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

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    GWEN IFILL: This was Wall Street’s worst day in a year-and-a-half, as the Dow Jones industrials plunged nearly 360 points. The sell-off was driven by growing turmoil on China’s markets and falling energy prices. It accelerated late in the day, as programmed selling kicked in.

    In the end, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 358 points to close below 17000. The Nasdaq fell 140 points and the S&P 500 dropped 44. The declines on the Dow and the S&P amounted to about 2 percent. The Nasdaq loss was nearly 3 percent.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Wildfires in the Western U.S. turned deadly again overnight, killing three firefighters in Northern Washington State. Officials said a hellstorm of flame caught them after their vehicle crashed near the town of Twisp. They’re the latest of 13 firefighters to die this year.

    GOV. JAY INSLEE (D) Washington: These are three big heroes protecting small towns. And we are going to remember them. And there are seven million Washingtonians that today are embracing them and their families and praying for them and hoping for the speedy recovery of our injured. These are people who were lost doing what firefighters do, which is to rush towards the fire, rather than away.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Hundreds of people poured out of Twisp and a neighboring town overnight and today to escape the flames.

    GWEN IFILL: The same heat that’s fueling wildfires made July the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that goes back to 1880, when record-keeping began. According to NOAA, the average land and sea temperature was 61.86 degrees, a fraction hotter than the old record. And the span of January through July was also the hottest ever for that seven-month period.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Community leaders in Saint Louis appealed for calm today after the killing of a black teenager sparked new trouble. Police say they shot Mansur Ball-Bey early yesterday when he pointed a gun during a drug search. Hours later, police fired tear gas at protesters and arrested nine people they said were throwing bricks and bottles.

    Today, local church leaders appealed to both sides.

    REV. CHARLES BROWN, President, Clergy Coalition: Until there’s some type of dialogue, until people take responsibility as to what’s going on, this is not going to stop. We can put people up here in front of the camera all we want. It’s not going to stop until there’s a great dialogue. And the dialogue is, is that everyone is at fault.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Tensions have been running high since the police shooting of Michael Brown in the Saint Louis suburb of Ferguson one year ago this month.

    GWEN IFILL: Rising tensions between the two Koreas erupted into artillery fire today. The North fired several shells, and the South answered with dozens of rounds of its own. There were no reports of casualties, but scores of people were evacuated from at least one village in the South. They took refuge in underground bunkers. The trouble’s been building since land mines in the demilitarized zone wounded two South Korean soldiers this month.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The military junta in Thailand is ruling out any link between this week’s Bangkok bombing and foreign terror groups. Monday’s blast killed 20 people and wounded more than 120 others. There’s been wide-ranging speculation about who carried out the attack and why, leading to the military statement today.

    COL. WINTHAI SUVAREE, Thailand (through interpreter): The security agency has collaborated with intelligence agencies from a lot of countries, and has come to the same preliminary conclusion, that the incident is unlikely to be linked to international terrorism, and that Chinese tourists were not the direct target.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The prime suspect, spotted on security video, remains at large. Police today cleared two other potential suspects, but they said, in all, as many as 10 people may have been involved in the plot.

    GWEN IFILL: In Egypt, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a car bombing that wounded at least 30 people in a Cairo suburb overnight. Daylight revealed the extent of the damage. The blast ripped through the building’s facade, blowing out its windows, and leaving a crater in the road.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And Britain and France announced new joint efforts today to stop thousands of migrants trying to sneak through the Channel Tunnel. British Home Secretary Theresa May and her French counterpart toured security operations in the port city of Calais, near the tunnel’s entrance in France. They promised more guards, fences and cameras.

    But May said that’s still not enough.

    THERESA MAY, British Home Secretary: The situation we are facing in Calais is the result of a global migration challenge. And that is why our two countries will continue to work closely together, to make sure the rest of the European Union and the transit and source countries from which migrants are coming are also playing their full part in solving this problem.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: An estimated 3,000 migrants are camped in Calais, with more arriving daily. At least 10 have died since June trying to get through the tunnel to Britain.

    The post News Wrap: Three firefighters die in wildfire ‘hellstorm’ in Washington state appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    College admissions now utilize big data to assess factors like students' social media use to judge applicants.

    College admissions now utilize big data to assess factors like students’ social media use to judge whether applicants are likely to stay.

    Applicants for this year’s freshman class at Ithaca College didn’t have to send their standardized test scores. If they did, the scores were considered, but so were some surprising other factors — how many friends and photos they had on social media, for instance.

    The same big data techniques that are transforming other industries are seeping into the college and university admissions process to help predict whether students will succeed and graduate.

    “This is the kind of stuff that savvy parents, students and college counselors know about,” said Bruce Poch, dean of admission and executive director of college counseling at the Chadwick School, a private school in Southern California, and former dean of admissions at Pomona College.

    The point is simple: to increase graduation rates by using big data to identify the kinds of students who, experience has proven, are most likely to stick around.

    graduation-gapEric Maguire, until recently vice president for enrollment and communication at Ithaca, said using data as a part of the selection process has, in fact, already bumped up the number of students who stay after their freshman year. (Maguire is now vice president and dean of admission and financial aid at Franklin & Marshall College.)

    “The question is, how do you recruit a set of students that will be successful at your school?” said Katharine Frase, vice president and chief technology officer for IBM’s unit focused on working with the public sector, which produced the data analysis program used at Ithaca.

    “When a student doesn’t complete a degree, it is disruptive for everybody,” Frase said. “The student has incurred debt and the school is left with a hole in that class.”

    Ithaca has been quietly collecting student social media data since 2007, when it launched a Facebook-like website for applicants called IC PEERS. The website gives applicants a chance to connect with Ithaca faculty as well as each other.

    Using an IBM statistical analysis program, Yuko Mulugetta, Ithaca’s director of enrollment planning and self-styled “in-house statistician,” studied data collected from IC PEERS to see which students employing what behaviors were most likely to enroll and stay at Ithaca — how many photos they uploaded to their profiles, for instance, and how many IC PEERS friends they made.

    The idea is to learn how interested a candidate is in the college, Ithaca officials said.

    The Big Brother approach to using data in this way is not without its critics.

    “I really didn’t think about how the school might use that information, but I guess I was already through enough of the college admissions process that I felt like all of my information was already with the schools,” said Kelly Meehan, a rising sophomore music major at Ithaca from Saratoga Springs, New York.

    But Meehan worries that using IC PEERS data could put students at a disadvantage who don’t have regular access to the Internet or aren’t inclined to use social media.

    Related: New policies close off opportunities to college applicants in need of extra help

    Using new forms of data collection and analysis is only likely to increase, however, as universities and colleges are judged by everyone from regulators to bond-rating agencies on their ability to attract students and shepherd them to graduation.

    “There’s an economic side to this that’s unnerving,” said Poch, reflecting on the time he ran admissions at Pomona. “I remember sitting down with bond raters from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s and them asking, ‘How many applications do you get and what is your yield?’” — the proportion of accepted students who enroll, a measure of demand.

    “The more demand, the higher our bond rating, and the lower our interest rates,” Poch said. “So a higher yield meant saving millions of dollars a year in interest payments.”

    David Wright, chief data officer at Wichita State University, said his colleagues and counterparts talk a lot about how to get the highest yield at the lowest cost. At his school, Wright said, all potential students are assigned a probability, from zero to 100 percent, of whether they’ll enroll, based on factors such as sex, race, ethnicity, test scores, high school grades and whether they’re the first in their families to go to college. The university then focuses its recruiting dollars on reaching the ones most likely to attend.

    Like many other colleges and universities, Wichita State also uses data to predict the likelihood of academic failure among enrolled students. It gives that information to academic advisers who suggest changes to a student’s schedule long before classes start in the fall, in an effort to increase the student’s likelihood of success and, ultimately, graduation, Wright said.

    Related: Colleges give drifting students maps to help them find their way to graduation

    At Sarah Lawrence College, Tom Blum, vice president of administration, acknowledged that its use of big data is designed to increase yield rates. He added, however, that “we do want to minimize instances where we’ve admitted a student that probably wasn’t the best fit for us. How interested an applicant was is heavily correlated with the student who is going to be a good fit and stay on past the first year.”

    He said: “This isn’t rocket science. Those students get our open curriculum, they get that we only have one major, they get that there’s a focus on independent study. And the students that understand those things and are excited about those things are the ones who are most likely to stay.”

    “We are small enough to get away with having conversations about each applicant, we don’t use numerical formulas,” said Blum. “But we do use all of the data to cross-check the human process of building a class that is diverse and likely to show up and stay around.”

    This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Read more about higher education.

    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 new tool colleges are using in admissions decisions: big data appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Members of the Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) team take part in an anti-terror drill in Seoul, South Korea, on Aug. 19, 2015. South Korea on Wednesday staged a nationwide civil defense drill, called the annual Ulchi Exercise, where they hope to prepare the general public for all possible emergencies. The Ulchi Exercise is run in parallel with the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, where both South Korean and U.S. forces also hold joint military drills. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Members of the Special Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) team take part in an anti-terror drill in Seoul, South Korea, on Aug. 19, 2015. South Korea on Wednesday staged a nationwide civil defense drill, called the annual Ulchi Exercise, where they hope to prepare the general public for all possible emergencies. The Ulchi Exercise is run in parallel with the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, where both South Korean and U.S. forces also hold joint military drills. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Friday that America’s annual military exercise with South Korea has resumed after being stopped as a result of escalating tensions and threats of war from Pyongyang.

    David Shear, the assistant secretary for Asia issues, told Pentagon reporters that the exercise was temporarily halted so that the U.S. and South Korea could talk and coordinate over the recent exchange of artillery fire across the border. He said U.S. forces were at an increased security status for the exercise and “are remaining on an enhanced status as part of the exercise and, of course, to insure adequate deterrence on the peninsula.”

    He said the U.S. commander in South Korea decided to pause the exercise after consulting with South Korean military officials. He added that commanders needed to receive briefings about the gunfire situation to make sure that both the U.S. and South Korea had “a mutual understanding of what the situation is.”

    He said the U.S. is continuing to monitor the situation closely, adding that the U.S. calls on Pyongyang to “refrain from actions and rhetoric that threaten regional peace and stability.”

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday declared his front-line troops in a “quasi-state of war” and ordered them to prepare for battle against South Korea in response to an exchange of artillery fire on the border.

    The annual exercise began Monday and was slated to end next Friday.

    The post U.S. restarts military exercise with South Korea, after pause appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo courtesy of M+ Museum

    A woman stands in the light of a sign for Mido Café at 64 Temple St., Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong. Photo by Wing Shya, courtesy of M+ Museum

    We’ve seen them glowing on New York City theater billboards, Las Vegas casinos and Hong Kong high-rises. They cast unbidden light and shadow into restaurants and homes and are a part of the daily scenery for millions. But neon signs, once a vital part of a city’s culture and barometer for its economic climate, are fading out of sight as the once-popular technology disappears from the streets.

    An online exhibition tells the story of neon’s history, which began purely by accident.

    When the British chemist William Ramsay was first trying to identify the element neon, a noble gas he discovered in 1898, he enclosed it in a container and applied electricity. A “blaze of crimson” came from the container — the first sparks of a new industry.

    The neon signs of the Tsui Wah restaurants are all seemingly identical, but each differs slightly from the others. The sign on the Parkes Street location incorporates a neon cup of milk tea. Photo and caption courtesy of M+ Museum

    Each neon sign is unique, and many are at risk as they are taken down and replaced with low-cost alternatives. Photo by Jimmy Ming Shum, courtesy of M+ Museum

    Now, neon has become a symbol of capitalism, business and the economic climate that surrounds it. But lower-cost alternatives are replacing it, especially in Hong Kong, where thousands of signs are being taken down. Hong Kong’s M+ Museum has begun building a permanent collection of these signs and created an online exhibition where users can check out a map of signs around Hong Kong along with essays on the signs’ cultural significance.

    First, a primer on how they work: to make the signs, craftspeople bend tubes of heated glass into a desired shape. The glass is filled with a combination of gases that respond to electricity by emitting light; “neon” has become industry shorthand for the effect that these gases produce. Electrical leads are embedded to each end, and when a voltage is applied, it excites electrons in the gases’ atoms — causing a glow.

    The process of neon glass bending is featured in “The Making of Neon Signs,” a specially-commissioned video produced for “Mobile M+: NEONSIGNS.HK." Photo and caption courtesy of M+ Museum

    The process of neon glass bending is featured in “The Making of Neon Signs,” a video produced for “Mobile M+: NEONSIGNS.HK.” Photo and caption courtesy of M+ Museum

    French engineer Georges Claude created the first neon lamp in 1902, and in 1910 displayed his invention publicly for the first time at the Paris Motor Show. In 1912, Claude created what many believe to be the first neon advertisement: the words “PALAIS COIFFEUR,” which lit up 14 boulevard Montmartre in Paris. By 1914, more than 100 businesses in Paris followed suit, attracting attention to their storefronts with neon. Claude was awarded a U.S. patent for the neon light in 1915 and began selling licenses to others who wanted to produce them.

    Neon did not come to the U.S. until 1923, when the Roaring 20s were underway and the automotive industry was booming. Claude sold a pair of neon signs to a Packard car dealership in Los Angeles, which stopped traffic among onlookers who reportedly called the light “liquid fire.” The U.S. auto industry had new visual shorthand for the consumerism that drove it.

    “I think people really respond to neon,” said Kevin Adams, a theatrical lighting designer who used neon-imitating LEDs in a design for the Metropolitan Opera’s production of “Rigoletto” in 2013. “There’s a kind of cool factor related to it that people respond to.”

    Running across the entire width of its façade, the Victory Mahjong neon sign in Yau Ma Tei offers an architectural expression of animated “running neons.” Photo and caption courtesy of M+ Museum

    Running across the entire width of its façade, the Victory Mahjong neon sign in Yau Ma Tei offers an architectural expression of animated “running neons.” Photo by Jimmy Ming Shum. Photo and caption courtesy of M+ Museum

    Wherever the signs are used, they are a visual hallmark of consumerist city culture, said Lawrence Pun, a cultural critic living in Hong Kong. “The visual stimulus of the neon sign seems to reflect the prosperity that fuels urbanites’ desires,” Pun wrote in an essay for the M+ Museum exhibit. “Capitalist society is predicated on city dwellers’ desire to consume.”

    This prosperity was apparent in a 1929 description of New York City’s neon lights from the newspaper “Brooklyn Life and Activities of Long Island Society,” published roughly three months before the stock market crashed:

    From the corner of Broadway and Forty-second Street, where the bright-light district begins, the view at night is a vast panorama of color red squares and rectangles enclosing green letterings and blue-purplish lines providing a setting for yellow flashes and orange bolts of electric lighting. Looking to the east, deep red is easily the favorite. Crimson lights proclaim the wares of radio stores, restaurants, drug stores and a merchandiser of sporting goods.

    In the 1930s, even as the Great Depression plunged the U.S. economy into crisis, neon swept through the country, with Times Square becoming its neon epicenter. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s first neon shop opened in 1932, and neon signs gained popularity in Hong Kong during the 1930s and in the postwar era.

    Dating to 1976, the Kai Kee Mahjong neon rooster in Kwun Tong once overlooked Yue Man Square. Redevelopment of the area prompted its removal, and it was donated by Kai Kee to the M+ collection. Photo and caption courtesy of M+ Museum

    Dating to 1976, the Kai Kee Mahjong neon rooster in Kwun Tong once overlooked Yue Man Square. Redevelopment of the area prompted its removal, and it was donated by Kai Kee to the M+ collection. Photo and caption courtesy of M+ Museum

    As a medium that first gained a foothold in advertising, the rise of neon, and eventually its decline, are strongly associated with consumer wealth and economic class. Its early use for automotive advertising links it to the industry that President Barack Obama recently credited with having “built the middle class in this country.” At the time they first appeared in the 1920s, neon signs were a sign of strong business.

    But neon gradually became associated with lower classes. While businesses began to replace neon signs in the 1950s and 1960s, many of the businesses that retained them were working-class establishments — mostly “cheap, rather run-down bars, hotels and restaurants that could not afford brand-new advertising displays,” according to the book “Flickering Light: A History of Neon.”

    Photo courtesy of M+ Museum

    A man stands in the light of the neon sign at Paris Cotton Singlets Co. Ltd, 15 Pak Sha Road, Causeway Bay. “We’ve been here since 1971, and our neon sign has been with us the whole time. Now the sign is getting old; no one is willing to fix it. But we’re still very proud of it,” he said. Photo by Wing Shya. Photo and caption courtesy of M+ Museum

    In Hong Kong, neon signs now mostly appear outside independent businesses as global corporations phase them out, according to Christoph Ribbat, a Professor of American Studies at the University of Paderborn, Germany. But as even those are taken down and replaced by LEDs, fluorescent tubes and other alternatives, locals ask what is being lost.

    Since 1977, the Sammy’s Kitchen neon cow has presided over Queen’s Road West in Sai Ying Pun. Due to its size, the owners have been ordered to dismantle the sign, and it will subsequently enter the M+ permanent collection. Photo and caption courtesy of M+ Museum

    Since 1977, the Sammy’s Kitchen neon cow has presided over Queen’s Road West in Sai Ying Pun. Due to its size, the owners were ordered to dismantle
    the sign, and it will subsequently enter the M+ permanent collection. Photo and caption courtesy of M+ Museum

    One of Hong Kong’s iconic signs, the neon cow that appeared outside of Sammy’s Kitchen for over 35 years, was taken down this month after the Hong Kong Buildings Department ruled it illegal. The M+ Museum will acquire that sign.

    Sammy Yip, who owns Sammy’s Kitchen, told the South China Morning Post he was glad it would find a new home in the museum. “At least I can go there and have a look at it from time to time,” he said. “I have deep emotional attachment to this neon cow.”

    In the 1970s, the Millie’s Centre anchored the corner of Nathan and Jordan Roads. Photo by Dusty Sprengnagel. Photo and caption courtesy of M+ Museum

    In the 1970s, the Millie’s Centre anchored the corner of Nathan and Jordan Roads. Photo by Dusty Sprengnagel. Photo and caption courtesy of M+ Museum

    Lower-cost alternatives can mimic neon, but its brightness and vivid colors are hard to fully reproduce, according to Adams. “There’s just nothing else like it,” he said. “The colors that neon can make, you can’t reproduce with other products — the deep purples and ambers and yellows.”

    Today, the storefront that first displayed a neon sign in Paris has become a Hard Rock Café, the American theme restaurant whose brand rests on nostalgic rock-and-roll memorabilia and neon.

    Many cities still have neon artists producing signs, Adams said. But he questioned how many people will know the difference as they eventually fall out of use.

    “Do they even notice when it’s not neon?” he said.

    Photo courtesy of M+ Museum

    A man stands in the light of the Victory Mahjong sign at 15 Kansu St., Yau Ma Tei. Photo by Wing Shya, courtesy of M+ Museum

    The post Photos: The dying art of the neon sign appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    ddd Graphic by Lisa Overton/PBS NewsHour Weekend

    Tariq Ba Odah, a detainee at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who began a hunger strike in 2007, now “looks like a man who is starving,” his lawyer said Friday. Graphic by Lisa Overton/PBS NewsHour Weekend

    The lawyer representing Tariq Ba Odah, a detainee at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who began a hunger strike in 2007, said Friday that his client had lost more than half of his body weight and appears “shockingly thin and frail.”

    Defense attorney Omar Farah, who saw Ba Odah this week for the first time since April, is pushing for the detainee to be released on medical grounds.

    The Justice Department filed a court order last week to oppose Bah Odah’s release.

    Ba Odah, a 36-year-old from Yemen, has been held at Guantanamo for 13 years. He began his hunger strike eight years ago to protest his indefinite detention without charges.  He stood up to shake my hand, and he was very unsteady on his feet.  You could see veins visible all the way up his arm and bicep.

    “He stood up to shake my hand, and he was very unsteady on his feet.  You could see veins visible all the way up his arm and bicep,” Farah said in a telephone interview with PBS NewsHour. “He was shockingly thin and frail. Mr. Ba Odah looks like a man who is starving.”

    Ba Odah once weighed 160 pounds but now weighs 74, according to Farah.

    “He seemed to have slightly more energy than when I saw him last time,” he said. “But in our meeting, his energy tailed off very, very quickly.  He remains at a very dangerously low weight.”

    Farah is an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based non-profit organization that has spearheaded legal challenges against the rationale for detention as well as conditions at Guantanamo since it opened.

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    In 2009, the Obama administration, established an interagency review process that cleared Ba Odah and dozens of other Guantanamo detainees for release.

    Today, Ba Odah remains in Guantanamo’s Camp Five, held mostly in solitary confinement, rather than at the base’s hospital, Farah said. He is usually too weak to leave his cell and is force-fed twice a day.

    “The government is force-feeding Mr. Ba Odah to keep him alive in order to prolong the detention of someone who is cleared for release,” Farah said.

    Force-feeding at Guantanamo involves strapping detainees to a chair, sticking a tube down their nose, and pumping a nutritional supplement like Ensure into their stomachs. Detainees and their attorneys consider the practice to be abusive.

    In June, Farah filed a petition for habeas corpus in Washington, D.C. federal court seeking Ba Odah’s release on medical grounds.

    On Aug. 14, the Justice Department responded by filing court papers opposing a court-ordered release, but said the administration might find another way to free Ba Odah.

    In a written statement, a Justice Department spokesman said:

    The U.S. government remains committed to promptly securing an appropriate location to which petitioner Ba Odah can be transferred.  Such a transfer will be consistent with applicable U.S. law and policy and occur in a manner consistent with the Administration’s commitment to reduce the detainee population at Guantánamo Bay and to ultimately close the detention facility in a responsible manner that protects national security.

    Farah plans to file a formal reply in federal court.

    A State Department-led effort has led to many detainees leaving Guantanamo for their home countries or other countries willing to accept them. Congress requires that the Secretary of Defense personally sign off on each removal and affirm security conditions in recipient nations are satisfactory.

    Of the 780 detainees held at Guantanamo since January of 2002, there are 116 prisoners left.

    A majority of the “cleared” detainees are Yemeni citizens, but the country is not considered an acceptable repatriation destination due to the ongoing civil war there as well as the country’s status as a base for al Qaeda.

    “His citizenship cannot explain inaction,” Farah said. “His family desperately wants to be reunited with him.”

    Privately, Pentagon official have reportedly expressed concerns that if Ba Odah were released on medical grounds, other detainees might see an incentive in starving themselves.

    A surge in protesting hunger strikers in 2013 saw two-thirds of the detainees refusing meals. The Pentagon has since stopped disclosing how many detainees may be on hunger strikes.

    As a potential precedent for Ba Odah’s release, Farah points to the case of Ibrahim Otham Ibrahim Idris, a 52-year-old Guantanamo detainee from Sudan sent home in December 2013 after 11 years in captivity. His attorneys argued in federal court that Idris was too physically and mentally ill to pose a threat to the U.S. A judge ordered his release after the Justice Department dropped its opposition to his petition.

    The Pentagon said earlier this month it will submit a plan to Congress for closing the controversial military prison when members return from their August recess.

    Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Thursday the Pentagon is considering military prisons in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and Charleston, South Carolina, as possible locations to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo.

    “There is real frustration that there is really no way to get out of Guantanamo,” Farah said, of the detainees. “They are wondering how on earth this ends.”

    The post Attorney: Hunger-striking detainee at Guantanamo ‘shockingly thin and frail’ appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Downhill city skyline of Karaj near Tehran, Iran. Photo by Germán Vogel/via Getty Images

    Downhill city skyline of Karaj near Tehran, Iran. Photo by Germán Vogel/via Getty Images

    If there is any sort of silver lining to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, it may come in the form of fewer smog clouds.

    Political upheaval, economic recession and armed conflict over the past five years drove down air pollution levels, especially smog, across the Middle East, according to the open-access report published today in “Science Advances”.

    “If you look at the Middle East, you get such an entirely different picture from anywhere else on the globe,” Jos Lelieveld, the report’s lead author, said in a press conference. Lelieveld, an atmospheric physicist, directs the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany.

    Large amounts of pollutants flood the air each year due to human activities like agriculture and fossil fuel consumption. The problem is especially pronounced in developing nations, where industrialization is growing. The World Health Organization estimated that 7 million people worldwide died in 2012 due to poor air quality, with nearly half those deaths linked to outdoor air pollution. Poor outdoor air led to about one of every 16 deaths that year.

    And while environmental policies have slowed carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in some parts of the world, there is a less complete picture surrounding other pollutants like sulfur oxides (SOx) emitted from cargo ships or fossil fuel-related nitrogen oxides (NOx), which contribute to ozone, a.k.a. smog.

    To monitor long-term trends in both of these air contaminants, Lelieveld and his colleagues turned to the Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA’s Aura satellite. Launched in 2004, Aura satellite flies in low-orbit around the planet 14 times a day, taking measurement of air quality.

    When the researchers looked at satellite data collected from 2005 to 2014, they noticed a decline in both NOx and SOx pollution over the Middle East — namely, in Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, central Iraq and other Arabian Gulf countries.

    Moreover, the decrease in pollutants began in 2010. Prior to this year, pollution in the Middle East rivaled that of Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s, when smog levels boomed in the California metropolis. When the team compared the satellite measurements with economic and energy use data from the World Bank and U.S. Energy Information Administration, they concluded that the sudden drop in emissions was mostly triggered by socioeconomic instability.

    The researchers argue that events like the Arab Spring, the Syrian War and trade embargoes against Iran triggered a reduction in SOx and NOx by four to six percent across the Middle East, all around the same time. These reductions occurred despite more energy use and CO2 emission in some places, like Egypt.

    Sulfur dioxide trend reversal over the Arabian Gulf. (A) shows sulfur  column densities averaged over 2005–2014.  (B) shows changes between 2005 and 2010, while (C) portrays changes between 2010 and 2014. Courtesy of Lelieveld et al. Sci. Adv. 2015;1:e1500498

    Sulfur dioxide trend reversal over the Arabian Gulf. (A) shows sulfur column densities averaged over 2005–2014. (B) shows changes between 2005 and 2010, while (C) portrays changes between 2010 and 2014. Courtesy of Lelieveld et al. Sci. Adv. 2015;1:e1500498

    “For example, in a city like Baghdad, we see the air pollution going up until 2010, and then the activities of the Islamic State are developing,” Lelieveld said.

    Pollution emissions began rising in Iraq after 2005, which paralleled their economic recovery from the war. An increase in pollution was also present in northern, Kurdish areas, which he said correlated with their economic growth.

    However, since 2013, nitrogen dioxide levels in Baghdad and central Iraq have declined significantly.

    The downward trend is especially apparent north and northwest of Baghdad in cities like Tikrit and Samarra where the Islamic State is active.

    On the opposite end, the recent movement of refugees has spawned air pollution. “Now while [in] Syria and Iraq, the flows of refugees have reduced air pollution, in Jordan and especially in Lebanon, the air pollution has strongly increased,” Lelieveld said.

    Also in 2010, Iran experienced a strong decline in air pollution, including that created by tanker ships in the Persian Gulf. This time frame corresponded with the U.N. Security Council tightening sanctions and the U.S. imposing a comprehensive Iran sanctions, accountability and divestment act.

    The effects of the boycott were considerable, cutting emissions from international shipping in the Gulf region by a factor of two, Lelieveld said.

    The team noted reductions in air pollution following 2010 in areas without strife too, such as in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, which implemented air quality control policies. They also spotted fewer NOx emissions in Greece after 2008, following the financial crisis.

    Lelieveld pointed out that air measurements from space won’t stop armed conflicts in this region, but could help environmental policy. Given that trends in SOx and NOx didn’t always mirror carbon emissions in the Middle East and the fact that air quality stations aren’t available across the region, Lelieveld argues that satellite readings might provide a more accurate picture of pollution.

    “It is simply a new diagnostic that can help analyze what’s going on in certain areas,” he said. “The amount of information that will become available from these satellites … will be fantastic.”

    The post Satellite spots an unexpected result of Middle East conflict appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    A woman wearing a traditional Vietnamese hat pushes her bicycle past a McDonald's restaurant in Saigon on March 9, 2015. Photo by Kham/Reuters

    A woman wearing a traditional Vietnamese hat pushes her bicycle past a McDonald’s restaurant in Saigon on March 9, 2015. Photo by Kham/Reuters

    Editor’s Note: In the past in Vietnam, there were the very wealthy, and there were the very poor, and most made a living as subsistence farmers. Now its middle class is one of the fastest growing in Southeast Asia.

    The country is a source of cheap labor for global multinational companies. As more companies have begun to manufacture their goods there — Samsung is one such company — Vietnam’s economy has come to heavily rely on exports.

    As Vikram Mansharamani recently witnessed, that’s changing.

    — Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor


    I just returned from a trip to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), where I had a front-row seat to see the forthcoming global consumption boom driven by a rapidly expanding middle class.

    During my short trip, I had the chance to meet with business and government leaders, local and foreign investors, artists, farmers and several taxi drivers. I ate at a restaurant that made New York City look cheap with Vietnamese who regularly spend six figures on custom-designed jewelry featuring imported gemstones.

    Inequality is still palpable in almost every walk of life, even if the tide appears to be lifting all boats. There are contradictions galore. An attendant at a roadside noodle stand beamed — his face enveloped in a broad smile — after receiving my tip of less than $1.

    But one thing is absolutely certain: consumption is booming. The middle class is using its newfound income to emulate a Western lifestyle.

    Restaurants and cafes are increasingly common, and multinational corporations — like McDonald’s — are taking note. The company recently entered the country and today has five restaurants in Saigon. In some of these early locations, volumes are running more than 30 percent above even the most optimistic scenario. Many middle-class Vietnamese families now have their Sunday dinner under the golden arches. And the market is so under-penetrated that it wouldn’t surprise me if McDonald’s had a thousand restaurants in Vietnam by 2025.

    But food is not the only item chewing up the newfound incomes of the Vietnamese middle class — housing is too. After spending several hours navigating the streets of Saigon on scooter with a local friend, he took me a former colleague’s home. The young man we met described himself as a “farmer.” He was, in fact, an executive at Vietnam’s largest shrimp farming company, and while he was humble, intelligent, and insightful, I was distracted by my surroundings. We met in the courtyard of his apartment building, one that was as modern and as comfortable as the nicest developments in the United States. The pool was filled with middle-class Vietnamese, and although I looked hard, I failed to notice a single ex-pat.

    And when, later that evening, I had dinner with my friend and his wife at a top-notch sushi restaurant located atop one of Saigon’s tallest towers, I had my expectations dashed again. Beyond the budget of most Vietnamese, I expected a foreign crowd. But no, the place was filled with locals. Many were entrepreneurs educated abroad; most were in the city to pursue what they felt were unparalleled economic opportunities.

    Twenty-five floors below us on the streets, families were heading out to dinner; traffic, overwhelming; restaurants, packed; bars, full; stores, crowded. In general, Saigon was sizzling. All around, it seemed sure to me that a middle class was in the making.

    And lest you think Vietnam’s growing middle class won’t affect you, think again. Almost 20 percent of the country’s exports are products made by Samsung Electronics — everything from televisions to smart phones. The electronics giant has invested more than $14 billion into the country and today employs more than 100,000 workers that produce 33 percent of all Samsung smartphones worldwide. What happens when those workers start consuming what they’re producing? Or when they start demanding higher wages?

    But of course, there’s more to the Vietnam story than just smartphones. The country is the world’s largest exporter of cashews, Robusta coffee, and peppercorns. With Vietnam’s growing middle class, Vietnam’s economy can reduce their dependency on foreign — and U.S. — consumer appetite. What happens when exports evaporate because local demand booms?

    The post Think Vietnam’s middle class won’t affect you? Think again appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Rev. Charles Duplessis at the construction site of his fellowship's new church, the Mount Nebo Bible Baptist Church, in the Lower Ninth Ward. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

    Rev. Charles Duplessis at the construction site of his fellowship’s new church, the Mount Nebo Bible Baptist Church, in New Orlean’s famous Lower Ninth Ward. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

    A decade after Hurricane Katrina devastated a city, how has New Orleans reclaimed its rhythm? PBS NewsHour traveled to Louisiana for a series of in-depth reports on the city, its infrastructure and its people. “Katrina 10 Years Later” kicks off Monday, Aug. 24, 2015, with an online report on an organization that has built playgrounds for the children of the Gulf coast.

    Starting Monday night, PBS NewsHour will broadcast these stories:

    How Safe is New Orleans?
    Ten years after the disaster, how safe is the city from the next storm? New Orleans has a brand-new, state of the art, $14 billion dollar flood protection system, but there’s another potential danger lurking just outside the city — Louisiana’s coastline is disappearing. NewsHour correspondent William Brangham explores the city’s two lines of defense, and examines why Louisiana’s coast keeps crumbling.

    A man clings to the top of a vehicle before being rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard from the flooded streets of New Orleans, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in this Sept. 4, 2005, file photo. Photo by Robert Galbraith/Reuters

    A man clings to the top of a vehicle before being rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard from the flooded streets of New Orleans, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in this Sept. 4, 2005, file photo. Photo by Robert Galbraith/Reuters

    A Conversation with Jesmyn West
    Jesmyn Ward, who wrote “Salvage the Bones,” about how a Mississippi family and community experiences Katrina, talks with NewsHour co-anchor Gwen Ifill. Ward is now an Associate Professor at Tulane University in New Orleans.

    TUESDAY, AUG. 25:

    The Lower Ninth Ward Today
    As New Orleans touts its economic revival since the storm, we look at what’s happened to the iconic Lower 9th Ward neighborhood — the site of so much devastation during Katrina. William Brangham reports that even as the city has spent nearly $500 million dollars on the neighborhood, only half of the original residents have returned. We talk with residents who believe there wasn’t the political will to bring the community fully back, and others who fighting to start new businesses.

    Steps are all that remain of where a house once stood are seen in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans a decade after Hurricane Katrina. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

    Steps are all that remain of where a house once stood are seen in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans a decade after Hurricane Katrina. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

    WEDNESDAY, AUG. 26:

    Healthcare in New Orleans
    NewsHour special correspondent Jackie Judd reports on how Hurricane Katrina devastated an already broken health care system. Though many residents evacuated during the storm, hundreds of thousands of the sickest of the sick, poorest of the poor stayed. After the closure of Charity Hospital, health workers set up dozens of makeshift clinics on the sidewalk in spots where medical care was most needed — many of which eventually became fully functioning clinics. These clinics, and a sophisticated IT system, now are the backbone of the city’s healthcare system. We examine how New Orleans’ approach — once a model of medical disaster that now serves as a playbook for building systems that can withstand just about any type of chaos.

    THURSDAY, AUG. 27:

    Profile of Wendell Pierce
    New Orleans native Wendell Pierce, an actor who was in the New Orleans-based HBO drama “Treme,” started the non-profit, Pontchartrain Park Community Development Corp., to build new affordable solar and geothermal homes in the area for families displaced by Katrina. He talks to Jeff Brown about his experiences and his forthcoming book, “The Wind in the Reeds: A Storm, A Play, and the City That Would Not Be Broken.”

    FRIDAY, AUG. 28:

    Mud residue is visible in a hurricane-damaged cafeteria at New Orleans Charter Middle School, seen on Feb. 21, 2006. Did Hurricane Katrina give New Orleans' chronically underperforming school system a fresh start? Photo by Lee Celano/Reuters

    Mud residue is visible in a hurricane-damaged cafeteria at New Orleans Charter Middle School, seen on Feb. 21, 2006. Did Hurricane Katrina give New Orleans’ chronically underperforming school system a fresh start? Photo by Lee Celano/Reuters

    Charter Schools
    Since Katrina, many of the public schools have been replaced with charters. Nobody claims that the public schools were particularly effective before the disaster, but not everyone agrees that the charter schools are doing as good a job as they claim. John Tulenko looks at the strengths and weaknesses of these new schools.

    Rebuilding with Faith
    The Mount Nebo Bible Baptist Church has provided sanctuary for its members in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward since well before Katrina came and decimated their community and destroyed their house of worship. Since returning in 2009, the Reverend Charles Duplessis has run church services and Bible study out of his own rebuilt living room as he struggles to rebuild the church itself. The once 150-member church now claims about 40, but members are hopeful for a full return. They have held on to the church for a sense of community, regularity and hope.

    The post Portrait of a city 10 years after Hurricane Katrina appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Photo by Flickr user othermore (other).

    Photo by Flickr user othermore (other).


    It was a wild day on Wall Street today, as global stock prices plunged. In America, the close marked the end of the worst week in the market in four years.

    The panic was caused by a Chinese stock crash, with oil trading below $40 a barrel at one point. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 530 points to close at 16,459.75, bringing the decline for the day to 3.1 percent. The Nasdaq fell 171.45 points, or 3.5 percent, to 4,706.04, and the Standard & Poor’s index dropped 64.84 points, or 3.2 percent, to 1,970.89. The Dow Jones plunge is the ninth-biggest decline in its history, NBC News reported.

    Last week, China devalued its currency, the yuan, which has worried investors about an economic slowdown in the country.

    Watch tonight’s PBS NewsHour for more.

    The post Dow drops more than 500 points, rocks Wall Street appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 7.11.37 PM

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Donald Trump is holding on to his lead in the GOP presidential field. How are the other candidates adjusting? The Clinton e-mail saga shows no signs of letting up. And former President Jimmy Carter and his very public battle with cancer.

    That brings us to the analysis of Shields and Gerson. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson. David Brooks is away.

    Welcome to you both.

    MICHAEL GERSON: Thank you.

    MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So let’s talk about Donald Trump. As we said, he’s holding up in the polls.

    Mark, now that we’re a couple of months into this, do we know more about who Donald Trump is as a candidate, about what he really believes? Do we understand better what’s going on here?

    MARK SHIELDS: I’m not sure, Judy, to be very frank about it, how much we know about him.

    We know what he’s publicly emphasizing. I mean, there’s a strong sort of Howard Beale cast to his — Howard Beale being the anchor in “Network,” the movie, played by Peter Finch, who coined the phrase “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” — there is a lot of that to him.

    And he is to an electorate, particularly a Republican electorate, but electorate in general, that by a 2-1 country think the country is headed in the wrong direction, thinks their children’s future is not going to be as bright as their own, and many in the base who are concerned about the changes in the country, and its racial composition and its social mores, the acceptance of same-sex marriage.

    There is a dissatisfaction, an anger, an unexpressed anger. And I think Donald Trump has — is addressing that. And he does it in a flamboyant, sort of unbossed, unbought way that is beholden to nobody, seemingly, no interest groups, except his own interests.

    So I’m not sure. There is a lot of sense — the perception is there, but I’m not sure there’s a core.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you feel, Michael, we have got a better handle on what he’s trying to say?

    MICHAEL GERSON: Well, what we have seen is his first policy initiative. He set out an immigration policy. It was thin, six pages. It was not very detailed, but it included changes to the protections of the 14th Amendment on birthright citizenship and mass deportations.

    So this is a person, Trump, who, three years ago, which is not very long ago, criticized Mitt Romney’s self-deportation plan as maniacal and mean-spirited. And now we’re going to from self-deportation to forced mass deportation.

    This is crossing a lot of lines in the Republican Party. I think it’s quite serious and I think it could damage the Republican Party for decades to come to be associated with this approach.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Does he explain how he’s made that turn?

    MICHAEL GERSON: I don’t think he — there’s no explanation.

    Whenever he’s caught in changes, he just doubles down. And his support seems to stay, you know, the same. But he is, in a moment where there is a lot of partisan anger, there’s a lot of candidates, 18 or so Republican candidates, so he’s in a field where he can stand out.

    And — but — and he probably has a ceiling of support. I don’t think he’s going to get the Republican nomination, but he’s at 20 percent in the polls and driving the debate on immigration in very dangerous ways.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Mark, he’s taking some — I mean, he’s making these statements that get a lot of attention.

    As Michael said, he came out this week with his position on immigration. What effect does is that having on these other candidates in the Republican side, the other 16 of them?

    MARK SHIELDS: When the central issue in the campaign is set by the front-runner, then — and that is perceived as contributing to that front-runner being the front-runner, whether it’s anti-busing with George Wallace, whether it was opposition to the Iraq War with Barack Obama in 2008, there’s a natural gravitational pull on the rest to say, I have got to close the gap between them, a little me-too-ism, a certain aping of the front-runner.

    I think we have seen that this week, certainly, conspicuously in the case of Scott Walker, who sort of — the governor of Wisconsin, who seems to be shadowing Trump’s philosophical movement.

    At the same time, Judy, let’s be very blunt about this. There’s a mean-spiritedness in the electorate he’s appealing to. I mean, when the CNN poll asks, which of all the candidates do you agree with on immigration, by a 4-1 margin, Republican primary voters say Donald Trump.

    Donald Trump, whatever else he is, his — his position is anti-immigrant overall. It is devastating — Michael is absolutely right — it is devastating to the Republican Party in the long run, because Asian voters, the fastest growing minority in the country, who supported George H.W. Bush when he lost badly in ’92, voted even more Democratic than Latinos…

    MICHAEL GERSON: Forty-seven percent of Asians voted against…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But hurting them in the long run, but in the short run, it’s helping him with the primary, with the Republican primary voters, right?

    MICHAEL GERSON: Well, there are members, I completely agree, who want to be pale versions of Trump, which I think is hurting them and hurting the party.

    Walker has been everywhere on all sides of the birthright citizenship issue and really shown, I think, that he’s not playing in the big leagues, he’s not prepared, he’s not thoughtful in these areas.

    But you do have Rubio and Bush, who, eventually, one of them, I believe, will emerge as the anti-Trump, make a very strong argument on the other side, and as candidates, as other…

    JUDY WOODRUFF: On this birthright question, on immigration.

    MICHAEL GERSON: On immigration as a whole and his whole approach to politics.

    And it’s going to be very important. I mean, what Trump is appealing to has more of a feel of European right-wing politics, OK, UKIP or the National Front, highly nationalistic, resentment of foreigners, we have been betrayed by our leaders.

    There is some deep and disturbing things that are being appealed to here. And that’s the role of leadership. There’s always populist trends. Good leaders take those trends and direct them in ways that serve the public good. Bad leaders feed those trends to serve themselves, and that’s exactly what Trump is doing.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you get a…

    MARK SHIELDS: I’d just point out, Judy, 25 percent in a 17-candidate field is very impressive. Twenty-five percent in a three-way race, you’re a loser.

    I agree with Michael that both Rubio and Jeb Bush, each is waiting for the other to go first in attacking Trump, because they want to be the remainder man against Donald Trump, because they don’t think Donald Trump in the final analysis is a majority candidate.

    What they risk is, what Trump is doing and saying becomes so odious and offensive that it almost will be seen as a moral surrender on your part, ultimately, in the general election that you didn’t stand up to him. And I think that’s a real risk that anybody runs by not confronting him at this point.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I want to turn us to the other party, to Hillary Clinton, Michael. The e-mail controversy, there was more evidence this week that there are real investigations going on, questions about whether these e-mails, either they were marked — if they weren’t marked confidential to begin with, they should have been marked confidential.

    The question, she’s taking this on, she had a news conference, she’s talking to reporters about it. Do you think — do you see any sign that she’s getting ahead of this issue? Is she overwhelmed by it? What do you see?

    MICHAEL GERSON: No, these events are undermining her main argument, that this is somehow a political attack. Now you have the federal judge questioning her conduct this week. You have the FBI. You have the inspector general of the intelligence community.

    This is not a partisan deal. This is going to be determined by real investigations. So I think that’s — and you can see the trouble she’s in from the defenses she’s made. There’s now been three of them. The first one is, there were no classified documents. She said that, right?

    Then she said, there was nothing classified at the time. That turned out to be untrue. And now she said she didn’t send marked documents, OK? When you take — you find — when you get top-secret clearance and you commit to protecting this material, that’s not the standard. You’re responsible for negligence. You’re responsible for mishandling of material.

    It’s not just the standard she said. And so she’s lost control of events. She tried to control things so close by saying, I want to control my own information, I want to be able to destroy it. She controlled it in such a way that it attracted attention and is now beyond her control.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see it?

    MARK SHIELDS: Judy, The New York Times broke the story six months ago about her private server. And, quite bluntly, we have gone from a time when the investigation appeared to be motivated by the Republicans on the Hill, with the Benghazi story and all the rest of it.

    Now we have a federal judge appointed by Bill Clinton who’s directed the FBI, and this is going to be around for months, and it’s no longer just a partisan witch-hunt. It’s an official investigation, with all the implications that that involves. It’s going to be — it’s going to color and influence her campaign from here on in.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you think she’s handling it?

    MARK SHIELDS: I don’t think — I think that, at the outset — you just should have turned, I guess, everything over right at the outset and say that I have nothing to hide, including my e-mails about Chelsea’s wedding. I mean, I don’t know what else — you know, or how pleased or displeased I am with the gender of my grandchild when it’s announced.

    But, you know, quite bluntly, it’s a — there’s no upside on this for her politically.

    MICHAEL GERSON: And she’s had a really terrible launch to her candidacy. There’s been a series of questions, a series of things that she’s been defensive on.

    And there are now Democrats thinking in the back of their mind, do we need a plan B? I think that’s very real. This has gone from a very small chance of implosion to maybe a larger chance, where Democrats are saying that Sanders can’t carry the ball into the election, and there may need to be someone else.

    There is no one obvious, to be honest. But I think those questions have now been raised in a serious way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There was a report today, Mark, that — and Michael — that Vice President Biden is asking some technical questions about mounting a campaign, but we will see. I mean, I think he’s indicated he will make a decision.

    MARK SHIELDS: Joe Biden, like every other presidential candidate, still dreams about being elected president. I mean, it doesn’t go away. It is a lifelong affliction or inspiration.

    (LAUGHTER)

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we saw this week someone who was president decades ago, former President Jimmy Carter, I think, very gracefully handled the bad news, the bad medical health news he got in terms of a diagnosis of cancer, melanoma that has spread to his brain.

    Mark, this is somebody who’s been — he’s been out of the White House for 35, 40 years. And yet — I mean, what do you make of this? It was quite a remarkable performance, that news conference yesterday.

    (CROSSTALK)

    MARK SHIELDS: It was, in fact, Judy.

    We’re in an era — I think Michael would agree — totally, aggressively secular, where church membership is in decline. And yet, in the last couple of months, we have seen two examples of the value, the social value, as well as the individual value, of religious faith.

    We saw it at the AME Church, the families, survivors of those victims forgiving the killer who was racially motivated. And we see it in Jimmy Carter, who has devoted his post-presidency to improving the cause of those less fortunate, but showed such grace and courage and humor and faith in the face of this just daunting and dooming news.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: As somebody who covered the Carter White House a long time ago, Michael, I was struck by the humor — as Mark says, the humor.

    He said he’d gotten calls from former President — both Presidents Bush and President Obama and Secretary — he said, “Of course, I hadn’t heard from them in a long time.”

    MICHAEL GERSON: Right, yes.

    Well, we often get examples of how to live, live healthy, how to live successfully. There’s a lot of emphasis on this. But we don’t really get examples of how we approach death. This is a really good example.

    Now, he — it’s not imminent in his case. He’s seeking treatment. He wants to live longer and may well live longer. But there is a calmness, there is a grace, and there is a courage about what he said that’s an example of how you deal with the end.

    And he also dealt with it with gratitude, talking about how grateful he was for his life. That’s a real model for all of us.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: It is. And we saw that the medicine he’s getting is something that’s only been available for the last year or so.

    We certainly wish him well.

    Mark Shields, Michael Gerson, great to see you both. Thank you.

    MARK SHIELDS: Thank you.

    MICHAEL GERSON: Good to see you.

    The post Shields and Gerson on Trump’s immigration politics, Carter’s cancer news appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    college

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, we wrap up our week-long series, Rethinking College: Closing the Graduation Gap, by visiting with a university president who says the nation’s public research universities are failing to meet the needs of low-income students.

    Hari Sreenivasan reports.

    MICHAEL CROW, President, Arizona State University: We doubled our number of graduates, we went from 9,000 graduates to 20,000 graduates.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: In the rarefied world of higher education, where exclusive schools cater to only the very best students, Michael Crow is blazing a new path. He’s an anti-elitist.

    MICHAEL CROW: So, it goes back to our admission standards. If you have better than a B average overall, then you’re admitted.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: As the president of Arizona State University, Crow has dramatically increased the student population to 84,000 students, making it the largest university in America.

    Under Crow, the number of low-income students has soared, enrollment of blacks and Latinos has doubled, and ASU has accomplished this despite the largest funding cuts from any state legislature in the country.

    MICHAEL CROW: The specific freshman year experience…

    HARI SREENIVASAN: President Crow’s mantra is this: A public university should be judged by not who it turns down, but who it admits.

    MICHAEL CROW: Public research universities have become increasingly exclusive and increasingly expensive. They began believing that they needed to emulate the private universities or replicate them.

    And so we’re saying it’s time to innovate, it’s time to develop a new kind of American university.

    It’s all about attitude.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: As ASU, that means breaking down traditional academic departments. The school has slashed millions of dollars in administrative costs by merging academic departments and eliminating support staff, cuts that help fund low-income students and encourage cross-disciplinary learning.

    MICHAEL CROW: We have 15 or 16 new transdisciplinary schools, a School of Earth and Space Exploration, the country’s first School of Sustainability, a School of Social Transformation. We have a School of Transborder Studies.

    We have a new range of new ways that we’re approaching problems. We have built this building again to break down disciplines. We blow up departments. So, this building is called Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building Number Four.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: You’re getting the pictures from Mars and these students are taking a look at it working with NASA’s JPL.

    MAN: Absolutely. Kristen is working out some lunar data sets.

    MAN: We have the Lunar Orbiter, which is managed here.

    MICHAEL CROW: And then also in here are people doing robots and drones and new ways of looking at things. And they’re all mixed up. We don’t have, like this is chemical engineering and this is chemistry. We don’t care about any of that.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What Crow says he does care about is making the university accessible to low-income families.

    By expanding the student population from 55,000 to 84,000, the university is able to use money from full-paying students to recruit more who need financial aid.

    How did you increase access, especially to low-income communities?

    MICHAEL CROW: Talent is not a function of your parents’ income. Talent is a function of your ability, your drive as an individual. We have gone out and found that talent wherever it is. We have built tools. We have a new tool that we’re just about to launch called me3.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Crow hopes the me3 tool will entice high school students from poor communities by giving them a virtual career identity.

    FREDERICK COREY, Arizona State University: So, this is the me3 tool. For each major, we have a description of exactly what’s involved in the major in terms of career outlook, job outlook.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Frederick Corey, who oversees the student adviser program, says online technologies can get students in the door and keep them there.

    FREDERICK COREY: Course withdrawal is one of the biggest expenses we can face. Every day, we’re looking at this. If I’m doing a big sweeping look, I can see what percentage of students in each college are off-track.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Student records are used to predict success.

    FREDERICK COREY: You have to take the courses that are diagnostic of success. If you go off-track twice, you have to pick a new major.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: That’s exactly what happened to freshman Robert Hammerschmidt, who ultimately switched major from actuarial science to computer engineering after receiving several online alerts.

    ROBERT HAMMERSCHMIDT, Student, Arizona State University: I actually did get multiple e-mails. They did make it clear that this might not be exactly right for you, because this is a critical course. I admit I was a little bit sad at first.

    FREDERICK COREY: Sometimes, it’s a process of grieving. You come to terms with the fact that now I need to give up that identity and work with somebody as I shape a new identity.

    MICHAEL CROW: And so these are the lab floors. And we need to do a lot more to empower those individuals to be more successful. We need to do a lot more to embrace this notion of how technology can be our friend. We’re trying to find a way in which their learning experience can be enhanced sufficiently by technology that it can be empowered, faster, deeper, better, broader.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: But the push for technology-enhanced teaching and a larger student body has led some to question the quality of learning at ASU.

    KEITH LAW, Professor, Merced College: I don’t think that this is a model for a new American university, for those American universities that still like to maintain their prestige.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Keith Law is a professor of Merced College in California. He says ASU’s quick expansion and particularly their massive online curriculum could damage the university’s status.

    KEITH LAW: I think Arizona State University is risking slipping into becoming a diploma mill that grants graduation and grants diplomas to students without really guaranteeing them an excellent education. And I think that’s going to erode the value of their degrees down the road.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Despite critic, Crow sees innovation and online technologies as reshaping the entire university system.

    KEITH LAW: Technology allows both faculty and students to move through courses at a higher rapidity, move through them as you have mastered them.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: What would that mean for technologies?

    MICHAEL CROW: When they say, well, here’s a basic concept in psychology, that’s — you might be an engineering major and you’re not going to take the full psychology course, but you may want that concept in psychology, .25 credits, that kind of thing.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: ASU’s new model is likely to be watched closely, as America’s colleges face growing enrollment from less traditional students.

    In Phoenix, I’m Hari Sreenivasan for the PBS NewsHour.

    The post Opening the doors to more low-income students reshapes a university appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    irannuclear

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, President Obama won a significant endorsement today for the Iran nuclear agreement, as Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York announced his support. Nadler’s decision followed a personal appeal from the president, who sent him a letter pledging that the U.S. would continue economic pressure on Iran and keep military options open.

    Tonight, we continue our series of conversations on the agreement as part of our Deal or No Deal series.

    Earlier this week, we heard from an Israeli scientist who was opposed to the deal.

    This evening, we hear from the former head of Israel’s intelligence and special operations agency, the Mossad, Efraim Halevy, who is breaking with his country’s government and public opinion to support the agreement.

    Mr. Halevy, thank you very much for being with us.

    Given that you disagree with your government, why do you? What do you see in this agreement that makes you support it?

    EFRAIM HALEVY, Former Director, Mossad: I believe this agreement closes the roads and blocks the road to Iranian nuclear military capabilities for at least a decade.

    And I believe that the arrangements that have been agreed between the parties are such that give us a credible answer to the Iranian military threat, at least for a decade, if not longer.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You have said that this agreement is historic from the Iranian point of view. What did you mean by that?

    EFRAIM HALEVY: Up to a couple of years ago, the Iranians refused to discuss their nuclear programs on the basis of a negotiation, international negotiations. They said that this was their sovereign right to do whatever they wished.

    They have caved in. They have entered into a detailed discussion of their capabilities. They have agreed to an agreement which lists their various facilities in Iran. They have agreed to knocking out the first and foremost important element in it, their location in Arak, which is a plutogenic-producing facility in potential.

    The core of this particular aspect is going to be destroyed. And that means that there will be no capability of the Iranians to ultimately weaponize whatever they are doing for the purposes of attacking anybody around the world for the next decade. If only for that element alone, I would say this is an agreement worthwhile accepting.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You said just a moment ago that you believe this closes the road or the route to Iran’s military capabilities for at least a decade. Why are you so confident of that? As you know, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, says just the opposite.

    EFRAIM HALEVY: Well, I have looked at the details of the agreement.

    As I said, on the issue of Arak, the plutogenic program, it’s clear the core of the reactor is going to be destroyed. As far as Fordow, where they have had a lot of centrifuges up until now, Fordow will be restricted only to scientific research.

    When it comes to Natanz, there is going to be a clearer way of monitoring what is going on there. And the facilities there which would allow — the produce of Natanz to be passed on, the piping and all the other elements necessary to pass on whatever it is they produce in order to process it into something of a military nature, is also going to be removed.

    So, I believe that, in all three counts, it’s clear, in my view, that the capabilities of the Iranians to go ahead with their original ideas has been stopped by this agreement.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: There is a story that’s gotten a lot of attention in the United States this week, and I’m sure in Israel as well, the Associated Press reporting that Iran will be able to use its own inspectors. They have a side deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency, where Iranian inspectors will be in charge of looking at the military site, the so-called Parchin site.

    The argument is that this is a big loophole in the agreement. How do you see it?

    EFRAIM HALEVY: This is an agreement which is a secret agreement reached between the director general of the IAEA, which is the United Nations body charged for years with supervising the implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    The director of this agency, Yukiya Amano, is not only a veteran in this field of disarmament. He’s been highly regarded, and he has impeccable credentials.

    Up to now, Israel has respected Yukiya Amano, respected his judgments. And I think we should wait and see how the ultimate process of the negotiations he is now conducting with the Iranians and the outcome of these negotiations at the end of this year, how he will be satisfied with the arrangements that he’s setting up in order to monitor these activities.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Efraim Halevy, you have also said very clearly that you expect Iran to try to cheat on this agreement. Why should that be acceptable to the rest of the world?

    EFRAIM HALEVY: It is not acceptable to the rest of the world. That is exactly the whole point of the agreement.

    Whereas, when the United States negotiated with the Soviet Union, the code word which was used by President Reagan and Secretary Shultz was trust and verify, this time, it is mistrust and verify. There is going to be a verification system in place which is second to none and has no precedent.

    And I believe that if the Iranians are going to try and cheat, there will be ways and means of finding this out. I think that the machinery which is going to be put in place, which, by the way, will be supported fully by the United States, without which this could not actually be implemented, will not be in place if the agreement is scuttled by Congress.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, Mr. Halevy, how difficult is it for you to support this agreement, when your prime minister, when the majority of Israeli public opinion, we’re told, opposes it?

    EFRAIM HALEVY: First of all, there has been no real public debate in Israel on this.

    The Knesset, which is the equivalent, if I may say so, of Congress, has not even discussed it once. I think there is an attempt here to stifle public discussion.

    I’m not alone in this view. There are others who are thinking likewise as I am. One of them is General Uzi Eilam, the former head of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, a highly regarded general, the man who led his battalion and stormed the Old City in 1967. And there are others, like Professor Binya Sayel, who was head of R&D of the Israeli defense establishment for many years, an air force general.

    In the Yom Kippur War, the vast majority of public opinion and official opinion said there would be no war. Very few people stood up and said the opposite. Let’s not have another Yom Kippur in reverse.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Efraim Halevy, the former chief of the Mossad, joining us from Israel, We thank you tonight.

    EFRAIM HALEVY: Good evening.

    Editor’s Note: Arak was mistakenly transcribed as Iraq. We regret the error.

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    A photo illustration shows the Ashley Madison website displayed on a smartphone in Toronto, August 20, 2015. Love lives and reputations may be at risk after the release of customer data from infidelity website Ashley Madison, an unprecedented breach of privacy likely to rattle users' attitudes towards the Internet. Hackers dumped a big cache of data containing millions of email addresses for U.S. government officials, UK civil servants and high-level executives at European and North America corporations late on Tuesday, the latest cyber attack to raise concerns about Internet security and data protection.   REUTERS/Mark Blinch  - RTX1OZ5D

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Internet hackers dumped troves of personal information this week stolen from an adultery Web site, raising new questions about online privacy and the ability of Web sites to protect it.

    Hari Sreenivasan has our look.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: The hackers said the attack on Ashley Madison was motivated by the failure of its parent company to deliver on a service that promised to erase users’ information for a fee. Millions of names, e-mail addresses and partial credit card numbers were released, a public outing that has raised questions about how much privacy any of us enjoy online.

    Joining me to discuss this are Neil Richards, a professor of law at Washington University in Saint Louis, where he studies privacy and the Internet. His recent book is “Intellectual Privacy: Rethinking Civil Liberties in the Digital Age.” And Julia Angwin, who covers privacy for ProPublica, her most recent book is called “Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance.”

    All right, so, Neil, I want to start with you first.

    We have had the Sony Pictures hack, where thousands of employees of a corporation had their communication and their information released. We have had the Office of Personnel Management hacked, 22 million employees of the federal government, right?

    We have also had celebrity hacks before, where unsuspecting celebrities had their photos from iPhones or iClouds released. What makes this different?

    NEIL RICHARDS, Washington University: Well, it’s certainly different because it’s more salacious. Right? It involves sex and betrayal.

    I think the magnitude of the hack and the sensitivity of the information that is being exposed. I think it’s important that we think about these questions, because this is a little more juicy in terms of — maybe like tabloid news, than some of the other hacks, but it’s important to draw attention to what is an increasingly enormous problem.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Julia, I want to ask. There is this notion that your information, especially on a sensitive site like this, sits in a lockbox. And to credit this site, this digital set of locks that they had was actually better than average.

    But is there such a thing as true security? As soon as you type something, is it out there forever?

    JULIA ANGWIN, ProPublica: Sadly, what we’re learning is that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of true security out there in the real world.

    There might well be some theoretically really secure stuff. But we have seen OPM hacked, which is the government, very sensitive files. To be — you could consider what Snowden did at the NSA to be something akin — taking files that should have been secured.

    So, it seems as though nothing is impenetrable. But it doesn’t have to be that way, I think. I mean, there is another world you can imagine where the data would be secure, and we have to build that, I think.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Julia, staying with you for a second, is this the reason that some of these ephemeral platforms, like Snapchat, where you’re writing with the equivalent of digital disappearing ink, or Periscope, where your live-stream disappears in 24 hours, is that the reason that people are going on to this, because they think that they don’t want to leave a digital trail? And I guess the follow-up is, is it truly temporary?

    JULIA ANGWIN: Right.

    Well, I think you’re right that the reason people are going to ephemeral is exactly this. Right? You don’t want to have a permanent record of everything that you do in life. And in the world we live in with digital data has led to that kind of world, where there is kind of a permanent record for everything.

    The problem with the ephemeral services is that some of them have proved to not to be that ephemeral. So, the Snapchat, for instance, just settled with the FTC because their data wasn’t as ephemeral as they had promised it to be, so I think we’re still awaiting the true promise of ephemeral data.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Neil, there’s this transparency camp out there that says, you know what, if you weren’t planning on having an affair, you have got nothing to hide. There seems to be a distinction between privacy and secrecy. Privacy, to me, implies a level of control, almost a freedom that I have to choose whom to share this information with.

    NEIL RICHARDS: Yes, I think it makes for a good sound bite, but it doesn’t make for very good policy to say that we should just make everything transparent and people with nothing to hide have nothing to fear.

    We all wear clothes, we all lock our houses, we all like passwords on our accounts. And I think the issue here is not one of whether some people who cheated on their marriages got their comeuppance. I think it’s a much more important question, which is, are we going to be able to trust the information relationship which increasingly characterize our lives?

    And, yes, dating sites are among them, but more important then are things like social network sites, and search engines, and data brokers, and our credit card companies and our retirement accounts. All of these are information relationships. They’re all safeguarded by some levels of security.

    And I think the Ashley Madison story is a salacious one, but it’s an important reminder we need to do a better job safeguarding our sensitive data as a society. And that means we need better technical practices, we need better laws, better incentives for companies to do this.

    We have a lot to do. And I think this is — and it’s important that we’re focusing on this, because ultimately what’s at stake is whether we can continue to trust our digital society.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Neil, is the notion of privacy an antiquated idea or perhaps is it different from generation to generation?

    NEIL RICHARDS: Well, people have been bemoaning the death of privacy in American life for about 130 years, since the late 19th century.

    Privacy is about what kind of information we have control over, about how we get embarrassed, what information restrictions can do for us. Privacy depends upon social norms. It’s always changing. But in an information society — and that’s what we’re living in — if we have no privacy, if we have no privacy rules, if we have no information rules, which means we have no rules.

    And so rules governing passwords, personal data, search engines, consumer credit reports, they are essential. And I think we are struggling — as in other areas of the Internet, we are struggling and stumbling into the future half-blind, because we have never built this before. But it’s important. As Julia said, we can do a better job than we’re doing and we need to build it right.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Julia, one of the things you looked at in your book or for your book was trying to find all the information about you that exists.

    And obviously there’s public records out there. We can try to guess what’s available, but what surprised you?

    JULIA ANGWIN: So, I went and tried to find as much as I could about myself.

    And I wasn’t that successful. It’s worth pointing out that there are not good laws accessing you access to your data. But of the data that I found, I found the obvious things, the property records, the car ownership. But what surprised me was the fact that they knew I bought underwear online the last week, and that that was a file that is sold to marketers.

    I also found, by the way, the government, through some confusing slip-up with my employer, had access to my travel plans as a reporter and who I was planning to see. Because of the way we used our system, the database was being sent in entirety of my future travel plans to a government database. So there was actually really surprising and disturbing stuff in there.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: So, Julia, you took some elaborate measures that most of us can’t take. You have essentially got an alternate identity, credit cards, et cetera, et cetera.

    But let’s say we’re not going to go that far. Are there safe information-sharing practices, things that we can do on a daily basis to safeguard against this?

    JULIA ANGWIN: I mean, I wish I could give you a better set of guidelines, but it’s — the fact is that it’s really hard to avoid these kinds of things.

    However, that said, some basic precautions are better passwords, really long passwords, so as long as you can make it, 30 to 40 characters. And, actually, you know, I — you talk about fake identities like it’s a crazy thing, but it makes sense to have a couple of different e-mail addresses maybe not with your right name for which you register for sites like Ashley Madison, for instance.

    HARI SREENIVASAN: Sure.

    All right, Julia Angwin, Neil Richards, thank you both for your time.

    JULIA ANGWIN: Thank you.

    NEIL RICHARDS: Thank you.

    The post Is the trail of secrets we leave online ever safe? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Capt. Kristen Griest of Orange, Connecticut (L) and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver of Copperas Cove, Texas wave to family and friends as they wait to receive their ranger tabs at Ranger school graduation at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia August 21, 2015. The two pioneering women made history on Friday as they became the first females to graduate from the Army's elite and grueling 62-day Ranger school, at Fort Benning, Georgia. Though Haver and Griest are still not eligible to take part in front-line combat, according to reports, a decision on whether to change that policy could come in the fall. REUTERS/Tami Chappell        TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1P49L

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the most storied institutions in the U.S. military marked a milestone today. For the first time, two women graduated from the Army’s elite Ranger School. It’s a step toward increasing women’s role in war fighting.

    Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner has our story.

    MAN: Rangers, welcome to the club.

    MARGARET WARNER: It was an Army Ranger graduation unlike any other: two women joining 94 men.

    Major General Scott Miller hailed the survivors of the grueling nine-week course at Fort Benning, Georgia.

    MAJ. GEN. SCOTT MILLER, U.S. Army: It is all of you who know the challenge of persevering through privation, where most humans would just quit. You’re leaving Victory Pond here today with a small piece of cloth on your shoulders. But, more importantly, you carry the title of Ranger from here on out.

    MARGARET WARNER: This was the first year the Army has allowed women to try to qualify or the elite Ranger force. Nineteen began the course, along with about 345 men.

    The two women who ultimately qualified for the black and gold Ranger tab, Captain Kristen Griest, a 26-year-old military police officer, who spoke about the challenges yesterday.

    CAPT. KRISTEN GRIEST, Ranger School Graduate: Knowing that you have to uphold that legacy every day, you can’t really have an off day. You can’t be tired. You need to go the extra mile.

    MARGARET WARNER: And 25-year-old 1st Lieutenant Shaye Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot.

    1ST LT. SHAYE HAVER, Ranger School Graduate: At each event that we succeeded in, we kind of were winning hearts and minds as we went.

    MARGARET WARNER: At yesterday’s briefing, they described the exhausting physical and mental trials of the course.

    1ST LT. SHAYE HAVER: The mental side of the issue is you come is going to be the most challenging thing you will ever face. And exceeding that, my advice is to, once you get to that point, keep going and to realize that your mind can take a whole lot more than your body can.

    CAPT. KRISTEN GRIEST: When your squad gets 2,000 rounds of ammo or you realize that you are the weapons squad and you have got two machine guns to carry, I mean, you look around and there’s only 10 of you or so, and everybody, all of a sudden, the men really don’t care at all that you are female. You’re carrying some of that. And you feel the exact same way. You are going to help share the load as much as anybody.

    MARGARET WARNER: Some of their male counterparts acknowledged they had their doubts about the women at the outset.

    2ND LT. MICHAEL JANOWSKI, Ranger School Graduate: I was skeptical if they could handle it physically. Then we got to mountains, and there was one night we were doing a long walk. I was the 320 gunner, so I had a lot of weight on me. And I was struggling.

    And then I stopped and I asked at a halfway point, hey, can anyone help take some of this weight? I got a lot of deer-in-the-headlight looks and a lot of people were like, I can’t take any more weight. Shaye was the only one to volunteer to take that weight. She took that weight off of me. She carried it the last half of that ruck, literally saved me. I probably wouldn’t be sitting here right now if it wasn’t for Shaye.

    MARGARET WARNER: For all the praise, Captain Griest and Lieutenant Haver are not eligible to actually join the Ranger regiment. That still remains closed to women. They will most likely be assigned support roles instead.

    But that could change in the next few months, as the Pentagon finishes reviewing its policy on integrating women into combat units.

    Defense Secretary Ashton Carter indicated his openness to that yesterday at the Pentagon.

    ASHTON CARTER, Secretary of Defense: The department’s policy is that all ground combat positions will be open to women, unless rigorous analysis of factual data shows that the positions must remain closed.

    On October 1, the services will provide a report to the chairman requesting any exception to this policy. And I will review the services’ recommendation and make a final determination on that issue by the end of this year.

    MARGARET WARNER: Even if women eventually do gain access to most combat roles, the Pentagon may allow service leaders to request exemptions.

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    Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange August 20, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid  - RTX1OY64

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s take a closer look now at Wall Street’s wild day, bringing to a close a long week of jitters.

    For some answers to what’s behind it all, we turn to Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab.

    Liz Ann, welcome back to the program.

    So, this is — I’m reading, this is the worst week since 2011. What is going on?

    LIZ ANN SONDERS, Charles Schwab: So, what may on the surface seem like a bunch of disparate things, they’re actually very interrelated.

    You have got very weak growth in China, some data that came out today showing that part of their economy in contraction. We have got the plunge in commodity prices, including oil prices, which ties back to the weakness in China, so just global growth concerns, deflation concerns. And deflation is a fairly toxic environment because, whether you’re a consumer or investor, if prices are continuing to go down, it halts activity.

    And then this has all brought up uncertainty regarding Fed policy and how Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve is going to react to this global turmoil. And we were, frankly, overdue for a correction. It’s been almost four years. They normally happen every year. So this has been a long span of very, very mild equity performance.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, when you say overdue for a correction, I did read one columnist in The New York Times today who said this is actually — as bad as it seems, he said it’s a much-needed breather, when some markets had been starting to look a little bubbly. That was Neil Irwin.

    LIZ ANN SONDERS: Oh, I agree with that.

    I think that corrections are healthy. They bring sentiment. It keeps complacency from becoming pervasive. So I think corrections are healthy. They are a cleansing process. Now, whether we’re at the end of this month, I’m not so sure. We’re not even quite there yet for the S&P 500, although the Dow is in correction territory, which is down 10 percent or more.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: You mentioned China. What role — how are China’s problems with its economy affecting these markets?

    LIZ ANN SONDERS: Well, again, they have been huge commodity producers.

    They caused a huge amount of supply increases for commodities, which set the stage for the plunge that we’re seeing in commodities. So that’s a big part of it. They are the world’s second largest economy right now. Now, if you take Europe as a zone, the Eurozone is the second largest to the U.S. But, by country, it’s China.

    So, they are a big producer of things. They are big consumer of things. They have an export market. We and other countries export to them. So, a big slowdown, bigger-than-expected slowdown in China absolutely affects global growth and in turn to some degree affects our growth.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And just quickly, what about oil, down below $40 a barrel at one point today? What role is that playing?

    LIZ ANN SONDERS: Well, for the U.S. economy, which is 68 percent driven by the consumer, it’s ultimately a good thing. We are oil consumers.

    The problem is that the hit it causes to the energy sector in particular tends to come immediate. And the benefit, the offsetting benefit to consumers tends to come later. So we’re dealing with the immediate hit before we get the offsetting benefit.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Liz Ann, for someone watching this who is thinking, oh, my goodness, what about my retirement account, worried — a 500-point-plus drop seems pretty dramatic. How concerned should people be? Do they just take a deep breath and wait and see what happens next week?

    LIZ ANN SONDERS: It’s almost always a good idea to take a deep breath. Panic is not an investing strategy.

    And most investors who have acted with panic have probably not served themselves very well. I don’t know whether this is the end of this. Again, a 10 percent correction is fairly normal. They happen every year. I think we will ultimately get through this. I wouldn’t make any rash decisions based on just what we saw today. And 500 points isn’t what it used to be. You have to look at things in percentage terms.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: And, again, we’re talking about the financial markets. What would you say right now about the state of the health of the overall American economy?

    LIZ ANN SONDERS: I think the economy is not going to suffer all that much.

    We are a very closed economy, to some degree, because our economy is two-thirds driven by the U.S. consumer, so we tend to be impacted a bit less by things like what we’re seeing overseas right now. However, we’re already in a relatively slow-growth mode. And this certainly isn’t going to help pull us out of that.

    So I think we stay in this slow-growth, below-trend kind of environment. I think the risk of recession is fairly low.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, we thank you. Good to see you again.

    LIZ ANN SONDERS: Thanks, Judy. You, too.

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    JUDY WOODRUFF: A global financial market sell-off overwhelmed Wall Street today. Investors raced for the exits, as Chinese stocks crashed again, and oil traded below $40 a barrel at one point.

    When the closing bell finally sounded, the Dow Jones industrials had plummeted 530 points to close at 16460. The Nasdaq plunged 170 points and the S&P 500 dropped 65. All three indexes were down more than 3 percent on the day. And for the week, the Dow and the S&P lost nearly 6 percent, while the Nasdaq fell almost 7 percent. We will look at what’s driving this big drop in just a few minutes.

    In Iraq, a U.S. airstrike has killed the Islamic State group’s second-in-command. The National Security Council announced today that Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali died on Tuesday north of Mosul. A spokesman called him a primary coordinator for moving large amounts of weapons, explosives, vehicles, and people between Iraq and Syria.

    And the U.S. military says ISIS mortar fragments in Northern Iraq show traces of mustard gas. They were fired at Kurdish fighters this month.

    North Korea went on a war footing today and issued an ultimatum. The North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, demanded that South Korea halt new propaganda broadcasts at the border by tomorrow night, or face a possible attack.

    At a briefing in Pyongyang, a senior North Korean officer declared the South deserves severe punishment.

    KIM YONG CHOL, North Korea Military Officer (through interpreter): Their aim is to bring about the collapse of the ideology and system which our people have chosen themselves and which our soldiers protect with their lives, and to deprive us of our power in all areas of our lives.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: In turn, South Korean troops went to their highest alert status, amid reports of North Korean missiles possibly moving to launch positions. At the same time, U.S. officials confirmed a temporary pause in military exercises with South Korea. The exercises have since resumed.

    In Belgium, a Moroccan man with an automatic weapon opened fire this evening on a high-speed train, wounding three people. They included an American serviceman, who,along with another American, overpowered the gunman. The train was traveling to Paris from Amsterdam. Anti-terror police opened an investigation, but there was no immediate word on a motive.

    Europe’s migrant crisis turned violent today along Macedonia’s border with Greece. Macedonian security forces used force to drive back thousands of migrants trying to head deeper into the continent.

    We have a report from Juliet Bremner of Independent Television News.

    JULIET BREMNER: From one battleground to another, survivors from Syrian’s brutal civil war driven back at the Macedonian border.

    Riot police using tear gas and stun grenades force away hundreds of refugees. Parents try to shield their frightened children. In the chaos, migrants do their best to tend to one another’s wounds. A state of emergency has been declared in the south and the north of the country.

    Around 36,000 arrived in Macedonia last month, heading through Greece to the border town of Gevgelija, traveling by train to Kumanovo, and onwards to Serbia and Western Europe. They don’t want to stay in Macedonia. They are in transit, but now find themselves trapped.

    MAN: There is more than 3,000 or 4,000. They are coming more. So, it’s not believable, but what Macedonia side do, you know? And they know that we are only crossing.

    JULIET BREMNER: But they are now stuck, sleeping without cover in a country that is not prepared for the influx.

    MAN: There are hundreds of vulnerable persons, children, babies, other persons with extreme vulnerabilities, including medical needs. Most of them, if not all of them, stay rough in the open air.

    JULIET BREMNER: Tonight, there are calls for an end to these heavy-handed tactics, and for Greece and Macedonia to instead offer assistance to desperate people.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: More than 160,000 migrants have arrived in Greece so far this year, and nearly all head north.

    President Obama declared an emergency in parts of Washington State today, as overstretched crews battle a plague of wildfires. Fast-moving flames have scorched more than 160,000 acres in the north-central part of the state alone, and two more small towns were evacuated overnight. Officials warned today of worse to come.

    TODD PECHOTA, Incident Commander: I think probably everybody hears wind howling in their microphones, and that is what is truly challenging folks out on the ground. We have got gusts already to 40 miles an hour. We have a tremendous amount of open fire edge on the southern end of all of our fires, and the wind is wanting to move it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Three firefighters died this week in the Washington State fires and one was critically burned. Nationwide, 13 have died this year, more than — four more than all of last year.

    And a U.S. federal appeals court today reinstated rules giving the minimum wage and overtime pay to nearly two million home health workers. A lower court had struck down the provisions earlier this year. Unions and worker advocacy groups welcomed the outcome. Home care companies warned that it makes this kind of care too expensive for many families.

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    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hugs a U.S. flag as he takes the stage for a campaign town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015.  Republican candidates are finding their own messages knocked off-kilter on the campaign trail as they're forced to respond to Trump's controversial ideas. Photo by Brian Snyder

    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hugs a U.S. flag as he takes the stage for a campaign town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015. Photo by Brian Snyder

    WASHINGTON — It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

    Nearly six months out from the first votes of a presidential campaign, candidates should be fleshing out who they are and what they stand for.

    Instead, some of the best-known 2016 candidates are toting heavy baggage that’s proving to be a big distraction from the conversations they’d rather be having with the American people.

    Like it or not, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s still forced to talk about her email. And Jeb Bush is still trying to distinguish himself from his famous brother and father.

    Donald Trump, meanwhile, is stoking flames over immigration policy that are fueling his campaign for now but also risk consuming it. And other Republican candidates are finding their own messages knocked off-kilter as they’re forced to respond to Trump’s ideas.

    The current distractions for Clinton and Bush are inevitable to some extent but also partly their own making.

    For two such well-known candidates, the getting-to-know-you phase of the campaign requires a healthy dose of new ideas, says GOP pollster David Winston.

    Absent something new, “the story line tends to drift to the negative,” says Winston, and that trend is particularly pronounced in a time of general voter dissatisfaction with political discourse and the direction of the country. Neither candidate was able to keep from drifting off course, he says.

    Once news emerged early on that Clinton had used a private email account and server as secretary of state, the not-yet-announced candidate knew she’d have to deal with the consequences. But her campaign miscalculated the staying power of the issue and the various investigations it would spawn.

    Clinton’s low-key campaign launch, in which she did more listening than talking, didn’t do anything to quell the swirling controversy. And her subsequent attempts to change the subject to topics like her economic and education proposals came too late to contain the damage.

    Now, the clearly frustrated candidate is trying everything from humor to fact-checks to put the issue to rest. She’s blaming government bureaucrats, GOP enemies and fixated reporters for what her campaign insists is an overblown emphasis on the matter.

    A somewhat cocky Clinton joked during a speech earlier this month about getting a Snapchat account, saying, “I love it. Those messages disappear all by themselves.”

    Four days later, pressed on the email issue by reporters in Las Vegas, Clinton threw up her arms and declared, “Nobody talks to me about it other than you guys.”

    Dan Schnur, director of the University of Southern California’s political institute, says Clinton seemed to be relying, at least initially, on an old playbook.

    “The lesson that the Clintons learned in the 1990s is that it’s not necessary to immediately make all information available, and if you wait long enough, the tables eventually turn,” Schnur said. “So even if there are a lot of smart people sitting at her campaign table telling her otherwise, human nature is going to influence her to try to duplicate a past success.”

    Bush, for his part, knew from the beginning that he’d need to distinguish himself from his father and brother’s presidencies.

    He had an I-am-my-own-man answer practiced and ready to go.

    Yet he still managed to fumble questions about whether he’d have invaded Iraq as his brother did. And his turns of phrase about “evil-doers” and the burdens of presidential decision-making clearly echo those of his brother George W. Bush, undercutting his efforts to distinguish himself.

    In both Clinton and Bush’s cases, says Schnur, no matter how hard campaigns try to anticipate challenges and be ready for them, “It always sounds better at campaign headquarters than it does out on the trail.”

    “It’s not that hard to sit in a conference room and strategize about how to handle a potential problem,” Schnur said. “The problem is the other candidates and the media and the voters don’t always react to that strategy the way you want them to.”

    While Clinton and Bush keep trying out new tactics to stow their unwanted baggage, Trump shows no inclination to move past the political flashpoint of immigration, even though some of his comments have been criticized by Republicans as well as Democrats.

    Trump seems happy to tap into a subset of voter disquiet, and to force GOP rivals to take a stand on proposals such as his call for a giant wall on the southern border and to deny automatic “birthright citizenship” to anyone born in the U.S.

    For now, that’s helping him “ride a wave having to do with his chutzpah,” says University of Texas political scientist Bruce Buchanan. But ultimately, Buchanan says, it could be a big problem for his candidacy and Republicans overall.

    You can bet the party that vowed to make nice with Hispanics after the GOP’s poor showing with Latino voters in 2012 didn’t aim for its candidates to spend August talking about “anchor babies.”

    For all of the candidates, much of what’s being talked about in August 2015 could well be largely forgotten by the time people cast votes next year.

    But this summertime chatter is sure to contribute to the overall impressions of candidates that voters are developing.

    “It’s shaping the context for how voters make their decisions,” says Winston. “You don’t want the initial thought in everybody’s mind to be, “‘Wow, they have a lot of baggage.'”

     

    The post Presidential contenders struggle to adapt to an unusual race appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    Seven people were killed and more than a dozen were injured after a military jet crashed during an air show on Saturday in West Sussex, United Kingdom.

    Sussex police said 14 people were injured and one person sustained life-threatening injuries when Hawker Hunter plane crashed into several vehicles after the jet came down close to the A27, a main road that runs through England.

    By Saturday evening, the pilot of the plane was said to “fighting for his life,” the BBC reported.

    Amateur video shows the plane was attempting a loop maneuver at the Shoreham Airshow.

    PBS NewsHour will update this story as more details become available.

    The post Seven killed after military jet crashes during UK airshow appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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    French investigating police check for clues on the train platform in Arras, France, August 21, 2015. Three people were wounded in a shooting incident on high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris on Friday, the French Interior Ministry said. A man was arrested when the train stopped at Arras station in northern France but his motives were not yet known, a ministry spokesman said.  REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol - RTX1P4SV

    French investigating police check for clues on the train platform in Arras, France, August 21, 2015. Photo by Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

    Two American servicemen were among the passengers who overpowered an armed attacker on a Thalys high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday, averting what officials said was an attempted terrorist attack.

    The gunman was carrying a Kalashnikov assault rifle and an automatic pistol, as well as ammunition and a box cutter knife.

    Alek Skarlatos, an Oregon National Guardsman, and Spencer Stone, a member of the Air Force, reportedly rushed the gunman and were able to subdue him.

    Skarlatos, 22, told Sky News that as the duo confronted the suspect, Skarlatos grabbed the assault rifle at his feet and “started muzzle thumping him in the head with it,” while Stone held the gunman in a chokehold.

    Stone sustained knife wounds during the struggle and received treatment at a hospital in Lesquin, France. A second unnamed passenger was hit by a bullet and was in serious but stable condition, officials said.

    Off-duty US Air Force Spencer Stone (L), one of the men to overpower the gunman who opened fire with an assault rifle on a high-speed train, gestures as he leaves the hopistal of Lesquin, northern France on August 22, 2015. On August 21, 2015, a gunman opened fire on the train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring two people before being tackled by several passengers including off-duty American servicemen. Spencer Stone was first to the gunman who slashed him in the neck and almost sliced off his thumb with a box-cutter.AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN        (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

    Off-duty US Air Force Spencer Stone (L), one of the men to overpower the gunman who opened fire with an assault rifle on a high-speed train, gestures as he leaves the hopistal of Lesquin, northern France on August 22, 2015. Photo by Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

    Several people helped disarm the assailant, including a friend traveling with Skarlatos and Stone, 23-year-old Anthony Sadler, who told Reuters that he awoke to a frantic scene with “people ducking” as he spotted the gunman entering the train car.

    “We just all ran back there and we tried to do whatever we could to try and beat him up so he didn’t shoot anybody. He pulled out a box cutter and cut Spencer a couple of times but beside that we just tried to do whatever we could,” Sadler said.

    “I came to see my friends on my first trip in Europe and we stopped a terrorist,” he said. “It’s kinda crazy.”

    President Barack Obama called the three friends on Saturday to commend them for their “extraordinary bravery.”

    “The president expressed his gratitude to these three individuals for their heroic actions forestalling an even greater tragedy,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in statement.

    (L-R) Three men who helped to disarm an attacker on a train from Amsterdam to France, Anthony Sadler, from Pittsburg, California, Aleck Sharlatos from Roseburg, Oregon, and Chris Norman, a British man living in France, pose with medals they received for their bravery at a restaurant in Arras, France August 22, 2015. A machine gun-toting attacker wounded three people on a high-speed train in France on Friday before being overpowered by passengers who included an American soldier. The wounded were the soldier, French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, and a Briton. Local media reported that U.S. Marines were among those who brought down the gunman. Officials said the attacker was arrested after the shooting when the Amsterdam to Paris train stopped at Arras station in northern France.  REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol  - RTX1P67M

    Three men who helped to disarm an attacker on a train from Amsterdam to France, Anthony Sadler, from Pittsburg, California, Alek Skarlatos from Roseburg, Oregon, and Chris Norman, a British man living in France, pose with medals they received for their bravery at a restaurant in Arras, France August 22, 2015. Photo by Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

    French Interior Minister Bernard Bazeneuve said at a press conference Saturday that while the suspect’s identity had not been officially confirmed, he is believed to be a Moroccan man flagged by Spanish authorities last year for radical beliefs.

    “If the identity he has declared is confirmed, he is a 26-year-old man of Moroccan nationality identified by the Spanish authorities to French intelligence services in February 2014 because of his connections to the radical Islamist movement,” he said.

    While French officials had identified the man as a security risk, he was not under surveillance, the New York Times reported.

    The suspect was arrested in the city of Arras in northern France on Friday, and was transferred to police headquarters outside of Paris on Saturday.

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    Capt. Kristen Griest of Orange, Connecticut (L) and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver of Copperas Cove, Texas made history on Friday as they became the first females to graduate from the Army's elite and grueling 62-day Ranger school, at Fort Benning, Georgia. The Army's new chief of staff, Gen. Mark Milley is considering if he should recommend to Defense Secretary Ash Carter that some combat roles remain restricted to men only. Photo by Tami Chappell/Reuters

    Capt. Kristen Griest of Orange, Connecticut (L) and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver of Copperas Cove, Texas made history on Friday as they became the first females to graduate from the Army’s elite and grueling 62-day Ranger school, at Fort Benning, Georgia. The Army’s new chief of staff, Gen. Mark Milley is considering if he should recommend to Defense Secretary Ash Carter that some combat roles remain restricted to men only. Photo by Tami Chappell/Reuters

    FORT BENNING, Georgia — The Army’s new chief of staff, Gen. Mark Milley, is taking a calculated approach to arguably the most consequential decision of his early tenure – whether to recommend that any all-male combat roles remain closed to women.

    Central to his thinking, he said in an Associated Press interview Friday, is the question of whether allowing women to serve in the infantry, armor and other traditionally male-only fields would affect Army “readiness” for war.

    “Does it improve it, or does it hurt it?” he is asking as he and leaders of the other military services weigh whether to recommend to Defense Secretary Ash Carter that he keep some positions off-limits to women. Under a January 2013 edict, all remaining all-male positions will be opened to women unless the defense secretary approves exceptions by January 2016. Carter said on Thursday that he expects to see the services’ recommendations by October.

    Milley, who took over as Army chief on Aug. 14 and has seen women in combat during his numerous tours as a commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he is not ready to say which direction he is leaning.

    “Right now I would call myself right on the line,” he said in the interview while flying to Fort Benning to attend an Army Ranger School graduation that included the first women ever to pass the rigorous Ranger training course. After the ceremony he briefly met privately with the two trailblazers, Capt. Kristen Griest, 26, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, 25.

    Milley said that in coming weeks he will weigh a wide range of information, including Army assessments of the experience of Israel and other countries with women in combat, as well as studies by the Marine Corps, data collected during Army experiments and judgments reached by his own experience in war.

    “Whatever decision is made is going to have some pretty far-reaching impact,” he said. “So it’s a big deal, and I want to make sure I’m thinking it through.”

    Women have been steadily moving into previously all-male jobs across the military, including as members of the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, best known as the helicopter crews that flew Navy SEALs into Osama bin Laden’s compound. Women are also now serving on Navy submarines and in some Army artillery jobs.

    Officials familiar with the discussions about possibly ending limits on women serving in combat said they believe the Army will allow women to seek infantry and armor jobs. Milley’s predecessor as chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, has hinted at that conclusion.

    “In order to best manage your talent, you have to pick the best people who can perform to the standards that we have established,” Odierno said earlier this month. “If you can meet the standards that we’ve established, then you should be able to perform in that (position). And I think that’s where we’re headed.”

    Friday’s Ranger School graduation ceremony offered Milley a chance to get further insight into sentiment within the ranks as he nears his decision.

    The pioneer work by Griest and Haver has cast new attention on the obstacles that remain to women who aspire to join all-male combat units, including the 75th Ranger Regiment. Although Haver and Griest are now Ranger-qualified, no women are eligible for the elite regiment, although officials say it is among special operations units likely to be opened to women eventually.

    Griest is a military police officer and has served one tour in Afghanistan. Haver is a pilot of Apache helicopters. Both are graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Of 19 women who began the Ranger course, Haver and Griest are the only two to finish so far; one is repeating a prior phase of training in hopes of graduating soon.

    Addressing the graduates, Maj. Gen. Scott Miller said no one should doubt that all 96 graduates met Ranger standards, regardless of their sex, and he congratulated them on proving their mettle.

    “You’ll leave Victory Pond today with a small piece of cloth on your shoulder, but more importantly you carry the title of Ranger from here on out,” he said. Miller, who gained his Ranger tab 30 years ago this month, is commander of all Army infantry and armor training and education, including the Ranger School.

    The post New Army chief weighing decision on women in combat appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


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