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Last updated: Wednesday, April 16 2014 10:22 PM

20 Killed as Islamic Extremists insurrection in Nigeria continues

Wednesday, April 16 2014 09:41 PM

Twenty people were killed in northeastern Nigeria Wednesday after Islamic extremists attacked in the country for the fourth time in three days.

Focus began to shift in the press to the role of the politicians in the 5-year-old insurgency and whether military and security forces were capable of buffering the uprisings that have seen more that 1,500 people killed thus far in 2014.

“As Nigeria bleeds all over, a more heart-rending phenomenon is the politicization of the insurgency,” The Guardian newspaper of Nigeria wrote in an editorial Wednesday, also adding that this latest open attack on the people of Nigeria “calls into question the strategy of the Nigerian security forces and their commitment to the fight.”

Gwoza district has been the focus of many headlines for Nigeria. Wednesday morning, gunmen attacked the village of Wala, killing 18 people. Tuesday, 100 young women taking final exams were abducted. Monday, a massive explosion rocked the bus station killing at least 175 people.

“We in Gwoza have suffered too many attacks, killings and destruction,” Gwoza emir Idrissa Timta said to the Associated Press. “Our people have been forced to flee, our markets no longer operate optimally, food items, goods and wares are no longer coming in … We want action from government so that lives can be saved.”

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PHOTO: Sports car gets a bird’s eye view of the Big Apple

Wednesday, April 16 2014 08:49 PM

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A 2015 Ford Mustang sits atop the observation deck of New York’s Empire State Building Wednesday in celebration of the sports car’s 50th birthday. The automobile was brought up in separate parts and assembled atop the skyscraper, where it will stay on display for a couple of days.

The Mustang’s visit recreates an event from 1964, when a prototype Mustang was also assembled on the Empire State Building’s observation deck.

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The real ‘Golden Girls’ of Prince George’s County

Wednesday, April 16 2014 07:53 PM

Put on some coffee and grab a cheesecake and meet some modern day

Put on a pot of coffee, grab a cheesecake and meet some modern day “Golden Girls.” (Not that there’s anything wrong with the 1980′s originals.) Photo of Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux, Betty White as Rose Nylund and Bea Arthur as Dorothy Petrillo Zbornak by Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Remember your first roommate? Your first roommate who wasn’t your sibling? It was probably in college or just after you graduated when you thought the world was open to a million possibilities, and you and your best friend would conquer the world. Well turns out roommates aren’t just wasted on the young. Baby Boomers are realizing the benefits of communal living, too.

According to an AARP analysis of census data, approximately 132,000 households and 490,000 women over the age of 50 live with non-romantic peers. They’re dubbed “Golden Girls,” after the hit 1980’s TV show that featured four ladies and the mischief they encountered while living together in a Miami home. The number of Golden Girls is expected to grow, especially given that one in three Baby Boomers is single and a disproportionate number of them are women.

So what’s it like to be a real life Golden Girl? We talked to a few who live in Maryland, just outside of the Washington, D.C., area. We asked them to share their experiences and best advice on how to find a roommate.

Rachel Lemberg, 68, met her roommate on Craigslist through an ad seeking a

Rachael Lemberg, 68, met her roommate on Craigslist through an ad seeking a “Golden Girl.” Photo by Margaret Myers/NewsHour

Rachael Lemberg was 57 when she ran away from home. She left her husband of 25 years for a new life as a single woman. She packed two suitcases and a computer into her car and said goodbye to Ohio forever.

Now 68, Lemberg has retired from her corporate job and works for the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis. And she has a new roommate, an active woman in her late 70s. The two of them met by way of a Craigslist ad seeking a “Golden Girl” to share a house.

She appreciates the company and she’s even admitted that it’s made her neater. “I have to keep reminding myself that this isn’t all my space,” she says.

Before taking on a roommate, she recommends a little self-evaluation. “It’s not just about finances,” she says. You have to look at the emotional side, too. “How is it going to be if my roommate has a cranky day or if I have a cranky day?”

But in the end, she said, it is nice to come home at night to the lights still on.

“My kids think this is super,” says Lemberg. “It helps me maintain my independence.

Bonnie Moore was worried about losing her five-bedroom home in Bowie, Md., when she and her husband divorced at the height of the recession. So the 69-year-old decided to make lemonade out of her sour situation and began advertising for roommates. Photo by Margaret Myers/NewsHour

Bonnie Moore was worried about losing her five-bedroom home when she and her husband divorced at the height of the recession. So the 69-year-old decided to make lemonade out of her sour situation and began advertising for roommates. Photo by Margaret Myers/NewsHour

Bonnie Moore is a retired lawyer and the founder of the Golden Girls Network, an organization that connects older women across the country to help them find roommates in their area.

She’s also a “Golden Girl” herself. Moore, 69, lives with her three roommates in a five-bedroom home she owns in Bowie, Md. Living with these women allows her to maintain her large home that she once owned with her husband, whom she divorced at the height of the recession. “I lost all the equity and we had just done $300,000 worth of remodeling and I didn’t want to walk away from it.”

Moore has been a Golden Girl for six years, so she has a lot of advice for those new to the situation. The one question she always gets is how do you handle things in the kitchen? So she tells this story: “The first roommate that I had, I was terrified when she started cooking and I sat on the kitchen stool and watched her. And I pinched myself because I can’t say ‘don’t do this don’t do that. You’re not doing it my way.’ I just let her do whatever she was doing, and I just bit my tongue. … Now, six years later, I love to sit on the kitchen stool and watch people cooking because they’re gonna say, ‘you want some?’”

The takeaway: Your roommates aren’t always going do things your way, and you just have to let go.

And she plans to stay put for a long time.

“I’m gonna stay here until I can’t do the gardening,” she said. “That’s my criteria.”

Lorie James, 51, is a kindergarten teacher and a graduate student. She feels comfortable living in a

Lorie James, 51, is a kindergarten teacher and a graduate student. She feels right at home living with three other “Golden Girls.” Photo by Margaret Myers/NewsHour

Lorie James hasn’t had a roommate since college, unless you count a husband, now an ex, and two grown children. But the 51-year-old kindergarten teacher recently moved into a house with three women in January.

Since she hadn’t had a roommate since she was in her early 20s, she wasn’t sure what to expect. She was pleasantly surprised.

“For me it’s been a very comfortable fit,” James said. “It’s just a calm, laid back atmosphere. It feels like a relaxing place to be.”

James doesn’t have much time to relax though. Between teaching, taking classes to fulfill a Master’s degree and planning a 75th birthday party for her father, she hasn’t had a moment’s rest in her new home in Bowie, Md.

The living situation has been just what she needed after her divorce from her husband of 25 years.

“Something in my mind was like, ‘I just don’t want to live alone. Coming out of a long marriage and a house with two kids. I just don’t want to be alone this winter,’” she said.

Her advice is to be open-minded, because it might surprise you.

“I never would have considered moving in with anybody but the more I thought about it, it just made sense to me.”

And it really did work out. James recalls that during a recent snow storm her roommate and landlord Bonnie Moore said to her: “Another snow storm, you’re gonna have a snow day. Let’s have a glass of wine!”

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Proposed minimum wage hikes still won’t benefit workers in exempt jobs

Wednesday, April 16 2014 07:47 PM

Democrats have proposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2016. But even if they accomplish this, workers in dozens of categories of jobs won't benefit. Photo by Flickr user ViewFinder

Democrats have proposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2016. But even if they accomplish this, workers in dozens of categories of jobs, including many tipped workers like waiters and waitresses, won’t benefit. Photo by Flickr user ViewFinder

WASHINGTON — Some low-paid workers won’t benefit even if a long-shot Democratic proposal to raise the federal minimum wage becomes law.

More than a dozen categories of jobs are exempt from the minimum, currently $7.25 an hour. Those exclusions, rooted in labor law history, run from some workers with disabilities to crews on fishing ships to casual baby sitters.

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, would gradually raise the minimum to $10.10 by 2016. The Congressional Budget Office estimates it would mean higher earnings for 16.5 million workers – but also would cost 500,000 others their jobs.

Harkin’s measure wouldn’t eliminate exemptions, including for live-in companions for the elderly, staffs of state and local elected officials and jobs at summer camps and seasonal amusement parks.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says nearly 1.8 million hourly workers were paid below $7.25 last year – about 2 percent of the 76 million Americans earning hourly wages. An additional 1.5 million earned exactly $7.25.

Some earning under that amount are covered by lower requirements. In one major category, wages for tipped employees such as waiters can be as low as $2.13 hourly, as long as their pay reaches the overall federal minimum when tips are included.

Harkin’s measure would gradually raise the minimum for tipped workers to 70 percent of the minimum for most workers.

Asked why he wasn’t eliminating more exemptions, Harkin said, “I’m having a hard enough time getting votes for the minimum wage” by itself.

According to the statistics bureau, most people earning under $7.25 — nearly 1.1 million — work in food services and drinking establishments.

The bureau and the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division said they had no figures on how many workers were illegally paid less than $7.25.

Though Democrats say higher-paid workers would help the economy by spending more, Republicans point to projections that an increase in the minimum wage could cost some workers their jobs. That negative prediction is based on the idea that higher wages would bring higher prices and therefore hurt the economy and employment – and also on an assumption that a minimum wage increase would lead some businesses to trim the number of low-paid workers.

Harkin, whose bill is slated for Senate debate this month, said there has been “no push” from most exempted groups for minimum wage coverage. Of the excluded groups, the loudest objections have probably come from those representing the disabled.

Employers receiving government certification can employ disabled people at below the minimum wage, paying whatever they determine reflects a worker’s productivity.

Most of these employees are mentally impaired and work in special workshops run by organizations like Goodwill and Easter Seals.

The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division says 229,000 workers were certified for such wages last year. Groups representing disabled people say the figure is over 400,000. Either way, they are a small portion of the roughly 15 million disabled working-age Americans.

Advocates for the disabled say the system, originally meant to encourage employers to hire such workers, is being abused by some organizations that underpay and inadequately train them.

“This is a system that lives on the perception that these people cannot be productive,” said Anil Lewis, a top official with the National Federation of the Blind, which wants to repeal the special wages.

But ending that program would mean many disabled workers “would not have the dignity, purpose and pride of a paycheck,” said Terry Farmer, CEO of ACCSES, the trade group representing Goodwill and other groups employing disabled people.

A long-time advocate for the disabled, Harkin said he is trying separate legislation to require employers who pay disabled workers below the minimum wage to provide better training for higher-salaried jobs.

The federal minimum wage was created by the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938. That New Deal measure also limited the work week – to 44 hours initially – and curbed child labor.

When President Franklin Roosevelt signed the bill into law, the minimum was set at 25 cents an hour, mainly covering industrial jobs. To win crucial votes from Southern Democrats in Congress, Roosevelt agreed to exclude occupations like farm laborers and domestic workers, who were largely black.

Also exempted were some other low-paying jobs that employed many women, including retail and many clerical workers. Many at-home jobs were also excluded. People who make evergreen wreaths at home are exempted to this day.

“The farther from the factory model of employment and the closer to some family thing, the likelier you were to get some kind of exception” to coverage, said Nelson Lichtenstein, a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara who has studied labor history.

Gradually, Congress has broadened the law’s coverage, adding public school, construction industry and many retail and farm workers in the 1960s. Government and domestic workers were included in the 1970s. Overall, the minimum wage has expanded from initially covering about a third of workers to what the Congressional Budget Office says is now two-thirds.

Under Harkin’s bill, lower minimum wages for some workers would grow because they are linked to the full minimum wage. That includes many fulltime students, who must get at least 85 percent of the full minimum.

Unchanged would be the $4.25 hourly minimum for teenagers’ first 90 days of work.

Others still exempted from minimum wage coverage would include workers at some small-circulation newspapers and small farms, and people who deliver newspapers. And some businesses with annual sales below $500,000 are exempt.

Administrative, professional and executive employees also are excluded, though most earn more than the minimum wage. President Barack Obama has ordered the Labor Department to write new rules qualifying more salaried management workers for minimum wage and overtime coverage.

William Samuel, the AFL-CIO’s government affairs director, said the labor organization urged Harkin to raise the tipped workers’ minimum in his bill. He said his group hasn’t sought minimum wage coverage for other excluded occupations in “some unique and fairly small industries we haven’t focused on.”

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Portrait of a dyslexic artist, who transforms neurons into ‘butterflies’

Wednesday, April 16 2014 07:19 PM

Art by Rebecca Kamen

After completing a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, artist Rebecca Kamen has transformed her discussions with neuroscientists into abstract sculptures, such as this close-up view of “Butterflies of the Soul.” Image courtesy of Rebecca Kamen

Rebecca Kamen’s sculptures appear as delicate as the brain itself. Thin, green branches stretch from a colorful mass of vein-like filaments. The branches, made from pieces of translucent mylar and stained with diluted acrylic paint, are so delicate that they sway slightly when mounted to the wall. Perched on various parts of the sculpture are mylar butterflies, whose wings also move, as if fluttering.
One of Kamen's influences is the writing of Santiago Ramon y Cajal, who is called the

One of Kamen’s artistic influences is the writing of Santiago Ramon y Cajal, who is called the “father of modern neuroscience.”

The work, called “Butterflies of the Soul” was inspired by neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal, who won the 1906 Nobel Prize, for his groundbreaking work on the human nervous system. Kamen’s sculpture is a nod to his work and the development of modern neuroscience. Cajal’s observation of the cells under the microscope radically changed how scientists study the brain and its functions, Kamen said. And the butterflies in her sculpture represent Cajal’s drawings of Purkinje cells, which are found in the cerebellar cortex at the base of the brain.

Purkinje cells play an important role in motor control and in certain cognitive functions, such as attention and language. And attention and language are skills of great interest to Kamen, who has dyslexia. Her fascination with the brain and its structure deepened when she discovered that she was dyslexic later in life.

A neurological disorder, dyslexia is primarily characterized as an unexpected difficulty learning to read despite intelligence, motivation and education, according to Sally Shaywitz, author of “Overcoming Dyslexia” and co-director of the Yale Center for the Dyslexia and Creativity.

science-wednesdayImages of the brain in action, fMRIs, have shown researchers that key parts of the brain do not function the same for dyslexic and non-dyslexic people. Dr. Bennett Shaywitz, Sally Shaywitz’ husband and co-director at Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, describes one of those areas as the “word form area,” which is used like a mixing bowl for comprehension and translating words and letters into language. That region, located in the brain’s occipital temporal lobe, just above the cerebellum, is disrupted in the brains of dyslexic people, which makes it more difficult for them to read. Their brains struggle to decode written words or symbols into spoken language.

“It’s a difficulty getting to the underlying sounds of language,” he said.

Kamen grew up before doctors diagnosed children or adults with dyslexia, but the struggles the Shaywitz’s describe align closely with her memories of school.

“I would read and read and read — and my parents read to my sister and I — and I couldn’t remember what I was reading. I just thought, ‘Well maybe that is how people read.’” Completing basic math, such as memorizing multiplication tables, was also a challenge.

Despite the support of her parents and many of her high school teachers, some educators even questioned Kamen’s intelligence. “When I first entered college, the counselor asked my parents why they were wasting their money sending me to college,” Kamen said. “In his estimation, I wasn’t college material.”

While it is still possible to learn to read, Sally Shaywitz says the symptoms of dyslexia never disappear. It is a chronic, persistent challenge. Those with dyslexia can learn to read accurately, but the ability to read fluently — rapidly and automatically with good comprehension — may always escape them, she says.

“Interventions can close that fluency gap somewhat, but I am not aware of any evidence of it being closed entirely in people who are dyslexic,” Sally Shaywitz said. For dyslexic people, reading remains a manual, intentional task for the brain that requires a lot of attention and effort.

“Transporter” by Rebecca Kamen

Those persistent struggles were what influenced Kamen to study art in the first place. Admitted to college on probation, Kamen chose to study art education, because it was the only major she could find at Pennsylvania State University that didn’t require a math course.

The fluency gap poses less of an obstacle for Kamen now, whose profession allows her to avoid reading long texts or taking notes. The process of creating artwork has depended more on her haptic skills, or skills that rely on the sense of touch to perceive and remember objects.

“I learned about things by taking things apart, examining them,” Kamen said. “I think that enabled me to develop the skills of working with my hands more than just processing things in a more linear way.”

Rebecca Kamen works in her studio in McLean, Va. Still by Ellen Rolfes/PBS NewsHour

Rebecca Kamen works in her studio in McLean, Va. Video still by Ellen Rolfes/PBS NewsHour

In the studio of Kamen’s McLean, Va., home, she has cups full of paint brushes, jars of acrylic paint, old film canisters filled with used knife blades and sheets upon sheets of translucent mylar, ready to be transformed into abstract sculptures.

For most of her career, science has been a muse for Kamen, because she believes the artist and the scientist have similar missions. They both search for meaningful patterns, create compelling narratives and deal with invisible worlds, she says. She tries to reflect these similarities in her sculptures. For example, Kamen chooses to the stain mylar, the primary material for her sculptures, rather than paint it, because she wants to mimic how scientists make observations about the brain. “They will cut a very thin slice of brain matter, in the case of a neuroscientist, and then they will introduce a stain to it,” Kamen said, in order to see finer details under a microscope.

“Cellular Dialogue” by Rebecca Kamen

What Kamen wants to reveal to viewers of her artwork is the sometimes hidden beauty of science.

“Why would someone spend 25 years of their life researching something so small that we couldn’t see?” Kamen asked rhetorically. “It’s that sense of discovery, of seeing something so beautiful that it is almost like a siren. It keeps pulling you to want to investigate it further.”

In an earlier sculpture, Kamen took the periodic table, the “rigid gridded chart, that we glared at in high school,” and turned it into an elemental garden. Kamen constructed a 3-dimensional mylar flower for each of the 83 naturally occurring elements, in which the orbitals of the elements are reflected in the details of the petals. The atom flowers were arranged in a Fibonnaci-like spiral.

Kamen describes her piece,

Kamen describes her piece, “Divining Nature: An Elemental Garden” as a transformation of “chemistry’s Periodic Table of letters and numbers into a garden of sculptural elements based on geometry and atomic number.” Art by Rebecca Kamen

In another of Kamen’s neuroscience-inspired sculptures, which will be displayed in the new John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, Kamen designed and built a sculpture — “Growth Cone” — which was inspired by research of an NIH scientist, Justin Taraska, who captures the 3-D images previously unknown protein structures at the nanoscale in order to better understand its functions and regulations.

“Growth Cone” Art by Rebecca Kamen

When Kamen was awarded an NIH fellowship in 2012, she received unprecedented access to scientists’ labs on the Bethesda, Md., campus for three months. After her summer at NIH and more than 24 interviews with neuroscientists, she transformed her acquired knowledge of basic research on the brain into artwork, which is now on display at the Porter Neuroscience Research Center.

Kamen’s artistic talents fit a profile of great interest to Matthew Schneps, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Schneps has conducted a study on another aspect of dyslexia: the abilities that can be attributed to the neurological condition.

He and his team at the Laboratory for Visual Learning theorize that there are neurological reasons why dyslexic people may be predisposed to certain tasks or professions, such as science or art. In a study he conducted comparing dyslexic and non-dyslexic astrophysicists, those with dyslexia were able to identify patterns in wave spectrums that signaled the presence of a black hole in a faraway galaxy faster than their non-dyslexic counterparts. Schneps believes his research suggests that dyslexia may be associated with enhanced abilities for certain types of visual processing.

Catya von Karolyi, a professor at University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, tested how quickly people could distinguish an “impossible” figure — a shape or form that could not exist in the real world and found that people with dyslexia were faster at identifying the impossible scenarios. Her research suggests that dyslexic people have better visual-spatial abilities to integrate the parts of the drawing into a whole.

Despite decades of data from longitudinal studies proving the deficits that dyslexic people encounter, efforts to focus on the strengths of those with dyslexia, rather than the weaknesses, have become more popular of late. Books, such as Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide’s “The Dyslexic Advantage,” argue dyslexic people have, as the title would suggest, cognitive strengths that other people do not have.

Schneps, who is dyslexic, thinks that finding neurological or cognitive evidence of these strengths could change how treatments are designed and implemented, as well as improve the confidence of dyslexic people.

“A lot of people with dyslexia have tremendous self-doubt,” he said. “They think they are stupid and they constantly question if the things they do are valuable.”

Because traditional learning methods, such as reading long texts and rote memorization of multiplication tables, were extremely difficult for her, Kamen relied on ways of learning in which she believes she was more naturally capable or predisposed.

“Illumination” Art by Rebecca Kamen

People with dyslexia, Kamen said, understand things in relationship to other things, “which in retrospect, is such an incredible gift,” Kamen explained.

Sally Shaywitz cautions that placing too much focus on the strengths of people with dyslexia could diminish the challenges and prevent more young people from getting the help and accommodations in school that they need.

“It is not being diagnosed in schools,” she said. “The kids who have (dyslexia) aren’t receiving the evidence-based interventions and accommodations that will allow them to show their strengths … and reflect (their) ability rather than their disability.”

As for Kamen, who still struggles with certain tasks because of her dyslexia, she says she has learned how to manage those challenges through her artwork. “I embraced the fact that what appears as a learning obstacle seems to have contributed a great deal to how I navigate and experience the world,” she said.

“The Measure of All Things” by Rebecca Kamen

Several of Rebecca Kamen’s neuroscience-inspired sculptures are currently on display in the Porter Neuroscience Research Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md., which is open to the public, for free. Learn more about how you can visit the National Institutes of Health.

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U.S. plans to send non-lethal aid package to bolster Ukrainian military

Wednesday, April 16 2014 05:57 PM

The United States is working on a package of non-lethal aid for Ukraine that could include medical supplies and clothing, but would stop short of providing body armor and other military-style equipment, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The incremental assistance would be aimed both at bolstering the Ukrainian military as it seeks to halt the advances of pro-Russian forces in the east, as well as showing symbolic U.S. support for Ukraine’s efforts. But the aid is unlikely to satisfy the Obama administration’s critics, who say what the Ukrainians really need are weapons to defend themselves.

“We ought to at least, for God’s sake, give them some light weapons with which to defend themselves,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said over the weekend.

The administration has said it is considering aid requests from Ukraine, but is not actively considering sending weapons, ammunition or other lethal assistance.

“We are obviously evaluating requests and looking at ways that we can support the Ukrainian government,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “but our focus is on continuing to put pressure on Russia so that it understands that the international community is united when it comes to support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Speaking on this matter Tuesday, Carney sidestepped questions about whether the U.S. would supply military-style equipment like body armor that is not technically defined as lethal aid. However, U.S. officials said that type of assistance is not expected to be part of the new aid package under consideration.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly before the aid package is finalized.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian military launched its first action against pro-Russian forces in the east, beginning what Ukraine’s president called an “anti-terrorist operation” to try to restore authority over the restive region.

Ukraine’s central government has so far been unable to rein in the insurgents, who it says are being stirred up by paid operatives from Russia. The forces have seized numerous government facilities in at least nine eastern cities to press their demands for broader autonomy and closer ties with Russia. Complicating the political landscape, many local security forces have switched to their side.

U.S. assistance to Ukraine’s military has so far been limited to about 300,000 ready to eat meals, which were shipped in late March. The U.S. has also authorized a $1 billion loan guarantee for Ukraine’s fledgling government.

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Roommate wanted: Must be clean, courteous and over 65

Wednesday, April 16 2014 05:16 PM

Bonnie Moore of Bowie, Md., opened her five-bedroom home to roommates six years ago. Now the 69-year-old landlord gives classes on how to build a

Bonnie Moore of Bowie, Md., opened her five-bedroom home to roommates six years ago. Now the 69-year-old landlord gives classes on how to build a “Golden Girls” home. Photo by Margaret Myers/NewsHour

Six years ago, Bonnie Moore and her husband built the kitchen of their dreams. They designed it to be bright and big enough to host dinner parties but also intimate enough to be able to pick a corner — preferably one near the windows overlooking the garden — to relax in with a glass of wine. It was the perfect addition to their home in the leafy bedroom community about half an hour outside of Washington, D.C.

But things didn’t work out for the couple, and after a five-year marriage, they divorced. Smack-dab in the middle of the worst recession in recent U.S. history. Moore said she lost a lot of equity in the home. But she didn’t want to abandon it and the hundreds of thousands of dollars they poured into it.

“I didn’t want to walk away from it, because I love it. We did a fabulous kitchen,” said Moore.

Her solution: three women who rent rooms from Moore in her five-bedroom house. You can call the foursome the real “Golden Girls.” They may not gather around the kitchen table for midnight cheesecake sessions like the ladies from the hit 1980’s TV show, but they do support one another in the form of an affordable, safe and comfortable living situation.

“So this was my answer to making lemonade out of lemons.” Moore said.

According to an AARP analysis of census data, approximately 132,000 households and 490,000 people live in a Golden Girls situation. And the number is expected to grow, especially given that one in three Baby Boomers is single, and a disproportionate number of them are women. And according to the Social Security Administration, widowed and divorced women rely on Social Security for 50 percent of their income after age 65, so frugality becomes a priority.

For Moore, becoming a landlord was a big change, but after six years and about 15 roommates later, the retired accountant and lawyer has become an expert in building these types of group homes. She’s the founder of the Golden Girls Network, a company that connects older roommates through a national database. And she’s written a book on how to set up a Golden Girls household. We asked her to share some of her tips, based on her experience as a homeowner. The first rule? “You really need to look at this with a positive attitude,” she said. “No. 1: positive attitude. I insist!”

Read the rest of Moore’s tips below:

1. What do you have to offer as a homeowner?

What does your house have to offer? A cozy living room for late night gatherings perhaps?

What does your house have to offer? A cozy living room for late night gatherings perhaps? “Golden Girls” photos of Estelle Getty, Betty White, Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan by ABC Studios via Getty Images

Moore says to take a look at your house with fresh eyes. Walk out the door and come back in as if you were a stranger. What does the room look like? What does it smell like? Consider baking cookies when a prospective tenant comes over for an interview.

Make a checklist of things you have to offer: Can you give her a private bathroom? Can you give her some kitchen shelf space?

2. Know yourself.

Are pets a no-no? Make a list of deal breakers before you place an ad.

Are pets a no-no? Make a list of deal breakers before you place an ad.

Examine what’s important to you, and know your deal breakers: Are pets OK? Is smoking? Alcohol?

Know what will work well in your house: Are there religious practices that may not fit into your lifestyle? Would a vegetarian be comfortable in a house full of meat eaters or vice versa? What’s a good age range for you? Are there working hours that work best? What cleanliness level suits you?

“Some people are OCD. Not in my house you’re not!” says Moore. “I keep my house ‘clean enough’ is what I call it.”

Make rules about common space. Moore recommends drafting a house agreement: write down details of what works for you and what isn’t going to work. Picky little things you never think about like can anyone put furniture in the common room? Can they hang pictures on the walls?

3. Look for creative ways of advertising.

Looking for a roommate? You need to spread the word. Photo by ABC Studios

Spread the word, “roommate wanted.”

When writing your ad, think to yourself, “what do I have to offer?” “’Walking distance to the Kennedy Center!’ That type of thing,” says Moore.

Craigslist is an option but you can also develop a flyer and pass it around in your social group or give it to your minister or rabbi. “Promote yourself,” says Moore.

Don’t put your address in the ad.

4. People start responding to the ad, now what?

Set up a phone conversation with a prospective roommate to see if your personalities click. Photo by ABC Studios

Set up a phone conversation with a prospective roommate to see if your personalities click.

Don’t give out your address when you talk to someone the first time.

Check all the deal breakers first through email.

Then get them on the phone and chit chat; find out how well you relate. And if you don’t think it’s going to work, Moore says to be straightforward. Say “I don’t think this is the right fit,” and be done with it.

If they get past the telephone conversation, then give them the address and invite them over for an interview.

Ask prospective roommates a series of questions: Why are you thinking of moving? When do you anticipate moving? Have you given a 30-day notice? “Some people have come to my house for an interview and they have not given a notice,” says Moore. “Thank you very much but you’re just shopping,” she tells them.

Watch for red flags. Are they leaving their current living situation because they don’t get along with their current landlord?

After the interview process, it’s time to talk about a lease. Moore recommends having one, which you can find samples of online. Moore also supplements the lease with a list of house agreements. “My house agreements are twice as long as the lease,” she says. This is where you can add rules about common areas and your deal breakers. Be very detailed, says Moore. You may need it in the long run.

5. So it’s not working. What do you do?

You tried but it didn't work. Don't worry, the next Dorothy or Rose or Sophia is out there somewhere. Photo by ABC Studios

You tried but it didn’t work. Don’t worry, the next Dorothy or Rose or Sophia is out there somewhere.

People fear getting into a bad situation and then not being able to get out of it. But you don’t have to be stuck with a bad situation for 12 months, says Moore. She adds, “If you’re unhappy, she’s unhappy. And if she’s unhappy she really wants to break the lease and get out of there. You need to offer her that option.”

This is where house agreements come into play. If a tenant has broken a rule, you can use that as an excuse to ask her to leave. This is a reminder to be detailed in your house agreement.

If a tenant is delinquent on rent or has left without paying, Moore recommends filing paperwork with the courts on the sixth day because it takes so long in the court process.

But, she says, “I have never had to evict anyone.” People usually respect the notice and leave before the end of the month. “You’re uncomfortable for 30 days and then it’s over.”

Bonnie Moore is a retired accountant and lawyer and the founder of the Golden Girls Network, a company that connects older women across the country and helps them find roommates in their area. She is the author of the book “How to Start a Golden Girls Home,” which this tip sheet is based on.

The post Roommate wanted: Must be clean, courteous and over 65 appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Your brain’s reaction time peaks at age 24, study finds

Wednesday, April 16 2014 04:49 PM

Researchers found that your brain’s cognitive reactions begin to slow down at age 24.

Researchers found that your brain’s cognitive reactions begin to slow down at age 24.

The next time some twenty-something complains that they feel old, you can reassure them that their feelings are, in fact, not ridiculous.

After studying 3,305 people ages 16 to 44, researchers found that the brain’s response time begins to decline at age 24. The descent is a slow, but nonetheless, steady one.

Researchers observed study participants’ reaction times as they played the video game StarCraft 2, and analyzed the speed at which they made “game-time” decisions to save their virtual lives.

The findings shouldn’t completely devastate you. The study also found that older participants compensated for their shortage of speed with strategy and efficiency.

The post Your brain’s reaction time peaks at age 24, study finds appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

What’s the welfare initiative uniting liberals and conservatives?

Wednesday, April 16 2014 04:35 PM

Conservatives like Veronique de Rugy support a basic income to eliminate government bureaucracy and the current welfare system, which they say, isn't as respectful of poor people. Photo by Flickr user Wavy1.

Some conservatives and liberals are uniting around the idea of a basic income because the current welfare system, they say, is an ineffective bureaucracy that doesn’t respect poor people’s ability to make their own decisions. Photo by Flickr user Wavy1.

Editor’s Note: As we explored on Making Sen$e last week, the Swiss will soon vote on a ballot referendum on a basic income: 34,000 Francs for every citizen, no strings attached. The idea has support in the United States though, too, and not necessarily from the ideological corners you’d expect.

Libertarian economist Charles Murray supports a basic income of $11,000 per adult citizen that would replace all other social welfare programs. But some liberals, like American University emerita professor Barbara Bergmann, oppose the idea because they want to see existing social welfare programs strengthened to target specific human needs.

Other liberals, like Occupy activist and London School of Economics professor David Graeber, who appears in our segment below, support the basic income as a way to simplify welfare bureaucracy.

Véronique de Rugy falls into Murray’s camp, but her criticism of the way the government makes decisions for poor people doesn’t sound that different from Graeber’s. A senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, de Rugy backs a minimum income that would replace the existing system and empower people who need assistance to decide for themselves how they want to spend the money. In France, de Rugy oversaw academic programs at the Institute for Humane Studies Europe. She appears in our Making Sen$e segment about Switzerland’s guaranteed income debate, and its appeal in the United States, which you can watch below:

Our extended conversation with de Rugy has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

What’s the argument for a minimum income?

The argument for a minimum income is that it would replace the current system, which is a bureaucratic nightmare for recipients. The best way to understand the appeal is that it is simple because it gives a lump sum of money to everyone.

It is fair, and more importantly, I think it is respectful of poor people. Unlike the current system, it doesn’t dictate to people who get this money and how to spend it. The minimum income assumes that they, better than anyone else in Washington, know what they need.

There’s a lot of very appealing features, and this is why support for it spans the political spectrum, from liberal to conservative, to libertarian icons like Milton Friedman, Charles Murray, Friedrich Hayek, James Buchanan.

But isn’t there the danger that by simply giving poor people money, you subsidize their already bad habits?

There are some people who will do something bad with the money, but building an entire system that assumes that everyone will do something bad with the money I think leads to the system that we have. And it’s a system that ends up not actually serving poor people well. They will do crazy things under the current system, too, by the way. But I actually believe that poor people, even though you are right, there is probably a minority of them who will do things crazy, are adult and they are responsible, and the majority of them will behave responsibly.

Does it feel odd to be on panels with liberals, arguing for the same thing?

It’s interesting. I have serious concerns that I’ve raised about the guaranteed minimum income, and one of them is the fact that I do believe that civil society and charity are really good alternatives. A system of liberal immigration laws and property rights and economic freedom would actually trigger economic growth, and that would serve poor people well, too. But this is not the system we have right now. We have a government that would distribute money, and in that context, the question that we have to ask is what is the best way to serve poor people. And I think that there are a lot of important aspects of these proposals that should appeal to free market [types] and libertarians, if only because, as I said, it is respectful, and it actually restores some of the faith that we have in people that they can actively, actually act responsibly.

My biggest concern with the guaranteed minimum income is that we will not be able to implement it in practice, and what you will end up with is the system as a new, multitrillion dollar layer of spending, on top of everything else we have. That’s my biggest reservation with this idea.

So you wouldn’t be in favor of it if it was an add-on? Charles Murray says we have to completely demolish the old system.

I agree with him. I think we have to get rid of the whole rest of the system. Well, for one thing, one of the concerns that we have with the guaranteed minimum income, right, is that if you, for instance, give $12,000 to every American adult, it’s a spending of $2.8 trillion. We can’t do it for the financial health of this country if we don’t get rid of all the rest. So the way it is designed, the way it is implemented, is key to gathering support of libertarians and free market people.

But what happens to the poor person who blows all the money in the casino? Don’t we then still have to provide free or subsidized medical care, say?

So what happens to the person right now who, in spite of all the help they’re getting, does all the crazy things that you’re talking about? There is a system that takes care of him. The idea is not to get rid of hospitals, or to forbid access to hospitals to people — this is not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about a better way to bring money to poor people.

It’s not a panacea because a lot of people are poor, not just because they don’t have money. Poverty is a mix of a lot of factors. What we’re talking about right now is not to turn everyone into a business creator or an entrepreneur. We’re trying to find an alternative to the terrible system that we have right now – a system that doesn’t help poor people.

There’s always a risk, but the truth of the matter is there is a vibrant, charitable system that exists in this country — a private system that actually takes care of poor people. So if you provide money already, then let civil society take care of the rest.

Suppose it doesn’t.

Well, the current system that is heavily directed by the government does a very poor job at helping people who are truly poor, and people who make extremely bad decisions with their lives. So I think it is time to give a chance to a vast majority of people who would thrive under an alternative to the current system.

Any chance this would ever happen in my lifetime, say? Or yours?

It’s hard to tell. I actually think that the biggest resistance to going to a guaranteed minimum income is all the special interests that benefit through the current system, which includes the bureaucracies that administer these programs.

The post What’s the welfare initiative uniting liberals and conservatives? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Death toll rises to 39 in Washington mudslide

Wednesday, April 16 2014 04:18 PM

The death toll from the mudslide that hit the Washington town of Oso has risen to 39.

The Snohomish County sheriff’s office still lists seven people as missing from the March 22 landslide that buried some 30 homes in the community about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.

Recovery workers with dogs are probing the debris, and the state Transportation Department is making plans to clear a mile-long stretch of Highway 530 that is covered with mud and trees up to 25 feet deep, the Associated Press reports.

The post Death toll rises to 39 in Washington mudslide appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Texas gubernatorial candidate faces thorny death penalty choice

Wednesday, April 16 2014 04:00 PM

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott must decide whether to stick to his opinion that Texas must disclose the source of the execution drugs it uses, or face criticism from death penalty advocates who say that disclosing the information could make the companies who make the drugs to stop selling them. Photo by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers via Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott must decide whether to stick to his opinion that Texas must disclose the source of the execution drugs it uses, or face criticism from death penalty advocates who say that disclosing the information could make the companies who make the drugs to stop selling them. File photo by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers via Getty Images

AUSTIN, Texas — The death penalty is like gun rights in Texas politics: Candidates don’t dare get in the way of either. But Republican Greg Abbott, the favorite to succeed Gov. Rick Perry, must soon make a decision as attorney general that could disrupt the nation’s busiest death chamber.

It’s an election-year dilemma for Abbott. But in Texas, it’s one that Democratic rival Wendy Davis can’t easily exploit, illustrating how little room there is to maneuver on this issue.

Abbott must soon decide whether to stick with his earlier opinions that Texas must disclose the source of the execution drugs it uses. That revelation could prompt attention-shy suppliers to halt their drug deliveries and stop Texas’ executions.

If Abbott holds firm, he’ll please death penalty opponents who prison officials say want to target the companies with protests and threats. Reversing course would go against his vows for transparency in government.

“There’s no political upside. It puts him in a little bit of a tough position,” said Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak.

The predicament comes up as Davis, the feisty Fort Worth lawmaker who has attracted national attention, is eager to find ways to shake up the campaign and prevent Abbott from riding a solid lead in the polls to a general election victory in the GOP-dominated state.

But Abbott’s difficulty leaves her with few opportunities since portraying the law-and-order attorney general, who has held the position since 2003, as somehow soft on crime would be implausible. Both Abbott and Davis support the death penalty.

“I don’t think any accusations here stick,” said Harold Cook, a onetime leader of the Texas Democratic Party and now a consultant.

Polls in recent years have shown public support in Texas for capital punishment at more than 70 percent. The state has executed an average of 20 inmates a year since Perry took office in 2001.

“In Texas, a lot of people feel like it’s a settled issue,” said Texas Democratic state Rep. Jessica Farrar, whose multiple bills to abolish the death penalty have attracted only a handful of supporters.

But death penalty opponents have managed to halt executions in some states, including conservative ones, by putting pressure on the suppliers of the lethal drugs, charging that the chemical executions can be cruel and unusual.

Since 2010, Abbott has rejected three attempts by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to keep information about its execution drug suppliers confidential. He ruled that the benefits of government transparency outweighed the state’s objections.

With prison officials warning that threats against suppliers are escalating, Abbott is expected to issue a ruling on the latest request in coming weeks.

When asked last weekend about Abbott’s options, Davis avoided calling Abbott out personally. She referred to an earlier statement that said she believes the execution drug information should be public.

“I support capital punishment and I believe that as it has worked in this state it’s been one that has provided due process in a way that I think we all would hope would occur,” she said.

Unless the issue is resolved, it could be a problem for whoever is elected Texas governor, some strategists say.

“If you are the governor when we run out of drugs and you can’t buy anymore, that’s where you’re going to create a problem,” said Republican consultant Allen Blakemore, a veteran of district attorney election races in Harris County.

Anti-capital punishment groups concede that Texas embraces the death penalty tighter than most but say public support for it is declining nationwide. Thirty-two states still have the death penalty after Illinois, Maryland and Connecticut – led by Democratic governors – repealed capital punishment in recent years.

“It’s certainly not the issue it used to be. And I would say that’s probably true politically,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington.

Two death row inmates in Texas were put to death this month with the state’s available supply of pentobarbital.

The post Texas gubernatorial candidate faces thorny death penalty choice appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Obama, Biden to announce $600 million in job grants

Wednesday, April 16 2014 02:36 PM

WASHINGTON — Striving to show action on jobs, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are hitting the road to trumpet $600 million in new competitive grants to spur creation of targeted training and apprenticeship programs that could help people land well-paying jobs.

They will make the announcement Wednesday at the Community College of Allegheny County West Hills Center in the western Pennsylvania borough of Oakdale.

Administration officials say they hear from too many businesses that they cannot find skilled workers for jobs they need to fill. On top of that, officials say many people who are looking for work may be open to learning new skills but need assurance that a job will be waiting for them at the end of a training program.

Obama and others in the administration often say community colleges are among the best sources for job training and say learn-on-the-job apprenticeship programs provide some of the most direct paths to well-paying jobs.

Although the economy is improving, unemployment remains stubbornly high at 6.7 percent and Obama says more must be done to create jobs.

The programs that Obama and his Pennsylvania-born vice president are announcing do not need approval from Congress because they will be paid for with money that lawmakers have already authorized for spending. In response to stiff resistance to his agenda from Republican lawmakers, Obama has made it a goal this year to take smaller steps on his own, without support from Congress, to benefit the economy, workers and others, and Wednesday’s program fits that script.

The larger of the two grant programs will put nearly $500 million toward a job training competition run by the Labor Department that is designed to encourage community colleges, employers and industry to work together to create training programs that are geared toward the jobs employers need to fill. Applications will be available starting Wednesday.

The training is part of an existing competitive grant program for community colleges that prepare dislocated workers and others for jobs.

A priority will be placed on partnerships that include national entities, such as industry associations, that pledge to help design and institute programs that give job seekers a credential that will be recognized and accepted across a particular industry, signaling to an employer what kind of work the holder can do.

The Labor Department is also making an additional $100 million available for grants to reward partnerships that expand apprenticeship programs.

Apprenticeships are used less widely in the U.S. than in some other countries, said administration officials, who also noted that nearly 9 out of 10 apprentices end up in jobs that pay average starting salaries of above $50,000 a year.

The apprenticeship grant program will begin in the fall and focus, in part, on broad partnerships that create programs in high-growth fields, such as information technology, health care and advanced manufacturing, as well as programs that provide college credit or industry-wide skills certification.

Obama earlier this year put Biden, who is a native of Scranton, Pa., in charge of a “soup-to-nuts” review of federal job-training programs, and set a July 30 deadline for his report.

House Republicans have complained that Biden’s effort is a waste of time because the Government Accountability Office, the auditing arm of Congress, has identified redundancies in a comprehensive review it completed in 2011. They have urged Obama to press his allies in the Democratic-controlled Senate to vote on a House-passed measure that proposes to streamline dozens of duplicative job training programs.

Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: HTTP://WWW.TWITTER.COM/DSUPERVILLEAP

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Ferry carrying 459 sinks off coast of S. Korea; Four confirmed dead

Wednesday, April 16 2014 01:45 PM

Relatives of missing people wait at a Jindo port in Jindo-gun, South Korea. The  ferry identified as the Sewol was carrying 459 passengers, including the students and teachers traveling to Jeju island. Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Relatives of missing people wait at a Jindo port in Jindo-gun, South Korea. The ferry identified as the Sewol was carrying 459 passengers, including the students and teachers traveling to Jeju island. Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

A ferry carrying 459 people sank off of South Korea’s southern coast Wednesday. At least four people are confirmed dead with 55 injured. Nearly 300 people are still missing. Most of the passengers on the boat were high school students on an overnight trip to a tourist island.

The ferry sent a distress call at about 9 a.m. Wednesday. Dozens of rescue vessels and aircraft swarmed the ferry, with rescuers climbing over its sides, pulling out passengers wearing orange life jackets, The Associated Press reported. But the ship overturned completely and continued to sink and within a few hours only its bow stuck out of the water. And then that, too, disappeared.

The death toll is expected to rise dramatically as the waters in the area are around 54 degrees Fahrenheit, cold enough to cause signs of hypothermia after about 1 1/2 hours of exposure.

The post Ferry carrying 459 sinks off coast of S. Korea; Four confirmed dead appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Outside spending on record-breaking pace

Wednesday, April 16 2014 01:23 PM


The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Outside groups spent $56 million already, double this point in 2010
  • A quarter of that spent in the Big Six Senate races
  • A look at the ad wars in key Senate races
  • 23 donors have already “maxed out” – 86 percent of that money went to Republicans
  • Will Obama take executive action on immigration?
  • Americans split on whether to do ANYTHING about Ukraine

Money talks: Federal campaign finance reports were (in theory) due at midnight for the first quarter of 2014, and we’re going to be looking at a few different angles on money in this election. First, what’s available comprehensively is outside spending (because it’s updated more regularly). So far, outside groups have spent $56 million, outpacing every other midterm election to this point and more than doubling 2010 spending (which was $23 million at this point), the previous record year for midterms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In fact, outside spending has already outpaced every PRESIDENTIAL election except 2012. At this point in 2008, for example, $32 million was spent by outside groups. But that was a pre-Citizens United world. Campaign money watchers expect that outside spending could top $500 million this cycle. That’s half-a-billion dollars. All this indicates what will be an explosion of outside money in the 2016 presidential, especially following the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon ruling.


Where’s outside money being spent: So far, a quarter — $14.4 million — of all that outside money has been spent on just six key Senate races. We can’t do comparisons YET to the campaigns because not all of their FEC reports have been filed, but so far, per CRP, of those Big Six races, the most outside money has been spent in North Carolina, followed closely by Kentucky and then Arkansas:

  • North Carolina $3.95 million
  • Kentucky $3.64 million
  • Arkansas $2.97 million
  • Louisiana $1.73 million
  • Alaska $1.14 million
  • Georgia $1.01 million

North Carolina also dominates on ad spending so far. Per Republican ad-tracking firm SMG Delta, here are the numbers. Note that the only state where pro-Democratic groups are outspending Republican ones is Louisiana, where Democrat Mary Landrieu is not going to go down without a fight:

  • North Carolina: $7.7 million ($5.3 million pro-Republican, $2.4 million pro-Democrat)
  • Louisiana: $6.6 million ($4 million pro-Democrat, $2.6 million pro-Republican)
  • Georgia: $6 million ($5.7 million pro-Republican with GOP primary, $319,000 pro-Democrat)
  • Arkansas: $5.3 million ($3.2 million pro-Republican, $2.1 million pro-Democrat)
  • Kentucky: $4 million ($3.4 million pro-Republican with GOP primary, $574,000 anti-McConnell but no pro-Dem money yet)
  • Alaska: $3 million ($1.7 million pro-Republican, $1.3 million pro-Democratic)

Maxed out: In McCutcheon, the Supreme Court ruled that big donors can no longer max out in a cycle. They still have limits on how much they can give to any one candidate, but they can now give to as many candidates as they want. Previously, there was an aggregate limit of $123,200 for any one donor to campaigns, PACs, and political parties. But here are a couple of fascinating statistics:

  • 23 donors would have ALREADY maxed out this cycle under the old pre-McCutcheon rules (and this is BEFORE first-quarter filings were in).
  • 86 percent of the maxed-out money this cycle has gone to Republicans ($2.8 million to $458,000).
  • 664 donors maxed out in 2012 (and all of them surpassed the limit).
  • 61 percent of that money went to Republicans ($54.4 million to $34.2 million). Wonder why the Republican National Committee joined that McCutcheon lawsuit?

One name that popped out to us who maxed out in both cycles — Ronald Gidwitz, who happened to be the all-time spender on a gubernatorial bid in Illinois (2006) before Bruce Rauner, this year’s GOP nominee, outdid him. Gidwitz, by the way, has endorsed Rauner. About $75 million or so is expected to be spent on that governor’s race this year, to be topped only by the Florida governor’s race.

Is it still ¡Obama!? After President Barack Obama’s meeting Tuesday at the White House with faith leaders, one of those in the room, the Rev. Luis Cortes, took to the microphones and declared that the president said “he would not be doing anything to change the law as it currently exists” through executive action, PBS NewsHour’s Elizabeth Summers reports. The White House, however, says, in fact, President Obama has NOT ruled out executive action on immigration, but the “focus” of the meeting was on moving legislation through the House. AP framed it this way: Mr. Obama “has no plans to make unilateral changes to the nation’s immigration laws while there’s still a window for Congress to pass legislation.” But that window appears boarded up. Immigration reform, of course, passed the Democratic-controlled Senate last June with Obama’s backing, but it was dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled House. Speaker John Boehner, who entertained the idea of a piecemeal approach, declared earlier this year that nothing could get through because his conference didn’t “trust” the president. There’s no indication that there will be any movement on this before the 2014 midterm elections. It’s been a month since the Department of Homeland Security began its review of the administration’s deportation policy. And advocates have been irritated by the president’s unwillingness to take more decisive action, especially for a group that was so key to his re-election and future Democratic prospects.

Little support for strong intervention in Ukraine: As the West weighs its (not very good) options on the situation in Ukraine, a McClatchy-Marist poll gives fresh evidence to why it is so difficult for President Obama to even try and sell the American people on any kind of intervention. A majority (55 percent) say Ukraine is key to U.S. interests, but half (50 percent) don’t think the U.S. should “draw a hard line against Russia.” But maybe the most intriguing number in the poll: Americans are split on whether to do anything at all — 46 percent favor diplomacy and economic sanctions, while 43 percent say do nothing. That’s despite two-thirds (66 percent) thinking Russia won’t stop at Crimea and almost half (46 percent) saying another Cold War is likely. Mr. Obama gets a 45 to 45 percent approval on his handling of Ukraine and a 45 to 52 percent overall job approval.

Blasts from the past – so you want to run for office?: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is facing criticism from the right after Mother Jones unearthed a 2009 video in which he says former Vice President Dick Cheney pushed for the war in Iraq so Halliburton would benefit. Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens and National Review’s Rich Lowry blasted Paul. “His instincts sometimes seem more appropriate to a dorm-room bull session than the Situation Room,” Lowry writes. Paul pens an op-ed in the Washington Post Wednesday: “Nuance has been a bit lacking in our foreign policy of late.”… Speaking of unearthed past comments, Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kacynski reports that Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s tea party challenger, State Sen. Chris McDaniel, “wrote blog posts [in the mid-2000s] criticizing poor people affected by Hurricane Katrina and mocking a Muslim man’s name,” and alleged that the Supreme Court tried to “de-Christianize” America in its 1955 ruling on the 14th Amendment. McDaniel was also in hot water last week, after the Wall Street Journal revealed clips from McDaniel’s former radio show. On top of this, Cochran has raised three times as much as McDaniel, and is up double-digits in the polls..

Daily Presidential Trivia:
On this day in 1862, President Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act, which ended slavery in the nation’s capital. How many senators originally voted against the legislation? Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer @NewsHour, @rachelwellford, @DomenicoPBS, and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Ty Matsdorf (@tymatsdorf) for getting yesterday’s answer – the Secret Service. Go Grizz! Also a hat tip to Ben Goodman (@BenGoodman) for a very close second place.

Quote of the day:
“I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.” — the always-humble former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, citing his policy pushes in a New York Times story detailing his $50 million pledge to take on the NRA this year. The New Yorker once took aim at Bloomberg’s view of himself. One St. Peter interview question: What else could be done with $268 million other than getting yourself elected mayor three times?


  • According to campaign announcements — and not official campaign filings yet — vulnerable Senate Democrats in Alaska and Arkansas got outraised by their Republican challengers. But Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Mary Landrieu in Louisiana maintain a cash advantage in their races. And with a little help from Bill Clinton, in Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes outraised Sen. Mitch McConnell, but he maintains a cash on hand advantage.

  • Landrieu is being criticized for an ad in which she reenacts — and cleans up — remarks during a Senate hearing last year. Democrats point to the illegality of using actual Senate proceedings in campaign ads.

  • The DCCC said it raised $23.6 million in the first quarter of 2014 — more than most super PACs’ three-month totals — with $10.3 million of that in March. They have $40.2 million cash on hand.

  • Mr. Obama is announcing a $600 million job-training initiative with Vice President Joe Biden at 3:35 p.m. Wednesday in Oakdale, Pennsylvania, at the Community College of Allegheny County.

  • The Brookings Institute maps out the average income tax paid by county in the U.S.

  • The New York Times captures the buzz around the Texas twins — Democratic San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and Rep. Joaquin Castro.

  • Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval and Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Lincoln Chafee wrote to Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, urging the House to take up the Senate’s unemployment insurance extension bill.

  • Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, has joined the effort to get unemployment insurance benefits extended.

  • A Montana state senator running against GOP Rep. Steve Gaines in the June primary is out with a new ad in which he shoots down a drone.

  • Some former candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 racked up a good amount of debt and have yet to pay it off.

  • Florida Democrat Alex Sink will not run against Rep. David Jolly in November, after losing to the Republican in the March special election. Jolly has been added to the NRCC’s incumbent protection program.

  • House Democrats are targeting 30 Republicans to join them in voting for immigration reform.

  • Mr. Obama reduced the prison sentence of a convicted drug trafficker, after a clerical error had wrongly extended his time in prison by three and a half years.

  • Democracy for America is endorsing Staci Appel in Iowa’s 3rd district and Kelly Westlund in Wisconsin’s 7th.

  • A Texas judge formed a grand jury Monday to investigate Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to cut funding for the state’s Public Integrity Unit and his attempts to oust its director after she was arrested for drunk driving.

  • Sarah Palin’s political action committee “Sarah PAC” has recently increased its contributions to federal campaigns, including donations to Utah Sen. Mike Lee, Mississippi candidate Chris McDaniel, Iowa candidate Joni Ernst and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.

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


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

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Foster families find and share support with elders at Oregon housing community

Tuesday, April 15 2014 10:41 PM


Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

JUDY WOODRUFF: Picking up on what we just heard, next, turning the corner — about 15 percent of seniors in the U.S. live below the poverty line and many struggle to find affordable housing. But a unique community in Oregon is offering low-income seniors reduced rents, in exchange for their time, volunteering time, to be specific.

The NewsHour’s Cat Wise reports for our Taking Care series.

JACKIE LYNN, Resident, Bridge Meadows: What can we draw?

CHILD: Maybe a pirate?

JACKIE LYNN: How about if we have a pirate that is into flowers?


CAT WISE: Four years ago, Jackie Lynn began the process of adopting her niece’s children, who were living in the foster care in Portland, Oregon. Their mother and father, both drug addicts, are now in jail. Lynn is 60. She’s raised two grown children of her own, and she works full-time.

JACKIE LYNN: It was tough. I had no support whatsoever. I would be fixing dinner, and doing homework, and taking care of kids, and laundry, and all of it. But the kids weren’t getting the attention that they needed.

CAT WISE: But, in 2011, Lynn and the kids moved to Bridge Meadows, a supportive housing development for families who adopt foster children. That, in itself, is pretty unique, but what really sets this property apart is this.


JIM CORCORAN, Resident, Bridge Meadows: Hey. Where’s my buddies?

JACKIE LYNN: Hi. Well, you look nice today.

JIM CORCORAN: Thank you.


CAT WISE: Jim and Joy Corcoran are Lynn’s neighbors, and they are known here as the elders.

JIM CORCORAN: I think we ought to go over to the park. What do you think?  Because we haven’t been on the play structures in a long time.

CAT WISE: There are 27 apartments at Bridge Meadows for low-income seniors who agree to volunteer about 10 hours a week with the adoptive families, in exchange for reduced rents. And for Jackie Lynn, that support has been crucial.

JACKIE LYNN: They are the reason that we thrive. Jim takes the boys every Sunday morning for about three hours. And they come home excited, with all these wonderful stories. You see children running up to them and giving them hugs. It’s just incredible to watch it.

CAT WISE: Jim and Joy Corcoran, who struggled financially after Jim lost his job in the construction industry, now pay $500 a month for a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment.

JOY CORCORAN, Resident, Bridge Meadows: It was really difficult to find any decent housing that we could afford in any regard. And so when we had the opportunity to move here, it was just a godsend. It was like a huge relief.

CAT WISE: Joy is an artist with a long-term disability. She leads story time every week in the community library.

JOY CORCORAN: It’s sort of almost like a fantasy of being a librarian, or a teacher, or something like that, that I can’t really do physically, but now I have that option to share with children.

CAT WISE: The development is funded by rents, as well as donations from corporations, foundations, and private individuals.

The old and young mix here, every day, in multiple ways. Once a week, everyone comes together in the intergenerational community room. Elders provide babysitting, tutoring, music lessons, even rides to school. And there are counselors on site to help both the families and seniors cope with the challenges of caring for children who have often been through a lot.

Derenda Schubert is executive director.

DERENDA SCHUBERT, Executive Director, Bridge Meadows: One of the beautiful features of Bridge Meadows is that there’s reciprocity among the generations, so the elders are providing love and support to the families, and the families are doing the same, and even the children are giving back to the elders.

CAT WISE: In fact, Schubert says that the health of many of the seniors, both physical and mental, has improved since they moved in. But she admits the close-knit community is not for everyone.

DERENDA SCHUBERT: We have had some folks move in and realize, oh, this is a little too much for me. It’s a little bit of a fishbowl, and I don’t know that I want everybody knowing my business. Like, the best part is people know your business, and the worst part is people know your business. So if that’s not something you’re looking for, an intentional intergenerational community is probably not for you.

But if you really are looking for a group of people who you feel like you’re now an integral part of a community, then this is a beautiful place to age.

CAT WISE: For his part, Jim Corcoran says he can’t imagine being anywhere else.

JIM CORCORAN: We’re flourishing and evolving in this environment, and we’re growing big time. If you go to live in an apartment complex with a bunch of older people, for instance, people kind of wither away, and it’s really not right. Connections across the generations is critical, absolutely critical for aging well.

CAT WISE: Demand for housing at Bridge Meadows remains high from seniors and adoptive families. Some 8,000 children in Oregon’s foster care system are awaiting permanent placement. Construction on a new property, across town, is expected to begin next year. And Bridge Meadows staff are now consulting with several other communities around the U.S. that are planning to open similar developments in the coming years.

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