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Analysis, background reports and updates from the PBS NewsHour putting today's news in context.

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    By the end of this decade analysts project almost two-thirds of workers will been a credential past a high school diploma. The Obama administration is part of a national push for changes to higher education officials hope could produce more college graduates more efficiently. Photo of 2012 Vassar College commencement by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images.

    Photo of 2012 Vassar College commencement by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images.

    This summer, the PBS NewsHour’s Rethinking College series explored the changing landscape of American higher education.

    Recently, Ted Mitchell, under secretary of education, sat down with the NewsHour to talk about the recent push for experimentation with competency-based college degree programs, the pending federal college rating system, concerns over growing student debt and other issues we examined.

    As the third-highest ranking federal education official, Mitchell oversees the Obama administration’s higher education initiatives. He was formerly president of Occidental College, dean of the School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and professor and chair of the Department of Education at Dartmouth College. Before joining the Department of Education, he was CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund and president of the California State Board of Education from 2008 to 2010.

    When it comes to the push for innovation in the area of competency-based college degree programs — degrees based more on demonstrated skills than time in class — how do you balance innovation and ensuring that students are earning credentials that are valued in the labor market?

    Ted Mitchell, under secretary of education. Photo courtesy of: U.S. Department of Education.

    Ted Mitchell, under secretary of education. Photo courtesy of: U.S. Department of Education.

    I do worry about that. I think that it’s a tension we’re increasingly familiar with, whether it’s with competency-based education or traditional education. It’s the tension between what students learn or believe they’re learning and what they’re demonstrating in the workplace. I think competency-based education has an opportunity to shorten that cycle, because of the specificity of the competencies that students are learning, their attachment to very specific tasks or jobs in the marketplace and then feedback about whether students are learning those or not. It’s harder to do with a history major than it is to do with someone who is actually certified with having a competency, for example in critical problem solving skills.

    Is there a danger that these narrowly-focused credentials won’t hold their value as the marketplace changes?

    There are two worries there. One is the old vocational worry, where you’re training people for yesterday’s job. And I think that with active participation of employers in the design of these programs, we’re getting employers who are looking five or 10 years out, not just looking to fill five sales positions tomorrow. So I think keeping the conversation forward looking is important, and that will happen at the institutional level. The second issue is that I think that we need to be careful that in modularizing or compartmentalizing some of these very specific competencies that we’re not losing the overall arc of higher education, which is a value that is transformative in lots of ways, not just the accumulation of skills.

    The administration has a stated goal of making the United States the country with the world’s highest degree attainment again. When you look at the numbers, the countries that outperform us in degree attainment are doing it with vocational degrees. Is it a matter of attracting more Americans to these programs or helping them be more successful? What is the department doing in these areas?

    Yes, we lag our peers in helping adult students develop skills that are valued today and tomorrow in the market place. Institutions across the country are getting much better at it and are wildly successful. They have 80, 90 percent graduation rates, 80, 90 percent placement rates. So we need to get the word out about the vitality and the vibrancy of those programs and part of the word we need to get out is that these are not yesterdays “voc ed” programs, these are really high-tech training programs that also involve the 21st Century deeper learning skills of collaboration, problem-solving, creative thinking – the things that are needed all the way up and down the employment pipeline.

    There is a glut of college rankings out there. How do you keep the upcoming White House ratings system from just adding to the noise? At the same time, how do you make sure the information is getting to lower-income, underserved communities that may not be tapping into the information that’s already out there?

    We start from the fundamental proposition that we need to play back to the American people the results of this incredible investment that we make, that we all make, that you and I make, in higher education. So our responsibility, first and foremost, is to play that back to the people.

    We think that we can create a set of simple, stable, clear metrics that will cut through the noise and will not look to differentiate (colleges) at the 93rd decimal point, but will just provide sensible, credible, clear information to families and cut through the noise to help families and help the public get a better understanding of how that investment is paying off for individuals.

    Do you see families accessing and understanding the existing White House College Scorecard information that’s out there now?

    We do. Not to the extent that we would like. We would like there to be greater uptake with the Scorecard information and with the financial aid shopping sheet. We need to do a better job promoting our own tools.

    There’s been a fair amount of push back about whether the problem of student debt has been blown out of proportion. For example, this recent Brookings Institute report on the financial health of households with student debt. What’s your reaction to that criticism?

    I think that we need to be more careful about parsing the trillion dollars than we’ve been to date. I think it’s important to recognize that big borrowers, in general, are borrowing for professional and graduate programs. A focus on undergraduate student aid makes it look more manageable at a student level and at a national level.

    The college investment continues to be one of the best investments an individual can make and we continue to believe and believe strongly that it’s one of the best investments a society can make.

    That’s not to say that we shouldn’t do everything in our power to make student debt more affordable and to lower the necessity of students to take out large loans to pay for college. So we need to continue to work on lowering college cost, we need to encourage states to up their investment in higher education and we need to do things like president has done increasing access to income drive repayment programs that we think are going to provide a nice alternative to students who are struggling to pay their debts.

    Serving underrepresented, first-in-their family and other ‘non-traditional’ students can simply cost more. Is the push for greater efficiency and lower costs in higher education incompatible with broadening access?

    So it is a tension, and it’s clear that the rich supports that vulnerable student populations need increase costs at institutions. That said, there are other places I think we need to challenge institutions to do more with less or simply take some things out of the equation in order to, on net, reduce the total cost.

    PBS NewsHour coverage of higher education is supported by the Lumina Foundation and American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    The post The U.S. gov. wants you to get the most from your college investment appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Oscar Pistorius arrives at court on Sept. 11 in Pretoria, South Africa. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    Oscar Pistorius arrives at court on Sept. 11 in Pretoria, South Africa. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    The judge in the trial of double-amputee Olympian Oscar Pistorius said Thursday that he couldn’t receive a murder conviction in the shooting death of his girlfriend.

    Judge Thokozile Masipa said she felt Pistorius acted negligently when he fired through a bathroom door at his home late at night last year, killing his girlfriend. Pistorius said during the six-month trial that followed that he thought she was an intruder.

    The judge then stopped reading her verdict and adjourned until Friday.

    Pistorius still can be found guilty of culpable homicide, which brings a maximum 15-year sentence. Premeditated murder would have brought a heavier sentence.

    South Africa does not have a trial by jury. Instead, the judge and her legal aides decide on a verdict.

    The post Pistorius can’t be convicted of murder, judge says in South African trial appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

    Showing bipartisan American unity in the effort to fight the Islamic State militant group, Republican House Speaker John Boehner Thursday said Congress “ought to give the president what he’s asking for.”

    It was a stark change in tone from Tuesday, when Boehner seemed to goad President Barack Obama for a “strategy.” He mentioned the term 13 times in the span of three minutes Tuesday, appearing to try and capitalize politically on the president saying last week, “We don’t have a strategy yet” when it comes to IS and his approach to Congress.

    Boehner did signal at the news conference Thursday that he might be willing to go further than this president, who called for, in his prime-time address Wednesday night, airstrikes, covert American action, training of and coordination with Iraqi forces and training of more moderate Syrian rebels to take on IS in Syria.

    “An F-16 is not a strategy,” Boehner said, adding, “Somebody’s boots have to be on the ground.”

    Boehner said his members would need time to learn all the details of what the administration is proposing. There are some in his conference who also feel that the president’s plan doesn’t go far enough to “destroy” IS and that more needs to be done.

    But when pressed if that meant he disagreed with the president’s strategy or if he should do more, Boehner wouldn’t go that far.

    “We only have one commander-in-chief,” he said.

    Republicans in the House are still trying to decide how to pass new funding the White House is requesting to train and equip Syrian rebels — whether it will be part of a continuing resolution or be voted on separately.

    Congress has to extend government funding by the end of the month or the government would shut down again. Boehner is aiming to bring a government measure to the floor for a vote next week before the House goes on break again.

    Quinn Bowman contributed to this report.

    The post Boehner: ‘Give the president what he’s asking for’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Duncan Walker/Getty Images

    What books would make your list of the greatest American novels? Photo by Duncan Walker/Getty Images

    About a year ago, Massachusetts architect David Handlin embarked on an experiment to give his reading “purpose and focus.” He committed to reading only American novels and decided to compile a list of the 100 best that were published between 1770 and 1985. He shared that list with The American Scholar and called it a “draft.”

    “A month into this exercise, I suddenly understood what I was doing. I was filling some of the gaps in my undergraduate education,” Handlin wrote.

    The list created quite a stir, eliciting animated discussions over the criteria for “best” and the omission of certain texts.

    Sandra Gilbert, a distinguished professor of English emerita at the University of California and author of eight books of poetry, even chimed in and questioned the criteria for “novel” and “American.” She was frustrated that the list “would fall into any publisher’s mainstream” and so she was compelled to write her own list, although with a slightly different intent.

    “I’m not at all inclined to demand deletions, but prefer instead to suggest additions that would make this mini-narrative of our literature (for a narrative it is) more representative of the culture we’ve inherited,” wrote Gilbert in her response.

    We agree that our literary heritage is indeed part of the American narrative. So we’ve combined Handlin’s and Gilbert’s lists into one mega-list of 200 American novels. Below you will find them all in chronological order.

    We’re asking: which ones have you read? Check the boxes next the book and hit “vote.”

    One thing that jumped out at us here at Art Beat is that the list stop at 1985 (Gilbert’s list actually stops at 1986 because she could not tolerate the exclusion of Toni Morrison’s “Beloved.”) What are the novels you would add to this list that were published since the mid-80s?

    And if you could make a short list of books that you haven’t read on this list, which titles would you include?

    Leave your answers in the comments section below or tweet at @newshourartbeat with the hashtag #NewsHourAsks.

    The post Have you read the 200 ‘best American novels’? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Yes campaign supporters for an independent Scotland are seen as Prime Minister David Cameron prepares to address a group in August 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

    Yes campaign supporters for an independent Scotland are seen as Prime Minister David Cameron prepares to address a group in August 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

    One week from today, Scots will head to the polls to vote on becoming an independent country.

    On Sunday, the first poll showing that yes voters were ahead was released. It put the Yes campaign at 51 percent and the No campaign at 49 percent — a six-point drop for the No campaign.

    On Wednesday, a Daily Record poll showed the No campaign six points ahead again. It put the no votes at 53 percent and the yes votes at 47 percent.

    With such contradictory polls so close to the vote, emotions are running high as the reality of Scotland’s possible independence settles in.

    Prime Minister David Cameron cleared his schedule and headed straight to Scotland to plead with voters.

    “The United Kingdom is a precious and special country,” Mr Cameron said. “That is what is at stake — so let no one in Scotland be in any doubt: We desperately want you to stay; we do not want this family of nations to be ripped apart.”

    Ed Milliband, who leads the Labour Party and Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, also went to Scotland to campaign for a “no” vote.

    They also tried to rally England to ask Scotland to stay. Ed Milliband asked townhalls around the country to take down the UK flag and fly Scotland’s St. Andrew’s cross instead.
    Miliband said: “Over the next few days we want cities, towns and villages across the UK to send a message to Scotland: stay with us. We want to see the saltire flying above buildings all across our country.”

    Unfortunately, while trying to fly the Scottish flag above 10 Downing Street (the Prime Minister’s office), it repeatedly fell down from the flagpole.

    Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also headed to the front lines. From Scotland himself and a relatively popular leader in the area, Brown was a logical choice to travel the country imploring voters to say no. He took the stage at the Scottish Parliament Thursday morning and ended his speech with a passionate plea:

    “When the future of the world depends on more cooperation and more sharing, more solidarity – not less – do we really want to break every single link with the rest of the UK?” said Brown.
    The Yes campaign is no less impassioned and even using the UK leaders’ “emergency” visit as a tactic to vote yes for independence.

    Alan Cumming, the actor known for ‘The Good Wife’ and ‘X-Men’, return to his native Scotland to show his support for independence.

    “It’s an historic moment for us all, we now have a chance in this country to have to have our destiny in our hands,” Cumming told The Scotsman newspaper. “I feel so good. I’ve always felt the longer the campaign goes on, the more likely it it’s going to be a Yes victory.”

    The Queen has yet to weigh in, but the Yes campaign insists she will remain the head of state of an independent Scotland. Amid the announcement of the upcoming royal baby, Prince William urged people to stay focused on “the big international and domestic things” happening at the moment.

    Still confused about the vote? PBS NewsHour has your cheat sheet.

    The post Emotions run high as Scotland independence polls show a close vote appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    GWEN IFILL: For a Republican response from Capitol Hill, I also spoke with House Armed Services Committee Chairmen Buck McKeon of California.

    Congressman McKeon, thank you for joining us.

    You said in a speech today at the American Enterprise Institute that, after last night’s speech, the president is — quote — “finally waking up to what must be done to stop this evil.” Is it enough?

    REP. BUCK McKEON, R-Calif.: Enough.

    I think it’s just barely a start. But it does make a change. You know, it was just a few weeks ago when the president was calling ISIL junior varsity. I think now he’s come to the point to realize what the rest of the world realizes, that they are a grave threat.

    I just came back from the Middle East. I met with the leadership over there. They’re all very concerned. They want to go after — King Abdullah told me he’s ready to go right away. He says, we’re ready to fix bayonets and go right now.

    They understand how serious this threat is. I’m glad to see that the president is starting to get that message. But what we’re going to have to do is make sure that we go in with an adequate force, that we’re very serious about finishing something that we start.

    GWEN IFILL: House Speaker John Boehner said today that we have one commander in chief, and he supports, as far as it goes, the president’s initiative so far. Do you agree with him?

    REP. BUCK McKEON: I said in my speech today that as long as the president’s engaged and moving on this, I want to support him.

    He is the commander in chief. But he does have military leaders, and he should listen to their advice. And I know that there’s been a story reported that the commander of the area asked for more ground troops to give us a more robust position in Iraq. And he was denied that.


    GWEN IFILL: Well, let’s talk — I’m sorry.

    I want to talk about the ground troops, because you also said in your talk today that you believe very strongly that there should be ground troops on the ground if we’re going to take this on at all.

    REP. BUCK McKEON: Yes, we have tried it without ground troops in Libya. We did air attacks. And now there’s chaos there. That didn’t work out very well.

    I think most people understand. I met with the commander of — the chief of our Air Force yesterday. And he said, as powerful and as strong as our Air Force is, there’s nothing like it in the world, but it does not take and hold ground. They can drive ISIL back. They can make life miserable for them, but at the end of the day, you have to be able to hold and take the ground.

    Now, Iraq has forces that can do this, but they can’t do it alone. They can’t do it without us. (AUDIO GAP) support. We provide the logistics (AUDIO GAP) things that they will need to successfully carry out missions to take and hold the ground.

    And that’s what we need to do. And until the president is fully engaged — and I hope he will be — I hope this doesn’t just become a speech last night like we have seen in the past, and then he kind of fades and goes off into something else. This is something he needs to be engaged in. It’s the most important thing confronting him as commander in chief. And we need to win on this.

    GWEN IFILL: Do you believe that ISIL represents an immediate threat to — to domestic security?

    REP. BUCK McKEON: Sure, they do.

    We have probably 100 fighters from America over there right now. Two of them were killed a week or two ago in a firefight over there. One of them was a 10-year veteran working in air traffic control. He could have used his — he could have done something here.

    We know that a lot of those people have — and a lot of people that come from Europe have passports that can come — they can come into this country without visas. That’s an immediate threat. They could be here right now.

    GWEN IFILL: Do you believe that Congress will provide the kind of financial support that the president has asked for, especially for arming the Syrian moderates?

    REP. BUCK McKEON: You know, we’re talking about that now.
    We were ready to vote on a continuing resolution today to fund the government for the rest of the year. That was the plan. Just before the bill was introduced, the president called Chairman Rogers and threw in this additional request that he wanted us to grant authority to do training in Saudi Arabia.

    And that has made leadership pull the bill and give people time to digest that. And now we will probably have that vote next week. And I’m hopeful that we will give the president what he needs. I think it’s incumbent upon us to at least give him what he asks and then do the oversight and make sure that he is holding — you know, that we hold his feet to the fire and get this done, because you can’t send these troops out there without the support they need.

    GWEN IFILL: How — how long do you believe that Americans should be expecting us to stay involved in this latest conflict?

    REP. BUCK McKEON: Until we win.

    GWEN IFILL: Congressman Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, thank you so much.

    REP. BUCK McKEON: Thank you.

    The post House Armed Services chair ‘hopeful’ Congress will fund president’s Islamic State plan appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we get a broader assessment of the president’s plan now from Stephen Hadley. He was national security adviser to President George W. Bush. He now has his own consulting company. Richard Haass was the director of policy planning at the State Department during the George W. Bush administration. He’s currently president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

    Michèle Flournoy was undersecretary of defense for policy during the first term of the Obama administration. She’s now chief executive officer at the Center for a New American Security. And retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich is professor emeritus of international relations and history at Boston University. His latest book is “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country.”

    And we welcome all four of you back to the program.

    I want to go around and ask all of you to start with whether you think the president has laid out a plan that is headed in the right direction.

    Michèle Flournoy, you first.

    MICHELE FLOURNOY, Former Defense Department official: I would say absolutely.

    I think the president made — laid out a very comprehensive strategy, a very clear strategy, showed a lot of resolve, determination to put together an international coalition to go after the ISIL threat. I think the real challenge here is the devil’s in the details.

    And as has been alluded to by many commentators, the — making this work on the Syrian side of the border is going to be a lot harder than making it work on the Iraqi side.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And we’re going to get to that.

    Stephen Hadley, overall, is this a plan that sounds like it’s doing the right thing?

    STEPHEN HADLEY, Former U.S. National Security Adviser: I think so. I think the president had a very good night last night.

    I think, as Michèle said, he laid out a clear assessment of the risk, what he wanted to do. And he reminded the American people that America is uniquely positioned and really the only country that can put this together.

    The question will be: Is this a one-time speech, or will he continue to talk to the American people about the importance of this issue? And will they have an implementation and execution plan that works? And I think the appointment of Gen. Allen to coordinate this is a very good sign.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s retired General John Allen, who, as we reported a few minutes ago, the president has announced will be heading up the overall effort.

    Col. Bacevich, what about you. The overall plan the president’s outlined, what do you make of it?

    COL. ANDREW BACEVICH (RET.), Boston University: Well, it’s not a comprehensive strategy.

    Let’s understand that ISIS emerged because of certain conditions in this region, disorder, dysfunction, alienation, the residue of European colonialism. And even if we succeed in destroying ISIS — and I certainly hope we do — those conditions will persist.

    And, therefore, when ISIS goes away, it will be followed by another equivalent threat to the region. What we are engaged in here is a game of Whac-A-Mole, and that doesn’t qualify as a comprehensive strategy.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Richard Haass, how do you see it?

    RICHARD HAASS, Former State Department official: Well, I applaud the fact that the president expanded the purposes of what we’re doing. It’s no longer simply to protect American personnel or humanitarian concerns, but essentially it recognizes ISIS for the strategic threat that it is, to both the region and to the United States and the world.

    And, again, I support the expansion geographically, the idea that you can’t allow them a sanctuary in Syria or anywhere else. The real challenge or problem, as I see it, and many have alluded to it, is that if the United States is somewhat successful from the air, the question is whether we can supplement or complement that success on the ground.

    In Iraq, we have some potential partners. The big question mark is the Iraqi government and its forces. In Syria, there’s a much bigger challenge. The last thing we want to do is push back ISIS, only to have the Assad government fill the space.

    And I am skeptical that the moderate or secular Syrian opposition is going to be ready or organized any time soon. So I would put a much greater emphasis on trying to get ground support from local tribesmen, Sunni or Kurds, and I would also put much more pressure on some of the Arab countries to put together their own pan-Arab force to work with us on the ground.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, and I do want to get to Syria, but I also want to come back, Michèle Flournoy, to what Andy Bacevich just said, that this is not a strategy, it’s Whac-A-Mole, that ISIS is there, it’s a persistent force that’s on the ground, it’s — with this kind of strategy, the United States is not going to be able to eliminate it.

    MICHELE FLOURNOY: Yes, I do think it’s true there are fundamental conditions in the region that are giving rise to these violent extremist groups.

    But I think the president’s strategy is broader. You saw him withhold or hold back on fully engaging with promising airstrikes, aid to the Iraqi forces, et cetera, until we had the formation of a more inclusive Iraqi government, because that is key to taking an alienated Sunni population, which created the sort of opening for ISIL to come in and into Iraq, and trying to move them back into being part of Iraqi society, bought into the government and so forth.

    And so that political change has been huge, and now that that’s happened and the formation of a more inclusive government is under way, that opens the door to much more support on the Iraqi side of the border.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Col. Bacevich, what about that? Doesn’t — why doesn’t that make this strategy something that could work in Iraq?

    COL. ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think the whole discussion ignores a set of facts that are staring us in the face.

    And the key facts are that efforts on the part of the United States to use military power to bring, what, stability, democracy to this region of the world have not worked. If anything, our efforts have actually fostered greater instability.

    So to imagine that now trying once again, albeit this time relying only on American airpower, with proxies on the ground, to imagine that this is going to produce a significantly better outcome strikes me as, frankly, silly.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Stephen Hadley, how do you answer that?

    STEPHEN HADLEY: Well, I think that, you know, it is one thing to say there’s no military solution to this problem. And that is true.

    There needs to be a comprehensive solution that addresses political, economic, social and other factors. But when you’re dealing with a group like ISIL, you’re not going to have a successful strategy if it doesn’t have a military element. If you don’t have a military element, then basically ISIL is going to hold and expand its territory.

    So what we need is a comprehensive approach. Getting an inclusive Iraqi government, helping that government politically and economically alike, is an important element of it. But when you’re dealing with folks like ISIL, you’re going to have to have a military element. We should rely as much as we can on the Iraqi people and the various arms that they have to get the job done, but they can’t succeed without our support in terms of intelligence, training, special forces and airpower.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Richard Haass, as you were just saying a moment ago, you think Syria is an essential piece of this strategy and that the U.S. needs to give serious thought to how it works alongside or in some manner with President Assad. Spell out for us what you have in mind.

    RICHARD HAASS: Happy to do this.

    Just give me 30 seconds on the other. What was interesting to me about the president’s speech last night is what he didn’t say, and one of the things he didn’t say is he’s going to try to make the Middle East safe for democracy. We’re not talking about that. I think the United States has wisely lowered some of its ambitions there.

    In terms of Syria, my own view is that we need a partner on the ground. As I said before, I think there are some possibilities. What I would probably do, though, is two things. One is with the Syrian government. I would say they are the less urgent problem for the United States. They are a local threat. They are not a global threat.

    So I would essentially have some kind of a tacit arrangement, temporarily, for the time being, where Mr. Assad should be allowed to remain, if you, will as mayor of the Alawite aspects of the country, but we need to now be able to act with somewhat of a free hand against ISIS in the majority of the country.

    And if Mr. Assad tries the take advantage of any of our attacks on the — on ISIS, then he would be putting himself into the line of fire. And I would then diplomatically talk to countries like Iran and Russia to try to get an understanding about how we are going to try to pursue ISIS, bringing in the Sunnis and others, without having it be an advantage for Mr. Assad.

    What’s in it for Mr. Assad, though, is, temporarily, he can survive in the part of Syria he controls.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Michèle Flournoy, Richard Haass is going further than the president did last night in talking about what alliances need to exist. Why wouldn’t the president go that far at this point, or shouldn’t?

    MICHELE FLOURNOY: I think the principal reason not to work directly with Assad, beyond the lack — his lack of legitimacy to lead his own country, is the fact that, if we did that, you would basically lose the very Arab coalition we’re trying to build.

    You’re not going to have the full support of key countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and others if you’re collaborating with Assad. And so I think that — I think it’s a nonstarter politically. There will be situations where we have to make a choice whether to strike a target in Syria, given the second- and third-order effects. Will it actually empower the Syrian opposition or will it ultimately empower the Assad government?

    And those choices will be — will be tough as this unfolds.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Col. Andy Bacevich, what about Syria? You hear Richard Haass saying that’s an essential piece of this, that it won’t work unless Syria’s involved. Where do you come down on that?

    COL. ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I hear all this discussion about arming and training moderate Syrians. I’m not exactly sure how we identify who is a moderate.

    But I think we should temper our expectations about what that sort of effort is likely to produce in the near term. I mean, the comparison there, I think, is Iraq, where we spent about eight years trying to train and equip a competent force, and that effort failed.

    So any expectation that we’re going to be able to pull an effective Syrian opposition fighting force out of a hat, I just think we should be wary of that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me — and I was going to say I want to turn to Stephen Hadley, because, of course, you were working with President Bush when he was doing some of what Col. Bacevich describes.

    STEPHEN HADLEY: Well, you know, it is true that we — the reason Iraq fell apart from the relative stability that we had with al-Qaida really largely defeated in Iraq in 2008, ’09 and ’10 was because of what happened in Syria, and not getting on top of that situation early.

    So we do have to solve the Syria problem, but this has been a long time building. We’re not going to get it done overnight. We need to start and focus on Iraq, and then develop the capabilities over time to deal with Syria. And the point about our principles, the president did talk about standing up for our principles.

    Democracy and freedom is one of them, and it does have a role, because if there is not democracy in Iraq in which Sunni, Shia and Kurds can work together in a democratic framework, if there is not an inclusive democratic government in Iraq, it won’t hold together and we will fail.

    So our principles have a role in this in ultimately stabilizing this situation.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Col. Bacevich, you want to respond quickly to that?

    COL. ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, it’s just hard for me to take seriously any expectation that the United States has an ability at this point to form that cohesive, unified Iraq. Guess what? We tried. It failed.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Richard Haass, I want to come back very quickly here, as our time draws to a close, on this question of boots on the ground. We heard Susan Rice tell Gwen that boots on the ground have proved counterproductive. And then we heard Committee Chairman Congressman Buck McKeon say they are going to be essential, that it’s inevitable.

    Who is right on that?

    RICHARD HAASS: Well, the only American boots on the ground for the most part are going to be Special Forces in places like Syria.

    And then you will have some trainers and advisers, but you are going to need boots on the ground. I think they’re going to have to come from some of the Arab countries or from local tribesmen or Kurds. It has got to be local. It has to be Sunni. You can’t do this from the air alone.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Michèle Flournoy, what about that?

    MICHELE FLOURNOY: I think the principal boots to be ground have to be from Iraq and from Syria, but those should be enabled by our intelligence assets, by our special operations forces, by people who can help to advise and assist them in being more effective on the battlefield, who can help train them, equip them and so forth.

    I do think that those — that — that part of our force commitment may grow somewhat over time, but I think the president’s very determined to keep combat — U.S. combat units out of the ground part of this campaign.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: We’re going to leave it there.

    We thank you all, Michèle Flournoy, Colonel Andy Bacevich, Richard Haass, Stephen Hadley. Thank you.

    STEPHEN HADLEY: Thank you.

    The post Analyzing potential challenges of fighting the Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    OSHA representatives provides demos to construction workers on how to correctly operate safety equipment in De Pere, Wisconsin. Photo by Flickr user U.S. Department of Labor

    OSHA representatives provides demos to construction workers on how to correctly operate safety equipment in De Pere, Wisconsin. Photo by Flickr user U.S. Department of Labor

    WASHINGTON — Tightening its standards, the government issued new regulations Thursday that will require managers to file a detailed report within eight hours on fatal workplace accidents.

    Severe on-the-job injuries that do not result in deaths but require hospitalization must be reported within 24 hours, under the new rules which take effect Jan. 1.

    Such reports must be filed regardless of the size of the business to the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

    Previously, OSHA’s regulations required such reports only if three or more workers were killed or hospitalized as a result of a workplace accident.

    “We can and must do more to keep America’s workers safe and healthy,” Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said in a statement. “Workplace injuries and fatalities are absolutely preventable, and these new requirements will help OSHA focus its resources and hold employers accountable for preventing them.”

    The 24-hour reporting requirement includes work-related hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye, an OSHA statement said.

    The new rule follows the release earlier in the day of a Bureau of Labor Statistics report that 4,405 workers were killed on the job in the United States in 2013.

    Reporting single-instance hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye was not required under the previous rule.

    Such severe injuries can be clear signals “that serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace and that an intervention is warranted to protect the other workers at the establishment,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

    “Most employers, I think, are really shocked and affected significantly when a worker is injured. And they want to make sure that never happens again,” Michaels said in a conference call with reporters. “We can now help them immediately” to make their workplaces safer.

    James Brudney, a labor and employment law professor at Fordham University in New York, said many states already have such requirements on the books and “this strikes me as a relatively modest reform.”

    “I think the point of reporting requirements is to both give the federal agency that’s charged with assuring or improving workplace safety adequate, complete data, and also, the businesses involved have the opportunity, by gathering this data, to reflect a little bit on what’s happening in their own businesses,” Brudney said.

    The new rule maintains the current exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer workers from the requirement to routinely keep records of worker injuries and illnesses.

    The post Feds issue new regulations on reporting fatal work injuries appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Green Bay Packers v Seattle Seahawks

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    Editor’s Note: This video has been edited from its broadcast version due to footage restrictions.

    GWEN IFILL: The NFL is under new pressure over its handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal, including calls for the ouster of commissioner Roger Goodell. But the people who own and run the teams are so far taking a different tack.

    Hari Sreenivasan has more from our New York studios.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: As the Ray Rice case cast a growing shadow, the NFL last night called in former FBI Director Robert Mueller to investigate its handling of the situation.

    The announcement came amid new questions about when league officials first saw images made public this week by TMZ Sports of Rice knocking out his then-fiancee last February. The Associated Press reported an unnamed law enforcement officer sent the video to the NFL in April. In a voice-mail at the time, a woman at a league office confirmed the video arrived and then said: “You’re right. It’s terrible.”

    Earlier Wednesday, on CBS News, commissioner Roger Goodell had again maintained the NFL never saw the video before Monday, when it became public.

    ROGER GOODELL, Commissioner, National Football League: We were not granted that. We were told that that wasn’t something we would have access to. On multiple occasions, we asked for it. And on multiple occasions, we were told no.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But Goodell’s statements, and his overall handling of the Rice matter, raised concerns yesterday even among some players around the league.

    CARY WILLIAMS, Cornerback, Philadelphia Eagles: It could have been a better job done, because if TMZ can get it, why couldn’t the National Football League get it? And for them to say, we would be satisfied with a no from the — whoever they got it from, it’s kind of shocking.

    DREW BREES, Quarterback, New Orleans Saints: We’re all held accountable for our actions as players. Certainly, every owner should be held accountable for their actions. Every — the commissioner should be held accountable for his actions.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In addition, the National Organization for Women called Wednesday for Goodell to resign. And, today, 16 female senators urged the NFL to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence.

    Rice is now out of the league indefinitely, and Goodell’s fate may rest on the NFL’s newly announced probe. It will be overseen by Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney and New York Giants president John Mara. Up to now, at least, they have been among Goodell’s strongest supporters.

    For more context on the latest developments and the league’s position, we’re joined by Kavitha Davidson, who writes about sports for Bloomberg View.

    So, how big of a situation has this become? What kind of pressure is Roger Goodell under?

    KAVITHA DAVIDSON, Bloomberg View: He’s on shakier ground as the days progress, frankly.

    If you had asked me this question on Monday, I would probably have told you that his job is completely safe and nothing can really topple the most powerful man in sports. I still kind of hold that belief, frankly, just because he makes so much money for these owners, who wield so much power.

    But every day, with every new revelation, with every new instance of this cover-up being made public, his job gets more and more in jeopardy.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Robert Mueller being brought into investigate, so how independent is this investigation?

    KAVITHA DAVIDSON: I think that independence is in the eye of the beholder in this case.

    Robert Mueller, very respected, former FBI director, served under two different presidents, two different parties. At the same time, the law firm that he works for negotiated the NFL’s television deal with DirecTV. Take from that what you will.

    And in addition to that, this independent investigation is going to be overseen by Giants’ owner John Mara and Pittsburgh Steelers’ owner Art Rooney, who are two of not only the most respected owners in the game, but two of the most publicly visible. So I don’t think you could really call this purely independent.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And — but what kind of money is at stake here for these owners, and what kind of money have they made under the leadership of Roger Goodell?

    KAVITHA DAVIDSON: Roger Goodell has been very good to these owners in the last eight years.

    Last year, I believe the NFL brought in $9 billion in revenue. Goodell has made it a goal to bring that number up to about $25 billion. So these owners really don’t have any impetus to oust him on any level. And neither do the advertisers, frankly, either. And that’s a really unfortunate thing.

    The CEO of Verizon came out today standing by Roger Goodell, saying he’s man of great integrity. So, really, the dollar kind of flows when it comes to what we consider integrity.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What are the possibilities when the NFL says that it didn’t have the video?

    KAVITHA DAVIDSON: So, you really have two black-and-white areas and then one kind of gray area. You have the NFL absolutely didn’t receive the video. And I think that we have established with evidence and with the phone call that the Associated Press reported that some video was — the video was sent to the NFL office.

    The other side is, the NFL saw the video and still came down with a two-game suspension. And I think that we don’t really want to believe that that’s possible, just having seen the video and having seen the brutality that’s on that video, that it’s possible somebody could watch that and think two games is totally apt for that kind of a crime.

    The middle ground there is, the NFL wanted to maintain some kind of, shall we say, plausible deniability, that it was received, but there was either willful or unwillful ignorance, a concerted effort not to have the higher-ups, including Goodell perhaps, actually view this video, so that they could come out and say they had not seen it until Monday.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And is he actually under risk with whatever the results of the investigation are? A bunch of owners, not just a few, have to vote to get him out. And you said that they have a big financial interest in supporting him right now.

    KAVITHA DAVIDSON: I believe it’s 24 of the 32 owners need to vote in favor of that. And I, frankly, don’t see that happening, even with all that we know now.

    And I also, frankly, don’t know if that would solve anything. These are systematic, institutional issues that the NFL has. Goodell has overseen 56 domestic violence cases since he’s taken over as commissioner, and they have resulted in 13 total games of suspension.

    So the NFL doesn’t take this issue seriously. And, frankly, it would take a lot more than just Roger Goodell falling on the sword or falling on the shield, if you will, to actually institute some kind of systematic change here.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, the NFL says, you know, we actually have a lower number of arrests or convictions of our players than the general population.

    KAVITHA DAVIDSON: Well, that is true. And I think that, if anything, this issues gives us an opportunity to discuss not just the NFL’s failings in protecting domestic violence victims, but our country’s real problem with how we prosecute these individuals and how we deal with these kinds of victims.

    The problem with that logic is that, while the NFL does actually have a lower rate of domestic violence incidents, they don’t prosecute and they punish as much as the country does. I think 50 percent of charges that actually go to trial result in convictions in the United States, whereas, as I said, 13 total games suspended for 56 different violations.

    It’s a pretty terrible record when it comes to discipline.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: And Ray Rice’s spotlight has also shined the light on — there’s another player from the Carolina Panthers who was convicted by a judge of domestic violence, but he’s suiting up on Sunday.

    KAVITHA DAVIDSON: It’s not — yes, it’s Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald on the 49ers.

    The league comes out and says all kinds of things. The league instituted a new domestic violence policy two weeks ago that actually very much excited many of us that seemed to be the first step in the league actually taking this issue seriously. And yet we see these potential offenders, in Greg Hardy’s case, this convicted offender, still suiting up and still stepping on the field on Sunday.

    So you can see just how seriously the NFL is taking this.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So what are the NFL players saying about this? Have they come down in support of or in criticism of Roger Goodell in the last couple days?

    KAVITHA DAVIDSON: So, it has been very encouraging to see that in the last few days the players have been on the right side of this issue. They have been very vocal in either their disappointment in Ray Rice as a teammate or a fellow NFL player and in Goodell’s handling of this affair.

    But it’s kind of sad that it took a video to make that happen. We already had a police report. We already had a previous video of him dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator. So what did we believe really happened? And the fact that we allowed ourselves that kind of wiggle room to explain away his actions shows us how much farther we have to go on this issue.

    But, yes, the criticism against their commissioner has been wide-swept during this week.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Kavitha Davidson of Bloomberg, thanks so much.

    KAVITHA DAVIDSON: Thank you.

    GWEN IFILL: We have also invited NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for an interview.

    The post NFL investigates how it handled Ray Rice case appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Nation Prepares To Mark 13th Anniversary Of September 11th Attacks

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: In the 13 years since the 9/11 attacks, not every question about that day has been answered. Potentially explosive revelations that may implicate a key U.S. ally in the attacks remain hidden from public view, classified and stored beneath the U.S. Capitol Building.

    Jeffrey Brown has our story.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Twenty-eight pages of a joint congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks were classified by the George W. Bush administration, which claimed they contained information that would hurt the war on terror.

    But some lawmakers argue the pages reveal little about national security and a great deal about the government of Saudi Arabia’s role in the attacks. They say that the pages tell the story of Saudi officials meeting with and even funding two of the 9/11 hijackers when they first arrived in the U.S.

    It’s all in a story by Lawrence Wright in this week’s “New Yorker” magazine. Wright is author of “The Looming Tower” about events leading to the 9/11 attack. His new book is “Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David.”

    And he joins me now.

    And welcome back, Larry Wright. So this is a 9/11 story about what we still don’t know. Put those 28 pages in context first. They’re part of the original investigation into what happened, but only a handful of people have seen them, right?

    LAWRENCE WRIGHT, The New Yorker: That’s right.

    Right after 9/11, a very unusual congressional inquiry, with both the House and the Senate Intelligence Committee chairmen, convened to find out what had happened. And they did quite a lot of research. This is before the 9/11 Commission took effect.

    And they published their report in 2003, and it was heavily redacted, but there was one entire section, 28 pages, that was taken out entirely. And the Bush administration justified it on national security grounds.

    But congressmen that I have spoken to who have read those 28 pages say it has nothing at all to do with national security, that the Bush administration and the relationship with the Saudis is implicated. And they also admit that it has something to do with the two Saudi hijackers who came to America in January of 2000.


    Well, so part of this centers on what’s called the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, which is — as you document in your story, is placed inside Saudi embassies around the world. And the question is really, is there an explicit tie that exists between Saudi government or other Saudis and the hijackers?

    LAWRENCE WRIGHT: That’s exactly right.

    And there’s a lawsuit, Jeff, that’s going on right now which takes the theory that these two hijackers who came from a high-level al-Qaida meeting in Malaysia in January of 2000 arrived in Southern California. They didn’t speak English, and their mission was to learn how to fly Boeing jets. Now, imagine how difficult that would be.

    And why did they go to Southern California? Were they meeting someone? Well, shortly after they arrived, they found a benefactor in a Saudi man named Omar al-Bayoumi, who lived in San Diego. He drove up to Los Angeles, went to the Saudi Consulate and there met with an official in the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Fahad al-Thumairy.

    And after an hour meeting, he drove to a restaurant in Culver City. And he later claimed that he just happened to be in the restaurant, overheard two men, the future hijackers, speaking in a Gulf Arabic, and he invited them to move to San Diego. He helped them with their rent, set them up in an apartment, introduced them to some key people in the Saudi community there.

    And, you know, it’s a very interesting relationship that he had. Many people in the Saudi community, because he often videotaped people and so on, thought he might be a Saudi spy. In fact, one of the hijackers concluded that as well.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Now, it should be said that some key people that you talked to, including involved in the 9/11 Commission, they had a look at this, and they said they didn’t either — either they didn’t see anything explosive there or they didn’t see enough evidence or it looked a little too wild to really point to something explicit.

    On the other hand, as you say, some key officials, including bipartisan members of Congress, think there really is something there.


    And I have talked to — I talked to the 9/11 Commissioners, and Governor Tom Kean, for instance, has — he’s seen those 28 pages. He thinks they ought to be released. He thinks it’s not just those 28 pages. He says this is just a small part of a much larger story.

    There’s lots of information that that joint inquiry and the 9/11 Commission turned up that still has been kept from the American people, for instance, their interviews with President Bush, with former President Clinton, with Vice President Cheney. Those still haven’t been released. And I think, after 13 years, the American people can afford to know the truth.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Well, follow up on that. What’s the stated reason for that all these years later, why so much of that is still classified? And how much of an attempt has there been to open it up?

    LAWRENCE WRIGHT: Well, Governor Kean and former Congressman Lee Hamilton, the co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission, have been on a campaign to get that material released, so far to no effect.

    And that is separate from the 28 pages. There’s a resolution in Congress that has bipartisan support to urge the Obama administration to release that portion of the document. And there’s also the lawsuit. The victims’ families are trying to get access to this material, because they believe it will support their suit against the Saudi government and other Saudi entities.

    JEFFREY BROWN: It’s also interesting to note that the Saudis themselves say they would like these 28 pages opened up, right? Because they’re — maybe to stop the accusations against them.


    JEFFREY BROWN: What do they say exactly?

    LAWRENCE WRIGHT: Well, Prince Bandar, who was the ambassador to the U.S. at the time of 9/11, asked for these 28 pages to be declassified when the Bush administration withheld them, saying that we stand charged with 28 blank pages and we can’t respond to the charge.

    Bandar’s wife, as it happens, is one of the people that is mentioned in — maybe not in the — I can’t say about these 28 pages, but in that those two people that helped the hijackers, one of them, Omar Bayoumi, and Osama Basnan — Basnan was receiving money. His wife was receiving money from Bandar’s wife, supposedly for a medical condition.

    The suit against the Saudis alleges that some of that money found its way into the hands of the hijackers. The FBI wasn’t able to establish that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right. Lawrence Wright’s article “The Twenty-Eight Pages” is in “The New Yorker.”

    Thanks so much.

    LAWRENCE WRIGHT: It’s a pleasure, Jeff. Thank you.

    The post Classified pages of a 9/11 report may implicate key U.S. ally appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Obama Iraq speech

    I found myself chuckling aloud at the otherwise most unremarkable line in President Obama’s Wednesday night address to the nation. “This is our strategy,” he intoned. Then he ticked off four points.

    It was hard not to believe the leader of the free world was responding pointedly to critics who have spent the past couple of weeks assailing him for not having a plan to stunt the alarming rise of the terrorist group ISIS in Iraq and Syria. (House Speaker John Boehner used the term “strategy” – meaning lack thereof –more than a dozen times in one statement this week.)

    As is often the case with this and other presidents, maneuverability is key. Act too fast, and you are accused of being a heedless cowboy. Act too slowly, and you may be derided as feckless. Try to straddle every pole by — among other things, assembling a coalition to spread the responsibility for action – and you can easily slip and fall into the chasm.

    On every big issue – from health care to immigration reform to the economic recovery – the president has the same challenges. So, I’ve got four points to make too.

    The Strategy Thing – It is not an accident that the president used mostly plain language to silence his critics. This was not a soaring Obama speech. It was about brass tacks. “This is a core principle of my presidency,” he said. “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

    The Definition Thing – If you’re confused about whether to label this new threat ISIS or ISIL or the Islamic State Group, you are not alone. The White House labels them “ISIL” for two reasons: they want to make clear the threat is not limited to Iraq, but is region-wide. (The acronym stands for “Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant,” as opposed to ISIS, which means “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.) But, as the president made clear in his speech, the White House would prefer to scrub the word “Islamic” from all descriptions, so as not to tar Islam as a religion. “ISIL is not ‘Islamic’,” he said. “No religion condones the killing of innocents. And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim.”

    The Timing Thing – You had to listen a little closely, but the president also signaled that this latest combat mission will not last weeks or months, but years. He used terms like “ultimately destroy.” Not immediately. “It will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL,” he added.

    The Go It Alone Thing – “This is not our fight alone,” the president said. Also stepping up to the plate – the Iraqis, Syrian moderates, allies from Europe and the greater Middle East, and even the United States Congress.

    On one front at least, the White House may be getting a little support. Boehner, who only 24 hours before was rhetorically beating the president about the head, stepped back after the speech. Congress, he said, “ought to give the president what he’s asking for.”

    “We only have one Commander in Chief,” he added.

    And The Hill reported House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, who has been similarly critical, told the Ripon Society, “We need to do this together,” saying, “Affirmation by Congress would show that we can do hard things, and we can work together on it.”

    No votes have been scheduled, and one senses the debate is not yet over. But it’s beginning to sound like there is indeed a strategy at the White House and on Capitol Hill, for now -– even if it’s only a bridge to the next conflict.

    The post Gwen’s Take: A strategy in four points appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Iraqi gunmen stand next to a rebel-made mortar launcher left behind by Islamic State group fighters in Barwanah in the Anbar province, after government forces backed by militiamen retook the town, according to local pro-government forces on Wednesday. Photo by AZHAR SHALLAL/AFP/Getty Images

    Iraqi gunmen stand next to a rebel-made mortar launcher left behind by Islamic State group fighters in Barwanah in the Anbar province, after government forces backed by militiamen retook the town, according to local pro-government forces on Wednesday. Photo by Azhar Shallal/AFP/Getty Images

    The Morning Line

    Today in the Morning Line:

    • When it comes to war, what’s in a name?
    • President promising to “go as far as he can” on immigration by end of the year
    • Boehner tries to show a united front with President Obama against IS
    • Judy Woodruff scheduled to sit down with President Clinton

    War, by any other name: The number of militants fighting with the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria is two to three times more than previously estimated, according to a CIA analysis. There are believed to now be 20,000 to 31,500 IS fighters across Iraq and Syria. As we pointed out earlier this week, the New York Times finds that Americans, though more in favor of action in Iraq and Syria than before the beheadings of two American journalists, are still skeptical of war. The administration understands this. That could be one reason Secretary John Kerry was reluctant yesterday to call the action against the Islamic State group “war.” “What we are doing is engaging in a very significant counter-terrorism operation, and it’s going to go on for some period of time,” Kerry said in an interview with CNN. “If somebody wants to think about it as being at war with [IS] they can do so, but the fact is it is a major counter-terrorism operation that will have many different moving parts.” Retired Gen. John Allen, the former top commander in Afghanistan, will coordinate the international coalition against IS.

    White House promising immigration action by end of the year? White House officials met Thursday with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in an effort to calm the fury of Latino lawmakers following President Barack Obama’s decision to delay executive action on immigration reform until after the November midterm elections. White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and domestic policy director Cecilia Munoz were among the Obama administration officials at the session. One of the attendees told the Washington Post that the White House team said the president would go “as far as he can under the law” to revamp the country’s immigration system after the elections. The Post’s Ed O’Keefe also reports that lawmakers pressed McDonough on whether the president would still act if Republicans gained control of the Senate and added to the party’s majority in the House. McDonough said the president would still act, according to one attendee. The president has already dismissed suggestions the shift was made to help preserve a Democratic majority in the Senate, but taking executive action on immigration before November would have run the risk of further energizing conservative voters with Republicans already benefiting from an enthusiasm advantage this cycle.

    House Democrats, Latinos frustrated with Obama: House Democrats signaled little sympathy though for the political prospects of their Senate colleagues. “I don’t care what senator is dangling in the wind; I don’t care what Republican proposal is being put forward; I don’t care what happens. We are moving forward,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., a vocal critic of the president’s decision to postpone action. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out this week showed the president’s approval dropping with Latinos sharply. The Associated Press, meanwhile, reported Thursday that the Obama administration is “on pace this year to deport the fewest number of immigrants since at least 2007.” The main factors the AP cites are the administration’s decision to focus on deporting criminal immigrants and the surge of people crossing the border from Central America, whose cases take longer to process.

    Congress – just eight days left: House Speaker John Boehner tried to show a united front with the president over fighting IS. “Frankly, we ought to give the president what he’s asking for,” Boehner said. But he made no commitment to a day when the House would vote for funding to train and equip Syrian rebels to take on IS. The White House would like it tacked onto a continuing resolution to keep the government funded. But there’s some disagreement among Republicans on whether to do it that way or make it a separate vote. Some in Boehner’s conference also believe the president isn’t going far enough. That’s something House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon noted on NewsHour last night. Arguing for the need for ground troops, McKeon said airstrikes “can drive [IS] back. They can make life miserable for them, but at the end of the day, you have to be able to hold and take the ground.” Boehner seemed to agree, but made clear, “We only have one commander-in-chief.” The current funding for the government runs out at the end of this month. Boehner hopes there’s a vote next week, because the House is out of town all of the following week. By the way, there are now just six days left with Congress in town before funding runs out and just eight TOTAL congressional DC work days left until Election Day. Congress is out the entire month of October (except Oct. 1 and 2) to go home for their final election pushes.

    Presidents join efforts on 20th anniversary of Americorps: It’s the 20th anniversary of Americorps, and President Obama will make remarks on the South Lawn to commemorate it at 11:20 a.m. ET. Obama will be joined by former President Bill Clinton, who signed the original bill into law. Tune into NewsHour tonight, as Judy Woodruff is scheduled to sit down with former President Clinton. Former President George W. Bush will appear in a video that will be shown at multiple pledge ceremonies across the country today, and former President George H.W. Bush is holding a pledge ceremony at his home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

    Quote of the day: “I really wanted it to be Beyoncé.” — 6th grader in Washington, D.C., to President Obama, expressing her disappointment that the first couple had shown up to her school for a service event instead of the music superstar. The president told her he understood and that his daughters would feel the same way. The girl backtracked, later telling him, “But then I realized it was going to be you and that’s even better.” The president let her off the hook. “I appreciate you saying that in front of the press,” he said. “I know it’s not really true.”

    Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1994, Frank Corder was killed when he crashed a stolen, single-engine Cessna on the South Lawn of the White House. Where was President Clinton at the time of the crash? Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to nicandro iannacci ‏(@niannacci) and roy wait ‏(@ind22rxw) for guessing Thursday’s trivia: Who is the current secretary of the treasury? The answer was: Jacob Lew.


    • Gwen Ifill gives her own four-point strategy on how to interpret the efforts by the White House and Congress to combat the Islamic State group.

    • Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., continues to fight Internet rumors that he helped invent the Islamic State and knows its leader.

    • An effort by Senate Democrats to reign in the campaign spending of corporations was blocked Thursday, after a week of heated debate on the floor.

    • Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said Thursday he will consider a presidential bid, but only after the midterms are over.

    • Newly unsealed court records reveal the lengths federal officials went to in order to get tech companies to hand over user information for the National Security Agency’s PRISM program. That included threatening Yahoo with a $250,000 a day fine for not complying with a request the company thought was unconstitutional.

    • President Obama’s approval among two key demographics — women and Hispanics — is lower than usual, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.

    • In Colorado’s Senate race, Sen. Mark Udall leads Rep. Cory Gardner 46 percent to 42 percent in a SurveyUSA poll of registered voters conducted for the Denver Post.

    • Vice President Joe Biden heads to Iowa next week for an official White House event — just three days after Hillary Clinton returns to the state for the first time since 2008 to attend Sen. Tom Harkin’s final steak fry.

    • Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., seems to be paying more attention to New Hampshire earlier than any other prospective 2016 GOP contender. On whether that means he’s running, Paul told the Boston Globe, “I would only want to become involved if I had a real shot at winning.”

    • National Journal’s Shane Goldmacher takes a closer look at the “unfriendly rivalry” between Paul and Kentucky GOP Rep. Hal Rogers.

    • Amy Walters observes the return of the “security moms,” for whom physical security and safety is most important.

    • Democrats are having a tough time making a campaign issue out of corporate tax inversions.

    • A former employee is alleging that West Virginia coal boss Robert Murray fired her when she refused to give money to his favorite political candidates.

    • Florida Gov. Rick Scott is getting a hand from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on the campaign trail Friday.

    • Missouri has passed the second most stringent abortion waiting time — 72 hours, with no exceptions in the case of rape or incest.

    • Led Zeppelin has always been my favorite band,” Rep. Paul Ryan tells the New York Times Magazine.

    • The comedian who “uses arrogance as a form of renewable energy,” Bill Maher reveals the winner of his “Flip a District” segment Friday.

    • Republican Sen. Jeff Flake and Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich will star in a reality TV special, called “Rival Survival.” The premise of the show is that the two senators must help each other survive for a week on an island in the South Pacific.

    • Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had ex-wife Maria Shriver erased from his official portrait — and it left a smudge.

    • Flashback interview of the day: Aaron Blake digs up the Most…Awkward…Candidate…Interview…Ever.

    • 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.


    For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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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.

    Follow the politics team on Twitter:

    The post There are more Islamic State group fighters than U.S. thought appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Yahoo headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Coolcaesar

    Yahoo headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Coolcaesar

    WASHINGTON — Yahoo’s free email service could have cost the company an extra quarter of a million dollars a day.

    The government called for the huge fine in 2008 if Yahoo didn’t go along with an expansion of U.S. surveillance by surrendering online information, a step the company regarded as unconstitutional. At stake, according to the government, was the nation’s security.

    “International terrorists, and (redacted) in particular, use Yahoo to communicate over the Internet,” the director of national intelligence at the time, Mike McConnell, said in a court document supporting the government’s position. “Any further delay in Yahoo’s compliance could cause great harm to the United States, as vital foreign intelligence information contained in communications to which only Yahoo has access, will go uncollected.”

    The outlines of Yahoo’s secret and ultimately unsuccessful court fight against government surveillance emerged when a federal judge ordered the unsealing of some material about Yahoo’s court challenge. Sections of some of the documents were redacted, such as the names of the terrorists McConnell cited.

    In a statement Thursday, Yahoo said the government amended a law to demand user information from online services, prompting a challenge in 2007 during the George W. Bush administration.

    “Our challenge, and a later appeal in the case, did not succeed,” Yahoo general counsel Ron Bell said.

    The new material about the case underscores “how we had to fight every step of the way to challenge the U.S. government’s surveillance efforts,” Bell added. “At one point, the U.S. government threatened the imposition of $250,000 in fines per day if we refused to comply.”

    Bell said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court upheld the predecessor to Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. Section 702 refers to the program called PRISM, which gave the government access to online communications by users of Yahoo.

    Former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden disclosed the program last year.

    Yahoo said it is committed to protecting users’ data and that it will continue to contest requests and laws that it considers unlawful, unclear or overly broad.

    “We consider this an important win for transparency, and hope that these records help promote informed discussion about the relationship between privacy, due process and intelligence gathering,” Bell said.

    The newly released documents show that the Bush administration was taking a hard line and was miffed that Yahoo had even been allowed to get into court with its complaint.

    In sum, the FISA court erred in permitting Yahoo to challenge the directives, said a court brief signed by then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

    Yahoo was arguing that what the Bush administration was doing violated the Fourth Amendment rights of customers of Yahoo customers.

    “The government has conducted warrantless foreign intelligence surveillance for decades, and such surveillance has been upheld under the Fourth Amendment by every appellate court to decide the question,” Mukasey wrote.

    “The government’s implementation of the Protect America Act is consistent with decades of past practice and adequately protects the privacy of U.S. persons,” Mukasey said.

    In its court papers, Yahoo urged that the government be reined in.

    Yahoo requested that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review reverse the lower court’s judgment and find that “the surveillance authorized by the directives is not ‘otherwise lawful,’” wrote Marc Zwillinger, a lawyer representing the Internet service provider.

    Yahoo lost the battle in the surveillance review court.

    In a statement late Thursday, the Obama administration said it is “even more protective” of the rights of U.S. citizens than the law upheld by the review court.

    The American Civil Liberties Union said the case shows the need for more openness about government surveillance.

    “The secrecy that surrounds these court proceedings prevents the public from understanding our surveillance laws,” ACLU staff attorney Patrick Toomey said. “Today’s release only underscores the need for basic structural reforms to bring transparency to the NSA’s surveillance activities.”

    AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke in San Francisco contributed to this report.

    The post U.S. threatened Yahoo with daily fine if it did not comply with data handover appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    President Obama spoke during a primetime address to the nation from the Cross Hall of the White House on Wednesday. Obama announced a broad military campaign to "degrade and ultimately destroy" Islamic State militants. Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

    President Obama spoke during a primetime address to the nation from the Cross Hall of the White House on Wednesday. Obama announced a broad military campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic State militants. Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — As a U.S. senator from Illinois running for the White House in 2007, Barack Obama sponsored a resolution to prohibit President George W. Bush’s administration from taking military action against Iran unless it was explicitly authorized by Congress. His idea died in committee.

    Nearly seven years later, U.S. fighter jets and unmanned drones armed with missiles have conducted under Obama’s orders more than 150 airstrikes against the Islamic State group over the past five weeks in Iraq even as the White House has yet to formally ask Congress for authorization for the expanding air campaign.

    Obama said in his address to the nation Wednesday that he had authorized U.S. airstrikes inside Syria for the first time, along with expanded strikes in Iraq, as part of “a steady, relentless effort” to root out Islamic State extremists. He did not say how long he expected the fighting to last.

    President Barack Obama addressed the nation Wednesday night to announce his strategy for action against the Islamic State group. Video by PBS NewsHour

    The White House says Bush-era congressional authorizations for the war on al-Qaida and the Iraq invasion give Obama the authority to expand the fighting in Syria and Iraq without new approval by Congress under the 1973 War Powers Act. That law, passed at the height of the Vietnam War, serves as a constitutional check on the president’s power to declare war without congressional consent. It requires presidents to notify Congress within 48 hours of military action and limits the use of military forces to no more than 60 days unless Congress authorizes force or declares war.

    The administration’s tightly crafted legal strategy has short-circuited the congressional oversight that Obama once championed. The White House’s use of old authorizations as grounds for the growing air war has generated a chorus of criticism that the justifications are, at best, a legal stretch.

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Thursday cited the 2001 military authorization Congress gave Bush to attack any countries, groups or people who planned, authorized, committed or aided the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Earnest described the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, generally known as the AUMF, as one that Obama “believes continues to apply to this terrorist organization that is operating in Iraq and Syria.”

    The Islamic State group, which was founded in 2004, has not been linked to the 9/11 attacks, although its founders later pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden. In February, al-Qaida declared that the Islamic State group was no longer formally part of the terror organization. And in recent weeks, senior U.S. officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Matthew Olsen, head of the National Counterterrorism Center, have drawn significant distinctions between al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.

    Earnest said Thursday that Obama welcomes support from Congress but that it wasn’t necessary. “The president has the authority, the statutory authority that he needs,” Earnest said.

    Others disagreed.

    “I actually think the 2001 AUMF argument is pretty tortured,” said Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., who serves on the House Intelligence Committee. “They are essentially saying that ISIL is associated with al-Qaida, and that’s not obvious,” Himes said, using an alternate acronym for the Islamic State group. “Stretching it like this has dangerous implications.”

    Himes supports a new congressional vote, as does another Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California.

    An unlikely critic of the president relying on the 2001 order is Jack Goldsmith, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under President George W. Bush and a legal architect of the Bush administration’s war on terror. Goldsmith said in the Lawfare blog that “it seems a stretch” to connect the Islamic State group to al-Qaida, considering recent rivalry between the two groups.

    The White House also finds authorization under the 2002 resolution that approved the invasion of Iraq to identify and destroy weapons of mass destruction. That resolution also cited the threat from al-Qaida, which Congress said then was operating inside Iraq. But the U.S. later concluded there were no ties between al-Qaida and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein or his government, and the group formally known as al-Qaida in Iraq — which later evolved into the Islamic State group — didn’t form until 2004, after the U.S.-led invasion.

    Obama uses both authorizations as authority to act even though he publicly sought their repeal last year. In a key national security address at the National Defense University in May 2013, Obama said he wanted to scrap the 2001 order because “we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight.” Two months later, Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, asked House Speaker John Boehner to consider repealing the 2002 Iraq resolution, calling the document “outdated.”

    Obama himself said Wednesday that he wants congressional backing, not for U.S. airstrikes but for the buildup of American advisers and equipment to aid Syrian opposition forces. House Republicans spurned a vote on that separate request earlier this week, but House Speaker John Boehner is now siding with the administration. The White House acknowledged that it could not overtly train Syrian rebels without Congress approving the cost of about $500 million.

    Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks offered their analysis following the president’s remarks on Wednesday. Video by PBS NewsHour

    “Committing American lives to war is such a serious question it should not be left to one person to decide, even if it’s the president,” said former Illinois Rep. Paul Findley, 92, who helped write the War Powers Act.

    Since U.S. military advisers went into Iraq in June, the administration has maneuvered repeatedly to avoid coming into conflict with the War Powers provision that imposes a 60-day time limit on unapproved military action. Seven times, before each 60-day limit has expired, Obama has sent new notification letters to Congress restarting the clock and providing new extensions without invoking congressional approval. The most recent four notifications have covered the airstrikes against the Islamic State group that began Aug. 8.

    An international law expert at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, Peter J. Spiro, described the letters as workarounds that avoided the controversy over U.S. bombing in 2011 in Libya. Obama said Libya didn’t require congressional permission because the fighting there was not sustained and there were no active exchanges of fire with hostile forces. The seven recent notification letters, Spiro said, amount to “killing the War Powers Act with 1,000 tiny cuts.”

    Former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., who now heads the Lugar Center for foreign affairs in Washington, said Obama could ask for congressional approval in a way that would be less formal than a specific war resolution — perhaps either as an appropriations request or a simple resolution.

    “It may not be the most satisfactory way to declare war,” Lugar said. “But it may be a pragmatic compromise for the moment.”

    Associated Press writer Ken Dilanian contributed to this report.

    The post Can Obama wage war on the Islamic State group without congressional approval? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, R, meets Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, L, during Kerry's official visit at Cankaya Palace in the capital Ankara, Turkey on September 12, 2014. Photo by Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, R, meets Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, L, during Kerry’s official visit at Cankaya Palace in the capital Ankara, Turkey on September 12, 2014. Photo by Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    ANKARA, Turkey — The United States on Friday pressed Turkey to harden its borders against fighters and funding flowing to the Islamic State militant group, and sought clarity on how far Ankara is willing to go to help a worldwide coalition destroy the insurgent threat.

    Turkey sits on the front line of the extremist group’s battleground in Iraq and safe haven in Syria and already has assisted refugees and cracked down on suspicious cross-border traffic from both countries. But Turkey has resisted publicly endorsing a new global strategy to defeat the Islamic State, which has kidnapped 49 Turkish citizens, including some diplomats.

    At the start of a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu cited “challenges and threats” in Iraq and Syria.

    He did not mention the Islamic State by name and did not respond to a shouted question about why Turkey refused, a day earlier in Saudi Arabia, to join the U.S. with a coalition of Mideast nations that pledged to curb the extremists’ resources, repudiate their ideology, provide humanitarian aid to its victims and potentially contribute to a military campaign.

    It was the third meeting so far this month between Kerry and Cavusoglu, who also together participated in talks during the annual NATO summit in Wales and this week in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, about the Islamic State threat. Kerry said the two men also will chair a counterterrorism forum at the United Nations General Assembly at the end of September.

    But the U.S. is being careful to not push Turkey too hard as it grapples with trying to free its hostages. The Turks were kidnapped from their consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul when it was overrun by the Islamic State in June.

    The extremists also are holding several Americans hostage, and as payback for more than 150 airstrikes that Washington has launched against them in Iraq since last month, has beheaded two U.S. freelance journalists who were working in Syria.

    In an interview taped Thursday with the BBC, Kerry said Turkey is “very engaged and … very involved,” and expressed confidence that concerns and questions ultimately will be resolved.

    “But I think for the moment, they have a few sensitive issues,” Kerry said. “We respect those sensitive issues, and we’re going to work with them very carefully.”

    Senior U.S. officials who briefed reporters traveling with Kerry said Ankara already has been working against the Islamic State, including by recently denying about 6,000 people from entering Turkey and deporting 1,000 more who all were deemed suspicious. But one of the U.S. officials said Turkey’s borders remain extremely porous and would be a focus of the diplomatic talks Friday.

    Still, the U.S. officials said they were encouraged by Turkey’s participation in the talks in Wales and Jiddah over how to combat the Islamic State and described it as an uptick in Ankara’s involvement in the issue.

    They also said Turkey has taken in an estimated 1 million Syrian refugees who have fled their homes since civil war broke out three years ago between Syrian President Bashar Assad and Sunni rebels trying to overthrow him. Although the Islamic State is rooted in Iraq, it seized on the chaos in neighboring Syria to gain military strength and create a safe haven.

    It’s not clear whether Turkey will be willing to contribute to the potential military campaign that the new coalition is planning, which is likely to include training and equipping Syrian rebels and Iraqi forces, providing intelligence, and expanding airstrikes against extremists in Iraq and potentially into Syria.

    Because of its location, Turkey could be an ideal staging place for allied fighter jets and drones that would launch the airstrikes. But the U.S. officials said there currently are no plans to do so.

    The U.S. officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be named in briefing reporters.

    Meanwhile, the State Department announced it would give nearly $500 million in additional funding — for a total of $2.9 billion since March 2011 — to a U.N. fund to help Syria refugees. It marks the largest U.S. contribution to the largest U.N. appeal ever. Nearly half of the new money is designated for refugees still inside Syria; about 10 percent, or $47 million, will go to refugees inside Turkey.

    The post Kerry in Turkey to seek support for coalition against Islamic State appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    A Liberian health worker disinfects a corpse after the man died in a classroom now used as Ebola isolation ward on Aug. 15 in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

    A Liberian health worker disinfects a corpse after the man died in a classroom now used as Ebola isolation ward on Aug. 15 in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

    An overtaxed international response to the Ebola outbreak will receive some much needed help.

    Cuba has agreed to send 165 healthcare workers to the region, the largest detachment of foreign doctors and nurses committed thus far. They are expected to arrive in October and will head to Sierra Leone, one of the countries hit hardest by the disease.

    The news comes as the World Health Organization, again, called on the international community today for more assistance to fight the deadly epidemic spreading across West Africa. The latest death toll has climbed to more than 2,400, with a total of 4,784 infected.

    In Geneva, WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan said they are simply overwhelmed.

    “The number of new patients is moving far faster than the capacity to manage them,” she said. “We need to surge at least three to four times to catch up with the outbreaks.”

    Chan said while money and equipment is coming in, another 500 to 600 foreign experts and at least 1,000 local health workers are needed on the ground, if there is hope for curbing the spread of the disease.

    Earlier this month, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the NewsHour after a tour of affected West African countries that the epidemic is far worse than expected.

    Aid workers have been at a particularly high risk for contracting the disease, which can spread through bodily fluids. Already some 300 healthcare workers have contracted the disease, nearly half of whom have died.

    The post Cuba pledges 165 healthcare workers to combat Ebola outbreak appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Flickr User West Annex News

    Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has withdrawn from his re-election bid as he treats a tumor in his abdomen. Photo by Flickr User West Annex News

    Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will no longer seek re-election in October’s mayoral race, a city clerk announced today. Instead, his brother, City Councilor Doug Ford, will take his place.

    Ford’s withdrawal comes two days after the mayor was hospitalized with what was later found to be an abdominal tumor. A full diagnosis awaits the results of a biopsy which, the AP reports, is a week away.

    Ford hit the spotlight in October 2013 after video evidence was found of the mayor smoking crack cocaine. After repeated denials, Ford later admitted he had smoked “while in a drunken stupor.”

    The post Rob Ford withdraws from Toronto mayoral race appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by LCpl John McGarity, USMC

    The search is on for a missing F/A-18C Hornet pilot after two of the jets crashed into the Pacific Ocean Friday. Photo by LCpl John McGarity, USMC

    LEMOORE, Calif. — Two U.S. Navy jets crashed into the western Pacific Ocean on Friday and only one pilot was immediately rescued, military officials said. A night search for the missing pilot was underway.

    The F/A-18C Hornet fighter jets were from Carrier Air Wing 17 based at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The air wing is embarked on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

    The crash occurred at 5:40 p.m. local time about 290 miles west of Wake Island, Navy Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld said from San Diego. Wake Island is 2,300 miles west of Honolulu.

    Groeneveld said she couldn’t release details of the crash, but an investigation already had started.

    The rescued pilot was in fair condition in the medical department of the Carl Vinson, she said.

    All other aircraft that were airborne at the time safely returned to the ship.

    The search for the missing pilot involved the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, the guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley, the USS Sperett, the USS Dewey and two helicopter squadrons.

    The jets involved in the crash were from Strike Fighter Squadron 94 and Strike Fighter Squadron 113.

    “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved,” Groeneveld said.

    The Carl Vinson strike group team departed San Diego on Aug. 22 for what was announced as a 9 1/2-month deployment.

    The F/A-18C is a twin-engine, single-seat strike fighter, designed to function both as a fighter — in roles such as engaging enemy aircraft — and as an attack aircraft, bombing ground targets for example. Fifty-six feet long and with a wingspan of 40½ feet, Hornet C models have been deployed since the late 1980s.

    Built by prime contractor McDonnell Douglas, the jets are capable of flying at speeds greater than Mach 1.7 and altitudes of more than 50,000 feet, according to the Navy.

    An F/A-18E Super Hornet, a larger and more recent variant, crashed in June as it prepared to land on the Carl Vinson off the Southern California coast. The pilot was able to eject safely.

    That crash happened just hours after a Harrier AV-8B fighter jet crashed into a Southern California neighborhood, destroying two homes and badly damaging a third. No one was seriously hurt.

    About a month earlier, a Marine Corps Harrier jet had crashed on tribal land south of Phoenix, but the pilot was able to safely eject. And on March 1, Marine Capt. Reid Nannen was killed in a fighter jet crash during a training exercise in Nevada.

    The post Ongoing search for missing pilot after U.S. Navy jets crash into Pacific appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Only about a dozen copies of the original 1814 sheet music imprint of Francis Scott Key’s 'The Star-Spangled Banner' have survived. The original edition can be easily identified by the misprint 'A Pariotic [recte Patriotic] Song' in its subtitle. Courtesy of the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

    Only about a dozen copies of the original 1814 sheet music imprint of Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner” have survived. The original edition can be easily identified by the misprint “A Pariotic Song” in its subtitle. Courtesy of the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

    We’re all familiar with Francis Scott Key’s “The Star Spangled Banner,” especially as a ritual opening at our county’s favorite sporting events.

    Whether distorted in protest by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock…

    …or belted by Whitney Houston at Super Bowl XXV…

    …the song evokes potent emotion and memory. To celebrate the anthem’s 200-year anniversary, we explore its historical significance. From the war of 1812, to World War I, and up to today’s traditions, it’s had a hand in molding the modern image of America. Thousands of renditions are played each year, but how much do you really know about the anthem?

    Mark Clague is a professor of musicology, the director of research at the University of Michigan and the founder of the Star-Spangled Music Foundation. He’s a big believer in the song’s impact on American culture.

    “One of the powerful things about music, and a powerful thing about an anthem — it builds community when we sing it together. We have a such a big country, with millions of millions of people, and we know the collective rituals, singing the songs together.”

    But, according to Clague, there is no traditional way to sing the anthem. And while the song is a marker of community, it is also a marker of individuality.

    “It’s kind of a statement of citizenship the way you choose to sing it. When people sing it they’re actually telling you a lot about themselves, they’re basically saying ‘I’m an American.’ When Beyoncé sings it, she’s sings it her way, and in part making a statement what it means to be an American today, in a multi-cultural society….If everyone sang it the exactly the same way it would be a pretty boring country.”

    Art Beat spoke with Clague about “The Star Spangled Banner” and he told us seven little-known facts about our national song:

    • In 1814, Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics while he was detained on a British ship in Baltimore. Key, who was on diplomatic mission, was inspired after witnessing the American victory at Fort McHenry, which he believed was an impossible task.
    • Before it was named “The Star Spangled Banner,” it was called “The Defense of Fort McHenry.” Key eventually changed the name to better represent the flag and the United States.
    • President Herbert Hoover signed the bill that made the song the national anthem in 1931. Prior, the United States Navy had used it in official ceremonies.
    • During the Civil War, the Union army translated the song into German with hopes of recruiting German soldiers. Since then, “The Star Spangle Banner” has been translated into several other languages including Spanish, Polish, French, Italian, Hebrew, Yiddish, Latin and Native Hawaiian.
    • In 1861, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. added a verse. Despite using the words “the land of the free,” Francis Scott Key had been a slave owner, and members of the Confederate Army wanted to claim his anthem. Holmes, an influential writer from Boston, wrote new lyrics advocating that American slaves be unchained. Holmes’ addition now appear in most official publications of the lyrics.
    • The first sporting event to hear “The Star Spangled Banner” was a baseball game in 1862 in Brooklyn, New York. The anthem was performed at the first World Series in 1903 in Boston; many believe it was first performed at the 1918 World Series.
    • One of the most famous renditions of the song was performed by Jimi Hendrix at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Though that was his most iconic performance, Hendrix actually performed his version over 60 times during a two-year period.

    The post Oh say did you know these 7 facts about The Star Spangled Banner? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

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    Photo by Flickr user othermore (other).

    Photo by Flickr user othermore (other).

    For 29 years now, Paul Solman’s reports on the NewsHour have been trying to make sense of economic news and research for a general audience. Since 2007, our Making Sen$e page has striven to do the same, turning to leading academics and thinkers in the fields of business and economics to help explain what’s interesting and relevant about their work. That includes reports and interviews with economists affiliated with the esteemed National Bureau of Economic Research.

    Making Sense/NBER logo

    Founded in 1920, NBER is a private nonprofit research organization devoted to objective study of the American economy in all its dazzling diversity, combining data with rigorous analysis to describe and explain the material world in which we live long before data analytics became fashionable. “Why Some Women Try to Have It All: New Research on Like Mother Like Daughter” and “Why Does the First Child Get the Gold? An Economics Answer” have been among our most popular posts on Making Sen$e, both of them largely based on NBER research. We thought our readership might benefit from a closer relationship.

    Each month, the NBER Digest summarizes several recent NBER working papers. These papers have not been peer-reviewed, but are circulated by their authors for comment and discussion. With the NBER’s blessing, Making Sen$e is pleased to begin featuring these summaries regularly on our page.

    The first summary printed on Making Sen$e, below, is from the September Digest.

    In recent decades, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have grown rapidly. There has been little analysis of whether or how this development may affect the performance of securities markets. In “Do ETFs Increase Volatility?” (NBER Working Paper No. 20071), Itzhak Ben-David, Francesco Franzoni, and Rabih Moussawi discover that the stocks that are held within such funds experience substantially higher intraday and daily volatility than stocks without substantial ETF holdings. The authors suggest that the arbitrage between ETFs and their underlying securities adds a whole new layer of trading to stocks that are held within ETFs, and fosters the propagation of trading shocks that occur in the ETF market. As a result, the non-fundamental volatility of the underlying securities increases.

    ETFs are investment funds that typically focus on holding securities in specific asset classes, industries, or geographical areas. They are similar to passive index funds but they are individually listed on exchanges and can be traded daily by retail and institutional investors. New ETF shares can be created and redeemed on a continuous basis. ETFs were first introduced in the 1980s. They began to gain popularity in the 1990s and have experienced explosive growth since the turn of the century. By 2012, there were more than 1,600 ETFs worldwide, and at the end of 2013 these funds had more than $2.5 trillion of assets under management. At one point in 2010, exchange-traded products accounted for 40 percent of all trading volume in U.S. securities markets.

    To study how ETFs affect securities markets, the authors combine data from the Center for Research in Security Prices, Compustat, Bloomberg, OptionMetrics, and Form 13F filings. They focus on a sample of ETFs that hold U.S. stocks and that were listed on U.S. exchanges over the period 2000 to 2012. The researchers use variations in ETF ownership of different stocks, and variation in the divergence between the prices of ETFs and their associated baskets of underlying securities, as well as associated fund flows, to explore the effects of ETF ownership on volatility. In addition, they exploit the fact that ETF ownership of a stock changes exogenously if that stock switches between being included in the Russell 2000 and Russell 1000 indexes. Their key finding is that ETF ownership of stocks leads to higher volatility and turnover. A one-standard-deviation increase in ETF ownership raises daily volatility and turnover by about 16 percent. Since much of the variation they study in ETF ownership of stocks is arguably independent of the inherent volatility of the stocks, the authors conclude that rising ETF ownership affects volatility.

    The research suggests that the more the prices of ETFs and the prices of their underlying component securities diverge, and hence the greater the potential returns to arbitrage trades between the two, the greater the turnover and volatility of the stocks held in the ETF. The authors also find that increased stock volatility results from the flows into and out of ETFs. The price impact of ETF arbitrage appears to decay after a few days, which is consistent with ETFs adding noise to security prices.

    Jay Fitzgerald, National Bureau of Economic Research

    The post Why is Wall Street becoming more bipolar? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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