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

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    The logo of the Department of Homeland Security is seen at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington, DC, February 25, 2015. House democrats see the GOP's security strategy as a political blunder. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

    House Speaker John Boehner says that the House of Representatives will vote as early as today on a bill to fully fund the Department of Homeland Security. The bill would not include any language to roll back President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — In a major victory for President Barack Obama, the Republican-led House relented on Tuesday and will back legislation to fund the Homeland Security Department through the end of the budget year, without restrictions on immigration.

    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, outlined the dwindling options for his deeply divided GOP caucus on Tuesday morning after the Senate left the House with little choice. Boehner pointed out that the issue is now in the hands of the courts.

    “I am as outraged and frustrated as you at the lawless and unconstitutional actions of this president,” Boehner told his caucus, according to aides. “I believe this decision – considering where we are – is the right one for this team, and the right one for this country.”

    Conservatives had demanded that the funding bill roll back Obama’s immigration directives from last fall. He signed orders sparing millions of immigrants from deportation. Democrats had insisted on legislation to fund the department, which shares responsibility for anti-terrorism operations, without any conditions.

    The GOP leadership’s decision angered several conservatives.

    “This is the signal of capitulation,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. “The mood of this thing is such that to bring it back from the abyss is very difficult.”

    But more pragmatic Republicans welcomed Boehner’s move.

    “Sanity is prevailing. I do give John Boehner credit,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.

    A vote could occur as early as Tuesday. Short-term funding for the department expires on Friday at midnight.

    A federal court ruling has temporarily blocked the administration from implementing the new immigration rules. The administration has appealed the decision and the ultimate result of the legal challenge is unknown.

    Passage of the stand-alone spending bill would seal the failure of a Republican strategy designed to make Homeland Security funding contingent on concessions from Obama. The department, which has major anti-terrorism responsibilities, is also responsible for border control.

    Whatever the final result of the struggle, controversy over the legislation has produced partisan gridlock in the first several weeks of the new Congress, though Republicans gained control of the Senate last fall and won more seats in the House than at any time in 70 years.

    Even so, Democratic unity blocked passage in the Senate of House-passed legislation with the immigration provisions. By late last week, a split in House GOP ranks brought the department to the brink of a partial shutdown. That was averted when Congress approved a one-week funding bill that Obama signed into law only moments before a midnight Friday deadline.

    The post House to vote on fully funding Department of Homeland Security appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a town hall meeting to discuss the release of the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, “Leading Through Civilian Power,” with Department of State employees December 15, 2010 at the State Department in Washington,DC.   KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

    Hillary Clinton’s use of her personal email as secretary of state may make government document archival efforts, required by law, more difficult. Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

    WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton used a personal email account during her time as secretary of state, rather than a government-issued email address, potentially hampering efforts to archive official government documents required by law.

    Clinton’s office said nothing was illegal or improper about her use of the non-government account and that she believed her business emails to State Department and other .gov accounts would be archived in accordance with government rules.

    “Like secretaries of state before her, she used her own email account when engaging with any department officials,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said. “For government business, she emailed them on their department accounts, with every expectation they would be retained. When the department asked former secretaries last year for help ensuring their emails were in fact retained, we immediately said ‘yes.'”

    “Both the letter and spirit of the rules permitted State Department officials to use non-government email, as long as appropriate records were preserved,” he said.

    Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the agency asked former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Clinton last year for records that should be preserved. In response to that request, Clinton provided emails from the personal account that she used during her time as the nation’s top diplomat in President Barack Obama’s first term from 2009 to 2013. However, she also said that the department has “long had access to a wide array” of Clinton’s records, including emails sent between her and officials with an official state.gov email address.

    Harf says Clinton’s successor, John Kerry, is the first secretary of state to primarily use an official state.gov email account and that the department is now updating its records preservation policies to bring them in line with current regulations. That includes regularly archiving all of Kerry’s emails.

    Among the messages Clinton provided were 300 that met the criteria for a request for relevant emails from the House Select Committee investigating the September 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomat mission in Benghazi, Libya, Harf said. Those emails have been turned over to the committee, she added.

    Clinton’s use of a personal email account while secretary of state was first reported by The New York Times.

    The post Clinton’s use of personal email as secretary of state may encumber archiving efforts appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Gary Camera/Reuters

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a speech to Congress on Tuesday morning, warned that current negotiations with Iran would allow the country to pursue nuclear weapons. Photo by Gary Camera/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — In a speech that stirred political intrigue in two countries, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress on Tuesday that negotiations underway between Iran and the United States would “all but guarantee” that Tehran will get nuclear weapons, a step that the world must avoid at all costs.

    “Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted,” no matter what it says about permitting verification of the terms of any accord designed to prevent it from getting such weapons, he said.

    “The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons,” he said in remarks before a packed House chamber.

    Netanyahu spoke shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry met for more than two hours in Switzerland with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in hopes of completing an international framework agreement later this month to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

    The Israeli leader’s appeal also came two weeks before elections in which he is seeking a new term — and after the invitation to address Congress extended by House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, triggered a political furor in the United States. More than four dozen House and Senate Democrats said in advance they would not attend the event, a highly unusual move given historically close ties between the two allies.

    The White House expressed its displeasure with the appearance by word and deed, dispatching Vice President Joe Biden on an overseas trip that meant he did not fill his customary seat behind the House rostrum during the speech. Nor did Netanyahu meet at the White House with Obama on his trip to the United States.

    The prime minister was greeted with a roaring welcome as he walked down the same center aisle of the House chamber that presidents tread before their annual State of the Union speeches.

    He also sought to smooth over any political unpleasantness, thanking Obama lavishly for the help he has given Israel since he became president. In a grace note, he took a moment to mention Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who is back at work after suffering an eye injury in an accident at home.

    At the same time, Netanyahu was unrelenting in his condemnation of the negotiations the administration is conducting with Tehran.

    He said that with the concessions the United States was prepared to make Iran would not only gain nuclear weapons, but also eventually would become free of international economic sanctions. As a result, he said, it would be emboldened to finance even more terrorism around the Middle East and the world.

    The result for Iran, he said, would be “aggression abroad and prosperity at home.”

    Instead, he said that if Iran wants to be “treated like a normal country, it ought to behave like a normal country.”

    Aron Heller and Deb Riechmann of the Associated Press wrote this report.

    The post Netanyahu: Deal would ‘all but guarantee’ nuclear weapons for Iran appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Obama talks to reporters after meeting with Carter in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t offer any “viable alternatives” to the nuclear negotiations with Iran during his speech to Congress.

    Obama says he read a transcript of Netanyahu’s speech Tuesday. He says “there was nothing new” in the speech.

    Obama says Netanyahu made almost the same speech when he warned against the interim deal reached with Iran. Obama says that deal has resulted in a freeze and rolling back of Iran’s nuclear program.

    Obama says Netanyahu’s alternative to the talks amounts to no deal at all. He says that would lead Iran to redouble efforts to build a nuclear bomb.

    In his speech, Netanyahu said the deal would all but guarantee that Iran gets nuclear weapons.

    Obama spoke in the Oval Office alongside Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

    The post President Obama says Netanyahu speech offered no ‘viable alternatives’ with Iran appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    WASHINGTON — A Justice Department investigation will allege sweeping patterns of discrimination within the Ferguson, Missouri, police department and at the municipal jail and court, law enforcement officials familiar with the report said Tuesday.

    The report, which could be released as soon as Wednesday, will charge that police disproportionately use excessive force against blacks and that black drivers are stopped and searched far more often than white motorists, even though they’re less likely to be carrying contraband.

    The Justice Department also found that blacks were 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by a municipal court judge, and that from April to September of last year, 95 percent of people kept at the city jail for more than two days were black, according to the officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record before the report is made public.

    The Justice Department began the civil rights investigation following the August shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, by a white police officer. That killing set off weeks of protests.

    The officials say the report will allege direct evidence of racial bias among police officers and court workers and detail a criminal justice system that prioritizes generating revenue over public safety.

    Among the findings of the report was a racially tinged 2008 message in a municipal email account stating that President Barack Obama would not be president for very long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”

    The department has conducted roughly 20 broad civil rights investigations of police departments during the tenure of Attorney General Eric Holder, including Cleveland, Newark, New Jersey and Albuquerque. Most of those investigations end with the police department agreeing to changes its practices.

    The post Official says Justice Department found racial bias within Ferguson law enforcement appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

    Photo by John Moore/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.

    Experts in the employment industry — also known as personnel or human resources managers — know little if anything about the work you do. Their training is in personnel administration. So is it any surprise that, when you apply for a job, they spend all their time trying to get you to focus on the work they do?

    • Filling out forms
    • Checking off your keywords
    • Checking your salary history
    • Listing your references
    • Talking about employment regulations
    • Discussing benefits
    • Calculating how long you had your last job
    • Interviewing internal candidates ahead of you

    Oh, there are some good HR workers out there. You know them when you meet them. But the majority are personnel jockeys. They ride the applicant databases and the personnel processes. And they get between you and a job like nothing else. (See “News Flash! HR Causes Talent Shortage!”)

    As far as they are concerned, personnel is a science unto itself. That’s what they specialize in. The work you do is foreign to them, and almost irrelevant.

    The fact that computer programmers don’t work in the personnel office, screening and selecting the best resumes of computer programmers, should really, really worry you.

    That’s why human resources people can work one day for an insurance company, and the next for a chemical company. That’s why an employment agency places secretaries one minute, production workers the next, and computer programmers after that. The job does not matter; the job description does. The fact that computer programmers don’t work in the personnel office, screening and selecting the best resumes of computer programmers, should really, really worry you.

    It almost doesn’t matter to the personnel jockey how an applicant does a job, as long as the applicant fits the job description. The process matters most, and the process is a numbers game. If enough applicants can be crammed into the process, one or two good ones will eventually come out. The less accurate the personnel jockey is, the more applicants he has to process. This creates more work for him, and that makes his job secure.

    Whether they do it consciously or not, personnel jockeys get the job hunter to buy into this system because they convince you that they are in charge. They are the doctor. You are the patient. You should do as you’re told, and don’t ask too many questions “or we cannot continue to process your application.”

    These “experts” have become a part of the infrastructure that daily distracts you from the all-important goal of your job search: the job. Personnel jockeys encourage you to read all the postings, contribute to the mass of resumes in companies’ applicant tracking systems, wait for their call and, finally, parade yourself in front of them along with hundreds of other souls so they can interview you.

    But they don’t want you to talk to the hiring manager before you submit a resume or go to an interview. They want you isolated and they want you under control. (See “Ten Stupid Hiring Mistakes.”)

    Think I’m a bit over the top in my criticism of this system? Then try this reality check.

    When was the last time a personnel jockey sent you a written job description before he interviewed you? He required your resume, didn’t he? Isn’t it a little odd that a company wants to know all about you in advance of the interview, but sees no reason to tell you anything of substance about the job, so you can prepare properly for your meeting?

    Isn’t it odder still that, if you pass the personnel jockey screening, and they schedule your meeting with the hiring manager, personnel doesn’t send you the resume of the manager you would be working for?

    You’re required to show up blind. That’s because personnel jockeys don’t worry about jobs. They worry about the process.

    Any manager who is serious about hiring a good worker wants a job candidate to know as much as possible before the interview, because he only wants to meet workers who are prepared and ready to do the job. But in most companies, managers are not supposed to communicate with candidates until well into the hiring process. The personnel jockeys forbid it.

    The manager’s initial contribution to candidate selection is to fill out a job description form and submit it to a personnel jockey. But that document will never make it into the hands of the candidate, either before or after the interview. In many cases, the job description is “company confidential.”

    Who do you think is interested in hiding that job description? Not the hiring manager!

    This may sound like quite an attack on America’s personnel system. Well, it is an attack. Very few personnel jockeys care as much about you and the job as the hiring manager does. The impact this profession has on your ability to find a new job is immense. Sit up and take notice, and understand how the personnel system interferes with matching you to a job.

    Dear Readers: How does the personnel system work for you? Please share your stories, positive or negative — and your advice about how to beat it.

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

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

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

    The post Ask the Headhunter: The biggest roadblock in the hiring process appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Two major air carriers have issued policies saying they will no longer carry rechargeable batteries in their cargo areas because of the risk of explosions and fire these devices hold. Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images.

    Two major air carriers have issued policies saying they will no longer carry rechargeable batteries in their cargo areas because of the risk of explosions and fire these devices hold. Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images.

    WASHINGTON — Two major U.S airlines say they will no longer accept rechargeable battery shipments as new government tests confirm that explosions and violent fires are likely to occur when large numbers of batteries enclosed in cargo containers overheat.

    Tests conducted last month by the Federal Aviation Administration show that rechargeable batteries, also called lithium-ion batteries, consistently emit explosive gases when they overheat or short-circuit, The Associated Press has learned. In the recent tests, as well as other FAA tests last year, the buildup of gases — primarily hydrogen — led to fierce explosions.

    An FAA video of one of the tests obtained by the AP shows an explosion knocking a cargo container door off its hinges and tossing boxes of batteries into the air. The container was engulfed in fire minutes later.

    In the test, a cartridge heater was used to simulate a single battery overheating. The heater caused nearby batteries to overheat and the short-circuiting spread to many of the nearly 5,000 batteries in the container. It’s common for tens of thousands of batteries to be placed in a single container.

    Citing safety concerns, United Airlines on Monday informed its cargo customers it will no longer accept bulk shipments of the batteries, which are used to power everything from smartphones to laptops to power tools.

    Delta Air Lines quietly stopped accepting bulk shipments of the rechargeable batteries on Feb. 1. The airline said in a statement that it took the action in response to government testing and concerns raised by its pilots and flight attendants.

    A third major U.S. carrier, American Airlines, stopped accepting some types of lithium-ion battery shipments on Feb. 23. But the airline is continuing to accept small packages of batteries grouped together or “overpacked” into a single cargo container. Those are the kinds of shipments that the FAA has been testing and that are a greater safety concern.

    All three airlines said they will continue to accept bulk shipments of equipment containing batteries or in which batteries are placed in the same package as equipment. Placing batteries inside equipment like laptops or in the same package as power tools creates additional buffering and is believed to provide added protection, although safety experts say that theory hasn’t been fully tested.

    The decisions by United and Delta airlines could put pressure on other international carriers to refuse battery shipments or appear indifferent to safety.

    “I think it will cause everybody to take a look at their policies and procedures as far as carrying that cargo, and many will elect not to,” said John Goglia, a former National Transportation Safety Board member and aviation safety expert.

    Airline industry analyst Robert W. Mann said, “It’s only a matter of time before a really serious event occurs.”

    Airlines “are essentially just trying to avoid that occurrence,” he said.

    Temperatures in some of the government testing reached nearly 1,100 degrees. An airliner might be able to withstand a fire generated by a small number of lithium-ion batteries, but a fire involving lots of them could destroy the plane, according to a slide presentation by Airbus engineer Paul Rohrbach. The presentation was an industry position reflecting the views of other aircraft manufacturers as well as Airbus, according to the company.

    U.S. and international officials have been slow to adopt safety restrictions that might affect the powerful industries that depend on the batteries. About 4.8 billion lithium-ion cells were manufactured in 2013, and production is forecast to reach 8 billion a year by 2025. A battery contains two or more cells.

    Lithium batteries dominate the global battery industry because they’re cheap to make, lightweight and can hold a lot more energy than other types of batteries.

    Cargo airlines are continuing to transport the batteries even though they are believed to have either caused or contributed to fires that destroyed two Boeing 747 freighters in recent years, killing their pilots. The pilots of a third freighter managed to escape after landing in Philadelphia, but that plane was also destroyed.

    UPS recently completed a round of tests on a shipping container that was adjusted to allow gases to escape while continuing to contain a battery fire. The company was encouraged by the results of the tests, said UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot.

    U.S. regulators’ hands are tied by a 2012 law that Congress enacted in response to industry lobbying. It prohibits the government from issuing regulations regarding battery shipments that are any more stringent than standards approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency, unless an international investigative agency can show the batteries ignited a fire that destroyed an aircraft. That’s difficult, since in the three cases thus far in which batteries are suspected of causing fires, the planes were too damaged to determine the source of the blaze.

    The post 2 airlines ban rechargeable batteries from cargo appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    TSA Officers Work As Homeland Security Shutdown Nears Amid Immigration Impasse

    WASHINGTON — Congress is sending President Barack Obama a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through the end of the budget year, without overturning the president’s immigration policies.

    The House on Tuesday voted 257-167 for the measure that Obama is expected to sign. Without action, funding for the department would have expired Friday at midnight.

    The outcome was a victory for Obama and Democrats, and a defeat for the GOP strategy of trying to overturn Obama’s executive actions on immigration by linking them to funding for Homeland.

    Republicans were unable to overcome united opposition from Senate Democrats to their strategy. They also suffered embarrassing internal divisions that left the country within hours of a partial agency shutdown last week.

    The post Congress sends White House a plan to fund Homeland Security appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Rally Held in Ferguson Over Police Killing Of Michael Brown

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    GWEN IFILL: Now to a much-awaited report from the Justice Department.

    After a months-long investigation following the fatal shooting of African- American teenager Michael Brown, the Department of Justice has found what it calls a pattern of racial bias and civil rights abuses by Ferguson, Missouri, police.

    The NewsHour has confirmed Attorney General Eric Holder could announce the findings as soon as Wednesday, among them, African-Americans, who are roughly two-thirds of the population in Ferguson, made up 92 percent of peace disturbance charges. And once charged with an offense, they were 68 percent less likely than others to have charges dismissed.

    Here to discuss the disparities, we’re joined by Justin Hansford, a professor at Saint Louis University School of Law, and Paul Butler, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center.

    Paul Butler, is this what we mean when we talk about racial profiling?

    PAUL BUTLER, Georgetown University Law Center: Indeed, it is.

    What the department has found is that the Ferguson police treat African-Americans differently at every level. They’re arrested more. They get more tickets. They even are bitten by dogs more. One of the most revealing statistics is that, of the 15 times Ferguson police dogs have bitten people, they have all been African-Americans.

    Why are they doing this? We know now arrests of African-Americans are basically creating this slush fund. So there are all these court fees, penalties, fines. Twenty percent of the revenue of Ferguson comes from these selective arrests of African-Americans, more than any other revenue, other than sales tax.

    GWEN IFILL: Justin Hansford, you have been following this very closely in Saint Louis. Is this something — these findings, do they surprise you? And is this something that you think the federal government is in a position to intervene to prevent?

    JUSTIN HANSFORD, Saint Louis University School of Law: No, receiving these findings is sort of like receiving a finding telling us that water is wet.

    So we live in this community. We have experienced all of these situations firsthand. I myself have been targeted for arrest and have been someone who has been a victim of racial profiling in Ferguson. So we’re not surprised.

    I think the federal government’s decision to take an initiative — take the initiative to intervene in this case is really symbolic. When I went to the United Nations with Mike Brown’s parents, Ferguson became, in the eyes of the world, shorthand for racial intolerance in the United States all around the world.

    And this is a symbolic measure. Look, there are 18,000 police departments around the country, and this is just one of them. And so a piecemeal approach — piecemeal approach is not going to do a great deal to change reality for the majority of African-Americans in this country or even in this region, where the Ferguson Police Department only serves about 20,000 residents.

    So I think we’re looking at this as not a solution, but as a symbolic gesture that does help to establish the norm that racial profiling and predatory policing that targets communities in order to profit is something that is unethical and shouldn’t be tolerated.

    GWEN IFILL: Professor Butler, how — make the connection for us. Just because a department, a police department, is guilty of racial bias, say, or even of Telling bad and racist jokes and sending e-mails, as this report finds, around the department, what’s the connection between that kind of behavior and what he calls predatory policing? Why is there a connection between these two things?

    PAUL BUTLER: So, this is part of a pattern and practice, is what the Justice Department found.

    This kind of lawsuit came out of the Rodney King case, when there was a concern that police officers were not being held accountable for using deadly force or excessive force against African-Americans. And, in fact, in a number of cities that have been subject to these kinds of cases, there have been real changes that have been made.

    So, typically, what happens is, Ferguson has two choices now. They can enter into some kind of consent, that is, some kind of negotiated settlement, or they can risk being sued by the Department of Justice.

    GWEN IFILL: But I’m talking about something more basic. How do you draw the line between the behavior and the actions? The report says this is the behavior. How do you then say, this results, as a result, in abusive policing?

    PAUL BUTLER: Yes, so you look at the culture of the police.

    You know, a lot of people don’t think that police officers actually treat African-Americans differently. So this is conclusive evidence that they do. So then the question is, how do you change that culture? What happens with these consent decrees is, there are policies that are put in effect about things like when to use deadly force, about how to deal with mentally ill people, about a civilian oversight of these police departments.

    So, the change really has to come from the culture.

    GWEN IFILL: Professor Hansford, how does one go about enforcing this sort of change? It’s one thing for the Justice Department release a report and say, voila, we have now found evidence of this kind of treatment, but then how do they go about stopping it?

    JUSTIN HANSFORD: Well, in the case of Ferguson, I am sure there are ongoing negotiations with the police chief to decide how they’re going to move forward.

    But I think the larger question is, as a society, are we going to be able to rethink what policing means for us going forward in the 21st century? Are we going to take a piecemeal approach? Are we going to pass something like a broad omnibus bill and racial profiling act, Black Lives Matter Act, something of that nature, to make our police rethink how they address these problems?

    So, we overcriminalize small actions and communities, under the theory of broken windows policing. That’s been a failure.


    GWEN IFILL: But let me interrupt you for a moment, because these laws already exist in Ferguson. They already exist in Missouri. How — the question isn’t whether the law should be passed. The question is, how do you enforce them? And that’s the part I’m — I guess I’m having trouble with.


    So, I think that the way you enforce laws and the way you enforce a change in behavior is to tie it to the money. And that’s something we haven’t seen as of yet. For example, in Missouri, we have a racial profiling act that does trace the data and the racially disproportionate stops of people in the community, but we don’t have any enforcement mechanism.

    So police departments like Ferguson can say, yes, we see the data, and we’re going to continue doing it because it’s our prerogative, unless you start to tie it to their money, unless you have state grants withheld or federal grants withheld. Then money talks. People will start to change their behavior.

    GWEN IFILL: Let me ask Professor Butler the same question.


    PAUL BUTLER: Sure.

    Well, you hold police are accountable. You make sure that there are sanctions for when they violate the law, as the department has found that they do in Ferguson. You also create disincentives, so that the police don’t use arrests of African-Americans as slush funds to fund the city. So there’s a bill pending in Missouri that would say no more than 20 percent of a city’s income can come from court cases and from penalties.

    We also need early warning systems. Most cops want to do the right thing. It’s just a few bad apples who give everyone a bad name. So, one of the things civilian oversights do is develop practices to identify the bad apples early on. That makes the difference.

    GWEN IFILL: Professor Paul Butler of the Georgetown University Law Center and Professor Justin Hansford of the Saint Louis University School of Law, thank you both.

    PAUL BUTLER: Great to be here.

    JUSTIN HANSFORD: Thank you.

    The post How can Ferguson law enforcement break a pattern of bias? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    FUNDING DEAL  monitor dept of homeland security

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: As we mentioned earlier, the dramatic fight over Homeland Security funding has ended three days before the money was to run out. Many House Republicans wanted to use the agency’s budget to take a stand against President Obama’s actions on immigration.

    As a result, last week, the chamber could not pass a funding bill.

    Our Lisa Desjardins reports on what changed today.

    LISA DESJARDINS: The numbers tell this unusual story. See those yes-votes to fund Homeland Security with no strings attached there on the left? Those came mostly from Democrats. Only a minority of Republicans, like Idaho’s Mike Simpson, joined those Democrats.

    Those Republicans argued that the battle over the president’s actions which allow more undocumented immigrants to stay in the country, that battle will have to wait.

    REP. MIKE SIMPSON, R-IDAHO: Congress must continue the fight, fight the president’s actions on immigration that I do not support and the American people do not support. We must continue this fight, but we must also allow funding for critical security functions to move forward.

    LISA DESJARDINS: That’s the split. Dozens of other GOP conservatives, like Raul Labrador, also of Idaho, insisted the president’s actions are so egregious, that Republicans should use all their leverage.

    REP. RAUL LABRADOR, R-Idaho: This fight today is not about immigration. This fight today is about the separation of powers. Any person who votes for this deal today is voting to cede some of our power to the executive.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid hailed the outcome and blasted Republicans.

    SEN. HARRY REID, Minority Leader: This crisis was completely unnecessary. In the future, I hope we can avoid those kinds of knockdown, drag-out fights and work together for the good of the American people.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Lisa joins me now.

    What a day at the Capitol.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Incredible. What a weekend.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what is it that caused Speaker Boehner to change his strategy and call this vote for full funding for Homeland Security through September?

    LISA DESJARDINS: To be fair, Speaker Boehner has been very quiet through this whole fight, even going back a week ago, about exactly what his strategy was the whole time.

    And, in fact, he hasn’t said anything publicly today. But I think what happened here, Judy, is this. He tried to pass a funding bill with the immigration bill attached, as his conservatives wanted. That didn’t work. He took that apart, detached the immigration issue. And then Friday night in that amazing vote I know you talked to Mark and David about, they still could not pass as bill with just a three-week extension.

    My sources tell me that Friday night, it was clear to the speaker and those around him that the only option was the Senate bill if they wanted to keep Homeland Security funded. And they came. They got the bill in their hands today and then they voted on it.

    One other factor I want to bring up is the political factor. We saw something very rare today, in that a Republican action group called the American Action Network posted this e-mail, posted this press release saying they were going to send $400,000 in ads to support Homeland Security funding. This came out this morning. Those ads were going to be run against conservatives.

    We’re talking TV ads, Rush Limbaugh, 50 congressional districts. Judy, they were targeting the leaders, if you will, of this immigration action, the ones who were willing to go to the brink on this. And here’s a Republican group saying, no, don’t go to the brink; we will fight you as Republicans on this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Highly unusual to see something like that.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa, what does it mean that you had, what, almost two-thirds of Republicans voting against their own Republican speaker?

    LISA DESJARDINS: It means these are very difficult times for the Republican Conference. As one congressman told me today, they have a major and difficult conversation as a conference to have now.

    But they have been having that conference for a while. I think, looking more big picture, our viewers are probably looking at governance and what happens next in general. And I think this shows that for now the only way that these must-pass fiscal spending bills can pass is with a combination of Democrats and Republicans, and not necessarily a majority of Republicans.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Republicans, we have been talking about an historically high number of Republicans, what is it, 242 Republicans, as many as we have had in almost 80 years, but are we now seeing a new alignment among these Republicans?

    LISA DESJARDINS: Yes, right.

    So, since we’re on TV, I will say one caucus, we can call maybe the no-way caucus. They’re willing to draw the line and stand there and not move. They were the ones who held up this spending bill. Then let’s say there’s another caucus that maybe I will call the another day caucus. I’m opening a box here, but maybe our viewers have other suggestions.

    But this is the caucus that says, let’s not fight this battle now. Let’s pass a spending bill and let’s get to other issues. Then there’s a group in the middle that’s not sure what to do. They feel strongly. They are tempted to say no way. They also feel that there’s a pragmatic call to govern, and it’s that group in the middle, which, by my calculation, is about half the caucus, that will decide what happens next.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, but they today are the ones who sided with the no way members, the 50 or so members who were driving this issue.

    LISA DESJARDINS: Well, I think that gets to my point.

    If you look at the numbers, there were 50 in the no way caucus Friday — that’s a lot of members — and then about 70 today who said, let’s do this another day. And then there’s people that go back and forth. Those folks who today sided with the speaker and said let’s fund DHS now includes a lot of freshman up-and-comers, Martha McSally, Mimi Walters, people who are strong on security issues, maybe have serious swing districts, and they’re taking a stand and saying, we want to govern and we want to get past this.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It will be interesting to see what this means for the speaker going forward.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: Lisa Desjardins, we thank you.

    LISA DESJARDINS: My pleasure.

    The post House decides immigration battle will have to wait with vote to fund Homeland Security appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif as they arrive to resume nuclear negotiations in Montreux

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: Now we turn back to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, the threat of Iran, and what, if anything, makes for a good nuclear deal.

    I’m joined by two foreign policy veterans. Stephen Hadley was national security adviser for President George W. Bush. He’s now the chairman of the board of directors at the U.S. Institute for Peace. And Vali Nasr is a former State Department official and current dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

    Vali Nasr, let’s start with you.

    What was your first reaction to the speech?

    VALI NASR, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies: Well, I think the content of the speech wasn’t new. We knew where the prime minister of Israel stood on the deal.

    But I think one can say that the way that he laid out the case, it will make it much for difficult for the United States government and Iran to arrive at a deal, because I think the field has been significantly narrowed for the president in particular in order to argue a deal with Iran is actually a good deal. I think the definition of a good deal was largely defined by the prime minister of Israel today.

    GWEN IFILL: Steve Hadley?

    STEPHEN HADLEY, United States Institute of Peace: I think it was a very effective presentation. People said that the arguments were not particularly new, but a lot of Americans had not heard them in such detail.

    I think it was a forceful presentation. I think it will have the impact that Vali said. I think in some sense it makes it probably harder for both Iran and the administration to make concessions. And I think probably Prime Minister Netanyahu helped himself a little bit in this upcoming Israeli election.

    GWEN IFILL: So if we think that this speech today could have put a spanner in the works of these negotiations that are under way in Switzerland right now, the president’s criticism of them today was that there was no alternative presented. Is there an alternative to this negotiation?

    VALI NASR: There’s no alternative to the negotiation.

    I think what the prime minister of Israel was saying was generally that he doesn’t agree with any concessions or compromises. You can’t have negotiations with those. I think what he argued, that instead of negotiating with Iran on the terms of the deal, you have to lean on them heavily through sanctions and perhaps even a military option until Iran eventually surrenders the program.

    And that’s not likely to happen, because I don’t think the military option in today’s Middle East is viable. It’s not a given that we can go back to sanctions. And I think the president’s case is that you have to give diplomacy a chance. The president of Israel was saying there is no diplomatic path with Iran.

    And I think you have to — people will have to come down as to whether they believe the president that there is a diplomatic path, it’s possible to have a deal, or they believe the prime minister of Israel that says there’s no diplomacy with a country that you can’t trust and that ultimately it’s going to find its way to a bomb through diplomacy.

    GWEN IFILL: But I heard the prime minister say two things, that there should be a better deal, which implies that there should be more diplomacy, and also that there isn’t a military option. Did you hear that?

    STEPHEN HADLEY: I heard the better deal.

    I think he believes that greater sanctions and more time could result in greater concessions by the Iranians. It’s difficult. I think the dilemma for the administration, they will still try to see if they can get a deal. I think they know today the kind of deal that will work in terms of the region, in terms of our ally Israel and in terms of a Congress.

    And the real question is, if they cannot get that deal, whether they will decide to it’s better to say, we can’t get there at this time and talk about further extension, and the question is whether the Iranians would accept an extension of the joint program of action, which does constrain their program, to allow more time for negotiation.

    Then the flip side is, more time with negotiation, can you actually get a better deal?

    GWEN IFILL: Now, it seems very confusing, right? What we know of what’s on the table is a 10-year freeze in nuclear enrichment and then a year to allow it to be enforced. Is that something which — that’s the kind of — those are the outlines of a deal that I think the prime minister said would pave the way to a bomb.

    VALI NASR: Ultimately, this is — the problem as far as Israel sees it is that, A, this is not a permanent deal, and, B, that it’s — Iran retains the right to enrichment.

    But I don’t think actually the problem is so much a technical agreement between Iran and the U.S. It’s that both sides have to be able to sell this deal back at home. And from the Iranian side now, they see that the administration can come to a negotiation table and negotiate, and then you have this force outside in the form of the prime minister of Israel which at any point in time can come and put pressure on the administration and narrow its ability to sell the deal at home.

    That makes it very difficult for them to negotiate. And I think the Iranians can come up with any set of excuses as to why they can’t agree to this freeze. But I think, right now, they’re really worried that the administration is unable to deliver a deal because of the Congress.

    GWEN IFILL: Do you agree with Steve Hadley that Netanyahu helped himself politically at home?

    VALI NASR: Well, I think the reception he got in Congress definitely helped him.

    I think we have to see whether the Israeli public will see any further fallout from his visit here. But, barring that, I think they would see that he was able to come here, was received well by Congress, and made his case, and no damage is done so far.

    GWEN IFILL: Elaborate what you meant by that.

    STEPHEN HADLEY: Well, I still think that there is an opportunity for a deal here. I think it is still the case that in some sense the alternatives for both parties for not reaching a deal are not attractive.

    I think it will be a challenge for the United States to keep sanctions in place, and, of course, without a deal, Iran doesn’t get potentially relaxation of sanctions. So I think there’s still a reasonable chance that we will get an agreement.

    The question is, can the Congress — will the president of the United States be able to sell it to the Congress?

    GWEN IFILL: There’s a March 24 deadline for this — for these negotiations which are currently under way in Switzerland. What are the chances they can be achieved?

    VALI NASR: I think the chances are narrow. I think there is a chance that they agree to some kind of a formula…

    GWEN IFILL: By this date.

    VALI NASR: By this date, that they agree to some kind of a formula that would extend the negotiations, would give gains to both sides.

    But, again, the dilemma is that the way it’s happening now is that, to the Iranians, it doesn’t look like President Obama is the only decision-maker here.

    GWEN IFILL: And it seems like Zarif and Kerry are kind of in a box.

    STEPHEN HADLEY: They’re in a box.

    They will — but let’s be fair. We have heard the case against this deal, this hypothetical deal. The president says they haven’t reached a deal. I think we should all keep our powder dry, see if there is a deal, let the president of the United States and the secretary of state make their case, and then the American people will have to decide.

    And the question will be — this is not going to be the deal that many people had hoped for. It doesn’t roll back the program as far as people would have hoped. It’s probably not as long a duration. The question the American people will have to decide is, if this is a deal, you know, what do you do then. And that I think is a subject on which there ought to be some vigorous debate.

    GWEN IFILL: Stephen Hadley of the U.S. Institute of Peace and Vali Nasr at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, thank you both very much.

    VALI NASR: Thank you.

    The post What are the chances of an Iran nuclear deal now? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Fresh off of allegations she may have illegally used a personal email account during her tenure as Secretary of State, likely 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will address the Emily’s List 30th Anniversary Gala at 8 pm ET. Emily’s List is a political action committee dedicated to supporting pro-abortion rights women for democratic office.

    Will Clinton react to the email controversy? Watch Clinton’s remarks in our live stream, along with the rest of the Gala’s speakers, including:

    • EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock
    • Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords
    • California Attorney General Kamala Harris
    • Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.
    • Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.
    • House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
    • Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley

    The post Watch LIVE: Hillary Clinton addresses Emily’s List gala appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Image courtesy of Lilli Day/Getty Images.

    Image courtesy of Lilli Day/Getty Images.

    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.

    Stephen — N.C.: I am 68, my wife is 70, and we both are on Medicare Parts A and B, and have purchased a Part D drug plan. We have purchased supplemental insurance to cover what Medicare does not cover. Our problem is that our premiums keep going up and up. Our insurance agent says everybody’s premiums are going up. Are we doing this the right way? Does the Affordable Care Act (ACA) help us at all here?

    Phil Moeller: The ACA helps a lot but not with premiums. It has greatly expanded the range of free and reduced-cost care offered to Medicare beneficiaries, including an annual wellness physical. The law also is reducing Medicare drug costs by closing the so-called donut hole over the next few years.

    Now, as far as your premiums are concerned, and with all due respect to your insurance agent, there may be some things to do. You are most likely locked into your current insurance plans though the rest of this year. But this fall, you should look carefully at whether a Medicare Advantage Plan with Part D coverage makes more sense to you. It may not provide coverage as complete as you’re now getting. But it might provide acceptable coverage and most MA plans cost less, and often much less, than a supplemental plan, also known as Medigap. Alternatively, there are 10 different types of Medigap policies. Is yours the most cost-effective given your health care situation? Also, while the terms of these 10 Medigap plans must be the same among all insurers that offer the plans, they are free to charge whatever rates they wish. So, you should check the rates of your current Medigap insurer and see how they compare with those of other insurers offering plans in North Carolina.

    Monica — N.J.: My 40-year-old disabled daughter would like to obtain “Medicaid-Medicare” health insurance. Her congenital learning disability will continue throughout her lifetime. She has been classified as “disabled” and has been covered by Medicaid since the time she was no longer eligible to be covered under my health insurance.

    Many well-qualified primary care physicians accept Medicare-covered patients but not those patients with only Medicaid coverage. I’ve been told that at least two requirements have to be met before obtaining “Medicaid-Medicare” health insurance: First, an individual should have and/or apply for Medicaid Disability Insurance (establishing disability and being unable to work) and, second, be unemployed with Medicaid Disability Insurance for two years. At that time, a “Medicaid-Medicare” card would be issued. Fortunately my daughter has been employed continuously since 1994 and has never collected Disability Insurance, but she needs better health insurance. She has never made over $37,000 a year. How can she qualify for “Medicaid-Medicare” health insurance?

    Phil Moeller: First, I admire your daughter’s pursuit of a productive life, and wish both of you the best of luck. Based on what you’ve told me, you are seeking for her to be able to become so-called “dual eligible” and be covered by both programs. The first thing I’d suggest is that you get in touch with the New Jersey SHIP office and make sure you understand the state rules for dual eligibles. The next step is to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). You are correct that two years of SSDI coverage are required before she is eligible for Medicare. However, your daughter does not need to be unemployed to be eligible for SSDI. If she qualifies for SSDI payments, her Medicare eligibility should automatically begin during the month when she receives her 25th SSDI check. Social Security should already have mailed a Medicare card to her three months before she becomes eligible.

    However, one big issue you will face is whether your daughter’s wage income is too high for her to be approved for SSDI. Dorothy Clark, a Social Security spokeswoman, explains that an important consideration for SSDI is whether the applicant is still able to perform work that represents what the agency considers “substantial gainful activity,” or SGA (Social Security has an abbreviation for everything.) The SGA threshold is adjusted every year based on prior-year wage inflation. “The amount of earnings we consider to be SGA for impairments other than blindness is more than $1,090 a month for 2015,” Clark said.

    I don’t know how much money your daughter has been earning of late, but it actually could pay for her to reduce her wage income if it would now be considered SGA. Another important income issue is whether the new income from SSDI payments will affect your daughter’s eligibility for Medicaid and possibly the financial assistance that might be available to help pay her Medicare premiums. Again, your local SHIP office should be able to help with this.

    Jo – M.d.: I retired in 2012 but will turn 65 this June. I am a retired county employee and am covered under its retirement insurance. Do I need to sign up for Medicare? Is there any reason why it would be good for me to continue my retiree plan and to also get Medicare?

    Phil Moeller: Most retiree plans become what are called “secondary payers” to Medicare once their members reach age 65 and must sign up for basic Medicare (Parts A and B). If your plan is one of these, you may have no choice but to sign up for Medicare. If this is the case, you will need to enroll no later than this fall or you may face a premium penalty for late enrollment. The other set of decisions you need to make is how your total costs for your retiree coverage plus basic Medicare compare with a Medicare-only solution that could include a Part D drug plan and a Medigap policy or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part D drug coverage. This can be a complex decision and one that your former employer’s retirement benefits department can help you to make.

    I’m assuming your retiree plan includes drug coverage. If it is at least as good as a Medicare Part D plan – “credible” in Medicare lingo — you can keep it. If you later change your mind and switch to a Part D plan, you will not face a penalty and be forced to pay higher premiums. If your income is low, you might qualify for what’s called “Extra Help” in paying for drugs under a Medicare Part D plan. In this situation, Medicare might be a better deal than your retiree drug plan.

    You do not say if your retiree plan only includes you or also covers other family members. If your spouse and children are covered on your plan, and they are not eligible for Medicare, you probably should keep your retiree coverage.

    You or other retirees in similar situations also should be aware that some employers sponsor Medicare Advantage plans for retirees who are eligible for Medicare. If you worked for such an employer, you can get both your Medicare benefits and your retiree health benefits by signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan that has a contract with your former employer. Some employers require that you join a Medicare Advantage plan to continue getting retiree health benefits. You can always choose not to take your employer’s coverage and sign up for other Medicare plans. But if you do this, you may not be able to rejoin the retiree plan later.

    Lastly, If you have health insurance from an HMO under the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP), your coverage may be comprehensive enough that you will not need to sign up for Medicare Part B coverage. Note, though, that if you wish to sign up for Medicare later you may still face a penalty and will only be able to enroll during certain times of the year.

    The post Why are my health insurance premiums going up and up? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Hamantacshen cookies with a poppy filling. Photo by Getty Images.

    Hamantacshen cookies, the traditional food of Purim, has a poppy filling and is shaped to resemble the hat worn by the villain in the Book of Esther. Photo by Getty Images.

    I always think of the Bible as sort of dry reading — difficult to understand, weighted down by archaic language and vague descriptions, full of stories that just kind of go on and on. But, of course, that’s not always true.

    And it’s especially not true in the Book of Esther.

    Reading more like a Shakespearean play, the 10-chapter Book of Esther tells one hell of an intriguing story. It’s a story of honor, greed, deception, justice, irony, death and triumph. There is a clear beginning, a clear ending and even a climax and denouement. And, on top of it all, it’s a relatively quick read. (Editor’s note: Even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recommends the story. He nodded to it Tuesday in his address to Congress.)

    All this is good news for any Bible reader, but it’s fantastic news for our Jewish friends because, during the Jewish holiday of Purim, celebrants are asked to read the entire story of Esther aloud. Twice.

    Purim begins today — March 4 — and continues through sundown Thursday.

    So without further ado, here it is, your friendly neighborhood Cheat Sheet to Purim.

    Holiday: Purim

    Pronounced: POOR-im

    Date: Purim falls on the 14th day of Adar in the Hebrew Calendar.

    Celebrates: The escape of Persian Jews from extermination sometime around the 4th century BCE.

    Religion Represented: Judaism

    On a Scale of 1 to 10: Purim is maybe a 6 or 7, says my friend Jason Gewirtz, who acknowledges that Purim is pretty much the most kick-ass of all the Jewish holidays even though he, himself, suffered some childhood trauma around Purim. (Something about having to wear a cute little beard in a Purim play when he was 4. Sounds ghastly.)

    Star of the Show: Esther

    The Back Story: Purim’s back story (which comes to us courtesy of the Book of Esther) is one of my all-time favorites, and reads a lot like a melodrama — which is exactly how Jews treat it. The villain of the story is the Persian king’s advisor, Haman (BOO! HISS!), and the two heros are Esther, the queen, and her cousin, Mordecai — both of whom are Jewish. The story is absolutely wonderful. And if you know it, you’ll pretty much know everything there is to know about Purim. For your reading enjoyment (or not), I’ve included my version of the story HERE.

    Associated Literary Passages: The Old Testament’s Book of Esther, and the Babylonia Talmud: Tract Megilla.

    Why Feminists Should Love Purim: There are precious few Biblical stories that put a woman front-and-center and show her taking heroic actions. Not only is Esther willing to “out herself” as a Jew to save her people, but the king respects her boldness and advice so much that, by the end of the story, she’s calling virtually all the shots. You go, girl.

    The Food: The most Purim-est of the foods is Hamantaschen, a pastry shaped like Haman’s three-corned hat. “Leave it to the Jews to develop a snack based on the hat of the villian Haman,” Jason quips.

    The Fun: Celebrants read the story of Esther twice during Purim — once at sundown, and again the next morning. They give away food, donate to the poor and, of course, engage in some serious feasting and drinking. In fact, the Talmud literally demands that Jews get rip-roaring drunk at Purim. The Babylonian Talmud states, and I quote, “Rava said: A person is obligated to drink on Purim until he does not know the difference between ‘cursed be Haman’ and ‘blessed be Mordechai.’” How’s that for an excuse to party?

    Conveying Meaning to Kids: This is a no-brainer, really. Just tell your kid the story! Either put it in your own (age-appropriate) words, and tell it as a bedtime story, or check out a Purim picture book from the library. My favorite is Queen Esther the Morning Star by Mordicai Gerstein, but Queen Esther Saves her People and The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale also are good. You can also look online for videos about the story of Purim; Sesame Street has a good one. And I found this website with some very funny Purim-centered puppet videos and a slide show, among other things, that would be great for kids ages 8 to 12 or thereabouts. That and Hamantaschen, and you’re good to go.

    The post Quick! What the heck is Purim? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Businesswoman in office working on computer. Photo illustration by Getty Images

    A recent discrimination lawsuit in California involving a former employee at a Silicon Valley venture capital firm signals another instance of that industry being critiqued for its treatment of women. Photo illustration by Getty Images

    As of 2013, women held 57 percent of jobs in the U.S. workforce, however, they held only 26 percent of computing jobs. And they are leaving those jobs at a rate of 56 percent, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).

    What is the reason for the tech industry’s gender gap? PBS NewsHour recently reported on a California lawsuit, in which a former female employee is suing Kleiner Perkins, a well-known Silicon Valley venture capital firm that invests in many tech companies. Her complaints of discrimination and harassment mirror the notion that the industry often creates a hostile work environment for women, denying promotions to qualified candidates and ultimately forcing female employees out.

    Many also argue that women pursuing careers in the technology industry are few and far between. NCWIT reports that women accounted for 57 percent of undergraduate degree recipients in 2012, but only 18 percent of degrees in computer and information sciences. Is lack of diversity in the tech industry due partly to a dearth of qualified candidates?

    Join a Twitter chat on the causes of and possible solutions to tech’s gender gap this Thursday, March 5, from 1-2 p.m. EST. Nicole Sanchez (@nmsanchez), CEO of Vaya Consulting, a Silicon Valley firm that helps companies recruit and retain diverse employees, will share her thoughts. Follow along and chime in using #NewsHourChats.

    The post Twitter chat: What’s behind the tech industry’s gender gap? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton delivers dinner remarks at EMILY's List 30th Anniversary Gala in Washington March 3, 2015. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered remarks at EMILY’s List 30th Anniversary Gala in Washington Tuesday night. She did not address recent news about her secretive email practices. Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails — on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state — traced back to an Internet service registered to her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.

    The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton’s secretive email practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free email services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

    Most Internet users rely on professional outside companies, such as Google Inc. or their own employers, for the behind-the-scenes complexities of managing their email communications. Government employees generally use servers run by federal agencies where they work.

    In most cases, individuals who operate their own email servers are technical experts or users so concerned about issues of privacy and surveillance they take matters into their own hands. It was not immediately clear exactly where Clinton ran that computer system.

    Clinton has not described her motivation for using a private email account — hdr22(at)clintonemail.com, which traced back to her own private email server registered under an apparent pseudonym — for official State Department business.

    Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton’s home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking.

    But homemade email servers are generally not as reliable, secure from hackers or protected from fires or floods as those in commercial data centers. Those professional facilities provide monitoring for viruses or hacking attempts, regulated temperatures, off-site backups, generators in case of power outages, fire-suppression systems and redundant communications lines.

    A spokesman for Clinton did not respond to requests seeking comment from the AP on Tuesday. Clinton ignored the issue during a speech Tuesday night at the 30th anniversary gala of EMILY’s List, which works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.

    It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private email server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches. Hoteham was listed as the customer at Clinton’s $1.7 million home on Old House Lane in Chappaqua in records registering the Internet address for her email server since August 2010.

    The Hoteham personality also is associated with a separate email server, presidentclinton.com, and a non-functioning website, wjcoffice.com, all linked to the same residential Internet account as Mrs. Clinton’s email server. The former president’s full name is William Jefferson Clinton.

    In November 2012, without explanation, Clinton’s private email account was reconfigured to use Google’s servers as a backup in case her own personal email server failed, according to Internet records. That is significant because Clinton publicly supported Google’s accusations in June 2011 that China’s government had tried to break into the Google mail accounts of senior U.S. government officials. It was one of the first instances of a major American corporation openly accusing a foreign government of hacking.

    Then, in July 2013, five months after she resigned as secretary of state, Clinton’s private email server was reconfigured again to use a Denver-based commercial email provider, MX Logic, which is now owned by McAfee Inc., a top Internet security company.

    The New York Times reported Monday that Clinton exclusively used a personal email account it did not specify to conduct State Department business. The disclosure raised questions about whether she took actions to preserve copies of her old work-related emails, as required by the Federal Records Act. A Clinton spokesman, Nick Merrill, told the newspaper that Clinton complied with the letter and spirit of the law because her advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails to decide which ones to turn over to the State Department after the agency asked for them.

    In theory but not in practice, Clinton’s official emails would be accessible to anyone who requested copies under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. Under the law, citizens and foreigners can compel the government to turn over copies of federal records for zero or little cost. Since Clinton effectively retained control over emails in her private account even after she resigned in 2013, the government would have to negotiate with Clinton to turn over messages it can’t already retrieve from the inboxes of federal employees she emailed.

    The AP has waited more than a year under the open records law for the State Department to turn over some emails covering Clinton’s tenure as the nation’s top diplomat, although the agency has never suggested that it didn’t possess all her emails.

    Clinton’s private email account surfaced publicly in March 2013 after a convicted Romanian hacker known as Guccifer published emails stolen from former White House adviser Sidney Blumenthal. The Internet domain was registered around the time of her secretary of state nomination.

    Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the special House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks, said the committee learned last summer – when agency documents were turned over to the committee – that Clinton had used a private email account while secretary of state. More recently the committee learned that she used private email accounts exclusively and had more than one, Gowdy said.

    President Barack Obama signed a bill last year that bans the use of private email accounts by government officials unless they retain copies of messages in their official account or forward copies to their government accounts within 20 days. The bill did not become law until more than one year after Clinton left the State Department.

    Associated Press writer Stephen Braun contributed to this report.

    The post Hillary Clinton used private server for official email appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover that shows the vehicle at the "Mojave" site, where its drill collected samples of Mount Sharp. Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

    A self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover that shows the vehicle at the “Mojave” site, where its drill collected samples of Mount Sharp. Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

    NASA’s Curiosity rover will take a break from gathering samples of the dusty Martian landscape, while engineers determine whether a short circuit damaged the robot’s arm, the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Tuesday.

    On Feb. 27, the rover was transferring rock powder collected by its drill when an electric problem halted its work. The rover, NASA said, has managed to complete the same drilling process before without any hiccups.

    “We are running tests on the vehicle in its present configuration before we move the arm or drive,” Curiosity project manager Jim Erickson said, in a statement. “This gives us the best opportunity to determine where the short is.”

    Curiosity will remain inactive for several days while engineers diagnose the issue. NASA said the short could, at worst, prevent the use of certain instruments.

    The post Short circuit halts NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover for days appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen delivers her "Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress" before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, including chair Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and ranking member Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, on Feb. 24, 2015. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen delivers her “Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress” before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, including chair Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and ranking member Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, on Feb. 24, 2015. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

    Political mudslinging over the Federal Reserve, particularly its authority to make monetary policy independently, is unprecedentedly partisan. That’s something Stanford’s John Taylor, on the right, and liberal former Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., agree on. (Stay tuned for Paul Solman’s interview with the retired lawmaker in an upcoming Making Sen$e Thursday report.)

    That partisanship is likely to intensify as the 2016 election gears up. And as with the fight over the Export-Import bank or trade, partisan tension brings into stark relief intra-party divisions — so much so that Frank, speaking at an event in Washington, D.C., Monday, predicted the Fed will be a central issue in the presidential primaries.

    At the center of all the heat is a central bank that is poorly understood by both the public and the legislators slinging the arrows. Economists, too, splinter over what the bank should be doing and how it should be run. Those divisions were on full display Monday morning at “The Future of the Fed in the 21st Century.”

    The backdrop was Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s desire to audit the Fed — its monetary policy that is. The Fed’s finances are already audited, as Chair Janet Yellen reminded Congress last week when she repeatedly held up a binder of Deloitte and Touche audits during her two-day congressional testimony. (The Brookings Institution’s David Wessel compiled a helpful guide to the “Audit the Fed” movement in the Wall Street Journal.)

    But Stanford Law School fellow Peter Conti-Brown kicked off the conference with a separate, more specific gripe outlined in a Brookings’ working paper: those 12 regional banks that make up the Federal Reserve system? “They’re the gallbladder of the U.S. financial system,” he said, and “they need surgery” so that their presidents are less cozy with private banks. He’d prefer to see the Washington, D.C.-based Board of Governors, or even the President of the United States, appoint the presidents of each regional bank (currently, presidents are appointed by the board of directors of each bank subject to the approval of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System).

    “What would presidential appointments accomplish?” asked Charles Plosser, former head of the Philadelphia Fed, on his first day of retirement. The regional banks, Plosser argued, help protect the Fed from dangerous political pressures, of the sort being batted around on the Hill.

    Apart from “Audit the Fed” itself, there are several reasons why the current climate is so rancorous, said Brookings’ Senior Fellow Sarah Binder. In general, tensions over the Fed tend to be countercyclical. When the economy is not doing so hot, the Fed is a frequent, even if misguided, target of scrutiny from the Hill. Attention on the Fed is even more heightened now, Binder explained, because the current zero interest rate policy necessitates unconventional monetary policy that’s naturally more suspect. But it’s also “just a period of intense partisanship,” she added — one that’s complicated by divides between House and Senate Republicans.

    Congress hasn’t seen partisanship like this since the Civil War, echoed Frank. The animosity is so intense, he continued, not because Republicans who want to audit or reform the Fed think the central bank is abusing its dual mandate. (The Fed, unlike most other central banks that are only required to maintain price stability, also has a duty to maximize employment. Learn more about the dual mandate from our resident econo-crooner Merle Hazard.)

    “Audit the Fed” is just a “proxy,” Barney Frank said. “Nobody thinks Janet is pocketing money.”

    Quite to the contrary, Frank continued, it’s that very mandate — specifically the Fed’s role in keeping unemployment in check — that Republicans don’t like. If the GOP sweeps both the legislative and executive branches in 2016, Frank predicted that they’ll be under pressure to do away with that mandate. Former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, who shared the stage with Frank during the event’s panel discussion, agreed that the opposition to the Fed was largely ideological. (Remember that Rand Paul’s father wrote a book called “End the Fed.”)

    But wait a minute, said John Taylor (of the so-called “Taylor Rule”), speaking from the audience: There’s no question the partisanship is as extreme as ever, but who says the dual mandate is causing the split? Eliminating the employment mandate isn’t even on the table, he said.

    Maybe not, Frank said. The former legislator and co-author of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill lost no time summoning his inside-the-beltway cred by suggesting he knew that’s what lawmakers on the right discussed among themselves. “Audit the Fed” is just a “proxy,” he said. “Nobody thinks Janet is pocketing money.” Conservatives’ “vehement objection” toward the dual mandate, Frank continued, is genuine; but it’s rooted in the belief that the central bank is too activist and not devoted enough to curbing inflation.

    But for all the partisan bickering, anyone who watched lawmakers trying to question Yellen during last week’s congressional testimony — whether it was Senate Banking Committee Chair Richard Shelby or Sen. Elizabeth Warren — could see some truth in Taylor’s final point: “These issues are arcane.” They don’t lend themselves easily to partisanship, he added.

    Which no doubt means, with Congress on the eve of another national election, that lawmakers will find a way to make the complicated and arcane even more partisan.

    Watch Paul Solman’s report on why the Fed worries about both jobs and inflation:

    The post Why this is only the beginning of the fight over the Fed appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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