processing centers in the Philippines. She’s worked with mercury for much of her life.

    DEMITRIA DURANO, Ore Processor (through interpreter): Some of my operators will really get sick because when they open the tumblers, they inhale. If there is mercury, it really stinks. They don’t wear masks.  And that’s why most of my operators get sick. They look pale and their skin turns yellow.

    P.J. TOBIA: While it destroys the body, mercury is a cheap way to protect the gold from dirt and rock particles.

    DEMITRIA DURANO (through interpreter): Sometimes, I feel so weak afterwards. I always wash right away. I wash my hands with soapy water.  But I will really get a headache. I will really feel badly.

    P.J. TOBIA: Richard Gutierrez is the founder and director of BAN Toxics, an organization in the Philippines dedicated to preventing the trade of toxic chemicals.

    RICHARD GUTIERREZ: It’s a heavy metal.  It is persistent.  Therefore, it bioaccumulates in the food chain. It bioaccumulates in the seafood.  So, it’s poisoning. It’s contaminating a major protein source for a lot of people.  It also travels further, so it has the capability of global transport. The contamination is not restricted in one site.

    P.J. TOBIA: The final step in processing the gold begins with a spark. The tiny balls of mercury-encased gold dust are blasted with an acetylene torch, releasing vapors that are pure poison. Unprotected workers breath it all in.  The danger reaches well beyond here.

    Charlita Balwiss spent nearly a decade as a health inspector in the town of Diwalwal, Philippines, where small-scale gold mining is a way of life. She became ill from the mercury smoke.

    CHARLITA BALWISS, Philippine Health Inspector (through interpreter): Our health center was on the top floor of a building, near a chimney from one of the gold melting shops. It was too close to our center.  Even if we just stood up, we really inhaled it.

    P.J. TOBIA: She estimates 50 percent of the townspeople have shown symptoms of mercury poisoning.

    CHARLITA BALWISS (through interpreter): Most of the people who cook or melt the gold felt tremors. But it wasn’t just the workers, also just people who were passersby, because they would inhale the smoke. So we can’t just say that only the one who cooks or melts the gold is the one that’s been contaminated or infected, also anyone who lived nearby, even if they weren’t working with mercury.

    P.J. TOBIA: Even when the symptoms subside, the heavy metal stays in the system and will likely maim or kill.

    RICHARD GUTIERREZ: You do have deformities, children born with — that are disfigured. These types of symptoms, especially the more benign ones or the unseen ones, make screening for mercury poisoning very difficult, especially for health workers that are untrained and are unfamiliar with the symptoms.

    P.J. TOBIA: Dealers keep a steady supply of mercury available in mining towns. This woman runs a shop in Sulawesi, Indonesia. She says that customers come day and night for the mercury she supplies.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): In one week, we sell one tank. Each tank is 34 kilos. So, in a month, we can sell more than 120 kilos.

    P.J. TOBIA: Five years ago, she started selling mercury illegally.  She was arrested, but not jailed. Instead, the police put her in touch with a legal supplier.  Now they do business together. It’s an example of how the local authorities are complicit in this deadly trade.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): This was made in Spain. Previously, there was some from America.

    P.J. TOBIA: When asked about mercury’s health effects on her community, she just shrugs.

    WOMAN (through interpreter): What can I do? I’m here to make a living also. We need it, others need it, which means all of us here need each other. Mercury supports this chain.

    P.J. TOBIA: The end of that chain is often China or India. Some of it ends up in local markets, like this gold shop in Borneo.

    Gold from artisanal mines makes up only 10 percent to 15 percent of the four-ton global gold market, according to analysts at Thomson Reuters. But after it’s processed, gold is impossible to trace.

    L.J. Johnson is the director of International Labor Office in the Philippines.

    L.J. JOHNSON, Director, Philippine International Labor Office: Because whether we’re talking gold or silver that we mine, it’s a bulk commodity. So when we ask consumers, are you sure that ring that you’re wearing, the earring, the necklaces are free from child labor, that’s more difficult, but it’s up to consumers to start making that choice again.

    P.J. TOBIA: In a tragic irony, there is a cheaper, easily available and even more efficient alternative to using mercury when processing gold.  It’s borax, commonly found in household cleaning products. But Gutierrez of BAN Toxics says it’s only being used in a few Philippine communities.

    RICHARD GUTIERREZ: The utilization of borax at the refining stage to improve gold quality, so that when they sell it to the mercury — to the gold buyers, they get more money in return. There is an existing community of miners that have adopted it.

    P.J. TOBIA: But change comes slowly with these old methods and their young victims.

    RICHARD GUTIERREZ: Introducing alternatives to communities is much trickier than it sounds. It’s not just about planting a technology in front of them and telling them, this makes your job easier, this gives you more money.

    P.J. TOBIA: Even if the problem of mercury pollution and poisoning is solved, Duku and Yoyo will continue to mine for gold, probably for the rest of their lives, as long as poverty persists, and gold dust can help put food on the table.

    This is P.J. Tobia for the PBS NewsHour.

    GWEN IFILL: You can find links to more of Larry C. Price’s work for the Pulitzer Center on our Web site, including photo essays, a podcast and an e-book on gold mining issues around the world.

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    GWEN IFILL: Absent agreement, the current bailout plan expires at the end of the month.

    From the streets of Greece to the floors of international markets, we look at what’s at stake in the standoff with journalist John Psaropoulos in Athens and Jacob Kirkegaard, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

    John Psaropoulos, what started this? Why the breakdown on Monday?

    JOHN PSAROPOULOS, Independent Journalist: I think that the problem centers around the fact that you have got a left-wing, radical left-wing government in Athens, which wants to go fully, frontally against the whole concept of austerity across the periphery of Europe.

    It wants to raise the banner of sovereignty and self-determination within Europe, in other words, telling Germany that it can’t tell other countries what to do with their national budgets and their economic and fiscal policies. And I think that a lot of the acrimony that’s been seen, and not just on Monday, but also in last week’s Eurogroup, has centered around the political symbolism of that standoff, not so much the substance, the fact that the Greeks are being told by the Germans that they’re running economic deficits, and they’re coming back to the Germans and telling them that they are running democratic deficits.

    And both sides, of course, are saying that both these deficits are going to be detrimental to the future of Europe. So the Greeks are trying to present themselves as being on an equal footing, even though they are the debtors in this argument.

    GWEN IFILL: Jacob Kirkegaard, does this kind of political and economic standoff mean sure disaster for Greece? Are they headed to a default?

    JACOB KIRKEGAARD, Peterson Institute for International Economics: I don’t think we’re quite there yet. I think we are in what I would call the political theater season, so to speak, because you do have a Greek — a newly elected Greek government that was elected on a lot of promises of a lot of things they would do.

    And many, including myself, would argue that many of those election promises are at odds with, shall we say, economic reality. So you are in a situation where the Greek government is going to have to renege on many of those promises. And one of the things in which you do that is to at least appear to be fighting to the last drop of blood politically for the interests of the Greek people, et cetera.

    So I don’t think we will get a deal until five minutes to midnight, and we’re not quite there yet.

    GWEN IFILL: John Psaropoulos, I want to bounce some of that off of you, because you’re talking to people there, not only the politicians, but also the residents of Greece. And they seem to — this is a very popular government. This is a very popular stand, to push back against the E.U.

    Does the E.U. just seem heavy-handed to the residents of Greece?

    JOHN PSAROPOULOS: Well, yes, I mean, a lot of people have now gathered around this government to support it privately and publicly.

    What’s remarkable is that opinion polls last week showed that the number of Greeks who support this government now has doubled since the election, compared to the number of Greeks who voted for it. And I think there was a great deal of concern. People are nervous. There’s been a slow bank run here. About $17 billion has been withdrawn from banks in just two months.

    People know what is at stake. They know that it’s a high-risk strategy to elect an anti-austerity government in the midst of an austerity program. They know how weak Greece’s position is in Europe. They know that Greece can be forced to leave the Eurozone if its liquidity is cut off by the European Central Bank and the Eurozone countries.

    So, yes, I mean, people have shown a remarkable kind of courage in, nonetheless, gathering around this government and showing solidarity as much as possible as a nation, rather than as a left-wing faction. Having said that, there are, of course, those who disagree with a lot of the specifics of what Syriza has been saying. They do think that we have sometimes taken a step too far, treaded on European toes and on the traditional values of consensus within Europe.

    GWEN IFILL: Syriza, of course, being the political party that was just elected to government, the popular party.

    So what is it that the E.U. is asking for and what can they hope to get realistically?

    JACOB KIRKEGAARD: Well, I think there’s a two-stage approach here. There is the first approach, or the first stage, where basically the E.U. is telling the new Greek government, you have to ask for an extension of the existing program with Greece.

    And what that basically is saying is, is, it’s symbolic. And what it means is that you, a newly elected Greek government, have to accept that, in a currency union, you are not a fully sovereign government and you’re not a fully sovereign country. You have to play by the rules. And part of these rules are, you know, agreeing in theory, or in practice, that there is an existing program.

    So, the Greeks have to ask for an extension of that program. Then, once that is done, we can sit down and have longer-term negotiations about, what is the relationship going to look like between the euro area, the other creditors and Greece in the years ahead?

    GWEN IFILL: But is there any discussion under way at all about the fact that there may not be a relationship, that this may be the beginning of Greece deciding it’s going to exit the Eurozone?

    JACOB KIRKEGAARD: I think that the probability of an exit for Greece from the Eurozone is extremely low, because I think, as also John said from Athens, that there is a clear recognition in Greece that there’s a lot at risk here.

    And so far, the posturing, if you like, by the Syriza government is popular. But, at the same time, many Greeks, we have seen — and it was mentioned — that more and more people are taking their money out of the bank. So, they’re hedging.

    And once the economic consequences, which would be very dramatic for Greece, of a break with the Eurozone — the government is going to run out of money, in my opinion, in a matter of a relatively few weeks. And it doesn’t matter that you have a great election program and a lot of public spending you would like to do and a lot of public officials you would like to rehire if you’re out of cash.

    So once the screws are being tightened on the Greek economy, which they will very rapidly, I think there will be a rather cruel awakening by the many people who right now at least in the opinion polls support the Greek government.

    GWEN IFILL: And we’re waiting for another shoe to drop on Fridayand perhaps another one next week.

    John Psaropoulos in Athens and Jacob Kirkegaard here in Washington, thank you both very much.

    JACOB KIRKEGAARD: My pleasure.

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    A version of “Coming Home” with subtitles.

    A short film depicting two parents’ coming to terms with their son’s homosexuality has gone viral in China, garnering over 100 million views on QQ, a popular video streaming site in China.

    Once classified as a “mental illness,” homosexuality has been legal in China for almost twenty years. Same sex marriage remains illegal, however, and the cultural emphasis on continuing family lines has placed a stigma on homosexual behavior.

    Titled “Coming Home”, the six-minute film shows a young gay man who, despite loving his parents, feels pressured by them to be attracted to women. As the credits run, mothers of LGBT children tell viewers not to be afraid of approaching their parents about their sexual orientation and urge parents to be supportive.

    “Don’t think of the love of your parents as a burden,” says one, while another one says: “Be brave and be yourself. Tell your parents your experiences, and we will share with you.” Another mother says over rolling credits: “Don’t let traditional thinking stop you from coming home.”

    The video comes on the eve of Chinese New Year, when parents and children gather to celebrate the country’s most important holiday. It was produced by PFLAG China, a gay rights organization named after the U.S.-based Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). The group runs support groups and provides counseling around China.

    While homosexuality is gradually becoming more accepted, activists say the government routinely cracks down on the gay rights movement, according to CNN. In May of 2013, a 19-year-old activist was arrested for 12 days for leading a street march against homophobia.

    “They aren’t just targeting gay groups,” Xiaogang Wei, head of the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute told CNN. “Authorities are increasingly worried about the organizational capability of various rights groups, especially when we band together, because it could challenge their political power.”

    The pressure to marry has made it hard for many men to be open about their sexual orientation and has led as many as 10 million to marry straight women just to placate their families, according to a state media estimate.

    But as companies realize the potential of the gay market base, new apps and products aimed at the gay community are emerging. Blued, a gay dating app that has been primarily used in Beijing, recently raised $30 million from a U.S. venture capital firm, according to Reuters. The app has attracted 15 million users in two years.

    For Valentine’s Day, Chinese online marketplace Taobao launched a publicity campaign called “We Do”, which sends gay couples to countries where same-sex marriage is legal.

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    GWEN IFILL: The escalating standoff between Greece and other members of the European Union showed little sign of abating today, prompting more questions about whether the country might soon run out of money, whether it would agree to continuing austerity cuts, or possibly leave the Eurozone altogether.

    The demand from the E.U. to Greece: Agree to an extension of a quarter-trillion-dollar bailout program by Friday, or risk losing assistance altogether.

    That is not something many Greek citizens want to hear.

    COSTAS SKLIROPOULOUS, Greece (through interpreter): I am angry with the logic of the European Union. Perhaps we should consider from now on how this country will acquire a different policy, one that could possibly be outside the frame of the European Union.

    GWEN IFILL: Still, some have called on the popular new left-wing government to rein in its resistance to what they have termed an ultimatum.

    GEORGE AVGERINOS, Greece (through interpreter): I would have liked them to be more serious from the very beginning. When you’re asking with your hand stretched out, you can’t have this attitude.

    GWEN IFILL: European nations have propped up Greek’s unsteady finances since 2010, in exchange for deep spending cuts. But with unemployment topping 25 percent and shrinking bank deposits, many who voted for the new government blame the austerity itself for the country’s economic ills.

    In Brussels today, the Greek finance minister, who campaigned on a promise to scrap the bailout, denounced a plan to extend it as absurd. But he didn’t rule out a deal.

    YANIS VAROUFAKIS, Finance Minister, Greece (through interpreter): Well, the next step is the responsible step. Europe will continue to deliberate in order to enhance the chances of, and actually achieve, a very good outcome for the average European

    GWEN IFILL: His German counterpart, speaking on behalf of the Eurozone, said Athens’ goal remains unclear.

    WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE, Finance Minister, Germany (through interpreter): Greece needs to decide whether they want the program or not. Nobody understands what Greece wants and if Greece knows what it wants.

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    President Obama Meets Defense Secretary Ashton Carter In The Oval Office

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: We now turn to that immigration decision handed down overnight.

    A federal judge in Texas temporarily froze President Obama’s latest executive orders on immigration, blocking them, as a legal challenge by two dozen states moves through the courts. The judge’s action centers on the steps the president initiated in November. At that time, he said he would waive deportation for an additional four million to five million people, some brought to the U.S. as children and others who are the undocumented parents of American citizens.

    Sign-ups for those waivers were supposed to begin tomorrow. But last night’s injunction halted that. In a strongly-worded opinion, Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas wrote that the president’s actions are — quote — “a massive change in immigration practice.”  But Hanen ruled largely on process, writing that the policy — quote — “should have undergone the notice-and-comment procedure,” essentially get 90 days of comments before going into effect.

    The Justice Department announced that it will appeal this decision. President Obama spoke today to reporters in the Oval Office, stating that the law and history are on his side.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I disagree with the Texas judge’s ruling. And the Justice Department will appeal. This is not the first time where a lower court judge has blocked something or attempted to block something that ultimately was shown to be lawful.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Joining me now to discuss exactly what this means and how it might impact the fight over funding and immigration on Capitol Hill are Stephen Legomsky, professor of law at Washington University in Saint Louis, and Alan Gomez. He’s an immigration reporter for USA Today based in Miami.

    And we welcome you both.

    Professor Legomsky, it’s our understanding the judge in this case didn’t rule on the merits of what the president did, but rather on a more narrow procedure in how this was carried out. Explain that.

    STEPHEN LEGOMSKY, Washington University School of Law: Yes, that’s correct, Judy.

    Under a statute called the Administrative Procedure Act, certain federal rules and policies have to go through a notice-and-comment process, as you were describing. The way it works is that the federal government issues a proposed version of this rule. Then the public has a chance to submit comments. The government evaluates those comments and then decides how best to proceed in the light of those comments.

    The issue here is that there is an exception to that procedure. It’s not required when all the government is doing is offering guidance as to how it proposes to exercise a discretionary power. The plaintiff states, for their part, are saying, we don’t believe that real discretion is being exercised. We think these decisions are likely to be rubber-stamped.

    The government for its part is saying, look, the secretary’s memo explicitly and repeatedly commands the officers on the ground to look at the facts of each individual case and to exercise discretion. And there is simply no reason or evidence to think that the officers are going to systematically disobey the secretary. And they also point out that there have been about 38,000 DACA denials so far, and including some examples where it was undone on…… of discretion.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s a — and that’s a reference to the applications for waivers from deportation.

    We know that another federal district court earlier ruled in favor of what the president did. Why does this ruling prevail then?

    STEPHEN LEGOMSKY: Well, the action by the district court for the District of Columbia, as you have pointed out, reached the opposite result.

    It simply refused to issue an injunction. So the result of that is that really nothing happened. This is actually positive action by this particular judge, and therefore, unless the decision is undone on appeal, the administration would have to comply with the notice-and-comment procedure that this judge has said was necessary.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Stephen Legomsky, the president himself said today that he’s going to — the administration is going to be appealing. We know they are going to appeal through the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, known to be a conservative court.

    What happens then? Do we have any sense of how long this could take? Do you expect it to go as high as the Supreme Court? What are the expectations?

    STEPHEN LEGOMSKY: Well, that’s a great question. It’s very hard to predict exactly.

    What the government can do once it files its appeal is, first of all, ask the court of appeals to temporarily stay, that is put on hold, the preliminary injunction that Judge Hanen ordered. And they can also ask the court to try to expedite its review.

    I think there are a couple reasons why it might want this expedited. One is that even though the cost of this program, the administrative processing cost will be paid for by the applicants themselves, there’s a cash flow issue. The government has the hire all these adjudicators. It has to train them. It has to acquire physical space, et cetera, before the revenue comes in. So they are going to want some indication that the program is actually going to fly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, let me — I want to — go ahead. Let me — I want the move on Alan Gomez now, who reports on the immigration issue regularly.

    Alan, what is the practical effect of this going to be on the immigrant community in this country?

    ALAN GOMEZ, USA Today: Well, the practical effect is that you have basically thousands of people who had their paperwork ready, their applications ready to go. They were ready to run tomorrow to the post office and start mailing these in to the Department of Homeland Security.

    And obviously they woke up to this news this morning. So there’s been a lot of — I have been talking with a lot of them today, a lot of just painful confusion throughout that community. Some of them are just sort of kind of giving up and saying, all right, this — we kind of figured something like this was going to happen, so they’re moving on, but a lot of them are really trying to get out the message that an appeals court could overturn this ruling, that this program can still go into effect at some point.

    So there’s a lot of advocacy going on today to urge them to continue to keep their paperwork, to continue getting ready, so that if and when that day comes when the program restarts, that they can go ahead and start jumping in right then.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, meantime — in the meantime, they’re truly in limbo here?

    ALAN GOMEZ: Absolutely.

    I mean, as one of them put it to me, we’re used to tough trails. We’re used to trust voyages, a lot of them kind of talking about those long treks that they made through the deserts and the mountains of the southwest border to get here. So, as they put it, oh, a couple legal hurdles isn’t that big of a deal.

    But, absolutely, it’s absolutely painful for a lot of them. There was a lot of tears shed around the country as they woke up to that news this morning. A lot of folks woke up in the middle of the night expecting this ruling and seeing it. And, so, yes, it’s really difficult for them to sort of — to get so close, to be one day away from being able to finally be legal, being able to finally go to work without having to worry about looking over your shoulder, and then all of a sudden it just gets taken away from them like this. So, yes, it’s been a rough day.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And just quickly, a question about where this leaves the political fight over immigration. We know in the Congress right now Republicans holding up funding for the Department of Homeland Security, they say, until the president withdraws these executive orders. The president saying, I’m not going to do that.

    Some Republicans today saying, well, maybe we back off and let this go through since the fight is now in the courts. Others disagree. What do you see happening on the political front?

    ALAN GOMEZ: Well, that’s — the Republicans are basically faced with a fascinating opportunity right now. They’re off this week, so they have got a few days to sort of get together and figure out what they are going to do.

    On the one hand, they can say, OK, look, this court has ruled that this — potentially, that this is a program that needs to be stopped, so we need to go further. We need to push harder to make sure that the president ends this program and that we use this funding bill to end it.

    But on the other hand, they can easily say, they have got some cover now, saying, all right, look, it looks like the courts are going to take care of this. At least we got one ruling that’s favorable to us, so now we can kind of pull out that — we can pull that out of the funding fight and just allow the Department of Homeland Security funding bill to move forward without risking a government shutdown, which is what we’re facing by February 27, when the department runs out of money.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it’s certainly gotten all of our attention. We will be watching very closely.

    Alan Gomez, Professor Stephen Legomsky, we thank you both.

    ALAN GOMEZ: Thank you.

    STEPHEN LEGOMSKY: Thank you.


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    JUDY WOODRUFF: A wintry blast has left hundreds of thousands of people without power in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern U.S. The Carolinas and Georgia bore the brunt of the outages after the region was covered with several inches of snow and ice. Snowplows were out in full force to clear the roads and highways.

    In Raleigh, North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory warned the hazardous conditions will last for several more days.

    GOV. PAT MCCRORY, (R) North Carolina: We will continue to see downed trees and power lines as they succumb to the weight of the ice. So that is a big concern down the — as the days and nights go ahead, is the ice on the power lines. And while we see some temperatures rise a few degrees above freezing this afternoon, these temperatures will drop below freezing tonight, causing our roads to refreeze.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Farther north, in the nation’s capital, the federal government was closed today after the area got up to six inches of snow overnight. The same storm system is now barreling up the East Coast, towards the already winter-weary residents of New England.

    GWEN IFILL: In West Virginia, officials launched an investigation into why a train loaded with over a hundred tankers full of crude oil derailed. A massive fireball rose hundreds of feet into the air after yesterday’s accident in Mount Carbon. The tracks may have been slippery from snowfall, but it’s not clear that caused the accident. Hundreds of families evacuated and two water treatment plants were forced to close.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. has changed its regulations on weapon sales and will allow armed military drones to be sold to friendly nations. The State Department announced the policy change today. Allies who buy the drones will have to agree not to use the unmanned aircraft illegally, for unlawful surveillance or against domestic populations.

    GWEN IFILL: Intelligence officials in Denmark admitted today they had received warnings about the suspected gunman in last weekend’s shootings in Copenhagen. They came from prison officials who said Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein was at risk of becoming radicalized while in jail last year. El-Hussein was killed in a shoot-out with police after he killed two people at a cultural center and synagogue.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The president of Egypt called on the U.N. to form a coalition and intervene in Libya to fight the threat of Islamic State militants there. The request comes after the terrorist group beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya.

    President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi made his plea during a recorded audio interview that aired in Egypt today.

    PRESIDENT ABDEL FATTAH AL-SISI, Egypt  (through interpreter): What is going on in Libya could change this country into a breeding ground that will threaten the whole region, and not only Egypt. Egypt, the Mediterranean Basin and Europe have to deal with this problem because the mission was unaccomplished, was unfinished by our European friends. We abandoned the Libyan people as prisoners to extremist militias.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.N. Security Council will meet for an emergency session in response to the crisis in Libya tomorrow.

    GWEN IFILL: In Syria today, a surprise attack on six villages brought government forces closer to their goal of taking back rebel-held neighborhoods in Aleppo. Parts of the country’s largest city have been in opposition control since 2012. More than 100 people died in heavy fighting on both sides. Late this afternoon, the Syrian envoy to the U.N. said now they’re willing to suspend the aerial bombardment of Aleppo for six weeks.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: A suicide attack killed at least 20 people today at a provincial police headquarters in Afghanistan. Four Taliban bombers stormed the heavily fortified compound about 40 miles south of Kabul. Local officials said they were dressed in Afghan police uniforms and detonated their explosives in several waves. Eight people were wounded.

    GWEN IFILL: In Haiti, the final day of Carnival celebrations was canceled after an accident on a float killed 16 people and injured 78 others. A singer on a parade float ran into electrical wires in the early morning hours, setting off a stampede by bystanders. Many of those killed were trampled to death.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Schools across Liberia began opening their doors this week to students, for the first time in six months. They were forced to close with the spread of the Ebola virus. The outbreak killed nearly 4,000 Liberians, but there are now only a handful of cases. Before students were allowed in, teachers explained how to protect against Ebola. Schoolchildren also had to rinse their hands and have their temperature checked.

    GWEN IFILL: On Wall Street today, stocks edged slightly higher as investors kept a wary eye on talks over Greece and its debt. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 28 points to close over 18000. The Nasdaq rose five points. And the S&P 500 added three points.


    The post News Wrap: W.Va. investigating what caused explosive oil train accident appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Thomas Hawk.

    Photo by Thomas Hawk.

    Editor’s Note: Journalist Philip Moeller, who writes widely on health and retirement, is here to provide the Medicare answers you need in “Ask Phil, the Medicare Maven.” Send your questions to Phil.


    Ask the Medicare Maven

    Medicare rules and private insurance plans can affect people differently depending on where they live. To make sure the answers here are as accurate as possible, Phil is working with the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). It is funded by the government but is otherwise independent and trains volunteers to provide consumer Medicare counseling in state and local offices around the country. The non-profit Medicare Rights Center is also providing on-going help.

    Moeller is a research fellow at the Center on Aging & Work at Boston College and co-author of “How to Live to 100.” Follow him on Twitter @PhilMoeller or e-mail him at medicarephil@gmail.com.

    Susan – N.Y.: I am 66, pretty healthy and take few medications. But those that I take are considered the highest tier in my drug plan and I now pay ridiculously more — hundreds of dollars each month — for my prescriptions than I did when I was on regular health insurance. Is there any help for me?

    Phil Moeller: These drug-plan tiers are one of the sneaky ways that health insurers exercise what amounts to bait-and-switch pricing tactics with consumers. They will never call it that, and the Maven may need to don a disguise when picking up his own prescription drugs. But many Medicare drug plans – both Part D and plans that are part of Medicare Advantage policies – offer very low premiums to get you in the door. Then they sock you with large deductibles and unappealing co-pays. Adding high-cost tiers to their drug formularies is yet another way health insurers are shifting costs back to Medicare beneficiaries. There, I feel better, but I haven’t helped Susan, have I?

    Assuming your claims are at least being approved by your insurer, one option is to ask your drug plan for what’s called a “tiering exception.” In this instance, you would request that one or more of your drugs be billed using lower cost-sharing ratios. Your doctor would need to be involved with the request, and show that other drugs on the plan’s formulary that are approved to treat the same condition didn’t work or had intolerable or unsafe side-effects for you, or are likely to because of your unique medical situation. Unfortunately, drugs characterized as “specialty tier” cannot qualify for the tiering exception.

    If your income and assets are limited, let someone at the New York SHIP see if you will qualify for the Extra Help program for prescription drugs. And if you get no relief from that, you may be able to apply to the manufacturer for assistance. Two places that offer help here are the Partnership for Drug Assistance and NeedyMeds.

    It may be only a small consolation but there is what amounts to a cap on your out-of-pocket drug expenses. Unfortunately, to get there you will first have to go through the dreaded Medicare coverage gap or, as it’s more commonly known, the donut hole. It kicks in this year after your total drug expenses have hit $2,960. This includes what your drug plan has spent plus your own spending. Once your total out-of-pocket spending has hit $4,700 you’ll be out of the gap and will face only small drug payments the rest of the year.

    Within the coverage gap, however, you will be on the hook for 45 percent of branded drug costs and 35 percent of generics. Also, while you pay only 45 percent of the cost of brand drugs, 95 percent of the cost will be credited to you as an out-of-pocket expense in meeting donut-hole rules. For generic drugs, only what you pay will be credited toward your out-of-pocket spending. The donut hole is shrinking each year under provisions of the Affordable Care Act, but it’s still a most unpleasant surprise to Medicare beneficiaries with expensive drug needs.

    This fall, make sure you aggressively shop all Medicare drug plans that will be available to you in 2016. Use Medicare’s Plan Finder to create a list of your prescription drugs. Then, see what these drugs will cost you in these plans. Hopefully, you will be able to find a better deal than you did this year.

    Richard – Mich.: I am retired, receiving Social Security, and will be turning 65 in the spring. I am also a veteran, and enrolled in the VA Health Benefits program this past year. I keep hearing about all these penalties and higher premiums outside of Medicare if one doesn’t initially sign up. Should I enter into an additional plan initially just to avoid future additional costs (if I were to opt out of the VA program at some future point), or should I decline now and try to remain with the VA for as long as possible?

    Phil Moeller: This is a great question and affects many veterans. Strong and responsive VA programs are the least we can do for our veterans. And there are some terrific VA benefits, such as over-the-counter drugs and hearing aids, that the VA covers and Medicare generally does not. Plus, the VA is unsurpassed in its experience in war-related injuries and traumas.

    But as the recent scandal involving the widespread denial of care and even appointments illustrates, the VA is not at this time a single source of medical help that veterans should rely on. Until it has improved, I cannot recommend that you limit your care options only to VA facilities. Also, there may be situations where the VA doesn’t cover your needs but Medicare will.

    For these reasons, I’d enroll in basic Medicare (here’s our primer) to preserve your rights to seek care outside the VA system should you need it. If you have problems affording Medicare premiums, check out Medicare Savings Programs to see if they can help. Medicare and VA benefits do not “work” together. This means that Medicare will not pay for any health care services, including drugs, provided by or through a VA facility. Likewise, VA will only pay for what it provides, which excludes what you’d get from non-VA providers.

    However, if your VA facilities are convenient to you, you might consider holding off on signing up for a Medicare drug plan. VA’s drug plan is considered creditable coverage under Medicare rules, meaning that it is at least as good as a Medicare drug plan. Thus, it should meet your needs. If it turns out it does not, the fact that the VA plan is deemed creditable coverage means you would face no late-enrollment penalty for waiting to get a Medicare drug plan. You would face such a penalty if you did not sign up for Part B of Medicare and later changed your mind. The penalty would raise your Part B premiums by 10 percent for each year you delayed coverage, and these higher premiums would never go away.

    Colleen – Mich.: Is it true that Medicare won’t cover medical care from a car accident?

    Phil Moeller: That’s not true. Medicare is available to help, although the program may take steps to make sure it’s not paying for things that should be covered by your auto insurance policy or that of another driver if they were at fault in the accident.

    In most cases, these auto insurance policies will be the primary payers. If there are medical bills that liability or auto insurance won’t cover, or won’t cover in a timely manner, Medicare might pay primary on those claims. You should talk with your health care provider about billing Medicare as the “conditional” primary payer. In this situation, Medicare will pay expenses so that you don’t have to pay them yourself, and will later work to recover its funds from other insurers. Medicare may send you a letter asking you to identify any other insurance that may have accepted liability for the accident. The Medicare Benefits Coordination and Recovery Center (BCRC) oversees these matters, and can be reached at 1-855-798-2627 (1-855-797-2627 for the hearing and speech impaired).

    The post Look out for Medicare drug plans’ bait-and-switch pricing tactics appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. President Barack Obama spoke at the Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford University on Feb. 13, 2015. Obama is calling for a public debate on data encryption following the recent hacking of companies like Target and Sony. Photo by Kevin Lamarque /REUTERS

    U.S. President Barack Obama, pictured here speaking at the Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford University on Feb. 13, 2015, is convening a summit on Wednesday hoping to launch a broad effort against violent extremism. Photo by Kevin Lamarque /REUTERS

    WASHINGTON — The summit President Barack Obama is convening Wednesday on the threat of violent extremism is not the summit he envisioned.

    Planned for last October, the summit never happened before the midterm elections. In the months since, the situation has just gotten worse, with the Islamic State group metastasizing and European cities learning firsthand that extremism’s reach is not confined to the Middle East.

    “In just a very short period of time we’ve come a long way in terrorist organizations’ ability to communicate,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday as he opened the second day of the three-day event. “They have the ability to reach into our communities and attempt to recruit and inspire individuals who may turn toward violence right here in the homeland.”

    As crises boil over in Yemen and Libya, Obama is asking Congress to take a tough vote backing his military plan to defeat IS extremists in Iraq and Syria. But U.S. military action has so far proven the wrong tool to combat a robust social media and propaganda operation whose success at recruiting fighters and jihadists from western communities like Denver and Chicago has been alarmingly impressive.

    With that threat in mind, Obama is hoping to concentrate the world’s focus on the need to combat the underlying ideologies that entice otherwise modern individuals — including many disaffected youth — to behead a non-believer, kidnap a schoolgirl or shoot up a synagogue. During the three-day conference, Obama is working to highlight local models for preventing radicalization that could be replicated in other communities.

    “Groups like al-Qaida and ISIL exploit the anger that festers when people feel that injustice and corruption leave them with no chance of improving their lives,” Obama wrote in an op-ed article Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times. “The world has to offer today’s youth something better.”

    The White House finally put a date on the calendar for the summit last month, in the wake of a shooting at a Paris newspaper that shook Europe to attention and earlier attacks in Canada and Australia. In the weeks since, Obama and top U.S. officials have sought to portray the U.S. as at a lower risk because of what they call an American tradition of making immigrants feel like full members of their new society.

    “We haven’t always gotten it right,” Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday as he opened the summit. “But we have a lot of experience integrating communities into the American system, the American dream.”

    Obama’s keynote speech to the summit Wednesday afternoon will follow a series of speeches and panels examining the links between extremism and faith, gender, the Internet and the private sector. Leaders from local communities will present so-called “pilot programs” they’ve put in place in Los Angeles, Boston and Minneapolis.

    Although the White House has gone to great lengths to avoid linking the campaign directly to Islamic extremism, it comes as the U.S. seeks to enlist other, mostly Arab or Muslim nations to join together to rid places like Yemen, Nigeria and Iraq of militant groups claiming adherence to rigid interpretations of Islam.

    The U.S. is not the only country pushing anew for deeper involvement from the rest of the world in preventing the spread of extremist groups. After IS militants in Libya beheaded a group of Egyptian Christians in a video released this week, Cairo is pressing the United Nations to approve a new coalition for airstrikes. The U.N. Security Council was to meet Wednesday in an emergency session on Libya.

    On Thursday, Obama will speak at the State Department, where representatives of some 60 countries are scheduled to meet. The White House declined to release a list of attendees in advance, suggesting the U.S. was still working to secure support and participation, but representatives from the United Kingdom, Jordan, France, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait were expected to attend.

    The post Obama to call for joint efforts against violent extremism at summit appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker walks off the stage after speaking at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa on January 24, 2015.  Photo by Jim Young and Reuters.

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker walks off the stage after speaking at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa on January 24, 2015. Photo by Jim Young and Reuters.

    The Morning Line

    Today in the Morning Line:

  • Scott Walker doesn’t have a college degree. Should anyone care?
  • Nine presidents — two on Mount Rushmore — didn’t have college degrees
  • But just one president in the last 114 years didn’t have one
  • How Walker’s lack of a degree might actually help in a primary
  • College’: Jeb Bush’s speech on foreign-policy will get the 2016 attention today, and we noted yesterday that Bush at some point needs to show how his handling would be different than his brother’s. But the other story that continues to get buzz on the presidential trail is the fact that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker does not have a college degree. Liberals have tried to draw a line between Walker’s lack of a degree and his slashing of funds for higher education in the state. But how much does having a college degree matter? And will the fight help or hurt Walker? (By the way, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree, either, but does have a medical degree from Duke — yes, you can do that — inexplicably referred twice in one day to his “biology degree.” That sparked the Washington Post’s Fact Checker to call him out.)

    Walker’s not alone: For the record, nine presidents have been elected without a degree — George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, and Harry Truman. Two of them, you’ll notice — Washington and Lincoln — are on Mount Rushmore. The last elected without a degree, though, was Truman in 1948. He is the only one, by the way, in the last 114 years. Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964 was the last to be a major party nominee without one. Democrat Paul Simon in 1988 was the last major candidate for president without a college degree.

    So does any of this matter? Walker was 34 credits short of his degree at Marquette when he left. That’s at least a year of full-time work — not just a couple classes. His reason? “I kept thinking I’d go back, got married, had one kid, had another kid, next thing you know… you’re worrying more about paying for your kids’ college education than you are for your own,” he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last year. As hard as it might be to believe for the intelligentsia, some 60 percent of Americans actually say they do not have a bachelor’s, associate’s or college certificate. But views have changed about the importance of a degree. Gallup found that 70 percent said a a degree is “very important,” while 23 percent said it’s just “fairly important.” That’s a switch from the late 1970s when a plurality — 46 percent — said it was just “fairly important” and just 36 percent said it was “very important.”

    Gallup college

    Walker will ultimately be judged on his record: Of course, that has to do with how jobs and industry have changed. It’s much more important to have a college degree today than it was a generation ago, because factory jobs have been reduced or outsourced, manufacturing doesn’t pay as well, and vocational training has been decreased. Clearly, Walker was able to get a job and be successful, rising to governor in his home state. His lack of a degree might even help him in a GOP primary. He can use his attempt at changing the University of Wisconsin’s focus from the “Wisconsin Idea” to “workforce needs” and any kind of lefty critique of it or his not having a degree to paint a picture of himself as an anti-elitist, who didn’t need a fancy degree to make it. It’s kind of the anti-Obama, anti-academic. Instead of a “contemplator,” he’d be a “common-sense fighter.” In a general election, though, Walker’s lack of a degree could hurt with some; they might question his depth and willingness to dive into important issues and ask why he chooses some of the fights he does. It’s a gambit Walker is willing to play to get through a primary and then point to the fact that he has won in a blue state. Ultimately, Walker will be judged on his record as governor and what his policy proposals are. That will be good enough for some and too controversial for others.

    Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1861, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was inaugurated in Montgomery, Alabama. Who is the only U.S. President to have served in the Confederate Congress? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Claire M. Steen ‏(@BearLoves14) for guessing Tuesday’s trivia: Which Chinese leader did Nixon meet with during his trip? The answer: Mao Zedong.


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    Miss P, a 15-inch Beagle who won "Best in Show", stands near the winner's trophy at 139th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 17, 2015. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    Miss P, a 15-inch Beagle who won “Best in Show”, stands near the winner’s trophy at 139th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 17, 2015. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    A beagle named Miss P won the 139th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Tuesday night, the second of its breed to take the title in the past decade.

    The 15-inch contender triumphed over six rivals, including Swagger, an Old English sheepdog, Liz, an English Springer Spaniel, and Rocket, a shih tzu that is co-owned by Patty Hearst.

    Miss P even managed to surpass Matisse, a Portuguese water dog that has amassed a staggering 238 best-in-show wins, the Associated Press reported. Miss P has 20 wins to her name.

    Charlie, a Skye terrier finished second. Terriers have a storied history at Westminster, earning the title 46 times. A wire fox terrier won last year.

    Miss P, who represented the hound group, is related to Uno, who took the Best in Show trophy in 2008. The greying Uno spent his post-victory days on a ranch outside of Austin, Texas.

    Miss P’s owner, Eddie Dziuk, has said the four-year-old beagle is, beyond Tuesday night, destined for motherhood. Before then, Miss P will embark on a media tour on Wednesday, starting with rounds on morning TV shows.

    The two-day event was held at Madison Square Garden and is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the United States, after the Kentucky Derby.

    The post Miss P’s Westminster win claims second Best in Show for a beagle appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    NASA's Dawn spacecraft captured these two views of Ceres on Feb. 12, 2015, from a distance of about 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) as the dwarf planet rotated. The images have been magnified from their original size. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

    NASA’s Dawn spacecraft captured these two views of Ceres on Feb. 12, 2015, from a distance of about 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) as the dwarf planet rotated. The images have been magnified from their original size. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

    Years into its mission to survey the asteroid belt, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft traveled through deep space to better understand the dwarf planet Ceres. Now within 52,000 miles of the celestial body, Dawn’s latest images still leave scientists baffled about Ceres’ bright white spots.

    “As we slowly approach the stage, our eyes transfixed on Ceres and her planetary dance, we find she has beguiled us, but left us none the wiser,” Chris Russel, lead investigator of the Dawn mission, said in a statement released Monday. “We expected to be surprised; we did not expect to be this puzzled.”

    Dawn’s latest high-resolution images were taken on Feb. 12, 2015. They are sharper than any of the fuzzy ones the Hubble Space Telescope captured in 2004, but they don’t lead scientists to any robust hypothesis for the composition of the dwarf planet, which is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

    Russell told the NewsHour on Tuesday that the bright spots on Ceres have remained a mystery as Dawn floats closer and closer.

    “[The spots] aren’t breaking up into any structure, they’re not giving us any clues to what it is,” he said. “The craters and structures on the surface aren’t coming into focus either … [Ceres] is sort of just staying hidden from our eyes, more than I had expected it to be.”

    The 590-mile wide spherical body is as large as Texas and is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn previously studied the protoplanet Vesta, the second-largest object in the belt, in 2011.

    Russell said scientists are turning their attention to bodies like Vesta and Ceres because they have the same basic processes, such as earthquakes and mountain building, seen on much more complex bodies like Earth.

    “We’re taking a look at baby planets, simple planets, that will help us understand the formation of larger planets better because of the basic physics we’re seeing,” Russell said.

    Dawn is scheduled to enter Ceres’ orbit on March 6, hopefully allowing the spacecraft to get an even better view of the dwarf planet’s surface.

    The post Mysterious bright spots on dwarf planet puzzling NASA scientists appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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