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The Obama Administration is making nice with Israel today -- at least in public, but tensions are still high over housing plans in East Jerusalem and American credibility in the Middle East. We hear from Jerusalem and Washington. Also, the Senate passes the jobs bill, and America's prison population has slightly declined for the first time since 1972. We hear about the effects of the economy and new ideas about public safety.

Banner image: (L-R) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyah greets US Vice President Joe Biden on March 9, 2010 in Jerusalem, Israel. Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty Images

Making News Senate Passes a Jobs Bill, Will New Jobs Ensue? 7 MIN, 30 SEC

With 11 votes from Republicans today, the Senate passed and sent to the President what’s billed as the first in a series of measures designed to create jobs.  The cost will be $17.6 billion.  Derek Thompson covers business for TheAtlantic.com.

Glenn Kessler, Washington Post (@GlennKesslerWP)

Main Topic The US and Israel: How Deep Are the Differences?

When Vice President Biden was in Israel last week, the Netanyahu government announced new plans for Jewish housing in East Jerusalem. The city was quiet today after yesterday's "Day of Rage," by Palestinians protesting the announced Israeli construction plans. In public, the US and Israel are exchanging warm words, but tensions are high, and Israel has yet to respond to US demands that the plans be reversed. Did Prime Minister Netanyahu want to sandbag Biden?  Was President Obama looking for a way to get tough with Israel? What does it all have to do with peace talks, Iran, American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and US credibility in the Middle East?  

Glenn Kessler, Washington Post (@GlennKesslerWP)
Bradley Burston, Ha'aretz (@bradleyburston)
Barry Rubin, Director, Global Research in International Affairs Center
Ron Kampeas, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (@kampeas)
Mark Perry, independent foreign policy analyst and author (@markperrydc)

The Israel-Arab Reader

Barry Rubin and Walter Laqueur

Reporter's Notebook State Prison Populations Dip for First Time in 38 Years 7 MIN, 18 SEC

In 1972, there were 174,000 inmates in state prisons around the country. The number today is one 1,400,000. But now, for the first time, the total has dropped, if only slightly. The Pew Center on the States reports that the combined prison population is down by about 5,700 inmates. Though it’s just 0.4% less than it was last year, the decline could have long-term significance. Adam Gelb, Director of the Center’s Public Safety Performance Project, explains what it has to do with the economy and new ideas about public safety.

Adam Gelb, Pew Center (@abgelb)

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