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

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    NEW YORK — The president of the Syrian National Coalition — whose “moderate rebel forces” President Barack Obama and Congress have committed to help — told me bluntly this morning his fighters will use those stepped-up resources against President Bashar al-Assad’s government forces, not just the Islamic State extremists that the U.S. is targeting.

    “We don’t always have freedom of choice or options.” Hadi al-Bahra said in a late morning interview during the United Nations General Assembly week. “You fight and defend yourself against whomever is waging an offensive against you. So we will be for sure fighting on the two fronts.”

    This can’t be welcome news in Washington. President Obama has resisted getting drawn into the civil war between the moderate opposition in Syria and the Assad government, despite entreaties for nearly three years for him do so.

    But pressed on whether he’s made any commitment to Washington to devote the new U.S. training, weapons and equipment solely against Islamic State extremists, al-Bahra gave no ground.

    He insisted the Assad government is responsible for the growth of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL) militants in Syria, deliberately helping them flourish as a way to squeeze the moderate opposition. “You need to go back to the root of the issue.” he said. Failing to continue the fight against Assad will only perpetuate the conditions that “will produce more terrorist organizations.”

    In short, al-Bahra’s message was, try as President Obama might to stay out of the Syrian civil war, there’s no separating the two battles.

    He addressed another controversial point — whether U.S. airstrikes will end up helping other extremist anti-Assad elements like the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front, which does include the U.S. and Europe in its targets. The opposition leader maintained that the Free Syrian Army forces, not al-Nusra, are best positioned to seize Islamic State group-held territory in Syria, if the Islamists are softened up by U.S. air strikes first.

    But he conceded that for now, the FSA and al-Nusra are on the same side, dividing up the battlefield against Assad’s army and not fighting each other. “It’s not coordination or cooperation,” he said, “but it’s facts on the ground … You make decision on the battlefield.”

    The opposition chief ended with a final sobering thought. Asked how long the U.S. commitment would have to last to do the job, even just against Islamic State, he offered a range of one-to-three years at least. “Al-Qaida, you’ve been fighting it since 15 years ago. But they still exist right now, because the approach was wrong.”

    The question for the U.S. is — will the fight President Obama has undertaken against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq be a more effective one?

    You can watch Margaret Warner’s interview with Syrian National Coalition President Hadi al-Bahra on Monday’s PBS NewsHour broadcast.

    The post Syrian opposition chief: U.S. assistance will be used against Assad forces, not just Islamic State fighters appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Witchblue. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    Photo by Witchblue. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    In the world of box office hits, one title now reigns supreme. Disney’s stage musical adaptation of “The Lion King” has raked in over $6.2 billion in its 17-year run to become the highest-grossing box office production of all time in any entertainment medium, a spokesman for the Walt Disney Company said Monday.

    “The Lion King” takes the crown from another Broadway musical — “The Phantom of the Opera” — whose run has brought in a total of $6 billion at the box office.

    That makes “The Lion King” more successful than any “Harry Potter” or “Star Wars” film. “Avatar” — the top earner of all films — generated $2.8 billion in comparison.

    The post ‘Lion King’ musical makes history as top-grossing production of all time appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flicker user Paull Young

    Photo by Flicker user Paull Young

    According to a team of researchers at the University of Montreal, the current trend of using playtime to bolster kids’ fitness through structured physical activity is robbing tots of some of the aspects of play they cherish most –including its purposelessness. So, if health advocates and fitness enthusiasts have it wrong, who is doing playtime right? The Strong National Museum of Play has some ideas.

    On Monday, the Strong Museum announced the 12 finalists it is considering for the 2014 induction into its National Toy Hall of Fame. The list includes a diverse array of playthings. Some, such as the Slip ‘n’ Slide, encourage physical activity. Others, such as the historically rooted American Girl dolls, with their accompanying book series, are educational in nature. There are a few commercial giants on the list, including My Little Pony and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures, but these Toys “R” Us favorites are counterbalanced by equally formidable homespun opponents such as the paper airplane and pots and pans.

    The inductees, chosen by a national selection committee, will be announced Thursday, November 6. A public celebration will be held the following weekend, on November 8 and 9. A press release posted on the Strong Museum website did not specify whether toys will be provided to attendees, or if the celebration is BYOT.

    Visit the National Toy Hall of Fame online to view a complete list of the 53 past inductees, and to vote for your favorite of the 2014 finalists.

    The post My Little Pony and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles face off against pots and pans for induction into National Toy Hall of Fame appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A small goup of men kneel before the start of the opening of the Open Mosque, on September 19, 2014 in Wynberg, Cape Town. Against a global background of rising Islamist militancy, this new mosque where gay people are welcome, Christians too, and women are treated equally to men opened peacefully today despite threats of violence. Photo by Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images

    A small goup of men kneel before the start of the opening of the Open Mosque, on September 19, 2014 in Wynberg, Cape Town. Against a global background of rising Islamist militancy, this new mosque where gay people are welcome, Christians too, and women are treated equally to men opened peacefully today despite threats of violence. Photo by Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images

    A new “gay-friendly” mosque in Cape Town, South Africa, opened its doors on Friday despite receiving death threats and criticism from the local Muslim community.

    The “Wynberg Open Mosque” is the first of its kind in South Africa. It was founded by U.K. based academic Taj Hargey, who told the BBC, “we are opening the mosque for open-minded people, not closed-minded people.”

    In addition to welcoming openly gay Muslims, the mosque welcomes women to preach and lead the congregation in prayer, an unconventional and controversial practice in Islam.

    The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) in South Africa released a statement on Thursday urging Muslims to stay away from the mosque. Hargey, however, denounced the council’s criticism saying his goal is to counter the rise of radicalism in Islam and to revert to “the original mosque of the Prophet Muhammad, where there were no barriers.”

    The council also asked local Muslims to refrain from protesting the mosque.

    Despite the MJC’s advice, members of the Muslim community in Cape Town staged a protest outside the gender-equal mosque and prevented worshippers from entering the mosque.

    Hargey defended his qualifications and knowledge of Islam.

    “I have a PhD in Islamic studies from Oxford University, unlike my opponents who went to some donkey college in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.”

    The post New ‘Open Mosque’ in Cape Town welcomes openly gay Muslims appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user bobistraveling

    Scientists have genetically engineered a tobacco plant with enzymes from blue-green algae that would increase the speed of the plant’s photosynthesis, allowing for better yields. Photo by Flickr user bobistraveling

    How does one improve the amount of food a crop yields? Speed up the way that plant eats.

    A new study published last week in the journal Nature details a group of scientists that were able to genetically engineer a tobacco plant with a faster enzymes from blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, to allow it conduct photosynthesis more quickly. With sped-up photosynthesis — the process that allows plants to convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and the sugar sucrose — scientists hope that food yields from crops such as wheat and rice can be multiplied up to 60 percent.

    The secret is keeping the enzyme Rubisco away from oxygen and exposing it to more concentrated pockets of carbon dioxide:

    In many crop plants, including tobacco, Rubisco is less reactive with oxygen, but a trade-off leads to slower carbon fixing and photosynthesis, and thus, smaller yields. The Rubisco in cyanobacteria fixes carbon faster, but it is more reactive with oxygen. As a result, in cyanobacteria, Rubisco is protected in special micro-compartments (called carboxysomes) that keep oxygen out and concentrate carbon dioxide for efficient photosynthesis.

    “This is the first time that a plant has been created through genetic engineering to fix all of its carbon by a cyanobacterial enzyme,” said Maureen Hanson, plant geneticist and a co-author of the study from Cornell University.

    The hope is more efficient yields from the same crops would be a possible solution to the finite amount of farmable land.

    The post Scientists look to increase crop production by speeding up photosynthesis appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Finishing high school can be an uphill battle; for homeless students, it can be like facing a mountain of challenges. David Nazar of PBS SoCal reports on efforts to help L.A.’s homeless youth reach graduation.

    WASHINGTON — The number of homeless school children is rising in U.S. schools.

    Education Department statistics released Monday say 1.3 million homeless children were enrolled in U.S. schools in the 2012-2013 school year — an 8 percent increase from the previous school year.

    A vast majority of the homeless children were living in “doubled-up” quarters, meaning multiple families were living together not by choice. About 70,000 were identified as living in a hotel or motel.

    In addition, school districts reported that nearly 76,000 of these students were living on their own, such as runaways.

    Children’s advocates say the numbers reflect why a greater emphasis is needed on expanding support for homeless families — not just those living in homeless shelters.

    “While the economy may be coming back some, people are still having a hard time making enough money to afford and find affordable housing,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the nonprofit First Focus Campaign for Children.

    The statistics likely underestimate the true number of homeless kids. They don’t include homeless infants, toddlers, young children not enrolled in public preschool programs or homeless children not identified by schools officials.

    The post Homelessness among school children on the rise appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    On Saturday, September 27, American Graduate Day will return for its third year. This national television broadcast, produced by WNET, highlights the efforts of individuals and organizations working across the U.S. to help at-risk students reach graduation.

    What should American public schools teach students to prepare them for college and for adult life? How can schools and educators ensure students are competitive candidates for college admission? How do the educational needs of students across the country differ, and is it possible to design a national curriculum? Is standardized testing an effective means of measuring kids’ knowledge? If not, how should students and schools be evaluated?

    We will address these questions and more on Twitter from 1-2 p.m. EDT, Thursday, September 25. Anthony Cody (@AnthonyCody), a retired educator and editor of the blog Living in Dialogue, which addresses issues critical to public education will join the conversation. Veeko Lucas (@veekolucas), a former educator and consultant for the nonprofit TNTP will also weigh in. Follow the discussion, and share your thoughts using the hashtag #NewsHourChats.

    The post Twitter Chat: What do today’s high school graduates need to know and how can this be measured? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    nigeria_ebola

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    GWEN IFILL: The World Health Organization reported today that the Ebola virus has now killed more than 2,800 people in West Africa. The majority of deaths have been in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

    But the deadly illness has been relatively contained in nearby, and much larger, Nigeria, which counts 21 cases and only nine deaths.

    Tonight, special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro takes a look at how Nigeria has controlled Ebola’s spread.

    Fred’s reporting is a partnership with the Under-Told Stories Project at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Not much moves in a hurry in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, also Africa’s most populous city.

    And basic services, like roads and covered sewers, have yet to reach slums like Otumara. But the Ebola message has, what it is, where to report it, how to prevent it.

    MAN: You need to wash your hands. It’s very, very important for you.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Nigeria’s Ebola response has been comprehensive in communities and the media. There’s temperature screening at all the country’s entry and exit points — fever is an early warning sign — and extensive surveillance by public health workers. It’s driven by sound epidemiology and, the American consul in Lagos, Jeffrey Hawkins, says, fear.

    JEFFREY HAWKINS, U.S. Consul General: One thing that people really don’t want to hear is Ebola and Lagos in the same sentence. This is a city of 20 million people, and a major urban outbreak here could have been apocalyptic. But the response was quick.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: One early leader of that response was Babatunde Fashola, governor of Lagos state, which includes the city.

    GOV. BABATUNDE FASHOLA, Lagos State: On this kind of job, fear is always healthy. If you lose fear, something is wrong.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Nigeria’s response began soon after the first confirmed Ebola case in late July. A Liberian-American traveler fell ill at the airport at Lagos. His circle of contacts was limited to the health workers who cared for him, and then there were their contacts. One of them carried the infection to the southern city of Port Harcourt, causing a second outbreak.

    DR. FAISAL SHUAIB: Within a question of just a few days, we had as many as 500 contacts that were being traced, just to cast a wide net and ensure that anybody that has potentially had any contact with a case is under our purview, taking temperatures, asking them if they have any symptoms.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Dr Faisal Shuaib of Nigeria’s Health Ministry heads the Ebola command center. The response team includes several international agencies that have been in Nigeria for years fighting other diseases, like malaria, HIV and polio.

    They quickly redeployed. Dr. Nancy Knight, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the CDC had earlier trained many field epidemiologists here.

    DR. NANCY KNIGHT, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: One of the things that has really helped keep the fear in check and to keep it from turning into widespread panic has been the number of boots on the ground. We have had, between Lagos and Port Harcourt, more than 1,000 people that have been working on containing the epidemic.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Despite Nigeria’s many problems, sectarian violence, Boko Haram insurgents kidnapping schoolgirls, the country has a more developed public health system than its smaller neighbors reeling from Ebola. Having international experts on hand also helped reassure key political leaders like Lagos’ governor.

    GOV. BABATUNDE FASHOLA: That helped a lot to make decisions and to communicate with all of the stakeholders, religious leaders, primary health care workers, school teachers to reassure them that we could turn this around.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The aid group Doctors Without Borders has trained health workers on handling patients, on using the airtight personal protective equipment. The group has built isolation centers in Lagos and Port Harcourt that would handle a fresh outbreak. For now, there’s just one suspected case left.

    There’s no panic, but there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding Ebola in Nigeria. As outsiders, as a camera crew, we were not allowed to go near the contact tracers. These are public health workers who fan out each day to keep tabs on people who had any contact with someone infected with Ebola.

    Dennis Akagha knows firsthand about stigma.

    DENNIS AKAGHA: I lost my job while I was taking care of Justina.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And he lost Justina, his fiancee who was two months’ pregnant. On her first day on a new job, the 32-year-old nurse’s first patient just happened to be that first Ebola case, the Liberian-American. Akagha too became infected, but he pulled through. Survivors of Ebola become immune and are no longer contagious. But that hasn’t helped Dennis Akagha.

    DENNIS AKAGHA: Ebola is not a death sentence. I wouldn’t have lost my job if they had been informed.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Early detection has helped the survival rate in Nigeria. Fewer than half the cases have resulted in death. But the stigma only worsens the public health threat, says Dr. Ndadilnasiya Waziri, who heads the contact tracing effort.

    DR. NDADILNASIYA WAZIRI: A lot of contacts that were (INAUDIBLE) couldn’t even come out to get food in their communities because they were being stigmatized. So, that’s a big worry because that will make people to hide.

    WOMAN: Washing of our hands regularly is one of the best ways to avoid and prevent all of these diseases flying around, like Ebola.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Nigeria’s influential film industry, popularly called Nollywood, has stepped in to help.

    TUNDE KELANI, MOVIE Director: This is like — like UFO, you know, suddenly descended on Nigeria, you know, and we had to do something about it.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Tunde Kelani, a top director, says Nollywood’s leading lights came together in record time, responding, he says, to the biggest existential threat anyone here has felt.

    TUNDE KELANI: I think they responded very well, because we put together a list of about 18 of these celebrities.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Now he’s thinking, why not expand the idea beyond this Lens on Ebola effort?

    TUNDE KELANI: For instance, we can do lens on polio. We can do lens on malaria.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: In the distressed Otumara neighborhood, Alaja Jatto is also thinking beyond Ebola.

    MAN: Well, she says she has something to tell the government, that they don’t have piped water, that their roads are bad, and that they need development.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Whether the government delivers on those improvements is unclear. But the Ebola campaign will continue and on high alert. That’s even though the number of contacts being tracked is now down to about 300. Each day, more people cross the critical 21 days since their exposure to the virus, the window in which symptoms can occur.

    Ironically, this success is a worry. Dr. Faisal Shuaib fears Nigeria could attract Ebola patients from nearby countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

    DR. FAISAL SHUAIB:  We have had record levels of people surviving Ebola virus disease. And they might start feeling, well, maybe this is the place to come.

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: The U.N. has called Ebola a threat to global security. And many people here say Nigeria, the regional economic hub, a nation of 170 million, will remain the most vulnerable frontier.

    The post How Nigeria has succeeded in containing Ebola appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    ebola

    Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The prospect of an even greater Ebola epidemic is keeping health officials all over Africa awake at night.

    Dr. Kevin De Cock, an American, is country director for the Centers for Disease Control in Kenya. He and members of his team have traveled to Liberia and the other affected countries in recent weeks.

    Our Jeffrey Brown spoke to him this weekend in Nairobi, Kenya.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Dr. Kevin De Cock, thanks for talking to us.

    There is a report that a new estimate is in the works that may have a worst-case scenario of as high as half-a-million people. Can you comment on that?

    DR. KEVIN DE COCK, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Yes.

    The doubling time of new cases of Ebola virus disease in Liberia is about every 20 days. So there is a total number of cases doubling about every three weeks. We’re now up to 3,000, 4,000 cases, reported cases, which may be a slight underestimate.

    So, very rapidly, we do expect to see some tens of thousands of cases, and quite possibly, by the end of the year, early next year, some hundreds of thousands, unless this is — unless this is slowed down.

    JEFFREY BROWN: This is exponential growth. So, I mean, at this point, this is out of control?

    DR. KEVIN DE COCK: At the moment, the increase in cases has been described as exponential, yes. And, yes, clearly the epidemic in West Africa in the three most affected countries, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, I do think it’s out of control. And many senior leaders have said that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: You know Liberia and these countries well. And you were there fairly recently.

    These are countries that have little health infrastructure to begin with, right?  What did you see?  What did you see there now?

    DR. KEVIN DE COCK: I think it needs to be emphasized that these are amongst the weakest states in the world. If you look at per capita income, Liberia per capita income is less than 500 dollars per year. The literacy rate in Liberia is about 60 percent. These are very fragile countries. Sierra Leone and Liberia both have come out of civil wars.

    So infrastructure is weak, systems are weak, and it’s a very difficult working environment. And for any country, an outbreak like this would be a challenge. But for these countries, it’s very serious.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Can you give me an example of what you saw there that — I mean, to exemplify the kind of challenge for health workers?

    DR. KEVIN DE COCK: The health workers have paid a very heavy toll in this outbreak. In Liberia, about at least 15 percent of cases of Ebola virus disease have been in health workers. And Liberia, of course, has not many health workers to start with, less than 200 doctors, for example, well under 200 doctors. And quite a few have died.

    The epidemic, it has really had a major effect on the health care system, with many hospitals abandoned. But it’s the secondary effects we’re also beginning to see, the economy grinding down, the health care system halted, the fear in society, and so on and so forth. So the secondary effects of all of this are very, very serious as well.

    JEFFREY BROWN: What about the legal of level of distrust among people there, a fear that this is a Western plot, or that it doesn’t really exist?  How much is that a concern?  How much is that an impediment to getting things done?

    DR. KEVIN DE COCK: It is an impediment.

    And you — I think we’re all aware of the tragic deaths of colleagues in Guinea just a few days ago, people who were kidnapped and ended up being killed. It is a tremendous obstacle. It’s gotten better in many places. But it remains a problem in some — particularly in some of the rural areas, in the three border areas.

    And then it’s sort of it — it also is accompanied by an opposite, a sort of opposite reaction, which is tremendous impatience that more is not being done. So, it…

    JEFFREY BROWN: You can understand that.

    DR. KEVIN DE COCK: Which you can understand, so it’s a difficult working environment.

    JEFFREY BROWN: We’re sitting here in Nairobi, far away. Do you sense a — or how much of a sense of fear, concern, even psychological concern, do you sense here?

    DR. KEVIN DE COCK: There’s a low-level concern.

    And I think the government is doing the right things. They certainly are investing in preparedness, in screening at the airport of incoming travelers, particularly from West Africa, in strengthening surveillance and preparedness in hospitals, having an isolation facility ready and so on.

    So the right things are being done. I think what this whole experience demonstrates is that we really are an interconnected world and the — you know, we have to pay attention to the weakest links in the chain, because we’re — vulnerability is shared between us all because of that.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Because the government in Kenya has stopped flights between here and the West African countries. But people can still go via other countries, right?

    DR. KEVIN DE COCK: Yes. And the stopping of flights is something that needs to be discussed, actually. We…

    JEFFREY BROWN: Discussed or changed?

    DR. KEVIN DE COCK: Changed.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Changed?  What concerns you?

    DR. KEVIN DE COCK: The World Health Organization and CDC and other public health authorities, you know, say that’s probably not the best thing to do.

    JEFFREY BROWN: Because?

    DR. KEVIN DE COCK: It’s understandable — because it gives a false sense of security.

    We — you know, we cannot close our borders and live like an island. Plus, the fact, actually, this is now — if the flights do stop or if those that have stopped don’t recommence, it actually complicated the response to the epidemic, because we have to get people and supplies into these countries.

    JEFFREY BROWN: The worst — I guess a truly worst-case scenario that some people look at would be a spread to other major cities outside that region, to places like this, Nairobi.

    DR. KEVIN DE COCK: I think the worst-case scenario would be exportation of infection into some other urban center that is not well-equipped to address the epidemic.

    And there’s — I think Kenya is trying to assure the appropriate preparedness. But there are, of course, many vulnerable cities across the continent or even in other parts of the world.

    JEFFREY BROWN: And so, as we sit here, how concerned are you about the ability to control this or its spread?

    DR. KEVIN DE COCK: I think we can control this.

    But I think we’re in this for quite a long time. We’re in this for a long haul. And I think a lot more needs to be done.

    JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Dr. Kevin De Cock of the CDC in Kenya, thank you.

    DR. KEVIN DE COCK: Thank you.

     

    The post What’s the worst-case scenario if Ebola can’t be slowed? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Jeb Bush and Sarah Palin back Senator Pat Roberts, a longtime incumbent Rebublican from Kansas, who is fighting to keep his Senate seat. Photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg and Getty Images

    Jeb Bush and Sarah Palin back Senator Pat Roberts, a longtime incumbent Rebublican from Kansas, who is fighting to keep his Senate seat. Photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg and Getty Images

    The Morning Line

    Today in the Morning Line:

    • Sarah Palin, Jeb Bush to campaign for Pat Roberts
    • Orman would be among richest members of Congress
    • U.S., allies begin airstrikes in Syria
    • Obama talks climate
    • Cracking down on offshore tax breaks

    Mending fences: After an election season that saw establishment Republicans with DC ties take on more activist tea party conservatives, the two sides are coming together in Kansas. Determined not to let longtime incumbent Republican Pat Roberts lose and for Republicans to once again miss a chance at wresting control of the U.S. Senate, Jeb Bush AND Sarah Palin will be campaigning for Roberts. Just last month, Roberts held off a strong tea party primary challenge, but Palin coming to the state signals just how much national Republicans know they need to get those dispirited conservatives on board. After all, this is a state that hasn’t sent a non-Republican to the Senate since 1932.

    All in on Kansas: Palin is set to campaign for Roberts Thursday at the Independence Historical Museum and Art Center in Independence, Kansas. Bush, the former Florida governor weighing a 2016 bid, will be in the state Sept. 29. Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole and Arizona Sen. John McCain, both one-time presidential nominees for their party, campaigned with Roberts Monday. All this comes as polls show Independent Greg Orman leading Roberts by mid-single digits. But Orman — a venture capitalist, who, it was revealed yesterday, would be among the wealthiest members of Congress, worth between $21.5 and $86 million — is an untested political novice, and Republicans, on the doorstep of the Senate control, are pouring in every resource to stop him. They are raising questions about how he made his money, dispatching operatives to bolster Roberts’ campaign and are about to hit him on the airwaves. Orman is the favorite right now, but let’s see where the race is in two weeks — and if Democrats join in the fight to help him.

    US and allies launch airstrikes: The war on the Islamic State militant group inside Syria has begun with the first U.S. and allies air strikes. The New York Times writes that they unleashed “a torrent of cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs from the air and sea on the militants’ de facto capital of Raqqa and along the porous Iraq border.” More: “The strikes are a major turning point in President Obama’s war against the Islamic State and open up a risky new stage of the American military campaign. Until now, the administration had bombed Islamic State targets only in Iraq, and had suggested it would be weeks if not months before the start of a bombing campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria.” Syrian officials say the U.S. informed them of the strikes shortly before launching them. President Obama will be speaking at 10 am ET, making his first remarks since airstrikes in Syria began.

    Cracking down on taxes: The Treasury Department unveiled new measures Monday night to discourage “tax inversion,” when American companies move offshore to reduce their domestic tax burden. The government estimates targeting these tax moves could generate $20 billion over the next decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. As of Monday, the new rules will make it more difficult and less profitable for corporations to engineer inversions; the measures are not effective retroactively, sparing some of this summer’s more well-known inverters, although they could still affect pending inversions like Burger King’s move to Canada. That the department took action, despite President Obama and Secretary Lew’s saying there’s “no substitute for congressional action,” speaks to the impossibilities of pushing legislative action before the midterms. And yet, critics on both sides of the aisle say that only Congress has the power to really fix the problem. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp wants to see the issue addressed as part of a larger overhaul of the corporate tax code, while Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden urged Congress to take up tax reform legislation during the lame duck session after the elections. “The administration wanted to go as far as they legally could, but they’re very careful,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, who’s advocated stronger Congressional action on the issue.

    New details on White House fence jumper: New details released by prosecutors Monday revealed that Omar Jose Gonzalez, the man armed with a knife who scaled the White House fence last Friday and got into the front door, had an arsenal of weapons in his car, including two hatchets, a machete and 800 rounds of ammunition. The judge in Gonzalez’s case said that the 42-year-old Iraq War veteran will be kept in custody until his hearing next month, in order to ensure the safety of the president. The Secret Service has been harshly criticized for their handling of last week’s incident, but President Obama praised the agency Monday, saying he is, “grateful for all the sacrifices they make on my behalf and on my family’s behalf.” Members of Congress do not seem to be as forgiving of the security agency. Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Darrell Issa has invited Julie Pierson, the head of Secret Service, to testify about the agency’s policies and procedures. “These significant security breaches reveal our weaknesses as well as our response capabilities to our nation’s enemies,” Issa said Monday.

    Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1952, future President Richard Nixon gave his famous “Checkers Speech.” What was the purpose of the televised speech? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to CTBobL (‏@CTBobL) for guessing Monday’s trivia: Which member of Congress originally proposed a bill to establish the Peace Corps in 1957? The answer was: Hubert Humphrey, Jr.

    LINE ITEMS

    • President Obama will address the United Nations Climate Summit on Tuesday, in New York City. After his U.N. address, the president will speak at the annual Clinton Global Initiative Meeting, and later will attend a fundraising event for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. In the evening, Mr. Obama will attend a reception for visiting heads of state and government.

    • A federal judge in New Orleans ruled Monday that the Louisiana same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. The state’s attorney general said they will appeal the ruling.

    • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee calls Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., two-faced when it comes to birth control and abortion in the group’s latest ad.

    • In the Iowa Senate race, it could all come down to the ground game for Democrats, and that starts in a place called “Obamadale”.

    • North Carolina stands apart from other southern states in that it seems to have moved to the right and to the left in recent years. It’s “deep Dixie purple” in 2014.

    • In the North Carolina Senate race, Sen. Kay Hagan, D, has a narrow 42 percent to 40 percent lead over Republican Thom Tillis in a High Point University poll.

    • Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has been subpoenaed to a deposition against the Bank of China.

    • Democrats’ fundraising edge widened in August, in large part because of more big checks from labor unions and billionaires Tom Steyer and Fred Eychaner.

    • The White House says applying to buy insurance on HealthCare.Gov this fall will be much easier than last year with shorter forms and a revamped website.

    • Protestors demonstrating for action against climate change took over Wall Street Monday in what organizers called a “flood Wall Street” sit-in. Police arrested about 100 protesters.

    • Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La., who became notorious earlier this year for a video tape that captured him kissing a staffer, is out with a new campaign ad featuring his wife and promoting family values.

    • A new Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spot focuses on Minnesota Republican candidate Stewart Mills’ wealth in a new ad that makes Mills look a lot like the millionaire from Gilligan’s Island.

    • In their first ad in New Hampshire, the DCCC targets 2nd District Republican Marilinda Garcia.

    • Aides to Sen. Jeff Merkley responded to unequal pay accusations in a new ad from his opponent Monica Wehby, saying the claim was “absurd.”

    • Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy says that Obama judicial nominee Michael Boggs doesn’t have enough votes to clear committee — because of opposition from Democrats.

    • Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown stated his disagreement with the New Hampshire GOP on abortion Monday.

    • Roll Call’s Stu Rothenberg believes control of the Senate is hinging on Alaska, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa and Kansas, and that Republicans only need to win two of those states to take the majority.

    • An Illinois congresswoman is bringing basketball back into her campaign ads, but she’s not the only one to feature her athletic abilities in television spots.

    • Congressional Republicans are furious about the Politico interview with former IRS official Lois Lerner. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said in a statement: “Her decision to make unsubstantiated claims to a media outlet while claiming Fifth Amendment protections from answering Congress’ questions is telling.”

    • Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., wants to establish a five-day workweek in Congress that starts at 8 a.m. Monday and ends at 6 p.m. on Friday.

    • The Republican Governors Association claims Georgia gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter would not create jobs or expand education programs, but he would be a “spending governor.”

    • Maine Gov. Paul LePage might back out of debating his Democratic opponent Mike Michaud over an outside attack ad.

    • Lawyers for multiple same-sex marriage ban challenges across the country are fighting for their case to be argued before the Supreme Court.

    • The city of Seattle decided to rip up 90 citations given for publicly smoking marijuana, after it was revealed that one police officer wrote the majority of the tickets.

    • Utah law allows teachers to carry concealed weapons into classrooms, and two-thirds of likely Beehive State voters think that’s okay, according to a new poll.

    • For the first time, the U.S. Census included gay couples in their count of married couples. The Census found that same-sex couples still make up less than one percent of married couples in America.

    • Want to get fined a thousand bucks in New Hampshire? Instagram your voting ballot.

    • The #babywatch has commenced. Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are expecting their first grandchild to arrive sometime next week.

    • Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ high profile has been continually chalked up to her being a “diversity pick,” someone whom male leaders call upon, but who would rather do a less ambitious job if left to her own devices. “But that’s a thin tale,” writes National Journal’s Sarah Mimms.

    • 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.

    TOP TWEETS

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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.

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    Photo by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Garst

    A guided-missile cruiser in the Persian Gulf launches a Tomahawk cruise missile against Islamic State targets. U.S. Navy handout photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Garst

    Updated at 9:42 a.m. | WASHINGTON — Combined U.S.-Arab airstrikes hit Islamic State group military strongholds in Syria and Iraq as a simultaneous U.S. strike attacked an al-Qaida cell of hardened veterans with “significant explosives skills” said to be plotting attacks on the U.S. and Western interests, the U.S. military said.

    The top American military official, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, said the U.S. and its Arab allies achieved their aim of showing the extremists that their savage attacks will not go unanswered.

    The U.S. and five Arab nations attacked the Islamic State group’s headquarters in eastern Syria in nighttime raids Monday using land- and sea-based U.S. aircraft as well as Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from two Navy ships in the Red Sea and the northern Persian Gulf.

    American warplanes also carried out eight airstrikes to disrupt what the military described as “imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests” by the shadowy Khorosan Group, a network of al-Qaida veterans working with the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida, known as Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, to get foreign fighters with Western passports and explosives to target U.S. aviation.

    The White House said President Barack Obama would speak about the airstrikes before flying to New York on Tuesday morning for the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

    U.S. officials said five Arab nations either participated in the airstrikes or provided unspecified support. They were Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. Dempsey said their role was indispensable to the U.S. goal of showing that the battle to degrade and defeat the Islamic State group is not just a U.S. fight.

    Dempsey called the strikes an unprecedented coalition with Arab states and said the partnering has set the stage for a broader international campaign against the extremists.

    “We wanted to make sure that ISIL knew they have no safe haven, and we certainly achieved that,” Dempsey told reporters as he flew to Washington after a weeklong trip to Europe. ISIL is an alternate acronym for the Islamic State group whose fighters swept across much of Iraq this summer.

    Dempsey said the five Arab nations’ agreement to join in the airstrikes came together quickly. “Once we had one of them on board, the others followed quickly thereafter,” he said, adding that the partnership came together over the past three days. “We now have a kind of credible campaign against ISIL that includes a coalition of partners.”

    Several hours after the Pentagon announced the airstrikes against Islamic State targets, U.S. Central Command said American warplanes also launched eight airstrikes “to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests” by a network of al-Qaida veterans — sometimes known as the Khorasan Group — who have established a haven in Syria. It provided no details on the plotting.

    Dempsey said the decision to launch both operations simultaneously was influenced by a concern that word of strikes in eastern Syria could prompt the al-Qaida veterans to disperse. The Khorasan Group “may have scattered” if the attack missions had been done sequentially rather than simultaneously, he said.

    Central Command said the bombing mission against that group was undertaken solely by U.S. aircraft and took place west of the Syrian city of Aleppo. It said targets included training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communication building and command and control facilities.

    The airstrikes against Islamic State targets were carried out in the city of Raqqa and other areas in eastern Syria. The strikes were part of the expanded military campaign that Obama authorized nearly two weeks ago in order to disrupt and destroy the Islamic State militants, who have slaughtered thousands of people, beheaded Westerners — including two American journalists — and captured large swaths of Syria and northern and western Iraq.

    The airstrikes began around 8:30 p.m. EDT. Central Command said the U.S. fired 47 Tomahawk cruise missiles from aboard the USS Arleigh Burke and USS Philippine Sea, operating from international waters in the Red Sea and the northern Persian Gulf. U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fighter jets, drones and bombers also participated.

    Syria’s Foreign Ministry said the U.S. informed Syria’s envoy to the U.N. that “strikes will be launched against the terrorist Daesh group in Raqqa.” The statement used an Arabic name to refer to the Islamic State group.

    Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Tuesday the strikes weren’t coordinated with the regime of President Bashar Assad, but added: “There was no resistance, no interaction with Syrian air forces or military defenses” during the operation.

    Russia’s foreign ministry warned Tuesday that what it called “unilateral” air strikes would destabilize the region. “The fight against terrorists in the Middle East and northern Africa requires coordinated efforts of the entire global community under the auspices of the U.N.,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

    Activists said the airstrikes hit targets in and around the Syrian city of Raqqa and the province with the same name. Raqqa is the Islamic State group’s self-declared capital in Syria.

    Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told The Associated Press, “There is confirmed information that there are casualties among Islamic State group members.”

    Dempsey said Arab participation needs to extend beyond direct military roles to assisting in an international effort to undercut finances, recruiting and ideological support for the Islamic State group.

    “What we’re talking about now is the beginning of an air campaign,” he said, adding that it must lead to what he called “the other air campaign” — an effort to fill public airwaves across the Muslim world with arguments for why the extremists must be defeated.

    At a conference on Sept. 11 with Secretary of State John Kerry, key Arab allies promised they would “do their share” to fight the Islamic State militants. The Obama administration, which at a NATO meeting in Wales earlier this month also got commitments from European allies as well as Canada and Australia, has insisted that the fight against the Islamic State militants could not be the United States’ fight alone.

    In a speech Sept. 10, Obama vowed to go after the Islamic State militants wherever they may be. His military and defense leaders told Congress last week that airstrikes within Syria are meant to disrupt the group’s momentum and provide time for the U.S. and allies to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels.

    The U.S. military has been launching targeted airstrikes in Iraq since August, focusing specifically on attacks to protect U.S. interests and personnel, assist Iraqi refugees and secure critical infrastructure. Last week, as part of the newly expanded campaign, the U.S. began going after militant targets across Iraq, including enemy fighters, outposts, equipment and weapons.

    To date, U.S. fighter aircraft, bombers and drones have launched about 190 airstrikes within Iraq.

    Urged on by the White House and U.S. defense and military officials, Congress passed legislation late last week authorizing the military to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels. Obama signed the bill into law Friday, providing $500 million for the U.S. to train about 5,000 rebels over the next year.

    The militant group, meanwhile, has threatened retribution. Its spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, said in a 42-minute audio statement released Sunday that the fighters were ready to battle the U.S.-led military coalition and called for attacks at home and abroad.

    The Pentagon said Monday night that the U.S. military and its allies have launched airstrikes in Syria to combat Islamic State militants.

    The military action includes “a mix of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk land attack missiles,” said Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby in a statement sent to reporters.

    “Given that these operations are ongoing, we are not in a position to provide additional details at this time. The decision to conduct theses strikes was made earlier today (Monday) by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief. We will provide more details later as operationally appropriate.”

    President Barack Obama outlined the possibility in his Sept. 10 address to the nation, where he ordered a military campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic State militants.

    The post U.S., Arab allies hit Islamic State strongholds in Syria, Iraq appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    President Obama spoke from the White House on September 23, 2014 at 10:11 a.m. EDT.

    NEW YORK –€” For President Barack Obama, the participation of five Arab nations in airstrikes against militants in Syria marked an unexpected foreign policy victory as he plunges the U.S. deeper into a military conflict in the Middle East that he has reluctantly embraced.

    The U.S. announced the strikes hours before Obama was due to arrive in New York for three days of talks with foreign leaders at the annual United Nations General Assembly. The cooperation by Arab partners provided a significant boost to Obama’s efforts to build an international coalition to take on the Islamic State militants who have moved freely across the border between Iraq and Syria.

    U.S. officials said Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates participated in the strikes against Islamic State targets, as Obama significantly ramped up U.S. military involvement in Syria, a country that has been mired in a brutal three-year civil war.

    “America is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these nations,” Obama said during remarks from the White House shortly before departing for New York. “This is not America’s fight alone.”

    While in New York for the U.N. meetings, Obama will also be facing other crises that highlight the extraordinary range of challenges demanding U.S. attention across multiple continents. He’ll speak at a high-level U.N. meeting on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and meet with other leaders to discuss Russia’s provocations in Ukraine.

    Along with the fight against the Islamic State, the trio of crises has raised questions about the effectiveness of Obama’s foreign policy and negatively affected the American public’s views of his handling of world affairs.

    Obama was also to speak Tuesday at a U.N. meeting on climate change. And he’ll address the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual gathering hosted by former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The White House said Obama’s remarks will focus on bolstering civil society around the world.

    But the bulk of the president’s agenda in New York will focus on bolstering the coalition that will take on the Islamic State militants. While the U.S. has been carrying out strikes against militant targets in Iraq, Monday’s strikes were the first in Syria.

    Obama has insisted the U.S. would not be alone in trying to root out the Islamic State group, but the public commitments from allies had been few and far between. Before Monday night’s strikes, only France had committed to airstrikes in Iraq, and Saudi Arabia had volunteered to host U.S.-led training missions for Syrian rebels.

    Even with the actions from Arab nations, the U.S. is seeking to rally other partners for future cooperation. High on the list is Turkey, a U.S. ally and NATO member.

    “Nations like Turkey have their own clear, vested personal interest in confronting the threat that’s posed by ISIL,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, referring to the Islamic State by one of its many acronyms. “All of the mayhem and havoc that ISIL is wreaking in Iraq and in Syria is right on Turkey’s doorstep. And it’s certainly not in their interest for all that instability and violence to be occurring so close to their border.”

    Obama is not scheduled to have a formal bilateral meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York, though the leaders are likely to have some interaction on the sidelines of the discussions.

    Obama will hold his first meeting with new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who took office in August amid a U.S.-led push to make his country’s government more inclusive to Sunnis who had turned against Baghdad and toward the Islamic State group.

    The president will also chair an unusual U.N. Security Council meeting Wednesday at which members are expected to adopt a resolution that would require all countries to prevent the recruitment and transport of would-be foreign fighters preparing to join terrorist groups such as the Islamic State. However, Obama administration officials have acknowledged that U.N. resolutions can be notoriously difficult to enforce.

    Officials say Russia’s threatening moves in Ukraine will be a focus of discussions among diplomats and world leaders in New York, though there’s no expectation that specific action will be taken. Russia holds a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and has repeatedly vetoed resolutions related to its monthslong conflict with Ukraine.

    Before departing New York on Thursday, Obama will also address a U.N. meeting on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The White House has said it expects nations to announce pledges to send money, equipment and personnel to hard-hit nations, following on Obama’s announcement last week that the U.S. will send 3,000 military forces to West Africa.

    The post Obama: Arab support in Syria airstrikes shows ‘this is not America’s fight alone’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    WASHINGTON — Eight college fraternities announced Tuesday an effort to work together on new training aimed at combating sexual misconduct, hazing and binge drinking.

    The focus is on learning to recognize, diagnose and intervene in potentially harmful situations. An estimated 35,000 undergraduates are anticipated to participate in the first year of the Fraternal Health and Safety Initiative consortium, according to the announcement.

    The participating fraternities include Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Delta Theta, Pi Kappa Alpha, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Alpha Mu, Sigma Chi, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Triangle — groups with a combined 75,000 undergraduate men at more than 550 college campuses. The consortium plans to use training that organizers say is based on research and created for retreat-like settings.

    “If you think of the power of having all of these fraternities on a particular campus going through similar programming and similar messaging, it could definitely impact the culture on that campus fairly quickly,” said Marc Mores, executive vice president of the James R. Favor & Company. The insurance company insures campus fraternities and organized the effort.

    Last week, the White House started the “It’s On Us” campaign, which is focused on encouraging people to consider stopping sexual assault to be part of their personal responsibility and to intervene when they suspect a potential victim can’t or won’t consent. A White House task force on campus sexual assault, in a report issued earlier this year, said that one of the most promising prevention strategies is bystander prevention.

    Within higher education, there has been growing pressure to curb sexual assault and better protect victims.

    In another effort to reform fraternity culture, Wesleyan University in Connecticut announced Monday that the school’s two residential fraternities will have to become co-ed within the next three years to continue operating on campus, according to the New York Times.

    “The trustees and administration recognize that residential fraternities have contributed greatly to Wesleyan over a long period of time, but we also believe they must change to continue to benefit their members and the larger campus community,” President Michael Roth and Board of Trustees Chair Joshua Boger wrote in a statement explaining the decision.

    Student leaders first called for the change this spring, according to Inside Higher Ed, after the school’s Psi Upsilon chapter was sued by a student who alleged she was raped in the fraternity’s house during a pledge event.

    The national organization of the school’s other residential fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, told the New York times their leaders disagree with Wesleyan’s move. In a statement, they said it “insults the intelligence of Wesleyan’s students, alumni, and other constituencies, who deserve more than vague references to ‘equity’ and ‘inclusion’ when explaining why the university feels it must break a 150-year-old tradition, one that, as the statement says, has ‘contributed greatly to Wesleyan.’ ”

    The post Fraternity reforms, from inside and out, seek to curb sexual assault appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Do older workers need to master texting and Twitter to get a job these days? Photo by Flickr user quinn.anya.

    Do older workers need to master texting and Twitter to get a job these days? Photo by Flickr user quinn.anya.

    Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979, and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community over the past decade.

    In this special Making Sense edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards, or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


    Question: I just watched you on NewsHour and saw how you implied that the problem of unemployment for the over-50s is due to the over-50s not having the skills and the capability of doing what a prospective employer expects of them. You said it is the over-50s’ problem to have the skills necessary to solve the problems the employer has (experience means nothing).

    The Maxwell’s Equations (if you know what they are ) have not changed, nor has the Fourier Transform, nor has La Place’s equation, so what skills do they need to be current in? Texting, or posting stuff on Twitter?

    You are a sad example of an American.

    Nick Corcodilos: What you saw on NewsHour was a few seconds of a much longer interview. The video segment, and most of the transcript of that interview, both appear here: “Long-term Unemployment: Is This Blatant Age Discrimination?”

    MORE FROM THE HEADHUNTER

    Can an employer take back my job offer?

    I don’t think over-50 job hunters are any more or less likely to have “the skills necessary” than anyone else. It’s up to the job applicant to make sure he or she has selected a position that they can handle. Today’s methods of applying for jobs online encourage people to apply to any job that’s even remotely related to their interests, skills, and experience, so they do — with results that make them look like fools. They’re simply not ready to demonstrate in the interview how they will do the work profitably, making it too easy for the employer to focus on what they lack (or on the color of their skin, their sex, or their age).

    Worse, foolish employers invite such tire kickers in for interviews, based on their fit with certain “keywords.” The odds of failing in such an interview are enormous — for the applicant and the employer. Older workers fare even worse because they are being discriminated against on top of other challenges all job hunters face.

    “The costs to employers of age discrimination are staggering.”

    As I point out in the transcript of the NewsHour interview, the costs to employers of age discrimination are staggering — they miss out on tremendous skills, experience, and institutional knowledge. They have no idea what this is costing them.

    Your rhetorical questions miss one key point: It’s up to the job applicant to know what exactly the employer needs, and to be ready in the interview to demonstrate the relevant abilities — and then to show how the applicant will use them to benefit the employer. Why else would anyone hire an applicant?

    As Einstein once famously suggested, Maxwell’s Equations and other facts and tools can be looked up in a handbook. What matters is what you can do with the information — but you must show it. And the bottom line is, no employer is going to figure out what the applicant can do. (Yes, that’s the assumption you must make if you really want to control a job interview and optimize your chances of landing the job.) It’s up to the applicant to explain it — after first assessing what the employer really needs. To complicate matters, employers don’t tell anyone exactly what they need. They merely allude to it in a job description that’s been mashed up by the HR department. This impacts all job applicants, not just older ones.

    “And the bottom line is, no employer is going to figure out what the applicant can do.”

    In the end, when an individual applies for a job, the system is not going to help him. He’s got to figure out what the triggers are for getting hired in that position. The obstacles are clear, and age discrimination is a big one.

    So, how does that older worker help the employer get past the grey? Pardon the corny expression, but it’s apt: Show them the green.

    MORE FROM MAKING SEN$E

    New Adventures for Older Workers

    I’ve coached workers in their 50s and 60s to get jobs, and every time it’s all about revealing to the employer how much it’s going to cost if they don’t hire the person. You have to meet the employer on his own turf and explain it to him in language that he understands.

    Finding a job listing online, filling out a form, and showing up for an interview are losing propositions. Taking the time to carefully select an employer, a manager, and a job is a far better strategy — and so is cultivating the contacts necessary to get introduced and recommended.

    If you’re being discriminated against and you don’t want to take this approach, then there’s one other option you can take: Sue the employer. You’ve every right to. I think my approach is smarter, faster, more effective, and in the end, probably less costly.

    GOT SOCIAL SECURITY QUESTIONS?

    Pose Your Questions to Larry Here

    Age discrimination sucks. Employers often behave irrationally and stupidly. Complaining about it gets us nowhere. Admitting that it happens and that there’s no magic solution — other than filing lawsuits, which aren’t magic at all — helps us realize that just one thing makes the crucial difference to the offending employer: Hitting them in the pocket.

    Pick jobs carefully. Take time to research and understand what a manager really needs. (HR departments make this increasingly difficult by relying on automated recruiting that isolates managers from applicants, but it’s up to you to connect with the hiring manager.) Walk in the door and show how you’ll deliver profit on the job. If you can’t, then you don’t deserve to be hired.

    I believe the measure of Americans lies in our ingenuity. Job seekers must take the initiative to connect the dots and show why they’re worth hiring. Employers don’t hire people who have experience or skills. They hire people who step up and show how they will do a job profitably.

    Just as I hope an employer will judge you by more than your apparent age, I hope you’ll judge how good an American I am by more than a few seconds of edited video. You’ll find dozens of my weekly Ask The Headhunter columns on the NewsHour website.

    Dear Readers: What’s the answer to age discrimination? More important, what’s the best way for an older job seeker to land a job?


    Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “How Can I Change Careers?”, “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

    Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

    The post Ask the Headhunter: How to show employers what age discrimination is costing them appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Michael Scott Moore's Twitter profile image

    Michael Scott Moore’s Twitter profile image

    Michael Moore, a German-American journalist who was kidnapped in Somalia in January of 2012, was released Tuesday, the German news organization Der Spiegel reported.

    Moore, 45, who was in Somalia doing research for a book on piracy, was reportedly flown to the capital of Mogadishu and has been received by German officials.

    According to Spiegel Online, Moore is said to be in good condition. German officials told the news organization that he was overjoyed to be free.

    Moore was abducted by “15 men in two Land Cruisers south of Galyako in the Galmadug region” on Jan. 21, 2012, according to the Somali Report.

    Moore, who is from Manhattan Beach, California, is the author of “Sweetness and Blood,” a book about how surfing spread from Hawaii and California to the rest of the world. He worked for Spiegel International years before his abduction.

    The post American journalist kidnapped in Somalia freed after nearly 3 years appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Gabriel Dawe sculpts 60 miles of sewing thread for his installation piece at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s State of the Art exhibit. Video produced by Dane Walters of KERA

    Dallas artist Gabriel Dawe makes physically imposing and yet nebulous sculpture of thread stretched between points on the ceiling and points on the floor. He creates a multifaceted geometric shape, the color changing like a rainbow as the viewer’s eye shifts around the form. Essentially a simple concept, like the nail-and-thread art that many children make, Dawe has taken this idea to its extreme. In his words: “doing that same idea but in space, and pushing the boundaries of what drawing could be, putting steroids in them.”

    Originally from Mexico, Dawe moved to Dallas from Canada to transition from a career in graphic design to one in art. He’s created installations around the U.S., in Canada, Mexico and London. Dawe is one of three Dallas artists included in the massive new prestigious exhibit in Bentonville, Arkansas.

    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, founded three years ago by billionaire heir to the Wal-Mart fortune Alice Walton, curates a nationwide survey of more than 100 contemporary American artists for the exhibit State of the Art. The museum wants to showcase what it calls “under-recognized” American artists from outside the media centers of New York and LA. Dawe is one of those artists.

    "I think with my pieces you have to see them in real life to catch the subtleties," said artist Gabriel Dawe.

    “Every time I have a new installation, I start a dialogue with the space. I have to take into account architectural peculiarities of the space, and see where I can accommodate the hooks that the thread it attached to,” said artist Gabriel Dawe.

    KERA’s Art and Seek caught up with Dawe a few months ago to watch him install a piece in a building across from the Dallas Arts District. Dawe’s “Plexus” inhabits the building’s main stairwell, and is his tallest creation so far.

    “It’s going to be a structure that is formed completely with sewing thread, a geometric structure that reaches from the ceiling to the floor, in the central staircase,” he said, as the project began. “I don’t know exactly how much thread I am going to be using, but roughly around 40 and 60 miles of thread. The thread is in 16 different shades, and it starts with blue on the outside, edges and angles, to green then yellow.”

    Dawe uses large spools of regular sewing thread, that he selects in turn based on their color to create his rainbow, that fools the eye into thinking the tones fade without seam or transition into the next.

    “Photographs don’t do the pieces justice,” said Dawe. “They do make beautiful photographs, but I think with my pieces you have to see them in real life to catch the subtleties. They change as you move round them; they are almost kinetic; the lines … really start messing with your depth perception, and it comes to life when you move around it.”

    Local Beat is a weekly series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation.

    The post Dallas artist creates rainbows with 60 miles of thread appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Watch President Barack Obama’s speech at Tuesday’s U.N. Climate Summit. “The climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it,” he said.

    Updated at 2:15 p.m. EDT | NEW YORK — President Barack Obama said at the U.N. Climate Summit on Tuesday that the United States accepts responsibility for its part in climate change and will lead the way in doing something about it.

    The U.S., which is the second largest greenhouse gas emitter after China, has made progress in reducing carbon emissions and will set new targets to cut even more, he said. The U.S. government is working with African entrepreneurs on clean-energy projects, farmers to improve agricultural practices and other partners to reduce methane emissions.

    “We recognize our role in creating this problem; we embrace our responsibility to combat it,” the president said.

    He also encouraged other nations to do their part. “We have to set aside the old divides.”

    China’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli spoke after President Obama, saying China recognizes that it needs to respond to climate change “to achieve sustainable development at home.”

    Gaoli said China is working on meeting its own targets of reducing carbon emissions by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. He said the country of 1.36 billion people will participate in next year’s Paris conference aimed at negotiating the next international climate agreement.

    Some interests will be suspicious that any climate-related commitments will put the United States at an economic disadvantage, said President Obama, but the U.S. must continue to lead the way in a global effort for making improvements.

    It was his first U.N. speech since the U.S. military and its Arab allies launched airstrikes against Islamic State  fighters in Syria overnight, and he alluded to the terrorist threat in his remarks.

    “For all the immediate challenges that we gather to address this week — terrorism, instability, inequality, disease — there’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate,” Mr. Obama said.

    A National Climate Assessment released in May detailed the adverse effects of climate change, including hotter and drier weather, more flooding and receding sea ice. The study was written by a federal advisory group with members from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other federal agencies.

    Thousands of activists marched in New York City on Sunday to protest fossil fuels and demand action of world leaders on climate change. “It is time for them to declare — with concrete steps — how they’ll reduce the damages we’re already enduring from climate change,” said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    Several leaders at the summit, which involved more than 120 U.N. member states, spoke about the need to act without delay. “Droughts and floods cost my country about $200 million a year,” said President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia.

    Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar called net zero emissions by the end of the century an “attainable goal” that all nations must aspire to before it’s too late.

    Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway, sounded a positive note: “The good news is we have the necessary means at hand,” including new technologies.

    President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj of Mongolia spoke about how climate change was affecting land users in his country: “If you have any question that climate change is happening, ask herdsmen.”

    The reporting from New York was supported in part by the U.N. Foundation’s press fellowship program.

    The post Obama: U.S. part of climate problem, but all nations need to work on it appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    City workers wear green t-shirts warning of Ebola as they prepare to clean the streets in the centre of the Liberian capital Monrovia on September 6, 2014. Photo by  Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images

    City workers wear green t-shirts warning of Ebola as they prepare to clean the streets in the centre of the Liberian capital Monrovia on September 6, 2014. Photo by Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images

    The number of Ebola cases in west Africa could reach 1.4 million by January if dramatic interventions aren’t undertaken quickly, Centers for Disease Control officials announced Tuesday.

    The CDC arrived at this “worst case” number through its new modeling tool that will allow governments and nonprofit groups to estimate the trajectory of the disease and predict the impact of prevention and treatment strategies.

    “If conditions continue without scale-up of interventions, cases will continue to double approximately every 20 days, and the number of cases in West Africa will rapidly reach extraordinary levels,” the report concludes. “However, the findings also indicate that the epidemic can be controlled.”

    The epidemic has infected around 5,800 people and killed about 2,800 people in west Africa so far — though World Health Organization officials say the numbers are probably far higher than official counts. The WHO has predicted that the total number of infections could top 20,000 by November.

    In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, CDC Director Tom Frieden cautioned that the data in the report is several weeks old – and interventions already underway will likely prevent the worst-case scenario from materializing.

    In fact, the CDC’s new tool also demonstrates a second hypothetical scenario in which the epidemic begins to decrease and eventually die out in the months ahead – but only if 70 percent of people who have contracted Ebola receive treatment in medical facilities, “Ebola Treatment Units,” or, when those centers are full, in a non-medical setting where transmission risk is low.

    Frieden said the modeling tool – and the numbers that come with it – should be cause for resolve rather than panic. “The model shows that a surge now can break the back of the epidemic,” he said. “It also shows there are severe costs of delay and that the importance of implementing tools rapidly can’t be overstated.”

    The post CDC: Ebola cases could reach 1.4 million by January. How likely is that? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    The People's Climate March organized more than 2,000 events in 166 countries last weekend. The central protest took place in New York City, where thousands gathered to urge international leaders at the United Nations' summit on climate change to take greater action. Photo courtesy Flickr user Light Brigading

    The People’s Climate March organized more than 2,000 events in 166 countries last weekend. The central protest took place Sunday in New York City, where thousands gathered to urge international leaders at the United Nations’ summit on climate change to take greater action. Photo courtesy Flickr user Light Brigading

    What’s with all these climate protests?

    This week’s protests were timed to today’s United Nation’s climate summit in New York. The street demonstration in Manhattan on Sunday was believed to be the single biggest climate protest — ever. More than 300,000 marched in New York that day, including students, monks, actor Mark Ruffalo, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. And, naturally, former Vice President Al Gore.

    But that was merely one of 2,800 rallies in some 160 countries calling for action on climate change. In Bordeaux, a child wore a gas mask with a sign reading, “Mommy, can I go play outside?” On a beach in Australia, people “saluted” Prime Minister Tony Abbott by sticking their heads in the sand and their butts in the air.

    And in New York on Monday, hundreds of protesters, including one in a polar bear costume and another dressed as Captain Planet, marched through New York City’s financial district dressed in blue to symbolize rising floodwaters and staged a sit-in attempted to “block Wall Street.” Dozens were arrested. Their message to Wall Street, to stop financing the oil industry, reflected a new focus on fossil fuel “divestments.”

    Divestments? What does that mean?

    Divestment, or divestiture, refers to the process of selling an asset. In this context, it means a push for big companies and individuals to sever ties with investments in oil and coal by selling stocks. What started as a move on university campuses became bigger news on Monday when the Rockefellers, heirs to the oil dynasty that originated with Standard Oil, announced a plan to divest a large holding of fossil fuel stocks, citing concerns about rising emissions due to climate change. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund will join a $50 billion campaign to divest investments linked to fossil fuels. Participants also include businesses, religious groups, even cities like Santa Monica, California, and Seattle.

    Gwen Ifill discussed this campaign with Jenna Nicholas of Divest-Invest Philanthropy on last night’s show:

    A campaign of “divestments” will be presented at today’s meeting by Al Gore.

    But climate change is not a new problem. Why is this happening now?

    Today’s meeting is in part preparation for a meeting in December in Lima, Peru, and a bigger conference in December 2015 in Paris. In advance of these conferences, this summit puts pressure on countries at the national level to focus attention on climate change.

    “What I take away from this is that Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. are interested in giving the issue high profile in advance and in preparation for the ultimate meeting in Paris in 2015,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor at Princeton University and member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    Will any of this really move the ball forward or is it just another rehash of the same debate?

    It’s not all old news. President Obama announced today that the U.S. government will offer vulnerable populations abroad new scientific tools to “strengthen their climate resilience.” The government will also be required to factor climate change into money spent overseas to help poorer countries. Watch his speech here:

    Also new at this meeting is a deadline to curb greenhouse gas emissions by halting deforestation. The United States, Canada and the European Union are among the 32 countries signing on, the Associated Press Reports. But Brazil, home to huge swaths of rainforest, has said no to endorsing the initiative.

    Still, many obstacles to progress remain. Among them, cost, partisan gridlock, the persistence of the problem and “deep divisions between industrialized nations and developing countries,” wrote Robert N. Stavins in an opinion piece in the New York Times. Stavins is an IPCC author and director of the environmental economics program at the Harvard Kennedy School. But market-based solutions to reduce emissions combined with creative leadership could hold promise, he concludes.

    If history is any indicator, it’s unlikely that any global treaty will be reached. But smaller-scale negotiations between countries that result in reducing carbon emissions could be an alternative, along with an informal “pledge and review” process that relies on public exposure to pressure countries into progress, Oppenheimer said. “Countries would be shamed in not doing what they said they would do, but they would not be penalized,” he said.

    In the meantime, language on the meeting’s website is ambitious, challenging leaders to “bring bold announcements and actions to the summit that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015.”

    That seems like a lot of PR mumbo jumbo. Remind me, why this is such a big deal?

    Simply, it’s part of a push to do more to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Reports out this month showed levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reaching record highs, a reduced ability by oceans and plant life to soak up that carbon, and birds like the cerulean warbler and the bald eagle rapidly losing habitat.

    Climate change is occurring, and it’s “extremely likely” that it’s human-caused, according to the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    Stavins described it this way:

    The world is now on track to more than double current greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere by the end of the century. This would push up average global temperatures by three to eight degrees Celsius and could mean the disappearance of glaciers, droughts in the mid-to-low latitudes, decreased crop productivity, increased sea levels and flooding, vanishing islands and coastal wetlands, greater storm frequency and intensity, the risk of species extinction and a significant spread of infectious disease.”

    Who is at the climate summit?

    President Obama joins 120 world leaders at the summit, along with celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, who has been crowned a “UN Messenger of Peace” by Ban Ki-moon.

    And it’s not just environment leaders. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, for example, who has called climate change “one of the most important challenges of our time” is attending.

    But just as important is who’s not there: Chinese president Xi Jinping and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is important because China and India, along with the United States, are the world’s top emitters. The countries will be represented by other diplomats, but some have called their absence a snub.

    The post Making sense of this week’s climate change news appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    "Biohacker" Dave Asprey demonstrates a headband that he claims electrically stimulates blood to reach the front of the brain to improve cognition. Photo by Jason Lelchuk

    “Biohacker” Dave Asprey demonstrates a headband that he claims electrically stimulates blood to reach the front of the brain to improve cognition. Photo by Jason Lelchuk

    The big question about biohacking is, what is it? That’s a question my editors and my friends all asked me as I prepared a story for the PBS NewsHour on this new biology term. And when I answered them, they still didn’t quite get it. So I’ll try again, with some help from the folks I talked to in recent weeks.

    Biohacking is a fairly new practice that could lead to major changes in our life. You could it call citizen or do-it-your-self biology. It takes place in small labs — mostly non-university — where all sorts of people get together to explore biology. That could mean figuring out how the DNA in plants affects their growth, or how to manipulate genes from another source to make a plant glow in the dark. It often is aimed at producing a product, like the chairs and building blocks that artist Philip Ross makes by feeding mushrooms a meal of sawdust or peanut shavings. It is experimenting on the cheap, usually without the benefit of a fancy university laboratory, and it often involves DNA and genes. If you don’t know enough biology to take part at first, you learn it along the way.

    Ron Shigeta runs Berkeley Biolabs, a biohacking site in Berkeley, California, where dozens of would-be biologists gather frequently to hack around. He says biohacking is “a freedom to explore biology, kind of like you would explore good fiction.” As for the hacking part, “hacking is kind of like the freedom to sort of dig deep into something, just because you’re interested in it. … The whole idea of biohacking is that people feel entitled, they feel the ability to just follow their curiosity — where it should go — and really get to the bottom of something they want to understand.”

    “The whole idea of biohacking is that people feel entitled, they feel the ability to just follow their curiosity — where it should go — and really get to the bottom of something they want to understand.”But hacking also has a negative connotation; when someone hacks your computer, you want to send him or her to jail. But that’s not exactly what biohacking is. Drew Endy, a professor of bioengineering at Stanford, who considers himself a biohacker, says “I come from a tradition where hacking is a positive term, and it means learning about stuff by building, and trying to make things and seeing what happens.”

    And Eri Gentry, who founded the Silicon Valley biohacking venue BioCurious, explains further: “The word hacker comes from MIT where hacks would be cool little tricks that you would play on each other, so when you’re done with your homework, you’re staying up all night, and you’ve got to have something to do, so they might coat the ceiling or the roof of a building in tin foil. So this was a hack, and hackers came to be known in the 60s and 70s as the guys who were making the first computers.”

    Yet another concept of hacking comes from a totally different source. Dave Asprey, a computer security guy, considers himself a biohacker. Basically he hacks into his own body. Here’s what he says: “There are two perspectives on biohacking. One is that biohacking is something you do to biology, outside of yourself; you’re going to change a cell; you’re going change an amoeba and make it glow in the dark. The other perspective on biohacking, the one where I spend my time, is that you can hack your own biology, and you can gain control of systems in your body that you would never have access to.”

    Asprey — who has received attention online and at conferences — says he has used biohacking and new technical measurement tools and a low-toxic coffee he produces (Bulletproof) to alter his cognition, his weight and his general health. He takes supplements, applies electricity to his brain and his muscles, to improve his body and his mind.

    He has not had his work evaluated by peers or duplicated by scientists, or published in scientific journals. But he maintains that he “is a professional biohacker, so I spend most of my time sharing what I’m doing with people and I write about it online.”

    Whether Asprey belongs in the category of biohacker, is unclear. But Gentry of BioCurious would admit him to the club.

    “I see a distinct difference between the biohacking that Dave does and the biohacking that we’re doing. … But if biohackers like Dave Asprey want to tinker with their own bodies, that’s where we draw the line in the lab. … Dave is interested in making himself an optimal human being, and much credit to him,” he said. “I think what he does is great.”

    Which gets us back to the original question: What is biohacking? Since it’s a citizen-run pastime, you decide.

    The post What is biohacking and why should we care? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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