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Military radar indicates that the missing Boeing 777 jet may have turned back, Malaysia's air force chief said Sunday as scores of ships and aircraft from across Asia resumed a hunt for the plane and its 239 passengers.

There was still no confirmed sighting of debris in the seas between Malaysia and Vietnam where it vanished from screens early Saturday morning en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. The weather was fine, the plane was already cruising and the pilots didn't send a distress signal — unusual circumstance for a modern jetliner to crash.

Air force chief Rodzali Daud didn't say which direction the plane might have taken when it apparently went off route.

"We are trying to make sense of this," he told a media conference. "The military radar indicated that the aircraft may have made a turn back and in some parts, this was corroborated by civilian radar."

Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said pilots were supposed to inform the airline and traffic control authorities if the plane does start to return. "From what we have, there was no such distress signal or distress call per say, so we are equally puzzled," he said.

Authorities were checking on the suspect identities of at least two passengers who appear to have boarded with stolen passports. On Saturday, the foreign ministries in Italy and Austria said the names of two citizens listed on the flight's manifest matched the names on two passports reported stolen in Thailand.

The Two-Way

Malaysian Jetliner Has Been Missing For More Than 24 Hours; Search Goes On

Think of the budget plan released Tuesday by President Obama as a magic wand. If he could wave it and make every line come true, how would the U.S. economy look?

Like this:

Wealthier Americans would be paying more in taxes, while poorer ones would be getting new tax credits. More roads would be under construction and scientists would be receiving more funding. Smokers would be paying more in taxes to allow four-year-olds to attend preschool.

Obama's focus is on job creation, job training and education — and he would pay for changes by imposing higher taxes.

But Republicans don't see a magic wand. They view the White House budget as a club that will beat down the economy with heavier taxes.

The Obama plan "would demand that families pay more, so Washington can spend more," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Tuesday in a statement. "Republicans believe in a different vision."

On Monday, Ryan released a report suggesting that the government eliminate funding for many poverty programs he says have failed.

So are the two economic visions really so different? How?

Alan Viard, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former staff economist for the George W. Bush administration, said he does see immense differences between Obama's and Ryan's fiscal plans.

In effect, Obama would tweak the budget to try to shrink income disparities. But Ryan, he says, would radically change the budget by instituting structural changes in taxes, anti-poverty programs and entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

In that sense, Obama's plan could be seen as a less dramatic approach in that it would stay closer to the country's existing path, Viard says. "There's nothing 'socialist' in Obama's budget. It's a commitment to the status quo, with minor changes that he would consider improvements."

It tilts the economy more in the direction of taxing the rich to help the poor in the short term, he adds, but without changing big entitlement programs for the long term.

Obama Budget: A Blueprint With Little Chance Of Passage

A judge held an unusual hearing in New Jersey on Tuesday: a lawsuit brought by an 18-year-old who says her parents kicked her out of their house. Rachel Canning is seeking to force her parents to give her financial support and money for college, in addition to pay for tuition at her private school.

Superior Court Family Division Judge Peter Bogaard, who heard the case in Morristown, N.J., on Tuesday afternoon, denied Canning's requests in what's seen as the first round of hearings in the case.

"All requests by plaintiff for emergent relief at this point are denied," tweeted Michael Izzo of the Daily Record, which was apparently the first news outlet to report the news of the lawsuit.

The judge set a date of April 22 for a hearing to consider other issues in the case, such as Canning's legal status, the Daily Record reports.

In discussing the case after nearly two hours of testimony, the judge cited an email from Canning to her parents in which she said, "I'm my biggest enemy ... And do realize that a change has to be made," Izzo says.

Bogaard also "noted that Rachel Canning's behavior over the past year has been in question," reports CBS 2 TV: "one or two school suspensions, drinking, losing her captaincy on the cheerleading squad and being kicked out of the campus ministry."

The news station says the judge also told the Cannings that they should have tried to get help for their daughter instead of cutting her off.

Bogaard said the question of public policy must be considered, Izzo reported, as the case might set a precedent in which children can flout their parents' rules and then demand money from them.

Court documents filed by Rachel Canning alleged that her parents abandoned her. But her lawsuit stopped short of seeking full emancipation from them – if that connection is removed, her parents would cease to have an obligation toward their daughter.

"We're being sued by our child," Sean Canning told CBS 2's Christine Sloan Monday. "I'm dumbfounded. So is my wife, so are my other daughters."

Rachel Canning, a senior at Morris Catholic High School, is on the honor roll and the cheerleading squad; she plays lacrosse and has a $20,000 scholarship, according to multiple reports. She has been accepted at several colleges and reportedly hopes to attend the University of Vermont.

Since leaving her parents' home, Canning has been living with a friend whose father helped her sue, as The Asbury Park Press reports:

"Since the alleged "abandonment" by her parents, Rachel has been living in Rockaway Township with the family of her best friend and fellow student Jaime Inglesino, whose father is attorney and former Morris County Freeholder John Inglesino. Inglesino is funding the lawsuit and hired attorney Helfand, who included in the lawsuit a request that the parents pay their daughter's legal fees that so far total $12,597."

In late December, Canning's parents' attorney wrote a letter stating that the parents would continue to pay for Rachel's health insurance and saying she is entitled to money from a college fund they created, reports the The Star-Ledger.

"I know Rachel is a) a good kid, b) an incredibly rebellious teen, and she's getting some terrible information," Sean Canning told CBS 2.

He told the TV station that his daughter left home in November. The Canning household isn't a strict one, he said, noting that curfew is often after 11 p.m. Several local media outlets have reported that the Cannings did not approve of their daughter's boyfriend, whom the Daily Record has identified as a fellow senior at Morris Catholic.

Tuesday afternoon, Sean and Elizabeth Canning and their daughter came to court to discuss her lawsuit against them. They sat "at opposite ends" of the same table, Fox News' Rick Leventhal tweets. "All look miserable."

For today's hearing, the parents were "required to produce information about their incomes, including their 2011 and 2012 tax returns and their last three pay stubs," reports the The Star-Ledger.

The newspaper adds that Sean Canning currently works as a business administrator for the Township of Mount Olive; Elizabeth Canning is a legal secretary.

An intense discussion of the case is underway at the Asbury Park Press, where the top-rated comment came from a woman warning Rachel Canning that she was putting her future at risk. When people learn about her past, reader Emily Ruman warned, "they will most likely put on you on their 'she was crazy then, she is probably still crazy' list of people that they don't hire, date, befriend or otherwise associate with."

Another comment reiterated a time-honored rule: "If you don't like the rules here, move out."

Update at 6 a.m. Wednesday: The Scholarship
There's confusion over whether Canning's $20,000 scholarship comes from the University of Vermont or Wells College in Aurora, N.Y., with several local and national media reports asserting each version. We've reworded part of this post to reflect that uncertainty.

One of Bitcoin's largest trading exchanges shut down Tuesday, and you probably couldn't care less.

So what if rumors are circulating that millions of dollars' worth of Bitcoin are stolen? If you don't understand Bitcoin in the first place, it's hard to figure out why this matters. So we're using this as an opportunity to go back to the basics: what this b-word means, where it came from and why it just might matter.

The Birth Of Bitcoin

This is the stuff of a Dan Brown novel.

Bitcoin emerged from the work of Satoshi Nakamoto. The hook is, no one actually knows who Satoshi Nakamoto is. (It's inaccurate, of course to say "no one," but the people who do know aren't talking.) In 2008, he/she/they released a detailed concept for a self-regulating crypto-currency and wrote a whole bunch of incredible code to support it. But Satoshi Nakamoto stopped responding to emails in 2011. It's been a wild goose chase ever since.

Satoshi Nakamoto's concept is that of a democratically organized currency: no government regulation, no centralized bank. It's been embraced by, among others, libertarians trying to undermine monetary regulation policies and entrepreneurs trying to avoid financial corruption in developing countries.

While it's a difficult concept to grasp — we'll get to that in a second — it's worth at least getting familiar with because Bitcoin will continue to be covered regardless of whether the media understands it, says Vili Lehdonvirta, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute.

"It's the perfect story. It has the mysterious background, started by a pseudonymous character," he says. "As humans, we like to dream about how things could be different. ... I think that for many people Bitcoin allows them to dream those dreams."

Not to mention, there's a lot of money involved. After all, it fundamentally is about money. Think of this as a Hollywood "inspired by a true story" blockbuster waiting to happen.

We recommend: Motherboard's Who Is Satoshi Nakamoto, The Creator Of Bitcoin?

OK, I'm Hooked. So What Is It?

In the great words of Shrek, Bitcoin is like an onion: It has layers. At its most superficial, it's a virtual currency, allowing you to transfer money to other people anywhere in the world without any physical exchange of dollar bills — just as you can with, say, PayPal or online credit card payments.

But the system behind it is much different. There's no central organization, like a bank or government treasury, organizing and keeping track of it. The bookkeeping is completely decentralized and is supposedly impossible to bamboozle, the way a bank could cook its books without anyone else looking. There's no intrinsic value, the way you could make a necklace out of gold, or government backing, the way modern "fiat" money has. And it's completely anonymous — you never have to give anyone your name or Social Security number or credit card number.

The whole process is made much more complicated by the technical aspects of how it works on a molecular level. There's lot of encryption and computational power involved. I don't pretend to be an expert in it, so I'll refer you to the source: Satoshi Nakamoto's original whitepaper.

We recommend: Medium's Explain Bitcoin Like I'm Five and, once you've mastered that, Quartz's By reading this article, you're mining bitcoins. If you want to delve into the murky world of Bitcoin mining, check out the New York Times' Into The Bitcoin Mines.

Trials, Tribulation

Ready for more of the Hollywood blockbuster plot line? Bitcoin's intrinsic anonymity makes it a prime currency for shady dealings. A Texas man who allegedly ran a Ponzi scheme used Bitcoin. An online black market called Silk Road, which the FBI shut down in October, used Bitcoin.

Silk Road got back into business shortly after, but earlier this month, hackers allegedly exploited a Bitcoin glitch to steal millions from customers. The value of Bitcoin fluctuates wildly, at one point dropping from $1,200 to less than $600 per coin after the Chinese government denounced it.

On top of all these, the failure of one of its largest exchanges, Mt. Gox, led some to speculate that this would ruin Bitcoin's legitimacy for good. But William Luther, an economics professor at Kenyon College in Ohio, says this might actually help Bitcoin in the long run because it forces people away from this first-generation business to more sophisticated exchanges.

"Now there will be an air of professionalism surrounding Bitcoin that wasn't there before," Luther says.

Bitcoin is also accepted by a growing number of businesses — including Overstock.com, two casinos in Las Vegas and a Subway sandwich shop in Allentown, Pa. Overstock's executive vice chairman, Jonathan Johnson, says the Mt. Gox news won't affect whether the company continues to accept the currency.

In fact, he says, Bitcoin has been great for business. It brings in new customers and prevents online shopping fraud. And Overstock converts bitcoins to dollars immediately after payment, so the fluctuations don't really affect the company.

It also has cut Overstock's credit card transaction fees, Johnson says. That's a benefit that could very well appeal to everyday consumers, too.

We recommend: NPR reporter Alan Yu's How Virtual Currency Could Make It Easier To Move Money

The Bigger Benefit

This stumbling and growing revolution has done something remarkable: In order to truly wrap your head around the concept, you are forced to contemplate how money works.

Is assigning value to a piece of paper any different than assigning value to encrypted electronic signals? Can we have a sustainable currency without the backing of powerful people assuring us that our money's good? Are there ways to secure money outside of banks?

Luther, the economics professor, calls himself a "Bitcoin skeptic" — he's not convinced it will last — but he says questions like these are worth the ride.

"Bitcoin has brought the question of alternative currencies back to the table, and I think that's a good thing," he says. "Money is a very old concept, and it's difficult for me to think that there's not a better way to make transactions."

Members of pro-Russian forces and Ukraine's military have engaged in several tense standoffs in the largely autonomous region of Crimea, but they have also avoided violence in what's widely seen as a dangerous and uncertain situation. Diplomats are still working to find a possible solution.

Crimea's parliament has set a date of March 16 for a public vote on seceding from Ukraine. The region's new leader says pro-Russian forces now control all access to the region. Russia denies its forces are active in Crimea — something the U.S. State Department deride as "President Putin's fiction."

Here are the latest updates from Ukraine – we'll be adding to this post all day Saturday:

A Russian military truck reportedly smashed through the gate of a Ukrainian missile-defense base in Sevastopol, the Crimean port city that is home to Russia's Black Sea fleet, as Scott reported for the Two-Way Friday afternoon.

That confrontation ended without a shot being fired — and with the assaulting force leaving the scene, according to reports. Other incidents have been reported in the past 12 hours, including the capture of a border guard post by pro-Russian forces.

A Ukrainian military office in Simferopol, Crimea's regional capital, was reportedly taken over by around 100 armed men, according to CNN. The network describes the spot:

"A CNN team that visited the scene said it appeared calm. Armed, masked men were at the entrance, and Russian flags were being painted on the gates. Those questioned declined to say what was happening inside."

Another hectic week in the technology space wraps up just as the massive festival for interactive geeks and the marketers who love them — South By Southwest — gets under way in Austin, Texas.

If this is your first All Tech roundup, we organize it in three sections: ICYMI for some highlights from NPR's coverage this week, Big Conversations for what's buzzing across the Internet in the technology and culture space and Curiosities for oddities that piqued our interest. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


#NPRWIT: This week, NPR's Tell Me More launched a celebration of women in technology, during which the field's leading ladies will showcase a day in their lives on Twitter. You can ask questions and participate in the conversation using the hashtag #NPRWIT. Melinda Gates is doing it!

Thanks, technology! Service industry workers should rejoice the likes of Square, an iPad-based cash register. It presents customers with a screen that suggests tip amounts, and "you physically have to hit 'no-tip' — and feel like a jerk — if you want to be stingy," Dan Bobkoff writes. In other news of how technology is changing the world, Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, explores how new car technology is slowly acclimating us to the idea of driverless cars.

Are you following @TellMeMoreNPR’s #NPRWIT conversation? Great look inside the lives of innovative women: http://t.co/vw4cFIyTrK

— Melinda Gates (@melindagates) March 4, 2014


A California lawmaker has proposed a measure that would prohibit SeaWorld San Diego from using orcas in its shows.

Richard Bloom, a Santa Monica Democrat, says the documentary Blackfish, which examines the 2010 death of a SeaWorld trainer by a captive orca, inspired him to push the bill.

Blackfish, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, also highlights other incidents in which trainers were either hurt or had close calls with orcas, also known as killer whales. Filmmakers also detail what they say are cramped living conditions for the marine mammals, which are the centerpiece of SeaWorld's acrobatic shows.

"There is no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes," Bloom said Friday. "These beautiful creatures are much too large and far too intelligent to be confined in small, concrete tanks for their entire lives."

SeaWorld Entertainment, the parent company that also runs parks in Orlando, Fla., and San Antonio, Texas, has called Blackfish "propaganda," saying "the film conveys falsehoods, manipulates viewers emotionally, and relies on questionable filmmaking techniques to create 'facts' that support its point of view." The company says Blackfish gives the false impression that conditions at the parks are harmful to whales and trainers and that SeaWorld has covered up information related to fatal 2010 training mishaps.

The New York Times reported last month that:

"Blackfish has become a rallying point for those who oppose the use of killer whales for entertainment in the SeaWorld parks, and it has drawn large audiences in theaters and on TV. But SeaWorld has defended its practices, mounting an aggressive pushback against the film."

"The company continued its counterattack with a complaint delivered ... to the Labor Department. It accuses the official examining an orca's 2010 fatal attack on a SeaWorld trainer of ethical violations, including leaking confidential documents to the makers of Blackfish."

On Thursday, Newsweek's Leah McGrath Goodman reported that she had found the founder of the crypto-currency Bitcoin — the elusive Satoshi Nakamoto, a person or group of people whose true identity has been unknown.

As we discussed Thursday ('Newsweek' Says It Found Bitcoin's Founder: 4 Things To Know), this isn't the first time journalists have tried to pinpoint the real Satoshi Nakamoto. But this certainly has garnered the most attention.

It sparked a good, old-fashioned media frenzy — reporters swarmed the Los Angeles area home of Dorian n Satoshi Nakamoto, chased him in their cars as he drove to lunch with Associated Press reporter Ryan Nakashima, and reported on his statement to the AP denying that he was the brilliant enigma who created Bitcoin — "I got nothing to do with it," Dorian Nakamoto said.

But Goodman told Jeremy Hobson on NPR's Here And Now Friday that she stands by her reporting.

His family told me that he would deny it. In fact, I was very surprised when he acknowledged it to me when I met with him. ... I said, "People think that you are the founder of Bitcoin," ... and he said, "I cannot talk about that, I'm not connected with it anymore."

And I reasserted, "We are talking about Bitcoin here, correct?" and he said "Yes!" ... and in addition, my last question to him was: "If you are in any way not connected, you need to tell me. You need to tell me now." And he said, "I cannot do that."

This post will be updated.

The latest news about job growth and the nation's unemployment rate is due at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Economists expect to hear that while the jobless rate stayed at a five-year-low 6.6 percent last month, job growth was relatively weak.

As NPR's John Ydstie reported on Morning Edition, this winter's especially cold weather across much of the nation likely held down hiring — particularly in the construction industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is expected to say that about 150,000 jobs were added to payrolls in February.

That would be a modest uptick from January's pace. In its initial report for that month, BLS said employers added only 113,000 jobs to payrolls. But 150,000 jobs is still a small gain in an economy that employs more than 145 million people.

We'll be updating this post as news from the report comes in.

While watching the turmoil in Ukraine unfold, you may feel as though it has little to do with the United States, but the conflict is stirring a contentious debate in Europe over a topic familiar to many Americans: fracking.

Much of the continent depends on Russian natural gas that flows through pipelines in Ukraine. European countries are asking themselves whether to follow the U.S. example and drill for shale gas.

In Lancashire in northern England, local anti-fracking groups had been campaigning against shale gas long before the discord in Ukraine made headlines, distributing leaflets and holding public meetings. With several shale gas wells planned for this and other counties, Britain has become a flashpoint for fracking, or hydraulic fracturing — the controversial method of pumping water and chemicals deep into shale deposits to release natural gas. Local resident Anne Fielding is determined to stop them.

"People don't know what's going to happen," Fielding says. "They don't know about the level of pollution and a lot of our information that's come from America has been really frightening."

Many Europeans regard the U.S. boom in shale gas with trepidation. While France and Bulgaria have even banned fracking, others look at the U.S. with envy, says Julian Lee of the Centre for Global Energy Studies in London.

Planet Money

Quick Reminder: Russia Is A Petro State


The loudest voice taking on vulnerable Senate Democrats right now is not the Republican party, but Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group founded by the billionaire Koch brothers.

It's been decades since the advertising industry recognized the need to woo Hispanic consumers. Big companies saw the market potential and sank millions of dollars into ads. The most basic dos and don'ts of marketing to Latinos in the United States have been understood for years.

So when officials started thinking about how to persuade the state's Spanish speakers, who make up nearly 30 percent of California's population, to enroll in health care plans, they should have had a blueprint of what to do. Instead, they made a series of mistakes.

For example, one thing health policy experts love about Obamacare is that no one can be denied coverage for a pre-existing health condition. Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange, made this a selling point in almost all its Spanish ads. But that doesn't resonate with Latinos. Many have never had insurance, never considered it.

Bessie Ramirez is with the Los Angeles-based Santiago Solutions Group, a Hispanic market research firm that has consulted for large health-care clients like HealthNet, Cigna and Blue Cross.

She says another problem is that all the early TV ads end with a web address for Covered California in Spanish — no phone number or physical address. She says that completely misses how Hispanics like to shop, especially for a complicated product like health insurance.

Across the country, communities stranded in food and retail deserts are asking how they can enjoy the bounty afforded to other urban centers. One Washington, D.C., community thinks it might have an answer.

Just a 10-minute drive south of the U.S. Capitol, across the Anacostia River, sits Congress Heights. The Southeast D.C. neighborhood is less than 2 miles long and home to more than 8,000 people, many in single-family houses. But if you're looking for a sit-down meal, options are scarce.

Up Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, just outside the neighborhood's boundaries, Georgena's has long been the block's only bar and restaurant. It's a former strip club that now serves a gracious soul food menu. Beyond that, your options are the liquor mart, IHOP and a couple of carryout places.

It's a largely low-income area, but it's also a stable one, with century-old churches, a nearby military base and pockets of a professional class.

For potential businesses, "low income" can seem an insurmountable hurdle.

Still, the city's planning office thinks this busy corridor has potential. It's been working with an urban planning firm to help communities take concrete and data-based steps to attract business.

The Safety Feedback Loop

The potential here is obvious for some Congress Heights residents, including business owner Donny Seto, who's lived in the area for six years. He opened his own cellphone store about a year ago.

"With this particular store, I have a larger variety of merchandise, including D.C. Lottery scratch tickets, hats, gloves," he says. "As long as you cater to the needs of the customers and you listen to what the customers say and what they want and you bring it into the stores, yes, they will buy it. And they will patronize your business."

“ "Everyone has bulletproof glass. Why? What are you so afraid of?"

You can listen to plenty of actors performing the works of William Shakespeare. But imagine if you could hear the voice of the young playwright himself — or the older one, for that matter — reading his own writing aloud.

Well, we can't take you back that far. But in the early 1960s, when recorded readings by authors were rare, a young couple in Boston decided to be literary audio pioneers.

The idea was hatched in 1962. Lynne Sharon Schwartz, who is a respected novelist today, was working on a magazine at the time. Her husband, Harry, was at the Boston Redevelopment Authority. They were avid readers, Lynne Sharon Schwartz says: "And we were just hanging out with friends and talking about the major or the young, up-and-coming writers of their day. We were aware of Caedmon, which had brought out the Dylan Thomas record of A Child's Christmas In Wales. And we thought, we could do something like that."

A few of the 'big guys,' like T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden, had recordings out on LPs. But there weren't recordings of up-and-comers, like Philip Roth and John Updike, or of other, more established authors: Bernard Malamud, William Styron, James Baldwin. The Schwartz's idea was to record such authors, put them on vinyl LPs, eight minutes per side, sell the records for $1.95 apiece, and pay each writer $150 — pretty good money in the early '60s.

The Schwartzs heard that Baldwin was coming to speak at MIT.

"So we all went to his talk and afterwards we approached him and said, 'Would you like to do a reading?' " Harry Schwartz says. "And he said, 'Eh, sounds like a good idea.' "

Baldwin read from Giovanni's Room, his second novel, published in 1956. It's an early book about homosexuality, then a forbidden subject.

Lynne Sharon Schwartz directed the reading. Then, with razor blades and sticky tape, they edited the various takes down into 16 good minutes. James Baldwin helped the Schwartzs set their recording dream in motion.

"He said, 'Oh, I'll call my friend Bill Styron, maybe he wants to do this,' " Harry Schwartz says. "And then Styron led us to James Jones, and they led us to Philip Roth."

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President Obama may be the standard bearer of the Democratic Party, but his unpopularity in some parts of the country means there are certain places on the campaign trail where it's best for him to stay away.

Enter former President Clinton, who can go where Obama fears to tread.

The ex-president recently made his first campaign foray of the 2014 election cycle in an unlikely state — Kentucky, where Obama won just 38 percent in 2012 (but where Clinton won twice in the 1990s). Clinton appeared there last week on behalf of Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is running to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Few will be surprised to see him appear in other Republican-friendly states where Senate Democrats face tough re-election campaigns — places like his native Arkansas, North Carolina and Louisiana.

It's hard to know how much of Clinton's campaigning is aimed at improving wife Hillary Clinton's 2016 chances if she runs for president and how much it is the former president simply reveling in the art of politicking, with him at the center of attention.

But one useful lens through which to view Clinton's travels is as an extension of his longstanding party-building efforts.

Daniel Galvin, a Northwestern University political scientist who has studied presidents as party-builders, argues that modern Republican presidents have done much better at building up their party's organizational and competitive capacity than their Democratic counterparts. Clinton, however, was an exception.

In his book, Galvin compared the party-building efforts of recent presidents in six areas — among them, the financing of party operations, the recruitment of candidates and the development of human capital. Republican presidents rated far better than Democrats, who tended to be consumers — sometimes ravenously so — of party resources rather than creators.

Democratic presidents, for decades, could rely on organized labor and big-city machines and their control of Congress, Galvin says. Lacking those advantages, Republican presidents focused on building up their national and state party structures.

The one Democratic exception was Clinton during his second term. (During his first term and 1996 re-election, Clinton followed the traditional Democratic pattern of being a net consumer of party resources.)

But in the last two years of his presidency, that changed. Galvin speculates that the realization that Democrats weren't going to soon regain the House, and the Lewinsky scandal, both played a role in the repositioning.

Clinton went on a torrid money raising pace for the party. And he pushed the Democratic National Committee to create a national voter database that Democratic candidates could use in races from the federal level down to the local level.

The Clintons' recent commitment to help the DNC raise money to pay down its nearly $16 million debt — and to help expand the electorate and increase voter protections — are in keeping with that interest in long-term party-building.

The former president's current efforts are "consistent with the recognition that we saw in the Clinton White House during his second term that party organization building is one of the ways that presidents can really help their party and its competitive fortunes in the future," Galvin said. "It's important for all candidates up and down the ballot, to have a common stock of resources."

Like Clinton in his first term, Obama has also followed the Democratic pattern of being a taker, rather than a maker of party resources. That has caused years of grumbling among Democratic Party officials, dating back to 2008 even before he became president.

There are signs that could be changing in Obama's second term.

Obama's campaign organization recently moved to share the data it collected about voters and volunteers with the DNC, so that the party can help candidates across the ballot in 2014.

But it's still too early to know if Obama will ultimately match Clinton's efforts in building up the party.

As she's done before, the woman at the center of the political storm over the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of some conservative groups from 2010 into 2012 invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions during a brief appearance before a congressional committee on Wednesday.

Questioned repeatedly by House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Lois Lerner gave the same answer during the 10 minutes or so she that was being questioned:

"On the advice of my counsel, I respectively exercise my Fifth Amendment right and decline to answer that question."

Pope Francis, fresh from getting his picture on the cover of Rolling Stone, now graces the pages of a new Italian fan magazine devoted to His Holiness.

But the pontiff tells an Italian newspaper that he views all the attention as "offensive."

Il Mio Papa (My Pope) "hit the newsstands [Wednesday] with a 69-page first edition full of photos of the pope, his life story, his appeals for peace and articles about what people think of him," Reuters writes. The first issue seemed timed to coincide with Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, and comes barely a week ahead of the first anniversary of Francis becoming pope, on March 13.

The magazine, published by ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's media empire and looking much like a typical supermarket tabloid, includes a pull-out centerfold of a smiling, cassock-clad Francis and advertisements for weight-loss cures, laxatives and beauty creams, Reuters says.

Aldo Vitali, the editor of Il Mio Papa, writes in the premiere issue that its purpose is "not so much to celebrate" the pope, but to help spread his message.

Reuters notes that Vitali is also the editor of an Italian television listings and celebrity news magazine.

Meanwhile, in an interview with an Italian newspaper on Wednesday, Francis says the level of hype that surrounds his papacy is "offensive."

The Associated Press reports:

"Francis told Italian daily Corriere della Sera he doesn't appreciate the myth-making that has seen him depicted as a 'Superpope' (as an Italian street artist recently painted him) who sneaks out at night to feed the poor (as Italian newspapers have suggested)."

"'I don't like ideological interpretations, this type of mythology of Pope Francis,' the pope told Corriere. 'If I'm not mistaken, Sigmund Freud said that in every idealization there's an aggression. Depicting the pope as a sort of Superman, a star, is offensive to me."

"'The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps calmly and has friends like everyone else. A normal person.'"


Get recipes for New England Salt Cod Cakes, Baccala' Alla Napoletana (Salt Cod With Potatoes In Tomato Sauce), Bacalao A La Mexicana (Salt Cod With Onions In Tomatillo Sauce) and Nina's Cruzan Pickled Salt Fish.

The economy often absorbs the impact of snowstorms, such as this week's storm, without much trouble, but this winter the weather is doing more damage than usual.

Sal Sambataro, the manager of Il Cortile in Manhattan, N.Y., says that when the weather is better, people are packed into the family-owned Italian restaurant. On a recent day, though, the temperature is close to 15 degrees and the doorman wears a furry hat. Business is slower than usual.

"Business is off about 50 percent because of the weather," Sambataro says. "People don't want to go out. They don't want to go out in the ice and snow and the storm."

He says it's been tough as rents keep rising though business has been lower since the recession. It's not just the weather: A look outside Il Cortile's window will show you the impact. Sambataro counts four For Rent signs across the street.

"All that went out of business this year," he says.

If somebody needs a new car or a bigger house, bad weather might keep them home for a while. But they'll eventually buy. With restaurants, it's different.

"If you stay away a week or two, that doesn't mean when the snowstorm is over with that you'll start eating hamburgers at double the pace," says Chris Christopher, an economist with IHS Global Insight.

Restaurants, airlines, hotels and many other businesses are losing sales this winter, Christopher says. The good news is that people do buy things they want or need, they just might do it when it stops snowing.

"Most things they do recover quite a bit," Christopher says.

Still, a big problem for economists is that much of the data is hard to decipher, such as job gains and figures on overall national economic growth. Perhaps we're blaming too much of that on the weather.

Chris Mayer, who follows housing as an economist at Columbia University, agrees.

"There's no statistical way to figure out, to disentangle two things," he says. "So we've seen existing home sales fall over the last six months."

How much is that the bad weather and how much are other factors, such as rising interest rates that make it more expensive to buy a house? The tight credit and challenges people have getting into the housing market could be biting harder, and there's just no way to know.

For the moment, trying to figure out the direction of the economy is like sailing through the fog; we won't really know what course we're on until we get past all this bad weather.

Some experts say the weather has cost the economy billions of dollars, but it's hard to say exactly how much.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

A collection of lullaby poems from Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon who died in 1952, is being published on Tuesday by Sterling Children's Books. The works were discovered in a trunk in her sister's farmhouse in Vermont. One lullaby, titled "Sleep like a rabbit," begins: "Sleep like a rabbit, sleep like a bear / sleep like the old cat under the chair." Kirkus says the lullabies "were written in 1952, the last year of her life, when she was traveling in France for a book tour and under contract to create songs for a new children's record company." The compilation is titled Goodnight Songs.

Bill Adler, creator of scores of books such as Outwitting Toddlers and What Is a Cat? For Everyone Who Has Ever Loved a Cat and What to Name Your Jewish Baby, died Friday at age 84. One book, Who Killed the Robins Family?: And Where and When and How and Why Did They Die?, promised a $10,000 reward for solving the (fake) murders. In 1983, People magazine wrote, "For a quarter of a century now, Bill Adler has been a publishing phenom, packaging, agenting and mainly pushing books for movie stars, TV personalities, politicians and just plain folk whose success in life — whether meager or mega — does not rest on the coruscating quality of their prose."

Ansel Elkins has won the Yale Younger Poets Prize for her forthcoming collection Blue Yodel, which is set to be published next year by Yale University Press. The prize, founded in 1919, has been awarded to poets including Adrienne Rich and John Ashbery. The poet Carl Phillips, who judged the competition, wrote in a press release, "Razor-edged in their intelligence, southern gothic in their sensibility, these poems enter the strangenesses of others and return us to a world at once charged, changed, brutal, and luminous." You can read Elkins' poem "Reverse: A Lynching" at The Boston Review. It begins:

"Return the tree, the moon, the naked man

Hanging from the indifferent branch

Return blood to his brain, breath to his heart

Reunite the neck with the bridge of his body

Untie the knot, undo the noose

Return the kicking feet to ground..."

Nearly 20 kids went back to high school Monday after a very special weekend: They danced onstage with Pharrell at the Oscars Sunday night. It's the fourth time students of Los Angeles' Academy of Music at Hamilton High School have teamed up with the superstar musician in recent months.

"It was a dream. It was awesome," Alexa Baruch, 15, tells member station KPCC. "Leonardo DiCaprio was right in front of us."

The students were chosen to help Pharrell perform his song "Happy," from the soundtrack for the animated film Despicable Me 2. The song hit No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 list last week.

"It was a very long process, but very worth it," junior Preston Parker tells KPCC's Mary Plummer of working with Pharrell along with his classmates from the school's dance and chorus programs. "It was crazy incredible. It was a true blessing."

The only thing better, Parker said, would be "to actually win an Oscar."

These days you can fly to far corners of the world and eat the pretty much the same food as you could back home. There's pizza in China and sushi in Ethiopia.

A new scientific study shows that something similar is true of the crops that farmers grow. Increasingly, there's a standard global diet, and the human race is depending more and more on a handful of major crops for much of its food.

At the same time, all over the world, people are eating a bigger variety of foods. But until now, no one had crunched the numbers to see whether global diets were overall getting less diverse, or more.

"We wanted to know, really, how many crops feed the world, and what's happening with them," says Colin Khoury, a visiting researcher at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, or CIAT, in Cali, Colombia.

Khoury and his collaborators went through 50 years of data collected by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization. And they uncovered two big trends.

On my third day in Tehran last week, I was detained by Iran's notorious "morals police." This volunteer corps, with a presence in nearly every city and town, polices infractions against Islamic values. These guardians patrol parks, recreation centers, shopping malls and cafes where young people gather.

My introduction to the morality squad began with shouts and threats and ended with fruit juice and a hug from a lady cop in a black chador that covered bleached blonde hair and a snug red leather jacket.

She headed the women's detention room in the gender-segregated station. My three-hour stay was a revealing look at the gap between these so-called Islamic enforcers and a younger generation chafing under Iran's strict behavior codes.

Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, had the backing of many Iranians when he said the morals police "antagonize our society." Within a few months of his election, he barred them from arresting women for what religious hardliners consider "inappropriate dress."

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For history nerds, it's fascinating to see the word "Crimea" back in the news. The last time this peninsula on the Black Sea dominated world headlines was nearly 160 years ago. (Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin met there at the town of Yalta in 1945, but that wasn't really about the region.)

The Crimean War of 1853-1856 pitted the Russians against the British Empire, France, the Ottoman Empire and Sardinia. Russia lost. That's about all you need to know about the geopolitics. But the Crimean War played a huge role in the Western zeitgeist of the time, and is notable for the literary, cultural and technological impacts that still reverberate. Here's a quick survey:

Poetry: Alfred Tennyson wrote about a doomed British cavalry charge at the Battle of Balaclava:

"Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred."


Long ago, McDonald's chose to honor St. Patrick banishing the snakes from Ireland with its Shamrock Shake, made with real snake. It was known for its subtle flavor and powerful aphrodisiac qualities. While the recipe has changed slightly over the years, the powerful aphrodisiac qualities remain.

Peter: Sucking this up through the straw is pretty hard work just to get something that tastes like toothpaste.

Miles: Shamrocks are good luck, but I think the woman who rang us up took it too far when she said, "You're gonna need it."

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The Chinese government has blamed the deadly stabbing attack in southwest China on Muslim separatists from the country's northwest. But the government has yet to provide hard evidence for the claim.

Police said they have captured the final three suspects in a knife-attack that killed 29 people and left more than a 140 injured in the city of Kunming on Saturday, according to the state-run New China News Service.

Police say they shot and killed four suspects and captured an injured female suspect at the Kunming Rail Station, the scene of the massacre. China's Ministry of Public Security said the eight-member gang was led by a man named Abdurehim Kurban.

Xia Fanchao arrived at the Kunming Rail station in southwest China's Yunnan province around 9 p.m. on Saturday. He planned to catch a train toward the east coast, where he'd lined up a job installing elevators.

As the skinny 18-year-old stood outside the entrance, he noticed something strange.

"I saw a man carrying a bag, which he dropped on the floor of the Square," said Xia, who spoke from his bed at the Kunming No. 1 People's Hospital. "Quite a few people rushed to the bag and unzipped it. Each took out a knife and then split up among the crowd and started to slash people."

Xia says the assailants, all clad in black, moved about the square without speaking. They slashed at people as though "they were chopping firewood." Xia said some of the knives were 20 inches long.

A woman in a long black dress and a black veil ran towards Xia.

"She lifted the knife and was about to slash me," he said. "I dodged and it cut my neck. It felt like I was being electrocuted."

"The first witness at Oscar Pistorius' murder trial told the court on Monday she heard 'bloodcurdling screams' from a woman followed by shots," Reuters writes.

It was, the wire service adds, "a dramatic opening to a case that could see one of global sports' most admired role models jailed for life."

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reminds our Newscast Desk that:

"Pistorius was a hero to many in and outside South Africa. He earned the 'Blade Runner' nickname, because of the hi-tech carbon fiber blades he used to power to victory as a paralympian.

"But that image crumpled when Pistorius was accused of premeditated murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's day last year. He says it was a tragic accident and that he mistook the 31 year-old model and law graduate for an intruder."

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