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- 10/16/15--07:28: _Dementia also takes...
- 10/16/15--08:31: _How a single photo ...
- 10/16/15--09:01: _5 Halloween costume...
- 10/16/15--10:45: _House bill suggests...
- 10/16/15--16:57: _Clinton leads money...
- 10/16/15--17:12: _Shields and Brooks ...
- 10/16/15--17:13: _Can a pilot program...
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- 10/16/15--17:22: _In Copenhagen, a U....
- 10/16/15--17:27: _If you can wager on...
- 10/16/15--17:33: _News Wrap: Violence...
- 10/16/15--18:28: _U.S. sending troops...
- 10/17/15--08:10: _Biden team sends ou...
- 10/17/15--09:24: _US military chairma...
- 10/17/15--10:05: _Benghazi investigat...
- 10/17/15--10:18: _After decision to k...
- 10/17/15--10:31: _8 things you didn’t...
- 10/17/15--10:42: _Kentucky Republican...
- 10/17/15--10:54: _Climate change, foo...
- 10/17/15--12:00: _Robots teach themse...
- 10/16/15--07:28: Dementia also takes toll on unpaid caregivers, study shows
- 10/16/15--09:01: 5 Halloween costumes that prove 2015 is a weird year
- 10/16/15--16:57: Clinton leads money hunt in presidential campaign
- 10/16/15--17:13: Can a pilot program keep prisoners from going back to jail?
- 10/16/15--17:22: In Copenhagen, a U.S. ambassador who is also a reality TV star
- 10/16/15--17:27: If you can wager on them, are fantasy sports gambling?
- 10/16/15--17:33: News Wrap: Violence flares in Middle East; Iran violates sanctions
- 10/16/15--18:28: U.S. sending troops to Cameroon to monitor Boko Haram
- 10/17/15--08:10: Biden team sends out new signals of possible 2016 run
- 10/17/15--09:24: US military chairman in Jerusalem for talks as violence spikes
- 10/17/15--10:31: 8 things you didn’t know about hemp
- 10/17/15--10:42: Kentucky Republicans push Rand Paul to focus on Senate re-election
- 10/17/15--10:54: Climate change, food security key to global stability, Kerry says
Unpaid caregivers and family members spend more than 100 hours a month, on average, assisting elderly people with dementia who live in the community and not in residential care or nursing homes, according to a new study. The time commitment was significantly higher than for similar caregivers who helped elderly people without dementia, who themselves put in an average 73 hours each month.
Overall, people with dementia make up 10 percent of noninstitutionalized adults age 65 or older, but they account for more than 40 percent of unpaid caregivers’ time.
“That overall picture of the footprint of caregiving to older adults that is attributable to dementia is the study’s most important message,” says Judith Kasper, the lead author of the study and a professor of health policy and management in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The study, published in the October issue of the journal Health Affairs, analyzed 2011 survey data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study and the National Study of Caregiving. It included 2,423 adults age 65 or older who were not in nursing homes who received help with routine activities, and 1,924 family members or others who provided unpaid help to them.
Of 37 million people over 65 in 2011, 3.6 million had dementia, the study found. Seventy-seven percent of those with dementia received routine help with household tasks or personal care such as bathing and dressing. Only 20 percent of the 33 million people without dementia received similar help.
As people live longer, the number with dementia will increase, further straining caregiving resources. About 1 in 9 people over 65 has Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. By the time they reach age 85, about one-third of people have Alzheimer’s.
Medicare generally covers home health services only if they are related to medical care. It doesn’t cover the routine personal care and other services that people with or without dementia may need on an ongoing basis.
More than 90 percent of the caregiving hours that people put in were for people in a community setting.
However, caregivers who helped someone with dementia in an assisted or independent living facility also put in significant time, 45 hours a month, on average.
Even though they provided fewer hours of care, “it’s interesting that you still found a high percentage of caregivers who were in contact with people when they were in residential facilities,” Kasper says.
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can view the original report on its website.
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Editor’s Note: After World War II, a number of “grands ensembles,” or housing projects, were constructed in the suburbs to meet an increased demand in housing needs by migrants. In this week’s edition of Parallax, Laurent Kronental describes the four years he spent photographing the elderly residents of the housing complexes, located in areas that have historically been economically and socially isolated from the rest of the Parisian metro area. This sense of isolation among residents is tangible in Kronental’s series “Souvenir d’un Futur” (“Memory of a Future”).
For four years, I have photographed the seniors living in the large estates of the Parisian suburbs with a 4×5 large format film camera. One area in particular profoundly fascinated me: the Espaces d’Abraxas, conceived by Ricardo Bofill, in Noisy-le-Grand, a suburb of Paris. I remember the first time I arrived at the foot of this concrete giant. I was captivated by its timeless architecture; this spectacular and mysterious estate, like an impregnable fortress, seemed to come from another time, at once dark and poetic, grand and rough. A future that did not come to pass has left its imprint on the landscape in the form of these towns, icons of French post-war modernism.
This district, built between 1978 and 1983, was one of the anchor points of my series. I came there many times before taking this photo. It shows an a 88-year-old man named Joseph who had lived in Noisy-le-Grand for many years. In the photo, he contemplates a monumental and strangely ghostly landscape where only some quiet signs of life appear. I imagined him as one of the last survivors in a post-apocalyptic universe, where the elderly live their lives in the titanic structures that have engulfed their humanity, their fears and their hopes.
In the foreground appears a massive building whose curvature recalls a theater. Joseph gazes into the distance, facing a world which ages slowly, taking with it the memory of a utopia. His presence raises the question, for us, about the place of these urban veterans in our society.
The word “parallax” describes the camera error that occurs when an image looks different through a viewfinder than how it is recorded by a sensor; when one camera gives two perspectives. Parallax is a blog where photographers offer the unexpected sides and stories of their work. Tell us yours or share on Instagram at #PBSParallax.
The post How a single photo captures the loneliness of a post-war Paris housing project appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Remember earlier this year the hype around “left shark,” the floppy dancer in Katy Perry’s Super Bowl halftime act?
Halloween costume options have only gotten weirder. This year’s batch of cringe-worthy wear features drug lord fugitives and sexy Donald Trumps so you can say “yer fired” in hot pants. (Some might opt for the more cartoonish version of Trump, spotted in a Mexican costume shop, below.)
There’s also “pizza rat” to provide inspiration:
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Meanwhile, the price of the Cecil-the-lion-killing-dentist costume rose “due to overwhelming demand.” For balance, PETA suggests “Cecil’s revenge.”
You might also like “clock boy,” complete with handcuffs, the costume website says.
We all like a good topical costume, but this Halloween do try to “keep it classy,” a la mini Anchorman:
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The post 5 Halloween costumes that prove 2015 is a weird year appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — A bipartisan, six-year bill introduced in the House maintains transportation spending at current levels despite widespread calls to dramatically increase the money available to rehabilitate or replace aging highways, bridges and rail systems.
The Senate passed a similar bill in July that authorizes current transportation spending levels adjusted for inflation plus a bit extra, but provides funds only for the first three years.
The House bill, introduced Friday by Reps. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House transportation committee, and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., the senior Democrat on the committee, also authorizes current spending levels plus inflation, but doesn’t add any extra money.
Taken together, the bills suggest Congress is unlikely to launch significant initiatives in the near future to tackle the nation’s growing transportation maintenance and modernization backlog.
The post House bill suggests Congress unlikely to tackle transportation issues appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton is dominating the money hunt in the 2016 campaign, collecting more big-dollar contributions than any other candidate in 26 states.
In nine states, including Illinois and Colorado, Clinton is pulling in more money than all the Republicans combined, according to an Associated Press analysis of individual donors who gave at least $200 this election cycle. Smaller donors aren’t required to be identified.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was the second-best fundraiser, leading rivals in both parties in 10 states, from Alaska to Nebraska. Republicans Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz and socialist phenomenon Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side were the only other candidates to top the money race in more than one state.
Some candidates, including Sanders, Carson and celebrity Donald Trump, are drawing most of their funding from small donations. But Clinton’s prowess for earning larger checks underscores her early fundraising advantage among the medium- and large-dollar donors who are important in bankrolling increasingly expensive presidential campaigns.
All told, the 22 major presidential candidates — including two who recently dropped out — have raised $274 million so far for their official campaigns. Clinton’s campaign alone accounts for 28 percent of that haul. The analysis does not include super PACs, the outside groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money. Their influence at times challenged President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election effort.
The AP reviewed campaign contributions greater than $200 donated between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30. The data was updated Thursday night when candidates filed their most recent fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission.
The geographic distribution of donors also tells the story of a Republican Party without a clear fundraising winner. Three times as many Republicans as Democrats are vying for their nomination. Carson’s $30 million for the year puts him ahead of Cruz, the Texas senator who is in second place with a total of $26.5 million raised so far. Bush is in third, with $24.8 million for the year.
Even Carson’s campaign was baffled by its fundraising lead in some states, spokesman Doug Watts said, noting that it doesn’t hold to the tradition of relying upon state finance chairs to shake out donations. “Montana has been a stronghold for us since Day One, and we just sort of scratch our heads as to why,” Watts said.
And then there’s Trump.
The real estate mogul who has sat atop many GOP preference polls in recent months defies the usual political conventions — including ones concerning fundraising. Although the billionaire paid for the initial part of his campaign, the most recent fundraising filings show he collected almost enough contributions to cover his roughly $4 million in expenses between July and September.
“The way this thing is going has led to so much uncertainty among donors,” said Fred Malek, a longtime Republican presidential fundraiser in Washington who is unaligned with a primary candidate. “People don’t know what to do. They want more clarity before they really start giving.”
Malek concedes Republicans are “not in a good place” compared to Clinton.
Like Clinton — a returning presidential contender and former first lady — Bush entered the race earlier this year with a ready-made fundraising operation upon which he could build. The former Florida governor’s brother and father are ex-presidents.
Yet Bush isn’t seeing nearly the returns Clinton is. He’s the lead fundraiser in just four states — far fewer than Carson — and his campaign has raised roughly one-third of what Clinton’s has.
The data show hometown fundraising advantages held for many of the candidates: Clinton led in New York, where she was elected senator, and Arkansas, where her husband was governor. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sanders, Vermont’s independent senator, all led fundraising in their respective states.
And in another sign that Bush’s fundraising network isn’t all-powerful, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz not only was the best fundraiser in the Lone Star State, he more than tripled Bush’s take there. That’s somewhat surprising given that Bush counts his brother and father — both Texas residents — as some of his best fundraisers.
Cruz has been an easy sell to Texas donors, said his friend and finance committee member Stephen Cox. Texas usually provides more money to Republican presidential candidates than any other state, fundraising records show.
“Texans by nature love somebody who does what he says and fights for them,” said Cox, who lives near Cruz’s campaign headquarters in Houston. “The level of enthusiasm for him among donors here is really quite exciting.”
Bush does hold command of fundraising in his home state of Florida, raising at least $2 million more in donations of at least $200 than rival Marco Rubio, one of the state’s U.S. senators and former speaker of the Florida House.
Rubio, who has collected about $15.5 million for his presidential run since the start of the year, did not win the fundraising race in any single state; in fact, he was never better than third place in the money race, the data show. Bush also bested Rubio in Nevada, where Rubio spent much of his boyhood.
But Clinton raised more there than both of them combined.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The Democratic candidates for president faced off in their first debate this week, and new fund-raising numbers give a closer look at which contenders are winning the money game.
For all that and more, we turn to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
So, you watched the debate, obviously. How was the tone different from this? It seems that perhaps FOX News set the tone in a much more aggressive and sharp way for the questioners in this round. Is that what we’re going to see throughout the cycle?
MARK SHIELDS: I think that Democrats, generally speaking, felt better about their debates than probably Republicans did about theirs.
There is no question that Donald Trump brought big numbers and brought a certain level of suspense, and you kind of hold your breath at what’s going to happen to it. But Martin O’Malley and — the former governor of Maryland, in one of his rare good moments on Tuesday night, pointed out that the Democrats had gone through an entire debate discussing issues with no personal attacks. Nobody had been accused of being ugly or a loser, and there had been no racial stereotyping or negatives.
So I think, in that sense, there was an entirely — difference in tone.
DAVID BROOKS: There was a difference in tone, a difference in subject matter. I think the Democrats actually have the advantage of subject matter, because they actually did talk about middle-class concerns, whereas Republicans are talking about weird stuff.
But the other factor is, the Republicans are actually arguing and fighting with each other. And what I saw up there was Hillary Clinton performing extremely well, and four other guys lying down and let her, letting her have the nomination. It’s like Bernie Sanders held up the white flag of surrender when he refused to really go after her on the character and moral issue, which is his only way in.
And the other three, I don’t know why they were there. O’Malley was the one who surprised me the most. I thought he would come in and see the Fiorina model and come out with some sort of aggressiveness. He had a little toward the end, but in the beginning, it was just passive.
HARI SREENIVASAN: How do you think Sanders did?
MARK SHIELDS: Well, I thought Hillary Clinton had the best night of her campaign.
I thought that she was in command, she was comfortable, she was spontaneous. She came back from the break and was a little late getting to the stage, having obviously visited the ladies room, and kind of tossed a — gave the lie to the stereotype of the joyless feminist by pointing out it takes women a little bit longer to go to the lavatory.
And I just thought there was — it bordered on the authentic. I thought she did very well. David is right. Campaigns are about differences. And when you’re behind somebody, you better draw the differences with them, whether it’s in style, or substance, or record, or character. And the others didn’t do that.
I thought Bernie had a — Bernie Sanders had a better night than David thinks he did, and I think it was reflected in the dial polls, which viewers watch it and their emotions and reactions are gauged. It’s a very legitimate way of measuring people’s reaction. People use it on speeches, presidential acceptance speeches and so forth. He did well on that. He did well on the focus groups.
I don’t think he expanded in any way. I think he went deeper with his constituency. I don’t think he expanded his message or made his case better. But I think, all in all, he probably improved his own status, but I think she had a good night. I would just say this one thing about her.
This is the time for her to say, why have I had one good night and have had six bad months? And I think that’s the time for an examination of conscience almost, to sit down and say, who has given me good advice over these six months, what did I do wrong, why did it take me five months to admit that the e-mails were my mistake, and I’m wrong about it?
And I just — I think — because right now, I think that — this is the moment for her to figure that out, I mean, not to be just confused and put off by the euphoria of this one great evening.
DAVID BROOKS: She’s a good debater, though. She always has been. She did very well against Barack Obama, you will remember…
MARK SHIELDS: She did.
DAVID BROOKS: … who’s a much more formidable debater than anybody who was up there, because it suits her, the preparation, the depth of knowledge, the aggressiveness. All that suits her.
But I just think Sanders missed the opportunity with — that e-mail moment was the crucial moment.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: He doesn’t have to go after her on e-mails. Democrats don’t want to talk about e-mails. But he has to go after her on the only piece of leverage he has. I don’t think he is going to win because he’s further to her left. He has to win because somehow she’s seen not quite — we’re not quite sure if she’s trustworthy, electable.
And he passed that opportunity, and I’m not sure it — can ever get that back.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, let’s talk a little bit about campaign money. The third quarter fund-raising numbers are just out. We’re going to put those on screen here.
On the Democratic side, you can see Clinton with a total of $29.9 million, and all the way down to Chafee with no million. And then on the Republican side, there is a pretty good range, too. Ben Carson is doing quite well at $20.8 million and Rubio at $6 million. Obviously, Trump has some of his own funds along with some other donor money, so it doesn’t necessarily show up on this. I think he’s maybe in eighth place.
What does this say about the campaigns? At this point, should there be war chests that are bigger to keep the lights on?
MARK SHIELDS: The first story is Bernie Sanders. I mean, Bernie Sanders has been the surprise. He has proved that there is an outsider constituency that has captured a large share, a chunk of the Democratic imagination.
Bernie Sanders is not leading some anti-war movement. He’s getting these huge crowds. He’s getting a lot of money. He has more money on hand right now, I believe, cash on hand, than the three top Republicans do. I mean, to see Democrats as more fiscally responsible, which they have been with their campaign contributions, than the Republicans is something to see.
But I just think the Sanders thing is remarkable in terms of — it is reflective of the mood in the country that Washington, Wall Street are in bed together, that Wall Street is playing the tune and Washington is dancing to it, and the 1 percent and the inequality in the country, the shrinking middle class.
I think that is a real, real story. And the other story is that we were talking about before is that how many of these Republican candidates — and Democrats, I think, too, there’s a temptation — you get lured by the big money of PACs, which you cannot then spend in your own campaign to open your own headquarters in Manchester or Nashua or Des Moines. And I think that’s become a problem.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
The PAC contributions have gotten more concentrated in a very small number of groups. But the contributions to the campaigns have gotten more democratized. So, all the outsiders are doing pretty well, like the Carsons, the Sanders, the Fiorinas. And they’re doing it with the small donations. Carson, he has got direct mail because he’s probably got an older group.
But the others are online. It’s super cheap to raise that kind of money. And so it’s sort of democratizing. A lot of people are getting involved. And that’s good. The second thing — and the headline to me is Ted Cruz.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes, it is.
DAVID BROOKS: Ted Cruz is doing very, very well.
MARK SHIELDS: Yes, he is. Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: And so, as Donald Trump fades, which I still assume he will, Cruz is the natural receptacle. And he’s got a lot of money.
MARK SHIELDS: And small contributions.
DAVID BROOKS: And small contributions. And so you begin to see a possibility where it gets down to a Bush-Rubio vs. a Cruz. That’s a plausible way this thing narrows down, I think. And so, suddenly, he looks like a bigger figure than he would if you just looked at the polls.
MARK SHIELDS: You can’t talk at the money, Hari, without talking about the concentration of big money in this campaign.
And The New York Times did a story last Sunday of 158 families in the United States that have given over half the money in this campaign.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So far, yes.
MARK SHIELDS: Citizens United, thank you, Justice Roberts, Justice Alito, Justice Scalia and Thomas and Kennedy. I mean, this is truly oligarchy.
And people who worry about big money having too large a voice, this has given them a megaphone. And the golden rule operates, where who he has the gold rules. And it is truly terrifying for those who care about democracy.
HARI SREENIVASAN: I want to get to this last topic as well, the withdrawal from Afghanistan. It’s been something that the president campaigned on. It was a promise to get us out of these wars.
And this week, is this a scenario where his decision is a clash of kind of political instinct and will vs. military reality on ground?
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I think so.
I think it’s a politically tough call. Obviously, he made the promise. He would like to get us out, but troops on the ground matter. The number of troops, U.S. troops on the ground, can stabilize a country. I think we learned that in Iraq. When we withdrew the troops, we left a vacuum that ISIS and others were happy to fill.
And I think that, while the administration denies it, that basic principle, he found applying to Afghanistan, and that it we had left, the Taliban would have taken over more cities, more areas. The government may have collapsed.
And so he went against his own wishes and his political promises, so he wouldn’t leave a mess. And so, you know, I sort of salute him for going — for looking at reality, looking at context and saying, I have got to do this for the good of Afghanistan, for the good of America.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Is this just kicking it down for his successor?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, but at least there is a greater likelihood he will not leave a complete disaster for his successor.
MARK SHIELDS: I disagree with David about Iraq. I think it became impossible to leave any American troops there, and certainly dealing with the Iraqi government and their unwillingness.
This has been Barack Obama’s war. In 2008, he said Afghanistan was the right war. And I do think that the 5,500 that will be there in 2017, you’re not talking about a significant number to make a profound difference. I mean, it could make a profound difference in their lives. They’re there.
I mean, Afghanistan right now is not capable of defending itself. And I just think that it’s really not an answer. The reality is that it’s unavoidable. We talk about this aversion in both parties to send American troops into harm’s way. And the idea of training proxies is sort of a salve for the consciences of the Congress and the president. And it has never worked anywhere. It has never worked. I mean, if anybody can show me where it’s worked, I would like — I will stand corrected.
DAVID BROOKS: The American Revolution.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right.
David Brooks, Mark Shields, we will have to leave it there. Thanks so much.
The post Shields and Brooks on campaign finance and what we learned in the Democratic debate appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
HARI SREENIVASAN: But, first, last night, we introduced you to three inmates serving time at a maximum security jail in Southern Maryland. All three were part of a pilot jobs program aimed at teaching them the skills to stay out of prison after their release.
Tonight, a look at their struggles and successes as they try to do just that.
William Brangham continues our report.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Twenty-year-old Jordan Taylor is about to be a free man. He changes out of his county-issued jumpsuit, and back into the clothes he was wearing the day he got locked up over a year ago for violating probation on an armed robbery charge
MAN: What’s your name sir?
JORDAN TAYLOR: Jordan Taylor.
MAN: Good luck to you.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And with that, he’s done, and he heads out to the open arms of his parents and older brother.
JORDAN TAYLOR: Are you all right, mom? You know I was coming home, mom.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For the past several months, we have been following Jordan and two other prisoners, Carlos Colon and Ashley Wilson, as they transition from a life behind bars to a life outside them. Will they fall back into a life of crime, or will they manage to start over?
This isn’t an idle question, because, as the number of people behind bars in the U.S. has skyrocketed from 500,000 in 1980 to more than 2.2 million today, so has the cost of incarcerating them. It now costs taxpayers roughly $80 billion a year.
Now there’s a strong bipartisan push to do something about this trend. And one of the key efforts is to reduce recidivism. Right now, two-thirds of convicts end up getting rearrested within three years of their release. So the goal is to somehow stop that revolving prison door from spinning.
Unlike a lot of newly-released prisoners, Jordan Taylor has a pretty big welcome mat laid out for him. He’s back at home in Gaithersburg, Maryland, with his mom and dad. They have been married 26 years. His longtime girlfriend, Shawna, also is thrilled to have him back.
Ex-prisoners with strong support systems do better, lower rates of drug use, higher employment, and less criminal activity.
JORDAN TAYLOR: I’m applying everywhere I can apply, really, not really being picky at all.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But, still, three months after his release, Jordan hasn’t been able to find a job.
JORDAN TAYLOR: I tried mostly fast food. I tried warehouse jobs. And I applied there, at the Aldi’s. Right there is a supermarket. But I don’t know what’s going on with them.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The unemployment rate for blacks is twice that of whites, and so for a young black man with no high school diploma and a criminal record, it’s particularly hard to find entry-level work.
Now, Maryland, where Jordan lives, is one of 17 states that has a so-called ban the box law, where you don’t have to check a box on a job application indicating if you have got a criminal record. But Jordan says he still gets asked the question, and he tells the truth.
JORDAN TAYLOR: Their whole demeanor changes. No matter how good your first impression was, or how you talk, how articulate you are, every time, they immediately change, every single time.
CARLOS COLON: I’m just hoping that something works out. I’m just hoping a miracle and something happens. That’s what I’m going with.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: As his release date approaches, Carlos Colon has a different problem than Jordan Taylor. He has nowhere to go when he gets out.
This 32-year-old car thief has been turned down by multiple halfway houses because of a prior prison escape. He has no family or friends to go to, and he’s broke.
CARLOS COLON: Hopefully, I never see you again.
WOMAN: Yes, good luck.
CARLOS COLON: I know, right?
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: But just before his release, he’s accepted into this group home, one that’s not easy to get into.
CINDY COOK, Great Compassion Ministries: This is the living room, TV, socialize. We get a dog. I have a dog. But he comes to visit a lot.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, why did you pick him?
CINDY COOK: It was really just his attitude, just his upbeat spirit. You know, he has that spirit of where he’s just excited about life and is not giving up.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Cindy Cook started Great Compassion Ministries in 2008. It’s a faith-based program that houses seven residents at a time in this tree-lined suburban Maryland neighborhood.
CINDY COOK: I’m just going to go over some of the rules and your expectations that I have of you and expectations that you may have of me.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: There are house rules, and a 10:00 p.m. curfew, but, tonight, for the first time in three years, Carlos is a free man and one who gets to sleep in a real bed.
So, if you hadn’t found this place, where would you have ended up? Where would you go?
CARLOS COLON: I probably would have stole me a car.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: First night?
CARLOS COLON: First night, I would have had to take my chances. I know it sounds crazy and I know it sounds insanity that you’re doing the same thing over, but that’s just what I do. That’s what I know how to do.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Thanks to a pilot jobs program in the Montgomery County jail where he served time, Carlos might have a better shot at finding legitimate work.
Several weeks ago, back in jail, he was interviewed by a national company. They didn’t want us to say their name, but they want to help convicts find work when they get out.
CARLOS COLON: I’m a hard worker. Like, the jobs that I had before, the only reason I lost them is because they find out that I have a criminal record, and that’s the reason I lost them.
So, with this guy, he actually said, you know, he knows my record. He came in understanding that you came to a jail to interview me. You gave me the break or the chance.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Yes, there’s no kidding this guy.
CARLOS COLON: Yes, there’s no, oh, dude, you know, I just — I forgot to tell you I’m a car thief or I stole a car or…
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Carlos also got to visit this nonprofit, which provides free business clothes to low-income individuals. But these kinds of resources and opportunities resources are pretty rare. Ex-convicts are blocked from up to 800 different occupations nationwide.
In many states, they’re also ineligible for food stamps, public assistance and educational loans. And their job prospects do suffer. Hundreds of thousands of prisoners like Carlos are released every year, and more than half remain unemployed a year after getting out. And for those who don’t find work, they’re three times more likely to wind up back behind bars.
CARLOS COLON: I’m like really fortunate that I found this place. Now I just got to get on my feet and make some money and start paying my own rent. Then hopefully, maybe within six months, eight months, I can move on.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Ten miles away, 20-year-old Ashley Wilson’s first taste of freedom has given her a headache.
ASHLEY WILSON: Because my eyes are just not used to sunlight. You don’t get any sunlight at all in the jail. It’s completely closed in, except for the windows are open bars.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Today is Ashley’s first full day at what’s called a pre-release center. It’s a county-run transitional home. This is where she will serve the remainder of her 18-month sentence for prostitution, possession of heroin and check fraud.
On the surface, it’s a far cry from jail. You get regular clothes instead of a jumpsuit. There’s no barbed wire, and you can have your own cell phone, which, experts argue, is crucial for getting a job these days. But residents are still not free. They get Breathalyzed each time they come and go from the center, and leaving without permission is a first-degree felony, which could get them an additional five to 10 years on their sentences.
WOMAN: So, we can do your intake.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Each resident gets a case manager to help them craft a plan, and to help find a job. But for Ashley, who struggled with heroin addiction for much of her young life, staying clean and sober will be the biggest challenge.
WOMAN: Right now, you have a clean slate. You’re in the program. You’re sober. So how can I help you to get past those difficulties you have had with your lifestyle choices?
ASHLEY WILSON: I think I really, really need help building that foundation, having something to work towards, to have things that I don’t want to lose, to get back to being a responsible citizen in society and being a responsible parent and an active parent.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It’s been six months since Ashley last saw her 2-year-old daughter, Talia. Talia’s father has sole custody, and he’s under no obligation to bring her here for visits. And today is particularly rough because it’s Talia’s birthday.
ASHLEY WILSON: I’m really excited, but pretty sad about that, because I don’t get to — I don’t get to see her or talk to her today.
Having a child is a wonderful thing. You know, she’s not like, mommy, you have all these flaws, or you look ugly to me. She thinks I’m beautiful, and she thinks I’m strong. And I want to nurture that.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Long-term, Ashley hopes to get custody of her daughter and earn a college degree. But in the short-term, she just wants to finish her time at the center and stay out of jail.
She says her fellow inmates back in jail used to take bets on how quickly she’d end up back there.
ASHLEY WILSON: Let’s say they gave me two weeks. I’m going to be like OK, I’m going to count down until the end of those two weeks, and at the end of those two weeks, regardless if I’m ever going to see that person again, I’m like, ha-ha. That’s just me.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: At first, Ashley seemed like she was proving the doubters wrong. She got to see her daughter and she landed a day job at Panera, which the center encouraged. But it only lasted one day. Ashley was caught using synthetic drugs, and she was expelled from the center and sent back to jail for the rest of her sentence. She won’t get out until at least next spring.
For all prisoners, putting the past behind them won’t be easy. Recidivism is the norm for most ex-convicts. We will continue following these three to see what they do with their second chance.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m William Brangham in Montgomery County, Maryland.
HARI SREENIVASAN: On our Web site, you can catch up on part one of this series, and take an in-depth look at Carlos, Jordan and Ashley’s lives. That’s at PBS.org/NewsHour.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Journalist Mohamed Fahmy returned home to Canada this week, the end of a long saga that began in Egypt almost two years ago.
Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner sat with him for his first American interview.
MARGARET WARNER: This din of everyday life in downtown Toronto is new again for Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and his wife, Marwa Omara, three weeks after his sudden release from an Egyptian prison.
The Canadian-Egyptian journalist was pardoned September 23 by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, ending a nearly-two-year ordeal.
MOHAMED FAHMY, Former Cairo Bureau Chief, Al Jazeera English: Our families have suffered so much.
MARGARET WARNER: Fahmy, a longtime CNN producer and Los Angeles Times writer, was the new Cairo bureau chief for Al-Jazeera’s English channel, when he and two colleagues, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste, were arrested in their Cairo hotel on terror charges December 29, 2013.
The raid was quickly broadcast on Egyptian television. Thus began a Kafkaesque journey through Egypt’s judicial system, just months after then-General Sisi’s ouster of the elected president, Mohammed Morsi’s of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The three were initially charged with aiding and promoting the Brotherhood, which had just been branded a terrorist organization. Al-Jazeera is owned by the government of Qatar, which continued to back the Brotherhood even after Morsi’s ouster.
Caged in court, Fahmy emphatically denied the charges.
MOHAMED FAHMY: Evidence? I don’t even see it. Do you see it? I don’t see it.
MARGARET WARNER: They were convicted and sentenced in June 2014. After a retrial was ordered in January, the Australian Peter Greste was deported. But Fahmy and Baher were retried and convicted again this summer, sentenced to three more years.
Finally, amid worldwide pressure, and with the help of noted human rights attorney Amal Clooney, President Sisi pardoned them.
In Toronto yesterday, I began by asking Fahmy about the conditions in which he was held.
MOHAMED FAHMY: The Scorpion super maximum security prison is probably the worst prison in the Middle East. And there, I was in the terrorism wing with Mohamed al-Zawahri, the brother of the Al-Qaida leader, and ISIS fighters and extremists who had just arrived from Syria and Libya to topple the Egyptian regime and members of the senior Muslim Brotherhood group.
And it was just surreal, because I am a journalist. What am I doing with these people? And there was no outing, no sunlight, no way of telling time. It was pretty brutal and it was really, really freezing in that cell. And I had a broken shoulder. I was sleeping on the floor, lots of insects.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, this latest State Department human rights report talks about torture, beatings, isolation. Were you subjected to any of that?
MOHAMED FAHMY: I wasn’t. I had been to three prisons throughout my 438 days in detention. I didn’t see any torture. I was not ill-treated or abused in any way.
Of course, it’s psychologically unbearable. You can’t see your family. You don’t have any more writing material. The food is very limited. No, it’s pretty, pretty harsh.
And the fact that you are living with these terrorists, it’s seriously insulting. Of course, we tried to do what journalists do, and we were interviewing them and trying to understand why — what they’re doing there. It was very interesting to dig into their minds especially. It represented a mirror image of what’s happening in Egypt now, that many of these people are in prison, including some secularists as well, who….
MARGARET WARNER: You mean the secular activists, the pro-democracy activists.
MOHAMED FAHMY: Yes, who started the revolution in 2011, when we worked together.
MARGARET WARNER: Were the jihadists among them as extreme still in their views and beliefs?
MOHAMED FAHMY: They were as extreme as can be. They were — they have no respect to democracy, humanity.
Unfortunately, I was incarcerated during the time of slaying of my friend Steven Sotloff, who had visited me in Cairo before going to Syria, and just seeing them celebrate.
MARGARET WARNER: When he was beheaded?
MOHAMED FAHMY: Yes, when he was beheaded.
And it was really awful. And, again, it was just really weird seeing them and living with them for a year and realizing that there is no hope for these people. They twist the meaning of Islam to suit their unacceptable actions.
MARGARET WARNER: Did the Muslim Brotherhood members who were in there, were they cheering at the beheading of Sotloff?
MOHAMED FAHMY: No, they weren’t. There is a clear distinction between how the Muslim Brotherhood were viewing these extremist actions and what these hardened extremists were saying.
We sort of had a radio mock show to keep ourselves entertained. And we had like a hatch in the door of our cell, because you were in solitary confinement. You could only see the eyes of the person in front of you in this other cell.
So we’d call everybody to come up to the hatch, and we’d have like a one-hour show. So, I would play the devil’s advocate and put the extremists and the Muslim Brotherhood on the spot and compare of how they view things.
MARGARET WARNER: Were you able to take notes?
MOHAMED FAHMY: I did. And I took notes, and I smuggled them out during family visits with my wife.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, did you manage to communicate with people on the outside somehow?
MOHAMED FAHMY: Well, my family, when they visited me, my wife used to smuggle in inside the food printouts of articles that had been written outside.
And I realized there is a serious movement across the globe, and people were fighting for us. And I — this is what kept me going.
MARGARET WARNER: So, why do you really think you were arrested? What were the reasons behind it?
MOHAMED FAHMY: It was hitting two birds with one step. Egypt was sending a message to journalists that if you don’t toe the government’s line, this could happen to you.
But it was also a message to Qatar, who are die-hard supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.
MARGARET WARNER: You and I both covered the Egyptian revolution. We know that there were middle-class people, people of all classes in Tahrir Square. And the one thing that united them was, we don’t want to live with autocratic rule of Hosni Mubarak.
Yet now they’re acceding essentially to what many say is an equally repressive kind of rule. Why do you think that is?
MOHAMED FAHMY: I think people were just fed up after three years of intense protests and killing and chaos on the streets. And they decided to make sacrifices and accept this new atmosphere.
I believe the Muslim Brotherhood should have been removed and that they were a cancer of political Islam and extracting them was very important. But I don’t agree with what happened after that, which was a clampdown on civil liberties and human rights and press freedoms.
MARGARET WARNER: What do you think the prospects are now for Egypt to ever realize the promise of the Arab spring?
MOHAMED FAHMY: Now, I think the Arab spring is dead and buried.
In order for Egypt, the country that I love and where I grew up and where I had that dream in Tahrir Square, wants to reach this true democratic state, a lot of work needs to be done.
MARGARET WARNER: How has this experience changed you?
MOHAMED FAHMY: Oh, I’m a new man. I’m completely a new man.
I have also learned to look at the big picture. I forget about the essential things like family and just living a peaceful life. And I think it will take a while before I go back into journalism.
But I do want to reflect on what I have seen inside the prison.
MARGARET WARNER: From there, we took the new man and his wife, Marwa, out to lunch.
You’re less than a week here. How does it feel?
MOHAMED FAHMY: It’s perfect. We’re just happy all the time. We’re like little kids.
It’s surreal, because you come from the Middle East, and the scene there is very charged all time. And there’s talk of war. And politics are in your face. And, here, you’re just allowed to relax.
MARWA OMARA, Mohamed Fahmy’s wife: I remember the first time I see him smiling in two years was once we landed in Toronto. He was like a young kid.
MOHAMED FAHMY: Because there are so many people giving us hugs and saying hello and asking for photos. And so I do feel a lot of warmth and love.
MARGARET WARNER: When you — the two of you go to Vancouver, start your new life?
MARWA OMARA: I’m looking for some stability, do the simpler things like dance, listen to music.
MOHAMED FAHMY: Go to the movies.
MARGARET WARNER: Are you a good dancer?
MOHAMED FAHMY: I’m not bad. Not bad when I’m happy, when I’m happy. There was nothing to dance about for the last two years.
But we’re excited to start all over and just have a normal life and just put it all behind us. It’s therapeutic as well to help others. I feel that’s the way of dealing with it, and I think that will help us move forward, and we do want to help, because we are here because of all the help that we got from others.
MARGARET WARNER: Mohamed and Marwa have begun their own foundation to help other journalists held behind bars. They describe it as a healing process.
I’m Margaret Warner for the PBS NewsHour in Toronto.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Television viewers in Denmark are tuning in tonight for the season two premiere of a surprise hit reality show. Its star is the U.S. ambassador to Copenhagen, Rufus Gifford, who was given the job by President Obama as a reward for raising more than a billion dollars during the last election campaign.
Ambassador Gifford, who is gay, married his partner in Denmark last weekend.
And, as special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Copenhagen, his unique brand of diplomacy is raising eyebrows amongst traditionalists.
MALCOLM BRABANT: In a city accustomed to flamboyance, the union of the U.S. ambassador to veterinarian Stephen DeVincent wasn’t only the wedding of the year, but also a landmark for diplomacy, Rufus Gifford-style.
RUFUS GIFFORD, U.S. Ambassador to Denmark: Here in the country that created fairy tales, we get to have our fairy tale. And now I guess it’s a case of happily ever after or something, right? But Americans are pretty good at that. They are. So we’re just so happy.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The couple’s cheerleader in chief is the ambassador’s father, Chad, former chairman of the Bank of America.
CHAD GIFFORD, Ambassador’s father: Rufus is just such a people person. He has this unique ability, and it’s no — there’s nothing false about it. But he just cares. He cares about people. And that smile says it all. So, it’s — he’s so genuine, it amazes me.
MALCOLM BRABANT: How do you think this style helps America?
CHAD GIFFORD: As an American, I worry about our country and frankly about our politicians, that seem to say what they think they need to say to get elected. And I abhor that. I think it’s sad for our country, and Rufus is the opposite of that.
He says what he thinks. And he just believes what he says, and I just wish we had more like him.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Within an hour of tying the knot, the ambassador was posting on social media, where he has a huge following.
RUFUS GIFFORD: So, this is as far as you can come, but on October 16, please join us for the premiere of “Jeg er ambassadoren fra Amerika,” season two, on DR3. See you then.
My time in Denmark is running out. I have got the best job in the world. This is just your average Wednesday.
But I have just over a year left in Denmark. And I want to spend every minute of my time here engaging as many Danes as I possibly can.
MALCOLM BRABANT: TV executive Erik Struve Hansen recognized the ambassador’s box office potential and is responsible for creating a show that has wowed viewers of the country’s main youth channel.
ERIK STRUVE HANSEN, Television producer: I think it’s become that big a success because of Rufus’ character. He is what we call a big character. All of our viewers and a lot of people in Denmark, they love him. They think he’s a good role model. He’s so positive and he likes Denmark as well. He’s very positive about our country.
MALCOLM BRABANT: For Ambassador Gifford, it was a huge relief when, in June, the Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was a constitutional right a quarter-of-a-century after Denmark led the way.
RUFUS GIFFORD: You were the first country in the world to recognize same-sex unions. So, the idea that we’re doing it here, it is a tribute to that as well.
RUFUS GIFFORD: That’s “Hail to the Chief.” That’s giving me a pretty big promotion.
MAN: I was not talking about you.
ERIK STRUVE HANSEN: I think a very good ambassador, as he is, and so open and so warm, of course, gives the Danes a good impression of America.
RUFUS GIFFORD: I don’t know if this a diplomatic thing today or not. I mean, do I think that we have had a — do I — well, let me say it this way actually. We, as the United States, on these issues, have come so, so far over the course of the last 10 years.
Today, I think we tip our hat to Denmark and the journey that you have been here on for so many years. And also I think this is — tonight, we are celebrating, partying late into the night with all of our friends and family under the American flag.
And I am so grateful for the journey I think our country has gone on these issues. So perhaps there’s a little bit of diplomacy there, too, and what I say all the time is diplomacy is about people.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The British wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill once described diplomacy as telling somebody to go to hell in such a way that they would ask for directions.
Harry S. Truman, the former American president, said that tact was the ability to stand on a man’s toes without messing up the shine on his shoes. The reality is that in Denmark, foreign relations are a walk in the park. It doesn’t present the challenges of Russia or China.
But the ambassador, a former Hollywood producer, has not managed to win over foreign policy expert Hans Mouritzen, a traditionalist when it comes to diplomacy.
Don’t you think that he’s perhaps got some lessons to teach traditional diplomats, in that he seems to be doing an awful lot to be able to promote America’s image?
HANS MOURITZEN, Danish Institute for International Studies: Yes, but the thing is that I think that he’s promoting his own image, because I think people can understand that it’s more his own image than the American image, because people know all kinds of things about U.S. foreign policy which they don’t like, but they like Mr. Gifford.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Do you not think that this might work in some other parts of the world, for example, where perhaps you need to have a different, fresh approach?
HANS MOURITZEN: No, it wouldn’t work in Eastern Europe, because they don’t like gay people. So it has to be in Western Europe. And, yes, that’s about it. It couldn’t be in Africa. You have to have a very common cultural background, because to understand many of the things he says, you have to have this Anglo-American background, which we have in Scandinavia. So it works very well here.
MALCOLM BRABANT: At his residence, the ambassador disagrees.
RUFUS GIFFORD: I think you could do this in any country around the world. Is it easier in Denmark? Absolutely. If you go to other countries which certainly might not be as receptive to American messaging generally speaking and the American brand is far worse than it is in Denmark, I think the work is going to be much harder.
I think openness and honesty always win out in the end. And will you get hit in the meantime? Sure. Will it be hard in the meantime? Absolutely. But it’s still worth it because I think people respect it.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Rufus Gifford has worked for President Obama for almost nine years, and diplomatic sources say he enjoys the trust of the White House. The big question is whether he will seek political office once his term ends in a year’s time. His father hopes not. He says the ambassador is too good for that.
For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Malcolm Brabant in Copenhagen.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: We have all seen the ads for DraftKings and FanDuel. Playing fantasy sports is now a multibillion-dollar industry.
Today, regulators in Nevada are the first to rule that playing daily fantasy sports is considered gambling, and ordered the companies to cease operating in the state until they obtain gambling licenses.
“Frontline” and The New York Times recently produced a story about playing daily fantasy sports.
Bryce Mauro, a student at DePauw University, says he makes a six-figure salary by betting on daily fantasy sports, putting his study of economics to daily use.
BRYCE MAURO, DePauw University: I wagered about $12,000 this morning.
WALT BOGDANICH, The New York Times: That’s a lot of money.
BRYCE MAURO: Yes, it is.
WALT BOGDANICH: You confident?
BRYCE MAURO: I’m very confident. I wouldn’t be wagering money on this scale if I wasn’t very confident in my abilities. I mean, I lost about $18,000 last night, so it offsets it. It fluctuates.
WALT BOGDANICH: How much have you won?
BRYCE MAURO: My bankroll, I mean, it’s in the hundreds of thousands. I have made hundreds of thousands of dollars doing this over the past almost two years now.
MATT KING, CFO, FanDuel: The core of our game is not about the money. When you ask people why they play, they play because it makes the games more exciting.
WALT BOGDANICH: What’s the biggest prize a player could win?
MATT KING: We have contests where people can win up to several million dollars.
WALT BOGDANICH: Several million? So you don’t view what you do here at FanDuel as gambling?
MATT KING: No.
WALT BOGDANICH: That’s a word that isn’t used very much around here, I take it.
MATT KING: No, because we are — every time that you talk to our users, what comes through loud and clear is the fact that we’re an entertainment product.
WALT BOGDANICH: So, you see no reason then for fantasy sports to be regulated by some government agency?
MATT KING: Our product is all about entertainment value.
WALT BOGDANICH: Is what you do gambling?
BRYCE MAURO: No, it’s not gambling at all. I mean, it’s — I consider it more of investing. You know, I have a portfolio. I’m trying to diversify the portfolio by picking players every day. I’m trying to maximize returns. I’m trying to optimize my lineup each day.
I mean, it’s like you’re given $1,000 to bet on the stock market in a day. It’s no different than that.
HARI SREENIVASAN: You can see more of the film at NewYorkTimes.com and on the “Frontline” page at PBS.org.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: A series of suicide bombings rocked Northern Nigeria today. Four women blew themselves up early this morning as soldiers challenged their entrance to Maiduguri, killing at least 18 people. The blasts occurred just hours after two bombs struck a nearby mosque. At least 30 people died in those explosions. Officials suspect Boko Haram extremists are behind both incidents.
Nick Schifrin is on assignment for us in Nigeria. I spoke to him earlier today in the capital, Abuja.
Nick, so you were in the town where the bombings happened. You’re in a different city now. What can you tell us about today’s violence?
NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, Hari, good evening.
This is really quintessential Boko Haram. They can’t get into the center of Maiduguri, nor can they seize any land outside of it. And so what they’re doing is strapping people with bombs, more bombs, according to intelligence officials, in the last nine months than the previous six years combined.
This morning, the attack was actually thwarted by police at the edge of Maiduguri, last night’s attack, horrific. Somebody actually got into a mosque and blew himself up. The vast majority of Boko Haram’s victims are Muslims.
HARI SREENIVASAN: What’s the U.S. doing to help Nigeria fight or stop Boko Haram?
NICK SCHIFRIN: The U.S. is hoping in the next few months that it will start retraining Nigerian forces to fight Boko Haram and also really flood the zone with drones.
There is a brand-new base in Northern Cameroon. Intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, these are the kinds of things that the U.S. is going to give not only Nigeria, but the whole region. There will not be troops on the ground. The U.S. hopes to train more of the local forces and give them the intelligence that they need.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Nick Schifrin joining us from Abuja, Nigeria, tonight, thanks so much.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Thanks, Hari.
HARI SREENIVASAN: We will have more on the security situation in Nigeria right after the news summary.
Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians flared for another day. A Palestinian man wearing a press T-shirt stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier in Hebron, while elsewhere in the West Bank, Palestinians firebombed a Jewish holy site. Violence also broke out in Gaza, where Israeli soldiers shot and killed two Palestinians, all this as both sides pleaded for international help at a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
RIYAD MANSOUR, Palestinian Envoy to the UN (through interpreter): We come to you today asking the council to urgently intervene to end this aggression against our defenseless Palestinian people, and against our shrines, which are subjected to violations by the Israeli military occupation and by Israeli settlers and by extremists.
DAVID ROET, Israeli Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN: Israel is facing an onslaught of terrorism. Yet, there has been no demand for an emergency session of the Security Council, no call for the Palestinian leadership to stop their incitement, and not even a whisper of condemnation of these acts could be heard from this council.
HARI SREENIVASAN: There was also word that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week in Germany. The two also spoke today about the conflict during what the State Department called a — quote — “constructive conversation.”
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations insisted today an Iranian missile test last weekend was a clear violation of U.N. sanctions. Samantha Power issued a statement warning the U.S. will seek Security Council action now that it has determined that the Iranian missile was — quote — “inherently capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.”
And at a news conference today, President Obama maintained the landmark deal over Iran’s nuclear program won’t deter the U.S. from pressuring the country over its missile program.
Syrian troops initiated a fresh offensive against rebel forces today. The new push in the northern province of Aleppo was coordinated in conjunction with Russian airstrikes. It follows a separate operation launched yesterday farther south in the Homs province.
Meanwhile, the Turkish military shot down an unauthorized drone flying in their airspace near the Syrian border. U.S. officials believe it was of Russian origin, but Moscow insisted all its aircraft were accounted for.
Hungary is further sealing itself off from the sea of migrants flowing into Europe. The government is officially closing its border with Croatia tonight, a month after doing the same with Serbia. Earlier in the day, more than 1,000 refugees streamed off a train in a Croatian border town, hoping to make it into Hungary before the closure. More than 383,000 migrants have entered Hungary this year.
Parts of Southern California were digging out from a deluge of mud and debris a day after powerful storms soaked the area. Emergency crews worked around the clock to reopen one of the state’s major thoroughfares, Interstate 5, north of Los Angeles, near Fort Tejon State Park. Hundreds of vehicles were stranded in the area yesterday in up to five feet of mud.
On Wall Street today, stocks closed higher for a third straight week. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 74 points to close at nearly 17216. The Nasdaq rose more than 16 points. And the S&P 500 added nine. For the week, the Dow, Nasdaq, and the S&P 500 all gained around 1 percent.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The deadly attacks in Nigeria this week come as the Obama administration announced 300 U.S. soldiers would be sent to neighboring Cameroon.
For more on all this, I’m joined now by Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.
What does the U.S. hope to accomplish here? What kind of skills are we bringing?
PETER PHAM, Atlantic Council: Well, two things, Hari, first to provide better intelligence on the increase in cross-border activity of Boko Haram.
It’s no longer just a threat in Nigeria, but the group is reaching into Niger, into Chad and into Cameroon, so to monitor those movements. And then, secondly, to — once the full complement of the 300 U.S. personnel are there, to engage in some further training of Cameroon’s military.
Cameroon’s military has a unit, the so-called rapid reaction force, known by its French acronym BIR. The BIR has been U.S.-trained, has had U.S. cooperation and equipment since 2009. It’s one of the best military units in the region, and so bringing them up to speed, up to the level necessary to fight this new type of challenge that they’re facing.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And compare that to the rest of the neighborhood, so to speak, or their military capacity.
PETER PHAM: Well, Nigeria has the largest military in terms of personnel in the region, but, since 1999, when the military ceded power back to civilian rule, in an effort to avoid future military coups, the Nigerian military was starved of resources.
And where the resources were allocated, it was primarily to build up peacekeeping capability. And Nigeria has contributed very well to peacekeeping activities in Africa and places like Darfur, as well as elsewhere in the world. But the skill sets in peacekeeping are entirely different from war fighting, much less the type of specialized warfare, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism that Boko Haram calls for.
Chad has a battle-seasoned army, but it again faces a new type of challenge in Boko Haram. Niger is one of America’s best partners in Africa, but it’s a desperately poor country. It’s been a good cooperation in security cooperation, but it needs our help.
So, really, we’re struggling to find the units that can be trained up to the standards we need.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And so what’s the threat to the U.S. here or threat to U.S. interests?
PETER PHAM: Well, there’s — Boko Haram is an evolving threat. It’s been evolving for the last several years.
And its alliance and allegiance to the so-called Islamic State presents a new dimension to the challenge. That being said, however, one has to be frank. Boko Haram doesn’t present a direct threat to the United States, but as a growing dynamic, an evolving part of the Islamic State and one that ties down the resources of a number of countries that are critical partners of the United States in West Africa, it does pose a challenge to U.S. interests.
And so I think the best way to approach it is the way the administration has already taken, which is building up partner capability to nip the challenge at the bud.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, given how long we have been working with trainers on the ground there, will the addition of this 300 make a difference?
PETER PHAM: I think it will make a difference marginally in Cameroon. We have got a very well-trained unit, but it’s not trained for the desert warfare, the counterinsurgency, the anti-terrorism operations it needs.
And so this will help take them to that level. The intelligence information being gathered will also be helpful. but let’s be realistic. It’s going to take a lot of time to build up that multinational force, to train up all the elements.
So we’re really in for the long haul, not only the United States, but the other partners of West Africa, France and other countries.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And I’m assuming that we’re supplying drones for intelligence gathering as well?
PETER PHAM: Yes, the drones, our Predators are going to be deployed in Cameroon together with manned aircraft that are already in the region operating in other countries, and this will build a better, broader picture of what’s going on.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Peter Pham, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, thanks so much.
PETER PHAM: Thank you.
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WASHINGTON — Joe Biden is sending out an unmistakable “forget-me-not” plea for 2016, brushing past signs of a Hillary Rodham Clinton resurgence with fresh and direct suggestions he could be on the verge of entering the presidential race.
The vice president’s political team broke its months-long silence on the subject with a letter circulated by one of Biden’s closest friends and top advisers. In the letter, though Biden is still officially undecided, former Sen. Ted Kaufman describes a “campaign from the heart” that Biden would wage and says a decision isn’t far off.
“If he decides to run, we will need each and every one of you – yesterday,” Kaufman says temptingly, alluding to the breakneck speed at which Biden would have to ramp up a campaign.
To its recipients – Biden’s former Senate, White House and campaign staffers – Thursday’s letter smacked of an unambiguous indication Biden was all but green-lighting a presidential campaign. Several individuals familiar with the letter say it was circulated with Biden’s blessing. The individuals weren’t authorized to comment publicly and requested anonymity.
For his part, Biden has been silent on the issue for weeks while allowing his own self-imposed deadlines to fly by. His indecision has led many Democratic leaders to publicly write off his prospects, particularly as Clinton revels in a strong debate performance and an impressive stretch of fundraising, solidifying her status as the Democratic front-runner.
Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders both announced this week they’d raised more than $25 million in their last three-month stretch, a potent reminder that many of the Democratic establishment’s donors and top players have already committed to a declared candidate.
To some Democrats, Biden runs the risk of being perceived as a spoiler at this point, drawing votes away from Clinton without any substantial prospect for electoral success. In public comments, the GOP is all but laying out a welcome mat.
Even Biden friends and aides remain at a loss to explain exactly what is holding up his decision.
In more than a dozen interviews over the past week, individuals close to the vice president described a man still wrestling with whether he and his family would be well served by campaign pressures while they continue grieving the death of Biden’s son in May. Yet more than two months after Biden began seriously weighing that question, those individuals said it was unclear what could change that would push him from undecided to yes or no.
Still, Biden and his team are approaching their just-in-case preparations for a potential campaign with a new level of seriousness.
This week he has been placing calls to top Democratic strategists in early primary states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to solicit candid assessments of his chances, according to individuals familiar with the calls. Biden’s team has also had detailed conversations with campaign data and analytics experts to determine how quickly he could ramp up the digital side of his campaign, the individuals said.
For Biden’s supporters, including those backing the Draft Biden super PAC, those signals serve as the reassurance they were seeking that their enthusiasm hasn’t been misplaced.
“The steps that we’re seeing toward a potential candidacy are definitely creating some excitement and anticipation and hope in people that this might be happening,” said Mike Cuzzi, a former Obama campaign official in New Hampshire who is supporting the pro-Biden super PAC. He added that Biden’s supporters were “eager for him to make a determination.”
Clinton’s supporters feel the same, but for different reasons. After her widely lauded performance in Tuesday’s debate, her campaign chairman told reporters it was time for Biden to make up his mind.
Clinton herself said in an interview with The Boston Globe that she had discussed the campaign with Biden a few months ago.
“I said: ‘You know, Joe, this is totally up to you and your family. We were friends before, we will be friends after, whatever you decide,'” she told the newspaper.
Republicans, meanwhile, have been pining for a Biden campaign, in hopes that a more combative Democratic primary would weaken Clinton.
“Right now there’s no question Joe Biden would be the toughest candidate for Republicans to beat in the general election,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Allison Moore.
The lack of certainty has also put President Barack Obama in a delicate position, caught between loyalties to his vice president and his former secretary of state. “I’m not going to comment on what Joe’s doing or not doing,” Obama said Friday, describing Biden as his “very able vice president.”
Most recent polls show a hypothetical Biden candidacy running third, behind both Clinton and Sanders, with support in the high teens. Biden appears to primarily draw voters who would otherwise lean toward supporting Clinton. Surveys have shown a recent uptick in positive opinions of Biden nationally, with 85 percent of Democrats viewing him positively in a Gallup Poll this month.
In the letter, Kaufman offered the first clues to Biden’s rationale for a run, describing an “optimistic” campaign that would focus on expanding middle-class opportunity and protecting Obama’s legacy. He also drew an implicit contrast with Clinton, who has been criticized by some as appearing calculated or overly choreographed.
“I think it’s fair to say, knowing him as we all do, that it won’t be a scripted affair,” Kaufman said. “After all, it’s Joe.”
Associated Press writers Emily Swanson and Ken Thomas contributed to this report.
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The new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is in Jerusalem for talks with senior Israeli leaders, as violence spikes around the country.
This is U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford’s first overseas trip since taking the job Oct. 1. He will meet with Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, the commander-in-chief of the Israel Defense Forces and others.
Navy Capt. Greg Hicks says the latest violence may come up in meetings, but Dunford’s visit was long-planned and his goal is to meet his Israeli counterparts and reaffirm America’s commitment to Israel. He also will visit other countries in the region.
The violence has been fueled in part by Palestinian fears that Israel is trying to expand its presence at a major Muslim-run shrine in Jerusalem. Israel denies that claim.
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WASHINGTON — Rep. Trey Gowdy is a man under fierce pressure as he leads a congressional Benghazi investigation that’s dismissed by Democrats as partisan and even questioned by some fellow Republicans.
The former prosecutor and three-term South Carolina Republican known for his “Southern politeness” is pressing ahead, determined to get the facts about the long night of Sept. 11, 2012, when extremists hit two U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, and killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
On Thursday, as chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, faces the star witness in the 17-month, Republican-led investigation that already has surpassed the 1970s-era Watergate probe in length. Hillary Rodham Clinton, secretary of state when the attack happened and now a Democratic presidential candidate, will testify in the highly anticipated hearing on Capitol Hill.
For all the talk of how Clinton used a private email server as secretary, Gowdy pledged in a recent interview that the hearing will be “Benghazi-centric,” focused on security before and during the attacks. Some questions are likely on Clinton’s use of a private email account and server for government business, Gowdy said, but he maintains that his approach may “shock you with fairness.”
Clinton has said the use of a private server was a mistake.
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The 51-year-old Gowdy, boyish-looking with close-cropped silver hair, has cast himself as a fact-finder as he deals with Republicans eager to portray the attacks as a major national security failure of the Obama administration and Democrats who call the inquiry a pointless partisan exercise after some seven other investigations into the raids.
Gowdy has conducted most of the committee’s work behind closed doors while holding just three public hearings in 17 months, the last one in January. The panel has interviewed more than 50 witnesses- including seven eyewitnesses whom Gowdy says were never questioned by other congressional committees – and reviewed thousands of documents about security lapses, the military response and the administration’s initial, inaccurate accounts of why the attacks occurred.
House Speaker John Boehner, the driving force behind creation of the committee in May 2014, said he chose Gowdy, a member of the 2010 tea party class, because “he is one of the most professional, capable and respected members of Congress.”
“Time and time again, Trey has proven that he is the best person to ensure the American people know the truth about what happened in Benghazi,” Boehner, R-Ohio, told The Associated Press in a statement.
Democrats counter that the $4.5 million inquiry is a costly partisan hunt to destroy Clinton’s White House bid and complain that they have been frozen out of some of the committee interviews. They point to the recent comments of two Republicans who suggested Clinton is the panel’s target.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said last month that the committee can take credit for Clinton’s diminished public standing in recent months, a comment he later retracted. On Wednesday, Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., who is not on the committee, said “a big part” of the Benghazi investigation was designed to go after Clinton.
“At this point, Trey Gowdy’s inquiry has zero credibility left,” said Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon. Clinton called the panel an “arm of the Republican National Committee.”
Gowdy is on the defensive on another front, too.
A former Republican staffer recently said he was unlawfully fired in part because he sought a comprehensive probe into the attacks instead of focusing on Clinton. Air Force Reserve Maj. Bradley Podliska also complained that the committee was engaged in social activities such as an informal wine club nicknamed “Wine Wednesdays.”
Gowdy said Podliska was fired for mishandling classified information and other mistakes.
Still, the chairman felt compelled to issue a statement saying his panel “is not focused on Secretary Clinton, and to the extent we have given any attention to Clinton, it is because she was secretary of state at all relevant times covered by this committee’s jurisdiction.”
Whatever criticism, Gowdy is acutely aware that Thursday’s hearing is likely to be the committee’s make-or-break moment, where he can revive its credibility or see it widely discredited.
Republicans blame Democrats for the partisan breakdown and say Gowdy has been patient with the administration as he seeks documents from the State Department and other agencies.
“He’s a lot more patient than I would have been,” said Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., a member of the committee.
Gowdy is “bending over backward” for Democrats who “have not lifted one finger to help us in the fact-discovery process,” Pompeo said.
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said he believes Gowdy was sincere in “saying from the beginning that he wanted to do this right. But it just hasn’t happened. It has not played out the way that Rep. Gowdy said it would.”
Before the fierce partisanship, Gowdy allowed Smith to participate in a hearing via Skype after the congressman was sidelined by surgery.
Another panel member, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Gowdy “is under immense pressure” from his party to deliver something after 17 months.
Schiff, who has called for the committee to be disbanded, said he likes Gowdy, but “the intense and partisan focus of the committee on Secretary Clinton above all else has made our work on the committee difficult, to say the least.”
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Early last year, Congress passed a Farm Bill authorizing a wide range of federal agricultural programs. Tucked away in that legislation was an amendment granting states and universities the right to research a plant that has long been banned from cultivation in the United States — hemp.
Hemp production was banned throughout the United States in 1937, with the passing of the Marihuana Tax Act. Two weeks ago, North Carolina’s House and Senate passed a bill that would legalize the production of industrial hemp in the state.
Marijuana and hemp are varieties of cannabis that developed due to selective breeding: Hemp for its fiber and marijuana for its narcotic components.
While the two look and smell-alike, they are chemically and structurally different.
The major difference between the two is the levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — or the chemical in marijuana that gets people high. Hemp has virtually no trace of THC, while pot has around 10 percent; some strains of marijuana can have as much as 27 percent THC.
Here are eight things you may not have known about hemp.
1. Hemp will not get you high, but it may give you a headache.
Hemp contains just .3 percent of THC, the chemical that can cause feelings of euphoria. If you were to ingest hemp seeds with the hopes of getting high, you won’t — and you might get a headache instead.
You might also feel as if you had taken a strong laxative, as studies have shown hemp seed to have significant constipation-curing qualities.
2. Natives of a small island off the coast of China may have been the first to use hemp.
Archaeologists found pottery bearing impressions of cannabis cord, while unearthing a Stone Age Taiwanese village, according to the 1980 book, “Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years” by Ernest L. Abel.
On mainland China during Second Century B.C., people made clothes from hemp.
And hemp’s use as a cloth for swaddling infants and covering the bodies of the dead was mentioned in the sacred Confucian texts known as the “Book of Rites”.
3. Common household items can be made with hemp, from birdseed to ice cream.
Hemp fiber has long been valued for its strength and versatility.
The North American Industrial Hemp Council estimates that hemp can be used to make more than 25,000 products, from the paper pages of Bibles to building materials for homes.
The fibers were used to make rope, boat caulking and sails during the time of the Vikings. The word canvas can be traced back to the Greek kannabis and Latin cannabis, or hemp.
Historians claim America’s first flags were made of hemp cloth.
Henry Ford fashioned a car panel from a plastic derived from straw, pine, hemp and ramie in order to help farmers during the Great Depression, according to a Aug. 14, 1941 New York Times article.
And because hemp oil penetrates better than linseed oil, it has been used as an industrial lubricant, Charles T. Ambrose of the University of Kentucky School of Medicine and the author of “Transylvania University and its Hemp Connection” told PBS NewsHour.
Just last week, Bruce Dietzen drove from Florida to Colorado in a fiery red convertible made out of hemp. Dietzen modeled the car that runs on corn after Mazda’s sporty Miata.
“One version gets you high. The other version you can make a car out of. They’re both cannabis,” he told the Denver Post.
4. In the 1600s, property owners in North America had to grow hemp.
By way of a royal decree, King James I required every property owner in Jamestown to grow 100 plants of hemp for export in 1619, according to “Hemp: American History Revisited: The Plant with a Divided History” by Robert Deitch.
Jamestown Colony was England’s first permanent settlement in North America run by the Virginia Company.
The hemp was used to provide cordage and canvas for British ships, Ambrose said.
Similar hemp decrees were later issued in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
5. What do Woody Harrelson and Mitch McConnell have in common?
Why a fondness for hemp, of course.
The former “Cheers” star and current Senate majority leader and Kentucky’s state senator have been on separate, but parallel crusades to make hemp legal again in the U.S.
In 1996, Harrelson planted four hemp seeds in rural Kentucky and was arrested, CBS reported. Charges of marijuana possession were later dropped.
He then made a movie called “Hempsters: Plant the Seed” in 2010.
McConnell, who represents the state that first began growing hemp in the 1770s and went on to become a major producer, harvesting 15,000 tons per year in the 1840s to 40,000 tons per year by the 1850s, started his own hemp crusade in 2013.
“We are laying the groundwork for a new commodity market for Kentucky farmers,” McConnell told Politico Magazine. “And by exploring innovative ways to use industrial hemp to benefit a variety of Kentucky industries, the pilot programs could help boost our state’s economy and lead to future jobs.”
6. Hemp for Victory!
That was the name of a U.S. Department of Agriculture-run program to encourage farmers to grow hemp during World War II.
Faced with a shortage of Manila hemp that was imported and used in ship’s rigging, the U.S. government had to act quickly.
The answer? Grow hemp on U.S. soil, where it had thrived – especially in Kentucky – more than a century before.
For decades the program was thought to be a myth, until the late 1980s, when a group of hemp activists reportedly found copies of the “Hemp for Victory” video in the Library of Congress archives.
7. Hemp seed contains a nutrient also found in breast milk.
The Oil found in hemp seed is rich in gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a nutritious unsaturated fatty acid, which is also found in breast milk.
In addition to GLA, hemp seed oil is packed with other omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, making it a healthier alternative to many other vegetable oils, Ambrose told PBS NewsHour.
8. Leftover hemp stalks can be used to store energy.
Last year, a team of scientists led by David Mitlin at the University of Alberta made a supercapacitor, an energy storage device, out of leftover hemp, the BBC reported.
While supercapacitors store less energy than regular batteries, they can be charged in a shorter amount of time and deliver that energy in a speedier fashion.
Mitlin told the PBS NewsHour that these supercapacitors are great for things that need a fast, potent burst of energy — like charging an iPhone in minutes for two hours of talk time.
For their experiment, Mitlin’s team cooked down discarded hemp stalks that were being stored by the government in Alberta, Canada, where it is legal to grow industrial hemp.
Want to learn even more about hemp? Tune in to PBS NewsHour Weekend tonight for a report from Kentucky, where officials and farmers are experimenting with creating a new industry around this plant.
FRANKFORT, Ky. — A defiant Rand Paul is brushing off weak fundraising and weaker poll numbers as would-be donors and home state Republicans push him to abandon an uphill presidential bid to focus on his Senate re-election.
While showing some frustration, the first-term Kentucky senator this week claimed his superior political organization would prove wrong those doubting his chances in the White House contest. At the same time, he released fundraising numbers that place him squarely in the bottom tier of the GOP’s 2016 class over the last three months, a painful symbol of stalled momentum for the libertarian favorite who was considered a major presidential contender earlier in the year.
Despite the early hype, Paul has failed to tap into the national anti-establishment sentiment that fueled his father’s national ambitions just four years ago.
“Rand’s missed his opportunity,” said Gary Heavin, a Texas billionaire who accompanied Paul on a three-day humanitarian mission to Haiti over the summer.
“I wanted to support him because he’s the real deal, but his strategy is just awful,” continued Heavin, the founder of the health club franchise Curves. “He is going to be a very, very effective senator.”
Specifically, Heavin said Paul went after rival Donald Trump so aggressively that he alienated anti-establishment voters who might have supported him.
But back in Kentucky, a growing chorus of Republicans suggested that Paul’s Senate re-election was by no means guaranteed, despite the state’s strong GOP leanings and the lack of a clear Democratic challenger.
“He could lose both positions,” said Patricia Vincent, chairwoman of the Graves County Republican Party. “He just needs to work a little bit more to make sure he still has a seat in the Senate.”
While Paul’s national numbers hover in the low single digits, he continues to divert resources from his Senate campaign to his presidential bid.
Last month, he raised $250,000 for the state GOP to fund a presidential caucus instead of its usual primary. The switch to a caucus allows Paul to run for president and Senate at the same time.
Doug Stafford, Paul’s chief strategist, released a memo on Thursday pushing back on what he called the “false narrative” that Paul’s campaign is struggling. He cited Paul’s recent straw poll victories in New Hampshire and polls from national conservative groups, adding that Paul “always comes in first when people are actually voting.” Straw polls and opinion polls, however, are not the same as actual voting, which begins with the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses.
Indeed, pollsters have struggled to predict results for recent elections. Some suspect that polling showing high support for real estate mogul Donald Trump, for example, includes many respondents who won’t show up on Election Day.
But that’s a hard sell for some Republicans in Kentucky.
“I can’t see what he’s holding out for,” said Casey County Republican Party Chairman William Wethingon. “If I were in his position, I think, looking at the numbers, I think I would focus more on my Senate seat.”
National Republicans agree.
The GOP is deeply concerned about retaining its eight-seat Senate majority. Forced to defend 24 incumbents – seven of them in states President Barack Obama won in 2012 – the party cannot afford to spend money on what should be an easy Kentucky victory next fall. Some fear that his focus on the presidential contest leaves him more vulnerable than he realizes.
Even Matt Bevin, Kentucky’s Republican nominee for governor, said he would vote for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson over Paul. Fellow Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, however, says he’s behind Paul.
Not everyone’s concerned.
“Nobody thinks that his seat is in jeopardy,” said Damon Thayer, the majority floor leader of the Kentucky state Senate.
He noted that Paul has no Democratic opponent, as the most likely candidates are tied up in re-election campaigns for their state offices. But that election is Nov. 3, clearing the way for a Democrat, such as state Auditor Adam Edelen, to challenge Paul.
With Paul having a nearly perfect attendance record in the Senate, his team suggests he’s been fulfilling his responsibility to Kentucky voters despite a hectic presidential campaign schedule.
His Senate campaign does have a finance and communications team in place, with a plan to begin hiring more staff next month. For now, Stafford is pulling double duty advising both of Paul’s campaigns. Paul ultimately plans to hire a separate campaign manager for his Senate race.
Dave Compton, vice chairman of the Pike County Republican Party, said it’s not time to panic about either one of Paul’s 2016 campaigns.
“Right now I think he’s pretty safe in the Senate,” Compton said. “If he doesn’t turn it around within the next month or month and a half, that would probably be a good decision to make, to drop out.”
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MILAN — The stability of the world is directly linked to climate change and its impact on food security for billions of people, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday.
In a speech to the Milan Expo, Kerry argued that unrest tied to climate change-induced agricultural failure poses an international threat. The Milan Expo is focused on food security, and Kerry urged attendants to act quickly against climate change.
“Make no mistake: The implications here extend well beyond hunger,” Kerry said. “This isn’t only about global food security; it’s about global security – period.”
He said drought-spawned mass urban migration in Syria – up to 1.5 million people from rural areas to cities – exacerbated political tensions ahead of the start of that country’s civil war, which has contributed to the world’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.
“I’m not suggesting the crisis in Syria was caused by climate change – obviously, it wasn’t,” Kerry said. “It was caused by a brutal dictator who barrel-bombed, starved, tortured and gassed his own people. But the devastating drought clearly made a bad situation a lot worse.”
Kerry urged world government to act quickly against climate change because without such action, he said, “the horrific refugee situation we’re facing today will pale in comparison to the mass migrations that intense droughts, sea-level rise and other impacts of climate change are likely to bring about.”
“The hard truth is that unless the global community comes together to address climate change, every one of these challenges – droughts, floods, extreme weather, ocean acidification, hunger and malnutrition – will only become more pronounced,” he said.
In addition to dealing with the broader global security challenges of climate change, Kerry said the immediate issue of hunger among large segments of the world’s fast-growing population must be addressed. That requires urgent action to regulate fishing, make agriculture sustainable, eliminate waste and bring food to where it is needed.
Kerry is in Italy on the first leg of a three-nation tour of Europe that will also take him to France and Spain.
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A few weeks ago, I slipped in the shower, and after a cartoonish sequence of body contortions, I caught myself while landing. Robots aren’t as lucky. As June’s DARPA Robotics Challenge taught us, when machines fall, they tumble terribly and without the ability to brace themselves.
But those days might be over thanks to a computer program created by scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
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A new algorithm from allows robots to fall with style. Video by Georgia Institute of Technology
As IEEE Spectrum describes, the new algorithm uses “techniques adapted from judo,” allowing a robot to learn how to position its appendages while tumbling.
So rather than the full impact being felt by a single part of the robot, the robot can displace the kinetic energy created during the fall over multiple parts of its body. By learning how to tumble, robots reduced impact intensity to the head by 30 to 90 percent.
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