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For the second year in a row, President Obama is pushing universal pre-school education, without much chance of getting a program funded by Congress. We look at how it works, the potential impact on poverty and at the political realities. Also, al Qaeda Dumps its Syria affiliate, and the "confessions" of a former agent for America's transportation security.

Banner image: Children sing the Pledge of Allegiance during a pre-school graduation. Photo: CherryPoint

Al Qaeda Dumps Its Syria Affiliate 7 MIN, 50 SEC

Since 911, al Qaeda has been synonymous with brutal terrorism in the interests of establishing an Islamic caliphate throughout the Muslim world. Today, its current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has dissociated al Qaeda from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which he calls too extreme. Liz Sly is Beirut Bureau Chief for the Washington Post.

Liz Sly, Washington Post (@lizsly)

Universal Pre-School Education: Poverty and Politics 33 MIN, 44 SEC

A few states subsidize pre-school for all their four-year olds, with the red state of Oklahoma leading the way. In last year's State of the Union address, the President called for early education to be made universal. The idea went nowhere in Congress. This year, he repeated the request, arguing that 30 states have raised pre-K funding on their own because, as he put it, "we can't wait." Polls show 60% of Republican voters in favor nationwide, along with 84% of Democrats. But the federal cost would be $75 billion. Will Congress give it a chance? Faced with long odds, the President says he'll build his own coalition of business leaders and others. Meantime, we talk with a parent in Oklahoma and others about the benefits of early education, including the impact on poverty.

Lyndsey Layton, Washington Post (@LyndseyLayton)
Emily Lim, mother of a child in a state-funded pre-school (@crelement)
William Gormley, Georgetown University (@GUPublicPolicy)
Ron Haskins, Brookings Institution (@BrookingsInst)
Laura Bornfreund, New America Foundation (@lbornfreund)

Alarming Confessions of a TSA Airport Screener 9 MIN, 13 SEC

A former agent for the Transportation Security Administration has written what he calls a "confession" about his duties as an airport screener. If you were worried about invasion of privacy, you were probably right. "Dear America, I Saw You Naked… and Yes, We Were Laughing" is the title of an article in Politico by Jason Harrington, a former agent for the TSA.

Jason Harrington, TSA agent-turned-writer (@Jas0nHarringt0n)

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