Foreign affairs
March 3, 2014
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The White House announced today that Michelle Obama will travel to two cities in China (Beijing and Chengdu) in late March. The first lady will visit cultural and historical landmarks and promote her education initiatives by visiting high schools and universities in the cities.

The first lady's daughters, Sasha and Malia, as well as Mrs. Obama's mother, Marian Robinson, will join her on the trip. This is the third time in recent years that Mrs. Obama has traveled without her husband. In 2010, she went to Haiti to survey damage following a devastating earthquake, and in 2011, Mrs. Obama visited Botswana and South Africa to promote youth leadership.

Those interested can request updates on the trip and follow along on social media. Jordan Valinsky

Jobs Numbers
8:32 a.m. ET
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The American economy added 173,000 jobs in August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday. It's a definite downgrade from the 215,000 initially reported in July, and the 244,000 average of the past year. But on the plus side, both June and July numbers were revised up: from 231,000 to 245,000, and from 215,000 to 245,000, respectively.

On top of that, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.1 percent, while the labor force participation held steady for the third month in a row at 62.6 percent. Average hourly earnings rose 2.2 percent from where they were a year ago.

Analysts were expecting 217,000 new jobs, an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent, and 2.1 percent growth in average hourly earnings.

Earnings growth is still flat compared to what a real recovery would signal, and even at the higher 244,000 average rate of job creation, the hole in the economy will not close until well into 2017. Jeff Spross

European migrant crisis
8:18 a.m. ET

Keleti, the central international train station in Budapest, Hungary, has essentially turned into a refugee camp, with 3,000 refuges from Syria and other conflict areas camped out, trying to get to Germany and Austria but prevented from leaving by the Hungarian government. A train purportedly bound for Germany that left the station with hundreds of migrants on Thursday was stopped a short distance away, in Bicske, and surrounded by armed police who planned to escort the migrants to a nearby camp for Syrians and others seeking asylum. The passengers, some of whom bought tickets to Berlin or Austria, have refused to get off the train; they want to apply for asylum in Germany or Sweden or another wealthy country.

Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban has taken a hardline stand against refugees, building a fence to try to keep them out and saying on national radio Friday, "We have to make it clear that we can't allow everyone in, because if we allow everyone in, Europe is finished." As this video montage from the BBC shows, many of the Syrians that are fleeing now are middle class or even wealthy, reluctantly leaving their homes as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad bombs some areas indiscriminately, Islamic State captures more territory, and the economy goes into freefall. Lebanon and Jordan have reached their limits and are turning away refugees, The New York Times says, steering the wave of migrants to Europe. But on Friday, ground zero of the crisis is in Budapest. Here, from the BBC, are scenes of what that looks like. Peter Weber

Ancient artifacts
8:10 a.m. ET

When archaeologists overturned a marble stone at Kerameikos Cemetery in Athens, they discovered the first known place in the city where Apollo, the ancient Greek god of prophecy, was invoked to foretell the future. The Greek Culture Ministry announced Friday the discovery of an ancient well bearing inscriptions calling upon Apollo, leading archaeologists to surmise that Kerameikos seers used the site for "hydromancy rituals," in which Ancient Origins reports seers would consult "the waters to see if the god would deliver messages or visions in them." Archaeologists believe the well was in use in early Roman times.

Archaeology News Network notes that this finding is "exceptionally significant as it identifies the spot as the first and unique Apollo divination site in Athens, confirming the worship of the ancient god." The well's wall bears a phrase meaning 'Come to me Paean, and bring the truthful prophecy,' alongside 20 or so other similar inscriptions. Apollo was likely worshipped at the site along with his twin sister Artemis, goddess of the wilds, chastity, and girls. Becca Stanek

campaign 2016
6:56 a.m. ET

Vice President Joe Biden gave a speech on national security in Atlanta on Thursday night, and in the process made his most extended public statement on whether or not he will seek the Democratic nomination in 2016. The short version: He doesn't know. He's not thinking about his potential rivals or fundraising or the challenge in setting up a national campaign apparatus, Biden said, sometimes getting emotional. "The most relevant factor in my decision is whether my family and I have the emotional energy to run," he explained. "The factor is, can I do it? The honest to God answer is I just don't know."

After losing a son and a brother, Beau Biden, earlier this year, "can my family undertake what is an arduous commitment?" Biden asked. "Unless I can go to my party and the American people and say I am able to devote my whole heart and soul to this endeavor, it would not be appropriate." You can watch his comments below. Peter Weber

Iran nuclear deal
6:20 a.m. ET
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On Aug. 9, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cleared his calendar and sat down with 22 U.S. Democratic lawmakers who had been flown to Israel by a branch of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The topic was the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu didn't ask any of the lawmakers to oppose the deal, some of those lawmakers tell The Wall Street Journal, but he answered their questions, explained his opposition to the accord and why he thought it dangerous to Israel, called their upcoming vote a "moral" choice, and at one point drew a picture of a "nuclear gun" with "nuclear bullets." It didn't work: Of the lawmakers at the meeting who have announced how they will vote, seven will support the deal and two will oppose it. There are now enough Democrats to ensure the accord goes into effect.

Characterizing their potential support for the Iran deal as immoral turned off some of the lawmakers, they told The Journal, and others said they didn't appreciate it when Netanyahu said that if the deal were enacted, Iran would soon have ICBMs aimed at the U.S. "Where he lost me was where I thought he was trying to provoke fear," explained Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.).

The final straw for other lawmakers at the meeting was Netanyahu's lack of a viable Plan B. The prime minister said that a better deal would be if Iran dismantled all its nuclear facilities in return for a gradual easing of sanctions, but when one of the members of Congress asked about his plans if the deal goes through, Netanyahu reportedly replied, "We will figure out what we do if we lose the vote."

Still other Democrats say Netanyahu overplayed his hand from the beginning, by accepting a GOP invitation to address Congress without informing the White House. "The unfortunate problem with Prime Minister Netanyahu is that he prides himself on being the Israeli who knows America the best," former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) tells The Washington Post. "Where he's mistaken is, Prime Minister Netanyahu knows the America that elected Ronald Reagan president. He's completely unfamiliar with the America that elected Barack Obama president. And they are in fact very different Americas." Peter Weber

Drunk History
5:12 a.m. ET

Jenny Slate, who famously lost her job at Saturday Night Live for inadvertently saying the F word on live TV, doesn't swear when she gets drunk and tells the history of how Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson earned their Nobel Prize for finding proof of the Big Bang theory. She does discuss her dog's genitalia, however, in the season premiere of Comedy Central's Drunk History. And more importantly, she makes the story of a big moment in science relatable and fun — with a big assist from Justin Long (Penzias) and Jason Ritter (Wilson).

Slate is "the perfect Drunk History narrator: silly but focused," says Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya at AV Club. "And she weirdly cares about the story she's telling, giving endearing — if ahistorical — details to the characters." The video is mostly safe for work, so feel free to sit down and learn about how two scientists made history with New Jersey's Holmdel Horn Antenna:

If Slate's slightly inebriated storytelling piqued your interest, there are plenty of more sober (and more accurate) versions out there waiting. Peter Weber

4:36 a.m. ET

Has any demographic endured such scrutiny as the poor, overly understood millennials? On Thursday, Pew Research Center released the latest deep-dive into the group of Americans age 18 to 34, and the results don't speak well of millennials, according to millennials. According to Pew's findings, 59 percent of millennials think millennials are self-absorbed, 49 percent say they're wasteful, 43 percent say they're greedy, and 31 percent say their generation is cynical.

On the other hand, only 24 percent of millennials say millennials are responsible, 36 percent say they're hard-working, and only 17 percent think their generation is moral. Those numbers get progressively higher for each generation, just as they get progressivly smaller for the negative attributes.

One explanation for this apparent self-hatred — or perhaps more proof of it — is that only 40 percent of millennials consider themselves part of the millennials generation; an almost equal number, 33 percent, identify (wrongly) as members of Generation X (age 35 to 50). Then again, by those metrics, the most self-hating generation is the "Silent Generation," age 70 to 87, most of whom think they're Baby Boomers or the Greatest Generation (34 percent each). Because, who wants to be silent when you can be great?


You can see all the results at Pew. Peter Weber

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